Power Play

Trump loses with *Women, African Americans, Latinos, Asians, Millennials, Gays, Muslim Americans, Disabled Americans, Rodeo Clowns and Three Legged Dogs, but manages to pull out a win with nothing but White men (*and 53% of White women…). WTF?

Coalitions are difficult things to create and even more difficult to maintain. Mostly because self interest will almost always negate common cause. So the trick to creating and maintaining an effective coalition is to link the self interests of many, often disparate groups with a common cause. In other words; make them think that your cause serves and furthers their self interest.

Blue collar, white collar, college educated, non-college educated, rust belt, bible belt, heartland, elites, Republican, “Reagan Democrat”

None of those labels really mattered very much to Trump.

For Donald J. Trump the through-line to creating and maintaining his coalition was quite simply POWER. Specifically the overarching fear of White people that they are losing their dominance in a country in which White people have held all of the power since the founding of the republic.

The narrative for Trump’s campaign was already in place.

This is a critically important point because it served to expedite what is perhaps the most difficult and time consuming part of any political campaign: Fashioning the campaign’s theme and and narrative.

Fear masquerading as a “desire for change” became Trump’s sub-textual narrative. The concept of stoking and playing on that fear made for an effective narrative because it was already there, in place when he arrived on the scene. He did not need to create a narrative that he needed to sell or explain to people. All he needed to do was push a button. He knew exactly what and where that button was and he pushed it hard.

The fear of the loss of power at every level and aspect of the lives of many White people in this country is at the root of Trump’s win and also accounts for the stealth nature of those voters for the pollsters.

I mean think about it; Who the hell wants to admit to themselves, much less a stranger that is asking you to divulge your political preferences and the reasons associated with those leanings, that you feel powerless to shape or control many aspects of your life and are existentially afraid of losing your ethnic dominance in society? Hell, how many people are even really introspectively honest enough with themselves to make that realization?

Conversely, Hillary Clinton attempted to create a coalition using the opposite formula; that being inducing people of different groups to all put a somewhat nebulous common cause above their own self interest.

That only works if your campaign has a theme and a narrative that are truly inspirational on a gut level. Barrack Obama did, Hillary Clinton did not.

The reasons why she did not are many. But the short answer is baggage and a weak brand.

Barrack Obama, despite having a funny name and being a Black man with relatively little experience in the political arena, had very little actual baggage. So his inspirational narrative sparked the interest and energy of a diverse coalition of people and so eclipsed what baggage he brought to the campaign. In addition, his brand; HOPE and CHANGE connected viscerally with people struggling to find a handle on the turbulent times and was exactly what people needed after the complete demoralization of the Bush presidency.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, despite having what seemed on paper to be a compelling narrative; which was her being the most qualified candidate in perhaps the history of the republic in addition to being the first woman in history to be nominated as the candidate of a major political party, had enough baggage (both actual and fictional) to fill a train car. That baggage eclipsed her poorly formed inspirational narrative which was never clear to people on a visceral level, leaving her already weak and suspicious coalition very little reason to forgo their self interest and sign on to her cause.

Point of clarity: When I say that Hillary Clinton had a poorly formed narrative I mean that it was not connecting with an existential condition of her coalition. In other words she had to keep explaining why that mattered to people and how it would improve their lives.

Add to that a deep resentment among a key component of her coalition (voters aged 18-35) over the perceived (and actual) undermining of their preferred candidate (Bernie Sanders) by his own political party and you have a recipe for failure.

In addition, her brand; STRONGER TOGETHER is something straight out of a team building retreat playbook. It’s nice and morally accurate but it offers nothing to speak to the self interest of an electorate that has struggled and suffered through a difficult recovery with very little to show for it and that becomes an even steeper climb if you want your message to resonate with a portion of the electorate that sees “rugged individualism” as a cornerstone of the American mystique.

Many people that she badly needed to connect with simply did not ever see her as the Avatar of change in their lives.

Her seeming reluctance to embrace the policy agenda of Bernie Sanders, a wildly popular candidate with a huge and ferociously loyal following, along with her failure to throw those followers a bone by selecting a running mate that could inspire and motivate those voters to come over to her camp (I like and respect Tim Kaine but inspirational he ain’t…) and the result was a campaign that was doomed to lose momentum  instead of gaining it over the long and brutal slog to election day.

