Home / General / Working the Refs Works

Working the Refs Works



I’ll have more on one obvious takeaway from the big Times Comey piece — the remarkable refusal of the Paper of Record to take any responsibility for the effect that the Comey letter had on the race — later. But Tomasky makes another critical point about how the major players were all reacting to Republican pressure:

The big takeaway may be that the reason everything happened the way it did is that everyone involved, from Comey up to President Obama, assumed Hillary Clinton was going to win. Their behavior was guided by that assumption.

In Comey’s case, he thought maybe he was establishing his independence toward the person who was going to be his next boss. In Obama’s case, it was maybe more that he didn’t want to be seen as interfering in an election and felt he didn’t need to because Hillary was going to win anyway.

All that strikes me as true. But here’s another takeaway for you, and I haven’t seen anyone make this point, and it’s an important one: If the Times is to be believed—and stories like this one, based on 30 interviews, might get some facts wrong but are generally accurate in the gist of what they convey—Comey was often motivated by fear. Fear of how a certain group would react.

We see in three instances that he feared the wrath of the Republicans. One, if he didn’t break precedent and speak harshly of Clinton while officially exonerating her last summer. So he spoke harshly. Two, if he didn’t announce in late October that the investigation was reopened. So he announced the investigation (which, as we learned too late, again amounted to nothing) was reopened.

And three, if the Republicans in Congress decided post-election to include him and the bureau in its inevitable Clinton witch hunts. So he beat them to the witch hunt, and finally said she was clear just as she drowned. The article doesn’t say this, but surely Comey also feared GOP wrath if he did confirm before the election that Donald Trump was under investigation too, which he finally confirmed last month.


So fear of political fallout seems to have motivated almost everything he did. Kevin Drum made this point over the weekend.

But Drum didn’t emphasize what is to me the most telling thing, which is that there is one group Comey appears not to have feared at all: Democrats.

There’s a lot in the article about the thinking that went into Comey’s statement to the media explaining why Clinton would not be charged. He called her behavior “extremely careless,” you’ll recall, and spent about 15 teeing up a federal case before announcing that there wouldn’t be one.

The Times story says that Comey’s criticism of Clinton was “intended to insulate the FBI from criticism that it was too lenient toward a Democrat.” It also notes that “by scolding Mrs. Clinton, was speaking not only to voters but to his own agents.”

But nowhere does the article say that Comey feared how Democrats would react if he raked Clinton over the rhetorical coals without bringing charges. Of course he didn’t! Democrats don’t scare anybody.

As I recall things, some Democrats expressed some outrage, but it was scattered, nothing like what the Republicans would have done had the shoe been on the other foot.

And what is true of Comey is also true of Dean Baquet. Republicans attack the media and people who opposed their interests no matter what; Democrats are  often timorous about criticizing both the press and people like Comey even when it’s eminently justified. The incentives this creates are predictable and, in 2016, disastrous.

The idea that Democrats shouldn’t criticize the media’s awful coverage of the 2016 election or Comey’s indefensible election tampering even though doing so is both politically useful and clearly correct on the merits because it would interfere with discussions of how someone who will never run for president again sucks is, in other words, absolutely insane.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • The big takeaway may be that the reason everything happened the way it did is that everyone involved, from Comey up to President Obama, assumed Hillary Clinton was going to win. Their behavior was guided by that assumption.

    Yep. And we all know what they say about ‘assume.’

    • Pat

      Maybe I should assume that the Russians are directly influencing the NY Times editorial staff.

      I think it would be irresponsible not to speculate that oligarch money can buy a bias from the Gray Lady against the candidate that the Russians hated.

      • Manny Kant

        The problem with saying this kind of stuff ironically is that you keep doing it, and then you wake up and it’s six months later and you’re Louise Mensch.

        • I would find this more problematic if so many of Mensch’ speculations hadn’t turned out to be accurate. I mean, she has some crackpot views for sure, but if she says there’s an intelligence source saying something, at this point I have pretty good faith that there really is an intelligence source somewhere that believes what she attributes to them.

          • Q.E.Dumbass

            She’s enough of an overall crackpot that the stopped-clock heuristic still applies. She’s not appreciably any more reliable a source than, say, Bill Mitchell or Ron Paul; it’s largely that one of her particular crankeries happens to have paid off in the face of recent events. (Though I suppose you could argue that a reporter or reporter-pundit that falls under the heuristic is more reliable a source than a pure pundit). Point is, her accuracy here is pretty much incidental and I wouldn’t consider her even a 10th choice on those to follow WRT the Trump-Russia connection).

            • I look at her the way I view Kurt Eichenwald: she has a lot of really questionable views, to say the least, but has done enough good reporting that I’m willing to entertain the stuff she actually credits to sources as being fairly credible. Her speculation, on the other hand, isn’t what I would consider credible at all.

              That said, yeah, there are better sources for sure.

            • Anna in PDX

              What do any of you think about Bill Palmer’s Palmer Report? Is it Mensch level conspiracy theorizing or is he more like 10 years ago Sy Hersh? I find his reports to be powerful wish fulfillment but don’t want to be unrealistic.

              • bobloblaw57

                Palmer Reports is a joke just like Mensch

  • wfrolik

    Bingo. Liberals have to learn that playing by Queensbury rules when the other side is playing in the mud *doesn’t* work. And the fact that the press bends over backwards for Republicans puts us at a huge disadvantage-the only way to counter that is push back and start putting people’s feet to the fire. The fact that Cilliza among other does sound so defensive and irrational suggests to me that we’re getting to them. So in fact does the tone from Comey and others at the FBI. But we have to keep up the pressure-increase it even if we want them to learn something.

    • sigaba

      I’m not some monster who tries to destroy everyone who disagrees with me by any means necessary. I respect reasonable people for reasonable diffrerences of opinion.

      What some people mock as Marquess of Queensbury rules other people might call the basis of Good, Accountable government by the people. You try to win by these means and it poisons everything we try to do. Abandoning “The Rules” gave Republicans the government but it also gave them Donald Trump, the only way they could hold government to the extent they do is by being corrupt morons lead by even MORE corrupt morons. What would it do to Democrats?

      And I’m not saying anything they did in 2016 is defensible but if the solution is for the Democrats to scare geezers and run sham congressional investigations, as the Republicans have, this will not avail. And the left coalition probably can’t coalesce around such a strategy considering Bernie types and Greens won’t hold their nose for anyone, they’ll happily burn down the house of anyone who is breaking the Marquess’s rules as long as Jill Stein isn’t the one doing it.

      • efgoldman

        And I’m not saying anything they did in 2016 is defensible but if the solution is for the Democrats to scare geezers and run sham congressional investigations, as the Republicans have, this will not avail.

        Sorry, you’re wrong on the theory if not on the specific tactics.
        I can’t ever see a party of inclusion nominating a clueless asshole like Persimmon Pustule; maybe for a lower office (we’ve had a couple of really whiz-bang congresscritters) but not for president. Nor a Democrats going to hold sham hearings – there are plenty of real things about which to hold people accountable.
        BUT, yes, fear is an excellent electoral motivator, and in our case it would be well-founded. The right thing to do this cycle is pound “Why does [Republiklown’s name] want to take away your/granny’s [social security or medicare or health insurance or meals on wheels]?”
        Simple, to the point, TRUE! and based on the town meetings we’ve seen, VERY effective.
        But we can’t do that because “fear” as a campaign tactic isn’t playing by t he rules?
        Yes it is, and yes we should.
        Knife, gun fight, etc

        • Right–I want a new “contract with America” in which Democrats run on an explicitly anti corruptiopn/anti trump platform: give us back the gavel and control of the house and senate and we will investigate Ivanka, Kushner, and Trump’s corrupt ties to China and Russia! Give us back control of the Senate and House and we will make sure that the government functions again and isn’t being sold to the highest bidder. And if we ever get back into power: do it. Investigate everyone associated with the Trump administration for corruption.

          • Bill Murray

            Do you think the Democratic House and Senate leadership have doing this in them? 2007 and 2009 when they blinked on this is still pretty recent

            • I’m not entirely sure they’ll have a choice. People are pissed off now to a degree they hadn’t been during the Bush years, and they’re responding with far more direct activism this time around. The fact that Democrats have been far more unanimous in opposition to Dolt 45 than they were to Bush 43 is in large part due to increased pressure from the base this time around.

              Furthermore, it was possible to believe some of the Republican leadership might have been acting in good faith in 2009. It was naïve, but possible. It’s basically impossible to believe that today. I suspect the outcomes will be extremely different as a result.

        • slightly_peeved

          As a foreigner looking in, the big moral distinction between Democrats and Republicans isn’t that Democrats, say, believe in the filibuster. It’s that Democrats believe in universal health care and some base level of gun control. Believing in the filibuster, if anything, just makes them suckers.

      • Manny Kant

        It’s Queensberry, guys.

        • Republicans play by Quisenberry Rules which is to say, underhanded.

          • liberalrob

            Good one :)

          • efgoldman

            Republicans play by Quisenberry Rules which is to say, underhanded.

            + 9th inning

  • Judas Peckerwood

    Quick, somebody remind me again how I’m a traitor to the liberal cause because I refuse to financially support the NYT.

    • libarbarian


      You are a traitor to the liberal cause because you refuse to financially support the NYT.

      • Gregor Sansa


    • TopsyJane

      All liberals should be encouraged to abandon the only paper in the country with comprehensive coverage of international and national politics, arts, and sciences, and the only one still hanging on to its book review.

      • Caepan


        The New York Times fluffed the “unnamed sources” of the fake Whitewater scandal harder than anyone. They held back on the news that the Bush Administration was illegally saving phones call and email data before the 2004 election. And who could forget their intrepid WMDs in Iraq reporter Judith Fucking Miller?

        With friends like them…

        • Manny Kant

          None of those things contradict anything TopsyJane said.

      • The FTFNYT has better coverage than other national papers in some respects, but as far as national politics goes, WaPo has it beat, and it isn’t even close. The FTFNYT was one of the worst offenders with Clinton Rules bullshit last cycle outside the wingnut Wurlitzer.

        • Tom in BK

          The way I see it, I subscribe to the Times crossword, and that’s all the money they’ll ever get from me. Except for football season, when I buy it Sunday mornings and read the dead tree version before the games start.

        • TopsyJane

          WaPo has it beat, and it isn’t even close.

          In the decades since Watergate, the WaPo has become competitive with the Times on the Washington beat, and sometimes it does better. Its editorial page has been just as problematic as the Times’s page, if not more so, since the long ago day when the Grahams replaced Philip Geyelin with Meg Greenfield. And overall, it isn’t as good a paper.

