The decline to moral bankruptcy of the GOP


Trump is not a liberal, but neither is he the intended consequence of GOP activism. The party intended someone like Rubio or Cruz to be their leader. Trump was an unintended consequence of their political strategy, yes an aberration, although one that the GOP is still ultimately responsible for.


I guess I disagree. If you train your electorate to accept absurd lies in pursuit of racism and owning the other side, it is predictable that at some point the guy who tells the most absurd lies and promises the most racism and lib-owning will win. Sure none of us believed Trump would be that guy, but there’s a straight line from Bush 2 to Palin to Trump that is damned hard to deny.


No, he doesn’t.
He’s a good WRITER. His articles flow nicely, and are easy to follow… but they aren’t supported by data. He presents data that is related, but doesn’t actually constitute a logical support.

For his most recent piece, let me explain in detail, although to some degree I suspect this is futile.

He points out that the Neocons are the most intellectually consistent group of conservatives left. This is certainly true, as they actually have a basis in real intellectualism. There is some attempt at the core of it to make a real, coherent view of things. And really, I think that this is the thing that Yglesias actually means… not that they are truly consistent (as I suspect that he believes some of their views to be at odds with other views, as this is generally how you prove someone is wrong), but more that they at least CARE about being consistent. That is, they aren’t willing to just accept obviously contradictory perspectives, like Trump supporters are.

This is in stark contrast to the modern GOP, which is just an increasingly hypocritical and inconsistent mess of garbage. There is no actual logical framework within all the current crap fits. It’s self-contradictory, in the extreme, on everything.

Further, he interestingly also points out that the Neocons actually correctly pointed out, back in the 90’s, that this is what would happen to the GOP if they abandoned the intellectual underpinnings.

But the problem is that he then says, “It’s good that these guys are gone, because they are the most dangerous part of conservatism”. But this is entirely unsupported.

He points out bad things that happened as a result of their policy directives… but it does not logically follow that, because those bad things happened, that they are “objectively the most dangerous” conservative faction.

There are two fairly obvious points that makes this conclusion pretty obviously wrong. First, an intellectually consistent platform is inherently better than an inconsistent one (and one which simply does not care about inconsistency), because you can actually have a meaningful discussion with someone who respects intellectual consistency. You can point out inconsistencies, and in doing so, change their mind. If someone cares about logic and reality, then you can work with them and come to an understanding. This is, inherently, better than the alternative.

Second, and this one is the more obvious… is that some non trivial portion of the GOP, including the Trump administration itself, has essentially embraced authoritarianism and fascism. While we have not seen them actually seize power and implement that vision, YET, they are clearly being driven by those goals. And that faction is, objectively, more dangerous. Fascists started WWII. They murdered millions of people. Fascist authoritarians are infinitely worse than the Neocons.

Again, it goes back to this idea that, “Well, they haven’t actually destroyed the world YET, so they’re not as bad.” No man, fascists are more dangerous. If you go back to Germany in 1930, you wouldn’t say “Oh, well the Nazi’s haven’t done anything bad YET, so whatever!”

I mean, that is in fact what people said back then… but that’s the point. They were WRONG.

(and we don’t even have to get into the fact that some of the stuff Yglesias says is objectively false, from a purely historical perspective… like his characterization of Russia invading Georgia as " the small nation found itself paying the price for aggressive action toward Moscow." Because that ain’t how it went down.)


These two statements are inconsistent. You’re judging fascists by their results but saying we shouldn’t neocons by theirs.


No, I’m saying the opposite.

I’m saying that you need to judge the fascists by the fact that they almost destroyed the world.

That’s why they are more dangerous.


The Republicans are destroying the world with their constant attacks on climate change and the environment. They just don’t care because of the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.


This all gets down to the inherent difficulty and danger in evaluating things before the long term consequences are known.

Because both of these statements can (and I’d agree with those saying they are) true.

George W Bush’s presidency has had greater negative effects on our country to date
Donald Trump’s presidency has potential to eclipse those bad consequences by a very wide margin

Further I’d even add

George W Bush did enact policies that had a positive impact on the world

Is true. The AIDS in Africa makes that self evidently true.

It’s impossible to judge the effects, especially second order effects and non policy items, today. We now, over a decade on, have the room to evaluate many of those effects of the Bush II presidency. The consequences of the Iraq War are much more clear and stark today than even in 2008. The costs too.

So comparing the total cost and effects ofnthat choice to the current costs and effects of Donald Trump is a fools errand. Better would be to look at the current effects of the Iraq War at the time Sadaam was caught. What had the total cost, civilian and military, at that point? What were the effects? At that time it was possible to pretend things would work out fine, that we would be completely out of there in a year and Iraq would be stable and great.

