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A False Choice

[ 1 ] July 26, 2016 |

index

As someone who passionately believes in fair trade, American jobs, and fighting global poverty, there is nothing more infuriating than the sort of dichotomy that commenters like Annie Lowrey and Dylan Matthews and Zack Beauchamp constantly push, that if one doesn’t support “free trade,” one supports global poverty. Is there any other issue in American politics where nominal progressives or even centrists portray the choice in such stark and moralistic terms, with no sense of nuance? I’m not sure that there is.
I articulated an entirely different version of trade in Out of Sight, one that seeks to slow down capital mobility in order to give workers both at home and overseas a chance to maintain a secure life while also having opportunities for economic growth and a rise out of poverty. That version of trade would force corporations to pay locally living wages, have good working conditions, stop sexual harassment and abuse on the factory floor, and most importantly, have enforcement mechanisms for stopping these problems through the supply chains and other tricks companies use to protect themselves from accountability. Such a system would provide incentives for companies to stay put and treat workers with dignity because they would not be able to bust unions or pollute at will by shuttering a factory and opening a new one. There might still be reasons to move around, but the most egregious would be controlled.

I’m not saying that I am offering the only alternative to the current system of free trade. I am certainly not. What we need is a meaningful conversation about trade that takes both global poverty and the American working class seriously. Neither strict protectionists nor free trade fundamentalists do that. The difference between the two sides is that the former are dismissed as white men in union jackets with out of fashion mustaches and the latter are the definition of Beltway respectability who look down on the American working class while talking of themselves as morally correct because they support ending global poverty without even beginning to deal with the exploitation of the global poor.

In any case, we need many ideas about trade in the conversation, much more than we have now. Here’s a piece by Geoff Gilbert contributing to that conversation.

Any real alternative to the current international investment regime requires confronting the power of private plutocratic capital. So what might a new international trade and investment regime look like?

For starters, it must promote a free exchange of goods and services, but, unlike the current system, it must do so on fair terms. The main idea must be that any fair and free trade and investment regime must expand the number of people who have a say in the investment decisions within and between countries that will determine where jobs will exist and on what terms for employees. Such a regime should give everyone a say, especially women, racial minorities, former colonized countries, and people of all minority sexual orientations and other non-mainstream persuasions who have been most marginalized by the plutocratic regime for centuries. Ideally, investment would be made in producers who share with employees, or better still, where all employees are owners. In short, a fair and free investment and trade regime needs to redefine the rights of capital by subordinating capital rights to human rights.

The sociologist Johanna Bockman analyzes the last attempt to create such an international order by the world’s relatively poor countries at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in 1964.

UNCTAD, which included on an equal basis all nation-states recognized by the UN, pursued what Raúl Prebisch, the Argentinian economist and UNCTAD’s first secretary general, called a “new international economic order.” It sought to upend the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the contemporary international “free” trade and investment order, which effectively enforced the old colonial trading arrangements whereby former colonies, instead of developing their own manufacturing capacity, provided the colonizers with the raw materials needed for their high-margin manufactured goods. Yet, complicating the current false choice offered between the “free” trade status quo and protectionism, UNCTAD advocated for trade liberalization and opposed protectionism.

In order to build an international trade and investment order that could benefit all countries, UNCTAD called for “structural adjustment” of the international economy of a sort just a bit different from the austerity, privatization and trade liberalization programs of the same name that the International Monetary Fund has since imposed around the world. On structural adjustment, the Final Act of the 1964 UNCTAD conference stated: “Developed countries should assist the developing countries in their efforts to speed up their economic and social progress, should cooperate in measures taken by developing countries for diversifying their economies, and should encourage appropriate adjustments in their own economies to this end.”

This meant moving parts of the most profitable industries, concentrated in the wealthy Global North countries, to the Global South. It would have required either public capital investment or coercion of private capital to invest toward this purpose. These economic goals would have either displaced private capital with public investment or publically imposed accountability on private capital investment.

“Structural adjustment” would require time and the creation throughout the world of organic democratic organizations capable of facilitating democratic ownership and control of industry.

I’m not sure that I agree with all of this, especially because it then relies on Mondragón, an exception that proved the rule if anything ever has, as its evidence that this can work. But the broader point stands. What trade looks like needs to be a real conversation, not a binary between two choices.

