Rant: Lying, or Simply Stupid?

I’ve heard a couple of time on this blog and a couple of times on other media that I believed Clinton and Trump are “the same.”  My patience with this rubbish is gone.

Obviously, I at no time said or implied that Clinton and Trump were “the same.”  On the contrary, I repeatedly insisted on the difference, and attempted, as best I could, to analyze those differences within the context of capitalist politics.  I used the phrase “the threat of Trump” in this post, made several posts on Facebook in which I referred to the different interests of the various capitalists who supported each of them and how that was significant, and on twitter linked to a WSWS article that said (paraphrasing from memory) that millions of workers will see a Trump victory as the herald of increased assaults on their living standards, and will see a Clinton victory as continuing an intolerable status quo.  Anyone who considers those to be identical is an idiot.

However, for those of you who are either foolish enough or, more likely, dishonest enough to still maintain that I think Clinton and Trump were “the same,” let me pose a simple question: If you voted for Clinton, that means you did not vote for Trump, and you also did not vote for the Jill Stein. Are you, therefore, claiming Trump and Stein  are the same?

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141 thoughts on “Rant: Lying, or Simply Stupid?”

  1. Would you rather be consumed in a fiery conflagration or fall to your death from a 50th story window? That was the terrible choice some had to make when the planes hit the WTC towers in 2001. Those people were placed in that position by other forces. They did not have other options.

    Maybe it is a bit of a melodramatic analogy, but it fits to compare that choice to voting for Clinton or Trump. The only reasonable choice is none of the above, but that wasn’t a menu option. But they are not the same.

    And in case you were wondering, I voted for Stein.

  2. Don’t blame me, I voted for Stein. (:

    More to the point, though, I completely agreed with you on your assessment of both Trump and Clinton.

  3. As Kragar pointed out, neither Trump nor Clinton was a reasonable choice. They were forced false choices. The two party system was gamed.

    That doesn’t mean that Trump and Clinton are the same, just that they are two bad choices. It really is time for a third party as the democratic leaders cannot remove themselves from their addiction to big money. The real problem is that they are actively undermining progressive candidates. They would rather lose than have the party be taken over by progressives.

  4. Thanks to the Electoral College and the fact that we’re both in the same state that went Democratic as predicted, my vote for Stein and your vote for no one (or did you write in the SEP?) had zero effect. Anyone who blames us for the result does not understand how the system works.

    It is telling that the Democrats still aren’t trying to end the Electoral College. The reason is they’d rather risk losing repeatedly (it seem to only shaft Democrats, though some think it got Nixon in ’60) because the alternative is to make it easier for Greens and the SEP to compete.

    A sad truth is you can’t expect people to tell the truth about you online. I haven’t decided whether the worst maligners are those who simply make up things or those who take things out of context to twist what you actually said.

  5. Oh, if it’s any consolation, few of the people who misrepresent you are doing it intentionally. The worst ideologies make their believers think those who are not for them are against them. It’s ironic that the worst subset of liberals have extremely illiberal views of people who don’t think exactly as they do.

  6. I also thought it was interesting that the DNC failed to back Thompson in Kansas even though he was polling neck-and-neck with the establishment Republican. In the last couple of weeks before election night, the national R superstars and money came pouring in. The DNC sent not one cent, and even refused to let Thompson have the voter lists they had compiled. Thompson is a Sanders-inspired progressive human rights attorney. Not one of “theirs” like the guy in Georgia. The Kansas R guy won 53 to 46…so it was highly winnable if the DNC had wished. So that tells you what the national Dems are all about.


    I voted for Stein not because I really agree with her or her do-nothing party; it was mostly to send the message that reversing global warming needs to be a top priority.

  7. While agreeing that Stein and the Greens have their flaws, I’m hesitant to call them a do-nothing party. They’re a third party in a two-party system. They don’t have the power to do nothing.

    Now, calling the Dems under neoliberal control a do-nothing party, I could agree with.

  8. Americans have been taught to vote for the lesser evil. It’s the way to vote *against* the greater evil.

    If both of the electable evils are too bad to vote for? Then doesn’t it make sense to vote for the lesser evil among the next two? When you vote for a fifth party it’s doubly unelectable….

    I support the Green Party because I agree with them on more than half of their issues and they have a chance to become important if one of the big travesties fails. If something else grows fast and doesn’t look like it’s too much controlled by the same old big shots I might switch.

    We’d be better off with a better voting system. Something like IRV or RCV. So you could vote for parties independent of whether they can win, and vote for a backup too.

  9. One of the interesting things about this election is the number of people who didn’t vote (myself included)*. I think the percentage who said “no thanks” to this sham was somewhere around 50 percent? So that’s half the adult population in the US who, for whatever reason, believed that it was pointless to go to the polls in November. People have offered different reasons for the abstention, and if I had to guess I would say people are deeply disaffected and fed-up. And it’s worth pointing out that turnout has been abysmal for a long time.

    *I could have voted SEP as a write-in, but I’ve lost all confidence in bourgeois electoral politics. I take the George Carlin approach to voting, sans the misanthropy.

  10. Re: They’re the same.

    I think the people who are accusing you of arguing that Clinton and Trump are the same are neither liars or stupid. Maybe I’m being a little naive here, but this election was chock full of fear, and fear inhibits critical thinking. It’s more satisfying emotionally to simply dismiss your arguments with the old, “so you’re saying they’re the same?” rebuttal. Unfortunately, this type of reaction takes us deeper into the swamp. That’s why your insistence to patiently explain (while hard) is necessary. You seem to have a pretty good handle on it.

  11. Some of the people who assert skzb’s asserting sameness are probably knowingly lying. Others are probably trapped within the constraints of their worldview. When the only thing you know about are fish, nails are really hard to use.

  12. It is also a matter of a lot of online discourse and the people who sustain it being locked into a binary ideological drive. If you don’t agree WITH me, then you are agreeing with those who are against me. Everything is divided into 1 or 0. The idea that you can be opposed to position A without supporting position B simply doesn’t parse. Any statement you make that isn’t definitive must be sorted into one of those columns.

  13. In my more pessimistic moments I believe both the Democrats and Republicans are farmers. The American people are their livestock.

    The Democrats want to run a nice, organic, free range farm where the critters are happy and healthy. The Republicans want to run a cruel factory farm where the animals are penned in their own filth.

    Given the choice between the two, any sane animal would vote for the Democrats … while wishing for another alternative. Because the animals on both farms go to the same slaughterhouse.

  14. Your post raises an interesting point about systems, and many of the comments highlight it. I was drawn to your simple question “Do you think Trump and Stein are the same?” because it isn’t simple at all. Certainly, ideologically there is no similarity between Trump and Stein. I don’t see any way you can square that circle. Even the idea that they were both “opponents of the foreign policy status quo” is laughable because Trump isn’t opposed to the use of American power; he’s just opposed to any use that doesn’t someone aggrandize or benefit him.

    However, in terms of their relationship with the systems that make up the U.S. government they are exactly the same, both because of their lack of understanding of the systems and more importantly their disinterest in understanding them. I firmly believe that much of the chaos surrounding Trump’s first 100 days is due to this disinterest and furthermore that in a Stein presidency, many of the same things would be happening. We’d still have tons of key government positions unfilled, we’d still have pretty much no successful legislation, and we’d still be closer to WWIII than we’ve been in quite a while.

    Her priorities would be different–it would be a single-payer bill languishing in the House instead of the AHCA, the U.S. might be at loggerheads with another nation, not North Korea, and the graft probably wouldn’t be coming from the Stein Administration, it would merely be emboldened by it–but the result would be the same, because those are the results the system produces when it’s not managed.

  15. Henryseward: Some good points, there, especially about the apathy. I have the sense that it was a more *aggressive* apathy than it has been in the past; that is, a sense among broad layers that no one was addressing their problems, and that they were getting angry about it.

    Dennis: I largely agree with you. The four parties we heard about during the election were all saying, “No, *I* can do the best job of running capitalism.” And all four had different programs on how to do so (hence they are not “the same” and the differences are important to understand). None of them were saying, “Capitalism is itself the problem.”

  16. Well, one was coming close:

    “What democratic socialism is about is saying that it is immoral and wrong that the top one-tenth of 1 percent in this country own almost 90 percent – almost – own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. That it is wrong, today, in a rigged economy, that 57 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent. That when you look around the world, you see every other major country providing health care to all people as a right, except the United States.”

  17. And while he toned down his rhetoric for pragmatic reasons, he has never repudiated earlier things he said, like:

    “What being a socialist means is … that you hold out … a vision of society where poverty is absolutely unnecessary, where international relations are not based on greed … but on cooperation … where human beings can own the means of production and work together rather than having to work as semi-slaves to other people who can hire and fire.”

  18. While I like the farm analogy, the ruling democrats seem to not mind a lot of filth and pain for the livestock, since the farmer makes more money that way.

    Philosophically, the dems care for people, but for the DNC, it is just lip service. The net effect is that there is minimal difference between the results.

  19. Something that almost never gets discussed is, “what is the purpose of government?”

    The GOP thinks that they OWN the country. It’s like when a CEO is hired as an employee of a company. Then all of a sudden, he believes he owns the company and all the benefits should go to him personally.

    I mentioned to a republican friend that the president works for us, that he is our employee. My friends teeth nearly fell on the floor. He believed we work for the president. That’s a very basic difference. He saw the president as the CEO of a company we work for. But that company is not our employer. It pays us nothing. Rather, we pay it. Which is why the president is our employee.

    Unfortunately, today’s DNC also think they own the country and we work for them. So, except in degree and lip service and a few good people, the two parties are the same on that measure.

    Say that the “social democrats” finally get into power. They initially will probably do some very good things like universal health care. But it will be a constant battle over time, to keep them from eventually thinking they own the country and that they should benefit personally.

  20. Oneill, are you suggesting that isn’t a difference?

    I hope you’re not suggesting she isn’t a hawk.

  21. Will – I’m suggesting Trump is worse and said so before the election. Trump is a loose cannon and he’s accelerated war in three countries already. And he was always worse on China.

    Go back and read the thread – I’m not going to rehash it. This was just a reminder that skzb was wrong.

  22. oneill –
    I don’t see how you’re so sure. I don’t consider skzb’s comment falsifiable, considering we can only speculate as to alternate timeline Clinton’s actions. As far as speculation goes: Trump, so far, has done nothing towards either Russia or China even in the same ballpark as, say, establishing a no-fly zone over Syria.

  23. Agreeing with Nathan S. here. Whenever you speak of Clinton, remember her support for overthrowing democracy in Honduras and pushing Obama to create the mess we now have in Libya. Anyone who doubts her love of war should read the NY Times piece, “Hillary Clinton, ‘Smart Power’ and a Dictator’s Fall.” The subhead: “The president was wary. The secretary of state was persuasive. But the ouster of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi left Libya a failed state and a terrorist haven.”


    That one article should’ve told the Democrats they were choosing the wrong candidate.

