The Fear Years, Slowly….

The Fear Years: That miserable epoch from the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01 to Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, about September 1, 2005. In those four years a not-really-elected President started a disastrous war of choice, enacted tax cuts and economic policy that would destroy the economy, and oversaw any number of medium bore policy scandals that fester on as flesh wounds to this day. To oppose any of these ideas, to oppose the Man himself, was said to oppose the Country itself, or to be “with the terrorists” as the “President” Himself put it.

Fear was a condition, a means and an end. The condition of Fear — stoked by the immaculate timing of the the M&M-hued terror “alerts” — created a need to believe in and never critisize the Leader as he found a means to “fight” terror by invading Iraq, the result of which was a seemingly endless conflict that required countless treasure to assure success, or else the terrorists would win in the end.

While this mania waned it did not truly end until Katrina proved that the Bush Regime was too incompetent to even respond to a predicted natural disaster. An electorate that consisted of largely the same people that “elected” Bush twice installed a Democratic Congress in 2006 (over Bush’s declaration that to do so would mean that the terrorists would win) and elected Obama — who seemed, on the surface, to be the antithesis of Bush — in 2008.

It was as if the 2006 repudiation and the 2008 arrival of a “redeemer” would reverse the Fear Years. But that isn’t so. The disasters of the Fear Years still linger over the country. The recent Rachel Maddow documentary on the venal build up to the war in Iraq, and the sinister conflation of Saddam with al Qaeda, is jarring because in its simple factual way it forces the viewer to confront the the mendacity of the time.

Far more effective than the Maddow piece is the last two episodes of the Showtime series “Oliver Stone’s: Untold History of the United States.” “Untold” is the greatest voice-over history documentary ever made. That is not to say that I agree with all of its points. The hero of “Untold” is Henry Wallace, FDRs penultimate vice-president who was removed from the ticket in favor of Harry Truman by Democratic Party bosses at the 1944 Democratic Convention. Stone is convinced that Wallace’s humanism as President after FDR’s death would have crafted a different and better Post-WWII world than Truman’s militarism. Such “what if” speculation is fun, but meaningless. The same militant forces that prevailed upon Truman would have been there with Wallace too. Had he opposed them, perhaps they would have aligned themselves completely with the Republicans and we may have been treated to Reactionary Movement conservatives in power in the 50s and 60s instead of the 80s, 90s and 00s. Or maybe not, who knows and who can know? “Untold” also focuses most of its attention on Foreign Policy. It praises JFK for usurping his generals after the Cuban Missile Crisis and lambasts LBJ for escalating the Vietnam War, but doesn’t mention that it took LBJs legislative genius to pass JFKs program, and then some.

That said, what makes “Untold” so effective is Stone’s artistic genius for images. “Untold” consists of mostly 2 to 7 second visual clips, overspersed with Stone’s narration and emotive, cinematic music. Where there are not visuals, Stone isn’t afraid to offer representation in the form of movies, or even have actors mimic real figures while reading quotes that were unrecorded. The result is a psycahdelic stream-of-visual-consciousness that moves history out of the frontal cortex (where the Maddow documentary presided) into the older, visceral regions of the brain.

It is the willingness to mix emotions and argument that make “Untold” the most effective readily available analysis of Bush II and the Fear Years. In one brilliant sequence, “Untold” flashes through images of the great Coup D’etat of the 2000 election. The GOP putsch in Florida, Jeb Bush, Kathryn Harris, the Supreme Court, Bush’s rainy inaugural. The music is a stringy, blues version of the national anthem played at a pace so slow that it becomes an elegy. “It started with the 2000 election itself,” Stone intones. “The most scandalous in U.S. history. Wounding, perhaps fatally, the notion of democracy in this country…. Behooving the shenanigans of a banana republic the US Supreme Court intervened to stop a recount of the votes…”

It’s there, in all its stupidity and agony. Condoleeza Rice’s “nobody could’ve predicted…”. Bush’s “either you’re with us or you’re with the terrorists” (“Imagine any citizen in any country of the world being told by a man like this, ‘you’re either with us or against us.'”). The Patriot Act. Wire Tapping. Gitmo. Torture. “WMDs”. “The smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud”. Conflating Iraq with al qaeda. (“The descent into unreality was dizzying.”) The parade of ex-generals selling the war on TV while being employed by defense contractors.

“Untold” hits the mark, but it doesn’t linger quite long enough before moving on to harsh Obama for maintaining a similar military complex to Bush, even as he wound down the Bush Wars. Whether the recognition is intellectual or emotional, as an American you own the Fear Years. Even if you opposed the war. Unlike distant genocides like the settlement of the West or abstract ignoble actions abroad, Iraq War II was sanctioned by the populace. IT happened here. “Untold” and Maddow’s documentary make the case, but ten years on the ephemeral zietgiest of the polity is still largely in denial.

Will the Newt and Sanatorium Make the Spirit of the Mittens Strong?

The Bull Trout is an adfluvial apex predator native to Pacific Northwestern rivers and lakes.  Bull Trout are fairly “average” looking fish, but they are every bit the champions of their domain as wolves or lions are to theirs. Biologists have described them as the “Tyrannosaurus Rex of the river.” They can and will eat anything smaller than them. Even little birds. Their favorite snack is juvenile Chinook salmon. Of all the daft details of endangered species politics, managing for endangered salmonids and Bull Trout is, for self-evident reasons, one the weirdest. In a largely unspoiled ecosystem (in this case the  salmonids were slaughtered in fisheries to near extinction by the turn of 20th century and bull trout were purposefully retononed by federal and state fisheries agencies in the 1920s – 1960s in order to make way for more desirable exotic species, but I digress), however, there is a symbiosis between the two species. By eating many subyearling and yearling Chinook — presumably, mostly the less fit ones — as they rear in riparian environments the Bull Trout reduce spatial and food competition at every other stage in the lifecycle for the remaining, more fit Chinook. In addition, Bull Trout attacks teach the juvenile Chinook how to evade predators, which is likely a very useful skill for when they enter the ocean as little fish in a gigantic pond. In this case the obligatory American-Indian saying is sage: “The Bull Trout makes the spirit of the salmon strong.” (This advantage for wild salmonids is undermined by state, federal and, yes, tribal fisheries agencies who inundate rivers with genetically inferior hatchery salmon in order to maintain a fishery with an “acceptable” harvest impact on wild fish — generally about 25% of the wild adult fish; the ones that have proven by their survival to have the most fit genes, but I digress.)

In 2008, Hillary Clinton was Barack Obama’s “Bull Trout”: A full grown top predator that had long thrived in a brutish Darwinian political environment where Obama, a temporal fry by comparison, had just emerged from his redd. The Conventional Wisdom holds that by forcing Obama to compete for space (states), food (voters), and to evade or contend with a kitchen sink of attacks (Hillary pressed the full Nixonian resentment card against Obama — long the Conservatrons’ best tactic), Hillary assured that the Spirit of the Obama was Strong. Having overwintered in the Primary Reservoir to survive Salvelinus confluentus Clintonessus Obama was indeed a “Jumbo Smolt” when he finally smoltified and outmigrated to the General Election Ocean in the summer. Once there, Obama outmaneuvered the Humboldt Squids (a voracious predator whose unusual presence off of Oregon and Washington may have largely wiped out the Sacremento River salmon run in 2008) and non-charismatic megafauna of his Conservatron competition and was able to return to the great “spawning ground of ideas” of Washington DC as a powerful November Hog. A few of the conceptual eggs the Obama fertilized have hatched. The full Affordable Care Act is scheduled to emerge in 2014, although the Conservatrons will try their hardest to scour or dessicate it while it’s incubating in the meantime.

Although Mittens has spent time rearing in the Primaries and Massachusetts habitats, he has not proven fit enough to outmigrate to the General Election Ocean. Resident Conservatron Suckers, (invasive) Crappies and Redband trout do not appear to like him or trust him. This has provided openings for other competitors to challenge him. The hope in Conservatron Land was that, after South Carolina, the Newt would be Mittens’ “Bull Trout” as Hillary was Barack’s back in 2008. The Newt is an experienced, tactical hack. The Newt’s hypocrisy is so paramount that he doesn’t even hide it. The Newt’s brand of confrontational hatefulness, pomposity, gimpy pseudo-intellectualism and Racism Lite rhymes with the Conservatron zietgiest. The Newt kinda’ looks like a Bull Trout, too.

