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

What Jair Bolsonaro’s Unfortunate Brazilian Victory Means

As you may have heard, Jair Bolsonaro has won election in Brazil.

Here are some direct quotes:

“I am in favor of a dictatorship, a regime of exception.”

“The pau-de-arara [a torture technique] works. I’m in favor of torture, you know that. And the people are in favor as well.”

“Through the vote you will not change anything in this country, nothing, absolutely nothing! It will only change, unfortunately, when, one day, we start a civil war here and do the work that the military regime did not do. Killing some 30,000, starting with FHC [then-president Fernando Henrique Cardoso], not kicking them out, killing! If some innocent people are going to die, fine, in any war innocents die.”

“I would not employ [a woman] with the same salary [of a man]. But there are many women who are competent.”

“I’ll give carte blanche for the police to kill.”

‘We are going to gun down all these Workers Party supporters,’ [Bolsonaro] shouted at a later rally, using a tripod to mimic shooting a rifle….

In addition Bolsanaro has:

  • Promised to cut down the Amazon jungle (source of 20 percent of the world’s oxygen) as fast as possible
  • To destroy the remaining indigenous tribes of the Amazon
  • To either send left-wingers into exile or to jail them

Evangelicals, as a group, remain a putrescent abscess wherever they are.

Perhaps even more decisive was the backing Bolsonaro enjoyed among evangelical voters, who account for up to a quarter of the electorate. They proved to be a soft target for the “fake news” spread by his social media campaign, most notably the preposterous claim that Haddad planned to distribute “gay kits” in primary schools instructing teachers to encourage homosexuality.

Jair Bolsonaro

I will remind readers that there was a legislative coup that threw out the left-wing President for corruption (the idea that she was more corrupt than most of the people voting to get rid of her is hilarious). Then the most popular politician in Brazil, Lula, was sent to prison (again, ostensibly on corruption charges) and not allowed to run.

In other words, first the field was cleared of politicians who were almost certainly less corrupt than most Brazilian politicians (and almost certainly no more corrupt), then the right-wing brought in the most extreme politician possible. That politician will now purge the left, in an attempt to ensure right-wing rule for at least a generation, and probably two. (The same thing is currently happening in Argentina.)

The best parallel for Bolsanoro is probably the Phillipines’ Duterte. Lots of extra-judicial murder, lots of corruption for the “right” people, lots of boot in the face for the “wrong” people.

For those outside Brazil, the main issue is the Amazon. If its destruction is significantly sped up (and I see no reason to doubt that it will be), it will make our environmental problems much, much worse.

I’m not a believer, generally speaking, of interfering in other nations’ internal business–and that includes sanctions. But I would support a carrot-and-stick approach with regards to the Amazon: Stop cutting it down and be rewarded (with cold hard cash if necessary); Cut it down, and be brutally cut off from the outside world.

This is because such environmental issues are not just internal political matters.

Finally, I will note that much of what is happening in South America can be explained most simply as “the left was in charge when commodity prices were high, and when they dropped, and economies suffered, the left was blamed.”

That is not all that is happening, of course, but without this, neither Bolsonaro and other similar would-be, bloody-handed authoritarians, nor those who cleared the way for him, like Brazil’s right-wing judges, would have had the social sanction to act.

Those who would run left-wing governments cannot tie their economy’s health to the fickleness of commodity markets. Commodity prices are cyclical and always have been.

It can also be laid at Dilma, being the sort of technocrat left-wing moron who accepted IMF advice and engaged in austerity. The IMF is not your friend if you are left-wing. Ever. Do not accept their advice. (It’s not quite never good, but it’s over 90 percent bad. Bet the odds.)

Bolsonaro will be a disaster for Brazil and a disaster for the world. That is not to say that some Brazilians will not do well under him, some will. Most of those who voted for him, will, however, find that it was not a good, longer-term bet.

(Aside: Merkel has stood down as leader of her party. She was a terrible person, who did great evil (something her cheerleaders constantly elide). She’s still Chancellor, but her days are now numbered. Sadly, Germany will probably replace her with someone worse.)

Update: This is an excellent summary of the history that led to Bolsonaro’s election.

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The Criteria for Forgiveness of Public Policy Mistakes


Fat, Unhealthy, and Poor


  1. Tom

    New Rule for Leftist Parties:

    Stay the hell away from SJW Politics, the heartland doesn’t care and will screw you at the polls.

    Abortion is a vote killer and turns men off. We are just as invested in babies as women and to deny us our say is misandrist and leaves us disinclined to support you as you make it clear that life is a commodity to be disposed of. Every life has potential for good or ill, and snuffing them out before they reach that potential harms us all. Society’s interest in this far outweighs a woman’s interest.

    Focus on jobs in manufacturing sectors. This grows the economy and wins the heartland over to you.

    Do not let degree inflation happen. It should not require people taking 8 years of schooling to become a lawyer or 12 to become a Physician. And college must be hard sciences with no liberal arts which should be on peoples own times and private pursuits. Also make it free and more an apprentice style system of learning.

    What that means is if Joe Smo wants to be a surgeon, then in High School, he takes an EMT course. He passes, he goes on the road and learns basics of trauma and health issues in an ambulance company which the nationalized Ambulance Service places him in based on need. College, he is taking Paramedic Courses paid in full by his Ambulance Company which mentors him through it. He finishes his associate degree in a year and a half and becomes a Paramedic and goes on for his bachelors to become a critical care paramedic specializing in high risk cases. He passes that, he goes to Medical School as a Critical Care Paramedic with much practical experience and when he completes medical school in 4 years, he will be a seasoned fellow.

    For Jane Smo who wants to be a Nurse Practitioner, High School she takes a CNA Course and if she passes, she is assigned to where needed and works through an ASN as a CNA. Once she gets her ASN, she can work where needed as a Registered Nurse and go up BSN, MSN, and finally Nurse Practitioner over 8 years. All paid for with no debt.

    The current system just doesn’t allow this and is crushing people with debt.

    Finally, tax the crap out of the rich and impose a draft with no exceptions so Rich Kids go to the same boot camps as poor kids, spend a year with them or 2, and when they leave compulsorily service, they will have a better appreciation of things and be less assholish to others.

    Finally with regards to the military, only those who have served 6 years as an enlisted can be commissioned as officers. Again, this ensures rich kids don’t dominate the officer corps and corrupt it.

    Focus on these, and the SJW stuff will resolve itself.

  2. Washington Post, “Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said she “absolutely” favors reopening an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh if her party takes control of the chamber next year.

    What happened in Brazil will happen here.

  3. NR


    “Stay the hell away from SJW Politics, the heartland doesn’t care and will screw you at the polls.”

    Destroying all life on Earth to own the libs.

  4. Chiron

    Many Federal Judges in Brazil are under direct American influence , this is all about the Brazilian oil fields that are now being given to American companies at banana price, also Boeing just brought Embraer regional airliner division, where Brazil was a world leader in this aviation market.

