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January 2007 Archives

January 1, 2007

Natural and unnatural disaster

In the black neighborhoods of New Orleans "the liberty-loving outlaw spirit of Jean Lafitte lives!" -- or so sez my friend The Baron, former chairman of united real estate agents of America, and self-described "slumlords' ghoul turned tenants' avenging angel."

He sent along these links:



... on the landlord economics behind the ongoing ploy to "cleanse" the Big Easy -- in this instance, by demolishing around 20k units in "the old projects" for wish sandwich replacements.

His comments and clipouts:

Third law of avarice: there's always more money in removal. Thus the Counterpunch piece:

"Lafitte could be repaired for $20 million, even completely overhauled for $85 million, while the estimate for demolition and rebuilding many fewer units will cost over $100 million."
There are three other projects targeted besides Lafitte, so multiply these numbers times four to arrive at a rough sense of the full sweep of this planned privateering venture. And notice this lovely "socio-political" by-product, from the Times piece:
"The way they were constructed, it's not law-enforcement friendly," said Lt. Bruce Adams... "All those entrances and exits. The fact that it's so condensed is causing the problem... with all the vacancies... you didn't know what was up the stairwell."
Behold the fingers of a royal rip in progress, Jaybo!

P.S. -- I must say, even for the Baron, this e-mail ended on a curiously tangential note: after a not surprising hyperbolic turn toward self-glorification -- "If it comes to a showdown, Jaybo, rest assured I'll be down there. I'll go back and fight, right along side my brothers and sisters" -- one wonders why he adds this: "Mark my words, if the cops attack in force I'll be the last Georgist standing! Death to all ground rent! Baratarian liberty for one and for all!"

Channeling the ole buccaneer himself?

More Ford dribble

Speaking of the Ford legacy, read the passage below -- its by Miracle Max's nerdlinger "answer man" sidekick, Barkey Bark:



...appointing John Paul Stevens to the Supreme Court.... Stevens has been the unequivocal leader of the liberal wing of the Court.... I simply hope that he hangs on until at least Bush is out of the White House.... I thank the late President Ford for having appointed him.

Please! The "liberal wing" of a star chamber?

This is the basis of much lesser-evilism, isn't it? i call it "the five Earls fantasy" -- Earl as in Earl Warren, the former kommandante of Kalifornia during the Japanese concentration kamp era, who by appointment morphed into the master of all deliberate speed.

Yes give us five Earls on the court, by all means and in perpetuity. Hell, after 35 more years of that, by now we'd all be higher then park pigeons, and prolly fucking George Jetson's daughter in the ear, too, just for kicks, arnd carving up that damn son of his for lunch meat -- or vice versa. "Free to be me" courtesy of the eternal Warren court.

Of course, the Fed's worse even than the Supreme Court, and Ford gave Greenspan his start in public life -- remember Whip Inflation Now?

Rule of boomer professional-class yuppery: we need a highest court that can at will thwart the booboisie idiocy of our white yokel majority. When the hicks and grease spots try to block my life-style's self-realization -- bango jango, "sorry, that's unconstitutional, you lowly porch pigs."

There are lobbies and there are lobbies

Putting my posts where my mouth is -- let's ease off on the Lobby, by hitting a few other nasty brutes. Here's a candidate -- it's a whole cabal of interlinked lobbies, each one in great need of a serious ass-kicking: the Aggies, from cotton to corn, and back by way of sugar and rice. There's a nice article about these miscreants in the Washpost:


Point one in the indictment oughta be aimed at the hearts and minds of the goo-goo boo-hoos, and it's this: the subsidy system in agriculture has hideous global impact -- yes, serious millions in increased misery, through ruination of the earth's real family farmers: the hand to mouth guys who actually produce with their own hands what they eat, and sell what little they don't for what little cash value it has. The upshot of subsidized Yankee crops is a dump on the planet's southern markets, so the cash value of the local "family" crops plunge. And as if that ain't enough, we double down on 'em by blocking their own attempt to export to us any crops that would plunge our own market prices.

Now since this perpetual glut floods on and on, and it has Uncle's label on it, naturally we must look to the new House majority party for solutions -- right?

*Cue ghoulish laughter SFX*

Key Dem rep needing a death squeeze here: C. Peterson of Minnesota.

Ford defeats Kerry
(according to Gitlin)

The late Mr. Ford's embargo'ed critique of the Iraq war -- the non-story du jour -- gets an inevitable kick from Todd Gitlin, who comments on absolutely everything:


The gist: Ford's self-gag was a ghastly national betrayal. That's certainly easy enough said, coming from a sanctimonious word beaver like the Git, who couldn't gag himself for ten seconds, even if his silence might save the planet.

Ford, the last American president to have exited an abominable war, might have known something about the merits of another one....
But instead of barking out like a righteous Gitlin type, Ford mummed it in public, and recollect here, folks, the future of the country and its collective inner soul was at stake.
Had Ford [back in '04] not slapped an embargo on his words and permitted independent voters to hear them then, they might well have swung the election.
Yup, Ford could have elected John Kerry on the strength of his... what? Prestige? Experience? No, wrong again, Watson, what would have carried the day, according to the Git, was Ford's "conservative bona fides."

Hell, no one had less Kickapoo Joy Juice in him than the live Jerry Ford in 2004. Only death -- the distinguished thing -- could restore any dignity to that dough-faced friend of Babbits everywhere. Rove would have turned his anti-war gabble into chipmunk soup. Try to imagine this scene:

...and therefore I, Gerald Ford, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, am forced by conscience and love of country to support John Forbes Kerry to be our next peace president of America....
Short of putting a .38 round into Dick Cheney from the next hole at Pebble Beach, what's that poor old stumblebum's critique worth? Less than little Ronnie on stem cells.

January 2, 2007

Ad triumphum excolendum

Mike Flugennock passes this item along:


Pelosi Aims To Recast Self, Party New House Speaker Plans a 4-Day Fete
By Lyndsey Layton
Washington Post Staff Writer

On a scale associated with presidential inaugurations, Nancy Pelosi is planning four days of celebration surrounding her Jan. 4 swearing-in as the first female speaker of the House. She will return to the blue-collar Baltimore neighborhood where she grew up, attend Mass at the women's college where she studied political science, and dine at the Italian Embassy as Tony Bennett sings "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."

Mike comments:
What really bugs me about all this is that a former member of the Grateful Dead -- drummer Mickey Hart -- at Pelosi's self-aggrandizement...uh, that is swearing-in party. You'd think someone of Mickey's history and background wouldn't be swigging Kool-Aid -- that is, Kool-Aid with something besides LSD in it. (;^>

Looks as if The Nancy is going to be doing what Mexicans cynically describe as "taking a bath in the People"...putting in appearances in her old 'hood, her old school.

Oh, and btw, as the DW and I were coming back into town from visiting my sister's place down in Virginia, heading west on Penn Ave back towards our house on Capitol Hill (come visit our scenic Green Zone), the Metrobus-stop shelters had entire sides filled with The Nancy's beaming portrait and the bold banner headline (paraphrasing a bit) "Congratulations, Speaker Pelosi, etc. etc." Jayzus Keerist, the "New face of the Democratic Party". Oh, God, please kill me now.

Don't stop thinking about yesterday

Mike Flugennock writes:
Mogadishu, we hardly knew ye.

Sure is nice to see good old Somalia back in the news again.

A little blast from our past circa September 1993,


...part of my compilation of the "Clinton Legacy" In Wheat Paste:


...which I thought might be a nice quick guide for "Stop Me" readers as Somalia begins simmering again, and the Liberal interventionists are calling for "action" in Darfur, and Hillary's taking a crack at the Democratic -- or "Outer Party", as I like to call them now -- nomination...

(ripply-wiggly recollection-sequence transition effex here)

In September of 1993, still glowing from its success in Waco, Texas, the Clinton Regime is hip-deep in the "humanitarian intervention" in Somalia. This Army PAO hack's comment is in response to a question regarding the machine-gunning of groups of protesting Somalis from US helicopters:

"There are no sidelines or spectator seats. The people on the ground are considered combatants."

--U.S. Army Maj. David Stockwell,
Chief Spokesman, U.N. Military Mission in Somalia
(Wash Post Sunday 09.12.93)

Btw, has Ridley Scott been signed to direct the sequel? (Working title: "Carry Me Back To Old Somalia"?)

Profiles in cowardice

Anybody still expecting the new Dem majority to do anything useful on health care? Read and weep:


Dems take middle ground on drug plan
By Erica Werner, Associated Press Writer | December 11, 2006

WASHINGTON --House Democrats will take the middle ground on the Medicare drug benefit, pushing for government-negotiated prices but stopping short of creating a federal plan to compete with private insurers, a lawmaker said Monday.

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., said a government-run plan would save money but is too ambitious for immediate action.

"That might draw a veto and then get us accused -- which I don't mind, but most of my colleagues do -- of price-setting and all that. ... There's a hesitancy to seem too radical," said Stark, a liberal in line to chair the House Ways and Means Committee's health subcommittee.

This is the same Stark who last year introduced a band-aid universal-coverage plan, HR 5886, to take the wind out of Conyer's genuine single-payer plan, HR 676. The Stark bill introduced an expanded Medicare for the uncovered, but mandated that employers provide coverage for all their employees -- a job-security measure for the insurance companies, of course.

January 3, 2007

Octavian America

Are we under an elected emperor already -- or can a unitary Prez be "countered" by congress and court?

As to a court counter, I can't imagine a unitary prez, with a supine congress, halting just because a court sez "you are acting in an unconstitutional manner." So it's up to Congress then.

If we are to follow C Wright Mills' lead, we can call that contest already; in a constitutional crisis , a congress so easily deadlocked couldn't pick up its own feet.

What's that? The Nixon showdown, a counterexample? I think not. Dick never pushed it to the limit. In fact he twice passed on a chance to push the limits: first, in the stolen elections of 1960, by not challenging the poll results for southwest Texas and Chicago; and second, of course, for stepping down from the presidency, instead of pulling a last stand.

January 4, 2007

Occupy the occupiers

Like any real patriot, clear on our mission, and raised on our gallant heritage of direct action, I'm a great fan of the Occupation Project:


Many incumbents, including my own Congressperson, talk for peace – even join the “Out of Iraq” Congressional Caucus – but vote for war. They must now be told in no uncertain terms the jig is up. We will no longer tolerate platitudes for peace and votes for blood. This is where we draw the line. They either vote to end the occupation of Iraq or they will be occupied.
A terrific idea, and I have nothing to add except this: since lawless resolutes indeed often show up in limited numbers, then besides targeting a few high profile jackasses like mother Clinton and Tumbleweed Harry Reid, it might make sense to aim at the real finks -- the lovey-dovey prog dems who work both sides of the street.