Indeed, Mittens’ vertebrae appeared to calcify in response to the Newt. He was coached into being an aggressor in debates. He usurped a taster of the Newt’s trademark Nasty™. Mittens won Florida. Mittens won Nevada. It appeared that a swift Mittens was finally ready to strap the dog to the roof of the family car, undergo smoltification and outmigrate to the General Election Ocean. Then Mittens was felled by Sanatorium — Sanatorium! The Frothy Human Punchline! — in Colorado, Minnesota and Missourah.

The Conservatron illiteratti hasn’t whispered about Sanatorium being a potential “Bull Trout”. While co-opting a bit of the Newt’s Nasty™ was a necessary adaptation, having to out-wacko Sanatorium on social issues will force Mittens onto the opposite side of anyone that has ever been sexually active (or hopes to be) once the Conservatron elders finally truck Mittens to the estuary and he flip-flops into the General Election Ocean. After all, we’ve all befallen from several eons of fornicators, and despite the presence of lamprey-like Creepers such as Sanatorium most of us would prefer to enjoy fornicating safely, just as we evolved to do.

So why is it that the Newt and Sanatorium are not making the spirit — or at least the poll numbers versus “King Salmon” Obama — of the Mittens strong? It’s simple. Unlike Hillary, the Newt and Sanatorium are not noble “Bull Trout”. They are invasive, venal Smallmouth Bass. Smallmouth Bass are native to Southern warm water ponds, but have been introduced by bucket biologists and, of course, state fishery agencies to Northwestern reservoirs. They evolved to ambush spiny-backed, large resident fishes. Smooth-backed juvenile salmonids don’t have a chance against them, no matter how fit they are. Because Smallmouth Bass are fetishized by sun stroked license-purchasing yahoos they are managed by state fishery agencies as a sport fish (catch and release only), rather than a nuisance species to be eliminated (bounty fishery). While their periodicity with salmonids is temperature dependent and the extent to which they overlap is not entirely known as that would require state fishery agencies to monitor the impact of their management decisions, they certainly compete for food and space with native fish. When exotics are “flushed” out of a well-managed reservoir, salmonids immediately grow to be larger and more plentiful.

The Republican Party is a poorly managed reservoir full of invasive bass, crappies, channel catfish, legacy pollution and other Things that Should Not be There that Fuck with Everything that Should. Much as these invasive fish are managed by a state agency that profits from selling licenses to catch them and yet has a mandate to preserve the native species that these exotics destroy, so is the Conservatron bubble overseen by a media that treats the nonsense (evolution schmevolution, global warming is a hoax, austerity is expansionary) that emerges from its effluent as one side of an argument even as they claim to be crusaders for truth. As a result this years’ slate of Conservatron candidates has included jokers like Donald Trump, Herman Cain and Michelle Bauchmann and has been laughably weak (especially compared to the august Democratic field of 2008) because they have evolved to survive in a toxic cess pool with other sheltered meanies rather than developing the talents to outmigrate to the General Election Ocean.

Starting in 2004 Democrats are 9 and 0 in Presidential election debates. I am counting Obama’s 2010 impromptu confrontation with the Conservatrons in this tally. It is the most striking example. Obama was ambushed by the Conservatrons, he had no allies in the room, Conservatron Mike Pence (who looks like he was carved out of a pencil eraser) was the moderator. Even in the most hostile of circumstances Obama obliterated his opposition because ideas and skills that are developed by the non-native species in the Conservatron cess pool bubble are no match for those honed to compete for the votes of everyone else. Faced with someone that would actually challenge the basis of their concepts, rather than treat them as a “he said/she said,” the Conservatrons folded one after another in the face of Obama’s rebuttals and Fox News cut away rather than watch Obama continue to dunk on the Conservatrons in garbage time.

The Consrevatrons don’t breed Presidents. They concoct invasive predators with an unnatural advantage over their prey, designed to grow large and just healthy enough to absorb the toxics in their crumby habitat, until they become too poisonous to tolerate and only the ignorant would want to keep them. On the occasions when one of these creatures slimes or steals its way into the “spawning ground of ideas” in Washington DC, as Generalissimo Bush did through his putsch in Florida in 2000, the results are horrendous: asleep at the wheel for a disastrous terrorist attack, an unnecessary nine year war, fiscal mismanagement, torture, hundreds of thousands of needless dead people and countless maimed American troops, and the Great Economic Collapse.

The longer Mittens spends in the Conservatron cess pool the more inbred he will become. For the Spirit of the Mittens can Never be Strong because his stock has no soul.

The Egypt Credit Countdown

Que the Conservatrons saying that Egypt’s peaceful, internal revolution that resulted in regime change was a direct result of Generalissimo Bush’s invasion of Iraq in T minus five… four… three… two… one….

This is one of those times when it is gratifying to have a real President and not a nepotistic dunce like Dubya’. I’m not entirely sure how, but one just senses that Generalissimo Bush would have blown this somehow. It’s tempting to say that Obama’s outreach to the Arab world, as exemplified by his speech in Cairo early in his presidency, provided some of the spark for this and the regime change in Tunisia. More likely, those revolts  and the crushed uprising in Iran, are more the result of a demographic wave of young people that are aware of the freedoms that most people have simply demanding them for themselves and their countrymen. I cannot pretend to be any manner of expert on these matters. Today anyway, the joyous scene in Egypt gladdens even the most cynical heart. And it was all done without a single American military boot on the ground or drop of blood in the sand.

Relevance and Liberal Disenchantment

The icy analysis of the Tax deal is that it be a worthy gain of stimulus even with its fetid Bush Tax Cut for the Rich after birth. Sausage making process. Hold nose. Compromise. Be satisfied knowing that UI has been extended for some and that worthy things have been accomplished. Onto the next battle.

Legislative process. Been there. Done that.

So why the liberal disenchantment?

I think it all goes back to the vital leadership quality of relevance. Relevant leadership is, obviously, leadership that addresses pertinent concerns or issues. At first glance it appears that what any president or major public figure is doing is relevant — that’s why there are a gaggle of media filter-feeding barnacles there to report on it and beam it into your living room. But an audience does not relevance make. Consider pre-historic relevance archetypes. If a group of early hunter/gatherers needs to navigate a fearsome jungle to get food, then the person that claims to know the way through will be highly relevant. If an early agricultural village’s water supply has dried up from drought, and someone decrees that they know of a new water supply, the person with that knowledge becomes politically important quickly. Imagine how relevant someone with the demonstrated ability to immediately cap a rupture oil well 10,000 feet below the ocean would have been during the Gulf Oil Spill disaster in the summer of 2010!

Obama burst onto the scene through a mastery of relevance. Regardless of how obtuse his “hope” rhetoric was, it was the perfect antidote to the venality and mendacity of the Bush era — especially when juxtaposed with Hillary’s early “inevitability” strategy. The confounding undercutting of the Obama presidency has been the his loss of relevance. The too small Stimulus was passed without adequately describing how it addressed the economic crisis. Health Care Reform was formulated without anyone being sure what Obama was for, other than the resolution of the legislative process. Worst of all, the infuriating Bankster bonuses were allocated with nary a peep from the President. Time and again, Obama has played Prime Minister or else been mute on the pressing issues of the day.

Now, in the wake of the Conservatron resurgence of 2010; so called austerity is purportedly relevant to the electorate. Regardless that, intellectually, what is needed is more stimulus; the fact that there must be shared sacrifice to balance the budget for the greater good makes an intuitive sense because sacrifice is what just about every American has done since the Great Economic Collapse. Obama justified an anti-stimulative freeze in federal pay by saying that, this was the sort of broad sacrifice that was necessary given the debt situation. His Cat Food Commission has just finished describing the sort of baubles that must be given up to balance the budget.