Her failings as Secretary of State, her historical controversies and her tendency to be secretive and equivocal, even in areas of her private and political life that are quite benign, only served to provide fertile ground for Trump and his surrogates to flog the narrative that she was “crooked” and deceptive.

“But what about Trump” you say! “He has enough baggage to fill Trump Tower twice.”

True. Donald Trump is not without baggage. To be sure, he brings with him all of the dark and lesser tendencies of our nature as a people and as Americans; Racism, Bigotry, Misogyny, Homophobia, lechery and debauchery. He has defrauded and lied to people in every facet of his life both public and private, on an epic scale.

But here’s the thing;

Donald Trump, while being compromised morally, legally and politically, undoubtedly embodies, for much of White America, the television caricature of “POWER” in all of the possible definitions of that brand. And make no mistake, power is very definitely the heart and shriveled soul of Trump’s brand. Don’t believe me? Well here is a simple exercise to prove my point: take any edifice that Trump has plastered his name on in gigantic all caps garishness, cross it out and in it’s place use the word POWER. I think that will illustrate my point quite effectively. Even his campaign slogan; “Make America Great Again” can easily be crossed out and replaced with “Giving Your Power Back To You.”

And giving them back their power is a very seductive message, both overtly and covertly, for those people that are deathly afraid of losing it.

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PESD: Post Election Stress Disorder

Not long after I moved to California (in truth it was about a week…)

…I came out of my new apt to find that my brand new car had been broken into during the night and the tape deck (it was the 80’s) and everything else in the car (including my new sunglasses) had been stolen. The door was badly damaged as they had used some kind of pry-bar to break in. Half of the dashboard had been ripped to pieces and the car wouldn’t start because the wiring had been so badly damaged when they ripped out the stereo. A whole new ignition had to be installed. The door had to be replaced and the new paint never matched the rest of the car after the repair.

I was shocked and sickened. I felt violated and scared. I was full of rage that someone who I didn’t know, whom I had never met and to whom I had never done anything, would do this to me.

I grew paranoid and mistrustful and I was filled with a vague unease for years after that experience. It shook me and it changed the way that I looked at the world in a very fundamental way.

I feel that way now.

I feel like some evil motherfucker has broken into my country and stolen something from me. I feel angry, helpless, mistrustful and paranoid.

And once again I feel changed in a way that I have never felt before. I have been violated. I fear that everything in my world has changed in a way that can never be put right.

I spent the night pacing and nauseous. I had to take a Valium and an Ambien just to knock myself out last night to get any sleep at all. I woke up today praying that I had just woken from some horrible nightmare and that none of it had really happened. The truth is that the nightmare is only just beginning.

I take some solace in the fact that I live in a state that voted overwhelmingly for the qualified candidate. We are a spot of blue in an ocean of red. I feel like a survivor from the Titanic and now our little lifeboat is cast upon a sea of hatred and ignorance.

It seems that I finally have one thing in common with Donald J. Trump. I think that we need to build a wall…

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Candy-gram

imageDonald Trump Jr posted a statement on social media recently using an analogy of skittles and refugees. In that analogy he poses a hypothetical that; before you sits a bowl of skittles and within that bowl, lurk three that are rumored to have been poisoned.

He looks into the camera and asks; “Do you eat the skittles?” [cut to video of frightened prairie dog]

The maker of Skittles responded to this post with an obvious but clearly overlooked fact on the part of Mr Trump Jr. That being that “Skittles are candy, refugees are people…”

True that!

This nonsense coming from a man who has never been at risk from anything more dangerous than a bad manicure and who regards Africa as his own personal killing field.

Syrian refugees are men and women and children that have done nothing beyond foolishly being born and raised in a country that is now being systematically destroyed in a campaign of relentless and indiscriminate violence.

Here is the thing, Junior…

To sit in your plush office and pontificate on things, about which you know nothing and about which you care even less, and equate the abject pain and suffering of innocent people desperate to leave a war-torn region which is now little more than a bloody pile of rubble that they used to call home, with your inane metaphors about toxic candy, is not only foolish and reductive, but it is also the definition of callousness and indifference.

