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The Great Pumpkin Moderate Republican President Is Coming!

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Zaid Jilani, who is paid to write about politics ostensibly from the left, actually tweeted this:

Screen Shot 2017-02-23 at 12.51.15 PM

So, let me get this straight:

  • Donald Trump had a great infrastructure plan (note: it wasn’t.) He was totally committed to it.
  • Through a mysterious mechanism that will probably never be identified, his administration became packed with finance executives.
  • After their spontaneous appearance in meetings with Trump, these alien finance executives “shut down” Donald Trump’s very serious infrastructure plan.
  • Their mechanism for “shutting down” the plan was to make an argument, which Trump agreed with.
  • Even had these finance executives who mysteriously appeared in meetings with Trump had not been able to “shut down” Trump’s secret plan to create a new PWA by arguing that it was a bad idea and Trump agreeing with their arguments, I would ask how anyone could possibly think there was the slightest chance in hell the proposal would be enacted by Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, only I’m not sure Jilani knows who these people are.

And to add to the comedy, I’d bet Euros to pesos that like many of his buddies Jilani is firmly convinced that Obama, who by this point in his first term had actually signed a major New Deal-style infrastructure program, is a Reaganite shill for capital because he was unable to get multiple Republican votes (not to mention Lieberman, Bayh, Nelson, etc. etc.) for a trillion-dollar stimulus.

I will grant that Jilani’s faith in Republicans is towards the extreme end (Trump is going to stick it to big pharma! And he totally would have done it if the Goldman Sachs people Hillary Clinton forced him to pack is executive branch with didn’t force him to back down!)  But this is part of a broader phenomenon. Trying to minimize the historically yooooge and increasing differences between the parties obviously involves a lot of lying and distortion about Democrats. But it also involves applying a much more charitable standard towards Republicans — the slightest crumb thrown by even a completely obvious fraud like Rand Paul, say, is glommed onto as hope for a Principled Alternative to the Democrat Party.  “The ACA was a Republican plan” is a bullshit argument because it understates what statute accomplished, but it’s also bullshit because it’s massively too generous to the national Republican Party, whose offer to the uninsured has always been either “nothing” or “worse than nothing.” (Cf. also “Hillary Clinton is a moderate Republican.”)

Hence, we get stuff like this:

Screen Shot 2017-02-23 at 2.17.38 PM

So, the the hope that the Republican Party will turn in a populist direction is be based on 1)two statutes passed by a Democratic Congress with veto-proof majorities and signed by a Republican president who would be either noncompetitive for the Republican nomination today or very different in their political stance, and 2)actions that happened more than 100 years ago. In conclusion, it’s very surprising that Donald Trump hasn’t governed as a New Dealer. But I’m sure the next Republican president will totally deliver the goods!

…as noted in comments, another classic of the genre. Yes, it truly mysterious why the left has not “won slots” in the Republican Party and why it is not trying to do so. Similarly, it’s hard to understand why the NAACP in the 50s decided to invest in litigation rather than lobbying the South Carolina legislature.

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  • Gregor Sansa

    How could he forget the National Park system?

    Answer: to mention that and the EPA would be giving too much importance to concerns about the environment; however laudable such special-interest concerns may be, we must keep a sense of balance.

  • Warren Terra

    the ADA was signed by [a] Republican

    No-one tell Jilani, he’ll be too disappoint.

  • DamnYankees

    I just genuinely don’t understand people sometimes. Like, I don’t know this dude. He could be an awesome guy. But what, fundamentally, is the principle that he sees himself working towards? I truly, genuinely, honestly don’t understand it. I actually understand conservatives. I understand reactionaries. I sort of understand genuine white nationalists.

    I don’t understand this.

    • SatanicPanic

      Some people are too invested in the Democratic party being wrong.

      • DamnYankees

        The Democratic Party can be wrong without this sort of stupidity.

        • SatanicPanic

          But if you’re sufficiently mad at Democrats then everything they do is evidence of how bad they are. If you’re like this, I am not.

        • tsam

          The Democratic Party can be wrong without this sort of stupidity.

          You’re kinda mixing up a grip on reality with a seething hatred for the entire Democratic party, while claiming to be liberal/leftist.

          These people don’t HAVE any values–they’re just maladjusted, loudmouthed, pseudo-intellectual pricks who think they’re smarter and better than everyone else.

          • NoMoreAltCenter

            These people don’t HAVE any values–they’re just maladjusted, loudmouthed, pseudo-intellectual pricks who think they’re smarter and better than everyone else.

            Even I don’t have THAT harsh of an opinion of the Democratic Party

      • LeeEsq

        The most succinct explanation possible. The Far Right decided to latch themselves onto the Republicans and make them in their own image. A lot of the Left maintains a disdain for the Democratic Party that is almost at Cold War levels.

        • DamnYankees

          I don’t see how this explains the need to be soft on Trump.

          • LeeEsq

            They hate the Democratic Party more than they hate Trump and the Republicans.

