Tag Archives: “swing voters”

George McGovern’s death makes me yearn for real Democrats

George McGovern, War Critic Routed by Nixon in 1972

Getty Images

The death today of George McGovern, a progressive who ran unsuccessfully against incumbent President Richard M. Nixon in 1972 (and who is shown above right campaigning in 1972 with his first running mate, Thomas Eagleton), only reminds me, shortly before another presidential election, how far the Democratic Party has fallen.

It’s a perverse fact of politics that the possession of intelligence and compassion (concomitantly known as wisdom) often, if not usually, dooms an individual who is running for high public office.

I write that with the death of real Democrat George McGovern* in mind.

I was only four years old when in 1972 Democrat McGovern lost to incumbent Repugnican President Richard M. Nixon in a landslide. A landslide — and look how wonderful Nixon’s second term turned out to be: It was the Democratic Party’s operations that Nixon’s operatives were snooping into in June 1972 in the Watergate scandal, which ultimately led to Tricky Dick Nixon’s resignation in disgrace in 1974. (Nixon’s remains the only presidential resignation in U.S. history.)

The masses often get it wrong.

I don’t remember McGovern’s presidential campaign, of course. The first sitting president I remember seeing on television was Gerald Ford, who followed the disgraced-by-Watergate Nixon, and I seem to remember seeing a perpetually stumbling and falling Ford parodied by Chevy Chase on “Saturday Night Live” more than seeing the actual Ford himself on TV.

I remember seeing also Jimmy Carter on TV, and of course I remember Ronald Reagan and all of those who have followed him. But during Carter’s first and only term, I was an elementary school student who was interested in “Star Wars,” not in politics, and it wasn’t until Reagan’s eight-year reign during most of the 1980s that my political identity started to form.

My father always has been apolitical, not giving a rat’s ass about anything outside of his immediate personal universe, and my mother is one of those “swing voters” who seem to make their presidential picks based upon the logic of a Magic 8 Ball. (My parents reside in Arizona, where they belong, and I in California, where I belong.)

My point in bringing up my parents — which makes me feel like Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka when the topic of his parents is brought up — is to illustrate that neither of them even attempted to influence my own political views, with one of them being apolitical and the other being politically muddled at best, so the fact that I grew into a left-winger in the red state of Arizona, which is not conducive to the development of little “socialists,” suggests to me that a progressive political viewpoint is the natural path of human development, unless that path is obstructed (such as by committed right-wing parents who probably should be committed, a “Christo”fascist social environment, etc.) and the journeyer cannot overcome those obstructions, as I was able to do.

The first presidential race that I remember caring about was the 1984 race. I was in high school at the time, and I supported Democrat Walter Mondale over the re-election of Reagan, and I don’t know if I even could have articulated very well why I preferred Mondale over Reagan, since it certainly wasn’t my parents who influenced my preference for Mondale. If memory serves it was a visceral thing, my visceral, intuitive identification of Mondale as the truly wise (again, the compassionate and intelligent) candidate and Reagan as the poser, the phony.

Of course, in 1984 the very first presidential candidate whom I supported (not with money, because as a minor I didn’t have any [and are minors allowed to contributed to presidential campaigns anyway?], and not with my vote, because I wasn’t yet 18), very much like McGovern had done in 1972, lost to the Repugnican incumbent in a landslide.

Four years later, in 1988, Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, whom I supported and voted for as a college student (I remember having to sell my plasma as a starving college student, so I’m pretty certain that I wasn’t able to give Dukakis any money), performed barely better against George H. W. Bush than Mondale had performed against Reagan four years earlier.

Um, yeah, so I wasn’t off to a great start in life in my presidential picks, and for 12 long years as I was politically budding, I suffered through first Ronald Reagan and then George Bush I. (I never will forget graduating from college with a worthless degree but with plenty of student-loan debt during The First George Bush Recession of the late 1980s-early 1990s. These early socioeconomic experiences tend to color your political outlook for life, as the Great Depression very apparently colored my Scrooge-like maternal grandmother’s outlook for the rest of her life.)

Then in the 1990s came pseudo-Democrat Bill Clinton, who, although he benefitted from a rebounding economy (how much of the 1990s’ economic rebound was from his policies and how much of it was from the natural course of economic events I’m not certain), gave us such gems as NAFTA, welfare “reform” and DOMA — oh, yeah, and the Monica Lewinsky scandal, because having an intern blow you in the Oval Office never can blow up in your face.

So the first Democratic presidential candidate whom I supported — I rooted for and voted for Clinton in 1992 and in 1996 — and who actually won the presidential election was the so-called Democrat who destroyed the Democratic Party by dragging it so far to the right that the Democratic Party today looks like Repugnican Lite. Yay!

Bill Clinton benefitted from a three-way race in 1992, and won with a plurality, not a majority, of the popular vote, which today’s Democratic hacks forget or ignore. (Dems deny that third-party candidate Ross Perot, who garnered a-very-impressive-for-a-third-party-candidate 19 percent of the popular vote in 1992, harmed George H. W. Bush’s re-election bid, but it seems to me that the majority of Perot’s supporters were right of center and that most of them would have voted for Bush over Clinton. [If memory serves, my Magic-8-Ball-wielding mother voted for Perot, and my guess is that had Perot not been a choice, she would have voted for Bush or would not have voted at all.])

I get it that after a string of Democratic presidential defeats — George McGovern, Jimmy Carter (denied a second term), Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis — and after long time in the political wilderness during the Nixon/Ford, Reagan and Bush I years — the Democratic Party apparently wanted to pull away, far away, from the egghead image.