And into the maw of the great sacrifice beast is extracted… an unnecessary bon bon for the Wealthiest! Freezing federal pay ($5 billion savings) is necessary sacrifice, not extending ultra-stimulative unemployment ($5 billion per month) is necessary sacrifice, raising the retirement age is necessary sacrifice; but the Wealthiest need not have their tax cuts sacrificed. Just as the Banksters that caused the Great Economic Collapse need not have their shenanigans seriously investigated, need not have their bailout money monitored, need not have their compensation reconsidered, need not be cajoled into actually loaning any of the money they are sitting on to worthy customers, and need not have anyone less familiar than Larry Summers or Tim Geihtner populate high economic places.

At the end of the day Obama is asking everyone to sacrifice instead of the wealthiest. Given the reality of the Conservatrons, he got the best deal that he could. Given the reality of the inability to hold the architects of the Great Economic Collapse accountable or demand any ballyhooed sacrifice for the wealthiest, it’s infuriating. And irrelevant.

The Long Winter of Our Discontent

I like President Obama more than any other political figure in my lifetime. I like the President for the same reason the Conservatrons hate him: he seems like one of “us”. He’s the only major political figure  to hail from the “us” that I recognize myself to be a part of.

Objectively, Obama’s first two years have been a sterling success. The economy was saved from Depression, two Supreme Court justices were confirmed, the auto bailout saved thousands of jobs and three huge companies, fundamental health insurance reform and financial reform were passed, and the ball was generally moved forward on issues from womens’ equity, to green energy, to nuclear disarmament. Unnoticed by most, Obama has also done a tremendous amount of healing beneath the skin by inserting earnest and sophisticated citizens into Cabinet and under-Cabinet positions that were once the province of Bush junta “Brownies”. The Education Department is utilizing venture capital style experimentation through the Race to the Top contest. Steven Chu is the best Secretary of Energy in the Department’s history having oriented it towards resolving cutting edge technological problems while personally participating in small ventures like orchestrating the ultimate capping of BP’s gushing oil well in the star crossed Gulf of Mexico.

Obama’s first two years are also a self-evident failure. If you could time travel back to Inauguration Day 2009 and tell an Obama supporter the result of the 2010 midterms, the supporter at first would not believe you and then conclude that the two intervening years were a disaster.

There are two obvious horseshoe-and-hand-grenades failures from Obama’s first two years. The first was the Stimulus that was too small, but advertised as being just as right as the Third Bear’s bowl of porridge was for Goldilocks. Paul Krugman, who has only been correct about almost everything since the daisy brained days of W’s 2000 presidential campaign, has written extensively about this on his blog. The second would be the bonus imbroglio with AIG and other bailed out Bankster Rats’ Nests. Yes these bonuses are just a goofy form of delayed compensation, and maybe there is little legally that the government could have done about them. But gut feelings are not always wrong. The sense that the same corrupt Master of the Universe nimrods that caused the Great Economic Collapse only to be bailed out by the serfs were then somehow deemed to important to risk losing, and were thus rewarded for their destructive errors was logically infuriating. My participation in this blog flatlined after Obama was ineffectual in contending with the bonuses either substantively or through oration. Of course I argued, donated a few dollars and voted early in 2010, but my enthusiasm was deflated.

It’s not clear how Obama could have given voice to this populist fury or exactly how Obama should have played the Stimulus. Maybe he chose one of the best possible courses in each case – perhaps alternative actions would have turned out worse. Regardless, the 2010 elections are proof positive that what he did do failed. It’s even possible that he wasn’t the right man for the job. Obama’s Hope message resonated in the early rounds of the Democratic Primary because it was the antidote to the low morals and manipulations of the Bush regime and the agony of the Fear Years. Clinton seemed to “connect” better on the economy after the Ohio primary (whatever that means), but her foolish vote in favor of Generalissimo Bush’s Iraq War II cost her the Democratic nomination and, with it, the Presidency. Would HRC have succeeded in these two make-or-break areas where Obama didn’t? Who knows, but the “spiritual thirst” of America was far more meat’n’potatoes in the fall of 2008 then it was in the summer of 2007 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina finally obliterating Generalissimo Bush’s string of fooling all of the people (or at least a preponderance of them) all of the time and the agony of deceit began to permeate workaday life.

Maybes, wouldas, couldas, and who the hell knows? Oh well. Whatever. The tragedy is that we are where we are and it is hard to see how Obama’s failures leave America any real way to get out of the Great Economic Collapse. There was a fluffy tech bubble in the 1990s, but computers, the Internet and cellphones were also tangible improvements that created wealth and new businesses. The Web 2.0 Facebooks and YouTubes of the 00’s also added real economic development to the empty calories of the housing bubble. Today, corporations are sitting on heaps of dollars like hens atop an egg, but what is it that they should spend it on? Who is going to buy the products that corporations create with their ample capital in sufficient quantities to generate self-sustaining wealth and jobs?

Obama’s able Cabinet and their underlings can still heal beneath the skin, the Fed can give the Market more quantitative easing hand jobs, and Obama can surely make his mortgage program more effective. Still, the huge Stimulus spending that must be done on infrastructure, the smart grid, and a bevy of other initiatives; the Stimulus spending that objectively would end the Great Economic Collapse will not get done. America is settling in for a long long winter of meager growth, diminished expectations, and near-feudal wealth concentration, meanwhile the Conservatrons and the junior varsity fascists in the Tea Party will use the resulting disorder to pit dispossessed groups against each other while distracting them with fake issues (Ground Zero Masque!) and phony scandals (Obama’s a Muslim!). Obama and Progressives will be playing defense, stopping the barbarians at the gate and keeping them from smothering the infant recovery in its oxygen tent.

I Hope We Can….

As Long as We Are Talking Identity Politcs with the New Justice

How about a Native American? Given the unique and unusual relationship that American Indians have with the Federal government as citizens of various derivations of quasi-separate nations, a Native could provide a valuable perspective to the SCOTUS’ ruminations.

I have no idea if there is an able Native justice out there, but since there will be an element of “just because” to this selection then you might as well go with a Local.

Also, I welcome the inevitable Conservatron hyperventilating and projectile vomit of fnords over whoever Obama selects. Please let them fool themselves into believing that a proxy fight over whatever wedge issues no one cares about anymore is their way out of the wilderness. This is just proof positive that there is no need to take them seriously for now.

America Fail!

If our country cannot stop AIG from giving bonuses to their employees after receiving an astronomical bailout, and if America cannot claw back those bonuses once they have been given, and, if indeed our Government is either unable or unwilling to reprimand these demon piglets in any way then our system doesn’t work.

If the *fnord* populist *fnord* impulse to stay on hold on the phone until you can speak to an actual hominid and shriek “I want my fucking money back!” or to throw rocks at the AIG building, or to drag one of their executives out of his platinum tower and mug him and send him to the Bowery with a broken femur and missing teeth make more self-evident sense the empty huffing and puffing from Congress and Team Obama, then President Obama is more in danger of having his salutary Presidency swallowed by a Jacobian spirit than our institutional polity realizes.

Nationalize them! Liquidate them! Fire the venal nitwits and advertise their jobs for 150K a year and healthy benefits and no bonuses!

It’s time to act! It’s the cerebral thing to do.

Check and Mate

“I know that we haven’t agreed on every issue thus far, and there are surely times in the future when we will part ways. But I also know that every American who is sitting here tonight loves this country and wants it to succeed. That must be the starting point for every debate we have in the coming months, and where we return after those debates are done. That is the foundation on which the American people expect us to build common ground.”

May have noticed that the Conservatron legs were a little creaky in rising for the applause line in bold above. That’s because their entire ideology is predicated on some people loving their country more than others, or somehow being more American than others. Of course, in the unofficial State of the Union context, no Conservatron could sit through that statement, even as it drove a stake through their fetid dark hearts.

All that leaves the Conservatrons is Bobby Jindal the Page, sounding like he is reading a children’s book full of false choices and nonsense, having his own McCain Green Screen moment.

2009 Will Be More Like 1933 than 1993

The Stim will soon be passed with fractional Conservatron support. The sample size is small, but two situations similar to this one offer potential guidance on how the politics of this will play out.