Elderly and timorous as I am, I'll be ready to hit my local champion, Rep. Henny Frank.

An apple rather far from the tree

Most of the time, I take the view that mini-Me, aka Fort Zion, reminds me of ourselves shrunk to wallet size, and cast into an honest-to-God literal 19th-century style frontier setting.

But just now it flashed through me that we palefaces and our feisty foster dwarf have one very grave difference: whereas we turn our white face toward the rest of the planet, assuming that among all those billions, there was, and probably will be again, a certain, well, spontaneous liking for us. A liking perhaps betrayed or lost, temporarily, through our own clumsiness. but still and all, deep down we want to be liked, and we figure we deserve to be liked, and if we're not liked, we need to know the reason why.

Mini-Me is coming, as they say, from a very different place. The Zionicals feel -- not without some justification -- that they were, and are, and evermore shall be, surrounded by hostiles.

Question to toss around the kitchen table: which national prejudice is more dangerous to global humanity (putting size and throw-weight aside, of course)?

Hard to tell, eh? Hard as a Koufax fastball.

January 5, 2007

"The Year of the Democratic Woman"

Yesterday this bit of burble from The Nation landed in my email inbox:
The Year of the Democratic Woman

History will be made on Thursday morning with the US Capitol serving as a backdrop as Nancy Pelosi is sworn in as the first woman Speaker of the House. Pelosi was unanimously elected Speaker last November to serve in this position that is third-in-line to the Presidency.

But what is being touted as "The Year of the Democratic Woman" extends far beyond this important victory.

The piece is by Katrina van den Heuvel, and she goes on to note Barbara "Paiens ont tort" Boxer's committee chairmanship, among other triumphs:
Minnesota elected Amy Klobuchar as its first-ever female Senator.... Anti-war candidate Carol Shea-Porter is the first woman ever elected by New Hampshire.... In all, eleven Democratic women will serve in the Senate and fifty in the House.... Sen. Dianne Feinstein ... will now chair the Rules and Administration Committee.... Sen. Patty Murray (WA) will become the fourth-ranking Democrat in the Senate as ... conference secretary.

In the House, no woman has chaired a committee since 1997 and, thankfully, that pitiful streak now comes to an end. Representatives Louise Slaughter, Nydia Velazquez and Stephanie Tubbs Jones - all members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) - will respectively chair the Rules Committee, Small Business Committee, and Ethics Committee.... The CPC - the largest caucus in Congress - is chaired by Representatives Lynn Woolsey and Barbara Lee... and it includes other strong and tested progressives like Jan Schakowsky, Sheila Jackson-Lee, and Maxine Waters. In fact, 22 of the 64 CPC members in the last Congress were women and that number is expected to rise in the new Congress.

I'll leave it to readers more familiar with some of these stalwarts to comment on their "progressive" credentials. What interests me in Katrina's rose-colored scorecard is the implication that more women in Congress, and particularly as committee chairs, is a Good Thing for reasons that go beyond the obvious goodness of getting closer to gender equality generally. Names like Margaret Thatcher, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, Golda Meir, and Hillary Clinton come to mind. Naturally one is glad to see women invading the traditional male professions of mass murder and systematic immiseration -- hey, fair's fair -- but those who are on the receiving end will have to rejoice for reasons of pure altruism rather than benefit to themselves.

Katrina concludes, a little cagily:

If the 110th Congress is to fulfill its mandate for change it will do so in no small measure through the new and much overdue leadership of Democratic Women. Now let's just hope that the history-making Speaker reflects the Nancy Pelosi who often scored 100 on progressive scorecards, not the equivocating Nancy Pelosi who failed to gain the endorsement of her hometown newspaper.
The "if" is a very big "if," and one wonders whether it has crossed Katrina's mind that the two Nancys are in fact one Nancy?

Postscript: the email that brought this bit of seasonal cheer also included a "sponsored message" -- what would once have been called an "ad":

Darfur's Women & Girls Need Our Help

In Darfur, Sudan, women and girls as young as eight years old are being raped and sexually assaulted on a daily basis as part of a calculated strategy of genocide.

We cannot let these atrocities continue.

Click here now to sign the Save Darfur Coalition's petition urging President Bush and UN Secretary-General Annan to take immediate steps to stop the genocide.

Nice product placement. War for Women! There's a slogan for you.

I wouldn't object to the Nation taking ads from the Darfur war-drummers if they took ads indiscriminately, but of course they don't. I'm sure they're quite selective. So the Darfur crusade gets a pwoggie blessing and a bit more mindshare among The Nation's elderly readership, and The Nation's echoing coffers get a little transfusion from the Israel Lobby reptile fund.

Diehard liberals, and the progs who love them

From an earlier post here:
... these [conservative] ideologues are quite prepared to see their party lose if they think it would be better for their cause in the long run. When was the last time you encountered a "progressive" Democrat who could do as much? Imagine the Tartarean howls of execration that would greet, say, a Kosnik who advanced a similar argument.
So where is the mirror image of this conservative wisdom on the left? Where are the progs able to put long-run principle over short-fuse power -- or rather, not power, but "access"? why are most American progressives, like their liberal counterparts, so ready to take crumbs in hand today over loaves tomorrow?

Unlike the conservatives, who have a vision -- that dwarf state drowing in Norquist's tub -- are these progs by implication saying "we angle for crumbs cause that's all there is to get out of this system"?

Loaves and fishes for the little guys are just a mirage, a cruel hoax that the mainline Dem hacks morph into a perpetually unfullfilled hope, so they can get elected. For progs, the Dem party is the party of perpetual solace -- the party ready to represent America's gaggle of balled-up and cast-aside minorities, the party of the placebo effect and the occasional stitch in time.

Yes, the Dem party mission is simple: "fashion the best possible, most credible little-guy hope-inducing mirage."

Or is this too melodramatic a view of the proceedings? Not all core Dems are hacks; there are liberals too, and I suspect that like all top salesman and preachers, many of 'em get seduced by their own bunkum, get carried along by it too, carried along toward the next bad awakening, the next state of denial.

But there is a difference here between liberals, glib or globy, and base-following progs. As my old pal Max S suggests, progressives -- real progressives, at least, unlike liberals -- understand we have a struggle betwixt economic classes underway here, at all times and in all places, and this class struggle has a cruel 24/7 cutting-edge social reality. Your class either advances or retreats; there is no stasis, no time to consolidate turf won in prior struggles. And if your class happens to be the job class, then the market system spontaneously attacks your gains all over the place. For profit-seekers of all ages, its like the Cole Porter lyric: "night and day you are the onnnnnnne..." It's touted with deft sublimity as "creative destruction" -- i.e. the corporate gain max system has a hard-wired internal program: profit share max and wage share min. So you gotta fight like hell, or fall back and back and back -- which, by the way, we all know; the consensus of pundits agree that job holders have been doing worse, class-wise at least, for over 30 years now.

So the jobsters are but the milch cows of private profit, and our government and our loyal opposition public repute party constitute, even at full throttle, but a very mildly recalcitrant pair of instruments in the hands of these board room trolls (just ask Ralph Nader). And the liberals are simply out there trying to do good, trying to help the little stiff with a lily-white hand, either for virtue's own sake, or to save the system from the excesses of the corporate torture barons.

It can't be stated often enough: liberals, even the best of 'em, are by conviction prepared -- albeit with large salty tears running down their cheeks -- to watch the small ones swallow shit. If liberals a la Gore lose, whether by hook or crook, to the barons, then they say with a wince "Sorry, next time, when we're in charge, we promise it will be prosperity in every garage."

But real progs see a different social scape. They know that the state, our state, cannot change hands from one class to another -- in fact it can only get passed around among the class brethren like the one eye got passed among the three hags in the tale of Perseus. Knowing this, real progs they can think on the longer term and await the ripeness of time. Real progs know damn well it takes a movement, a fierce, not-to-be-deterred movement, able to at least threaten a far bigger crisis, that forces the class splits up to the surface, where the many can see clearly and distinctly the sifted few who got the rest of us into this hellfire.

(And if that's so -- if, as some of us progs believe, the system only responds to deep class crisis -- then explain the CIO in the late 30's and the black liberation movement in the early 60's. In the former case, the crisis had passed, and in the latter, the country was experiencing unparalleled prosperity. The theory may need a little more work.)

In any case, progressive America needs to get up from its chair, turn its back on the spavined donkery, and plunge into the moving stream out there beyond the cubicle. Social and class conflicts are past simple intensity and stress now -- a desperate fury is rising, and if we progressives do not mobilize and self-organize now, the huge surge of the people in motion may come upon us unprepared, and without even a tarry, pass us by -- leaving an opportunity missed and the prospect of an even more terrible reckoning.

January 6, 2007

Rational ignorance

Just read an old pamphlet by the late, great Mancur Olson... well, late anyway. It was on the second sexiest thing about Sweden: its massive transfer system. Not a bad read, but that's another post: this one is the accidental product of that read, and my stumbling over an old poli-sci neo-Benthamite chestnut: rational ignorance among the masses of a modern democracy. Needless to say, I thought of Orthrian America.

The notion is one of those simple devils with wide application: rational ignorance is the sour crop if there's nothing much to gain or lose come any one election day. The kool part is how, over time, this "no big whoop" rationality ends up with a nation devoured by its kleptos.

In Olson's world, we the people, out of a very sensible calculation of benefit and cost leave the state to a battalion of highly interested pac-mans, to gobble away our collective bounty. In spite of our common mass interest in the best of all possible Americas, our Orthrian setup insures just the opposite -- by providing a joust, an entertainment, a bundle of hoaky-doaky come-ons and get-afters for the party fans of both sides, and nothing worth wasting time over for all the rest of us quiet and targetless desperados.

Hunter speaks

Last night, Hunter's bow-legged mentoring got particularly tacky and pompous, even given the very odd and ill-suited Claghornian affectations he now thinks are playfully relevant:

"Now I'm a geister, meister Jaybo, it's all so much creamier, so much riper so much juice-ier..."

Yes, when he floats my way the air is now too often plump with a rotten self-satisfaction.

