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Thursday, November 10, 2016


First of all, please let us not start fighting among ourselves.  We need everyone who is appalled by Trump to band together in a united front.  Some will be rich, some like me will be affluent, and many, many will be of modest means or poor.  We are banding together to survive.

Second, after spending a day reading what everyone has to say about the prospect of a Trump presidency, I find myself thinking that it will be much, much worse than I feared.  We can put to one side any differences we may have among ourselves.  We are going to need as many strong men and women as we can muster.  Since I am old and pretty well off, I give money.  Since I can write, I write.  Others will protest, organize, petition, create and build a movement -- each of us doing what he or she can.

The next four years are going to be appalling.  To survive, we will need as much schadenfreude as we can muster, plus some good songs.


Guy Tennenbaum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Guy Tennenbaum said...

What we are witnessing is a coalition comprised of the old guard Reaganite GOP plus the newly emboldened alt-Reich. And currently the alt-Reich is firmly in the driver's seat. Regarding what Brian Leiter wrote earlier today about what he thinks is the high likelihood that Jared Kushner (T***p's Jewish son-in-law, and a turncoat Democrat) will keep the Bannon alt-Reich faction in the margins, I say: Please, are you kidding me?! Let's assume Kushner is reasonably sane and competent. He still had virtually no success keeping his father-in-law's campaign from erupting into the dumbster fire of incompetence it became, nor with getting T***p to tamp down his racist authoritarian rhetoric. Have we forgotten that Hitleresque convention speech? More to the point, T***p seemingly can't toss away the alt-Reich because when he speaks of his "movement," that is exactly what he is referring to.

And in case anyone missed it, the HuffingtonPost is now reporting that Peter Thiel is being floated for transition chief. (With batty Tea Party Queen Sarah Palin along for the ride as Secretary of the Interior, for old time's sake, I suppose.) This is completely crazy. To the extent that Peter Thiel's politics aren't just gibberish, they seem to amount to something like Ayn Rand on LSD mixed with batshit-techno futurism. And in that weird amalgam of incoherence driven by animus, they are emblematic of the alt-Reich. These are the times we live in. It won't end well.

Unknown said...

I’m looking for guidance here. Bernie is asking us to support Keith Ellison for head of the DNC. (Howard Dean is the only other candidate I’ve heard of so far, but I’m sure there are or will be others).

Ellison is the first Muslim to be elected to Congress. From what I know of him, I can see no reason not to support him—except his religious beliefs. I don’t mean that I disagree with him theologically—I’m agnostic and would disagree with just about any one theologically. I mean in a practical political sense. He was raised and educated Catholic and converted to Islam while in college.

My concern is that this background will alienate, first of all, Catholics who would see him as an apostate, and second, all of the bigots who join Trump in wishing to deny Muslims their First Amendment rights. I despise their reasons, but they vote. Some of them may agree with a Bernie-inspired economic program or position that Ellison supports, but be turned off by him either because he left Catholicism or because he is a Muslim, or both. And their votes count.

I’m afraid I’ll be faced with these kinds of decisions many times in the coming four years—when to turn my back on a principle that I value greatly for the practical reason that I believe that doing so would help in opposing Trump.

Was it Michael Walzer who wrote about the “problem of dirty hands”? I believe I once had the book. It may be time to find and read it again.

Jerry Fresia said...

I appreciate your repeated advice about not fighting among ourselves, that we need to band together as much
as possible. Because of you and because of that particular piece of wisdom, I actually began thinking more generously about my liberal friends who were gaga over Hillary and toward whom I actually felt some - well, let's just call it disdain. I suppose I will just have to muster all the tolerance I can as we move into a dark age and truly need to build bridges even among DNC types.

But, but, but....

