Satire, sarcasm, and (at least attempts at) social commentary in art are so familiar to us today that it is difficult to remember that there is a time at which it was new and unfamiliar. This is one reason why really old attempts at comedy and satire seem startlingly unfunny to modern audiences. The legendary British architect Sir John Vanbrugh, for example, rose to fame not by drawing buildings but by writing the comedy play The Relapse. It featured characters with names like "Sir John Brute" and "Lord Foppington," in addition to a lecherous character named, I shit you not, "Fondlewife.
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" It feels like being hit over the head with a blunt instrument to read it today. But in 1696, when audiences would have very little exposure to any attempts at satire or social criticism, it came across as not only the peak of cleverness but also as a breath of fresh air.

Molière's Tartuffe (1664) is among the more popular examples of this generation of totally ham-fisted satires today, and at least people who consider themselves kinda fans of theater or the classics have probably seen or read it. Tartuffe is a hypocrite, a faux-pious, thieving, wife-stealing fraud whose charms, long story short, lead to an important and successful but dim-witted gentleman named Orgon falling under his spell. No amount of evidence from his children or friends (who see through Tartuffe easily) can convince Orgon that not only is Tartuffe a piece of crap but that, specifically, he is trying very hard to bone Orgon's wife Elmire. In what feels like it might be a climactic scene, Orgon's son tricks Tartuffe into confessing his love ("love") for Elmire. Yet instead of casting Tartuffe, who pitifully and quite insincerely weeps over his own sinfulness, out of the house, Orgon responds by disowning his son and making Tartuffe the beneficiary of his will. You know. Because it is easier to believe that his son and the evidence right before his eyes are lying than to admit that he was wrong all along about Tartuffe.

It isn't until later, when Orgon is hiding under a table upon which Tartuffe mounts and nearly penetrates his wife, that Orgon finally sees the light. And for brevity I won't even get into the second half "box of blackmail letters about traitors" subplot, but let's just say there's an angle that works there too.

We have been playing a very tiresome and disingenuous game for over a year now with the "moderates" in the Republican Party about Trump. They have stuck their head in the sands and plugged their ears and averted their eyes as every obvious red flag was presented for their consideration repeatedly. Hey, this guy is a sociopath. Hey, this guy is a white supremacist. Hey, I know you and I don't agree about a lot of policy things but I would like to think we at least agree that a president who openly wants to be a dictator and who wants nothing more than constant adulation is a bad thing. Hey, I know you really want that 4% tax cut but maybe electing this lunatic is too high a price to pay. Look at all these things he says. Look at all the evidence. Please, just think about this for a moment.

What we got was every excuse on Earth in repetitious quantity. He doesn't mean what he says, he's just trying to get attention. He only says that to shock you.
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He's a smart man, look at how rich he is. This is just the campaign, he'll behave differently once he's president.
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Congress will control him. He's not really like that. It'll be fine. It'll be fine. It'll be fine.

The one positive to come out of the last five deeply alarming days for this country is that there is no longer any cover left for conservatives who want to insist that they are Republicans but you know, reasonable ones, not one of those loony Trump people. As we have transitioned from "It's not fair to smear the alt-right as Nazis" to "OK I guess they are actually Nazis after all" so too have we transitioned from pretending that Trump is somehow unserious or ambivalent about his statements of support for them. As hard as it is to believe that adult human beings saw him retweet white supremacists during the campaign convinced themselves that this did not mean he was a white supremacist, those people exist. Maybe they're dumb, maybe they're intelligent people who fooled themselves. I don't know. But we're done with that now. The president says and tweets white supremacist stuff because he believes white supremacist stuff.
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He calls torch-waving Nazis wearing swastikas and chanting "Jews will not replace us" "fine people" because he doesn't see anything wrong with their viewpoint. It's what he thinks. Period. It isn't a game or an act or a publicity stunt. This is who he is.

The question is, what now? Conservatives who have spent all this time defending and making excuses for him have a choice. You can pull a Bill Kristol and try to salvage some shred of dignity by throwing in the towel and going the "This Nazi is destroying the party I love" route. Or you can continue to support and provide cover for an actual white supremacist, a course of action that does not prove but at least really really strongly suggests that you are, if not a white supremacist yourself, more than willing to let a white supremacist run the country if you think it will benefit you somehow. But the third option of sticking your head in the sand and pretending he's not really a racist or there is no PROOF he's a racist is no longer available to you. This weekend took that away. Unlike what happened in Charlottesville, this really is an issue with two sides now, and the side you choose is going to say a lot about you.

83 thoughts on “PRESIDENT TARTUFFE”

  • When people, for whatever emotional or psychological reason, ascribe imaginary powers to an imaginary personality, we call that religion. When they ascribe imaginary powers to a real person, we call that a cult. The Republicans in Congress are like the smug, and fatally wrong, pols in Germany who thought they could use the clown Hitler and his thugs to fend off the Communists. I get that–as you say, they think they can control the thug Trump to get their tax cut.

    It's the cultists I see on occasional Twitter replies that amaze me–the ones who just type MAGA and other stupid, amply-disproved or ignored slogans. They'll stick with him to the end, the way Jim Jones' people stuck with HIM to the literal end. I suppose that once you invest what you feel is the best in you–your hope and idealism–in a fraud, you get irreparably broken.

  • I played Orgon in my college's production of TARTUFFE a few years ago, and, being a 'serious' actorly type, did a little thinking about why someone as legitimately accomplished as Orgon (who's established as a brave soldier, responsible landlord, and all-around self-made man) would be duped by Tartuffe. And I realized: it's not that he's stupid–it's that he's succeeded so easily and thoroughly in everything he's ever done that his life has lost all meaning. Retired at middle age, he turns to religion in order to feel something, anything–in order to have some sense of purpose or significance in his life.

    Most of this is irrelevant to the average supporter of Trump (although, hang on), except for this: the irrationality of Orgon's belief in this fraud is only explicable by a desperation in the rest of his life. Moliere was satirizing upper-middle-class despair as much as he was religious hypocrisy.

    This, it strikes me, is not irrelevant to the average supporter of Trump.

    I'm not, to be clear, suggesting that we pity or sympathize with the Trump supporters–as you say, they've crossed over into essentially genocidal thinking. (Note: 'being fine with genocidal behavior from your political allies' is entirely morally equivalent. Seriously, fuck you.)

