You’ll meet an army of me

16 10 2013

Remember this?

Image by Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

One of the reasons I like this photo is that, as I’ve mentioned before, it gives nightmares to all the right people.

I thought of this in response to this bit from the geniuses at NBC:

The GOP’s lost year: No matter the fallout, this is pretty clear: Almost a year removed from the Obama-Romney presidential election, 2013 has been a lost year for the Republican Party. Has it improved upon its image problem? Nope. Has it fixed its shortcomings with women and minority voters? Nope. Is it in a stronger place than it was in Oct. 2012? No way. Perhaps more than anything else, the GOP remains blinded by the health-care law — and by President Obama himself (who will never run for office again). Indeed, in some ways, you could see this entire shutdown/debt ceiling debate over the president’s health-care law as a replay of the House GOP’s impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998 — a last-ditch fight against the term-limited incumbent. The good news for the Republican Party is that the Clinton impeachment is a reminder that its problems can be fixed. After all, the GOP won the White House just after Clinton’s impeachment. (emph added)

Coupla’ things: One, while the GOP did take over the White House in 2000, its “win” was. . . arguable. It lost the popular vote and was greatly helped by both poor ballot design in Florida and a Supreme Court operating at less than peak wisdom.

Two, Al Gore ran away from Clinton, who, arguably, could have helped him. Gore was more freaked out by Clinton’s terrible behavior than the voters, a freak-out which prevented him from making use of Clinton’s considerable political skills.

Three (albeit a very minor point), Chuck Todd, et. al., overlook the fact that in the election after the shutdown, Clinton was re-elected. Yes, he probably would have been re-elected anyway—incumbency advantage—and the shutdown occurred much closer to the elections than this one, and I can see why they chose to compare the impeachment to the current debacle (GOPpers behaving badly), but still.

And four, a point which leads me to include the pic of thundering Hillary, the pundits seem to think that the GOP’s gibbering will end with the end of the Obama administration—not considering that another Democratic president—say, a female one—might not lead to what little brain matter remains to boil away completely.

The fever will not break; it can only be broken.

~~~

h/t Andrew Sullivan





Mayan campaign mashup 2012: Wrap it up

11 11 2012

And so ends the election season.

A few last points before I lay this theme to rest:

1. Winning is nice. I’ll enjoy it while I can, because wins don’t last. (And for those who lost, don’t despair:  losing doesn’t last, either.)

2. I understand how and why it happened—Gingrich, Trump, Cain, Santorum, Perry, Bachmann—but I’m still amused that the Republicans nominated the man who lost to the man who lost to Barack Obama in 2008.

3. Similarly, while I understand why it happened, it seems to me that a man who made his fortune as a financier was not the best person to send into the ring in the midst of a shaky recovery from a savage recession. It could have worked—turnaround specialist!—but that’s not really what Romney did, and his political personality didn’t allow him to transcend the sense that he was the boss who fired you, not the boss who hired you.

4. I won’t diagnose the ills of  the Republican Party or recommend fixes because a) I am not a Republican and b) concern-trolling is annoying, and c) I’d rather put my efforts in trying to figure out a left-political program than a right-political program.

(And that, it seems, is necessary. Barack Obama deserved the votes of leftists not because he was leftist but because, unlike his opponent, he would at least inch us toward something better. Those of us on the left need continually to make sense of that something better, and to find effective ways to blunt policies which are decidedly not better, e.g., regarding secrecy, surveillance, and the drug war. Oh, and that whole capitalism and immiseration thing.)

5. That said, developing some sort of philosophy of or program for governance might be worth considering. “No!” is a slogan, not a platform.

6. It is entirely too soon to begin speaking intelligently about the chances for possible candidates in 2016. For those who might want to run, however, it is not, unfortunately, too soon to begin thinking about it, and in a year (and certainly in two) to begin working toward it.

That is among the many reasons I am very glad that I am not now nor will I ever be a candidate for president of the United States.

7. That presidential campaigns are multi-year endeavors is a pox on our polity.

Election campaigns and governance are not the same thing, and what is required to win in elections can be detrimental to good governance. To the extent that we are fully in an era of the permanent campaign bodes ill for said governance.

8. I take back nothing I said about the “everything goes” nature of presidential campaigns, and I expect that same sensibility to drive the 2016 race.

Now, that lying didn’t always work this campaign doesn’t mean it won’t be a part of the toolkit for future campaigns—although, again, smart tacticians will recognize when such lying is counterproductive. Romney was able to make deft use lies during the primary, but the Obama campaign was much swifter (first debate excepted) in rebutting those lies than were Romney’s fellow Republicans, which meant that lying should have been abandoned in favor of more effective tactics.

The Romney tacticians didn’t do so, which speaks poorly of their abilities.

9. To be fair to those same tacticians, however, the road to the White House is always steeper for the challenger than for the incumbent—that’s just how it is.

There’s plenty of easily-available information on the advantages of incumbency, as well as the role that a declining, advancing, or stagnant economy plays in the election. The US economy was/is still weak in 2012, but it is also clearly in recovery. The Romney campaign focused on the first part without taking account of the second, and thus were unable to shape a message which matched the reality.

10. How much campaigns matter is still up for debate, but in the face of uncertainty, it seems prudent to act as if the campaigns mattered more than anything.

Romney said in his concession speech that he and his staff “left it all on the field”, and I don’t doubt that. But it’s also clear that the Obama campaign was demonstrably superior in organization, especially in voter mobilization. Whatever Romney left on the field, Obama had more, and better.

And, of course, Obama was a good candidate. Yes, he was flat in the first debate, but that misstep was so magnified in part because it was so rare. Romney wasn’t terrible as a candidate, but as the challenger he needed to be much, much better than the incumbent. He was not.

