Hillary Clinton’s competence

I keep seeing memes insisting, “Hillary is competent.” I do not question her competence. But you ought to be aware that, when you make competence the issue, you are simply accepting that what is most important about domestic spying, bombing civilians in Syria, persecution of whistle-blowers, drone murders of non-combatants, police violence, income disparity, “regime change,” poisoned drinking water, mass deportations, unemployment, under employment, inaction on climate change, continued Wall Street criminality, and lack of health care, is that we have someone competent to continue them.

It says, in a word, “The stuff going on is fine, we just need someone competent to carry it out.” I have a problem with this thinking, and I wonder if some people have thought it through.

I do not doubt that Secretary Clinton will do a better job of provoking Russia and China, and leading us toward world war, than Mr. Trump. I do not consider this a good reason to vote for either of them.

Published by

Avatar photo


I play the drum.

257 thoughts on “Hillary Clinton’s competence”

  1. I’ve used that argument often – when people complain that the other guy’s choice is incompetent, I ask – isn’t that what you want? Or right now, the stories about Clinton being at death’s door – why are they complaining?

    An exception may be with Trump. Being incompetent doesn’t mean he’s not dangerous!

  2. I agree with your first two paragraphs, disagree strongly with the third. Trump is playing straight from the demagogue’s handbook. The traditional way for such a person to fix the economy and ‘restore greatness’ is a war.

  3. Alexx: I honestly do not think the most important thing about a nuclear war is the name of the individual who gets us there. Both candidates have all but promised that that’s the direction they’re heading in.

  4. I do not think Clinton will push the red button and start a nuclear war. However Trump might try it because he really doesn’t understand the consequences. Or he just might threaten to do so, causing a critical condition.

    So they are not the same. Still Clinton will continue the Mideast perpetual war, which is bad, of course.

  5. I think Clinton might believe that she’s lying in her threats to china and russia.

    She might believe that they know she’s bluffing and that she will agree to a deal where she gets to tell the USA that they backed down, but really they get a deal they like.

    Or maybe she might believe that she can bluff and they really will back down.

    She might be right in whichever of these assumptions she believes. Maybe they will agree to a deal, and maybe they will back down from her bluff.

    We have made this sort of bluff various times in the past, notably against the USSR in 1973. We threatened them with global war and they did back down.

    There’s always a chance something will go wrong and we’ll wind up with a nuclear war. If it looks like that’s about to happen then Clinton really ought to back down and prevent it. We have had 65 years of theory about how to keep that from happening. Maybe by now they really do know how to stop it. I dunno.

  6. Hillary Clinton: “You’ve seen the reports. Russia’s hacked into a lot of things, China’s hacked into a lot of things. Russia even hacked into the Democratic National Committee. Maybe even some state election systems? So we gotta step up our game. Make sure we are well defended and make sure we are able to take the fight to those who go after us. As president I will make it clear that the United States will treat cyber attacks just like any other attack. We will be ready with serious political, economic and military responses.“

    Sounds like politics as usual to me. Where is the threat to drop the bomb?

  7. I agree that none of the candidates in the upcoming election are great choices and Yes there are many problems with both Hilary and Trump. Unfortunately that is not the point. The clear undeniable fact is SOMEONE will be President of the United States come January 2017. Due to a whole host of reasons there seems to be a choice between three people.

    One person who cannot answer a question about foreign policy because despite current events doesn’t know where or what Aleppo is.

    One person who has demonstrated a track record of lying or making false statements every 3 minutes and 15 seconds and who has been identified by his own political party as being unqualified to be President of the United States.

    One person who has a reputation of being untrustworthy but at least knows what is going on in the world and has real world experience in politics at a high level.

    Like it or not those are the choices and really only two of those have any real chance of winning an election. Burying your head in the sand or screaming at the top of your lungs how sh!ty the choices are will not change anything.

    Use your vote as you see fit but if one person HAS to be the winner there is only one person running who has a chance of being a good President. Granted the chance isn’t a great one, I feel better buying a scratch ticket myself but as I see it the other two candidates have no chance of being responsible with the kind and magnitude of power the White House represents.

  8. @calisto01 “One who has demonstrated a track record of lying or making false statements every 3 minutes and 15 seconds and who has been identified by his ”

    Until I came to the word “his”, I was positive you were speaking of Clinton

  9. I would take this argument one step further to “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”. I believe the reason we see the competence argument bandied about so much, in addition to the hyperbole of “she’s the most qualified candidate of all time” is that the Clinton camp is aware that many people are not convinced it is true.

  10. > I do not doubt that Secretary Clinton will do a better job of provoking Russia and China, and leading us toward world war, than Mr. Trump.

    I think you should doubt this, because it does not seem to be true. Incompetent and evil is a false dichotomy; no reason anyone can’t be both.

    For example, which candidate do you think said this?

    If I were President], North Korea would suddenly discover that its worthless promises of civilized behavior would cut no ice. I would let Pyongyang know in no uncertain terms that it can either get out of the nuclear arms race or expect a rebuke similar to the one Ronald Reagan delivered to Ghadhafi in 1986. I don’t think anybody is going to accuse me of tiptoeing through the issues or tap-dancing around them either. Who else in public life has called for a pre-emptive strike on North Korea?

    Trump is to some degree incompetent, but I personally wouldn’t want to bet on him being so much so he would actually fail to be able to start a war. And it seems a particularly forlorn hope to expect other republican politicians to stop him.

    If Trump wins, expect the media to start tracking the political leanings of senior generals like they were supreme court judges. Because a lot will depend on what they do when he says ‘fire’.

  11. Donald Trump is a wannabee Fascist, originating in the NY real estate mafia.
    Hilary Clinton is a war criminal, who set the dogs of war afoot throughout North Africa, through her promotion of Ghadafi’s murder (We came, we saw, he died, she cackled gleefully).
    To develop a real anti-war movement requires the building of a socialist movement, especially in the working class. Young people are attracted to socialism in great numbers today; they will have to absorb the hard lessons of history, if we are to have a future on this planet.
    Listen to the WSWS video by Sep V-P candidate Niles Niemuth:

  12. David: Here’s what I found in the first minute of googling:

    “We need to respond to evolving threats, from states like Russia, China, Iran and North Korea….Make sure we are well defended and able to take the fight to those who go after us. As president I will make it clear that we will treat cyber attacks just like any other attack. We will be ready with serious political, economic, and military responses.” August 31

    “I want the Iranians to know that if I’m president, we will attack Iran. In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.” July 3

  13. The first paragraph is politics as usual. Have to talk tough, apparently.

    The second was on July 3, 2015, before we had the nuclear deal with Iran. She says that she will attack Iran if they attack Israel. Both pandering to Israel and a threat to Iran to motivate them to make a deal.

    Now you are a bright guy, why take things out of context? It’s not like I’m a champion for Clinton. I just don’t like you trying to find “gotchas” because you don’t like her (competition for socialist support).

  14. David – Suggesting military action after a cyber attack sounds tough, but does strike me as a bit dismissing of measure. Second paragraph is an incomplete quote, though, you’re correct.

    Thinking any of the candidates (even loopy Jill “every nuclear power plant is one block of C4 away from Chernobyl” Stein) would use the thermonuclear option on a whim or turn of mind is pure fantasy and a disgraceful attempt at fearmongering. I’m worried about a conventional war, and there – due to past words and actions – I think Hillary tops the other three hands down.

    Forgetting the slew of negatives including the TPP, Patriot Act, DNC malfeasance, Clinton Foundation sketchiness, possible sexual assault victim intimidation, and plausible health issues (seeing her dragged into a van like a sack of potatoes on 9/11 was an incredible moment in an election year of incredible moments), Hillary, as Secretary of State, oversaw the expansion of drone strikes, which – as well as sometimes hitting non targets – have killed Americans with no due process. Arms were sent to the Middle East, destabilizing entire countries, killing thousands and displacing more. $60 billion worth of weapons were sold to Saudi Arabia in 2010. The US equipped Syrian rebel groups are fighting each other seemingly as much as they are fighting Assad and ISIS, and have proven themselves just as barbaric (did we honestly learn nothing from arming the Taliban?). She laughed off the murder of a sovereign foreign state’s leader with a macabre quip.

    Whereas Trump, confrontational, brash New Yorker as he is, tends towards hyperbole and when he overshoots (and a LOT of times when he doesn’t), he’s called a liar or worse. He has straight up lied however, and if his history tells us anything it’s more than likely he will continue to do so. There’s stories out there of him doing some pretty questionable things. I don’t like him as a person, but I don’t know what kind of president he’d make and neither does anyone else. What I do know, however, is that he wasn’t a big piece of why the far right is rising in Europe and people are dying in the Middle East right now. Hillary has shown me no indication she’ll stop flinging gas at the fire if she’s elected, which is my dealbreaker.

  15. I agree, Nathan. What has come to light recently (?) is that every president since Nixon (except maybe Carter) has followed the directions / plan of Kissinger to destabilize and take control of the Mideast. Change the president, but Kissinger still rules. I find that frightening.

    I wonder how much of this is living in the DC bubble where politicians really are not exposed to the real world. It becomes a bit of a game to kill people by the millions.

  16. > I’m worried about a conventional war, and there – due to past words and actions – I think Hillary tops the other three hands down.

    I fear this will prove to be a classic blunder. Never bet against a Sicilian when death is on the line, or against a fascist starting a land war in Asia…

    From his words, policies, and the _choice of party he made to stand for election under_, we know Trump is more aggressive than Clinton. He has had a lot fewer occasions to speak about policy than someone in politics as long as Clinton has been, but still comes out _way_ in front in terms of scarily aggressive quotes.

    And it certainly seems like he is less competent. Incompetent and aggressive is not a good combination.

  17. The threat from Russia was laughed off in 2012 and I was among the people who considered Romney’s fears a preconditioned reflex in Cold War trained dinosaurs.

    Russia’s not getting stronger. The problem, in fact, is that it is getting weaker. China has a future and that mediates its aggression. It can play a long game. Pretty soon the only thing Russia will have is nuclear weapons.

    You can argue that the U.S. is just behind the Russians on the same trajectory and I would take that as provisionally plausible. Trump as President would accelerate that development. Then we would have two Putins roaming the Earth.

    Consider that Kerry really wishes he could intervene in Syria without all those pesky international laws and scruples. But he doesn’t because liberals like Kerry are invested in laws and scruples. (After all, they invented those laws and scruples for their own benefit.) That’s basically the difference between Bush/Trump/Putin and Obama/Clinton/Clinton. It’s not much, but it’s something. It won’t keep us from doing ANY bad stuff, but it will keep us from projecting ALL the “good will” we can imagine onto the global map.

    Hillary is closer to having two China’s, one waxing, one waning. I see that as a situation with more survivable scenarios. And yes, it will still make us, at best, culpable in all kinds of deplorable actions. But no, if Russia or North Korea kick off, it won’t be because we baited them. There can be more than one bad actor in a room and one of the actors can be worse than the other.

    America COULD be a better place. All we have to do is change the minds of tens of millions of people in a few years without a significant increase in the blood shed we already get in “normal” times.

  18. 1soru1:

    You mentioned Trump’s words, policies, and party as evidence of Trump being more aggressive than Clinton.

    I’ll start with party – assuming the premise that what team he plays for is relevant, Trump is an independent in Republican clothing. A basic understanding of what happened during the primaries backs this up – “real” Repubs did not like him one bit and tried much of what the DNC successfully executed on Sanders against him… and failed. Regardless of what happens in the general election, the GOP has been dragged back towards center after the “moral majority” and evangelical shifts to the right during the 80s and 90s. Trump has reduced the distance between parties, and as a liberal-leaning independent I thank him for it. No matter what else happens this election, the GOP being a party defined by hard conservatism in social issues is done. He got the Republican Convention – a collection of the stodgiest of retrogrades in the country – to cheer Peter Thiel, and his stance on marijuana is more liberal than Hillary’s.

    Policies – I’ll need you to tell me what stated policies of Trump are more harmful towards human lives, both foreign and domestic, than Hillary’s own unrepentant actions I’d outlined in my previous post – actions which she has every indication of continuing if President. I’ve found none personally, but would be open to new info.

    And words. The aggravation that Trump gives me on this cannot be overstated. As I said, I don’t like him as a person, and his off-the-cuff speech pattern is meandering at best (he has the best words). But, news outlets CONTINUALLY taking hyperbolic statements of his as solid commentary is even more frustrating; it becomes exponentially more difficult to separate his goofy bluster from actual position. The number of articles written refuting his statement regarding Hillary “fighting ISIS her whole life” from the first debate infuriates me beyond my ability to describe. Even assuming the worst though, which statements of his would you consider more heinous than what Libya or Syria looks like now?


    I think the best way to prevent that war is to stop waning. The economy needs to turn around, and to do that we need to stop going down the path set by Bush and Obama… which Hillary will continue. Whether Trump would make it worse or better, I personally don’t know (I know you disagree here), but something needs to change or conflict will eventually happen. This is my gamble, and so I have to take my solace where I can get it; the fact that he is a businessman and not a lawyer helps. The fact that he isn’t directly, provably responsible for misery and death helps more. Even his mafia connection, if true, gives me a semblance of hope… every mafioso knows that war is bad for business.

  19. > I’ll need you to tell me what stated policies of Trump are more harmful towards human lives, both foreign and domestic, than Hillary’s own unrepentant actions I’d outlined in my previous post

    Domestic, the part where he basically wants to put 12 million people in camps. And can anyone who says ‘he can’t do that because it is unconstitutional’ name 10 Republican senators who would vote to impeach him over it?

    Foreign, there really are a lot to chose from, probably starting a war with China is the standout one; the others will only kill single-digit millions, most of them not American. Then again the whole ‘nuke the muslims’ might be worse? Hard to say.

    I find people are generally more convinced by researching things for themselves than a pageful of selective links. So search ‘Trump China war nuke ISIS torture’ and make up your own mind.

  20. Normally I find people are convinced by hard evidence, the best of which the person making a claim would hopefully hold and be able to share, but alright.

    I found no policies on his website regarding putting 12 million Americans in camps, starting a war with anyone (let alone China), or nuking Muslims.

    If you’re referring to words, interviews, or speeches, I’ll spend a few minutes searching:

    Regarding internment camps, seems he said he’d rule it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_l8XDW7GsI

    Regarding *actual* war with China, he said he wouldn’t rule it out, and from what I’ve found he didn’t say it was a policy point nor did his words indicate it was something he wanted to do: http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/gop-primaries/274386-trump-refuses-to-rule-out-war-with-china-i-dont-want-to-be
    “Trade war”, on the other hand, you might have a point.

    As far as nuking Muslims… extraordinary claim, the best I found was a bunch of headlines like “Dear Donald Trump: Here is why we don’t simply nuke the Islamic State” while citing an interview in which he simply says that while he doesn’t want to do it, he wouldn’t rule it out if we were attacked with a nuke ourselves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gpxr9ZUp7N0 .

    Searching “Trump China war nuke ISIS torture”, the first hit is an article with no citations. Going back to the website main page, the big headline is: “Shocking Development: Brad Pitt No Longer Drinking 2% Milk”, apparently written by the same guy who wrote the Trump article. I’d rather not wade through any more dregs of the internet if you have actual sources first hand. Video is best, especially with a blowhard like Trump.

  21. Clinton wants to accept refugees into the U.S. Trump wants to take people currently in the U.S. and send them looking for refuge elsewhere. That is sufficient for me to vote for Clinton. If both candidates were much more similar, then perhaps I would vote for a third party, even though it likely would not represent me any better than the two major ones. If I did, it would be a protest, asking for more choices. I suggest the same thinking to anyone else looking for a protest vote. The candidates are not equal. Vote for the better one.
    I do not suggest the same to you. You have a party that you agree with and are attempting to build a movement. Asking you to put your movement on hold (probably indefinitely) even to avert a disaster, is a tall order.
    Basically, only vote third party if you are a true believer or the major candidates don’t differ in major ways that you care about.

  22. Trump might be a wannabe fascist, but Clinton is the real McCoy. Her DNC acceptance was basically a military fanfare, and her quip of “America is great because America is good” was downright chilling.

  23. Here’s my general take on things:
    Trump is a demagogue who has embraced the far right and they have embraced him right back. That represents pretty much everything I am against. Utterly reprehensible. So there is no possible way for me to support that side of things.

    Clinton pretty much represents the status quo. As skzb mentions above, the status quo isn’t that great a place for a lot of people. And by a lot, that almost certainly includes the majority of people although they may not even realize it. My read on her military bluster is that it is again, the status quo–much sound and fury signifying nothing. International banking wouldn’t do well under a nuclear assault.
    On the other hand, at least she admits that climate change is an actual thing, police shootings are not good and that women have rights.

    The next president is certain to appoint one or more Supreme Court justices. The next president needs to start dealing with climate change. Trump would be a disaster at either of these.

    So, what I arrive at is that Trump is an existential threat whereas Clinton will continue policies that while painful will let the species survive for a while longer. So, Clinton is a tactical move while Trump is a strategic blunder.

    The question then becomes, what can we do with that extra time in order to get to a state where we have reached a much more equitable and sustainable society (see “A Statement of Principles from Jonas Kyratzes” as the general direction in which I want things to end up).

  24. I wouldn’t be surprised if Clinton does fight for campaign reform, despite the current system being very good for her. That’s what politicians should do, when the voters demand it. I find it harder to believe she will end the eternal wars though. Bin Laden won with lots of help from our military-industrial complex in making us a terrified, bullying, nation.

  25. karlsoap, Since the primary process has given us the choice between one who won’t take in refugees, and one who facilitated the wars that produced the refugees… I’d rather go for the former, as bad as I think that is. Also, I don’t believe Trump ever said that he wouldn’t help refugees, just that he wouldn’t bring them to America until vetting improved. Small point, I know, but salient.

    I hate defending this guy, but the amount of crap flung around as gold prevents actual issues with him from being in the forefront, like, say, his energy policy. The only thing I agree with is making us energy independent. “We will conserve our natural habitats, reserves and resources.” How he plans to accomplish that while tapping into shale oil is beyond me. Pixies?

  26. How Trump will accomplish *anything* is beyond me. Of course, most of what he says aren’t defined. “Make America Great”. We have way too much evidence against believing that Trickle Down Austerity helps.

    I can understand making the endless wars your number one priority. In that case, I recommend voting for a party that is against the endless wars. That is neither of the two big parties.

  27. Nathan S.:I think that the “putting 12 million people in camps” comes from his stated desire to deport every illegal immigrant and how one would ever go about doing that. Currently, the process of deporting someone takes a fairly variable amount of time and very often, people who are awaiting deportation hearings are detained.
    For example, in 2011, there were 429,000 foreign nationals who were detained an average of 30 days. The length of being detained can go up to six months (Max via a 2001 Supreme court decision although that number appears currently mushy.)

    So, if Trump wants to deport 12 million people within 4 years or less (and isn’t just catapulting everyone who doesn’t “look right” across the border), there would have to be at least 3 million people being detained per year.

    This, of course, ignores how one would actually locate all of the illegal immigrants in the first place without massive breakdowns of fifth amendment rights and massive numbers of false positives.

