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.

King Jong Un and Him Wrong Too

Mitzie Solves the Korea Mess

Had dinner last evening with Mitzie from upstairs. Always a pleasure. She pointed out that both leaders have ridiculous hair. Plainly, the solution is for them just to insult each other’s hair styles.

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I have developed the idea—as per usual, borrowing shamelessly from the internet.

Nice hair, little Rocket Man. Still styling with a weed whacker?

Nice hairdo, insane dotard. But isn’t it early for Halloween?

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Like your hair, Kim. Do you butcher it yourself?

If you keep insulting me, world class idiot, there will be hell toupée.

I’m not going to say mean things about your looks, little Rocket Man. Your face speaks for itself.

I heard Humane Society give plenty cash you release that thing on head into forest.

Roy Moore’s BFFs: Hilary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi

Some in the United States adhere to Marxism-Leninism and some espouse McConnellism-Ryanism. Both sects are small, though I admit the latter probably outnumber the former.

Because they are a very small sect, the McConnellists-Ryanists cannot win elections without conning a large number of rubes. Their efforts are hilarious.

And not only that.

When Moore was in college, he matriculated night and day.

He shamelessly shared with same curriculum as the co-eds.

And his sister is a thespian.

Help for Korea’s Dear Leader—and for Our Dear Leader

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Help for Korea’s Dear Leader

Earlier today, I urged the Dear Leader to take inspiration from this speech allegedly delivered during the 1950 Florida senatorial campaign:

Are you aware that Claude Pepper is known all over Washington as a shameless extrovert? Not only that, but this man is reliably reported to practice nepotism with his sister-in-law, and he has a sister who was once a thespian in wicked New York. Worst of all, it is an established fact that Mr. Pepper, before his marriage, habitually practiced celibacy.

Don’t know how much English the Dear Leader has, so I asked Google translater to render it into Korean. Here goes:

클로드 페퍼가 워싱턴 전체에서 부끄러움없는 외향적 인 사람으로 알려졌다는 것을 알고 있습니까? 그뿐 아니라이 남자는 시누이와 함께 친족 관계를 실천한다고 믿을 만하게보고되고, 한때 그는 사악한 뉴욕의 한 형제였던 누이가 있습니다. 최악의 경우, 페퍼 씨는 결혼하기 전에 습관적으로 독신 생활을 시작했습니다.

Just to check their work, I then translated it back into English, using different translation software. It came out this way:

No shame in the whole Washington Pepper Claude, who are known to be a healthy extrovert, you know? Not only that, but the man with his sister reported it to believe that the practice kinship, once he had a sister, brother of a New York evil. In the worst case, pepper, before he started his career as a single habit.

Isn’t 21st century technology wonderful?

And, by the way, an amusing, scholarly discussion of the Smathers/Pepper campaign speech and related incidents will be found in Dirty Politics: Smathers, Pepper, and Quasi Malediction in American Political Folklore. (Did you know that my opponent regularly vacillates in public? Were you aware that when he was in college, he matriculated with the female students? And that they even shared the same curriculum?)

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Help for America’s Dear Leader

Yo, numbnuts, the next time you decide to take out your willie and have a pissing contest with Kim Jong Un, just remember this:

Never Bullshit a Bullshitter!

 

Chuckling as We Shuffle Down the Road to Armageddon

dotard

And why shouldn’t we chuckle, I ask you?

Props to Vasari for calling my attention to the history of the word “dotard.”

Very interesting stuff.

Poisonally, I think the most interesting point is that the word is correctly pronounced DOE TURD.

On a related matter, I think we need to help the Dear Leader out here. If you’re listening, Comrade Kim, you might want to take note of what George Smathers said of his opponent Claude Pepper in the Florida Senate election of 1950:

Are you aware that Claude Pepper is known all over Washington as a shameless extrovert? Not only that, but this man is reliably reported to practice nepotism with his sister-in-law, and he has a sister who was once a thespian in wicked New York. Worst of all, it is an established fact that Mr. Pepper, before his marriage, habitually practiced celibacy.

Lastly, I hope you all are aware of the valuable contribution of someone named Mark Dice—described as a “conservative media analyst”—who tweeted “liberals are now siding with North Korea after he called Trump a #dotard (meaning an old, senile person). That figures. Liberals hate us.”

Well, Mr. Dice, if the foo shits, wear it.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Aardvark now brings you the Statement of Kim Jong Un, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea:

The speech made by the U.S. president in his maiden address on the UN arena in the prevailing serious circumstances, in which the situation on the Korean peninsula has been rendered tense as never before and is inching closer to a touch-and-go state, is arousing worldwide concern.

Shaping the general idea of what he would say, I expected he would make stereo-typed, prepared remarks a little different from what he used to utter in his office on the spur of the moment as he had to speak on the world’s biggest official diplomatic stage.

But, far from making remarks of any persuasive power that can be viewed to be helpful to defusing tension, he made unprecedented rude nonsense one has never heard from any of his predecessors.

A frightened dog barks louder.

I’d like to advise Trump to exercise prudence in selecting words and to be considerate of whom he speaks to when making a speech in front of the world.