  24. oneillsinwisconsin–

    There is no hope for genuine reform nor progress towards a just and equal society within the framework of the Democratic party. The DNC types have proven that over and over so many times. The Dems were cheering the loudest during Trump’s shameful missile attack on that Syrian airbase.

    But don’t worry, you will have another chance to support, argue in favor of, and vote for HRC in 2020. She’s making one or two awards dinners per week, and working the interview circuit. The system will work to keep her relevant until the primary cycle begins in 2018. When that happens, I will be ready to denounce her once again.

  25. “Trump is a loose cannon and he’s accelerated war in three countries already. And he was always worse on China.”

    Loose cannon, yes. He’s the president and he believes he gets to take initiative.

    What are the three countries he’s accelerated war in already? I haven’t been keeping close track. The USA and what other two?

    Trump always insisted that we had to negotiate a better agreement with China. He never convinced me that he had a way to do that, because the way it looks to me, they hold almost all the cards.

    They are selling to us below cost, and we could threaten to stop accepting that deal, and see how threatened they feel.

    We owe them a lot of money, and we could threaten to pay it with inflated dollars and wreck our international credit rating, rather than let them lend us more. That will scare them.

    We could threaten to nuke them, secure in the belief that our Iron Dome missile defense would stop their 250 to 400 nukes aimed at us. They might take that one seriously. The crazier Trump looks, the more they might think he’d go through with it.

    We could threaten to start a land war in asia. They just hate it when we do that.

    Clinton would have had to negotiate a deal with China, and she had no good choices. Trump has no good choices either. I expect he’ll talk a good game and then fold, but maybe he can get something I wouldn’t have expected. We aren’t the only nation that expects trouble with China, we are only the current target. Maybe Russia would help us somehow. Maybe other nations would. We have to do something, and I don’t see anything that would work.

  26. As much as I detest Trump, the bigger problem was never his militaristic bombast. Even I don’t think he’s that crazy – just got a big mouth. But some people actually believed he would be a better choice to keep us out of war – especially nuclear war?!

    Meanwhile, real pressing issues got ignored. We have just passed the 410 ppm plateau for atmospheric CO2. Tpoday was The March For Science and unfortunately many simply are ignorant of the Earth’s history:

    “The carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere today are ones that likely haven’t been reached in 3 million years. But if human activities keep committing carbon dioxide to the atmosphere at current rates, scientists will have to look a lot deeper into the past for a similar period. The closest analog to the mid-century atmosphere we’re creating would be a period roughly 50 million years ago known as the Eocene, a period when the world was completely different than the present due to extreme heat and oceans that covered a wide swath of currently dry land.

    “The early Eocene was much warmer than today: global mean surface temperature was at least 10°C (18°F) warmer than today,” Dana Royer, a paleoclimate researcher at Wesleyan University who co-authored the new research, said. “There was little-to-no permanent ice. Palms and crocodiles inhabited the Canadian Arctic.”

    Got that? Palms and crocodiles at the latitude of Greenland. What do you think that means for the majority of tropical and temperate zones where humans actually live today? I won’t be here at mid century and there’s almost nothing we can do to stop it from happening now — it’s too late. Misplaced priorities. We may well be headed back to hunter-gatherer days, but not from some nuclear apocalypse.

  27. “Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan”

    My understanding is that Yemen is a Saudi war and our bombing there is mostly a symbolic show of support for them. Assuming the “bad guys” practice reasonable message discipline, the air attacks kill mostly relatively small numbers of civilians. Special forces give more symbolic support, and in theory they can drop in and check on the results of drone attacks to assess the results. Like the duck-hunting joke, where after they shoot something somebody wants to check whether what got shot was a duck. There probably aren’t enough of them to make much difference in the Saudi’s war.

    I haven’t seen anything from Afghanistan that wasn’t predictable. The Afghans have two main alliances that don’t get along, and neither of them can control the whole country without a lot of help from outsiders. Pakistan had supported Taliban in controlling most of it, but then the USA supported Northern Alliance and ordered Pakistan to stop supplying Taliban. Our allies there are overextended even with US supplies and airstrikes and have to fall back unless US troops help them. Them falling back or us supplying troops would look like a failure for the USA.

    So the military says they can turn it around. They told Obama that, and he let them try, and then when it basicly didn’t work he refused to keep increasing the support. It was pretty much inevitable they would repeat the process with a new president, and after a couple rounds of them wanting to do more because they couldn’t get results with the current level of support, he’ll probably back off like Obama did.

    Syria is a hornets nest and Trump started out with his hand stuck in it. He wants to pull his hand out but the press will say he’s a coward if he does. They said Assad did a poison gas attack, and if Trump didn’t do something he’d look worse than Obama. When they insisted that Assad did a poison gas attack with Obama, Obama got a deal with the Russians to get a great big concession instead of expanding the war. Trump instead made one little attack on one Syrian airbase.

    I find it hard to tell what’s actually going on there, since most of the available information is disinformation. It looks like over a period of 10+ years the CIA has assembled an alliance of every anti-Assad group they could arm. Including Al Qaeda. But they couldn’t include ISIS because that looked too bad. They try to keep the members of their alliance from fighting each other instead of Assad, like they ordered the Kurds and the Turks to stop fighting each other. In theory everybody — Assad and everybody else — fights ISIS. ISIS has nominal control over a lot of Syria’s land area, but it’s mostly desert that nobody much wants. If they lose a fringe of towns around it, they won’t nominally own that desert any more either.

    It’s a mess. Basicly there’s the Israeli front, the Turkish front, the Kurdish front, and the ISIS front, but there are lots and lots of little armed groups who contest things on all fronts, because the CIA and probably others flooded the area with weapons.

    Assad has 2/3 of the people, and if he loses there’s nobody who can take over. If the USA wasn’t involved, there would be a Kurdish nation that might join the Iraqi Kurdish nation, that might get stomped on by the Turks. There might be a small Alawi nation to the west, or they might have an alliance with somebody bigger. From there I can’t guess, somebody random might eventually gain control out of the chaos, like the random bolshevik/stalinists eventually won in Russia.

    If Trump chooses to stick his hand in further and squeeze, and no US president after him dares to pull out and be called a coward, we might get some sort of stability in Syria after a 10-20 year occupation to take the starch out of the various fighters. Assuming the Russians don’t interfere.

    I can’t tell what Trump is doing. Presumably the military told him that they can’t get good results unless they commit more, and it’s only a little bit more, and Trump said OK just like Obama did in Iraq/Afghanistan. But Trump is trying to keep it secret how much they’re doing so he can pull out without admitting how much he pushed in. Except of course once there’s a casualty people will say it was a wasted sacrifice unless we achieve all our goals in Syria, and they will blame him for anything except victory or continued war.

    Do you have some reliable information sources about all this? I’m not confident about any of it because I have nothing to work with I can trust.

  28. Just to fact check here, a larger percentage voted in 2016 than 2012, but less than 2008. The numbers are more in the neighborhood of 60% than 50%, but all elections, even 2008 have pathetic participation numbers. You still end up in a situation where more people don’t vote than vote for any single candidate.

    I tend to think of this 40% as the Kuiper belt of the electorate. You get an unusual perturbation, like Trump/vocalized fascism and you don’t know what unknown bodies will emerge and enter the voting booth for the first time in years, to the consternation of the talking heads who supposedly understand American politics and the American people.

    Somebody like Sanders and expressed sympathy for socialist-lite ideas might have drawn a different group of bodies out of the frozen depths.

  29. France’s ruling Socialist Party garnered just 6.3% of the vote in today’s election.

    To tell a consistent story one might want to include the failure of the Socialist Party in France to alleviate any of the economic troubles that we see in so many countries.

  30. From Vox on the French elections:

    “She [National Front candidate Marine LePen] has appealed to a swath of French society that feels overlooked and undercut by the European Union and the shift toward globalization, people who have seen their jobs and livelihoods move to other parts of the world.

    Europe and other Western democracies are facing “exactly the same question,” one French official told me on condition of anonymity. “The lower middle class basically has suffered or believes it has suffered from the globalization, from the crisis of 2008, and they are really basically telling the elites, ‘You are not delivering, so we are tossing the table.’”

    Like Trump, LePen offers an insular, protectionist, nationalist brand of populism. Using the same logic that skzb applied to Cinton, he would also refuse to sign a petition against LePen. And there’s the rub.

  31. O’Neill- if your hypothetical petition also implicitly endorsed François Asselineau or Jacques Cheminade, would he be wrong to reject it? That is the flaw in your reasoning. Rejecting Clinton and endorsing Trump are not identical stances. You can reject both.

  32. O’Neill: Refusing to sign a petition is an entirely different action than refusing to vote for. Your logic needs a refresher course.

    Also, note that French politics is complicated (at least as complicated as US politics). While the French Socialist Party did not do well, it appears that some number supported Emmanuel Macron who used to be a member. Note also that everyone is free to name their party whatever they want and the Socialist word there carries a different connotation and practical meaning then is ordinarily applied in the blog postings here.

  33. As I understand it, in our current electoral system only the two major party candidates have any chance of winning the presidency. The last half century shows a pattern of alternating between the two, and there aren’t many landslide victories. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that both major party candidates have a decent shot, and from there it follows that both need all the votes they can get, especially in swing states. Thus, decrying abstentions, third party votes, and the ‘false equivalency’ of the major parties are all reasonable strategies from supporters of either major party. It made sense to me that Clinton supporters saw anything less than a vote for Clinton as a vote against her. It also made sense for Trump supporters to portray abstaining Republicans as basically voting for Clinton. The point is, I would describe these major party supporters as simply ‘having an agenda’ – not sure if that falls more into the lying or stupid category.

    Disclaimer: The above probably makes me sound like an enlightened citizen, wise to the ways of the ruling elite, who might withhold my support on principle. In fact, I voted for Clinton…

  34. lars writes – “… if your hypothetical petition also implicitly endorsed François Asselineau or Jacques Cheminade, would he be wrong to reject it? ”

    Since the French election is between LePen and Marcon the two candidates you mention are irrelevant.

  35. Argentum, we only have this reality to deal with. *IF* one is voting for a 3rd party for a practical reason (i.e., future ballot access) then the vote isn’t wasted. But since we *ARE* living in this one reality one seriously need consider whether the outcome one desires is forwarded or setback by one’s vote. A vote for Stein was known to be wasted ahead of time. Only Clinton or Trump was going o win.

    Given that reality — which future did one want to live in? Everything else, all other excuses, are just semantic games and seeking to avoiid responsibility for our shared future.

    I say this as a John Anderson, Ralph Nader, and host of other 3rd party candidate supporters. The only Presidential one I voted for was John Anderson.

  36. Oneill, there’s this thing called the Electoral College. Don’t lecture people who don’t live in swing states.

    And ideally, don’t lecture people who do, but this is the internet, so no big.

