IT'S ONLY A METAPHOR FOR MY XENOPHOBIA

Throughout this campaign we've all laugh-cried at Trump supporters pressed to name any policy position he holds that they find appealing. No matter how clueless, every Trumper can name one (if only one) thing: Build. The. Wall. They chant it. They wear shirts and wave signs printed with it. They talk about it incessantly. If there is any one thing that Trump and his supporters agree upon unconditionally – one universal truth in their bizarre alternate reality – it is build the wall. I daresay the wall is a deal-breaker for them. They do not appear willing to negotiate about this wall. They want The Wall. Demand it, even.

So of course Trump, in some sort of idiotic effort to "court" "moderates" and perhaps convince a slightly larger portion of the GOP that he is not an actual fascist, spent the weekend trying to backpedal on the goddamn Wall. Because any competent campaign would strongly consider, nine weeks out from the election, injecting huge amounts of ambiguity into the one idea, however misguided, that its supporters agree upon without exception and about which they are rabidly enthusiastic. Over the past few days the campaign's surrogates have been sent out to float the idea that maybe the Wall isn't actually a wall, but a "virtual wall" – which Trump supporters cannot but note is not a wall at all. I give up; he may actually be trying to lose.

But wait! It turns out that when they said The Wall was not a real wall but actually just some kind of metaphor, it turns out they were being misquoted. It is, in fact, A Wall. The same sad-sack surrogates, who cannot help but deeply regret their decision to be in any way involved with this three ring circus, are being pushed before the cameras less than 48 hours later to "clarify" that their previous introduction of confusion into the conception of what exactly The Wall is has focus-grouped poorly and is being banished to the Land of Wind and Ghosts. Because obviously the way a campaign floats policy trial balloons is by appearing on media watched closely around the world and throwing out the possibility that what they have been saying all along may not actually be what they mean. And then abandoning that when it isn't well received.

The kind of person who is all-in on Trump 2016 is not likely to be a big fan of subtlety, nuance, symbolism, or metaphor. When these people say they want A Wall, they mean A Wall. One might assume that if the campaign understands literally nothing else they would understand that their supporters really, really want A Wall and it might not be a good idea to do a soft rollout of the possibility that The Wall is actually a thing that exists in our hearts and minds.

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68 Responses to “IT'S ONLY A METAPHOR FOR MY XENOPHOBIA”

  1. Droppy Says:

    A "virtual wall" is a concept, an abstraction, even a symbol. These are people who want to think of simple, material reality. A Wall is A Wall. There are people who think "I have to pay my bills and can't run up a deficit, so the government shouldn't be able to do so either." Everything is simple and explainable. All [whatever] people are [whatever trait]. They call this "common sense."

  2. carrstone Says:

    It's an action-packed election, isn't it?

    It's either
    BUILD A WALL
    or
    JUST LIE LIKE A BANSHEE, NOBODY CARES.

    It's going to be an interesting four years.

  3. Brian M Says:

    Except Carrstone, the Build A Wall side has also spent his entire life lying. Or isn't fraud "lying" in Moral Conservative Land?

  4. Jenny C Says:

    The most important thing I take from this is that there are only 9 weeks until the election and then this whole farce can be over.

  5. Greg Says:

    Trump has clearly enabled Carrstone to speak with his stupid and twisted ideas much more often; there's never been more trolling in these threads.

  6. Noskilz Says:

    I'm really looking forward to the post-mortem phase of the Trump campaign – there will be the usual problems of figuring out who is spinning to what degree to disentangle themselves from the wreckage, but there have to be some fairly interesting stories in the mix. Not that the general outlines are likely to be much of mystery.

  7. democommie Says:

    @Greg:

    I'm fairly certain that Crappstain's idiocy was well established prior to the Rise of Trump. That is not to say that he's not even more obnoxious than he used to be.

  8. schmitt trigger Says:

    Reminds me of Pink Floyd's album.

  9. Nate Says:

    I love it when people point out that Hillary has told a lie or two in her life and turn a huge blind eye on the fact that 90% of the things out of Trump's mouth are obvious lies.

  10. Major Kong Says:

    "Fixed defenses are monuments to the stupidity of man"

    General George S. Patton

  11. Emerson Dameron Says:

    @Droopy:
    It's a lot of the same people who don't really grasp American *ideals* or ignore the ones that don't serve their immediate interest, but scream like teakettles as soon as someone disrespects a *physical* US flag. It's adorable.

