The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age

    Democratic Opportunity

    The Democrats have a great chance to win back many of the working class Midwesterners who were pivotal in last year’s election even if some Trump voters are deplorable racists who cannot be reached through rational argument. A study by professors from the University of Minnesota and Boston University concludes that Hillary Clinton’s narrow loss may be attributed to her relative hawkishness. For example, Trump came out in opposition to the Iraq War far earlier than Clinton grudgingly admitted it was a mistake. Likewise, analyses from such disparate and credible sources as Scientific American, CNN, and Fortune Magazine see Trump’s opposition to free trade as an important factor in his victory.

    The President, however, has backtracked from the positions that helped him reach the White House. Accordingly, Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and DNC Chair Tom Perez should issue a joint statement or better yet hold a press conference at which they target Trump’s flip flops. They should acknowledge that the President talked a pretty good populist game in his Presidential campaign. But, they must hasten to add, he has betrayed all working-class Americans in order to focus on dividing them along racial lines.

    The Democrats ought to point out that Trump chose to remain in NAFTA - the 1994 trade pact which the Economic Policy Institute estimates has cost our nation over 850,000 jobs and kept a lid on workers’ wages. Moreover, Schumer, Pelosi, and Perez can note, the President will be deploying new troops to Afghanistan. Heretofore, the Democratic Party will reclaim its historic role as the leader in the fight for good middle-class jobs and peace, the leaders need to insist.

    A 538 article suggests that Trump is most vulnerable when he acts contrary to his supporters’ expectations. Thus his inflammatory, but unsurprising, rhetoric blaming counter-protesters for violence instigated by white supremacists hasn’t hurt his approval ratings much. On the other hand, his strong endorsement of the Republican health care bill conflicted with his call for “universal health care" nearly two years ago and has hurt his overall standing with the electorate.

    A perhaps decisive number of working-class Trump voters in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania chose the putative billionaire over Hillary Clinton because he 1) promised to undo the trade deals that have harmed them and 2) bad-mouthed the wars that have disproportionately injured or killed them, friends, and family members. Top Democrats have the ability to appeal directly to these voters by recommitting to their party’s traditional pro-worker pro-peace values. Those of us horrified by the Trump-fanned winds of racism, sexism, and xenophobia threatening our nation can only hope that the minority party recognizes and seizes this opportunity.


    Here we go again - Trump claimed to have opposed the Iraq War before it happened, but he didn't - and can be seen on TV backing the invasion. He then tried to use it later as a "couldn't we use all that money for New York?", but that didn't keep him from boasting last year that he would have invaded Iraq and kept all their oil (or in other variants would have turned it into glass, similar to Iran).

    That Trump can lie and spin and reverse positions with impunity is hardly a metric to judge a serious candidate that in former days had to take real positions and defend them and live with them (or painfully extract from them and heavy mea culpas - as Hillary already paid for heavily in 2008, even though the observably rather hawkish Obama undoubtedly would have voted the exact same way as Hillary in Sept/Oct 2002 *IF* he had been in the US Senate.

    And Hillary made it clear in her speech that her preferred outcome was inspections, which *did* take place, which *didn't* immediately go smoothly, but which *eventually* worked out so we knew that Hussein didn't have a serious biochemical program or capability. That she should be able to assume that Bush would go to war anyway 6 months later and that the Republican majority would support him despite successful inspections  and that she should risk no inspections with the very real risk that Bush would just invade anyway begs a little more belief in magic. Here's her speech yet again in all its wonder, along with the oppositions criticisms for you to gloat over.

    I've provided a ton of evidence re: NAFTA before, including the relation to the much bigger CHina offshoring, and you've ignored it, as have you ignored that TPP was supposed to balance the unfair tilt towards China in trade rather than give away the farm. But a few months later, out pops the same pablum: Hillary's a hawk, NAFTA & TPP are responsible for all our problems.

    (BTW, did you know that while Zenith sent its TV production to Mexico, within that decade all the Japanese TV makers had gotten out of making LCD TVs in Japan, i.e. the *followup* generation. How long would Zenith have been able to compete with its US production of antiquated TV gear?)

