This Isn’t Over Yet, Batman

71 people shot at the Aurora, Colorado midnight show of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Almost instantly, right wing defensive posturing over gun control hijacked a tragedy for squalid politics.

A single reporter on Good Morning America said the shooter belonged to the Tea Party (and quickly corrected). That lone report by a not very credible reporter was all the victim bandwagon needed. The Fox crew energetically speculated without reporting that it all might be related to OWS. Most of the cable teams we glimpsed, especially CNN, appeared almost but not quite celebratory. It is because they have a new cash cow narrative for ratings? Or it’s a temporary reprieve from the bleak and small presidential race? Unknown.
Batman, Aurora massacre, Rush Limbaugh

It’ll be a long time coming before we get reliable information about the shooter and his avowed motives. Pundits laugh at waiting and scramble to tell us what it all means. Most of those writers are clueless about pop culture, movies and genres but are oddly obsessed by them. Much like El Rushbo:

This evil villain in the new Batman movie is named Bane. And there’s now a discussion out there as to whether or not this is purposeful and whether or not it will influence voters. It’s gonna have a lot of people. This movie, the audience is gonna be huge. A lot of people are gonna see the movie, and it’s a lot of brain-dead people, entertainment, the pop culture crowd, and they’re gonna hear Bane in the movie and they’re gonna associate Bain. The thought is that when they start paying attention to the campaign later in the year, and Obama and the Democrats keep talking about Bain, Romney and Bain, that these people will think back to the Batman movie, ‘Oh, yeah, I know who that is.’ There are some people who think it’ll work. Others think you’re really underestimating the American people to think that will work.

“You may think it’s ridiculous, I’m just telling you this is the kind of stuff the Obama team is lining up. The kind of people who would draw this comparison are the kind of people that they are campaigning to. These are the kind of people that they are attempting to appeal to.

This tragedy reminds one of other incidents and losses. We’d like to close by remembering the sacrifice of Officer Johns. You may recall he gave his life to defend Holocaust Museum visitors. And there are others. Does this incident prompt memories for you?

Conversations Frozen In Time: Movement Campaigns In Disarray

Together over the years we have discussed among ourselves the fundamental nature of political movements beginning on the Continent and their often unrecognized manifestations here. While this version of the Bunker captures some of it, STSOZ 1.0 probably has the more complete analysis. You can find it at the links above and search.

All of which is to say that we together have understood that political movements require amorphous natures and to survive must ignore formal organization (even when proffered for show). So it’s no surprise to see so many Rightist Movement campaigns stumble and flail – at least according to the considered professional judgments of political pundits unschooled in political philosophy and deploying the smirk certitude of assumed American participatory pluralism. Or the “Republican” professional campaign mercenaries.

We’ve had conversations with long time Movement operatives close to two such campaigns (no, we’re not including Newt). Long story short, you’ve probably already grokked the basics – new media ensures there are no confidences anymore, just delayed Tweets. In one case, a formerly high flying candidate rejected objectively sound advice and we’re told embraced a modern day Rasputin for final advice. Some of the instances shared with us sound unusually idiosyncratic. The candidate, however, remains in the game, continuing to send Movement dog whistles. It’s frankly hard to imagine when this candidate announced that a movement campaign in this environment would somehow subject itself to the discipline and boring work such as planning and budgeting. So, in that sense, everyone involved made their own beds.

A separate conversation involved a still leading campaign (currently struggling with a brutal news cycle). The ask was for contributions on themes heretofore ignored by the campaign. As typical in a Movement entity, despite the existence of a formal Vice President for X, Vice President for Y was seeking advisors and information about X to give to the candidate. It’s true that some duplication and rivalry is inevitable when a stunt campaign inexplicably finds itself forced to become (or at least pretend) the real thing. But the underlying process of ‘working towards the leader’ for favor and face time ignoring formal organizational tables is inherently a trait of ideological movement entities. So we weren’t surprised or put off. It’s just how these things roll.

There does seem to be a growing resignation that Romney will be the nominee among the professional Movement operatives. Much talk about how damaged Rubio is by implosion of his immigration mythos. Which gives the tattered remnants of the professional “Republican” class some relief. What they see in all of the above is a glimpse that the radical tide of 2001-2011 finally might be spent, and having reached its crest, begin to recede. Which poses the interesting question of who is the most out of touch?

Democrats Crushed Again By Movement Radicalism, This Time In Wisconsin

Democrats again fail to realize their opponent’s anti-democratic radicalism. Wisconsin Democrats are stunned. Corporatist interests using their GOP facade unilaterally disembowel 50 years of bi-partisan consensus supporting public sector collective bargaining.

