Your Daily Bernie Bullshit

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The Calvinball revolution:

The Democratic party and its Chicago convention were torn apart in 1968 over a fundamental cleavage over the Vietnam War. The Sanders camp is going to blow up the convention to push debate schedule reform? That’s amazing. Reform of the primary process is a much more substantive matter. But remember, as I’ve argued before, the parts of the process most in need of reform (Caucuses and post-election day shenanigans) are the ones helping Sanders the most! Now his whole campaign is based on getting the superdelegates – which for most of the campaign he has said constitute the core anti-democratic aspect of the process – to hand him the nomination. Consistency is an overrated commodity in much of life, especially in politics. But you can’t make the logic of your arguments so structurally unsound that they collapse under the weight of their own ridiculousness.

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From what I can tell, the current Sanders campaign is riven between people who are increasingly upset or bewildered by what we might call the resurgent “burn it down” turn of Sanders outlook and others who are fully immersed in the feedback loop of grievance and paranoia that sees all the political events of the last year as a series of large and small scale conspiracies to deny the rectitude and destiny of Bernie Sanders. I’ve seen many, many campaigns. People put everything into it and losing is brutal and punishing. Folks on the losing side frequently go a little nuts, sometimes a lot nuts. The 2008 denouement really was pretty crazy. But it’s not clear that this time we have any countervailing force – adulthood, institutional buy-in, future careers, over-riding pragmatism to rein things in.

Only nihilists, college students who are living off their parents, and white employed men with nothing to fear from the Trump administration have the luxury of thinking like this. In other words, the Bernie coalition. Since Jane is on his payroll and also got a nice 200k golden parachute for destroying Burlington College, Sanders will be fine, too.

In case I’m not clear, fuck these guys.



Damning, But Also Missing the Point

The New York Times has a piece up on Donald Trump’s disgusting treatment of women:

Donald J. Trump had barely met Rowanne Brewer Lane when he asked her to change out of her clothes.

Donald was having a pool party at Mar-a-Lago. There were about 50 models and 30 men. There were girls in the pools, splashing around. For some reason Donald seemed a little smitten with me. He just started talking to me and nobody else.

He suddenly took me by the hand, and he started to show me around the mansion. He asked me if I had a swimsuit with me. I said no. I hadn’t intended to swim. He took me into a room and opened drawers and asked me to put on a swimsuit.

–Rowanne Brewer Lane, former companion

Ms. Brewer Lane, at the time a 26-year-old model, did as Mr. Trump asked. “I went into the bathroom and tried one on,” she recalled. It was a bikini. “I came out, and he said, ‘Wow.’ ”

Mr. Trump, then 44 and in the midst of his first divorce, decided to show her off to the crowd at Mar-a-Lago, his estate in Palm Beach, Fla. “He brought me out to the pool and said, ‘That is a stunning Trump girl, isn’t it?’ ” Ms. Brewer Lane said.

Donald Trump and women: The words evoke a familiar cascade of casual insults, hurled from the safe distance of a Twitter account, a radio show or a campaign podium. This is the public treatment of some women by Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president: degrading, impersonal, performed. “That must be a pretty picture, you dropping to your knees,” he told a female contestant on “The Celebrity Apprentice.” Rosie O’Donnell, he said, had a “fat, ugly face.” A lawyer who needed to pump milk for a newborn? “Disgusting,” he said.

But the 1990 episode at Mar-a-Lago that Ms. Brewer Lane described was different: a debasing face-to-face encounter between Mr. Trump and a young woman he hardly knew. This is the private treatment of some women by Mr. Trump, the up-close and more intimate encounters.

Don’t get me wrong- Trump’s behavior is misogynistic, dehumanizing, and vile, but the NY Times misses the point. This is how Donald Trump treats everyone- as objects to be used to fulfill his ambition. It just looks and is uglier with women because he views them as nothing more than shiny sex objects. But it’s exactly the same way he treats men- as objects to be used, manipulated, and deployed to fulfill his needs and ambitions and then discarded the moment they are useless.

Witness his behavior during the primary campaign with the other candidates. If someone is useful, he ignores or props them up like he did with Carson after Cruz beat him in Iowa. For goodness sakes, watch him literally use Chris Christie as a prop:

That’s just who he is. A sociopath. Probably technically a Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but I am sure there are actual experts who read this blog who can more accurately describe and ascribe the DSM to the Donald better than me.

It’s terrifying, really.








