Circus Maximus MMXVI: Hit me with your best shot

25 01 2016

This is terrific:

presidential-candidates-ranked-usefulness-bar-fight

I loves me some bar-fight imagery; when I had my last eye surgery I said (and if’n I ever get around to my next eye surgery, will say again) the bruises were from a bar fight.

Anyway, not every description is brilliant, but there are enough great lines to make it worth reading, and I think the author, Ali Davis, makes a good case for each of the rankings, and I like that s/he gives props to Lindsay Graham.

No, I’m not particularly a fan of Sen. Graham, but he gets entirely too much shit for not being He-Man, so yay, Davis, for turning that into a strength.

Anyway, there was never really a question as to who’d be number one, was there?

Plus, Clinton takes care of her own. If you’re on her team and you’re in a fight, she’s going to be breaking chairs over people’s backs. And I don’t know where she got that bike chain that she’s whirling over her head, but there’s no time to think about that now; just be glad you’re not the guy she side-kicked into the juke box.

There are all kinds of policy reasons to be disgusted with Clinton, but yeah, I can picture her swinging a bike chain above the fray before slamming it down hard on some jamoke’s noggin.

And I. . . kinda like that.

h/t Rebecca Schoenkopf





Free, free, set them free

19 01 2016

Consider:

Village Voice hed

Why, it’s almost as if they would have preferred Ronald Reagan’s method. . . .

Via.





Circus Maximus MMXVI: Dance this mess around

23 12 2015

I am old—I’ll hit a half century in 2016—so I have run out of patience for this kind of shit:

Hillary Clinton is just Republican lite

And, fucking hell, he had to make this a generational thing, as opposed to a self-satisfied-schmuck thing.

I’m not going to bother fisking Bragman’s “argument”, such as it is—Scott Lemieux at Lawyers, Guns & Money has been handling Bragman and others of his ilk quite nicely—but I do want to emphasize that when the 2nd-wave feminists argued the personal is political, this is not what they had in mind.

I get it: You don’t like Clinton. Fine. You don’t have to like Clinton. And the primary is the perfect place in which to register your preference for the senator from Vermont.

Hell, I plan to vote for Sanders (even if self-satisfied schmucks “feeling the Bern!” make me want to defenestrate my computer). And then I’ll go volunteer for the Clinton campaign.

You see, I know this election is not about ME ME M-FUCKIN’-E ME!

It’s about a chance to make things marginally better versus a chance to make things much worse, not just for me, but for folks in this country whose well-being ought to matter to any decent leftist.

Which the Bernie-or-bust bros, with their heads comfortably snuggled up their respective asses, are manifestly not.

~~~

Okay, so here’s where I also admit that I’m a hippy-hippy-forward-hippy-hippy-hippy-hippy-hippy-shake! hypocrite:

I voted for Nader in 2000. When I was old enough to know better.

Now, in my defense, I was living in Minnesota, which Gore had locked down, and I’m pretty (not, alas, absolutely) sure I would have sucked it up and voted for the vip had I lived someplace swing.

(And as an aside, if these Bern-burners live in states which are clearly in the tank for one party or the other, then, whatever, register your protest. But Bragman et. al. aren’t content simply with registering a protest: they loudly announce their preference any Republican to Clinton.)

But, yeah, I was pissed at Gore and even years into the Bush regime I liked to toss around the whole “he couldn’t even win his home state” bluster in response to (entirely appropriate) criticism of my vote.

I was an idiot. Not only would Gore have been a better president than Bush, he fuckin’ certainly would have been a better president than Nader. Who I voted for. For president.

Fuuuuck younger-me.

So maybe I’m particularly sensitive to these types “we’ll-show-’em!” of arguments because I am a convert away from them, and y’all know the converts are the most hard-core.

But it’s also worth pointing out how well that whole Gore Sucks movement worked out, how well that worked for the country, for the world—which is to say, calmly, quietly,

NOT FUCKING WELL AT ALL.

 





What good’s permitting some prophet of doom

15 12 2015

Ahem:

It’s a sort of Weimar Republic problem. The liberal left have the upper hand, and use it so carelessly and arrogantly, so totally despising those who disagree with them,  that they risk losing not just their own superficial gains, but the whole of free society. I believe this to be true, and have tried arguing it with members of the new elite, quite often. They haven’t been interested.

Excuse me Mr. Peter Hitchens but did YOU NOT READ MY LAST POST wherein I noted that THE LIBERAL PARTIES IN WEIMAR NEVER HELD A MAJORITY IN PARLIAMENT PAST 1920?!

No, no, you clearly did NOT.

