He’s negotiating on the wall for some reason:

The Democrats’ record-breaking victory and the public’s clear exhaustion with Donald Trump should prompt a full re-evaluation of this political moment. Instead, when faced with Trump’s demand for $5 billion in funding for his border wall with Mexico, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer?offered?the $1.6 billion that Democrats had previously agreed on. This may not constitute support for “the wall” itself, but it does miss how the landscape has changed. The president’s immigration policies are unpopular. Schumer had political space to make a lower bid, or no bid at all. But he doesn’t seem to grasp the extent of his party’s political advantage or understand the value of opposition. He seems stuck in a past where voters rewarded compromise and bipartisanship, unable to see how this doesn’t apply to the Democrats’ relationship with Donald Trump.

In the news media, likewise, there’s still a preoccupation with Trump’s most dedicated supporters, as if they constitute a barometer for public opinion or say anything meaningful about the larger state of American politics. More illuminating—and more interesting, for that matter—would be an examination of the groups who drove the midterm results: black women, young people, and suburban white women. Those Americans and their communities are still under-covered, even as they shape and change the direction of national politics. That under-coverage is likely the result of many complicated factors, but it’s certainly tied to our continued faulty impression of the president’s standing.

Read the whole thing. The most incomprehensible thing about it is that Schumer doesn’t have the dodge of having to protect Donnelly, Heitkamp, McCaskill, et al. for the re-election bids they just lost. Pretty much the only red state Dems left are Manchin and Tester, who aren’t up for six fucking years, and Doug Jones, who is almost certainly doomed in 2020 anyway. And even if political circumstance forced them to support the wall…it could still be filibustered? Unless Schumer’s established streak of crypto-rightwingery on this issue wasn’t so crypto…

Reminds me of my vast reading of Russian history. People imagine the Tsars as strong, forceful rulers but most were not. The Russian elites themselves had more power when the Tsar was a nonentity. Not sure why I’m thinking of this now…

Share
Lev filed this under:  

Unfortunately, it’s the?Guardian reviewer of a new shitty Clapton hagiography, not the author of the book itself. We can’t have a book that looks at Boomer icons with a clear eye I suppose, at least not yet. Not that there aren’t excuses you could make for The Outburst, but I’ve never bought “he was drunk” as a plausible one. If anything, ranting a bunch of racist shit while drunk likely means that you truly do believe it, it’s just buried deep inside and only comes out when your inhibitions are lowered. Perhaps even deeper than the man himself was conscious of. “He was on LSD” would be more plausible, but if he was, it has never been argued to my knowledge.

That said, you can be a truly detestable person and still create great art, but Clapton is somebody I find extraordinarily tedious. I like “Layla” and a couple of Yardbirds songs, but other than that, nothing he does much interests me, and without exception I prefer the people of color whose music he ripped off (and watered down for white audiences). Clapton’s technical skills distracted from the fact that he’s basically just Pat Boone, an inferior expropriator of other peoples’ music. Obviously there’s his lame “I Shot The Sheriff” cover, but I honestly think his version of Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads Blues” is the bigger offense against music, taking a freaky, dread-inducing song and turning it into a bar blues stomp. And furthermore, I simply believe that interesting art is made by interesting people and Clapton is just a boring person. I’ve already written about my hatred for “Wonderful Tonight” as a song, but it also exemplifies why Clapton is such a bore to me: the song should have been laced with sharp, self-lacerating irony of the Merle Haggard variety. So many great Haggard songs similar to “Wonderful Tonight” have to do with him sending himself up for being a useless drunk who can’t get his act together. Clapton, though, just exudes smugness and self-satisfaction at every turn. He seems to think what he’s telling you is pretty cool, even though it’s actually profoundly sad, just like a high school burnout who’s 45 but still sees himself as an awesome 18 year old. It’s that lack of irony and much greater lack of self-awareness that makes him hard to take, the difference between Mick Jagger in 1972 and Mick Jagger in 1992. Clapton, however is a horrifying answer to the question of: what if Mick Jagger had always been like this?

Share
Lev filed this under: ,  

I liked this article but I think there might be a few “confounds” in there, as they say. There have been more than a few other things going on in that part of the world beside just neoliberal economics that caused the turn to the right–both Poland and Hungary have been particularly bad for nativism/racism over the past decade or so, among the worst in Europe in fact. This could be the international “economic anxiety” argument we weren’t waiting for. That said, there’s no way that neoliberalism and austerity aren’t a significant part of the puzzle. Also trade. Certainly in this country it hurt a major liberal constituency.

Around 2010, if you’d told me that Bill Clinton was a world-historic figure and that Barack Obama was going to be a centrist placeholder who would change little about the world’s course, I would have given you an odd look and said that you have it the wrong way around. And yet, it’s kind of inarguable. Clinton’s success in getting elected, adopting a pro-business agenda (particularly NAFTA) and then getting re-elected based on a soaring economy clearly inspired mainstream left parties all over the West to follow his lead. Success breeds success, and they were in much the same boat as the Democrats at the time. Ironically, the great recession caused by Clinton’s own financial deregulation (and, more significantly, the austerity that most governments chose to/were forced to implement) has wiped out just about all of them. In some very real sense, Macron in France is just about the last redoubt of this regrettable turn, though one wonders for how long. This is why so many elites fret about Macron by the way. Macron was in some ways the escape pod for the Hollande Socialism and it’s hard to see why that needed to be saved. It was not all that popular!