The appropriate lessons will be drawn by onlookers around the country. Radicalism triumphs over beleaguered status quo if the will to escalate is obeyed. Destabilization can be launched using the flimsiest of pretexts. Minority interests can openly hijack governments for their zero sum enrichment ignoring public sentiment. Democrats demonstrate their inability to defend the existing social fabric.

How far we’ve come since November 2008. And how far we’ve yet to go.

Wisconsin Radicalism – Coup D’Etat, Now With Extra Remorse

Those clever journalists – they’ve figured out the Movement radicalism is not about political pluralism. Again. That the ‘Southern Model’ is the template now imposed from above in the North? OK Contestants, here’s the question: ‘When has the Movement ever been about political pluralism?’

People in Wisconsin now regret electing Walker. Too bad. As they say, elections have consequences. A shame that the republic’s antibodies are the woefully compromised media and faltering institutional memories.

All of this was laid bare 2001-2009. Down to the playbook. Cheney already ran the union-busting agenda down Democrats’ throats over the Homeland Security fiasco. The Senate GOP Southerners tried to kill the now successful auto bailout.

[Read more…]

The Fabric Begins To Rip

Wags might note the country’s first collective glimpse of consequences from its 2010 elections were Wisconsin Democrats fleeing and hiding from Movement activists wearing the Republican brand. But it’s past as prologue. If Wisconsin seems somehow ‘new’ that’s another symptom of decaying American collective short term memory. Karl Rove years ago recognized that a minority can take power in American ‘democracy’ and govern (he was probably thinking rule).

For the Movement under Bush, the 9/11 attacks gave the greenlight to pervasive radicalization and looting. Lacking that, Wisconsin Governor Walker fabricated a budget crisis. He didn’t burn down the legislature. Same results either way: radicalization, de-stabilization and wealth transfer. The Wisconsin status quo, like the hapless Colin Powell, Benchpresser, Wilkerson et al., are caught flat footed, unprepared, blinking.

Why? Current RNC Chair Reince Priebus was the Wisconsin GOP Chair in 2010. In October he called for Obama’s execution thinking of Bin Lin Laden. Wisconsin overall shouldn’t be shocked. The new governor won by the same margin fellow GOPer Johnson beat Russ Feingold. In fact, all state wide races went GOP by essentially the same margin.

Personal views of Governor Walker aside, one can’t say he’s a stealth candidate. He made commitments a visible part of his campaign. He promised to slash government radically. To grant massive tax cuts to corporations. Somehow generate new jobs without spending an extra dime. Walker once elected to make even a gesture to his agenda would have to start by breaking existing, signed state contracts, prevent any further Amtrak funding, etc.

Launching his agenda serves larger national goals, too. De-stabilizing and radicalizing the status quo allows the naturally prepared agents of de-stabilization to market themselves as the defenders of law and order. The roused status quo painted as divisive. And on cue Fox, etc. start the violence memes, etc. We’ve already lived through this show, Dear Reader. We all saw 2001-2008 how radicalism leads to de-stabilization which opens sluice gates for other — in this case — plutocratic interests. We all also know Act III of the script: the smirking governing entity proclaims the sinking floor our new normal.

How can Democrats both in Wisconsin and especially nationally be so surprised? Didn’t everyone say at the time November 2010 would be felt most at the state level? Christie reminded AEI this week he dragged New Jersey down this same road *last year.* We get stunned Democrats playing meme defense, and MSNBC pandering, both badly. Again.

Obama’s comments on Wisconsin today put things in perspective. Thank goodness in 2012 we will be able to choose between two Republicans. Can you imagine the feebleness of an actual Democratic campaign?

Gabrielle Giffords And Rightist Murderous Rage

Prayers for her and all those killed and wounded. We’ve been lucky. It’s taken this long for one (as of this writing) from the fringe to act out. They’ve been given the dog whistle green light since at least February 2009.

It’s wrong for most commentators to blame the fringe alone, or talk radio, a few cable talking heads or Palin’s unfortunate web graphics. The urge to violence and its accompanying eliminationist impulses are a major fuel rod of the Movement’s nuclear reactor. Grover, for example, asked at this year’s televised RNC Chair candidate debates to each candidate, ‘Do you own guns?’ and they detailed how yes and how many. Galvanizing violent activity is the sub rosa Movement political life blood — from Newt’s calls for ‘destroying’ , ‘revolution’ and abolishing in 1994-1995 through 2009-2010’s behind the expulsion of all sources of cognitive dissonance into an illegitimate Other as way station to remorseless destruction. (Forget Carlson’s frat boy stupidity re Vick, that’s just dumb privileged white idiocy).