    But I'm making the perhaps obvious point that you don't fall for Trump unless your life SUCKS. I'm thinking especially of those suburban Trump voters–you know, the ones who are the ACTUAL Trump supporters–not the bullshit stereotype of the trailer-park Oxy-head, but the ones who live good, pensioned lives in the relatively affluent areas of their states. The ones who 'got theirs,' and, having retired, don't have anything to do with themselves.

    So they listen to Fox News. Which, like Tartuffe, sells them a terrible lie that they embrace completely because if they had to stop listening to it, they'd be faced with just how fucking EMPTY their lives are. (Seriously, American suburbia is a stunningly sterile world–it's the cultural equivalent of–pun intended–white noise–initially soothing, quickly maddening.)

    Trump wouldn't be where he is without a populace already primed by the other Tartuffes–Murdoch, Ailes (Burn In Hell), and the Talk Radio brigade–to believe a lie that gives meaning to otherwise desperate lives. Because you don't chase fear and anger–as those who embrace Trump and the Fox worldview do–unless the alternative is even worse: the silence of your own, empty life, and a death that'll render that life meaningless.

  • This is exactly why I was geeking on last November here about how closely the Trump voters matched the Romney and McCain voters, both quantitatively and demographically. Yes, the EC outcome turned on a couple of hundred thousand votes (and possibly on suppressed non-votes) in a handful of swing states. But that worries me less than the 30 million or so allegedly non-"base" GOP voters who showed that THERE IS NO LOWER BOUND for them in a GOP candidate's character, coherence, understanding of policy, or relevant experience.

    There's really no justification any more for the idea of Trump's "base" — the archetypal raving Fox News shut-in or 4chan lulzster — as distinct from that perfectly nice Bennigan's manager next door.

  • The best play I ever saw at Stratford was their production of Tartuffe.

    Republicans have been playing this wink and nod game since Nixon started using the Southern Strategy to win elections in the 1960s. They've just become too stupid to cover their tracks anymore.

    The game is up. It's just a matter of how they reposition themselves as a party.

  • Any excuse for not openly condemning the Alt-right's actions in Charlottesville, or railing against Trump's pointed support for white supremacists puts you squarely in the, "I'm OK with this" category. We need to start confronting silent duplicity wherever we find it.

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    Every president since Washington was a white supremacist. Washington was a slave owner. Jefferson was a serial slave RAPIST. These were not moral men. Obama was willing to throw his own pastor of 20 years under the bus, a week after promising not to, in order to get a taste of that sweet, sweet white power. And then, when he got there, he had the sheer audacity to suggest that maybe we'd be better off with just a LITTLE less white supremacy, and the Nazis and Klansmen and evil fucking pukes, who for the first time in their lives, thanks to Obama, were able to purchase health insurance that covered accidentally shooting yourself in the dick with your bullet-dick, decided to show their gratitude by LOSING THEIR GODDAMN MINDS!

    Still, Trump is the first president to openly support the genocidal variety of white supremacy, so he still wins the "shittiest president and most godawful excuse for a human being since Hitler, Mao and Stalin" award.

    His supporters will NEVER stop believing in him. If he EVER leaves office for any reason other than natural death, they will roam the streets murdering black and brown people and Jews until the bodies are piled like firewood in the streets.

    At this point I'm hoping that someone in the Secret Service remembers what happened to Indira Gandhi, but Americans tend to forget history.

  • Don't presume that what is obvious to you is in any way perceptible by others. This is the mistake everyone made when they assumed Trump could not possibly win.

    Don't presume that Trump's affinity for racist, fascist, dictator-loving morons will turn people in Alabama and Mississippi, among other places, against him. What you see as a bug they see as a desirable feature.

    Don't presume that Republican politicians are going to join together to do anything about this. The clock is against it; it's going to be hard enough enacting any of the legislation they want before they get tied up in 2018 electoral politics. If they impeach Trump or try to 25th Amendment him somehow, there's absolutely no chance they'll get anything done. At this point they're starting to worry about saving their asses in 2018, and anything they do to him makes it harder for them to avoid getting swamped then.

    Finally, one thing I have learned in nearly sixty years on the planet is that people hate admitting they are wrong worse than just about anything else, and will go to great lengths to avoid admitting that what is right in front of their nose actually exists. The country is full of Orgons insisting that there is no such thing as climate change, that millions of people voted illegally, that Trump is not a racist, that the protesters in Charlottesville are not haters, they are just trying to preserve their heritage, and that the antifa counter-protesters are just as bad as the people carrying the Confederate battle flags and swastikas.

    This is not over, not by a long shot.

  • "Retired at middle age, he turns to religion in order to feel something, anything–in order to have some sense of purpose or significance in his life."

    Consider that purpose is lie we tell ourselves because our Self has no meaning. Learning to accept this is very hard in this kind fad-based society. Consumption is our purpose.

  • @cromartie

    I would argue that Republican brazenness is not at all stupidity, but the result of an eventual lack of necessity for any pretense. The Southern Strategy worked because (white) America is racist as fuck and always has been. They've been slowly cranking up the heat because white supremacy is a helluva drug, and why would you stop doing something that works so well? And it's being packaged as some sort of "freedom" to be the white supremacist so many white Americans have been all this time. As far as I know, this is the only truth that Republicans have to offer; 'deep down, you're a racist'–and they are here to love you for who you 'really' are.

  • Kevin sez: "Don't presume that Republican politicians are going to join together to do anything about this. The clock is against it; it's going to be hard enough enacting any of the legislation they want before they get tied up in 2018 electoral politics. If they impeach Trump or try to 25th Amendment him somehow, there's absolutely no chance they'll get anything done."

    This dawned on me yesterday. They will do everything they can to look the other way until after next year's mid-terms. After that, they'll dislocate their shoulders raising their hands to get rid of Trump. I wonder how much Mueller cares about this fact. I have no theory.

  • Gerald McGrew says:

    Nothing will change in the GOP until there are electoral consequences. As long as they are in almost complete control of the federal government, why would they change?

    Remember the GOP's "autopsy report" after the 2012 election, where they seemed to acknowledge the need to not be as racist? How'd that turn out?

