The Tell

Chris Christie is a smart politician. His full scale embrace of President Obama in the last three days was not done without consideration for the political value going forward. My guess is that Christie has seen enough internal Republican polling to understand that Obama will probably win on next Tuesday. He doesn’t want to be too closely associated with a loser like Mitt Romney. But more importantly he is thinking about 2016. Romney was losing badly until he did his frantic pivot to the center in the first debate. It must be clear to Republicans that a “severe conservative” cannot win a Presidential campaign. Given that Paul Ryan has made it clear that he would like to run for President, that leaves Christie as the centrist candidate in the party. Embracing a Democratic President in bi-partisan ardor, cements that position for 2016.

I think Christie is probably right about Romney losing. The ever dependable Nate Silver has raised Obama’s chance of victory to 79%, the highest it has been since just before the first debate.

Mr. Obama continues to hold the lead in the vast majority of polls in Iowa, Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin, the states that represent his path of least resistance toward winning the Electoral College. This was particularly apparent on Wednesday, a day when there were a remarkable number of polls, 27, released in the battleground states.

Christie’s apostasy has of course unleashed a fury on the far right. My sense is that if Romney loses the Republican circular firing squad will be out in force. El Rushbo will say Romney lost because he softened his conservative message in the closing weeks, ignoring the clear polling that the moderation was the only thing that got him close.

The closing days are going to be interesting, but I am beginning to feel pretty confident of an Obama victory.


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39 Responses to The Tell

  1. Flint Dille says:

    Yeah. Romney’s going to be in trouble in New York and New Jersey after this. As I said in my other response, I think Christie ‘Jindalled’ himself at the convention keynote. Just didn’t do the job. He’s not gornished, he’s just now on the ‘B’ list. This doesn’t help, but you should suspect a trap.

  2. Rick Turner says:

    Nobody is going to remember what Christie did or didn’t do at the recent Repug’s convention, but they may remember him praising Obama. They don’t like bi-partisanship at all! But he can probably be governor as long as he wants to be now.

  3. Nick Hoff says:

    All true, Jon, but the election is still five days away, and I’m already hearing some of those who lost homes and power in NY and NJ complain that the response isn’t fast enough. If the states and feds don’t work hard enough there may be a backlash come Sunday or Monday. Admittedly an unlikely scenario, but I can hear faint echoes of “You’re doing a hell of a job, Brownie”.

  4. len says:

    The station they cite is in my hometown. One hopes it is a fake report. Checking. OTW, Christie and by proximity Obama will be lashed for this.

  5. Roman says:

    Minds are made up, and have been for some time. Recent storm related endorsements are all about the endorser, not the endorsee. A Mitt win or loss means little to Christie, and nothing to Bloomberg. It was the prospect of an Obama loss that prompted both to heap praise on Barry’s disaster relief efforts. As professional politicians, both did what they do best, attached themselves to a very popular figure, while he was still a very popular figure.

    Endorsement blather aside, what’s significant for both campaigns is whether lingering post-Sandy physiological obstacles will effect Tues’ turnout. Both campaigns, the MSM and web seem to be in the grips of a post-storm malaise that may result in a few surprises for both parties. What mattered a week ago just doesn’t seem as pressing today. Sandy may be the out many have been looking for.

    Without a late surprise for Mitt or major gaff on his part, Tues may not be decided until well after the polls close (late next week).

  6. Rick Turner says:

    If the Repugs get in, it won’t stop climate change; we haven’t seen the last storm of the century this century; and it will be very interesting to see what might happen if FEMA is destroyed. What Mutt and Paul don’t quite get is that a city like New York belongs to and benefits all of us in the US, not just residents of the State of New York. We are interconnected over, through, and past states’ borders. What happens in New York does NOT stay in New York; it affects us all, and so we have to act like a nation, not a federation of autonomous states. It’s that “divided we fall” thing that the Red staters just don’t get…until disaster strikes…like fires in Texas. Mr. “Let’s Secede” Perry had his hand out for the gimme in Washington pretty damned quick. Maybe he should have asked Fidel and Raoul for some help…or the oil rich Hugo Chavez…or Mr. Commie Pinko turned fascist plutocrat, Vladimir Putin. Give Vlad lifetime rights to ride the mechanical bull at some night club like Billy Bob’s in Texas…Que es mas macho? Putin? La vacha?

  7. Tom Mason says:


    Len, that anti-union report’s been outed as false by Charles P. Pierce at Esquire.

  8. Alex Bowles says:

    @len that Breitbart story has been debunked. Meanwhile, the long knives are coming out for Christie (via twitter).

    @rupertmurdoch: Christie, while thanking O, must re-declare for Romney, or take blame for next four dire years.

    This may mean The Post is going to start pushing Booker for NJ Gov. Or it may come to naught. Regardless of the way Republicans process a loss, the relentless march of demographics mean this will be the last election in American history in which a party can hope to win the White House with nothing but the white vote. Call it the Confederacy’s Very Last Stand.

    The only time Romney gained serious traction was after the first debate, when he pivoted away from the wingnuts. They reasserted control and he promptly stalled, and now he’s giving his final speeches with tri-corn wearing dudes standing right behind him. But America, on balance, has had it with these assholes. If the GOP ever wants to take the Presidency again, they’ll need brown people’s approval—which isn’t happening as long as people like Rush Limbaugh and Jan Brewer carry the day.

    Yes, the Tea Party took full advantage of their 2010 rout, gerrymandering the House sharply in their favor until 2020. Troll they will. But an increasingly post-partisan and self-interested California delagation could dampen much of that. If the Dems take this opportunity to reform the filibuster, they can end minority rule in the Senate, further weakening the Tea Party’s prospects. And of course, putting the Cons into the minority on the Supreme Court’s bench will cement the swing away from the conservative era that began with Reagan.

    Meanwhile, nobody in New York has forgotten 9/11. It haunts the place, and Sandy is making a commensurate impression. Given that NY is the media capital of the English speaking world, the dialog surrounding climate change is about to take a hard and permanent shift towards sanity. The complexities are unimaginable, but the bottom line is clear: approximately 80% of the world’s known fossil fuel reserves must remain underground forever.

