Monday, January 28, 2013

Toad in the Hole

 When it comes to Concern Trolls, I don't claim to be a connoisseur, but I do prefer the imported variety.  Call me a snob. Perhaps it's because I know Toby Young not from his failed stint at Vanity Fair, or his memoir about it, How To Lose Friends & Alienate People, which sounds like it ought to have been ghostwritten for Sarah Palin, but because he was a judge on the sixth season of Top Chef.  Here's a bit of his bio from the show's website:
Young has appeared as a judge on a variety of food reality programs, including Hell's Kitchen, Kitchen Criminals and most recently, a 20-part BBC series called Eating With The Enemy. In addition, he was a contestant on Come Dine With Me, a popular Channel 4 reality show, which he won.

[I]n 2005, co-wrote a sex farce called Who's the Daddy?
I find the news that someone is still practicing the fine old art of British sex farcing delightfully quaint, like watching a cooper assemble a firkin in Colonial Williamsburg.
President Obama's socialist agenda will divide America – or, rather, make the existing divisions even more bitter and rancorous
What a contrast last night's Inaugural Address was compared to the one President Obama gave four years ago. Gone was any attempt to reach out to his Republican opponents.
Well, in all fairness, you don't reach out to John Boehner, you reach around to John Boehner, and even then you might have to grope around for a bit.
In its place was an aggressive assertion of modern liberalism, with the emphasis on gay rights, gun control, gender equality, combating climate change and – if his remarks about Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and income inequality are anything to go by – redistributive taxation. 
Ah, Modern Liberalism...aggressively asserting rights we should have had in the Seventies, and tax policy we did have in the Sixties.
This is a fully-fledged socialist agenda that will leave the the 47.2 per cent of Americans who didn't vote for Obama feeling ostracised and angry.
My great aunt, a rock-ribbed Republican who has lived her entire life in a small rural community, no longer dares to show her face in town, thanks to carbon offsets.
 If this is going to be the tone of Obama's second term, the next four years are likely to see America more divided than at any time since the 1960s. 
Toby has a point.  Obama's predecessor brought together a much higher percentage of the American people; in November, 2008, 75% of them thought he was an idiot.
Obama's opponents will claim – rightly – that he has no mandate for his egalitarian agenda.
Winning a clear majority of votes used to be sufficient to claim a mandate, but English is a fluid, dynamic language, and now the term is reserved exclusively for Australia's Number 1 Adult Male Review.  So while you're in decent shape for a man your age, Mr. President, you're gonna have to swing a pretty hefty banana hammock before you can assert the right to increase the progressivity of the tax code.
 He made numerous attempts yesterday to claim the mantle of previous presidents who've advanced the cause of equality, including Abraham Lincoln. But he overlooked the fact that in almost every case they were able to take the majority of the American public with them thanks to exceptional historical circumstances. 
It's always polite to hold off on promoting gay rights until a war starts, or the stock market crashes.   It's like waiting for the hostess to pick up her shrimp fork.
Lincoln, for instance, would not have been able to get the 13th Amendment through Congress if the North hadn't been about to declare victory over the South in the Civil War – and even then he only managed it by the skin of his teeth, as Spielberg's recent biopic makes clear. Similarly, Franklin D Roosevelt would not have been able to persuade Congress to embrace the New Deal if it hadn't been for the Great Depression.
Of course, Lincoln had the advantage of a Congress free from the kind of Southern reactionaries and bigots who are obstructing progress now.  But perhaps if that same group would take arms against the lawful government again, he could rack up a similarly impressive legislative record.  True, nobody's fired on fort Sumter yet, but they're already making noises about nullifying federal laws, and in America, nullification is like the Soup Starter of bloody insurrection.
Just add Treason!
Obama's circumstances are less like those of Lincoln or Roosevelt and more like those of John F Kennedy. 
Or so the patriots calling for his assassination seem to hope.
Kennedy had a similarly ambitious liberal programme, 
He planned to create vast new federal bureaucracies tasked with adding extraneous vowels and consonants to all our words!
but was unable to get almost any of it through Congress. To take just one example, his civil rights bill was successfully obstructed by a Senate dominated by conservative Southern Democrats.
And now conservative Southern Republicans are obstructing legislation.  Why?  Because old times there are not forgotten.

In Kennedy's favor, he did end discrimination in federal housing, but he had to do it through an executive order.  I trust it's not too late to impeach him.
 One of the clear lessons of the fourth volume of Robert Caro's biography of Lyndon Johnson is that, without Kennedy's assassination, the 1964 Civil Rights Act would never have been passed.
So while conservatives obstructed equal rights for African Americans, a Communist with an itchy trigger finger facilitated them.  I'm not entirely sure what Toby's point is here, but I think he's advising us to stock up on magic bullets in the event of a filibuster.  I'm sure Hogwarts has a pawn shop...
The vision outlined by Obama yesterday was, in its own way, as ambitious as anything set out by Lincoln, Roosevelt or Johnson. But there's no corresponding historical crisis to provide Obama with the political opportunity to realise that vision. In the absence of that, Obama has little hope of getting a programme of liberal legislation through Congress. I'm even sceptical about the passage of a gun control bill. Instead, Obama will just end up dividing America – or, rather, make the existing divisions even more bitter and rancorous. 
"Congratulations, Mr. President.  You endured a long and brutal campaign to win an exhausting and thankless office, during which you became a repository for the hopes and dreams of millions of struggling Americans, and according to our extensive polling, the best and most rational course now would be to give up."
He is leading his forces into a civil conflict he cannot possibly win and unless he reverses course the next four years will be among the ugliest in America's history.
Sure, Vietnam, the Depression, Jim Crow, the Civil War all seemed pretty ugly at the time, but if Obama doesn't turn Caucasian and veer to the right of Mitch McConnell immediately, people might circulate some intemperate emails.


