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November 9, 2012

soft-focus mitt romney

There's this thing that happens, something like Time Healing All Wounds.  You know, like John McCain spends an entire presidential campaign trashing the dignity and respect he spent forty years building up, but then hey! the elections over, and we can all be friends.

I call this the Tom Landry Effect, after the first coach of the Dallas Cowboys.  He was the coach for a long-time, and as a little kid fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers, boy I did not like Tom Landry and his suit and tie and his hat.  But then the years passed, and the Cowboys fired Landry about as unceremoniously as you could imagine, and then my opinion changed: you know it sure sucked getting beat by Tom Landry's teams, but he sure was a class act!

So, yeah, the Tom Landry Effect also applies to politicians.  Like the first George Bush?  You know, not so good a president, but he seems like a nice guy!  Even his son, to a certain extent.

This is starting to happen to Mitt Romney.  Check, for example, this What Will He Do Now piece, in which he is amiable and chagrined, genuinely shocked that his message didn't resonate with an America that he so clearly loves.

Well, eff that shit.  I know: let bygones be bygones, etc.  I'm sorry, Mitt Romney was a very easy candidate to oppose because not only was he recommending political planks that are anathema to me, but also, and more importantly, because he is a liar.  He would lie to the American people to there faces.  I don't mean standard politician prevarications and obfuscations, I mean deliberate untruths.  And when the media would call him on it, he would repeat the lie louder.  And if you think I'm exaggerating, remember that ad campaign he ran in Ohio last week saying that Jeep was shipping jobs to China.  That was a lie so egregious that Chrysler, righteously pissed off, gave their workers election day off to go vote.

So maybe Romney will fade into history as America's Favorite Mormon Grandpa, or he'll find another Olympics to run, or he'll get back into private equity and engage in one last round of creative destruction (wink, wink), but dude is forever in my book as a person of low moral character, one not to be looked up to.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:54 AM

November 8, 2012

on civility

I noticed yesterday more calls for civility than one normally sees in the past generation of political discourse, and I'm of two minds on it.

Generally speaking, civility is the rule, yes.  On the subway, at the grocers, stuck in a traffic jam — always.  It's just easier to get through life.  And civility should persist in the face of incivility.  That's hard, believe me I know, but frankly if you stick with it you'll live longer.

However, when it comes to political speech, let's talk about venue.  For example, political speech in all the situations listed above?  Probably not so good of a place for it, even if asked.  There's no margin in arguing with strangers out there in the world.  But then there's the Internet.

Now, I don't believe that All Rules Are Off on the Internet.  Some people do; visit a comments thread sometime.  But there are places on the Internet that are the digital equivalent of the crowded subway, and incivility in such places is not only incredibly juvenile but also cowardly as heck, thanks to anonymity etc. etc.  So yes!  We are pro-civility up to this point.

Where I think you can start to be a little less than civil are certain social media.  But even with that, it's not a universal truth.  Facebook, for example.  Nothing in the world is more tedious than a political conversation on Facebook.  I see much about politics in my FB feed, but I stay away from it, just out of deference to my extended family who are all a bunch of Obama-hatin' right-wingers who care deeply about freedom or liberty (I forget which).  I do not want to be fussing and fighting with my kinfolk, and if even a flame war breaks out on thread I started then I yank it and scold everyone.

Finally, look at the other social media platforms, primarily Twitter and Tumblr.  These are places designed for elective speech — that is to say, both the speaker and the listener have agreed to participate.  When I post something on Twitter, it's just the people who have agreed to follow me who will read it.  Think of it more as performance than conversation.  So when I say something that is less than civil — well, I'm sorry, it's part of my schtick.  And of the few people that follow me in any of these media that are what you would call conservatives: well, they agreed to follow and being sarcastic or snarky or, sure, uncivil, is what I do.  There's no bait and switch.  So either they can take it or they like being enraged.

And of course this is not set in stone either — when you start to wade into the issue of retweets and reblogs, then the speech is transmitted to a wider audience, and one that didn't explicitly agree to hear what the speaker said.  But, hey, it's a dangerous world out there, and don't say anything in public (like in social media) that you don't want to have to account for later.

I'm not saying that Twitter and Tumblr are places to go out and be a dick.  Like, saying something provocative about the election and throwing in the #tcot tag in hopes that someone who actually is conservative will stumble upon your provocation and leave with hurt feelings, that's just a dick move.  Don't be a dick.  But if you want to crack wise about say, Republican tears in the context of your digital affinity group, I really don't see anything wrong with that.