    What is gonna happen now is not only the final destruction of the Amazon forest but the total defenestration of the Brazilian industry.

  5. bob mcmanus

    Idly curious if somewhere between Trump and Bolsinaro, Venezuela becomes some kind of target. Don’t know what they could get by invading that would be worth the hassle.

  6. Willy

    Stay the hell away from SJW Politics, the heartland doesn’t care and will screw you at the polls.

    Specific SJW politics I’d think. The original overarching intent was anti-bullying of whatever specific out-group. I’d think an increasing majority wants to agree with anti-bullying, especially the economic kind. Framing this in such a way that the bullies themselves can’t play the victim card is the hard part. And people like Bolsonaro are good at being bullies while pretending to fight for victims.

  7. bruce wilder

    I don’t know much about Brazil’s politics, beyond the extremities of wealth inequality and a plutocratic domination that has starved the country of public goods, including public education, economic regulation and infrastructure for generations, a starvation that was only partially relieved during the recent interval of centre-left governance, however dramatic the results may have been for the time when a commodity boom provided financing.

    I cannot help but project onto Brazil my ideas of how Brazil’s turn to the far-right — knowing that Brazil has been governed historically by the military and/or plutocratic oligarchies for much of its history — forms a pattern with the turn to the right in other polities around the globe, including Germany, mentioned by Ian in an aside. That imposing of a (theoretical?) pattern no doubt does considerable violence to the very different histories and political cultures of countries as disparate as the U.S., Germany, and Brazil, not to even mention Britain or China or Russia.

    Ian cautions that relying on a commodity boom is bad economics for the left. But, the whole world relies for its political economies on collapsing ecologies amidst critical resource depletion.

    In the U.S., we are poisoning the ground water and probably bankrupting a significant section of the financial sector to keep the price of gas down while imagining a future of mass-unemployment due to the technical miracle of self-driving cabs. And the left cannot muster any effective critique of that prospect. The partisan center-left pines for the ancien regime circa 2014 and all the “serious” voices look to Robert Mueller and Russia,Russia,Russia for salvation from Trump, who, yes, lies about everything but still acknowledges reality often enough to keep his support, while the Resistance(tm) touts the non-existent integrity of major media and lives in a bubble.

    The self-driving car is a significant tell, imho, of the political derangement of the U.S. Ten minutes of critical thought, informed by every day experience with technology fails, ought to be enough to convince most people that this is not possible outside of very unusual “toy” situations and, in general, a terrible waste of the political imagination. That it is not possible to muster that ten minutes of critical thinking among the elite punditry or Silicon Valley leadership is a piece, in my mind, with the insistence on the barren Russia,Russia,Russia political narrative of Hillary Clinton’s fail.

    It is as if the whole ruling class is so frightened by reality and its prospects, and so reckless of the consequences of its neoliberal stewardship for the nation and the world, that even as it is watching its centrist pretensions erode away, it prefers paralysis to power. And in the U.S. at least (cannot speak to Brazil or the rest of the world), this is intensely true of the establishment neoliberal left. And, equally concerning is the extent to which the almost vanishingly small and powerless insurgent left clings to slim hopes of affecting the Democratic Party while rejecting the absolute imperative to contest populism. It is simply not possible for the left to take power without winning the contest for what used to be called “working class” support. And, yet, much of the soi disant left is persuaded to shun the deplorables. The right is able to deploy the evangelicals to great effect as Ian notes.

  8. scruff

    Perhaps I am falling into irreparable cynicism, but I cannot help but think that everything listed as a factor in this sort of electoral shift is just not enough to explain it. As bad as the economic decision of the prior left were in Brazil, how could it push the populace toward rampant murder and ecocide if the corrupt character that would enable such things were not already rising? SJW politics (which I maintain is right-wing and not left-wing) can be really bad, but not so bad that it in itself makes people willing to support genocide, unless those people were already genocide supporters in their hearts to begin with. And abortion is a non-issue for anyone with a healthy social development, quite frankly. There’s no logically consistent connection between the pathological need to protect all human life and voting for a government which explicitly tells you it wants to end a bunch of human life.

    None of this explains well enough why such reactions would be so extreme. Brazil – like America – isn’t some hypothetical survival thought experiment where you get to choose from a handful of stereotypes to rule the country. So your left-wing government messed up its economic decision making? The sensible response is to elect someone who would be better at that task, not to swing wildly to the furthest opposite edge of the political map. Surely something else is happening here.

  9. Chiron

    @Bruce Wilder

    Russiagate damaged the Democrats much more than Trump or the GOP, also Evangelicalism is a political project and not a religious one, it’s about keeping the poor more concerned with God than unions or labor rights, it was intentionally created this way in the USA and exported to the rest of the world.

    The left losing the working class has long been a CIA project;

    Feminism? Gloria Steinem worked for the CIA.

    Modern Art? CIA spended millions to promote it.

    The CIA and US State Department had something called the “Anti-Soviet Left” or “Anti-Stalinist Left” during the Cold War, the intention of marginalizing or destroying the Economic populist Left has always been their number one priority, the modern American Left that is being exported to the rest of the world is totally harmless to big business and entirely ineffectual in elections.

  10. Herman

    @bruce wilder,

    The failure to criticize technology in a serious way is perhaps the biggest problem with modern society. We are all held hostage by this idea that tech will save us. Everything from self-driving cars to robot nurses are hyped as the answers to our problems. Of course, some of these same people who hype tech are also progressives who supposedly care about the environment. They rarely connect the dots between their beloved gadgets and the environmental and human destruction needed to produce their favorite toys.

    For example, see this article on the environmental and human costs of rare earth metal mining. It is an older article but it points to issues that pro-tech progressives usually don’t like to discuss:

    As for Bolsonaro, social media has helped him just as much as it helped Trump and Italy’s Matteo Salvini and other right-wing populists. This is another area where all of the happy talk about tech turned out to be wrong. We thought social media would empower citizens and make them better informed but instead social media seems to help extremists spread misinformation and conspiracy theories. Social media is the perfect platform to spread lies and conspiracy theories, to bully people, to doxx people and basically drive decent people out of politics. Even left-wing social media is full of backbiting, gossiping and “call-out culture” where everyone is paralyzed by the fear that they will be next on the social media chopping block. Social media has helped to shape the narcissistic, judgmental personalities that are so common today.


    The Jacobin article discusses this excellent study on the rise of perfectionism due to neoliberalism and social media.

    Bolsonaro and others like him feed off of very real problems in society. Austerity, corruption, unemployment and crime are all real problems in Brazil just like they are in America. Conservatives, especially religious conservatives like evangelicals, are highly motivated and well-organized .The poor and working-class are demoralized so it is easy for highly-motivated minorities to win elections.

