Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Empty Podium

"Sooner or later the whole damn world's going to know, anyway. The NatLamp's washed up. That's right. We're finished. Fresh out of ideas. Empty. Barren. Bumed out. And there's nothing left. Zip. Zilch. Zero. The square root of sweet fuck all." - National Lampoon, 1974
(By American Zen’s Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
The Republican Party's in deep shit.
     That should come as no surprise to anyone who's followed the slime trail of the assclowns who'd given us Watergate, one deficit after another culminating with the Wall Street crash of '08, a major multi-pronged terror attack, the revocation of our civil liberties, multi trillion dollar wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and a massive raft of other scandals that would've sunk much smaller nations.
     The problem is that the Republican Party can't even steal elections, any more, one of the very few things at which the GOP's excelled since 2000. And last Tuesday's pre-midterm elections in several states proved that. Virginia and New Jersey have new Democratic Governors-elect. The state Congresses in New Jersey and Washington State are now firmly in the hands of Democrats. And, most promisingly, perhaps 17 delegate seats changed hands from red to blue in Virginia. One of them was Danica Roem, the first transgender candidate to win statewide office by beating a 26 year Republican incumbent. (Roem, by the way, was just one of three transgender candidates to win seats last Tuesday).
     Even the reliably right wing Wall Street Journal had to face the music and then dance to it when their own analysis was entitled, "The Anti-Trump Wave." And that's a key phrase to remember because there were so many Democrats winning so many seats in so many states, it can't be considered a fluke. This is the first wave in a sea change that's making Republicans protectively grip the armrests of their once-secure seats. It remains to be seen if Democrats can continue riding the wave or falling off and getting lost in the foam as establishment Democrats are wont to do.
     Earlier this year, things weren't looking so rosy. Democrats went a disparaging 0-4 in special elections, most notably in Montana when a right wing psychopath who'd body-slammed a reporter the day before election day still won (thanks largely to Montana's generous early voting laws). And, the most crushing defeat was the loss of Jon Ossoff in Georgia's 6th district to Karen Handel (thanks largely to some disappeared data in Georgia and stolen voting machines, but that's grist for another mill). Trump still had that new president smell and the districts up for grabs were reliably red ones.
     But then there was a rumble. Accused child molester Roy Moore, the disgraced party hack who pulled a gun at a campaign rally and was fired not once but twice from his position as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, beat Luther Strange in the GOP runoff. The problem with that is that Strange was Trump's boy and got thumped by a guy who had no business holding elected office. No problem, Trump said, I"ll support Moore but it was Strange's fault that he lost.
     And then Tuesday came.

Virginia is For Lovers of Democracy
It's the end of the noxious adversarial Christie era in New Jersey. His political career now resembling the smoldering remains of the Hindenburg, Christie hasn't enough political capital to shut down a taco truck let alone the George Washington Bridge. His legacy was so toxic, his Lt. Governor, Kim Guadagno, was crushed by Phil Murphy, a multimillionaire Goldman Sachs executive just because of her proximity to Christie in Trenton.
     By far, the most interesting results were in Virginia, once a Republican stronghold and now rapidly turning into a blue state that doesn't even qualify for its own battleground status. Another Lt. Governor, Ralph Northam, had a considerably better night than his counterpart in NJ. He beat former RNC chair and lobbyist Ed Gillespie by 9 points. The problem with that is that Gillespie was also Trump's boy. But, hey, no problem. Trump said on Twitter, “Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don’t forget, Republicans won 4 out of 4 House seats, and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!”
     In other words, "I blame Gillespie like I blamed Strange." Trump crowing about winning four out of four House seats in the aforementioned runoff elections happened months ago, which is a century in political terms. The Big Brother-style boilerplate from Trump in that tweet smells of flop sweat and even a fucking moron like him is barely smart enough to read the tea leaves when they're slowly spread out for him by others who actually know how to read them. "Continue to win, even bigger than before"? It's likelier that Thomas Jefferson will make a political comeback.
     Since then, those who'd voted for Trump have had time to take stock of what's happened in the first nine and a half months of this administration- We're perilously close to war with North Korea, confidence abroad in American leadership has plummeted from 64% to 22%, Trump's own approval numbers are in the 20's no matter who you ask, not one major piece of legislation had been passed, no health care replacement, no budget, key spots in the State Dept and elsewhere remain unfilled on purpose and Trump and his family have long since bankrupted the Secret Service because of his endless vacations and offspring's business deals.
     Oh yeah, and that Russia thingie that so far had produced two criminal indictments and a criminal guilty plea.
     Gillespie lost not because he didn't embrace Trump and his policies but because he did. With Charlottesville still a fresh, raw, bleeding memory, Gillespie thought he could appeal to the red meat base that'd voted for Trump last year without invoking his name. The former RNC chair led a virulently racist campaign that, while never once mentioning Trump, carried on his shoulder the largest planks of Trump's platform- Race and immigration. And the voters of Virginia recoiled, especially in the urban, white collar, college-educated sections of northern Virginia.