~~~

Herein lyeth the end of the Mayan campaign mashup of 2012. May we all find some peace and comfort before the circus beginneth again.





Mayan campaign mashup 2012: It was sad, so sad

9 11 2012

I am so enjoying the wailing and gnashing of teeth among celebrity conservatives.

Oh no, we lost America! America died! The makers have taken over! Alas and alack, we are ruined! No marriage, no babies, just guns and ammo and hunkering down for the coming doom!

Et cetera.

TNC has a post up on the denialism of such reactions, and many, many others have corralled the increasing number of howls into lists of lamentations and these are all so. . . incredibly. . . amusing.

I have zero sympathy for the pundits and professional liars, so my joy in their sorrow is pure.

Regular folks, though, the people who make no money spinning bullshit into gold but who honestly believe that Republicans have the best ideas and that the country will now be worse off under Obama than it would have been under Romney, I do sympathize with them.

I’ve been there. It hurts. It hurt to care and believe and work and lose. It always hurts to lose.

There’s a tumblr called White People Mourning Romney that, yeah, I clicked through, but I felt bad for doing so (and am thus not linking to it). There are a few screenshots of the Fox-Cons, but most of the pictures were of ordinary Republicans looking sad.

I didn’t enjoy that. People shouldn’t be mocked for caring about their country or hooted at because they wanted to win and are crying because they lost.

Politics is about a lot of things, but at the center of it is love. Karl Rove might believe the crap he spews, but he’s also paid to spew; the volunteers and voters just believe, and they do the work because they love their country and believe that their ideas and politicians are the best for the country.

Yes, some of them hate—politics is also about hate—and motives regardless are almost always mixed. But let’s give the ordinary losers the dignity of their love and hope and dreams.

As for the rest of them—Krauthammer and O’Reilly and Coulter and Lopez and that whole lot—-do not let pity interfere with your enjoyment of their dismay.





Mayan campaign mashup 2012: Tangled up in blue

7 11 2012

David Shankbone, Creative Commons License 2012

Beautiful!





Mayan campaign mashup 2012: We don’t need another hero

6 11 2012

Presidents are not heroes.

Even the best of them—the brave, the wise—are leaders, not heroes. They are not here to save us, from ourselves or anyone else, but to guide us through the present and into the future with an open heart and an open mind and with malice toward none.

