Archive for the ‘Krugman’ Category

Blow and Krugman

December 5, 2016

In “Trump’s Agents of Idiocracy” Mr. Blow says resistance to Trump’s actions isn’t rooted in sour grapes; it’s about protecting the country.  Prof. Krugman, in “The Art of the Scam,” says we should prepare for government by bait and switch.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

Last week when Donald Trump began his so-called Thank You Tour in Cincinnati, he had yet another opportunity to be magnanimous and conciliatory, to step beyond the division and acrimony of his campaign and into the unity and healing necessary to be president of a strained nation.

As is his wont, he declined, instead gloating and boasting, playing to the minority of American voters who chose him, relishing his own impenitence.

He is choosing to push America further apart rather than bring it closer together.

And be clear: It is not the job of the defiant to conform to a future president who makes them completely uncomfortable. The burden of unity lies with Trump, not his detractors.

“Just wait and see.” “Give him a chance.” But what if what you’ve already seen is so beyond the pale that it’s irrevocable? What if Trump has already squandered more chances than most of us will ever have?

What if Trump has shown himself beyond doubt and with absolute certainty to be a demagogue and bigot and xenophobe and has given space and voice to concordant voices in the country and in his emerging Legion of Doom cabinet? In that reality, resistance isn’t about mindless obstruction by people blinded by the pain of ideological defeat or people gorging on sour grapes. To the contrary, resistance then is an act of radical, even revolutionary, patriotism. Resistance isn’t about damaging the country, but protecting it.

There is no Electoral College clause that blunts ferocious opposition to the demeaning of women and racial, ethnic and religious minorities in this country; there is no Election Day reset on the coddling of white supremacy.

Furthermore, the emergence of Donald Trump as a political figure has threatened to kill many of the ideals that we hold dear: decency and decorum, inclusion and empathy, truth and facts themselves.

Trump and his agents of idiocracy are now engaged in an all-out crusade to exaggerate the scope of his victory, rewrite racial history, justify their vendettas and hostilities and erase the very distinction between true and false.

At a fiery exchange during a panel at Harvard, Hillary Clinton’s communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, rightly accused the Trump campaign of emboldening “white supremacists and white nationalists.”

The Trump campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, barked back: “Do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacists had a platform? You’re going to look me in the face and tell me that?”

“It did. Kellyanne, it did,” said Palmieri. Yes Kellyanne, that is exactly what you did and no amount of personal outrage about being called out on it is going to rewrite that history. Furthermore, everyone who sees you should say that to your face at every opportunity.

Resistance is not about some sort of clairvoyant condemnation of acts yet uncommitted, but rather about the resilience of memory, the rigidity of morality and the depth of wounds.

The truest measure of a leader is as much about how he or she attains power as how he or she wields it; while the latter is yet to be determined, the former has been revealed in devastating clarity.

A Pew Research Poll released last month found that “voters’ ‘grades’ for the way Trump conducted himself during the campaign are the lowest for any victorious candidate in 28 years.” The report continued: “For the first time in Pew Research Center postelection surveys, voters give the losing candidate higher grades than the winner.”

Furthermore, as Nate Silver responded to one of Conway’s tweets, “Trump will soon become the first president who failed to win a majority of the vote either in the general election or in his primary,” meaning the Republican primaries. He added: “That is to say, since 1972. Primaries weren’t widespread before that. 45/46% of the vote can go a long way under the right circumstances.”

And there are disturbing signs about how a Trump administration will conduct itself, from the early diplomatic blunders that signal a worrisome break in the continuity of protocol, to his team nursing vendettas and continuing to dangle the threat of jail in front of his opponents. Last week Conway appeared to waffle on whether Trump or a federal agency during his term might still pursue prosecution of Clinton; the Trump lackey Corey Lewandowski forthrightly said of the executive editor of The New York Times: “He should be in jail.”

And to add insult to injury, Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes uttered this jaw-dropping line last week on The Diane Rehm Show:

“One thing that has been interesting this entire campaign season to watch is that people that say facts are facts; they’re not really facts. Everybody has a way, it’s kind of like looking at ratings or looking at a glass of half-full water. Everybody has a way of interpreting them to be the truth or not true.” She continued: “There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore of facts.” Folks, Dimwit-ism is a disease easily spread and denigrators of the absolutism of truth are its vectors.

This is why resistance isn’t only principled, but essential and even existential.

We are not in an ordinary postelection period of national unity and rapprochement. We are facing the potential abrogation of fundamental American ideals. We stand at the precipice, staring into an abyss that grows darker by the day.

Krugman, solo

December 2, 2016

In “Seduced and Betrayed by Donald Trump” Prof. Krugman says the white working class is due for a rude awakening when the safety net is shredded.  Here he is:

Donald Trump won the Electoral College (though not the popular vote) on the strength of overwhelming support from working-class whites, who feel left behind by a changing economy and society. And they’re about to get their reward — the same reward that, throughout Mr. Trump’s career, has come to everyone who trusted his good intentions. Think Trump University.

Yes, the white working class is about to be betrayed.

The evidence of that coming betrayal is obvious in the choice of an array of pro-corporate, anti-labor figures for key positions. In particular, the most important story of the week — seriously, people, stop focusing on Trump Twitter — was the selection of Tom Price, an ardent opponent of Obamacare and advocate of Medicare privatization, as secretary of health and human services. This choice probably means that the Affordable Care Act is doomed — and Mr. Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters will be among the biggest losers.

The first thing you need to understand here is that Republican talk of “repeal and replace” has always been a fraud. The G.O.P. has spent six years claiming that it will come up with a replacement for Obamacare any day now; the reason it hasn’t delivered is that it can’t.

Obamacare looks the way it does because it has to: You can’t cover Americans with pre-existing conditions without requiring healthy people to sign up, and you can’t do that without subsidies to make insurance affordable.

Any replacement will either look a lot like Obamacare, or take insurance away from millions who desperately need it.

What the choice of Mr. Price suggests is that the Trump administration is, in fact, ready to see millions lose insurance. And many of those losers will be Trump supporters.

You can see why by looking at Census data from 2013 to 2015, which show the impact of the full implementation of Obamacare. Over that period, the number of uninsured Americans dropped by 13 million; whites without a college degree, who voted Trump by around two to one, accounted for about eight million of that decline. So we’re probably looking at more than five million Trump supporters, many of whom have chronic health problems and recently got health insurance for the first time, who just voted to make their lives nastier, more brutish, and shorter.

Why did they do it? They may not have realized that their coverage was at stake — over the course of the campaign, the news media barely covered policy at all. Or they may have believed Mr. Trump’s assurances that he would replace Obamacare with something great.

Either way, they’re about to receive a rude awakening, which will get even worse once Republicans push ahead with their plans to end Medicare as we know it, which seem to be on even though the president-elect had promised specifically that he would do no such thing.

And just in case you’re wondering, no, Mr. Trump can’t bring back the manufacturing jobs that have been lost over the past few decades. Those jobs were lost mainly to technological change, not imports, and they aren’t coming back.

There will be nothing to offset the harm workers suffer when Republicans rip up the safety net.

Will there be a political backlash, a surge of buyer’s remorse? Maybe. Certainly Democrats will be well advised to hammer Mr. Trump’s betrayal of the working class nonstop. But we do need to consider the tactics that he will use to obscure the scope of his betrayal.

One tactic, which we’ve already seen with this week’s ostentatious announcement of a deal to keep some Carrier jobs in America, will be to distract the nation with bright, shiny, trivial objects. True, this tactic will work only if news coverage is both gullible and innumerate.

No, Mr. Trump didn’t “stand up” to Carrier — he seems to have offered it a bribe. And we’re talking about a thousand jobs in a huge economy; at the rate of one Carrier-size deal a week, it would take Mr. Trump 30 years to save as many jobs as President Obama did with the auto bailout; it would take him a century to make up for the overall loss of manufacturing jobs just since 2000.

But judging from the coverage of the deal so far, assuming that the news media will be gullible and innumerate seems like a good bet.

And if and when the reality that workers are losing ground starts to sink in, I worry that the Trumpists will do what authoritarian governments often do to change the subject away from poor performance: go find an enemy.

Remember what I said about Trump Twitter. Even as he took a big step toward taking health insurance away from millions, Mr. Trump started ranting about taking citizenship away from flag-burners. This was not a coincidence.

The point is to keep your eye on what’s important. Millions of Americans have just been sucker-punched. They just don’t know it yet.

Krugman, solo

November 28, 2016

In “Why Corruption Matters” Prof. Krugman says it’s not the money, it’s the incentives.  Here he is:

Remember all the news reports suggesting, without evidence, that the Clinton Foundation’s fund-raising created conflicts of interest? Well, now the man who benefited from all that innuendo is on his way to the White House. And he’s already giving us an object lesson in what real conflicts of interest look like, as authoritarian governments around the world shower favors on his business empire.

Of course, Donald Trump could be rejecting these favors and separating himself and his family from his hotels and so on. But he isn’t. In fact, he’s openly using his position to drum up business. And his early appointments suggest that he won’t be the only player using political power to build personal wealth. Self-dealing will be the norm throughout this administration. America has just entered an era of unprecedented corruption at the top.

The question you need to ask is why this matters. Hint: It’s not the money, it’s the incentives.

