The George Bush chimp meme set off the meme wars, if only because he was president when Facebook took off in a big way. As soon as Obama was elected the Right–especially the Tea Party–went nuts with their own vicious memes. And now with Trump we return the favor. And it’ll keep happening because each side holds the other side to rules that they themselves do not abide by. Which is nothing new, the pamphlets and newspapers in the 18th and 19th century were incredibly offensive and insulting and just as low brow as anything you see on your iPhone today. And both sides back then raged the same way we are all raging now, mortally offended by what the other side posts and finding all sorts of excuses for posting their own. Calls for censorship abounded, like they abound now, though the First Amendment prevented that for the most part. Now, though, with Facebook and Twitter essentially privatizing communication in ways that Ronald Reagan never imagined, wholesale censorship is possible in social media because the internet is somehow not considered to exist in the same heady constitutional air as the airwaves. Funny seeing the conservative stance on the internet suddenly condemned by outraged conservatives bewildered by the First Amendment. And funny too watching progressives defend social media as privately owned and free from those First Amendment restrictions. Meanwhile memes are fading, replaced by furious bursts of words. Not particularly intelligent words, necessarily, but words nonetheless. We’re getting oddly literate in the Age of Trump, even as Trump himself can barely tweet a coherent sentence.
Admittedly, mix tapes is way cooler than compilation tapes. Then again, pot wasn’t as strong then and we could say compilation without falling down. Four syllables, that is definitely a two hitter word. Though after the second drag off the Nixon bong (Nixon and tapes, it’s a natural) you’ll forget what the next two syllables were. Stuck at compil. French. Qu’est-ce que c’est? How do you tell a Parisian supermodel you got lost half way through the word compilation? So mix works. Mix tapes. Harsh, sure, without the mellow stoned sibilant halfway through the ashun in compilation, that whispered shhhhh, though you could go faux french and call mix tapes mees tapes. As in Ed Meese. Shhhhh I say again, and a supermodel thinks I mean her. She puts a long delicate finger to her lips and says shhhhh. Of course, back in the day cassette was too long to type if you were stoned so we used to type K7. Two key strokes. Just a one hitter, that. And French again. Ka sept, with a silent p. Ka set. Cassette. First time I saw that I thought it was kay seven. Luckily I didn’t say it out loud, and the Parisian supermodels I was hanging with never knew. They were too busy vogueing anyway. Just about then Lee Atwater showed up with a bag of blues 8 tracks, some Freedom Fries and a shitload of cocaine. What’s with all the Pink Floyd, he bitched. I hit on the Nixon bong again. You don’t like Floyd? It was my Pink Floyd meese tape. I exhaled a blue cloud and a single note repeated, over and over. That same single note. Ninety minutes of Echoes. I must have been high.
It wasn’t so long ago that Bernie Sanders supporters hated the press, and Bernie held events that the press was barred from. Much of Bernie’s own stump speech railed against the media. He wanted reform. His first big event after conceding a discussion of how to change the nature of mass media in America. He said instead of a media like we have now–which he insisted was entirely corporate, all of it–we need to have a network run by the Democratic Party to promote a progressive agenda. He wanted a progressive Fox News. Trump wanted, and got, Breitbart. Both Bernie and Trump ran against the media. It’s just that Trump was elected. What you are seeing now is what happens when a campaign that ran on an anti-media platform wins the presidency. The antipathy toward the press in America is equally strong on both ends of the political spectrum. Most people prefer to read or hear only what they agree with, a tendency that has been reinforced by Facebook, where people do not like to see opinions they don’t agree with. Probably at least half the population of the U.S., perhaps a lot more, would support some sort of restrictions on the freedom of the press in this country. It’s just that since Trump is the one in the White House, progressives suddenly love the independent press again. But that creepy totalitarian streak when it comes to the news is not far beneath the American surface, and should another progressive candidate with so little regard for a free media come along like Bernie Sanders (left over from his hard left days, where Marxists cannot abide a free press), then you could have both Democrats and Republicans running against the media, and our tradition of a free press could be in serious jeopardy. Of course, that is a tradition that neither Trump and the alt-right nor most Progressives are particularly attached to.
I think when it comes to Donald Trump on the media, the progressives of America are looking at a hideous, distorted funhouse mirror reflection of their own attitudes toward the media and the First Amendment not too long ago.
