Friday, November 11, 2016

The Two Gates

I produced a song by David Bowie called “Heroes.” They use it for every heroic event, although it’s a song about alcoholics. We did it on 24 tracks in Hansa Studios in Berlin. With all of the backing vocals and instruments on it, we only had one track left for the vocal.

Hansa was a studio where you could record symphony orchestras; you can have about 150 pieces in this room, and here was David Bowie standing in this enormous auditorium. Every time he sang – he could sing very loud – his voice was echoing off the walls and the ceiling and everything. I said, “Could you give me half an hour? I want to set up two microphones.” So I set up a Neumann U-47 in front of him and then about 15 or 20 feet away I set up something like a 67, then way down the hall I set up another condenser microphone.

I only had the one track left, so I couldn’t record these microphones on separate tracks. What I did is put a gate on microphone two and another gate on microphone three, so when he sang like this [deep voice] those microphones wouldn’t open up, you wouldn’t hear the ambience in the room. When he sang like this [loud voice], the middle microphone would open up and when he went [screams] – that’s called Bowie histrionics – all three microphones would open up...

One of the few advantages of being the sole proprietor of a wholly independent, unbought and unbossed political/media/dating-tips blog every day for the last 12 years is that, almost by accident, I have built what amounts to my own little time machine.

As today's Professional Pundits all peer myopically through the same wretchedly warped Beltway glass and cast about for some comprehensive explanation for 11/09/16 that does not involve the words "race" and "moron", I am free to hop into my very own, homemade LibTardis and zoom back to whatever point in recent history that might interest me.

For example (cue the flashback/dissolve music) way back in 2008 (before the beginning of recorded history) many of today's Professional Pundits were having the same devil's own time trying to explain -- without using the words words "race" and "moron"-- why the campaign of Senator Barack Obama seemed to be stalling out during a political season when the conditions could not have been more favorable for a Democratic win.

From The Guardian in August of 2008:
US elections: Why has Obama stalled? No one mentions race

There is little doubt that race is going to play a starring role in this election after the convention season. 'It has not been too much of an issue so far. Or, at least not talked about. But that is not going to last,' said Bowler. It is already getting a lot of play on conservative talk shows and in books. Rush Limbaugh, the 'shock jock' who is hugely popular with white conservatives, has stepped up race-baiting on his broadcasts. He recently claimed Democrats chose Obama as a sort of 'affirmative action' programme. 'I think it really goes back to the fact that nobody had the guts to stand up and say no to a black guy,' he told his millions of listeners. Warming to his theme a few days later, he said: 'You can't criticise the little black man-child.'

Slightly more subtly has come a series of anti-Obama books. The most strident, and most popular, has been The Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, who helped mastermind the Swift Boat campaign that derailed Kerry in 2004. Corsi described Obama as having Islamic links and a Muslim past. He wants him to be seen as a scary 'Other', just like some black leaders have always been portrayed. Even the title of the book has that effect: said quickly 'Obama Nation' rapidly becomes 'abomination'. That is not likely to be an accident. ...
Here on this side of the pond, and few journalists had the never to go on the teevee machine (granted it was on PBS) and talk about this openly (my rush transcript from August, 2008):
Michele Norris appearing on the Charlie Rose Show over the past two nights:
"One thing we've only touched on lightly here is the issue of race, and the polling has shown that many of these voters when they say "he's not patriotic enough", "we just don’t know who he is", "we don’t know what he really stands for", if you dig down a little deeper there are suggestions that some of these issues are proxies for this issue of race."
Connie Schultz of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, also appearing on the Charlie Rose Show over the past two nights:
“It hurts me to say, as the child of working class people, what these people were saying. When I get email from these people, there ain't a lot of nuance.”
Connie Schultz: I think Michele makes a very important point about race ... I've been writing about this because I come from the working class, and I am very troubled by some of the things I'm hearing from the working class. About race. And I said, you gotta go home and have the tough conversations with family members.

Rose: What do they say?

Schultz: (They say) "I will not vote for..."

Rose (because he is congenitally unable to stop interrupting people trying to finish their sentences): " African American?!?"

