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October 22, 2005

The power of prayer

After posting an earlier comment about poor Freddy Ferrer's pro-forma New York mayoral campaign, I found myself trying to remember whether Freddy had ever found any issue on which to differentiate himelf from the Bloomberg administration. Finally I remembered one: the world-historical Pay to Pray fracas.

Sunday parking was always free in New York -- one of many outrageous subsidies to drivers, who constitute a minority of New Yorkers -- until 2002. In that year, a decree went forth from Mike Bloomberg to the effect that Sunday parking would henceforth cost as much as parking on Jehovah's six workdays. This is actually one of the very few constructive things Bloomie has done.

Enter the City Council, in defense of... religion. (I'll be back in just a sec, when this little paroxysm of laughter passes.)

--There, that's better. The Council, apprently concerned that our municipal government's hard-earned reputation for comprehensive idiocy might be marred by a single random act of good sense, passed a bill restoring the Sunday-parking SUV subsidy, and Bloomie vetoed it.

Well, there are no flies on Freddy Ferrer. He seen his opportunity, and he took it. No way could he disagree with Iron Mike on anything substantive. But Sunday parking, well, talk about a hot button.

So the most Christian knight Don Fernando saddled up Rocinante and rode forth against the Sunday parking rule, armed with the immortal phrase "pay to pray."

This is quite perfect, really. The Democrats would like to connect with "people of faith," or so we're told. Now there are lots of things that people of faith are supposed to be interested in -- feeding the hungry, for example, and setting the captive free. But those are a little problematic. Driving to church, though -- now there, if you like, is a twofer.


November 2, 2005

Democrats, on sale at Wal-Mart

Remember the CAFTA yellow dogs?

Well, meet the Wal-Mart 22: the House Democrats that voted against an amendment to bar any spending of money by the Department of Labor to implement the infamous deal the department made with Wal-Mart last February, giving the bastards advance notice of any child-labor inspections of Wal-Mart operations.

Need I say more?

See if any of your favorites are among the batch. I bet they are:

Marion Berry (AR)
Sanford Bishop (GA)
Dan Boren (OK)
G. K. Butterfield(NC)
James Clyburn (SC)
Bud Cramer (AL)
Henry Cuellar(TX)
Artur Davis (AL)
Diana DeGette (CO)
Harold Ford(TN)
Charles Gonzalez (TX)
Ron Kind (WI)
Jim Matheson(UT)
Dennis Moore (KS)
Mike Ross (AR)
John Salazar (CO)
Vic Snyder (AR)
John Tanner (TN)
Mike Thompson (CA)
Bennie Thompson (MS)
Ed Towns (NY)
Al Wynn (MD).


November 12, 2005

Dems provide edge; dog bites man

It's the old story: five Democratic senators -- including, of course, unspeakable Joseph Lieberman -- provided the margin of victory for an initiative to deny the protection (such as it is) of US courts to kidnapees held in the American military torture center at Guantanamo Bay. Crossing the aisle with Joe on this one were dependable Mary Landrieu of Louisiana (shown here with a child who seems appropriately frightened), plus three third-string players: Nelson of Nebraska, Conrad of North Dakota, and Wyden of Oregon.

It's an interesting pattern, worthy of analysis, how right-wing Democrats consistently provide the "edge" for measures like this. How do they get away with it, time after time? And why do people who hate measures like this -- people who consider this sort of thing deeply evil -- stay in the same party with repeat-offender war criminals like Lieberman and Landrieu? This mystery lies at the heart of how the American political system works. It's like an ingenious little bit of engineering -- an escapement, maybe, or a planetary gear -- that solves the most fundamental design problem of some complex machine.

The problem, as I see it, is how to make sure that people who aren't fully on board with imperial hubris and plutocrat rule keep playing the political game, but never win anything substantive. You want 'em in the system, pushing that rock uphill, trying to get liberals into Congress and ex-liberals into the White House; but you want to ensure that they never reach the summit and change anything important.

This is the Democratic Party's raison d'etre. And shuttlecock aisle-crossers like Lieberman are the crucial little bit of engineering that keeps it working according to spec. Any time the less enthusiastic imperialists get numerous enough, or nervous enough, to give the emperor a thumbs-down, the shuttlecocks do their thing. It's like two fairly evenly matched basketball teams -- the Reds and the Blues, let's call 'em -- but a couple of guys on the Blue team will always shoot a basket or two for the Reds whenever the Red coach wants 'em to.

Of course, the great question is, why do the other Blues stay on the same team with these guys?

Well, it wouldn't happen in basketball.


November 17, 2005

Wang is watching

(Wang, who is away on secret business at an undisclosed secure location, texted the following from his cell phone, aided by his secretary Archy -- yes, a great-great-great-grandson of that Archy.)


attention
  straying   donkeys of the house

LISTEN UP CAREFULLY


cause im
only gonna  warn u once

     WANG THE MERCILESS AND HIS POSSE
                     ARE
                              IN TRACK DOWN MODE

    the hunt is on

any one of u pissants
  caught  aiding and abetting
  this himmlerian nonsense
                             called..... the patriot act

by whatever means  at all

by  votes or non votes

by log rolls or sweet rolls

be on guard
don't even touch that cops bible

or

i will  sniff u out

i will throw the klieg lights upon u

i will tack ur vile  squirrel's  hide

to the tallest cell tower in your district

is this clear enough???


if u  lift even the tinier of ur two  pinkies
to further the life of this   criminal  flash back

i will see to it u are destroyed

if u so much
as nod
in the direction
of these foul cookeries
these spurious
spectral menaces

i will find u out

and believe me
                u spongelike freaks
   before im done with u
         i will
make horns grow out of ur skull

  heed me

or
                          BE DAMNED


November 19, 2005

Man of the hour

Every once in a great while just the right guy stands up and says...

"The show's over, guys. "

That's John Murtha this week. Listen to these phrases out of an old bemedaled vet-hawk's mouth:

" I just spoke to the Democratic Caucus and told them my feelings about the Iraq war... not going as advertised... a flawed policy wrapped in illusion.... The American public is way ahead of the members of Congress ... our troops have done all they can ..."

But here's where he really strikes the heavy telling blows, opening with this line:

"Our military is suffering," He proceeds to peel out this knuckly Whitmanesque series of suffering, mutilation, butchery -- hard in-the-face stuff.

One can only glare at chicken hawks like Cheney with a mortal fury. after receiving such a salvo.

"I've been visiting our wounded troops at Bethesda and Walter Reed almost every week since the beginning of the war...." boom boom boom.

And then this for the Rummy-type neo-clam civilian pin pushers:

" Many say the Army's broken... Some of our troops are on their third deployment... Recruitment is down ... the military's lowered its standards.... They expect to take 20 percent Category 4, which they said they'd never take ... forced to do that, to try to meet a reduced quota."

His plan :

"Turn Iraq over to the Iraqis. .... before the Iraqi elections, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice. ... The United States will immediately redeploy -- immediately redeploy. No schedule which can be changed, nothing that's controlled by the Iraqis... an immediate redeployment of our American forces."

And this final pearl:

"All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free -- free from a United States occupation... It's time to bring the troops home."

Quite a moment he created, this aged puffy dough-boy Tip O'Neill figure standing up at the podium, looking bleary-eyed, looking like bathos and old bilge, weary at last with the hackery of it all after what, thirty years in Congress? -- this now nearly flightless bemedaled old VFW stager.

And yet, behold what emerged -- and with a dogged sidewalk majesty. Clio needed him, fellahs. Maybe for only this one moment, but there he was ... very, very powerful indeed.


Still gun-shy

Wang got it very right about John Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who has earned himself an honorable niche in history by being the first member of either house of Congress to call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king, and amid a flock of squalid poltroons like the US Congress, Murtha's willingness to stand up all by his lonesome and say what a lot of Americans have been saying for a long time makes him an honest-to-God hero.

What is most delightful is that this unlikely paladin has outflanked all the Great White Hopes in the "progressive" camp of the Democratic Party: the Barak Obamas, the Russel Feingolds.

Murtha's courage and common sense are still in short supply among his colleagues: only two other Democrats joined him, and his resolution was defeated 403-3.


November 22, 2005

Right on, Dick

Dick Cheney is accusing the Democrats of "shameless revisionism" for claiming they were misled into the Iraq war. And of course he's absolutely right.

Go get 'em, Dick! Don't let 'em off the hook! These creeps were right there with you going into this, and they should go down with you. Get 'em in a death grip and don't let 'em go until you're all in the Dumpster together.


Fighting Democrats: hunkered in their foxholes

So where are all these "fighting Democrats" we were hearing so much about last month, now that Murtha needs some of his old comrades-in-arms to back him up?

Most of 'em seem to be MIA. -- Well, Paul Hackett has boldly demanded an apology from the admittedly scary Jean Schmidt for calling Murtha a coward. It would have been bolder, of course, if he'd been in the same room with her at the time, as Murtha was.

What would be really bold would be if they joined Murtha in his call for prompt withdrawal. But it seems that's asking a little too much for these ballsy dudes. Hackett has apparently mumbled something about how ill-advised "arbitrary deadlines" are.

Maybe all the earnest democratic-party Eloi who are hoping so much from Hackett et al. should give their guys an arbitrary deadline or two. Like, line up with Murtha by this time tomorrow or we're outta here.


November 28, 2005

Murtha will out

The DLC donkey hawks, behind the Achillean spear charge of that evil sizzler Nancy Pelosi, are trying to make Murtha's "redeploy the troops" resolution (HJ 73) disappear quietly.

It's been "referred to committee" -- and not one, but two committees: International Relations and Armed Services -- "for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker."

Imagine that -- Denny Hastert gets to play guardian to this resolution.

Nice play, Nancy.


By the way, the bill now has 13 cosponsors. Credit where it's (finally!) due -- here they are:
  • Becerra, Xavier [CA-31]
  • Capuano, Michael E. [MA-8]
  • Doyle, Michael F. [PA-14]
  • Holt, Rush D. [NJ-12]
  • Jackson-Lee, Sheila [TX-18]
  • Lee, Barbara [CA-9]
  • Lofgren, Zoe [CA-16]
  • McGovern, James P. [MA-3]
  • McNulty, Michael R. [NY-21]
  • Moran, James P. [VA-8]
  • Rangel, Charles B. [NY-15]
  • Solis, Hilda L. [CA-32]
  • Weiner, Anthony D. [NY-9]

December 9, 2005

A terrible suspicion begins to dawn...

Gary Hart on the New Hampshire primary:
"One would have to be more cynical than I to believe there are those in power in my party who do not want to see people like me have a chance, people who have not already made their deals with interest groups and powerful contributors, people who really do have new ideas and fresh approaches , and perhaps even uncorrupted leadership to offer.

I choose not to believe this. But if the Democratic Party puts the big states ahead of New Hampshire, I, and a lot of other people, may have to reconsider."

"Reconsider?!"

Go back to sleep, you old ham.

It's a party; it has a line

Andrew Cockburn, over at Counterpunch, has a fine piece chawing delightfully on one of my personal favorites, Rahm Emmanuel:
"As Republicans contemplate political ruin in next year's election, they can take solace in the fact that, if defeated, their replacements may not differ in any meaningful way on important issues of the day... That's the hope and dream of Democratic apparatchik Rahm Emmanuel and the corporate toadies he represents."
Andrew's case in point: the '06 race to succeed Henry "Mister" Hyde in Chicago's 6th District. Last time around, the Democratic nominee, Christine Cegalis, "got 44% of the vote against the sixteen-term Hyde, despite being outspent $700,000 to $160,000."

So obviously in '06 she runs again and wins, right?

Wrong. Cegalis has made the mistake of calling for troop withdrawal from Iraq. So Rahm wants a female Iraq veteran, Tammy Duckworth, who, as Andrew says, "Queried by a Chicago Sun Times columnist for her opinion on the war, replied, 'There's good and bad in everything'."

See, unlike Cegalis, Duckworth knows the party line -- and all you 'progressive' wishful thinkers out there, referring to the Democratic Party as 'us', need to know that. Rahm himself put it best: "At the right time we will have a position."

Andrew also reminds us Rahm was the NAFTA quarterback in '93, back in those dear Clinton years for which we're supposed to feel such nostalgia. After that, and before he replaced that old thief Dan Rostenkowski in the House, his patrons parked him in a "well-upholstered" job in a Chicago bank.

Dems dither, Bush rebounds

Latest AP poll shows Bush's approval ratings rebounding; back up to 42% from 37% last month. Stronger among men, catholics, and white folks than elsewhere, not surprisingly.

Part of this, of course, is just dead-cat bounce -- people who were otherwise inclined to be behind him got shook up by the events of the late summer and early fall, and now that things have settled down they're feeling like maybe they overrreacted a little.

But the fact that they got shook shows they're shakable, and the fact that they didn't stay shook can be credited, I think, to the Democratic party, which with a few rare and honorable exceptions, refused to take advantage of the opportunity they were offered. What we got from most of them was the usual lame, mumbled yes-butnik pabulum. Now the train may be leaving the station, with the Dems standing rather foolishly on the platform -- as has been their historic role, save for a few short intervals, since they were on the losing side in the Civil War.


December 12, 2005

Last night I had the strangest dream

"I completely disagree with Mr. Lieberman," I heard my sweetheart Nan Pelosi say at a news conference. It must have made quite an impression, because I woke up the next morning at 3 AM, shouting "Let it ring, baby! Throw him the fuck to the elephants!"

I switched on the bedside lamp and took a thoughtful pull from the bottle of Jack Daniels I keep ready to hand for these Democrat dreams . As my mind slowly cleared, the thought occurred to me that if Nan really wanted to bat cleanup, she'd start with her own House party, and cancel the Rahm and Steny show.

Couldn't go back to sleep, so I started working on a L'Infame post appealing to my girl to do just that. Not quite awake yet, you see.

Of course as the mists cleared I realized the futility of any such appeal. But I decided to go ahead.

What sense can there be in making impossible demands like that?

Well, maybe the clear sound of the word "impossible" shot back at us in high dudgeon is itself enough reason. Maybe one too many stony dismissals can finally shatter a few stained glass illusions. "At long last is this all they are..... why in heaven's name am I putting up with this?"

So with such epiphanies in mind we will continue to call on the leaders of the party of lesser venality to do the right thing -- knowing all along we'll hear back the chorus of that old Perry Como favorite "It's just impossible ...."


December 30, 2005

You can't make this stuff up

Editor's note: We are delighted to welcome Lenni Brenner as a contributor to the site.
I know everyone has been breathlessly following Michael Jackson as he moved into the Arab world & is reported to be anti-Jewish. But that is the story after the story.

In 2003, I debated Shmuley Botech, a NY Lubavicher Orthodox rabbi, on WWRL-AM radio's "Peter and Shmuely Show". (Peter Noel is a Black journalist.) A historian, I read anything by people I've encountered. Every so often I discover something that belongs out there in front of the world public.

Shmuley's "Madonna: Mother of Modern Monotheism?," in New York's 10/28/05 Jewish Week, is mostly about her. He explains that

"the fact that Judaism is becoming increasingly dependent on vulgar pop cultural icons to make it appeal to the masses is a sign of desperation rather than achievement, failure rather than success."

Then he made a confession:

"It is no secret that I spent two years in friendship with Michael Jackson. To be sure, we worked together to inspire parents to prioritize their children, and Michael even came with me to meet Ariel Sharon and stand up for Israel at a time when few others would. But my embarrassment comes not from Michael's subsequent arrest (and exoneration), but from my insecurity in believing that the Jewish faith needed a celebrity spokesman in order to garner mainstream credibility."
Their meeting took place in NY. I know nothing about it. Unless Shmuely or these 2 characters wants to tell us about it, its up to our imaginations to fill in the blanks. Don't wait. Are you the Shakespeare of your time? Prove it! I challenge readers to come up with the funniest version of their conversation.

I'll leave you with this for starters.


ACT I: Scene 1:

Sharon:

Michael! You can't imagine what a pleasure it is for me to meet you. I've been your greatest fan for years.

Jackson:

Ariel, you took the words right out of my mouth!


That these 2 characters really did meet is proof, once & for all & forever, of the validity of Marxism. Groucho got it right.

December 31, 2005

Breakin' out of the blogsphere

Yours truly has a longish piece at onlinejournal.com today. With characteristic perversity, I find a lot to like in the one-party state.

January 4, 2006

If you want a thing done right...

People are always asking us, Well, if you don't work through the Democratic Party, what's a Lefty to do instead?

As always, California shows the way: take an end run around the electoral con-game and build a state ballot proposition movement, or join one you agree with -- right where you live.

Think globally but act directly. Isn't that a better use of your money and time and energy than trying to make lemonade out of... Rahm Emanuel?


Sharon to escape execution

Apparently Ariel Sharon, who to the surprise of no one turns out to have a hole in his heart, will quite undeservedly die in bed fairly soon. Many of us will be glad to see the last of this Jabba the Hutt figure, but it would have been so much more satisfying to see him hanged.

Will we fly the flag at half-mast? Certainly Congress will have to suspend its august deliberations so that a bipartisan pilgrimage can be made to watch the porky mass murderer get planted in a double-wide grave. Congress out of session, Sharon in drerd -- on balance, what's not to like?


Ed in Espagna, mille e tre

The wishful thinkers over at Daily Kos are doing their best to sustain what you might call the Colonel Klink line:
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Democratic leader in the Senate, and Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., were also among recipients of large contributions from tribes represented by Abramoff. Asked about Abramoff, Reid told the Las Vegas Sun, "I don't know him. I don't want to know him. I know nothing about it other than what I read in the newspaper. ... This is a Republican scandal."
Sorry, Harry, and sorry, Kos, no it's not. Abramoff spread his bribes around pretty well -- you might call it bipartisanship, actually. According to the Center for Responsive Government, from the 2000 electoral cycle through the current runup to '06, Abramoff and his docile clients gave $1,541,673 to various Democrats and $2,886,088 to Republicans To be sure, this is a 35/65 split in the Republicans' favor, but you have adjust for the fact that Democrats come a lot cheaper than Republicans -- I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, as opposed to The High-Price Spread.

Amusingly, the New York Times, which is a kind of large, slow-moving Kosnik at heart, also did its best to cover up the incestuous nakedness of the Democratic Noah. Here is the Times' graph of Abramoff's largesse, and here for comparison is the Center For Responsive Government's.

Among the larger Demo snouts at the Abramoff trough were my own dear Charlie Rangel ($36,000), the aforementioned Harry Reid ($30,000), Tom Daschle ($26,500) , and, delightfully, Steny Hoyer ($17,500). Barney Frank got $11,000, Nancy Pelosi was a comparatively small fry at $3,000.

Fourth on the list, however, was none other than the our friend Rahm Emanuel's Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, at $354,700. The Democratic National Committee received a comparative pittance of $65,720, putting it eighth on the list.

I hope they take very good care of Abramoff, and keep his singing voice in top condition. There'll be fun, fun, fun for all of us on this one.


January 7, 2006

Progressive? Frustrated? Here's your chance

We're hearing some nice noises on the minimum wage.

Seems Senator Kennedy will participate in a "Living Wage Days" event on Monday, January 16 at the United First Parish Church Unitarian in scenic Quincy, Mass.

Ted thinks min wage workers need a raise. Last month, at a holiday news conference, thus Ted:

"In this the wealthiest nation on earth, no one who works for a living should have to live in poverty."

" How can any of us in good conscience enjoy our own high standard of living, when it is built on the backs of underpaid workers?"

Why MLK day? Well, thus Martin:
"There is nothing but a lack of social vision to prevent us from paying an adequate wage to every American worker ... whether he is a hospital worker, laundry worker, maid, or day laborer."
King wrote those lines in late '67, when the federal minimum wage was worth 3.50 an hour more, more, yes mooooooooooore, than it's worth today. To get back to that same level of "lack of vision" King deplored, we would need to raise the min from its present $5.15 to $9.10; and to reach Dr. King's goal of "total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty" we'll need to do a hell of a lot more than get back to where he stood. In fact, we'd need about a $12.50 min.

Do you hear any Democrats calling for that?

Oh by the way: this information comes courtesy of the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign, active both at the national level and in a number of states including Ohio, Michigan, Arizona, West Virginia and Arkansas. So if you're looking for a constructive outlet for your political energies, why not join 'em? It would feel a lot better than working to elect some Democrat In Camo, or whatever the buzzword-du-jour is.

And while you're up and at 'em, suggest indexing the Federal minimum, so we don't have to wait on the patronage of a Ted to start back along the road to where we were when Bobby was still alive.


Waiting for Sharon

Latest bulletin from the ample Sharon bedside:
"The key thing certainly politically is whether or not he is mentally incapacitated by these strokes. They will only know that when they bring him out of this induced coma and see what kind of reactions they see from him," CTV's Tom Kennedy reported from Jerusalem, where he is watching developments.
If he starts groping for his sidearm when he wakes up, we'll know he's OK. Watch from a safe distance, Tom.


January 9, 2006

Money where their mouth is

So far, only eight Democratic members of Congress have cosponsored Rep. Charles Conyers' resolution
"Creating a select committee to investigate the Administration's intent to go to war before congressional authorization, manipulation of pre-war intelligence, encouraging and countenancing torture, retaliating against critics, and to make recommendations regarding grounds for possible impeachment."
What, you never heard about this bill? Your Congressman hasn't written to you proclaiming his support for it?

Seems like it ought to be an easy demand to expect a pledge out of any Dem running for election, or re-election to the House this November: "I will vote for Conyers' bill" -- and If they're already in the House, demand that they co-sponsor it.

Now.

Or else.


Orthrus, mascot of the two-party system

Editor's note: This bulletin from Brother Paine transcribed by Archy.


orthrian politics
or
the two party system exposed

call me orthrus:

i'm a dog with two heads
one left and one right

seperate and
         unequal
but both attached
  to a single  body
    and reflecting the  conflicting moods
                             of  a single  soul

among other nice features
of  working thru  two heads

i obviously

have at all times
   two mugs to work with

two expressions to make
and
two mouths to speak

one mug can be  clean

while the other's dirty

one indignant while the other's  defiant

u get my gimmick

mix in the k street project

and
     well....

           my soul can dirempt over this

and run against itself
and drive itself from power

and and and .... 

Continue reading "Orthrus, mascot of the two-party system" »

January 15, 2006

If his lips are moving...

That Bill Clinton: he can't open his mouth without telling a lie. Man will even lie in the pulpit. At Gene McCarthy's memorial service, Bill delivered -- no doubt with that sickly religious-caterpillar face of his -- this whopper:
''It all started when Gene McCarthy was willing to stand alone and turn the tide of history.''
Huh? The anti-war movement started with Gene McCarthy? As one of the folks out there getting tear-gassed well before McCarthy made his move, I know better.

This is not to detract anything from McCarthy, who has been overestimated but deserves a kind word all the same. I can't help speculating, though, about the precise psychic process going inside Clinton's brain. It's gotta be some kind of reflex -- no way this particular lie could do Clinton any good.

Is it that he just can't help overselling whatever he's selling? If it's a used car -- Einstein once owned it. If it's real estate -- there's oil under it. Does he feel obliged to keep gilding the lily, even after he's made the sale? Such personalities are not uncommon.