    We've been through one fact-free election. Don't really need another as a supposed solution to our problems.

    Also, in case you didn't realize, those Mideast wars now are about tamping down terrorism, such as what killed a bunch of paople last week in Barcelona, Finland, Germany.... I'm sure that's going to win a lot of serious-on-terror-and-security votes to just abandon action against these terror cells and instead pivot to a "peace" footing. I agree we've fumbled our foreign policy and war actions many times, but it's not something a vacuum will cure, especially not with Russia using these settings to push its own interests forward.

    PP - even though we disagree strongly on these issues, I truly appreciate the time and evident effort you gave to reading this blog and responding to it.  Thank you.

    HSG ....Hmmm . . .

    I'm not sure how a link to a 2011 Weekly Standard article has too much to do with the mentioned 538 article.

    A 538 article suggests that Trump is most vulnerable when he acts contrary to his supporters’ expectations.

    But just for the hell of it here's the latest from Nate Silver I posted here a Dag.

    Nate Silver: 7 Rules Reading Trump's Approval Rating

    As I state there, there's a whole lot to digest and it's not as black or white as may be expected. There are just too many scenarios and variable there to deal with to make any solid concrete conclusions.

    From the scenarios...

    Speaking of “priced in,” Trump’s approval rating hasn’t been affected much when he does something, however controversial, that’s consistent with his previous behavior. If Trump’s equivocal stance toward white supremacists after Charlottesville was surprising to the media, it was perhaps less so to voters given that Trump had been slow to denounce groups such as the KKK as a candidate last year and that his rhetoric had often been racially tinged. In a poll conducted last August, 51 percent of voters described Trump as “racist.”

    By contrast, the Republican health care bill was inconsistent with the promises that Trump had made to voters on the campaign trail. And Trump had also repeatedly promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, which he hasn’t been able to do yet. It’s not surprising, therefore, that health care hurt his numbers more than Charlottesville. By this rule, an economic downturn could be especially harmful to Trump given that he made very aggressive promises to voters about job creation.

    That job creation line of crap was about creating 25 million jobs... And nowhere in the CCN article that Silver links to did it deal directly with NAFTA...


    OGD - thanks for catching my linking errors.  I have corrected them.  The 538 article to which you cite should have been (and now is) linked to where the Weekly Standard article was.  The Weekly Standard article is linked to "universal health care" a few lines down. 

    If your main target is the type of voter that voted for both Obama and Trump, (as I believe it is from most of your posts I have read) I doubt very much that it synchs with voters who are anti-hawk. Obama was as hawkish a Dem as any other hawk Dem. The "Hillary voted for Iraq" thing is applied personally against Hillary by such people, as a mistake in judgment. But they were happy with the "for smart wars, not dumb wars" Obama thing (i.e., Libya intervention.) This is not the making of any kind of coalition is what I am saying. Sure, Hillary probably suffered a bit for the "voted for the Iraq war" label, but I doubt that was with the little group of Obama-Trump types you are targeting. More likely just the opposite! Just as many of them or more might have supported the Iraq war and would certainly never vote for a peacenik candidate.

    Important modification to my comment! What works with the type of demographic you are talking about is the word "nation building" as a derogative. You are talking about people that are isolationist "U.S.A. #1" who want to be very strong on defending the U.S. They  are not anti-hawk at all, far from it. They are only fervently against getting involved in "nation building." You hit back hard with the best most expensive weapons and forces on the planet, you win, you leave. Nation building is liberal internationalism and they don't like nation building. They do like bombing and leaving type actions! ("kill them all")

    This was an essential tenet of being a Reagan Democrat. It was an essential tenet of the Pitchfork Pat Buchanan movement. It is an essential purported tenet of Trump, he repeated it in his recent Afghanistan speech which promised, more like vowed that we are not getting into nation building. Another Trump lie to his base, I suspect, and I also suspect he knows it. I suspect the reason he took so long to make a final decision on Afghanistan is that he realized he was being dragged into nation building and didn't like it, but the generals weren't giving him any choices that didn't involve it, so he gave up and bullshitted.

