2020 is a black comedy

Black comedies are underrated. Let’s face it, many people just don’t get them. And you guys know who I’m talking about. We’ve all me those people: “Hmmm . . . I don’t see what’s so funny about that.”

Here’s the Washington Post, expressing outrage:

Many people already know this, but the responses to Cain’s continued tweeting suggest some don’t like it. “Herman Cain got the coronavirus after attending Trump’s indoor Tulsa rally without wearing a mask nor social distancing. Then he died. Now people are using his Twitter account” to claim the virus isn’t very deadly, tweeted physician and scientist Eugene Gu. “This is just so wrong.”

It’s not wrong, it’s hilarious. Matt Yglesias gets it:

Wasting time on twitter led me down the rabbit hole to more tweets:

OK, that’s kind of funny. But once again, I think people are missing the black comedy. Dr. Sean Conley works at an elite hospital. He’s no dummy. He knows that anyone with half a brain will understand that Trump’s tweets today looked positively deranged. Donald Trump Jr. was so worried about the torrent of all caps tweets from his dad that he considered an “intervention”. The Straussian reading of that press conference is that Dr. Conley was telling us that Trump’s even more crazy than usual. Voters will certainly understand this.

Yes, I know, some will say all this dark humor at the expense of a man at death’s door is hugely inappropriate. We should all be praying for the president.

But you don’t pray for someone with a minor illness, and Trump himself suggests that Covid-19 is nothing serious, nothing for Americans to be concerned about. So no need to pray for Trump.

Now you might argue that despite Trump’s claims, Covid is in fact quite dangerous for old people, and that we should pray for the President’s survival even if he himself is blind to the dangers. But his supporters say Trump doesn’t need our support, because he’s such a superman that the virus had no chance against him.

Either way, Trump was never in danger. Regardless of whether the virus is a minor problem, or Trump is a superman, or (as liberals claim) he only did well because he got drugs that are unavailable to normal people, Trump was never in the slightest danger. Hence it’s OK to mock him when he’s down.

The only sin with black humor is not being funny. Trump mocking Hillary when she got pneumonia was not black humor because it wasn’t humor at all. It was pure sadism. But as long as black humor is funny, anything is fair game.

We’ve got to deal with another 4 1/2 years of Trump. I suggest you develop a taste for black comedy or else it’s going to be a very dismal period.

Now where can I stream a comedy about Hitler, or nuclear armageddon? I need some light entertainment. Maybe I’ll watch Husbands and Wives again.



57 Responses to “2020 is a black comedy”

  1. Gravatar of Doh Doh
    5. October 2020 at 22:58

    Death of Stalin is a great black comedy.

  2. Gravatar of Cartesian Theatics Cartesian Theatics
    5. October 2020 at 23:07

    I have to admit the “VOTE!!!” tweets and subsequent memes were f**king hilarious.

  3. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    5. October 2020 at 23:42

    “White House Gift Shop selling ‘Trump Defeats COVID’ commemorative coin”–headline from The Hill

    I was keenly disappointed by the above click-bait headline, in that it turned out the “White House Gift Shop” is a private enterprise, unaffiliated with the real (or reality-show) White House.

    I miss the days when ex-President Gerald Ford could hawk goods for the Franklin Mint.

  4. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    6. October 2020 at 00:20

    “The Producers,” Mel Brooks. Not quite a black comedy about Nazis, but close.

    On nukes, “Dr. Strangeglove” usually gets mentioned.

  5. Gravatar of Ian Ian
    6. October 2020 at 02:18

    “We’ve got to deal with another 4 1/2 years of Trump. I suggest you develop a taste for black comedy or else it’s going to be a very dismal period.”

    I dont get this – you’re predicting he wins the election still?

  6. Gravatar of rayward rayward
    6. October 2020 at 02:20

    Watch Jo Jo Rabbit (the film). What Trump’s followers heard when Trump said not to fear the coronavirus is that he was saved by the cross: Faith Over Fear (ubiquitous signs down here in the South) is exactly what he was communicating to his followers when he advised Americans not to be fear the coronavirus. Give him credit: he is a master communicator to his followers.

  7. Gravatar of Student Student
    6. October 2020 at 04:54

    What has been black to me as a fairly conservative Catholic (though aware of how often I am wayward myself) is to watch trump go from hedonist atheist to Cyrus to cult of personality savior.