          • tsam

            YOU spend an election season making the laughable assertion that Hillary Clinton is any way comparable to racist, rapist, incompetent talking poop. He has to do this to defend what he said–“I know I said Hillary was just as bad, BUT LOOK, TRUMP IS OK HILLARY WOULD STILL BE WORSE”

            They have two choices–
            1) Admit they were being stupid by saying Clinton and Trump are equally bad and take their lumps

            2) Try to rationalize Trump so it isn’t so plainly obvious that they’re complete morons who should really just shut the fuck up.

            • Scott Lemieux

              Right. When you invested as much time in hyping up inane bullshit about Hillary Clinton as Jilani, it’s hard not to also convince yourself that Trump won’t be that bad, or at least wouldn’t have been that bad had completely unforeseeable conservative elements in his administration would let him do what he wanted.

    • D.N. Nation

      Fredo deBoer famously argued that his defense of massive racist/rich, shitty NBA owner Donald Sterling was rooted in leftist sensibilities.

      “I am cool and you are not.” That’s the only principle at stake. They’re hamfisted in its execution merely because they’re morons.

    • liberalpragmatist

      Zaid’s a weird guy who sometimes has interesting insights on Desi culture/politics and from some of his recent tweets on the New Deal seems to have some historical awareness. (Pointed out that the New Deal started out as centrist and corporatist and that FDR was pushed to the left by labor and pressure by the left.)

      The *most* charitable interpretation is that he thinks the left should be largely independent from both parties, the better to pressure both sides. (Similar to the early 20th C. progressives.)

      Of course, the other interpretation is that he’s just kind of a contrarian/troll, who reserves most of his outrage for people closer to him ideologically and that justifying that means minimizing the policies of the right.

      • ΧΤΠΔ

        But we already have Jeet Heer.

        • Domino

          Farhad Manjoo once tweeted out that if Hillary won (was several months before the election) she should consider a right-leaning justice to the SCOTUS, as a peace offering to Congressional Republicans.

      • D.N. Nation

        The *most* charitable interpretation is that he thinks the left should be largely independent from both parties, the better to pressure both sides.

        Of course, if this is the way Zaid wants to see the playing field, he’s assuming a multiverse-level of facts not in evidence.

      • humanoid.panda

        The *most* charitable interpretation is that he thinks the left should be largely independent from both parties, the better to pressure both sides. (Similar to the early 20th C. progressives.)

        This interpretation, of course, necessitates to point out that his historical awareness is nil: the left only made real progress when it became integrated into the Democratic party.

      • Warren Terra

        Pointing out the limitations and prejudices of The New Deal is worth doing and is part of an important lesson about the sad realities of incremental progress even when the progress has often been described as transformative – but it’s a lot less interesting if it’s all part of a nonstop refrain about how the Democrats only ever suck, they’re the real problem, and why bother.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Right. The thing is, AFICT nobody on the left disagrees that Dems need to be pressured from the left. The logic of Jilani’s current analysis is that the only way for the left to make progress would be to refused to vote for FDR in 1932 and 1936.

          • Abbey Bartlet

            And I bet no one here did vote for FDR in 1932 or 1936, so checkmate.

            • njorl

              Maybe efgoldman, but other than that, no one.

              • Warren Terra

                To have voted in 1936 you’d have to have be 101 going on 102 now, and a dude. EFGoldman is a dude, but not I think a centenarian.

                • wjts

                  You’d have to be a centenarian, yes, but not a dude.

                • Warren Terra

                  Whups. I was thinking: born in 1915; Ladies couldn’t vote in 1915. But of course ladies could vote in 1936, even if they were born unable ever to vote.

          • NoMoreAltCenter

            It is still essentially a political distinction – because there are a lot of people who are less comfortable with pressure from the Left on certain issues than others.

            “Everyone” agrees the Dems need to be pressured, but everyone here also seems to feel that it needs to be done out of a spirit of total loyalty to the party.

            • Scott Lemieux

              but everyone here also seems to feel that it needs to be done out of a spirit of total loyalty to the party.

              This is either trivially true (yes, people should vote for the viable general election candidate furthest to the left, who in the 21st century will virtually always be a Democrat, but this is not a requirement for “total loyalty”) or it is transparently false.

            • Abbey Bartlet

              Not loyalty to the party. Loyalty to winning elections so we can actually implement our agenda. Asshole.

            • tsam

              There is a huge difference between “pressure from the left” and constant insinuations that voting for a Democrat like Hilary Clinton means we aren’t liberal enough.

              The loyalty to the party (at least speaking for myself–but I’d bet for most others here) begins and ends with the fact that they are one of the two political parties who wield exactly 100% of the political power in America, and they’re getting better with time.

              You guys come in here and snidely remind everyone that Bill Clinton and Al Gore weren’t all that liberal. We fucking know that. But we also know we live in a country full of uninformed and/or actively evil people who hate liberals and we don’t have a choice but to compete for power with them. That means being able to pick off the political center, and while it appears that this day is coming, it hasn’t arrived yet.

