Category Archives: Elections

Awkward Dinner Conversations

Two things. The first is this thread, which will teach you more about what’s really at the heart of Trump’s support than a thousand New York anthropological examinations of Midwestern noble savages ever could:

The second is St. John McCain, pretending once again to be above the process he is in up to his neck, scolding his colleagues as if he could do nothing that would influence their actions:

McCain bemoaned the tone of modern politics, suggesting that wild partisanship was paralyzing the country’s political institutions and tearing the country apart.
“Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and the television and the Internet. To hell with them. They don’t want anything done for the public good — our incapacity is their livelihood. Let’s trust each other. Let’s return to regular order.”

And that’s really the heart of it all. Shit had gotten awkward at dinner, for John McCain and for a lot of the wealthier supporters of Trump and his merry band of blithering GOP dicksmacks. It had gotten awkward talking around racism and sexism and general misanthropy and it was harder and harder to find cover for one’s overall contempt for the poor. People had grown less willing to believe in the inherent good will of a party that would start an illegal war, spy on Americans, burn a black president in effigy and grab women by the pussy. The invitations must have stopped coming, or at least slowed down.

How about this, though? NOBODY IN WASHINGTON IS ELECTED TO LIKE EACH OTHER THEY ARE ELECTED TO HELP PEOPLE.

I think it’s nice that there are friendships and bromances (until today, Kerry/McCain 4 EVA). Generally I think it is good that we have a society. I think it’s good to get along with your coworkers. But not when you’re people and they’re skin sacks filled with bees. And not when it requires you to balance your need to keep your buds with your need to serve your constituents, ie do your fucking job when you’re on the clock and bump fuzzies on your own time.

The most heartbreaking thing about all of this, though? Democrats would forgive it tomorrow.

I mean the elected ones, mostly, but also a lot of the rank and file.

If it meant we could help people some more, we would forgive all the horrific things that were said and all the horrific things that were done. For two years of a campaign and the first year of his presidency Barack Obama was subjected to the most vile racist attacks in modern political history.

His response? To try to give the very people who voted against him for vile racist reasons health insurance.

For her entire life Hillary Clinton was subjected to the most vile sexist attacks it’s possible to subject a white woman to, while she served her country with distinction.

Her response? To fight to protect that health insurance.

So I have very little doubt the Democratic Party would forgive it all tomorrow and go back to trying to help people. Some of us wouldn’t forget, but we’d go right back to work. Hell, some of us are still working, dark though our prospects are, to stop this while we still can.

The civility that the GOP is disingenuously begging for? After all this, we’d give it to them. If modern dinner conversation requires that liberals hold themselves in contempt for the very things that the contemptuous public says it wants politicians to do to help them, liberals would sign up for that shit tomorrow because taking one for the team is kind of our entire THING. Our fate is your fate, bitches.

I keep hearing that the past 6 months are the fault of dumb libtard feminazi bitches like myself who impose their political correctness by banning the words “Merry Christmas” and not valuing traditional American values. If my 12-years-of-religious-ed ass agrees that you can say whatever politically incorrect shit to me that you want, can we let people keep their baby’s chemo?

I’d consider that a fair bargain. I think a lot of my fellow libtards would as well, so babies can keep their cancer treatments. So that nobody has to face a bill they can’t pay after their baby dies. I think we would let people lecture us about traditional values. I think we would let them do it and we would fucking smile.

Just let us help people, that’s all we’re asking.

After all this time.

A.

Deep Blog’s Separated At Birth Theory Of The Georgia 6 Race

You may recall my friend Deep Blog from the 2015 Gret Stet Goober race. He only comes out during Southern elections, apparently. He has a unique theory as to what really happened in the Handel-Ossoff race:

I’m sorry that Ossoff didn’t handle Handel but it was *always* going to be an uphill climb in such a Republican district. I was among those who thought Ossoff’s best chance was winning the primary. He still ran a good race against the odds with a double-digit swing in the vote. It wasn’t enough but this is Newt’s old district for chrissake.

Ossoff’s defeat is disappointing. A win in the Georgia 6 would have been of great symbolic importance but symbolism isn’t everything. I live in the even Deeper South and his loss has nothing to do with his alleged ideological impurity. If Democrats are to mount a comeback in the 2018 cycle, we have to get over imposing purity tests and focus on coalition building. It’s how John Bel Edwards defeated David Vitter in the 2015 Gret Stet Goober race. Edwards is a blue dog but he’s governed as a center-left Democrat. If he had run as a proto-Berner, he’d be out of politics and Diaper Dave would be governor.

 As always, Josh Marshall nails how we should respond to last night’s loss:

What Democrats need to resist at all costs is the temperamental inclination to fall into spasms of self-loathing over this defeat – specifically, the idea that there’s something fundamentally wrong with the party because of this loss. I saw one Democrat on Twitter tonight ask if Ossoff’s loss didn’t mean “the Democratic party apparatus needs a total overhaul on every single level?”

Maybe the Democrats do need a fundamental overhaul. But doing 10 to 15 points better than a House candidate has done in this district since the 1970s simply isn’t evidence for that. There’s also a toxic desire on the part of many to use this painful defeat as an opening to relitigate intra-party grievances. Losing is hard. Taking a loss and getting up the next day to keep fighting to get to the next level takes endurance and guts. Many cannot resist the temptation to trade that sting for a toxic self-validation. All I can say to that is that parties build majorities by finding ways to unite competing factions over common interests and goals – something Donald Trump should help with a lot. They almost never get there when they are locked in internecine struggle or when either faction thinks it can or does destroy the other. That’s just not how it works.

This is a big disappointment. But remember, by any objective measure these races show a Democratic party resurgent and a GOP on the ropes. These seats came open because they were vacated by people Trump picked for cabinet appointments. They got those picks because they came from safe seats. They are by no means a cross section of House seats. The thing to do is learn what we can from coming up just short and move on to the next fight. No one should expect any of this to be easy. If you do, bow out of civic questions and just watch movies and TV. We need people with more endurance.

Speaking of teevee, I’ll give Margo Martindale as Mags Bennett the last word. Literally.

Someone Told People to Resent Others

This thread is worth reading, referencing as it does the ongoing “resentment politics” that have devastated Scott Walker’s Wisconsin:

As I keep saying, people do not independently come to the conclusion that all minorities are T-bone buying welfare cheats dragging on the system and burning down the ‘hood. Someone TELLS them that. We can’t just accept that outlook as the reality and address it with policy without squarely facing who is pushing the message and how they are doing it.

Because until we counter the voices yelling at them through their speakers, it won’t matter if Democrats DO come out strongly in favor of Medicare for All, if they remind people they were the only ones who gave even half a fuck about reining in rapacious health care companies, if they run ads every other second touting free community college and support for organized labor. It won’t matter if they all turn into St. Bernie Sanders, or for that matter St. Hillary Clinton as she was instead of as she was portrayed. It won’t matter if we run Obama 12 more times.

So long as there is a chorus of wingnut dickbags on Fox and talk radio (and talk radio, in Wisconsin especially, is a mental cancer) telling them Democrats want to give all your hard-earned money to lazy black women who are having too many babies, that will always drown anything else out. So long as cable news continues to poison the well of public discourse and define the narrative as “politics is broken, everybody is bad, just give up,” so long as local papers run four pages on a good day and three of those are syndicated columns talking about “Washington” being the problem, the only thing people are going to hear is what Republicans want them to hear.

It’s understandable, sure, to my fellow palefaces. Give me a choice between studying and shooting heroin, I’m gonna show you my veins. I know these people, I meet them on the regular, and you do not have to dig very far under the surface to find the jokes about people getting fat on soda and public assistance while they, the virtuous, just marvel at the destruction of their neighborhoods by “those” elements.

They side-eye every low-hanging-pantsed dude they see on a trip to the mall because THAT is who they picture taking everything away from them. It’s all one thing. They don’t separate their contempt into rural vs. urban vs. black vs. white boxes. I’m not making a joke. You can’t counter vagaries like that with specifics of policy.

You have to counter it with entertainment and right now we have no show.