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No brain toilers for Trump

[ 36 ] July 26, 2016 |

holy trinity

Holy Trinity Church is a mildly famous among lawyers SCOTUS case from 1892, best known for supporting the doctrine that legislative intention can trump statutory plain meaning. The case involved the apparent violation of one of the earliest federal immigration laws, when a New York church paid to bring an English pastor to America, to become the church’s minister. The statute forbade employers from paying to bring foreigners into the country, subject to exceptions that didn’t seem to apply to the pastor’s case. The Court got around that by citing legislative history for the proposition that Congress hadn’t intended to stanch the flow of “brain toilers,” as opposed to manual laborers, across our teeming shores:

It appears also from the petitions and in the testimony presented before the committees of Congress that it was this cheap, unskilled labor which was making the trouble, and the influx of which Congress sought to prevent. It was never suggested that we had in this country a surplus of brain toilers, and least of all that the market for the services of Christian ministers was depressed by foreign competition.

The opinion is chock full of nativist paranoia, that makes for amusing reading in these more enlightened times:

“[The act] seeks to restrain and prohibit the immigration or importation of laborers who would have never seen our shores but for the inducements and allurements of men whose only object is to obtain labor at the lowest possible rate, regardless of the social and material wellbeing of our own citizens, and regardless of the evil consequences which result to American laborers from such immigration. This class of immigrants care nothing about our institutions, and in many instances never even heard of them. They are men whose passage is paid by the importers. They come here under contract to labor for a certain number of years. They are ignorant of our social condition, and, that they may remain so, they are isolated and prevented from coming into contact with Americans. They are generally from the lowest social stratum, and live upon the coarsest food, and in hovels of a character before unknown to American workmen. They, as a rule, do not become citizens, and are certainly not a desirable acquisition to the body politic. The inevitable tendency of their presence among us is to degrade American labor and to reduce it to the level of the imported pauper labor.” (Quoting the House committee report).

Anyway, it’s in my view a shame that MR. JUSTICE BREWER’S verbal conceptualization of a laboring “class whose toil is of the brain” never caught on, and we are stuck with the word “intellectual,” which is admittedly a much narrower concept, and also a term which basically can’t be used without irony or sarcasm (indeed you are almost required to add the sneering modifier “so-called” whenever describing anyone as such).

Which brings me at last to my point, which perhaps surprisingly does not involve remarks on the wearing of onions on belts in bygone days: there are almost no intellectuals anywhere on the political spectrum who are actually supporting Donald Trump’s candidacy. At most on the right you can find a few Victor Davis Hanson types who will make a lesser of two evils argument, but the heavy lifters of right-wing brain toiling — your Brooks’s and Douthats and Kristols and Wills et. al., — remain vehemently opposed to him, even now, after all hope has been lost of stopping him from being the GOP candidate.

Of course anybody to the brain toiling left of these gentlemen recoils in unmitigated horror from the prospect of a Trump presidency, with the rare exception of the very occasional apparently brain-damaged not a dime’s worth of difference Princeton professor.

What’s interesting about this I suppose is that it’s some evidence of the shall we say limited influence of intellectuals of any type on either public opinion or the shape of national politics. Basically no thinking person, loosely speaking, is willing to admit to even moderate enthusiasm for the potential reign of Herr Trump, and yet here we are.

So I Saw the Killing Joke…

[ 20 ] July 26, 2016 |

Despite the Killing Joke’s place in the history of fridging women in superhero comics, I still have a great fondness for the Alan Moore/Brian Bolland story (in fact, I’ve often thought that the story could have been done without fridging Barbara Gordon at all) and so when I heard that it was going to be turned into an animated movie with Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, and Bruce Timm, I was thrilled and I got myself a ticket. (I even accidentally showed up a week early because I forgot which Monday the screening was…)

And then came rumors about the adaptation, and then came SDCC. I felt genuinely torn about whether to go ahead – if it was as bad as it sounded, I didn’t want to support the film; on the other hand, I hadn’t seen the film and wanted to be able to judge from primary evidence. Plus, I’d already bought the ticket and a bunch of my friends were going, so I waffled my way into going.

So is it as bad as people at SDCC thought? In some ways no, and in some ways it’s worse.

WARNING: Spoilers in full for the Killing Joke, which involves violence against women.

