Monday, October 17, 2016

Two Clintons, two Bushes, one Obama and the wingbats' Trump all

Like showing up to the fruit stand later in the day, in a short time, it will fall upon the American people the painful duty of selecting a leader from two undesirable options.  Bokolis is not going to get into a full-on tale of the tape- that's not the point of this.  It's not so important to me to determine the better or more preferable choice, or the lesser of two evils- I gather supporting one side always partly been about not liking the other side but, these days, it seems predominately about that, regardless of the merits of your preferred side- so much as it is to reflect on how we've gotten here, including wondering WTF is wrong with the Republican party that they let themselves into a position where the Trump character is the prevailing sentiment of its voter base.  I don't care to get into solutions, as there's little chance this fixes itself nicely.

Once upon of time, we had Bill Clinton as President.  Halfway through his first term, the Republican party gained control of both houses of Congress for the first time since Hoover*.  They ran in there like it was a Black Friday sale and, like regime change from one dictatorship to another, undid 60 years of legislation in a hot minute.

* Bokolis knows that the Republicans snuck in a couple of sessions where they were the majority.  I said control.

In those days, Clinton profiled very much like Obama did in his first days.  Clinton more or less came out of nowhere.  Despite numerous derailments, he managed to gain his party's nomination.  With Ross Perot involved- think Ron Paul with a sprinkle of the pragmatic side of Trump- in the general election, enough votes were pulled away from George Bush (41) that Clinton carried some southern states and rode to victory with only 43% of the vote.

While they both had shallow ascensions, Obama was more obscure than Bill Clinton.  Obama gained the party nomination essentially because Hillary Clinton is unlikeable.  He was able to win because the opponent was carrying a flighty hockey mom, never mind that he fooled all the youngins that change was afoot- Bokolis knew better, of course- but, after the mess the Republicans made during the prior eight years, they deserved to go 20 years without a Republican in the White House.

Similarly, Obama didn't, then couldn't get shit done.  He had carte blanche, even more so than Dubya after 9/11, to rein in and shatter the banks, which managed to scuttle the economy in less than 10 years after given their own carte blanche.   Even with ~59% control of both houses, he tanked, opting for, and, perhaps, being bought off with, Obamacare, which, far from universal health, is a massive giveaway to the HMOs- like when the carting company comes to your business and tells you that you have to use them for garbage disposal...and, if you don't, when they aren't vandalizing your business, they call the health inspector on you.

Then, when he deservedly lost control of the House, its next Speaker spent four years cockblocking any legislation, doubtless at the behest of the political donor class.  Boehner, when no longer beholden to the money, lashed out at his erstwhile puppetmasters when he stepped down from Congress, intimating that these tactics are no good for the long-term well-being of the nation...way to get religion there.

Clinton's shallow victory was just as much a repudiation of Bush for going back on his "read my lips..." election promise and raising taxes, as well as for a recession happening on his watch.  Ironically, his broken promise, ill-timed to boot, was for the good of the nation in the intermediate term.

The country had changed a lot since the last time there was not a Republican in the White House.  Because of the markedly lower tax rates of the highest earners- even after Bush raised them- said highest earners found it expedient to use this money-directly or indirectly- to help influence policy, which is another way of saying tilting the playing field further in their favor.  The outgrowth was a new breed of Republicans, who, either beholden to their backers or married to a perverse ideology, sought to implement the wishes of said backers.  The 104th Congress was the payoff.

Clinton found it impossible to get much done.  Moreover, because the political donor class was still manageable back then, and it had been a good while since we'd poured money into a boondoggle of a war, significant money still found its way into research and development in the '90s.  This led to a rolling economy in the middle of the decade and the tech boom-turned-bubble in the late part.

Clinton got with the program.  His second term was what Bokolis jokingly likes to say is the best Republican president we've ever had.  He signed all sorts of shit the Republicans ran through Congress, including the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which effectively undid part of the Glass-Stegall Act and paved the way for the finance monoliths of Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo...funny how the next bubble was already being inflated before the previous bubble had even burst.

Not content with having a Democrat president who is functioning as a Republican, the Republicans tried to run Clinton out of office under the pretense that he was lying about smashing out one or more broads.  Clintons' levels of impropriety depend on your moral code.  Not everyone's is the same, so Bokolis would back off trying to rub Clinton's nose in it.  This kind of temperance is lost on a bunch of petulant zealots, seemingly having no moral code of their own, yet hell-bent on imposing one on you.  The alarm bells on this new-age McCarthyism couldn't be heard over the closing bell- these days, Wall Street money buys whack jobs all the air they'd like.

