Monthly Archives: July 2012

Is Clinton the new McGovern?

No, this isn’t about Vietnam.

For a generation, up until about 2005, Democrats were completely cowed by being seen as soft on defense as McGovern had in 1972. Democrats saw echoes of this in the 1980, 1984, 2002, and 2004 elections. After that much time, the issue became completely stripped of its context and people had forgotten that for almost the entire history of the two parties, the Democrats had been the war party.

A book could be written on how overly simplistic this is, how going with the GOP framing made it worse by reinforcing weak with weak, howe McGovern’s time represented a permanent fracture of the New Deal coalition and a stupid attempt to build a party on college campus ideas and the constituency of people who don’t or can’t vote and while their abandonment of labor and the subsequent Carter/Volcker-Reagan/Greenspan deregulation and deflation is why our economy sucks today in 2012.

But the party is starting to draw the same kind of lessons from the best politician in their party since LBJ: Bill Clinton. Except instead of rushing to do the opposite of what Clinton did, they are rushing to ape it or perfect it.

Obama’s presidency has largely been defined by doing things Clinton couldn’t do, like health care, or trying to do things he did do, like win government shutdown battles. And the mantra of Clinton’s 1992 election, “It’s the economy, stupid” and Clinton’s warning not to fuck with the NRA because it cost him the 1994 election have both become so embedded in the CW that it’s difficult to argue. There’s even a West Wing episode about this!

But wait.

Did Clinton win because the economy sucked in 1992? He won because he made that a winning issue, but Ross Perot was a huge factor, probably one that we will never know for certain whether he cost the Republicans the election—since there isn’t enough state-by-state data. Did he lose the 1994 election because of the NRA?

If if Clinton is right about both of those elections, it doesn’t mean that this is going to be the case forever. Obama is going to win this election despite the economy and, ironically given the above, if the campaign gets into foreign policy matters more than just Romney’s failures in London, he will win by an even further margin.

As for the NRA—all of the politicians believe that they cannot challenge them. And a mass shooting may not be the way into this issue. But crime is. If the 2014 election is about, say, a crime bill (again a la Clinton) that includes more police and a weapons ban, well, I wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of that, either.

McGovern’s idealism killed labor. Clinton’s pragmatism was great politics but only held back the Republican tide policy-wise.

Gun Control: Na Ga Hap Pen

Today in the dastardly Washington Post, a long-term Gallup poll on the public’s attitude towards gun control showed that the public’s mood over the last 25 years or so has inverted, with a majority now opposing gun control 54-44 where in 1990 it stood at 78-19 the other way down.

This doesn’t track with the increase of mass shooting Columbine like events. It tracks with the reduction in crime.

I speculate that the difference is that while Americans won’t tolerate crime, they simply force themselves to believe that incidents like Aurora, Tucson, Columbine, Virginia Tech, etc. etc. are random events, beyond anyone’s control to prevent or avoid, much like a plane crash.

This doesn’t make the absurd argument that such events would be avoided if everyone carried a gun, but it doesn’t help the pro control argument either, since it’s hard to see how as long as there are any guns available you can prevent these things.

This is because people are terrible at—almost incapable of—stochastic thinking. This handicap in our minds has allowed the persistence of global warming denial, an inability to understand race and poverty, and many other problems. Everything is a direct cause-and-effect morality play about individuals and what you would do in a certain situation.

It’s hugely ironic that in a country that has heightened security requirements on just about everything, we leave weapons that can harm lots of people so relatively untraced.

But this is not the day for this issue. Using it at all will only cost opportunities in other more universal and fundamental areas. It is a losing issue because as long as crime is down, people won’t care and the intense opposition and funding of the NRA will make quick work of any attempt to do otherwise.

Is it worth enduring a President Romney? No.