If you were a kind person -- which I am not -- and wanted to cut Clinton some slack -- as I do not -- then you might say he's just expressing the fundamental theorem of the liberal view of history -- a view in which history is made from the top down, by thinkers, writers, professors, experts, politicians, and other folk who stand out, in some way, from the common herd. According to this view, it was of course the Bobby Kennedys and the Gene McCarthys who ended the Vietnam War -- not us poor slobs burning our draft cards, or those fed-up grunts in-country fragging their gung-ho lieutenants.


January 16, 2006

Watergate dreamin'...

Recent words of long ago House member and ace Nixon impeacher Lizzy Holtzman of New York, apropos Bush's high crimes:
"attention must be focused on changing the political composition of the House and Senate in the upcoming 2006 elections. If a Republican Congress is unwilling to investigate and take appropriate action against a Republican President, then a Democratic Congress should replace it."
Nice try, Lizzie. But the bait-and-switch is a little too obvious. Let's dream no wet dreams of a Watergate II, please. For one thing, look how much good Watergate I did: "progressive" young folks falling in love with the likes of white-sheet possum Sam Ervin. And sure, Nixon fled for rock cover like a sun-boiled reptile, but then what? New Dixiecrat Carter in '76, and then... Reagan in '80; the jim-crowing of Jesse Jackson, the DLC rat pack... need I go on? Point is, these congressional gladiator shows don't really change anything.

Let's not take this bait again. Sure, it would be fun -- an admittedly delicious show, the very best theatre of cruelty. But after the tribunal of pointy-hatted scowling dems has clobbered and reclobbered an already beaten and totally lame-duck Bush admininstration -- what will be the body count?

Best shot -- Cheney dies of a heart attack on live television. Okay, that would make for great entertainment. But after that, what? It's a meaningless, mindless pleasure. They will never remove the man from Crawford himself -- where's the 2/3 in the Senate gonna come from?

But if folks fall for the Holtzman bait, and turn out for Dems in hopes of another Watergate soap opera -- it'll just be another palace coup, like the first one, with no political content at all. Guelphs walloping Ghibellines, or Crips taking some turf back from Bloods. We the people might get a Democratic majority in the house -- but it'll be the same old dirty Democratic party that went along with the Iraq war, the Patriot Act, the bankruptcy bill, and so on ad nauseam -- a majority that empowers the worst elements of present-day donkey-party bizwiz hawks. After the big Truth or Consequences slapstick show of the hearings, we'll be watching 'em hook up their time-honored, time-tested "working majority" with the Republican cross of Christ/Chamber of Commerce thundering hunnish horde.


January 18, 2006

Max Baucus, Montana Metternich

I'm getting very fond of Max Baucus, senior Democrat on the Senate finance committee. He has a wonderful way of blurting out inconvenient truths about his party's actual attitudes. It's quite refreshing.

Following up on his earlier comments about job exportation -- "get used to it," was his advice -- he has now made clear what the rules of admission are to the nuclear club. At a time when bipartisan hysteria about Iran getting the bomb dominates the newspapers, Max has indicated that it's just fine for India to have one:

His approving remarks echoes comments of US senator and former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry who last week backed the India-US nuclear deal, saying that it recognised India as a nuclear power.
Nonproliferation, it seems, is one of those doctrines that needs to be applied very selectively. Now let's see, from whose point of view is it a good thing for India to have the bomb?


January 19, 2006

Together in perfect harmony: the dog's two heads

Recently I logged a sprightly dismissal of Jane harman's 2 to 1 win last cycle as a no-sweat factoid, given the underlying district. I further argued that toppling her would be a slam dunk. But I sense some skepticism out there. So, for the record, here's how Orthrian dynamics really work.

Once one head's local operative gets into re-election trouble, then big Geryon's money flows in bountiful measure into the coffers of a seat contender from the other head.

Think this simple rule through and you'll see how well it works.

One result: if a seated head's agent is in a pickle (like us lefties could very easily put dear Jane in) -- once there's blood in the water, it's survival politics at its most naked. The incumbent's party, like a reef shark in a feeding frenzy, will devour its own creature, allowing it to be replaced by a flea from the hair of Orthrus' other head. (I know, mixed metaphor, but screw it, it's a goddam blog.)

Better to let the other team have a turn, than allow some upstarts to disrupt the machinery.

Of course, the weaker head can never be permitted to die out completely, because without a second head, the con is finished.

In this light, somebody ought to trace the tick-tock of the heads in the people's house since, say, the civil war.

Stay tuned.


Training the Titan's dog: a short course

Okay, so not all elected Democrats are Orthrians. Maybe Russel Feingold isn't, for example. But that doesn't change the Orthrian character of their party. They can afford to leave some popular slack -- on both sides, come to think of it. It's only the important, structural players who need to be wired into Orthrus' nervous system.

How can you tell an Orthrian? Simple: donor flows. Not voting patterns. Orthrians need to keep some camouflage, so they often vote non-Orthrian. Here's how it works:

With a nice reliance on careful insider log rolling, Orthrians can protect each other's false branding. Say you've got a rep to uphold as a feminist or a champion of labor. Well, if you're in a pinch you get a pass and vote on the wrong side -- what you might call the people's rather than master Geryon's side. You can even do this a lot -- even most of the time, if you need a lot of camouflage. On corporate issues, you can defy the board roomers -- but only in a losing battle.

Go ahead, says Geryon, go out there for a little romp, Orthrus, good doggie. Vote freely! Vote your doggy conscience -- as long as you lose, lose and lose graciously. Stand tall in defeat. Stride forth with a rugged "stay the course" jutting chin. Walk up to the net and shake the victor's hand like a good sport -- and tell your disappointed constituents, "Next time."

January 21, 2006

Long as you're off the reservation...

Okay, so you've caught on to this wonderfully disruptive and un-procedural state referendum thing, and you're raising the state minimium wage and roping the rate to the CPI, and maybe even hammering a lower ceiling on weekly straight time hours.

Great, keep strokin' -- but as long as you've got the referendum bit between your teeth, as long as you're taking over the asylum, fellow inmates -- where it applies, why not add this to your state-wide movement:

Repeal the union-busting "right to work" laws now on the books in more then twenty of our soverign states.

I figure you all know who put 'em there and why.


January 24, 2006

Evolution of the second banana, part I

If you want to look ahead, you should start by looking back.

Let's look all the way back to a richly deserved nadir of the Democratic Party's fortunes: the Republican house hegemony consolidated in the post-civil war "rump nation" election of 1866 -- the election that produced the 40th house of representatives. In it, Republicans of all stripes outnumbered Democrats ditto 175 to 49.

Now that was one hell of a nice house, stripped down, souped up, ravin' and rarin' and ready to fly. Does the name Thaddeus Stevens ring a bell?

Well, from early 1867 through three more cycles and 8 very full years of free-form romping, this multi-faceted Republicanism showed a America some of its highest and lowest moments in congressional history.

A taste of the high side : the gunpoint occupation of all Dixie, the local empowerment of the Southern freedmen.

And on the low side: No distribution of slavers' plantation land, and way too many big-time Yankee corporate shenanigans. Think railroad giveaways.

Our story starts to get interesting with the biggest corporate shenanigan of all, the vicious, huge, and out-of-nowhere crash of 1873. The first modern or Orthrian period really gets underway with the next electoral cycle after the crash. The people, knowing when they feel gratuitous pain, tossed out the Republicans in droves, including from the house. Jes'-folks up north "soured on Gilded Age business as usual," figuring that the congressional Republicans and their corporate friends were precisely what had produced the prior year's depression.

So we got a Democratic house for the 44th congress:

  • Democratic Party 182 seats ( +94 )
  • Republican Party 103 seats ( -96)
A nice object lesson in what a mighty swing a real sharp and nasty industrial depression can bring. We'll see this topsy-turvy game several more times along the way.

But surprise, the donkey proved no redeemer for northern jobsters or hocked northern yeoman farmsteads. In fact, with the north's industrial economy continuing down cripple-stagger lane for years afterwards -- even after the folks rose up and threw out the elephant men -- the northern electorate slowly but inevitably discovered Orthrian reality.

That good old donkey Tweedledee warn't no damn better than elephant Tweedledum -- except on race, of course, where the Democrats were rock-solid defenders of lynching and Jim Crow. So a step-by-step, cycle-by-cycle retrogression set in up north, though down in Dixie the noose-and-sheet party was able to defend its gains.

One consequence of the Republican debacle: Dixie was now considered "redeemable", meaning it was given back, step by step, to its "rightful" Democratic white owners.

But the net of these these two contrary regional trends nationally was that the Orthrian do-nothing sellout lost the donkey votes and seats faster than nightriding could add 'em down south.

The sad donkey declension: from 182 dem seats in '74, to 157 seats in '76, to 141 seats and a whiskery margin of nine in '78.

For any pair of eyes willing to see Orthrus was now in the saddle. The system -- outside the south, at least -- had two heads, but only one controlling mind and soul: the mind that watched the stock ticker and owned a lot of farm mortgages. So the donkey by sheer whithering-away of hope became again, in accordance with its deepest nature, the lesser head of the dog. They lost the last few seats necessary to give back house control where it rightly belonged in the election of 1880 with a further drop of 13 seats.

But lo, there was lightning flashing on the horizon: next installment, Populism, Coxey, Bryan and the origins of true Bidness Republican hegemony.


Ralph drops the big one

Ralph Nader -- gotta love the guy. Here's the old sparrow hawk at his best, a propos the whole Democratic righteous-indignation thing about "K Street". Ralph says, Hey big ears, skip the hee haw -- forget pompous pledges to "forever" close the books to any more swindling lobby induced finagles. Dracula has not left the building. Bar the door and he's still comfortably inside drinking his rougey pina coagulata. The real Rx for K Street mayhem: blow up what's already in there.

That's right -- blow up the whole damn corporate welfare rockery once and for all. Or in Ralph's own words:

Congress should decree that every federal agency shall terminate all below-market-rate sales, leasing or rental arrangements with corporate beneficiaries, including of real and intangible property; shall cease making any below-market-rate loans or issuing any below-market-rate loan guarantees to corporations; shall terminate all export assistance or marketing promotion for corporations; shall cease providing any below-market-rate insurance;..... shall eliminate all liability caps; and shall terminate any direct grant, below-market-value technology transfe or subsidy of any kind.

The bill should also amend the Internal Revenue Code to eliminate all corporate "tax expenditures" listed in the President's annual budget.

Some of what gets cancelled in such a bill might be good public policy. If so, Congress should reauthorize it. But there's too much accumulated contribution/lobbyist-driven institutionalized graft for a case-by-case review to eliminate what's in place.

Now that's a real nuclear option, eh mates? If your local House donkey won't sign onto it put him (or her, Nancy) on notice that you won't vote for His Lesserhood. If you're gonna have a K Street stooge representing, or rather failing to represent you, better at least have an open one.

January 28, 2006

Calling all moles

We know you're out there -- or rather in there: you interns at Third Way, you junior staffers in Rahm Emanuel's money pit, you starry eyed young Democrats -- or old Democrats, for that matter -- revolted by what you've seen on the inside. Help us out, willya? We can watch the critter kick and bray, and make some shrewd guesses about what's ailing it -- but we need some of you moles on the inside to do some real reportage. Come on, email us and and dish the real dirt.

Question one : are any of Rahm's rangers as yet worried at all about a base rebellion next fall?

Have they noticed the possibility that a revulsion from this do-nothing approach might hit their zombie candidates so hard at the polls, come November, as to spoil all hopes for a return to majority status?

Has it occurred to anybody that the present "planned power off" strategy -- make no blunders, it's all down hill anyway, so let's coast -- won't hack it over all the humps out there up ahead? Has it crossed anybody's mind that the voters might want to hear something more than tut-tutting and insincere protestations of shock about corruption and spying -- that they might want to hear about the big positive beef-with-thick-gravy issues, like Iraq, one-payer health, high-wage jobs?

We know by deduction what's up -- nothing. But have they all drunk the Rahm and Hillary Kool-Aid? Or is there discontent in the ranks, kept out of the public eye by the masters of the campaign-money spigot?

Savonarola mon amour

Maybe us Amurricans need our home-grown Hamas to win a full victory next fall, too.

Go ahead, let 'em pick up all the marbles. Let the party of white loser salvation, the boys of the cross and the sword, triumph. Let's give Pat Robertson and his ilk control of the full spectrum of federal power levers. Let's see what the holy hell they got. Bring it on, as the Maxiumum Leader says.

Okay so a few of us pinkos stinkos and hoe-moe-sexuals get virtual burnings. We can take it. This isn't the 16th century. Come on, walk away from the polls. Give 'em a clear run. Let 'em have the damn keys to all the pointy-heads' offices. Let 'em drown the bastards, virtually of course -- its all pretty much a video game anyway. Who's to say anything real will even get its hair mussed?

And suppose it does -- Jane and Joe Churchgoer might figure out that what the ayatollahs are giving 'em isn't exactly what they signed up for. As the Men's Wearhouse says, an educated consumer is our best customer.

January 29, 2006

The mark of Kaine

... Timmy M. Kaine, that is, or no, sorry, that's Governor Timmy M. Kaine to you, as of last November.

Timmy, this fine mild man bursting with southern honeysuckle and chapel-bell reason, a nice new "I pray a lot too" Democrat, has been elevated. He's received the golden tap. He's the donkey-designated counter-puncher to our august sleepwalker-in-chief, after the boy mummy reads his, or rather somebody else's, "state of the union" speech.

What a digital dust-up this has triggered. Take for just one the progoshere's Arianna Huffington. She's raging like Mrs Macbeth before the dirty deed: Why why why, oh you dunderish doltniks -- I'm paraphrasing a little here -- why this guy? Why another rock-candy DLC huckster? Is this the best pinup you jackasses have got? Another tootsie-roll Dixie-lite smile puppy, another far-from-the-beltway, potlatch-proofed, green-acres goobner from the sovereign state of bogosity. Thats what you vontzes are putting center stage? I'm told the shocked and galled Arianna has been flapping and grinding her jaws so hard over this, she may have to move forward her next chin lift.

The Washington Post says, in a more general context, and more decorous language, this latest snafuzzy is giving the party bigwigs

"an early glimpse of an intraparty rift.... fiery liberals raising their voices on Web sites and in interest groups [denouncing] another flaccid Democratic response."
.... Another in a line stretching back at least to the muffed Murtha moment and running at full steam right up to yesterday's Alito flubaduster. Now Bush will be standing up there reading his lines, a target as big as a barn door, and this sugar-coated termite Kaine is the party's chosen "Sunday school slugger."

The Post item goes on to say it's not just the proglo-bloglodytes out there howling in the electronic wilderness, but the entire off-to-the-left base may be erupting because "party leaders [are] gutless sellouts."

Gotta hand it to the Post. Unlike the NY Times, they do sometimes fail to miss the story.

By the way, this Kaine strode to the Virginia governor's mansion over some mighty hallowed old oaken planks: "faith, values and fiscal discipline." What a "victory formula" that is, for the party of Jefferson and Jackson.

But Kaine is a man of principle, to hear him tell it. As the Post says,

The Virginia Democrat said he will not adjust his speech to placate the party's base."I'm not anybody's mouthpiece or shill or poster boy for that matter. I'm going to say what I think needs to be said ..."
In other words, Kaine will pay no attention to the people he's supposed to be representing.

What does this heart-of-oak man of principle think about the Iraq war? Well... er... ahh... then again....

Kaine is not alone in his contempt for the base. Again, the Post:

"The bloggers and online donors represent an important resource for the party, but they are not representative of the majority you need to win elections," said Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic lobbyist who advised Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign. "The trick will be to harness their energy and their money without looking like you are a captive of the activist left."
Well, if that doesn't say it all. "Harness their energy and money" -- and then fuck 'em. It would be difficult to come up with a clearer statement of the party's relationship to its leftish base.

This Elmendorf, by the way, was a key player in that petrified waltz to nowhere put on by the Kerrymen back in '04. You'd think he'd be ashamed to show his face, but no, here is is bigfooting it around DC like he's some fearsome hard-nosed badass, telling the base to lie back and enjoy it -- again.

Chutzpah will take you quite a long way in life, even if you're a born fool.


January 30, 2006

The sages are divided

Brother Smith has laid his battle plan before us: "crush out the donkey party." To him, a one-way ticket to the glue factory is the best and brightest future prospect for the party of Massa Jefferson and Old Hickory -- at least from the point of view of the diehard fundamental interests of the American people.

Well, I don't as yet quite share his dark conclusions, nor his John Brown certainty. Damply feeble as it may seem, I'm not ready to dump the whole damn donkey into the boiling pot.

This said, obviously one question follows: Why are we two able to sing in harmony here at the Stop Me barbershop?

Simple. We share the same Stage One: blast the War Democrats and Wall Street Democrats out of the party, by refusing ever to vote for one of 'em, ever again. Stop fooling ourselves that by electing these quislings, we might avoid some additional pounding by the elephants.

If we succeed at the end of the day there will either be a party Gideonized, or a puddle pulverized. We shall see.

My heart is far from confident here. When Bryan at the 1912 convention read Wall Street out of the party -- "There is no room for Belmonts and Ryans here. This is not their home, nor will it ever be" -- he got a thunderous hour-long response. Unfortunately, I know today that even among those furtive potential allies we may have in surprising numbers, trapped inside the party, surely a call by us out here to banish the Wall Street bums, banish the stranglers' legion of Kerry, Dean, Rubin and Clark, would meet with something very much less than even sheepish bleatings.

But hey, give it time. What has happened once can happen again.


New hope for the politically dependent

Science to the rescue. Thus the January 30 Washington Post:
Emory University psychologist Drew Westen put self-identified Democratic and Republican partisans in brain scanners and asked them to evaluate negative information about various candidates. Both groups were quick to spot inconsistency and hypocrisy -- but only in candidates they opposed .

"When presented with negative information about the candidates they liked, partisans of all stripes found ways to discount it, Westen said.

Now comes the money quote:
When the unpalatable information was rejected, furthermore, the brain scans showed that volunteers gave themselves feel-good pats -- the scans showed that "reward centers" in volunteers' brains were activated.
Hmmmm. Is it conditioning? I say nope -- it's hard wiring.
The psychologist observed that the way these subjects dealt with unwelcome information had curious parallels with drug addiction, as addicts also reward themselves for wrong-headed behavior.
This could explain a lot. The poor soul who just can't stay away from one or the other of Orthrus' heads -- he's not so different from the starveling junkie sniffling and shivering on a windswept street corner, impatient to put his troubled heart temporarily beyond the reach of the world's pain. He's not doing himself any good -- on the contrary -- but the warm feeling he gets, for those few minutes, is the only warmth he's got.


February 1, 2006

A fellow of infinite jest

Here's domestic donkey Realpolitik in clown shoes: enter one Dana Milbank, whose Washington Sketch, "an observational column about political theater in the White House, Congress and elsewhere in the capital," runs in the Washington Post.

Here are a few highlights from his turn on the new admonitory Post theme: "O stop good donkeys, stop before you run off another cliff again."

Tuesday, January 31, 2006:

The new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds congressional Democrats in the best position they've held in 14 years, besting President Bush and Republican lawmakers on Iraq, the economy, health care, immigration, ethics and more. All of which can mean only one thing: It is time for the Democrats to eat their own.
He tells us of a recent gathering of left forces in town, to stoke the fires under the impeach-the-brutes movement. Millbank, after great fun twitting the headliners there -- Cindy Sheehan, Ramsey Clark, Kevin Zeese -- has this to say:
Elected Democrats and their liberal base are in one of their periodic splits....
(pay attention here)
"between pragmatism and symbolism."
That's nice, eh? Not a split between pragmatism (read: selling out) and substance-- no, pragmatism and "symbolism". In other words, those who oppose the foot shuffles of our Nan Pelosi -- those of us who want to throw medicine-show slicksters like Steny to the wolves, and send Lex Luthors like Rahm back to the comics -- we're the ones who are into symbolism. We are -- not the crafters of wan gestures like this week's Kerry/Alito frigglefluster.

I think this illutrates a great law of life -- you won't go too far wrong if you turn every tenet of conventional wisdom on its head. Oh, and another one too -- there's nobody more banal than a "humorist."


February 3, 2006

Another tablet from Sinai...

... by popular demand, the first draft of Chapter 15 of Stop Me Before I Vote Again (The Book) is now available. I have modestly titled it "What is to be done?" Comments and criticisms are sincerely solicited.

--MJS


February 11, 2006

The road ahead (strewn with Democrat entrails)

I'd like to review -- call it a sanity check -- my own personal conception of our joint effort here. Specifically: where are we going and do others agree?

To me our stage-one strategy for destroying the Democratic party as we know it is simple: don't drive the pussheads out of the party -- drive 'em out of office.

Do you all agree?

Over the last month or so, as this site has started gathering a readership, I've noticed the stalwarts commenting here so far seem -- to my mind correctly -- focused on exposing the fiends now runninng the donkey machine, more than belaboring the rights and wrongs of the several issues du jour.

Now the two are linked, obviously. It's through the issues du jour that the fiends expose themselves, as they take the pro-forma, dying-swan flop, come nut-cuttin' time.

But everybody here seems pretty clear that mobilizing folks on the issues is not the problem -- in fact, we have the multitudes already with us, at least potentially, on the issues.

Nope, the problem is what to do about the knaves that vamp about claiming they're ready to lead us to the promised land.

Hence our mission, should we choose to accept it, and oh, we do, we do -- lets put the wrecking ball to this prisoner/victim holding tank of an electoral party.

Am i right? Eh?

I think most of us agree the strength of this whole line of cell blocks is in its core of " pragmatic promise breakers" and aisle-crossers the ones with the cold eye that flat out claim they'll deliver precisely what they and their donors are determined not to deliver.

You can identify the species by its song: "Help us retake power in Washington... help us retake power for... the people." I think we are agreed this illusion, this mirage hot dog always kept a safe three inches from our mouth, this shameless medicine-show conjury, must be wiped from the minds of all decent Americans.

And since we know stages are real steps, first we need to hack away the worst elements. Concentrate the attackon the party's most obvious stinkers. Knock 'em out of office, and by doing so, prove on the field of battle that the donkeys, at least as presently led, not only never can regain power but even more, never deserve to regain power.

Yeah, I'm negative. Got a problem with that?

Here's what the American people need to hear, and understand:

Their future is toast so long as they put their one by one votes into that same old same old Democratic shitbox.

Yes, mah fellow Amurricans -- your future is toast, toast, toast -- until we sweep the whole hee-hawing herd of 'em into the street. All the fat-necked DLC "New Democrat" donor-craving knaves. with their Madison Avenue blown hair and their callous fear pandering.

"No mas!" must be the watchword -- as long as they offer nothing better or deeper-drafted than the likes of a St Hillary or a Bidenbone.

Go ahead, give us 20 more years of elephant moonshine -- we'd rather take our poison straight up, neat, right out of the bottle -- than smile and smack our lips and pretend it's Madeira.

No more of those egomaniacal Macy's balloons, those loathsome power chair and spotlight freaks, these careers that are all about... their careers. Never again, till the spellbound underlings in their own rank and file rise up and chop off their corporate stooge heads.

Pluck the vultures from the party, feather by feather -- each and every Wall Street weak-kneer and humanitarian imperialist.

Negativity? You bet it is. Negativity is underrated. This is negativity at its tree-topplin' best -- each seat-warming, gold-eared jackass needs to be driven out of office, by a challenge that splits their deluded majority into two losing pieces.

This is not preperation for the launch of some neat new reform or class party. It's not so much a third party as a third rail, with enough current in it to kill off the secondary party of the era.

