This 2020 Election is Terra Incognita, There’s No Map, Nobody Knows

This election is a year old even though primary voting just started. There were 25 candidates at one point and people were miserable, screaming about 25 CANDIDATES UGH!!!.  And now we’re down to a handful of legit candidates and people are still miserable I DON’T CARE WHO I JUST WANT TO WIN UGH!!! All of life is now like a Cathy cartoon.

From the beginning the absurd emphasis on electability and the panic about finding the one chosen candidate who can beat Trump was nuts.  Nuts but inevitable because, there is no end to the stupid.  And as stupid herd animals we cannot stop ourselves from illogically going over the cliff following the polls and the pundits and the neighbor who had a take that was so weird that you normally would have just ignored it, but this year – MAYBE IT MEANS SOMETHING.  UGH!!!

Do not impose your 1972, 1988, 2000 or 2016 takes on this election, they are not applicable.  There is no conceivable way 40 states vote for Trump if he’s running against a “socialist” as some have said.  The country is remarkably polarized and the part that is against Trump will vote for any Democratic nominee.  So panicking about electability may just be silly.  Note I say “may”.  I’m stupid too.

Think about this:

The two top vote getters so far are a Jewish man and a Gay man.  And the white knight spreading around money like it was water, because to him it is, is also a Jew.  For anybody over 40 this seems nuts, but they just want to win.  Under 40 they do not see it that way and they too just want to win.

Every one of the legit candidates left have issues with non-white people, especially the white knight.  But that white knight has the mayor of D.C. (black) as his campaign co-chair and on the day he was confronted with audio of racist comments from his not so distant past he added the endorsements from three members of the Black Congressional  Caucus (definitely black)!  Black people for the most part will not care that he led stop and frisk and was a terrible mayor of NY for non-white people. They just want to win.

Could a socialist win?  Yeah he could, because lots of Americans have been hurting for a long time and been ignored and thought that government was largely ineffective.  After three years of seeing that government can be wielded in harmful ways by a Trump, they may just imagine that it could also be used for good.  Lots of pundits likely do not know anybody who has not gone to the doctor because they couldn’t afford it.  But most Americans are someone like that or know someone like that. So the word socialism is not going to bother them if it means an effort to make healthcare more democratic and affordable.

Could a Gay man win?  Yeah, why not?  The religious right won’t vote for him, but they’re already on the Trump train.  The vast majority of the country has seen attitudes about gayness change entirely since 2008 when both candidates were against marriage equality.  Once again, it’s this belief that there’s a persuadable group of people who could vote for Trump or the Democrat, but only if its a certain Democrat whose beliefs are more Republican lite.  Guess what the Gay guy is as Republican lite as it gets in this election.  He is a progressive, but next to the socialist and the anti-corruption grandma in this election, he’s a sound, safe, cuddly college Republican from Indiana. The hard core socialists hate him, but they’ll largely vote for him too because they too want to win.

The biggest question is whether a woman can win.  Well, yes, if she’s a non-threatening Midwest woman who, again, is rather progressive, but is perfectly willing to spout Republican talking points in order to get elected.  She went to Yale, but nobody knows that.  She was a cop, and had issues with locking up innocent people of color, as we already explained black people do not care.  Yeah the socialist followers won’t like her but they’ll largely vote for her because they too just want to win. Unless she hits the same wall Warren did, eventually.

There’s that really smart, really energetic, former college professor, anti-corruption grandma woman who may or may not be a legit candidate at this point, but one can imagine scenarios where she could leap up again.  Why not?  Remember – Terra Incognita! She took a hit in the two white states, but white people are a terrible judge of character.  53% of white women voted for Trump and white men are a disaster.  Going into more diverse states means that her more substantive folksiness may get a fresh hearing.  What she has going against her is that smart former college professor thing.  Ask President Adlai Stevenson if the American people will elect a college professor?  The most bullshit part of The West Wing was that the fictional POTUS was a super smart polymath of a former college professor.  That’s not just fiction it’s fucking science SCI FI! Apparently grandma is threatening.  Men can’t imagine sleeping with her (she is 70) or working for her and women with less self-esteem probably just hate her because women hate other women, they just do.  So no, she can’t win.  The best candidate can’t win.  Okay, that’s probably true.

That leaves the white Jewish knight.  He has $50,000,000,000.  So really, he can win.  And in fact, his electability is so self-evident because of all that money that the other facts of his life, every other data point that would make him unelectable if he didn’t have that $50 Billion is completely ignorable.  Lots of people who may have hated the guy 6 months ago love him now, imagining all that money swamping Trump, beating him at his own game. The real billionaire trolling Trump 24/7 while using his wealth to blanket the country with anti-Trump propaganda.

We are definitely on foreign shores without a map or a guidepost or a trusty guide who won’t eat us when the sun goes down.  It’s the C-Span version of Naked and Afraid.  So find some potable water, figure out a crude shelter, with and hunker down for the next 9 months.  Dammit I lost the fire starter.  Fuck me!

