Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Crash and Carry

The great thing about blogging once every so often, is that the few points I feel obligated to make are easy to recall, and point to. Only last time did I reiterate my observation-long-standing about the friability of the good old GOP.

Martin Longman sees the same thing I do.

In truth, the Booman has been riding the same hobby horse for a while. He had an absolutely brill exegesis on the subject a few months ago, and I had every intention of posting it among us here, but did not.

Another thing I like to repeat is my notion that the collapse of the GOP is reflective of a wider and ongoing culture collapse, which is hard to see because it is happening everywhere. Not to be snide: but exactly how much of the avalanche does one notice when rolling around inside it?

Difficult to see until recently, however, when a large actuarial review found a climbing death rate among white Americans, one steep enough in the middle age cohort--the one where you will find me--driven by bumper issues of suicide, drug overdose, and alcohol-related pathologies.

There has been a lot of to-and-fro about the data and methodology of the initial finding (see also  Kevin Drum's reply to Josh Marshall's recent attempt at wading into the electoral/cultural meaning of it all), but the numbers are pretty plain. White folks are offing themselves at pronounced rates for mainly existential causes.

Marshall makes some good points about healthcare access, poverty, and unemployment. He tends to soft sell the subject of anomie, which is where I'd like to plant my flag for a bit.

There are consequences to junk culture: bad food, violent and/or shallow entertainment, a blond and muscular Christianity, an under-education in history, science, the broader world of complex and subtle ideas; all of which contribute--or are maybe molded by--the politics of resentment and rage we are presented with daily on TV and the intertubes.

I'm not saying everyone has to be their own philosopher, only that attitudes of curiosity, compassion, and judgement are sorely missing from a lot of the content of our zesty media culture, mainly because such attitudes complicate the selling of stuff. This lack of nourishment on nearly every level has clearly taken its toll.

This is why gerrymandered districts (and I live in one of the nation's worst, the Illinois 4th, protectorate of Luis Gutierrez, D.IL), while disgraceful, do not bother me greatly. People move away. People die. And the people who matter the most to the imploding GOP are dying in remarkably big numbers.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Reality? Check.

A few days ago Josh Marshall at TPM took a small dig at those of us (and here I would like to consider myself one of the first) who say the GOP is imploding. To wit:

It's hard to see how much they can really be 'imploding' in any meaningful sense when they'll almost certainly retain the House next year, have a decent chance at holding onto the Senate and can by no means be counted out to win the presidency.

To which I answer that the election will only certify the utter brokenness of the old party of Eisenhower. Because it can most certainly be counted out to win the presidency, the chances of it holding the senate are hovering around nil, and the house might be a 50-50 proposition and out of the grip of those hooligans in '18.

I state this with such confidence because of an innate respect I have for my fellow citizens, something largely missing from the cynically cautious press, who know shit when they encounter it. Mrs. Clinton, much to the surprise of the conventional wisdomers, is doing just fine, thanks, while the whole Democratic card mainly resembles a family working out plans for a big wedding; not, like the other side, a pack of teenage psychopaths fighting over heroin turf in Naples.

Nay-O. Hil is going to trounce whichever one of those clowns is put up against her, just as B.H. Obama would if allowed another go. The notion, apparently sustaining the whole GOP election machine, along with the MSM, is that the nation is dearly tired of Obama, and that anyone they put up will cruise (ha-ha) to victory. This is, of course, delusional. 

As for the Senate and House: in the first they are defending too many seats in statewide contests, in purple states, after a long season of the party bigshots bashing every constituency that is not white and male. Granted, the Dems need to field good candidates, something they can be bad at doing, but I'm assuming they will do a decent job. Demographics will handle the rest.

As for the House, well, the districts may be fixed, but people die, and people move away, and people even sometimes get sick of those they once thought highly of. Nothing the House GOP is doing, or will do in the next year, is going to change the general air of angry, stupid incompetence drifting from the chamber, and they have nowhere to go but down.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Midnight in the Garden of Goobers and Weasels cont.

I will note just for the record now of the fall of Speaker Boehner, announced this morning and go out on a limb to call it the official end of the Republican Party as a vehicle of national governance. Done and dusted.

But what I wanted to write about today is another thing I've been considering these two years away from here; that the election of Barak Obama did not so much open a door, my feeling at the time, as turn over a rock, exposing God's own number of revolting, fascinating creatures.

So much of what had been implicit in our social and political lives was suddenly under the light of events, and while the results, the brassy, assertive racism of so many affronted individuals being no longer dignified by tacit silence, have not been pretty, and only mildly edifying, they have been needful. The boil, to switch metaphors, has been lanced and the infection, believe it or not, is certain to be greatly reduced. In the meantime: Yik.

