Striped Cuckoo

striped cuckoo 1There is a bit of delicious schadenfreude with regard to the mainstream (“establishment”) Republican party scrambling to correct for The Donald. The GOP spent years training their electorate to respond to noise and nonsense; now they’re stuck behind an interloper cuckoo bird who’s a master at noise, nonsense, and (worst of all) media.

Between the chirping Donnie Boy and the incoherent lipsticked pit bull, it’s quite an entertaining show. Of course, no one will actually vote for the guy, right? Those big crowds just turn out to see the show, right? They’ll never show up at the actual caucus…

Right? Right??

We’ll find out a week from now. People may be surprised!

You know about cuckoo birds, right? They lay their eggs in some other bird’s nest. There is, most famously, the European common cuckoo, but on our side of the pond we have the striped cuckoo (and there is, perhaps, a certain resemblance in the top-of-the-head area).

striped cuckoo 2

“I’ll build a giant feeder,… and make the cats pay for it!”

I really do wonder what kind of eggs the Trump Bird is laying in the GOP nest. Given his past, it’s hard to believe they’re very conservative eggs.

A President Trump might surprise his supporters even more than President Obama surprised many liberal voters (myself among them).

“Cuckoo” certainly seems the right word for politics these days.

Conventional political campaign wisdom seems to mean very little this cycle. In fact, it seems upside down. DB seems impervious to missteps that have vanished other candidates from public view (let alone from outside attacks, which just make him stronger).

[We’ll see if conventional wisdom still applies to the others. Chris Christie just stepped in it big time. He gave a rude reply to a young woman who bothered to show up at his event, and he seems utterly unaware of the value of “being there” when his state needs him. Worse, he seems unaware of the favorable free press he’d get setting aside his campaign to help his state. That’s what a presidential type would do.]

In a mythological narrative, occult deals with dark forces, and the casting of fell spells under a blood moon, would lie at the heart. Or perhaps a magical talisman stolen from the long-lost tomb of a forgotten evil mage.

Dark Don

Donald the Dark Mage!

I mean, how else do you explain this? Fate?

As I’ve said before (and in the lead), I think it’s the inevitable result of a population too used to lies, illusions, and trivia (none of which may exceed 140 characters).

Here (as I see it) is the bullet list of woe:

  1. Assertion as Fact
  2. Opinion as Reality
  3. Emotion as Thought
  4. Popularity as Validity
  5. Violence as Viable
  6. Hyperbole as Normal

These are things that I believe lay at the heart of discourse today, and they make it almost utterly without value.

It’s astonishing that no one seems to understand even the most basic logic flaws in reasoning. Just yesterday I watched “expert” talking heads reach for, but never come close to grasping, the idea that ad hominem arguments are meaningless.

Yet, per bullet point #4, we tend to consider the source, the personality, who says something more important than the content of what is said. Everyone (who chooses to express opinions) should acquaint themselves with the basic logical fallacies.

RationalWiki[Those who really get into discussing opinions should be aware of Rational Wiki! If only more media people were.]

Watching politicians and the media that covers them is so dismaying and disturbing as to defy words strong enough to express. I wonder constantly if they’re just too craven to risk offending their talking head guests by holding them basic standards of discourse.

Or maybe they’re just incompetent. Hanlon’s Razor suggests it’s a pretty good bet. Kind of a shame that the people who (at least supposedly) take on the task of informing us are so bad at it.


Hillary Clinton town hallI did enjoy the CNN Democrats’ Town Hall last night. I thought all three candidates did very well, but I was extra impressed with Martin O’Malley and Hillary Clinton.

Sorry, Bernie… I really do like you and your politics, but I just can’t give you my vote. I’ve reached for Big Change several times now, and so far the reality seems that this big ship just can’t turn that fast.

And I gotta be honest: You’re just too old. And you yell too much. I liked you best when you stopped yelling at the end of your segment last night.

