Nov 072012
 

This is a grab-bag of observations I made on Facebook the day after Democrats’ electoral romp on November 6, 2012. Stuff I thought readers might find interesting. FWIW…

 

The people in the GOP we are NOT hearing from today (in the wake of the Republican trouncing) are the social conservatives/Christian right. They are the anchor around the neck of the Republican Party, and they are ***INCAPABLE*** of moving one inch on their flagship issues of abortion and hating gays. Their leaders will not let them. Huckabee is talking about trying to get to Latinos, but it was WOMEN who drove Obama’s victory more than anyone else, and the Robertson crowd is never going to move off its position on abortion. It raises too much money for the televangelists and it’s too convenient a tool for whipping up fervor among low-education social conservatives.

If it were just about their insistent fantasy of trying to return to the world of “Mad Men”, that would be a solvable problem for the GOP. But “Mad Men” is the Plutocrats’ fantasy and goal. The social conservatives’ fantasy is Jesusland, and tolerance is anathema for them. That’s the GOP’s real problem: they need all those ignorant Southern/Midwestern white Christians. They can’t get anywhere nearly enough votes without them. And they are an absolute stake in the ground which prevents the party from moving strategically.

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More election musing: the dispossessed.

One of the remarkable things about Barack Obama’s first Presidential campaign was that he tossed the conventional wisdom about who would vote and who wouldn’t. He looked for groups of forgotten, ignored and untapped voters in places no one had looked for years: the young, for example. Low-propensity African-Americans and Latinos. He went to those constituencies, registered them, organized them and won. And then he did it again in 2012.

One less-recognized part of that strategy was Team Obama’s major effort to register and turn out Native Americans. In low-population, high-Native states like NM and the Dakotas, Native American votes can be a deciding factor. And as it turns out, in North Dakota this time around, they were: they were the deciding margin that gave a Senate seat to Heidi Heitcamp over Rick Berg.

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Oh, and…that complete repudiation of the retrograde-fantasy, straight-white-male-rulership,hateful, antifactual, antidemocratic travesty that has become the brand and agenda of the Republican Party?

We totally built that.

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I’ve been involved in FOUR elections that were decided by less than ten votes, from Sonoma City Council to an alderman race on Cape Cod. Anyone who tells you a vote doesn’t mean anything just isn’t informed. It means *everything*.

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Given the Republicans’ complete shellacking in this election, it does bear pointing out, friends, that the scary super-secret voting machine software patches owned and manipulated by Tagg Romney did not materialize.

(Ohio Secretary of State Jon) Husted and the rest of the GOP tried everything they could this cycle to suppress the vote, because the system actually does deliver a result based on voter choices. Let’s try to remember that when the conspiracy theories start flying around next time.
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Here’s my take: the Powers want us not to care. It reinforces the narrative they’re trying to push: that nothing matters, that you can’t fight city hall, that the fix is in. They want us to go back to watching Jersey Shore and playing Angry Birds while they carve the world for their feast.

But the truth is that we aren’t like that at all. We’re suckers for a dream: we’re Americans. We want to believe, and we will exert quixotic effort in the name of our belief. I know that I wouldn’t think twice if I had to stand in the rain for a couple of hours to vote–I’d wear a coat and chat with the next person in line, if I had to.

But I wouldn’t consider not voting–not for one minute. I’m a shareholder in the future, goddamn it. My opinion matters. And so does yours. We aren’t the victims of history, nor its spectators. We MAKE history. We are its exponents.

We COUNT, you and I.

 

At publication, the Dragon was REALLY DAMNED HAPPY

Oct 182012
 

People have been talking for a long time about the obsession with the supposed “otherness” of Barack Obama on the right. Talking with a friend yesterday, it occurred to me that the three main epithet descriptors the more deranged elements of the Republican Party have used to refer to President Obama all mean exactly the same thing: Enemy alien.

Check it out:

“Socialist”: Teahaddists and Limbaugh-loving mouthbreathers have no idea what that word really means. What they mean by it is “an alien, enemy form of government”. You know, like they have in scary places like the Soviet Union, and France.

“Muslim”: “alien, enemy religion.”

“Kenyan” (code for black very black): “alien, enemy race.”

