This Is Going To Be Ugly
Well, day one of actual voting (as opposed to Quisling horse-race coverage of personalities and not issues, and endless polling — which we now all consider questionable) has concluded and it’s a MESS.
And there I stopped a couple days ago. I had my suspicions. Cui bono: who benefits?
We are in for a world of hurt, kiddies.
Oh, and Louisiana Republicans?
As Louisiana GOP censures Mitt Romney, David Duke laughs
Quin Hillyer / Washington Examiner
The same Louisiana Republican Party that 30 years ago refused to censure former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke decided last Saturday to censure Sen. Mitt Romney. — The mind reels. The stomach sickens. The Republican State Central Committee, the elected body that controls the internal governance of the state party, essentially said Romney for too long has been mean to poor, defenseless President Trump…. [emphasis added]
Add to that (the Clusterf*** in Iowa) the shame and eternal stain of the rigged and jury-tampered impeachment “trial” and the astonishing and utterly surprising Mitt Romney act of moral courage, and the Magic 8-Ball® was entirely clouded over.
Great Moments in Law. Not.
And this week, as Der Donald spewed obscenities in the White House, after … THE NATIONAL PRAYER BREAKFAST* … it all seemed more of a piece than disparate squares of a quilt comprised of equal parts idiocracy, kleptocracy and incipient apocalypse.
[* If prayer is your “thing” what took place at the ecumenical (with bizarro world undertones) National Prayer Breakfast — which dates to 1953 was shameful in context. But Trump, being Trump, needed to vent, and where best to NEVER turn the other cheek than at the Presidential Prayer Breakfast, as it was known until the name was changed in 1970.]
The warp of chaos and the woof of revenge matched up perfectly.
Online, the toxic legacy of Bernie’s 2016 campaign seemed to jell as if precipitated out in a test tube in a chemistry experiment. And the backbiting, the insults and the rage flew, long before anyone had any notion of what there might be to be angry ABOUT.
And I recalled just how much Russian ‘bot and troll traffic was being currently recorded, put myself in their shoes, and asked myself: if I were going to try and sabotage the Democratic primaries, when and where would I strike first?
Cui bono: who benefits?
But perhaps we don’t even need their help. The willingness to jump in and attack without clear evidence was pronounced even without any help at all.
Why, you’d think that delayed election results were a capital crime.
I remember when we had to wait on election returns, and it was much more dramatic and meaningful. And nobody ever died of having to wait a little longer. But then, they were not the entitled instant gratification freaks that we are, so it’s a moot point, one supposes.
But hey. This year we’re probably going to have a nominee by March and then a year of Trump’s gargantuan war chest to attack and undermine that nominee from March until November.
There are two main possible outcomes*
If there WERE no trollery (and indications are that there was) then we’ve just witnessed the political equivalent of Dick Cheney shooting his hunting partner in the face.
And, if there WERE trollery, then we’re in for a long, ugly, disinformational season of all the mud that can be slung.
[* Note: this is inductive and not deductive reasoning, so some generalizations and educated guesses are necessary. The non-binary outcomes include: Earth is destroyed by an asteroid; a military coup à la Seven Days In May; Martians invade and invalidate elections; massive crowds storm the Bastille; a typographical error leaves Trump off the ballot in all fifty states; dinosaurs return to rule the Earth; Trump dies of a freak flatulation accident, etc. Since the odds of these eventualities are small, BUT not impossible, they are understood to be filtered out in inductive conclusions.]
But there is just too much to take in at one gulp. So let’s break it up into byte-sized pieces:
i. Pravda Means ‘Truth’ in Russian. It Never Was.
Today, Saturday, February Eighth, Two Thousand and Twenty, Common Era, on Fox News, at one hour and five minutes post meridian, the commentator elicited this whopper: President Trump, she said, is going after Senator Joe Manchin, “who voted against his acquittal” in the impeachment trial.
Think about that for a minute, and I’ll tell you a joke:
Once Upon A Cold War, there was a dual US/USSR track meet. The U.S. won.
The following day, the official newspaper, Pravda reported to the Soviet people:
Glorious Soviet track team wins silver, USA finishes next to last
It IS true. It’s just entirely misleading. Intentionally so.
