Curb your enthusiasm. But give free rein to your Schadenfreude


So dear old Dobbin, aka Bernie Sanders, seems to have ‘won’ the New Hampshire primary by a rather impressive margin.

This is, of course, good news. As far as it goes. Which isn’t very far.

What’s good about it is the fury and chagrin it seems to have caused among the Clintons, mere, pere, et fille, and people like Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem. Only a heart of stone could fail to rejoice at the discomfiture of these monsters. One hopes their various heads explode on live television, though this seems unlikely, alas. We are speaking here of people with a vast sense of entitlement and self-regard; but they are also experienced, tough-fibred old stagers, accustomed from of old to the ups and downs of electoral politics. As regards the vile Clintons, it’s the family business. No doubt Chelsea was reading polls, instead of the Berenstain Bears, at the age of four.

Still, a guy can dream, eh?

But there are dreams we should not entertain, for the sake of our own self-respect. One such is that Bernie might be the Democratic Party nominee. In general, I think that people who try to predict the future are fools, on the the principle that You Can’t Make This Shit Up, but I think it’s a reasonably safe bet that the machine will end up operating in its usual way.

But say he were the nominee? Say he won the general election? Oddly, it doesn’t seem impossible to me that if he were the nominee, he might win against Trump, or Cruz, or whatever loon the Republicans nominate. I could see young people turning out, the way they did for Obie. You have to be disappointed more than once or twice before you give up.

But suppose, piling one Pelion of improbability upon another Ossa of unlikelihood — suppose he won? What might we expect from him?

The record is unencouraging. Basically, he’s just another Democrat, in spite of his coy independent/socialist grass skirt.

But Terence, this is stupid stuff. Here I am trying, yet again, to find a way to tell my friends not to take this pantomime seriously — and in order to do that, I must pretend to take it seriously, and entertain all the far-fetched hypotheticals, and run regressions on the stats, and pay attention to polls.

What I would like to do is persuade my friends to stop doing all that. It’s like handicapping the Oscars, or the Super Bowl, and the outcome makes just about as much difference.

23 thoughts on “Curb your enthusiasm. But give free rein to your Schadenfreude

  1. Supposing he “won”, he’ll be able to spread values learned during his stay at kibbutz although they seem to have become more hard-headed when it comes to matters colonial since Bernie was last seen there wearing his rose-tinted lenses:

  2. Obviously the next POTUS–esp. a Congressionally opposed Sanders–will have less actual power than Cleon I. My number one rule is don’t conflate title with power. But. There’s something to this zeitgeist. At any rate, whatever sends the editors of Vox into a state of apoplexy is good thing, and perhaps shouldn’t be discounted totally.

  3. welcome back MJS! you just couldn’t resist….and we are glad you couldn’t.

    is there anything about B.S.’s foreign policy “positions” that doesn’t make one (ok, me) roll his eyes about the Burn’s domestic policies, too? is he threatening one penny of the pentagon budget? in what is he not another run of the mill neolib R2P Zio-Con? beside the fact that none of us really know how much bearing a politico’s stage-crafted persona has on anything it (sic) does in office, but having witnessed the 2nd Coming w/Obama (i saw the glory 1st hand here in D.C.!) mightn’t we all be a little sceptical?

    i’m not a big US American history buff, preferring, like Livy, to look away from these evil modern times, at least sometimes, but he’s not the 1st American, even in the 21st c., to be peddling this kind of faux-progressive B.S. who was that feller that gave that cross of gold speech & resigned from office over the war in europe, iirc?

  4. Portland Indymedia

    newswire article commentary global 09.Feb.2016 21:32
    actions & protests | election fraud
    Old Times — Good Times — Teenage Love
    author: blues
    Their signal is too strong. Our message is not getting through.

    Mary Wells – My Guy

    Get strategic score voting. We do not need this two-party insanity.

    I keep pointing out that strategic score (“simple score”) voting Can Be Completely Described in one short simple sentence: Strategically bid no vote at all (ignore them as if the did not exist), or strategically bid from five (5) to ten (10) votes to any number of candidates you wish (up to some reasonable limit, say 20 candidates), and then simply add all the votes up.

    Of course, with no machines. NOTHING ELSE EVEN BEGINS TO WORK!

    That way, you could (say, in a general election, presuming you are are leftist) write in Cynthia McKinney and bid her 10 votes, and bid Bernard Sanders 8 or 9 votes as a hedge (depending on your choice of strategy). This would completely disrupt the alleged two-party system. The oppressive duopolists can always use strategy, so strategy must be available to the common voters if they are to win.