  12. Emerson Dameron Says:

    DROPPY, rather.

  13. X-RWU Says:

    Actually, if we're discussing HIM again (yes, Trump), then there's a $0.02 which I'd like to throw in?

    Has anyone read or at least heard of this novel "Caliphate" by Tom Kratman? It's a dystopian future, about a century from now, where Europe is mostly an Islamic continent and the United States became a true warmongering imperial power following a nuclear terrorist attack. But skip to the middle of the book with its many excerpts from a faux history book, and it mentions the rise of a President who talks and acts very much like Trump, or vice versa. It's so similar, it's unnerving.

    But otherwise, great novel. It's also free on Amazon (the publisher, Baen, is quite generous and does this with a number of their books; take advantage of it!).

  14. Sluggo Says:

    That wall in China sure kept the Mongols out.
    The French are eternally grateful for the Maginot line, it sure stopped the Germans.
    Third times the charm, right?

  15. Sluggo Says:

    The Trump crowd sure doesn't know their audience. Trying to sell a virtual wall to people that believe the book of Revelation is "how to" manual ain't gonna happen.

  16. Leading Edge Boomer Says:

    Sorry to introduce quantitative information here (as of 8/30), but the entire notion about a "wall" is just piss. Following ongoing presidential election forecasts, projected EVs, and odds of winning, from experts:
    http://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2016-election-forecast/
    http://election.princeton.edu/todays-electoral-vote-histogram/
    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/upshot/presidential-polls-forecast.html

    538: 330-208 77.5%-22.5%
    PEC: 341-197 95%-5%
    NYT: 341-197 88%-12%

    538 is most volatile, PEC is least volatile. Their related but different methodologies are available for scrutiny at the websites.

    There is little quantitative discussion of the composition of the next Congress, but two early projections for a Senate controlled by Democrats vs. Republicans (including a possible 50-50 with VP Kaine breaking ties).

    PEC: 73%-27%
    NYT: 56%-44%

    Early voting begins September 23 in MN and SD, and in more states after that. The D campaign continues its early GOTV efforts, while the R campaign does not since their candidate is behind.

    When I shared this with my niece, she thanked me and said she could now go back to her standard nightmare of showing up entirely unprepared for a college final exam ;-). We all have our standard, comfortable nightmares.

  17. catbirdman Says:

    Sluggo, they know their audience like they know the skidmarks in their shorts. They're struggling to come to grips with the fact that their audience ain't all that big, and everything they do to expand that audience just pokes the bear that is their base. It's fun to watch!

  18. joel hanes Says:

    I want to buy Trump's contributor list.

    I'll bet I could skim a fortune off the response
    if I offered them the chance to buy
    a Personalized Brick In The Wall
    With Their Very Own Name
    Engraved In Gold-Toned Letters

    because all in all

  19. Talisker Says:

    I am really glad the Trump campaign is making pitiful, doomed attempts to pivot towards the centre.

    They are far, far behind in the polls (as Leading Edge Boomer notes). Victory may be out of reach, but they at least want to avoid abject humiliation. Their options are to either pivot and try to look somewhat responsible, or double down on the crazy.

    If Trump cranks up the racism and conspiracy theories any more, some of his crazier supporters might start shooting people (or making plans to do so after the election). Probably the temptation will prove too much between now and Election Day, and Trump will dial up the crazy anyway. But every day he doesn't do so, is one less day he has to incite people to violence.

    @Leading Edge Boomer: Yeah, Clinton's probably got this. But the odds of getting the bullet in Russian Roulette are 16.7%. We're still allowed to worry about Trump.

    @carrstone:

    JUST LIE LIKE A BANSHEE, NOBODY CARES.

    In Irish folklore, a banshee was known for making accurate predictions. Just saying.

  20. carrstone Says:

    @talisker
    I prefer the accurate definition

    As POTUS, if her record is any guide, she'll create ample opportunity to wail about the good men she'll be sending to their death – and those she already has.

    Banshee and hawk in one – is that unique? .

  21. Major Kong Says:

    Oh that's rich.

    Suddenly a Republican is complaining about someone being a hawk.