    I find that re-reading the Book of Proverbs is a black comedy right now

    [Scoundrels, villains, are they who deal in crooked talk. Shifty of eye, feet ever moving, pointing with fingers.

    They have perversity in their hearts, always plotting evil, sowing discord.

    Therefore their doom comes suddenly; in an instant they are crushed beyond cure.

    There are six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to him;

    Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that plots wicked schemes, feet that are quick to run to evil, the false witness who utters lies,
    and the one who sows discord among kindred.

    Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!”]

  8. Gravatar of Danny Danny
    6. October 2020 at 05:29

    Husbands and Wives is indeed a great film.

  9. Gravatar of bb bb
    6. October 2020 at 05:55

    Glad to see you are laughing to. I’ve read that only humor and/or deep faith allow humans to make sense of the senseless cruelty that life often presents. My favorite joke of the last few days is that “Trump is high risk because he is old, obese, and low income”.
    And I agree that only his craziest supporters believe his shtick about beating the virus. I honestly wonder if the outcome of the election would be any different if the virus didn’t happen? His approval rating has essentially stayed the same throughout his presidency to include the current period.
    That said, if he did a good job managing Corona, he could be skating to victory right now.

  10. Gravatar of janice janice
    6. October 2020 at 06:45

    The USA used to believe in certain fundamental values, but it doesn’t anymore, and that is a very dangerous proposition. When you have people aligned to a particular party, blinded by their prejudice, it creates animals. CCP, Nazi Germany, Japanese Monarchy (Nanjing), we’ve seen this all before: I do hope America doesn’t succumb to that type of group think.

    From academics, to politicians, the USA has people hoping (almost entirely on the left) that the President of the United States will die. That feeling of hope is predicated on socioeconomic, cultural, and psychological factors. It might not be quite as disturbing as the Japanese invasion of Nanjing, but it’s heading in that direction. The left wing party in the USA looks much like the CCP in the mid to late 1930’s.

  11. Gravatar of bill bill
    6. October 2020 at 07:52

    Hitler comedies:
    JoJo Rabbit and Look Who’s Back
    The Great Dictator with Charlie Chaplin

    Or, maybe Valkyrie? You could pray for Hitler when he’s in the room with the bomb? 🙂

  12. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    6. October 2020 at 09:20

    Ian, Why not? It’s 2020.

    bb, You said:

    “That said, if he did a good job managing Corona, he could be skating to victory right now.”

    I agree.

    Janice, This is your mind on politics.

  13. Gravatar of Spencer B Hall Spencer B Hall
    6. October 2020 at 09:29

    re: “fundamental values”

    Values are all driven by economics, income inequality. It will get worse if flexible inflation targeting is used.

    And the autopsy reports confirmed that George Floyd died of an overdose of fentanyl.

  14. Gravatar of Spencer B Hall Spencer B Hall
    6. October 2020 at 10:00

    Flexible AIT cannot work.

    Mal-investment (“impacts resource allocation”), stems from the fact that adding indiscriminate and infinite money products (QE-Forever), decreases the real-rate of interest and has a negative economic multiplier.

    Whereas the activation and discharge of $15 trillion of finite and real-investment targeted savings products (near money substitutes), increases the real-rate of interest, produces higher and firmer nominal rates, and has a positive economic multiplier.

  15. Gravatar of Skeptical Skeptical
    6. October 2020 at 10:35

    +10, It’s been quite the year for black comedy

    – a world pandemic brought to you by a pun. Bat is the same as fortune: 蝠. Hence the bat soup around Lunar New Year

    – Hope infects Trump with a serious disease…Kabbalist jokes

    – a “slip in the shower” election between two half-senile old men. We’re one bad staircase away from having a William Henry Harrison moment

  16. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    6. October 2020 at 11:28

    Look Who’s Back (German: Er ist wieder da,)—Hitler Comedy

    Very funny—–

  17. Gravatar of Alan Goldhammer Alan Goldhammer
    6. October 2020 at 11:51

    Only for the ambitions film goer, but the best Hitler move of all time is ‘Hitler: A Film from Germany’ by Hans Jurgen Syberberg. It runs about 7 and a half hours an is just superb. I saw it in DC in 1979 with Syberberg giving a lecture as well. It was a whole day experience. Part one is relevant today about the cult of personality.

