Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Grand Old Potty

Apologies for the usual silence. It's just that the contest for, the spectacle over if you will, the GOOP nomination has become something dull and pointless to jaded old me.

In the last couple weeks, as I judge, the general sentiment of the moderately sentient is that the Republican Party is toast, the convention will be a stupid monkey show, and a abject and total defeat in November, in both executive and legislative branches, is becoming something near certain.

All of this I've felt in my bones, and occasionally wrote about here, for simply yonks, and to see it unwind in slow motion, is about as thrilling to me now as a Dallas rerun.

On the Blue side, the whining beginning to drift from the Sanders camp (though, in fairness, not the candidate himself) is adding a tiresome edge to what is still a one-note campaign, which becomes ever more defined in its appeal with every overwhelming win in very white, independent-crossover caucus states.

And, y'know, fine. Just don't pretend the candidate has anything of substance to offer rank and file Democrats, or that something is wrong with those people supporting Mrs. Clinton.

The one interesting part is how the rather brainer writers of a conservative bent are now looking at the smoking ruins of their once-sturdy brain palace, trying to articulate what the hell happened. This reflective phase for them will go on for a long time, and I wish them godspeed with it.

Writers of a livelier, more rambling intellect are beginning to outline a deeper look at what's happening, and getting it close to right. For what we are witnessing isn't only the implosion of the Grand Old Potty but also, like a higher, maddened harmony of a Strauss opera, the rage of a patriarchy compelled at last to account for itself; to in fact outline its values for consideration, and so possible rejection, in a broad referendum.

The GOOP, leaders and followers both, has know for almost two years that the Democrats would almost certainly nominate a very capable woman for president. One could easily infer that that knowledge alone drove them frothing insane enough to cough-up that giant orange hairball.

And to all the concerned liberals whose earnest, 750-word pensées are daily liked unto my Facebook feed let me say: far from being a degraded process, this is why we have elections in the first place; not to find the soberest, most able individual for high office, but to vent the stupid notions that build up very naturally in every republic, and especially in ours, where monied stupidity, lacking any regular institutional challenge, has been held in high esteem from the get-go.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Midnight in the Garden of Goobers and Weasels (cont.)

After posting the previous, I went on to read a few worried articles by Very Concerned People, on just what a threat to the Republic the DT really is, to which I say: Banana Oil.

He appeals to the dim, the angry, the racist, and nihilistic; a lot of whom are getting up there in years too. The passionate attraction these folks feel for him says a lot more about the crumbling condition of the GOOP, than the state of the union, which has sheltered crackpots, dingbats, mad failures, and malign fools in good number across its history.

No, DT will lose and his movement scatter and fade. Someone, maybe even Donnie himself, might try to gin-up a repeat performance next cycle, but the act will be older, less invigorating. His supporters are subject to the same existential laws of boredom and inaction as the rest of us, and, lacking the philosophic defenses offered by education and personal accomplishment, are thereby more prey to their ravages. You cannot build a sustained success by appealing mostly to the moods of failures. As for DT's anticipated "pivot" to the center, I'll observe that the only center he knows is behind his own eyeballs. Donnie is incapable of staying true to anything but his own gargantuan and flighty ego needs. Any future bid he might make to sensible centrists can, and will, be undone in a moment of pique.

Frankly, I'm still not convinced he'll be the GOOP's nominee, but for that we'll just have to stay tuned.

Speaking of pivot, anyone who has not noticed Mrs. Clinton's signaling last week to the broader-minded subset of appalled Republicans that she isn't oh-so-awful after all just hasn't been paying attention.

UPDATE: Shortly after I posted this, Kevin Drum posted this.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A House Derided

OOOOooo-E! Where to start? For history buffs like yours truly, the hot-tempered shouting and shoving that now characterizes the DT's rallies harkens back to a rougher and sturdier age, an era which came to a head around the time that the last major American political party, being the Whigs ca. 1855, imploded. I'm not sure you had active incitements towards violence radiating from the leading hustings, but brawling at rallies, conventions, and polling places, has a distinguished history in our deranged nation and I, for one, find its reemergence bracing.

