There’s a movement afoot, an etymological land-grab, that involves centrists shouting at every opportunity: “eh, Sanders and Corbyn, Trump and Bolsano, they’re the same. Populists. The only people you can trust are … centrists.” It’s not a NEW movement, God knows, but the distortions that Trump has brought to the national discourse have led centrists to sense that they can seize this opportunity to lock out any significant deviation from full spectrum dominance. The weirdness of Facebook and Twitter’s intervention in the Hunter Biden laptop kerfuffle show just how emboldened they’ve become to block conservative AND progressive voices from access to what have become de facto All the New That’s Fit platforms.
This Guardian dispatch, for example, celebrates Jacinda Arden’s victory in New Zealand over the weekend, and manages to drag the words populist and populism through the mud with no little gusto. The author associates these words exclusively with the Right-Wing Murdochian populism, which doesn’t really involve actual populism and instead stands for the diametrical opposite of the powerful populist movement America has experienced on and off for more than a century. Monied interests, then as now, saw fit to trash the Good Kind of populism with every dirty trick in the book, including, I guess, by describing it it in this dishonest way.
Google Thomas Frank, for God’s sake, or watch/listen to Frank’s fascinating and entertaining guest appearance on Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper’s insanely great Useful Idiots podcast.
I know. This is a two-hour episode. But the time will absolutely fly by.
Want the tldr; ? Well, actually: we should never forget that Populism Is Good. Centrism, the game of footsie played by two (and only two) corrupt nihilistic parties, is what has given us our world. Precarity, disease, scarcity, the threat of nuclear Armageddon always present, and now on the brink of complete ecological collapse.
No, we can’t have populism. Anything but that.
I got so fussed over the besmirching of the fine word “populist” that I started googling around about Thomas Frank, our age’s foremost defender of the term, and found that he has written just a spectacular essay for Le Monde Diplomatique. I’m guessing he tried placing it in outlets more easily accessed by American readers, but the op-ed pages of major media platforms were stuffed to the gills with all the Fear pieces Frank describes here so well. And so funnily. Read this.
The big story today is the North Korea Summit in Singapore. There is a lot of incoherent sputtering going on about that (mostly because Trump is adjacent to the proceedings), but for me it seems pretty clear Koreans really want to move forward.
All other commentary has to take a back door to this tweet:
It is a wonderful day. Step outside yourself and see it through a Korean's eyes.
More and more it seems the Dems are a party that is shockingly content to keep losing, as long as they have the right sort of well-heeled suburban voters in their camp. Schumer’s comments on the 2-for-1 voter swap are positively delusional.
In 2016, Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, endorsed the party’s suburban priorities with the optimistic forecast that “for every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two, three moderate Republicans in the suburbs of Philadelphia.” (Mrs. Clinton was the first Democratic presidential candidate to lose Pennsylvania since Mr. Dukakis in 1988.)
The vote-purging approved by SCOTUS yesterday makes it more crucial than ever to get the voters currently not voting to vote. DUH! There are a LOT of them. And the current non-voters are not the sort of people HRC, Schumer and Pelosi like to sip white wine with. But it’s not their choice. It’s no longer their party, though they are slow to realize this. (Also, Obama deserves to be shamed for doing little to expand voting rights while the Ds controlled everything.)
The future of the party is working-class, poorer, people of color, people currently not working, single moms, immigrants. If they all voted, and voted Dem, the GOP would be out of business. The Dems have to stop acting like a GOP Lite that supports gay marriage (at least since 2013!!!) and women (just not Cynthia Nixon and uh Monica Lewinsky, and definitely not Susan Sarandon)…
Update, July 14, 2016: The news today is that Hillary Clinton’s once-formidable lead has shrunk to basically nothing, in a contest with a candidate who is pretty obviously trying to gift her the election.
From time to time I wonder about Trump being a put-up job. Look at the circumstances today.
If you are casting about for explanations of what is it about HRC that fails to connect with the voters, I’d like to re-up a little thing I wrote a couple months ago…. Bernie Sanders is apparently out of the race now, but that does not change the basic fact that Hillary’s is the “You’ll Get Nothing And Like It” candidacy.
