« June 2007 | Main | August 2007 »

July 2007 Archives

July 2, 2007

A richly deserved pie in the face for Medea

Mike Flugennock passes along the following splendid item:




Bakers without Borders and Co-optation Watch take action today at the US Social Forum to demand accountability from a self-appointed "spokesperson" whose actions further the commodification of resistance and sabotage our movement's sustainability and credibility. This person's actions benefit the NGO Industrial Complex at the expense of real democracy and solidarity.

In particular, we hold Medea Benjamin accountable for:

- Publicly siding with the police and municipal authorities against direct actions performed at the World Trade Organization protests of 1999.

- Administrative authority in an organization that hordes funds raised for community organizations in Guatemala

- Administrative authority in an organization that solicited the economic dependency of residents in Cuba and then abandoned the project, pushing the Cuban participants deeper into poverty.

- Acting as self-appointed spokesperson of the "American Left". One egregious example is publicly refusing to endorse a call by hundreds of Lebanese citizens for Israel to unconditionally withdraw from Southern Lebanon in the 2006 war, claiming that the American Left would not swallow such a demand.

- Exploiting and dominating movement space, resources, and publicity in the global justice and associated movements.

July 4, 2007

If genocide didn't exist, empire would have to invent it

My favorite LBO-talk contributor, Yoshie Furuhashi -- who wastes altogether too much of her fragrance on that desert air, I fear -- has once more hit the nail on the head in connection with the recent revelations (in Le Monde here, and Anglo-masticated by The Independent here) of great-power involvement in the Rwanda massacres. (As far as I can tell the US media have maintained perfect radio silence on this story.) Here's Yoshie:



According to the dominant ideology, Rwanda was about nothing but an ethnic genocide, Yugoslavia was about nothing but an ethnic genocide, Darfur in Sudan is about nothing but an ethnic genocide, etc. Imperialism first helps ethnicize politics in reality halfway (by simplifying and hardening formerly fluid tribal formations into often racialized ethnic groups and using one to govern the rest) and then ethnicizes people's understanding of it totally in ideology. If what's happening is an ethnic genocide, there are "good victims" -- the ethnic group subjected to genocide -- and "bad guys" -- the government in the Third World committing genocide. You go in by declaring that what you are doing is to save "good victims" from "bad guys" and end by deposing the government and setting up the "good guys" who say they represent "good victims" in power. The "good guys" then run the country for you. In the process you help sentimentalize and dumb down politics in your own country: realpolitik, the ruling class think, should be reserved for closed meetings of the power elite, for masses don't and shouldn't understand it.

Realpolitik [is what] the French socialist power elite around Mitterand discussed in closed meetings, a glimpse of which is available in the newly declassified documents.... [T]he way they saw it, Rwanda was about a proxy war between the French-backed Mouvement républicain national pour la démocratie et le développement (MRND) government, its Forces armées rwandaises (FAR), and peasant militias loyal to the MRND on one hand and the Front patriotique rwandais (FPR) of Paul Kagame, which was backed by Uganda and the USA, on the other hand. The French understanding of realpolitik is closer to reality than the sentimental ideology of an ethnic genocide, but the French socialist imperialists lost, so they lost the ability to control the narrative, too, which they had already all but lost to the American and Americanized media favoring US imperialists even before their actual defeat.

The Le Monde article that the Independent cites not only claims that what was happening in Rwanda was nothing but an ethnic genocide and but also that the French socialist imperialists should have gotten hints by late 1990 that a genocide was being prepared and should have certainly recognized that a specific plan for it was hatched _between_ the Arusha accords and the assassination of the then Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana.*

Notice, however, that the only source of the plan was an anonymous informant, uncorroborated by others. The media, generally devotees of humanitarian imperialism, find it useful, though, because the Arusha accords and the Habyarimana assassination might disrupt their narrative without it for they both might remind some of the reality of the civil war that was an inter-imperialist proxy war.

That said, the Le Monde article has bits that felicitously reveal the line of thinking common to all imperialists when they confront a looming defeat. Here's one from February 1993.

The next day, general Christian Quesnot, Mitterand's own chief of staff, and the number 2 of the Africa group in the [President's office], Dominique Pin, presented different options to [Mitterrand].

The first was to evacuate the French and pull back the Noroit mission. The authors rejected this option out of hand: "It would be checkmate for our presence and policy in Rwanda. Our credibility on the continent would be impaired."

That's how they think -- French imperialists regarding Rwanda and US imperialists regarding Iraq and Iran. So they soldier on . . . till the bitter end that is, alas, bitterer to natives than colonizers.

The not-so-glorious Fourth

I was grousing today, in the presence of someone near and dear to me, about the "tedious", "stupid" Fourth of July.

She reminded me that I really quite like the glorious Fourteenth of July. What's the diff? she asked.

I pondered for a minute. The food? The wine? The Iraq war? The Paris subway? Then I figured it out.

The Fourth commemorates the signing of a document -- a very fraudulent document at that, a document drafted by a slaveowner but full of rodomontade about inalienable rights, etc. etc.

The Fourteenth, on the other hand, commemorates a bunch of trouserless rabble storming a prison -- and reducing the fucker to rubble.

