Why vote for the lesser evil, indeed? The Stars have finally aligned for Senator McCain, who is, in fact, actually a brain in a jar substituted for the real John McCain in 1972 (while still a POW) who has taken the long, cold journey from the Planet Yuggoth. The Elder Sign Party’s secret to infiltrate the US Government was scotched back when Ronald Reagan had his polyps removed before he could invert and turn into a flying polyp. This maintained the influence of the Great Race on the POTUS… continuing a war dating back millenia… now in the shadows after the Truce of Yaksh and Tond. This time, the mi-go will NOT BE DENIED THEIR PLACE AT THE TABLE.

IA!IA!CTHULHU F’THAGN!

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Spinal Tap once again proves that truth is stranger than fiction:

Recently, ABBA’s former drummer died in a bizarre gardening accident.

The late, great Jeff Porcaro‘s widow claims to this day that her husband died from a heart attack brought on by an allergic reaction to the pesticide he was using in his garden, not a drug overdose… that’s right, a bizarre gardening accident. (Decades of drug use must have counted, though.)

Jim Hodder, also a former Steely Dan drummer (he and Jeff both played with the Dan—at the same time—back in the mid ’70s), drowned in his swimming pool. Not quite a bizarre gardening accident but within spitting distance since the backyard is what the Brits call “the garden”….

So what is it with drummers? Or is it musicians? Or is it all “man bites dog” publication bias? Discuss!

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ObFascism Tag: If it were up to those hateful fascist safety regulators—who Hate America and Everything It Stands For!—there would be no more bizarre gardening accidents.

No, no, no, no, no. That was not a great celebration of African-American history. That was a celebration of American history. —Barack Obama, when asked about a celebration of the place of the March on Selma in African-American history. (Taken from Andrew Sullivan’s blog, May 24, 2007.)

It is like a finger pointing away to the moon. Do not concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory. —Bruce Lee, Enter the Dragon (1973)

I hate to break it to you all but, unless things shift around quite a bit in Ohio and Texas real soon now, the first female president is not going to be one Hillary Rodham Clinton, nominally of Chappauqua, New York. We’ll just have to wait until later in the week to find out.

Is this unjust? Nope, it’s just how things worked out given the Clinton campaign’s manifest deficiencies in management, though she and many of her followers seem to think so. Numerous articles, such as this one by otherwise uber-angry feminist Maureen Dowd, point out:

Liberal columnists have waged battle on the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times and other major media outlets about her (compare, oh, Frank Rich to Paul Krugman), or, among readers on Stanley Fish’s blog. Many of the comments note something to the effect of “I went through the first wave of feminism and so I know where she’s coming from.” In my view, the fact that HRC comes from that first generation is precisely the problem.

One of the reasons that Obama has been so successful is that he’s not viewed as “in your face” about being black. He’s a politician who happens to be black, in an odd, decidedly non-traditional way which is itself part of his broader appeal. Jesse Jackson, lest we forget, ran for president twice and won primaries, several of them, in both 1984 and 1988. He was a serious candidate, but I don’t believe anyone really thought he was going to win. Eddie Murphy did a really hilarious skit on this on the now-classic “Delirious.” (Sadly no Youtube of it alone I could find… but check out this.) The problem is that Jesse Jackson came out of the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. Obama is obviously the most successful of this new breed of black politicians who has benefited enormously from the civil rights generation, who protested so that, now, Obama doesn’t have to. He got to have a conflicted mental life as a young man but, ultimately, went to Columbia and Harvard Law—Ivy League bastions of white privilege not all that long ago—and succeeded at both places on his own terms. This is to the good, whether you plan to vote for or against him. (As I have clearly stated before, I’m pro, but that doesn’t mean I slavishly hold to all positions, e.g., I’m dubious of the NAFTA pandering.)

Over ten years ago survey researchers Paul Sniderman and Edward Carmines’ Reaching Beyond Race noted this point. To put their book in a nutshell: Most white people (and many others) simply don’t recognize highly racialized or genderized claims as legit, but politicians who make universal claims can do quite well. Many self-identified liberals were quite conflicted about race issues. For instance, need-based arguments have markedly more play than ones that are perceived through the lenses of race. Obama figured out a way to “reach beyond.” I bet he paid attention to the late Harold Washington, Mayor of Chicago from 1983 to 1988, who, despite coming up through the system back in the old days seemed to understand that as mayor he had to represent everyone in Chicago, not just his tribe. Harold Washington was a ground-breaking figure and his model would be very alive in the mind of an observant young man coming to work as a community organizer in that time period. Other black mayors like Tom Bradley (mayor of Los Angeles in the 80s) figure similarly. Colin Powell is another example of a trailblazing post-Civil Rights-era statesman, and someone I’m sure was looked at carefully. He’s Jamaican by ancestry, grew up in New York City, and came up through the post-segregation Army, where there’s only one color, green. He too doesn’t fit the old black politician idiom and, therefore, could move past it. Ditto for Condi Rice. There are others, e.g., Harold Ford, Jr., Jesse Jackson, Jr., and Michael Steele. All of these men have been successful at being politicians who happen to be black, not the other way around. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana seems to be analogous, though he’s obviously not black, but of Asian Indian descent. The fact that the good ol’ boys even recognize that he’s not black, or don’t care… that’s progress. None of these people are perfect but that’s unfair, holding real flesh-and-blood people to a “George Washington and the cherry tree” standard no one could possibly meet.