When it was time to elect Clinton's successor, well, we didn't quite accomplish that.  We had this WWF (E) dusty finish, where we eventually installed another George Bush (43).  Whereas our first impression of his father was as goofy George because he didn't often come off as a commanding presence, he was downright stately compared to Dubya, who came off as a straight-up fratboy dipshit.

This Bush embraced an economic theory that his father called voodoo economics.  Without getting too technical, the basic tenet of supply-side economics is that, by reducing taxes, the extra money to the taxpayer will be churned at a fast enough rate so that tax revenue will eventually increase.  In theory, there are conditions where this is possible; the most likely would be where the extra money is placed in the hands of those who would spend the money as fast as they get it.

In practice, however, they gave the tax breaks to the highest earners, who have enough money so that they don't spend money as fast as they get it.  Such tax breaks didn't come to the lower half of earners.  When someone called bullshit! on that, we were told to pay no attention to that man behind the curtain; that, similarly, the richest having more money means that the economy will churn so that everybody will have more money.

In reality, this tilts the field so that the factors of production are concentrated in fewer hands, who then control the spigot.  This means that, far from having more money, the best that everybody else gets is a low-paying job working for the guy with all the tax breaks.  Mr Taxbreaks doesn't spend his lighter-taxed profits in any way that benefits his workers...well, he might buy pizza on Fridays or some shit.  More likely, he will spend his money on tax attorneys and legislators' ears to further tilt the playing field.

Quite ironic, isn't it, that, while the theory claims that the resulting increased velocity of money would overcome the decreased rate of taxation, the effect on velocity is to slow it.  Propaganda, obligations and complacency conspire to convince the masses that this is is the best course, that rich guy problems are somehow far worse than their own.

That wasn't true in the days of the robber barons, it wasn't true during Reagan's presidency- Reagan's legacy greatly benefits from the economy having nowhere to go but up; he correctly made obvious moves, but overdid it- and it's not true today.

If following along is too much trouble, simply remember that, if everybody had money, it wouldn't be worth anything.  Nonetheless, Bokolis maintains that, if you have nothing better to do with your money than lobby the government, then you have too much of it and are deserving of a punitive tax rate.

Dubya's history is still reasonably fresh, as it still shapes our present.  So, beyond the two tax cuts and two wars and two market crashes, Bokolis doesn't feel the need to rehash it.  Suffice it to say that he is a lowly-rated president.

However, he didn't ride in that way.  Even though Dubya was installed and not elected, even though the air was coming out of the tech bubble, times were good and there wasn't enough conviction in Al Gore for us to bet bent out of shape.  If that had happened in today's climate or, if we had some hindsight, shit might've just jumped off.

But, Dubya got a relatively wide berth.  In the aftermath of 9/11, despite a recession, after the bread and circuses tax cut, we gave him full support.  It took until about when the markets bottomed out for some real grumblings.  Even after it became apparent that he was a blithering fool- as opposed to the affable idiot we'd already known- we gave him a second term, likely because we were pot-committed.

The war criminal pieces started soon thereafter.  Whether that's the case or not, Dubya surely earned the vitriol.  But, with Obama, the worst president ever nonsense started and his ass hadn't yet warmed the seat.  In fact, the petulance extends to all things liberal. The upshot was that, unlike the Bush bashers there could be no credence given to the Obama bashers, no matter how ineffective Obama turned out to be.

It used to be, about 15-20 years ago, that you'd run into a few of these yahoos, indoctrinated into thinking keep calm and fuck those evil liberals.  These days, the countryside is full of them, lathered up that liberals are plotting to overrun their cow-town with Blacks, Jews and queers...and, oh yes, Arabs now.  Bokolis wondered why that is.  It could be that

  • the internet had become more navigable to all,
  • Facebook had turned to the old folks home it is,
  • back then, we could play online poker and trade music files, leaving not as much time for 9/11 conspiracy theories and porn,
  • the contentious nature of war, and the contentious circumstances of the Iraq war, have triggered a pervasion of a choose sides mentality,
  • after their boy took such abuse and, hopped up on conservative talk radio, the right-wing crazies were loaded for bear,
  • that we're simply bigger jerks than we were

That last point is definitely true.  Bokolis would like to link this to the rise to exalted status currently enjoyed by the corporation, which favors such sociopathic behavior.  But that is PhD-thesis shit, so I don't want to do it here and deny any of those muthafuckas the opportunity.