"I was right all along, Jayjay -- the Vegas reich will all end in a ball of flame. So now, knowing this, it's hard to be riled, to be gonzo, to be persuasively frantic. It would require... counterfeit passions. Than which theah is nothin' moah detestable, suh."

You get the idea. Amid this orotund bubble blowing, as I recall, about 3 AM, I said something in passing about "fucking the new US House Dem Majority and' the ass it rode in on," . and got this Panama planter's hat eloquence as a riposte:

"Give up on the House Majority? Why Paine, surely you jest? Never! Never! That's the express train to the Fuehrer principle you're flirtin' with theah. No no, there is no option to bug out, no option to wash the hands, to abandon the nexus...."

(Imagine flourishes here, big hammy florishes like Toscanini, as if he's inflating a bright pink bubble puff by puff to head size and beyond....)

"If salvation, if liberation is our providence, then it will spring to life right there, on the floor of the House, right there. Yes it will seem miraculous for a better future to birth itself there, where day after day, week after week, year after year, the nation's general will gets schtupped in the ass pipe by demotic gainseekers and all the the rest of the serpentine agents of narrow interest...."

Blah blah blah, the fugue state had commenced. He was contradicting his own prophecy of the fireball. And yet he was unstoppable, leaping from peak to peak like a broadly antlered elk, a great extinct Irish elk in fact. As usual, he went whereever he pleased.

"Unitary presidency be damned ... the House is our government. All the rest is squalid implementation, nothing but sadism, gunplay and theft.... Yes, my fat friend, despite its membership, faith in the blessed destiny of the House must continue to inform the hearts of all honest patriots...."

Every so often he had pauses, of course -- pregnant ones, for emphasis -- like the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. During one such, I took advantage of the lull and muttered, "Jesus, Hunter this type of shit oughta be delivered with a toga and from atop the balls of your feet!"

He was unfazed, undaunted, unashamed.

"Okay, so the Democratic caucus is in the hands of belly-crawlin' Wall Street ghouls, private lucre junkies, rabid fan dancers for foreign wars and pillage. But so what? So what if it festers like a Civil War wound? You abovegrounders need to lash up something anyway. Keep hope alive. Hold till relieved. If nothing else, create a hideous example of the terrorific capacities of the potestas popularis when keenly focused...."

I had to protest the Latin. "'Potestas popularis,' Hunter,for God's sake? Are you hanging out with A. E. Housman up there, or down there, or wherever you are?" He brushed me off like a horsefly.

"Call for a prog caucus bolt, a brutal, crashing, Dem-majority-ending splitkovich. Hell, if 40 stand up and even just talk the short walk out talk for a minute... Then when it fails to materialize, when the pusillanimous little deeer ticks cling to their seats, ruin the sleep of every last one of them, by vowing to politically destroy as many of 'em as possible, one at a time starting with..."

He interrupted himself. "I'm talking a symbolic atrocity, of course -- but very graphic and against some second-tier proggy asswipe. A ruthless 24/7 spiritual boiling in oil. 21st century voodoo shit. Turn the bastard's every immediate context into a howling confrontaion with a mob of raging online citizen avengers unwilling -- nay, I say, unable to curb their atrocious blood lust, so vivid, so nerve cutting, so deep plowing, the bugger starts hearing hallucinations from the gallery, hearing voices not there, baying for his vitals.... til the treacherous thimblefull of shit and fraud flees for his sanity, racing out of the chamber on all fours, screaming Enough enough enough!"

Then, as if he'd switched channels on his own internal cable system, we were in a quieter place ....

"By the way, Paine, did you know I've been thinking a lot lately about Citizen Marat?"

And on that enigmatic note, he vanished in a puff of brimstony smoke.

Frank, no beans

Some things captivate me -- make me lose mind-motion, lock me in like a yellow stripe down a highway can lock in a chicken. Case in point: Bob Kuttner on Barney Frank, and the future of America's main class divide. Deep-fried goo flop (Op-Ed division) don't get mixed, whipped up, and high-temp roilingly cookulated much better than this.
Let's be frank
by Robert Kuttner

CONGRESSMAN BARNEY FRANK, incoming chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services, has proposed something big and bold -- a grand bargain with labor and business to create a society more equal, more dynamic, and less bureaucratic.

For a few weeks I never got past that final stunner, "less bureaucratic." I kept trying, and got stymied right there each time. I gave up. Finally I just let my inner libertarian simmer.
Democrats control Congress by narrow margins, which limits their power to two areas. They can block things Republicans and business elites want -- and hold those goals hostage for things Democrats and liberals want. And they can use the hearing process to shed light on the real America. Frank plans to do both.

Business... wants more trade... more foreign investment deals... and relief from excessively bureaucratic audit and reporting requirements.... But... at least half the Democrats in the House -- including Frank -- are skeptical. So what would business have to give in return to get Democrats to support trade agreements and regulatory relief?

First, Frank wants to renegotiate the grand bargain first brokered by FDR.... Business has to learn to live with trade unions again.... Specifically, Frank wants business to support a reform to allow a union to win recognition once a majority of workers signed union cards.

Can an inter-class bargain get any grander than that, my fellow Americans?
Second, Frank wants to tie trade deals to enforceable labor and environmental standards.
While you're at it, Henny, cut the dollar to shit.
"And third, he wants big business to support universal health insurance."
Heard the phrase "pushing against an open door"? We are losing altitude here very fast, and here's the pratfall:
They [big biz] need to stop demonizing the public sector.
Bobby the K goes on to lay out the how-to, Frank style:
An ongoing seminar on the widening inequality in America- and the need for a new generation of strategies to broaden American prosperity.... other hearings will address financial regulation.
Yes, "hearings" and "seminars" -- because, sez the Kut, sometimes these are "Congress's most potent weapons to reframe public debate." We've slid all the way from a new "grand bargain" to "reframing the public debate." The chimes of history's belfry ring out:
  • The Pecora hearings
  • The Truman Committee
  • The Fulbright hearings
Future historians may add the Frank hearings of 2007-08 to this influential list.
"Influential"? My God, where's the FDR parallel gone to now?

I'll end with Frank in his own words:

I want to make opposition to the current regime [of economic policies] respectable.
Respectable? Talk about the mouse that roared. Surely it's obvious to the meanest intellect that real opposition can never be respectable, and respectable opposition can't be... real?

January 10, 2007

Bait and switch

Does anybody remember, a couple of months ago, we were being told how important it was to the future of humankind for the Democrats to re-take control of Congress? Well, they did re-take it -- and the current Punch-and-Judy show on the Hill is leading up to conclusion that whoops, we spoke too soon, we need the White House too.

In fact, without the White House we are nothing. The unitary prez, like a Stuart king, can thwart the majority will of the people. A united Democratic nation, saddled with a divided gubmint, can be flummoxed at the whim of the executive.

Deduction: the Iraq occ will only end if "we" -- the party of the people -- get the White House. So: 1) Expect nothing for the next two years of Democratic congressional superiority, and 2) be a good soldier and vote the Lesser Evil for prez in '08.

It's the next last best hope of humanity -- or do I mean inanity?

Defeat through victory -- or vice-versa?

Here's where the Kosnik theory that "victory is everything" leads:

Both the House and Senate Dem caucuses right now preserve an artificial unity, for the sake of the party's institutional predominance. But the only way the "peace now" Democrats can ever make themselves heard is to bolt -- or at least, credibly threaten to bolt, and undermine that predominance.

All this blather on their part, about sticking together for the sake of the common domestic agenda, is pure pittle-pattle the great issue, the make-or-break issue, is the occupation of Iraq. The Peace Dems just flat-out don't mean it unless they're willing to say: "No, I will not caucus with killers and warmongers."

Every man has his price

I'm feeling magnanimous today, so here's a deal:

Dump Lieberman for his lunatic war hawkery -- go ahead, give the senate back to the Repubs, just for the satisfying sake of flushing that little turd -- and I'll support your prez candidate in '08 (as long as it's not Ma Clinton).

I may have my price, but I also have my pride.

January 12, 2007

Learning from Junior (all the wrong lessons)

Typical conundrum of empire : how do you remake Sadr city into Gaza Strip East, using a Shia regime as your face mask?

Obviously the Bush speech the other night publicizes the admin's deepening commitment to destroying the Mahdi Army in Baghdad, following the example of the infamous French "dirty method cleansing" of Algiers in '57.

This will require, of course, Shia collaborators, and lots of 'em. Now rivals of the Mahdi Army abound -- but will they perpetrate this degree of communal treachery?

Turning Badr against Sadr sounds too clever by half -- no, by a whole; i.e., it sounds completely foolish and asinine. This is indeed the limit of desperation, to act quite like the Mini-me "leaders" in Israel -- not just fantasizing about destroying Hamas with the help of Fatah, but relying on it; not just hoping the Hezzi-wezzis can be neutered with the help of Amal, but planning for it.

A sick and fortunately, in the long run, a hopeless mission.

Baucus horribilis

Father Smiff has bad takeoff conditions down at Stop Me's main airstrip, so I'm throwing this in, though the Senate is not my beat:

Beware the Baucus one-man caucus. Our father has warned us before, but here's a nice piece on the Montana banana peel, by Wash Poster Steve Pearlstein:


Baucus is surely entitled to his opinions, and entitled to do what is necessary to assure his own political survival, he is not entitled to be chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which handles such key Democratic issues as health care, trade and tax policy. That position ought to be reserved for a statesman with enough political confidence and backbone that he isn't constantly sacrificing the interests of his party and his country to the narrow interests of his subsidy-addicted constituents.
Case in point: watch the hocus Baucus as he tries to backload the new min wage bill with humane corporate pig blubber -- all the better to buffer the poor payroll meet-ers of America from the class envy onslaught of a legal higher gauge for the nation's 5 million-plus totally skill-less bottom-feeding job geefs.

Occupy the occupiers, bis

More on Operation Occupation from honcho Jeff Leys :
"The premise is simple. Representatives and Senators: publicly pledge to vote against the $100 billion supplemental war spending package which President Bush will submit in early February or we will occupy your offices...This will not be a singular action on a single day. We will return again and again and again until you pledge to vote against funds for the Iraq war....
Leys here demonstrates a keen awareness of the terms of confrontation -- the various budget sections and functional areas like procurement, operations and maintenence.

We need to bone up on the funding battle's various components and the history of these struggles.