True, we could be talking about a lot of money — think billions, not millions, to Mr. Trump alone (which is why his promise not to take his salary is a sick joke). But America is a very rich country, whose government spends more than $4 trillion a year, so even large-scale looting amounts to rounding error. What’s important is not the money that sticks to the fingers of the inner circle, but what they do to get that money, and the bad policy that results.

Normally, policy reflects some combination of practicality — what works? — and ideology — what fits my preconceptions? And our usual complaint is that ideology all too often overrules the evidence.

But now we’re going to see a third factor powerfully at work: What policies can officials, very much including the man at the top, personally monetize? And the effect will be disastrous.

Let’s start relatively small, with the choice of Betsy DeVos as education secretary. Ms. DeVos has some obvious affinities with Mr. Trump: Her husband is an heir to the fortune created by Amway, a company that has been accused of being a fraudulent scheme and, in 2011, paid $150 million to settle a class-action suit. But what’s really striking is her signature issue, school vouchers, in which parents are given money rather than having their children receive a public education.

At this point there’s a lot of evidence on how well school vouchers actually work, and it’s basically damning. For example, Louisiana’s extensive voucher plan unambiguously reduced student achievement. But voucher advocates won’t take no for an answer. Part of this is ideology, but it’s also true that vouchers might eventually find their way to for-profit educational institutions.

And the track record of for-profit education is truly terrible; the Obama administration has been cracking down on the scams that infest the industry. But things will be different now: For-profit education stocks soared after the election. Two, three, many Trump Universities!

Moving on, I’ve already written about the Trump infrastructure plan, which for no obvious reason involves widespread privatization of public assets. No obvious reason, that is, except the huge opportunities for cronyism and profiteering that would be opened up.

But what’s truly scary is the potential impact of corruption on foreign policy. Again, foreign governments are already trying to buy influence by adding to Mr. Trump’s personal wealth, and he is welcoming their efforts.

In case you’re wondering, yes, this is illegal, in fact unconstitutional, a clear violation of the emoluments clause. But who’s going to enforce the Constitution? Republicans in Congress? Don’t be silly.

Destruction of democratic norms aside, however, think about the tilt this de facto bribery will give to U.S. policy. What kind of regime can buy influence by enriching the president and his friends? The answer is, only a government that doesn’t adhere to the rule of law.

Think about it: Could Britain or Canada curry favor with the incoming administration by waiving regulations to promote Trump golf courses or directing business to Trump hotels? No — those nations have free presses, independent courts, and rules designed to prevent exactly that kind of improper behavior. On the other hand, someplace like Vladimir Putin’s Russia can easily funnel vast sums to the man at the top in return for, say, the withdrawal of security guarantees for the Baltic States.

One would like to hope that national security officials are explaining to Mr. Trump just how destructive it would be to let business considerations drive foreign policy. But reports say that Mr. Trump has barely met with those officials, refusing to get the briefings that are normal for a president-elect.

So how bad will the effects of Trump-era corruption be? The best guess is, worse than you can possibly imagine.

Brooks and Krugman

November 25, 2016

Today is full of questions.  In “Does Decision Making Matter?” Bobo has a question:  Why are you interested in the things that interest you?  Prof. Krugman also has a question in “The Populism Perplex:”  What does the white working class want?  Here’s Bobo:

Danny Kahneman grew up Jewish in occupied France during World War II. Once in Paris, after curfew, he was nearly captured by an SS officer. His family traveled from town to town through rural France, hiding and hoping people wouldn’t recognize them as Jews. As Michael Lewis writes in his forthcoming book, “The Undoing Project,” Kahneman survived the Holocaust by keeping himself apart.

The family moved to Jerusalem. The army assigned him to a psychological evaluation unit and Kahneman became a psychologist.

Amos Twersky was born in Israel, to a mother who ignored him for long periods so she could serve the nation. He became a paratrooper in the war of 1956, and received one of the nation’s highest awards for bravery after he rescued a man who’d fainted on a torpedo just before it exploded.

Twersky was idiosyncratic. “Amos thought people paid an enormous price to avoid mild embarrassment, and he himself decided early on it was not worth it,” a friend told Lewis.

If he felt like going for a run, he stripped off his pants and went in his underpants. If a social situation bored him, he left. Twersky wasn’t sure how he drifted into psychology. “It’s hard to know how people select a course in life,” he once said. “The big choices we make are practically random.”

Kahneman and Twersky began to work together. They would lock themselves together and talk and laugh, year after year. If they were at a party, they would go off and talk to each other. “When they sat down to write, they nearly merged, physically, into a single form,” Lewis writes, hunched over a single typewriter.

“Their relationship was more intense than a marriage,” Twersky’s wife recalled. When they wrote a paper together they lost all track of who had contributed what. They scrambled for research topics that gave them an excuse to be together, and completed each other’s sentences.

“The way the creative process works is that you first say something and later, sometimes years later, you understand what you said,” Kahneman recalled. “And in our case it was foreshortened. I would say something and Amos understood it. It still gives me goose bumps.”

It was a mystical alchemy that revolutionized how we think about ourselves. Kahneman and Twersky are like a lot of the characters who appear in Michael Lewis’s books, like “Moneyball” and “The Big Short.” They are intellectual renegades who are fervently, almost obsessively, determined to see reality clearly, no matter how ferocious the resistance from everybody else.

While most economics models assumed people were basically rational, Kahneman and Twersky demonstrated that human decision-making is biased in systematic, predictable ways. Many of the biases they described have now become famous — loss aversion, endowment effect, hindsight bias, the anchoring effect, and were described in Kahneman’s brilliant book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow.” They are true giants who have revolutionized how we think about decision-making. Lewis makes academic life seem gripping, which believe it or not, is not easy to do.

My big question is: How is the world they describe reflected in their own lives? Kahneman and Twersky write about the kind of decisions that you might call casino decisions — in which people confront various probabilities and try to calculate which course will be best.

But over the course of their lives Kahneman and Twersky don’t seem to have actually made many big decisions. The major trajectories of their lives were determined by historical events, random coincidences, their own psychological needs and irresistible impulsions. In the course of the book there’s only one big formal decision point — when Twersky decides to move to the U.S.

Their lives weren’t so much shaped by decisions as by rapture. They were held rapt by each other’s minds. They were fervently engaged by the puzzles before them. They succeeded not because they were master decision-makers but because of their capacity for zealous engagement. They followed their interests step by step.

And this is my problem with the cognitive sciences and the advice world generally. It’s built on the premise that we are chess masters who make decisions, for good or ill. But when it comes to the really major things we mostly follow our noses. What seems interesting, beautiful, curious and addicting?

Have you ever known anybody to turn away from anything they found compulsively engaging?

We don’t decide about life; we’re captured by life. In the major spheres, decision-making, when it happens at all, is downstream from curiosity and engagement. If we really want to understand and shape behavior, maybe we should look less at decision-making and more at curiosity. Why are you interested in the things you are interested in? Why are some people zealously seized, manically attentive and compulsively engaged?

Now that we know a bit more about decision-making, maybe the next frontier is desire. Maybe the next Kahneman and Twersky will help us understand what explains, fires and orders our loves.

Ahhh…  It would appear that Bobo is still in the throes of his midlife crisis.  It hasn’t been pretty…  Here’s Prof. Krugman:

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by more than two million, and she would probably be president-elect if the director of the F.B.I. hadn’t laid such a heavy thumb on the scales, just days before the election. But it shouldn’t even have been close; what put Donald Trump in striking distance was overwhelming support from whites without college degrees. So what can Democrats do to win back at least some of those voters?

Recently Bernie Sanders offered an answer: Democrats should “go beyond identity politics.” What’s needed, he said, are candidates who understand that working-class incomes are down, who will “stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industry.”

But is there any reason to believe that this would work? Let me offer some reasons for doubt.

First, a general point: Any claim that changed policy positions will win elections assumes that the public will hear about those positions. How is that supposed to happen, when most of the news media simply refuse to cover policy substance? Remember, over the course of the 2016 campaign, the three network news shows devoted a total of 35 minutes combined to policy issues — all policy issues. Meanwhile, they devoted 125 minutes to Mrs. Clinton’s emails.

Beyond this, the fact is that Democrats have already been pursuing policies that are much better for the white working class than anything the other party has to offer. Yet this has brought no political reward.

Consider eastern Kentucky, a very white area which has benefited enormously from Obama-era initiatives. Take, in particular, the case of Clay County, which the Times declared a few years ago to be the hardest place in America to live. It’s still very hard, but at least most of its residents now have health insurance: Independent estimates say that the uninsured rate fell from 27 percent in 2013 to 10 percent in 2016. That’s the effect of the Affordable Care Act, which Mrs. Clinton promised to preserve and extend but Mr. Trump promised to kill.

Mr. Trump received 87 percent of Clay County’s vote.

Now, you might say that health insurance is one thing, but what people want are good jobs. Eastern Kentucky used to be coal country, and Mr. Trump, unlike Mrs. Clinton, promised to bring the coal jobs back. (So much for the idea that Democrats need a candidate who will stand up to the fossil fuels industry.) But it’s a nonsensical promise.

Where did Appalachia’s coal mining jobs go? They weren’t lost to unfair competition from China or Mexico. What happened instead was, first, a decades-long erosion as U.S. coal production shifted from underground mining to strip mining and mountaintop removal, which require many fewer workers: Coal employment peaked in 1979, fell rapidly during the Reagan years, and was down more than half by 2007. A further plunge came in recent years thanks to fracking. None of this is reversible.

