Wednesday, November 16, 2016

And the system's not broken, it's fixed

There were things I knew and forgot because for a moment there was a chance to get around them. It's incredibly rare for the incumbent party to win the White House after a full two terms - it's only happened once in my lifetime, and that was Bush1, who turned out to be a one-term president. And much as the public seems to love Obama (who, it must be said, has comic timing that must make hundreds of professional comics envious), they had voted for real change in 2008, and did not get it, and still wanted it. Bernie Sanders had offered that option - a different kind of leadership you really could believe in, because there wasn't a neoliberal record that had to be constantly explained away. He was a wild card. So I guess I got carried away with the idea that we could win, even after my heart sank when I realized there was no chance for Sanders to take the nomination. And even though I still knew, and kept cataloging, the reasons why Clinton was a terrible standard-bearer and a terrible candidate, I was completely unprepared for the fact that Trump actually won.

But wait - this is The Sideshow, and I never take for granted that that's really what happened. On Tuesday night, my Twitter feed was full of people saying, "These exit polls are really messed up," but there were no links, there was no data, and I couldn't find anything about them. We know that we can't expect transparency from the voting machines - we simply can't trust them. We know that Voter ID laws stopped some people from voting and had a deterrent effect on others. But we also know that voting was depressed - voter ID laws stopped both white and black poorer people from voting in some states, and so did pulling legitimate voters off the rolls. But millions of people who showed up for Obama did not show up Tuesday, even in states that didn't have new voting restrictions. Nevertheless, I know that yes, our elections can be stolen. I assumed all along that the Republicans (who own the machines) wouldn't bother to use that strategy against Clinton because a lot of the GOPs bigwig funders seemed to know Clinton was the real Republican in the race, but it seems they all got on board in the end, so I don't know. And it would appear that the red shift keeps on happening. We won't know what's really going on unless we have paper ballots, hand-counted in full public view on the night.

Still, I think the best explanation for how Trump won was that his opposition was a candidate who as much as promised that people would not get the change from her that they wanted, and that they were childish to want that change - and whose principle campaign argument for her election was that she wasn't Trump. This is never a winning strategy for Democrats. The candidate who admitted that things were bad and needed to be fixed was Trump. Trump had the message of hope and change, and Hillary was the candidate of fear.

So let's hear it for the one lefty who told us months ago why Trump would win: Michael Moore. Nobody listened, but he was right.
* And here was Moore after the election, saying it again on Morning Joe.

Al Gore said the people usually get it right. For all I know, maybe they did. God knows those smug, self-satisfied "centrist" elites who've been running the Democratic Party needed a wake-up call. And much as it terrifies me to think that we really will have President Pence, appointing GOP crackpots to head our agencies, I can't help but notice that in the last few days, Trump has been backing off of some of his most odious campaign policies, and the week before the election, there was this at Reuters: "Trump calls for '21st century' Glass-Steagall banking law." Right? The Republican called for a new Glass-Steagall. Believe me, it would not hurt to see that happen.

What was the disheartening message on my feeds on Wednesday morning? That Clinton Democrats were unfriending any Sanders supporter who expressed their own bitterness about the results, who said, "I told you so," who said, "Bernie would have won." Well, maybe he would have and maybe he wouldn't have - it appears that the polls were right all along - but the fact is that after nearly two years of being told that Clinton was the inevitable next president, the sure thing, and anyone who wanted a different candidate was just being childish, selfish, and "privileged", they're entitled to. (Oddly, The Washington Post let Freddie deBoer say, "Hillary Clinton lost. Bernie Sanders could have won." Tuesday night, Krugman was in my Twitter feed blaming it all on Jill Stein, whose poll numbers were so low she might as well not have been there. That Nader fever just keeps infecting some people.)

There are still plenty of Clintonites making embarrassing arguments about why Trump won. Lambert Strether debunks some of the most popular ones over at Naked Capitalism. (Just for the record, I really get upset when people write off election results they don't like as "the public is stupid". The public is often a lot smarter than our highly-educated technocrats, and they seem to know what's going on a lot better than the "smart" people do. And, as I said privately to Matt Stoller, it's almost funny listening to people who love Obama talk about how Trump voters were taken in by a con man.)

Anyway, the net is full of recriminations and even self-recriminations, like this one from David Plouffe: "What I Got Wrong About the Election," He has a list of things he got wrong, but I really think this is the one that mattered most: "IT REALLY WAS A CHANGE ELECTION The voters were serious about that. And there was only one change candidate."

And speaking of recriminations, go Zach, whoever you are. "DNC Staffer Screams At Donna Brazile For Helping Elect Donald Trump [...] 'Why should we trust you as chair to lead us through this?' he asked, according to two people in the room. 'You backed a flawed candidate, and your friend [former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz] plotted through this to support your own gain and yourself. You are part of the problem,' he continued, blaming Brazile for clearing the path for Trump's victory by siding with Clinton early on. 'You and your friends will die of old age and I'm going to die from climate change. You and your friends let this happen, which is going to cut 40 years off my life expectancy.'"