Kill off, did I say? And I was supposed to be the reasonable one here. Of course I meant to say, kill it off or cure it.

Shock some of 'em enough, and if they survive the experience maybe they'll morph in delightful ways, just to survive. It's been known to happen.

These times call for spoilers -- thick-skinned renegades and contrary rebels, eager to help trigger a destructive revolt of the multitude. This November, let's drive a dozen of these bums out -- and their little dogs too, out of the Rahm Emanuel puppy pound.


February 15, 2006

Evolution of the second banana, part II

In the last installment we saw the big bopper in action -- doesn't matter which party is in power: if the economy collides with a fearsome contraction the outs will be in next cycle.

All the way back in the off-year election of 1874 this pattern got established -- the Democrats won the house by national landslide, barely a decade after the Civil War, in which of course they were the party of treason and the slavemaster's lash. But it was, not for the first time, the economy, stupid.

The Democrats characteristically frittered away their advantage over the next few cycles, till 1880 when the GOP regained total control of Washington.

But now right away comes a sudden massive  switchback: 1882.No economic contraction here -- that would have to wait till next cycle -- but  two factors unrelated to each other converged to produce this second big pro-donkey swing:

Number one -- and it's not applicable to this year's conjuncture, obviously -- the solid South gained 25 new seats. All went where they belonged, to the white-sheet party par excellence, and that alone would have almost allowed a retake of the House, so  narrowly lost in '80.

But in addition -- and here's a parallel -- the nation had just gone through the first leg of the fabled Garfield-Arthur administration, where the elephant boyz dutched up so badly that chunks of the usually solid East and Midwest bolted at their first opportunity.

So once again it was dumb luck -- throw-the-bums-out dumb luck -- just what Rahm and Chuckie and Hillary and Howie are hoping for this time.

Next installment: third party strangulations aren't enough when gold holds the donkey's reins. Yup, here cometh the mighty populist challenge and the curse of Cain's deadly embrace -- a sucker kill that  brought white supremacy right into the very heart of the national party and smashed popular hopes for a generation.


February 18, 2006

Frank Church, and other giants in the earth

Back in '75,a Democrat-controlled Senate set up a committee to investigate the darker side of the whole cold war carnival; and this was done with the Republicans still clinging to the White House, after the convulsive moments of the prior summer and fall, when the deepest, most persistent five o'clock shadow in American political history was finally forced -- well, not quite finally -- from the nation's morning mirror.

A possible parallel strikes one, eh? Maybe you're thinking we need something of that sort again -- some congressional committee, either house or senate, to take stock of the long war on  mad turbans, now by my count past its 30th birthday.

Now I understand the urge to dream here. As a for-instance, the Church investigations -- among other attempts to clip off some of the more hideously malformed branches of the imperial presidency-- led to the creation of the recently much traduced FISA court. Dear ole Frank Church's white hat outfit produced revelations that all bore fruit in legislation limiting executive power when the donks returned to the White House in' 77.

But as nice as this all seems, try not to project it onto today's conjuncture. The mirage of a Dem-controlled house forming a Church-like committee is nonsense -- pure unvarnishable nonsense, so long as the donks have a dominant core of  fearless resolutes still committed to fighting this terror war against the mad turbans until... well, until when? The next Millennium, maybe.

Church and his senate posse make a bad analogy. Those donkey guys had made a separate peace. For them the cold war was over well before they formed their committee.

In fact there is a far better possible parallel, also from '75, than Church and company: the infamous Rockefeller commission, a star chamber set up by Gerry Ford to whitewash a generation of domestic government crime.

Jekyll and Hyde, LLC

"Progressive" Democrat (and AIPAC zombie) Tom Lantos has teamed up with right-wing Doberman Henry Hyde and signed a threatening letter to Ambassador Dumisani S. Kumalo of South Africa, head of the Group of 77 which represents 132 developing nations. Hyde and Lantos represent their respective "parties" on the House Foreign Relations Committee.

Their letter is a purple-faced, spittle-spraying torrent of wild indignation and cries of mile-deep corruption in the UN secretariat. The goal apparently is to distract, discredit,  and disorganize this vote-decisive  group, just at the moment when US Ambassador and neocon ninja John "Headless Horseman" Bolton is trying to end-run the General  Assembly by rigging up a  "veto power" substitute for the assembly's contemplated new human rights commission.

Hmmmmmm.

Wonder where Tom the Impaler's impulse for this act of bipartisanship came from?


February 22, 2006

Score one for Harvard

I've been taking great pleasure in the Lawrence Summers story. The porcine Clintonite dumper of toxic waste and immiserator of working people worldwide -- a guy who terrorized Washington and much of the world when he was working for Bill Clinton -- has met his match in the Arts and Sciences faculty at Harvard, who have squeezed him out of the President's chair there. It's enough to make one think more kindly of Harvard.

As if this weren't joy sufficient, who should come creaking, like a WWI tank, out of the wings to defend Summers but --

Yes! Alan Dershowitz! Thus Alan, as quoted at the Huffington Post:

The idea that a president should be fired because he believes in patriotism should shock every American.... Now listen to what Summers actually said about Israel and the Palestinians:
"But where anti-Semitism and views that are profoundly anti-Israeli have traditionally been the primary preserve of poorly educated right-wing populists, profoundly anti-Israel views are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities."

"Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent."

Poor Summers. I almost feel sorry for him. When you've got Alan Dershowitz in your corner, things have come to a pretty pass indeed.


February 25, 2006

Instability: Bring it on

I've been reading Luciano Canfora's recent book, Democracy in Europe, and at the same time pondering the perennial question, asked in various forms by contributors here, of what we ought to be doing in a constructive way. Yeah, bashing the Democrats is fine and they deserve it, but what actions will get us closer to where we want to be?

Continue reading "Instability: Bring it on" »

February 26, 2006

A new Green party...

...Greenspan that is. Thus the Wall Street Journal:
Freed of the constraints of public office, Alan Greenspan has expanded from commenting on the economy to commenting on politics.

Speaking to a Wall Street gathering Wednesday the former Federal Reserve chairman decried the "polarization" of American politics and said the ground was ripe for a third party presidential candidate....

The two American parties now [are] controlled by their extreme wings, even though the voting public is far more centrist... the leadership of the parties [is] "bimodal" ... clustered at the extreme ideological ends, whereas the voting public [is] "monomodal" ... clustered near the middle, which creates "... an opening for a third-party candidate who appeals to the center."

Greenie's hope:
"prompt the candidates of the other two parties to move back to the center."
What's his game here, do you think?

February 27, 2006

Greenspan Augustus

Your ruminations on instability, MJS, and this Greenscam tidbit show that you and Alan the magnificent are obviously on the same wave length, albeit looking at the situation from opposite ends of the wind tunnel.

Greeny fears -- or rather, credit where it's due, pretends to fear -- the electoral elites polarizing hoi polloi. Why?

Well, surely not because he thinks the hacks' "deepest values" are driving them to the next round of the eternal grappple, with ever-mounting righteous ferocity. He's been among 'em way too long to hold that view even in a nightmare. It must be because he sees these mindless thoroughly unprincipled vote seekers potentially getting so high on the vapors of discontent among he masses, that like a pair of sorcerer's apprentices, they provoke an unstoppable tempest. Heedless of the reality out there -- still playing pretend combat -- still studio wrestlers all; but when the streets are ready to really rage maybe they'll inadvertently stir the mobitude out there to an escape-velocity frenzy.

It's as if the Orthrian joint mind had lost integral control of itself, and the two heads had sealed themselves off from each other, and begun to gnaw each other's necks in earnest. Not a good idea, when, as I suspect Alan G correctly senses, the helots are restless and don't need any more wedge agitation but a calming goon-like regal smile -- a new Reagan head with a completed domestic and foreign agenda and all "partisanship" well behind him -- a Reagan settling down to an era of pure reignmanship -- a Cheshire Cat Reagan by stages disappearing, first the calming twinkle, then the slow head spin, and finally all that's left is just that benignly demented pursy smile.

Dershowitz smears Kennedy

In his eagerness to defend disgraced ex-Clintonite Lawrence Summers, the inimitable Alan Dershowitz has libeled Ted Kennedy, according to AP:
Law professor Alan Dershowitz has argued Summers was done in by a core group of faculty angered over his support for the military, Israel, and for his comments on women in science - the last of which he apologized for repeatedly.

"I'm clearly in the left 20 percent of the country, nationally. I'm a Ted Kennedy liberal," Dershowitz said. "In the [Harvard] Faculty of Arts and Sciences, I'm in the 10 percent side of the conservatives."

Are you going to take this lying down, Ted?


February 28, 2006

Mr Byrd regrets...

Senator Robert Byrd has a few regrets, according to AP:
Sen. Robert Byrd, the dean of the Senate and its resident constitutional expert, counts only a few regrets in his 48-year Senate career: filibustering the 1964 Civil Rights Act, voting to expand the Vietnam War, deregulating airlines.

Add to the list a new one from this century: supporting the anti-terror USA Patriot Act after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"The original Patriot Act is a case study in the perils of speed, herd instinct and lack of vigilance when it comes to legislating in times of crisis," the West Virginia Democrat said Monday on the eve of the Senate's final votes on its renewal. "The Congress was stampeded...."

This week ... he embarks on a re-election campaign for a record ninth term....

Mr Byrd's regrets are pretty much a capsule history of the Democratic Party. And you gotta love that "we wuz stampeded" line. Was stampeded? Let's have the active voice there, Mr Byrd -- in fact we need the iterative aspect too.


March 2, 2006

From a second head to... a rump

The DLCers' fear of the redistributor label shows they aren't any longer fit even for the Orthrian role assigned to the donk head, because to them redistribution means the New Deal tax and transfer system -- the party of Tip O'Neill.

In the bathtub-size world these DLC donks grapple in taxes fall on earnings -- stuff you got by effort or something much like effort, say cleverness. But whatever -- to be a t&t party means you're the party that takes from wage earners to give to -- yup, you guessed it.

Imagine that... how 80's.

As for the progs -- they won't attack capital wealth anymore then the DLC. Recall two tax moves of Clinton -- raising rates on higher comp earnings, but as a reward to donors, a massive cut to profit "realizers".


March 3, 2006

Sorry, I can't resist

I know, I know, we're supposed to be abusing the Democrats here. But consider this image, from the New York Times:

I've always said that the only good thing abut the Times is its photo editors, and this seems the definitive proof. Look at his eyes! There's some Procopian secret history here, or I'm a lizard.


March 6, 2006

Eat your nice poison, children

A helpful e-mail correspondent called my attention to HR 4167, a bill with an apparently innocuous purpose -- uniformity in food labelling. What could be more rational, liberal, and progressive than that? Here's what AP reports:
House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and several other lawmakers support a bill that would keep states from adding warnings that go beyond federal rules....

State warnings alert consumers to mercury in fish, arsenic in bottled water, pesticides in vegetables and many other potential problems. The food industry wants consistent warnings across state lines.

Well, that sounds quite bland, doesn't it? But the devil is in the details. The bill provides that no state can mandate more warnings or advisories or more extensive labeling than what is provided for in Federal law. This is a whack at states like California, where (unlike here in New York) people are quite concerned about what they eat, and the state requires relatively full disclosure. The "food industry" doesn't like this, needless to say.

Now normally I wouldn't expend more than a sour shrug on this story -- amazing how the sovereignty of the states is inviolable when it suits our masters, and can be swept away like a smoke ring when it doesn't. But what caught my eye about this was that the bill has a staggering 227 sponsors in the House.

Now who reading these words will be surprised to find that many of them are Democrats? The diamond on the dungheap, in fact, is none other than our favorite guy, Rahm Emanuel. I don't suppose there are many farmers in Rahm's Chicago district, but presumably Rahm is sending a message -- for the good of the Party.

And then what about Robert Andrews, from New Jersey's first district, incorporating Camden and the Jersey suburbs across the river from Philadelphia? Edolphus Towns, of New York? Steve Israel, another favorite of ours, also from New York? Or Connie Mack, from the southern Gulf coast of Florida? Only Pelosi is missing. Oh, and Steny Hoyer, amazingly.

Now of course the thing that really amuses me is this: plenty of people are up in arms about it -- understandably. You can forget about "acting locally" if Uncle can be depended on to lower the hammer when a locality gets out of line. Here's an example. Note the headline:

House Republicans Move to Kill State Food Safety Labels on Foods
Well, not exactly, Comrade Tofu. The Food Products Association spokesman quoted by AP seems to have called it:
"Our focus is on seeing the bill approved by the full House, by a bipartisan majority."
What do you bet they get it?


March 8, 2006

Something out of nothing

Catching up a little -- did anybody notice the Rahm-o-gram in last Monday's New York Times? The Gray lady of 43d Street, in her usual dog-bites-man way, was musing about the Democrats' lack of a stance on anything, and wondering solemnly whether this might augur ill for their hopes of a triumph in November. But ole Rahm spun it like a top:
Mr. Emanuel, though, said he was not worried. "What divide?" he said.

"We agree on Social Security," he continued. "We also agree on the war..."

WHAT?!?!
"... which is, not more of the same."

"Skelton has a position. Murtha has a position. Levin has a position," he said of Congressional Democrats who have raised questions about the war. "But all of them have one thing in common: Staying the course is a fool's errand. O.K.? I'm happy that our party has a lot of different ideas about how to solve a problem."

If anybody could ever figure out a way to make bricks without straw -- or clay either -- it would have to be Rahm.

Dershowitz to the rescue

Whatever would we do without self-described "Ted Kennedy liberal" Alan Dershowitz?

According to Ha'Aretz, here's the Dersh's latest stunt:

The American attorney Alan Dershowitz has volunteered to defend any Israeli officer who faces legal proceedings abroad, on condition that his actions were in keeping with Israeli government policy.

It is "a shame that officers have to hide like criminals and are afraid to visit democratic countries, only because they carried out the policies of their elected government," Dershowitz told Haaretz in a phone call from Brussels.

Dershowitz was refering to the recent threat by leftist organizations in the United Kingdom to seek the prosecution for war crimes of Gaza Brigade commander Brigadier General Aviv Kokhavi, a threat which led him to cancel his planned studies there....

Dershowitz said that he believed that lack of immunity for Israel Defense Forces officers from criminal proceedings is an "intolerable situation from the point of view of the international community."

That last bit is pretty breathtaking, isn't it? A rather sweeping claim to special treatment, it would appear. Israeli officers ought to be immune from prosecution -- and the fact that they're not is "intolerable," not just from the Israeli point of view, which would make a kind of sense, but from the "international community's"!

I think Dershowitz is just the guy for the job, though. He defended OJ Simpson and Claus von Bulow, after all. -- Oh, and Larry Summers, recently and delightfully booted from the Presidential chair at Harvard.

March 14, 2006

Maybe they really are stupid... naah.

Thus Cenk Uygur:
I'm trying my best to not disparage the Democrats, since they're our only hope left.

I don't want to perpetuate the image of them as soft, feckless and spineless. I am worried to death that will turn off some voters and have them vote for Republicans who are driving this country over a cliff instead. But the Democrats sometimes make it impossible to not criticize them.

Senator Russ Feingold wants to introduce a resolution to censure the President for breaking the FISA statue.... But... the Democrats refuse to be outcowarded. In the face of overwhelming facts -- on their side for the love of God -- they will not back their fellow Senator in pressing forward with a censure....

Why oh why, would the opposition party not support this move to censure -- because they are worried about the effect it is going to have on centrist voters? Are you fucking nuts? George Bush is at 36%!!!!!!!! America can't stand him. They think he is incompetent, that he has blown Iraq and Katrina and Social Security and the budget and the economy. And you're worried that you are going to alienate centrist voters by coming out against him?

I hate to say it, but this actually seems like a good question. I don't usually give much credence to the idea that Democrats are unsatisfactory because they're stupid, or cowardly -- I tend to think, rather, that they're functioning very much according to spec. But I have to admit this is a little baffling. They do, at least, crave some degree of electoral success, do they not? Surely they don't believe they'd be imperilling that by supporting Feingold's resolution?

Maybe it's just because it's Feingold -- gotta keep him boxed up? Theories, anybody? I'm usually not short of theories, but this one finds me at a loss.


March 15, 2006

Thought experiment

Sinister, shifty-eyed guy, carrying a baseball bat, comes up to you on the street. "You need to give me all your money," he says.

"Why?" you ask, understandably.

"Because if you don't, I'll beat the crap out of you. Actually, I'll beat the crap out of you anyway, but you still need to give me all your money."

You're not following the logic here. Understandably. "If you're going to beat me up anyway, why should I--" you begin.

"You don't understand. See that guy across the street?"

You look, and sure enough, there is a bigger, tougher-looking footpad loitering across the street, carrying a tire iron. "If you don't give me all your money," the lesser footpad continues, "that guy will come and beat you up instead, and he'll do a much better job than I will."

You're a sensible person. So you give the lesser footpad all your money. True to his word, he kicks you in the nuts and when you fall to the ground, he starts whaling on you with the baseball bat.

While this is ongoing, the greater footpad crosses the street, whups your footpad upside the head with the tire iron, and relieves him of your money. Then he starts beating up on you with the tire iron. He does seem to be doing a somewhat better job, though it's hard to tell, and either way you won't survive much more of it.

While the new assailant is busy with you, the former assailant picks himself up off the ground. As he limps away, you call after him, "Don't be discouraged! We'll gain control of the block next time!"


March 16, 2006

How to lie with statistics

I was vastly amused by this item on mydd.Com:

In New York, the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy has undertaken an incredibly impressive mission. Today, DMI issued a comprehensive scorecard grading the state legislature on issues impacting the state's middle class. It's not your standard scorecard, which is typically focused on an individual issue like the environment, labor, or gun control. Rather, it's a much more comprehensive look at the issues impacting New York's middle class and how legislators are responding to them....

The Speaker of the [New York] state Assembly is Sheldon Silver, a Democrat from the 64th district. Google him. If you look at the 'Sponsored Links' to the right side of the search results, you should notice that he's earned an A- according to the Drum Major Institute's scorecard.

Now Sheldon Silver, as I may have mentioned on this site before, is certainly one of the vilest creeps in a statehouse full of creeps, and he has been up to his eyebrows in every dirty deal there for the last decade. How does he manage to get an A- from anybody except maybe the Israeli consulate?

I gues it's just another case of grade inflation.


Getting personal

(Correspondent alsis39.75 wrote the following in response to another commenter's defense of the lesser-evil theory, and I liked it so much I wanted to make a regular post out of it -- MJS)

... You just don't get it. YOU are surely making things worse, by condoning those who condone what Bush is doing to us. It's those at the very bottom of the political heap, those with negligible power, who you hold most culpable for the most harm....

You, too, whether you can own up to it or not, are making things worse in the hope that they will get better.

As for me personally, I took a good hard look at my life and the lives around of those around me in the decade preceding 2000, and realized that being washed along by the stream of political orthodoxy espoused by folks like you was, in fact, making my life worse. I decided that pushing out in an attempt to alter the stream's course was a worthwhile tactic. If my alteration amounts to no more than that created by a handful of pebbles, it's an alteration, nonetheless.

BTW, I suspect that's what lies at the core of the fanatical and obsessive hatred nurtured against Nader by so many Dems/Progs. Folks like me already had the pebbles, but it was Nader who goaded us into doing something with them. That's what the haters can't abide. Instead of a struggle to change course, we should have left those pebbles in our shoes, and spent eternity pretending that we didn't know what was cutting into our flesh;What was hurting us and weighing us down;What increased the pain and heaviness with each passing year, and where it came from.

It came from your team... It came from Clinton, Gore, Biden, Lieberman, and their myriad apologists and sycophants. It came from a machine run on greed, war, hate and fear. It came from the Democrats.


The power of the subjunctive mood

Reading some recent comments here, I'm struck -- not for the first time -- by the importance of "would have" thinking for Democrats. Gore "would not" have attacked Iraq (even after September 11) . Kerry "would not" have appointed Roberts, or Alito.

On the other hand -- who knew that Clinton "would have" bombed the crap out of Serbia, or made Janet Reno his Attorney General, or or or...

Well, maybe we "should have" known. But still. "Would have" or "would not have" seems a pretty feeble argument, all in all. If you look at what Clinton actually did do in office -- or even at what Gore and Kerry said they "would do" if they got into office -- then the subjunctive advantages of the Democrats seem a little, well... ghostly? Phantasmagorical?


March 17, 2006

Necessary but not sufficient

As my pop always said: "you can't overdo looking at the record."

Example: I've noticed the jingle bell of third party -- third party -- third party ringing hereabouts recently. Well, the record shows... as wonderful and innovative as third party movements have been, at least one other element inevitably plays an equally crucial role whenever American society stages one of its great transformations.

That other necessity is -- a big-time split inside at least one major party. So in accordance with this iron regularity of the record, I predict in the near future such a split will rive apart the dear old donkeydom. Hence our beaverish mission here at Stop Me to facilitate same.

Specifically, this will be a split between, well, us -- the cantankerous, ready-to-rumble hunk of its ever larger, fed-up-to-here hoi-p pleb basement -- and (on the other hand) who else but the venerable Orthrian core.

This set-to will either see us raggedy insurgents roughouse the party trogs out of control, a la Bryan and the '96 (that's 1896, of course) rout of Cleveland's golden girls, -- or, too wild and enraged to accept defeat if  thwarted, we will simply bolt for the free plains to our left -- like Jackson (Jese, that is) should have bolted in '84 (1984, that is).

Either way, obviously, for the party pros this is all very distressing. It  raises the spectre of bummed-out donors even more than voters. And, one must add, a split would be equally distressing for the progs left behind -- the "it's about winning" types who float about the kososphere -- self-styled "hard-headed" types trying to hide their nose rings, the dedicated realists, dedicated to a single-track strategy: "We'll try our damnedest to capture the party national flag, but if the hacks block us, then God love us, we'll stay loyal and work for the ticket."

By the way, this strategy succeeded in capturing that flag of great worth once already in my lifetime -- but it's an example not mentioned too often, though  a more pure Kos-like event I can't imagine. I mean, of course, the victorious McGovernite crusade of '72. An interesting precedent. You'll find not only vicious backstage post-capture "hackotage" starting with Trojan horse shock Eagleton, but (far more importantly) a return to control by the very same trogs even before a single year had passed.

The hack line then, as it would be now, against any Kos-type seizure -- "Go ahead, go ahead, you jackstraws, go ahead -- get your brains beat out.. we'll wait."

Ah, so much applies here to our prsent conjuncture; but for now I'll  sum  up with this gnomic aphorism -- it's not high-tea contests among loyalists, but sloppy, convulsive, split and splutter, head-on smash-up episodes that on occasion actually, and usually at long last, thrust our beloved America through to the other side of these long-persisting and hideously corrosive figure-eight loops -- like this one we've circled around for the past 30-odd years.

March 18, 2006

There's a whole other world out there...

(Another comment too good for just a comment, this one by Tim D. -- MJS)

...One thing that attracts me to the left, especially the radical, socialist left, is that there is strong sense of internationalism. That is, there is a sense that we have a duty to fight for the well-being and rights of those outside our borders as well as inside, since their well-being is inextricably bound up with our own. I think Martin Luther King Jr. said something to the effect of "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

Global poverty and inequality isn't just a moral outrage, it's a genuine threat to the lives of people everywhere as Mike Davis points out in an interview with Alan Maass. Having these massive ghettos stretching over vast expanses of the "Global South" is a recipe for disaster, for obvious reasons. Davis states, "1 billion people [are] living in slums in the cities of the South--unparalleled concentrations of poor people in unsanitary conditions, many of them with immune system disorders. It’s hard to imagine a more nightmarish disease scenario."

