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Great Moments In False Equivalence

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Janet Jackson – Nasty (Music Video) from Mary Lambert, Director on Vimeo.

It has occurred to New York Times Climate Troofer In Chief Bret Stephens that Both Sides Do It:

The real winner in Britain’s election is Jeremy Corbyn, who led the Labour Party to a 32-seat gain over its disastrous electoral showing in 2015. Corbyn is a man whose only notable concession to conventional politics has been a necktie. He has done as much to shove the Labour Party to the nasty left as Donald Trump has shoved the Republican Party to the ugly right.

OK, you think Trump, a racist authoritarian buffoon currently trying to take health care from more than 20 million people to pay for a massive upper-class tax cut. But Jeremy Corbyn wants to raise taxes on the most affluent to pay for benefits for the less affluent, perhaps even making the political economy of the United Kingdom more like such desolate hellholes as France and Germany. Equally scary when you think about it.

I’ll leave the final word to Nathan:

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  • Q.E.Dumbass

    At this point, the only way I could possibly support subscribing to/buying the FTFNYT is if each read paper and online article is accompanied by sending hate mail to even-the-liberal Pinch Sulzberger. (This is, of course, assuming that for some reason you can’t/don’t use private browsing* — or even Twitter — to get your news from the Times).

    *Private browsing to evade paywalls doesn’t seem to work for The Nation, for some reason

    • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

      Hate-clicks are still clicks, and clicks are still money. NYT gambled that putting its thumb on the scale for Trump during the campaign would pay off with more sweet sweet clickage, and every click we give now is their return on that investment. The rat needs a shock, not another cookie.

      • Scott Lemieux

        I don’t think they hired Stephens for clicks — online advertising rates being what they are, there’s no way they’re clearing a profit on his salary (even assuming he’s increased traffic at all, which is dubious.) I think they’re substantively committed to Challenging Our Readers.

        • tsam

          Challenge is a strange choice of words

          • Hogan

            Pissing down your back and telling you it’s raining is a KIND of challenge.

            • Scott Lemieux

              Hogan’s got it!

        • DAS

          There is a segment of NYCers who think of themselves as liberals but are to the right of the NY Times editorial pages. The NYT is going after those NYCers. And from what I can tell anecdotally, it’s working.

          Such NYCers love them some Brett Stephens because he “sticks to the facts” even if they will aver “he is a bit conservative”.

          • efgoldman

            There is a segment of NYCers who think of themselves as liberals but are to the right of the NY Times editorial pages.

            The same people who actually read the “style” section without going into a rage about Muffy and Buffy’s two million dollar condo being too small.

            • Q.E.Dumbass

              Which will be one of our shibboleths when determining who to throw into the woodchipper.

            • DAS

              They are also the real estate appraisors who figure out how much Muffy’s various properties are worth, the directors and development officers of the various charities Buffy donates lots of money to, the lawyers who set up Buffy and Muffy’s parents’ trusts, etc. IOW, they know which side their bread is buttered on.

      • twbb

        “NYT gambled that putting its thumb on the scale for Trump during the campaign would pay off with more sweet sweet clickage, and every click we give now is their return on that investment.”

        They’re already starting to thumb the scale for 2018, because reasons.

        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/11/us/democrats-midterm-elections.html

    • JdLaverty

      Just out of curiosity what does FTFNYT stand for? The first thing that pops into my head is “Fuck the fucking New York Times” both because it fits the letters and also it was what came to mind every time they published a “Private email server casts shadowy clouds over Clinton campaign” story. I suppose it could mean something else like, hell, idk, Falafel The Friendship New York Times.

      • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

        Your guess is correct. FWIW, I noticed* with a bitter chuckle the Times finally ran a cover article about the troubling shadowy clouds of trouble shadowing T. rump after Comey’s testimony. Day late, 20M people’s health coverage short.

        * (on the cover of the print edition in my neighborhood 7-Eleven. Still sticking with my “not one click” pledge, TYVM).

        • Q.E.Dumbass

          Well, “not one click” is what he have private browsing for (although I rarely read NYT Online in the first place).

          • Moondog von Superman

            Private browsing doesn’t mean your clicks are not counted.

      • mds

        Falafel The Friendship New York Times.

        By amazing coincidence, this is how we say “Fuck the fucking New York Times” in front of Grandma.

    • Whirrlaway

      Well, compare e.g. the Coos County World. Like they said, you get what you settle for. If you never settle, you don’t get anything.

      • Anna in PDX

        Wow this is weird. It was the nearest real newspaper to where I lived growing up… what are the odds of seeing it compared to the NYT online? Mind blown

  • AMK

    There’s still such a rich trove of Very Serious Trump=Sanders literature, it would be a shame to let it go to waste when all he has to do is change like three words to get his paycheck.

  • Simeon
    • jpgray

      I think that’s overstating things a bit – from what I saw of the leadership races, especially the initial one, re-nationalizaton, ending tuition fees, and debt-financed infrastructure investment were seen as electoral suicide, as doubling down on what killed Labour in 2010, as playing right into a frame of innumerate spendthrift irresponsibility. In terms of the consensus on what sort of policy was electorally plausible, that was all treated as radical.

      What interests me, though, is how far a “radical” or “lefty” program is perceived as such solely through the superficial lens of candidate “character” nonsense – what “everybody knows” about a politician.

      I think you can get away with proposing rather staid moves back to past mainstream left positions AND nonetheless avoid scorn from far leftists if you (1) break with the consensus on what is deemed “possible” to offer in a national campaign and, crucially, (2) appear as though you may occasionally sleep on park benches and are a reputed true-believer weirdo.

      (2) appears to massively inoculate a candidate against charges from the left of insincerity and cynical pandering, even when that’s what’s happening!

      Those charges from the left were absolutely a drag on HRC (not to derail the thread). She got zero credit for big breaks with the Dem consensus in a progressive direction in 2016, just as she got zero credit for having a saner health care policy than candidate Obama in 2008.

      How much of this lack of credit is down to being not at all scruffy or wild-eyed, and being so thoroughly associated with the consensus triangulation of the 90s? I fully believe she could have proposed nationalization of all oil companies and STILL would have received zero credit from the left.

      • CS Clark

        Something can be both electoral suicide in 2010 and your best chance for victory five years later. Just as something can win you a massive majority in 1997 and yet not be smart electoral politics 20 years later. I’d love to think that a more radical Edward would have at least stopped Cameron winning in 2015, but it’s not a given just because of 2017.

        And of course a lot of the leftier ideas have been polling as supported by a pretty reliable majority but have been shut out because a) Labour political types assumed the polls were wrong and b) the electorate assumed that no matter how much they liked the idea of renationalising railways* Labour would/could never actually do it.

        I hold no particular hope for Labour not being derided as neo-liberal sellouts, even if Corbyn is bulletproof. Especially if he’s serious about inviting some of his critics back to the front bench.

        *Although, is it renationalisation when a government takes control back from other foreign governments rather than private companies, as would be the case with many rail franchises?

        • jpgray

          I’d love to think that a more radical Edward would have at least stopped Cameron winning in 2015, but it’s not a given just because of 2017.

          From the outside looking in, Miliband *seemed* to be saddled with an enormous amount of pressure from various sources to be a plausible “yeah, but less” austerian on economic policy, and thus continuously wore the dazed expression of a man trying to ride two horses at the same time.

          There is significant danger of the public believing a leftist platform to be innumerate irresponsible debt-exploding madness, no question. But over-correction on that from a left party can collapse all appearance of authenticity and earnestness, which should be recognized as significantly dangerous as well, but is rarely given the same attention.

          • CS Clark

            You’re pretty much spot on, except I think a lot of it was self-induced and due to not wanting an open civil war in his party. And then being lukewarm, neither hot not cold, he was spat out.

            But that said I think that what I’m thinking is that people who feel vindicated by Corbyn – and incidentally, Lordy, it’s annoying to see some Americans use this as a proxy war without having lived through the last decade in British politics – need to keep in mind that being Right about being able to win the next election by being more radical doesn’t equate to being Right about failing to win the last election by not being radical enough. The Tory Safety First argument was a lot less true with a different Prime Minister, a future of endless austerity and the whole bloody Brexit fiasco.

