Category Archives: Uncategorized

6/14/16 – New Episode of ‘Talk Sex w/ Podrick Payne’ #GameOfThrones #NoOne #DragonTales

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‘Talk Sex w/ Podrick Payne’ – your one-stop Luckswing destination for everything Game of Thrones.

Season 6.08 “No One”

(00:52) Joey and Stephen attempt to recap this week’s episode! Arya is not dead to Joey’s minor disappointment. Kings landing is still meh, at least a sparrow died #melon, Tommen just ruined Clegane bowl, and Cersei is planning a #micdrop. Telling jokes with Tyrion, Greyworm, and Missandei…thank god Daeny is back. #slaveryisstillawful Varys where you going bra? Proposals for Dorne with fulfillment #milktoast. WATCH #WhaleRider!!! Is Varys a mermaid? #swish Brienne + Jaimie, Pod + Bronn = best part of this episode. Jaime is dyslexic. T_T #RIPBLACKFISH T_T #offscreen. Edumure, WATCH #OUTLANDER! Machismo fuckery…SOO MUCH FANSERVICE #TheHound kills again, #chickens. #BwithoutB is b. Arya escapes fucking TreadStone #JasonBourne. Arya Stark of Winterfell.

(59:50) #RogueMaesterNation Joey and Stephen are huge nerds. Varys is going to Faegon still, sadly no dick warts, #rolltide. Arya goes to the edge of the known world? Brienne and Pod heading to the brotherhood? #ladystoneheart it may have been too long… Daenerys Stormborn’s #DragonTales #DragonZord

Notes:

Happy Tuesday Everyone! #DragonTales

Happy Birthday to our Luckswing brother Dujie Thaht and our Luckswing #1 Fan Clare Sobetski

HBO’S Extra – Dance of Dragons – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJVVwWN2zNY

Whale Rider – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtZC5OOxoAQ

Feel free to comment in with questions, or alternate theories. We would be happy to discuss the on the next episode!

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5/31/16 – New Episode of ‘Talk Sex w/ Podrick Payne’ #GameOfThrones #BLOODOFMYBLOOD #BLOODRIDERS

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‘Talk Sex w/ Podrick Payne’ – your one-stop Luckswing destination for everything Game of Thrones.

Season 6.06 “Blood of My Blood”

(00:52) Joey and Stephen do a post-dim sum recap of this weeks episode, book spoiler free! Arya, the worlds worst assassin, plays with in plays #avatarthelastairbender, and a simpler House of Black and White. #fuckthewildlings at Horn Hill, WTF ARE YOU DOING WITH THAT SWORD SAM? Dany gives the classic “CLEAR EYES FULL HEARTS CAN’T LOSE” in flawless Dothraki. #GoPanthers! FUCKING UNCLE BENJEN IS BACK FINALLY!! #NOELKTHOUGH Lastly RIVERLANDS RIVERLANDS, AND Margery’s long game. Efficiency has come, but plot-lines thought lost are coming back? #hope #ladystoneheart

(55:37) The adventures of Rogue Maesters continue (ignore banana joke…), looking into dem glass candles. Will the wall fall down? Is Aegon Targ coming? Arya much chiller book experiences in the House of Black and White. Will we see HIGHGARDEN EVER?? Oh. and the Blackfish.

Notes:

Happy Tuesday Everyone! Remember you are all Bloodriders.

The Riverlands as described by the Blackfish:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2JJ-KUZbOI

Bonus points to those who got the Heroes reference.

Feel free to comment in with questions, or alternate theories. We would be happy to discuss the on the next episode!

Make sure to subscribe to us on I-Tunes!!

Send in your own episode #s.

5/24/16 – New Episode of ‘Talk Sex w/ Podrick Payne’ #GameOfThrones #HODOR #HOLDTHEDOOR

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‘Talk Sex w/ Podrick Payne’ – your one-stop Luckswing destination for everything Game of Thrones.

Season 6.05 “The Door” T_T

(00:52) Joey and Stephen do a recap of this weeks episode, book spoiler free! LittleFinger’s plan always = Teferi’s puzzle box? Episode titles are important? HOLY CRAP TIME TRAVEL?! MANDERLYS!! Pissing contest on the Iron Islands, F**k R’hllor, WESTEROSI BARBARIANS, children vs men, playing tag…and more!!!

(1:00:44) Here is Rogue Maester land: TIME TRAVEL WTF CONTINUES, Jorah to Asshai? Victarion Greyjoy, COLDHANDS AND MORE!!!

Notes:

On-time two weeks in a row!! Happy Tuesday Everyone!

Apologies Stephen is recovering from bronchitis and there is coughing episode pause somewhere in the middle.

There are a lot of weird bits of useless trivia this episode…

Bonus points to those who get the Magic The Gathering reference.

Feel free to comment in with questions, or alternate theories. We would be happy to discuss the on the next episode!

Make sure to subscribe to us on I-Tunes!!

Send in your own episode #s.

Bing bing bong: The identity politics of Donald Trump supporters and the security of the free world

“Ultimately, they don’t recognize other people. They suffer from a form of political narcissism, in which they don’t accept the legitimacy of other interest and opinions. They don’t recognize restraints. They want total victories for themselves and their doctrine.” – David Brooks, New York Times

>><<

Donald Trump had a great week. Ted Cruz dropped out Tuesday night. Jon Kasich dropped out Wednesday morning. And a +184K romp in Indiana punctuated a 15-day, seven-state streak of winning majorities of the popular vote1 Within the span of 24 hours, Trump became the head of the Grand Old Party.

This is the natural point of a presidential cycle when new-found coalitions are forged, overtures of party unity are made, and a certain strain of politics that respects and desires to preserve the polity are called upon.

Naturally, it being 2016 and all, reactions were mixed. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus did everything he could to seem conciliatory, delaying the moment he sets himself on fire:


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seems kerfuffled by the whole affair. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan still refuses to hump Trump.

And defacto Maester Aemon of the Republican Party, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham is chugging 40s, hurling molotovs, and riding the wrecking ball from the Miley Cyrus music video while flipping off the whole world:

23 candidates. 1 and half years of campaigning. Hundreds of Best Westerns and Quality Inns. 10 months of conservative self-loathing. 8 months of fighting for the soul of the Democratic primary. Thousands of cans of Red Bull. 79 primaries and caucii. The table is set for the matchup we’ve been waiting for our whole lives: Trump v. Hillary Clinton.

<<>>

Now that we’ve completed the race for who gets to be in the race for president, who’s excited for more race stuff?

Donald Trump becoming the second most likely person in the world to be president is the type of shit that happens when you let evil in. As David Brooks of the New York Times writes, “Trump is the culmination of the trends we have been seeing for the last 30 years: the desire for outsiders; the bashing style of rhetoric that makes conversation impossible; the decline of coherent political parties; the declining importance of policy; the tendency to fight cultural battles and identity wars through political means.”

