The Three Party System

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Last night on the PBS Newshour, smarmy jackass Matt Schlapp explained why the Alabama election went the way it did. The good folks in Alabama are really pissed off at Mitch McConnell, he allowed. And why, pray tell, are they so angry? They are angry because they are deeply disappointed that the Republican Establishment has not yet taken their health care away. And they are absolutely furious that Steve Mnuchin pays too much in taxes. They yearn for that deeply satisfying trickle down feeling that is sure to come when Steve rakes in yet more millions and, in consequence, they, the real Mericans, find a few extra kopeks trickling down into their wallets.

That trickle down feeling will be as welcome as a long hot shower after a hard day a-pickin’ cotton—a long, hot shower followed by a vigorous tryst with your inamorata, and a big shot of moonshine to cap off the day.

No, Mr. Schlapp, the Very Angry White People in Alabama are not Very Angry because Mitch McConnell couldn’t enact the legislative agenda of the National Chamber of Commerce and the Koch Brothers.

They are angry because of economic, cultural, and racial resentment. They are angry because the minions of the National Chamber of Commerce have been playing them like an accordion since the 1960s—and they are finally figuring out that they have been conned.

Steve Bannon has told them that they are the victims of McConnell’s economic hate crimes. See Fox News, Bannon rails against GOP ‘elites’ working against Trump in ‘Hannity’ interview.

As Erick Erickson—not a typical source of Aardvarkian wisdom—puts it so well, It’s time for Mitch McConnell to go.

Steve Kornacki provides valuable historical context in The Next Republican Uprising Is Underway. And, rising to the analytical heights to which he sometimes attains, Josh Marshall tells us what is really, really going on:

 Last spring I said the Trump phenomenon was a product of what I termed ‘nonsense debt‘. Republicans had spent years pumping their voters up on increasingly extreme and nonsensical claims and promises. This worked very well for winning elections. But it had also built up a debt that eventually had to be repaid. Concretely, they were making claims and promises that were either factually ridiculous, politically unviable or unacceptable to a broad swath of the voting public. Eventually, you get elected and need to produce. By definition that’s never really possible: both because the claims and promises are nonsensical and unviable but also because a politics based on reclamation, revenge, and impulse is almost impossible to satisfy through normal legislative politics. …

The essential dynamic of early 21st century conservatism [is] an infinite loop of inflammatory and engaging promises, claims and demands which are mostly entirely unrealizable, creating a permanent cycle of establishmentism and grassroots’ betrayal which continues spinning forward even as the players in each category change.

Some idiots  describe these events as a contest for the soul of the Republican Party. This is not right. It is not right because the Republican Party has no soul. The “Republican Party” is a brand and an institution. And what is going on is, among other things, a struggle for control of the brand and of the institution.

It is a fight to the death, and we know which side is going to win. It’s kind of like a fight between a cobra and a mongoose.

The Very Angry White People will win control of the Republican brand and the institution of the Republican Party, first of all, because they comprise the vast majority of people who vote Republican.

Jennifer Rubin, writing with typical restraint in Americans as a whole haven’t lost their minds, but the GOP has, lays it out for us:

There is only abysmal news for President Trump and Republicans in the latest Quinnipiac poll. Voters say Trump is not “fit to serve as president,” by a  56 to 42 percent margin. Voters disapprove (57 to 36 percent) of his performance (so 6 percent think he is fit, just not doing a good job). …

Americans are neither brain-dead nor moral vagrants. In voting for [Trump] many probably hated Hillary Clinton more, engaged in wishful thinking about Trump and/or figured incorrectly a rich guy and his friends must know how to do things. But they do not like him now, and that speaks very well of the American people.

The bad news is Republicans overwhelmingly like him, his policies, his distractions, his character, his racial appeals, etc. Among Republicans 79 percent approve of his performance, 79 percent think he is honest (!), 85 percent think he cares about ordinary Americans, 62 percent think he is level-headed (!!) and perhaps worst of all, 78 percent think he shares their values.

So, to boil it all down, about four fifths of Republican voters are Very Angry White People and one fifth embrace the aspirations of the National Chamber of Commerce.

The second reason why the Very Angry White People will inherit the husk of the Republican Party is that you can no longer buy elections in this country, if you ever could. Social media. Small contributions raised over the internet.

God knows the Republican Establishment tried to buy the election in Alabama by hurling vast sums of money, money in such abundance as to exceed the dreams of avarice. Didn’t work. Not going to work elsewhere.

The third reason is that the plutocrats and giant corporations that have been funding the Republican Party are going to realize that the jig is up and the long con is over.

Aardvark is not a plutocrats, but Aardvark knows plutocrats. Aardvark has walked among them. And here is what I know.

Some plutocrats are foolish, and some are ideologically fixated. But, for the most part they did not get to be plutocrats by throwing good money after bad. By digging deeper when they found themselves in a hole. By embracing bad ideas to the bitter end.

No, gentle reader, plutocrats are folks who, generally, know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run.

