Too Good To Be A Comment Archives

August 10, 2006

Cutting the Gordian knot

scarletwoman writes, in a comment Too Good To Be A Comment:
I've been (happily) reading here for a couple months or so -- I found my way here via the comments section of some progressive blog or another. (Berube?) Anyway, this is my first shot at commenting here.

What's a poor lefty to do?

My personal position -- arrived at after spending several years of plunging full bore into local electoral politics in my home state -- is that electoral politics is of limited utility as far as changing the social/political landscape goes.

This poor lefty (old acid-dropping hippie war protester born in 1949) has arrived at the conclusion that the urgency of our current circumstances requires a MOVEMENT, not the convoluted arcana of electoral politics.

Participation in electoral politics is first and foremost an act of consenting to the approved official frame for political action -- it is an act of assent to the preservation of the status quo.

Change at the level of electoral politics always happens AFTER societal changes are achieved by bottom-up movements. (Look to the Woman's Suffrage and Civil Rights movements for two very stark examples) Participation in electoral politics in its present U.S. incarnation ultimately perpetuates and preserves hierarchical/plutocratic frames. We look for "heroes" to ride in and save the system, instead of doing the really dirty work of evolving the system altogether.

It took me a long time to come to this viewpoint. I've been a lifelong Democratic voter, I never missed an election from the time I was old enough to vote. (I couldn't vote for McCarthy in '68 because they hadn't changed the voting age to 18 yet, but I got to vote for McGovern in '72)

There is SO much more wrong with this country than can be changed by electoral politics absent a highly focused, well-organized movement dedicated to smashing conventional wisdom and the Official Approved Narrative of the corporate media and the militarized Security State.

It's inefficient and ineffective to split your focus. Define the goal and work relentlessly toward it -- don't get distracted by the kubuki theater of electoral politics. Electoral politics, after all, operates strictly in the realm of elite-approved activity.

September 14, 2006

Our Man in Hillaria

John Halle writes:

According to the New York Times, Sept 13, 2006:

"Primary Day came and went with little fanfare for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. She gave no victory party. There was no balloon drop. With the exception of an early-morning appearance to vote for herself in the Democratic primary at a mostly deserted polling station near her home here, Mrs. Clinton barely acknowledged having a challenger at all."

The following victory speech was, however, apparently delivered to a group of core supporters. It was found discarded in the rumpus room of the Senator's Chappaqua residence by a member of the Senator's household staff.

My fellow New Yorkers.

A great man once said that you can't fool all of the people all of the time and we now know exactly how many you can't fool: the number is 17% -- those who voted for my opponent Jonathan Tasini.

I know, and Jonathan knows, that I have spent most of my political career working tirelessly to oppose most of what those voting for me claim to believe in.

It is not only my continuing support for the Iraq war, even while over 70% of my constituents oppose it.

That's just the beginning.

I support the Israeli invasion of Lebanon; most of you oppose it as well as the massive human rights violations, environmental assaults and the war crimes enacted by the Isaeli defense forces.

Unlike you, I am a believer in military force as a first rather than a last resort. My enthusiasm for weapons system, even useless boondoggles like Star Wars, has no bounds. I routinely signed off on bloated defense budgets, even before the "war on terror" provided cover for a new generation of Democratic hawks and their paymasters in the defense industries.

Some Johnny-come-latelies to the cause like Chicago Mayor Dick Daley would have you believe they are lone voices in the wilderness when it comes to defending the rights of corporations to prey on folks like you.

Jonathan and I know better. I was there at the beginning -- serving on the Walmart Corporate Board when I was Arkansas First Lady. And I have continued as their faithful servant ramming through free trade pacts, doing nothing to prevent the continuing slide of unions into irrelevance while real wages have declined and inequality has skyrocketed.

My main achievement during my husband's years at the White House was to have scuttled all hope for a rational national health care system for a generation.

Yes, many of you will spend more of your pay check for worse care now and in the future, but not to worry.

I have an outstanding benefits package.

Do you have a problem with that?

83% of you say you don't.

For civil libertarians who have convinced themselves I am a faithful ally, I offer you the flag burning amendment and the greatest assault on civil liberties in recent history: the USA Patriot Act.

For African Americans, I give you personal responsibility and freedom, the freedom to leave your children unattended at home while you try to negotiate the mandatory work requirements of welfare reform. Over one million of you also have the freedom to rot in prison after being victimized by the drug war which I continue to support.

And for my core constituency: women have consoled themselves with the assurance that at least she won't play footsie with the zealots of the reiligious right. To you I present my new-found kind words for faith-based education, abstinence-only and my description of abortion as "a sad and tragic choice."

In short, my supporters want peace. I give them war. My supporters want democracy. I give them plutocracy. You want fairness, I give you a stacked deck.

Or, to put it slightly differently, I serve you a stew laced with arsenic and you ask for a second helping. I pee on your leg and you kiss my ring.