The Kos/Mydd-type "soulful peaceniks" will no doubt try to hide the naked truth from themselves with a wardrobe of lies -- starting with stuff like Biden's judo chop last week: maybe non-funding is... illegal! And lord knows, we wouldn't want to break the law.


There are lobbies, and then there are lobbies

Here's a Big pharma Wash Post factoid:


Drug companies spent more on lobbying than any other industry between 1998 and 2005 -- $900 million, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. They donated a total of $89.9 million in the same period to federal candidates and party committees, nearly three-quarters of it to Republicans.
Notice the 10 to 1 ratio -- I wonder if that holds economy-wide: ten times as much hucking the incumbent as choosing 'em. Are there implications in these numbers about how the black box works?

I think so. I think the real money gets laid out apres-election, on the well-tested premise that whichever party the winner plays for, "they all got nose rings, pard." Watch as the lobby effort tilts back toward Dembo Junction.

BTW, seems the big pharma boys already killed one popular ice-cream offering. From the same Washpost article:

Before taking control of the House last week, Democratic leaders briefly considered proposing a new government-run prescription drug program as a way to reduce seniors' drug costs....

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her allies chose a far less ambitious plan -- to require the government to negotiate for lower Medicare drug prices -- ....... They stepped back largely out of concern that the pharmaceutical industry would stall a complex change, denying them a quick victory.

The Pharma boys didn't even have to throw a punch. Now that's clout. People talk about the Israel lobby -- but hey, Zionics, eat yer heart out.

January 13, 2007

Belated Christmas for the generals

Not telling most of you anything by noticing this but....
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates yesterday proposed adding 92,000 troops to the Army and Marine Corps, initiating the biggest increase in U.S. ground forces since the 1960s to shore up a military that top officers warn is on the verge of breaking from prolonged fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This I think is the backstage deal behind Bush's phoney surge: "go along with this tits-on-a-bull 20k new buffalo roam, Gen'rul, sir, and you'll get those new brigades you've been wanting so bad."

Cheney actually knocked serveral balls into their assigned pockets here, but none with so steep a long-run price tag as this: more than $10 billion annually. Multiplying back in the standard Pentagon "prospective discount", I make that prolly 30 billion per year, when all is said and done.

But hey, Dick needed to help the brass hats

underscore the Pentagon's conviction that today's wars and anti-terrorism operations will endure for many years. "We call those 'long war' forces," a senior military official said.
My frugal heart wonders, does this spell the end for the late unlamented Rummy's Robo-boots vision? That would be bad news for the high-living high-tech arms sector. Or are these new brigades a pure add-on -- belt and suspenders?

"Our" turn at the trough

Comment seems superfluous:


Israel braced for action

In recent weeks Israel's leaders have been bombarded with increasingly doom-laden scenarios about Iran's progress towards producing a nuclear bomb, a threat that might push them towards unilateral military action....

"... Instead of... preparing for a military strike on Iran's nuclear infrastructure, the world continues to talk nonsense...." Oded Tira, the army's former head of artillery, wrote recently.

He said President George W. Bush lacked the political power to attack Iran and suggested Israel should concentrate on lobbying his opponents in the Democratic party. "We must clandestinely co-operate with Saudi Arabia so that it also persuades the US to strike Iran," he added.

He's baaaack

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the paper, St Ignatius of the Washpost indulges in a little hagiography of his own:
An Opening for the Democrats
By David Ignatius

Rep. Rahm Emanuel, the architect of the Democratic victory in November's congressional elections, watched President Bush's Iraq speech Wednesday night like the coach of an opposing debate team: "Tired," he said. "Too wooden." "Doesn't fill the screen."

Nobody understands the new Washington power dynamic better than Emanuel, who helped create it....

With House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Emanuel plans to use Bush's Iraq speech to pose what amounts to a vote of "no confidence" in Bush's leadership -- framing the new strategy as a congressional motion and voting it up or down.... Rather than try to restrict funds for the troops... Emanuel instead favors a proposal to set strict standards for readiness -- which would make it hard to finance the troop surge in Iraq without beefing up the military as a whole. The idea is to position the Democrats as friends of the military....

A key trend [last November] was what [Emanuel] calls "suburban populism."

Ask about universal health care, and he shakes his head....

Don't look to Emanuel's Democrats for solutions on Iraq. It's Bush's war, and as it splinters the structure of GOP power, the Democrats are waiting to pick up the pieces.

Love that phrase "suburban populism". And to give Ignatius his due, the observation "Don't look to the Democrats for soloutions on Iraq" is what we've been saying here since the site went up.

Shadow play

Is there anybody in the world, outside of the hothouse world of congressional staffers, who understands what this battle of the frogs and mice is all about -- if anything? http://www.boston.com/business/globe/articles/2007/01/13/house_defies_bush_oks_drug_plan/
House defies Bush, OK's drug plan

The US House of Representatives, in repudiation of President George W. Bush's Medicare prescription drug plan, yesterday passed a bill requiring the government to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.

....Several government officials.... said enabling Medicare -- through the secretary of health and human services -- to negotiate with drug companies would not drastically cut drug prices.

The bill "would have a negligible effect on federal spending because we anticipate that the secretary would be unable to negotiate prices across the broad range of covered Part D drugs that are more favorable than those obtained by the prescription drug plans," wrote the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan research arm of Congress....

Senator Max Baucus , Democrat of Montana who helped negotiate the 2003 law, said he supports giving Medicare the ability to negotiate with drug makers.

Soon as the morning shades prevail, the Times takes up the wondrous tale:


Bush Threatens Veto of Medicare Drug Bill, but a Senator Is Seeking a Middle Ground

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 — President Bush threatened on Thursday to veto legislation that would require the government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to obtain lower drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries.

But chances for passage of some version of the legislation increased when a pivotal figure, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said Congress should repeal a provision of the 2003 Medicare law that prohibits such negotiations. The chairman, Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, said he did not favor price controls, but did believe that Medicare should be able to negotiate prices in “discrete areas where seniors need our help the most.”

Here's the WaPo -- nothing like three-part counterpoint, so playable, so transparent:
Drug Bill Demonstrates Lobby's Pull
Democrats Feared Industry Would Stall Bigger Changes

Before taking control of the House last week, Democratic leaders briefly considered proposing a new government-run prescription drug program as a way to reduce seniors' drug costs, according to Democratic aides and lawmakers involved in the deliberations.

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her allies chose a far less ambitious plan -- to require the government to negotiate for lower Medicare drug prices.... They stepped back largely out of concern that the pharmaceutical industry would stall a complex change, denying them a quick victory on a top consumer-oriented priority....

To strengthen their position, drug firms and their trade groups have been transforming their Washington operations by hiring top Democratic lobbyists to gain access to new committee chairmen, bolstering Democratic political donations....

Even longtime industry nemeses like Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-Calif.), chairman of a House health panel, are impressed. "They're pretty potent," he said this week. "They're not bush-leaguers when it comes to spending money and lobbying."

Democrats... now that they have a chance to rewrite the law... are pressing for what party leaders concede is only a minor alteration. "This is a first step," said Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Well, after a little triangulation, maybe it's not so hard to understand after all.

The ovary dialogues

Since I don't have ovaries myself, maybe this is too easy for me to say. But I have to admit that the recent dustup between Barbara Boxer and Condoleeza Rice on the subject of childbearing, or non-childbearing, made me laugh like a hyena.
Rice says single women can understand ramifications of war

Condoleezza Rice let out a heavy sigh when asked Saturday whether as a single woman with no children she had difficulty appreciating the ramifications of war....

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., told Rice during a testy Senate hearing on Thursday that without an immediate family Rice will pay no personal price for the Bush administration policy in Iraq....

Boxer's comment came during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in which Rice was questioned about President Bush's new war plans.

"Who pays the price?" Boxer asked Rice. "I'm not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old and my grandchild is too young. You're not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with immediate family.

"So who pays the price? The American military and their families."

Military feminism! This is a new, original thing -- and of course, it's coming out of California, as most new, original things have done, in my lifetime.

January 14, 2007

Dianne Feinstein, friend of the intellectual-property rentier

I realize this is my own personal hobbyhorse -- but still, you know, it really tells the tale of whose side they're on.

The RIAA (the lobbying group for the recording industry) has Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Joseph Biden (D-DE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) carrying their water again in the new Congress. They're sponsoring the "Platform Equality and Remedies for Rights Holders in Music Act" (PERFORM), which was introduced (and died in committee) last year, and re-introduced last week.

The bill requires Internet "broadcasters", as they are drolly called, to "use reasonably available and economically reasonable technology to prevent music theft," and it makes the Federal government responsible for determining the royalties paid to music companies for the use of music libraries over the Internet. It also requires all Internet, satellite, and cable "broadcasters" to implement "digital rights management", or in other words, pay attention to the infamous "broadcast flag," or something like it, presumably in every file they transfer. What exactly this means in practice is unclear -- the language is very vague and obscure. But the record rentiers have always wanted to make every Internet business -- or site, for that matter -- into a draftee intellectual-property enforcer, and that appears to be the thrust of this bill as well.

This is wild, overreaching, midsummer madness on the part of the copyright owners. It's hard to convey just how crazy it is. It's very much like Will Rogers' old joke about defeating U-boats by boiling the ocean -- then they'd have to surface, you see. Or King Canute telling the tide not to come in -- and this time Canute has a nice bipartisan consensus behind him, with Hollywood Dianne Feinstein sternly wagging her finger at the oncoming surf.

Quite apart from the craziness, there's a very stark confrontation here between property and people. It makes me think of the 18th-century enclosures of common land -- another historical moment when property owners, feeling their oats and giddy with the possibilities of plunder, undertook to fatten their purse by depriving ordinary people of rights they had long enjoyed.

And note, of course, that the Democrats are right there in the forefront -- not on the people's side, either. Surprise, surprise.

January 15, 2007

Neither a borrower nor a lender be

Here's the Concord Coalition, whipping its lathered steed though every village and town of once-thrifty America, crying "The red ink is coming! The red ink is coming!"


The Concord Coalition is a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to informing the public about the need for generationally responsible fiscal policy.

Former U.S. Senators Warren B. Rudman (R-NH) and Bob Kerrey (D-NE) serve as Co-Chairs of The Concord Coalition. Former Secretary of Commerce Peter G. Peterson serves as President.

Oh yeah, and bottled and bonded Bobby Rubin as... the Beaver.

Mission possible: in a mad fiscal panic and ignorant brute fury, cripple the FDR-LBJ social transfer system, like King Kong does that Manhattan IRT train in the 1932 flick.