Democrat Adlai Stevenson, who lost to Repugnican Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 and again in 1956 yet sought (but did not get) the Democratic Party’s nomination yet again in 1960, seems to have been the eggheaded Democrats’ founding father, at least of our modern era, and indeed, Stevenson was the last presidential candidate from either of the two major parties who, despite having lost a presidential election, was nominated by his party to run in the very next presidential election. (These days, losing a presidential election very apparently means that you’ll never get another shot at your party’s presidential nomination again.)

The last Democratic egghead who lost — but who, surreally, actually won — a presidential election was, of course, Al Gore, who in 2000 won 48.4 percent of the popular vote to George W. Bush’s 47.9 percent, for a difference of more than 500,000 votes.** Only in the United States of America could the candidate who won fewer votes be made — crowned — president by the U.S. Supreme Court and his cronies (such as his brother, who was governor of the pivotal state that he “won,” and the chief elections official of that state who made damn sure that he “won” it), and this is yet another of those wonderful, deeply anti-democratic events during my lifetime that has shaped my current outlook.

So Al Gore’s win/loss in 2000 might have been the death knell for the eggheaded Democratic presidential candidate, but isn’t there some middle ground between a Bill Clinton and an Adlai Stevenson?

You might argue that President Barack Obama more or less fills that middle ground, since he’s known as both intelligent and non-nerdy (and, importantly, highly unlikely to be blown by an intern), but today we have Obama in a race for re-election that shouldn’t be nearly as close as it is, and probably wouldn’t be as close as it is had Obama spent his first two years in office actually delivering upon his ubiquitous 2008 promises of hope and change while both houses of Congress were controlled by his own party, a rare alignment of the stars that never should be squandered, and that even George W. Bush, dipshit that he is, did not squander. (Nor did Bush II, dipshit that he is, shit and piss all over his own fucking base, which seems to be the Obama administration’s and the Obamabots’ favorite fucking pastime.)

In Barack Obama, other than in empty rhetoric and false promises, we see precious little of the spirit of George McGovern that used to infuse the Democratic Party. In Obama we see instead the cynical, opportunistic, center-right spirit of Bill Clinton, an approach that the modern Democratic Party argues is the only approach that works, yet in actuality has no track record of effectiveness.

Again, in my book, Bill Clinton won in 1992 in no small part because of “spoiler” Ross Perot, and again, in 1992 Clinton garnered a plurality (43 percent of the popular vote), not a majority. (The only other president during my lifetime who garnered not even a full 44 percent of the popular vote was Richard Nixon in 1968, the year of my birth.)

Clinton again failed to get a full majority even in 1996 (he got 49 percent of the popular vote), and in his 1996 (and pre-Lewinsky) re-election bid he benefitted from having an incredibly wooden Repugnican opponent in Bob Dull — er, Dole — and he benefitted from a strong economy, which, again, I am not certain how much resulted from his economic policies and how much resulted from the natual ebb and flow of the nation’s economy.

Let’s reflect upon the fact that Barack Obama garnered 53 percent of the popular vote in 2008, which was better that Bill Clinton or George W. Bush ever did in the elections from 1992 through 2004. Obama’s 53 percent in 2008 bested Jimmy Carter’s and John F. Kennedy’s take of the popular vote, too.

How did Obama do it?

Again, he ran on a progressive (if too-vague) platform of hope and change. That was the bait.

Obviously, if Obama hadn’t perceived that that was what the majority of Americans wanted, that wouldn’t have been what he promised.

That progressivism is what the majority of Americans wanted, and that progressivism is what Obama Version 2008 promised (even if gauzily), even though his hacks (the Obamabots) love to engage in historical revision and deny that fact, but what Obama has delivered as president is just more Clintonesque, center-right, “bipartisan,” Repugnican-ass-licking bullshit, replete with Billary Clinton as his secretary of state and Bill Clinton as his current campaign surrogate.

So the news of George McGovern’s death early this morning at a hospice in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, at age 90 only underscores for me, with another presidential election only a little more than two weeks away, the fact that the Democratic Party of today is only a shadow of what it used to be.

I lament that the only presidents named George whom I got during my lifetime are surnamed Bush, and I have to wonder how George McGovern felt about the likes of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, who turned the Democratic Party into the center-right, corporate-ass-licking, lesser-of-two-evils monstrosity of a fundraising machine that it is today.

And I can’t see how I can honor the memory of George McGovern by blackening the oval next to the name of Barack Obama on the mail-in ballot that sits just yards from me right now as I type this sentence, yet unmarked.

*Wikipedia’s entry on George McGovern reports, in part:

George Stanley McGovern (July 19, 1922-October 21, 2012) was a historian, author and U.S. representative, U.S. senator and the Democratic Party presidential nominee in the 1972 presidential election.

McGovern grew up in Mitchell, South Dakota…. [After he fought in World War II] he gained degrees from Dakota Wesleyan University and Northwestern University, culminating in a Ph.D., and was a history professor. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1956 and re-elected in 1958. After a failed bid for the U.S. Senate in 1960, he was elected there in 1962.

As a senator, McGovern was an exemplar of modern American liberalism. He became most known for his outspoken opposition to the growing U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. He staged a brief nomination run in the 1968 presidential election as a stand-in for the assassinated Robert F. Kennedy.

The subsequent McGovern-Fraser Commission fundamentally altered the Democratic presidential nominating process, by greatly increasing the number of caucuses and primaries and reducing the influence of party insiders.