  37. Will, the actual vote one makes in a non-competitive state may not matter, but the public position one takes and the effort to get a candidate elected do. We live in an era of globalization; long distance phone calls nowadays cost practically nothing. It’s possible to work to get a candidate elected *IN* a swing state even if you don’t live in one. I.e., your lecture is not well thought through.

  38. “A vote for Stein was known to be wasted ahead of time. Only Clinton or Trump was going o win.”

    Since both Clinton and Trump promised to be disasters, it made absolutely no sense to vote for either one of them.

    People try to make up justifications for voting for Clinton, because they don’t want to admit it was so utterly and completely stupid. But they can’t come up with anything reasonable. So they look like total fools when they do it.

  39. Oneill, am I correctly translating that to “You must serve the system”? My answer is, “No.”

  40. jet – “…it made absolutely no sense to vote for either one of them.”

    Yes, because women’s reproductive rights, LGBT rights, medical insurance access, climate change, etc., etc. have no bearing on actual living people in this reality – they’re just hypotheticals. Jesus, that’s a dumb argument. And the false equivalence rears it’s ugly head again.

  41. Will – serve the system? Hardly – one can be an anarchist and still work to change the system, but that doesn’t mean one should *ignore* the one reality we live in. Is the Socialist Party candidate for President serving the system? Again, I don’t think you’ve thought this through – just responded knee-jerk to something I wrote without actually building a coherent argument in your head – much less communicated it.

    If one believes women should control their own reproductive rights, then voting for Trump, Clinton, or candidate X makes a difference. Voting for Trump or X means those rights are more likely to be whittled away because voting for Trump or X decreased Clinton’s chances of winning.

    The major stumbling block here seems to be *theory* vs *reality* Oh if I were King and could decree the perfect system. I ain’t, you ain’t and we ain’t gettin’ the perfect system. The best we can hope to do is shape the system as best we can towards what we believe.

  42. Oneill, you have this habit of telling people what you think they think. Perhaps it’s part of telling yourself a story that comforts you.

    If you’re interested in learning some of the ways Clinton screwed up, read some reviews of Shattered. You could start with this one: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/taibbi-on-the-new-book-that-brutalizes-the-clinton-campaign-w477978

    Blaming the people who failed to be convinced by her shows a profound misunderstanding of the system. The responsibility for not choosing the more popular candidate is with the Democrats in general and the party’s neoliberal leaders in specific. Blaming anyone else is like blaming foot soldiers for the high command’s failure.

  43. Will – you have a habit of actually disregarding or responding to the critcisms of your argument. Perhaps when you do I can respond.

    I.e., swing states – the world is global. You can work for a candidate even if you don’t live in one. Response by Will – crickets.

    I.e., serving the system – voting (or running for office) is a weird definition of serving the system. Apparently Socialist Party candidates and the people that vote for them are serving the system. Response by Will – crickets.

    Now your argument is that Clinton had some bad policy positions. BREAKING NEWS – candidate does not share 100% of my views. i.e., there were two choices. They might be tweedledee and tweedle dum – but the effect of one winning has *real world* effects on everyday, average people – including workers (and women and ……). Hey, but we can ignore that because …. whatever.

  44. Will:

    Planned Parenthood defunded.
    Environmental concerns ignored.
    Science ignored
    LGBT rights regress.
    Women’s reproductive rights limited
    Climate change ignored
    Tax policies to favor the wealthy
    The ACA limited

    Bearing these *real world* effects in mind, not voting for Clinton served the greater good exactly how?

  45. O’Neill, yes, we know the consequences of the Democrats going with Clinton instead of Sanders. Either they’ll learn from failure or they won’t. I’m not sure where the smart bet goes.

  46. oneillsinwisconsin–

    I believe that if HRC had been elected, she would have quickly provoked Russia in Syria and in the Ukraine to such a great extent that war would be unavoidable. In that scenario, I would not be typing this because we would all be dead or scrambling to survive in the nuclear winter.

    Yes Trump has been an ass and no I didn’t vote for him or support him, but your argument that the world would have been better off with an HRC win is just as theoretical as mine. How’s that for false equivalence?

  47. Trump had to be dragged by the deep State to make a token cruise missile attack on an empty Syrian airbase and there is no indication so far that there will be any follow-up. Clinton and her neo-con cronies, on the other hand, wished to set up “no-fly zones” so they could destroy Syria as a functioning state just as she did with Libya in 2011. There is no possibility that Russia would have let that happen. If your solution is a hot war against a nuclear-armed opponent, well that seems like no solution at all.

  48. paraphrasing the latest Will -“I can’t answer your argument so now I’ll make a different, inconsistent one.”

    The Socialist Party was in power in France. They saw the same disenchantment as in the USA. And lost – big time (6.3% of the vote). But (according to Will) the USA problem was in not choosing Sanders. Not to mention our host dissed Sanders as well as Clinton. This would seem to involve a very inconsistent storyline.

    And this new argument of course *IGNORES* reality. The choice was tweedleTrump or tweedleClinton in the general election. At that point Sanders was irrelevant. But hey … when you can’t answer an argument just make *another* nonsensical argument.

    I deal with this tactic all the time on science denier websites – it’s called a gish gallop. Originally used by creationists to argue against evolution. Just keep proposing one worthless argument after another and inundate the conversation with as many loose ends as you can – never admitting the worthlessness of the arguments so that tomorrow (next week, next month) you can repeat them again.

    And again crickets on the previous criticisms of your previous statements.

  49. Kragar – have you any evidence of this “deep state” or that it “dragged Trump” to do anything – or is this just fantasy/science fiction hypothesizing on your part?

  50. Oneill, yes, Steve and I have different opinions about Sanders. The fact remains that he’s been the US’s most popular politician for over a year, but the Democrats preferred to lose with another neoliberal.

    France is not the US, and their Socialist Party is not any other socialist party. If you really want to deal with reality, stick with this one. Where the reality is that the Democrats chose to run the weaker candidate, and we’re probably worse off for it.

    Though I don’t reject Kragar’s concern. Clinton’s long history with The Family makes me wonder if she thought she would have the chance to do Jesus’s work and bring about the End Times. Though maybe she’s just a hawk like Margaret Thatcher. Women are as susceptible to the love of war as men, after all.

    Re Clinton and the Family: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2007/09/hillarys-prayer-hillary-clintons-religion-and-politics

  51. Will – again you evade the argument: Sanders was not one of the two viable choices for President. Finis. End of story. The real world saw a choice between tweedleTrump or tweedleClinton. The result of that choice has and will continue to have real-world effects on actual living, breathing human beings. And everyone of those effects to my knowledge will be detrimental to the people you and I care about. Where is the greater good in not having voted for Clinton?

    Please – answer the damn question.

  52. Oneill, I really should stop answering you, and probably will. So I’ll try to part with something as simple as I can make it:

    Clinton lost because she was a status quo candidate in a year of change who ran an awful campaign. The first part of that is on the Democratic leadership. The second is on her. No matter how vigorously you argue that voters should’ve seen why she was the lesser evil, the fact remains that she lost. Since she was the person who called the shots in her campaign, the buck should stop with her.

  53. You know what’s really sad, I’m probably the only person commenting here that donated both time and money to the Sanders’ campaign. But that chapter ended when the primaries ended. Somehow the excuse to NOT vote Clinton is warped into Sanders shoud have been the candidate. So what? He wasn’t one of the two final choices. Ignore reality much? Not once have I laid blame for Clinton losing on anyone’s doorstep – yet that’s the “rebuttal” argument. It was the candidate’s, the party’s, someone else’s fault.

    Even though Sanders wasn’t the candidate didn’t mean the real world effects of the election results ended. No one here is apparently willing to admit that any thinking person should have been opposing Trump. Not one. Yes, that meant holding your nose and voting for Clinton. You don’t like it. Fine, then just admit you live in an ivory tower and are willing to ignore the greater good and the real world effects of elections – even those among candidates neither of whom makes your top 1000.

  54. Sometimes I’m accused of not being clear.

    I asked a simple question: “Where is the greater good in not having voted for Clinton?”

    Note the response – why Clinton lost. The question asked was not answered. Instead Will submitted his own question and answered THAT question. Now, some might call that evasive. Others might call it unwilling to engage in an actual conversation. Even others might say it’s what politicians do in those ‘debates’ – ignore the question being asked and just give a pat response that ihas nothing to do with the question asked.

    Me, I find it the typical response of someone that doesn’t have an answer to the question being asked. They just don’t want to admit it.

  55. Oneill, Clinton lost. She was a loser. She was defeated. Her tactics failed. Her policies did not resonate. The populace rejected her. Her goose was cooked. Argue anything you like. She failed.

  56. O’Neill, I hesitate to reply since I see no reason to think you will pay any attention, but OK, once more.

    You are making the argument from impotence. Like, if you were locked up in a jail cell and getting interrogated by a good cop and a bad cop, you’d tell the good cop what he wanted to hear, right? Because you have to placate one or the other of them….

    If we were slaves with one master, we would have to do whatever the master said, because he was the master.

    But if every four years we got to choose between two masters, we would of course choose the one who looked better. The one who says he’ll only work you from dawn to dusk, and let you have one meal a day is better than the one who says you’ll work whenever he thinks of something for you to do, and you get one meal every two days.

    Sure, the reality is that either the Democrat or the Republican is going to win, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Maybe they both cheat, and your vote makes no difference except that they both have to guess how *much* to cheat, and if too many people vote unpredictably it will throw off their guesses. I dunno. One or the other of them will win and it makes sense to pick the one that looks marginally better. Just like it makes sense to confess to the good cop.

    They both basicly admitted that they’d take away your money, but Clinton looked better on social issues. If you’re going to be poor either way, still you might as well have more rights for poor women and gays and trans etc. That’s an improvement.

    When both parties offer you shit sandwiches, you might as well try to choose the one that’s more nutritious.

    I’m just tired of it. There is some shit I will not eat.

    They give me their two choices. Homey don’t play that.

    I am not going to choose something awful from the rulers because the other choice they allow is even worse.

    If enough of us reject their false choices and choose again, they can’t stop us without airstrikes. And if they do bomb us into submission then we know where we stand.

    It’s true that the corrupt Democrats are the only alternative to the corrupt Republicans. I won’t choose them. I want them to fall apart. I want them to become a third party, and then disappear into the dust of history. They do not represent me.

    The bad cop will beat us some. OK. So be it. Presumably he will take away Obamacare. Obamacare wasn’t that great, and we will make something better. He will destroy the EPA. We will pass new laws and build a better EPA, and maybe a better way for citizens to sue polluters. Etc.

    If it was foreign oppressors who came in and gave us two bad choices would you shrug and say we had to pick the one that was marginally better? We would fight and lose, and they would hurt us, and eventually we would win. Or get genocided. Should we give up because the oppressors aren’t foreign?

    Sure, you’re right, we’re basicly powerless. Impotent. They tell us we have to choose one of their two choices, and if we don’t tell them we approve of one of their choices they will punish us. Lots of people give in and choose one. You can tell us we have to rub the Clinton on our skin in 2020 or else we get the Trump again, and I will not do it. We can’t get power unless we take it. They will punish us for taking it and we will take it anyway. You can’t stop us.

