Saturday, May 07, 2016

American Horror Story: Convention

If I ever get worried that I might occasionally get too over-the-top in my insults and pointed jeremiads against various assholes, all I have to do is keep in mind that there are true freaks out there. What do you even say to someone who emails a delegate that they're praying for said delegate to get prostate cancer because they might support Cruz instead of Drumpf at the convention? What the hell is wrong with these idiots?

Bonus points to Bobo Brooks, of all people, from a March column:

Donald Trump is epically unprepared to be president. He has no realistic policies, no advisers, no capacity to learn. His vast narcissism makes him a closed fortress. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and he’s uninterested in finding out. He insults the office Abraham Lincoln once occupied by running for it with less preparation than most of us would undertake to buy a sofa.

Trump is perhaps the most dishonest person to run for high office in our lifetimes. All politicians stretch the truth, but Trump has a steady obliviousness to accuracy.

This week, the Politico reporters Daniel Lippman, Darren Samuelsohn and Isaac Arnsdorf fact-checked 4.6 hours of Trump speeches and press conferences. They found more than five dozen untrue statements, or one every five minutes.

This is why, while I actually agree with Drumpf's assertions about his flock being dispossessed and left behind, and sympathize with the lost dreams of said flock, it's possible to feel only so much empathy for them. They voted for the politicians that did this to them, over and over again, for decades, generations. They were fine with selling out someone else's future somewhere else, so long as they got to keep their McJobs stamping overpriced widgets.

And when the optimizers came for their jobs, as optimizers eventually do, the flock squawked and brayed, plaintively, meaninglessly, unintelligibly.

Their logic is roughly this:

  1. Politicians have been for sale or rent forever and ever. It has always been thus. Maybe it's time to support someone who brags about renting and buying political favor.
  2. Jobs have been pushed overseas. Maybe it's time to support someone whose own products are manufactured overseas, who would never have his ties made here because Americans won't work for ten cents a week.

It is difficult to communicate with that kind of logic, to persuade against it. It's not that Drumpf is "wrong" about everything, or even "lying" about everything (although of course he is doing both those things with amazing consistency). It's that they stand there and listen to it, and cheer for more, even though it would take mere seconds for them to run down the falsity of his assertions, even though it would take just a few minutes to think critically about the practicality of his proposals.

Hillary Clinton is a dismal candidate with much baggage, though she has much room in which to improve, where Drumpf is constrained, ironically, by the requirements of his unbridled ego and id. A good candidate should be able to punish a transparent con-man buffoon like Drumpf, yet Clinton's knack for unforced errors and tone-deaf comments will keep it much closer than it should be, and may even conceivably redound to Drumpf. There are just enough morons in this country to do that; they put Fredo Arbusto in the White House twice and still champion a card-carrying bozo like Sarah Palin.

HRC's dopey response to an unemployed West Virginia coal miner is a case study in this very thing. Her default response is to defensively complain that she was taken out of context and didn't mean what she clearly said, instead of telling him the truth:  that the coal industry is dying for many reasons other than environmentalism, that mechanization and automation mean productivity gains, which means that fewer humans are needed to produce the same amount of coal. (In fact, the only reason per-employee-hour productivity has declined over the last decade is because aggregate production has been scaled back in response to renewable technology becoming more practical and affordable. We no longer need as much coal as we used to, and that trend is only going to increase.)

As solar and wind technologies become easier and cheaper to produce and deploy on mass scales, coal is going to be phased back, if not entirely out. This is not politics, it's math. Drumpf is not going to bring those jobs back; they're not coming back at all. What the residents of WV and Kentucky and other coal-producing states need is not platitudes and "out of context" excuses, they need opportunities to retrain and/or relocate.

It's a stark choice, but a choice all the same:  I will commit to funding a program that will offer retraining and/or relocation for coal industry workers, whether or not they currently still have a job. Or you can take your chances with the empty boasting of Fuckface Von Clownstick, who knows nothing at all about energy policy in general, or the coal industry in particular. You want Sarah Palin for Secretary of Energy, fucking go for it, pal. Let us know how it works out for you.

Time and again we are told that we should not "talk down" to these angry rubes, that their generations of Stockholm Syndrome have left them impervious to rational thought. I agree to a certain extent -- I believe that they should be told the hard truth, that things are changing, whether they want it or not, and they can either find a seat on the bus, or be left walking in the dust, wondering why there ain't no Dukes of Hazzard or Bugs Bunny on the teevee no more, waiting for some piece of shit to come by with their next oxy re-up. Simple as that.