The McGovern-Hatfield Amendment sought to end the Vietnam War by legislative means but was defeated in 1970 and 1971.

McGovern’s long-shot, grassroots-based 1972 presidential campaign found triumph in gaining the Democratic nomination but left the party badly split ideologically, and the failed vice-presidential pick of Thomas Eagleton undermined McGovern’s credibility. In the general election McGovern lost to incumbent Richard Nixon in one of the biggest landslides in American history. Re-elected senator in 1968 and 1974, McGovern was defeated in a bid for a fourth term in 1980.

Throughout his career, McGovern was involved in issues related to agriculture, food, nutrition, and hunger….

Wikipedia also notes that anyone running against the incumbent Nixon would have had an uphill battle anyway, but after high-profile Democrats such as Ted Kennedy, Walter Mondale and Hubert Humphrey and other Democrats declined to be McGovern’s running mate, McGovern picked U.S. Sen. Thomas Eagleton, whom McGovern later replaced with Kennedy clan in-law Sargent Shriver after Eagleton’s history of treatment for mental illness came to light, casting doubt on his fitness to handle the presidency if it came to that, and raising doubts about McGovern’s judgment.

Wikipedia notes that Team McGovern didn’t vet Eagleton thoroughly and that Eagleton and his wife intentionally kept Eagleton’s hospitalizations for mental illness from McGovern. Bloomberg notes that less than a week after McGovern had proclaimed that he supported Eagleton “1,000 percent,” he replaced Eagleton with Shriver.

Bloomberg notes that McGovern later wrote in his autobiography, “I did what I had to, but the Eagleton matter ended whatever chance there was to defeat Richard Nixon in 1972. In the minds of many Americans the Eagleton episode convicted me of incompetence, vacillation, dishonesty and cold calculation, all at the same time.”

Bloomberg notes that “The Eagleton misstep ushered in today’s rigorous vetting of potential vice presidential candidates,” which doesn’t really explain what happened with Dan Quayle or Sarah Palin, but whatever…

**You might argue that the last Democratic egghead who ran for president actually was John Kerry in 2004, and while he does hail from Massachusetts, a la egghead Michael Dukakis (indeed, Kerry was Dukakis’ lieutenant governor), Vietnam vet Kerry ran such a war-hero campaign (the “swiftboaters'” defamation of him notwithstanding) that, in my estimation, anyway, he fairly escaped being branded as an egghead.

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Voters soundly reject the wingnut agenda

“Elections May Signal a Pause in Conservative Trend,” the Los Angeles Times reports of yesterday’s elections throughout the nation in an odd-numbered election year.

“May Signal a Pause”?

No, I think it’s fair to conclude that the political pendulum already has swung back to the left.

(Admittedly, though, we’re such a flip-flopping nation — thanks mostly to the “independent”/“swing” voters — that although Barack Obama’s re-election chances lately have been looking better and better, it’s not inconceivable that Mitt Romney just might be the next Flip-Flopper in Chief.)

In 2008, a left-wing wave enabled “Hopey-Changey” Obama to win “swing” states that Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry couldn’t win in 2004. The 2010 mid-term elections, by contrast, brought us Repugnican John “Cry Me a River” Boehner as the new speaker of the U.S. House and governorships that flipped from Democrats to Repugnicans, such as with Wisconsin’s Scott “Dead Man” Walker and Ohio’s union-buster in chief, John Kasich. An emboldened Repugnican Tea Party in 2010 also enacted unconstitutional and un-American legislation against those who commit the heinous crime of breathing while brown-skinned (a.k.a. “illegals”).

Yesterday, Ohio voters shot down Kasich’s union-busting legislation that was even more draconian than was Walker & Co.’s. (Walker & Co. at least had had the sense to exempt cops and firefighters, because the [mostly-white-]male-dominated professions are far more important than are the female-dominated professions, such as teaching and nursing, you see.)

Mississippi voters yesterday voted down a draconian anti-abortion measure (again: Mississippi); Mainers repealed a Repugnican Tea Party state law that would have ended the state’s long-standing same-day voter registration (and which was part of the Repugnican Tea Party’s nationwide campaign to suppress Democratic-leaning voters); and in what to me might be the greatest victory yesterday for the left, the architect of Arizona’s illegal (unconstitutional) and immoral anti-immigration legislation, Repugnican Tea Party state Sen. Russell Pearce, a stupid white man who until now has been the president of the state’s Senate, was recalled and replaced with a moderate Repugnican. The L.A. Times notes that it was Arizona’s “first recall election of a sitting lawmaker.”

(Disclosure: I donated money toward Pearce’s removal from office, even though I live in California. [Unfortunately, I was born and raised in Arizona.] And I did so gladly. [I also, late in the game, gave a donation to the campaign to overturn the Repugnican Tea Party’s labor-busting legislation in Ohio.])

So: Even in a state that is as red as is Arizona, there was a consequence at the ballot box for the race-based hate campaign that Pearce and his ilk started, the campaign that literally cost the state dearly (because of the bad name that the Repugnican Tea Party racists gave the state throughout the world, making Arizona seen, correctly, as the South Africa of the U.S. Southwest — and the resultant boycotts of the state). Pearce’s head on a pike should serve as a warning sign to those who dare to follow in his pointy-white-hooded footsteps.

In Wisconsin, in reaction to Walker & Co.’s assault on public-sector labor unions, while Democrats were not able to wrest control of the state’s Senate from the Repugnican Tea Party, recall elections that were held in Wisconsin this past summer did cost two Repugnican Tea Party state senators their seats (and no Democratic lawmaker lost his or her seat in the state’s recall mania). The state’s Senate now is comprised of 17 Repugnican Tea Party members and 16 Democratic Party members.