    Kevin is right……this isn't over, not by a long shot. It won't be "over" until they're voted out, AND KEPT OUT. As recent history shows, as soon as we let our guard down they just come back stronger and more outspoken in their racial views.

  • Indeed the question is what now?

    You don't appear to have any alternatives or solutions you'd like to proffer and the man was chosen legitimately and legally.

    Go on calling people Nazis or 'deplorables' and the like and you can't then pretend surprise when they act accordingly.

    I guess I contributed to that in calling the anti-fa "fascists".

  • You really want an autopsy look at what we're up against? Read Sapolsky's latest, Behave.

    I console myself with the fact that 63 million of us demonstrably did not succumb to racism, misogyny, and authoritarianism.

    But will we prevail over the other 60 million? Starting to look like Cultural Revolution trench warfare coming? Millions die?

  • Today I asked a man – a successful, middle-aged, Californian Trump voter – if he was still happy about Trump. This was someone who, when I worked with him about 10 years ago, was a business moderate Republican in the Romney vein.

    He said, of course! I'm just concerned that Hillary still hasn't been locked up for colluding with the Ukrainians and letting North Korea get the advanced nuclear secrets! Your side sure does love to switch topics when things don't pan out. The Russia thing just sort of disappeared so now they're on to the racism. But just wait until they find out that she ordered that hit on Seth Rich for leaking those docs to the DNC.

    He's not a Fox News watcher, as far as I can tell. He just doesn't live in the same reality as we do.

  • he is emboldened and made excited by Charlottesville. That warrants Capitalization.

    As with Poe's Law, Carbunkle's Law suggests that it is often impossible to tell the difference between the true carrstone and a faux???? Carrstone. And it does not matter, because both express the same awful things.

  • He nailed the predictable, "It's your fault I'm acting 'deplorable'! You called me one so I had no choice but to act like one! *What did you expect?!*" excuse. Aren't these people supposed to be the Last Bastions Of Personal Responsibility?

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    @Aurora S: Nailed it. If wishing made it so, I'd have a lot of money considering how many times people have called me a greedy Jew. :-)

  • Aaron:

    My brother told me it was the Godless Commie Chinee that Hillary sold out to! For campaign cash!

  • Speaking of Chinee, we finally now have (legal) American beef. This was negotiated under Obama but of course rump is taking credit for it.

  • Karl Kolchak says:

    Bill Kristol has no dignity. He is a man who pushed policies that have murdered hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians all across the middle east and North Africa. In fact, Trump can be viewed as the evil perpetrated by neoconservatives like Kristol, and their liberal interventionist allies like Obama and the Clinton, boomeranging on America with a vengence. After all, it was the profound cynicism generated by the Iraq War and the bank bailouts that created the political climate that led directly to Trump.

  • "Yeah, but it's still better than Hillary." -The final defense of the indefensible, and also the first defense and most of the middle ones.

  • Perhaps we should all take Klu Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke’s (R-Racist) example and thank the resident for his honesty and candor, for making things perfectly clear. No ambiguities, no beating around the bush, no bullshit. For bringing it all out into the open where we can all see it. That the illegitimate resident of the White House, his administration and everyone who supports him are Confederates and Klansmen; white nationalists and NAZIs. Are Racists with a capital R.

  • I hate to agree with Carrstone (or at least the one claiming to be him, assuming it's not an imposter as someone else has mentioned), but he's maybe onto something there. I once heard a similar quote in a story I read once, where a fed-up character finally ranted at another: "Keep treating people like your enemies, and they really will become your enemies!"

    Maybe some of those white supremacists were indeed fed the steady, unending diet of racism with their mother's milk in whatever part of the South or flyover country they grew up in, but I've also seen examples about how some white people, who previously had no problem with darker-skinned people and just wanted to get along with them, but were constantly hit over the head with "white guilt" BS. To be told over and over again that you're icky and bad and irredeemably evil just because you're white and no matter what you do it will never be enough to make up for whatever crimes white people have committed in the past (even if your white ancestors never did anything wrong and may in fact have been victimized themselves). I've also seen examples of well-intentioned white people, who considered themselves allies to movements like OWS or BLM, get shoved aside and automatically accused of being racist or clueless just by being white. Dare I say it, perhaps the Left is creating its own enemies by telling white people how awful they are. Maybe that's the idea. The Left isn't trying to end racism, it's just perpetuating it.

    I hate to say it, but maybe it really has gotten to the point where blacks and other non-white minorities have just become as bad as racist whites, if not worse. Just ask that one BLM guy who shot all those cops in Dallas a year ago, or that mentally challenged white kid who was abused by four black kids and was forced to drink toilet water.

    You think I'm making this up? There are entire lists and profiles and articles of whacko Lefties (especially college professors) who preach this stuff to their classes all the time. (And especially those who are white themselves… gee, if that's how they feel, then why don't they give up their own jobs or houses or cars or whatever so some less-fortunate minorities can have them? Lead by example!)

    Make no mistake, I hate the Right plenty, I'm not defending them, and I never voted or supported Trump (I myself am Jewish and disabled, among other things)… but I'm starting to hate the Left just as much for its own share of crimes and sins. And refusing to own up for those mistakes is at the top of the list.

    (And I'll be AMAZED if anyone actually fully reads my comments and seriously thinks about them instead of just jumping down to the reply box to chew me out.)

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    X-RWU: There aren't two sides here. And fuck you for saying there are. You're a Jew who apologizes for those who would murder us. You should be ashamed!

  • Andrew Laurence: HA, I fucking knew it. I just knew someone would go straight to bashing me for not going along with it. Can you read? I JUST SAID I'm not defending the Right, I hate them too, never voted for or supported Trump. And no, I'm not ashamed, because I've done nothing wrong in plainly stating some truths which some might find inconvenient, so fuck YOU.

    Yes, Virginia (er, Andrew), it IS possible to criticize the Left without defending the Right at the same time. As for "two sides here" I'm not defending either one and am condemning both (as opposed to the usual "Both Sides" people who just brush it off as if to say, "Eh, what can you do about it?").

