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The Velveteen Ocelot

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Hometown: Minnesota
Member since: Mon Oct 27, 2003, 12:54 AM
Number of posts: 81,746

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Bernie's "revolution" is the fever dream of privileged young people,

mostly men and mostly white, and, like so many movements that can exist only in theory, it relies on the absolute certainty of its proponents that they, and only they, are correct. There can be no other way to repair the failures of society than their way. No compromise is permitted; any compromise is incontrovertible evidence that the alleged compromiser has sold out to The Establishment. And The Establishment is anyone other than the revolutionaries themselves. This position has not changed since the '60s, when the Socialist Workers' Party recruited small groups of privileged white boys on college campuses who mostly engaged in pleasuring themselves, ideologically speaking, with Trotskyist slogans. Women were allowed to participate, too, by making coffee and running the mimeograph machine - as long as they stayed quiet and allowed groping. Most of these proto-bros grew up and figured out the bullshit, but Bernie just soldiered on for the ensuing forty years, banging his New Left drum and naming post offices in Vermont. At last a new crop of idealistic, rigid, bubble-dwelling young ideologues has made him their cult leader, and neither can give up the other even though The Revolution still isn't going anywhere.
Posted by The Velveteen Ocelot | Thu Apr 2, 2020, 10:39 AM (0 replies)

The ghost of James Buchanan is celebrating.

Late at night, in the bowels of the White House, a spectral meeting is taking place. It's the weekly poker game of the ghosts of James Buchanan, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson, Warren Harding and Richard Nixon. The Worst Presidents Ever.

"What do you think, gentlemen?" said Buchanan as he cut the cards. "Do you think this Trump will be joining us soon...? You know, I'm no longer the worst president ever. All the historians think he's the worst and he's not even dead yet."

"I expect he might be, what with this bug that's going around," said Harding. "You know, I've been getting grief now for almost a hundred years for my corrupt administration but we were a bunch of Boy Scouts compared to him. It'll be nice to finally move down a couple notches on the Worst Presidents list."

Nixon lit an ectoplasmic cigar. "When I lived here I did have a few problems. It's nice to come back and haunt the place but I hate to see it occupied by such a bunch of low-life grifters. Shit, I never made a nickel off Watergate."

Buchanan dealt the cards. Pierce looked at his hand and shook his head. "Crap, I never had much luck with this game when I was alive, either."

"I got impeached," Johnson said. "I didn't deserve it and I was acquitted. Trump got impeached and acquitted, too, but he committed more impeachable offenses than I ever even thought of. He's damn lucky this Senate had even less balls than mine did. Hell, all I did was try to fire Edwin Stanton. I kind of fucked up Reconstruction, too, but..."

"You were a terrible bigot," said Nixon.

"You should talk," Johnson replied. "I heard those tapes of yours. I wish I'd had tapes in my day."

Fillmore sipped his spectral whiskey and remarked, "Harry Truman once said I was a 'weak, trivial thumb-twaddler who would do nothing to offend anyone.' I'm still not speaking to him. But at least I was never a fucking Russian spy."

Nixon said, "We were all shitty presidents. But when Trump arrives I don't think I want him in this game. He'll cheat, for one thing. And he's an asshole."

Buchanan said, "Not only that, but he'll bluster and brag. The man has no class. I don't mind if that little Bush fella joins us someday; he's dumb and he's probably a terrible poker player but he knows some good jokes. By the way, Dick, you were an asshole, too."

"When Bush comes maybe I'll get to win once in awhile," said Pierce.

"Let's have a toast to me. I'm no longer considered the worst president in American history. Trump's got me beat by a country mile. I look like fucking Abe Lincoln next to him," said Buchanan. At that moment Abraham Lincoln briefly materialized and said, "No, Jim, you really don't," and vanished just as quickly. Buchanan sighed and muttered under his breath, "Damn, Abe still thinks he's all that..."

"I fold," said Pierce. "Trump. What a dick. He's already turned out to be way worse than any of us ever were. We merely sucked. He's....."

Nixon said, "That fat fucker is a disgrace even to us, the worst presidents ever. I don't want to wait until he's dead to tell him what's what, since none of the Republicans are gonna do it. Honestly, even the ratfuckers who worked for me aren't as bad as these guys. Too bad about my old pal Roger Stone, though. You know, I don't even want to play poker with Trump when he croaks. We should haunt him now."

Harding replied, "Brilliant! Let's do it!" He tried to fist-bump Nixon, but because he was made of ectoplasm the gesture was futile.

And so the ghosts of the Worst American Presidents started appearing to Trump in various places in the White House. Pierce tried to moon him but because he was transparent the gesture was not very effective. Although they enjoyed slipping through walls and making obscene gestures, after awhile the ghosts gave up and went back to their poker game because Trump was going batshit crazy without their help.
Posted by The Velveteen Ocelot | Sat Mar 28, 2020, 10:50 PM (17 replies)

While we're talking about the Bible, let me recommend Psalms 109:8-11:

"Let his days be few; and let another take his office. Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow. Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places. Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labour."
Posted by The Velveteen Ocelot | Sat Mar 14, 2020, 11:19 PM (0 replies)

To which I would add that when you elect a president you elect a whole bunch of people.