Everybody’s got Hillary Clinton all wrong. So many words spilled about Hillary’s emails, sure, but nothing about Hillary Smails! There is only one letter that’s different! I have googled around and have not seen this argument advanced anywhere, so let me be the first to assert that Caddyshackgives us the key to understanding the 2016 race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
I don’t know the status of the investigation, but a potential FBI indictment is a hell of a thing to have hanging over a campaign, especially for a candidate widely considered a lock for the nomination.
Let those chips fall where they may. I’m with Bernie: enough with this talk about Hillary’s emails. A single letter is the difference between Hillary’s emails and Hillary SMAILS. And THAT’S what I want to talk about.
Hillary Smails, as in Judge Elihu Smails. Don’t go saying Murray or Dangerfield or, God forbid, Chevy Chase was the star of Caddyshack. They were all good, but Ted Knight so completely ruled.
Feel free to savor this terrific compilation reel of Smails highlights at your leisure. I started the clip at 1:30, where there are three straight scenes where Smails’ nervous little non-verbal chortles are just genius. “Ohh? Ho Ho. Ha Ha!” And of course at 2:38 comes the line that defines the character. “You’ll get nothing and like it!”
Now, cue up the all-but-certain Democratic nominee, SHOUTING something like Elihu’s catchphrase: that single payer “Will never, ever come to pass.” You can see her crew nodding their heads sagely. Tsk. Tsk. Those silly single-payer dreamers. “You’ll get nothing and like it!” is an applause line for her! Last week we learned that consultants working for the Super PACs backing Hillary Clinton are joining in the battle to defeat a single-payer proposition for the state of Colorado. So not only is it, “Single payer is never ever going to happen.” It’s “Single payer is never, ever going to happen, because my people are working to prevent it from happening.” One wonders how that would play as an applause line.
Just as Judge Smails had a foil in Dangerfield’s crass interloper Al Czervik–utterer of the the film’s ultimate line,“Hey everybody, we’re all gonna get laid!”–so too does Hillary have a a foil in Senator Sanders, portrayed (widely and wrongly) in mainstream accounts as a naif promising everybody “free stuff.”
Even as the consensus says he has no path to victory, he continues to surge, filling stadiums, dominating primaries as he did Tuesday, winning every county in West Virginia. West Virginia! (I know. It’s become home to racists since Hillary won there in 2008, apparently, a state of affairs that can only be explained by Carl Diggler.)
My admiration for Bernie is neither absolute, nor unconditional. I don’t agree with him on all policy fronts. There’s the gun control thing, and the fact that he’s a little too accepting of the foreign policy consensus–drone bombing, extrajudicial assassination, and whatnot. But all in all, for a candidate that actually still has a (slim) chance to win the whole thing, I mean, my God. He has ideas, good ones, and speaks his mind. This is a once-in-a-generation politician.
Whatever happens over the next 180 days or so, Bernie has changed the expectations of what government can offer. His proposals for tuition-free public college and single payer are far from idealistic, or unrealistic. They are what governments offer in virtually every other civilized country. Sanders putting those ideas out there is an embarrassment to Clinton and the DNC, and their promise of nothing–of basically not being Trump. (Do I even need to say I find Trump terrifying? But he is a symptom, not the disease.) I may be wrong, but there’s a fair bit of evidence that the neoliberal experiment–from the Atari Democrats forward–is in its last days. Add up the Sanders and Trump supporters, and you’ll find something like two-thirds of Americans are contemptuous of the pitiful things the Democrats (and their Republican partners) have offered in exchange for economic security. You may have lost your job and your pension, but LOOK: NAFTA and 401(k)s!
Hillary’s going to get the nomination. The MATH! They say. And she will go on to win easily. If you say so.
Ignore all the polls that have Sanders easily beating Trump head to head, and Hillary struggling. Just today a Quinnipiac poll reveals that Clinton’s until-very-recently substantial lead is gone: she and Trump are virtually tied in three key swing states, and yes, that Bernie beats Trump in all of them.
Contrast the images from, say, the Sanders rally in Washington Square Park with this pitiful clip from an appearance by the front-runner in Los Angeles earlier this week. Which candidate looks like a future president?
LA doesn't seem to like Hillary Clinton..her campaign rally today lasted less than a minute. This is over half of it pic.twitter.com/5IwqTTuTqv
There’s been a gleeful sense of schadenfreude in the coverage churned out by left-leaning outlets in particular. How lovely it has been to watch the conservative movement’s house of cards fall into shambles!