If you buy the idea, and you believe shit rolls downhill, you can picture it rolling down to the rank and file and carried over to the public sector, as the utter lack of ability to run a tight ship in government opened the way for the pragmatic to step into the void.  Of course, it doesn't happen so that we correct to some happy medium- we get some Newton's laws shit happening, where the opposite undesirable scenario takes hold.  In this case, it's the reign of the hyper-pragmatic asshole.

In that regard, Giuliani was the archetype.  Those who had suffered him since his days as US Attorney- no, he didn't lock up Bokolis or any associates, but we used to call him Giussolini- knew him to be a dickhead bent on taking over the city.  As mayor, he got shit done, being a massive prickbag in the process.  Fewer guns (and panhandlers) on the streets cleaned up the city for the chain stores, but also gave room to the fake thugs and frat boys, who, no longer fearing the reign of the tec, found voice to chirp.  Nonetheless, for his work in the aftermath of 9/11, when a guy like him comes in handy, the cow-towners adopted and christened him America's mayor, just as we were getting rid of him.

While they didn't follow the boilerplate, the Giuliani image spread to the rest of the nation, spitting out all these tough-talking, ass-kickers.  Around these parts, a noteworthy example is Chris Christie- that fake thug all grown up, still believing he's a tough guy, but even money in any conflict to have strips of bacon cut off his back.  In politics, they use the term chickenhawk, which is not an exact depiction, but gets the point across.

Christie was always an asshole- Bridgegate should have eliminated all doubt.  Sometimes, through some anomaly, they have charisma.  Bokolis has been aware of Donald Trump on the TV since I started giving a shit about things other than sports and cartoons.  I've always understood him to be a windbag, and likely a scumbag.

He's been threatening to run for President- always as a Democrat- since the '80s.  But, he's always been the essence of no labor pains, just the baby.  It never stuck, but Bokolis always sensed that, as much as he lacked the necessary diligence, he was throwing things out there to see what stuck.

At some point, Trump went national, with a TV show acting like the sociopath described above, like a Steinbrenner.  It didn't so much reveal Trump to the masses as it revealed the masses to Trump.  As a NYC parochial, he was stuck operating as a Democrat.  He's always said this kind of shit, though to a lesser degree, as he didn't often get his (figurative) hair mussed up like he has in this campaign.  But, nationally, he played better to the peckerwoods as a Republican.  This switch quite likely played no small part in why it stuck this time.

People have romantic notions of themselves.  Many are delusional enough that they see a bunch of themselves in him, or delusional enough to want to be Trump (or at least a contemporary), a guy with fuck you money, a guy who talks a good fuck- or at least a good pussy-grab- a guy who looks like he gets shit done.  Maybe they think they are just a half-step removed from being able to project as such a bad-ass.  This is the new American Dream.

So, irrespective of reality being almost certainly far from it, all you have to tell them that Liberals are conspiring to keep you from this dream.  That's more than enough to turn many men, even thinking men, into wingnuts, or at least a bunch of Barry Goldwaters.  As can be implied, this had been in place well before Trump; he is an effect, not a cause.

He is also a tool, but not so much in the pejorative sense.  Considering Hillary had bought her nomination beforehand, she had the time to engineer her matchup.  If there was one Republican she was certain to defeat, it was Trump, where she wouldn't have to campaign on the issues; just wind him up and wait.  It was a total sucker job, only possible if you have obstinate ideologues at the helm.

Trump winds up being a vehicle to indicate how, you can throw up any dingbat and they will still get the support of 40% of the people- 43% if the opponent is utterly unlikeable.  He could never be a viable candidate- I mean, really, WTF would have to happen so that a wave develops, not to carry Trump to victory, but for a majority to conclude, yeah, we this is the muthafucka need in there.  As the good of the nation would demand an honest-to-goodness Republican, Bokolis laments that the party was snookered into running him up there.

Bokolis supposes that, as they have during the previous two Democratic administrations, the Republicans get what they want just the same, as Hillary fights almost as dirty as Cheney, is as beholden to the political donor class as Boehner was and will do its bidding.  The only thing different is the sign on the bathroom.  It's left for me to rhetorically wonder, as many a shady associate used to say, who's fucking who?

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