Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Trump, the Republican Id

After braving a power outage by fleeing to a brick oven pizzeria with power, I whipped up a batch of chili for an upcoming camping trip and, in an act of ultimate sacrifice, avoided the third presidential debate by watching a baseball game called by Joe Buck. As such, and fortified by frequent reference to my Twitter feed, I am in an ideal position to discuss the most recent events.

I want to be clear about this: Nothing about Donald Trump's actions at any point in what passes for his campaign should surprise anyone. Appall, disgust, revolt, sure. In the context of his campaign to date, his apparent refusal to accept the outcome of the election is not outside the margin of calamitous error.

In sense, this is a testament to the durability of the American experiment. Beginning with the election of 1800, interrupted only once (albeit a big once, in 1860), every presidential transition has been accepted by both sides in the contest with no attendant civil unrest of which I am aware. This has led to a justified complacency in the peacefulness  of our political process, to such an extent that a major party candidate for President elicits (thus far) the equivalent of nervous chuckles upon his (oh what a giveaway) refusal to say whether he would accept the outcome of an election process in which voter fraud plays infinitesimally less than no part.

The combination of peaceful precedent and buffoonish mouthpiece may lead some to downplay this, but in any other context this would be a disqualifying action. In this election it's just the next news cycle.

Republicans, you own this. Republicans, fix this.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

He Is What He Always Has Been

I am in an undisclosed location and so have recourse only to crappy mobile blogging, but what links do you need at this point? What is new now that you did not either know or could infer earlier? Who could be undecided?

Believe me, I understand the support for Trump; I get what he has tapped into.

Those who only now say "Wow, hey, this Trump guy should drop out" really need to ask themselves where they were during the primaries.

This is not a question of finding useable material during opposition research. It's a question of how to drink from the firehose and pass that on in a controlled manner, and the Clinton campaign is conducting a master class as I write this.

You want Trump off the ballot now?! Nice try; he is all yours.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Indecision Me Molesta

So the next presidential debate, or clash of candidates, will be a "town hall" with questions presented by "undecided" voters. The latest completely unsurprising revelation about Trump's enlightened view of women, one would think, should reduce somewhat the ranks of the undecided to those lost in the supermarket.

I don't know about that. One would think that this election in particular would reduce the number of undecided voters to a number within the statistical margin of error. Lots of people hate and fear Clinton for various reasons (one can learn so much from one's fillings if you just LISTEN), and it would seem even less possible to remain neutral in the subject of Donald Trump even without his legitimate nomination by the Republican Party and his active/passive endorsement by the Republican leadership as the Republican Party's candidate for president. (Did I mention that the GOP nominated Donald Trump as their candidate for president? I'm still kind of wrapping my mind around that, but not really given the context of everything that's happened since at least 1972.)

Sorry, where was I? Oh yeah, undecideds. I'm sure they're out there, but all I can say is "Really?"

I'm just glad that Giuliani is leading the charge on the family values front. We all know that Rudy can't fail.

The problem, frankly, is that we've allowed things to get to this point. We have lost something as a country by (re-)legitimating fear of the Other and giving equal time and respect to a platform of lies and ugliness and those who aspire to work for the crackdown, regardless of the outcome of the election. Remember: If he goes there will be trouble, but if he stays it will be double.

Friday, September 23, 2016

#NeverTrump 2/15/16* - 9/23/16

Principled conservative Ted Cruz, the shining principled beacon of post-Trump America, has folded like something that folds either extremely badly or extremely well, take your pick. (None of these seemed appropriate.) In a bold yet principled twist, he did so on Friday afternoon, a time traditionally reserved for news releases that the releasers hope don't get noticed. (I will readily admit that Both Sides Definitely Do That, out of principle of course.)

Color me shocked. No, wait, what's that other color - oh yeah, got it: utterly unsurprised. (For a few weeks in the early '70s it was included between Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber in the Crayola 64 boxes.)

This post, I think, has improved somewhat from its first draft, which consisted of the following paragraph:


Anyway, all of this will be forgotten in time for 2020, so Cruz has nothing to lose by betraying, in however principled a manner, his staunchest supporters. Besides, it's not possible for a heel, even a principled one, to do a heel turn.

*Conservative foolishness has many parents but I am dating the rise of #NeverTrump to the publication of National Review's hilarious parody edition.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Definitely Dodged a Bullet There

It's surprisingly late and anonymous but JJV has weighed in on my previous post. I'd like to address a couple of the points raised: first, that I treated Karimov and Schlafly with "moral equivalence"; and second, that the ERA represents "cultural Marxism".

