Late Night Open Thread: Toxic Backlash (Second Time As Farce)

The 1980s I remember were a mean, dishonest decade. People of color, then women, then not-strictly-heterosexual people had fought during the previous many years to make inroads on the “natural” assumption of White Male Hegemony, and — with the help of scientifically-minded nerds — made enough progress that the White Men and the ones who parasitized loved them felt besieged. The 80s were a noisy, hypercolored backlash that did its best to assert that White Men were Capitalism (rich, powerful, entitled) and Capitalism was, in every way, the Best of all possible worlds…

The backlash was good for illicit drug distributors, weapons dealers, synthetic fabric manufacturers, megachurch christianist marketeers, and the tiny coterie of media people “celebrating” the greed-is-good Gordon Gekko / Oliver North sellers of junk finance and overpowered weaponry. But then all the bubbles popped, and those of us who preferred to live outside a media phantasy of the 50s (1950s, 1850s, 1650s, depending on whether we’re discussing sociology, economics, or philosophy) kept right on pushing forward.

I have to believe that the current Trump-centered unpleasantness is an idiot child’s recreation of the culture Lord Smallgloves remembers from the days when he was young and (comparatively) rich and fit and in his milieu. Catherine Rampell, in the Washington Post:

Ever since he unveiled it on the campaign trail, President Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” has prompted an obvious question: When exactly was this mythical period when America was last great?

At last we know the answer: the 1980s.

When it comes to aesthetics or general world outlook, the Greed Is Good decade was clearly Trump’s formative period.

Wanna look classy? Slather your residence in gold, spangle it with chandeliers. Wanna convince strangers that you’re important? Pretend to be on the cover of Time magazine, still the greatest honor a person can achieve…

But Trump’s ’80s ethos is more than merely cosmetic. It affects his, and his party’s, most significant policies as well.

Take the GOP economic agenda, which has not been updated in (at least) 30 years.

Supply-siders still run the show, championing tax cuts as a growth elixir while conveniently ignoring their track record. All Trump and his cronies seem to remember is that there was this one time when Ronald Reagan cut taxes, and then . . . the economy grew.

They seem to have missed the role that monetary policy and the business cycle played in that mid-’80s growth spurt. Not to mention all the other changes in tax rates over the past century, in both directions, that reveal no discernible relationship between tax levels and long-term growth…

Somehow the Party of Ideas stopped coming up with them circa, oh, 1987. The question is: Why?

Well, arguably, this is what happens when you’re no longer advised by experts, of any political persuasion.

One core function of social science research is to measure and document consequences of policies, both intended and unintended. And not surprisingly, it turns out we’ve learned a lot in the past few decades about drugs, crime, poverty, the economy, international relations and all manner of other issues.

Over several decades, Republicans have become increasingly hostile to expertise, a hostility that blossomed into outright denunciation last year. Rather than consulting people who’ve researched any of this stuff, or even read any of that research, Trump prefers to craft policy based on things he vaguely remembers reading, perhaps in a tabloid, some 30 years ago…

The backlash didn’t last back then (although it sure seemed like it was gonna go on forever) and it won’t last this time, either. Our job as the “Immoral Minority” (I still have my pinback, somewhere!) is to keep pushing forward, remembering that the caterpillar can’t return to its cocoon.

ETA: Speaking of toxic reminders of the 1980s…

58 replies
  1. 1
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    I will just check in later.

  2. 2
    From Both Sides of the Pond says:

    Since this is an open thread – I have a collection of essays, publications, public history pieces, recorded lectures, and a speech or two I’d like to make publically accessible. Years ago I had built up what I felt was a nicely designed website thanks to Dreamweaver and a friend, but beyond taking some of its design elements, I’m not worried about resurrecting it as it was. So, the question from someone completely out of it – what’s the best place to get a free site to host those materials and has the tools to build/manage the site? FYWP is a religious mantra around here, so not sure what to think.

  3. 3
    Yarrow says:

    Over several decades, Republicans have become increasingly hostile to expertise,

    Isn’t that the whole thesis of Tom Nichols’ book? In any case, I’m not sure it’s quite right. Republicans are totally happy to listen to experts who will help them take money from poor people and enrich themselves and their benefactors.