Example One is 1933 when FDR passed a substantial part of his New Deal legislation with minimal GOP support. The media back then was owned almost entirely by the same class of people that attempted a fascist Coup against FDR. In spite of the negative reaction from the out-of-powers-that-be, the Democrats expanded their majorities in the 1934 mid-terms and FDR won more states and total votes in 1936 than he did in 1932. This neat feat was accomplished even as the Depression dragged on because, regardless of what the Conservatron elite claimed, the New Deal made things better. Where once there was no job, now one was a part of the CCC. You didn’t have electricity, but after the New Deal, you did. This self-evident improvement was the cornerstone of the Progressive Populism that reigned over the American polity until 1968.

Example Two is Clinton’s Balance Budgeting of 1993. The 1993 recession was not as bad as the Great Depression; but personal desperation is personal desperation, regardless of how society at large is fairing. Clinton came into office without a popular majority and could not get a stimulus bill through Congress and had to nix the Middle Class tax cut that he had campaigned on. The Budget Bill that finally passed reduced taxes on the poorest Americans, raised them on the richest Americans, and cut the budget. Although the economy soon recovered it did not begin producing many new jobs until late 1995. Without the stimulus or the Middle Class tax cuts, and with typical venal negativity from the Conservatrons and their water carriers in the media, the lot of most Americans did not appear to improve. The Democrats got trounced in the 1994 mid-terms and Clinton had to largely play defense for the rest of the 90s.

The Great Economic Collapse is closer to the Great Depression than the early 90s recession, but in many ways self-evident improvements are harder to establish. Developing and deploying non-GHG emitting energy through an Apollo style program would better the lives of everyone on the planet and probably set the stage for an economic boom. It would also take several years before the benefit became obvious.

My instinct (and it is just that) is that the full extent that America is screwed economically has not become entirely apparent yet. While the Stim is probably not enough, it is something, and could well be just about the only game in town for quite sometime. More importantly is includes most of Obama’s promised tax cut. Conservatrons can poo-poo the $13 per week nature of it, but having an additional $26 in each bi-weekly paycheck will make a tremendous difference to this typical American because it extends, for one day, the amount of time at the end of a pay period when I am not broke. That the Conservatrons cannot grok this demonstrates just how far through the looking glass they have fallen.

The Stimulus will create or preserve jobs for millions of Americans, and it will put some important extra dollars in the pocket of everyone. It will be up to Obama and the Democrats to keep on pointing out these benefits to underline them for those that are not directly assisted. With the economy lagging but the Stimulus bill providing a few sparks of sustenance the Democrats should be poised to win a few House Seats and, more importantly, a couple more Senate seats.

With over sixty Senators Obama may be able to complete the New Deal/Great Society and pass Universal Health Care, thereby providing the last technologically feasible self-evident benefit to everyone and setting up a landslide reelection in 2012.

"South Park" Wusses Out on the 2008 Election

From the moment that Bush Patsy McCain chose Nilap for vice-president the 2008 election felt like an episode of the old South Park, the one that was fresh and consistently funny. If the stakes hadn’t been so high, the whole ’08 caper would’ve been hilarious. Indeed, “‘Joe’ the ‘Plumber'” feels more a denizen of the basic shapes cartoon than reality. (As Kenny’s dad, perhaps?)

Parker and Stone only took about a week to turn aggravation with the Star Wars blunder Jar Jar Binks into ferocious satire. They even popped out a topical episode about 9/11 as quickly after “everything changed” as was socially acceptable. So why were they silent through a two year election that forced all of America’s goopy, agonized and weird feelings about race to the fore? Why was South Park mute in an election where millions of boomer feminists transformed Hillary Clinton’s long march into a catharsis for a lifetime of frustrations, only to see the goof city Sarah Nilap turn the “Hillary, women, ME given the shaft!” collective thought wave into a parody of itself?

Methinks the reason is that all of the annoying roustabout regarding Obama’s blackness, Hillary’s tears, and Nilap’s aw shucks fascism was the sound of America’s subterranean emotions about gender and race — which was the star stuff of so many of the later, not as funny, “South Parks” — being expressed. As these things became real topics in our polity, they stopped being “yeast for the daily fucking grind,” as Bill Hicks once said, and therefore grounds for satire.

What would’ve been funny, even after the fact, was the South Park treatment applied to Bush Patsy McCain’s dadaist attempts to keep Nixonian resentment-mongering alive through Nilap, “‘Joe’ the ‘Plumber,'” absurd campaign tactics, and finally guilt by association “terrorist” claims that made his later rallies sound like the part of The Wall where Pink becomes a Nazi. (“That one in the spotlight he don’t look right to me, get ‘im up against the wall.) Instead, South Park finally addressed the 2008 election by placing all of the candidates into a Jewel Thief Ring and playing it as a parody of “perfect crime” movies. Yes, there was some bits about the tiring over-exuberance of Obamites and the silly fatalism of McCainers with some general support of Obama there between the lines, but given the material, it was weak sauce.

Anyhow, South Park was a Bush Patsy through much of this venal, miserable decade (“No Satan,” lied Saddam, “it’s a chocolate chip factory”) so fuck it anyway.

Obama Appears to Choose the Eisenhower Model

Obama campaigned as a 21st century update of Andrew Jackson, but it appears that his model for governing is going to be Dwight David Eisenhower.

Obama and Ike are surprisingly similar. Ike was adored for being vital to winning World War II, but was a political ink blot. No one knew if he would run as a Democrat or Republican at first. Although he had to throw the Conservatrons of his day a bone by Veeping Nixon his administration was centrist to the point of being almost non-ideological — Nixon had almost no portfolio as VP (today Ike seems more Democrat than Republican). Obama is an obvious liberal, yet his calls for post-partisanship and his relatively thin voting record coupled with the acknowledged practice of others grafting their own aspirations onto his barrier breaking story makes Obama, oddly, a vague quantity akin to Ike despite Obama’s detailing of his policies in the 08 campaign.

Ike and Obama are both unlikely Presidents. Ike wasn’t a politician, but his military expertise was ideal for 1952 when the quagmire in Korea appeared unsolvable. Obama has less experience than most Presidents, but his newness and potential energy are the canvass on which the 2010s will be written; in 2008 Obama was the necessary redeemer for what Leonard Cohen calls America’s “spiritual thirst” in the bitter wake of the venal Bush occupation.

Eisenhower translated his novelty into action by delegating. Due to his dowdy public persona, Ike was criticized for being a hands off or even clueless president. We now know that he was intent and engaged behind the scenes. He took his military experience and applied it to his cabinet by giving his subordinates room to succeed and fail, while using the bully pulpit and the ceremonial aspect of the presidency to maintain his own personal popularity rather than trying to sway the polity to his vision, which was largely “post-partisan” anyway.

Obama has chosen more of a Team of Experts than a “Team of Rivals”. His cabinet includes sitting politicians like Salazar and Clinton with their own power bases and political capital. For the more technical work like energy and environmental policy (despite the broad passions stirred by these issues, actual work on them is all about nuances of details) Obama has chosen able technocrats that will be led by Carol Browner in a new energy/environment coordinator role. Vice-President Biden will be the point person on the economic stimulus activity.

Obama appears to be updating the Eisenhower Model by giving substantial ownership of policy to his cabinet members/subordinates, while largely staying above the fray himself. Hopefully, he will also use his preternatural talent as the greatest Persuasive Leader of his generation to create the space for his team to succeed.

This is brilliant politics for three reasons. 1.) Giving ownership of policy to subordinates makes Obama harder to hit. Early in the reign of the Bush junta Progressives were driven to distraction by the very visible Rumsfeld and Ashcroft, but Bush remained popular and Rumsfeld and Ashcroft only became unpopular when Bush did. The Public at large does not care about Secretaries, but ideologues do. By leading with his subordinates Obama will force the Conservatrons to swing wildly to try to hit him. Their foolish fixation on trying to link Obama to Blagojevich is an early example of this and has, of course, been a massive FAIL. Subsequent attempts by Conservatrons will be cat-chasing-tail exercises because scandalmongering for the sake of scandalmongering does not reflect the seriousness of the times, but Obama’s “no red America, no blue America, just the United States of America” trope does. That the Conservatrons have completely abandoned this high ground is astounding in its stupidity 2.) When Obama does stake political capital on a policy outcome it is more likely to be effective and decisive because it will occur relatively rarely and only after his subordinate has spent his or her political capital. 3.) Everyone prefers a boss that does not micromanage. I imagine that one of the reasons that Obama’s campaign was so tight is that he let his people do their part their way. Obama is more likely to win the devotion of his Team of Experts by following Eisenhower’s model.

