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Bad Moon Rising

I unzip my tent enough to stick my hand out and feel around for my boots. I shove my feet through and unzip the tent some more to slide my whole body out, then zip it back up before mosquitoes get in. I stretch my headlamp around my neck and leave it off. An amorphous blotch of stars covers the sky. I can see my breath. I pause to consider my physical reality: I’m a man wearing long underwear, a longsleeve shirt and hiking boots, standing on the shore of a pond deep in the Minnesota north woods. I haven’t seen my face in a week; I last bathed three days ago, in the river. Or was it four? My muscles are taut, strong. I’m walking ten miles a day, sawing and chopping wood for fire. My mind is clear. I meditate during my daytime walks, read and write at night. Everything’s in sync; if the mosquitoes are biting me, I can no longer feel them.

November 8, 2016, 4pm. My boss swings by my desk. She’s smiling, putting her coat on, talking of champagne with neighbors. She leaves, I check Facebook. Lots of selfies. One from Liv- white pantsuit, red ‘I voted’ sticker, red lipstick to match. It’s all planned. I close it. I flash back to 2004, downtown Hilton, DNC headquarters. A young democrat plays a hopeful melody on the lobby piano while we all get drunk in the ballroom bracing for victory, which never comes.

I take two steps away from my tent straight into a branch – it scrapes my forehead. There’ll be a gash there. I walk the other way and find the opposing tree line. That’s far enough. I can tell as it leaves me I’m well-hydrated. As I’m shaking out, I hear a rustling in the woods. Bigger than a chipmunk. It rustles again, closer. Is it actually big, or is my mind amplifying? A third sound, no, it’s real, bigger than a rodent. A bear? A deer? I pause and wait for another sound. Nothing. I kick at the brush to instigate – it moves again. I start clapping, loud and fast. It rustles away into the woods. I walk back to my tent. My eyes have adjusted now. I can make out details – the beaver dam across the pond, the dim moon’s reflection on the water, the horizon of trees against the black sky. The air is cold and still. I clap a few more times, say aloud “fuck off, bear,” stare at the water. I think of life back home – what it was about, what I was working on – but I can’t place it. I’ve shed the rhythms of civilization. There’s no ambition here except to survive and, occasionally, to experience pleasant moments. Accordingly, there’s no great mission to contextualize my existence. I’m just here, for no reason, alone, in the cold night, like the animals.

5pm, I leave the office, thinking of my Brexit night tweet – a link to CCR’s Bad Moon Rising. Proud of that one. Nobody cared. No favorites, no retweets. What’s the point if nobody’s listening? I drive home, spinning a cycle of self-pity – they’ll congratulate me when this is over, care about my opinion next time. Traffic is stopped. I check Twitter on my phone. Why am I doing this? My gut hurts. I don’t like this world or the way I am in it, and I know what’s coming. Bad moon rising.

The woods stretch for miles behind me; in it are black bears and deer and toads and moose and mice and— A wolf howls from across the water. Or is that an echo? Did it howl from my side of the pond, its direct path obstructed by woods? I’ve never seen a wolf out here, but I picture one each time I pass a deer skull or feather pile on the trail. And I can feel one now, creeping up behind me. I turn and look and it’s standing next to my tent, its golden-green eyes lighting the inner contours of its face. It stares me down; I’m frozen. A wave of certainty floods my chest – that I can’t clap it away. Is this what knowing god feels like? I stare back at his eyes, and feel the ground start to crack beneath me. I’m not scared. It’s all quiet. My body knows: the next thing to happen is the earth is going to swallow me while the wolf watches.

9pm, a few states go blue early, but the margins are too small – we’re fucked. 10pm, it’s over. Midnight, a dark, despotic cartoon figure speaks and I can feel it slipping away from me, from us. The earth moves below. I don’t want to tweet about it. I can feel the wolf’s eyes on me, waiting.

November 9th, 4pm. My boss swings by my desk. She admits she was naive. I tell her I wasn’t shocked – I’ve been listening to conservative talk radio, plus Brexit, and Berlusconi, and – it was in the wind. She leaves and I try working but can’t focus, assaulted by thoughts of democracy and our constitution and the founders and how we were closer to perfect than ever before and I can feel it slipping. I can feel it, I can feel it… I bring up “Lightning Crashes” on YouTube to see if it explains anything – “I can feel it, coming back again, like a rolling thunder chasing the wind.” It doesn’t. I read all the takes – the polls, the bubble, Germany 1930s. Theories, forecasts, next steps. How the sun comes up. How the world keeps spinning. I meditate, eyes open, between my physical and abstract realities – my purpose at work, the walls of my house, the safety of my relationships, my online bank statement. Centralized heat, the constitution. My ergonomic chair, democracy. It all could slip at any time. Was it always slipping? I turn back toward the pond, eyes open, looking, listening. I start to clap, fast and loud, the eyes of the wolf upon me.


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Michael Forstein is a filmmaker, writes essays from time to time, and frequently canoes and hikes in northern Minnesota. He is on Twitter and Instagram.

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146 thoughts on “Bad Moon Rising

  1. This piece pretty much sums up how I feel–a foreboding darkness creeping in combined with flashes of anger bordering on rage. As I watch The Trump and his GOP minions start to rip apart everything from the New Deal on down in some kind of Ayn Rand fever dream of a world made better for billionaires, I wonder whether this country will even exist in twenty years or whether The Trump will have blown it into fragments.

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    • Michelle,
      America will still exist. Starving, but still exist. There will be camps, but it’ll still be here.
      It’s india that won’t.

      It’s simply amazing how blind people can be. Politics won’t kill Civilization. Civilization is eating itself alive right now, and folks like you haven’t got the guts to notice.

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  2. I volunteered to be a poll watcher in Nevada for the Democratic Party and saw the victory party quickly become a wake.

    Yet all these posts make Trump look like he won the Mandate of Heaven. He did not. Trump’s victory is the product of an anachronistic electoral college and razor thin margins in three states. I think this needs to be hammered constantly. The majority of Americans rejected Trump.

    As for his actual admin, at best we can hope for something that makes Harding’s admin look like a paragon of virtue. At worse we are going to see huge geopolitical collapse and serious fractures in the commonwealth.

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    • He won using the established rules. I think we should let that go, and seek to do better with the existing structure. I support EC reform, but that’s pie in the sky compared to what’s in front of us.

      One of the things in front of us: He will be taking office with an approval rating of 37 percent. That’s what the reality is now. We can knock that down by another 10 points, but probably not more than that because of the “crazification factor”. But I’ll take 70 percent disapproval. He’s not getting much of anywhere like that. Schumer has taken up the right attitude about “repeal and delay” which is “Go ahead, make my day!”

      The Tea Party is nihilistic enough that they might try to burn down as much as they can. That will suck, but it will also present an opportunity: to look good in comparison, and, once we have gathered strong majorities in the wake of such alienating pessimism, to remake things without some of the baggage.

      Again, this is what has happened already in California. We went through the immigrant hate, and the budget brinksmanship in the Pete Wilson days. The voters got tired of it.

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      • I think a Trump-based dystopia is different than a GOP-based one. A dysTrumpia will involve the collapse of the global economic order, a dangerously heightened military tensions and projections of power potentially leading to war, a radical (and disastrous) shift in geopolitical alignments between nation-states. A dysGOPia entails none of those things and instead involves domestic stuff like gutting social programs, a weakening civil rights protections, tax cuts, massive deficit spending … you know, the regular ole GOP song and dance.

        But I think the odds are against the GOP doing any of those things in anything approaching a dystpoian way (well, tax cuts and massive deficit spending will happen as sure as the sun rises). Ergo!, from an odds perspective, the real worry is Trump-as-CinC and Trump-as-CEO-of-the-Executive Branch. He can, and I think will (already has, in fact) do real damage to both short and long term US international interests which will negatively effect quality of life in the US. Personally, I think it only gets worse from here, and that will be the case even if Congress were to present any substantive check on his policies.

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        • Stillwater: A dysGOPia entails none of those things

          When George Bush Jr was president, we had dangerously heightened military tensions and projections of power that *led* to war, and were on the brink of a collapse of the global economic order. (the only thing he didn’t do was shift geopolitical alignments – the enemies before 2000 were the enemies after 2000. The friends weren’t so friendly anymore though.)

          (But now those friends are whining that we might not be their friends anymore, so there’s no winning with some people. And speaking of disastrous shifts in geopolitical alignments between nation-states….)

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          • Let me rephrase: A dysTrumpia will involve hightened military tensions and projections of power which could lead to a world war. Bush invaded a country.

            On the other hand, if Trump decides to invade Iran, and does so with the Congressional GOP’s blessing (and a few Dem defectors, no doubt), then I’ll sadly concede my hypothesis was wrong. But I don’t see that happening. Especially given Iran’s connection to Russia.

            Adding: But maybe I’m looking in the wrong direction for a future invasion given Trump’s antagonistic relationship with Germany…

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        • The thing is, , many Republicans don’t want the dysTrumpia any more than you or I do. It’s pretty easy to see this in the Senate, it’s harder to notice in the House, which at the moment is engaged in stroking Trump in order to get Ryan’s agenda passed and signed.

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      • No, no, by all means keep complaining about Russian hacking, gerrymandering and the EC instead of the real problem, Hillary Clinton. Boycott the inauguration and tell everyone that he is illegitimate.

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        • If you don’t think the Russian interference in our election is a problem, I think you’ve abandoned all reason for the sake of your partisanship. During the Watergate era, people went to jail, and Nixon resigned for attempting something similar.