And from the old socialist Jew himself, "Trump Won Because Democratic Party Failed Working People, Says Sanders: Adding his voice to the chorus of condemnation heaped on the Democratic Party in the wake of Donald Trump's election victory, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday attributed the Republican win to the failure of the liberal elite to represent working people. 'It is an embarrassment, I think, to the entire of [the] Democratic Party that millions of white working-class people decided to vote for Mr. Trump, which suggests that the Democratic message of standing up for working people no longer holds much sway among workers in this country,' the progressive senator and one-time presidential candidate told the Associated Press. 'You cannot be a party which on one hand says we're in favor of working people, we're in favor of the needs of young people but we don't quite have the courage to take on Wall Street and the billionaire class,' he continued. 'People do not believe that. You've got to decide which side you're on.'"

Matt Taibbi, "President Trump: How America Got It So Wrong: Journalists and politicians blew off the warning signs of a Trump presidency - now, we all must pay the price [...] The almost universal failure among political pros to predict Trump's victory - the few exceptions, conspicuously, were people who hailed from rust-belt states, like Michael Moore - spoke to an astonishing cultural blindness. Those of us whose job it is to cover campaigns long ago grew accustomed to treating The People as a kind of dumb animal, whose behavior could sometimes be unpredictable but, in the end, almost always did what it was told. [...] These elites lived in both parties, Trump warned. The Republicans were tools of job-exporting fat cats who only pretended to be tough on immigration and trade in order to win votes, when all they really cared about were profits. The Democrats were tools of the same interests, who subsisted politically on the captured votes of hoodwinked minorities, preaching multiculturalism while practicing globalism. Both groups, Trump insisted, were out of touch with the real American voter. Neither party saw the awesome potential of this story to upend our political system."

Jonathan Pie Tells Liberals Why Trump Won. He's never work-safe, but he says a lot that's true.

Richard J. Eskow and Mike Lux both did useful post-mortems.

It's pretty disgusting watching people killing themselves to insist that the sole takeaway from the election result is that well-to-do whites voted for Trump only because they are racist and sexist, and that no other factor was involved. The demographic that broke most strongly for trump made $50K-$70K - not poor, but certainly not rich. They may make more than the median, but these are the people who can't afford to send their kids to college and know the only way to do it is see them saddled with crushing debt. They aren't people who have helicopter pads, and they probably don't even have a pool. They aren't simply looking at an imaginary loss of status because being white doesn't make them better than blacks anymore, they are looking at a world of real, material loss. They remember when they were young and they were able to find jobs that had real hours and a straight salary and they could plan an evening out in advance, and their kids can't because their employer won't give them a reliable schedule and might just call them up at a moment's notice to come in to work. They remember a time when it was possible to say, "Take this job and shove it," because it was a reasonable expectation that you could walk away and find something better. They remember that yes, even black teenagers could get a job and rent an apartment and know that the job would cover the rent every month - hell, cover the rent in the first week of the month - and now their kids can't possibly find a place where they can expect that they will get enough hours this month to pay the rent when it comes due. They started with the same dream their parents had, to make life better for their kids, to give them those things they never had - and now they know they can't even give them what they did have. Employers and banks are doing things that used to be illegal - for good reason! - and they can't promise their kids anything at all, least of all that, "Everything will be all right," because it's become pretty obvious that it won't. Here's David Atkins responding to myriad articles purporting to show that only racism and sexism account for the election results: "The Twisted Pretzel Logic of the 'It's Not Economic Anxiety' Crowd.

"Here's to all the lonely progressives living outside the liberal echo chamber: How did this happen? I'm a progressive. I see government as a tool of the people, and I think things like food and healthcare should be basic human rights. What am I doing out here, shunned and exiled by all my liberal friends and keeping it a secret how relieved I am that Hillary Clinton lost the election?"

Atrios wrote what for him is a long piece, for a change - long enough that I'm not just going to quote the whole thing, here. But the shortened version is: "Shit is fucked up and bullshit and neither our benevolent nor our malevolent overlords know or care." Go read it: "Don't Overlearn."
* Also: And Piss Off About That: I've seen some prominent liberals fretting "oh noez Trump now owns the NSA!!!" Well, uh, yeah, principled opposition to the NSA's ever expanding powers never depended on whether one thinks the guy in charge is a good guy or a bad guy. Abuse of those powers never required that the person on top was the one abusing them. The powers are themselves intrinsically abusive, and giving them to a secret, largely unaccountable, and powerful for rather obvious reasons agency is nuts even if you trust the person who is supposedly their boss."