    This is probably when I hear: "I'm not a Republican! I'm a Libertarian! (I've just voted straight-ticket Republican since sometime around 1980)"

  22. Talisker Says:

    @Major Kong: Indeed. At worst, Clinton might be a hawk on the model of Richard Nixon. This would not be a good thing. But someone has to be in charge of the nuclear button, and better Nixon Mark II than a spoiled toddler.

  23. ronzie Says:

    @Jenny C: The most important thing I take from this is that there are only 9 weeks until the election and then this whole farce can be over.

    Yes, and then we begin the farce of the permanent committee to investigate President Hillary Clinton until she leaves office.

  24. Matt Says:

    I dunno, a wall sounds pretty useful – all we need to figure out now is how to get all the Trumpkins to stand close together while we build it around them. See also the was-humor-at-the-time-isnt-now Squidbillies episode "Fine Ol' Solution".

  25. Dave Dell Says:

    What's always puzzled me is the idea that a "rising tide lifts all boats" makes sense when the rising tide is the wealthy. It always seemed to me that the rising tide was good jobs for everyone that make the wealthy yacht owners yacht float higher. I wish Sen. Sanders had directly said, "When everyone does better we all do better. Rich and poor alike."

    Another thing that bugs me (too much time behind a windshield this last weekend) is that the typical young, white, male, Trump supporter has no money for dental work for his children or birth control for his girlfriend but, apparently, has lots of money for tattoos.

  26. c u n d gulag Says:

    This circus sucks!

    I'm glad that there's a woman Ring Master.
    But the clowns on the other side aren't funny.
    They also don't elicit any pathos.
    They're just pathetic, unfunny clowns.

    I must have foreseen this GOP primary and its "Presidential" candidate since I was a little kid.
    Clowns always scared me.

    If John Wayne Gacy were still alive, he'd be a spokesperson for t-RUMP!

  27. geoff Says:

    Sad!

    (Believe it or not, Glenn Beck has floated my favorite Trump Conspiracy Theory: the Giant Evil Baby's entire campaign is merely preliminary publicity for the "alt-right" cable "news" channel he and Ailes and Breibart guy are going to launch after the (blown, but so what?) election. It's gonna be YUGE!)

  28. HoosierPoli Says:

    Carrstone:

    As long as we have a Democrat in the White House, who will never compromise with Republicans and veto anything and everything they try to pass, I'm happy.

    I'm not a Democrat, by the way, but the Republicans have proven that they will nuke the planet if given half a chance, and an unlikeable, dissembling, mediocre politician is the only thing standing between the world and their Jesus-loving, science-denying, gay-curing dystopia. Thank God for Hillary Clinton.

  29. Major Kong Says:

    Hillary is more hawkish than I like, which is why I went for Obama over her in 2008.

    Still, the worst Democrat is better than the best Republican in my book, and Hillary is far from the worst.

    Plus the thought of a Republican President rubber-stamping every crazy bill Ryan and McConnell send their way is too terrifying to contemplate.

    Then there's that whole Supreme Court thing.

    Throw in the fact that Trump is such a truly awful candidate and it's a no-brainer. You couldn't pay me enough to vote for Trump.

  30. Skepticalist Says:

    I'm with you HP

  31. carrstone Says:

    @HoosierPoli
    We're between a rock and a hard place when it comes to electing a presidential candidate, alright – a sorta 'damned if we do, damned if we don't' situation.

    In my eyes, Hillary's experience as SecState is a burden, a shawl of shame, not the boon progressives cheer about.

    For once not only the Daily Beast [http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/01/14/face-it-a-vote-for-hillary-clinton-is-a-vote-for-war.html] but even that leftist rag, the Huffington Post, is raising a warning finger [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elizabeth-shakman-hurd/will-hillary-clinton-lead-another-war_b_9378252.html].

    The blithe acceptance by the left-wing tribes of their leaders' indictable behavior is more reminiscent of the Eloi mind-set than of the thinking man they like to pretend they are. I pity them their thinking that, as progressives, they're above the fray.

    Please don't base any retort on the character of Trump; we're not kids in the school yard.

  32. Major Kong Says:

    Yes, much better we elect the con-man reality-TV star with no government experience whatsoever to the highest elected office in the land.

    I mean, really, what could possibly go wrong? That last "CEO President" sure worked out well and at least he was a state governor.