Magpie said...

mandate magazine, that brings back some memories. First ever boyfriend gave me a copy, saying it was for women. To my surprise, it did indeed feature a life-sized, full-page, colour photo of a man's date.

Carl said...

Why should Obama reach out to the same people who basically tried to demolish his administration?

He has the Senate and the House *Republicans* are so divided that Weaker Boener has to rely on the Democrats to get anything done.

So how is Obama supposed to reach a hand across the aisle?

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Jenghazi Rubin at the War Criminal Post can splain it to you, Carl.

Kathy said...

He forgot to mention that Bush II would never have passed the fascist "Patriot Bill" or started the Iraq war, or CRASHED our economy without .... 9/11!

Sure, Obama is just waiting for some Earth shattering crisis to occur, like Hurricane Sandy or Sandy Hook, or 20% unemployment paired with "austerity" for all the Poors. Eh. I'm tired.

Anonymous said...

When Republicans win, Democrats are supposed to "get over it" and when Democrats win, Democrats are supposed to "reach across the aisle" !

Dr.BDH said...

I see Toby Tyler lost all his hair when he grew up. Whatever happened to that cute little monkey he hung out with?

Li'l Innocent said...

Can't compete witchoo in the sly jab department (which has nothing to do with Mandate, one hastens to add), Scott...

but I must say, that to go blithely from "similarly ambitious liberal programme" to "was unable to get almost any of it through Congress" without so much as an "Ahem" or an "our American friends, of whom I have many, I'm sure, will wink at my unconventional usage" requires the kind of je-ne-sais-wot? that only a failed Brit sex farcist can be expected to display.

So how come ol' Toby came to these benighted shores? The grim public disillusion brought on by wholesale abandonment of the social contract performed by his very own "liberal" Prime Minister wasn't acid enough for him?

It's true, when Brits get disillusioned they don't do much more than throw rocks, burn cars, and loot storefronts. No AK47s. No "nullifying". No glamor.

Chris Vosburg said...

Sad Wanker writes: What a contrast last night's Inaugural Address was compared to the one President Obama gave four years ago. Gone was any attempt to reach out to his Republican opponents.

Thus Toby forgets himself and stupidly acknowledges what has been true all along; that Obama was in fact attempting to work bi-partisanally with Republicans throughout his first term.

I don't even need to look at this chowderhead's previous work to know that this is something he never acknowledged at any point during that time, instead churning out the same standard conservative boilerplate bullshit as the rest, which held that Obama was not making an effort to work with Republicans.

Jeezus, no shame, no pride, and no attention span-- like a stupid cocker spaniel, for whom when the ball rolls under the couch, it simply ceases to exist altogether.

Chris Vosburg said...

Li'l writes: It's true, when Brits get disillusioned they don't do much more than throw rocks, burn cars, and loot storefronts. No AK47s. No "nullifying". No glamor.

Honor, humor, rumor, color, and of course glamor, which are honour, humour, rumour, colour, and glamour, in British English.

Glamour seems to have survived the trip across the pond, however, and despite the fact that glamor will get nothing but a shrug from American dictionaries, glamour is still the preferred American usage.

Personally, I think it's because a magazine of that name greets us every day at the checkout stand of the local supermarket.

Thank you, this has been another episode of "Etymological Pedant". Tune in next week for obsessive arguments about comma usage in lists.

Tog said...

Remember, "bipartisanship" means "giving the GOP everything it wants and demanding nothing in return." Know your goddamn place!! Just because you won an election doesn't mean shit if you're not a white Republican!!

Fearguth said...

A cooper assembling a firkin? Is that anything like a wigmaker weaving a merkin?

Scott said...

Isn't that a Cole Porter lyric?

Li'l Innocent said...

I hope that Etymological Pedant will expand his scope to gripping adventures in the field, just like the rather cool radio serials and noir B movies of the post-WW2 era that featured intrepid insurance and postal fraud investigators. Dramas about rooting out white collar corruption, often on the local level, were surprisingly common around then. My film-history-expert sister's opinion is that the GIs came home and found that a lot of profiteers had entrenched themselves during the war, and didn't like it.

I usually use "glamour", but it always looks Yurpeen to me. I wanted to be all-American in that post.

Unknown said...

"Similarly, Franklin D Roosevelt would not have been able to persuade Congress to embrace the New Deal if it hadn't been for the Great Depression."

So he thinks the great Depression just sorta happened, and that it blinded everyone long enough to pass Communism West, which didn't actually have anything to do with alleviating the effects of the Great Depression.

I shouldn't be surprised. The conservatives still think they woulda won in 2008 if it weren't for Katrina and the economic collapse, both of which were acts of God that no one could possibly have done anything about or reacted to better.

Anonymous said...

Wingnuts are really magical creatures. They spent four years telling their loyal subjects Obama was Kenyan Socialist and refusing to govern. They made no secret of their goal of making him a one term President. When Obama wins, they threaten to secede from the Union. But Obama is to blame for the divisiveness in America? They seem convinced that even though their side lost, Obama should govern as Republican because doing anything less will sow division.