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      Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – March 19, 2023 by Tony Wikrent   Global power shift China Leads A Successful Middle East Summit Ian Welsh, March 16, 2023 Something which has slipped past most people’s radar is that China recently acted as the intermediary for peace talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The two countries have been at each other’s throats f […]
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Nightcap- Friday in February

whiskeyThe days are lengthening and the light is lasting longer but sometimes I just want a lowlight place where I can forget my cares, have a drink and relax with some good music. Joe’s always fits the bill. There are no ferns here. Just a long polished bar and some scattered tables in the shadows.

Tonight’s singer has an unusual sense of timing. She sets up a sort of tension that keeps the listener waiting for resolution. Such are our times.

Set’em up, Joe. I’ll have a Maker’s Mark. What’s new?

That’s it, I’m taking Countdown off my DVR schedule

I’ve watched Keith Olberman faithfully for a couple of years now and I used to think that David Shuster was a pretty good reporter. But the Obamagasm and testosterone poisoning on DailyKos and other of the Big Blog Stores has infiltrated Countdown and MSNBC in general and made them a less credible source of news for me.

It’s very annoying. First it was the major network news programs that couldn’t be trusted, Fox never was, CNN started copying Fox to remain competitive and we progressives had nowhere else to turn. Then MSNBC started to take up the cause for us and Countdown delivered brilliant commentary channeling our frustration and anger.

They are channeling something else now. The skewed coverage of the primary elections is apalling and very disappointing. In an effort to increase the bottom line, they have latched onto the Obamania inspired circlejerk of the Big Blogs. It doesn’t seem to bother them that the voters of the big Democratic states are voting for Clinton by wide margins.

I blame Jack Welch. The bottom line is everything to him. Countdown wouldn’t even exist anymore if a lot of us didn’t schedule him on our DVR’s and if the satellite companies didn’t collect data that GE uses to woo advertisers. So, buh-bye, Keith. I’d rather stick to C-Span or CNN than listen to another jerk call Hillary, “Babe” or accuse her of pimping her daughter. The frat boy crap has got to stop.

Better yet, I’m going to reset my DVR for Bill O’Reilly. Yeah! That’s the ticket! I don’t have to watch him, or at least I don’t have to be in the same room when I play the DVR back. Oo! Oo! I have TWO DVRs! I can program the other one to do the same thing! Oo! Oo! I actually have a dual DVR on my one TV in the living room and the other half of it is awaiting my new TV for the basement. Now is the perfect time to buy that third TV and set the DVR to pick up Billo on it.

3 DVR’s all recording BillO every frickin’ night for the foreseeable future. Boosting his ratings. Increasing his ad revenue. It will go straight to his massive head.

I want to hear KO and Shuster to cry uncle and make a sincere effort to get the rest of us back. Ooops! There will be no way I can tell they are contrite BECAUSE I WON’T BE WATCHING!

You want to know the worst part of the MSNBC turn to MAXIM Media on steroids? The worst part is that my 12 year old daughter was a faithful Countdown viewer. But if you think I’m going to let her self-image be tainted by this overt appeal to males at her expense, you are sadly mistaken.

I don’t know what the rest of you readers are going to do but someone’s got to draw the line. I’ll go first.

Update: It looks like David Shuster will be suspended. Why not suspend Tweety too while you’re at it? And have a written notice placed in Russert’s permanent record. It’s too late, guys. You’ve probably lost your female viewership at this point, that is, the portion not slavishly worshipping Obama.

GOP Opposite Day with Peggy Noonan

So, Peggy Noonan gets all irate because Hillary will not die. She refuses to eat her poison mushrooms. After all that the press has thrown at her, she keeps getting up. Here’s the money quote:

Political professionals are leery of saying, publicly, that she is losing, because they said it before New Hampshire and turned out to be wrong. Some of them signaled their personal weariness with Clintonism at that time, and fear now, as they report, to look as if they are carrying an agenda. One part of the Clinton mystique maintains: Deep down journalists think she’s a political Rasputin who will not be dispatched. Prince Yusupov served him cupcakes laced with cyanide, emptied a revolver, clubbed him, tied him up and threw him in a frozen river. When he floated to the surface they found he’d tried to claw his way from under the ice. That is how reporters see Hillary.

I can think of a couple reasons why Peggy Noonan is having problems understanding what’s going on here but it isn’t nice to call people names so I will refrain from saying that Noonan is intellectually challenged.