I'm a terrible Miss Manners, I know, but if I'm gonna take a stand on something it might as well be snark.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:10 AM

November 7, 2012

we're team awesome for one day

I held back from the traditional If You Don't Vote You Don't Get To Bitch post yesterday on the grounds that the only two people I know who were for sure not voting are Canadian.

But yeah, yesterday happened, and there is an awful lot to be happy about.  Mitch McConnell led his party through four years of sandbagging the president, and what's he got to show for it?  A bag full of excuses, and a internecine shitshow that's gonna take a couple years to unravel.

And the Tea Party?  Well, they picked up two seats in the Senate, with Ted Cruz from Texas and Jeff Flake from Arizona (again, McConnell's headache), but other than that, the purpose the Tea Party served was to muck things up.  Angry white people had a terrible night last night.  Good on them.

I hate to approach this from the perspective of Schadenfreude, but, you know what?  The Angry White Men, the inchoate know-nothing nativism of the Tea Party, and the Kajillionaires determined to co-opt them so they can Go Galt out in the open?  They want things that are bad for everyone, on the whole, bad for the country.  They only know winning and losing — they are not looking to have a conversation or to find a third way or anything like that.  So if it's gonna be their way or the highway, I'm opting for the highway.

And yesterday was the highway.  States voted in the right to marry who you love, a financial reformer took Teddy Kennedy's old seat, and the health care reform that Obama nearly sacrificed his presidency for is no longer in danger.  So let's all pretend like we're Team Awesome for at least one day.

And then it's back to work.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:55 AM

November 6, 2012

trolled again by wsj

So The Awl just linked up a WSJ column because it contains the line, "Note well, Democrats: If Mr. Obama wins, Hillary Clinton will never become president," which is just the kind of thing to whip up a small frenzy in Awl readers, but like a dummy I clicked and read the damn thing.

Turns out the thing has little to do be the presumed succession of Democratic presidents, but rather some deep deep thoughts about American Exceptionalism and the way that the president has or hasn't asserted the same.  You know, a more academic sounding riff on apology tours and credit downgrades and such.  But this is the kicker:

Fortunately, the truth about American exceptionalism isn't that we're the best at everything. It's that we're a nation founded on a belief in human liberty, which contains within it both the power to do and undo.

May well be the case but that has exactly zero to do with all the knuckle-dragging assertions of U-S-A U-S-A that one encounters in a normal day's worth of robust political discourse.  Yahoos married to American exceptionalism give not a whit about a belief in human liberty; they care only about winning.

Which the author conveniently reveals earlier in his piece:

For [NYT reporter Scott] Shane, asserting "exceptionalism" is the way American leaders gloss over the ugly realities of a country with (as he sees it) too-high rates of incarceration, military spending, obesity and child poverty.

What the hell is "(as he sees it)" supposed to mean?  That too-high rates of incarceration and child poverty are actually what makes America awesome.

The piece is a hot mess of assholery disguised as a considered opinion is what it is.  Ew.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:09 AM

November 4, 2012

jon husted is despicable

There's gonna be a whole lot of news flying back and forth in the next three days, with ongoing recovery efforts in NYC (it's worse than you know) and the presidential election and whatever else unexpected is going to happen, but here is a little story in danger of flying below the radar.

The Secretary of State of Ohio, a man named Jon Husted, has consistently and brazenly been working to block the vote.  He's resisted early voting (at one point even suggesting that GOP-leaning districts have longer early voting hours than urban districts).  This was fought in the courts, with Husted appealing up to the Supreme Court.  SCOTUS refused to hear the case; Husted lost.

Now Husted is deliberately misadvising poll workers in such a fashion as to invalidate provisional ballots pretty much across the board.  He is doing so in contravention of earlier court decisions, and in collaboration with Tea Party voter-intimidation project True The Vote.

This is being challenged by law suit, to be heard tomorrow, the day before the election.

An ideology that is predicated on the precept that not all votes are equal, that the path to electoral victory is by throwing obstacles in front of voters that do not agree, is not one that should be welcomed in America or any place else.

I'm sure that Jon Husted will have a long sinecure/career at the Heritage Foundation, like vote-blocking expert Hans von Spalovsky, but he should not be holding public office.

His term ends in two years.  Let's make sure to remember him, so that he may join Katherine Harris wherever she is now.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:04 AM