The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age

    Four Tumors

    John McCain came out of the hospital this week yet again a hero, with all of America cheering him on. Never mind that he was off to do battle against the type of health care that had just saved his life - the free health care that had made his life livable for 50 years since his horrid Vietnam days, while so many other lives slump by.

    But it was 10 months ago that America went ballistic on Hillary Clinton for supposedly hiding something sinister - presumably a tumor tied to a blod clot a few years back, or maybe just maybe Parkinsons, or something else, Wikileaks even going as far as to offer a poll to guess. The Media was hardly down with sympathy at her moment - why hadn't she said she had pneumonia, gasp!?!? why had she covered things up? and lots of bets on when, not if, her demise would come.

    Some's frenzy (Susan Sarandon?) reminded of Camus' famous ending: "For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate." But instead she's still standing, didn't go to the gallows nor the morgue, not even the hospital, over it in a couple days, much to many's chagrin, but the damage was done nonetheless - another loving moment on America's "Timeline" to cherish.

    Of course McCain had had a rather public "senior moment" a few weeks back taking testimony in the Senate - had he covered up too? No one asked, no one cares - he's a national treasure. Hillary's dishonest.

    And I wind it back to May 2008, at the tail end of campaign against Obama, when shortly after Ted Kennedy was diagnosed with a brain tumor and Hillary was urged to bow out quickly, and she noted the obvious - that it was still tight enough and that campaigns had traditionally run into June, as easily remembered by late entry Bobby Kennedy's demise the first week of June in an LA kitchen. Well, that was summoning spirits, according to some.

    There's little worry about trying to be sensible - Republicans get to be hateful and dogmatic, while Democrats get to try to be accepting and bipartisan and reach across the aisle, and this equation has been demanded for decades now. Trump's just the fulmination of these growing biases distilled over long time - he knows nothing *but* how to be hateful, yet we're still expected to treat this as normal.

    Trump could shoot someone down in cold blood and he'd be cheered, as he himself claimed. McCain can talk about pre-emptively turning Iraq into glass and he's serious about defense, while Hillary can talk about a response as a deterrent from a rhetorical first strike and she's a war-monger. 

    Even given the chance to show some sympathy or some sense or some compassion, much of America seems intent on wrapping itself in its new true colors. Instead of Congress and the President taking note that the prevailing winds show them out of touch with the populace, with humanity, with even their own members, they rally for one after another failed attempt to make shit out of shinola, even invoking Mr. Hero Patriot's return as yet another chance to make "Maverick" equal "uncaring bastard".

    America's suffering from a tumor, but it's hard to say what the cure is - no chemo, no scalpel, no radiation seems strong enough to eradicate this decades-old viper pit in our national consciousness and political system. We hate everybody and wish them the worst, and think that people should purely survive on spit and vinegar and ill-will. We even celebrate the purveyors of this quasi-religious pseudo-capitalist mysticism. We're all becoming cronies in this tragedy, colluding to our own demise. Even the hope that it's just a dream seems fated. From afar it looks unnecessary, but hard to diagnose a cure. They shoot horses, don't they? Maybe they can put us down too. But even that has its shady side to it. Instead, it's Breaking Bad, week 4736. How much lower can it go?


    Maybe it's not new. If memory serves there were cases of would be suicides delaying on the ledge till some crowd members started to shout "jump".

    Whether that's true,  one thing of which I'm convinced is that there has been an increase in giving lip service to

    a cult of perfection. We're not willing to accept the " good enough"  anything : mother, banker (yes!), candidate, 

    police chief. Or rather we're not willing to admit that we are willing to accept the  "good enough" when it suits us. When it's "our" banker, police chief etc.

    Reading Al Franken's new book, I'm struck by the number of Republicans who are reviled here whom he found

    himself liking, perhaps admiring While still ,correctly, completely rejecting their politics. Jeff Sessions for example.  

    edited to correct spelling of Franken's name

    Some Progressives have the same double standard as the media. Point out that Trump supporters hold racist views, remain silent on voter suppression and police abuse and you are criticized for calling Trump supporters racists. Republicans are hateful people. They want to take away healthcare, they ignore a Russian attack on our Presidential election, and don't care about the Trump clan profiting from the Presidency. Call these Trump supporters "deplorables" and Progressives will provide cover for the bad behavior of Trump supporters.

    There's been others, but no essay has made it any clearer to me what the problem is and the only problem and it's very simple:

    She's not likeable! The way she is does not endear her to people.