          • Editorials are a separate department from news reporting, though. But the FTFNYT page, apart from Krugman, Collins, and Blow, is basically worthless 99% of the time, so it’s not like either has a particularly good editorial department.

            Anyway, I sort of feel that if we want better political coverage, we need to reward sources that do it well and punish those that don’t. If people have other priorities, I can’t argue with those, but for me, the political coverage takes precedence. And there are other sources that do much of what the FTFNYT actually does well in equally competent fashions (the New York Review of Books does fantastic book reviews, for example).

      • Just_Dropping_By

        and the only one still hanging on to its book review

        Because God knows if there’s one thing you can’t find on the internet, it’s book reviews!

        • TopsyJane

          Because God knows if there’s one thing you can’t find on the internet, it’s book reviews!

          The Times is one of the few outlets remaining that will pay reviewers decently for writing them, if you care. And a big review in the Times can mean a lot to the fortunes of a book.

          I have my complaints about the Times’ book coverage, but that’s for another time.

        • liberalrob

          Despite the seeming ubiquity of the Internet, I would venture to guess it’s still far from 100% penetration.

      • scott_theotherone

        You know what? Those things are all really, really good. Know what’s better? A world where Trump (or, for that matter, GWB) isn’t president. And the New York Times was instrumental in helping get Trump elected. So, yeah, I surely do like a good book review. But I like a world where Clinton is president right now one fuck of a lot better.

        • TopsyJane

          The Times’ coverage of the Clintons has been consistently deplorable. No argument there. (The WaPo was no better in its time. “They trashed the place, and it’s not their place…..)

        • LosGatosCA

          On balance they might as well have been Breitbart.

      • Timurid

        I’m impressed that you wrote all of that so clearly and without a single typo while Liz Spayd was holding the tip of a poison umbrella to your neck…

        • Colin Day

          Wouldn’t Spayd be holding the umbrella elsewhere?

      • We’ve been here before. The solution is for Jane A. Doe to cancel her NYT subscription noisily with explanatory email, then subscribe again as Jane B. Doe, and repeat as necessary.

    • Caepan

      No traitor. No traitor. YOU’RE the traitor!

      • Rob in CT

        Now that’s how it’s done.

    • howard

      i cancelled my subscription as a direct outgrowth of the terrible coverage of election 2016 and said to [email protected].

      sadly, though, i’ve been outnumbered by the number of people who have added a subscription to the times, so i don’t see how the publisher is going to change things, even if he wanted to (and i doubt that he does).

      • so-in-so

        There’s your problem. They really only care about losing subscriptions if it threatens advertising revenue (the paper’s goal being to sell ads, printing news just makes the ads work). A campaign of letters to advertisers al-la O’Reilly would be more likely to succeed.

      • Murietta

        I also cancelled, for the same reason and at the same time, and I sent them a piece of hate email explaining why that I consider to be one of my great works. So you’re not alone.

  • Joe_JP

    Dems should pick their spots and maybe reasonable Republicans will work with them when they do.

    • liberalrob

      See powder, the keeping dry of.

    • ColBatGuano

      They should have saved the Supreme Court filibuster for Trump's next nominee!

  • Uneekness

    Well, what did he have to fear? Obama couldn’t fire him and the Dems in Congress couldn’t subpoena him. Maybe it would’ve been different if the Dems held a gavel?

    (And had a dedicated news distortion ecosphere shoveling BS into the gullets of the populace, but that’s for a different post)

    • Morse Code for J

      Obama could have fired him. It would have looked terrible and probably hurt Clinton at least as much as leaving him in place, but the director of the FBI serves at the pleasure of the President.

      • Murc

        This isn’t true, actually.

        FBI Director is one of those positions where you can only be fired for malfeasance.

        Now, Comey’s actions absolutely rise to that level and Obama absolutely should have canned his ass on November 9th regardless of optics.

        But FBI Director isn’t one of those “at the pleasure of the President” posts. You can’t just fire one because you don’t like their hair, like you can with, say, a Chief of Staff.

        • rea

          But FBI Director isn’t one of those “at the pleasure of the President” posts.

          It is, though–no statute restricts the power of the President to fire the FBI director, as Bill Sessions could tell you.

        • Morse Code for J

          rea beat me to it. There are no legally actionable restraints on a President’s power to fire the director of the FBI. That it doesn’t happen more often is due to institutional norms.

          • Institutional norms. What a quaint idea.

          • jeer9

            institutional norms

            What are those again?

            The reluctance of BHO to fire Comey’s ass would seem to be another indication that “when they go low, we go high” is not a realistic political strategy but a call for self-disarming.

            • Hell, it apparently was a call for self immolation.

              • Rob in CT

                Appointing Comey was the mistake. Not firing him on the eve of the election, however, wasn’t. That would’ve been worse.

                • burritoboy

                  You always have a plan to take down any prominent potential enemies. Find compromising materials against them, have a bribery package laid out for them, find their pressure points, encourage their enemies, etc. That this is so far away from how Democrats think – well, it’s going to be a long haul.

                • Rob in CT

                  Ah, but Obama appointed Comey. He didn’t see Comey as the enemy (until it was too late).

                  That’s step one.

                • liberalrob

                  Find compromising materials against them, have a bribery package laid out for them, find their pressure points, encourage their enemies, etc.

                  You know who seems to be good at that? The Russians.

      • Phil Perspective

        Why did Obama appoint that douche-nozzle to begin with? I still haven’t received a satisfactory answer. And he didn’t have to appoint a Republican daddy since the Democrats still controlled the Senate at the time of his confirmation.

    • The time to terrorize the FBI and CIA was before you need to do it. Not after the fact. The Democrats have the problem that they don’t display loyalty to each other, and their president–they all like to seem like independent actors, or imagine that they are too pure for dirty politics. And while Bernie was a dem during the campaign he perfectly modeled this behavior. Imagine that most dems,a ll the time, want to imagine themselves Holy Joe Lieberman–god forbid that they should stoop to defend Bill Clinton or HRC or Obama when the knives are out in the press. What if they got their hair mussed and their skirts dirty?

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        very few good soldiers in the dem party/on the left. Lot of Patton wannabes though

        • Bill Murray

          yeah, lefties like Lieberman and Vilsack

      • pillsy

        Yeah. If the Dems had reacted to the email scandal with, “This is obvious partisan garbage and Hillary Clinton did nothing wrong!”[1] it would have helped. Maybe not enough, but some. Instead the story was, “Republicans say Hillary Clinton should be locked up, Democrats say Hillary Clinton was careless and displayed poor judgement.”

        [1] I.e., if they’d reacted appropriately.

      • Phil Perspective

        … want to imagine themselves Holy Joe Lieberman–god forbid that they should stoop to defend Bill Clinton or HRC or Obama when the knives are out in the press.

        Why doesn’t Bill practice a little solidarity then? The only solidarity he’s ever had is with the super rich.

    • Tom Till

      Maybe it would’ve been different if the Dems held a gavel?

      It’s too much to hope for given the ferocious institutional pushback it would generate, but investigating the FBI itself could help shed light on an absolutely critical question: How a rogue cabal of right-wing FBI agents in New York were able to exert enormous pressure on Comey to tip the election against a candidate they had despised for years if not decades. The consequences for democracy of their actions are beyond ominous.

      • Morse Code for J

        The problem is whom you find to investigate an entire FBI field office for subversion of democracy.

        • You go in and promote lower level people over the heads of the people they have to investigate. Someone there is hungry to jump the ladder.

  • Morse Code for J

    If we get the White House back in 2020, this motherfucker Comey is gone.

    I don’t need that to be the slogan of the Democratic nominee, but I wouldn’t complain if it were.

    • I would definitely donate to anyone who ran on such a platform (as long as they weren’t horrible in other respects, anyway).

  • jim, some guy in iowa

    you know, if the ref tasering Knight would have been part of the show, I might have paid pretty good for that…

    • BiloSagdiyev

      +1 flying chair

  • cs

    I don’t disagree with anything in the post, except this

    because it would interfere with discussions of how someone who will never run for president again sucks

    might be overstating the case a little bit. If we assume for sake of argument that Clinton sucked, it would in theory be nice to understand how and why in order to minimize similar suckitude next time around, whoever is running.

    • Gregor Sansa

      “Working the ref works” is a sub-species of “don’t preemptively assume good faith with people who have demonstrated bad faith”. Fact is, there are people on both sides of the Bernie/Hillary pie fights who have demonstrated bad faith. So saying “it would be nice to resolve that debate amicably and learn the appropriate lessons” is kinda like saying “it would be nice if Israelis and Palestinians could recognize their common interests and work things out”.

      Rage at Comey and the NYT and the rest of them is far more useful. Until Trump is gone and the Supreme Court median is left of where it is now (and preferably, left of where it was before Gorsuch, insofar as that’s well-defined). We have nurse our grudges and be vindictive.

      Fuck this timeline.

      • I thought this was the Darkest Timeline for a few months after the election (and repeatedly said so), but things like the Women’s March and the failure of the GOP’s healthcare clusterfuck have convinced me it might not be. I also don’t think Moonlight could have won Best Picture in the Darkest Timeline.

        Your broader point, however, is entirely correct. The fact that so many people refuse to recognise that the Republicans have been playing Calvinball for decades is a large part of what’s gotten us into this mess.

        And yes, Fuck the Fucking New York Times.

    • Joseph Slater

      I think the response to that is that Scott (and many others here, including me) reject the premise that “Clinton sucked” as a candidate (after all, she did win the popular vote by about 3 million). Beyond that, to the extent Clinton had flaws (as all candidates do), based on hundreds of posts over multiple threads, it’s not at all clear that there is any lesson Democratic voters or leaders should take away from the 2016 election about the party’s nomination process that is in any obvious way transferable to future elections.

      This is not to say that post-election analysis can’t be useful. When you lose, you should reflect on why. But IMHO, despite several people making the arguments over and over again, I haven’t seen much of anything useful or convincing in the “Clinton sucked and we have to make sure we never nominate anyone like her again, by, um. . . .” genre.

      • nemdam

        The thing about this is I wish Clinton did suck, and there were things we could easily identify as problems. Then it would be an easy fix! For example, if Trump lost by 6+ points (like he would have without Russia/Comey), the fix for Republicans would be easily identified. But because there’s nothing clearly wrong with Clinton, there’s no easy answer. But because so many want an easy answer, people keep saying “Clinton sucks!” without credibly identifying why.