  28. Steve: Interesting. I assumed 1soru1 was referring to Muslims – the way it was worded made me think of WWII internment camps. Unsure whether that was the objective or not, but that’s how it came across. Thanks for the explanation, I’ll have to add that to my “weigh the possibility and consequences of these things actually happening vs. the reality of what currently is” thought experiment. It seems extremely far-fetched at first blush… then again, if you told me eight years ago that Democrats would be the ones to do what Hillary and Obama have done I might have thought the same.

    As an aside, I feel that there’s a possible balance between kicking down doors screaming “Ihre Papiere, bitte!” and the current situation where ICE finds it difficult to deport illegal convicted felons. I also feel there has to be a disconnect between thinking securing the border is inherently barbaric and knowing the literal tons of drugs, money, and weapons that cross yearly facilitate the most barbaric actions seen in this hemisphere. On the other hand, widespread deportation makes no sense from a moral, logistical, or economic standpoint.

    Did I mention I love this election? I know this has been said before, but I’m waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out at me while pointing at a camera and laughing.

    Howardbrazee: I’m considering it, but I might be too old (read: pragmatic) for a protest vote. Johnson has his own set of downsides. Plus, I don’t consider Trump a Republican, so that helps.

  29. Nathan S: “karlsoap, Since the primary process has given us the choice between one who won’t take in refugees, and one who facilitated the wars that produced the refugees… I’d rather go for the former, as bad as I think that is.”

    They’re both very bad. I currently intend to vote for Jill Stein, who has the only practical set of policies. She is suffering a media blackout and a lack of SuperPAC money. But she actually does have a workable energy policy, the only one.

  30. howardbrazee:

    “I wouldn’t be surprised if Clinton does fight for campaign reform, despite the current system being very good for her.”

    I wouldn’t be completely surprised. And i would not be the least bit surprised if she didn’t.

    About one little remedial issue, Citizens United, a year ago she said that her single litmus-test for Supreme Court nominees is that they much reject Citizens United.

    This year she says she supports a citizens movement to get a constitutional amendment to handle that. She did not come out and say that she will appoint justices who support it. But the implication is that she has had another learning experience and she thinks the amendment is the better way to go — one that does not require she do anything whatsoever and which usually takes as very long time for state governments to arrange.

  31. karlsoap:

    “Clinton wants to accept refugees into the U.S. Trump wants to take people currently in the U.S. and send them looking for refuge elsewhere. That is sufficient for me to vote for Clinton.”

    It’s like, one party could say “We intend to slowly torture you to death, we start by cutting off all your fingers and toes one joint at a time, [ … snip a long list of tortures].”

    And maybe the other party says “We intend to slowly torture you to death, we start by cutting off all your fingers and toes one joint at a time, [ … snip the same list of tortures] and then at the end, just before you die, we drop a chunk of broccoli in your mouth because we know you hate broccoli.”

    And you say “the two choices are not equal, so I will vote to not have the broccoli” rather than pick any third choice.

    It really sounds like you are stuck with the two major parties unless they show you they are exactly precisely the same. And there will always be some little differences between them.

    One of them will try to make abortion illegal and the other will try to confiscate all the guns. They will try to do those things forever, it will be a giant issue every single election as long as voters believe in these two titanic issues.

  32. Steve Halter:

    “So, if Trump wants to deport 12 million people within 4 years or less (and isn’t just catapulting everyone who doesn’t “look right” across the border), there would have to be at least 3 million people being detained per year.”

    As a purely practical matter, if the USA was really going to deport 12 million people, for real, and the people who would be deported knew who they were, a lot of them would leave.

    Like the man said about riding out of town on a rail, “If it wasn’t for the honor of the thing I’d have just as soon walked”.

    But you know, if we wanted illegals not to have jobs in the USA, all it would take would be a reasonably easy way for employers to find out who’s illegal, and heavy penalties on employers for hiring them. That’s all.

    Why have we never done that? Is it that somehow the employers of illegals have political force, and the people who want illegals gone do not? They want a workforce which will accept bad conditions and not complain, which has no legal rights. So they want a lot of foreigners to be here and be illegal.

    And Trump talks to the people who want them gone, who have no political power except their votes. Maybe like Nixon promised to end the Vietnam war with honor….

  33. Certainly, a Constitutional amendment is more sure of a change. It doesn’t mean alternative ways of overturning Citizen United won’t work. At least for a while. If it is an important issue, the Constitution rules

  34. J Thomas:Yes, of course, the whole deportation issue is another dog whistle to the white power folks who seem to be quite enamored of Trump. Many employers currently like having the leverage of threats of arrest against undocumented workers. As you say, the laws could be fairly easily changed to place the penalty the other way.

    Another way to do it would be to allow for the free movement of people. Poof, no more illegal immigrants because immigration is no longer illegal.

  35. Clinton is competent–at pretending to be liberal will slavishly serving Wall Street, Israel, and the MIC, all three of which are getting more and more difficult to distinguish. The mainstream corporate media has been doing a 24/7 hatchet job on Trump and glowing praise for Hilary, that should tell us something.

    HRC is the annointed one of Goldman Sachs and Henry Kissinger. Trump is his own man, however noxious.

    On domestic policy and fiscal policy, Congress holds sway and is firmly in the pockets of big pharma, international corporations and the NRA. So no president will be able to accomplish much against those interests. In foreign policy, not so much. Presidents have great leeway in appointing cabinet secretaries and determining the conduct of wars and diplomacy. If HRC wins, all our war in Syria seems likely. More of the same in antagonizing Russia by arming its neighbors and inflaming Ukraine. And that could put the world powers on an unavoidable path towards confrontation and potential nuclear annhilation.

    Trump has stated he will try to reach common ground with Russia and China. I suspect this, above all else, is why the mainstream media has put him in their sites.

  36. I think the mainstream media have put Trump in their sites is because he’s unpredictable. They like predictability. But Trump also gives the world an image of America which is disgusting. Whether his racism, sexism, classism, and narcissism translates into laws – the image does matter.

  37. I find it unlikely that Clinton would start a nuclear war. Radiation is inimical to money and the bankers will pick money over blood every time. Clinton’s foreign policies will be geared towards exploitation of labor through policy and fear. With a sprinkling of aid as needed.
    I haven’t seen any particular good plans from anyone on the Middle East. (Trump claims he has an extra good secret one). Unfortunately, both candidates will almost certainly shed buckets of (other peoples) blood there.
    Trump flips all over the place on foreign policy as he has nary a clue other than that he would really like to ride bareback through some Russian birches with Putin (except when he wants to shoot down their planes), maybe rearm Japan and give them and South Korea nukes (except when he denies it) and engage in a hardcore trade battle with China.

    So, foreign policy wise, I would color both with a deeply crimson brush.

    On the domestic side, what either president could accomplish will hinge on the makeup of Congress. Trump with both houses & a stacked Supreme Court could really roll back, well pretty much everything. He is certainly no friend of labor.

    Clinton will pick much more reasonable Justices and social policy will probably be fair to middlin’. Her past actions don’t speak well towards advancing the causes of labor over corporatism and without Congress there isn’t much useful she can do anyway even if so inclined. So, pretty much more of the same we have seen under Obama.

  38. If the Democrats get the Senate, filling the backlog of judges could be a priority. If the federal courts have a lot of less conservative judges now, the future won’t look as bad as if both the executive and the Senate are Republican.

  39. @caliso01 has a point: there will be an election in November, and the winner of that election will be the next U.S. President. While I concur with SKZB in the @OP that competence is a really strange argument to make when one looks at what “competence” actually means in this scenario.

    Thanks for the so-called USA PATRIOT Act, the domestic status of things in the U.S. is perpetual war. And in that context, there most certainly is a Constitutionally-approved basis for putting enemies in camps. The case is Korematsu v. U.S., and the majority holds that in wartime the decision of a military commander in a district under martial law is not reviewable by the courts.So, yeah, anything you can imagine.

    (The Reagan Administration actually tried to create the circumstances to bring such a case, using the so-called L.A. 8 as the test bunnies. As it happens, there is no better example I can think of the truth of @skzb’s argument than to realize that the attempt to create concentration camps using a hated minority to establish it (Palestinian Marxists) is that the Department of Justice both Reagan Administrations, that of Bush I and both of Bill Clinton’s 2 kept pursuing the case.)

    Umm., yeah, so where were we. Oh, yes, competence as a positive argument for one candidate over another. There is another way to look at things; however, nothing I could write here that is evidence-based would move the needle a jot.That’s because, as every financial disclosure will state, “past performance is no guarantee of future results.”

    From the standpoint of working toward a socialist revolution, the definition of “best president” becomes the one whose actions help establish a more favorable environment for the revolution to not only occur but to succeed. My reading, for what it may be worth (margin approaching zero), is that Trump is more likely to foment a crisis that would suggest a war of maneuver is the best action, and it seems improbable-at-best that the capitalist class would have lost the police and the military. While a general crisis would make it easier in one sense to establish counter-hegemonic institutions and those that did become stable would have extraordinary impacts; the continued erosion of the hegemonic fairy tale which Clinton represents offers a more likely basis for ongoing institution building and gradual evolution of revolutionary understanding.

    This, of course, means I see Clinton as less likely to foment a nuclear engagement than Trump. GIven Trump’s historic rhetoric about nuclear weapons and notwithstanding his random statements during the current Presidential campaign, he seems less likely than Clinton to use nuclear weapons first. Moreover, his chumminess with Putin suggests a negagement there is unlikely. Yet I don’t see the global capitalist class as uneasy enough to see nuclear engagement to be there best option to retain power, and even see that as contra-indicated. Clinton, with greater awareness of the needs of capitalism (her greatest competence) and better connected in both the “public” and “private” sectors than Trump, is the individual I judge less likely to lead the globe into a thermonuclear engagement.

  40. Steve Halter:

    “Another way to do it would be to allow for the free movement of people.”

    If all governments let people go wherever they want and work wherever they want, wouldn’t that make all governments as irrelevant as state governments in the USA?

  41. Yes, I see it as a feature too, but how do we get the governments to see it as a feature? Is there any government in the world that does it that way today? (Unless we count vestigial governments like US states, or the nations of the EU.

  42. “If the Democrats get the Senate, filling the backlog of judges could be a priority. If the federal courts have a lot of less conservative judges now, the future won’t look as bad as if both the executive and the Senate are Republican.”

    I consider it less likely that the Democrats win the Senate now than I did 6 months ago, because the Democrats are way less popular now than then. There are many more Republican seats up for re-election than Democrats, so if we assume that a lot of them are unsteady and could go Democrat, then the odds are some of them will. But there are various reasons to think that doesn’t so much apply. It might be a low-turnout election, and Republicans tend to win those. People who don’t vote for Clinton might not vote for other Democrats. Etc.

    In 2018 there will be a lot more Democratic seats up for re-election and the Democrats are likely to lose the senate then if they get it now. Also if they don’t get it now they are likely to slip farther, particularly if Bernie supporters have 2-year memories of those senators as superdelegates.

    That aside, it looks less likely to me that Clinton would appoint less-conservative judges than it did a year ago. The more I see of her, the less liberal she looks.

    The government is gradually looking to me more like it surely does to Steven. Like a pair of hyenas growling at each other, each of them hoping to get the lion’s share of the carcass, neither of them in any way representing me.

  43. Stuffing envelopes for Eugene McCarthy.
    A summer associate at Treuhaft, Walker, and Bernstein
    Registering voters in Texas for George McGovern.
    Working on education and healthcare improvements — especially for the poor and minorities – during the 1980s.
    Spending untold political capital fighting for national healthcare in the 1990s.

    A history of mostly lost causes, except for the legislative victories in Arkansas. It might be informative that those victories were often *criticized* by the left because they weren’t pure enough – they were in part paid for by a regressive sales tax.

    The 90s healthcare fight and the utter failure at the hands of corporate lobbyists and PR flacks with the public unable or unwilling to defeat them may have taught her a few things about grass roots revolution in America.

    Stay home. Don’t vote. She’s definitely not perfect.

  44. Oneillsinwisconsin:

    So, do you figure that she worked for good causes until she burned out and gave up?

    And now that she’s stopped trying, she should be president?

    I’m not sure it makes sense to hand the government to the ones who used to work for good causes but who have now decided to join the bad guys.

  45. Like SKZB I was born in the 50s – though I am a few years younger. My worldview was forged in the crucible of the 1960s and all that entails; the Cold War, Civil Rights, Vietnam, rock ‘n roll, sexual liberation, feminism, and recreational drugs. All of this immediately followed by Watergate, OPEC, and the tragedy that was the Carter Administration.

    So, before I had graduated HS I had formed a thesis that remains basically unchanged; American foreign policy is basically indistinguishable regardless the party affiliation of the sitting President. And that the flaws/mistakes in foreign policy could be attributable to the lack of a clear, coherent, and consistently applied policy based on principles of democracy, freedom, and self-determination.

    Gandhian pacifism – or Christs’s instruction to turn the other cheek – is an ideal I’d like to permanently adopt, one I have often championed, but – in truth – have never fully had faith in. Could I turn the other cheek faced with a Hitler? Could I turn the other cheek faced with someone ready to kill me or my family? Me, perhaps. My family – no. We can wander through the Byzantine arguments of ‘just war’ and end up no closer to resolving this conflict.

    Is there a difference in a random drive-by killing and one in self-defense? Yes.
    Is there a difference in overthrowing Allende vs Gaddafi? Yes.
    Is there a difference between American intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq? Yes.

    Can reasonable people disagree on *what exactly justifies* any or all violent actions on the part of an individual or state? Yes. And while it passes time to argue the ‘what exactly justifies’ part – if it’s the result of a clear, coherent, consistent policy that follows a set of acceptable principles, then — unless one is either a hypocrite or an ivory tower idealist — it’s hard to argue against the action with much real conviction.

  46. Wars haven’t been about what they claim for a long, long time.

    What’s the difference between Iran and Saudi Arabia? Iran rebelled against our business interests first. Even though the people are closer to being like Americans, they are the bad guys. Saudi Arabia figured out how to get business interests on its side.

  47. “I wonder how effective Trump is at persuading Republicans to stay home.”

    More effective than Clinton is at persuading Democrats to stay home?

    It’s a whole lot easier to get past inertia when you’re going off to vote for good versus bad, than when it’s for very bad versus worse.

    I’ve been surprised how few Republicans want to support Gary Johnson. If you want freedom and small government and the alternative is Trump, why not?

    I’ve been even more surprised how many fewer Democrats say they’ll vote for Stein.

    Of course, the same polls say that about 1% of Democrats who’re registered to vote say they won’t vote, about 1% of Republicans registered to vote say they won’t, and about 5% of registered independents say that. But the highest voting in my lifetime was 1960 at 63%. So probably a third of the people who say they will vote are mistaken.

  48. “Could I turn the other cheek faced with a Hitler?

    You turn the other cheek when somebody slaps you. They are communicating an insult.

    You don’t turn the other heart when they stab you in the heart.

    Hitler came out of a time when Germany suffered. Old people who had worked hard to get a decent pension suddenly found themselves penniless and dependent on charity when there wasn’t enough to go around. Poor people starved, and every hungry man who didn’t share with them while they starved was complicit. If the world had been kinder to Germans I think Hitler would not have gotten so much support.

    And if the world had been kinder to Jews when Hitler was oppressing them, I think Jabotinsky would not have gotten so much support.

    Better if we persuade them to be nice guys before they get so angry that we need to kill them.

    “Is there a difference in overthrowing Allende vs Gaddafi? Yes.”

    There are always differences. It sounds like you want to say one was right and the other was wrong. Which is which in your opinion?

    “Is there a difference between American intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq? Yes.”

    Again, it sounds like you want to say one of them was right and the other was wrong, and I’m curious which.

    “if it’s the result of a clear, coherent, consistent policy that follows a set of acceptable principles, then — unless one is either a hypocrite or an ivory tower idealist — it’s hard to argue against the action with much real conviction.”

    It sounds like you’re saying that if the government policy fits what you’d want them to do, then you can’t argue against it. They should start with principles you accept, and then carry them out in a clear, coherent, consistent way.

    So yes. You find their principles acceptable and their execution of the acceptable so you can’t much argue against them.

    Has all that happened to you some time in living memory? Are you old enough to feel like Korea was justified that way? I can’t think of a more recent war that it could apply to.

  49. I think a lot of republicans will stay home. It is pretty obvious that the GOP brand has gone off the rails into never never land. Party loyalty only goes so far and once betrayed will be lost forever.

    Unfortunately, the democrats are in a similar situation with Clinton being a republican in liberal clothing. So the turnout might be bad for both parties.

  50. J Thomas:” Is there any government in the world that does it that way today?”
    Yes, I would count the EU on this. They have a number of things wrong, but freedom of movement they got right.

    As a side note, Ada Palmer’s “Too Like the Lightning” has some very interesting political takes on Earth 400 years into the future. Freedom of movement is one cornerstone. Ability to choose your own political system is another. At the time the story is set, some cracks are showing though.

  51. Steve Halter: ” I would count the EU on this. They have a number of things wrong, but freedom of movement they got right.”

    And to the extent it works, the individual EU governments tend to wither away, to become more like US state governments or Swiss cantons. Meanwhile the EU does not accept freedom of movement from outside the EU. Because that’s where the real government borders are.

  52. J Thomas – if you really don’t know which sides of those issues I would accept as having a reasonably justified position, then you’re really not reading very hard. I really shouldn’t have to spell it out.

    Allende came to power through democratic election; Gaddafi via military coup.
    Afghanistan gave safe harbor to those behind the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. Iraq had zero complicity in the 9/11 attacks.

    Based on what I wrote, these are the compelling differences. How anyone could construe the opposite from what I wrote requires more contortions and distortions than I am at present willing to contemplate.

    I hope you’re not ‘just asking questions.’

  53. oneillsinwisconsin:

    Allende came into power through democratic election, but the US government said that he was a socialist/communist and that he might not allow any more elections. For all I know you might believe them about that.

    Meanwhile, Gadaffi had officially declared himself a figurehead and claimed that power was diluted among many local democratic organizations which proposed legislation which converged upward to a central democratic organization that pushed the legislation back down to be voted on by all the local groups. If you believe him, he created a beautiful democratic nation. For all I know you might believe him about that.

    Gadaffi had basicly surrendered. He had disassembled his weak beginning of a nuclear program. He applied to be a US client state. When we had him killed anyway, it sent an explicit message to other national leaders who might be tempted to collaborate with us. Of course, we abandoned Mubarak of Egypt about the same time. I personally believe we ought to try to avoid killing foreign leaders, and particularly foreign leaders who have tried to cooperate with us. We should help them escape from insurrections. They are likely to make better decisions when they believe that their own lives aren’t on the line. If we had offered Saddam a billion dollars and exile in Los Angeles (If the French Riviera wouldn’t have him) along with exile and a second billion dollars split among the top 100 underlings he chose in return for giving us Iraq, we might likely have gotten a much better handoff of power there. Build democracy and let them vote each year whether to stay with us, apply for statehood or go independent, and likely we could have kept them like Puerto Rico as long as we wanted to. Instead we insisted on fighting our way in and capturing him, and it cost us at least a thousand times as much plus we never did really own Iraq.

