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  #1  
Old 11-15-2016, 11:52 AM
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Default Chomsky & Trumpsky

This is Chomsky. Fucking shut up and just listen ...



Trump in the White House: An Interview With Noam Chomsky

From the link (with emphasis added)The Democratic Party abandoned any real concern for working people by the 1970s, and they have therefore been drawn to the ranks of their bitter class enemies, who at least pretend to speak their language -- [Reagan, Bush] and now Trump, who gives voice to people with legitimate grievances -- people who have lost not just jobs, but also a sense of personal self-worth -- and who rails against the government that they perceive as having undermined their lives (not without reason).

One of the great achievements of the doctrinal system has been to divert anger from the corporate sector to the government that implements the programs that the corporate sector designs, such as the highly protectionist corporate/investor rights agreements that are uniformly mis-described as "free trade agreements" in the media and commentary. With all its flaws, the government is, to some extent, under popular influence and control, unlike the corporate sector. It is highly advantageous for the business world to foster hatred for pointy-headed government bureaucrats and to drive out of people's minds the subversive idea that the government might become an instrument of popular will, a government of, by and for the people.


I could have put this in the Election thread, but that has rightly moved on to mapping and discussing the transition as it unfolds. If there is a case for a separate "How did we get here and is there a way out?" thread, then who better that Noam to kick it off?
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Last edited by mickthinks; 11-15-2016 at 06:07 PM.
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  #2  
Old 11-16-2016, 11:57 AM
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Default Re: Chomsky & Trumpsky

Oof where to start? It is such a tangled mess.

One element seems to be a reaction from large amounts of people who are uncomfortable with a diverse society. It is fine to pay lip-service to things like freedom, equality and freedom of religion when you are in a comfortable majority, but when you find out this means people with values you do not share could actually have a say that carries weight, this terrifies people who wish their values to remain dominant.

I think that when this happens to people who are used to having a very privileged position, and that are used to having the majority of political and economic power, this can happen even if not all that much actual change is required of them, especially if there is also a lot of other stuff to be angry about.

We have seen it all over Europe as well, and now we see it in the USA: singling out Islamic people as dangerous, promising draconian methods to get rid of illegal immigrants, and using the police to crack down on anti-racism protesters were an important means of animating his following. We cannot afford to be politically correct anymore, said Trump, echoing Farrage, Le Pen and Wilders in Europe: we are under attack. Millions will cross our borders and overwhelm us!

It is also what most people who do not support Trump object to most strongly, which may be why Trump has been walking back so much of that lately: suddenly the wall is a fence, suddenly he wants nothing to do with the KKK, etc.

In other countries we have seen that when parties capitalize on xenophobia, intolerance becomes acceptable in politics as well as in day-to-day life. It is one of the things the group of people Trump charmed with this side of his rhetoric find so refreshing: suddenly they get to express these kind of views without fear of being taken to task over it.

Of course, this is just one element of a complex stew of issues, and one that is easily masked by conflating it with lots of the other ones. But I think it is one element that the majority of Americans genuinely want nothing to do with, the one that has the broadest support. If there is to be some sort of organized, cohesive opposition to Generalissimo Trump, I think it is probably the place to start.
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  #3  
Old 11-17-2016, 02:56 AM
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Default Re: Chomsky & Trumpsky

What I'm curious about is what are historical examples of would-be dictators who were defused, and what tactics to take.

It seems to me that a lot of fascist dictators looked a lot like Trump before they seized total control. People didn't take them or their promises seriously, thought they could easily be defeated or controlled later, trusted that their institutions would stop them. Then one day they realize that the institutions have been taken over, opposition is being neutralized and they do, in fact, intend to do the horrible things they promised.

But what are the examples of turning back from such a path? I see a lot of argument about what the Democrats and the left should do with Trump and the GOP in power, but little historical perspective about previous figures similar to Trump.

I guess I should try to find a historian who knows something about it...
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  #4  
Old 11-18-2016, 06:49 PM
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Default Re: Chomsky & Trumpsky

Here's an attempt: the Berlusconi years provide a blueprint to thwart Trump

It's possible that Italian politics and culture are too different from the US for Berlusconi to make a good analogy. And I believe that Berlusconi's own party was not as disciplined as the GOP. So the risks of a Trump presidency are higher.

