Saturday, August 13, 2016

Myth America

As the Gone Old Party circles around the big suck hole that is the mouth of its current standard bearer, fated to disappear down the dumb maw of its people's choice, I'd like to take the time to put to rest, if possible, some presiding myths which have been lifted up from several quarters this campaign season in service to the notion that, somehow, this election was ever up for grabs, or that any Republican had a chance to gain the brass ring in November.

Numero Uno is that this was somehow to be a "change" election that would just fall into the lap of any GOOPer who won the primaries. My sense was that if the Kenyan Usurper was able, and wanted, to run for a third term, it would have been handed him in a silver loving cup. We see now his approval lines trending ever upward, along with the sense that his third term is safe in the sure hands of Mrs. C.

Number Two: That Mrs. Clinton is a terrible campaigner, something the Berners loved trotting out at various points in support of that elderly scold, who she out polled by nearly three million votes. (And, sorry folks, some snotty emails from the stupid offices of DW Schultz, do not remotely amount to a conspiracy to deny the nomination to old Bern, who ultimately did the right thing, with tremendous style, in Philadelphia.) One does not gain a major party nomination for president under our current system by being a terrible campaigner; and those of you still insisting on this point may consider that the skills needed to win votes may have changed from when the system was meant to deliver results to white men only.

Number Three: That any other GOP candidate could have beaten Mrs. C. in a walk. Again, nope (see reason #1 above). The Repub's so-called deep bench was a gaggle of hucksters, dingbats, bores, and the out-of-it scion of a poisoned political dynasty. The DT tore through them for a reason, which is every reason to think Mrs. C. would have rendered any one of them to lard by November.

Because, #4, the notion that DT ever had a chance in the first place, especially after the primary clown show is utter nonsense. The national electoral map simply does not favor Republicans anymore, most especially one who antagonizes women and minorities, along with a majority of his own party. The silly idea that he ever did was mainly the hobbyhorse of a workaday news industry terrified of having to report bad political news a bit early to many of its subscribers. This tidbit I gleaned today from the New York Times is an ideal example:

For a candidate who once seemed like an electoral phenomenon, with an unshakable following and a celebrity appeal that crossed party lines, Mr. Trump now faces the possibility that his missteps have erected a ceiling over his support . . .

Christ on a crutch. That unshakable following was a noisy plurality of a minority party, and I have seen zero evidence of his appeal to rank and file Democrats.

Myth #5: OhMyGawd, Hilary is SO vulnerable. A recent cri-de-coeur from a long-time GOP fixer bemoaned how DT has missed an opportunity to drive home some really bad Clinton news this past week, the disasters being:

Clinton falsely claiming the FBI director said she told the public the truth about her private server and email practices.

The $400 million cash ransom payment to Iran

The Obama administration's Department of Justice choosing not to open a public corruption investigation into the Clinton Foundation.

Weak economic reports on gross domestic product growth and productivity.

A story detailing a billionaire Clinton Foundation donor who sought a favor from the Hillary Clinton-led State Department.

Honestly, guys, if that's the best you can come up with . . . Shall we go down the list? The FBI director found her completely truthful to his inquiry. The $400 million was Iran's in the first place, held in escrow for 40 years; oh, and the story broke last January. The Justice Dept., unlike Republican congressional committees, does not conduct exploratory witch hunts. Great employment numbers and a record high stock market were seen this week. And, oh God, some guys asked the State Dept. for a little help.

Take it away, Mr. Drum:

One is from a Clinton Foundation executive asking a Hillary aide if she can set up a meeting for a big donor with someone at State. The Hillary aide says she'll see what she can do, and then blows it off. In another, a foundation executive asks for help getting someone a job. He's told that everyone already knows about the guy, and "Personnel has been sending him options." In other words, he's blown off. In yet another, it turns out that a Clinton aide spent some of her own time helping the foundation look for a new CEO.

So....what? People in Washington schmooze with people they know to help other people they know? Shocking, isn't it? 