          This doesn’t delegitimize Trump, the 37 percent approval rating does. The problem is that our ability to resist this interference is sorely lacking.

          My frustration with you, is that you love to throw rocks, but you avoid ever committing yourself to any idea or principle or desire. For instance, I’ve seen you throw rocks at liberals many times, but I’ve never seen you express positive support for anything at all. There’s a bunch of other conservatives here who actually have positions, stuff they care about, and will articulate support for. But not you, as your handle claims.

          Can you possibly be that nihilistic?

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        • No, no, by all means keep complaining about Russian hacking, gerrymandering and the EC instead of the real problem, Hillary Clinton.

          Russian interference in the election IS a real problem. So is gerrymandering. Personally, I don’t have a problem with the EC but opinions differ on that. All those complaints have some legitimacy recognizable even by a non-partisan. And that remains the case even if in the final analysis the “real problem” Dems should be focusing on was HRC and her stunning unfavorables.

          Personally, I don’t think that woulda mattered to the extent it did if she wasn’t running against a candidate who ran a campaign based almost entirely on reducing other candidates to their unfavorables, either as people or as partisans (literally, a race to the bottom). But she wasn’t. (She also ran a disastrously misguided campaign – which is easy to say in hindsight, I suppose.)

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        • It’s not that The Trump’s victory, razor-thin as it was, wasn’t legitimate in terms of our voting system. But it wasn’t a mandate by any means. He lost the popular vote by a significant margin and a lot of voters decided to sit this one out.

          Plus, he was the one screaming “the vote is rigged” weeks before the actual election in an attempt to delegitimize what seemed to be a likely Clinton victory and soothe his massive narcissistic ego should he lose. The Trump can never fail; he can only be screwed over by enemies.

          As for boycotting the inauguration, attendance isn’t required, especially if you think the person about to assume the office isn’t up to the game and will endanger the very institutions he’ll be swearing to protect. My TV will be on HGTV all day long; I’ll be avoiding social media; and, I’ll be participating in a women’s march on the 21st. The Trump is an abomination. I’m surely not going to do anything to up one of the few things that fuck actually cares about–his ratings.

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          • But it wasn’t a mandate by any means.

            Who is claiming that it was a mandate? I’m not.

            He lost the popular vote by a significant margin and a lot of voters decided to sit this one out.

            So what, we don’t elect the president via popular vote. Who’s fault is it that a lot of voters didn’t show up, Trump’s or Hillary’s? Maybe if Hillary had been a better candidate she could have gotten more votes in the states that mattered.

            As for boycotting the inauguration, attendance isn’t required…

            True, it isn’t but I have a hard time believing that if the roles were reversed, that liberals wouldn’t howl if a Repub congressman went on TV and said that Hillary wasn’t legitimate and that they would boycott the ceremony.

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            • For what it’s worth, I think it’s unacceptable for any member of Congress to call the President illegitimate or to skip the inauguration. If you’re an entertainer who doesn’t want to perform, that’s fine. But if you’re a member Congress, you have a duty to maintain some dignity for our system. Suck it up and show some respect to the process and the voters who voted for him.

              Escalating the already out of control petty behavior in our government surely isn’t doing whatever issue they’re upset about anyway. If we go much further, people are going to start thinking that sitting Senators putting glue on the President’s toilet seat are striking a blow for democracy instead of just acting like assholes. “I didn’t get any policy changes, but I did egg Air Force One!”

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              • For most of our history, fidelity to the norms was synonymous with respect for the system. The opposing party could be counted on to share a common faith and loyalty to the nation.

                I think we are in a different time, when respect for the institution demands complete and utter rejection of this Administration.

                I don’t see Trump as legitimately representing the people of this nation.

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                • I think that if you’re upset at the result the system produced, there are couple of possibilities:

                  1) You don’t think the system is working correctly and it’s producing results that don’t reflect the American public’s preferences. Say, the Electoral College sucks. Fine. But in that case, it seems like saying so and working to change it is the way to do it. Pretending it’s not our system or that the results aren’t legitimate isn’t.

                  2) You have no problem with the system, but you’re mad about the result it produced. OK, but I’m not sure what to do about that. If we agree that’s the system and that it’s OK, those are the results. I don’t see how throwing a tantrum over it helps anything.

                  With respect to 2, I’m totally on board with the idea that a lot of Tump’s policies and appointees may need to be opposed really aggressively. But what seems to be going on here is that we’re opposing the man rather than his actions. If people throw peanuts at him no matter what he’s doing, the whole exercise becomes meaningless. It’s exactly why I didn’t take a lot of Obama critics seriously. The only predictor of whether they were mad about a policy was whether their guy was in the White House.

                  If some actions are bad, some actions have to be acceptable in order for the concept of “bad actions” to have any meaning. It seems like being sworn in is one of those actions we can probably let slide and save our outrage for something that actually is worth making a stink about.

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                • If you are going to have any sort of meaningful conversation about whether Trump is “legitimate” or not, we should probably settle on a definition of what it means for an elected official to be legitimate or illegitimate. Otherwise, calling someone not legitimate just becomes an exercise in signalling that you really really don’t like that person.

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                  • Crowds of protesters are great, but they’re really only worthwhile if they want something that is clear and achievable.

                    If your complaint is, “President Trump must not back out of this treaty I like!” then flooding the streets may be the right answer.

                    If your complaint is, “I wish somebody else were POTUS!” then you might as well keep that one to yourself and save your energy agitating for something you can actually get.

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                  • we should probably settle on a definition of what it means for an elected official to be legitimate or illegitimate.

                    Good observation.
                    So what do I mean when I say that Trump is “not legitimate”?

                    Well, I see it legitimacy as conferring upon someone a status of being within the norms and boundaries of our civil society.

                    It means they are considered normal, a regular part of the process and that they conform to our expectations of behavior.
                    So like, Bush and Cheney were awful, but they stayed within boundaries (barely) of behavior expected of our Presidents.

                    So to signal and confer legitimacy on them, we reciprocated by observing the norms of behavior in kind; that is, member of the opposition party stood when the President entered, attended the State of the Union, and observed all the courtesies that have become part of our political tradition. We didn’t, for example, shout out during the State of the Union “You Lie!” or anything like that.

                    With Trump?
                    I don’t think any of those norms need to be followed.
                    He has so flagrantly violated and scorned every norm of behavior and every tradition of our political tradition, that he isn’t entitled to any of the courtesies or respect regularly accorded the President.

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                    • Trump knows what America is. America is the Mob. Conjure magic for them and they’ll be distracted. Take away their freedom and still they’ll roar. The beating heart of America is not the marble of the senate, it’s the cable channels. He’ll bring them entertainment – and they will love him for it.

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                      • I know this attitude is almost as popular on the left as the right, but its objectionable all the same.

                        Its intended to sneer at some nameless, faceless Everyman but really, I take it personally. Its an example of the adage that conservatives love America, but hate the people who live there.

                        Its in the same camp as the “voter as consumer” attitude, where the speaker is floating detached and above the ugly mess of politics.

                        Its in the same camp as Jason Brennan’s “Only people like me and my college frat buddies should be allowed to vote” stuff.

                        Sorry if this comes across as being rather sharp, but I can’t respect this posture; its a meanspirited sort of thing that leads to an ugly place.

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                        • “Its intended to sneer at some nameless, faceless Everyman”. No, it’s not or I don’t intend it to mean that. Politics is a knife fight, where your fighting so your side winds (the spoils, the power, the better way to run the country). There is no reward for second. Frankly, I hate it. I’m annoyed that people of all stripes think they have the right to tell me how I can live my life because of God, or because it’s good for me or because “the poor” need my help. Sadly, as fucked up as the situation is, it’s still not that bad.

                          “I take it personally” You shouldn’t. I’m condemning the system and how our society has “evolved” politically. I don’t dislike people, or even groups, it’s just that when people get into groups, they get stupid and evil. Feel free to disagree with me, I rarely intentionally insult individuals.

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                    • Chip Daniels,

                      Too fuzzy and subjective. Political legitimacy is and always has been a matter of process. Consider the line of succession to a throne and how “illegitimate” is a synonym to “bastard” when speaking of children.

                      The process that confers legitimacy in a democracy is an election. So unless it can be shown that he didn’t actually win the election according to the established rules, including the E.C., or he is constitutionally ineligible (e.g., not a natural born citizen) Donald Trump will indeed be the legitimate POTUS.

                      I don’t like it any more than you do but it is what it is.

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                • LOL

                  The system worked as intended. Trump is the legit pres elect. You can disagree with his methods, his policies, his choices in administration, the campaign process, but not the system, unless you’re going to point out how this election differed from all the other elections in our past in terms of the mechanics.

                  Frankly, if some congresscriter chooses not to attend the inauguration, I’m cool with that. I’m not aware that attending is part of your assigned duties. If he feels so strongly, he should be out with the protesters.

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                  • As intended? The electoral college was designed precisely to keep people like Trump from being elected. Of course that’s because the electors were supposed to exercise independent judgement, rather than rubber stamp the will of the people.

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                    • It’s working as intended to prevent the heavily populated areas from controlling the election via a popular vote. The quality of the candidates thrown up for consideration is a problem that’s all the political parties fault.

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                      • I would phrase it as slave v. free states, but that was certainly part of why the electoral college was chosen. But the reason to have actual live people as electors, as opposed to just tabulating based on states won, is, as Hamilton said, “that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station.”

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                        • Ugh, can we stop this ‘electoral college was an instrument of slave power’? It’s not, other than an error carried forward from the other devil’s bargains from slavery in the kludge to get an executive that was empowered enough to do stuff but not so strong as to have a viably consistent power base.

