Archive for the ‘general’ Category
The concluding paragraphs of a Current Affairs essay on the grip a still-popular TV show (that I never managed to watch) has on Clintonite Dems:
Through its idealized rendering of American politics and its institutions, The West Wing offers a comforting avenue of escape from the grim and often dystopian reality of the present. If the show, despite its age, has continued to find favor and relevance among liberals, Democrats, and assorted Beltway acolytes alike, it is because it reflects and affirms their worldview with greater fidelity and catharsis than any of its contemporaries.
But if anything gives that worldview pause, it should be the events of the past eight years. Liberals got a real life Josiah Bartlet in the figure of Barack Obama, a charismatic and stylish politician elected on a populist wave. But Obama’s soaring speeches, quintessentially presidential affect, and deference to procedure did little to fundamentally improve the country or prevent his Republican rivals from storming the Congressional barricades at their first opportunity. Confronted by a mercurial TV personality bent on transgressing every norm and truism of Beltway thinking, Democrats responded by exhaustively informing voters of his indecency and hypocrisy, attempting to destroy him countless times with his own logic, but ultimately leaving him completely intact. They smugly taxonomized as “smart” and “dumb” the very electorate they needed to win over, and retreated into an ideological fever dream in which political success doesn’t come from organizing and building power, but from having the most polished arguments and the most detailed policy statements. If you can just crush Trump in the debates, as Bartlet did to Richie, then you’ve won. (That’s not an exaggeration of the worldview. Ezra Klein published an article entitled “Hillary Clinton’s 3 debate performances left the Trump campaign in ruins,” which entirely eliminated the distinction between what happens in debates and what happens in campaigns. The belief that politics is about argument rather than power is likely a symptom of a Democratic politics increasingly incubated in the Ivy League rather than the labor movement.)
Now, facing defeat and political crisis, the overwhelming liberal instinct has not been self-reflection but a further retreat into fantasy and orthodoxy. Like viewers at the climax of The West Wing’s original run, they sit waiting for the decisive gestures and gratifying crescendos of a series finale, only to find their favorite plotlines and characters meandering without resolution. Shockingly, life is not a television program, and Aaron Sorkin doesn’t get to write the ending.
The West Wing is many things: a uniquely popular and lavish effort in prestige TV; an often crisply-written drama; a fictionalized paean to Beltway liberalism’s foundational precepts; a wonkish celebration of institutions and processes; an exquisitely-tailored piece of political fanfiction.
But, in 2017, it is foremost a series of glittering illusions to be abandoned.
Due to the anti-Russian panic Trump surrendered to the neocons.* Suddenly the borg is lauding him for a senseless escalation. The neocons want chaos but chaos is not a plan. There seems to be no plan that will help any cause.
*Thanks, Hillary fans and/or HuffPo readers
The Moon of Alabama post is good except the part about Trump being smart.
Noam Chomsky on kremlingate (via Michael Krieger):
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Noam Chomsky, I’d like to ask you about something that’s been in the news a lot lately. Obviously, all the cable channels, that’s all they talk about these days, is the whole situation of Russia’s supposed intervention in American elections. For a country that’s intervened in so many governments and so many elections around the world, that’s kind of a strange topic. But I know you’ve referred to this as a joke. Could you give us your view on what’s happening and why there’s so much emphasis on this particular issue?
NOAM CHOMSKY: It’s a pretty remarkable fact that—first of all, it is a joke. Half the world is cracking up in laughter. The United States doesn’t just interfere in elections. It overthrows governments it doesn’t like, institutes military dictatorships. Simply in the case of Russia alone—it’s the least of it—the U.S. government, under Clinton, intervened quite blatantly and openly, then tried to conceal it, to get their man Yeltsin in, in all sorts of ways. So, this, as I say, it’s considered—it’s turning the United States, again, into a laughingstock in the world.
So why are the Democrats focusing on this? In fact, why are they focusing so much attention on the one element of Trump’s programs which is fairly reasonable, the one ray of light in this gloom: trying to reduce tensions with Russia? That’s—the tensions on the Russian border are extremely serious. They could escalate to a major terminal war. Efforts to try to reduce them should be welcomed... (emphasis added)
So-called Kremlingate is the Clintonites' Benghazi -- a non-issue that they keep pounding on, thinking they are all super-clever. Long-time Putin critic Masha Gessen has a good point, which is that the Repubs want to keep Trump in, no matter how much disinformation the NYT and CNN spew out, so they can "shrink government" or whatever it is they think they are doing. (hat tip jim)
Andrew Cockburn, Harper's:
Ask anyone who was present at Hillary Clinton’s presumptive victory celebration on November 8 and they will tell you of the stunned silence, broken only by sobs, that settled across the vast glass enclosure of the Javits Center in Manhattan. Upstairs, in the suite where the candidate was closeted with her family and associates, the trauma was even more intense. As one attendee later reported to me, it featured the “full range of human emotions: screams, shock, fainting. Bill moved immediately to blame.” The former president, I was told, singled out campaign manager Robby Mook: “ ‘We should have fired that asshole months ago!’ It was awful.”
