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April 01, 2016


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I think you would see mass civil disobedience against Trump's likely domestic orders in many regions of the country, up to and including some state governors. Not enough to prevent anti-Muslim persecution, especially in (but not limited to) the South, but enough so that it won't be a complete blot on our history.

Honestly, it would not surprise me if even some FBI branch offices recused themselves from Trump's likely orders. They'll receive them, but they won't comply with them, and what's he going to do about that? Waterboard them? Get out the old hand-crank phone and call Algeria on their nipples?

What in the world is wrong with Aaron David Miller? I mean, I can't understand how any quasi-establishment figure (and with his career he'd entirely count as establishment) would try to defend the idea of a Trump presidency and foreign policy as just "staying the course." Is there some odd neurotic side to him I'm not aware of?

"A few others punted. And everyone else: the domestic reaction of World War 2 combined with the strategic sense of Vietnam, added to a use of torture avoided in both wars, plus the burning of all bridges with our allies that can possibly be burned."

You have a real way with words here. I like it.

I really enjoyed your summary of D’Antonio (I'm going to have to flag the full articles for later). You know I'm frustrated by our (society's, the establishment, etc.) retrospective analysis of the lead up to the Iraq War, where I think too many people don't hold Bush sufficiently responsible for the top-down pressures to filter information and intelligence in such a way as to lead to a justification for war with Iraq. The explicit restructuring of intelligence agencies and the creation of new hubs for presenting analysis should be a smoking gun for intent, but it just gets brushed aside.

I worry about the same situation with a Trump Presidency. Trump is going to want to hit back harder and faster. From the top-down, the message goes out that we need to act swiftly and decisively. We cannot wait. So we get rushed jobs and incomplete analysis, people cut corners. And then ten years later Aaron David Miller is writing about how it's wrong to blame President Trump for the invasion of Pakistan, he was being advised by the same people who would have advised President Rubio, and while they may have been wrong about their conclusions, we only know that with hindsight, they were doing the best they could at the time, etc. etc.

Cruz is interesting for having taken a niche close to the Rand Paul isolationist (or non-interventionist as they'd like to say) wing. Rubio is your standard central casting neocon. I think he'd be interesting to the extent that I believe Israel under Netanyahu has gotten worse in terms of being a rational actor, and Rubio is going to shift the US back into alignment. But I have similar concerns with Hillary. But note "similar concerns" not the "same concern."

I think W's role is downplayed because it looks similar to the classic partisan back and forth over the role of the NSC that's occurred since the Nixon administration. How do you disentangle that from other intent? I mean, look at all the *Ford* administration retreads that came back from the dead.

The question du jour is: what would Paul Ryan do?

There's lots of buzz suddenly appearing about Ryan as the party's magical replacement candidate at the Convention of Chaos. And the Berniac vs. Hillbot bile is getting so nasty, I'm beginning to think he could just waltz into the White House by not being Donald Trump; half the Democratic Party would probably vote for him.

Not really. The massive backlash that would come from picking someone other than Trump or Cruz as the nominee is real. It isn't 1968 anymore, even if it looking like 1976.

Ryan might make a stronger candidate than Trump or Cruz (in terms of retaining the base) but that's not saying much ... and it's not certain at all.

As for "half the Democratic Party would probably vote for him" ... huh? What on God's green Earth are you talking about?

I was thinking of posting on the Democratic race, but I don't have much to say outside trade. What I can say is that as far as bile goes, this doesn't hold a candle to 2008. And what there is makes Hillary a better candidate. What, the GOP isn't going to harp on emails and Goldman speeches? Not.

I also thought the Democratic bile wasn't at 2008 levels... until just the past few days. Online, at least, it feels like it's getting a lot more raw and nasty all of a sudden.

I'm getting very frustrated by the online discourse on the Democratic primary side. I think it's isolated to a core of Bernie supporters who are very open to a world view that embraces conspiracies. The Panama Papers et al. provide justification to believe that the elite are rigging the game, but they seem to be developing a complex theory of DWS, the Democratic establishment, superdelegates, and red states not mattering to convince themselves that Hillary's dominating performance is in fact stealing the nomination.


The Internet is a magnifying device, for multiple reasons. 2008 was much worse.

There are reasons to worry about the lack of trust in Hillary Clinton. I don't share it, but even I've had trouble defending her. (Not the emails; the speeches and that stupid foundation.)