    For myself, I don’t think that either intervention was justified. If a sovereign nation chooses to nationalize industries, then that’s their choice, subject to whatever repayments the World Court imposes. If a sovereign nation chooses to create a gold-based currency, that also is their right.

    Afghanistan and Iraq? We agree about Iraq. Afghanistan was recognized by only a handful of nations and was getting threats by the USA. But they were far from anything important and they had strong support from the Pakistani government which wanted a client state there.

    After 9/11 Pakistan dropped support, so they would not do so well over time. They had to decide what to do about 9/11 and we attacked before they could decide. We intentionally stayed inside their OODA loop.

    I don’t know what Bush wanted or why he wanted it, but the US public wanted to invade somebody for 9/11, and Afghanistan was what we could get. Maybe the Afghan government would have given us Bin Ladin if we had actually given them evidence he was involved in 9/11. Maybe they would have let him escape to another nation. Either way we could have avoided invading Afghanistan, one of the worst possible places for us.

    We invaded Afghanistan because we wanted to. If we hadn’t wanted to, there were plenty of alternatives we could have tried, that might have worked out so we didn’t have to. We didn’t try any of them because we didn’t want alternatives.

  54. We’re very good at persuading others to not trust us. This applies to anybody we wish to provide us with information as well as to the leaders of countries.

  55. On another hand, I do see the support that Bernie received as a positive indication. That not a small number of people are willing to embrace elements that are at the least labeled Socialist indicates a definite break with typical reactions in the US in the past. One might say this is a nice incremental change in attitude.
    As we stand in the midst of negative chaos, what other signs of positive actual leftward thinking do people here see?

  56. “As we stand in the midst of negative chaos, what other signs of positive actual leftward thinking do people here see?”

    What I see is a lot of people are increasingly unwilling to accept the bullshit they get from the establishment. I don’t see that they particularly accept “left” thinking, they just reject the status quo and they’re looking for something else.

    Like, health care. Trump says he will establish free competition and with competition prices will fall fast so it will be affordable. They look at their healthcare, where they check into a hospital and can’t get any estimate about prices at all. And how do you get enough health insurance companies that they compete on price, when successful health insurance companies are giants, and the policies are 50 pages of fine print? How can you possibly tell what services you are buying when you get one? In theory ACA is supposed to help with that by requiring insurance companies to offer standardized policies so you know what you get is the same from company to company and you can compare prices. Except it doesn’t work that way.

    You look at the reality, and then look at Trump’s promises, and there just is no connection.

    Meanwhile the mainstream is the same way. They say we have to let market forces decide how many solar panels to produce. The fossil fuels get subsidized, they get more expensive to collect so they get bigger subsidies and the costs distribute over the rest of the economy. Some years energy is expensive and solar panels look like they’ll pay themselves off fast, other years it’s cheap and they don’t pay off. You have to guess the market to figure whether you can survive in that business next year. We are supposed to create a special tax on fossil fuels that will give them an incentive not to make environmental damage, and if we do it right then they will quit burning fossil fuels at the correct rate. The government regulators are supposed to predict the market well enough to do the right things to get the right result. But if they were that good at predicting markets, they could get 10-hour/week jobs on Wall Street at 30 times the pay.

    Meanwhile, the legislature does not accomplish anything voters want because it’s split into two teams which treat legislation like a football game, and whatever one team tries to accomplish the other team does their best to stop. Except every now and then when it’s something that some particular rich people want, they just do it quick.

    A whole lot of people see that the stories they’re getting told are bullshit. That maybe doesn’t make them go leftist. The leftist stories might be bullshit too. But they’re ready for something different whether it gets labeled leftist or not. They might prefer leftish ideas that are repackaged to not look leftish. Just obvious approaches to solve obvious problems.

  57. J Thomas:There is certainly a lot of dissatisfaction out there. Some percentage of the ~40% of people who say they support Trump are doing so out of a general reaction against a broken system. If that set of people could be supplied with (and were willing to consume) fact based information that would go a long way towards moving political discourse in the correct fashion.
    Unfortunately, it seems to be the case that teaching people how to separate the signal from the noise is not something the American educational system is doing very well. So, we have the current state of affairs where the noise level keeps increasing while the ability to discern the signal remains weak. Of course, that is exactly the state that those on the right have been cultivating for quite some time and leads to the rise of exactly the sort of demagogue that Trump is.
    So, how to train people not to fall for the reactionary con? I have observed first hand, people who are certain that they possess the facts and even when shown that the facts they think they have are easily shown to be false, react by entrenching in their position. I’m not sure how to proceed against that sort of mindset.
    Of course, that is part and parcel with the negative chaos that I was referring to before.

  58. Steve- I am increasingly certain that education is the key to everything. Democracy without comprehensive education in critical thinking is not just an ineffective system, it is dangerously unstable one. Of course, this is known in the halls of power. Why else the relentless attack on public education from the Right and the utterly ineffective quibbling in defense of it from the Left?

    It would take a generation of concerted effort, at least, to raise the standards of public discourse in this country, and that is the one area where I see no political will at all. Standardized tests and vouchers are the only topics of discussion, and the only voices raised about content harp on whitewashing history.

  59. Do you have evidence that education is the key to everything? I see lots of educated people on the extreme right. It appears to be a brain difference, not an education difference.

  60. Howard- a degree is not an education. Even Drumph has a degree from a “Top, First Class, Really Unbelievably Good School”.

    Yes, there is ample evidence that some individuals have a preference for domineering leaders and strict, dogma based views of the world. There is much less evidence that that preference is instilled by genetics rather than environment. It is that way with a lot of human behavior. Teasing out nature vs nurture is a cliche in science for a reason.

    But even if you accept that the divide between Conservative Brains and Liberal Brains are inborn, there is plenty of evidence that more education, regardless of its quality, increases tolerance for others and social engagement. Does that mean that everyone who gets through college is going to have the compassion of Ghandi or King? Of course not. But on the whole, looking at populations, more education makes better citizens.

    For at least a generation, the Right, has attempted to cut away at the foundation of any education, primary schooling, with the total acquiescence of the Moderates that pass for the Left in this country. Is it any wonder that a crude conman like Trump can find enough marks to build a power base? Compare the quality of his line of bullshit with what was peddled by Reagan. The content is not much different, but the effort at disguising its illogic and self-contradiction has been completely dropped.

  61. I have seen the same claim made by various Right wings (and Isis is recruiting that way). Better education (meaning religious indoctrination) will solve world problems. It’s easy to assume that properly educated people will naturally come to our views. Evidence seems to show that some people move towards us – and others move in other directions.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we could educate (not indoctrinate) everybody and they would all start thinking the way *we* think they should think? That’s what the other guys wish as well.

  62. Howard- I really don’t require that everyone think the same way I do. That wouldn’t be beneficial to humanity. I would like that the people that disagree be as well informed as they are capable of becoming, and that they be equipped with all the tools of civil discourse they are capable of using.

    I firmly believe that exposure to contrary ideas is of value to everyone. I firmly believe that rational discussion between people of different beliefs is of great value to both. That is what I mean by education, and I don’t expect it to eliminate selfish political philosophy, and I wouldn’t want it to. The world needs more thinkers that disagree. The world does not need more thoughtless.

  63. I agree with larswydson. Contrary ideas and beliefs are great. Contrary facts, not so much.
    Everyone should have the intellectual tools to at least determine things like:
    1) these statements are easily shown true/false (2+2=5),
    2) these statements require further testing/refinement to determine factualness (quantum gravity, etc),
    3) these statements are matters of personal taste (I like skzb’s books),
    4) these statements are not testable (religion)

    Unfortunately, many people seem to not only be able to tell the difference between these rough categories, they seem unable to determine the difference between simple facts vs. myths.

  64. I agree that it is a brain issue, or at least experience (authoritarian parents) so deep that it is not something they could easily change, even if they wanted to (which they don’t).

  65. Which brings up another pet peeve of mine. People often do not argue the thing that is really important to them because they do not want to put that at risk. So you get irrational and contradictory things going on.

    At least with Trump, some of that veneer is gone and you can see he is a racist and a woman abuser. Hard to claim he is grabbing them by the pussy for their own good. But I am surprised he didn’t try that argument.

  66. “Hard to claim he is grabbing them by the pussy for their own good. But I am surprised he didn’t try that argument.”

    I cannot condone his approach. However, I do want to point out that it is bound to be useful to him.

    I’m sure he deals with a lot of women who want something from him, and who flirt with him hoping to charm him into doing what they want. When he does this, it gets immediately clear whether they will make a deal or not. If they put up with it, then they definitely want or need something from him to the point they will make a deal of some sort, they will trade their bodies for something and he only has to find out what they want and what they will settle for and whether he wants them that much.

    It cuts out a whole lot of slow maneuvering.

    And women who don’t intend to make that kind of deal will immediately reveal that, and he can give up on negotiating that kind of deal.

    There’s a certain je ne sais quoi elegance to it.

  67. There are guys who basically go up to women and ask if they will go to bed with them. He may only get one positive response out of 50, but since he can talk to 100 women in a night, the odds are in his favor.

    A person needs a thick skin to do this kind of thing.

  68. I expect it’s easier for him because a lot of people know he has money. So women who need money (or the sort of favors he can do for them having money and connections) are likely to try to crowd around him. And women who don’t want or need to be around crass creepy older men will tend to avoid him.

    And of course his opinion of women will be biased by the women who throw themselves at him.

  69. Trump is a posturing egomaniac who takes advantage of having all the power in these situations to enact assaults. Don’t give him any credit for any sort of rational planning. Typical sexual predator.

  70. “Don’t give him any credit for any sort of rational planning.”

    He might use rational planning to get what he wants. Or possibly he had enough power that he doesn’t need to do rational planning. I dunno.

    I tend to disapprove of the social environment that produces people like Trump and Bill Clinton.

    On the other hand, consider Steven Brust. By all accounts Steven is polyamorous and enjoys having sex with a lot of women who enjoy being with him. If Steven was filthy rich and politically important, some of those women might say he raped them hoping to get money or to influence the politics. It’s a rough subculture. And so it’s hard for outsiders to know what’s going on. Bill Clinton could possibly be like Steven and not such a bad guy.

    But Trump has admitted to being a sexual predator. He shrugs it off as “locker room talk”, from a subculture where men talk that way to each other even when they don’t mean it. He could possibly be a good guy like Steven but from a culture where he had to talk like a sexual predator when women weren’t around. It’s possible. I don’t really believe that. I can see how it could possibly happen.

    I tend to disapprove of the culture that produces people like Trump.

  71. “There are guys who basically go up to women and ask if they will go to bed with them. He may only get one positive response out of 50, but since he can talk to 100 women in a night, the odds are in his favor.”

    When I tried that, it came out more like one in three. If you start with women who seem friendly and might be interested and ask them first, then you don’t need to bother with the ones who will probably say no.

  72. Howard- “Sounds good. Where has this worked in anything of any size?”

    The entire world?

    Not to sound a little flip, but you are thinking in absolutes, which is just what we want to avoid. There have been numerous studies demonstrating the direct relationship between intellectual development and tolerance. That is tolerance of all kinds, racial, gender roles, sexual orientation, religious, philosophical. The more you attempt to develop your mind, the more open you are to difference. Starting early is always better to reach full potential, but even individuals with the most impoverished educational and moral upbringing can get to college and learn to be at least a little more willing to accept new ideas and other ways of life.

    Could any education ever turn David Duke or Trump into decent human beings? No, of course not. Some causes really are lost. Does everyone walk out of school a card carrying Socialist? Obviously not, and again, I think a world with only orthodox socialists in it would be as fragile and intellectually stunted as a world of only Libertarians. But if our school system was delivering an adequate education to every child, we wouldn’t be facing the choice of candidates we see before us.

    Want proof? Just look at the demographic breakdown of Trump supporters. Last I heard, his only solid base of support was the cadre of non-college educated white males.

    There is no reason, except lack of political will, why our public school system couldn’t be delivering an education at least as good as most students get in community college. If it had over the last 20 years, Trump wouldn’t have a demographic at all.

    Oh, and I know Stephen’s OP actually deals with the moral equivalence of both candidates on some levels, but here I am going to have to vehemently disagree. Whatever political agenda each has, they differ in one very important respect. Trump is personally so vile that he brings down the tenor of the national character simply by being. The filth he spews normalizes the most repulsive strains of our culture, gives voice to the most regressive attitudes and opinions. However little I agree with Hillary’s economic or foreign policies, electing Trump to the presidency would send message to the whole world that we value nothing at all.

  73. Looking back on this discussion from a little more than 5 weeks ago, doesn’t it seem quaint now?

    If Trump or Clinton win the election, they are likely to face impeachment proceedings starting the first day. Or maybe Trump won’t.

    If Trump loses, will he declare the election was rigged? A lot of the military has appeared to support him and maybe vote for him, how many of the top officers does that include? This time last year I wouldn’t have thought the question would even come up….

    Clinton has established pretty much the ultimate in low expectations. It will be hard for her to do worse than people expect. (But then, what’s worse than global thermonuclear war?) If in 2020 she arranges a $9 minimum wage that will gradually come into effect over the next 10 years, that will be better than people expect. Trump ditto. Anything bad he fails to accomplish will be a pleasant surprise.

    The fate of the US economy depends strongly on trade deals with China. By traditional standards China very much has the upper hand and the USA has to go along with whatever they say.

    Anybody who can think that Clinton is worth voting for because she’s better than Trump, should have no problem believing that TPP is good because of how it affects our China negotiations, regardless of anything else it does.

    And any US president doing those negotiations is likely to threaten war when all else fails. China could impose terms which would be as bad as losing a war. Also, the US public can accept austerity when it’s for a war. A long time ago Carter tried to get us to do “the moral equivalent of war” to achieve energy independence. The voters much preferred to kick ass in the middle east instead, and we’ve been kicking ass in the middle east ever since. If the Chinese reduce us to poverty, we’ll be upset about it and we’ll want a war. If we have to accept penury so we can win a war, after China does a sneak attack that violates all the wonderful moral standards we have always followed, people will be patriotic and they will vote for the politicians who lead them.

    It ought to be pretty easy to avoid nuclear war with China. They have an estimated 250 bombs, not enough to imagine they could “win”. If we don’t attack with nukes, and if we don’t attack their nukes, it makes sense they will agree not to nuke us first. Especially since they have already made the promise that they will never nuke anybody first — a promise that we categorically refuse to make.

    Those are likely to be fascinating negotiations. However, by traditional standards the Chinese hold all the cards and we are supposed to just fold quick. It takes some special negotiator to get a different outcome. Some way to change everyone’s perception….

  74. Here is a conclusion I have made from the election.

    We need better computer security.

    The NSA has been careful to eliminate actual computer security. They have a big variety of ways to crack it. They have left so many ways open, that foreign governments and private individuals use some of them too.

    Lots of Americans have thought it was good for US national security for NSA to be the best at that. They can find out everybody’s secrets and use them for America. But when nobody’s communications are secure, we are worse off. We are worse off when our enemies can read 70% of our messages, even if we can read 100% of theirs.

    One of the reasons is that our enemies rarely say anything all that interesting. Most of it is pretty much predictable even if you don’t actually see it. But a lot of US secrets are downright *embarrassing*.

    Another is that we have important secrets kept in insecure places. All this Democratic Party stuff shows that. (Not that the GOP is better. It’s just they currently don’t have any secrets anybody cares much about….)

    We have got to get better security. For everybody. Because you can’t give good security stuff to tens of millions or hundreds of millions of people, and keep it a secret from everybody else. We are better off when everybody can keep secrets, than when we can’t.

    So we need the NSA to change their focus. They should develop software tools which make it trivial to keep something secure. Release those tools for everybody who writes browsers or operating systems etc. Explain what the tools do that’s special which makes them good, and watch amateurs and private-industry sources do it over their own way.

    Make secure systems the default.

    (Incidentally, any system whose security depends on idiots creating and remembering their own passwords, is insecure.)

    Democratic politicians ought to be ready to go along with that now.

    And Republicans shouldn’t be too far behind. Just because they’ve been too boring and predictable for anybody to bother to publish their hacked data, doesn’t mean they will always be that boring.

  75. John Maynard Keynes, “The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead.

    Meanwhile, in the near future, as Keynes understood is where we actually happen to live, the consequences of a Trump victory means we may likely see these headlines:

    *** Obamacare repealed: millions of people lose health insurance.
    *** Fear strikes immigrant communities as massive deportations begin.
    *** U.S. backs out of climate change treaties even as global warming accelerates
    *** Supreme Court reverses Roe V. Wade
    *** Poverty programs, education and science funding bear the brunt of spending cuts as deficits rise

    And J. Thomas’ takeaway is the need for improved computer security? WTF?

  76. oneillsinwisconsin wrote:

    “J. Thomas’ takeaway is the need for improved computer security? WTF?”

    This is a big issue, and for gods sack we ought to be reaching a consensus by now.

    Things we have a consensus about are things we might actually get short-run results about. Treasure them.

    “*** Supreme Court reverses Roe V. Wade”

    I tend to doubt this one. Abortion has been a useful kayfabe issue for a long time. If the GOP gives the anti-abortion crowd this victory, will those people say thank you? Not hardly. They will instead lose interest in politics. Meanwhile the pro-abortion people will be outraged and will campaign as hard as they possibly can.

    To the extent that the Supreme Court is actually part of the system, as opposed to a collection of addled ancients who decide things based on how their bunions feel today, they will not repeal Roe vs Wade. It is too useful.

  77. The abortion issue was what the Religious Right decided upon after it got addicted to power fighting the government claiming that all-white Bob Jones University could not get a tax exemption. If it goes away, the Religious Right will find another issue.

  78. ” If it goes away, the Religious Right will find another issue.”

    Yes, but the GOP is comfortable with this perpetual issue. It doesn’t really get them anything to give it to the Religious Right, and it hurts them by riling up the Democrats.

    For four years with GWB the GOP had president, house and senate. The Democrats could do nothing except clank their chains and maybe wiggle enticingly and say “Please come back and rape us harder”. What did the GOP do? They sucked money out of the economy. They ran the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in ways that would look incompetent if you thought their purpose was to win wars instead of suck money out of the wars. They built a bloated security apparatus in the USA which was expensive and utterly incompetent at finding terrorists, but excellent for sucking money from. They did nothing about abortion, or gun control, or smaller government, or any of their issues. Except they forbid EPA or OSHA to investigate their friends — for a price charged to their friends. At one point Bush said “Ooooh, look, I got some political capital! What you do with capital is spend it as fast as you can!” So he started talking about getting rid of Social Security and his “political capital” evaporated immediately.

    The GOP practically acted like they didn’t have any ideology.

    For two years with Obama the Democrats had president, house and senate. They did essentially nothing. They dickered back and forth among themselves to create a compromise healthcare system which would not quite last to the end of Obama’s term. That’s about it. Nothing about abortion, or gun control, or pollution, or undoing the Patriot Act, or minimum wage, or undoing NAFTA or anything his voters cared about, except for some symbolic gestures like same-sex marriage. Then when the elections were approaching the Democrats mostly didn’t try to campaign. They said it was inevitable they would lose the House so they didn’t even try, and sure enough they never got it back.

