Circus Maximus MMXVI: If you complain once more

15 04 2015

By the Fata Morgana, what is Peggy Noonan ingesting?

I don’t usually read Noonan—Charlie Pierce and Wonkette provide sufficient wrap-ups—but I caught an excerpt of her column in which she complains about the unfairness of the media:

Two points on the general feel of the 2016 campaign so far.

One is that in the case of Mrs. Clinton we are going to see the press act either like the press of a great nation—hungry, raucous, alive, demanding—or like a hopelessly sickened organism, a big flailing octopus with no strength in its arms, lying like a greasy blob at the bottom of the sea, dying of ideology poisoning.

Republicans know—they see it every day—that Republican candidates get grilled, sometimes impertinently, and pressed, sometimes brusquely. And it isn’t true that they’re only questioned in this way once they announce, Scott Walker has been treated like this also, and he has yet to announce. Republicans see this, and then they see that Mrs. Clinton isn’t grilled, is never forced to submit to anyone’s morning-show impertinence, is never the object of the snotty question or the sharp demand for information. She gets the glide. She waves at the crowds and the press and glides by. No one pushes. No one shouts the rude question or rolls out the carefully scripted set of studio inquiries meant to make the candidate squirm. She is treated like the queen of England, who also isn’t subjected to impertinent questions as she glides into and out of venues. But she is the queen. We are not supposed to have queens.

I honestly thought Pierce and the nasty good folks at Wonkette were exaggerating when they referred to her, uh, louche style, but now I’m wondering exactly how many lotuses she eats prior to laying down in front of her keyboard.

Marco Rubio had a pretty great announcement in that it made the political class look at him in a new way, and a better way. I have heard him talk about his father the bartender I suppose half a dozen times, yet hearing it again in his announcement moved me. I don’t know how that happened. John Boehner is the son of a barkeep.

I. . . it’s. . . Good goddess, who writes like this?

Okay, sorry, I got distracted by the vapors wafting off of her. . . thoughts. The real point in bringing this up is to bang away on one of my favorite pots: Fairness doesn’t matter in electoral politics.

It doesn’t matter if Noonan is correct in her assessment of the mild treatment of Clinton (she is not) and that GOPpers will be subject to the cruelest and most unusual punishment by the media (if only), because fairness itself doesn’t matter.

I get the complaints, I do—I hated Ronald Reagan and thought he skated from the ill consequences of his policies, and considered the press’s treatment of Al Gore juvenile (and I still don’t understand how Joe Biden gets away with what he does)—but in the long march to the presidency, the agita over media slights or mis-magnifications is itself misplaced.

Sure, it allows you (if you are Peggy Noonan) to fill column space with psychedaelia, but the candidates themselves can’t get bogged down in the media mire: whining about the news-meanies isn’t going to get the non-tribal voter to the polls.

And that’s the whole point of the campaign: to get the folks on your side to show up, and to prod those who aren’t on the other side (and maybe a few who are) to drag their asses to the polls and pull the level or draw the line or punch the screen for you.

Who knows, maybe in Noonan’s marmalade-sky world, slurring about fairness makes its own tangerine sense. But on that hard, hard campaign trail, it doesn’t matter.

