Monday, October 10, 2016

Debate & Switch... Ad Infinitum

Democracy is dead. Short live the oligarchy.

As our two favorite despised plutocrats met for Round Two of their Neoliberal Death Match Sunday, you didn't really expect the show to be about anyone else but themselves, did you?

 Oh, sure, Hillary for the millionth time delved into that time 30 years ago when she liked children well enough to actually have taken a short-lived job devoted only to them. She stressed over and over again that those who work hard with their "god-given potential" are not in her basket of deplorables. Nor are Muslim American citizens who patriotically spy on their fellow Muslim Americans in order to keep the domestic blowback arising directly from American military aggression against Muslims abroad in check.

  And between his own chronic sniffs and snuffles, Donald emitted scowling, sullen concern for "the African-Americans, the Latinos, the Hispanics" in a sort of amplified dog-whistle that he totally doesn't relate to anybody outside his own race and class. And that was about it for the empathy.

The debate results seemed to be a wash, despite many ominous predictions in the mass media that Trump would implode and die right on the stage, if not physically assault Hillary. He nearly had a Lloyd Bentsen moment, after Hillary delivered a creative history lesson equating backroom neoliberal sausage-making with Lincoln's prosecution of the Civil War. He cleverly observed that Clinton was certainly no honest Abe. (You might remember that famous debate moment when Bentsen told goofy Dan Quayle that he was no Jack Kennedy.) But the fact that Trump was still reeling from that damaging sexual assault fantasy tape kind of took the bite out of his riposte.

 I am very sad to report that Donald's worst lie of the night was when he shockingly accused Hillary of being for Single Payer health care. Neither she nor the moderators bothered to burst that balloon with a fact-check. They were probably too busy thinking about crotches and the sexual predations of rich and powerful and privileged men.

And when asked at the end of the debate to name one good thing about each other, Hillary allowed that despite the awful Trump gene pool in which they are immersed, his own kids have turned out almost miraculously well. They might be grifters like their Dad, but at least they don't go around snatching at people's crotches while they're raking in their millions and cheating investors. And Donald graciously admitted that Hillary was a fighter, which almost brought a hint of a smile to her pursed lips, if not a sparkle to her glazed eyes. She obviously can't wait to establish a no-fly zone in Syria and get that direct war with Russia started.

And it won't be a minute too soon. She blamed Russia for everything from the Wikileaked emails showing she has never given up her neoliberal agenda (unfettered free trade, Bowles-Simpson safety net cuts, privatization of the public sphere), to messing with the election and secretly backing Donald Trump.

But America is great, she said several times, because America is good. See Spot Run. Run, Spot, Run. See Spot Run, Jane. I see Spot run, Dick. Hear Donald Sniff. See Hillary Cringe.

Nobody won. In fact, everybody lost, except for the corporate sponsors. And the media. The Hill emailed me the first breathtaking headline of the night: "Clinton, Trump Don't Shake Hands!" Cooties, not Crotches!

 According to the Times, it was "bitter" right up until the bitter end. There were "remarkably tawdry accusations of groping and abuse," enthusiastically sniffed the Gray Lady. The Paper of Record has been acting as though it just discovered the secret porn stash in Daddy's closet, and doesn't know whether to be disgusted or turned on. It's obviously a bit of both.


Before I forget, here are my published comments on three of Sunday's Times op-eds.

Maureen Dowd managed to write a whole column about Trump going to the dogs without mentioning Hillary even one time. I think that must be a record for this election season.

My response:
The feckless fleet of GOP ships is leaving the sinking rat.

That should fool nobody. Forget about telling Trump to resign, they should all hand in their resignations.

The reactionaries clutching their pearls because Trump wants to grab female crotches are the same perverts who want to force vaginal ultrasound wands into women seeking abortions. The GOPers now demanding that the female folk be treated with respect punish women every chance they get. They refuse to pass a law requiring equal pay for equal work. They refuse to take the epidemic of rape in the military seriously. They sadistically deny expanded Medicaid health coverage to women in red states. They force poor women off the welfare rolls into low-pay, no-benefit jobs at the same time that they refuse to subsidize universal preschool and child care and affordable housing and food assistance and higher education.
Trump is only the latest, most glaring example of the institutional pathology which passes for GOP governing strategy.

It takes a loathsome, painful, unavoidable symptom to alert benumbed voters to the disease that lurks beneath. Is it too late to excise one single Trumpian metastasis and declare America cured?