Aside from that, while so many people are living in penury in the Third World, it increases the global capitalist oligarchs' opportunities for exploitation and has a correlative effect of depressing the wages and deteriorating the working conditions of people all over the world. Michael Parenti wrote a provocative essay for CovertAction Quarterly back in 2002 which connects the fall of Communism with the global rollback of the rights and gains of workers everywhere that we saw throughout the 90s and which continues today unabated at breakneck speed.

However, global poverty and injustice is being exacerbated, if not institutionalized by institutions and agreements which Clinton openly and vociferously supported during his two terms; i.e. NAFTA, WTO, IMF, the World Bank, etc. I had absolutely no reason to believe that Kerry or Gore would have done it differently – (while we’re on the subject of poverty, Gore, as noted by Stephen Pimpare in his book The New Victorians,, was a key player in getting Clinton’s vicious welfare reform passed, which led to sharp increases in child poverty in the U.S. as Paul Street pointed out in a speech at the Work, Welfare and Families Annual Summit on Low-Income Families).

Global poverty and suffering did not decrease under Clinton (and we know it increased markedly in Iraq as he specifically intended) and we also know that they would not have decreased under a Gore or Kerry administration, given the irrefragable fact that they received (and still receive) millions of dollars in campaign contributions from the very industries and oligarchs who profit from this system (Ralph Nader pointed out during his debate with Howard Dean that Bush and Kerry's top 10 donors were more or less the same companies - primarily the banking and finance moguls).

Democrats and Republicans are indistinguishable in their desire to maintain the U.S.'s position as the world's economic core and to keep the countries of Africa, Asia and Central/South America in the periphery, functioning as extraction economies. (I still find Immanuel Wallerstein's World Systems Theory to be the best lens through which one can properly examine the capitalist system).

Aside: Consistent with Michael and JSP's Orthrian theory, one great example of how the Democrats actively promote their own demise, as well as the demise of informed citizenship, was demonstrated by John Kerry's active support for the further monopolization of the telecommunications industry ( his biggest donor during the 2004 campaign). Ironically, I still read tons of articles by liberals that decry the increasingly "right-wing" orientation of the media...

March 20, 2006

Show me the money

Here's some news: seems the nation's leading catalytic donk orgs are flush with dough these days. At least, so claims a recent piece in my local Boston Globe:
"....2005 Federal Election Commission reports indicate that five of the top 10 richest tax-exempt 527 political issue groups were liberal.... Of the top 10 political action committees, eight were liberal or affiliated with organized labor, with substantially more cash on hand than conservative groups such as the National Rifle Association or GOP-friendly corporate PACs such as the National Association of Realtors."
Brace yourselves, 'cause here comes the hog scramble for all that cash. Here's the Globe's rundown so far:

First there's the former Senator from North Carolina, John Edwards, He's after union bucks. Squaresville, eh? He's backing "a new effort to unionize hotel workers." Then there's Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, who is said to be "music to the ears of activists on the left." Filling the next quantum orbit: the dead center guy, Mark Warner, former Virginia governor, who "recently hired one of the leftist blogosphere's biggest names to run his Internet outreach campaign... Jerome Armstrong, founder of the popular leftist blog MyDD.com."

I'll skip some others that add little. But can you see a trend here? The Globe does:

" ...prospective Democratic presidential candidates, even those with centrist credentials [are] actively courting the Democratic Party's left wing."
And why? Because the left "speaks loudly through its blogs." Err... okay... what's that? There's another reason? The Left "enjoys rising fund-raising clout"?

Ah, now you're talkin'.

The message of one and all: ''It's very important for them to know we'll fight for their beliefs." That's Edwards talking -- the guy who ran "as a moderate who supported the Iraq war." He's now "busy" trying to build "a large base of support on the left."

The Globe warns there's a down side to all this fancy strippin' for progressive cash: "Democratic centrists who look at the voter math worry about candidates who court the left," for fear that their party will turn off too many [cue reverb] "swing voters... swing voters... swing voters." A nationwide survey by pollsters Penn, Schoen, and Berland, who work for (among others) Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton, says that self-identified liberals are "only 16 percent of the population, compared with 36 percent who call themselves conservatives and 47 percent who say they are moderates."

Quite a dilemma, because that liberal 16% loom large in the primary-season gauntlet. So the classic Democratic office-seeker's strategy is to fleece the liberals during primary season, and fuck 'em afterwards.

There's a particularly big scurry for liberal fleece this year, since front-runner St Hillary created a void "in the hearts and minds of many liberal activists" by moving her band wagon to the war-fighting right. It's a void these other center Democrats "are rushing to fill" -- with hot air.

I wonder when the progs are going to get wise to this scam, and tell the hucksters "not this time, bub. I'm sick of this sub-Dickensian hustle farce." Don't expect it from His Holiness Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, Pope of prog-bloggery, who has issued, on behalf of "the blogsphere", a plenary indulgence to War Democrats, ''As long as they're suitably contrite and admit they made a mistake."

Speaking of forgiven sinners and reanimated corpses, guess what -- the Kerry nation lives. Yes, despite a showing last time worthy of the Tin Man from Oz, Senator tree-trunk moves on: "One of Kerry's major assets is his mostly liberal, activist-donor list of three million names," to which his miracle anti-Alito flubberduster drive "added nearly 80,000 names."

Adding insult to injury, it ain't just candidate campaign war chests the pro hacks dream these generous and well-heeled progs will fill. There's also to be ten thousand think tanks: "The newly launched Democracy Alliance has drawn together 85 well-heeled donors willing to commit $1 million each over five years to fund left-of-center think tanks, media operations, and other institutions designed to influence the national debate" -- from which we can expect an efflorescence of genius that will make Periclean Athens and Medicean Florence look small-time.

The sagacious Globe ends by striking a realistic note: "the winner of the Democratic primary will be decided more on the power of the purse than the power of the left" -- which seamlessly leads into the punch line: "The hands-down winner on that score (cash raising ) even her critics concede, could well be Hillary Rodham Clinton."

The libs may have deeper pockets than anybody knew, but there are others deeper still, and Hillary has a long arm in every one of 'em. She don't need no stinkin' bloggers.


March 22, 2006

Jeez, Louise

The honorable Louise Slaughter -- East Kentucky born, Dolly Parton voiced -- US representaive from New York CD 28, union tout, 10-termer and prog caucus stalwart -- recently released a "minority" report on the state of the people's house, otherwise known as the Lobby Occupied Congress -- or as the K-streeters familiarly call it among themselves, the "LOC ".

Need I say it -- this cry in the wilderness typifies the hideous donk hobble down there. According to Louise and company, the lobby problem is -- you guessed it -- a problem that mysteriously affects only Republicans. So the anti-lobby report, perversely, is a testament to the lobbies' power. K Street has spooked the Orthrian goo-goos like Louise into muted partisan barking.

If dear Louise had her druthers, one hopes she'd give off with a bipartisan blast -- "away, all lobby cravens, away." But nope, she stays in party harness.

I know she's got a heart and a mind. Louise, awake! Lay a lobby or two at old Rahm's door, why don't you? He may be one of your party, but he'll never hear a word you say otherwise.


March 23, 2006

Long live parochialism

Thus Tim D, in a comment a few days back:
The issue of intelligent design, in my opinion, is something for local school districts to decide individually. The pro-corporate, ultra-nationalist character of our de facto national curriculum is perhaps the biggest problem facing education today, since the facts of U.S. foreign policy, U.S. history and the U.S. political system are all ignored or white washed, leaving citizens wholly uninformed as well as ever willing to lay down their life for latest war for the cause of empire and the capitalist oligarchs' profits.
Time was I would have found this idea utterly wrong-headed. Maybe because I'm a Southerner originally, localism always seemed to me like a sure-fire recipe for reaction. Local school boards indeed! Hang 'em all from the nearest lamppost -- I was very much the centralizing Jacobin.

Lately, though, ideas like the one Tim articulates above have started to seem rather persuasive. I suspect one of the reasons that tom-fool notions like prayer in the schools, or the rights of the fetus, or "intelligent design" have started to seem important to people, is that the stances most of us would consider obviously reasonable on these issues have been imposed, not by the political process in which people can at least believe they have a role to play, but by the courts, which all sensible people despise and recognize for the undemocratic, daddy-knows-best institutions they are.

The fetus fanciers and the garden-of-Edeners have the built-in advantage of casting themselves as the defenders of bottom-up democracy, as against the top-down, authoritarian, legalistic paradigm favored by the people who are so strangely referred to as "liberals". If the obscurantists were fighting their neighbors instead of the ancestral enemy in Washington, they wouldn't have such an easy time of it.

But enlightened folks prefer to write a check to the ACLU and pray for a Democrat in the White House, rather than mixing it up with their uncouth, Bible-thumping neighbors in the local political process.

I had some thoughts about this, not as well-developed as I'd like, in Chapter 14 of my book-in-progress, Stop Me Before I Vote Again.

March 28, 2006

Dick out

What's wrong with impeaching Dick Cheney? Fire a shot across Georgie's bow. Why should any Dem find an investigation of the veep creep an election-year problem?

Some House prog needs to get this going. Bernie Sanders, I nominate you -- you Swiss army knife among fakers, you dullest doink in a very dull bunch.

March 29, 2006

The hell with competence

I'm noticing lately a new buzzword being flung about by Democrats: "competence." We're supposed to believe that the Democrats are or would be more "competent" than the Republicans. Two thoughts come to mind:

1. Doesn't this tacitly acknowledge what Left critics of the Democrats have been saying for years -- namely that there is no substantial difference, on any genuinely political question, between the parties? If the Democrats are reduced to running on "competence", isn't that because there's no matter of substance that differentiates them from the Republicans?

2. Why on earth should the idea of competence appeal to us? Do we want a more competently run Iraq war, a better organized police state, faster job exportation, and enhanced transfer of wealth to the very,very rich from everybody else?

In fact, given this bipartisan consensus to screw us every way they can, incompetence is the best we can hope for.


I have seen the future, and it's Tony Blair

It's kind of an interesting speculative question: is the Democratic Party as bad, yet, as Tony Blair's New Labour? Or does it have a ways to go?

Either way, the New Labour example shows, I think, why it's vital to deprive the Democrats of their triumph this year -- and even more in '08. It's possible that the Rahm Emanuels, the Schumers, the Hillary Clintons, don't yet have complete and unquestioned control of the party -- a long shot, but possible. But if their dreams come true this fall, or in '08, Rahm and Chuck will be vindicated.

Blair's leverage, such as it is, derives from the fact that he brought the party back into power after the long drought of the Thatcher years. Give Rahm and Chuck a similar lever, and we'll be as badly off as the Brits are.

Can anyone doubt that the Brits are worse off now, with Blair in charge of Labour, than they were with Thatcher in Downing Street? Note that this is not the same as to say that Labour is "as bad as" the Tories, or that the Tories "would have done" exactly the same things.

The reason why the Brits are worse off now is simply that Labour is a frankly, avowedly, reactionary party -- its version of the Rahm and Chuck Show is in the driver's seat. Reaction owns both parties, lock, stock, and barrel, and neither party bothers to hide the fact -- indeed, they glory in it. Tories and Laborites have nothing to quarrel about except some stupid scandal now and again, and the result is an Iron Wall of bipartisan consensus, a political lockdown, a drastic shrinkage of political space.

Labour has been pretty pathetic for a long time -- like the Democrats. Like the Democrats, it was a poorly-organized, internally-divided, timorous and compromised operation. But the Keystone Kops are much preferable to a well-trained, highly disciplined, buff and nautilized Delta Force of right-wing throat-cutters.

If Rahm & co. succeed in November, and especially if they succeed two years from now, we'll see the complete triumph of Blairization within the Democratic Party. This will be great for the party and really, really bad for everybody else in the world.

A skeptic might ask why it matters -- the Democratic Party is such a useless, compromised, right-wing outfit that really, who cares whether it's openly Blairized or only Blairized behind the scenes? What difference does it make?

I think the answer runs along these lines: it's a good idea to deprive the enemy of a victory whenever you can, even if the tactical objective is not terribly important. Open, frank Blairization would be a victory for the really really bad people -- the Rahms and the Chucks and the people who pull their strings -- people who really couldn't care less about parties, but care a great deal about their wealth and power. If we can somehow deprive them of that victory, well , we should.

A victory for Rahm and Chuck and the other Blairizers in Novermber would be a net gain for what I can only call the forces of evil. The Blair strategy is, in essence, to say frankly that from henceforth there will be no opposition party; there will only be a competitor party, an alternative gang of right-wing thugs to call in whenever the other gang seems to be underperforming.

Whether the Democratic Party is already fully Blairized or not is an interesting question, but academic. The response of any decent person has to be the same, either way: A Blairized party must at all costs be rejected, and a party whose success would Blairize it must not succeed.


April 10, 2006

Fat Man and Little Boy

This one's for you folks out there who can't quite leave the Democrats' recycled Republican hemlock alone... yet.

Maybe we abstainers, spoilers, and all-round rumpus-mongers, even if you can't quite make up your mind to join us, at least make for a preferable state of affairs. If there were no bolters at all -- then a stream of sedulous cows plodding to the slaughter strikes me as very stable indeed. Better somebody breaks ranks here -- instead of just the endless moos of anguish, eh? It might suggest to our cowpunching herders "Hey guys, a stampede is, errrr, maybe possible round here."

To take this in another direction -- policy forks like this one remind me of A-bomb building back in the heroic Forties. Seems even at the outset there were two clearly alternate pathways to a workable nuke -- the uranium route and the plutonium route. So it's 1942, and which do we allies choose? Remember, this is America in its highest gear, maybe its finest hour -- so what else, we built... both.

I say let's take a tip from the Manhattan project. When it comes to building a real explosive prog party, you conscientious elite players keep up your boring from within the donk's belly, while we'll split and attack the neo-liberal market dogs and imperial humanists from outside.

My bomb metaphor nicely shifts to a phase two: fusion -- the big one -- the bomb of unlimited power. That's buildable when the two now wedged-way-apart wings of the American mass public can be slammed back together by a progressive party of the people.

April 11, 2006

Splitsville

Since the Rubinites and St Hills like the notion of "a responsible redeployment" -- whether of our imperial troops or our imperial dollars -- I say lets responsibly redeploy them too. Let's split the donk team in two.

Bob and Hillary can form a new party -- a middle party -- an SUV-loathing, soccer-mom, 200k per annum, gated professional party. Like Germany's liberal democrats or the UK's similar setup -- that bow-tied rumpskin of the party of Gladstone.

And then us progs and plebs can march off to our own new rally pole, under the banner of Andy Jackson and Bryan and ML King.

Bob and Hill get "Peanuts" Carter and the lesser of the two Clintons, of course; and history being generous, they can try to hold on to a share of the Roosevelt legacy. As for JFK, they can have him all, and welcome, and no doubt they will want to hang an effigy of ole Marse Tom Jefferson over the door and pretend it's an ancestral portrait. They can also have their present well focus-grouped party slogan, "together we can do better" -- much good may it do them.

We'll scare up a new slogan of our own. My suggestion, just to get the dialogue rolling:

"Baby, the kickin' jackass is back."


April 12, 2006

The gatekeepers crash

The panic on the right over the House immigration rectification bill, with its odious cleansing thru criminalization provision, obviously expresses the very human shock-and-awe flight instinct at the incredible size, strength, and fury of the demonstrations that the recent press release of their final solution has provoked.

But hey, it's a bipartisan stampede we got here, as both leaderships try to put as much distance as possible between their parties and this once and future El Supremo wedge issue.

Why future?

We haven't seen the end of this by a long shot. The Latino "invasion" of the sun belt will play well to nativists, once the now fleeing bad boys stop running like jackrabbits, regroup and pound away at this Kosovo-type issue.

But that's not today, and my guess is, not even next November. For now, let's all delight in this rout. Let the electorate savor the taste of a Republican house majority that would wish nothing more out of life then to round up all the 12 million undocumented immigrants and throw 'em into concentration camps -- and there they are, these creeps, in blind flight. Yup, the vicious clowns have totally lost their nerve.

But so have 36 pairs of long ears too -- donks who supported the bill full force. And they're long ears of many colors too -- as in the likes of would-be senator Harold Ford, man of La Raza John Salazar, and dirty old Ted Strickland.

But there's even more and better donkey manure here: today's Washington Post tells us:

... it was the deft maneuvering of Democrats that preserved the bill's most infamous provision, declaring illegal immigrants felons... [that provision] has helped turn the bill into a political albatross for... Republicans.
Yep, the Post thinks the donks hung one on 'em. After the red meat bill hit the floor 190 partisan Iago-like dems saw to it the hideous felony provision stuck to that bill like Jerry Lewis to Labor Day, voting effectively to knock down a softening amendment offered by the bill's Repub authors. Talk about playing "inside baseball" -- here's a nice "sez it all" quote, from Repub rep Tom Price:
We're victims of our own success.

April 13, 2006

O candid reader...

... we appeal to you for help. No, we're not asking for money, but the mill needs grist. Drop us an email at mjs@smithbowen.net when you see something we should be blogging about -- a news item, a brilliant or foolish essay on some other site or publication. A blog is an insatiable, ravening beast, and it must be fed.


April 17, 2006

Form and content

Tim D has posted a comment here that itself contains a comment:
I posted a comment on the Guardian's site about Gary Younge's Jesse Jackson article, in which I pointed out the disconnect between the politics of the rank-and-file and those of the office holders. Here was one of the responses to that comment:
I'll avoid the political science jargon, but look up the median voter theorem -- it explains why, in a first-past-the-post system, two-party politics is most likely and the two parties are likely to adopt effectively similar platforms. It has nothing to do with corruption, just with the need to get 50% +1 of the total number of votes cast. It doesn't matter *how much* your supporters actually like your position, just that more of them like your position than that of your opponent. Representatives are often "unrepresentative" of their constitutents; American blacks tend to be social conservatives, uncomfortable with homosexuality and abortion, yet black Congressmen are overwhelmingly in favour of gay and reproductive rights.
Far be it from me, as an atttack trained economist to appear to hold formal vote system models like this at arm's length one only needs to open any "first class" academic journal to see this Euclidean vice controls the better half of my "science", and has, I'd say, since the last quarter of the 19th century.

However the midget with the big cigar in me sees all this algebraic goo gaw about N electoral parties in the Mth method of election as being very looking-glass indeed.

To me, the formalities change no long-run outcomes.

Now long runs get to be long with some fellahs -- using the proper yardstick, the difference between FDR and Hitler are formalities -- but I think it helps me to extract this from the midnight gray of all long run cows:

The formalities do in large part answer this key question -- at what remove from the citizenry is the choice to and of compromise made? Our first-past-poster leads to the ultimate dirty-hands collaboration -- the citizen him/her self is forced by party funnels into preference constraints, i.e. the people vote directly for one or other of these squalid mass checkerboard compromise hack candidates like Hubert Humphrey or Howard Baker pick one please ...now !!!

Yes we end with only two stable parties, because each needs victory right at ground level in 435 districts, so they look toward the center of the district i.e. the middle heap, the unstructured inarticulate morass in quest of 50 plus 1.

But here's my point -- the alternative formalisms still seem to me to put the compromise somewhere, not nowhere. I don't believe the state makes more compromise then it can afford -- err, till it massively breaks down, which thank the gods of social motion always eventually happens.

Take the other extreme -- America's comic side kick "other" and living anachronism Israel, which seems ultimately to rock to the same beat we do, even with a system of proportional representation as far away from ours as possible.

Well ....so much for substance over form, at least at the level of the ultimate state.


Side light on today : speaking of the level of state -- there's our House and Senate. The Madisonian analysis behind our House of Reps never leaves my mind for long -- but it right now reflects one thing clearly: the logrolling, logjam, inherent characteristics of pop elected rep set ups are no way to run an empire. Their motions and actions, left unguided from above, reflect interests in conflict, and the study of their mechanics has a long and noble history. However since the emergence of the security state smart folks have attempted to explain its fifth wheel status.

I like C.W. Mills' take best -- the rep system essentially has been a side show since Pearl Harbor. It's too slow and too befuddled to run an empire. It was always too slow to run a war -- but empire means perpetual war status. In a nut shell, checks and balances can't get us to the launch pad on time for the first strike. It's always been clear, at certain key points where forces counter pose so well the body ceases to produce anything beyond make believe and flatulence, even the most watery of compromises is impossible. The sterling case: slavery. But the security state we've lived under since Pearl Harbor has set Uncle Sam a new task -- run a global empire -- a task that can't wait on Senator Claghorn's glass slippers. So the last 65 years or so, a fast-moving unelected, self-perpetuating self-appointed elite has run the main events above the heads of Congress. Thats what it takes to keep the imperium humming.

The election today that really counts happens but once in four years and is for one office only -- and the race for that office, I contend, is a post-party affair if we admit it to ourselves. The whys of that I'll leave for a later post.


Hiatus

Blogstoker MJS will be taking off today for a couple of Net-less days in the Adirondacks -- back Wednesday. Things may get a little slow around here, unless JSP decides to become a born-again techie.

April 19, 2006

Stranger than fiction

Just a link to a fine article at Counterpunch -- a tale of two members of Congress, Lantos and McKinney. It's a must read, as if torn from the pages of Dickens. Perfect supporting cast of villains and oafs -- the harpies of AIPAC, the fat-necked capitol hill police.

And its also a tale of two caucuses -- one black and spineless, and the other mislabeled human, when it's only self-righteous.

In the episode of the run over foot reality commits a direct plagiarism from Tale of Two Cities. Watch Lantos morph from Pecksniffian fraud to noble vampire of the ancient regime -- amazing stuff.

April 21, 2006

Top of the pops?!?!

Alan Smithee writes:

I may be hallucinating this. I did, after all, just finish a Uwe Boll film festival and there&apss sure to be at least some brain damage. But if I'm reading this right...

According to the merry number-crunching gnomes at Angus Reid Global Scan, Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson is the best-rated person currently serving in the sausage factory we call the U.S. Senate. This begs the question: Best-rated by who? Gently retarded clams?

Nelson, a perennial basement dweller on the Patrick Henry Club's Easy Senate Score Chart, is only slightly less conservative than Connecticut&apss own crypto-conservative Senator Joe Lieberman. If Zell Miller weren't still (somehow) alive, Ben Miller would likely be his reincarnation. Do we really need any further proof that (ding dong) the Donkey's Dead? I sure don't think so.

. The Invisible Hand of Alan Smithee

Princeton gives up on us

From "Musical Chairs: Pocketbook Voting and the Limits of Democratic Accountability," by Achen and Bartels:
First, the voters are poorly informed, as so many have noted. But second -- and here we part company with the consensus -- citizens cannot perform sensible retrospective judgments at election time. They reward and punish for events no administration can control.

Moreover, while they know how they feel at the moment, they lose all track of how they have felt over the course of the administration's term in office. Like medical patients recalling colonoscopies, their assessments of past pain and pleasure are significantly biased by "duration neglect" (Kahneman 2000; Redelmeier, Katz, and Kahneman 2003).