A.

GOP Impulse Control Blues: Greg The Goon & The Insane President Posse

Trump spawn and Greg the Goon. Photo via the Toronto Star.

A venerable expression of disputed origin that I’ve been using for years has become a cliché or truism. There’s a reason for that: “a fish rots from the head down” is true. It certainly applies to the Republican Party whose members have gotten crazier and crazier since the Insult Comedian became its bull goose loony. One wouldn’t think that impulse control would be a problem for candidates and office-holders, but it is in the New Gilded Age. Trump sets the tone for his party.  It’s an ugly and discordant tone; not unlike skinhead thrash metal complete with guttural vocals. Tremendous. Believe me.

I suspect you’ve all heard about the special behavior exhibited by Montana special election candidate/rich Republican malaka Greg (The Goon) Gianforte. He assaulted Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs last night. Jacobs’ offense was asking a question about Trumpcare. Gianforte does not like the Guardian because they wrote a piece about his ties to Russian companies. (Why is it always Russia with these fuckers?) Greg the Goon has been charged with misdemeanor assault for body slamming the bespectacled journalist. He should be charged with rampant mendacity as his campaign’s account is contradicted by a Fox News crew’s account:

Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna, field producer Faith Mangan and photographer Keith Railey witnessed the incident at Gianforte’s campaign headquarters in Montana, according to an account published on the Fox News website. After Jacobs asked Gianforte his question, Acuna wrote: “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him.

“Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the man, as he moved on top the reporter and began yelling something to the effect of ‘I’m sick and tired of this!’ … To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after giving statements to local sheriff’s deputies.”

That’s right, Fox Fucking News; the home of Sean Hannity’s falling ratings. I wish I could say I was surprised that many GOPers defended Greg the Goon. Said defense inspired a brisk rejoinder from Never Trump conservative Rick Wilson. Here are the first three tweets of a 12-part tweet storm:

Yeah, you right, Rick. The president* has brought the WWE mentality to national politics. Only the impulse control impaired party practices it. You guessed it: the GOP. It’s not very grand of them is it? G should be for goon from now on.

It’s a pity that Greg the Goon may still body slam his way to victory. The downside of early voting is that 50% of the ballots have been cast. The race, however, has been tightening and Montana has election day registration. The assault cost Greg the Goon some newspaper endorsements. The Missoulian don’t play that.

Greg the Goon isn’t the only Republican having impulse control issues. The GOP’s bull goose loony, president* Trump has them as well and in a more lethal form.

I am referring, of course, to Trump’s propensity to leak classified information whilst in the throes of braggadocio. In addition to his Oval Office exploits with the Russian Foreign Minister and GRU Rezident/Ambassador. Trump bragged to fellow insane President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philipines about submarine positions. This is a big no-no: loose lips sink ships, especially subs. Submarines by their nature are stealthy. It would be a mistake for Trump to tell the leaders of Britain, France, or Japan let alone a member of the Insane President Posse.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is pissed off at Team Trump for leaking details about the Manchester bombing including the name of the alleged bomber. May plans to admonish Trump but it’s unlikely to have any impact. One doesn’t learn impulse control at age 70. Besides, Trump never listens to women even Brexiteering ones.

We’re at a depressing stage in the history of the Republic. One of our major parties is in the hands of a leader who reflects all of its worst qualities. The few diehard Never Trump GOPers are not office-holders but people like Rick Wilson, Ana Navarro, Evan McMullin, and David Frum. Congressional Republicans are content to be pro-Trump as long as they think he’ll sign anything they send to him. The good news is that scandals like the Russian affair have a way of paralyzing government, especially when the Insult Comedian’s specialty is making things worse.

I’ll give Peter Gabriel the last word with a song from the PG3 aka Melt album. Greg the Goon certainly had a meltdown last night as well as no impulse control whatsoever.

At the risk of being branded a last word liar, I came up with the second part of the post title after it was written. The piece was too tight to disrupt, so here it is. Greg the Goon & The Insane President Posse is a helluva band name innit?  I see them riding off into the sunset on their pygmy ponies after checking out the dental floss bushes. You really didn’t think I’d do a post about the place Gus McCrae always called Montany without mentioning Zappa did you?

Le Sigh

I know that Pepe Le Pew is in bad odor in many quarters, but he still cracks me up. He’s a cartoon skunk who sounds like Charles Boyer, y’all. He’s not real. One of Monsieur Le Pew’s catchphrases was, Le Sigh. And that’s what I did when I checked on the French presidential election yesterday. In this case, it was le sigh of relief that Emmanuel Macron defeated the malodorous Marine Le Pen. How do you like that? I’ve gone from Le Pew to Le Pen. They’re both stinkers, but only one is dangerous and it ain’t the toon.

Watching CNN cover the results gave me a mild headache. Instead of talking heads who knew something about either French politics or foreign policy in general they had political consultants and even a former aide to that legendary Francophile Senator Mike Lee of Utah. Yeah, I was being sarcastic there. CNN’s coverage inspired this tweet:

I make no bones about being an expert. I know something about French political history but my French is at the Pepe Le Pew level: rudimentary at best, stinky at worst. I do, however, know that every country has its own distinctive politics and the equation used by many before the election was nuts: Brexit + Trump = Le Pen for le populist wave win. Merde.

That formulation conveniently skipped the poor performance by Gert Wilders’ far right party in the late Dutch election. Populist nationalism is not a contagious disease. Each country has its own strain; in France, the Le Pens are associated in the public mind with xenophobes, collaborators, Holocaust deniers, and Vichy Fascists. Besides, Le Pen blew it in the final teevee debate. Bigly:

In the end Ms. Le Pen failed to “undemonize,” spectacularly. She failed during the course of the campaign, when her angry rallies drew the Front inexorably back into the swamp from which it had emerged. And then she failed decisively in one of the campaign’s critical moments, last week’s debate with Mr. Macron, when she effectively “redemonized” herself and the party, as many French commentators noted.

It was an hourslong tirade against Mr. Macron, laced with name-calling and epithets, and woefully deficient in substance. She appeared lost on subject after subject, fumbling on one of her signature issues — withdrawing from the euro — that is opposed by a majority of French. Something essential about Ms. Le Pen, and the National Front, had been revealed to France.

Mr. Macron, on the other hand, demonstrated a quality that French voters, unlike many Anglo-Saxon ones, have long found essential in their successful candidates: cool mastery of the critical issues confronting the country. Where Ms. Le Pen repeatedly lost herself in the weeds, Mr. Macron sailed right through them. Whether he will now be able to translate that knowledge into action is another question.

Word. There will be two rounds of parliamentary elections in June and Macron’s new party needs to elect some deputies or else he will be le screwed and Vichy Fascism will make a comeback in 2022. Le Pen did receive 34% of the vote in this rout, which is nearly double her father’s performance against Jacques Chirac in the 2002 run-off. The Le Pens aren’t going anywhere. They’re playing the long game.

The biggest difference between our late election and Sunday in France is that the establishment right did NOT support Le Pen. They supported the Republic and democracy against the Vichy Fascist threat. In contrast,  the American establishment right made a pact with the orange devil. I almost said “sold their souls” but they’re souless stinkers. Has anyone ever seen Mitch McConnell’s reflection in a mirror? I thought not.

I must admit to saying “I told you so” yesterday on social media. Every election is not about America. France is not America, and America is not France. Vive la difference. Vive la France.

That concludes this inexpert post about the French election. Hey, at least I resisted the temptation to call it Pepe Le Pew meets Marine Le Pen.

All this talk of Le Pen and Le Pew has given me le earworm:

Everything Is An Enormous Pain in the Ass

It’s not just Obamaphones and poor people’s choice of TVs:

It’s that it takes six calls to the insurance company to get routine drugs approved. It’s that there are fees tacked onto everything for seemingly no reason at all. It’s that when you go on the website to make a doctor’s appointment they tell you to call, and the voicemail auto-answering thing tells you to go on the website and then hangs up on you. It’s that you have to swipe or insert or insert and swipe or WHATEVER to pay for stuff. Change your password to something else, but not that password, because we’re not going to tell you what the password requirements are until you’ve screwed them up.

