Friday, December 21, 2012

Right Action

One big reason I don't write here more often is that there are estimable others far better at saying what's on my mind than I; the best of whom being Charlie Pierce who this morning puts into sharp relief what long-time readers here saw me predict years ago: that the Republicans are no longer what you might call a political party.

None of what's happened among the GOPnicki in Congress these last few weeks has surprised; and anyone claiming to be so, or is reacting with something like dismay, has willfully ignored the signals now for a very long time.

The next logical step of Republican disintegration would be the wholesale switching of party affiliation by those fifty or so GOP representatives from purple districts--the ones who will end up voting in favor of the president's proposal--whose paths to re-election would be infinitely eased by running on the Democratic ticket.

Never happen? Farfetched, you say? I've been right before.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Midnight In The Garden Of Goobers And Weasels cont.

I honestly can't say what I am enjoying more, GOP postmortems of what went wrong with the Rmoney campaign (hint, dudes: Everything), or the daily night of long knives among the TV and radio boobs as to the way forward; hint, dudes, there is none, not as you are currently constituted. The fight now is for which side gets to call itself Republican in four years and which has to come up with a new name.

Hilarious to me is the rather-more-sober and clear-minded conservative commentator calling for some soul-searching among the faithful, assuming that the souls in question are big and complex enough to make a sincere search necessary and productive of change. I believe most of the "souls" in question have all the capacity and mystery of those plastic eggs Silly Putty comes in, and the search is easily enough accomplished during Happy Hour, between Scotches two and three.

Looking back we might see that the Republican Party began to die the night in 2000 when Karl Rove won South Carolina for that squalid little man by slapping the unsuspecting John McCain with a big wet racial shit sock. Everything, my friends, devolved very naturally from there: A supremely unqualified boy-man won the nomination and, with the help of lawyers and bullies, afterward the presidency. For a while thereafter rage and racism paid big dividends, while any one with any sense (koff-koff) could see where the whole stupid project was eventually, ultimately headed.

The collapse of the Republican Party, ongoing since Hurricane Katrina, entered its final phase with Sandy. While apt symbolically, I do not credit the storm: demographic changes, the pressures wrought by the leveling nature of digital technology, arrogance, failed philosophy, and shitty candidates all combined. And by failed philosophy I don't mean the notions of Burke and Friedman the brighter GOP thinkers still like to warm themselves by, but the animating, presiding Republican fantasy of the rugged individualist making his way on his own terms in a competitive world.

Guess what? Hundreds of those RI's were utterly incapable of banding together for a common goal, namely the Rmoney campaign, and that managerial wizard, who was supposedly going to fix this country, had neither a remedy nor, apparently, a clue. That more than a few used the occasion to make some real money should be a matter of pride to those proud capitalists; somehow it is not.

This is comedy deep and wide, me hearties, playing out before our eyes, and will continue to do so for some time to come.

For now the question is which of the deep and abiding GOP fault lines will give way first: raising taxes, or allowing minorities equal status as needed and welcome partners for the party's future. Neither will hold for long and either is absolutely fatal to the party of Nixon, Buchanan, Reagan, Rove & Limbaugh. Right now my guess is that they will weasel the tax question by waiting to Jan 2 and voting the under 250k break. Actually accepting women, blacks, and hispanics as equal partners in the nation's future can't be finessed so easily. In fact, it will never happen, and complete irrelevance will settle upon them forever in a scant 24 months.


Friday, November 09, 2012

The Crass Menagerie

After the dullest presidential campaign since McKinley/Bryan our politics got fascinating overnight. The president this afternoon stood in a room full of cheering people and--in the course of his entirely reasonable remarks about the need, and his willingness, to renew the middle class tax cuts--openly and in full knowledge mischaracterized Speaker Boehner's stated position on taxes. The right honorable sap from Ohio's putatively conciliatory remarks regarding revenues in no way signaled a willingness to raise taxes on anyone, anywhere, only now he will be forced to say that in as many words, probably not today, it's Friday afternoon and it's been a long week, but soon.

And then the fun begins.

Blue Dogs was then--can the president find 26 Red House Cats? Seems unlikely now, but I wonder . . .

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Lost, 'Cause

A couple of my gaudy predictions were wrong last night, but not by that much. It's clear that what the GOP cannot gerrymander, they have little hope of holding onto for very much longer, and while the prez didn't gain my expected 52% of the pop, he finished, at this writing, up two points in that column over his rival, the first Democratic chief executive since FDR to twice win election with over 50% of the vote. He crushed it in the electoral college, for reasons I've been nattering on about for years here at H&J: toxic GOP policies, a changing electorate, and brainless, horrible Repub standard bearers.

