Where Were You in 2016?

On the eve of the Democratic National Convention Nate Silver gives Mr. T about a 42% chance of becoming president. Even if the Clinton E-Mail “Scandal” and the subsequent investigation is a Nothing Burger about a Nothing Burger; even if Comey’s unusual hectoring about “carelessness” was probably an attempt to shield his own Federal branch office from the vagaries of Congressional showboating by giving the Dems a straightforward “no charges” while also producing an attack ad for the Rs; and even if Mr. T has continued to be a Skat Muncher that steps on his own news cycles by retweeting anti-Jew imagery, or being an ass hat towards Mike Pence or whatever feeble outrage of the day he produces. Even with all the spun nothing and bluster, having the head of the FBI excoriate HRC is a punch that has changed the fight.

The good news is that HRC has fallen and Mr. T still is stuck in the low 40s. Pseudo-intellectual Hand Job Gary Johnson and Superfluous Gadfly Jill Stein continue to lop up a combined ~15%.  Still, the Republican Klanvention probably did shore up Mr. T’s support among wayward shards of the Republican coalition. The third-world antics of demanding that his opponents be jailed in defeat and the doomsday rhetoric put, for the moment, HRC in the broad category of “Other” that has so flummoxed too much of the electorate. To the degree that Mr. T’s denunciations, bullying, and Saturday Morning cartoon nonsense is racist, or Banana Republicesque (bring on Uday and Qusay — er… Eric and Don Jr.) or just dumb he manages to troll all of the media gate keepers and other “Franklins,” as Rick Perlstein put it, that have remained unknee capped from the Great Economic Collapse. For many, LOLing these Fuckers as they clutch their pearls is more cathartic than getting pissed off at racism or stupidity.

One forgets how brilliant the Bush Junta was at politics before their butterfingers response to Hurricane Katrina. There were financial shenanigans aplenty early in the Bush reign. Recall that the answer was a meaningless rejiggering of regulatory agencies and… cornering and then imprisoned Martha Stewart. Stewart was a Type A’s Type A, a notorious domestic dazzler whose dense details delighted and annoyed. And she was a Democrat! Of course, her financial chicanery was JV compared to the Big Boys. But who the hell were they anyway? Her head was put on a figurative pike and thus someone was “gotten” for the late 90s early 00 financial crisis.

Team Obama managed to birth Dodd-Frank, which has surely been more of a problem child for “Wall Street” than Martha Stewart stitching a poncho in jail. Still, overall Team Obama wasted too much political capital defending the bail out (even if the Bush junta technically got them through) and enlivening Tim Geithners micro penis. The bail out worked and unfroze the credit market, but it still feels like no one who should be punished has been punished. The Rich are still The Rich.

Still, we are playing for keeps here. It is not at all unreasonable to imagine a “King Slayer” scenario if Mr. T becomes president where the military has to step in to prevent him from nuking Toronto because PM Trudeau’s wife slighted his advances. Meanwhile, it appears very likely that the Russian Government is responsible for hacks into the DNC that showed — out of thousands of e-mails — some kids gloves dissing of the Sanders campaign. These have been released on the eve of the Democratic Convention to sew a hint of dissent and chaos all the better to get the incompetent stooge Mr. T in office.

Is this how the American Republic ends? Puerile purist liberals being toyed with by Vladimir Putin and not being able to stand that life is unfair (and that blacks never warmed to Bernie)? With Republican voter suppression? And, worst of all, with Democrats unable to be both rough enough to land meaningful punches on Mr. T while have a positive vision of the future.

It’s up to Hillary to create a positive vision for her candidacy that is more than the sum of its policy papers. Ultimately though, it is up to us to assure that no one is asking “where were you in 2016?” a generation from now.

Bring on the Democratic National Convention!

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Wow! Dems Just Did Politics!

I’ve been harshly critical of wimpy Dem politicos over the years. Especially, during the Fear Years, they were downright pathetic and spineless in their opposition to the Bush Junta.

Today, perhaps coincidentally, the House Gun Violence Sit-In knocks Mr. T’s big anti-Hillary speech off of the lead and all to put forward the proposition that it should be not so easy for terrorists to buy guns.

For once, pretty good Dems, pretty pretty, good.