President Barack Obama is not a hero. President Barack Obama will not save us.

President Barack Obama is a leader.

There are things I like about his presidency and things I don’t, and I doubt that the things I don’t like—the continued drug war, the unilateral and heavy use of drones, the timidity on global warming, among others—will change much in a second term.

But the things I like—his efforts to use the state for rather than against the vulnerable, the concrete recognition of the rights of women to control their (our) own sexuality and for queer folk not to be punished for their (our) sexuality, good Supreme Court picks, his measured approach to international affairs—point the way toward a future which just might be better than it would otherwise be.

April 14, 2010. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Barack Obama, 2012.





Mayan campaign mashup 2012: Hold it steady, hold it steady

2 11 2012

I’m off shortly to volunteer unloading and distributing relief supplies, an effort organized by the Red Hook Initiative, (and found through the Brokelyn website, via the Red Hook Recovers Twitter feed)—but before I go, a bit o’ political prognostication.

I think Barack Obama is going to win, both the popular and Electoral College votes, and by a comfortable margin. Not overwhelmingly, not a landslide, but with, say, more than 290 electoral votes.

And since I’m in a predicting frame of mind: The Dems retain the Senate, and while they pick up some seats in the House, Republicans will likely control that chamber.

I’m really going out on a limb, I know, but I’m usually allergic to predictions and this time I just feel so. . . calm about this.

This is not normal for me. I usually try to game the worst that could happen and prepare myself for that, partly because I genuinely believe the worst will happen, and partly as a hedging strategy: better to be pleasantly than unpleasantly surprised.

My new-found serenity may be due to an (over-)attentiveness to polling aggregators and explanations of Obama’s small-but-persistent edge by Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight as well as by John Sides  and the folks at The Monkey Cage and Jonathan Bernstein at a plain blog about politics: they offer good probabilistic evidence for confidence in re-election.

Still, I’ve rarely let evidence get in the way of my neuroses before, so why the calm this time?

I dunno, I truly don’t. Maybe it’s the sense that even if Obama loses and we end up with President Romney (may those words never truly be joined), things will be worse than they’d have to be, but we’d survive. Hell, we’re still here after eight years of the thoughtless, careless George W. Bush as president, so would the empty privilege of Willard Mitt Romney destroy us? No.

Anyway, since I’ve been quietly confident of the president’s re-election for some time, it seemed only right that I put it out there—if only to take my licks if I’m wrong.

But this time, this time I think it’s going to be all right.





Red rain is pouring down: FrankenStormMageddonLypse!!! (Mayan campaign mashup 2012/We might as well try combo edition)

29 10 2012

That headline may not be long enough.

Anyway, I was going to lead with snark—I snapped a coupla’ pics yesterday that showed precisely nothing happening, weather-wise—but since the air pressure has dropped so much I can feel the blood pulsing in my face, my snark has dissipated  right out the window.

The bite, however, the bite remains, so of course I’ll chew on Mitt Romney’s ass for suggesting that the federal government get out of the emergency management business:

First Romney says: “Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better. [emph added] Instead of thinking, in the federal budget, what we should cut, we should ask the opposite question, what should we keep?”

“Including disaster relief, though?” debate moderator John King asked Romney.

His response:

We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.

Makes perfect sense to worry about the well-being of those in the future, because using the federal government to keep people safe now certainly is craaaazy.

Two further thoughts: One, such sentiments indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of business, which is to make money. How will business make money from people who have none? Who is going to hire these private actors to clear trees and debris and search for survivors and bodies and repair roads and bridges and homes? If the feds don’t step in to pay these folks, who is going to do it?

Which leads to the second thought. Romney and his ilk may want to send this responsibility back to the states, but how many states can afford to take on this responsibility?

(And a third, stray, thought: weather tends to stray across state boundaries, so some kind of supra-state entity—like, say, FEMA—to coordinate responses might just make sense.)