Comparing a Presidential administration to a colonoscopy is certainly fair enough. But what is curious about this paper is what it omits to mention. Achen and Bartels, from their Princeton chairs, are very severe on the poor voter, who is said to be ill-informed, ill-educated, and let's face it, not very bright. But their discussion proceeds from start to finish as if the voter had a real, important choice to make. On that assumption, the voter's susceptibility to last-minute weather, fair or foul, seems very light-minded. But what if voting really is a meaningless act -- wouldn't you then expect that rational people would vote for the guy with the nicer necktie?


April 23, 2006

Voter remorse

Alan Smithee reports:

Those wacky Canuck pollsters have emerged once again from their Dilbert covered cubicles with this report on buyers remorse. To wit:

Kerry Would Defeat Bush in New U.S. Election

April 22, 2006

(Angus Reid Global Scan) - The outcome of the 2004 United States presidential election would be different if a new ballot took place this year, according to a poll by Bloomberg and the Los Angeles Times. 47 per cent of respondents would vote for Democrat John Kerry, while 40 per cent would support Republican George W. Bush....

Polling Data

Regardless of how you may have voted in the presidential election in November 2004, knowing what you know today, would you vote for George W. Bush or John Kerry if the presidential election was being held today?

  • John Kerry (D) 47%
  • George W. Bush (R) 40%
  • Someone else 6%
  • Would not vote 4%
  • Don't know 3%
What to make of this? Given the accuracy of the average poll, probably not much. But I have to wonder, however briefly, at the motives behind commissioning such a passive-aggressive poll. Was it an "I told ya so!" sort of thing or did they just need an item for "News of the Weird"? Perhaps only their Personal Life Coaches know for sure.

The Invisible Hand of Alan Smithee

April 24, 2006

Diamonds and the rough

Tim D passes this along:

This is from the latest installment of William Blum's indispensable Anti-Empire Report (www.killinghope.org):

Charles Taylor and that fake opposition party known as the Democrats

Some things I have to repeat, because the news makes them relevant once again, and because the media ignores them once again. Charles Taylor, former president of Liberia, has been captured and is being held for trial in a UN-sponsored war-crimes court in neighboring Sierra Leone. In 2003 Taylor was indicted by this court for "bearing the greatest responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity and serious violations of international humanitarian law" during Sierra Leone's civil war. The United States, along with the rest of the world, condemns Taylor, applauds his capture, and calls for his punishment. What we're not reminded of is this:

      In 1998, President Clinton sent Rev. Jesse Jackson as his special envoy to Liberia and Sierra Leone, the latter being in the midst of one of the great horrors of the 20th century -- You may remember the army of mostly young boys, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), who went around raping and chopping off people's arms and legs. African and world opinion was enraged against the RUF, which was committed to protecting the diamond mines they controlled. Taylor was an indispensable ally and supporter of the RUF and Jackson was an old friend of his. Jesse was not sent to the region to try to curtail the RUF's atrocities, nor to hound Taylor about his widespread human rights violations, but instead, in June 1999, Jackson and other American officials drafted entire sections of an accord that made RUF leader, Foday Sankoh, Sierra Leone's vice president, and gave him official control over the diamond mines, the country's major source of wealth.(14)

      And what was the Clinton administration's interest in all this? It's been speculated that the answer lies with certain individuals with ties to the diamond industry and to Clinton, while he was president or while governor of Arkansas; for example, Maurice Tempelsman, generous contributor to the Democratic Party and escort of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright around this time, whose Antwerp, Amsterdam and Tel Aviv diamond marts arranged for Sierra Leone diamond sales to Tiffany and Cartier.(15)


(14) Ryan Lizza, "Where angels fear to tread", New Republic, July 24, 2000

(15) The Washington Post, August 2, 1997, p.A1 and February 6, 1998, p.B1 re Tempelsman. Other speculation in various places has concerned diamond investors Jean Raymond Boulle and Robert Friedland, each with alleged ties to Clinton.

The dog that isn't barking

There's a levelness to the waters round here -- the sharks pass by with jaws well padlocked.

Nothing signals we're about to hit a cyclonic upturn in partisan nastiness -- least of all that wet fuse leading to bomb Iran.

Can the pattern of bilge flow keep this up? I mean without resort to an utterly fabricated exciting new attraction? Or are we fated to drift from here till the next cataract? And speaking of next cataracts -- for God's sake November remains 6 months away.

Can we possibly drift that long?

April 25, 2006

Donkey snouts at the telco trough

David Sirota indignantly writes:
Since my book, Hostile Takeover, is a look at how both parties engage in corruption, people have asked me a lot lately for good examples of exactly who is leading the Hostile Takeover of the Democratic Party on behalf of Big Money interests. While there are certainly a lot of examples, today it seems the best example comes in the form of Mike McCurry. The former Clinton press secretary, who appears throughout the media billed as a party strategist, is now using his skills to try to destroy the Internet on behalf of the big telecom companies.
I love the shocked, stunned way way people talk about the corporate "takeover" of the Democratic Party -- when exactly did this happen, David? Last week? But that's not really my point here. Of course it's delightful, and far from surprising, that a Clintonoid sleazeball like McCurry should be whoring for corporate America. But what Sirota neglects to mention is that our friends the Congressional Democrats are -- as usual -- doing their bit too.

Congressman Joe Barton of Texas has introduced a thing called the Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act (COPE) -- don't you love these titles? Barton chairs the Telecommunications and the Internet subcommittee (of the Energy and Commerce Committee -- God, what a labyrinth of pettifoggery). His co-sponsor is, naturally, a Democrat, Bobby Rush, from Illinois. The technical details are tedious, but savetheinternet.com sums it up pretty well:

"Network neutrality" ... ensures that the public can view the smallest blog just as easily as the largest corporate Web site by preventing Internet companies like AT&T from rigging the playing field for only the highest-paying sites.

But Internet providers like AT&T and Verizon are spending millions of dollars lobbying Congress to gut Net Neutrality....

Net neutrality ensures that all users can access the content or run the applications and devices of their choice. With net neutrality, the network's only job is to move data — not choose which data to privilege with higher quality service....

The nation's largest telephone and cable companies — including AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner — want to be Internet gatekeepers, deciding which Web sites go fast or slow and which won't load at all.

They want to tax content providers to guarantee speedy delivery of their data. They want to discriminate in favor of their own search engines, Internet phone services, and streaming video — while slowing down or blocking their competitors.

The Barton/Rush bill, of course, was written to telco order, and allows the fiber barons to extort whatever the traffic will bear in order to let your content through.

For some no doubt celestially reasonable reason, this bill doesn't have a number, and the usual Congressional sites aren't recording votes. But as near as I can make out, of the twelve Democrats on the subcommittee who have voted one way or the other on this shining example of government giveaway to corporations, five have been supporting it:

  • Albert Wynn (MD)
  • Charles Gonzalez (TX)
  • Edolphus Towns (NY)
  • Bobby Rush (IL)
  • Bart Stupak (MI)
My favorite, of course, is Towns -- if ever a guy deserved a place of honor in the Soup Hound Hall Of Fame, he's it.


Livin' la Migra loca

The Boston Globe reports on the Bush bash of the House Republicans' pet wet dream: a Migra concentration-camp solution. It's kind of funny, because each of Orthrus' heads has two hands, for a total of four on-the-other-hands:
Business interests and their Republican allies... generally support leniency for undocumented immigrants, who provide an abundant supply of cheap labor.
But on the other elephantine hand:
The GOP's populists and law-and-order factions, however, oppose any plan that allows more immigrants to stay in the country, deriding any such plan as amnesty for law-breakers.
Now for the donkey head's hands:
Among Democrats, some liberals and civil rights groups have tended to support the immigrants....
(Not to mention Latino America) -- but on the other-- oh, you know:
but some in organized labor -- a traditional Democratic ally -- contend that adding a guest worker program to the national labor pool would help drive down wages for working-class Americans.
So hey, maybe we have an issue here that can blow both these animals sky-high.

Then again, maybe I understate the Republican options -- watch for this Red Sea splitter from Bush -- "Boys, let's detain the sorry few, not deport the toiling many." Set up the camps and treat a few nasty brown fall guys very bestially -- Circus Maximus for the paleface viewership of Fox News -- but keep the inflow coming, so the meat plants hum like Virgil's hives.

Hey, it works for cocaine, doesn't it?


April 27, 2006

Rock and a hard place

Hey, this raging oil price and profit fire just won't go out by itself. Check Our Lady today:
Second Thoughts in Congress on Oil Tax Breaks

WASHINGTON, April 26 - As anxiety spread in Congress on Wednesday over soaring oil prices, lawmakers in both parties said they were ready to take a tough look at oil and gas incentives they passed as recently as eight months ago.

The gimmick: maybe if our elected representatives spray it with a little bipartisan Congressional ghost piss, it'll simmer down some.

Yup -- both houses, both parties are going into takeback mode: and why not? Now that its clearly too late for anything beyond too little, suddenly the lot of 'em are wild for barber-chairing the big-energy boys. And to think -- all this war-dancing just a session or two after a series of shameless special love-nest tax cuts and sugar-daddy type public fork-overs. Bipartisan fork-overs, of course.

* * *

God love the best of the elephants, but aren't they still trying to slip big oil some more tarts, even as the nation stands as one and cries "cut their balls off!" Yes indeed -- in the name of all that's bravely indecent, these legendary diehards are still trying for greater dereg and wider lease-out. Even now -- even as part of its own pretend opposite -- like a kazoo among the Strauss strings.

April 28, 2006

Democracy: it's dangerous

Alan Smithee, in an earlier post, made a good point. He reported on a poll:
The survey also asked respondents how they would vote if "a third party candidate ran in 2008 and promised to build a barrier along the Mexican border and make enforcement of immigration law his top priority." ... With that option, support fell sharply for both major parties. The Democrats still come out on top with support from 31% of Americans. The third party candidate moved into a virtual tie at 30% while the GOP fell to 21%.
This is what you always run into if you want to embrace the Jacksonian energies of the public. Public attitudes are a very mixed bag. Always have been -- the Jacksonian moment itself was a melange of things we would now consider quite wonderful and things we would consider quite appalling; same goes for the populist moment.

Part of the problem is that the folks have been simmering all their lives long in our toxic cultural broth of American self-congratulation and macho chest-thumping. They really haven't heard any opposing ideas that have any vigor -- just the "play nice" nanny-ism of the liberals. And even if that weren't so, there's no place in the world where immigration, in particular, doesn't make people anxious and bring out a mean streak in the citizenry.

You can think of all these attitudes and impulses swirling around in the public mind as if they were chemicals in solution; which ones precipitate out, or better, crystallize, can change depending on what you do with the solution. In particular, the answer you get depends crucially on the question you ask. The poll that Alan cites asked about a border wall, not about raising the minimum wage or protecting domestic jobs. Given a choice between a border wall and something that they believed would directly affect their economic well-being, would people be quite so carried away by chauvinism?

Making intelligent choices takes practice, and you're apt to make a few unintelligent ones before you get the hang of it. The American public hasn't had many opportunities to make real choices -- that's the whole point of this empty charade we call an electoral system, to deprive people of meaningful choice. Even more to the point, the public hasn't been confronted with the necessity to make a real choice, which is even more important. The public hasn't been given a clear-cut "if you want X, you can't have Y," where X and Y are both important to them. Both the Orthrian parties promise the public a cake that can be had and eaten at the same time. So people aren't accustomed to making, on the political plane, the kind of difficult adult decisions that they make all the time in daily life. This is why, on the political plane, Americans often seem very infantile and even stupid, whereas in their work and home life they are as grown-up and smart as any other nation (except when they're driving a car, but that's a special case of induced psychosis).

Personally, I wouldn't at all mind seeing a rabid bar-the-doors party taking some wind out of the Republicans' sails, as long as there was an equally rabid protect-your-job, protect-your-wages party doing the same to the Democrats. People could then decide -- would then have to decide -- what they really wanted. It could get a little hair-raising -- people are quite capable of making bad, foolish choices -- but all in all, I do think that given a real choice between their real interests on the one hand, and the Theater of Cruelty on the other, people would more often than not eschew the theater, though not without regret for its pulse-pounding excitements.


May 4, 2006

Mommy, and pop

Tim D. writes:
And you guys said Clinton was a bad guy!!!

No but really...the major corporations didn't even really fight it. What gives?

Sugary drinks banned from sale in schools

Associated Press in New York
Thursday May 4, 2006

Guardian
Tens of millions of children will no longer be able to buy non-diet soft drinks in US state schools under an agreement announced yesterday between major distributors and anti-obesity campaigners.

The distributors, working with a joint initiative of the William J Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association, also have agreed to sell only water, juice and low-fat milks to primary and middle schools, said Jay Carson, a spokesman for former President Bill Clinton.

Cadbury Schweppes, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and the American Beverage Association have signed up for the deal.

My guess is that they make a much better margin on the water. Since it's a captive market they can collude.


May 8, 2006

File under: Brass balls

From a biographer of JK Galbraith:
President Clinton admired Galbraith enough that shortly before he left office, he wrote with the idea that the two of them would write a book on the future of American government. Galbraith weighed the idea for a while but finally declined. He liked Clinton, he said, but Clinton hadn't learned a basic truth about politics. "As I told Harry Truman," Galbraith said, "what this country doesn't need is two Republican parties. One is more than enough."

May 10, 2006

Vive la Republique

A ways back, I preemptively scoffed at the might-be if there really were an impeach-Bush congressional donkey stampede. Well, here's the bright side of that paper moon -- a demand to restore our constitution to its proper set of orbits. I.e. blast this unitary prez shit back to the 17th century where it belongs. Congress needs to restore the balance by asserting its powers under the Constitution. Our little would-be Louis XIV here needs his sun eclipsed -- and if Hillary makes it back to the White House in '08, she should be impeached as soon as she's taken the oath of office. In fact every President should be impeached immediately, until we've cut that overinflated, Neronian office back to size.

May 11, 2006

Polar expedition

Alan Smithee commented on an earlier JSP post:
It seems to me that a sharp decrease in split-ticket voting would indicate an increase in the polarization of the electorate itself, rather than any effect produced by gerrymandering.

Good grief. Did I just write that?

Alan was referring to this tidbit:
The old Dixie split ticket voting (CD donk / Repub prez) is down from a high in the 60-70's of 40% to a mere 13% today -- practically random error range.
This "polarization" trope -- you hear it everywhere these days. Seems a little strange to me, since at the same time the ideological range of organized politics in the US is probably narrower than it has been at any previous point in our history.

There are no more isolationists, no more protectionists, no more populists; Socialists and Commies are found only in vestigial sectarian pockets, like Gaelic speakers in Ireland. Nobody has a good word to say for unions, and indeed the union movement itself appears to be teetering at the edge of the grave. Republicans and Democrats beat the drum in rock-solid synchrony for air strikes on Iran, and vie only in the fulsomeness and fatuity of their panegyrics to Israel. The "left" cultists of Daily Kos and the "right" machiavels of the DLC disagree only about whether the Kosniks should be allowed into the party treehouse.

So what do people mean when they wag their heads gravely and deplore "polarization"? What are they referring to? I suspect it's just the shrillness of the rhetoric deployed about the sub-microscopic, Brownian differences in vocabulary and emphasis, the angstrom-scale positionings and repositionings of elected officialdom and the parties.

An academic friend of mine once observed that the intensity of struggle in a university English department was always in inverse proportion to the importance of the issue. The less consequential the stakes of victory or defeat, the more vicious and sanguinary the battle. A question of access to the Xerox machine would evoke more rancor and malice than the average fleet action.

Where politics is not really about anything except the organizational rivalry of two opportunist factions, perhaps it's necessary to keep cranking up the volume just in order to keep people's interest.

In this light, I'd think the decline of split-ticket voting has more to do with the unanimity of the parties than with anything you could really call "polarization". In the heyday of the split ticket, a significant chunk of the electorate seem to have picked a President on one set of criteria and an Congresscritter on a different set. The organizational and ideological differentiation of the parties, slight as it was even then by world standards, offered at least some opportunity for this kind of a-la-carte dining.

Nowadays, though, the parties are just "brands". They're both imperialist, globalist, statist, elitist, and corporatist -- just as Coke and Pepsi are both mostly sugar and carbonated water. With the parties, as with soft drinks, brand loyalty certainly exists, but it's based on third-order differences -- a touch of the soft pedal on gay marriage, say, or a tepid, timorous hint that it might be nice if women could decide whether to have babies or not.

Having nothing else on which to base their decisions, people make their brand choices based on these trace flavors, and having made them, there's no reason to vary the diet. Nobody drinks Coke by preference in the morning and Pepsi in the afternoon.

May 12, 2006

Know your donks

Q: Who started the highly profitable border control private opportunity spiral?

A: Sil Reyes, now a Democratic representative from El Paso.

Read this fine treatment of the recent jail-'em boom. Here's an excerpt:

"The origins of the modern immigrant detention complex can be traced to the mid-1990s, when Silvestre Reyes, then-head of the El Paso Border Patrol Sector (now a Democratic congressman from El Paso), initiated "Operation Blockade," a strategy of concentrating enforcement agents to snag immigrants once they cross the border. This drove up the number of apprehensions and set in motion a militarization of the southwestern border. The budget for border enforcement went from $1.2 billion in 1995 to $4.7 billion in 2006, and the number of Border Patrol agents doubled. In addition, sweeping immigration reform laws passed in 1996 by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton [emphasis mine -- JSP] allowed the deportation of any noncitizen convicted of such crimes as drunk driving, hot-check writing, and shoplifting, even if the crime occurred before the law went into effect. The 1996 legislation also required mandatory detention of any illegal immigrant deemed a "criminal alien," a noncitizen convicted or even suspected of illegal activity.

After you, Orthrus. -- No, after YOU, Orthrus!

Q: What have these three senators got in common, apart from the fact that they're all Democrats? :
  • Bill Nelson (Fla.)
  • Ben Nelson (Neb.)
  • Mark Pryor (Ark.)
A: They voted for $70 billion in tax cuts for the capital-gain and dividend set.

It was a beautiful thing, this vote, as carefully and decorously conducted as a solemn sarabande of olden days: Orthrus dines with Orthrus. Three Republicans symmetrically crossed the aisle to vote "no", and one Republican and one Democrat didn't vote (the Democrat was Jay Rockefeller, the Republican Arlen Specter). After all these stately evolutions, bows, handoffs and docey-dos, the bill squeaked by at the final cadence, 54-44.

May 14, 2006

Admit it? We GLORY in it

You can always count on the DLC types to back you up, when you've just blown a little foul air their way.

This from the Washpost:

From-tank "Third Way" reports the repubs aren't nearly as tough as Clinton was on undocs at the Rio Grande.

There it is folks, in facts and figures -- a point I tried making just a couple days ago.

May 15, 2006

From Andrew Jackson to Jesse Jackson

This may not go down well here at "Die, donk, die!" central -- but as the house Dem I venture this question for you wolves to rip to shreds:

The Jesse Jackson thing....

His brief moment say from '84 to '88: what if anything can we learn from reviewing this tale?

I've braced myself so fire away.

Know your donks: part XXX...

Remember that fine old phrase, "poverty pimp"? Well, here's one: Rep. Alan B. Mollohan, from the Third World state of West Virginia.

According to today's Washpost, this professional people's rep has made a 6 million dollar killing off his committee position.

No wonder the donks want to take the House back this fall. As Kos says, winning really is everything.

Summers is y-goen out, lhude sing cucu

J Alva put us on to a nice narrative about Larry "the Lip" Summers, ex-honcho of Harvard and veteran of various posts (including Treasury Secretary) under Bill Clinton. Summers really is the primo example of an alpha-wolf neo-lib elitist, and I agree, Larry's fall from the tippy top to the gutter outside Harvard Yard was a very gratifying spectacle. As J. Alva says, "The mean old left wing perfessers drove him out ."

But it reminded me of an older grudge against the Ivy League mindset itself. Maybe what we need around here is a defenestration of the whole lot of them mandarin types. Let's explode those hives of intellectual monopoly. JAS has shown us the way. "With broadband communications being so nifty and all," he observes,

"... administrators from other countries... could do the jobs much more efficiently and, it must be said, at some savings to the trustees."
JAS goes on to suggest the global exploitation of all those low cost of production professors in the former third world, and he suggests a perfect guinea pig:
The economics department is set up for the best of all possible experiments.... Let the students determine the free market value of the teaching.
.

May 16, 2006

The Mommy Dearest party

Donk senator Dick Durbin, après-Bush:
People who have broken our laws should not and will not be rewarded with amnesty. But people who work hard and play by the rules should have a chance to earn their way to legal status if they pay a fine, learn English, pay back taxes and go to the back of the line.
Pure me-too paleface booboisie pandering -- that's what makes the Democratic party tick.

May 17, 2006

Kateau, you fewl!

I cringe with fear and loathing at astute comparisons between our republic and that damn old Roman one -- the inventors of structural concrete, the bust shot, and proletarian loafing. It's because I simply can't bear to think we'll end as they did, in empire and dictatorship.

But look about us -- a unitary presidency with a lap congress and a star-chamber judiciary -- exactly how much more do we need? Aren't these not just the signs but the very substance of what ole marse Jeff most feared? Aren't we, ah... there, gang? The rest is formalities ...right ??

So it's only natural we have the Cato Institute stepping forward to warn us, with a recent publication: Power Surge : the Consitutional Record of George W Bush.

Could a finer source be found to decry the Empire than this outfit -- possibly the most wonderfully named of all the wildly grave and grandiose buffooneries we collect under the label "Washington think tank."

You've got to read this piece -- all I can think of that might have improved it would have been to release it simultaneously in English and Latin.

May 18, 2006

Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn'd

Listen, I'm no longer a fan, or even an interested spectator, of the bi- party races. Win, lose, up, down, the whole crazy quilt derby -- too many lives have already been lost down that rabbit hole. Not mine, never again.

But still the shade of Hunter S Thompson visits from time to time, in the dark dead of the night.

"What's with all the whispering in there, JS?" my glamorous girlfriend calls from the bedroom.

"Aaahh, what else, it's Thompson's ghost again, still trying to pull me back in."

"Don't listen to him," she warns, drowsily. But it's too late. HST is slipping me the inside signal. "Rove's got a new plan.... No, not that ham-fingered, helmeted 6k chorus binge down at the border -- that's a diversion -- like Patton's army at Dover. No, this is the big dice tumblin' here... watch for Rove's roll, maybe as soon as next Friday..."

I peg an inkwell at him, and he vanishes. I'm not gonna get re-hooked. Cheney or no Cheney, I'm a big-picture guy now, scanning the distant horizon for thunderheads.

May 21, 2006

Release the Kraken

More Thompson hauntings:

Brushing my teeth, there in the shaving mirror -- Hunter's degenerate pale grape-like head -- "JS, you chickenshit -- lash it up, pal. Theres no point in getting into politics again unless you plan on lashing things around."

Before I could even say "screw you, Thompson" -- zip, gonzo be gonzo.

Lashing things up.... my eye. But still -- as Rowan pointed out in a comment a couple days ago -- it's gettin' on for leg-breakin' time.

Scary. Who knows what forces might be unleashed. As J Alva says -- them christafearians might be ready to kill and die for the right to be right.

It's all getting pretty far out. The ground rumbles. Heavings, vast earth-cracking ruptures are being provoked.

Do you recall the story where Thor has the ocean, I think, by a hook, and while trying to "land him" is actually in the process of flipping this flat planet of his over like a pancake?