But Before You Break Out the Boone's Farm Wine...
Please consider this:
     While the delegate races won by Democrats involved some fresh faces such as Danica Roem and Chris Hurst, whose girlfriend, TV journalist Alison Parker, was shot to death on the air along with her cameraman two years ago, beat Republican incumbent Joe Yost. Roem defeated a 26 year incumbent who refused to even debate her and refer to her as "she." These are but two of the young delegates occupying Virginia's state government to whom Bernie Sanders had appealed last year to get involved in politics.
     And, yes, Maine became the first state to expand Medicaid expansion and Manchester, NH elected a Democratic mayor.
     But, aside from the obvious nod to Bernie Sanders in those bright-eyed, bushy-tailed young delegates winning seats, Ralph Northam still voted for George W. Bush twice and is considered, at best, a moderate. In other words, he's a centrist in the mold of Hillary and Obama. His victory over a perennial loser such as Gillespie was hardly surprising considering this is the same state that recently saw the loss of Eric Cantor's primary loss against a political Tea Bagger amateur named Dave Brat (essentially, the Buster Douglas of politics). 
     The NYT, predictably, calls this "pragmatism wins over purity," as if calling for a $15 an hour minimum wage is as untenable and radioactive as Uranium 235. Those same people who'd answered Sanders' call to arms also saw one of their own go down earlier this year at the hands of Northam, another dull, dreary candidate who's about as exciting as an unconscious Tim Kaine.
     And then there's the case of Phil Murphy, a guy with a resume that ordinarily would be toxic to any blue state voter base: A multimillionaire alumnus of Goldman Sachs, the very same Wall Street criminal enterprise that more than any other inspired the Occupy movement, handily beat a candidate who was dead in the water.
     And when you read those liberal tea leaves, it doesn't add up to much good news for true progressives who'd repudiated Clinton's rancid neoliberal, Republican-lite policies. Save for a handful of bright eager young faces in Virginia, many of the people who won spots in several states last Tuesday were just party hacks from the Democratic mainstream that still had not learned its lessons from Election night one year ago yesterday.
     So, it's basically, What do you want first? The bad news or the not so bad news? I just gave you the bad news: Tammany Hall 2.0 and its diehard voters have not gotten a bit smarter since election day last year. And the not so bad news is that a bunch of right wing hacks lost their seats and that that should absolutely be seen as a bellwether for the GOP in the midterms a year from now.
      Fortunately, Republicans are as cowardly and furtive as ever. Bob Marshall refused to debate Danica Roem. Roy Moore refuses to debate his opponent Doug Jones. So, with Trump expanding his clown show to Asia and tweeting from 35,000 feet in, even for him, an unusually delusional manner, means the empty podium is more than just a metaphor.


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