All those million dollar speeches couldn't buy Bill a second shot at the presidency. Boo hoo.
Meanwhile, the blame express rolls on. These two headlines tell you who is a Clintonite and who isn't:
Continuing to receive emails from Clintonite friends about the Russian bugbear; today it was a dense, minutiae-filled CNN editorial about some contradictory statements from Team Trump regarding Michael Flynn's contacts with Russians during the transition. It was written in a sort of "aha!", Fox News style.
The sender of the email added, "So maybe *now* you will admit you were wrong." Muah ha ha.
With all the things we could criticize about Trump, the Manchurian candidate allegation is the weakest of beer, but it appears to be the media's (or at least, CNN's) attempt at a Benghazi or Whitewater, aimed at bringing him down.
Calmer relations between the US and Russia would be a plus -- it's ironic it's the nurturing candidate and her disappointed supporters in the government and media, not the hotheaded Trumpians, who are the ones trying to get us into a nuclear war here. They don't care who fries, as long as they can "gotcha" Trump.
Update: Flynn resigned shortly after the above was posted. He was a creep, good riddance, but the reason -- the media thinks the US should be "tough on Russia" -- is pitiful when you consider all his other negatives. Moon of Alabama, the website of ex-blogger Billmon's former commenters, had a good analysis of this putsch by the so-called deep state and its willing journalist helpers (and let's add, unhappy Clinton voters who spam their friends).
The Democratic party, meanwhile, is mostly rolling over for Trump's picks -- his "Homeland" security choice was approved by the Senate in an 88 to 11 vote.
Still arguing with Clinton corporate Democrats. Steve Bannon, internet troll turned White House honcho, is the new lightning rod for the HuffPo set. On a private page, am talking with someone who feels we must put our trust in the "intelligence community" to protect us from... the alt-right.
Am sick of this discussion so here's the reply I would have made if I wanted to continue it:
Alt-right is a Clinton term -- you seem to be using it to mean Ultimate Badness but to me it just means "Breitbart."
Bannon seems to have become the new Dr Evil superbrain to the suddenly-invigorated left. But he can't be that smart if he thought Obama was an ACORN person, rather than a Finance-Insurance-Real Estate person.
Clearly the Trump/Bannon "strategy" is to throw out a lot of stuff in the first week that makes libruls' heads explode.
Pick an issue -- am waiting to see if they try to slip anything by on net neutrality.
Worrying about which warmongers are going to be on the NSC can be your issue.
Tomorrow's link rot, but here goes:
Algorithmically recommended to me by the world-straddling soul destroyers at GoogleYouTube, who are sucking every fiber of attention away from the rest of the internet [/exculpatory rant], this amusing demo shows "Barry Beats" chopping up some '70s and '80s vinyl to make new tunes: [YouTube]
Cornwall's answer to DJ Premier, Barry Beats, takes on the legendary Rhythm roulette challenge and quite literally smashes it to microbes. Watch as Barry rummages sightless through the racks of Camborne Record (and smoking paraphernalia) shop 'Lost in music'.
Then follow him back to his tiny studio where his blind finds are revealed.
Marvel as Barry chops and snips his way through a whole heap of hair, keeping it super funky at all times, finally to reveal a stone cold Barry Banga, not to mention some dubious dance moves!!!!
Sorry about the ads.
Naked Capitalism's Lambert Strether goes into depth on the Trump "Russian dossier" issue, which I'm not that interested in. Lambert's conclusions are worth quoting at length, though:
It would be nice, wouldn’t it, if our famously free press was actually covering the Trump transition, instead of acting like their newsrooms are mountain redoubts for an irrendentist Clinton campaign. It would be nice, for example, to know:
1) The content and impact of Trump’s Executive Orders.
2) Ditto, regulations.
3) Personnel decisions below the Cabinet level. Who are the Flexians?
4) Obama policies that will remain in place, because both party establishments support them. Charters, for example.
5) Republican inroads in Silicon Valley.
6) The future of the IRS, since Republicans have an axe to grind with it.
7) Mismatch between State expectations for infrastructure and Trump’s implementation
And that’s before we get to ObamaCare, financial regulation, gutting or owning the CIA (which Trump needs to do, and fast), trade policy, NATO, China, and a myriad of other stories, all rich with human interest, powerful narratives, and plenty of potential for scandal. Any one of them worthy of A1 coverage, just like the Inaugural crowd size dogpile that’s been going on for days.
Instead, the press seems to be reproducing the last gasps of the Clinton campaign, which were all about the evils of Trump, the man. That tactic failed the Clinton campaign, again because volatility voters weren’t concerned with the niceties. And the same tactic is failing the press now. Failing unless, of course, you’re the sort of sleaze merchant who downsizes the newsroom because, hey, it’s all about the clicks.
Walking across lower Manhattan, I passed a man with a loud, mellifluous speaking voice and a microphone, addressing people on the street: "I told you not to vote for Donald Duck, and you didn't listen to me, and now he's taking away your health care."
So far it's just the hated individual mandate but "Donald Duck" -- that's a good one.