    Writing in Cynthia McKinney might be a great strategy, if you had strategic score.

    You need to explain 10.Feb.2016 05:30
    Mike Novack

    “This would completely disrupt the alleged two-party system”

    WHY do you think that? Explain your reasoning. For your examples (of how this would work) do not use JUST your current issue (an unrepresented interest to the left) but include unrepresented interests to the right and in the middle (as MIGHT end up being the case in the upcoming presidential election). Assume various sets of people would use their “simple score” votes in certain ways and examine the election outcome and repeat for different distribution of preferences. Did all of these tend to break the hold of the major parties? Or was the result that the PLURALITY winner (and that is all that you would have) was winning by a smaller margin in terms of total votes counted <>

    When Arrow et al proved no perfect system possible they did NOT mean given some particular division of interests in the population <>

    And when you describe other options as NEEDING machines, well that is more a matter of our desires and expectations of instant gratification (how fast the results are achieved). Please, I am NOT a fan of plain IRV. But that method does not REQUIRE machines <> Nor am I necessarily a fan of “proportional representation”, but that doesn’t require machines any more than “simple score” does.

    There’s Nothing To Explain, Actually 10.Feb.2016 11:10
    blues link

    Well, Mike, “Election methods theory” is mostly a scam in which colleges devise nearly worthless courses (that students pay big money for). Most all of their computer models, faulty experiments, game theory, “criteria”, and other rigamarole is merely mental masturbation. And “Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem” does not apply to score voting methods. (Disclosure: I love higher order symbolic logic, and dislike game theory.)

    Therefor, most discussions about these systems are now profoundly incoherent. About ten years ago the Ford Foundation, Carnegie Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, et al. financed movements to heavily promote IRV, which resulted in disaster for several local governments. Some of their confusing final IRV tallies actually led to plurality results, and IRV can even create situations where two candidates can have “more than 50%” of the “votes” simultaneously.

    The term “plurality” is often misused; what we use now is really a “single-selection” voting method. Many members of the astroturf IRV movements touted deceptive information and arguments. So I don’t believe actual IRV voting was ever utilized without machine counting. The methods used by the cited communities were probably oversimplified, or the tabulations were sham rituals.

    Systems that require anything more elaborate than simple addition are going to require machine tabulation; this is outright common sense.

    It is obvious that strategic score voting is completely neutral with regard to political orientation (leftist, moderate, rightist, etc.) The point of it is to disrupt the spoiler effect, and thus the two-party syndrome. This is accomplished by, for example, allowing each voter to bid 10 votes for candidates that the truly desire, and say, 9 votes for lesser evil candidates. Thus they will have sacrificed merely 10% of their franchise (voting power) if some lesser evil one wins.

    Virtually all academic voting theorists presuppose that elections are contests between candidates, when they are predominantly contests between powerful elite interests (who always use strategy) and the common citizens, who become the real losers. Yet these theorists construct systems that thwart the use of strategy by the common voters, who are encouraged to vote “honestly”, or “sincerely”; in other words, artlessly and thus hopelessly.

    I actually think this discussion moot 11.Feb.2016 09:09

    The point at which actual proposals for enactment into law, or to enact a budget, etc. in legislatures will still apply the same yes or no principles as ‘majority rules’. Things naturally devolve to that simple dichotomy. How you elect those who vote in those situations makes a difference only at the representational level.

    On it’s face, simple score may seem absurd, but that is the nature of reaching some consensus upon manageable questions in a group of equals. It might be characterized as a distillation process, and that, in effect, is the character taken on by the voting for general representation. What it may force is much more positional compromise among candidates, or resort to gangster-style politics. If gangster-type politics prevails, that is the fault of the represented. I grew up with Chicago politics during and just after the 1st Daley. (Gotta admit the man had balls…but he had tradition behind him, too) It was ‘the city that worked’, everyone knew how and why it worked, so…One year the Repugs even tried to run an openly Jewish, business-oriented candidate. I think he got 6 votes.

    Personally, I think a simple score voting method ‘may’ distill the power of large parties, especially at the local level. I’d really welcome that. Some of these ‘fluff’ candidates might have some real challenge. Mike certainly has a point in saying “in other words, you managed to increase the vote counts of the losing candidates without ever, or only rarely, changing who won”, I’m simply admitting that such may actually be the case, not that it must be. What I would compare simple score voting to is an open primary without party sanction. Hell, the parties use taxpayer money for their voting process in closed affairs now. A one-and-done simple score vote will not do, though, to make the practice effective. It has to be a distillation process, and eventually get to a small number of candidates for a final vote, which leads one pretty much back to the beginning.