The problem, of course, is that Republicans aren’t the only party facing an historic rift. Over the past two weeks, it’s become increasingly obvious that grassroots liberals are thoroughly disgusted by their own party establishment.
The Republicans no doubt face a brutal convention, in which they must either nominate an unpopular candidate or incur the wrath of the masses by handpicking an establishment figure.
But the Democrats already face a kind of inverse dilemma. Barring a miracle, they will nominate an establishment candidate who is at best tepidly supported, and at worst reviled, by those who have rallied behind her insurgent foe, Bernie Sanders.
Remember, the whole primary season is designed to consolidate support behind the frontrunner. At this point in the race, with only one opponent—an elderly socialist from Vermont with a degree from the Larry David School of Charm — Clinton should be turning her attention to the general election.
Right wing pundits—a sad and desperate lot at the moment — eagerly compareSanders to Trump. The idea here is that the widespread disgust with Washington’s dysfunction has opened the door to outsider demagogues who spout lurid promises.
In fact, Sanders and Trump have about as much in common as George Wallace and Eugene Debs. Sanders isn’t trying to sell steaks or live out some Reality TV fantasy. He entered politics from the tradition of social justice .
The reason he keeps beating Hillary Clinton is because a huge portion of the electorate—particularly young voters—is yearning for the kind of explicit social justice he’s prescribing. To put it bluntly: he’s articulating a moral vision, not an electoral path to the White House.
And that, frankly, is what the Democratic Party used to do, back in the era of the New Deal and the Great Society. It offered as its essential pitch to voters a compassionate and responsive government that sought to combat — or at least mitigate — the corrosive values of a capitalist theocracy.
What does the modern Democratic Party offer? The strategy put forward by Bill Clinton was called “triangulation.” And while it may have worked in an electoral sense, the de facto result was a strategy of appeasement that left Democrats pushing conservative policies: welfare reform, tax cuts, financial deregulation.
Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act, is essentially theprogram Bob Dole proposed back in 1993. His solution to our suicidal dependence on fossil fuels—cap-and-trade—is yet another recycled Republican idea.
The modern Democratic Party, in other words, has chosen to enable — and in many cases sponsor—policies that have allowed capitalism to act like a giant centrifuge, concentrating wealth and power in the hands of the few to the detriment of the many.
Not entirely bad news, this implosion. I guess I have my own twisted version of the schadenfreude regarding a party whose leader Debbie Wasserman Schultz carves up legislation to benefit PAYDAY LENDERS–in an election season. Is that party — or the dominant DNC wing — really worth saving?
But I will confess to getting sad in advance at the prospect of Hillary barely surviving Bernie’s challenge, thanks in large part to mastery of the arcane anti-democratic machinery of primaries, caucuses and superdelegates, and limping to the presidency. Where I have every confidence she will be terrible.
But should that happen, I’m hoping to see follow-through with the 80-90 percent of young voters who favor the Sanders view, that there will be progressive candidates winning the seats the Democratic leadership can’t even be bothered to contest, obsessed as they are with the spoils of presidential politics.
Not giving up on Bernie, though. If the Dems REALLY cared about guaranteeing a win for the party in November, he is their guy. If he falls short, it will be a race between two candidates everybody hates.
My optimism is stubborn, though. I hold out high hopes for the Mark Ruffalo/Rosario Dawson ticket in 2020.
It’s from an incredible, appalling true-life James Ellroy story taking place in Orange County. The bruised face belongs to defense attorney James Crawford. On Wednesday, according to the Los Angeles Times, Crawford was beaten bloody by a cop working for the Orange County district attorney’s office, after Crawford got charges dismissed against his (Crawford’s) client. The Times says Crawford’s client’s acquittal is the latest “humiliation” for the DA’s office, which “has seen case after case unravel in an ongoing scandal regarding the misuse of jailhouse informants.”
Bear with me here. I see that bloodied face serving as some sort of metaphor for Donald Trump’s campaign and movement, after the truly awe-inspiring direct action by teachers, unions, and activists in Chicago Friday night that forced Trump to cancel a rally of his supporters. Whatever else comes of this– more good than ill, but more violence seems a given–at the very least. seventy-plus-year-old rednecks will think twice about sucker-punching young black men.
