“The Future Will Not Be Staffed,” Okay But You Better Have the Right Leaders

An article in The Nation by Becky Bond and Zack Exley, two uber-organizers from the Sanders campaign and MoveOn.org, lays out how organization is supposed to work and will prevail over paid-staff models (like the failed Clinton campaign).

One of the greatest lessons from the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign was that a relatively tiny number of staff using fairly basic technology can unleash hundreds of thousands of volunteers to do serious work to advance a nationwide movement. There is no reason this energy shouldn’t continue to grow. Passionate, moral, and urgent opposition to Trumpism could represent the greatest opportunity for mass participation in politics since the antiwar movement of a half-century ago.

Indeed.  But you better have the right people leading for such a phenomenon to exist. Sanders inspired so many people, not just the young.  Clinton did not.  If you have the right inspirational leaders, and a cause, then no problem.

And I imagine and hope that we will all come together in our common goal of vanquishing Trumpism:  Democrats, progressives, liberals, leftists, greens, vegans, furries – whatever you are or identify as, if you’re a sentient being that sees the future as more human and less corporate, we have to work together.

But that’s easier said than done because we can all seek to work together but still disagree on methods, tactics and goals… and leaders.

To that end the formidable Nancy Pelosi was re-elected as minority leader in the House.  I love Nancy Pelosi, she has delivered in the past, but the Democratic team has been losing since 2010 and it’s time to fire the coach.  Hell, it’s time to fire all the coaches in the party that brought us to 2016.  To put it in Godfather terms, we need a wartime consiglieri and maybe a grandma in her 70s from San Francisco isn’t the best choice.  You can make the case that Pelosi is tainted in many of the same ways that Hilary Clinton was –  she’s been a punching bag for the right for so long that many in the public have an image of her that is unfair, but also may cripple her effectiveness in reaching out to a broader coalition and making change.

I fear this decision to keep the coach is a long term loser.

It’s So Easy. It’s Like It Was Staged For Comedy

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This picture epitomizes what Trump has done to the Republican Party.  All that’s missing is a big pile of shit on Romney’s plate for him to eat to go along with the “how did I get here? (big sigh)” look on his face.

And of course Trump looks like the devil.  He is the devil.

As someone who believes in a moral universe, as much as I’ve had to rethink things the last 3 weeks, I have to believe all of the horrors we’re witnessing, and the party’s acquiescence to it all, will be a part of their ultimate downfall.

Why do so many people have to suffer before the horrible people get their comeuppance? God, if you exist, leave an answer in the comments, thank you!

An Entire Government of Brownies

George W. Bush, to his everlasting shame, had named Michael Brown a former counsel for the Arabian Show Horse league, or whatever, to be the head of FEMA.  Bush called him “Brownie” as in “heckuva job Brownie” in one of the many quotes of the Bush years that makes the skin crawl.  So “Brownie” will be forever known as the guy who headed the government agency tasked to help the people of Louisiana deal with and recover from Hurricane Katrina, but instead watched a city drown.

“Brownie” was unqualified for the job. His being named for the job evidenced a lack of seriousness in governing and a complete lack of understanding of how important that job is.  Lives depend on the person in that job.

Donald Trump is naming an entire government of Brownies.  Arrogant people unqualified, incompetent and ignorant of the responsibilities of their positions.  With the slightest bit of humility they’d have demurred the offer, but like Trump they imagine they’re brilliant people, and how hard can it be to run the Treasury Department?

From the WH down to the lowest levels of the lowest cabinet department we can expect Brownies.

There is one important proviso to this and that is that Trump’s Brownies aren’t just incompetent, they’re also malicious and have an agenda to push that nobody voted for.

Forget About Governing, Trump Can’t Even Run His Businesses

But we know this already.  So the new D.C. hotel he loves so much he should get a room in the hotel with the hotel, that’s leased to him by the government. So while we were focusing on the inherent conflict of interest that being his own landlord becomes, we and he missed the real detail:  The lease had already been crafted to preclude a conflict because it forbids any elected official from profiting from the lease.

The Post Office Lease differs from many of Mr. Trump’s other business arrangements. That’s because, in writing the contract, the federal and D.C. governments determined, in advance, that elected officials could play no role in this lease arrangement. The contract language is clear: “No … elected official of the Government of the United States shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom…”

So what will be done about that?  Democrats should pound him on the breach of the lease until he has to sell it.