While the Democrats have mainly hewed to a policy-driven campaign that tends to underplay cults of personality (and to be clear, every bid for high office needs some cultish attraction, and the Bern has been consistently in the lead in this regard), the GOOP contest has devolved into complete Theater of Cruelty, a deeply entertaining Guignol that only promises further riches as the headsmen and torturers lurch their bloody way to Cleveland.

But how, I hear my imaginary interlocutor wailing, can you take so lightly this army of furious racists who MIGHT boost a new Mussolini into the Oval Office??

And it is astonishing to me just how many sane and decent thinkers in my circles of friends are terrified of this wholly ridiculous prospect. This is, of course, the effect of TV, which everyone watches, and the absurd magnifying effect it gives to everything the mainly conservative apparatchiks of TV find important. And for them nothing is more important than ratings; so if ratings demand the daily spinning of faintly-plausible fantasy to keep frightened and angry people tuned-in, well, so be it.

Look folks, the Untied States of America is an enormous country, of over 300 million people spread out across a land mass approximately 3,000 miles long and up to 2,000 miles wide. It lacks anything approaching a state religion (and, no, conservative Protestantism does not count as a single religion), a presiding racial identity (and WASP is a category, not a national identity), or even a central capital that dictates the political, cultural, financial, and media trends for the whole nation.

So, NO, we are not Italy in 1922, nor Germany in 1932.  The lack of any popular U.S. dictators arising, and there have been plenty over the years who've applied for the job, owes more to the size and diversity of the Republic than to any innate genius of our political institutions, to which I say: Hurray!

As for a Republican getting elected president this year, well, GMAFB. Never mind the nature of GOP causes, repulsive to so very many, national elections, for all the televised talking and spectacle, are intensely granular affairs. For a candidate to be successful, a national party has to broadly coordinate tens of thousands of small acts, in hundreds of locations, every day for months: of office rental and staffing, of canvassing and phone banking, of printing and distributing millions of signs, fliers, and door hangers, of messaging and promotion, of advance work for rallies, of determining areas of greatest need and moving the candidate efficiently from one place to the next.

But I belabor the point.

The notion that the Gone Old Party, be its nominee DT, TC, or a sucker to be named later, will be coherent enough to deliver effective service for a presidential campaign is simply laughable. They have been at each others throats for too long to pull together when the time comes. Put simply: the Party of Lincoln has become a House Divided. Ironic, right?

Monday, February 29, 2016

Gone Old Party (cont.)

Today the Atlantic has a longish thumbsucker that eventually comes around to the point I made here, in far fewer words, a month ago, which I mention only to give a little unnecessary frisking-up to my ego, which has been lately on a roll.

That implosion of the GOP I predicted in '06, (and explained in greater detail back in '08)? It's on; in fact, it's almost over. Though it took longer than I expected to get here, it's now full-bore, and happening just as fast as advertised. I crow about this today because we can now date the death of the GOP specifically, yesterday it was, when a sitting United Sates senator, a member of the majority there, endorsed the candidacy of the rabble-rousing factionalist now making mincemeat of the political body on which his majority very much depends.

Done and dusted, folks. RIP GOP: March 20, 1854 to February 28, 2016. You people deserved everything you got, and then some.

The main thing I got wrong in timing my analysis was the assumption that the MSM would abandon the Republican project once it became clear it was accomplishing nothing, and was, in fact, an active agent, by its choices of national leaders and the issues it championed, in its own undoing. Power belonged to the Democrats, I reasoned, and the press would naturally follow the power. Turns out that assumption was very flawed.

Partly inertia, partly laziness, partly a fellow fondness for insider money and influence, for god's own number of reasons, the press stayed true to the GOP narrative just as the whole stupid exercise was coming apart; which, come to think of it, aptly mirrored the same implosive forces at work on the MSM. Each thought the other would be able to help it overcome a broadly-based, digital media crisis facing both.