Probably. There are plenty more predators lurking, and plenty more media outlets and and lobbyists and corporations and SuperPacs to give them all the air and sustenance they need.
There are unabashed hogzillas like Trump, and then there's the whole passel of pigs posing as prigs.

Frank Bruni whines about Hillary's Poisoned Prize.  Even when she wins, she'll lose, because Washington is broken and the country is hopelessly divided and gridlock caused Donald Trump and if gridlock won't go away, neither will Trump. (And you thought the debate was remarkably tawdry? I mean, sniff!)

My response:
This is a very misleading column, steeped in the usual inside-the-Beltway corporate centrism. Mr. Bruni cannot actually believe that the rise of Trump has been caused by congressional partisan gridlock, a simple failure of two bickering sides to make nice and compromise.

Trump has been paradoxically and deliberately enabled by the same media-political complex that is now feigning outrage in a feeble pretense at reining him in. Just as he has personally profited from the pathocratic system that has replaced our democracy, so too are the ruling class racketeers profiting mightily off one of their own. They are co-dependent parasites, and we everyday Americans are their food.

Bernie Sanders might have lost the battle, but the war is yet to come. He and Elizabeth Warren and soon-to-be elected down-ticket progressives (such as, I hope, Zephyr Teachout of New York) will be leading the charge. It's not the gridlock, which mysteriously disappears whenever there's a war to be fought or a bankster to be rewarded or a secretive spy agency to be funded. Because nothing unites the political and media servants of the plutocracy like the almighty dollar.

Bruni is right, though, that the ugliness won't go away with the Clinton restoration. Trump will be a constant cable TV guest, maybe even start his own media empire. He'll laugh all the the way to the banks he leverages, thanks to the laws and tax codes his lawyers have dictated to that terrible, horrible, dysfunctional Congress.

Times Public Relations Flack Public Editor Liz Spayd answers reader complaints that the paper didn't go after Donald Trump soon enough and hard enough. She split the difference, asserting that the coverage was a tad late -- but tough, very tough... and powerful. Give the Gray Lady a little credit, readers, because at least the old gal finally broke down and wrote "fuck" and "pussy" and the presses didn't explode. Spayd forgets to acknowledge that David Cay Johnston did much of the legwork years ago. The Times really hates to be seen playing catch-up.

My comment:
Trump has been such an integral part of New York's tabloid gossip /entertainment/high society scene for so many decades that, as Ms. Spayd acknowledges, The Times simply gave him a pass when he first started what initially was a pseudo-campaign. This entertainer certainly saved the pundits from doing much investigatory work. Writers, most notoriously Maureen Dowd, spent valuable column space just letting him go on and on and on for months and months and months. We were immediately clued in that Donnie was, if not a friend of Maureen, at least a highly accessible source. At least one of the interviews took place in an intimate dinner setting at Trump Tower. Very insider-y, especially the part where she gushed about all the little people peering in at them with awe and wonder.
Now she's finally taking him to task, once he cinched the nomination. Too, too late.

David Cay Johnston is the reporter who truly wrote the book on this character. Trump never could have gotten where he is today without the complicity of the media-political complex. New Jersey state officials, for example, gave him the green light to turn Atlantic City into another Boardwalk Empire. Trump became his own bank: too big to fail and too big to jail.

And thanks to the serial Trumpian outrageousness taking almost permanent possession of the top of the digital home page, there simply wasn't enough space to cover Bernie Sanders in any but the most condescending of terms. What a shame. Couldn't be helped.


Meredith NYC said...

How you manage to pull all this together right after the debate is impressive.
David Cay Johnston has been great, exposing detailed Trumpf history. He gave a particularly good talk on cspan to a big audience at Politics and Prose Bookstore in DC. See video.
But what surprised me --- he said he is a registered Republican. Someone asked him why, and he gave a very indirect answer---can't recall what he said exactly. Left me puzzled.

So I wonder what his real belief system is, that he would register with the party that pushes unregulated capitalism, and rw tax and regulation policies that has enabled Trump types to cheat and get rich off other people.

Jay–Ottawa said...

To the relief of the Duopoly and their press agents, this campaign is not about ideas, about programs, about taxes, about wars. It's about the mutual character assassination of two celebrities––Clinton the Imposter vs Trump the Lecher. By contrast, Bernie Sanders, at least for a while, got into the subject of the economy, if nothing else.

It should be clear by now that, whether by deep-state design or simple happenstance, issues of personal conduct have eliminated the need for either party to debate policy. It's the wikileaked emails and the open mics, stupid. Neither candidate is noble, and their policies differ only to the extent that worser is different from worsest. Who knew?