Let that be the first blow in an unending four year (if he lasts that long) avalanche of blows so that Trump and his family regret running for president as the worst thing that ever happened to them.  It should ruin them.  It should leave them ruing the days the celebrated this, broken and destroyed.  They are horrible people.  The loathing they will endure should be epic and insuperable.

The Last Person Born in the 19th Century Turns 117

So interesting.  We are on the cusp. The last person born in the 19th century turns 117 in Italy and she had a shitty life.  She doesn’t seem all that happy now either so consider that.

This fascinates me, the bridging of periods of time that seem so remote in one lifetime.

Born on 29 November 1899, four years before the Wright brothers first took to the air, she is the world’s oldest living person. Her life has spanned three centuries, two world wars and over 90 Italian governments.

Like when we found out a few years ago that President John Tyler’s grandsons are still alive.  Now that’s freaky. Tyler was born in 1790.  He had a son in 1853.  That son had boys in 1924 and 1928.  His grandsons are younger than my dad.

When I think about the world my father was born into in 1919 it is amazing.  Woodrow Wilson was president and we started prohibition the next year.  His world was still powered by coal, streetlamps by gas, transportation was still largely by steam or horse, cars were just taking off.  The first commercial radio broadcast was when he was 3. Movies were silent until he was 10.  There was no air conditioning.  Refrigeration was getting a block of ice for your ice box.

As The Last Generation That Saw Government Save the World Goes, So Goes Government

My father’s generation lived through the Great Depression and served in World War II. That generation became the most Democratic in history because of their connection with FDR and the New Deal.  They were also unabashed fans of government because of the New Deal and what they achieved in 4 years during WWII.  Every assault on Medicare and Social Security was met by the outrage of that generation in particular.  And now they’re almost gone.  And with their passing we lose not the greatest generation, that hyperbole is silly, but we do lose the generation with the greatest connection to what good government can achieve with concerted effort.

Side note – when I hear about the “greatest generation” I am reminded of the Larry Miller joke “My parents came to this country speaking no English, they worked three jobs, went to school and learned English, and took care of a family.  When I go to the dry cleaners and the post office in the same day I’m exhausted.”

I’ve been thinking about this lately and then I re-read a Josh Marshall piece from last July that explores along the same lines.  It’s not just about trust in government, and the reasons for protections and the big social safety net programs of the New Deal and The Great Society (we already saw the disastrous financial reforms in the 90s that rolled back the New Deal protections the really smart people thought we didn’t need anymore).  It’s also the horrors of autocracy, the witnesses to the holocaust, the extremes that countries can be so blithely led to by charismatic maniacs.

As John says, the horror of autocracy is diminishing as the living memory of World War II drifts into oblivion. But it’s not just autocracy. It’s the world of cycles of killing, ‘high fear’ rather than ‘high trust’ patterns of international relations and domestic accord that we take for granted as the natural order of things but most definitely are not.

Of course, government started it’s shrink backwards in the 80s as Reagan, who was an FDR fan and part of that generation, cynically used anti-governmental propaganda to create a political movement from the backlash to the excesses and also the human progress of the 60s and 70s.  Civil Rights, Feminism, the beginnings of globalism, Vietnam War protesters with long hair, drugs, music – everything was changing and those that did not want it to change struck back angrily.  Reagan represented the old order.  The old law and order, in fact, an affable, lovable Nixon without the scowl.  He was angry about change too and gave voice to that anger saying that he would make America great again.

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Part of their attack was on government excess – but that meant and means different things to different people.  That rhetoric was just an easy way to focus anger and create a mandate to remake government in the conservative image.  It didn’t get smaller, it got in fact much larger with a massive military build up that was completely unnecessary, but Reagan had learned the lesson that nobody ever lost by promising more defense.  He tripled the deficit as he derided deficits and his childish conservative mythologizers forgive it like those with daddy fixations always look up to those fathers and forget their faults.

Reagan was not a libertarian.  As corporatist and pro-business as he was he would never have thought to privatize Social Security.  He was part of the generation that lived and coped before FDR lifted 50% of the elderly out of poverty through Social Security.  Reagan derided Medicare as socialism in 1961, four years before it was enacted; however, as president 20 years later he never went along with privatization of Medicare language.  If nothing else he was a smart enough demagogue to know those were losing arguments for his own generation.  But now that generation is almost gone and the Reagan’s GOP is almost unrecognizable.   This isn’t Reagan’s GOP, but The Koch Brothers’.

Will enough people from this generation be alarmed enough to stop it?