Last, and most surely least, some of the plutocrats will walk away from the rotting shell of the Republican Party because they cannot stand the moral stench. But I wouldn’t count on that being a major factor. Most of them would be happy to embrace the racists and the know-nothings as long as the strategy keeps working. But most of them are smart enough to know when the game is over.

So what is going to happen? The Chamber of Commerce folks, finding themselves expelled from the Republican Party, are going to have to form a new party. It will have a really nice name. Rest assured, they will focus group that sucker to death. And it will be loudly trumpeted as “centrist.”

And the Chamber of Commerce folks will try to buy some politicians who currently have a D after their names. And some of the Ds will take the bait.

And that’s where we will be: an Angry White People’s Party labeled the Republican Party, a new “centrist” business party, and a Progressive Party still calling itself the Democratic Party.

Each will be a minority party. Each will have to find a coalition partner, if it wishes to advance its agenda.

 

Trump’s Katrina

Our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico are dying, and those in the Virgin Islands are hurting too.

Time to dig into your piggy banks. The Aardvarks did.

Although we do not share Roman Catholic theology, we do approve of how they get things done, when there are lives to be saved.

So we gave to Catholic Charities USA.

McConnell Pulls the Plug on Trumpcare

I believe we watched this movie before. And on a similar occasion.

Doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it again.

What a night! A  wooden stake through Trumpcare. A royal ass whuppin’ for the lickspittles of the one percenters.

Confusion to our enemies.

Clearly, the time has come for some of that product that Grandpa Aardvark used to make out in the woods.

À votre santé, y’all.

Strange, 44; Stranger, 56: the One Percenters’ Long Con Begins to Unravel

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Many things could be said about the victory this evening of Judge Ten Commandments. Many things will be said. Here’s what I say.

Aardvark celebrates Moore’s victory—but not because it provides a fairly definitive answer to Steve Bannon’s question about the percentage of morons among the white Alabama electorate. For that answer, Aardvark grieves.

Nor do I celebrate Moore’s victory because it answers, at least for white voters in Alabama, the long-mooted debate about which is more salient: Trump’s magical, mystical Pied Piper personality, or the fact that Trump was the most prominent national figure to embrace and validate the voters’ racism. For that answer, I grieve as well.

Likewise, I do not celebrate Moore’s victory because it leaves Trump with egg all over his face. Aardvark does not give a tinker’s damn about what Trump has on his face.

No, I celebrate Judge Moore’s victory because it marks the driving of an enormous wedge between the con artists of McConnellism-Ryanism and the victims who make up so much of the “Republican base.”

Together, con artists and victims could win the Electoral College in 2016.

Divided, they’re going to have trouble electing the dog catcher in Coaling, Alabama.

The con artists are going to head for exits. Corker announced his departure today. Many others will follow.

Will the last one lickspittle for the National Chamber of Commerce to leave Congress, please turn out the lights?

Two Simple Questions about Health Care

When Ross Douthat sucks his thumb over Roman Catholic theological controversies, my eyes glaze over. Aardvark ain’t got no dog in THAT fight.

Other days—and today, I think, was such a day—he’s worth a read. In a column headlined The Health Care Cul-de-Sac, Douthat urges both political parties to “step back and think about our national priorities”—and then, having thunk deep thoughts, to conclude that it is not a national priority to replace Obamacare, nor is it a national priority to enact a single payer health care system. He writes,

If Obamacare repeal is really dead for the year 2017, both left and right have a chance to shake their minds free of the health care debate and ask themselves: What are the biggest threats to the American Dream right now, to our unity and prosperity, our happiness and civic health?

I would suggest that there are two big answers, both of which played crucial roles in getting a carnival showman who promised to Make America Great Again elected president. First, an economic stagnation that we are only just now, eight years into an economic recovery, beginning to escape — a stagnation that has left median incomes roughly flat for almost a generation, encouraged populism on the left and right, and made every kind of polarization that much worse.

Second, a social crisis that the opioid epidemic has thrown into horrifying relief, but that was apparent in other indicators for a while — in the decline of marriage, rising suicide rates, an upward lurch in mortality for poorer whites, a historically low birthrate, a large-scale male abandonment of the work force, a dissolving trend in religious and civic life, a crisis of patriotism, belonging, trust.

Having laid this predicate, Douthat goes on,

Now a follow-up question: Is the best way to address either of these crises to spend the next five years constantly uprooting and replanting health insurance systems, and letting health care consume every hour of debate?

The First Question

We come now to Aardvark’s first question, and it goes to my progressive friends.

And the question is,

Doesn’t Douthat actually have a pretty good point about priorities?

The Second Question

Here comes the second question, and it’s for you, Mr. Douthat. Ross, like many of your ilk, you speak of single payer health care systems as though only an insane person could even entertain the idea. In today’s column, for example, you refer, and I quote, to “outlandish single-payer expectations,” and you speak condescendingly of “single-payer dreams.”

So here’s the question:

We have all heard of “American exceptionalism.” But what, in your humble opinion, makes America so bloody exceptional that it is a pipe dream to have efficient socialized medicine in America, when all other advanced capitalist countries have some form of single payer systems?

In short, what is it about us that means we Americans can’t have nice things?

Enquiring minds want to know.