    I know you don't get this, because as you've said more than once, you genuinely like her, and that in itself is a mystery because you seem an average person along those lines.

    I myself don't like her but I don't need to like someone I vote for, I just want them to be able to do the job. She is an example of way past qualified on that front.

    The only tumor on our body politic as I see it is one that comes with democracy: lots of people vote on personality and whether they like the personality. It comes with this form of government unless you limit voters to Vulcans only.

    People do not empathize or sympathize with people with disagreeable personalities. They are sad when someone they like or feel warmly about is seriously ill or dies. When that happens to someone they don't like, they are hopefully civil and gracious about commenting, but secretly they are really thinking: bitch/bastard's karma.

    She's a pill, admit it! She gives off: cold; almost bitchy sometimes (I think maybe an asset for her in past roles and would be same as president, BUT it doesn't make her likeable.)   A too earnest nerd, the best student in the class lording it over everyone else. She really does give off the attitude: I know better than anyone else. Her sense of humor is arcane, I can see how many would think it elitist. Kate McKinnon's parody on SNL helped humanize her a bit from the feminazi caricature her own public behavior and quips and personality contributes to, but it came too late.

    Her husband, on the other hand, is extremely likeable.He gives off: warm, friendly. I dare say he would get the same reaction as McCain except from those minority of visceral haters who think his shtick is all a "slick willy" act. People will be sad when he is gone. He also knows how to wonk without lording it over people, as a matter of fact he would make an excellent teacher, everyone's favorite. Him leaving this earth would leave a hole in people's lives, a character they would like to always be there; Hillary: not so much. Honor her accomplishments, but not miss her.

    Obama is cool, cold, and has the elite thing but he also has oodles of sexy, eloquence, a way with words, sarcastic but with the facial expressions and other gestures that soften that and make it funny. Hillary: not any of those things. 

    Her problem was pegged well by Time Magazine here as regards his famous "you're likeable enough, Hillary" quip:

    In the hotly contested 2008 Democratic presidential primary, Obama relied early and often on his charisma to win over voters still on the fence about the freshman Senator. Cracking jokes and smiles at the numerous debates, he was able to distinguish himself from the frequent stern looks and sober policy explanations of his rival, Hillary Clinton [....]

    Don't you remember the Hillary hate from Obamabot liberals at TPM Cafe in 2008? Lots of genuine hate, same thing: disliked her personality, from her elitist holier-than-thou persona felt she would lie, cheat and steal to climb over everyone else rather than be honest. I know she's not like that, but I've read a lot on her. To this day, I think she does present like that in her public persona. (And to that I would say: good attributes for a president, she/he doesn't have to be likeable. But what comes along with that: people do not have empathy or sympathy for you.)

    As to John McCain. While he gets stern about matters of national security, he is otherwise: very warm and charming and especially: constantly practices humility in personal interaction, something he probably learned from being a P.O.W. Hillary doesn't have a humble bone in her body, she fights instead. Remember how McCain handled the nut at his town hall calling Obama an Arab? Quietly and with dignity, not by being feisty. He's always respectful of everyone.

    His Saturday Night Live appearances were always self-deprecating. I just can't imagine Hillary being self-deprecating. This recent photo is the McCain that is popular with colleagues, the media and a lot of the public, the warmth is in the smile:

    Unfortunately for him, when he'd be serious about campaigning for president and on issues, it didn't transfer. And people who vote white papers and facts knows where he stands: on the far right on a lot of issues, much further than the population at large.

    But he will be mourned by a great many when lost, same with Bill and Barack. Hillary: I'm not so sure. There is nothing to bind her to people to make them miss her. I know so many who voted for her either with an "eh" or "far better of two evils." Not at all because of likeability, much more like this: wish she was still Sec. of State, don't know if I can stand seeing her talk every day, at least she's not Trump.

    P.S. Bernie has his own different unlikeability problem, and that's a whole nother thing, goes with prejudice against a certain ethnic style. Some people just will never like that style. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say: Trump has some of that, too, even though they don't have ethnic background in common. It's the New York thing.

    I couldn't disagree more, but am too tired to go there.  Also ate too many oysters.  Will check back in tomorrow with my thoughts.

    ok, look forward to seeing your view whenever. But beware: I do recall you saying you personally like Hillary, too. I never met any "real" people like you and Peracles, only on the net. Ok, there was the also one Hillary fan girl article in the NYTimes. Just kidding ya...