It’s that there are half as many buses as there used to be, for twice as many people, and they don’t clean them as much so the ride to work every morning is gross. It’s that we’re told at every turn that we can’t have nice things, unless we’re super-rich, so most of us have almost-nice things that break constantly and require a roundabout with four customer service reps until we lose it and start screaming at the company on Twitter.

That’s for those of us who can afford to be on Twitter, have things at all, or be consumed with petty shit. The rest of us are sitting at the bus stop, having gotten up an hour early only to find the bus delayed by 30 minutes because it’s snowing, and the bus doesn’t go to the one ADA-compliant stop on the train so we have to roll the damn chair down the middle of the street in the snow because the city doesn’t shovel as much as it used to. Shortage of funds, you know. Can’t salt the sidewalks. Grrr. It’s doing everything the way you’re told — job, home, family — and life STILL being just this hard.

We transfer that anger at corporate bullshit to politicians, and we should, because they’re the ones allowing companies to charge more for doing less and call in the cops when someone says screw that. They’re the ones allocating resources from one place to another, and somehow where the resources end up is never where we think they’re gonna be, and it’s that their misdeeds are presented as happenstance for which there is no redress. Washington “is broken.” Our system “doesn’t work.”

Not that people made it that way and can unmake it, not that actions and laws and regulations and requirements can be made to protect consumers more than producers, but that it’s all fucked up and bullshit, as the kids say. Easier to turn your back on it in disgust. Easier to walk away.

A.

King Of The Bigots

Our old “friend” Congressman Steve King of Iowa used to claim that he wasn’t a racist. Now that white ethno nationalism is fashionable among the deplorables, those days are gone, gone, gone:

Guess who applauded King:

The Wilders mentioned by King is far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders whose ironically named Party for Freedom is running first in the polls in that nation’s upcoming election. A headline in the “failing” NYT captures the horror of what’s happening in the Netherlands: How The Dutch Stopped Being Decent and Dull. I’d like to throw another D word in the mix: depressing.

The good news is that, thanks to Holland’s multi-party system, Wilders is unlikely to be the next Prime Minister BUT his party has gone from being cranks to contenders. That’s bad news for those of us who have admired the Dutch for their political common sense and cultural tolerance. The French presidential election is next up and Marine LePen may lead in the first round. The conventional wisdom is that her opponents will unite against her as they did against her father in 2002 but the CW has taken a beating in the last few years. Stay tuned: if France leaves the EU, it’s as dead as the Weimar Republic.

Back to Steve King. The Iowa cornholer is standing by his statements. It’s now safe in certain circles for an elected official to sound like David Duke, Richard Spencer, and Geert Wilders. King was on CNN this morning and went into a rhapsody about his horrendous views:

“I’ve been to Europe and I’ve spoken on this issue and I’ve said the same thing as far as ten years ago to the German people and to any population of people that is a declining population that isn’t willing to have enough babies to reproduce themselves. And I’ve said to them, you can’t rebuild your civilization with somebody else’s babies,” King said on CNN. “You’ve got to keep your birth rate up and that you need to teach your children your values.”

There you have it, we’re not “making” enough babies. It’s what happens when women get uppity and think they can do other things and not just be baby factories as in The Handmaid’s Tale. There’s a new teevee version of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian classic and it couldn’t be timelier. Make sure you read Ms. Atwood’s essay about The Handmaid’s Tale continuing relevance in the “failing” NYT.

In addition to supporting the King of Bigots, the erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer is bragging about his own fertility. Duke only has two kids whereas his role model Joseph Goebbels had six. Of course, he murdered his children in 1945. Some hero. Some role model.

Remember when mainstream conservatives ran away from David Dukkke? Now they sound just like him: Steve King is merely a canary in the coal mine. That’s life in the 21st Century, which is starting to feel like the 1930’s with memes. The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland recently had a great deal to say about that, so I’ll give him the last word:

If there’s a common thread linking 21st-century European nationalists to each other and to Trump, it is a similar, shared contempt for the structures that have bound together, and restrained, the principal world powers since the last war. Naturally, Le Pen and Wilders want to follow the Brexit lead and leave, or else break up, the EU. And, no less naturally, Trump supports them – as well as regarding Nato as “obsolete” and the UN as an encumbrance to US power (even if his subordinates rush to foreign capitals to say the opposite).

For historians of the period, the 1930s are always worthy of study because the decade proves that systems – including democratic republics – which had seemed solid and robust can collapse. That fate is possible, even in advanced, sophisticated societies. The warning never gets old.

But when we contemplate our forebears from eight decades ago, we should recall one crucial advantage we have over them. We have what they lacked. We have the memory of the 1930s. We can learn the period’s lessons and avoid its mistakes. Of course, cheap comparisons coarsen our collective conversation. But having a keen ear tuned to the echoes of a past that brought such horror? That is not just our right. It is surely our duty.

Journalism: A shitty job in a nuclear winter

One of my former students became a science reporter a few years out of school and once found himself on a trip to Chernobyl. A group of researchers were collecting stool samples from people who lived adjacent to the old Russian nuclear reactor, trying to see if they were suffering from any radioactive poisoning nearly three decades after the meltdown.

He sent me a post card from the area with a final line I still love:

“Journalism. It’s a shitty job but somebody has to do it.”

I thought about him and that trip today when I was trying to read anything in my social media feed that wasn’t about Trump’s press conference. When all I was left with was if Steve Kerr was going to play Russell Westbrook alongside his four Warriors in the All-Star Game and Draymond Green clarifying his “slave-owner mentality” statements, I gave up.

Trump’s hour-plus screed was a brick of uncut alternative facts, packaged in a wrapper of vulgar abuse and denigration. The word “rambling” might be overused at this point and I don’t think it goes far enough. It was like he took every topic of interest or a point of pride he has, wrote them on bingo balls and then had the machine spit them out to determine the order of his talking points.

The biggest problem came when he started taking questions from the press, one of his favorite targets of abuse. A reporter from Ami Magazine, a conservative orthodox Jewish publication, offered Trump the olive branch he was desperately seeking, a pass on personal anti-Semitism. However, as Jake Turx tried to ask Trump to explain how he planned to fight this problem, Trump just stepped all over himself, assuming Turx was calling him anti-Semitic and then told him to sit down and shut up.

When a reporter refuted Trump’s claim that his 306 (actually 304) electoral votes was the most since Ronald Reagan, he dodged with “I meant Republican victory.” He then was told Bush 41 had way more, which led Trump to blame his staff for the information.

Perhaps the worst moment is the one most people are noting: Trump’s clash with April Ryan, a long-time member of the White House press corps. Ryan, who is African-American, asked about Trump’s plans to improve urban areas that he often referred to as terrible hell holes and wondered if he’d reach out to the CBC and Hispanic caucus in congress. Trump seemed unaware of what CBC stood for, but upon learning it stood for Congressional Black Caucus, asked Ryan if she’d set up the meeting for him.

“Do you want to set up the meeting? Are they friends of yours?” Trump asked her in what could only be described as a confrontational tone.

At this point, I had two thoughts:

  • Based on his “you all know each other, right?” approach, I was amazed Trump didn’t start off with, “Hey, I loved you in ‘Hidden Figures!’ What’s your question?”
  • If you believe that Sean Spicer isn’t getting fired, buy stock in Orbitz. This guy is going to put a dent in our national supply by Saturday.

This press conference, naturally, scared the living shit out of me as a citizen, but my one saving grace is that I can turn off the TV or ignore the news. The journalists who have to work in this environment are like the people at Chernobyl in 1986, going shirtless and using some Windex to clean up the mess.

Journalism has always been a shitty job and it takes a weird breed of person to do it. If you don’t believe me, you should have been in our student newspaper’s newsroom this week. Conversations regarding a dead squirrel, double entendres about a professor “coming” and whether Meatloaf’s “I would do anything for love (but I won’t do that)” was about anal were among the most acceptable for public consumption.

