August 3rd, 2013

Bill Nye

Cramming For Midterms

What?  Is it 2016 all ready?

"Hello, and welcome to Capitol Gains, the show you watch when you want real analysis."

Wait...we haven't had the midterms yet.  Is it midterms all ready?

"And with us today is our dean of political studies...."

It can't be midterms.  It doesn't smell like a septic tank around here.

"...Peter G.  Could you please focus?"

But I'm usually brought on during the election season.  We're still a good eight to ten months away.

"Well, as you yourself have pointed out, there's a lot happening with the Republican party.  I mean, they are getting a lot of press...."

Of course, they're getting press.  They're a train wreck.

"...normally, I'd caution you against hyperbole, but I have to agree with you."

Last election, I said the R's had split into two based on ideology, one side wanting responsible government, and the other wanting a return to the Reagan 80's, when being white, Protestant, and male was the highest ideal you could aspire to.  I was wrong.

"About what?"

There are actually three factions fighting for control over the party.  That's why nothing has solidified.  There's no firm direction because no one is able to claim a mandate.

"So what are the three?"

You have the old guard that doesn't want to join the Century Of The Pacific, you have the dipshit Tea Partiers, and you have the moderates.

"...ooooooooh.  Now I see where you went wrong."

Indeed.  I had lumped the Tea Partiers with the old guard because their end goals were so similar.  Turns out their methods and self-images are too different for them to be more than allies when things are good.  When things aren't good, factions fight each other, even those on their side, because they want control.  Things are so far from good, each is looking to exploit the other.

"Can either of them exploit the moderates?"

They think they can.  And that's where they'll kill the party.


Gladly.  The biggest question facing the R's is, how do they expand their membership?  Everyone's getting old.  No one is joining the R's because they see a bunch of heartless discriminatory assholes and go, "Well, shit!  The Democrats are so much more accepting!"  The R's started making progress with the newer generations last Presidential election, when Mittens was all about fiscal responsibility, jobs, and so on.  Everyone took off once he embraced the party positions on gay rights, hate crimes, sexual rights, and so on.  Check the poll numbers, Mittens tumbled right around the time he agreed to be the party's candidate and Santorum and Newtie vowed to keep an eye on him.

"So how do they get those numbers back?"

They can't.  The R's will NEVER get people in the fold as long as they harbor racism, discrimination, and hatred.

"Don't the Tea Partiers give them a chance to remake their image?"

Nope.  The Tea Partiers are just as full of discrimination and hatred.  It's just based on arrogance and narcissism rather than outmoded societal ideas.  Tea Partiers congratulate themselves for knowing so much more about the Constitution and the Founding Fathers and how things ought to be.  They are elitists first and foremost, but they worship themselves instead of the 1950's.  The current generation wants to make things better, and they see cooperation as the way to do it.  Tea Partiers don't want to cooperate, they want to run things.

"That sounds like a complaint you've made before...."

Yes.  It's about Obama's staff that came up with things like the bailouts and Obamacare and that.  Obama brought in a bunch of people from the academic realms.  Good idea, but there was one problem -- no one had any practical real world experience.  They figured, "Implement these policies, and everything will fall into place."  The policies were implemented, they went back to academia to crow about how their vision influenced the President, and things fell apart.  It's like with science -- just because something should work doesn't mean it will.  By not considering outside factors or forming contingency plans, they created failed policies that didn't work, all because they figured they knew better and things would automatically work out.

"...yep, that sounds like the Tea Partiers, all right."

Tea Partiers are presenting a world of merit, where everyone who works hard and stays true to that work ethic will succeed.  But all it will do is reinforce the Ruling Class dynamic.  Education gets downplayed in favor of apprenticeships inside a social bubble, forging people who are clones of their teachers instead of bringing their own ideas to the world.  And all these apprenticeships that Randroid Paul, his dad, and other phony Libertarians promote are only in the financial world.  The reason for the lack of success is the collapse of the factory sector of the American economy.  It used to be that a person with little education could still make a good living, provide for his family, and have some pride because there were jobs that they could do.  With so many manufacturing jobs now overseas, people have nothing to do.  The middle class gets smaller because it is dying off.  These financial market jobs won't help people who aren't good at math.  They won't help people who are older -- the young'uns have been recently exposed to this, they're who we want!  All these people supporting the Tea Partier apprenticeship ideas will be left out in the street to die.  "Hey, if you wanted to work, you should have gone to school!  It's your fault you're in this situation!"

"Wow.  You're angry."