And then you have your “unAmerican, “doesn’t understand American values”, &c, &c. We can call them the Tea Party/Sununu talking points.

Enemy. Alien. Not one of us.

What do aliens supposedly do? They enslave you…so Tea Party Taliban shriek about “loss of freedom” under Obama. They take away your power…which in the United States, means your money. So they shriek about imaginary, gigantic tax hikes under Obama. They destroy your institutions and replace them with their own. So they shriek about the ACA “destroying freedom of religion”, about supposedly suddenly important budget deficits leading to a national meltdown.

Those who use these terms to describe the President are mostly parochial people with little education and who haven’t seen much of the world other than where they were born–and if they have, it’s likely it was from inside an institutional bubble, like the military or a school program.

The unfamiliar frightens and threatens them, and they therefore hate it. The fact that the nation is becoming more multicultural, more tolerant of sexual diversity and so forth simply panics them. They don’t know how to live in such a world or with people who aren’t like themselves, nor do they wish to do so. Being poorly educated, most don’t have many tools for learning to bridge cultural gaps of difference…particularly if it undermines assumptions of white privilege they have taken for granted all their lives.

As far as they’re concerned, it’s an alien invasion, and one of the pod people has taken over the White House. No wonder they need to cling to a story that he isn’t really American: it is intolerable to them that someone like him be “a real American”.

The vehemence of their hostility to those who don’t agree with them arises because they literally feel their survival is threatened. They are terrified. That makes them angry, and potentially dangerous.

The enemy aliens are here. They’re infiltrating us as we speak. They’ve taken over our institutions. Only our faith, our belligerence and our guns can save us.

Which raises the question, of course: how do you deal with governance when 1/3 of your country is made up of delusional paranoiacs?

At publication, the Dragon was AWAITING ORDERS FROM THE MOTHER SHIP

Sep 262012
 

One of the many strikes against Mitt Romney’s candidacy has been a regular drumbeat of complaint by movement conservatives like Redstate’s Erick Erickson that Romney isn’t sufficiently ideologically conservative, that he’s wishy-washy on their issues, that his tenure as Governor of Massachusetts shows he’s too liberal, etc. During the primary season, each of the Non-Romneys du jour took a crack at undermining the Mittster based on this critique.

Sorry, right-wing nutcases, but I’ve got news for you: Mitt Romney is precisely what your party stands for.

In fact, he is a carbon-copy of what your party has nominated in each of the past four Presidential cycles: a privileged, spoiled, morally blank, mean-spirited person driven solely by desire for self-aggrandizement.

Why does it surprise you that Romney will tell you what you want to hear, gainsay it ten minutes later and then deny the contradiction? Republican Presidents have been doing that since Ronald Reagan. At least he had the excuse of dementia (which was denied, of course), but that hardly extends to his many handlers and flaks, who lied cheerfully and liberally, daring the worshiping press to contradict them. Romney is no more mendacious than Donald Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales, Dana Perino or Scott McClellan were on behalf of Dubya, or than John McCain is when throwing his supposedly stellar principles under the bus for political expediency (this week, it was Our Veteran Hero voting against the Veterans’ Job Act).

The current nominee’s only innovation in this regard is in having shortened the intervals between flip and flop, and not bothering to try some tortured rationalization for why the contradictions are somehow consistent.

This is what you get. This is the natural culmination of having steadily moved your end of the political spectrum away from facts and towards faith, away from thinking and towards ideology, away from public interest and towards self-interest, away from a pluralistic understanding that those who disagree must nonetheless work together to govern, and towards the idea of winning by any means necessary…and if you can’t, making sure the other guys lose.

Mitt Romney is the concentrated essence of what conservatism has become: a no-rules angler for his own interests, all other concerns secondary. A man who cares about nothing but himself.

He doesn’t care about your social issues. Neither did Reagan, or either Bush, or McCain. They mouthed the words and made occasional policy gestures while in office because they figured you were dumb enough for that to keep you on a string, and because they didn’t care about the people that got hurt in the process. There’s no commitment to values there: just Machiavellian pragmatism.

He doesn’t care about your economic philosophy. All he cares about is gaming the system to the greatest degree possible to personally benefit himself and his family. If that means raising taxes on the middle class so the wealthy pay even less, well, hell, let’s tee that right up. There’s no economic philosophy there: just greed.

