Ordinary World


Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonderandhome.com

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45 Responses

  1. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Semi OT but I have been getting annoyed at the stylistic tone of the Atlantic. I don’t think they know what to do in the age of Donald Trump and everything comes across as having a stroke to stay “above the fray” or “high minded”

    Recently they had an article on how 5 billion could be better spent on tightening security at legal points of entry and reforming the immigration system. All so very white paper and high toned rhetoric.

    The problem though is that articles like this don’t convince anyone but the choir. Policy and moral wise, the article was correct. As a piece of writing it was anemic.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      It is part of the Cargo Cult of Civility. The high-minded people believe that we can return to the alleged golden age of bipartisanship by remaining above the fray and being polite in dulcet tones.Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

      By pretending that the difference between us is simply a policy disagreement over the best way to “secure the border”, they can ignore the raging hatred on display towards immigrants.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        On a more charitable level, there are many people that try to reduce everything to a policy disagreement because they believe to do so otherwise would turn politics and a lot of life into a never ending war between ideological forces that can’t be reconciled. Purely technocratic policy debates about border security, immigration, healthcare, and transportation can be something you can reach compromise on. Existential debates on the whether America is a White Person’s country or a multicultural land not so much. Same with debates on whether as much should be provided through the market because the government is wrong or whether the government can and should provide certain services.

        A week or so ago I linked to an article about how the cure to the current populism rush is to return to politics as play as an anecdote the never ending apocalyptical battles. Technocratic politics is much more in line with politics as play because the stakes are a lot smaller. Losing a technocratic policy debate can be seen as losing a game. An existential issue not so much.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

          It would be nice, except that is how the two sides end up talking past each other.

          “We need to cut off the supply of cheap immigrant labor so as to help wages increase!”
          “Here are 5 other things that can increase wages.”
          “No, I really just want this one, that cuts off immigrant labor.”

          This is the Atwater Principle, where the real issue is kept unspoken, and proxy issues are trotted out as code words.

          I’ll keep saying it, that the modern Trump base can’t be analyzed in conventional political terms, since there is no straight line that connects all the applause lines, except racial and cultural animus.

          A $70K/ year white male electrician is a part of The People, but a $70K/ year black female community college professor is an Elite.

          Subsidy for solar power is a violation of market principles, but forcing utilities to purchase coal power is not.

          Stop and frisk is part of getting tough on crime, while pressuring Manafort to testify is akin to the Stasi.

          Really, there is no connecting tissue here, except asserting the cultural and aesthetic preferences of white, older Americans.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

            Atwater was right but partially because so many people just don’t want to accuse someone (more like tens of millions of someones) of racism/xenophobia/bigotry because it seems like bad form.

            Or mainly because if critiques of the wall just say that wall supporters are motivated by racism and xenopobia, it might as well be an admission to never ending politics as struggle.

            What is to be done once you state this? The reason I roll my eyes at the border security article is that it is useless, not because I disagree with the reforms mentioned. No Wall supporter wants those reforms. Why bother bringing them up until Democrats control a majority?Report

  2. Avatar Aaron David says:

    OW 1,2,4,6
    <blockquote" The middle-class reaction to the yellow vests has been telling. Immediately, the protesters were denounced as xenophobes, anti-Semites and homophobes. The elites present themselves as anti-fascist and anti-racist but this is merely a way of defending their class interests. It is the only argument they can muster to defend their status, but it is not working anymore.

    Now the elites are afraid. For the first time, there is a movement which cannot be controlled through the normal political mechanisms. The gilets jaunes didn’t emerge from the trade unions or the political parties. It cannot be stopped. There is no ‘off’ button. Either the intelligentsia will be forced to properly acknowledge the existence of these people, or they will have to opt for a kind of soft totalitarianism.

    A lot has been made of the fact that the yellow vests’ demands vary a great deal. But above all, it’s a demand for democracy. Fundamentally, they are democrats – they want to be taken seriously and they want to be integrated into the economic order."

    -Christopher Guilluy, spiked 1/11/19

    Yellow vests, Brexit, Trump, Duterte, Five Star, Bolsonaro, Chinese Marxist clubs, the list goes on and on. I think now we are seeing a globalization of… something? And it isn’t the globalization that the chattering class was expecting.Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

      I don’t know what the yellow vests want, but I do know that the Trumpists, Brexiteers, and followers of Bolsonaro do NOT want democracy, and don’t hate the elites, at all.