Schultz: Right. If they say it well. If they say it kindly. I think it's code when they say "Well we really don't know if he's a Muslim" and "we don't know if he's patriotic". That’s all code for race. And for us to pretend that isn't happening is irresponsible for us in the media.
Because an overwhelming majority of today's Professional Pundits have come to a consensus decision to never, ever mention the radioactive clusterfuck that was the Bush Administration ever again (see "Forgettery, Strategic"), as they flail round trying to create an historical context for 11/09/16, they consistently fail to factor in all of the other giant, flaming turds that were sluicing down the River called America (That's right, New York Times, I can Friedman-butcher a metaphor with the best of them) back in aught-eight.  But as your humble, Middle American blogged noted way back then in "The Negrological Constant":

Because 100 years from now, the Tale of Election 2008 will be the story of several million ignorant, white, working-class voters – both Democrats and Independents (the Republicans are a lost cause who will remain an unashamedly morally bankrupt open-sewer for at least another 30 years) and which way they turned.


Right now there is so much pressure on these voters -- so much torque to their sense of identity being wrenched onto by them by the economic and cultural disasters wrought by the liars and sociopaths they keep electing -- that they are almost in tears, moaning and clawing at their skulls, trying to figure out how to simultaneously:
A) Keep from drowning in a rising tide of ruin and failure of their own making, and

B) Stay faithful to the deep, ugly foundation stones of bigotry they dutifully learned at their father’s and grandfather’s knees and which, up until now, they have been spared the pain of facing by the use of pretty, perfumed code.
They are becoming unhinged trying to reconcile this massive, existential dissonance at the core of their lives, except this time applying the Negrological Constant to magically explain away their fundamentally defective model of the Universe will not work.

This time there they cannot escape the choice they have to make. And this time we on the Left will remind them -- loudly, rudely, and from every street corner, blog, and microphone -- exactly what those choices are: to adapt and change and live in a Progressive and tolerant nation, or stay just as they are and die in a Conservative and bigoted one.

And right now it is 6-to-5 and pick ‘em which is stronger: the people, or the American Racism Virus that hag-rides them.
And we know what happened next.

Barack Obama won. and the unbearable, existential dissonance at the core of their lives slowly eased as Democrats hauled the economy back from the brink of the abyss, and President Obama saved the American auto mobile industry and millions of middle-class jobs over the objections of the Sarah Palin Party.

Barack Obama won because the McCain campaign was willing to fight that election within the confines of the first "gate" -- the economy -- and never push past it to the second gate -- "racism".

But while Barack Obama was busy prying their ignorant asses out of their own bear-trap, innovators on the Right were busy making a shit-ton of money and political clout by selling these same people on the idea that for No!Money!Down! they could belly up to a magical Bush Off Machine which would burn off their unsightly "Bush/Cheney 04" tats and replace them with something more fashionably racist and less Taking-Personal-Responsibility-ish.

And just like *that*, the whole Bush Administration simply disappeared in a cloud of teabags and "Blood of Tyrant" chants as mobs of newly-minted "Independents" roared into the streets.  Mobs that were fully funded by Koch Industry front groups and breathlessly covered wall-to-wall by Fox News.  Mobs which we told had somehow just precipitated out of thin air, fully-formed and vitally interested in "Taking their country back!" over a handful of issues about which they had never given a single tiny shit before the black guy took the oath of office.

And the threshold of acceptable public racism was lowered.  And Breitbart News begins to take its place among the first-tier of Wingnut propaganda outlets.

So, because 42 million Americans who had voted in 2008 decided to sit out 2010, the Republican Party was able to vote in a passel of lunatics and frauds who set to work immediately obstructing and sabotaging everything President Obama tried to do.  And they might have taken back the White House from the scary black guy had the GOP not nominated a plutocrat robot who had made his fortune sacking middle-class Americans and had boldly opposed saving the America automobile industry from liquidation because Capitalism!  But like McCain, Mitt R. Money mostly stayed within range of the first "gate".  So while it was much closer this time, Barack Obama retained the presidency.

However, the Republicans had also learned that they could score Good Boy Points with the Pig People by smashing government to pieces and them standing on the rubble and braying about the horrors of government dysfunction!  And so, in 2014, nearly 49 million Americans who had voted in 2012 decide to sit that one out.

More lunatics.  More destroyers.  The profile of Breitbart News continues to rise, and the threshold of acceptable public racism continues to fall until, at last, someone comes along who dared to breeze right through that first "gate" --  economic anxiety -- and kick open the second -- "racism".

Trump Was Bold Enough to Be a Public Racist. It Worked. 
And today he stepped into the Oval Office to meet the outgoing president.