                          Eta but yes, electoral college One Job was to stop a President Trump and any like him, and it completely failed in that One Job, and thus should be scrapped.

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            • True, it isn’t but I have a hard time believing that if the roles were reversed, that liberals wouldn’t howl if a Repub congressman went on TV and said that Hillary wasn’t legitimate and that they would boycott the ceremony.

              Oh please. Republican Congress critters were poised and ready to start endless investigations into Clinton’s affairs had she won. Trump maligned her as a crook and said she should never have been allowed to run (and is still saying it despite her loss). He’s also stated that the only reason she won the popular vote was because of massive voter fraud–all those millions of illegal voters (oh my!). And then, of course, Trump said over and over and over again that the only reason he might lose was because the election was rigged.

              The attacks on Clinton’s legitimacy began long before the election was over.

              So, one Democratic Congressman suggests Trump isn’t legitimate and the rightwing gets apoplectic? Spare me the crocodile tears.

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              • And again, the problems with Trump’s legitimacy have an actual basis in fact. Trump did lose the popular vote by millions, the DNC was hacked by Russia, and Comey did write his letter in order to head off politicized elements of the FBI. The claims about voter fraud and Clinton’s lawbreaking? Not so much.

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          • Given the differences in priorities between the two major parties, it seems inevitable that the contemporary definition of mandate is “We control all of the House, the Senate, and the Oval Office.” Just since 2000, the Republicans achieved the goal and made dramatic changes in tax and foreign policies. The Democrats achieved the goal and made the largest change in the social safety net in almost 50 years. Now the Republicans have achieved the goal again, and have announced they’ll be making huge changes.

            I’ve asked the question before, “How does the parliamentary system in the UK avoid vast policy reversals when a different party gains control?” My interpretation of the answers that I got was that Parliament still believes collectively there are some things that are simply not done. We seem to have moved past that here, into positive feedback territory, where the party with the “mandate” is not only determined to pass their stuff, but to tear down stuff the other party did.

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            • My interpretation of the answers that I got was that Parliament still believes collectively there are some things that are simply not done.

              That’s definitely true, but political incentives matter too. Voters don’t like having their whole legal structure radically changing from year to year, and that makes governments reluctant to undo too much of what previous governments have done.

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              • It’s an unwritten advantage of unwritten constitutions that precedents becomes requirements

                Hence you cannot say “well, the Constitution does not require the President to release his tax returns or to do X, Y or Z”. If presidents did it before you, you are required to do it now.

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      • I concur. Trump is historically unpopular. I think everyone must know this. The issue is that the GOP are responding to this not like normal politicians concerned with the next election but like theologians whose positions are certain and unshakeable. I suspect that the GOP house would rather burn the welfare state to the ground above anything else and jam pack the Judiciary with judges who will make it hard for the Democrats to reverse any damage.

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        • Kevin Drum asked this weekend why the GOP hates the ACA so much, as it’s a very GOP-friendly (ie: Their own solution with some of the serial numbers filed off) solution to a big problem, one that includes a large chunk of the GOP’s own voting base.

          Charles Pierce said something like “It’s driven more by pure spite than I could ever have imagined”.

          Which, to date, seems the only explanation for “Repeal and replace some time maybe with a plan we’ve spent 8 years not coming up with”.

          Because electorally, it’s gonna punch them in the nuts. Which they know, as “Once this is in place, repealing it without a better solution will kill us at the polls” was the GOP party line in 2009.

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            • The GOP in 2009 was right. Taking something away is entirely different from not giving it to them in the first place.

              I think that’s the nut. Too many people who are going to lose insurance in favor of….nothing. Who are going to get screwed nice and hard. 20 million of them. 10 if they keep the expansion.

              All of them with friends and family, putting a face to the problem.

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              • morat20,
                Obamacare fucked up an industry that is 10% of America’s GDP. Now the industry wants the GOP to fix it. Lotta money floating around, and I really don’t think politicians are all that principled.

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          • morat20,
            They repeal Obamacare and replace it with Trumpcare, which is Obamacare properly funded.

            *shrug* life goes on.

            Insurance Companies are in a world of unnecessary pain right now.

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              • Don,
                I mean giving the insurance companies some money so that they can figure out how to price the individual insurance market without going broke in the process.
                You can think of it as seed-money if you really want.

                This was in the original plans and got nixed by the Republicans early on.

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            • They repeal Obamacare and replace it with Trumpcare, which is Obamacare properly funded.

              HAHAHAHAHA.

              I have been, for the last week or two, thinking of starting a blog. But I wanted to make sure I had a bunch of different posts to start off with. One of the posts I was thinking of was *literally* this topic. Basically ‘Why do Republicans not have replacement plan?’

              The answer is simple:

              There are plenty of things that the American people dislike with the ACA.
              And there are plenty of things Republican politicians dislike with the ACA.

              And those two sets *do not overlap at all*.

              Mostly due to money. The Republicans want to remove money from the ACA. (Democrats need to talk more about this.) The ACA is funded by various taxes, and the Republicans want to either undo those taxes, or loot the result to give tax cuts to other people.

              Their version of the ACA would be the ACA, with smaller subsidies, or with people with pre-existing conditions shuffled off into a high-risk plan they can then completely underfund, and everyone else gets lower insurance and thus less subsidies.

              Meanwhile, the things Americans actually dislike about the ACA (As opposed to just disliking the name) are either health care cost-control measures like narrow networks, insurance cost-control measures like the mandate, or premiums being too high. (Aka, subsidies being too low.)

              Americans hilariously complain that their insurance is too expensive when they aren’t using it, and then complain that it’s not good enough when they do. This is totally moronic, because insurance profits are, in fact, capped. The only way for them to have better insurance is to pay more, and the only way for it to be cheaper is a) for them to have crappier insurance, which they don’t like, b) have healthy people forced into the plan, which they don’t like, or c) have health care costs lowered, and most of those involve *deliberately annoying* people into making cheaper decisions.

              The problem is not the insurance. The *actual problem* is that medical care is reaching the point where it is too expensive for Americans to *even cover the averaged cost* of it.

              You can cut *some* of this down by going to single payer, which not only removes the profit of the insurance companies, and removes a lot of the costs *of handling* insurance from the medical industry, but would also give a large amount of negotiating power to the government, allowing it to do some cost controls without annoying people much.

              But, barring going to single payer (And we know the Republicans aren’t doing that.) there is exactly one other solution to fix the real gripes with the ACA: The government throws more money at it.

              And the elected Republicans could, indeed, do that and call it a win. They could ride off into the sunset, either after ‘Saving the ACA’, or replacing it with a plan that looks different enough, but is really just the ACA with more funding.

              But this is *literally the opposite* of what the elected Republicans want to do. Which is a) basically take a bunch of money from the ACA, and then, with whatever is left over, b) give enough healthy people the option to cheaply buy something that looks like insurance-ish.

              Which is why, for seven years, they have refused to step forward with a replacement plan. Because, to do (b), they have to deliberately rig the system where unhealthy people are no longer in it. And it’s become very clear this will make everyone very *very* upset.

              (Note when I say ‘elected Republicans’, *I am not including Trump*. I have no idea what he wants.)

              And, no, getting Americans to comparison shop is not a reasonable solution that can be implemented. That requires vast overhauls of the system. It’s something that can be *started*, and probably should be, but it’s not a *replacement* for insurance, even if it *did* currently exist, which it does not, and it will take years to actually be working.

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              • They’re after Medicare too. I wouldn’t be surprised if they take a whack at SS.

                Frankly, assuming the GOP is not run entirely by crazy people, my only operating thesis is that the GOP plans to do all the unpopular stuff they’ve always wanted to do (including rip up the third rails), blame Trump, impeach Trump, and then stand around saying “We saved you from Trump! Re-elect us!”.

                If nothing else, I’m convinced the bulk of them think that the Trump stink will wash off. That it won’t be like Dubya’s low poll numbers, leading into the electoral Armageddons of 2006 and 2008. That they’ll be able to see “He doesn’t represent Republicans” to the electorate.

                Which is…optimistic. The electoral lizard brain — especially the low-information voters — have three incredibly relevant biases

                (1) The President is responsible for (good or bad) anything that happens while he’s President, no matter what the details are.
                (2) The President represents the party. If I like/dislike the President, I feel the same way about his party.
                (3) We care not at all for imaginary stuff like “filibusters” or “debt ceilings” or “the Constitution” until stuff is actually real and affecting me directly, and I get/lose stuff. Then I get happy/furious.

                The GOP seems convinced it can pull off the hat trick of kicking votes in the teeth with (3), then negating (1) and (2) entirely.

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                • They’re after Medicare too. I wouldn’t be surprised if they take a whack at SS.

                  Well, their twitching corpse will serve as a warning to future generations, I guess.

                  Anyway, no, that won’t happen. They won’t get far enough there, the leadership will stop them. But the Republicans have a very clear, and unique, problem with the ACA.

                  1) They are ideologically committed to doing a specific thing WRT the ACA that will cause America to *burn their party to the ground and make them eat the ashes* if they do it. Just like with Social Security, just like with Medicare.

                  The thing is, the leadership *generally* can stop that sort of nonsense, in all sorts of ways. Note SS privatization under Bush. The base, oddly, doesn’t seem to mind…everyone just blames liberals, and maybe a few RINOs go down. Except:

                  2) They’ve campaigned for seven years on doing *something* to the ACA, and if they fail to do *something* to the ACA that can be called a ‘repeal’ or ‘replacement’, their base will keep running insanier and insanier people until that happens.