Eisenhower’s governing style was not a complete success. After his heart attack in his second term Ike appeared to lose some control of his administration and it became mired in silly scandals and transgressions. The Republicans got trounced in the 1958 mid-terms. The U2 Spy Plane incident seemed to be a sign of Ike’s detachment. Still, when all was said and done and remembered Ike was popular and maintained the Leadership necessary to make a credible warning about the Military-Industrial Complex in his farewell address.

Team Obama is filled clever, able people that are also keen students of history. I think they can perform even better than Team Eisenhower.

Chicago Obamas 7 Arizona McSames 2. Democrats Win President Washington's Cup!

FIVE GOAL THIRD PERIOD TURNS TIGHT CONTEST INTO ROUT

After upsetting the Newyarkansas Clintons in the eight overtime of Game 57 in their best 29 out of 57 series to capture the Democratic Conference Championship the Chicago Obamas were strong favorites against the Conservatron Conference Champion Arizona McSames. The Democratic Conference had been outperforming the Conservatron Conference all year. Even though the McSames’ run to the Finals was swift after they recovered from poor play in the quarterfinals, their competition was weak whereas the Obamas emerged from, arguably, the strongest and deepest field in Democratic Conference history.

The talent gap was evident from the drop of the puck. The Obamas scored on their first rush up ice on a patented tic-tac-toe Obama Great Speech to start the general campaign. On the next shift, the Obamas caught the McSames’ Lobbyists skating through the neutral zone with their head done. The Obamas delivered a devastating, Stevensesque clean open ice hit on the Lobbyists by noting that their presence was contrary to the McSames’ famous rhetoric. The McSames’ Lobbyists were concussed out of the game and the referees were forced to pick their teeth off the ice like so many wayward Chiclets.

The McSames’ strategy relied heavily on the Lobbyists’ efforts. The Obamas continued to dominate play and it appeared that it was just a matter of time before they broke the game wide open. The McSames made it to the Finals by adapting, however, and they brought in Steve Schmidt off waivers from the Texas Bushes to change their strategy. Schmidt cut down on the McSames sloppy play and established a forecheck by noting that the Obamas had limited direct foreign policy experience. After a few strong shifts the McSames got too aggressive with their talking point. The McSames careless use of their stick by noting that the Obamas had not visited several foreign countries drew blood and the Obamas were awarded a four minute power play. The Obamas applied constant presure on the first half of the power play and finally scored off a rebound with Obama’s Foreign Tour to take a 2-0 first period lead into the locker room.

The McSames retooled their attack in the intermission and shocked the Obama’s by springing an advertisment short-handed breakaway. The McSames scored five hole with the Celebrity Commercial to cut the Obamas’ lead in half. The unexpected goal appeared to rattle the Obamas, and while the McSames were not generating much offense, they were exceeding expectations by keeping the score close. Despite the Obamas’ almost supernatural talent, by the mid-point of the contest it had become clear that they could not polish off the McSames without the tough, down-low, home spun “grinding,” cycling and forechecking game perfected by the Newyarkasas Clintons that had produced the last National Presidential League champions from the Democratic Conference in 1992 and 1996.

The Obamas successfully integrated the Clintons into their attack during the Democratic Convention. The new teammates produced several strong shifts, and long periods of puck possession, but could not score another goal. Obama’s Convention Speech hit the post.

The McSames immediately reversed the Obamas’ Convention momentum by calling up a little known right-winger named Sarah Nilap from the Melting Tundra League’s Wasilla Meth Houses. Although the Wasilla Meth Houses are a Conservatron Conference farm team, the young phenom had impressed drunken Conservatron scouts with her nice Talent & Acumen for pleasant blathering laced with distilled hatred. The unexpected entrance of Nilap on the first-line as Vice-Presidential Candidate and her controversial family and personal history upended the contest and turned it into a penalty fest. The McSames took control of this narrative in their Convention and produced a goal on a one-timer from the top of the right circle with Nilap’s VP Acceptance Speech. The contest was tied heading into the third period.

The McSames emerged from the intermission with momentum and carried play for the first time in the entire contest, producing scoring chances on  every shift. Their best opportunity came on the Lipstick On A Pig one-timer from the blue line. Several spectators thought the shot had gone in, however, the Obamas’ goalie got a glove on it at the last moment by pointing out its conceptual abusrdity. The play was reviewed for two news cycles before the pundits declared that it glanced off the goalie’s glove, hit the cross bar, and sailed out of play.

The Obamas’ caught a break as the McSames shot the puck over the glass by declaring the “fundamentals of the economy are strong” in the face of the Great Economic Collapse. The McSames flailed about in the ensuing penalty kill, changing their strategy on an almost moment by moment basis. The Obamas kept the puck in the economic zone, and wore out the McSame’s defense finally scoring over the blocker on a give and go with their Understanding Of The Great Economic Collapse.

By this point the Obama’s had figured out that Nilap had good political instincts, but poor fundamentals. Rather than pressing Nilap and allowing her to react using her raw politicism, they forced her to make plays. The new strategy paid off as Nilap muffed a routine break out pass and banked the puck into her own net off a McSame defenseman’s skate by Being A Moron In The Katie Couric Interview. Nilap’s effectiveness was permanently marred by the mistake, and the Obama’s had a 4-2 lead.

The McSames understood that the contest was getting away from them and tried to change the momentum. McSame’s call to “suspend” his campaign forced off-setting penalties and the first four on four play of the contest. Although McSame initiated the four on four, it played directly into Obama’s strength of mental acuity, calmness, and economic understanding. McSame’s strategic errors during the four-on-four led to an easy two on one goal for the Obama’s by Displaying Superior Leadership In Crisis and a 5-2 lead.

The Obamas scoring outburst left the McSames with no choice but to play dirty. A series of high-sticks, elbows, trips, and dives by bringing up tenuous negative Obama associations excited the Conservatron partisans, but failed to intimidate the Obamas. The Obamas erased all doubt in the contest by putting home a backhander off a goal mouth scrum by Winning Every Debate and going up 6-2.

There were only five minutes left in the elimination game. With nothing to lose the McSame’s pulled their goalie for “‘Joe’ the ‘Plumber'” another unknown call up from the Ohio Delusional League. The McSame’s picked up the hitting, and kept the puck in the Obamas’ zone, but they did not get any more serious scoring chances. The Obamas iced the game with an empty net goal from Colin Powell’s Endorsement. The Obamas’ army of volunteers made no mistake in the closing seconds, fighting hard to the end despite the overwhelming lead.

As the buzzer sounded euphoria blossomed throughout the land like a thousand starbursts. After eight years of heartbreak and despair starting with the Texas Bushes controversial “chad in the crease” victory in the year 2000, the Democrats had at last regained President Washington’s Cup!

Chicago Obamas 7   Arizona McSames 2

Scoring Summary

First Period:

Obamas (1) :33, Obama Great Speech (McSame Green Screen, History Making); Obamas (2) 19:22, Obama World Tour (Power Play) (Foreign Enthusiasm, Media Excitement)

Second Period

McSames (1) :10, Celebrity Commercial (Short Handed) (Starlets, Complicit Media); McSames (2) 18:43 Nilap VP Acceptance Speech (Melodrama, Speechwriter).

Third Period

Obamas (3) 2:32, Understanding of Great Economic Collapse (Power Play) (Calmness, Reason); Obamas (4) 7:11, Nilap Being A Moron In Katie Couric Interview (Tina Fey Impression, Blogosphere); Obamas (5) 10:00, Displaying Superior Leadership In Crisis (Intelligence, Planning); Obamas (6) 14:33, Winning Every Debate (Unflappability, Joe Biden); Obamas (7) 18:01, Colin Powell Endorsement (Empty Net) (Call For National Unity, Intelligence).