    In fact, if it makes you feel any better, here's another example of the above: Just as how Democrats were stupid to blow off white people as a voting block instead of welcoming them into the fold, Republicans have been guilty of the same crime for years when it comes to young people. I've commented here before on all the bashing of young people like Millennials by older folks (who tend to lean Democrat and Republican especially). If Republicans had any fucking brains whatsoever, they would have stopped with the Millennial-bashing and kicking-them-while-theyre-down, and instead worked on ways to convince younger folks of voting for them, instead of just sitting back and bitching and moaning about how they always vote Democrat.

    And that actually leads me to another point: Part of how I found this blog in the first place was through other blogs denouncing the higher education scam, and guess who profits from that? Not the Republicans and the Right, but the Democrats and the Left.

  • "Blacks have become as bad as racist whites…" I hope this is the single stupidest fucking thing I read all day, but I doubt it!

  • Schmitt trigger says:

    "Finally, one thing I have learned in nearly sixty years on the planet is that people hate admitting they are wrong worse than just about anything else,"

    I am 61 and have witnessed the same scenario over and over.
    And the worse the error is, the deeper they will dig their heels.
    They may be witnessing götterdamerung in their faces, to no avail.

  • Brief note aboutTrumps supporters being flyover country, the South, etc.: In all my travels across this nation, the most racist people I have ever met belong to Pennsylvania, followed by Maryland. Tl;dr stop pretending it wasn't your neighbors that voted for Trump. Creating this Other ignores all the local elections we're losing.

  • I'm gonna pop in and say that while saying minorities have gotten "just as bad" as racist whites is ridiculous, I am a white dude who despises Trump and I find the "rabble rabble white dudes are the worst" rhetoric that pops up somewhat often whenever a conservative white man does something awful to be fairly alienating, and I'm sympathetic to begin with. I can only imagine how people who don't start out sympathetic take that kind of stuff.

  • x-rwu – Actually, your tedious jeremiad just made me sleepy. Not enough substance to merit a response…

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    @marcion: Now THAT I can agree with.Stereotyping is never good, but I try not to take it personally. These Klan types, on the other hand, wouldn't like a black man who sucked their dick and cupped their balls while calling them massa.

  • Barkus Annointo says:

    Obligatory 'I hate Trump & the white supremacists as much as any of you other gazebos here' clause. But this is an anecdatum in support of marcion & X-RWU. I started out as a hippie, but have gradually been alienated by this or that faction of the left over the years, without ever coming around to agree with any traditional conservative or republican tenets. The election of Trump only confirmed my suspicion that this is not the America I thought it was. The enlightenment really was just a French intellectual fad which happened to be popular among the men who wrote our founding documents. It is a fine ideal, I guess, but it never really caught on here.

  • Assholry, including racism comes naturally to people, it takes effort to not be that way. When people can't be bothered to make the effort, let's call it mental flaccidity. Seems to be a lot of that going around.

  • Pretty sure that most of our GOP Congressmen and women are OK with white supremacism, especially if it provides cover for and distraction from tax cuts and the gutting of environmental regulations for their patrons in the energy, ag, and financial industries. As Gerald McGrew points out, THEY'RE WINNING. No reason to change things now. Racism: it's a feature, not a bug. As far as I'm concerned, this shit's been pretty out in the open since Saint Ronnie opened his '80 presidential campaign in Philadelphia, MS, where the Klan, a MERE FIFTEEN YEARS EARLIER, had murdered three civil rights activists, and talked about "states rights".

  • The Palace Cat says:

    67% of Republican voters approve of the way 45 handled Charlottesville. They are the party of white supremacy, full stop.
    I am amazed at the display of white fragility in the comments today. Do better, people.

  • @Ten Bears, RE: "That the illegitimate resident of the White House…"

    Trump is many horrible things, but 'illegitimate' is not one of them. You may not like the Electoral College system, but it is the system that has been in place since the beginning, and it is the system under which all previous Democrat presidents have won where Hillary failed.

    Stop burying your head in the sand. Stop hiding behind some silly notion that Trump somehow stole the election or didn't win by the same rules that every other president has won by. By making excuses for it, you only make it harder to win next time, as you will fail to play the correct game again. You don't correct Trump by throwing up your hands and crying "Not My President!", you do it by finding a candidate that can defeat him under the established rules of the system.

    The fact of the matter is, there are people in this nation that have spent the better part of five days defending Actual Neo-Nazis, or at the very least trying to find ways to excuse the defense of them. Those people vote, same as you do, and you've got to find a way to put up bigger numbers than they do. Ideally you'd convince some of them to vote for your side instead of their current side, but that's going to be very difficult when a good chunk of them see very little wrong with what went down in Charlotte.

    To mirror other sentiments in this thread: telling potential allies that they are horrible people for not towing your exact line is NOT a winning strategy. The current American Left is beginning to have the problem that the American Right had years prior, where ideological purity is the enemy of building a voting block large enough to win elections.

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    The Electoral College system is corrupt and undemocratic, and anyone who wins under it but fails to win a majority of the votes cast nationwide is not a legitimate president or vice president. This would be equally true had it happened to my candidate, but you know what? That would never happen.

    As for winning Nazis and white supremacists over to our side? I don't think that's possible, and frankly I'm not interesting in trying.

    And it was Charlottesville, not Charlotte. Different city, different state, about a 4.5-hour drive in favorable traffic. Try to keep up.

  • Especially given that Charlotte is a headquarters city for bank fraudsters and casino gamblers (i.e., the finance "industry"). The finance industry has probably indirectly killed more people than meth and herioin producers put together I am rhetorically guessing. :(

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    @Brian M: If you oppose the finance industry, what's your plan for getting money to people who need it to build businesses, get educations, and buy homes, and for providing investment opportunities for the people who have that money lying around? Or are you just opposed to capitalism?

  • @J. Dryden Your comment is a thoughtful and nuanced expression of things I've been mulling over and trying to express without coming off as some kind of both-sider. While realizing that there are a great many white supremacists (sheet wearing or not) and screaming Nazis, etc. among Trump voters, none of those really describe any of the few that I know. I can, however, look at them and easily find elements of the sucky-life aspect. Why some people deal with that by turning to authoritarian hate and ugliness and others don't is another matter.