The quick retort to people (like me) who argue that nativist racism played a decisive role in the election generally point to counties that voted for Obama in 2008 (and, occasionally, in 2012, too) but flipped to Trump in 2016. This, they say, is proof that the vague sense of having been "written off" in those places was a more powerful motivator there than race. But I tend to agree with Jamelle Bouie, who wrote that a big part of the reason these places went for Obama was that neither John McCain nor Mitt Romney were racially inflammatory enough. That, in this painful area, they didn't "tell it like it is." Trump did. Via Slate:
There's an easy rejoinder here: How can this be about race when Trump won some Obama voters? There's an equally easy answer: John McCain indulged racial fears, and Mitt Romney played on racial resentment, but they refused to go further. To borrow from George Wallace, they refused to cry "nigger." This is important. By rejecting the politics of explicit racism and white backlash, they moved the political battleground to nominally colorblind concerns. Race was still a part of these clashes—it's unavoidable—but neither liberals nor conservatives would litigate the idea of a pluralistic, multiracial democracy. Looking back, I thought this meant we had a consensus. It appears, instead, that we had a detente. And Trump shattered it.
Those people who felt "forgotten" and "left behind"? Where do they stand on right-to-work laws? Where do they stand on voter suppression laws, which go out of their way to prevent a solid voting bloc of white and black working-class voters? Where do they really stand on trade, with Bernie Sanders or with the Wal-Mart to which they go every weekend?
The deepest irony here is that, by 2016, the changes the Kenyan Usurper put in place despite unified Republican opposition had eased the unbearable economic torque to their sense of identity just enough that they felt they could finally get back to the important business of openly hating the shit out of Liberals and everything they believe we stand for.  

Ergo, Trump:  A giant, primal "Fuuuuck You!" from a mob of economically scalded bigots and imbeciles bellowed at a political party that dared to put a black man in a position of political dominance over them for eight, bitter years, and then dared to try to replace him with a mouthy, know-it-all bitch-in-pants they had already spent 20 years learning to hate with an unquenchable, unhinged fury.


Joseph Nobles said...

So McCain and Romney and most modern Republicans had been standing too far away from the burning cross. Trump showed the Republicans how close they could actually get.

Green Eagle said...

Well, it was nice to hear the story about the U67 and the U87, anyway.

blackdaug said...

*Posted in the greys for no good reason at Jezebel on another post about how we all get to be stupid when we are young. Until the Randites put a facsist in the White House...

It is so fun to fondly look back upon our stupid youth. Such good times.

As it so happens, I am the same age as the current President: 55. As I entered my teenage years, Richard Nixon was setting the standard for corruption and abuse of power. Oddly enough, I observed this and drew some lifelong conclusions: Republicans are an evil cult. They exist solely to stunt the progress of man kind at every turn. Had Ronald Reagan never reached high office - I would would be telepathically writing this comment from my flying fucking car!

This is not hyperbole. I did not vote for Jon Anderson. I did not vote for Ralph Nader. I voted for the Democrat that had the most likely chance of winning the election against whoever the Republicans fielded. Not doing so, would have been like seeing the first Star Wars...and deciding that maybe the Dark Side had some good points!....and that those Jedi were really fucking annoying.

This is not rocket science. For the entirety of my half century life, I have seen the same cycle repeated: The country elects a Republican to the White House..and in some really horrible years, this will coincide with Republican majorities in congress.

They will then proceed to legislatively funnel as much money as they can to the most wealthy by literlly raiding the economy like marauding Visigoths.

The population then tires of this blatant plundering...and then elects a democrat to clean up the mess! This is not hidden knowledge. It is not legend of the can google it for christs sake!

I have seen this exact same scenario play out over the course of 10 Presidential elections! Every election I and my ilk scream like banshees trying to point out the obvious historical truths.....and every 8 years we are ignored!

Is there a forum for people who have been fucking right all along!
View all 97 replies

bowtiejack said...

Apparently all the voter suppression had a much bigger effect ("stolen election") than I realized.

This whole thing is starting to look a lot like 30's-40's Germany. Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Unknown said...

McTurle loves power he could take down the Constitution have Sarah P write out a new one in crayon. This rewrite would would be missing one thing, elections. Then the Failed 4th Estate Lap Dog of Trump "Oh way to go Sara P you did not get poop everywhere, good girl" Not realizing the Chains around their neck and who holds the chain! Needless to say i need some Heavy Fuel!!!

who? said...

I was born and raised in Detroit Michigan. My father worked for the Ford Motor Company. He is now retired. He collects a pension from Ford, draws from his ample 401k and collects a social security check. He is a high school graduate who as a high school student spent his afternoons working for the Ford Motor Company as an apprentice. the apprenticeship was organized through the high school. When he graduated he went straight to work at Ford and bought a house. He had good health care and paid vacations. He took his family on trips around America during the holidays. When I bought my first car he cosigned on the loan. He wanted me to buy a Ford. I did. It was designed in Japan and assembled in Mexico.