As is “voted against his acquittal.”
What kind of Orwellian Doublespeak is this? Voting “guilty” is voting “guilty.”
It is NOT voting against exoneration. It is not voting against acquittal. It isn’t even voting against complete exonerated acquittal in an illegitimate process that wouldn’t be impeachable, NO MATTER WHAT Alexander Hamilton said.
As the philanderer caught in flagrante delicto was alleged to have said as his naked mistress fled: “Who are you going to believe? Me? Or your lying eyes?”
We hear constantly about “bias in the media,” which is not conclusively proven, while no one says a word about the INTENTIONAL bias of the right wing “Pravda” media who find media bias so TERRIBLE! (Double standard.)
Now, we hear that “retaliation” is not retaliation. Well, that’s standard “Ministry of Truth” practice, isn’t it? And all roads with this administration seem to lead to Pravda.
ii. How quick to pounce, how slow to think
Meantime, most everyone seems to have lost their minds over Iowa.
Sorry, kids, but I am very happy to understand that Mayor Pete and Bernie fought to an impressive tie and move on. I have never much cared for the Iowa circus and this year, hopefully, it will die a well-deserved death. I remember BEFORE 1972 when New Hampshire regularly kicked off the primary season and it worked well. *
[* I only recall TWO actual years that the Iowa caucuses ever meant a damned thing: Jimmy Carter in 1976 (he sort of “made” the Iowa caucuses) and Barack Obama in 2008. Otherwise it’s just been an invitation to a Buddy Holly Style “what the eff are you doing flying into Iowa at this time of the year?” plane crash. The best that could be said of it is that it became, for fifty years, the place that candidacies went to die. Sen. Phil Graham (R, Tx.) went to Iowa in 1996 with more money than Croesus, and left the state AND his campaign behind him.]
Sadly, no one has bothered noticing, in all the endless, silly blather (silly in the sad fact that the vast majority of it, dealing with speculation about events that NEVER transpire, both robs us of actual facts and inures us to the toxic mix of fact and fiction that created Fox News and the Bernie Bros fan fiction that the DNC conspired to ‘derail’ Bernie and to ‘steal’ primaries from him.
Which brings us to Iowa: the FIRST AND LOUDEST attacks were BY Bernie supporters (or Russian ‘bots) claiming that it was about THEM and stealing THEIR election from BERNIE!
I suppose, if true. But nobody bothered to wait for the facts. In fact, so much judgment and condemnation has spewed from our news outlets and comments already that you’d think that an Impeachable Offense had been committed by some “Deep State.”
And we STILL don’t have the facts to make any firm judgments. Turning on one another so quickly is not a judgment but a fact and a sad fact that progressives better figure out fast.
As rusty as they are from so many years of NOT fighting, now that they’re in a fighting mood, they’re all like green troops in a bar waiting to go into combat. They don’t care WHO they fight, and end up fighting each other.
This is childish and stupid ad oh-so-counterproductive, and if you progressives are trying to lull the Rabid Right into complacent slumber by your astonishingly flaccid display of misplaced conclusion-jumping, you’re doing a GREAT job.
iii. “professional” media coverage
The same news outlets that hated Hillary Clinton have relentlessly poured negative coverage on Joe Biden’s campaign. Oddly, it bears virtually no resemblance to the man that voters see in person, but it IS in keeping with the media narrative ever since Dan Quayle:
All Vice Presidents are clowns. You might remember it from the Al Gore coverage in 2000.
Then again, you probably don’t.
Either way, Biden is probably a dead man walking. Too bad no one thought the voters ought to decide.
I knew the fix was in when I turned on MSNBC the other morning and the lead story at the top of the hour was not the fustercluck in Iowa.
It was SEVEN STRAIGHT MINUTES of how Joe Biden’s candidacy was probably over, and how terrible Iowa was for him and how soon he ought to drop out of the race.
That’s a lot of things. But it’s not objective reporting of facts and policies.
It’s the People Magazine approach to facts that aided and abetted the “elections” of George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump. Facts are irrelevant, personalities is what gets the clickers clicking.
