Day after the midterms, 2010

(Wednesday, November 3, 2010)

Look at it this way–the combined Democratic increase in the House of Representatives in 2006/2008 was about fifty seats (51, actually). Now the GOP gets them back (they won sixty three). That’s been the trend in bad economic times throughout American history, going back as far as the late 19th century. During downturns, the balance in the house and senate swing dramatically back and forth. Odds are there’s a partial correction  back towards the mean in 2012 (the Democrats gained only eight House seats, actually).

And all the GOP did was take one house. In the process they have driven themselves very far to the right and a lot of the new people will lose their seats in two years, like just happened to us. (They didn’t, actually, and gained another thirteen in 2014.) The GOP will now start tearing itself to shreds and the GOP establishment is on a war footing trying to block a Sarah Palin nomination (hard to believe she was considered the leading GOP contender in 2010). Let them go after the health care plan. People will hate them for it. People hate socialized medicine but they love the various elements of Obamacare. Watch what happens.

One of the great things about having only one house (The Democrats still held the Senate) is that there’s not a chance im hell you can get anything done so you can spend your time yelling and being extreme and posing for pictures and engaging in intra-party struggles and helping people run for president. This is no Newt Gingrich/Tom DeLay thing as in 1994. The Republican House majority will get nothing done. They will be playing to their own, which means playing hard right, and Americans don’t like the hard right. The media, however, loves the hard right. You wanna get on TV, scream you lie (which Senator Jim DeMint yelled at Obama in his 2010 Sate of the Union speech).

And there are a lot of nut cases now in the House and Senate. Rand Paul? And who knows whose in the House now. But think of this–Michelle Bachmann is a major player. I mean, that is a dream come true. And I could go on and on. This election is in many ways the best possible outcome for the Obama administration. The right gets to go nuts. The right gets to have a civil war. The right is threatened with the cataclysmic possibility of a Palin nomination and no way to stop it (and note how the 2012 primary schedule favors Palin…..Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, Florida….then Super Tuesday.) The left can go nuts fulminating over Palin. Centrists and indies can loathe Palin even more.  The House can only make its presence felt by shutting down the government or trying to starve elements of the Health Care Plan and looking like scrooges. The right can try to undermine banking reform. The right can engage in witch hunt investigations over nothing. The right can push the birth certificate issue. The right sat sit there and watch DeMint and Rubio and all the new Tea Party people scream and yell and avoid reality. And people can learn to hate John Boehner, who is uniquely hateable, beginning with his tan.

Sit back and enjoy the ride.

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Obama screwing up at the presidential debate in 2012

(An email I wrote about Obama’s performance in the first debate against Romney in 2012. I had forgotten just how catastrophic that performance was. It was a short lived catastrophe, though, as Obama came roaring back in the second and third debates and neutralized the damage he’d done to himself in the first. Interesting, though, how some of my ranted criticisms here apply to Trump’s first performance as well.)

Well, Obama’s fucking up the debate is not only the major event of this campaign…it is also possibly the greatest fuck up in American Presidential campaign history since, well, since I don’t know. I can’t think of a comparison. Maybe Nixon in his debate in 1960…except that was a close race at the time, not a blow out. The Dewey-Truman thing was a Truman surge but also the fact that his voters had been underpolled. Neither of these compare to this one. Obama was way ahead and was beaten decisively and worse yet humiliated on national television. Obama was utterly unprepared.  He figured the race was in the bag and that he was so superior to Romney he could bat him away like a fly, I guess. His debate prep team ought to be banished from politics forever they were so bad. They failed completely, and I mean completely, to ascertain how Romney would debate. I have never seen such a failure. This was like Rick Perry’s performance in the GOP debates. This was horrible. Catastrophic. You have to be blindly partisan not to feel very uneasy about a guy that fucks up that badly when eye to eye with an opponent.