    They only have ideology when they’re running for office. Not when they actually have power. When they have power they get uncomfortable and arrange to lose it. Both sides feel a lot better when they can point out the other side will stop them from doing anything.

  79. LOL. I would hope that the Democrats would learn something from this. But they probably won’t and will run Hillary once again. After all, it’s her turn to be president. ;>) Cory Booker would be a good candidate as Bernie will be too old.

    “May you live in interesting times.” Indeed.

  80. ‘I do not doubt that Secretary Clinton will do a better job of provoking Russia and China, and leading us toward world war, than Mr. Trump. I do not consider this a good reason to vote for either of them.’

    You know, if you wanted to communicate then you could have done that a great deal better. Looking at that statement which you presented I note that you made no attempt to explain, analyse, or provide evidence to substantiate it. It was simply handed down from on high. And in doing this (or rather failing to do this) you come across as the archetypal smug old white guy, helpfully providing wisdom to those in need thereof, which generarily in turn results in rounding up the usual suspects.

    We have our own homegrown fascists; one of them, Nigel Farage was assisting Donald Trump. But as far as you are concerned, apparently that doesn’t matter. Instead you use the classic word used to demean women everywhere in the world: ‘provoking”. All over the world guys beat up and/or kill women, and the defence is ‘she provoked me’. And yet you are a writer, a great writer, who surely must understand the power of words, and yet you use it to dog whistle a truly appalling view of women.

    I’m really, really disheartened by this, I’d hoped you would be better than this…

  81. What utter, nonredeemable crap. Do you think I’m an idiot? Do you think that sort of unserious, ideological gamesmanship is something I won’t notice? Provoke is a word that means: provoke. I’ve also said more than once that Obama is provoking Russia,but I’m supposed to go hunt up a less precise word because one of the people engaged in the same political action has different plumbing than the other?

    And as for “pronouncements from on high,”I have been assuming that people here are, at least, more-or-less familiar with the news: Secretary Clinton has repeatedly said she would escalate the fighting in Syria. I know and all the world knows that this will bring the US into direct conflict with Russia, which makes the threat a provocation; pointing out the connection would be to insult my readers’ intelligence, which I would prefer not to do, even when they insult mine.

  82. “What utter, nonredeemable crap.”

    I want to point out that this has deep roots in patriarchy.

    When even upper-class women were oppressed, rhetoric was one of their few tools. Men who believed that the world was s dangerous jungle where only the most unfeeling brutes could survive, would be forbidden to use that sort of language in front of ladies. There, they had to use entirely different wordings, claiming to bring culture and justice to the natives etc. For every savage atrocity they had to invent altruistic utopian wording.

    And the women could occasionally influence them. When something sounded wrong the women could insist that they had to do what women wanted, or else be utter cads. And to some extent the men had to go along.

    Minor tiny scraps of victories. But something.

    And now that there is a degree of freedom, many women still have the old instincts. As if their only power comes from forcing men to agree to their words and phrasing. As if the Sapir-Whorf theory works in only one direction, as if forcing people to use your language forces them to think like you.

    That isn’t a justification for bad behavior. But there’s something going on here that’s worth understanding.

    Imagine we actually had a socialist transformation and people responded with their old instincts. So a coordinator tries to get work scheduled and people lie to him whenever they think they can get away with it, because they are responding like they would to a boss. Imagine all the trouble that would cause! But somehow the society would have to deal with all the old instincts until they could somehow be replaced by better habits….

  83. skzb – “I do not doubt that Secretary Clinton will do a better job of provoking Russia and China, and leading us toward world war, than Mr. Trump. ”

    Jamie – “Looking at that statement which you presented I note that you made no attempt to explain, analyse, or provide evidence to substantiate it. It was simply handed down from on high”

    skzb – “Secretary Clinton has repeatedly said she would escalate the fighting in Syria. I know and all the world knows that this will bring the US into direct conflict with Russia, which makes the threat a provocation; pointing out the connection would be to insult my readers’ intelligence..”

    Donald Trump — “Now, with that being said, she talks tough against Russia, but our nuclear program has fallen way behind and they’ve gone wild with their nuclear program, Not good.”

    Donald Trump — “Without China, North Korea doesn’t even eat. China is ripping us on trade. They’re devaluing their currency and they’re killing our companies. Thousands of thousands — you look at the number of companies and the number in terms of manufacturing of plans that we’ve lost — 50,000 because of China. We’ve lost anywhere between four and seven million jobs because of China. …

    What I’m saying is this, I’m saying that we do it but if they don’t start treating us fairly and stop devaluing and let their currency rise so that our companies can compete and we don’t lose all of these millions of jobs that we’re losing, I would certainly start taxing goods that come in from China. ”

    Donald Trump — “ISIS is making a tremendous amount of money because they have certain oil camps, certain areas of oil that they took away, They have some in Syria, some in Iraq. I would bomb the shit out of ’em. I would just bomb those suckers. That’s right. I’d blow up the pipes. … I’d blow up every single inch. There would be nothing left. And you know what, you’ll get Exxon to come in there and in two months, you ever see these guys, how good they are, the great oil companies? They’ll rebuild that sucker, brand new — it’ll be beautiful.”

    Donald Trump — “Iran, when they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats and they make gestures at our people that they shouldn’t be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water”

    Should I continue? You *have* insulted your reader’s intelligence. Some of us actually read and follow what these candidates have said. You, apparently, have not. What utter, nonredeemable crap.

  84. Then you’d better draw it out for me, because I haven’t seen a single thing you’ve written that denies my argument that Clinton would have provoked war with Russia.

  85. This just in: Using the word “provoking” in criticism of a powerful, controversial woman now sexist dog whistle. Offender backed away by (non sexist and totally justified) use of “you come across as the archetypal smug old white guy”, day saved. More at 11.

  86. I don’t think it’s logically consistent to believe that Clinton is a pawn of corporate and finance interests and to believe she’d provoke a war with Russia. She is a hawk, to be sure, but like almost all such — including all of her predecessors for quite a number of presidents — she’s a hawk that preys on lesser game. There is no corporate interest to be served in WWIII. Even the most vicious lords of the military-industrial complex only want limited wars with lesser, easily defeated foes, and maybe the occasional regional proxy war to boost weapon sales.

  87. I think the key wording was “better”, as in, “Clinton will do a better job of provoking Russia and China.” I’m sure she could be more effective than Trump at this if that is her goal. Her problem is that she would continue all the limited wars we have going and maybe starting more. How Russia reacts to this is the question. I think Clinton has a desire to prove she can be a tough as any man at this brinkmanship. A game that it is best to not have your ego involved.

    Hard to say what Trump plans to do about regional conflicts. He seems pliable by Russia, which would lower the risk. Until his ego gets bruised for some reason, then the threats will be made. Trump’s confrontational manners may not work well in negotiating with Russia and China. A skilled negotiator could use this and trumps ego to his disadvantage.

    So both sides risk confrontation with Russia. Trump is more confrontational about China. So flip a coin. We’ll just have to wait and see what international problems Trump creates and how he blames the Democrats for them.

    He still thinks Mexicans will pay for the new great wall. I wonder how long it will take before reality sinks in.

  88. We will never find out what Hillary would have done if she had won the election. Arguments about that are now forever hypothetical, they are alternate history.

    It’s a dead parrot.

    There are misguided souls who believe that Clinton would have been OK. You might as well let them continue their fantasies, because there will never be any proof they’re wrong. Thankfully. She was a menace that has been averted.

    Arguments about Trump are still in play, unfortunately. We will find out what his consequences are, unless we get vaporized before we notice.

    Will Trump’s own ego get in the way of his negotiating, or will he defer diplomacy to the diplomats? I dunno.

    Will he believe in crazy conspiracy theories, or will he get his info from the same rational, dependable, objective CIA reports that Obama and Bush used? Over the years, various Presidents campaigned claiming that they would make international changes. And then they listened to the experts tell them the secret knowledge about what’s really happening in the world, and then they mostly continued the status quo. Will Trump be different? I dunno.

    But it’s time to stop arguing about Clinton. Clinton is history. Whatever you think about what she would have done as president, is now completely irrelevant. Clinton is irrelevant.

    Unless she gets the nomination in 2020.
    Like a vampire arising from the dead….

  89. J Thomas:More worried about what Trump and his gang of cronies will do to the internal US. Health care could become a nightmare world for a lot of people. Even worse than pre-ACA.
    We’ll be finding these things out shortly.
    Clinton is moot.

  90. The Supreme Court, the EPA, the Department of Education… he has ample opportunities to do lasting damage to this country that will continue to cause pain long after his tenure has ended.

    But the chief existential threat he poses? OK, yes, nuclear exchange, no question, that would be a terrible result of this misguided election. But I can’t bring myself to believe that has any real likelihood of happening. Call me a starry-eyed optimist, if you must.

    No, the near certainty is that he will single-handedly scuttle any hope we have of reversing anthropogenic climate change before it reaches critical levels. Burn that coal! Pump that oil! Ban solar panels… We are the second biggest producer of greenhouse gasses on this planet, and while number one, China, has taken the high road and declared their commitment to clean energy, number three is India, and along with many of the other big producers have said that don’t see why they should suffer the expense of halting the potential extinction event if we won’t.

    Four years isn’t so long, in the big picture. The social and economic damage he can accomplish in that much time is horrendous, but in the long run, reversible. But four years of racing toward lethal temperature increases? We don’t have time enough to wait for that to fade.

  91. skzb writes: “Then you’d better draw it out for me, because I haven’t seen a single thing you’ve written that denies my argument that Clinton would have provoked war with Russia.”

    Can you NOT read or remember your own words? I even provided the quote to remind you of them. You did not limit yourself to speaking of Russia. I will repeat them:

    skzb wrote ““I do not doubt that Secretary Clinton will do a better job of provoking Russia and China, and leading us toward world war, than Mr. Trump. ”

    Russian *and* China
    and leading us toward world war, than Mr. Trump

    That’s three (3) propositions.
    She will provoke Russia more than Trump
    She will provoke China more than Trump
    She will lead us to WWIII more than Trump

    You provided zero evidence of any of these propositions – just as Jamie said.

    I provided evidence that he will provoke Russia by building more nuclear weapons (does it need to be explained that we have treaties detailing the number of weapons that can be built???)
    He will provoke China by engaging in a trade war.
    He will provoke the whole fucking civilized world by bombing anyone he’s upset with.

    On balance then, it’s clear Trump is the greater threat of provoking WWIII. Your imagination notwithstanding.

  92. Ah, okay. Check. Gotcha. I concede the point on China; I was wrong, you are right. As for Russia, I assume you, like the rest of the world, saw Trump making kissy face with Putin.

    As for greater danger of war. Tell me: to date, how many deaths in Trump responsible for? We know Clinton is responsible for tens, possibly hundreds of thousands. Who is more wired in to the intelligence community and to the military establishment? Thus, who would be more “competent” at provoking war?

  93. skzb – “Who is more wired in to the intelligence community and to the military establishment?”

    Unless you believe our intelligence community is actively working to start WWIII, you’re now arguing against your 3rd proposition that Clinton would be more likely to start WWIII. Any amateur in the ultimate positions of power can provoke WWIII – perhaps by starting a hot war in the Persian Gulf by sinking Iranian ships.

    No *sane* US President is going to pre-emptively launch nuclear missiles. The Russians and Chinese now have to assess whether Trump even qualifies as sane — especially given his bombastic (sic) rhetoric.

    And if Trump embarks on a program of suddenly increasing our nuclear missiles that will be more provocative to Russia than anything happening in Syria.

    For generations there has been almost no difference in American foreign policy regardless the party in power. We have avoided WWIII, but our foreign escapades are numerous. One could hope for a foreign policy that is clear, coherent, and applied in a consistent manner based on moral principles. What can be said is at least we were fairly predictable.

    Now, we have for the first time in our lifetimes a President who is a loose cannon. A person for whom the norms of behavior wouldn’t be allowed in most workplaces. If you think this is somehow an improvement, then you have some very, very strange notions of behavior. It seems you have latched onto one Trump position and somehow built this into a belief that he’s less likely to lead us into war. Weird.

  94. skzb – “. Tell me: to date, how many deaths in Trump responsible for? We know Clinton is responsible for tens, possibly hundreds of thousands.”

    WTF? I don’t know. You tell me. Do you have some magical 8-ball that will give you the answers? How many are you responsible for? How many am I responsible for?

    How exactly is this responsibility parsed out? Over 38 million military and civilian deaths are generally attributed to World War I. Does Gavrilo Princip get all those deaths marked on his ledger and only his?

    Frankly, I don’t think you’ve really thought any of this through and are just seeking rhetorical devices instead of facts or logic.

  95. Unfortunately, Clinton’s platform was about the same if you look at it closely.

    She intended to increase fracking tremendously, and build thousands of miles of pipelines. She said that her plan was to reduce fracking later — after she was history.

    She did say she would decrease coal. This will happen regardless because coal has become more expensive than methane. We don’t need it, it costs more, and by reducing coal we can pretend we’re doing something about climate change. I expect the same from Trump because it simply makes sense. There’s a chance he won’t make sense though.

    The only stated Clinton goal that came due on her watch was that she intended for solar panels to increase at the current rate, so that half a billion would be installed in 4 years. Her long-term plan hoped to reduce fossil fuels by 80% in 2050. Stein’s proposal — which looked feasible — was to increase renewable energy quick enough to stop all fossil fuels by 2030. That’s 14 years. If we start Stein’s plan 4 years late, it won’t be a 4 year delay because we will be starting with better technology. It will probably be more delay than with Clinton, though, whose half-hearted approach would have amounted to a 2 year delay without considering the technology improvement.

    It’s a setback, but not that much worse than Clinton. We were pretty much fucked either way.

  96. But now that I think of it….

    Clinton lost. So we will never find out who’s right about how bad she would have been.

    Arguing about Clinton is now a dead parrot. The argument is not pining for the fjords. It’s passed on. It is no more. It’s gone to meet its maker. This is an ex-argument.

  97. I think analyzing Clinton is more along the lines of a postmortem. Something you do so hopefully you do better the next time. In a sense, this is a good thing, like a 2 x 4 across the for-head. Hopefully it got the attention of the people running the Democratic party. But old habits die hard. We will have to see what happens.

  98. That makes sense. OK then, let’s review the bidding.

    After Reagan/Bush, people were tired of Republicans. The Reagan Revolution had run its course. So the Democrats ran another southern governor outsider, and Bill Clinton won.

    Bill Clinton didn’t do a whole lot in his first 2 years. He raised taxes to cut the deficit, after promising tax cuts to the middle class. He did a crime bill with harsher sentences. NAFTA. After 2 years he had a Republican House which could stop him from doing much. He tended to go along with them and one year even had a budget surplus. It could be argued that he kind of moved to the center. Maybe that move to the center persuaded a bunch of Democrats not to vote in 2000.

    Then GWB won, and the GOP celebrated, but they didn’t quite have a majority in the House. After 9/11 they did have a majority in both houses and for 4 years they raided the budget but didn’t do much that was particularly Republican apart from taking the money. By 2006 they lost their majority and by 2008 the Democrats were in control everywhere.

    Obama ran on Hope and Change, but in practice he stayed firmly center and didn’t do much. By 2010 he lost the House and couldn’t do much.

    Hillary ran basicly on the platform that she was good at what the government was doing and she would keep doing it competently. Her platform was firmly center, except for things that got foisted on her against the strong opposition of her own representatives.

    It looks to me like over the last 24 years, the Democrats have tried a policy of grabbing the center and forcing the GOP off to the right. They have attempted the monetary responsibility that the GOP threw away. “Socially liberal and fiscally conservative.” If they can hold onto the middle 40% of voters, then the 30% to the right and the 30% to the left can’t organize together against them. Deliver a solid, predictable product to big business and collect profits.

    Was this an attempt to break up the two-party status quo, and create one-party rule? It hasn’t worked, they got the presidency every other time, as usual, but the GOP has had 15 House or Senate majorities to Democrats’ 9.

    But it may have been a response to the GOP getting strong. Democrats may have felt the GOP got strong because the nation turned conservative, so they had to go along.

    Or they may have believed the GOP had succeeded in gerrymandering more than their share of states, and there was nothing that Democrats could do about that but compromise.

    Maybe Clinton’s loss means that a lot of Democrats are tired of voting for the center party and want change. Or maybe it means that after 8 years of Obama the nation is just tired of having a Democratic president, like they were tired of Republicans after Bush and tired of Democrats after Bill Clinton. Maybe the two-party system is completely functional and going strong, and this is all entirely normal, with extra excitement added by the media.

    Whatever the reality, I’m tired of it. I say a pox on both their houses. Take the wealth both parties suck out of the economy and put it into solar panels.

  99. In a year that the public was itching to blow up the system, the Democrats sabotaged their own tepid reformer during the primaries and instead presented for approval the system’s most faithful and rewarded servant. Then they lost. Lesson not learned.

  100. “No *sane* US President is going to pre-emptively launch nuclear missiles.”

    US capitalism is in the position of needing markets and control of resources. Secretary Clinton, to judge by past actions and her own statements, is pushing–as I said, provoking–Russia in hopes they’ll back down and no war will be necessary. Do you trust Putin to back down? Or might Putin reach the point of launching a strike. Pre-emtive is not the issue.

    “For generations there has been almost no difference in American foreign policy regardless the party in power.”

    There has been continuous warfare for the last 15 years. That’s a hell of a foreign policy. Starting it was criminal. Continuing it is worse. Escalating it is monstrous. That is what “competence” and why I first pointed out that competence may not be the right benchmark.

    Your remark about not knowing how many deaths Trump is responsible for is deeply disingenuous. We know that Secretary Clinton facilitated taking the lives of tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of human beings in the furtherance of US geopolitical interests. I point this out, in comparison to Trump, who for all his appalling bigotry, xenophobia, hate- and fear-mongering rubbish, hasn’t, so far as anyone knows, had anyone killed, and you brush it aside as if the lives Clinton took mean nothing. If you don’t mean that, then what do you mean? If you do mean that, it is barbaric.

  101. skzb, your latest post arguing that Clinton is as bad or worse than Trump is dated 14 November.

    The argument whether to vote for Clinton because Trump is so bad, versus whether to vote for Trump because Clinton is so bad, is over.

    There’s no longer any point in arguing that Clinton will make a worse president than Trump so vote for Trump.

    Discussion about what President Clinton will do have become Alternate History. You could write a novel about it.

    Although I’d rather see the story about what President Lee would have done after he won the Civil War.

    No, on second thought, I doubt I’d like that one either.

  102. Well, it’s skzb’s space, so if he wants to debate the fact that the world probably just dodged a bullet when the Red Queen and her neo-con cadre of very dangerous pyschotically aggressive Russia-baiting imperialists lost on November 8th, I would say he’s within his rights.

    It’s really really time to fire Victoria Nuland, though. If she still has a key role with the State Department under Trump, it will be a very bad sign for U.S.–Russia relations.