Which brings us to myth #6, that Mrs. C. is wildly unpopular with the electorate, which, personally, I have a hard time squaring with her being found to be the most admired woman in America for 14 of the last 16 years. Polls are funny things, and you can understand how people may not find her trustworthy after breathless reports of possible malfeasance, invariably shown wanting, not to mention right-wing rumor mongering and character assassination raised to the level of received wisdom by the easy mechanics of misogyny and a compliant press.

For that is finally what this election is all about, a patriarchal political party, maddened by frustration and loss at the hands of an African American, pushes up the most extreme example of its distempered white man rage against a woman who has taken the worst it's dished out for nearly thirty years and is now, amazingly, all set to brain it with a shovel. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

A Fistful of Dolors

My father, who would be celebrating his 98th birthday this year, were he in any condition to do so, was a US Army captain during the Second World War, serving in the North African and Italian campaigns. Being fluent in the Italian language, both parents having been born in the old country, he was often called upon to speak with the civil authorities of small towns and villages under new US control as the army made its slow way up the peninsula.

"We were never fascists", was a common enough refrain from the freshly liberated, he told me. "But those people," the speakers would go on, indicating the next village over, "they were fascists."

"Yeah, sure" was dad's answer to such intelligence.

I bring up this anecdote as an antidote to the latest crop of stories from political writers straining to find something useful to say now that DT's shitshow has become boring, that tell all who'll listen that the real problem with the GOP nominee is not that he'll win, but how he's racialized and radicalized the political calculus in the nation for a generation.

Few want to be associated with failure, especially those who are not true believers in the first place. And it's a safe bet that a goodly section of DT's supporters are currently going along for the weird kicks the ride offers. A lot of them are going to hop on over to Gary Johnson by election day. I'd say over half of the remainders will deny everything after the inevitable loss. The hard-line balance, maybe 20% of his voters, will stew in their mad juices, as the inevitable toll of old age, and firearm calamities, winnows away their numbers.

And though the Gone Old Party has a stupidity and racism problem that seems likely to cost it, or whatever's left of it, a great deal of power at the federal level, the idea that a new white people's movement of newly energized voters is somehow going to pull any weight whatsoever is pointless handwringing from people who should know better.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

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

Far more interesting to me than the ongoing implosion of the DT campaign (which has--have you noticed?--succeeded in becoming boring) is the equal culture collapse ongoing at FUX News.

Now that is some interesting shiz, and has the potential to greatly change the way things are said and done in our political realm from this day forward. Though never articulated here, alas, the malign effect of the Dirty Digger's rightwing enterprise has never bothered me that much.

While carried on a ton of cable outlets (and so earned a fortune for ownership), it's viewership is fairly low, and dim. It certainly punched far above it's weight in media circles and galvanized legislative opposition. But that first effect we may now chalk-up to career fear and/or the soothing reassurance of an Old Boy's Club at the cocktail hour; and the second has, now that all has been said and done, ended up only hurting the ones who loved it the most.

We may see now that the folks at FUX preyed upon their viewers as steadily and cynically as Roger Ailes' acted against the women in his employ, as well as his perceived enemies. He was very clearly and obviously a despot, which was most of his professional appeal. Despots, though, inevitably fall, and when they do there's rarely anyone with the talent and skills waiting to take over the job. He is old and sick, and so it was just a matter of time.

That FOX News, and let us now savor all the associations connected to that lupine name, is crumbling in realtime tandem with the Gone Old Party is either a glorious coincidence or speaks to a very deep and irresistible change now underway in the national psyche. And you know me, I say it's the latter.

I think history will very soon show that Barak Obama was the rock upon which the Conservative ship was irresistibly drawn and ultimately shattered, less by what he accomplished, which seen from some perspectives has been considerable, than a kind of rectitude in everything he did, a directness and calm, that stood for a great deal, especially in the face of the stupidity and animus his opponents, nearly all white and male, could not help directing at him. He won by being cool, which is really cool.

