Thursday, March 31, 2016

Notes on the Easter Uprising

this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Easter Uprising in Dublin which was the violent curtain-raiser on England's final departure from Ireland.
Its important to remember that the seven original members of that short lived "provisional government" proclaimed in the Dublin Post Office were by and large of a romantic disposition. They had no illusions as to their final fates, in fact they'd all be court martialed and executed about ten days later by revenge minded British Forces.
No...they were looking for an sort of ultimate act of expiation, deliberately surrendering their lives to rouse Ireland to a final show down with England.
And...despite the initial disdain of the Dublin citizenry....the scheme worked. Of course British "fell for it" indulging violent reprisals (including shooting Dublin's beloved town lunatic Sheehy Skeffington) and standing up the Provision Government up against a wall and gunning them down. It was a melodramatic end for one and all, worthy of Dickens...and it was more than enough to touch off a powder keg. We disdain purely romantic notions at our peril when making revolutions.
Of course the irony is, the men who finally freed Ireland, the De Valeras, The Collins'...were very hard ruthless antagonists indeed, nothing of the romantic about them. They were reconciled to doing "reddish work at night" sans qualms.
And that my friends is the enduring Irony That Is Ireland....Romantic Start, Realist Finish.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

I am trying...with a little more effort than the Evening Newscasts

To refrain from allowing this blog to descend into "what stupid thing did Donald Trump say today"....its easy writing but damnably repetitive.
But I guess yesterday he decided we should allow Japan and South Korea to acquire nuclear weapons (in contravention of their obligations under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty) so that the US can basically "quit and go home" in East Asia.
I mean...any else remember when George McGovern was accused of being an isolationist and an appeaser shit he was Global Cop #1 compared to Donald Trump!
Arming South Korea and Japan with nukes destabilizes the region ramps up confrontation with the PRC and either puts Peking on the short road to it's cherished dream of regional domination or lights the fuse to a nuclear war in East Asia....and believe Trump can build no wall high enough around the USA to keep out the fallout.
I mean South Korea doesn't have the size and strategic depth to deploy a nuclear force with any inherent second strike reliability. Japan might fare better in that department but not by much assuming they even wanted to go back on sixty plus years of understandable "nuclear chariness".
Assuming something like this came to pass you could basically set the Union of Concerned Scientists Doomsday Clock at five past midnight and be done with it.
Its a stupid idea from someone that is naturally frustrated by the nuances and contradictions of strategic thinking.
For better or worse there is a reason why nations abide under the USA's "nuclear umbrella", mostly because within defined parameters, the damn thing works.  And if people are tired of the USA's status as "Texas Ranger to the World" wait til Peking gives the job a try....

Sunday, March 27, 2016

On the other hand...

Jeb Bush along with the other also rans must think if they can just prevent Trump from clearing the boards at the RNC this summer they might have a shot at stampeding the delegates.  So that might account for the Former Governor of Florida's endorsement of his once hated rival Ted Cruz.
I think this is a forlorn hope at best, a second ballot stampede away from Trump would require a great deal of preparatory skullduggery....and I don't think the current GOP leadership has the requisite skill set to pull that off.
From that perspective endorsing Cruz comes at the low cost it affirms Jeb's party loyalty while doing nothing to really advance the Senator's chances.
Frankly I think this lot are all living in Fantasyland, blatantly superceding the expressed will of the GOP Primaries has to come at a catastrophic cost....then again Jeb brings so little to the table fantasizing seems his last recourse.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

True to Form...

Jeb Bush has wasted what little political capital he has left by endorsing Teds Cruz of all people for President.
Mind you, Jeb's options were limited he did after all fruitlessly vilify the entire GOP Presidential Roster in NH including a special animus for John Kasich....I suppose it was either Cruz...or Bolt the Partei.
Therein lies the rub, the endorsement is a craven admission from Jeb that he has no intention of quitting the GOP over Trump, he'll follow the given political parameters and accept Trump's nomination if it happens.
La Famiglia Arbusto still has plenty of props with the republicans and if Jeb simply kept quiet he could fuel a "deviationist third party tendency" by keeping silent.
But that kind of guts is denied The Bush Family, so much moreso than Ronald Reagan the contemporary GOP with it's perpetual foothold on a restive minority ever dependent on manipulating a rejectionist wing of the White Working Class is a creation of Georges Senior and Junior...and now their creation has turned on them with fangs bared.
I doubt Jeb will do much for Ted let alone Trump should the developer seize the nomination but he'll be a voice for unity with the pious hope that The Donald loses the general election and thus somehow La Famiglia Arbusto and their jobbers can still rule over the GOP rubble.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Lets Talk about Fear....