      Their enemies are their fellow working class citizens, and the economic refugees and immigrants.Report

      • Avatar Aaron David says:

        So these people, the “Trumpists, Brexiteers, and followers of Bolsonaro” weren’t the products of a vote? How do they not want democracy? And how do they not hate the elites, as they keep electing things those elites hate?Report

        • Avatar dragonfrog says:

          People who vote for someone who promises to put their political opponents in prison just for their politics – no, they don’t really want democracy. They’re happy to use the tools of democracy to set up its replacement, if those are the tools that are at hand.

          When voters go “Yes, please, we endorse your platform of crushing all the opposition parties so that in four years’ time if we don’t like you, there won’t be anyone left for us to replace you with” – I mean, I don’t understand it, but they are voting to have their freedom to choose taken away.Report

          • Avatar Aaron David says:

            Who would that be, and what, exactly, are they saying? I am curious.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                df, just for clarity, when you say ‘democracy’ does that include taxes forced on people at the point of a gun?

                I ask that, because some people are: “well of course” and others are “well hell no”.Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog says:

                Yes, I consider the collection of taxes, including from people who would rather not pay taxes, to be compatible with democracy.

                I mean, if I didn’t, then that would mean that 0% of the countries in the world are democracies. Which, if nothing else, reduces the power of the category to divide countries into groups.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                Thanks for making that clear.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                Would you prefer a democracy that forcibly taxed, compared to one that didn’t?Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog says:

                Show me a government that doesn’t enforce tax collection, and we can check how they do on delivering safe drinking water, transportation infrastructure, environmental protection, workplace safety regulations, accurate food labeling, crime prevention, rehabilitation of convicts, universal medical care and education, low corruption, non-violent transfers of governance, etc. etc.

                I prefer to live in a country that does a good job of all those things, and has the means of acquiring the funds to do them.

                My understanding is that there are about five countries in the world without income tax – Monaco, Andorra, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the UAE. (So, I was mistaken re the 0% of the world’s countries that might qualify as democracies if taxation is incompatible with one’s definition of democracy)

                I live in Canada, and am happy to stay here. You?Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                I prefer one that isn’t rule by force. If that isn’t possible, then one that bothers me the least.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David says:

                Is he talking about the people who attempted to assassinate him,? Or leftists in general? Can’t tell from that article. I will have to look around more.Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog says:

                I am trying to figure out what I can about Bolsonaro and what his election means in practical terms, because we’re planning to travel to Brazil in a few months. The more I learn the less I like.Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog says:

                It very much sounds like he means, broadly, members of the Partido do Trabalhadores will be targeted – not just whoever was behind the assassination attempt.


                Bolsonaro has said he would jail or exile his political opponents after taking power, in what he says would be an effort to establish stability in Brazil.

                Either they go overseas, or they go to jail,” he said in a pre-election video address to his supporters. “It will be a cleanup the likes of which has never been seen in Brazillian history.”

                He has also hailed the former military regime for using torture tactics with its leftist opponents.

                “I’m in favour of torture, you know that,” he said in a 1999 TV interview. “And the people are in favour as well.”

                When he voted to impeach Roussef, he didn’t just vote against her – he dedicated his impeachment vote to her torturer from the guerilla war period.


              • Avatar Aaron David says:

                Those statements are troubling, for sure.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

          Trump has done not one thing to harm the elite.

          Like Saul mentions, the word “elite” in Trumpian circles seems to just be an cultural aesthetic that they don’t like.Report

          • Avatar Aaron David says:

            So, the tax cuts that drop the state and local tax write-offs don’t hurt the elite? The tightening of borders doesn’t hurt the elites cheap labor? I am confused.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

              No, none of those things are harming the elite.

              The massive tax cut for billionaires overcomes any loss of SALT, and the supply of cheap labor has scarcely changed.

              Beyond all the surface tweets and bizarre antics, the GOP is delivering solid returns on investment for their financial backers.

              Of course, there are collateral damages; Trump’s shutdown is going to inflict pain on the elite as the wheels of commerce slow down, and his trade wars will create pain in some sectors as they create opportunity in others.

              But at this moment, the same people who picked up their phones and ordered the Senate to pass the tax cut, haven’t yet picked up the phones to order an impeachment vote.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David says:

                “On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. It cuts individual income tax rates, doubles the standard deduction, and eliminates personal exemptions. The top individual tax rate drops to 37 percent.

                The Act cuts the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent beginning in 2018. The corporate cuts are permanent, while the individual changes expire at the end of 2025.”