The thing is, better she gets hit with that in the primary. If Senator Obama could survive Reverend Wright, then Senator Clinton will survive a few donations from right-minded people in oil and gas.

Hell. Carlos, I bet I know who those donors are.

"I'm beginning to think he could just waltz into the White House by not being Donald Trump; half the Democratic Party would probably vote for him."

This is laughable. Paul Ryan is ideologically committed to the complete and utter destruction of the social safety net system that Democrats are not only committed to, but spent the entire Obama Presidency expanding. I don't think the Beltway and media fully appreciate how extreme Ryan can come off as once the attacks go up.

I am sure that Ryan could pick up some fraction of Sanders' low-information or conspiracy-minded voters, and also those motivated by misogyny, whether unconsciously or simmering barely below the surface.

But it would be a fraction of a fraction. These people's preferences are not well-represented by any major party, and the much more likely outcome is that they sit it out.

Much of what you're seeing, Matt McIrvin, is the frustration and resentment of left-leaning white yuppies realizing that they're not the decision-making part of the Democratic coalition -- that they're not even the second-most important component. They might not even be third.

Frustration is okay: the solution is to organize better, and that has not been Sanders' strong point. Resentment, though, usually indicates a later rightward shift, and I think your intuition is correct that some will gravitate toward white populism after it finds a more respectable face. Not this election, though. It takes time, and it will depend on the subjective perception of Clinton's performance.

Noel, I bet you know too.

I think the Sanders campaign's emphasis on fundraising goals, based on Sanders' sincere beliefs, has confounded the expectations of his most ardent supporters. Money rules elections, and they're raising more money, but somehow Clinton is still winning? The entire system must be corrupt. The Democratic Party is out to sink Sanders!

Given that Sanders joined the Democratic Party last year, this is not a completely crazy conclusion, but it lacks interpretive charity. If Sanders wanted to run under the aegis of a major party, he needed to put the effort to build coalitions within the party. Instead, he talks about revolution.

But every serious student of revolution knows that organization is key. It's not just clicking a button online connected to your checking account.

This is why Sanders' Bern rate is so high, and why he's spending so much more than Clinton per delegate. Sigh.

What concerns me is that some of the Clinton supporters are now getting irrationally mean in response, and escalating. I think they feel threatened now, to a degree that the situation doesn't actually support. Unless Clinton turns out to be one of the people caught up in the Panama Papers or something.

Speaking as a left-leaning white yuppie, a lot of the Sanders pitch actually appeals to me. I voted for Clinton in the primary because in the final analysis I could see her actually doing the job and accomplishing things to a greater degree than I could Sanders. But if my decision were based on those Political Compass type things that determine whose magical unicorn policy wishlist best matches yours, I'd be a Berniac, no question. And I have the same kinds of concerns about Clinton than I had in 2008; it's just that this time we're all out of Barack Obamas.

>Much of what you're seeing, Matt McIrvin, is the frustration and resentment of left-leaning white yuppies realizing that they're not the decision-making part of the Democratic coalition -- that they're not even the second-most important component. They might not even be third.

I wonder if we could rank order the components of the Democratic coalition. Apologies to hijack the thread.

Unions still provide significant grassroots support, play a crucial role in early fundraising in lower levels up to the House, and are pretty crucial to the establishment of the party.

Women's groups provide a crucial umbrella for organizing. It crafts a narrative that pulls together reproductive rights, childcare and early education, and equal pay/higher pay. It provides a link between the young college student, the single mother, the successful business CEO. It mobilizes voters who are less likely to turn out, and it meshes very, very well with the optimistic, government is here to help enable opportunity and open doors message of today's liberalism.

Demographically minority voters are important. African-American voters have been the deciding factor in two competitive Democratic presidential primaries in a row.

If you look at 2008/2016, the consistent winners are:

African-American voters (Obama 08, Clinton 16)
Northern Virginia (Obama 08, Clinton 16)

Consistent losers are:

Appalachia/White Working Class (Clinton 08, Sanders 16)
New Hampshire (Clinton 08, Sanders 16)

Moving Up:

Hispanics (Clinton 08, Clinton 16)
The Bost-Wash corridor outside of Nova (Clinton 08, Clinton 16)


Caucuses (Obama 08, Sanders 16)
Young Liberals (Obama 08, Sanders 16)
Pacific Northwest (Obama 08, Sanders 16)
Hawaii (Obama 08, Sanders 16)
Vermont (Obama 08, Sanders 16)

See here for Obama's 2008 primary support and his vote, estimated, with just white voters: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Ceu1RpmWQAA0wel.jpg:large

It will be interesting to watch how Clinton does in the Philadelphia suburbs, a place where Obama did well in 2008.