Winning matters. That’s all that matters.

~~~

h/t Shakesville





If I’m so wrong

12 04 2015

Too many thoughts, not enough words.

No, that’s not right: too many thoughts in too many directions, words scattering after the thoughts.

I didn’t make the argument that pluralism is best protected by the one-law principle (I guess I’d call it), and have been stewing about how to brew up that argument.

David Watkins (aka “djw”) at Lawyers, Guns & Money had a couple of good posts, as did John Holbo at Crooked Timber—the comments are even more provocative than the original post—the latter of which spurred a multi-page effusion of thoughts that. . . led to no greater coherence of those thoughts.

So: more work to do.

One thing did seem worth mentioning now, however, and that is that I was wrong to assert that adherence to a one-law standard would be sufficient to protect and even promote pluralism: it would not.

I think it can protect pluralism, but not on its own. One addition might be a robust defense of one’s off-the-clock expressions against on-the-job discipline or punishments. That is, as long as someone performs her duties at work, what she says or does when not at work can’t be used against her by her employers.

There are issues with this, of course, in terms of salaried employees, or those for whom off-the-clock expressions might be fairly seen as relevant to the job (e.g., a fire fighter who hates Catholics or a teacher who argues that children of single parents are damaged), or for a boss or CEO who is to represent an entire company.

And that more is involved than just employers/employees implies that other principles/standards may be required.

As I said, more work ahead.





Circus Maximus MMXVI

18 03 2015

We have a winner!

As previously mentioned, “Bread and Circuses 2016″ was in the lead as the theme name for the upcoming ongoing presidential campaign, but when I came across this phrase, I thought Yessss.

To inaugurate this chariot race, let’s (re) consider the contenders:

Republicans, short- to long-shots:
Jeb Bush
Scott Walker
.
.
Chris Christie
Marco Rubio
.
.
Legit politician, could affect debates/win a state or two, no chance:
Ted Cruz
Lindsay Graham
Mike Huckabee*
John Kasich
Rand Paul
Rick Perry
Rick Santorum*

The entertainment:
John Bolton
Ben Carson
Carly Fiorina
Bobby Jindal

Update: *Included in “legit” category only because have actually held office and have chance of affecting the chances of other candidates; otherwise would, like Jindal, be slotted as “entertainment”.

Democrats:
Hillary Clinton
.
.
.
.
.
Joe Biden
.
.
.
Martin O’Malley
Bernie Sanders
Jim Webb

Do note that this list is near-completely impressionistic, i.e., I did no additional work beyond the mostly-casual reading I’ve been doing of the race thus far. Jonathan Bernstein is a clear influence (even if I don’t always agree with him) in terms of the significance of the invisible primary, and I did look at Larry Sabato’s list in compiling this one—although, again, I don’t necessarily follow his line.

Look to the “Know Yer Politics” links to the right for more-than-just-horse (chariot?)-race coverage. In the meantime, get your togas cleaned and your sandals resoled: it’s gonna be loooong 20 months.





Let us entertain you

27 02 2015

Yes, it’s well over a year out, but I’ma itchin’—itchin‘, I tell you—gas up the theme that’s gonna take us all through the sorry mess that it our presidential campaign season.

(Just what I’m itchin’ is none of yo business.)

Anyway, I thought of “Barn-burner 2016″,  but that’s rather too square-dance-ish, don’t you think? “Flash Mob 2016″? Stale.

I then considered something throwback and classic, but I couldn’t figure out how to whittle down “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” into something both recognizable and workable.

Then I went waaaaay back and classic—Roman Empire back-and-classic—and “Bread and Circuses 2016″ is now in the lead.

My only hesitation is that, as a bread-and-roses (good thing!) socialist, the bread-and-circuses (bad thing) bit may be misleadingly close.

Still, it does have a nice ring to it, and it brings to mind bloody gladiatorial combat designed to distract us from what’s really going down behind the velvet curtains.

(She said, rolling her hands over each other. . . .)

Oh, and I could of course deal with the filter issue for “Clusterfuck 2016″ thru elision or asterixing, (Clusterfck or Clusterf*ck), but, honestly that word describes so much of our politics that it seems a shame to confine to merely one election cycle.

Anyway. The quest continues.





Wrecking ball*

26 02 2015

So, Company Man Scott** has decided that union-bustin’ = freedom-fightin‘.

In response to a question about how to defeat ISIS/ISIL, he Manfully*** argued that:

“We need have someone who leads and ultimately will send a message that not only will we protect American soil, but…freedom-loving people anywhere else in the world. We need that confidence,” he said. “If I can take on a hundred thousand protesters, I can do the same across the world.”

Yes, because union members and protesters are JUST LIKE TERRORISTS.

[redacted curse]

[redacted curse!!!!!!]

[redacted redacted cuuurrrrsssssssseeeeeHOOOOOOooooowwwwlllllll!!!!!!!!!!!}

~~~

*I was initially thinking of Emmylou’s “Wrecking Ball”, but those for Miley Cyrus’s version—“I came in like a wrecking ball”—would work well, too. That video, tho’—huh.