Regarding the first point, I suppose I should clarify that I consider both of the recently deceased very bad people, but for different reasons. One fought to deny basic rights to 30 million people, while the other fought to deny basic rights to 150 million people. To her credit, Schlafly probably never wanted to boil anyone, so I get that there are nuances here.

As for the second point, behold, in its awful entirety, the cultural Marxism of the Equal Rights Amendment:
Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.
My. God.

My greatest joke ever is below, but you have to read JJV's comment first. No peeking!


OK, here we go.

 Q: How did the ranks of pinkos get serried?

 A: Pinko shears!

Thank you and good night.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Hell Announces Its Latest Middle Management Hires

Islam Karimov died just before this past weekend. To date he is the worst person with whom I have ever shaken hands, but at least I got to keep all my fingers, and unboiled into the bargain. Would that he had accorded the same to the country and people he lorded over for a quarter century.

Phyllis Schlafly also has died. I was in the same room with her once when she spoke at Hamilton. I do not regret not shaking her hand, not that the opportunity arose. She sued a brewery run by her nephew to try and get her surname off of their products; her son, taking time off from curating the performance art tour de force that is Conservapedia to provide legal representation, asserted that "alcohol has a connotation that is the opposite of conservative values." That butthead's for you, JJV.

May they be granted the kind of rest they sought for others in this life.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Tuesday Superficiality: More of the Same, from Trump and Myself

The most charitable explanation for the latest verbal extrusion from the legitimately nominated (irrespective of how many Republicans actually voted for him) Republican candidate is that he was joking about Hillary Clinton being thwarted politically by way of getting shot. Tell you what: make that same public "joke" and have that explanation ready for the earpieced suit-and-shades folks who pay you a visit. No, please, you go first this time.

Strictly speaking this should not move the needle on the outrage meter, as it should have fused itself to the right side of the apparatus months ago. But stay tuned for the next round of principled denunciations and combination disavowal/endorsements from the erstwhile Howard Bakers of the GOP, and ask yourself, "So is that what it takes to get disqualified? Everything prior is acceptable discourse and behavior?"

That we have come this far down such a road is a poor reflection on, in ascending order, our level of civic engagement, our national political media, and, at the very pinnacle of this towering edifice of suck, the Republican Party as it is currently constituted.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Tuesday Superficiality: You Broke It, You Bought It, No Matter How Huge and Classy It Is

Somewhere back in the runup to the Iraq War (or perhaps after) Colin Powell famously referenced the "Pottery Barn Rule," i.e. "You broke it, you bought it." (That Pottery Barn had no such rule was par for the course for those fact-indifferent paragons of mendacity; however, the concept itself is valid enough.)

We can apply YBIYBI to the GOP and its base voters who propelled Donald Trump to the nomination. Some in the party seem to be acting as if Trump were an aberration, when in fact it is the logical (if batsh*t insane) culmination of forty-plus years of the GOP's cultivation of reactionary nativism under a veneer of pipe-smoking adult-sounding bromides. Trump's innovation, such as it is, was to reject the use of dog whistles and start belting out the quiet parts like Ethel Merman. And whaddaya know, the base not only drank it down, but are mad at the GOP establishment for having previously watered down the message.

Now we are treated to the spectacle of non-endorsement endorsements from the erstwhile Howard Bakers of the party, "he doesn't reflect our values," etc. Yeah, well, he does now, or he wouldn't be your nominee, now would he.

The big question, as always, is "What are you going to about it?"


Police Beet

Laura, the undisputed Queen of Root Vegetables, passes along a true-crime tale from the Great White North that might just be the most Canadian thing I have ever read apart from a Labatt's bottle.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Tuesday Superficiality*: RNC Edition

*Renamed for greater accuracy!

Many thanks to JJV for covering the late unpleasantness at Weehawken. My only observation is that Hamilton's character was not particularly sterling (not that anyone was particularly clean; "thank God for Franklin" was probably uttered sotto voce more than once), and Burr, for all his faults, was no Trump.

Oh hey, speaking of Trump, the GOP could not have picked a more symbolic place to consummate its primary season than the Mistake on the Lake. So far the convention has delivered on its promise of ragged anarchy, appeals to fear and bigotry, and massive dividends for investors in popcorn futures. As expected, Stephen Colbert is all over it, including a welcome reappearance of his Comedy Central persona, brandishing Sting no less! I suspect I am going to be sleepy at work this week.