                  Whooooooooops.

                  The Republicans, in a specific policy area, have an internal ideological position the party *literally cannot take if it wants to remain a viable political party* (Which oddly describes a lot of their positions.), and then, utterly inexplicably, *campaigned hard on doing something in that policy area*.

                  Words cannot explain how completely fucking stupid this was. Just, wow.

                  The only actual way this makes sense is if the Republicans assumed they’d never been in a position to do anything, and the ACA was intended to be a perma-grievance like abortion. But they accidentally, uh, won the election.

                  <DJ voice>And that was Springtime for Hitler, a request from the alt-right. Next up, still from The Producers, a special dedication from the left to the Republican Congress…Where Did We Go Right?</DJ voice>

                  Frankly, assuming the GOP is not run entirely by crazy people, my only operating thesis is that the GOP plans to do all the unpopular stuff they’ve always wanted to do (including rip up the third rails), blame Trump,

                  How, exactly, this would work when Trump (entirely predictably) takes a stand to *oppose* what they want to do is unknown.

                  Like I said, I’m not *entirely* sure what Trump is going to do, but I am sure that, given the choice between Trump standing next to the Republicans that the American people are throwing rocks at, vs. Trump standing there throwing rocks at the Republicans…

                  …well, he’s not going to be the target of rocks.

                  It seems hypothetically possibly that he could just not pick a side, and remain silent, and then you remember we are, in fact, talking about Donald J. Trump.

                  impeach Trump, and then stand around saying “We saved you from Trump! Re-elect us!”.

                  And the Democrats, I suppose, will hopefully be *really quiet* and not point out that they saw all the problems with Trump first?

                  I mean, I’m not disagreeing with you that this is the plan. It’s just such a startling stupid plan that it almost makes no sense. Sadly, for politicians, this does not disallow it being the plan.

                  What I suspect, instead, is that the Republicans literally do not have a plan. They are in a situation they did not foreseen, and the non-stupid ones fully realize it’s going to end in disaster for them. There is no exit, there is no plan, it just is what it is.

                  Or, to quote The Producers: NO WAY OUT. NO WAY OUT.

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                  • Well yes, it’s a stupid plan. But the GOP is in a stupid box that they stupidly created, which would be hilarious if it wasn’t for all the other stuff they’re about to break.

                    I suspect what their operative plan on the ACA is is to break it via reconciliation (remove what they can, which is sufficient to cause it to fail) then blame Democratic filibusters for the resulting explosion as Democrats try to keep what they can in place and help people.

                    Because running against Democrats is all they have.

                    That’s why Trump is still screaming about Hillary, and Chaffetz is gonna investigate her emails and not the Manchurian candidate he fluffed into office.

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                    • then blame Democratic filibusters for the resulting explosion as Democrats try to keep what they can in place and help people.

                      Which is why I’ve said to Democrats: Don’t filibuster.

                      If the Republicans *have already broken* the ACA (And, frankly, what they are talking about doing in reconciliation probably will, because insurance companies will nope and leave.) then Democrats need to just stand there handing rope to the Republicans.

                      There are only two outcomes. Either it works, in which case, yay, healthcare, or, more likely, it is a total mess, and the Democrats say ‘Hey, we let you pass your plan. It was clearly stupid, but we already said that when you passed it.’.

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                        • Yeah.

                          I mean, it’s entirely possible that this is a trap the Republicans think they are laying for the Democrats…the Republicans will break the ACA and the Democrats will ‘stop their plan for fixing it’. And the American people will blame the Democrats.

                          The problem is…this assumes the Democrats are complete idiots. Democrats are dumb, but they aren’t *that* dumb. If the ACA is *already broken*, the Democrats have no incentive not to play along with the nonsense.

                          They have two slightly different ways Democrats can play it.

                          1) Either they can stand in front of the American people and say ‘The Republicans tried to break our plan from the start, and required us to get past a filibuster. We think that their plan is stupid, but it’s better than nothing now that the Republicans have finally broken the ACA and left us with nothing. So we’re *not* going to block it. We’re not voting for it, we do not like it, but we will not stop their plan. We’ll see if they do any better than we did, because we will wait to judge the plan on how well it works, not the total nonsense they invented about the ACA.’

                          2) Alternately, as I’ve said before, they can try being *actually clever* and demanding some reasonable concessions (Or at least ones that *sound* reasonable to the public) for not filibustering. For example, they get to propose 20 amendments or something. And not only use those amendments to make the Republicans look like evil assholes by voting down popular things, but then, at the end, after Republicans have refused to accept any amendment, they do the exact same face-heel turn that the Republicans did for the ACA, and loudly proclaim that *negotiations have fallen apart and they cannot support it any longer*…but will continue to honor their agreement and not block the bill’s passage.

                          Either way, the Democrats come out looking like *saints* who tried their hardest to work with the exact same Republicans who spent years yelling about, and eventually breaking, the ACA.

                          And, yet, in the end, the Republicans own the thing. Democrats either explicitly disowned it from the start, or explicitly were unsatisfied with the end result, and whichever option it was was made very clear to the public.

                          Or, alternately, you can just have a ‘gang of twelve’ or whatever amount of Democrats who do one of those things. As long as they follow *that script* (Either 1 or 2), it all works out, and it’s even more clear it’s not bipartisan…only twelve Democrats were even willing to give a chance, and they eventually gave up on it. Less sainthood for the Democrats as a whole, but even *less* taint on the Democrats when it turns out the American people *loath* the Republican’s plan.

                          The only way this fails if a) Democratic voters are morons and complain about this without understanding the plan (Entirely possible) and b) 40 Senate Democratic listen to said voters (This is *utterly unbelievable*.)

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                          • I think any 4D chess the GOP is playing with is…pretty stupid.

                            There’s a few constants in American politics, the biggest of which is “The President is totally the King, unless he’s the Tyrant” — that is, the President gets blame for whatever and credit for whatever regardless of his actual involvement.

                            And two “The President is the Party”. There’s no “We’re DIFFERENT Republicans/Democrats than the President” — the President owns your party brand, and anything he does to it sticks.

                            Which means even IF the GOP manages some neat jujitsu to try to break the ACA and blame Democrats, odds are that voters (especially those low information voters with irregular turnout) will simply just blame the Republicans because they hold the Presidency.

                            Party and President will get the blame, by virtue of having the Big Desk. (In all fairness, they also get all the credit. Even when they did everything they could to stop it).

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  3. hah. I remember when going off the grid was the thing that crazy right-wing paranoids did because they imagined Clinton doing something involving FEMA and the UN to take over the country.

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  4. Wolf? Pfff..

    Try a pack of lions.

    https://www.facebook.com/johnndadala.walenga/videos/786302294851161/

    “Trump’s victory is the product of an anachronistic electoral college and razor thin margins in three states. I think this needs to be hammered constantly. The majority of Americans rejected Trump.”

    Oh? This is the same anachronistic EC that’s responsible for like 3 or 4 elections results like this? Yes, this pesky EC issue crops up ALL the time. Here’s CNN’s take from Nov 10.

    http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/11/politics/popular-vote-turnout-2016/

    “55% of voting age citizens cast ballots this year.” (lowest since ’96). Yes, it’s the EC that’s the problem. It couldn’t be anything like the crappy candidates could it? You are correct that Trump doesn’t have a mandate, but then again, given the percentage of eligible voters that actually vote historically, I’m not sure there’s been a President who’s had a mandate in decades.

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  5. Does anyone realize that this is basically how one half of the country feels every time? This is a time for humility on all sides, ideally leading to cooperation. “But I feel really bad” isn’t a sufficient reply. “But we’re right” isn’t a persuasive reply.

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    • No, I think it’s qualitatively different this time. I couldn’t stand W and I thought most of his policies were bad, but I still held enough respect for the office to refer to him as president. I won’t be doing the same for Trump, whom I view as a danger to the country and the Constitution. He’s a thin-skinned malignant narcissist who is fundamentally unfit to assume the office he’s about to hold. People don’t simply disagree with him. They fear him because he’s unstable, childish, vindictive, and unpredictable. Rather than respect and uphold convention, he flouts it at every turn. He’s shown no respect for the office he’s about to inherit; nor has he given any indication he understands the gravity of the power that’s about to be handed to him. Instead, he’s acting as if the presidency is some kind of reality show that he wins if he gets good ratings.

      We’re entering unchartered territory here. It’s fucking scary.

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          • Don,
            Seriously? Do you think anyone in Washington doesn’t have an enemies list? Even Bernie Sanders has one (although I doubt he’ll get too far in going after certain people).

            Hillary’s enemies list isn’t the horrid thing to be on. You do NOT want to be on the Kochs enemies list. That’s a bad one.

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              • Pinky,
                I don’t. I have mentioned that she knows where tons of bodies are buried, and is very good at armtwisting to get her way. But that’s using browbeating and blackmail, and is only related to the enemies list in terms of “Created a Climate of Fear where nobody dared to go against her.”

                To quote a friend of mine, “Everyone I know from Texas has grackles on their enemies list.” (that was even in a webcomic, I shit you not).

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                • Yeah, Kim, you do. You make allusions to unconfirmable mysteries all the time, enemies lists and buried bodies and whatnot. When asked to support your comments, you provide links to tangential or unrelated articles. It’s like you don’t understand what the words mean, like you’re overly literallist or overly figurative or something. I don’t think you’re a troll on purpose; I think you think you’ve done the research. But it comes off as trolling.

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                  • Pinky,
                    I am not literally talking about dead bodies. (Pedophilia, on the other hand…). Clinton has blackmail on Democrats like you wouldn’t believe.

