The Donald, and The Hill

PALM BEACH, FL:  Newlyweds Donald Trump Sr. and Melania Trump with Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bill Clinton at their reception held at The Mar-a-Lago Club in January 22, 2005 in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Maring Photography/Getty Images/Contour by Getty Images)

PALM BEACH, FL: Newlyweds Donald Trump Sr. and Melania Trump with Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bill Clinton at their reception held at The Mar-a-Lago Club in January 22, 2005 in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Maring Photography/Getty Images/Contour by Getty Images)

This is a fun picture, don’t you think? The Donald and The Hill are the two wearing what you could call shit-eating grins, but Bill quite conspicuously has his horndog hand clamped firmly about the bimbo-du-jour’s waist. Rather glaring, really. He looks a bit abstracted. Is he thinking about Trump’s small hands? Is he telling himself, Y’know, this could actually happen? She did call me Mr President. That’s always a good sign.

A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words; and they are right, as they nearly always are. Trump and Hillary come from the same world, and they aren’t so very different. Leverage artists, who have done pretty well by parlaying one corrupt deal into another.

People keep asking me, what would you do, if it were Hillary against Trump?

I always say, I’d take a nap.

But they persist. Thought experiment: suppose you had to vote? Suppose they held a gun to your head?

Oh, easy, I say. Trump in a heartbeat. There’s no telling what he would do, but we know exactly what we can expect of Hillary.

Nader upon Sanders


My poor old Lefty mailing lists are sad shadows of their former selves, Facebook and Twitter having devoured all, but one thing is clear: that to the last syllable of recorded time they will never be able to ignore a US presidential campaign, as they ought, no matter how tedious and inconsequential it may be; in fact, they will never be able to avoid being swamped by speculations, groundless assertions, labored Marxological comparisons with social democracy in the Weimar Republic, and so on.

Recently some mook on one of these lists passed along a link to a piece by Ralph Nader in the Washington Post. This was greeted by the chap who contributed it as an admission on Nader’s part that he, Nader, had been wrong to run a third-party campaign, and that Bernie was right not to.

Of course the piece says nothing of the kind, but people read what they want to read into what they read, as we all know.

Now I have always rather liked Nader, being convinced that he contributed a lot to the defeat of Vile Al Gore in, what was it, the Y2K election? Admittedly, we got Bush II instead, which was disagreeable. But still, it does one’s heart good to see justice done, however imperfectly, and whatever the cost. Fiat iustitia, ruat coelum! This response, I do believe, arises from our better nature, and though instrumentalists and pragmatists and lesser-evillists scorn it as ‘purist’ and ‘unrealistic’, I think we should cling to it. Chivalric, even Quixotic, feelings like this are what elevate us above the beasts that perish.

Or no, perhaps they don’t. Who knows anything about the inner life of the beasts that perish? The whales, as far as we are aware, don’t have primary elections. So they’re one up on us, to that extent. Scratch that about the beasts. Let’s say instead that an impulse to see justice done, a desire to do the Samson thing and pull down the foul reeking temple of Dagon around our ears even if we perish in the cataclysm, might conceivably elevate us to moral level of the beasts, and deliver us from our cowed, over-socialized human nature. Or, less misanthropically, elevate us to the status of human beings rather than mere citizens, programmed stooges moved here and there on the board by the skeletal dead hands of the Founding Fathers and their oligarchic Constitution.

Nader’s piece, linked to above, is actually worth a read. (When was the last time anybody could truthfully say this about anything in the Washington Post?) It’s all about the dirty ways in which the party duopoly maintains itself, and though we all knew about this, in a sense, a broad-brush sense, there are some interesting details which take one rather by surprise.

The shush

DEM 2016 Debate

This depressing excuse for an election campaigns daily sinks to new depths of triviality and inconsequence. The latest kerfuffle seems to be about Sanders telling Clinton not to interrupt him. A very serious sin, apparently. According to the Washington Post this shows what a deeply-dyed sexist old Bernie is.

A friend of mine who actually had sufficient stones to watch the debate tweeted that talking to his mom like Sanders talked to Clinton used to get him grounded. This seemed like an interesting take on the matter. Sanders and Clinton, surely, are much of an age, but apparently Hillary has some claim to be our collective mom. Perhaps not without reason?