    The collapse of the Soviet Union destroyed the ideological appeal of leftism. The Soviet Union was once looked to as a model of alternative development, especially in the Third World. During much of the 20th century one-third of the world’s population lived under socialist rule. Even some religious people were attracted to socialism as shown by the popularity of liberation theology before Pope John Paul II put the hammer down on the Catholic liberation theologians, an unfortunate decision that I think has helped produce the opening for right-wing evangelicals to step into the void and win converts in Latin America.

    The left needs to develop an inspirational ideology that can counteract the very real power of right-wing populism. Identity politics, call-out-culture, multicultural meritocracy and technocratic liberalism won’t cut it. Those things don’t inspire anyone except maybe some student activists and affluent professionals in big city enclaves.

    A revived religious left would be a good thing because it would have the kind of deep, meaningful appeal that Marxism once had for millions of people. A new religious left would be a good counter to the rise of right-wing evangelicalism and other right-wing manifestations of religion. Secular humanism has not succeeded in this sphere because it lacks any inherent meaning that can inspire most people. Instead secular humanism lends itself to failed technocratic liberalism.

  11. atcooper

    My sense, here in the US, is that folks know, deep down, the harm being done. The violence committed abroad, the degradation of civil life, the raping of ecologies, the atomizing. And the reaction towards much more trivial matters is a kind of projection made in despair.

  12. Bill Hicks

    This election represents the approaching end of the neoliberal order, just as the rise of the fascists and communists similarly represented the end of world order the last time globalization was crushed amidst an economic crashed caused by unbridled speculation in the increasingly fraudulent financial markets. The difference this time is there will be no New Deal that keeps the U.S. from succumbing to right wing authoritarianism, nor does the planet have sufficient remaining resources to provide a hopeful future to a majority of its population. Even if we paid Brazil’s new regime not to destroy the remaining rainforest, who can doubt that the money won’t end up stolen by the elites of the country as most foreign aid is?

  13. Willy

    A religious left might be too Christian for evangelicals. And half of Catholics think Pope Francis is too liberal. If polled, I’m guessing that more Christians would trust badboy Trump than they would St. Frank even if the latter is wearing the Offical Shoes of the Fisherman. Think about how messed up that is.

  14. ocop

    @bob mcmanus:

    Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world, and a conveniently dysfunctional “left-wing” government to beat up on.

  15. Hugh

    We are devolving. We are faced with the existential threats of overpopulation and climate change. We need honest discussion, clear thinking, serious leaders. What we are getting/choosing is dishonest, anti-think clowns, thugs, and quacks. Bolsonaro, Duterte, Erdogan, Putin, Trump, the list goes on and grows. We are headed toward the abyss, and these people not only aren’t changing direction, they’re hitting the accelerator and shooting anyone who points out this is what they’re doing.

    Before Bolsonaro, I thought that Brazil had a less than 50% chance of surviving what’s coming. With Bolsonaro, I would say it’s 35% and decreasing.

    Re Merkel, just a few months ago, she was supposed to assume the role of leader of the Western world, which Trump had abdicated, at least that was the Establishment line. I agree with Ian, good riddance. Merkel and the Germans wanted to run Europe and they have managed instead to run it into the ground.

  16. Herman


    Yes, you are right about that. Christianity has its ideological divisions just like Islam and Judaism. Much evil has been done in the name of religion, but also a lot of good. Lately I have been reading about Catholic participation in the European labor movement in the 19th century and 20th century. These social Catholics faced opposition from conservative Catholics and even sometimes from the Vatican. Many of them made unholy alliances with fascists in the name of family values and anti-communism. A smaller number joined the anti-fascist resistance. After World War II Catholic and Protestant trade unionists played a key role in developing the Western European model of social welfare/social market capitalism.

    A religious left would face a lot of opposition from the religious right but there are some hopeful signs. I am normally skeptical about generational analysis but there is some evidence that younger Christians might not be as conservative as their parents.

    I would also say that a religious left doesn’t have to be Christian or Jewish or Muslim or even necessarily theistic in the classical sense. It could include Buddhists or other Eastern religions that don’t fit the Abrahamic style of spirituality or belief in the divine. But spiritualism is something the left needs to look at again. The religious right succeeds because it gives people a more meaningful worldview than naked materialism. “You are just a meat robot, the universe has no meaning” doesn’t really inspire most people. It can easily produce despair when life isn’t going well.

  17. Plenue


    “Abortion is a vote killer and turns men off.”

    Speak for yourself. Her body; she has final say.

    “We are just as invested in babies as women”

    Oh, really? We carry them for the better part of year before painfully and dangerously expelling them from our bodies, do we? And are then generally expected to do the bulk of the work raising them?

    “Do not let degree inflation happen. It should not require people taking 8 years of schooling to become a lawyer or 12 to become a Physician.”

    You’re not getting anywhere near me with a scalpel without at least a decade of schooling.

    “And college must be hard sciences with no liberal arts which should be on peoples own times and private pursuits.”

    It’s at least refreshing to see someone be completely up front about how they loathe Plato’s Academy and want higher education to be solely about churning out good little cogs in the capitalist machine. Your nightmare vision is that all schools be trade schools.

  18. Chiron

    “the modern American Left that is being exported to the rest of the world is totally harmless to big business and entirely ineffectual in elections.”

    I would like to emphasize this point, I just looked the Huffpost Brazil site, and I didn’t see anything extremely anti-Bolsonaro even if the site advertise itself for “women, LGBT,..”. The SJW American Left is a Trojan Horse on the world wide struggle against Fascism.

  19. sglover

    And already a warm welcome from the casino swindler is in the works:

    Trump said he had an “excellent call” congratulating Bolsonaro and tweeted about their plans to “work closely together on trade, military and everything else!”

    The local oligarchs are happy, too:

    Investors were quick to cheer Bolsonaro’s victory, sending Brazil’s benchmark Bovespa stock index .BVSP to an all-time high in early trading before turning negative as traders booked profits following a sharp rally this month.

  20. bob mcmanus

    Rob Urie: Liberalism is the link between capitalism and fascism, not its antithesis.

    No. Fascism is residual feudalism added to imperialist capitalism. There were three sides in the thirty year civil war. But fascism was as much a reaction to liberalism as to socialism.

    I dislike the conspiracy side of the neoliberal analysis, Arendt, Mirowski, Robin. Liberalism has a lot more going in it than Smith and Locke and Mill (and Calhoun) but really is all about freedom, the freedom of the enclosed farmer to get a job in the textile mill. Or die.

    And neoliberalism is about so much more than schemes of Hayek and Friedman. It is also about freedom, because now you can be gay and purple-haired and work for six months good money and go camping in Nepal. If you have the cv and connections. Otherwise die in the sweatshop. Your choice still.

    Neoliberalism is about choice, about choosing chains. Fascism is always about force, coercion.

  21. Stirling Newberry

    This is what the end of conservatism looks like. It gets ugly before it gets better.

  22. NR


    “You’re not getting anywhere near me with a scalpel without at least a decade of schooling.”