~~~

h/t Rod Dreher

(And yes, I’ll continue my long-form diatribe tomorrow.)





We leave the door of Destiny ajar

14 12 2015

Superficially, one might see the resemblances between Weimar and the US:

  • the concern, even hysteria, over supposedly inhuman enemies
  • polarization in society
  • economic insecurity
  • sense of wounded nationalism
  • dizzying movements within the culture
  • distrust of government
  • violence

But even more apparent is the crucial difference between the two:

  • the acceptance of Constitution itself

This is crucial because, in Weimar, large portions of the polity never accepted the constitution, never accepted the republic.

Part of this was due to, as I mentioned, the post-abdication government’s acceptance of the Armistice, and of the signing of the hated Treaty of Versailles: the German public couldn’t believe it had lost, and considered the harsh terms of the Treaty unjust. That the loss of territory, control over industrial regions, and, of course, reparations, made economic recovery difficult only heightened the skepticism toward a government which had apparently allowed all of this to happen.

Not everyone felt this way, of course. While liberal parties never managed to hold a majority in the Reichstag after 1920, the Social Democrats, the German Democratic Party, and the Catholic Center Party did hold significant chunks of parliament throughout this period, with various liberals holding the chancellorship as well.

But even had the Constitution been configured differently—the chancellor was appointed by an elected president, he was not simply the leader of the majority party or majority coalition in the Reichstag—it’s difficult to see how the republic could have overcome the irreconcilable differences in the polity itself.

Germany was divided between the reactionaries (those who wanted to restore the monarchy), the conservatives (ranging from nationalist-bourgeoisie to militarists), and liberals (social democrats, liberal-bourgeoisie); tucked in amongst these were Catholic interests, which tended toward conservatism (fear and loathing of the left) but which also appreciated the chance to participate in governance; the Communists, which by the 1920s subordinated themselves to Moscow; and various fascist groups, which had almost no role in government but which fought and killed in the streets throughout the decade.

Finally, after 1925 and with the election of Hindenburg, the republic’s president was a man who loathed the republic.

But it wasn’t just the politicians and the parties (many of which had paramilitary arms which regularly engaged in violence), but the institutions of the state itself were cool to the republic. The civil service was thoroughly conservative, as was the judiciary as well as the army. Bureaucrats, judges, and military officials rarely attacked the republic directly, but they never accepted it as legitimate; in the case of the judiciary, they would often sympathize with rightists who were brought before the bench, and raising a “patriotic” defense was often the ticket to either acquittal or a lenient sentence.

So, for example, none of the surviving conspirators in the assassination of Foreign Minister Walther Rathenau served more than five years, and only one of the conspirators involved in the Kapp putsch served any time at all.

And, most famously, the man at the head of the beer-hall putsch in Munich, one Austrian corporal named Adolph Hitler (he didn’t become a German citizen until 1932), not only wasn’t deported, he was given free rein to speechify in court, and given only a five-year sentence in ‘fortress incarceration’—of which he served only a year.

The US polity is at least somewhat polarized (there is some controversy as to how much), but one touchstone for pretty much everyone is the Constitution: everybody who is anybody says they love it.

We don’t all love it the same way, of course, but does anyone think that the assassination of the Secretary State would lead to a sentence of less than 10 years? That the attempted armed overthrow of a state government (with the announced intention to overthrow the federal government) by a non-citizen would lead to prison term of merely 5 years? and that he’d be out after a year? and not deported?

In fact, for as violent a society as the US is, our violence is, largely, non-political. This hardly makes it benign (especially when perpetrated by officials of the state, i.e., the police), but neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have paramilitary wings and their members tend not to participate in assassination attempts of political figures.

