Sunday, September 24, 2023

Last Call For Shutdown Countdown, Clown Town Edition

With under a week to go before the GOP shuts down the government,  the only questions now appear to be how long the shutdown lasts, and how quickly GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is replaced by Republicans (and by whom) when he inevitably caves.
Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., said he would consider voting to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., should the speaker opt to work with Democrats to pass funding measures ahead of the Sept. 30 funding deadline.

"That would be something I would look strongly at," Burchett said in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union."

Burchett dismissed the notion that he and other House Republicans opposed to passing a short-term stopgap measure are at fault if lawmakers fail to pass spending measures, noting that the group made their priorities clear far before House members returned from August recess.

"We're gonna get the blame because we're trying to do our job," Burchett said.
Like most terrorists, Burchett believes he and his fellow economic suicide bombers are the good guys here.
The bigger problem is that even before Burchett piped up, the number of House Republicans that have said they would be open to replacing McCarthy is already enough to cost him his job.  So again, when he caves, and he will cave, folks, he'll be ousted, as I've been saying for a while now. It's Boehner all over again.

In fact, McCarthy has already caved, backtracking on last week's demand from Marjorie Terrorist Greene that he yank all Ukraine funding from the Pentagon bill.

Who will replace him, well, we'll see.

That Poll-Asked Look, Con't

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll has Trump up by nine, and while that's a major outlier, the fact is the GOP plan to impeach Biden while Trump burns down everything to martyr himself over his four trials. It may be working.
President Joe Biden's job approval rating is 19 points underwater, his ratings for handling the economy and immigration are at career lows. A record number of Americans say they've become worse off under his presidency, three-quarters say he's too old for another term and Donald Trump is looking better in retrospect -- all severe challenges for Biden in his reelection campaign ahead.

Forty-four percent of Americans in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll say they've gotten worse off financially under Biden's presidency, the most for any president in ABC/Post polls since 1986. Just 37% approve of his job performance, while 56% disapprove. Still fewer approve of Biden's performance on the economy, 30%.

On handling immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border, Biden's rating is even lower, with 23% approval. In terms of intensity of sentiment, 20% strongly approve of his work overall, while 45% strongly disapprove. And the 74% who say he's too old for a second term is up 6 percentage points since May. Views that Trump is too old also are up, but to 50% in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates.

Such is down-on-Biden sentiment that if a government shutdown occurs at month's end, 40% say they'd chiefly blame him and the Democrats in Congress, versus 33% who'd pin it on the Republicans in Congress -- even given the GOP infighting behind the budget impasse.
Yeah, that's right, Biden will get the blame if the government shuts down. I almost have to ask if the poll took place in a GOP party meeting at this point, but if any of this is remotely true, we're going to give this country away to the fascists because ground beef is $5 instead of $4 a pound.

The crosstabs are...not good. 74% of Americans think the economy is bad, with 87% angry about gas prices and 91% thinking food prices are bad. Hell, at this point a clear majority is upset about the unemployment rate being lower than it was under Trump, 57%. 
Some 29% of Americans believe Joe Biden stole the election anyway. Only 60% believe he won legitimately, and the big one, only a third of Dems would back Biden for a second term. That's been true for over a year now.

Looking ahead to the 2024 general election, the NBC News poll shows Biden and Trump tied in a hypothetical contest among registered voters, 46% to 46%.

In June, Biden held a 4-point lead over Trump, 49% to 45%.

According to the new poll, Biden is ahead of Trump among Black voters (76% to 14%), voters between the ages of 18 and 34 (57% to 34%), whites with college degrees (56% to 34%), Latinos (51% to 39%) and women (51% to 41%).

Trump is ahead among rural voters (67% to 31%), men (51% to 40%) white voters (51% to 41%) and whites without college degree (63% to 32%).

Among independents, Biden gets 42%, while Trump gets 35%.

Notably, Biden leads Trump by 18 points among those who “somewhat disapprove” of the president’s job performance (49% to 31%). And nearly 1 in 5 registered voters who say they have concerns about Biden’s age still vote for him over Trump.

In other hypothetical matchups, Biden holds a 1-point lead over DeSantis, 46% to 45%, well within the poll’s margin of error. 

The other good news in that poll, a solid majority oppose the impeachment inquiry against President Biden and it's not even close, 56%-39% against.

