Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Fragments of Democracy: We do not Question the Gods

Clearly I have become desperate for a caffeine fix when I find myself wandering into a Starbucks at seven fifteen in the morning. I find the fact that I resorted to Starbucks itself degrading, but this morning it was surely necessary. The girlfriend stayed over last night, and the truth was I needed the companionship, as the news of the day was weighing on me...

I had to drive her home by seven, which left me little time to prepare for the day. While I consider myself a morning person, I require at least an hour to get out of bed in the first place, which usually necessitates a series of alarms, all muted mere seconds after they begin, and then a frantic fifteen minutes of clothes, juice and coffee before I whisk out the front door with none of my things in order. This was the case this morning as I entered Starbucks: cold, disheveled, hair cowlicked, eyes crusted and gray, laptop under arm with the AC cable dragging behind me like some defeated Labrador being tugged along the sidewalk by leash.

I've never truly fit in at a place like Starbucks: the setting is too clean, too sterile. Nothing seems as it should be, and although the help may be kind and comfortable in their environment, the patrons always seem visibly tense and uneasy. Everyone fully expects to be jumped at any moment, and compensates for this fact with an over-attuned sense of spatial awareness. For luck, I always pick a seat near an emergency exit or a thin looking pane of glass so I can make a clean getaway, in case anything unfortunate should go down. Packing a blade doesn't hurt, either.

Coffee in place, it's time to mull over last evening's events. I had read karoli's post on C&L regarding the reversal of the Obama administration regarding SuperPAC donations. I chose to muse on it overnight, but rereading it now it still gives me a deep, unsettling sense of fear and uncertainty. This sort of thing isn't supposed to happen, at lest in my mind, and yet here we are. Politicians go where the money sends them, but what has bothered me more is the instant apology tour taking place among the Democrat's more bellicose subjects. To wit:
With so much at stake, we can't allow for two sets of rules in this election whereby the Republican nominee is the beneficiary of unlimited spending and Democrats unilaterally disarm.
Unilaterally disarm, indeed. An interesting use of war imagery, although not unexpected from an administration hell-belt on continuing the The Global War on Terror™ with a sinister shift to the home front. Such is expected from members of the staff, but what about the minions? Again, to wit:
Some may feel like this is a policy reversal and has the risk of polluting OFA's message that this is a campaign fueled by small donors. I disagree with that, particularly in light of the fact that the Koch brothers have pledged $100 million to defeat President Obama in this cycle.
In what fucked up world do these sentences make a lick of sense? The President said he wasn't supporting PACs, but beginning to do so isn't a "policy reversal" because the GOP has been doing it all along? I'd expect her to at least try to maintain some modicum of self-respect by admitting it's a policy reversal, but perhaps it's more comfortable to spin until your ears bleed.
For me, there are two relevant and important questions which will distinguish large donor funding to the Obama campaign from the Republicans' efforts. First, will PrioritiesUSA disclose who their donors are? Their answer to that is an emphatic "yes."...For me, this is a key question. Lack of disclosure harms elections more than unlimited funds.
I want that last sentence to sink in, because that was the exact moment, late last night, when I felt a part of my soul shatter. I temporarily repair it with gin and good company, but the many of the cracks remain. It wasn't long ago that karoli railed against Justice Thomas for indiscretions regarding cash investments his wife received around the Citizens United case, specifically direct and disclosed cash investments to her lobbying firm. By karoli's own ass-backward logic, this shouldn't be that much of a problem since it was all done out in the open. The rest of us understand that the damage is done once the money changes hands, not when everyone else is eventually informed about it.

In what fantasy land do these people live in? Or better yet, what fantastic hallucinogens are they hiding away from the rest of us who are left to wallow in the harsh reality of this Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Twelve?