I’m Invoking Pitmaster Privilege and Pushing some Elizabeth Warren On Ya

All I have to say about last night’s SOTU spectacle is that if you say any damn thing about ripping up speech pages when fucking Rush Limbaugh got a Medal of Freedom, then we have to step outside.

I’m a Warren supporter for the simple reason that I think she’d be a great president.  She’s right for the office, right for the moment. Period. Her speech on Monday night reminded me again why I love her. While media melted down and conspiratorial panic took over, as Buttigieg was singing a false note by claiming victory, Warren calmly thanked her staff, her dog and reiterated why we’re all here and where we’re going next, whatever happens. She looked, how you say, presidential?

  1. Post- Iowa Caucus Speech

2. She released a new ad that’s smart and uses the words of Barack Obama to remind people who she is and what she did.

3. But also, too, in addition, there’s a piece in the Nation by Joan Walsh that also states what I see and why I am still kinda sorta optimistic that she can persist. Linked here but I’m reprinting in full in case you don’t have a Nation subscription, it’s a good investment.

Elizabeth Warren Has a Movement. You Just Don’t See It Yet.

Nobody knows who won the Iowa caucuses—but Warren’s support was powered by the feminist spirit of 2018.

 

 

 

Stick it to an Autocrat – Watch Oscar Nominated “Edge of Democracy” on Netflix

The documentary by Brazilians about their country’s slide to autocracy is really amazing. Filmmaker Petra Costa had remarkable access to present and past leaders of the country as she documented Bolsonaro’s attacks on anything that represented democracy, including arresting previous presidents on corruption charges (Trump’s wet dream). Bolsonaro is the Brazilian Trump and so, of course, he and his surrogates are attacking the filmmaker (for whom Bolsonaro did interviews for the film) and the film (which he hasn’t seen).

From the Guardian: Bolsonaro government attacks Oscar nominee Petra Costa as ‘anti-Brazil activist

And there’s always a Trumpian connection too:

“I don’t usually waste time rebutting scumbags like Mrs Petra Costa but the level of her absurdities is criminal,” tweeted Eduardo Bolsonaro, the South American representative of Steve Bannon’s far-right group The Movement, alongside the hashtag #PetraCostaLiar.

It’s really worthwhile to see what a country with a fragile democratic tradition can descend to rather rapidly. And as we’re finding out, all democratic traditions are fragile democratic traditions.

The Return of the Hummer – It’s About That Girth Baby

Yes, everything is about sex. The Hummer always was a massively thick phallus of a car. The electric version of it is admitting that wielding a powerful electric device can also be satisfying.  They sell way more Hitachi Wands than they ever sold Hummers.

Vice explores the history of the worst Earth destroying SUV of them all.

Love this para about the psychological break down of the Hummer purchaser:

Rapaille, a French emigree, believed the SUV appealed—at the time to mostly upper-middle class suburbanites—to a fundamental subconscious animalistic state, our “reptilian desire for survival,” as relayed by Bradsher. (“We don’t believe what people say,” the website for Rapaille’s consulting firm declares. Instead, they use “a unique blend of biology, cultural anthropology and psychology to discover the hidden cultural forces that pre-organize the way people behave towards a product, service or concept”). Americans were afraid, Rapaille found through his exhaustive market research, and they were mostly afraid of crime even though crime was actually falling and at near-record lows. As Bradsher wrote, “People buy SUVs, he tells auto executives, because they are trying to look as menacing as possible to allay their fears of crime and other violence.” They, quite literally, bought SUVs to run over “gang members” with, Rapaille found.

Certainly the perfect car for the Trump era.  With it you can run over machete wielding MS13 members, run over the hordes of undocumented, run over Maxine Waters, crushing their bones beneath your wheels. And now with an electric engine you can hear the lamentations of their women.

One Year Ago I Wrote This

“Saddest of all is the GOP Senate may very well continue to protect him and stonewall his removal, believing that they are electorally invulnerable in 2020 and 2022.  That’s the only firewall to get him, or Pence, limping into 2020 still in the WH.  But that firewall would doom their control of the Senate.  Like every tragic character felled by overconfidence, they never see that their invulnerability is overrated until its too late. We’ve always been able to count on Republican arrogance leading them to shooting their damn feet off, eventually.  This group of political morons is several generations more deluded by the Fox News base than the group of statesmen (read: realists) that forced Nixon out.”

I would only add one thing:  I think they know that they’re vulnerable in 2020. I think they’ve calculated that it’s more important to be a member in good standing in the Trumpist party even if an ex-Senator. Being a Trumpist ex-Senator is way safer than being an apostate Senator.

 

Iowa – Caucus Interruptus

After all that time concentrating on Iowa, so much time, so much money, so many corn dogs and butter cows – a much anticipated result DID… NOT… HAPPEN. And people went nuts.