There has been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth over the fact that the next president will be another old white guy no matter what happens. This is true, but we also have to consider who else will be working with that old white guy. We already know about the assortment of grifters, lickspittles, incompetents and misfit toys Trump (technically an old orange guy, but I digress) collects around him (and throws away when they displease him). But who will Biden appoint? We can be sure most, if any, of them won't be old white guys. I think we can expect that many of the very diverse group of original candidates will find jobs in his administration. I'm betting on Klobuchar and Harris and possibly Warren; most likely Buttigieg; possibly Castro and Booker - and there will be folks from Obama's administration too, plus others we don't know about. Very few, if any, of Biden's appointees will be old white guys, but we know they'll be qualified and competent. I'm not so sure about Bernie, though. His appointees are also not likely to be old white guys, but I fear there will be a serious lack of ideological diversity. I'd rather have any number of old white guys than Nina Turner, for example.

Posted by The Velveteen Ocelot | Sat Mar 7, 2020, 01:08 PM (1 replies)

If Bernie is the nominee, this is what I'll do.

I don't like Bernie. I like him less and less every day, and his latest tweet about fighting the "Democratic establishment" (you know, the people who gave him the chance to run for President and who will be supporting him if he gets the nomination) was the final straw. Nevertheless, if - God help us - he is the nominee, I will fight like a rabid wolverine to get him elected, because Trump.

But the attitude I will have is of a lawyer representing a client, and most definitely not that of a fanatically-devoted Bernie cultist. I practiced law for almost 20 years before going into a different line of work, and during that time I learned how to argue on behalf of clients I didn't like and whose behavior I disapproved of. I usually didn't have the luxury of picking and choosing my clients, so from time to time I represented insurance companies, sexual harassers, age discriminators, drunk drivers, embezzlers and drug dealers. I didn't like them or what they did but I was obligated by the rules of my profession to present the strongest argument possible on their behalf within the limits of the law and legal ethics. I couldn't lie - but I could spin. I learned how to slant the facts without misrepresenting them, and how to argue the law to the client's best advantage.

That's pretty much what I'll have to do with Bernie, because I don't like him, I don't like his attitude, I don't like the people who work for him, and I fear that he'll cost us the election. But as a lawyer I learned how to pull all manner of disingenuous and just barely truthful nonsense out of my own butt and I'll do it again. I'll pretend to believe that Bernie will give us all free health care and free college the minute he walks into the Oval Office and I'll spin it hard enough to generate enough electricity to power all of Vermont.

I will be like the lawyer who defends a convicted murderer on Death Row - not because she thinks the client is innocent but because she fervently opposes the death penalty. The re-election of Trump is the death penalty. Therefore I will defend Bernie with all the zeal I can muster to try to prevent the death penalty from being imposed on the Democratic Party and the American people, even though I know I will probably fail. (Angry Sandernistas: I'm not equating Bernie with a convicted murderer; I am merely equating his candidacy with that level of desperation).

But I hope I can campaign as an ordinary citizen for a candidate I believe in instead of as a cynical defense lawyer for one I don't.

Posted by The Velveteen Ocelot | Sat Feb 22, 2020, 12:45 PM (166 replies)

One issue with M4A that I don't think I've seen addressed,

is that its proponents often compare it to the health care arrangements in the Nordic countries - that their systems are the ideal, or close to it, and that we should adopt their kind of system. Ideally, maybe we should. But here's the catch: Those countries have never had for-profit, privately-owned primary health care. In Norway, for example, the oldest hospital still in existence was built in 1277 and was operated by the church; later on, other charities ran the hospitals. After WWII the government took over the entire health care system, with the actual provision of services being managed by local governments. https://www.lifeinnorway.net/healthcare/ In contrast, the United States has never had government-provided health care, with the exception of the VA. Even Medicare isn't really government health care because it is provided by privately-owned and in many cases for-profit providers, and we and our employers, not the government, paid for it (and you still pay premiums). So the transition to a government-managed single-payer system would require massive restructuring of almost everything, that would take years to implement. Candidates flogging M4A aren't being honest if they're trying to convince voters that it's going to happen like flipping a switch as soon as there's a new administration.
Posted by The Velveteen Ocelot | Fri Feb 14, 2020, 08:35 PM (0 replies)

Suit yourself, but Sanders is the only one of the first- or second-tier candidates

whom I will absolutely not support in the primary in my state. Obviously I'd vote for him in the general because he'd be better than Trump (but that's a pretty low bar), but I seriously doubt he could win. For one thing, the GOP will slap the "socialist" label on him and he won't be able to peel it off because he's called himself that, and that label, fairly or accurately or not, is still the kiss of death in this country. For another thing, maybe we're all sick of angry, shouty old men. I certainly am.