I expect the Democrats to recapture the state’s Senate in the November 2012 elections — and I fully expect Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to be recalled in 2012. (Wisconsinites can start the recall process against him in January 2012. I’ve given money toward that cause already, and I’m sure that I’ll give more, because the Repugnican Tea Party traitors need to continue pay the price for so stupidly and so treasonously having attacked the working class and the middle class.)

These off-year election victories — especially for labor (and thus for the middle class and the working class) and for those of us who despise the race-based persecution of brown-skinned “illegals” (and those incorrectly believed to be “illegals” because of the color of their skin) — bode ill for the Repugnican Tea Party brand in November 2012, as does Herman “Gropey-Feely” Cain’s ongoing crusade to soil the already soiled Repugnican Tea Party brand even further.

The cocky Repugnican Tea Partiers way overplayed their hand after their victories in the 2010 mid-term elections, and next year they’re going to continue to pay the price for their gross political miscalculations.

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Will the Orcs in the audience hurt the Repugnicans in November 2012?

The orcs attack in New Line's The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring - 2001 

Bloodthirsty Orcs in the audiences of the 2012 Repugnican Tea Party presidential primary debates scream out their demand for manflesh. Who, oh, who, will be their Saruman?

tried to watch all of the last Repugnican Tea Party presidential primary debate (which was Thursday night in Orlando, Fla.) so that I could blog on it. I really did.

But after about 10 to 15 minutes of the usual free flow of Repugnican Tea Party lies from those who would be king — we should deregulate everything, we should privatize everything, we should not raise taxes for the rich and the super-rich by a single red fucking cent, guv’mint is evil, labor unions are evil, welfare benefits are evil, etc., etc. — I couldn’t take it anymore and I had to close the live-streaming window.

I can stand to be in hell, where demonic lies reign, for only so long.

What’s interesting about the three Repugnican Tea Party debates thus far is that the biggest news that has come out of them — aside from not-ready-for-prime-time Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s lackluster performance — is the spontaneous outburts of hatred by the debates’ far-right whackjob audience members.

At the first debate, the audience burst out in raucous applaud when it was mentioned that as Texas governor, Perry holds the record as the most-executing top state executive. (Really, the cold-blooded, bloodthirsty Perry seems to take the title of “executive” waaay too literally.)

I watched that audience-reaction debacle as it happened live, but I missed the next two.

Apparently at the second debate, the audience burst into applause over the idea of letting someone without health insurance die because he or she cannot afford to pay for his or her own medical care.

Woo hoo! Survival of the fittest! It’s what Jesus would do — let the weakest among us die!

And at the third debate (after had I stopped watching it live), the audience booed Stephen Hill, a U.S. Army soldier who is stationed in Vietraq, after he asked a question (via video) regarding the U.S. military’s recently repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy — and they booed him because he is gay.

(You can watch all three shameful clips here.)

So the Repugnican Tea Party’s base — aside from the minority of treasonous plutocrats and corporatocrats who don’t want to pay their fair share of taxes but who want to continue to tank our nation’s economy at our expense for their selfish benefit, and who want to see the gaping chasm between the rich and the poor widen even farther — is comprised of bloodthirsty, cold-hearted, bigoted haters who nonetheless claim to be such great fucking “Christians.”

Will these shameful audience reactions hurt the Repugnican Tea Party brand in upcoming national elections? (After all, none of the fascists who are vying for the 2012 Repugnican Tea Party presidential nomination rebuked the audiences’ sickening displays during the debates.)

Salon.com editor and writer Steve Kornacki tackles this question, noting that as it is, only about a third of Americans view the Repugnican Tea Party favorably. This percentage seems about right to me (and is in line with recent polls).

In hypothetical November 2012 matchups against Barack Obama, even Michele “Like Deer in Headlights” Bachmann pulls in around 40 percent, which indicates to me that the far-right-wing nutjobs have as much as 40 percent of the electorate’s support (that is, the support of the staunch right-wing nutjobs, who are about a third of the electorate, plus those “swing voters” whom they are able to dupe). That’s a minority, but it’s a sizeable minority, and, given the “swing voters'” ability to vote for fascists like George W. Bush (and potentially for George W. Bush II, a.k.a. Rick Perry), Obama’s re-election certainly is not certain.

(Against Obama, by the way, as of late Perry has been pulling in around 41 to 45 percent, which to me suggests that right now he has the support of at least some of the “swing voters.” The question would be how many of those who for some God-damned reason are undecided right now he could pull in between now and Election Day in November 2012.)

Kornacki concludes of the shameful Repugnican Tea Party presidential primary debate audience reactions that we’ve been seeing lately:

…[T]hese debate outbursts end up generating considerable attention and helping to establish (or to reinforce) a sense among non-Republican voters that the GOP has gone off the deep end.

[But it] could be that this won’t end up mattering in the end. If the economy is rotten enough, swing voters might end up voting straight ticket Republican next year no matter how extreme the GOP seems to them.

But when members of a Republican crowd at a nationally televised Republican event start booing [active-duty] members of the military, it’s safe to say [that] the GOP is playing with fire.

Agreed.

The Repugnican Tea Party fascists in the audience at the third debate clearly had a dilemma: Members of the U.S. military, especially those on active duty in the post-9/11 crusade in the Middle East that is bleeding the American empire to death, are considered to be heroes, and the right wing’s post-9/11 hero worship generally applies to them, but at the same time, the right-wing fascists hate non-heterosexuals like the Nazis hated the Jews (and like the Nazis also hated non-heterosexuals…), so what to do?

