Loving Trump in the Time of Coronavirus

love

David Atkins, Trump’s Coronavirus Comments Endanger Millions of Americans: The president calling the outbreak a “hoax” sets an alarming new low.

Atkins minces no words. Among other things, he points out that Trump and Fox are encouraging their elderly audience to take no steps to protect themselves. The most likely result is that some non-trivial number of them will die before they get to vote in November.

But let us take a step back.

Harsh as he his, Atkins may understate the problem. It’s not just words. It’s also deeds.

On the one hand, I hear some experts saying that pretty much all of us are going to get the virus. And for every fifty who do get it, 49 will survive while the one who is most medically vulnerable will die before his or her time.

If that is so, and we are morally certain it is so, then the logical course of action would be just go about our business, keep on making widgets in our factories, keep the supply line to China open, and keep on watching concerts and sports events in mass crowds.

On the other hand, I turn on the teevee and what do I see? I will tell you what I see. I see very large numbers of people in South Korea dressed in space suits, spreading Clorox in all directions. I see Italian cities and towns in lockdown. I see news that Japan is shutting down all its schools for a time. I hear of authorities all over Europe contemplating similar measures.

So, that means that Orange Man has a choice, n’est-ce pas?

When experts start wanting people in space suits to start spraying Clorox in all directions, Orange Man can tell them no. When the experts tell us to shut down the schools—and, BTW, stop attending the mass Nuremberg rallies—Orange Man can fire their butts, if they work for the federal government. And the schools in the red states will stay open and the Nuremberg rallies will keep on a-happening.

And we will see what transpires.

If All You Have is a Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail

hammar

AND IF YOUR POLITICAL SKILL SET INCLUDES ONLY LYING AND DISTRACTING, EVERYTHING LOOKS LIKE ANOTHER OCCASION TO LIE AND DISTRACT

This morning, Dana Milbank painfully elucidates the obvious: For Trump, a reckoning has come.

There is a limit to giving demeaning nicknames to your adversaries and making them go away. The coronavirus does not care about Trump’s nicknames. Trump can overturn political norms, and he can disregard the laws of Congress, but he cannot repeal the laws of science.

Here at Happy Acres, there is a table you pass by on the way to the dining room. On the table, there is information about who died last night.

I assume that, come a month or two or three, a lot more pictures will be showing up on that table each morning.

So this is personal. I take no pleasure in the particular reconing to which Trump has come. I grieve for the fact that all he has is a hammer.

 

On Predatory Unregulated Capitalism, and Other Thoughts from a Happy Acres Guest Op-Ed Writer

predatory

Introduction, By Arius Aardvark

The progressives of Happy Acres met a couple of days ago. About 35 showed up—representing a respectable percentage of the population here. When our leader asked who we were supporting, most showed the same hesitation that others show throughout the country. A few thought Bloomberg is the most electable. Buttigieg had one strong supporter. Bernie has his supporters, but others loudly proclaimed that he can’t be elected.

I had a followup email exchange with one of the group, Bramwell. I thought it was worth sharing, and she kindly gave permission to do so.

Bramwell Speaks

I voted for Bernie in the last Democratic primary and may do it again.  i am disgusted about all the Democratic handwringing and fretting about the “socialist” thing. I wish the party would start figuring out how to support Bernie or any other Democrat who comes out ahead in the primaries and prepare to do it with gusto and conviction.

 We should be talking about one of our greatest Presidents, FDR, who was at least as socialistic as Bernie and lead the recovery from Hoover’s Great Depression and was a major factor in saving the world from Hitler. We will be in a hell of a mess if we continue to leave America to unregulated predatory capitalists, and I think we should say those words five times to every time the Republicans say “socialist.”

 Somebody said that “America was born in sin and that sin was slavery.”  I believe that Trump is President partly because he gave the racist 30% permission to be racist and talk about reverse discrimination and deny the necessity of dealing with the long-term legacy of slavery. Why else would so many well-brought ladies here ignore his immoral and criminal behavior and join his cult?

Going Soft on Sanders

Bernie Can't Win

Seemingly concerned that I am going soft on Sanders, and perhaps soft in the head as well, a friend has shared an op-ed in the Financial Times: Janan Ganesh, Democrats are targeting the riches of the 1 percent. (Sorry, I don’t have a link.)