Of course the caucus is undemocratic, an oddity where a teeny tiny, disappointingly small slice of Iowans actually show up for the main event after a year of candidates crisscrossing the state with rallies, town halls, diner visits, living room talks, etc. The ones that show up politely horse trade with each other so that their neighbor isn’t disappointed by their candidate’s lack of viability.  Despite pundits corralling the candidates into the progressive or centrist pens, Iowans looked at them and judged them by who they liked, or who had Midwest values or not, whatever that is.  So “my first choice is Amy, but she’s not viable so I’m going over to Bernie” can happen and did happen and pundit heads short circuited with all that Midwest political acumen.

Ultimately it was a year of foreplay with no release, AND THAT WILL DRIVE PEOPLE NUTS.

There will be results. They just may not be as dramatic as people hoped for because it will happen a day later with no cameras on it – an Iowan form of masturbation to finally clear up that nasty backup after a bad case of blue balls.  If the results are what is believed, Biden and (certainly) Klobuchar are not viable (to use Iowa speak). But likely they’ll go to NH and have that proven again there.

So what happens in 2024.  Likely nothing, although maybe, mercifully, they’ll add a primary to their beloved caucus (that can be totally ignored).  Iowa will remain first because of all the money that gets spent in Iowa over the course of a year. Just think upon all the money spent on advertising, housing, food, etc, by the candidates and the media not over a few weeks, but over an entire year in the state of Iowa.  Iowa’s GNP probably doubles 1 year out of every 4, so they will fight  any effort to move them out of that spot.  But a primary with an actual result at the end of the night, where a much larger number of 90% white people came and voted and went home and actually recorded their choice after all those corn dogs, would be nice.

45 of 50 States Tax the Poor at Higher Rates Than the Rich or How Conservatives Have Perverted Economics

Why do we need a transformative presidency, and overall politics, rather than a merely restorative one in 2020? Duh!  The continuing, long lasting damage that Reaganomics wrought on the poor and middle class must be recognized and addressed.  Too many members of the political class believe that the current state of things where the rich get richer and everybody else struggles is normal. They’ve come to see that inequality is an issue, but can’t really comprehend how bad it’s got because (1) the current economic status quo is all they’ve known, and (2) they don’t actually know anybody working 3 jobs and juggling bills to get by.

NY Times notes that State and Local Taxes are Worsening Inequality.  Illinois, now under complete Democratic control is moving to make their taxes more progressive, reversing a 40 year trend.

That gap between the poor and the wealthy in Illinois is one of the largest in any state, but the poor pay taxes at higher rates in 45 of the 50 states, according to a 2018 study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

Yeah, even in blue states. And again, look back to those 1980s Reagan tax cuts that so drastically cut federal coffers, resulting in massive cuts to state aid and subsequent higher state and local taxes and service fees to make up for the federal cut backs. Because of the tried and true American way of government by the privileged, for the wealthy, of the powerful, those higher local taxes and fees were often hella regressive. Blue states should honor their citizens and reverse these bad economics (while red states continue to screw their people).

In 1961, Americans with the highest incomes paid an average of 51.5 percent of that income in federal, state and local taxes. Half a century later, in 2011, Americans with the highest incomes paid just 33.2 percent of their income in taxes, according to a study by Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman published last year. Over that same period, the bottom 90 percent of Americans, ranked by income, saw their tax burden increase from 22.3 percent of income to 26 percent of income.

Also, too, as well, in addition, check out Jared Bernstein’s piece in Vox:  What economists have gotten wrong for decades: four economic ideas disproven by reality.

Starting with the supposed connection between inflation and “the natural rate of unemployment” (the people on Twitter who want to believe that AOC is dumb should not see her questioning the Fed Chair unless they want to be disabused) Bernstein notes a few economic shibboleths that need to be ignored for our economic sanity.

  • that globalization is a win-win proposition for all, an idea that has deservedly taken a battering in recent years;
  • that federal budget deficits “crowd out” private investments; and
  • that the minimum wage will only have negative effects on jobs and workers.

Over 40 years we’ve had low unemployment and high unemployment but the inflation rate has been steadily low and oh so friendly for the wealthy (who predominantly care about inflation, not unemployment, for obvious reasons.) Nevertheless, anytime anyone agitates for higher labor costs the specter of not just inflation but RUNAWAY inflation (OMG!) is invoked.

Globalization is the word we can use to explain how Wall Street and Main Street got so disconnected.

Bottom line for Bernstein on all of these economic fails:

In every case, the costs fall on the vulnerable: people who depend on full employment to get ahead; blue-collar production workers and communities built around factories; families who suffer from austerity-induced weak recoveries and under-funded safety nets, and who depend on a living wage to make ends meet. These groups are the casualties of faulty economics.

In contrast, the benefits in every case accrue to the wealthy: highly educated workers largely insulated from slack labor markets, executives of outsourcing corporations, the beneficiaries of revenue-losing tax cuts that allegedly require austere budgets, and employers of low-wage workers.

The wealthy get the benefit of the errors. Go figure. Funny how that happens 100% of the time.