              Your efforts would be better spent trying to move the political center to the left, rather than come in here and defend brocialists who are actively sabotaging anti-bigotry politics for a strictly class equality platform. That’s leaving way too many people behind, and most people here aren’t willing to do that.

      • Rob in CT

        This would explain comparing Trump to TR, I guess.

  • Yep, Donald Trump talked a good game but when it came to action he got totally shut down by those Goldman Sachs officials who somehow got appointed in spite of all his talking about draining the swamp. It’s like he’s not really in charge at all! Sad!

    • John F

      Trump doesn’t even talk a good game, the talk about a Trillion Dollar infrastructure SOMETHING came from Bannon.

  • ΧΤΠΔ

    Here’s another SHIT LIGHTNING take from Jilani (h/t Sean McElwee).

    • Abbey Bartlet

      Sean McElwee is a goddamn gem.

    • Holy mother of cod. Without the McElwee snark filter that take would have melted my face.

    • Scott Lemieux

      That one actually singed my eyebrows. I mean, maybe he’s good at reporting on certain topics, but if you don’t understand why the left isn’t trying to win within the Republican Party you should never write about legislative or electoral politics ever.

    • Redwood Rhiadra

      This tweet absolutely proves Jilani must be some sort of bizarre performance artist. I mean, no one could *possibly* be that stupid. Right?

      Right?

      [sobs…]

  • Rob in CT

    Oh, Scott, you hippy-puncher you.

    More seriously… are people stupid enough to go with Jilani’s take? I mean, the article he’s pushing clearly indicates that Trump went straight to Goldman for economic advice and followed it.

    • Harkov311

      you mean, Trump lied when he said he was against the establishment? No way!

    • Scott Lemieux

      My favorite part of the tweet is how he generously provides the material to refute his thesis. You don’t even have to click the link to see how absurd his reading is.

  • Abbey Bartlet

    TOTALLY off-topic, but does anyone know if there’s a way to hide (or resize?) the banner at the top? It covers a solid third of my little baby MacBook Air’s screen, and I can’t see if there are new comments without scrolling, which is mildly annoying when trying to keep up with them. I was thinking there might be a Chrome extension that hides images or something?

  • D.N. Nation

    INTERCEPT SCOOP: DIDJA KNOW LINCOLN WAS A REPUBLICAN

    • ΧΤΠΔ

      Someone order a rescue mission for Murtaza, Liliana, Jeremy & Biddle.

    • Abbey Bartlet

      Democrats founded the KKK!

      • Won’tcha flyyyyyyyy-YYYYYY, Robert Byrd yeah! (Guitar solo.)

        • Domino

          The fact that he changed his views, attempted to make amends for his past deeds for decades of his life, and being honored by the NAACP at his funeral prove that leftists are the real racist, DONTCHYAKNOW??!!!??

  • Hogan

    But I’m sure the next Republican president will totally deliver the goods!

    “Hey, give Trump a chance!”

    –Zaid Jilani, 10/31/2020

  • John F

    So, the the hope that the Republican Party will turn in a populist direction is be based on 1)two statutes passed by a Democratic Congress with veto-proof majorities and signed by a Republican president who would be either noncompetitive for the Republican nomination today or very different in their political stance, and 2)actions that happened more than 100 years ago.

    This makes sense if you see politics in tribal terms, your side/my side, rather than actual policies per se.

    The fact is some people see the GOP as their party, the party that looks out for them (and people like them) – and that sense of identity is virtually divorced from the policies actually espoused by the respective parties.

    the GOP could in fact overnight adopt a liberal position on something (tax hikes on the rich- yes I know they won’t)- and while the elite donors and the RedState holdouts would scream bloody murder- the rank and file GOP voter would go along without a word in protest, their party is for it, that’s a-okay with them.

    They will oppose something the Dems support, and turn around IMMEDIATELY and support it if the GOP does- and will be honestly baffled (before they get angry) if accused of hypocrisy or inconsistency [If the GOP is for it, then it’s good, if the Dems are for it, it’s bad- if the GOP supports something the Dems did then either the thing is not really the same, or the Dem support was in bad faith or something, that’s the only options they see]

    We have always been at war with East Asia- the number of righties who have suddenly decided that Russia is ok with them is simply stunning (BTW the Israelis should be terrified- if a GOP President really was an anti-Semite – Pat Buchanan model- and took it out on Israel- they’d be screwed the bulk of the GOP would do a 180 and go along quite readily)

    • Murc

      the GOP could in fact overnight adopt a liberal position on something (tax hikes on the rich- yes I know they won’t)- and while the elite donors and the RedState holdouts would scream bloody murder- the rank and file GOP voter would go along without a word in protest, their party is for it, that’s a-okay with them.

      You may want to pick a better analogy. The rank and file GOP voters, like most Americans, are, in fact, already bang in favor of tax hikes for the rich.