And so, as your nominee for Senator I come before you today to accept your nomination and your continuing support. And in so doing I offer you one word which will define my agenda: more.

More contributions from Ruppert Murdoch offered in exchange for my support of more media consolidation and more giveaways to the media conglomerates.

More contributions from K street lobbying firms and more obstacles thrown in the way of campaign finance reform. More carbon emissions resulting from increased coal power generation-- which I am on record as supporting.

More exemptions of the automotive industry from CAFE standards resulting in more greenhouse emissions and more global warming.

More troops to Iraq and, when the time is right, more troops to Iran and the middle east.

More attacks on New Deal programs under the guise of personal responsibility.

And in closing -- a final word to my distinguished opponent, Jonathan Tasini and his supporters:

What are you going to do about it, punk?

I am pleased to accept your nomination as the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate from the great state of New York!

August 4, 2007

Rejoining the herd: Michael Moore, case in point

Mike Flugennock writes:
Y'know, when, after eight years of the Clintonoids, a bunch of pissed-off people got fed up with the Democrats and supported Nader's insurgent candidacy (as opposed to Kucinich's "insurgent" candidacy), Michael Moore was one of them, which tickled the living shit out of me after having seen "Roger & Me" and faithfully watched and taped a boatload of his "TV Nation" episodes -- more tickled, in fact, than when Phil Donahue came out for Nader.

So, we all remember the reactions of most Democraps and Liberals then -- looking back, much like the reaction of the USA at large right after 9/11 -- a reaction I could only describe as a sort of mass delusion, or mass psychosis, or just plain raw fear, or just a big mash-up of all three. You'd confront any Democrap or Liberal with your support for Nader and the Greens, citing planks from a platform that pretty much sounded like any decent DP platform from 25, 30 years before, and their faces would damn near contort, almost as if they'd seen a ghost, while they shrieked at you about abortion rights and the Supreme Court and womens' college sports and how the Greens were "stealing votes" from the know, like they were friggin' psychotic, man, like Pod People or something.

So, anyway...that November, last thing before the DW and I voted for Nader and scooted to Jamaica (we'd assumed the election circus would be over either way and we'd have some peace by then), I shot the Nader/Green "super rally" at DC's MCI/Verizon/Whatever Arena (renamed Emma Goldman Arena for the event) for a newsreel at the IMC -- and I recall Moore belting out a fabulous pile of speechifying about choices and democracy and courage and all that shit in his introduction of Nader to the rally. I also recall Moore about three, three and a half years later publishing his apology to the Democratic Party. Yeah, that's right, he friggin' apologized to that bunch of whiners -- remember that bullshit?

But, yeah...if, after his apology to the DP, I wasn't certain enough that Michael Moore himself had been seized by the mass delusion/psychosis/ fear/Kool-Aid/whatever, there came the endorsement of Wesley Goddamn' Clark, f'crissakes... yeah, that Wesley Clark, General Wesley "Maximum Violence" Clark, of Jugoslavian civilian ass-stomping fame. General Wesley Clark, old Bubba Clinton flunkie.

What really set my jaw to plummeting, though, was Moore's reasoning behind it -- something about our needing a General of better integrity than the Generals running the war in Iraq, who could beat Bush... I mean, really, really, really fucked up, desperate kind of reasoning, so totally wrapped up in Beating Bush that he didn't understand what the real problem was.

I think F911 was a helluva picture, one that needed to be made, and I'm glad he's doing what he's doing and that it's hugely popular and that he's making the fascist punditocracy fume and sputter and all, but I just don't feel like I can trust the sonofabitch's like he talks a tough game about the DP, but you know that when shit gets really rough, he's going to run back to them.

December 5, 2007

Owen on the General Will

(Originally posted, as a comment, by Owen Paine, but too good to forget.

Owen is notoriously an admirer of the eloquent and laconic Archy, and his characteristic mode of presentation has been respectfully preserved. -- Editor)

"what if the People are too stupid to know their own best interests?"

do you know your "own best interests"?

i doubt i do

aren't best interests forever
over the horizon of social thought?

we can
only know what has been discovered
by our collective actions, right?

in fact
i hold the possibilities
in our ignorance of what's best for us
to be ultimately
we the People's favor

my piss off credo:

in the sublime notion
of people's gubmint
we have
the only sound application
of white america's
favorite moral imperative