...And, yeah, I've seen some remarkably clueless and disturbing screeds from Bernie fans complaining that African-Americans won't listen to their persuasive whitesplanations.

(Also, a few African-American Bernie supporters complaining that nobody believes they exist.)

...And I've seen a very small number of alleged Bernie fans outright cheering for Trump to crush Hillary in the fall, but I suspect most of them are actually Republican trolls.

I think the most alarmingly hostile of the (genuine) online Berniacs are not young voters at all; they're a bunch of over-60 left-radical guys who see Sanders as a rare attempt to accomplish something through major-party electoral politics, which they usually disdain. They're generally the ones with the most misogynistic attacks, too.

Logan, I'm perfectly happy with Bossa NoVa nonwhites becoming the swing group for the Democratic nomination -- but then, I would be.

It's going to be different from chasing the last Southern white Democrats, that's for sure.

I guess the Republican equivalent this cycle will be disgruntled white men in Bakersfield.

If Republicans collapse irrevocably after this election (as is possible) I'd look to the Afrikaners for analogues for how rural/working class whites respond to being increasingly irrelevant to the policies and politics of the governing party.

I expect the tone of media coverage on the right to be significantly more hysterical than that.

If the Sanders primary fight has taught us one thing, it's that a progressive Democratic primary challenger can't win without some inroads into the minority community. He's done better among northern black voters than southern, and in some areas may have done well with Latinos. But he hasn't had a breakthrough.

Logan, I'm perfectly happy with Bossa NoVa nonwhites becoming the swing group for the Democratic nomination -- but then, I would be.

Jim Webb's statement that he could imagine voting for Trump but not Hillary Clinton (in a state where Clinton would be heavily favored in that matchup) is telling. Virginia has been changing for decades and he's decided to get on the wrong side.

...oddly, given that Webb is married to a Vietnamese-American immigrant.

@Logan: I have a mixed-race (AA/white) acquaintance on G+ who keeps saying the statements about Hillary's minority support baffles him, because he knows many black and Latino people and 100% of them are for Bernie. He knows nobody of any race who supports Hillary Clinton.

I suspect this is regional.

I suspect it's even more fine-grained than that.

Generational as well, maybe. I'm seeing that in a big way in AA reactions to Bill's messed up confrontation with BLM activists.

Resentment, though, usually indicates a later rightward shift, and I think your intuition is correct that some will gravitate toward white populism after it finds a more respectable face.
I think the Jacobin/Baffler wing of the far left is already in the process of fully adopting racially-charged right-wing narratives about Why Liberals Suck. It's been going on for a long time.

Matt that's interesting (the shifts in parts of the far left). Would you elaborate on that?

It's the whole idea that liberalism lost big in the 1980s because it got derailed by "identity politics" (racial affirmative action, sexual/religious hot-button issues, gay rights, etc.) which allowed the old trade-unionist leftism to die and destroyed any hope for a robust American social democracy.

My opinion of it is basically that there's some truth to the story but they're blaming the wrong people: it's not anti-racists who are responsible for racial politics becoming a distraction from class politics. And we're not going to go back by just giving up "identity politics", either by writing it off or declaring victory.

Retrospectively those far-leftists have a less persuasive case than moving forward. You couldn't avoid the class dividing issues of the 1990's and 2000's. Social issues dominated economic ones across the political spectrum because that's what voters on the right and left used as tribal totems to indicate a politician was on _their_ side of the cultural split.

Cultural issues are less likely to matter in future as the potential movement on them is so constrained going forward. How much are incremental movements on affirmative action or gay rights going to matter as market wages consistently decline for a vast majority of people?

Moving forward, neo-liberalism of the varieties practiced on the right and left, is likely to face opposition that bridges racial/cultural divisions. A messy process that unravels the coalitions of the current parties is probably necessary to move forward with more effective solutions than reworked Bismarckism.

See, I read it as just the opposite. Class politics are luxuries of old white guys, who don't have to face the effects of structural racism and sexism every day. Racism and sexism preceded class -- there's hardly anything not wearing a white hood more racist or sexist than an unreconstructed old leftie -- and they'll be here after income equality drops back down and wages start rising again.