    That radical but unavoidable reality is well-known in eco and energy circles. This time next year you can expect it to be common knowledge. Carbon = Chaos. Given the historical dependence of the fossil fuel lobby on the Republican Party, this is a terrible time for their defenders to suffer an epochal setback. And the “all of the above” energy strategy that Obama has been trying to get away with simply won’t wash. Bloomberg (the man and the paper) aren’t going to shut up about the risks New York is facing. Calculated ignorance has its limits, and we’ve just reached them. In its place, we’re going to have to commit to a zero-carbon economy by 2050, or get swamped trying.

    For a country desperate to shake off the dead hand of the old and renew itself for a very different century, this challenge can have magnetic appeal. Between the doom on one side and the denial on the other, there’s a positive path that can be taken. But first we needed something big and lasting to break the silence. Thanks to Sandy, it’s out if the bag.

    Lenin said there are decades in which nothing happens, and weeks in which decades happen. We’ve just lived through one of them.

  9. len says:

    I tried to post it here yesterday but it went missing. Our local reporters went straight to the sources in Decatur and got the straight skinny from the utilities manager. There is a form to fill in that ensures volunteers are paid local rates (what is paid in NY, etc.). It’s a good thing.

    This is when transmedia is better than monomedia if there are trusted authorities in the network. In this case, local reporters who are members of Facebook communities answered our questions quickly and accurately. Then we passed that along: in my case to the person who sent me the story from Utah and he along to his friends. While they may comment, they pass he link to the authority’s report. So instead of a degrading signal from a single broadcast (gossip, word of mouth) the signal is clear and original.

    Again, it’s in the way that you use it. Social media has downsides but just as CB radio provided better emergency response, so does social media as long as there are trust relationships. TV and radio reporters who use it well are trusted even if biased.

  10. len says:

    @Alex Bowles

    NYC is a media capitol. The capital that is “not that hard to build to make a buck” is taking hold here. Private investors are building solar and wind farms in Alabama because TVA pays private interests that return energy to the grid. Not a bad start. Reengineering the grid to keep up with the capitalism working as it should is where socialist interests work synergistically.

    Society is not a single party, person or system. It is a system of systems. That’s the pragmatic approach to the century dawning.

    It’s funny that the word we use to disparage instead of the less acceptable word is “frikking”.

    History gets an accidental laugh in now and then.

  11. Hugo St. Victor says:

    To take these assertions in respectful order, as I’m newly returned to Jon’s cerebral Table yet haven’t very much had time to keep pace right through broth to Brandy and cigars. Part of why I haven’t opined is that scary Georgian Ol’ Boys had reported that fairly influential Georgia quacks had barred me from voting due to magisterial findings of my unfitness to vote (see my eighth comment on Jon’s “Obama’s Debate Challenge”), which reports turn out, according to the local Bench, to be utterly untrue. (Criminal charges, in favor of Tort suits, imminently to follow). So as it turns out I do have a cherished vote to cast Tuesday. The other parts to why I’ve lagged behind your dealings: intensifying senior care, churc commitments, new respnsibilities to to the Military Chaplains Association, policy promises pursuant to this presidential campaign, and my incorporation of three public-benefit corporations — all at once.

    AS FOR JON’s typically knowing insights…this one will be a relative squeaker. It’s not on balance possible to say that either candidate shall “lose big”. Silver is an honest, earnest technician lacking the kind of survey werewithal of other Political Scientists and partisan technicians boasting more reliable track records. However, his formulation, I agree, is a significant counterpoint and caveat. Romney’s “pivot” to the center, from primary positioning as a candidate of the Right, (a) didn’t begin with the first debate so revealing of Obama Unplugged, (b) successfully convinced the conservative base that he was more than the son of his moderate Republican father, the former Governor of Massachusetts, the candidate previously rejected by the Party’s base as still more compromised, midward, than John McCain, and (c) was playing the Football bettor Richard Nixon’s prescribed play: up the Right Sideline for the nomination, then down the middle for the Goal.

  12. Rick Turner says:

    And if neither candidate wins big, there can be no mandate, yet the winners will declare it as such. If the Repugs win, look to see draconian measures attempted, social safety nets gutted, the military greatly enhanced at the expense of education and the middle class. There will be an extremely disproportionate political swing in Washington if Romney wins by so little as half a point. The Repugs simply do not want political compromise, and then the best we can hope for will be the mid-term election to level the field again.

  13. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Calling those of the Grand Old Party repugnant is tantamount to calling members of the globe’s oldest political party, the Democratic Party USA, e.g. “Demogods”, or “Democraps” or Demidweebs” or such. I’m an old diehard unionist, and as such respect, have proudly served, and have great admiration and affection for both parties and their histories, despite their raging pustulous warts and boils at various times. So fuck me. I even for years insisted that Republican leaders refrain from calling the Democratic Party the “Demo’crat Party”, its elected officers “Demo’krats”. That’s just beneath democratic converse, len, and McGovern, Muskie, McCarthy, the Kennedys, Chisholm, Carter, Humphrey, Moynihan, Shriver, Mondal, Udall et al never would have risen to such bait. Likewise, the more distinguished of Republican national figures, nor the newspaper syndicates and wire services, in their stylebooks established and openly published. It’s schoolyard child’s play, more fitting in the adolescent West Wing and its beloved Letterman program than in national hurly burly due our Republic. I hate it. It short-circuits my capacity to take seriously even those correspondents, commentators and sovereign voters whom, like you, I most respect. Sorry, Friend. Wrong timing. Election Day is the crucial high holy day sustaining of our “Civil Religion”. Secularized blasphemy, disallowed this season.

  14. Rick Turner says:

    The Republican Party…that Grand Old Party…has suffered a coup d’etat in the past five or more years. I think you could trace the real groundswell of paranoid right wing near-fascist leadership to Newt Gingrich and then of course the grand fool of radio, Rush Limbaugh. My father was an old school Republican of the Eisenhower type; he’d be utterly horrified by what’s going on now…I dare say he’d find his current party repugnant. The near complete subversion…I’d even say perversion of the military to industrialists’ purposes; the disregard for the less fortunate; the rush to off-shore jobs and the even darker off-shoring of the profits; the rise of the Wall St. capitalists and bankers who now have us by the short hairs; the disregard for civil rights; the list goes on and on. And then the making public the risks of capitalism while making private the profits…which is a total and cynical perversion or the free market well on a scale with the cronyism and corruption of Soviet communism into Russian plutocracy and Mafia-style rule…it would make my Republican old man throw up.