Specimen -- I use the word advisedly:

It is often said that our political system only responds to a crisis. If that turns out to be true, our children and grandchildren are in big trouble.
Slippery-slope signposts on way to Too-Lateville:
  • 2024 -- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and net interest consume all revenues; the deficit hits 10 percent of GDP.
  • 2025 -- Net interest exceeds Medicare; debt held by the public exceeds 100 percent of GDP.
  • 2035 -- Net interest exceeds Medicare and Medicaid; debt held by the public equals 200 percent of GDP.
  • 2037 -- The deficit reaches 20.5 percent of GDP, exceeding the size of today's entire federal budget.
  • 2039 -- Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid consume all revenues.
  • 2041 -- Debt held by the public equals 300 percent of GDP.
  • 2045 -- Debt held by the public equals 400 percent of GDP.
  • 2046 -- Interest costs, at 21.6 percent of GDP, exceed the size of today's entire federal budget.
  • 2047 -- Debt held by the public equals 500 percent of GDP.
  • 2049 -- GAO model blows up because the economy is in ruins.
It's not even King Kong -- it's more like "Debt! The Blob that ate the Northern Hemisphere!"

Why is it, when I read soft-shoe ballyhoo hokum like this, I see top-hatted Peter Boyle in Young Frankenstein, stumbling cane in hand and yowling in agony, "Puttin' on the Riiiiitz!"

January 16, 2007

Schumer humor

I don't know why I found this observation from Chuck Schumer so funny:

“We [Democrats] are not a bunch of libertines who want to see the superego of society disappear.”

I guess that pretty much kiboshes Hugh Hefner's Presidential ambitions.

Give 'em hell Harry, indeed

Critics say the Democrats’ reluctance to seize the Iraq war’s purse strings stems from political timidity.

Jim Manley, a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D–Nevada), told TNS that while the Senator would scrutinize the upcoming funding requests, Reid "intends to make sure that the troops get everything they need."

For now, Manley said that Reid, who initially supported the war, is promoting a conciliatory approach: a non-binding resolution criticizing Bush’s troop increase, aimed at winning Republican backing to show bipartisan opposition. That resolution, Reid's office says, is still being finalized and has not been publicly released.

But retired Lieutenant Colonel Piers Wood, who heads the think tank Military Insights, said de-escalating the war would not necessarily put the troops at further risk. By enacting surgical budget cuts, he said, Congress "could constrain offensive operations" but maintain funds to cover troops’ basic needs.

He nonetheless predicted, "Congress, of course, being cowards, are going to hold off on cutting funds in any obvious or dramatic way…

This is all on the mark, of course, except for the bit about "timidity" and fears for re-election. The fact is that the Democratic Party, at the institutional level, has been behind this war from the beginning, and is still behind it. They're not afraid; they're committed.

January 17, 2007

Itching powder

I've gotta hand it to Max Sawicki -- he's got all the Democratic Party blogologues in a lather with his recent post on TPM Cafe:
Matt Stoller is well-situated to talk about the intersection of contemporary internet-based protest and the Democratic Party. He does not seem very current on the boots-on-the-ground left that is responsible for the huge anti-war demonstrations we have seen since 2002, as well as for local organizing against Wal-Mart and for the "living wage." About the 60s left, he is all wet....

The "Internet Left" is a mostly brainless vacuum cleaner of donations for the Democratic Party.

Oh, this has put the hencoop into a featherstorm. Thus Kos' trusty coadjutor, "Hunter":
I'm (1) an anti-intellectual (2) non-lefty (3) coin purse who (4) isn't goddamn pure enough to be on the same side as the true 60's-generational liberals who (5) opposed the war out of reasons much more noble than any dregs of thought I could manage and (6) why the hell don't people quote more Karl Marx, these days? So let's just stipulate all that, shall we?
Touchy, touchy! And here's the encyclical from the Sedes Kossica itself:
This little tiff in the progressive blogosphere over the wanker "intellectuals" who think bloggers suck because they don't read "Marx" (snort) is pretty ridiculous....

Here's my take on the whole matter -- "intellectuals" who'd rather read books and measure purity are next-to-useless. I prefer people of action, not of elitist academics.... What did all those Marx readers deliver the country? Nixon. Reagan. Bush. Bush II. Not to mention the DeLays, the Scalias, and the long national nightmare that is just now being stemmed.

That's not a knock on people who've been fighting the good fight. Just on those who think the intellectual circle jerks of the 60s are superior to what we're building today.

Pretty breathtaking, huh? Note that all us old 60s lefties are responsible for Nixon, Reagan, etc. Kos is unwittingly demonstrating here a point I have long tried to make: that the organizational Democrats really hate and fear the actual Left (even in its current etiolated form) much more than they hate and fear their supposed antagonists on the Other Team.

I would go so far as to suggest that we lefties might want to return the compliment, and hate the Judases of the Democratic Party rather worse -- if only a little worse -- than the Pilates of the other party.

January 18, 2007

Sheep in wolves' clothing

The New York Times is, apparently, the only entity in the world that takes Joe Biden seriously:
The Senate set the stage on Wednesday for a direct clash with President Bush over the war, with two senior Democrats and a prominent Republican introducing a symbolic measure to declare that the administration’s plan to send additional troops to Iraq runs counter to the national interest.

The resolution, proposed by Senators Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware and Carl Levin of Michigan, both Democrats, and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a Republican, would not be binding, and the White House said it would have no effect on Mr. Bush’s plan to send more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq.

The normally unfunny Dana Milbank, however, rises a bit above his usual level with a rogue's gallery of non-proposals:
Lawmakers were introducing Iraq legislation at a mad pace yesterday, at one point in the afternoon scheduling news conferences in half-hour intervals. By the end of the day, they had issued more bills than Pepco.... Booking the Senate TV studio at 2:30 p.m. were Sens. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), with their own Iraq resolution. They had to vacate the room at 3 p.m. for the arrival of Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and Rep. John McHugh (R-N.Y.); Clinton floated a variation of the Dodd plan. Minutes after that session, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) issued a statement announcing legislation ordering a "phased redeployment" of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Even Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, who gave up his Senate seat, tried to get a piece of the action yesterday. His campaign sent out a fundraising appeal, asking: "Please chip in to help stop this escalation today."

A couple of days ago we made the point here -- not for the first time -- that the Democrats aren't afraid to end the war; rather, they don't want to end the war. If they were afraid, they wouldn't be indulging in this shadow-play; and if they were serious, they'd be doing something real.

Here's the reason for the shadow-play:

A strong majority of Americans opposes President Bush's decision to send more troops to Iraq, and about half of the country wants Congress to block the deployment, a Times/Bloomberg poll has found.... more than three-fifths of those surveyed said the war was not worth fighting, and only one-third approved of his handling of the conflict.

Asked about the president's recent announcement that he would dispatch an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq, three-fifths said they opposed the move, whereas just over one-third backed it.... About one-fourth of Republicans said they did not believe the war was worth fighting....

As usual, the people are way ahead of their leaders. The Democrats can read polls and they know where the public is. But they don't want to cross whoever it is that's the driving force behind this war -- the oil sector or the Israel sector, or pick your own suspect (a prize will be awarded for the most original hypothesis). So their solution is, as usual, the old reliable plot gambit of tired musical-comedy playwrights: "Let's put on a show!"


If you read this:


...you will understand the wiring diagram of the Dem fiscal hawkery. Here's a teaser:

Clinton rejected the social-democracy strategy in favor of... the "Eisenhower Republican" strategy. Make economic growth the first priority. Attempt to get the Federal Reserve to be dovish on interest rates in exchange for seriously reducing the deficit. Take other steps such as trade liberalization to try to boost growth. Reform rather than expand social insurance so that you can argue that taxpayers are getting good value for what they are buying. Hope that these policies will boost investment. And make the Clinton legacy a high-investment, high-productivity growth expansion. If all goes well, a decade of rapid growth and a resolution of the deficit will open up new possibilities for progressive policy.

This was the strategy that Bob Rubin executed, first as head of the National Economic Council and then as treasury secretary under Clinton. Rubin's new memoir shows why he was able to do such a superb job, close to the very best job that could be done.

If I see the comment board light up like a marquee on 125th Street, I will critique it -- otherwise, I'll leave the carve-up to your tender mercies. Have fun.

And oh yeah -- since it's the full Bob Rubin monty, written by one of his top suckling pigs, Brad deLong-eurs: while reading his narrative of the Clintonian fiscal high road, for the sake of a Millsian objectivity, banish this image from your memescreen:

Yep, that's Brad -- the Pugsley of the dismal science, if ever there was one.

MoveOn: an ogress, yes, but such a nice ogress

Asked if MoveOn members would be upset with Sen. Clinton for not proposing (as John Edwards has done) to flex the power of the purse, Tom Matzzie, MoveOn's Washington director, told ABC News, "Our members are not of one mind on that" and he praised her for recognizing that the Senate "has a role" in checking President Bush's plan to send additional U.S. troops to Iraq.

"She's farther ahead than most other 2008 candidates with the exceptions of Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards," said Matzzie.

What a Life Of Brian moment: Hillary, she ain't all bad. She recognizes that the Senate "has a role". And she's in, what, the 25th percentile among 2008 candidates? Always look on the bright side of life, as Eric Idle cheerfully sings to the crucified Graham Chapman:

January 19, 2007

Drawing a line in the... custard

Here's that mighty man, Harry Reid, throwing down the gauntlet:
Reid to Challenge Bush on Iran

... Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., plans to challenge for the first time President Bush's authority to pursue an incursion into Iran without prior congressional approval.

"This morning, I'd like to be clear," Reid plans to say according excerpts of his speech obtained by ABC News, "The President does not have the authority to launch military action in Iran without first seeking congressional authorization."

You get the message, of course? Reid's not going to stop it -- he just wants to be asked along for the ride.

More custard

Not for those with delicate stomachs:


Pelosi Won't Block Funding to Stop Iraq Troop Surge....
Nancy Pelosi Tells ABC News' Diane Sawyer That Bush 'Has to Answer for This War'

...Nancy Pelosi says she won't block funding for additional troops.... Democrats in Congress would not be held responsible for putting the soldiers in the troop surge in additional harm's way by blocking funds....

Sawyer: Are you going to move to cut off funding for troops going into Iraq as part of the surge?