The sturdiest myth the press enabled during the president's second administration, and one that even liberal bloggers were keen to accept, was that the GOP had power, when, in fact, it had nothing of the kind. Power to block is not power to control, and by pretending, in every dumb confrontation with the administration, and on every stupid TV news show, that it had the latter, it succeeded only in antagonizing a legion of not-especially-sophisticated people who bought its bullshit as gospel.

Ha ha.

The most laughable rhetorical trope that the GOP's had for sometime, a frame for nearly every block-headed pronouncement everyone of those ding-dongs makes now, is how the American people want this or that policy outcome that only the Gone Old Party can deliver. Well, a majority of the American people stand aghast and disbelieving at the mess that the senile, old, male elephant's made, and will put it out of its misery soon enough.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

DT on the TV

At the risk of sounding glib, I will observe that D. Trump is a loser's idea of a winner, being, in fact, the key to his GOP-killing popularity. Alas, the panic over the guy that has swamped controlling circles in the Gone Old Party has lately seeped into some precincts inhabited by Democrats, to which I am here to say: Enough.

Yes, there are a lot of idiots out there; and, yes, people are mad; and, yes, the man seems to draw from a spectrum of the hateful disenchanted; and hey! You never know!!

Look, the DT, well, the character he plays anyway, was created by TV, and has been promoted and advanced on TV, mainly to an indolent and dim population that is easy prey for god's own number of get-rich-quick, weight-loss, male-potency, get-out-of-debt, sports-betting, gold bug, Jezuz-sez schemes that have, in fairness to the rubes, been multiplying mightily in gov'ment-off-our-backs America these past few years. Unfortunately, lacking anything resembling a grounding in even the simplest philosophy (like, is the Sermon on the Mount so hard to grasp?) and the inability to judge shit from Shineola, there's a substrata of pretty lost citizens out there eager to drink whatever bracing koolaid is ladled-out by a big guy who smiles upon them.

But, as I'm fond of repeating, TV is not the real world, and TV fancies melt like sugar in the rain when made to live in the real world, away from the screen; that place where all our elections are still held.

Furthermore, I suspect the dumbbell vote is cover for a substantial "fuck-you" referendum directed at GOOP honchos by your better stratum of true believers who've been promised for years that their party is an uncomplicated and reliable delivery system for their often unrealistic ambitions towards achievement, affluence, and respectability.

For reasons too complicated and numerous to tally here, many fellow citizens, decent, hard working, and upright, have been raised in locales where for decades the Democratic party, rightly or wrongly, has not been seen as offering any good answers to their concerns. In some jurisdictions, many in early-primary states, Democrats have been demonized outright. As a consequence, the desire to sunder the only political body in sight is greater than the impulse to, y'know, maybe join the other one.

A certain sort of liberal now feels insulted by the ascendance of the DT and his unwashed: How dare HE, and how dare THEY, mock the system and disturb our sleep with this violent, nativist crap. HUH?? To which I, speaking broadly and philosophically, say: it's America, this stuff happens a lot, so get t.f. over it.

In the real world, where elections are held, the DT has so far absorbed the adulation of a solid plurality of a minority party, while bitterly antagonizing a strong majority of its votives and tribunes (Though part of the worrywort caucus, Martin Longman does a nice job enumerating the people so irritated.) This is not a recipe for long-term national elective success.

Once the DT wins the championship round, the practical exigencies of a national campaign will certainly prove onerous. For one thing, he is not a team guy. The choice of running mate alone will be fraught with spite and farce after the candidate is told to share the stage, if only nominally, with someone else. My feeling here, as stated earlier, is that a fair percentage on the center/right will have no difficulty voting for (yes) Mrs. Clinton, in enough numbers to make a difference, when the time comes.