  103. Agreed, he has the right.

    I just want to point out that the main rationale to argue that Clinton is worse than Trump is gone.

    The election is over and we won’t get another chance to vote against Clinton unless she runs in 2020. And arguing that Trump is better than Clinton won’t be useful unless they both run in 2020, and you want to persuade people to vote for Trump.

    It’s just starting to look like a stale argument.

    We have to fight the evil autocrat we have, and not the evil autocrat we wish we had.

  104. J Thomas: I would guess the new post, “Election Post: Wouldn’t It Be Stupid…” would be more apt for post election discussion. Steve lists some things, but things like, “Wouldn’t It Be Stupid… if Trump appointed Bannon as his chief advisor” (oh, wait) would be just fine.

  105. The thrust of the argument is not that Clinton is more dangerous, it is that when we make “competence” the benchmark we need to explore the consequences of that competence, which was not being done, and is a point that I think is important, not just in terms of Clinton vs Trump, but as we move forward.

  106. “Unfortunately, science isn’t a strong point with the evil autocrat you have elected.”

    Yes, that looks bad. However, with an effort starting now the USA could eliminate fossil fuels by 2030. From a standing start in 2020, the same effort would not take until 2034, because the technology will have advanced some.

    There’s no point comparing to what we’d get with Clinton’s official plan, but it would be almost as bad.

  107. J Thomas

    I really, really wish I could share your optimism. Unfortunately, the data suggests that we don’t have the time, and the scientists working in the field don’t think we have the time. It’s not a question of the US being able to do its bit starting in 2020, expecting the rest of the world to have done so since 2016.

    China is the largest contributor, and it signed up to the Paris accords; the US is second. If the US uses fossil fuels as Trump says it should then so will India, the third largest contributor, which has made it clear that if those above them won’t make the sacrifice, then neither will it. In those circumstances expecting China to do so is not realistic; they will undoubtedly see it as just another guise for a trade war, with all the baggage that entails.

    I really, really wish you were right.


  108. Most of the world would never call neo-liberal Obama “back to the center”. Their right wings would never think about having anything as rightest as ObamaCare. Right of Nixon and Reagan isn’t what they think of as conservative.

  109. J Thomas: Ken MacLeod wrote a novel about HRC’s term following Gore’s two terms (it was written after 2000); I believe it was “The Execution Channel.”

  110. @Stevie: “Unfortunately, the data suggests that we don’t have the time, and the scientists working in the field don’t think we have the time. ”

    You’re probably right. However, it was always real real iffy at best.

    Clinton’s plan was utterly and completely inadequate. She intended to reduce US carbon production somewhat — she would have us do a whole lot of fracking and gradually replace coal with methane, while increasing fossil fuel production enough to export a lot. Then she had a plan for somebody else sometime in the future to reduce fossil fuels to the point that we could replace 80% of them by 2050. Linearizing that (which we can’t because she was actually going to increase fossil fuels dramatically first), we would add about 21 years worth of this year’s carbon production over the next 34 years.

    We never had a chance except with Jill Stein and the Green party. They intended to eliminate US fossil fuel burning by 2030. That could be done but it would require a big effort. Stein lost the election.

    We can still eliminate US fossil fuel burning by maybe 2032, if we can start by 2020. I have 4 years to persuade Americans to get serious about that. If they don’t want to stop using fossil fuels, they can still develop the energy sources because they want to improve US balance of payments, and they want to reserve fossil fuels for the military, and it’s a good investment that pays off quickly, etc.

    I don’t want to assume it’s too late, because that doesn’t do me any good. I gain nothing from that assumption so I won’t do it.

    Even if we get bad climate change, the investment in renewable energy will be useful unless we get so much permanent cloud cover that it doesn’t produce much, or we get so many super-hurricanes that it’s mostly smashed, etc.

  111. skzb – You throw out numbers as if they had some meaning. They don’t. Pure rhetoric. Smoke blowing out of ass. Clinton has *never* been in a position with the authority to even make those decisions. The President is called Commander-In-Chief for a reason. Are you claiming she flew the planes that dropped the bombs? Piloted the drones? Pulled the triggers? Rhetoric plain and simple.

    If you simply mean she supported policies that led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, fine. So has Trump. He supported Bush’s Irag War just as Clinton did. Just as millions of Americans did. We *all* support policies that cost lives. Give me your magic 8-ball accounting for each and every one of us.

    And of course you neglect the other side of the balance. The Clinton Foundation is also credited with *saving* millions of lives.
    The Clinton Foundation Is Not a Scandal. It’s a Phenomenal, Life-Saving Success.

  112. The ability of Clinton supporters to deny her crimes is exceeded only by the ability of Trump supporters to deny his racism. I give up. Those will not see, will not see.

  113. I condemn her “legal” crimes. I leave others to investigate whether she’s guilty of standard crimes (you know the kind Trump does).

    Selling out to Big Money is Washington as Usual and should be illegal. It certainly is immoral.

  114. oneill – Is Secretary of State just a vanity post? Obama has the lion’s share of blame for destabilizing Libya, rampant drone strikes, arming rebels in Syria, allowing ISIS to rise in Iraq, and selling weapons to Saudi Arabia (how’s Yemen this time of year?), but to insinuate Clinton had no more blame in any of it than, say, someone who voted for Obama, smacks of serious denial at the very least. An actual ethical person in her position would have protested any one of those actions and/or resigned rather than be a part of it. Instead she stayed, even laughed at the murder of Gaddafi and the wrecking of Libya by our government’s hands. She is a terrible person.

    There’s another side of the balance with Pablo Escobar, too – he built hospitals, was loved by many… he still was a drug lord, just like the Clinton Foundation is still a slush fund. Find out what Haitians have to say about all the Foundation did for Haiti, or how the Clintons got to rich on government salary… actually, better yet, research Hillary’s brother and how he’s so wealthy.

    On another note, you might want to find a better article defending the Foundation – that writer for Slate’s entire premise was “it does good, so it can’t be bad” while poorly defending only a single case of possible conflict of interest (M. Yunus). Coincidentally, the same guy wrote my current Slate favorite: “The Electoral College Is an Instrument of White Supremacy—and Sexism”, which has amused me more than most Onion pieces.

  115. @oneill “Smoke blowing out of ass. Clinton has *never* been in a position with the authority to even make those decisions.”

    You are fighting yesterday’s propaganda war.

    The Confederacy will not rise again. Clinton will not be president. She’s an old woman and will not run again. The public will not rise up and demand that the election be cancelled and Clinton instated.

    It’s now useless to make partisan arguments to persuade people who to vote for.

    It might be worthwhile to analyze how the propaganda efforts were done. What worked, what didn’t work. Why did one strategy succeed and another fail? How can we do it better next time?

    What does it mean that the national media have been exposed as fundamentally partisan, so that fewer people believe their news than ever before?

  116. J Thomas:I am curious in which way you perceive the national media as fundamentally partisan?
    I perceive a few different groupings. There are Fox, Breitbart & co who are right wing partisan.
    There are a large group of “mainstream” media New York Times, Washington Post, etc who many think are liberal and sometimes portray themselves that way, but seem to be more aligned with corporate interests.
    Then, there are a number of more left news sources such as Mother Jones, World Socialist Web Site, etc.

  117. I was noticing particularly the way the election went. It looked to me like the group you call right wing partisan were 100% for Trump.

    The group you call corporate-interest were 100% for Clinton.

    The parts of the group I noticed which you call left were 100% for Clinton also, taking the stand “Whatever you think about Clinton, still you have to vote for her regardless of any evidence because Trump is a million times worse.” They seemed to me to be an insignificant fraction of the whole, also. Mother Jones is a biweekly magazine with a total circulation around 200,000. I don’t have a strong sense of how much free Salon content people look at, but as a news business it has never amounted to anything.


  118. The corporate interest stated they were 100% Clinton, but merrily devoted large swaths of their content to articles against her.
    The right wing side stayed much more focused and were unconstrained with worries about facts or anything. As you note, they also seemed to get the most views.
    I forgot to mention one other source of articles. Groups, primarily in Macedonia, just made up stories for ad dollars. Right wing messages proved the most profitable.

  119. I noticed far more media articles claiming that the attacks were wrong, than actual reports about things that made Clinton look bad. That could be my confirmation bias.

    Is it possible that the groups you mention were primarily in Macedonia for the same reason that US corporations are primarily in Delaware?

  120. “Most of the posts on these sites are aggregated, or completely plagiarized, from fringe and right-wing sites in the US.”

    This is not particularly a source. This an amplifier of US sources. It takes a fine grasp of english to write good Trump copy, and also it takes time. Easier to join the chorus.

  121. I wonder if the Russians might have set those guys up and spread the idea for making a few dollars. It was quite a bit more sophisticated and large scale than I would expect from a few teenagers getting together over a beer.

  122. @David Hajicek

    But it makes a really good story this way. One that people will want to believe.

  123. skzb writes :The ability of Clinton supporters to deny her crimes is exceeded only by the ability of Trump supporters to deny his racism. I give up. Those will not see, will not see.”

    i.e., if you don’t agree with me you’re wrong. Impressive argument. For some reason I’m not swayed.

    You produce numbers that have zero basis in logic or reality and get annoyed when someone questions them. Sorry, that has nothing to do with being a Clinton supporter or a Trump supporter or supporter of any politician or ideology; it’s a sign of wanting to base decisions on facts – not hyperbole and rhetoric.

    Your magic 8-ball isn’t much to base a position on.

    I asked, “How exactly is this responsibility parsed out? Over 38 million military and civilian deaths are generally attributed to World War I. Does Gavrilo Princip get all those deaths marked on his ledger and only his?” I must have missed your explanatory response.

    You claim Trump hasn’t killed anyone. Yet we know he supported the Iraq War. He supported the invasion of Afghanistan. So Clinton bears responsibility for having “facillitated” these war,s but Trump bears no responsibility for supporting them? Some might consider this a rather hypocritical argument. Consider me to be part of that ‘some’.

    BTW, considering I have opposed virtually every military excursion the US has been involved in going back to Vietnam, I do not absolve Clinton or any US politicians from blame. That isn’t the argument. The argument is that Trump will be the same or worse.

  124. “i.e., if you don’t agree with me you’re wrong. Impressive argument. For some reason I’m not swayed.”

    He thinks you won’t be swayed regardless, and he has stopped arguing with you. At least with the intention of swaying you. This is only his opinion, he has not presented evidence to prove that you would not be swayed by whatever reasonable argument he might provide.

    When he says he gives up, that is not an attempt to win the argument.

    “You claim Trump hasn’t killed anyone. Yet we know he supported the Iraq War. He supported the invasion of Afghanistan. So Clinton bears responsibility for having “facillitated” these war,s but Trump bears no responsibility for supporting them? ”

    I would consider a politician who voted on it to have considerably more responsibility than a random voter who might have an opinion.

    Some politicians would be scared of their voters; some politicians who opposed those wars did not get re-elected (probably because of it). Clinton took office in 2001, her voters would have years to forget. She had the least excuse. As a senator she had some opportunity to find out what was going on. She could ask for briefings from the CIA, she could get opinions from experienced senators, she had some experience with White House shenanigans, etc.

    Maybe she was fooled despite all her advantages — then her judgement was faulty.

    Maybe she knew the score and went along anyway — then her ethics were faulty.

    For random voters it was all unclear. The media were reporting the truth and the lies both, and there was no obvious way to tell which were which except that there was no obvious reason for anonymous government sources to tell those particular lies. Clinton was in position to get a better handle on the truth. Either she failed to find out, or she chose the lies, or she didn’t care.

    “I do not absolve Clinton or any US politicians from blame. That isn’t the argument. The argument is that Trump will be the same or worse.”

    Ah! Steven’s argument was that claiming Hillary was “competent” was an inadequate reason to vote for her, that Clinton and Trump both looked too bad to vote for. (Apologies to skzb if I got that wrong.)

    Hillary claimed to be competent to continue our existing failing foreign policies, except that she has been extra aggressive about Russia and the middle east which does not fit our traditional stand.

    Your argument has basicly been that there is no evidence that Trump would be any better. And you appear to be supporting the claim that we should have voted for Clinton.

    I agree about that. There is no evidence what Trump would do except his own pronouncements, which I consider basicly worthless.

    He might likely be as bad as Clinton, and maybe worse.

    Do you want to continue to argue that we should have voted for Clinton?

    My own view is that with Clinton we have a little bit of track record, although of course as senator we have a voting record but we have no record of what she traded her votes for, so it could be much better than the dismal appearance.

    And as SoS she was not her own boss and had no authority, so that doesn’t tell us much about what she’d do. We have some evidence (mostly leaked by anonymous diplomats etc) about what she told Obama to do, but there’s no particular reason to think she’d herself do what she recommended to him.

    They’re both liars who will say whatever they think will get them votes.

    But then I haven’t noticed why I’m still arguing about them. It’s all water through the dam at this point.

  125. My grandfather voted for Woodrow Wilson. “He kept us out of war.”
    Later he voted for FDR. “you boys are not going to be sent into any foreign war.”

    My father voted for Johnson, he said he thought Goldwater would take us deeper into Vietnam.
    Then he voted for Nixon who had a plan to get us out of Vietnam.

    I voted for Kerry thinking he’d get us out of the wars, but he lost.
    Then Obama promised to get us out of one war and win the other one. I figured that was better than McCain. Obama got our soldiers out of Iraq when he couldn’t get the Iraqis to agree that they could stay and be immune from prosecution from any war crimes they might do, and pulled out the last troops the month before they would have been charged. Except for a few who stayed. There’s been talk about sending more in.

    People talk like Obama has started 6 new wars but I don’t think they’re really wars. It isn’t war when you bomb some other government’s civilians and that government doesn’t complain about it. If their own government would otherwise be bombing its own voters, of it wanted to but didn’t have the resources, then it isn’t war. More like we’re doing the other government a favor, really.

    Anyway, the point is my family has had essentially zero success voting for presidents we thought wouldn’t get us into wars. That has never worked for us so far.

    It probably wouldn’t have worked to vote for Clinton or Trump hoping they’d keep us out of a war either.

  126. His statements about climate change weren’t worthless; he has held those views for many years, and nobody has ever thought he would change his mind. The US knowingly put a climate change denier into the White House.

    It is a measure of just how far the US has retreated from science that only a handful of people writing in the media have even commented on this, much less managed to put together any sort of plan to make people face up to the fact that you cannot negotiate with physics.

    I think Chomsky is probably right that this is the irrevocable onset of the end of civilisation: we only had one planet suitable for human habitation, and the greatest economic and military power on that planet has now deliberately decided to trash it.

    Meanwhile, I console myself that my daughter has useful skills in a post-Apocalyptic world; she is a physician.

  127. Could we wait for the wailing and gnashing of teeth until after the orange horseman breaks a sea- I mean sets policy?


    I remember when suggesting nuclear power was a death sentence for politicians. On one side were the nasty stupid fossil fuel industry shills, the other the good smart environmental reactionaries, and both treated it like leprosy. A feasible solution to carbon neutral energy without large-scale infrastructure overhaul went by the wayside for decades due to public sentiment. Now, both fission and fusion research is decades behind where it should be… and it’s hard for me to blame it all on the bad guys.

  128. The arguments about Clinton and Trump are on the assumption that they were masters of their own fate rather than sock-puppets of a shadow government. To be sure, Clinton is happy with that arrangement. I don’t know if Trump has been informed yet that he has no choice on some matters as seems to have happened to Bush W and Obama.

    Yeah, sounds like conspiracy BS. But somebody is pulling the strings to make the USA do things that are not to the benefit of the USA or it’s citizens.

    I say that because we have people like Kissinger and Cheney still determining government policy and that our actions in the Mideast are following a plan put out in the ’70s for taking control of these countries.

    What confuses me the most, is why this shadow government wants to do things that seem to me to be to the detriment of the country. Is it a game? Is it something they set out to do decades ago (when they thought these minor wars would be easy and the oil was needed) and haven’t bothered to reevaluate their position? Is funneling money to the super wealthy short term that good a goal?

  129. The Forbes article you cite was written before Trump appointed Myron Ebell, whose contributions to climate change denial speak for themselves.

  130. “The US knowingly put a climate change denier into the White House.”

    Yes, I hate that.

    I hate even worse that it looks like he’s only marginally worse than the other likely alternative, who paid lip service to climate change but who planned to do essentially nothing about it except a whole lot more fracking and a whole lot more pipelines.

    I figure China will cut back on fossil fuels some because they’re facing a giant pollution issue and health problem. And they will build a lot of renewable energy stuff because it makes so much sense to do that.

    Various other nations will hang back because the USA does. It might be too late. But then, it might have been too late last year. All I can see to do is the best I can and hope it does some good.

  131. “Now, both fission and fusion research is decades behind where it should be… and it’s hard for me to blame it all on the bad guys.”

    I blame part of the fusion research problem on the military. They have been so paranoid about revealing anything that might help other nations build bombs, that they have kept a whole lot of secrets that could help fusion reactor research. I believe if a lot of that got declassified we’d be a whole lot farther along. I can’t be sure of that, lacking both the security clearances, the need-to-know, and also the technical knowledge to put it all together and see what’s actually important. But people I trust told me that a lot is classified, and they tend to err on the side of caution.

  132. I haven’t seen anything published that appeared to be on the path toward useful fusion energy. The big imploders appear to be research more into weapons grade lasers rather than fusion. When people question this approach, they add a little Tritium into the capsule and go, “prang, we have fusion”. You can get D-T fusion in a hand-held device. So smoke and mirrors.

    I read something (but can’t remember the details) about the military trying to develop very small nuclear weapons. Maybe with alternative materials with less long term radioactivity.

  133. Well, you are certainly entitled to your opinions. On the other hand, none of the scientists involved in climate change research agree with your claim that Trump is only marginally worse than Clinton on it.

    Which brings us back to the whole US problem with science…

  134. “none of the scientists involved in climate change research agree with your claim that Trump is only marginally worse than Clinton on it.”

    She at least gives them lip service. That’s considerably better than outright denial, if you hope to get results starting in 4 years.

    They have to maintain an attitude of extremely low expectations, because giving way to utter despair gives them no chance at results.

    But if you look at what she said she would actually do, it amounts to pretty much zilch. Trump will probably be marginally worse.

  135. The problem with your response is that you have yet to adduce any evidence to support your claim that Hillary Clinton would have been almost as bad as Trump on climate change.

    I do not think that any rational person would conclude, on the evidence, that Hillary Clinton would have walked away from Obama’s Clean Air Act. I do not think that any rational person would conclude, on the evidence, that Hillary Clinton would have appointed an Administrator of the EPA prepared to walk away from implementing Obama’s Clean Air Act via the Clean Power Plan.

    Trump made it very clear during his campaign that he would do both; nobody can convincingly say that they weren’t warned, because they were.

  136. “The problem with your response is that you have yet to adduce any evidence to support your claim”

    Barring a cross-time-travel device that lets us observe alternate universes, there will be no evidence.

    We are arguing about who can beat a dead horse harder.