Read more…

How Asian-Americans Became Democrats

[ 47 ] July 26, 2016 |

Honda_Endorsement

Pretty remarkable shift among Asian-American voting patterns.

If post-1965 immigrants did indeed move the Asian American community to the right, the group’s leftward shift since 1992 is all the more remarkable. Although Bill Clinton won only 31 percent of the Asian American vote in 1992 (or 36 percent of the two-party vote if we exclude Ross Perot), Al Gore won 55 percent in 2000, followed by John Kerry with 56 percent in 2004, and Obama with 62 percent and 73 percent in 2008 and 2012, respectively. In just two decades, the Democratic Party’s share of the Asian American presidential vote more than doubled. Even more remarkably, Obama won every major national origin group of Asian Americans in 2012, including Vietnamese Americans, who have traditionally leaned Republican.

Why has this happened? Largely because the Republican Party has gone totally insane:

Since then, the leftward shift in the Asian American vote has also reflected “push factors” from the Republican side. Congressional Republicans have outdone one another in anti-immigrant rhetoric and proposals and, despite efforts by the Bush administration, consistently scuttled efforts to enact comprehensive immigration reform. To be sure, immigration has never been a top issue for Asian American voters; the economy, education, and health care usually lead as the top three issues in surveys. Still, immigration holds a symbolic place among Asian American voters. A 2014 AAPI Data survey of Asian American registered voters found that 41 percent would consider switching their support away from a candidate who expresses strong anti-immigrant views. Immigration thus matters to Asian American voters less as a top policy priority than as an indicator of whether candidates and parties respect immigrants and welcome them.

Another development pushing Asian Americans away from the GOP has been the rise of Christian conservatism in the Republican Party. The 2012 Pew survey on Asian Americans indicated that the strongest level of Democratic Party support comes from Hindus and those who claim no religious affiliation (these groups make up a significant share of Indian Americans and Chinese Americans, respectively). The same Pew survey did not contain a sufficient number of Muslim respondents, estimated to be about 4 percent of the Asian American population, to produce reliable estimates of their party preference. However, the group’s 2011 survey of Muslim Americans also indicated very strong support for the Democratic Party. Finally, a 2016 AAPI Data survey of Asian American registered voters indicated that 43 percent would consider switching their support away from a candidate who expresses strongly anti-Muslim views.

Asian-Americans also supported social programs and government spending, making Democratic politics more appealing to them. But I prefer the racial essentializing of people like David Brooks.

In 1992, writing in The Washington Post, Stanley Karnow had claimed that Asian immigrants were more likely to identify as Republican because they valued individual responsibility and free enterprise and many of them had fled communist countries. In 2012, New York Times columnist David Brooks claimed that Asian Americans voted Democratic because they came from cultures that do not put a high value on individualism and instead approve government intervention. If cultural values can be used to explain both voting Republican and voting Democratic, they may not explain either one very well. The actions of parties and political leaders over the past two decades provide a far better explanation for the politics of Asian Americans today than do the disparate cultural traditions that immigrants have brought with them.

It’s so hard when this essentializing changes course. I get whiplash. But then those Asians are so inscrutable. All we can know is that it must be some racial characteristic!

KFC Protests

[ 68 ] July 26, 2016 |

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Personally, I’d protest KFC for its horrible food, but I guess this is also a reason to do so:

For years, authorities under President Xi Jinping have stoked nationalistic sentiments in China as part of a larger campaign to push Chinese Communist Party ideology. Part of that effort includes “civilization” volunteers, who are recruited by the Communist Youth League and tasked with spreading the party’s message online.

“Online” being the key word. It seems protesting in the street is a step too far for the Chinese government, which finds itself at the moment in the odd position of denouncing demonstrations against American fast food chain KFC — fueled by the very brand of aggressive nationalism they helped foment.

Since July 16, Chinese people in at least a dozen towns and cities have protested in front of KFC restaurants because they are seen as representing the interests of the United States. Many in China think US meddling helped lead to an embarrassing ruling on July 12, in which an international tribunal shot down Beijing’s extensive claims over the South China Sea.

Videos showing protesters confronting KFC customers have also gone viral on social media, where the rallies were organized.