What we need is a candidate who, like Bernie, will attract crowds by raising real issues, but who, unlike Bernie, will be all in until the end. Ah, Bernie, Bernie, passion that fades like a paper blaze can only turn love to scorn.

Give Jill Stein 5% on November 8, and next time we just might have a fighter who won't stop hammering the bastards, on real issues, until the final bell.

Jamie said...

I don't think it was a wash. Trump kicked Hillary's war-mongering ass all the way to Tuesday. I did score the first debate for Hill.

Cirze said...

Meredith, I've followed him closely for years and believe he has absolutely no respect for the DNC (which took over after the cleansing post-Watergate election). And he respects a few Republicans although I am at a loss to remember exactly whom right now.

Karen, you are the most perceptive, incisive and quotable blogger ever. Thanks for always getting out there ahead of the pack (and for running your responses on MSM sites).

I'd like to see your take on the coincidences that transpire around the releases of Wikileaks and other data on Hillygate and the available video on years-old Trumpgate data. Some others have put this together pretty finely (as well as adding lots of other interesting historical political coincidences), but your prose would be invaluable. I see it as a national service.

Go Jill!

voice-in-wilderness said...

In the 2nd debate I was wishing Hillary would turn to the lurking/looming Trump and just say, "Donald, sit!" -- while pointing to his chair.

annenigma said...

Sometimes there are 'Hard Choices' to be made at election time, and mine comes down to this: Don't Feed The Beast.

I'm convinced that Trump, despite his crudeness, bombast, etc. is actually the lesser of two evils. I've come to that conclusion after reading the latest Wikileaks emails. No wonder Clinton, Inc. is so desperate to portray those emails as being faked, and by Putin no less. Those emails aren't phony but Hillary definitely is. From subverting FOIA laws by using a private email server to hiding evidence of backroom deals, to destroying subpoenaed evidence, to subverting campaign laws and tilting the primary election tables in her favor, she's got corruption down to a science but condemns Trump for exploiting legal tax loopholes. What a hypocrite.

We're finally seeing her true colors thanks to Wikileaks. Hillary's global imperial ambitions are the same as Obama's, which are the same as Bush's.

Neera Tandan, one of Hillary's generals, had a comment in the emails that points to who's important when she responded to a question about if they should come out in support of the $15/hour wage. She responded that since they weren't getting any pressure from their political allies, they wouldn't support it. So if ALL the Bernie supporters and Dems in general aren't instrumental in determining policy, who is? The Great White globalists (men) of course, the owners who sit in the skybox, investing money in their star player and writing their own rules so they always win on the national and global stage.

Trump actually did better than expected during the debate given the circumstances. Instead of being on the ropes, it was Hillary who was. She dodged, weaved, and did word-dances around several questions. She didn't land any punches but Trump did, particularly when she set him up by stating how it's a good thing he isn't in charge of the judiciary. He hit it out of the park when he finishing her sentence by saying "because you'd be in jail" for deleting subpoenaed emails.

Another jig she did was around a question about Bill's comment about the ACA being a big mess, and another about her being two-faced with a public and private position and claiming she was modeling that on Honest Abe. Trump also asked why Hillary didn't use any of her own wealth to run for office instead of allowing herself to become beholden to fat cat donors. At least Obama had a legitimate excuse for temporarily selling himself into slavery to the GWM in exchange for lifetime wealth and fame. We know Obama made his own private deals just as Hillary has. He's still fighting for the TPP on their behalf. Hillary will do the same, you can take that to the bank.

The Great White globalists who control everything have already paid for their ride on the Beast with Hillary at the reins, but they don't even have a ticket to ride with Trump. That's great. I'm willing to let them sit stalled for the next 4 years while Trump tries to get his fat ass in gear. They'll try to give him instructions and lessons which he will not take or learn from and Congress will be in gridlock. Is that necessarily a bad thing? Hillary will get things done because she knows how to wield power, make dirty deals, and keep secrets. That's what scares me.

I don't believe for a moment that we will be worse off in the next 4 years if Trump gets elected.

Remember, the Beast eats it's young.

Karen Garcia said...

Thanks, all.

The Wikileaks Podesta emails are a hoot. Very much of a piece with the SONY leaks, which also exposed the neediness and careerism of the ruling class racketeers operating in the Hollywood/D.C./Wall Street nexus, and the lesser gods in the media and campaign operations hive. Hillary is exposed as not much more than a marketing creation-by-committee, a persona whose bellicose and socially conservative worldview must be constantly hidden and reined in. She has a deep aversion to gay rights,to a living wage and to world peace. We knew all of this, but now we REALLY know.