  57. Oh. Regarding what you now say is your simple question: I’m in a blue state. There was no greater good in me doing anything at all. My vote was irrelevant.

  58. Will, O’Neill has already responded to your point.

    You are in a blue state so your vote didn’t matter, true.:

    But you could have joined a phone bank and campaigned for Clinton in swing states.

    You could have donated, say, 5% of your income to Clinton so she could buy more internet trolls or use it however she thought would help her win.

    You could have gone online yourself and done your very best to persuade everybody who read your posts that they had to vote for Clinton because it was the only possible way to stop Trump and it was way more important to stop Trump than to stop Clinton. Tell them that Clinton was Trump’s enemy, and Trump was your enemy, and the enemy of your enemy has to be your friend.

    You have to admit if Clinton had won the world would be a much better place. The Russians would back down if Clinton showed she meant business, and we would win in Syria. ISIS, pushed bloodily out of Syria, could be rolled up right back to the Shia border and the Iraqi government could occupy the Sunnis indefinitely. With their last ally gone, Iran would be ready to squeeze until they popped.

    Meanwhile at home, Clinton promised to make thousands of miles of oil and gas pipelines. Many of our existing pipelines are old and leaky, they are accidents waiting to happen. New pipelines would bring in new jobs, it’s infrastructure! And if you look at the numbers, fracking is our only big growth industry, so if you want the economy to stay strong safe clean fracking is the only game in town.

    Clinton would preserve the civil rights that Trump is removing. She’d keep women from losing existing rights, or at least put up a good fight. She’d do nothing for detention without trial, habeas corpus, whistleblowing, or any of the others that Obama did nothing for, but Trump is no better.

    When you look at the differences between Clinton and Trump, wasn’t it worth 5% of your income and say 4 hours a day campaigning for Clinton and against Trump before the election?

    You want to say that your vote didn’t matter. But if you had campaigned for 4 hours a day it might have resulted in 30 extra votes for Clinton. That isn’t much, but if only one million others had done the same, that would be 30 million votes and Clinton would have won.

    You could have worked to keep Trump out of office, but you didn’t even try. You didn’t think Clinton was enough better to justify the effort. O’Neill knows that Clinton was infinitely better than Trump, and your bad judgement — multiplied across many people — was what caused our tragedy.

  59. Dwelling on what might have been is fairly useless. We don’t get to perform that experiment. We do need to see all the mistakes that were made. One of them is that Clinton wasn’t a very good candidate (proof: she lost to Trump-a truly ducky candidate).
    A revolution, not of guns but of thought and principles is needed to really change the future. Nobody maters much but all of us mater a great deal.

  60. Jonah, the crucial bit of your statement is “multiplied across many people”. Honest, I agree that if the Democrats had run Sanders or anyone who appealed to more people, they would’ve won. But I think what I learned in 2000 when Gore told the Black Caucus to shut up, sit down, and accept the verdict continues to apply: they prefer to lose with the status quo than risk a change that would not please their sponsors.

    Tangentially relevant: http://www.carlbeijer.com/2017/04/fascism-is-movement-of-middle-class.html

  61. Will it should be obvious that the same argument against swing states applies to blue states. You can still work for a candidate in another state through phone banks and or the internet.

    So, I’m in a blue state is irrelevant just as I’m in a swing state is irrelevant.

    Now, you’ve made this a *personal* issue (i.e., your vote didn’t matter) but just as obviously my question was posed in general. I will ask again, what good was served by those that didn’t vote for Clinton?

  62. oneillsinwisconsin–

    I looked on CNN, MSNBC, and Vox, and they all informed me there was no deep state! So it was all a silly misunderstanding.

    I’m With Her now.

  63. Will, you still aren’t getting O’Neill’s point. (Of course it’s possible I have misunderstood also.)

    You say the Democrats should have chosen somebody you liked, so you would campaign for them.

    But once the Democratic Party insiders have chosen somebody, it’s your responsibility to like them enough to campaign for them. If you don’t do that, you get a Republican elected.

    It doesn’t matter how bad the Democrat is when the Republican is worse. It’s your duty to do whatever it takes to get the lesser evil elected. If that means pretending that there’s nothing wrong with the Democrat when you try to persuade uncommitted voters to go ahead and vote Democrat, then you need to do that. If it means lying about the emails or whatever, then do that. Lying about their platform? Using bad logic? You do whatever it takes to get the Democrat elected, or else you get the Republican.

    It isn’t up to the Democrats to choose a candidate you like. All they need to do is get one that’s better than the Republican. After that you must campaign for the Democrat, because the other choice is worse. You want a good candidate, but that isn’t in the cards. You only get two choices and neither one of them will be good. Doesn’t matter. Campaign your little heart out for the one who isn’t as bad.

    We got Trump. It’s your fault. You thought Clinton wasn’t good enough to campaign for. But electing Clinton was the only way to stop Trump, and you didn’t do it. You thought the Democrats owed you a good candidate, so when they gave you the only chance to stop Trump you didn’t take it. It’s your duty to Vote Blue No Matter Who.

    They pretended to do primaries so you’d think you had a choice about who would get nominated. It was supposed to make you feel better about it all. But the result was you thought you had rights, you thought you had privileges, you decided they owed you something they didn’t deliver on. And so Trump won, because you were too proud to stop him.

  64. Oneill, no, it’s not personal. I’m hardly alone in being made powerless by the Electoral College. The two parties like it that way. I’m only pointing out that even by your own logic, it is silly to blame anyone in a blue or red state for the result. That ain’t how the system works.

    Sure, people could support people who don’t inspire them in other ways than voting for them. Sanders asked his voters to help Clinton, and most of them did. The ones who didn’t weren’t ever going to support her–they were the voters he peeled off from Trump and third-party candidates and the people who stay home when the status quo candidates are the only option.

    As for your repeated question, at a basic level I simply reject its assumptions. You want some nebulous value of “good” assigned to supporting the lesser evil who lost. Do you blame audiences when entertainers screw up? Do you blame diners when cooks screw up? The people who bear the responsibility for losing to Trump are the people who made the decisions that led to losing to Trump.

  65. Jonah, I think I get his point. He wants humans to behave as if they belonged to another species, and then when they don’t, he wants to blame them for being human.

  66. I think there is a misunderstanding about the motives of at least some of the voters who didn’t support Clinton (didn’t vote or voted for Trump). Now I voted for Clinton as voting for the lesser evil, quite literally.

    Are you people familiar with the Red/Black bargaining game? https://books.google.com/books?id=wWhaBQAAQBAJ&pg=PA23&lpg=PA23&dq=red+black+bargaining+game&source=bl&ots=_qxDUcN32z&sig=Z0WD6kkr_0rkrg1A-cT5hUVMwBw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjy2ozT9b7TAhVHTSYKHZq1AZEQ6AEIKjAB#v=onepage&q=red%20black%20bargaining%20game&f=false Page 22.

    The people not supporting Clinton were not thinking about Trump in any serious way. It was not a lesser evil thing for them. They rejected that argument. It was about sending a message to the Democratic party leadership. They felt Clinton and the DNC had been passing Red and asking the voter to pass Black. In other-words, the Democratic party was deliberately and repeatedly screwing those voters. The only way out of the Red-Black bind is to pass Red. In other-words, to hurt the other party despite it also hurting you. You keep passing Red until the other side actually passes Black. After which both sides can cooperate. Though they may not have analyzed things that way.

    Having Trump being such an astoundingly bad candidate only makes this more poignant.

    If the Dems put up Clinton or a Clinton surrogate, expect that candidate to not be supported either.

  67. I don’t know why I am contributing more to this circular argument, but here goes…

    O’Neill- “Since the French election is between LePen and Marcon the two candidates you mention are irrelevant.”

    Because France does not have a strict two party system like we have, neither of those candidates were irrelevant until the election was held. Any of the eleven could have won in the first round, or at least made it to the runoff. They are not completely irrelevant even now, because the two remaining candidates have to gather support from some of the citizens that voted for the other nine candidates in order to win. Accepting the inevitability of two party rule is a disease of this country, one that can never be cured while we all accept the logic of “the choice was tweedleTrump or tweedleClinton”.

    I admit, I think this was not the best year to push the issue. Trump is an existential threat, not just to the US, but quite possibly the whole world. The damage he could do, if unchecked, could take generations to fix, if fixable at all. But, once again, I think it serves no one to tell people who see Clinton as nearly as big a danger that they are wrong and Trump is on their heads.

    Maybe this is a better time to remind everyone that the President of the US is not meant to be an unassailable autocrat, and that everyone who did not vote for him now has a responsibility to oppose him by whatever means they can. As for people who did vote for him, I’d urge them to take a good hard look at what he has actually accomplished in the last 100 days, which seems to amount to nothing more than making his own family steadily richer and antagonizing the administration of every nation that he has bothered to recognize.

  68. “Where is the greater good in not having voted for Clinton?”

    I would submit that the greater good lies in the election of Trump drastically accelerating the timeline for a societal breaking point.

    While Clinton would have been an incremental turning up of the burner under the saucepan we find ourselves in… Trump has yanked things up to ‘Max,’ snapped off the dial, and chucked it over his shoulder.

    If we don’t all end up irradiated, this could well be the Last Straw to an electorate that would have otherwise sighed and accepted one more bite of the shit sandwich…

  69. The problem lies with always just examining the current election without any historical (past or future) context. That is, in a contextless scenario where the choice is purely between a Democrat and a Republican, the Democrat will always seem like the logical choice.

    A phrase I’ve seen widely repeated on the French left is “Macron 2017 = Le Pen 2022”. This puts the choice into much more context, and shows the problem with lesser evilism. The rise of the far right from the lunatic fringe to the mainstream isn’t something that just happened; it’s a direct consequence of the economic policies pursued over the last decades, particularly since the end of the Cold War. Supporting Macron isn’t avoiding a Le Pen victory, it’s guaranteeing one. The same was true of Clinton; her victory would guarantee the victory of Trump or another, equally or more extreme Republican down the line.

    Now, one might argue that it’s all about buying time for a movement to develop, but:
    1) We’ve seen what happens when people put their hopes into someone like Obama, only to have them crushed. What happens is Trump.
    2) The “lesser evil” argument will continue to be employed, and lending it credence it will disempower those seeking real change.

    It’s not just choosing between two evils. It’s that when regarded in historical context, this choice perpetuates itself. There is no end to how awful the Republican party can become, and so there is no end to how awful the Democrats can become, as long as they’re just slightly less awful than the Republicans.

    And – crucially – it’s getting worse. The policies of both parties cause immiseration, economic collapse, and global conflicts. Yes, the Republicans might be worse, but both parties are negative. So let’s say the Republicans do 10 damage per year and the Democrats only do 7. Do we take less damage from one group? Yes. So, again, if you look at the choice without context, it would appear rational to pick the one that damages you less. But once you put the choice into a timeline, and realize that the logic of the lesser evil perpetuates itself, you see that the overall trend is the same, and the world can only take so much.