Mr Trump; if you are worried that your candy may have been poisoned don’t blame it on the candy. Asshole!

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The long wait is over…

Keith Olbermann is back in the ring with a new webcast that he is doing as a political correspondent for GQ

Welcome back Keith. We’ve missed you.

 

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Basket Case

Are Donald Trump’s supporters Deplorable? Perhaps the real question should be; is there a basket big enough to dump these haters into…

Hillary Clinton told an inconvenient and uncomfortable truth recently at a gathering of the LGBT community. In the context of trying to explain the popularity of Donald Trump and the nature of his appeal to the rabid group of core supporters that follow him unflinchingly and unconditionally, she made a statement that half of his supporters could be categorized and placed into what she described as a “Basket of Deplorables.” People who’s motivation for seeing Trump elected seems to stem from their unbridled hatred for groups of people that they see as “the enemy.”

The media uniformly decries that statement as a gaffe on Clinton’s part and they lament that this will hurt her with the general electorate who will see this statement as an affront to their motives and beliefs. I for one, would like to commend Secretary Clinton for her candor and her longanimity with regard to this and other matters related to this carnival sideshow that is masquerading as a political campaign.

The Conventional Wisdom says that you can criticize a candidate but not his supporters. But that CW presupposes that those supporters could perhaps be in contention as potential supporters of the opposing candidate if they can be converted to an alternate point of view either during the election or as constituents after the election has taken place.

The CW says: “you are the president of the country not of your supporters.”

Really?

Is Barack Obama the president of the 60% of republicans who believe that he was not born in the United States and is therefore not really our legitimate president? They say that he isn’t. Who are we to argue with them.

The simple fact is that the Trump campaign is only a viable campaign because it appeals to the racists, bigots, homophobes, xenophobes and the various and sundry others that would prefer a revisionist version of “the good ole days” in which white people could lynch a black man (or Muslim, or homosexual, or Hillary Clinton…) in peace without a bunch of  bleeding heart, politically correct, Liberals ruining it for everyone.

Do these deplorable people constitute 50% of Trump’s supporters? I don’t know.

But here is the thing: Without that ferocious and vitriolic segment of his supporters in the mix, Trump would not control enough of the voting populous to sustain a viable Presidential run.

The simple fact is that the deplorable behavior that Clinton referred to is on display for everyone to see. I would direct you to this video as an example of the blatantly racist, bigoted, and yes, “deplorable” attitudes and behaviors that are common at every trump rally. These rallies are little more than well organized Lynch mobs.

The CW said that if Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation into law it would destroy our country.

The CW said that LBJ should not have pushed the civil rights bill or declared a war on poverty.

The CW said that the country wasn’t “ready” to elect a black man as President of United States.

The truth is that Conventional Wisdom is nothing more than a means by which the status quo can remain the Status Quo.

The Conventional Wisdom conveniently forgets that the only times in our nation’s history that meaningful change has ever occurred is when brave citizens and their elected representatives chose not to listen to the CW and instead named hatred and bigotry and ignorance for what they are, when they are encountered and understand that for us as a nation to move forward, those circumstances must be condemned, loudly and publicly.

 

 

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Narcissist-in-Chief

Love of country, patriotism, public service? These are motivating factors in wanting to be President of the United States. They are also concepts that have no meaning in the mind of a narcissist

…because those motivations represent a concern for the lives of others and for the country as a whole. Those motivations are fueled by outward looking emotions like empathy and sympathy. Those emotions do not compute in the mind of a narcissist. They do not serve the overarching motivating force of narcissism, which is to feed ego.

Donald Trump has no interest in public service, or in actually doing any of the hard work that is part of occupying the office for which he would be elected. The complexity and nuance of being the President holds no interest for Donald Trump. If it did he would have shown that interest by involving himself in running for congress, or for the Senate, or for Mayor of New York, or for Governor of New York. But in fact, not only has he shown no interest in holding any office of government other than President of the United States. He scoffs at the very thought of doing so.

Years ago, when asked if he would consider running for Governor of New York, Trump laughed and said that if he were to run for office he would run for “the big one.” When asked to clarify what that meant he said that “the big one” meant President of the United States.