Furthermore, when someone is killed for political reasons—say, a doctor who performs abortions—most political leaders will distance themselves from the act itself (even if they do express sympathy for the motive). Just as if not more importantly, prosecutors, juries, and judges tend not to wave away such murders.

In other words, whatever the problems with our republic, most citizens, most elected officials, and most of the members filling the institutions of government, nonetheless accept the structure of the government.

I am very critical of elected officials (say, some Republicans) who suggest that other elected officials (say, some Democrats) are illegitimate, in no small part because attacks on the existence of the opposition in government is an attack on the legitimacy of the government itself—a dangerous proposition for any member of government to take. But even with Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” and the birther conspiracies and Mike Huckabee’s intimations that the president is some kind of traitor  (Jesus FUCK, Huckabee!), I have no doubt that any attempt on the life of the president, members of his Cabinet, or of anyone running for president would be met by near-universal condemnation.

(Yeah, near-universal: there will always be those who celebrate assassination, and some of the public condemners might be private celebrators, but it would be understood by all that public glee at the murder of a public official punches one’s ticket to the fringe.)

Which is to say, as much as folks may dislike the government, it’s probably not going too far to say they’d dislike the violent overthrow of that government even more.

To be continued.





Willkommen!

14 12 2015

Fucking hell, ONE DAY after I make the absolutely authoritative and IRREFUTABLE argument assertion that the US is not Weimar, and Jeffrey Goldberg’s Twitter stream puts me on to this:

FireShot Screen Capture #035 - 'Trump’s Weimar America

No. No no no no no no no. Annnnnnnnnnd: No.

Question: Does Cohen state in any way how the US is like Weimar? He does not.

Oh, he goes on about anger and antipathy and xenophobia and bombast—as if these were new things in US politics—but says next-to-nothing about what Weimar was about.

The one thing he does mention, hyperinflation, he (correctly) dismisses: hyperinflation hit Germany in January 1923 (really, the inflation was bad even in the latter half of 1922), but by the following year was under control.

(Which is to say: those who think hyperinflation in 1923 => Hitler in 1933 are incorrect.)

So let’s look at Weimar, if only briefly.

The first thing to know is that the republic was formed out of the corpse of an authoritarian empire, an empire which lasted less than 50 years. Some conservatives had hated Bismarck’s Reich, believing the realpolitik behind its inception too cold, too practical; they wanted an expansive Empire, one which would compete with the UK and France, and which would dominated Europe.

At the onset of war in 1914, Germany failed in the former task, but it certainly was the strongman of the continent: it was the most populous state, and had the largest economy. The Kaiser’s government vacillated in its attempts to restrain the Hapsburgs, but when war came, the population was ecstatic: they were certain they would win, and that the glory, and riches, of victory would be theirs.

The government and the General Staff of the Army encouraged such thinking and then, as Germany’s fortunes turned in 1918, discouraged any counter-message through suppression and censorship; the Kaiser himself was only told of the need for surrender in September.

Oh, and can I pause here to note what shits were Generals Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff? They’d set up what was basically a ‘silent’ military dictatorship in 1916, and when their tactics failed, they disclaimed any responsibility for those failures. Hindenburg went on to testify, twisting the words of an English writer, that the German army had been ‘stabbed in the back’ and Ludendorff—such a shit—set up any following government for failure. According to Detlev Peukert,

he pressed for the formation of a new government, which would have to concede Germany’s defeat and accept the likely peace terms that would follow, from the majority parties in Parliament: the Social Democrats, the liberals, and the [Catholic] Centre. The eventual effect of this cynical manoeuvre, which absolved the ruling conservative and military leadership of responsibility for the consequences of its own failed war policy, was to inflict on the democratic parties the odium of the notorious Dolchstoß [stab-in-the-back], directed by stay-at-home-politicians against the fighting soldiers in the trenches. (The Weimar Republic, p. 27)

(Ludendorff, you will not be at all surprised to learn, was also involved in the 1923 beer-hall-putsch, although the court acquitted him. He was sidelined after an unsuccessful run for the presidency in 1925 (Hindenburg won), but remained involved in far-right politics until his death in 1937.)