So my guess is that the first female president—whoever she might be, Republican or Democrat—is in her ’30s to ’50s right now. She was a girl through the feminist struggles and, unlike HRC (to say nothing of figures such as Gloria Steinem), she’ll have internalized from an early age the fact that women don’t have to bow and scrape to men, can be successful on their own terms, etc., in a way that the older generation simply hasn’t, indeed probably can’t. Mom burned her bra back in the day so that daughter doesn’t have to. Indeed, unlike mom, daughter wouldn’t even feel a need to torch her brassieres. While some more militant types simply can’t see this, if they were thinking clearly they’d realize that transcending previous generations’ struggles, realizing that some parts were crucial, others should be dropped as mistakes, and others simply don’t matter anymore is exactly the point. The first female president will probably have a law background (most politicians do, for better or for worse) and may be serving in a state legislature or some other such elected office as we speak. In other words, she’s going to be someone like the current AG of Illinois, Lisa Madigan. (In no sense should this example be considered an endorsement. Other examples would be welcome in the comments.) The long and short is that she’ll be primarily a candidate who happens to be a woman, not a woman candidate, and that will be all the difference in the world. Social change isn’t instant. It takes a while for old habits of mind to die—largely through attrition of those holding those habits of mind as time works its woe.

It’s somewhat a pity that our presidential system puts excessive focus on one office: Women have joined the ranks of corporate CEOs, senior leadership in the academy, senior leadership in government, state governors, the leadership of the House and Senate, and so on. The path is just like that taken by other groups before them… over the course of generations. Welcome to the future. It’s not a color- or gender-blind utopia populated by super “Race Man” or, the obvious parallel phrase “Gender Person”, but that’s good, not bad. It’s a damned sight different—better in many ways—than things were forty years ago, and anyone who doesn’t see that needs to look around.

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My thanks to comments from Angry Immigrant, Angry Overeducated Catholic, and Angry Political Optimist, who markedly improved the language of this post. Remaining flaws are, of course, my own.

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ObFascism Tag: “Next to Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock, Leni Riefenstahl was the most technically talented Western film maker of her era.” —Mark Cousins, The Story of Film. Proof that Fascism had its feminist icons, too! 😉

It’s looking more and more like the campaign of HRC believed their own “inevitability” line and didn’t bother to plan past Super Tuesday. Tell a line long enough and you start to believe it yourself and stop thinking about what you might need to do if your “inevitability” turns out not to be so inevitable after all and the opposition doesn’t cooperate by playing their assigned role of loser. There’s a name for this problem: Victory Disease. Believe it or not, the Wikipedia page is pretty solid, so I’ll quote it for you (with some slight edits):

The signs are:

  • Arrogance, overconfidence, and complacency,
  • Use of previously victorious patterns of fighting, and not developing new tactics to anticipate enemy advances,
  • Stereotypes of enemies, underestimating enemies,
  • Ignorance of contrary intelligence or refusal to recognize it.

While the winning side grows complacent, arrogant, feeling invincible, the enemy adapts. Military disaster ensues. While “victory disease” does not automatically foretell failure, it is a strong indicator. The term applies outside the military world.

The deep irony is that HRC and her team got a heck of a case before any actual victories.

This should sound familiar: It’s essentially the Donald Plan (Rumsfeld that is) for post-invasion Iraq. But, as he said famously at the time “it would be weeks, not months.” Now he was right about formal large unit operations but that doesn’t change the misleading nature of the quote, which was widely believed to mean “just like Desert Storm,” i.e., no long occupation, no big bill, no casualties, etc. We all know how well that turned out. Lots of people whose jobs it is to know better were telling the then-SecDef and those above him that things were going to be trouble. The invasion could have been more difficult than it was but it was not seriously in doubt. The post-invasion, on the other hand…. Well let’s just say that such things are complicated and cannot be left for improvisation. You need a plan for what happens when things don’t go the way they should.