  18. Gravatar of foosion foosion
    6. October 2020 at 12:52

    “people hoping that the President of the United States will die”

    There’s widespread belief that with competent leadership, the US death toll from covid would have been much lower and would be much lower in the future. Assume that’s true. This brings up the old libertarian caricature – should one hope for the death of one individual if it would likely save 100,000?

  19. Gravatar of foosion foosion
    6. October 2020 at 12:53

    That should have been “the old utilitarian caricuture”.

  20. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    6. October 2020 at 13:11

    Did you guys see this tweet, from a sitting member of Congress?


    “I will never love another President again!”

    Republicans present themselves as non-sheepish, rugged, manly, definitely non-gay/non-cuck individualists, and a Republican member of Congress tweets this?

    We are living in very strange times. I still think Trump will lose.

  21. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    6. October 2020 at 13:12

    By the way, giving the number of Republicans getting Covid, some of whom are even dying, because they’re following Trump’s lead, is it safe to call this a death cult now?

  22. Gravatar of Sean Sean
    6. October 2020 at 16:05

    Riddle me this – you are positive trumps going to win yet the polls and so called experts say he’s a long shot. And I sort of agree with you.

    What’s the institutional failure that could lead to the experts being that wrong (I think it’s showing up in other data sets too – but I also believe the data that says hcq works some and the old data saying masks only had a small benefit)

  23. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    6. October 2020 at 16:29

    Sean- they only way Trump wins is if about 5% of people hide their true intentions to pollsters, as Trump has such a bad reputation. Add on, Trump can lose by 2% to 3%, but still win in the Electoral College.

    The other scenario is that so many vote counts are challenged in so many states, and then bully-boys successfully begin to disrupt vote counts, that the election is thrown into the Supreme Court. In other words, the 2000 election on steroids.

    The Supreme Court finds a way to hand the election to Trump. See 2000 again.

  24. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    6. October 2020 at 16:41

    It is interesting that the premise in the mass media today is that votes and balloting are pretty clean.

    When I was in college a buddy voted against Nixon in Santa Barbara (UCSB) and then drove down to Pasadena to vote against Nixon again from his ancestral home.

    Later I knew the daughter of a Chicago alderman and she said institutionalized fraud is the norm in voting there.

    Evidently, “ballot harvesting” is now the norm in the Minneapolis area.

    As we saw in 2000, the Electoral College system rewards ballot fraud or voter suppression. A few thousand votes here or there does not matter for a national popular election, but could tip the Electoral College.

  25. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    6. October 2020 at 17:09


    In the hope of making you feel better about the election, here’re Mike Murphy, David Axelrod, and Clair McCaskill discussing how much trouble Trump’s in, politically.


    For example, polls show Biden in a deadheat with Trump in Ohio, but Trump has stopped spending money on ads in the state. Trump has also cut spending in some swing states, while Biden is actually broadening the number of states in which he’s now advertising. The Trump campaign is very low on money.

    Also, Murphy says that many White House political hacks he knows are just marking time on the calendar, believing Trump will lose.

    Trump is extraordinarily stupid. He’s spent over a million dollars in ads in DC, just to counter the thousands spent by the Lincoln Project to run ads there on Fox News, to trick Trump into wasting money. DC is obviously never remotely competitive.

    He raised a lot of cash earlier this year, just to waste much of it, with some of the rest possibly going out the back door with people like former campaign manager Parscale.

  26. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    6. October 2020 at 17:10

    Add on: latest national poll from CNN shows Biden leading Trump by 16 percentage points.

    The betting markets are calling it for Biden.

    Not sure why Scott Sumner keeps calling it for Trump. But then, macroeconomists are not known for flexible adaptability to changing realities on the ground.

  27. Gravatar of Mark Z Mark Z
    6. October 2020 at 22:04

    I’m assuming Scott’s surety of Trump winning is either a running gag, something Straussian, or him psychologically bracing himself for his least favorite outcome. His chances are almost certainly somewhere between 15% and 40% (Nate Silver has him at 18%, betting odds at 35%). He certainly has a decent chance of winning, but I wouldn’t bet on him. Actually, Scott, have you bet on Trump winning? If you think he will, might as well make some money on it.