Pelosi: Democrats will never cut off funding for our troops when they are in harm's way, but we will hold the president accountable.... That's why Congress will vote to oppose the president's escalation, from the standpoint of policy. We will have our disagreement.

Sawyer: But short of that -- questions posed, resolutions passed -- short of that, are you acquiescing in the surge if the pocketbook is the only other control mechanism?

Pelosi: The president knows that because the troops are in harm's way, that we won't cut off the resources....

Sawyer: You have talked about beginning withdrawals in four to six months. Everyone would like to know, what would you propose that we do if suddenly it looks like a complete conflagration? What is the Democratic plan in the event of that?

Pelosi: First of all, [it is] the president's war. He's the one without a plan....

Sawyer: Can you fathom any circumstance under which you would say, "No, leave troops there?"

Pelosi: Well, you always evaluate circumstances as they are a threat to the United States and what we do must make the American people safer, not weaken our military, and bring stability to the region.

Okay, let me get this straight. These were the guys it was so important to elect to Congress. But we're to understand clearly that they're not expected to do anything. They're not even expected to have any ideas about what they would do if there were, in Sawyer's wooly phrase, a "conflagration."

And they're going to insist on using migraine-inducing cliche phrases, over and over. "In harm's way" -- the reek of beery war-buff sentimentality off that one is enough to choke a turkey buzzard. I guess it's the new "boots on the ground."

January 21, 2007

Who's dressing Hillary: part one

Mile Flugennock writes:
Never mind the hypocrisy, cravenness, cowardice, opportunistic bandwagon-jumping, bloodthirst and power lust; the question in the top of my brain at this hour of the morning is: Who the hell is picking out Hillary's clothes? Seriously, man, is she picking out her own goddamn' outfits?

She's got this one with a dark blue jacket and about a million round brass buttons down the front, which looks like something she stole from a military cadet.

There's another one in powder blue which looks like a suit worn by an imperialist dictator's wife, likely made out of the same stuff that Our Beloved Kim Jong Il uses for his suits.

January 22, 2007

Dressing Hillary, part deux

Mike F, obsessed as who is not with Hillary's wardrobe, writes:
lately, I've found myself subscribing to what I call the Grateful Dead School Of Political Analysis. It seems lately that between "Uncle John's Band", "U.S. Blues", "Ship Of Fools" and "Casey Jones", my core social/cultural/political values are pretty much covered:

Trouble ahead, boys, lady in red!
Take my advice, you'd be better off dead!
Switchman's sleepin', train's a hundred'n'two,
on the wrong track and headed for you!"

In the rough

It's all too painfully clear: the empire is in trouble, overseas and now here at home. The death star, needless to say, is useless under the circumstances -- so what's to do?

Enter -- errr, re-enter -- the vital center! Yes, the purpling of America must now begin.

This morning on my inbound job commute, I'm listening to NPR -- yes, NPR, that secular megachurch of humane inanity -- and don't I find them kicking off a week-long string of secular sermons on... the great and good moderate majority. Yup, just as the little people begin to awaken from their 25-year snooze.

This morning's lesson: we are very normally distributed, as a people, on the political spectrum from left to right, using a seven point scale. NPR told me "50% of us are fours," and you guessed it, there's many more threes and fives than sixs and twos, not to mention the scarcity of ones and sevens. Oh yeah -- the right tail is a bit fatter then the left tail.

Is this surprising? Is it new?

Kinda. "We Americanos are ultimately a let's all meet in the middle, bipartisan, reasoning together bunch." That part we've heard before. But the quantitative angle is new. I like the idea of a nation centered on its center and calling it "a four."

In golf -- the former pastime of Babbits everywhere -- the cry "four" means "Duck! incoming balls" -- often hit by some bidness foursome impatient to play through.

Squeaky clean -- well, almost

You may have missed this -- it's Mike F's Breck boy, Gomer's courthouse spellbinder bro, and Dem prez hopeful Johnny Edwards


Seems he sold his opulent Georgetown house this December to a real big-time stinkeroo, or rather a stinkeroo couple, Paul and Terry Klaassen.

Ironic side light: two big unions El Brecko wants in his corner are after this same creep -- no, not for unfair labor practices, but for major stock losses. The two unions took on the stinker's company, then serious accounting irregularities surfaced, and sent the stock a-tumblin'. Seems this here stinker had sold a 20 million dollar block of shares just prior to... buying Breck-boy's house!

Gotta love it, though -- the union as disappointed investor. Hell hath no fury like a sucker fleeced!

January 23, 2007

The Sawicki loophole

A comment by the Max man himself set me off. My thoughts are a bit disorganized and seriously incomplete, but it's a moment, I think, that needs a marker.

At his own site -- from the Max Factor's fingertips to your screen -- comes evidence of the fatal fault line in the anti-empire edifice:


"I supported the Kosovo intervention because I feared a genocide was in prospect, though I said there should be less indiscriminate bombing and more U.S. boots on the ground. I will be less inclined to be supportive of any such thing in the future.
This sez it all, don't it? Here in this one shaggy good soul resides the intervention demon at its stealthy best, for a moment exposed, even inside our guy who's against empire -- our guy ready willing and able to challenge the Kosa Volkstra on their skin-deep anti-war shallowness.

Here's Max admitting he sinned, too, over Kosovo. His closing pledge -- "I will be less inclined to be supportive of any such thing in the future" -- is wonderfully sly, instinctively counter-pompous in its understatement; but ultimately not enough, not nearly enough.

We are all sinners! We all betray our beliefs! Our loyalty is fragile! St Peter before the cock crew.

No, this is not excusable. It's even a weasel in its implied premise: NATO should -- of course! -- make an armed response to... genocide.

In the future. Max tells us, I'll not be duped by the corporate press's rush to intervention, with every cry of genocide.

Really? Does Max think that NATO might actually move because of a genocide -- not as pretext, but as prime mover?

While you're lingering over this conundrum, notice the boots-over-bombs bit. The ultimate smart weapon : a redneck with a rifle. This boots-over bombs theory, combined with the loophole for moral intervention -- how many steps is this from an enlarged, standing, intervention-ready ground force? Maybe an increase in the speed and size of the fast response forces might prevent the next Pol Pot!

And then, of course, to avoid surprise -- "more intelligence assets are needed," so we can know when to respond, to stop the next Rwanda. And the warning has to come soon enough. Not when it's just about to happen. Not like the "Lost In Space" robot crying "Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! Danger!" -- that poor tin can can only twigged when it was too late to head off the danger.

Max, I fear you are an interventionist on first principles. There is a point, for you, where you believe good intentions will lead bad people to do good things.

Of ocurse we all have in the back of our heads the Holocaust paradigm: surely something could have been done, should have been done, about Hitler.

Well, what? A preemptive strike in 1936, which would have been about the right time? To ask the question is to answer it: it's sheer fantasy to imagine that the Powers would have acted then, and for that reason. Does Max think the world has changed? And if so, why?

If war should come come between great powers again -- then yeah, we should all do what we can to make genocide prevention into War Aim #1. That's a reasonable lesson to learn from the anti-Nazi war. What's not a reasonable lesson is to use genocide prevention as a pretext for any future intervention. Such attacks are not do-overs for the missed opportunities of the Thirties.

Just like "no more Munichs!", "No more holocausts!" has a twisted ring these days. The Great Satan's lips are never far from mouthing either one or the other -- or both.

January 24, 2007

The business of America

Notice many now see these "netroot" outfits as cynical fund-raising scams, much like college alumni organizations, fan clubs and church services. Ahhh, all is commerce, eh?

But did anyone ever really think the pros wanted anything else from us than money and free stoop labor? Surely not "memes," let alone to-do lists.

So Kos and company, I salute you; nice detail.

Historical note: the revived KKK -- another appurtenance, or excrescence, of the Democratic Party -- was actually a costume and accoutrements scam by a Georgia guy in the club outfitting business. Maybe Kos et al. will similarly outgrow their roots in the squalid milieu of retail fund-raising; but the Klan had a number of advantages the Kosniks lack, and I don't just mean the dashing outfits. They also had something to say which, unfortunately, a substantial part of the public was eager to hear.

Lady Xeno points out the latest:


Looking to instill discipline among Democrats, a coalition of labor, trial lawyers and liberal groups are launching lobbying and campaign organizations this week....

'Our PAC will encourage Democrats to act like Democrats - and if they don't - they better get out of the way,' Steve Rosenthal, one of the coalition's main organizers, wrote in a memorandum describing the organization....

Rosenthal founded America ComingTogether, a political organization that mobilized Democratic voters in the 2004 presidential election.... [Other leaders include] Anna Burger, the secretary-treasurer of the Service Employees International Union; Eli Pariser, the executive director of MoveOn.org Political Action, and Linda Lipsen, a senior vice president at the American Association for Justice, formerly the American Trial Lawyers Association.

There's a real people's lobby for you -- the Stern gang, the trial lawyers and the moverons and comer-togethers. (MoveOn's chief woodchuck, Eli Pariser, is shown at left.)

Given the turn of the tide in Congress, we can now expect outfits like this to sprout like so many mushrooms.

A name of ill omen

File this link under donk House reps, fearless warstopper unit:


Meet Jimmy "Jumpstart" Mcgovern. This exchange with a PDA wallaby gets us to where Jimmy's at:

PDA: You had one bill last Congress and you are going to have a new one this Congress. The one that everybody's heard about, 4232, what did that bill do?

McGovern: Well, what that bill basically did is what the bill I'm going to introduce this year will do.

What didn't work last time will work this time, 'cause now it's different! The people have spoken!

So... errrm... why the same old same old? Ah, patience, folks, these war endgames are complex -- kinda like cuttting the wires on a time bomb -- do it wrong and....

Of course, there's the required brush with Nambo history -- in this case, it's a nod toward another Mcgovern's dovey congressional wing-flapping, the famed Mcgovern-Hatfield amendment (two guys hung from the verbal lampposts at least ten million and one times since by drive-time talk-radio hosts). Here's the lesson of the day, as told by this new Mcgovern:

The McGovern-Hatfield Amendment...received 39 votes. Didn't receive a majority. Received 39 votes. Thirty-nine US Senators went on record as saying, 'I want this war to end and I want to cut off funding.' That sent a powerful signal to the White House and other leaders in Congress that basically support for this war is eroding rapidly. They needed to come up with a plan to get out.
Send a signal? A signal?

