Battle Flag Acquisition Strategies

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Early this morning, I was doing some research on the endurance of corporate culture, studying how sometimes the spirit of a smaller, acquired firm can permeate the larger, acquiring organization. It’s not unusual for a big behemoth to acquire a scrappy smaller company solely for the purpose of infusing the moribund giant with fresh blood, and when the companies’ interests align, it can create an unstoppable marketplace force…for a while.

With that dynamic still on my mind, I moseyed over to Booman’s place and read a post that hit upon something that has been bothering me about the focus on the rebel flag in the wake of the domestic terrorist massacre in Charleston:

But the focus on the Confederate Flag can have an unfortunate side effect. What, after all, does that flag mean when it doesn’t simply mean white supremacy?

It’s meaning in those cases in nearly identical to the meaning of the modern conservative movement. It’s about disunion, and hostility to the federal government, and state’s rights. It’s anti-East Coast Establishment and anti-immigrant. It’s about an idealized and false past and preserving outworn and intolerant ideas. It’s about a perverse version of a highly provincial and particularized version of (predominantly) Protestant Christianity that has evolved to serve the interests of power elites in the South. It’s about an aggrieved sense of false persecution where white men are playing on the hardest difficulty setting rather than the easiest, and white Christians are as threatened as black Muslims and gays and Jews.

“Those blacks are raping our women and they have to go.”

That’s what the Confederate Flag is all about, but it’s also the basic message of Fox News and the whole Republican Party since the moment that Richard Nixon promised us law and order.

But it’s not black people who have to go.

It’s this whole Last Cause bullshit mentality that fuels our nation’s politics and lines the pockets of Ted Cruz just as surely as it has been lining the pockets of Walmart executives.

Today, maybe the governor down there had an epiphany. Maybe this massacre was the last straw. But, tomorrow, we’ll all be right back where we began with Congress acting like an occupying Confederate Army.

If we solve a symbolic problem and leave the rest untouched, then what will really change?

You can’t bury the Confederate Flag without, at the same time, burying the Conservative Movement.

Let’s get on with it.

He’s right. For many white people, the rebel flag represented moldy old myths about the antebellum South. But think about how nicely that mythology dovetailed with the lies about the pre-Civil Rights era that paleocons like Pat Buchanan tell themselves.

Like a moribund corporation, the GOP acquired Confederate culture with the Southern strategy, harnessing the racism in the South and its echo nationwide to build the present day Republican Party. That’s why Ronald Reagan launched his presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi. That’s why an always-wrong, New York City-born legacy hire who is relentlessly eager to send other people’s kids off to die in glorious causes is tweeting nonsense that his ancestors would find…puzzling:

So, the rebel flag should come down in South Carolina and every other state capitol in the former Confederacy, and with surprising (to me) swiftness, it looks like it will. That will be more than a symbolic victory; it will be the partial righting of a very old wrong.

But there’s a danger in “otherizing” the South in this context. It’s not wrong to condemn its blinkered myth-making and prideful backwardness, but there’s a hazard in moral preening within and outside of Dixie, a risk of declaring a tidy victory when the dinosaurs in the state capitols of the former Confederacy finally sink into the tarpit they’ve thrashed in for 150 years.

The risk is that we’ll lose focus on the modern day “Congress acting like an occupying Confederate Army,” as Booman put it. At its core, the Southern strategy was an attempt to roll back progress by hitching the anti-New Dealers’ star to the creaky old Confederate wagon. Its organizers weren’t all or even mostly slack-jawed yokels waving rebel flags. They included a fiery libertarian business man from Phoenix, a glib B-movie pitchman who hailed from Northern Illinois and a twitchy, paranoid Quaker from California.

To achieve true victory, we have to finally drive a stake through the heart of the Southern strategy, not just the Confederacy. So let’s make expunging the rebel flag from the public square the opening salvo in a larger battle to take our country back. Yes, that’s right, TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK. With no lies and decaying myths about what that means. The flag that represents it isn’t spotless. Its founding was rooted in slavery, genocide and the oppression of women. But unlike its dying counterpart, this flag is worth saving.



Three Time Losers

I’m sure most of us have many reasons to fervently hope that whichever hairball the GOP horks up for the presidential nomination in 2016 is soundly rejected by voters. But for me, not least on that long list is the hope that a third straight drubbing at the polls might prompt the Republicans to do some serious soul-searching.

Three presidential losses in a row prompted many Democrats to sell out the New Deal and adopt the corporate-friendly DLC bullshit line. Maybe Bill Clinton had to ride the Third Way slide to two-term victory — that’s debatable. We didn’t have to be happy about it, but it was better than another Poppy Bush term or a Bob Dole presidency.

Anyhoo, in this morning’s Wake Up Sheeple thread, I mentioned that losing three presidential races in a row (please FSM, let it be so!) would be a big fucking deal for Republicans. Not everyone agreed. Valued commenter JustRuss made some excellent points in the following reply:

To a party that cared about governing, sure. But “the party” is mostly the money, and they just want the government to stay the hell out of their way. And with the IRS and EPA being starved, TPP and other trade deals in the hopper, Citizen’s United, fracking bans being overturned left and right, they’re doing fine. Sure, it would be nice to have a Bush in the White House, but they’re getting most of what they want regardless. Having a Democrat in the White House gives them someone to blame when things go sideways and is a great focus for the rage their constituents are addicted to.

I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I’m not convinced you’re right either.

Those are all great points, and if the GOP could ride the current status quo forever, I’d agree that they could just disregard presidential losses indefinitely. But I don’t think they could maintain the status quo in the face of a mounting string of losses at the presidential level, even if they managed to keep winning in mid-term and state-level elections for a while.