Attendance – 115 Million

2008 National Presidential League Trophies

Conn Smythe Trophy – Barack Obama

Hart Trophy – Barack Obama

Lady Byng Trophy – Michelle Obama

Calder Trophy – Sarah Nilap

Art Ross Trophy – Obama Ground Game

Vezina Trophy – Hillary’s Establishment Support

Norris Trophy – Bill Clinton

Selke Trophy – Joe Biden

Masterson Trophy – Hillary Clinton

Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard Trophy – Barack Obama

Jack Adams Trophy – David Plouffe and David Axelrod

Holik Trophy – Joe Lieberman

But What If…!

For all of the angst and annoying Rachel Maddow segments about the “Bradley effect”, flakey young voter turnout, voter caging, voter suppression, the sneaky Conservatron ground game, Conservatrons insisting the “race is tightening,” corrupt electronic voting machines, Obama supporter complacency, and the polls perhaps being fundamentally wrong somehow there is one possibility that has gotten little consideration.

What if the Conservatrons do not come out in high numbers?

All of the above worries have some level of merit, but there is strong analytical, statistical and qualitative evidence that the Conservatron turnout may be down.

In no particular order:

1.) 2004 was a Base election. Generalissimo Bush was King of the Conservatron Base. Bush Patsy McCain is not, yet analysts of all stripes assume that robust Conservatron turnout similar to 04 is a given.

2.) Early voting favors Obama. Again, people will assume that the Conservatrons will all appear on election day, but they had just as much of a chance to vote early as the Obamites (indeed they probably had an easier go of it overall given the active attempts to supress Democratic votes), and many more Obamites appear to have voted. If you take off your dread-tinted glasses this seems like an emprical example of Obamites outvoting McSamers..

3.) Returns are Down in Conservatron Oregon Counties. Oregon votes entirely by mail. It is not a bell weather state, but its Conservatives are very Conservative and its Liberals are very Liberal. If Conservatives were ready to come out in 04 numbers, then they would be doing so in Oregon even if you correct for the fact that the race has not been contested in Oregon like it was in 04 and there are no compelling ballot measures. Again, Conservatrons have had a chance to cast their ballot for Bush Patsy McCain, and they haven’t.

4.) Where’s the Ground Game? The 538.com review of both sides’ ground game found the Republican offices to often be empty, while the Democratic offices were abuzz. Polemic’s own experience with organizing for Obama involved Rene Russo, a movie star everyone’s kinda’ heard of adding MILFy charisma to the Obama ground force in exurban Nevada. While I’m sure the Conservatrons are putting the shot on net in Ohio and elsewhere, it may be too much to assume that they replicate the “best ever” effort of 2004 nationwidse.

In short, a mixture of cortisol and time is fussing with some progressives’ perception. This election pits a past peak candidate who is not the favorite of his own party, has the albatross of the worst and most unpopular president of modern times around his neck; who has run an erratic, weird campaign that resembles an episode of South Park, picked a megafauna murdering dunce for a running mate, and has nothing relevant to say about the Great Economic Collapse against the greatest persuasive leader of his generation who has a bottomless war chest and is a master of relevance; whose followers are motivated to rectify the nightmare of the last eight years and are energized by the suspicious and agonizing elections of 04 and 08.

Here is my special prediction: The mixture of Conservatron disenchantment and historic Obama enthusiasm will lead to Obama winning one “what the fuck?” state. My prognostications are that it will be Lousiana — where Obama appears to have scored in early voting and neither candidate has a presence — or Arizona whose demographics are similar to those of New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado where Obama is running strong.

Bring on the Conservatron Hate Machine!

Bush Patsy McCain is pulling out of Michigan. Remember back at the start of the general election campaign how Bush Patsy McCain was going to put New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey in play? Remember how Nilap was supposed to make Oregon and Washington State competitive again? In the immortal words of Elroy Jetson: “Eep-op-orp Uh Uh” and that means “hell no!”

Where Kerry had to sweat Oregon, New Jersey and even Hawaii Bush Patsy McCain must now defend North Carolina, Virginia and Indiana. Obama has pulled ahead in New Hampshire in recent days and is winning Pennsylvania. The only other Kerry state that may be close is Minnesota. Meanwhile, Obama has strong leads in New Mexico and Iowa. This means that any one of Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, Indiana, Florida, West Virginia, Colorado, Missouri, or Nevada puts Obama/Biden over the top (although just a West Virginia or Nevada would result in an unsavory 269-269 tie Win).

Conservatron prostates are tickled because Nilap managed to mouth her verbal lobotomy at the VP debate without being possessed by a witch, but again, no one else cares about how she is avoiding an evil media filter. Disliking Katie Couric, Gwen Ifill and David Letterman doesn’t help pay the mortgage. Having a VP that must be sequestered and handled and cannot be a typical surrogate is a tremendous weakness. As much as Nilap may have “fired up the base” there is strong observational evidence that the Bush Patsy McCain ground game is not nearly as intense or robust as Obama’s. The money that Obama put into his field offices instead of advertising in the summer is paying off now.

Predictably, Bush Patsy McCain is going pure negative. HRC “threw the kitchen sink” in a similar circumstance. And it worked. The confounding factors were that Obama needed the HRC voters so he could not respond in kind. The ideological differences were minute, leaving little substance to disagree over. Obama also had to simultaneously contend with Bush Patsy McCain with one hand. Most importantly, Clinton/Clinton were far more formidable than Bush Patsy McCain/Nilap are. The Conservatrons will play the Association Card with Ayers and Reverend Wright as much as possible. Obama needs to stay cool, focus on the economy, and counter punch by bringing up Bush Patsy McCain’s random, weird Diva behavior, terrible proposals, Bush Patsyness, and history of lousy judgment. I still also think that Obama gains stature points from less attentive voters (who are often the undecideds) that are now starting to focus on the election just by being his able self at the debates.

Beyond that though, I wonder if the Conservatron Hate Machine is as powerful as it was four years ago. Consider the recent fake controversy over Gwen Ifill’s supposed bias towards Obama/Biden because of a book she is writing about black politicians post-Obama. This was a Nixonland classic: anti-“elitism” mixed with hints of quiet racism, and an elbow thrown at the media to boot. And it wiffed. It never made it past the Conservatron echo chamber to establish an MSM narrative. Methinks there are three reasons for this: 1.) There is enough of a liberal echo chamber now (the Netroots + Air America + Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow) to at least put the counter-argument that everyone knew about the Ifill book two months ago into the MSM. 2.) The media is more diffuse so it is harder to insert narratives into it than it was four years ago. 3.) No one cares! As I’ve been arguing for months, US versus THEM backlashes predicated on the upheavals of 1968 are not relevant to the problems of 2008. Ifill was equally worthless as a moderator as Jim Lehrer was, Biden wiped the floor with Nilap and Obama continues to gain slightly in the national tracking polls each day.

Oh, and with Bush Patsy McCain surrendering the field Obama gets to redirect most of his Michigan resources too!

Blacks Tuned In to the Election

Interesting breakdown of the viewership of the conventions: blacks were more likely that any other ethnic group to watch both conventions.

This appears a bit odd at first glance. There is an obvious reason for blacks to be especially interested in the Democratic Convention this year, but why the intent viewership of the Conservatron convention? There are barely any black Conservatrons to speak of — nary a black Senator, Congressperson or Governor amongst them. Why the viewing pleasure of a party whose electoral base in the South is the direct result of a backlash against the Civil Rights movement?

As is so often the case, the answer lies in an ice hockey allegory. During the playoffs, so long as my Devils are in it, I am intent on “other” hockey. The instant the Devils get eliminated — ahem, if they get eliminated — I could care less about the rest of the tournament. Even watching it makes me mildly ill. With the Devils still kicking, watching “other” hockey isn’t entertainment. It’s data collection. It’s hoping for triple overtimes and twisted ankles. It’s analyzing how the Devils will stack up to the other teams.

I suspect that this is what viewing the Conservatron Convention was for the overwhelming majority of blacks that will vote for Obama. They wanted to view what the opposition was bringing to the showdown to better understand their guy’s chances.