                    Having an enemies list isn’t nearly as important as what you do with the people on the enemies list. Bush the Younger did some nasty stuff (like sending people to jail) for folks that made his enemies list. Bill Clinton basically crossed them off the whitehouse christmas card list (and yes, there were 140 hours of pointless hearings on this).

                    I find it rather alarming that there’s a rather suspicious death associated with the Wikileaks DNC leak. And I do know in whose interests it would be to “send a message” to keep your mouths shut.

                    “Unconfirmable mysteries?” I don’t think it’s really all that much of a mystery that Hillary knew how to armtwist the superdelegates. You can see that with them hanging on with whiteknuckles to their support of her, until they really had a compelling “we have to change or they’ll vote us out of office”.

                    Hillary had a list of moneymen that she pulled off the Clinton Foundation — and she spread that money around. If the Clinton Foundation goes down for quid pro quo, a lot of people in Washington are going to have a very, very, very bad day.

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      • You left out all his ‘conflicts-of-interest’, which are actually misnamed.

        Conflicts of interest assume that the office holder is trying to do the right thing, but might hesitate to do that if it causes personal harm to themselves or their family. So we try to make sure that situation doesn’t exist.

        Assuming Trump is going to do the right thing is…well, citation needed.

        And you also left out the constitutional violations of the emoluments clauses, both foreign and domestic.

        Interesting fact: Congress has no power to authorize *domestic* emoluments, unlike foreign ones that it can okay. It is, flatly, unconstitutional for state government (and local governments are technically just part of state governments) to give the president things, period, end of story. There’s no possible exception. This is keep states from bribing the president for preferential treatment. This means all *state and local tax breaks* for Trump are unconstitutional(1), and I’m really hoping that New York City just yanks them all immediately on those grounds. (It’s getting rather pissed about the traffic and security situation.)

        But, anyway, seriously, Trump has managed to have half a dozen reasons he cannot be president *that stand by themselves*. This isn’t just, like, one problem, or a few linked ones. There are several things that should be showstoppers *by themselves*.

        1) Technically, this hinges on whether or not giving a corporation wholly or mostly owned by the President something counts as giving ‘the President’ something, which is not 100% clear in the constitution (Which didn’t assume a bunch of corporations running around.), but I suspect that question has been already settled in law with a ‘yes’, otherwise that would be a trivially stupid legal way to bribe people.

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      • To the extent that the conversation is about unchartedness, I can sympathize. But you said it’s about watching “Trump and his GOP minions start to rip apart everything from the New Deal on down in some kind of Ayn Rand fever dream”. That’s the same old partisanship and ideology. People can’t complain about Trump being unlike anything we’ve ever seen and point to Sessions, or Ryan, or Pence, who are very much things we’ve seen.

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    • If Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio or even Ted Cruz had been elected President, I would’ve been a fan of likely zero of their Cabinet picks, thought their Supreme Court picks would be horrible, and so on, and so forth. I would’ve worried about my friends access to reproductive care in red states, felt bad for the people losing health care coverage, etc.

      But, I wouldn’t have worried about NATO falling apart, Russia having possibly real power within the administration, and massive conflicts of interest where policy might be determined on debts to various foreign banks.

      A Republican being elected and doing Republican things is expected. This is something different and far more horrible.

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      • I suspect that if Cruz won, there would be Democrats talking about how he’s unlike anything that had ever come before; that his dad would want him to start a war over Israel to trigger the End Times; that his connections with Wall Street banks would create unmanageable conflicts. I saw some of the same accusations of “unprecedented” corporate greed and racism leveled against Trump also leveled against Mitt Romney. I’ve read screeds against Trump that cite the unique threat he constitutes, and more than a few of them end with “and Pence is worse”.

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        • I’ve read screeds against Trump that cite the unique threat he constitutes, and more than a few of them end with “and Pence is worse”.

          I actually don’t think Pence would be worse because he’s not mentally unstable. I’d hate his policies, but I also think he’s so far to the right that he’d alienate a lot of the people who voted for Trump on the basis that he wasn’t DC establishment. Pence is DC establishment. He has all the personality of cardboard but, unlike Trump, he’s an adult.

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          • It’s weird, I’ve heard a lot of liberals talk about how bad Trump is and their response to Pence becoming President if Trump leaves is, basically, works for me.

            The only people even remotely close to “Pence is just as bad” are people from his home state, and even they are “I’d disagree with him, but I don’t think he’d accidentally start a war with China using a tweet”.

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            • morat20,
              Because, of course, Americans are so bloody fucking ignorant that they don’t realize that we ALREADY have world leaders invading other countries because of a fucking facebook post.

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      • On the other hand. If Bush or Rubio or the Zodiac had gotten elected you would have had relatively likable and skilled politicians with a unified party and a clear agenda for gutting the safety net. You wouldn’t have a historically unpopular buffoon who can’t even bolster his approval during the transition, where he literally controls every aspect of his public persona. You wouldn’t have a GOP president talking about how we cannot trust the CIA because they lied us into Bush’s bloody war. You wouldn’t have a GOP president going on record for a healthcare program with universal coverage. You wouldn’t have a GOP president whose top stated priority – in his *acceptance speech* – is infrastructure spending, and who has fully embraced the idea that government should push around CEOs to get what it wants. You wouldn’t have had a GOP president who believes that we need to find common ground with our adversaries to pursue shared interests rather than antagonize them with ineffective sanctions. Is he doing this out of the goodness of his heart? Of course not, but this is a shift of core GOP values to the left that IMHO would have been inconceivable under any other president.

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        • We all wish our political enemies were slightly dumber than us, so that when they end up in charge, they look like fools. So that we can out-clever them, lead them in circles, get them to fall for our traps.

          We don’t wish for them to be complete idiots and be in charge. Congressmen, okay. *cough*Louie Gohmert*cough*

          But there’s a basic, fundamental level of competence the president needs. All presidents.

          We want the president to fail (Or rebel against) at implementing the Republican agenda.

          We do not want the president to fail (Or rebel against) basic governance, or normal diplomatic interaction, or knowing to not start a war with Greenland, or whatever the hell Trump is going to do.

          Likewise, we don’t want a president that is corrupted, either by his own holdings or by Russia.

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          • I agree in that Ryan and McConnell present a very real danger of death to millions of Americans who rely upon the social safety net.
            But they are normal-if-awful politicians working within the boundaries of competence and governance.

            Trump is dangerous for a whole different reason, in his contempt for competence and reckless disregard for the welfare of America. His level of egomania and sociopathic narcissism is off the charts.

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            • And Obama represented a very real danger to Americans and foreigners living in foreign countries of Islamic religion. How many drone kills did he approve (and associated collateral damage to non combatants) over the last guy? Are you saying that American lives are of greater value and importance?

              As to T’s “egomania and sociopathic narcissism is off the charts” I’d very much like to see the scale you’re using. I’d like to see who you’re comparing him to and how much higher his level is. Are you including a lot of politicians in your charts?

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          • I’m not convinced that a feckless President Trump will fall backwards into more harm than a motivated President Cruz with force his way into real harm. To pick just one example, I highly doubt we would be talking about universal coverage and having an ACA replacement plan prior to repeal if Cruz had been elected (as opposed to just ripping out Obamacare “root and branch”).

            But the other really interesting thing about Trump is that he’s not just a randomly buffoonish president, but he’s actually fundamentally re-aligning the GOP agenda. If there’s one tenet of Trumpism (or Bannonism, more likely) that’s emerging it’s that he sees disorder as either a neutral or positive state. Bannon talked about how Trump is the master of the head-fake, but what we’re starting to see is that this isn’t just a campaign tactic, it’s how he deals with every decision – friendly or not – and very likely how he will govern. In terms of foreign policy this raises obvious concerns that people here have mainly focused on. But it also yields positives, like the idea that we can find points of mutual agreement with Russia to pursue common enemies. If you strip away Trump’s spin, the actual policy is indistinguishable from Obama’s position on Iran or even the Russian restart. It is a move that reasonable foreign policy folks have been agitating for a long time – to stop viewing all international activity through a highly moralist, US-centric lens and to start focusing on direct US interests. But it’s something the GOP would never have tolerated because it goes against their magical thinking on order/disorder: that the US constantly has to “project strength” and set pre-conditions for working with other countries (even though, as with the Saudis, we make glaring contradictions to this rule all the time). For people like myself who think sensible foreign policy has been completely blinded by moral rhetoric this is a positive move. It may even be positive enough to outweigh Trump’s dangerous unpredictability if other governments can adjust quickly and – as the public has started doing – largely ignore his tweets and off-the-cuff bluster.

            The same can be said for domestic policy, but here the potential danger is even lower. We just had eight years of the GOP painting Obama’s agenda in largely moral terms: the ACA is a tyrannical power-grab that strips citizens of their choices; infrastructure reform is crony capitalism that gives government the power to pick winners and losers; deficit spending is theft from our children’s paychecks; etc etc. But Trump doesn’t talk about these policies in moral views. The ACA is terrible because it doesn’t work, Trump’s program will be good because it will work and cover everyone for cheap. This is transactional politics in a nutshell. He doesn’t give a shit about empty moralizing to even pretend like his program fits into liberty rather than tyranny. He doesn’t frame it within some constitutional context or appeal to the founding fathers [and just to be clear, we *should* think about policy in a constitutional context, it’s just that whenever a politician appeals to the constitution to sell their preferred policy to you they are lying. every. single. time.] He wants to pass a policy that will help his constituents, and if they don’t like it they will reject it and reject him. All else is bullshit. (and here again politicians fetishize order so the invisible hand can provide, while Trump focuses on outcomes). The same thinking is applied to much of his agenda. When he’s asked if it’s wrong to put pressure on CEOs to keep jobs in the US, he cannot even fathom why this is would be issue. He’s trying to help the people. If they don’t like it, pass laws to ban it, or vote him out.