Clearly, for those who booed, where it came to the gay soldier, the “gay” part canceled out the “soldier” part.

But for the majority of even the dimwitted “swing voters,” it seems to me, the “soldier” part trumps the “gay” part. Nor, I surmise, are even the “swing voters” on board with just allowing those without health insurance to die.

(I surmise that most of them support the death penalty, however. The more ignorant one is, the more fearful he or she is, and the biggest fear is probaby the fear of death, and the “thinking” apparently is that executing convicted murderers will protect the rest of us from death.

That said, I surmise also that the majority of the “swing voters” aren’t on board with executing those whose guilt is questionable [as was the case with
Troy Davis, whom the state of Georgia executed this past week], which the deep-red states [like Georgia] have no problem with, especially if the executed are black or otherwise non-white [as was Davis].)

So I hope that these Repugnican Tea Party presidential primary debate audience outbursts continue.

In a roundabout way, they’re good for the country.

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Deep thoughts on the week that was

I post only a fraction of what I could post, because my time is limited (like it is with most bloggers, I have to earn a paycheck, and that doesn’t happen with my blogging, which is a labor of love) and because I’m a bit of a perfectionist and don’t like doing something unless I do it right.

So here is some of what I would have posted in the past week or so if I’d had the time (and if I weren’t such a perfectionist):

Movie reviews

“Countdown to Zero”: This documentary about nuclear weapons was disappointing. It taught me little that I didn’t already know or that I couldn’t have discovered on my own via Google (which now is evil, I understand, and which is too bad, because I’ve always liked Google).

“Countdown” apparently lets the United States of America off of the hook for having been the first nation on the planet to nuke another nation. It’s an obvious conclusion that if nukes are bad and the United States is the first and thus far the only nation ever to have nuked another nation — what does that say of the U.S.?

“Countdown” also doesn’t delve into the uber-hypocrisy of the United States — the only nation ever to have nuked another nation (I never tire of saying that) — dictating to the rest of the world which nations get to have nukes and which nations don’t. No, I’m not big on the idea of Iran having the Bomb, either, but it was the United States that opened that Pandora’s box, and “Countdown to Zero” doesn’t even begin to address that adequately.

My grade: C+

“Inception” is entertaining enough, but it also could have been titled “Deja Vu,” because it’s a mixture of “The Matrix” and “Shutter Island.”

“Inception” explores what is real and what is not, and features characters kicking each other’s asses in a video-game-like fantasy land while their physical bodies are unconscious and wired up, a la “The Matrix.” What’s most bizarre about “Inception” is that in both “Inception” and “Shutter Island,” Leonardo DiCaprio plays a man who is tortured by the ghosts of his dead wives. The similarity is such that my having seen “Shutter Island” first made me able to enjoy “Inception” less.

Any movie starring both Ellen Page and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, two of my favorite young actors, however, can’t be all bad. (Marion Cotillard, as DiCaprio’s character’s deceased wife, is pretty good, too, although her accent sounds a bit like Arianna Huffington’s…)

“Inception,” besides being too derivative, is too long, though…

My grade: B-

“The Kids Are All Right” is more than all right. Julianne Moore and Annette Bening do a great job playing a lesbian couple with two teenaged kids. Each of them had been inseminated by the donations of a sperm donor (played by Mark Ruffalo, who can donate sperm to me any time…) who later is contacted by the older teen (played by Mia Wasikowska, who starred as Alice in Tim Burton’s latest film) and who comes into their lives.

Probably because I’m a gay man, I have no problem seeing any two people of either sex in a relationship, and having been in a relationship for almost three years now, I see certain dynamics in all relationships, regardless of gender and sexual orientation. (While my boyfriend and I watched “The Kids Are All Right” together, I poked him in the arm several times to declare: “That’s us!”)

I understand that the lesbian community is not thrilled about the type of porn that the lesbian couple in the film enjoy, but, as Moore’s character explains, human sexuality is complicated.

My biggest problem with “The Kids Are All Right” is that Ruffalo’s character isn’t all that believable. Is he a care-free Bohemian or is he a successful businessman? And how does he have all of that time and energy (and the money) to do all that he does, including having a romance with one of the lesbians? Still, the insightful dialogue and the realistic situations in “Kids” make it worthwhile.

My grade: A

Politics

Leave Michelle alone! Had Barbara Bush or Laura Bush gone to Spain on vacation, it would have been no big fucking deal. But because Michelle Obama went on vacation to Spain, and not, I suppose, to Haiti or Darfur or Uganda, she’s taken shit for it. Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker recently huffed:

Is it really such a terrible thing that the president’s wife took a few days off to enjoy the beaches of Spain? Yes and no. Michelle Obama’s trip, though expensive in the context of our dire financial straits, isn’t putting a dent in the Treasury.

But as a political move, it could not have been more out of step with most Americans’ reality. The obvious reasons include the stagnant job market, the depleted fortunes of the middle class, millions of lost homes and, for many, the prospect of an insecure financial future….

On balance, the vacation was poorly conceived but hardly a crime befitting the condemnation. Perhaps of more lasting concern is the missed opportunity for the first lady to set an example of restraint and even generosity. I hear the Gulf Coast beaches could use a cash infusion.