  15. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Rick, that’s just madness and fury, I’m sorry. Both parties are instantiations of their members, not of their hierarchs. Come on. You’ve just called half the American electorate the dupes of “near-fascists” (Louisianne?), Soviet-style cronies, Muscovite plutomaniacs and Mafiosi. What a Batman cartoon that would make for next month’s issue pitting the Democratic Party as the arch villains! Pow! Cra-aaaack! Ka-BOOM! Your father notwithstanding, Dwight Eisenhower might very well have taken the degradation of the parties fairly in stride, except to issue something very like Mr. Truman’s denunciation of the Democratic Party immediately following the public execution of John Kennedy, whose so recent candidacy did not upset President Eisenhower’s cardial chambers as much as did the White House prospects of Ike’s own Vice President, a man who, already in 1960, was immensely more qualified for high office and accomplished than is Barack Obama this week. All of this in perspective, please. We owe the People of both parties a tribute due patrimony, despite the badness of so many of their “leaders”.

    Incidentally, Newt Gingrich was, briefly and some time ago, the self-made leader of the U.S. House of Representatives. Other than that distinction of intramural titular “leadership”, he represented only those Republicans in (East) Cobb County, one-fifth of one hundred fifty-eight counties of the State of Georgia. Hardly a leader, Professor Gingrich, representative of anyone, much less of the giant stalking mass of Sleeper Repugnazillacons inhabiting the host organisms of your father’s partisans and friends.

  16. Rick Turner says:

    If the current Republican party really is made up of the kind of right wing ideologs as represented by so many of their elected representatives, then we are in deep shit. The Aikin, Perry, Ryan, Scott, etc. “No Nothing” branch of the government is counting on fear and loathing, barely disguised racism and sexism to keep their hold on the purse strings so they can dole out the dough to their pals. I don’t think it’s any great mystery why these folks are working so hard to destroy critical thinking as a part of education; if they can use Goebbels-style propaganda as funded by the Koch brothers, Adelson, etc. to manipulate the electorate, they’ll have their good old boys’ clubs well into a bleak future. A real “tell” on Romney is his intent to bump up the military budget. But he won’t say why other than mouthing the same old US as the world’s super power crap. From a business man’s point of view, I want to know (quite separately from any ethical issues), “What is our Return on Investment” on the middle east wars? And I don’t mean “our” in the sense of Lockeed Marietta or Boing or Blackwater or any other offense contractors. Wolfowitz said that the war in Iraq would pay for itself. Did it? Why are we even dealing with a bunch of sectarian tribal societies whose supposed national borders were the result of European empire building? To sell them the latest Disney flicks? Why are we insisting that they be like us without our questioning the very basis? American exceptionalism? Or is it just another version of Monday Night Football? The Dems are almost as guilty as far as I can see, but the Republican Party has been taken over by some brilliant manipulative mean assholes.

  17. len says:

    People are standing in line six and seven hours in Florida to vote. They are chanting in front of locked doors. Watch the news. Republicans are fighting them all the way to reveal a third world country douche leadership mentality. Rick Scott is finished in the eyes of the world. Over. Done. In the cinched plastic bag and headed for the trash.

    A beautiful thing is happening.

    It’s been said we can no longer tell who the bad guys are. Yes we can. They’re called Republicans. No need to use foul language; they soiled their own brand. They are as transparent as the windows on their SUVs are dark.

  18. Hugo St. Victor says:

    You guys! I get the viotriol. But it’s chalked against our coarse culture and our corrupted political structures in general, and not to one or the other party. Four years ago you said that the Repubic cans were through, would never bounce back, had no bench, etc. My point, then as now, is that we should wish for the cleansing, revitalization and lasting vibrancy of BOTH parties, while working to strengthen the party we choose. If Democrats are lining up at polling places, then Huzzah! If Re-tardicans are retarding them, then For Shame! Too bad Holder ran interference for the Mau-Mau electioneering of the New “Black Panthers”, who managed to shatter records of electoral thuggism previously held by such fabled champions as J.D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, H.F. Haldeman’s California Chamber of Commerce and Gatsha Buthelezi’s Zulu Party.

    Not long ago my friends the merry pranksters of the California Democratic Party’s oppo unit were red-eyed down to Florida to impregnate chads; their GOP counterparts, to do the opposite of course. So what? This isn’t the time of Joe Kennedy or of The New Nixon. I grant that K Street and the politico-billionaires are the scourge now, from Sorosis to Kochanosis. Nader’s right on, there. Always was. But Goldwater hated the plutocracy too, even joined with McGovern to decry it.

    The structure requires reconstruction, by plebescite authorizing what Ike (and, in California, Jesse Unruh, of USC) called “teamwork”. The nation’s culture requires refibrillation, obviously, as its heart has been eviscerated by Positivist-Lucrativist, $ilicon-souled greedheads whose pathology is killing our democratic Arts, Humanities, Humanism and Humans. Stanford, frankly, is more responsible for this relentless American Inquisition of the Mind than is either party, or either part’s backers.

    Rick, I’ve always been grateful for your vivid accounts of the hardships of small and medium-size businesses, especially those in California. It really aggrieves me — daily now — and honestly I’m livid with both parties, as each has locked up a couple or three of the power blocs responsible for the ravaging. (Again I now think of Nader). As for education, the feds have very little business messing with K-12; their designs on school control either should be remanded to a Constitutional convention or else should be affirmed by the vote of two-thirds of the states. A deal’s a deal, a constitution a constitution. We fought a terrible war over the point, and the constitutionalists won. That time.

  19. Hugo St. Victor says:

    By the way, the President is as full of shit on FEMA and the Red Cross as are the Republicans EVER to compare him to Jimmy Carter and vice versa. How absurd. Our politics and our “news” “media” are regressing from Fellini to Breton. What next, a 30-metre baguette on the National Mall?