Here's to Bastille Day. My fellow Americans -- we have ten days to catch up, or let another year escape us. Pick up those pitchforks and torches, shed your trousers if necessary, and storm the nearest prison.

Or school -- same difference.

July 6, 2007

Libby lib

I used to be part of an Internet standards working group on computer security. Our unofficial motto was, "Are we paranoid enough yet?" -- and the answer, of course, was always "No!" (Quite right, too.)

Paranoia can be a lot of fun, actually, if you take it in the right spirit. Here's the professional paranoid's take on the Scooter Libby sentence-commutation "scandal".

The PP thinks this is a little parting gift from Bushco to the incoming Hunger Chancellor -- whoops, I mean the imminent Democratic administration, whether headed by a light-brown -- a very light-brown -- chap from the Midwest or a certain semi-female person (also from the Midwest, oddly enough).

The point of the gift is to enable the incoming administration to be even more outrageously reactionary and imperial than it would otherwise have been -- because, of course, that suits the donor class no matter what kind of ears the administration might have.

Here's how it works, according to the PP:

The Republicans know it's Brand-X's turn next time around. They're probably not even too upset about it. Opposition has its own pleasures and opportunities, and while some third-level bureaucrats may be turned out to wander for four or eight years in the well-padded wilderness of the private sector, they won't starve -- and really, even if they did, who cares about them anyway?

So the Donks get first place at the trough next time around. Well, okay, that's the game. But we -- and that means us pachyderms, and them donks -- really need to lower public expectations. The supposed opposition gets in, and if we both don't watch out together, people might expect something to change. Can't have that! So... let's do something that will make the second string team look good no matter what they do, or don't do. -- I've got it! A pardon! Brilliant! So outrageous, it'll lower the bar for the Hunger-Chancellors well below sea level!

It worked for Carter, didn't it? At least for one term. And come to think of it, what's wrong with that scenario?

July 9, 2007

The lowering boomers

Ahhh, the Monthly Review -- often I turn to it for... well, in this case, it turned out to be foolkrieging:


As many of you may know, I hate my generation of meritoids -- the woodstock wing in particular, and its "new left" solarium in even more particular.

Long abandoned, its walls of glass smashed in at a thousand points by the stones of time's hard realities, I've often recalled it with a mellow snicker. But now, I'll be goddamned if after nearly a third of a century of total eclipse, this least worthy of radical structures isn't appearing from behind the leading edge of our new century. A gen-X maxim proves true again: just when you begin to believe their reign has finally ended, recall this bloody fact: old boomers never die, they just wade wade wade... back in.

The old new-left Undead have "rewrtitten" -- how pathetic is that? -- a document that sank like a stone back in '63, when it was first written. For a patch of unintended self-parody, the current version deserves immediate induction into the boomer travesty temple of Olympian laughter. Early on, there's a whack at the "long-winded" Vaclav Havel, which is very welcome of course, but then talk about long-winded:

...drafted by several MDS and SDS activists with criticisms and suggestions from Bruce Rubenstein, Jay Jurie, Penny Rosemont, Mark Rudd, and Devra Morice for MDS, Senia Barragan and Josh Russell for SDS, and a valued friend from War Times, Max Elbaum. Paul Buhle did most of the drafting and rewriting....

We stand at the beginning of a new social movement as well the beginning of a new century. The global overreach of US strategies has created divisions in society unknown since the 1960s, in some ways unknown since the 1890s. Here, a soldier is shot to death after a fourteen-hour domestic standoff because he is driven mad by the prospect of his return to Iraq. There, casualty figures are systematically underreported, the degree of military brutalization and eco-poisoning warfare hidden as effectively, or ineffectively, as in the early years of the US invasion of Southeast Asia. In Washington, powerful forces with billions of dollars behind them (and clearly more at stake) rage against each other, hopeful of protecting Empire but blinded by their past triumphs and unable to find a way out. New SDS, with several thousand members and several hundred chapters, takes the field in the name of a newly rebellious generation, its membership reaching into community colleges and high schools far from the liberal arts limits of the 1960s, and across borders to Canada, Germany, Indonesia, and elsewhere. We also see the beginning of yet a new project: the founding of MDS, the Movement for a Democratic Society.

Can't touch stuff like that, now can ya? You just gotta bottle it for posterity.

What follows that opening florish is a lickety-split dash through the last 45 years or so. Upshot : Uncle won all the marbles -- set up a global rigged casino -- and got to use even "depleted uranium" where and when needed, without much meritoid yowling.

Yes, it's gotten pretty dark on planet earth, but fortunately for civilizations' better angels, 9/11 proved "This was not the end of history." Since that frightful moment, "The truth is out and the subservient backers of American military conquests have grown sheepish and silent." However, "Rather than engage in the sort of introspection that would reveal the role and purposes of U.S. power projected across the globe," the TNC goblins upped the ante, switching to No More Mr Nice Guy mode, i.e. a "strategy that can be neatly encompassed as a Patriot Act for the whole planet."

Mid-voyage sum-up:

On the forty-fifth anniversary of the Port Huron Statement... we once again face a world in which existing modes of thought are treated by the public with contempt. Institutions both old and new seem to be threatened....

