Circus Maximus MMXVI: And a little bit not (I)

13 09 2016

Oh, to be of many minds:

Mind1: The bug-eyed conspiracists certain that Hillary Clinton is hiding, I dunno, a tumor/mainstream pundits who are more than happy to indulge the, well-this-certainly-plays-into-the-appearance-of-dishonesty are shoveling enough shit to cover the prairies from Kansas to Saskatchewan.

Woman has pneumonia, got dehydrated while standing in a crowd, had to be helped into SUV, is apparently recovering. Bummer for her, not a big deal.

Mind2: Hillary Clinton, if elected, will be the second-oldest person (after Reagan) to begin her first term. This doesn’t mean that she’s enfeebled now or will be during either (Inshallah) of her terms in office—but it does mean that she is, to be grossly generalistic, less robust than someone 20 years younger.

This is a legitimate concern—not an emergency, not a disqualifier—but, yes, a legit concern.

(And no, that Trump is a year older than her doesn’t make Clinton “young”, even in comparison.)

Mind3: That pundits and conspiracists (and, yeah, one of my neighbors who is terrified of Trump and so highly concerned about Clinton’s health) are keening into the high winds about both her health and her alleged penchant for dishonesty makes me wanna holler She’ll be fine! She’ll be fine! Her doctor says she’ll be fine!

It also sets me to muttering that no matter what she says or authorizes her doctor to release, she’ll be accused of lying.

Mind4: She probably will be fine; I doubt she’s lying.

That said. . . whether or not the so-called narrative of Clinton’s dishonesty—isn’t that a nice way to call someone a liar by implying Oh, look, everyone thinks she’s a liar—is accurate, it has, in fact, taken hold. While it’s possible-to-likely that a more comprehensive summary of Clinton’s current health (i.e, past few-t0-5 years) wouldn’t satisfy those who refuse to be satisfied, it also wouldn’t be a bad move, if only in giving her a ready answer to questions about her health.

Given that Trump is shameless, there’s no way that her release of info would shame him into releasing his. Nope, any Clinton release would be a defensive tactic against the press and, perhaps, a kind of reassurance to her supporters (including my anxious neighbor).

Mind5: Did you notice what I did, there? I doubt she’s lying. Gliiiiiiided right past that.

I went fairly hard the other day about tossing aside all concerns other that politics, thereby brushing away concerns about Clinton’s alleged dishonesty, not least because I do think the whole “narrative says so” is bullshit.

But I didn’t stress enough that I really don’t know. I mean, she’s been involved in politics for a very, very long time and seems as sincere as a politician could be, but it’s also clear that she’d rather not share every last bit of info about her doings, please and thank you.

What does that mean? I dunno. Since she’s on my side of the field I’ll be voting for her, regardless; if she were on the other side this would be yet another reason not to—but, honestly (snerk), this wouldn’t be the thing I’d latch onto about that opponent.

I mean, that Trump hasn’t released his tax returns isn’t in the top 50 of the worst things about him.

Mind6: Is it fair that Clinton’s getting her bell rung by the press and Trump isn’t?

No; so?

As I’ve banged on about repeatedly, there’s nothing fair about elections, winning is the only thing that matters, etc., etc.

Besides, in this case, the unfairness may be less that the press expect Clinton to answer their questions about her health but that they don’t expect the same from Trump.

Mind7: In other words, it is not unreasonable to expect candidates for the presidency to release information about their health.

A full release of all of their health records is unnecessary and, likely, unwise, but, again, a comprehensive summary should give manage to drive the screamers back to the fringes from whence they came.

As for those who think the candidates’ own docs can’t be trusted? Well, I like the ideas put forth by some doctors and ethicists for a (voluntary) independent evaluation of the candidates by a doctor or panel of doctors. How to go about this would need to be worked out, and it might need some tweaking over successive elections, but this would likely be an improvement over the  ad-hockery (and ad-hackery) of the current non-system of health disclosure.

Mind8: Even as I write that it’s reasonable to want some reliable info on the candidates’ health, I am uneasy with that expectation.

Again, most powerful person on the planet, but I think even the most powerful person on the planet deserves some privacy.

Not total privacy. Not total transparency. Something in between. I don’t know what that in-between would be. Something about recent (and relevant less-recent) past health, current health, yes. Chronic conditions. Medications.

What about psychotherapy? Marriage counseling? Would pastoral counseling count?

That’s too much, isn’t it? I mean, maybe not the fact of counseling itself, but certainly not any details. . . and, frankly, wouldn’t it be nice for that as-yet-unnamed panel of doctors to recommend a psychiatrist or psychotherapist be assigned to the White House as a matter of course? Is that already the case? Too much of a tangent. . . ?

And what about genomic testing? I mean, Jesus, that seems way too far, but what happens when (and it is a when, not an if) everyone is tested as a matter of standard medical protocol? Hell, a lot of people are already paying out of pocket for their own partial genomic profiles; what should be the response to demands that candidates be tested?