That broiling intransigence/machismo/xenophobia bubbling beneath the surface broke through in 2008 when America elected its first Black president during the toughest economic hardship of the modern era. White Americans—mostly blue collar conservatives in manufacturing and energy—felt economic pain in muscles they didn’t even know they had. The transgression of economic frustration into hateful rhetoric and bigotry is not a new idea. Politicians have been using it for centuries to win elections, however, a concurrently shrinking White citizenry contributed to the unprecedented levels of steaming vitriol hurled at President Barack Hussein Obama.2

Of course Obama being America’s first black president, it’s all unprecedented.

The Obama White House was seen as an immediate and direct threat to the way of life that had built the socioeconomic landscape and set of values we call America today. That’s because it was—and remains—a direct threat to the white-heterosexual-middle-class-nuclear family that has been the main body in that interminable national ideal of ours—the American Dream.

If Obama is the changing complexion of the American body politic, Trump is the bile we vomit as we overcome the infection of hate.

In 2010, with the help of major donors, ordinary people suddenly had a way to turn their very real frustration into action against the specter of the “hopey changey stuff”—the tea party movement. That rhetoric, agitation, and social movement gave way to a real political entity, the Freedom Caucus, hell bent on slowing the advance of the federal government, thereby feeding the dissatisfaction of the federal government and the man at the head of it.3

And as the Republican Party fed the Tea Party beast—accentuating Obama’s blackness, stripping him of his citizenship, making him other—it was inevitable that a vapid figure like Trump would emerge as its leader. If you actively characterize of the leader of the free world, then of course it’s conceivable to elect a caricature as the leader of your party. If you make people believe the president is a fool, then every fool begins to look like a candidate for president, and when it’s time to pick the next one, people won’t have to look all that hard.

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We are in the midst of a perpetual culture shift. The plurality promised in the melting pot of America is only becoming more apparent because melanin is involved. Before, it was Irish and Italian and Polish immigrants, and communities of color were more easily segregated. Now, the browning of America has become obvious. It’s even harder to ignore when the President is an example of it.

If Obama is the changing complexion of the American body politic, Trump is the bile we vomit as we overcome the infection of hate.

Does this mean America is racist? Yes. But being a racist is a losing proposition. We have a biracial president. And for the first time ever, White Americans will make up less than 70 percent of the American electorate. Soon, White Americans will make up less than 60 percent, and eventually, less than 50 percent. Something about the moral arc of the universe being long and bending towards justice.


Averting a Great Depression. 14M new jobs over a 74-month streak of job growth. Healthcare for 15M more Americans. Repositioning America as global leaders on energy. Strengthening the force of diplomacy through focused relationship-building. A federal government equipped for the digital age. Government and policy victories aside, this video illustrates the most important part of the Obama presidency—his impact on an American psyche undergoing a violent demographic shift.

Demographically, he’s literally the perfect man for the perfect time.

America is squarely in the midst of a cultural identity change. Identity politics are violent acts, constantly breaking lines and redrawing them.

  Welcome to the world of identity politics my white friends. This stuff is hard, but good news: America is browner and more educated than we ever have been, so I like our chances.

The heterosexual nuclear white middle class family 4 has long been the symbol upon which we hang our aspirations of socioeconomic opportunity. As either a destination or a step on the way to becoming a self-made Rockeffeler, Morgan, or Carnegie, it has come to be the most powerful political evocation.

The power of that symbol persists, but it’s waning. And we are seeing the very last throes of it.

For the first time ever, white voters make up less than 70% of the electorate. Romney won 59 percent of the white vote and still got whacked 332-206 in the Electoral College. For comparison, Reagan won a similar 60 percent of the white vote in 1980 and went on to claim the one of the largest Electoral College victories in history.

If Trump should barely win the white vote at 59%, he will win no states. If he meets the eternal conservative threshold that is Ronald Reagan and hits the 60% mark of all white voters, Trump wins the 16 whitest states in the union5 for a total of 88 electors, coming up short by 182.The only way Trump hits the magic 270, is if he wins an unimaginable 75% of white voters. If he somehow managed to do that, suddenly 36 states are on the table along with their 295 electors, and this country ceases to be the country my parents thought they’d moved their family across the world for.6

Trump and the exclusionary politics he forebears have to find a path to the presidency despite a shrinking white voter share. On top of that, the coalition he has managed to cobble together is an over-performing bunch.

In the Republican primaries, Trump has 11M supporters. If you bore out Hispanic favorable/unfavorable across the whole demographic population, for comparison though, you’d find 44M Hispanics opposed. That’s the type of sentence that leads you to post something so stupid as:7

This is the face of a Republican Party who has realized they’ve been cow-towing to a shrinking demographic in the basest way possible, that white people will never again, alone, deliver them the White House, that exclusion and self-preservation doesn’t work.

Donald Trump won’t be the next President of the United States. Trump may be the first presidential candidate to lose all 50 states. We will have to continue to have the long, difficult discussion about who we are and where we’re headed. Welcome to the world of identity politics my white friends. This stuff is hard, but good news: America is browner and more educated than we ever have been, so I like our chances.

I still believe in a politics of optimism and inclusion—the kind a younger, more naïve Junior Senator from Illinois promised, begged for us to hope for, and leaves for us to carry forward.

There can be no other way.

 

Billionaires dodging taxes in order to buy erections

Credit: Iceland Magazine
Credit: Iceland Magazine

Is anyone actually going to care about the Panama papers?

Unless you have been squirreled beneath the web equivalent of a rock for the past week, you likely know at least tangentially of “the Panama papers” – papers leaked from a law firm in Panama connecting major corporations and wealthy individuals to prominent offshore banks used as tax evasion hotspots. The individuals implicated in the papers themselves include celebrities, major world leaders and international businessmen.

Using billions of dollars in evaded taxes, these individuals enjoy jet setting throughout the world, snorting Cialis off of each other’s dicks and lamenting the loss of old-timey values on facebook.

To make a comparison that might resonate with our primarily US-residing readership:

These are the sorts of people who, in America, give millions of dollars to campaigns in order to avoid giving millions in taxes to the Government which hypothetically pay for the streets they drive on, the schools their neighbors’ kids attend, social security for a generation who can’t afford homes until they’re 50, etc. Whether or not they can be officially convicted of the crime they are all committing against their respective communities, they should still be thought of as fake-tanned Ebeneezer Scrooges who actively avoid assisting the communities they now see themselves as above.

All of the individuals implicated have vehemently denied that they have broken any laws. This is likely sort-of-true, as the exploitation of loopholes is pretty much a classic rich/powerful person thing to do. That being said, they are guilty of evading the shit out of their taxes and have likely caused pretty severe damage to the communities of which they are a part as a result.

But did anyone actually break any laws?

Yes. While holding money in an offshore company is generally not illegal, 1 if it is done to facilitate tax evasion, a crime is being committed. If a lawyer appraises a situation and feels compelled to say something to the effect of “technically they did everything legally *cough* to commit tax evasion *cough*” than a loophole needs to be closed, some money needs to be collected, and some motherfuckers have to go to jail.