    Amen to that. And beyond just medical skill, it’s also important that our doctors understand the value of human life and dignity, which is something those liberal arts disciplines that Tom hates so much teaches (among many other equally important things). So if his vision of education really represents what the “heartland” thinks education should be, that’s not a vision I want any part of.

  23. bob mcmanus

    I don’t think it gets better.

    Rather than Marxsplain what kind of subterranean geopolitical force socialism was 1870-1910 such that it caused WWI & WWII I’ll use an analogy or homologue.

    Socialism is to (imperialist capitalist) liberalism and (ancien regime) fascism as…

    …facebook is to Clintonism and Trumpism. Facebook (and twitter and youtube etc) isn’t socialism (actually probably anarchism) itself it is the media that carries it, a formal institution that can only carry advanced and accelerating and inevitable inter-connectedness. Just like telephones and railroads last time.

    The age of liberal nationstates, actually a symbiosis between source-states and settler states is over. It was based on establishing a boundary or border (like surrealism, trotskyism) and then collectively deciding who and what to bring in. To include. Which meant to also exclude from citizenship, usually indigenous and racialized colonial populations.

    Settler states is over, and the problem now with our current post-post technological level is that we are losing the ability to exclude and enforce our borders and boundaries. Like trolls on a blog comment section or asylum seekers at a border or white men or black lesbians we can’t keep those jerks out of our faces anymore. We can only ourselves exit alone.

    This loss of control of connectivity and community is a material technological fact that is driving the politics and economics. It would end in utopia and dystopia if we had the time. We don’t.

  24. Tom


    Your body ceases being yours when you become pregnant. That is another life you carry which is vital for the future health of society. As genetic memory is a thing, you are also passing your knowledge up to the point you became pregnant to your child. This is how Savants are born, they didn’t have a natural talent, their parents passed on their skills in genetic memory.

    Also it takes two to tangle, as a male provided the vital element and determined the sex of the child. When we hear we are to be fathers, 9 times out of 10 we are overjoyed. Aborting our child is devastating and until relatively recently the courts were firmly on our side, even Plato who you praise was also anti-abortion.

    As for raising them, that is irrelevant to the abortion debate. But lets go along this line, if you don’t want the child and the father is a dead beat, give the child up for adoption. There are plenty of infertile couples that will gladly take the child.

    If you do raise the child, it is a gift that will bring the greatest of joys. Having two Infants now, a boy and girl, sure they are quite demanding , but they will inherit my medical training and my wife’s woodworking skills from our genes and that knowledge will be passed on as they enter into school and that stored genetic information is unpacked.

    What will be your genetic legacy? If you don’t have one child, it will be nothing, and you will have contributed nothing to humanity.

    As for medical training. I have now been a paramedic for 6 months, an EMT for 3 years, and a CNA for 3 years before that. I have delivered 6 babies and a set of twins. Not counting my own which were home births. In my six months as a paramedic:

    I have done two surgical trachs, diagnosed 4 STEMIs, performed one field amputation, done 2 intubations, dealt with 3 sucking chest wounds, and saved 17 out of 49 cardiac arrest patients (Which is good given time delays from when arrests are reported and when I arrive, so learn CPR and help improve other’s chances of survival).

    I had a year and a half of training to become a Paramedic, I left able to do surgical tracheotomies. I am going into Critical Care Paramedic Training next year, when I leave that, I will be able to do blood tranfusions and advance drug therapies, and even c-sections.

    So yeah, if you are unable to breath, the last thing on your mind is whether I spent 10 years learning surgery. You’ll just want me to save your life.

    Also in WW2 Pharmacist Mates on Submarines performed Appendectomies even under depth charge attacks. These guys weren’t doctors, and subs did not rate doctors in those days. Not one person died from Pharmacist Mates doing Appendectomies.

    Also Medicine is a trade, a trade that has a shortage of people because the costs are too high and the need to take liberal arts courses which have zero bearing on the job, trip too many people up.

    As for liberal arts teaching ethics: Don’t make me laugh. You either have good ethics or you don’t. All the crooks of 2008 had taken ethics courses and were well versed in the classics and were still devoid of ethics.

  25. Ché Pasa


    What is this “we” of which we speak? If we believe — as I tend to — that we are witness to the implosion of the nation-state/imperial paradigm, then we must be able to define a “we” apart from it.

    Are “we” the smart people, the well-off people, the lucky few who somehow have the means and the skill to navigate the troubles to come? Are we passive onlookers? Do we share a national and cultural identity? Is it shared widely, or only by some — the included, the adepts?

    Are we in sync with the global rise of proto-fascists, crypto-fascists, and outright fascists? Is this the future we seek? If not, whose future is it? And what do we do about it?

    Bolsonaro seems to have triggered something visceral in both his acolytes and the opposition. He, seemingly, is the Real Deal, whereas fakers and con-men like Trump aren’t. So we in the USA can rest easy, right, because Trumpism isn’t that bad compared to Bolsonaro or Duterte, or any of the other murderous dictators Trumpists align themselves with. He’s just a joke, right? And too incompetent to do too much harm. Relax. Don’t worry. Everything will be all right.

    But you see, we’re well into the next phase of TINA. We don’t get to go back to some less fraughtful time, nor is it useful any more to analyze and blame the errors of the past for
    the looming disasters of the present and future. What we do as a polity matters very little to those who have joined and are joining together to rule us — with the lash if need be.

    Dissent of any kind is becoming doubleplus ungood. And in any fascist system it cannot be tolerated; unity of thought and action are requirements for membership in whatever sort of nation — or not-nation — emerges from the current chaos. Bolsonaro makes no bones about eliminating his opponents one way or another. There will be unity — or else.

    And that is how these systems operate.

    “We” had little say in the prior system. We will have none in what is to come — except of course to cheer our leaders on whatever they do or say as if our lives depended on it.

    For some of us, that’s enough, right?

  26. highrpm

    to the heartland labelers: identity politics. stop bandying it about. i live in the heartland. like inumerable microbiota residing in the human body, the city has all the cultures of the nation-state. chose the one that fits. diversity, and that includes the microcultures spread across the land, is our strength — cue: laugh/ cough/ fistycuffs.

  27. XFR

    The Roman historians Livy, Plutarch and others blamed the decline of Rome on creditors holding the rest of the economy in debt, foreclosing on the land, and ending up concentrating all the land ownership in their own hands. The result was impoverishment throughout the western Roman Empire, that is western Europe. Byzantium was relatively free of this.

    In order to survive, laborers had to become clients of a wealthy creditor or landowner. That was serfdom. The essence of serfdom was that all the economic surplus was turned over to the landowner, and the serf owed military duty to the landlord, owed the crops to the landlord, and was supposed to be assured the bare minimum subsistence needed to live.

    History stopped because progress stopped, investment stopped, literacy stopped. The money economy dried up for the 99%. The only money that was spent was by the lords at the top who lived in their manors and would continue to buy luxuries for themselves. But the vast majority of the population lived at subsistence levels.