So now they're desperately portraying Trump as a serial rapist rather than as just one more needy blowhard with a castration phobia who puts down women in front of other men to make himself feel good. He and Bill Clinton really are two raptors of a feather, but Bill is smart enough to keep his pathology to himself these days. Give me a graphic tape of Donnie and Bill partying with convicted predator Jeff Epstein on the Lolita Express, and my day will be utterly complete.

annenigma said...

Can you imagine how easy it will be for Hillary to engage us in any wars her little heart desires, given that she has the entire corporate media promoting, enabling, and protecting her already?

It's a feeling that's all too familiar, like how the media legitimized and promulgated the WMD lie for the Iraq war. Now they're making Putin out to be a menace, a threat to our very democracy, and Trump his stooge. Joe McCarthy is alive and well and cloning himself daily.

Hillary Clinton is a WMD. She's destroying our country and democracy to get power.

By the way, from my experience, Trump talks like half of adult men in our country act, not to mention most of Italy. And is anyone addressing the objectification and sexualization of women to sell products and capture men's attention? There's a lot more to talk about than one businessman's braggadocio. Why hasn't Hillary been on the forefront of that in the past 30 years?

If every politician condemning Trump was publicly confronted by ALL the women they've made crude passes at and sexually harassed over they years, we'd have a whole new Congress in short order.

Kate said...

Karen - I'm with you on the emails, and so much else. In this sickening season of our collective demise, at least I can get some enjoyment from the emails - a written record of these despicable people. I really wish people just wouldn't vote this year. That the turnout would be so low, that there was no legitimate claim to the presidency. Or, that the votes for Stein and/or Johnson were earthshaking. Just something to shake it all up. But then again, the rulers always take away the wrong "lessons" from their shellacking in elections. Stop the world, I want to get off.

stranger in a strange land said...

@annenigma - re: no worse under The Donald.

I'm tickled by the notion of Trump, propped up as a dummy candidate for Hillary to easily defeat, accidentally winning the election somehow.

voice-in-wilderness said...

Speaking of Liz Spayd, has anyone commented about the downgrade of the Public Editor link on the Opinions page, how it now requires extensive scrolling to the bottom of the page and is in a small font?

Jay–Ottawa said...

@ the Sisterhood

I am not now, nor have I ever been, living a sheltered life. And I've been in lots of men's locker rooms. What I am about to say is anecdotal, of course, but I must say, in defense of the Brotherhood, I've never heard men in locker rooms talk about women as it's now being depicted half the male population do. Locker rooms are not free-fire zones where anything goes.

And if some jerk, like a Trump, were to carry on loudly about his vile exploits against women, he would most likely be told to STFU. Sure, some men are crude, but most guys respect their sisters, mothers, wives, co-workers and even, as a general principle, women they still haven't met. Trump gets attention because he is a very strange outlier with a megaphone.

In the entertainment business––to which we are subjected for hours every day––crime and depravity sell better than decency. Movies, magazines, TVs and blowhards are paid to shock and entertain with their fantasies and phantasmagoria. Those media forms usually distort reality about men––and women.

On the life and death issue before us, I agree with Annenigma. If I were backed into a corner and forced to vote for one or the other, Trump or Clinton, I would pull the lever for Trump. For the same reason she mentioned: Clinton is more likely to drag this country into confrontation and war. The next big war stands a good chance of sending us fast forward into the Sixth Extinction.

TomDispatch (see blog roll) just posted an interesting assessment of the forces, mainly Russian and Chinese, building up fast against the neocon insistence that the USA rule the world.

Trump is riding a meteor soon to flame out in the sky; Hillary, on the other hand, really is from Mars.

Jill: the way to say 'No' to both evils.

Pearl said...

Thank you Jay for a caring comment about what a real man is truly like in their attitudes to women.

I only wish you would give Bernie some slack and recognize that he is a mentch in that regard. Russ Feingold is within winning Wisconsin with Bernie's help and as Trump has said no one is perfect or something to that effect.

I have not voted for anyone for President.

Valerie said...

I think it is really important that our response to Trump (scary idiot) and Hillary (corrupt sociopath) isn't to not go to the polls or not vote for a presidential candidate. We must cast a vote for a third party candidate. At this point in time, it is our only hope. Yet all around me, my Leftist friends are drinking the cool aide and saying they will hold their nose and vote for Hill or Trump. We must stand strong and get Stein as many votes as possible. We have to force the Democratic Party to acknowledge that they have to do more than offer us the Lesser Evilism meme.