"take responsibility"

taken itself
to its own highest station
it actually has social application
that is to say
at the level of the whole people
the wholesomeness
of this imperative
is acutely and self evidently true

the people ever and always
by their collective actions
and or inactions
self determining

whether they
know it or not
like it or not
fear it or not

whether they back slide
or not
along the way
turn in circles
run from their destiny
a drunk from pink elephants

they... we...
are bound to reach eden eventually
we just can't stop it from happening
we got no exit from our "quest"
even if
we must for a very very long spell
and then some
pay for the loops and knottings
in our passage
with nasty installments of blood
and pain
and constant ground rent of misery

have faith
in the one thing
we are familiar with
that's actually
worthy of our faith

the people

we are our own
gods and avatars
devils dickheads and dolls

always almighty
right or wrong
active marching mode
or on our knees
in passive worship of our illusions

have hope
in the workings of endless time

we will discover and rediscover
every one of our possibilities
over and over
in the fullness of time
our bataan march
thru incarnations
of bondage and liberation
will so much wise us up
that i
owen claymore paine
enough in fact in our capacity
for self rule
that eventually
our millenia of class folly
will serve as a jest
among our distant
eloi offspring

June 26, 2008

On the brighter side

A comment Too Good To Be A Comment showed up on an earlier entry just now:
I had a pleasing thought the other day.

Barack Obama's candidacy may be the thing that ends the surefire support of the Democrats among Black people.

Not among all of them, certainly, but maybe there will be enough peeling away from the party to make things difficult for the lesser head of Orthrus. Now that we actually have a Black candidate, and he's being forced to turn his back on his own people, treat them with scorn, and spit upon (at least half) his heritage, many may wake up to the fact that the Democrats are responsible for this state of affairs. That they're just taking the Black vote for granted, so Black people can be treated with as much derision as is needed to win back some of those who yearn for the white-hooded days of the Democratic Party's past.

The disgust and discontent could be made more palpable by the fact that nobody can excuse it as the candidate's own private white supremacism coming out, as they might with a white Democratic nominee. It will be clear that this is the structural white supremacism of the Democratic Party.

October 14, 2008

The hell with standards

A recent comment on an earlier post raises some questions that deserve above-the-fold treatment. I had written about the silliness of lefties getting worked up about The National Enquirer throwing muck (think of that!) at Frank Marshall Davis, an early mentor of Obama's. Djur replied, in part:

... The question of whether "the Left" should promote this attack on Frank Marshall Davis is completely distinct from whether Obama deserves to be protected (which he doesn't).

For one thing, regardless of whether the allegations are true, the idea that Obama's youthful association with this man can be used to attack him is odious. I don't consider myself squeamish about politics, but expanding guilt by association to that point has dire consequences....

This evokes a number of thoughts. First among them: opposing the National Enquirer -- or treating it as anything but a louche carnival attraction -- falls into the category of futile acts that an Irish friend of mine warned me against years ago: "Nivir wrrestle with a pig. Yez both get dirrty, but the pig enjoys it."

All right, this is a little frivolous, and Djur is being serious. Let me try a different tack.

The Enquirer is prominent among the ancestral enemies of well-meaning, high-minded, intelligent, educated liberal folks. I have a kind of instinctive reluctance to join in any tut-tutting against these bogeymen. It's too much like joining forces with the liberals -- in defense of standards, or objectivity, or civil society, or good taste, or something else at least as illusory as the space aliens who populate the Enquirer's pages.

One grants too much, I think, to the bien-pensanterie, in deigning even to deplore the Enquirer.

The high-minded need a low-life to despise. But personally, I despise the whole sick symbiotic mutually self-serving charade: faux-populist Bronx cheers from the Enquirer, and expressions of pious horror from folks with more educated tastes. Everybody comes away smiling from these encounters: the Enquirer because it has sold papers, and the noblesse de robe because they have shown what superior souls they are.

Then there's the question of consequences. Djur writes: "expanding guilt by association to that point has dire consequences."

No doubt. But we've been living with these "dire consequences" for generations. Guilt by association is how American politics works. Just a couple of days ago I put up a post about the Obama campaign's guilt-by association approach to Muslim organizations. In this context, the Enquirer's mudslinging looked a lot to me like poetic justice.

And granted that the consequences are "dire" -- granted that we all wish our society ran on a different basis -- what are we Lefties supposed to do about it? Well, we might reason, the Day of Jubilo appears to be some ways off, so perhaps in the meantime we should tidy up our cell and try to step on some of the biggest roaches. Like the National Enquirer.

The problems with this argument, to my mind, are two. First, I don't believe in tidying up the cell. I'm kinda with those IRA lads at Long Kesh who decorated their cells with their feces. (At least in principle -- I'm fairly cleanly in private life.)

Second, though, and perhaps less controversial: who, after all, are the biggest roaches? I would argue that the National Enquirer is a roach so diminutive that you need a microscope to see it -- unless you're on board with the liberals and their dictatorship of standards.

Naah, if you ask me, the New York Times is the biggest roach. That's the one to take a whack at, whenever you get the chance. The Times knows the secret of misinforming and deluding people who think, by virtue of their superior qualities of mind and their expensive first-class educations, that they can't be hoodwinked. Compared to the damage the Times does, the National Enquirer is very small beer indeed.

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