a messaging problem

We’ve talked about this, and we need to keep talking about it, because the narrative liberals are using to comfort themselves right now is that; a) Mueller will uncover some Trump kryptonite, and b) the mid-terms will rescue us from advancing fascism.

Sorry, but no, and no.

Not unless the Dems can find; a) a spine, and b) learn to market ideas and quit putting ordinary people to sleep. Marketing is everything. Given that we’re now on at least the second generation of people who have been marinated in marketing since they were in the crib that’s hardly surprising, is it?  Trump gets this.  Guess who didn’t. And still doesn’t.

As is so often the case with US politics nowadays, the best analyses are being offered by the world’s comedians. Jim Jeffries in this instance.


Because if we fuck this up—and I swear to god that’s exactly what we’re absolutely on the way to doing—we’re gonna wake up one day in a mature fascist authoritarian plutocracy with just about zero ability to do a fucking thing about it.


77 Responses to a messaging problem

  1. KevinNevada says:


    What I’m trying to say is that the Democratic Establishment is far wider spread than a few rooms with a few consultants. Each state’s machinery has to be contacted and pulled in to each New Wonderful Consensus.

    I did NOT say that this represented the will of even the active Democrats at grass roots level. It certainly didn’t, never does. I was in that world for ten years, and often chose to ignore the memo from HQ, the ‘word’ of whom “we are all supporting”.

    It made for an interesting life. Many funny stories. Sometime, over a beer or three, I’ll share what I prefer to not type here.

  2. NatashaFatale says:


    I can only claim to genuinely understand how the Democratic party works in one place, Chicago. I know a little about how it fails to work elsewhere in Illinois. Although I’ve spent well over a year each in Texas and Florida, I can’t even tell you if it fails in the same way in both states. I do think I’ve learned some things about Vermont in the five years I’ve been here, but I’m not comfortable saying I’m sure it’s the brain-dead disaster I think it is. And I know for a fact that the 16 years I spent in California taught me next to nothing – except that whatever is going on there can’t possibly have anything at all to do with the kind of politics I do understand.

    So all you can reliably get from me is a solid Chicago perspective. And it tells me this: where the local, precinct-level voters do get involved, the results are nothing at all – at all – like what happens when they sit passively by and let the pros have their way. Especially where the selection of candidates is concerned. And that of all the disastrous ways to let the pros do their worst, none is more consistently futile than waiting around for the pros to pick an acceptable candidate you can enthusiastically support.

  3. KevinNevada says:


    On that last point, you and I are fully agreed.

    And there are 50 different state problems.

    Texas, for instance, is gradually being opened up for the Democrats, due to the racist/demographic folly of the Republicans. For a long time, leading Republicans there had solid relationships with the Latino community and paid proper respect and received support in return. The Bush family, for example, stand out for this.

    Now, the insiders who are supporting Trump are teaching a generation of Texas Latinos – and especially, Latinas – that they are no longer amigos. Trump is rightly seen as deeply racist towards Latinos, it’s an incurable ailment, among his many others. His treatment of the Mayor of San Juan is just confirming that for millions.

    The Democratic message in Texas need only be an open door, a welcoming friendly face, with proper respect and a tendency to really listen – and recruit candidates.

    (I watched that same process take place in California in the 1990’s, after Gov. Pee Wee Wilson, and others who were scaremongering about the border, alienated the Latinos there en masse. So now, there are a slew of California elected officials who are Latino – and almost all, are Democrats. The California Republican Party committed suicide, for at least a generation.)

    The demographics in Texas will turn that state into purple territory soon. The looming surcharge of new arrivals from PR will bring that change in, for statewide votes, perhaps one whole cycle sooner. There will be construction jobs begging for willing hands, for at least the next two years in and around Houston.

    This will have a national impact. Without Texas, the Republicans cannot win a Presidential election. It’s now the big super-Ohio for them.

  4. KevinNevada says:

    OK, fresh news today, we’ll have another test of the competing messages.

    Rep. Tim Murphy (R., 18) of Pennsylvania just resigned. There will be a special election soon.