I also believe that Tom Frank and Michael Moore had it right, name that the neoliberal DNC types, headed by HRC, had enormous contempt for leftists - even the FDR variety - and that they either pushed a good chunk of the "precariat" into the Trump camp or simply encouraged them to stay home and not vote. So if part of the plan is to capture the Democratic party or a good part of it, ought we not inveigh against what appears to me to be arrogant and elitist neoliberal types that led the charge up the wrong hill?????

What do do? I like the idea of good song. Cumbayah anyone?

Or maybe "Which Side Are You On." The notion of drawing a line in the sand seems more exciting.


Danny said...

'To survive, we will need as much schadenfreude as we can muster, plus some good songs.'

Is there a more colloquial synonym for "schadenfreude"? Since the essential quality of schadenfreude is *passive enjoyment from a safe distance of the suffering or misfortune of others*, I think "lulz", or the phrase 'armchair malice'. Whenever I experience schadenfreude (a feeling I often get), I also feel smug. I think to "gloat" means to actively express your schadenfreude. I talk about this being a feeling I often get. Well, say that I'm in the supermarket. The cashier's name tag says she's 'Holly'. She's way to old to be standing behind this counter. Her husband left so many years ago. Dreams have a limited shelf life. Like cornflakes. The man in line before me. The overweight woman behind me. Frumpy. Her dreams will fade. And here I am. There is a depth of empathy that can kill you. To survive, we will need need better songs.

Jerry Fresia said...

Here's some schadenfreude in the form of a poem:

The Short Happy Life of Paul Krugman

Paul (“Jill Stein cost HRC the election”) wasn’t good at math. That’s why he became an economist. He wasn’t good at logic either. That’s why he became a New York Times columnist.

The end.

Danny said...

How about a poem about Yanis Varoufakis?

Sorry, that was I think actually pretty hilarious, but I just have to apologize for not getting the Krugman hate. I'm honestly hoping to get it better. I perceive him to be of the variety of social democracy, green politics, democratic socialism. I think that he supports reducing the economic gap, or, in other words, opposes a wide gap between the rich and the poor. And more specifically he supports a progressive income tax, laws prohibiting child labor, minimum wage laws, laws regulating working conditions, limits on working hours, laws to ensure the workers' right to organize. These are views leaning to the left-wing. I think his sin, is, well, maybe it's that he isn't good at logic, though it is brave to be casting stones. Maybe it's that he isn't good at math. I commend being good at math. But my guess is that his sin is that his ideas are closer to center than some other left-wing variants. I mean, what is our opinion, of center-left politics or moderate left politics?

Chris said...

"I'm honestly hoping to get it better. I perceive him to be of the variety of social democracy, green politics, democratic socialism."
-Does not explain why he was vitriolically opposed to Sander's and irrationally for Clinton.

This was an establishment (clinton) versus non-establishment election (trump-sanders), the DNC, Krugman, and the whole non-fox media hedged establishment, but all the queen's horses and all the queen's men, couldn't put Clinton's campaign back together again.

Krugman is dead, NYTimes dead, WaPo, dead, if you want to win in 4 years, it's left wing populism or more Trump. Period.

Chris said...

Jerry I'm with you!

Danny said...

how about a poem about that cute couple, George Akerlof and Janet Yellen? ;)

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Chris, I do not think you should be so hard on Krugman. After all, he has risen to the top of his profession despite suffering from a severe congenital impairment that one might have expected would make it impossible for him to survive in his profession. I refer, of course, to his complete physical inability to pronounce or write the words "Karl Marx."

Danny said...

So why isn't Marx a household word? A a pop cultural icon? ;)

But actually, Krugman has remarked on Marx, as here: 'By my reckoning, Karl Marx made about as much contribution to economics as Zeppo Marx made to comedy.' He's quoted Keynes on the matter with approval: 'Marxian Socialism must always remain a portent to the historians of Opinion - how a doctrine so illogical and so dull can have exercised so powerful and enduring an influence over the minds of men, and through them, the events of history.'