            • jpgray

              Using this as evidence “Bernie woulda won” or that “all lefty all the time does well in all elections” is nuts.

              And I really hope I am not coming off as making any pretense of knowing what I’m talking about when it comes to UK politics. I think I know almost nothing, and am learning quite a bit from UK posters telling me (not in so many words) “even your almost nothing is dumb.”

              • CS Clark

                Oh no you’re sound, and sorry if you thought that was aimed at you rather than Twitter randos. Frankly I think *anyone* who thinks they know what’s going on in UK politics is kidding themselves, and that includes those who’re fully immersed in it. At least the Twitter randos aren’t as bad as those for whom ‘the wrong lessons are being learned’ is functionally equivalent to ‘I’m still 100% right.’

            • ASV

              The fact that Brexit happened in between these elections is a detail that basically everyone wanting to map this to the US leaves out. Like, if we got a do-over on the presidential election right now with Bernie as the nominee, he probably would win; but the context would be much different than it was last fall.

              • Perkniticky

                That is not really saying much. Of course if candidate A didn’t work out, you would try candidate B the next time. And because of our experience since the election, people would probably be more likely to vote in such a way as to prevent a Trump presidency. Hell, if we ran Hillary again at this point she would probably win.

          • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

            “There is significant danger of the public believing a leftist platform to be innumerate irresponsible debt-exploding madness, no question.”

            This sounds true, but flies in the face of:
            1) Republicans don’t care about deficits, except when Democrats are in office (and even then, it won’t ever make them switch sides)
            and
            2) vice versa

            It’s like a theoretical physics problem, where the only way to square these 3 things it seems is if you can prove the existence of some type of phantom particle independent voter who can be swayed to either side by a candidate’s position on deficits. And to the extent we know of the existence of this particle / constituency, it seems to be immeasurably small, no?

            • jpgray

              I think the right benefits from a sort of hard-choices glamor that has nothing to do with the economic merits. There’s a strong impulse to see cutbacks of services as righteous belt-tightening and thrifty economical virtue.

              On the merits, why tax increases aren’t seen as having those virtues is not clear.

              From the other direction, why public universities being made tuition free is seen as enervating, fiscally irrepsonsible crass bribery, while upper income tax cuts are not seen that way at all, demands a similar answer.

              I would suppose the disconnect comes down to the general association of cash with virtue.

              • Matt McIrvin

                There’s a sort of vulgar-libertarian attitude that ownership is morally primary–a tax cut is just letting me keep the hard-earned money that’s already mine, whereas any kind of social-welfare program is a handout to the undeserving.

                In the US, I think a lot of it is about class serving as a proxy for race. A majority of whites have an attitude left over from slave times that black people are chronically irresponsible and lazy and need to be reformed with a stern hand. Any kind of giveaway, they think, is letting them get away with something at our expense.

                • LosGatosCA

                  Shorter: racism and greed.

                  Or greed and racism.

                  Or greedy racism.

                  Or racist greed.

                  Tax cuts work on every level for people who abhor any sense of community other than their shared hate: religious bigot, racist, FYIGM, etc.

                  Tax cuts are more cash in my pocket, irresponsibility for common goods/infrastructure, and no compassion or caring for others, what a winning combination!

                • jpgray

                  This is dead on, but on the merits the attitude remains bizarre. For 99+% of the population, associating wealth redistribution with injustice and identifying the interests of grasping wealth with the interests of the entire economy is asking the wealthy to peel you like a potato.

            • Scott Lemieux

              Republicans don’t care about deficits

              They don’t care about deficits in their actions. But they pretend to care about deficits because it’s rhetorically useful. I have no problem with lefty politicians doing the same thing.

        • NeonTrotsky

          I’ve never understood why when British Government runs the railways its communism, but if the French or Dutch government does it its okay because reasons(I think only one of these countries actually has a contract but I think they have both been bidders on contracts IIRC).

      • (2) appear as though you may occasionally sleep on park benches and are a reputed true-believer weirdo… How much of this lack of credit is down to being not at all scruffy or wild-eyed…?

        This is a well-worn path, but I suspect it has something to do with lack of a penis. No woman politician that I can think of could get away with any of these things.

        • jpgray

          No question. The behavior we associate with political charisma runs flatly against sexist expectations for female behavior in this country (and others), laying an impossible trap for women. Bizarrely, this “charisma trap” I think is similar to the “funny trap” faced by female comedians.

          If I run over in my mind the women who have been described as “charismatic” politicians in the press, the writer seems often to be using it as another word for “attractive.” Which is not a great look for our society….

          • BiloSagdiyev

            “If I run over in my mind the women who…”

            You mean like Death Race?

            https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=iFSkL3W9yRg

            • jpgray

              Death Race is actually about ethics in 70s arcade game journalism….

              • libarbarian

                Don’t get me started on how SJWs forced the creation of a MRS PacMan!

                P.S. Did you know that the “cherries” are actually “red pills”?

      • GoBlue72

        Or maybe – just maybe – the “kids” are smarter than you would like to admit, as much fun as sneering can be. And its not the scruff they are responding to, but actual sincerity. Which is what they wisely see when Candidate X runs on a set of politics that aligns with what that Candidate has been supporting for literally DECADES and the other candidate seems to have stumbled upon her “progressivism” just in the last week – and even then feels the need to trim it back to be “pragmatic”.

        • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

          Leading the largest Federal push for universal coverage in 25 years = discovering your progressivism last week.

          Hilary’s progressive bona fides were more than adequate, certainly more than any Dem nominee of recent vintage [cue list of exceptions], but she didn’t seem to talk about them much. I don’t know if this was a deliberate messaging decision on her part, or the media refusing to budge from the Lady Macbeth of Little Rock classic narrative, but I kept finding myself wishing we’d hear more about her time at the health care task force, Children’s Defense Fund, etc.

  • TheDeadlyShoe

    That surely is high-grade hippy-punching. Theresa May’s going to be relying on the political wing of a violent ethnic militia to keep her government and avoid another election, but Corbyn’s the ‘nasty left’. Ok.

    • FOARP

      The DUP are not a nice bunch (few in either of the main Northern Irish parties have completely clean hands) but let’s be clear about this: the DUP’s relationship with the Loyalist paramilitaries is not the official one that exists between Sinn Fein and the IRA. The DUP may wink at the UVF/UDA etc., but they did (grudgingly) disavow there endorsements, condemn their attacks, and (grudgingly) support action against them by the police and the army.

      By contrast, Sinn Fein proudly proclaim their links with the IRA, which are on an official basis, touting the endorsements they get from “POWs” (i.e., men who were jailed for brave feats like, say, leaving a bomb in a high-street with a timer set, or dragging men from the bossom of their families and shooting them dead in front of their children), and is led by IRA men. That’s what “the political wing of a violent ethnic militia” looks like.

      • Daragh

        +1 – I hate saying nice things about the DUP or loyalists generally, but they aren’t the ones who came up with the Proxy Bomb.

      • TheDeadlyShoe

        Certainly its not for lack of trying.

        The [Ulster Resistance] was launched at a three thousand-strong invitation-only meeting at the Ulster Hall. The rally was chaired by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Press Officer Sammy Wilson and addressed by party colleagues (DUP Party Founder) Ian Paisley, Peter Robinson and Ivan Foster. Also on the platform was Alan Wright, the chairman of the Ulster Clubs. The launch rally was followed by a number of similar assemblies across Northern Ireland.
        At a rally in Enniskillen, Peter Robinson announced: “Thousands have already joined the movement and the task of shaping them into an effective force is continuing. The Resistance has indicated that drilling and training has already started. The officers of the nine divisions have taken up their duties.”[5]
        At a rally in the Ulster Hall, Paisley spoke of a need for an extra-governmental Third Force to fight against the aims of Irish republicanism. He was then filmed dramatically placing a red beret on his head and standing to attention.

        DUP was the only major political group to actually oppose the Good Friday Agreement. They are generally assholes.

        • Incontinentia Buttocks

          They are also evangelical Christian loons, who oppose abortion and gay rights and many of whom deny evolution and climate change,

          • farin

            Fascinating that the furious anti-papists would sign on to the essentially Catholic-inspired fetus fetish.