    If Clinton had won the election, we could never find out what Trump would really have done. We might have discovered plans, but he was a known liar and he might easily have been lying to the people he made plans with.

    But Clinton lost, and we will never find out what she would have done. She is also a known liar. There is some reason to think she would have tended to stay with the status quo, which is utterly inadequate to deal with climate change. Her plan called for vastly increased fracking and thousands of miles of new pipelines. She was ready to assume that solar panel installation would increase at the same exponential rate it has been increasing, in competition with cheap subsidized fracking, but her plan to make that happen consisted of — I forget how much, $25 billion, or $30, $50, or $60 billion shared with states to encourage states to encourage renewable energy.

    Her response to complaints about fracking pollution, earthquakes etc was that we will get cheap clean safe fracking.

    If you want to, you can argue that Clinton would have been somehow adequate. I don’t see any evidence for that from her own claims. But it’s all ashes now.

  137. According to fact checkers, only a couple of politicians lied less than Clinton. Her corruption was of a different type. Modern technology has enabled the Goebbels in the attacks against her to be stronger. (I know of someone who told her children to vote against her because she assassinated a bunch of whistle blowers). That doesn’t mean she would be an acceptable president. She has been bought and paid for by Big Money and Big War and was, IMHO, very predictable.

  138. “Here is some info on small fusion weapons.”

    Thank you! That’s a lot of progress since the last time I looked at it.

    Increasingly, we survive on each other’s good will.

  139. I have always thought that flogging a dead horse is preferable to flogging a live one, but I concur that we will never know what would have happened had the electoral college matched the personal vote.

    It will be interesting (in the Terry Pratchett use of the word) to see what happens when the US starts hitting carbon tax tariffs on its exports; I am glad that I will be viewing it from this side of the pond.

  140. “According to fact checkers, only a couple of politicians lied less than Clinton.”

    You have to check how much your fact checkers are lying.

    “I know of someone who told her children to vote against her because she assassinated a bunch of whistle blowers”

    There is no solid evidence of that. It’s mostly coincidences. People who are supposedly inconvenient for Clinton dying. They make a big point of talking about that around Clinton, but I’ve seen no evidence that it happens more around the Clintons than around other important politicians. My old uncle used to tell me that it wasn’t safe to work around important politicians because you could get killed — they played for keeps. He didn’t tell me how he knew and I tended to believe him. I haven’t seen any real evidence that the Clintons are worse than others.

    “She has been bought and paid for by Big Money and Big War and was, IMHO, very predictable.”

    I figure that Big Money and Big War both have multiple factions, and it isn’t obvious which factions have bought her or how much she’d stay bought. It was predictable that she wouldn’t do things in *my* interest, but that didn’t make her predictable about specifics.

  141. Unfortunately for the US, Trump has pledged to abolish the Dodd-Frank Act as one of his first acts as President.

    The Act was established to try and protect people from the crazy activities of the Banks which resulted in almost bringing down the global financial markets in 2007/2008. Under its provisions bankers are required to do crazy socialist things like checking whether the people they are lending to have the ability to service that debt.

    Destroying Dodd-Frank will certainly assist Donald Trump, who will be able to borrow money in the US again once the act is gone, but, for those who lack Trump’s money, and skills in well timed bankruptcy, it will be a disaster area.

    I should declare an interest; I have lived in the City of London for over 30 years, and the Square Mile takes money seriously. I am now retired, but my last specialist skills were the taxation of Financial Instutions, together with the taxation of complex financial instruments.

    In order to do either of those you have to understand the underlying banking and other financial concerns, and the underlying nature of the complex financial instruments. You also need a moral compass, because I was being offered jobs a greatly higher salary to take my competencies to accounting and legal firms.

    I turned them down.

    This is why I try, at least briefly, to point out to people that it would be a good idea if they acquired some knowledge before they leap into the fray…

  142. If the Democratic party were rational, it would stop supporting Clinton and her cronies. They have been demonstrated by voters to be defective products. Trouble is that the Democratic neo-liberals will not give up easily. This cynical election where Clinton thought she didn’t have to give anything to the voter to win is proof of that thinking.

    I’m sure Clinton is hoping Trump falls flat on his face and then she can run again for president. Please spare us from another Clinton run. There are some good candidates out there.

  143. A party can’t think. And individuals usually put their own self-interests over their party’s self interest. Unfortunately they often put them ahead of their country’s, humanity’s and the planet’s self interest. They have been corrupted by a system that gave them power directed towards the interests of those with money. They believe in neo-liberalism.

  144. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.

    Ok, so you are worried because you think Hillary has been bought by Wall St. I disagree, and I know a great deal more about the global financial markets than you do, but let’s pretend.

    Does the fact that Trump has been bought by Putin not worry you? It sure as well worries me, because Trump is prepared to do anything to get what he wants. He has no interest in anything other than his own desires, as is becoming obvious…

  145. Most everything about Trump worries me. Trump only cares about one thing, has not shown himself to be competent at anything except self promotion, and appears to be easily manipulated. But this discussion is about the failures of Clinton and the neo-liberal Democratic Party. Short of revolutionary change, it is possible for the Democratic party to be re-made as one that serves workers and the people again. But it needs to understand its failure and be willing to re-make itself.

  146. I take your point, and I would certainly like to see the end of Neo-liberalism. What worries me is that under Trump the US will become a failed state, albeit a hugely dangerous one, which doesn’t leave much scope for any political party to serve workers and the people…

  147. And I don’t see how electing a President far to the right of many Republicans is going to assist the change you hope for.

    If you look at Angela Merkel’s very carefully phrased response to Trump’s election you will see a list of those things threatened by his election. She grew up in a totalitarian state; she understands what is at stake. She’s also a former postdoctoral science researcher who recognises just how dangerous the anti-science movement in general, and climate change denial in particular, is.

    Of course, Britain is taking a slightly different tack; the Queen has invited Donald Trump to stay at Windsor Castle, whilst Buckingham Palace undergoes a £370,000,000 refurbishment at the Queen’s expense. I am hoping that the vast amount of bling on display will fire him with renewed zeal to get really rich, thus distracting him from building internment camps…

  148. “In order to do either of those you have to understand the underlying banking and other financial concerns, and the underlying nature of the complex financial instruments.”

    Perhaps you could explain a little about all that, or point to sources that might explain to laymen?

    What does it mean that the USA for a long time has had an average trade deficit of around half a trillion dollars? Does the USA have about $8 trillion in foreign debt? What are the implications of this stuff?

    If the USA is in some sort of trouble about international finance, how can we get out of trouble? Or is everything OK?

    Some other nations have gotten into serious trouble from things that were superficially similar. Mexico, Argentina, Greece, etc. I remember a time when the value of the Mexican peso had fallen so low that the USA basicly bought their entire strawberry crop at about 10% what it would normally cost. People mostly couldn’t buy strawberries in Mexico. You couldn’t make a living growing strawberries in the USA that year because your crop wasn’t worth nearly what it cost to grow it.

    But they say it’s different for the USA, because US debts are denominated in dollars.

    Here’s a simplistic view of that: Imagine that you as an individual end the year owing $50,000. That’s bad, but maybe lenders are willing to extend you the money. And then for 16 years your debt goes up by $50,000 each year, so now you owe $800,000. That looks real bad. But — maybe people have bought stock in a series of corporations you created, and the value of the stock you didn’t sell is very high so long as they keep buying more to keep the price up. Your paper profits could cancel out the debt. But any time they might decide that your unprofitable companies are not worth so much…. Any time they could demand payment, and they could decide you have to sell everything to them at fire-sale prices. Like we did to Argentina.

    BUT say that instead of your debt being in dollars, it’s instead in IOUs. Each year you don’t owe another $50,000 dollars. You owe another 50,000 favors. And how much is a favor worth? That’s to be negotiated between you and whoever you owe it to. Maybe you can pay off 800,000 favors with a summer mowing grass and an autumn raking leaves. Your favors are worth what you say they’re worth, and you can make as many IOU favors as you want to. So you can never really get in trouble that way. Because your debt is denominated in your own currency.

    Somehow I don’t find this argument completely reassuring. I think I could get in trouble that way too, if it was me making favor IOUs. But maybe my metaphor is too misleading. Maybe the USA can never get in trouble from owing increasing debts to foreigners….

  149. “And I don’t see how electing a President far to the right of many Republicans is going to assist the change you hope for.”

    I agree. I didn’t see much hope with either of them. To me they both looked too bad to vote for.

    Scylla and Charybdis.

  150. I find it interesting to note that Apple borrows lots and lots of money, even when it sits on the largest pile of cash ever. That would indicate that the advantages and disadvantages of debt are more complicated than politicians make them out to be.

  151. But Odysseus solved the challenge posed by Scylla and Charybdis; he analysed the dangers, and he reached a rational decision. He sailed closer to Scylla because it posed less risks; Homer is absolutely clear on this.

    Yes, he lost some people but he preserved the many, and that was his duty. I doubt that either Homer, or Odysseus, would feel complemented by a mind set based on the failure to actually read the Odyssey in the first place…

  152. I’m sorry; it’s very late here, and I have a busy day, so I will try to put something substantive late tomorrow.

    I will point out now that there’s no ‘Banking for Dummies’. It’s a bit like assuming that anyone can fly a plane if they’ve read the manual, or that anyone’s opinion on medical matters, gleaned from the Internet, is much better than my daughter’s, who has spent 12 years so far training in her dual specialities,

    But I must get some sleep..

  153. “He sailed closer to Scylla because it posed less risks”

    He did not, however, have his crew vote which of them to sail directly toward.

  154. “I will point out now that there’s no ‘Banking for Dummies’. It’s a bit like assuming that anyone can fly a plane if they’ve read the manual”

    If course there is no obligation for you to explain, and the details are way too complicated.

    But surely there are some beginning ideas that voters ought to understand.

    Many voters have the idea that government finance ought to be just like that of their own households. When the government collects more money than it spends, that means it has a cushion of money it can spend for emergencies etc later. When the government spends more than it earns, it is headed toward financial ruin….

    I used an example like that myself just above, comparing a national economy to a man who borrows from his friends.

    They don’t understand that money is — and ought to be — created out of nothing when the economy needs more of it, and surplus money should be destroyed when the economy needs less.

    And then there’s the next step. I know a Green who ran for congress as a write-in, who believes that the government can and should create enough money to finance universal health care and abolish student debt, because the economy needs more money and will flourish when that money is created out of nothing. Seeing that money can be created out of nothing, she assumes that the right amount to create happens to be the amount she wants to create….

    There are at least some beginning ideas that voters ought to understand.

    They can’t expect to know as much about the heart as a cardiologist, but they should at least get the basics — the heart is a pump, and the blood is pumped down one leg and up the other. (This is a joke that a statistician told to a meeting of the university cardiologists who hired him. Nobody laughed. They hired him because the chairman of the department had taken his experimental data to a statistician in the university biostatistics department, and was told that his results were not significant. He went to get a second opinion, and a third, and a fourth, until he had used up everybody in the department. So he hired his own statistician.)

  155. J Thomas: A trade deficit does not equal a debt. A trade deficit simply means that a country imported more than it exported.
    For an extremely simplified example, say I start with $1000 in the bank, I buy $300 worth of gum balls from you and sell you $100 worth of socks. I have a trade deficit of $200 with you. My immediate bank balance may have gone down by $200-no need for any financing.
    At the same time, the value of my own assets may have increased by $500 and at the end of the day my total worth has increased.
    So, in this simple example, you can see that trade balance are not necessarily directly linked to either debt or total worth.

  156. If we buy more than we sell, there is a net difference in the dollars we gave them to get that stuff. So now the foreign country (China?) is sitting on a pile of dollars. That becomes a problem if they want to convert the dollars into hard currency (gold, silver), in which case, we don’t have enough precious metals to cover our debt.

    Of course, we could always refuse to sell them gold or silver, in which case the value of the dollar is in question. Or we could decrease the value of the dollar (vs gold, etc.) and cause inflation.

    Messy situation.

  157. David Hajicek:US currency is not connected to any sort of base metal and does not imply a debt. If China wants to get rid of dollars they would have to either buy things from someone with those dollars or sell them on a currency
    The value of the dollar in relationship to other currencies will go up or down based upon how those currencies are being exchanged between each other and other goods.
    If the value of the dollar is high vs other currencies it becomes easier to purchase goods from other countries. This leads to the other country getting a surplus of dollars at end then the dollar would tend to fall. All the relationships and consequences of these actions are much more complicated than this simple description.

  158. “So, in this simple example, you can see that trade balance are not necessarily directly linked to either debt or total worth.”

    It’s all complicated. But for this simple discussion, think of a US dollar as an IOU.

    If a foreigner has a dollar, they can buy stuff from the USA with that dollar whenever they want to. We owe them stuff, and the dollar is a marker for what we owe them.

    If at the end of a year, a foreigner has twice as many dollars as he does now, we will owe him twice as many dollars-worth of stuff. This is a debt we owe him, and he decides when we pay it off by deciding when to buy something with the dollars he owns.

    If a foreigner has dollars it doesn’t mean that anybody in the USA is “in debt”. Any more than it means you are in debt if you don’t pay your power bill one month and then pay it with a penalty the next month. You owe the power bill money. You owe the foreigners the right to have some US exports. Either way it’s a debt that can be paid.

    Our debt has built up pretty high. If some foreign nation that has a lot of dollars decides t spend them quick, then it will get more expensive for us to import stuff, and cheaper for foreigners to import stuff from us. Done on a large enough scale it would disrupt trade. We would eventually have more jobs and less stuff to buy with the pay. imports would be expensive, but foreigners could buy our strawberries cheap. Everything we can export would get more expensive for us. Or maybe it would turn into a giant crisis like 2008 where the economy starts to shut down because people don’t know what they can afford to buy.

    Or something else. This stuff is complicated. If it would cause a big disruption, then anybody who has enough dollars could attack us that way. But who else would be hurt? And anybody who could afford to sell a lot of stuff in exchange for those dollars, could rescue us. But then they in turn would have a lot of dollars they could attack us with if they wanted to.

    I’d welcome an explanation by somebody who has a deep understanding about how it all fits together.

  159. Very briefly, because I’m up to my eyeballs: the 2008 crisis had nothing to do with people not knowing what they could afford to buy. It was the result of financial institutions creating financial instruments predicated on the assumption that property prices would always rise. The people who created those instruments were incredibly good at maths and incredibly lousy at thinking, hence the Dodd-Franks legislation which, unfortunately, Trump will repeal.

  160. The subtle details of 2008 probably don’t matter when the important task is to find things that laymen can understand which are important for them to understand as citizens.

    I still want to look at some subtle interpretations that sound different from yours, not to contradict you but to see if they might be appropriate — maybe sometime when you have time. Or not, no problem.

    I had the impression that the mathematical algorithms that were used to value real estate tranches were designed to tell which of them were better deals and which worse. And not designed to predict when the market would destabilize.

    The media reported that part of the acute 2008 crisis came because toxic risks had been circulated as if they were risk-free collateral, so that for awhile various banks did not know how much of them they had. They were afraid to extend loans because they didn’t know how much of their own resources were sound and how much were toxic waste. Once they got that sorted out there was still the problem of dealing with the consequences, but at least it was kind of clear who owned those consequences.

    In a currency crunch we could have a short-term crisis where people don’t know what is going on and don’t know their risk, and so hesitate to do anything that looks potentially risky while it’s unclear. And just the fact that there is so much hesitation could be disruptive in itself.

    But I got that from the media, which tries much harder to tell a story people are satisfied to hear, than to get things right….

  161. J Thomas- (re: your 9:24 post) You are combining two completely different things in your example, National Debt and Balance of Trade. National Debt is the money we have actually, formally borrowed in the form of Treasury Bills and other securities. That debt could be cashed in, but not for goods or metals, just for currency.

    The negative Balance of Trade means that much of our circulating currency is in foreign hands, but that doesn’t create any kind of debt. That currency can be exchanged for goods or services with anyone who thinks it is valuable, not just with US businesses. It can also be hoarded, and if you look into it, you’ll find between corporations hiding assets from the IRS and ordinary citizens stuffing their mattresses, something like 50% of all US currency is held abroad. And, yes, if all of that currency were to go back into circulation at once, e.g. if it were spent instead of saved for a rainy day, that would effect the value of the dollar, but that is by no means the same as creating a debt.

    Steve Halter, please feel free to correct my layman’s understanding.

  162. Sadly, you are wrong. I’d love you to be right; that way I’d be a lot more optimistic about the future, but the people creating the financial instruments genuinely believed that property prices would inevitably rise, for ever.

    It wasn’t just the very young, and very brilliant, people who created the financial instruments who believed this. For example, there’s a concept in international taxation called ‘thin capitalisation’; a CEO came over on the red eye to discuss with me the fact that one of the subsidiaries was grossly undercapitalised. His extremely expensive lawyers had created a contract which resulted in unlimited downside risk for the company; if property prices fell the company bore all of the loss.

    He hadn’t realised this; the lawyers had punted it down to the juniors who had never experienced a fall in property prices, and nobody had thought to read the draft of the contract. Even after I pointed this out he still thought that there was no way in which property prices would fall; it was an article of faith at that time.

    So, as I say, I’d love to be able to agree with you. On the evidence, I can’t.

  163. howardbrazee

    Apologies: the comment at 1.27 is a response to yours of 10.09 am; I keep thinking that if I click the button which says reply to you it will show that I’m replying to you but it doesn’t seem to work.

  164. larswyrdson “You are combining two completely different things in your example, National Debt and Balance of Trade.”

    No, I’m not talking about national debt at all. That has nothing to do with what I’m talking about.

    Try an example. I want to buy refined copper from somebody in Bulgaria. I happen to have a lot of crude oil, which I think they want. So I ship them the oil and sell it. They give me a couple hundred thousand leva and a few stotinki. I am an american and leva do not look like money to me. They do not feel like money. They do not smell like money. Probably if I tasted them they would not taste like money. I did not trade my oil for leva. I want copper, not pieces of paper with weird foreign pictures on them. They serve as an IOU. The Bulgarian economy owes me copper in return for the oil I have given them, and these pieces of paper are a marker for that debt.

    I can go to someone who sells copper, and they will trade me copper for my pieces of paper. Then the debt is paid.

    If I keep my IOUs intending to exchange them later? Then it’s a debt that will be paid when I want to cash in. I can buy my copper when I want to.

    International barter is, well, barter. You trade what you have for what you want.

    International trade where they give you stuff and you give them pieces of paper they can use to collect stuff later, is debt. You have not carried out your side of the trade, yet. You have only promised to do it.

  165. To be sure, today’s dollar is not backed by precious metals or anything else. It is just a marker. Still, a country like China may want to reduce risk in the dollar by converting their dollar holdings to something more tangible.

    A number of people in foreign countries are buying up property and stocks in US companies. The latter is not a problem, but the former is causing inflation in the prices of real estate.

  166. The real estate crisis was caused by wide spread fraud. They bundled subpar loans and sold them as AAA class securities. Unfortunately, once somebody actually looked at the loans, it was obvious this was deliberate fraud. But the system had no way to sort out the good from the bad at that point. Now they want to do it again, since it worked out so well for them the first time.