Which created the profound and imbecilic notion that a complete amateur, utterly unqualified by experience and temperament was a legitimate alternative to “politicians” and would not be the constitutional train wreck that currently occupies the White House.
Lesson learned, “legitimate” news outlets?
Not on your tintype.
Here’s a representative sample of newspaper headlines on Joe Biden (no one else comes remotely close for negative coverage):
January 26 – February 9
Sam Stein / The Daily Beast: Joe Biden Is Running Out Of Gas
Cleve R. Wootson Jr / Washington Post: Biden jokingly calls voter who asked about Iowa a ‘lying dog-faced pony soldier’
Summer Concepcion / Talking Points Memo: Biden Denies Attacking Buttigieg In Campaign Ad: ‘Pete’s Been Attacking Me’
Daniel Politi / Slate: Biden Says Buttigieg Is “Not a Barack Obama.” Buttigieg Fires Back: “Neither Is He.”
JONATHAN TURLEY: Biden Goes Negative In New Hampshire With Race-Based Ad Against Buttigieg
Rishika Dugyala / Politico: Biden: I’m not letting attacks on my family stop me
Noah Lanard / Mother Jones: Biden Mocked Buttigieg’s Record as Mayor in a New Video. Then Buttigieg Hit Back.
Jackie Kucinich / The Daily Beast: Democratic Voters Worry Biden Has ‘Too Much Baggage’ After Trump’s Ukraine Smears
Dan Balz / Washington Post: Joe Biden’s campaign has a problem, and it begins with the candidate
Noah Rothman / Commentary: Joe Biden’s Last Stand?
Edward-Isaac Dovere / The Atlantic: How Biden Blew It — WEST DES MOINES, Iowa—The Friday night …
Stephanie Murray / Politico: Deval Patrick eyes opening in South Carolina after Biden’s Iowa slip
Guy Benson / Townhall: Let’s Face It: Joe Biden May Be in Serious Trouble
Luppe B. Luppen / Yahoo News: Treasury Department sent information on Hunter Biden to expanding GOP Senate inquiry
Politico: First head rolls after Biden’s weak Iowa finish
Meg Kinnard / Associated Press: Black lawmakers demand Biden disavow surrogate’s comments
New York Times: What Went Wrong for Joe Biden in Iowa
Ken Thomas / Wall Street Journal: How Iowa Slipped Away From Joe Biden
Timothy P. Carney / Washington Examiner: Come on, we basically know how Iowa voted: Against Biden
Washington Post: No, Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden are not ‘centrists’
Nathan Robinson / The Guardian: Joe Biden flopped in Iowa. And so did the Democratic party’s reputation
The Hill: Biden allies lower expectations for Iowa: ‘Most feel it’s not going to be great’
NBC News: The stakes for Biden tonight in Iowa are enormous
Dana / Patterico’s Pontifications: GOP Senator Warns Biden: If You’re Elected, We Might Immediately Push To Impeach You
Molly Olmstead / Slate: Iowa Senator Says Republicans Would Immediately Impeach a President Biden
Neal Rothschild / Axios: Sanders snatches attention lead from Biden ahead of Iowa
Hannah Bleau / Breitbart: Poll: Joe Biden’s Lead over President Trump Has ‘Essentially Vanished’
Thomas Beaumont / Associated Press: Buttigieg goes after Biden, Sanders as politics of past
The Intercept: Amid Social Security Fight, Joe Biden Is Losing Ground Among Middle-Aged and Older Voters
Tim O’Donnell / The Week: Biden reportedly said he wouldn’t be running if Mitt Romney was president
Jordain Carney / The Hill: Graham: There will be 51 GOP votes to call Bidens, whistleblower
Ben Schreckinger / Politico: Lobbyist bought tropical land from Biden’s brother
Tobias Hoonhout / National Review: Biden-Tied Lobbyist Bought Island Property from Biden’s Brother, Gave Him Mortgage Loan
Streiff / Redstate: The Dam Begins to Break as Politico Reveals Corrupt Land and Lobbying Deal Involving QuidProJoe and His Family
The Intercept: Amid Social Security Fight, Joe Biden Is Losing Ground Among Middle-Aged and Older Voters
Alex Seitz-Wald / NBC News: The unsinkable Joe Biden? Many months and many gaffes later, Biden is still ahead
Paul Kane / Washington Post: Democrats hear echoes of Benghazi probe of Clinton in GOP calls to investigate Biden
Thomas Kaplan / New York Times: Biden picks up a helpful (and rare) newspaper endorsement.