Look, if the interests of KFC are the interests of the United States, then China should just conquer our country now. I mean, I could at least accept an argument that the nation be represented by Popeye’s. Or Five Guys certainly. But KFC?

Foreign Entanglements: The Latest From Brazil

[ 2 ] July 26, 2016 |

On the latest episode of Foreign Entanglements, Colin Snider and I talk Dilma’s impeachment:

#BernieorBust Dead-Enders Are Not Representative of Sanders or his Supporters

[ 185 ] July 26, 2016 |

bernie

This Harold Meyerson column is excellent. Two points in particular are worth emphasizing:

Sanders skeptics have been eyeing him apprehensively since he announced, fearful that he would become this year’s Ralph Nader. Nobody who actually knew Bernie, however, ever believed he wouldn’t support Hillary Clinton in the end. In fact, he did much more than that. By shifting the discourse in the Democratic Party to one more appropriate to an age of inequality, and by pushing the party in its platform to commit to causes from which, at best, it had been laggard in embracing, he was showing his people precisely what focused progressive activism can yield: tangible victories in the arena of real politics.

All of Bernie’s Sighted supporters understood this. Virtually every one of his endorsers who has a track record in the give-and-take of real politics—union activists, elected officials, environmentalist leaders—has proclaimed, as Bernie has, that the revolution succeeded in moving the party and its nominee to the left, and that a Hillary Clinton presidency, whatever it shortcomings, would create the possibility of significant progressive organizing and victories, while a Trump presidency would be a reign of repression.

I said this as it was unfolding, but people panicking about whether Sanders would endorse Clinton just didn’t understand him. He’s never been a risk to become a new Nader — he’s not obscenely self-centered and he understands the value of compromise. There were things he could have handled better towards the end of the campaign, but you can say the same and arguably worse about Clinton in 2008 and there’s was never any risk that she would abandon the party or refuse to endorse Obama.

And it’s also worth noting that Sanders’s supporters are if anything coming around more quickly than Clinton’s did in 2008:

Bernie’s messaging, the presentation of the platform and rules in a way that made clear just what he’d won, and the progressive—and in the case of Michelle Obama, brilliantly humane—presentations on Monday were plainly calculated to open some of the Bernie diehards’ eyes. So did the presentations from children of undocumented immigrants and other speakers to whom it would be hard to argue that the difference between Clinton and Donald Trump wasn’t really all that great.

As the convention began, a new Pew poll showed that 88.5 percent of voters who’d consistently backed Sanders throughout the primary season now favored Clinton. A majority of the Sanders delegates in the hall in Philadelphia also back Clinton, but a loud Blinkered minority has managed to command disproportionate media coverage, which ever favors the loud. This disconsolate fringe—not just delegates but also the demonstrators lined up outside the convention area’s fencing—is almost entirely white and non-immigrant, people, that is, with less reason than some to fear a Trump presidency will overturn their lives. Nor are the demonstrators I’ve talked to preponderantly local, but rather have come from across the country to shout their rage and discontent. In short, the Blinkered are a fraction of the left, the Naderites come again. They are people who wouldn’t normally be involved either in Democratic politics or real-world progressive organizations, who hitched their wagon to Sanders’s star while many more experienced progressive activists failed to grasp Sanders’s potential for moving the world further in their direction than any political phenomenon in years.

My hunch—no more than that—is that if the election stays close, many of the Blinkered will reluctantly succumb to a very rational fear in the last two weeks of the campaign, and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s vote will plummet just as Henry Wallace’s did in the final stretch of the 1948 campaign. The prospect of a Trump presidency will finally strike dread in all but the most hermetically sealed mentalities.

Even though they’re over-represented at the convention and MSNBC seemed determined to track down and interview each and every one of them, #BernieorBusters are a small, shrinking, figuratively and sometimes literally flatulent minority of Sanders supporters. People indifferent to the outcome of the election, or who (like Jill Stein*) are actively working to throw the election for Trump aren’t representative supporters and definitely aren’t representative of “The Left,” as much as they’d like you to think otherwise.

*Here is one BLISTERING hot take for you:

I was going to say that Jill Stein is to political commentary as Skip Bayless is to sports commentary, but that’s not really fair to the latter — Skip’s shitty takes aren’t actually part of a campaign willing to risk the the infliction of massive suffering on some of America’s most vulnerable citizens in exchange for no upside whatsoever.