        This is why I spend so much time defending Clinton and making sure the lesson we take from 2016 is not that “Clinton sucks!” Because if we do that, it assumes we can easily nominate a good candidate next time that solves all of our problems. But if Clinton doesn’t suck, and we can’t agree why she does, then we will be in the exact same situation next time where we nominate a similar caliber of candidate but convince ourselves it’s fine because he or she isn’t Hillary.

        And honestly, if someone with the resume and background of Hillary while running the caliber of campaign she did is a bad candidate, then we are screwed as I’m very skeptical it’s easy to find someone demonstrably better.

        • I think Drum’s argument that Clinton was a roughly average candidate seems about right. I do suspect none of us had any idea at the time that the twenty-five-year right-wing smear campaign against her would wind up making such a decisive impact on the election. But that wasn’t her fault. She has a lot of natural political strengths – if I could identify one major weakness, it’s that she’s not a great public speaker (but then, almost anyone would come off unfavourably in that respect coming after Obama). But her debate performances were, honestly, the best I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen anyone else eviscerate an opponent that thoroughly.

          In a lot of ways, I think Clinton was sui generis in some respects. Much of the media’s treatment of her was simple misogyny, but there was a lot of Clinton Rules bullshit involved too. I don’t expect something like that ever to happen again – at least, not to that extent.

          • Brien Jackson

            I think if you take away the year’s worth of media attacks on her about EMAILS! and the QUESTIONS RAISED about the Clinton Foundation nonsense then the 25 years of attacks don’t really have much of an impact.

            • I suspect you are probably correct; it was the Clinton Rules plus the twenty-five years of the right-wing puke funnel working together that ultimately sunk her candidacy.

              • PunditusMaximus

                Two things sunk HRC’s candidacy.
                1) The economy sucks.
                2) Comey.

                Both ultimately point to Obama.

                • Eh, the stimulus could’ve been better but there was very little Obama could’ve done after Ted Kennedy’s death. A lot of the economy has to be blamed on Congressional Republicans, even though voters don’t understand that. We still came out in better shape than Europe did, because they went even further under austerity than we did.

                  Not to mention that the economy was in such horrible shape it would’ve been a slow recovery even if Obama had turned out to be the second coming of FDR with an ideologically friendly Congress. As it stands, though, you’re correct that the fundamentals were against Clinton this election, and as Drum points out, there’s significant evidence that she outperformed them substantially.

                • Manny Kant

                  The economy doesn’t suck?

                • PunditusMaximus

                  As Manny points out, the Establishment Democrat position is that zero median wage growth is teh awsum.

                • I’m not sure where I said the economy was in good shape. It’s really in rather mediocre shape; my only argument was that our recovery progressed more steadily than Europe’s did. Maybe I’m misinterpreting the exchange.

                  Anyway, my point is that people blame the president for everything even when a lot of control over the economy is in Congress’ hands, and Republicans have controlled at least one house of Congress since 2011. So, basically, yes, Obama could’ve done more, but he’s not solely to blame, and it’s rather strange to see people supposedly on the left eliding the Republicans’ responsibility here. Yes, voters don’t recognise it. Which is part of the problem – people need to be better educated about how this stuff works, and that means inaccurate memes need to be called out.

                  But, like I said, I don’t know if I followed this exchange correctly, so apologies if I misinterpreted something someone said.

          • drkrick

            Not so sui generis. Something fairly similar, although without the 25 year run up, happened to Gore 4 cycles ago. It’s not obvious to me why the media weren’t similarly revolted by Bush43 and Trump, but they weren’t.

            • Well, right, it was those two factors together that made her sui generis, not the one alone. There’s good reason to believe that Gore actually got subjected to the Clinton Rules as well by association. Plus he didn’t have the misogyny working against him, or at least not to any similar extent (I suppose you could consider the writing of people like Maureen Dowd to have an element of misogyny though).

    • John F

      to understand how and why

      A 25 year plus non-stop vilification campaign by the RW aided and abetted by folks like the NYTimes.

      What can be done in the future?
      1. Don’t nominate HRC again.
      2. Having the non-RWNJ media not aid and abet similar campaigns now and in the future, for instance Pelosi has been a RWNJ target for a dozen years, Reid got some flack, but Pelosi’s been target #2 for a loooong time.
      3. Don’t assume that having a Repub win the EC college with just 46% of the popular vote is the new normal/standard- don’t fight the last war- the 2000-2004-2008-2012-2016 electoral college maps look very similar to each other, that’s not historically normal, things change, people move, people get older, people die., and sometimes, rarely, people change their minds and switch.

      WVA was solidly Dem until it wasn’t, people in West Virginia associate Democratic governance with slow, long-term immiseration, eventually that flipped WVa and now it is as red as they come. Similarly, Kansas is as solidly red as any state, and yet everyone under 35 there associates Republican governance with insolvency and long-term immiseration. The wheel(s) will turn. Some states we now think will always vote blue will vote red in our lifetimes and vice versa.

      • Karen24

        One could also note that Pelosi and Hillary Clinton share a trait that Harry Reid does not, and loudly question why the RWNJ’s — and a really annoyingly large percentage of the left — attack people like Clinton and Pelosi and aren’t nearly so vicious toward people that don’t share that trait.

        • See also: people who blame Debbie Wasserman Schultz for 2010, when Tim Kaine was DNC chair (not that the DNC had much to do with most of the things it got blamed for, anyway). Plus bonus anti-Semitism! I mean, I’m hardly Schultz’ biggest fan, but you could at least get the fucking dates right.

          • PunditusMaximus

            I’m sure some moron did this, but since Obama is actually responsible for both, that’s the analysis I generally see.

            The fact that Kaine shut down the 50-State Strategy and then HRC hired him is seen as an, ahem, full endorsement of Obama’s embrace of losing electoral tactics by the Clintonite faction among the folks I know.

            • Most of 2010 and 2014 were the result of structural factors disfavouring the presidential incumbent’s party. The abandonment of the fifty-state strategy wasn’t exactly a great idea but at the same time most people with experience organising on the ground seem to agree that it wasn’t as big a factor in 2006 and 2008 as it’s often credited for being; those same structural factors favoured the Democrats at the time, and apparently even Dean himself didn’t think the Democrats would have as large a wave in 2006 as they did, and wasn’t even sure the Democrats would retake control of Congress.

              I wasn’t thrilled with Kaine as VP choice, but Joe Lieberman he ain’t. I see him more or less the way I saw Biden – he wouldn’t have been anywhere near my first choice, but he wasn’t insulting, either. I don’t think Clinton’s choice of Kaine was about the way the DNC was run so much as it was his political stances. Which, again, aren’t exactly thrilling, but they could’ve been a lot worse, too.

        • PunditusMaximus

          Just can’t resist aiming that blame cannon at the lefties, can we.

          • liberalrob
          • ColBatGuano

            Yeah, those poor innocent lefties. They’ve never attacked anyone.

        • TopsyJane

          One could also note that Pelosi and Hillary Clinton share a trait that Harry Reid does not

          Yes. Both are the most powerful liberal female politicians in recent history – Pelosi the first woman to becme Speaker of the House, HRC as senator, secretary of state, and then the leader of a major political party’s national ticket. Both successfully made into pinatas.

          • rm

            Part of me really wants to watch a bunch of old men’s heads explode as Speaker Pelosi becomes president in 2019 after the double impeachment.

            • I mean, yeah. Getting rid of Dolt 45 and Pence is in and of itself a pretty good motive for wanting them impeached, but seeing misogynists’ heads explode would make it even more worthwhile seeing Pelosi installed as president. And the thing is, she’d obviously be really good at it, because unlike the current occupant of the White House, she actually (a) wants to help people, and (b) understands how politics work.

      • efgoldman

        Having the non-RWNJ media not aid and abet similar campaigns now and in the future

        And how, pray, tell, do you get the NYT to objectivize [sorry] their political coverage?
        They’ve been at this for more than 20 years.
        Complaining hasn’t worked, there’s been no mass movement to cancel subs and cost them money. Sorry, but even mocking them on a fine political blog like this one doesn’t work. Hell, one of their most important columnists on the inside complaining about it doesn’t work.
        Unless and until a new generation of owner/publisher decide to change things, things aren’t going to change.
        And, unfortunately, the NYT is a leader; other media all over the country follow their lead or just republish their syndicated bullshit.

  • DamnYankees

    A lot of people chalk this up to weakness or tepidness on the part of Democrats, but I really don’t think that’s it. This is obviously going to sound profoundly self-serving, but I think more and more the two parties are simply split between reasonable people and reactionary tribalists.

    Democrats don’t go crazy on the press with a consistent message because reasonable people who aren’t insane don’t act like that. They aren’t laser focused on winning, on grief. The Democrats are actually trying to accomplish things, and they tie their passion to those things. They can’t turn their entire corpus into a one giant panting bulk which brays the same note over and over. We’re not good at it. And its not because we’re weak – it’s because we’re normal fucking people.

    The assymetry in our parties is not about weakness v. not. It’s not even about policy v. not. I feel more and more its just about fundamental personality types. And the people who have the personality type to be a Democrat don’t go apeshit all the time with a singular focus, because that’s an abnormal way to act as a human being.

    • Vance Maverick

      I think more and more the two parties are simply split between reasonable people and reactionary tribalists.

      This reads like you’re saying that each party has this split within itself, and while I do see something of that within the Dems, I don’t think that’s quite what you mean.

      • DamnYankees

        Yeah, I meant it as a split between the parties. Not within them.

    • rp0806

      Very well put. Co-sign. A 1000x this. etc.

    • Agreed. I also think your observation from the other day is on point: Democrats believe in good government; Republicans believe in Republicans. I think this is also why there’s such a split in personalities between the two parties: authoritarian followers are going to gravitate towards a party that believes in its own power, while people more interested in dealing with things as they are will gravitate towards the good governance party.

      I suspect I’ll have more to add about this later (I suspect I can fit some of the implications of these observations into the framework of themes I’ve been writing about for the last few weeks) but I’m on my phone so I’ll develop it later when I can actually type fast enough to keep pace with my thoughts. I’m already getting frustrated just typing this much text on my phone.

      • Right. So, as I said, authoritarian followers seem to sort naturally into the Republican Party simply by nature of their politics. The Democrats have an evidence-based approach; the Republicans have a more faith-based approach. (Or I suppose you could call it an ideological one; Cleek’s Law and IGMFY are a kind of ideology, I suppose.) In short, the Democrats almost qualify as a Burkean conservative party: they support change where it is empirically likely to be beneficial and reject tinkering with things that are already functioning, while the Republicans don’t really care about anything except their spite towards Democrats. (To be clear, the Democrats still qualify as liberals in the American sense as well.)