But while I get the emotional satisfaction of saying the Democrats shouldn't cooperate on anything, and be like Mitch McConnell, I'm not certain that it's the best strategy. The parties aren't symmetrical - Democratic voters like compromise, Republican voters don't; Democrats are the party of government and prefer to make the argument that government can do more, the GOP is the party against government and governmental dysfunction plays into their hands, particularly when the blame is diffuse.

Maybe it's better to refuse to grant Trump any bipartisan legitimacy. But I can't say for sure and most of the people arguing one way or the other aren't making any parallels to similar situations.

ETA: On the other hand, I don't think the Democrats should give any votes whatsoever to Jeff Sessions as AG, a man previously rejected for an appointment by the Senate for being too racist. No compromise should be made on the appointment of blatant racists. But whether to cooperate on infrastructure or the minimum wage is another matter.

Last edited by erimir; 11-18-2016 at 07:47 PM.
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Old 11-18-2016, 09:53 PM
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Default Re: Chomsky & Trumpsky

Is there any reason to believe that President Trump or any other Republicans will need/want/require "bipartisan legitimacy" at all? Trump's and the Republicans' authority has not been based on any theory of legitimacy derived from Democrats. Trump and the Republicans won the presidency and control both houses of Congress. If I were they, I don't think I would be spending too much time worrying right now about seeking legitimacy from a party as weak and ineffective as the Democrats obviously are. Republican refusal to engage in the business of government has been rewarded. Now they should double down on that winning strategy and simply ignore the Democrats entirely.

The Democrats were weak enough with Obama as a relatively powerful executive. Now there is an equally powerful Republican executive, and Democrats are left with...the filibuster, I guess? Ok. Take it away. Other than that, who cares what Democrats have to say about anything at all? Let them cast principled-but-pointless votes. They'll just lose.

Bipartisan legitimacy requires at least two functional parties. That is not reality in the United States at this time.
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  #6  
Old 11-18-2016, 10:17 PM
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Default Re: Chomsky & Trumpsky

I know that's not the reality. But much of America lives in unreality.

The question is how to mitigate Trump's damage and retake control. Obstructionism worked for the GOP. Maybe it can work for us.

But trying to drive a wedge between the Paul Ryan, granny-starver wing and Trump is also a potential strategy. Ryan wants to cut Social Security and Medicare even though Trump voters don't want that. McConnell doesn't want to build infrastructure, but Trump voters do want that. Help start a fight between them then.

I don't know which is the better strategy though.
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Old 11-18-2016, 10:29 PM
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Default Re: Chomsky & Trumpsky

The GOP had the actual machinery needed to obstruct - control of Congress.

Democrats don't have that.

There is no way to mitigate Trump's damage while Trump is in office with a Republican congress. That wound is as good as inflicted even before he is inaugurated. The country - including privileged you and privileged me - deserves what is coming.

There is not yet enough information to determine how to retake control because Trump has not yet taken control. The consequences of unrestrained exercise of power by Republicans are not yet manifest. Anyone who offers Democrats a strategy right now is full of shit. Democrats don't have the power to shape events, so they can only be reactive. There is not yet anything to react against. And for the foreseeable future, whatever puny reaction they might be able to muster will be pathetic indeed.
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Old 11-18-2016, 10:58 PM
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Default Re: Chomsky & Trumpsky

That's true. That was part of what I was getting at above. I've been seeing some strident takes on who's right, people like Harry Reid, who refused to offer any conciliatory statements towards Trump, or people like Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders, who said well, maybe there are some areas we could work together. People were reacting like Reid is going to make things worse, or Schumer and Sanders* are betraying the base. I don't know for sure which response is correct (possibly we need both responses?). People saying that "this is a recipe to normalize Trump" don't cite any precedents for the situation we're in. As you say, it's not clear that bipartisan legitimacy/normalization is something that will matter in the first place.

*I will say this... Sanders is taking the sort of approach he criticized Clinton for taking. I recall many a post telling me that Obama and Clinton don't know how to negotiate and offer concessions up front. "You have to ask for a whole loaf and maybe settle for a half loaf. Clinton will offer a half loaf and settle for a quarter!" And now we see Sanders has said he could work with Trump on a $10 minimum wage, less than the number Clinton offered and he criticized as too low to accept.

