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where are we going and why are we in this handbasket?

you snooze, you lose
the title of this post is a favourite expression of dom's, especially lately when reading political headlines. although he's often in various sorts of pain and discomfort caused by his multiple sclerosis, i've now learned that the truly pained noises he makes come in the morning when he reads the day's headlines. almost every day, as i'm getting dressed and putting on the day's war paint, this horrified, anguished sound will just come roaring forth from him and i brace myself for what's coming.

if i'm lucky, he'll just read me the headline and a few key points from what he's discovered. sometimes, though, he hands me his newly acquired ipad, unable to make the stupid come out his mouth. that's when i know i'm in trouble.

i'm a little concerned that things have gotten so weird/ obnoxious/ creepy that one of us is about to have a heart attack. a few days ago, after a typically dreadful night's sleep, i decided to take a nap. when i woke up, still groggy, dom shared that i'd just missed sarah palin endorsing donald trump while wearing a silver cape. it took me a good twenty minutes of pinching and poking to realise that i had indeed awakened to a world where this sort of thing was not merely possible, but real.

i don't know why i should have felt so surprised, however, considering that just a short time before, the internet was awash in videos of the "freedom girls".



i can't figure out if that means i took the red or the blue pill.

next thing i know, the national review is printing an entire issue dedicated to the theme of how much their editorial staff and contributors hate donald j. trump. i'm given to understand that the issue's scribes include glenn beck [known for saying that president barack obama has a big problem with white people, fantasizing about murdering filmmaker michael moore as revenge for his leftist documentaries, and who equated stem cell research with eugenics], bill kristol [the obsequious israeli government apologist who's responsible for us having to hear that president obama "leads from behind" fifty million times a month] and erick erickson, some of whose greatest quotes you really need to read for yourself:

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the idea of these self-important blowhards banding together to try to stuff the toxic toothpaste back in the tube after years of squeezing with all their might will forever be my definition of schadenfreude. the men [well, mostly men] who have claimed to champion the common man against the political elite now desperately want the common man to stfu.

but things get complicated, because the man who seems poised to beat trump, texas senator and possible former canadian ted cruz, is reviled with nearly the same intensity by high profile republicans. although i didn't have enough time to put together an analysis of the last republican debate [and since there's another the day after tomorrow, there seems to be no point], but the tl;dr version would have been "ted cruz smoked the competition". although he got battered a little by marco rubio about his record, the man fellow senator john mccain called a "wacko bird" is proving to be an unlikely cock of the walk, the kinder, gentler alternative to trump. i think we all need to consider the implications of what i just said. i am, without irony, describing a man who once said that marriage equality would lead to christianity being considered hate speech, as kinder and gentler than an opponent.

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although he's had a couple of moderately improved debates, the artist formerly known as the republican front-runner, jeb! bush, continues to languish in a basement filled with money, while tea party darling marco rubio is increasingly being cast as the candidate of moderates because he doesn't support summarily executing illegal immigrants. [if true moderates in the party have anywhere to look for hope, it's surprisingly to ohio governor john kasich. he's benefited from a couple of solid debate performances and the fact that he increasingly looks like he's an asylum employee who somehow got locked in a room with the patients. the dark underside of that is that the media who have hosted the debates thus far have on at least two occasions jimmied their numbers in such a way to ensure kasich stayed on the main stage debate and not the kiddie table. so if kasich somehow ends up the nominee, his opponents can very honestly complain that the process was rigged to favour him.]

cruz has become a problem for both the republican establishment and trump, which has basically turned him into the one guy about whom no one has anything nice to say at the moment. the ultimate blow has to have been losing the bizarrely coveted palin endorsement to trump, since cruz is pushing himself as the candidate of conservative christians, a demographic that holds her in high esteem.

no sooner had palin's pixie dust settled on trump's campaign when the man grabbed the spotlight back for himself by claiming he could shoot someone on fifth avenue and not lose a single vote. this reminds me of john lennon's infamous "bigger than jesus" quote, except for one thing: trump's claim is almost certainly true, whereas the former beatle's is debatable. trump's reasoning is that his supporters are "very loyal", whereas the rest of us tend to look at them as "very much in need of medication". but while we might quibble with the exact nature of their character, it's unlikely that anyone would disagree with his central thesis: not one of his supporters would be inclined to change their affiliation if candidate trump shot someone, especially in the middle of new york.

never a good sign
plus, of course, trump distinguished himself by retweeting a comment from a white supremacist who had once done a cut-and-paste image of a beaming trump putting democratic senator bernie sanders in a gas chamber. [sanders is jewish.] things move fast on twitter, i realise, and sometimes we like a comment so much that we don't pay particular attention to where it comes from, but in general, if someone has a handle like "whitegenocide", it's worth looking into who they are. [note: that is the actual handle of the person trump retweeted. it would never have occurred to me to make that shit up.]

and what's truly insane about all this is that the democratic race isn't less interesting, it's just more sane. hillary clinton, despite a cautious makeover to left-of-centre practical-but-progressive hillary, is struggling to contain the near-revolutionary embrace of bernie sanders and his democratic socialist economic policies. his bored deflections of the usual mainstream media questions about how he can describe himself as a socialist, or his thoughts on former secretary clinton's emails, and his frankness when it's come to dealing with actual campaign problems have meant that what people are hearing is his message and clearly, they like it. in one sense, sanders has become the democrats' trump: nothing from the traditional political book is sticking to him. [in another sense, the republicans must be terrified of the admittedly slim possibility that they could face him in an election because, while the populist voters behind trump may seem to be defined by their views on military policy and immigration, their little-heard economic views come closer to sanders. stop baiting them with vitriol and conservative american voters lean surprisingly to the left on a lot of issues and they're issues that have a greater impact on those voters' lives than either foreign policy or immigration.]

what doesn't get reported so much about the democratic race, but which bears examination, is the ugly undercurrent of tension between clinton and sanders supporters. a lot of educated, middle class [or formerly middle class] voters might be #feelingthebern, but the candidate has little to no traction with black and hispanic voters, whose support and enthusiasm the democrats absolutely need to maintain. sanders has conceded that his message didn't address the particular challenges faced by racial minorities in the united states, but it hasn't helped him a great deal. neither has it helped that his supporters on twitter have employed the use of terms like "ignorant coons" for blacks who haven't warmed to sanders' policies. i really wish i were making that up.

the mainstream media have had to edge away from their virtual blackout of sanders, but he still gets far less coverage than his position in the polls warrants. if we're going by numbers, he should be getting at least the same amount of coverage as ted cruz. there was barely any attention paid to the fact that vice president joe biden announced he was supporting sanders, which is about a hundred million times more mind-blowing than sarah palin endorsing trump, even if biden didn't wear a cape for the big announcement.

so what is one to make of all this? well, one can make of it whatever one wants, because if ever there were an election campaign that seemed to follow the logic of the choose your own adventure books, this is it.

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