Thursday, August 25, 2016

Trump Is Coming To Town

Well, well, Trump is coming to town tomorrow night. It's already sold out so I won’t get to hear him speak, but I’ll go see if there are any protests going on outside. If anything interesting happens I'll snap some photos and give you the lowdown (I doubt it, but I'll go check it out anyway).

Friday, August 19, 2016

Obama Rethinks America’s Capabilities

Obama realizes he overestimated the American people and has readjusted his priorities accordingly.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Just Go Away, Donald

I read the most boring headline today: “Trump’s Comment Sparks Outrage.” Yawn. Another day, another ridiculous Trump comment. At what point do we cease to be outraged by this buffoon? At what point does he suffer the fate of all reality TV stars -obscurity. I'm thoroughly sick of Trump and all of his bullshit. He’s a tiresome boor and I just want him to go away. He’s become less interesting than the Olympics, which is saying a lot.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Vote For The Crook, Not For The Fascist!

Bob Morris directs our attention to the 2002 French election, which pitted corrupt establishment politico Jacques Chirac against right wing horror Jean-Marie La Pen. They circled the wagons and supported Chirac. A popular slogan at the time was “Vote for the crook, not for the fascist.”

As uninspiring as it is, we have to vote for the crook, not for the fascist. It’s our only move. Hillary is awful in more ways than I can count, but Trump is a spoiled twelve year old boy who must never be given power, ever.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Kopkind on Clinton Culture

Andrew Kopkind nailed the essence of Clintonism way back in 1992, when it was brand new under the American sun, sort of. Reading this filled me with deja vu and deja entendu, malaise and despair. Nothing has changed.
It’s difficult to convey the feel of the Clinton culture. Like the Kennedy culture thirty years ago, it is a stir-fry of blatant self-promotion, unexamined idealism, cynical sophistication, suspect intellectual certainty and an arrogant race and class snobbery that can be oppressive to those without the necessary credentials. It comes off as hip and liberal, but it panders to the right and abhors any person or movement to its left. It is suffused with a gestural sentimentality about racial harmony, but its commitment is to white power and privilege.
And it is “ever-willing” he continues, to sell out any principle for the sake of achieving “political viability within the system.”

And here we are, forced to choose between these calculating yuppy slicksters and Donald Trump. What a world. Does this rise to the level of a crisis of democracy yet, or are we to take this as politics as usual in a country that’s become thoroughly corrupt and mediocre?

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Attacking Trump’s Racism Is Not Enough

Last week’s pep rally was a big success. It showed that the Democrats are fundamentally decent people who won’t blow up the world or throw Muslims into concentration camps, and they did a fine job highlighting the contrast between themselves and the bigoted cave trolls in the Republican party. This is a good thing and Hillary’s surrogates should continue to do it.

But we already knew all of this. We already knew that Democrats aren’t racist and won’t mock the disabled. We already knew they’re nicer people, listen to better music and are more fun to be around than Republicans. And we already knew that Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine are, in contradistinction to Donald Trump, sane, level-headed professionals who won’t rock the boat and spook the markets. Believe me, we know this. We know this all too well. It is as familiar to us as that first stabbing pain in the bowel that unmistakably signals an attack of diarrhea. But it won’t be enough.

“We’re nice people and Donald Trump is an evil racist” just won’t get the job done.  After the warm and fuzzies from last week’s multicultural love fest wear off, we’re left with the unsettling fact that Republicans control Congress and a majority of state houses, and they’ll probably continue to do so after the election. The ugly truth is that the racist, xenophobic, fear-mongering, Bible-thumping, modernity-hating, knuckle-dragging troglodytes who goose step in Trump’s torchlight parades are, as far as the election goes, half the country. Demonizing Trump while offering nothing but business-as-usual is a woefully deficient strategy.

Frank Bruni discusses this problem today, and mentions some interesting poll results:
In a Gallup poll two weeks ago, just 17 percent of respondents said that the country was on the right track, while 82 percent said it was on the wrong track. In an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shortly before that, the corresponding figures were 18 percent and 73 percent.
A poll is a poll is a poll, it’s true, but I think these results accurately reflect the mood of the country. Things are not good and they’re going to get worse. I bring this up, yet again, because it’s exactly the kind of thing that the smug neoliberals in Hillary’s pampered inner circle will completely misunderstand or ignore. They’ll view it as a mere messaging problem and combat it with spin, double-talk, and statistics. They won’t acknowledge the reality of the problem or address it in a substantive way.

My hunch is that there are a lot of closet Trump supporters out there, a lot. I think there are a great many people who won’t admit in polite society that they support him but will, in the secrecy of the voting booth, pull the lever for him just to shout “Fuck you” to an establishment that is so corrupt, so unresponsive, so utterly worm-eaten and foul, that they’re willing to watch Trump dynamite it all to hell regardless of the consequences. These people aren’t going to be reached by calling Trump a racist meanie.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

If Clinton Loses, It Won’t Be Sanders’ Fault

I’ve been worried that if Clinton loses the general election her supporters would have a ready made scapegoat: the Bernie Bros. This meme has been transparently taking shape throughout the primaries, and I thought it reflected the deep and well-earned insecurities of the Clinton campaign. The primaries weren’t even half over and you could already see Bernie being set up to be the new Nader.