In the real world she'll need only Ohio, or Florida, or North Carolina to move into the White House, the math for the GOO candidate is much longer, and made far more complicated by all the bile and ill will Republicans, washed and unwashed alike, just cannot help spewing at young people, woman, and minorities right now.

Call me mad, I say (again) the Senate flips back to the Blue side, and President Clinton nominates Barack Obama to the Supreme Court. So have a little compassion for the afflicted, some faith in your fellow citizens, and show up at the polls, and this will all be over, to the satisfaction of a large majority of voters, very shortly.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Bush Wacked

Republican-ID voters have taken a lot of hits from disbelieving quarters, of both putative allies and rivals, so far this season but, Credit-Where-Credit-Is-Due Dept., they have resoundingly humiliated what remains of the rancid Bush dynasty.

Oceans of digital ink on the subject are tossing elsewhere; the Guardian's postmortems are especially good, as is P. Beinart's, to which I have nothing to add but this: this will not be the only GOP dynasty this cycle to collapse of it's own pride and rotten assumptions.

Which one's are left? you might well ask. And I would answer: statewide fiefdoms largely hidden from the national lens but rife enough with their own internal contradictions and faced with tidal shifts in the electoral demographic to be cracking apart as we speak.

Specifically, I'm looking to N. Carolina, the congressional districts of which have just been pulled down for being abjectly racist, and the Lone Star State itself, the once and future Democratic bastion.

Lost in the hubbub and dumb received wisdom of late is the indeed transformative nature of Mrs. Clinton's candidacy, something she herself has been soft-pedaling in favor of her assured style of policy-heavy competence. I believe she will run surprisingly well down South against any one of the reckless dunderheads currently on tap for the GOO ticket, and if anyone can turn some Red states Blue for the first time in a generation, it'll be her.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

An Ass of You and Me

Your occasional correspondent would like to make clear that the opinions and observations expressed here at H&J are my own, and based on sturdy personal assumptions about the electorate and how it is perceived by a calculating and compromised news media.

Assumption numero uno is that the GOOP does not have a prayer to retake the White House in November, will very likely lose the Senate, and will probably have its House majority drained to, for them, unworkable levels.

The above is predicted on assumption #2, that the Democratic candidate will not stumble badly, that the Democrats run solid candidates down ballot, and that party voters turn out in good numbers.

So, yes, while everyone needs to do their part for a solid landslide victory, and Fate can always intervene, the notion that our nation is somehow poised on a knife's edge for a coin flip to choose between Hil/Bern and whomever the Repubs cough-up, is ludicrous. At this writing the GOOP is a minority party, riven by profound conflict, in which none of the actors polls a majority of membership. Complicating the raw numbers is a journey to the bottom in racist and violent appeals to aging white male voters on backward social issues that the rest of the population seems ready to move on (Ha!) and away from.

Because, assumption #3, Americans are as a whole and by nature a deeply practical and fair people. Admittedly, this isn't exactly apparent in our politics right now, at least as seen on Capitol Hill on TV, but blame here mostly falls on the entertainers and marketeers, the networks and local stations, who all soak-up increasing billions of dollars every election cycle by trivializing the spectacle and scolding us at every opportunity.

Now, some voters think they deserve this behavior and have come to expect and enjoy it. Media executives have therefore grown cynical about the rest of us. I have not.

Assumptions now aired, let me venture regarding the not-so-distant future. Bernie, who began as a novelty and caught the other end of that same wave propelling the DT, is beginning to weave under increased probing. He'll have a difficult time defending his assumption of 5.3 percent GDP growth his first budget year in office, along with the magic savings his healthcare plan will produce, and the righteous uprising of the people needed to make it law. He is also old, and it remains to be seen if his faltering bronchial health holds up under the exigencies of endless talk and travel.

So, yes, Mrs. Clinton shall be the Democrats' nominee. I can't begin to venture to say who'll carry the standard for what's left of the Republican party, but it seems clearer by the day that the DT will bolt from its rotten system, feeling insulted and betrayed, and run a classy third-party campaign.