I also imagine bloodied is a good description of how the Hillary Clinton campaign feels in the wake of its Very Bad Day yesterday, which began with Hillary praising Nancy Reagan–Nancy Reagan!!–for starting a national conversation about AIDS.
Uh. No. Writes Sam Biddle of Gawker:
In an interview conducted at Nancy Reagan’s funeral today, Hillary Clinton recounted a version of history that didn’t happen, lauding the former first lady’s “low key advocacy” for the cause of HIV/AIDS awareness. “Low key” is one way of putting it. In fact, the Reagan White House is infamous for its lengthy, deadly silence on the epidemic.
It took twitter no time to erupt in a chorus of near-universal derision. Hillary actually sort of apologized, saying she misspoke, but nah…
Her political acumen, such as it is, was on display yet again in the evening. The streets of Chicago were filled with Trump supporters and the aforementioned protesters. It was all everyone on twitter could talk about. One got the sense (or I did, anyway) that the game was changing. Trump had absolutely paralyzed the parties and the elites, and here a bunch of kids, and workers, and teachers had stood up to his bullying, ethno-nationalist steamroller and turned it around. Bernie Sanders happened to be on the scene, at a pre-scheduled rally that ended in great good cheer and a rousing version of Woody Guthrie’s should-be national anthem “This Land Is Your Land.”
Clinton got it, that she had to do SOMETHING to respond to the moment. So she issued this:
If anything, this made her look more out-of-touch than her afternoon debacle. Here’s a representative reaction:
Protesters shut down Trump bc he emboldens coward racists like Dylan Roof, how dare you use CHARLESTON to shame them https://t.co/MzFwfVziLq
I don’t find it productive to criticize Hillary on her personality or “leadership” qualities because these terms are so nebulous, useful only in narrowly-defined horse-race discussions of the relative merits of the two (only two) candidates pre-selected by the major parties and their donors. Policies. Let’s talk about policies.
In Hillary’s case, her policies are a smoldering garbage fire of corporatism, interventionism, neoliberalism and vaguely uplifting platitudes. The events of Friday convinced me that, even if her policies weren’t awful, Hillary seems overwhelmed by our particular historical moment.
I find many of Obama’s policies reprehensible, but I never doubt his capacity for understanding what’s actually happening around him. With Hillary, the events of Friday, and her tone-deaf reactions to them, make me question her basic grasp on reality.
Of all the candidates running, only Sanders seems to have any sort of clue. Events might be too big for him as well. We’re looking at a 1968 kind of year. And yet I’m pretty certain that people working on his campaign are going to come in to work this week with a sense of destiny and purpose. Really don’t think you could say the same for the Clinton campaigners.
The divine Julie Christie came into this world 75 years ago today, which is something to ponder and/or celebrate. Here is an interview she did in 1967 for something called “Tonight, Let’s All Make Love in London”….
… and there’s this amazing clip from the other end of her career…
Two other historical resonances to note for April 14, 2015. First, the unhappy anniversary: it’s been 150 years since John Wilkes Booth shot Abe Lincoln with a derringer (!) at a performance of “Our American Cousin.”
Second, it’s apparently also the target date for the Back to the Future Delorean time machine, so there’s that.
It’s a little early for me even to try to wrap my head around the awfulness of the coming (likely) Clinton v. Bush death march. Already I have Facebook acquaintances throwing down the gauntlet, daring anyone to question the inevitability of the Hillary express. I have yet to take the bait, but it’s, what, 18 months to go? Don’t know if I can hold out.
She does seem pretty fricking inevitable at this point, I will grant you that.
It’s true: There are definitely ways to restore popular control of federal elections that increasingly seem to have little or nothing to do with the popular will. Indefatigable antiwar activist David Swanson does a nice job in laying out all the things that have to be changed at the activist level:
Instead, we need to grab this moment in which two corrupt dynasties are vying for royal powers, to use every nonviolent tool available to work at the local, state, and federal levels for:
No private election spending.
Free media air time on our air waves for candidates qualified by signature gathering.
Public financing, ballot access, and debate access for candidates qualified by signature gathering.
Hand-counted paper ballots publicly counted in every polling place.
Election day holiday.
Limited campaign season.