        So, combine this with the observation I keep repeating: people are very, very bad at ascertaining that sources they perceive as authority figures are untrustworthy. Well, if the Republicans already ideologically sort for those who are uncritical of authority, you get yourself with one of the particular weaknesses of human nature being combined with those who are naturally weakest to it.

        I’m not entirely sure what all the implications of this are. In past comment threads I’ve gone over the implications of people’s implicit credulity regarding those perceived as authority figures as applied to last year’s election – they serve as a root cause for a number of other aspects, some of which are quite bizarre without such an explanation: the media’s widespread belief that Clinton couldn’t lose, the spread of ideologically congenial “fake news” on an otherwise unprecedented scale, the uncritical acceptance of bullshit framing, people’s assumption that if the media kept talking about Clinton‘s emails the story must have been important, people’s assumption that Comey wouldn’t have released a letter if there weren’t good cause for it, and so on. Some of this is so bizarre it would seem implausible if it had appeared in fiction a year ago, but viewing it through this lens of human nature makes it explicable.

        And, of course, given that appeals to the supposed benevolence of ideology are a great way to get people to overlook their ethical instincts, we can perhaps see a root cause of “blue lies”, that is, lies intended to benefit an in-group at the expense of an out-group. This is perhaps a reason why, if Republicans figure out they’re being lied to, they may not care. They may believe the lies serve a higher purpose and are benefiting either Republicans specifically, society overall, or both. And, as I said, the only people that seem to reliably disabuse them of such notions appear to be fellow Republicans.

        I don’t entirely know what the solution to all of this is, apart from simply dismantling unnecessary hierarchies entirely (which, for the record, I already supported). Expertise- and knowledge-based hierarchies (e.g., parent-child, teacher-student, etc.) are absolutely necessary to the continued functioning of society, but many existing hierarchies have nothing to do with either.

        I also suspect that trying to incite people to rethink their perception of reality in various ways would be beneficial, since most people never have cause to question their beliefs or even realise that human perception is inherently subjective, but if I explained this in full it would probably double the length of this comment, and I’ve already explained a lot of it before (if someone wants a further explanation, I can find one of the old comments and copy and paste some of it, though.)

        One smaller thing is that we should be giving cookies to Republicans who criticise the Wingnut Wurlitzer for its dishonesty, since others will listen to them who won’t listen to us. Anything that brings us closer back to the reality-based community as a society has to be encouraged, I think.

        • Rob in CT

          Ah, but if liberals are handing out “cookies” to such people, that taints them even further.

          • Yeah, that is a risk, though it probably depends how prominent the liberals are who are handing out the cookies. If we just privately send them correspondence or something, maybe that wouldn’t make a perceptible impact. There’s a balancing act to be managed here, for certain, and I’m not sure what the correct approach is.

            • efgoldman

              Repeating: Knife ==> gun fight, etc

              Yeah, we are not authoritarian assholes, but that doesn’t mean we don’t fight to win.

              We generally avoided the worst of the Germans’ and Japanese tactics in WW2, too, but it was still total war, because it had to be.

              • John F

                Avoiding the the worst of the Germans’ and Japanese tactics in WW2 didn’t hurt us, because that stuff didn’t actually help them win the war. The holocaust actually harmed the German war effort by wasting/diverting resources, the German treatment of occupied Europe harmed their war effort two ways- it impaired the economies of such areas to such a degree that Germany was getting less resources from those areas than they had been getting peacefully pre-war, and they were forced to keep large numbers of occupation troops in place.

                Some of our worst stuff, the carpet bombing of German cities had at best a negligible effect on the course of the war. The carpet bombing of Japanese cities did have some more effect- but that mostly because Hirohito =/= Hitler- the fire bombing of Tokyo horrified Hirohito- the fire bombing of German cities had no effect on Hitler other than pissing him off- the suffering of German civilians was meaningless to him. (the suffering of Japanese civilians was meaningless to Japanese militarists too).

                Unfortunately, we are in a situation where the RWNJs worst tactics do in fact seemingly HELP them. The lying, the propaganda, the relentless working of the refs, the race baiting…

        • PunditusMaximus

          Maybe we can make the Republicans our daddies and they can give us cookies!

          • There’s a difference between “give them cookies when they tell the truth” and “give them jobs in your administration”, you realise. A large part of the reason Republicans have become so extreme is that many of them are literally convinced that anyone to their left is an existential threat to the country. Finding common ground may end up being an effective way to reduce the perception of an existential threat. This doesn’t mean we start trusting them. But when they act in good faith, I see nothing wrong with at least acknowledging that they are doing so, because many people will listen to Republicans who are engaging in good faith, but won’t listen to Democrats doing the same.

            • PunditusMaximus

              “when they act in good faith”


            • efgoldman

              when they act in good faith, I see nothing wrong with at least acknowledging that they are doing so

              Which they have not done electorally since the 1980s (remember Lee Atwater and Willie Horton?) and congressionally since 1994.
              I think it’s time to assume bad faith and worse until such time as they show some good.
              I’m certainly not holding my breath; I don’t expect it until way after my lifetime, and it will take a series of really bad electoral losses over several cycles.

              • The fact that they so rarely engage in good faith is exactly the reason why I feel we need to encourage them on the rare occasions where they do so. Glenn Beck’s supportive comments of Black Lives Matter a few years ago were a good example. He was basically correct about that, and people might listen to him who wouldn’t listen to us. Ana Navarro is another good example of a Republican who frequently criticises her own party (she’s also one of the few whom I’d consider to act mainly in good faith). And when Republicans criticise their media for being untruthful, again, that’s a good thing.

                There aren’t too many Republicans who do this, and most of the ones who do it don’t do it consistently. But they do exist. People will listen to those people who won’t listen to us. I don’t feel that pretending they don’t exist is terribly helpful, either.

                • efgoldman

                  Glenn Beck’s supportive comments of Black Lives Matter a few years ago were a good example

                  What offices do Beck and Navarro hold? Which ones did they run for? Remind me.

                • I made no specific references to elected Republicans above. Media figures may also be considered authority figures, and indeed I consistently referred to them as authority figures in my analysis.

                  Amongst elected Republicans I don’t know of any at the national level that ever engage in good faith these days. There may be some at the state level. Our former State Senate president Andy Gardiner seemed like a good guy, but was term-limited out this year.

              • liberalrob

                it will take a series of really bad electoral losses over several cycles.

                No, it will take a series of disasters that get lots of people killed. Nobody cares about electoral losses unless people are killed as a result.

        • slightly_peeved

          I see this argument a lot here – that Democrats don’t all hang together because they are rational – and I think it doesn’t hold up to any form of comparison with politics outside the United States.

          If you look at left-leaning parties in other democracies, they are often focused on message discipline to a level beyond even the Republicans, but use it to push policy that would be considered rational by American standards. The people involved aren’t any more idealistic or authoritarian than Americans; they’re just trying to win elections.

          • I may not have explained myself fully above: I wasn’t referring to the left overall; I was specifically referring to the Democratic Party. There have certainly been plenty of authoritarian leftists throughout history – the Soviet Union and Mao’s China are only two of the most obvious extreme examples throughout history. However, the authoritarian left does not have a natural home in the Democratic Party. I suspect your explanation below, that the Democrats have a wide range of ideological diversity within their coalition, may be the correct explanation for why this is: it’s not possible for someone who wants to tell everyone else what to do to be satisfied with a party that has that broad a range of viewpoints within it.

            Sometimes I think a rather large amount of recent politics can be explained through this lens, actually: you see an awful lot of self-proclaimed “leftists” with no apparent history of political activism (particularly online) coming in and expecting people who have been active within the Democratic Party for three or more decades to accede to all their demands about how the party should be run and what policy positions it should adopt. It’s been frequently claimed that these people aren’t really Democrats, and viewed through this lens, that claim looks accurate. These people also frequently claim to be opposed to authoritarianism, but they also appear to believe that if they shout loud enough, everyone will listen to them, and if everyone listens to them, the country will magically solve all its problems. It’s a strange approach for people who claim to oppose authoritarianism, and suggests either they that haven’t fully thought through the implications of their approach or that they haven’t fully thought through the implications of their own political beliefs.

            I also find it rather odd that a lot of these self-same people who object to the top-down structure of the economy think that their views should dictate everything about how the party is run nationwide (as demonstrated by their repeated complaints about the DCCC/DSCC/DNC/etc.). Many of them don’t appear to recognise the disconnect, and don’t appear to possess the level of understanding of the process of political organisation necessary to understand that what works in one part of the country won’t work in another, and that a lot of the information about how to win an election varies from district to district, meaning that top-down organisation would not be an effective way to run a national political party.

            But I digress. I don’t actually find myself having an exact fit within the Democratic Party, either, because my politics are so deeply rooted in anti-authoritarianism that both our economic system and our system of government intrinsically violate my own personal ethics. But at the same time, I also recognise that my own personal ethics aren’t going to be enough to alter the existing political system, and that the system isn’t going to change if people don’t acknowledge political realities and try to change them.

            This, to me, appears to be a crucial difference between the authoritarian approach and the anti-authoritarian approach: the latter appears to acknowledge political realities in a way the former doesn’t. There seems to be a widespread belief amongst certain people that if everyone simply listens to the right people and implements all their suggestions, society will magically solve all its problems. That looks pretty authoritarian, even if the policies the people pursuing that approach want implemented aren’t always consistent with authoritarianism: it’s rooted in a belief that the writer/speaker has all the answers, and that people who don’t listen to them are therefore simply wrong. It’s also questionable how possible it is to create an anti-authoritarian society with an approach that authoritarian. As Bakunin said, giving revolutionaries absolute power will lead them to be worse than the Tsar.

            There’s an opposite approach of trying to work both within and outside the system and trying to transform it from both directions into a less hierarchical form of organisation. The “inside” approach focuses on building consensus within the system that the anti-authoritarian left approach is the correct one, but there’s a major difference in that it doesn’t involve simply shouting at people as though one has all the answers. It involves listening to others who have lengthy histories of activism and learning from them, because in reality no one has all the answers. By doing this, one can also promote policies that further that approach where possible, but, again, behaving as though one has all the answers isn’t going to persuade many people. The “outside” form of activism focuses on encouraging cooperation where it exists and promoting the growth of organisations that are based on cooperation. All of this fits much better with an anti-authoritarian approach.