Your Own Private Air Force

Here’s an amazing piece at the Intercept by Jeremy Scahill and Matthew Cole (obv. no relation) about Erik Prince’s push to create his own air force and the horrifying implications that would come with that:

The story of how Prince secretly plotted to transform the two aircraft for his arsenal of mercenary services is based on interviews with nearly a dozen people who have worked with Prince over the years, including current and former business partners, as well as internal documents, memos, and emails. Over a two-year period, Prince exploited front companies and cutouts, hidden corporate ownership, a meeting with Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout’s weapons supplier, and at least one civil war in an effort to manufacture and ultimately sell his customized armed counterinsurgency aircraft. If he succeeded, Prince would possess two prototypes that would lay the foundation for a low-cost, high-powered air force capable of generating healthy profits while fulfilling his dream of privatized warfare.

As they say, read the whole thing.

I can’t think of anyone I would trust less with this capability. And why isn’t this guy in jail yet?








The Company He Keeps

Look who Ted Cruz has recruited as his economic advisor:

If it’s true that a man can be judged by the company he keeps, what are we to make of the appointment of former Sen. Phil Gramm as economic advisor to the Presidential campaign of Ted Cruz?

Cruz made the appointment Friday, when he collected Gramm’s endorsement of his quest for the Presidency.

As Micheal Hiltzik points out in his coverage of this — what’s the word?– curious appointment, Gramm is exactly whom you’d choose if one global financial meltdown just wasn’t delicious enough:

Gramm left a long record as a dedicated financial deregulator on Capitol Hill, with much of his effort aimed at freeing up trading in derivatives. That’s why he’s often identified as one of the godfathers of the 2008 financial crisis, which was spurred in part by banks’ imprudent trading and investing in these extremely complex financial instruments.

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Gramm himself is undeterred by his own disastrous record, and clearly Cruz is equally unbothered.  That would be why both men are ignoring Gramm’s last appearance as a campaign surrogate:

Gramm’s previous stint as a Presidential campaign advisor ended inauspiciously. That was in 2008, when he served as co-chairman of John McCain’s Presidential run.

Gramm’s most notable moment in that position came on July 10, 2008, when he dismissed the developing economic crisis as “a mental recession” in an interview–and video–released by the conservative Washington Times. “We’ve never been more dominant,” he said. “We’ve never had more natural advantages than we have today. We’ve sort of become a nation of whiners.” McCain immediately disavowed the remarks, and a few days later Gramm stepped down as his campaign co-chairman.

I’m assuming that Ted Cruz does actually hope to become president, and thus makes his choices in the belief that they will advance him to that end.  So I can only see two possible interpretations for this exhuming of one of the most egregious poster children for GOP economic failure.

One is that this is what epistemic closure looks like when it’s at home.  It takes a hermetic seal between you and reality to think the “nation of whiners” trope is a winner this year (or ever, really, but especially now).

The other is that this is just trolling, or rather yet one more instance of believing an action is simply good in itself, transcendently so, if it pisses liberals off.  Which lands Cruz — and the GOP — in exactly the same place as option one: doubling down on the crazy for reasons extremely clear only to those with the correct implants in their upper left second molar.

All of which is to say that I remain firm in my belief that the entity identifying itself as Senator Cruz is in fact one of these guys.

“Where are we going?”

“Galt’s Gulch”

“When?”

“Real soon!”

Image:  J. W. M. Turner, Sunrise With Sea Monsters, 1845



It’s Who They Are

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So while I was away from the computer today, the Republicans apparently decided to say fuck it, and are doing the legislative equivalent of YOLO. They’ve pulled down their pants down in public, are rubbing feces all over themselves, and doing a Burning Man tribal dance in front of the entire nation and world:

Senate Republican leaders, trying to slam shut any prospects for an election-year Supreme Court confirmation, said on Tuesday they would not even meet with President Obama’s nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, urged the president to reconsider even submitting a name.

At the same time, Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans issued a letter unanimously rejecting any confirmation hearings.

The actions of Senate Republican leaders and the committee of jurisdiction sent a clear signal to President Obama and wavering Republicans that their ranks would not crack. It also thrust the Senate into unprecedented territory; Senators meet with high-court nominees as matters of courtesy and cordiality, but even that tradition has been rejected.

Instead, Republican leaders vowed they would not even consider Mr. Obama’s nominee regardless of his or her qualifications.

And you can forget about recess appointments:

Senate Republicans aren’t going to take any chances that President Barack Obama might try to appoint a Supreme Court nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia while they’re not looking.

Obama has the constitutional right to “fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session” in what’s known as a recess appointment. It’s a controversial maneuver designed to bypass the Senate confirmation process, but Obama previously used it in 2012 to install long-delayed members of the National Labor Relations Board.

But Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Monday that he doesn’t expect the Senate to recess at all for the remainder of the year.

“I’d say it’s safe to say we’re going to do whatever it takes to make sure the president doesn’t issue any recess appointments,” Cornyn said.