Is the case of former coal country exceptional? Not really. Unlike the decline in coal, some of the long-term decline in manufacturing employment can be attributed to rising trade deficits, but even there it’s a fairly small fraction of the story. Nobody can credibly promise to bring the old jobs back; what you can promise — and Mrs. Clinton did — are things like guaranteed health care and higher minimum wages. But working-class whites overwhelmingly voted for politicians who promise to destroy those gains.

So what happened here? Part of the answer may be that Mr. Trump had no problems with telling lies about what he could accomplish. If so, there may be a backlash when the coal and manufacturing jobs don’t come back, while health insurance disappears.

But maybe not. Maybe a Trump administration can keep its supporters on board, not by improving their lives, but by feeding their sense of resentment.

For let’s be serious here: You can’t explain the votes of places like Clay County as a response to disagreements about trade policy. The only way to make sense of what happened is to see the vote as an expression of, well, identity politics — some combination of white resentment at what voters see as favoritism toward nonwhites (even though it isn’t) and anger on the part of the less educated at liberal elites whom they imagine look down on them.

To be honest, I don’t fully understand this resentment. In particular, I don’t know why imagined liberal disdain inspires so much more anger than the very real disdain of conservatives who see the poverty of places like eastern Kentucky as a sign of the personal and moral inadequacy of their residents.

One thing is clear, however: Democrats have to figure out why the white working class just voted overwhelmingly against its own economic interests, not pretend that a bit more populism would solve the problem.

Blow and Krugman

November 21, 2016

In “Trump: Making America White Again” Mr. Blow says the president-elect aims for a country by and for white men.  Prof. Krugman, in “Build He Won’t,” tells us not to fall for the Trump infrastructure scam.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

This may well be the beginning of the end: the early moments of a historical pivot point, when the slide of the republic into something untoward and unrecognizable still feels like a small collection of poor judgments and reversible decisions, rather than the forward edge of an enormous menace inching its way forward and grinding up that which we held dear and foolishly thought, as lovers do, would ever endure.

So many of President-elect Donald Trump’s decisions herald a tomorrow that is bleak for anyone who held hope that he could be a different, better man than the one who campaigned (I was not among that cohort), or those who simply assumed that the gravity of the office he is to assume would ground him.

Hard-line Trumpism isn’t softening; it’s being cemented.

Increasingly, as he picks his cabinet from among his fawning loyalists, it is becoming clear that by “Make America Great Again,” he actually meant some version of “Make America a White, Racist, Misogynistic Patriarchy Again.” It would be hard to send a clearer message to women and minorities that this administration will be hostile to their interests than the cabinet he is assembling.

He has promoted Stephen Bannon, an alt-right, white nationalist cheerleader and sympathizer, to chief White House strategist.

Senator Bernie Sanders responded to the Bannon announcement with a blistering statement:

“The appointment by President-elect Trump of a racist individual like Mr. Bannon to a position of authority is totally unacceptable. In a democratic society we can disagree all we want over issues, but racism and bigotry cannot be part of any public policy. The appointment of Mr. Bannon by Mr. Trump must be rescinded.”

But of course, Trump had no intention of rescinding the appointment. Indeed, he had more controversial appointments to come.

He has chosen the extreme anti-Islam hyperbolist Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn — who also happens to be a stop-and-frisk apologist and has tweeted that “fear of Muslims is RATIONAL” — as his national security adviser.

As The New York Times reported Thursday:

“General Flynn, for instance, has said that Shariah, or Islamic law, is spreading in the United States. (It is not.) His dubious assertions are so common that when he ran the Defense Intelligence Agency, subordinates came up with a name for the phenomenon: They called them ‘Flynn facts.’”

In October, Flynn tweeted:

“Follow Mike @Cernovich He has a terrific book, Gorilla Mindset. Well worth the read. @realDonaldTrump will win on 8 NOV!!!”

The New Yorker dubbed Mike Cernovich “the meme mastermind of the alt-right” in a lengthy profile.

The magazine pointed out:

“On his blog, Cernovich developed a theory of white-male identity politics: men were oppressed by feminism, and political correctness prevented the discussion of obvious truths, such as the criminal proclivities of certain ethnic groups.”

Then there was the choice of Senator Jeff Sessions for attorney general. In 1986 Sessions famously became only the second nominee in 48 years to be rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee, due to racist comments and behavior.

When confronted by the committee about remarks he was accused of making about the N.A.A.C.P. and the A.C.L.U., Sessions responded:

“I’m often loose with my tongue. I may have said something about the N.A.A.C.P. being un-American or Communist, but I meant no harm by it.”

But not all of Sessions’s issues regarding minorities have a 30-year vintage.

In response to the attorney general announcement, the Southern Poverty Law Center issued a statement that read in part:

“But we cannot support his nomination to be the country’s next attorney general. Senator Sessions not only has been a leading opponent of sensible, comprehensive immigration reform, he has associated with anti-immigrant groups we consider to be deeply racist, including the Federation for American Immigration Reform and the Center for Security Policy.”

Indeed, FAIR was quick to congratulate Sessions on his nomination Friday, saying in a statement: “It’s hard to imagine a better pick for the attorney general position than Senator Jeff Sessions”; the group called on Sessions to rid the country of sanctuary cities.

The S.P.L.C. has written about FAIR, saying:

“FAIR leaders have ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists and have made many racist statements. Its advertisements have been rejected because of racist content. FAIR’s founder, John Tanton, has expressed his wish that America remain a majority-white population: a goal to be achieved, presumably, by limiting the number of nonwhites who enter the country.”

Trump is making a statement that it would behoove America to heed: The America he envisions, and is now actively constructing from his perch of power, is not an inclusive America. It is a society driven by a racial Orwellianism that seeks to defend, elevate and enshrine the primacy of white men and is hostile to all “others.”

That orange glow emanating from the man is the sun setting on America’s progress, however slow and halting, on race and gender inclusion and equity.

And now here’s Prof. Krugman:

Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s chief strategist, is a white supremacist and purveyor of fake news. But the other day, in an interview with, um, The Hollywood Reporter, he sounded for a minute like a progressive economist. “I’m the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan,” he declared. “With negative interest rates throughout the world, it’s the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything.”

So is public investment an area in which progressives and the incoming Trump administration can find common ground? Some people, including Bernie Sanders, seem to think so.

But remember that we’re dealing with a president-elect whose business career is one long trail of broken promises and outright scams — someone who just paid $25 million to settle fraud charges against his “university.” Given that history, you always have to ask whether he’s offering something real or simply engaged in another con job. In fact, you should probably assume that it’s a scam until proven otherwise.

And we already know enough about his infrastructure plan to suggest, strongly, that it’s basically fraudulent, that it would enrich a few well-connected people at taxpayers’ expense while doing very little to cure our investment shortfall. Progressives should not associate themselves with this exercise in crony capitalism.

To understand what’s going on, it may be helpful to start with what we should be doing. The federal government can indeed borrow very cheaply; meanwhile, we really need to spend money on everything from sewage treatment to transit. The indicated course of action, then, is simple: borrow at those low, low rates, and use the funds raised to fix what needs fixing.

But that’s not what the Trump team is proposing. Instead, it’s calling for huge tax credits: billions of dollars in checks written to private companies that invest in approved projects, which they would end up owning. For example, imagine a private consortium building a toll road for $1 billion. Under the Trump plan, the consortium might borrow $800 billion while putting up $200 million in equity — but it would get a tax credit of 82 percent of that sum, so that its actual outlays would only be $36 million. And any future revenue from tolls would go to the people who put up that $36 million.

There are three questions you should immediately ask.

First, why do it this way? Why not just have the government do the spending, the way it did when, for example, we built the Interstate Highway System? It’s not as if the feds are having trouble borrowing. And while involving private investors may create less upfront government debt than a more straightforward scheme, the eventual burden on taxpayers will be every bit as high if not higher.

Second, how is this scheme supposed to deal with infrastructure needs that can’t be turned into profit centers? Our top priorities should include things like repairing levees and cleaning up hazardous waste; where’s the revenue stream? Maybe the government can promise to pay fees in perpetuity, in effect “renting” the repaired levee or waterworks — but that makes it even clearer that we’re basically engaged in a gratuitous handout to select investors.

Third, what reason do we have to believe that this scheme will generate new investment, as opposed to repackaging things that would have happened anyway? For example, many cities will have to replace their water systems in the years ahead, one way or another; if that replacement takes place under the Trump scheme rather than through ordinary government investment, we haven’t built additional infrastructure, we’ve just privatized what would have been public assets — and the people acquiring those assets will have paid just 18 cents on the dollar, with taxpayers picking up the rest of the tab.

Again, all of this is unnecessary. If you want to build infrastructure, build infrastructure. It’s hard to see any reason for a roundabout, indirect method that would offer a few people extremely sweet deals, and would therefore provide both the means and the motive for large-scale corruption. Or maybe I should say, it’s hard to see any reason for this scheme unless the inevitable corruption is a feature, not a bug.

Now, the Trump people could make all my suspicions look foolish by scrapping the private-investor, tax credits aspect of their proposal and offering a straightforward program of public investment. And if they were to do that, progressives should indeed work with them on that issue.

But it’s not going to happen. Cronyism and self-dealing are going to be the central theme of this administration — in fact, Mr. Trump is already meeting with foreigners to promote his business interests. And people who value their own reputations should take care to avoid any kind of association with the scams ahead.