Why William Kristol is on my Twitter feed I have no idea. Has Donald Trump brought together liberals and neocons? Has it at last gotten to that? Like commies and capitalists uniting against Hitler? Or good and evil scientists against Godzilla? Has some rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouched toward Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to be born? Trump did win there. He won the whole damn Lehigh Valley, in fact, and there went Pennsylvania and, tumbling like southeast Asian dominos, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Minnesota teetered and held. Oh joy. An angry little progressive, twittering like an indignant bird, tells me that Michigan is too close to call. He sees a way out. Chemtrails chemtrails chemtrails. But getting back to William Kristol. One of the brilliant minds of neoconservatism. There he is, on my Twitterfeed, being clever. Oh so clever. You have to hand it to those old neocons. If politics were the Catskills, they’d be a laff riot. Funnier than most progressives, a particularly humorless lot lately. A few old George Carlin memes. Make a joke and you’re a Republican. But there is William Kristol, a conceptual architect of our Iraqi war, cracking wise. There’s John Podhoretz, saying fuck in inappropriate places. And there, on the far left end of the room, is Ralph Nader, no, there isn’t Ralph Nader. Can you blame him? Steve Bannon is a no show, too. Is he even on Twitter? I must look. I have a soft spot for spoilers and renegade nazis.
Curt Shilling went on Hardball on MSNBC last night to announce his intention to consider running for the Massachusetts Senate seat held by Elizabeth Warren and even though Chris Matthews was easy on him, Shilling almost immediately disintegrated into incoherence. He bitched about everyone dumping on him for his “you’re a Jew” comment on CNN, and then made a big scene out of something he misheard Chris Matthews say. (Matthews said troops, Shilling angrily insisted he’d said truth, and wound up looking the complete fool.) Unless the former Red Sox pitching great can learn to communicate on television, he won’t even make it out of his own primary. I have never witnessed a potential candidate (and one nationally known) so unprepared to run for a statewide office, even in a geographically small state like Massachusetts. He makes Paul LePage of nearby Maine look almost slick and professional in comparison. I’m not saying Elizabeth Warren has nothing to worry about, as these are weird times and one never knows, but head to head in a debate she will reduce him to chopped liver. If this is a sign of the quality of Trump inspired candidates the Republican Party can expect to see for a couple election cycles they are in serious trouble. Either someone in the Massachusetts GOP establishment better send Curt Shilling to candidate school quick, or find someone else to run for the Republican senate nomination who can send him off to the showers for good.
Odds are that the GOP will lose a couple dozen seats in the house this year. It seems as of now highly doubtful that they’ll lose more than that. Very effective gerrymandering by GOP controlled statehouses have left enough Republicans in safe districts that can withstand even a severe drubbing of their presidential candidate and a big increase in Democratic voters. But the irony is that the Republicans in districts that are not safe veer to the more moderate side of the GOP, being that the districts they are in are not conservative enough to have elected a Tea Partier. Democrats will pick up those seats, leaving a GOP majority in the house that, though smaller, will be even more conservative than it is now. Trump won’t win the White House, and a lot of Republican senators will be losing their seats because of Trump and likely losing the majority to the Democrats, but the House will be more Trumpified than it is now. There has been a long running Republican trend since 1980 (maybe since 1978) where every election brings more hard line conservatives into the House than before. In 1994–seven elections after the Reagan landslide in 1980–Newt Gingrich took control of the House GOP and set it firmly to the right. Indeed to the right of Reagan, certainly to the right of George S Bush. Clinton’s national health insurance plan was destroyed by the Gingrich revolution. Fast forward ten more congressional elections and Paul Ryan–more Reagan than Reagan just four years ago–is now far too moderate for most conservatives in the House (and among Republican Party rank and file) and in all likelihood will not be Speaker in 2017. Just four years ago he was hardline conservative. Now he is a RINO. Every Republican you see interviewed seems to see nothing but intra-party civil war and bloodletting. Meanwhile, the demographics in the general population run against them, and their base grows smaller and smaller. Parties do disappear sometimes. The Federalists were gone by the 1820’s after being dominant in the first twenty years of the country. The Whigs elected presidents before the Civil War and were national and growing until they almost instantaneously disappeared in the late 1850’s. But we’ve had two dominant parties since the Civil War, it’s hard to imagine one disintegrating completely. Yet that is what seems to be happening. A surreal time. Perhaps it is just a phase and the GOP will re-emerge. Perhaps it will split into multiple parties. The liberal Democrat in me snickers. The historian in me looks on in astonishment. To think I lived to see this day.
After the Paris attacks the GOP conveniently went after Syrian refugees which allowed the American Left to turn the debate of Islamic terrorism into a part of the 2016 presidential election contest. It became part of the classic battle between the Democratic party’s multi-culturalism and the Republican Party’s resurgent racist nativism. In the process the threat of real live Islamic terrorism was ignored, even belittled. I wondered, a month ago, how we on the Left would react when American Islamic terrorists, inspired by ISIS, would attack. Continue reading