    Has there been a Lily update today?

  4. 4
    hilts says:

    Speaking of farce:

    Charlie Rose, the former CBS anchor who was fired after he was accused of sexual misconduct, is reportedly lined up to appear in a series where he interviews other prominent men who have been brought down by similar allegations. Former Daily Beast editor in chief Tina Brown told Page Six that she was approached about producing the series but declined. A source told Page Six that the series would include interviews with former NBC anchor Matt Lauer and comedian Louis C.K., among others.


  5. 5
    Davebo says:

    @From Both Sides of the Pond: Despite the FYPW’s rants WordPress is a good CMS as is Joomla and others. Hosting, while not free is dirt cheap. Depending on the quality of your content I’d give you free hosting and might be willing to help with the site.

  6. 6
    B.B.A. says:

    @hilts: And yet it’d be illegal to firebomb the studio in mid-taping, despite that obviously being the morally correct course of action.

  7. 7
    hervevillechaizelounge says:


    I believe WordPress is free if you allow ads, or at least it used to be.

  8. 8
    Lyrebird says:

    @B.B.A.: Yeah I usually try to be more of a peace maker, but yeah. On a week that included the murder of those innocent passersby in Toronto by some creep who thinks the world owes him, and a week when Orangemandias is still in office, Clarence Thomas still employed, too, for that matter…


  9. 9
    Davebo says:

    @hervevillechaizelounge: You may be right. But for next to nothing a month for hosting run ads and keep the revenue for yourself! Or just slap an old Ubuntu box in the corner until you get to the point that you even need serious hosting.

  10. 10
    Mnemosyne says:

    After going to the Admin Professionals’ Day Party after work today, I can tell you one thing for sure, ladies and gents:

    If you have a strange bathroom habit at work and you think the assistants don’t know, you are living in a dream world, my friend. And that includes opposite-gender assistants.

  11. 11
    Roger Moore says:


    Republicans are totally happy to listen to experts who will help them take money from poor people and enrich themselves and their benefactors.

    But that has everything to do with helping them take money from poor people to enrich themselves and nothing to do with the people telling them how being experts. They’ll happily listen to complete morons, like the one squatting in the White House, as long as those morons are telling them what they want to hear.

  12. 12
    Mike J says:

    @From Both Sides of the Pond: WP is fine if you’re ok with it out of the box, or if some standard plugins and templates work for you. It’s better for low volume sites. Nothing is really optimized for performance, but it does have a lot of options. It is perfectly fine for most people up until the time when you start measuring hits per second rather than per day (which is a ludicrously low threshold for decent software, but really is ok for most people).

  13. 13
    Mary G says:

    For a break from politics, this thread about France’s Red Zone, the area where the main trenches from WWI are still quarantined, is really interesting:

    One of the most chilling abandoned places in the world is France's Red Zone, or "Zone Rouge". Over 100 years ago, the First World War so devastated the landscape here that people are still forbidden to enter, & the zone has become a ghostly & overgrown place.— Paul 🌹📚 Cooper (@PaulMMCooper) April 25, 2018

    In terms of the post, it shows how long scars can last from things – I’m thinking Trump will leave similar scars, maybe not physical, but it feels like the battles between Jefferson and Hamilton, The North and South, are still lingering on today.

  14. 14
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Supply side has always been incredibly stupid. It’s fitting that a dunce like Reagan embraced it.

  15. 15
    Mary G says:

    I’m in moderation for posting a tweet with two links, for unknown reasons. Can somebody let it out?

  16. 16
    Ruckus says:

    Conservative bullshit goes back a lot longer than the 1980s. Even if lord small dick is stuck there. Ronnie didn’t come up with the idea of fucking working people and the economy all on his own, he wasn’t that capable. And of course some of those jackoffs are still alive and serving up conservative bullshit to this day. The line about the 50s and trying to decide the 50s of which century is spot on. Life has gotten better for a lot of people in several ways. It has stayed almost exactly the same for black men with the difference being shot in the open rather than beaten and hung. And it has gotten worse for those of us not gifted with a reasonably large inheritance or at least a paid for college education.