When the real deal starts to rumble, anything can happen. The Great War in Europe led to what -- a massive series of class convulsions -- Italy, Germany, Spain. So naturally there's the Hannah Arendt side of the brain saying, put a lid on the whole damn thing fast. And hey, that's always an option, especially for those not lodged under a bridge.

Fight fire with fire

Got a faith gap? Then wheel out your own God squad.

Credo according to the Washpost:

Religious liberals say their faith compels them to emphasize such issues as poverty, affordable health care and global warming. Disillusionment with the war in Iraq and opposition to Bush administration policies on secret prisons and torture have also fueled the movement.
Whoopee, light a candle for me, fellahs.

But hey, seriously now -- making sounds and burning incense worthy of the late Rev William Sloan Coffin -- is that really gonna get Jethro and Jolene to shift from their right ass cheek to their left?

So what's really up here? The gist of it seems to be  simple -- it's cosmetic, not cosmic. The  big time donks  have noticed their hee-haw secular nakedness, and now want a faith leaf to cover their liberal loins, when they walk in the eyes of their people.

That wild and crazy guy St Paul would have been ashamed of them -- doesn't he say somewhere that charity trumps faith, or words to that effect? And I gather that when he says "charity" he's not talking about the International Red Cross, though I'll leave it to The Rev. Smith to gloss the Greek for us.

May 22, 2006

The deepest thinker in Hollywood. No, really.

Seems that Oliver Stone is making a movie about the World Trade Center. Now since I live in New York I feel perfectly entitled to say that really wish no one would ever mention the World Trade Center again. It's bad enough when people who live here talk about it; it's insufferable when anybody else does.

That said, however, the subject and the director seem a perfect match: a topic upon which, it seems, nothing but windy cliches can be deployed, and a director who offers ruminations like these:

Sometimes history is shaped by the collective memory of people, men and women, and here was a great chance to work with these people.... And they gave us what I hope one day will be seen as the truth. For the truth must exist in some way to confront power and extremism.... [The film is] the true story of two New York Port Authority policemen who are trapped in the rubble, their wives and their children and the incredible and almost improbable rescue efforts to save them.
I especially like that line "incredible and almost improbable." Cf. Dogberry:
Masters, it is proved already that you are little better than false knaves; and it will go near to be thought so shortly.

May 24, 2006

De mortuis... oh, the hell with it

Marking the passthrough to the Other Side department:

A none-too-fond farewell to Lloyd Bentsen.

It  is easy to obit that silver fox. He represented everything that any self-respecting progressive should despise, to the ends of his/her toes, about  Dixie democracy, Texas style.

True, he wasn't the biggest jackass  prick of his generation -- but only because John Connally got there first.

Ralph Yarborough -- now THERE was a Texan worth remembering.

May 28, 2006

Brits discover Cold War liberalism

Call it open-source nation-building -- that's what some brightly lit social-Zionist bulbs prescribe for the crime of statifying while being third-world backward.

I'm sure you've read about this "Euston manifesto". I'll say nothing of it here, except to notice that screen-door emerging-nation borders aren't enough. Beyond transparency and an open door, the Eustonians want an open sky from which they can drop at any moment like X-men to aid clumps of innocent humanity in trouble. Which spells warning, warning, warning, Will Robinson, to all these little cruel dark-age state fanciers. 'Cause if we freedom-thru-progress superheroes get the rights violation alert, we're comin' in, and you need to practice how to submit to humane acts of brusque social surgery.

You must learn to expect interventions -- remain prepared to be worked upon, spruced juiced and traduced in the most intimate parts of your cultural software -- and all this jiggering may come at a moments' notice, by us wise metropolitain pre-emptors, us minders of everywhere else's humane welfare.

There's a choice, of course. You can either let us do it "nice", or if not, you can watch and feel how we do it -- as ole Tina used to say -- "rough."

Hands off X

Topic for Sunday pedantry -- why isolationism and anti-interventionism are not the same.

Okay, you could call isolationism, splendid or otherwise, a form of non-intervention -- and at its most basic, I suppose, you could call willful ignorance of the three-monkey kind a formula for isolationism.

But folks, that's just the problem. In a globe where our trans-nat corporations are already pushing their snouts into everywhere else, possible and impossible, isolationism as a national security posture is a formula for nasty surprises.

Pearl Harbor and the trade towers were both blowbacks -- no, passive national isolationism is no answer. Anti-interventionism means getting so called "American interests" the hell out of other folks' lunch pail and rain dance. And it for goddam sure it will require active -- very active -- political action. If we were to operate a proper anti-intervention regime here in the States, there would be not a single decently-connected mind in doubt, anywhere in the world, that if one of our trans-nat corporations pigs it up somewhere, the bastards are on their own. The marines ain't ever coming to clean up or clean out the mess they've made.

Furthermore, not just profiteers beware -- even (and maybe especially) cross-border NGO/NPO goo-goo outfits would be operating at their own risk also. Uncle has absolutely no call to back up these gratuitous uplift inflicters.

All anti-interventionism is by definition anti-unilateralism -- let the UN handle it, period!

Yes, pay our share of the costs -- more than our share, even. But let the UN be the bearer of the gifts of civilization -- such as they are and hereafter may become.

June 1, 2006

The gods are angry

We seem to be having some system trouble -- comments are getting lost. I'm trying to figure it out.

Gods may have calmed down

Comments seem to be working again, although I regret to say that a number of recent ones seem to have been lost.

June 3, 2006

Net, schmet

Question of the day:

Has the emergence of self-constructing internet communities created a new politics? Though I'n not a close watcher of these set ups -- that I've left to Doc Smiff -- but I have observed a struggle over just what these contrivances are. What sort of a communication network? The members-only sewing-circle sort, or a floating 24/7 teleconference among action-oriented cadre? A deliberative body? An administrative apparatus? Both? Neither?

What about the fearless-leader cult? Is this emergent characteristic optional or inevitable?

You all are the real blogonauts -- use the comments to help this ole hound understand.

June 5, 2006

Gunpowder, treason, and plot

These seventeen Canadian fertilizer bombers strike me as slapstick relief -- like the follow-up fizzle bombers in London.

They and their Marplot scheme have all the tender earmarks (or is it hoof marks?) of a hot house rose. Maybe some are wild -- hey, maybe most are -- but there are bound to be plants among 'em -- plants with a royal Mounty seal on their behind.

So har-har, right?

But then again the story of Lee Harvey's nurturing would have been a har-har too, if he hadn't beaten the long odds and hit what he shouldn'ta been able to hit.

June 7, 2006

The Truman switcheroo, coming soon to a sweatshop near you

"Politics is the art of the possible" -- the Iron Chancellor himself gets the attribution on that one. But vote-getter Orthrian politicking ain't politics as Bismark played it.

Let's wayback to 1948 -- a third-party challenge from the left has emerged to grapple with the bipartisan foreign policy of "containment". The Truman-led donkery is in a tizzy, because, among other things, through its fearless leader Henry Wallace this third party is creditably claiming to be the only party prepared to carry forward the full Roosevelt New Deal agenda -- full employment, civil equality, health insurance, union striking rights, etc., etc. Very potent stuff, right at the heart of the national Dems' franchise. Obviously this challenge will elect the Repubs if it gets its fair share of the electorate.

Enter Orthrian donk consigliere Clark Clifford, with a plan. A simple plan, in fact -- split the Wallace party platform into foreign planks and domestic planks, then scorn all the goo-goo anti-Cold War foreign planks, and more importantly, to really knock down the Wallace vote -- steal his domestic planks. Look just like him, and then run like hell on 'em.

Of course you'll do nothing whatsoever about any of it once in office -- in fact, the Dixie wingers momentarily in rebellion will be in for a pleasant surprise, when they return to the fold and find out just how empty the domestic promises were.

It worked, of course -- the devil wins most of the regular tricks; that's why we have the occasional judgement days.

"Promise 'em anything, but give 'em a cold war." 1948 was the peak of postwar donkery's pride and success, and it ushered in the permanent empire state, with everything that entailed for the next 50 years.

Why review this moment in our past? 'Cause right now the same Clark Clifford types are cooking breakfast for the same Orthrian crew. Watch the "party" paradigm shift domestically after this fall's win (if it happens). Watch the Barrage Obama of domestic smoke and mirrors neo-repealism, while overseas these bipartisan statesmen allow the same old killer potions to be poured about freely, by a chastened Republican apothecary.

For a new, more competent, tough-and-smart long-eared apothecary, we'll need to wait for '08 -- and watch what happens to the domestic plank then, donkey fans.

June 10, 2006

58 Democrats vote against net neutrality

The Markey amendent mandating net neutrality failed in the House; 58 Democrats voted against it.

June 13, 2006

Odora canum vis

*Begin Nixon voice* Let me make one thing purrrfectly clear... *End Nixon voice*

I'm glad we have professional politicians of the jackass kind to kick around. I don't blame the soup hounds one bit for all their fan dancing and preposterous abra-cadabra-ing.

Hey, they're just trying to make a living.

Fraudulent spells, sensless fear mongering -- all part of the package, the marketing effort.

They pour out this patent  hogwash, and will continue to pour it, just so long as we, the left side of the electorate, keep buying it.

If we've had our fill of this toxic brewage it's up to us to pit this long-eared medicine show out of its misery by tuning out its barkery, and, come election day, passing the back end of its painted wagon by.

June 15, 2006

Pressure cooking

In a comment here, robber.baron writes:
... I think before abandoning the Democratic Party completely and voting third party the left needs to work on pressure and influence who wins the nomination.
I, J S Paine, as official rep in virtual residence of the 'don't give up on em ...yet ' faction, want to reply to this.

The nugget here is "pressure and influence." I translate that as pressure equals threats of votes cast or withheld or placed elsewhere; and influence equals... well, money, mostly, but there's also volunteer time and energy. We'll return to that, but first let's think about the pressure side of the equation.

Withholding your vote -- the stay-at-home strategy -- obviously helps a little, since it proves the "elephants are coming!" cries of lesser-evilism have failed to terrify. Locally, that can matter, in tight districts, in a close race.

But the semiotics are more important. One way to read a stay-at-home vote is like this: "You're both stinkers, and I won't hold my nose and pull the jackass lever. It only encourages you hacks along your venal pathway."

But it can also be read other ways -- ways more consistent with the strategic thinking of the Demo poobahs. It's an ambiguous gesture.

So apathy is not a serious enough threat to get Party leadership's blood boiling. It takes a third-party vote to do that.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, fires up a donk pol pro hack like third party efforts. The evidence is everywhere -- from the Know-Nothings to the Populists to the several Prog incarnations to the recent Green scene.

My favorite almost-event:

We would have gotten Dewey in '48 if the Wallace prog ticket hadn't been kept off the Illinois ballot by wild dirty donkey foul play. 1948 would have been like 1848, 1912, 1992, or 2000, and maybe the fall of China and the Korean war would have been seen as Republican failures, and the donks might have moved left... okay, okay, I know I'm over the top with that last one.

But at any rate, since the cutting edge of pressure is threat threat threat, the more credible the threat, the better. And consequently, the higher the chance respect will turn into substantive accommodation.

Now as for influence, which comes from money and volunteer time -- nobody reading this, I'm sure, has enough money to make much of an impact -- not even all of us put together. So it comes down to our time and energy.

Just as the withheld vote is ambiguous, the withheld effort is ambiguous. If you really want 'em to miss you, you have to let 'em know what they're missing, by putting it elsewhere -- referenda, independent runs, activism outside the electoral arena... lots of possibilities.

robber.baron continues:

Of those who decided to run in 2004 there were drastically better options for a progressive agenda than John Kerry.
Okay, let's see what happens when a real choice, or even a shadow of a real choice, seizes the convention and the party levers. Let's look at George McGovern.

When the progs win control, the old pros will do all they can to see you lose the election. Unlike the progs, they don't at all mind scuttling the party's chances if they can't control it.

robber.baron:

I think we progressives need to fight to promote those potential candidates from within similar to how the religious right fights for socially conservative leanings from candidates in the Republican Party"
But... RB... we're already just exactly what the religious right is to the Repubs -- those poor religious caterpillars don't run anything. The business right runs the Republican party; those tub-thumpers and snake-handlers are just window-dressing. They're just as trapped as we donk prog secularists are in the Orthrian bind.

June 16, 2006

Hors de compute

Your editor will be Net-less from Saturday morning (the 17th) to Sunday evening (the 18th), so comments and new posts may not show up during that time, unless I can deputize somebody. See y'all Sunday evening.

June 19, 2006

General Will (not!)

More thoughts on lobbies:

When you think about AIPAC or Big Oil or the credit card lobby, remember the old Mad mag strip, "Spy vs Spy." That's the right model for Congress -- the unending war, now in year 218, the lobby war. "Lobby vs Lobby."

Only its not a black hat lobby against a white hat lobby -- nope, you gotta multiply by N, so it ends up like a bunch of hideous spectral variants on the patrons of the galactic cafe in Star Wars.

Spread these guys around capitol hill, only semi-visible three-d images, and you got all there is to the meaning of the people's collective will.

If there 's such a thing as a general will it must somehow get formed out of the struggles of these adversarial spooks, scrapping for and against one another, as they scurry from the open mind of one people's rep to another, from possession to possession, making it all happen. That's all there is to the workings of the national interest -- a battle among special wills specially interested.

At least thats how Jimmy Madison saw it -- saw it long, steady and with a clear eye; saw it, and said it was good. Good because the lobbies will check each other -- yet another enlightenment faith in the spontaneous emergent goodness of free human interaction; another invisible hand, Adam-Smithian process.

And so it goes on, day after day -- this mad dash of all potentially against all, or for all. That is what gets embodied representationally as the US Congress -- a spectral happening in two chambers, played through a pack of venal hams.

We can apply this to any old topic, so long as we ask ourselves, early and often, cui bono?

Now let's handicap the entries based on the score card to date. When has any of these contending lobbies won, and against what other lobbies? That's the great inside game. We all know it, but we forget sometimes, and start thinking in terms of special interest against national interest -- the lobbies versus the people, the compact, motivated, on-meassage minority against the un-coordinated majority.

Sorry, this is full time work here. There are no disorganized citizen majorities -- no lobby that is the set of all lobbies not containing themselves. So whenever the lathering sets in that some lobby is too powerful -- wins too much -- compare it to another lobby that wins too few, that is too weak.

If certain lobbies or coalitions of lobbies can't be beat, thats a wonder. They must be something. Not even the New York Yankees win 'em all.

June 20, 2006

Hands off.. everywhere

More on anti-interventionism as a sine qua non plank of any reformed Dem party:

Some might suggest why not just go for anti-unilateralism? Force Uncle to work through existing multilateral institutions.

Quick answer: Korea, 1950; Kuwait, 1991. Sometimes if the interveners want it bad enough, and act cleverly or crudely enough, the UN can be had. Needless to say, this goes double for, say, NATO or any other multinational club, uncle-sponsored or co-sponsored. They all can be had.

Nope, the anti-interventionism must be home-grown; it must be internal, like the bar Japan has -- only in America's case, it'll have to be self-imposed.

Now it's true, right now Japan's more robust elite elements, grotesquely enough, are seeking to escape this bar -- but to review who's behind this move shows precisely the types we'd have to throw out of the party.

The struggle will, needless to say, be long, hard, and problematic -- a hearts and minds marathon, a spiritual crusade to save the soul of a nation. Turn it back into something more like what the old rock-ribbed abolitionists fought for.

To be continued. Next segment: "We gotta civilize 'em" -- goo-goo empiring, or the Aunt Polly missionary instinct as a temptation of the imperial serpent.

June 21, 2006

Empire without an emperor?

Gad-flyby of the day :

In keeping with MJS's empire project -- or, how to build a flattened planet into a better profit mat -- do all empires, even corporate scalawag carpetbagger empires, need an emperor? If so, is a unitary presidency enough?

Apres Joe, le deluge

The Washington Post today quoted weary old DLC backstage canal pony Ruy Texeira:
The old fight between the center and the left in our party has run its course ....
Yikes!

Attention faux progs especially of the X-er and younger generations: here they come... your way. Get ready for the bear hug of a lifetime, kids, 'cause for the key party hackery its time to cut and run left -- nothing less will do -- its a matter of survival -- every man-jack and -jill of 'em for him or herself.

It's the great beltway panic of '06 -- the party core is about to explode and its sober-sided main elements scatter like mad seals off a rock.

But then watch -- like a school of fish these seals will all move in one direction: leftward ho, as they sense their 14-year-old Bermuda triangle ( formerly doing business as the vital party center ) start imploding.

I bet my generation of gliberal drug-besotted yuppie merit swine will bolt their positions, even before we get to watch the now-swirling head of muppetissimo Joe nearly sucked totally under this fall.

It'll be like Lyndon in New Hampshire '68 -- the last tango of an era. After that, they'll all begin swimming at you young folks, barking and flapping their flippers -- arf arf arf, right toward your rafts. The generational pendulum is swinging. the boomers are outsville. You iz the new queens of the ball, you guys and gals -- you far kosters, you zellmons of Alabama, you wonkettes of a hundred eyes -- u iz all gonna suddenly find your virtual pots filling with milk and honey.

June 22, 2006

He who sups with the Devil...

A propos empire projects and their smiley-side interventions:

Top of the list: the late 40's Marshall Plan for a war-torn Western Europe. It worked miracles -- but there's no free lunch on the empire's menu. And there was no Marshall Plan without a price. The price was... NATO.

So beware Uncle bearing soft loans -- there will always be an armed hedge in the fine print, for Trans-America Inc. to base its boundless trust and generosity on.

June 24, 2006

from CIO to SIO

I've been alter-netting.

I know, I know -- that's well above my throw weight -- but I needed some fresh air and inspiration, so off a recent Alan Smithee post, I went over there, and found this guy Holland, who looks to be maybe as ponderously sincere and harmlessly passive-aggressive as that chubby brother of Alvin the Chipmunk.

Well, after a few twootles, don't I find him weighing in on the musical question, "is a union a special interest organization"?

Before we come to grips with that conundrum, some background.

The PAC was invented by the CIO for the '44 election cycle. How the eff a class organization gets to be a special interest organization -- an SIO -- is... well... let's just say, it's worthy of a culture that divides its households by income.

The flying Hollander cites some union sycophant attacking our beloved Kos cadre, for not attending in record numbers the" working family" panel at Kos' recent Vegas powwow.

The Kosnik response is to lump the unions with the gun and fun lobbies, as in this gem from myDD's Chris Bowers:

The reason these issues [unions et al -- Ed.] are 'ignored' by the netroots is because the netroots does not organize around advocacy organizations design[ed] to influence public policy, but instead around lifestyles....

This is an important difference between the political culture of the progressive netroots and the political culture of Washington, D.C."

So here comes our little furry friend Holland ready to second that union emotion:
That's nonsense; unions are engaged in a dozen workplace issues -- from the minimum wage to family leave...
"Involved in workplace issues?" You like the rock and roll of that, John L.?
.... immigration, the environment, job training, student loans, affordable housing, trade issues, Social Security and a host of policies related to corporate accountability. If that's a single issue, I'm my aunt Phyllis.
Aunt Phyllis's nephew has a dudgeon on, don't he? But for reasons unstated he leaves it pretty well at that, beyond suggesting, as a side light, that maybe "business" and "unions" have a "natural... tension" betwixt 'em.

That's the blast -- just a knowing precocious harrumph, so to speak, at the expense of this marvelous and quite pervasive junior merit-class purblindness to lower-order jobholder "issues."

To be fair, he wraps up well:

... bottom line... there's never been an effective left without strong organized labor .... rolling back the 35-year assault on labor should be of the highest priority for all progressives....
Bravo! Here's an acorn for that one, Holly -- but watch out below: he adds now in full pratfall that the pro-union roll back is
...second only... to addressing the pernicious role of campaign cash in American politics....
Ahh, the nuclear option for special interest politics -- do that and then the rest is history.... even the unions.

As the Kosniks say: "zzzzzzzzzzz."

Big news?

Hey gang, somebody tell me why should give a  shit about Bernie Sanders  ascending to Pat's  Senate seat.

June 27, 2006

Missionary positions

Not all fan clubs of foreign places and peoples are cultivated to produce future scapegoats and alibis. Some are quite nice and smileful propositions dedicated to warming hearts and softening minds.

Case in point: the long long road taken by the old China lobby was clearly lengthened and widened by a venerable component of most local empire projects -- a component I like to call the sub-missionary component.

Foreign missions of this sort are varied indeed, at least as to intent, but their intent has one common thread -- they are always strung on an altruistic sunbeam, and for that reason, they allow the lobby, through them, to importune without appeals to self interest -- not even spread-eaglery, not even partiotism.

Nope, rather their appeal is to unrivalled goods like God, and the collective soul of humanity. (Need I say, guys like Jesus play a mean lead trumpet?)

Nowadays, of course, we have secularists in this just-for-the-goodliness civilizing business. In fact the third world is filthy with 'em -- but still, the Christian godly are the biggest section of the goodly, and prior to, say, the new-frontier days of the Camelot 60's, the uplift of the backward races was almost entirely the work of Christ's little travelling witnesses.

Throughout our history -- and here's my point -- these googoos for the man from Nazereth were easily mobilized to do the occasional multi-tasking asked of them by larger, if baser forces -- i.e. cross border long range "private gain," whether reformed or papist.

The story of Uncle Sam is the same throughout east and southeast Asia. In fact, history is checkered to the point of dazzlement with all these scurrying yankee God squadrons.

And at those terrible times when an armed impasse arose -- a time when uncle's citizens' wares and rights were under siege or threat of seizure -- these fellow countrypersons that were there as folks of the lord could be counted on to add their voices to the outcry: "Uncle, help, help! Otherwise, millions our our little brothers' souls may be lost for all eternity."

Makes for a nice humane choral group at a congressperson's door or in a singing telegram, especially when that congressperson is being asked to vote to send thousands of jarheads, or grunts, or both, to shoot their way into (or back into) some place over there across the Pacific -- somewhere where Uncle's marines and paratroopers are not entirely welcome.

June 28, 2006

Dems in power: A case study

Doug Henwood writes, on lbo-talk:
Someone who knows told me this story the other day...

The New York State Assembly has long been controlled by Democrats,   and the Senate by Republicans. A few years ago, a pretty good   "progressive" Dem Senator, Eric Schneiderman, was running the Senate   campaign, and wanted to take control of the house. The Dem leadership   didn't like his aggressiveness, and essentially deposed him. So now,   with the Dems almost certain to win the governorship, in the person   of Elliot Spitzer, taking control of the Senate would mean total   party control of the state government. But Spitzer doesn't want the   party to take the Senate, and they're making no special effort to do   so. Why? Apparently Spitzer is afraid that a Dem-controlled   legislature would overspend, and reduce the governor's power. [Ex-Governor Mario] Cuomo,   that great liberal icon, felt the same way.

What a party, eh?

It's probably safe to say that New York, as Blue a state as ever watched its industrial base rust, shows fairly clearly how the Democratic Party operates when it gains any considerable degree of power. So all you munchkins out there hoping for great things after Rahm reclaims the House this November -- well, as Fafner says, Acht' auf mich -- be warned by our experience.

June 29, 2006

If I can't sell it, gonna keep sittin' on it

Sparetime bloggers move over -- time to field a few full-timers. But it'll cost ya.

That's the pitch from one champ, Steve Gilliard, who's trying to boost the personal IPO float of anotha supa blogga, the Booman. Thus Gilliard:

Actually, I don't think that a brokerage would fund this [Booman's site -- Ed.] like Salon was, but something has to give. I mean, it's great Clinton hired Peter Daou, but there are people who want to report and not work for pols and they need options as well.