The golden age of confident socialism, in the first decade of the twentieth century, can be book-ended with the golden age of capitalism during the final decade of the same century... why then the self-confident predictions of the Marxists and equally self-certain predictions of the 1980s-90s globalizers fail so miserably?

It seems the Wall Street rats, in drafting up their new world order, didn't reckon with "a moiling world of people." This triggers another plunge into Clio's record books, now back to the age of the two Roosevelts, which saved capitalism from itself -- but
Then FDR died... [beginning a] march toward total global hegemony at any cost.... Labor leaders, screenwriters, even career diplomats associated with leftwing causes either abandoned their ideals or found themselves banned and discarded...A new world of atomic bombs and Cadillacs emerged, with light weapons and Chevrolets for small-fry wars and consumers, respectively....

... keen economic analysis updating a century of Marxist predictions.... notes that stagnation and sluggish growth in the old-fashioned categories of GNP and productive capacity have continued as leftwingers long predicted they would.

Now we get a run of why that's good -- no, that's bad -- because despite the GNP secular sluggery,
... remarkably enough, these disappointments have not impeded profit levels, nor brought down the world's leading capitalist power, its center still situated on Wall Street....

No one, neither Keynes nor Milton Friedman, had sufficiently credited the power of seemingly bottomless debt.... [or] predicted the degree of the financiers' takeover, displacing actual production with the concentration of paper [or] the strange contemporary conjunction -- punctuated by the Chinese State-directed bailout of Wall Street....

Perhaps, and this is a grim thought, slow growth and wild speculation are locked together in a downward spiral of widening class differences and ecological decline. Making money steadily displaces the making of anything else, goods or services. Debt creation and the collaterization of debt, the magic instruments of recovery (or pseudo-recovery), demand ever taller towers of cash. These disproportions come, naturally enough, from a vast heightening of exploitation in every respect, now no longer draining only the lives of people on the planet but the earth itself. Lacking a successful challenge, they will, within two generations, have wiped out nearly every species of fish, eviscerated all but the least of rainforests, and set the planet upon a near irreversible course of global warming. The lives of suffering humanity, in the face of these threats, can only be imagined....

But! Be of good cheer! There's the "Crisis of Empire":
The explosion of simultaneous crises, as leading scholar of empire William Appleman Williams noted long ago, stems from the demands for absolute planetary control... [and yet] How much does "the average American" feel the suffering of others in less fortunate places of the planet?
Pretty sweeping, eh? And -- there's more! There's a "A Short History of the Old and Heroic Left." Starting point:
A special moment in the 1840s-60s [which] saw abolitionism, women's rights, and pacifism predict the movements of more than a century later and offered a legitimate counterpart to the emerging class struggles in Europe and elsewhere.... If the Communist Manifesto and the Paris Barricades of 1848 had any single counterpart anywhere, it was surely the Seneca Falls Convention and the declarations of Woman's Rights.
At this point we enter the full Barnum and Bailey world of lefticle struggle. After a Dante to Virgil-like adeiu to Allen Ginsberg, we reach "1962, the year of Port Huron," Like Finnegans Wake, river run back to that mudsill of the left's "Age of Aquarius."

Oh I grow weak -- but read on: such topics await you as "Globalized Labor -- At Home"; such insights as:

In the new century, the situation has changed utterly... new radical hopes become visible on the horizon... a version of egalitarianism, successor to visions of socialism and anarchism.... the day has not passed when working people, as part of a broad coalition (and not likely to be unionized) can make a decisive difference.
Final panorama:

The Society We Face -- Then and Now

Perhaps the work begun at Port Huron will be taken up once again around the world, for the globalization of power, capital and empire surely will globalize the stirrings of conscience and resistance. While the powers that be debate whether the world is dominated by a single superpower (the US position) or is multipolar (the position of the French, the Chinese and others), there is an alternative vision appearing among millions of people who are involved in global justice, peace human rights and environmental movements -- the vision of a future created through participatory democracy

July 10, 2007

Ipse dixit

The scoop from Spooktown:


Former CIA chief analyses global terrorism

Intelligence analyst Michael Scheuer, a 22-year CIA veteran, has been closely watching events involving terrorism around the globe. While in the CIA he anonymously authored two books that were highly critical of how the West has fought the war on terrorism. Mr Scheuer is in Australia for a major security conference and he spoke with Ali Moore.


ALI MOORE: What happens if after a presidential election you have a Democrat and a Democrat controlled Congress?

MICHAEL SCHEUER: You know, I don't think that much will change, really. They may pull out of Iraq, but American politicians across board from left to right are interventionists. They think America needs to be involved anywhere, and the policies at issue here, support for Israel's dependence on foreign oil and support for Arab despots and tyrannies, it's a shared policy in both American parties. So I don't expect there would be a great change.

The sky IS falling -- and not a minute too soon

I know I'm trespassing on Owen's turf here, but since I've been waiting for a real-estate crash for, oh, thirty years or so now, I had a lot of fun this morning reading patrick.net:
US Housing Crash Continues
It's A Terrible Time To Buy

1. Prices still disconnected from fundamentals. House prices are still far beyond any historically known relationship to rents or salaries. Rents are less than half of mortgage payments. Salaries cannot cover mortgages except in the very short term, by using adjustable interest-only loans. Anyone who buys now will suffer losses immediately, and for the next several years at least.

