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CSotD: So what?

I haven’t done an exact count, but there appear to be approximately a kabillion political cartoons this morning explaining that the technical failures in reporting the results of the Iowa Caucus show that the Democrats are doomed, Trump will win and we can all go home now.

Only Pat Bagley draws my point of view, which is “So what?” and “Who pinned this sign to my butt?”

The second question is easy to answer, though depressing: There is a feeding frenzy that breaks out from time to time and occasionally it’s linked to something substantive but often it’s just one of those things: Someone decides that Bob Dole is really old, or that Al Gore is a liar, or that John Kerry didn’t really win those medals, and then the late night comedians and political cartoonists are off to the races.

BTW, Kerry won those medals, Gore was telling the truth and Bob Dole is 96 and kickin’.

But none of them got to be President, did they?

I continue to believe that the Very Big Failure in Iowa was that, due to a breakdown in a new reporting system, the TV networks were left sitting on camera with nothing to talk about.

Which is kind of funny because most of them had devoted the run-up to the event talking about how Iowa doesn’t represent the nation’s demographics, caucuses are stupid and it’s only 41 delegates anyway.

And yet, instead of running results on a crawl at the bottom of the screen, they were all set for wall-to-wall coverage of the event they had previously dismissed.

Which reminds me of Stan Freberg’s account of the Battle of Yorktown, in which we get this moment of dialogue:

Washington: Do you see me surrendering in a blue blazer with antique military … 
Aide: Watch yourself, sir! (explosion)
Washington: … buttons, not too Ivy, just …
Aide: General Washington, sir!
Washington: Yes, what is it, lieutenant?
Aide: I have an idea how we might not have to surrender after all!
Washington: What do you mean? I’m all dressed for the occasion!

Well, they were all dressed for the occasion and left high and dry and pissed off.

It’s a horrible, unmitigated disaster except that nobody has exactly explained what the disaster was beyond a bunch of spokesmodels left talking to each other about nothing.

I have heard comparisons to the troubled roll-out of sign-ups for the Affordable Care Act, and both were, indeed, software failures, except that the ACA foul-up mattered and this one didn’t, since the Iowans had paper backup.

The ACA foul-up kept some people — if they weren’t persistent — from being able to sign up. That mattered, though it got fixed.

All the Iowa Caucus foul-up did was delay the results for a day or two, and again the question appears:

So what?

 

Rob Rogers explains the deep significance of all this, which is that next week’s primary here in New Hampshire takes on great meaning, except that we’ll know the Iowa results by then, so it really doesn’t change anything.

No worries: We’ll know who to vote for.

For a minute there, I thought we might have to pay attention to the candidate’s policy proposals, but we’ll have the Iowa results and so can blindly leap upon the bandwagon of our choice.

 

Speaking of insignificant delays

There will be all sorts of responses to the State of the Union, but we’ll have to wait for the bulk of them to appear and then, if it still seems important, I’ll look at a few.

In the meantime, Ann Telnaes has turned in another of her piercing live-sketch summaries, which stand above the courtroom-sketch style pieces other artists do because she focuses on the significance rather than recording the images.

Prejudiced? Well, sure. That’s her job.

Courtroom artists have a job only where cameras are not allowed. When an event — the SOTU address or impeachment hearings or whatever — is broadcast, the need to have someone draw pictures of what it looked like becomes minimal.

For my part, I wanted to see how often he called something “great,” which is a tell that he’s drifting off text, while “Believe me” is a sign for his speechwriters to get out the tranquilizer gun.

But he apparently read what they wrote and I don’t suppose it was juiced up more than average, though you can get a complete fact-checking breakdown from the Washington Post or, for a more compact version, the Associated Press.

As with the Iowa Caucus, my expectations started out pretty low, so the question of “So what?” continues to hang in the air.

 

You want something that matters?

Pia Guerra notes that Trump has decided we should go back to strewing landmines around, because how dare the rest of the world set standards for just wars and decent weaponry?

Apparently, abandoning our Kurdish allies was not causing enough collateral damage. Land mines are the gift that keeps on giving.

 

While, as Kal Kallaugher notes, we’ve come to an agreement with Israel about how to divide up Palestinian land.

As with the landmine thing, it flies in the face of what our allies have been trying to bring about, but we don’t need allies.

 

And Dave Granlund points out that Dear Leader considers traumatic brain injuries insignificant and blew off the impact on troops who required treatment after those rocket attacks on the US base in Iraq.

I heard that they had headaches and a couple of other things, but I would say, and I can report, it’s not very serious. Not very serious.

He’s not above dragging out a healthy GI as a prop for his State of the Union speech, mind you.

 

While, as Patrick Chappatte notes, we’re still sorting through the whole coronavirus thing, in which it is beginning to appear that the Beijing government could have been more forthcoming.

 

And here’s the point

Any of these stories would have provided plenty of solid programming while the “Who cares?” results from Iowa were streamed underneath on a crawl.

