Political science and regret

There is a well established axiom in political science: politicians in office are motivated solely by the need to stay in office. Everything they do relates to maintaining office, or seeking higher office.

Which is why every Republican in the nation has spent the last 12 months kicking shit at Hillary Clinton. People do not like her, and s/he who hates Hillary Clinton the most stands to reap beneficial electoral maneuvers.

But that is so incredibly short sighted by Republicans, because dancing upon their hatred for Democratic office holders has meant that a large proportion of GOP has missed out on things it very readily tells the media it wants: less spending, less regulation, and, without saying it explicitly anywhere, a more favorable business climate. None of these are unreasonable expectations if you are a business person. But since 2008 the GOP has spent so much time shitting all over this president, and so much haughty puffery has been blown the way of Hillary Clinton, that losing another election could be devastating i the minds of the people on the receiving end of all this mass hatred messaging.

Don’t get me wrong, there are reasons to crap all over both the president and Clinton, and on top of that if you are philosophically against things like abortion and civil rights for LGBT people then yeah you’re pretty fucked. But if your concerns are primarily financial, economic or wrapped up in corporate America, you have been done a disservice. Barack Obama repeatedly extended an olive branch to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives on spending but was spurned repeatedly, because the perpetual meringue of whipped-up rage made compromise with a president who was willing to compromise on social spending became toxic; it is literally why you have Marco Rubio in the Senate (well, not often) instead of Charlie Crist.

Hillary Clinton is also a savvy politician who responds to her donors. Anyone who thinks that is an anomaly in American politics is deluded. She is pro-trade, she is pro-Wall Street, she is pro-corporate, she is pro-compromise. For the love of god she represented the state of America’s financial institutions in the US Senate – you can’t pretend you are for your donors, and then not be, because they have the excess cash and time to monitor these things. Clinton was popular in New York amongst many of its citizens, and one of those reasons was sating the concerns of her donors, as well as a critical mass of voters.

If Republicans gave enough of a shit about cutting the deficit and spending responsibly and having access to the president, they would be fawning all over Hillary Clinton. Of all the candidates running with a chance of winning, she is the most philosophically inclined to centrist economic policy. But the hate-tsunami isn’t going to make her reciprocal when she is already in office. By then it might be too late. The GOP woke up to late to a malleable President Obama (well, there’s trade I suppose). Prioritising policy ahead of hatred could have resulted in a very different looking set of policies.

For those who value the welfare institutions of this nation, be grateful for that hate, which was probably the biggest ingredient in preserving the institutions set up by the Democratic Party.

Look what Zuma did

So the South African Rand had another shit day against the dollar, necessitating opposition and reactionary “Fuck Zuma”esque Facebook and Twitter responses all over the place.

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See?

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But if you want to know how powerful Zuma really is, take a quick squiz at what Zuma did to many of the world’s currencies in just the last 12 hours.

Here he fucked up sterling against the dollar today.

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Here is he dealing with the known enemy, the Thai baht.

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FUCK BRAZIL is something Zuma is often known to tell Cyril.

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Hahaha Erdogan, says Zuma, as the Turkish currency falls against the dollar.

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The US won’t even help Israel’s currency, thanks to Jacob Zuma.

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We may be at opposite ends of the continent, but Zuma took care of the Moroccan dirham today too!

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Or, before we take part in the national past time of shitting on the president, which is the easiest thing ever, and takes no effort like for example asking why the rand might be doing worse than it did earlier, could we perhaps Google something?

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Read it here.

If y’all keep this up, you are going to be very surprised when a new president doesn’t make these problems go away. There’s a lot more at play than just Zuma, my chinas.

Or y’all can just keep thinking that everything bad that happens is as a result of him. Go wild.

 

Flaws in punditry

One of the chief problems of cable news is that pundits repeat common wisdom that may or may not be correct. The correctness has little to do with the potential for repetition of said wisdom, which is why, for example, we think that Midterm elections have anything to do with the economy when academic literature can find no substance for it.

What we’re seeing smeared across the interwebs today is that Rubio is the new establishment challenger because he came second in South Carolina and yadda-yadda. Rubio coming second in South Carolina is pretty rubbish, considering that’s where he bet the house, and he also finished second by less than 1,100 votes, and won basically no delegates.