    This is the House seat once held by Rick Santorum, the southern burbs of Pittsburg. There are 70,000 more Democrats than Republicans, but the district rates R+11 from the latest election. The district is 96 percent white. The boundary is an extreme gerrymander, corrected somewhat in 2013 after a lawsuit.

    We are seeing a 15 to 20 percent swing towards “D” from “R” across the country. A decent Democratic candidate can compete here.

  5. NatashaFatale says:

    By coincidence, maybe an hour after I typed “I’m not comfortable saying I’m sure [the whole Vermont Democratic party is] the brain-dead disaster I think it is” Madame and I went downtown for dinner and a couple of drinks. This joint has an adjacent-to-the-bar party room, and last night it was rented out to the Caledonia County Democratic Party – and what a pathetic display of wretchedness it was. My God but these people are awful. Worse than awful. Unspeakable. Now if you told me that they had been pining for Hillary and no one else for the last decade or so, I’d believe you. I take it back. I do believe that little short of Ebola could purify a state party that could live with a chapter like this one.

  6. KevinNevada says:


    My own experiences inside the beast, ranged from much like your dining entertainment last night, to truly inspiring.

    Political activism brings out some of the very best people, and some of the most wretched creeps imaginable. I met them all.

    We will now find out if a candidate with stones to resist the consultants can be found, to run for PA’s 18th Seat, and offer the people of that district something worth voting for, and win.

    The money will be there. The opportunity is ripe. The Hairball continues to lie and flounder and offend. As I’ve said before, he will continue to do so. He cannot help himself.

    (Item, fresh this morning: the FEMA website just deleted the page that admitted how many people in PR don’t have electricity today, and how many lack decent drinking water, today.)

    My copy of “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” arrives today. I’ll post a review over the weekend.

  7. bluthner says:

    To digress a little to Nine’s deeply gloomy -but maybe accurate- prediction that we may well have reached a point where nothing Mueller might produce will be able to topple Trump:

    If what you predict comes true, or even could come true, if the country could be presented with overwhelming evidence of serious criminal acts and activity, by the president, and by many of the president’s closest advisors and family, criminal acts and activity which normally would send the entire crew to prison, for decades, and demand of the penalties in the scores of millions, if not hundreds of millions, if such acts and activities can be proved, and Trump can contrive to avoid paying any price himself, and contrive to shield his advisors and family members from paying any price, and remains in power, then I ask you what kind of country would we be, or indeed are we now living in? How would the FBI and the other federal police organizations continue to function? How would the courts retain any credibility? Or more local police, and courts, even. How even would military discipline be maintained? Why would anyone anywhere anymore pay any attention to the law full stop? Or pay taxes?

    The legal system, the tax system, all the institutions of government depend on far more than the mere pain of what happens to a citizen who cheats and gets caught. If the president can say fuck you to the police, to the IRS, to the courts, to the citizens -whether they are paying attention or not- and get away with it, then we really are living in a gangster state.

    I’m a cynical old bastard, with catastrophically reduced expectations from civic life in the U.S., but even I don’t believe we have sunk that low. And more to the point there is a very large group of (mostly) men and (some) women who even now wield real power who ‘are’ the state in a real sense: the policemen and judges and court officials and elected representatives and civil servants and soldiers and intelligence agents etc etc etc. Call them the ‘deep state’ or just call them what they are: the physical living embodiment of the state. Lots of them are loyal to the GOP, lots of them are loyal to the Dems, and lots of them are loyal to neither. And precious few of them, if any at all, at this point, are loyal to Trump in the sense that they would destroy the country they serve in order to protect and glorify The Hairball.

    Never mind the voters for a moment, scores of millions of whom are fervently against Trump and all that Trump stands for. Forget them and look only, for a moment, at the hundreds and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of human beings who embody the state. Why would they all stand by and let Trump erase the institutions they have spend their lives supporting and building and defending?