            • FOARP

              Not so fascinating when you consider that every NI party opposed changing the law on abortion (yes, that includes the SDLP, whose MPs long sat with Labour and took the Labour whip).

        • FOARP

          “DUP was the only major political group to actually oppose the Good Friday Agreement. They are generally assholes.”

          You’ll get no disagreement here. It’s a toss-up as to whether Paisley was more hated in the Republic or in mainland UK, in both he is the man that gets blamed either first or second for the fact that the Troubles started and continued for so long.

        • Daragh

          “DUP was the only major political group to actually oppose the Good Friday Agreement. They are generally assholes.”

          There’s another prominent UK politician who opposed the GFA. Struggling to remember his name… tip of my tongue.

      • GoBlue72

        The English deserved the Troubles. They brought it all on themselves for invading Ireland in the 1st place and then doubling down by their horrific treatment of the native Catholic population. In this, Corbyn was right as well. (As well as being right about the Falklands and pretty much every other criticism he’s made of the UK foreign policy establishment being obsessed with reliving some fantasy of the “golden” age of empire.)

        • FOARP

          Yes, Tim Parry deserved to have his legs blown off and then die in hospital when his parents had to turn off his life support machine.

          It’s incredibly easy to bloviate about another country’s misery, isn’t it?

          • Ahuitzotl

            to be fair, GoBlue is just as useless bloviating about US misery

        • Gareth

          “They brought it all on themselves for invading Ireland in the 1st place”

          That was in 1169. Any other outrages in the last 800 years that you’d like to see addressed?

        • jben

          Oh boy.

          In addition to what everyone else has said, let me point out a few more reasons that this attitude is stupid and morally blinkered.

          1. While it is technically true that the original cause of this mess was the English invasion, and the Cromwellian Settlement, that was hundreds of years ago! By the time of the Troubles, the Anti-Catholic laws had been repealed quite some time before. This is not to say that Catholics in Northern Ireland had nothing to complain about-far from it!- but it was not as if Catholics were anywhere near as oppressed as they were in the 1700’s.

          2. By the time of the Troubles, the real antagonists to the Catholic community were the Protestant Northern Irish. The government in London by this stage was not so much a party to the dispute as a (rather incompetent and cack-handed) mediator. Hell, even the deployment of British troops to the North was originally intended to create some semblance of peace and order in what was rapidly becoming a chaotic situation!

          3. While Catholics in Northern Ireland did face a great deal of discrimination, the political system still left enough space for them to redress their grievances by peaceful means. There was no reason to start an armed struggle.

          4. Even if an armed struggle had been necessary, I struggle to see how that justifies bombing say, a pub in a Unionist area, or a shopping center. I can see how attacking various military targets might be justifiable in those circumstances, but what, exactly, is the moral justification for the kind of blatant terroristic atrocities that the IRA routinely committed? What is the justification for the use of torture, or the practice of deliberately terrorizing and even killing Protestant civilians?

          I mean, I am sympathetic to Irish nationalism in some ways, and I would be perfectly ok with Northern Ireland and the rest of Ireland agreeing to unite! But no, sorry, the IRA were not morally right. They were, at bottom, thugs and killers- no matter how much they may have thought otherwise.

    • gyrfalcon

      It’s not a ‘nasty right’ until BoJo and Farage join together to belt out a rousing chorus of “Tomorrow Belongs To Me” live on the Beeb.

      (And even then Bret Stephens would likely cavil over whether they sung it properly in tune.)

    • Murc

      Theresa May’s going to be relying on the political wing of a violent ethnic militia to keep her government and avoid another election, but Corbyn’s the ‘nasty left’.

      Slightly OT, but lost in the scrum is that this is happening at a time when NI is mired in its own giant political crisis.

      Northern Ireland’s government utterly collapsed about two months ago, in large part because the leader of the DUP, Arlene Foster, has refused to step aside in the wake of an enormous financial scandal. Sinn Fein refuses to participate in a government with her, and this triggered an election that, while SF didn’t win, it increased its vote share and thus its leverage.

      With a deadlock formed, it looked like NI might slip back to direct rule. At this point Westminster started paying attention, because Ireland returning to direct rule right around the same time Brexit negotiations are about to hit would really, really suck for them. They sent an utterly useless mediator, and kept pushing back the deadline for NI to either form a government or be ruled from Westminster again.

      You know what that whole situation didn’t need? A snap general election. A snap general election in which all the moderate parties in NI got utterly wiped out, leaving the DUP and SF as the last ones standing in the most polarized NI climate in decades.

      This situation is bad, but it could be salvaged with careful, strategic leadership and attention from Westminster.

      And then Theresa May invited the DUP into her government and is utterly dependent on them for her continued political survival.

      Power-sharing relies massively on the perceived neutrality of the UK government. That neutrality is basically impossible with the DUP in government; there’s no fucking way SF acquiesces to that without, at the very least, their ongoing demand that Arlene Foster get the fuck out being met. But nobody in NI wants direct rule either.

      The whole thing is a fucking mess and May just exacerbated it. Things could get real hot come July.

      • sibusisodan

        > This situation is bad, but it could be salvaged with careful, strategic leadership and attention from Westminster.

        You are such a card.

        It’s bizarrely encouraging that NI politics is now in a state where Cash for Ash can be such a scandal. It’s almost normal! The consequences, of course, are anything but.

      • Ronan

        I doubt there’s much chance of a return to violence. The context is too different, and the Rep of Ireland and the UK are not what they were in the 1960s. Worst you’ll get afaict is just wasted years of political dysfunction, and provide SF with the opportunity to reopen the question of a United Ireland(rhetorically at least, which theyve already started doing)
        Most plausibly, afaict(though there’s no reason Ive any more real insight than you do, so it’s not a declaration to authority), Id assume the DUP will be bought off with a bit of infrastructure spending, subsidies to NI farmers, or what have you.

        • jben

          I hope you are right.

  • ThresherK

    Why did the fcking Times hire this piece of used facial tissue?

  • Derelict

    A lot of Americans really do feel a government-run postal service is extreme leftism. That’s why Republicans spent so much time and effort 8 years ago trying to wipe out the Post Office.

    BTW, the ads are making my browser freeze.

    • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

      And yet seemingly every small town in much of rural America has a post office, with sometimes amazing frequency: I remember driving through upstate NY, and every 0.8 miles there was a new little town…and there was its post office.

      • twbb

        I wish there was a way to make deep red hippie-hating rural America actually experience a country where postal, electric, water, sewer, cable TV, phone, and internet service availability were totally dependent on the free market. Just for a year.

        • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

          Pssst…they don’t really hate any of those things, except when the benefits accrue to the wrong people.

          Suzy’s just a pretty hard-working teacher doing her best. Gus is a crusty old line worker earning his County pension. They only become shiftless dullards leaching off the teat of the hard-working American taxpayer when they choose the wrong skin tone/ birthplace.

          • BiloSagdiyev

            Yes. Your local small town postmaster? She works hard for her money.

            The US Postal Service? THOUSANDS OF LAZY THEM .

        • No Longer Middle Aged Man

          Better to drop water and sewer from that list since in large parts of rural America those are not public services — everybody has their own well and septic system.

          • Matt McIrvin

            Even in significant parts of suburban America.

            • efgoldman

              Even in significant parts of suburban America.

              My street in suburban RI. We have town water, but on the street extension across the way, they have wells. We have storm drains on the street, but when the town did the sewer project decades ago, there weren’t enough houses here (it was still mostly an abandoned apple orchard) so everybody on the street still has septic/cesspools.
              The town would put in sewers – at approximately $17k per house, and everyone with frontage has to agree to it. Fat chance.

          • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

            I’ve seen the point made that “we don’t need a police dept bc we all have guns, we look out for our neighbors, and besides if you call 911 by the time the cops arrive the bad guys have gone anyway.” The applicability of this argument to urban environments is rarely discussed.

            • farin

              And yet they all support giving cops am absolute license to kill, despite thinking they’re useless for fighting crime. IT’S ALMOST LIKE THIS ISN’T AN APPROACH BASED ON PRAGMATISM.

              • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

                Or thought.

          • twbb

            That is true, though SDWA also protects private wells indirectly by limiting what people can pump into the ground. And, of course, those wells don’t work so well without electricity running to the pump.

        • Derelict

          My wife has friends who ranch cattle in Nebraska. Without a constant stream of government handouts, they could not survive. Everything from price supports to farm payments to public grazing to direct cash in their pockets–all from the government.

          Yet, that same government is the source of all evil and it’s taking away all their freedom and liberty. Because they’re all proud, independent, self-made men and women who scrape their living from the raw soil with their bare hands and no help from anyone.

          • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

            Farm subsidies maintain our dying way of Real American rural life. Paying farmers not to grow was why Communism failed.

            And the DOD is definitely in no sense a glorified jobs program for rural white men. No sirree.

            • Solar System Wolf

              Or the prison industry.

          • Moondog von Superman

            There are price supports for beef?

            • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

              IIRC most feed crops are subsidized, and ranchers get a land subsidy.

    • rea

      a government-run postal service is extreme leftism.

      All started by that nasty extreme leftist, Benjamin Franklin.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        He hung out with the French. What did they ever do for Murka, anyway?!

      • farin

        I’m sure there were plenty of married Frenchmen who would testify to Franklin’s nastiness.

  • SIWOTI

    What do I have to do to join the ‘nasty left’?
    Lead a group of pitchfork wielding proletariat to take out bankers and 1%ers?
    Opine that Bret Stephens should be first up against the wall when the revolution comes?

    Or maybe just argue for things like a livable wage, workers rights, a clean environment, a government that actually works for the people, and an economy that doesn’t screw everyone but the richest among us?
    Inquiring minds want to know!

    • rea

      Nasty, nasty leftists, don’t mean a thing.

    • President Putinfluffer

      You know I had a preacher in my 0val 0ffice last week that explained that NOT living your life in poverty and misery is the surest way to HELL.

      So I’m actually just saving everybody from a eternity of Danmation.

      Your Welcome.

  • Daragh

    So, with all the caveats about Bret Stephens being a ridiculous person who shouldn’t be taken seriously, there is half a decent point being made here. If one is going to (rightly) point out the irresponsibility of putting right-wing extremists like Stephen Bannon and Michael Anton in positions of responsibility, there has to be some reciprocity for the likes of Seumas Milne and Andy Murray. If you’re going to be outraged at the GOP’s indulgence of open racism and willingness to tolerate hugely dodgy people as candidates, you have to at least raise an eyebrow at Corbyn’s record on anti-semitism, the indulgence of Ken Livingstone, and the strangely persistent rumours that George Galloway is being lined up for a comeback. And this is before we get to things like Corbyn’s own contested opinions on the Brighton bombing. Obviously Corbyn’s Labour – while not my cup of tea – is infinitely preferable in policy terms to the GOP. But the way politics is conducted is important too – Corbyn theoretically committed to remaining in the EU, but its a pretty open secret he half-arsed it and even deliberately undermined the Labour remain campaign. I have to think pro-remain youth turnout might have been dented a bit if they had had a chance to see that up close. And this is a running pattern – Corbyn seems to pull out the stardust when its him, personally, on the line, but the Brexit referendum, the locals, Copeland… well that’s another story. And while the losses are always the fault of disloyal saboteurs, victory belongs to Corbyn alone. This is but one aspect of a cult of personality I find deeply disturbing.

    For my own part, I’m alarmed and disgusted by May’s cuddling up to the DUP, just as I was Corbyn’s own cuddling up to the Provos. This is really, really bad for Ireland and the peace process. The only mitigation that can be given to May is that she’s been somewhat forced into this, whereas Corbyn made the choice on the merits.

    More to the point, I’m not sure the right lessons are being learned from this election. May is a sub-par politician whose record in office was atrocious. Her entire premiership was based on ignoring the technical and political difficulties of Brexit in favour of idiotic slogans and totally misunderstanding how little leverage the UK had. To add to this, she’s a terrible stump politician. She was, to my opinion, a hugely beatable PM from the start. She then went on to run a campaign in which she, almost entirely on her own, set about nuking her political brand with frightening precision, and giving Corbyn the chance to make a second impression. While Corbyn significantly exceeded expectations, in large part due to an ability to mobilise new voters that wasn’t appreciated, he also hit a ceiling. In a May vs Corbyn contest the electorate was perfectly willing to give May a bloody nose, but they were less enthused about putting Corbyn in Downing Street. I’ve got a bad feeling that this is going to be seen as a missed opportunity, which resulted in Labour committing absolutely to an electoral blind alley, and continual dysfunctional governance of the country.

    • FOARP

      So, I’m kind of split between my feelings of violent agreement with everything you’ve just written, and being slightly irked that someone got there first.

      +1

    • Thom

      Thanks, Daragh, very helpful comment.

    • jpgray

      Ehhhhhh….

      Outside looking in, but there seems to be a strange obsession with rewriting expectations around this election.

      1. Before the election was called, where would I go to find support for your contention that May was always weak and vulnerable?

      2. How are fringe lefty protests and posturing at all commensurate, in any measure, with an invitation to coalition in government, when it comes to terrorist-associated entities?

      3. How is May forced into a deal with the DUP? Didn’t John Major forgo this very route for very obvious NI-related reasons?

      4. Isn’t a bit premature to presume Corbyn’s Labour is at its ceiling when the latest Survation poll now shows Labour ahead 45-39?

      • Daragh

        On 1) – if you read the Tory press you’ll find a lot of griping about the Nick and Fiona show and May’s leadership style generally. I can only speak for myself when I say I found her continual ‘Brexit means Brexit’ platitudes and the the car crash preparations for the negotiations an under exploited weakness and thought that her seemingly invulnerable position was due to her facing little political challenge and results like Copeland. These turned out to be big factors in the campaign anyway, as did her failures as a retail politician and the disastrous manifesto.

        2)I’d invite you to read FOARP’s comments above on the DUP in differentiating them from Sinn Fein. Additionally, you might want to look at London Labour Briefing and its stance on the Brighton bombing. This wasn’t just ‘fringe lefty protests’ – Corbyn invited senior SF/PIRA figures to Westminster. This is the kind of political support that helps terrorist campaigns sustain themselves. And again this isn’t just Corbyn having a soft spot for Northern Ireland – he’s shown a pattern of support for various nasty types that brand themselves ‘anti-imperialist’ (his willingness to parrot Vladimir Putin’s line on the 2014 Ukrainian revolution – a genuine popular revolt against an authoritarian kleptocracy – was an early sign for me that I couldn’t support him). This would all be a lot more palatable as well if there was SOME attempt to explain it with regard to the context of the times etc. but instead Corbyn, McDonnell et al claim it was all to do with a peace process they voted against. That’s a level of cynicism about a dark period of my country’s history I’m not capable of swallowing.

        3.) Good point, but Major wasn’t facing a two year deadline to negotiate a deeply complex trade/political deal that will have massive future implications for the UK.

        4.) Maybe. But Labour is currently enjoying the honeymoon of one of the most unexpected electoral performances in UK history, while the the Tories are currently trying to figure out how to remove a dud leader without collapsing their entire government. One poll showing the Conservatives at just under 40% isn’t actually that bad in the context.

        • jpgray

          Thanks for the good and clear answers. While I am sympathetic to any candidate getting skewered by somewhat overheated innuendo, the idea that Corbyn/McDonnell were somehow furthering the peace process by their preening offered support to the IRA, from my limited perspective, seems like complete nonsense.

          That and the Falklands and the NATO-blaming pose all seem like the worst kind of blithe leftist posturing, which is always ugly but practically without much effect – *until* you are someone who could conceivably make decisions that have an impact on such things.

          • Daragh

            Correct – spouting gibberish about NATO being a vehicle for American imperialism are all well and good when Russia isn’t actually invading bits of Europe. And this is one of the biggest reasons I can’t make any real accommodation with Corbyn and Corbynism even at this point – I think his judgement and instincts on issues like this are fundamentally terrible.

          • FOARP

            “That and the Falklands and the NATO-blaming pose all seem like the worst kind of blithe leftist posturing, which is always ugly but practically without much effect – *until* you are someone who could conceivably make decisions that have an impact on such things.”