    The nation building of the neo-conservative theory is hated by this group. It hurt the Bush administration a great deal. Neo-conservatives are "neo",  neo-liberals are "neo". They don't like "neo", that's globalism, not the strong nationalism they prefer. (And this is where you get the problem with the intersection with racist types and anti-immigrant types, because along with nationalism often goes: xenophobia)

    Well, I do see the peeps over at Breitbart aren't too happy with "President McMaster's" Afghanistan policy, regarding it as a continuation of previous administrations' nation-building plan. 

    I love how all sides are trolling Trump with the impression of him as a cuck getting screwed over by other powerful men in his administration, and particularly love that this trolling technique has something like a 100% success rate with him. 

    Yeah, I've been watching Breitbart too. Last night it seems like they might be switching to Trump as victim instead of cuckold,"they" have kidnapped him for now. But you see, with things like the Arpaio pie in the RNC's face, he's fighting back, their once Manchurian candidate is fighting back like a whirling Taz, so they are watching and waiting....

    Putting aside the question of whether they should, I highly doubt the Democratic leadership is going to turn back on globalization in a serious way in order to win back some white working Trump voters.  Even if they tried, there'd be no feeling behind it and no belief that it is necessary or advisable.

    I mean, our manufacturing output and GDP growth since NAFTA make a very good argument for trade. The problem is the distribution of all that largesse, but this all goes away if you exit NAFTA.

    But the bigger problem is cultural. The party leadership is made up of well educated and, more importantly, worldly people. Now, I think we'd both agree that this can very much support a pro peace platform when it comes to global policy. But those lost Trump voters are not peaceniks in any event, so such actions would please you and me without much moving the needle on the election front.  I mean, I'm with you -- I think people with children since the W presidency should be royally angry at the abuse of their children's military service. But they just aren't that mad about it, or are not mad in large enough numbers to make it felt.

    Again, none of this is about what should happen. I'm more saying that Chuck Schumer is not going to lead the party in the pivot you desire. I doubt you find that controversial. Hal -- you need to find us the next Bernie. We need a younger, more charismatic firebrand with a squeaky past and a folksy way about him who can maybe persuade the leadership to at least get out of the way if his tidal wave seems large enough. But don't even worry about telling Chuck Schumer and company what to do.  They're set in their course.



    Thanks Mike for a thoughtful response.  A few replies:

    1) I agree that the likelihood that the Democrats will take my advice is very small, if not miniscule.  But, I do see glimmers of real understanding in Chuck Schumer.  He did back the more progressive Keith Ellison for DNC Chair and has on several occasions called for Democrats to look inward rather than blame voters for 2016.

    2) I absolutely agree that we need a "younger, more charismatic firebrand with a squeaky past and a folksy way."  In fact, I wrote something very similar back in January here.

    3) While it seemed somewhat counterintuitive to me, as it apparently does to you, that Trump voters might have been more dovish, this is the precise thesis that Kriner and Shen argue persuasively in Battlefield Casualties and Ballot Box Defeat: Did the Bush-Obama Wars Cost Clinton the White House?

    4) We agree that "free trade" has increased greatly inequality.  But I am skeptical of claims that the dynamics of lower barriers to cheap imports have had a positive effect on our GDP.  What seems more likely is that the trade deals have not only caused wealth to gush upwards but have also led to less total wealth to be shared by our nation's denizens.  The chart shows real U.S. income per capita.


    Trust me, don't let Schumer break your heart.

    On the economic front, I guess you can't eat GDP and manufacturing output.  Stagnant wages are a big part of this, David Kelly, chief economist for JPMorgan Funds, just sent this out as part of his weekly note:

    "Inflation is still low and, despite a tight labor market, wage growth is not accelerating.  In the America of 2017, the normal balance of bargaining power between employer and employee is so tilted in favor of the former that only a very sharp acceleration in activity seems capable of lifting wage growth."

    I've noted this over and over, but maybe this one will get through. [see new post I just put up instead]

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