 

Rubio’s squeaking into second place is much like Hillary Clinton’s win in Iowa, in that media coverage is dominated by what position they finished in, rather than the degrees by which they did it. “Hillary won Iowa” is a far more convincing description of success when compared to what actually happened, which was Hillary got four more state delegates (701 to Sanders’ 697) in a controversial undertaking, in which the head of the Iowa Democratic Party is an avowed Hillary supporter. Every single time a pundit says “Hillary won Iowa”, he or she is dismissing a lot of grey area, which could have influenced a very tight result. Caucuses are a crap system of picking the nominee for anything, because they are so open to error, abuse, and are fundamentally undemocratic. If Hillary Clinton had won two less delegates, and Sanders won 2 more, they would be tied at 699 each – how does two delegates change the fact that Iowa was balanced on a knife edge?

The same applies to Rubio in South Carolina. Blearing on about finishing second means absolutely fuck all when 550 votes is the real separation between him and Cruz. Saying Rubio finished second in South Carolina is technically true, but leaves out a lot of detail that is actually prevalent when you are looking at a long-term process to pick the world’s most powerful person.

Look at this, for example. It is a chart of how Rubio and Cruz leapfrog each other, with each jumping ahead when you look at position only. Isn’t it all over the place?

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But look at the percentage of what they won.

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Rubio jumping into second place indicates to you absolutely nothing about the nuances of the race. His record very nearly looked like 3-5-3 over the first three states (which, again, leaves out a very impressive performance in Iowa). But when you look at the % won, Rubio and Cruz are hardly outdoing each other.

In fact, here’s a chart with captions.

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Had Rubio slid to third, the pundits would have declared him dead. But 550 swing the race the other way and the media is on about Rubio’s success in South Carolina, and how the establishment now has their candidate.

There is no nuance, people, in what is actually a very nuanced, very complicated election process.

Smartass Twitter

Smartass Twitter today has excoriated anyone who hasn’t explicitly said that the people who finished first in both the Democratic and Republican primaries were the winners.

While it is indeed factually correct to say that only Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton won Iowa, the picture is actually much larger than that. Firstly, there are another 49 states to be contested, very few of which like Iowa, many of which are drastically different to Iowa, where different interests are at play, and a spread of expectations about different candidates means different things. The reason Marco Rubio is coming away strongly, even though he came third, is because he won evangelical voters, he won in places that Trump was supposed to do well in, and he did it by advertising smartly and shaking hands with people. He is also competing for resources from the same batch of donors as Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and John Kasich – the business end of the Republican Party, if you will. which is not where Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are playing. Before Iowa, although we expected Rubio to do better than those other three, if polling was anything to go by, we didn’t expect him to nearly beat Trump, nor win nearly the same amount of the vote with a much tidier, less fascist message. Rubio showed he can do well with GOP primary voters, which means the people that have not been able to decide among him, Jeb, Kasich and Christie can now much more easily do so. And these people are laden with dollars. Cruz, by coming first, did very well, but he achieved what he set out to, and his potentiel trajectory has more than likely not changed as significantly at Rubio has the potential to do. Rubio took a bigger step towards the final nomination after the Iowa Caucuses than Ted Cruz did. It is entirely reasonable to pour praise onto Rubio after the events of Monday night.

Hillary won too. But Bernie Sanders was ever expected to match her. While she won by zero point fuckall of a percent, Bernie totally overachieved. He won a LOT of support. It wasn’t supposed to be a 50-50 state. Bernie showed he has the potential to win, and they are going to share the same number of delegates. This wasn’t the plan. He forced Clinton to take him on in the last few weeks leading up to the caucuses, and she did, but he ate almost all of a 20-point lead she had in November.

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Iowa caucus polls, 15 November 2015 to 12 January 2016

It was an awesome contest of the two sects of the Democratic Party and it was a draw: I say a draw because it didn’t need to be so close for either campaign to be indubitably happy with the result. If Bernie won by 2 delegates out of 1500 or however many there are it wouldn’t have made a difference either, except the media would have incorrectly cast the death knell for Clinton. It really doesn’t matter that she won, other than what the media is probably wrongly but consequentially going to do with the news.

Because Iowa is a state that has certain demographics, and is unlike many other states, there is a lot more at stake than “who came first”. “Who came first” is incredibly vapid analysis. We have 49 states to go. Rubio is going to get a lot more money. Cruz will likely get a small bump into New Hampshire. Sanders proved he has the potential to win, and that his organising power is strong. Hillary showed she can steady a ship when it is rocking around, and that she’s an an improved campaigner since her 2008 venture.

More than one winner is quite reasonable.