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    @Prairie Bear: I think it's hopelessness. They want jobs, not handouts, but there are no jobs they can get where they live, and they don't have enough money or social support to go live somewhere else. Trump promised he'd bring the jobs back, and they believed him, not because the promise was credible, but because they had no other hope. They're not the ones to blame. This is on the prosperous white conservatives who could have voted for the prosperous white conservative candidate, Hillary Clinton, but instead chose Trump, possibly because they're scared of Muslims or because they always vote Republican, or both.

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    It's time we admitted that Republicans do two things well that we do poorly:
    1. Unify behind their nominee, and
    2. Turn out to vote whatever the weather.

    There's nothing wrong with taking a lesson from our opponents. I recommend we do so posthaste. Obviously if you are a Clinton voter, as I was, I'm not talking about you specifically. But the "Bernie or bust" crowd, harmless in states like California, really fucked the country over this time.

  • What Kevin and Geoff said. Also, random fact: when I led bike tours in France, I used to bike through a little town in Provence called Plan d'Orgon over by Cavaillon. Does it have anything to do with the character in "Tartuffe?" Dunno.

  • @Andrew Laurence: That kind of thinking, along with nonsense about the "popular vote," is a textbook example of how not to win a presidential election. Legitimacy is a legal concept, and the law of the US is the electoral college. It's not going anywhere, ever, no matter how much people in large, coastal states want it to, so we can either work with it or continue to get rolled.

    There appears to be a kind of logic error creeping into discussions about El Cheeto, that the people who elected him are some sort of monolith. This is no more true of the R party than the D party; both are messy alliances of varied and often contentious interests. Some republicans are actual white supremacists and others are fellow travellers. Some voted for him in the primary and others voted republican because that's what they do. Most cannot be carved off to support a Dem but a significant minority can. What is important is knowing how to do so.

    I'm uncertain exactly what that formula may be, but I do know what it isn't:
    1. Disgust with Cheetolini as an individual.
    2. Disgust with Nazis.
    3. Fear of Russian influence.
    4. White suburban Romney voters.
    5. Whining about the electoral college.

    I'm of the firm opinion that tribal loyalties harden (and racial tensions heat up) in times of existential scarcity. The Other is a convenient scapegoat now for the same reason it was in 1930's Europe – economics. Were I looking to make the GOP's divide and conquer/southern strategy a permanent winning bloc could think of no better way than 40 years of upward redistribution.

  • Andrew Laurence: Credit unions, small banks (enforce restrictions on bank size), postal banks like found in some European countries.

    I am skeptical that much of the "exotic financial engineering" big banks engage in does what you claim it does. It's all about fees, management costs, rent collecting, and gambling all the way down-like turtles. I am skeptical that much of the FIRE does anything productive other than encourage oligopoly, short term thinking, and productivity free speculation and gambling.

  • Wow. Yves over at Naked Capitalism has closed comments due to the "stuff" related to Charlottesville.

    I have to admit I was shocked at how many defenders of The Lost Cause and how much Both Siderism came out…even from sources (like Fabius Maximus) that I somewhat respected.

    Those poor, poor Neo Confederates. We should be ashamed of ourselves for attacking their White Christian heritage!

  • Terrific blog as usual, but in response to your first point about heavy-handedness, I would submit Aristophanes. At least in translation, Lysitrata offered considerable wit and even a chortle or two, if I remember right. Cultural history isn't always linear.

  • "Keep treating people like your enemies, and they really will become your enemies!"

    The assholes that carry weapons to "peaceful rallies" and salute the Nazi & Confederate flags will never be anything BUT my enemies.

    As to dissing the Millenials and others who chose not to vote or threw a vote away in a state where it actually mattered–when are you people going begin to understand that hijacking parties is a good way to wreck a party?

    The GOP was already pretty much fucked, but now it's fucked and knows that there's no going back.

    I've never voted for a refucKKKliKKKlansman and I never will.I also will not vote for anyone but a democrat UNLESS it's obvious to me that they have a shot at winning and aren't trojan horses (which we have had too many of in local politics, of late). My city councilman is a turncoat Ben Campbellwannabe motherfucker who I have not said two words two since he switched parties just before the last election (he was running unopposed) because he wanted a job at the county which is pure patronage driven.

    So, piss and moan all you want about the "olds" not being in touch but understand that if you've got nothing to bring to the party that will survive committee meetings, you're not gonna get a lot of traction with the "olds".

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    @Brian M: On this we agree wholeheartedly. The purpose of a financial system is to make money available to those who need it and compensate those who have it for lending it to them. Derivatives, options, and other bullshit like that serves no one but the bankers.

    My book club, whose members are all slightly to the left of me on most issues, really enjoyed the book we just finished, "Naked Money" by Charles Whelan. He's a Dartmouth economics professor who used to write for The Economist, and he does a great job of explaining the financial system and how money works (and why commodity-based currencies like the gold standard are a terrible idea, upon which economists of all political views agree completely) for the educated lay reader.

  • @GunstarGreen – Thank you, you put it probably more eloquently than I could have done.

    And as for this whole thing with the electoral college, I'm just SMH at how all these people on the Left immediately decried it as obsolete and a throwback to a bygone era just because they lost. Would they have said the same thing if they'd won with Hillary? I very much doubt it.

    @democommie – I wasn't talking about the KKK or Neo-Nazis or any of those guys; trust me, I would be absolutely ecastic if they all disappeared or dropped dead or whatever, because they'll always be my enemies too. I'm talking about your average joe who just wants to have a stable and happy life in the USA. I'm talking about open-minded impressionable young people (especially white males) who want to integrate and live peacefully alongside everyone else without being scapegoated for everything wrong in the world and everyone else's misfortunes.

    Still, this blog post was originally about stupid Presidents, so let me just say it: Before Trump, there was Obama. No, seriously: Watching Trump get elected President was like watching Obama get elected President all over again, except this time it was the other way around with the victorious Right overjoyed and the defeated Left despairing. Before Trump's vague slogan about "Make America Great Again" and all the crazies on his side, there was Obama's vague promise about "Hope and Change" and all the crazies in his corner. Etc, etc, etc. (Still, Obama was a much better orator and speaker.)

    And I haven't even gotten started on all the stupid stuff which Obama and his followers did which helped undermine themselves (such as threatening to riot if their candidate lost, and then wondering why gun sales consistently shoot through the roof).

  • X-RWU.