  33. Tim H. Says:

    Chances are a Trump – Pence administration would be heavily Mike Pence, as Trump's attention span would be insufficient for the task. Pence looks like he's capable of a great Nehemiah Scudder impression, something no libertarian should want. I shudder to imagine Trump attempting actual diplomacy…

  34. mothra Says:

    their leaders' indictable behavior

    Explain please, what you mean by "indictable behavior," Carrstone. I presume, of course, you are federal prosecutor and well-acquainted with the statutes under which criminal indictments may successfully pursued?

  35. Gerald McGrew Says:

    Two things I never thought I'd see, but am seeing in this election….

    1) Republicans criticize a Democratic candidate for being too hawkish, and

    2) A Republican candidate running on "Hey, that Russian despot isn't so bad. We should align ourselves with him!"

    And I wonder if this election goes as it looks and becomes a blowout, will Trump run for the GOP nomination again in 2020? I can see his ego pushing him to do so, but what would the GOP do?

  36. Robert Says:

    It's occasionally challenging for me to remember that all of this is really actually happening. Gerald McGrew, you neatly summarized why.

    Carrstone's evocative use of 'indictable' reminds me of the steady stream of FB posts by Trumpets and Bros alike that Clinton was going to be indicted any. . . day .
    . now. No, now. Wait, this time we mean it! Strangely, they've mostly quieted down about it.

  37. Nunya Says:

    Xenophobia describes the irrational fear of foreigners. Xenophobia has become a synonym of racist or bigot. But let’s consider, for a moment, that being a xenophobe might actually be a rational position.

    I attended college during the Clinton era in the early 90’s. I was steeped in neo-liberal economics. My professors, who had mostly been raised in middle-class, blue collar families, expounded on the virtues of freeing factory workers and laborers from the toil of their jobs. They would all become knowledge workers and sit in comfortable offices producing high value-added products and services and, simultaneously, would lift developing nations out of poverty by providing them with industrial employment opportunities. This sounded wonderful to me. I remember cheering the passage of NAFTA as an enlightened moment for the country. Imagine how much happier all of those poor factory workers were going to become when they started working in tech jobs.

    Well, we know how that worked out. Factories closed, maquiladoras opened up just across the border. Companies reaped huge profits but wages continued to stagnate for those who could adapt to the new knowledge economy and plummet for those who couldn’t.

    For a few years, it was boom time in tech. The Internet provided huge opportunities for those who could learn how to write code. Even without a technical degree, I got my chance to make some real money, for about three years, when it all came crashing down.

    During this brief rush, congress vastly expanded the HI-B visa program arguing that there weren’t enough skilled workers to fill the jobs. Those of us who witnessed the people who were hired into these positions can attest that these were not the best and brightest. They were mediocre, for the most part and had to become indentured servants to the companies who sponsored them. Unlike American citizens, they couldn’t quit if they found a better opportunity and if they complained and got fired, they had to return to their home countries.

    Meanwhile, unlike factory work, knowledge work is really easy to outsource. It doesn’t require a large capital investment, it just requires an internet connection and Skype. Those glorious tech jobs are now open to citizens of any country in the world. The fact that people in those countries will never buy the finished product is irrelevant. The fact that a reduction of the earnings of Americans will inevitably cripple the market on which these companies depend was never even considered.

    While it’s easy to dismiss those who want to build a wall, either physical or metaphorical, as being xenophobes, it’s worth considering that they are essentially fighting to protect their means of survival.

    Not all fear is irrational.

  38. Vinny Says:

    @carrstone Your incoherent prose is perfect for facebook. Go there.

  39. Safety Man! Says:

    @ Talisker

    Sad to say, after the rise of what we're calling the alt-right now after Pres. Obama won 8 years ago, I've made sure to check and clean my firearms every Election Night in case any Tim McVeigh-wanna-be's try to start Christendom or whatever. It's less of a concern for me now that I don't live in GA anymore, but I still think about it.

  40. Nunya Says:

    They made some bank off of their Ballard house though.

    Bought for $250K in 2000, sold it for $750K in 2016

  41. Emerson Dameron Says:

    @Nunya:

    Correct me if I err, but aren't most of Trump's fans established upper-middle class? I thought most of the true free-trade skeptics were "BernieBros." It's an entirely healthy impulse that has almost nothing to do with crime, rapists, or the fearmongering the New GOP is doing this year.