    I’m a cynical old bastard but I really do believe the answer to that question is they won’t. It will seem hopeless, though, until the moment it suddenly becomes apparent that, collectively, they are going to turn their backs on him. I believe that moment will come when Mueller finally delivers the entire long and ugly truth. Sure Trump will try to evade it, sure he will lash back, sure he will try to pardon his way out of it, but either we are still a country where he can’t succeed in doing that, or I have no idea whatever what kind of country we are.

    And sure, it’s highly possible that I am the one who has no understanding. But I know lots of those people I’m describing above, and none of them thinks we live in such a debauched and destroyed ruin of a state as a Trump victory over Mueller would require. None of them.

    I do agree that a large portion of voters are genuinely as debauched and degraded as a Trump victory over Mueller would require. That has been evident for a long time. But they aren’t the ones who the Hairball in Chief will have to vanquish when Mueller comes calling.

    I may be living in a fantasy; time will tell if you or I am right, but no way, in the country I know, do all those people roll over for a piece of shit like Trump, not when they have the proof in hand, from the FBI, that he has committed and abetted multiple and serious crimes. Trump goes down. In the country I at least think I know. No other outcome is possible.

    Or else it really is some other country and I’m living in the past. one or the other of us will eventually be proved correct, I guess. Or there will be some third (and probably equally repulsive to us both) option we haven’t considered.

  8. …and what a pathetic display of wretchedness it was. My God but these people are awful. Worse than awful. Unspeakable.

    This mirrors my own experience exactly, with several forays into local county-level Dem gatherings over the last couple of years.
    At my last foray, not three weeks ago, the entire discussions were about the need for rehabilitating HRC (that’s my word of course, not theirs, but it’s exactly what they were talking about) to ensure “her voice” remained a “powerful influence” on the “message” going forward.

    I kid you not.

    But I know lots of those people I’m describing above, and none of them thinks we live in such a debauched and destroyed ruin of a state as a Trump victory over Mueller would require. None of them.

    Oh, I’m certain that’s true.
    But in order for that truth to really matter, more than a few of those people would have to recognize that they, themselves, collectively, must be the bulwark against that debauchery and ruin.
    One of the primary drivers of my gloominess is that I don’t see much evidence of that realization.

    If you would have asked any one of those people a couple of years ago if they thought the US was a place where our current level of political debauchery was possible, they would have said no then too, right?

  9. bluthner says:

    they would have said no then too, right?

    Sure, but that would have been a prediction about the behavior of voters. No one imagined that enough voters would have so little self respect as to fall for the lies of a ridiculous criminal shyster blow-hard crap-fest as low down and obviously corrupt as Trump.

    And, obviously, they would have been dead wrong. But that’s a very different question. At least I hope it is. And hope is for losers, just as obviously. But there we are. I hope you are wrong.

  10. KevinNevada says:

    I agree with Bluthner, which won’t surprise anyone here.

    I read an interesting article two months ago, perhaps I linked it here. Cannot find it now.

    The gist was a comparison with the Watergate saga as a process of downfall, and compared it to how matters may turn out with Trump. We forget that for a long period during Watergate, the President himself seemed un-touchable.

    The final downfall, once the thing broke serious, came quickly. It was like our social/political immune system required a certain amount of stimulus, before reacting fully. That is, by the way, how a lot of biological systems also react: not at all, then intensely.

    The hairball cannot pardon his way out of this mess. Mueller has already pardon-proofed at least part of the investigation, by pairing up with New York’s state AG, who has jurisdiction over just about every corrupt and sleazy thing that the Donald and his gang have ever done.

    And that same AG has, via Wall Street, leverage over every major bank that operates in and around the USA. So he can follow the money, on his own.

  11. bluthner says:

    in order for that truth to really matter, more than a few of those people would have to recognize that they, themselves, collectively, must be the bulwark against that debauchery and ruin.

    That is without doubt a requirement. But no one has to tell any employee of the FBI that, or any judge, or any prosecutor, federal, state, or local, nor most police, nor many, many soldiers, nor whole battalions of civil servants, all the way down to the person at the DVLA that does the driving tests. They all, or at least most of them, wake up in the morning and drink that exact recognition with their morning java. It’s the reason they get out of bed in the first place, most days. The reason a hell of a lot of them get by on a government salary when they could be making double or far more in the private sector. If Trump tries to evade punishment for his epoch crimes, he will be hitting those people at the very heart of where they live. And they’ve always known they, collectively, are the only bulwark against debauchery and ruin. They never needed a flaming asshole like Trump to tell them.