When a billionaire evades his taxes, he is stealing money from you. According to the laws of whatever country in which he does business, that isn’t his money. It is his Government’s money. It is the financial means by which the infrastructure and day to day lives of the citizens of the world function. Are billionaires privately funding the construction of highways out of the goodness of their hearts?

When politicians in the US talk about remedying the national deficit, they propose that we cut Medicare, privatize social security and eliminate social programs. The same thing happens abroad. When the President of Ukraine can justify evading his own taxes during wartime while demanding the citizens of his country pay their share (and then some), something is probably wrong.

The speculated amount of tax dollars avoided just by those implicated in the Panama papers is around 200 billion dollars annually. As an example of how this can really hurt – this article about Uganda exposes the Heritage Oil and Gas Ltd Company as having defrauded the Ugandan government for a cool $404 million dollars by changing its official corporate home to the tiny island of Mauritius, an island nation with a population just exceeding 1 million people famous for its exhaustingly long Wikipedia page.

So what can we do about this? The answer: nothing. These are the people who run the world and the rules do not apply to them.

Who wants to be a billionaire?

I hastily googled the top 3 people who have stolen from the international community recently. Please feel compelled to find these fine folks on social media and bombard them with garbage. Apparently China and Russia have already censored social media to avoid this, can’t hurt to try though. I have assembled some fun facts about all of them for your reading pleasure.

Icelandic Prime Minister, Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson

Credit: Jason Franson / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Credit: Jason Franson / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Likes:

  • Ice
  • Land
  • Defrauding the citizens of a country famously named for being too climactically inhospitable for Vikings
  • Of Monsters and Men

Dislikes:

  • Diet sour cream
  • Lukewarm bagel bites
  • The top button on dress shirts
  • Paying taxes
  • Female orgasms

Sigmundur, the since-resigned Prime Minister of Iceland is famous for being a huge piece of shit with a neck reminiscent of Vernon Dursley and probably severe impotence. He and his wife were indirect creditors of three failed banks responsible for the Icelandic stock market dropping 90% in 3 days. They managed to remain in prominent positions within Iceland for 6 years following the financial crisis since they were not directly affiliated with the wrongdoing that collapsed the economy. People picketed the shit out of him and he is now resigning.

Ukrainian Prime Minister, Petro Poroshenko

Credit: SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/GETTY IMAGES BY MASHABLE TEAM
Credit: SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Likes:

  • Stealing millions of tax dollars from his country during a time of war
  • Chocolate
  • The antagonists in Rocky and Bullwinkle

Dislikes:

  • Eyebrows
  • X-men origins
  • The top button on dress shirts
  • Paying taxes
  • Female orgasms

According to the LA times, Poroshenko has since denied breaking the law. He is quoted as saying, “I believe I might be the first top office official in Ukraine who treats declaring of assets, paying taxes and conflict of interest issues profoundly and seriously.” It should also be noted that Poroshenko is a huge piece of shit who has a profound and serious misunderstanding of what the words in this and the prior sentence actually mean.

The corpsebride, Ian Cameron

Credit: Reuters
Credit: Reuters

Likes:

  • The furtherance of the British Aristocracy via sophisticated tax evasion
  • Telling his son to tell everyone in British Parliament the opposite
  • “The Cameron family’s ancestral home in Aberdeenshire”
  • Winking

Dislikes:

  • Paying taxes
  • Blinking
  • Being alive

I was going to write some nasty shit here about Ian Cameron but he is dead so it doesn’t really matter. Probably wouldn’t hurt to investigate his son though.

 

Nice caucus, (Bernie) Bro: Lessons from the biggest, brownest caucus in the contiguous US

This past weekend, Bernie Sanders picked up 55 delegates with three victories in Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington state caucuses. The big wins round out a nice 5-0 run of small states that have seen the Sanders Camp finally put up the big numbers that they they’d previously been beaten by on Super Duper Tuesday.

This is good news for Sanders and his supporters. Keep an eye on the scoreboard though, as Hillary Clinton still has a 263 delegate lead: 1,243-980.

Coming out of this weekend, there are two pieces of national political conventional wisdom, as they relate to caucuses, that haven’t dominated the national narrative but are still worth re-examining: First, that Washington1 is white and rural but it also has Seattle so it’s white more than rural. Secondly, higher voter turnout has long favored progressives/liberals, but then why does Sanders keep crushing caucuses—a voting apparatus that, riddled with barriers, stifles turnout?

A plurality of diversity

All jokes aside, Washington state’s caucus is actually the biggest caucus in America as determined by state population2 and delegates available.3 Of all the 12 cauci,4 it also happens to be the second most diverse, next to Hawaii. In fact all three of this past weekend’s cauci were the most diverse of the cycle thus far.

The national press tends to brush Washington5 with the same Titanium White broad brush stroke.6 Washington gets a bad rap for being very white.7 It is. But so is America. Relative to the rest of the Union though, Washington is among the most diverse. Wallethub put out the a list 2015’s Most Diverse Cities in America, and 3 of the top 10 hail from the Evergreen State.8. And several websites that track this stuff and put out top 10 most diverse states9 have Washington as mainstays on their lists.

Despite Washington’s diversity, the Clinton campaign’s lock on Black voters was not tested at our caucus.10 Certainly, Washington’s less than four percent Black population is less than a third of the national average—12.6%.11 For context, states like Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi have Black populations represented at 10 times our rate—31.4%, 32.4%, and 37.3%, respectively. Clinton has done tremendously well in these states, crushing Sanders with the Black electorate to the tune of 60, sometimes 70 points.

Clinton’s success with Black voters has, in turn, fueled a narrative that Bernie Sanders’ supporters are—and more insidiously, must be—hella white. They’re not. We’re not. I’m not.

Perhaps that’s why we saw this week the rise of #BernieMadeMeWhite. A trending Twitter meme that, for the first time in this election gave voice,12 to the exclusion felt by non-White, non-Black, non-Hispanic voters. Do I imagine we’ll get another moment? No.

Let’s not forget, my socially progressive friends and industry peers13 that write, cover and read political stuff, that when we talk about diversity, it is not so black and white.

Washington state results

So how did all these brown people that we’ve established actually do live in Washington actually vote? I couldn’t tell you. No one conducted exit polling during this weekend’s cauci.14 At the state level, caucus-goers voted overwhelmingly in favor for Birdie Sanders, 72.7% casting a vote his way.

Since we don’t have exit polling from which to fabricate relevant narratives, I’ve correlated county-by-county Democratic caucus with 2008 and 2012 election results and 2010 US Census data so that we can paint each county by slightly-smaller-but-probably-still-too-broad brushstrokes.

First of all, some throat-clearing: Sanders swept all 39 counties. The most populous county—King, court of liberal stronghold and our hometown Seattle—handed Sanders the third least ideal victory at 67.3%. Garfield and Asotin Counties were the only other counties to show less approval of Sanders with 60% and 67.2%, respectively.15 The ham-handed impact of King County—which holds nearly 10,000 delegates, four times the next largest county—should not be understated.

