Archive for the ‘Republican follies’ category

Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree

July 22, 2016

Josh Marshall has a tweet stream going talking about the Trump-Russia alliance.  As he sees it, the Manchurian-by-way-of-Queens Candidate isn’t even trying to hide his alliance with/subservience to Putin.

I’m not sure I wholly believe it, but I can’t come close to ruling it out, and that cranks the dangers of this election up to eleven.  Which is why I found this story a welcome bit of comic relief:

Sargent_MadameX

@IvankaTrump

Shop Ivanka’s look from her #RNC speech: http://bit.ly/29Qj7dE #RNCinCLE

  • 271271 Retweets
  • 748748 likes

This isn’t Ivanka Trump tweeting, technically. It’s @IvankaTrump, but that’s the Twitter handle forIvankaTrump.com. If one has one’s own clothing line, it seems natural that you’d wear pieces from it; perhaps the marketing folks saw an unplanned opportunity to plug the outfit on Twitter. It’s $138 at Macy’s; apparently her father’s boycott of the chain doesn’t apply to her. The garment is described as a “sophisticated sheath dress” that “works wonders at both social and professional occasions” — and, clearly, political ones.

Oh, also? The dress is “imported,” according to its description.

So perhaps this was a just a smart move by the site’s marketing team to capitalize on the moment. Possible. Or perhaps Ivanka Trump has been doing this for the entire convention, posting a series of photos from the event at her website with personalized captions to each — and links to where you can buy all of the things she’s wearing or carrying.

So yeah, maybe the Trump campaign is Putin’s Hail Mary attempt to reverse the outcome of the Cold War.  And maybe it’s just one long grift, the true family business now being carrie on by the smart child.

Of course, there’s no reason that what we’re seeing couldn’t be both a floor wax and a dessert topping.

Image:  John Singer Sargent, Madam X (Madame Pierre Gautreau)1883

INVINCIBLE!

June 7, 2016

Attention conservation notice (thanks, Cosma Shalizi):  What follows is some political naval gazing, a trip down memory lane to scan the GOP primary just gone by.  The TL:DR — what a craptastic effort by all concerned.  If you’ve nothing better to do, read on, and snark at will in the comments.

Not to aggrandize one of our more feeble trolls, but something that personage produced in a comment yesterday caught my eye.  Donald Trump, we were told, more than once, is INVINCIBLE (sic on the caps and bold).

What convinced our troll of this fact?

That the Gauleiter of Midtown Manhattan had defeated “the deepest primary field in history” (quoted from memory).

Well, a ruby in a dungheap is still a gem, and that remark caught my attention.  So, in a waltz down memory lane, I went to look up that deep field, here in the order in which they formally entered the campaign:

Ted Cruz.  Jeb Bush.  Ben Carson. Chris Christie. Carly Fiorina.  Jim Gilmore. Lindsey Graham.  Mike Huckabee.  Bobby Jindal.  John Kasich. George Pataki.  Rand Paul.  Rick Perry.  Marco Rubio.  Rick “don’t Google me” Santorum. Donald Trump, and Scott Walker.

Jheronimus_Bosch_011

Let’s review:

Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul:  first term senators of no accomplishment.

Carly Fiorina:  a failed business tycoon whose sole claim to fame is her near-destruction of one of the most respected corporations in tech.

Ben Carson:  a neurosurgeon who calls to mind the old joke:  “What’s the difference between God and a surgeon?”  “God knows he’s not a doctor.”

Jim Gilmore:  Jim Gilmore.

George Pataki:  George Pataki.

Rick Santorum: where to begin? Lost his last election by 30 points or more; hasn’t improved on extended acquaintence.

Chris Christie:  not yet indicted.

George Pataki:  smart boy glasses didn’t work.

Bobby Jindal:  Kenneth the office boy left the governor’s mansion in Louisiana as the single most potent unifier in state history: everyone, Democrat, Republican, Martian, loathed this incompetent poseur.

Mike Huckabee:  book salesman masquerading as Torquemada.

Scott Walker:  goggle-eyed homunculus almost instantly revealed as a small-time grifter utterly unsuited for the big time.

That leaves four:  Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich and the ferret-headed swindler himself.

Jeb?, Graham and Kasich had at least recognizably plausible credentials to mount a presidential bid.  Jeb, of course, was burdened with the worst name in politics, a record in Florida that mostly consisted of having the good sense to preside during a housing boom and to get out before the crash, and an easily torpedoed post-government high-class business-grift career.  Worst of all of course, he turned out to have zero talent as an actual working politician.