And for all the recriminations which now runneth over at the GOP, and honest evaluations about brand and outreach by some of their more sensible actors and commenters, the notion that those people as a group will start behaving in a grown-up and responsible way, that they will begin to let go of losing social issues and connect in real ways with minorities, is utterly laughable on its face.

Let me put it clearly: True Believers NEVER change their minds, EVER. To do so calls their very being into question in stark existential terms--an infantile sense of terror and sovereign loss in the presence of the despised other which drove them into right-wing, reactionary, programatic politics in the first place. To give up their beliefs is Death, and they will die before they do so, which is fine by me.

This is not to say that there won't be an attempt at some philosophical reevaluation in the Grand Old Brand by those hoping to move the party forward, but it will be screamed at and cursed by the above mentioned and come to squat. There are a lot of the above mentioned; they have been coddled and deferred to for the better part of 30 years, and what's more a few of them still have bags and bags of money, even after that blizzard of spending was rendered naught yesterday. No, the above mentioned are more than willing to give Taking Back America one more glorious try, and mean it this time, and woe to those who get in the way.

To which I say: fuck yeah, go nuts, dudes. The Republicans in the House of Representatives are going to be a goddam freakshow for the next two years, as fascinating to watch as an ant farm, and as consequential as a Shriners convention. The nation's work will be done in spite of them however, and the real end will come in two years' time when the states which re-elected Barack Obama send most of their GOP representatives, raging still for their long-lost causes, back to their forlorn suburbs and dingy little towns.


Monday, November 05, 2012

Reality? Check.

Let's sum up: A minority party with long-standing trouble winning national elections nominates a wretched campaigner, quietly despised by a good portion of its base, who, when not dissembling in public, offers nothing beyond the mean assumptions and bitter nostrums which so sapped the nation in the administration of the previous president, a squalid little man who remains as unpopular today as the day he left office.

That furthermore this electoral project--less a political party than a consortium of rich and furious patsies, gulled out of millions by professional marketers, lobbyists, and consultants--threw to the wind any notion of outreach and appeal to voters somewhat outside the significant-but-ever-shrinking demographic of angry, aging white men; and, to reinforce this point, peopled many of its downticket races for legislative seats in DC with dead-faced, harsh, and clueless jerks, mostly male, who seemed to take special pride in lecturing or hectoring their rather-less-powerful fellow citizens.

Let's add to that a peculiar unwillingness to listen to anyone but themselves, and believe nothing outside of what they themselves think, less an unwillingness to face reality than the notion that reality, at least as traditionally understood in the west since the Age of Enlightenment, doesn't exactly exist.

Really, is it too late to double-down on my prediction of a Democratic landslide? While my conviction was shaken somewhat by the prez's listless and diffident performance in the first debate, which seemed to fit all too neatly perceptions of his deference to the moods of the opposition during the first term, Mitt is just too bad at campaigning, and the map too broad for him to move, for me ever to worry about him winning. Yes, hindsight now, but the broad issues were always proven competence and likability, and my sense that climate fears would play a part in people's deliberations seems to have paid off at the $50 window.

What can I say? I'm in a funny mood. Far from boosting unduly the hopes of Democrats, news reporting and poll results, it seems to me, have been propping up a septic GOP brand all season. After all, an enormous media apparatus, fueled by a hurricane of cash, needed to keep everyone occupied and employed, and so they have. Let me go out on a limb: The president gets more than 52% of the popular vote, wins the electoral college decisively (his estimated total there at this writing is 303), the senate stays blue (no surprise there now) and the house flips. No one is predicting the last, but no one knows for certain because of generally spotty and poor polling of those races, so those in the biz play it safe by calling a draw. Yr. obdt. svt. has nothing to lose for being wrong here. When all the votes are counted and the lawsuits swept away (which may take a while) I say the house goes Blue.

That the modern GOP can appeal to even 40% of the electorate to me points to a certain poverty of spirit which infects the nation at large. Rage and its compensating fantasies are not limited to conservatives by any means; the impulse to belittle and dismiss infects the left as well as the right. However the best impulses of Americans: of tolerance, care for others in crisis, an appreciation of better information and new ideas, the granting of freedoms where they were once withheld, that fundamental overall practicality which is the finest legacy of our former frontier society has always counted for more than the equally-ingrained old impulses of selfishness, paternalism, and, yes, racism. I believe the electoral choices are pretty clear and the broad outcome will not be close.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Midnight In The Garden Of Goobers And Weasels, cont.