If a President Romney (may these two words never be joined) were to get his way, it probably wouldn’t affect me all that much. I live in a wealthy city in a reasonably wealthy state, so if any place could take care its own, it would be New York.

But Louisiana? Misssissippi? Alabama? Screwed.

That ain’t right. No, I like neither the weather nor the politics of these places, but they are a part of the United States and the people who live in those states deserve both security and dignity. And if their states can’t or won’t provide it for them—if those same people vote for politicians who don’t care about their security and dignity—well, then, goddammit, the rest of us, via the federal government, should.

Let me be as explicit as possible: Not only do I not mind that my tax dollars would go to states and localities which may want to have nothing to do with my kind, I think my tax dollars should go to those places, if that’s where the need is.

And no, I don’t expect them to be particularly grateful, if only because citizens of this nation should expect that their fellow citizens will take care of them.

Because that’s what it means to be a citizen: To take care of one another, to take care of where and how we all live with one another.





Mayan campaign mashup 2012: I ain’t no limburger!

28 10 2012

John Sununu, Romney surrogate and White Man, discerned the only possible reason for Colin Powell to have endorsed Barack Obama:

SUNUNU: You have to wonder whether that’s an endorsement based on issues or that he’s got a slightly different reason for President Obama.

MORGAN: What reason would that be?

SUNUNU: Well, I think that when you have somebody of your own race that you’re proud of being President of the United States — I applaud Colin for standing with him.

That’s some mighty fine deduction, John—may I call you John? Feel free to call me Absurd—so I hope you don’t mind if I extend your logic.

You’re a white man, right? Thus, by your reasoning—and I want to give you full credit for this calculus, John—according to your logic, the reason you’re voting for Romney is because he’s white.

Wait, there’s more! Clearly, you are a man, as is Mitt Romney, so, again, applying your own logic, you’re voting for Romney because he’s a man. (Since both Barack Obama and Colin Powell are men, I guess this one is a wash.)

I gotta bit of a corker for you, John. I’m a short white bisexual woman voting for a tall black heterosexual man.

What does this mean?!

Okay, sure, I’m a leftist, so perhaps that whiteliberalguilt thing is at play; does this mean you’re voting for Romney out of whiteconservativeguilt?

(And what is whiteconservativeguilt, anyway? Isn’t that just resentment?)

And that I’m a woman—HolyMaryMotherofGod, what do I do with this? I mean, it’s obvious, as I noted above, that you’re voting for Romney because he’s a man, but why oh why would I as a woman vote for a man?

I mean, that’s. . . that’s. . .that’s absurd, isn’t it?

There must be something else going on, right, John? John? Hellooooo. . . ?





Mayan campaign mashup 2012: Which side are you on?

22 10 2012

I have no idea how this debate will play.

Obama seemed strong* to me, Romney less so, but, honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Romney supporters thought he won.

And the undecideds?

Oh, do you want to hear another curse-filled rant? No, I am not feeling kindly toward those folks who haven’t decided between Romney and Obama.

Deciding between 3rd-party candidate (conscience) and Romney or Obama (compromise)? Okay. Between voting (principle, ideal) and not voting (resignation)? Okay.**

But between Romney and Obama ? Not okay, because in this case there are clear policy differences between the two candidates, differences which will not change between now and election day. If you don’t know if you want Romney or if you want Obama to be president then you don’t know what you want.

Oh, I’m picking on those poor undecideds, who insist that they’re really high information! Really!

Consider Buzz Bissinger, who’s so, so disappointed in Obama and so, so dispirited by his first debate performance that he’s decided to support Romney:

Buzz: But what has been the Obama policy? It seems it has been to use government to create jobs. I agree with it to some degree, [emph added] like the auto bailout (although GM still owes taxpayers about $50 billion), but government cannot become our major employer. That is not what America is about. And I think fundamentally that is what Obama thinks America is about — government as a social engine.

Jamelle: There’s no evidence anywhere that government is on our way to becoming the major employer. In fact, the economy has lost 600,000 public sector jobs in the last three years. It’s been a huge burden on the recovery, actually.