The burden of Mr. Ganesh’s argument is that—contrary to what you may think you are hearing—Bernie does not in fact want to drive America toward the type of political economy prevalent in Denmark and other European democratic socialist countries. That’s because Bernie says he plans only to tax the very, very rich, all the while giving a pass to those who are just very affluent, those who live in “the handsome suburbs around Tampa.” In Europe, he allows, they finance their social safety net by placing heavy taxes on the upper middle class as well as the very rich. But Bernie’s “appeal is less to Nordic universalism and solidarity than to the noblesse oblige of a remote overclass who will not miss the money.”

Ganesh seems to think—though he doesn’t fully develop his argument—that Bernie’s plans to finance his socialist paradise are unethical and dishonest, that affluent folks will see through them, and that they will be driven into the arms of Trump. He concludes, “And so even the most leftwing bunch in decades proposes a social democracy that is not very social, nor all that democratic, and as European as the Eiffel Tower that disfigures the Vegas Strip.”

I shall not dispute the accuracy or the cleverness of Mr. Ganesh’s observations. The point I have been making recently is quite different: it is that, whatever downsides you see in Bernie Sanders—and let us stipulate, for the sake of the discussion, that these faults and downsides are as numerous as the sands of the sea—Bernie appears to be the one viable candidate who has grasped what may be the one most important thing to a vast part of our population: that vast and growing inequality is making their lives a misery.

Bernie sees the elephant in the room. Bernie is willing to talk about the elephant in the room, not just the color of the wallpaper or the design of the chairs.

Robert Reich makes more or less the same point in a recent op-ed:

Robert Reich, Calm down, establishment Democrats. Bernie Sanders might be the safest choice: “Moderate” candidates won’t be electable if they can’t speak to middle- and working-class frustrations.

My estimation of Mr. Reich’s wisdom and perspicacity has greatly increased, due to the fact that he and I seem to think along the same lines.

And, BTW, if you still think that “Bernie can’t win,” you may wish to check out

Steve Phillips, Bernie Sanders Can Beat Trump. Here’s the Math: Most available evidence points in the direction of a popular vote and Electoral College victory.

Starting to Spread

All Government Messaging on Coronavirus Must be Approved by Pence. Dow Drops Another 1191 Points. Have a Nice Day.

New York Times, Pence Will Control All Coronavirus Messaging From Health Officials: Government health officials and scientists will have to coordinate statements with the vice president’s office, one of three people designated as the administration’s primary coronavirus

Unfortunately, you can’t bully the coronavirus, and you can’t lie it away. This will not Trump from trying, but he won’t be able to do it.

And those planning to vote for Trump “because the stock market is up” will get exactly and precisely what they so richly merit.

Today’s Dow drop was the worst in financial history.

But, ladies and gentlemen, just how loooooow can it goooooooow?

 

Devine, Condign Punishment

10 plagues

Jennifer Rubin, Trump has no clue what to do in a disaster

Washington Post, Rush Limbaugh on coronavirus: ‘The common cold’ that’s being ‘weaponized’ against Trump

Actually, Rushbo, has it occurred to you that God is sending the coronavirus plague to remind us what happens when we elect an incompetent, lying narcissist?

God is prone to doing this sort of thing from time to time.

Sanders Can’t Win, Sanders Can Win

Sanders Can’t Win

William Saletan, The Great Socialism Gap: Socialism doesn’t freak out Democratic voters the way it freaks out other Americans. That’s a problem.

Indeed.

Saletan writes,

 In a Gallup poll taken last month, Democrats didn’t differ much from independents in their stated willingness to vote for a black, female, gay, or atheist presidential nominee. For a Muslim nominee, the gap was more then 30 net percentage points. For a socialist, it was more than 60 points. Three-quarters of Democrats were willing to vote for a socialist. Most independents—and, consequently, most of the Gallup respondents—weren’t.

Why are Americans more likely to refuse (or, at least, to tell pollsters that they refuse) to vote for a socialist than for a woman or a Muslim? Probably because socialism isn’t an innate characteristic or a matter of personal faith. It’s a doctrine about how government should intervene in the lives of other people. That makes it a legitimate reason to vote against a candidate and therefore—unlike race, sex, or religion—a legitimate factor when you’re considering whether to nominate a candidate other voters won’t support. …

Democrats, perhaps because they differ from the rest of the electorate in their feelings about socialism, are bad at estimating how socialism would play in a general election. Two weeks ago, in the Yahoo News poll, a 49 percent plurality of Democrats said most, nearly all, or about half of Americans would consider voting for a presidential candidate who called himself a democratic socialist. The guess was incorrect. According to the same poll, only 35 percent of voters said they’d consider voting for such a candidate. Democrats got it wrong.