in the wake of the Brussels Attack, the Fear Level must be waaa-ay higher than the DHS "Threat Level".
The mundane setting of the bombing (air port subway) imprint themselves on the average news consumer almost all of whom must utilize such mundane settings in their daily life and thus can easily project themselves into notional carnage.
Fear is an emotion....and emotions have to be ruled, but they must be ruled from a place of understanding or else panic and or craziness ensues.
As liberals we tend to over rationalize (that Utilitarian Mantra "The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number" undercuts us in situations like this) attributing the fear to demagoguery at home and religious frenzy abroad.
It bears repeating that high body count or low, the fear comes from a real place and we are gonna have to abide in that real place understanding the "emotional content" even directing our response to that content while staying rational.
And that is the hardest mission at a time like this....and I write that as someone who has to take a poorly run indifferently secured subway every day.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Even my Ninety Three Year Old Mother

(who at various times had everyone from James Michael Curley to John F. Kennedy as her Congressman) thinks the Annual South Boston Saint Patrick's Day Breakfast ought to be quietly discontinued.
Her reasoning is simply "Politicians aren't witty anymore".
And you know what she is right, that Breakfast is a vast endangered species refuge for tone deaf  politicos and their leaden gubernatorial sense of humor.
But they got that way because we are living in an era of 24-7 political surveillance, these boyos are watched all the time, so my dictum is "as surveillance increases, spontaneity declines" hence the dearth of wit last Sunday.
Back in the 1950's democrat Adlai Stevenson was a noted wit even without his gag writers & even a stiff like Richard Nixon could get off a good line now and again....but these days all our elected officials live in mortal terror of a thoughtless bon mot with "ramifications"....
So I say turn it into a charitable dinner for the homeless or something...keep the parade (that much is worthwhile) but ditch the breakfast it's become a torpid embarrassment.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Rubio Outski

another overhyped wingnut fidget bites the political dust. We heard a rumor that Marco had to ask his wife's permission before he could drop out with the remnants of his dignity intact.
My guess is, Marco might be cynical enough to troll for Trump's Vice Presidential slot, especially if it looks like Trump might lose, fighting the good fight in that context could pay dividends for Rubio he wanted to run again in 2020...besides Rubio is a twitchy selfish hypocritical character who'd sell out his own and the nation for small advantage indeed.
Its also proof positive that Rubio has no self respect at all but that's been clear for months and month....

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Right in Schedule...

Plymouth County State Senator Dan Wolfe is making Bernie Sandersish noises about running for Governor in 20018.
I wish him well, it sounds like his head in the right place, I reiterate however my contention that sad to say money is gonna be a big factor in that race.  That 3million large that Baker has ginned up, sets the bar high for democrats and scares off donors so it works in Charlie's favor in two dimensions from the git-go.

Right now, as democrats, we ought to scale our ambitions to our resources, lets have a thorough vetting of the issues in the primary among a good cross section of candidates, the party faithful et al should be consulted at the ballot box so to speak.
Let us all further resolve NOT to let 2018 become a re-run of 1994 where poor Mark Roosevelt had run statewide in the General Election with 60K in the bank while OUR legislative leaders performed the Houdini-class trick of sitting on their hands while toasting to the prosperity of then Governor Weld.
So some rough party unity will be necessary and certain leadership personalities (who admittedly must negotiate with Governor Baker every day) should be put on notice that their party affiliation imposes obligations in an election year.
Thats all I can say for the moment, health to Senator Wolfe's efforts.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Governor Baker has raised

a record three million dollars for his still notional re-election campaign in 2018, this is an entirely record breaking amount of money given the fact that Charlie is still in his first term. This is on top of some three hundred thousand in largely unaccountable money Baker raised to purge the GOP's state committe during this year's presidential primary.
The three million large is pretty daunting, the volume initially suggests the usual successful effort to intimidate democrats against running against him. Given that sort of challenge we might need a candidate who can self finance, that is if anyone bestirs themselves to run at all in 2018 as a democrat that is...
As for that three hundred K that seems to be a Boston Globe Spotlight series in the making I for one would LOVE to know who contributed and if they had any business before the Commonwealth, I guarantee you that funny money is like water it seeks its own level so it seems possible that some gamey sources were contributors.
But will The Globe investigate?
That is the question....