When do the Richie Riches of the Repugnican Party ever “set an example of restraint and even generosity”? Why the fucking double standard that a conservative white man is expected to be a selfish asshole, and gets away with it, but if a black woman takes a trip that any well-enough-to-do white woman would take, she instead should have “set an example of restraint and even generosity”?

And talk about pettiness. Parker notes in her column that

George W. Bush largely escaped scrutiny because his preferred getaway was a place no one else, especially the media, wanted to go. Crawford, Tex., in August? Fabulous.

Whatever else one thinks of Bush, he did have a sense of propriety in matters recreational, perhaps in part attributable to his life of privilege and attendant guilt. He gave up golf after invading Iraq because he felt it would look bad to be perfecting his swing while those he had consigned to battle were losing their limbs. A token, perhaps, but a gesture nonetheless.

A token gesture “perhaps”? And oh, please. The xenophobic, parochial George W. Bush never showed interest in other nations or cultures unless they had vast oil reserves that could be stolen. He didn’t take vacations at home out of some “sense of propriety in matters recreational,” but out of his utter lack of curiosity about the rest of the world.

And Gee Dubya gave up golf? Oh, gee, what a sacrifice! That almost makes up for the damage that he did to his own nation, including leaving office with (not in any certain order) a record federal budget deficit, an overextended military, a crumbling domestic infrastructure, far more enemies around the world than there were before he stole office in late 2000, and what economists have dubbed the “Great Recession.”

Why does Kathleen Parker get paid to write and I fucking don’t?

(Well, that’s mostly a rhetorical question, but the answer is that she’s a baby boomer, and boomers never have needed any actual talent to make big bucks, and because as a writer she supports the status quo, which includes keeping Americans stupid and disempowered by discussing such non-issues as Michelle Obama’s vacation, and my intention when I write is to destroy, not to prop up, the status quo. And, we Gen X’ers historically have been shit and pissed upon by the talentless boomers.) 

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a Gen-X hero!

Steven Slater, a JetBlue flight attendant (pictured above in a MySpace photo), had had it. As a (U.K.) Guardian columnist tells it,

…as the plane was coming in to land, Slater asked a passenger who was attempting to get her luggage from the overhead compartment to remain seated. After the passenger verbally berated Slater, a piece of her luggage fell on to his head. [This website states that Slater’s mother says that Slater was hit in the head by the door of the overhead bin the foul-mouthed passenger was yanking open, not by luggage.] Slater took to the plane’s PA system and announced that he was quitting. Then, after grabbing two beers from a food cart, he opened one of the plane’s doors, slid down the emergency chute, and was gone for good.

This story is being told as a simple episode of “take this job and shove it,” but I think that there is a lot more than that beneath the surface.

Slater is in his late 30s — a Gen X’er, like me, who, I am sure, is sick and fucking tired of being squeezed in the middle between overly demanding (mostly baby-boomer) customers and rich (mostly baby-boomer) overlords who do little to no work themselves but who reap all of the profits while we Gen X (and Gen Y) wage slaves, who usually live from paycheck to paycheck, make their wealth and their comfort possible. (I felt this big squeeze especially in nursing, which I left in 1998 and to which I’ll never return.)

I don’t know how old the obnoxious passenger is, but my guess is that she’s a fucking baby boomer. (I’d bet money on it.)

The passenger’s selfish, inappropriate and illegal actions — this website reports that the Federal Aviation Administration is looking for the passenger because she is accused of “several airline infractions,” including “unbuckling her seatbelt and walking while the plane is taxiing, [constituting] two separate fines of $1,100” — ended up creating a visible wound on Slater’s forehead, but, as a Gen-X wage slave in the “service sector” (the new slavery system) he was just supposed to take it.

The boomers clearly expect us Gen X’ers to continue to take it up the ass indefinitely. We Gen X’ers are overeducated and underpaid, and we’re quite clear as to the future that the uber-selfish boomers intend to leave us, yet the boomers expect their gravy train to chug on forever at our continued expense.

If we Gen X’ers — and the “illegal aliens” — all ever were to refuse to continue being whipped wage slaves for the overprivileged boomers — if we all were to activate and slide down that emergency chute — their comfort would come to a screeching halt.

We Gen X’ers and other wage slaves have the real power, not those parasites who are dependent upon us yet act as though we need them.

Severing the hand that feeds you (and slapping your benefactor in the face with it): I’d already decided long before Obama administration spokesweasel Robert Gibbs called us progressives members of the “professional left” who should be drug tested that I’ll never give another penny nor another vote to Barack Obama. So I can’t call Gibbs’ smug comments the final nail in Obama’s coffin. That coffin was nailed shut long ago, so I guess that Gibbs’ latest statements are just concrete poured over that coffin.

You know, George W. Bush is a major fucktard, but neither even he nor any of his spokesweasels, to my recollection, ever publicly bashed the Repugnican Tea Party’s far-right-wing base.

You may not like your base all of the time, but you don’t alienate your base.

Clearly, starting with DINO (Democrat in name only) Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party decided that it’s OK to promise some things to us progressives but then to do other things — because where else are we progressives going to go?

Well, this member of the “professional left” won’t support Obama anymore. Clearly, the Obama administration has decided to sell us progressives up the river for the unstable, volatile support of the “swing voters,” who can’t tell right from wrong, good from evil, or friend from foe.

I’m more than happy to pick up my marbles (which Gibbs claims I’ve lost) and go home, even if doing so means the quicker collapse of the American empire. I’m with Ralph Nader, whom I voted for president in 2000 and whom I should have voted for president in November 2008 (instead of Obama) — and of whom one of his detractors once claimed believes that things have to get even worse before they’ll ever get better.