Glenn Thrush of Politico joins us in that bleak landscape:
But, as POLITICO reported last month, the fundraising prowess of the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future — and the effectiveness of its withering ads in degrading the popularity of rival Newt Gingrich in Iowa — alarmed officials at Obama’s Chicago campaign headquarters, prompting the campaign to take the baby step of allowing national finance committee members to solicit contributions for Priorities USA Action.
So the Democrats have decided to dance with The Devil, and who can blame them with the obscene amounts of money currently being spent in the sad, downward spiral that is the Republican primary? Only those who struggle to maintain a sense of dignity and honor in politics, however miniscule, and had looked to the Obama campaign to be the flagship of that struggle.

But misplaced hopes are common in this game. There is certainly enough to admire about Obama, and I would be amiss if I didn't say I house some starry-eyed sense of awe when I contemplate the man, especially against the backdrop of peddlers like Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, not to mention the philanderers and dingbats hanging out in the fringes. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king, as they say, and it doesn't matter how near-sighted the poor cyclops bastard happens to be; one is better than none no matter how you choose to look at it.

The disappointment lies in the fact that campaign fundraising seemed to be the last bastion of pure, untainted dignity in the Obama machine. After drone attacks in Pakistan, the unilateral execution of an American citizen on foreign soil for terrorist ties, the inability to get Guantanamo detainees tried in civil court and the nightmarish expansion of an already-bloated intelligence and police apparatus, at the very least we could bury ourselves in booze at the end of the day, pat each other on the shoulder and say, "Well, you know what? At least he hasn't gotten wrapped up in this SuperPAC mess...so there's that, you know?"

Perhaps we are simply being naive. That seems to be the narrative coming out of Washington with the news of the Obama administrations back-peddling and the Santorum surge sweeping the heartland, as Rick takes Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado from under the party-elite-anointed Mitt Romney. How does one explain such an embarrassing slip up for the man-bot constructed in a basement beneath RNC HQ? Something in the water? Possible, though unlikely. It's money, or rather lack thereof, and the Democrats caught hold of that narrative by the throat and will be damned if they'll let it go.

In states where the Mitt Machine outspends its foes at ratios of 7 or even 20 to 1, Mitt takes the race. It is a depressing reality, one which should cause heavy bouts of self-loathing and suicidal tendencies among the GOP electorate. The man is a human jukebox, and if you give him a quarter (million) he'll play any tune you want to hear. Even Republicans recognize this, but you can't fight that kind of monetary tidal wave for long before your muscles buckle and you resign yourself to the inevitable Mitt candidacy. All Hail, Robot Romney!

The Romney campaign has a strong and dirty left hook in the Restore Our Future PAC, and one which is shielded from a great deal of scrutiny. Indeed, even Romney himself has been reluctant to release his own tax records, while maintaining that there's nothing really interesting to see there in the first place. We can expect the same treatment from his goons over at ROF PAC. It is a large, brutish, ultimately unwieldy thing, and if Santorum can only avoid it by going where it doesn't bother to show up, well, how in the hell are the Democrats supposed to try and avoid it in the General? It will stalk them, thrashing through the nation's airwaves like a drunken ox, smashing into programming without a second thought given to the continuity or grace of the message it spews from its hideous maw.

The imagery smacks of Lovecraft, or perhaps more specifically Charles Stross: if the Reds have unleashed some ghastly hell spawn onto the world, drawing the entire thing into madness and misery, then by God the Blues better damned well unleash their own as well to provide "an alternative madness" at the very least.

Can such a weighty Pandora's Box ever be resealed? I doubt it, though in today's volatile political climate anything is possible. For those of us who relish in political gamesmanship, the advent of unlimited funds adds a twisted sort of chaos to the game that's amusing to watch, much like tossing three or four balls on the soccer field just to see how the players, well-versed in traditional sports and their rules, react to the whole scene. Reckless, over-the-top antics at first, a few wayward goals scored merely by chance, and then - the terror! - as the game morphs to adapt to the new reality, becoming something altogether unpleasant to witness and ultimately irreversible.

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