Wednesday, January 30, 2019

It's A Cold World Outside

2019 is almost a month old without a post. So much for resolutions.

There is not a lot to write about, other than politics. Okay - the weather - cold! not so bad here on the coast, but bad in the mid-west. We keep getting promised snow, but keep getting little storms that end up leaving ice everywhere - that might be worse than getting a good 20 inches of powder, to be honest - it's certainly less entertaining.

I could say something about sports - being a New Englander, I know I am supposed to be all excited about the local brain damage and steroids club heading for the super bowl again, but I can't muster it. I can find the energy to wonder if the Sox can fill out their bullpen for the season, though; and Liverpool is winning the Premier League! I do like some football...

And there is politics. I'm not sure why I don't write more about politics: politics is engaging just now, and desperately important. I know I stopped writing about it all the time because it was just too depressing, back in the days of Bush the Less - I turned to movies and music and tried hard to avoid driving myself crazy. Now? It is easy to despair, but on one hand, there's not much room for the luxury of despair, and on the other - Trump and the Republicans hold power by the thinnest of margins, and any work to take that power away from them has the chance to do it. You can see that - the Democratic party has come back strong, and moved to the left doing it - we have responded well, over all. Fight the good fight and all that.

The other problem, though, is that there is so much to write about - and so much talk about it already. So far this month we have had the shut down, and all that entailed. Trump's baby and he got stuck with it and had to back off in the end. Labor! shut down the airports! and the Democrats not blinking: they were right, they always had the votes, etc...

Or the MAGA kids vs the Native American parade. Everyone has an opinion on that. The right wing loonies managed to twist the story enough that people began doubting their eyes and ears - they are a shameless and astonishing bunch. I don't know if it they would be better or worse if they just said what they meant from the beginning: "He's a white kid, the old guy is some kind of foreigner, and probably a liberal. People like that should be silenced." This week, Jussie Smollett, a black, gay actor, was attacked by (allegedly) racist homophobes - I imagine again, the right will find ways to attack the victim and defend the attackers, and never quite say what they mean: "He's black and gay - he should be lynched."

That's harsh. Sorry, MAGA hat wearing fascists; go fuck yourselves.

Or a series of mass shootings, by young white guys - including a man executing 5 women in a bank - yeah. We still don't address that as a country - the degree to which violence is still gendered, men against women. Racism is real and pervasive, but so is misogyny. There are signs, real signs, that the country as a whole is becoming less racism, less homophobic, less misogynist - but that very loss of white, male, power seems to be inspiring more aggressive open terrorism against blacks (and other ethic groups), women, gays. Encouraged by the fascists in the wWhite House. Fuck them all.

Sorry. That was harsh. Where was I? Venezuela seems to be getting worse (somehow), and now members of the Trump administration are floating the idea of getting involved, sending troops, that kind of thing. Good god. Though it is predictable enough - as Trump's hold on power gets more and more precarious, it is likely they will try more extreme ways of holding power. Flirting with a "national emergency" during the shut down was bad - starting a war somewhere is simpler, maybe, more traditional, among Americans. Their defenders saying openly a war with Venezuela will "unite" the country - not even trying to pretend, are they. Though of course they are also typically ignorant of history: wars do not unite much of anything, unless they are either widely popular before they start, or someone attacks you. Did war in Iraq unite the country? did war in Vietnam? invading Mexico in 1846 tore the country apart, was a major step toward the Civil War in this country. Even WWI created significant rifts. People look at WWII, and they say, war will bring us together - but wars don't do that. They are at least as likely to wreck the current administration as save it. (See Richard Nixon and Barack Obama. Hell - Ike got elected because of Truman and Korea.)

Thus current events. Future events? the 2020 presidential campaign is starting to get into gear. Acquaintances on the internet are starting to get stupid - someone said something about Democrats losing to Trump again - I'm not sure how that is going to happen. Trump won in 2016 because of James Comey, the Russians, the press pissing on itself, and the Electoral College - you can add in whatever degree of hatred you have for Hillary Clinton if you like - and even then, in the end, it was the Electoral college that did it. In 2020, we will still have the Electoral College, we will probably have Russians playing games, and the press (if there is any of it left), is as likely as ever to let itself get played by the right wing propagandists - but everything else is going the other direction. No one will be in Comey's position - who is going to trust anything coming from the Trump administration? The country will have had 4 years of Trump, and has been going as hard as they can in the other direction. What's better, as a Democrat, is that not only are people voting for Democrats, but the Democrats themselves are moving left - that has been true since the middle of the Bush administration at least, but it is getting more significant all the time.

And as far as the presidential campaign goes - I like the way the Democrats are shaping up. There were good choices in 2008 - but in 2016, no one had emerged to challenge Clinton, who, whatever her merits, was something of a relic from the days when the Democrats thought they had to move right to get more votes. Sanders came along, and he was all right, but he never had a chance to win the primary, and didn't always react to losing with the sense or grace one would like. But this time? Going on both the people who have declared for presidency and those flirting with it - I see four people I could be enthusiastic about: Gillibrand, Warren, Harris and Sharrod Brown. I see a number of others I either like with some reservations or don't know enough about - Klubuchar, Beto O'Rourke, Cory Booker - maybe even Pete Buttigieg, though he seems like the longest of shots. Any of them would be fine, even now. And beyond that are a couple people who I am not voting for in any primaries, and don't really want clogging up the race - Sanders again, and the inexplicable idea of Joe Biden running - but would happily support in any general election. (Hell, Clinton would fit into this, though I don't think she's fool enough to get involved this time.) That pretty much leaves Tulsi Gabbard - right wing crank in the wrong party? - on the outside.

That's a great set of choices. I suppose you can find faults in all of them, but grownups weigh pros and cons and make their choices - and though a lot of Democrats and liberals (especially the ones who call themselves "progressives" and complain about Democrats) don't sound like grownups a lot of the time, they usually end up acting the part. (Though less whining about whoever we do put forward would be nice.) If the republic can survive these next two years, we should have a pretty good president in place to start the 2020s, and we might have even better options in 10 or 12 years. Though surviving those two years might not be assured.

And of course, we might all be under 10 feet of water 10 years from now. There's always that....