And so on. Man, do I love a really convinced and energetic doomsayer -- and damn, I hope he's right.

Nancy and the dungeon

Delayed flash, from the peace, good jobs, and love-ya-baby Demo House we elected last fall:

42 Democrats ... voted to keep the world's foremost torture school, the School of the Americas, open during a House vote on June 21.

Now that's crossing the aisle for empire! Can you beat it? Our Latin academy of electric blue mangling, saved by the cross-aisle voting of alg those stout donks.

And they were needed, too -- it was a close call; the endsville bill missed passing by 6 votes only.

Note well: several leading house humanists among the missing in action, including Charles Rangel of New York and who else, her worship madame Speaker.

Distinguished professor, or distinguished among professors

Sam Johnson once observed of some noble literary gent, "I had thought to find him a lord among wits; but found, he was only a wit among Lords."

This line came to mind this afternoon when the following item crossed my desk, er, screen:


CUNY Board Names Alterman Distinguished Prof at Brooklyn College

Brooklyn, NY — Called "the most honest and incisive media critic writing today" in the National Catholic Reporter, and author of "the smartest and funniest political journal out there" in the San Francisco Chronicle, Eric Alterman, professor of English at Brooklyn College has been elevated to "Distinguished Professor" by the Board of Trustees at City University of New York (CUNY).

National Catholic Reporter! The San Fran Chronicle! Poor Eric -- what a pawky little portfolio.

Then there's that bit about the Board of Trustees. Now I used to work at CUNY, and the Board of Trustees there are (as most Boards are) a rubberstamp for management. And senior management at CUNY is for all practical purposes a parking lot for former Giuliani cronies, and pilotless drones remote-controlled by the Israel lobby. Some samples:

  • Matthew Goldstein was appointed Chancellor of The City University of New York (CUNY), effective September 1, 1999. ... [he] has served in senior academic and administrative positions for more than 30 years, including as President of Baruch College... Prior to being named Chancellor, he was President of Adelphi University....

    Currently, Dr. Goldstein is a member of the Board of Trustees of the JP Morgan Funds, the Albert Einstein School of Medicine and of the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center. ... Among his honors are ... the 2003 Max Rowe Educational Leadership Award of the American Friends of The Open University of Israel, the 2002 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the 2000 Townsend Harris Medal, and the Jewish National Fund Tree of Life Award.

  • In September 2001 Allan H. Dobrin joined The City University of New York as Senior Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer.

    ... From 1998 to 2001 Mr. Dobrin served as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT), and Chief Information Officer for the City of New York. Mr. Dobrin simultaneously served as Executive Director of the Mayor's Task Force on Special Education....

    Mr. Dobrin served as Chief of Staff to the Deputy Mayor for Education and Human Services from 1994 to 1996 ....

  • Dr. Selma Botman is Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost at The City University of New York. ... Dr. Botman earned her bachelor's degree, cum laude, from Brandeis University; holds a B.Phil in Middle Eastern Studies from Oxford University; and a master's in Middle Eastern Studies and doctorate in History and Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University.

  • Jay Hershenson is Senior Vice Chancellor for University Relations and Secretary of the Board....

    His national and state-wide public service has included: appointment by former President Jimmy Carter to the National Advisory Committee on Education; appointment by former Governor Hugh L. Carey as one of five Commissioners on the Temporary State Commission on the Future of Postsecondary Education and the Task Force on State Aid to Education; appointments by Senator Kenneth P. LaValle and former Assembly Speaker Stanley Fink to the State Consumer Advisory Committee....

    Senior Vice Chanellor Hershenson is a former Vice Chairperson of the Anti-Defamation League Regional New York Board and current Board member. ....

  • Frederick P. Schaffer is General Counsel and Senior Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs of The City University of New York.... Earlier in his career, Mr. Schaffer served as Counsel to Mayor Koch, Chief of Litigation in the Office of the Corporation Counsel of the City of New York and Assistant U.S. Attorney in Manhattan. He also was an Associate Professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

And so on, and so forth. The latest new arrival on the management team is one Iris Weinshall, who was appointed commissioner of the New York City department of transportation, back in '98 or '99, by Giuliani -- and who was then and, as far as I know, is now, married to Senator Chuck Schumer.

O Eric! Well done, thou good and faithful servant.

July 11, 2007

Honest Eric, the Distinguished Professor

We reported yesterday on the elevation of Eric "Cheeky Chappie" Alterman to the Parnassus of distinguished-professorhood. Eric himself is pleased as Punch about this brummagem laurel wreath, and doesn't mind who knows it:

First things first: Congratulations to me on the occasion of my being named a "CUNY Distinguished Professor of English" at Brooklyn College. Professionally speaking, it's just about the best thing that's ever happened to me. (Though it's not in the press release, I am also a Professor of Journalism at the new CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, where I'll be teaching the "journalism of ideas" in the fall.)

"Journalism of ideas"? The "ideas of journalism" would have been closer to the mark. Although in Eric's case, that's a little too uncomplimentary to the journalist's profession -- if it's possible to be too uncomplimentary to the journalist's profession. Good authorities have thought otherwise.