And Hillary… a slick and experienced politician, which is both an upside (proven effectiveness) and a downside (same old politics). I helped elect this country’s first black president; I do believe I’m going to help elect its first female president.

But in the primary I’m probably voting for Martin O’Malley.

Bernie stood up at one point to make a serious point, and later the moderator invited him to be seated again. I wondered how the other candidates would react and attempt to one-up him.

Martin O'Malley town hallI do not understand why Sanders is trying to finesse his vote as a Vermont senator on the gun bill.

Why can he not simply say, “I voted for my state, exactly as I was elected as senator to do, but as president would obviously represent the entire country.”

The way he’s been handling it is points off in my book.

O’Malley was great. Took off his jacket and stood the whole time (saying he just can’t sit at town hall events). He was dynamic and very good in his answers, and — unlike the debates — it was nice to see as much of him as of the other two candidates.

Hillary, last at bat, had no choice but to stand after O’Malley did, but she was also energetic and gave pretty good answers.

I think she will make a very fine president!

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

22 responses to “Striped Cuckoo

  • reocochran

    Just saying I will probably go with Hillary and hope her experience and slickness will survive better than the way Pres. Barack Obama did. He is a fine man, was not very supported in the Congress nor Senate and awful things went around on the internet. I will read more about O’Malley. I was going to say Bernie isn’t too bad nor was our Kasich. Despite his being a Republican, he was good in the first Rep. debate and we liked him fairly well in Ohio…. ~ R. C.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      On the one hand, I suspect the GOP would react less antagonistically towards a white woman than a black man, but on the other hand, they really, really hate Hillary. She gets reflexively slammed at least as much as President Obama does on Fox News. (And they keep singing the Benghazi song over and over.)

      So maybe it would balance out and we’d have gridlock for another eight years. (Unless the Democrats manage to get Congress back… not that they did anything with a super majority last time, damn it.)

  • SelfAwarePatterns

    I have to admit that I never thought Trump would last this long. I think what many of us didn’t want to see is that he’s lasted because he’s telling a certain portion of the electorate exactly what they want to hear. Views many of us see as repulsive, that part of the electorate sees as frank truths. And the GOP establishment seems to be in the process or rationalizing itself into accepting him. (They see him the lesser evil compared to Cruz.)

    I’ll vote for Hillary in the primaries. I like Bernie too, and mostly agree with where he’d like to take the country. But ideological agreement isn’t enough. I need a sense that a candidate a) has a chance in the general election and b) if they get elected, have the pragmatic skills to make things happen. I know about some of the assertions that Sanders does well with independents, but I’m not convinced. And I see little in Sanders’s history showing he can do the wheeling and dealing necessary for a successful Presidency.

    Clinton’s not perfect, but she’s a fighter. Not that I won’t happily vote for Sanders or O’Malley if either gets the nomination. They’re both far better than even the saner GOP candidates, even if the sane ones had a chance.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      “Views many of us see as repulsive, that part of the electorate sees as frank truths.”

      Yeah, I think of those as ‘lizard brain’ thoughts. They’re deeply rooted in emotion, almost entirely absent critical analysis, and usually based on fear or hate (which may be the same as fear).

      We all have them, but civilization has been the march away from that (literally) cold-blooded behavior. Our leaders should lead from above and invoke our better angels. Donnie Boy leads from the bottom and invokes our darker impulses.

      And that shit is seductive. Like any high.

      That said, I can’t help but wonder how much of this is just show. Have you noticed how much he’s toned down the rhetoric lately? At times he sounds even reasonable, and if he did pivot to the center, he might actually make a hell of a president.

      Yeah, that’s right, I’m starting to consider him as a serious option. He got buildings built in NYC (which is no simple feat), and I’ve said from the beginning that his (apparent) authenticity is refreshing in a politician. (Even Bernie has that political slickness and ability to pivot away from answering questions.)