Oh, and here’s the positive coverage:
Marc Caputo / Politico: Major union flips support from Sanders to Biden
Barney Breen-Portnoy / Algemeiner.com: Ex-VP Joe Biden Is Preferred Candidate of US Jewish Democrats, New Poll Shows
No other candidate’s coverage has approached this in terms of sheer volume (and sheer journalistic slander).
Fair and balanced?
Someone has decided that Joe Biden is NOT a choice for Democrats and, obediently, the polls begin to fall in line.
Land of the free and home of the brave, right?
iv. The Night of the Long Knives®
As is old news now, and to be expected, Trump unleashed retaliation against those who testified against him in the House, including Lt. Col Vindman (and his twin brother, who had NOTHING to do with the case OTHER than being related to a witness!) being frog-marched off the White House grounds (for humiliation) and firing Ambassador Gordon Sondland, even though Sondland was already on his way out the door, and various Republicans warned him not to do it, Trump didn’t care.
He has to get EVEN.
Whether I’ve mentioned it or not before in these pages, this is a well-known conversational trope on my part: Trump’s core is self-pity. Not “egotism” or “narcissism” in their highfalutin’ sense, it is simple, naked self-pity. Understand that (and that Putin tells him what to do, foreign policy wise, and Occam’s Razor makes that conclusion inescapable) and you understand each and every move Trump has ever made. From Stormy Daniels’ inadvertent admission of Trump’s fanatical overcompensation and trophy wives, to his “largess” in donating his salary and seemingly rationalizing his now-over $125 million in golf trips and expenses spent BY Trump. It is about self-pity. And a big part of self-pity is in revenge fantasies against those who done all them awful things to the pity party patron.
Oh, and TODAY, he purged 70 members of the National Security Council — holdovers from the Obama Administration. Putin undoubtedly approves.
The purges continue.
He is now living out those fantasies with the (to his mind, at least, if not in actual fact) the Red Rubber Stamp of Approval, courtesy of the “frightened” Republicans of the United States Senate.
v. Connecting some dots that nobody ever seems to have connected.
Rudy Giuliani is doing in Ukraine what Donald Trump’s “private investigators were doing in Hawaii when Trump decided to revive the all-but-dead “Birther”movement and never produced as much evidence as he’s produced promised tax returns. It’s the same trick.
What the House of Representatives did was, arguably the MANDATE from the “blue wave” election that somehow never quite got its due. Most of the media were too busy sneering at the notion of a “blue wave” (Democratic landslide) to notice that a blue wave had, in fact, happened. Just as Mayor Pete’s HISTORIC showing in Iowa was used against him, so, too, the MANDATE of the blue wave was never discussed, except by negation: “Oh,the election was about health care and bread and butter issues and not about how scared America was of Donald Trump.”
Again, WTF, pundits? Trump then BEGAN their tenure in office by petulantly shutting down the government. Remember? Remember?
Where was the simple connection of those two dots? Arguably, this congress was elected TO impeach Donald Trump — who has NEVER accepted their legitimacy, and, by extension, the legitimacy of the American voter.
Who, punditti, has connected these simple dots in that endless sea of blather that passes for news but never tells us any — unless it’s of a shooting at some school? And, while we’re at it, and seemingly loving it, since nobody does anything about it, can’t we just save ink time and pixels and just call them “schootings“?
The answer is: a triangle!
vi. Venn Diagrams without diagrams
It is going to be particularly ugly, given that so many uglies intermesh here. There is the Venn Diagram overlapping BernieBros (internet flavor) with Russian Troll farms.
We have no idea how much overlap there is between the two sets.
Donald just plain doing whatever cheating he feels he has to do. This overlaps the prior Venn diagrams to some unknown degree.
Straight up BernieBros who bought the Russian Narrative that the DNC secretly and intentionally blocked the non-Democratic movement of the outsider Sanders in taking the Democratic party nomination immediately pounced on the Iowa results as being INTENTIONALLY about them.
