Friday, January 22, 2016
Just brief links this week. For what it's worth, about 3,000 people
showed up for Wichita's edition of the anti-Trump Women's March. As
someone who's always wanted politics to be boring and irrelevant, I'm
clearly not going to enjoy the next four years. On the other hand, I
voted for Hillary Clinton knowing full well that she, too, would bring
us four years or war and financial mayhem to protest against. But she's
boring enough we'd be hard pressed to get 30 people out to a march.
Whatever else you think, Trump is much more effective at moving us to
Women's March was the largest protest in US history as an estimated 3.6
to 4.5 million marched; also
Millions join women's marches in an historic international rebuke of
Tom Cahill: Trump's new slogan is copied verbatim from horror film 'The
Purge': The article claims "You can't make this shit up," but if
the movie in question was, as the article also claims, based on Trump's
2016 campaign slogan, they already have. Of course, The Purge
isn't the only imaginable Trumpian future. When I saw 2015's Mad
Max: Fury Road, its fetishes struck me as so literally Trumpian
I half-expected the GOP to adopt it as an infomercial.
Ben Casselman: Stop Saying Trump's Win Had Nothing to Do With
Noah Charney: No deal for the arts: It's no surprise that Donald Trump
wants to tell the arts and humanities "you're fired": Reminds me of
a Facebook meme I recently saw, that pointed out that when Winston Churchill
was asked to cut arts funding to help the war effort, his reply was "Then
what are we fighting for?"
William DeBuys: Election rigging 101: Donald Trump's crash course in
Jonathan Chait: Donald Trump to America: I Won, Accountability Is
It is impossible to know what course American democracy will take under
Trump's presidency. The fears of authoritarianism may prove overblown,
and Trump may govern like a normal Republican. But the initial signs are
quite concerning. Trump believes he can demolish normal standards of
behavior, like the expectation of disclosing tax returns, and placing
assets in a blind trust. He has received the full cooperation of his
party, which controls Congress and has blocked any investigation or
other mechanism for exerting pressure. His dismissal of the news media
might simply be a slightly amped-up version of the conservative tradition
of media abuse, but it seems to augur something worse. Rather than making
snide cracks about liberal bias, Trump escalated into abuse and total
delegitimization. Will the abuse of the media be seen as an idiosyncratic
episode, or the beginning of something worse to come? We don't know. His
early behavior is consistent with (though far from proof of) the thesis
that he is an emerging autocrat. The people have granted him license to
steal and hide as he wishes. The bully has his pulpit.
The phrase that catches in my throat here is "normal Republican."
The fact is Republicans haven't been "normal" since they accepted
Richard Nixon's rewriting the rules on campaign ethics. Since then
they've hosted two of the most corrupt and ideologically corrosive
administrations in American history, while their efforts to spoil
(by any means possible) the Clinton and Obama administrations have
set new standards for political cynicism. The Trump administration
starts with no real popular legitimacy, and the Republican agenda
has even less popular support, so the big question will be whether
they can leverage their current grasp of institutional power to do
things contrary to the welfare and desires of most Americans. The
United States has a long and hallowed tradition of popular rule,
which has never before been challenged severely as Trump and his
party are doing.
Mike Konczal: The Austerity of the Obama Years: This is an important
piece. Even though it's not entirely Obama's fault, his inability either
to fix the problem or properly assign blame for his failures is what let
The economic landscape adjusted to the missing prosperity, with economic
power concentrating at the highest levels. Trillions of dollars simply
went into mergers and acquisitions, leaving the economy more concentrated
than at any point in decades. Yet this power also seeped into everyday
life. Work became even more precarious and disintermediated towards
smaller, weak firms attached through contracts to rich flagships. Over
the past ten years workers in traditional employment declined slightly,
with contract and independent workers driving the increases. Beyond
making activism and regulations much more difficult, this shift greatly
accelerated inequality as corporate profits skyrocketed. People became
contract workers and took on boarders in their homes again, like those
trying to survive the nineteenth century, and elites celebrated it as
an entrepreneurial wonderland.
That the Democrats could never figure out what to do about this gap
in our economy showed up in the Democratic primary. An economist named
Gerald Friedman argued that Bernie Sanders's proposals would fix the gap,
that if his large expansion of public works, taxes, and spending had a
chance, the economy would get to and go far beyond its full potential.
He walked into a bandsaw of Democratic economists attacking his argument
as voodoo economics. Friedman's analysis did have serious flaws, but the
Democratic economists counter was that where we were was just the reality,
that there was little-to-no room to grow further and faster. This output
gap, introduced during Obama's years, was a permanent reduction in our
potential that we would have to live with. It was the economic equivalent
of the Democrats' "America is Already Great," a messaging that delivered
our country to Trump.
Richard Silverstein: America First, Israel First: the Lobby Loves
James Thindwa/Kathleen Geier: Does the Left Bear Any Blame for Donald
Trump? More waffling than I'd really like. I wasn't asked, but have
two answers: the first is no (if, as stated, 90 percent of Sanders
supporters backed Clinton she did better on the left than she did with
"locked in" constituencies like blacks, Latinos, and labor), and second,
it doesn't matter, because now and in the near future the Democrats need
the left even more than ever -- for activism, and for a more acute and
resonant critique of what Trump and the Republicans are doing. The real
shame is that there are still some mainstream Democrats who seem to be
much more ready to attack the left than to stand up against the right.
They need to change their priorities, and they can start by letting up
on their Cold War dogma about the left.
Zephyr Teachout: Donald Trump Will Violate the Constitution on Day
Nathan Wellman: Trump just deleted the White House's website on protecting
people with disabilities
China's winding down coal use continues -- the country just canceled 104
new coal plants: Meanwhile, Trump plans to ramp up coal burning in
Don't think of a rampaging elephant: Linguist George Lakoff explains how
the Democrats helped elect Trump: Paul Rosenberg interviews Lakoff.
Also links to Lakoff's own analysis:
A Minority President: Why the Polls Failed, and What the Majority Can
Do. Reiterates much of what Lakoff has been saying for several
decades now. Still, I have trouble thinking of Trump as a "strict
father" conservative archetype. I have to wonder if we haven't mutated
into something far more ominous.
Some Colleges Have More Students From the Top 1 Percent Than the Bottom
Trump gives 'most disastrous speech ever given at CIA' says former CIA
WH Staffers Pile on Former CIA Head for Criticizing Trump's Off-the-Rails
Robin Wright: Trump's Vainglorious Affront to the CIA.
Again, very important for readers to contribute to the project to
Help Us Save the Elizabeth M. Fink Attica Archive. Please go there,
read about what's being done, and contribute some money. And pass this
note on to other people who might. Thanks.
Also a reminder that you can read Dean Baker's new book, Rigged:
How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured
to Make the Rich Richer free,