Of the nine most conservative counties,16 seven were above the state average.

Of the nine most Hispanic counties,17 seven voted for Bernie at above the state average. Chelan and Walla Walla were the only counties to fall below the 72.7% threshold, but nearly all have been reliably Republican in previous cycles.18

Of the four most Asian counties,19 half voted above 72.7%

All of Washington’s eight most millennial counties20 voted above the state average for Sanders.

In these demographic slices, we see old ground covered. King County, the seat of the Democratic Party, comes through in a big way for Clinton. Young people in Washington love Sanders.

The force of strength shown by reliably conservative counties is unique though. There is a strange slice of conservative voters that—by virtue of his anti-establishment campaign and unwavering commitment to equitable domestic economic policy—support Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders. Many are from Eastern Washington. A strange cycle in deed.

Arriving to a conclusion about what this data says about race and the Sanders campaign in Washington State is near impossible without visibility into the demographics of caucus turnout by county. The fundamental question remains: Was the racial makeup of each caucus reflective of its county?

Probably not.

Caucus problems

Caucuses suppress turnout, disproportionally affecting poor and brown voters who otherwise work on Saturdays and can’t take at least half a day off to stand in a school gym to debate the merits of Clinton’s environmental policy. Caucuses require an investment of human organization and resources. There’s confusion about whether or not voters have to be in person to cast a ballot, which is the exact opposite of an all-mail ballot system that the electorate just got used to in a state like Washington.

Conventional campaign wisdom says higher turnout portends positive outcomes for the most liberal candidates. So why does Bernie do so well in caucus states? 3 reasons:

  • Caucuses rely on enthusiasm, a characteristic Sanders’ supporters have in spades. Washington is a state that favors activism and has a strong history and culture of governing by the ballot.
  • Caucus states are smaller. Washington is the second most populous state Sanders has won. The only two caucus states the Clinton camp really cared about were Iowa and Nevada, both strategic to the campaign narrative, not the math.
  • Caucus states aren’t very diverse. With the exception of this past week’s cauci, we’re talking about states like Utah, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, and Minnesota that rank somewhere in the pure undriven snow category of whiteness with over 90% white people. More pointedly, caucus states have very small black populations

For more real insight on Sanders caucus victories, check out FiveThirtyEight’s take on it.

Where do we go from here?

The establishment media v. the will of the people has been an undercard narrative for much of the campaign. In the last week, we’ve seen it emerge and become a real force. As Sanders’ victories get under-reported,21 it riles up his base on social media even more.22 Let’s be clear, Sanders has never had a greater chance at a primary victory than he does today, but time—and in many ways, the electoral structure of the Democratic primary—is certainly not on his side.

From a communications point of view, the worst thing that could happen right now is that the press overhype Sanders ability to come back and snatch up the nomination. It would invite complacency at a time where Sanders needs the utmost zeal from his supporters in states like New York and California. 23

Immediately up next, is Wisconsin though, which puts its 86 delegates up for grabs on Tuesday. Sanders has pulled ahead of Clinton in recent polling, but remains within the margin of error. A big win is needed to eat into the delegate deficit, but in a slow primary month, any victory will keep the momentum—and more importantly, the momentum story—strong for a solid two weeks before New York, New York.

 

Beware the ides of March: This is where it stops being funny

The first wave of primaries1 is now over. Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders in the delegate count 766-576 (465-25 superdelegates), and Trump has nearly a triple digit lead on the field—459 to Ted Cruz’s 360, Marco Rubio’s 152, and John Kasich’s 54.2

States have been voting for six weeks now. The narratives that drive political momentum have been baked—Trump is made of Teflon and very electable, Clinton has a lock on minority voters and probably the nomination—and as we approach the ides of March, shit is getting real. Clinton and Trump both took big leads on Super Tuesday, and have, by and large, ran the table since. At some point in each cycle though, the math takes over. Enter the March 15th primaries—which include four of the 10 most populous states: Illinois, Ohio, North Carolina and Florida. A strong showing from both frontrunners in those states could sew up their respective nominations.

At this time, it’s only natural that Trump and Clinton pivot towards the general election—trying out their messages aimed up and across, squarely at each other.

Pandering or Pampering?: Democrats hone in on the Black and brown vote

“I can’t help Trayvon at this time, but there are other Trayvon Martin’s I can help.” –Sabrina Fulton

The tone of the Democratic campaign has shifted. Sanders shocking victory in Michigan exposed that perhaps Clinton doesn’t have the Warriors-esque hold on the minority vote we had initially surmised from her Super Tuesday performance in the South. The Sanders camp worked hard to make sure Michigan grabbed all the headlines, but let’s be clear: the math is squarely still in Clinton’s favor. It’s easy to forget that Clinton won the delegate count the Tuesday after Super Tuesday. She whopped Sanders in Mississippi, winning over 82% of the vote and 30 of the state’s available 34 delegates.

Many3 called Sanders’ win in Michigan the greatest primary upset in modern political history. 70% of Michigan Democratic primary voters were white,4 and Sanders won whites 56-42—in line with national polls and anecdotal evidence. Sanders still lost the Black vote,5 but chipped away at the astronomical leads Clinton’s been putting up in southern states. Sanders won nearly a third of Black Democratic Michigan voters, giving the Clinton camp a dose of anxiety.

On Friday, Clinton released an emotional “Mothers of the Movement” ad that features the mothers of slain young Black men and woman Dontre Hamilton, Eric Garner, Jordan Davis, Sandra Bland, and Trayvon Martin. Both endorsement and heartfelt narrative, the mothers tell their story in this three minute ad that is perhaps most notable for its near complete lack of Clinton screentime. She has a 15-second soundbite at the end and only appears on stage with the mothers at a campaign rally—a brilliant move.

 

 

Earlier in the week, during a debate hosted by Univision in Miami, Florida aimed at Hispanic voters, both candidates promised to not deport children or criminals.6

During the debate, Sanders unveiled a beautifully shot, emotionally fraught ad almost entirely in Spanish about a small agriculture town in Florida, Imokalee, and the plight of its undocumented farm workers who were paid poorly and treated worse.

 

 

The ad is clearly meant to show Sanders’ history of devotion to and success on behalf of workers’ rights—and by extension, the Hispanic community. The format of the Imokalee ad presages the candidates’ presence in the Clinton ad—minimal.

Cynics will surely call what Sanders and Clinton are doing pandering. Sure. It might be, and if these ads were the only evidence of minority engagement, then both Sanders and Clinton could rightly be called phonies. Instead, these ads reflect a deep history and relationship with Black and Hispanic issues. Sanders, with his civil rights record, and Clinton, with her deeply entrenched relationships with Black leaders in the South.7

The Democratic Party could do a lot worse than make the remainder of the primaries about minorities and the issues we face. Coming off of the first ever Black president whose campaign expanded the Democratic Party and turned out the greatest number of primary voters ever, the two white Democrats running for the nomination need to demonstrate that they care about minority issues to keep us invested.