More importantly, I don't think that, even if Bernie did manage to win, he would be a good or effective president. Although I supported him in 2016, he showed me a side I didn't like at all when he refused to concede to Clinton even after there was no mathematical chance he could get enough delegates - and then his supporters tried to disrupt the convention because they didn't like the outcome. That's poor sportsmanship at best and destructive, even nihilistic behavior at worst. Even though my personal ideology is closer to his, I was happy to shift my support to Hillary because by then I thought she could win and that she'd be a good president.

Now, four years later, I'm more convinced than ever that Sanders, unlike Clinton and unlike most of the other current candidates, lacks the temperament needed for the presidency. His ideology is rigid and, like his political vocabulary, it has not changed appreciably since the '60s. He doesn't understand that racism can't be fixed with only a more progressive economic policy, which means that he doesn't have a particularly strong following among PoC, especially women, whose votes we need desperately. He seems oblivious to reported charges of sexism within his own campaign (an onloing problem within the doctinaire left since the '60s), and his campaign's senior staff includes former Stein voters and current Democrat-bashers like David Sirota, Brihanna Gray and Nina Turner, all of whom seem to be more interested in trashing the so-called "establishment" (as if someone who's been in Congress for decades isn't a member of same) than in focusing on persuading voters to actually vote for Democrats. What will this do to down-ticket Democratic candidates who rely on the coattails of a strong Democratic presidential ticket?

And this all comes down to the basic point that Bernie isn't a team player and never has been. He's a Democrat only every four years when it's convenient, and he will have a huge problem on that account if he were to become president: to be successful a president absolutely needs his/her party to have his/her back. Would Bernie appoint agency heads who can work with Democrats in Congress, or will he appoint ideologues without proper vetting (see, e.g., Darius Khalil Gordon, who had to be fired from his campaign when his anti-Semitic and homophobic tweets were discovered; why weren't they discovered before he was offered a job - and what about the endorsement of noted misogynist Cenk Uygur)? Never mind being able to work with Republicans - will Democratic Congresspeople and other politicians trust Bernie after he and his surrogates have been kicking them in the nuts for the entire duration of his campaign? Will they support his initiatives and legislative proposals? Will he kick them in the nuts some more if they ask him to support proposed bills that are not pure enough to suit him? Or will he just yell and point his fingers and rail about the billionaires, like always?

I do believe Bernie is sincere, but sincerity isn't enough. And I really don't give a shit about satisfying my own personal ideology or anybody else's as long as Trump is in the White House posing an existential threat to democracy. Sorry, but the only reason I can think of any more to support Bernie is that he's better than Trump.
Posted by The Velveteen Ocelot | Sun Jan 5, 2020, 06:24 PM (0 replies)

On January 20, 2021, he becomes a private citizen.

No matter how much he whines and threatens to sue, on that date he becomes a trespasser on government property, and the federal marshals can haul his ugly orange ass right out of the WH.
Posted by The Velveteen Ocelot | Fri Jun 21, 2019, 01:47 PM (1 replies)

The OLC opinions aren't stupid, despite the claims of some, but even so it seems to me

that while there's weight to the separation of powers argument, there's a YUGE practical concern with the conclusion that presidents are prosecution-proof:

Suppose the president actually kills someone, and the evidence is incontrovertible. Suppose, for example, Trump shoots much-loathed reporter Jim Acosta on live television during a press conference. The OLC opinion says he can't be investigated, arrested or prosecuted for it; he just gets to carry on as president as if nothing had happened. How would the country be able to tolerate that? How can it be said that we just have to wait until the House impeaches him and the Senate convicts him? Of course, the process would probably be expedited - maybe it would take weeks instead of months - but in the meantime, what damage could the president do, knowing that he'll eventually be turfed out of the WH and prosecuted? Could he hide the body in the Rose Garden and dispose of the weapon and claim that it was an imposter that did it? Take off for a country with no extradition treaty (Russia?) before he can be impeached or prosecuted? Kill more people? Set fire to the White House?

Of course, this is an extreme example of a hypothetical that's not likely to happen (Trump would never do his own wet work), but it does make the point that a blanket holding that presidents are immune from prosecution could lead to a result the framers of the Constitution never would have intended.
Posted by The Velveteen Ocelot | Mon Jun 3, 2019, 11:17 PM (0 replies)

I hope he's feeling a lot of stress. He deserves it.

And once again we have somebody who was happy to roll in Trump's shit and is now surprised to discover that he stinks. It's kind of like when your dog finds a pile of something rotten like a dead fish and he rolls around in it because he likes the smell, and then he comes home and can't figure out why he isn't allowed back in the house and everybody's yelling at him.



Posted by The Velveteen Ocelot | Wed May 1, 2019, 10:40 AM (0 replies)
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