Even with Democratic registration gains Obama will probably lose some Kerry votes. Some of this may be racism. Some of it may be moronic PUMAism. Some of it is random. The key to an Obama victory is expanding the electoral pool to include more blacks, young people, and independents, to go along with workhorse liberals, Unionists, and the rest of the Democratic Base. The strong interest of blacks in both Conventions is a sign that this key demographic is concentrated on the race and will get itself out to vote.

Kerry lost Florida by about 380,000 votes. According to David Plouffe there are 600,000 registered blacks in Florida that did not vote in 2004….

Turn Around Jumpshot?

Obama won Faux-Outrage Lipstickgate. Moreover, he seemed to find a constant line of attack that counters the Conservatron silliness: They make up X, because they do not want you to think about Y. Nonsense. Enough.

Simple and clear, with the benefit of being true.

Meanwhile, the Nilap repetition of the same phrase speech is getting boring and her daughter is just getting more pregnant; which, if you think about it, is really not that interesting. The Conservatrons will never leave Nilap, but the trail of slime lingers on.

We shall see what we shall see; but for now, this is why I am an Obamacrat:

Barack Obama: The 21st Century Jacksonian

Andrew Jackson was the first president elected through universal white male suffrage. This seems hopelessly limiting today, but eliminating the property owning requirement opened the vote to the hardscrabble, not necessarily educated, self-made folks of the old old west of Tennessee and Kentucky and the like. There were folks who mostly immigrated from different parts of Europe and had austere upbringings compared to the founders. At the end of their lives the founding fathers viewed these new voters with Pandora-like horror; the great republic that was to have been run by disinterested gentleman would now be directed by the passions and heat of the unwashed masses.

Jackson was a bizarre and contradictory President, but he is on the twenty dollar bill because he encapsulates this larger democratic change.

Obama is not bringing voting power to any group that lacks it. Rather he is an ambassador from America’s polygot future, where multi-racial or multi-cultural upbringings are the the norm; where it is easy and obvious for someone to be both definitively Polish, Bengali, Jewish, or Peruvian and genuine USA All-American. The story of his candidacy — beyond the fact that his positions and reasoning are deep and impressive if you bother to do your homework — is the ability of increasing numbers of the mini-tribes that America has coalesced into to see their otherness in his otherness and accept both. This explains both the ability to draw 75,000 person crowds and the uneasy lack of definition many, mostly older, people feel about the Obamathon.

In that spirit the fourth night of the convention was a 21st century update to the “hard cider and log cabin” rallies of the Jacksonian Era. These were community affairs featuring ample drinking, dancing, speechifying and music making. Similarly, just like the huge Obama rally in my hometown last spring, Mile High Stadium was “the place to be” last night, especially when viewed on C-Span without the agonizing interference of the cable news bloviating filter feeders. Both the live and piped music was grand. There was dancing, merriment and yes drinking aplenty. The speeches by the “typical” Americans, a Jacksonian touchstone, were even better than usual because they were delivered with affect in front of a group of peers rather than delegates. Seeing Pelosi and other luminaries as just part of the gigantic crowd was in the best spirit of Jacksonian equality. Gore added wonderful praise to Obama’s younger voters, treating them as a force rather an oddity. Obama’s speech was magnificent. It had enough detail and fortitude to defy the foolishly low expectations that the Conservatrons had set for him, and enough of his trademark Persuasive relevancy and rhetoric to ignite the crowd.

The moment produced a glow with fireworks raining confetti. Even the network anchor types seemed to get it.

Bush Patsy McCain gets to step on this moment with his peculiar choice of Palin for veep, but I suspect that the future of American politics will look like that rally last night. A happening; a Be In with song, spectacle and speech that is more about your presence there –through your computer if not physically — than producing a seven second audio and visual for the old network news that no one watches anymore anyway.

Obligatory VP Post

Biden would not have been my first choice.  I’m not sure what Obama thinks this means for his “change” message, or what he thinks of Biden’s vote on the bankruptcy bill or the AUMF.  I’m also not sure why someone who would highlight Obama’s weaknesses was such a good choice, but I guess they gamed it out and decided that this lessens the “risky” perception.

I don’t really care whether Biden is perfect. I just want them to win.

Obama Goofs, Again.

Conservatives have Democrats of a certain age group convinced that the way for Democrats to win elections these days is to compromise on what their rabid liberal base believes.  For example, Democrats have attempted to dodge the “issue” of gay marriage through the half-assery of state-by-state solutions and civil unions instead of “marriage.”

The problem with this, and any other number of Democratic “compromises” is that they implicitly confess that their position is wrong. The political process could well work out a compromise just like this, but once you say it’s what you want, you’ve lowered your bottom line, and then the other side just says, “nope, I’m right.”

Same with Iraq, same with FISA, same with Supreme Court justices, etc.  The Republicans had a successful run because they used to have a coherent ideology that seemed to mean something, even when its true effect was the opposite.  But people who didn’t spend all day thinking about it thought it sounded like it made sense and the Democrats seemed to only want to take the edge off the same ideas a little, so why not go with the real McCoy?

So, Obama, who was supposed to represent change, who vowed never to be swiftboated, is doing none of this.  To an extent its brilliant: go after the available evangelical vote if you can get it.

But you get it by explaining why your way is actually better for evangelicals.  Something like, “Leviticus 18:22 [the commandment allegedly against male-male sex] is just one of the hundreds of things God calls on us to do, and it has taken too much of our time.  What about the commandment to love your neighbor? What about the commandment to do justice?” etc. etc.  and explain why the liberal view actually is closer to the Biblical view.

Or explain why withdrawing from Iraq is not a sign of weakness, but a strategic emergency to defend us against true threats, like Russia and China, instead of using our military as a special project force for oil companies, it should protect all of us.

Or ask us to have some balls and not be pussies.  We will give counter-intel and anti-terror forces the tools they need, but we won’t undo what America stands for in the process.  Fuck the terrorists, we can be martyrs for freedom—or are you a pussy? I thought liberals were pussies?  Well, we’re the ones willing to live free or die.  They’re the ones willing to live unfree and still probably die.

Look—I get it, you have to pivot to win in the general.  But you don’t pivot by deflating your base and capitulating over and over.

And, unlike pundits, my sentiments on Obama’s effectiveness seem to be showing up in swing-state polls (Ohio and Colorado) and in the national polls.

An Evolutionary Psychology of Obama vs. Clinton

According to Patrick McNamara and David Trumbull’s “An Evolutionary Psychology of Leader Follower Relations” (EPLFR) a Leader organizes a group towards cooperative goals while punishing free riders that would profit from the cooperation without contributing to it. Leaders come in two flavors. There are “Persuasive” leaders who provide a vision and/or personal story that is so compelling that it inspires followers; and there are “Dominant” leaders who motivate followers through either military triumph and/or a “political” mastery of group relationships and dynamics. The authors took this evolutionary psychological theory of leadership and applied it to the Greek (living in Rome in “Roman” times) historian Plutarch’s “Lives,” which were biographies of Classical leaders. They found that the greatest leaders were able to exhibit both the Persuasive and Dominance strategies. By their analysis Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar were the best leaders of Classical times, with Caesar being slightly better than Alexander.

Obama versus Clinton was an archetypical competition between Obama, the Persuasive Leader, and Clinton the Dominant Leader. I posit that Obama won because at a few crucial times he was able to employ Dominance tactics while Clinton never made a convincing Persuasive case.

There is more to Persuasion, in the circumstance of a Presidential election, than just policy proposals. EPLFR posits that relevance, the ability to convey information in a way that it is useful to the listener, is a crucial leadership skill. During the Dominant Clinton’s summer of inevitability she did not demonstrate a compelling vision for her candidacy that would make it more than the sum of her policies. Meanwhile, Obama found his Persuasive voice, took Iowa, excited a legion of followers, and the race was on.

Obama first used a Dominance tactic at the debate prior to the South Carolina primary when, Hillary having ceded South Carolina to Bill, he snapped that he could not tell which Clinton he was running against. This diminished Hillary’s Dominance by making her appear aped by Bill and unable to be her own candidate. Obama won South Carolina in a rout.