            In any case, all of this seems to dovetail with my observations above: certain approaches are consistent with an emphasis on empirical realities, and others aren’t. The “recognise how the system works and try to change it with strategies informed by that knowledge, and listen to and learn from others who may have more knowledge in some areas” approach acknowledges empirical reality. The “shout loud enough” approach doesn’t. Most of the people with the former approach seem to be Democrats. Many of the latter people appear to be either Republicans or people who claim to be “leftists” and spend most of their time yelling at Democrats.

            That said, I hadn’t addressed a lot of that above, and writing this response likely clarified my thoughts on some of it. I’m not entirely certain that I phrased all of this in a way that will make perfect sense to others, though, so if some of it doesn’t make perfect sense, please ask for explanation and I’ll clarify.

    • rp0806

      Some smart guy said this a 100 years ago:
      The best lack all conviction, while the worst
      Are full of passionate intensity.

      • Gregor Sansa

        On the other hand, look at the lemmings. Just when you think they’re everywhere, they… well, it’s not that they actively hurl themselves over cliffs, it’s just that they start to act with a reckless disregard for personal safety, because only by being the one lemming who does the impossible can they actually survive the inevitable population crash and pass on their genes.

        Point being, the same craziness is both their greatest strength and their fatal weakness.

      • CraigMcMahon

        And what rough beast, its hour come ’round at last,
        slouches toward Washington to be born?

    • burritoboy

      what you’re describing as Democrats is not a political party. It’s not even a political effort. It’s a discussion group at best.

      Your “normal” people is doing all the work, and you don’t seem to realize how you’ve loaded all your politics into it.

    • Jonny Scrum-half

      I don’t know that it’s about personality types. I think that it’s more about propaganda, and the fact that the right has waged a long-term and very successful propaganda war that has resulted in a large fraction of the American population viewing politics through a prism of culture. Based on this propaganda, the teams are basically defined as Republicans for the Christians, the hunters and fishermen, the people who work with their hands, and white people in general. The Democrats are effete and snooty liberals who are self-impressed with their college+ educations as well as Black people and Hispanic people.

      Once people have chosen a side in this fight, it’s very difficult to get them to see the other side’s point. It’s like the OJ trial – once Johnny Cochran succeeded in making the case about race, the prosecution faced a very difficult uphill battle to persuade a largely Black jury in LA only a couple years after the acquittal of the police in the Rodney King beating.

  • brmorre

    One of the things that worries me is that the left is just inherently incapable of engaging in the kind of tactics the right has used so successfully. And that’s precisely because the kinds of people who take orders and stick to the program (i.e. have authoritarian tendencies) tend to become Republicans, while the kinds of people who pride themselves on being independent are more willing to criticize their allies–often more viciously then their opponents–tend to become Democrats. So long as that self-sorting persists, it will always be the case that Republicans act like a pack of wolves while Democrats act like a herd of cats that can’t possibly be shepherded. I don’t know how to solve it.

    • DamnYankees

      I’m not sure you can solve it. The hope is merely that in a democracy, there are more people like the latter than the former.

      The biggest issue in democracy though, is that most people are neither. They just don’t pay any attention at all. They are just – I don’t know, some third animal analogy which avoids the “sheep” comparison – just minding their own business. And so you may have a society with 25% cats, 15% wolves and 60% not paying attention. And it’s easy for the wolves to pick off the herd.

      • LeeEsq

        The word your looking for is apolitical. Most people really don’t pay close attention to politics that much. Generally, they don’t pay attention to politics that much because it seems boring and not terribly fun to them. They might also have a lot going on in their lives. Its the same reason why people don’t watch the news. Why watch depressing things about the state of the world when you can watch a funny comedy, a gripping drama, or something more fun.

      • brmorre

        I agree, I don’t think it’s solvable. But it seems to be leading to this dynamic where right-wing media operates in lockstep and keeps an iron grip on their viewers, making them increasingly immune to reality. And that gets circulated throughout the broader body politic and sets the tone even for apolitical people.

        Most worrisome is that among the GOP’s many dirty tactics is their ruthless willingness to distort the electoral process itself (gerrymandering and voter suppression) and thereby make it impossible to dislodge them. So even if there aren’t many of them, it doesn’t matter.

        I don’t know. The last few months have just been so dispiriting, even taking into account the size of the liberal backlash.

    • Tyro

      This is a serious problem. What’s happened is that the republicans have unlocked a winning tactic, and the Democrats, whether by temperament or circumstance, are unable to use that same tactic themselves. This is like as if one side of WWI was unable to field aircraft.

      The Democrats’ response to Fox News and propaganda efforts from the Republicans ends up being to simply wait until a malefactor self-immolates, and then step in to clean up the mess before the republicans recover and turn them out of office again.

    • Brien Jackson

      Well this is largely because Republicans have become a mostly homogenous ideologically driven party while Democrats remain a mostly transactional interest based one whose constituent groups have to trade off on policy. And the racial/gender dynamics add another layer of conflict where marginalized groups demand equal respect and representation. FWIW, I don’t think you want to counter it at all. As the online Bernie Bros showed very conclusively in the primary season: It’s very difficult to adopt that sort of ideological orientation as a political movement and remain securely tethered to reality.

      • efgoldman

        As the online Bernie Bros showed very conclusively in the primary season

        They, like their fearless leader, are not Democrats, don’t care about the party or its objectives, don’t vote or vote third party, and make a lot of noise on the intartoobz – which we incorrectly interpret as interest and influence by an important segment of voters.

      • slightly_peeved

        I think this is a better explanation than ‘left people can’t be authoritarians’, because it accounts for the quite strong solidarity of some left parties in other nations. By the measure of much of the rest of the world, America has one far-right party and one party covering the centre-right to the left, and the latter party could have some issues getting everyone to work together that left parties in other nations don’t have.

      • Tyro

        FWIW, I don’t think you want to counter it at all.

        Somehow you have to figure out how to win elections. Countering it doesn’t necessarily mean imitating it. But you can’t just wait for the other side to implode because of their disconnection of reality.

  • You’ve discussed a related facet to this problem, but it bears mentioning in this context: one reason that Comey (et. al.) doesn’t fear Democrats is the “Republican Daddy” syndrome that afflicts them. Not only are Democrats “often timorous about criticizing both the press and people like Comey,” they actively seek their approval even after it has been demonstrated that there is an overwhelming asymmetry in our politics.


    • John F

      Not only are Democrats “often timorous about criticizing both the press and people like Comey,” they actively seek their approval even after it has been demonstrated that there is an overwhelming asymmetry in our politics.

      Yes, but what’s fun is this is another example of RWNJ projection (but in reverse)- typically RWNJ’s project their own actual bad behavior onto liberals. However, the “cuck” epitaph is where RWNJs take an actual liberal tendency- the tendency to compromise even when it’s futile just to get approval from one’s own adversaries – and accuses other rightwingers of engaging in the same behavior.

  • daves09

    The dems have never had, and barring some miracle on the intertubes, will never have, the sort of reinforcing loop/echo chamber that talk radio/Fox news provide the repubs.
    The key is not only to stay on a limited message but to broadcast it constantly. The repubs do this, the dems don’t.
    And of course unthinking hate and intolerance sell much more easilt than than thoughtful tolerance and goodwill.
    Considering the obstacles it’s surprising the dems do as well as we do. And let’s keep repeating-HRC beat TRump by 3 million votes, so we are the majority.
    Most Trump voters would willingly suspend the constitution and make Trump a dictator-and the rep. congress would hem and haw, Miss Lindsey and Grandpa Walnuts would make clucking noises but in the end they would say yes.. And that’s why Comey fears the repubs.-because there’s no talking to these people.

    • Gregor Sansa

      People make fun of me for harping about voting method reform. But harping is necessary.

      • sonamib

        We make fun in a light-hearted way :) I, for one, appreciate your voting reform wonkishness.

        • Gregor Sansa


        • CraigMcMahon


      • Ronan

        I make fun because I have a recurring dream where you finally have your wicked way and voting reform is introduced to the US leading to the factionalisation of politics into a number of ethno nationalist parties on the right and Ralph Nader cultists on the left. Eventually ethnic conflict ensues, global war ,and nuclear apocalypse. I mock for the sake of humanity.

        • Gregor Sansa

          Good voting methods consider this issue. Basically, you need a rule that eliminates any candidates who aren’t the favorite of a sufficient number. For single-winner, 3-2-1 voting makes that number 15% of the whole (which may sound arbitrary, but it’s actually darn close to the average between 1/6 and 1/8, which are theoretically justifiable). The function of this 15% elimination in 3-2-1 is to allow the rest of the system to push for a centrist winner, without risking electing a centrist nobody.

          For multi-winner, STAR voting makes that number 25% of a district. This means that, aside from individual charismatic independents, there will be only 2-3 viable parties per district, which means 3-4 nationwide; still plenty of big-tent incentive to rule out your nightmare.

          (I realize that this post is jargon-heavy to the point that essentially nobody but myself will fully understand what I mean. But I hope that the larger point, that I have seriously thought about this issue and that I have an answer, does come through.)

          • I understood most of it (I’ve never heard of STAR voting before though).

            In any case, I’m having a difficult time imagining a system less friendly to centrism than ours. Multiparty systems require the formation of coalitions which will usually end up including centrists. Here we’ve got the Republicans afraid of primaries from the right and the Democrats have shifted somewhat to the left. I’d like the whole country to move much further left but the exclusion of the centre creates serious problems for governance, starting with the fact that it’s now almost impossible to compromise on anything. Most legislation ends up involving some form of compromise and the gridlock we’re seeing as a result of increased partisanship does not bode well for our future.

            • Gregor Sansa

              STAR voting (single transferable assigned representative) is basically delegated STV, with some extra rules like the up-front elimination to prevent pathologies like over-fragmentation or entrenched party insiders.

              • Ah, cool. I figured it would end up being some variant of single transferable vote.

          • Ronan

            Youve put my fears to rest. Sign me up.

          • efgoldman

            Gregor, Gregor, Gregor…
            Ain’t never gonna’ happen, not in what’s left of my lifetime, my daughter’s, or my granddaughter’s.
            No more than constitutional amendments abolishing the senate or EC.
            I know a few jurisdictions do PR voting. Cambridge used to, don’t know if they still do. I do remember it was chaos.

            • Luckily, neutralising the EC doesn’t require a constitutional amendment; the National Popular Vote provides a workaround. If I understand correctly, getting rid of FPTP won’t require a constitutional amendment either, though I don’t fully understand the logistics behind it.

              • Gregor Sansa

                Single winner reform like 3-2-1 voting can be done at the state level. It’s already happened in ME; they used IRV, not the best system, but better than plurality, and at least they did it.

                Proportional representation can also be done mostly at the state level, but there is also a 1967 federal statute that may or may not stand in the way.