Obama’s flinching, weakness, caving and refusal to engage the Movement imposes another cost. His speech today fine for the moment. But he must create a national tone that imposes and *exacts* real political cost for Movement extremism. You’d think of all people the Boy King would see the need. They brought assault rifles to his own events. We doubt in the end he has the balls for setting tonal barriers necessary to exact a cost for extremism peddling, let alone understanding the fundamental need. Moments of silence are a necessary but woefully insignificant step.

An example of what not to do? More mewling from Eugene Robinson that the Movement and Republican leaders ‘must renounce and marginalize’ those calling for violence as the right thing to do. Or what? Worse than his usual banal cliches.

The Truth About ‘No Labels’ – Another Mark Penn/Nancy Jacobson Vanity Project

Today’s bizarre launch of ‘No Labels’, the so-called ‘Woodstock of Moderates’ purporting to speak for the voiceless ‘center’ in American politics is a sham. Why? It began life in early 2009 as the brainchild of Mark Penn’s wife, socialite Nancy Jacobson. Initial meetings, just a few months into Obama’s presidency, convened at Penn’s opulent Georgetown residence. Penn and Jacobson desperately sought a platform to re-create their political relevance. HRC supporters and most independent observers branded Penn as larcenously incompetent. He was professionally and Jacobson socially adrift.

So, before the Tea Party took hold, before Beck broke out his Fox ghetto and Obama’s presidency still undefined by anyone, Penn and Jacobson declared Obama and the Democratic majority ‘radical’. Penn and Johnson were ‘centerists’ – a positioning more rooted in bootstraping their own social ambitions than objective political analysis.

Their early gatherings in 2009 featured many of the same faces we see today. Then, as now, Jacobson gathered together Tom Davis, Penn, DLC-Dems, and other Bush’41 apparatchiks to plot her return to prominence and her husband’s re-habilitation. We know. An attendee asked if we wanted to explore a possible invitation to a meeting, if anything sit back against the wall as an observer. We wanted nothing to do with either Penn or his wife, Jacobson. We predicted failure.

We were right. These 2009 meetings petered out. Before the Tea Party really took off. None of the ‘moderates’ from either party really agreed with each other on basic ideological frameworks, policy recommendations or messaging. There was no charismatic personality emerging around which to build a movement, At best all could agree to ‘reasonableness.’ They, like the Neocons, were all chiefs and no indians – no one wanted to do any real work building something but would love to find a vehicle for their own uses.

Fast forward to today. Jacobson and Penn make a virtue of their failure. No leaders or organizational bones are features; the vague ‘No Label” moniker is just a hip, social media crowd source thing. No one has to do any hard work. No one is building political infrastructure devoted to reclaiming the political center. People just get to proclaim their ‘like’ – no click even needed. Painless. And ineffective. As before in 2009, most are has-beens or soon to be former: former congressman, former governor, soon-to-be-former mayor, former advisor, etc. No one really left in the game. Tom Davis? Dead man to VA Republicans. Crist? Worse. There are 3 moderate Republicans in the new House. Instead, Jacobson and Penn have added TV show hosts. The Morning Joe show? MSNBC-affiliated radio talk shows? Oh, and college democrats. Jesus. And so on.

Secondly, what will this motley social branding effort achieve? Will this Nancy Jacobson/Mark Penn vehicle become a 501(c)(4) or a 527 group and engage in independent expenditures? Raise money? Take on misleading ads? No. Will they hold rallies? No. Apparently they will encourage members to cite David Brooks’ columns as the acme of reasonableness. And mind the civility. Use the small fork for salad!

‘No Label’ is as meaningful – and transient – as a trending tweet. Perhaps it has one other use. It can serve as a chyron title beneath Penn or someone else’s cable appearances.

В чем дело?*

Here’s a question for you, Dear Reader, about the road ahead. Over the years together we’ve explored and explained much of the American experience under Christian Socialist Authoritarianism 2001-2008. Sadly, we also assessed Obama correctly in 2007 and warned of recent events. So, what now?

Our lengthy joint conversation remains (begun before YouTube, when Arianna was still swanning for fleeting TV camera glimpses behind Arnold in California). Sure, some (many?) of the posts were hit or miss. But together we did lay down more than a few good ones. Those remain just as relevant today.

We watch with dismay ‘informed’ Democratic thinkers post-election smugly intoning that smart Democrats need to accommodate the Movement even more. Obama’s 2 year ineffective political disengagement will suddenly morph into Clinton’s adroit, intensely engaged political counterpunching? Boehner will be as psychologically fragile as Newt? Or is it some fundamental Democratic compulsion to commit ‘suicide by Movement’?

One is reminded of the apocryphal person determined to drown. One can offer help while remaining careful not to get ensnared and pulled down, too.

Because one thing is for sure: Democrats won’t learn a thing. Again.


* ‘What’s the deal?’