    It then becomes reasonable to attempt to break the logic of lesser evilism itself by opposing the binary choice system. This could mean taking more damage in the short term, but may also open up a chance to stop the descent in the future.

  70. Jonas, I agree completely. The Democratic party has been playing the lesser evil game for quite a while. Even when we had a candidate like Obama, who campaigned on positive change – He sold out in general, acting instead like a moderate Republican.

  71. “It’s not just choosing between two evils. It’s that when regarded in historical context, this choice perpetuates itself.”

    Yes. But consider — we want to think we have a democracy, where we actually get to choose. But we don’t.

    So it’s natural to suppose that a few rich oligopolists are running things, behind the scenes, manipulating us to do what they want. But what if they are not really making choices themselves, but are only acting as they are required to by blind economic forces?

    Obama looked like he would make positive changes, and then he looked like he sold out. Maybe that was the system continuing as it had to.

    Trump said he wasn’t going to get aggressive in Syria, and now maybe he’s doing that. It might be just kayfabe, but maybe he’s had to sell out and let the system continue as it has to.

    Maybe the hypocrisy comes because people don’t want to admit that there is no real choice involved. They would rather look like evil masterminds than look like slaves.

    We interpret the various revolutions as the people waking up and grabbing power. But maybe what happens is that the blind economic (etc) forces occasionally propel the system directly into a wall which breaks it. And while the system is broken, people come out and dance around and pretend they’re making significant choices while a new system constructs itself and builds the momentum to stifle any choice that doesn’t fit its path.

    Maybe the difference between voting Democrat and voting Republican is not 7 damage versus 10. Maybe it’s 8.5 versus 8.6. Maybe it’s 8.5 versus 8.5.

    Alexander Hamilton came out and said that he wanted a system where the mob of peasants has no real say in government. He got his wish. It might not have been because of anything he chose, but just the inevitable path the system had to take.

    Maybe voting isn’t about changing the path the system takes. Maybe it’s about expressing yourself. When you vote Republican you are telling yourself that you are a practical person who cares about practical concerns more than abstract ethics, and things go better for you when business is good.

    When you vote Democrat you are telling yourself that you are a practical person who wants good things for everybody, within reason. We can try to do good, but we can’t change the world.

    When you vote Libertarian you are voting for liberty. It’s be-a-pirate day.

    “That’s what a ship is, you know. It’s not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails, that’s what a ship needs but what a ship is… what the Black Pearl really is… is freedom.”

    When you vote Green you are voting for responsibility. Do the right thing even if it isn’t practical and can’t work in the real world.

    Etc. It isn’t about making things happen. It’s about defining who you are. People who define themselves as different kinds of people tend to disapprove of each other.

  72. jethomas5–

    I like your take and voting as self definition. Great Pirates of the Caribean reference, too.

    The only thing I would alter is your reference to blind economic forces. The world economy is controlled by a small number of folks who are anything but blind; rather, they have set fiscal, monetary, trade and tax policies quite deliberately to accomplish exactly what those policies are, in fact, accomplishing: vast enrichment of a select few at the expense of the rest. HRC is their most faithful servant. Trump claimed to be against those forces and retains a bit of an independent streak yet, but surely those forces are confident of eventually bringing him entirely to heel.

  73. Kragar, or what Trump wants to do is within the bounds of acceptability by the very rich. He wouldn’t have gotten financial support if they’d been worried about him.

  74. Kragar- if you think Trump wants anything in the world more than to join the secret club of Best People, then you know little about human nature. He is exactly like Mike Pence with his terror of homosexuality. They disparage what they most want to protect themselves.

  75. “if you think Trump wants anything in the world more than to join the secret club of Best People, then you know little about human nature.”

    I could imagine that more than one way.

    If Trump thought he could BREAK the secret club, be better than them, he might very well prefer that.

    Of course, any rational realistic person would know that it’s impossible to win a game like that and wouldn’t try. We know that Trump is rational and realistic enough not to try, don’t we?

  76. One thing I find of interest here is that it is so easy to represent an election as Trump vs. Clinton, as if the Congressional election is irrelevant. The failure of the DLC (i.e the Clinton/Obama wing) is incredibly stark when you look at the history of control of the House. Only for ~2 terms between the start of the Great Depression and Bill Clinton’s election did Republicans control the house. Since 1996, Democrats have controlled the House for only 2, 2 year sessions. Systemically, the Clinton wing destroyed the Democratic party, and electing Obama (or Clinton) to the presidency had little real effect on the balance of power in government, which Clinton readily admitted, and used against Sanders in the primaries.

  77. MSER – you completely neglect two salient facts: 1) Many of those ‘Democrats’ were DINOs. 2) Gerrymandering.

    The Democratic Party was not (and is not) monolithic or homogenous. Each party has moved away from the center. There are very few DINOs or RINOs left in congress, but Democratic congressional candidates pull in far more votes than their share of seats. While Hillary Clinton won the presidential popular vote by more than 2.5 million, the House Democrats fell short of a majority with 48.9 percent of the major-party national congressional vote. However, the disparity remains, as the Democrats control 44.6 percent of the seats, a seat-to-vote disparity of 4.3 points.

  78. “1) Many of those ‘Democrats’ were DINOs.”

    Many current ‘Democrats’ are still DINOs. The party consensus is DINO.

    “2) Gerrymandering.”

    Sure, the Democrats punted on that. They did their share of gerrymandering of the states they controlled, but they didn’t want to spend money to control states and now their false economy is catching up with them.

    Here is a simple proposal to eliminate gerrymandering:

    In each House election, count the votes. As many candidates as want to, go to Congress and cast their votes. If you get 296,000 votes and another candidate got 248,000 votes, in Congress you get to cast 296,000 votes and he gets to cast 248,000 votes. Instead of you get one vote and he gets none.

    It doesn’t matter so much how you gerrymander if the other team gets all the votes they’re entitled to anyway, just split up different among their legislators.

  79. oneillsinwisconsin–

    Will you name for me anything you feel the Democratic Party at the national level has done wrong since WWII ended please?

  80. Gerrymandering is only a critical issue in our elections because there is so little meaningful difference between the two parties. If the Democrats were offering policies that were compellingly different from the Republicans, programs that actually were of more benefit to the workers than to the rich elite, then a 2-4% advantage in the polls wouldn’t be enough to defeat them.

  81. From the start of the Great Depression until 1994, Democrats consistently held the House (the most representative governmental body), most of the time with a 60% or greater majority, for all but 4 of the previous 64 years. Then, suddenly the DLC takes over the reigns of the Democratic party, and in the following 11 elections, they can only barely eke out a majority twice. This was a sudden, drastic change of power away from the Democratic party as a whole. Also thanks to the DLC and they candidates they raised money for, there are more DINOS now in Congress than there ever were before Clinton (at least on economic issues). And where is the evidence of a sudden, massive increase in the ability of the Republicans to Gerrymander that happened between 1992 and 1994? People really should have to try a little harder if they want to be Clinton apologists.

  82. MSER, I don’t think “DINO” is a useful term because it implies there’s one true type of Democrat, while the two-party system functions by creating coalitions–much of the reason Democrats have been losing influence is they’ve forgotten that since the neoliberals have taken over and done their best to neuter everyone to their left.

    Quibble aside, everyone who has any hope for the Dems should read your comment.

  83. Another way of looking at the total failure of DLC philosophy as far as the health of the Democratic party as a whole http://www.ncsl.org/research/about-state-legislatures/partisan-composition.aspx#Timelines

    They tout the importance of the presidential election, because that is all the Clintonites/Obamatypes have any ability to show as having any sort of electoral success while they were leading the Democratic party. As for the elected officials that have the greatest impact upon the day to day life of working people (i.e .local governments) they have been a massive failure.

  84. A quick summary: in 1992, 26 state legislatures were controlled by Democrats, 7 by Republicans. in 1994, 22 by Democrats, 15 by Republicans. By 2017, only 14 by Democrats and a whopping 32 by Republicans. Between 1978 and 1992, the largest number controlled by Republicans was 15, in 1980 the year Reagan was elected. Typically, it was ~ 10 or less.

  85. MSER: While I don’t disagree with the assertion that the DNC is really bad at strategy and policy, comparing the current map of control by Democrats to maps pre-1980 neglects the Southern problem. Essentially, Johnson pissed off a bunch of people who called themselves Democrats with the passing of the Civil rights act. It took about 16 years for the full effect of this to manifest, but we still see it.
    Essentially, we are still fighting Civil War problems. The Electoral college, and other such structural anti-democratic institutions are remnants of compromises between Slave and non-Slave states.
    The pushers of capitalism are all too happy to pit the masses against each other from racial divides. If the Democrats would go further left and work to abolish class issues to bring workers together rather than let them be separated by distinctions of the capitalists choice, I think many of these problems would finally be laid to rest.

  86. Steve, I confess to a contrarian streak, and I would never say racism has ended in the US, but “It took about 16 years for the full effect of this to manifest” suggests to me that other factors were at work, and the socialist in me notes that this time period is when the capitalists began winning the war on unions.

    And when talking about Nixon’s strategy in ’68, it should be remembered that mainstream Democrats were horribly tainted by LBJ’s expansion of the Vietnam War, and yet they ran Humphrey, being as unwilling to change course then as they were last year.

  87. Will:Yes, there are lot’s of things going on in these various periods. That’s the point on the difficulty of comparing now vs. then.

  88. Steve: the change in 1994 was sudden and dramatic, and coincided with the end of two years of so called Democrats working as hard as they could to implement right wing economic policies Reagan could only dream of getting through congress. The left was betrayed by the Democrats, the working class was ignored, the unions marginalized. The Republicans were appealing directly to the working class, and the switch by the DLC from focusing on the poor and working class economic issues to focusing on identity and race as a smokescreen to keep people from paying attention to how the DLC crowd was screwing the poor played right into the Republican forward thinking strategy of colluding with fundamentalist Christians who had taken over the AM airwaves and cable television and were now given the perfect scapegoats. 1994 was 26 years after the civil rights act. Despite what LBJ said after signing it, it is ludicrous to think that essentially nothing changed as far as the make-up of the Congress for that long of time, but suddenly, strangely coincident with the hard right economic turn of the Clinton administration, it “came to fruition”.

  89. Kragar – the list of Democratic Party missteps since WWII is pretty much known to any progressive. But of course you miss the point entirely. Surprise.

    We have (had) two practical alternatives. Is the list of Democratic Party missteps larger or smaller than the alternative?

    100 days of Trump should be enough to tell anyone with a brain we (progressives) would have preferred the alternative.

    Now, if you live in some fantasy world where the ideal candidate that 100% matches your views is a viable alternative then you may have a different answer. Good luck with that.