I mean, there are reasons why the Sanders movement is whiter than a science fiction convention. Hell, it's almost as white as the RNC. It isn't some crazily statistically improbable coincidence.

You a Clinton backer, Carlos or do you actually think Bernie and his young supporters are nearly as racist as the KKK?

I hope that's not a common sentiment among Clinton supporters. If so it may presage another Nader 2000 sort of event in this election or the next.

Tell me at what point you feel the need to attack me:

Sanders has virtually no connection to the traditional groups of the Democratic coalition or to the Democratic Party. He's lived in a small, culturally isolated state and has pursued local ends for most of his political career.

The Sanders movement has attracted a vocal minority of non-traditional Democrats who believe their economically left sentiments, similar to those espoused by Sanders, immunize them from racist and sexist sentiments.

These people alienate many traditional Democrats for whom racism and sexism are personally important issues.

Given a choice between candidates who are broadly similar in votes, policies, etc., who will those traditional Democrats favor?

Note what I haven't said: that Sanders is a racist or a sexist, or that a majority of Sanders followers are racists or sexists -- as far as I can tell, they are no more so than any other large group of well-meaning white American, and the younger people might be less so.

But Sanders needs every vote and donation he can get. This puts his campaign at the mercy of its extreme grassroots and their unfortunate free publicity. Note that Sanders' campaign is less efficient than Clinton's in money spent per delegate, and less organized on the ground while hiring more staffers.

(Personally, I hoped that Sanders would have a movement like the decent people who protested Walker in Wisconsin.. But it soured very quickly, and the sociology of why is fascinating. His campaign originally used Reddit to organize! why not just go straight to 4chan.)

Now then. Do you want to continue with your little beef? This is Noel's blog, and you might be Noel's friend. But I am no stranger to the Internet.

you know, I just realized, I can even come up with a rough estimate of how many regrettable Sanders supporters there are. In the recent Wisconsin primary, there was a "non-partisan" election for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. One was a solid liberal, and the other, to the right of Scalia, but without his charm or legal mind.

Exit polls showed that 96% of Clinton voters in the Wisconsin primary voted for the liberal judge. The same polls showed that 85% of Sanders voters did.

96% - 85% = 11% of Sanders voters were just out there for kicks and giggles.

That's huge. The difference would almost have been enough to put the liberal justice onto the court. Depends on the error bars, actually.

Now imagine a candidate where one in nine supporters is a jackass like that, and one who isn't. Seems pretty easy.

Ah, but to maximize the number of votes in the general election, don't you want to nominate the candidate who can bring in both the serious people and the jackasses, rather than the one who just gets the former?

(Perverse incentives fascinate me.)

But I have heard Sanders supporters making essentially this argument in earnest, and from raw numbers I suppose they have a point. In the polls I've seen, more Sanders supporters say they wouldn't vote for Clinton in the general election than the reverse.

(Though both numbers are surprisingly low compared to similar questions asked in 2008, when it turned out not to be a big problem, and also low compared to similar questions asked of Republicans.)

Nationally, Sanders' level of support is now creeping up to parity with Hillary Clinton's. It's been rising in this remarkably linear fashion, for far longer than I would have thought possible, and if the linear trend continues, he'll be well ahead by July; but he'll lose anyway, since it'll be too late for it to get him any delegates (unless he can flip the superdelegates by making the argument that Hillary's national support is already collapsing and her voters obviously have regrets). I'd say it can't continue rising like that, but this campaign has surprised me in all sorts of ways already.

There's no sign of momentum in the demographics of the primary vote. It was apparently fixed quite early: those first impressions of Sanders were very important. Plug two numbers in the mix: were you ever ruled from Richmond? what percentage of your population is nonwhite? and you account for ninety percent of the variation. That's a social science home run. All the rest is spin.

I doubt New York will change that.

It would be interesting to me to see how 2008 Clinton/Obama supporters split this year. The sentiments against Sanders now seem mild compared to the racial accusations against Clinton and her husband in 2008 (for their own words and racially charged strategies). That's why I find it interesting that Clinton has gone from leaving a bad taste for many Obama supporters during the 2008 primary to being the purer candidate on racial issues in 2016. How did that happen?

Is it relative purity just because Sanders is so insufferably white and comes from Vermont? That overcomes the Clintons' behavior in 2008?

I've got no beef, I'm genuinely curious how this shift works for 2016 Clinton supporters who backed Obama in 2008.

I just saw a white socialist from Long Island say that the white liberals are going to be real surprised at the black support for Trump.

