Pete, the Slippery Bamboozler

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Pete has a secret power. Remember Donald stalking Hillary on the debate stage? She could smell his breath, and she chose to ignore him. Solid choice. I love to picture Debate Pete in that position – I don’t know the details, but he wouldn’t take any shit, and in such an unassailable way there would be nothing for Donald to grab. His unflappability would both enrage and bamboozle Donald.

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Pete’s like my feral cat, Dr. Norris, sleek and adorable. Last winter I had to pick Dr. Norris up to save their* life. (I’m not even kidding, they would have died.) They initially allowed the contact, but soon tried to slither loose. Because I was wearing thick gloves and an impenetrable Carhartt barn jacket I decided to hang on for their own good. In a flash Dr. Norris began biting my arm and hand over and over until one of those needle-like fangs pierced a vulnerable seam in my glove and into my hand. Dr. Norris disappeared into the woods but my hand blew up like the infected flesh balloon it was. Dr. Norris was correct in their actions (you don’t try to pick up feral cats), efficient, and remarkably calm. I had no recourse. I did set a live trap and took them in to be neutered, but that’s not exactly recourse. That was me, serving them, with a humble acknowledgement of the superiority of their teeth over my hubristic attempt to catch them with my hands.

How are you grateful to Donald? Let us count the ways. What are you looking forward to as the campaign progresses?

*Dr. Norris uses they/them pronouns. Dogs and cats do not possess our human construct of gender. They are not sexless, but they are genderless. Stop apologizing to each other for misgendering each other’s dogs at the dog park. It’s really okay.

photo credits: voanews.com, walmart.com

How to motivate Iowans and what yrmama really wants

After the Liberty and Justice Celebration we stayed on in DesMoines for a couple of days to attend the Pete Summit. It was “leadership training” for core campaign volunteers from across the state and if yrmama is a “core campaign volunteer” … they should look for people who are less cynical than yrmama.

The Battle of #LJ19 Hill
Plus, yrmama would like to be awarded all the style points for her patriotic outfit. The JCrew clearance jeans are spangled with little blue stars, while the TJMaxx clearance red cotton sweater and moisture-wicking gray hooded sweatshirt underneath take the adorable ensemble all the way from cute and festive to dressed-for-the-weather. Photography credit – JM And thanks to Amy for all the green signs to pose with.

I like Pete, but despite my signed Commit to Caucus (a “CTC” to the real insiders) and the t shirts and yard signs I’m still my old deeply skeptical non-joiner self. If it weren’t for this doggone blog (thanks Sharon) I would probably not be doing any of this, but there I was, in a junior high school gym with 175 fellow core campaign volunteers from all over Iowa and a lot of extremely bouncy, youthful campaign staffers. The first morning we were treated to a bonus visit from Pete himself and we even sat next to the nice sixteen year old girl who has become Chasten’s new best friend. I’m not even kidding – when she was sick he called her. JM said, with a healthy mix of jealousy and awe, “She’s going to get invited to the inauguration.”

Despite now being well-trained in interpersonal persuasion tactics meant to be used on the Pete-curious (they actually call you that), what I really want out of this is a little different. I really want people to caucus and vote for whoever they want. I want them to be able to talk about their “values” (wth. Talk about a mushy concept.) and political ideas, which in itself is kind of revolutionary. I want them to feel like their ideas matter and that their vote will ultimately make a difference.*

This training skipped over the fact that Iowans, for the most part, consider talking about politics bad manners. I was explicitly taught to not talk about politics, religion or money except in special circumstances. I think there should have been a session on how to create “safe spaces” where Iowans would feel like talking about their “values.”

I know that the way to motivate Iowans is not to talk them into things, or jump up and down and yell zestfully, or set expectations for them, but to tell them that their work and ideas are valuable and appreciated. I was at a volunteer appreciation dinner the other night for a different organization whose army of volunteers brought in $100,000 of revenue in September, one price tag on a used pair of socks at a time. That’s what they tell us all the time there – your work and ideas are valuable and appreciated.

In the comments – were you taught that there was a set of topics unsuited to common civil discourse? Have you ever been persuaded to take a position?

*Hey! Let’s do a thing where the presidential candidate with the most votes wins!

yrmama attends #LJ19

Democratic presidential candidate, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during the Iowa Democratic Party Liberty & Justice Celebration on November 1, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa.

The Decoder Ring : The LJ is what the cool kids call the Liberty and Justice Celebration, formerly the Iowa Democrat party’s Jefferson Jackson Dinner. It is the state’s last big blow-out for the candidates before the caucus on February 3rd, and it is famously where Barack made a head-turning speech in 2007.