This is why I don't get angry, or especially upset at the latest rightest outrage, for the simple matter that they are rapidly going away, and they know it. Fifteen years ago Republicans got the president they wanted, the congress they wanted, the tax cuts and the war they wanted, and it all went to utter shit. So badly, in fact, that their fellow citizens were pleased to send to the White House a junior senator who may not have been, no was NOT, an American at all; a man who won re-election by cheating, and who has mainly had his way over their stupid agenda and dim schemes ever since. This knowledge has driven the less reasonable of them, something approaching 40% of their number, barking mad.

And while my prediction of the demise of the GOP has always been based on McLuhan's judgement of how new media can wreck hierarchical organizations, which has certainly come to pass--the combined action of leaked emails, ill-considered twitter remarks, and cell phone videos--I've lately come to thinking that their ship of fools was first and foremost broken on the rock of B.H. Obama, a steadfast, tireless, engaged, and always present executive whom they could not frighten, cajole, nor defeat. It was all too much. Every assumption they have made over the last 15 years has been proved to be deeply wrong, and the fatal consequences of that are pending closely.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Wards to Live By

The whole astonishing thing, to me anyway, is how certain politicians ever got the reputation for being smart when it is clear from their many pictures just how dim the wattage behind the eyes really is.

The case today is Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus of C.P. Pierce's indelible phrasing. Whatever it took to prevail in Wisconsin politics, brain power was not part of it. The problem is that to reach and last on the national level, a certain generosity in the smarts department is crucial and, man, SW, like Rick Perry and Eric Cantor, the putative Brainiacs before him, did not have the goods.

You know who else looks dim? Marco Rubio. Just something about the eyes appears unengaged, timid and wary, as if he's afraid someone is going to ask a question he can't begin to understand. So I suspect we'll see his cards tossed back sooner rather than later. (Yes, I know how he's being hepped now more than ever, but my prediction holds).

It dawned on me a few weeks ago when thinking about this whole ridiculous, albeit entertaining mess the Republicans have gotten themselves into, that the candidate with fewest internal contradictions generally wins the big elections. This is not necessarily a good thing. That squalid little man had an almost pathological lack of internal conflicts, which led to oceans of loss at home and abroad.

However, too many internal conflicts lead to bumper crops of stupid remarks, ill-considered opinions and poor decision making. What were Walker's fatal internal flaws? Mainly a resentment that he needed to make himself understood by anyone besides Packer fans, that Republicans who had been his buddies for the last four years were now out to shank him, that he is a career politician who somehow believed that that is not the case, that he felt himself much to be smarter than he manifestly is.

That un-conflicted, squalid little man, knew exactly when to let the smart guys run things for him while he slept, or golfed, or generally swaggered around. His mistake was choosing and sticking with the wrong smart guys. But a lack of emotional intelligence, that sense telling you something somehow is not going as needed and requires adjustment, is a broad cultural flaw endemic to Republicans. So, fuck 'em.

We can come back to this later if you like, a rundown of the field in a few weeks. But I'd say that the candidate with the fewest internal conflicts, in either party, is H. R. Clinton. I'm not crazy about her personally, but I like her chances, and she will do.

Monday, September 21, 2015


Has it really been almost two years? I guess it has. No apologies at this end. Honestly, I got tired of the arch tone I inevitably fell into writing these things, and the idea of writing for nothing free began to bite. I mean, it's one thing to do so on a brand new platform, with a liberating sense of possibility, and quite a damn other to see how the pay for, and quality of, writing in general became debased so quickly by the process.

Inspiration to return and unlimber a bit has come from the entrancing sight of the GOP implosion, long predicted here, now in full bash. Though feeling its approach (and in fact expecting it a while ago), I could never have predicted what it would look like. But here it is, and it is glorious.

Where I was really wrong was in how long the press would presume to report Republican policies and personalities as anything other than a variety of zoo inmates feeding regularly on gorgeous nonsense. I figured the Fourth Estate would turn once it became clear that the beasts in question had no clue about how power actually worked in DC, as opposed to on TV. But TV, it turns out, always defines what's on TV (This is not the tautology it appears), and it so happens that the party of Lincoln, Roosevelt (T), and Eisenhower, (and Nixon and that squalid little man), is far more valuable as an entertainment package than a necessary, if aggravating, counterweight for the Republic's political system.

Or, put another way, an entertainment package is now considered a useful replacement for the former political entity. Oh, well. They have no one to blame but themselves. What amazes me though is, given the popular nature of our national elections, how the entire GOP field of players runs the emotional gamut from bland to openly dislikable. There isn't a warm and cheerful cove in the pack of 'em; or maybe what passes for pleasant in the fields of conservatism strikes the rest of us as exercised, bitter, and unhinged.