                So an across the board tax cut that lands the gov’t 13% more tax revenue is now a billionaires tax cut? Oh.. OK…Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Well it is since the billionaires get more money both in absolute terms and as a percentage terms than any other class. Also the billionaires money is in permanent tax cuts while the pennies to the poorer classes are set to expire. So sure if you hand out nickles and bucks to most people and then the 1% gets thousands it’s an across the board cut while still being a billionaires cut. And landing the government 13% more tax revenue, as opposed to what; the much bigger than 13% revenue they’d have gotten had they not done a pointless tax cut? Let us not forget how Ryan and Mitch then promptly started saying they needed to cut Social security and medicare to deal with the deficits. Gosh, big surprise on that one.
                I mean, hell, it is and was an unpopular billionaires tax cut. The GOP couldn’t even make electoral hay out of it and keep congress.Report

            • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

              They hurt upper-middle class people who tend to vote Democratic because it is socially liberal. They don’t hurt the ultra-wealthy like Betsy Devos who can afford multiple houses and yachts.

              IIRC there were Republican congresscritters on record basically saying they were trying to stick it to blue state upper-middle class liberals and some of the resistance to the tax cuts from within the GOP came from Republicans who knew they would be toast in their districts if those deductions went out.

              You seem to be using a Republican-friendly definition of elite where elite equals the lawyer or engineer with one nice house in Lafayette or Orinda or Walnut Creek but not the really rich industrialist or other multi-millionaire who can afford several really nice houses, each of which is much more expensive than the house owned by the engineer in the East Bay.Report

            • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

              There are good arguments for reforming the mortgage deduction and the SALT deductions. Trump’s tax cut for millionaires and billionaires is not one of these arguments.Report

            • Avatar North says:

              Also tightening at the border doesn’t hurt the elites cheap labor at all since it is entirely ineffective at preventing illegal immigration. It just gives elites more leverage to hold over the head of their cheap labor and say “if you don’t keep me happy it’s INS for you bucko.”
              The elites have been making out like bandits under Trump. Maybe they’re even getting tired of winning so much.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        The problem with “elites” is that it is a rather slippery phase that gets defined along the lines of Potter Stewart defining obscenity, people know an elite when they see one. I’d love to be able to retire the phrase from discourse but that is not this world.

        The populist right-wing seems to use “elite” to mean “upper-middle class professionals with somewhat to very artsy aesthetic tastes.” This doesn’t need to be but often is short-hand for “Damn you Jews and your love of modern art and fancy restaurants and coffee shops.”

        I’m largely a believer that when you get far enough to the left and the right, you do see a lot of idea overlap. Both these groups seem largely to dislike modern complex economies. They both seem to have utopian ideals of small towns that are self-sufficient or largely so. At most, maybe you are trading with some towns dozens of miles a away, not trading with New Zealand or China across the globe. I basically think their ideal resembles something like the Shire or Smurf Village. Problem is that they haven’t figured out how to create Biomedical Engineer Smurf and Video Game Developer Smurf yet and they never will.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          What’s interesting is that the word “privilege” doesn’t have this problem.

          Would it make more sense if the word “privileged” is used instead of “elite”? And not just privileged, privileged in such a way that nothing outside of politics (or worse) could be done to redistribute their privilege?Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

            Except it is often right-wingers that hate and screech at the word privileged. Having tastes that swing towards the high-brow should never be used as a short-hand for economic status but it often is. There are plenty of old bohemians on fixed incomes that like to see arthouse movies on a Tuesday afternoon in the theatre. These people don’t have much money but the anti-intellectual tendency in American society tends to turn anyone with somewhat “highbrow” tastes into an aristocrat from the old world.

            Expand on your last sentence.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Except it is often right-wingers that hate and screech at the word privileged

              Don’t look at the word. Look at the referent.

              Expand on your last sentence.

              Sort of an entrenched privilege against which nothing can be done. Well, nothing short of politics.Report

          • Avatar DavidTC says:

            You know what other word doesn’t have that problem?

            ‘Rich’. ‘Wealthy’ works to some extent also, although sometimes it gets defined down a bit too low, but that’s not really too much of a worry.

            It’s funny how much work is done by the people with money to try to make themselves _not_ fall under the category of people the poor are angry at.

            Guys, there’s a finite supply of money. (There doesn’t really have to be, but that’s a whole different discussion for a different time. The general assumption is that the government can’t just print money, no matter how iffy that ‘fact’ actually is.)