                In any case, a constitutional amendment is definitely not necessary. Not even to a state constitution, at least, not in any of the 8 states I know the answer for (ME, CA, AK, NV, CO, AZ, MA, OH).

                • efgoldman

                  It’s already happened in ME; they used IRV, not the best system, but better than plurality

                  And look who they elected governor for two terms.

                • It’s more than likely because of whom they elected governor that they passed IRV. They weren’t using IRV when he was elected (I can’t remember his name offhand, which is probably for the best). The spoiler effect resulted in his getting elected two elections in a row, and IRV appears to have been a direct response to that.

                • Gregor Sansa

                  And look who they elected governor for two terms.

                  Seems you’re misapprehending the sequence and causality here. ME fixed their voting method in the 2016 election and hasn’t used the new method yet.

              • Redwood Rhiadra

                the National Popular Vote provides a workaround

                A temporary and easily reversed workaround. (As states can withdraw at any time, and the compact ends when the current signatories no longer have 270 EV.) Not really a workaround at all, since it will only be in effect when it favors Republicans.

                • Gregor Sansa

                  As states can withdraw at any time,

                  Not within 1 year leading up to a presidential election. So no, they can’t just withdraw at the last minute.

              • ForkyMcSpoon

                NPV compact is vulnerable to GOP ratfucking.

                For example, note that the GOP doesn’t need to put as much effort into suppressing votes in Utah or Alabama, since the GOP majority is rather durable. Running up the score in places like that will suddenly carry far more benefit than it has in the past. Red states could refuse to do recounts if they thought it would help the Democrat win the popular vote, etc.

                On the other hand, blue states would have an incentive to expand the vote as much as possible – there are plenty of steps beyond simply expanding early voting and same-day registration. You could, for example, make Election Day a state holiday, make public transportation free during polling hours on Election Day in certain circumstances (DC, for example, would not need to make it free if you’re crossing from Virginia into DC, which most likely is unrelated to voting), automatic registration, including pre-registration of high school students, eliminating assigned polling locations as much as possible. If legal (and I don’t see why it wouldn’t be), we could experiment with mandatory voting. That might more than make up for the ratfucking in red states.

                Still, there are reasons to be worried about problems with this when it’s not a unified national policy. But it probably would still be better than the current system though.

    • John F

      but to broadcast it constantly

      That’s another thing, you’d think they’d tire out, they’d get bored, they’d move on to a new talking point- THEY NEVER DO.

      They never actually dropped Benghazi!, it only got quieter, they had Emailz! and other issues, but they never actually dropped Benghazi!, or Whitewater, or Monica! or Chappaquidick, or Hanoi Jane, they never, ever, ever, get over things and move on. Once in the wingnutosphere things bounce around just under the event horizon for ever.

      Scalia once said Americans upset about Bush v. Gore should just “get over it”- which was rich coming from a guy who could hold a grudge until the heat death of the universe- whose fellow travelers never get over anything. If Bush v. Gore had gone 5-4 the OTHER way, it’d be a RWNJ rallying cry for the next 50 years. As it is- some lefties bring it up from time to time, but most have simply gotten over it and moved on.

      At some point, liberal have to stop accepting things and moving on. RWNJs don’t, they never stop, they never concede defeat.

      • Rob in CT

        I have certainly resolved to nurse some grudges.

        • burritoboy

          and now, finally, you have begun learning.

          • It’s nice to see our Democrats is learning.

            (I’ve been nursing grudges for awhile now, but this last election cycle has made them vastly more vitriolic.)

            • burritoboy

              I remain unconvinced as to the whole party (which, as I say elsewhere, isn’t a political party). The temptations remain either inherent or very deeply rooted. Look at the rest of the commentators here.

              • “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” –Will Rogers

                That said, if you compare the resolve of the Democratic base now to its resolve a year ago, it’s hardly recognisable as the same party. Sure, we still have tons of internal fighting, and there are still plenty of faux-leftists who demonstrate no understanding whatsoever of how the process of politics actually works, but the shitgibbon has energised the opposition in a manner I didn’t ever expect to happen. I don’t think that genie goes back in the bottle, at least not for as long as he’s in office. We’re not going to march in lock-step the way the Republicans do, but at the same time, there are more of us, and we’re energised in a way we hadn’t been in any time I can remember.

                • efgoldman

                  there are still plenty of faux-leftists who demonstrate no understanding whatsoever of how the process of politics actually works,

                  Repeating, because someone needs to:

          • Rob in CT

            Eh, it’s been happening all the way through the Obama years. Particularly that last year with the GOP response to Merrick Garland, but it began before that. I was at “GOP Delenda Est” by 2012, because they lie constantly, about everything.

            It’s just that I thought Trump might do just that – destroy them (and there’s an argument he’s doing that right now, but I’m not holding my breath). Instead, our media + Russian ratfucking + stupid/malicious fellow citizens + EC = they won.

        • PunditusMaximus

          Are you certain that’s pragmatic?

          • Rob in CT


            • PunditusMaximus

              But if nursing grudges is pragmatic, what other unacceptable activities become pragmatic? What if we’re allowed to draw conclusions about individual candidates based on their stated policy preferences?

              This is a long, scary road, and it ends with thinking us purity trolls occasionally have a good point.

              • Rob in CT

                Massive eyeroll.

                • Brien Jackson

                  It’s truly amazing that people as good at making allies and winning people over as PM haven’t taken over the Democratic Party yet.

              • Brien Jackson

                Their real policy preferences or the ones you admitted to making up out of whole cloth?

        • vic rattlehead

          Me too. And once again a Tool song becomes stuck in my head:

          Wear the grudge like a crown of negativity
          Calculate what we will or will not tolerate
          Desperate to control all and everything
          Unable to forgive your scarlet lettermen


      • liberalrob

        At some point, liberal have to stop accepting things and moving on. RWNJs don’t, they never stop, they never concede defeat.

        And that’s the point where the bullets start flying.

        I’d rather not make that trip unless it’s really necessary. RWNJs are a MINORITY. An ugly, loud, obnoxious one, yes. Capable of winning elections if everything falls their way, yes. But they are a minority.

        Liberals need to stop accepting things and moving on, yes. But that doesn’t mean nursing grudges like the Hatfields and McCoys.

  • Mike Furlan

    Working the refs works here because our culture worship jerks. In contrast Neymar got a three game suspension for sarcasticly applauding a ref as he left a game with a second yellow card. There is no room for a Bobby Knight in Football.

    In our last election almost 50 percent of the voters supported the biggest jerk they could find.

  • nemdam

    This explains the one non-marginal criticism I have of Hillary and her campaign. She needed to “work the refs” in order to dilute the effectiveness of the inevitable smear campaign. They knew it was coming, and there were sensible reasons to do what she did which is largely ignore it, but given that it was the only way the Republicans could win, she should’ve done more. Yet, none of the post-mortems I read about how awful Hillary was ever states this because to do so would admit that Hillary didn’t lose because of your pet issue or her personality but because she was facing a historic double standard.

    • Right–you can’t “work the refs” if the refs response is and always has been to attack you personally and professionally and not act as refs.

  • John F

    FWIW much of the MSM is only just starting to notice the flack from the left, they’ve been reflexively bending over backwards to appease the RWNJS for so long many seem to have forgotten that’s what they’re doing, that getting flack over that from the left is new and disturbing to them- so they’re pushing back, but…

    If you look, almost no one’s got their back. If you look at twitter feeds and article comments, when a non-RWNJer tries to minimize Comey, minimize the MSM’s role, blame the Dems… no one is supporting them, they get attacked from the left/ by liberals, no flying monkeys swoop in from the right to defend them (like they would if a RWNJ figure was arguing with the lefties)- sooner or later you’d think that these guys would figure out that they’ve wandered out on a limb.

    • I don’t read article comments, but that’s a good point about Twitter, and it’s an encouraging development I hadn’t really considered much. Maybe our Democrats is finally learning.

    • nemdam

      It’s been brewing since before the election, but I think Bernie’s Unity Blame the Democrats tour has unleashed something from the Democratic base. The abuse they are taking from the right, the media, and now the “left” may have awakened a sleeping giant. It now seems like the exception rather than the rule that liberals assume either the media, Republicans or anyone opposing them are acting in good faith. More so, it seems like Democrats are policing themselves to stop treating those with respect if they don’t respect you. It’s like the Democratic base has finally figured out they truly are the reality based party and are now aware they are in an abusive relationship with Republicans and the media. Whatever you want to call it, the Democratic base has been energized and acts with a fighting spirit the likes of which hasn’t been seen in a long time, if ever. At a minimum, the Democrats in Congress are resisting in an unprecedented fashion, and it’s pretty clear they are doing this because of pressure from the base. I hope and pray that this continues as that is what’s necessary to win in the future.

      • Bernie’s unity tour has made me spitting mad.

        • PunditusMaximus

          I totally buy that it’s the lefties getting too big for the Establishment-assigned britches that’s gonna get the Establishment types upset after 40 years of relentless Republican and media abuse didn’t even slightly bother them.

          • I’m pretty sure the backlash against Sanders has little to do with his economic positions and basically everything to do with asshattery like his asinine positions on women’s and minority issues. I’m well to Sanders’ left on economic issues (as well as everything else for that matter) and he’s still annoying the piss out of me. And I’m saying this as someone who voted for him in the primary.

            • PunditusMaximus

              Boy, Planned Parenthood are real sellouts, with with their 100% rating for Sanders.

              Why are people willing to buy this particularly insulting meme?

              • A good voting record on reproductive rights doesn’t absolve a person from doing or saying things that are dumb regarding women’s issues.

                • PunditusMaximus

                  My question is: why do people buy the meme that Bernie is bad on women’s issues when it’s trivial to look up his record and see that he has a long record of it not being his focus but being solid on those issues?

                • Brien Jackson

                  Because when you want to be President or set a policy agenda what you prioritize is far more important than how you voted as a legislator. You don’t have to look any further than someone like Michael Tracy to see how there’s nothing incomatible about this type of “socialism” or “populism” and white supremacy.

                • nemdam

                  Besides, we know from his record on guns and immigration that he will sellout on any non-explicit economic issue if he thinks it will win him votes from the WWC. Given his record, it makes no sense to think Bernie would protect reproductive rights if he thinks it would hurt him with the WWC or dilute his economic message.

                • Brien Jackson

                  Yeah, Sanders comments on open borders in the Vox interview are Exhibit A on why a lot of people aren’t comfortable when he starts talking about downplaying issues of concern to marginalized groups.

                • Bill Murray

                  I thought the LGM commentariat hated purity based arguments?