The percentage of non-white voters has been steadily increasing, so the decision to pivot on minority issues isn’t just good primary politics, it’s a foreshadowing of the general election.

Courtesy of United States Election Project
Courtesy of United States Election Project

Let’s not lose sight of the fact that minority and immigrant issues are fundamentally American issues. That fact only becomes more salient as America becomes browner and blacker. As the Republican Party seemingly doubles down on a white electorate afraid of the teeming mass of melanin, this is a good long-term strategy that will factor in in 2020 and beyond.

Violence begets hate begets clownshoes

 “I cannot believe how civil it’s been up here.” – Donald Trump

Thursday night’s GOP Presidential debate was by many accounts unspectacular. These performances have come to represent the highest form of reality television. The combination of personal ego, utter disregard for fact, and highness of stakes have made them must-watch television.

This past week though, neither Ted Cruz nor Marco Rubio tag-teamed Donald Trump. No dick jokes were made. Even the absence of Ben Carson was felt8 The crowd was post-Burning Man blood-thristy.9 The debate offered the same old policy but without the fireworks of ad homonym attacks.10

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve suspended my generally high expectations for presidential-level policy debates in lieu of something baser that appeases the animal part of my brain. Hell, they’ve been fun to watch and the candidates don’t seem to give a shit about higher political discourse. Why should I?

I and so many others have willfully blinded myself to the glib and glamour of the last dozen GOP debates. Every one of the candidates have dazzlingly misstepped and gaffed right into a Twilight Zone of ineptitude.11 With the lights dimmed down to a level that we could actually see the substance of their positions, it was sparse and uninspired.

Trump struck a civil tone. Rubio denied global warming in his home state.12. Cruz had a moment in one of the very few attacks on Trump, but it didn’t do anything to make him any more likable.13 Kasich got nearly the same screen time as Cruz and Rubio.

Buried somewhere in there was a blip of a moment that, in the grand scheme of things, will be forgotten by April.

 

 

Did you miss it? It was that moment Rubio–the reasoned, well-mannered wunderkid–didn’t categorically deny racism and xenophobia because it’s absolutely, unequivocally wrong.

Instead, Rubio pivoted to Christian Missionaries, a married couple14 that chose to go into a culturally rich, economically poor Bangladesh leveraging a lack of resources for blind devotion to their church.15 Rubio posited” don’t be mean to the angry Muslims because they’ll be mean back, especially to the16 Christians who consciously went into a Muslim-heavy country with the explicit purpose of telling said angry Muslims that their religion is wack.17  Following it up by saying, “But the military is great and there are Muslims in the military so those Muslims are great too!” does not make it better. If anything, Rubio is assigning them a value based on their willingness to defend and die for a cause he supports politically but not in reality.

By all appearances, Rubio should be a conservative worthy of disagreement rather than abject disrespect.18 There are even elements of his personal narrative that resonate strongly with liberals and immigrants.19 However, his willingness to consistently belittle and denigrate a group of people in order to score political points is a character flaw unworthy of the office of President.

Speaking of unworthy of the office of the president, a Trump rally was cancelled in Chicago the day after the GOP Debate in Miami. A group of largely Black and brown protesters descended on the University of Illinois at Chicago where the event was supposed to take place and shut that ish down. They even chanted some Kendrick:

 


This was an inevitable outcome. Protest and violence are increasingly becoming frequent occurrences at Trump rallies.

Earlier in the week, a North Carolina Trump supporter John “Whitey” McGraw was charged with assault for sucker punching a Black protestor who was already being escorted out. He later told Inside Edition,20 “Next time, we might have to kill him.”

Even earlier in the same week Breitbart21 reporter Michelle Fields was grabbed and bruised by Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Washington Post reporter Ben Terris corroborates Fields’ story. The Trump camp has categorically denied the claim, saying both Fields and Terris are making it up and that Fields has a history of histrionics.22 Fields has since filed charges.

Trump’s rallies have a history of violence, one perpetrated by the vitriolic rhetoric the GOP frontrunner employs to rally his base. When the more-often-than-not Black and brown protestors are escorted out of Trump’s eyesight, he’s said things like “I’d like to punch them right in the face,” or “Back in my day, they’d be taken out on a stretcher.”23

On Saturday, an Ohio man jumped a fence during a Trump rally in Dayton. He never made it to the stage. The commotion it caused gave Trump the opportunity to compose himself while whipping his supporters into a fever-pitch.

 

 

Trump is practically rabid. I see foam coming from his mouth24 We’ve seen xenophobia in the context of a presidential election cycle for so long, we’ve just come to accept it.

Race: The most important issue in America, American politics

On the one hand, Democrats are side fighting for minority votes. On the other, we’ve come to normalize racism. America is becoming browner and it’s scaring the shit out of low-income, poorly educated white people. They’re turning out in Republican primaries in record numbers, and observers like myself have vacillated between being awestruck or actively cheering on the Hindenburg-level GOP catastrophe in the spirit of entertainment25.

Whether overtly stated or not, race is quickly becoming the most critical issue of this presidential election. Sanders and Clinton will continue to position themselves as the most in tune with and natural inheritor of race relations. All while reasonable conservatives watch Trump26 dance around the dumpster fire masked as a racial divide masked as an effort to make America great again.

We can rationalize it away. We could pretend that this is just the nature of campaigning and election cycle politics. We can accept that maybe this is just an aberration.27 At this point, we’re just waiting until the general election, which will show that the racists hijacking the GOP are actually a subset of a subset.28 With sublimated aggression after sublimated aggression bringing us to this point, the circus of American politics eventually stops with the fun and games, the grip and grins, the rallies and baby-kissing.

Whether dramatically bringing new minority and immigrant issues to center stage or feeding anger with hate, the tone coming from both sides are becoming decidedly more serious. This is where it stops being funny.

 

 

Your Candidate is a bad person and so are you!

I saw The Big Short and Hillary likes banks and I am really mad about it

“All Hillary supporters are capitalist sell-outs who would happily close their eyes and mortgage 1 the future of our country to investment bankers and their lobbyists in exchange for the promise of incremental improvement and a bulwark against the Trumpocalypse. They lack agency and support Hillary because they have been conditioned to do so.”

First, Candidates have been sponsored by corporate interests for all of our adult lives unless you are about 120 years old. The fact that people are paying attention and reacting to the means by which corporate interests are represented in politics is less a symptom of some new illness and more people learning that waking up and puking every morning isn’t actually normal. Hillary is an exceptional politician with decades of experience functioning within a political system that has always demanded compromises. She is taking money from the same people Obama took money from. Everyone does it and always has. To think that electing Clinton will be somehow cataclysmic because she will work, in part, for the interests of the same banks who the last 10 presidents worked for doesn’t make sense. 2

Additionally, many ad hominem attacks on Hillary and her supporters are suffused with sexist rhetoric. The word “shrill” is maybe a bit on-the-nose but still a decent example for the kind of ostensibly “defensible” descriptors that an anti-Hillary blogger might use. Sure, that word and many others like it exist and can describe things, like say, an annoying bird. 3 But, we really shouldn’t need to prove that sexist rhetorical connotations for certain words and archetypes exist and we definitely shouldn’t have to do so via explicit means because that is sort of missing the entire point (words having connoted meanings and all…). Said anti-Hillary blogger can write a post about how Hillary is “calculating and efficient” and step away claiming they were being somehow complimentary, but they are still pretty much just saying she is sinister and/or a bitch and they probably know that.