            Ergo, the reason you don’t have enough money, or that the government says it doesn’t have enough money, is that the money is distributed in ways you do not like. If there is a finite thing, and you want more of it, you want others to have less. We can argue what we’re actually going to _do_ about that fact, try to come up with policies that would be fair or fit some political framework. (Vs. just taking it.)

            But literally any proposal that would result in you or the government having more money would result in them having less money. This is pretty basic math.

            And thus your opposing side in this discussion will basically always be the rich, basically by definition. The people whose money you wish to end up with, or wish the government to end up with. There’s literally no part of this that is slightly complicated.

            Yet we make it very complicated, and decide the problem is people who hang out in coffee shops vs. people who hang out in bar, or whatever nonsense we’re arguing today. Well, we less ‘decide’ that then we are informed that by the media owned and operated by the rich. Weird coincidence.

            Man, I’m feeling super Marxist today for some reason.Report

            • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

              There is a big issue where the upper-middle class professionals have become the enemy. This isn’t exactly new. Bernard Shaw famously quipped that “Morals are for the middle classes. The rich don’t need them and the poor can’t afford them.”

              There is some truth in this quip. The educated and professional classes do need to keep up a certain level of protestant work ethic/morality/whatever you want to call it because their wealth is based on income and labor, not stock/ownership usually. Plus they tended to be the people who were just really good at school and following assignments/tasks.

              The dynamic seems to be that a lot of people in the right-leaning WWC see the owners/upper managers as good kings that they cannot reach and the professionals are evil courtiers running interference. If the professionals went away, then the WWC would reach the good kings and everything would be fine and dandy.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              The formula I heard was something like this: “Shaq is rich. The guy who signs Shaq’s checks is wealthy.”

              Wealth is something that doesn’t just go away. Money can disappear in an instant. Wealth abides.Report

            • Avatar JoeSal says:

              How long is it taking to double the money supply again? I don’t mean the fudged numbers, I mean the real ones.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                I dunno, but the way that everyone has convinced a hell of a lot of people with negative net worth that any level of inflation is bad has been somewhat astonishing.

                Although I guess the real astonishing fact is how the Fed tries to manage interest rates instead of just…taking money in and out of circulation. Imagine a world where, when the economy was operating at too high a speed, the government would just start taking taxpayer money and sequestering it. (Which would also reduce our debt.) Then when the economy slowed again, it would just send that money to people. Or even print more.

                And, of course, spend more or less, but I’m talking a much quicker dial to turn. Instead of the interest rate controlling the supply of money, let’s literally control the supply of money.

                Instead, we just loan free money to banks when times are bad, hoping that gets out to the people, minus the profits of the banks and the investors and companies they loaned money to. Like, _eventually_ that money will get in the hands of someone who is going to buy more stuff. I’m sure that makes sense to someone.

                *checks quickly* Ah, the banks say it makes sense. Well, they’re the money experts, I guess.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                Well there is just everyday inflation, then there is “kill the economy inflation”. Either way I don’t see the economy coming out alive on the ‘other side’. Even with the ‘trust me with the dial’ people holding the dial.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      The yellow vest folks here in Alberta are emphatically NOT the yellow vest folks in France whose gimmick they’re imitating. Here it’s a full-on New World Order / Sharia Law / George Soros conspiracy theory crackpot movement.

      When the Wolves of Odin and other white supremacist gangs show up at their events, the ostensible leaders can’t come up with any but the most half-hearted “I’m saying this because I have to, but you can read between the lines” denunciations.Report

  3. Avatar Kolohe says:

    OW6 – Graph 1 in the link provided Donadio says a lot about the world, more than it says about Trump.

    European public opinion for the past half century always looks more favorably upon left leaning Presidential administrations compared to right wing.

    They like Donald Trump somewhat less, true, but also Donald Trump doesn’t really matter. At least upon the premise of ‘respect’ or ‘prestige’.

    The US has its huge economy and its huge military. That’s what matters. Respect and prestige make things easier on the margin, for certain. But even then, Obama demonstrated very clearly how limited having those assets can be, in and of themselves.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      Say what you will about Trump, but a unifying attribute of the post-WW2 order is a fundamental dislike in center-left to left Europe of America running the world.

      Casual anti-Americanism has been a thing long enough before Bush jr – I remember hearing about the ‘Canadian flag on backpacks’ thing was a thing as far back as the 80s.Report