    This idea of serfdom has been rechristened the “end of history” by Francis Fukuyama who wrote a book on that a few years ago, after America defeated Russia in the Cold War. He said that the neoliberal world would make itself eternal. All power to the banks. It would be a wonderful world. The banks will take care of us and history has stopped evolving. We don’t need any more changes. All we need is to let the new status quo unfold.

    That’s what we’re moving toward today. The new status quo is repeating what happened in the Roman Empire. People are falling more and more into debt, they’re losing their homes. Home ownership is falling, they’re more and more dependent on their employers. Labor unions are losing their power, because the workers are afraid to go on strike or even to protest working conditions. If they protest or strike they will be fired and they’re one paycheck away from homelessness or losing their house. So the population has lost it’s independence – and there’s an increasing dependency on employers.

  28. highrpm

    A period of brutally enforced wage restraint brought back prosperity, at the cost of massively increased inequality, — conor foley
    gee. some similarity to the present state of american society? thanks to ronnie boy for starting the inequality capitalism — read privatization — ball rolling. (how is jeffrey boy bezos’ 100+ billion in personal wealth a celebration of democracy? when twenty percent of the 25 – 39 year olds w/ bachelors degrees are carrying student load debt burdens.)

  29. highrpm

    Brazilian politics are notoriously corrupt, and no party has ever had a majority in its fractured Congress. Vote buying is routine. The verb malufar (named after one of São Paulo´s most nefarious politicians) was created to describe ´one who steals public money´ while the phrase ´rouba mas faz´ is often applied as a political compliment, meaning ´he steals but he gets things done´. Brazilians, not surprisingly, are sick of this state of affairs, — conor foley
    how does this description relate to the present state of corporate ownership of the u.s. congress? any similarities?

  30. Plenue


    “Your body ceases being yours when you become pregnant.”

    No, it doesn’t. A zygote doesn’t have a spine, let alone a fully formed brain. It is not a person. At some point it becomes a person, at which point we’re arguing geography, which is one of the reasons why the legal fiction of trimesters exists.

    “What will be your genetic legacy?”

    Nothing, which means I won’t contribute to our already gross overpopulation, and won’t be inflicting existence in a doomed world on someone who never asked for it. Also, it means the particular strain of early onset Alzheimer’s I got from my father dies with me.

    “you will have contributed nothing to humanity.”

    Hilarious, given that you also talk about geniuses. People like Newton, Beethoven, and yes, Plato (as far as anyone can tell) never had kids. Did they also ‘contribute nothing to humanity’?

    “Also Medicine is a trade, a trade that has a shortage of people because the costs are too high and the need to take liberal arts courses which have zero bearing on the job, trip too many people up.”

    The solution to a shortage is to make it free or at least affordable. Cuba seems to have no problem training large numbers of doctors. Liberals arts ‘trip people up’? Citation needed.

    Also, you’ll note that I didn’t praise any of Plato’s ideas, other than his Academy as a place for learning and debate for their own sakes, the spirit of which lives on, or at least should, in our modern universities.

  31. Mallam

    Get out of here with this crap narrative running through the left that Trump to Bolsonaro as being explainable by materialist conditions. Trump won the racist white middle class, evangelical Christians, small business owners, and enlisted military. Similarly, Bolsonaro won similar economic demographic as Trump combined with religious sycophants:

    Bolsonaro wins in 97% of the richest cities and Haddad in 98% of the poor

    This was a revolt of the rich. This is what they wanted. Trump understands who voted for him, and it’s why he’s ramping up his anti-immigrant rhetoric and threatening to send troops to the border. These pols know who their voters are, yet people are still in denial about it. Can’t begin to fight the fascists by ceding to their narratives. After Trump won, all of the sudden economic outlook is sunny among his voters who talked about a “bad economy” (and it is bad for wage earners who haven’t seen raises, but that’s not what drove them). Same will happen here.

  32. NR

    “Liberals arts ‘trip people up’? Citation needed.”

    You won’t get one because Tom pulled that particular assertion out of his ass, but I will say that if someone gets “tripped up” by a liberal arts course, I sure as hell don’t want them practicing medicine.

  33. Willy


    IMO, the most sellable lefty religious position would be that vintage Christian flavor which was popular in the time period between “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “Jesus Christ Superstar”. Good ole progressive Jesus, back when America was great.

    Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.

    Sweet Jesus, imagine if that kind of action was supercharged by some intelligently progressive government. It’d be blessings from heaven all over the place! But as it is, conservative evangelicals will try to find some verse that “trumps” those two, and when they can’t, curse at me with much gnashing of teeth about why most of the great stuff is being built in atheist China and sharia Mohammedland, instead of for them here.

    Did somebody say “But what about AGW?”:
    The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched, and few men are left. (Maybe taken a bit out of context, but could work…)

    I don’t think progressives drove away evangelicals because of what some commie said. Instead, what some commie said was used against progressives to help herd evangelicals into conservatism (and of course all the other PTB machinations). Somehow, progressive Jesus must be stronger (and wiser) than Mammon Jesus. It’s in the Bible, isn’t it? It could work.

  34. Hugh

    I applaud Tom for his choice of careers. But neither the law nor medicine support his view that pregnant women lose control of their bodies. The standard pretty much throughout history for assigning some rights to a fetus is viability. For nearly all that time, this meant a term or near to term pregnancy and was associated with the ability of the fetus/neo-nate to breathe on its own. Indeed our word “spirit” comes from the Latin verb “spiro” to breathe. The idea was that a baby’s soul or spirit entered its body with its first breath.

    What is interesting to me is that while we have been able to push back the limit on viability, that limit is determined by fetal lung development and the ability to breathe. It is only at 24 weeks that fetal lungs begin to develop sacs capable of holding air. So we are really talking somewhere between 24 to 28 weeks for a fetus to have some chance at viability and only then with the extensive resources of a good NICU. I don’t know the mortality rate for this group. Sometimes you hear claims of a viable fetus slightly before 24 weeks but this is extremely rare and it’s not clear how firm the dates were that the earlier than 24 weeks claim was based on.

    I support a woman’s right to choose and to control he own body. I think a woman should have the right to terminate her pregnancy for any reason up to this 24-28 week period and in consultation with her physician for mental or health reasons after that. This seems reasonable to me.

  35. Plenue


    Trump’s base are the people who had the end of day voted for him because he was the person with (R) beside his name. The Democratic base is the same with (D). What pushed him over the edge to victory was the margins, the complete disillusionment amongst voters after eight years of being backstabbed by Obama, which led to a huge number of people just not bothering to show up at all, and some people voting for Trump, either out of a desire to just watch the whole thing burn, or a desperate hope he might deliver on some of his promises.

    The meme that Trump won because racists were just voting racist runs up against the reality that some 200 counties that previously voted twice for Obama flipped to Trump.