My boss is like that.  He actually thinks less of me and my co-workers because we don't have college degrees and such.  After all, if we had any actual talent, we wouldn't be working where we are, now, would we?  Remember, this is the same asshole who offered us gift cards for perfect attendance and actually told us all at a meeting we could spend the money on booze.  The little people matter.  They aren't human resources, they are human beings.  They don't deserve a life of endless toil and exploitation just because those in charge don't think they have anything to offer.  All I see with the Tea Partiers is my boss, looking for ways to improve his standing and institute what he thinks is right, and the hell with anyone else who doesn't match up to his standards.

"So why doesn't the old guard simply take them in?  Why fight them?"

Because even they see the damage the Tea Partiers do.  The Tea Partiers are so focused on championing their ideals, they have created the most dysfunctional Congress ever.  Partial government shutdowns.  Gridlock.  Approval ratings in the toilet.  The old guard welcomed the Tea Partiers because they saw a group they could exploit.  Turns out, they couldn't control them, and the reputations of the ones Capitol Hill dubs "The Kamikazes" is tainting their reputations.  Being seen as heartless racists?  That's fine with them, they can claim they are upholding traditional values.  But being seen as wackos?  That hurts their egos.  They are trying to separate them, and finding it isn't easy.  Politicians always forget how difficult it is to remove someone who is entrenched because they are entrenched themselves.

"Do you see this helping Obama and his possible successor Hilary?"

Oh, yeah.  Right now, Obama can do no wrong.  No matter what he does, the Tea Partiers will come up with something worse, and they will take the bullets, the op-ed pieces, the protests, everything.  There's already talk of a government shutdown this fall.  All Obama has to do is not go off the deep end and he wins by default.  The R's are trying to manage the damage.

"How are they doing?"

Shitty.  John Boehner can't control his own caucus in the House, and even non-Tea Party R's are rejecting him.  Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, is up for re-election in 2014 and he's in danger.  He only has a 45% approval rating in the latest Republican polls.  That's Republican polls, where they spin the facts to make him look good.  He's screwed, and he knows it, despite the fact that he has a $9.6 mil war chest since the 2012 elections.  To keep his phony baloney job, he needs to win three fights.

"The first?"

The challenge for the R nomination by Matt Bevin.  McConnell has to beat him soundly to appear invincible.  If he squeaks by, McConnell becomes politically vulnerable.  I'm not convinced Bevin can win, but he's looking good as a spoiler.  Bevin has money -- not just from contributions, but he's willing to put his own personal fortune in the race.  The Tea Partiers have thrown their support behind him.

"So Rand Paul is endorsing Bevin?"

Nope.  Randroid is supporting McConnell, the very Establishment he claims to oppose.  He even got McConnell to hire his campaign manager for his re-election.  Randroid isn't a Libertarian.  He's a typical politician bartering his power and influence.  Take away the hot button issues, and you have just another slimeball.

"Yikes.  The second?"

The general election against Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky's current secretary of state.  She hasn't won the nomination yet, but no one else will get it -- her family is too well politically connected in the state, the only way she won't get it is if she turns it down.  And she won't.  Those connections can deliver a close election to her, and she and McConnell are already polling within the margin of error.

"The third?"

The fall 2013 government shutdown.  If it happens, Boehner and McConnell will take the heat for not trying to work with Obama and they will be voted out.  It'll be too much of a political liability in 2014.

"Do you see the Tea Partiers as an actual political power, or just spoilers?"

Just spoilers.  John McCain is trying to keep things together, cooperating with Obama to get bills introduced and passed.  He's trying to nudge the old guard into compromising if not passing the torch.  He's trying to establish the R's are not the Tea Partiers.  Naturally, the Tea Partiers are seizing on this as proof that the R's are not staying true to their principles, they are wishy-washy, and need to be voted out.

"You don't think they'll succeed?"

They will with a few seats where people are stupid enough to buy their rhetoric.  But we've seen too many elections where Tea Party candidates act like ladyfinger firecrackers -- lots of noise, but nothing happens.  They won't make inroads anywhere they don't already have an influence.  Randroid will fail just like his dad repeatedly did.  Especially if the shutdown happens.  Chris Christie will be able to use that to show how he wants to fix things in his state but can't because of people like Randroid.  Randroid thinks he will expand his ranks.  As he gets closer, people will unite against him to keep him away from the Presidency.  Remember:  people don't vote FOR candidates, they vote AGAINST them.

"Well, thank you for helping shed some light on things.  Hopefully, you will have some happy stuff to talk about after the fall 2013 session."

Not bloody likely.
Derpy Stamp

Confidential To....


You are seriously going to try and screw me?

You've known me for how long and you don't realize what an extraordinarily bad idea that is?

You will simply set me back.  I have enough to ruin you.

Your move.

Step It Up

I get very nervous hanging around sports fans.  The only exception is basketball, because I am immersed enough to fit in.  Other sports, I only have a cursory knowledge of.  As a result, I am always nervous I will say something that will be seen as blasphemy.  Especially here in Chicago, a notorious sports town.