Bernie Bros are white and I am white and I hate them because they are unrealistic and because we are white

“All Bernie Sanders supporters are unrealistic ideologues who hide a misogynist and possibly racist agenda behind thinly veiled claims to populism. Any policy Bernie promises on the campaign trail will be summarily voted down by a Republican congress with a Democratic Party minority that may not be in his corner either. Bernie supporters are all white people in their mid-20’s which automatically disqualifies them from having anything interesting to say – particularly in regard to the liberal agenda they try to defend but do not truly understand.” 4

First, has the current Republican Congress left anyone the illusion that ANYBODY would be able to get them to act in support of ANY agenda? No matter which liberal candidate is elected, that candidate will face complete and unilateral obstruction from a Republican Congress. Bernie is a liberal Jew who stands in direct opposition to the interests who got the majority of them elected and, himself, pretty much never compromises. Hillary is a slightly-less-but-still-liberal woman with the last name Clinton. Neither will be invited to many BBQs and both will likely hear the typical impeachment bullshit before they even step into office. 5

The Bernie bro narrative has also been a frustrating rhetorical condemnation. Essentially the narrative became centered around the idea that Bernie Sander’s supporters were white, male misogynists who were categorically abusive and sexist in their online behavior. While the initial article was pretty much just a playful jab and actually pretty funny, the narratives spinning out of that initial moniker -developing original have become increasingly condemning and try-hardy as the “I need to push this idea to the brink of sanity to get more clicks” machine got itself humming. 6 Bernie stands for a few uncompromising populist ideals that get pushed around the internet a lot. It is easy to write passionately about how things should be. Idealists like him and idealists are often young and vocal which means you end up having to read a lot of re-posted articles. I guess that is annoying enough to write and repost a bunch of other articles about how they post too many articles.

Fun with ad hominem attacks

What is represented in these admittedly lazy strawmen examples of the rhetoric on both sides is the emphasis on the supporter rather than the candidate. Debates  between liberals, people who by and large think of themselves as being compassionate and empathetic, should be about meeting in the middle. One of Hillary Clinton’s selling points is her ability to work within a system predicated on compromise. Why would somebody support a person like that with inflexible, antagonistic arguments? Bernie sells himself on being compassionate and progressive. Why would somebody support a person like that by condemning friends and family as corporate shills?

Why are policy debates that should be centered on compromise so antagonistic? 

Outrage is easy. It is the simplest thing in the world to dismiss a dissenting attitude by assuming that attitude is backstopped by a mind that is either critically misinformed or incapable of operating at your level.

Lashing out at a group of individuals in a condescending “I-can’t-believe-you-would-think-that” tone is the rhetorical equivalent of throwing your work papers up in the air – an exciting and seemingly-impressive gesture that’s essentially hollow and unconstructive.

It is an unfortunate side-effect of an outmoded two party system that people begin to relish the opportunity to identify as a “supporter” of a candidate or an ideal rather than as an individual who happens to be more partial to the ideas and policies espoused by one candidate or the other. The mono a mono competitive facets of the political system in the United States have become so perfected over time that the election cycle feels like a game, and people love to win games whether on the micro or macro scale. Dismissing another group’s opinion as insane, silly, or unfounded, particularly when among like-minded individuals, is comforting. It makes you feel superior, it makes you feel like you belong, like you are with the “in” crowd. 7

The part that gets left out is how we need to live with– not only the result of these political games, but — the violent versions of dissent this system fosters from friends and family on the day after Election Day. I have had family members send me angry, hateful emails prior to major elections since they expect me to vote for a Democrat. This isn’t healthy and this isn’t some symptom inherent to elected democracy. 

We are all personally responsible for feeding into an environment where people’s intelligence and integrity can be questioned on the basis of political preference.

If you have an issue with a Hillary supporter, talk to them and try to understand where they are coming from. Do the same with Cruz supporters. Dismissing a dissenting view as stupid is useless especially if the view is stupid. Even if you are dealing with somebody who violently offends every sensibility that you have, reacting with outrage and dismissal just allows that sentiment to fester in the margins of society, where a feedback loop of like-minded people allow any idea or belief to regress to its most self-certain iteration.

A person’s view doesn’t change if you embarrass them and dismiss their thoughts as misinformed, as stupid. When you conflate an opinion with the person who has the opinion, the person hardens their position until they identify with their opinion further. Their view of themselves becomes inseparable from the opinion they hold and any further appeal to alter that opinion comes through the wires as a personal attack, because that is how you have conditioned them to feel. They are no longer somebody who agrees with Hillary or Bernie or Trump – they are a Hillary or Bernie or Trump supporter. An attitude formerly reserved for die-hards becomes universal.

Sort of like Identity Politics but without the aspiration to usefulness

Individuals in underserved demographics have found that by sticking together and affirming their difference from mainstream culture, they could influence that culture and find a place beside it. 8 The politics surrounding the democratic primaries has piggybacked on the sentiment of identity politics while foregoing the underlying substance. The effect is a lot of wealthy white people online yelling at other wealthy white people for being too white9.

Whether you agree or disagree with the efficacy of affirming difference as means for inclusion into mainstream culture, you can at least respect that there is a reason to do something.

What makes the political rhetoric of 2016 so divisive10 is that the us-against-them attitude is meant to reaffirm difference when this, out of the last four, year feels like a good time to find common ground. Among current Republican voters, I can’t really blame them. When squaring off with a Trump supporter, I can imagine suppressing outrage and disbelief is challenging. Particularly given the dismissive and fact-averse attitude that works its way from the top-down and somehow seems to permeate about a third of the American south which is still important in deciding who runs the whole country 11

Being outraged is really easy . Coming to a discussion with an argumentative mindset is easy. Being open-minded is hard. Disagreeing amicably is almost impossible. The thesis of this rambling exercise is to be a little less hard on one another. Try to find out why people disagree with you. Be less of a “supporter” and more of a person. The second we subsume our ability to process facts and alter opinions under an ideology or a candidate’s opinions, we lose the ability to think critically. Don’t do that. I’ll try also.

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What a Super Tuesday it was! But what does it mean?

And the circus continues. The weeks following Super Tuesday,1 are when see the shape of the general election beginning to form. Smarter folks than I start drawing out narratives. Here are some stories.

The singular and inescapable takeaway of Super Tuesday is that the stage is set for a Hillary Clinton v. Donald Trump general election. Both won seven out of 11 states and American Samoa. Both didn’t exactly surprise observers in the states won column, but the strength of the respective coalitions Clinton and Trump have coalesced is truly eye-opening.