Maintenance Results

[ 5 ] July 26, 2016 |

All,

Apart from general WordPress upgrade compliance, recent maintenance was intended to resolve some hitches that had developed in commenter registration. In particular, the sending of confirmation e-mails, as well as password change request e-mails, had grown sporadic and sketchy.  If folks continue to have any problems, please let me know at the address on the far right sidebar.

Thanks,

Management

Trump in Roanoke

[ 95 ] July 26, 2016 |

Donald Trump, racist whoopie cushion, appeared this afternoon in my hometown of Roanoke, Virginia, where I’ve relocated my insomnia for the past few weeks. Because I’m pathologically incapable of avoiding cheap and writable discomfort, I stood in line for several unwhiskeyed hours in 100-degree heat to experience the least-amusing civic joke in recent American history. At this point, one could assemble a pretty decent anthology of “I Went to a Trump Rally” narratives, so there’s nothing particularly special about the experience or about anything I might offer here. But today’s event was goddamn predictable and boring in a way that I actually found somewhat horrifying. There’s no question that the Trump campaign remains an ambling shitshow, and his “speech” reminded me of a somewhat less-cranked Spud from Trainspotting, but the normalization of Trump’s weirdness strikes me as more deeply troubling than what we all witnessed earlier in the year, when he was simply tugging his dick and yodeling while career patrons of the local Kum & Go punched hippies and black people. Adding to what Erik observed earlier, conditions like these underscore the horror of recognizing that Trump might actually win.

*

The two-hour wait outside the Hotel Roanoke was for the most part innocuous. It was hot and humid as Lucifer’s taint this morning, which might explain why no one in line near me was particularly chatty. My companion and I spent most of our time getting to know “Austin,” a 20-year-old future alimony delinquent from a nearby town who — if his odyssey was to be believed — had worked a 16-hour shift at a tire factory before driving several hours to spend time in the same room with Donald Trump, a humanoid pimento cheese tub. We talked about his family for a while before detouring into an extended review of his achievements on Call of Duty, interrupted by his occasional hoots of “TRUMP!” and “BLUE LIVES MATTER” when the local constabulary generously rolled by with another cooler of bottled water. When I asked if his parents shared his enthusiasm for politics, he ruefully shook his head, paused for a moment as if to relive an angry moment with Pop over the burn barrel, and explained that his folks preferred Ted Cruz. During a lull in the conversation, he showed me a recent match he’d earned on Badoo; “Scarlett,” as it turned out, was transgender, a deal-breaker for the young rake Austin.

While everyone waited for the hotel doors to open, journeymen plied their trade along the line. Every single one of them was a person of color, engaged in a secondary grift layered atop the primary grift that had drawn people like Austin to Roanoke in the first place. For $20, vendors offered shirts emblazoned with Elizabethan insults like “If you don’t bleed red, white & blue take your bitch ass home” or “If you build it, they won’t come” (featuring Trump waving through the fissure in a nearly-finished brick wall — an image that incongruously puts the shirt’s observer on the other side of the wall from Trump, implicating all of us as Mexican rapists and drug dealers.) In any event, I didn’t know what to make of the fact that literally the only black people in sight were fleecing white folks and selling them new church clothes; it’s difficult to cheer the continued circulation of dumb Lewinsky blowjob jokes (e.g., “Hillary sucks, but not like Monica”), but at least the proceeds were flowing away from the Trump campaign.

*

After gaining entry at long last to the air-conditioned hotel ballroom, we lingered for another two hours before the event began. During the last half-hour, the listless Trumpkins distinguished themselves mostly by failing to sustain any of the predictable chants — “USA,” “Build the Wall,” and “Lock Her Up” — for longer than about ten seconds. It’s been years since I spent much time in Roanoke, and while it may be somewhat less amped than the irate cornholes that seem to populate the campaign’s itinerary, I was mildly surprised that the self-assigned pep-squad deputies scattered around the room were unable to whip up some stiffer peaks of fury before the arrival of TrumpPence. Alas.

While the millennials in front of me Tweeted and Snapchatted and swiped left and right, the Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” played unironically in the background. The song reminded me of The Big Chill, which reminded me of how much I hate The Big Chill, before I remembered that the song plays during the opening scene the first part of The Big Chill, which involves the dressing of a a funeral for corpse who had filleted his goddamn wrists so his friends could come smoke dope and fuck each other for a few days. It’s not the first tune that would come to mind if I were assembling a “Make America Great Again” playlist, but no one asked me.