I don't know what to make of that, I just find it interesting.
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Old 11-19-2016, 06:28 AM
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Default Re: Chomsky & Trumpsky

Quote:
Originally Posted by erimir View Post
*I will say this... Sanders is taking the sort of approach he criticized Clinton for taking. I recall many a post telling me that Obama and Clinton don't know how to negotiate and offer concessions up front. "You have to ask for a whole loaf and maybe settle for a half loaf. Clinton will offer a half loaf and settle for a quarter!" And now we see Sanders has said he could work with Trump on a $10 minimum wage, less than the number Clinton offered and he criticized as too low to accept.

I don't know what to make of that, I just find it interesting confusing and depressing.
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Old 12-11-2016, 06:31 PM
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Default Re: Chomsky & Trumpsky

Apparently more people voted for Clinton than voted for any president in history except Obama in 2004.

I confess I don't understand all the points being made there, and some of you will perhaps find fault with some of them. Please, be my guest!
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Old 12-11-2016, 08:50 PM
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Default Re: Chomsky & Trumpsky

The numbers are wrong. Obama received >65.9 million votes in 2012 according to the Federal Election Commission, so Clinton has not surpassed that number.

They haven't certified the vote in California, NY or a few other states, but they're pretty much done with the counting, so it's unlikely she will pick up the ~200k votes she needs to overtake Obama's 2012 number (current count has her at >65.7m votes). It's possible, but I'm not betting on it.

As a percentage of the vote, the two-way vote (so excluding 3rd-party voters) or of the voting age population, her numbers are not exceptional. Population growth is the big reason she got so many votes despite only receiving about 48.2% of the vote.

However, it is true that Clinton got a higher percentage of the vote than 11 elected presidents (excluding Trump), which includes her husband's first election.

It's also the case that Trump got the 7th lowest percentage for an elected president and the 4th lowest for a president since the Civil War. He got the worst margin of any president except Rutherford B. Hayes and John Q. Adams. However, I would point out that the party system was not yet solidified for Adams's election: there were four Democratic-Republican candidates in the general election. So that puts Trump as the second worst margin for races between a Democrat and a Republican. But one could also point out that there were electoral shenanigans in the election of Hayes (intimidation of black voters, in particular) that denied him a popular vote victory, whereas the shenanigans in this election were beneficial to Trump. Trump also lost the popular vote by the largest absolute number of votes by far.

Trump's showing in the Electoral College is also not very impressive, as the EC tends not to deliver close results. Trump has the 13th smallest % of Electoral College votes among winners, and that's assuming there are no defections (even a handful of defections would push him one or two places down).

Or as Trump would put it: "I won in a historic landslide!"
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Old 12-16-2016, 12:14 PM
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Default Re: Chomsky & Trumpsky

Normalizing fascists



From the linkWhen the Chicago Daily News’ Edgar Mowrer wrote that Germany was becoming “an insane asylum” in 1933, the Germans pressured the State Department to rein in American reporters. Allen Dulles, who eventually became director of the CIA, told Mowrer he was “taking the German situation too seriously.” Mowrer’s publisher then transferred him out of Germany in fear of his life. ...]

Dorothy Thompson, who judged Hitler a man of “startling insignificance” in 1928, realized her mistake by mid-decade when she, like Mowrer, began raising the alarm.

“No people ever recognize their dictator in advance,” she reflected in 1935. “He never stands for election on the platform of dictatorship. He always represents himself as the instrument [of] the Incorporated National Will.” Applying the lesson to the U.S., she wrote, “When our dictator turns up you can depend on it that he will be one of the boys, and he will stand for everything traditionally American.”
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Old 12-16-2016, 11:10 PM
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Default Re: Chomsky & Trumpsky

And for lower attention spans*, nice, tidy, easy to read list:

The 4 Syndromes Of Passivity In The Face Of Pending Tyranny | The Huffington Post

*like mine
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Old 12-18-2016, 01:58 AM
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Default Re: Chomsky & Trumpsky

Quote:
Originally Posted by erimir View Post
The numbers are wrong. Obama received >65.9 million votes in 2012 according to the Federal Election Commission, so Clinton has not surpassed that number.