  20. Rick Turner says:

    The idea that the Constitution should be inviolable is absurd. If the founding fathers were to spring alive and sentient, fully understanding the past 200 years plus of the American experiment, I’d wager we’d see a very different Constitution than we have today, and I’d further suggest that the whole thing of the Electoral College would be understood to be twaddle. Perhaps even the non-representational nature of the US Senate would be called into question as the population weight is considered. Jefferson and pals never imagined a situation like Wyoming at just under 600,000 residents vs. California at over 37,000,000. We need a new Constitution; one that defines us as a nation, a federation of states, etc. The inadequacy of the existing document, as brilliant as it was for its time, is a real issue.

  21. Hugo St. Victor says:

    OF COURSE IT IS inviolate, man, otherwise the Republic falls. A good part of its genius lies in the provisions for either amending the charter or breaking the contract — legally and peaceably. My God, our most cherished protections are assured in its initial AMENDMENTS, from which the other crucial ones (notably the 14th) ensued at long last. Let’s not get stuck on, for example, our memory of the failure of the ERA. That thing nearly passed! It was beautiful, the spectacle of national debate, discussion and Federalist democracy. Moreover it was supported, you’ll recall, mostly by Democrats but — in retrospect, I think more importantly — by prominent figures from both parties. I don’t mean to use the ERA as a straw argument but rather as a relevant, fairly recent example. Jon, not long ago, raised the issue of a convention, and the knowing discussions here, I believe carried over to more formal doings he and his colleagues hosted at their increasingly influential campus. That’s no small potatoes, luthier! As for Jefferson, he was so great a thinker that in the end he even diagnosed his own moral insanity as a proto-Confederate slavedriver in thrall to pastoral romanticism bordering on nostalgia for a kind of Virginie of the Mind. That’s why Lincoln, the All Time Champeen fan of Jefferson’s declaration of rights and of war, had such a love/hate attitude toward Jefferson that it constantly put his friend Blair in mind to resign from Lincoln’s Cabinet. And still, as a national collectivity we DO have the kind of compact that you prescribe. We really do have, Rick. Were our Supremes not mostly a gathering of Pygmies you’d be reassured of the point. I think maybe what you and I both wish for is something like the Progressive Reforms of Wisconsin and California in the early 20th Century. Those changes were deeply structural, quintessentially constitutional, and winningly nonpartisan. The Capitol Historian, in Sacramento, gave me a wonderful parting gift: a photograph of three politicians gathered at the Assembly Desk to acknowledge the passing of California’s package of reforms that wrested the State from control by ruthless plutocrats. The three figures in the photo are Speaker C.C. Young (Republican/Progressive), Governor Hiram Johnson (Republican/Progressive), and my grandmother’s Godfather, William Jennings Bryan (Democrat/Progressive).

    It can be done, within Constitutional bounds.

  22. len says:

    Heavy stuff, Hugo.

    I’ll be satisfied if after Tuesday we see the Republicans deciding that embracing every wingnut to drive one man out of office is not a good policy and they start working with the President to get work done again. What we have seen for the last twenty years is simply not going to cut it. Too many world events are overcoming us and it is work smart or be led down the path to fascism and the Strong Man. History doesn’t provide many alternatives. If I am right, though, we are about to turn the page and begin to work the problems instead of making up problems where there are real solutions at hand for the real problems.

    We can do this. We have everything we need. And we can shine while doing it. Energy and climate fall before education, investment and a get it done attitude. We simply need to remember how good it feels to be working hard and winning, to be the inspiration for the rest of humanity. Americans have the best shot imaginable. We’ve been in a funk for too long. And it’s self-inflicted.

  23. Hugo St. Victor says:

    That’s so beautiful, len. It’s worthy of one of your heartening songs. I hear a solo, turning into a chorus building. I’d like to come in at the end, with my throaty baritone that frankly belts louder than my Jazzman father’s did (though he had perfect pitch, presumably from years of hornblowing).

    Honestly I feel that the next American decade or so shall rely upon you artists, as well as upon us practitioners of the Humanities and our remaining, beleagured Humanists in technical fields such as Psychology, Chemistry, Human Factors Engineering and the Medical Arts. We’ll have to do it joyously whilst, were necessary, driving back the reignant Positivists with wit and kindness unanswerable. It’s time to retrieve, restore and reinvigorate American Arts, Science, Culture and History. Our true heritage. You guys are doing it unawares, and I’m trying to do so at my end, as an Americanist of the original, journalistic Yale School. We’re in it together. ARS VICTRIX!

    Numbers do sell, but we are in that number who know the values of things uncountable, innumerable. Our Yankee origins stem from the Humanism of the ancient universities, the great cathedrals that begat them, and their collective service of the laity on the street. That was their genius, the genius of our inspirited colonial People, the genius of the early makers of our Republic, and the genius of Mr. Jefferson, “Author of the Declaration of American Independence of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom and Father of the University of Virginia”. His epitaph, carved upon his death on July 4, 1826, should be our Commencement Mass, our Torah, our Beat Poetry reading, our Reconstruction, our Yellowstone, Salk Vaccine and our Woodstock.

    Problem solving for its own sake is the elegant play of mathematicians, physicists and theoretical engineers. Fine. Very fine indeed. But democratic problem solving is the patrimony of Franklin, Jefferson, Holmes, Carver, Dewey, Kennedy — Pragmatic Humanists all.

    Possibly the most incisive revelation of the American con of trumping and trumpeting a manufactured pathology, the better to sell its solution, is Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man”. Yet len, what loving, killer tunes! What a healing, painless scalpel job!


  24. Alex Bowles says:

    @Hugo St. Victor

    You’ve just called half the American electorate the dupes of “near-fascists” (Louisianne?), Soviet-style cronies, Muscovite plutomaniacs and Mafiosi.

    Not without reason. Consider, for example, this gem shot at a recent Romney rally. If you can’t detect the insidious influence of Roger Ailes at work in these interviews, you haven’t been paying nearly enough attention. It would be nice to say these folks are outliers, selected for the horror of their views, but polls indicate that they’re far from anomalies.