  167. “The real estate crisis was caused by wide spread fraud. They bundled subpar loans and sold them as AAA class securities.”

    Here is a conspiracy theory.

    Clinton had the dot-com bubble to help out his economic statistics. Then that bubble burst, and things didn’t look so good for GWB.

    My conspiracy theory says that Bush asked around for some way to give the economy a buzz, like a good shot of amphetamines, and somebody found a way.

    Here’s part of what this theory says was the problem: Foreign exchange. If the US government was running an autarky, it would have a whole lot of influence on the US economy. It could control the inflation rate, the level of loans to private businesses, tax rates, and a whole lot more. But the US government has much less influence over foreign economies and foreign governments. If the Chinese government decides to peg the renminbi to the dollar at a rate the US government doesn’t want, we can try to change that rate, and then we buy or sell a lot of money at the wrong price before we lose. It’s a mug’s game. We *could* set up tariffs on Chinese products but there are ideological reasons we don’t. Chinese get to make a lot of their own choices and we can’t stop them. And they have chosen that we get low-priced imports and high unemployment while they have high-priced imports and low unemployment. They get a lot of new factories etc built in their country with the latest technology. They get a lot of air and water pollution while making cheap products. Lots of things we don’t have much influence over. And so for example if the US government gives money to poor people expecting it will stimulate the US economy, maybe they spend it on imports from China, and then China doesn’t buy US products with their dollars. So it doesn’t stimulate the US economy much at all. The rules of the game have changed.

    The USA keeps sending dollars out of the country to pay for imports, and we need schemes to bring the dollars back. We tried getting foreigners to invest in the US stock market. They invested a whole lot, and then there was a stock market crash and a lot of their money vanished. They didn’t want to do that again.

    But dot-com gave us a good story. New technology, new dreams. Invest in the future. Foreigners invested in dot-com stocks and then there was a crash and a lot of their money was gone. They weren’t going to do that again for awhile. But the USA desperately needed something for foreigners to put their surplus dollars into.

    Then somebody invented a method for foreigners to safely invest in US real estate. It depended on a complicated statistical argument. If you invest in one house it might turn bad, but if you invest in hundreds or thousands they will average out. There were further statistical solutions to other problems.

    Americans also invested in real estate derivatives, but the important thing was to sell them to foreigners. And it worked. Better still, American homeowners figured out that when their homes increased in value, the equity provided the down payment on a more expensive home, which in turn increased in value to provide the down payment on one that was more expensive still. The market for derivatives kept expanding — as it had to, to provide sufficient sales to foreigners to balance the balance-of-payments deficit.

    Many Americans kept upgrading their homes until it was questionable whether their income was enough to handle the payments. But demand for derivatives was still high, it was supply that was faltering. The conspirators started lending to Americans who were obviously unqualified, to meet their quotas. What makes this a conspiracy theory is that I say the US government had encouraged this in the first place to get foreign dollars, and they kept right on encouraging it. They didn’t have a backup plan, so they had to keep following this one.

    The plan would have worked OK if the timing had worked out better. If it had lasted another year, maybe even another 6 months, Bush would be out of office and when the whole thing collapsed he could blame it on the new president. “The public just did not have confidence in Obama.”

  168. I would recommend watching “The Big Short” or if you haven’t the time, South Park’s “Margaritaville.” I am not joking, South Park manages to explain the crisis, the reaction and the probable “solution” in 22 minutes. If you want gory details, the ratings agencies failed to do their job because they were afraid to lose other lines of business with the companies asking for ratings. Deregulation causes all kinds of moral hazards where one part of a business/agency is in conflict with another part. And the part that wants to do the unwise thing is surprise, the one that is more likely to create short term gain and this year’s bonuses. Government regulators were on the lookout for their next private sector job when they “retired” or their party was out of office.

  169. You can also create a situation where everyone only sees one part of the elephant. Most of your staff and your third party consultants can honestly say that the part they saw was fine. If someone has a hypothetical concern about what might happen, they can receive the reassurance that it will all be fixed in post, to use a cinematic analogy.

    The big question is how many people actually saw the full elephant and did they deliberately create the elephant? If they did not intentionally create an ecosystem where elephants would thrive, were they to blame for thinking they really needed their own elephant to compete in this jungle? Obviously there are millions of way to dissipate responsibility in this complex an environment to the point where no one is blamed and no one (allegedly) could have put a halt to the process, until the elephants ate themselves out of existence. At which point, they asked for outside resources (i.e. you and me) to rehabilitate the forest, with the promise that they will never, ever try to keep elephants there again. Seven years down the road, Acme’s Land Bohemoths LLC shows up and asks for a land use permit…

  170. Privateiron

    8.30 am

    ‘The Big Short’ started out as a book; I’d recommend reading it as well as ‘Liar’s Poker’, also written by Michael Lewis, as well. He was working for Saloman Brothers in London in the 80s; a time when the Big Swinging Dicks ruled the world, or at least as much of the world that they could get their hands on.

    Very few people realise that the Savings and Thrifts debacle of the 1980s was almost as catastrophic as the 2008 crisis for exactly the same reasons, although as far as I know the world record for a loss on one single trade set in the 80s still stands: $250,000,000.

    A third of all the savings and loans associations in the USA went down, at vast cost to the taxpayers, and people promptly forgot all about it and did it all over again.

  171. Huffington Post headline: “NEW WAR FRONT: TRUMP BOMBS SYRIA” with the follow-up article titled: “U.S. Conducts First Direct Military Strike Against Assad Regime In Syria”

  172. Yeah, it took the neocons until April 6th to bully Trump into joining Israel’s proxy war against its regional rival Syria. HRC would likely have pulled the trigger on “Day One.”

    P.S. This could be the big one. If so, it’s been nice knowing everybody.

  173. oneillsinwisconsin

    Yep! Blindingly obvious to anyone who bothered to actually look for evidence and consider it.


    I hope not; there are a lot of things I’d like to do, and a lot of places I’d like to see, but electing Trump was always going to be an existential threat to the planet, however much people tried to sugar coat it.

    Steve Halter

    As yet the Chinese don’t have nukes; they do have strong territorial ambitions in the South China Sea, up to and including building their own islands, and launching missiles from warships in the Mediterranean, almost 1,000 miles from the Syrian airfield, is an unsubtle reminder that the U.S. Navy rules the waves.

    Putin is said to have dispatched another ship to the Med, but Russia’s navy is insignificant by comparison; what he does have is lots and lots of nukes. So does Trump, who, in addition to being a roaring egomaniac who wants everyone to grovel to him, really doesn’t like the fact that Putin appears to have swung the Presidency for him, and may well regard nuking Russia as an excellent way of demonstrating his independence.

    All in all, entirely predictable; I find it difficult to understand how any rational person would have voted to give Trump the power to destroy the world. Of course, the whole ‘she provoked me’ meme works incredibly well with common or garden hardcore misogynists who wish us to believe that naturally women are provocative, and it’s alway their fault, whether they’ve been brutally assaulted, brutally raped or brutally murdered, so obviously women in general, and Hillary Clinton in particular, provoke war.

    Given that the Russian Parliament has recently legalised wife-beating, it’s fairly obvious that they share those misogynists views; beating the shit out of women has a long and sordid history, but no doubt people will find some way of convincing themselves that it’s a cultural issue, and therefore it’s just fine for the Russian Parliament to do that.

  174. Since taking office 11 weeks ago, Trump has ramped up military involvement in Yemen, Iraq and Syria.

    The usual suspects were wrong (as usual) and of course cannot admit it.

  175. Wrong about HRC making bellicose noises about Syria? CNN carried a quote from her about her position just before the Thursday Missile strike: HRC believes the U.S. should destroy Syria’s air power completely, similarly to how she engineered the destruction of Libya in 2011, that once peaceful, modern, secular nation. Never mind that would necessitate a direct confrontation with Russia, and thus WWIII. Just to break it down for you, Trump has just okayed a cruise missile attack without any evidence of wrongdoing, no international support, and no congressional authorization, against a close ally of nuclear-armed Russia. And yet HRC is on record saying he should have gone MUCH MUCH further.


    China has nukes. So pretty much everything you wrote after that, I kinda tuned out.

  176. O’Neill- are you still looking for Trump supporters here? I am fairly certain that not one person you are talking to voted for the Cheeto.

    Stevie- The Chinese have had nukes since 1964.

  177. It is morbidly amusing that the first thing the MSM has widely supported in regards to Trump involved him launching Tomahawks. The guy basically broke a campaign promise (“America First” doesn’t mean attacking a country which did nothing to us) and they’re acting like baby just took his first steps.

    Oneill –
    In case you’re referring to me in ‘the usual suspects’, I thought I made it clear back in October that out of the two people who actually had a shot of winning I voted for the one I considered less likely to kill people. I’m not going to say I support what Trump did, in fact I despise it, but I don’t think I was wrong in that assessment.

    Stevie –
    “… [Trump] really doesn’t like the fact that Putin appears to have swung the Presidency for him, and may well regard nuking Russia as an excellent way of demonstrating his independence.”

    First I’ve heard of this, and on the surface seems extremely unlikely – Trump may want to nuke Putin because Putin helped him? Where did you hear this?

    I can’t believe Clinton is still even germane here, but the claim that being a woman hurt more than helped her in the election I strenuously disagree with – NYU staged an interesting event genderswapping the two candidates: https://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2017/march/trump-clinton-debates-gender-reversal.html . Money quote: “People got upset. There was a guy two rows in front of me who was literally holding his head in his hands, and the person with him was rubbing his back.” The video is eye-opening.

    Thinking Clinton was or is any less bloodthirsty than any neocon is wishful thinking at best – I actually consider the blind spot so many have regarding her and her cavalier attitude towards violence extremely sexist. Hillary Clinton doesn’t provoke violence, she revels in it… and comparing criticizing her to criticizing a woman who got a black eye because she got mouthy cheapens your argument considerably.

    Also, yeah, the Chinese have nukes.

    Lars –
    If you all want a cheeto-voting punching bag, I volunteer for tonight at least. I’ve got enough whisky for a good bit.

  178. Clinton recently announced she will not be running for any public office in the future. She said this loss was very painful. So, unless she changes her mind, the democrats are now free to find some better candidates.

  179. My thanks: Nathan N, Larswysdon, Kragar: China, nukes; I really must stop commenting at 3.30 am.

    On the other hand, a confrontation of Trump with a China + nukes is even more dangerous; I really can’t see any rational argument for claiming he’s safer than Clinton. The fact that the Chinese head of state was present when Trump decided to launch is not exactly conducive to a good relationship with China; he would, very probably see it as a threat. That’s because it is a threat..


    Well obviously they are not going to admit it; that would require them to grapple with the possibility that they were wrong, and the usual suspects are never wrong. I’m sure they’ll find it very comforting as the mushroom clouds go up…

  180. Nathan S

    You appear to be labouring under the delusion that Trump accepts that Putin swung the election for him; he doesn’t. As far as Trump is concerned he won the election fair and square; his monumental ego doesn’t allow any such possibility into play. He has become more and more frustrated that people won’t let the story die; he has a very thin skin, and he’s always looking for reasons why he’s right and everyone’s wrong.

    As for where did I hear this: New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, as well as sundry other less well known journals, none of whom think Hillary Clinton lacks the mettle for a fight. They do think she’s a lot more intelligent than Trump, though I will concede that’s a low bar…

  181. David Hajicek–

    Where did you see HRC’s announcement that she will not run for public office in the future? I would be very surprised to learn that she has said that. All the evidence of my eyes tells me HRC is trying desperately to stay in the headlines, to keep relevant, for around two more years. That is when the run-up to the 2020 election will begin. Naturally, she will have locked up virtually all the big donors and super delegates ahead of time, as she did for the 2008 election cycle and again for the 2016 cycle.

  182. David Hajicek:

    “Clinton recently announced she will not be running for any public office in the future. She said this loss was very painful. So, unless she changes her mind….”

    Clinton says things for their short-term political impact.

    There is no particular reason to think she thinks now she will run for president etc in the future. You can’t tell anything about what she thinks from what she says.

    And as you point out, if she does think now that she won’t run later, she can change her mind at any time.

    I will be sure Clinton won’t run for president again when she is buried under a crossroads with a stake through her heart.

  183. Stevie –
    I’m of the opinion that Trump is as far from using nukes for something as abstract as establishing independence from Putin as he is from shaving his head. If that makes me the one laboring under delusion… well.

    jethomas –
    Yep, it’s the horror movie villain cliché, I have a sinking feeling there’s one more jumpscare in her… and there’s the sequel possibility in Chelsea too.

  184. David Hajicek–

    Thanks for posting that link. Since the quotes from HRC found within contain ambiguities, my opinion remains that she will try again in 2020. “Only if my legions of adoring supporters insist that I run, will I reluctantly do so…”

  185. O’Neill- my apologies. Nathan… well, I’m not going to take shots at you. If you voted for Trump thinking he was the lesser of two evils, I hope you don’t need me to point out that you may have miscalculated.

  186. It’s possible. Obviously it’s unknowable what death toll Clinton would have up to now were she president, but considering what she’s said regarding going further than Trump has (and the reasons why she meddled in the region in the first place) I think I was correct – at least as far as direct body count. Arguments can be made in other areas that I’ll almost certainly accept.

    I also have to mention that I consider the powers that establishment politicians have given to the presidency over the last sixteen years a threat. Better Trump and a reduction of (or at least a more public backlash regarding) them than an almost silent expansion under Clinton. Trump can’t wipe his backside without someone from the press inspecting the paper, which is as it should be.

  187. I can picture a scenario where the much worse of the two options might still be better in the long run. While I personally wouldn’t go that way, I can see a revolutionary kind of logic saying that voting for the better option could leave us with more of the same, and it may be necessary to risk (and suffer) worse in order to get rid of the establishment that works for Big Money.

  188. skzb has been known to make such a suggestion. I keep hoping that Trump will cause a backlash that will end some of the massive corruption going on in DC.

  189. Nathan S

    We don’t actually need to rely on Trump nuking Moscow as an objective test, which is good because I live in central London, altogether too close to Westminster, and don’t have access to a handy shelter. The UK has nukes, but we can’t fire them without Trump’s codes; it’s possible he could fire them without Britain being able to stop him.

    But in any event I doubt that Putin cares who makes the decisions to launch; in his view we are the US’s poodle which, strangely enough, is what Nigel Farage now thinks as well, following the Tomahawk strike, which may explain why the former UKIP leader, who grovelled to both Putin and Trump and was praised by them both for Brexit, is now panicking and trying to distance himself. It isn’t working very well; he’s down to doing talk radio, which in Britain is insignificant.

    As for electing Trump on the basis that he would reduce the risk of nuclear war, I am baffled why anyone would believe that putting someone with the impulse control of a two year old into a position to destroy human civilisation is a good idea. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists agrees on that one; on the 26th January they advanced the Doomsday clock to two and a half minutes to midnight; it was set at three minutes in 2016.

    Of course, they are scientists and science isn’t something Trump acknowledges to even exist; as far Trump is concerned it’s just opinions and his opinions are as good as their’s. Thus, climate change is a hoax, air pollution doesn’t really exist and/or harm anyone, ditto polluted rivers, lakes and other water supplies. People will die as a result of that pollution, now rather than later; the scientific concensus is overwhelming, but those deaths don’t apparently qualify when it comes to the fatalities headcount of Trump’s Presidency.


    If you are under the impression that Donald Trump has any intentions of reducing the power of Big Money then you haven’t been paying attention. Why should he? He befits from it.

    David Hajikek

    You could give some thought to the fact that Trump was elected because, in part, he said he was going drain the Washington swamp. He *is* the backlash.

  190. I never was under the impression that he has or had any intentions of reducing the power of Big Money. But I think there are lots of people who voted, believed his claim that since he was a billionaire and his claim that he was using his own money to run that he would not *need* their money and would be his own man.

    Trouble is Trump claimed anything and everything, and people picked what to believe, when Trump not only didn’t know what was truth, he didn’t care.

  191. Stevie, maybe Trump voters thought they were fighting the establishment, but it did not turn out to be the case. Trump doesn’t even have the decency to be embarrassed by his corruption which is visible to all.

  192. howardbrazee, The election reminded me a bit of when Reagan ran. If you analyzed what Reagan said, it didn’t really mean anything and his voters thought he was “the great communicator.”

    With Trump, as you note, he said both sides of everything, so the voter was free to believe what they wanted to believe. Now they will pay the price. Which would be appropriate. But unfortunately, the rest of us are along for the ride.

  193. “If you are under the impression that Donald Trump has any intentions of reducing the power of Big Money then you haven’t been paying attention. Why should he? He befits from it.”

    In Russia, the Czar in theory had absolute power. He could take anything from anybody and they had no recourse.

    “Tsar Nicholas I figures in an urban legend about the railroad. When it was planned in 1842, he supposedly demanded the shortest path be used despite major obstacles in the way. The story says he tried to use a ruler to draw the railroad in a perfectly straight line. By the Msta river the tsar’s pencil hit an awkwardly placed finger which he was using to hold down the ruler, creating a bend in the road. The legend says that the engineers wanted to execute the tsar’s order exactly, and the result was a perfectly straight road with a single bend. The false story became popular in Russia and Britain as an explanation of how badly the country was governed. By the 1870s, Russians were telling a different version, claiming the tsar was wise to overcome local interests that wanted the railway diverted this way and that.

    Actually what happened was that the road was laid out by engineers and he endorsed their advice to build in a straight line.[2] The curve, also called the Verebinsky bypass, was actually built in 1877, 26 years after the line came into being, to circumvent a steep gradient that lasted for 10 miles.”

    In Britain the king had a lot of power, but his power was encrusted by ritual and precedent. There were lots of people who were supposed to have various freedoms, and if he stepped wrong they would call up their freedoms and argue with him. Maybe he could have them killed, but it was a lot of bother and he’d have to deal with their successors who would likely be just as bad. He could do a whole lot but it didn’t *feel* like absolute power.

    The US president had the advantage of being one man who could make decisions while the legislature debated. Traditionally he didn’t have that much power. The legislature didn’t give him much money. Figure 1 of the link below shows a graph published by the Saint Louis Fed that claims this. The Federal government spent very little money before 1927, mainly with spikes for the Civil War and for WWI. After each war payments went down but not as far as before. Starting around 1930 spending went up more-or-less linearly, with the two big deviations being WW2 and a moderate reduction during Clinton’s second term.

    Now with spending very high, the president can’t take a whole lot of initiative. If he tells a bureaucracy to do something they have not said they can do well, it’s predictable that they will do it badly. If too much of Congress or too much or the public is against it, there will be trouble. The president must balance initiatives that come to him from his employees against the constraints others impose. He balances stuff. He doesn’t have time to start much, but only to further or delay things that other people start.

    Some Russian Czar or other said, apparently on his deathbed, “I never ruled Russia. Ten thousand clerks ruled Russia.” We have far more than ten thousand bureaucrats.

    Trump might reduce the power of other people’s Big Money if there’s an initiative to do that. There’s him and his friends, and then there’s lots of other Big Money that is not friendly to him at all.