Sanders Can Win

Greg Sargent, Can Bernie Sanders really beat Trump? His pollster makes the case.

Lots of good points on the pro-Bernie side, too. But Greg Sargent and Bernie’s pollster do not address the socialism branding issues raised in the Salatan piece.

Many People Say …

Many people say that if it’s a Trump referendum, then Trump loses. But if it’s a Trump-Sanders fight, then it’s no longer a Trump referendum, it’s a choice/contrast election. Sanders’s pollster says no, it’s still a Trump referendum. You can decide for yourself whether that’s right or not.

Tuesday’s Two-Handed Conclusion

On the one hand, the safer choice this afternoon seems to be go with a Not Trump generic Democrat, and preserve the Trump referendum.

On the other hand, the hand wringers need to get a grip. Remember, for example, that recent polling in Michigan, about the swingiest of the swing states.

Pollyanna is Feeling Fatigué This Afternoon

tired or bored little girl sitting on a bench, black and white i

So she suggested that all you hand wringers, garment renders, and bed wetters check out Paul Waldman, Democrats, stop freaking out about Bernie Sanders.

She also reminded us to keep on playing the Glad Game by being glad that Bernie Sanders actually knows what is probably the One Big Thing.

All the Pundits Agree: Here’s a Howdy Doo

This morning, the punditry here in the Disunited States of America well and truly has its underwear in a bunch over the state of the Democratic primary.

Though I am not a member of the Megan McArdle fan club, I think she just about nails it this morning: The Berniemobile is filling up with Realist-Idealists, Revolutionaries and Bandwagoners.

Meanwhile, Bill Kristol—and I am most assuredly not among his fans—writes An Open Letter to the Democrats Defending Their Party Against Bernie Sanders. Kristol offers pretty much the same advice I would offer. But inasmuch as Kristol is always wrong, I must be wrong this time, too. It follows as the night, the day.

But, all seriousness aside, here’s my own summing up.

On stage Tuesday we will see one hedgehog, who knows one big thing, and six foxes (like a bad penny, Steyer is turning up again) who know many little things.

What the Hedgehog Knows

Bernie, of course, is the hedgehog, and the one big thing he knows is the working class, a lot of the middle class, and a fair number of the professional class are in a world of hurt: the social safety net is frazzled, the return on capital is soaring, the return on labor is sinking, and the gig economy is driving them bonkers.

What the Foxes Know

As to the six foxes, a lot of the little things they “know” are either untrue or highly questionable or somewhat questionable or more or less beside the point. Here are examples.

Example of an Untrue Thing: Biden seems to “know” that he will be able to “work across the aisle” with Republican senators and congressmen.

Example of a Highly Questionable Thing: After the results in Nevada—and in particular the results among union members with good medical plans—and after the recent polling in Michigan, I submit we don’t at all “know” that Sanders will be “unelectable” because union members will fear loss of their medical plans. It’s possible, but, on the evidence, highly questionable.

Example of a Somewhat Questionable Thing: That the world “socialism” will scare so many voters out of their boards that they will, zombie like, pull the lever for Trump.

Example of a More or Less Beside the Point Thing: Biden thinks that he has come up with a neat-o keen rhetorical device by asserting that “Sanders and Bloomberg are not even Democrats.” That’s right, given a perfectly reasonable construction of the word “Democrat” with a capital “D.” But in his blindness, Biden fails to grasp that not being a traditional Democratic politician is probably a big plus in the minds of folks who are in are in a world of hurt: the social safety net is frazzled, the return on capital is soaring, the return on labor is sinking, and the gig economy is driving them bonkers.

And Finally, Two Examples of True and Important Things the Foxes Know: They know that Bernie can’t get his programs through Congress, and they know that Bernie has no detailed plan to pay for his programs.

But Here’s the One Big Thing the Foxes Don’t Appear to Know

They appear not to know that a great many of their constituents are in are in a world of hurt: the social safety net is frazzled, the return on capital is soaring, the return on labor is sinking, and the gig economy is driving them bonkers.

The Fox Knows Many Things, but the Hedgehog Knows One Big Thing

fox and hedgehog

So said Archilochus, Erasmus, and Isaiah Berlin, and so say I. So let us try to look together this morning at the facts on the ground—and to look from a vantage of thirty thousand feet in the air. And let us ask: What are the really big things we know?