My Dark Horse VP Pick

I got three syllables for you… Joe Biden. He has all the necessary chops… can be Prez if “god forbid,” doesn’t distract from the top, can debate and campaign, knows how to get shit done on the Hill when needed, and hell he’s already done the job. Team Obama likes him. The Berners have never gotten into a hissy fit snit about him, although they’ll probably grouse no matter who Hillary picks.

There is nothing that could more make HRC’s effort to run for Obama’s third-term more definitive or obvious. Of course, he may not want the job or may want to retire. And there would be some argument that Hillary is not choosing her own person. But if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. For those of us that just want to vote for Obama again anyway this is the next best thing.

Bernalph Snaders?

All right, Bernie. Ralph Nader could have just remained a gadfly in the late 90s and left an admirable legacy of anti-corporate activism and followers. A nice The Subject of College Entry Essay sort of remembrance. Instead, Darth Nader’s entry in the Book of Life begins and ends with Generalissimo Bush. Say what you will about Gore running a shitty campaign and that he should have won. That means precious little to those needlessly killed while the Bush junta was asleep at the wheel on 9/11, to say nothing of thousands dead or maimed in Iraq, or those that died but shouldn’t have after Katrina and, well, just read the archives of this blog.

Similarly, Bernie could leave a legacy on being ahead of the time on so many issues that eventually became popular; of, indeed, taking a more pure approach —  and that is meaningful as example if not in the workaday grind of progress. All of this could be capped by a stupendous presidential run that attracted millions of new and, importantly, younger voters to the Democratic Party. The future of the party could well be a hybrid that favors more of Sanders’ Indica than Clinton’s Sativa. One could see a Tulsi Gabbard strain running for President in eight years.

That is, if Bernie does the right thing and concedes graciously a few days after Tuesday’s votes are cast.

Conversely, if Bernie contributes at all to a bitter, quixotic anti-Clinton campaign then his legacy may begin and end with Donald Trump.

That is, if there is anyone left to record legacies.

Be a mensch, Bernie!

 

“Hoonism” and Mitt Romney

Yes, IT can happen here. Indeed, a junior varsity version of IT did happen here during the Bush junta’s Fear Years (September 12, 2001 – September 1, 2005 or 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina) in which many of the American people, but just as importantly, our supposedly moderating institutions were meerily hoodwinked into starting Iraq War II to “keep us safe” and people with the intelligence to not support that disaster were labeled as treasonous. Of course, Generalissimo Bush left office as one of the least popular presidents in American history and 7+ years of “history’s judgment” have not been kind. Still, Bush II did not change from 9/11 to Katrina. We the People did. Enough of us removed the blinders of Bush’s lies and stupidity, proof positive that We the People (or at least way too many of us) allowed them to be put on in the first place.

Anyone dumb enough to think that Mr. T does not know precisely what he is doing in being a KKKonservative Klandidate is also dumb enough to think that he doesn’t mean it. Witness the half-lobotomized vocal cord with shoes Chris Matthews, bloviating on MSNBC that maybe Mr. T talks about infrastructure and building things in the general election ’cause he has built stuff and perhaps we get a “wall and roads” when he is President. Right. Like any politician that needs to be re-elected (assuming we still have elections) will not try to deliver for their base. Make no mistake,  Mr. T’s base is White Nationalism.

What does IT look like in Mr. T’s America? Here’s my guess: Mr. T will attempt to rally support for deporting eleven million illegal immigrants. Congress will reject most of it, but Mr. T can still make plenty of a difference via Executive Orders. If anyone thinks that the same interests that label Obama’s use of Executive Orders as “imperial” will have a problem with Mr. T using EOs to enforce his agenda , all I can say is HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!! Where formal ICE agents cannot or will not  deport all eleven million undocumented immigrants heavily armed “Patriot Groups”  will begin outing undocumented immigrants for them. Many people will oppose this, likely disproportionately those of other religious and ethnic minorities who will correctly see themselves as being next. Some in these groups will adhere to the side of “law and order” to keep themselves safe, but I suspect the majority will be motivated to protect and help their fellow humans. Thus other minority groups will likely fall under further suspicion, perhaps with more Patriot Groups doing their Patriotic duties to “out” those sympathetic to undocumented workers. The more this round up tears apart society and, along with the trade wars with China and Mexico, damages the economy the more impetus there will be to get rid of Them to keep Us safe and prosperous.