And of course one has to admire Eric's unflagging, relentless self-regard -- he clearly feels that the CUNY press release announcing this canonization wasn't nearly complimentary enough to him.

My favorite response to Alterman's preening came across the wire on, you guessed it, lbo-talk, from the wonderfully poison pen of Dwayne Monroe:


From the Wikipedia entry on Venus:

Venus has the densest atmosphere of all the terrestrial planets, consisting mostly of carbon dioxide... It has become so hot that the earth-like oceans the young Venus is believed to have possessed have totally evaporated, leaving a dusty dry desertscape with many slab-like rocks. Worse still, the evaporated water vapor has dissociated and hydrogen has escaped into interplanetary space.
Well, that's pretty damn hot.

And yet, I imagine a bone crushing, flesh searing afternoon on Venus would be delightfully comfortable in comparison to a minute spent within the superheated plasma blown corridors of Sir Alterman's mind.

July 13, 2007

Nooo! Noooo! Anything but that!

That Harry Reid -- what a scary tough hombre. Watch him deploy the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch:


The strategy pursued by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) is to keep scheduling votes to pressure Republicans, who, in turn, would pressure the White House to change its war policy. "The president hasn't seen the last of these votes," said Reid spokesman Jim Manley. "We'll look forward to additional votes in September."
No, Godfather, no! Not another... vote!! I kiss your hand, Godfather! Have mercy! Have mercy!

Kos joins the big-time sellouts

From my inbox:
Special News Bulletin: YearlyKos Welcomes Another Candidate to Groundbreaking Leadership Forum

The YearlyKos Convention team is pleased to welcome Senator Hillary Clinton to the second annual, historic gathering of the netroots in Chicago this August. Clinton joins Senators Edwards, Obama, Dodd, and Governor Bill Richardson as a participant in the first ever collaborative presidential forum with both a respected blogger(Joan McCarter of DailyKos) and a leading member of the traditional media (Matt Bai of The New York Times Magazine) as moderators, with author and blogger Dr. Jeffrey Feldman facilitating questions from attendees.

A "respected blogger"? Isn't that, like, an oxymoron?

The short history of Kosnikia provides a really brilliant, crisp case-study in the operation of the Democratic Party as a engine of co-optation. Matt Bai! When he shows up, you know the vultures have stopped circling -- they've landed and begun to dine.

July 16, 2007

Everybody loves a WASP

I just saw Lewis Lapham's movie -- called something like "The American Ruling Class." It had an odd complexion and gait to it. As it progressed through tier after tier of ruling-class celebs, I felt his pair of proteges, the two synthetic "Yale youths" on Lew's excellent adventure, were too oddly targeted, even predated upon. The result? I felt like I was sitting too close to old Lewis in a crowded booth at the monkey bars.

Maybe I project here – no, certainly I do -- but yikes, that Clark Clifford-like Grecian Formula coif -- the look of a tanned Long Island sailor -- his overly carved phrasing -- and of course, those eyes, X-raying the fictive sprites he's Virgilling from Wall Street to Hollywood and back, by way of the East Side caverns. Malcolm Forbes came to the back door of my mind.

Let's not pursue that thought. Let's only tee this one drive up for a whack down the fairway: a life in the plush seats makes not a John Knox. The boiling heart of social prophets comes from other, harsher pots -- roaring, raging caste-iron pots. Whereas with dandy guys like Louie here -- can they bite deeply enough into the imperial peach to make its bloody juices run?

Bag it, Bageant

Just read an interview with Joe Batshit, whom Joshua Frank apparently, and disappointingly, takes more seriously than he deserves:


This guy Bageant is a pageant of frauds. Take this sum-up on the prospects for America's pantomime class struggle turning to war mode:

I don't think that will ever happen, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't keep up the fight. I think so-called terrorism and ecocide may tear down the system for us, though.
Political inaction has its square-one excuse when change is probably impossible, doesn't it?

Joe presses on:

Danger has no favorites!
(Having that level of phrase lilt in ya prolly gets you published.)
The good old days of "the teeming masses," that sweat-soaked, beer-farting mob of working class Americans who didn't have a pot to piss in, much less a credit card, but instinctively knew fascism when they saw it, are over
Oh no, there's that old high-60's chestnut again -- the post-scarcity white prole libel!
Seattle in 1999 may not happen in the states again. We have all become an artificial product of corporately "administrated" modern life.
Always, always, when you least expect it, Clio pulls the rug out from under the never-again poundcakers. Or as Joe himself sez: "Life has a funny way of making us eat every word."

July 17, 2007

What's the matter with... Democrats?

Here it is, in a nutshell (read on till you get to the bold face type):


AP Poll: GOP pick is 'none of the above'

And the leading Republican presidential candidate is ... none of the above.

The latest Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that nearly a quarter of Republicans are unwilling to back top-tier hopefuls Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, John McCain or Mitt Romney, and no one candidate has emerged as the clear front-runner among Christian evangelicals.....

In sharp contrast, the Democratic race remains static, with Hillary Rodham Clinton holding a sizable lead over Barack Obama....

"Democrats are reasonably comfortable with the range of choices. The Democratic attitude is that three or four of these guys would be fine," David Redlawsk, a University of Iowa political scientist. "The Republicans don't have that; particularly among the conservatives there's a real split. They just don't see candidates who reflect their interests and who they also view as viable."