I'm not saying that Krugman is right about everything. Perhaps he is not right about the relevance of Marx. But he *on the record* about it, as here: 'old-fashioned Marxism — which shouldn’t be a reason to ignore facts, but too often is..'

Chris said...

Professor Wolff,
That's not completely true, I've sent you Krugman on Marx before, he did write a short essay.

But I think we seriously need to take stock of the points Taibbi, Greenwald, and Thomas Frank are making, which is that we now live (justifiably I might add) in an anti-establishment society. Whether or not Krugman is right/wrong often or ever is beside the point, he's categorically establishment, and if we keep taking marching order from the establishment we are guaranteed more Trumps. The only counter here is a left-wing anti establishment approach, which can win make michigan, wisconsin, etc., and I find it frankly implausible Krugman has some kind of vital role to play in that.

The whole "vote Hillary because Trump will destroy everything" argument was exactly what predicated a VOTE FOR TRUMP, people want the system to be hit with a sledgehammer, fine let's swing that hammer leftward not rightward... No?

Chris said...

We had a brief flickering moment there where the left-wing revolution was appearing on the horizon, and that's when Sanders was doing well. We are being given a much more difficult but still possible moment, and that's as an anti-establishment reaction to Trump.

I read yesterday and today the DNC wants to appoint Howard Dean or Biden, and the Clinton campaign is saying they did everything right to win given their polling data so they don't feel responsible for running her, and Krugman and other op-ed folks are blaming Jill Stein for Trump's win. The echo chamber is reforming, the establishment is rationalizing, if that continues we'll have more Trumps, we need a dual resistance here.

Danny said...

The way that I look at it is, Trump may just be able to follow through on some of those promises to build a wall at the southern border, ban Muslims from entering the U.S., eliminate gun-free zones, repeal Obamacare, and bring back manufacturing jobs. I'm kidding, though, as I think the president-elect will struggle to deliver on some of those promises.

So okay, what shall we promise, that we can deliver on? What if he had promised that socialism will be very successful economically?

I'm actually very open to the idea that Socialist Democracies can certainly work, but on the other hand, maybe a lot of it depends. Perhaps, as I figure it, there are fundamental differences between the psyche and population size and shapes of Britain and countries like Denmark. Maybe those who worry more about their tax rate than the many benefits that they offer are simply focused on the wrong thing, but I gather that 'mainstream economics' is also the wrong thing to be focused on?

Danny said...

I wouldn't want this to just be about name calling and finger pointing, btw, -- I'm a lifelong democract, voted for Clinton. It's not my fault!

Let me summarize a point: the Clinton campaign should have taken Sanders’s popularity as a huge clue that this was going to be a change election that would not reward centrist-establishment tendencies. “I told you so. We always said that Hillary was flawed and corrupt and that she was vulnerable to these accusations and now it is all coming to pass and her corruption is going to result either in a Trump Presidency or four years of Congressional investigation of her corruption. You should have listened to us when we supported Bernie instead of supporting Clinton. Now you are reaping what you have sown.”

Now, to this my reaction is that I call it a 'perspective', if you see yourself as on the cutting edge of a political revolution. And from my perspective, the Democratic Party has always been an unwieldy coalition. So okay, maybe choosing the candidate of the young white lefties can work, and I don't see it. Maybe because I would see it better, if I had a better sense of demographics, politics, and history. I'm willing to consider it, though I admit that I never thought Sanders could be a viable Democratic candidate for President; I doubted he could win the primary. Clinton won.

Maybe what happened is Clinton’s closing message in the final weeks of her campaign was focused on Trump’s temperament, and the fact that he was unfit for office. This looks to me like the Clinton campaign's theory that simply making Trump unacceptable was enough to win. But, meanwhile, the Republican Party almost uniformly capitulated to Trump and so Republican-leaning supporters shifted back to Trump. so okay, that's two different perspectives on the question whether Hillary Clinton is simply too far to the right.