Well HRC has fallen into the same trap. Her campaign’s been noting things like the fact that the Texas delegate allocation rules are arcane and perverse. Well, that may be, but one would presume that it was her campaign’s job to find out about such things and plan for them, rather than whinge about it down the line. And she’s one to talk about arcane and perverse rules manipulation, what with changing her mind on the Florida and Michigan primaries. Again, she’s got a fig leaf of a point but was only pro these states when it looked like it was going to be good for her. Before that, who cares? She agreed to—but then reneged on—having her name removed from the ballot.

Whether this was simply due to carelessness or some other motive I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. The message of the 2000 election is that victories based on “strategery” and procedural tricks executed by one’s partisans who have multiple relationships undermine the legitimacy of the election. Sound familiar? They need to be avoided and the system upheld, i.e., be both fair and seem to be fair. Clearly the Florida and Michigan issue is a problem and, most likely, the best thing to do is to hold a caucus after the last scheduled primary. Given how chaotic this primary season has been, it’s not at all clear if it will be worthless or amazingly relevant, so by trying to push to the head of the line Florida and Michigan may well have gotten what they wanted by boosting their relevance. That would be a bit perverse, too, but poetic justice deserves its own poetic justice now and then.

Other things:

  • Speeches don’t put food on the table. Oh really? (I suppose it’s true since the presidential pension would be quite sufficient.)
  • States and voters “don’t count.” (See “Rove” and “base”.)
  • A senior staffer really known for loyalty above anything else who spent more time watching soap operas in her office, burning through money, and then famously said “screw this, Joey doesn’t want me!” when her son asked for his Dad before bedtime when things got bad. Or maybe we’re just lead to believe she said that? And if so, what does it say about HRC’s “people”? That they will stiff her when the going gets tough? That HRC can’t discipline her staff appropriately? All of the above, most likely, but an inability to appropriately discipline staff—particularly those who are longtime friends with demographically appealing bios—sounds pretty familiar too.
  • Rampant playing of the “two for one” card while still talking about being “her own woman,” i.e., trying to have it both ways. (At least this one is new.)

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see some kind of superhero in Obama, or McCain, for that matter. They’re both more stirring than HRC, but ultimately I’m enough of a realist to know that every president steps in the doggie doo eventually. Were he to become president, I’m sure BHO would have his share of scandals in his administration. One of the virtues of a long campaign is show just what kind of person you are when you step in it, and by that score, HRC isn’t showing up too well.

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ObFascism Tag: Look up some of Hitler’s famous quote about how well Operation Barabarossa would go: “Bolshevism will collapse as a house of cards.”

The Soviets loved their “five year plans,” much imitated by other Communist nations back in the day, though often with slight variations like the “seven year plan”. (ObFascism: Five years was too long for Germany: The Nazis had four year plans.) It seems that some Democratic primary voters are touting the “sixteen year plan.” This is a plan dreamed up by people who say things like:

Imagine the possibilities…

  • A generation of progressive leadership in the White House
  • A new era of global cooperation to combat poverty, hunger, and AIDS
  • A lasting commitment to protecting the environment and combating global climate change
  • A new progressive balance of power on the Supreme Court
  • Enough time to begin undoing the damage caused by 8 years of George Bush

In other words, people who are blowing as much sugary sunshine the back door way as a delusional modern progressive can stand without going into insulin shock, in a nice way that makes Barack Obama look Rush Limbaugh-mean.

In a nutshell—which is about all there is here, and it’s one of those disappointing empty peanuts—the Sixteen Year Plan is:

  1. In 2008, HRC runs for President, BHO runs for Vice-President.
  2. In 2012, HRC runs for Vice-President, BHO runs for President.
  3. In 2016, HRC runs for President, BHO runs for Vice-President.
  4. In 2020, HRC runs for Vice-President, BHO runs for President.

This plan, therefore, neatly side-steps that 22nd Amendment, which states that a person is eligible for two terms as President, c’est tout, you’re done. I admit that it sounds “hinky” to me (thanks Abby) and probably violates some constitutional thing or another, but it’s on the edge of plausible, legally. I recall seeing this touted on the Washington Post forum by a poster (not one of the columnists) and thought it was ridiculous then but, it has taken on a life of its own on the intarweb much like other dumbass ideas. It’s the sort of plan that a smart high school civics student might dream up, with no notion of just how amazingly damaging to the all-too-fragile system and the norms that hold the entire electoral edifice up it would be. Such an idea was bandied about on the Republican side in 1976 when they were facing a split convention… Ronald Reagan wisely rejected such a deal, and waited four years to win a legitimate victory. We don’t need plans like this, not after the 2000 election, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, invented notes about George W. Bush’s service record (thin as the real one was), Karl Rove’s shenanigans such as accusing John McCain of fathering a black child out of wedlock in the 2000 South Carolina primary, and whatever other sleazy shit from the pile of digested Alpo from the last several years you want to pick up. No, right now what we need is a nice, clean “by the book” election, not this is freakin’ stupid and profoundly anti-“little d” democratic idea.