LiBOR Mules

So we have yet another financial scandal involving astronomical sums of money and the manipulation of dense Bankster inside baseball operations and a post-hoc need to “do something about it”. In this case “it” is the LIBOR scandal in which banks banks lied about their borrowing costs during the Great Economic Collapse of 2008 to appear more solvent and manipulate interest rates and provide insider information to one another on financial deal making. In response, some “cost of doing business” money will likely be extracted from the banks and the status quo financial system will fester on fundamentally as it has.

But what about the financial scams that are unknown to the public?

Banking crises are becoming the new borderland drug bust. On occasion federal agents will “get ‘em” and parade piles of guns, laundry baskets of cash, Hefty sacks filled with marijuana, and enough bricks of cocaine to build a modest adobe house in front of the cameras to prove that The System is Working. Meanwhile, scores of other unseen mules zip the same stuff through, below, around and above the border to eager clientele in America. In the same vein, sleepy bank regulators eventually claim that they “got ‘em” — even as the next High Finance rip off is being perpetrated, unseen and unknown.

Either way, society takes it up the nose: voluntary white powder through a $100 bill, or involuntary $100 bills with no white powder.

I predict it's T-Paw

Anyone can make a prediction. I’m going to show my work:

Romney has said he wants someone similar, not different, from him and someone who won’t go rogue in so many words. In other words, no Palins. I don’t think Portman is well know enough to add anything, and hasn’t really done much.

So, I’m guessing it’s T-Paw, who backed out of the campaign about a year ago before he had to fling much poo at Mitt. He fits the bill of having a background, at least superficially, in politics like Romney and he won’t draw too many unflattering comparisons.

Daisy 2012

The Romney campaign’s answer: you’re making a mockery of America The Beautiful. Umm, you sang it Mitt.

There’s been a lot of talk about this ad, about how it uses sound and the contrast in physical appearance of the men. But just listen to how Mitt sings in this. His voice sounds so inhuman, so strange.

The Obama people have taken a page out of the Atwater/Rove playbook. They’re hitting the man—hard—in his alleged strengths and defining him before he has a chance to on his own.

If this continues much, the economy issue will be nullified too because people will think that Romney just represents the guy that comes in and closes up your shop and sends the jobs to call centers in India, not the guy who rebuilds.

 

What do fires in Colorado and refusing Medicare in Texas have in common?

They both are predicated on the orthodox religion of the Republican party in 2012.

The former is a result of both the absolute refusal to act as if anthropogenic global warming is real and the literally self-immolating war on public employees, including firefighters. The latter stems from the absurd hypocrisy that the free market cannot fail, so how dare we allow competition.

Everywhere you turn this summer, there is evidence contradicting this theory brought to its apotheosis with the Reagan administration and its reductio ad absurdum in that of George W. Bush. The eastern half of the country is experiencing weather that mocks the flight to the sunbelt of decades past. Why move to Phoenix when Pittsburgh will do?

The rightwing is also busy applying its orthodoxy to its life-long foot soldier, the Chief Justice of the United States, who realized that he could not adopt the novel constitutional argument put forth by his mates and strike down the signature legislative accomplishment of both the President and the former Congress (ironic, isn’t it, that the Senate’s de facto 60-vote threshold of passage makes it all the more ridiculous for the Court to strike down laws?) without terminating the integrity of his branch of government, which had been on life support since December of 2000.

And the bizzaro-world refusal of a number of states with the highest percentage of uninsured residents to take advantage of the Medicare expansion of the PPACA both probably out of spite for losing their case and in order to sabotage the law so that it cannot be pronounced a success the way their party’s nominee’s plan has succeeded in making his state have the lowest percentage by a country mile of uninsured residents. This is the same approach they have taken to public education: sabotage.

Indeed, the glue-sniffing delusion of the Republican party in 2012 is getting so intense that it requires a much more Machiavellian mind than the average voter has in order to hold all of its contradictions and dissonances together, on script, on cue.

Even the Romney campaign can’t seem to coordinate with its party whether what Romney did in Taxachusetts is good or bad, and if it’s good why what Obama did is bad, or if it’s bad why it’s ok that Romney did it.