Didn’t pan out, and it contributed to the conditions that allowed ISIS. But in 2003 we didn’t know that yet.

So it is with Donald. What is the long term consequence of his authoritarian leanings, his complete dishonesty and immoral actions, his flaunting of the laws on corruption and self dealing, his demagoguery and deceit?

We don’t know yet. And they could range from a fever that breaks, to the ending of the American experiment.

So comparing the total net effects of Bush II’s 8 years to Trump’s ongoing 2 is pointless. And I think that’s where the conflict lies. Timex is looking at the down the road potential, Scott and others are looking at the, as of today, actual. You’re arguing about different things.

In the end the comparison can only be done in hindsight. And there is an economics term I think is important here. Net Present Value. It is valid and fair to place some of the for Trumpism, Tea Partiers, etc on the GOP operatives of the Bush presidency. And claiming a line from GOP policy and rhetoric over the decades to the party of today is totally fair! But as you get further away in time, the portion of blame you can place decreases.

Is Nixon’s southern strategy integral to the party of today? Of course! It is impossible to understand the party of today without that. Can you place fault for the current tax policy on Raegan? Most definitely! Does each incremental step have a cumulative effect? Absolutely.

But how much blame can you back port? What is the responsibility of Nixon’s naked fearmongering over black America on the party of today? Well it’s not zero, that’s for sure, but while he gets special credit for laying the foundation for that, and the drug war ugliness, he gets only a fraction of the blame. How much does Raegan share blame for the trickle down chicanery leading to the current policy insanity? A fair bit for sure.

And it is those long term effects that are toughest to judge. Because while the above are all bad, the potential for Trumpisms authoritarian and deceptions can be so much worse.


Even if you wanted to try to equate ecological damage to literally murdering millions of people with guns and bombs, the fascists would still lose, because they ALSO want to fuck the environment.

But in this case, it’s actually doubly wrong, since you have Neocons like Max Boot who literally wrote a piece in the WaPo admitting that he was wrong about climate change. So at this point, at least some portion of that group actually is on your side to some degree about that too.


Really? How was he wrong?

He’s a smart guy, so I can’t imagine he actually believed that climate change was a hoax; which suggests that if he was a denier, he wasn’t wrong, he was lying.

On the other hand, I can find articles by Boot going back to 2007 where he seems to say climate change is a real problem. Was he ever actually a denier at all?


I love the response of “You can’t just admit error, you must admit that you are an evil person!”

So productive.

Here’s the piece, by the way.


It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.

Upton Sinclair


I read it. But Max hasn’t been a denier since at least 2007. When was he a denier?

Also, too: Do you think prominent deniers are wrong, or lying?


See, I don’t believe that the GOP - in years past - were attempting to actually foster racism. They absolutely attempted to harness racism going back to Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” in the 60s and continuing in an unbroken line to Bush Sr.'s Willie Horton ads and Palin’s “sekrit muslum” crap. I think they were generally happy (or at least not too upset) to count the Klan and white nationalists/Nazis in their ranks as long as they stayed generally quiet, but I genuinely believe that the GOP would have been even happier to jettison the racists and replace them with equal or greater numbers of minorities, should the opportunity present itself.

At the end of the day, the old GOP cared about their policies of fleecing the poor to enrich the already wealthy and reducing government services so that the wealthy could keep more of the fleeced cash. They would have been overjoyed to welcome black and Hispanics in support of that goal.

I think that HAS changed with Trump and his ilk though. Racism is now an unwritten but core platform of party… mostly because their attempt to harness racists in support of their policy ended up putting people in power for whom racism was the intended goal. When you sow the wind…


Have you ever talked, face to face, with a climate change denier?

They are not lying. They truly don’t believe it.


Yep. Even otherwise intelligent and very analytical people, like a guy I work with. Propaganda isn’t only effective against dumb people.

At least the goalposts have moved a little from “not happening” to “can’t be sure how much is man-made”. Yay? :(


Holy shit people, I can’t believe what I’ve been reading in this thread. I mean seriously, I think a relatively simple statement ended up argued in circles until some pretty astounding stuff was said. Let’s walk it back for a sec…

FACT : GW Bush was a terrible President. The reasons why have all been touched on upthread, including Iraq/Afghanistan, the horrific response to Katrina, crippling the U.S. economy and housing markets, etc…

FACT : GWB was not a one-man show. He accomplished all of this with the full support (and many would say under the control of) career GOP politicians and their allies.

FACT : The Republican Party did not suddenly become the party of racists, science deniers, misogynists and total morons overnight in November of 2016. It’s been happening over a very long time, even well before Obama’s Presidency, though that is when it seemed to accelerate at an exponential rate. Trump is the somewhat shocking yet somehow also not unexpected result of all of this.