    On the oysters, bad girl, I had to look up the "R rule" and you didn't follow it!  Worried for you, hope it's nothing but overindulgence. So now you have to post something somewhere so we know you're okay.

    Ha! The (fake) Pauline Kael rule!

    The people who voted for Trump were OK with racism. They are OK with police abuse and voter suppression. Hillary was not the problem. Racist bigots drawn to Trump's open calls to act on their evil desires put the country at risk. These despicable people are willing to turn away from the cyberattacks on our election system. Trump supporters are traitors. Hillary did not make them racist traitors, Trump supporters are acting in accord with their true nature.

    The NRA runs ads targeting minorities and Progressives. The NRA loves Donald Trump. The NRA is filled with deplorable people. Trump is creating a committee designed to suppress minority votes. There is zero pushback from the GOP. The racism of the GOP impacts policy. The deplorables that make up the Republican base don't want fair voting. Hillary did not make the deplorables deplorable. The problem lies in their deplorable DNA. 

    If you listen to a Trump word salad speech and find Trump likeable, you are stupid. Hillary did not make you stupid. You made a conscious decision to remain ill-informed. That is not Hillary's fault.

    Huh? I don't see Peracles post as about the same thing you do, apparently.

    He's trying to find the tumor. It's a mess in there. Of course he sees it from his perspective and priorities, but so do we - ours are just a bit less obvious and more normalized. In part like that flyboy thing, we have the luxury of having our shtik accepted, applauded. Can be the ugliest flyboy at the party, someone will be happy to dance with him. Do you know how boring flying long distances in planes is? Yet people will find them "interesting" as they play another hit on their juke box - this commander, this base, this drill sergeant, this country with some girl or being out or getting drunk... Formulaic but works.

    The tumor is the GOP and its support network of Fox, Sinclair, Liberty University, Evangelicals, Rush, Hannity, etc. False news is now the norm.

    Trump went before Liberty University and quoted the Bible from Two Corinthians ( not Second Corinthians). Liberty University leadership praised Trump as a true Christian. We have evil hypocrites all around.

    The metastasis is the voters who buy into the crap.

    In the end, we're left facing the fact that more people than we thought possible are just plain assholes.  They're mean.  They're weak.   They're cowardly.   

    They're hateful.  And they're fucking stupid.  

    They just voted in their president.  And they're marching us toward a fascist state .

    (And it doesn't matter if the election was Diebolded and robocalled and thwarted at the polls, either: it should never have been close enough to steal.)

    These people never vote for good government; they don't even believe in government.  They're spoiled little toddlers who freak out when they're expected to share.  They don't think they have to pay for anything that they take.  And they're right--they don't.  

    We do . 

    The late Steve Gilliard, from 2-0-0-4. 

    I love the way Rand "OK for drones to kill liquor store robbers" Rand says he cannot vote for Obamacare health care subsidies, when 49.6%  of Kentuckians are on federal health care programs, and the money comes from blue states.

    This  idiot is voted in over and over cuz he makes 'em feel good.

    Another of his whoppers was:

    Paul questioned whether the Obama administration should carry out its plan to send 3,000 troops to Ebola hot zones in Africa.

    "You also have to be concerned about 3,000 soldiers getting back on a ship. Where is disease most transmittable? When you're in a very close confines on a ship, we all know about cruises and how they get these diarrhea viruses that are transmitted very easily," he said. "Can you imagine if a whole ship full of our soldiers catch Ebola?"

    Not an expert  just an old man but it seems to me that depending on the receptivity any one  has developed over our life we respond more favorably to different types.

    I was fine with Hillary, businesslike  , or as I once heard Harold Wilson described 'a plumber with his tools, come to do a job.'  Felt much the same about Obama.

    Bill seemed a phony. Not that I'm saying he was, just that's how he came across to me. Gore was boring

    but I trusted him. I also trusted Edwards, wrongly.

    I don't subscribe to rmr's view that the politicians with whom I disagree are ,often, bad people, They too have

    been shaped by their life time's experience. But if I disagree with their ideas I'm going to oppose them

    even if they're known to have various good qualities.

    Again, Al Franken's new book is full of descriptions of republicans whom he found personally pleasant

    but whose ideas  he detested. 