    Reading this blog reminds me I must be pretty close to having Asperger’s syndrome as it’s hard to tell what to take seriously. Current rule of thumb is, if it’s monetary policy, serious, go ahead and read it; if it’s politics, go back to watching deleted scenes from the Office on youtube, they’re more entertaining.

  28. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    7. October 2020 at 02:08

    Is Sumner racist? Examine his Straussian writings: “2020 is a black comedy”, then he writes about H. Cain, a black man, in a negative light, and finally “The Straussian reading of that press conference is that Dr. Conley” (praising Conley, a White man). Finally he confirms Godwin’s law by citing Hitler.

    PS–Ian and Ben Cole are spot on. Sumner is obdurate, refusing to believe Trump might lose (is he a closet Trump fan?), believing in the Copernican medieval theory of monetarism, and yet denying the March Fed announcement had anything to do with the V-shaped recovery in the stock market (and economy), since it doesn’t apparently jive with his NGDPLT worldview, the last point being simply amazing to me…Sumner snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory (is there a movie about that?)

  29. Gravatar of sty.silver sty.silver
    7. October 2020 at 03:55

    So this is what it looks like when you stop taking politics seriously?

    I guess I can now worry less about whether my comments are worth writing.

    @Mark Z: I think 15 should be in the middle of the interval, not at the lower bound. He is a full 9 points behind in national polls (according to the weighted average from 538) one month before the election, and the number of undecided voters is unusually low.

  30. Gravatar of Student Student
    7. October 2020 at 05:10

    One real comment: on the likelihood trump loses his re-election bid.

    Take a close look at the polling data in swing states at this point in the race compared to 2016. It’s in quite similar territory in the key swing states. 538 showed some data on this recently but I am not going to look for it right now. I think it’s closer than the polling data indicates nationally. Unlike Scott, I don’t see trump as the favorite but the current state of the betting markets almost tempts me to place a bet on Trump. I see it as a toss up trump would have walked away with if the Covid response was serious and if it began before it was too late to have a tremendous and strong impact. Remember everyone… we are in Covid time tho, where a month is like a year in normal time… there is a long way to go.

  31. Gravatar of Student Student
    7. October 2020 at 05:14

    Maybe it wasn’t at 538… but it was a snap shot of polling data by state now compared to the same state at a similar point in the race in 2016. I recall being struck by how similar PA, OH, FL, MI, etc were but I can’t find it.

  32. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    7. October 2020 at 05:18

    It is not that unreasonable to look at politics as a complete joke. While Scott has a particular and almost typical view of Trump, this does not translate into thinking the Democrats are not morons. Why did he write his Howard Hughes essay? Because he thinks politics are as bad ——really the worst——he has ever seen in his lifetime. My bias has always been that we typically think “today” is always the best or worst or most important time ever. When in fact it is really always the same

    But Scott has moved me off that spot. I struggle to not move too far——but it’s hard not too.

    I don’t think Scott’s view on Trump winning is that far off——and if there is a 35% chance—-whatever that means from an epistemological sense——-what is so odd about that? And that has not been his point. His readers tend to think he is just an anti Trump obsessive. While he seems like that, he is far more pessimistic than being anti-Trump.

    He will cast his meaningless vote for Ms. Jorgensen——which I actually give him great credit for. A man who has truly given up would not bother.

    Kudos to Scott.

  33. Gravatar of Student Student
    7. October 2020 at 05:43

    One more non serious comment about mocking… from one of my favorite sections of the entire bible. Wisdom in person making comment, from chapter 1 of proverbs. I think it says some interesting things about when black comedy is appropriate Sonia relevant here:

    Wisdom in Person Gives a Warning*
    Wisdom cries aloud in the street,

    in the open squares she raises her voice;d
    Down the crowded ways she calls out,

    at the city gates she utters her words:
    * “How long, you naive ones, will you love naivete,

    How long will you turn away at my reproof?