    Trump’s big accomplishment is kayfabe. He’s good at making it look like things are happening that people can cheer for or boo at. He generates lots of excitement. It isn’t clear how that will relate to things the government actually does. Except by cutting government bureaus he reduces his own power to get things done.


  194. Very briefly, since I have an unmissable Apple Genius appointment tomorrow, I will note that King Charles I pursued the radical extension to the ‘Divine Right of Kings’ doctrine put together by his father, and was beheaded for it during our Civil War.

    Our Prime Minister is now claiming powers under the Royal Prerogative as it existed a century prior to that when Henry VIII broke with Rome and, amongst other things, happily collected vast sums of money with no-one to tell him ‘no’. Unsurprisingly many of us are less than enthusiastic about this; whether we can stop it is another matter.

  195. Here is a truly depressing look at the Sysaphean task of raising the class consciousness of the average rural Trump supporter.


    Their willingness to agree to their own unworthiness in the grand scheme of politics is devastating. To paraphrase, “Sir, President Trump wants to cut all funding for the food bank we are standing in right now, where you are, right now, getting food to feed yourself and your family for the month.”


    “He’s a real go-getter and a straight talker who wants the best for this country. God love him! I’m sure I’ll find some food somewhere.”

  196. The Right is much less about issues and much more about personalities (even though the accuse the left of identity politics).

    But maybe all of us have some definitions of “family” where we are willing to overlook flaws.

  197. Writing here on May 6th of 2017, just about exactly seven months after the election, HRC is still firmly in the news cycle, quoted or interviewed on national platforms two or three times per week minimum.

    And now she has a new slogan, “Forward Together” or some other slick-sounding nonsense. She says now that she’s “part of the resistence.” Wall Street is not going to abandon its most reliable champion just because she has lost an election or two. At a minimum, her candidacy in 2020 will intercept and diffuse any progressive challenger.

  198. In my view you are delusional. The probability that Trump will have triggered nuclear war by 2020 is very high, and you don’t even seem to understand that blindingly obvious fact. I, on the other hand do. Which is why I have spent 3 weeks sailing in the Med, and then out to the Atlantic, and arrive in Morocco tomorrow to see the Hight Atlas and the inland towns of that remarkable culture.

    You seem incapable of grappling with anywhere out of your comfort zone. I have dedicated myself to seeing those things which I will never see once Trump brings down the world in ruin. As he will…

  199. Stevie, it’s possible that you are right. But I don’t think anybody knows enough to make a good guess whether you are right or how right you are. At least nobody who lacks personal experience with Trump.

    A smart man can succeed at pretending to be stupid. But a stupid man cannot pretend to be smart, except around other stupid people.

    A coldly rational man can pretend to have a hair-trigger temper and to fall into stupid rages. But a man who falls into rages cannot pretend to be coldly rational.

    A thin man can arrange a disguise to make himself look fat. But a fat man has great difficulty making himself look thin.

    It’s possible that Trump is considerably smarter, and colder, and maybe thinner than he looks. I can’t be sure and you shouldn’t be sure either. But it’s also possible that he’s just as he represents himself.

    I strongly doubt that China will get into a nuclear war with us. Their behavior for the last 20 years is consistent with a strategy to win without a significant military confrontation. Why would they give up that strategy while it is succeeding? Why would Trump nuke them? I doubt he believes our missile defense is that good.

    Of course any speculations about war are speculative, but I’d put the chance the USA gets nuked or uses nukes by 2020 at no more than 10%, hardly any higher than with Hillary. I’d put the bigger threat in 7 or 8 years as the new nuclear program approaches completion. Why spend hundreds of billions of dollars for nuclear weapons we don’t intend to use?

  200. Jonah – we’ve spent trillion$ on nuclear weapons programs since the end of WWII – and other than testing – haven’t used them. There’s little reason to think we will start a war with them. Now, if North Korea or someone else does first I can see us retaliating. That’s where Trump and his bombast are dangerous.

    No sane leader will go down that route. MAD may be mad, but it’s been an effective deterrent. Russia and especially China have a lot to lose – NK, not so much. I also believe that the higher leadership in the military would put up quite a bit of resistance to a first strike. Granted my experience with 3-star and 4-star generals was a generation ago, but they were all efficient managers – not rabid ideologues out of Dr Strangelove.

  201. “we’ve spent trillion$ on nuclear weapons programs since the end of WWII – and other than testing – haven’t used them.”

    Yes. If we had, we would be living in rather a different world. So you are making a variation on the anthropic principle.

    “Russia and especially China have a lot to lose – NK, not so much.”

    We all have the same thing to lose — the rest of our lives.

    “I also believe that the higher leadership in the military would put up quite a bit of resistance to a first strike.”

    Things have changed. We have spent trillions to develop a workable first-strike capability. Many small nukes that can be so precisely aimed they can take out hardened nuclear missile silos. Small nukes that can destroy Russia without making enough fallout to destroy us. This had no purpose except to bypass MAD. When some scientists suggested that an attack like that might create a “nuclear winter” that would hurt us, the military spent considerable money funding research which said that would not be a problem provided the attack happened at the right time of year.

    I’m sure that some of our military would strongly resist doing a first strike, and some of our military have built their entire careers to build the ability to do it, and have spent a whole lot of money to develop the methods. Their lives are kind of wasted if we don’t do it.

  202. Jonah – you need to read the Congressional Research Service’s report on Global First Strike. Particularly the section beginning on page 39 concerning Arms Control Issues.

    “… the United States agreed that ballistic missiles armed with conventional warheads that were otherwise consistent with the treaty’s definition of strategic ballistic missiles would count against the treaty’s limits on deployed delivery vehicles. The warheads deployed on these missiles would similarly count against the treaty’s limits on deployed warheads.”

    “Hence, under New START, U.S. land-based ballistic missiles armed with conventional warheads would count under the limits in New START if, according to paragraph 6 of Part One of the Treaty Protocol, the missile “has a ballistic trajectory over most of its flight path” and a range greater than 5,500 kilometers. Submarine-launched ballistic missiles would meet this criteria if they traveled on a ballistic trajectory for most of their flight path and had a range greater than 600 kilometers. Administration officials have explained that the United States accepted this provision because it would be nearly impossible to distinguish between a missile armed with nuclear warheads and one armed with conventional warheads, and, therefore, extremely difficult to verify compliance with the treaty limits if the missiles with conventional warheads did not count”

    You have several things completely wrong and really need to understand these issues rather than spouting incorrect information.

  203. I have no idea what you are talking about. What do land-based missiles with conventional warheads have to do with the subject at all? What does the START treaty have to do with a first strike by the USA?

    If we launch a first strike we won’t care the least little bit about any treaties we signed with the Russians before we did it.

    Are you somehow arguing that our attempts to get a small enough CEP to hit Russian missile silos was NOT toward a first-strike capability?

  204. Jonah–

    Scary stuff about first-strike capability. HRC probably just wanted to rattle the sabers a bit to boost the bottom line for her MIC friends. Problem is, you have real countries on the other end of the saber. As skzb said, a lot of wars have started that way in spite of the intentions.

  205. It helps if you look at a map of the Korean Peninsula and its environs; Trump is a roaring narcissist with the impulse control of a two year old. Unfortunately, so is Kim Jong-il. South Korea is immensely vulnerable, not least because the capital Seoul is only 35 miles south of the 38th parallel; it could be annihilated with conventional weapons, and the consensus is that North Korea has all the weapons it needs to do so.

    China will not tolerate the unification of Korea as a western aligned country, since that threatens China itself. Trump’s ego will not allow him to pull out the 30,000 or so US military in South Korea, much less not retaliate massively to an attack from North Korea, bringing the entire area into war, escalating inexorably into nukes because that’s what happens when you give the power to use them to a roaring narcissist with the impulse control of a two year old.

    Marrakesh is magnificent.

  206. Stevie, imagine that it was Clinton or Obama or Bush or Bill Clinton or Reagan or Carter who was president of the USA at this point.

    What would you expect them to do different to keep your scenario from happening?

    Would any of them pull out the US army from Korea?

    Would any of them pull out the survivors after an attack?

    Would they use the minimum force required to push the North Korean army back to the defined border, and stop with Seoul destroyed?

  207. “In my view you are delusional. The probability that Trump will have triggered nuclear war by 2020 is very high, and you don’t even seem to understand that blindingly obvious fact.” -Stevie

    I hope I’m not alone here, but I’m curious as to what exactly you mean by ‘very high’ probability.

  208. Stevie–

    North Korea still remembers its savage treatment at the hands of the U.S. in 1950–1953 when virtually the entire infrastructure was destroyed and millions of its citizens slaughtered. Nukes are probably the only thing keeping Kim from becoming the next Quaddafi. It is impossible to analyze this issue without considering the historical context.

  209. Kragar

    I’m completely baffled as to how any rational person could construe my observations as ignoring the historical context. They are precisely the reverse. Had you actually bothered to do even the most superficial reading you would know that the vast casualties suffered in North Korea were Chinese.

    Ignorance on this scale is a terrifying demonstration of just how dumbed down the US has become.

  210. Stevie–

    Forgive me if I do not accept your expertise when it comes to history and international relations; a few weeks back you claimed that China had no nuclear weapons and you had to be told they have had them since 1964.

    If you think North Korea did not suffer vast casualties, of both the soldier and civilian variety, between 1950 and 1953, I would have to say it is probably you who has done the superficial reading.

  211. Kragar

    Try Tim Marshall’s ‘Prisoners of Geography’; his chapter on Korea and Japan in particular, along with his chapter on China.

  212. Stevie, you are on the wrong side of public opinion here.

    Wikipedia puts it as

    NK: 215,000–350,000 dead
    303,000 wounded
    120,000 MIA or POW

    out of a total force that never had more than 266,000 at one time.

    China: Chinese sources):
    152,000–183,000 dead
    383,500 wounded
    450,000 hospitalized
    4,000–25,000 missing
    7,110 captured
    14,190 defected

    (American estimates):
    400,000+ dead
    486,000 wounded

    The chinese could have taken more casualties, but North Vietnam took a whole lot considering the size of the country.

    Total civilians killed/wounded: 2.5 million (est.)
    South Korea: 990,968
    373,599 killed
    229,625 wounded
    387,744 abducted/missing
    North Korea: 1,550,000 (est.)

    I get the impression that you are figuring that since China had the giant armies, it was China that took the giant casualties. But North Korea took giant casualties too. Unless Wikipedia is wrong, which does often happen.

  213. I think nearly 2,000,000 North Korean dead because of war during a three-year period to be a pretty big number. Perhaps Stevie and Tim Marshall do not. I did google him and his book. Senior Foreign Policy correspondent for Sky News and a former reporter for the BBC. You don’t rise to such heights without being a committed and sophisticated apologist for the US/UK Military Industrial Complex. So, colour me unimpressed. I won’t be reading his book.

  214. Jonah

    Both of my parents were career military; when it comes to scepticism about casualty figures it’s impossible to outdo them. I’m sticking to Marshall’s figures at the moment but I am on board a ship trying to outrun a storm with winds of 60 knots, which is guaranteed to throw me about quite a bit. If you have any spare fingers to cross I should be grateful if you did so…

  215. “when it comes to scepticism about casualty figures it’s impossible to outdo them.”

    I don’t know whose figures to believe. Just, you are on the wrong side of public opinion. A lot of people, including the consensus on Wikipedia, believes that North Korea suffered a whole lot of deaths etc. Even if the Chinese Army which was so much bigger took extremely large numbers of casualties, probably North Korea took a whole lot compared to their size.

  216. Stevie- in the end, does it really matter exactly how many North Koreans died in the Korean War? What is absolutely undeniable is that all North Koreans are convinced that they suffered massive loss of life and destruction of property and their environment. Whatever proof your expert has that they are wrong is immaterial to the discussion. The North Koreans will act from their understanding of the truth, not yours and not Marshall’s.

    Hope you didn’t sink…

  217. Jonah

    You keep using the phrase ‘public opinion’. Public opinion is not a question of fact, it’s a question of belief; the inability to distinguish between the two is catastrophic in its consequences.


    I accept your point, echoed by howardbrazee. The one thing which unites the two Korean states is hatred of Japan, entirely predictably given the atrocities of the invasion in the early 20th century and occupation until the end of WWII. Those are facts. The response to Donald Trump’s suggestion that Japan should have its own nukes are equally predictable.

    We didn’t sink, though it got quite exciting; I’m in Seville, grabbing something to eat before I head for the Alcazar. Thank you for those kind thoughts.

  218. Japan will have its own nukes if China does not eventually shut NK down. I realize the Chinese need to do that on terms agreeable to them. But the consequences of not getting NK under control are either American intervention or Japanese proliferation. Either is a nightmare for the world and for China in particular. Not advocating for those positions, just pointing out the obvious.

  219. Back to Hilary Rodham Clinton. I was wrong, she doesn’t just have a new slogan, but a whole new PAC called “Onward Together.” Now why would she start a new PAC if she was not planning a 2020 Presidential run? I will be personally disgusted if she does run again, but at least I can enjoy the giddy pleasure of observing her third election loss.

  220. Pardon my skepticism, but HRC and the Clinton Foundation are REALLY bad at providing funds to other groups, but REALLY good at enriching themselves and building giant campaign war chests. The anti-Russia crowd (most of D.C. intellectual elite from both parties, it would seem) could find no better champion.

  221. Stevie “Public opinion is not a question of fact, it’s a question of belief”

    Yes, of course. I am not saying you are wrong. I am saying that most people don’t believe you. The truth was whatever it was. People’s beliefs have consequences.

    Wikipedia accepts authorities that disagree with you. You have chosen an authority that you say does agree with you. I haven’t looked at it, he could be right, but….

    You say that North Koreans did not suffer all that much in the war, that most of the casualties were Chinese. I say it’s possible that most of the casualties were Chinese and still the North Koreans could have suffered horribly because there were *so many* Chinese to become casualties and not that many Koreans. I’m not sure how we could get evidence that the North Koreans didn’t suffer many casualties, except to argue that the various censuses and record-keeping etc were wrong.

    They had a population around 10 million people, and they lost an estimated half million soldiers killed and 1.5 million civilians. Those numbers would have to be pretty far off to stop looking grim.

  222. Kragar:I’m not saying what will actually become of the funds–just their current stated purpose.

    I am still very skeptical that HRC will arise from the grave and actually be nominated to run for president again. Not impossible, but very improbable. I wouldn’t vote for her just because of all the baggage she has that is now very obvious.

  223. No, I would prefer a candidate who can beat Trump.
    And, if really optimistic, I would like a candidate who doesn’t represent corporate interests.

  224. Jonah

    I’m sorry; I am obviously not communicating well. I’m not saying that the North Koreans didn’t suffer during the war; I think it’s pretty obvious that everybody suffered during the war. I am saying that the facts don’t support the belief that they suffered disproportionately, nor were the North Koreans the victims of US aggression. Broadly speaking, if you start a war then there are inevitable consequences:

    In June 1950 North Korea launched a successful blitzkrieg attack on South Korea, reaching almost to the southern coastline. The US/UN force landed in September 1950, and forced the North Koreans back not only to the 38th Parallel but far beyond it, close to the Chinese border.

    It was at that point that vast numbers of Chinese military poured across the Yalu River, and the bloodbath really got into its stride. After three years of massive casualties on all sides they fought themselves to a truce, more or less where they had started in June 1950 with the border on the 38th Parallel.

    China was defending its border, and viewed North Korea as the buffer zone which distanced it from the US friendly dictatorship in South Korea. I don’t think their strategic view has changed, though they seem not to be hugely worried by the US putting new weapons systems into South Korea since they know the Beloved Leader is a nutcase, and if the worst came to the worst the US might be persuaded to use a MOAB or two.

    That was agreed by the Obama administration; unfortunately Trump is a nutcase as well, hence the horror evoked by his suggestion that the Japanese should build their own nukes; there is a reason why North Korea does its missile tests over Japan. If the missiles can fly over Japan they can land on Japan, and, as I have noted, about the only thing which both Korean states agree on is the culpability of Japan for its actions in Korea.

    China also has been on the receiving end of Japanese invasions, which brings us back once again to Trump’s suggestion; he is not only ignorant and unwilling to learn but also capable of bringing the world down in flames to stroke his ego.

    Which is why I was wandering around the Alcazar in Seville yesterday; a place of stunning beauty created by Muslims over centuries, taken over by Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, who used it as a base to set about ruling the world. Well, that and forming the Spanish Inquisition, of course…

  225. Stevie, I think we’re down to subtle nuances here. It looks to me like the Koreans suffered disproportionately, north and south. The chinese military may have suffered disproportionately too, but remember China had inherited various nationalist armies that could not escape and switched sides, and were not trusted. The Chinese government may have preferred to march them forward to be slaughtered by the Americans in preference to any other solution for that problem….

    Almost all of Korea had front lines of a foreign army crossing it. North Korea had first the Americans pushing the North Koreans back, and then the Chinese pushing the Americans back. In South Korea at least one time it was mostly Koreans fighting other Koreans, which tends to result in armies that are marginally better behaved.

    The USA did a lot of airstrikes in Korea. But our airstrike technology was still kind of primitive and I’m not sure how much damage it did. It may have been more than Vietnam, because by that time we were ready to bomb many enemy troop positions in out-of-the-way places, while in Korea we did more bombing of cities and towns in the hope that the bombs which missed their actual targets would at least hit something that mattered. I’m not an expert about that, and if it was worth following up then ideally we would find North Korean experts who investigated the damage on the ground.

    The people of north and south korea tend to have a degree of fellow-feeling. They are koreans together. Various families got split up in the confusion and wound up on different sides of the border. Lots of extended families wound up split. I don’t want to read too much into that, but — some. I think North Korea is even less likely to nuke South Korea than various other places. If they choose not to nerve-gas Seoul I won’t be at all surprised. They are officially ruled by one person, who has an unusual point of view. But their sense of who they are will tend to shine through.

    It goes the other way round too. I’ve met South Koreans who were willing to tell me that they thought nukes owned by North Korea were good for South Korea. Because they were all Koreans, see. They looked out for each other. I’m not as certain it would turn out that way as they were, but it says something that they were willing to say it in front of Americans.

    Remember that North and South Korea first got separated along the border that the US and Russian occupying armies agreed to. That was pretty much an arbitrary line for the Koreans.

    A large minority of Koreans collaborated with Japan during the war, and they suffered some reprisals afterward. A lot of that was reduced during the confusion of the Korean war. But a significant fraction of Koreans were angry at Japan for losing, more than for occupying them.

    “unfortunately Trump is a nutcase as well, hence the horror evoked by his suggestion that the Japanese should build their own nukes;”

    Trump sometimes shows signs of being an excellent negotiator. In this particular case he reminds everybody what their BATNA is likely to look like. If they fail to get an agreement, this is a likely result.

    It makes sense for him to act less horrified about it than the others too. If it looks like he isn’t horrified, then they are less likely to try to get concessions from him to keep it from happening.

    Sometimes an apparent nutcase can get the best deal. Other times, not. If there was one strategy that worked all the time, practically everybody would use it almost all the time….

Leave a Reply