Last week: enter Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney and the rest of the GOP deserve 99.99% of the blame for Mr. T. They are the ones that have stoked racism as a fundamental political strategy since 1968. They are the ones that sought to oppose Obama at every turn — as though tail chasing delusion was better than governmenting with a black Democrat. As a result, they are the ones that no longer have any ideas for governing, or even acknowledgment of problems like global warming. Romney had no problem with Mr.T’s hammy birther racism in 2012. Yes, Romney’s “self-deportation” nonsense circa 2012 is the non-alcoholic beer to Mr. T’s 2016 nativism. Yes, Romney’s unprecedented opposition to Mr. T overlaps with his own interests to perhaps be the “White Knight” at a brokered convention. Yes, overall, Romney is a venal termite.

And yes, Mitt Romney recognized the unAmerican, authoritarian, violent nightmare of a Mr. T presidency and chose to forcibly speak out against it.

By and large, rather than taking Romney’s denunciation of Mr. T as proof positive of Mr. T’s scary agenda, the Middle and the Left have resorted to the facile comfort of Hoonisms. In this case, the “Hoonism” is the man-bites-dog story of Mr. T beating up “the Establishment” and the easy peasy (and oh so very accurate) hypocrisy charge that Romney is largely guilty of the same resentment-mongering as Mr. T. Witness witless witness Maureen Dowd cheering the “wicked fun” or Mr. T’s candidacy tearing apart said establishment before limply acknowledging its “wickedness.” [For me the “wicked fun” of beating the GOP establishment was electing and re-electing a Democrat, having him enact much of his agenda, and having him “keep America safe” by actually killing Osama bin Laden through a pin point military exercise, rather than missing bin Laden in a pointless full-scale war.] Similarly, Saturday Night Live cut a funny “racists for Trump” fake commercial last Saturday. Their vehemence would stick had the selfsame Mr. T not hosted SNL a few months prior.

Will Willard Mitt Romney be remembered as a smarmy shape-shifting pol that was ultimately hoisted by his own petard by the very backwards elements he sold himself out to? Or, will Romney be recalled as a man whose ambitions silenced his conscious for so long that when he did let his conscious speak not enough people wanted to listen because he was so compromised and his warning was too unpleasant?

The remnant of the respectable Right is being routed. It’s up to those of us of the Left and the Middle to determine the outcome. If we want Mr. T to be a freaky funny footnote to history and for Mittens to remain a punchline, we have to stop Hooning away the warnings from anyone that demands that we contemplate the unwanted dangers of having Mr. T’s stubby fingers using the might of the federal government for an ethnic cleansing campaign in the USA. Even if that anyone includes Mitt Romney.

“Hoonism,” The GOP Establishment, The Media and the Rise of Mr. T

After the rise of universal white male (as opposed to only land owning male) suffrage in 1828 the quality and notoriety of Presidents declined (Pop Quiz! Name one president between Andrew Jackson and Abreham Lincoln)  and much of the intellectual heft of American government resided in the House of Representatives with three leaders providing the bulwark of statesmenship that, in the most altruistic telling, kept the Union whole until it was finally ripped asunder in 1860. This “Grand Triumvirate” consisted of Daniel Webster broadly representing the North, Henry Clay broadly representing “The West” (then states like Ohio and Michigan) and John C. Calhoun representing the South.

Of these three stalwarts Calhoun was dealt the worst hand. He needed to perpetuate the peculiar institution of slavery, whose existence was even in 1776 a compromise to the minority interest of politicos, even as the physical size and number of states expanded. Should the majority will hold true to those new states they would be “free”. In time, free western states and free northern states would outnumber southern slave states and slavery, as a minority regional interest, would end through the basic “majority rules” structure of the Republic even with its attendant check and balances.

Luckily for the South, Calhoun was smarter than Webster and Clay. Calhoun was a full throated booster for the “positive good” of slavery, but his arguments for maintaining slavery were not about its awesomeness; rather, he made legal argument over the need for “minority” rights, states rights, and even the idea of a “concurrent majority” of all major interests for anything that the majority does — in other words, the majorities of the rest of the United States that wanted to abolish slavery and keep new western states free, could be nullified if the majority of the Southern slave states disagreed.