Lindsey Graham was always a “message” candidate.  Yes, he’s a senator with actual legislative experience, and on paper he’s at least plausible.  But at no time did he actually capture the interest of a significant faction of the party.  It’s conceivable, at least, that if the Republican field had been the same size as the Democrats — five at the most — he might have had a chance to move from being McCain’s mini-me to some more plausible shot at the nomination, but if I were the Emperor of all the Indies, I’d be farting through silk, and that hasn’t happened either.

John Kasich, as a lot of commentators pointed out, was the most plausible “conventional” candidate on a paint by numbers sort of analysis:  federal experience, re-elected as governor of a large, diverse and swing state, actual policy knowledge.  (All bad policy, of course, but at least he understands the task.)  For all that’s wrong with him on his actual merits, I can’t deny that at the start of the campaign season, he actually appeared to be someone who could say “I’m running for president” with a straight face.

Hence the obvious response to “INVINCIBLE!”  This was the political analogue to a boxing undercard of stiffs, tomato-cans, punchers with slow feet, cutesy fighters better at dancing than fighting and so on.  These were the bouts you arrange so as not to undermine the confidence of a still-raw devotee of the Sweet Science.  They were, as it turned out, palookas.

IOW:  A well-stocked bench does not equal a strong bench, and it’s worth thinking about that a little as we move on to the general.  The Republican party is in a dominant position in state governments and in Congress.  Despite that, it has a dearth of those who can plausibly put themselves forward as national leaders.  And it’s not getting better with the up-and-comers.  Sasse?  Cotton?  Ernst? New Mexico’s Martinez, in a party now led by an anti-Latino bigot…and so on.

Or think on the surrogates the two nominees-presumptive can bring to bear on the campaign at hand.  As lots have noted, Hillary gets POTUS, FLOTUS, Uncle Joe, Senator Professor Warren, and some guy named Bill as her starting five.  Combover Caligula (thanks Betty!)? Chris Christie. Somebody.  Somebody else.  Somebody’s twin nephews.  Or, if we take his former rivals expressions of support seriously:  Christie, Rubio, and I don’t know, maybe a couple more.

I’m not writing this to gloat or to suggest that the election is over.  It’s not.  Trump is many things, but what makes him dangerous is that he has a dedicated, too-large base of support he knows exactly how to motivate.  We let our guard down, he and they win; the country and the world loses.

But that phrase “a deep bench” still needs examination.  The 2016 Republican primary is, as our troll suggests, a measure of the state of the party.  There’s no doubt it commands power. What’s striking, though, is how thoroughly mediocre are those who wield it.

Which is, of course, why they must be destroyed, their cities sacked, and their fields sown with salt.

Factia Grandeava Delenda Est.

Image: Hieronymus Bosch, Ship of Fools, c. 1494-1510.

Verbum Sat Sapienti Est…Or Maybe Not

June 6, 2016

Try as I might, I cannot for the life of me figure out this from Gauleiter Drumpf:

I am getting bad marks from certain pundits because I have a small campaign staff. But small is good, flexible, save money and number one!

“Save money and number one!”  So his number lines begin at two?  He and his staff promise to pee less?  He’s running for a job as the Count’s assistant?

I read that tweet in light of this analysis of Trump’s purported advantage over Clinton, made by a once and (at least so he hopes so) future Republican candidate-whisperer:

“She is fighting a conventional war and he is fighting an asymmetrical war, and I don’t think that bodes well for her,” said Terry Sullivan, a Republican strategist. Mr. Sullivan has a unique perspective on the question, as the former manager of Senator Marco Rubio’s vanquished presidential campaign.

Trump’s secret weapon according to Sullivan:  feed the beast.  Constantly.

The primary lesson: “The solution is always more content, not less,” Mr. Sullivan said.

Partly, this is just grift.  Here’s how the reporter, James Rutenberg acquired that earth-shattering insight:

Mr. Sullivan; the former Rubio communications adviser Alex Conant; and a lawyer for Mr. Rubio, Will Holley, had reached out to me to discuss their new consulting firm, Firehouse Strategies. It’s based on the premise that Mr. Trump has rewritten the rules of modern communications strategy, and candidates and corporations need to take heed.

But what strikes me in this Firehoser’s argument is his apparent ignorance of everything that’s happened in media beyond politics over the last decade.  “Always more content” turns all content into noise soon enough.