    I agree with some of what you say but reject outright that the "craziness" on the left has anywhere near the numbers and power and ideological coherence of the right. And the mythical all-powerful all-seeing Soros doesn't count.

    And I live in the outer Bay Area, where there is a contingent of crazy people I hesitate to call "leftist" as they have no coherent political ideology beyond Hulk! Smash!

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    @Brian M: Exactly right. What passes for a "left" in this country is Bernie Sanders, who wants us to have all the nice things Europeans have enjoyed for two generations without their societies crumbling into penury. No comparison for the people who have openly stated their intention to murder or deport anyone less white than a sheet of copy paper. And Jews.

  • Brian M., Something tells me we could argue all day about which side is "crazier" (and thus more dangerous) but the Left's own problems are not something to be ignored. Although now you've got me curious about this "contingent of crazy people" in your area.

    I probably should have said this sooner, but in the days immediately after Trump was elected, I was as depressed as anyone else around me (I live in a consistently blue state, FWIW). But my sympathy for some evaporated when I saw many on the Left use it as an excuse to cause violence and viciously attack others, leading all the way up to Inauguration Day and still going on beyond that. You don't think those on the Right are meticulously recording all these words and deeds to use against them in the future? All the threats and assaults and hoax hate crimes and such?

    Anyway, if I can try to end this comment on anything resembling an optimistic, hopeful and feel-good sentiment: Others above expressed outrage at the idea of being anything remotely resembling friends or allies or fellow voters with white supremacists like the Neo-Nazis, KKK, etc., on which I wholeheartedly agree as it would be a VERY cold day in Hell when I ever join them on anthing. Still, instances of such people "seeing the light" and abandoning those ways do happen; rare, but not unheard of. Look up former skinhead Frank Meeink. For anyone who doesn't mind browsing some library or bookstore shelves to find, look for the book "Chicken Soup for the Jewish Soul" and read the entry "The Cantor and the Klansman" by Kathryn Watterson (itself adapted from her book "Not by the Sword: How a Cantor and his Family Transformed a Klansman"). I'm not sure precisely why I'm mentioning this here; maybe I myself am just trying to be positive.

  • Andrew: Would it surprise you if I told you that I voted for Bernie in the Democrat primaries? And as for what you say about what the Europeans enjoy "without their societies crumbling into penury"… what would you say to claims made by critics that their systems truly are unsustainable and will most likely collapse within our lifetime at this rate?

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    @X-RWU: I can only speak for myself, but I've always been opposed to the Electoral College, no matter who wins. Obviously I'm more energized about it when my candidate wins the POPULAR VOTE by 2.9 million votes and we give the presidency to the other guy. That's fucked up. We have the technology to count the votes nationwide for this nationwide office and award it to anyone who gets 50% plus one vote. If no one gets that, we could have another election or ranked choice voting or any of the other awesome voting systems I learned about in my second-favorite political science course, on voting systems. I liked it because it was mathy. The president isn't the president of any states, he's the president of all the US population.

    As for your "average joe" who's sick of being scapegoated for all of society's failings, that scapegoating is just talk. Real power still lies firmly in the hands of cisgender, heterosexual, mostly white (21.1% Ashkenazi), married men like me. If you don't want to hear that talk, don't listen to it (I don't), but don't act like your world is crashing down because a half-black dude who became president for a minute politely suggested that perhaps we could be a little better if we had just a LITTLE less white supremacy.

    As for your false comparison between the "OMG a black man became president and we're all going to FEMA camps and he's taking our guns" crowd and the people like me who were rightly terrified for our lives when Trump was elected (by your definition of "elected," not mine), and are even more so now in light of recent developments, we were scared of THE THINGS HE PROMISED TO DO IF ELECTED, not some right-wing wet dream that doesn't even pass the absurdity test. Obama never said he'd put us in FEMA camps or take our guns, but Trump DID say he'd require Muslims to register with the government, and then he DID try to bar Muslims from seven (now six) countries that have NEVER produced a single terrorist who carried out an attack against the US from coming to the US even though they have valid visas. And he did nominate, and the Senate did confirm, a Supreme Court candidate so laughably unqualified that DURING his confirmation hearings the existing Supreme Court ruled UNANIMOUSLY to overturn one of his appellate court decisions. I understand that rulings are overturned all the time, but if ALL EIGHT justices, including Thomas and Alito, think you fucked up, maybe you should look for another job, no?

  • @Brian M

    I was on a layover in Marina Del Rey (tough gig but someone has to do it).

    I stopped by the "9/11 was in inside job!" booth at Venice Beach. Because apparently I enjoy pain.

    It was as you described. The woman had no identifiable political ideology that I could discern other than something about a "shadow government" and she really, really hated Hillary Clinton.

  • @Andrew: First of all, I NEVER said I liked the electoral college or defended it; I actually agree with you that it's a very bizarre system and really makes no sense. I was just pointing out how Democrats and the Left were fine with it so long as they won elections, but immediately (or almost immediately) denounced it the moment they lost one in 2016. You can actually see, side-by-side, Slate's articles arguing for it in 2012 and against it in 2016.
    And it sounds to me like you're projecting the "angry white racist" stereotype onto me. I could care less what skin color Obama (or any President) has; I don't care if it's black or white or pink with purple polka dots. My world certainly didn't "come crashing down" as you say when he got elected; it crashed along with the economy and the agony has been prolonged ever since. No matter how hard I work or try, the economy still stinks and I can't seem to get anywhere.
    And when did I ever say anything about conspiracy theories like the FEMA camps, let alone believing them? In fact, I hate Alex Jones and his ilk (and always have as long as I've known about them), in no small part due to all the bigots and racists they attract!

    As for the thing with Obama and guns, here's what might have sparked the gun-buying craze and fears that he would become a tyrant: Not just his followers making threats to riot in the streets if he lost, but also Obama himself once saying something like "We need a national civilian security force large enough to rival the military". So of course this led to fears that he would create his own version of the Gestapo, ranks filled with devout followers. Yes, I'm sure these same Obama-hating, gun-toting crazy people would have looked for any excuse to stock up on guns and ammo, but you must admit, saying stupid stuff like that DOES NOT help one's own cause. Can you imagine the reaction if Dubya or Trump ever said anything like that? Well, maybe you can, given all the stupid things which the latter said on the campaign trail…

  • "Obama himself once saying that he was coming for their guns" is not a real policy promise until it is amplified and bull horned throughout the conserva-sphere by extremely well funded media conspirators.