    Did you ever try saying “Fuck You” to an American traffic cop on duty, much less to an agent of the FBI or the NSA or the TSA? Or to an American judge on the bench? To an MP in uniform? Or even to the person behind the desk at the DMV? If Trump tries to brazen it out when Mueller delivers the goods that’s exactly what he will be saying to each and every one of them, loud and clear, and they will fucking her him all right.

  12. bluthner says:

    Sorry not DVLA, that’s in Britain, I meant DMV.

  13. Well like I said, I’m hoping Bluth is right with as much fervor as anyone.

    But for middle class government functionaries to really push back against debauchery and ruin, they would have to recognize advancing authoritarianism as being actually representative of debauchery and ruin.

    It will calm my nerves considerably when I see empirical evidence of that happening. So far I don’t see it.
    Quite the reverse, in fact, especially among urban police forces.
    When outfits like the NYPD flat-out decline to embrace chickenshit policies like “stop and frisk” which have no meaningful requirements for demonstrating probable cause—and which are in fact specifically designed to circumvent it—I’ll breathe a lot easier.

    Until then, I’ll continue to suspect that the gap between current US domestic law enforcement practices and something closer to those of the Waffen SS is not nearly so wide as it needs to be for comfort.

  14. KevinNevada says:


    You would be reassured by the demeanor and conduct of the officers of Metro, our local city/county force, this week here in Las Vegas.

    The public has been showing them support and they are returning it. Driving around, I see people talking to officers a lot. An officer I spoke with told me they had a huge pile of donated bottles of water (a common gift in this desert city).

    Of the departments alienated from their public, in this country, Metro ain’t one of them.

  15. KevinNevada says:

    To all:

    I just pushed “post” on my prior comment and the doorbell rang.

    Was it the Trump Thought Police? No.

    It was a delivery driver with my bundle of joy from Amazon:

    The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, 1st edition,

    Fantasyland</em by Kurt Andersen, for a chaser and counterbalance, and for mental health,
    A CD of music by Jason Isbell.

    A review of the first book will appear on these boards soon.

  16. I’m reassured regularly by the very agreeable demeanor of our local Sheriff’s deputies too.

    Then horrified and frightened by the demeanor of the cops in other Colorado spots like Grand Junction or Denver. And I’m white. I can’t begin to sense what it must be like for people of color.
    It’s a mixed bag. And Vegas is something of an anomaly in a lot of ways, I think you’ll agree. Not unlike Aspen or some other places which have very non-typical economic structure.

    My remarks about the NYPD’s embracing of stop and frisk are valid enough, I think.

  17. Bluth mentioned the FBI as a being possibly offended by Trump blowing off any Mueller revelations.

    Well, maybe, and I hope he’s right.

    But here they are, almost at the same time as self-avowed Nazis are marching with torches in US streets chanting crazy shit about Jews, arguing that the real emergent threat is “Black Identity Extremists”;

    “It is very likely Black Identity Extremist (BIE) perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence.”

    If the FBI can argue with a straight face that the problem doesn’t lie so much with racist policing, but rather with the threat of black people getting pissed off at racist policing, then I’d say expecting them to push back against authoritarianism is a recipe for cruel disappointment.

    I get the “immune system” argument, I really do, but I don’t as yet see any evidence for it kicking in, and plenty of evidence for the creeping and incremental advance of neutralizing and/or eviscerating institutional capability for proper responses to this madness.

  18. NatashaFatale says:

    If I were a cop, the very best cop I’d know how to be, I’d want a lot of things that I’d probably suspect (at least deep down) that I shouldn’t be given. I’d want everyone in the country id-chipped, so that their identities and criminal records and probably a whole lot else would be instantly visible to me as they walk past on the sidewalk. I’d want the courts to rule that at all times and in all circumstances, my judgment trumps all law – and to such an extent that it’s universally accepted that if my judgment says you’re a criminal, then you well and truly are one and shall be dealt with as I deem best. I wouldn’t want these things for my benefit – at least I could easily convince myself of that. I’d want them for yours, so I could protect you and your family as you’d want to be protected, if only you knew enough to want me to have these powers as much as I’d know I truly need them.