Buzz: I have absolutely no issue with Obamacare. It was right and it was bold. [emph added] I do think the costs are going to be far more prohibitive than we think. Placing cost containment in the hands of a panel is a joke: It never works.

But didn’t the stimulus and the auto bailout, all funded by the government, create private sector jobs?

Jamelle: They did, but that’s not the same as the government becoming an employer. If I get $100 from the government, buy some stuff, and that allows a business to hire more, those new jobs aren’t “government jobs.”

Buzz: You are splitting hairs. It is the government as the funder with taxpayer money.

. . .

Buzz: Call me a naive idiot, but I think Romney does care about a hundred percent of all Americans. More than Obama. All Obama is doing now is pandering to the middle to win. He does not like the wealthy, even though he has been fairly kind to them tax wise. [emph added] He has created class warfare. The wealthy in this country are not outsiders. They are not pariahs. They are part of the country. He treats them like outcasts.

Okay, unlike your interlocutor, I’ll call you a naive idiot. Especially when you continue to blame the president for the obstructionist policies of the Republicans in Congress and complain that he hasn’t done enough to reach those Republicans while simultaneously complaining that he hasn’t been tough enough.

Oh, and for saying that what really did it was that first debate performance: “I will never forgive Obama’s performance.” [emph added]

Actually, naive idiot [emph added] might be too kind.

And then there’s Scott Adams, who’s turned on the president over the continued war on drugs:

One could argue that the President is just doing his job and enforcing existing Federal laws. That’s the opposite of what he said he would do before he was elected, but lying is obviously not a firing offense for politicians.

Personally, I’d prefer death to spending the final decades of my life in prison. So while President Obama didn’t technically kill a citizen, he is certainly ruining this fellow’s life, and his family’s lives, and the lives of countless other minor drug offenders. And he is doing it to advance his career. If that’s not a firing offense, what the hell is?

Romney is likely to continue the same drug policies as the Obama administration. But he’s enough of a chameleon and a pragmatist that one can’t be sure. And I’m fairly certain he’d want a second term. He might find it “economical” to use federal resources in other ways than attacking California voters. And he is vocal about promoting states’ rights, so he’s got political cover for ignoring dispensaries in states where medical marijuana is legal.

So while I don’t agree with Romney’s positions on most topics, I’m endorsing him for president starting today. I think we need to set a minimum standard for presidential behavior, and jailing American citizens for political gain simply has to be a firing offense no matter how awesome you might be in other ways.

And the evidence that Romney would be better than Obama on the drug war? He’s a slimier bastard than the president!

I don’t care if these guys are voting for Romney, I really don’t, but when Bissinger claims he’s a high-info voter and Adams waves the rationality flag in support of his support for Romney, I have to wonder if we have the same understanding of the meaning of “high-information” and “reason”.

~~~

*Not that I loved everything he had to say (defense spending, drones drones drones) or didn’t say (anything about Mexico, Latin America, the drug war), but I’m not put off by a moderate-liberal Democratic president not veering too far off the America-is-aces path—given our politics, it’s gotta be done.

**Won’t explain tonight why it’s different—maybe because these are more forthrightly mood-affiliation choices as opposed to those which are allegedly about policy. Maybe if the undecideds were more honest about the fact they don’t know what they want and are simply waiting for their pleasure-buttons to be pushed I’d be less frustrated. But probably not.





Mayan campaign mashup 2012: That’s what I like

16 10 2012

Aaaand here it is:

The sweet spot is from 5:44 to 6:45—and note the expression on the president’s face at 6:36.

~~~

Why so satisfying?

1. There are legitimate questions about security at the Benghazi consulate, which existence in turn created an opportunity for Romney not only to re-fashion a better response to the killings than his initial one, but to press Obama on security lapses.

2. Romney muffs it.

3. Obama not only defends himself, he goes on the offensive, and in getting visibly angry, smacks Romney to the back wall.

4. Romney makes it worse.

Nice!








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