Last January, in yet another post detailing the implosion of the GOP, I wrote that if there were to be an Obama landslide it would be clear by June (scroll down to see, it isn't that far). Okay, so I missed by three months. And though even those cautious observers professionally dedicated to the too-close-to-call narrative are now accepting the fact that Mitt's toast, none have gotten around to voicing the L word. Let me go out on a limb: I do believe fallout from R-money's 47% presentation, a peek behind the scenes made possible by digital technology, have made a historic Republican loss all the more likely.

That others, especially those on the righter part of the GOP, started voicing what I've been honking for years, that the party will be blown to angry bits should their standard bearer lose to the black guy, does provide some smug satisfaction. Let me suggest however that the jerks will lose not because Willard is a wretched campaigner, which he is, promoting a series of unpopular ideas, which they are, but because the party imploded over two years ago, and that his very presence at the top of the ticket, as the only tolerable candidate for an organization in the absolute thrall of an incoherent melange of mean, puissant ideals, religious manias, and cold cash, is a signal sign of the Great Collapse.

Put another way: Rich White Guys Fuck Up. Again.

Right now the commentariot are taking a wait-and-see attitude whether Mitty's boneheaded framing of the electorate, the latest in a series of political screw-ups rivaling those of the McCain campaign (which is saying something), will cost him much in the polls. I'm guessing a solid two points, and Florida and Colorado. The red meat losses will be down ticket, as every Republican with the ill luck to run for national office this season will be asked exactly their position on what appears to be a sincere article of faith among the believers.

Four years ago I was inclined to give the president a higher mark as a politician. Though his skills are pretty good, especially in smaller crowds, they are not at the true master level of Lincoln, FDR, LBJ (who really was his own special case), and Clinton (whose full genius was on vivid display in his nominating address). What makes BHO worthy to stand with those giants is his preternatural strategic instinct, and an unerring sense of the long-term goal. That he's smart and compassionate, if lacking a certain warmth, is also a big help. Get this straight: Obama is not lucky; he maneuvers until the opposition has to defend the indefensible, and then he wins.

UPDATE: As I was composing the above this interesting report was posted at TPM.

Friday, August 03, 2012

In The Good Old Simmertime

Hey, peeps, just dropping by to say I'm doing fine, thanks; I think about you a lot and am sorry we don't get together more often. It's not you, it's me.

That said, it's been on my mind for some time now to revisit certain predictions made here which, if indeed coming true, are not unfolding in ways I quite foresaw. No, not the prediction of an Obama landslide, which I believe is still very much in the cards, or the dick-stepping wretchedness of the Rmoney candidacy, which anyone with a brain not hooked up to GOP money nozzles, would have seen no later than two months ago.

No, some four years ago I predicted that once the failure of the Republican project became widely understood, that its supporters and enablers in the corporate press would begin to forsake it en masse. So here let me say I was insensitive to the needs of the corporate press to skew the game so abjectly in pursuit of its desires, which is mainly money and ratings, followed a close second by the urge to be seen as relevant, and a diehard commitment to the established corporate order which made this country what it is today. Like, wow.

Fear, the pack mentality, and hatred of the other animates the corporate media as vividly as the same feelings work on the GOP; granted, their targets do not overlap, which induces rage in most rad conservative circles. For the press, the other is mainly found in alternative reporting and document dumps online; for the GOP the others are the reliable minority standbys. But the two org.s dance under the same rotten stars and understand each other intimately.

So, yeah, the press was happy to attend the whole Tea Party party, and pretend that Republican legislative obstruction was just both-sides-are-at-it business as usual, up until fairly recently. You really have to wonder now that Mitt's astonishingly inept campaign--the obvious gaffes, irreconcilable financial details, and endemic lack of any policy specifics--coupled with our unfolding, and predicted, climate diaster, the ascent of radical-right populist yayhoos bound to appeal to about 20% of the population, and a certain spring in the step of Democrats, has got to have the suck-up press looking to suck-up from the other side now.

We shall see.

Of course, the rather more backward areas of the nation will recede as fast as they can for another cycle. That is, red will become redder. But with no standard bearer worth paying attention to, the GOP is now hitting its second national election in a row with a miserable candidate, placed at the top of the ticket only because the now-well-imploded party could not agree on anyone else. Let this sink in: the GOP stopped functioning on a national level two years ago, neither passing legislation since nor offering a broadly attractive candidate for president now. It is screaming at itself and telling the rest of us to fuck off, and a lot more people are beginning to notice.