“The big one…” Have three words ever been more telling of someone’s perspective on the meaning of holding (and serving in…) public office?

Why then, you could ask, would Donald Trump decide to run for President if he doesn’t actually want to do the job. The answer is, quite simply, to garner the biggest win available to him in this, or any other country. If that sounds reductionist and oversimplified I would refer you to any of Trump’s books, or for that matter any of the major speeches that he has given. The central theme in all of which is “winning.”

Winning in Trumpworld, is THE end that justifies the means.

Donald Trump wants to win an election. Period. Full Stop.

Doing the real work of running the country and forming a public policy agenda both foreign and domestic, well that is what Mike Pence is for.

Scared yet? Well, you should be…

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Balls, Balls, Balls…

Ok. I am not a huge sports fan, which is to say that I don’t know a lot about football. My thinking and interests tend to be more…shall we say…logic based.  I don’t understand the appeal of the game, I don’t understand the idolizing of players who, more often than not, are undeserving of such adulation and hero worship. I don’t understand the fanaticism and I sure as fuck don’t understand the ridiculous salaries. That said, this “crisis” about the balls is, in the context of a game and a mindset that is utterly mystifying to me, a real riddle wrapped in an enigma…

12.5 to 13.5 psi

That is the proscribed pressure for league regulation footballs. Apparently 11 out the 12 balls belonging to the New England Patriots were found to be 2 pounds under that parameter and that deviation from the regulation has fueled allegations of cheating.

OK, so here I find myself even more confused. Why is this a problem? To be more specific; why does anyone care what the inflation psi of the balls is? I understand that a ball that is slightly under-inflated is easier to grip and easier to throw. To that I say, great! Seems like better and longer throwing and a ball that is easier to catch would make for a better game. So why not tell the NFL that monitoring the psi of the balls is their responsibility if it matters so much or better yet, forget all of that nonsense and just tell both of the quarterbacks to inflate the balls to whatever psi that pleases them and play the fucking game. Cause here is the thing: at some point in this “soft ball” controversy it all becomes moot. Eventually, at some point in all of this ball “softening” the ball changes from being an actual football and slowly becomes a dog toy. So unless you are signing Golden Retrievers and Border Collies into the league (which now that I think about it, might actually make me a fan…) it is really just a question of a pound or two…

Or better yet; just toss the damn footballs into the nearest dumpster and use a Frisbee instead. Now there is a dog toy worth chasing and Bill Belichick can’t alter it.

OK, I think we’re done here…Problem solved. Pass the nachos. Are the burgers done yet?

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Je Suis Charlie

Charlie Hebdo:

January 6th, 2015: Circulation: approximately 50,000

January 8th, 2015: Circulation: approximately 5,000,000

“If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.”

“Si vous me frappez avalez, je deviendrez plus puissant que vous pouvez probablement imaginer.”

 Obi-Wan Kenobi
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No Virginia, there is no war on Christmas…

Only a lack of Christmas in the narrow minds and narrower hearts of men.

Christmas is perhaps the most misunderstood and misrepresented holiday in the entire panoply of top-tier American Holidays (nobody seems to know what the hell Cinco Di Mayo is all about either, but that’s another blog…).

Maybe it started out as Christians commemorating the birth of their messiah. But we are way past that now, because, just like Country music, if you want it to go “mainstream” then you gotta market to the masses (and I’m not talking about Midnight Masses…). The early Christians understood that. Basically, to enlarge their numbers and broaden their influence, Christians absorbed, Borg-like, the celebratory traditions of those that they wanted to “convert” to Christianity.  So, to keep all the new recruits placated, you align your celebration with the Winter Solstice and Saturnalia ( a Roman week-long time of lawlessness and good-natured carnage that took place in late December ), You borrow a tree from the Druids, you take some mistletoe from Norse mythology. How about a wreath from the Roman God Apollo, bring in Nicholas, stage left. He was taken from the Turks ( he wasn’t actually made a saint until the 19th century ). What’s that you say? You like to strip naked and go singing in the streets? Uhhh…OK, sure, why not…We’ll call it…hmmm…Hey Carol, what do think we should call this singing thing that these guys like to do?… Really? Whatever…

Here’s the thing: If you want something to be accepted “universally” then part of the price that you pay for that universal acceptance is “homogenization”. You lose specificity in favor of generality. In other words, at least in America ( and most of the free world…), Christmas is no longer the sole province and property of Christians ( if it ever was…).