Make that a smoke signal, ladies and gents, not a flare that might start a fire on a roof or something. Just send up a series of puffs, really firm puffs of dark gray smoke. Let 'em float up and disperse into the blue sky. That'll get the bad boys' knees knocking.

Imagine the Cheney gang responding to... "signals", and peppering the oposition with: "You sniveling weaselly backstabbers, you skunky betrayers of our brave trooper girls and boys, you'd have this nation abandon its own best hopes, our brightest, bravest children, leave them to hold out as best they can, till rescued like so many Beau Gestes."

We all could go on and on and on over this blood hole, like pigeons inflating and re-inflating our chests, while what needs doing, what somehow we must do, is take dire action.

We need a second front to this war, another place to be in "harm's way," here at home, right up there on Capitol Hill. We gotta find the raw means to put them all up there in harm's way: tell 'em, "Get us out, motherfuckers, or we'll get you out, and not give a shit who replaces you."

The filibuster: it's baaaack

How it works in the Senate these days:


Fifty-four senators voted to raise the federal minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 an hour, without giving any more lucrative tax breaks to business. But because of the mostly Republican opposition to a clean minimum wage bill in the form of a filibuster, that was six votes too few for passage.

The 54–43 vote on cloture this morning (it takes 60 votes to end debate on a filibustered bill) means the Senate now will take up a minimum wage bill (S. 2) that, along with the $2.10 wage hike, will include the tax breaks and other giveaways....

Says Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), leading Senate proponent of a clean bill:

Adding a tax package to the bill creates procedural hurdles that will delay—perhaps significantly—the implementation of the increase. Minimum wage workers could wait months for a raise they so clearly deserve.
Notice, again, that the Republicans can filibuster but the Democrats can't. Now that's what I call usin' that fine Dixiecrat remnant the way it was intended.

Another one bites the... big one

Another entry for the Comment Seems Superfluous department. This, from the drolly named TotallyJewish.com:


Edwards: Iran Threat Serious

"The challenges in your own backyard – represent an unprecedented threat to the world and Israel," the candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination told the Herzliya Conference, referring mainly to the Iranian threat.

In his speech, Edwards criticised the United States' previous indifference to the Iranian issue....

Hinting to possible military action, Edwards stressed that "in order to ensure Iran never gets nuclear weapons, all options must remain on table." ... Edwards also discussed Syria's recent calls for peace with Israel, saying that "talk is cheap," and that Syria was not doing enough to prove it was serious.

After opening his speech with great praise for Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Edward's ... continued to say that Israel has made many concessions in order to advance peace [but] little has been seen on the Palestinian side....

In a further display of support for Israel, Edwards went so far as to suggest that Israel should even be made a member of NATO....

I agree about NATO -- it deserves Israel as a member.

Apart from that, though -- somebody remind me why we were supposed to be excited about this guy? I haven't seen pandering at this level since Hillary went orgasmic over Israel's apartheid wall last year.

Oh, and I'd love to hear what nice Johnnie had to say about vegetative former mass murderer Ariel Sharon. But perhaps that's not for foreign consumption. Body

"The challenges in your own backyard – represent an unprecedented threat to the world and Israel," the candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination told the Herzliya Conference, referring mainly to the Iranian threat.

In his speech, Edwards criticised the United States' previous indifference to the Iranian issue....

Hinting to possible military action, Edwards stressed that "in order to ensure Iran never gets nuclear weapons, all options must remain on table." ... Edwards also discussed Syria's recent calls for peace with Israel, saying that "talk is cheap," and that Syria was not doing enough to prove it was serious.

After opening his speech with great praise for Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Edward's ... continued to say that Israel has made many concessions in order to advance peace [but] little has been seen on the Palestinian side....

In a further display of support for Israel, Edwards went so far as to suggest that Israel should even be made a member of NATO....

I agree about NATO -- it deserves Israel as a member.

Apart from that, though -- somebody remind me why we were supposed to be excited about this guy? I haven't seen pandering at this level since Hillary went orgasmic over Israel's apartheid wall last year.

Oh, and I'd love to hear what nice things Johnnie had to say about vegetative former mass murderer Ariel Sharon. But perhaps that's not for home consumption.

January 25, 2007

Trollery drollery

Every so often I get an unconquerable urge to go trolling over on Daily Kos, and I keep a few sleeper accounts handy for the purpose. Yesterday's post about John Edwards as rent-boy for the Israel lobby seemed like a good opportunity, so I cross-posted it, slightly edited, on Kos under the admittedly provocative user name 'hamaschick'.

It was up for about an hour and a half late last night, and accumulated sixty-odd comments before 'hunter', that unsleeping Dzerzhinsky of the netroots, dropped the hammer. I saved it here, though, along with all the comments.

As usual, the pathos of the experience was the number of people who apparently know better but still can't tear themselves away from this maelstrom of futility. My post contained a poll:


Just how disgusting is [Edwards' performance for the Israelis]?

Not at all -- I agree 100% 6% -- 4 votes
Hey, be realistic. Cut the guy some slack 20% -- 12 votes
Mildly disgusting, but I'd still vote for him if he was the nominee 6% -- 4 votes
Intensely disgusting -- I almost barfed -- but I'd still vote for him if he was the nominee 20% -- 12 votes
I actually did barf, but I'd still vote for him if, etc. 6% -- 4 votes
Enough is enough. I've had it. 40% -- 24 votes
60 votes

A majority acknowledged nausea; 2/5 said they'd "had it." On a more depressing note, there was a lot of fatuous huffing and puffing over my pseudonym. No sense of humor, these people.

JSP some time ago noted that fifteen minutes trolling Kos is probably time well spent, since it makes the Kosserei burn up untold democrat-hours berating you, speculating about your troll status, pulling accounts, blocking IP addresses, etc. -- time they could be spending trying to elect Democrats. Better they do almost anything than that. (The other thing they do is elaborate an esoteric argot -- what does "to freep" mean? Or "to fisk"? This is at least creative, in a modest way.)

I was, of course, delighted that it was 'hunter' himself who liquidated the martyr hamaschick. It's always funny when you meet in the 3-D world people you formerly knew only online. Before I went to Daily Kos last year, I had a mental image of 'hunter' that owed a lot to Tab Hunter:

Alas, the reality is quite different. 'Hunter' is a slumping, suety, lank-haired, pasty-faced chap who appears to be on the brink of middle age, with a peevish, disgruntled expression and a querulous, chronically exasperated tone of voice -- at least when I saw him. This image, taken by one of the faithful, is rather flattering, I'm sorry to say:

Personnel change

I announce with the greatest regret that my esteemed colleague JS Paine, due to the press of business at his day job, is relinquishing his duties here at Stop Me. We will all miss him greatly.

On the bright side, JS's younger (and according to JS himself, "much brighter") brother Owen Paine will be carrying on the proud Paine tradition in these pages.

A fond farewell, then, to good old JS, and a hearty welcome to young Owen.

Extinct volcano

Hi, my name's Bob Fertik and I wanna stop the Iraq occ:


The 2008 campaign has begun, and the Democratic presidential candidates are competing for the support of the anti-war majority - that's us, folks!

It's extremely rare for progressives to be courted by Democratic leaders, so let's make them really compete for our votes by making our position clear:

  1. Deny all funds for Bush's escalation
  2. Support immediate redeployment of U.S. troops, to be completed by the end of 2007 using the funds already appropriated
  3. Oppose the $100 billion "Supplemental" appropriation in March and any other bills to extend the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
Gee, thanx, Bob -- but why do we find a key wording switch? Why the serpentine, empire-by-other-means word "redeploy", where a plain "bring home the troops now" should be?

Is it a winnner's reframing word? I doubt it, since the instinct of the weeble majority is clearly "come home, boys and girls" -- and probably stay home, too.

And why "the end of '07" and not immediately? Why the timeline of 'escalating' Congressional actions if troops remain? Why point three at all? I guess because point one only hits "escalation" funding.

But what I can't figure is, why does simply saying 'cut off all war funding now' sound too... what? Risky? Radical? Unrealistic?

This is the sort of mush you expect to hear from an incumbent, or even a candidate -- but from a supposed "activist"?

Bob doesn't sound any more serious about this issue than his elected representatives are.

January 26, 2007

Hillary agonistes

I'm reading Matt Stoller at Huffyville:


He's going at Mother Clinton, and I realize she's the Iraq war of the pwoggery -- End her! Anyone but Hillary! -- for she personifies all things elitist, all things donor-class, all things superior to us about the orthrian party core. Matt sez: "There is almost no common ground between progressive activists and elitists like Hillary Clinton."

So, my prediction, it will be Hillary the party bosses burn at the stake this campaign season, to assuage the hunger for elite blood. All the better to slip some more zesty corporate kitchen mass market confection over on us. Like this rugged ole wooden masked warrior from Virginia -- this Webb freak -- or something else, anything will do, even... Johnny E. Anything but St Hill.

A bit poignant that, don't you think? Then again, surely martyrdom will become her, as it did another over-the-top super-striver, the great RN of Yorba Linda.

Even so, and though even our Matt, sensing the fall to come, calls her "tragic" -- I just call her set up.

Wheeere's... Johnnie?

Here's a hot potato to toss in Jury Johnny E's union maid of a lap:


It's about Smithfield Food's full-court union bust, complete with undoc raids and all the shapes and sizes of class struggle in post 9/11 America, and its epicenter is right in Johnnie's home state:

On Wednesday, January 24, agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, (ICE) staged a raid of the largest pork processing plant in the world -- Smithfield Food's massive operation in Tar Heel, North Carolina. This plant has been the site of intense struggle throughout the last year, with over a thousand workers striking in November against the firing of undocumented workers. According to the first press reports, this raid arrested 21 workers -- in a plant where the federal authorities are demanding the firing of over 600 workers for being undocumented.
Sorry this article is by 'narrow sectarians' but hey, I take it where I find it.

January 29, 2007

Fight for peace

I was not in Washington on the Mall Saturday -- shame on me. Here's a rather unfortunate take on the gathered multitude:


Okay. That is not really accurate. There were many more people than 'tens of thousands'. I can tell this by comparing the crowd to a Michigan football game. Michigan alum ejmw concurs with my estimate of well over the sellout crowd at Ann Arbor.
We gotta do a lot better than out-draw Wolverine home games -- say more like 10 cities, 10 million pairs of feet. This is way far from over; but the trajectory of these successive mob risings is not easily figured.

