Archive for the ‘Deep political thought’ Category

Winning: a meditation on the midterms

November 9, 2018

Remember how it feels to lose?

We ought to keep that in mind when we win.

The only people who should be dancing in the end zone are the cheerleaders. And they’d best be full of Gatorade, ’cause this game is only at halftime.

Yes, yes, yes, it’s another Friday Afternoon Club(bing) from Radio Free Dogpatch. But you won’t need the performance-enhancing drugs to get through this one. You’ve probably stayed clean through longer political ads.

“Democrats eat babies.” This one features a heavily Photoshopped image of a smiling Nancy Pelosi with a platter full of tiny arms and legs, a hammer-and-sickle bib, and barbecue sauce smeared over her lips.

“Republicans boink babies.” Well, we won’t need the Photoshop for this one.* But still, you get the idea, right?

* Sorry. I couldn’t resist. Comity only goes so far around here.

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with an Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. I edited the audio using Apple’s GarageBand. The background music is “Tiny Town” from ZapSplat, and the “National Emblem March” was performed by the U.S. Air Force Heritage of America Band.

Another day, another dolor? Nope.

November 7, 2018

“He’s done it again! It’s coming up! It’s coming up!”

It’s morning in Albuquerque, if not throughout America.

The Donks took the U.S. House, which means, as Charlie Pierce notes, “for the first time in two years, there is an institution of the government that is neither afraid of, nor controlled by, the president*.”

But the Elefinks held the Senate, even padding their slim edge. So, yeah. The Turtle will be with us for a while yet.

Elsewhere, Wisconsin shitcanned Scott Walker, and Kansas told Kris Kobach they’d had quite enough of him and his racist machinations, thanks all the same. “Carried by prayer,” me bollocks. The Lord works in mysterious ways, shit-for-brains. Back to remedial law school wi’ ye.

Up in Colorado, Mike Coffman finally got his. And my former state elected a gay Jew as governor while keeping Lil’ Dougie Lamborn in the House despite his long record of doing not much beyond running his fat yap and cashing checks. As I said, the Lord works in mysterious ways, when He works at all.

Florida was a trainwreck, because, well, Florida, man. The best thing to come out of that hot mess was SNL’s Pete Davidson observing that Rick Scott “looks like someone tried to whittle Bruce Willis out of a penis.”

Something smells in Georgia, too, and it’s not cherry blossoms. Brian Kemp had his fat white thumb on the scales there, and I’d guess that investigation he ordered in the final days of the election is pointed in the wrong direction.

Speaking of odors, a dead Republican pimp won election to the state Assembly in Nevada. I think he should be seated, if only as a wake-up call to the electorate.

Here in New Mexico the Donks crushed it. The hoped-for blue wave dreamed of nationwide may not have arisen, but we had one here. Props to Herself for working the phones and canvassing the electorate. Thanks in part to her hard work, the former federale Melanie Ann Stansbury ousted longtime incumbent Jimmie Hall in our own little state-House contest.

There’s more out there I haven’t yet managed to absorb along with just one cup of coffee, but I’d have to award a qualified “well done” so far. You don’t want to hand the Donks everything all at once and expect them to do anything with it beyond fucking up.

It’s flat crazy out there

November 5, 2018

Michael “McGet” McGettigan, director and owner of Trophy Bikes in Philly, doesn’t want any pesky punctures to prevent people from pedaling to the polls. | Photo courtesy Michael McGettigan, Trophy Bikes

Record-setting early and absentee voting numbers indicate “a great deal of enthusiasm and interest” among New Mexican voters in this midterm election, says one Duke City pollster.

This reflects what I heard from a poll worker when I threw the bums out the other day. Is it good news? Bad news? We’ll find out tomorrow evening, or Wednesday, depending on how close a thing it is.

Both parties were turning them out, but the Donks have the numbers in the early going, and New Mexico has a lot more registered Donks than Elefinks. You can get down in the Land of Enchantment’s political weeds over at Joe Monahan’s place.

Herself has been working the phones and going door to door, and she reports mostly positive interactions with The People, many of whom seem energized by the antics of Il Douche.

Charlie Pierce, meanwhile, is in Kansas, which he considers a bellwether for whether the ruthless avarice and ignorance that helped steer The Republic up to the hubs into a quagmire of orange sewage has overstayed its welcome.

All will be made known after the polls close tomorrow. Well, maybe not all. But we’ll certainly have a better idea of whether we’re still spinning our wheels or have decided to get out and push.

Oh, fudge

November 3, 2018

Is anyone else having trouble ginning up the requisite hope and enthusiasm for the midterms? Without resorting to actual gin, that is?

Election Day has a bit of a Christmas feel to me, but that’s not necessarily a good thing.

We were far from poor, but our parents had known Depression and war, so while Christmas around our house meant you were going to get something, it wouldn’t necessarily be whatever you wanted.

The folks had already seen plenty of surprises by the time we came around, and they were always on the lookout for the next one. So if we were compelled to endure the occasional Christmas-morning stunner as a consequence — jeans that weren’t Levis, some hardware-store bike instead of a Schwinn, and a dearth of official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifles — well, tough shit, kiddo. Welcome to the real world.

Some days, and especially lately, I feel half Ralphie and half his old man. Ginger bullies by day, flat tires by night. Hopes and dreams clash with doubts and despair, overlaid with a soundtrack in which “fudge” is never heard. There’s only “the word. The Big One. The queen mother of dirty words. The f-dash-dash-dash word.”