Brooks, Cohen, and Krugman

November 18, 2016

In “The Danger of a Dominant Identity” Bobo says that seeing people as one dimensional dehumanizes all of us.  I wonder if that applies to Bobo’s railing about dirty hippies and those shiftless layabouts having unapproved sexytimes while Bobo slaves away in the salt mines at the Times?  As usual, “gemli” from Boston has a thing or two to add.  Mr. Cohen ponders Trump, Bannon and the looming apocalypse in “The Man Who Would Not be President.”  Prof. Krugman, in “The Medicare Killers,” says candidate Trump promised to protect entitlements, but President-elect Trump apparently has different plans.  Here’s Bobo:

Over the past few days we’ve seen what happens when you assign someone a single identity. Pollsters assumed that most Latinos would vote only as Latinos, and therefore against Donald Trump. But a surprising percentage voted for him.

Pollsters assumed women would vote primarily as women, and go for Hillary Clinton. But a surprising number voted against her. They assumed African-Americans would vote along straight Democratic lines, but a surprising number left the top line of the ballot blank.

The pollsters reduced complex individuals to a single identity, and are now embarrassed.

But pollsters are not the only people guilty of reductionist solitarism. This mode of thinking is one of the biggest problems facing this country today.

Trump spent the entire campaign reducing people to one identity and then generalizing. Muslims are only one thing, and they are dangerous. Mexicans are only one thing, and that is alien. When Trump talked about African-Americans he always talked about inner-city poverty, as if that was the sum total of the black experience in America.

Bigots turn multidimensional human beings into one-dimensional creatures. Anti-Semites define Jewishness in a certain crude miniaturizing way. Racists define both blackness and whiteness in just that manner. Populists dehumanize complex people into the moronic categories of “the people” and “the elites.”

But it’s not only racists who reduce people to a single identity. These days it’s the anti-racists, too. To raise money and mobilize people, advocates play up ethnic categories to an extreme degree.

Large parts of popular culture — and pretty much all of stand-up comedy — consist of reducing people to one or another identity and then making jokes about that generalization. The people who worry about cultural appropriation reduce people to an ethnic category and argue that those outside can never understand it. A single identity walls off empathy and the imagination.

We’re even seeing a wave of voluntary reductionism. People feel besieged, or they’re intellectually lazy, so they reduce themselves to one category. Being an evangelical used to mean practicing a certain form of faith. But “evangelical” has gone from being an adjective to a noun, a simplistic tribal identity that commands Republican affiliation.

Unfortunately, if you reduce complex individuals to one thing you’ll go through life clueless about the world around you. People’s classifications now shape how they see the world.

Plus, as the philosopher Amartya Sen has argued, this mentality makes the world more flammable. Crude tribal dividing lines inevitably arouse a besieged, victimized us/them mentality. This mentality assumes that the relations between groups are zero sum and antagonistic. People with this mentality tolerate dishonesty, misogyny and terrorism on their own side because all morality lays down before the tribal imperative.

The only way out of this mess is to continually remind ourselves that each human is a conglomeration of identities: ethnic, racial, professional, geographic, religious and so on. Even each identity itself is not one thing but a tradition of debate about the meaning of that identity. Furthermore, the dignity of each person is not found in the racial or ethnic category that each has inherited, but in the moral commitments that each individual has chosen and lived out.

Getting out of this mess also means accepting the limits of social science. The judgments of actual voters are better captured in the narratives of journalism and historical analysis than in the brutalizing correlations of big data.

Rebinding the nation means finding shared identities, not just contrasting ones. If we want to improve race relations, it’s not enough to have a conversation about race. We also have to emphasize identities people have in common across the color line. If you can engage different people together as Marines or teachers, then you will have built an empathetic relationship, and people can learn one another’s racial experiences naturally.

Finally, we have to revive the American identity. For much of the 20th century, America had a rough consensus about the American idea. Historians congregated around a common narrative. People put great stock in civic rituals like the pledge. But that consensus is now in tatters, stretched by globalization, increasing diversity as well as failures of civic education.

Now many Americans don’t recognize one another or their country. The line I heard most on election night was, “This is not my America.” We will have to construct a new national idea that binds and embraces all our particular identities.

The good news, as my Times colleague April Lawson points out, is that there wasn’t mass violence last week. That could have happened amid a civic clash this ugly and passionate. That’s a sign that for all the fear and anger of this season, there’s still mutual attachment among us, something to build on.

But there has to be a rejection of single-identity thinking and a continual embrace of the reality that each of us is a mansion with many rooms.

And now here’s what “gemli” had to say about that:

“Yes, we’re all gems with many facets, and we should appraise each other in the refulgent glow of their wondrous complexities. This would be sage advice if any organism back to the moment of abiogenesis had ever viewed its fellow creatures as anything more than food.

Those of us who have evolved made the attempt to view people as more than one-dimensional objects. We thought people should be taken care of, even if they were poor, old or sick. But we faced opposition from certain monkeys who wouldn’t be happy until they had all the bananas.

It was only recently that conservatives and liberals tried to get along, momentarily intrigued by the novel idea of a democracy. Lion and lamb cooperated, and reluctantly agreed to work together. They valued education and science. Government worked to eliminate poverty, racial hatred, unfairness and ignorance.

It couldn’t last. Things started to fall apart when a recent president changed the complexion of the White House. Something primal was triggered, and conservatives reasserted their dominant identity.

This didn’t start with Donald Trump. He’s merely the culmination of the one-dimensional thinker, the self-appointed alpha male, pea-brained but powerful, prowling for prey and groping the gazelles.”

Next up we have Mr. Cohen:

What was evident during the campaign is more apparent after Donald Trump’s election: He is deeply ambivalent about becoming president. He’d rather stay in his lavish New York penthouse. Policy is a headache. It requires concentration. There are annoying laws against nepotism. Trump won 4.1 percent of the vote in the District of Columbia. Washington does not pine for him.

It all began as a game, turned into an ego trip, and ended in a strange apotheosis. Trump has uncanny instincts but no firm ideas. He knows the frisson authority confers. A rich boy from Queens who made good in Manhattan, he understands the galvanizing force of playing the outsider card. A man who changed his past, purging German lineage for “Swedish,” he understands America’s love for the outsized invented life. For his victory he depended on America’s unique gift for amnesia.

Trump saw the immense potential appeal of an American restoration — all nationalism finds its roots in a gloried, mythical past — after the presidency of a black man, Barack Obama, who prudently chose not to exalt the exceptional nature of the United States but to face the reality of diminished power.

The proposed restoration went beyond that. It was of the Judeo-Christian West against what Trump’s chief strategist — read propaganda minister — Steve Bannon calls “the new barbarity.” That barbarity has many components. One is the crony capitalism of the “party of Davos” — the elites who have the system rigged. Another is the dilution of Judeo-Christian values through rampant secularization, migration and miscegenation. The mass 21st-century influx of Muslims in the West may be equated, in these people’s eyes, with the mass emancipation and emergence from the Shtetl of Jews in 19th- century Europe: disruptive, threatening, a menace to the established order.

Obama is of mixed race. Who could better symbolize the looming decadence? For “Make America Great Again,” read “Make America White Again.” Trump saw that racism and sexism could be manipulated in his favor. He was the self-styled voice of the people to whom he bore least resemblance: those at the periphery far from the metropolitan hubs of the Davos consensus.

From headline to headline Trump stumbled, ending up with the last thing he wants: a minutely scrutinized life. You can wing a campaign; you can’t wing the leadership of the free world. An unethical commander-in-chief is a commander-in-chief with problems.

Trump knows all this. He was big on hat; now he needs cattle. That’s problematic. He does not really know where to begin. Clearly not at the State Department, which has yet to hear from him.

One is put in mind of H.L. Mencken: “As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

Except that Trump is no moron. That makes the outlook more sinister. Michael Bloomberg, the former New York mayor, got it about right when he said of Trump: “I’m a New Yorker and I know a con when I see one.” He might have said a gifted charlatan.

Bannon, as set out in remarks reported by BuzzFeed to a conference held at the Vatican in 2014, believes that, “We’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict” that will, absent a firm stand by “the church militant,” “completely eradicate everything we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years.”

The thing is, of course, this fight — this imagined restoration — will be waged against the very essence of the modern world: the movement of peoples and ever greater interconnectedness, driven by technology. Taken to its logical conclusion, the Trump-Bannon war can only end in apocalypse.

I believe money binds Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, and Trump. Precisely how we do not know yet. But there is also a cultural aspect. Putin has set himself up as the guardian of an absolutist culture against what Russia sees as the predatory and relativist culture of the West. The Putin entourage is convinced the decadence of the West is revealed in its irreligious embrace of same-sex marriage, radical feminism, euthanasia, homosexuality and choose-your-gender bathrooms. Enter Bannon.

It’s all a terrible mistake. Trump affects something close to a regal pout, close enough anyway to be perfected through Botox. He loves gilt, gold and pomp. He’s interested in authority, but not details. He yearns to watch the genuflections of the awed. He loves ribbon-cutting and the regalia of power. Used to telling minions they’re fired, he prefers subjects to citizens. In short, he’d be better off at Buckingham Palace.

That won’t happen. I see a high chance of disaster within the first year of the new presidency. Trump won the game. But now the game for him could be up. Or perhaps the world will go down in flames.

Well, that’s what we’ve heard — no more water, fire next time.  Now here’s Prof. Krugman:

During the campaign, Donald Trump often promised to be a different kind of Republican, one who would represent the interests of working-class voters who depend on major government programs. “I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid,” he declared, under the headline “Why Donald Trump Won’t Touch Your Entitlements.”