The bad news is that given third party candidates, Trump pulls ahead.

In a multi-candidate field including third parties, Trump gets 39% from registered voters, Biden gets 36%, an unnamed Libertarian Party nominee gets 5%, an unnamed No Labels candidate gets 5% and an unnamed Green Party candidate gets 4%.
So yes, third party spoilers are just that, and while I don't expect any third party candidate to get more than 1 or 2 percent nationally, it would be enough to throw the election to Trump.

Still, between that Washington Post poll and columnist David Ignatius calling for Biden and Harris to step aside for 2024, you'd be forgiven if you thought the Post had it in for Biden in order to cover a competitive open primary, which the GOP is most certainly not.

Sunday Long Read: Black And White

This week's Sunday Long Read comes to us from Gyasi Hall at Longreads, who takes a fresh look at the six-decade history of Antonio Prohias's iconic, subversive, and surreal masterpiece Cold War comic, MAD Magazine's Spy vs. Spy.

The seventy-first issue of MAD Magazine, cover dated June 1962, contains a noteworthy entry in Antonio Prohías’ Spy vs. Spy, a comic strip depicting Looney Tunes-style espionage between two pointy-headed, monochromatic secret agents. This particular installment isn’t the series’ best strip: it’s not the one with the most elaborate explosions, the most clever ending, or the one that’s most exemplary of Prohías’ precise and peerless art style. But it is, for me, the most Spy vs. Spy strip ever, the one that best distills the already simplified distillate and sums up the whole enterprise.

One spy, sporting a trenchcoat, a wide-brimmed G-Man fedora, and secret service shades—a collection of clichéd noir signifiers, all in stark black—stands out in a field with a bucket of water. The moon is full and beautiful. The other spy, identical except in blinding white, peeks out from behind a tree, trying to suss out what his rival is up to. Black Spy stares at the moon through an elaborate sextant, adjusting various settings and making mental calculations, finally drawing an X on the ground with a compass before setting the bucket down. As he leaves, White Spy sneaks up to it, peers inside, trying to figure out what this could all mean. In the last panel, Black Spy has snuck back around to give White Spy a swift kick in the ass, grinning triumphantly as his enemy falls headfirst into the bucket, soaked and seeing stars.

This is the essence of Spy vs. Spy: delightfully stupid without ever being mean, delightfully simple without ever being dumb. Prohías’ comics are as perfect an example of the medium as you’re ever likely to find—even more so, I’d argue, than other all-time strips like Peanuts or Calvin and Hobbes, since its wordless pantomime operates so effortlessly using the mechanics of graphic narrative as its sole language. The above strip works so well because it forgoes high-concept gadgetry to make the petty, low-stakes reality of the spies’ eternal struggle that much clearer. It’s a perfect way to frame the proceeding complexities of the franchise as a whole.

And make no mistake: Spy vs. Spy is a franchise, a bona fide phenomenon, as ubiquitous as comic strips get without the nostalgic momentum of the above GOATs, the “who the hell thinks this is funny?” anti-spectacle of something like Dilbert, or the dearth of basic premise that makes Garfield so ripe for memery. Decades and decades of comics, sure, but also video games, segments on TV shows, T-shirts, trading cards, a board game, action figures, plush toys, Halloween masks, NASCAR promotions, fucking Mountain Dew commercials. The famous image of the spies, shaking hands while holding explosives behind their backs with the tenderness you’d afford fresh fruit, is famous for a reason.

But like the spies themselves, the image we have of something is often what gets us in trouble. As consumers and customers, we are often trained not to see art (or tools or people) as complex things with a story, or the evolving context that informs their continued existence. This not-seeing is often a foundational ingredient of success. The image—the idea of an idea—is what everyone will know, what everyone will buy. I would like to look at Spy vs. Spy in chronological order to tell you the story of a simple, stupid thing. Knowing, after all, is half the battle.

Me, I had all three Spy vs. Spy video games on the C64 (but not the bad 2005 PS2 game, they did the spies dirty on that one) and enjoyed them very much. I also remember the animated Spy vs. Spy cartoons as part of MADtv back in the 90's.

Without a word of dialogue, Spy vs. Spy was arguably one of the best examples of showing a story rather than telling it.

Really do need a 2023 remake of those C64 titles though. 
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