    [The arrogant delight in their arrogance,
    and fools hate knowledge.]
    Lo! I will pour out to you my spirit,
    I will acquaint you with my words:
    ‘Because I called and you refused,

    extended my hand and no one took notice;e
    Because you disdained all my counsel,

    and my reproof you ignored—
    I, in my turn, will laugh at your doom;

    will mock when terror overtakes you;
    When terror comes upon you like a storm,

    and your doom approaches like a whirlwind;
    when distress and anguish befall you.’
    Then they will call me, but I will not answer;

    they will seek me, but will not find me,
    Because they hated knowledge,

    and the fear of the LORD they did not choose.
    They ignored my counsel,

    they spurned all my reproof;
    Well, then, they shall eat the fruit* of their own way,

    and with their own devices be glutted.
    For the straying of the naive kills them,

    the smugness of fools destroys them.
    But whoever obeys me dwells in security,

    in peace, without fear of harm.

  34. Gravatar of Dale Doback Dale Doback
    7. October 2020 at 07:11

    American Psycho seems like a fitting movie to rewatch now. I remember it as disgusting and over the top, but also hilarious.

  35. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    7. October 2020 at 07:42

    More good news for the sane and good of heart:


    Biden is now spending money on ads in Texas. The Never Trump, ex-Republican PAC, The Lincoln Project, has been doing likewise for a couple of days.

    The anti-Trump movement has tremendous resources on its side after Trump largely squandered his early fund raising hauls. Unless these old political hacks are all wrong, Democrats have an increased chance of an electoral college blowout and a true blue wave in Congressional races.

  36. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    7. October 2020 at 10:46


    You are referring to RealClearPolitics for that comparison with 2016

    This race will not be a landslide either way. I think Biden gets 290 EV, but Florida might also flip his way.

  37. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    7. October 2020 at 10:48

    @Michael S:

    It shows a lack of historical awareness to start dunking on Trump now, after what happened in 2016. It’s going to be pretty close, but I think Biden does win.

    My concern is that I do not like either part with control of both branches, so I hope the Reps can hold on to the Senate. Trump is not making that easy for them.

  38. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    7. October 2020 at 11:34


    I’m not going to argue with people who get paid to make such decisions for a living. It’s independent PACs making these judgements, in addition to the Biden campaign. Betting markets are also strongly predicting Biden victory. Not sure what special insight those disagreeing at this point claim to have. Sure, race may tighten again, but there are strong indications that several normally secure red states are in play.

    As for wanting Republicans to keep the Senate, lol. Which one of those fascist or fascist apologists deserves to do so? Romney is not in that category, but seriously, who else?

    Fascism is nothing to play with. The bigger the wipeout for Republicans this year, the more incentives they have to reform. I want a responsible opposition. That won’t come from most Republican Senators.

  39. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    7. October 2020 at 11:42

    @Dale Re: American Pyscho

    I really enjoyed that movie. There was always a conflict as to whether Bale “really” did those things or if he imagined it all.I was POSITIVE he imagined it. But he in fact was meant to have done it all. The funny thing is that Director Mary Harron realized one could see it either way once this was discussed—so she subsequently said “its up to the observer”. I like it that he imagined it—seemed more realistic.

  40. Gravatar of Skeptical Skeptical
    7. October 2020 at 11:54

    As for wanting Republicans to keep the Senate, lol. Which one of those fascist or fascist apologists deserves to do so? Romney is not in that category, but seriously, who else?

    This doesn’t strike me as reasonable. I too, want divided government and a Rep Senate is IMO the only plausible hope for that outcome.

    Trump is a clown not a fascist. I seriously doubt he holds any ideology whatsoever. There’s nothing in his history to even hint at a coherent worldview other than ‘trade bad’

  41. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    7. October 2020 at 11:55


    this indeed sounds as if Team Blue is getting all cocky again.

    I see no path for Trump to win. He would have to win all the tight states plus, for example, Pennsylvania and Arizona. That seems pretty absurd. But in 2016 I didn’t see a path either, so I assume we must just wait.

    There are some deja-vus to 2016. Team Blue wasting money on states they don’t even need seems to be one of them.

    I like the Daybreak poll because they use a different method. Trump is clearly behind according to their poll (and all the others), but the Senate is still very tight, according to them:


    I also took another look at the survey overviews on pages like 538. Did the polls 2016 regarding the presidential elections look different? What is the huge difference this time? Are the polls more accurate now? We will see.

    The Senate is supposed to be gone according to these polls, but these polls looks similar to the general election polls, and as I said, in the Daybreak poll the Senate is still very tight.