Trump may have a bit of a first mover advantage in his dominance of the sclerotic political mediascape, but I think (a) that’s wearing thin, and one of the shocks of last week for the Trump camp was the degree to which their former lapdogs in the media have turned on them.

Frans_Snyders_-_Hounds_Bringing_down_a_Boar_-_WGA21530

And more important, (b):   as a number of people have pointed out Trump’s got a long haul problem: when the brand is escalation, at some point you’re promising to build a wall to bar the Red Lectroids from Planet Ten — paid for by the takings from Vogon poetry readings.

Which is to say, There’s much to be done to stomp his campaign into utter oblivion, but if texts like the Drumpf-tweet up top represent the current state of his content stream, I’m OK with that.

Image:  Frans Snyders, Hounds Bringing Down A Boar (couldn’t resist), before 1650.

They Are Who We Thought They Were

May 16, 2016

Exhibit A, from Trump’s “butler”*

Anthony Senecal told West Virginia newspaper The Martinsburg Journal on Friday—one day after a Secret Service agent called Senecal regarding online comments he made calling for Obama’s death—that he believes the President is a “traitor” who deserves to be killed.

…“I think they (Secret Service) wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to go there with a rifle,” Senecal told the newspaper. “I told them it was too far to drive…

The 84-year-old…told the newspaper that he stands by the comments he made in his Facebook posts.

*I swear that has to be code for some other function. Pharmaceutical grade toad purveyor, perhaps?

And then, there’s this guy, who is actually (attempting) to stake a claim on Washington:

“Unfortunately, for seven and a half years this animal we call President, because he’s an animal, OK — seven and a half years, has surgically and with thought and very smart, intelligent manner, destroyed this country…

Joseph_Mallord_William_Turner_-_The_Shipwreck_-_Google_Art_Project

It’s hard to pick where to start.  Should it be with the backwards-jacket level delusions concerning Obama-the-Destroyer (damn that doubling of the stock market; damn that cut in unemployment by half; how will we survive millions of our fellow Americans gaining access to health care; how wretched it is for our troops not to be on their fourth or fifth deployment and so on).

No: it is with the raw racism — enabled since 2009 (and really, since 1968) by the more “genteel” members of the Republican Party, who have made the fact of a black President such a horror to those who know in their bones that such a event cannot be permitted to happen in any well-behaved universe.

So yeah, while it’s easy to point and laugh at an aging crazy who perhaps sipped too much of whatever it was he brought The Donald, or to slap down Beruff’s vile manners, never forget the story behind the story:  these folks feel empowered to speak of the best president of a generation (or more) as if he were disqualified from the human race by those who trained ’em up.

There are lots of reasons the Republican Party must not merely be defeated this fall, but wrecked, utterly.

This is one.

Image:  J. W. M. Turner, The Shipwreck1805

This Is One For Every Patriots-Hater Out There

May 4, 2016

The invaluable Charles Pierce on Donald Trump’s distinct political superpower:

It was Jeb (!) Bush who learned the second-worst thing for a candidate to be if he’s running against He, Trump—which is a humorless, privileged fop. The worst thing to be is what the Tailgunner was—a self-important dweeb with delusions of sacred grandeur. In both cases, you are a big bag of hot air in search of a needle. That is He, Trump’s only consistent political skill. No wonder Tom Brady loves him. Nobody is more skilled at deflating people than He, Trump.

I’d add — it’s hard for me to read this as anything but Barack I’m-So-Going-To-Miss-This-President Obama’s parting gift to that self important dweeb with delusions of sacred grandeur:

The White House is considering the creation of a national monument to the gay rights movement on a small piece of Greenwich Village parkland across the street from the Stonewall Inn, where a 1969 uprising helped inspire the push for equality, advocates said on Tuesday.

I know, I know. Not a done deal yet; just kicking the tires; who thought to get this out there today…

But still, even if it is a coincidence (and I’m really not sure that it is), a fine story becomes that much sweeter juxtaposed with Torquemada Cruz (you can’t torque ’em ada anything) on the occasion of his exit, stage far right.

Pedro_Berruguete_Saint_Dominic_Presiding_over_an_Auto-da-fe_1495

So yeah, while as many have noted, Trump is a terrifying existential threat to the idea of the Republic, I still get at least some naches any day that Ted Cruz gets his comeuppance upside and down.

Open, the thread, it is.