And this pundit had it right when he remarked:

We “professional leftists” do indeed need drug testing because apparently the … hallucinogenic of “hope and change” has worn off and the ugly mediocrity of modern Democratic leadership stares us in the face with the not-so-friendly smugness of a hookah-smoking caterpillar.

Yup. It was the Obama campaign that had sold us the drug of “hope” and “change” and now criticizes us for having imbibed it.

Well, we of the professional left are going to have to find a new drug.

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Why can’t Obama get any love?

Obama asks Senate to pass small business jobs ...

Reuters photo

A beleaguered President Barack Obama called a last-minute press conference in the Roosevelt Room of the White House yesterday afternoon after a self-induced politically disastrous week. Meanwhile, Obama administration betrayee Shirley Sherrod says that she’s still deliberating whether she will return to the Obama administration or whether she could be a more powerful and more effective agent of hope and change from outside of the administration. (I hope that she chooses the latter course of action, that she writes a book and goes on a lecture tour, perhaps.) 

Rachel Maddow (whose stuff I should watch more often) has a piece on how President Barack Obama just can’t get his legislative and other accomplishments acknowledged. She notes that the Beltway has dubbed this phenomenon “the Obama paradox.”

Eh. It’s not rocket science. Let’s look at the pieces of it:

Obama never was going to get and never will get the support of the Repugnicans, something that he knew or should have known even before he was inaugurated. Not only is he a Democrat (at least titularly), but he isn’t a white man. Two strikes and he’s out.

I’m not sure whether Obama’s (rather lame) attempts at bipartisanship were naive or whether they were political kabuki — that is, he knew that he’d never get any significant bipartisan support, but he figured that he’d better put on a good show of trying for it.

Also, because they’ve coined “the Obama paradox,” I’ll coin “the Bush effect.”

“The Bush effect” is the phenomenon in which the president who preceded you was so fucking awful that the presidential bar has been lowered all the fucking way to China. Therefore, in order to be perceived as anything near a Lincolnesque or Washingtonian president, you pretty much have to raise the dead — or at least heal the blind.

Then, there is this phenomenon in which, because American standards have dropped so low, too many Americans want praise and special recognition for just doing their jobs.

This, of course, ties in with the Bush effect, but the fact is that Obama has just been doing his job. (Minimally, that is; the legislation that he’s been able to pass has given too many concessions to the corporatocrats and has not been progressive enough.)

Obama is supposed to lead the nation in a way that benefits the most number of Americans. That’s the job of the president of the United States. (If the POTUS is a Repugnican, then the job description changes: the Repugnican POTUS leads the nation in a way that benefits the richest.)

For Obama to brag about just doing his job is pathetic and sad.

And then there are the Obama administration’s fuckups. The Shirley Sherrod debacle, most recently and perhaps most notably.

As Maddow recounts, Obama yesterday added an unscheduled afternoon appearance before the press corps to recap his legislative accomplishments of the week.

However, even that was a tactical mistake — it only served to underscore the fact that his administration had fucked up royally by knee-jerkedly throwing Shirley Sherrod under the bus at the very first whiff of the approach of the right-wing, white-supremacist lynch mob.

To betray your own supporter, to sell someone who helped to put you where you are down the river — can you go lower than that?

Maybe we should start calling him Judas Obama. (If he kisses you, be afraid — be very afraid.)

Obama’s refusal to dance with those of us who brought him to the dance — we liberals/progressives (I gave him hundreds of dollars [primarily to knock DINO Billary Clinton out of the primary, admittedly]) — has made us disgusted with and deeply disappointed in him.

So Judas Obama gets no love (and never was going to get any love) from the Repugnicans and their “tea-partying,” cross-burning ilk, and because he has betrayed us after snookering us with his promises of “hope” and “change,” he gets no love even from us progressives.

That leaves him only with the “swing voters,” whom I prefer to call the dumbfuck voters.

And they wouldn’t know a competent president from their bungholes. They still believe that George W. Bush legitimately was elected as president in 2000 and that Saddam Hussein orchestrated 9/11 and had weapons of mass destruction, for fuck’s sake.

So Obama’s only potential allies, that I can see, were those of us on the left.

And he has burned us.

Repeatedly.

Obama finally seems to maybe have something-like-sincerely acknowledged the errors of his ways, but this far into the game, my sense is that it’s probably too little, too late, and that his latest appeal to liberals (which he made just today) rings among the vast majority of us as hollow.

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What’s the matter with California?

Updated below (on Sunday, March 21, 2010)

The Field Poll, California’s most prominent polling organization, released a series of fairly surprising polls this past week that got plenty of media attention here in the nation’s most populous state.

The first poll, released Wednesday, shows that Repugnican gubernatorial wannabe Megalomaniac Whitman, a billionaire former CEO who has pumped tens of millions of her own dollars into her ubiquitous television ads, not only trounces her closest Repugnican rival for her party’s gubernatorial nomination, but holds a three-point lead over Democrat Jerry Brown, the state’s current attorney general and former governor who has no (serious) competition for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

The poll puts Nutmeg Whitman at 46 percent to Jerry Brown’s 43 percent, with 11 percent undecided.

After the disaster that Repugnican Arnold Schwarzenegger has been as governor — the state that he promised to “save” from twice-elected Democratic former Gov. Gray Davis has only gotten worse under his watch since 2003 — are Californians really going to allow another Repugnican governor?

Moreoever, are they really going to allow someone to buy the governorship? That’s not an exaggeration — that is billionaire Nutmeg’s game plan. The Megalomaniac has never held any elective office before but wants the top elected office of the most populous state right off.