Sunday, July 01, 2012

Weather Overground

Way back three months ago (but just two posts here--so see below) I wrote:

I will add in closing the great unacknowledged issue that bids well to loom large as the summer rolls on and the likelihood of a Democratic landslide begins to form, and that is the nature of our beautiful and for spacious skies, and what strange and brutal weather comes crashing down on a frightened populace. For the nation has absorbed talk of climate change now for the better part of a generation; the deniers found a happy home in the Republican party and used it to belittle and frustrate all opposed in think tanks, on call-in shows, and in congress. Well, last month, being March, people in Chicago started mowing their lush lawns, there was a ten-day string of beautiful 80-degree days, and monster storms now spend our summers tearing the shit out of red states down south.


I may have been wrong about a couple things in my occasional surveys here of our political landscape, but not about this. Our fabled Sunbelt States, so reliant on air conditioning, so over-built on fragile and tenuous ecosystems, so chock-a-block with honking-mad conservatives who consider mountain views and mild winters god-sanctioned proof of their more perfect understanding of low-tax, high-carbon, rugged individualism--those Sunbelt States, I say, have been taking it on the effing chin, climate-wise, since, oh, Katrina made much of the Gulf Coast uninhabitable six years ago.

I am churlish enough to take some mordant satisfaction in Red State climate disasters, only because it was so predictable; the voter-sanctioned opposition of their officials to any sensible remedy over the years was so lavishly dumb, the wholesale acceptance of climate-denial as an article of faith was so colossally ignorant, that the ongoing introduction of the reality principle to their stupid worldview has the dimensions of a broad and deserved moral corrective worthy of their own inane concept of a stern Sky God.

Recent polling has shown that people are beginning to get the idea that, gee, you know, maybe there is something to this climate change business. This, of course, is more bad news for the Party of Money, Anger, and Denial. Add-in the glorious business of arch conservatives demanding federal help in fighting the fires threatening their mcmansions, and cleaning up the ruined energy grid (and am I alone in expecting a presidential jobs initiative shortly to address this very pressing issue?) and we have one more big, fat example of our politics rubbing up against the real world after deftly avoiding it since the inauguration. As stated: catnip to the likes of me.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Simmertime

So! How's everyone been keeping themselves? Me, I've been busy with lots of things, social, literary, and practical, since last we convened. Mainly though I've been bored with our politics, with an apparently listless incumbent sleepwalking to a win in November, his unlikeable and mendacious opponent whom--let us keep in mind--people like less the more they hear from him; a press corps in renal failure, unwilling or incapable of parsing the simplest issues of the day; and what promised to be an utterly politicized high court, apparently bent on creating as much ill will and social disorder outside its doors with a single ruling as possible.

How things can change in a day, right?

This got me thinking that politics, if all it rubs against is more politics, is stupefyingly dull. The prospect of a abjectly political Supreme Court was more deadening than maddening, the boredom that comes with every dumb regime doing its damndest to preserve its preferred fantasies.

Politics only gets interesting when it fetches up against reality, like wars, and recessions, or the health and welfare of millions of citizens. Outcomes are unknown, sparks fly, people step up and do interesting things, there are unlikely heros. It is a proven point that GOP actors hate, Hate the idea of reality, and rather love the notion of being able to create their own. Instead, ladies and gents, I give you Chief Justice Roberts.

I have absolutely no doubt that Roberts got one look at the short-sighted, bitter, and faintly nuts reasoning offered up by his conservo colleagues, the mayhem it was bound to unleash and decided to take his job rather more seriously than did nearly every other Republican on Capitol Hill.

I hope the rabid howling his unanticipated bout of cautious wisdom has unleashed, one which will not go away soon, rather clarifies John Roberts' thinking going forward as to where prudence, clarity, and justice might in fact reside, which is neither in the ideas nor spirits of those who once swore they were his friends. I do believe the real education of Justice Roberts has begun, and it will be interesting to follow its progress.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

I Told You. So?

Greetings to all five of you, just dropped in to observe that even the MSM is getting the feeling that this presidential contest is over before it starts. Yes, there are always Unforeseen Events, and TV stations need to suction up their tens of millions in ad dollars, so some kind of contest will be flogged by those who really have nothing better to do with their lives. The rest of us will smirk, or scowl, and carry on.