      • Rob in CT

        This is one of these things that I wonder about, though. They SAY that, but then vote for people whose top priority is the opposite.

        ETA: here’s a guess as to what’s going on with that.

        Fact the first: most Americans, and I’d wager GOPers more than others, think that taxes are more progressive than they actually are.

        Fact the second: most Americans, and I’d wager GOPers more than most, think that income/wealth disparity is much less severe than it is.

        Thus, when asked in the abstract about taxing the rich, they’re for it. But it’s not an important issue for rank & file GOP voters.

        • Murc

          Well, the thing is, they care about other things more. Like, if you care about putting the boot into black folks more than taxing the rich, you’ll vote for Republicans, but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t prefer they do both.

        • David Allan Poe

          The real answer is that they believe that they themselves are highly taxed and lazy black people and illegal immigrants, who are the only other people who live in America, are not. The majority of people I hear say anything at all about taxes are utterly ignorant about the most basic facts.

          People in Alaska, which has no personal income tax and which is in fact one of the most lightly taxed states in the Union, are happy to go on and on about how much tax they have to pay. Attempting to explain anything at all about how and why marginal tax rates work just leads to thrown up hands and muttering about how they have to pay a lot of taxes.

          I would suggest that a semester of basic principles of taxation should be mandatory in all public schools, but I can come up with all sorts of other hilarious shit that will never happen too.

          • ForkyMcSpoon

            The number of people who think that going into a higher tax bracket can mean you end up with a lower post-tax income is depressingly high.

            My goal is to get one of them to bet me money that that’s how it works next time.

        • njorl

          They are in favor of tax increases on the rich. When tax increases on the rich are proposed, Republican leaders tell them that Democrats are raising their taxes. The tribalism comes into play in that they believe what lies their leaders tell them.

    • kvs

      The fact is some people see the GOP as their party, the party that looks out for them (and people like them) – and that sense of identity is virtually divorced from the policies actually espoused by the respective parties. parties.

      More like “most people have a partisan identity that is virtually divorced from the policies actually espoused.” This is why people’s policy views mostly tend to shift to match their representatives’ over time.

      This is repeatedly shown in the academic studies of partisanship, though there are examples where it works in the reverse with broad cultural shifts like the recent trends on marriage equality and marijuana legalization.

    • Pyramid Scheme

      This is what is most frustrating about criticisms that the Democratic Party is insufficiently mindful of the needs of the “working class”. Democrats could propose worker friendly and working poor friendly policies until they are blue in the face, and be rewarded with nothing but scorn from conservative whites who will accuse them of demonizing the wealthy, or being hostile to business, or of creating moral hazards that will cause the poor to not want to be upwardly mobile.

      Then a “populist” Republican comes along and all of a sudden they remember that they are the trodden upon working class, and the Democrats have been the ones who have enabled their oppression!! It does seem tribal to me, no question. And it also helps that the populist in question pairs his ideas with extreme racism.

      • Murc

        This is what is most frustrating about criticisms that the Democratic Party is insufficiently mindful of the needs of the “working class”. Democrats could propose worker friendly and working poor friendly policies until they are blue in the face, and be rewarded with nothing but scorn from conservative whites

        “Conservative whites” =/ “the working class.”

  • John F

    I had never heard of this guy, went to his twitter feed and… I’m honestly baffled that someone can be this stupid and yet apparently still know how to read and write(type),

    Anyway, I love how he thinks the ex-President most similar to Trump is Teddy Roosevelt.

    Apparently because Teddy one punched a guy…

    • Rob in CT

      It’s pretty funny, given that not only is the obvious historical example Andrew Jackson, but Trump agrees with this (he hung a portrait of him in the Oval Office).

    • Warren Terra

      To be fair, TR’s progressive rhetoric was pretty empty too – especially the trust-busting, which he largely left up to his successor actually to do.

      • Scott Lemieux

        This excellent parody of sports talk blowhards discussing WWII actually makes a good point: “Taft busted trusts. Teddy just had a big mouth.” Although the real comic gold is the “FDR was a compiler” riff that precedes it…

  • (((Malaclypse)))

    At some point, I’d argue that “Goldman Sachs” is a pseudo-leftist way of saying “Jew.”

    • DAS

      Yep. And leftists wonder why many of us Jews don’t trust them or heed what they have to say about Israel?

      And isn’t it convenient that Trump was gonna do something but then a certain Mr. Cohn from Goldman Sachs stabbed Trump’s plan in the back? The Trump administration is setting things up so Jews will get blamed when things inevitably go wrong. But Trump is Pro-Israel(TM), so we Jews should all support him?

      • Abbey Bartlet

        My new inner monologue:

        Me: Holy shit Israel is doing terrible things.
        Also me: I may need to move to Israel.

        • Abbey Bartlet

          Also, too, please note that this was what Zaid felt was important to focus on less than a week after the election.

        • Murc

          Although on the plus side your presence there would, of course, marginally improve Israeli politics by the strength of one (1) Abbey Bartlet.