    Ha! We're the Hillary we're projecting. America has become or always was bitchy, cold, awkward, a know-it-all, trying to be cool but coming off awkward... our tumor is trying to escape *us*

    I don't get the flyboy stuff. My father was a flyboy - I met astronauts. It's just another personality, another type of cool - rock star, proto-businessman, etc.Here are the jokes you tell, etc. One reason you can be cool and effusive is because you're chained/guaranteed that military career for good including health care, generous pension, college through GI Bill... no more doubt and worry, just sit back relaxed and tell those same old military jokes and divide the world into us and them. Bomb bomb bomb Iran, yukk yukk yukk. Those damn queers - yukk yukk yukk...

    Compare Reagan with how you've complained about Hillary. He was a smarmy Eddie Haskell, self-absorbed and self-assure and knew he could get away with it because of his good looks. JFK had some excellent qualities, but he was a whorehound who had everything dropped in his lap - lloks, money, connections... Obama without being tall and good looking? Just one of the pack. We hate Hillary for working hard, like Al Gore - "the nerd who asks for more homework". We want the lazy selfassured W Bush for some reason. We're suckers.

    Ronnie's "charms" absolutely had reverse affect on me (icky!) but I would never argue that he did not have an incredibly popular personality. Compare Nancy: Not so much!  Funny, now that I think on it, I see it as Nancy having a little bit of the Hillary thang going on.Is that misogyny ingrained in our culture? I don't know. I do think women as tough guys have a harder time being likeable. Though as your comment also makes me think, it's not always easy for tough guys to be popular either, they got  to do it a certain way.

    Yeah, tough isnt enough by itself. How does the misogyny work? Worth reflecting on, wat are the mechanics at play... Nancy and Hillary, never compared, but Nancy likely got an unfair bit of spitoon juice spat at her. Except that "just say no" bit, but that was so unremarkable for her age

    P.S. I think some kind of vulnerability, even for a leader like the U.S. president, may be the key. It can differ what kind. Arrogance is what is really a killer of high likeability, hence Trump in the dumps worse than any other newbie.

    Yeah, it's the would you have a beer with guy thing. As I said, it goes with democracy, people often vote heart not mind.

    And another thing: I think if you are going to go as far back as JFK, that's dealing with a different culture. It has changed. The country was aching for glamour after the war and then crochetedy old Dwight and Mamie, and Jackie made sure they got some Camelot. Then he became a martyr.

    and on the arrogance thing something just came to mind. When I went to google that "you're likeable enough, Hillary" Obama brouhaha for my first comment upthread, other links reminded me that Obama paid a heavy price fort that one, it was seen as nasty and arrogant.

    the self-deprecation thing works, wins friends and influences people; from the end of McCain's Senate speech:

    I’ve had so many people say such nice things about me recently that I think some of you must have me confused with someone else. I appreciate it though, every word, even if much of it isn’t deserved.

    “I’ll be here for a few days, I hope managing the floor debate on the defense authorization bill, which, I’m proud to say is again a product of bipartisan cooperation and trust among the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

    “After that, I’m going home for a while to treat my illness. I have every intention of returning here and giving many of you cause to regret all the nice things you said about me.

    And you've never heard Hillary be self-deprecating over and over and over again?

    Self-deprecation works for alpha males because we all know they're ace, but they lower themselves that tad to pretend they're just like us!!!

    "Likeable enough" caught flak because it was too transparently like a "dickish boyfriend" as Jon Stewart put it, back in that far-ago age when you couldn't say women looked like pigs. But coming from John McCain, they would have gushed on how clever he was for phrasing it just so.

    For Hillary, she'd just be "pandering" and "insincere". She can go do shots with McCain, but he's just being a "maverick" while she'd be "inauthentic" - same bar, same whiskey, doesn't matter.

    Really, there aren't standards - there are only clubs. America is run like "Mean Girls" or "The Heathers". The biggest is the male club, but the even better and more elite is the male military club - which gets extended to hard nosed conservative-spouting chickenhawks and women who shout out "patriot" or "support our troops" enough. (Even though I'm happy Louise Mensch is stirring up the bees' nest, her "patriot" crap for everyone from John McCain to Comey to whoever just keeps my stomach in turmoil). This club is largely claimed by 1 party, so when a usurper like McCleland or John Kerry or Tammy Baldwin slips in, the vipers come out and attack.

    Which also makes it funny how Tulsi Gabbard was received from serving a tour in Iraq and thus becoming an expert on all things Middle East. (Steve Bannon trained to drive a ship for 3-4 years, so thus makes him qualified to be head Chief of Staff for all the military...)