Presidential elections in this country (maybe everywhere else too — I don’t know) are about a lot more than a transfer of specific powers; they’ve morphed into an absurd, trillion-dollar reality show spectacle, with the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Politics is a team sport.

And people don’t like losing over and over. If it keeps happening, they swear off the sport or find another team. Oh sure, some diehards will stand with their shitty loser team through thick and thin (maybe 27% or so). But the fan base won’t have a healthy growth rate, and the less committed will slink off to sulk at home or maybe even join another bandwagon.

That’s my theory, anyway. What do you think?



Can the Kochs Deliver the Mail Better than Florida Man?

kochrepAs I mentioned in comments on a thread yesterday, the Florida mailman who landed a gyrocopter at the US Capitol to draw attention to the corrupting influence of money in politics lives in the same media market I do and had informed a local paper of his plans prior to taking off. His stunt is therefore receiving more attention and in-depth coverage here than elsewhere.

The mailman is disappointed that the national corporate media outlets are focusing almost exclusively on the security vulnerabilities his flight revealed rather than the two-page campaign finance document he prepared for each congresscritter. The local outlets, having access to the mailman and greater interest due to the regional angle, are covering the campaign finance aspect. Not in sufficient depth, but at least they aren’t ignoring it altogether. The mailman won’t let them. Read more



Good news everybody

Cheaper, better, faster — not bad at all.



The Water’s Edge

Stung by President Obama’s end-zone spike during last night’s SOTU speech, Republican leaders have invited the REAL president of GOP America, Benjamin Netanyahu, to address Congress. Obama’s speech last night mostly focused on the stupid old USA rather that scary religions and foreigners, so Netanyahu’s remarks will be a refreshing change.

House Speaker John Boehner knows the Obama administration is involved in tricksy negotiations with Iran, and it’s important that he (Boehner) fuck them up. How else do you explain this message to his fellow GOPers?

You may have seen that on Friday, the president warned us not to move ahead with sanctions on Iran, a state sponsor of terror. His exact message to us was: “Hold your fire.” He expects us to stand idly by and do nothing while he cuts a bad deal with Iran. Two words: “Hell no!” … We’re going to do no such thing.

See, Obama, the duly elected President of the United States x2, naively believes he and his State Department minions are empowered to shape US foreign policy (with congressional consent, of course!), sort of like how the Bush-Cheney cabal felt entitled to destroy a bystander country and bone US taxpayers to the tune of a trillion dollars because 9/11. Nope.

I wonder if anyone will bother shrieking “Traitor!” at Boehner & Co. for openly undermining US negotiations with Iran? There wasn’t a fleck of paint on a building within a hundred miles of DC due to the wingnut screeching when a handful of Dems attempted to find out whether Saddam Hussein was a real threat in the run-up to the Iraq War.



Idiot Box (Open Thread)

I’m camped out in my yard watching a grill and anticipating some company. Thought I’d see what was on TV:

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Netanyahu lecturing us about what’s good for us. As a BFF, you understand.

Then Mittens:

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He was saying Obama should have listened to the Republicans and stayed in Iraq. He warned that thanks to Obummer, we’re going to probably need ground troops to settle ISIS’s hash. I’m sure Tagg, Lagg, Bagg, Ragg and Mittlet are at the recruiting office right now signing up for our next glorious Middle East adventure.

I changed channels:

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Ah. Much better!

Open thread.

ETA: In college football news, Florida finally shit-canned Muschamp. About damn time. Now, the AD needs to find someone with successful head coaching experience to replace him. Head coach of the Florida Gators is not an entry level job.



Fundamental divergence; oddity or realignment

There have been two interesting news stories on elections in the past week as well as an interesting inside baseball geek out concerning how to model and predict Senate elections that could be either interesting outliers, or harbingers of change.

The two interesting stories are the Democratic Parties of Kansas and Alaska happily seeing their preferred candidates for Senate and Governor respectively drop out of the race. There were no mysterious revelations of hookers, blow, green balloons, or toe tapping in the restroom. There were no plane crashes, there were no children of the candiddates being diagnosed with cancer.

Instead, the candidates dropped out in Kansas and formed a fusion/unity ticket to allow independent candidates who are polling well to be the primary opposition to Republican incumbents in deep red states. The basic thrust is that Senator Roberts and Governor Parnell are reasonably unpopular with the general electorate but could very easily cobble together a coalition of 43% of the voters. 43% is usually more than enough to win a plurality in a three way race, while 43% is a big loss in a two way race. The bet is that the independent candidates have a much higher probability of putting together a plurality or even better a clear majority coalition against the incumbent.

The basis of the bet is that both independents are former Republicans who look at the deep-red strains of the Republican Party and think they are sufficiently bat-shit insane that it was worth running against Republican incumbents. In Kansas, this has been a long tradition where the electorate has been split into nearly even chunks of Teabaggers/extreme conservatives, moderate Republicans and then a wide array of Democrats of various flavors. Democrats could win state wide office with good candidates who could pick up a good chunk of the moderate Republicans who were momentarily disgusted at the Teabaggers. It is a long and successful strategy. Democratic success in Alaska in the past generation has either counted on a felony conviction (later overturned) or a split Republican Party for any state wide wins.

If Democrats can successfully engage in a strategy of being the party of the sane and continue to pick up former Republicans (such as John Cole) without losing significant elements of the current Democratic base, is that the start of a realignment?

The other big, and geeky debate that I’ve been paying attention to has been the poll aggregating and prediction site differentials. Read more