          Although given the way the world has been working lately, you and a bunch of other left-wing Jews might emigrate to Israel just in time for the Likudniks to do something so grotesque and crazy that it becomes an international pariah state. Wouldn’t that be fun!

          • Abbey Bartlet

            Awwww, I’m touched, Murc.

          • your presence there would, of course, marginally improve Israeli politics

            I’ve actually been thinking stuff along these lines. One of the ways that the Israeli right has been justifying their indifference to the increase in anti-semitism in the US, and the presence of Nazis in the white house, is “well, they should all come to Israel anyway”. I keep thinking that if that actually happens, it could have far-reaching electoral consequences that no one in the current coalition actually wants.

            • Abbey Bartlet

              I’ve had that discussion with a few people as well.

        • That’s funny. My immediate reaction after the election was that my US passport no longer counted as “where you run to”, and I should look into whether I can get a German one.

          Of course, if I can, it’s because Germany stripped my grandfather of his citizenship, shortly before murdering his parents. So, you know, that’s where we’re at right now.

          • Thom

            You can. A friend who is the child of a refugee from Nazi Germany did so a few years ago, and so did his kids. So now, ironically, Germany is their potential place of refuge. This is also true (without the refugee connection) of another American Jewish friend of mine, who married a German citizen in the US.

      • LeeEsq

        In November 2015 or November 2016, the CUNY branch of Students for Justice in Palestine joined an anti-tuition increase protest and blamed the tuition hike on the “Zionist Administration” of CUNY. The number of Jews fooled by this was zero.

    • Warren Terra

      As long as you’re keeping an eye out for code words often meaning “Jew”, did you hear about the CPAC speaker who denounced a century-old conspiracy to undermine the West (read: Christian Europe) between Islam and the Bolsheviks?

      • DAS

        I remember reading something Pam Geller wrote about Halal meat slaughtering practices. It was pretty much an hoary, standard anti-Semitic libel about Shechita (Kosher slaughtering practices) with a few key words changed. The right, including sadly more than a couple Jews, is literally taking anti-Semitic propaganda and making slight changes so it applies (ostensibly) to Muslims rather than Jews.

        • Warren Terra

          Some European countries have for a long time made kosher butchering illegal, supposedly on animal cruelty grounds, and more are contemplating making halal and kosher butchering illegal on anti-refugee-crisis populist grounds.

        • Murc

          I forget; are all things that are halal also kosher, or is it the other way around? Or is it both?

          • Warren Terra

            My understanding – as a non-Muslim and a secular Jew – is that observant Muslims will eat Kosher meat (because it follows all the relevant rules) but observant Jews will not eat Halal meat (because there are rules about Rabbinical inspection, beyond the actual procedures). I don’t know if the rules for Halal meat, other than the inspection part, are as strict.

            • sigaba

              Doesn’t a kosher butcher have to give the foreleg of each animal to a priest as an offering? I don’t think a Halal butcher would do that.

              Agnostic raised Lutheran speaking

              • Abbey Bartlet

                Doesn’t a kosher butcher have to give the foreleg of each animal to a priest

                I would tend to doubt that…

              • Warren Terra

                We haven’t had priests, or anywhere to put them, for very nearly 2000 years, so, no.

                There is a cut of leg that’s not allowed for human consumption, but as I recall that’s because of a rule requiring the removal of sinew (or was it nervous tissue?), which can’t easily be done from that cut.

                • sigaba

                  I don’t mean a priest, what’s the other term? Kohen. A kohen is supposed to receive a foreleg and the cheeks.

                  The other thing you’re talking about is the removal of the sciatic nerve, which is a distinct thing.

                  (After reviewing wikipedia this appears to be something only the haredi and Lubavichers in my old neighborhood would worry about.)

                • Warren Terra

                  Priests are Cohenim (I’m a bit unclear whether the reverse is automatically true), and there are special rules Cohens have to follow (not marrying divorcees for example), but I’ve never heard of special perks for Cohenim, not since the temple. Secular Jew, though.

                • DAS

                  Sephardim and Mizrachim claim their butchers can cut away the relevant tissues (it’s nervous tissue, certain fat and some other stuff). Some Ashkenazim won’t eat anything from the rear half of the animal.

                  This is why, even though she doesn’t actually eat meat, I tend to let my melanically enhanced wife shop at certain kosher butchers. They will sell cuts of meat to her that they wouldn’t sell to a pale Ashkenazic Jew like me.

                  There is a separate thing about what the priests get to eat, but that part is no longer relevant (given there is no Temple) as far as I know.

                  In short, what sigaba said.

            • nixnutz

              Because they both require the slaughter to be performed by a member of the religion and for prayers to be offered you can’t have both certifications at once, but Wikipedia says that Muslims do have an exception specifically for kosher meat because they’re similar enough both in method and concept.