    Separately, it’s true that both Republicans and Democrats have engaged in truly despicable vote rigging exercises that reflect horribly on the character of those promoting and defending them. The difference is that the Republicans are doing it now, in 2012, whereas the Democrats haven’t done it since the days of Jim Crow.

    This becomes even less of a “both sides” issue when you remember that it was LBJ’s signature on the Civil Rights Act that triggered the exodus of Democrats (Dixicrats, really) from the party that now boasts a black President. Putting aside a century of animosity, these troglodytes swiftly found a new home among the unsuspecting Republicans, where they promptly went to work, transforming the Party of Lincoln into the Party of Lincoln’s killer. Newt Gingrich was the one who spearheaded the decent into madness. Grover Norquist crystalized its ethos, and Karl Rove bet the entire party on his ability to control the monstrous beast it fostered.

    That was an error. GW Bush’s failed immigration effort signaled the point where the creature slipped its leash, attacked its host, and set its sights set on full control of the organization that once offered it shelter. Mitch McConnell tried – and failed – to tame it, leading to the catastrophe (for the GOP) that was the Sequestration Bill.

    Undaunted by this self-inflicted failure – or, perhaps, made more furious because if it – the monster took control of the Presidential primaries, inflicting upon America a clown-show of unprecedented absurdity before settling on a candidate who, by most accounts, isn’t even human. This was the crowning episode in a hideous parade spanning more than a decade, replete with jingoistic warfare, a sulphuric political atmosphere, sharpening class divides, unmitigated financial devastation, and a slew of environmental catastrophes that would make the authors of the Apocalypse nod and say “we told you this was coming.”

    But of course, this isn’t the end of the world. It’s just the end of theirs. What we’re seeing now is the Confederacy’s very last stand. They know this, just like they know their time is going to come sooner rather than later. The question is whether they can hold onto their position until then, or suffer the bursting of the dam ahead of their funerals, unleashing a tide of social justice that will sweep them into the political wilderness where they’ll be left to expire in ignominy, haunted by the celebratory sounds of all those singing in the distance “free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty we are free at last!” (or something along those lines).

    Like the celebrations in 2008, this party will also end swiftly. Our problems remain too big for a protracted festivity. Plus, everybody’s broke. But as the logic of global climate change unfolds, it will introduce the absolute need for a nationwide energy transition so significant it only has two precedents in the entire history of civilization.

    I suspect this is where the old, dead hands in the Democratic party will finally lose their grip. I agree, Hugo, that the entire political culture needs redemption. The first order of business has been the firm reassertion of basic majority rule, and that’s what’s happening now, fierce as the opposition may be. The next order of business will be dismantling the calcified structures of Rule by Special Interest. A less divided electorate will have an easier time with this than one permanently (and conveniently) infuriated by the Tea Party’s assaults on their basic dignity. Imagine, for instance, how much harder it will be for the Koch Bros to fight carbon legislation without the benefit of tricorned mobs to shield them.

    Really, is it any wonder that all the stops are coming out now? What happens in the next 48 hours is a very big deal.

  25. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Well sure, it’s “a very big deal”. I emphasized the point in my apologia at the end of comments upon John’s sophisticated essay specifying “Obama’s Debate Challenge”. But still, Alex, we gotta admit that “reason” is friendly neither to ad hominem attacks nor to related extrapolations from the anecdotal to the general. So pardon me if I choose not to try to refute your examples point by point.

    Refutation no longer interests me, unless it be refutation of the Scienticissicistic Neopostmodern Po$itivi$t Kerplunckentropchenmenchen Expealodocian mindfuckers who tried for fame & fortune to cripple the American Academy and the American Mind in the decade 1985-1995 and idiotically believe they’ve succeeded in doing so. Tuesday’s outcome won’t spell the end of anything. That’s the sort of metaphysical speculation to which our civil religiosity is given.

    Should Romney lose, so what? Unnoticed by our dinner guests here, the — yes, Bonzo — Grand Old Party has managed to assemble an unusually long bench of recruits for the next go. Meanwhile, on the Democratic side there’s always Hillary in the bullpen, and e.g. Richardson, Cisneros and our own Leon in the dugout, should they choose once again to don the jersey. If Mitt loses, his Party will hammer the Democrats’ ignorance of and contempt for entrepreneurship. Should Barack lose, eventually we’ll recognize the significance of his inspiring rededication to social justice, here and abroad. Neither outcome will sink the nation. Only the Salafists, combined with the Chinese, the Russians and anyone who can make a pipe bomb and stitch a banner, could do that.

    So yes, it’s a crucial turning point, but crucial only in the trivial sense that if the electorate doesn’t rise to sternly adult, tragic decisions then we’re probably fucked, and soon. Neither candidate is the vulgar Messianic figure of a Spielberg film. It’s a matter of clear-eyed trade-offs. Design parameters. We collectively are either one or the other client competing for the attentions of the most elite design house, the White House. Obama will continue to run it as an attelier and a Marketing studio, whereas Romney almost surely will run it as an Industrial Design firm flush with iffy venture capital. But then the L.A. campuses are happy to support murderous Petro-Wahabbism and disgraced Wall Street and Savings & Loan white-collar criminals, are they not?

    You’re so astute that I’m surprised to see you saying callow things about the ecumenism of modern electioneering, and the demise of Southern racism (which, I take it, is what you sum as “Confederacy”). The Democratic Party’s embrace of electioneering is an enduring devotion, I assure you. From New Hampshire 1960 to Cook County eternal, to the outrageous supression of the military vote, to my own participation in California elections involving fried-chicken-for-votes and the dumping of ballot boxes into San Francisco Bay, trust me: it didn’t end with the Jim Crow you contradictorally insist is very much alive, but on the Republicans’ account this time.

    Perhaps what’s bugging you is the two parties’ strategems to win the crucial Southern Vote deliberately doffed and put up for grabs by President Johnson and Senator Russell at the funeral of John Kennedy. That bloc has gone back and forth ever since, and many a thesis and dissertation has been housed in departments of Political Science interested in the How and When.