Bill Buckley conservatism is dead. Intellectual, positive, problem-solving conservatism is dead. Even if it weren’t, there is no more need to apply “free market” or the concept of “limited government” to our political system. We’ve been doing it for decades. Taxes have been slashed to the point that Mr. Romney can pay a mere 15% effective rate and not be disqualified from running for office.

Remember, in Eisenhower’s time 90% was the highest tax rate; in St. Reagan The Great’s, it was 50%. In the booming 90s, it was higher still. But of course, that was because the Socialist Bill Clinton and his Citibank crony Rubin were running things. I think. (Again, I can’t keep all of these contradictions and dissonances together. In the 90s, Congress was responsible for the great economy, but in the 80s, it was the President, and now again it’s the President’s fault.)

Indeed, with the exception of some areas of social concern, almost every aspect of the Goldwater conservative’s program has been achieved. Taxes are historically low. Inflation is historically low. Labor unions have been destroyed. Health insurance must be supplied by private insurers except to the poor, the aged, and the veterans.  The defense budget is at an all time high. Desegregation has even failed.

Unless you are hung up on abortion, gay rights, and affirmative action (none of which were concerns of the Goldwaterites), your plan has won. Even those failures are arguably connected to a general deregulatory trend that is, according to conservative’s own free-market prophets, connected with social regulation.

There are a few genuine areas where Traditional Conservative values, tempered by a respect for the need to compromise and build consensus, (another aspect entirely absent from the Tea Party) could contribute. It is apparent that the federal government’s role in student loans has only helped people get increasingly meaningless degrees at higher and higher prices netting lower and lower wages.

If students were large investment banks, the government would have socialized their debt and paid off the lenders out of the public fisc.

Traditional Conservatives might be more inclined to question the purpose of some of our foreign policy, but the Weimar “stabbed in the back” myth transposed to Vietnam has been so engrained in the regnant generation’s mythos that anyone questioning any act of aggression (even if it is disastrous to our national grand strategy) is in drastic need of reeducation. A temporary truce exists in this realm, for now, because the Republicans still must know, somewhere down deep, that their losses in 2006 and 2008 are the result of Iraq, while the Democrats are constitutionally unable to abort any bombing mission, or even pepper spraying, lest the word McGovern be uttered.

Indeed it is the complacency, cowardice, and belief in a different failed and empirically refuted orthodoxy, that of “technocracy,” “bipartisanship,” and Aaron Sorkinesque establishment snobbery that defiles the once scrappy and progressive Democratic party, the party of Roosevelt, Truman, and Johnson.

Sending these pencil pushers out to fight the Republicans is like watching the Polish cavalry flee from the Blitzkrieg; It’s no wonder they get rolled. It’s only the fact that most people still are not completely insane that they occasionally give electoral victory to the spineless yet sane Democrats.

And Colorado Springs, like My Lai, is a village burning so that it can be saved from the phantom-limb syndrome pain of Socialism, long since vanquished though easier to believe alive somewhere where people ride trains to work than in the non-entity that is last decade’s bogey man, “terrorism” now that the Manchurian candidate has killed Osama Bin Laden.

If you told me in 2004, after Bush was reelected, that in 2012 there would be a mostly universal health care law, that Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell would be history, that we would be out of Iraq, that Osama bin Laden would be dead, that a black man would be president, that another comprehensive nuclear arsenal reduction would have been completed, I might have taken heart. But today, this is somehow a “failed presidency.”

Of course, if you would have told me that in 2012 the Republican party still had most people denying global warming, still trying for some reason I can’t fathom to stop gay marriage, still trying to cut taxes while whining about the deficit, and seriously believed that the President of the United States was born in Kenya, I might have drunk even more.

If I had been told that the two alternatives would be this rabid Know-Nothingist, Social Darwinist, Corporate Petro-theocracy and a bunch of sniveling Dutch boys trying to hold their fingers in the dike of the status quo, I might have despaired entirely.