View From the Cheap Seats – Who am I and how did I get here?

I have been a lurker on this site for quite some time. I have known Chris for over 20 years from a past life in software sales. I approached Chris about doing some opinion pieces for this blog, and he told me to go for it. I called this “View From the Cheap Seats” because I am not going to be as intellectual or as well researched as others who have posted here. I am just a slightly upper-middle-class married white guy with two grown children who has been left by the GOP and no longer recognizes his world.

While I did not vote for Trump, most of my friends and acquaintances did. I could not vote for Hillary Clinton and was glad that she did not win at the time. As I watched the protests after the 2016 Election, I was surprised that so many people were having a visceral reaction to Trump being elected. I thought, let’s at least let him form a cabinet, thinking that he would grow into the job, and we will see how he governs. I mean surely, the responsibility of being the POTUS would force him to reign in his basic instincts. I could not have been more wrong.

Fast forward to shortly after the inauguration. We see Trump claiming to have the most massive inaugural crowd in history. Meantime the Park Police and other outlets put out the numbers and, they were not even close to Barack Obama’s numbers. This is the famous “Alternative Facts” incident, and it began to dawn on me that this could be trouble. Call me naive, and many do, but I try to take what people tell me as the truth until they prove otherwise. Alternative facts, however, are not acceptable.

I am going to admit something here that I probably shouldn’t. I would depend on my news from what I saw on TV and reading the WSJ and USA Today when I traveled for business. The “Alternative Facts” incident was a wake-up call. I decided to subscribe to two online newspapers, the New York Times and The Washing Post. I did this because I wanted to be able to read different articles and discern for myself what is most likely the truth. I also started reading this blog because I knew the author of many articles and trusted he was a knowledgable and truthful person. When I compared this to what I saw on Fox News, listening to friends and acquaintances talk about the news, I was horrified by the difference in what I thought was probably true vs. the conspiracy and deep state cabal crap that was coming from God knows where. Is it too reactionary to be absolutely horrified that some of my fellow Americans believe there is a deep state?

Fast forward to today. Our Government has completely botched our response to the Novel Corona Virus pandemic. As of this writing, almost 140,000 Americans have died from this disease. A personal friend of mine who recovered from Covid-19 is living with 30% lung capacity in one of his lungs. Texas has completely botched its response, and now the virus is running rampant in densely populated counties. Our President either ignored or refused to hear intelligence of a Russian bounty on our troops in Afganistan. There are just too many horrors to list here.

So, moving forward, as more horrors present themselves, I will be sharing my views if they are deemed appropriate for public consumption. I will share what I am listening to and what I am seeing on the ground here in Houston, Texas. Just describing the view from the cheap seats.

What I am listening to This Week:

What I am Reading:

Leadership: In Turbulent Times Book by Doris Kearns Goodwin

25 Comments

  1. For all those still clinging to the fantasy that any handover of government won’t be at the point of a gun, from today’s interview with Fox’ Chris Wallace:

    “I think mail-in voting is going to rig the election.”
    “Will you accept the results of the election?”
    “I have to see.”

    Yeah, this will end well.

  2. I am a more than a little wary of the Lincoln Project. I find it hard to believe that Trump would allow keep the Kellyanne Conway as a senior advisor while her husband is actively working to sabotage his re-election.

    I do not believe in the enemy of my enemy is my friend. If there were any other Republican running for POTUS they would be more than happy to be running these ads against the Democratic candidate. I also fully expect them to turn their guns on a Biden administration if there is one.

    1. No one ever said they’re our friends, nor have they have ever claimed they are.

      Regardless, they’ve been phenomenal in getting under Mango Mussoulini’s skin and making him waste precious days and weeks on meaningless pokes at his ego while Biden remains unscathed. That’s good enough for me.

      And maybe they do turn their guns back on the Democrats at some point. Who cares? If we could ally ourselves with f’ing Stalin to take out Hitler, we can stomach linking arms with former Republicans to crush Trump. This is not a tough call.