            • DAS

              I think that Kosher requirements are indeed stricter than Halal requirements in general, but the Islamic law requires that the slaughterer recite a prayer before slaughtering each animal while Jewish law requires an equivalent prayer only be recited at the beginning of the work day and then after each break (there are a couple of other ways in which Muslims are stricter than Jews — in particular about pork avoidance … but most Jewish practice on such matters is as strict as Islamic practice). Islamic religious authorities consider that since Kosher meat would otherwise be Halal, they don’t require that Jewish slaughterers say the prayer with the frequency required by Islamic law so long as they observe their own religious law about saying the prayer.

              I wish that Jewish authorities would make a similar exemption for Halal meat: that Muslim slaughterers do not need to follow Rabbinical stringencies and that so long as they follow their own laws their meat is kosher. I wish this because I really, really like goat meat but it is very, very hard to find kosher goat meat for some bizarre reason. One complication, though, is that kosher laws forbid mixing meat and milk whereas Islamic law generally does not. Also, certain animals are Halal but not Kosher. So I guess my proposed exemption would have to only be for purchasing uncooked meat from kosher animals.

    • LeeEsq

      Goldman Sachs, bankers, and other related words has always been a pseudo-leftist dog whistle for Jews. During the financial crisis, there were all sorts of old imagery that emerged during the Left.

    • Harkov311

      Yeah, now that you mention it, I do find it a button odd that they always name-drop Goldman Sachs, as if it’s the only investment bank in the world. I have to imagine that the stereotypically Jewish names have something to do with it, for some people at least.

      • Murc

        To be fair: a lot of people use Goldman as this sort of shorthand because while the global financial system was imploding all around us and their competitors, they walked off with fat sacks of cashing owing to how they’d gotten out of the game first and took greatest advantage of the disgusting bailout.

  • Murc

    Those of us who are old enough will recall seeing precisely these sorts of articles under Bush. “Bush wanted to do X, but Cheney told him no, and so that was that.” “Bush wanted to do X, but his Daddies foreign policy team had other ideas, so he was shut down.”

    They’re premised on the idea that the President isn’t really in charge; that he’s a helpless, idiotic child and will do the bidding of whatever adult is currently holding his leash. And now we’re seeing it with Trump; “Oh, Bannon is the REAL President.”

    Now, to a certain extent this kind of stuff can make sense. Being surrounded by a staff of people who are all telling you “no, you shouldn’t do this, because of these reasons” really will make a big difference to a lot of people. Dysfunctional culture and groupthink are real things.

    But it is also, and to a much larger extent, conspiratorial thinking. The difference between “Trump isn’t really President, Bannon and Goldman Sachs are” and “Freemasons run the country!” is one of degree, not one of kind. Trump and Bush weren’t, and aren’t, Antonio Salazar. They’re not being kept in an apartment and told they’re still in charge when they actually are not. Trump is actually in charge. Moreover, unlike Bush, who was often happy to go along to get along, Trump’s modus operandi is as a hands-on operator who if he doesn’t like what he’s hearing, and is balked, simply smashed on through, firing people if necessary. That’s not a fabricated reputation; that’s how he works.

    It is the case that Trump is appallingly ignorant. Yes. But that doesn’t make the story “Trump wanted to do X, but was shut down.” It makes the story “Trump had an idiotic plan to do X that he had no understanding of the consequences and requirements of, and now he’s against it.” And that’s assuming the people talking to him gave him an accurate view of what was required; it rather appears instead they simply told him “this plan would violate Republican orthodoxy” and he went “Wow! Really?” In which case the story is “Trump is a Republican after all.”

    But the point is that Trump has agency. If he was persuaded by bad arguments, that’s the story. If he was persuaded by ideological or political arguments, that’s also the story. The story is always about what decisions Trump made, because Trump is in charge. Trump is a grown-ass man! He’s not a child, no matter how much we want to treat him like one or how much he acts like one.

    Christ.

    • DamnYankees

      Notice, also, that no one ever wrote about Clinton or Obama this way. You would often get stories of disagreement among the staff, or areas where Obama thought one way and his advisors another, but I don’t ever call seeing stories framed as “Obama wanted to do X but was prevented from doing it by his own staff”. The agency was always with Obama. As it should be.

      • DAS

        It was Truman who said “the buck stops here”. Truman was a Democrat. Therefore that principal only applies to Democrats.

        Republicans are the party of “personal responsibility”. Because they talk about the importance of “personal responsibility” all the time, that absolves them of the need to actually practice it.

        • Tzimiskes

          Something I have come to realize is that what Republicans mean by personal responsibility is that you are only responsible for what an action does to you personally and not for what happens to other people. FYIGM and privatize gains ans socialize losses is 100% compatible with this conception of personal responsibility.

          Also, it flows from this that it’s not their problem that sane people misinterpret personal responsibility as meaning being responsible for all the consequences of your actions rather than the approved right wing interpretation. Just another instance of us imposing our elitist, socialist values on hard working right thinking deplorables.