            And just to be clear, this a very good realignment for the general aims that liberals want to pursue. We would have been *way* better off if instead of spending the Obama years arguing over which party wants to push your grandma off a cliff, put her in a death panel, or under the jackboot of socialism, we would have argued over what policies best address people’s needs. Liberals want to work on social programs and governance. Moralist thinking is a huge impediment to this kind of work because it hardens people in their views while completely ignoring quantifiable evidence for/against a policy. Trump is very rapidly gutting the whole idea that the GOP and GOP voters operate on some kind of moral mandate that has to be respected. And it’s a good thing.

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            • But the other really interesting thing about Trump is that he’s not just a randomly buffoonish president, but he’s actually fundamentally re-aligning the GOP agenda.

              Not exactly.

              He’s laying bare that the vast majority of Republican voters *never cared* about the GOP agenda.

              It is a move that reasonable foreign policy folks have been agitating for a long time – to stop viewing all international activity through a highly moralist, US-centric lens and to start focusing on direct US interests.

              But that's not what Trump's doing.

              Destroying the EU and NATO, for example, does not serve any US interest…or, if it does serve some sort of *financial* interest, that interest is greatly outweighed by 'Not have Europe erupt into war' interest that the EU exists to stop, or 'Not have Russia throwing its weight around' interest that NATO exists for.

              Assuming that Trump even *knows* what US interest exist, beyond narrow and trivial financial ones, is just wishful thinking.

              It may even be positive enough to outweigh Trump’s dangerous unpredictability if other governments can adjust quickly and – as the public has started doing – largely ignore his tweets and off-the-cuff bluster.

              That last part seems wildly optimistic. China, for example, is freaking out. Trump’s fucking up relations with them over *Taiwan*, something that, let’s face it, *isn’t* important to US interests…and even if it was, we had a perfectly good policy already that let China pretend one thing, and we pretended another, and neither of us talked about it, and everyone was happy.

              Trump is very rapidly gutting the whole idea that the GOP and GOP voters operate on some kind of moral mandate that has to be respected. And it’s a good thing.

              I understand the fundamental ways in which Trump is disavowing the nonsense that the GOP has been talking about for the past decade or two, where everything is a life-and-death issue between socialism and freedooooom, where everything they don’t like is unconstitutional, etc, etc.

              This direction would, indeed, be a good thing for the Republican party if it did that, and it would be a good thing for the Democratic party if the Republican party did it. Basically, it would be a good thing for politics in general.

              The problem is…Trump is going to *fail*, and fail badly. Not because of *that*, but because he’s a corrupt idiot who doesn’t understand anything.

              Which will give Republicans a chance to *totally disavow* Trump and state that the problem is that he *didn’t* frame all the issues that way, and in fact trended dangerously close to teh socialism.

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  6. I’ll preface this comment by saying that you probably don’t dislike Donald Trump as much as I dislike Donald Trump. Growing up in New York, he was a constant presence in the tabloids. My dislike of Trump goes back well beyond his wandering into politics. I will also say that there is a non-negligible chance that the Trump administration could blunder its way into some kind of major catastrophe stemming from the mismanagement of an unforeseen event. That is always a risk for any administration, but I think it’s higher with this one.

    That said, I cannot help but laugh to myself about all the hyperbolic hyperventilation about Trump tearing it all down and sending us straight to the equivalent of a post apocalyptic policy nightmare. I’m laughing, but I’m also asking: why should I believe any of it?

    I am watching people, here and elsewhere, who were wrong about Trump every step of the campaign and who have found every excuse not to fess up to being wrong and who now have such strong, definitive opinions about what happens next. At what point do people say to themselves, “I got this all wrong from the start. It’s possible that I don’t fully understand what’s going on. Maybe I should proceed with some epistemic humility.” Seriously, am I the one taking crazy pills here?

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    • People haven’t really been (that) wrong about Trump though-he’s just as narcissistic, thin skinned, and demagogic as they feared. They were wrong about how a significant minority of Americans would react to a candidate like that.

      Unless you’re talking about various moderates predicting Trump would pivot to acting more presidential. They were wrong.

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      • They were wrong about how a significant minority of Americans would react to a candidate like that.

        This, exactly. No one’s wrong about Trump.(1)

        But people making predictions about the future need to remember that a sizable amount of people *voted for Trump*, for various reasons, and didn’t care about his obvious problems during the election, so *probably won’t care about them later*.

        1) Although I would like to repeat the point that I think we’re wildly *overestimating* his competence, because being president is, normally, *almost entirely* listening to experts and making the final decision…and it’s not going to be that under Trump. Trump seems to have no idea how the presidency is even supposed to work, and is making absolutely no effort to change his behavior. (As evidenced by his cabinet picks having almost no experience.)

        Seriously, the man got tripped over by the ‘Everyone appointed by the president files a resignation effective at Jan 20th 12:01 and the new president is supposed to *ask* most of them to stay on until a replacement is appointed’. A basic fact that has controlled every presidential transition…and Trump just didn’t bother to know it, and had no one to tell him.

        Trump is *so* unknowledgeable about how the presidency operates, in fact, I predict there will be at least one actual screwup in *signing or vetoing* legislation(2). He will fail to return something he vetoed, or fail to return something he signed, and Congress might or might not be in session, and it will go into effect or not based on constitutional rules Trump hasn’t bothered to look at, and he’ll just randomly point fingers all around.

        2) Rather like Paul LePage, in fact, another right-wing blowhard dumbass. But governors have varying levels of staff and support (And I have no idea on the Maine situation), whereas the president is *supposed* to have a ton of those things.

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        • Seriously, the man got tripped over by the ‘Everyone appointed by the president files a resignation effective at Jan 20th 12:01 and the new president is supposed to *ask* most of them to stay on until a replacement is appointed’. A basic fact that has controlled every presidential transition…and Trump just didn’t bother to know it, and had no one to tell him.

          Why exactly do you say that he “got tripped over” this? Is there some evidence which suggests that this was an oversight? There may be, but I haven’t seen any.

          Also, you’re wrong. There is no “supposed to ask most of them to stay.” Generally, incoming administrations issue the blanket vacate order, but selectively ask some folks to stay or hear requests from some appointees to stay on longer. For instance, I used to work for the federal government. I wasn’t there in 2009 when the Obama administration came in, but I know how the transition worked. Bush’s political appointees cleared out and the office was run by career civil servants, with input from the transition team, until new people were appointed.

          The only break with precedent is that the Trump administration didn’t ask anyone to stay and reportedly isn’t allowing exceptions. Is that a smart move? Who knows? But to portray this is some kind of screw up or major breach of precedent or protocol is either really intellectually dishonest or really uninformed.

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          • Here’s another exhibit regarding basic competence: Rick Perry, Trump’s pick for Secretary of Energy, apparently did not know that the job involved regulation of nuclear weapons or power plants when he accepted it.

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            • I read the article. It never says what you allege. It doesn’t say anything specific about what Perry may have known about the position. It’s clearly designed to make you think it did say something, but it doesn’t say anything.

              Please reply if you saw something I didn’t.

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              • It’s the conventional wisdom now, Pinky. It was to good to check (unless you’re NYMag) Everyone’s going to continue to believe it like the Bush Sr supermarket scanner thing.

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                • I don’t think it’s been around long enough to be conventional wisdom. As far as I know it’s never been printed in a reputable publication. If Don and others care about the truth, they can help stamp out this urban legend (or support it with some evidence).

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              • Yeah, upon further reading I regret posting it. I didn’t catch how thinly sourced the NYT piece was. I certainly stand by ‘s point on the overall administration, but Perry is probably one of his least offensive cabinet picks.

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                • Yeah, I have a low opinion of the Trump transition team’s ability to put together a solid administration in the next few days. I also hate fake news and was glad that we both agree on that hack piece.

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                  • This is pretty much my opinion. Trump and his crew are likely well behind the curve when it comes to transition dynamics and public administration writ large and there’s nothing wrong with criticizing them for it. But when the default for that criticism becomes based in exaggerated, unsubstantiated or just downright bizarre claims, something is wrong.

                    It is as if the press is in a race to see which of them can permanently discredit themselves first.

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                  • Let’s be clear: One of the better picks is a guy who wanted to abolish the agency 4 years ago and didn’t actually know what the agency did until after he’d accepted the offer.

                    Perry’s not a blithering moron, he’s been a pretty successful politician, and I have no doubt he’s capable of herding cats and such. I don’t expect the DoE to burst into flames and explode under his watch.

                    But let’s be clear where Trump’s bar is for “qualified” and “competent”. Which was, again, the guy who wanted to abolish his department and didn’t even know what the department did.

                    Like Perry or not, the fact that he’s considered one of the better candidates is a sign of how bad the field is

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                    • Perry’s not a blithering moron, he’s been a pretty successful politician, and I have no doubt he’s capable of herding cats and such.

                      Or at least realizing that, hey, the DoE basically knows how to function without him, and getting out of their way for the nuke stuff.

                      I see him maybe cutting a few research projects, maybe even starting some dumbass clean coal initiative. (1) Although a lot of those existing research projects are going to be harder to back out of than people think, from what I understand…basically, what’s going to have to happen is that less research is going to *start*, but existing stuff has already been committed to.