The mentally deranged behavior of the U.S. president openly expressing on the UN arena the unethical will to “totally destroy” a sovereign state, beyond the boundary of threats of regime change or overturn of social system, makes even those with normal thinking faculty think about discretion and composure.

His remarks remind me of such words as “political layman” and “political heretic” which were in vogue in reference to Trump during his presidential election campaign.

After taking office Trump has rendered the world restless through threats and blackmail against all countries in the world. He is unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of a country, and he is surely a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire, rather than a politician.

His remarks which described the U.S. option through straightforward expression of his will have convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last.

Now that Trump has denied the existence of and insulted me and my country in front of the eyes of the world and made the most ferocious declaration of a war in history that he would destroy the DPRK, we will consider with seriousness exercising of a corresponding, highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history.

Action is the best option in treating the dotard who, hard of hearing, is uttering only what he wants to say.

As a man representing the DPRK and on behalf of the dignity and honor of my state and people and on my own, I will make the man holding the prerogative of the supreme command in the U.S. pay dearly for his speech calling for totally destroying the DPRK.

This is not a rhetorical expression loved by Trump.

I am now thinking hard about what response he could have expected when he allowed such eccentric words to trip off his tongue.

Whatever Trump might have expected, he will face results beyond his expectation.

I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U. S. dotard with fire.

Actually, I Think They’re Just Addicted to Their Smart Phones

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To Aardvark’s ears, it sounds like something from the Borowitz Report. Nevertheless, today we have it on very good authority—there was a study—that, Not drinking or driving, teens increasingly put off traditional markers of adulthood.

Actually, it’s even worse than the headline suggests.

When 17-year-old Quattro Musser hangs out with friends, they don’t drink beer or cruise around in cars with their dates. Rather, they stick to G-rated activities such as rock-climbing or talking about books.

They are in good company, according to a new study showing that teenagers are increasingly delaying activities that had long been seen as rites of passage into adulthood. The study, published Tuesday in the journal Child Development, found that the percentage of adolescents in the U.S. who have a driver’s license, who have tried alcohol, who date, and who work for pay has plummeted since 1976, with the most precipitous decreases in the past decade. …

Between 1976 and 1979, 86 percent of high school seniors had gone on a date; between 2010 and 2015 only 63 percent had, the study found. During the same period, the portion who had ever earned money from working plunged from 76 to 55 percent. And the portion who had tried alcohol plummeted from 93 percent between 1976 and 1979 to 67 percent between 2010 and 2016.

Teens have also reported a steady decline in sexual activity in recent decades, as the portion of high school students who have had sex fell from 54 percent in 1991 to 41 percent in 2015, according to Centers for Disease Control statistics.

What the hell is wrong with these kids?

The article gives a convoluted evolutionary explanation for this odd behavior. The gist appears to be that today’s kids have it so well that they have no need to get a job or start producing children at an early age.

But still I say, what the hell is wrong with these kids? I take the point about being pampered. But what about their hormones?

Don’t they have hormones?

Aardvark remembers.

Aardvark had hormones.

Happy Birthday, Samuel Johnson

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I understand that, while I was otherwise engaged this morning, Twitter Man ranted at the United Nations. No comment. Res ipsa loquitur.

Today Aardvark departs from contemplation of the rancid dystopia for which Donald Trump and his followers so intensely yearn. A second post will follow, on a likewise Trump-unrelated matter.

I celebrate the 308th birthday of Samuel Johnson.

As a former editor myself—one who frequently had to puzzle over what to do with good and original manuscripts—I take delight in Johnson’s famous rejection letter:

Sir, your manuscript is both good and original.

But the part that is good is not original.

And the part that is original is not good.

Red and Yellow, Black and White, They Are Precious In His Sight

Roy Moore includes ‘reds and yellows’ on list of racially divided groups:

While making the case for unifying the electorate, a candidate for Alabama’s open Senate seat ended up saying something pretty divisive.

Roy Moore, a former chief justice on the state Supreme Court, was speaking against racial, political and other divisions at a rally in Florence, Ala., on Sunday when he inserted two words that have been historically used as slurs.

“We were torn apart in the Civil War — brother against brother, North against South, party against party,” he said. “What changed?

“Now we have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting,” Moore added. “What’s going to unite us? What’s going to bring us back together? A president? A Congress? No. It’s going to be God.”

“Red” has historically been a slang term for Native Americans that has increasingly gone out of favor. Some view it as offensive and so inappropriate that there’s been a movement to rename sports teams that incorporate the term into its mascots, such as the Washington Redskins.

“Yellow” is a derogatory term for East Asians that was common in the late 1800s among the white working class in California, who feared Asian immigrants would take their jobs.

 

Obviously, It Was a Diabolically Clever Ruse

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Because no lawyers for Trump could possibly have been stupid enough to eat lunch at a fashionable Washington restaurant located next door to the New York Times Washington bureau—and engage in a loud discussion of sensitive legal defense matters. Right?

They must have recognized the Times reporter sitting at the next table? Right?

It has to have been a wickedly clever plan to deceive everyone about the defense strategy.

That loud debate about those secret documents locked in a White House safe? Must have been designed to lead everyone on a wild goose chase.

It’s all spelled out in Trump Lawyers Clash Over How Much to Cooperate With Russia Inquiry.