Over at Balloon Juice, David Anderson confronts the question of why do Democrats have to offer up plans that are already a compromise of a compromise, and raises some good points, but I kind of think he’s answering a different question than what was asked. He notes the dangers of overpromising and the problems that the Republicans have had in governing, and this is the key argument:

I would rather under-promise and over deliver than over promise and under deliver.

I also believe that the details matter and an accurate assessment of the current state and a reasonable approximation of future states is critical in doing anything well. I can be accused of having that bias for professional and financial reasons as I am a health policy wonk and figuring out complex systems pays the mortgage. I don’t think that is what drives me, but I will acknowledge that possibility.

I want a political and policy program that has two realistic chances.  The first is that it needs a realistic chance of passing Congress and being signed into law.  The second is that once it is law, it needs to have a realistic chance of actually working and doing what it intends to do without surprising consequences in type or scale.

I can’t argue with these points at all. And yet, I’m not sure this actually answers the why of it, which at this point I think is essentially habit. Bill Clinton comes in for a lot of criticism–much of it deserved–for the choices he made in the 1990s, but it’s not as though triangulation was a wildly insane choice given the context of the 1990s: a more conservative but less polarized country, a Republican Party still willing to cut deals sometimes with Democrats, a great economy. Third Wayism was disappointing but not an altogether insane reaction given those circumstances. It was not at all sane in the context of the early 2010s–whether Obama offered up an incremental, centrist plan that 80% of focus groups supported or Bernie’s health care plan, Republicans weren’t going to pass it, and it didn’t seemingly make much of a difference in terms of gaining approval from the middle. Same was true on immigration, guns, Merrick Garland, etc. There are certainly people who think it was wise of Obama to keep to the center on this stuff but the anemic turnout in 2014 doesn’t exactly bear it out (nor does the anemic turnout in 2016 for Hillary Clinton’s extremely similarly-themed campaign). To be fair, not even all Clinton supporters wanted this kind of campaign, which is why she adopted more of Sanders’s positions. But really, Sanders’s biggest departure was to get Democrats to think big again on issues. This was deemed “irresponsible” by many as there wasn’t a clear path to passage for all of his stuff, but it’s not like there was any more of a path to passage for Clinton’s stuff in a gridlocked Congress, so…

Which is why I think Anderson misses the point of it here. Compromise is a normal part of governing. You can’t always get what you want, and you have to accept what you can get. But precompromising is essentially an outmoded, generation-old strategy to box out the right politically that rests on assumptions that no longer hold: a broadly-growing economy, a broad center that can be reached through normal political appeals, a conservative opposition that is at least willing to consider a win-win proposal, etc. None of that holds, so triangulation is essentially a dead letter (or undead, as I don’t think the institutional party has abandoned it quite yet). But there’s no need for Democrats to keep bothering with it. It’s not pragmatic to cling to an outdated strategy, it’s the opposite.

Share
Lev filed this under: , ,  

I sometimes hear that loyalty with Donald Trump is a one-way street, that he’s not loyal to anybody, etc. Well, he was loyal to Michael Flynn (supposedly he hated firing him and wanted/wants to bring him back somehow). He’s loyal to Vladimir Putin. And he’s loyal to the alt-right. Honestly, the smart move in all cases would have been savage betrayal after they’d served their usefulness: all of them played some role in getting Trump there but all were liabilities going forward, especially since he essentially became a garden-variety Republican president anyway. It’s not as if the Richard Spencers of the world would have plausibly bolted over to the Democrats after all. Trump can be loyal, and he can betray, but he doesn’t seem to know when either would be in his best interest. That requires some appreciation of power.

Yep, definitely a hidden political genius at play here.

Share
Lev filed this under:  

Honestly, I’m not sure why anyone would buy that the “denounce Nazis and anti-Nazis alike and wait a couple of days, see how that plays, and then maybe make it a bit stronger” should be considered better than nothing, though perhaps a small number of MSM Broderians and suburban Randians will think it matters.