Friday, March 11, 2016

From what I hear

The Governor had some success in purging the State GOP Committee of some of it's more mossy paleo conservatives. Supposedly there is some ill feeling down ticket given the rather ruthless way Baker raised funds (mostly on the sly) and used all the advantages of incumbency.
But then, the State Committee doesn't amount to a Hill of Beans when the Party in Question controls the Governorship. Baker didn't want anyone endorsing Ted Cruz or starting donnybrooks at Trump rallies thats all.
Of course you do what you like when you have a seventy three percent approval rating, rankled memories count for little until and if said approval ratings start to plummet then the knives come out.
I give Baker credit for intuiting that if he is to to hold onto power he has to make the State GOP his Vassal one reflective of his ever shifting values and priorities. Given his lack of any safe refuge in the National GOP he must by default make himself a fortress at home. It's not like he is on anyone's short list for Vice President or anything.
But that fundraising, entirely veiled that requires vigilance, imagine democrats raising money on a similar mission or fanatic conservatives on some mission of Holy Grievance?

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Plan A is ...

for Kasich to prevail in the Ohio Primary, Rubio to win Florida and then make a hard case that Trump unelectability warrants a brokered GOP convention.
Unfortunately Rubio is down by double digits in his home state and Kasich is apparently behind Trump in Ohio, let me note as well that Trump pretty consistently performs in lock step with his polling.
So likely neither Kasich nor Rubio will survive next Tuesday (John Kasich in particular is giving off a very scary ineffectual "Merkin Muffley" vibe out there in CampaignSpace) which leaves the GOP with "Plan B" which comes down to "Cruz versus Trump" or a massively ugly shit fight in a pig sty.
But for those who enjoy bellicose authoritarians arguing about their vast areas of sheer ugly agreement this will be an all star extravaganza. Ted Cruz is as big a divider as Trump he has gotten something of a pass so far but that can't last not if he is the last man standing in the AntiDonald Coalition....given Rubio's twitchy weirdness Cruz could well be Trump's VP....or the Republican National Convention could simply auto destruct.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016


Stop-n-Shop's unionized workforce is negotiating well into the 11th hour for a new contract with management. Monday night I saw a button on the apron of a pert colleen of a cashier at Stop-n-Shop that read "I don't want to Strike, But I Will If I Have To..."
I assured her I'd honor any picket line the union cared to put up real, digital or metaphoric....the Overclass sat back and turned this country into a "Service Economy" dreaming of an open shop all over the Factory Floors of Asia. So if we are going to make THAT economy more equitable, then things like service union strikes must be honored and supported, believe me if push comes to shove I'll hit Roche Brothers if I have to....but I'm with the cashiers and baggers on this one.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

MBTA Fares are going up in July....

And late night service has officially gone the way of the Mastodon. So taken together, the Governor's answer to the MBTA Service Crisis is less performance for a higher price, exactly as I predicted last year.
Thanks Charlie a fee increase is a tax increase that a "fiscally conservative" GOP Governor of Massachusetts CAN ALWAYS get away with, look at Mitt Romney he raised every fee in the book sans a ripple. The Boston Globe barely noticed....
What next will the Governor bid on some third hand oxen to pull the Red Line Cars?

Monday, March 07, 2016

Nancy Reagan R.I.P.

