Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Commended to your attention

Benjamin Wittes is basically a buttoned down establishmentarian -- he is famous for saying that Bill Barr is a straight shooter and deserved a chance to demonstrate his incorruptibility as Attorney General. Also centrist. But as such, and principled, his present commitment is to find some way to get Orange Julius out of office. His assessment of the current situation is deeply informed by the law and constitutional history.

He quotes Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 65:

The prosecution of [impeachments], for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influences, and interests on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of the parties than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.
Since there is no conceivable doubt of guilt in this instance, says Wittes:

Despite this era of shredded norms and broken taboos, it is still verboten to state what is so obviously true: “I refuse to support Trump’s impeachment because, however merited it may be, I am a Republican and he is a Republican and the advantage of my party would be ill-served by his removal—which might also threaten my own prospects of reelection, which depend on voters who like the president more than they like me.”

The most difficult question, to me, is why voters in Republican leaning places like the Resident more than they like their Senator. After all their Senator votes for Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade. Their Senator  has an A rating from the NRA and thumps the Bible. But their Senator generally speaks politely and in measured tones, doesn't threaten violence and hurl crude insults at enemies, doesn't claim to be entitled to sexually assault women, and doesn't overtly spew racism. Just a thought.


Don Quixote said...

Benjamin Wittes's article is fantastically well written. It makes so many important points, while looking both back in time and forward as well, acknowledging both history and consequences of our actions in this period of time. I urge all of the readers of Stayin' Alive to forward it to all they know who can read.

Sober Curious said...

That's a great question and one that seems to dog many pundits.

For more than 60 years, the federal government has been put on auto pilot with thousands of regulatory rules promulgated yearly having the force of law by unelected career bureaucrats growing the size and power of a centralized government. Many of Trump supporters felt there was no control, that the system was not responsive to them. These voters would support anyone that would disrupt that system.

Cervantes said...

That's the sort of twaddle we hear from libertarians, but of course it isn't true. The rulemaking process has extensive requirements for public participation, and regulations have to be based in authority given by congress. It just isn't feasible for congress to spell out all of the details of regulations, so they delegate to the executive, which is the basic structure of the constitution.

I'm pretty sure that Trump voters aren't up in arms about highway safety regulations, or clean air rules. I haven't seen any of the out protesting regulations. Trump doesn't rail against the EPA or OSHA or the SEC at his rallies, he insults immigrants and journalists and promises to bring back manufacturing jobs. Which of course he hasn't done. So no, I'm not buying that.

Sober Curious said...

I think you're making a strawman. It isn't only about the power of bureaus to micro-manage local issues. It's as much their rule-making power that affects the entire culture by their HR decisions and edicts.
Joe Blow from Georgia, Arkansas or Utah feels neither he nor his representatives have any input. He wants to disrupt the system.

Think of it as Cloward-Piven did. Just throw a monkey wrench(Trump)in it.

Cervantes said...

I'm sorry but that really makes no sense to me. What is it specifically about federal rule making that pisses off Joe Blow from Georgia? Banking regulation? The FDA? Since when do federal bureaucrats micromanage local issues? Possibly Joe Blow wants to dump toxic waste into the river and the government won't let him, but I didn't notice Trump running on that particular issue.

From what I can tell Joe Blow thinks there's a super secret welfare that only Black people can get and that's what pisses him off.

There's a guy here in my rural town who says he voted for Trump because the town made him get a permit for a gravel pit. That seems to be the intellectual level we're talking about here. And why don't Joe Blow's representatives have input? He has a senator and a representative.

Don Quixote said...

While I see SC's point, and the way propaganda works on uninformed, uncritical thinking, I agree with Cervantes that the fundamental racism--endemic to the founding of the USA--comes into play larger than any other consideration. It's what got Shitler elected.

As Lyndon Baines Johnson famously said, knowing and understanding the South and racism in the USA (and, by proxy, the racism of the midwest and of people all over the country as well):

"If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."

At the end of the day, people ignorant or angry or racist or in denial enough to be supporters of Donald Shitler care more about projecting their anger, etc. onto someone else--the "other" of the African-American, the Mexican-American, women, others perceived by them as "lesser"--than they do about real issues because they don't understand what makes themselves tick, and they don't understand history or anyone else's point of view. And that's why they can be manipulated, which is done best by the extreme, libelous, manufactured far-right.

Sober Curious said...

We agree that clean air and clean water, safety is not the issue that drives these voters.

Immigration policies certainly have an impact on our culture. Forcing standards that are not codified law onto contracting companies, schools and other local and state entities that depend on federal funds such as hiring practices race policies, minimum pay, etc. have a huge societal impact.

And when north of 90% of federal employees that donated more than $200 to a presidential campaign donated to the liberal party, there is little doubt where their hearts and minds are when making these policies. And yet no one votes on them.

While we may disagree on the exact reasons, I think we can agree that Trump's support is, indeed, emotional. Until Democrats understand the wants and needs of these voters, they will struggle.

Sober Curious said...

Another thought: Just chalking up this populism to "they're all just stupid" (about half the country) is ludicrous on its face and certainly not a winning strategy. And make no mistake, Republican politicians are ensconced in positions of power and are also the problem.

The allure of Trump was/is he is not a part of that machine.

Cervantes said...

I find it awfully hard to believe that people voted for Trump because federal contracts require non-discrimination in hiring and prevailing wage. That's an awfully far-fetched argument, especially because very few of these people work for federal contractors.

I didn't say people are stupid (although by definition half the people have below average IQs), but there are flaws in their thinking. It's called epistemic closure.