    It’s really a long story, and revealing of our recent makings good, bad & Westwood both L.A. and Carmel. But if you’re suggesting that should Mr. Obama be turned out by dint of some crypto-racist vote in places like Des Moines, then you really must not construe the priorities of this season’s electorate. Instead of hedging your bets should the hateful Republicans win, might I suggest that instead you hit the streets in support of your incumbent candidate, and let the chips fall where they may — at the polls, in the Electoral College, or in the Chambers of the Supreme Court?

  26. Alex Bowles says:

    The Times has just published this wonderful op-ed piece in which contains a perspective that is very fresh, even as it points to an increasingly central problem: the unmitigated catastrophe that is our electoral system.

    The reality is that our government hasn’t become this dysfunctional because the parties are so “polarized.” It’s because there is only one pole in American politics today, and its magnetic field is so powerful that it has drawn both parties in the same direction — rightward.

    The lynchpin is the fact that legislation is commodified. We see money at its biggest and most conspicuous (not to mention its least effective) in actual elections. But voters are not the target of its most pernicious influence. Legislators are the real focus. It’s everything they do in return for contributions that really shapes the law. And of course, they’re not passive participants in this corruption, simply and dutifully passing laws for their reliable contributors. They’re also aggressive solicitors, wielding the tax code as both a carrot and a stick to shake-down their victims for cash.

    All of this prevents them from faithfully representing the interests of their voting – as opposed to paying – constituents. Establishing a system of public finance would change this overnight. Not only would it become impossible to petition legislators with checkbook in hand, it would also become impossible for legislators to use the tax code for personal advantage. Self-serving corporate power – and the rightward pull it exerts – would plummet. Which is not to say that major industries could not or would not petition the government. Of course they would. However, in doing so, they would need to ensure that what they were after was truly in the interests of employees, cities, the environment, etc. then make this the basis of their pitch. In essence, they’d need to approach their legislative needs by saying “here’s how helping us will help you win votes.”

    Add to this non-partisan control of redistricting and election supervision, and you get people who have to develop a name for themselves locally (raising, say, $10,000 in $20 increments to win access to the district’s election fund) in an electoral framework that they can’t rig in their favor.

    The piece goes on to suggest

    The most important legacy Mr. Obama could have would be to spend his second term using executive orders, judicial appointments and the bully pulpit to return democracy to everyday Americans by demanding clean elections, uncorrupted by money. If Mr. Obama wins a close election on the strength of the country’s changing demographics, he may feel a special responsibility to tackle the seemingly intractable problems that a second-term president can more easily address.

    I know that unrigging the vote seems like such a simple, almost silver-bullet like solution to our vast sea of problems. But just imagine how much opposition it would encounter. Banishing the Fortune 500 from the financing game? Barring politicians from choosing their voters? Overturning Citizens United? Doing all these together? The opposition would be furious, it would be extreme, it would be unrelenting, and I think we all know that. That entirely predictable fury should indicate how profoundly effective these reforms would actually be.

    To fix everything (or at least get started) just unrig the vote. After all, the vote is the essential point of contact between the government and the governed. It has been hideously distorted. As a result, citizens have been reduced to spectators at the scene of their own fleecing. But if we get this right, the way forward will take care of itself.

  27. Alex Bowles says:

    @Hugo St. Victor
    You may enjoy this illustrated timeline of voter suppression through the centuries.

    Not sure why you count the southern vote as crucial. To me, it seems like it’s largely a foregone conclusion, just like the West Coast and New England (NH aside), which are basically uncontested, having seen nary a political spot during this entire ordeal unless it was online. Most of the swing state action is in the Great Lakes region, though the reliably liberal bent of the Acela corridor is creeping into Virginia, which is an interesting development. The idea that Arizona could be a swing state by 2016 is even more remarkable – at least, until you look at this cartogram, which makes it look like it would simply be joining the Western Population Core.

    The way I see this, the red base is getting squeezed and chipped, and will struggle to hold its own against the blue regions if they can’t persuade brown people to see things their way, which, ha.

  28. Rick Turner says:

    Hugo, if the Constitution is so perfect, then why has it needed so many amendments over the years? Times change? And people change with the times…

    I don’t think the founding fathers had 30 round quick change magazines in assault rifles in mind with the “right to bear arms”. They thought slavery was just fine. They denied women voting rights. That’s just for starters…

  29. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Alex, it’s not I who finds the Southern vote now crucial. Rather, both parties found it crucial, as a swing bloc, following the civil rights acts of 1964 and 1965. Johnson and Russell deliberately had booted White Southern voters from the Democratic tent, and thereafter both parties worked up their “Southern Strategies” to win over the shunned and disaffected “crackers”, who’d always vaguely embarrassed LBJ, a Westerner, by his association with them. The various Southern Strategies, then, were crucial in the outcomes of elections from Nixon to Clinton.

    My feeling is that the most uplifting of the winning strategies was that hatched by Jimmy Carter, Ham Jordan, Pat Caddell and Jody Powell. Not many folks even here in Atlanta now recall that Carter, Andrew Young, Ted Turner, the publisher/editor Reg Murphy, Julian Bond, Shirley Chisholm and others all were progenitors and beneficiaries of what was called the New South Movement. That movement was based on (a) racial reconcilliation; (b) the embrace of all movements for social justice; the assertion of Atlanta (over against e.g. Richmond) as the logical capital of the modern South; and the very tangible promise of economic prosperity from which all would benefit. That New South Movement Carter and his guys managed to market successfuly to the entire nation in 1976. It was quite the ticket after racial infighting, Vietnam, Watergate and the horrid recession of the Ford years. That local movement, then, became first a sectional and then a national one. To the extent thatI am a Georgian, to this day I consider myself a “Movement Georgian” because I still Identify with those ill-fated ideals that were an outgrowth of the Democratic Party’s “Southern Strategy” for 1976.

    Besides, we got Disco out of it. And Pet Rocks…

  30. Alex Bowles says:

    @Hugo St. Victor All this is news to me, Hugo, and very interesting. Thanks for posting. The obvious question is: what happened? And what would need to change for something like that to happen again?

    Separately, here are some better examples of the cartogram noted above. I especially like the one merged with a standard map.