Based on the 2016 election, and based on the results so far this year, I submit that we know, to a moral certainty, that today’s zeitgeist does not favor conventional politicians with well-honed, traditional, focus-grouped proposals. We are, collectively and as a matter of generality, looking for something completely different.

And why, pray tell, are so many voters looking for something completely different, at this particular point in history?

Children, let us form an hypothesis.

So, as the song suggests, let us begin with some observations. Here’s one, for starters. According to Forbes, Income Inequality In America Continues Its Inexorable Rise:

Income inequality is an increasing problem in the United States and has been for several decades now. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), back in the mid-1970s, income inequality reached its lowest point after incomes grew rapidly over the years from the late 1940s to the 1970s. Also, incomes increased at about the same rate for different households all along the income ladder. Then, beginning in the 1970s, economic growth slowed, as dramatically demonstrated by the 16-month recession from 1973-1975, the longest recession at the time since the Great Depression. Ever since then, income inequality has been on an inexorable rise.

Unfortunately, the trend is continuing and doing so at a steady pace year over year.

And here’s another observation: great inequality leads to anger and other powerful psychological effects. (See, for example, Elizabeth Kolbert, The Psychology of Inequality.)

If observations one and two are correct—and they are correct—it follows that generalized anger at the increasingly unequal status quo is on the rise. Bigly.

Maybe that right there is the reason that so many of us are so pissed off, so much of the time.

Who would have thought it?

Trump mobilized the anger of the unlettered portion of his peeps, channeling it into racism, xenophobia, and misogyny. But the unlettered portion of Trump’s peeps have been racists, xenophobes, and misogynists for decades, indeed for centuries and millennia. What happened in 2016 to make them deep six all their empty-suited, well-groomed traditional politicians? Might it just be that rising inequality pushed them over the line?

If Sanders is the nominee this year, he will lie about many things, but his message about rising inequality will be the truth. And he will spread that truth with great vigor.

In all this, there is bad news and there is good news. The bad news is that he will drive a great many of the affluent into the arms of Donald Trump. But the bad news qualified by the fact that many of the affluent were going to vote for Trump anyway.

The good news is that Sanders will be telling the truth about the thing that really matters. Trump will be lying.

And the other good news is that, where the lying side and the truthful side present their cases with equal skill and vigor, the truthful side wins.

That is the one big thing I would invite you to consider this morning.

The Case for Trying to Stop Sanders

irrestible

As articulated by Mayor Pete:

Senator Sanders believes in an inflexible, ideological revolution that leaves out most Democrats, not to mention most Americans.

I believe we can defeat Trump and deliver for the American people by empowering the American people to make their own health care choices.

Senator Sanders believes in taking away that choice — kicking people off their private plans and replacing it with a public plan, whether they want it or not.

I believe that we can bring an end to corporate recklessness and bring balance to our economy by empowering workers, raising wages, and insisting that those who gain the most must contribute the most.

Senator Sanders sees capitalism as the root of all evil. He’d go beyond reform and reorder the economy in ways most Democrats — let alone most Americans — don’t support.

I believe we need to defeat Trump and turn the page on this era in our politics by establishing a tone of belonging, bringing an end to the viciousness and the bullying that is tearing apart the country.

Senator Sanders’ revolution has the tenor of combat, division and polarization, a vision where whoever wins the day, nothing will change the toxic tone of our politics.

I believe the only way to truly deliver any of the progressive changes we care about is to be a nominee who actually gives a damn about the effect you are having, from the top of the ticket, on those crucial, front-line House and Senate Democrats running to win, who we need to win, to make sure our agenda is more than just words on a page.

Senator Sanders, on the other hand, is ignoring, dismissing, or even attacking the very Democrats we absolutely must send to Capitol Hill in order to keep Nancy Pelosi as speaker, in order to support judges who respect privacy and democracy, and in order to send Mitch McConnell into retirement. Let’s listen to what those voices are telling us!

That is the choice before us. We can prioritize either ideological purity or inclusive victory. We can either call people names online or we can call them into our movement. We can either tighten a narrow and hardcore base or open the tent to a new, broad, bighearted American coalition.

Vox Populi Nevadae

 

99 peercent

Politico, Sanders eviscerates the conventional wisdom about why he can’t win: In Nevada, he exposed his main rivals as weak, divided, and grasping at increasingly tenuous arguments about their viability:

Nevada exposed his four main rivals as weak, divided, and grasping at increasingly tenuous arguments about how they can still win. …

The race is Sanders’ to lose. He’s the best funded non-billionaire candidate. He has the best organization. He is winning the broadest coalition.