Again, we have no idea where those sets interlink and overlap.
(Leaving aside the brazen hypocrisy of feeling entitled to take over an organization that one has invested ZERO time or money in and that many more have invested much in, going back to 1828.)
Real electoral analysis would begin to try and at least limn out those various parties. Current professional electoral analysis not only doesn’t, but actively pretends that we live in a world long forgotten in an age of AI hacks.
As it stands, the media and the Democratic Party have utterly failed to so much as take note of the single most important takeaway from 2016:
Trump’s marketing campaign (see Scott Adams’ endless fanboy ravings for details) utterly bypasses the “rational” mind in favor of pure reptile brain/amygdala conditioning.
NO serious student of politics ought to have not seen that this is a sea change in the entire nature of electoral politics.
It’s been coming for some time, but it is a complete rejection of facts in favor of a purely emotional narrative, simple as sin and repeated ad infinitum.
But the media and the politicians still pretend that policy and rational appeals to logic are still the way to campaign.
vii. Credit where credit is due
What Mitt Romney did was, in fact, a profile in courage.
I salute him for it.
Although the Louisiana legislature did not.
Regular readers might note that I am not among Mr. Romney’s biggest political fans.
The point here is, just as a man can besmirch a lifetime of noble public service (for the most part, as in the current case of our Republican Sycophant Senators) with a single deed of moral courage or moral cowardice, Mr. Romney has redeemed a lifetime of questionable activity with a single act of moral courage, and I will always remember that with regards to Senator Romney.
As for McConnell and his band of goons, how come nobody connects the dots that the gang stuffing the federal judiciary with young, ofttimes unqualified and inexperienced, “originalist” judges (à la the Federalist Society who have quietly taken over the US Supreme Court without comment on the part of the watchdog press) how come nobody connects the dots that them what’s niow responsible for ONE in FOUR sitting federal judges just made an utter mockery of due process, argument, reason, law and trial, with a rigged kangaroo court.
A few have noted that the republic may well have just been dealt a mortal blow: that Article I just capitulated to Article II. And presided over by the Chief of Article III.
Poor Article III. As Andrew Jackson said: “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!”
Mark Twain said this (and I wish Adam Schiff had used this instead of his Robert Kennedy quote in the impeachment trial):
It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare.
— MARK TWAIN IN ERUPTION: Hitherto Unpublished Pages About Men and Events. Edited by Bernard DeVoto, 402 pages. 1940
And Twain ought to have known. He knew Mississippi riverboat men, Civil War veterans, gold prospectors, gamblers, Nevada legislators, congressmen and every other unsavory type known at the time and foreigners besides.
Mitt showed himself to be the ONE Republican senator with true moral courage. In the party, as now constituted, that may well be the kiss of death.
There was not a senator in that chamber who didn’t know what he was rationalizing, aiding and abetting. And there was only one on the Republican side, and perhaps three on the Democratic side who put their vote ahead of their career. Their OATH (remember that I started this colloquy on impeachment about oaths?) was solemn and sacred to them. Mr. Romney made that point: that his oath before his God was a mortally serious issue.
Clearly this would confuse a professional liar, and thus, the Senate GOP caucus irritation at his incomprehensible (to them) raison d’être.
Moral courage is rare, and, as I have to note over and over again: moral acts are discrete. If I save a nun from being run over by a truck and I shoot a teenager in the park for fun, neither case alters the other.
And yet, we American DO believe in redemption, and if that is true, then Mitt’s act of moral courage redeems him. Let’s see if he can live up to it. But, no matter however much he might tarnish the life that produced that act of conscience, it will not itself be tarnished. It will remain a solitary point of light in a deepening twilight on our land.
Cui bono? The crooks.
A writer, published author, novelist, literary critic and political observer for a quarter of a quarter-century more than a quarter-century, Hart Williams has lived in the American West for his entire life. Having grown up in Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico, a survivor of Texas and a veteran of Hollywood, Mr. Williams currently lives in Oregon, along with an astonishing amount of pollen. He has a lively blog, His Vorpal Sword (no spaces) dot com.