  36. Some Guy

    Have to agree with Bill Hicks above, that Bolsonaro is just one more harbinger of the end of the (neo)liberal era. Another difference this time is that the sort of World War mass mobilization warfare that re-stocked the societal solidarity depleted by the liberal era (see Gabriel Kolko’s ‘Century of War’ to get this concept) would almost certainly be impossible to replicate without destroying all of civilization.

  37. bruce wilder

    just one more harbinger of the end of the (neo)liberal era. I

    I see this idea that this (Trump, Bolsanaro, populist right-wing parties) marks the end of neoliberalism.

    I guess I am not seeing it. This magical end, that is.

    Are we sure this isn’t the continuation of neoliberalism by other means?

  38. Mallam

    Plenue: yes many counties switched from Obama to Trump, but the research does not validate your rationale as to why. That’s you placing your own feelings onto them rather than looking at what triggered the switch.

    Now I agree there is some truth to it, in that Hispanic and Black voters turned out at lower rates, and the research shows that SOME of these are explained by disillusionment. Not so for the white voters, though. Been shown again and again:

    A new study shows that this response isn’t as powerful as it may seem. The study, from three political scientists from around the country, takes a statistical look at a large sample of Obama-Trump switchers. It finds that these voters tended to score highly on measures of racial hostility and xenophobia — and were not especially likely to be suffering economically.

    “White voters with racially conservative or anti-immigrant attitudes switched votes to Trump at a higher rate than those with more liberal views on these issues,” the paper’s authors write. “We find little evidence that economic dislocation and marginality were significantly related to vote switching in 2016.”

    This new paper fits with a sizeable slate of studies conducted over the past 18 months or so, most of which have come to the same conclusions: There is tremendous evidence that Trump voters were motivated by racial resentment (as well as hostile sexism), and very little evidence that economic stress had anything to do with it.

    I think Bolsonaro victory also partially explainable by sexism and hatred for women, given the environment which impeached Dilma. Hell look at Tom’s disgusting comments about abortion. A certain machismo is appealing to sexist men.

  39. bruce wilder

    @ Mallam

    Your thesis, as I understand it, is that we (on the left) should disregard “materialist conditions” as explanators for Trump’s electoral success or Bolsanaro’s, and concentrate our attention and, presumably, rhetorical fire exclusively on the racism, sexism etc of the morally bad people who voted for these right-wingers.

    And, you have, I guess, demographic statistics that you imagine reinforce your insistence.

    Does economic policy and its consequences matter at all in your politics of the left?

  40. Anon

    The right wing excuses and whataboutisms – including some of the creeps in this comment section – excusing the behavior and rhetoric of human abortions like Bolsonaro are getting rather rote and lifeless. We get it: you hate the world and want to watch everyone die. Okay, fine, whatever. You got anything else in your toolbox? Or you just have a rusty screwdriver? Get a new shtick, dorks.

  41. Mallam

    Bruce: of course economics matters, I’m not saying it’s irrelevant. I pointed to evidence in Brazil that it mattered a whole lot, in that the actual poor and lower classes largely did not vote fascist despite the fact they were “desperate”. The ones who voted for Bolsonaro are middle class and small business owners, the very people one would expect to vote fascist (same was true in Germany in 1930’s). I think the best way to think of a typical Trump voter is the guy who has a boat in his front yard with relatively moderate-sized house who owns his own small business rather than the working class welder struggling to get ahead (although there’s overlap on individual basis).

    For the ones who can be convinced that people like Trump are not on their side they need to be organized to get them to think of themselves as “workers” or part of a class that is being stepped on by the Trump’s of the world. Instead, in large part because of decimation of unions, there is relatively little actual solidarity. Of course a big reason a lot of these unions found themselves overrun by the capitalist class is because of their own racial resentment.

    Projecting our own pathologies on why these people switched to Trump will get us nowhere, and we need to attack the racism and sexism head on rather than ignoring it or pretending it doesn’t exist for feel good stories of “the forgotten worker being tricked into voting for racist demagogues”.

    The run up to 2016 and years before had issues such as Black Lives Matter, Ferguson, police violence, “kneeling during the Anthem”, Trayvon Martin and Obama saying “if he had a son he’d be like Trayvon”, immigration border surges in 2014-2015, and a “culture” that no longer looks like them or can relate to. Then comes Trump who promises quite explicitly to take a boot to all this “crap”, bringing back their former glory and supremacy. People around here hate identity politics, but all politics stems from this first and foremost. It’s what Mandos tries getting across over and over. It can’t be ignored.

  42. bruce wilder

    @ Mallam (Oct 31)

    Thanks for your answer.

  43. different clue

    Naked Capitalism posts a new article called Economic Distress Did Drive Trump’s Win.
    Here is the link.

  44. bruce wilder

    @ different clue

    The comments on the linked article are what I read, not the article itself. (Most commenters do not appear to have troubled to read the article either.). Yves Smith, in introducing the article admits she only skimmed it.

    People tend to adopt their preferred narratives based in part on economizing on information processing and cognitive load. Even when some academics make an effort, we want to read the abstract and walk away with our priors confirmed.

    Where dueling explanatory narratives are concerned, job 1 is an opinion that works as a consumer good, like a soap that lets you feel self-assured and superior about being clean and smelling good. To economize on cognitive load, it is likely to be heavy on counterfactuals that seem unambiguous.

    So, I wonder if any of us really welcome actual facts, which are rarely unambiguous or dispositive.

    Yves Smith picks out a result the authors themselves found to be “stunning”: the number of people troubled by Clinton’s “corruption”. The percentages cited did not appear all that large to me, but I cannot claim the experience to judge.

    During the actual campaign, I personally was more impressed by the number of people in my acquaintance who could dismiss Clinton’s corrupt conduct as a non-issue. The authors of the study are “stunned” that so many would spontaneously bring up “corruption” when discussing Clinton the candidate. I am impressed that a candidate so openly corrupt could escape concern among so many supporters.

    “Consider the alternative” was a factor, of course. Republicans have not played the incorruptible card in decades. Again: economizing on cognitive load, one strategy is to focus on differences between two candidates, ignoring the raw sum total of either. If you think Trump is more corrupt, more authoritarian, more belligerent in foreign affairs, then you are relieved of considering that your favored candidate is corrupt, authoritarian and belligerent.

    I do not know if it is possible to win the argument that Clinton and Obama governed in ways that were harmful and the consequences of that misgovernance were visited on candidate Hillary Clinton in no small part because she thought they had governed well and thought she should promise more of the same. Hillary symbolically and substantively represented a status quo ante that distressed many voters directly or indirectly, in areas experiencing economic distress as a result of government policy or negligence.

  45. Plenue

    @ bruce wilder

    “I do not know if it is possible to win the argument that Clinton and Obama governed in ways that were harmful and the consequences of that misgovernance were visited on candidate Hillary Clinton in no small part because she thought they had governed well and thought she should promise more of the same.”