Comfortable? Range of choices? We may have to re-think the question of just who is, after all, the Stupid Party.

July 18, 2007

Good Help Is Hard To Find

John Mack, Morgan Stan ley’s chief executive, is to invite senior staff to a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton on Monday, in a pointed endorsement of the Democratic presidential hopeful from an important backer of President George W. Bush in 2004.

Mrs Clinton, a New York senator, is scheduled to appear at the fundraiser on the 41st floor of Morgan Stanley’s headquarters in Times Square.

The minimum donation for the event is $1,000 (€726, £492) per person but Mr Mack urged those attending to give $4,600, the maximum for the 2008 presidential campaign.

Mr Mack surprised many on Wall Street in the spring when he said he and his wife, Christy, would support Mrs Clinton’s 2008 bid. The announcement was made after heavy courting by Mrs Clinton, who raised $27m in the second quarter.

FT article

Senator Clinton has a better understanding of lean manufacturing and the just-in-time logistics of neoliberalism than any of the other candidates. The country has gotten slack and resentful during Bush the Lesser's presidency. What's needed is some managerial expertise to straighten it out. It takes a company town to raise many children and Maggie Thatcher Senator Clinton knows how to do it.

No mas?

I read recently, somewhere, a poll outfit claiming that its scientific sampling indicated a doubling in the numbers of dembo baseniks registering their disapproval and disgust with their party's congo record since the reversal of fortunes last november -- this in just the last couple of months.

Needless to note, such sour reverbs from the people might set the top donk brain bugs to high glow -- but then what can they do? Except rely on more bushwhacking and exposing more elephant plops -- i.e., work the lesser evil angle like the emergency switch on a falling elevator.

Question for a long humid summer's night:

Might we see a possible breakout by hunks of baesniks? Can Cindy S with her cry, "no mas, you cloven-hooved people-fuckers," really spark a collapse of the charade? Can she, with us in tow, bring down that smirking temple of popular mirage upon the heads of the "party" faithful and faithless alike?

This at least I predict with Old Testament vigor: if the party railroads St Hill to the nom, a big bolt will follow.

At least, I'll sure as hell pray to Tinker Belle for it, on even Sundays.

July 19, 2007

Do I dare to eat an impeach?

The sweet smell of impeachment is in the air again, but for what little it's worth, my own sense of the long-run effect of the Nixon impeachery? Negative.

As suggested here earlier on, entertainment value dictates the preference, I suspect.

As Grand Guignol, I'm all for it. I like choppin' lords' heads off. It's great fun, and they don't generally grow back, either. However, lords are easily replaced with new lords.

Now of course, here we're speaking mostly of lawyers not by any means lordly. And it'll be lawyers butchering lawyers. Sounds good, I know -- but -- like any contained sacrificing, any orderly process of execution, any topsy-turvy in a bottle -- the aftertaste is awful. And the next in line, whether cossacks, colonels, or, I must admit, commissars -- the people will have cowed themselves by their own bloodlust. When it's over, even in the best of all upheavals, when a thousand virtual head baskets are running out red spiders' legs -- won't it give us, not only a false sense of accomplishment, but (if we confessed the truth) spiritual exhaustion too?

After Dick's fall, the Ford/Carter era saw progs go stale and ashy of mouth. Frankly, I'd rather see us all chip away at the empire by fucking the corporations directly. Say, through a job site liberation movement.

Better by far we try that, I think, and fail, even -- than try erecting a chopping block on Capitol Hill, and succeed.

July 24, 2007

Paging Dr Demonization

You know They have got ya when all possible directions ahead out there look bad -- real bad.

Example : the present rampantly destructive pattern of global trade flows. Both sets of American elites tout some version of a better world tomorrow through wider-open borders. But we all know -- or at least, judging by the polls, more know than don't – that this win-win parade is more like a nonstop go-everywhere raiding party that leaves huge lose-lose blocks of mortal souls in its wake. And its producers, the mighty transnational corporations, have been at this earth-wide rodeo-ing so long, and with so little durably effective opposition, that any set of progressive policies aimed at more then amelioration look like bath houses for sadistic blood sports. So re-taking the planet from the present management seems not only wildly daunting, but full of hideous choices.

Once you see that every corporate scam has taken hostages, millions of hostages, and has formed millions more human shields around themselves, one ends up realizing any road ahead -- I mean any road that runs really ahead, not just sideways into more of the same old shit, only worse -- will bulldoze huge masses of entirely un-culpable folks. Oceans of innocent blood will be spilt, and sweat poured out to no end, and all inevitably pitted against each other -- such is the harvest of our interdependent civilized integrated world.

Try to find a metric for carving that up, you would-be Benthams and Rawlses! Try weighing existing US wagelings against third world wannabe wagelings; or letting in more undocs, vs. letting more plants run away; or stripping more forests, vs. starving more peons.

These are not necessities that a proper pro-little-people cosmopolite can readily make, without a demonization kit to be used on one or the other set of mortal souls. My point? Ain't got one today. I had a stomach for it yesterday and I'll likely have one tomorrow again. On the world-historical scale, I don't stay Buridan's Ass for long.