Speaking of the dumb GOP, I can't close off without a special shout out to the inane Susan Collins, R-Maine, who gifted us the other day with her late repudiation of the DT. Recall, if you will, those heady early months of the Obama administration when the chief executive insisted everything be done to bring on some GOP senate support for the Affordable Care Act, how it was watered down and changed to accommodate the misgivings of . . . Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, also of Maine; that they had absolutely no intention, ever, of supporting any Obama legislation, but lied and drew out the process as long as they possibly could to scuttle the whole thing. And it nearly worked.

 Keep in mind too that Maine is one of the poorest states, and that Ms.'s Collins and Snowe were therefore acting in direct conflict with the needs of their constituents, all to make some damn point about power and control in Washington, and in so doing prepare the way for the Gusher of Stupid their party has drilled since for the nation, along with the later appearance of the man who has torn her dumb and dying party to shreds.

Thanks, Susan. Now bug off.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Just . . . . Wow

I was reluctant to hop back on here before the conventions as I saw no reason to amend any of the early predictions made on the election's outcome. Now for the last week, events have so far outstripped my ability to predict what's next, in scale and frequency, that posting would have been well neigh pointless.

I did not expect DT's implosion to come this fast and hard, and I was hoping to wait before unveiling my forecast that Georgia and Arizona will go for the Democrat this year. Well, too late for that, as I see this morning that a new poll from the Peach Tree State has Mrs. C. up there by four points.

You snooze, you lose, right?

Yes, the utter implosion of the stupid GOP, long anticipated in this precinct, has at last come to pass, and it is glorious. The fun part now is wondering how many pieces it has collapsed into. Lots, that's for sure. I suppose for simplicity's sake, reporters and commentators still have to refer to the Republican party as an intact entity, but it is not, and has not been since John Boehner went into forced retirement. Ted Cruz ratified that at the convention, and since then Donnie has been tearing at the remnants like a terrier with a split pillow; feathers everywhere.

A couple other bits of received wisdom that need putting down before I return to entranced bystanding. The first is that DT has uncovered a new movement in US politics, a frightening outcome that will last beyond his failed campaign. Hogwash. His followers are a confederacy of dunces, losers all, most of whom will slink off in embarrassment and shame, content for as many years as they have remaining to drink cheap booze, post dumb shit on Facebook, and yell at the TV. These are the yokels that the GOP have cultivated for decades, and they are mostly worthless for politics.

The second, an article of faith among the true believers, right and far left, is that Mrs. Clinton is a terrible campaigner who would have lost to any other dingbat the Republicans, in their entrenched hatred of her, may have nominated. I doubt very much that would have been the case, but there's no telling now. What I can say is that no one gets to be a major party candidate for president by being a lousy campaigner, and certainly not the first woman in the role.

Let me suggest that those of you accepting this last bit of pique from the losers' table are using an outdated metric of what effective campaigning looks like, one intended to keep power among a strict subset of the population. Just watch her from here on out.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

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

As of today, Nate Silver's 538 data crunching site gives the DT a one-in-five chance of making the White House, as I have already gone on record stating his chances are exactly zero, I'll posit that 1-in-5 will be 1-in-50 by early September, to 0-in-0 by election day.

We are about to be treated to the utter farce of his VP pick, certain to blow up after eight weeks of stupid controversy, and a GOP convention that will rival the worst reality shows for inane bathos, non-sequitur, and exhibitions of barely-concealed rage. This is assured.

What mainstream commentators can't quite bring themselves to grasp is that this is the effective end of the Republican Party, which has already for all intents and purposes vanished. I've read entirely serious articles that cast ahead to GOP gains in the next mid-terms, that in fact it is sitting pretty to collect all the chips midway through the next Clinton presidency.

I am here to say that this is centrist, thumbsucking hogwash. We have already witnessed the real time immolation of England's ruling cadres; with a pigheadedness from Labor's Jeremy Corbyn that makes Bernie look like Adlai Stevenson, and a breathtaking display of selfish and brain dead ambition among the chief players of the Conservative Party. I expect the centuries-old armature of the parliamentary system will preserve a measure of continuity, but it is impossible to imagine either party existing as constituted on January 1 this year.

