Rollin’, rollin’ rollin’

18 04 2017

Grading, grading, grading. . . .

Okay, that’s not the only reason for my silence. I’ve been thinking about a particular post and what I wanted to say and it all just got bigger and more complicated and more. . . ugh.

I don’t really need to write it—others are writing on the same topic—and, honestly, I’m probably not in the best frame of mind to write it.

It’s about the election, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Bernie Sanders.

(You get the “ugh” now, don’t you?)

I mean, I might at some point look particularly at the Trump campaign and what it did to burn through the Republican field and then to beat Clinton, but a big “Here’s the thing. . .” piece? Nope.

Why aren’t I in the best frame of mind to write it? Because I get really fucking angry even thinking about it, and anger and clarity do not mix well in my noggin.

It’s not even a reasonable ire at, say, the FBI and James Comey, or at the media—well, okay, a little bit at the media—but at the Berniesta dead-enders.

These folks are in no way the majority of Sanders supporters and, frankly, deserve no more attention that Jill Stein stans. But, goddammit, I keep running into them on Twitter and, yes, this means I should lay off Twitter but I kinda dig Twitter even though it drives me crazy so I won’t, and I keep getting pissed off.

God, even thinking about why these people piss me off is pissing me off.

Okay, lemme at this sideways. The particularities of the pissiness comes down to two, interrelated phenomena: the sanctification of the senator, and the bullshit illogic that the the only reason he lost to Clinton is that she cheated and the proof of this cheating is that Bernie lost.

That latter bit is bad sportsmanship, and I fuckin’ hate bad sportsmanship.

Yes, matches may be fixed and there is cheating in politics, but you have to bring, y’know, EVIDENCE of such cheating beyond an unhappy outcome.

And no, a party saying “you have to join the party in order to influence the party” is not evidence of cheating, nor is it unfair that long-standing Democratic politicians and activists would prefer, y’know, the long-standing Democratic candidate to the temporary-Democratic candidate.

Anyway, the bigger problem might be the former one: that Sanders is perfect and deserves no criticism, ever. Again, I don’t see this among most Sanders fans, but treating Sanders, or any politician, like some kind of savior is truly, madly, deeply wrong.

He’s a good and decent man, a good and decent senator who continues to pound on an issue which requires constant pounding: economic inequality. Good. Go Bernie!

But there are other issues, including ones related to that inequality, about which he doesn’t have much to say. That’s fine, really: no one can cover everything, and there are others who can air out those things. To mention this to Sanders-zombies, however, is to imply that He is Not Perfect, which is quite literally unbelievable. If Sanders must be right at all times and in all things, then any who disagrees or criticizes must be a heretic.

This is just shit politics. Like your politician. Love your politician. Volunteer for your politician—by all means. I really liked Obama, greatly admire him, and don’t think I will see a president as good as him in my lifetime. I think he is an exceptional man who failed well at an impossible job.

But there were things I didn’t like about his policies and questions I have about some of his decisions, and I am grateful for those good critics of his immigration, national security, and transparency policies in particular. And I think that some of the criticism he received regarding our carceral state helped to move him—alas, perhaps too late—toward some reform of our prison-industrial complex.

He was my president, and I was glad he was president. He wasn’t perfect, and didn’t expect to be treated as such, either.

I’m guessing that Bernie Sanders knows he’s not perfect and accepts that even those who quite like him might nonetheless wag a finger or two at him. Now, if only his worshipers could accept this as well.





Circus Maximus MMXVI: Let’s get it on

8 06 2016

And now there are two.

Bernie Sanders put up a hell of a fight, and I don’t know that anyone, including he, thought he’d last into June. And if he wants to go thru the DC primary, well, why not? He’s earned it.

Side note1: Bernie gets to be a little pissed off about losing and given a little time to get over his pissiness. As others have pointed out, he ran a hell of a campaign, but wasn’t prepared to go the distance against someone who has been all kinds of prepared since long before 2008.

I was ambivalent, for different reasons, about both Sanders and Clinton, but of course I am not at all ambivalent about the choice between the two-time senator and former secretary of state and the burnt sweet-potato french fry and real estate brand man. There will be no reluctance whatsoever in ticking off her name in November.