I’ve often said that too many Americans only see Bull Connor/KKK style spectacle as racism, and since they don’t engage in that, they can’t be racist. Well, Charlottesville was that, and Trump wedged himself into an actually untenable position. (I thought he was some sort of political savant!) There are bigots who are smooth and sophisticated. Trump isn’t either of the latter. Not sure if this is good because it puts the actual darkness into starker relief, or if it’s bad because now Ted Cruz is a “moderate,” but it’s pretty clear-cut. But I’m sure that instigating a government shutdown over The Wall will fix those Year Seven of George W. Bush approvals!

I couldn’t find the actual clip I wanted on YouTube, but I’ll settle for this one from the same episode:

Share
Lev filed this under: ,  

This is really great on the Google controversy, but I think that “prominent evolutionary psychologist” really gives away the game. I saw a bit of an interview with the fired Google guy in which he was talking about adrenal levels among similarly spurious things and I just thought: what does this have to do with anything? The adrenaline-generating work of software development? I figured the argument was headed in this direction because of how specifically stupid it was. You can’t empirically study the mindset of early hominids. They died over a hundred thousand years ago. Evolutionary psychology is nonsense like “we’re scared of spiders because they remind us of dinosaurs that hunted us” that isn’t in any way observable or even provable, just sort of sounds plausible, and depends on dubious notions of “collective unconscious” and the like. It’s about as scientifically rigorous as the ending of Battlestar Galactica maybe. It can make for a fun standup set, but that’s it.

Also, people, stop sharing David Brooks’s columns when they’re good. You give him credibility when he’s bad, which is like 90% of the time at least. The “brave” columns are loss-leaders for him to put right-wing nonsense into the heads of New York Times readers. It’s a scam, nothing more.

Share
Lev filed this under:  

It’s pretty crazy to think that a few months ago, Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were all talking about how eager they were to work with Trump on an infrastructure bill. Can you even imagine how much more vicious the infighting within the Democratic Party would be if he’d just said, fine, that’ll be bill number one, why don’t you write it Chuck? Sure, it would have seriously pissed off conservatives, but Trump could have set the tone with a big, bipartisan, normalizing win, and then he could have gotten on with all the horrible nativism right after that to make the knuckle-draggers happy. In one fell swoop, he could have rendered the entire Democratic leadership radioactive to the base, first using them and then making them both collaborationists and dupes in the eyes of Democrats for the sake of some new roads. And they fucking wanted to help make that happen! All he had to say was yes.

This is both why Trump is no political genius in disguise (a notion that seems to have died along with TrumpCare, at least outside the fever swamps), and also why the post-Trump era is going to seriously suck, because neither are the top Democrats, honestly. The focus at the moment needs to be on opposing Trump of course, but let’s say that Dems wind up with the presidency and Congress in 2021 (something I’m reasonably optimistic about). What then? It won’t take long for elite Republicans to once again join hands with white nationalists in the opposition to [insert center-left incrementalist here] as the new Great Satan. They won’t be chastened by a Trump fiasco, they’ll just get even madder, and up the ante. The inevitable failure of Trump will merely increase the fanaticism and desperation of the Right, every day will be “The Flight 93 Election” or whatever it was called. I’m just not optimistic about Democrats’ chances in that sort of trench warfare, it runs so contrary to their inclinations: turning the page, national unity, etc. Maybe Gillibrand, maybe, could handle it. But as good as Cory Booker would be as a candidate against Trump in 2020–sunshine and positivity and inspirational quotes are cheesy to me but they’re just going to kill in Iowa and elsewhere–I fear he’d just get eaten up by that, and I don’t think the other big names would do much better. It’ll be the GOP running one chamber at least after the midterms and then who knows what. I think the republic will survive Trump, I do however wonder if it’ll survive the next spell of divided government with a Democratic president. And nothing I’ve seen this year has assuaged this fear.

Share
Lev filed this under: ,  

The target this time is Ghostbusters (2016):

Share
{ 1 comment }
Lev filed this under: ,  

Erm, nothing to see here, please move on.  FAKE NEWS.

Share

In truth, with certain personality types (Trump very much included), the more over-the-top the threat is, the more likely it is to be bullshit. Still, this is just another example among many that he ought to be removed from office as soon as possible. Throwing fire upon a tense situation like this is beyond the pale of acceptable behavior. And yes, he hasn’t “done” anything, but given the nuclear arsenal he controls, “just cause” firing is hardly an acceptable standard.

Share
Lev filed this under:  
 

Your Vintners