We arrived in downtown Des Moines in the late afternoon on Friday, where each campaign had been partying hard in the 35F rain ALL DAY, yelling and dancing, before entering the Wells Fargo Arena at 4:30 pm. Kamala was led in by the Isiserettes – the same local drum corps and drill team Barack had at the then-JJ in 2007 and in his inauguration parade. You should also be sad you missed an early chance to see Team Pete doing the High Hopes dance. Soon you will all be doing it.

Inside, on the main floor, were round tables for dining Democratic high rollers in their dress-up clothes. The arena seats were divided up into blocks for the various campaigns. For perspective, most of Joe’s seats were empty, Bernie had no allotted seats because they opted for an off-site watch party and Andrew had one section. We were in the Pete region, a very full twelve sections, about 1/4 of the total seats. We were exceptionally loud, too, but well-rivaled in decibels by Elizabeth’s folks in their sea-foam green gear.

This was yrmama’s first chance to see Andrew speak in person, and he was my second favorite-est. I loved his supporter’s glow-stick Y’s and he’s just smart, funny, and iconoclastic. I hope he takes some kind of influential job in government – in the cabinet maybe. He talked about how Iowans have a truly outsized influence in the presidential election that we should wield and wield wisely. He said he’s done the math and one Iowan is worth a thousand Californians, influence-wise, which means that the fourteen thousand Iowans in the arena that night are the equivalent of fourteen million California voters.

Tom Steyer was the only other one I’d not seen in person. He said good things and has a role to play but he probably is not going to be the nominee.

What do you mean you don’t feel like caucussing? I’ll make sure you have a ride there and back AND buy you a pizza. Seriously,

True American 2.0

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yrmama was raised to be cynical – if to be cynical means to by default mistrust other’s motives. And to by default mistrust others in general. It is an offshoot of pathological independence – one can only trust one’s self. To an extent this personality trait is very American – very cowboy. It won the West and all that, but it is also at it’s core purely isolating.

Cynicism is an important part of yrmama’s power but also her greatest weakness. The holy man said, “…and pray for the cynical for they do not trust God’s love…” Pray away friends, pray away my mistrust if you can. And if you succeed yrmama may well dissolve into a gelatinous blob.

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the founding fathers played True American too
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yrmama argues that the man we elected to be president in 2016 is not a cynic. He can’t be cynical without natural curiosity about other people or any moral sense. However, it was cynicism that allowed him to win. At the beginning of his campaign he bellowed, “they’re out to get you and I fight dirty.” Cynicism said, “Yes! I’ve always felt everything is rigged against me and Donald verifies it. I admire his pugnacity so I’ll vote for him.” He has fulfilled his proclamation. Something is out to get us – Greed, graft, grift, (pussy)grabbing, generals, grievance, (oli)garchy, gangrene, greased palms, gracelessness, gerrymandering, gross malfesance, gringo-supremacy, and he does fight dirty.

(Pete says, of Donald’s campaign, “The things he said that aren’t true rhyme with things that are and that tapped into people’s desire to burn the house down.” That’s pretty doggone insightful.)

Something the same shape allowed Barack to serve eight years. He said, “Yes we can!” Cynicism said, “Damn, this is a heavy load, and maybe that deep soothing voice is right! I want to lay my aggrievement down and let this guy make me feel hopeful.” I think those of us who fell hard for that message did feel better for a while. His presidency was far from perfect and the duopoly didn’t dissolve into a more unified democracy with an appreciation of shared American values. But it was a good eight years.

How can a cynic, an empowered true American who wants to believe and be able to throw herself into a cause that may save democracy and fair capitalism from evil, indeed throw herself in? Anyone who votes throws in at least at the last minute, when you feed your ballot into that machine watch it get sucked in. Throwing in now is probably the same thing, just earlier.

Ioweenians: Are you going to caucus? If the caucus was tonight whose corner of the gym would you stand in? Non-Iowans – pretend you are and answer the same questions below, in the comments.

Outlaws

Tom Robbins taught me to love outlaws. If you haven’t read Still Life With Woodpecker you should now. It might be painfully dated, since I last read it in the 80’s, but there’s only one way to find out. Outlaws are very American.

A year or two ago while I was hopped up on post-surgical pain killers I read American Heiress by Jeffrey Toobin, “The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst.” I remember seeing the grainy, iconic bank security-footage photo of her with the giant gun that shocked everybody, including my mother, on tv. Patty’s kidnappers were outlaws and temporarily turned her into one too. The early 1970’s were nuts! Counterculture outlaws were routinely making bombs in their bathrooms and detonating them in places that would either disable or at least disturb The Man. Even though Patty’s experience with the Symbionese Liberation Army was a lot darker than a Tom Robbins novel, some of the 70’s-ish motives were the same.

