Primaries and secondaries


Of course elections in New York State are deeply corrupt and compromised, and always have been. So what difference do we think that made in today’s primary results? Some, I’m sure; but I daresay not much. Maybe the real result was 42/58 rather than 60/40, or whatever. The Clintons don’t spend their money without getting some value for it.

More to the point is the general screwiness of the primary system, even without corruption. I went trolling for figures about turnout, and all I could find was anecdotal burbling from poll-watchers and such vermin about how huge the turnout was. No real comparative numbers.

I expect it was in fact bigger than usual, for a primary. 12% of eligible voters rather than the usual 10%, maybe?

And then, of course, who were these people wo turned out? Curiously, old Bernie actually edged Hillary out almost everywhere except a few highly metropolitan counties — including, of course, my own home town of New York City, and Nassau and Suffolk, and Westchester, and a few others. Lots of factors here: Zionism, grizzled 70s-vintage female nationalists, professional party hangers-on, and of course that notorious thing with black voters (or rather, with eligible black primary voters, a fascinating study in itself).

The interesting phenomenon, I’d suggest, is that even in this deeply corrupt state, and even with the demographic skew of primary voters, Old Dobbin — hardly a charismatic figure — did as well as he did. Of course this doesn’t mean he has any hope of being President, or even of being the nominee. We all knew that, all along.

But it does suggest that there are a lot of people out there so fed up that they are willing to undergo the futile humiliations of a New York State democratic party primary in order to make some kind of statement — a statement, of course, bound to go unheard as long as it confines itself to the aptly so-called electoral ‘system’.

In fact, placing the statement in that context guarantees that it will go unheard. Those are the terms of trade. You played the game, you lost, the system has spoken, now STFU and hold your nose and come out in November for the ogress. I suspect that not a few Bernie voters will actually be relieved by this transaction — and its result. They did their bit, they uttered their little bleat of protest, and now they can vote for Baba Yaga with a clear conscience.


Asymmetric warfare


Hillary is an OK Goliath, but Sanders a very improbable David. Still, there’s a reason why these old stories come repeatedly to mind.

As one who has remained pretty much on the sidelines during this dogfight — though I admit to a sneaking hope that Sanders will put a serious monkeywrench into the gears of Hillary’s triumphal Juggernaut — one has the luxury of examining the rhetoric on both sides dispassionately. A thing which has struck me very forcefully: Clinton backers are extraordinarily abusive and insulting toward Sanders’ folks, as persons, in a personal way. But the converse is not the case.

Locutions like “Bernie bros” and “Bern victims” and “Bernbots” drop thick and fast from the lips of Hillary’s remaining admirers, along with the usual baloney about ‘purism’ versus ‘realism’.

As far as I can tell, Bernie fans don’t operate this way. They don’t abuse Hillary’s backers. Naturally, they do abuse Hillary. But that’s fair. Slinging brickbats at the other candidate is quite in order. Pissing on his or her supporters is another matter.

Of course this is a larger pattern, and one of long standing. I think it may be a specifically liberal vice. Anyone to the left of a given liberal is by definition a wild-eyed loon, probably mentally defective, certainly a menace to the Republic. This tendency, as we all know, took very concrete form in the US during the postwar witch hunts, when liberals busied themselves putting their former Popular Front comrades in jail.

The stakes aren’t so high now, of course — sadly, it’s more a matter of the narcissism of minor differences. So it seems unlikely that Hillary, once she scrapes into the White House, widely loathed and nowhere really liked, will start rounding up Bernie Bros on terrorism charges. Although, frankly, I wouldn’t put anything past a Clinton.

Do right-wingers do this? One really knows very little about that weird world and its inner life. Do ‘moderate’ Republicans raise their tails and spray the same kind of skunk-oil at Teabaggers that Hillarites do at Bernites? (Or Gorites did — and still do! — at Naderites, or pick your own example.)

Onesie Day


Had to spend some time in the car today, but fortunately didn’t have to drive. There was a copy of the the NY Times in the car, and one thing led to another…

So I read this piece, anyway, and it actually isn’t bad; certainly much better than the usual Times thinkpiece these days:

Imagine a frat house mixed with a kindergarten mixed with Scientology, and you have an idea of what it’s like.

That’s good, isn’t it? And on the right track, but there is so much more to be said.

It’s hard to capture the feel of the contemporary tech workplace. A sweatshop, sure, but a groovy sweatshop, with artisan coffee and so on, and the inevitable ping-pong table and Foosball apparatus.

The superhero theme is indeed much invoked, and there is a great deal else that tends to the attempted infantilization of millennials.

One invariant is breakfast cereal laid on for free in the refectory. Captain Crunch and the like.

A place where I worked for a while had a pajama/onesie day. A surprising number of the kids complied. Of course they all looked very fetching. A fit and shapely twentysomething in a onesie evokes in a dirty old man like me a clenching sensation of erotic vertigo, as if one had the hots for a strangely sexy Teletubby.

I got an unspoken dispensation by virtue of age. I would have looked like Bad Santa, and seriously impaired the overall effect. In any case — though this may be TMI — I do not own a pair of pajamas, and haven’t since I was about eleven years old. As for a onesie…. I’m not even tempted.

Where the Times piece erred a bit, I think, was the Scientology note. I don’t think the kids are buying it.

Of course I hope ‘The kids are all right’ will be my last words. One may be — certainly is — an old fart, but one doesn’t want to be that old fart, the guy who’s always kvetching about these kids today.

So maybe I’m reading too much in. But I think that sense of irony that the kids so notoriously exhibit is serving them well. The kids eat the breakfast cereal, but they eat it ironically, and on a deeper metaphorical level, I don’t think they’re drinking the Kool-Ade. They understand the game too well.