We may have seen an early apex; we may have seen merely the beginning. The youth mod department needs to kick in fiercely, and if the raw-to-cooked ratio in the Mall yesterday was higher on raw, we may see a serious size surge at the next goaround.

I think we'll need to galvanize with a to-do while there -- maybe a real "occupation" of the mall this spring. March in March at the time of the Congress votes on Iraq funds. And how's about a homecoming beltway encampment: we ain't leaving Peace-lager 07 (pop. 1 million) till our kids over there are back here.

Our man in Washington

Mike Flugennock reports:


Speakers in this piece include include Two Guys From The RCP, as they beat the hell out of listening to Jesse Jackson yell "Keep hope alive!" five thousand times. Also featuring special guest contingent: the Working Assets "Out Of Iraq, Into Darfur" Kool-Aid Drinkers Brigade.

Dullest. Mobe. EVER.

RealVideo streaming link, 07:55


Photos via DC Indymedia at


The Kinsley report

I despise Michael Kinsley -- probably because he's clever enough to impress himself sometimes, but surely not this time, as he bellyflops into the great bipartisan partisanship debate, currently cycloning through the beltway punditude like a three-burrito fart:


This postpartisan era everybody wants is not going to happen, and the great longing for it is childish. What Americans say they want--or even what they think they want--needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Their objection, very often, is less to politics than to arithmetic. Do they want our health-care system fixed? Yes. Do they want Social Security and Medicare on a more solid footing? Absolutely. Will they pay for these things? Not a chance. There are no pragmatic, nonideological solutions to the big question of what the government should do and what it shouldn't. You can have your government programs and pay for them, like a good liberal, or you can have your tax cuts and forgo the programs, like a good conservative. Asking for both is the opposite of pragmatic.
The Kinsley choice: a competent gubmint means more taxes. Hey, assholes, it's arithmetic -- and I think Mikey is talking down to the great vital infantilizied public "we" here, not just the Bush base. He's not as engaging as Bill Demarest in The Great McGinty, though -- "Ya can't get away from arithmetic!"

Dracula and the domme

From Nancy's hometown newspaper:

Pelosi's trip: She believes more strongly that withdrawal will help region, says troops deserve better policies than president's

(01-29) 04:00 PST Washington -- Three days in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan have made House Speaker Nancy Pelosi even more certain of her view that moving troops out of Iraq is the best way to bring stability to the region, she told The Chronicle on Sunday....

Pelosi's visit comes as Congress readies a resolution opposing Bush's plan for new troops to Iraq....

A clear majority of senators oppose the president's troop increase, although competing resolutions and a filibuster threat make vote counts difficult. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden, D-Del., predicted Sunday that fewer than 20 senators -- not even half of the 49 Republicans -- would be willing to voice support for Bush's plan.....

Lantos reiterated Pelosi's opposition to Bush's war plans.

"What we saw and heard in Baghdad leaves me even more convinced than before that the administration's 'stay the course' approach will only lead us deeper into disaster,'' Lantos said. "Placing more troops in harm's way in order to shore up a failed policy is unconscionably reckless and only compounds the mistakes already made.''

Lantos is opposing the "surge"? Has Nancy cracked the whip and brought him to heel? Has Lucy got the Injun sign over the Count?

Alas, no. Lantos' acquiescence gives the game away -- nobody, not even the Israel lobby, is serious about the "surge". Defeating this non-initiative is, as Owen's brother pointed out here some time ago, a way to present the status quo as victory. I think we can all write the history of the next few weeks.

Note, too, the now-obligatory "harm's way" trope. Wake me up when somebody says we shouldn't be putting people in Harman's way.

January 30, 2007

Love that quagmire

Got an e-mail from my older brother JS:

Heavens to Betsy, baby O -- I come back from dumpin' off the domestic partner at the airport, well past two AM, her designer luggage filled with leg irons, her Valley Of The Dolls daughter and a doped-up dog that feels like a warm loaf of bread in his pooch pouch... where was I? Oh yeah, I've just no more than returned to her stately cape by the sea, and hit the rack and -- there's the phone! Ringing like sleep's sleeve-unraveller supreme.

Naturally, it's my shadowy source, Mr Y from Foggy Bottom, that dissolute scion of four generations of FSOs, each nuttier than the last.

"Jaybo!" he shrieks, "now you're no longer there to guide the proceedings past the obvious traps, I see the holy father's site is gleefully making mountains out of stage props!"

He went on in that vein for quite a while -- cocaine, you know, is still considered quite hip in Washington -- but here's the gist:

"The Iraq occ has two, maybe three year legs... It just ain't that costly in blood weight, and to the backers -- well, it's win/win by lose/lose. Like Korea after the Chicoms entered screaming... it's a very swell ongoing demo of our limits. Message to the rube-iat: take these fuckers seriously.

"It feeds the brass hats' plans -- helps 'em consolidate a permanent surge, a real $100 bil per annum surge in Uncle's two ground services. Shows we need a jump-up in our full-time, ready-to-hop boot strength?

"Kim and Hug and that dude in the turban, with the black beard -- they're all laughin' at Uncle, stuck in that sand trap. And meanwhile, on the dark side, it keeps Iran turning on the spit: yer 'it' in the schoolyard, bub.

"And the tens of billions per quarter down the rathole over there? Come on, big big plus side item, global manna for the trans-nats -- contracts get let to dig holes, contracts get let to fill holes. Oil price stabilize at 50 not 25 dollars per -- and with the earth-wide capital glut, this is better use of surplus funds than all that crazy-ass hedge-funding. Hell, that's like a trillion pounds of nitro movin' around the planet at internet speed."

Okay, little O, I grant you he's crazy as a bedbug, and lord knows what illicit substances are flowing in his veins -- but give the bastard credit. He's always walkin' on the big-picture side of life.

January 31, 2007

Who'll stop the rain

Start a new folder -- label it "who'll stop the rain?"


There certainly is a strong need for the United States to become a fair player in the global economy. But the new Democratic Congress is far more likely to help achieve that goal -- as well as the goal of its own re-election -- if it calls on the administration to not escalate WTO talks that are likely to lead to worsening income distribution at home and economic and social instability abroad.
Is this trying to say the prag bosses running the donkery congress will stop the rain? Enter a Wall Street trans-nat old oaken horse through the gates of Democrat Troy, in the form of an "intervention" by "the Democrat-aligned Center for American Progress":
In a recent CAP publication... a Clinton administration official who had previously advised the Mexican government on NAFTA has tried to make "The Case for Reviving the Doha Trade Round" of the WTO....
Mein Gott, Doha! Doha! Please! Only fools and cabbage leaves any longer mention Doha. I like this for understatement:
... the group seems out of step with the majority of the Democrats' base and progressive thinking worldwide on the WTO with a 2005 report even calling WTO escalation "critical to our future prosperity and security."
The wolves are everywhere -- everywhere bleating with the flock, out there among the sheep and lambkins. But you can tell 'em if you try. Check out the the curls of their fleece coats -- the wolves' are too long and thick and cheesy to be natural.

Not-mad-enough Max

Just read this in a comment at Max Speak:


...This voting for the lesser evil is getting pretty old, but the Dems definitely are the lesser evil.
synykyl | 01.31.07 - 12:19 am
'synkyl' was responding to this from Max himself:
....I will usefully remind you it was Clinton and Mad Albright who instituted sanctions against Iraq and affirmed the acceptability of the resulting hundreds of thousands of deaths of innocent Iraqi children.

Today the litmus test of an anti-war candidate and the "netroots" is where they stand on attacking Iran."

Sounds good, eh? Max the mighty. He backs up a bit further down in the comments, though:
I do not view the Dems as equally culpable. Not even Clinton. But judging Dems by comparison to Republicans implies a very low standard.
Miracle Max | Homepage | 01.30.07 - 7:01 pm |
Mighty Max is gone, replaced by Max the Mushy. Does he really think that somehow there is some small good in folks like Albright and blow-me Bill? Max of the mordant sarcasm?

The real problem here is guys who want to do some good. It's like diluting strychnine with spring water and then telling us it's not as bad as the full-strength poison.

De mortuis nil nisi... oh fuck it, just nil

I've been bashing the late Molly Ivins here from time to time, and I'm so out of it I didn't know she was quite sick. Now she's dead, and the news made me feel little remorseful. Only for a minute, though; Molly's pulse had hardly stilled before a remarkably smarmy item from The Nation landed in my inbox:


The warmest-hearted populist ever to pick up a pen with the purpose of calling the rabble to the battlements, Ivins understood that change came only when some citizen in some off-the-map town passed a petition, called a Congressman or cast an angry vote to throw the bums out.
Oh just shoot me. Shoot me. This is what makes change happen -- passing a petition, calling a congressman, throwing one set of bums out in favor of another? On the contrary, this is just exactly what ensures that change won't happen.

More cloying funereal ipecac:

If anyone anywhere was picking a fight with the powerful, she was writing them up...
... unless the powerful they happened to be picking a fight with was the Democratic Party oligarchy:

http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/10/05/ivins.texas/index.htm .

.. the Kinky Friedman candidacy is worn thin and no fun. Besides, we actually have a good chance to get [Republican] Rick Perry out of office.... This could be the Alamo of elections.

For those, like me, who believe in music and laughter in politics, Kinky Friedman appeared to be a natural -- and besides, how hard can it be?

It turns out, a little harder than Kinky is willing to make an effort to go. In an excruciating interview with the Dallas Morning News, Friedman not only got about half his facts wrong, but also demonstrated that he does not understand school finance or taxes....

Okay, okay, the lady is dead, and was at death's door when she wrote these depressing words. I will say this for her: she was, when she was herself, a livelier writer than anybody who ever appears in The Nation (The Magazine For Bien-Pensant Insomniacs) except Gore Vidal and Alex Cockburn. And she wasn't naturally stupid. When she was stupid -- which was pretty often, lately -- let's be generous and attribute it partly to her health; but even more, and more consistently, alas, to her never-questioned commitment to the Democratic Party.

That ancient institution has many sins justly laid to its charge, and not the least of them is that it makes smart people really, really dumb -- and really, really boring.

RIP, Molly. If there's anything to reincarnation, I hope in your next go-around you don't have that monkey on your back. I would like to be more generous, but the waste of great natural talent and energy spent futilely supporting amoebas like that Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Texas -- does anyody even remember his name? -- it makes me want to tear my clothes off, set my hair on fire, and run screaming down the street.

About January 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Stop Me Before I Vote Again in January 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

December 2006 is the previous archive.

February 2007 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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