There have been some, Kevin Drum, for example, who think that this has a lot to do with Robert Bork. This is the same excuse that is charitably rolled out by people who always seem to be blinded by the venality of the modern GOP. The Bork confirmation is blamed for the problems with all judicial nominations. It’s blamed for the loss of bipartisanship in general. Every time these claims are trotted out, they are also a sideways attack on Ted Kennedy, but it is worth remembering what precisely Ted Kennedy said about Robert Bork:

Mr. Bork should also be rejected by the Senate because he stands for an extremist view of the Constitution and the role of the Supreme Court that would have placed him outside the mainstream of American constitutional jurisprudence in the 1960s, let alone the 1980s. He opposed the Public Accommodations Civil Rights Act of 1964. He opposed the one-man one-vote decision of the Supreme Court the same year. He has said that the First Amendment applies only to political speech, not literature or works of art or scientific expression.

Under the twin pressures of academic rejection and the prospect of Senate rejection, Mr. Bork subsequently retracted the most neanderthal of these views on civil rights and the first amendment. But his mind-set is no less ominous today.

Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists would be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is often the only protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy.

Save the segregated lunch counter (and that’s only because it is a bridge too far even for our media, but not too far- google Trump + Muslim +Ban), everything Kennedy said about Bork is now enshrined within the mainstream of conservative thought and written in to the platforms of the GOP in many states for all to see. So no, this isn’t about Bork. This is merely the next logical step in the progression of a sociopathic party.

Drum’s fault is that he is a kind and decent man. I am not, and coupled with the fact that I was inside the belly of the beast for a long while, and I know how they think and act. I am unburdened by the blinders of good will, and have an easy formula for how I decide why and what the GOP is going to do in every situation. Merely imagine the dumbest, most venal, and most cynical self-serving immediate choice, add in a heap of racism and a little bit of Jesus, and you have whatever the Republicans will propose.

They aren’t just doing this because they can, they are doing it because they are scared, and they are afraid, and they are losing, and they know it. They are doing this because they hate Obama. This is the same kind of impotent rage they had towards Clinton, who just whipped them every single time and smiled all the way through it, but this time it is worse because Obama is a black man and the country has changed. They are losing the demographic war, so all they have is the courts and the hope that their jury-rigged voting process can keep things in place just a little bit longer. They are doing this because they know they are weak going into the 2016 election, and have convinced themselves that if they all stand together, the American people aren’t going to be able to pick out Kirk in Illinois or Toomey in PA or Johnson in Wisconsin or Portman in Ohio or Ayotte in NH and so on.

Just as serial killers ramp up the frequency and violence as their condition progresses, so do the sociopaths in Congress. It wasn’t too long ago we were all shocked at someone yelling “You lie” during the State of the Union, but here we are. They are weak and they are desperate and things are only going to get worse. It’s up to us to stop them.

Peak wingnut was a lie.



Aux Armes, Citoyenes!

It’s just being reported that the GOP caucus in the US Senate has decided that Presidenting while Democrat and/or Black is not to be allowed to happen.

That is — the majority party in The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body™ has decided that it will not entertain any piece of President Obama’s nomination for the still dead Scalia’s Supreme Court seat.  Zip, zero, nada, nothing:  no hearing, no vote, no respect for whatever jurist Obama chooses; for Obama himself, obviously; for the office of the President, clearly; and ultimately for the Constitution so many of those prating thugs assert they hold above all else.

To which my response is:

Thanks

Thank you.

You couldn’t have done a greater service to the Democratic Party’s hopes in November, and thus to the country.

It’s hard usually, as readers of this blog know, to cut through the noise of political blather and the insistent demands of daily life.  But this is one of those moments when stakes and character become clear — enough, I deeply hope, to move the dial in November. Most simply, if there were any enthusiasm gap between the parties, it’s going, going, gone now.

We have two jobs:  for one, elect the Democrat, whoever that may be, to the Presidency.  I’m more a Hillary person than a Bernie one, but I’ll pound the hills of New Hampshire for either one this coming fall, every damn chance I get.

The other:  these embarrassments as Senators must go:  Kirk, Johnson, Toomey, Portman, Ayotte.  The Florida open seat, and as distant hopes, McCain and Burr too.  I’ll be up in New Hampshire (as I may have mentioned a sentence or two ago), pounding the hills for Governor Hassan, every damn chance I get.  If you can get to a race that’s in the balance, do so.  If you can’t, do whatever else you can.

One last thought: I didn’t think that anything the GOP could do — especially an act as predictable as this — would do more than deepen my weary sense of “they are who we thought they were.” But this feels like a last straw. I’m just done with allowing any framing of this as “just politics” or what have you. I and a majority of my fellow citizens voted President Obama into office twice. The disrespect to him is something he can handle (better than I ever would). But it’s the delegitimizing of my vote, my choice, my place in American democracy that has just gotta stop. The current Republican Party has to be destroyed, root and branch. They are blight on policy, and a boil on the body politic. Time for them to go.