    Of necessity, simple score will need machines, and to be acceptable to me, then, on any level other than what I have now for the voting process, will require an overhaul of both the machines and their management. Personally, on a national level, I don’t see why hand-counts only aren’t done. But I think that public desire for participating at that level isn’t great enough to support that. People are so turned-off by the voting process that realizing 50-60% is only possible by allowing people to vote from their armchair for what appears to be the most important offices, something we only afforded those with circumstance that doesn’t allow their normal, physical presence. As it is, too, one finds quite reliable participation from some classes of individuals that don’t represent a majority of a given population. A distillation process only invites voter fatigue.

    But to get back to the point, if simple score could be a distillation process, and find some way to manage and inspire participation, I think Mike’s arguement at best, just points to what is already here in one form or another. While the math doesn’t lie, its assumptions in human affairs don’t not have to hold. (Is that going to be the downfall of modern man? He’s too busy reasoning to stop and smell the shit?) Simple score might make the front end of the process that isn’t very publicly transparent more clear to the voter. Eventually it will have to default to a manageable number of candidates for a final vote. One-and-done cannot be acceptable for simple score. In any case, the parties as an apparatus will still exist, and candidates using their services, special interests, and money will still exist.

    Same as it ever was…With a twist.

    add comment to discussion

    This comment was refused!!!

    Why On Earth Is This Discussion “Moot”???

    It will take only a moderate amount of effort to see how this could, to an astonishing degree, free us. This is about a simple strategic score voting method; and it is called simple for a reason. I said:

    “….strategic score (“simple score”) voting _can be completely described_ in one short simple sentence: Strategically bid no vote at all (ignore them as if the did not exist), or strategically bid from five (5) to ten (10) votes to any number of candidates you wish (up to some reasonable limit, say 20 candidates), and then simply add all the votes up.”

    Then shaker said:

    “Of necessity, simple score will need machines, and to be acceptable to me, then, on any level other than what I have now for the voting process, will require an overhaul of both the machines and their management.”

    I say that that is not what should happen.

    Let’s do a strategic score election. Several of the votes listed below would have to be write-ins even where that is not noted, since only one candidate will receive their party’s nomination.

    My votes were strategically based upon candidate’s political orientation, past performance, and pragmatic considerations. I gave Patrick Buchanan 5 bids only because of his great aversion to foreign wars, since nothing else will matter if someone starts a third world war.

    Here are the bids (votes cast) by blues and by “Joe Blow”:

    ———- blues’ bids: ———-

    ( 5) Buchanan, Patrick (Write-in)
    (Ignore, nothing) Bush, John “Jeb”, Governor
    (Ignore, nothing) Clinton, Hillary, Senator
    (Ignore, nothing) Cruz, Rafael “Ted”, Senator
    (Ignore, nothing) Kasich, John, Governor
    (10) Kucinich, Dennis, Congressman (Write-in)
    (10) McKinney, Cynthia, Congresswoman (Write-in)
    ( 9) Sanders, Bernard “Bernie” (Senator)
    ( 9) Stein, Jill
    (Ignore, nothing) Trump, Donald
    (10) Ventura, Jesse, Governor (Write-in)
    ( 9) Warren, Elizabeth, Senator (Write in)
    ( 7) Webb, Jim , U.S. Senator (Write in)

    ———- Joe Blow’s bids: ———-

    ( 7) Buchanan, Patrick (Write-in)
    (Ignore, nothing) Bush, John “Jeb”, Governor
    ( 9) Clinton, Hillary, Senator
    (10) Cruz, Rafael “Ted”, Senator
    (10) Kasich, John, Governor
    (Ignore, nothing) Kucinich, Dennis, Congressman (Write-in)
    (Ignore, nothing) McKinney, Cynthia, Congresswoman (Write-in)
    (Ignore, nothing) Sanders, Bernard “Bernie” (Senator)
    (Ignore, nothing) Stein, Jill
    ( 8) Trump, Donald
    ( 5) Ventura, Jesse, Governor (Write-in)
    (Ignore, nothing) Warren, Elizabeth, Senator (Write in)
    (Ignore, nothing) Webb, Jim , U.S. Senator (Write in)