ALSO FACT : Trump is WAY worse than GWB, and is, in fact, the worst President in the history of the United States.

Before you say “But Slainte, how can you claim that when Trump hasn’t killed thousands of American servicemen/women, ruined our economy or started a war we’ll fight for two decades?!”, let me explain.

All of those things are terrible, I agree. And yes, on the surface Trump has not done nearly the measurable, tangible damage that GWB or some other Presidents have done to the country in the past. However, Trump has done a different kind of damage, a damage that I would argue is far worse and far more difficult for our country to recover from. Trump has, possibly irreparably, damaged the fundamental tenets of American Democracy.

“Oh, but we can easily recover from that when we elect a Democrat as President in 2020!”. Can we?

  • Take a hard look at Michigan and Wisconsin right now. The GOP has lost those states, so they are actively attempting to sabotage the duly elected government that will take over after them. This is not normal. Do you think for one minute that Trump’s Administration will not attempt the exact same thing when/if they lose in 2020?

  • Look at the way Trump has continued holding campaign rallies around the country since winning the 2016 election. This is not normal.

  • Look at the way Trump, and now many members of the GOP, have directly attacked the media, even urging their constituents to verbally and physically harass the free press. This is not normal.

  • Look at the influence foreign powers have been revealed to have had over the 2016 election, and how much influence they continue to wield over our current President. This is not normal.

  • Look at the personal attacks leveled against Congressmen/women, government officials, media people and other public figures both in the mainstream media and over social media by The President of the United States through official U.S. Government channels. Look at how others in the GOP have picked up on that and begun using the same tactics. This is not normal.

  • Look at how a single media outlet has become both the defender of and the primary advisor to the President of the United States, feeding him an ideology held by a minority of the people he was elected to serve, and thereby making that minority ideology into official policy, circumventing every government agency and official tasked with supplying information and intelligence to the President. This is not normal.

  • Look at the systematic damage being done by Trump Administration officials behind the scenes in government agencies like the Department of Education, HUD, The Department of Energy, the EPA, the State Department, ICE, the FBI and others. Look at the Federal Court system and the lifetime appointees being placed on benches all over America, not to mention the SCOTUS debacle. It’s going to take decades for America to recover from the damage done at these agencies and institutions in just a single Presidential term. This is not normal.

So yes, when @Timex says that he thinks it’s kind of nuts to claim that it’s better to have Trump in office than GW Bush, I have to agree with him. Bush did a lot of damage while in office, of that there is no doubt, but he did it within the structure of the system. The mere fact that we were able to elect Obama and that he and his Administration were able to turn the tide on so many of the issues left behind by GWB is proof that American Democracy was still working as intended. Trump and the GOP he has emboldened are actively working to destroy the rule of law in this country, to tear down the fundamental building blocks of government and democracy, to strip the American people of their power to self-govern, and take that power for themselves, ensuring they remain in control in perpetuity.

This is not normal, and we should all recognize that our country is in imminent and unprecedented danger from these people. Trump and today’s GOP are the biggest threat to America since World War II, hell, maybe since the Civil War. There is simply no convincing me that what’s happening in American right now is somehow “better” than what was happening in America from 2000-2008.


Well said sir


I totally agree. Pence would be one of the worst Presidents in history but he’s still a whole category better than Trump. Trump would immediately weaponize the justice department and lock up all his political opponents if he could manage it, as we’ve seen him try already. This type of stuff is an entirely new ballgame.


This is the lie they told themselves to make themselves feel better, but of course it was only ever a lie. It went something like this:

Nixon 68: Of course I’d like to get more minorities into the party.
Ailes 68: You need the racists to get in.
Nixon 68: Do it.
Reagan 80: Of course I’d like to get more minorities into the party.
Buchanan 80: You’ll need to reach out even more to the racists to get in.
Reagan 80: Do it.
Bush 88: Of course I’d like to get more minorities into the party.
Atwater 88: You’ll need to a media campaign built around racism to keep the Reaganites.
Bush 88: Do it.

People who behave like that time after time after time may tell themselves they’re not responsible for racism. But they are, and they need to be called on it.


I was quite dismayed to stumble into such a conversation with my own brother, who I can attest is very intelligent and has a college degree.

He got stuck on things like the X number of climate scientists whose dissent was being buried or repressed or whatever, and then he randomly said ‘if climate change is such a problem, how come nobody’s talking about reforestation instead of reducing emissions?’ See it wasn’t in the spirit of really looking at the science or evaluating best solutions (for all I know reforestation may be a good piece of a solution, but what research I could found indicated it would take too long for our immediate needs), just groping for skepticism pegs.

Grr, still frustrates me thinking about it.