"Polls Showed Sanders Had a Better Shot of Beating Trump - but Pundits Told You to Ignore Them: There was a debate last spring, when the Sanders/Clinton race was at its most heated, as to whether Bernie Sanders' consistently out-polling Hillary Clinton was to be taken as a serious consideration in favor of his nomination. Before, during and after the race was competitive, this was the Vermont senator's strongest argument: He was out-polling Trump in the general election by an average of 10 or so points, whereas Clinton was only slightly ahead. His favorables were also much higher, often with a spread as much as 25 points. Never mind, the pundits said - Clinton had been 'vetted' and Sanders had not [...] The idea that Sanders had not been 'properly examined' was pure dogma, asserted by pundits with hardly any critical thought. It was true because Important People in Important Media Outlets simply said it was. Most in the media failed to meaningfully push back against this dogma, and it was a major contributing factor to the Democrats nominating someone who, by all available measures, was a stronger candidate than Clinton."

Thomas Frank in the Guardian, "Donald Trump is moving to the White House, and liberals put him there: Hillary Clinton was exactly the wrong candidate: a technocrat who offered fine-tuning when the country wanted to take a sledgehammer to the machine."

Jimmy Dore says Bernie at the DNC is now the most heartbreaking video of 2016.

Let's get to some good news. "Controversial Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio ousted after 24 years in Democrat upset: End of sheriff's reign, whose crackdowns on undocumented residents foreshadowed Trump, triggered rare scenes of Democratic jubilation on Tuesday."
* Actually, there was some other good news, in spite of what you may have heard.
* Blue America backed some progressive winners, so it ain't all gloom and doom.

"Congress will flush TPP down the toilet, White House concedes: Obama administration admits defeat after congressional leaders from both parties say they will not bring trade deal forward during lame-duck session. White House officials conceded on Friday that the president's hard-fought-for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal would not pass Congress, as lawmakers there prepared for the anti-global trade policies of President-elect Donald Trump.

"Elizabeth Warren And Bernie Sanders Tell Donald Trump They'll 'Work With Him' On Key Economic Issues: During his unorthodox Republican presidential campaign, Donald Trump at times touted his support for longtime progressive causes, promising to reform trade deals, invest in infrastructure, reinstate a key Depression-era financial regulation and combat political corruption. Now, some of Trump's harshest progressive critics are offering their support for the president-elect on the issues on which they seem to agree. [...] 'Trump tapped into the anger of a declining middle class that is sick and tired of establishment economics, establishment politics and the establishment media,' he said in a press release. 'To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him.' [...] 'Trump tapped into the anger of a declining middle class that is sick and tired of establishment economics, establishment politics and the establishment media,' he said in a press release. 'To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him.'"

NYT op-ed from Bernie Sanders, "Where the Democrats Go From Here: I will keep an open mind to see what ideas Mr. Trump offers and when and how we can work together. Having lost the nationwide popular vote, however, he would do well to heed the views of progressives. If the president-elect is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families, I'm going to present some very real opportunities for him to earn my support."

Look, no one is saying that racism had nothing to do with why some people voted for Trump - there has always been a cadre of old-line segregationists and their heirs in the far right of the GOP. But it doesn't explain why so many people who you would expect to vote Democratic voted for Trump instead. What might is the fact that the bottom 90% has been losing ground during the nearly eight years of a Democratic administration. And that fact is almost certainly behind rising incidence of racism, too. "But ugly attitudes don't simply fall out of the sky, eternal and inflexible. A new paper from economists Rob Johnson and Arjun Jayadev looks at economic downturns from 1979 to 2014, and finds a tight correlation between unemployment and racism ? the higher the unemployment rate, the more ubiquitous the discrimination. A 2014 study from New York University psychologists found that racial animosity hardens under economic scarcity. Last year, three German economists found that 'far-right' political parties almost always make significant gains after a financial crisis."

"Bernie's empire strikes back: In state after state, supporters of the Vermont senator's presidential bid are challenging the Democratic establishment for party control."

Sam Seder did a great interview with Jane McAlevey, author of No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age - about how liberals have forgotten how to do the real work of organizing that is necessary to wielding citizen power.
* Also on The Majority Report, "Wes Clark, Jr: Mobilizing for the Climate Crisis: The history of the oil industry's intermingling with US intelligence and the subsequent history of colonialism, evident in the mentality of Energy Transfer Parters and the pipeline builders. How #NoDAPL represents 'colonialism at home.' The need for climate radicalism as opposed to spectatorship. How climate change will enter the system through the insurance industry. The geopolitical risks of China's plan to use Africa for future food growth." And a reminder that the land those #NoDAPL protesters are on belongs to the people who are being arrested for "trespassing" on it, not to the people who are tasing and tear-gassing and setting dogs on them.

Neoliberals like to pretend that it's "protectionist" and bad to want to protect the jobs of ordinary working people, but somehow the opposite when they want to protect high-earners' incomes. Dean Baker sees things differently: "Rather than Dumping Unions, Democrats Could Shake Off Their Upscale Hard Core Anti-Market Stance."

"How the Hillary Clinton campaign deliberately 'elevated' Donald Trump with its 'pied piper' strategy: An email released by WikiLeaks shows how the Democratic Party purposefully 'elevated' Trump to 'leader of the pack'."
* "Wikileaks: Damaging analysis of Sanders's single payer plan was likely a coordinated Clinton hit." It's pretty strange when a "study" is suddenly released at a crucial time that contradicts all the previous work of the researcher.