  90. There are too many instances of false equivalence here for me to cite them all. I must admit that I am constantly surprised that otherwise intelligent people really see no difference between the political parties.

    Health care, women’s rights, LGBT issues, environmental protection, tax policies, etc. etc, are everyday practical matters that affect all of us — yet most here seem to just ignore these issues and proclaim the Dems and Repubs the same. Weird world you live in.

    Jonah Thomas’ statements that “Many current ‘Democrats’ are still DINOs. The party consensus is DINO.” and “They did their share of gerrymandering of the states they controlled..” are just verifiably false. I suspect hes never looked at the percent of votes vs seats held in historical or present elections. And his DINO comment is just insane. You really need to mark your beliefs to market.

  91. O’Neill, you are re-covering old ground.

    We have already established that you believe there are only two alternatives, and that when we compare the awful present-day Democrats to the awful present-day Republicans, the Democrats are not as bad. Therefore we must campaign for the Democrats because of the two available choices, they are better.

    You have repeated this stand many times. It is entirely predictable. I could have written out the main points of your last couple of posts for you myself, without missing anything important.

    I haven’t noticed anybody here that agrees with you. The consensus appears to be that if the oligarchs say they are giving us two choices, and one is clearly better than the other, then in the short run it makes a kind of sense to take the better one so they won’t dump the worse one on us.

    But this is like good-cop/bad-cop. They’re both working against you. It might feel better to confess to the good cop who’s sympathetic than to the bad cop who beats you, but the end result is not that much better.

    So I think most of us agree that given a false choice like this, in the long run it is better to find a way out of the trap. Don’t just accept that we have to take one of the two bad choices, forever and ever.

    So build up a third party until it can win. Or when public disgust gets strong enough, stage a general strike and show the oligarchy they can’t rule us without our consent. Or stage an armed revolution, with at least half of the armed forces on our side. Or something.

    Because we don’t want to admit that we are slaves who have no other choice than the two fake choices we are offered by our masters.

    You don’t see it that way. So you tell us we have to vote Democrat because the other choice is worse. You have a right to that opinion. But could you please say something new every now and then?

  92. “100 days of Trump should be enough to tell anyone with a brain we (progressives) would have preferred the alternative.”

    Yes, and it should tell anyone with a brain that progressives were fools to run the candidate who polled worse against Trump. What we have now is what the Clintonites did everything in their power to achieve.

    Also, don’t insult Kragar just because you can’t answer him. It makes you look weak and petty.

  93. Bill Maher:

    ““This isn’t about reliving the last election or my great love for Clinton, which never was, but this is about winning the next election,” Maher said. “And that begins with learning the difference between an imperfect friend and a deadly enemy.”

    ““Just wait until the 5 to 4 decisions start rolling in, gutting unions, making it harder for minorities to vote, siding with polluters, overturning abortion rights,” he said. “Then maybe you’ll join me in saying to the liberal purists, go fuck yourselves with a locally grown organic cucumber.”

    Can’t answer him – WTF are you talking about? I could write a hundred pages on Democratic mistakes since WWII – and that wouldn’t even get us to the 1980s. JFChrist man, what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? The question is not and has never been have the Dems made mistakes, the question is are people better off with Republicans in charge – because that”s the only viable alternative we’ve had.

    And for that matter, why limit the time to ‘since WWII’? Should we forgive them all the mistakes prior to WWII? My native American blood rankles at that. There’s another 120 years of party misdeeds before WWII. All of which are/were irrelevant.

  94. Anyone who didn’t want a Republican in charge would’ve kept Clinton off the ticket. You can’t seem to grasp this very simple truth: You can’t make people support someone they don’t support, and the polls made it clear all year long that unlike Sanders, Clinton ran the risk of losing the Electoral College even if she won the popular vote.

    But if you want to blame the black women who came out for Obama and didn’t come out for Clinton, that’s fine.

    (Haven’t we already had this conversation several times? Really, Clinton lost because she was a losing candidate, and if the Democrats don’t figure that out, they’ll keep losing.)

  95. “They did their share of gerrymandering of the states they controlled..” are just verifiably false.”

    Look at Illinois, controlled by Democrats. Democrats usually get around 55% of the vote, and get around 2/3 of the congressional seats. (They’re at 15/9 this time, one down.) Look at the map if you don’t think it’s gerrymandered.


    On the other hand, New York looks pretty good after the 2013 redistricting. Democrats got about 2/3 of the votes and got exactly 2/3 of the congressmen. There are some odd districts, particularly 7, 8, and 10 but they were probably carved out for racial and ethnic reasons, and not to favor one party.

    California wasn’t bad this last time. They got 62% of the vote and 74% of the congressmen. It helped that the distribution of Democrats and Republicans in California is arranged so that there’s limited value in gerrymandering. Also, in 2002 they agreed to bipartisan gerrymandering to give all incumbents safe seats. Eventually the voters took away the right for politicians to do the districting, and that’s now done by an independent commission.


    Maryland. It can be argued that Maryland could be far more efficiently gerrymandered without looking so grotesque, but it can’t be argued that this isn’t Democratic gerrymandering.


    The Democrats have done their share of gerrymandering, particularly in the past when they had more states to do it with. The GOP has done far more than their share.

  96. Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears
    Secession and the Civil War
    Grover Cleveland and the Pullman strike
    Woodrow Wilson entering WWI
    Woodrow Wilson and the Palmer Act
    Roosevelt and Japanese internment camps
    LBJ and Vietnam
    Refusing to work with Nixon’s attempt at national healthcare
    Carter and Afghanistan
    Clinton and welfare to work
    Clinton and Glass-Steagall
    Obama failing to nationalize failed banks

    Do we need more? These are just the greatest hits I can think of off the top of my head.

  97. O’Neill, I replied to you about gerrymandering and it didn’t go through, probably because it had too many links.

    If you want bad examples of Democratic gerrymandering, look at Illinois and Maryland.

    California is better now because the voters got tired of the gerrymandering and chose to stop letting the politicians set the district boundaries. They still have some weird district shapes but since it’s Democrats in a thick band along the coast and Republicans in a thick band to the east, it mostly only matters along that border between them.

    Democrats don’t do as much gerrymandering as they used to, because they have lost so many state governments that they don’t have many left they can gerrymander. Now the GOP has most of those states and has been doing it with a vengeance.

    The Democrats have done their share, and the GOP is doing way more than their share.

    I repeat my suggested solution: Send the top three or four candidates to DC and let them all vote their shares. That way if you vote, you get represented by the guy you vote for, whether he gets the plurality of votes or not. Then gerrymandering doesn’t matter much.

  98. Oneill, you’re jumping all over the place in your desire to blame anyone other than the Clinton camp, so I’m unsubscribing from this post now.

    But I’ll leave answering what you asked: “the question is are people better off with Republicans in charge”

    Obviously, the Clinton camp thinks they’re better off with Republicans than with democratic socialists.

  99. Will, for the umpteenth time – I was a Sanders supporter. He wasn’t on the general election ballot. Quit fighting the primary. By your logic, obviously the non-Clinton camp thinks we’re better off with Trump than with Clinton. I assume you are a member of the non-Clinton camp.

    Jumping all over the place ? You asked for – or said I couldn’t answer Kragar’s question. When I do I’m “jumping all over the place”. Go figure.

  100. oneillsinwisconsin–

    Thanks. That’s a pretty nice list. In my view, everything on the list you gave are examples of (D) choices to serve imperialism and international finance at the expense of ordinary citizens. But it seems to me the DNC Clinton wing can be predicted reliably to serve those same interests going forward. That’s why I conclude there is no hope in the current Democrats. The election in Kansas to replace Pompeo is just the latest example. The Republicans had to break out the party superstars and spend tens of millions in the last weeks to eke out a win for their establishment republican over a Sanders inspired human rights attorney progressive candidate. The national Dems? Not a finger lifted, not a dollar donated, the guy was not even allowed the mailing list. Republican guy won 53 to 46 in a state where Trump won by 27 pts.

  101. Kragar – your analysis must be very convoluted to attribute the Palmer Acts, Japanese internment camps, or failure to deal with Nixon on national healthcare to imperialism or international finance.

    But again, it’s also the only viable party fighting FOR national healthcare, women’s rights, LGBT rights, etc., etc. The perfect is the enemy of the good. We live in this one instance of reality. False equivalence is still false.

  102. oneillsinwisconsin–

    There is one thing we can say for sure: the Democrats “good-cop/bad cop routine” and their use of divisive identity politics to conceal their Wall Street agenda has worked like a charm on you.

    Although the ACA may be marginally better than the AHCA in some respects, neither addresses the fundamental problem. Maximizing insurance company profits is not compatible with creating positive system wide health outcomes.

    The national Dems claim to be for women’s rights, but which women? Certainly not the poor women of the third world. Which LGBT folk? Not the ones beheaded in Saudi Arabia, a regime constantly coddled, propped up, apologized for, funded and supported by the foreign policy establishment.

  103. Kragar – The history of the Vietnam War is not one of American imperialism. Far from it. To follow the sorry trail one has to go all the way back to at least 1930 and the appeasement of Hitler which shaped the views of many foreign policy analysts thereafter. Combine that with the McCarthy era loss of almost every China/Asia foreign policy expert (the China Hands), the prevailing ‘Domino Theory’ and the mistake of not recognizing Ho Chi Minh as the leader of a nationalist movement all contributed to the fiasco.

    It’s easy to claim American imperialism in Vietnam, but not all uses of military force are imperialism. Hawaii, the Phillipines, Panama — these were classic cases of American imperialism. Vietnam was just a huge foreign policy blunder.

  104. Kragar – is the ACA a step forward from where we were before? Do women stand to lose rights under GOP control? LGBTs? Are environmental protections going to be lessened? You simply have to stick by your false equivalence, don’t you?

    P.S. – should we start a war with Saudi Arabia to impose Trump’s values there?

  105. O’Neill- you have told a number of Sander’s supporters here that they are fighting the last war, not the next war. You are absolutely right. We all need to stop fighting the last war and worry about the next one.

    If you really want the Democrats to come out on top in future elections, you need to start working very hard to purge the party of Clinton Democrats. As long as their cohort is on top, you will never appeal to any but the elite.

  106. oneillsinwisconsin–

    You are good at repeating the pretextual analysis of co-opted mainstream academia, but really bad at understanding why things really happened. The Vietnam conflict (a very shrewd misnomer, ommitting as it does U.S atrocities in Cambodia and Laos) ended, not because the bloodthirsty US war planners wised up from their strategic blunder, but because popular opposition to the war by the US population was so widespread and militant that the leaders worried that the army and marines might be needed domestically to suppress the growing peace movement.