    As far as I’m concerned there is no argument. This is the case. People who think it isn’t the case have to explain why ten million fewer voters even bothered to show up in 2016 compared to 2008, and why the Democrats lost over a thousand legislative seats (not to mention a dozen governorships) over the Obama years. What I see is an entire party in decline across the board.

    Does it really need to be pointed out that Trump was (and still is) a completely ludicrous candidate? A rock with a smiley face painted on it should have been able to beat him. That he won is due to the complete discrediting of the Democratic Party among large swathes of the country, and because Trump had sufficient cunning to hijack some economic populist rhetoric that Clinton refused to touch. The crown was lying in the gutter, and he picked it up.

  46. bruce wilder

    @ Plenue

    Hillary did win a plurality of the popular vote — so a whole bunch of people thought things were working out OK, I guess.

    And, Trump may sound stupid and even be stupid, but with regard to using the Media as a tool of competitive self-promotion and persuasion of a kind, Trump is a savant. So, a painted rock with some mad skillz — for a rock.

    The deep problem is that most everyone (among the general run of voters) has only a very superficial appreciation of the politics of economics. (The deep problem is the shallowness of people. Seriously.). This very superficiality makes it very hard to come up with a model of voter motivation and relate that model to what people say in surveys or some statistical characterization of status or community of identity or off-expressed attitudes.

    I can say, look at how Trump does well in areas where life expectancy is declining or the opioid epidemic is most lethal. But, assuming the Trump voter does not himself know how the opioid epidemic relates to political satisfaction with Clinton let alone policy four years or sixteen years earlier, it is necessarily speculative to infer the meaning or motivation of a Trump voter from either surveys of others or demography.

    I think declining life expectancy is an indictment of Obama’s Presidency, but many others may not see Obama as responsible for anything other than sounding respectable on teevee. The big complaints against Trump from many Dem voters I know personally are about his syntax and grammar. Russia, Russia, Russia works in the Media because so few pundits or journalists know or care anything about foreign policy on the one hand, or about the actual mechanics of mass persuasion on the other. $100,000 of barely literate Facebook ads from a St Petersburg troll farm, half appearing after the election, beat David Brock’s troll farm — oh wait, who is David Brock?

    If I can overlook Clinton taking two years to take in $22 million from the likes of Goldman Sachs, I can also attribute the hostility of a Michigan small business owner to Clinton as sexism. And, that Michigander may be distressed about the economic conditions created by the decline of manufacturing industry without any thing but contempt for neighbors falling into deaths of despair.

    It is not an accident that politicians like Clinton talk in a code few understand, a code in which “free trade” is synonymous with “a good thing”. Nothing in U.S. politics encourages people to think or talk about politics as a serious matter affecting substantive policy. Confronted by the “choice” of Trump or Clinton and lacking the means to reject such a ridiculous dilemma, people vote at random and then academics and pundits struggle to understand the “outcome” of the vote. What ought to be explained is how monstrosities like Trump and Clinton get to be “the choice” on the ballot without mass rebellion. (Allowing of course that a plurality does not vote, period — the non-voter may have the most accurate assessment.)

  47. Mallam

    “why the Democrats lost over a thousand legislative seats (not to mention a dozen governorships) over the Obama years. ”

    Structural facts of American politics. The political science research gave the Republican nominee good odds of winning simply for being the Republican nominee. The president’s party always faces a backlash, and Obama’s was particularly harsh because he oversaw the finishing of the Southern Strategy come to full fruition, particularly in states like Arkansas and Louisiana, and Democrats were at their height of political power because of huge swings against Bush in 2006 and 2008. The citation of this number is meaningless because it was always going to happen, the question was “how hard will the swing be?” And in the midst of the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression, mixed with finishment of Southern Strategy and inherent backlash against the president’s party, the answer turned out to be very harsh.

    We are now seeing a swing in the other direction, combined with very likeable candidates, very unlikeable opponents, and a very unlikeable president. And yet it still might not be enough in states like Georgia, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas…because these are very conservative and racist states. But demographic change keeps happening, and in some ways the Great Migration is making a revseral with college educated professionals moving back to the South, pushing these states back into Democratic territory.

    Ask yourself why Trump has the most explicitly racist ad in modern history pinned to his twitter account if he thought he won because of “economics”.

  48. Mallam

    Forgot another piece to this: the current Democratic coalition relies heavily on young voters, who historically in US do not turn out to vote no matter who is on the ballot (Sanders won youth vote in primary overwhelmingly, but if they craved his message so much it should have been enough to carry him to the nomination…yet not a lot turned out in the primary). By contrast, the Republican coalition relies on older voters who vote at rates of 70-80%. That’s an inherent advantage and it will eventually die off, but the cohort of 50-75’s are the most Republican of any other. Flip side, oldest millennials are now in their 30’s, and once people hit 40 they start voting much more often and consistently. Mythical conventional wisdom says people get more convervative as they age, but that’s not very accurate. People do get somewhat more conservative in temperament as they age, but they normally stick with the party they came of political age. It’s why Boomers are so Republican, and the Greatest Generation voted overwhelmingly for Democrats even in their old age. This churn happens every year, and eventually the people who vote often and at high rates will be Democratic. So it goes.

  49. Plenue

    Ah yes, ‘demographic change’. Good luck with that.

  50. Mallam


    So that’s all you’ve got? Nothing about anything else I said. I’ll take it because you’ve got nothing to argue but sputtering.

  51. Mallam

    Hmm just saw this, but Chris Hayes has a podcast on October 30th, which once again shows that Obama’s race was the trigger in these Democratic shifts towards Republicans like Trump:

    CHRIS HAYES: This is really important. You start out by looking at public opinion about Obama, and you’re finding that racial attitudes — even in a Democratic primary — among white voters are pretty good predictors of whether they support him or not.

    MICHAEL TESLER: Especially in the primaries. It’s hard for political scientists to zero in on one factor, and say, That was the most important factor. For the primaries, actually, with party identification neutralized, it was pretty easy to see that, yeah, racial attitudes were the dividing line.

    And one of the things that also comes out of there is that we might think of the Democratic Party as this racially liberal party. But, especially back in 2008, it’s pretty evenly distributed, where you had a good number of white racial liberals who think that discrimination is the main reason African-Americans can’t get ahead, but you had pretty much an equal number of white Democrats who thought that it was due to lack of work ethic.

    MICHAEL TESLER: Yeah. One story that has taken place in the Obama era, and especially since Trump, has been the liberalizing of white Democrats, where some of them were pushed out of the party because of Obama, but a lot of them also changed their views on these racial issues. And so, the Democratic Party of today is distinctly different on race than the Democratic Party of 2008.

    CHRIS HAYES: America elects the first black president. You’re watching everyone say “post-racial era.” And you’re saying, “Wait a second. The data actually shows the opposite,” that actually race is a massively polarizing figure, and racial attitudes are massively predictive among white voters of who they favor. And that holds over into the general election as well.