It was, of course, a lie. The transition team’s point man on Social Security is a longtime advocate of privatization, and all indications are that the incoming administration is getting ready to kill Medicare, replacing it with vouchers that can be applied to the purchase of private insurance. Oh, and it’s also likely to raise the age of Medicare eligibility.

So it’s important not to let this bait-and-switch happen before the public realizes what’s going on.

Three points in particular need to be made as loudly as possible.

First, the attack on Medicare will be one of the most blatant violations of a campaign promise in history.

Some readers may recall George W. Bush’s attempt to privatize Social Security, in which he claimed a “mandate” from voters despite having run a campaign entirely focused on other issues. That was bad, but this is much worse — and not just because Mr. Trump lost the popular vote by a significant margin, making any claim of a mandate bizarre.

Candidate Trump ran on exactly the opposite position from the one President-elect Trump seems to be embracing, claiming to be an economic populist defending the (white) working class. Now he’s going to destroy a program that is crucial to that class?

Which brings me to the second point: While Medicare is an essential program for a great majority of Americans, it’s especially important for the white working-class voters who supported Mr. Trump most strongly. Partly that’s because Medicare beneficiaries are considerably whiter than the country as a whole, precisely because they’re older and reflect the demography of an earlier era.

Beyond that, think of what would happen if Medicare didn’t exist. Some older Americans would probably be able to retain health coverage by staying at jobs that come with such coverage. But this option would by and large be available only to those with extensive education: Labor force participation among seniors is strongly correlated with education, in part because the highly educated are healthier than the less educated, and in part because their jobs require less physical effort. Working-class seniors would be left stranded, unable to get the health care they needed.

Still, doesn’t something have to be done about Medicare? No — which is my third point. People like Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, have often managed to bamboozle the media into believing that their efforts to dismantle Medicare and other programs are driven by valid economic concerns. They aren’t.

It has been obvious for a long time that Medicare is actually more efficient than private insurance, mainly because it doesn’t spend large sums on overhead and marketing, and, of course, it needn’t make room for profits.

What’s not widely known is that the cost-saving measures included in the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, have been remarkably successful in their efforts to “bend the curve” — to rein in the long-term rise in Medicare expenses. In fact, since 2010 Medicare outlays per beneficiary have risen only 1.4 percent a year, less than the inflation rate. This success is one main reason long-term budget projections have dramatically improved.

So why try to destroy this successful program, which is in important respects doing better than ever? The main answer, from the point of view of people like Mr. Ryan, is probably that Medicare is in the cross hairs precisely because of its success: It would be very helpful for opponents of government to do away with a program that clearly demonstrates the power of government to improve people’s lives.

And there’s an additional benefit to the right from Medicare privatization: It would create a lot of opportunities for private profits, earned by diverting dollars that could have been used to provide health care.

In summary, then, privatizing Medicare would betray a central promise of the Trump campaign, would specifically betray the interests of the voter bloc that thought it had found a champion, and would be terrible policy.

You might think this would make the whole idea a non-starter. And this push will, in fact, fail — just like Social Security privatization in 2005 — if voters realize what’s happening.

What’s crucial now is to make sure that voters do, in fact, realize what’s going on. And this isn’t just a job for politicians. It’s also a chance for the news media, which failed so badly during the campaign, to start doing its job.

Blow and Krugman

November 14, 2016

In “Trump’s Rural White America” Mr. Blow says shifting demographics contribute to the sharp political divisions seen in this year’s election.  Prof. Krugman, in “Trump Slump Coming?”, says don’t count on an immediate disaster after the next president takes office.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

As I watched last week as protesters took to the streets in big cities, what struck me was the vast and growing divide between America’s rural and urban populations and their politics and sensibilities.

One look at county maps of this year’s election results and you see what looks like a handful of blueberries sprinkled on an endless spread of red sauce (between the blue coasts). And yet, it is likely that the final result will be that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, although Donald Trump won the electoral vote and therefore the election.

Part of the reason for this is that, as a census report noted last year: “U.S. cities are home to 62.7 percent of the U.S. population but comprise just 3.5 percent of land area.”

Indeed, a 2013 analysis by Business Insider found that “half of the United States population is clustered in just the 146 biggest counties out of over 3000,” according to Census data.

Fourteen states — a few in the Plains, a few in the Deep South and a few in New England — contained none of those “biggest counties” and another 19 only contained one or two of those counties.

Furthermore we are seeing a corrosive decline in faith in our institutions.

There are many reasons that people lose faith in institutions. They cluster and perpetuate money and power among the few, often at the expense of the many. Their very weight in the cluster and the tremendous influence they wield makes them ripe for corruption and malfeasance.

Another likely reason is that, for many of the white working-class voters, particularly in the “rural countryside of the North” as The New York Times put it, these institutions are increasingly foreign.

Institutions are largely urban. The federal government is in Washington, D.C.. The financial center is in New York. New York is also the publishing capital and home to cable and broadcast news. Hollywood is in California. Our Ivy League schools are in a handful of Northeastern states. Our most influential cultural institutions — museums, performance companies and spaces, music studios — are in big cities. The same can be said for our most influential newspapers.

Furthermore, there are two complimentary and compounding internal migratory patterns that exacerbate the divide: At the same time that young people are moving out of rural areas and into urban ones, a 2009 United States Department of Agriculture report pointed out that “members of the baby boom cohort, now 45-63 years old, are approaching a period in their lives when moves to rural and small-town destinations increase.”

This makes the places these people are leaving and the places they’re going both more homogeneous. Young people tend to be more liberal as well as more educated. Baby boomers are more conservative. In fact, a 2015 Gallup report found that “older generations have twice as many conservatives as liberals.”

Add to this brain drain the diversity factor in cities. As the International Business Times pointed out in 2011:

“Non-Hispanic whites are now minority in 22 of the country’s 100-biggest urban areas, including those surrounding Washington, New York, San Diego, Las Vegas and Memphis. The reversal is being fueled by a growth in Hispanic and Asian populations — they grew by 41 and 43 percent, respectively — and the fact that white populations have grown by less than one percent.”

Furthermore, urban areas, rather than rural ones, are magnets for new immigrants from other countries and, as a 2014 Pew Research report found, this immigrant population is exploding, providing fertile ground for appeals to rural whites experiencing or worried about economic distress and looking for easy scapegoats for their anxieties:

“In 1990, the U.S. had 19.8 million immigrants. That number rose to a record 40.7 million immigrants in 2012, among them 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants.”

So, rural whites are suspicious of big institutions and big government, located in big cities with big populations of people who don’t look like them.

People in big cities, living cosmopolitan lives among diverse populations that resemble a tub of rainbow-colored ice cream, may be weary of institutions for other reasons, but they are less likely to blame diversity and inclusion for their problems, and are therefore less amenable to the destructive message of Donald Trump.

Earlier this year a working paper published by the Gallup senior economist Jonathan Rothwell found: “This analysis provides clear evidence that those who view Trump favorably are disproportionately living in racially and culturally isolated ZIP codes and commuting zones. Holding other factors, constant support for Trump is highly elevated in areas with few college graduates, far from the Mexican border, and in neighborhoods that stand out within the commuting zone for being white, segregated enclaves, with little exposure to blacks, Asians, and Hispanics.”

We are living in two diverging Americas at odds and at battle. Trump’s America won this round.

And now here’s Prof. Krugman:

Let’s be clear: Installing Donald Trump in the White House is an epic mistake. In the long run, its consequences may well be apocalyptic, if only because we have probably lost our last, best chance to rein in runaway climate change.

But will the extent of the disaster become apparent right away? It’s natural and, one must admit, tempting to predict a quick comeuppance — and I myself gave in to that temptation, briefly, on that horrible election night, suggesting that a global recession was imminent. But I quickly retractedthat call. Trumpism will have dire effects, but they will take time to become manifest.

In fact, don’t be surprised if economic growth actually accelerates for a couple of years.

Why am I, on reflection, relatively sanguine about the short-term effects of putting such a terrible man, with such a terrible team, in power? The answer is a mix of general principles and the specifics of our current economic situation.

First, the general principles: There is always a disconnect between what is good for society, or even the economy, in the long run, and what is good for economic performance over the next few quarters. Failure to take action on climate may doom civilization, but it’s not clear why it should depress next year’s consumer spending.

Or take the signature Trump issue of trade policy. A return to protectionism and trade wars would make the world economy poorer over time, and would in particular cripple poorer nations that desperately need open markets for their products. But predictions that Trumpist tariffs will cause a recession never made sense: Yes, we’ll export less, but we’ll also import less, and the overall effect on jobs will be more or less a wash.

We’ve already had a sort of dress rehearsal for this disconnect in the case of Brexit, Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. Brexit will make Britain poorer in the long run; but widespread predictions that it would cause a recession were, as some of us pointed out at the time, not really based on careful economic thinking. And sure enough, the Brexit recession doesn’t seem to be happening.

Beyond these general principles, the specifics of our economic situation mean that for a time, at least, a Trump administration might actually end up doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.

Eight years ago, as the world was plunging into financial crisis, I argued that we’d entered an economic realm in which “virtue is vice, caution is risky, and prudence is folly.” Specifically, we’d stumbled into a situation in which bigger deficits and higher inflation were good things, not bad. And we’re still in that situation — not as strongly as we were, but we could still very much use more deficit spending.