But if you are going to keep harping on about “Jesus being the reason for the season” then you need to play it like Jesus.

You my friend, can save Christmas in four easy steps:

Step one: Stop whining about the Secular Conspiracy to Destroy Christmas being waged by Socialist, Marxist, Obama-Huggers. Nobody under the age of sixty with a functioning frontal lobe is buying into your right-wing, paranoid, self victimizing, Tea Party fever dream that there is a war on Christmas. War is a serious and dreadful thing. People die in war. People lose limbs and blood and friends and fathers and mothers and children in war. Stop demeaning the immensity of that truth with your bitter, petty, self-centered diatribe.

Step two: Turn off Fox and Friends and go out and actually help some people. People less fortunate than you are not lazy, takers that lay about on sidewalks and alleyways conspiring to take more of your hard-earned tax dollars by being homeless and hungry. If you spent even a little bit of the time that you waste listening to the miserly rantings of Bill O’Reilly et al and actually engaged with the world outside of your bubble, you would be forced to recognize the truth; that by lifting up the least of us you raise us all and enrich the whole of society. Don’t believe me?  Just ask Jesus.

Step Three: Open your mind and your cold little heart and accept that the true meaning of Christmas is about kindness and caring and a generosity of spirit. It is about finding the common thread of goodness that exists within all of mankind whether they are Christians or Muslims or Jews or Atheists or Buddhists or Shinto or Hindu or Wiccan or those guys that like to dress up like Star Trek characters. Christmas is not about making the world see and think as you do. It’s about recognizing the Universal Godliness in all things and bringing goodness and kindness and charity to those places where it is lacking. Even and especially within your own heart.

The simple truth is that the only battle being waged against Christmas is in the closed and narrow minds of those that honestly believe that Christmas is about having a Christmas party instead of a Holiday party, that you must say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays” that seeing a nativity on every corner is more important than the homeless man or woman or child that is standing on that same corner.

Step four: Do something nice for animals. They are the true innocence that is left in this world.

If you need evidence as to the rightness of this philosophy then consider the writings of one Charles John Huffam Dickens. That’s right; put down that tattered, sweat-stained copy of Atlas Shrugged and pick up a copy of A Christmas Carol. Because Dickens knew that in the end, Christmas is about nothing more than the renewal and redemption of the Human Spirit through selfless acts of kindness and love.

“Business!” cried the Ghost [of Marley], wringing his hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

Peace on Earth, good will towards men.

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Personal (safety) Shopper: Bring a White Guy

I’m an American, which means that deep inside me beats the heart of an Entrepreneur, an innovator, a craven opportunist. And no time of the year brings out the “true American spirit of Git’ er done.” more than Christmas.

That’s why I am offering a new service for the holidays. No, not hanging lights around the house, not gift wrapping, not even dressing up like a character from a Dickens’ novel and singing Christmas carols at your big Holiday party.

No, I am offering a service that is much more innovative, much more entrepreneurial and much more…shall we say…niche. After all this is the age of specialization. Now days if you want to make your mark in the service industry you must zero in on your target demo. So, ladies and gentlemen (or should I say brothers and sisters) I present BaWG (Bring a White Guy) “Your Personal (safety) Shopper.” (TM)

People of Color: Are you concerned about being able to make it safely out of the department store after making a high dollar purchase without going through a strip search ( or what we in the industry like to refer to as an “exit interview” )? No problem. Just bring me along. I’m an old white guy. Crow’s feet and a muffin top may not pull the ladies at the local nightclub, but it will imbue you with the consumer legitimacy that you will need to safely navigate a shopping spree at Barney’s.

For a small percentage of total purchases successfully made without a single 4th amendment violation, I will show up at your door with gray hair, wearing Dockers and a pair of beige Rockport “Mall Walkers” and escort you safely through your shopping experience.

Don’t spend another shopping season being chased down by Paul Blart. Call BaWG and “shop like a white guy!” (TM)

 

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