Finally, the Indiana tube sock known as “Mike Pence” emerged to introduce Trump, who apparently developed his “big heart” toward and “understanding” of Americans by building things with them — “skyscrapers and skylines,” Pence explained, which Trump completed by “standing shoulder to shoulder” with the people he employed. No, really. After some armpit fart noises about how Trump would get better trade deals from other countries and how we need a president “who digs coal,” Pence welcomed the man that the better-liberals-than-you in your Facebook feed regard as a threat no more worrisome than Hillary Clinton. It took Trump all of about five seconds to mention all the beautiful property he owns in Virginia and how he signs lots of paychecks in the commonwealth, before he proceeded into a distracted, 45-minute vortex that consisted mostly of scattered commentary on the sectarian drama unfolding within the Democratic Party. He cracked wise about Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, made fun of Tim Kaine for being a “weird little guy,” invoked BENGHAZI! and Pocahontas, and accused Clinton of being a “low-energy” candidate who needs to take lots of naps. I wasn’t aware that this was a thing with Clinton, but evidently Trump believes napping is detrimental to national security, a point he ought to take up with Ronald Reagan someday. The entire speech was an incoherent mess, as if Donald Trump’s brain were a Firefox window, and he sits at his desk every day shuttling between various Breitbart sites, YouTube, and Craigslist Casual Encounters, never bothering to wonder how he managed to wind up with 75 open tabs.

But the audience today didn’t care. In his own distracted way, Trump is a genius who understands that his supporters are simply bundles of dopamine receptors. All he needs to do is invoke BENGHAZI!, or the Second Amendment, or the importance of repealing the Johnson amendment, and he earns a room full of ecstatic eyerolls and jazz hands. During the “town hall” portion of the event — which consisted of three questions and a prayer — someone asked if Trump would promise to support Israel “100 percent” (whatever that means). Trump simply nodded and said “yes,” and the entire room went fucking bazonkers. He barely even needed to mention The Wall, except to promise that it would keep heroin out of New Hampshire and that it would be “as good looking as possible.” His biggest applause line, in fact, came when he griped about the fact that an enclosed hotel ballroom packed with 1200 bodies might get a little warm after two hours. Because he evidently doesn’t understand physics, Trump blamed the hotel itself for being inept — blurting out that he didn’t even know its name — before announcing that the owners “should be ashamed of themselves” and that if he were staying there, he’d skip out on the bill. That’s right: A man who aspires to live in the White House is now trying to earn Bad-Ass Points with his supporters by fantasizing about something equivalent to a dine-and-dash. And at the moment, this is a man who stands a 40 percent chance of winning in November.

Were the Democratic Primaries Rigged?

[ 173 ] July 26, 2016 |

hrzgal.dnc

No:

I bring these examples up in light of the new WikiLeaks revelations about staffers of the Democratic National Committee and their attitudes toward this year’s Democratic nomination race. The disclosed e-mails have been depicted as showing a rigged system that systematically undermined Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign.

But even if you believe the worst interpretations of these e-mails, the evidence is pretty mild. What we see is DNC staffers trying to spin the media in favor of Hillary Clinton and to complain to each other about Sanders. One certainly does not get the impression that the DNC staff was impartial between Clinton and Sanders — they appear biased and unprofessional — but there’s hardly evidence they materially manipulated the contest.

And also no:

Wikileaks’s tweets conjured dark and menacing conspiracies, but these are not borne out by the emails themselves. Take the group’s claim that the “DNC knew of Hillary paid troll factory attacking Sanders online.” The highlighted email isn’t some secret communication laying out nefarious plots. It’s a summary of a panel discussion on Fox News Sunday.

But forget the emails for a second. The main problem with the notion that the DNC rigged the results for Clinton is that it requires one to assume the improbable. The DNC had no role or authority in primary contests, which are run by state governments. Clinton dominated the primaries. The DNC, through state parties, had a bit more influence over caucuses … where Sanders dominated Clinton.