But on occasional moments like now -- at the bottom of my mind's basin, the earth's present free-for-all commercial setup just makes me shake my head in grimbletudination.

These are not choices we face here and now -- they're ways to condemn ourselves to spiritual hell. But even as I write these last few words -- some weird Miltonic echo of Satan's up-against-it rally-hoo on that last day in heaven, facing that grotesquely overawing and charismatic Jesus battlewagon, lifts me up and back into the struggle.

July 25, 2007

The Cindy Sheehan Reunion Tour...

... At least Pink Floyd waited a little longer. Mike Flugennock writes:
Looks like Cindy "Peace Mom" Sheehan has already emerged from retirement to take on Nancy "Stepford Wife" Pelosi in an Electoral Steel Cage Death Match guaranteed to excite, inspire, and waste the energy and resources of the US peace "movement" for months on end.

The usual suspects were on hand -- Code Pink, After Downing Street, Hip Hop Caucus, plus the usual gaggle of 9/11 Tr00th freaks and the ubiquitous Free Republic Peanut Gallery. Medea The Movement Pie Taster was present, but conspicuously quiet and low-profile.

Check out the video highlights of the day's event, minus the visit to Conyers' office and subsequent arrests because...well, fuck it. It's not changing anything, and it's not news anymore.

I mean, jayzus, how long do you want to keep on visiting politicians' offices and being blown off and arrested and expecting something different to happen each time? For freakin' ever, I suppose, as it's apparently time for one more round of beseeching the Congress and beseeching the Democrats and beseeching Pelosi and beseeching Conyers and basically beseeching 'til you're blue in the mouth and being ignored...again.

Come on over, baby, whole lotta beseechin' goin' on.

You can't make this stuff up

Bono, HUD Secretary to share stage

U2 front man Bono is everywhere these days.... the rock star plans to attend the Mortgage Bankers Association's convention in Boston this fall....

Bono -- perhaps best known these days for browbeating world leaders into doing something about poverty and AIDS in Africa -- won't be performing at the MBA convention. He'll be delivering a sermon... I mean the keynote address.

Hmmm... suppose he'll touch on the problems in subprime lending? Or just deliver a standard "call to action" pitch to enlist support for his "One Campaign to Make Poverty History"? It's easy to make fun of Bono's sunglasses, but the guy IS practically a saint.

Saint is maybe a little strong, but the guy has definitely become a kind of clergyman. "Sermon" is exactly correct. He's in effect the secular chaplain to a parish of world-plunderers who are willing to sit relatively still for a hour or so under a tepid shower of pious generalities, for the sake of feeling cleansed and shriven afterwards.

The other thing that's a little strong is that line about "browbeating world leaders into doing something about poverty and AIDS in Africa." What exactly has yer man browbeaten these unspecified "world leaders" into doing?

July 26, 2007

Change of pace

Reader responds, just in:

Your excerpt from a Mike Flugennock screed trashing Cindy Sheehan's run for congress elicits the a fairly obvious reply: So what are YOU doing, asshole, besides sitting on your ass in front of a computer and sniping at anyone who TRIES to do something?

It's the same old problem with left or popular resistance movements, especially the more extreme, they don't hate the other side as much as they hate others on their own side who they view as not as "pure" or "extreme" or "knowledgeable" or "smart". It's like the Monty Python movie "Life of Brian" in which all the groups opposed to Romans don't hate the Roman's as much as they detest each other.

Especially in the last 20 years, the left has too many armchair generals (or laptop generals, as Alexander Cockburn updates the term) just as the right does, and I would have to put you in that category too, sometimes, Michael, and I say this as someone who agrees with you about some of your targets (especially the Democrats) and appreciates the wit and good writing in your columns.

I'm not saying anyone is above criticism or satire but it gets a bit much sometimes. It's easy to laugh at Medea Benjamin but what actions is Flugennock (or you) doing to try to change things? I don't think taking a vacation, practicing for your retirement is going to quite do the trick.

[Name withheld]
Soquel, CA

proustian moment

Thus Archy:
insects are not always
going to be bullied
by humanity
some day they will revolt
i am already organizing
a revolutionary society to be
known as the worms turnverein

July 27, 2007

New Age Political Theatre

All cargo entering the US on ships would have to undergo thorough screening at foreign ports under new legislation agreed by key congressional committees - a move attacked on Wednesday by the shipping industry as a recipe for chaos.

The Senate and House homeland security committees reached a deal late Tuesday on implementing recommendations made by the 9/11 commission established to investigate the 2001 terrorist attacks on the US.


James Carafano, a homeland security expert at the Heritage Foundation, agreed, saying the requirement was "political theatre" that would antagonise US allies.

But Democrats painted the legislation as a victory. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House speaker, called it a bill "to make the American people safer."

Story link

It's a sad day for the country when a Heritage Foundation policy dude has more on the ball than the nominal opposition and would-be successors to Bush the Lesser's freak show. But, his dismissal is if anything restrained. This scheme is completely unworkable. The US receives millions of containers per year. Pelosi cannot be taken seriously when she calls it a bill "to make the American people safer." There is no earthly way to accomplish all those new inspections. It's hard to see this anything but yet another fatuous, useless attempt to steal the Republican share of the stupid and paranoid vote. She'd have a better chance of being taken seriously if she attempted a Vanilla Ice imitation on the House floor. That, at least, would have some entertainment value, however tragic.