      I think sometimes he signals… something… maybe. A while back, he made a stump remark about how we spend more on education but rank 28th. That was cloaked in a comment about how stupid and inefficient government is, but I was struck by his choice of example. He does talk a lot about our infrastructure (a big topic on my list), and it’s certainly true a deal-maker is what we want rather than a war-monger.

      I’ve wondered from the beginning if he’s playing a very clever bait-n-switch on the GOP. A savvy business man with dreams of the presidency might just have realized how fractured the GOP has become recently.

      In any event, on multiple levels I’m no longer dismissing him.

      If I thought Sanders or O’Malley really had a chance, I’d be willing to roll the dice on supporting them. But actually, if the primary looks close, I’ll probably end up voting for Clinton there. I was planning to use my primary vote for Bernie as a message vote, but the more I watch him, the more his age bothers me.

      Since I’m over 60, I think I’m allowed to be ageist. 😀

      But as you say, they’re all very good candidates, and any one of them is far and away better than most of the GOP field. (There are a few that might not be completely awful. But Rubio? Or Cruz? Oh, hell no!)

      “I see little in Sanders’s history showing he can do the wheeling and dealing…”

      Check out his stint as mayor of Burlington (1981-1989). He accomplished big things for that city. He’s had at least some experience governing.

      You know, it really is a tough call. Any of those three would be a-okay.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        If Trump does make it to the Presidency, I certainly hope most of what he’s said is empty rhetoric. (Of course, some of it, such as promising that everyone will say “Merry Christmas” when he’s in charge, has to be.) We’ll know more when / if he gets the nomination. If he does pivot to the center, and can pull it off despite all the stuff he’s put on the record, he might well make an effective President. (The question would be, effective for who?) If he does succeed, we can expect the next generation of politicians to adopt his playbook.

        Sanders’s age also bothers my 79 year old dad. It doesn’t bother me too much. (Sanders is 74 to Clinton’s 68, but he’s looked old for a long time.) On the other hand, his demeanor (sour and loud) does bother me. He just doesn’t seem like the guy who could win a general election or woo Congress to his agenda. If he gets the nomination, I’ll definitely vote for him and hope I’m wrong.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Agreed on all points. It really all does depend on what Trump does if he does get nominated. I think it would be great if other politicians adopted the ‘authentic aspect’ part of his playbook, but I could do without the hateful hyperbole.

        Your dad and I know what it’s like to be old! (You should revere your elders, anyway, ya young whippersnapper. 🙂 )

        I have discovered that one cure for starting to think Trump might not be too bad is to listen to him for any length of time. Even when he’s toning it down, it’s pretty extreme behavior for someone who would be leader of the free world. Signs of the times in some regards, but sheeze… hard for us old farts to swallow sometimes.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        I wish I was still a whippersnapper. At 49, I’m already becoming more familiar with age than I ever really wanted to.

        I agree that Trump does sound more reasonable when you listen to him at length. The press tends to quote the more obnoxious sound bites. But then the obnoxious sound bites are there for them to quote. How much of it reflects his actual beliefs or policies is something I hope we get by without learning.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Heh, just wait until you cross 60! 😮

        The media seems completely unable to avoid being used as a free Trump Campaign machine. It’s hysterical (to my twisted sense of humor) that of the big three, CNN, MSNBC, and FNN, the one network that covers him least is FNN (the virtual voice of the GOP establishment). MSNBC can’t seem to get enough of him; they’re the most prone to airing long segments of his stump speeches, but CNN does it, too. FNN? Never.

        But even they are starting to slowly come around. It’s funny to watch. They’ve become a little less aggressive in their negative coverage of him. (And Trump knows… he can’t stand FNN. You’ve probably heard the big news about him skipping their debate tomorrow night. Again he grabs the news cycle! XD )

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        I don’t want to even do 50. Can’t I go back to 30? 😕

        That’s interesting about FNN not covering him much, but not completely surprising since the GOP establishment sees Trump hurting the down ticket candidates.