      • Rob in CT

        There was a bit of Clinton talked Obama into Libya stuff. And I mean, she was on the pro side of the argument. But reasonable people have to agree that POTUS makes the call (and hires the advisors).

        • Abbey Bartlet

          But that was largely used to attack her, not to protect him.

          • Rob in CT

            Yes, true.

      • D.N. Nation

        Not exactly no one. “Valerie Jarrett is pulling the strings” was a constant nutter refrain during the Obama administration. And while those people are paste-eating ridiculous, they’ve got the ear of the current President, so

      • Others have mentioned Clinton on Libya and Valerie Jarrett, but the one other Obama case I can think of is ARRA — the commonly accepted story there is that Larry Summers intervened to prevent Obama from seeing Christina Romer’s proposal for a $1.2 trillion stimulus, and that’s occasionally been used to both defend Obama (it was Larry Summers’ fault!) and attack him (Obama appointed Larry Summers!).

    • John F

      They’re premised on the idea that the President isn’t really in charge; that he’s a helpless, idiotic child and will do the bidding of whatever adult is currently holding his leash. And now we’re seeing it with Trump; “Oh, Bannon is the REAL President.”

      This meme is thousands of years old, “The King wouldn’t allow this if he knew it was going on!”

      In some times and places, it is true, the President/King is an [almost] powerless figurehead – that has never been true of any US President, it is of course not remotely true of Trump- no one can tell him “no” (literally and figuratively) he can OTOH be persuaded* (manipulated) and he does not pay attention to details.

      *I would think the key thing for anyone in the WH who wants influence, is when they get some face time:
      1. Never criticise him
      2. Pander/Flatter like hell
      3. Pay attention to whatever Trump wants to talk about in that moment and talk about that (no matter what it is).

      • Murc

        This meme is thousands of years old, “The King wouldn’t allow this if he knew it was going on!”

        Steven Attewell, if we can coax him into the thread, would have much and more to say about the historicity and social context of the “evil councilors” line of attack against monarchies. The TLDR version is that in a society or context where you aren’t allowed to attack the King directly, because they’re annointed by God or for any other reason, you assign the blame to their advisors, who are simply men.

        • kvs

          This scans with the conservative need for an infallible, authoritarian leader.

          But Democrats aren’t immune from something similar. The version for Obama was that he was playing 3-D chess and we just couldn’t follow the moves.

          • DAS

            3-D? Don’t you mean 11-D?

    • kvs

      Sure Trump has agency. He goes to Twitter whenever he thinks his staff aren’t doing a good enough job getting him positive press. And when it gets really bad, he has a press conference over their objections.

      But that’s also to say that Trump is a narcissist with childish, impulsive responses to stimuli. He wasn’t interested enough in the infrastructure plan to throw a tantrum when he was told no. As opposed to the Muslim ban and the wall. Talking about these responses as conscious decisions is probably less accurate than talking about them as behavior.

      It’s easier to parse everything through the filter of what he’s personally invested in, even if that may change day to day or even by the minute. The infrastructure plan was never part of his core identity and brand. The Muslim ban and the wall are.

    • pseudalicious

      Unless he’s got dementia.

    • tsam

      This–all of it…

      Though I’d point out that the “BANNIN IS REALZ PREZNIT” stuff was more of tactic for trolling Trump into firing him or at least sidelining him, which…really never had a chance of working.

      But the idea that Trump isn’t in charge and responsible for the administration’s actions and words is pretty silly. Same with Bush Jr.

    • Harkov311

      Indeed. I remember those same arguments being used about Bush, and I also thought they were false. I think the most charitable reading is the one you presented: Trump/Bush wanted to do X, until they had staff explain to them what doing X would really mean, then they decided they were against it.

      And as others note, it’s not like those bank guys just mysteriously appeared in Trump’s staff. He invited them in, presumably because he agrees with them.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Agreed. I always hated that “Cheney/Bush” formulation, and that goes triple for people who spent 2000 saying that Bush was really a harmless moderate.

      • Abbey Bartlet

        I maintain that this entire presidency was orchestrated by Dubya to make himself look good.

      • NoMoreAltCenter

        The problem with Bush wasn’t really how far right he was.

    • njorl

      If only the czar knew what terrible things those cossacks do.

    • CP

      There’s a difference between “Bush/Trump has no agency and is a helpless man-child” and “Bush/Trump is a lazy, intellectually incurious peckerhead who prefers to defer to and leave much of the business of government to more interested insiders like Cheney and Bannon.”

  • Harkov311

    Jesus tap-dancing Christ, am I really going to keep hearing the “but Nixon created the EPA” until my death? I love how they never mention that it was presented to him with veto-proof majorities.

    • Hob

      Well, that’s at least better than “Nixon tried to give us single-payer, but Ted Kennedy stopped him.” I’m actually surprised that that one didn’t catch on more widely – I forget where my Facebook acquaintance got it, but it had this kind of insane purity of wrongness that I thought was kind of impressive in its own way and might have given it staying power.