I'm fortunate enough to be able to buy a new car right now. I am choosing between a Ford and Toyota. The Toyota was designed in Japan and built in Thailand. The Ford was designed in Australia and built in Thailand.

I wonder if the Ford Motor Company even offers pensions to their hourly workers anymore. My guess is they don't.

People of a certain age can recall when working hard everyday in filthy hot conditions was enough to earn a good living and a good retirement with money left over to send the kids to college.

The working life for most Americans has changed and not for the better. As Reich reminds us, Democrats have controlled the executive branch for 16 of the last 24 years. they had complete control of the congress for 4 of those.

Hillary Clinton promised to at best continue the status quo.

Jimbo said...

For some reason, now that he has been elected we aren't hearing about the alt-right or Bannon or maybe i just missed it. In any event, a big infrastructure bill is now on the table, which was off the whole time Obama was President, of course, because the US couldn't "afford it". But now, unified Republican rule now means DEFICITS DON'T MATTER. So, we're right back to where we were 8 years ago because a majority of eligible voters chose not to vote thus torpedoing their own and the world's future. Well played, useless people. It makes one doubt the efficacy of democracy. The Republicans are still a zombie party intellectually but they are far, far better than the Democrats in playing the partisan sabotage game. Voter suppression, race-baiting, gerrymandering to ensure a majority of GOP state governments and hence the Congress. And now they will have the SCOTUS and that means game over for a generation. Unfortunately, the world and climate change don't have a generation. OTOH, because the stakes are now really desperate, we should expect to see dangerously unstable times. (I actually think Trump may be realizing this especially after that talk with Obama (oh to be a fly on that wall).

I'm beginning to feel the US is now too big a country to be an effective democracy and the oligarchs have truly figured out to totally manipulate the orcs. I feel really bad about saying this but maybe we really should have separate left and right coast countries and let the south, midwest and mountain west figure out how to be a successful country. (Ok, I realize that would lead to a lot of suffering and war by itself so that's not really a solution either.)

Sigh, the USA in 2016 really needs to figure out how it's not just going to be the biggest failed state in history. Good luck with that.

Chan Kobun said...

Your cinderblock is duly noted.

Oolon Colluphid said...

Rural America is the real moocher class dragging the country down. Time to punish them for it by taking their benefits away.

paul said...

"The gates": Damn, that's good writing, Driftglass.

dinthebeast said...

Jimbo: While I wholeheartedly agree with you about the deficit scam coming back into play, don't get too excited about the infrastructure plan just yet. What I'm hearing is so far it's a proposed public-private grift intended to make a bunch of big corporations permanent rentiers off of the proceeds of tolls and the like.

-Doug in Oakland

Unknown said...

But how long can the gift go on? If the wealthy persons and corporations don't pay taxes where is the money to find givt. contracts gonna come from? The working class will not be able to fund this. Print money, I presume. How long will investors fall for this?

Frank said...

Driftglass- I love you. The last paragraph of this essay is a good example of why. I am going to continue to be influenced by you. I was just quoting you on the nature of the Republican party yesterday; Chumps led by con artists.

So it is with a heavy heart that I now say I think I have to give you up. I hate the Republicans and the MSM so much at this point, that I feel like it is doing an injury to me. I need to find a way to deal with this hatred before it consumes me.

I would be interested to see if you have words of advice for someone in my situation.


Dave McCarthy said...

Hmmmm....when I heard of the lower-then-expected black voter turnout, my suspicions were aroused...and I found this:

mission accomplished

Pagan in repose said...

And what of the latent misogyny in this election, I think it’s time we take the old skeleton key and open the door and drag the gimp of the patriarchy out into the light of day.

How many people really thought the old boys club would really allow a woman to be president? There is no bigger boys club than the Pentagon, do you really think they didn’t have some discussions in the back room about this.

What did you think all that talk about women being fat and ugly, and that a rich powerful man can physically and sexual abuse a woman whenever it pleases him, meant.

What happened to all those women who came forward with accusations of abuse, they immediately became the accused instead of the accusers.
If this election has been about bringing the demons out into the public square then let’s bring them all out and stare at them in the light of day, shall we.

You know what’s harder than being a person of color in this country, being a person of color and being a woman.

Also, @ Frank Shannon, I know just how you feel.