  42. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    7. October 2020 at 12:55

    I thought Trump would lose, even before the pandemic. Here were my reasons for thinking so, as an obvious amateur:

    1. Trump did not grow his base, or even seemingly try.

    2. Demographics moved a bit a against him in some key swing states in which the vote was razor thin in 2016.

    3. Conservative opposition to Trump grew a bit.

    4. Some important constituencies were hurt by the trade war in close swing states.

    5. Florida saw a not-insignificant influx of Puerto Rican voters, after the way Trump treated Puerto Rico in the aftermath of devastating hurricanes.

    6. Hillary Clinton is not his opponent.

    7. Trump is chaotic and hadn’t done a good job as President. The country was not better off.

    8. Democrats just enjoyed a wave election in 2018, which saw the suburbs turn heavily against Trump, and showed that Democrats turnout is at historic levels.

    Now, since the Pandemic:

    1. Trump has lost some support among elderly voters, as many of them prefer not to be sacrificial lambs in his re-election bid.

    2. The economy has tanked, with mass unemployment.

    3. It is obvious Trump failed, and in fact, refused to do all he could to limit the damage of this pandemic. He also lied about it and made absurd statements, regularly.

    4. All indications are the Democrats are even more activated than they were 2 years ago.

    5. Democrats and Never Trump conservatives are way out-fundraising Republicans, and outspending them in races around the country.

    6. Trump’s debate behavior turned off most voters.

    7. Trump’s White House didn’t even take basic precautions like wearing masks in crowded rooms, putting their full incompetence on personal and national security on display. And there’s been obvious dishonesty throughout this crisis.

    8. Trump was already down in polls and betting market odds, before each took a sharp turn for the worse for him after the debate and his contraction of the virus.

    9. Previously considered safe red states are now being contested by Democrats.

    The logic and the numbers all show Trump losing big, with less than a month to try to turn things around, and with him seemingly acting even crazier than usual.

  43. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    7. October 2020 at 12:59

    Also, throw in there that social media platforms have made it somewhat more difficult for foreign propagandists to influence the election. Sure, such propaganda probably only had marginal effects during the last election, but those effects could be crucial in very close swing states.

  44. Gravatar of Justin Justin
    7. October 2020 at 13:03

    Scott, if you think Trump will win, you might as well make some money off it. PredictIt has him way down. The overall winner, and the state specific contracts would let you put a few grand at risk.

  45. Gravatar of sty.silver sty.silver
    7. October 2020 at 13:23

    @Justin, no; Scott only thinks that Trump will win, not that he’s right about that.

  46. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    7. October 2020 at 14:49

    @Michael S: I’m simply not as much of a leftist as you, nor am I as afraid of Trump the “fascist”. As Skeptical said, he’s a buffoon, he’s not Hitler. And he’s probably on the way out.

    @Christian: It’s overly reductive to say “2016 polls wrong so 2020 Trump will win”. This election is very different. Trump is no longer the unknown wild card independents could take a chance on, he has clearly demonstrated he is out of his depth and doesn’t even take the job seriously. His opponent this time is a genial old man not someone almost as hated as he is. Throw in Covid and the recession and you have a situation that would be hard on any incumbent.

    It’s still possible but I very much doubt Trump wins.

  47. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    7. October 2020 at 15:26


    Seriously, what do you expect to get from a Republican Senate? Be specific. They’ve had years to deliver and have ignored most of the significant growing problems in the country. Do you think obstruction of Democrats is enough?

    What happens on healthcare, as a growing number of Americans can no longer afford coverage? Republicans in the Senate did absolutely nothing on healthcare, despite the hyperbolic promises and sham ACA abolishment votes held by the dozens. How could you support people like this? What part of they are a fundamentally unserious Party don’t you understand?

    We’re talking about the same people that drove the fiscal deficit up to historic levels for peacetime/economic recovery periods. These are the same people who mostly sat aside and watched Trump severely threaten our diplomatic alliances overseas, and the liberal economic and political order internationally, in general. Worse, they increasingly adopted Putin talking points, in the process.

    I’ll give you that the corporate tax cut was great, but Democrats favored a smaller corporate tax cut anyway, and it’s a shame Republicans didn’t simply eliminate that tax cut altogether. If corporate taxes are so bad, and I think they are, why not go the full hog and eliminate them? Many of the limits on deductions were also good.