Now, some things are obvious.  For example, I know, when in a Chicago sports bar, you do NOT, under ANY circumstances, talk shit about the Bears.  One guy I used to work with didn't heed this common sense advice, and thought he'd act all tough in a bar.  He missed work for a few days, came back bruised, and according to a later girlfriend, actually lost one testicle.  Baseball?  That's easy for me, all I have to do is say I was a Bill Veeck man and I will never forgive baseball for making him sell the Sox.  That gets me a pass on a lot of shit.  However, as the Steve Bartman incident proves, sports fans will attack someone not even tangentially involved or completely unaware if it gives them a chance to show their loyalty to their false gods.  A person could have no idea what is going on, and suddenly find themselves ostracized.

Case in point, Justin Bieber (full disclosure:  not a fan of his).  This is a picture of Bieber when he stopped in Chicago during the Blackhawks' hockey championship, when they won the Stanley Cup.  There's already lots of hate for Bieber, but this was apparently over the line.  Can you identify what the problem is?

Bieder Cup

Apparently, it is traditional for people to NOT stand on the team logo on the floor of the team clubhouse.  The Hawks have it roped off during press conferences.  The Boston Bruins, in fact, have a staffer act as a guard for their logo during press conferences.  Yeah, that's a much more sensible alternative to simply not putting the goddamn logo on the floor.  I never would have known this, and probably would have made the same mistake.

So, various Hawks and fans started slamming Bieber for this slight.  Among those coming down with a case of the vapors was Chris Wilkerson, Mark Wegener, and Josh Kaye, all of Des Plaines, IL, who wrote in an email, “We don't appreciate bandwagoners (sounds like I was right about not being welcome to join in the celebration of the Hawks' victory -- G).  When we saw Justin Bieber not only stand on the logo, but touch the cup as well, we were astonished.”

On July 27, the Blackhawks had their annual fan convention.  And the above trio came with a giant cutout of Justin Bieber's face.  They wanted to put it in front of the Stanley Cup and get their pictures taken standing on it.  The security guard told them no, not in front of the Cup.  They tried it a little ways away.  The guard didn't stop them.

So here's the victory pose:

Bieber 1

For those without a scorecard, Wilkerson is in the black shirt, Wegener is in white, and Kaye is red.  They started a Twitter feed to show photos of them and other people standing on Bieber's head.  They wound up with over 100 images, including Tommy Hawk, the Hawks' mascot.

Tommy Hawk

Nice to see fans uniting in a display of good sportsmanship.  This is so much better and more mature than just saying the guy made a mistake and letting bygones be bygones.
Peter G

Feud Truck

The whole thing started on July 22.  Brendan O'Connor works for Milk Truck, a food truck service that specializes in grilled cheese sandwiches.  Brendan worked on an order for Glass Lewis & Co., a shareholder advisory firm.  After the transaction was concluded, Brendan tweeted as follows:

"Shout out to the good people of Glass, Lewis & Co. for placing a $170 order and not leaving a tip. @glasslewis"

Well, the folks at Glass Lewis & Co. did not appreciate public tip-shaming and called the boss at Milk Truck to complain.  Two days later, Brendan was fired.

"Milk Truck @milktrucknyc
@glasslewis rgrding yest. tweet by an employee--it was flat out wrong. we do NOT in any way support or condone this behavior-our apologies."

"Glass Lewis & Co. @GlassLewis
@milktrucknyc We appreciate it, and look forward to doing business with you again!"

And that's the end of that, right?

Wrong.  O’Connor also works as a reporter for the New York City culture blog The Awl.  He wrote a nice, long article about the incident, and it ran on July 30, this past Tuesday.  Some highlights:

"This group placed a huge order: three of this sandwich, four of another, three of the one that takes forever on the grill, two of the one that takes forever to assemble. Five or six milkshakes. The order came to just under $170.

"I was making sandwiches, another worker took the order and a third made the milkshakes and watched the grills. A line grew while we worked, and we had to tell other customers that their lunch orders would take longer than usual. They paid; I asked my co-worker who was dealing with the money how much of a tip they’d left. They had left actually no tip at all. (They had paid with a card so we checked the cash tips to see if there’d been a bump. There hadn’t.)

"I asked some of the group as they were picking up their orders if they had intended to not tip. They hemmed and hawed and walked away."

Well, that jerked the stopper.  People began flaming Milk Truck and Glass Lewis on Twitter.  O'Connor is stepping back from the story, saying he doesn't want to "fan the flames" (bull shit, buddy -- G) and The Awl is publicly asking followers not to flame Milk Truck.  They are saying nothing about leaving Glass Lewis alone, though.

And this is why, should you post stuff on a blog, don't use anything that ties you to your real job.  As Howard The Duck says, "ALL actions have consequences."