So, yeah. Go ahead and wish. Pit those hopes and dreams against doubts and despair. Get out and vote, unless you’re a Trumpetista, in which case you should stay home and shoot your eye out.

But keep a bar of soap handy in case you need to wash the fudge out of your mouth come Wednesday morning.

Pump bomb

October 24, 2018

Someone has a short fuse for the fake news.

Never fear. They missed me.

Checks and imbalances

September 28, 2018

Speaking as an angry white man, all these angry white men are starting to piss me off.

That eternal sense of entitlement was on full peacock display in yesterday’s Cirque du SoWhat? over whether the mendacious and elusive Bart O’Kavanaugh can stand erect long enough to make it to the Supreme Court.

The well of privilege seems bottomless from the top, and these angry white men will continue to draw from it until the bucket finally comes up filled with their obituaries.

Then, I suppose, their angry white sons will inherit the family business.

That business is bankrupt, but failure is for lesser men, and women. The angry white man picks himself up using our bootstraps and plows forward, like the dolt who, when told that he’s penniless, broke, flat busted, says, “That can’t be true. I still have checks in my checkbook.”

Actually, it’s our checkbook. And one of these days the angry white man’s mouth is going to use it to write a check his ass can’t cash.

But I don’t think we’re there yet.

The angry white man still has that big orange credit card we gave him back in 2016. And he’s gonna use that to buy shit the country doesn’t need and can’t afford until we take it away from him.

Remember your Martin Luther King: “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

 

Just. One. Senator.

August 27, 2018

One senator could make a difference? What a Capitol idea.

That’s all it would take, given the present composition of the Senate, for that august body to do its fucking job for a change.

As James Fallows notes:

Every one of them swore an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution, not simply their own careerist comfort. And not a one of them, yet, has been willing to risk comfort, career, or fund-raising to defend the constitutional check-and-balance prerogatives of their legislative branch. …

In any circumstances, the Senate’s arcane procedures mean that lone senators, determined to make a stand, can hold up business or block nominees to get their way. When the ruling party holds only 51 seats, or for the moment 50, the power of any one or two members goes up astronomically. With great power comes great responsibility—a responsibility that 50 men and women are choosing to shirk.

John McCain goes west

August 26, 2018

Just a little souvenir wisenheimery from the bad old days.

You’re going to see some relentless hagiography about John McCain from the national press for the better part of quite some time.

That’s the audience he played to, after all.

For a different perspective, check out Amy Silverman’s piece in the Phoenix New Times. Silverman, who covered McCain in the 1990s, calls him “one of the most fascinating politicians in history,” and a few other things, too.

I saw him mostly as a ruthless opportunist, a tireless self-promoter, focused on John McCain the Brand®. You could dig down into what seemed on the surface to be some statesmanly act and see the real McCain down there, smirking and rubbing his hands together. He recalled President Eisenhower’s secretary of defense, Charles Erwin Wilson, who famously told the Senate Committee on Armed Services: “For years I thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa. The difference did not exist.”

Substitute “John McCain” for “General Motors” and you’ll see what I mean.

Like George W. Bush he achieved high office thanks in part to a famous name, unearned wealth and a pugnacious ignorance that some mistook for straight shooting. Unlike Dubya, McCain was a sure-enough tough guy. But both suffered from the delusion that their guts held all the answers they’d ever need.

Hammers in search of nails, they teamed up to bring us the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which continue to rack up bills and body counts. For an up-close-and-personal look at the latter, see Pulitzer-winner C.J. Chivers and his excellent book, “The Fighters: Americans in Combat in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Remember “that old Beach Boys song? ‘Bomb Iran?'” You can be sure the Iranians do. As do more than a few American pilots who already had plenty on their plates, I imagine.

Here’s another lame joke that happily fell flat: For his last presidential bid, in 2008, McCain scraped the bottom of the Republican barrel and came up with running mate Caribou Barbie, in a stroke legitimizing the Tinfoil Beanie Brigade. Some think this is the shove that sent the Republic on its drunken stagger toward Il Douche, but we’ve always leaned in that direction and it was only a matter of time before we finally got there.

When you hear all the sermons about McCain’s selfless devotion to country, remember what he was willing to do to win the presidency. He would have sacrificed us all on the altar of his own ambition.

• Editor’s note: Charlie Pierce, who had a much closer look at McCain than I did, recalls a man he liked and admired, while adding that he “was destined, always, to disappoint me politically, but that was only because we didn’t agree on anything.”

Orange crush?

August 21, 2018

His Lardship on the throne.

For all the Trumpetistas who are having trouble reading the tea leaves, in the words of Mandy Cohen, mother of Brian of Nazareth:

“Now you listen ’ere! ‘Ee’s not the Messiah, ’ee’s a very naughty boy! Now go away!”

The (non-) shit monsoon

August 18, 2018

There’s some water up there this morning, and by this afternoon it may be down here.

Following the news lately reminds me of John Prine’s intro to “Dear Abby,” from his “Sweet Revenge” album.

Talking about reading a small English-language newspaper in Italy, he observed: “Every time you turned a page something just jumped right out at you.”

The deer didn’t get this one.

The old fight-or-flight reflex can only handle so much of that. Sometimes you have to take a deep breath, close the laptop, and walk away.

Lace up the shoes and go for a trail run. Log some Miles. Enjoy a frosty beverage. Watch the hummingbirds battle.

Stop and smell the roses.

Read something that doesn’t make you insane.

Listen to something that makes you want to dance. Then play a little something yourself.

Go for a nice long bike ride. Make sure it has fenders. Like the fella says, it never rains, but sometimes it pours.