"Restoring trust in our trade policy: I'm in favor of trade. I don't know anyone opposed to trade. A better question is, 'How should we manage globalization?' We've lost trust in our approach to globalization. The Brexit vote in Europe was a vote of no confidence. Millions of voters in our presidential campaigns send a similar message. Globalization is not working for us. We should rethink our approach to globalization if we hope to restore trust."

"Why the White Working Class Rebelled: Neoliberalism is Killing Them (Literally) [...] [...] Neoliberalism - putting the market in charge of social policy and actually encouraging industries to move abroad for higher profit margins (but for fewer industrial jobs at home) - had much the same effect on the white working class as the fall of the Soviet system had on the Russian working class"

"Muslims who saved Jews from Holocaust commemorated in I Am Your Protector campaign [...] Organised by I Am Your Protector (IAYP) - who describe themselves as 'a community of people who speak up and stand up for each other across religion, race, gender and beliefs' - the group is attempting to highlight the, often forgotten, stories of Muslims who helped Jews during one of history's deadliest genocides."

David Dayen in The New Republic on "The Utter Chaos of Brexit: If you thought U.S. politics was fractured, take a look across the pond. Britain's High Court has thrown the future of Europe into uncertainty, ruling this week that Prime Minister Theresa May must get Parliament's approval before she can begin the process of taking Britain out of the European Union. The potential consequences of the ruling are all over the map: It could lead to an accelerated Brexit timetable or a new British governing coalition that nullifies it. It could lead to greater harmony inside Europe or a continental banking crisis."

The Legacy of Billy Tauzin: The White House-PhRMA Deal [...] In the 2008 campaign, Obama declared his intention to include all stakeholders as he sought to reform the nation's health care system, but also supported key Democratic health reform policies. Among these were several that targeted the pharmaceutical industry: Allowing re-importation of drugs from first world countries with lower drug prices and providing Medicare with negotiating authority over prescription drug prices in the recently enacted Part D program. These weren't just promises, Obama had already voted for both of them as a senator in 2007. (Roll Call Vote 132 and Roll Call Vote 150.) [...] The cost cutting measures passed in the Energy & Commerce bill spooked the board of PhRMA, which included all of the CEOs involved in the deal-cutting meetings with the White House and Baucus. The board pressured Tauzin to go public with the deal to ensure that the White House would recognize it and not renege. On August 4, the Los Angeles Times, in an exclusive report, featured quotes from Tauzin claiming that a deal between the White House and PhRMA existed and that, as Tauzin put it, 'The White House blessed it.' Tom Hamburger wrote in the article, 'For his part, Tauzin said he had not only received the White House pledge to forswear Medicare drug price bargaining, but also a separate promise not to pursue another proposal Obama supported during the campaign: importing cheaper drugs from Canada or Europe.' The White House's Jim Messina later confirmed Tauzin's claim, stating, 'The president encouraged this approach ... He wanted to bring all the parties to the table to discuss health insurance reform.'

"Controversy Erupts Around $10 Million Bust of Legal Marijuana Grow: Over the weekend, 35 people were arrested and $10 million worth of marijuana was seized during a raid at an old airport in Calavaras County, California. According to the sheriff's department, the grow operation had been under investigation for the past month due to a reported increase in traffic going and out of the airport. However, the operation wasn't illegal; investigators found that the owners had a permit to grow cannabis."

"How Donald Trump Used Fine Print To Make It Harder To Sue Wall Street For Fraud: Throughout the presidential campaign, Donald Trump has cast himself as both an anti-Wall Street populist and a straight shooter fed up with the waffling and equivocating that dominates business and politics. He disdains 'crooked' Hillary Clinton, as he calls her, but the blunt-talking Trump is no stranger to the art of the lawyered caveat. In one of his most significant court battles, Trump protected his business empire with carefully parsed fine print - a 'perfect prospectus' that secured a landmark ruling helping to insulate Wall Street from charges of fraud."

"Doubts About the Promised Bounty of Genetically Modified Crops [...] But an extensive examination by The New York Times indicates that the debate has missed a more basic problem - genetic modification in the United States and Canada has not accelerated increases in crop yields or led to an overall reduction in the use of chemical pesticides."

Dept. of Keystone Kops: "N.S.A. Appears to Have Missed 'Big Red Flags' in Suspect's Behavior: WASHINGTON - Year after year, both in his messy personal life and his brazen theft of classified documents from the National Security Agency, Harold T. Martin III put to the test the government's costly system for protecting secrets. And year after year, the system failed."

"A City Clerk Opposed an Early-Voting Site at UW-Green Bay Because 'Students Lean More Toward the Democrats': New emails released to The Nation reveal ongoing GOP attempts to suppress the vote."

"Racism Alone Doesn't Explain Trump's Support, Which Also Reflects Economic Anxiety: [...] This analysis, however, falls apart under scrutiny. First, while Trump's biggest fans are indeed wealthier than average, they remain overwhelmingly blue collar - and the Gallup study also shows that their children's community health and economic mobility are lower. They don't depend much on social services themselves, but they see their way of life and their families' futures disappearing before their eyes."