  17. 17
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Yarrow: Nichols is, ironically, I suppose, still a die-hard Rethug. He just doesn’t care for the idiocy of Trump or the naked racism (it’s supposed to be a dog whistle, you idiot, not an air raid siren!) of the bulk of the party.

    Economically, he’s as broken as the rest of them.

  18. 18
    Roger Moore says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Supply side has always been incredibly stupid.

    The goal wasn’t to be a smart policy. The goal was to justify further enriching the rich. Everything else was window dressing.

  19. 19

    At least Patton Oswalt’s wife nabbed the Golden State Killer.

  20. 20
    From Both Sides of the Pond says:

    @Mike J: My volume would definitely be low – I’m a medieval historian whose day job (Dept. Chair at a prep school) is sufficiently divorced from my research interest that posting is a mid-to-low priority. This is mostly to have a place to point to when people ask “Do you have the text of that piece last year?” or “Did someone video that speech or tv appearance”? That being said, I have the occasional public interest thing to shoot out there. I don’t really want to go with a blog format, as it would simple appear neglected. Some friends of mine use wordpress, theme 27 apparently.

  21. 21
    Ruckus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    Of course supply side economics was stupid, it’s a conservative financial idea.
    Boiled down it’s give to the rich and diddle yourself while they steal everything else. They have no other concepts. Everyone getting paid to push this bullshit is hoping to be able to live off the spilled crumbs and the gratitude of their paymasters. When they’ve stolen everything else, the crumbs are next.

  22. 22
  23. 23
    B.B.A. says:

    @Roger Moore: Incredibly stupid can win elections. That’s why, despite my misgivings about tying the party to an unbelievably expensive boondoggle that has no chance of succeeding, I’ve come around to supporting the “jobs guarantee” proposed by the junior senators from NJ and NY. Hey, it’s still less stupid than the wall.

  24. 24
    NotMax says:

    synthetic fabric manufacturers

    Holy Duparooh, Batman.

  25. 25
    Ruckus says:

    @From Both Sides of the Pond:
    You can make a page look pretty much how ever you want with WP or Blogger. Turn off comments and it can easily look like a hosted web page. It takes a little work to set up but it’s not difficult. And as others have said if your traffic is low everything is fine. When your traffic gets too high is when you have issues. But it sounds like you don’t expect that. I have two blogs, one WP and one Blogger and I found it rather easy to set up.

  26. 26
    Mary G says:

    I guess there won’t be a Lily update today.

  27. 27
    Roger Moore says:

    @Mary G:

    I guess there won’t be a Lily update today.

    At this point, though, no update is probably a good sign; it means things are enough back to normal that Cole doesn’t feel the need to tell us about every little detail.

  28. 28
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Mary G:
    @Roger Moore:
    No news is good news, I guess, but what you (and I) really want to see is more of that adorable face with them big brown eyes.

  29. 29
    kindness says:

    Reagan was terrible. Dubya was abysmal. Trump is an abomination. Each time, I thought it could never get worse than this. I’ve been wrong twice so far. I pray we never see a third. That’d be shitty all the way around.

  30. 30
    Mary G says:

    @Roger Moore: @Amir Khalid: I was going to tweet at John, but decided that was too stalkerish. I did read his whole day’s tweets and he said that Rosie could have prednisone in cheese if she got cancer, so I decided all is well and am going to bed.

  31. 31
    Ruckus says:

    Well they keep wanting to do the same bullshit over and over and over and over……. How does it feel to be completely fucked by half a country (most of whom will be just as fucked as you) just so some rich fucks could be richer at your expense and/or some asshole fundies could wallow in the shit they said you couldn’t do but it’s OK for them?

  32. 32

    @Ruckus: Well, at least we avoided that lady and her e-mail server.

  33. 33
    Karen Potter says:

    @Butthurt Jordan Trombone (fka XTPD): I was glad to hear that he was finally caught, I lived in Sacramento area when he was active there; the friends I lived with had a couple of yappy little dogs so when the Police came to door to warn us that place nearby had been hit he said they were probably our best protection.
    Chatting with a friend earlier and I said I would like to live in world where you didn’t have law enforcement coming to your door to warn you about sexual predators; every place I have lived this has happened. Even when lived in the country, had the sheriff come by and suggest I keep a dog in house at night rather than put in kennel.
    The friend made comment about not only do we have them living and active in any area people actually put one in the Oval Office.