                • This isn’t a purity-based argument. No one is saying not to vote for Bernie because his stances on women’s issues aren’t perfect. No one’s saying he’s wrong on other issues because his stances on women’s issues aren’t perfect. We’re simply observing that his approach to women’s issues is imperfect. That doesn’t make him a NEOLIBERAL SELLOUT or whatever.

              • D.N. Nation

                “Bernie stepped in it last week. Happens to the best of ’em.”

                Why is this so hard to say? Hell, I even gave you a hedge!

            • Brien Jackson

              Bernie is having more and more trouble obscuring the fact that he was campaigning against Obama in 2016, and that he wants to blow up the Obama coalition by replacing upper middle class educated, liberal, professionals with working class whites, and sees downplaying a focus on gender and race-centric issues as crucial to doing so. To make matters work, the lazy narcissism just won’t go away, and instead of engaging in actual politics to bring people on board with his ideas and goals he makes statements about how his ideas “must be allowed” to win and lashes out at anyone who doesn’t already agree with him.

              Seriously, the guy is just Trump without the virulent racism.

              • PunditusMaximus

                the guy is just Trump without the virulent racism

                Unity! Pragmatism!

                • Brien Jackson

                  No one ever said I wanted unity with Bernie, the Bros, or their aims.

              • nemdam

                Seriously, the guy is just Trump without the virulent racism.

                Basically, instead of virulent racism he is indifferent to racism. He will chuck anyone and anything aside if he thinks it will lead to his Glorius Class Revolution.

                Also, the narcissism is intertwined with his politics. You have to be a narcissist to believe only you get to define a “true” progressive and if you think you are too good to join the party you want to represent as President and speak on behalf of.

                • Brien Jackson

                  No, I think that’s too far. What he is is an arrogrant old white guy who thinks he has all of the answers, and that includes knowing better than people of color what’s good for them and how various socio-political actors and factors impact them. So if a non-white trans female sees corporate America as more friendly to her very existence than the average rural white American Bernie wants to serve as the base of his political coalition, she’s just mistaken and everything will work out in the end because Bernie knows best and will save everyone if we would just submit to his every word.

                • Bill Murray

                  so he’s not a purity troll, like you?

              • efgoldman

                Bernie is having more and more trouble obscuring the fact that he was campaigning against Obama in 2016

                He is not a Democrat
                The bros are not Democrats
                Allowing him to set the Democratic agenda is like allowing termites to design Terminix’ policies and procedures.
                Punditus and his buddies are termites.

            • Brien Jackson

              I’m well to Sanders’ left on economic issues

              Yeah, this amuses me too: Sanders is as far as I can tell much more of a neoliberal than I am.

      • Brien Jackson

        Being an impatient, lazy, and arrogant fuckwad Bernie just can’t help but to overplay his hand.

      • John F

        and it’s pretty clear they are doing this because of pressure from the base

        Some of it due to pressure from the base, some of it is because they have finally figured out that the pre-1994 rules no longer apply. The GOP is never going to negotiate, they are not going to honor any “gentlemen’s” agreements, the GOP has not done anything in good faith in 20 years.

        What I was most disappointed about with respect to Obama was that even though he’d been in the Senate it seemed to take him so long to realize there was never going to be a bargain or real negotiation, it was obstructionism all the way on any issue that mattered. We no longer had to worry about a Dem president “triangulating” – the GOP wouldn’t allow it.

        • liberalrob

          He wasn’t a Senator all that long. Not even one term. That’s why I supported Hillary in 2008, his lack of experience. I wish he’d been more combative from the get-go, sure. In the end though, he did OK. And he was historic. He towers in comparison to the nitwits who preceded and followed him, that’s for sure.

    • The Lorax

      I go out of my way to complain about shitty coverage by the papers and NPR News. This includes contacting the individual reporter. I do this only because I’ve consciously decided to start working the refs myself.

  • Alworth

    There’s a further factor: the media don’t care if Dems howl. They quickly dismiss it as politics and seem genuinely unperturbed. This is another species of wanting to look fair, I think. They know Dems and understand them. Republicans may be from the sticks or the south, though–unknowable places who despise the press for their city ways. They always bend over backward when “real America” squawks.

    • Hondo

      I think it’s possible that the bothsiderism is due to an edict from corporate management. I cite the Lester Mooves video where he was yucking it up with his boys about how Trump is terrible for the country, but great for ratings. It was in his interest to play up the horse race and have it to be close enough to attract eyeballs. To do this, Clinton had to be dragged down a bit to Trumps level, hence the need for the EMAILS reporting while largely ignoring her detailed policy positions.
      The press has learned nothing from their Iraq War failures. The shareholders continued to be happy throughout that period, so no harm done.

      • Thiis is explicitly the argument of some guy on a blog who points out that MSNBC, under Zuckerman, takes an explicitly sports style of argumentation into politics. Can’t find a link but his analysis was spot on.

        • nemdam

          Jeff Zucker has explicitly said he sees panelists as characters in a drama, and this is why he continues to have Trump surrogates like Jeff Lord on even if they are liars.


          • Q.E.Dumbass

            Gillibrand/Franken 2020: Throw Jeff Zucker In A Woodchipper and CNN Into the Sun

            • cleek

              Gillibrand/Franken 2020

              hell yeah

            • My only issue with this proposal is that Franken is far too good a Senator to waste with the Vice Presidency. I certainly can get behind the slogan (though I might be on board with excluding Anderson Cooper, and possibly Van Jones if he reverts back to his old self).

              • Q.E.Dumbass

                Yeah, those are the only two people worth saving at Jeff Zucker’s Daily Derphole.

              • LeeEsq

                Gillibrand/Clooney 2016.

      • Alworth

        That’s probably a factor. Surely. But when you look at particular writers, especially those who do reporting and opinion, you see a kind of casual contempt for Dems; its analogue for Republicans is fear. They see Dems as supercilious and deserving of their contempt. They knew Hillary hadn’t committed any legal crimes, but they wanted to punish her for affective crimes. And they are protected from criticism for their failures–demonizing Hillary and giving Trump a pass–because they already regard the left as contemptible.

        Not really sure what the solution is.

        • People seem to be forgetting that they treated Dukakis, Carter, and Gore with the same contempt. They tried it with Bill Clinton but his white trash sexuality actually made him more masculine and more popular in the public mind. The press has hated dems, passionately, since Kennedy died and Johnson left the building and has pilloried and parodied them as feminine losers at the behest of the republicans and the birchers/billionaires for a long, long, time. They tried their dandiest with Clinton, succeeded beyond their wildest dreams with Gore, and tried it again on Obama with that metrosexual/gay crap. They just ran their anti democratic/misogyny rig again with Clinton and accidentally won due to russian interference.

          They will do it again with the next Democrat because the press always fucks over the democrat as either a woman in a man’s body or a man in a woman’s body. Something creepy and undependable and weird, at any rate.

          • nemdam

            You forgot Kerry. I mean, how much of a pussy do you have to be if you want to end a war even if your have a Purple Heart? The only logical answer is that your medal if fake.

            • so-in-so

              Bronze Star, Kerry has a Bronze Star (awarded for valor in action at personal risk) as well as the Pruple Heart (for being wounded in action, but you don’t need to be particularly brave to earn it).

  • Hondo

    This supports my opinion that as long as conservatives have significant political control, we will continue to be hamstrung as a country. We will be unable to solve the problems that need solved, we will continue to have civil rights dragged into the 1850s, we will continue to see funding for science, public education, environmental protection enforcement to be decimated.
    Democrats just don’t have what it takes to effectively fight against republicans. Between the media noise machine allied against both them and factual reporting, and the continued belief that it’s still acceptable to bring a position paper to a gun fight, they will continue to lose.
    My wife was listening to one of those Move On conference calls where they were discussing the planning of future protests and some woman called it to ask what songs are they going to sing at the protests, and she proceeded to make some suggestions. I found this an infuriating example of why democrats will continue to get their asses kicked. I guarantee you that the republicans don’t bring stupid shit like that up at their planning meetings. They are too busy figuring out how they will cut your throat.
    This is nothing new. And it is why we are doomed to submit to these conservative assholes until they destroy the country. There is no cause for optimism.

    • burritoboy

      “My wife was listening to one of those Move On conference calls where they were discussing the planning of future protests and some woman called it to ask what songs are they going to sing at the protests, and she proceeded to make some suggestions.”

      Precisely. And this large gaggle of what are effectively infants (in their political understanding) is what we collectively call a political party, even though we all know it isn’t one.`It would make sense if we were planning to hijack it and make it into something real, but look at the response that the most mild suggestions that Obama wasn’t a party builder got here.

    • Tyro

      I think the reality is that we have to stop looking at western Europe as our model for understanding how American politics should be and can be, but rather we should be looking that Latin America. Latin America is our destiny, with a white conservative elite maintaining their wealth with a majority in poverty or the lower middle class.

      • liberalrob

        A.k.a. a “banana republic.” Nice.

        No, not the clothes store.

    • LosGatosCA

      I’m sure there are just as many idiots on the right at their conference calls.

      Those ‘Moran’ signs didn’t make themselves. And the grass roots cost them at least 4 senate seats I can remember DE, IN, NV, MO with batshit crazy wingnuts.

      The difference is up at the top. Democratic politicians have a completely different concept of politics than what it actually is. Politics is mostly a grind and a simple brand that keeps the base motivated. McConnell (Teid did too)gets the grind part. And the Republican brand is pretty clear and hits the right emotional pitch for their base – bring the hate and get tax cuts for the rich is pretty dependable for their base.

      Democrats don’t get the grind part – off year governor elections in blue states tell the tale there. And not-the-Republicans is not reliable as a brand to motivate the base.

      • LosGatosCA

        Reid, not Teid.

        It’s possible that Shumer and the next generation will come to understand that you can’t expect Republicans to treat you any better than they treat each other, and the Golden Rule is simply a sign of weakness to them.

        They are showing potential to this point, which is all you can expect right now.

        • I’ve repeatedly complained about the Golden Rule. It shouldn’t be “treat others how you want to be treated”; it should be “treat others how they want to be treated.” The difference is actually rather important, even if you accept that the phrasing of the original was intended to mean the latter. Different people want different things. This is one of the most important things I wish were more widely understood, because a lot of marginalisation in society comes from people simply being ignorant that other people don’t share their preferences and don’t spend time considering how this may affect said other people.

          But yeah, it doesn’t work with people like the GOP leadership. They don’t give a shit about people, as Perez keeps saying, so an approach like that won’t actually solve anything.