Perhaps the collapse of Theresa May’s Brexit government will lead to a genuinely leftist Labour government, and lead the rest of the West along with it. The irony of that would be overwhelming.

Share
Lev filed this under: , ,  

After the 2006 election, white center-right Democratic men didn’t stage a fit and try to depose the Democratic caucus’s leader. They didn’t have to. They had the balance of power thanks to dozens of Blue Dogs. They could pretty much set the terms for what passed. Their position was especially strong because going along with the party leadership only hurt them in their districts, so Pelosi/Hoyer/Clyburn didn’t hold all that much leverage over them. That’s why we got the abomination known as the Stupak Amendment and much else.

The comparison with now is no comparison. Pelosi is treating the successors to the true Blue Dogs like drunk dipshits who take their kid hostage when the court ruling doesn’t go their way, ignoring them and giving them nothing, waiting for them to sober up and give up the ghost. Moulton et al. have idiotically put themselves into a classic prisoner’s dilemma, in which Pelosi can ply each and every one with prizes and get just enough to flip to get her back in the speaker’s chair. Those few will get prizes, everybody else will get shit. Heckuva job, Moulty. Real officer material. Meanwhile, progressives have been notching real power for the next Congress. They have not been loud and obnoxious because they haven’t had any need to. Actual power never does. The conservatives don’t have the numbers and only a handful are irreplaceable in their districts.

Admittedly, little major legislation will be passed in the next Congress, but the committee assignments and subcommittee chairs will reverberate over time. Progressives are getting everything they can there. And the Moulton crew’s actions is only likely to hasten the end of their once-dominant influence within the party, which can’t come soon enough.

Share
Lev filed this under: ,  

Ragging on Hillary Clinton started feeling old over a year ago, but if you’re of a mind, here’s your not at all impulsive champion of human rights advocating for a crypto-rightwing immigration policy. I sometimes get the sense she’s always just trolling Bernie-philes to give her noxious online harpies something to do.

Share
{ 1 comment }
Lev filed this under:  

Pretty sure Tony Evers is going to get chewed up and spit out by the Wisconsin GOP. It’s hard to imagine somebody being this naive about the prospects for bipartisanship at this point in time but apparently he truly is that way.

Share
Lev filed this under:  

It’s almost crazy how boring he is. He literally reads the same couple of books over and over again. The article notes that all are by white guys (natch) but honestly, someone who keeps reading the same few books by anyone is somebody who has zero curiosity about anything unfamiliar or unusual. Which is the same thing as being boring really. I do wonder why our media has become so fascinated by such profoundly boring Republicans as of the past decade or so, starting with dreamy Paul Ryan. I suppose they equate dullness with not being a revanchist monster at this point. Best guess anyhow.

I do so look forward to his losing his seat to a garden-variety Trumpian come the next election. There will be no practical consequences of this but we will be spared stories about his furrowed brow, which will be less annoying.

Share
{ 1 comment }
Lev filed this under:  

I have to admit, I do like being wrong. One of the things I was recently wrong about was a fellow by the name of Seth Moulton. Moulton came on my radar in a very negative sense when he successfully mounted a primary challenge to a sitting member of Congress from the right, and then proceeded to blather endlessly about the bipartisan banalities so beloved of Third Way grifters and big-money Democratic donors. Immediately he started talking about running for president. I admit I was nervous about the guy. There’s almost certainly still enough of those sorts of people left in the party–you know, David Brooks fans–to get around 30% and win a presidential nomination in a divided field, and even if he didn’t win, he would be an obvious veep pick for, say, a Cory Booker. Perhaps Kirsten Gillbrand also, though I rather doubt she’d be that stupid. She’d have to have her food taste-tested. At any rate, Moulton seemed destined to be a new generational forerunner for zombified Third Way centrism, and I worried he would be formidable.

I was wrong.

Instead, Moulton chose to become a mutineer in a fairly surprising twist. I think this is the best analogy I can think of. Simply voting against Pelosi would not qualify as mutiny. This does. I can get why most of his associates would do this: a lot are frankly has-beens like Stephen Lynch or Jim Cooper, guys who failed to advance to higher office but who have managed to survive in the House in spite of being to the right of their districts. Some are never-wases, like Tim Ryan, who a decade ago was a rising star but never pulled the trigger. A few seem to be trying to simply get their names out there, and others are conservaDems who are never going to get any further than where they are, though there are a few head-scratchers in there too (Linda Sanchez?), most likely people who are going to drop out of this thing when they get something or other. But Moulton’s involvement shows his impulsiveness, aggressiveness, and stupidity all at the same time: it’s a dumb move and all these people are dumb people. The costs of failure are incredibly high, and the timing is poor: Democrats do not want to be fighting internal battles right now, and this is an almost perfect way to spur backlash and bring about primary challenges which a lot of these guys could easily lose (compare this with the professionalism and savvy use of leverage of House progressives). They just have no substantive complaint to make. And while this is clearly modeled after the coup against John Boehner a few years back, the dynamics are so obviously different in this case so as to make the comparison moot. House right-wingers had real complaints against Boehner’s administration over the House, particularly the ways in which he centralized power and marginalized committee chairmen and thus kept things relatively centrist. This crew has nothing like that, just bromides about how fresh blood is needed. The optics are terrible and the exposure is tremendous. Do they really not know what happens to failed mutineers?

For the record, I still think Democrats could use some new blood in the leadership ranks, though not like this. But Moulton is never going to be president now. I guess that’s something.

Share