The kids do this for almost no money, which will get them ready for a career in a field where cutting positions and salaries is an annual ritual. They talk to people who don’t want to talk to them about things everyone wants to know but no one who knows is willing to disclose. (A student told me an administrator offered him about a three-minute “No Comment” on a topic we had been covering. My first response, “Did you record it so we can use it as a quote?” The answer, of course, was “yes.”)

Abuse in this field is common. I’ve been called scum, an asshole, a weasel, a vulture and worse. One lady told me my mother didn’t raise me right. I’m sure there are worse ones that I’ve just blacked out of my memory. It got so bad that I used to have a recorder attached to my phone so I could record the abuse. That way, when the person on the other end became sweet as pie to my boss and accused me of random shit, I could just play him the tape.

The thing that amazes me about all of this is that we keep having more and more kids entering this field with the idea that each one of them probably has (at the very least) one Cousin Carl who believes everything not on Breitbart is fake news. Many of the kids I teach come from the Rural Red areas of the state where family members at Thanksgiving ask things like why they aren’t earning an “honest living” like “Gene the Retard” down the way who sells dachshunds out of his trailer.

One kid who recently changed majors to journalism sat with me after I mentioned that a long time ago, when I was changing from pre-law to something or other, Dad told me I needed to find a field where I could get a job.

“As long as you aren’t majoring in English or something else stupid like that, I don’t care,” he said. “You just need to be able to get a job.” (Incidentally, English was going to be my major right up to that moment…)

The kid’s dad had said something similar when he made the change to journalism and he wondered what was out there for him. I explained about the various ways the skills he picked up in journalism would make him a fine hire for a ton of great jobs. He relaxed and then asked, “Can you tell my dad that? He runs his own business and he thinks this is a stupid move.”

Of course it’s a stupid move, if you enjoy low-stress jobs with good benefits and career security. It’s also a stupid move if you enjoy being liked and you don’t want your illusion shattered when it comes to thinking the best of people. It’s a really stupid move for 1,001 other reasons that undercut sanity and longevity. Still, the kid felt like he found the right major, so like a moth to a flame, he decided to stick with it.

I was glad for that and I’m looking for more just like him because we need those guys and gals to fill in the ranks of reporters, editors and other journalists who push back every day against the tide of bullshit. Talking to kids who want to be the next reporter to be told, “Sit down! You’re fake news” really energizes me and makes me want to get them ready to go in the corner and fight for the puck. That’s why this weekend finds me at a journalism convention in Minnesota where kids from a lot of small-college Midwestern schools will show up and learn how to write, report, dig, challenge and fight better.

Best of all? The person running the convention told me the number of attendees this year is higher than it has been for the past several mid-winter conferences.

And, like any other decent journalist, I’ll make sure to check it out before I believe it.

Wingnut Mailbag: On Wisconsin Edition

Clarke

For some reason, I’m on Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke’s email list. I’m not quite sure why. It shouldn’t have anything to do with my making fun of Clarke last fall, but it might. All publicity is good publicity to the likes of Clarke. Trumpers love to be trumpeted.

I’m getting a perverse thrill at poaching on Scout, Doc, and A’s turf but I suspect they don’t mind. I’d rather not be getting wingnut email from the Clarkites but I am. So it goes.

Sheriff Clarke is looking to 2018. He could run for re-election but his approval rating is even lower than Trump’s: an abysmal 31%. Milwaukee County is a Democratic stronghold, which is why he’s nominally a Democrat. Clarke is even less popular among Democrats at home: only 13% of Dems want him re-elected. That’s why he’s likely to change parties and challenge Senator Tammy Baldwin.

The aforementioned  fundraising emails combine homophobia, sexism, and wingnut lunacy. On January 30th, Team Clarke sent an email entitled Arrest Sen. Tammy Baldwin. Hey, at least they used her title. Here’s a sample of the ravings therein:

Liberal lesbian Tammy Baldwin is aiding and abetting ISIS. She is working to stop President Donald Trump’s ban on terrorist refugees. Tammy Baldwin is more concerned about protecting the safety of ISIS members than she is about the security of the United States. It is clear that Tammy Baldwin doesn’t care that many of the refugees have plans to attack America. Tammy Baldwin belongs in prison! She is a traitor to our country!

Fun fact: a group called Restore American Liberty sent the email. It’s located in Denver, Colorado. Clarke might call it federalism, I call it carpetbaggery.

The ironically named Restore American Liberty has sent me the same email three days in a row. You’d think they’d get tired of repeating themselves, but wingnuts are simple people. Here’s another passage:

Sheriff David Clarke can win! He can defeat leftist lesbian Tammy Baldwin in the Wisconsin U.S. Senate race! If elected, he will work to secure the borders and ban Muslim immigration. Unlike Tammy Baldwin, Sheriff David Clarke supports balancing the budget, protecting the Second Amendment, and defending the right to life. 

Liberal lesbian Tammy Baldwin needs to be defeated! She is a radical pro-abortion, open borders Democrat. She supports higher taxes, gun control, and expanding ObamaCare. America needs Sheriff David Clarke to defeat her!

Wealthly LGBT donors from Hollywood, San Francisco, and New York are going to spend millions in support of Tammy Baldwin. It is crucial that grassroots conservatives fight back!

Wealthly? Don’t these bozos spell check? Of course, their target audience is knuckledraggers who read about as much as the Insult Comedian. Trump, of course, would say that Sheriff Clarke is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice. If you think I’m obsessed with that gobsmacker of a sentence, check out N Todd’s joint, Dohiyi Mir.

My unsolicited advice to Wisconsinites: get over the Packers loss and go to work supporting “leftist liberal lesbian” Tammy Baldwin. The helots are coming for her. If it’s not David Clarke, they’ll find another challenger. It’s an example of why our voters need to turn out for EVERY ELECTION. The country you save may be your own.

The Word Of The Day Is Salacious

Unless you live under a rock in an isolated part of Siberia, you’ve heard about the raw intelligence file posted by BuzzFeed. Many reputable news organizations, including Mother Jones, refused to publish it because it’s unverifiable. Slate’s Will Oremus describes how it finally came out after months of teasing:

The dossier was not new. Buzz Feed and multiple other news organizations had obtained it well before Tuesday and had been investigating its various claims. Mother Jones wrote about it prior to the election, on Oct. 31, and published a handful of quotes from it. Key figures in Congress had also seen it and even publicly alluded to it, and the Guardian reported on Tuesday that Sen. John McCain had passed it to FBI Director James Comey last month. But no one had published its entire, stunning contents before Tuesday—partly because, as my colleague Joshua Keating put it, “nothing in the memos has been confirmed, and even their provenance is murky.”

<SNIP>

Smith didn’t address why BuzzFeed waited until now to publish the document, and he declined to comment further for this article. But the move came almost immediately after CNN reported Tuesday that top U.S. intelligence officials had shown Trump and President Obama a two-page synopsis of the dossier. The synopsis was presented as an unofficial appendage to the classified security briefings they gave Obama and Trump about Russian interference in the presidential election, CNN reported. Sources also told CNN that the “Gang of Eight” Congressional leaders had been provided a synopsis of the dossier as well.

In short, the timing was driven by media momentum. It turns out that our old friend FBI Director James Comey has been sitting on the information. He apparently only publicizes unverifiable information about Hillary Clinton.

Twitter was agog last night over the ickiest part of the dossier: Trump’s use of golden showers as a soggy revenge mechanism.  While amusing that was NOT the most important passage of the dossier:

In terms of specifics, Source A confided that the Kremlin had been feeding TRUMP and his team valuable intelligence on his opponents, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary CLINTON, for several years [see more below]. This was confirmed by Source a close associate of TRUMP who had organized and managed his recent trips to Moscow, and who reported, also in Tune 2016, that this Russian intelligence had been “very helpful”. The Kremlln’s cultivation operation on TRUMP also had comprised offering him various lucrative real estate development business  deals in Russia, especially in relation to the ongoing 2018 World Cup soccer tournament, However, so far, for reasons unknown, TRUMP had not taken up any of these.