          As for the Dems’ poor performance in recent off-year elections, they definitely could’ve been better, but a lot of it was probably structural. There are just gigantic structural disadvantages to the incumbent president’s party in our electoral system, because too many voters don’t understand what Congress and state governments do. They just assume the president runs everything. It’s a major problem with civic education in this country and I don’t know if any amount of Democratic activism in 2010 or 2014 could’ve averted a bloodbath. Too many people were going to blame Obama no matter what.

          I think this may actually be one reason I’m actually fairly optimistic about our future going forward, despite the shitgibbon being almost as terrible as I expected him to be (I half expected him to have already started a nuclear war, so on that front he’s been slightly better than expected. So far. It may not hold). I’d underestimated just how much of 2010 and 2014 were attributable to structural disadvantages to the president’s party. Given how bigly unpopular the shitgibbon is now, that means we’ll have significant advantages in 2018 and possibly 2020 as well. I didn’t expect a 21-point nationwide swing away from the Republicans, and if the two special elections we’ve had so far this year are even remotely indicative of our chances going forward, then 2018 is going to look pretty damned amazing. If even half of that holds (i.e., nationwide swing of 10.5 points back to us rather than 21), we could retake the House.

          And the base is fired up for activism in a way I’ve never seen before in my life. People hated Bush 43, but not like this. I’ve never seen anything like this. I’d only read about widespread activism like this in historical accounts by Howard Zinn and the like. I didn’t think it was still possible.

    • liberalrob

      I guarantee you that the republicans don’t bring stupid shit like that up at their planning meetings.

      Sure they do. Somebody thought purple heart band-aids were a great idea. And tea bags. They were stupid ideas, and they brought people together, and they won elections.

      The difference is, it’s not unusual for stupid people to think up stupid shit. You don’t take note of it. It’s jarring when those you consider to be smart people think up stupid shit. But if the stupid shit is what it takes to win elections, is it really stupid shit? If singing songs together unites a group of protesters more strongly and inspires people thousands of miles away, is it really stupid?

  • Bruce Vail

    After such a huge story did NYT editorialize for Comey’s resignation?

    • Yes–when they have called for the heads of democrats for much, much, less of an abuse of power than this.

    • nemdam

      Given their industry, I’m guessing the NYT editorialized for Comey to get a promotion. Ya know, failing upwards and all that.

  • Karen24

    The left shies away from the one thing we have that they don’t — identity politics. The world really is a lot worse for women and dark-skinned people than it is for white males. We think it unjust that the overwhelming majority of the population is shut out of the good things in life — education and wealth, and the power and leisure that they produce — because of an accident of birth. Yeah, I know that WVA miners have it rough, but they have a million time less rough than a black single mother in Detroit. We are the majority and they are not. We really need to copy the RW and announce that our side is the real America and the Nazis who voted for Trump should have exercised some Personal Responsibility (TM).

    • I’m in agreement with all of this except that I completely reject the distinction between identity politics and class politics. Almost all “identity politics” issues end up being correlated with economic status (queer people being vastly likelier to be unemployed, for one obvious example). You can’t separate any of this stuff; it’s all inextricably linked.

      The “class not race” asshats (and others making similar arguments about other forms of marginalisation) on “our side” definitely need to shut the fuck up, though.

    • I couldn’t disagree with this more. The right wing has identity politics too, it’s just white identity politics, rural identity politics, etc. It’s neither morally or tactically sound to validate the GOP framing that American politics is everyone versus the white man. It’s a fraud — the rich white Republicans have no solidarity with poor whites.

      • As I said, I reject the existence of identity politics as a separate concept from class politics. I don’t feel the issue is whites versus everyone else; it’s more bigots versus everyone else, and the bigots have a large overlap with whites (and with the GOP).

        I agree that the rich white Republicans don’t have any solidarity with the poor ones, but I’m not entirely sure the poor ones are even capable of recognising this, or would care if they did. I’ve covered this several times already, but people are very bad at recognising that people they regard as authority figures aren’t trustworthy, particularly if those figures appeal to the supposed benevolence of an ideology. Furthermore, there’s a recognised tendency of people to tell lies to benefit an in-group at the expense of an out-group (“blue lies”) and as a result, it’s not even clear the rank-and-file Republicans would even care if they realised they were being lied to, because they might think the lies are beneficial. The only people that might disabuse them of this notion in any large numbers appear to be others they regard as fellow group members.

        I agree that the rich Republicans are not economic allies to the poorer ones. I’m simply not sure the poorer ones care. They’ve voted on racial animus rather than economic issues for decades. When people give you that clear a sign of who they are and what they value, I suspect you need to believe them.

        • Brien Jackson

          And to drive this home, Clinton was WAY out in front of Sanders and got to his left on issues like wage equality, paid leave, and other economic issues that disproportionately affect women.

      • PunditusMaximus

        Lefty idpol is an attempt by oligarchic elites to expand the success of white nationalism in gaining total fealty while delivering endless poverty.

        Patriarchy, white supremacy, and class. These are the three major systems of oppression, and you don’t get to opt out of any.

        • efgoldman

          PM’s leftier than you are
          Neener neener
          Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah

          Go away and play in Bernie’s sandbox. At least he’s stopped pretending to be a Democrat and care about Democrats.

  • JdLaverty

    Christ, it’s hard for me to decide who among these actors (comey, NYT and other msn editors, GOP fake scandal manufacturers, etc) is most deserving of an actual physical beating. I personally believe that Comey was motivated, more than anything else, by fear of what would happen to his political future if republicans branded him as a traitor. In other words, comey is first and foremost a cowardly little shit, and that’s why he wrote that letter. All his behavior over the summer (the leaking, the press conference, the letter) suggests that he’s a spineless little worm whose number one priority was covering his own ass.
    The Times has always had a hate on for the Clintons, and Clinton-bashing has always been a go-to tactic for MSM outlets that fear accusations of liberal bias. This too is motivated by cowardice; it’s also a sign that the people running the paper are stupid and naive (republicans are going to whine about liberal bias no matter what, always).
    So I blame the whole bunch of craven, bootlicking cowards from Comey to cillizza to the NYT for helping the GOP literally throw an election. Not exactly surprising. What really bothers me is Obama sitting back and doing jack shit. There were a million ways he could’ve alerted the public to the Russian efforts to manipulate the election and put trump in the white house, and the strong possibility that members of Trump’s team were engaging in what amounts to treason to win the election. The first part of this was a known fact by the time the comey letter came out. Allowing the FBI to literally slander Hillary while sitting on actual evidence of treason and election rigging and Russian meddling isn’t ‘staying above the fray’ and ‘maintaining the appearance of impartiality’, it’s the Obama tipping the scales in favor of Trump by deciding to let his own people act like straight-up oppo researchers for the GOP. As much as I hate to say it, Obama is just as culpable as anyone else when it comes to the FBI making a concerted effort to fuck up Clintons campaign. Another instance in which his desire to be all high-minded and shit ended up having the opposite effect.

    • PunditusMaximus

      What really bothers me is Obama sitting back and doing jack shit

      I think you have to use this font when you say this sort of thing

      • LosGatosCA

        I mean what was he thinking when he reappointed Bernanke and Gates? And appointed Hagel and Comey?

        Really, I’d like to be in on the eleventy dimensional chess game, too. Explain it to me like you would a small child. I’m not proud, make it so clear I’ll be ashamed I didn’t understand it earlier. I can take it.

        At least I get that Erskine Bowles was some sort of nominal Pete Peterson loving Democrat. But Comey?

        • Tyro

          I mean what was he thinking when he reappointed Bernanke and Gates? And appointed Hagel and Comey?

          My take on it is that Obama was making the sort of decisions he wanted to make in the political environment he wished he had, rather than the one he actually had. He had a vision of the kind of bipartisan cooperation he wanted to see in Washington, and he was going to make it happen, reality be damned.

          • LosGatosCA

            It would be pretty stupid to believe that, wouldn’t it?

            So I guess it must be something much more complicated than my simple mind can comprehend.

  • Davis

    Let’s give some credit to Eric Alterman, who has been using the phrase “working the refs” for a long time now.

  • PunditusMaximus

    Liberals’ job is to enable conservatives’ domestic abuse, and the media is the enforcer on this relationship.

    cf: Karpman Drama Triangle

  • Crusty

    A side takeaway is that Comey is incompetent. He’s the director of the FBI. He might have acceptable legal skills and/or be a good investigator, but he is the director of that organization. He needs to manage it, and if he can’t manage his agents without meddling in the election, or even going to the public and managing through the press, like a coach or manager who talks to his players through the press or twitter instead of in the locker room, he’s incompetent. Maybe he’d be good as number two, or as a U.S. Attorney, but he obviously isn’t management material.

    • mnuba

      It is always so difficult to tell with conservative actors what’s due to malevolence, as opposed to pure incompetence.

      • LosGatosCA

        Purely malevolent incompetence seems pretty accurate to me.

        I always thought Bush II’s motto was ‘I’m not motivated to do my job and you can’t make me do it.’

  • LosGatosCA

    The only line in the original post you need to remember is:

    “But nowhere does the article say that Comey feared how Democrats would react if he raked Clinton over the rhetorical coals without bringing charges. Of course he didn’t! Democrats don’t scare anybody.”

    A Democrat gave him his fucking job! Even after he made his Republican reputation as a Clinton hater.

    There’s a message in there somewhere, but damned if any Democrat can figure it out.

  • LosGatosCA

    So, here’s a brain teaser, no cheating looking up the answers on the intertubes, either.

    Which party’s presidential nominee conceded the night of the election, before all the votes were counted in Florida and California not realizing he was going to win the popular vote?

    Which party’s senator did not concede for 8 months, delaying a Democratic filibuster proof majority for six months?

    Which party’s president almost 6 years into an administration that was obstructed at every turn appoints a professional Clinton hating Republican to be chief investigator, who then fabricates phony ‘investigative’ reports into smears that tip the election against his potential successor?

    Which party’s Senate Majority Leader took about 1 fucking hour after a SCOTUS justice’s death to commit to a year long blockade in service to an unconscionable political theft of the Supreme Court majority?

    Bonus points if you can detect the differing patterns – time to recognition and commitment to fight to the end. It’s in the DNA.

  • LosGatosCA

    Actually Democrats don’t have to adopt Republican tactics to win.

    All they need to have tattoed on their foreheads is this simple trick:

    ‘Don’t be a fucking patsie.’

    Really, it’s not that hard.

    • LosGatosCA

      I meant it’s not that hard for people who don’t want to be patsies.

      I see my error clearly now.

It is main inner container footer text