Many economists have known this all along. But they have been ignored, partly because much of the political establishment has been obsessed with the evils of debt, partly because Republicans have been against anything the Obama administration proposes.

Now, however, power has fallen into the hands of a man who definitely doesn’t suffer from an excess of either virtue or prudence. Donald Trump isn’t proposing huge, budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations because he understands macroeconomics. But those tax cuts would add $4.5 trillion to U.S. debt over the next decade — about five times as much as the stimulus of the early Obama years.

True, handing out windfalls to rich people and companies that will probably sit on a lot of the money is a bad, low-bang-for-the-buck way to boost the economy, and I have my doubts about whether the promised surge in infrastructure spending will really happen. But an accidental, badly designed stimulus would still, in the short run, be better than no stimulus at all.

In short, don’t expect an immediate Trump slump.

Now, in the longer run Trumpism will be a very bad thing for the economy, in a couple of ways. For one thing, even if we don’t face a recession right now, stuff happens, and a lot depends on the effectiveness of the policy response. Yet we’re about to see a major degradation in both the quality and the independence of public servants. If we face a new economic crisis — perhaps as a result of the dismantling of financial reform — it’s hard to think of people less prepared to deal with it.

And Trumpist policies will, in particular, hurt, not help, the American working class; eventually, promises to bring back the good old days — yes, to make America great again — will be revealed as the cruel joke they are. More on that in future columns.

But all of this will probably take time; the consequences of the new regime’s awfulness won’t be apparent right away. Opponents of that regime need to be prepared for the real possibility that good things will happen to bad people, at least for a while.

Brooks and Krugman

November 11, 2016

Oh, fergawdsake…  Bobo continues to suffer buyer’s remorse.  In “The View From Trump Tower” he moans that we should learn from the vote, work to mend society and build a political movement for the post-Trump era.  Bite me, Bobo.  “Gemli” from Boston will have a few words for you.  Prof. Krugman, in “Thoughts for the Horrified,” says Tuesday’s fallout may last decades, but we must still stand up for American values now.  Here’s that worthless POS Bobo:

If your social circles are like mine, you spent Tuesday night swapping miserable texts. Not all, but many of my friends and family members were outraged, stunned, disgusted and devastated. This is victory for white supremacy, people wrote, for misogyny, nativism and authoritarianism. Fascism is descending.

I was on PBS trying to make sense of what was happening while trying to text various people off the ledge. At one point I was opining about the results while a disbelieving text flashed across my phone: “Change It! Change It! CHAAAANGE IT!”

Those emotional reactions were a fitting first-night response to the greatest political shock of our lifetimes. Still, this is probably not the best mentality for the coming era.

In the first place, emotions like disgust don’t do justice to the complexity of Donald Trump’s supporters. The disgusted posture risks turning politics into a Manichaean civil war between the alleged children of light and the alleged children of darkness — between us enlightened, college-educated tolerant people and the supposed primitive horde driven by dark fears and prejudices. That crude and ignorant condescension is what feeds the Trump phenomenon in the first place.

Second, we simply don’t yet know how much racism or misogyny motivated Trump voters. It is true that those voters are willing to tolerate a lot more bigotry in their candidate than I’d be willing to tolerate. But if you were stuck in a jobless town, watching your friends OD on opiates, scrambling every month to pay the electric bill, and then along came a guy who seemed able to fix your problems and hear your voice, maybe you would stomach some ugliness, too.

Third, outrage and disgust impede learning. This century is still being formed and none of us understand it yet. The century really began on 9/11, and so far it has been marked by strong reactions against globalism and cosmopolitanism — by terrorism, tribalism and authoritarianism.

Populism of the Trump/Le Pen/Brexit variety has always been a warning sign, a warning sign that there is some deeper dysfunction in our economic, social and cultural systems. If you want to take that warning sign and dismiss it as simple bigotry, you’re never going to pause to understand what’s going on and you will never know how to constructively respond.

Finally, it seems important to be humbled and taught by this horrific election result. Trump’s main problem in governing is not going to be some fascistic ideology; his main problem is going to be his own attention span, ignorance and incompetence. If he’s left to bloviate while others are left to run the country and push through infrastructure plans, maybe things won’t be disastrous.

The job for the rest of us is to rebind the fabric of society, community by community, and to construct a political movement for the post-Trump era. I suspect the coming political movements will be identified on two axes: open and closed and individual and social.

Those who believe in open believe in open trade, relatively open immigration, an active foreign policy and racial integration. Those who believe in closed believe in protective trade, closed borders, a withdrawn foreign policy and ethnic separatism.

Those who favor individual believe in individual initiative, designing programs to incentivize enterprise and removing regulatory barriers. Those who believe in social believe that social mobility happens within rich communities — that people can undertake daring adventures when they have a secure social and emotional base.

Donald Trump is probably going to make the G.O.P. the party of individual/closed. He’s going to start with the traditional Republican agenda of getting government out of the way, and he’s going to add walls, protectionism and xenophobia. That will leave people isolated in the face of the challenges of the information age economy, and it will close off the dynamism and diversity that always marked this crossroads of the nation.

The Democrats are probably going to be the party of social/closed. The coming Sanders-Warren party will advocate proposals that help communities with early education programs and the like, but that party will close off trade, withdraw from the world, close off integration with hyper-race-conscious categories and close off debate with political correctness.

Which is why I’ve been thinking we need a third party that is social/open. This compassionate globalist party would support the free trade and skilled immigration that fuel growth. But it would also flood the zone for those challenged in the high-skill global economy — offering programs to rebuild community, foster economic security and boost mobility. It would integrate the white working class and minority groups by emphasizing that we are all part of a single American idea.

Trump’s bigotry, dishonesty and promise-breaking will have to be denounced. We can’t go morally numb. But he needs to be replaced with a program that addresses the problems that fueled his assent.

After all, the guy will probably resign or be impeached within a year. The future is closer than you think.

Stuff it up your nose, you supercilious piece of crap.  And should Trump resign (his Republican Congress will not impeach him) we’ll get Pence, who’s even worse.  And you’re a major enabler.  So, again, bite me.  Now here’s what “gemli” had to say:

“We’re never going to understand the Trump fiasco if we don’t get the facts straight. Trump supporters have on average annual incomes of $72,000. The idea that they’re all jobless, poor and desperate is about as true as the idea that Hillary is the antichrist.

These are the same people who listened to Obama’s support for medical care for the poor, food stamps for the hungry, retirement security, women’s rights, gay rights and reining in the ruinous cost of education and they said, out with the bum! We’re not going to take it anymore!

These are the voters who stuffed Congress full of Tea Party extremists, who kept evangelical zealots in office and who fed the eight years of political dysfunction and stagnation that they’re now complaining about. If they’d vote for Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Mitch McConnell and all the other rabid Republicans that have crippled the country, then the fact that they elected Donald Trump should come as no surprise. He’s their kind of guy.

It’s a shame that David Brooks uses his intelligence to apologize for Republican ignorance. When Trump supporters were interviewed, they didn’t bring up Brexit or global trade issues or the challenges of an increasingly technological society. They said Hillary was crooked, and there was something about e-mails, so by the transitive property of stupidity the answer is Donald Trump.

The future is not closer than we think. The future is here, and it’s making me look forward to the past.”

Now here’s Prof. Krugman:

So what do we do now? By “we” I mean all those left, center and even right who saw Donald Trump as the worst man ever to run for president and assumed that a strong majority of our fellow citizens would agree.

I’m not talking about rethinking political strategy. There will be a time for that — God knows it’s clear that almost everyone on the center-left, myself included, was clueless about what actually works in persuading voters. For now, however, I’m talking about personal attitude and behavior in the face of this terrible shock.

First of all, remember that elections determine who gets the power, not who offers the truth. The Trump campaign was unprecedented in its dishonesty; the fact that the lies didn’t exact a political price, that they even resonated with a large bloc of voters, doesn’t make them any less false. No, our inner cities aren’t war zones with record crime. No, we aren’t the highest-taxed nation in the world. No, climate change isn’t a hoax promoted by the Chinese.

So if you’re tempted to concede that the alt-right’s vision of the world might have some truth to it, don’t. Lies are lies, no matter how much power backs them up.

And once we’re talking about intellectual honesty, everyone needs to face up to the unpleasant reality that a Trump administration will do immense damage to America and the world. Of course I could be wrong; maybe the man in office will be completely different from the man we’ve seen so far. But it’s unlikely.

Unfortunately, we’re not just talking about four bad years. Tuesday’s fallout will last for decades, maybe generations.

I particularly worry about climate change. We were at a crucial point, having just reached a global agreement on emissions and having a clear policy path toward moving America to a much greater reliance on renewable energy. Now it will probably fall apart, and the damage may well be irreversible.

The political damage will extend far into the future, too. The odds are that some terrible people will become Supreme Court justices. States will feel empowered to engage in even more voter suppression than they did this year. At worst, we could see a slightly covert form of Jim Crow become the norm all across America.

And you have to wonder about civil liberties, too. The White House will soon be occupied by a man with obvious authoritarian instincts, and Congress controlled by a party that has shown no inclination to stand up against him. How bad will it get? Nobody knows.

What about the short term? My own first instinct was to say that Trumponomics would quickly provoke an immediate economic crisis, but after a few hours’ reflection I decided that this was probably wrong. I’ll write more about this in the coming weeks, but a best guess is that there will be no immediate comeuppance.