However, there were other aspects to TRUMP’s engagement with the Russian authorities. One which had borne fruit for them was to exploit personal obsessions and sexual perversion in order to obtain suitable ‘kompromat’ [compromising material] on him. According to Source D, where s/he had been present, (perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew President and OBAMA {whom he hated] had stayed on one other official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him. The hotel was known to be under FSE control with microphones and concealed cameras in all the main rooms to record anything they wanted to.

I don’t do terlet humor: it’s low-hanging fruit for low-brows. The jokes missed the ominous point of the memo: that the KGB’s successor agency, the FSE, has allegedly been blackmailing Trump because he was stupid and arrogant enough to have hookers pee on a bed the Obamas slept in. Both claims are plausible if disgusting. Trump *is* stupid and arrogant and blackmail has long been used by Russian intelligence as a means of gaining leverage over people. Anyone who has read John LeCarre or watched The Americans knows that. Of course, Trump doesn’t read books and is incapable of sitting still long enough to marvel over Philip’s wigs on the FX show.

I never thought I’d be writing about a President-elect, and peeing Russian hookers. This is the level to which Trump has dragged our national dialogue. I am, however, worried that the publication of the dossier will backfire and make people feel sorry for Trump. He deserves only scorn, not sympathy.

Last night I tweeted this out:

The NYT called the dossier salacious hence the post title. As of this writing, Trump’s first full-blown post-election press conference is still on. I’m skipping it. I’d rather read about it than watch it on the electric teevee machine. Why? After reading the raw intelligence file, I feel like I need delousing. I don’t want to go through that more than once.

What Are You Looking At?

I cannot tell you how exhausted I am of the Democratic Party pretending there’s only one race that matters: 

Still, the party’s expectations about Clinton demonstrated just how bad parties are at analyzing what they need to fix to win. Next year, while it is not what they boast about, Democrats are expecting mistakes by Trump — the most unpopular incoming president in decades — to create opportunities for them. Their debate about winning a new majority is not about a savior from red America, or even a change in policy. It is about better organizing, and how to win back voters who were Democrats until the party was branded as neoliberal and pro-trade.

 

Democrats can’t just organize at the national level and run for president and lose every House and Senate seat and every state house and expect those losses not to eventually bite them in the ass at the national level too. Let the blue states become seething roiling pits of anti-everything sentiment, from Scott Walker’s rageaholic anti-education Wisconsin to Bruce Rauner’s union-bashing Illinois, and those feelings reach a critical mass.

If every voice from every leader is an authoritarian Republican one, how do you expect them to listen to what Democrats are saying? Where are they supposed to read your 5-point plan? Twitter?

When we look at the future, what are we looking at? National numbers on Trump’s unpopularity? If that shit mattered John Kerry would be opening his presidential library and Hillary would be having Bill measure the Oval for new curtains. State numbers are all that matters, and maybe this more than anything: How far down the Republican rabbit hole have the state legislature and the house races gone?

If those have all been won by tea-freak bigots, I don’t care what it did in the last election, that’s not a blue state.

What are we expecting otherwise? “Well, on a local level I approve of drug testing for welfare and repealing worker protections and gutting public schools and bashing professors and throwing the entire economy into a tailspin so I can regulate where transgender people pee, but nationally? I’m all for fairness, sharing, kindness, gay people, single mothers and the idea of a representative democracy!”

Forget a 50-State Strategy. We need a 50-State Legislature Strategy.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Best Of Adrastos 2016

Nighthawks

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

It’s time to take a look back at 2016. It may be an exercise in egotism but it’s mine, all mine. Last year’s best of Adrastos was a top thirty list, this year we have a plus-one. Sounds like a dinner party, doesn’t it? It’s time to belly-up to the buffet…

2016 was a good year for satire, but a terrible year for the country. And I was a better pundit than prognosticator. So it goes.

Here’s this year’s crop of posts in chronological order:

January 7, 2016: The Fog Of History: The Wallace Factor.

January 16, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: Black Tie White Noise.

February 27, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: All The Things You Are.

March 28, 2016: The Fog Of Historical Pictures: Grace Coolidge’s Pet Raccoon.

March 28, 2016: Charles Foster Kane Meets Donald Trump.

March 31, 2016: Malaka Of The Week: John Milkovich (Not Malkovich)

April, 18, 2016: Oy, Such A Mentor

April 21, 2016: Malaka Of The Week: Jeff Weaver.

May 7, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: They All Laughed.

May 18, 2016: Speaking In Dudebromides.

June 3, 2016: Trump Violates The First Rule Of Litigation.

June 13, 2016: Still Comfortably Numb Revisited.

June 29, 2016: A Fatal Lack Of Cunning & Guile.

July 11, 2016: Jill Stein: Crunchy Granola Machiavelli.

July 29, 2016 DNC Wrap Up Finale: She Won’t Stay Throwed.

August 18, 2016: Heckuva Job, Advocate.

August 18, 2016: The Insult Comedian’s Not For Turning.

August 22, 2016: Every Flim-Flam Man Needs A Sucker.

September 8, 2016: Is Trump Really Running For Grand Nagus?

September 17, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: Birdland.

October 4, 2016: Instant Analysis: The Debate As Altman Film.

October 6, 2016: Absence Of Malice.

October 10, 2016: Breitbart-Bannon-Bossie Man.  Bloggers Note: This post was included by Batocchio in the Jon Swift Roundup 2016. 

October 17, 2016: Moe’s Wife Blames Larry.

November 2, 2016: Out Of Control FBI Playing By The Clinton Rules.

November 10, 2016: Sitting Political Shiva.

November 11, 2016: Confessions Of A Keyboard Maquis.

November 16, 2016: Malaka Of The Week: New Orleans Baby Cakes.

November 17, 2016: The Most Dangerous Game. 

December 1, 2016: Louisiana Politics: A Terrible Candidate For Terrible Times.

December 12, 2016: Hayes/Smith: Only Victims.

That’s it for 2016. It’s been a tough year but we’re still alive and kicking. I’ll give the last word to two guys we’re really going to miss:

obama-kerry-meme

 

 

Tweet Of The Day: Devil-Eyed MSM Edition

I’m an aficionado of devil-eyed cat pictures. Della Street’s glow in the dark demon eyes have given us all a great deal of pleasure over the years. Last night, Keith Olbermann retweeted a picture from ex-Politico honcho Mike Allen who was partying with the Insult Comedian at Mar-a-Largo:

It’s the courtier press at its worst. They appear to have made a deal with the devil in exchange for fleeting access. Thumbs down:  it’s a bad deal for them. The Insult Comedian will denounce them soon enough if they even mildly criticize him. It’s the way of the electoral college winner.

Speaking of the electoral college. Today is end of delusion day. There’s no chance that there will be enough faithless electors to throw the election to the House where Trump would win anyway. I haven’t said much about the so-called “Hamilton elector movement” because I don’t believe in waking sleepwalkers. (If I’m wrong about this, I will drink vodka, eat cauliflower, listen to thrash metal, watch The Sound of Music, and do other things I dislike in penance. End of my own personal parade of horrors.)

I, too, believe that Trump will be an illegitimate President, elected by suspect means, aided by the dictator of a hostile foreign power. I can also count. People should be organizing to resist Trump and his marauding gang of Billionaires, generals, and white nationalists instead of hoping for deliverance from Republican electors.

We should take the same position the GOP took after the elections of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. You all remember what Mitch McConnell said in 2009, but after Clinton was elected, then Senate GOP leader Bob Dole told the country that he planned to represent those who did NOT vote for Clinton. The delegitimization campaign paid off in the 1994 contract on America election. It worked again in the Tea Party election of 2010. It’s how Democrats at all levels should approach the incoming administration: massive resistance with an eye on 2018. Some former congressional staffers have already posted a manifesto online. Read it, learn from it.

Vive les Maquis.

It Hurts to Take the Story Apart. Do It Anyway.

There’s a story we’ve been telling ourselves for a long time now, about how democracy works, about how it has to work in order for us all to get up in the morning. It involves how campaigns operate, how elections take place, how power is handed from one person to another and what is done with that power and to whom.