It’s wrong but not close to wrong enough to be “so wrong, it’s so right.” No, it’s just plain wrong.

W-R-O-N-G.

W-R-O-N-G.

Never mind the fact that this would be a clear case of “too many chiefs, not enough Indians” (two too many, given the unelected presence of Bill Clinton throughout the whole process).

Never mind the fact that it’s ludicrous to believe it would be a “credible commitment” for whomever went first—Hillary, obviously, given that this is a cheesedick way for wavering HRC supporters to get Obama to back down. Sure, I believe that you’re going to step down after being president, sure. It’s with that property in Florida and the Brooklyn Bridge….

It makes a total mockery of the electoral system and is, in essence, a throwback to the smoke filled room in the worst sort way. And I’m somewhat a fan of the old days of the smoke filled room, but this is pathetic.

It’s the kind of scheme that elected dictators of the likes of Vladimir Putin dream up when political pressure gets high enough that they need to step out of the office. Wait… Vladimir Putin IS ENACTING it!

It’s the kind of thing that shows up in Latin America, cf. Puntofijismo. It might have been OK for a while but lead to the inevitable stagnation down the road that gave the world my buddy Hugo Chavez.

I’m sure Karl Rove got semi-hard when he was hanging in Dick’s secure, undisclosed location thinking about this sort of thing, but then laughed when he realized that one’s never going to the altar with him….

This is America. We can, and should, do better than this pathetic scheme.

So deep is the hate-juice among some conservatives for John McCain that they favor an opponent over the possible (likely?—in this crazy campaign, I’m not going to say that) nominee of their own party. Jimmie Dobson has been rumbling again, for instance, and Limbaugh has been working himself into a faux-frothing-at-the-mouth fury. This more or less reminds me of the hard-core Green Party Nader voters of 2000. It’s a long standing theme in American politics going back decades when a party splits into its component factions. But nothing tops this little gem:

Of course, it’s been making the rounds and chances are good you’ve seen it already, though if you haven’t, watching Colmes’ reaction to Ann is damn funny. No, if there’s anything new to this, it’s Ann’s little line on John McCain “he has led the fight against torture at Guantanamo” about a minute in. Has “torture” been turned into a one-word talking point? WTF?

Mind-twisting quasi-logic of the John Yoo variety I understand (he is a law professor after all), but Ann goes out of her way to correct Hannity when he uses the term “interrogations”. Props for being honest, I guess, but… whoa. Chuck Norris in the movies might do that, but I’m not sure where the Chuckster stands on it in real life, and Chuck does know the difference, though evidently some conservative commentators don’t understand that ’24’ is a TV show. (Anyone know?)

Discuss!

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ObFascism Tag: Can’t you just see Ann as one of Josef Goebbels’ girlfriends in a different life?

As someone who grew up in Wisconsin, I have a hard time taking Iowa seriously. Naturally we had lots of Iowa jokes, many of which do not bear repeating but the most memorable involved finding backronyms for Iowa: Idiots Out Wandering Around, I Owe the World an Apology, etc. Of course, this is the narcissism of small differences talking. You would be hard-pressed to tell the area of Iowa closest to my hometown apart. But at least we could comfort ourselves with the fact that we had a once-great football team, a never-great baseball team, cheese curds and beef sticks (on the interstate, not really elsewhere), and, most importantly, cheap, shitty industrial beer, made in Milwaukee! All Iowa had was corn, corn, and more corn and the Iowa Tests.

But once every four years, it forces itself into the national consciousness in a long standing tradition (since 1972, even).

It’s mouseness roars on Jan. 3, 2008.

Soon, someone’s going to take home the Iowa Caucuses Brass Ring (well, one for each party). Sure, the brass ring came out of a bull’s nose several decades back, when they still had bulls on farms rather than the much safer but less… satisfying and profoundly unnatural modern option. And its predictive ability of who wins the nomination is not all that great, but it does have a certain theatrical je ne sais quoi? Remember, Pat Robertson shot to the national consciousness due to his showing in the Iowa Caucuses in 1988 and Howard Dean famously melted down in the Iowa Caucuses of 2004. Some questions:

  • Is Huckabee going to win? How can he miss with Chuck Norris’ endorsement?
  • Obama set to upset HRC?
  • Who’s going to get the hook exit stage right by Iowa?
  • Any juicy meltdowns?

Time to make your predictions. (Note: Iowa does have the honor of bringing us a good source of information which you may find useful.)

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ObFascism Tag: Iowa is 96% white. If that’s not fascist, I don’t know what is…. 😉