Automatic voter registration.
National popular vote with no electoral college.
Mandatory voting with an option for “none of the above.”
Can’t explain exactly why I’ve been silent here for so long, or why I’m finally prodded into action by this (uncharacteristically) dumb Charles Pierce reaction to the “Obamacare by Morning” schtick at the CMAs the other night.
To these lyin’ eyes, Brad and Carrie’s routine looks like a fairly safe, innocuous jab at a much-discussed current event. And clever. Both in the wordplay and by the fact that it butters up featured CMA guest George Strait, who doesn’t always turn up for awards shows.
Its attitude is pretty closely aligned to this (also very funny) bit from the Daily Show:
But Brad and Carrie really set something off in Pierce:
Let’s forget, shall we, that the act is working gloriously in places like Kentucky, but that places like Tennessee, which hosted the yearly gathering of artificial redneck morons, have decided to sabotage the act because Tennessee insists on electing idiots, which is why there are a lot of the problems for Jethro and Zelda Mae to make sport of on the electric teevee. Let’s also forget how much an actual Medicaid expansion would help in all those Southern states where these posers sell records and that have governors who suddenly find themselves allergic to Free Money (!) Let’s also forget that none of the make-believe goobers on stage last night ever are going to have to make the decision between medicine for the kids and food on the table.
Not a lot to disagree with here on the substance (though I might be cautious about proclaiming “the act is working gloriously in places like Kentucky” until those enrolled actually try to get their claims processed), but what is notable (beyond the embarrassing attempt at country diction) is the contemptuous “How Dare They” vibe. “Jethro and Zelda Mae.” Wow. “Make-believe goobers”! Pierce knows as well as anyone the glaring issues with ACA, and Jon Stewart’s much more critical satire goes unremarked, but country singers making fun of what is looking (sadly) to be a prototypical product of 21st century (neo)liberalism is just too much for Mr. Pierce to bear.
First the ad hominem, and then the revealing obiter dictum.
Let’s forget all of that and concentrate on the main issue — which is that I think modern country music sucks gigantic bowls of monkey dick. It is, weight for age, the phoniest genre of music since Pat Boone was ripping off Little Richard. Most of what is celebrated as “country” these days is simply bad rock and roll played by people who look like they flunked the audition for a Night Ranger tribute band. I mean, Taylor Fking Swift is already a “legend,” and Patsy Cline would have eaten her on toast.
Stop the presses. Boston-based writer derides current country music as fake, knows what REAL country music is.
Pierce then moves on to the musical question “You know what coutry music is?” and name checks Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle and Harvard Divinity School dropout Gram Parsons. I’m a fan of all of these guys, but every one of them is a middle-class white dude, applying a bookish veneer to the country genre. To Pierce’s credit he does mention Loretta Lynn, but doesn’t link to any of her iconic songs (you know, the ones a Jethro or Zelda Mae might know), but to “Van Lear Rose,” from the all-over-the-place album she did with another slummer, hipster Jack White.
Which is a little weird. And where am I going with this exactly?
A first bash: patronizing east coast writer’s take can be summarized as: these rubes don’t know what they want (the ACA), or even what they like (debased country music, not the “real” stuff), and they sure as shit don’t know what’s good for them. There’s a lot of the crazy in Southern-identified folks mistrust of Yankee superciliousness, but sometimes there’s some justification….
Country music left its rural roots behind at least as far back as the (then-maligned, now celebrated) countrypolitan era. It’s been a suburban thing for half a century, so the Jethro and Zelda Mae jibe is kind of out of the blue. Are Brad and Carrie trying to act like hicks? Does Carrie Underwood have her teeth blacked out? Not exactly. Say what you will about her outfit here but … not exactly. (OK. Paisley does wear a cowboy hat. It’s a Nashville thing, a shorthand connection to country’s real country (distant) past. Also, a godsend for artists with receding hairlines.)
Ian Crouch’s dispatch in the New Yorker, while still a tad glib, at least indicates that he actually saw the CMAs and didn’t just fly off the handle because OMG these rubes were making fun of Obamacare.
And the music itself, as always, has one foot in respectability and the other in foolishness. The best-selling country album in the United States right now is a Christmas collection recorded by the family from “Duck Dynasty.” One of the tracks, “Away in a Manger,” features the vocals of Alison Krauss. It’s still a weird swamp down there in Nashville.