Calhoun’s ideas are a ripe rabbit hole of worthy College sophomore bull session fodder to cannonball into: How are minority interests protected in a majority-rules Republic? Are Calhoun’s ideas a tyranny of the minority? These ponderances conveniently allow the self-evidently repugnant fact of slavery to become tacit background to the debate. The states rights argument was a tactic to perpetuate slavery; had the majority of the USA been pro-slavery than Calhoun would have been a genius scholar of the dictae of majority rules. The politics of antebellum America were about slavery with all of the genocide, violence, rape and subjugation that goes along with it.

“Hoonism” then, is an intellectual or symbolic rationale for ugly positions that allow both sides of the argument ground to disagree while keeping the hideousness of the subject matter at bay.

John C. Calhoun is the intellectual grandfather of reactionary conservatives, so of course the Right enjoys employing Hoonisms. Moderates dig Hoonsims too. Isn’t easier to focus Grade 6 through 12 history on yakking about “concurrent majorities” rather than how America’s founding fathers and most of its politicians rationalized the enslavement of the ancestors of several of the kids in class? A visceral examination of the sickening practice of slavery indicts everyone in an uncomfortable way.

Those that are that are surprised by the rise of Mr. T despite his Real Conservative apostatecy , then, have grown numb to the fact that the GOP has become the party of “Hoonism” ever since it employed the “Southern Strategy” in 1968.

Take abortion. The pro-life “Hoonism” is that people with deep religious convictions hold all embryonic life sacred. There are many, well-organized people for whom this is true. The pro-choice narrative is more informative: women should have control over the bodies. Ay, there’s the rub. The Pill and progress towards gender equality overall allows more women to choose their family and career options, thereby limiting some of the power once held by men. Some men find this untenable, but that’s kinda’ nasty so they are supposedly very religious in their pro-lifeness. Enter Mr. T who is all over the map on abortion, but is a barking misogynist that will put the Megan Kellys of the world in their place. He wins because for most of the Right “pro-life” is a Hoonism for misogyny.

And on the Hooisms slide:

“Welfare Queens” = Lazy black people stealing white people’s money. (Irregardless of the fact that most welfare is distributed to whites)

“Strong Military,” at a time when America has the most powerful conventional army in world history = Still Butthurt over Losing Vietnam.

“Against Big Government” = Schools should still be segregated and I resent federal power being used to enforce constitutional equality for everyone.

“New York Liberal” Slander = I don’t particularly care for the Jews, or the blacks or the queers or all the other “others”.

“Show Me Your Birth Certificate” = Any black person is illegitimate to be president.

And so on.

Mr. T’s skill has been in ripping off the Hoonism hood and racing the car with its untethered racist engine. One of the reason that he has been so difficult to contend with is the GOP Establishment is too inbred to realize that its Hoonism is a faceade, but even The Smarts like Nate Silver have been flummoxed. The reason for this, I suspect, is that being forced to acknowledge that Mr. T’s support is greatly predicated on a White Power (with all the ugliness that phrase implies) reaction to white disempowerment, forces one to look up from their equations on measuring the standard deviation “resentment” and acknowledge that a great many Americans do not like black people, latinos, Muslims, Jews, homosexuals, and so on. This hatred has been the organizing factor in right-wing politics since 1968. Acknowledging this forces people of good conscience to speak out against it. And that’s uncomfortable.

Baring some sort of deux ex machina the leadership of the free world will come down to a contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. I cannot believe I just wrote that sentence. If the Left and the Middle wants to win this fight, it must acknowledge what the right has become, and has been since 1968 without the Hoonism woodwork to obscure it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screw it! New Jersey Should Go First.

Now that the inane Iowa caucuses are over and the tail-chasing Boston Suburbs + Quebec Suburbs primary is ended, the rest of America can begin to choose between the candidates that our cornfield and flinty-faced betters have so expertly winnowed or story-lined for us. The primacy of IA and NH would be NBD if not for the fact that America’s candidates spend almost two years campaigning there; meanwhile, after a brief jaunt to Nevada and South Carolina, the totality of Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia (to say nothing of American Samoa) will all vote on March 1 with about 19 days of campaigning for the lot of them. Our candidates make a show of mugging at all 99 of Iowa’s counties and making multiple visits to each New Hampshire Nothingberg. If I’m lucky I might get one meaningful rally in my state, like we did for Obama in 2008.

I was going to suggest wonky solutions for this absurdity. Perhaps a random drawing of “Plus One” states to go along with Iowa and New Hampshire so that at least four states get the two years of attention. Or, perchance a series of regional primaries with a different region going “first” each four yeats. But, the umpteenth visit to Ida County and the media’s smiley smile tallying of Dixville Notch’s first votes have left a groady corn and granite slime in my mouth.