"Enormous, Humongous $36.4 September Trade Deficit Helps Trump: [...] In normal times a trade deficit of $36.4 billion in a single month would be met with outrage, headlines, speeches, torches and pitchforks. It represents a transfer of fulfillment of our economy's 'demand' out of the country at a time when we need jobs here. A trade deficit means factories close here, workers are laid off, they open 'there,' the same goods come back to our country. But it is called 'trade' because now the goods cross a border. And it is a trade deficit because more goods are coming in than are going out. Our economy has to borrow to make up the difference. In these abnormal times we're only getting the torches and pitchforks - also known as Trump voters, pissed off that their middle-class jobs have been replaced by low-paying jobs. The US has had a trade deficit since the late 1970s, when we were sold on 'free trade' and 'free markets' that benefit the 1% at the expense of the rest of us"

"6 Reasons Why A New Civil War Is Possible And Terrifying"

"Why Trump's Popularity Signals an Oligarchy on the Brink of a Civilization-Threatening Collapse: Oligarchies win except when society enacts effective reforms."

"Clarice Starling is not a real FBI agent."

Jon Schwartz, "Donald Trump Will Be President. This Is What We Do Next. It's not hyperbole to say the United States, and in fact the world, will need some luck to get out of this one alive. So let's concentrate on making our own luck."

"Why More American Men Feel Discriminated Against [...] Perhaps more important, though, researchers have found that men are prone to seeing discrimination as a zero-sum game. That is, they believe that discrimination against one group necessarily benefits another group and vice versa, so any policy that benefits African-Americans, for instance, harms whites, and any policy that benefits women amounts to discrimination against men. Fifteen years ago, younger men - and women of all ages - overwhelmingly rejected this view, but recent data shows that younger white men are now about as likely as older men to see discrimination as zero-sum. With race-based policies, it's possible that some might amount to aiding a minority at the expense of the majority - affirmative action policies for college admissions, for instance. But it's often less clear how policies that help women might hurt men. In the ANES data, men who perceive discrimination against men are more likely to oppose mandatory employer coverage of contraception and parental leave laws, for instance. Even if there's no evidence that such policies would hurt men (heterosexual men clearly also benefit from contraception), the logic of the zero-sum approach is unforgiving: Anything that helps women must also be hurting men."

RIP: "Leonard Cohen Dead at 82: Hugely influential singer and songwriter's work spanned five decades" I suspected this would be coming soon, he was no spring chicken and he'd had a good run, but he was still performing and you always hope for more. It's not happy news, but we will always have that music.
* "Musician Leon Russell has died at 74." He'd been performing right up to the end.
* "Mose Allison, Iconic Blues and Jazz Pianist, Dead at 89: The Who, Yardbirds, Van Morrison, the Clash and Elvis Costello all covered musician's prolific catalog."

"Janet Reno, former US attorney general, has died," at 78, of complications from Parkinson's disease. Reno gets blamed for a lot of things that were set in motion before she took the job, but to me she will always be remembered as the idiot who was so afraid of being accused of partisanship that she let Ken Starr turn the Whitewater case into a sex show by expanding an investigation of a lousy real estate deal into a prurient circus around a private sexual affair.

"Creator of chatbot that beat 160,000 parking fines now tackling homelessness : Teenager who designed DoNotPay to overturn tickets in London and New York expands service to assist those dealing with housing problems in the UK. London-born Stanford student Joshua Browder created DoNotPay initially to help people appeal against fines for unpaid parking tickets. Dubbed 'the world's first robot lawyer', Browder later programmed it to deal with a wider range of legal issues, such as claiming for delayed flights and trains and payment protection insurance (PPI). Now, Browder, 19, wants his chatbot to provide free legal aid to people facing homelessness. He said: 'I never could have imagined a parking ticket bot would appeal so much to people. Then I realised: this issue is bigger than a few parking tickets.'"

"Wall Street Isn't Worth It: Cutting the banks down to size is good policy and good politics."
* "Everyday Finance Politics: Taking on Wall Street is central to fighting racial and gender inequality."

Somehow I missed these at the time, but former US Congressman from North Carolina Brad Miller, now a Roosevelt Institute senior fellow, has been writing a bit about what he has seen in Washington, at HuffPo. Here are a couple:
* "The Rabble Understands Trade Pretty Well: There is no issue that has done more to fuel the unexpected success of anti-establishment candidates on the left and the right this year ' Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump ' than international trade. There is no issue about which establishment economic policy elites feel more certainty than trade. There is no issue about which elites feel more entitled to act on supposedly neutral, antiseptic technocratic analysis without the intrusion of tawdry politics than trade. And there is no issue that has done more to undermine the credibility and legitimacy of elites, political insiders, in the eyes of ordinary Americans, people trying to make an honest living, than trade."
* "Pragmatism in Pursuit of What? On Financial Reform, Differences in Goals [...] The elites who have filled economic policy roles in recent administrations, Democratic and Republican alike, did not share the public's enthusiasm for tough reform. And they regarded economic policy as the province of experts into which the opinion of the rabble should not intrude. 'Our job was to fix it,' former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said, 'not to make people like us.'"