He doesn’t care about integrity. If making appeals to racial prejudice, campaigning on obvious falsehoods cobbled from out-of-context edited quotes, and working to make it harder for some people to vote will raise his chances of success, he will of course pursue these strategies. There is no core sense of human decency there; Mitt Romney knows to his cold little core that he is The Only Person In The Universe.

There is a word for people like that. They’re called sociopaths. And your movement, your party, your articulated philosophies, your campaign tactics and, yes, your candidates all fit that label nicely.

Mitt hasn’t failed you. Mitt is the absolute essence of you. The mistake you make is in thinking he was supposed to stand for what YOU want, but you have missed the punchline of your own joke: he’s not there for you. He’s there for himself, and himself only.

Which is exactly the direction you have been trying to push the politics of the country for more than thirty years.

You were just too dumb to understand that you could be tossed out in the cold just like the blacks and the gays and the poor and the women and all the other people you don’t care about.

In a world run by sociopaths, you get betrayed just like everyone else. You’re not immune. You’re non-human non-factors whose feelings, interests and aspirations are non-relevant, too.

Welcome to Mitt’s world, suckers.

At publication, the Dragon was REFLECTIVE

Sep 182012
 

As y’all know, I have been posting quite a bit of analysis and opinion about the status of the Presidential race. But with yesterday’s comedic revelation of Little Lord Fauntleroy’s contempt for 47% of the American citizenry, let’s just draw the curtain, shall we?

Between the Keystone Kops announcements of “reboots”, the abortive attempts to hijack tragedy for political gain, and now His Royal Highness’ pooh-poohing of nearly half of the country on tape to his similarly rarefied supporters, I think we can say that the 2012 Presidential is all over but the GOTV.

It isn’t just this latest event, the way the Palin choice doomed any chances McCain might have had. Romney just doesn’t have ANY bright spots. His policy positions—to the degree he has any beyond “Mitt Romney should be President”—are so unpopular he’s had to deliberately obscure them; his supposed business qualifications have been revealed/framed as questionable and morally filthy; the man is personally an awkward, deeply unlikeable, priggish gaffe machine; his running mate is Iago as played by Jim Nabors, and the two of them can’t even come up with a straight story on which of their appalling budget visions they embrace; the foreign trip and his cheerful eagerness to try to score points off the murder of American diplomats has revealed him for the cold-blooded shark he is; his convention combined the excitement of “Waiting for Godot” with the spectacle of Clint Eastwood losing an argument to an empty chair; and his party’s steady pandering to angry, white, low-education males at the expense of all other demographics has left him with a universe too small to win under the best of circumstances…which these are NOT, because despite the best efforts of his party to torpedo the American people’s economic prospects for political gain, it isn’t entirely working.

Meanwhile, they are running against an incumbent with an arm-long record of achievement, against a crew that has a better understanding of how to run a national campaign using today’s tools and media context than any other on the planet, and against a guy who has already had every lie, every distortion, every calumny the right has been able to imagine thrown at him for four years, and is still viewed positively by most of the country. A man who beat *both* national party’s machines in 2008. A man who is almost certainly one of the giants in the history of the American Presidency.

And whose policies appear not only to have pulled the country back from the edge of the disaster teed up by Romney’s party, but also to be slowly helping it to recover. While Romney and Ryan offer only more of the same failed policies, on steroids.

We’re seven weeks out as of today. The perceived narrative of the Romney/Ryan campaign is that they are in disarray, panicking, and throwing the kitchen sink. I do not recall any challenger to an incumbent in a widely-watched election EVER to survive that perception so close to the election and win.

There just aren’t any bright spots for Circus Romney. Obama’s narrow edges in the battleground states have begun to solidify and move out of the margins of error. Now it’s all about how much the headliners of the Greedy Obnoxious Party can drag down the chances of their compatriots downticket.

From here through Election Day at the sign of the Green Dragon, I’ll focus on local politics and Congress. I’d be surprised if I feel a need to say much more about the Comeuppance of Mitt Romney…except perhaps to gloat a bit.

At publication, the Dragon was EXPERIENCING SCHADENFREUDE