The story’s called America. It’s a few years old now. Maybe you’ve heard it: We are free, and we choose who leads us, and we have chance after chance to make things better. We’re in charge, you and me, for good and ill and sometimes both together.

It’s always been partly fiction. In our finest hours it’s always been a little frayed. But we’ve been able to tell ourselves the story while it’s still more knit than mend.

Can we do that right now?

The Russian state took an interest in our elections and tried to influence them. To what extent, with what effect, and for what purpose, those in power know and aren’t saying.

And over the past couple of days during discussion of that, and discussion of the popular vote imbalance, and discussion of voter suppression in formerly swing states, I’ve been hearing lots of variations on IT’S TOO HARD AND OMG MEEN. That political blowback would be intense for anyone who said hey, hold on, let’s figure this shit out. That we don’t have time between now and the inauguration (I guess there are too many Christmas parties?) and can’t we just put our heads down and power through this?

The vast majority of the GOP, of course, is hedging its bets as they have been since the primaries ended. Maybe this will all die down and they can get back to gutting the social safety net which is what they’re really here for. Maybe Donald Trump will just fuck up normally, like Dan Quayle or something, accidentally hit on a few prime ministers’ wives, do some blow in the Oval, and leave the hard work to them. That was their overarching rationale for endorsing his skeezy ass and they are desperately clinging to it.

It’s gross, of course, like a 15-year-old who still wants to bring his blankie to school, but we always underestimate how attached people are to their security objects.

But Obama and the Democrats? The purported grownups in the GOP in Congress and statehouses who either actively avoided mentioning Trump or flat-out said he was garbage? Those people? I don’t want to hear from THEM how difficult it is to take the story of America apart and put it back together again.

I don’t want to hear about concerns that they’d be perceived as helping Hillary, or that TV commentators would say things in that deep concerned voice they affect, or that frogs would yell shit online. THOSE AREN’T REAL CONSEQUENCES for people who are elected to do a job.

They aren’t elected to serve just to rename official state animals and pass continuing resolutions to hold up how much everything sucks right now. They are elected to fix what is broken even if that something is EVERYTHING.

Things have been breaking down for a while now. Redistricting to weight state legislatures overwhelmingly against Democrats and third parties, ballot initiatives designed to turn out opponents of one candidate or another, tax caps and institutional neglect and voting restrictions, and all of it leading to a campaign in which one candidate won the popular vote by 2.6 million and the other candidate — a racist sex predator — is president.

Things have been breaking down and politicians have been desperately pretending they are okay because, frankly, taking all this apart is hard. It takes time. It takes study and most of all it takes attention we don’t have because the decent public servants are trying to keep their constituents out of hock to the mob.

Which is a deliberate thing also, in case we didn’t have enough to deal with. I get ragey when modern American voters are described as being distracted by TV and video games; the club of the most of us is distracted by the trivial need to EAT, and I can’t imagine the calls district offices get asking for help with the few social programs we have left.

Still. Still and all. There have to be things big enough that we make room for them. The question of foreign interference in an election has got to be one of those things.

Winter breaks can be cancelled. Everybody can work late. We can stop talking about Twitter and we can take out a yellow legal pad and a box of black pens and a box of red pens and we can figure out how to investigate this and, if necessary, prosecute it. It’s not false and it’s not trivial and it’s certainly not too much for us.

We’ve built bigger than this. We can tear this down. We can take this story apart and figure out which parts are true and which are false.

Sack up, hos. Get to work.

A.

Louisiana Politics: A Terrible Candidate For Terrible Times

foster-foghorn-meme

I swore I wouldn’t write about the Gret Stet Senate run-off since I prefer not to take shots at my own side. BUT a pro-Foster Campbell super PAC ran an ad that can be interpreted as flipping off part of the Democratic base. Here’s how Tyler Bridges described it in the Advocate:

A super PAC supporting Foster Campbell, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, is airing an unlikely television ad on the highly-charged issue of abortion.

The pro-Campbell ad attacks John N. Kennedy, his Republican opponent, from the right — even though Kennedy has the endorsement of National Right to Life, a prominent anti-abortion group.

The ad alleges that Kennedy supported abortion from 1988 to 2004 and, as viewers hear a beating heart, posts the number 22,581,040 on the screen.

 “That’s how many children were aborted during John Kennedy’s career as a pro-choice politician,” the announcer says, citing figures from National Right to Life.

“Foster Campbell worked with us to protect the unborn,” the announcer adds.

I understand that one reason for the ad is to accurately paint John Neely Kennedy as an opportunistic weasel. But the sub-text for people like me is that we have nowhere else to go, so they don’t care what we think. So much for this run-off tag line: Straight Talk with Foster Campbell.

Here’s the deal. I have voted many times for Blue Dog Democrats and I’m sure I will in the future, but Foster’s populist pose really riles me up as they say in the piney woods. He’s also running an ad wherein he states that he will work with Trump when he’s right; not exactly an uplifting message for a blogger whose slogan is Vive les Maquis. He has said he’d oppose Trump on Social Security and Medicare, which is why I’m holding my nose and voting for Foster.

I realize that the Insult Comedian got 58% while winning Louisiana but if Foster were a genuine populist he’d run against all the wealthy plutocrats appointed to the Trump cabinet. The DeVos, Mnuchin, and Ross appointments clearly establish Trump as the phony populist 49% of the people believe him to be. Instead of indulging in me-tooism, Campbell should indict Trump as a lying fake populist who appointed the “foreclosure king” as Treasury Secretary while forgetting the forgotten man. I’d also like to point out that Huey Long, the patron saint of Gret Stet populism, was willing to attack a popular President of his own party. And Trump ain’t no FDR.

Running a scorched earth campaign would also allow the doomed candidate to lose with some dignity instead of trying to out hick Neely. I considered calling this post Hick vs. Hick but I’m sick of the hick shtick so I didn’t. In the end, Foster is a candidate who reminds me of Foghorn Leghorn. I say, I say.

My dislike of Foster Campbell dates to the 2007 Gret Stet Goober Race. He was allegedly the leading Democratic candidate in a race that Bobby Jindal was destined to win. Foster barely had a pulse during that election. He ended up with 12.45% finishing in fourth place behind a guy who had been a Democrat for five minutes and independent John Georges, the dullest Greek tycoon in recorded history. I have a friend who told Campbell he could build a name for himself even in defeat if he ran a spirited campaign. He did not and he lost. Badly.

Campbell *is* running a better campaign than in 2007. His team includes many of the same people who helped elect John Bel Edwards Governor in 2015. The problem is that Edwards was a better candidate than Foster and Bitter Vitter was a weaker candidate than Neely. That race featured a West Pointer versus Diaper Dave. The 2016 Senate race is more like Foghorn Leghorn versus Colonel Corpone. In the end, Senate races are a different beast altogether: they’re about national, not state politics. If the opposite were true, Mary Landrieu would have won a fourth term in 2014,

I am planning to vote for Foster Campbell in the run-off. It will be a clothes pin vote. There’s been some debate among my friends as to what kind of clothes pin it should be. One friend advocates a strong spring clamp, another a cast iron clothes pin. I’m sticking with the old-fashioned pinewood clothes pin since we’re having a hick vs. hick run-off. Or perhaps I should go Claes Oldenburg on their asses:

clothespin

Foster closes one of his teevee spots by shooting a shotgun, Joe Manchin-style. At least he isn’t running an ad with this closing line: “I believe that love is the answer but you oughta own a handgun just in case.”

As an antidote to that Neelyism, I’ll give Todd Rundgren and Utopia the last word:

Trump’s Thanksgiving Toddler Tantrum

Trump Turkey Tweet

In confronting the biggest liar in American political history, I claim the right to dramatic license, especially when alliteration is involved. At least that claim isn’t false like this one:

It turns out that the only “news site” that’s pushing this ludicrous story about “illegal aliens” voting is Alex Jones’ Info Wars:

Donald Trump’s campaign has yet to provide any evidence for the President-elect’s new claim that “millions” of votes cast by undocumented immigrants cost him the popular vote.