The thing is, just because Peggy and her fellow Villagers say a thing over and over doesn’t mean that it is true. For example, you can call a person a loser or say that she’s losing 6 times in the first two paragraphs but when the candidate in question wins NY, NJ, MA, MI, FL and CA it’s kinda hard to make that stick.

But more than that, who decided that Hillary needed to be dispatched in the first place? Certainly no one *I* know felt this was necessary even as far back as the 90’s. Oh sure, there were a lot of Villagers and Republican Elves calling “Fire!” back in the 90’s and there was a lot of smoke. But when it all cleared, it turned out that there was no fire. It was just a bunch of adults with the maturity of adolescents playing with a smoke machine.

Please tell me, Peggy, why should we “dispatch” Clinton? I think the country is starting to catch on to Republican Opposite Day and they’re not listening to the Villagers like they used to. After all, it was Peggy and friends who “dispatched” Gore and Kerry and gave us eight years of George W. Bush, the worst president in our country’s history.

Maybe they’re on to you, Peggy. Maybe when you do the Brer Rabbit trick and try to convince the public that nominating Clinton is a briar patch, it makes her all the more appealing. Maybe, that’s because you guys have lost all credibility.

And I find this bit particularly telling:

The Democrats have it exactly wrong. Hillary is the easier candidate, Mr. Obama the tougher. Hillary brings negative; it’s fair to hit her back with negative. Mr. Obama brings hope, and speaks of a better way. He’s not Bambi, he’s bulletproof.

I find this statement very odd given that Hillary is not allowed to go negative due to her gender. She’s held to a much higher standard on that count. You can *say* she played the race card but logically it doesn’t parse because why would she want to piss off one of her constituencies? It’s OK for Barack to play to identity politics but not so with Clinton. She can’t even aggressively court the female vote. Our media culture forbids it. So, why is it somehow “fair” to go negative on her? What makes it fair? What set of circumstances, character flaws, acts of corruption makes it “fair” to viciously and relentlessly attack her?

If it really was Opposite Day, we could read your column in the correct context: She’s winning, she *can’t* be dispatched because the media isn’t in charge anymore, the voters are. Voters like her, in spite of all your efforts and there’s no reason for her to concede with grace or anything else. You have no legitimate reason, other than she is a successful Democrat, to want to kill her off but you realize that she’s winning and that’s frustrating. And any promises or innuendo that you’ll go easier on Barack Obama because he’s black and the media isn’t into racism is a lie. You Villagers are like children with your hands behind your back and your fingers crossed as you cross your hearts and hope to die.

Must be awful for you to have Hillary melt your lovely wickedness.

The Asian Factor

I think I mentioned this before somewhere but among my asian friends in my local Creative Class suburb and working environment, Hillary Clinton is clearly the favorite. Now, a piece in the New Republic on Asian Alienation tries to make sense of this phenomenon. I’m glad someone is finally starting to pay attention to this but the author only has part of the story:

The most interesting theory I have heard for why Obama may have underperformed in Asian American communities came from Taeku Lee, the Berkeley political scientist. The Illinois senator has focused his campaign squarely on the theme of change, and on the promise of radically altering the status quo in Washington, D.C. Obama aides are not shy in arguing that their boss is leading a movement as much as an ordinary fight for the presidency. Rhetorically, at least, his campaign can seem almost radical. For ordinary Democrats fed up with eight years of the Bush administration, this has been his main selling point. But, in an interview yesterday, Lee gave a different and very interesting explanation for why Obama may have underperformed in Asian American communities. “Running on change is risky,” he explains. “It’s not the best way to sell your candidacy in some immigrant communities. Many people who just came to this country or who feel unsettled are looking to have their anxieties alleviated, looking for a sense of stability.” When I spoke with an aide to a California congressman whose district includes a large East Asian population, he agreed with the assessment. “Many of our voters think his pitch is too radical. They are ‘New Democrats’ for a reason.” It probably does not help Obama’s cause that many of the immigrants who came to America were fleeing “revolutionary” regimes.

There’s probably an element of truth to some of this. Many of my asian colleagues move pretty quickly to become American citizens and I think part of that reason is because they feel a sense of security here. They can have their opinions and they don’t have to look over their shoulders. They are building stable lives here and have a network of friends they can rely on. When they go back to China or India on vacation, they come back with stories about how good the food is but how cold the little houses are. The price of prescription drugs in India might be excellent for a visitor on a US salary, but the average worker in Hyderabad doesn’t make enough money to consider them less than expensive. The traffic is bad. Air pollution is bad. It’s nice to see family and friends but they seem happy to get back to their new lives here. It’s a nice place to visit but they wouldn’t want to live there.

