It’s totally irrelevant and means nothing at all that the sexual harassment settlement separation agreement at or near the center of the Herman Cain scandal liberal leftwing media attack was dated “9/99,”or that the sum it provided to the alleged harassee was $45,000, not only a numerological “9,” but a reiteration of Mr. 9-9-9′s “lucky number” 45, to which he devotes a chapter -- 9, of course -- of his recently published autobiography, the same autobio that he’s been hawking while political observers have been suggesting he ought to have been creating a campaign organization in crucial primary states.

Using a pseudo-campaign as a book tour at the center of a “business plan” candidacy was not the peak of Cain’s hubris.  It’s just the setting.  The Icarus peak of his fame-flight was the notorious cigarette-smoking man video.  I assume you’ve seen it…

…but here it is anyway, for the great archives:

Now is the time for action!

Numerous observers confessed or claimed to be mystified by the point of the above, though most have agreed that it vaulted Mark Block, Cain’s campaign chief and the cigarette-smoking man himself, to “iconic” status.  My own interpretation is that the video directly expresses the truth of the Cain campaign:  It’s an ugly joke for people who are convinced the whole political system is an ugly joke and yet who at the same time are stirred by residual and compensatory, paradoxical hyper-patriotism. The music starts out with a synthetic crap from a can intro, suitable for the soundtrack of a late ’80s action thriller or porno film, then turns into an anthem with the refrain “I am America,” as sung by a female vocalist.  In context, the lack of irony in the song is itself ironic, but inverted again into ironic self-affirmation by Cain’s drawn-out grin.

Since the above may already read as complicated and confusing, as inevitably in any analysis of the ideology of conservative anti-government governance, I’ll simplify:  America, for Cain, is the remote love object for un-handsome emasculate middle-aged self-abusers, but “the Cain train” is a route to repair -- pure joy for the sake of joy, totally apart from anything as psychically trivial as policy positions or anything else that merely makes sense to any overdeveloped neo-cortex.

It’s not clear that Cain ever expected anyone to notice the ad, but it worked as more “no publicity is bad publicity publicity” for him anyway… and then the Politico story, the first of many getting worse, appeared.  Some profess to believe that the scandal liberal leftwing media hit hasn’t hurt Cain yet, but my own guess is that those polls are lagging, and in the meantime they express what they’ve always expressed: Around 25-30% of the Republican electorate is happy to communicate via pollsters how much they hate you (and Mitt, too, but mostly you).

That you find them pathetic and disgusting is fine.  It’s kind of the point.  Anyway, it’s all irrelephant, just as it has been all along, since Cain was never going to be anyone’s nominee.  Even the cigarette-smoking men never really believed that he was.  They just believed that it was worth going through the motions of believing it.  Because they hate you, and are happy for you to be reminded. And I’m guessing they would mostly hate this:

The Internet - Cocaine

…even though as a narrative the video ends up boomeranging back and supporting their cultural assumptions and prejudices, its mere possibility confuses and depresses them (some more).  Not because they’re racists or sexists or anti-gay or whatever -- though they probably are, just like you and me and everyone else -- but just because it’s not for them at all.  It’s not even remotely interested in them. They are irrelevant to it, and it might be the future after all -- not Cain and his co-star and their loyal confused and depressed certain and enthusiastic supporters.

As for me, I can take it either way -- am somehow confused and depressed by the Internet/Cocaine video, but also kind of enjoy it, at least once through… even if it, even if the whole story I’m trying to put together here, also makes me feel old and irrelephant, just like I felt listening to a young OWSer named “Ketchup” on the Colbert show the other night describe herself as a “female-bodied person.”

Maybe it’s only a tiny minority who are living irrelevantly into that science fiction future -- in which people named after condiments and other banalities fax themselves or might as well, uninterdistinguishably from one corporeal instance to another -- but it’s still an essential part of our Internet-Cocaine moment. Most of the English-speaking world already had a word for “female-bodied person,” begins with a “w,” and will go on, also udderly irrelephant, even to itself, with or without cocaine, co-Cain, or whatever else.

I think I’m okay with it, but I suspect that fact ought to worry me.

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Writing since ancient times, blogging, e-commercing, and site installing-designing-maintaining since 2001; WordPress theme and plugin configuring and developing since 2004 or so; a lifelong freelancer, not associated nor to be associated with any company, publication, party, university, church, or other institution.

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  1. Well we really at the Python sketch, ‘nudge, nudge, say no more’ as apparently Bennett, the leader in his field, couldn’t cadge
    more than 45K out of the NRA, as he suggests Cain wasn’t even a party to the deal, but sealed court records and non disclosure agreements, are an inconvenience that the right parties always find a way to finesse, that’s how a certain candidate got into the Senate, Yes I remember the other fellow he had an extensive platform, something about ‘Hope and Change’ based on a speech and two books, and a former pyrotechnically minded bored utilities scion, what ever became of them.

  2. the English language represents all the cultural thingees that keep people repressed and feeling like they’re all together but really it’s all sorta kinda …too much and not so true.

    Tomato Sauce Elioit (or was Baby Ruth Nelson?)

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Noted & Quoted

TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

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Understanding Trump’s charisma offers important clues to understanding the problems that the Democrats need to address. Most important, the Democratic candidate must convey a sense that he or she will fulfil the promise of 2008: not piecemeal reform but a genuine, full-scale change in America’s way of thinking. It’s also crucial to recognise that, like Britain, America is at a turning point and must go in one direction or another. Finally, the candidate must speak to Americans’ sense of self-respect linked to social justice and inclusion. While Weber’s analysis of charisma arose from the German situation, it has special relevance to the United States of America, the first mass democracy, whose Constitution invented the institution of the presidency as a recognition of the indispensable role that unique individuals play in history.

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[E]ven Fox didn’t tout Bartiromo’s big scoops on Trump’s legislative agenda, because 10 months into the Trump presidency, nobody is so foolish as to believe that him saying, “We’re doing a big infrastructure bill,” means that the Trump administration is, in fact, doing a big infrastructure bill. The president just mouths off at turns ignorantly and dishonestly, and nobody pays much attention to it unless he says something unusually inflammatory.On some level, it’s a little bit funny. On another level, Puerto Rico is still languishing in the dark without power (and in many cases without safe drinking water) with no end in sight. Trump is less popular at this point in his administration than any previous president despite a generally benign economic climate, and shows no sign of changing course. Perhaps it will all work out for the best, and someday we’ll look back and chuckle about the time when we had a president who didn’t know anything about anything that was happening and could never be counted on to make coherent, factual statements on any subject. But traditionally, we haven’t elected presidents like that — for what have always seemed like pretty good reasons — and the risks of compounding disaster are still very much out there.

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