Obama had another important advantage as the marathon continued. EPLFR posits that there is a statistically significant correlation between the Myers-Briggs ENTP (Extroverted-Intuitive-Thinking-Perceiver) personality type and being a successful leader. Obama’s ability to take historical trends and braid them into relevant rhetoric is a hallmark or Intuitive-Persuasive thinking, whereas Clinton was a classic ESTJ (Extroverted-Sensing-Thinking-Judger) with her seven point plans and commissions for everything. Obama intuited that the race would go on beyond Super Tuesday; that caucuses and proportional delegate allotments could keep him even through Super Tuesday; that there were thousands of young voters waiting to be enthused; that the Internet could obviate “fat cats”; and that Change would be the touchstone of the election. Clinton stuck to her meticulous plan based on the information in front of her, and only altered it when the available information proved it was not working. Her campaign was broke in February and Obama won the 11 consecutive contests that gave him an insurmountable delegate lead. {Full disclosure, I have no doubt that my own INTP personality was a factor in my favoring Obama and finding ESTJ Clinton to be ever more annoying as the campaign wore on.}

Clinton still had the core of top-to-bottom establishment support in most states worthy of a Dominant leader. In a truly masterful display of the Dominant style she used her sudden underdog status, and a healthy pinch of race baiting, to transform her millionaire-self into the champion of beleaguered working class whites. Her perceived hectoring was twisted into a catharsis for the sexism faced by white Boomer women, even as she strong-armed the MSM into going negative on Obama. Along with institutional Latino support she kept her candidacy alive in Texas and Ohio.

By then the Obamathon had faded and Reverend Wright’s goof city bloviating threatened to take away the most Persuasive part of Obama’s story. Again, Obama fell back on his ENTP skills and spun the most relevant and Persuasive speech of the campaign. By the standards of EPLFR his discourse on race was a moment of maximum leadership. {Anecdotal evidence: walking around my condo complex that week, it seemed that every unit, including those of apolitical people, was streaming the race speech on the Internet.}

Still Clinton’s Dominance tactics cemented the constituencies of both candidates and the demographics of most of the upcoming states favored her. Obama undercut his own Persuasiveness with bittergate.

In the weeks before North Carolina and Indiana Clinton had Dominated her way towards another opportunity to make a compelling Persuasive argument. Again, she failed. The silly “Gas Tax Holiday” scheme, and the contradictory contempt for all expert opinion on it from the “experienced” candidate, was a naked, irrelevant pander {Anecdotal evidence: My Hoosier brother-in-law turned to Obama in response to Clinton’s gas tax holiday proposal}. Obama made a Persuasive pivot in arguing against it and effectively ended the competitive primary with his blowout in North Carolina and close loss in Indiana.

Obama Dominated the rest of the primary by ignoring the states where the demographics were not in his favor, fixating himself and the MSM on the general election, securing blowouts in demographically friendly states, and quietly scotching any revote in Michigan and Florida. By the time the Rules Committee met on Michigan and Florida he had the Dominant influence to secure a counting of those delegates that did no material harm to his candidacy. Clinton sharpened her constituencies through additional race baiting, resentment-mongering, and sheer hard work, but all of the accompanying vitriol diminished her Persuasive ability by the day.

Clinton proved herself a master of the Dominance style. Against most candidates this would have secured a win. Obama’s Persuasiveness was equal to her Dominance, and he managed to selectively use the Dominance strategy where she never managed to Persuade. Obama was victorious because he was the better Leader.

Being Right And Being Wrong On The Big Issues

Until he issues a Sherman statement, I will be for Gore. Why? Because he’s right on the two biggest issues of our time, of this decade. He was right about Iraq before almost anyone of his stature was. And he is the premier spokesman for global warming, the issue of the 21st century.

Hillary, Obama, Edwards, Biden, and Richardson are all late comers to the anti-Iraq party, with Hillary, Biden, and Edwards actually having voted for the war. I don’t think I’ve heard much from any of them (except Richardson) about climate issues.

There will be things I vehemently disagree with Gore on, and other things I agree with the others on. But on the big issues–those that have consequences for generations–Gore is batting 1.000.

You don’t need a fancy education to see how history treats presidents and presidential candidates who were right on the most pressing issues of their time. Reagan was right about the Cold War. He will be remembered as a good president for that, despite the fact that his administration was corrupt, and his domestic policies were about as enlightened as Hammurabi. LBJ skates on signing Kennedy’s civil rights bill, even though he is responsible for the (now) second biggest farce in American history. Truman left office with his approval rating in the shitter, but he was there when America won World War II, the defining moment of at least two generations.

History does not judge presidents on a punchlist of their achievements. Even though Clinton dismantled the last relics of the New Deal and forced through NAFTA and other such Gilded Age policies such as the Telecom Act of 1996, he will be remembered for his political prowess and his steadfast dedication to world peace, even though he was impeached.

Let’s face it: some of our most hallowed presidents committed some stupid missteps. Lincoln may have been good with civil rights, but he was a mess with civil liberties, attempting to suspend habeas corpus. Washington didn’t really do a damn thing, but he was the figurehead of the Revolution. Jackson was as genocidal as Hitler, but he was the hero of New Orleans and created a calmed political atmosphere.

And the converse is true. Much good came from some of our lesser presidents. Nixon was good on the environment, for example. (I still can’t think of one for Bush II.)

I get the feeling that Hillary will be an effective president, but effective as to her agenda of pushing whatever pseudo-centrist agenda helps her the most. I don’t expect her to put a man on Mars, cure cancer, or solve the global warming crisis.

President Obama would have at least one speech that’s up there with “Ask not what your country can do for you” and “There is nothing to fear but fear itself” but for all his soaring rhetoric, I have no idea if my grandkids will say President Obama was the first black president and he brought peace to the Middle East, or if he signed the McDermott-Boehner Tax Reform Act of 2009.

Edwards? Well, we might see universal healthcare and some real progress for working people. But if he was hoodwinked on Iraq, what else will he miss?

That said, all of these show more promise than the ludicrous assortment of douchebags on the other side. Is their bench really that shallow?

O-bomb-a 2008

Obama’s in. Oy vey.

I admire his political adroitness. First, he plays to the activist left, then shows that he’s really centrist. After having done not so much in the senate, after a mere 2 years, he’s running for president surfing a giant wave of popularity and intrigue.

So, here’s the problem. No one wants to be the anti-Obama (i.e. the get-in-the-way-of-the-black-president candidate), so, I’m afraid it’s going to be his race to lose.

This probably means, after all, that Gore isn’t in. Ironically, Obama can take the center because a lot of the harder left will be voting for the idea of him, even if he won’t get hard-core anti-Iraq.

I’d love to see him as the VP nominee, but this is going to be tough.

Of those who are in, I really don’t know who I support anymore. I like most of them, but I don’t really get all that excited about one term senators, white or black.

David Sirota is My Hero 3

I’m not sure what Obama really thinks about all of this, and I’m certainly in favor of better education, but I agree with Sirota on this point:

Yes, it is the Great Education Myth – the idea that if we only just made everyone in America smarter, we would solve outsourcing, wage depression and health care/pension benefit cuts that are the result of forcing Americans to compete in an international race to the bottom. As I wrote recently in the San Francisco Chronicle, this is one of the most dishonest myths out there, as the government’s own data shows that, in fact, all of the major economic indicators are plummeting for college grads. You can make everyone in America a PhD, and all you would have is more unemployed PhD’s – it would do almost nothing to address the fact that the very structure of our economy – our tax system, our trade system and our corporate welfare system – is designed to help Big Money interests ship jobs offshore and lower wages/benefits here at home.

It’s more insidious than that, even. It creates one archetype for people to follow, and society labels people who don’t follow it as losers, and gives them an excuse to not include them. I have a doctoral degree, so I’m part of the in club, but I’m going to need car mechanics and garbagemen the rest of their lives. I’d also like to think that the people who do that see at least some reason for doing it and don’t wake up every day thinking they suck.

America should be a football team, not a running race. On a football team, the left tackle can get paid almost as much as the quarterback (or more on some teams). On a football team, you need small quick guys to catch, and guys to kick. In other words, it takes all kinds. In the 100m dash, it’s just about whose the best runner.

We’re ignoring our Nose Tackles in this country, and importing them from abroad, to the detriment of both their country and ours.