    This, I think, is human nature. People who genuinely yearn to do right genuinely wish for the power to do it. It has taken us a very long time to collectively learn that this truly decent impulse needs to be drastically constrained. Now the mechanisms of constraint are breaking down, which in itself is nothing new. They’re always broken at least to some extent, and from time to time they get badly out of kilter. We’re used to that. It was ever thus. We get a little sick, then we recover. Then we get a little sick again and recover once more.

    What’s different now is that it’s these mechanisms of constraint that are bent on dismantling themselves. That’s something we really haven’t had to face before in this country, though we’ve certainly seen enough of it elsewhere in the world. And we’ve seen enough of it in our own history too, but only in this locale or that one. But now it’s being driven from the very top, and that makes it very, very different – because there’s no longer a higher authority to step in and start putting things right again.

    It’s entirely possible that the institutional memory of how things are supposed to happen is still strong enough in enough people in enough places that it can fight back effectively. We have to hope so, because that hope is all we’ve got. But we must also admit to ourselves that even if it is strong enough now, it won’t be strong enough for very long. And if anyone thinks that the wreckers themselves – never mind the sick fool the top – don’t know this, they’re kidding themselves.

  19. bluthner says:

    I’d say expecting them to push back against authoritarianism is a recipe for cruel disappointment.

    I’m going to have to agree with you about that, and with Nat that we face a frightening lack of push back against authoritarianism run rampant.

    But I am making a different argument, and your argument seems to be reinforcing mine, not refuting it: I’m in no way suggesting that the FBI or any organized law enforcement, etc, is likely to push back against draconian law enforcement measures, or even that I expect them to refrain from blaming blacks for their reactions to racist policing.

    What I am suggesting is something very different: which is that people invested in authoritarian enforcement of the law will not tolerate Trump attempting to break the law, hugely, flagrantly, not to push the authoritarian agenda but rather to enrich himself and his family, in the service of Russian organized crime, etc etc etc, and with an utter expectation of impunity. That is what they won’t stick, is what I predict.

    And why should they, when if Trump gets gone we get Pence who has none of, or very little of, Trump’s criminal baggage, and is just as much if not far more of an authoritarian.

  20. What I am suggesting is something very different: which is that people invested in authoritarian enforcement of the law will not tolerate Trump attempting to break the law, hugely, flagrantly, not to push the authoritarian agenda but rather to enrich himself and his family, in the service of Russian organized crime, etc etc etc, and with an utter expectation of impunity. That is what they won’t stick, is what I predict.

    Ah, now I see.

    This raises the question of whether, on balance, that would be a good thing or a bad thing.

    There’s an argument to be made that swapping a relatively non-ideological little boy full of bluster and mendacity who craves adoration and wealth for an ideologically rigid authoritarian religious zealot with fairly smooth political skills might not be a step forward.

    None of us here think the current malaise is all about Trump, right? It’s a much wider systemic breakdown with a lot of moving parts. Trump was/is clearly a kind of trigger which enabled many of those parts to break out to the surface.
    Pillorying him for his transgressions, as vital as that might be for maintaining a few shreds of integrity in the judicial system, won’t fix a goddam thing at this point, and could even make things worse. It’s a conundrum.

    This is my problem lately. I don’t see a clear path forward into the light which I find plausible. (This is not despair, Kevin, nor is it surrender, just fyi.)

    Scenarios which depend on the hope that this or that corner of officialdom will perform their constitutional duties, or on the hope that this or that political party will get their shit together, in what I see as a current absence of empirical evidence for either, don’t calm my nerves at all.

    And I remain deeply suspicious that if the mid-terms do indeed fall unfavorably for Trump and the GOP (by perhaps putting the impeachment option on the table as a serious threat), the chances that Trump’s response will be acquiescence are small indeed.
    Nixon he ain’t.