    MICHAEL TESLER: Absolutely. And one thing that you also see that’s really unusual for Obama — especially in comparison with somebody like Jesse Jackson in 1988 — is that white racial liberals are really motivated by Obama in a way that Jesse Jackson wasn’t.

    And so, if you’re a racial conservative, you’re not going to like either of these candidates, but if you’re a white racial liberal, you are really getting energized by Obama. Some of the story of 2016 is Hillary Clinton’s inability to energize those same voters.

    CHRIS HAYES: And one of the theses of your work (that I think is in the first book and also in the latest book, “Identity Crisis”) is that basically there’s a lot of people — and this includes white working class voters, who are bopping along and they’re not political junkies — but, let me just be clear, this is white educated voters, working class voters, all kinds of different voters, a lot of white voters who, until Barack Obama was elected, weren’t clear about which was the party that was more sympathetic to black people.

    MICHAEL TESLER: I think that that’s one of the most important findings out there. We — you and me, anybody who’s listening to the show probably — take it for granted that the Democrats since at least the 60s (and if you read more work, since the Depression) have been the party of racial liberalism. But before Obama, if you were a low educated — meaning non-college-educated white voter — less than 50 percent could place the Democrats to the left of the Republicans on which party was more supportive of, basically, government assistance to African-Americans.

    MICHAEL TESLER: So the American National Election Study — it’s our gold standard survey in political science — since 1972 has asked respondents place the Democratic candidate and the Republican candidate on a scale being how supportive of assistance to African-Americans they are. And before Obama, less than half could do it. Less than half of low-educated whites could put the Democrat to the left of the Republican. Now what Obama and then Trump do is they really simplify the politics of race, and so that number jumps up to about two-thirds in 2012.

    Encourage you to listen.


  52. Hugh

    I agree with Plenue. Trump and Clinton were both awful. The electoral college is anti-democratic and skews against the Democrats. That Clinton got more votes and lost is an artifact of this. But she was still a shit sandwich. And a common argument for voting for her was that shit sandwich though she was she was somehow less of a shit sandwich than Trump. That is hardly a ringing endorsement of her even if you voted for her.

    None of this gets to why the Democratic party not only chose such a dreadful candidate but completely rigged the process to ensure her nomination. About the only politician who talks like a Democrat is Bernie Sanders, and he’s not even a Democrat. Meanwhile the Democratic party apparatus is leaning to re-cycling a geriatric neoliberal like Biden over a generation of younger neoliberals. New Dealers need not apply.

  53. Hugh

    OT but no other place to park this.

    Much has been made about how good the October jobs report was: 250,000 total nonfarm (private plus public sector) jobs added, seasonally adjusted. There are a couple things to note. October is almost always a good month for jobs, even seasonally adjusted, because it marks the beginning of the jobs build for Christmas. The second is that 271,000 jobs were added October last year, and 2017 was not an especially good year for jobs.

    If you look as I do at the seasonally unadjusted numbers (what actually happened), the October report is more of the same. About 1 million total nonfarm jobs were added in October in every year from 2014-2018, except 2016. In the private sector, 614,000 were added in 2018, almost exactly the same as the 612,000 in 2017 versus 575,000 in 2014, overall the best year of this series and my benchmark for a good, not spectacular year for job growth.

    Looking at net total nonfarm job creation (January to October minus the dropoff of the previous post-Christmas December to January), 2.223 million jobs have been created so far this year. Much better than the around 1.9 million jobs created in 2016-2017 versus 2.319 million in 2015 and 2.574 million in 2014.

    A similar pattern can be seen in the private sector alone. 2.127 million in 2018; 1.885 million in 2017; 1.788 million in 2016; 2.180 million in 2015; and 2.446 million in 2014. I should note that the population has grown in the 5 years since 2014.

    In other news, the work week declined .4 hours per week from October a year ago to 33.6 hrs (a volatile measure). Average weekly wages increased October over October of last year 1.56% nominal. This is not a great number.

  54. Plenue


    Because you have nothing to argue with. All you have is excuse-making. You just keep making vague hand-waving gestures; ‘structural facts’ and ‘demographic change’. Exactly the excuses Democrats have been making for decades. “We’re not doing anything wrong, our policies are sound, we just have to wait for the ‘bad people’ to die off enough, then we’ll win.” “Everything is fine. Trump didn’t win based on economic populism; the economy is fine. So we don’t need to worry about things like wages or social programs or locking up bankers. American is Already Great.”

    The stark facts remain: hundreds of counties and entire states that previously went to Obama, twice, flipped to the GOP. In an election where both candidates were white. And ten million people couldn’t be bothered to vote at all, compared to 2008.

    Also the stuff about a large number of voters not being able to ‘correctly’ tell which party was more sympathetic to black Americans is very telling, though probably not for the reasons Hayes and Tesler imagine. It also rather undermines the meme that they were racists voting racist. If they genuinely don’t know the Republicans are worse for blacks, why argue that their motivation for voting Republican was based on racism?

  55. Plenue


    “Meanwhile the Democratic party apparatus is leaning to re-cycling a geriatric neoliberal like Biden over a generation of younger neoliberals.”

    Part of me really hopes they run him. Go ahead, idiots, run the bastard:

    They’d be guaranteeing another four years of Trump.

  56. different clue

    Apparently Mallam’s comment about Deplorable Racism being the primary explanation for Trump’s victory is part of a broader Clintonite Hasbara propaganda operation. A commenter on Naked Capitalism noticed it as well . . . in different places. I will copy-paste the relevant comment here.

    Livius Drusus
    November 3, 2018 at 10:17 am

    Last year it was reported that deaths from alcohol, drug abuse and suicide could spike 60 percent to 1.6 million over the next decade. The number of fatal drug overdoses tripled from 2000 to 2015.

    Could there be a connection between these “deaths of despair” and the 5 million manufacturing jobs lost between 2000 and 2014? Could our trade policies be part of the problem?

    I am being sarcastic because it seems pretty clear to me that the “Deplorables” really were hit hard by our trade policies and this played a part in Trump’s victory.

    There is a very strong campaign among some liberals to simply write all Trump voters off as deplorable racists and to absolve the neoliberal wing of the Democratic Party for their role in de-industrializing America and destroying the lives of millions of Americans. It is much more convenient to make the narrative entirely about racial resentment which is what outlets like Vox have been pushing hard lately.

  57. different clue


    I hope the Clintonite Sh*tobamacrats run a ticket of Biden for Prez and Hillary for VP. I hope that will achieve the Final Burndown of the Wall Street Democrats and that the SanderSocial Democrats can become a rising tide which will finally purge, burn and exterminate every trace of the “Republican Wing of the Democratic Party” from out of a declintaminated and re-purified Democratic Party.

    Let the filthy Clintonites, and all their filthy voters, find or create another filthy little party so they can filthy it up to their own filthy little hearts’ delight.

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