They haven't certified the vote in California, NY or a few other states, but they're pretty much done with the counting, so it's unlikely she will pick up the ~200k votes she needs to overtake Obama's 2012 number (current count has her at >65.7m votes). It's possible, but I'm not betting on it.
All states except South Dakota have now certified their votes (and we can assume that South Dakota is unlikely to change the final vote counts much).

Obama 2012: 65,915,795
Clinton 2016: 65,844,594

So Clinton will fall short of Obama 2012 by about 71k votes. Her total is about 99.9% of Obama's, but since the total number of votes was 5.9% higher (a 0.9% increase in turnout relative to voting-eligible population), her percentage of the vote was almost 3% lower.

Anyway, the final results undermine a number of the initial hot takes that came out on Nov 9 or the following week. The stuff about this election being a low-turnout election were wrong. 2004 and 2008 had higher turnout, but turnout was higher than every presidential election from 1972 through 2000, as well as 2012. It is still low compared to a lot of other countries of course.

Her margin over Trump was 2.86 million, or 2.1%. Which is modest, but as said before, was big enough for an Electoral College victory in all but one other election since the party system solidified. And as I said, that one had significant election shenanigans that would be considered criminal today. Not that this one didn't have any shenanigans.

So why did she lose in terms of the numbers? Well, there were about 2.4 million voters who came out but left the presidential line blank (compared to 1.2 million in 2012). These numbers were excluded from the turnout numbers above, so turnout was up even more when you account for those eligible voters who came out but didn't vote for president, from 58.6% to 60%. And 7.8 million third-party votes compared to 2.2 million in 2012. While Clinton's votes stayed about the same as Obama 2012, Trump's votes increased 3.4% over Romney's. Which didn't keep up with the increase in turnout either, so he ended with a smaller percentage of the vote than Romney did (and only about 0.4% higher than McCain in 2008). And then the votes were not distributed well, as we all know.

It's not clear what the full presidential preferences of those who left president blank or voted third-party were. It seems likely that Clinton would've done better if they had all given a preference between Trump and Clinton, but perhaps not enough to swing the election (she would've needed to win third-party voters in PA by a 20 pt margin, but I don't see reporting for number of blank presidential votes in PA). It's more likely that simply getting higher turnout would've mattered more.

Anyway, it shows that while she was a bit weaker than Obama 2012, it makes a lot more sense to talk about specific areas of weakness, rather than saying she was just a horrible candidate overall. She was better than Kerry and Gore and Dukakis and Mondale and McGovern and Humphrey, it would seem. She barely came up short. She was a good fit for California (which, by the final count, had higher turnout even despite the lack of a competitive senate race), and had significant improvements in Arizona, Georgia and Texas as well. AZ and GA may be true swing states in 2020 or 2024, absent massive increases in voter suppression, which is a possibility. If Texas swings as hard in 2020 as it did this year, even it would be a swing state, but my assumption is that they will move more slowly. So basically, strategy for 2020 if patterns hold up would either be about appealing to the Rust Belt, but with some possibility of pursuing a Southern/Southwestern strategy instead (plenty of time to figure out which would be a more productive path over the next 3 years), to the extent that you focus on certain areas. Obviously if Trump is very unpopular it won't matter much what areas you focus on, since he almost certainly won't be able to withstand a 4% popular vote loss.

And/or for voter preferences to be better for Clinton. It seems clear that without the FBI+Comey and Russia+Wikileaks ratfucking she would've won the election, given that her poll numbers dropped by about 3-4 pts in the aftermath of the Comey letter in October. Her numbers started recovering in the last few days before the election, but still ended up 2 pts lower than before the letter. With early voting in swing and the loss of any ability to go on the attack against Trump, it seems likely she would've won by 3% without that. But it's plausible she might've won by as much as 6% without FBI ratfucking.

After accounting for that, you're left asking why Clinton would've won by only 3-6% before the Comey letter, and how to pad her vote margins in the Rust Belt to prevent that Electoral College weakness. That's a different question from why her message was so incredibly unmotivating - it seems her message in the mouth of a different candidate not vulnerable to FBI ratfucking* might've won just fine. There are certainly areas to tweak it, but I think her platform was solid and a lot of people on the left just assert that it was weak without looking much into it (most of their complaints are about relatively minor differences like $12 vs. $15 minimum wage, given that a national $15 minimum wage was unlikely to pass and does not have majority support among Americans).