            About the only excuse that would work for this is that he didn’t mean it and was exactly the kind of rent-a-quote who would thoughtlessly support anything that seemed left-wing to him that his critics accuse him of being.

            The question of course is how it was possible for him to get so close to power without this criticism making much impact. The answer is in something Tony Blair once said – people are inclined to dismiss extreme criticism even when it’s true, but are much more likely to be persuaded by criticism that focuses on something recognisable but not extreme.

            • sibusisodan

              I worry that this would explain the 2016 US election all too well, in addition.

              • FOARP

                Yeah. Ever asked people about a potential employer, not believed the negative response because it sounded so over-the-top, then taken the job only to discover that it was exactly as bad as you had been warned?

                Calling politicians traitors, liars, misogynists etc. doesn’t work even when they really are traitors liars and misogynists. People hear this and just discount it because they think they can’t be that bad.

                • efgoldman

                  People hear this and just discount it because they think they can’t be that bad.

                  OR they hear it and they think: “of course; they’re ALL that bad.”

                  I don’t know which is worse.

                • Daragh

                  To take this a little OT – one of the aspects of UK Labour I find least appealing is the one they share the most with the US Republicans – a tendency to declare their opponents as evil, by definition. ‘Never Kissed a Tory’ tee-shirts may be cuter than ‘Lyin’ Kenyan’ ones, but they ultimately both entrench a discourse of ‘politics as warfare’ and encourage people to regard their political opponents as evil by definition. I agree that the Republicans are beyond the pale, on a wide variety of issues and deserve their opprobrium, but in the UK case its just tribalism.

                • FOARP

                  @Daragh – Yes, that’s why, whilst I might be willing to vote Labour if they turned against Brexit now, there is no other slightly conceivable situation in which I could ever see myself voting Labour.

                  I grew up in a small ex-mining village in Lancashire. Labour there could win even if they were represented by a blind, three-legged donkey. My infant school’s headmistress had only recently emerged from an insane asylum where she had been for almost a year, but she was picked for headmistress on the basis of her party membership. This was the era of the miner’s strike which everyone supported, at least publicly, as a matter of faith.

                  This was a place where you could have your windows smashed if it became known that you voted conservative. Or merely committed the crime of being “posh”. I know this because we had our windows smashed by thugs who said exactly this – my London-born mother with her RP accent was the target of all this.

                  This was the same village in which she organised its first play-group (which I understand is still running today) and forced the local chess-club to accept women members.

                  There is an unreasoning and baseless hatred that underlies a lot of the class-rhetoric that you hear from Labour’s members, and having experienced it first hand I will never forget it.

        • Ronan

          This is idiotic. There’s a difference between Corbyn’s (imo misguided) past support for the IRA, and actually being the organisation responsible for representing the ethnic grievances of Northern Irish Loyalists.
          There is no meaningful pro IRA base for Corbyn to pander to, the conflict is no longer even trivially important politically in non NI UK politics, whereas the DUP are a NI party with all the baggage that comes with that. The comparison is Labour going into govt with Sinn Fein, not a Labour leader once being sympathetic to the IRA.
          May is NOT being forced into an alliance with the DUP (she’s probably even not going to go into a formal one) Her behaviour has been reckless in the extreme. And to be quite honest with you, relative to this mess I couldnt give a shit what Corbyn did 30 years ago. It’s absolutely fucking stupid to keep riding this irrelevant hobby horse.

          • Daragh

            I agree that May’s actions are totally irresponsible, and have said as much.

            On Corbyn and the IRA – look if you can get over Labour Briefing’s celebration of the Brighton bombing, good for you. To me that, plus the vote against the GFA because it ‘set back the cause of a united Ireland’ speaks to more than a misguided youthful dalliance.

            “There is no meaningful pro IRA base for Corbyn to pander to, the conflict is no longer even trivially important politically in non NI UK politics, whereas the DUP are a NI party with all the baggage that comes with that.”

            I’d advise you take a look at recent activity by the ‘New IRA’ and the potential for Hard Brexit to totally fuck up the peace in NI. It’s a huge issue, and neither of the parties have engaged with it in any meaningful way, which as an Irish person, is hugely frustrating and annoying. But just as May’s cuddling up to the DUP is threatening the GFA on impartiality grounds, so would a Corbyn premiership.

            “The comparison is Labour going into govt with Sinn Fein, not a Labour leader once being sympathetic to the IRA.”

            Not an issue given SF’s absentionist policy, but also not a step I think Corbyn would have any difficulty would take.


            May is NOT being forced into an alliance with the DUP (she’s probably even not going to go into a formal one) Her behaviour has been reckless in the extreme.”

            Like I said – I’d prefer she go with a minority or step down and prepare for a second election (though that would be brutal from a personal standpoint). But the fact of the matter is a) every day there isn’t a government is a day we get closer to crashing out of the EU with no deal b) show me another route to 323 seats.

            • Ronan

              “I agree that May’s actions are totally irresponsible, and have said as much.”

              You’ve said as much while out of the other side of your mouth continued banging on about Corbyn. It’s pure whataboutery. I actually cant believe Im defending the man as Ive no great love for him (and none for the Provos) but at the stage we’ve all got actual problems to solve, not an endless argument over who said what in the 80s (yes, Corbyn a true believer. I agree)

              “I’d advise you take a look at recent activity by the ‘New IRA’ and the potential for Hard Brexit to totally fuck up the peace in NI. ”

              The New IRA are not the Provos and there’s basically zero chance a hypothetical Corbyn administration is going to do their bidding.

              ” But just as May’s cuddling up to the DUP is threatening the GFA on impartiality grounds, so would a Corbyn premiership.”

              No it wouldnt, unless he actually went into coalition with Sinn fein. That’s the comparison.

              • Daragh

                I’m banging on about Corbyn because I self-identify as a member of the broadly left tribe. Whoever leads the right isn’t really my business – my interest in who is the better placed to defeat them, and introduce a more palatable government.

                And the ‘impartiality’ issue is large in the eyes of Northern Ireland – i.e. SF and the DUP. SF is raising the issue because of the DUP – rightly so. I suspect the DUP would have done similar given Corbyn’s past.

                • Ronan

                  It isn’t a subjective idea of impartiality(The Tories have always had pretty explicit relationships with unionists up until last week) it’s about giving one side an actual position in the Govt that’s meant to be the neutral guarantor of the GFA.

                • FOARP

                  I don’t take the impartiality issue seriously, because I think it a confected issue.

                  At the time that the GFA was signed Labour, who were in government, were, and had been for decades, in what amounted to a coalition with SDLP. No-one thought this even worth mentioning then, even though SDLP were to end up as one of the top two parties before Sinn Fein started to take ground from them.

                  In 2010 Labour attempted a coalition with DUP in order to stay in power. Again, no-one at that point thought the neutrality issue worth mentioning.

                  Sinn Fein have a long-term goal of taking power in Dublin. The Dublin government, as one of the signatories of the GFA, is under the same restrictions as the Westminster government. Again, no-one ever thought the neutrality issue worth mentioning in this context.

                  Moreover, Sinn Fein have previously accused the UK government of not being impartial on a number of occasions. So when did they ever believe that the UK government was impartial?

                • Ronan

                  “Sinn Fein have a long-term goal of taking power in Dublin. The Dublin government, as one of the signatories of the GFA, is under the same restrictions as the Westminster government.”

                  It’s not though, I dont think? The Irish parliament is not the sovereign parliament of NI so it’s a different dynamic. (In principle I tend to sympathise with your point, which is one of the reasons Im wary of SF in power in the South, but in practice it’s not the same. Also there is a distinction, admittedly not a huge one, between SF as a Southern party with southern policy concerns, ie a United Ire is not explicitly one of them among a lot of the base, and the DUP as an NI party)

                  “I don’t take the impartiality issue seriously, because I think it a confected issue.”

                  Im willing to reconsider my opinion on how serious an issue it is. It might be overstated.