  42. Nunya Says:

    I am in no way defending Trump but the impulse to protect one's livelihood is hardly irrational.

    I think one of the weak points in the Democratic agenda is that it has long since ceased to be the party of the working class. The GOP has used the most base fears to sell its agenda while the Democrats have ignored the fact that neo-liberal economics have caused real devastation to a lot of workers.

    If we're lucky, this election will put the final nails in the GOP for a decade. If the Democrats want to keep moving forward, they may have to start looking at the need to provide some level of protection of jobs and some sort of plan to maintain and expand the middle class.

  43. Todd Ernst Says:

    Of course, we already have a wall on the border so it seems like a moot point.

  44. Emerson Dameron Says:

    @Nunya:

    Completely agree.

  45. UKJim Says:

    An oldie, but still good, and relevant

  46. Khaled Says:

    @Nunya, etc.

    The "build the wall" isn't really about NAFTA, per se, it's about the anger at "foreigners". Those illegal immigrants who steal jobs while leeching benefits or something. Never mind that pre-9/11 two-thirds of all illegal immigrants overstayed travel or student visas, and that post-9/11 that number is between 40% to 50%. Most of those immigrants disappear into immigrant communities in US cities. The real exploitation of workers are by those that hire illegal immigrants. Read the NYTimes piece on nail salons in NYC or look at the stories of people that are working in the meatpacking or agriculture industries.

    The companies that benefit from these loose rules have always made the US's immigration laws a joke. If you want to reduce the number of illegal immigrants, simply take away the market for them being hired. Enforce the laws that are on the books with real penalties, not just deport the workers who will be quickly replaced by other workers. The "goal" is often to do just enough to appear that the INS (or ICE, etc.) is trying to deport people, but not do a good enough job to stop the flow of cheap labor.

  47. Benny Lava Says:

    "As POTUS, if her record is any guide, she'll create ample opportunity to wail about the good men she'll be sending to their death – and those she already has."

    That's rich considering Trump has promised to start a ground war in the Middle East. What could possibly go wrong there?

  48. Major Kong Says:

    @Nunya

    I was working in IT back when H1B visas became a "thing".

    I think you're exactly correct. Some of the H1Bs I worked with were pretty sharp but a lot of them were very mediocre.

    They were indentured servants. If they lost their job they had two weeks to find another employer or they were sent home.

  49. Anonymous Prof Says:

    @HoosierPoli:

    "the Republicans have proven that they will nuke the planet if given half a chance"

    Hear, hear. Want specifics? Ted Cruz was very casual about his attempts to wreck the (global?) economy vis-a-vis the debt ceiling.

    I am with Chomsky on this- if Trump wins, it will quite literally be the end of western civilization. Trump's stance on global warming is, I quote now, "Global warming? Give me a break."

    The stance of conservatives on global warming always freaks me out. My Racist Dean would always give a little fuck-you smirk when he talked about it. "Sure, global warming is real- but it's a natural phenomenon! There's nothing to worry about- you're just ignorant!"

    Every time I meet a conservative who thinks global warming is no big deal, he has about six kids. Right now, the best-case scenario is that at least a few US cities will be under water in 100 years. Not just Tuvalu, mind you- my racist dean smirks when he says Tuvalu will be under water, because they're brown.

    You would think that with six kids you might feel a responsibility to study these things a little more carefully. Or at least realize that "it's a NATURAL disaster, dumbass- nothing to worry about!" doesn't do your kids much good.

  50. Brian M Says:

    Matt: I have a terribly juvenile sense of humor. I LOVE Squidbillies. As a black metal damned evil person (my wallpaper was a photograph from Columbian-American devil metal band Inquisition until I replaced it with an even more evil image-a Trump rally) my favorite episode was The devil Went Down to Georgia.

    Plus, Unknown Hinson is a hilarious combination of Johnny Cash and Lurch.

  51. Anonymous Prof Says:

    @Nunya:

    "If we're lucky, this election will put the final nails in the GOP for a decade. If the Democrats want to keep moving forward, they may have to start looking at the need to provide some level of protection of jobs and some sort of plan to maintain and expand the middle class."

    Don't be ridiculous. Why would the Democrats want to keep moving forward if they're the one party in a one-party state?