  21. bluthner says:

    None of us here think the current malaise is all about Trump, right?

    Of course not, BUT:

    Whatever else Trump is, Trump is a ten-alarm fire. He’s an extreme danger to all life on earth for reasons that are all his own, that have nothing to do with the rest of the problem. And even when he isn’t threatening all life on earth, he’s still making the rest of the problem categorically worse, if by doing nothing more than distracting everyone from even attempting to address the rest of the problem.

    My view is that there is no possible way even to begin to address the real serious and extremely dangerous problems we face from the likes of Pence backed by anything resembling the current GOP in Congress. There is no way to begin to address those problems until the problem of Trump is removed. So removing him is not only necessary because he, by just being himself, threatens everyone and everything, but because nothing can get done to even begin to fix the rest of the problem, even a little bit, until he is gone. Trump is the ogre blocking the way to the door that has to be opened to even start to start addressing the problem.

    What should people who see the evil that is coming do, if and when Trump is finally removed? I agree with Nine: I can’t see anyone on the national stage with even a glimmer of a viable plan. But then as we have said, over and over here, political change, or even political action, can never come from the top down. It has to grow up from the bottom, from a million different seeds, in a million different places. Which is something the right wing, especially the lunatic Dominionist faction of the right wing, has long, long understood, and acted upon, and something the Democrats, at least, seem pretty well utterly impervious to ever learning or understanding.

  22. NatashaFatale says:

    “…and something the Democrats, at least, seem pretty well utterly impervious to ever learning or understanding.”

    Indeed. When even the people who swear the loudest that they are and always have been bottom-uppers demand that the Democrats offer them acceptable ready-made candidates they can vote directly into high national office, not only that thread but also all memory of it has been well and truly lost.

    It’s not like we lack for apt historical examples of how political resistance sometimes actually manages to work. In every occupied European country during the 2nd world war, rightists and leftists and even a few centrists made uneasy alliances of convenience against the Germans, all of them fully aware that they’d be at each others’ throats as soon as they won. Hell, even Churchill did what he could to keep Russia in the war for as long as it took to win. Harrumphing old-timers in the House of Lords may have complained that he thereby betrayed his principles but everyone who counted understood.

    In the same way, even a Rand Paul can be my ally against Trump for as long as Trump remains the threat that he is. As for a Pelosi and a Schumer, hell yes I’ll air-drop them all the sten guns and plastique I can find – in the devout hope that I can personally kick them in the teeth when marginally better days return at last.

  23. KevinNevada says:


    especially in times like these, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.



    I understand your distinction. I could not resist tweaking you a bit, after the tirades of recent days.

  24. StillBernie says:

    “..the people who swear the loudest that they are and always have been bottom-uppers demand that the Democrats offer them acceptable ready-made candidates they can vote directly into high national office…”

    If this is me, i think that you missed something there. When did i demand that Democrats offer acceptable ready-made candidates? What i’ve been saying is that i don’t expect Democrats to offer anything of the sort. I think they’re beyond salvage, i see no indication whatsoever that they aren’t. There isn’t going to be a savior or a messiah or probably not even a leader. But in a nation of 300 odd million, at some point in time there’s going to be a smart person or two who is going to see an opportunity. And most likely that won’t be one under a D (nor an R) banner.

  25. StillBernie says:

    And fwiw, i think the Republican party is becoming unsalvagable as it stands as well. Their big donors are bailing out in droves because they can’t deliver, their base is bailing out, and if you didn’t read my piece on donors, the digested read takeaway from that is the Trump just shattered GOP records for small donors. And the record for small donors for the Dems is Bernie Sanders.

  26. StillBernie says:

    Every election there is going to be a fresh tranche of eligible young voters. And they don’t give a shit about either party. They’re going to give a shit about what’s on offer.

  27. StillBernie says:

    I’ll be goddamned, right on schedule.



    Thinking like Democrats or philosophers won’t help you in this day and age. Think like a discontented voter and a marketer.

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