    2. A couple things:

      @ Turtles Run: Yes, it seems incredibly weird that the tyrant would have a close confidant that has a husband that is a sworn enemy. But that certainly seems the case. I would take the situation at face value. Otherwise, you are assuming the tyrant is capable of 5D chess. He may be a savant at controlling 35-40% of the population as cult members, but he is an idiot at everything else. I hate the monster with every fiber of my being, but any rational person must recognize he is in the 0.001% of the population that has the ability to get elected to the office of president. Why he allows that thing to be in the WH, I have no real idea, but it is NOT to use he husband as some kind of tool.

      @ Ryan: You mention the words “guns”. I am sure you mean in the literal sense, as is happening in Portland. I read a post somewhere this week (think it was Bill Kristol, one of the people behind the Lincoln Project), talking about how the new Gestapo in Portland will be deployed to any and all swing states 2 weeks before the election, and how they will target Antifa, who suddenly are working with Biden.

      But you keep on believing how the the LAST presidential term will not be settled at the end of a gun…..

    3. I can see your point, but I’m of the same mindset as Ryan. The top priority is to vote out Trump and as many of his enablers as we can. The Lincoln Project gets under Boss Tweet’s thin skin, and that is useful. I’ll accept their assistance, but I won’t turn my back on them.

      The people who have declared support for Biden because they wish to be rid of Trump range across the political spectrum from the cut throat conservatives of the Lincoln Project to members of the Bernie Sanders progressive wing. That’s not an alliance built to last. Hopefully it holds together just long enough. Biden isn’t going to be able to please everyone here, and I think he’s smart enough to realize that.

  3. Brad Parscale’s demoted / removed from the leadership of the 2020 re-election campaign:

    https://outline.com/HKvaby

    This is good. Parscale is one of the few administrators in this chaos that actually knows anything and is capable. I can’t claim this means the campaign won’t rebound or do better or whatever, but Parscale is the only capable person I’m aware of connected to this idiot.

    “He brought in DeWit because Trump was so sick of hearing how much money Parscale was making,” said one Republican familiar with the arrangement.

    Trump demoted Parscale Wednesday night, elevating Bill Stepien formally to the role of campaign manager. Trump’s anger over profits Parscale had been making off the campaign had been building for months, Republicans said, but the final straw came after Trump read a Washington Post story that Parscale had been running the campaign poolside from Florida.

    Trump’s anger at Parscale has been building since last year after he learned his campaign manager was living a lavish lifestyle built off riches he’d made working for the president. Trump has made offhand references to Parscale as the “$10 million man” — something viewed as at once derisive but also accepting of Parscale.

    “There are two things you cannot do with Trump: take credit for his accomplishments and steal from him,” said a friend of the president.”

    Two things:

    1) I do not like Parscale as a person and believe that he’s a consciously evil person who purposefully acts in unethical and immoral ways for self-enrichment and power, but good for him. If anybody knew how to take the Trump family money the right way, sitting by a pool sipping diaquiries while flooding the Internet with trolling and digital ads (same thing, different budget) is the right way to do it. I do not like Parscale as a person, but I can respect him.

    2) This article returns me back to my bafflement of 2016, when people were first starting to try to get close to 45, about why anyone could possibly think they could get anything good from collaborating with him ever. The entire history of the man is everyone else gets blamed, everyone else loses whatever skin they had in the game, everyone else is shouldered with the costs, and the few individuals who manage to grab a few gold coins and a little bit of the spotlight in the process are quickly kicked out. There is no winning, no help, no platform, and no advantage you gain from cozying up to the Trumps. Parscale is probably the only single person of his administration that could feasibly retire off the profits. If he doesn’t retire it’s because he’ll be on the next grift.

  4. Hey Steve.

    I’ve been a liberal since I was about 13 (’93) and figured out that the Republican party only cares about tax breaks for the richest people in the solar system, and restricting individual freedoms of people who aren’t straight white men (I’m a straight white man by the way).

    I stumbled on here (GOPLifer) sometime in 2015 as the Republican Primaries were kicking off, and even won a contest on GOPLifer in picking when the Trump Campaign would end. I won by picking the day after the election, since I knew in July of 2015 that Trump would obviously be the Republican candidate. Trump is concentrated Republicanism. His only “problem” is that he doesn’t do or say any of it behind closed doors.