He’ll do better tonite, much better. Might even be declared the winner (in fact, if it’s a draw he probably will be declared the winner.)  The other point is that he does not fuck up on the stump, and hasn’t since the debate, not even the next morning. His campaign has made zero mistakes except for the debate. Romney is far more likely to stumble, and once he stumbles he stumbles again, gets off message, and looks very unpresidential. And Obama’s press team is much better than Romney’s. Romney’s people failed to capitalize on the scope of their debate win and in fact let Obama pick up his momentum the very next morning, as if the debate had never happened. If Romney does stumble again, and he probably will, his team will not react with such efficiency. ANd to be honest, the press doesn’t like him. They’re dying for a chance to go after him again.

One of the things that so astonishes me about Obama and his debate prep team was that the election appeared to be virtually over and the only way Romney could possibly win was if Obama fucked up incredibly bad. They should have made absolutely sure–absolutely sure–that would not happen. If he tried to blow off the prep (which I think he did) they should not have allowed it to happen. This is all inexcusable.

Obama will still win…Romney’s surge will peak and things will lean Obama’s way again. I also suspect that the Obama vote is underrepresented because Obama’s voters are young and are undersampled in the polling because so many young people do not have LAN lines.  This was one of the reasons that Obama’s vote share was underestimated in 2008.  I also suspect that the Right screaming about Obama’s people making up the good job numbers had an effect, because of the paranoia enhancing and conspiracy credibility of the internet. You scream that shit loud enough, people believe it. The Right knew what it was doing. They knew what they were doing when the demonized Joe Biden after the veep debate too. Once that shit goes viral it begins to shift opinion. Remember the reaction to their Obamacare scare. And it took the job numbers conspiracy to get the more demented wing of the GOP fired up in the blogs and social media again, which is where you can shift opinion in days. A lie spread fast enough and some people will believe it. Not many that affect this race, but just enough of the undecided voters. Those cats aren’t the hippest people in America anyway, I mean who hasn’t already made up their minds? That is what the campaigns are working with now, the people who haven’t cared enough to decide already, and might well make their decision on the flakiest factors. Like the guy who wanted a president more like Bruce Lee. I mean what can you say? But you have to take them seriously the last two months of the campaign.

But I have to say again…Obama’s performance in the first debate is probably the  single most catastrophic mistake in modern presidential election history. It was stunning, and it was entirely his own fault. And it’s no wonder that people began looking at Romney anew. Not necessarily because they think he is better, but because Obama looked so bad. You have to wonder about the hubris of a man and a campaign staff that thinks a national television audience can be blown off like that.

(Actually, the single most catastrophic mistake in modern presidential debate history was Jerry Ford emphatically declaring in a 1976 debate with Jimmy Carter that Eastern Europe was not under Soviet domination, nor would it be under a Ford Adminstration. That was weird…and handed Carter the White House.)

Miss TanZANia

Larry Wilmore. If you are gonna bomb, bomb big. Now everybody whose anybody in his world knows he is nowhere near as funny as they thought he was. That’s what Larry Wilmore’s Monday will be. Indeed, the rest of his career will be. Like the Zodiac Killer. Remember that one? Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer. The Zodiac Killer. The Zodiac Killer. The Zodiac Killer. The Zodiac Killer. The Zodiac Killer. The Zodiac Killer. The Zodiac Killer. Repeat till they finally stop laughing entirely.

Still, Larry Wilmor didn’t blow a perfect joke like Obama. “Trump has spent years meeting with leaders from around the world”, Barak opened: “Miss Sweden”, let a beat pass, “Miss Argentina”, let two beats pass, “Miss Azerbaijan”. Three beats. The audience is waiting for it. “Miss TanZANia”. BAM! The audience would have exploded, boom, the laugh-o-meter gone to laugh-o-meter heaven. All those celebrities and reporters and politicians and would have laughed and laughed, laughed themselves silly. But Obama never said it. He never said “Miss Tanzania”, trumpified and mispronounced.  He merely went on to his next bit. So we will never know just how funny a well timed “Miss Tanzania” (rhymed with Albania, sort of) would have been. Not here anyway. Not in this universe. In some alternative universe maybe. In some alternative universe “Miss Tanzania” would have been the funniest punch line ever. Outright prolonged laughter across several dimensions. That’s the thing about alternative universes. Some of them are really funny. In some alternative universe Larry Wilmore’s routine was funny too.