Trumpist policies won’t help the people who voted for Donald Trump — in fact, his supporters will end up much worse off. But this story will probably unfold gradually. Political opponents of the new regime certainly shouldn’t count on any near-term moment of obvious vindication.

So where does this leave us? What, as concerned and horrified citizens, should we do?

One natural response would be quietism, turning one’s back on politics. It’s definitely tempting to conclude that the world is going to hell, but that there’s nothing you can do about it, so why not just make your own garden grow? I myself spent a large part of the Day After avoiding the news, doing personal things, basically taking a vacation in my own head.

But that is, in the end, no way for citizens of a democracy — which we still are, one hopes — to live. I’m not saying that we should all volunteer to die on the barricades; I don’t think it’s going to come to that, although I wish I was sure. But I don’t see how you can hang on to your own self-respect unless you’re willing to stand up for the truth and fundamental American values.

Will that stand eventually succeed? No guarantees. Americans, no matter how secular, tend to think of themselves as citizens of a nation with a special divine providence, one that may take wrong turns but always finds its way back, one in which justice always prevails in the end.

Yet it doesn’t have to be true. Maybe the historic channels of reform — speech and writing that changes minds, political activism that eventually changes who has power — are no longer effective. Maybe America isn’t special, it’s just another republic that had its day, but is in the process of devolving into a corrupt nation ruled by strongmen.

But I’m not ready to accept that this is inevitable — because accepting it as inevitable would become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The road back to what America should be is going to be longer and harder than any of us expected, and we might not make it. But we have to try.

Amen.

Blow and Krugman

November 7, 2016

In “Vote for Your Health and for Your Life” Mr. Blow says that on Election Day, you have the power to turn things around.  Prof. Krugman, in “How to Rig an Election,” says heroic voters are facing down badly broken institutions.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

America, Election Day is our national day of reckoning, the day we do battle at the ballot box to beat back the advance of the butternut squash-tanned barbarian.

I know you’re exhausted and exasperated. I know the lunacy has taken its toll. I know that your incredulity has grown in you like a tumor.

I know that media coverage has been infuriating and the parade of Donald Trump deflect-and-detract minions a source of endless frustration.

I know that there have been some out-of-body, what-the-hell-is-going-on moments as details about Trump’s past have come to light — revelations that would have spelled the end of a candidate during previous cycles — and people have simply pushed past them with bizarrely twisted rationales.

I know that those of you with friends in other countries have been bombarded by baffled callers wondering, “What on Earth is America thinking?”

I know that you know what I know: Trump is truly one of the worst candidates to ever seek the presidency. And, a large part of that is due to his instability and malleability, all part of his no-holds-barred pursuit of power.

He is simultaneously hostile and fragile. He is bombastic and whiny. He waffles on ideology even as he pursues ideologues. He is vengeful and vacuous. He professes his championing of women while consistently insulting them and boasting of assaulting them. He reaches out to African-Americans while hiring an alt-right advocate as his campaign’s chief executive and a campaign adviser who brags about suppressing the black vote.

Donald Trump himself is at the center of his value system. He doesn’t care about America, or the Republican Party or any particular principle. Trump is about personal enrichment and unending, unequivocal affirmation. Trump is a megalomaniac, in addition to many, many other awful things.

When he’s reading prepared remarks from a teleprompter, some people forget who he is, but I simply can’t. I can’t get past it; I can’t get over it. Trump as president is America’s nightmare scenario, an election that would herald the end of the empire.

No person who fully comprehends just how young and fragile this experiment is that we call a fully representative democracy would ever even entertain the concept of taking a chance on this destruction in a tie and under a mysterious mane.

But too many Americans seem very much O.K. with Trump, so much so that he is very much in the running to win, although Clinton clearly has the upper hand at the moment.

And so, the stress is real.

According to a New York Times/CBS News poll, 82 percent of voters said that this campaign has made them feel more disgusted about American politics.

A Colby College-Boston Globe poll last month found that 64 percent of likely voters felt this year’s election was much more negative than previous ones, and 80 percent thought that America should be embarrassed by our election process based on this election.

As far back as July, 59 percent of Americans said they felt “worn out” by the amount of election coverage, according to the Pew Research Center.

The American Psychological Association has even issued an advisory about the stress that this election has caused. It points out:

“Facing one of the most adversarial contests in recent history and daily coverage of the presidential election that dominates every form of mass media, 52 percent of American adults report that the 2016 election is a very or somewhat significant source of stress. The survey was conducted online among adults 18+ living in the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association.”

With Trump our boat isn’t just driving toward the falls. He has powered the motor and is propelling us at full speed, while half of the country shrieks in fear and the other half, in deranged delirium, giddily greets destruction.

But Tuesday you have the power to turn things around. You no longer have to passively take this torture; now you can do something about it (if you haven’t already): You can vote!

Indeed, the American Psychological Association issued five tips for managing the stress of this election, the last of which was this:

“Vote. In a democracy, a citizen’s voice does matter. By voting, you will hopefully feel you are taking a proactive step and participating in what for many has been a stressful election cycle. Find balanced information to learn about all the candidates and issues on your ballot (not just the presidential race), make informed decisions and wear your ‘I voted’ sticker with pride.”

On Election Day, you get to have your voice heard and choice registered. You get to say yes to normalcy and rationality and no to insanity.

On Election Day, you can do something that counts and make a stand for your country, for your mental health, for your life. Exercise your power.

And now here’s Prof. Krugman:

It’s almost over. Will we heave a sigh of relief, or shriek in horror? Nobody knows for sure, although early indications clearly lean Clinton. Whatever happens, however, let’s be clear: this was, in fact, a rigged election.

The election was rigged by state governments that did all they could to prevent nonwhite Americans from voting: The spirit of Jim Crow is very much alive — or maybe translate that to Diego Cuervo, now that Latinos have joined African-Americans as targets. Voter ID laws, rationalized by demonstrably fake concerns about election fraud, were used to disenfranchise thousands; others were discouraged by a systematic effort to make voting hard, by closing polling places in areas with large minority populations.

The election was rigged by Russian intelligence, which was almost surely behind the hacking of Democratic emails, which WikiLeaks then released with great fanfare. Nothing truly scandalous emerged, but the Russians judged, correctly, that the news media would hype the revelation that major party figures are human beings, and that politicians engage in politics, as somehow damning.

The election was rigged by James Comey, the director of the F.B.I. His job is to police crime — but instead he used his position to spread innuendo and influence the election. Was he deliberately putting a thumb on the electoral scales, or was he simply bullied by Republican operatives? It doesn’t matter: He abused his office, shamefully.

The election was also rigged by people within the F.B.I. — people who clearly felt that under Mr. Comey they had a free hand to indulge their political preferences. In the final days of the campaign, pro-Trump agents have clearly been talking nonstop to Republicans like Rudy Giuliani and right-wing media, putting claims and allegations that may or may not have anything to do with reality into the air. The agency clearly needs a major housecleaning: Having an important part of our national security apparatus trying to subvert an election is deeply scary. Unfortunately, Mr. Comey is just the man not to do it.

The election was rigged by partisan media, especially Fox News, which trumpeted falsehoods, then retracted them, if at all, so quietly that almost nobody heard. For days Fox blared the supposed news that the F.B.I. was preparing an indictment of the Clinton Foundation. When it finally admitted that the story was false, Donald Trump’s campaign manager smugly remarked, “The damage is done to Hillary Clinton.”

The election was rigged by mainstream news organizations, many of which simply refused to report on policy issues, a refusal that clearly favored the candidate who lies about these issues all the time, and has no coherent proposals to offer. Take the nightly network news broadcasts: In 2016 all three combined devoted a total of 32 minutes to coverage of issues — all issues. Climate change, the most important issue we face, received no coverage at all.

The election was rigged by the media obsession with Hillary Clinton’s emails. She shouldn’t have used her own server, but there is no evidence at all that she did anything unethical, let alone illegal. The whole thing is orders of magnitude less important than multiple scandals involving her opponent — remember, Donald Trump never released his tax returns. Yet those networks that found only 32 minutes for all policy issues combined found 100 minutes to talk about Clinton emails.

It’s a disgraceful record. Yet Mrs. Clinton still seems likely to win.

If she does, you know what will happen. Republicans will, of course, deny her legitimacy from day one, just as they did for the last two Democratic presidents. But there will also — you can count on it — be a lot of deprecation and sneering from mainstream pundits and many in the media, lots of denial that she has a “mandate” (whatever that means), because some other Republican would supposedly have beaten her, she should have won by more, or something.

So in the days ahead it will be important to remember two things. First, Mrs. Clinton has actually run a remarkable campaign, demonstrating her tenacity in the face of unfair treatment and remaining cool under pressure that would have broken most of us. Second, and much more important, if she wins it will be thanks to Americans who stood up for our nation’s principles — who waited for hours on voting lines contrived to discourage them, who paid attention to the true stakes in this election rather than letting themselves be distracted by fake scandals and media noise.

Those citizens deserve to be honored, not disparaged, for doing their best to save the nation from the effects of badly broken institutions. Many people have behaved shamefully this year — but tens of millions of voters kept their faith in the values that truly make America great.