Despite the plaints of his cult followers, Drumpf didn't "win" so much as he capitalized on the sheer ineptitude of every other contestant in an overcrowded field. He just happened to be the biggest predator in a third-world prison cell stuffed full of smaller, dumber cellmates. He had a brand and the know-how to use it, where they each took turns thinking that their money or their self-proposed gravitas would save them.

Nowhere did this turn out to be more starkly illustrated than the day of the Indiana primary, where Ted "Totally not the Zodiac Killer" Cruz, upset at yet another Drumpf jab insinuating that Cruz' whackjob evangelist father was a compadre of Lee Harvey Oswald, as reported in the National Enquirer (or as Drumpf calls it, "the paper"), decried at length Drumpf's ongoing perfidy. After months of taking Drumpf's lies and bullshit, now, now Cruz would hold forth and tell us what he really thought of Drumpf.

And then, of course, after doing so, after roundly excoriating Drumpf's dishonorable conduct and calumny, Cruz was asked if he would support Drumpf in the general election. Cruz refused to answer. This was the problem with all of them, all along -- they either waited until it was far too late in the game to punch back at Drumpf, or exposed themselves as empty vessels. Even a supposedly intelligent guy like Cruz should have been able to figure this out -- if Drumpf's a treacherous pig-fucker who's going to ruin the nation, you don't support him, right?

Another deep irony in this matchup is that Clinton is a much truer Republican than Drumpf, in the traditional sense. As such, it will be her instinct to reach out to disaffected Goopers, to tack right instead of shoring up the Berniebros, who would easily push her candidacy over the top. She can't help herself; it's in her nature. If there was ever a Democratic politician built to forget Truman's warning about fake Republicans and real ones, it's HRC.

Already the game theorists are telling us to prepare for an ugly barrage of nonsense from Drumpf to HRC, and rest assured he will not disappoint in that regard. It's in his nature, after all; much like regarding money merely as a means to keep score, meanness and cheap shots appear for Drumpf to be a natural substitute for his attenuated old-man sexuality. He gets it up by punching down.

But the real ugliness will come from the Democrats, to other Democrats. The Clintonistas will huff and puff at the disaffected Berniebros, thinking that their cheap N8rb8ing will serve as some sort of motivational tool, rather than simply affirming the suspicions of Sanders supporters that these officious cocksuckers have arrogated to themselves the right to lecture everyone else on how to vote.

Democrats get this ass-backwards every fucking time -- they buy the latest Thomas Frank font o' electoral wisdom, and expend all their energy reaching out to Midwestern dipshits who are never going to vote for them anyway. Sam Brownback gutted the state of Kansas, left it to bleed out like a hobo in a back alley, and they re-elected him.

What the fuck is Joe Democrat going to tell these people to convince them to stop voting for the bumicidal maniac? "I like killing bums too."? Okay, good luck with that. And then these DLC assholes wonder why not only does their natural base say "fuck it" and stay home, but that the fence-sitters they're genuflecting to see through the transparent bullshit and go for the real bum-killer. This guy Trump knows how to filet a fucking hobo, I tell you what!

Twisty sez:  Make America Bleed Again!
The smile mask of Drumpf's faux populism has long been ripped away, and all can see the brutalized, gaping, bloody maw beneath -- Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals alike can see it objectively for what it is. Some people are repulsed by it, others are inexorably drawn to it; they see things from Twisty the Clown's perspective. It is a complete waste of time, money, and effort to reach those people. It can never be said too often:  you cannot convince irrational people with a rational argument. Stop trying.

So the puzzlement really seems to be about the Republican "elites" who claim they cannot vote for Drumpf under any circumstances, or are waffling about it, waiting for someone to reach out and sway them. This group is comprised of rational thinkers, but only in the most self-serving sense; in other words, they would dig up the rotted corpse of John Wayne Gacy and nominate and vote for him if they thought there was an extra fifty cents in it for them. These pelf-grubbing bastards would push their own great-grandmothers into a wood chipper if it meant their bond yields would ramp up by half a point. They care nothing about policy effects on their communities, their cities, their states, or their country. So in pure ROI terms, it is still not really worth expending too much effort to reach them. They know exactly what they're doing, and why they're doing it. They will vote for whoever promises them the best financial deal.

Those are the people that the Democrats will strap on the kneepads for, every goddamned time. And they really don't need to, especially this time around; the reason HRC refuses to elaborate or repudiate her time shilling for and to Wall Street is that it's her ace in the hole. Don't be too surprised to hear whispers of Koch Brothers funding of her campaign at some point, should things get too close. What Wall Street fears the most is volatility, and the two candidates are an example of the extremes of that dynamic. Drumpf in fact prides himself on his unpredictable nature, and plans to make it a cornerstone of American negotiating policy.