It turns out both can win in the south—but that means dramatically different things on each side. It’s important to keep in mind when we talk about primary voters, especially in the south, that their demographics vary wildly.2 A tale of two electorate bodies, if you will.

More stark in the south than any other, Democratic primary voters don’t only have different values from their Republican counterparts, but they look very different too. In Georgia for example, the African American community makes up less than a third (31%) of eligible voters, however, they cast over a majority (51%) of 2008 ballots. Turnout numbers from that election cycle are by no means a good corollary for this year, 3 however, the numbers still point to the major racial chasm that underpins our parties’ polarization.

Great Orange Porpoise (GOP)

Trump has a hefty delegate lead (316-226-106 according to RCP early Wednesday morning) but a lot critics are quick to point to the fact he didn’t win the majority of the vote or even a majority of the delegate count. The inevitable outcome of Trump’s inability to pull together a majority coalition is a brokered convention4—painted by critics as the last possible stand to stop the Great Orange Porpoise. An open convention doesn’t shut Trump out of the decision making process though. By virtue of numbers and representation an open convention is less populist for sure,5 but it’s not inconceivable that he offers John Kasich or even Ted Cruz a spot on the ticket or in his cabinet in exchange for their delegates.

An open convention would be good television—and, right in the weird vortex of 2016 presidential election cycle wheelhouse, an incredible opportunity for Trump to flex his deal-making skills. That’s right, his candidacy may very well rest on his ability to close a deal.6

In the meantime, Trump’s lack of a majority coalition and others’ inability to pull fundamentally alter the course of the campaign keeps the GOP field fractured and all the candidates in the race.7 So a plurality of ego will maintain the status quo, and Trump won’t ever need to win more than 40% of the primary vote to ride into the convention with proportionally the same lead he has now.

To celebrate his Super Tuesday victory, Trump’s campaign declined the typical rally and victory speech made by nearly every candidate since Hoover.8  Instead he opted for a brief statement and a press conference. It was strange. Trump was conciliatory but on fire. Reporters were on the attack. Chris Christie was silently trapped in a living nightmare. Cable news carried it for forty-plus minutes. Trump supporters were absent. On the whole, it was a magnificent piece of performance art.

My one gripe is that I wish Trump had gone longer. If he’d chosen to run a 90-minute to two-hour presser, CNN and MSNBC would have stuck with him. I cannot iterate enough how novel the choice was to hold a q and a with reporters on Super Tuesday night. Compared to the other candidates—who looked like candidates at a campaign trail rally—standing behind a podium backing off radical positions, weaseling a bit more to the center, and generally captivating the national conscious for nearly an hour was a feat that looked downright presidential.9

Dems the Yams

Hillary Clinton crushed the South, like bless-her-heart-and-these-stars-and-bars-by-the-good-grace-of-Dixie steamrolled to a 543-349 delegate lead (according to RCP early Wednesday morning). And where the republicans relied on older, conservative and evangelical white voters, Clinton won on the back of black and brown voters.

She absolutely dominated the African American vote, thumping Sanders routinely by 60-point margins and creeping into 90% territory for several states.

Clinton also dispelled any notion that Nevada augured trouble with the Hispanic vote.

Bernie wins 4! Is a semi-popular narrative pushed out by the Sanders’ campaign and its acolytes, but that still also points to a state-focused—not precint-, district-, and delegate-focused—campaign strategy. Whether by design or nature, the middle to upper-middle class white coalition that Sanders has such a firm hold on will not deliver him the Democratic Party nomination.

Without a retail politics approach applied at full-court press intensity in black churches and community organizations across the South, Sanders now relies on a Ray-Allen-corner-three-in-the-last-game-of-the-NBA-Finals-but-on-the-grace-of-a-fortunate-offensive-rebound-type wild finish.10

It almost certainly won’t happen.

Ironically, despite a stronger civil right record, the Jewish organizer from Brooklyn, New York just couldn’t break through. Sanders fundraised a whopping $42M in February though, all but ensuring that he’ll be around till the end, acting as the liberal conscience11 of the party.

Clinton is already using the message of togetherness12 to pit herself against Trump. Unity will be a word continues to use more and more as she positions herself as the elder stateswoman that is the only real choice in the general election.

As long as Sanders sticks around and progressives continue to rally, she’ll have to do some unifying of the Democratic party too. Looking forward, Clinton will have to tap Sanders or at least someone in the liberal flank of the party13 as her running mate.

For a guy who was polling at 3% a year ago, that’s a pretty significant impact to make on one of the craziest presidential election cycles ever.

 

 

What the hell happened Saturday? – Pt. 3: Antonin Scalia’ death, the South Carolina GOP primary, and a losing type of politics

This thinkpiece1 is my final toast to Saturday. Quick recap of the crap that I couldn’t let go all week: The night started out with a GOP Debate that was clearly written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone. During this time, the greatest NBA Slam Dunk competition in the history of ever happened (and by extension, the best overall mini-games day of All-Star Weekend in recent memory). Then, Chance the Rapper killed Saturday Night Live—like I-was-transported-to-an-otherworldly-church killed—presaging the release of Kanye West’s latest album, which is singularly the most erratic, momentarily brilliant filament of platinum I’ve consumed in a long time. Needless to say, I stayed up late trying to make sense of it all. I’m still digesting.

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“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.” –George Washington

The sudden death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia threw the entire political world out of focus. The haze had barely set in before the lights were up for the South Carolina GOP debate, and CBS moderator John Dickerson opened the show with the politics of nominating a replacement.

“If you were President, and had a chance with 11 months left to go in your term, wouldn’t it be an abdication to conservatives in particular, not to name a conservative justice with the rest of your term?”

It might as well have happened at this point that the audience started booing. South Carolina has a reputation for dirty, Real Housewives of Raleigh-type politics, and for the last two election cycles, the audiences at the debates have done their part to carry on that proud tradition.2

The GOP primary debates of the last few election cycles have been the highest form of reality television, and this latest iteration was the Jesse James of the damn bunch.  

The debate experience itself was wild. Less a group interview for the most important jobs in the world, it was reminiscent of an antebellum saloon brawl somewhere along the Mason-Dixon. The presidential hopefuls ran headlong into each other with onlookers swinging from the rafters and the barkeeper3 ducking out of sight. The GOP primary debates of the last few election cycles have been the highest form of reality television, and this latest iteration was the Jesse James of the damn bunch.

Perhaps the most shocking thing about the whole affair was how quickly the crowd got involved and, how even quicker, the GOP candidates—being as impressionable as they are to political convenience—indulged the mob. The debate devolved into “Liar, liar, pants on fire!,” “No, your pants are on fire!” exchanges. The moderators let it.

In an sudden show of one-upmanship,4 Ted Cruz started shouting in Spanish5 at Marco Rubio in an apparent effort to court the Hispanic vote by out-Latinoing each other.6 It’s unclear which candidate more solidified their bona fides, but it was clear who tried the hardest.