Well, maybe not. Not even string theory could have saved that material.

The glass half full

I cannot remember two days in a row like this before…this is profound stuff. Affordable health care is now the constitutional right of every American citizen, bar none, and that cannot be changed ever. This is as profound as some of the most glorious events in American history, like banning slavery forever, or giving women the right to vote, or establishing social security. This is that big a deal. Health care, in this country, is now as much your right as voting is. It is as much a right as is anything in the constitution. If you are an American citizen, the government is required to see that you receive health care. And that is profound. The Supreme Court laid that on us yesterday. It’s still sinking in. People haven’t quite grasped the absolute significance of that yet. That if you are sick, it is unconstitutional for you not to have access to affordable health care. Continue reading

Cuba libre

Alpha 66 is not happy.

Alpha 66 is not happy.

The U.S. embargo of Cuba is pretty inexplicable. We have close relations with Viet Nam. We may have more direct connections with North Korea than we do with Cuba. Why have we continued this ridiculous embargo and non-recognition so long? Fidel tossed Batista (and the Mob) out in 1959. That was 55 years ago.

Because of Florida, that’s why. Specifically because of Florida on two days every four years. One of those days is the Republican presidential primary. The other is the day we vote for president. By an accident of political geography, it’s been impossible for a presidential candidate to say that as president he would lift the embargo and exchange ambassadors with Cuba without committing political suicide. Continue reading

Four days after the 2014 midterms

There’s an excellent piece by Jamelle Bouie in Slate today, The Disunited States of America, about the midterm voters versus the general election voters. It’s longish, which means, sadly, few will finish the piece before they begin attacking it in the comments section. Which is too bad, because Bouie does a fine job explaining the natures of midterm voters and non-voters and how that difference has set us up for a gridlocked, dysfunctional Congress term after term. Basically, the proportion of older, white, male, well off, conservative voters is significantly higher in the off year (that is, midterm) elections, with everyone else piling in for the general. Which means that the presidents will likely remain Democrat over all, and the senate will slowly shift blue as conservative Republican senators elected in off year elections are beaten six years later as the GOP base gradually, well, dies off. Gradually at first anyway. Once they hit their eighties they disappear as a voting block. That is happening now, though it won’t start becoming noticeable in a big way, I imagine, in four years. That’s the thing about life expectancy, people don’t live much past it. However, the House of Representatives, gerrymandered all to hell, will stay red for a long time. Continue reading

The day after the 2014 midterms

I hate to be a downer to all the panic stricken and paranoid out there, but there is a Democratic president, you’ll remember, and therefore not a damn crazy thing the GOP does will be made law. None of it. So relax. And the senate map in 2016 is worse for the GOP than this year was for the Demos, Demo turnout will be much higher. If we had kept the senate this year–and there wasn’t a chance of that, look at the map–nothing would get done because the GOP held the House. And now nothing will get done because the GOP holds both houses. Obama is a lame duck now and as always in a lame duck presidency nothing significant gets done legislatively the last two years. There will be a lot of speechifying by Republicans trying to outflank each other on the right, and a lot of executive orders coming out of the White House. Standard operating procedure anymore.

If anyone told you the Democrats could hold the Senate this year they were either deluded or lying. There was not a chance in hell of that happening. All you have to do is look at the map of states with senate races, and compare it to the map of states who gave their electoral votes to Romney. If they voted for Romney, it wasn’t too likely that the voters would pick one of Obama’s senate allies. And considering that so many Democratic voters can’t get off their asses in a midterm and bother to vote–though they are all over Facebook now, those people, shrieking–the odds against a Democratic candidate were that much longer. This is always the case in midterms. Older voters go to the polls, younger are too busy, apparently. White voters go the polls, other colors are too busy. Men go to the polls, more women are too busy. Older white males are the core of the GOP. You can’t blame them for voting for their party of choice. You should turn your ire against those that couldn’t be bothered. A few seats in battleground states, in Maryland, in Colorado, would have stayed blue, but Democrats are lazy voters. Continue reading