    So, what did the Republicans do with control of the Senate over the years, other than some tax cuts and judicial appointments? And how much damage did they cause on many other fronts?

    As far as comparisons to Hitler are concerned, Hitler was an ignorant thug populist, like nearly all fascists. None of them are genuises on anything, but perhaps propaganda designed for the large minorities that support them. He was probably more intelligent than Trump, but that’s not saying much. Fascism is not so much an ideology as it is a default mindset for the less intelligent and educated, particularly in times of relative economic scarcity.

    On my ideology, you have no idea how leftist I am. In fact, I’m more market-friendly than the vast majority of conservatives.

    I favor:

    1. Abolishing the FINRA/government regulatory relationship, cutting the SEC to the bone and having them only pursue financial fraud and theft.

    2. Total deregulation of the financial system, including banking, apart from fraud and theft, and the end of moral hazard. That also means free banking, with private currency issuance legalized. To be clear, that also means the privatization of monetary policy.

    3. Abolishing the Department of Energy, and spinning off the Nuclear regulatory commission, to regulate nuclear energy.

    4. Ending all occupational licensing, other than free, registration requirements, that can only be revoked after recourse to judicial review.

    5. 100% open borders, but more restrictions on citizenship. Make it easy for any non-criminal to live in the US as long as they want, but make citizenship have to be earned.

    6. Unilaterally drop all remaining trade barriers, to allow for 100% free international trade, except for the trade in banned weapons.

    7. End FDA authority to decide which drugs are on the market, relegating them to simply labeling drugs for safety and efficacy. Legalize all drugs for all buyers, without need of prescriptions, making all drugs, but antibiotics OTC. Antibiotics should still require prescriptions to avoid overuse.

    8. Abolish all government healthcare programs and subsidies(ideally), and virtually all welfare programs, in favor of a negative income tax that allows those with high medical costs to draw on the net present value of future UBI payments. That would be the UBI component of the negative income tax. Alternative would be a Singapore approach to healthcare.

    9. A shift in foreign policy to open neo-realism, in the context of supporting free markets and republican government around the world. That means a focus on power equilibria, in the context of international institutions which help facilitate international legal rules, norms, and forums to resolve disputes. This is old fashion balance of power diplomacy, in the post World War 2 context.

    Toward this end, I favor openly less squeamishness when it comes to spending blood and treasure to tip balances of power in our favor in every region of the world. We should ruthlessly punish the Russians in eastern Europe and the near east for their incursions, for example, through proxy wars, at the very least.

    Safe to say Democrats would not deliver on most of this agenda, and will probably move in opposite directions in many cases, but we only have one sane party right now, however corrupt, weak, cowardly, and incompetent.

  48. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    7. October 2020 at 15:31

    Oh, and I also favor extreme tax reform, including elimination of all taxes on business profit, investment, and income. Replace these taxes and most income taxes with consumption taxes that focus first on negative externalities, like carbon, and NIMBYism, and then move to progressive consumption taxes.

  49. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    7. October 2020 at 16:06

    Sean, You said:

    “Riddle me this – you are positive trumps going to win ”

    No I’m not.

    sty.silver, You said:

    “So this is what it looks like when you stop taking politics seriously?”


  50. Gravatar of Skeptical Skeptical
    7. October 2020 at 16:31

    Fascism is not so much an ideology as it is a default mindset for the less intelligent and educated

    No, fascism is a real, specific thing. It’s not a catchall term for “grouping of things I don’t like”.

    And a Republican Senate would block court packing and senate packing.

  51. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    7. October 2020 at 16:56


    I’m not sure what makes you think you can look down upon my perspective, but I’ve never seen any comments from you suggesting there’s any justification for thinking your perspective is superior. I guess it suffices to say that we define fascism differently. How do you define fascism?

    Fascism, as I see it, appeals to primitive evolutionarily driven and other cognitive biases. It is a perspective based on some combination of fear and loathing for “the other”, which appeals to apparent rather slight genetic differences that in more primitive times, with less secure resources, loomed far more important.

    This bias comes together with basic default misunderstandings about economics, such as nationalist, mercantilist views on international trade, and a general zero-sum view of macroeconomics.