The U.S. system offers no such grounding in tradition, or diversity of opinion under a single party banner. Not anymore anyway, and the GOP, weakened and fractious, has been easily hijacked (in fact, more like picked-up) by a scoundrel absolutely content to sacrifice it utterly to his own perverted ambitions. To think that it will bounce back from what looks to be a history-making internal disaster, and a generation-defining Progressive ascendency made possible by the Kenyan Usurper, and somehow remain a national party, is a willfully naive reading of our very great times.

Saturday, June 04, 2016


I don't think anyone much under 60 can quite imagine the effect Muhammad Ali had on his times which, second only to the Civil War, a conflict that his birth (he called it later his "slave") name invoked, were the most complex and transformative in the nation's history. The Times today, in the headline to Bob Lipsyte's beautifully-wrought obit, got it exactly right. He was a titan of the 20th century.

Yrs truly got his first boxing lessons at age ten, the same year that Ali beat Sonny Liston for the second time to become the undisputed heavyweight champion. To be an Italo-American boy growing up in western New York in the 60s was to be a fight fan, and to be a young fight fan meant falling under Ali's spell. Certainly there was no one like him, in what were the waning days of American Apartheid. His audacity, his youth, his otherworldly skills, his overwhelming beauty, probably did more to form my ideas about race, sport, and politics as I grew up, and as he matured into a truly great man, than any other public figure. I hope no one gets too angry at me for putting it this way, but Dr. King and Malcolm X, were statesmen, they needed to state their cases, present the facts, tell the truth. Ali used his body in no less powerful or subtle ways as those men used their minds and voices, while also bringing to bear a great mind and voice of his own. For about twelve intense years, Ali was the facts, he was the case, he was the truth. Best of all, he knew it, and wasn't afraid to say so, too.

To live at that time meant you did not watch Ali so much as feel him. Even in his long eclipse, when he might have otherwise added so much more to the American dialogue, you could feel his presence. Now we feel his loss. and I am sadder about that more than I can say.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Making America Grate (Agon)

Photo: Russell Lee, FSA/Library of Congress
I am not here to say that the election of Hilary Clinton will be an unalloyed blessing to the Republic. I am here to say that she is manifestly the most qualified candidate in sight, and, beyond that, the DT has ZEE-ROW chance of being elected, however the Gone Old Party now seems to be rallying, kinda, behind their new main man.

Zero, as in none, zip, une-gatz, nil. The hell of the last week has been, and will be going forward, all the outlets who for reasons small and smaller find the need to fluff the Trump candidacy as possible, Mrs. Clinton as stumbling, and the election as anything resembling close. There are many, many factors standing in the way of that loudmouth's ascension to the OO: from demographic to structural to financial to organizational, but I would like to meditate upon another: fatigue, or disappointment.

As the contest skips merrily on to the conventions and the fall campaign it seems likely to yr. obt. hmbl. svt. that a certain percentage of DT supporters, say up to five, will grow less enthusiastic about his antics which we might safely assume will remain on the same aggravating wavelength for the duration. Without variety or letup, what's entertaining at 8pm can be very tiresome by midnight; and though true believers will cling to Donnie as to their guns and senseless dreams of future success, I don't see a lot more people climbing aboard the crazy train, and a statistically significant percentage debarking at stations down the line.

I'll add before ending that the same fatigue dynamic may now be at work at the campaign of that elderly, frog-voiced scold, who seems to have lost a couple percentage points to the despise-ed one in the last week. As the shadows lengthen on Bernie's day in the sun, the cranky statements from his staff, and threats of violence in Philadelphia now from his rather more enraged supporters, can only have a dampening effect on many people otherwise sympathetic to his goals, if not exactly on board with his candidacy. He had the chance to prove his point, that his campaign would invigorate new waves of citizens to come vote for the first time for profound social and political change. That didn't happen, and now he's trying to, what, save the Democratic Party from itself? Screw'im.