We can build our own media, but we have to build it.

Seems this blatant huckstering caused the Kosniki readers to blew a few dozen fuses, so he responded:
Folks, this is a discussion where most of you don't know what you're talking about.
Nice, eh? Should have stopped there and cut his squalid deal with the man any damn way he needed to. But oh no, he needs acceptance, so he goes on:
Booman wants to make a living so he can give YOU a better product...[to] buy books and pay for services like Times Select, so you don't have to....

... y'all need to get over the idea that this can be done for free... it takes time to actually research topics, go places and the like....

If you want punditry forever, this is a perfect system. But if you want real reporting, from trained people, it isn't going to be cheap and you need to realize that now....

You want the benefits of blogging, but act like it's some kind of sin to actually invest time and money in it....

How many of you work this hard at anything, including a blog? Why should he have to take a vow of poverty to keep you informed, because you can't make extra money when you have a blog to keep up, no side jobs and blogging. You can't exactly work, blog and freelance.

I'm passing this along by way of self-justification. I've been offered a job by the Al Franken campaign, to supply online fast-response satire, to goose up his race for the thousand-lakes Senate seat.

Now I understand I'm no better than second choice here -- I've been informed by the men themselves that both Alan Smithee and J. Alva Scruggs have already turned the job down. But they can afford to -- they're both independently funny.

Now I'm prepared to recieve counter-offers from you all, to stay the course here and help father Smiff, that veritable Franciscan of the fourth estate, but here's the bottom line: you'll need to kick in.

I'm not trying to short-fuse you on this, but I've already accepted the job offer. In fact Al has sent me a mock-up crack to rejoin for him, so I sent, on spec, free of charge, this completely orginal all-purpose comeback: "You wouldn't dare say that if my writers were here." (I know, I know, it's not up to J Alva's standard, or Alan's, but hell, it's a big step up for Franken.)

Anyway, you need to act now, if I'm to change my mind, 'cause it needs to happen by 12 midnight Friday, or i'll look like a grey rat to Al.

So start sending in the green guys -- but only if you care enough. I'll understand, even if some of you I've made laugh and cry and dance a thousand times or more, still don't mind seeing this rare source of joy in the darkest hours harnessed to the Franken sleigh.

July 4, 2006

JSP loses it, and who can blame him

I've been staring at that muffin-headed nerd, that acolyte of spineless guile and goo-goo, that purveyor of false hope and "in the know" I-don't-know nebulosity, pictured as the author of the Howie vs Rahm update.

Senor don Miguel de la Smiffiosa -- no more such delusion-mongering here. Please Father Smiff, I can't take the bottled-up wrath it induces in me. Either that or have two sites, one for the tough and one for the likes of me -- tender rageniks in need of some digital equivalent of cool bland food and a reclining chair.

What a fury this popinjay provokes in me -- you can see from the puff of his mouth region, he knows nothing, and yet sez candy and crap about it.

And here's the real gut flamer -- he gets to stare out at me anyway, like I just asked him to help me cheat on the chem final.

July 6, 2006

Asian delights

Don't the bad boys have all the real fun? Take my man Kim there -- nice fuck-you for Uncle, eh?

Here's my fave donk response so far:

"This has to have gotten China's attention," said Rep. Jane Harman (Calif.), the senior Democrat on the House intelligence committee. "What some may see as a series of setbacks, I see as a series of opportunities...."
Meanwhile, back in the South, our own Lone Star outfit really rips up some local turf. If you ever want a vicious reminder of what all our expansion of earthwide freedoms is really all about, its never far away.

Wait till our hi-fi boyz try to open up China... I mean really open her up.

July 10, 2006

Just don't do it

My friend Mr Y, late of the Foreign Service, and author of the infamous Kurdistan-to-the-Caspian option during the Clinton years, has this to say about deadlining pullouts:
The counterargument you hear most often: announce a withdrawal date, and "they" will just wait us out. So I wonder, how would that look different from now?

Face the facts, goo-goo America -- this ends in a civil war either way, and the longer we stay around -- with or without the insurgents laying low -- the more vicious the civil war when we finally do pull out.

We're training these future sectarian forces right now -- it's called the national Iraqi army. The better trained and armed by us these still communally segregated units become, the more formidable the future clash between them will be.

So -- out now! Surprise the bastards. All at once, disappear, bug out, scram for the Kuwait border, race away like thieves. Take the Shia and the Sunni by surprise. That's actually what gives 'em the least amount of time to organize to slaughter each other.

July 17, 2006

Gutenberg "sort of okay," say monks

The Boston Globe has advice for the blog bogs. Aaron or Moses? You decide:
Blogs can help shift the conversation from here's-whom-we-hate to here's what the country needs in order to have 21st-century schools, hospitals, businesses, streets, and nursing homes.

One lesson of American politics is that opponents have to find common ground. Beating the other side into submission doesn't work; neither does waiting for the opposition to see the light.

Another lesson is that politics lags. It can take years for good ideas to become practiced policies. Blogs could do great good by pushing the establishment to shorten this wearying time-table.

The blogosphere has rough neighborhoods full of singeing criticism and fiction masquerading as fact. But, for the most part, blogs are a new frontier for public discourse. They matter. And they could matter even more.

There you have it, folks. Roma locuta.

July 26, 2006

Them Russkis, gotta love 'em

Just when you thought the world was safely unipolar --

Chavez in Russia:

The visit by the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Russia is taking the media by storm, with one news agency reporting he has attracted much attention with his "emotional and spontaneous behaviour".

"He calls Christ the first socialist in the world; George Bush an alcoholic; pro-Washington Latin American presidents poodles of imperialism", writes Andrey Yashlavskiy in the Moskovskiy Komsomolets daily.

.... The Kommersant daily prefers to concentrate on the political dimension to the visit, during which Mr Chavez is expected to sign arms deals.

"Venezuela gets armed with Russia" write Mikhail Zygar and Tatyana Dmitriyeva.

"Moscow expects bumper arms contracts from the visit," they say, while Venezuela's eyes are on "setting up an anti-American oil bloc".

"Thus Moscow, which has just hosted the G8 summit, shows once again that, when the chance comes, it may respond to criticism from the West by making a sharp U-turn towards the West's foes."

Putin and another archfiend:
President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have discussed the Lebanon crisis and tensions over Iran’s nuclear programme, the Kremlin said.

The two leaders spoke by telephone yesterday, a brief statement said. Ahmadinejad arrived yesterday in the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan for a two-day visit.

.... Ahmadinejad warned yesterday that the conflict between Lebanon and Israel could trigger “a hurricane” of broader fighting in the Middle East.

.... The Bushehr nuclear plant that is at the centre of the controversy over whether Iran intends to build nuclear weapons is Russian-built.

Russia, as UN Security Council member with veto power, has resisted Western proposals to slap Iran with sanctions....

Russia also has stepped up efforts in recent months to exert influence in the Middle East, including contacts with Hamas after the militant group won Palestinian elections.

It hosted a high-level Hamas delegation at Putin’s invitation in March, when Moscow broke ranks with other members of the so-called Quartet of Mideast negotiators but failed to persuade the militant group to soften its anti-Israel stance and renounce its goal to seek Israel’s destruction.

Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said this month that Russia was using its contacts with radical Muslims, including Hamas, to try to promote a resolution of the escalating confrontation.

Reform or removal?

A correspondent writes:
BOPnews had a nice post up explaining why "Moving the Democratic party to a reliance on small donors, and off money from various industries is job one. And it's job one not just because it will lead to better policy - it's job one because it will lead to Democrats being able to champion causes believed in by the majority of the population. In other words, it'll lead to victory."

http://www.bopnews.com/archives/006540.html

Maybe you would rather see the Democrats shrivel and die (and thus make way for a third party) than actually get their act together and win. Nevertheless the information in that post is priceless, IMHO, for explaining to Dems why their cowardly electoral strategy leads to defeat rather than safety.

I'd be delighted to eat all my scornful words about the Democrats if they should ever become "a party able to champion causes believed in by the majority of the population." I just don't think it's very likely. On balance, I think it's easier to sweep 'em off the stage of history and start over, than it is to reform them.

August 2, 2006

Lessons from south of the border

Read this account -- it shows quite plainly how a real people's party acts to rock the civil balance its way, when it thinks an election has been stolen from it by El Jefe's system.

AMLO si! Gore/Kerry -- no see.

Let me 'splain it to you

Now we get to see the Cuba lobby in action again -- they've been lying pretty low since the Elian Gonzales fiasco. Here's Mr Y's take, reconstructed as usual from my Oblomovian memory:
Now that the Maximum Leader may be headed off for his Olympian symposium with Marx, and Lenin, and Mao -- oh to be a fly on the wall -- the corporate titans, needless to say, can't wait to "intervene", though they probably would buy a China model -- for a while. Or at least say they would. The Miami junto in exile, however, want a decapitation of the party state.

Either way it goes, Bush is off balance already, so it will be fun to watch another reactionary "national lobby," like the old China lobby, play its hand in an open congress.

Then again, it hardly seems likely that a little China 90 miles away has a future -- especially if Hurricane Hugo isn't blown out soon. More likely that little China will be presented as a little North Korea to the innocent American mass millions.

Then again, again, the clock ticks forever on, and the junto in exile may see its issimo loco dissolve away as market opportunities emerge back home for the unfanatical bulk of the Cuban-American community.

August 4, 2006

Billmon: credit where it's due

Billmon has come in for some disrespectful treatment here, so it's only fair to point out that he recently hit one right out of the park:
It looks as if Ned Lamont is riding the anti-war wave to victory in the Connecticut Democratic primary -- or so the latest polls suggest....

Oh I know Ned says he's anti-war, but he only means the war in Iraq. The war in Lebanon, on the other hand, is just fine by him. And he's already pledged he'll be just as staunch a friend of Israel and the Israel lobby in this war as Holy Joe ever was or ever could be....

Lamont's stance also reflects a glaring contradiction in the emerging Democratic consensus on U.S. policy in the Middle East.... it's a position that won't be sustainable for long.... it's a recipe for an even wider and more destructive war -- one I fully expect most Democrats, including Lamont, will end up supporting, despite the consequences.

... there is no real distinction between America's occupation of Iraq and Israel's intended re-occupation of southern Lebanon. They are, in essence, both part of the next war....

What's become clear to me is that the Democratic Party (even it's allegedly anti-war wing) will not try to stop this insanity, and in fact will probably be led as meekly to the slaughter as it was during the runup to the Iraq invasion. Watching the Dems line up to salute the Israeli war machine, hearing the uncomfortable and awkward silence descend on most of Left Blogistan once the bombs started falling in Lebanon, seeing how easily the same Orwellian propaganda tricks worked their magic on the pseudoliberals -- all this doesn't leave too much room for doubt. As long as World War III can be sold as protecting the security and survival of the Jewish state, I suspect the overwhelming majority of Democratics will support it.

Amen, brother.

August 7, 2006

Software upgrade in progress

Never upgrade unless you absolutely can't avoid it; but we absolutely can't avoid it.

We don't want to insult anybody, so if you make a comment and it doesn't show up
in a timely way, send e-mail to mjs@smithbowen.net, the poor harmless drudge who
maintains this site, and he will try to do right by you.

August 10, 2006

He who lies down with dogs...

Big-boned, big-jawed, big-footed, Adam's-appled emblem of famine Ann Coulter writes amusingly:
If those rumors I've been hearing about a Hezbollah/Hamas/DNC merger are true, we might be in for a slightly longer fight.
I certainly hope there's no truth in this. I have the greatest respect for Hamas and Hezbollah, and I'd hate to see them get mixed up with a disreputable outfit like the DNC.

First time as farce, second time as...?

This is a bit of a chin-stroker comin up, so if you iz a total moment-by-moment type, scroll on, soldier, scroll on....

Okay, so here's my thought: will the masses settle for a Mcgovern burp this time round? The social class plates are rumbling, and the mouth of the volcano is puffing thin elegant wisps of smoke. But the Ann Coulters figure "Hell, we've seen this before... and we rode its false promise and farce all the way to total power." She means of course the aquarian cosmic revolution express, from senator Clean Gene past senator McG to senator Sam -- the monorail ride that took Woodstock boomers like me and our gray-haired red fellow travellers from the winter of '68 to the fall of of Dick Nixon.

And Ann is right to observe that that ride ended by quietly depositing us in the political sagebrush, while the right successfully drove a thousand wedges between us and the pale masses of middle America.

Well, I say, not this time, Ann, or Andre as the case may be -- this time it's going way past just changes in the collective "educated" mind's zodiac. This time the people will not react with a homely loathing to the foolish shenanigans of the spoiled of the earth, but with a righteous fury at 30 years of tower tykes' high rollin', that's left too many of 'em job-stripped and house-poor.

No, O thou of the fair large feet: deja-vu-wise, this ain't the low 70's all over again. This time it's different. This time the job-holding masses are going into "changing time" with their asses on fire.

August 18, 2006

Vacation time

I'm getting out of town for the dog days, and my net access will be intermittent. So things will get a little slow 'round here. I'll try to check comments as often as I can, and maybe post a little.

August 23, 2006

Democrats=Hezbollah? Dream on

From one of our readers:
Wal-Mart front group member compares Democrats to Hezbollah

Ha.  Hillary "Wal-Mart Board" Clinton is an anti-Wal-Mart guerrilla?  Joe Biden, the Senator from Citibank, wielding an RPG?

Hezbollah:

  • Has an actual popular movement base
  • Delivers some fraction of the proverbial goods to that base
  • Can fight
  • Is willing to tangle with Israel
If Democrats actually resembled Hezbollah, you might be able to vote again.

Thanks for your blog.  It's welcome reading from the confines of Beltway Democratic-support organizations.

August 28, 2006

The dead and the undead

More good stuff from J Alva:
http://www.gothamist.com/archives/2006/08/26/developers_keep.php

Assisted by the necromancer, Sheldon Silver, the zombified essence of Daniel Patrick Moynihan has formed a pall over midtown Manhattan, where it sucks the souls out of passersby and fattens the wallets of culture capitalists.

Other than that, it's all good.

The rendering of the new station's squalid, meanly-proportioned interior court makes it look a great deal like a shopping mall in some downscale suburb -- a perfect tribute, really, to that inflated twaddlemonger Moynihan.

Johnny, we hardly... naah, we knew ye all too well

Courtesy of J Alva Scruggs:
http://www.reachm.com/amstreet/archives/2006/08/28/a-positive-dem-economic-strategy/

"I've heard the Rust Belt denizens complain about the export of good jobs. NAFTA, CAFTA, et al, certainly need fixing, but pointing fingers doesn't resolve the crisis.

So, what if there were an issue that granted struggling Dem incumbents in Michigan and challenger Dems from Wisconsin to West Virginia with a popular solution? And what if it also offered Dems a way to exhibit their strength on Homeland Security?

I think if there were truly a JFK-esque Dem leader today running for president, his inspiring race to the moon would now be a race to energy freedom. His strategy for Iraq would be withdrawal…. with a surprise diversion of half of those troops to Afghanistan to finish off Bin Laden and his opium funding base. And his jobs plan/homeland security plan would be to fix this mess, before it breaks us."

I read this guy when he was still sane. He's chugged a couple of quarts of the neoliberal kool aid since then. He knows better than to call the economic havoc in the Rust Belt "complaints", and that oafish comment about pointing fingers is worthy of a wingnut pundit.

JFK??? He's nuts.

JFK was nuts, but he's dead now -- oh, you mean the writer is nuts. Sorry.

It's interesting to observe the way delusional thinking about JFK is such an important component of pwog Democrats' intellectual armor. Somebody really ought to take apart the JFK myth. Not that it would do much good -- the Dems would soon find a soporific which would enable them to sleep once more.

Now THIS is a party

Speaking of political organizations -- a party can be a symbol and still command support:

http://www.radicalphilosophy.com/default.asp?channel_id=2187&editorial_id=22053

Read about Haiti's poor folks' twenty-year love affair with Aristide and "the flood."

You gotta be from among 'em -- a "populist", for lack of a better word -- to earn loyalty. Be of 'em not just for 'em -- otherwise progressive talk is like smoking crack.

August 29, 2006

Evils known and unknown, done and left undone

My pal bobw shows one bad place where a healthy streak of basic human decency can land you, as we see him once again toying with the notion that we oughta swallow a preventive evil -- not a restorative evil, mind you; not like a shot of mercury for a syphilitic -- but rather a local evil that will pre-empt a global cataclysm. And of course this evil is a donk congress.

His speculation: we left and minority voters could make it not happen by sitting this one out, and then... the elephants will trumpet and charge. At this site many have pounded away at this big scare tactic -- the prospect of the world according to grover and dick. Talk about fear politics -- well, waving the bloody shirt of the 'repugs' as human and civil rights terrorists works on the decent among us real fine. But let's for once really take stock here: count the real differences -- not the coulds, mights, and long-shot maybe- evens -- and after that's taken, ask ourselves: is it not better to shatter to pieces, over the next few cycles, the party that you know damn well, after all is said and done, is still willing to caucus with the hobbit senator from Bridgeport. Isn't blowing that hybrid of war mule and boardroom call-pig to holy hell worth more than to prevent two, four, six more years of this same old bubblin white plunder?

Maybe it's my political-economist view of our economic system, and of the planet's economy as well that encourages me to see this as the preferred option.

For example, I believe we oughta forget the deficits in both the federal war-fighting budget and the international payments potlatch. I think we're better by far letting this orgy run its course than submit to the sado-imperialist Rubinomics that the party of the whole people will replace it with.

Okay, Iraq might get a quicker dial-down. Iran, Syria -- those are scare masks. Not happening on this crew's watch -- not after Iraq and Katrina. And "doing something" about Iran certainly seems to be as popular a talking point with donks as with the incumbent party.

In the Mideast, personally, I'd prefer Lieberman's nightmare "new Caliphate" to the cuckoo's-nest, Nurse Ratched shit that the party of the whole people have lined up as an alternative. Redeploy? Go back to multilateral bomb rack and embargo diplomacy? "Ah, but there'll be less blood spilt" -- but sez who? I'll stack donkey deads up against republican deads anytime -- Clinton kills against Bush kills, even, ain't that out of balance.

August 31, 2006

Spare us your benevolence

Nice, on-target corporate press article in the B-town Boob:
TEHRAN -- Emad Baghi is a human rights activist who spent three years in prison for his writings. Shadi Vatanparast is a promoter of underground Iranian rock bands who, in the semi-privacy of her office, throws off her government-mandated headscarf. And Fazel Mehbadi is a mullah who preaches a message that's dangerously dissident in the theocratic Islamic Republic of Iran: Religion should be separate from government.

These Iranians, in large ways and small, want more democracy and pluralism in their country, and they have taken risks to change their society. They are the kind of people whom US officials say they want to support. Yet they all agree that the last thing they need is help from the United States.

Lots of splash here on the induced blood of containment, and Washington's ham-fisted co-optation attempts -- the tainting of internal reform groups, etc. A good citation for anti-intervention/interference.

Exfatuation

Confession: I indulge my personal hatreds too much, sometimes.

I'm reminded of this fact by a recent arresting finger wag from J Alva Scruggs down in the comment cages, to the effect that we shouldn't pray, root, phone, and donate -- maybe not even vote -- just to screw senator Lieberscam, just because he is the most wretched, preening, vicious, sanctimonious scumbag in the entire donk senate stable.

JAS is right of course (smart alec). Hate cults must be run with a cool detached hand, and hate votes are for rubes.

Deaniac to Cainite

J Alva writes:
Yes, The Sun, I know, but this story is priceless:
McCain 2008 Campaign Adds Veteran of Howard Dean's Run

Senator McCain's latest additions to his 2008 presidential campaign team — a veteran of Democrat Howard Dean's presidential campaign, and a former Bush administration State Department official — are setting Washington to speculating about the ideological direction Mr. McCain's run for the White House might take.

The new pledges of support for the Arizona Republican came from an Internet guru best known for Governor Dean's upstart presidential campaign in 2004, Nicholas Mele, and from a former State Department official and veteran trade negotiator, Robert Zoellick.

... A Democratic consultant who managed the Dean campaign, Joseph Trippi, said his former colleague in the Dean camp was never a die-hard leftist. "Nicco is not driven ideologically. He's not conservative or liberal. He's more sort of a ground-up grassroots guy who believes we've got to have total reform of the political system and the role of money in it," Mr. Trippi said.

In other words, he's a hollow shell of a man who supports, sort of, a vague talking point, which he doesn't mind working against actively.

The null hypothesis

An earlier exchange in comments got me thinking. If I can recycle other people's comments maybe it's OK to recycle my own.

When I argue with Democrats, sooner or later it comes down to something like this: the Democrat, with the air of a man producing an ace from his sleeve, triumphantly demands, "Surely you don't believe that Gore would have gone to war with Iraq?"

The curious thing about this argument, I find, is that the burden of proof seems to lie in the wrong place. It's up to me to prove that the Democrats "would not" have been different; it's not up to my interlocutor to prove that they "would have" been different.

In a case like this you have to ask yourself, what's the null hypothesis? Because that's the epistemologically privileged one -- the one that doesn't carry the burden of proof.

I claim, of course, that the "no difference" hypothesis is the null hypothesis. For this claim a pretty good case is easy to make, historically and structurally.

From the structural point of view, both parties are donor-driven; they will follow the money, and sell themselves to the money-men as being the more likely to deliver what the money-men want. Their RFP responses will be slightly different, like two soft-drink startups vying for venture capital. They will emphasize slightly different demographics and propose slightly different ad campaigns, but such differences are not even skin-deep.

Historically, the record speaks for itself. Democrats got us into Vietnam and kept us there; a Republican finally got us out. Clinton's foreign record is dripping with gore (and dripping, with Gore). Even Jimmy Carter indulged in some adventurism -- and, if Zbigniew Brzezinski is to be believed, deliberately helped upset the applecart in Afghanistan, with results that we all know too well.

So here's what I always say to Mr. Democrat: No, no, other way round. Give me a good reason -- not just a hunch, or a feeling, or a rhetorical question -- why the Democrats "would" do it any different. I personally don't know whether they would have or they wouldn't have; "what if" questions are notoriously unanswerable. But what, exactly, is the source of your confidence, Brother Donk, that you know the answer?

Now maybe this seems like asking a lot. And it is. But it's no more than asking Brother Donk to show his cards. He, after all, is the one claiming that he knows what "would have" -- or rather, what "would not have" happened.

Here's what it comes down to, in that existential crisis we all face when we find ourselves in a voting booth. Do you share my Democratic friend's faith conviction that this time, it will all be different? Or don't you? If you do, well God bless you, your course is clear. But if you don't...?

If you don't, then you have some troubling questions to ponder. One of them could be stated this way: if I pull that lever for the donk -- if I make that leap of faith, in spite of all the structural and historical evidence -- what will be the consequences? Well, the donk might -- might! -- possibly be not quite so bad as the Republican. But on the other hand, I haven't just voted for a maybe-better -- I've also voted for an institution, or rather, I've voted for several institutions simultaneously. One of them is the Democratic party, an institution with a multigenerational record of selling out its most devoted supporters. Another is the "two-party" system, an institition which, by this time, we surely all know is really a one-party system with two factions. And, as far as I can tell from reading the papers, this institution is deeply committed to empire, to cutting my wages, to enriching my boss's boss' boss, and to sending my kids to die for oil, or Israel, or nothing at all.