    The fact that us liberals have been sounding the alarm for going on 30 years now that the Republican Party was going off the rails hopefully makes more sense, 20/20 hindsight and all of that. Between Limbaugh, Gingrich and Fox News, the Republican party and the Republican Base especially, have been almost completely radicalized. And the centrist enablers like David Brooks were there to try to pacify sane Republicans and those of us on the left who saw it coming

    The Mainstream Media is also to blame. It isn’t liberal – it’s for profit. So, they’ve been playing the BothSidesDoIt™ game for 25 years, because they want to sell advertisements too.

    A few questions, if you’re interested in answering them:

    1. What was your opinion on Bush II before, during and after this tenure in office?

    2. How about Obama?

    3. Assuming you’re going to be voting for whomever happens to have a (D) after their name in the Presidential election, which of the Democratic Primary candidates that ran last/this year did you like the best/actually want to vote for?

    Thanks for your time.

  5. “ As I watched the protests after the 2016 Election, I was surprised that so many people were having a visceral reaction to Trump being elected. I thought, let’s at least let him form a cabinet, thinking that he would grow into the job…”

    To be honest, I was surprised that anyone would really believe that Trump could grow into the job, given his decades long history of lying, cheating, stealing, bigotry, and extremely bad business decisions, and never being held appropriately accountable. His ignorance of the issues was absolutely appalling (a major pet peeve for me, as I am a scientist by trade). Leopards do not change their spots. But I learned the “what you see is exactly what you’re going to get” lesson of politics back when I voted for Bill Clinton in ‘92, despite my reservations about his philandering nature. Anger over Iran-Contra also played a role in that choice. I was never a fan of Hillary Clinton, but every fault I saw in her, I could see in Trump at least 10-fold. But I’m glad you heeded the early warning signs that Trump wasn’t going to straighten up and fly right.

  6. The point is folks, this is going to get so much worse.

    BBC is making massive cuts to its news division, Foxifying British news sources more.
    NPR and VOA have been are continuing to be destroyed by the tryant and his regime.
    NY Times, among others, are pulling journalists out of Hong Kong for obvious reasons.
    3 days ago the “Law and Justice” party won another 3 years of control of Poland, and they are continuing the destruction of their judiciary and independent media.

    I can go on; Hungary, Brazil, Philippines, India, etc.

    The fascists have understood for a long long time the power of a well-read electorate, and how easily they can be manipulated when stable, trusted media sources are replaced by echo chambers.

    It has been stated by oh so many, for quite some time now. The tyrant is not a one-off, but the symptom of a horrible disease. That disease is getting worse, and no one seems to have an idea how to reverse it.

    Ironies of ironies, it will take a dictator, or rather a series if dictators working in concert, to try to save democracy. First thing that has to go is social media. It must be wiped out entirely. The Internet, frankly, has to be massively curtailed, and used only for science and business. Sites like this will be collateral damage, but all must be removed.

    Fox “News”, and all sources of disinformation like it, as well as all that support such disinformation sources, must also be wiped out. Time must be turned back so news sources were vetted and professional aka newspapers and a small amount of TV networks, that are centrist.

    And yes, I believe in unicorns too. None of what IS needed will happen. Frankly, the Internet has been a net negative for humanity. But no one will actually say that.

  7. I’d like to suggest Rising with Krystal and Saagar on thehill.com as a political commentary site. This show has an ostensible liberal/conservative co-host format, but the principals actually agree quite a bit. They both tend toward populism, neither has much time for libertarianism or identity politics. (That would describe me pretty well.) It’s not just about scoring points on the other side, it’s more about getting insights.

  8. We’re all pretty much in the same boat, Paul, so welcome to our group of orphans. The only point on which we seem to differ is that I did cast my vote for Hillary Clinton, my first ever for a Democrat. It was painful to do it, but I thought I saw the trouble ahead with a Trump presidency. I vastly underestimated how bad it would be. Don’t worry about making comments that are “fit for public consumption.” Nothing President Bonespurs says or does is fit for public consumption, so why should our commentary differ?