Of course you will say, Oh, the Washington Post, and you will be right. That poor Ichabod of a former newspaper is so balls to the wall for Clinton that it’s embarrassing, and they play the gender card relentlessly.

At least the Times is less obvious about it. This is one of the many reasons why New York is a better place to live than Washington. We’re all equally unscrupulous and underhanded, but New York is more hypocritical; and hypocrisy, of course, is the tribute that vice pays to virtue. Washington is shameless. Dog-faced, as Homer says somewhere.

I occasionally interrupt people. But I know it’s bad, and when I’m called on it, I apologize, shut up, and wait my turn. Not always with the best grace, but still. Isn’t this what most of us do?

Most people also hate to be interrupted, and few react well to it. So even a non-fan of Bernie’s might have felt sympathetic to him on this occasion. From a few YouTube clips viewed for ten minutes just now, it appeared me that Clinton was badgering the alter-kaker — a form of elder abuse, perhaps?

His response seemed fairly moderate, on the whole; the response of one equal combatant to another. But there is, of course, a counter-narrative, to the effect that Clinton, in spite of her immense and ill-gotten wealth, her innumerable markers corruptly obtained from people whose hands you or I would never consent to shake, her media and Hollywood clout, and of course her unquestioned blood lust and wolfish competence — that she is the underdog, compared to some poor old Jew from Brooklyn, simply by virtue of her gender.

Maybe Bernie should play the anti-Semitism card in response. I’m a Jew. This is our body language. This is how we talk. Abraham taught us this. Check your privilege, shicksah!

Alas, Bernie is too aboveboard for that. Hillary, however, is not.

Respect for the dead? The hell with it


Nancy Reagan’s one good quality, so far as I am aware, was that she gave the best blowjobs in Hollywood, back in her days as an on-the-make starlet. This is according to Peter Lawford, who may have been in a position to know but who also, as a quasi-Kennedy, is hardly a reliable source.

I would like to believe that it was so, since I don’t like to believe that anybody is all bad. Perhaps it even explains the characteristic expression of halfwit blissfulness that old Ronnie nearly always wore.

Incautiously, I expressed this observation yesterday, in my first flush of enthusiasm for a post-Reagan world, and encountered a good deal of chilly disapproval, from friends who I am pretty sure had no use for Pa or Ma Kettle, and who are not prudes.

Some of my pals seemed to think this was a misogynist thing to say, though I understand that blowjobs are not a female monopoly, and are frequently given and received, across this broad land, by all sorts and conditions of mankind, and often with considerable satisfaction to donor as well as recipient. That is to say, I agree with what seems to be a pretty broad consensus that blowjobs are not just a contribution to the ‘publick stock of harmless Pleasure’, but a downright Good Thing.

In the Nancy Reagan case, the piquancy of her rep as a mouth musician is of course much increased by the hypocrisy factor. In later life she became identified, as everybody knows, with the slogan ‘just say no’, and emerged as a staunch advocate of traditional morality. Whatever that means. Perhaps it allows for blowjobs, but only under carefully controlled conditions.

Did I show insufficient sympathy for what a girl needs to do to get ahead — no puns, please — in a man’s world? Perhaps. I don’t have much sympathy with people wanting to get ahead, in general. It seems like a bad character trait to me. But of course even-handedness is a deplorable quality too. One law for the wolf and the lamb, etc.

Nancy always just struck me as a very bad person, and a deeply unattractive personality: cold, ambitious, unspontaneous, affected, manipulative, false, callous, mean-spirited, vindictive, ignorant and smug. So while it’s possible to imagine her honing her technique to a high level — she was never lazy — it’s difficult to imagine her ever giving a sincere BJ, a BJ for its own sake, as opposed to an instrumental, tactical, career-enhancing BJ.

Reflecting on that aspect of the matter, what might have appeared an amiable trait in another person takes on a different coloration. The thought of that ferret brain scheming behind the pliant lips has, shall we say, a chilling effect.

I think some of my friends may also have thought it was tacky or tasteless to take a whack at somebody newly dead. Perhaps, but I don’t see it that way.

There are things I won’t say about the newly dead. I won’t say I’m glad they’re dead, for example. Nobody deserves to die, though we all do.

Nor will I say I hope they burn in Hell. Nobody is bad enough to deserve eternal punishment, though plenty of people are bad enough, as I may have said before, for a good long roasting in Purgatory.