While elections officials and fact-checking websites have adamantly denied that any such widespread voter fraud occurred, one national news site has pushed this myth: conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ Infowars.

A widely-shared November 14 article from the site that alleged that “Trump may have won the popular vote” claims that “more than three million” votes were cast by non-citizens. As PolitiFact documented, the story is based off tweets from Gregg Phillips, a GOP operative who claims to be the founder of VoteStand.org, a voter fraud reporting app. It also cites a report from VoteFraud.org, though no such report exists.

Phillips told PolitiFact he was still analyzing and verifying data and refused to offer any additional information about how he arrived at the three million figure.

The whole thing is based on some tweets and a big lie, just like the Trump campaign itself. The problem is that some people believe this shit; in part, because the MSM continues to treat Trump as if  he occasionally tells the truth when he NEVER does so.

The latest twitter tantrum started as a way to divert attention from stories of conflicts of interest and internal staff strife. The claim that he won the popular vote turned a phony controversy into a real one over phony numbers. Autocrats love phony numbers.

In other Big Lie news, it looks like the Trumpers are setting up Willard Mittbot Romney for a fall. I was always skeptical that he was a serious contender for Secretary of State absent humiliating terms. I agree with Josh Marshall’s take on this:

But the current drama over Mitt Romney’s possible nomination to be Secretary of State points to something quite different: the ritual humiliation of opponents, critics and all who have resisted that Trump yoke that is central to the Trump world. We saw it repeatedly during the campaign and it continues into the transition.

If you haven’t kept up on this little sub-drama in the Trump mega-drama, Trump staffers have been floating word for days that Trump will require Romney to publicly apologize if he wants to be Secretary of State – almost literally a ritual humiliation to enter the Trump inner circle. More pointedly, Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway – now some sort of senior advisor to the transition – has repeatedly said in public that if Trump chooses Romney it would be a betrayal of Trump’s supporters. She said this most recently and floridly this morning on the CNN Sunday morning show.

<SNIP>

Dignity is the kryptonite of the Trump world. The dignity wraiths who have bowed down to Trump and given him their all instinctively look to destroy anyone who hasn’t. Like a mob capos who appear more eager to defend the boss’s honor and power than the boss himself but this mystery is beside the point.

A willingness to accept humiliation is part of the deal made by anyone who enters Trump World. Total submission is required, especially for those like Romney who have told the truth about the Insult Comedian in the past. I suspect he’s trying to convince himself that taking on this job would be an act of selfless patriotism instead of a journey into humiliation. I’m convinced he’s being set up for a different form of humiliation: being bypassed for a Trump loyalist. Willard should not take the bait. Instead, he should tell the world he does not want the job. Will he do it? Beats the hell out of me, but if he wants to keep his dignity he will. Look what happened to Chris Christie. He was demoted from butler to footman after the election.

I cannot believe I just gave sincere advice to a man I’ve mocked for years. It’s another example of what Trump hath wrought and why I will continue to treat the electoral college winner with the same respect that Republicans showed Barack Obama: NONE.

Vive les Maquis.

Abandon All Hope of Trump’s Improvement

Peggy Noonan still thinks someone is coming to save her: 

The press does not believe, not for a second, and Democrats do not believe, not for a second, that Mr. Trump will be able to change the habits of a lifetime. They are relying on it.

Mr. Trump shocked them by winning. He should shock them now with rectitude.

HE’S NOT GOING TO DO THAT. God, everyone with a functioning keyboard told you a hundred thousand times he was like this, and HE told you he was like this, and you said over and over that maybe he wasn’t going to be like this, and you’re still counting on salvation from above?

Grow the fuck up, Pegs, there is no Easter Bunny. I know it hurts your head to think filthy hippies might have a point here, but the pivot’s not coming.

I keep reading these stories: 

What happens next to the American republic will depend on whether Trump chooses to abide by, or can be restrained within, legal and bureaucratic limits—or whether his fellow partisans, seeking their own immediate political objectives, instead empower and enable him.

Yeah, this is in doubt. Whether the Republican establishment is going to restrain Trump.

The same Republican establishment that threw everything it had at him during the primaries and barely mussed his stupid muppet fur.

The same Republican establishment that spent the general election dithering and hedging and trying to figure out how to kiss HALF of Trump’s ass, in case this whole thing went south or in case it didn’t.

The same Republican establishment that was so enamored of small-d democratic principles that it shut down the government in protest of giving people health care? That spent eight years screaming about seekrit Muslims and gay marriage and refusing to confirm a goddamn Supreme Court nominee?

That’s the institution you’re thinking is going to grow a pair? That’s what you’re counting on? You might as well be praying to the Tooth Fairy. It would be just as effective and slightly less embarrassing.

Just stop it.

Nobody’s coming to save us from Trump.

Not the politicians who are trying to figure out how to cooperate with him while still yelling at him enough to make money. Not the news hairdos already running stories about what the Trump family Thanksgiving looked like. Not the electoral college or Jill Stein’s recount or Hillary contesting the results of the election.

Certainly not the Republican party which faced so few consequences for nominating a SERIAL SEX PREDATOR that they won the entire White House and larger majorities in Congress.

Why should they save the country from Trump? Why are we asking them to do what is not in their interest?

I said it right after the election and I’ll keep saying it: All we do now is save as many as we can. Keep giving me your suggestions for how we do that because that’s all that’s important now.

Nobody’s coming to save us. Certainly not from the GOP side of the aisle.

A.

Electoral College Blues

Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report has been crunching the numbers and it looks as if Hillary Clinton will win the popular vote by 2.5 million votes. That margin is greater than the following post-World War II popular vote/electoral college winners:

1976: Carter beat Ford by 1,683, 247 votes.

1968: Nixon beat Humphrey by 511,944 votes.

1960: Kennedy beat Nixon by 112,827 votes.

1948: Truman beat Dewey by 2,188,055 votes.

Our 19th Century electoral system has bitten us in the ass for the second time in five elections. Unfortunately, it’s how we elect Presidents. The only way to change the system is for a party that wins the electoral college to propose its abolition. Otherwise it sounds like sour grapes or sore loserdom. It’s terrible when, as in 2000 and 2016, the stakes are so high. In 2000, the electoral college elected a genial simpleton. In 2016, they elected a nasty sociopath. Calling the situation worrisome is a grotesque understatement, but hyperbole got us into this mess so a bit of understatement is not a bad idea.

There are some novel electoral college ideas floating around the internet. I wish I thought any of them could reverse the election but, as of this writing, I do not. There are some faithless electors who hope to blow up the system. I have my doubts there are enough of them to throw the election into the House. That’s not a happy solution either since Republicans control it and Ryan is on the verge of realizing his dream of destroying medicare. Why that should be anyone’s dream is beyond me but it’s his. Hence Charlie Pierce’s nickname for him: the Zombie Eyed Granny Starver. Much of our effort should be focused on stiffening the spines of Senate Democrats to prevent this calamity. F is for filibuster.

The disparity between the popular and electoral vote is troublesome, especially given the allegations about Russian hackers and spooks. Oh my. A voting machine audit is a capital idea BUT it’s unlikely to reverse the results. I think it *should* be done if only to lessen doubts on our side. Given HRC’s margin in the popular vote, there will *always* be doubts about the 2016 election. I harbor them myself but we’re more likely than not stuck with the Insult Comedian as our next President. Having said that, I will never accept his legitimacy. I plan to resist in whatever way that I can. Vive les Maquis.

A more promising reason to challenge the results is contained in a piece by New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman. I’m squeezing it in here because this piece was 95.4% finished.

Hillary Clinton is being urged by a group of prominent computer scientists and election lawyers to call for a recount in three swing states won by Donald Trump, New York has learned. The group, which includes voting-rights attorney John Bonifaz and J. Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society, believes they’ve found persuasive evidence that results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania may have been manipulated or hacked. The group is so far not speaking on the record about their findings and is focused on lobbying the Clinton team in private.

Deadlines are looming so Team Clinton needs to decide before cutting the turkey. I have no idea what will come of this but it means that Trump’s legitimacy is zip, zilch, and zero. Here’s a Yiddish word to annoy Bannon and the B3 Brownshirts: Bupkis.

