a brief historical note

First things first: while I am not expecting people to come to their senses in any meaningful way, I would also not be surprised if we had a new president by the end of the day. The 25th Amendment must be invoked, and I actually do believe that it is possible that it may be.

A whole lot of people need to suffer genuine and severe consequences for yesterday. A whole fucking lot of people. There is no room for reconciliation and no room for forgiveness here, because they already got off scot-free with pulling this shit in Michigan, and if a whole bunch of people don’t pay the price for what they did, either by losing their elected offices, being forced to resign, being fired from their jobs, jail, whatever– they will do it again. And it will be worse next time. Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch failed, remember.

But that’s not what I want to talk about right now.

Cast your minds, if you’re old enough, back to January of 2001. George W. Bush had just taken office, having either actually defeated or come close enough to defeating Al Gore that it didn’t matter. And right away there were all sorts of reports that the Clinton people had done all sorts of damage on their way out the door– there were all sorts of reports of vandalism, of phone cords being ripped out of walls, of W keys being removed from keyboards, of graffiti and things being carved into desks and tables, all sorts of stuff. The news was all over the level of “frat house disarray” that the Clinton people left behind. If you’d listened to any Republicans or to the news in general, you’d have thought they completely destroyed the place.

And that got reported all over the place, and eventually the GAO did a yearlong investigation, and it turned out that while there was some damage– something around 12-15 grand, I think, across everything, which is real money to us normal people but in Washington terms is peanuts– it wasn’t remotely as bad as it had been initially described. Now, I’m not justifying any vandalism or damage here (okay, removing a couple of W keys is kind of funny, but nothing more serious than that,) only pointing out that what was a problem got blown up and magnified into something much worse than it was, and there was never, of course, any attempt to really correct the error. If you talk to most people old enough to remember this they’ll likely tell you that the Clinton people completely wrecked the White House on the way out, even though that basically wasn’t true.

Something makes me think that what happens when this administration leaves office– and they are going to, have no doubt about that– the damage will be both much worse, and much less reported on.

A quick history lesson for Bernie Sanders supporters

bernie_2.jpgOnce upon a time, there was a guy named Barack Obama.  You may have heard of him.  No one outside the great state of Illinois had any idea who Barack Obama was until 2004, when he delivered the (brilliant) keynote address at the Democratic National Convention.  I lived in his district in Illinois at the time, and I spent a couple of hours on the phone after that speech telling everyone I knew that Obama would be the first black President so that I would get credit.

“You wait,” I said.  “2012 or 2016.  He’ll be President.”

You may see my mistake already.  In 2007, when Obama first declared that he was running for President, I was, with no trace of hyperbole, one of his biggest fans.  How do I know?  Because, again, virtually no one outside of Illinois knew who he was, and as someone in his district as a state Senator and Illinois Senator, someone who knew where his house was, I’d been following his career for a while.

And I wasn’t sure he was ready to be President.  Somebody else was running.  You may also be familiar with her: her name was Hillary Clinton, and her nomination was widely believed to be unstoppable.  (There was also John Edwards, but for the purposes of this conversation he’s irrelevant.)

I started off as a Clinton supporter, who felt that Obama would be a good President, would certainly grow into the job, but didn’t think he was ready.  It was the campaigns that convinced me otherwise.  Clinton displayed a startling talent to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and Obama’s team out-hustled and out-thought hers at every available opportunity.  Obama won Iowa, and got crushed in New Hampshire.  For the most part, especially early on, most of his victories were at caucuses.  Why was he winning the caucuses?  Because he out-organized Clinton, and eventually he was winning enough that that inevitability argument got punctured, and it was only a matter of time after that.

You may have heard something about superdelegates, and you may think it’s unfair that Secretary Clinton is so far ahead in delegates right now.  You may have even used the word “corrupt” to describe the system.

How many superdelegates do you think Barack Obama started off with?

How many do you think he had by the end of the primaries?

You are aware that these people are able to change their minds, right?  From what I’m hearing, Bernie Sanders supporters tend to be young people, a phrase I can no longer apply to myself.  It is possible you are not aware of these things.  Superdelegates have been a part of the process for a long time, and convincing them to vote for you is part of running for the Democratic nomination.  If Bernie Sanders was not aware of them already, and if he does not have a plan to (eventually) win their support, he is doing this wrong.   It is not as if these rules were decided behind his back, or were hidden from him somehow.  And, again, if he wins contests, they’ll come around.

“But the people are behind us!” you say.  Well, some of them.  Some of the white ones, anyway.  The rest of us haven’t had a chance to vote yet.

Speaking of voters of color.

You may be under the impression that Barack Obama was able to coast to these victories mostly on the strength of the black vote.  You may not be aware that the initial knock against Obama was that he was not black enough to court black support.

Go read that article.

I’ll wait.

Not only was Obama mixed, not only was he young, not only was he relatively unknown, not only was his middle name Hussein when we’d been fighting against Iraq for most of the previous administration, but he was running against Hillary Clinton, the wife of a man who was declared by no less a black luminary than Toni Morrison herself to be the first black President.  There is a good argument to be made that the Clintons do not deserve that support, but the fact is especially in 2007-08 black voters loved Bill Clinton and Hillary was widely believed to have inherited that support.  Obama was not supposed to be the candidate of black voters.  Clinton was.

Your candidate, Bernie supporters, is also perceived as having a problem with minority voters.  I’m using the word “perceived” intentionally, because insofar as the problem is real, it’s fixable.  But he’s going to have to acknowledge it, and he’s going to have to do it now.  Black voters– and Latino voters and Muslim voters and Asian voters and and and and and– are not monolithic and they’re not dumb.  They’re not going to vote for Hillary Clinton because they liked Bill.  Obama proved that.  Sanders can too, but he’s going to have to try.