  • imissopus

    What’s kind of amazing – or would be to me, if I was not already aware that Zaid is an enormous fucking idiot – is that this passage highlights nothing about the merits of Trump’s infrastructure plan. Rather, it shows just how clueless he is about the enormous gaps between his campaign rhetoric and how government spending works in the real world. He spent over a year whining about the U.S. debt, which we wouldn’t have if not for “bad deals” made by Democrats. But he also promised to rebuild infrastructure, which if done by the government, is paid for with deficit spending that gets piled onto that huge debt. That’s pretty elementary stuff, and the fact he only realized it when someone from Goldman Sachs explained it to him three weeks after the election speaks very poorly of him, not the guy from Goldman Sachs.

  • NoMoreAltCenter

    Jilani has been very disappointing lately, tbh

    • Scott Lemieux

      He’s a vehicle for comity on the left!

      • NoMoreAltCenter

        I have been legitimately surprised that people here have had more moral clarity re: punching Nazis than people like Jilani and Lee Fang

        • Abbey Bartlet

          I can only speak for myself, but while I’m not going to encourage punching Jilani and Fang, I’m also not going to get too het up about it if people do.

        • D.N. Nation

          I have been legitimately surprised

          Says a lot, really.

  • kped

    He’s on Twitter today making the case that it’s Hollywoods fault and Liberals fault for not making racist people un-racist, through the magic of the media.

    Actual Tweet:

    In all my life I never really hated gay people because when I was little I watch The Birdcage

    just…disregard what all the right wing says when any positive movie actually does come out, and boycotts of fucking cereal for showing interracial couples…as long as we can blame anyone but racist people for their beliefs, people on the alt-left are going to fuck that chicken ’till it’s dead.

    • Warren Terra

      Is The Birdcage about accepting Gay folks? I thought it was about accepting camp behavior. I mean, sure, camp behavior is a part of Gay culture. But it’s pretty obnoxious to equate them.

      Also: my memory is hazy, but isn’t the big plot point (SPOILERS) about the gay couple conspiring to shield the publicly homophobic Senator from having his newfound enlightenment exposed to the media?

      • nixnutz

        Yeah, that thing was badly dated by the time they did the remake. It’s a lot easier to make allowances for 1978 and extra camp because it’s French but ’96?

      • vic rattlehead

        Yeah, the son comes off as a huge prick. Entitled asswipe (the actor sucked too).

        Although they (Williams and Lane) come out to the Senator in the end, and the son acknowledges that they’re both his fathers. And the Senator sneaks out in drag!

        Yeah, it has not aged well politically, but I’ve got a soft spot for it. Robin Williams, Nathan Lane, Hank Azaria, Diane Wiest, and Gene Hackman fire on all cylinders. So many great lines (“Try more gum,” “This is like riding a psychotic horse towards a burning stable.”)

    • Harkov311

      I’ve never understood people who subscribe to what I call the Cable Guy Theory of media absorbtion: that whatever they see on the screen, that’s what they’ll do.

      You can’t un-racist or un-sexist or un-homophobe people just by showing depictions of them as the complete human beings they are, because they’ll just keep rationalizing and only listening to authorities they trust. Just like I’m not going to suddenly become a Stalinist communist just because I played the Soviet Union in Hearts of Iron one time.

      • kped

        It really is bizarre, and betrays a total lack of knowledge about the culture wars that have been going on for ages here. Conservatives have been railing on Hollywood for decades for trying to force their liberal beliefs on people. And yet…people are still racist. People are still sexist. Like, is it just that people don’t consume enough media? if only all the south could watch “The Birdcage” or “Moonlight” they’d stop being homophobes? I’m going to call bullshit on that, and bullshit on young Ziad’s theory.

        Really, he’s a very dumb person. The “left” online needs better representation. Jilani, FdB, 95% of Jacobin…it’s all so sad.

  • LosGatosCA

    It’s clear that the real reason that Obama had to deal with so much obstruction was that he didn’t appoint more (moderate) Republicans to his cabinet and alienated the (moderate) Republicans by appointing liberal(female!!) justices to the Supreme Court. Not to mention not letting the (moderate) Republicans let the government default on the national debt.

    It’s really despicable how extremely uncompromising Democrats are when facing (moderate) Republican proposals.

    I’m old enough to remember when Alan Greenspan told everyone that the Bush tax was needed because otherwise the national debt would be paid off and that would be a bad thing. And only 10 or so Democrats voted with the Republicans. Really missed the boat on that one.

    • vic rattlehead

      Really Obama should have asked his electors to vote for McCain. That he didn’t is evidence of his partisan perfidy.

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  • Robert Massing

    I love how a “Goldman Sachs econ chief” in the Trump White House is evidence of liberal perfidy.

  • “You’ve forced me to give up my cherished liberal infrastructure plan,” says the president. “I’ve been blindsided! That’s not what I appointed you to run the National Economic Council for! I’m so upset I think I may make you head of the Federal Reserve Bank.”

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