Politics: What a Mess!
Schadenfreude: The Bannon Thing
Schadenfreude. Taking pleasure in another person’s misery. Not my thing, mostly, but every “not so much” provides a basis for exceptions.
I encountered Steve Bannon more than 25 years ago. My partner sued him and I went to work on the case soon after. I only suffered through being in this man’s presence once, but that contact – coupled with the actions that supported the lawsuit – offered many reasons to dislike him. (The actions that formed the basis for the suit provided better ones.)
It took me moments, when Americans started hearing about this guy, to realize I knew him and had sued him. Candidly, the only doubt occurred when I saw a picture. LB would say Meow, as in catty, but Mr. Bannon has aged poorly. Appearances aside, the larger platform offered the inevitable: jail. On Friday, a judge sentenced Mr. Bannon to four months in jail. (He received a $6500 fine. Too small, I think.) Mr. Bannon awaits proceedings in New York for fleecing followers who supported his private wall scam, not knowing they were stealing from them.
A pox on you, Steve Bannon. The world will not miss you, ever.
Polls and Inconsistent Voters
I don’t know what we should glean from polls circa 2022. No one who pays attention can think polls reflect much in close races. That said, I assume a level of internal consistency. If the poll is off when it predicts a D win or an R win, its methodology will be off in the same way when the winds shift.
So, I am struck by this observation: earlier in the midterm cycle, polls predicted big R gains; then they showed much closer races; now, they suggest a good year for the Rs.
If my assumption is correct – polls are mediocre predictors, but they are no better in one direction than the other – the polls say nothing good about our voters. Gas prices high: vote R and throw the bums out. Lower gas prices: Ds look better. Rising gas prices: Badda-bing badda-boom, hello deadlocked government.
The government does not control gas prices, but they are the marker for our economy that most people see. (Hear? Less so, as NPR stations have low ratings when they report on the stock markets and the economy more broadly, and drive time radio focuses on lots of nonsense.) So, we end up with voters who choose a future path that really matters, based on signs with numbers ending in 9/10, which they see when they approach intersections. If worries about saving democracy depend on voters whose preferences depend on the price of gas at a given moment, we lost the war a long time ago.
To Hell and Gone
About that democracy thing. Blake Hounshell wrote The Ins and Outs of America’s Shrug at the Threat to Democracy for the New York Times on Friday. The piece deserves your attention. Its focus? The legitimacy problem we face, where almost half of our electorate does not believe the country elected Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. to serve as President of the United States of America. That number includes 147 R members of Congress, all of whom were sworn in on January 3, 2020. Each of those 147 members ran in 2020 on a ballot that showed Donald John Trump as a candidate for POTUS. (Query: if the fraudsters prevented Trump form winning, why not dump some or all of the 147 R members of Congress?)
A favorite part of my day involves a review of the obits page at the New York Times. I take no pleasure in people dying, but the obituaries writers have so much talent when it comes to selecting subjects and telling their life stories.
Sadly, Carly Simon lost her two sisters, Joanna Simon and Lucy Simon on October 19 and October 20, respectively. Unimaginable pain, surely, and what a trio of talented women.
But the title of this section does not involve the Simons. Instead, I was referencing Ian Hamilton, who helped steal the Stone of Destiny aka the Stone of Scone from Westminster Abbey, to return it to its rightful owner, Scotland. I confess to lacking knowledge of the removal on December 25, 1950, or the taking from Scotland in 1296 y individuals in service of Edward I, King of England. (I majored in history. Clearly, I did not pay adequate attention 45+ years ago.) I missed the movie, too.
Fonder times? The stone broke in Westminster Abbey. Repaired, it got to Scotland but was promptly returned to England. In 1996 PM John Major sent it back to Scotland, subject to loan-outs for coronations. (Yes, the stone will sojourn to London next year for the coronation of Charles III.)
People with strong feelings, solving problems. Yes, the theft steps on the narrative, but it’s hard to not see the humor associated with the theft, and Mr. Hamilton redeemed himself more than well over the remaining 72 years of his life.
Feels like the wheels are coming off these days. Too much awful … and I never even got to serious voter intimidation about 120 miles from home. My solution, at least for this evening?