  31. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Alex, alas your more recent, cartographic illustration isn’t called up by my iPad. The deeper Mysteries of the Cuppertine Order of mock-turtlenecked Buddhist monks continue to elude us laypersons out here in hillbilly Mertonland, I guess. It’s a wonder that len has mastered these techno-riddles. We jawbone ridge runners regard him with something approaching the awe of hairy primates coping with the sudden Advent of The Chanting Monolith.

    In any case the original, illuminated timeline from our dear Mother Jones did come through, and is great, serious fun — squarely in the tradition of that journal’s unique blend of satire with cold historical facts. It’s the sort of thing that Alex Coburn depicts in his elegantly blunt word pictures. I admire especially the Mother’s tribute to Suffragists, who by the way were, with Negro voters, the bane of leaders in the Democratic Party.

    But the dismal attacks on our Fundamental Right were ecumenical, taking in even Abraham Lincoln.and his founding Republicans. The clear historiographical problem with this timeline obviously is its selectivity, but then that’s what makes it Jonesian and satirical. The aposite devices of the satirical form (best I can recall them) are here Satire by Exaggeration, as in the balloons and blow-ups/pop-ups, and Satire by Comparison, e.g. to the presumptions of dedication to the democratic national creed. Both devices were favorites of Mark Twain, and any Yankee worth his flint knows that nothing higher can be said of a device, from Franklin’s quasi-almanac to Edison’s bottled lamp.

    Jon and I share an enthusiasm for the inked stiletto of the great political cartoonist Thomas Nast, whose Progressive incissions and insightfulness interanimate this scathing graphical depiction of longitudinal — in this case, chronological — data. Therefore it’s a shame that our Sacred Mother deigned not to credit the radical cartoonists by name. But then the journal in question has become a parody of its own, a self-parody of what once was sterling editing.

    As for what became of the New South Movement, led and nationalized by Mr. Carter, perhaps this revealing vignette might suffice to explain. Some years ago Willie L. Brown Jr., the man who more than any other ran California for 15 years, assigned me to his controversial intelligence at the State Capitol. The unit’s head, my immediate boss, welcomed me enthusiastically not least because he and I had come up under newspaper editors of the old Missouri/Mayland school of green-eyeshade, stern editing and hard deadline, gumshoe reporting. Jimmy, my immediate boss, and I used to enjoy co-writing speeches, radio scripts, positioning memos, press releases attacking Republicans, etc., editing each other’s copy and merging the two drafts to beat every impossiblevdeadline. He’d been, as had I been in a more parochial way, a kickass investigative reporter of political corruption in high places. A real dragonslayer. He was much in the mold of the hack-turned-flack Bill Moyers (except that Jimmy never would have given over to the ridiculous sicophancy, to a bogus guru as old Joe Campbell, of that dewy-eyed simp Moyers, the original PBS millionaire).

    Jimmy in earlier life had been Press Secretary to Senator Hubert Humphrey, “The Happy Warrior”, former Vice President, former presidential candidate, and, in Jimmy’s time with him, the mentor and Father-in-Law of Mr. Carter’s estimable VP Fritz Mondale. So one night, Jimmy’s working alone with Humphrey in Humphrey’s ancient Senate sanctum. The phone rings. Carter and Mondale then were in charge of the Free World and the old Progressive war horse Humphrey, in his last days in office, personally answers the telephone. It’s President Carter on the line. Jimmy the press guy motions to leave, deferring to the privacy of the two great leaders. Humphrey cups the phone and whispers to his press flack to stay put.

    So this is what the newspaperman gathered, and heard. Carter had called about the upcoming bill to sustain farm price supports, a subject upon which Humphrey had been the undisputed authority since the New Deal. The Senator, having answered the call with a proper, “Yes, Sir, Mr. President, what can I do for you”, etc., the proceeds through a succession of e.g. “yessirs” and “that’s corrects” and “no, sirs” and “no, sir, I wouldn’t do that’s”. Finally the press secretary hears Humphrey wind up the White House call with, “Yes, Mr. President, I think that’s the way it’s got to be. All…all right Mr. President. Yes, Sir. Yes, Sir. All right, then. Good night to you, Sir. My very best to the First Lady”.

    And the Humphrey hangs up the phone. And sighs. He then turns to the press flack, saying, “Jimmy, sometimes…I’m afraid that man’s just a…GOD-DAMNED-BAPTIST-PREACHER!”

    So maybe, Alex, that story goes a fur piece toward explaining what became of the high hopes of 1976. Enter Reagan.

  32. len says:

    Some perspective on politics in the South: my only fully blooded sibling just informed me that I have offended my family and must accept the guilt and shame for supporting Obama. He’s serious.

    That’s what they do here. If one stands up to the racism, it’s civil war. Quite real. Christmas here will be quieter than it has in all of my life. They make it personal.

    So be it. I’ve got kids and I don’t want them to grow up in the bigoted murk and intellectually stunted awareness I did. No fuckin’ way. It stops. I am sick at heart but this is the right thing to do and nothing will change until we start doing this in Alabama. Alleluia.

    The Republicans didn’t think the Democrats would fight. They were wrong. They thought they could run a liar and he could win because they hate Obama so much they would elect a liar rather than accept the reality that Obama is a good President, a good man and will still be a better man than Mitt Romney win, lose or rained out.

    Go vote. It matters.

  33. Hugo St. Victor says:

    I’m really sorry, len. I for one realize how seriously you mean it. It’s still so hard, in the modernized — no longer the Modern — Deep South to put up with hideously mis-educated men and women who openly want our Nigger Communist President dead. Our Tennessee Wm. Shakespeare, as you know, has written and sung about his hard growth out of a (then beautiful) Ft. Worth where the Right Wing magnates — he and I knew some of them in our Youth — who openly plotted the murder of John Kennedy, and boasted following his public beheading in the presence of the man’s wife. My God, how the animus runs deep and hot-blooded!