The news told me the clouds had cleared so I could se the supermoon, only they hadn't, so no. However, David Sirota got a couple of nice shots.

With weeks still to go, John Oliver calls 2016 early, with a rousing farewell to a very bad year.

Bob Dylan ends grumpy speculation that he will refuse the Nobel Prize, saying he will be at the ceremony if he possibly can.

"The Harris Incident" - I'd forgotten about this 1978, episode of Barney Miller. There's a lot in it. Watch it closely and see if you can see what I mean. And also remember that this is the show real cops used to say was the most realistic cop show on the air. Detective Ron Harris, by the way, is played by the same Ron Glass who we later knew as Book in Firefly.

"When Charles Dickens & Edgar Allan Poe Met, and Dickens' Pet Raven Inspired Poe's Poem 'The Raven'"

Radio interview of H.G. Wells by Orson Welles. No, Really.

If you missed the Halloween Google Doodle, it's a cute little game.

Wonder Woman trailer

Nellie McKay, "Ridiculous"
♫ "you shoulda listened to your kids
not corporate nationalists
nor fortunate fantasists who ill disguise their proto-fascist fist
you can't remember who to blame
those you hate or those you agree with
but the latter is hard to resist" ♬


  1. Thanks. I'm just starting to work on my entry.

    Your link to "The Harris Incident" got taken down--try this one. If it disappears it's season 5, episode 9 so should be findable.

  2. 1. This election result was more a matter of luck and media than anything else.

    2. I never quite believed that Sanders would have survived Republican opposition research.
    Kurt Eichenwald, who saw the oppo book, wrote: "So what would have happened when Sanders hit a real opponent, someone who did not care about alienating the young college voters in his base? I have seen the opposition book assembled by Republicans for Sanders, and it was brutal. The Republicans would have torn him apart."

    3. In the end, family and local ties trumped the commonsense thought that Trump abuses women and ought not be anywhere near power, even for women. Sisterhood was not powerful enough.

    4. Centrists and progressives (wince, I hate that name) are now allies in defeat. It is time to stop fighting among ourselves. It was never time to start. Sanders knew it, we needed every vote and every supporter, and now it is plain for all to see.

    1. When you take Kurt Eichenwald seriously, I stop taking you seriously.

      Here's Kurt, catapulting "the Bernie voters are horrible" propaganda.

      Kurt helped the Wall St. Dems sabotage Sanders in favor of a candidate so horrible she actually lost to Trump. He has no credibility.

      (By the way, while Kurt is busy scolding voters who didn't vote for HRC, he himself voted for G.H.W. Bush and G.W. Bush.)

  3. Eichenwald again: "Numbers in. If protest voters took election seriously, HRC wouldve won Michigan, Wisconsin and FL, not including "refuse 2 vote" babies."

    I want to just put my head down and cry and pound on the desk.

    1. The point is that those people were never ever going to vote for Hillary and they might never have voted at all. Stop making up stupid names for them. 47% of Americans did not vote, and they did not vote because they knew no candidate was going to do a fucking thing for them. Blame the candidate for telling them there could be no change for the better, not the voters who didn't do as they were told by people who don't give a damn about them.

    2. Clinton did promise there would be change for the better. She just didn't lie, and promise heaven on earth. (Not that the message got out. It was all emails all the time, and Trump, Trump, Trump.) And even if not, I mean, Trump? Really? He's going to deliver change for the better? The man's a total con artist.

      But the smaller flaws of a woman bulked larger than the huge flaws of a man.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. (Oh, missed this.) The name-calling is from E's tweet; I didn't properly clean up the quoting. And though I have problems with him, he's not wrong about this.

  4. If finally occurred to me to ask: if Hillary Clinton had been Hilliard Clinton instead, would he have lost? All his flaws and failings would have been forgiven a male candidate, in fact some of them would have been seen as virtues. Much worse was forgiven Bush and Trump.

    It's the sexism.

    1. Can't prove it by me, I still haven't forgiven Bill.

      And I'm sure as hell never going to forgive Obama.

      Now, what makes her so special?

    2. But by the general public? Bill Clinton is popular still. So is Obama. So why not Hillary Clinton? The basic answer seems to be that she's an uppity woman; a better man than Donald Trump. (Which I suppose adds to the resentment.)

    3. I have spent the last nine years being called a racist for not supporting Obama and a "white man" for not supporting Clinton. Don't tell me about name-calling, please.

    4. All right Raven Onthill, given the givens what's your strategy for further exposing how contemptible American voters are in 2018 and 2020?

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. I think the election of Trump is quite enough proof of that, thank you; I need no more.