None of the thousands of leaked emails and documents show the DNC significantly influencing the results of the nomination. Furthermore, if it is true that last fall Clinton campaign chair John Podesta tried but failed to have DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz sacked, the underlying premise of the entire WikiLeaks dump—that Wasserman Schultz machinated to deliver Clinton the nomination—is hard to believe.

The main direct consequences of the WikiLeaks dump have been the resignation of Wasserman Schultz—which will probably relieve the Clinton team as much as satisfy Sanders supporters—and tut-tutting from the press, which sees something nefarious in the DNC strategizing how to get favorable press or grousing about a campaign accusing it of corruption.

When the best evidence you have of a conspiracy is a not notably influential staffer making a dumb and offensive suggestion that was not acted on because it was dumb and offensive…there’s no conspiracy.

Kinky Linkin’

[ 57 ] July 25, 2016 |

Even this won’t get me clean after having watched the RNC

 

Here a few Monday links for your evening perusal:

  • OK, we may never completely solve the mystery that is the text on the sides of the Dr. Bronner’s soap bottles…but do we really want to?
  • My longtime internet pal and all-around awesome guy, Big Bad Bald Bastard talks about the scammier side of Trump and his supporters. They’ll cure your butt cancer! Oh no, wait: they are butt cancer.
  • Somebody has proven that “Atheism has failed!” Is there anything feminism can’t ruin? I mean, first Ghostbusters, now an entire philosophy? Bitches be busy.
  • The Republican convention boosted biz for a Cleveland dungeon. Lemme show you my shocked face. Oh no, that’s not my shocked face, that’s my resting smug and world-weary face. Let’s Make America Kinky !
  • I’ve got two new pieces up, “Defiance Creek” and “Menu.”

What are the sources of Trump’s support?

[ 165 ] July 25, 2016 |

h and t

I agree with Scott that polls taken a couple of days after a convention mean almost nothing in regard to predicting who will win an election that’s still more than three months away. I also agree with him that Clinton should still be considered a solid to heavy favorite because Trump appears to be both a uniquely awful and incompetent candidate (he still has nothing resembling a normal campaign organization, nor is there any evidence that he’s raising real money).

Still, we now have several recent polls which show Clinton and Trump essentially tied in regard to the national popular vote. And although this fact has in itself very little predictive significance, it’s still plenty depressing for other reasons.

There’s a famous garbled anecdote, misused by right wing pundits as a supposed example of out of touch left wing intellectuals failing to predict elections, regarding how Pauline Kael said she couldn’t understand how Nixon beat McGovern when everybody she knew voted for McGovern. OK, but . . . Donald Trump??? How is it possible that he’s polling even with Clinton at present? Potential explanations, from least to most disturbing:

(1) A general anti-establishment mood in the electorate, that’s hurting uber-establishment candidate HRC. To the extent this explains Trump’s popularity, then it’s like that somebody like Warren would be killing him.

(2) Low information partisan responses. Relative to the average person who posts or comments on political blogs, most people pay essentially no attention to the details of day to day politics, or the actual positions espoused by particular candidates. On this account, Trump’s support has little to do with anything about him other than that he’s not the Democrat Party’s candidate.

(3) Hatred of Clinton specifically. Part of this is a product of 25 years of GOP hysteria with its endless fake scandals, etc. Part of it is no doubt old fashioned misogyny. Part of it is that Clinton has shown poor judgment/a political tin ear on a number of issues, such as taking millions of dollars from banksters for giving a few speeches on the eve of her presidential run. I think one reason people swooned for Kaine so much on Saturday was simply that he wasn’t Clinton, and a lot of people are suffering from Clinton fatigue, for both bad and good reasons.

(4) Ethno-nationalist nativism, soft version. “I’m not a racist but . . .” (I hate PC, immigrants are taking our jobs, I hate the bilingual signs at Home Depot, yeah Trump says some bad things but Hillary” etc etc).

(5) Ethno-nationalist nativism, hard version. “I believe in white supremacy. If that makes me a racist then I guess I’m a racist.”

Obviously all these things are factors in the astonishing fact that at the moment nearly half the American electorate (and fully half of the electorate once you toss out votes for Gary Johnson and Jill Stein) is made up of people who say they’re going to vote for Trump. The extent to which the factors at the top of the list predominate determine whether something other than deep pessimism about the overall political situation is warranted. What that extent actually is I have no idea.

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