Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Last Call For The Darkest Sequel

MSNBC's Steve Kornacki lays out the scenario: a rich businessman runs for President of the United States because of America's massive debt, promising to operate the country like a business. The establishment is corrupt, and middle-class white America is suffering from a recent recession. The voters are angry at the last president and want to throw all the bums out.

It should definitely sound familiar today, but the year was 1992.  The billionaire in question was Texan Ross Perot.

Despite what his critics say is a Perot predilection for falsehoods and conspiracy theories, millions of voters believed he was the only candidate telling them the truth about their country -- and they have a point. No other politician in this era has vaulted to prominence by insisting that the nation must swallow such horrid medicines as he has prescribed -- higher taxes for everybody and drastic reductions in popular government programs. 
John Jay Hooker, a Perot friend with whom the billionaire has frequently discussed political plans, said Perot has stated many times his intention to keep banging away on issues of the deficit and the economy's long-term decline.

"He'll never give up on this," said Hooker, a liberal former newspaper publisher from Nashville. "He believes the country's problems are malignant, so how can he go home and twiddle his thumbs?" 
People around Perot have discussed a number of ways he could stay active. One is for him to act as spokesman, and for his supporters to act as a permanent pressure group, urging reduction of the $4 trillion national debt. 
Perot most likely will take on the guise of a business-minded Jesse L. Jackson, a critic without portfolio. He could join retiring Sen. Warren B. Rudman (R-N.H.) and former senator Paul E. Tsongas (D-Mass.) in raising the deficit issue. But his supporters are unlikely to stay together unless Perot commits himself to keeping the coalition permanent. 
Unlike, say, the evangelical movement, his is a movement without a set of bedrock principles. His supporters are from the left, the right, from both parties -- they agree only that Perot is their leader. 
He has refused to answer whether he would run again in 1996. While he appeared to relish the adulation he received campaigning, he hated being questioned by the press. It was all new to him.

He had never run for office before and, in fact, he had said many times he is "temperamentally unfit" for government.

We dodged a bullet 25 years ago.  Last year we were not so lucky.  We failed to learn the lessons of Perot's 1992 and 1996 runs, or rather, the Democrats did.  The Republicans learned the lessons of Perot's outsider run all too well.

This year saw the kinds of tough economic times, and Perot led the kind of spontaneous and combustible movement, that under different circumstances might have given itself to a ghastly demagoguery or a politics of racial division.

Jim Squires, who served as Perot's spokesman in the first aborted phase of the campaign, said the nation is fortunate that the man who became the lightning rod for much of America's discontent this year was Perot -- and not a demagogue who would play on racial fears or other divisive antipathies.

"The next time the man on the white horse comes, he may not be so benign," Squires said. "He could be a real racial hater or a divider of people."

And so here we are today. Welcome to the nightmare sequel Squires warned us about.

The Blue Wave Builds, Con't

While Democrats have come up short picking up congressional special election seats in deep red districts created by Trump's cabinet picks in 2017, the good news is at the state level Team Blue continues to make gains in places that nobody thought they would ever be able to, places like, say, blood-red suburban Oklahoma.

Democrats have flipped another statehouse seat in deeply conservative Oklahoma amid growing frustration over years of state budget shortfalls and recent scandals that led to the resignation of Republican incumbents. 
Democrat Allison Ikley-Freeman defeated Republican Brian O’Hara in Tuesday’s special election for a state Senate seat representing parts of Tulsa. Complete but unofficial election results show that Ikley-Freeman, who is a therapist at a nonprofit mental health agency, won by 31 votes. 
That seat was vacated after Republican Sen. Dan Newberry said he would step down early to focus on his career in banking. 
Ikley-Freeman’s win marks the fourth pickup for state Democrats in special elections this year in Oklahoma, where Republicans have dominated state politics in recent years.

It's only a matter of time before the Democrats get wins in the House and Senate, as long-time Republicans see the coming Trump train wreck and are bailing in massive numbers ahead of near-certain midterm defeat.

A retirement wave has hit House Republicans, emboldening Democrats who have become increasingly bullish about their prospects of winning back a majority in 2018.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) on Thursday became the latest Republican to announce he would not seek another term.