This would conveniently shift blame from the nominees own gargantuan flaws and give the Dems an excuse to move even further right, which is what they want anyway: See, progressives always cost us the general election. America is a center-right country!

(Don’t let last night’s Potemkin populism fool you. The “most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic party” will be luxuriously shat upon and rejected bell, book and candle the second Hillary Clinton is sworn in. The Clintons simply do not agree with it. It is not who they are.)

Anyway, somebody phone up the DNC with the latest: Ninety-percent of “consistent” Sanders supporters “favor Clinton over Trump.” It’s all hers to lose from now on, and I’ve no doubt her insular, lead-footed political team will find plenty of ways to do so between now and November.

Of course, if Clinton loses we’ll have much more important things to do than bicker over who was to blame, like scrambling to find which countries will accept a flood of desperate American refugees (as opposed to those who are simply going to slam their doors in our faces and throw a great big schadenfreude party.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Krugman Takes A Jog Through Versailles

Paul Krugman took a jog through the Upper West Side and concluded America’s just peachy again:
If you want to feel good about the state of America, you could do a lot worse than what I did this morning: take a run in Riverside Park. There are people of all ages, and, yes, all races exercising, strolling hand in hand, playing with their dogs, kicking soccer balls and throwing Frisbees. There are a few homeless people, but the overall atmosphere is friendly – New Yorkers tend to be rushed, but they’re not nasty – and, well, nice.

Yes, the Upper West Side is affluent. But still, I’ve seen New York over the decades, and it has never been as pleasant, as safe in feel, as it is now. And this is the big bad city! 
He took a jog through a rich part of Manhattan and it was, well, nice! There were happy couples holding hands and strolling in leafy glades, and people playing Frisbee and soccer. Some of these people were even brown, and yet they didn’t mug or assault a rich white academic as he was out getting his cardio!

There were a few homeless people, to be sure, but not enough to change the overall picture. You might say they were statistically insignificant and hence easy to disregard. Of course, economists make a living disregarding variables that don’t fit their models. That’s how they win Nobel Prizes and earn enough money to live on the Upper West Side, where they can deplore the evils of inequality without ever having to actually smell a poor person.

But there is a problem. If things are so good, why do so many people think they’re terrible? Why do so many people drink Trump’s Kool-Aid and agree with his dark description of America? The professor gives us his answer:
A lot of Republican-leaning voters apparently believe that the economy is terrible in the teeth of their own experience – that the pretty good job market they see is a local aberration. And “crime” may not really mean “crime” – it may just be code for “brown people.”
In other words, they’re just dumb racists who don’t know how good they’ve got it. They are willfully ignoring good economic news —presumably all those new jobs at Wal-Mart — and insisting things are rotten in the teeth of their own experience. Thus saith the rich man to the proles.

I think it’s true that many, if not most, of Trump’s supporters are ignorant racists, but Trump’s appeal goes much deeper than that. Many of these people are driven to racism and xenophobia because of genuine economic despair. Krugman does not acknowledge this. Instead, he paints a misleadingly rosy picture of the economy that enables him to ignore their legitimate grievances and characterize them as mere bigots.

It’s impossible not to notice that this is the same tactic Krugman used against Sanders and his supporters. Sanders — a demagogic narcissist by definition — pitched a falsely dystopian view of the American economy that his followers mindlessly lapped up, because all of his followers were, as all the grown-ups knew, just dupes, fanatics and possibly sexist “Bernie Bros.”

This condescending dismissal of people with real problems and legitimate complaints will lead to electoral defeat. If policy makers and influential thinkers maintain this attitude in the face of growing discontent it will lead to much worse.

Krugman was one of the few bright lights during the Bush dark age, and it’s disheartening to see an intellectual of his stature stoop to this kind of partisan hackery. More importantly, he’s displaying precisely the kind of elitist liberal arrogance that bolsters Trump’s appeal (and will also drive independents away from Hillary). When influential public intellectuals engage in this kind behavior, it lends credence to the notion that our elites are corrupt, dishonest, and completely out-of-touch.

Stop telling part-time Walmart workers with no prospects for a better life that the economy is pretty good and they have nothing to be angry about. Stop telling retail clerks and baristas who pay more than two-thirds of their income toward rent and student loans that they should be doing cartwheels because the unemployment rate dropped one percent. Stop pissing statistics down people’s backs and calling it rain!

But if you must, don’t do it from the Upper West Side, for God’s sake. Are you bloody daft, man? This is let them eat cake territory. This is an attitude that will catapult Donald Trump straight into the White House.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Adoring Waste of Souls

Here’s a poem by James Joyce, just for the hell of it:

Gaunt in gloom,
The pale stars their torches,
Enshrouded, wave.
Ghostfires from heaven's far verges faint illume,
Arches on soaring arches,
Night's sindark nave.

The lost hosts awaken
To service till
In moonless gloom each lapses muted, dim,
Raised when she has and shaken
Her thurible.

And long and loud,
To night's nave upsoaring,
A starknell tolls
As the bleak incense surges, cloud on cloud,
Voidward from the adoring
Waste of souls.

Pointless Observation

Donald Trump is the only thing on planet earth that makes Hillary Clinton look good.