    Just keep hoping we don't end up with the Democrats being socially liberal and economically conservative, and the GOP being the other way around. So, you can vote for full-throated racism and homophobia and jobs, OR you can vote for civil rights and sending jobs overseas to places like Foxconn.

  52. Delbort Says:

    The stated purpose of the H1B visa program is to fill positions that are otherwise unfillable, but in practice it works to dilute the wages of skilled workers. Wages for programmers and other nerds are already low due to competition from outsourcing, they can be brought even lower by importing those people from overseas and paying them far less than market wages.

    Another tactic is to talk constantly about a shortage in the labor pool. Soon, people will be packing undergrad programs on the advice of college counselors and a glut of new graduates allows companies to lower wages further. I live in Baton Rouge and see the chemical plants doing it all the time: building a STEM center for middle school kids who live in white neighborhoods, billboards everywhere advertising the shortage of skilled engineers and chemists needed to run the plants yet when you apply "we're not hiring right now."

    Wages are just too damn high, man. How are these billion-dollar companies going to survive unless they pay the people who actually do the work less and less? Capitalism won't die because of Communism, it will die because people have no money to buy goods.

  53. Eau Says:

    @Nunya: Xenophobia is irrational, by definition. At best, what you describe is misplaced fear. The villains, the ones to fear, are those who sold the 'free trade' magic beans. People like trump. If xenophobia is providing scapegoats for and blinding these people to the actual source of their woes – again, people like trump and his republican colleagues – doesn't that qualify as wholly irrational?

  54. April Says:

    I've been saying for years that we could stop illegal immigration in its tracks by simply having one rule – if a company is found to have even one II, the CEO goes to jail for 10 years, no exceptions.

    Problem solved.

  55. April Says:

    And don't talk to me about H1B visas. I used to work for a research firm. They would tailor a job in such a way that ONLY this one Chinese biologist could possibly be qualified, at which point the poor guy got a third of the salary an American would have gotten.

    I guess being over here making 10 times what the Chinese are paid is a form of revenge.

  56. Nunya Says:

    Eau,

    Xenophobia is irrational, by definition. Perhaps we should consider using a different term for the fear of unbridled foreign competition that lowers the standard of living for the vast majority of a person's country.

    Of course this is the fault of large companies that lobbied to be able to strip mine the world in search of cheap labor. But tell me, is the guy who dedicated his life to working in a textile mill or in a meat packing house supposed to know that when he's walked out by security after 30 years of service?

    I'm not a conservative by any measure but I am capable of having empathy for those who became conservatives after feeling abandoned by the Democratic Party who, honestly or not, let them slide into obsolescence and left them primed to blame their lot on foreigners who they probably have never had any contact with.

    I may not have much in common with these folks but I understand that I'm only two generations away from dirt farmers. I wish the rest of the highly educated could appreciate that there, but for the grace of God, go I.

  57. mago Says:

    Look, as long as the 9th and 18th holes and all the fairways in between are maintained and manicured, who gives a shit? Hey, boy, bring me another drink.

  58. Eau Says:

    @Nunya: I think I understand, and appreciate, your point.

    I worry that in times like these, many of us may try to empathise with this sort of thing too much, and it turns into a sort of patronising apologia for reactionary… Well… Xenophobia. I think the line between 'understandable' and 'justifiable' can become blurred.

    The problem isn't the xenophobia itself. The problem lies in the fact that this xenophobia, this irrational fear of those who are different, is used as a tool to manipulate the xenophobic.

    Maybe we can coin a new term for 'completely rational fear of shitty international trade agreements that fuck over workers here and abroad for the enrichment of literal human garbage who contribute nothing to the greater good'..?

    Apologies for the somewhat half baked and rushed reply, btw.

  59. Khaled Says:

    @Nunya

    In regards to NAFTA and Manufacturing jobs, the data does not support that conclusion. The percentage of people employed in manufacturing jobs has been decreasing for decades. 1970 26.4% of the workforce was in manufacturing jobs. In 1994, when NAFTA was passed, the number was 15.4%, and in 2010 the number was 10.4%

    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/USAPEFANA

    If you look at total number of manufacturing jobs, yes a huge decrease in jobs happened, and it started in January of 2001 but NAFTA went into effect Jan 1st, 1994. It doesn't take seven years for a factory to be built. January of 1994 there were 16,855,000 manufacturing jobs. Jan 2001, 17,104,000. Jan 2004, 14,290,000 and finally Jan 2010, 11,460,000 jobs.