  34. 34
    Ruckus says:

    What a motherfucking relief!
    Can you imagine having to listen to a human being who can talk in adult fashion with complete thoughts that just might not involve her and have an agenda that doesn’t involve fucking the majority of the people that voted for her and every single person that didn’t, not to mention she actually seems to know intelligent people who aren’t constantly looking over their shoulder wondering if their past, and present, is going to catch up with them and will it involve federal incarceration or just empty out their offshore bank accounts. Not only that but she knows how to smile. Can you imagine that!
    Boy did we ever miss a disaster this time……..

  35. 35
    Ruckus says:

    But you know having a president who looks like a horrible animatronic experiment programed with constant diarrhea that comes out it’s mouth and isn’t nearly as intelligent, now that’s entertainment.

  36. 36
    Davebo says:

    @Mike J: You must be working with a different WordPress.

    It scales really well with an elastic architecture. Just ask the New Yorker, Mercedes Benz USA, BBC America, Sony Music etc. etc.

    PHP is old these days, but the web still runs on it to a great extent. Developers are doing amazing things with WordPress (and Joomla and other CMS options).

  37. 37
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Karen Potter:

    I saw Patton Oswalt at the LA Times Festival of Books this weekend and the stuff he was saying this guy did was SUPER creepy. Like, he would sneak into the victims’ houses over the course of several weeks or months to stash the things he would use later, like handcuffs and ligatures. One woman was cleaning house when she turned over her couch cushions and found a pair of handcuffs hidden there. 😱

  38. 38
    Mel says:

    @Mnemosyne: Wow. That is horrifying.

    It took me several months to feel safe in our house after an ugly break-in during a rash of Christmas-time burglaries in our area.

    I can’t imagine what finding items stashed in one’s house, with the clear intent to harm someone, would do to a person’s state of mind.

  39. 39
    prostratedragon says:

    From the late ’80s, probably recorded in NYC,
    Ollie’s Doowop,” Rubén Blades

    (Actually, a scan of the Sandinista post below got me nostalgic.)

  40. 40
    Arclite says:

    When you have Tom Nichols defending diversity, you know you’re wrong.

  41. 41
    Mnemosyne says:


    In addition to all of the other feelngs, I bet there would be a weird form of survivor’s guilt since other women in that area were raped and even murdered by the same guy. You would wonder every day what might have happened if you hadn’t turned that cushion over in time.

  42. 42
    joel hanes says:

    Have you noticed the slow news day?

    PFC: Nice night. It’s really quiet out there, Sarge.

    SFC: Yeah, quiet. Too quiet. I don’t like it.

  43. 43
    Karen Potter says:

    @Mnemosyne: I once read up on the number of people actually report being raped vs the number being raped; it is not a good statistic. I know when the police came to the door to warn neighborhood they were also trying to gauge if he had hit that home; had a friend at time who was in law enforcement. Women alone weren’t reporting being raped, since the attitude was and still is that they were somehow to blame for being raped.
    I lived in Sunnyvale in early 70’s, upstairs apartment of four-plex; had police come to door and warn of rapist active in area, he was hitting upstairs apartments, women home alone with small children. I fit the profile, he was hitting while the husbands were at work; the police were asking all young mothers to please report if attacked since he was almost impossible to catch. Seems many weren’t out of fear of husbands reactions; the rapist was threatening the children so the women were being quiet while being raped and not trying to fight. He was caught when man stayed home from work sick.

  44. 44
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Karen Potter:

    Apparently the book talks about how the social attitudes of the time helped the guy get away with his crimes for as long as he did. The local cops were skeptical that there was a serial rapist (and, eventually, serial killer) on the loose for way too long.

  45. 45
    Brachiator says:


    Reagan was terrible. Dubya was abysmal. Trump is an abomination.

    Well, at least there’s been some progress.;)

    Sadly, a very apt description of the increasing vileness of these GOP presidents.