    I don't want to paint Gabbard's service, as I don't know specifically what she did and what she faced in 2 tours in a medical unit, but we get some of the absurdity in just assuming "Iraq" means "hard times" by noting at least 1 point of duty was Anaconda:

    It housed 28,000 military personnel and 8,000 civilian contractors.[citation needed] Like most large bases in Iraq, LSA Anaconda offered amenities, circa 2006 and later, including a base movie theater (Sustainer Theater), two Base/Post Exchanges (BX/PX), fast food courts including SubwayPopeyesPizza HutTaco Bell (2007), Burger King, Green Bean Coffee, a Turkish Cafe with Turkish food prepared by Turks, an Iraqi Bazaar which sold local souvenirs, multiple gyms, dance lessons, an olympic size swimming pool and an indoor swimming pool. The base was a common destination for celebrities and politicians visiting US troops serving in Iraq on USO Tours including the Charlie Daniels band (2005), Vince Vaughn (2005), Wayne NewtonGary SiniseChris IsaakNeal McCoy, and Oliver North.[2] Carrie Underwoodplayed there in December 2006 and Gary Sinise visited again going out of his way to greet the troops at the Base/Post Exchange (BX/PX).

    Step outside the base, and I'm sure things were hell. But in any case, Sarah Palin was awarded honorary membership to this club by John McCain for spouting enough loony bits about the troops and guns, and as I remind people, delivering the speech of her life at just the right time (nothing after quite mattered - she knocked that one out of the park).

    But even that's an indication - Communications Major, talking head - can spout words without any meaning behind. We don't require any actual cognitive activity, no analysis - we're waiting for the Gods of Olympus to distill their wisdom in snippets called "messaging" for us mere mortals. I mean, sure, it's nice to give a clear title to a speech on health care, but 1000 pages of policy is somehow supposed to be a Groucho Marx one-liner or we're off to someone who *can* do it. The military thing is largely this kind of cut-out as well: a few pithy phrases about turning Iraq into glass and you have a DC politi-military career for decades as long as you're not filmed skinny dipping in the tidal basin at night.

    What's changed is the membership in this and similar clubs is now convoluted. There used to be boundaries where even a Jack D. Ripper couldn't go. And usually there was a marginal consistency - Rooskies and gooks bad, more big weapons good, piss on the pansies that don't want to fight, America's the greatest that ever existed/salute that flag. But like the famed Vietnam outburst that gave away the absurdity, "we're going to save that hamlet even if we have to bomb it back to the stone age", the conservative movement is now at full war with itself and all Americans - it's heading to unpatriotic to see a doctor even if you have proper military-provided healthcare (certainly women shouldn't), just like education is now a sign of liberal pampering whereas real men will get all they need in bootcamp and the no-longer-so-prevalent front lines (or mucking-and-yucking-it-about at the officers quarters)

    The Hillary hate in 2008 TPM was an example of the syndrome fairly prevalent here of being unable to distinquish  between the personal qualities of our  political opponents and their -often hateful- policies.

    From " Al Franken,Giant of the Senate"

    "When I first got to the Senate Jeff ( Sessions-Flav)was the ranking member of the Judiciary and I made it a point to go to every hearing no matter how perfunctory...........He saw me show up ....  He heard me take the responsibility of questioning seriously.

    A few weeks in, Chairman Leahy had to miss a hearing so he asked me to fill in and when Jeff  got there he saw me holding the gavel.

    "Well" exclaimed Jeff in his .drawl " A meteoric rise".

    "And well deserved" I replied in my nasal midwestern Jewish twang.  Jeff laughed. He's been an  easy laugh for me ever since.

    When Trump won ...and nominated Jeff to be AG ,it was time for me to return the favor........

    No. Of course not.Being a senator does mean finding a way to make friends with people you're fighting against with every fibre of your being.But it also means finding a way to fight with every fibre of your being against people you're friends with.....................

    And then I voted against him.

    Jeff Sessions is my friend (or was),

    .....When our grandson was born  Mary (Sessions wife-Flav) knit him a blanket.....It's hard to unfairly demonize someone whose wife knit your grandson his favorite blanket. Which is why when my job meant doing everything in my power to deny my friend this important position , I was relieved there was so much to fairly demonize him for."

    End of quote and my sermon,


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