This morning I figured out Donald’s appeal and the reason for our confusion. He’s just another outlaw! He’s all about sticking it to The Man, no matter who the man is. (That’s where his amorality comes in handy.) Some of his supporters are like Patty joining the Symbionese Liberation Army. She wasn’t exactly happy before they kidnapped her, and definitely not in control of her own life. She didn’t know exactly what the problem was but they told her. They told her over and over and over what reality was (well, with some rape and starvation and LSD) until she was convinced it was in her best interest to be a soldier for their cause.

So we’ve got an outlaw (Donald, in case you aren’t paying attention), who by definition does not operate within normal boundaries, and he’s hell-bent on destroying the way things normally work around here. The confusing thing is that we, the lefties who used to be the counterculture, are now The Man, deserving of all the homemade bombs (ummm, NRA, guns and more guns, domestic terrorism etc.) he can get his soldiers to stockpile and detonate.

I’m at a loss for advice on this so you’ll have to just digest the insight raw.

OH DONALD.

My dear dog Lupine was perfect. He was a perfect dog in every way. He could kill any raccoon no matter how big or how much it tore him up, but he was docile with us and eager to please. He followed me from room to room all day, my silent adoring shadow. We had an old wing back chair bought for 5 dollars at a yard sale thirty years ago. The worn arms were already patched with purple corduroy when we got it. My oldest daughter asked if she could take it with her to her new place because it is so homey – the perfect definition of a perfect family heirloom.

Lupine was not allowed on the furniture but he understood that rule only applied when we we could see him and the seat of that chair was the perfect size for him to curl up in. When he got old and deaf he would think we were all gone when we weren’t, or not hear us when we got back and I we’d find him sound asleep in his chair. I’m telling you this because Lupine was perfect, like Donald’s phone call with Volodymyr. And because Donald’s understanding of the law is as simple minded as Lupine’s. But not perfect. Lupine was entirely pure of heart.

Donald eagerly released the transcript of that phone call with the comedian president of Ukraine that his people had striven to hide away for eternity. Donald said that once we the American People read it we would recognize, “that phone call was perfect.” He kept calling it a perfect phone call.

What is astonishing is that I think he really is so fundamentally amoral that he honestly doesn’t understand. The phone call was perfect in that he accomplished what he wanted without saying any of the words he was not supposed to say. He understands that the law prohibits him from saying certain things, and he didn’t, therefore the transaction was legal and perfect. If he can get what he wants done by circumlocution is all good.

 

Warren/Buttigieg? Warren/Harris? Winfrey/Obama?

Clearly yrmama has stopped going to every show that comes to town – she’s heard all the stump speeches, experienced all the first impressions. She’s amused and pleased to see that all the pronouncements she made based on those first impressions are proving true. She’s waiting for the next stage to really kick in. What is the next stage? I guess we’ll find out.

yrmama has 3 political t-shirts now. The first bears an American flag with the stars replaced by a qr code for a website where you can register to vote. She bought it from the Parkland kids. The second says Elizabeth Warren 2020 and the third is a rainbow Pete logo. Elizabeth and Pete are still running neck in neck for my heart and I am so so so sorry that we let it get to this point, where kids are likely to get shot at school and any crowd that forms anywhere instantly feels like a minefield

Do you remember how Barack made us feel? Way back when? His deep voice oozed with intelligence and compassion and when he was done talking yrmama wanted so badly to invite him and Michelle and the girls over for dinner because we were all going to be best friends. I planned for my son to go to college with Sasha so maybe, just maybe, we could be inlaws too.

Sigh. That’s how he got elected. His slow-jam made me feel safe and loved. But that’s also how Donald got elected. He stood there and bellowed in a way that somehow exhilarated people.

Beto’s punk-rock, “Hell yes,” side has potential. Kamala is starting to seem too smug. IDK.

Pete is incredibly talented and could be the guy. His speaking soothes the savage beast. He makes everything feel manageable if we buckle down and trust the fundamentals of democracy. He’s adorable. Everyone loves him.

And Elizabeth. There is something indescribable about her that is most evident when you see her in person. She’s really pulling something amazing together. Listen this podcast about her rallies – https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/20/podcasts/the-daily/elizabeth-warren-rally.html The thing that really convinces me about her ability to pull this off is imagining her onstage with Donald. Remember how he menacingly followed Hillary around while she talked? Now picture him trying that with Elizabeth. She would swing around and lay him out flat without missing a beat.