    ———- Now just add up these votes: ———-

    ([5+7] = 12) Buchanan, Patrick (Write-in)
    ([0+0] = no votes) Bush, John “Jeb”, Governor
    ([0+9] = 9) Clinton, Hillary, Senator
    ([0+10] = 10) Cruz, Rafael “Ted”, Senator
    ([0+10] = 10) Kasich, John, Governor
    ([10+0] = 10) Kucinich, Dennis, Congressman (Write-in)
    ([10+0] = 10) McKinney, Cynthia, Congresswoman (Write-in)
    ([9+0] = 9) Sanders, Bernard “Bernie” (Senator)
    ([9+0] = 9) Stein, Jill
    ([0+8] = 8) Trump, Donald
    ([10+5] = 15) Ventura, Jesse, Governor (Write-in)
    ([9+0] = 9) Warren, Elizabeth, Senator (Write in)
    ([7+0] = 7) Webb, Jim , U.S. Senator (Write in)

    ——- This tally is reported by the voting station ——-

    With 16 [Correction: 15] votes, Jesse Ventura wins if just blues and Joe Blow vote at this voting station (employing strategy if we are not artless). These results are hand counted, then announced, and then forwarded to a larger tallying station.

    This only requires simple addition, so no machines are needed.

    shaker said:

    “Mike certainly has a point in saying “in other words, you managed to increase the vote counts of the losing candidates without ever, or only rarely, changing who won”, I’m simply admitting that such may actually be the case, not that it must be. What I would compare simple score voting to is an open primary without party sanction.”

    Not quite: Once the voters learn the basic practical strategies it will certainly change who wins. Most citizens do greatly desire social security, freedom, and avoidance of foreign war. No political parties are required, although there presumably would be political associations. Note that in a real election, unlike in this abbreviated example, there would not be a tendency to have tied vote scores.

    In this abbreviated example Jesse Ventura won. In fact, the powerful elite interests lost and the common people won! That would be highly improbable with any other machine-free election method. If our present single-selection (“plurality”) method had been used, then “Ted” Cruz or Hillary Clinton might well have been elected as president. This method can be used to elect congresspeople, or in other kinds of elections in which powerful elite interests intrude to thwart will of the common people.


    (So sorry to interrupt your regular programming, but nuclear war is involved.)

  5. OK I’ve said it. Won’t do this again.

    So happy to have you back. Always admired your overall fineness. I have a lot of puzzle pieces missing, but you don’t. I don’t care actually, but it is amazing. This is maybe a place for you to be your inner poet. So I’ll respect that from now on. The world is so full of things to see. And I even have a few odd bits I wish to hide!

    Yet honestly, I’ve never felt schadenfreude. I at least can say that much. I wonder how it feels. Seriously. There must be something that drives you to suffer this blog. Probably something unimaginable to me.

  6. We gotta start with the great music born of suffering:

    Marvin Gaye – Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)

    OK. So I lived not far from the bad side of the tracks. Which was actually the great side. It was black people (negroes) livin’ in shacky housing on the bad side. They were my friends. Also knew white people, some criminals. Some famous scholars. Didn’t make no difference.

    Then the neocons bulldozed all the negroes’ shacky housing and put up the “projects” (Danbury, Connecticut). Then — Big crime. Drugs. Etc.

    The olden housing, dilapidated, was a real community. The “projects” (brick prisons) were not. Then the drugs took over.

    Now we think we are bound and beholden to vote for Hillary the fascist, just because she’s a woman, and the voting machines will cast our votes for us anyhow.

    Boycott the “election”. Get out on the street and say you won’t vote!

    (Then vote anyway, since your vote will count for more due to the people you persuaded to not vote.)

    Always use strategy. Your owners will use it every time.

    Don’t fuck with me about the rich college Pedobear “problem”, thank you.

  7. I find some solace and amusement at the prospect of Killary collapsing on the lawn when she hears the bad news, her last words being “ close..yaaaargh.” But I think the nation might be better off getting humped and dumped by Trump than being taken alive by the rotten hounds of the Bernie crew.

    I don’t want to try calculating the odds, as you say, but there is a tiny chance Trump may represent a wing of the establishment that is tired of business as usual in the Middle East. I see zero chance Bernie will be anything other than Obama II, or is it Clinton IV? Whatever.

    • Yeah you’re right Sean. “solace and amusement“ What a lovely dance.

      Hillary Clinton is the most evil person on earth.

      Hillary Clinton on Gaddafi: We came, we saw, he died

      Yeah why not vote for the most evil creature on earth?

      Why? Why not?

      Vote for the Military-Security-Media complex. They always win anyway.

      Or stand in front of the voting stations and block the infernal doors!

      • so you are with sean on the trump thing?

        i’m not getting off my ass to register to vote, BUT if the choice is trump v bernie, of course bernie. at least that’s my gut reaction. might have to think about that.

        but if it’s trump v HRC, i say screw it, let’s go w/the Hair. who of these will be “better” than the other? by what standard? who will be the least dreary? well, hell, VOTE TRUMP!!!!