The 13-term Virginian followed Reps. Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), both of whom announced Tuesday — hours before Republicans suffered sweeping losses at the polls — that they’d retire from Congress. 
All told, 29 Republicans will not seek reelection to their House seats, compared to only 11 for Democrats. Fifteen Republicans are retiring outright, rather than seeking other political offices or positions. Only two Democrats are doing the same. 
Anybody who has a pair of eyes and ears knows that the House is in play and at risk,” Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), who heads a moderate GOP caucus and is not seeking reelection next year, told The Hill. “And I’m sure that fact enters into the calculation of many members who are contemplating their futures."

Do you really want to go through another year like the last one?” Dent asked.

Republicans are terrified.  We'll see what happens, but these aren't just GOP freshmen and Tea Party era Republicans retiring, these are long-time committee chairs and multi-term conservatives who easily survived the last blue wave in 2006.

Republicans have near total power in the government right now and they can't quit fast enough.

From Harare To Eternity, Con't

As I mentioned last night, the military coup in Zimbabwe to remove strongman Robert Mugabe from power has been successful.  The military, led by the commander of the nation's armed forces, Constantine Chiwenga, is now in charge of the capital Harare and has Mugabe under house arrest.

Zimbabwe’s military seized power and detained 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe in a struggle over the succession of the only leader the nation has ever known.

Mugabe told President Jacob Zuma by phone that he’s being confined to his home and is fine, the South African presidency said in a statement. Zimbabwe Defense Forces spokesman Major-General Sibusiso Moyo said in a televised address that the military action wasn’t a coup and was aimed at only “targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes.”

Troops took control of the state-owned broadcaster and sealed off parliament and the central bank’s offices, while armored vehicles were stationed in the center of the capital, Harare.

The military takeover comes at a delicate moment for Zimbabwe, where an estimated 95 percent of the workforce is jobless and as many as 3 million Zimbabweans have gone into exile. With an economy that has halved in size since 2000 and relies mainly on the dollar because it has no currency of its own, a severe cash shortage is choking businesses and forces some people to sleep in the streets near banks to ensure they can make withdrawals.

Zuma called for calm and urged the military to maintain the peace, while western governments including the U.S. urged their citizens in Zimbabwe to remain indoors.

The action came a day after armed forces commander Constantine Chiwenga announced that the military would stop “those bent on hijacking the revolution.”

Remember your five A's, Chiwenga had them in his pocket early.  It helped that he started out with Armed Forces as head of the country's military, which made getting the other four much easier.  He took the country's Airports and Airwaves, got the Asshole in charge in Mugabe, and has rounded up nearly all of Mugabe's Allies.

What sparked the coup? Mugabe made a fatal miscalculation by firing his vice-president in favor of his own wife, Grace.  That was apparently too much to bear for Chiwenga and the military.

The military intervention followed a week-long political crisis sparked by Mugabe’s decision to fire his long-time ally Emmerson Mnangagwa as vice president in a move that paved the way for his wife Grace, 52, and her supporters to gain effective control over the ruling party. Nicknamed “Gucci Grace” in Zimbabwe for her extravagant lifestyle, she said on Nov. 5 that she would be prepared to succeed her husband.

People involved in the “purge” of liberation war veterans from the government will be arrested and charged, according to a senior official involved in the army action, who asked not to be named as the information isn’t public.

Despite the armed forces’s denial of a coup, the country is now under military rule, said Alex Magaisa, a Zimbabwean law lecturer who is based in the U.K. and helped design Zimbabwe’s 2013 constitution.

When you see a man in uniform reading news on national television, you know it’s done,” he said in a text message. “There are no more questions. Authority is now in the hands of the military.”

As far as Mugabe himself is concerned, South Africa's News24 is reporting that there's a growing political movement to offer him political asylum in that country in order to keep regional peace.

It looks to be all over but the clean-up.  What comes next?  We'll see if the country holds new elections, or if the junta stays in power.  After all, that plan worked for Mugabe for nearly 40 years. Many of these are the bloodied hands that kept Mugabe in power since 1980, so there's no reason to believe they will either relinquish power to new elections or be any better than the "Grand Old Man" of Africa.

Meet the new boss...


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