When its time to write the late First Lady's biography she may just enter the history books as the most  creative thinker among Ronald Reagan's advisors. Granted, that ain't saying much, Messrs Deaver, Regan and Wineberger were famously sunny smiling California conservatives and as rigid as a steel girder with respect to ideology & governance.
It would never have occurred to any of them to recast Ronald Reagan in his second term as an Apostle of Peace and Reconciliation with the then USSR, that, was very much Nancy Reagan's idea.
And what the hell, it worked.
For a while there at life's outset Nancy Davis could have been a first wave feminist, she was a Smith Graduate and a working self reliant actress in Hollywood before she met "Ronnie" and became his second wife and very public spousal idolator.  By all accounts She was Betty Crocker in Public and very much Queen Elizabeth in Private....very domineering in other words. Rumor has it she reeled him in with a strategic and very old fashioned pregancy, ah but Nancy was always a master of very shopworn but effective tropes. Reagan would have always ended up a conservative but he might not have grabbed off the US Presidency without Nancy.
He certainly would never have held onto it without her, the man was clearly sliding into his dotage as early as October 1984 and who knows Nancy likely saw the terrible symptoms a lot earlier than the rest of us. She was virtually co-president in his second whatever he got done at that point it was thanks to her, soothsayers and astrologers and all. Ah but actors are a superstitious lot and Beverly Hills is given over to odd fits of cultism, in retrospect the urge to the supernatural on the part of Ron & Nancy can be at least understood.
And sad to say, the old woman goes to her grave as one of the few republicans capable of working with President Obama in a honest bipartisan basis When he freed up stem cell research Mrs Reagan came to the White House and got a Royal Reception, ah but the Obama's got what we used to call "Good Breeding".
The great irony I think of Nancy Reagan's life is that Ronnie probably married her because as a B-Movie actress (mostly) she'd never be competition for his own fitful career in the 1950's...and of course the woman ends up all but running the Free World.
RIP Mrs Reagan....

Friday, March 04, 2016

A couple of pundit memes to remember as we go forward

"The Brokered Convention Column" thats gonna get a lot of play in the coming weeks at least until someone locks up the GOP nomination, which is still Trump so far as I can see. Columnists love this shit, they all wanna write big bestsellers about "Inside the 2016 GOP Convention: When the Party of Lincoln Autodestructed". Granted the GOP hasn't booked a genuinely "brokered convention" since 1952 but a misguided lust for drama informs the punditariat and so the meme marches on.

"The Third Party Bid that Throws the US Election into the US House", Columnists really get morbidly excited about this one, and while third parties have conditioned some electoral outcomes the election itself hasn't been decided in the US House for one hundred and forty years. Ah but what about 2000? Well that one should have gone to the US House until Scalia's Court got the Boot can otherwise take this as a one chance in one hundred and forty, could be a factor but likely any notional third party will alter turn out not the ultimate electoral venue.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

If the answer to Donald Trump's candidacy

is "Mitt Romney and a New SuperPAC" then I think it's time for the RNC to board up shop and decamp for the caves.
Romney has no credibility nationally and if mere money was gonna stop Donald Trump that 17 million that Jeb Bush reputedly spent in NH would have knocked the NY Developer back into the cheap acts by now.
No...all of this is predicated on flanking Trump on the right, but He has already a commanding and impregnable position there with a lifeline to the independents. Gaming this means cutting the field down, getting serious and building a coalition, that requires sacrifice and a ground game, right now none of that is in play so its advantage Trump no matter what the Former Viceroy has to say.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Watching Trump's Victory Speech

Chris Christie is staring at Donald Trump with the canine devotion Galleazzo Ciano once reserved for Benito Mussolini, good call there Governor Baker.
Certainly as The Donald ranted on in his signature style Christie developed a sad thousand yard stare one associates with an abused dog, a metaphoric studded leather collar and leash around his fat arrogant neck.
I'll Christie was praying to be indicted even if only to get him out of Trump's entourage....
Watching this rabble on a Super Tuesday Night is an ugly unpleasant chore in extremis, but Christie's humiliation was precious and lovely to see indeed.
My main takeaway is that that unemployment is down, but anxiety is up, democrats are enjoined to pay heed to that.  We cannot match or even countenance xenophobia as a party, but we should recognize that a good chunk of fear and loathing comes from decades of the feckless outsourcing of jobs to foreign countries. Granted "The Outsourced" are turning their wrath on the wrong parties in this fight, but thats par for the course in US Politics. We need to recognize the legitimacy of some of these emotions....cuz they come from very real fears.

I am expecting a Trump Romp tonight

Although with usual caveat that "anything can happen" (Trump has pretty much performed close to his polling numbers down the the line at least so far), a lot I think depends on whether or not Ted Cruz can "hold" Texas. If he can, then that sends a signal to Kasich and Rubio that they too can at least hope to firewall themselves as Favorite Son Candidates which is a pretty big comedown but it least it isn't a route.
Exactly how any of that stops Trump is hard to say, it just keeps the pot stirred for a few more weeks at best. Prevent Trump from being nominated at this point may come down to some serious "Florida Recount Style" political skullduggery at the convention and I suspect the maachers may not have the stomach for something that crude and blatant.