As governor she would be catastrophic. Already she wants to kill the state’s climate-change legislation that even Schwarzenegger supports and she wants to lay off 40,000 state workers in a state that already has enough unemployment problems and already has suffered enough damaging hits to government services.

As Brown has pointed out, as The Associated Press recently paraphrased him as having put it, “California needs an elder statesman who can broker deals to lead it out of its current fiscal morass, not an autocratic CEO who is used to giving orders.” Reports the AP:

[Brown] said CEOs are used to hand-picking their employees, but a governor must confront an independent and sometimes hostile state Legislature and deal with public employee unions and courts that are constantly second-guessing their decisions.

“The political process is about civic engagement, not autocratic executive decision-making in the corporate suite. The two have virtually nothing in common,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press at his campaign headquarters in a converted warehouse in Oakland.

Yup. The autocratic, spoiled rich bitch Nutmeg is not cut of the same cloth of which good governors are made. She’s much more like the Red Queen in Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” — “Off with their heads!” she already has said of 40K state workers — than she is anything like a stateswoman. 

If Californians think that Schwarzenegger is bad — and they do; his approval rating is around 30 percent and about six in 10 Californians believe, correctly, that the state is worse off now than it was in 2003, when he took 0ffice — then they should elect Nutmeg, who knows as much about being governor as Sarah Palin-Quayle knows about being president.

Speaking of stateswomen, Democratic U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer of California can claim that title, but her election to a fourth term in the U.S. Senate seems uncertain.

A second Field poll, released on Thursday, shows the top Repugnican challenger for the Repugnican Party nomination for the U.S. Senate seat that Boxer now holds, Tom Campbell, with 44 percent to Boxer’s 43 percent. When matched up against the No. 2 Repugnican contestant, the Nutmeg-like Carly Fiorina (who also is a former CEO who wants to buy high office), Boxer beats Fiorina by only one point, 45 percent to 44 percent.

Like we really need more Repugnican white men — or more Repugnicans, period — in the U.S. Senate. What the fuck?

It wasn’t that long ago that the stupid white men of and led by the unelected BushCheneyCorp ran the nation into the ground, a stupid white man continues to run the great state of California into the ground, and yet the voters of California are poised to replace Barbara Boxer with another stupid white man (or with a stupid white man in woman’s clothing, like Palin-Quayle is).

I recognize that a lot can change in the coming months before the November 2010 election, but I find these 40-something-percent matchups between the Democratic and Repugnican candidates in the blue state of California to be way too close for comfort.

The culprit, I think, is the same phenomenon that put Repugnican pretty boy Scott Brown into the U.S. Senate for Massachussetts in the wake of the death of Ted Kennedy: the dumbfuck vote, which consists mostly those who identify themselves as “independents” or “swing voters.” They get the bulk of their political “information” from the candidates’ television ads. Because TV commercials are a great source of complete and unbiased information. Every intellectual knows that.

So, if you are just filthy rich, like Nutmeg Whitman is, you can buy office, since your base consists of the dipshits who don’t know anyfuckingthing about politics but who vote anyway.

The third Field poll released this past week (yesterday) perhaps is the most encouraging of the three. It shows that Californians’ favorability rating of President Barack Obama has fallen since he took office, but still remains at a majority, with 52 percent of Californians approving of the job he’s doing. Obama’s highest point among Californians was a year ago this month, when he had a 65-percent job-approval rating.

The poll showed Californians evenly split over Obama’s handling of health care, with 45 percent favoring his handling of it thus far and 45 percent disfavoring it thus far.

Of course, I’m not sure how many of those Californians who disfavor Obama’s handling of health care are wingnuts who buy the health care = “socialism” crap that the wealth care weasels — whose only concern is to continue to profit obscenely from Americans’ pain and suffering — have been pushing and how many of them oppose his handling of health care because it’s not aggressive and/or progressive enough.

After health-care reform legislation finally fucking passes — which apparently will be as soon as tomorrow — we might see increases in the number of Californians who state that they approve of Obama’s job performance and his handling of health-care reform.

And a coattail effect of the Democratic Party actually having accomplished something, and having accomplished something pretty big, might help Barbara Boxer and Jerry Brown in the polls, too.

Of course, it’s also important for long-time Democratic politicians like Boxer and Brown not to take their support by the fickle voters of California for granted. It is my impression that California’s voters will vote for a Repugnican in order to punish a Democrat whom they believe takes their vote for granted — even though voting Repugnican almost always is against the voter’s own best interests.

And those who don’t understand politics (those who get their political “information” from candidates’ TV commercials) really seem to believe that the solution always is to just change parties — even if the party they are thinking of switching to just recently trashed the nation and the state.

That problem — abject stupidity — I don’ t have a quick and easy solution for, unfortunately.

Update (Sunday, March 21, 2010):

Today the Field Poll has released yet another poll, this one showing that Repugnican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s approval rating has hit an all-time low of 23 percent.

“This is the poorest assessment that voters have ever given Schwarzenegger and is statistically equivalent to the all-time record low job appraisal that voters gave to [Democratic Gov.] Gray Davis shortly before he was recalled from office in 2003,” the Field Poll notes.

The Sacramento Bee quotes Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo as deeming this fact to be “ironic.”

Repugnicans are distancing themselves from Schwarzenegger, claiming that his low approval rating doesn’t really matter because he isn’t really a Repugnican — that is, he isn’t enough of a Nazi for them, even though his father was a Brownshirt

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