        From what I can see, Trump used Megan Kelly as an excuse to avoid a debate just before the election, an event that could, at best, have done nothing for him, but could potentially have helped his rivals. Of course, his rivals are going to attack him in abstentia, hoping that some portion of his supporters are still watching. And they’re ridiculing him, asking if he can’t face Kelly, how’s he going to fare against Hillary, or other world leaders? I’m mildly curious to see if shirking the debate hurts him at all.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        It’s even less likely to hurt him now. FNN misplayed their hand by sending out that mocking tweet (funny how politics is being decided on Twitter these days! o_O ). Up to that point, their position was unassailable; now, not so much.

        (Which is exactly what I mean by incompetence. That was a foolish move. Megyn Kelly kept the high ground by not even addressing Trump’s attacks on her (and she is a good journalist). They should have used surrogates to put out shaming messages. A great ad would have been a quick political cartoon style animation showing a little Trump (Donnie Boy!) cowering before a giant Megyn Kelly. Then the POV tracks around to reveal even large giants (labeled “Putin” and “ISIS” and “China”) standing behind her. Why no one has put that out, I do not know.)

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        You would have a made an excellent political cartoonist Wyrd. I heard on NPR sometime today that Rand Paul thinks Trump’s absence will improve the quality of the debate, with less bluster and insults, although I remember the 2012 Republican debates, without Trump, being just as much a circus. I for one intend to give this debate the same attention and respect I gave the previous Republican debates, which is to say I’ll be probably be watching or reading honest fiction instead. 😎

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I’ve been thinking about it… Draw Trump as a chicken and Kelly as a fox and the big giants behind her as bears. If I wanted to be extra snarky, I’d throw in a pasture of sheep in the background and label them “Trump Followers.” XD

        It will definitely be interesting tomorrow night! Trump will have his event; FNN will have theirs. It would be pretty funny if no network agreed to carry Trump’s, but money can buy just about anything. (Wouldn’t it be weird if someday down the road we found out some portion of Trumps crowds were bought somehow?)

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        Early on I heard a rumor that the crowds were paid for, but I think it was only a rumor, otherwise the press and opposition would have been all over it. The only question is how many of them will turn up at the polls (or caucus).

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I suppose it would be hard to hide all signs of buying crowds! Someone with their own money could probably divert funds through various channels, but there is the need to cover up the importing of crowds and insure no one spills the beans.

        Not that I believe a word of it, but one might construct a dramatic narrative where early crowds were imported to “prime the pump” and get the flow going. (The secret “black buses” dropped people off far enough away from events that journalists never noticed. And participants got promissory notes requiring them to keep silent for six months to receive their very large payment.) 🙂

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        That could work and does make for a good story. But thinking through it, I suspect it’s a lot easier, and less risky, to just market the heck out of the early events (in a closely targeted fashion). Given Trump’s background, I wouldn’t be shocked if the marketing was so intense that it effectively generated the rumors.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Yeah, I think it’s common to imagine a conspiracy of some kind to explain things that we find hard to believe. The 9/11 conspiracy “theories,” for example, seem to come from it being so hard to imagine a small group of determined people could accomplish that much damage (often because people don’t really understand the fragility of certain aspects of modern civilization).

        Hanlon’s Razor (which I’ve always thought was a specific application of Occam’s) is there to caution against exactly that kind of thinking! 🙂

        As I’ve said in several posts now, we created the cultural condition that allowed Trump to thrive. He’s a direct result of where we’ve been headed a long time.

  • dianasschwenk

    What’s that old saying… people get the government they deserve or something like that?

    I will miss Obama, Smitty. Like you, I like the idea of Clinton for president! ❤
    Diana xo

  • Nico Sanchez

    Is it sad I still yearn for a Nader presidency? The fool on the hill we need.

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