Yep. It’s time to move this entire grotesque carnival to where it belongs. The state of my birth: New Jersey.

There are intellectual reasons for starting with Jeerz. It boasts some of the richest and poorest sections of the country, meaningful numbers of almost every race, religion, and ethnicity in the world, dense urban areas, sprawling suburbs, and more farmland and rural pockets than an outsider would expect. That’s all well and good for an NPR segment, but the real reason that the Marco Polos, Mike Hucketerbees, John Kasichs, and Jeb!utante Bushs (etc.) and all their media should have to spend two years slogging the Oranges, Amboys, and Cape Mays is far more pointed: It will be a colossal pain in the ass.

Firstly, ad buys will have to be in the ultra-expensive New York or Philly markets. Yet, those ads will have a hard time appealing to Jersey’s ideal of itself. Half the state likes the Knicks/Giants/Jets/Yanks/Mets the other likes the Sixers/Eagles/Phillies. Debating Devils/Flyers/Rangers WILL start fights. Rutgers is there for everyone, but no one cares about the Scarlet Knights. Jersey has no central city, landmark or place. Newark is the largest population center, but I admit to never setting foot in it until I was in my late 20s. I’ve still never been to Camden. Most of the times I was in Trenton it was a mistake. Despite being easy Blue nationally since ’92, Jersey functions like a set of city-states and fiefdoms; intensely local subcultures that sometimes enjoy each other, but ultimately have little affinity for one another. The candidates will have to squeeze votes out of this incoherent melange.

Being so close to NY and Philly, Jersey will be unimpressed by the candidates, their entourage, or The Media. Nope. No corny aw schucks smiles when John Kasich mentions that Toms River has a storied history in the Little League World Series or that John Updike wrote about Elizabeth once. Hillary will get no bounce for trotting out Carl Lewis (he’s from Jersey, look it up). No one will entertain Ben Carson. That said, the instant Jersey learns that Marco Polo has been supping at Brooklyn’s Peter Luger every night or Jeb!utante calls the “shore” the “coast” then watch out, because the only identity Jersey has is a negative reaction to the rest of country’s “Toxic Avenger” perception of the Garden State. We will rally and defend Jersey to the death. It’s an incomprehensible composite rock of “I Don’t Give a Fuck!” and “Fuck You!” and anyone that wants to be president had better figure out how the hell to navigate it.

The candidates will get stuck in traffic. A lot. The people will get bored of security inconveniences. Familiarity will breed contempt. Months before the first votes are cast, Jerseyans will find that one little, peculiar bit that gets under each candidate’s skin and, like a coven of mini-Howard Sterns, pick at it endlessly. One would think that Crisco Kremey would be adapted to these environs and be favored in his home state, yet I suspect that he would merciless trolling for being  shitty at his day job. I Don’t Give a Fuck so Fuck You!

I want to see Mike Hucksterbee chum up to a dad with three kids at the Kendall Park roller rink and have the guy tell Huck to choke on his own vomit and die, and then go back to playing Buck Hunt.

I want to see overly tan women giggle and point at Jeb!utante Bush while he is wearing his creepy WASP shorts at the Shore and then have a guido laugh in his face.

I want to see Bernie face down a Libertarian heckler with aspbergers syndrome and a six figure salary from Bristol Meyers Squibb in a town hall in West Windsor.

I want to see Hillary “connect” over hoagie orders.

I want to see a beer bellied slob with half-chewed pizza in his mouth get into an Alpha contest with Mr. T on the Point Pleasant board walk.

I want to see the real life incarnation of Randall from “Clerks” make Marco Polo cry.

I want The Media to get grouchier and grouchier about the whole damn thing. New York and DC, so close and yet so far!

Finally, mercifully, the ordeal will end. Jersey will be sick of all you alls stupid, vapid speeches and boot slurping handlers. The candidates will be seething beneath false saber-tooth smiles, gamely thanking the volunteers and ready to book the hell out of here.

Thus, Jersey and The Election will part ways. Both reminiscing over scores of slights, brows furrowed, thinking about waving a gigantic stadium-style foamy hand with its middle-finger jacked up in each others’ face. I mean really, could anything be more American?

You Got A Problem With That!