                      But he’s the kind of guy who’s going to say ‘You guys just keep doing all that nuclear bomb stuff however you’re doing it.’

                      I am not worried about the DoE under Perry, especially as it seems rather unlikely we can have any sort of crisis the DoE needs to handle. (2)

                      Incidentally, the idea that Perry didn’t know the DoE handled nukes doesn’t even make sense. Way back when he was forgetting the DoE in speeches, he actually had a few policy statements on dismantling those departments, and one of them was that the nukes would be moved to the Department of Defense.

                      Which itself is sorta stupid and totally ignores the reason we had nukes in the DoE (And before that, the Atomic Energy Commission.). We wanted nuclear weapons not kept under military control, a *very specific and deliberate decision* we made as a nation at the end of WWII.

                      Granted, this is mostly symbolic…nuclear weapons could always require presidential authorization even if under military control (And did in WWII, when they were.), and in reality the military has ‘possession’ of most of the nuclear weapons anyway, but it’s *important* symbolism, existing to remind everyone (military including) that nuclear weapons *are not part of normal military operation*. They aren’t a gun, or a helicopter, or any of the other resources we supply the military and allow the military to choose to use to reach the objectives we give them. They exist utterly outside that, and must be specifically ‘handed over’ to the military. (Even if the military technically is already walking around with them.)

                      So Perry did, in fact, know nukes were under the DoE. He didn’t seem to know, or care, why they were in the DoE, but he did know.

                      1) Are we really incapable of *just letting coal die*? Are we *forever unable* to find better, non-black-lung causing jobs for coal miners, or just writing them a damn check? What sort of stupidity is this?

                      2) I guess we could start postulating he’d relax nuclear power regulations…except, no, he’s not going to do that. And most regulations are basically ‘baked in’ to how existing plants operate, so you’d have to have new, unsafe plants built…which don’t have time to happen.

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                      • We can’t let coal die because that means the liberals win.

                        Even if the free market says “Coal just doesn’t cut the mustard anymore” that makes an environmentalist smile, and that can’t be allowed.

                        I honestly think the GOP is about 20% pro-coal for the few votes and lobbyists it gets them, about 50% pro-coal out of sheer inertia, and about 30% because of liberal tears.

                        That’s my generous belief.

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                    • “and didn’t actually know what the agency did until after he’d accepted the offer”

                      It would seem to me that you either haven’t read this thread, have some information that Don and I missed, or are willing to deliberately spread lies. Please clarify which.

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                      • Well, for one there hasn’t been any pushback on the story from Perry. And for two, he did say this just recently:

                        “My past statements made over five years ago about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking,” Perry said in his opening statement to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. “In fact, after being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination.”

                        I helpfully bolded the important bit. This from a man who, five years ago, wanted to abolish it.

                        I’m deeply curious what other function besides nuclear weapons he found hiding in the DoE that he suddenly finds vital.

                        I’ll ignore your tone and insinuations. I’m sure you’ve had a rough day or something.

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                        • I’m deeply curious what other function besides nuclear weapons he found hiding in the DoE that he suddenly finds vital.

                          Moving thousands and thousands of unpopular spent nuclear fuel casks out of red states with reactors and burying it in increasingly blue Nevada. Expanding the charter and scale of the WIPP nuclear waste disposal site in blue New Mexico. Making sure that minimal money is spent on cleaning up the Hanford site in blue Washington.

                          Sorry, irritable today.

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                          • He was my Governor, I’m quite aware of the damage he can do.

                            And he’s quite good at leveraging even small amounts of power to do a lot more than his remit, using personal relationships and long-term thinking.

                            (Seriously, for all the doofus he showed on the campaign trail, this is a guy who was running the Texas government as his own personal fiefdom in ways — despite holding the governor’s office with the least actual power in the United States. Because practically half the government owed him favors or was his man by the time he took office).

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                        • First of all, and these are in no particular order, you’ve just demonstrated that you’re willing to promote statements for political points that you have no reason to believe are true. Secondly, Perry made reference to the nuclear role in his statement the day of his nomination. Third, he had no political choice but to say that he’d reconsidered his assessment of the Department. Fourth, there is no way he could push back on the story without putting himself in a Quaylesque trap of insisting that he really was smart all along.

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                          • His statement is pretty easy to read as an implicit confirmation of the story, which, even if you can’t push back (which Trump has proved is never the case), is different than just saying nothing on the topic.

                            Now, I read the pieces criticizing the NYT’s article, and largely agree with them (particularly Popehat’s). But, with that said, Perry’s statement really makes it sound like he didn’t understand the remit of the position he accepted. Finally, I honestly don’t know how much this matters, other than it makes pretty clear that many of the people who want to radically downsize or eliminate various cabinets don’t truly understand what they are doing.

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                            • Carson famously said he was unqualified to lead HHS, but apparently is qualified for HUD. Devos is fumbling basic education questions — and I don’t mean trick questions, I mean the sort of fundamental questions that school boards and state governments are dealing with over education.

                              Franken had to patiently walk her through a really basic concept in terms of how you measure student success — when you have to explain a simple, basic question to someone — that’s a pretty nasty sign of their real qualifications.

                              Perry not grokking a lot of what the DoE does is literally par for Trump’s course.

                              But it’s far easier to assume I’m a filthy lying liar than imagine that Rick Perry didn’t know that the DoE handled nuclear weapons until quite recently. (It is, despite it’s rather critical nature, not one of the things most people come up with when the think DoE).

                              Of course, if he DID know that then his claim to want to abolish the DoE when he was running for President is….kind of unbelievable.

                              And of course, putting him in charge of the agency he thought shouldn’t exist seems a little weird whether he knew about the nuclear side or not.

                              But I’m, as noted, a filthy lying partisan liar — what other term is there for someone who comes to a different conclusion than you? Honest disagreement? No such thing. Only filthy, filthy, contemptible lying.

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                              • Of course Carson isn’t qualified. Of course Trump is a jerk. Of course you’re spreading around a rumor that has no confirmation and interpreting things in an unfair way simply for political points. I don’t know if you’re actually filthy. I can’t judge that. There’s no way for me to tell. And that means I won’t say that you’re filthy – because I’m not willing to pass along things without credible support just to score political points.

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                                • Where we disagree is simple: I think Rick Perry’s statements, both 4 years ago and at his hearing, corroborate the story nicely. You do not.

                                  That’s fine. Disagreement happens.

                                  You go further and state that talking about the article as if true — a position I hold due to evidence I find convincing and you do not — is “lying”.

                                  How? Because you disagree with it, it automatically becomes a lie if I repeat it? Or am I lying when I say I find the evidence convincing? Or is it a lie if I say I find it convincing, but don’t add “But Pinky does not”.

                                  Please explain how I am lying, with the understanding that I find Rick Perry’s statements on the DoE to be sufficient to believe the story.

                                  Because you keep accusing me of “lying” instead of “being wrong”. One of those is an insulting accusation at odds with the community standards here, the other a mere common occurrence in the human experience.

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                                • It extremely unfair to judge Rick Perry by assuming that things he says have any basis in reality, and frankly, I’m shocked Morat would do such a thing. I mean, obviously Perry could have said something like “The DOE does very important work. I’ve expressed doubts about the way those functions are organized, but that’s all in the past.” He might disillusion the people who thought that eliminating the DOE meant firing thousands of pointy-headed bureaucrats rather than putting them under a different department, but he’s not running for office anymore, so what the hell.

                                  Anyway, here’s a direct quote from Armstrong Williams, Carson’s business manager:

                                  “Dr. Carson feels he has no government experience, he’s never run a federal agency. The last thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency.”

                                  Apparently Carson changed his mind about either the importance of the first point or the desirability of the second.

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                                  • What’s funny is that he really can’t seem to separate out the concept of “disagreeing” or even “being wrong” with “lying”.

                                    If I believe the article, whether based on evidence or not, and repeat it — I’m not lying. I’m being quite honest. I might be wrong. I might be repeating other people’s lies because I believe them, but I’m not lying.

                                    Because I repeat information from a news article, which while thinly sourced seems credible enough in light of Perry’s own words, I’m apparently spreading false rumors for political gain.

                                    Except for the fact that it’s not a rumor, it’s a claim from a major newspaper. It’s not false — no one has proved it so, none of the players have claimed to have been misquoted or misunderstood, and there is sufficient evidence from other public statements to validate the general thrust of it — and there’s really not much political gain because as I’ve noted upthread — Perry’s not exactly Trump’s worst choice.

                                    I think appointing someone to run an agency he wants to abolish is somewhat dumb, but Perry actually falls well within the parameters of “The President should be given a lot of deference with his Cabinet choices” Insofar as I can support any nominee of a President I oppose, Perry would make the short list of Trump nominations that at least vaguely acceptable. I disagree with his agenda, I think he lacks what I consider requisite background knowledge, but I’m pretty sure he’s capable of managing the DoE.

                                    So he is, in the end, saying “You’re repeating the claims from a newspaper article you believe, in part due to other public statements from the parties involved, in order to score political points opposing a nominee you actually support”.

                                    Which is somehow lying.

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                • The thing is, I don’t think Perry is a particularly good Cabinet pick, even by the standard of ‘loyal political operative/party faction satisfier’.

                  But that story made the worst case for Perry not being a good pick.

                  (If they wanted to give Perry a job, it should have been Ag secretary, or Ambassador to a Gulf state. Or Mexico.)

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                  • I like the pick. I don’t think that any of the energy experts who’ve held that job managed the department any better. I would have been fine with Palin getting it – the only high-level job I’d say that about. I would really like to have seen Jindal at HHS, but we’ll see how Price does.