Chicago has possibly the worst establishment Democratic governance in the nation, and it had virtually no black support for Trump.

There is some angel pin dancing here, no?

First, we should be clear: absent a black swan, Bernie can't win. See http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/bernie-sanders-is-even-further-behind-in-votes-than-he-is-in-delegates/. The import of that post is that Bernie will have a weak case even in the unlikely event that he pulls ahead in the delegate count. Pulling ahead in both delegates and popular votes involves rolling two sixes, not just one.

Second, if he did win, he'd be a fine general election candidate ... but weaker than Hillary. We know how she'll be attacked, even though Trump will make it weird and personal. We don't really know how Bernie will be attacked.

Third, if (well, when) Hillary clinches it, she's going to have no trouble getting former Berniacs to vote for her. Emotions are running lower than in 2008, as Matt has admitted. Some element of Bernie's support will stay home, but I suspect that their votes were shaky regardless. The Clinton campaign wasn't banking them in its November plans. That white idiot from Long Island isn't saying anything stupider than we heard from the PUMAs eight years ago.

Finally, both candidates have been getting tetchy, Bernie more so. And I wish that Hillary would just release the transcripts of her private speeches. (I've been to one, which might not have been representative. But if it was, ohmigod they're boring.) But nothing so far has been outside the realm of ordinary primary politics.

The Clintons do a lot of retail politicking around the US, and have done for decades. They've built up a correspondingly large batch of goodwill, despite the temporary racialization of the Clinton campaign during the futile part of the 2008 primary season. Relationships, connections, friendships. Why couldn't Obama make any headway in south Texas in 2008? It's not because Democrats there didn't vote for him in the general -- they most certainly did. It's because the Clintons maintained the connection, and were willing to listen to that community.

Sanders hasn't done this, and in many ways, despite his appealing persona, he's a classic "my way or the highway" politician.

Some of it, too, is misperception on the part of observers, magnifying the random fluctuations into campaign killers that never seem to materialize. I hear white left-leaning yuppies tsk about the 1994 crime bill, thinking that it must be an automatic deal-breaker for blacks -- and don't realize that it was consultative and had significant black support (or that Sanders voted for it). Note that it wasn't a particular issue in 2008: in fact, Obama *praised* Biden's role in its passage.

To my eye, this all seems like a classic manufactured controversy, and those very rarely have an effect on the fundamentals.

It seems to me there's a significant generational split among African-Americans over the crime bill: if you vividly remember what things were actually like in the early 1990s, you tend to feel very differently about it than if you don't. Almost everyone including Bill Clinton agrees that there were bad unintended effects, but not on how understandable the measures were in the first place.

That doesn't explain its uncontroversial status in 2008. Rather, politically engaged scholarship in the interim has changed the interpretation of the crime bill, and it was taken up as a partisan shibboleth.

It's not as bad as the way so many people have become instant experts on Honduras, because the behavior of law enforcement and the criminal justice system *are* immediately important to many Americans, but it's not unrelated.

Third, if (well, when) Hillary clinches it, she's going to have no trouble getting former Berniacs to vote for her.
I'm concerned about Sanders' campaign manager, Jeff Weaver. I don't think Bernie Sanders actually wants to blow everything up, but I think he might, and he has some influence over Sanders.

Weaver has said that Sanders is going to contest the convention and try to flip the superdelegates as long as Clinton comes in with fewer than 2383 pledged delegates (a basically impossible supermajority). In other words the Sanders campaign may not know, or refuse to believe, that Hillary has clinched it, and we may see a lot of very visible protests at the Democratic convention about the nomination somehow being stolen. He can't get the nomination, but he can turn the convention into a media disaster, and lay the groundwork for conspiracy theorists afterward.

It gets worse if Sanders' national poll numbers have crept above Clinton's by then: he could make the case that Americans who already voted for Hillary have changed their minds and would prefer that their votes be nullified by the superdelegates. And certainly there are Sanders supporters who have been insisting that Hillary and Debbie Wasserman Schultz have been rigging the primaries.

Democrats have been gloating about the prospects for a chaotic contested convention in Cleveland, but if, say, Trump suddenly folds and Sanders refuses to, the Republicans could have the last laugh.

I'm not a fan of Weaver, but the conspiracy theorists are already fully active. He's a symptom, not the cause, I think. If you rely on small donations and you have a wing of, how to put this charitably, people with an excess of third party energy, they are going to want an outlet.

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