What this election is really about, the real reason to vote for HRC -- or more practically, against Drumpf -- is the Supreme Court, obviously. Already there will be a minimum of two appointments for the next president, and possibly as many as four. It is an opportunity to at least ensure that the court does not get occupied by another smiling sociopath of the Fat Tony Scalia genus for the next generation or so. Whatever HRC's manifest faults, she is not likely to go the Scalito route.

Quite frankly, when we enumerate what we know and what we have reason to believe about each of the candidates, in terms of foreign policy and domestic policy, there's some daylight, but not a tremendous amount.

HRC appears to be a junior neocon at heart when it comes to foreign policy, and it's hard to find anything to be proud of during her tenure as SecState:  Putin does what he wants; ISIS and Boko Haram are being combatted with some effect, finally, but are still disruptive forces; and they completely fucked the dog on Libya and Egypt. Drumpf is whatever he says he is at any given moment, but mostly appears to be an ardent isolationist who wants to crush ISIS because it's politically popular, and would probably be fine with whatever collateral damage entailed from flattening entire cities to achieve that elusive goal.

Domestic policy tends mostly to affect only the wealthy and the destitute; those of us in between those two poles see no direct outcome, besides being forced to subsidize both in one respect or another. Yes, I'll grudgingly support this or that program to benefit drug-addled morons who refuse to stop breeding, not because Compassion but because I want them and their useless progeny to stay the fuck out of my garage. It's cheaper to bribe them than to imprison them, that's all. A massive infrastructure effort would certainly benefit most economic strata, but where the funding would come from is a valid question, and even Drumpf has endorsed such an effort, which may be the sole practical position of his entire campaign so far.

See, we're all angry about something, but as much as we hear about the anger of the average Drumpfster diver, very little of that anger is connected to anything pragmatic, or even possible, much less useful. Had they tethered that anger to something productive or realistic, we might have something in common. But the awful truth is that they're part of the problem -- they voted for the politicians; they refused to pay attention to the changing dynamic around them and retrain accordingly; kept buying at Wal-Mart while the mom-and-pop stores went under and their towns died on the vine; kept voting for fambly valyews hypocrites who changed nothing but whose nose was in the trough. They voted proudly and loudly against socialized medicine, and then made sure to get theirs when the Health Wagon came to town.

Perhaps I'm becoming more conservative as I grow older, as Churchill supposedly thought we all should. More likely it's just the notion that maybe people ought to bear the consequences of their own poor decisions and impulse control, especially when it becomes clear, listening to their bullshit rationalizations, that they have no value to offer their communities or to society at large, because they cannot think their way out of a paper bag. For them it's lose-lose either way:  Drumpf is going to fuck them because it is who he is and he's an ignoramus to boot; Clinton could give them free health care, free higher education, free job retraining, and a nice pony, and they'd still bitch about it because Benghazi or whatever arglebargle they're cluttering their brains with this week.

So fuck them already. Stop trying to reach out to them. Let them twist in the wind of their own making. Shore up your own Democratic Party base for once in your useless fucking lives. Understand who are your natural supporters, and give them at least a token nod to get their asses to the voting booth, instead of ankle-biting them back to the couch with your imaginary grievances about what they "owe" everyone else in terms of exercising their prerogative as citizens.

Or prepare yourselves for another couple decades of whinging about Bernie Sanders as the new Nader or whatever. The Nader-baiters, in their own tiresome way, are every bit as awful as the Drumpftards, because like that latter group, they don't just fail to apprehend what has been right in front of them all along, they take pride in it.

The next events in this interminable, hellish excuse for a political process in this country are the conventions. For months it has been acknowledged that it will be the GOP convention that will be the chaotic mess, possibly even violent. But the Democratic convention promises to be no picnic either; HRC's failure to win Indiana just gives Sanders and his (justifiably) angry supporters a little more momentum, a little more push. Of course, they are pushing a car that has run out of gas up a hill, just hoping to get to the crest and coast down. But it ain't gonna happen; again, not politics, just math.

Sanders is, even with his idealistic trappings, a politician at heart, and thus is most likely to be open to some sort of bargaining. Is the Clinton camp even trying to see what concessions he might want in exchange for wrapping up his support right now, nice and early, or are they just assuming that lecturing and browbeating will be more effective?

Most of the Berniebros will come around pretty quickly, I have a feeling; it is, after all, just the first week of May. But as the dominant delegate-holder in the Dem race, it is on Clinton to reach out to Sanders behind the scenes and say, Okay. What can we do to work together and rub Drumpfzilla into the dirt? It's going to be interesting to see what they come up with, or if for once, they suddenly feel like they're above mere horse-trading on principle.

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