    Two things about your account that rub even me, a surfer from coastal California, just raw. My Arkansan-Tennessean grandfather who largely raised me, and my swank Angelino dad who didn’t. Neither would put up with racism, nor even with racist slurs. And their respective reasons for their impatient intolleration both had origins in their experiences of the South. The details, I think, belong for another, more personal day. But I will say for now that both men were determined that their offspring become proud American democrats and therefore enemies of xenophobic disease. Even the cadences of their voices unconsciously conveyed a straightforward, American speech applicable alike to all persons young and old, insiders and outsiders alike, ever consistently, unapologetically. Here in Gingrich Land they’ll jail you for that, whenever it’s conspicuously combined with unashamed intelligence or artfulness.

    You know exactly what I’m saying, as do I dig your drift particular to your own situation, and again I’m sorry for that. You’re right: it’s non-negotiable, and folks like you and me must not be expected ever to give an inch. It’s the old bad backyonderisms which at last will burn away. Not our Humanism, our commitment to the young, our love of this country as a whole.

  34. Hugo St. Victor says:

    And personaly I concluded that Barry Obama, like Tony Villa of East L.A., is a lifelong slacker, class dodger, inferior code-switcher and sham politico who’s bullshitted his way to fame & fortune as beneficiary of his hinky political patrons who’ve groomed him through an extravagant yet brief string of utterly undemanding sinecures and sweetheart scams. Other than that, the man leaves a good legacy of dedication to what’s best in the Democratic Party save his astonishing animosity against the Constitution in the teaching of which he persists in calling himself, quite impossibly, a “Proffesor” by Age 36. As a hardass unionist, I do appreciate his revitalization, both De Jure and De Facto, of our discredited and beleagured Movement, and I don’t doubt that Mitt Romney immediately would set out to break us.

    But the Times they’re a-hard and damned perilous, and an experienced adult is needed now, warm fuzzy anti-racism being, however important, importantly penultimate among our due priorities. And in any case, why should Arlo alone be the White Buffalo, the lone Good Republican? I’m the first Episcopalian in my old Colonial family, the first journalist, and the first to work faithfully for Democrats and the Democratic Party. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Despite the glacial, even solitary, holidays. My enemies and neighbors are not of my choosing, though by Grace I choose to love them. My remaining family members are not of my choosing either. But I choose now to make enemies, neighbors and family members very much of my own choosing.

    Surely that’s not only Christian, but almost definitively American. Don’t Fence Me In!

  35. len says:

    Our educations can obscure our common sense, H. We’re too facile with words and too enarmored with print.

    Plainly, with some notorious exceptions like NDAA, Obama has been doing his job. The racism and vitriol laden on that performance by half of the country speaks ill of us. The unwillingness to see how far we have come socially and economically because of what he has done and the willingness to give this country back to those who dishonored and robbed it speak ill of us.

    If Obama wins, I will be relieved. I will not feel good. The rotting side of our culture is on display for all the world to see. This is what is wrong with America. This is what I’m voting against. It isn’t a cheap gesture in a state that will overwhelmingly display its ass today, but it is right. And so it goes. The grigori sing a sad lament.

  36. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Our educations also can delaminate their own veneers, calling us back to our roots in reason, cooperative problem solving, love of our People top to bottom. For example, I myself am formally trained in Thomism, Biblical theory and exegesis, yet I am a street chaplain. I survived the onslaught of money-awed Stanford Positivists and Sophistic number sellers, yet I remain a principled and inveterate anti-credentialist. Was schooled in the more ridiculously statistical, embryonic forms of American historiography, yet am a happy tramp Americanist and journeyman reporter. Was taught that “Education” is a Science and a proper Discipline, yet because I continue to insist that education simply is cultural acquisition and sharing, I’m disciple and impressario of nonformal learnings of all kinds, in all places, for all people.

    Our educations are for naught and Nazism if they be not for the love of learning and Love in Caritas. Our People are good. They deserve to have their culture back, the better to make more of it. Our political and pecuniary subcultures are mean as hell, and they deserve to feel the wisdom of the immensely broad base of sensible democracy owners, knowing business builders, and informed, practical and ethical consumers. I don’t see what formal education and expensive training have to do with any of this.

    If anything, Citizen Obama’s pretentious miseducation undid his folk wisdom. But it will not undo ours, thank God.

  37. len says:

    I don’t see what formal education and expensive training have to do with any of this.

    Because when a mule understands three words it makes them stubborn if you use twelve and angry if you repeat four. Don’t get me wrong; I love poetry but songwriting makes me ever more aware of my excesses.

  38. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Message received, my friend. Your lyrical line, “the grigori sing a sad lament” is however stunningly beautiful, and expressive of your point.

    len I really don’t sweat today’s outcome. I figure we know the strengths & flaws of both men, both parties. I wouldn’t belabor if folks would just stop being so splenetic about an old political party whose saddle is so unfamiliar to their chafing seats. I’ve spent much more effort trying with Rebublicans to settle them into Obama and to stop attacking our C-in-C than I’ve spent trying to suggest that you folks try to see his worrying deficiencies. But then I spent years defending against Republican paranoids and bigots the honor of the Democratic Party and its leaders. So, as Twain gave to Col. Sherburn, “I reckon I’ve seen the average, all ’round.”

    I’m just lucky that my county judge saw to it that no intollerant Georgia lawbreaker could keep me from voting, that’s all. Most people I know just couldn’t imagine how much my own franchise means to me. We’ll jail the crackers for having tried to take that away. And legislation to follow, I assure you.

    As for the uses and misuses of education in America, I just shot my bolt, in reponse to your corrective. That’ll be my last say on the matter. At this table.

    Good luck tonight, sincerely. Every fierce, energetic American partisan is my friend.

  39. Alex Bowles says:

    @Hugo St. Victor

    Illuminating story about Carter – many thanks for sharing. Sorry I can’t help you with the turtlenecked ones. But it’s good to see you back here.

    And len, waking up today, didn’t you feel a hint of joy? This wasn’t just another election. After all, a court-ordered presidency was an unprecedented curse, and the results spoke for themselves. Governance simply atrophied, and in every place it did, disasters emerged. Voting for Change isn’t the same as delivering it. That took another solid four years, and remained touch-and-go until the very last minute.

    There’s relief in this, bone-deep relief. And I can’t imagine that you’re not feeling some of that.

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