    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MANEMP

    NAFTA may not have helped the US manufacturing sector, but the data does not back up the idea that once NAFTA was passed that all the jobs left. Currency manipulation in China, increase in manufacturing in India, Bangladesh, etc., plus the increases in efficiency in sectors such as retail may also be responsible for decreases in manufacturing in the US, not just NAFTA.

  60. Skepticalist Says:

    Dear Paul Ryan:

    I need 1/2 trillion dollars to start my 2,000 mile all white tourist attraction. Be nice. I know we have had our difficulties.

    We're gonna fix this thing where financing begins in the House someday. American government is run by sex offenders, money launderers and science deniers…some of them are good people though.

  61. Brian M Says:

    Even absent shitty international trade agreements, I fear that automation, outsourcing, artificial intelligence, etc. will continue to decimate the power of "labor" in the economy. I'm not sure there is a solution, because Marx was right on this at least. It's a fundamental fact of capitalism. Even if we didn't have "trade agreements" at this point in history, the Chinese actually have better factory technology, the infrastructure for manufacturing, more engineers, the better trained or at least pliant workforce (and even Chinese factories are automating as wages began to rise…at least the jobs not now trickling away to Burma or Vietnam), and a lack of environmental regulations that would make a North Carolina Republican Governor scream in ecstasy. And Hillary is certainly not going to solve this. Got to keep the paper profits flowing to the spreadsheet diddlers until they have sold off everything to the Chinese.

    No easy answers. I am certainly not calling for "revolution" or "dictatorship of the proletariat" or any of that nonsense, but Capitalism does what Capitalism does.

  62. democommie Says:

    Blaming the Democrats for the current situation is silly. For at least the last 40 years, the PartyOGOD, in its increasingly bizarre iterations has made it increasingly unlikely that anyone who isn't further to the right than Otto von Bismarck will be elected outside of places like NYC and other major dem controlled urban centers.

    I have a visceral enmity for those turncoat fuckwads who call themselves "Blue dogs". A better label would be "Gutless, motherfucking, lickspittle opportunistic scumbags". It's just my opinion, but it's the only one I give a fuck about.

  63. Skepticalist Says:

    I think I got now……

  64. Tim H. Says:

    Brian M, yes job loss from automation was inevitable, offshoring was an additional twist of the knife.

  65. Aurora S Says:

    I would think that if the Dems were to have forsaken the unions, it would be the result of not actually being able to get anything pro-labor passed in Congress in its recent incarnations, and possibly also with a tasty side of fear of being called a Socialist and/or not wanting to offend the conglomerate that owns them.

    There's been an interesting "race to the Right" within the last, oh, fifteen years or so. Someone on the Right accuses someone on the Left of being a Socialist, the Lefty says, "No!!! Here, let me show you my creamy conservative center!", repeat until everything has marched Rightward off a cliff. Bernie had a nice, refreshing answer to the accusation; "Yeah…so? Let's move on to policy and talk about actual things." And everyone was STUNNED. I believe this is what "moving the conversation to the Left" meant; contrary to conventional wisdom, being called a Socialist didn't ruin his political career–he actually did pretty well, so let's not be afraid of the dirty s-word and actually do things.

    You know, provided that all of this isn't just a load of disingenuous kabuki theater in which the Dems benefit from the same deregulation/pro-business bullshit the GOP wants due to their socioeconomic status and therefore dick around and pretend that they don't have it together enough to stand up to them, reaping the fruits all the while.

  66. Scepticus Says:

    Off-topic: when did G&T stop not being a bank, Jerry? Only today did I notice Ed's new profession.

  67. Mo Says:

    Scepticus – "War is just a hobby." –Major Kong

  68. Donny Says:

    I wonder how much of this may have been an over-reaction to so many men having been in the armed forces in WW II. Unless you are a fairly high-ranking officer, one is seldom alone. In the Navy aboard ship, you were never alone. As an enlisted man, you could find yourself sleeping in a barracks with people that in civilian life you would have crossed the street to avoid. After all that, the idea of being by oneself could be mighty attractive…..