**I do try to be at least somewhat mature in my presidential campaign posts, but as I’ve mentioned, Walker brings out the worst in me. Given the various names/descriptions I had considered before settling on this one (for this post, at least), “Company Man” seems downright neutral. I will try to bring my Howling Badger under control, but please understand that this is as much restraint as I could currently summon. Especially after a shitstorm like this.

***Yeah, yeah, big tough guv then has to whinge (yet again!) about his words being taken out of context and the media’s out to get him, sniffle-whimper-pout. You can take on unions and terrorists, but reporters are apparently too much for you.

****No, I don’t have anything quadruple-asterixed, above, but not for nothin’, I’m still in the market for a good 2016 campaign theme. I was thinking “Clusterfuck 2016″, but I do prefer a title that’s not going to get hung up naughty-words filters.





Love me, love me, say that you love me

23 02 2015

I am all in favor of Rudy Giuliani’s continuing contributions to our nation’s political discourse.

Anything that helps to reveal  what a shit Scott Walker is is allllllll right by me.

~~~

Does this post indicate incipient Walker Derangement Syndrome? Only if he wins, people, only if he wins—and you’d better believe I’m gonna do. . . um . . . something. . . to . . . kneecap his chances.

I really don’t need to spend 4-8 years howling into the wind.





Praise to thee, our Alma Mater

4 02 2015

I loathe Scott Walker.

That his politics are not my own should not, of course, surprise you, but that’s not what’s loathe-inducing about him.

No, what I hate about him is not so much that he’s conservative (whatever the hell that means, these days), but that he’s successful: he wants to wreck shit, and he does.

He wanted to destroy public unions in the state, and has pretty much done so.

He wanted to open up the great north woods of Wisconsin to mining interests, and has pretty much done so.

He wanted to slash Planned Parenthood’s presence in the state, and has done so.

He wanted to make a point about Obamacare, and has thus deprived poor Wisconsinites access to the expanded Medicaid program within the ACA.

And now he’s aiming for the University of Wisconsin system, seeking to further the process of privatization (which began decades ago) not just by further cutting state aid—$300 million in his latest budget—but by attacking the very collegiality of university governance itself.

Oh, and the swipe that professors don’t work hard enough? That’s a freebie.

The University of Wisconsin system, which has existed in various forms for almost 170 years. Compared to the University of Bologna or the University of Paris, each established in the Middle Ages, that’s nothing, but it is as old as the state itself (both were established in 1848), and has arguable played a key role in the growth of that state.

Not just in terms of economics and industry, but in terms of an ideal and a promise, a public institution in the best sense of the term.

And now Walker wants to cut it down to size, to cut it loose from both the citizens of the state and the citizens of the university, to turn it into a giant work-training facility.

And I loathe him because he might just succeed in bringing my beloved alma mater to its knees.

There is one bright spot: an early draft of a bill had deleted the phrase that “the search for truth” is “basic to the purpose of the sytem”, but apparently that was “a drafting error”, and the search for truth remains.

I doubt very much that it was a drafting error, and has only been re-inserted after its deletion was publicized. Perhaps this means that this terrible idea can be stopped.

But I had thought all of those previous terrible ideas would be stopped, and they weren’t. In fact, they were either popular enough to get him/not-unpopular enough to prevent him from being re-elected.

So, yes, I admit it: I loathe him because he’s effective. He’s good at wrecking what I believe makes Wisconsin a decent place to live, to work, to learn, and to wonder, to think that there could be something more, something better.

~~~

At least he’s given me a theme to use for his presidential campaign: Walker—Wrecking Ball 2016.








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