Now, I’m spending a lot of time on this, and we haven’t even gotten to the republic itself, but the point is, that republic was targeted by its enemies even before it was born—and those enemies came not from outside of Germany,* but from its very center.

To be continued.

~~~

*Okay, not entirely true: German Communists, inspired and later directed by the Bolsheviks, were also opposed to the republic—they did, after all, attempt a revolutionary coup in early 1919—and they created no small amount of trouble for the republicans once the new government was established. Still, whatever power they had in the cities and in industrial areas, they had little power in the apparatus of the state itself.

n.b.: I updated what had been “1924 =>. . .” to “1923”.





Circus Maximus MMXVI: If you believed they put a man on the moon

13 12 2015

Trump is not a fascist and the US is not Weimar, 1930 or 1932.

Ah, fuck it. I was going to write a big, long post on what is fascism and what was Weimar, but, shit, I don’t think Trump will get the GOP nomination and while the US is a too-violent society, including too much political violence, the parties don’t have paramilitaries which members regularly assault and assassinate one another.

I mean, I might at some point post on Weimar—keee-RIST what a fascinating period!—but the thought of tying that fascination to an explication of the not-fascism of someone who will not be the GOP nominee just makes me tired.

I will say the main reason I don’t think Trump is a fascist is the main reason I don’t think he’ll win: the lack of organization.

Italian fascists: organized.

Nazis: organized.

Trump? Well, he has staff, some of them quite interesting, and apparently a great many paid organizers in Iowa, but how many of those staff and organizers actually know what they’re doing? Even Molly Ball, in a piece generally credulous about Trump’s organization, notes that

To be sure, Trump’s campaign isn’t totally standard: Few of his hires have presidential campaign experience; his Iowa chairwoman is a former contestant on his reality show, The Apprentice. He doesn’t have a pollster or a super PAC. Though his press secretary, Hope Hicks, occasionally tangles with the media, he frequently gets on the phone with reporters to speak for himself in articles about him, rather than deploying a spokesperson.

(She thinks that latter bit is “refreshing”, and that “more candidates should do it”—which, Jesus, is wrong—and thinks that the fact that “Trump just found a bunch of people he liked and hired them, and it’s working out great” means that his organization is up to snuff. Ask me sometime what I think of Molly Ball’s analytical skills.)

He is doing well in the polls, sure, but can he translate that into primary votes? According to this Tim Fernholtz piece, as of October he hadn’t yet purchased data on voters:

“The voter file is a foundational piece for any grassroots campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire,” Patrick Ruffini, a veteran GOP operative who founded digital agency Engage, told Quartz. “If Trump’s campaign were not using any voter file, even after being offered it by the RNC, that would be a pretty shocking statement.”

He and his staffers can talk all they want about his “unconventional” approach, but primary (and general) election voting is a grind: You have to identify people who are likely to vote for your candidate, make sure they actually will vote for your candidate, and get them to the polls. If you lack a voter database, you can’t identify your likely voters, can’t reach out to them, and can’t make sure they actually show up to vote.

Trump staffers are, apparently, getting “bushels” of voters’ names, and they’ve apparently been grinding through them, but it’s not clear how well those names grabbed at rallies and restaurants match up with voter files, and thus, not clear how well his staffers will be able single out those who are willing to say “Go Trump!” to a pollster and those who are willing to spend several hours locked in a room on a Monday night in February.

And even if the rest of the primaries aren’t caucuses, that is, that they do only require a quick jaunt behind the curtain, there are 50 more of them; does he have infrastructure—and is he willing to pony up the money for the staff—to make it to through Super Tuesday, much less to June?

I do recognize that I could be wrong about all of this, that Trump may have figured out how to crack the delegate-gathering process the same way he’s figured out how to crack into the campaign itself. It’s entirely possible that I, in following Jonathan Bernstein, Nate Silver, and the rest on the durability of the old model of successful primary campaigns, am getting it wrong.

But I don’t think so.

~~~

And fucking hell, I just wrote an entire fucking post on this man, even after saying I wouldn’t bother.  Sucked y’all in with that ‘fascism bit’ and taking a turn at ‘organization’. Man. Sorry about that.








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