 

 

Community Comments

#1 Sean Martin
February/5/2020
@ 8:47 am

The thing that — well, I was going to say “amaze”, but at this point, is anyone really amazed by anything in these 365/7/24 campaigns anymore? Anyway — the thing that never ceases to not-quite-amaze me is that the Bernie Bros, the Warrenites, the Biden Boys, and Pete’s Pals… none of them can come up with a reasonable statement why anyone should vote *for* their particular candidate. It’s all about how terrible the Other Guy’s gonna be. Yes, the candidates have put out platforms and Things We’d Really Like to Do, but there’s been no real cost assessments on how they plan to see this done. Up here, you *have* to put out a budget proposal along with your campaign platform so a non-partisan government office can fact-check it. But America just dives into the deep end of the pool without really thinking about how anyone’s gonna afford all these Really Great Ideas… and meanwhile the Bernie Bros et al are screeching how terrible and expensive and useless the Other Guy’s ideas all are.

And then we get the insufferable grandstanding by both parties at every possible moment. Pelosi’s gesture may have been a great idea, but in execution all it did was make that political divide just a whole lot wider. It certainly wont bring the Trumpsters over; in fact, it probably did the opposite. But hey, looked great for the choir on social media.

You people really need to adopt a Canadian style Parliament. Seriously. This whole top-down nonsense just gets you into more and more dysfunction and trouble all the time. Our system aint perfect, but it understands that government comes from the roots up, but the lovely blossom down.

#2 Kip Williams
February/5/2020
@ 9:17 am

“This app we don’t really need is having problems. We must redouble our effort to make this app we don’t really need WORK!”

#3 Brad Walker
February/5/2020
@ 11:31 am

Sean — I’m about a third of the way through the audiobook of “Running Against the Devil,” followup to “Everything Trump Touches Dies” by former Republican strategist Rick Wilson.

I’m not sure what to think of it, but according to him attacking Trump is just what the candidates SHOULD be doing. People don’t vote on policy.

As he’s said more than once already, “You can’t sell boutique issues to a Wal-Mart nation.”

He also feels most Democrats are more centrist than progressive, something Mike has expressed agreement with.

#4 Becky
February/5/2020
@ 11:53 am

I was talking to my investment advisor yesterday, and asked him who I should vote for if I’m only considering my money. He knew I meant which Democrat should I vote for, but I didn’t actually say it. After a second’s pause, he answered, “Trump”. And the oil investment company that runs informercials on my local radio station on weekends is also unabashedly pro-Trump. Which makes me wonder how many Trump voters are really members of the Fox News cult and how many are just wearing blinders and voting their pocket books.

#5 Mike Peterson
February/5/2020
@ 7:39 pm

One of the ploys of the 1 Percent is to convince people that everyone has stock in some meaningful way. The petroleum people had ads a few years ago reminding you that you also own stock in their business because it’s in your 401k or retirement portfolio.

They don’t mention that you have a grain of sand on a beach owned by someone else, that you have no possible chance of influencing anything being done by the corporations whose stock you own.

Meanwhile, the stock market and the economy generally have been rising since the end of the Depression, except when the GOP took it down in 2008. Voting for Trump economically is meaningless unless you are in the 1 percent; otherwise, it’s like voting for the rooster so the sun will come up in the morning.

There may be other things that matter to you more and other candidates who will do their best to address those issues.

#6 Kevin Tolman
February/6/2020
@ 8:43 am

A couple additional points.

One reason the stock market has been doing so well the last couple years is the Trump tax cuts. Instead of companies investing in expanding they have been using the money in stock buy backs.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/22/investing/stock-buybacks-drop-tax-cuts/index.html

Most company executives receive a portion of their compensation in stock, so they are basically paying themselves. Either by selling back their stock or their net worth rising with the stock prices.

The Trump tax cuts has also cause the deficit to raise.

https://www.newsweek.com/us-federal-deficit-skyrockets-trump-tax-cuts-blamed-defense-spending-gap-revenues-treasury-1467936

So we the people as a country are paying the stock buy backs.

As was pointed out only a small percentage of the population own most of the stock.

https://www.marketplace.org/2019/09/30/the-stock-market-is-not-the-economy/

The rest of us if we own stock do so through a 401K. Trump likes to brag about people’s 401K’s going up but there are a couple things to realize about them.
1: Every payday millions, not billions, of dollars has to go into buying stock. That is a constant upwards pressure on the stock prices. Individual stocks may go down but in general there is always buying pressure.

2: Individuals don’t have a lot of control over their investments. You are not going to pick up the phone and say sell my stock right now. You’ll always be behind the curve.

3: The companies offering the 401K services are charging management fees. They make enough in management fees that they pay your company to use their services. So if your company says the are changing 401K providers to one that has better offerings, it is not better offers for you but better offers to the company.

Remember those points the next time they start talking about privatizing social security. It is not so you’ll have more control over your money or have more money at retirement. They want to get their hands on the management fees and have all that money flowing into the stock market where it benefits them more that you.

#7 Becky
February/6/2020
@ 3:01 pm

Thanks, Mike and Kevin.

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