 

What Zuma and Palin have in common

Being incredibly shitty about your political opponents works for some people, but not for others. Ranjeni Munusamy wrote a prescient piece for Daily Maverick earlier this week, describing how the #ZumaMustFall folks are actually forcing the ANC to defend the president, assisted by the shitty tone with which this approach has taken. Even the billboard that went up illegally in Cape Town, and was praised by a political communicator of the Democratic Alliance as an effective piece of communication may actually have had the opposite effect: instead of motivating the ZumaMustFall people, it went and invigorated the folks who believe – or who professionally have to believe – the ZumaMustNotFall clique, who, by the way, are currently in power.

I think the folks in the DA are well aware that to win elections you need to go and get votes, and basically win the argument (this is my political mantra). Those who are mere supporters and not party members, however, don’t seem to get that, and spend their days sneering at Zuma, making fun of his educational background, looking down on his cultural background (which, ahem, is a lot more common in South Africa than man wearing suit eating yorkshire pudding), and basically being snobby. Like it or not, that’s how it comes across. Whether you mean it or not, and more of you mean it that will care to admit.

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Example: condescending piece of disrespectful shit.

Sarah Palin still has a following because of the same criteria. Sarah Palin endorsed Donald Trump yesterday in what to you and me was a cringeworthy spectacle of nonsense, and this line has been repeated across my Facebook feed all morning: “our right-winging, bitter-clinging, proud clingers of our guns, our god, our religions” as a HAHAHA LOOK PALIN IS DESCRIBING THE TEA PARTY WHAT MORONS.

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Example: condescending piece of disrespectful shit

But in actual fact Sarah Palin supporters aren’t showbizzy media spectacles as Palin herself. They are people who love their guns and their god and they are constantly being told they are morons by country club Republicans who go after their votes and then ignore them, and Democrats who love nothing better than to sneer at these sorts of people. This isn’t how you win an argument. This is how you make sure you band people together, by shitting all over what is perfectly normal for them. Mike Huckabee’s book God, Guns, Grits and Gravy only sold because it has an audience. Sarah Palin doesn’t survive from nothing – current politicians WANT her on the campaign trail.

So keep looking down on people, keep sneering at them, keep condescending to them ,and calling them stupid, and sheep and ignorant and laugh at their traditional dress and compare them to Mmusi in a suit. But then don’t act so surprised when the people who also don’t like Jacob Zuma refuse to join your team.

For Black Girls Only

I don’t really know what For Black Girls Only is about, and I don’t really care, because as you can tell by its name it doesn’t involve me. What does involve me is the sensitivity of white people and men at not being allowed to be a part of it, and the carnage that is the current state of the thankfully unapologetic event’s Facebook page.

White people and men, as we have noticed before with Black Journalists’ and Black Business and Black Lawyers’ Associations, cannot deal with being left out, even though the gold standard for just about everything in the world is white people’s feelings about it. For god’s sake Daryll Cullinan can’t even bear the thought that black players might be under different pressure in South African cricket compared to white players. Helen Zille can’t understand why black people can’t just accept All Lives Matter.

We could get into explaining why it is important for black people to have black people things, and women to have women things, and gays to have gay things, and intersectional groups of people to have intersectional things, but it is such an easily accessible explanation using Google or even little Bing that I can’t be bothered. And the fact that it is there and laid out and ready to be read, but every one objecting wants their own personal explanation is a great indicator that these people do not care. They want to derail, because something in SA exists that they can’t have, and, taking a look at land for example, means we would probably take it and not ever give it back.

I salute the people organising up this event for not backing down. It’s for Black Girls Only. I hope it stays that way.

Bowie, that pretty thing

For me, Bowie’s value was in his dontgiveafuckness, and his ability to be an individual that didn’t fit, which implicitly meant he gave us himself around which to coalesce.

So here’s my favourite, because its about this (according to my own very subjective interpretation): Oh You Pretty Things

 

Wake up you sleepy head
Put on some clothes, shake up your bed
Put another log on the fire for me
I’ve made some breakfast and coffee
Look out my window and what do I see
A crack in the sky and a hand reaching down to me
All the nightmares came today
And it looks as though they’re here to stay

What are we coming to
No room for me, no fun for you
I think about a world to come
Where the books were found by the golden ones
Written in pain, written in awe
By a puzzled man who questioned
What we were here for
All the strangers came today
And it looks as though they’re here to stay

Oh you Pretty Things
Don’t you know you’re driving your
Mamas and Papas insane
Oh you Pretty Things
Don’t you know you’re driving your
Mamas and Papas insane
Let me make it plain
You gotta make way for the Homo Superior

Look at your children
See their faces in golden rays
Don’t kid yourself they belong to you
They’re the start of a coming race
The earth is a bitch
We’ve finished our news
Homo Sapiens have outgrown their use
All the strangers came today
And it looks as though they’re here to stay