(UPDATE: Data nerds Nates Cohn and Silver are skeptical of the claims made in Sherman’s piece. So it goes.)

The most thought-provoking piece I’ve seen about the Electoral College mess is by the Atlantic’s Peter Beinart. Here’s the money passage:

It is “desirable,” Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 68, “that the sense of the people should operate in the choice of” president. But is “equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station.” These “men”—the electors––would be “most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.” And because of their discernment—because they possessed wisdom that the people as a whole might not—“the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.”

As Michael Signer explains, the framers were particularly afraid of the people choosing a demagogue. The electors, Hamilton believed, would prevent someone with “talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity” from becoming president. And they would combat “the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.” They would prevent America’s adversaries from meddling in its elections. The founders created the Electoral College, in other words, in part to prevent the election of someone like Donald Trump.

It’s hard to argue that point. This situation is unprecedented. Like all Democrats, I wanted the Florida recount to continue in 2000. When it ended, I was all like: He’s Poppy Bush’s son, how bad can it be? We know how that turned out.

In 2016, we are confronted with an electoral college winner who is stupid, mentally unstable, and has authoritarian tendencies. His claim that he alone can decide not to prosecute his opponent is how dictators talk. I wish I had a clear idea of how to deal with this menace by legal, political means but I don’t. Pointing out problems is easy, coming up with solutions is hard.

Where do we go from here? I wish I knew. Resistance, in ways both small and large, to the new order is in order. It is still possible that Trump’s incompetence will save the Republic but we cannot count on it. Team Trump were somehow able to win the electoral vote.

In 2018, Democrats need to show up at the polls to express our disapproval at the ballot box. The obsession with the White House at the expense of down ballot races has become an unhealthy addiction. We need to kick it and focus on organizing at the state and local level. That’s how a party is rebuilt and how autocracy is prevented.

2016 really sucks the big one. Happy Fucking Thanksgiving.

I hate to end on such a hopeless note, so let’s play the ultimate Yes song:

It’s your move. Vive les Maquis.

Love at First Spite or, An Offer to Trump Supporters in the Spirit of the Season

In the spirit of the holidays, I have a proposition for our Trump-supporting friends.

Go ahead.

Say it.

Say, “Fuck you.” Say it to my face.

Say it to my liberal, city-dwelling, higher-educated, Democratic-Party-voting, Starbucks-swilling, Whole-Foods-shopping, Heather-Has-Two-Mommies-reading face.

Say it morning, noon and night.

Say it as often as you want. As loud as you want. Say it in front of my husband, my daughter, and all my friends. Say it over and over and over again.

Get it out of your system. So that the rest of us can GO BACK TO WORK.

That’s my present. That’s my gift to you, Trump supporters. That’s my extension of empathy and generosity and understanding, based on everything I’ve heard and everything I’ve read about you since the election.

You see, I understand you have been left behind by the economy. I understand you have been struggling for a while, even before the dot-com boom and bust, before the 2008 crash, before the anemic “recovery” that didn’t help you recover from anything.

But I understand something else, too.

The very smart Kathy Cramer, who I’m proud to have briefly shared an office with at one time, explained it for people who, unlike me, didn’t grow up next door to you: 

Racism is certainly a part of the story when these people make calculations about deservingness and who is or is not working hard. People would talk about opposing social programs because the recipients were lazy and not hardworking like themselves; those were often dog-whistle racist claims. But, at times, they were also talking about the laziness of desk-job white professionals like me.

So racism is a part of this resentment, but we are failing to fully understand these perspectives when we assume that racism is more fundamental than calculations of injustice. The two elements are intertwined. The way these folks described the world to me, their basic concern was that people like them, in places like theirs, were overlooked and disrespected. They were doing what they perceived good Americans ought to do to have the good life. And the good life seemed to be passing them by.

It’s worth noticing that Trump’s appeal to these folks is not about facts or particular policies. It is instead the act of delivering a message that resoundingly resonates with the perspective of someone identifying proudly as a resident of a type of place that the dominant urban society does not care about or respect.

I can’t do much about the location of the state capitals or the legislative schedule. I can’t make people’s representatives listen to them or interact with them, nor can I make people show up to the community meetings their reps might have. I can’t make anyone feel more comfortable in his or her skin any more than I can give anybody a job right now.

But maybe I can do something about the deep, abiding, burning need to tell someone who exemplifies what you hate to go straight to hell.

You want to prove you’re an underdog who tells the libtards who don’t respect you to go straight to hell, people?

You want to give the middle finger to everything that bugs you, including Happy Holidays at Macy’s, someone speaking Spanish on her cell phone at the restaurant, an ethnic scholarship at your high school, a gay storyline in your favorite police procedural?

Do it.

Make that stupid Hillary “KFC” joke ten times. Tell me the story about Michelle Obama putting crack pipes on the Christmas tree at the White House. Talk about how Bill Clinton is the biggest sex offender the world has ever known. Offer your opinion that “we” have “banned” God from “the schools.”

Ooh, call me a babykiller. That one never gets old.

Send me a hundred memes just like this one:

trumpsantajesus

I’ll post them on my Facebook timeline. I’ll nod and agree with anything you say. I’ll feel very, very bad about myself and everything I stand for. I may even cry, if that’s what it takes.

 

I am more than willing to take one for the team.

If.

IF.

In exchange, you vote for health insurance for your sick neighbors. You expand Medicaid for your state’s poorest residents. You don’t fight about food stamps and subsidized housing, in fact, you support them.

In exchange, you vote for punishment for companies that poison your water. You support jury awards of damages for corporations convicted of harm to the environment and the people who live in it.

In exchange, you vote for lowering the Social Security retirement age. You vote for increased funding for public education. You vote for restoring the Voting Rights Act and you vote for expanding it to every state in the union: No one gets to fuck with anyone’s vote without review or check.

You vote for honest-to-God campaign finance reform, and consideration of judicial appointees in a timely manner so that the fucking courts can do their job.

You vote for all that shit, and you can tell me to my face that I’m a lazy liberal who doesn’t understand the real world, and I will agree with you.

You make your life better, you make my life better, you make our country better, and you GET WHAT YOU WANT MORE THAN ANYTHING, which is to say fuck you.

I mean it. I’m sick of people I love suffering because you want to make a statement. Because you want to have feelings about your place in the world. Because deep down you get mad and sad that you are not being given a parade for showing up every day. Because you resent.

I’m offering you a way out. Go ahead.

Take it.

A.

 

Okay, What’s Next?

In Chicago, here’s what we’re doing: 

“This is the moment to really be organized and really be loving, hold everyone in love and bring people in,” said Luna White of the Chicago-based Black Youth Project 100.

University of Chicago political scientist Cathy Cohen said the country could do well to employ Chicago’s brand of movement-based organizing.

The city has a history of rallying around marginalized groups through the time-honored tradition of community organizing. Some recent successes involving young activists include a reopened trauma center at the University of Chicago, city council’s approvals of reparations for police torture and new policies focused on police accountability.

“Chicago’s a very, very good example for waiting for the right moment and being very, very organized about what kind of actions we do and when we do them and why and with who,” said White, who moved from Los Angeles to Chicago because of the city’s strong community organizing.

I’m personally not going to wait for 2020 to get anything done politically. In 2018 our garbage governor in Illinois is going to be up for election and I’m gonna be knocking on doors for whoever or whatever gets the nomination to run against him. Because in addition to starving social services and demonizing teachers, he stayed away from Trump until it was convenient not to: 

“I talked with the president-elect last Friday afternoon. We talked abut working together. It was a good, good, positive conversation. I had never spoken with him before,” Rauner said. “Two of his most senior folks in his administration are good personal friends of mine, and allies of mine in politics, so we’re going to have a voice and good relations.”

I’m not overly fond of Republicans but I really hate cowards and bullies, and Rauner refused to say Trump’s name when it looked like Trump was going to be liability. You can’t pretend to be principled and then give it right up the minute it’s no longer good for you.

You? What are your planned actions?

A.