Just for kicks I'll pose the same question that I did a while back:

Can anyone present a reasoned, persuasive defense of Trump's fitness to be president, either on his own merits or relative to Hillary Clinton's?

And here is one for the Both Sides Do It contingent: how many major party nominating conventions have featured repeated calls for the imprisonment of the presumptive opponent?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Hamilton v. Burr

The anniversary of Hamilton's momentous interview with Aaron Burr passed yesterday.  A nice account of Hamilton is here.

It is amazing that the Broadway musical about him is such a smash hit in an age that has so roundly rejected his principles.  The rage for government enforced "equality" attacks on capital and its accumulation and the absolute disdain for arguments that character matters in office holders make him an unlikely icon for today's Broadway.

But his reputation, of which he was ever jealous, has waxed and wained and will likely do so throughout our history.

Burr is a lot like Trump, were the latter more educated and less a physical coward.  Burrism seems to be everywhere though.  

Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday Hot Takes: Brexit!

I am drinking beer and watching baseball, so what better time to comment on British politics? Plus, I know next to nothing about British/EU politics, so it's a wonder I'm not being interviewed by some cable channel.

Based on the limited information at hand (i.e. what I have read/skimmed/glimpsed), Brexit seems to be a world-historical own goal fueled at least in part by the UK's equivalent of our Trump demographic. As such it has some utility as a warning to us to vote, and take it seriously, and realize that it's not like shopping. If you can't find something just right (which btw never happens in politics) pick the least worst item and head for the cashier.

To go back to the UK. I have heard the un-shocking report from JJV that he sang "Rule Britannia" several times etc. upon hearing the news. He should sing it while he can. From what I understand the vote has re-energized the Scottish independence vote and there have been rumblings from Belfast about whether they want to be Northern Ireland or just northern Ireland.

At least JJV can sleep well knowing Gibraltar voted to leave the EU. Ha ha, just kidding, the Rock's vote to Remain was 96%. Will this paroxysm of British nationalism result in a realm whose borders would be generally familiar to the current monarch's royal namesake? El Penon de Gibraltar has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Tuesday's Deep Thoughts

Last Friday I was in the august company of JJV, CRH and the reader/commenter last seen in my "Show Your Work" post. We had what the Soviets used to describe as a frank exchange of views. ("Their differences resolved, both parties retired to the Lubyanka basement...") Half of us were hoping for a Hillary indictment, while half of us thought the other half was f*cking nuts. (Hmm, maybe that was 100%.) There was the usual speculation about Trump's motives and status. I am sad to report that the beer and service were not up to the conversation's standards of quality.

Fortunately we were able to have a rousing discussion of dreadnoughts, battle cruisers and the post-WWI naval disarmament treaties, so the evening wasn't a total loss.

Trivia time! Where is the only surviving dreadnought battleship moored? (Hint for discussion participants: I was wrong.)

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Music Update!

Last Wednesday was the start of an eleven-day period at the end of which I will have seen in concert, all for the first time:

Dolly Parton (described by Bryan as "the funnest show I have ever seen!" despite the fact that he fell asleep during "9 to 5"). She just turned 70 but you wouldn't know it. More corn than an ethanol plant but a great show from an immensely talented artist and her longtime band.

Bare Naked Ladies

Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark

Howard Jones

(The above three are in a triple bill this Wednesday that I call the "One of These Things is Not Like the Others Tour".)


I'm kind of excited about that last one.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"There Seems To Be Something Wrong With Our Bloody Ships Today"

Today is the centennial of the Battle of Jutland, in which the British Grand Fleet fought the German High Seas Fleet in the largest clash of battleships in history. Robert Farley's The Battleship Book is a great resource for "biographies" of many of the principal ships involved and the military and technological context in which the battle took place.

The post's title is the response of British Vice Admiral David Beatty to the destruction of the British battlecruisers Indefatigable and Queen Mary within thirty minutes (with 11 survivors out of over 2,000 combined crew) and the (incorrect) report of a third having blown up. Unfortunately, two hours later a third battlecruiser - Invincible, in fact the first battlecruiser launched - would be lost with six survivors out of a thousand crew.

The moral here: if you are going to name a ship Invincible, give it enough armor for her to live up to her name.