Pedro Berruguete, Saint Dominic Presiding Over an Auto-da-fe, 1495

Point And Laugh

April 14, 2016

Yes, the Democratic primary has entered its manic and ugly phase.  Yes, I’d dearly love to see Bernie show some sign he truly cares about getting either Democrat into the White House before any other ambition.  And damn-straight I’m ready to just make it all stop.

But it could be worse.  We could have to face this from one of our own candidates:

“It’s a wonderful, wonderful holiday for our friends in the Jewish community – the Passover,” Kasich told reporters after emerging from the matzah bakery, a box of the fresh-baked stuff in hand.

Yes, Jews are known to love The Passover, almost as much they love The Pre-Election Drop-By from vote-seeking politicians.

…Kasich then launched into a brief appraisal of the links between Passover and, um, the blood of Jesus Christ.

“The great link between the blood that was put above the lampposts” – er, you mean doorposts, governor — “the blood of the lamb, because Jesus Christ is known as the lamb of God. It’s his blood, we believe …” [forwarded by a valued reader]

Putz doesn’t even begin to describe the schmendrick who would say such a thing.  Putz is too grand a word, to expansive.  Kasich is a schmeckel, a schtickl, a petseleh, someone of so little use as to be barely worth noticing.

'A_Fool's_Fool'_by_Thomas_Shields_Clarke

But oy gevalt is this dumb.  I got two words for Kasich’s advance team:  blood libel.  There’s no bottom to the evil that comes from associating Jewish rituals with the blood of Jesus — and no limit to the stupid it takes to wander into such a thicket.  Ignorance is a pathetic excuse — to the point of being disqualifying (at least for any Jewish voter I know) in a would-be president.

It gets better, which is to say not so much worse as more bathetic.  Before hitting the matzoh bakery, Kasich tried to hang with some yeshiva bochers at a bookstore who told him that they were studying Talmud, specifically, the laws of the Sabbath.  Kasich’s comeback?

“You know who I like?” Kasich finally said. “Joseph. You guys like Joseph?”

Yeah, John.  Just like we enjoy the top ten commandments.

It is to laugh.  And to mutter a little blessing:

Thank the FSM this guy is their problem, not ours.

Image:  Thomas Shields, A Fool’s Foolc. 1887.

Texas, Jake

March 30, 2016

ETA: Annnnnndddd….always read the fine print.  I was taken in by a fake news story at a parody site.  Mea culpa.

I’ll leave this up as (a) a warning to self not to be an idiot, and (b) as a reminder of how hard it is (at least for me), in this election year of our discontent, to tell the difference between what should be obvious parody, and what is.

I’ll start by saying that no state could withstand a characterization drawn only from its most batsh*t crazy denizens.  So I apologize in advance for painting the great, diverse and fascinating state of Texas with a broad brush.

I’ll also note that it does matter a bit that so many of the most batsh*t insane Texans seem to end up in state government.  What this says about the too many Texans who put them there I’ll leave as an exercise for the reader.

Today’s Texan OMG S/HE SAID WUT???!!!! comes from TX state rep. Debbie Riddle (R-Planet Ten), who’s got a problem with the idea of one particular subset of her fellow double-X Americans doing their ladybusiness in public:

Rep. Debbie Riddle requested that the bill be modified to contain some conditions that not all mothers are going to like. Namely, the modified bill states, among other things, that “only women who possess the breast size C-cup or smaller shall be allowed to breastfeed in public areas.” Asked to comment on the discriminatory clause in the bill, Riddle simply stated, “Nature knows what it’s doing.”

I have to say that I really hope that this is somehow a hoax, that Riddle really didn’t say what she’s reported to said.  Because here’s where she is described as going next:

She also added, “It’s for the greater good. We already have more than enough distractions when walking the streets, and we don’t need this one as well.”

Lucas_Cranach_d.Ä._-_Madonna_mit_Kind_(Budapest)

You know that old line, “when you hit bottom, stop digging?”  Riddle apparently does not:

“…everybody knows what happens when a woman with a D-cup size breasts starts breastfeeding her child in the park or on the street. Everybody immediately stops and starts staring.

Riddle also added that“studies have shown that women with bigger breasts are not commonly associated with modest behavior.”

Alright.  If the Texan legislator really did say all that (and more! — check out the link!) I got nuthin.  Or perhaps, as our legal beagle friends might say, res ipsa loquitur.

Ladles and Jellyspoons, have at it.  For me, I despair of the Republic.  Or at least that part of it that gave us the Honorable Riddle.

Image:  Lucas Cranach the Elder, The Virgin Giving Suck c. 1515


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