    7. Spoken like a New Democrat.

    8. Here's a NSFW Jimmy Dore segment about what is looking like an inevitable rise of the Far Right in the developed world in the wake of the economic shambles created by neo-(classical) liberalism over the past thirty plus years. I'd add that in the United States an added advantage for the Far Right is that the Democratic Party ended up embracing and owning the failed neo-liberal experiment here with one of the consequences being that the good name of New Deal/Great Society liberalism, aka American liberalism, has been discredited in the minds of public.

      Bernie Sanders has added to the confusion on this point by incorrectly labeling himself as a democratic socialist. (He's not a socialist, he does not call for state or community ownership of the means of production, elimination of wealth creation through private enterprise, a society without economic classes.) Sanders, in actuality, is calling for social democracy, basically a return to New Deal/Great Society liberalism with some new and some expanded programs. [0:00 to 10:00*]

      *I don't understand Blyth's $14 billion minimum wage number at the end of his comments.

    9. Whoops, socialism is worker control of the means of production- don't know how I typed "state...control," state control of the means of production is "state capitalism."

  5. Outstanding thoughts and links on the election. I should be watching Bernie right now but I just can't (live internet b'cast). Got an email from the legislative candidate just north of me here in Paul Ryan's district (WI 1CD) and she reported this vote tally from her district:

    Hillary: 9740
    Russ: 9520

    From memory I know she got less than 40% of the vote because no Democrat in the heart of Ryan's CD broke the 40% mark. There was no money spent here, no campaign appearances from upticket (not sure when Feingold was around here but he says he was in every county so I'm guessing a fundraiser I wasn't at), and if there was a primary, the state party forbade county parties from weighing in, even in the 1CD primary between a Bernie guy and a right-to-life Mormon who embraced the flat tax (the Mormon won with only 25,000 total votes cast in the primary thanks to liberal bloggers encouraging cross voting for a hard right challenger to Ryan).

    There is no Democratic party in Wisconsin, not in any meaningful sense. The MN Dems (DFL) just threw their most liberal legislator in a dumpster so they could elect the first Somali American legislator who was also a woman so win/win and screw them that brought you. I worked with the MN Somali community, and I guarantee their new inner city legislator is more conservative than the women's rights pioneer she's replacing.

    Not a happy camper, but I appreciate that others are still eloquently trying to educate us so that things can eventually get better. Thank you for this post, and all the posts to come.

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    1. Comrades I ask you, separated at birth? [2:16 to 2:45] [LINK]

    2. LINK - Ha ha. There's still a space for schadenfreude amid the horror that is a Trump presidency.

  7. "It is time to stop fighting among ourselves. It was never time to start. Sanders knew it, we needed every vote and every supporter, and now it is plain for all to see." All the Dem leadership and their allies have to do is stop, then. But right now they're busy attacking everybody else, hippie-punching, red-baiting, whining about Bernie Bros, and lying. Just as they did during the campaign. Rememember Steinem and Albright? Generally when someone demands unity and complains about other people's divisiveness, they've just been divisive themselves and gotten called out on it.

    As for Eichenwald, he has a long history of scandal, bad reporting, and outright iles. So on this you have to believe 1) that he actually saw the material he refers to, and 2) that he's reporting its import accurately. You're free to believe him, of course, but no one else has to.

    That being said, I'm skeptical about claims that Sanders would have beaten Trump, which are speculative -- much like the claims I've been hearing since the end of 2008 about Al Gore, that he wouldn't have invaded Iraq, etc. But a few things are fairly clear. One is that his superior performance was known before Clinton was nominated; the DNC weren't interested. The main responses were that it was "her turn" and accusations of misogyny, which means they didn't have a good answer. Another is that, based on his performance during the primaries, he would have responded to attacks from the Trump camp much better than Clinton did. I'm perplexed, really, by the incompetence of Dems generally under GOP attack: they're always shocked! shocked! that the Republicans are being so mean. And then they cave. Think of Van Jones and especially Shirley Sherrod. (For that matter, think of Lani Guinier.) Sanders was downright refreshing by comparison.

    I don't know if Clinton would have done better were she male. I can honestly say that I would have criticized and opposed her anyway, on her policies and record, which her fans like you prefer to ignore.

    Dem loyalists can't get it through their heads that attacks are not the best way to win votes. If you want unity, you're going to have offer something better than contemptuous attacks and shitty policies. But in your case as with most Dem apologists, what you want is not unity, it's obedience. I don't think you're going to get it. Nor should you.

    1. If Clinton had been Hilliard Clinton instead of Hillary, would he have been criticized for his wife's sexual conduct? For bellicosity? Even, for her e-mails? Remember, both Bush's kept private servers, and deleted millions of messages. Bellicosity is considered strength in a man. Clinton's failings were not worse than those of every mainstream politician of her generation and we might have hoped she has learned from her mistakes. She is an extraordinary woman in her own right, even if she had been the leader of a faction I disliked.

      Would Trump's sexual harassment and, likely, rapes have been excused if she had been Donna Trump?