              • jben

                I think the worry here is not so much that a Corbyn Labour government would do their bidding, as that it would vacillate rather too much in the face of the threat. I can see a situation where the election of a past (and possibly current) IRA sympathizer, causes some of the more extreme republican groups to believe that it is now open season, and the new government is caught completely unawares.

                Also while it is true that the currently active Irish Republican terrorist groups are rather small and laughable, this sort of thing has a nasty habit of starting small and then mushrooming.

                • Ronan

                  Maybe, but I dont really buy that. Paramilitaries now dont have the capacity or support base they had during the Troubles. And look what it took to get the Provos that support in the 60/70s; sectarian conflict, bloody Sunday, British military on the streets, a genuinely (though people can argue over the extent)sectarian police force etc.
                  The PSNI are not the RUC, and dont really(afaik) need a lot of help from mainland UK in dealing with the threat. The Irish govt is fully committed to the GFA and consent on a united Ireland. The UK is not what it was(a declining imperial power that had fought numerous colonial wars in the preceding decades) at that time. And Republican opinion is still pretty strongly represented by SF, who(at least for now) still support a non violent resolution.
                  I would worry more about SF being given the space to start pushing for a vote on a United Ireland, but I dont see Corbyn being worse on that than the Tories. I would think what the north needs is a generation or two of relative normality, and then we can see if there’s any potential solution, long term solution to the identity questions. That’s been put in jeopardy in part because of Brexit, and that’s the Tories fault, not Corbyns(although yes his position on it is not good)
                  I just think the whole ‘Corbyn supports the IRA’ thing was a talking point pushed by people who would never have supported him anyway to undermine his campaign. It was annoying then(imo) now it’s just ridiculous.

    • Taylor

      I find Corbyn’s dalliance with the IRA overblown, John Major’s government was holding secret talks with the IRA back in the day. Much more troubling is May’s reliance on DUP for parliamentary power, undermining the British government’s “honest broker” role in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday Agreement.

      My criticism of Corbyn, and Labor generally, is that there is no indication that they have any willingness to share power. Some of their gains are due to the UK Green party (which is not a vanity project like in the US) not competing in some constituencies so as not to split the anti-Tory vote. Labor has consistently refused to consider doing anything similar, with the result that Lib-Dem Sarah Olney lost her seat to Zac Goldsmith by 45 votes.

      • CS Clark

        The Greens in our area wanted to do a deal to make themselves the official opposition in this constituency, in return for bowing out in two neighbouring ones, one of which would be handed to Labour, and one to the Lib Dems. Even though in this constituency they came fourth in 2015 with just under 5% of the vote, fifth in the neighbouring ‘Labour one’ with 2.8% and fifth in the Lib Dem one with 5%.

        They are absolutely a vanity party, the vanity being to appeal to those who are too good and pure to do basic maths. If they had any honesty they would go into stasis until the UK has PR.

        • Where is Gregor Sansa when you need him?

        • Taylor

          Let’s stay on topic. In Olney’s constituency of Richmond, the Labor candidate lost their deposit in the recent by-election. Nevertheless they ran again in this election, their candidate getting 4K votes to the 25K for Olney and Goldsmith. Tell me that at least 45 of those 4000 votes would not have gone to Olney.

          • Bill Murray

            Tell me that at least 45 of those 4000 votes would not have gone to Olney.

            I think you mean Olney would have received 45 more of those votes than Goldsmith. 45 votes would have had Olney losing by 1500-2000 votes

      • Daragh

        “I find Corbyn’s dalliance with the IRA overblown, John Major’s government was holding secret talks with the IRA back in the day.”

        Oh come on. There’s a world of difference between a legitimately elected government entering negotiations with a terrorist group as part of a peace process – one which Corbyn rejected at the time, and now he claims he was a part of – and effectively endorsing them as part of your own ‘revolutionary’ branding. Ultimately my view of Corbyn in this area is unchanged – he’s basically a left-wing poseur who adopts any number of positions – on Venezuela, HAMAS, the IRA – based on how they burnish his radical credentials, rather than the merits.

        • djw

          Perhaps Taylor noted that the theme of the thread is “false equivalence” and wanted to provide further examples.

          I think “uses foreign policy as brand management of his image as a radical” is the best explanatory account of his foreign policy I’ve seen.

          • Daragh

            I think that’s pretty broadly correct, and one of the reasons I would never like to see him in No. 10. I’ll admit that there’s a possible personal bias here – I’m a Russia-post-Soviet specialist, and like many of my tribe I was pretty inspired by the 2014 revolution in Ukraine. It was a genuine popular revolution against a corrupt, authoritarian government in thrall to a former imperial overlord. To my mind that’s something anyone who considers themselves ‘on the left’ should have applauded. Corbyn parroted the ‘this is all NATO’s fault’ line, as did many of his top advisers. This is a big a part of my visceral dislike for them, but I think that it may justify it as well.

    • DAS

      Yes. This. To both parts of your comment.

      Even some more centrist liberals seem all to willing to ignore antisemitism so long as it is covered with a thin veneer of liberal economics or anti-colonialism. And elements further left will happily ignore reactionary nationalism, homophobia and sexism so long as they are part of a socialist and/or anti-colonialist movement.

      Of course, it isn’t quite an equivalence considering the behavior of even the center right when they obtain political power. But while Stephens may be wrong in setting up an equivalence, he is correct in making a comparison.

      • Bill Murray

        Many people also confuse being against Israel’s policies with anti-Semitism — not saying whether or not this applies to Corbyn as I haven’t followed this much, but it certainly is very common, at least in the US

        • Daragh

          Agreed. But I’m afraid in UK Labour politics it’s more that anti-Zionism has been used as a cover for pretty blatant anti-semitism.

    • TheDeadlyShoe

      And this is a running pattern – Corbyn seems to pull out the stardust when its him, personally, on the line, but the Brexit referendum, the locals, Copeland… well that’s another story. And while the losses are always the fault of disloyal saboteurs, victory belongs to Corbyn alone. This is but one aspect of a cult of personality I find deeply disturbing.

      I find the way you paint this picture deeply disturbing, personally. There is (was) literally a disloyal conspiracy to unseat Corbyn with the long knives out in various press interviews. You could wipe your ass for a year with different anti-Corbyn editorials and barely make a dent in the pile. Corbyn specifically was touted as being a disaster for the party; that he personally would lead Labour to its extinction; that if he was a honest man he would step down for the good of the nation, and only an unreasonable lust for power could explain why he isn’t doing so.

      but now that he’s won, he’s the dangerous leader of a cult of personality – and your evidence for this seems to merely be that he’s popular! Heaven forfend he have the effrontery to take a little credit, or for his supporters to celebrate after literally years of abuse by every sector of the media and the holders of conventional wisdom. If Labour had done poorly this election, we would be buried hip-deep in accusations that was all his fault, and certainly he would be taking an enormous amount of personal blame for the matter.

      While Corbyn significantly exceeded expectations, in large part due to an ability to mobilise new voters that wasn’t appreciated, he also hit a ceiling. In a May vs Corbyn contest the electorate was perfectly willing to give May a bloody nose, but they were less enthused about putting Corbyn in Downing Street.

      A strange point to make, given that according to polls confidence in Labour over all and Corbyn’s capability as PM are higher than ever, with Corbyn tying May and with all of May’s presumptive replacements being rated very poorly.

      • Daragh

        FWIW – I’m not sure if I’ve said it in this particular forum, but I’ve criticised the Corbyn personality cult on these grounds for a while, and had friends suffer pretty nasty abuse for questioning him among their Labour friends or within the PLP.

        “but now that he’s won, he’s the dangerous leader of a cult of personality – and your evidence for this seems to merely be that he’s popular! Heaven forfend he have the effrontery to take a little credit, or for his supporters to celebrate after literally years of abuse by every sector of the media and the holders of conventional wisdom. If Labour had done poorly this election, we would be buried hip-deep in accusations that was all his fault, and certainly he would be taking an enormous amount of personal blame for the matter.”

        Hold on a second – Corbyn hasn’t won. He came a relatively close, but still substantial second in votes and seats. Labour is at 2010 levels. Its an improvement, but not a ‘win.’ Second, I’m not saying he shouldn’t get some credit for that victory – he clearly managed to mobilise new voters on a massive scale. However, there’s a lot of the Labour vote that was despite Corbyn, just as there’s a chunk that voted because of him. The problem is that one of those chunks only showed up on Thursday – not at two rounds of local elections beforehand.