    Your characature of my view on fascism is, needless to say, lazy and entirely unjustified at best. I don’t like communism either, but don’t throw communism in with fascism, for example.

  52. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    7. October 2020 at 16:59

    @Michael S:

    Thank you for the detailed reply, and many of your policy goals I share. But a Dem sweep of both branches will deliver almost none of those things.

    I just don’t like either party with the whole enchilada. Gridlock or compromise is my preferred situation. I'[m pretty centrist that way.

  53. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    7. October 2020 at 17:01


    I don’t think your perspective is entirely indefensible. I just put a big premium on defeating the kind of banana republicanism we’ve seen from Republicans over a long period of time now.

  54. Gravatar of Skeptical Skeptical
    7. October 2020 at 18:05

    I don’t want to spam Sumner’s blog. Suffice to say fascism has a definition, and word/definition inflation is awful and should be pushed back against at every opportunity. Words mean things. When we use words that mean X on Y because we don’t like Y, it cheapens X until it becomes a meaningless catch-all. I’ll leave you with some actual definitions of fascism and let you decide whether it still applies. And please no Eco, that’s definitionally definition inflation.

    Fascism is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and strong regimentation of society and of the economy

    Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete and regard the complete mobilization of society under a totalitarian one-party state as necessary to prepare a nation for armed conflict and to respond effectively to economic difficulties

    Tl;dr – no he isn’t a fascist, obviously. Let’s not cheapen the word by applying it to an orange Berlusconi

    I’ll leave you with a quote from Orwell in the 40s commenting on the same phenomenon 75 years ago:

    the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless … almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’

  55. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    7. October 2020 at 18:32


    I frankly find your comments absurd. Trump and Republicans clearly fit both descriptions of fascism. They clearly fit your cut and paste definition, which is no way is in opposition to anything I wrote about fascism.

    Is Trump not far right and authoritarian? Is he not ultranationalist? Is he not working hard to regiment society?

    Has he not tried to completely delegitimize political opposition, including the Democratic Party? Didn’t he even disallow Republican primaries, squashing all democratic opposition within the party? Ask Bill Weld, and others.

    And Burlesconi wasn’t fascist? lol At least you made me laugh.

    Also, simply posting a dictionary definition of fascism is meaningless. It’s like trying to win an argument on the nature of capital by posting a dictionary definition of the word. You frankly aren’t up for this type of discussion.

  56. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    7. October 2020 at 19:09

    Trump campaign cancels ads in Michigan and Wisconsin, along with Minnesota. He’s doing this, because his campaign is broke, much as he may soon be personally.


    This guy has almost never run any financial operation competently.

  57. Gravatar of Skeptical Skeptical
    7. October 2020 at 20:59

    I don’t want to get in a flame war, I don’t appreciate the ad hominem so I’ll leave it at this. Feel free to have the last word.

    Is Trump not far right and authoritarian? Is he not ultranationalist? Is he not working hard to regiment society?

    No he’s not ideological and certainly isn’t “far right”. If you had to place him on a political spectrum he would be essentially in the same place as immigration and trade skeptical 80s-90s Dems. Which makes sense, he donated to the Democrat party for decades.

    Is he authoritarian? In what sense? Has he issued more Executive Orders than his predecessors? More than anything else he seems uninterested in governance completely.

    Is he ultranationalist? No, he campaigned on “we’re just as bad” as other countries and ending the forever wars. If press reports are to be believed he considers soldiers “losers and suckers”. That’s not an ultranationalist, that’s an amoral opportunist.

    Is he regimenting society? No, there’s more civil disorder under this presidency than in the previous 8 years put together. What’s the opposite of regimenting society?

    And Burlesconi wasn’t fascist? lol At least you made me laugh.

    No, Burlesconi is not a fascist. And Forza Italia is not a fascist party.

    Also, simply posting a dictionary definition of fascism is meaningless. It’s like trying to win an argument on the nature of capital by posting a dictionary definition of the word. You frankly aren’t up for this type of discussion.

    I’ll forgive the personal attacks. Fascism has a definition. It’s a word with a clear meaning. I don’t like the guy either, but he’s definitely not a fascist. Philosophically, he doesn’t have a vision of installing a totalitarian one-party state and rebirthing the American people through mass mobilization, mass war, conquest, and genocide.

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