Weird swamp indeed. And it has always been so. As someone who listens to a lot of country music, both old (“authentic”) and new (“bogus”), I have a lot of problems with contemporary music trends, but beg to differ with the notion that today’s country stars are talentless hacks. All of them are in possession of major chops, as players, singers or writers (or all three) or they wouldn’t be on the CMA stage rubbing elbows with Vince Gill.
Random anecdote: I recently had a quick overnight visit to Nashville. Three friends and I went out to see some music. Being cheap–we only went to free bars, –and old–our night started at 5 and ended before midnight–, we were exposed to the absolute bottom tier of Nashville talent (it was a Sunday night too) but I found it pretty remarkable that everybody at that level could really play and sing. There are tens of thousands of full-time musical strivers between these cover musicians and the Carries, Brads, and yes, Taylors. Country is another classic American winner-take-all, long-shot business–like the movies, pro sports, and fashion–but the problem is never the talent. The business of Nashville is just like those other show biz machines. It mercilessly molds artists into a template that is predictable and sells. But the talent shows through, it always has. Personally, this is why I pay attention to any pop culture: genius, of some sort, rising above an overly rigid framework. The auteur theory of country music, to get all grad schoolier than thou.
A common tactic of those who argue for a false Golden Age of anything is to set up a dubiously intense competition between artists of yore and the poseurs of today. So “Taylor Fking Swift is already a ‘legend,’ and Patsy Cline would have eaten her on toast”. I disagree. If Patsy and Taylor had been contemporaries, they would have collaborated dozens of times.
To be even more contrary, I would go so far as to say that we are in the midst of a Golden Age of Nashville, for female singers and songwriters, at least. In thirty years, a crusty writer will spit when mentioning the current crop of fake country talent, fix you with a steely gaze, jab a bony finger in your chest and say, “Now Miranda Lambert. There was a true badass country singer.” (And so she is)….
Once again stuck for a way to end this, am bailed out by the great Robbie Fulks, who has noticed the tendency of Yankees to preach to country folks what real country is. I love the weird and wonderful adjectival mouthful below, and think Pierce might find himself somewhere in there. He certainly will see his reflection in the opinionated, overalled Bostonian (cue to 2:22).
Not a hillbilly dilletante, fair weather hick, demi-clod, faux po’folks, well-readneck…
Robert-E.-come-lately hayseed wanna-be undercover Yankee…
Mississippi Ph. D., Alabamateur, 50% less Tarheel armchair Arkansan
The basic outlines of American economic policy and foreign policy remain the same, even as Congress and the White House change hands. The changes promised by progressive Democrats and Tea Party Republicans are quickly discarded after the elections.
The changes that do take place are often the opposite of those that majorities of Americans want. Most Americans want Social Security to be strengthened and American manufacturing protected. But the conversation among elites inside the Beltway-New York bubble is about cutting Social Security and more one-sided “free trade” deals with mercantilist nations that, unlike the U.S., protect and promote their domestic industries.
Many Americans have come to the conclusion that nobody represents them in Washington anymore. They are right.
PS And on that one tiny sliver of something that might, in a pinch, be called progressive, the “extension” of unemployment benefits, another case of false, or at least deceptive advertising:
Just to be clear, the “extension of the unemployment benefits” is an extension of the qualifying dates for the various tiers of benefits, and not additional weeks of benefits. There is no additional help for the so-called “99ers”.
As is typical, the most concise and most biting analysis of the recent Electiontainment Follies comes from Mr. Cockburn over at Counterpunch. “America the Clueless” is guaranteed to raise the hackles of partisans of all stripes (a good thing).
The American people have spoken, but it’s impossible to decode their incoherent message. Drunk with their capture of the House of Representatives, the Republicans thunder that the verdict of ballot boxes from Maine to Hawai’i is clarion-clear: the ultimate evil in America is government, specifically government as led by President Barack Obama. But when exit pollsters questioned voters on their way to those same ballot boxes, as to who should take the blame for the country’s economic problems, 35 per cent said Wall Street, 30 per cent said Bush and 23 per cent Obama. The American people want a government that mustn’t govern, a budget that must simultaneously balance and create jobs, cut spending across the board and leave the Defense budget intact. Collectively, the election makes clear, they haven’t a clue which way to march.