Mike talks back

Here's Mike Flugennock (http://www.sinkers.org), responding to an earlier post:
I believe it was Bugs Bunny who said: "He don't know me vewwy well, do he?"

Before any further slagging, I suggest this Mr. Withheld check my Web site -- whose URL is easily lifted from here -- and check out the fifteen, count 'em, fifteen years' worth of editorial cartoon posters encrusting the streets of this city (and the nation, to an extent) disturbing the comfortable, shaking 'em up, waking 'em up, changing some minds, inspiring some folks to action. You'll notice nearly all of this work was designed to inspire people to direct action for change independent of governments or politicians, except for my occasional DC Statehood Green and GPUSA work as I've always rooted for them to put the fear of Jah into the DP, if not give them a well-deserved electoral torpedoing -- and because I support Statehood for DC in principle, not that our Congressman and Senator would be of any higher quality than what's on the Hill now (if you've followed DC city politics for any length of time).

Mr/Ms Withheld may also want to check out my nearly ten years' worth of protest photography and video at the DC Indymedia site, dating back to the early IMF/WorldBank actions in 1998 and '99, helping to tell stories that wouldn't otherwise have been told.

That writer may also want to remind him/her/itself of that old saw about how insanity is defined as a continuation of a repeated action with the expectation of a different result. This is basically where we're at with the peace "movement" and every other dissident "movement" in the USA -- we're still buying into that schlock shoveled to us by our freshly-minted, late-twentysomething, straight-outta-the-struggle Civics and Government teachers in the early '70s: We Can Bring About Change By Working Within The System... except nowadays not only is the system irreparably broken, but bastardized and mutated into a wretched monster that lives only to enrich itself through the bullying and domination of nations and people -- a monster which, quite frankly, needs killing and not "working within".

July 28, 2007

What's old is new again: Fragging redivivus

I've never felt much love for football players, so the ox-like Pat Tillman's sad story has drawn few tears -- well, none, really -- from my jaundiced eye. Now, however, it begins to appear that the narrative may be a little richer than we knew. Here's the professional paranoid's take :

New Evidence Clearly Indicates Pat Tillman Was Executed

Army medical examiners concluded Tillman was shot three times in the head from just 10 yards away, no evidence of "friendly fire" damage at scene, Army attorneys congratulated each other on cover-up, Wesley Clark concludes "orders came from the very top" to murder pro-football star because he was about to become an anti-war political icon....

To Clark's credit, or discredit, that's not what he said -- he was talking about the cover-up, not the killing itself. Unusually, however, the bald facts of the case, as reported by AP, are much more interesting than the paranoid fantasies:
New Documents Shed Light On Tillman's Death

(AP) SAN FRANCISCO U.S. Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman's forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former professional football player's death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

"The medical evidence did not match up with the scenario as described," a doctor who examined Tillman's body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.

The doctors — whose names were blacked out — said the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.

.... The military initially told the public and the Tillman family that he had been killed by enemy fire. Only weeks later did the Pentagon acknowledge he was gunned down by fellow Rangers.

Ultimately, the Defense Department did conduct a criminal investigation, and asked Tillman's comrades whether he was disliked by his men and whether they had any reason to believe he was deliberately killed....

In his last words moments before he was killed, Tillman snapped at a panicky comrade under fire to shut up and stop "sniveling."....

It has been widely reported by the AP and others that Spc. Bryan O'Neal, who was at Tillman's side as he was killed, told investigators that Tillman was waving his arms shouting "Cease fire, friendlies, I am Pat (expletive) Tillman, damn it!" again and again.

But the latest documents give a different account from a chaplain who debriefed the entire unit days after Tillman was killed.

The chaplain said O'Neal told him he was hugging the ground at Tillman's side, "crying out to God, 'Help us.' And Tillman says to him, 'Would you shut your (expletive) mouth? God's not going to help you; you need to do something for yourself, you sniveling ...'"

The only improbable element in this version of the story is the idea that Tillman would have used, or even known, the word 'sniveling'.

All in all, sounds like a fragging to me. I don't know why we haven't had more of that. Lord knows we need it.

July 30, 2007

Come one, come all

Okay, I have another room built in my policy house for globalization, trans nat corporations and immigration: in a phrase , better here than there .

Let all bearers of that most peculiar of commodities -- themselves -- come to Amerika like Kafka's figment does.

If "they" come here, then jobs stay at home . And even if we native-born don't fill 'em -- what's the net loss down-side-wise? And we can org 'em into unions if they share our freedoms, whereas back home they might get disappeared for doing such a naughty thing as trying to act collectively.

I say better the exploited wagery of the world unite here to fight the great class fight . Aren't we are all class brothers and sisters? Let's see to it the creators of all value get to capture a bigger share of the benefits of trade . Let's beat the trans-nats to the punch . Let's open the borders to our compadres. Through mobility at least equal to capital's, we have a higher wage to gain .

About July 2007

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

June 2007 is the previous archive.

August 2007 is the next archive.

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

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 3.31