And we haven’t even gotten to the circus and utter lack of governing or policy detail that is Donald J. Trump’s campaign.7

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“I have never known a peace made, even the most advantageous, that was not censured as inadequate, and the makers condemned as injudicious or corrupt. “Blessed are the peacemakers” is, I suppose, to be understood in the other world; for in this they are frequently cursed.” –Benjamin Franklin

It’s easy to go there for a laugh—to make jokes, to indulge in the vitriol. Hairdos make for easy punchlines after all. Pettiness is cheap and self-reinforcing. There’s a case to be made—and more people should be making it—for elevating the level of public discourse, but what I don’t understand is the GOP’s embrace of a losing political strategy.

It’s not news that the GOP has been bending to its radical wing since for most of this century. Cow-towing to radical elements of any party through anger and fear is thoroughly untenable, and the Republicans’ inability to craft a coherent statement not involving prejudice or exclusion will come back to bite them.

A politics of negation only has one outcome—disagreement, which is not a position from which you can govern. The choice to govern comes with an implicit agreement to come together with whoever else is there8 in the common spirit of doing some goddamn good.

  The GOP strategy to the extent there has been one has relied on pitting white middle class insecurities against the ever-growing brownness of popular culture and the White House.

The GOP strategy to the extent there has been one has relied on pitting white middle class insecurities against the ever-growing brownness of popular culture and the White House.9 As a whole, the party has seemingly doubled down on that demo. As white middle class voices get pushed to the margins and mainstream America more resembles the cast of Hamilton, GOP adherence to a that demo ensures diminished votershare. They’ve set the course to be on the outside of the White House looking in for a long time.

Kasich did well throughout Saturday’s SC GOP debate—at least insofar as he was the only candidate who mentioned the word togetherness. There’s tinge of bipartisanship to him, and in 2016, that’s enough to make him look like a Roosevelt. At minimum, Kasich would be so uninspiring so as to not raise the ire or fervor of the crazy, hateful people that the GOP is committing suicide over right now. So, that is something to consider.

On Thursday, Marco Rubio picked up a trio of endorsements from SC Congressman Trey Gowdy, Senator Tim Scott and Governor Nikki Hailey. Hailey called the final photo op a “Benetton commercial.”[/note]Or a prospective students brochure cover from an exclusive liberal arts college. Although, I still can’t get the cast of Hamilton out my mind.[/note] Good for them. If they turn out to be the next ruling class of the GOP, I’ll hold some hope for a responsible opposition. Don’t underestimate a diverse electorate as a force to drive political will, and the class of Rubio, Hailey, and Scott may wind up with the keys.

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“Americans have one of the greatest legal systems, but not a monopoly of the sense of justice, which is universal; nor have we a permanent copyright on the means of securing justice, for it is the spirit and not the form of law that keeps justice alive.” –Earl Warren

Public grief is a crappy phenomenon, and the social media spaces carved out by liberal millennials in the wake of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death were riddled with its most self-indulgent form. It was off-putting, if not shocking, two scroll through the argle-bargle. There were primarily two strains of responses: 1) “Ding dong! The witch is dead!” 2) “Stop cheering the death of a human being, asshole.”

Ultimately, this dialectic is self-indulgent and not even really about the person that died. Participating in the discussion and taking one of these positions becomes a proxy for the type of person you want to signify to the world that you are.10

As the most opinionated conservative on the Supreme Court, Scalia would time and time again give insight into the what conservatism really meant in the realm of law—an unshakable belief in a constitution preserved in amber and that with every new law, a little more freedom gets taken away.

Scalia was an important11 figure in American life. You didn’t have to agree with him to appreciate his impact. When he came to the high court, Scalia changed the dynamics of oral arguments. The question and answer section of proceedings used to be a fairly blasé affair, but Scalia arrived on fire and turned this part of the process into a line of questioning as a proxy for debate. Lines were drawn and feelers were dispatched. The intensity and insistence he brought to the bench made the whole affair a spectator sport and gave us a sliver of a window into closed door debates.

To the crowd who would dance on his grave, I would point out that liberal lion that she is, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg12 counted Scalia as her “best buddy.” There’s even an opera centered on their friendship.

As the most opinionated conservative on the Supreme Court, Scalia would time and time again give insight into the what conservatism really meant in the realm of law—an unshakable belief in a constitution preserved in amber and that with every new law, a little more freedom gets taken away.13

In today’s discussion on what and how much government can and should do, the US Supreme Court sits on a largely unexamined perch, wielding a tremendous amount of influence. And while the political side of American government has turned into a circus of flash and mob mentality, the Scalia-Ginsburg professional and personal relationship reflected a deep kind of affection forged out of fundamental disagreement.

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“[D]emocracy does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens. It doesn’t work if we think the people who disagree with use are all motivated by malice. It doesn’t work if we think that our political opponents are unpatriotic or trying to weaken America.” –Barack Obama

The GOP-controlled Senate will have to nominate a Supreme Court Justice—this year or next. Maybe Senate Republicans don’t want to give anything more to the Obama legacy, maybe they actually think they’ll get to vote on a nominee of their party’s own choosing. Either way, their decision to stall is a refusal to do a job.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell among others has gone even further, demanding that POTUS not fulfill his constitutional duty.14 I get it. The GOP doesn’t want the balance of the court to shift away from them. But that’s why there’s a process—supported by will of the people. Let the senate vote. Let senators run re-election campaigns on that vote. Republicans may win their primaries with obstructionism, but the calculus changes significantly in a general.

  Wherever one falls on the ideological spectrum, there’s plenty to argue about—where should education funding come from? How do we eradicate poverty? What can we do to build, once more, the most robust economy and vibrant literary and arts culture in the world?

In some ways, not taking up the vote is playing at good short-term politics—fighting to preserve a conservative court while not being able to hang the senate vote around Senate Republican necks. It’ll help keep McConnell and others in office this November, but selectively doing their job combined with a shrinking votershare spells a long presidential drought for this incar party.15

In my whole adult life, I’ve never known a responsible opposition.

If you lose an election over a position or vote, that’s confirmation that you’re not suited to represent that constituency. If the people want obstruction then stand for it and let them validate your position. That’s the ball game.

Alternatively, if you have to raise barriers to vote and redistrict yourself into a more favorable electorate, then you’re really not doing your job and you’re not doing democracy and favors. If Rubio and Hailey become the central figures in the GOP, gerrymandering becomes obsolete. A little less pettiness offers a little more room for real issues.

Wherever one falls on the ideological spectrum, there’s plenty to argue about—where should education funding come from? How do we eradicate poverty? What can we do to build, once more, the most robust economy and vibrant literary and arts culture in the world?

Fighting pettiness with pettiness yields only pettiness. When there is no substance to confront, no real ideas to engage with, you get the SC GOP debate,16 and an opposition party that’s alienated damn near everyone and now they’re looking at the date that brung ‘em, wondering how the hell they ever ended up here.