A couple of choice snippets:
On Harry Reid and the bizarre challenge mounted by Ms. Angle:
It should be added that the powerful corporate and labor interests in the state of Nevada , most notably in the gambling and entertainment and construction sector, were all aghast at the possibility that economically stricken Nevada might cease to have its cause promoted in Washington DC by the most powerful man in the U.S. Senate, and instead have as their tribune a racist dingbat with zero political clout. If ever there was a need for the fix to be in, and seasoned fixers available to face the task, it was surely in Nevada. But that said, Angle and the Tea Party may have engineered defeat all on their own.
And the Rand Paul/Reagan nexus (or disconnect):
The second craziest victory speech of the evening came from a Tea Party man, Rand Paul, now the Republican senator from Kentucky. “We’re enslaved by debt,” he screamed at his cheering supporters and followed this by savage diatribes about any constructive role for government. Now it’s possible that Paul, inflamed with libertarian principle, could actually try to filibuster the next vote in the US Senate to authorize an increase in the US national debt. As awed commentators swiftly noted, he could plunge the United States into default, bring economic devastation to the world.
On the other hand, the history of the Republican Party is supposed crazies, like Ronald Reagan who campaigned against the deficit in 1980, coming to heel and plunging the United States into a vast new ocean of red ink, courtesy of his tax cuts. It’s what drives the Tea Partiers crazy. They do know one basic truth – that to govern is to betray and they are in line for betrayal.
Nor does Cockburn sugar-coat things for the strikingly (still!) large contingent of Obama loyalists. (But if the die-hards can overlook the fact that the only peep to emerge from the White House on the night the President’s party was being slaughtered was a statement in praise of the defeat of Prop 19 (“screw you, young people“), this will probably roll off their backs as well):
The landscape has changed. The Republican swing in the House was as dramatic as in 1994, after two years of Bill Clinton. Democrats who entered Congress on Obama’s coattails have now been ousted. What lies ahead is a war of maneuver, between the White House and the Republican leadership. Obama has been weakened — deservedly so, because a large part of Tuesday’s disaster for his party can be laid at his door. He laid down no convincing political theme, mounted no effective offense, relied on a team of advisors of dubious competence, which had run out of steam. He himself tried to run for and against an effective role for government, made the same childish equations of domestic and federal budgets, sent out mixed messages, lost the confidence of the young and of a vital slice of the independents.
All the same, after two years, the polls show Obama is no more unpopular than was Clinton in 1994. By 1996 Clinton had outmaneuvered the Republican leadership and won reelection in 1996. Today the economic situation is far worse than it was in 1994. No effective political and economic strategy for recovery is on the cards in the current atmosphere. As always, these days in America, our last best friend will be gridlock.
He’s saying we can pretty much count on the incompetence of politicians of both classes. I wish I were as optimistic as he is.
Chris Hedges continues to hammer on the failure of the liberal class. And I can’t say I find much with which to disagree—either in the video above or his recent piece “The World Liberal Opportunists Made.”
I get so tired of the fearmongering about the threat to Democracy posed by Rush, Beck, Christine O’Donnell and Palin. It is absolutely true that they are are clowns, dangerous clowns. But at the moment they hold zero real political power. One wishes the Democrats would stop talking about how awful their opponents are, and just run things, as they were elected to do. But that is the only weapon left in their arsenal. Unwilling to actually enact changes that live up to their purported ideals, all they can do is say, “Look over there. What if those bad people actually took power!?”
Not that there’s any chance of the Dems finding their spine at this point, but even if they did, Hedges says it’s already gone too far.
An ineffectual liberal class, in short, means there is no hope, however remote, of a correction or a reversal through the political system and electoral politics. The liberals’ disintegration ensures that the frustration and anger among the working and the middle class will find expression in a rejection of traditional liberal institutions and the civilities of a liberal democracy. The very forces that co-opted the liberal class and are responsible for the impoverishment of the state will, ironically, reap benefits from the collapse. These corporate manipulators are busy channeling rage away from the corporate and military forces hollowing out the nation from the inside and are turning that anger toward the weak remnants of liberalism. It does not help our cause that liberals indeed turned their backs on the working and middle class.