That’s just. . . oh, man, that would be a terrible idea—which is, of course, no barrier to its adoption.

All of these minds cannot be successfully melded; I have, in the end, only questions: How much privacy should a candidate, a president, have? What do we, as citizens, deserve (as opposed to merely desire) to know about those who would lead us?





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





Everbody knows that the captain lied, 16

19 01 2015

This seems like a singularly bad idea.

I mean, sure, the airlines are more than willing to screw over the lumpenproletariat mashed like potatoes into the cheap seats, but how will they deal with the haute bourgeoisie up front who number too few to gain priority over other flying buses?

And will they do these on an absolute or relative basis? Total number of first class seats sold or percentage of First-to-last class? Total dollar amounts spent on first class?

Or maybe this could be the greatest selling point (from the airlines’ point of view) for first-class seats since the invention of first-class seats: pay more to increase your odds of landing before the fuel runs out!

Now that’s service.





Come Mister tally man, tally me banana

28 07 2013

Remember: no food is produced without labor.

Good on Mark Bittman for this most basic reminder of a most basic fact of human life.

We need food to eat, and that food does not come from nowhere. Oh, food corporations would like us to believe that food comes from nowhere—think of the efforts to ban unauthorized filming of conditions in pig and chicken plants—or from some mythical somewhere in which a smiling man lovingly plucks a strawberry or head of lettuce and pulls himself upright to show us the bounty of the Earth, but, really, they’d rather us not think about the workers stooped over in a field, exposed to pesticides and herbicides, cutting and tugging hundreds of pounds of fruits and vegetables out of the dirt every day.

And slaughterhouses? No one wants to think about slaughterhouses.

I’m not exempting myself from this. I don’t know where most of my food comes from: that I’m assiduous in buying only fair-trade coffee beans only highlights how little I do to source every other item in my diet. Nor do I inquire as to the conditions in the kitchen of the restaurants or (more commonly) the local joints I visit.

Bittman gives one way to begin paying attention:

Well-intentioned people often ask me what they can do to help improve our food system. Here’s an easy one: When you see that picket line next week, don’t cross it. In fact, join it.

I mentioned in my last post that those who are most directly affected by a phenomenon ought to take the lead in directing how to respond to it. Bittman’s advice fits nicely into that schema: the workers themselves are acting, and in so doing, are telling the rest of how to act.

Hear, hear. If you want to get paid fairly for the work you do, then you should support others getting paid fairly for the work they do.

We all should be paid fairly for the work we do.

~~~

h/t: Erik Loomis, Lawyers, Guns & Money





One of these things is not like the other

2 09 2011

Skip ahead to the 5:50 or so mark:

That is why a pure proceduralist approach to politics will never work, and should never be permitted to be substitute for the real thing.





Wipeout, pt. II

3 11 2010

I am an ideologue.

No, not particularly happy to write that, and as quickly as I might state that that’s not all that I am, I also have to admit that it is also that I am.

I bring this up to consider the interpretations of elections. After the Republicans suffered reverses in 2006 and 2008, a fair number of activists blamed those reversals on the lack of conservative steadfastness. Had the GOPers only stuck to their guns, these folks said, we’d a-won.

Yeah, right, I thought.

But that same thought skittered around my mind in the lead-up to this election. If only the Dems hadn’t been so pusillanimous, election night would have been a bleed rather than a hemorrhage.

In my defense, I was thinking more about tactics, whereas the conservatives were thinking more about policy. I’m not a moderate, but I think welcoming moderates (and even conservatives) into the Democratic party isn’t a bad thing: I am most decidedly not a purist on political matters.

But that interpretation rather too conveniently lets me off the hook. I want the Dems to push hard, to ignore squeals about the supposed unfairness of maneuvering to enact their agenda, and I want that agenda to reflect my leftist views.

When you win, goddammit, you act as if you’ve won.

And when you lose, you obstruct and resist and dissent and do what you can to limit the damage likely to flow from the other side’s win.

That’s how it is, for Dems and GOPers, liberals and conservatives. Shut up about the process—really, SHUT UP. It’s terrific when you win and terrible when you lose and all your whining about fairness or rudeness or partisanship is just so much rote rot. If you truly think it’s unfair, then change the process; otherwise, shut up.

So that’s how I know I’m an ideologue: However annoyed I may be when political adversaries obstruct what I want done, I don’t think they’re wrong to obstruct. In fact, if they think they can best achieve their aims through obstruction, then they’re fools if they don’t obstruct.

That’s not cynicism; that’s smart politics.

And finally, I know I’m an ideologue because however fatigued or Machiavellian I may be, I do believe ideas matter, so much so that I find it easier to deal with those who actually want to do something—even if I hate that something—than those who want to win just to win.

Even I’m not that cynical.