    I'm sorry, your counter examples just prove my point.

    And I despise much of the social justice stuff that IS out there. I just think it is laughable to equate the power and reach of shaven head Evergreen State College sophomores to the increasingly crazy Republican Party (and yes…that was an awful example. I do agree with you that this was one contributing factor, but one of the reason it worked so well is the Right Wing amplified it so well. And the "victims" were so willing to believe it.

    Because not being 100% in charged and favored is oppression, man. And Barrack HUSSEIN Obama is coming for mah guns!

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    X-RWU: I'm sorry I misunderstood your position on the Electoral College. I've believed it to be stupid and unnecessary my entire adult life, but only recently have I realized how undemocratic it is. This has nothing to do with whether it benefits my candidate or not, but as I'm sure you're aware, it virtually never does. Most of the time, the EC and the popular vote align, so there's no practical value in arguing about how stupid the EC is, because it's the same either way.

    I also in no way intended to project the angry white man stereotype onto you. I'm sorry the economy has been so rough for you. It's been booming for me. Literally the only thing the downturn did to me was enable me to buy more Vanguard S&P 500 shares with my biweekly 401k contributions, and when the share price recovered, I was golden. Oh, and my house went down in value, which resulted in lower property taxes, and the interest rate on my 15-year fixed mortgage is comically low. The last time we refinanced, our payments went down so much, we could finally have earthquake coverage (terrible coverage, but the difference between utter ruin and being sort of okay if our house is reduced to matchsticks but the land remains buildable after the debris is hauled away, which is included).

    My wife and I stayed steadily employed, albeit at stagnant wages (which was actually a slight increase during a time of deflation), and we noticed that our bosses started treating us a little worse because they knew we had little option but to stay in our jobs, but by now that's all turned around. We both work in those rare IT jobs that are paid by the hour but offer a full benefit package worth about 30% of our base wages, and at least for me, plentiful on-call and overtime opportunities, at least before the budget for overtime runs out halfway through the year and the boss cracks down, which just means I enjoy my life more and the work goes undone, and my manager, not me, takes shit from the customers.

    May I ask what line of work you're in and what general area you live in? I'm fully aware that things are rough in many parts of the country, but if you're a skilled IT worker in the Bay Area, the sky's the limit. If it's none of my business, that's fine, and please pardon the intrusion.

    As for the FEMA camps, again, I never meant to insinuate that you believed in such claptrap. You seem far too intelligent. My objection was that it's a false equivalence to label the people who feared Obama to the people who fear Trump. One feared an outlandish plot that literally no one in their right mind could believe for a second, that had not a shred of evidence to support it, and that was basically, "OMG the president is a MUSLIM NIGGER!" The other side feared things that the candidate promised to do during the campaign, and then actually DID do once in office. It's completely illogical and unreasonable to equate those two things.

    Major Kong has it right: Trump will be, if he gets his druthers, the dictator that Obama haters thought Obama would be. He's just waiting to tank the economy on purpose so he can stir up Jew hatred, because that ALWAYS happens and has been for maybe 5,000 years now, every single time and in every single place. It's even more common than the blood libel (the "idea" that Jewish people make their matzoh from the blood of Christian babies), and believe me, if things go really pear-shaped, that bullshit is going to make an EPIC comeback. I guarantee it. And if he can't tank the economy, all he has to do is wait for whatever the Reichstag fire of our time turns out to be (probably another 9/11-size attack on our soil), and people will walk up to him and HAND him their civil liberties, and never, ever, ever expect (or get) them back.

    At this point our best hope may be that some of these Nazi white supremacist fucks are taking DNA tests and NOT liking the results. How uneducated do you have to be to think that your ancestors liked racial purity more than they liked raw-dogging it with whoever was convenient?

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    @X-RWU: And another thing: says that this formidable force would have been a doubling of the Peace Corps, creating volunteer opportunities, and increasing the foreign service. Hardly the gestapo, who were basically military police. Also, I never even heard this claim until today, so I'm not sure the knuckle draggers on the paranoid right did either.

  • Obviously then the 286,000 Google hits I got on "Silicon Valley Age Discrimination" are totally made up, or those people just don't have your truly incredible skillset.

    I saw it back when I worked in IT, which is one reason I don't work in IT anymore.

    Oh, that and I make twice as much money putting in half as many hours as I did when I worked in IT.

  • @Andrew Laurence and @Major Kong – You two are having the wrong argument.

    Plenty of people make lots of money in IT/CS, but it's a tiny fraction of the population and it doesn't scale up particularly well. I never begrudge anyone their paycheque but it's a social problem when all the gains are going to 10% of the population. Arguments about wages and age discrimination in silicon valley are an intellectual circle jerk.

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    @mojrim: I wasn't even aware we were having an argument. :-)

    I entered IT because it paid a living wage, held my interest, and was populated with smart and nerdy people whose company I enjoy. Everyone who's not a trustafarian has to do something to get money. I never suggested that everyone in IT makes a lot of money or that I don't care about people who don't work in IT.

  • @Andrew: "You seem far too intelligent." Wow, you really mean that? I'm genuinely touched. (I wasn't fishing for compliments.) To honestly answer your sincere and polite inquiry: I live on the East Coast and would prefer to start looking in and around NYC and its surrounding area before looking elsewhere. I prefer office work and can churn out paperwork and write/type like a madman, but I'll most likely never be an IT guy. My major is art history (boy, do I regret that now) which I only got because I went to college back when everyone was saying that it didn't matter what you majored in, so long as you got the college degree. My current plan is to keep the day job but produce whatever artworks or writing I can for money, but I'm certainly open to suggestions.

    My beef with the Left is how their own violence and destruction goes ignored while they fixate on the Right. I wanted to say something about it when Ed posted something immediately after Inauguration Day, which was basically something to the effect of "So what if their windows got smashed, they have insurance!" I especially wanted to say something after the "PERMISSION SLIP" post, in regards to how some types of people are tacitly encouraged to keep wrongdoing because no one wants to stop them. Sorry to say it, but all too much of that crap happens on the Left too. Case in point, look at all the hoax hate crimes, which have gotten more frequent especially in the past year. I will admit this is a very big pet peeve of mine, because not only do innocent people risk getting their reputations and lives destroyed by the hoaxers, and it makes everyone else more skeptical in the future, but such a hoax hate crime was once committed when I was in college BY MY OWN RA WHO WAS DARK-SKINNED HIMSELF.