Right now the favorite nostrum of the level-headed poli-sci set--mainly smart and decent people looking to make more sense out of the system than most connected to it--is that everyone will accept Rmoney's (is that the greatest anagram, or what?) "pivot" center-wise, and that all those Republicans who hate him (quite a tidy subset of that minority party) hate BHO even more and will turnout for the red team.

Let me say here, I doubt this; a lot.

Nothing in the last eighteen months has shown me that the soreheads in question are either reasonable, or realistic. In fact the whole angry on-a-mission-from-god trip so enthralls the suburban warriors, who lack anything else more meaningful in their lives outside the grandkids and chronic illnesses, that I believe the movement, goaded so by the fooks at FUX News, has sprung far from the general needs of a political party.

Then, every so often, a big beat writer remembers that, hey, y'know, that Obama guy is a pretty good campaigner. Many stories have already been filed to the effect that Rmoney not only isn't, but apparently doesn't want to be (okay, that last part was my gloss.)

I'll skip lightly over policy and issues: the ambivalent but steady recovery, the birth control genie, the budget, Obamacare and smug hostile judges, only to observe that even in those areas where the deal has not exactly favored the president, the GOP holds no winning cards at all.

I will add in closing the great unacknowledged issue that bids well to loom large as the summer rolls on and the likelihood of a Democratic landslide begins to form, and that is the nature of our beautiful and for spacious skies, and what strange and brutal weather comes crashing down on a frightened populace. For the nation has absorbed talk of climate change now for the better part of a generation; the deniers found a happy home in the Republican party and used it to belittle and frustrate all opposed in think tanks, on call-in shows, and in congress. Well, last month, being March, people in Chicago started mowing their lush lawns, there was a ten-day string of beautiful 80-degree days, and monster storms now spend our summers tearing the shit out of red states down south.

Yeah, the climate is changing so quickly that even the apes can't ignore it, and there are plenty of people all over the US ready to taunt their conservative relatives and friends with some fat See?-I-told-you-so's. This is one more big thing the GOP got wrong and, unlike the Social Security revamp, it dwells not in the policy halls of a distant capitol, but around us, everywhere, all the time. Masses are moved only by large forces, and whether the MSM realizes it or not, weird and fearsome weather, tearing up cheaply-made housing in one sunbelt suburb after another, may be the biggest force the election year has in store.

Friday, February 10, 2012

More Catnip For The Likes Of Me . . .

Ha-ha.

At this point, the GOP looks more like a collection of warring tribes than a cohesive political force. Fiscal conservatives don't have much use for social conservatives. Libertarians and moderates don't get along with either camp. "We are factionalized now as a party," lamented Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.). "We have to come together."

Read the whole thing.

Like I've been saying, sooner or later it will dawn on the commentariot that the GOP just really isn't a political party anymore.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Midnight In The Garden Of Goobers And Weasels cont.

Maybe if I try this every other week or so, specially if I feel vindicated; like now.

Maybe, maybe it's beginning to dawn on my colleges in blogolia that the GOP really isn't a party anymore; and that the only, only thing those soldiers for themselves agree on is no new taxes for ever and ever. When that goes, and that might be soon, then it's Katy-bar-the-door.

And tell you what: The Dems are ripe for splitting too--albeit in generally saner and needful directions. Now, that will be interesting . . .

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Grand Old Parody

Things have been quiescent here for any number of reasons, most of them good. Top of the list has been an ingrained reluctance to add, however slightly, to the yammering circus of our commentariot. Long have I held that the GOP is doomed as a national party and that Barack Obama will be easily reelected. Recent events have only made this clear to even your run-of-the-mill reporter.

Frankly, I expected the Repub implosion would come via its elected representatives in Congress, stupid, angry, and disloyal, breaking things in such a heedless way that sane members of the caucus would by necessity have to drift over to the Democratic side on a few big votes for the good of their careers, districts, and the Republic. GOP leadership avoided such awful optics with the help of our brain-dead press and a Democratic establishment tossing lifelines and conceding issues here and there, while taking markers, if only with the electorate, for later.

(And I think last night's State of the Union address neatly outlined the areas of payback to come.)

What I was NOT expecting was this real time, and exquisitely expensive, parade of jackasses, ding-dongs, and stuntmen all fighting to be standard bearer for a load of ideas--at least those not cribbed directly from the Occupy folks--that have become more inane and toxic with every recitation. These people, with the seriousness of seminarians, mock electability with loud, self-satisfied voices. Their reward will be in little corners of right-wing heaven, which is a small and greasy place nowhere near the November polls. I'm not calling a Democratic landslide just yet, but if one is on the way, it will be clear by June.