  46. 46
    Karen Potter says:

    @Mnemosyne: I read a “new book” about 4 years ago, and the attitude hasn’t changed; not only that we have cadet bone spurs and cosby both public figures blaming the women.
    I know that if you report being raped there is a good chance that you will be blamed for the attack, even when someone posts a rape on internet more often than not the victim is blamed.
    This has got me to point where having trouble falling asleep; I have listened to so many women over years who were told it was somehow their fault. Or the line that boyfriends and husbands use; that they aren’t good at sex, or their are cold. Thanks to the “Christians” and white males, it is the women’s fault and it isn’t really rape.
    Nothing gets to me more than watching these “males” who believe they have the right to treat women as vessels for their sperm, who are responsible for turning back the calendar and writing laws that they claim are pro life. If they were pro life they wouldn’t be sending young men and women off to die so they can get rich.

  47. 47
    Karen Potter says:

    @Mnemosyne: I don’t think we will ever know the true number of women that he raped, some will have buried it, some will have died, some will have killed themselves and some will still be too afraid of what friends, family, even husbands would say.

  48. 48
    opiejeanne says:

    @Karen Potter: English is not your first language? The words you drop from your posts and the fact that you lived in Sacto suggests your first language might be Russian?

  49. 49
    Karen Potter says:

    @opiejeanne: English is only language, I not only think faster than can type but have always had problem with what words fit or are needed. Dad used to tell me to slow down and remember to say all the words that I am thinking. The only time I come close to doing that is when I write with fountain pen, but even then I still leave words out. The fact that you would even think Russian is funny or at least I think it is funny; I have spent a lot of my life around people for whom English is their second language.
    What does live in Sacramento area even have to do with it?

  50. 50
    raven says:

    @Karen Potter: My brother went to Sac State and McGeorge!

  51. 51
    Karen Potter says:

    @raven: The time I spent in Sacramento wasn’t the best time of my life; I ended up there since a house opened up that I could not only afford but had bedrooms enough that my children didn’t have to share. I also thought that being there rather than staying in Sunnyvale was better since it meant that ex wasn’t always dropping by to check up on me; turned out it was just far enough away that he decided to take total custody of children. I then ended staying in area for a couple more years, a nervous breakdown takes a lot out of a person. And I hoped to see my children on weekends; turned out he took them to Tennessee and left them with his brother.

  52. 52
    raven says:

    @Karen Potter: He hated it there. He always liked to say it was the largest metro area in the US without cable and he’s as nutty a sorts fan as am. He did like to gamble at Tahoe.

  53. 53
    Karen Potter says:

    @raven: The family I ended living with was near enough to the air force base that we were usually in landing or take off pattern; the only good thing about the base was he was retired and could shop at PX

  54. 54
    PST says:

    I used to stay at the Lions Gate Hotel near McClellan Air Force Base when visiting my kids in Sacramento. It was a unique place converted from what I recall as rows of officers’ quarters of some kind.

  55. 55
    laura says:

    @raven: me too. I had no plans to go to law school, but McGeorge pestered/recruited me while I was at Sac State. I always believed Sacramento was a shit-hole place where culture went to die- and that’s true of the surrounding areas, but the City proper is so lovely and the trees and parks and neighborhoods and that guy/spouse stole my heart. I love it.
    We’re getting together tonight with a friend who has followed the earon/golden state killer since his yoot who he believes he knew or grew up with. Yesterday, Michelle McNamara made his, and everyone else’s day.

  56. 56
    SFAW says:

    @joel hanes:

    Have you noticed the slow news day?
    PFC: Nice night. It’s really quiet out there, Sarge.
    SFC: Yeah, quiet. Too quiet. I don’t like it.

    FSM has heard your prayers

  57. 57
    opiejeanne says:

    @Karen Potter: A not small population of Russian immigrants live in and around Sacramento.
    The tendency with Russian speakers is to drop “the” and “a”. and “my” when speaking/writing in English. I’ve never seen or heard anyone else do this, and when I read your posts I hear Natasha’s voice.

  58. 58
    frosty says:

    @Mary G: The two battles you mentioned go back to the English Civil War between the Roundheads and Cavaliers. Nothing is ever finished.

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