But there are some interesting things about well educated asians that I think point to why they are voting for Clinton in overwhelming numbers. Here are my guesses:

  • Unlike my American colleagues, Asians are well-versed in politics. Indians in particular follow politics like sports. They love the horserace. They know all of the players and pay close attention to everything that is said. Chinese colleagues will corner me at lunch and make me tell them everything that’s going on.
  • Asians, even the ones who are citizens, are painfully critical of their fluency in English. Most of my colleagues are very understandable but there is an element of English that they are still struggling with. One of my French colleagues told me once that he switched to English to accomodate his American colleagues but at the end of the day, he was exhausted by the effort to translate everything and keep up. I think there is an element of this with Asians as well. So, they may rely more heavily on appearance and body language. I can’t tell you how many times they pointed out a little detail in a debate or campaign appearance that I completely missed. But because they are more consciously aware of these things, they are less swayed by clever spin and turns of phrase. Nothing gets by them.
  • They have a very strong work ethic. They’ve been through the wringer in their native country. When you have to compete against hundreds of millions of peers to get into the elite universities, to even get a shot of studying abroad, you know how important it is to work really hard towards your goals. Hillary is a worker and they might identify with that in her. She’s also a policy wonk and it’s very difficult to fake fluency in a particular area of expertise. They like Obama’s freshness and charisma, but they will side with the smart, hard-working girl. She put in the hours and it shows.
  • One of the biggest reasons why Hillary is a favorite among asians is because they have gotten beyond the gender factor. Many asian countries have elected female leaders such as Indira Gandhi, Benazir Bhutto, Aung San Suu Kyi, and know what personal risks they take to defy cultural expectations and take the reins of government. So, they are comfortable with a female leading a country. They think we are hypocrits.

So, there you have it. It doesn’t surprise me that Hillary won NJ, NY, MA and CA with their help. And I wouldn’t be surprised if she had a better than expected performance in VA or NC. A lot of asians in the biological sciences start their post-doc training at places like the NIH in Washington and NC has the Research Triangle where they may also be found in large numbers. They take their new citizenship rights very seriously and vote. So, maybe Virginia is going to be closer than the Obamaphiles think.

Hillary Breaks Down the “Fourth Wall” and Reaps Big Rewards

grassrootsTaylor Marsh and others report that Mark Penn and Terry McAuliffe are stunned by the gestures of support that the Clinton campaign has received over the past couple of days with the $7M in donations. Actually, I think we can do better than that. I could definitely donate a little more but what’s the point of doing it all in one shot? It’s more fun this way to see what a little filthy lucre does. It’s like immediate feedback. Then I want to send more the next time. Instant gratification. It’s about as close to a gambling addiction as I’m ever likely to get.

But where was I? Oh, yeah! The genuine surprise of the Clinton guys. First, I’d like to get this out of the way: I’m not too terribly fond of political consultants, but unlike the Big Blog Stores, I’m not singling the Clinton guys out for special antipathy. I think David Axelrod is especially loathesome with his ratlike profile and cheesy mustache. And future serious candidates should be advised to stay well away from twice-a-failure, Joe Trippi. So, Mark and Terry should not get it into their heads that we’re doing anything for them.

No, this was all for Hillary. I mean, damn!, she’s put up with a lot of $#%@ this election season and I swear she’s just getting better all of the time. She is starting to blossom into a really good campaigner. Besides that, she’s the best qualified and it shows whenever she and Obama stand next to each other and they open their mouths. So, why wouldn’t we want her to “pick herself up, dust herself off, start all over again”?

I’ve always been a little annoyed by the top down, centralized, scripted, careful, take-no-chances behavior of the Clinton campaign. It was insular, too professional, antisceptic. But once the battle was joined and they started having moments of crisis where they realized that throwing money at the problem wasn’t going to fix things, something remarkable happened. She started to drop her guard and what we started to see was not the polished politician but a smart, dedicated, warm, humorous, feisty human being who wasn’t going to give up without a fight.

In theatre terms, she broke down the “fourth wall”. Why it comes as any surprise that we would want to help her out now that we see who we’re fighting for is a mystery to me. It must be hard to trust us after all of the years of vitriolic attacks from the right and recently from her own party. But there are more of us supporters than she knew and we, her grassroots, have just been waiting for this opportunity. All she had to do was put her faith in us like we’ve put ours in her and ask for audience participation.