I’m also about as worried about Bernie-or-busters as I was about the PUMAs in 2008: not at all. Sure, some will hold out, but most will shrug and sigh and maybe mutter a curse or two as they, too, pull the lever/punch the ticket/connect the arrow next to Clinton’s place on the ballot. Doesn’t matter: a reluctant vote counts as much as an enthusiastic one.

Side note2: Some political scientist have floated various voting reforms which would allow someone to register the intensity of the vote—say, give each voter 5 points and allow her to allot them as she sees fit. I don’t have an opinion one way or another about this, but, as every fervid backer of every losing candidate has been pained to discover, pulling that lever extra hard doesn’t make your vote count more than once.

Still, it sucks to lose, so I’ll wait a week or so before telling the Busters to pull their heads out of their asses and vote against the giant orange bathroom troll.

I have no idea what will happen over the summer or how the vote will go in the fall. I didn’t think Trump had the organizational stuff to pull off a nomination win, but he did, so I don’t know what to do with stories of his lack of organization for the general. I think it’ll matter, but how much? I ain’t guessing.

I do think Clinton will put together a pretty fucking good general campaign. Her husband was arguably a net negative during the primary—he can get surly when arguing with the left—but he’s golden when going after the right. I think Sanders will continue to burn it down in college towns, even if he mentions his own agenda more than Clinton.

And then there’s the little matter of a generally popular president who is crazy popular with the Left Set. If only out of self-interest (and I’d guess, probably a bit than that), he’ll campaign for the person who can protect and extend his achievements.

So: the preliminaries are over. Let the games begin.





Circus Maximus MMXVI: Oh won’t you stay just a little bit longer

14 04 2016

It helps to have low expectations of one’s president.

I think that’s a big part of why I’m not really into the Democratic primary: there’s nothing about either of them which leads me to think he or she would be an A-MAZING president.

I like Sanders’s focus on economics and that Clinton’s a hard-ass; I don’t know that Sanders would be that effective and I distrust Clinton’s instincts. That said, I think both would bring in good people to help compensate for their respective weaknesses. So, y’know, they’re both fine.

Still, like many others, I do think that a president can exceed expectations, and when that happens, it’s hard to say So long.

It’s gonna be hard for me to say So long to President Obama.

Oh, there are all kinds of policy decisions with which I disagree with him, and there are certainly disappointments—you probably have your own list—but man, this guy just gets presidenting.

It’s true that I prefer a cool to a hot temperament (not least because I run towards hot, so am unimpressed with it), but I also think a president has to have some kind of core calmness if he or she is to do the job. It’s an impossible job: the president has to make far too many decisions based on both too much and too little information and more often than not has to try to control situations which are not controllable. Thus, the person in that chair has to reconcile him- or herself to the absurdities of the powerlessness of the most powerful position on the planet if he or she is to have any chance at all at failing well.

And yes, he or she will fail, precisely because it is an impossible job. The only issue is will she or he fail well or fail miserably.

President Obama has failed well, exceedingly well. He has grown into his role rather than having been shriveled by it. He seems, against all odds, to enjoy being president, perhaps because he’s never much paid attention to odds.

I wonder if this is how Republicans feel or felt about President Reagan: that the job of the president just seemed to fit him.  That I hated Reagan’s policies meant I was never able fully to see the man’s political gifts, and as Bill Clinton (who wasted what gifts he did have) was the only Democratic president in my adulthood, there were few opportunities for wistfulness at the end of a presidency.

But yeah, I’m wistful. For all of his faults and for all of my disagreements, I’m going to miss Barack Obama in the White House.

I don’t think I’ll see in my lifetime another president who will fail as well as he has.





Circus Maximus MMXVI: Glad I’m not a Kennedy

7 04 2016

Really, glad I’m not a Republican.

I’m mean—yeah, given my views, obviously—but at least I don’t think either of the Democratic candidates is a dumpster fire. I’m not particularly enthusiastic about either, but, like Rebecca Schoenkopf and the Wonketteers, I’m pretty much they’re both fine, they’re both good.