Brooks and Krugman

November 4, 2016

Bobo has seen fit to extrude something called “The Banality of Change” in which he says Hillary Clinton is the bigger change agent this year, because she can get things done in government.  That’s effing rich — as though the Republicans in Congress won’t treat her with the same contempt that they’ve treated Obama.  You thought the racism was fun?  Just WAIT for the sexism…  “Soxared, 04-07-13” from Crete, Illinois will have something to say in reply.  Prof. Krugman has a question:  “Who Broke Politics?”  He says Republican leaders have spent decades trashing democratic norms in pursuit of economic benefits for their donor class.  Here’s Bobo:

A few weeks ago I met a guy in Idaho who was absolutely certain that Donald Trump would win this election. He was wearing tattered, soiled overalls, missing a bunch of teeth and was unnaturally skinny. He was probably about 50, but his haggard face looked 70. He was getting by aimlessly as a handyman.

I pointed to the polls and tried to persuade him that Hillary Clinton might win, but it was like telling him a sea gull could play billiards. Everybody he knows is voting Trump so his entire lived experience points to a Trump landslide. He was a funny, kind guy, but you got the impression his opportunities had been narrowed by forces outside his control.

One of the mandates for the next president is to help improve the life stories of people like that.

Trump speaks to this man’s situation and makes him feel heard. But when you think practically about which candidate could improve his life, it’s clear that Clinton is the bigger change agent.

Let’s start with what “change” actually means. In our system, change means legislation. It starts with the ability to gather a team of policy experts who can craft complex bills. These days, bills often run to thousands of pages, and every bad rookie decision can lead things astray.

Then it requires political deftness. Deft politicians are not always lovely, as Lyndon Johnson demonstrated, but they are subtle, cunning and experienced. They have the ability to work noncontentiously with people they don’t like, to read other people’s minds, to lure opponents over with friendship, cajolery and a respectful nudge.

Craftsmanship in government is not like craftsmanship in business. You can’t win people with money and you can’t order people around. Governance requires enormous patience, a capacity to tolerate boredom and the skill of quiet herding. Frustrations abound. When it is done well, as a friend of mine in government puts it, each individual day sucks but the overall experience is tremendously rewarding.

Change in government is a team sport. Public opinion is mobilized through institutions — through interest groups, activist organizations, think tanks and political parties. As the historian Sean Wilentz once put it, “political parties have been the only reliable electoral vehicles for advancing the ideas and interests of ordinary voters.” To create political change, you have to work within groups and organize groups of groups.

Now, if you wanted to design a personality type perfectly ill suited to be a change agent in government, you would come up with Donald Trump: solipsistic, impatient, combative, unsubtle and ignorant.

If you wanted to design a personality type better suited to getting things done, you might come up with James Baker, Robert Gates or Ted Kennedy, but you might also come up with Hillary Clinton.

None of us should be under any illusions. Wherever Clinton walks, the whiff of scandal is always by her side. The Clintons seem to have decided that they are righteous and good, and therefore anything that enriches, empowers or makes them feel good must always be righteous and good. They surround themselves with some amazing people but also some human hand grenades who inevitably blow up in their faces.

But Clinton does possess the steady, pedantic skills that are necessary for governmental change: the ability to work doggedly hard, to master details and to rally the powerful. If the Clinton campaign emails have taught us anything, it is that she and her team, while not hugely creative, are prudent, calculating and able to create a web of interlocking networks that they can mobilize for a cause.

Clinton was at her best in the Senate. She worked very well with Republicans (and not just the amenable ones like John McCain and Lindsey Graham). She was an operations person, not a publicity person. Whereas Barack Obama sometimes seemed to see his fellow politicians as objects to be studied, Clinton got on with them as an equal. Her accomplishments — post-9/11 funding for New York, saving Army bases in upstate New York — were concrete.

Passing legislation next year is going to be hard, but if Clinton can be dull and pragmatic, and operate at a level below the cable TV ideology wars, it’s possible to imagine her gathering majorities behind laws that would help people like that guy in Idaho: an infrastructure push, criminal justice reform, a college tuition program, an apprenticeship and skills program, an expanded earned-income tax credit and a bill to secure the border and shift from low-skill to high-skill immigration.

Many of us disagree strongly with many Clinton policies. But any sensible person can distinguish between an effective operating officer and a whirling disaster who is only about himself.

The thing about reality TV is that it isn’t actually real. In the real world, the process of driving change is usually boring, remorseless and detail oriented, but the effect on people out there, like the guy in Idaho, can be profound and beautiful.

He still can’t quite bring himself to be honest enough to endorse Hillary.  Here’s what “soxared 04-07-13” had to say:

“Golly, Mr. Brooks, is this endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president that we have breathlessly awaited? Or is it just a rhetorical exercise? One hopes, as our final weekend for Armageddon dawns, it’s the former.

Where to begin, though? Let’s start with your glancing blow at Barack Obama. You say, in so many words, that a “rookie decision” can be fatal. You go on to compare him, unfairly with LBJ, the consummate political animal from poor, dust-blown Texas to the Oval Office, largely through Lee Harvey Oswald’s cross-hairs.

A companion piece today by Paul Krugman details how Republicans long ago abandoned any pretense to governing. Barack Obama’s inexperience was not the cause of Congressional gridlock. In your very words, “change in government is a team sport.” When, Mr. Brooks, did the Congressional delegation reach out to President Obama?

The Right attacked this good and decent man with a treasonous, seditionist employment of “public opinion [to] mobilize…institutions — through interest groups, activist organizations, think tanks” to obstruct the black president. Game, set and match, no? “You lie!”; “one-term president”; no hearings on Judge Merrick Garland? Mitch McConnell should have been investigated by the Senate’s committee for un-American activities. Right?

Hillary Clinton, with a majority Democratic Senate, can begin to lay bricks on the long and winding road. Donald Trump wants to dig it all up.

Are you with her on Tuesday? Finally? Do we have your word?”

And now here’s Prof. Krugman:

As far as anyone can tell, Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House — and the leader of what’s left of the Republican establishment — isn’t racist or authoritarian. He is, however, doing all he can to make a racist authoritarian the most powerful man in the world. Why? Because then he could privatize Medicare and slash taxes on the wealthy.

And that, in brief, tells you what has happened to the Republican Party, and to America.

This has been an election in which almost every week sees some longstanding norm in U.S. political life get broken. We now have a major-party candidate who refuses to release his tax returns, despite huge questions about his business dealings. He constantly repeats claims that are totally false, like his assertion that crime is at record highs (it’s actually just a bit off historic lows). He stands condemned by his own words as a sexual predator. And there’s much, much more.

Any one of these things would in the past have been considered disqualifying in a presidential candidate. But leading Republicans just shrug. And they celebrated when James Comey, the director of the F.B.I., broke with policy to lay a heavy thumb on the election scales; if Hillary Clinton wins nonetheless, they have made it clear that they will try to block any Supreme Court nomination, and there’s already talk of impeachment hearings. About what? They’ll find something.

So how did all our political norms get destroyed? Hint: It started long before Donald Trump.

On one side, Republicans decided long ago that anything went in the effort to delegitimize and destroy Democrats. Those of us old enough to remember the 1990s also remember the endless series of accusations hurled against the Clintons.

Nothing was too implausible to get on talk radio and get favorable mention in Congress and in conservative media: Hillary killed Vince Foster! Bill was a drug smuggler!

Nothing was too trivial to trigger congressional hearings: 140 hours of testimony on potential abuse of the White House Christmas card list. And, of course, seven years of investigations into a failed real estate deal.

When Mrs. Clinton famously spoke of a “vast right-wing conspiracy” out to undermine her husband’s presidency, she wasn’t being hyperbolic; she was simply describing the obvious reality.

And since accusations of Democratic scandal, not to mention congressional “investigations” that started from a presumption of guilt, had become the norm, the very idea of bad behavior independent of politics disappeared: The flip side of the obsessive pursuit of a Democratic president was utter refusal to investigate even the most obvious wrongdoing by Republicans in office.

There were multiple real scandals during the administration of George W. Bush, ranging from what looked like a political purge in the Justice Department to the deceptions that led us into invading Iraq; nobody was ever held accountable.

The erosion of norms continued after President Obama took office. He faced total obstruction at every turn; blackmail over the debt ceiling; and now, a refusal even to hold hearings on his nominee to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court.

What was the purpose of this assault on the implicit rules and understandings that we need to make democracy work? Well, when Newt Gingrich shut down the government in 1995, he was trying to, guess what, privatize Medicare. The rage against Bill Clinton partly reflected the fact that he raised taxes modestly on the wealthy.

In other words, Republican leaders have spent the past couple of decades doing exactly what the likes of Mr. Ryan are doing now: trashing democratic norms in pursuit of economic benefits for their donor class.

So we shouldn’t really be too surprised that Mr. Comey, who turns out to be a Republican first and a public servant, well, not so much, decided to politically weaponize his position on the eve of the election; that’s what Republicans have been doing across the board. And we shouldn’t be surprised at all that Mr. Trump’s lurid personal failings haven’t caused a break with the leaders of his party’s establishment: They decided long ago that only Democrats have scandals.

Despite Mr. Comey’s abuse of power, Mrs. Clinton will probably win. But Republicans won’t accept it. When Mr. Trump rages about a “rigged election,” expect muted disagreement at best from a party establishment that in a fundamental sense never accepts the legitimacy of a Democrat in the White House. And no matter what Mrs. Clinton does, the barrage of fake scandals will continue, now with demands for impeachment.

Can anything be done to limit the damage? It would help if the media finally learned its lesson, and stopped treating Republican scandal-mongering as genuine news. And it would also help if Democrats won the Senate, so that at least some governing could get done.