    Still, I will say this: I would have preferred that Obama succeeded (as that would have been infinitely more preferable to him failing). I'm not even remotely the kind of person who would want to screw over countless people just to see one person fail and be humiliated.

  • One side breaks windows, and one side plows into crowds with their cars and stabs people in the neck and brings guns to protests in hopes of getting some flimsy excuse to shoot someone.


  • @Andrew Laurence

    And I'm genuinely happy for you. It's simply that your good fortune is not widely replicable, so talking about the conditions you find in the valley is an unhelpful distraction.

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    @mojrim: Good fortune of ALL kinds is not widely replicable, or it would be called "average fortune." :-)

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    X-RWU: I've heard that art history is a good undergrad major for law students, and I have kind of a soft spot for it because my first love (unrequited, sadly, but all's well that ends well) was an artist and an art history major.

    I put myself through college typing for other students, lawyers, etc., and my first job after college, when I moved to San Francisco in 1988, was in the word processing department of a medium-large law firm eight blocks from my $700/month apartment. Maybe your skills would lend themselves to designing and maintaining web sites, technical writing, or fixing all of the stupid spelling errors in the damn log files products like the one I support produce.

    You really have convinced yourself of the "both sides are bad" argument, it seems, and I'm not sure how to dissuade you. One side wants a white ethno-state and is willing to commit mass deportations and/or genocide in service of their goal, and the other side thinks this isn't such a hot idea and is willing to use force to prevent it from happening. Did you think we could defeat Nazis by locking arms and singing Kumbayah? Nonviolent resistance works with people who might possess a shred of humanity or compassion, somewhere down in their withered, racist hearts. It does NOT work with Nazis. It just means that we're sitting still all in one place and easier to kill.

    I don't know if you've seen Inglourious Basterds (sic), but it contains perhaps the best lines of any war movie ever:

    "My name is Lt. Aldo Raine and I'm putting together a special team, and I need me eight soldiers. Eight Jewish-American soldiers. Now, y'all might've heard rumors about the armada happening soon. Well, we'll be leaving a little earlier. We're gonna be dropped into France, dressed as civilians. And once we're in enemy territory, as a bushwhackin' guerrilla army, we're gonna be doin' one thing and one thing only… killin' Nazis. Now, I don't know about y'all, but I sure as hell didn't come down from the goddamn Smoky Mountains, cross five thousand miles of water, fight my way through half of Sicily and jump out of a fuckin' air-o-plane to teach the Nazis lessons in humanity. Nazi ain't got no humanity. They're the foot soldiers of a Jew-hatin', mass murderin' maniac and they need to be dee-stroyed. That's why any and every son of a bitch we find wearin' a Nazi uniform, they're gonna die. Now, I'm the direct descendant of the mountain man Jim Bridger. That means I got a little Injun in me. And our battle plan will be that of an Apache resistance. We will be cruel to the Germans, and through our cruelty they will know who we are. And they will find the evidence of our cruelty in the disemboweled, dismembered, and disfigured bodies of their brothers we leave behind us. And the German won't not be able to help themselves but to imagine the cruelty their brothers endured at our hands, and our boot heels, and the edge of our knives. And the German will be sickened by us, and the German will talk about us, and the German will fear us. And when the German closes their eyes at night and they're tortured by their subconscious for the evil they have done, it will be with thoughts of us they are tortured with. Sound good?"

    You know what ELSE besides hoax hate crimes has gotten more frequent in the past year (really, just since November 9)? REAL hate crimes. I'm sorry you had the experience you had in college, but college kids are just immature douchebags whose parents aren't watching them any more, and that's shit's gonna happen. It shouldn't steal the focus from the Nazis who murdered an innocent American patriot, caused another to have a stroke, and injured a couple dozen others less severely, all while stating ON CAMERA that they want a president MORE racist than Trump because Trump "gave" his daughter (as if she was his property) to a Jew.

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  • Thank you, Andrew, for summing it up so well. :)

    Again, I am no fan of SJW nonsense (although so much of that nonsense is amplified and distorted by the right wing (especially the men's rights trolls). But to even suggest that the propensity for violence is the same in modern America is laughable. Even in the context of the Bay Area where there is actual "left wing" violence.

    BUT…you know what…this may change. "The Left" may begin fighting back more?

    Meanwhile, the Kochs and their ilk will just sit back and laugh.

    Major Kong: It is indeed a tragedy you have left IT. You could be working on such life changing projects as an Ap for people too busy and too important to pump their own gasoline. I read the venture capitalists are a circlin' for this IMPORTANT technological fix!

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    There are actually TWO companies that offer "we bring gas to you." Filld serves San Francisco and the Peninsula, in which service area I work but do not live, and will bring gas to you wherever you are for a competitive per-gallon price and a $3 to $5 service fee. I used it several times when they were giving new-member discounts of 25% on the gas, and it was very reliable and convenient, but I'd never pay for this sort of thing when the cheapest gas station in town is not a mile from my house. Now I drive an electric car, so it's moot. The other one, Boost, is employer-driven. Your company signs up, and if they get enough people, they come to your office and fill you up. Not sure of the costs or service area.

    I've never found purchasing gas to be very difficult or time-consuming myself, but surely there are people who are both richer and busier than I am who constitute the target market for this service. I predict both will fail by the end of 2018.

  • @Andrew Laurence (and anyone else who still reads this): LOL, you're kidding about law school, right? THREE (3) law schools have shut down so far this year alone! (Granted, they were bottom-feeders who would take anyone with a pulse and a checkbook, but still…). In fact, it was the law school scam blogs which enabled me to discover THIS blog in the first place! Look up "Third Tier Reality" or "Outside The Law School Scam" or "Law School Lies" and see what you get. Still, don't get me wrong, I do appreciate the modest advice…

    And as for the "both sides" argument… no, that's never what I said, and certainly NOT as a weak justification or excuse; my stance is "neither side should be doing it."

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