But there are also people bad enough to have forfeited all the usual courtesies owed to Samael’s more recent clients. The Reagans fall into this category. Bad garbage; and though I won’t say good riddance to them, I won’t forbear to remark upon the stench they leave lingering in the air.

Marching orders


Markos Moulitsas, the Duce of Daily Kos, shown above, has laid down the law for his troops, in a characteristically arrogant, managerial tone, with corporate cliches, sports metaphors and all:

If Sanders eats into Clinton’s big delegate lead by March 15, then we carry on. But if he doesn’t, then on March 15 this site officially transitions to General Election footing…. If you want the most liberal government possible, we aren’t going to get that this cycle in the White House, but we can keep building the bench down the ballot so that come 2024, we have lots of great liberals to choose from….

Even assuming the worst crazy shit people say about Clinton, fact is the next president will get to determine the Supreme Court’s direction for at least a generation, if not longer than that. It will be a new liberal Supreme Court that will overturn Citizens United, that will protect voting rights, that will protect labor unions, that will end partisan gerrymandering, that will undo the myriad roadblocks to citizens participation in our democracy — the very roadblocks that are keeping the Republican Party nationally relevant when they should be a rump regional party.

Did I mention the pony for everybody? And of course the notion that the Republicans ‘ought to be a rump party’ — unlike, say, the Democrats — sheds an interesting light on Moulitsas’ inner world, where one sports team apparently ought to win all the time.

This general order has a good many highly specific lemmata, which the rather Napoleonic little Kos doesn’t hesitate to spell out, with commendable frankness:

I will no longer tolerate malicious attacks on our presumptive presidential nominee….

Constructive criticism from the Left is allowed. There’s a difference between constructive and destructive criticism. Do I need to spell it out? … In general, if you’re resorting to cheap sloganeering like “oligarch” or “warmonger” or “neocon”, you might want to reframe your argument in a more substantive, issue-focused and constructive matter….

Saying you won’t vote, or will vote for Trump, or will vote for Jill Stein (or another Third Party) is not allowed….

If you are going to be pessimistic, you better support it…. Rank, unsupported pessimism is anathema to our data-driven, reality based culture.

If you are a Clinton supporter, spiking the football in the face of Sanders supporters isn’t a productive way to move us forward. After March 15… such spiking [is] bannable.

One wonders how many people are still drinking this authoritarian Kool-Ade. It seems likely that Daily Kos has dwindled a good deal since the Howard Dean glory days, but who knows? In any case, there will always be people who enjoy being bossed around in this fashion.

Surprise, surprise


Looks like it’s going to be The Donald vs. The Hill. Bernie flamed out, as expected, and will return, no doubt, to his placid round as a Democratic Party sheepdog in the Senate. The other Republican contenders, each more pathetic than the last, poor stiff scripted overthought nudniks, will have to hope they live so long as to try again.

Now of course the fun thing about this setup is that it’s Hillary’s dream. She couldn’t have asked for a better opponent. As has been observed before, Trump is the only guy scary enough to the average well-meaning white liberal to get him or her to turn over in bed and leave the house early and pull a lever for Hillary. Nobody, but nobody, really likes her; and nobody, but nobody, has any really hopeful expectations of her.

Hillary’s only card is the fear that somebody else — somebody with really strange hair, say — might be worse. She is, you might say, the pure Lesser Evil candidate — the person you love to hate only slightly less than the other guy. No positives at all; but perhaps slightly fewer negatives than Hobgoblin or foul fiend. At least from certain points of view — points of view confined, I suspect, to a rather narrow demographic.

There’s an old Yiddish proverb: It could always be worse. Deep wisdom here. It could — in fact — always, absolutely always, be worse. Misery is bottomless. Turtles all the way down, as the famous lady said to Arthur Eddington.

The Democratic Party’s appeal, these days, is like a reverse Madoff scheme. With your investment in our hands, say the Democrats, it will lose only 25% of its value per annum. The other guys, it’ll lose 26%.

There are no other investment vehicles, and you can’t cash out and put the money under the mattress and hope that conditions will improve. It’s Merrill Grinch or Spamguard. Take your pick.

You could, of course, write your investment off and walk away. This is the reasonable thing to do — you’ll never get it back, so why stick around and watch it vanish? But I recognize that this is emotionally challenging. People are notoriously irrational about their investments.