    As for the ACA, I would say it is a step in the wrong direction because it puts a bandaid on a gushing wound. It may be a slightly bigger bandaid than the AHCA, but what is needed is neither, rather a single-payer system like they have in Canada. And the UK. And Germany. And France. And Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. And Luxembourg. And Portugal. And Belgium. And Holland…

  107. Will, I agree. Clinton and her enablers are doing what ever they can to work for Wall Street. Even though they may say they want to work for the voter, they think making Wall Street more profitable is the way to do it. They think passing the TPP will somehow help the workers (just the opposite). If they actually believe things like that, they are in a bubble where Wall Street supplies all the information. Time to find better candidates. We do not owe Clinton anything.

  108. “If you really want the Democrats to come out on top in future elections, you need to start working very hard to purge the party of Clinton Democrats.”

    But he can’t do that. They have the money and the media. The Democratic Party is a private club and they get to make the rules about who can purge who.

    Their problem is that they don’t want to purge O’Neill etc. They want him to stay in the party and obey them. They have to persuade him that he has no better choice than to accept their rule.

    “As long as their cohort is on top, you will never appeal to any but the elite.”

    O’Neill’s argument is that the Republicans are the only alternative and the Democrats are better.

    Part of Trump’s job is to persuade as many people as possible that the Republican alternative is so bad that we have to accept the Democrats. The Republicans who get media attention are trying hard to do that.

    The young men who grew up with him spoke to him, saying, “Thus you shall say to this people who spoke to you, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, now you make it lighter for us!’ But you shall speak to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins! Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.'”

  109. “The Vietnam conflict (a very shrewd misnomer, ommitting as it does U.S atrocities in Cambodia and Laos) ended, not because the bloodthirsty US war planners wised up from their strategic blunder, but because popular opposition to the war by the US population was so widespread”

    His point is that it was a blunder and not really imperialism. The USA was on a crusade to stop communism and allow the Free World to have a non-communist world economy controlled by the USA. (No, not controlled by the USA. We would have free markets that the USA would dominate because we were the best, and not because we were trying to dominate anybody. We weren’t trying to dominate anybody, we didn’t have to try to do that, in freedom we would rise naturally to the top because we were just plain superior.)

    The fact that the US government had to stop continuing the blunder before they were ready to, does not say that it was shrewd imperialism and not a blunder.

    Of course, it’s possible for it to be a blunder of attempted imperialism. But we didn’t think were were imperialists, and we were officially not trying to be imperialists. Intention counts for a whole lot, right?

    “As for the ACA, I would say it is a step in the wrong direction because it puts a bandaid on a gushing wound.”

    We keep misunderstanding O’Neill, over and over again. He is not arguing that ACA is good. He is arguing that it is better than the only alternative, which is whatever the GOP will inflict us with. We have only two choices — whatever the Democrats do to us versus whatever the GOP does to us. The Democrats are better than the Republicans. End of argument. End of story. Nothing more to be said. Any dream you may have about something better than the Democrats is just science fiction, there is no third choice.

    Practical politics says you accept whatever the Democrats do because the Republicans are worse. If you’re inevitably going to be ass-raped by either one, pick the one with the smaller penis.

  110. Jonah–

    Bend over, is it? Pretty much. That’s okay, oneillsinwisconsin says that is our best option.


    The U.S. would not have to go to war against Saudi Arabia to get them to change their ways. Just stop giving them diplomatic cover, billions per year in aid, and top-end weapon sales. But the Dems and Repubs alike both like what the Saudis are doing in Yemen and Syria. That’s why both major parties have to go, and capitalism, too, if there is to be any justice and peace in the world.

  111. Jonah writes: “The Democrats are better than the Republicans. End of argument. End of story. Nothing more to be said. Any dream you may have about something better than the Democrats is just science fiction, there is no third choice.”

    Not even close. It’s never the end of the story. There’s always the next election, the next candidate, and a new outcome. Involving yourself in the process is the only way to change things either by working within one of the existing parties or starting a new one.

    Standing on the sideline and critiquing the Dems and Repubs is a fun game, but it doesn’t change anything. Believing you*can’t* change the outcome is the stance that precludes any dream of something better.

    Ignoring reality and disregarding the real-world implications is what I see here. The attitude that Clinton lost – big deal. She wasn’t my candidate anyways. Well, she wasn’t my candidate either, but the real-world effects of that loss are enormous. The portrayal of the two parties as equivalent is false and ignores the many differences that – with the GOP in charge – adversely affect many of us.

  112. Kragar – No one is arguing that the ACA is the end-all-be-all of national health insurance.It’s better than what we had. Now, if you have a secret plan to get single-payer enacted why are you withholding it from us? Another simple case of “If I were King.” Practical realities kind of step in the way in a democracy. You actually have to get the votes for it.

    You did notice that the GOP won the Presidency and controls both houses of congress, didn’t you? They kind of ran on repealing the slight gains we made – not trying to move them forward. Oh, Iforget – there are no differences between the two parties.

  113. O’Neill:No one has said there are no differences between the two parties. There clearly are. The Republicans are definitely the bad cop. The Dems are the slightly better good cop.
    The question is how to change this scenario so we get more choices that fundamentally change the whole equation. How do we ask for an attorney and stop talking to cops.

  114. “Involving yourself in the process is the only way to change things either by working within one of the existing parties or starting a new one.”

    Good! After I took a close look at the Democrats, I threw them away and now I’m campaigning for the Green Party. If I see a better third party I’ll switch to it.

    “The attitude that Clinton lost – big deal. She wasn’t my candidate anyways. Well, she wasn’t my candidate either, but the real-world effects of that loss are enormous.”

    She wasn’t good enough to vote for. The Democrats are not a good enough party to support. It’s vaguely possible that maybe the Democrats can be reformed, but I don’t see it happening — more likely they would talk as if they were reformed but just hide their actions better. After all, the Democratic Party has been pretending to be somewhat liberal since the 1990’s.

    In a two-party system we cannot make much progress until one of the anti-progress parties is dead. I’ll welcome either or both of them dying, and at the moment the Democratic Party looks like the weaker of the two and the better candidate to dispose of.

    Voting for Clinton would have been bad. I hope the Democrats will run Clinton again in 2020, if they survive to 2020.

    They can use the campaign slogan, “It rubs the Clinton on its skin, or else it gets the Trump again.”

  115. Jonah–

    Brilliant Silence of the Lambs reference. That farcical slogan captures the concept perfectly. I was going to go with “two wings on the same bird of prey” (who wrote that originally?) but rubbing the Clinton on its skin is even better.


    You know the core concepts of the ACA were intially dreamed up by the Heritage Foundation in the 80s, right? And Mitt Romney enacted something similar when he was governor? I suspect that the Republican opposition to the ACA is political theater.

    As for having the votes to enact single payer, you are correct. The votes are not there currently. And as long as popular movements continue to be captured and neutered or dispersed by the current Democratic party, they never will be. The real enemy is the ruling class. If the popular masses rise up and demand change, the ruling class through their servants in congress could offer up single payer as a sop. Better from their perspective to make a concession rather than to see the whole edifice come crashing down.

  116. Jonah – “She wasn’t good enough to vote for.” And so we have Trump. Your belief system won. You own him.

    I’ve mentioned before that the Socialists were in charge in France and lost badly and that a consistent story should take Trump, Brexit, and the French elections into account. They’re all symptoms of the same disease (and obviously it’s not the candidates for election nor the political party in charge).

    What we’ve seen is the erosion of well paying middle class jobs – typically in the manufacturing sector. Government assistance to those displaced or simply no longer afforded the opportunity to earn a decent middle class income bear a resentment against the system and their anger often finds a home in the nativist, nationalist, populist harangues of the Trumps, Le Pens, et al in recent elections.

    ““[pollsters have found] A shockingly large percentage of these Obama-Trump voters said Democrats’ economic policies will favor the wealthy — twice the percentage that said the same about Trump.”

    In reality, across policies from health care to taxes, the Trump administration is working to enact a vast transfer — perhaps $5 trillion or more over a decade — from the poor and working class (and future poor and working class) to the wealthiest Americans. By contrast, Hillary Clinton in 2016 proposed a range of policies that pushed in the opposite direction, raising taxes on the wealthy to fund programs for the unwealthy.”

    While I was a Sanders supporter, the one area he was simply wrong on was his stance on trade deals – where he sounded little different than Trump No one has an answer to how we recreate those jobs. Globalisation, the economic rise of Asia – especially China – are not Djinn that can be put back in the bottle. If you believe in the greater good there’s no reason they *should* be put back in the bottle. The greatest reduction in human poverty in history has occurred in China as a result of their recent economic development.

    What we need is to remove the stigma from service sector jobs and raise the minimum wage not to $15/hr, but to $20 or $25/hr. That of course can only be paid for by increasing taxes on the wealthy. Unfortunately we live in a country where that is anathema to one political party. Many Democratic politicians might have to be dragged kicking and screaming to get there, but there’s hardly a GOP pol who’d go there before you cut off both arms and legs. And they make up >50% of our national representatives. Ignoring that reality is engaging in nothing more than college B.S. sessions.

  117. “No one has an answer to how we recreate those jobs.”


    “The greatest reduction in human poverty in history has occurred in China as a result of their recent economic development.”


    They created a lot of jobs. A lot of people could take those jobs and not have to be agricultural peasants. They didn’t pay them as much as we would have paid to do the same jobs, but it was a big improvement for their peasants.

    “What we need is to remove the stigma from service sector jobs and raise the minimum wage not to $15/hr, but to $20 or $25/hr.”

    Do you think it will help to make service-sector jobs the next big automation target?

    There are a lot of jobs in the health industry. They’re currently about 18% of GDP, around $9,990 per person. Maybe we could expand that until half the workforce is providing healthcare for the other half?

    A few months ago my wife wanted a novelty light bulb, an LED light that would change colors. It cost $20. I found that alibaba had a variety of them cheap, so I bought 2 at $2, 2 at $3, and 2 at $4.50. Two arrived in 3 days, two arrived in 13 days, and two arrived in 41 days. One pair of them didn’t do what we wanted, and the others were fine. They came from China, and the only US workers involved were the ones who put the packages from the container into the mail, and the mail workers. This sort of thing will increase.

    More on next rock.

  118. “What we need is to remove the stigma from service sector jobs and raise the minimum wage not to $15/hr, but to $20 or $25/hr.”

    Traditionally people believed in added value. Your job ought to produce something, or it’s wasted. A bunch of service workers who service each other amounts to everybody living off taking in each other’s washing.

    The rich don’t need that many service workers for themselves. Why should they live here and pay high taxes so we can pay a bunch of service workers to work for each other? Why not live in Monaco instead?

    The Chinese import oil and work hard and produce a lot of stuff that they sell to us cheap. They make a lot of pollution doing it. We give them stuff in return which is valued less. Why do they keep doing it?

    Some people say as long as they do it, we should take advantage. They give us valuable stuff. We give them IOUs that we can refuse to pay at any time. They give us stuff, and we give them pieces of paper. Milk it for all it’s worth. We win.

    Some of the same people say that China is dominating their neighbors and we have to stop them. We can intimidate them with our military. We have the only strong navy in the world, and we can threaten them with it whenever we want. We have many many more nukes than they do. We can dominate them and they can’t dominate us.