  9. Good article Paul. I years ago spread out my sources of news too. I use to watch Fox but eventually realize what rubbish they were.

    The WSJ and The Economist are good conservative tilted news sources. The National Review is mixed but they do have some good talented honest writers on staff. But also loony tune ones too. Conservative tilted.

    I also read the NYT and Washington Post good papers but liberal tilting. I read the USA Today and The Atlantic both fairly split between conservative and progressive authors. One of my favor authors is David Frum a well know conservative.

    I read and support my hometown paper The Orlando Sentinel which has been conservative since I was a kid. The town has moved deep blue but the paper is still more conservative tilted. I have been following this blog for years.

    Like most people I am too complicated to fit one political idealogy. Mostly fiscal conservative with a progressive and libertarian bent on social issues. I was register Republican for years but during Obama’s first term I got angry at Republican obstruction to fix the economy. The Democrats wanted to use the same sort of measures they supported with Republicans during Bush’s recession in his first term.

    The final straw was when it was obvious Trump was going to win the nomination in 2016. In my state to vote in a primary you have to be register to a party. So I changed out to Democrat and supported Hillary in the primary. My kids tell me if Bernie had won he would of beat Trump. I think they were right now but not then.

    I was puzzled why Black voters saved Joe’s campaign when it happen.But now I can see why. Smart people Black voters. Joe is an old white dude with no huge skeleton in his closet. Competent and he stood by Obama as president. Trump uses misogyny , white grievance , fear and bigotry in his campaign. That will not stick to Joe. And Joe is well know by the country so it will be about impossible for Trump to redefine Joe.

    Joe is old and may not be able to run for a second term. But if he chooses a black or hispanic woman for VP that person could be our first woman president. That is going to generate excitement in the Democrat base. While old Joe will calm voters not that progressive but dislike Trump .

    This cov-19 thing has show anybody with sense a government you can drown in a bathtub is not a good thing. At times you need a good organized central government big enough to handle issue like this virus. That message was really about reducing the police presences so bandits like Trump could steal, de-fraud and scam without fear of being caught and prosecuted. If the GOP survives it needs radical reformation. Most young people I know are disgusted with it. They are a growing block of voters while old white dudes like me are a shrinking base of voters as we check out.

    1. I also suspect Bernie would have beaten Trump. Mrs. Clinton was tailor made as an opponent for Trump in 2016.

      Either one would have been almost completely blocked by Republicans (we’d have seven SC justices right now, and zero Federal dollars for Covid19 relief) but Bernie would have made them pay in ways Mrs Clinton wouldn’t have been able to.

  10. Refreshing commentary on a blog that I have gotten too busy to regularly check but as the election draws nigh, will again be haunting. Thank you and your host(s) for this blog entry.

    I too did not like Clinton though I voted for her. I thought I knew how bad Trump would be. He turned out much worse than even the predictions of this life-long diehard Democrat. Our country is in dire straits due to Trump.

    Joe Biden was not in my top five choices for president in 2020. But I will vote for him, and not holding my news but eagerly rushing to the polls.

    Keep it real. Most of us sit in the cheap seats and appreciate your view from beside us.

  11. Hi Paul. Nice post. Coming from Scotland, I’ve been consuming U.K. media (BBC, Guardian, The Economist) as well as glancing at CNN for headlines, etc.

    I was wary of news outlets that managed to keep people hooked for hours on end, day-after-day – in particular the Fox News model.

    I’ve limited my self to 30 mins per day of news, and used to be a bit of a news hound just with that consumption level.

    However many of my family and friends have been transformed in the last couple of years. The latest news is now of high importance to them and the Fox News consumption model has been appropriated but for CNN and MSNBC – I’m getting bombarded by “did you hear what happened today”, and “can you believe what Trump did/tweeted/said about XYZ”, etc.

    I’m hoping that it will all go away next year with a Biden presidency, because frankly I’m bored with the whole tragicomedy playing out across the country.

    Hope to hear more from the cheap seats Paul.

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