        Equally, this comes back to my cult of personality point. Earlier this year there were two by-elections – Stoke-on-Trent and Copeland. Both were seats Labour should have walked, by a mile, both in terms of demographics and because governments tend not to win by-elections. It was a split result – Stoke stayed Labour after Paul Nuttall ran one of the most comically inept byelection campaigns in recent history. In Copeland, Labour were crushed (and the seat remained Tory on Thursday). The line from John McDonnell, quite literally, was that Stoke was due to Corbyn, while Copeland was a result of an interview Tony Blair had given earlier in the week. To a certain degree that’s spin, but it also says something about the psychology and nature of the Corbyn movement, as does the proliferation of sites like the Canary. Ultimately there’s a disconnect with reality here that makes me think these election results are being poorly interpreted.

        “A strange point to make, given that according to polls confidence in Labour over all and Corbyn’s capability as PM are higher than ever, with Corbyn tying May and with all of May’s presumptive replacements being rated very poorly.”

        Huh – so Corbyn has pulled even on leadership capability with a woman who has just run the most humiliatingly inept general election campaign in living memory and whose political future remains precarious, while in the middle of probably the warmest political honeymoon he’ll ever enjoy. Is that really a sign of his political potential?

        • TheDeadlyShoe

          He’s had a political honeymoon for all of 3 days. The two years before that were nonstop media ratfucking. When they got tired of mudslinging they’d pen wistful hypotheticals, pondering at the better world that could be if only they wern’t stuck with this bloody Corbyn. The most enthusiastic participants were his own senior party members! They just could not stop talking about how unsuited Corbyn was to be PM, or to lead the party. Now that he’s succeeded, those voices are generally eating crow or deciding to remain mute for now, and confidence in Corbyn will naturally rise as a result.

          And it’s definitely a success. Noone expected Labor to do nearly this well. The entire point of the early election being called was to strengthen Theresa May’s negotiating position for Brexit, which was a miserable failure. The other reason was to squash Labour – also a miserable failure. Thus Politically it is a huge victory for Labour – having won this round on the questions of the day. It is very much possible that we could even see another election called.

          It seems strange to harp on Copeland as presumed-Labour when the Tories held it this GE. Generally it seems strange to continue to harp on local elections when there’s been a GE. It does not seem particularly pernicious to me for politicians to avoid attachment to defeats and attempt to spread credit to themselves.

          I get the impression that perhaps you’ve seen people discussing Corbyn in glowing, perhaps naive terms to an extent you are uncomfortable with. Which is both hard to cite as evidence and impossible to discredit. I personally haven’t seen any excesses worse than support given Obama in 2008, which while enthusiastic and often accused of being cultlike went just fine in the end. Perhaps I will be more worried when people start refusing all store bought jam in favor of making it at home and trading tips on growing strange beards…

          • Anticorium

            The harping on Copeland as presumed-Labour is about the by-election, not the general election. And at the time of that by-election, Copeland had been solidly Labour every year since the constituency was created in 1983, and the consistency it replaced had been solidly Labour every year since 1931.

            Imagine Democratic leadership so incompetent they couldn’t get a Democrat elected in a special election in San Francisco. And now imagine someone wondering why people keep harping on the San Francisco defeat, because clearly that place has never been any sort of Democratic stronghold.

            • sharonT

              What about a Democratic Party so incompetent that they couldn’t elect a Democratic governor in Maryland in 2014 where democrats hold a 2:1 registration advantage?

              • Brien Jackson

                :eyeroll:

            • Daragh

              More to the point – imagine the Dems losing a special election AND THEN losing the seat again in a general election a few months later before the new MP/Congresscritter had a chance to really bed themselves in.

    • Anna in PDX

      I need to tell you and FOARP that I sure wish American centrists and conservatives were thoughtful and interesting like you. It would be much better for our discourse and I, for one, would not live inside of the self imposed bubble I’ve created to avoid their awful propaganda. Thanks to both of you for your comments on British politics.

      • FOARP

        The UK has its own very poisonous arrangement of filter-bubbles. On the one side you have the Corbynites who rely on the Canary for news, on the other you have assorted Kippers and Brexiteers who rely on everything from Britain First memes to the danker corners of the Tabloid press for their information.

        • Daragh

          Yep. One of the most depressing aspects of the election post-game was seeing Kerry Ann Mendoza of the Canary on the Newsnight Saturday special. She’s the purest example of the ‘Left-Trumpist’ aspect of Corbynism and one that I would have tolerated a more substantial Conservative victory to see see sidelined.

        • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

          Yeah, but none of the US papers publish topless photos, so the British are still ahead.

      • Daragh

        Thanks! I don’t consider myself either a conservative or a centrist. More of a left-liberal. It was a tough call for me how to vote in this election. My local Labour MP certainly deserved re-election and I would have been proud to back him. But ultimately I voted Lib Dem because I couldn’t stomach casting a vote for Corbyn’s Labour party. I’ll let others label that!

    • The Lorax

      Thanks much for the lengthy, thoughtful comments in the thread.

      • Daragh

        Thanks for indulging me!

    • jben

      The problem is that Brad Stevens is not just saying that Corbyn or Corbynism are problematic or even bad. He’s asserting that Corbyn and co. are as bad as, or even worse than Trump. That’s a MUCH higher bar.

  • CP

    Ah, old school hippie punching. Never change, FTFNYT.

  • Lurking Canadian

    Well, look, we know removing the carried interest tax exemption was like the invasion of Poland, so Corbyn’s platform must be somewhere between Operation Barbarossa and the Final Solution.

    • Hey Lurking Canadian. I am reincarnated at DWIL under the nym PrincessLeia’sGhost in case Mrs. Lurking Canadian is ever still over there.

  • Hondo

    I’d like to get back to the false equivalence thing, as interesting the election news out of the UK may be.
    First, I have to wonder where the incentive for false equivalence in the ostensibly reputable US press comes from. In the case of NPR, it has crossed my mind that it may be at the direction of the CPB, or NPR upper management out of fear of riling up the republicans in congress and getting their funding reduced even more. A spineless attempt to keep their heads down, and pretend to be giving Trump supporters lots of air time. How many times have they sent a reporter to a diner in Bumfuck to talk to a bunch of retired farmers and whatever about their sophisticated views of the world, the evils of the Obama death panels, and how they are all afraid of losing their farms to the death tax? Too many.
    As far as the NYT, and other news organizations owned by huge telecoms, I think it’s obvious that it’s money. Don’t ever forget the Les Moonves video from last year.
    Whatever the reasons, I think it poses a serious problem for democratic election prospects. All of these news orgs pushing false equivalence hurts the left, and is difficult to fight. How can they get their messages out through all the noise when they don’t control the megaphone?
    Yeah, you can have Krugman write about macro, but it gets drowned out by someone like Tyler Cowen, or some other right-wing tool from the Chicago econ dept.
    I’m not going to say it’s a coordinated conspiracy, but the false equivalence trend is a significant obstacle for democrats. How should they confront this?

    • BiloSagdiyev

      Monday morning, I turn on the radio in my kitchen to see what other fires Spray Tan Nero set overnight. It was 8:08 or so, so I had missed the top-of-the-hour headlines. The intro went something like “Congress Comey hearings etc etc, now, to help us make sense of it all, here is Jonah Goldberg from” (CLICK) I turned it off. This is why I’m not sending them my paltry $30/yr lately. They talk to Jonah. I think they even talk to Erik “Dangit, Bobby!” Erickson someitmes. WHY? WHYYYY?

      Sometimes I wonder, “Can’t they find more intellectually honest, informed, logical conservatives than this?” Then I realized… maybe they can’t.

      There has got to be a bar, and Jonah can’t clear it.

      • bizarroMike

        Yeah, because he’s too lazy to jump.

        Maybe mom can get them to lay the bar on the ground. Oh, she can? Okay, Jonah. You’re on the air on NPR in five.