Which is to say: what I like about each is what I distrust about each: Clinton’s practicality and Sanders’s impracticality. I’d say Let’s try to merge ’em, but then we’d end up with someone like Rod Blagojevich: completely cynical and a little insane.

(As an aside: this horseshit about Clinton’s ambition to be president as somehow bad is, shall we say, pretty rich coming from the campaign of someone running for president. Yeah, I know this kind of petty shit crops up in all campaigns and from the best of candidates, but shees: still annoying.)

No, this is what we’ve got: two people who would have different styles of governing but who each a) care about good governance; and b) would accomplish about the same as the other. I’ve learned to keep my expectations low—please try not to make things worse and if you can make them even a little bit better that would be great, thanks—so unless Clinton or Sanders runs off screaming into the night, they’ll be fine.

Trump and Cruz, on the other hand, don’t meet even that basic non-screamer standard. Cruz creeps people out—his most enthusiastic non-paid supporters seem to be those who spend the least time with him—and Trump lacks even the barest competence.

Yes, Cruz is intelligent, and yes, Trump has a certain, um, panache, but when it comes to governing, neither much cares: Trump supporters want to burn everything in their quest for GREATNESS and Cruz’s, well, christ, those who aren’t supporting him merely to stop Trump are waiting on some kind of red-white-and-blue Rapture.

Which is to say, if I’m a Republican who wants a president who can actually preside, I’m lookin’ at these two and thinking, Oh, boy.

I’m not concern trolling: I think Republicans as a whole are getting exactly who they deserve, and if either of those whos didn’t have a shot at the presidency, i.e., a chance at wrecking things for the rest of us, I’d be clapping in glee.

Still, I do feel a bit of sympathy for the ordinary Republican who just wants someone who’s not a night-screamer, someone who’s just, y’know, fine.





Circus Maximus MMXVI: What’s goin’ on?

17 02 2016

I don’t understand. Many things, I don’t understand.

For example, I don’t understand why I’m so lukewarm about Bernie Sanders and somewhat defensive about Hillary Clinton.

I mean, I’m glad he’s in the race, I’m glad he’s yelling about the banksters, and I’m glad that he’s pushing Clinton to the left.

But I also think she’d be a better president than him. I think all some of the shit that turns people off about her—namely, her practicality and willingness to deal—are precisely what would make her a relatively effective executive.

Bernie’s reliance on a ‘political revolution’ to get shit done is. . . not going to happen.

But then I think, Kissinger—Kissinger!

And then I think, well, absurdist, y’all about the realism.

So, whatever. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to vote in the NY primary: I think you have to register for a party approximately 17 years before the primary in order to be eligible.

I should look into that.

And this, this I do not understand:

I mean, I get it, it’s a riff on Reagan’s ‘morning in America’  ad—

—but it. . . doesn’t work. At all.

I don’t know, maybe I’m missing the appeal because I’m not a  Republican primary voter, but, man, I don’t know why it would make someone want to vote for Rubio as opposed to, say, miss Ronald Reagan.

Also, I don’t understand why none of the other Republican candidates have figured out how to take Trump down. I don’t know why they’re afraid of him.

Yeah, he gets mean, but so what? You turn that against him, keep going after him and after him until he loses his fucking mind.

Well, okay, yeah. I should say: until he flounces off a huff, maybe overturning a table or smashing a chair on his way out.

Finally, do whole- (unlike me, half-) hearted Bernie supporters understand that if he wins the nomination he’s going to need everything that horrid Democratic establishment can cram into his campaign, and then some, if he has even a shot of getting elected?

I still think Clinton will be the nominee, but if it’s Sanders, then he’s going to need all of the help, all of the corrupting, connected, money-infested help, that he can get?

Because nobody, nobody enters–and exits–the colosseum without getting dirty.





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.

 





Circus Maximus MMXVI: Sincerely

7 10 2015

Hillary Clinton has come out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and I say ‘Great!’

I also say: don’t believe it for a minute.

If she becomes president and the deal has been ratified by Congress, she’ll do nothing to overturn it; if it were shot down, she’ll find a way to resurrect it.

So, too, would a Republican president.

Even money on whether President Bernie Sanders would throw in with the TPP.