                    The most interesting thing about the high-level picks to me is the list of people who didn’t get one. There were four politicos who latched onto Trump in order to get back into the center of power: Giuliani, Christie, Gingrich, and Huckabee. None of them got a thing. (I don’t count Carson in that group because he wasn’t trying to get back something he’s lost.) (You could count Palin in that group too, but the dynamics seemed different. She was looking for limelight power, not official power.)

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          • Why exactly do you say that he “got tripped over” this? Is there some evidence which suggests that this was an oversight? There may be, but I haven’t seen any.

            He forgot to ask the DC National Guard leader to stay on, which means that guy is resigning *literally in the middle of inauguration*…where he’s in charge of security. (Or, at least, will be until 12:01.)

            And, then, a few days ago, Trump did notice this, and asked the guy to stay…of course, the guy had already made other career plans at that point. (Maybe he convinced him to stay through inauguration, I forget how that story ended.)

            In fact, Trump seems to have realized, at the last minute, that all these resignations could cause problems, and has asked a few other people to stay on. At least in the military. In *January*.
            http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/10/politics/trump-transition-pentagon-officials/

            At some point, we need to stop attributing to malice or political design stuff that really just indicate Trump has no fucking idea what he’s supposed to be doing.

            Same with the ‘no ambassadors are being allowed to stay on’. The media chose to show that as heartlessness…in reality, I suspect Trump just didn’t really understand he could or should do that.

            Bush’s political appointees cleared out and the office was run by career civil servants, with input from the transition team, until new people were appointed.

            Some agencies cannot do that, from what I understand. They must have a head to actually function (Aka, the head nominally signs off on everything.), and there is no civil service member in the line of succession. The CFPB ran into that problem when first created, where the Republicans managed to keep it non-functioning by *not* having any head appointed.

            Now, Trump will, hopefully, have a *head* for each agency that needs one. Although he doesn’t have the damn National Security Council filled out yet, so who knows?

            And, just because that was the impression you got talking to other government employees doesn’t mean that’s how it worked, or how it worked in general. Maybe that’s just how it worked the last transition for the department you were in, and that department probably has a grand total view of half a dozen political appointees.

            I’ve seen several examples mentioned of people who were asked to stay on for *years*, and plenty of stories asserting that a large number of them are asked to stay on until their replacement is appointed.

            I have looked around for some sort of statistics, but have failed to find any.

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            • IIRC, of the nearly 700 or so appointed positions Trump has names for…30 at most.

              In general, incoming Presidents aim to have 100 ready to take office on or shortly after (within a few days) of inauguration. Forms filled, hearings done, votes held.

              With the focus on the Cabinet (whose last member he managed to name yesterday, two days before he takes office) we forget the REST of the appointments.

              At least Rick Perry finally figured out what the Department of Energy does, also apparently in the last few days. (He thought he got to wander the world talking up coal and oil and gas. Turns out it’s got a lot to do with nuclear weapons).

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              • IIRC, of the nearly 700 or so appointed positions Trump has names for…30 at most.

                In general, incoming Presidents aim to have 100 ready to take office on or shortly after (within a few days) of inauguration. Forms filled, hearings done, votes held.

                Note those numbers vastly confuse the issue. People are like ‘Is 4% really so much worse than 14%? Yeah, it’s less, but it seems like *no one* is good at this.’

                But the thing is, 100 is enough to put a head in most agencies. You’re short a bunch of deputies, a few smaller positions and stuff left over, agencies that honestly aren’t that important. 100 lets you mostly get a workable government, especially if you let the few shortfalls you have stay over from the previous administration.

                30…is not enough, especially if you’re not keeping anyone around. (30 is exactly enough to fill *two Cabinets*.)

                EDIT: tl;dr – So really, instead of 700, think of the number as closer to about 150-200 of *actually important* positions, and the rest, not so much. So it’s closer to ~halfish that are filled. (Of course, this assumes that an incoming administration is filling the important ones first.)

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            • Here is the exceptionally silly example:

              http://www.businessinsider.com/nuke-safety-leaders-allegedly-fired-by-trump-2017-1

              Note the article specifically says ‘He says that NNSA bosses like Klotz and Creedon must sign off for nuclear weapons contractors to receive payment.’

              So…we’re just going to stop paying the contractors, I guess. Which might be okay if the Trump administration had some people ready to take their place in a few days…but it doesn’t. No one’s even been nominated.

              Incidentally, those two guys were hired, partially into Obama’s second term, to replace *holdovers from Bush*. This is hardly some political-charged position.

              And most agencies, from what I understand, have some sort of bottleneck like that, where the civil service just *can’t* take over. The civil service can keep doing all the low-level stuff, but there’s higher up stuff that can only be done by political appointees, even if by ‘done by’ we mean ‘a rubber stamp is applied to the work the civil service did’.

              For another example, Federal prosecutors. They are political appointees, and they have to exist because otherwise the Federal government literally cannot file charges against people. (Maybe the AG can directly? But we weren’t going to have one of those either.)

              And, hey, look, Trump reversed himself on letting *them* go, too…72 hours before he takes office. And the Deputy AG.
              http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-us-attorneys-federal-prosecutors_us_587fa66be4b01cdc64c900c4

              Note that article mentions that Obama only announced that on Jan 14th, so barely beat Trump…except that’s just when Obama *announced* they were staying on. When prosecutors were actually *asked* to stay on under Obama is unknown, because no one was really interested in it at the time. Whereas the Trump administration has been under pressure on this exact topic of ‘You aren’t really letting *everyone* go, are you?’, and probably announced it as soon as they asked.

              I think the fact that people have been screaming and yelling at Trump and he’s had to reverse himself and ask a bunch of people to stay on at the last second is, itself, pretty demonstrative that the government can’t operate without political appointees…and also pretty demonstrative that Trump didn’t know that until everyone started yelling.

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              • Huh. Maybe Trump was mistaken in assuming that this time would not be the time when, suddenly, “not asked to stay on” would be interpreted as “you’re fired and you must leave the building and cease all activity effective 5 PM January 19th”.

                But, y’know. I don’t get an email from my boss every afternoon saying “please come back tomorrow”. Maybe tonight I’ll be fired?

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                • Except that they tendered their resignations (as is customary). Which means Trump would have to reach out to them to make sure they stayed on. He transition didn’t.

                  Your analogy would only make sense if, at the end of every day, you submitted a resignation letter to your boss.

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    • The people who were wrong were the people who thought he couldn’t win. I always feared he could because:

      1. He sucked all the air out of the GOP primaries. The rest of the field looked like wall flowers compared to him.

      2. His major themes had been circulating in rightwing media circles for years–they were the logical conclusion of the Limbaugh-Hannity wing of the GOP. Anti-immigrant policies, The Wall, anti-PC, implied racism. I can remember the GOP debates in 2012, where audiences booed candidates who suggested even a smidgen of concern about the children of undocumented immigrants. Trump added the anti-globalism element to an already existing mix.

      3. Celebrity. Celebrities are American royalty, even third-rate ones like Trump. The media swooned all over him. So did lots of his followers. He had a built-in audience for his message and the media was a more than willing accomplice in publicizing his every brain fart. The guy may be a lousy and corrupt businessman but he knows how to market himself.

      4. Hillary, who was an uninspiring and crippled candidate from the get go. “I’m With Her” didn’t tell us anything about what she was going to do as president. It suggested we should join with Hillary because she was Hillary. It was her turn to be president. And even though I hoped she’d pull it out, a Hillary victory would have meant endless hearings and obstruction, one manufactured scandal after the next. A victory for corporate liberalism. Yawn.

      I’ve read plenty of post mortems by liberal writers about what liberals have done wrong to lose to Trump, many focusing on the bain of identity politics. Liberals were wrong about how to defeat Trump. However, this doesn’t mean that they were wrong about who and what he is. We just need something to offer voters other than Trump hatred.

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    • No you aren’t taking crazy pills. I grew up in the NJ/NY area and spent a lot of time in Atlantic City. Twenty years ago I thought Trump was a thin skinned narcissist and marginal businessman who would be a solid but sleazy used car salesman if he wasn’t born rich.

      People are indeed going straight for the most hyperbolic hyperbole EVAR. The median damage Trump and his peeps will do is bad enough w/o going for the disaster scenarios. However i dont’ think people have been wrong about Trump per se. They have been wrong about our fellow citizens ( leaving aside the fewer people voted for Trump thing) and what sells with them and why.

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  7. As Captain Obvious would tell you — any number of commentators have already noted the sense of crushing, rat-in-the-trap oppressive dread you feel isn’t due to Trump, so much. His election, and Sanders’ appeal to many Democrats, are symptoms of reaction to the current state of America’s Macro- social and political framework: it’s broken. People will argue passionately over why, but (per Huffpost’s most recent poll synthesis for ‘U.S. = Right Direction, Or Wrong Track?’) political stripe doesn’t matter — a majority agrees (57.4% Wrong Track; 30.0% Right Direction; 14.6% Moron) things are not good. Collectively we already knew that.

    Bottom line — so long as a majority of left and right hate the image they each have of the other; the gap between the upper percentiles of wealth and everyone else widens further; if government processes used to manage programs don’t change; and if a general fairness isn’t made stronger through law (financial regulation to reduce sector manipulations; reverse the Citizens United decision, put caps on campaign contributions and spending) — we’ll continue to deteriorate and fragment along region, state or even district fault lines. Trump’s behavior so far is not beneficial; to use business buzzspeak, there’s no value in it, and it damages the Brand in domestic and international markets.

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