        Seriously, though, I think this is right. There’s no one left to be the respectable conservative voice. It has been a long time coming, but while it is shocking to see Trump happen to the US, it isn’t all that surprising given the prologue.

        • Linnaeus

          As of late, David Frum has probably been the closest I’ve read to a “respectable conservative voice”.

          • farin

            And then he posts something about the existential threat of legal pot and you can only say “What.”

            • Linnaeus

              Well, it’s a low bar to be sure.

      • Murc

        I think they even talk to Erik “Dangit, Bobby!” Erickson someitmes. WHY? WHYYYY?

        This seems like a slur against Hank Hill, a man who has more basic decency in his little finger than Erik Erickson has in his whole body.

      • sharonT

        Jonah and Steve Inskeep seem to be besties from the sound of their segment. I kid. Morning Edition seems to have a soft spot for Jonah. I remember hearing him on heavy rotation after W won his second term. Maybe it’s inertia. Firing Line used to air on my local public television station back when dinosaurs walked the Earth, so maybe it’s public television/radio’s lingering affection for the National Review. Or maybe, Jonah is the one guy who returns their calls?

    • Downpuppy

      As millions have realized, you go retail. Get active with your local party, talk to people. Turn the soggy middle one person at a time.

      • Anna in PDX

        This is fine but it does not solve the problem of not having a news to listen to where one of the pundits is not a far right idiot beneficiary of wing nut welfare. I’d like to be informed without a rage induced stroke and NPR fails this almost every time I tune in on a commute.

        • Downpuppy

          I just go to the music channel.
          Decent radio news to start the day would be nice, but whatcanudo?
          Even bigtime reporters these days are easier to talk back to than NPR panjandrums.

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      “How many times have they sent a reporter to a diner in Bumfuck to talk to a bunch of retired farmers and whatever about their sophisticated views of the world, the evils of the Obama death panels, and how they are all afraid of losing their farms to the death tax?”

      Well, what can they do, Friedman has cornered the market on interviewing tax drivers.

  • A closely related logical fallacy is the argument to moderation. “Fools to the left of me, jokers to the right of me, but here I am in the moderate middle, so I must be right and they’re all way off”. From there you go to ‘false equivalence’- “left-wingers, right-wingers, they’re all extremists, amirite?”

    • Linnaeus

      If I say 2+2=4, and you say 2+2=6, then surely an Englishman will conclude that 2+2=5.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        Our media are English?

    • Downpuppy

      In addition to the old left right divide, there’s now a divide between the people who are still more or less capable of sorting out the real from the crazy and those who have fallen out of the boat. The lost are still mostly the RWNJs, but there are an increasing number of PurityLeft & Ignorant Center that get so tangled up in the fake details of stuff like the Clinton Murder Machine that they either become fanatics or tune out entirely.

    • Moondog von Superman

      Goldilocks Fallacy?

      • Linnaeus

        Or argumentum ad temperantiam, if you prefer.

  • FOARP

    RE: Corbyn – There’s an easy test of how much he’s changed and learned from this campaign. As Nick Cohen pointed out in the Observer today, the UK is still on the road to a hard Brexit that will greatly damage the economy and the UK’s standing in the world. Labour’s manifesto also pledges them to a Brexit deal which, stripped of its pathetic verbiage about wanting a “People’s Brexit, not a Banker’s Brexit” is the same plan as the government’s.

    Corbyn needs to ditch hard Brexit. He must know this. His only possible reason for wanting to pursue it is if he still hopes to impose the kind of radical economic changes (mass nationalisation and state intervention) that single market membership rules prevent.

    • Steve LaBonne

      Tariff-free access to the Single Market is not “hard Brexit”. Whether it’s realistically achievable is a separate question.

      • FOARP

        But they don’t actually want single market membership. They want the same thing the Tories said they wanted – “access” to the single market (which taken literally is what the entire world including North Korea has). They also said they might stay in a “reformed” single market – that is, one without the freedom of movement. However, the EU leaders have been very clear now for years that this is not on offer and never will be on offer.

        Like I said, strip off the verbiage and the positions are near-identical. The only difference of any significance is that Labour have not yet stated that they are willing not to have a deal.

    • Given Steve LaBonne’s point just above, it might be useful to clarify what the actual distinction is between “hard” and “soft” Brexit.

      • Anna in PDX

        Yes I would like to understand that too.

        • FOARP

          The simplest dividing line is membership of the single market. Both parties have tried to obfuscate this point by talking about “access” to the market, which taken literally is something that every country in the world already has anyway – any country can sell products into the market and buy products from it.

          Talking about “tarriff-free” access is also a red-herring. Tariffs are not the biggest barrier to trade for a post-industrial society like the UK, but instead non-tariff-barriers are.

          The real litmus test is asking what parts of single market membership they are willing to accept. The single market has four freedoms (free movement of goods, capital, services, and people) and EU leaders have been adamant that they are indivisible. Saying you don’t want one of them is saying that you don’t want to be in the single market.

          Hence John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, saying this morning that they did not want freedom of movement to continue, something that the Labour party manifesto also said, makes it clear that they do not want to be in the Single Market.

          • Yes, but wouldn’t full membership of the single market simply mean that the UK is subject to all the EU’s rules without having any say on them? I don’t see that as being, politically, a palatable option for any party. This is the trouble that the Brexit vote has wrought: either you can say you’re going to disregard the wishes of the Brexit voters, or you aren’t. If you aren’t, all you can do is make the best of a bad job and negotiate preferential access to the market without fully surrendering the national sovereignty that is supposed to be the whole point of Brexit.

            From this point of view, Brexit will be hard or soft depending on the balance it is possible to strike in negotiations with the EU. And, from this point of view, the “hardness” of Brexit is not either/or but a matter of degrees.

            I didn’t support Brexit, but the British voted for it, and unless Labour wants to take the risk of saying “screw that vote”, they are not left with the option of remaining an EU member in all but name. If that vote actually meant something, it cannot mean “freedom of movement” as before. Not unless the British electorate clearly has a serious change of heart.

            • FOARP

              “unless Labour wants to take the risk of saying “screw that vote””

              A lot has been said about how Labour should reflect it’s members (and voters) views from now on. The majority of Remain voters voting in this election voted for Labour. 64% of Labour voters in this election backed Remain in the referendum. 43% say they want to stop Brexit and only 33% say they still want it to go ahead. On that basis a softer position than the government’s is warranted.

              It makes no sense for the Labour party (or the Conservative party for that matter) to be bound to a particular interpretation of a referendum result that was ultimately decided on diverse (and often contradictory) issues.

              The referendum did not decide what kind of Brexit would go ahead. The sovereignty issue might be said to be decided merely by withdrawing from the EU but remaining in the Single Market, since in that circumstance we would be able to opt out of some EU rules and would no longer be committed to “ever closer union”. If instead the vote was thought to be about immigration, then even ending freedom of movement would not give them what they want – you would have to commit to actually lowering immigration to the point where the economy suffers.

              Another thing we have regularly been told is that people “did not vote to be poorer”, and it is certainly true that polling showed that few people were willing to spend even a single penny to achieve Brexit. Since there is no form of Brexit that will not cost people a great deal of money, with Hard Brexit being the worst form for this, it appears that “what the people voted for” is actually undeliverable.

              So I have basically arrived at a “screw the vote” position. Some on the very moderate fringes of the Brexiteer camp have also arrived at that point (e.g., the economist Pete North). Things will only get worse as the economy suffers and the threat of crashing out of the negotiations increases.

              • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

                Brexit is a perfect example of why referenda are almost always a bad way of deciding issues in a democracy.

                • FOARP

                  Directly after the Scottish indyref, I might have disagreed with you. After two years of listening to the SNP claim that the result didn’t mean anything, and then the vicious Brexit referendum followed by the Brexit camp re-interpreting the result as an endorsement of the most extreme position, I can only agree.

  • sibusisodan

    Mildly OT: reports today that Trump is postponing his British state visit until British public opinion is more favourable to him.

    He is such a child.

    • FOARP

      Another win for this election result.

    • Anna in PDX

      His taking toys and deserting the field approach to foreign policy is probably more helpful than his other fp blunders. Also I am all for him playing golf. More golf, less time doing and saying horrible things!

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