        • I have no more faith in Trump than I do in Santa Claus. But he does have a way of saying things that are largely forbidden in US politics, such as that our “allies” including a certain country in the Mideast which he can’t name are funding ISIS, or that Bush lied about WMDs and the Iraq war was a disaster that never should have happened. When it comes to the celebrity wrestlemania that is the US electoral system, anyone who infuriates the Republican establishment and induces apoplexy in the rent-a-yentas at sites like Gawker is worth it for the entertainment value alone. Anybody expecting any value above that will be sorely disappointed.

          He is the only candidate running who is even remotely anti-war. Bernie is just another warmongering Zionist with as much blood on his hands as Killary. Bernie promises to finance castles in Spain and free ponies with a tax on Wall Street speculation. Just don’t touch the military budget.

  8. I totally love you, Michael J Smith. No worries for your wife, though; I love for what you are. Please keep being that. (For as long as possible, at least.)

    Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow do!

    The world will spin again. It loves to do that. I may be crazy but it’s truthful.

  9. So awesome to have you back MJS! Really missed you and the blog man.

    And your post, as usual, touches on a subject that’s been vexing me. I really appreciate your thoughts on Bernie, because it’s difficult to not be hopeful. The logical side of my brain says things will be the same, or different in no appreciable way, but another part of me says that it might be different this time because at least the issues people identify him with seem to me to be the sincere motivation of many of his backers. Plus, he seems to have to be really working to win the voters over, meaning he seems more susceptible to pressure, unlike with Obama, who was treated as a Messiah coming to save us.

  10. I’m beginning to hope it will be Clinton vs. Cruz, and then nobody votes.

    Decades ago I read a book by this incredibly resourceful man who lived off the land in western Canada on the Peace River. He hadn’t seen a newspaper or talked to anybody in ten years. When he finally “emerged” from paradise, he felt he was a much finer person due to being completely unaware of all the dirty low-down “news” of the “world”.

    He knew that he would be doomed if he could not find his way back to his little shack by the river. So when he went foraging he walked off at an angle, keeping in a straight line by spotting hills and natural land marks, reaching them, and then establishing a new landmark that formed a straight line with his previous land mark. Then he would reach that one. On his return, he did the same thing but at a somewhat different angle that would always lead to a point upstream on the Peace River. From there, he simply followed the river downstream until he came upon his crucial little shack. Nice!

    After ten years, he felt his isolation had taught him peace, wisdom, and purity.

    Once at the university I suggested to the professors that any time we learn anything we pay for that knowledge with a bit of our souls. They did not like that idea at all for some reason.

    I’m afraid this election is likely to lead to an awful lot of soul lossage.

  11. I think I believed this’d become SMBIPA. Happy to be proved wrong. You won’t be by Bernie, even if it did get that far.

    His latest message that he’s no friend to Kissinger is fine and all that, but he’s already promised to support Kissinger’s darling if she’s nominated. As an independent, there are things he doesn’t say that matter. Like, how Kissinger’s modus operandi mirror those of the party whose nomination he alleges to seek. It’s not just that his opponent weighs opinions from a broad range of sources. It’s that the party she belongs to makes the same choices Sanders claimed are genocidal and he’s got bupkus to say about it.

    The conspirotard in me says both Bernie and Don are running interference. If not wittingly, it’s the end-effect anyway.

  12. At this point, I’m for whatever will make Paul Krugman’s and Ezra Klein’s heads explode. Such an outcome would have to be good and just by definition.

  13. Trump: for single payer; against Iraq and (it generally seems) idiotic military interventions generally, about as far from Kristol and the Podhoretzes as you can get; for taxing the hedge fund crooks; seemingly pro-union; bitterly anti-“free trade”….and not afraid to say any of it in plain English. Relative to the field, what’s to hate exactly? And I often dream of the moment when, before millions, he excoriates Hillary on the debate stage for her Iraq vote, her pro free trade stances, and the filthy lucre she took from Goldman.

    • The Donald is looking more and more enticing by the day, although his grand pronouncements against Muslims is difficult to digest and makes me worry of the consequences should he be elected.

  14. All my friends are full on “feeling the Bern” and I’m just this old stick in the mud who keeps reminding them that Bernie will just disappoint them the same way Obama did.

    Nobody likes me much when I do that but I feel obligated to say something truthful from time to time.

    To make them like me again I supply beer and weed and then everything is fine.

Leave a Reply