    I don’t think those two ideas are completely compatible.


    OK, the accounting does not work out. We need to do something different. As it is, China can devalue our dollar whenever they want to, and we can’t do anything about it. When the dollar isn’t worth much, we can’t import much oil. We would in fact become a net oil exporter, we would sell oil for hard currency. What would we do when we suddenly couldn’t import the things we need? Older people remember the oil shocks….

    Well, but the argument is that China would never devalue the dollar because their banking system is backed by dollars, and if they did anything like that it would be a giant shock to their own economy. Their banking would collapse, and when they couldn’t export to us their economy would collapse. The only thing that keeps them going is that they sell to us cheap, for dollars they don’t spend. There’s no way they could run their system except by giving us a lot of stuff for free.

    Does that sound like a plausible argument to you? Their leaders and their economists were trained as communists. Do they believe that they would collapse if they stopped selling stuff cheap to us?

    One alternative is to persuade them to devalue the dollar the right amount, so we can export more and they will export less. So far they have never agreed to devalue the dollar as much as we wanted them to (and not a catastrophic amount). Trump promised to negotiate in a special way and get them to agree with us. I doubt his ability.

    Another alternative is to raise our prices; maybe they will agree to pay more and balance our trade that way.

    A third alternative is to trade with them less. Set up tariffs etc to make their stuff more expensive here. They might do the same so we export less to them. The trade imbalance would then remain at a smaller scale, which is good. We might make more stuff for ourselves, which is good, we would be less dependent on their good will. We would be poorer because they would not give us as much stuff in exchange for debt.

    One problem with any solution is that they can already hurt us badly, and as soon as we balk about going farther into the trap, they might attack immediately. If they want to. We are not in control.

    Trump will probably make military threats. To do that, he really needs to be on good terms with Russia. It’s hard for him to threaten Russia and China at the same time. I can’t tell how well that’s going but it doesn’t look good.

    I never figured out what Clinton’s strategy was about China. She mostly didn’t want to talk about it. She wanted TPP to put pressure on China, but then she backed away from it. She talked vaguely like we had to do something, even more vague than Trump, but she didn’t actually say anything much.

    *I* say we have to get renewable energy as fast as we reasonably can, because it will make a giant difference when we become a net oil exporting nation. We have to produce the essential products we need for ourselves, because when our money is no good for international trade we will have to minimize exports. We are in a trap and we have to try to gnaw our way out of it. But Trump and Clinton both want to expand our dependence on oil.

    More on next rock.

  119. “What we need is to remove the stigma from service sector jobs and raise the minimum wage not to $15/hr, but to $20 or $25/hr. That of course can only be paid for by increasing taxes on the wealthy.”

    Split that between essential service sector jobs and frivolous service jobs.

    Essential jobs are things like medical care. Dental work. Things like that. You are not going to let a robot put tiny webcams in your mouth and drill on your teeth. You are not going to let an AI diagnose your medical complaints. You are not going to let AIs run airliners or be air-controllers or run nuclear power plants.

    When it’s *important*, we want the mistakes to be made by human beings and not machines.

    But when it isn’t important, then we’re fine with automating factories that just make things, and we get better reliability, better precision, better decisions on average, etc.

    So, essential service jobs.

    Frivolous service jobs are things like retail work. I know a woman who worked at Barnes & Noble. Part of the time she helped customers find things. They couldn’t remember the name of the book but they knew things about it, and she helped them find it. Usually a recent best-seller. Part of the time she rearranged the stock. Customers wanted the store to look different when they came in — if it looked basicly the same as last time they’d just walk out again. So every day they took down the displays they did yesterday and set up new displays. Same books, different displays. To delight the customers’ eyes.

    Increasingly the customers would come in, find what they wanted, and then order it from Amazon. On their phones. In front of the staff. Frivolous retail work, for people who come in to be delighted by the displays and then buy a book for instant gratification.

    It will not help to remove the stigma from frivolous service jobs and pay them $25/hour. There are not enough rich people to justify those jobs. They are going away.

    Republicans are set on keeping people from getting stuff they don’t deserve. Democrats are not so bad but they basicly don’t have a clue.

  120. Jonah:It’s actually quite likely that medical diagnosis will be first augmented and then largely replaced by AI’s. Essential vs frivolous is going to become an outdated concept. Capitalism demands that people have jobs to get money to pay for things. Or else they starve, die from disease or perish from some other lack of money. All of this enables a small percentage of people to live better than Emperors.

    There are a number of points at which those Capitalistic assumptions can be countered. Jobs, money, a special elite class.

  121. “It’s actually quite likely that medical diagnosis will be first augmented and then largely replaced by AI’s.”

    Actually, I agree. Once we get past the confidentiality issues, we can use Big Data to notice what has happened with similar symptoms before, and do better diagnoses. Also, we’ll have much more accurate prognoses.

    And when it’s clear which treatment has worked best on average, people who want “special” “better” treatment are putting themselves into an experimental group. They can believe their treatment is better, but the statistics will usually not be ready to support it yet.

    But that’s for later. Right now, there’s no substitute for the treatment that people believe in. They don’t want to think the MDs are doing something cheap just because it saves insurance companies money.

  122. For me, I’d prefer my primary diagnosis be made by an AI rather than a GP trying to squeeze in a patient every 5 minutes so that he can maximize his profits for the quarter.

    The solution is obvious. Disconnect survival from employment. UBI or Socialism, I’m not so attached to ideology that I’m not willing to try whatever works. There are enough people ready to work to fill the need for human employees. Let’s stop punishing those unable to hold down the soul crushing jobs they are being offered at Carl Jrs. Give everyone the means to pursue Life, Liberty, and Happiness as well and let’s see what they do with it. If there aren’t enough counter people to man all the Burger Kings, replace them with self serve kiosks or just close the damn places. Either is fine with me.

    But I forget! I don’t live in the real world of Two Party Choice, so I don’t get to make proposals, whether modest or not.

  123. UBI would also massively stimulate the economy because it would circulate so many dollars to people who will then spend them, as opposed to hoarding, off-shoring, or reinvesting as much of the world’s wealth is currently used. UBI would be a potent saving roll to keep capitalism afloat and keep the masses from marching on Washington. However, it seems the ruling class will only use something like that, or single-payer, as a last resort. The gamble will be that the status quo can be maintained by force and violence, and no concessions need be made.

  124. “UBI would also massively stimulate the economy”

    But the people who need the economy stimulated are people who need jobs. The less unemployment we have, the better negotiating positions workers have. The more they can get raises and bonuses and the more they get increased pay when they switch to a competitor.

    That’s good for workers, but who else is it good for?

    It’s better for the ecology if we conserve. Eat enough healthy food to live on but not so much it shortens our lifespans. Minimize travel. Minimize buying wood products, cotton products, meat, plastic, metal, and concrete. Also minimize buying healthcare products of all kinds.

    If the bulk of the population conserves well, then it’s easier for the wealthy to get what they want without much ecological damage.

    Also, to the extent that they are like gods to the normal people, it makes their interactions with pole dancers, massage therapists, and other personal servants easier. Women who have other ways to earn a decent lifestyle might sometimes tell them to go fuck themselves, if the economy is booming.

  125. Jonah–

    I agree with you. Keeping workers in wage slavery and debt peonage is a major mode of control employed currently. In places where UBI is being tried out, the rate of people who work or don’t work is the same or better.

    The ruling party would only do UBI if they believed it was that or mobs crashing through the gates of their cloistered communities and stringing them from trees.

  126. Jonah

    Re AI

    I should note upfront that my daughter is a doctor, 13 years into her training; she is a dual specialist in rheumatology and general internal medicine. I have no doubt that she’d adore an AI capable of doing the diagnosing; she’s a doctor, and her vocation is to serve her patients to the utmost of her abilities. If that involves using an AI then she’d do it.

    The problem with AIs in medicine is that they can’t function in a medical emergency; for example, part of my daughter’s job is the ability to stand at the end of a patient’s bed, look at said patient, examine them, make a diagnosis of what is killing them, and treat them long before any test results can get back from the lab. Which is just as well because the patient will die long before those test results get back, and doctors don’t like their patients dying.


    One of the truly terrifying things about Trump’s statement yesterday was his claim that every other country in the world was laughing at the US when the Paris Agreement was reached, and he was going to make sure that nobody ever laughed at the US again. This raving paranoiac is the guy with the nuclear codes which enable him to destroy human civilisation.

    I really wish that you and I were wrong when we pointed out that he was far more of a threat to humanity than Hillary Clinton. Unfortunately we were right, and that sucks…

  127. “The problem with AIs in medicine is that they can’t function in a medical emergency; for example, part of my daughter’s job is the ability to stand at the end of a patient’s bed, look at said patient, examine them, make a diagnosis of what is killing them, and treat them long before any test results can get back from the lab.”

    When seconds are vitally important, then it’s important for an MD or an EMT to do the right thing before he can read what the right thing is off a screen.

    We might be able to build robots that could do the right thing quicker than a human, or maybe not. I expect it would take a long time for them to learn what to do. But then, it’s taking your daughter 13 years so far, and when she dies how much of her learning will go with her?

    As the automation gets cheaper, increasingly we will find we can’t afford to put extremely-expensive human beings in the loop. Humans are expensive, inflexible, and rarely get better than 99% efficiency even when they do repetitive work. When we get a cheaper alternative that statistically saves more lives, human MDs will be limited to rich people who don’t believe in statistics.

    I have no idea how long that will take. Sometimes things go a lot faster than I expect, and other times much slower.

    I bought my first programmable computer in 1984. It had 1K of memory, with a removable 16K addition. It ran 5 times faster if I programmed it not to display anything on the screen until it was finished; normally it used 80% of its computing time to draw an image. I had no concept that an internet of things would happen in my lifetime.

    When I took a Fortran course, they explained that computers cost so much more than people that programmers were valuable. The computer sat in an air-conditioned room, and the human programmers sat in another room that got some air-conditioning leaked to them when the computer operators opened doors. The computer time was billed at I think $600/ hour, so a human who could make a program run twice as fast for $30 was worth it if the program would be run for more than 3 minutes in its lifetime.

    But the computers kept getting cheaper, to the point that the programmer who can get something to work for $30 by quick-cobbling together a bunch of big inefficient components while hardly touching them, is the valuable one. Make it efficient if it will run for a year on many many computers.

    The needs are changing so fast now. If it takes you three years to learn how to do a job, will that job still exist in 3 years? Yes, if no one can find a better way to get it done and it still needs doing. MDs ought to do pretty well because nobody wants to trust a bunch of programming cobbled together by the lowest bidder. If they get the choice. Lawyers ought to do OK, because how can an AI guess which lie will be most emotionally satisfying to the human beings who must decide?

    In general voodoo experts should be OK until AIs learn how to fool people into trusting them about things nobody actually knows.

    But I’m just guessing. I’ve been wrong before. Very wrong.

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