      I was a Sanders delegate. I also criticized Clinton on her policies and record before the nomination. I put aside my opposition when Sanders did, and opposed the rapey fascist.

      "Socialist atheist traitorous pacifist Jew" (with video) would have made a great case for the opposition.

      We are now allies in defeat. Bury the hatchet.

    2. You first. Nothing you say here, except the revelation that you were a Sanders delegate, addresses anything I said, or says anything of substance. But you've got the knives out anyway.

  8. The Clintons and their ilk have been fortunate in their enemies -- it makes them look better than they are and gives them ready-made excuses for their bad deeds. But that doesn't make them my friends. Furthermore, I know from their history who they will actually choose to ally with and who they will stab in the back at the first opportunity. Fool me once, don't get fooled again.

    I supported Bernie as a vehicle for change, but he obviously made deals behind the scenes which he chose not to reveal to his base, leaving us disheartend and divided. Transparency in government is one of my personal core values -- without it there's no real democracy -- so I'm not "with him" anymore.

  9. Politico says [LINK]:

    [QUOTE] In a stunning blow to the Obama administration's economic legacy, a federal judge in Texas granted a preliminary injunction Tuesday delaying implementation of a regulation that would extend overtime eligibility to an estimated 4.2 million workers.

    The ruling puts in serious jeopardy the most significant wage intervention by President Barack Obama, who has been unable to persuade Congress to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour. The Labor Department regulation, previously set to take effect Dec. 1, effectively restored overtime pay to the middle class after decades of erosion had reduced it to a benefit available only to low-wage workers.

    ...President-elect Donald Trump, despite his dependence on working-class voters in the presidential election, was thought likely to try to block the rule as part of his war on excessive regulation; in an August interview, he said he'd like to exempt small business from the regulation.

    Now none of these efforts may be necessary, thanks to a ruling by Judge Amos Mazzant, an Obama appointee to the Eastern District of Texas in Sherman, Texas. Although the injunction is only temporary, Mazzant's decision signaled a strong likelihood that he'll eventually side with 21 state attorneys general and a coalition of business groups that sued to block the regulation.

    ...Texas has become a hotbed of anti-regulatory litigation since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February left the Supreme Court in a stalemate, thanks to the conservatism of even its Democratic-appointed federal judges — Mazzant was previously appointed to the state bench by Republican Gov. Rick Perry — and the fact that appeals go to the conservative 5th Circuit. [END QUOTE]

    Well, at least we can be assured that in the coming years President Trump and the Republicans will respect traditions and be reciprocating by appointing liberal judges in states where Democrats hold Senate seats.

  10. Bill Black has a simple explanation for Obama's bad economic policy. I hadn't realized the extent to which actual economists were left out in the cold. You could be generous and call it ideology, but it looks more like cronyism to me. A smooth, technocratic cronyism, but the people calling the shots still had the most to gain from the policies they promoted.

  11. About Ron Glass, how did you know? (Hope Dave Dayen and Sam Seder are going to be all right.)

  12. I had forgotten about this until I read a Dean Baker retweet [NY TIMES]:

    July 2, 1987

    The governing council of the Actors' Equity Association has given the producers of ''Phantom of the Opera'' a set of conditions under which it will allow Sarah Brightman, a British actress, to re-create her leading role in the musical on Broadway in the fall.

    ...[U]nion officials also reasoned that because the role of Christine was likely to ''create a star'' and Ms. Brightman was not recognized by them as such, the role should go to an American....

    That reasoning prompted appearances before the council on June 10 by the show's director, Harold Prince, and by Bernard Jacobs, president of the Shubert Organization, which owns the Majestic. They argued that no other actress could do justice to the role, which was written specifically for Ms. Brightman. Nevertheless, the council upheld the committee decision and did the same at a second meeting a week later....

    In return for allowing Ms. Brightman to appear in New York, the union would require Mr. Lloyd Webber and Mr. Mackintosh to guarantee a leading role in one of their London productions to an American who is not an established star.... Mr. Lloyd Webber and Mr. Mackintosh would have to post a bond guaranteeing that the new production would take place within three years.

    The union is also demanding that the American actor be given the same role in a subsequent Broadway production of the show. There would be no objection to reversing the process, that is opening on Broadway and moving to the West End.

    The demand is a potential sticking point in the ''Phantom'' negotiations. The producers could argue that they should not be committed to two presentations of an actor who may prove unsatisfactory. The point is further complicated by the American union's demand that if the new show should close in less than six months, another American actor would be hired to perform in a second London show for a new six-month period. [END QUOTE]

    Here's the retweet that reminded me of this bygone story: [LINK]

    Extra for Experts, the show did last more than six months on Broadway, in fact you can still get tickets for it as the production remains in it's first run there. Eight shows a week, about 50 weeks a year, that meant that the ten thousandth show was on stage in February 2012. Here's the encore for that performance with Sierra Boggess in the Brightman originated role. Boggess also had played Christine in the brilliantly filmed performance five months earlier which celebrated the 25th Year Anniversary of the ongoing London production. [LINK] [LINK]