Whining about a corrupt system and superdelegates is not going to get your man the nomination.  Whining about women voters going to Hillary is not going to get your man the nomination.

Whining, in general, is not going to get Bernie Sanders nominated for President.

Hillary Clinton is a lot of things.  Unfortunately for her, one of her previously displayed qualities is the ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  She is not inevitable.  She is beatable.  But the Sanders people are going to have to put in the work, and they’re going to have to engage with voters of color and with women voters in a serious way, and they’re going to have to convince the superdelegates– who are, in case you don’t know, mostly Democratic elected officials— that he’s the right man for the job.  Convincing the superdelegates might be difficult, seeing as how Sanders has only been a Democrat for, what, a year or two?  One of Clinton’s strengths is that she’s perceived as much more able to have coattails– to bring in other Democratic elected officials behind her, to alter the balance of power in the House and the Senate so that some of these nice things both candidates want to do become possible.

Is Bernie going to be able to do that?  Is he trying?

He probably ought to start.

See y’all in South Carolina.

On pointlessness and living in Indiana

Still better hair than Trump.

There is little doubt by now: this is going to be the most awful presidential election of my lifetime, pretty much by any definition of the word “awful” you would care to choose.  I live in Indiana, so I generally don’t get a choice on who either party nominates.  The only time in my adult life that it mattered was 2008, when I voted for Obama, who narrowly lost.  That election didn’t really involve having to carefully choose my candidate, as I’d lived in Obama’s district in Illinois.  I believe I’ve voted for him every time he’s stood for public office, actually, and Hillary’s people were doing their best to make their candidate as unpalatable as humanly possible.

I would have been an Edwards guy in 2004 had it mattered; Kerry had the primary wrapped up by the time Illinois’ primary rolled around, and I think we all dodged a bullet with that guy anyway.  And I swear to God I can’t come up with a single competitor Gore had for the nomination in 2000, so I suspect I didn’t vote for whoever that was.

There is a post about how fucking stupid our current primary system is and how desperately tired I am of two tiny rural white states getting to decide who each party’s nominee is every single election cycle, but I’m too tired and aggravated to write it right now and pretty much everyone who lives outside of Iowa and New Hampshire can probably write it for me anyway.

Assuming there’s still multiple candidates by the time May (fucking MAY!) rolls around, I don’t know who I’m voting for.  There’s plenty of time for one of them to genuinely piss me off by the time the primary rolls around, and Hillary’s starting to show signs of listening to the same type of idiot, if not the same literal idiot, who cost her the nomination in 2008.  I like Bernie’s positions on issues more than I like Clinton’s, but that’s not always the most important thing and I don’t know what he’s going to be like once/if the Republicans start pointing their guns at him instead of Hillary.  He’s shown some troublesome difficulties with thinking on his feet in the past, he’s too damn old, and– while this probably shouldn’t make a difference– he’s attracting all the PUMA nitwittery this time around, which doesn’t really reflect on him as a candidate but is still  one of the things keeping me from anything resembling full-throated support anyway.  I also feel like Hillary will be more effective as a president than Bernie will in a lot of ways.  Then again, she’s also much more likely to start her administration by picking up a small country and throwing it at a wall just to prove she will, and I’m more than a little tired of that bullshit too.

I like to eat my friends/ I make no bones about it
I like to eat my friends/ I couldn’t live without it!

If Hillary is the nominee she’s going to beat Trump or Cruz like a rented mule.  I’m fully aware of all the polls showing Bernie ahead of both of them by wider margins than Hillary is now, but it’s way too early to take them seriously.  Sanders needs to do a hell of a lot of minority outreach before I’ll be comfortable believing he’ll win, for starters– but the same thing was true with Obama and look what happened there.

(People forget: the early line of attack against Obama was that he wasn’t black enough, and that the Clintons’ historic popularity with black Democrats would ensure Hillary the nomination– “Obama’s people” were all supposed to be young white liberals.  Of course, as soon as Obama started winning contests, the narrative changed and suddenly the black people who he wasn’t black enough for a few weeks beforehand were only voting for him because he was black.  Just because Bernie is weak with minority Democrats now doesn’t mean that he’ll stay that way.)

I am less concerned with the “Boo! Socialist!” attack than I probably should be, mostly because the Republicans will be running an out-and-out fucking lunatic no matter what happens, and I think “Boo!  Socialist!” will not be as effective when their candidate is crazy enough to make a GWB 3rd term look palatable by comparison.  Rule 1 of the GOP for the last couple of decades is Things Always Get Worse, Yes, Even Compared to That; their frontrunner is an open fascist, so I don’t know how that can really happen, but it will.  I have to believe that sooner or later this bullshit will bite them in the ass, but it hasn’t happened yet.  Bernie’s positions are a lot easier to lie about, though.

No one can explain why that iPad has a Wu-Tang Clan logo on it, and I WANT TO KNOW.

So, yeah. I’m not sure that this piece really has an overall point to it other than this is what’s on my mind at the moment and I’m kind of tired of talking about, y’know, my life.  I’m pretty certain that one way or another this will be the lowest-turnout presidential election in American history, and it will probably deserve to be.  We’ll see if I’m wrong.  I’d love to be.

I will probably not be super interested in arguing in comments, by the way.  Particularly if you’re in the mood to set me straight on Sanders.  Feel free to keep that to yourself.