The issues with the TPP are generally not a problem with her platform, but a problem with the candidate's history, rightly or wrongly (and to some extent, the fact that Obama refused to drop the TPP during the campaign). Her platform was against the TPP. But given that most Americans like trade, it's not clear that a 100% anti-trade message is best. I would like a candidate to make the case that trade is good, but trade should be on a level playing field - companies in China should not compete with American companies by forcing conditions on their workers that were outlawed in the US decades ago or dumping toxic chemicals directly into rivers or the like. This has the benefit of arguing both for American workers while not embracing the type of xenophobic rhetoric that Trump used in his anti-trade arguments (the problem with trade with CHYna is that CHYna is "beating us", nothing to do with worker's rights or the like, which Trump gives not one shit about). People who are surprised that Trump is escalating tensions with China weren't paying attention to his campaign rhetoric.

*The fact that it was the FBI probably made it worse than normal GOP ratfucking. The GOP is quite good at ratfucking, and the media is usually willing to play along (as it did with Gore and Kerry), but Americans tend to trust law enforcement and military more than they trust other institutions, which is probably why the ratfucking coming directly from the FBI was so damaging. This is one of the arguments in favor of Bernie, but it is not the argument that a lot of the "Bernie would've won" people would like to make (they would like to make that case on ideological grounds, that her platform was too centrist, which I find a lot shakier - I think Bernie's policy proposals would've been shredded in the general and his far left history was a likely weakness). And unfortunately, it didn't help that a number of anti-Clinton leftists were perfectly happy to amplify FBI ratfucking, despite their usual inclination to be skeptical of law enforcement.

Ugh... Sorry for the :tealdeer:
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  #15  
Old 02-06-2017, 12:18 PM
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Default Re: Chomsky & Trumpsky

Okay, this is quite an old and says nothing we didn't know or at least suspect already.

Right-Wing Extremists Are a Bigger Threat to America Than ISIS

But it makes two points very clearly that matter today. One is that White supremacists are a far bigger terrorist threat to innocent law-abiding Americans than Muslims, whether refugees, asylum seekers, immigrants or American born. And secondly it wasn't just white working-class anger at the political establishment represented by Washington elites, but specifically their anger at the GOP's failure to follow through on all the accusations of criminality and corruption against Obama that it had made up.

From the linkRepublicans continued their drumbeat of conspiracy theories to bring out the base, capturing the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2012. And imagine what these right-wing extremists thought. Where were the impeachment proceedings? Why wasn’t Obama under arrest? The man was a murderer, a tyrant spitting on the Constitution, a fraud holding the presidency unlawfully. There were only two possible answers for the extremists: accepting that the Republicans had been lying to them, or deciding that these politicians had sold out the minute they won control.
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Old 02-06-2017, 01:28 PM
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Default Re: Chomsky & Trumpsky

Meanwhile, Breitbart is opening offices in Berlin and Paris. With the french elections coming up, Marine le Pen is actually becoming somewhat of a contender, while some of the traditional candidates seem to be mired in scandal.

She is already using some of the familiar language: The culture-war narrative where we are all under threat from fundamentalist Islam and where Europe languishes under EU tyranny now has an element I never noticed from her before: apparently there is also a Globalist conspiracy going on. That sounds very Breitbart to me already. But then again reading Le Pen speeches is not something I enjoy, so maybe that was already a feature before.

Some of the same elements that allowed Trump to win are present in France: disillusionment with mainstream politics and growing xenophobia. Throw in the euro-sceptics together with the nationalists and a healthy dose of protest voters, and we could have another perfect shitstorm coming. One that the EU is not likely to survive, if it comes to that. Le Pen would probably mean a Frexit.
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Old 02-06-2017, 01:31 PM
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Default Re: Chomsky & Trumpsky

It's all the same line, from Trump to Brexit to Le Pen. Global conspiracy, globalism bad, immigrants driving down wages of working-class while enriching liberal elite, Islamic terrorists everywhere, time to close our borders.

The EU will survive Brexit, but I agree it won't survive Le Pen. I'm pretty worried.
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Old 02-16-2019, 04:00 PM
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Default Re: Chomsky & Trumpsky

More Chomsky on Trumpsky
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