We all have to make these decisions for ourselves. If, as Dirty Harry says, you feel lucky -- well, then, you will act on your belief, and get screwed again, or not, as it turns out.

But if you don't share my Democratic friend's faith -- then you might want to consider doing something different. Because if my friend's faith is misplaced, your vote isn't just wasted -- it's a contribution, however small, to more badness -- or, putting it a little differently, to greater evil.

September 3, 2006

The Fasc-O-Meter®

Back when we were undergraduates, quite a few years ago, my colleague J. S. Paine and I constructed the first prototype of the Fasc-O-Meter®. This is an instrument that measures the Fascist quotient of any social phenomenon and gives you a figure-of-merit between zero and 100. The instrument is calibrated so that 100 equals the Fascist quotient of the Nuremberg Nazi Parteitag of 1934, immortalized in Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph Of The Will.

Here are some sample Fasc-O-Meter readings:

  • George W. Bush pretending to fly a jet fighter to an aircraft carrier, and addressing the troops while wearing a flight suit with a packed crotch -- 65
  • Air Force One -- 35
  • The Nike "Just Do It" ads from the '80s -- 38
  • Swearing in elite troops by torchlight on Masada -- 67
  • The Giuliani mayoral administration in New York -- 45
  • The Bloomberg mayoral administration in New York -- 45*
  • The US Air Force -- 50
  • The US Army -- 25**
  • The Whitney Museum building -- 37
  • Searchlights shining straight up, as decorative or architectural elements -- 80
  • The slogan "New Frontier" -- 55
  • Racial or ethnic privilege embodied explicitly in law -- 85
  • The movie "Top Gun" -- no reading available; the instrument unfortunately blew a fuse while the measurement was being taken.
The underlying theoretical insight embodied in the Fasc-O-Meter® is that Fascism is a continuum, not an either/or. To put it a different way: for the past eighty years or so, Fascism has been floating around in the global environment, like DDT or plutonium. The question to ask in any particular case is not whether Fascism is present or not, but what is the concentration? Think of the Fasc-O-Meter® as a political-cultural Geiger counter, warning you just how Fascioactive a particular politician, or cultural trend, or foreign policy is. (It's a logarithmic scale, of course, like the decibel scale, and for similar reasons.)

Now of course I anticipate your next question. "Smith," you're going to say, "we all know that Fascism has many dimensions. Fascism has an aesthetic, an ideology, a praxis, a social basis. Fascism is often (but not always) associated with racial theories of history, with eugenics (or sociobiology, as it is now known), even with individual characterology and its sources -- for example, an obsession with cleanliness and dirtiness. How can your instrument possibly merge all these various elements into a single metric?"

Dear interlocutor, that is a very good question, and I am glad you asked it. You are quite right that Fascism is a multidimensional entity. There is, in fact, a professional version of the Fasc-O-Meter®, the Fasc-O-Meter Pro®***, which displays a vector of values, representing the exact position of the measured entity in N-dimensional Fascospace. The consumer version of the Fasc-O-Meter® internally derives a similar vector (though with a smaller set of metrics) but then, for ease of use, reduces these to a scalar value; you can think of this value as the length of the vector, measured from the origin. Details of the implementation are, of course, proprietary.

JSP and I have continued over the years to refine and improve the instrument, and are now looking for investors to help make this laboratory breakthrough a commercial success. We believe that the sky's the limit on this one. Consider only the benefit to Left discourse: those endless debates about whether Israel is more or less Fascist than Serbia will be a thing of the past. Just point the Fasc-O-Meter®, press the big brown button, and lo! There's your answer, as objective and authoritative as a fever thermometer or an IQ test.

Individuals interested in a ground-floor opportunity to back a sure winner should contact the author privately. Serious inquiries only, please.


* Illustrates the value-add of the Fasc-O-Meter Pro® (see below). The Giuliani administration scores higher on aesthetic Fascism, Bloomberg on the drab practicalities.

** The Army's score would be 3, if it weren't for those ridiculous berets.

*** Available to the trade only.

September 6, 2006

Hey, you got a better idea?

People are always asking me what they should do instead of voting my the Democrats. My answer these days is, "One word: Mexico". My man Lopez Obrador has got the Houston Chronicle (among others) eating its own eyelids in frenzy:
Lopez Obrador's continuing fight frustrates many

... Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is continuing his quest for revolution and promises to set up a shadow government aimed at toppling Calderon....

"Lopez Obrador is destabilizing the country," Mexican writer [Homero Aridjis] said. "Mexico is on the verge of a nervous breakdown."

Lopez Obrador's tactics — which include plopping tent cities, full of his supporters, in the middle of Mexico City's clogged thoroughfares — have won him at least as many enemies as friends....

"We don't want more of the same," said [Lopez Obrador], who sleeps alongside loyalists in tents in the Zocalo, the massive Mexico City square built atop the ruins of an ancient Aztec capital.

His followers include university students, street vendors, farmers, union leaders and even some U.S. residents, who traveled to Mexico City to support his cause....

But many Mexico City residents wish the tent dwellers would go home.

"They're bums," taxi driver Armando Leon grumbled. "They get paid to sit there and block traffic."

... Carlos Chavez, another Chicago resident watching the Lopez Obrador rebellion unfold, said he's deeply disillusioned.

"When I came here three days ago, I wanted to cry," said Chavez. "There's no respect in Mexican politics," he said, just insults, low blows and profanity....

"In the United States, there are a lot of people who don't like George Bush. But he's still the president of the United States," Chavez said. "In Mexico, the concept of 'let's agree to disagree' doesn't exist yet."

Others complain about Lopez Obrador's apparent disregard for motorists and merchants who must endure his movement's tactics. Businesses this week sued the Mexico City government, claiming that the tent cities had cost them tens of millions of dollars.

Really, this is the most encouraging development in a long time, and how I wish us gringos could take a leaf from our neighbors' book. "What should you do," O recovering Democrat? Just about anything, as long as it stops traffic.

September 7, 2006

Liberals: easily impressed by spies

David Corn of The Nation is still in there slugging for the admittedly luscious Valerie Plame. I hope he got to interview her, at length. Perhaps that explains the breathless tone in which the mag is blurbing his latest:
Valerie Plame was no mere analyst or paper-pusher at the CIA, David Corn writes, in an article based on his new book, Hubris. She was an operations officer working on a top priority of the Bush Administration: searching out intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. By revealing her identity, Richard Armitage, Karl Rove and Scooter Libby harmed her career and put vital intelligence at risk. http://lists.thenation.com/t?ctl=6293:6E467
Corn's piece in The Nation depicts Valerie working tirelessly to turn up evidence of Iraqi WMD's, from a bunker somewhere; apparently she was in charge of the "operational" side of a whole task force dedicated to that purpose. What nefarities that bland word "operational" may conceal I prefer not to think; I would rather imagine Valerie in a more sympathetic setting. On a beach, say, wearing a... well. Never mind.

Some of her previous work for the Agency doesn't sound much better, alas, and there's no mention of a beach anywhere. For example:

... she was posted to Athens and posed as a State Department employee. Her job was to spot and recruit agents for the agency. In the early 1990s, she became what's known as a nonofficial cover officer. NOCs are the most clandestine of the CIA's frontline officers. They do not pretend to work for the US government; they do not have the protection of diplomatic immunity. They might claim to be a businessperson. She told people she was with an energy firm. Her main mission remained the same: to gather agents for the CIA.
Why liberals like Corn have embraced this woman -- politically, I mean -- is difficult for me to understand. Surely the right response to Rove & Co. "outing" her is something like: "Thieves fall out. Har de har."

I don't know about David, but to my eye, the initials CIA form one of the most sinister acronyms on the planet. It gives me the creeps just to type it. The organization Valerie Plame joined, and worked for zealously, is, all in all, one of the most bloodstained and brutal criminal enterprises still in existence. Are we supposed to forget that, for the sake of Valerie's knowing eyes and generous mouth?

Don't answer that question.

The horse slaughterer

Sam writes:
Here's one for "bipartisanship", don't know how it can be spun to reflect the paucity of ideas driving the donkosphere...but you'll find a way...

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-060907horses,1,4283890.story?coll=chi-news-hed

"The legislative push to ban horse slaughtering has been in the works for several years. But even Thursday, numerous lawmakers, including some supporters of the ban, openly criticized the House leaders' decision to bring up the bill this week while other controversial issues, such as immigration reform, have not been scheduled for votes."
Note the word "other"...so much for bipartisanship.

And when when will you have Fasc-o-Meters[tm] for sale?

No spin needed, Sam -- I think it speaks for itself. Many thanks.

September 8, 2006

Vote at your own risk

The recent dem senatorial caucus Liebfest proves it: the motherfuckers have as yet no fear of their base. They feel on a rise now, so base, go fuck yourselves; we want the swingers again, the geeps with heads like triangles, heads we can ring-a-ding with claptrap boohoo freak acts, lady snake charmers and goblin hobbits.

Yes, job holding America, fuck you; either vote the straight Flying Dutchman ticket, or eat your beans in two more years of Republican purgatory.

Well either way, I say no way. Neither the peace base, the Green base, the civil liberty base, the industrial job base, nor any of the the minority bases, have anything but false landing lights to follow here. Members of all these bases -- boycott the national chunk of the election this November. And if nothing really kewl is happening at the state level or below, don't even show up at all.

We need to vocalize this threat somehow -- we need to trigger a "you sold out, so we won't turn out" movement.

Down with the flag

I was staring last night, in a strange, half-hypnotized way, at the image of unctuous, oleaginous, saponaceous "Dutch" Ruppersburger included in an earlier post (scroll down to the bottom, unless you've recently dined). Apart from the remarkable lardiness of Ruppersburger himself, it's a characteristic, highly conventionalized image of an American politician. Butterball is holding a pen, as if he is about to sign off on something really, really! good for you, John and Jane Citizen. And behind him, occupying at least as much image area as Criscoface himself, is the enormous, inevitable, de-rigueur American flag, its reds and blues Photoshopped into arterial blood and hard X-rays.

Since I started writing this blog, I've visited a number of Web sites that no sensible person would ever look at, except in the line of ineluctable duty. Web sites like Third Way's. Don't follow the link: I just want to show you their logo:

Here's one from the DLC (look carefully at the mountain; does this qualify as subliminal advertising?):

Bernie Sanders contributes this one (and boy, does he need a new designer):

Heeere's... Hillary!

Same motif, rendered in the pukey palette of Daily Kos:

You look at this stuff for a while and you start to think you see patterns. Is it significant, for example, that both Third Way's and Daily Kos' flag stream from right to left, rather than the canonical left to right?

If you're ever unfortunate enough to travel to Our Nation's Capital, one of the things that strikes you as soon you get off the train -- surely you weren't masochist enough to fly? -- is this same red-white-and-blue, stars-and-stripes motif slathered over everything in sight: the cocktail napkins, the strippers' G-strings, the Chamber of Commerce signage, the taxi drivers' turbans, you name it.

The fact is, I've gotten really sick of The Flag. What is it about this American flag worship? You can drive from one end of France to the other, and never see a tricolor waving in somebody's yard. In the little town where I grew up, down South, there was one guy who had a flagpole on his lawn, and he was considered quite eccentric. A spin through American suburbia nowadays will show you every other house impersonating a post office.

And that unspeakable little flag pin, invariably stuck in the lapel of every politician's sincere blue suit -- it makes me want to jump 'em and tear the thing out with my teeth. Doesn't anybody remember that it was Richard Nixon who started that fad? Doesn't that tell you something?

All this over-emphatic demonstrative patriotism seems highly suspect to me. I wonder if it doesn't conceal a deep ambivalence. French people, who are not lacking in national amour-propre, take patriotism for granted -- of course you're a patriot, mon ami; you're French, aren't you? What French person would not be, sacred name of a blue belly of a Ruppersburger?

But not us top-nation Amurricans. Hey buddy, nothing unpatriotic about me. No sir. I'm an even bigger chauvinist asshole than my next-door neighbor. My flagpole is ten feet higher and my flag is the size of Dutch Ruppersburger's bedspread.

I wonder whether, on some level, we don't resent the crushing burden of our top-nationhood, and, finding this a horrifying, unacceptable impulse, seek to convert it into its opposite with shrill, hysterical, suspiciously over-emphatic manifestations of Americolatry?

Anyway, let me get this back to the site's purpose. Call me a shallow, flighty aesthete, a butterfly-like creature excessively swayed by the semiotics of decorative trim, but for me, the way our Democrats feel they need to maintain flag parity with the Jingo Party demonstrates, as plainly as any more substantial metric can do, how thoroughly un-oppositional they are -- how completely committed they are to complete agreement with the Greater Evil on every important premise and theorem, and all but a few trivial lemmata.

September 11, 2006

Hug me, I'm a Congressman

Here's a truly vomitous vignette:
... five years ago, members of the House and Senate, both Republican and Democrat, embraced one another in a spirit of love and camaraderie and spontaneously burst into patriotic singing on the steps of the Capitol, which had avoided a direct hit earlier in the day due to the bravery of passengers aboard flight 93.
I'll bet they did. After all, a bunch of other, innocent people just paid the price for Congress' crimes, while the criminals escaped with their skins intact.

It gets worse:

Today, there will be a re-enactment of that moment.... Participants will include House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
I recall being told, when I was a kid growing up down South, that the way water moccasins mate is to gather by the dozens or hundreds, clump up into a big ball of slithery, slimy venomousness, and float around in the river. Woe betide the unwary water skier who encounters such an act of congress.

I have no idea whether this is true as a matter of natural history. But it was the image that came to mind as I contemplated the thought of Pelosi, Reid, Hastert, Frist, and all the other reptiles intertwining, and baring their fangs, and exchanging slime during this loathesome "re-enactment" of a particularly mawkish moment in the lengthy annals of 9/11 kitsch.

JSP on the road to Damascus

This may well come as no news, but my party forward mind was silenced by the Lieberfest. I can still chitter and bite and screech, but think thoughts of party... no, not now, and nevermore.

But for the broad Mrs Butterworth skirts of Father Smiff's "Stop Me" mission I'd be headed off the reservation. My Bryanesque fantasy -- take her over or bust her apart -- no longer seems viable. Back to selling wolf tickets for me.

God, how it beats my ass to realize the necessary torment is not done yet. The misery of the people still needs more time -- they still need longer on the flames. Longer to cook, before the donk DLC full Nelson fails, and the party of Jackson and Bryan can be ripped apart at its class joints.

Alas, we remain, for at least another cycle, at a rebuilding stage, where only sub-party actions can be progressive.

As to the donkery: well shit, folks, once the House is theirs, without ever taking a stand on anything (the Pelosi/Rahm way), it will be clearer than clear that nothing has changed but the color of their handkerchief. The Orthrian core will not be challenged. The party has regained power with them still on the bridge. We can look forward to some petty payback -- two years, till the election in '08, of minimalist opportunistic partisan moves, like show trialing the Bush-Cheney freebooters, as we continue to drift sideways on all dimensions. While we continue to "bloody up" Iraq, and possibly put the domestic economy through a slow corrective strangle.

Ah well, history has her reasons for it all, I guess -- but here's a real bug: if, as I suspect, that hungry Hobbit from Bridgeport wins, the fuckers will claim it's the highest and most robust proof that DLC "centrism" still works best -- indeed, is still the only way to get a jackass into the White House.

We'll just have to fight below their radar, as they use their victory by cunctation as proof positive that pandering to the congenital idiocy of the swingers and triangle heads is a sine qua non: "We gotta regress before we progress."

In fact, the vicious soup hounds will be using it as cover for their real mission -- completing the Orthrian chores still to be done for "the man" and his empire.

So what's left? Boycott 'em... boycott 'em all. in fact now they need a left side shot, not a right side shot -- we need to hit their progs the hardest now, from the Barney Frank frauds to the Dennis Kucinich types. "You're donkeys first, progs second, so screw you." We oughta try beating them so unfairly they're driven into the tiny arms of der totenkopf Lieberschreck hisself -- let 'em cuddle up to that critter for a while and see how they like it.

The revolving door

J Alva Scruggs passed along this item:
Napolitano names Democratic consultant to universities board

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano has appointed a Democratic ally and former Clinton administration official to the state Board of Regents.

Napolitano selected Fred DuVal to fill an upcoming vacancy on the state panel, which oversees Arizona's three public universities.

DuVal served as an aide to former president Clinton and former Arizona governor Bruce Babbitt. He runs a Democratic consulting firm and is very active in state and national Democratic circles....

Last year, she tapped former Democratic U.S. senator Dennis DeConcini to serve on the Board of Regents. DeConcini served in the U.S. Senate from 1977 to 1995 before retiring after getting caught up in the Charles Keating savings and loan scandal. DeConcini is one of the state's top Democrats, has served as a lobbyist and was also one of the first Democrats to encourage Napolitano to enter public service.

The governor also picked Phoenix attorney Ernest Calderón for a regents post in 2003. Calderón is a high-profile attorney but is also a political supporter of the governor.

Napolitano last year picked Scott Bales to serve on the Arizona Supreme Court, giving Democrats a 3-2 edge on court. Bales worked with Napolitano when she served as state attorney general and worked on her 2002 campaign for governor.

Bales was also an attorney at the Lewis & Roca law firm. Napolitano worked there before entering the political realm....

Federal campaign finance records show DuVal has given contributions to the Arizona Democratic Party, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Kerry, Arizona U.S. Senate challenger Jim Pederson and former vice president Al Gore.

This Napolitano -- she's a one-woman employment agency for broken-down old Democrats. Maybe she can find a place for all of 'em, somewhere in Arizona. Be nice to have 'em in one place.

September 12, 2006

9/12 (and not a minute too soon)

No one's asking this, but I'll answer it anyway: Why didn't you, J.S. Paine, post any personal "reflections" on the 5th anniversaay of 9/11? Lord knows, everybody else did.

The answer: for the same reason I don't on the anniversary of the Deerfield massacre. The slaughter of the innocent, whether settlers' kids or cube farm functionaries, is a working hazard for those fortunate or unfortunate enough to be the empire's children. Yes they were innocent, but only of the knowlege of their own culpability. No, I won't celebrate -- and that's what this is: a maudlin serenade to the hardships of empire.

Father Smiff notices flags -- indeed, what mawkish poison. Even at its most sublime, the firefighters charging up those stairs, headed toward the top of a building about to come down to meet them, is not tragedy. Wrong genre. It's melodrama, and melodrama is best served house by house over the dinner table of a family, not on TV, like a tearful version of rockin' New Years Eve.

Tragedy is the unavoidable collision of two rights, not the horror of blowback for a series of chronic unending wrongs. But wasn't the slaughter indiscriminate? Well, not altogether -- no more so than the slaughter of Dresden, or Hiroshima. These were real people working in ignorance inside evil symbols -- like symbiotes in Moby Dick's belly.

Trouble is, we're in there somewhere too.

Worth a thousand words

J Alva writes:

Election 2004 summed up in one small picture:

September 14, 2006

Pinthe tail on the donkey

Consider this the semi-official instauration of the House donk pillory league. Our mission: torment as many Dem fraud progs, as often and as unfairly as time and space allows.

Let decent hearts beware -- we intend to yank their slippery tails till they scream "no mas!"

Prospective fellow leaguers, feel free to join: simply place the name of any such hee-haw or shee-haw in one of the comment cages provided below. And be sure to pledge your continued harassment of same. Make this personal -- a virtual stalking. And be sure to add a few identifying rump brands or framing tattoos to your nominee's backside, so us less than fully info-ed can ID the brute by genus: Military-industrial, financial, zionistical, tragical, historical, pastoral -- you get the idea.

Huey, we hardly knew ye

If you want my model of righteous Senatorial comportment in a time of class crisis -- I recommend to anyone: review the performance of Huey Long.

From his arrival in the winter of 1932 till his death in the early fall of 1935, he was a wonder of wonders. In fact I'm so overawed, I intend to produce a detailed log of this epical one-man progress -- but alas, not here; Father Smiff brings you the Senate here.

Anyway, as as you might anticipate, you'll never really check him out quickly: he's trapped inside his cartoon legend as machine boss of Lousiana (an avatar of which Sean Penn will be bringing to the screen in fictional transmogrification this fall).

There is no Senator Huey Long cult -- no Huey comes to Washington memorial; no Huey lashes the Dixie Bourbons like a string of Ozark mules; no Huey vs. the NRA, Standard Oil, and the Morgan bank; no Huey bills to levy a tax on millionaires or set up a poor folks' college grant; no Huey against empire, etc. etc. etc.

I've no idea what tidbits the Internet, in its collective wisdom, has seen fit yet to snare out of this towering figure's flood tide of words and motions, while a member of this most august of deliberative chambers -- but if anyone wants to know how I'd dream "my senator" to act -- that is, the solitary senator from the sovereign state of lower plebonia -- how I'd fantasize he/she might conduct him/her self right now, down there, if I had such a senator of choice among that gallant phalanx of a hundred hams -- well, Madame, I confess the actual, for-real record of Senator Huey P. Long just about plum exhausts my imagination.

September 19, 2006

Uncle Sam wants you -- or does he?

bobw passes this along:
I dont know if you caught this, from an article by William Norman Grigg linked today on antiwar.com:
In their new campaign manifesto The Plan, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) and Bruce Reed, president of the Democratic Leadership Council, call for "a real Patriot Act that brings out the patriot in all of us by establishing, for the first time, an ethic of universal citizen service.... All Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 should be asked to serve their country by going through three months of basic civil defense training and community service.... Universal citizen service will bring Americans of every background together to make America safer and more united in common purpose." One function of that proposal would be to expand the military by at least 100,000 men - a target that belies Emanuel and Reed's assurance that they don't endorse a return to conscription.

A bill containing essentially the same proposal has been submitted by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), one of the most left-leaning House members; the concept has been endorsed by Republican presidential aspirant Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Personally I have mixed feelings about conscription. One of the reasons the anti-war movement amounted to something in the Vietnam period was... the draft. The volunteer army was a brilliant strategem from a political point of view, though its effectiveness as an instrument of empire may be less than was hoped. If we had a conscript army, though, I don't think we would have had an Iraq war at all, and certainly not such a long one.

September 21, 2006

Hugo Chavez for President

Quite a speech by old Hugo at the UN yesterday, huh? "The Devil came here yesterday -- I can still smell the sulfur." Wow. I don't know when the last time was that anybody laid it on so hot and heavy. Just when you thought it was safe to go back into Latin America, O legionaries of the empire...

I figured that reasonable, moderate, meritorious people here in the US would be quick to dissociate themselves from this shocking display of prole razzola. I was not wrong. A quick Google search brought me to Mr. Nathan Gardels' blog on Huffington Post. (Gardels is shown at left, and I can only wonder what the photographer said before clicking the shutter, to evoke those raised eyebrows, those pursed lips, that general resemblance to an overinflated tree-frog.) Thus Gardels:

On one of the talk shows this week, former UN Ambassador Richard Holbooke called Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad an anti-semite and a pipsqueak. Anti-semite, certainly. A pipesqueak, I'm not so sure.

When Ahmadinejad railed against US and UK attempts to dominate the world through the Security Council as if this were the early post-WWII era instead of the 21st century it was a message that resonated globally.

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez laid it on futher in his harangue, confident in having recently obtained China's backing, in return for oil, for his country's quest for a seat on the Security Council.

It would be a big mistake to dismiss their comments as the ravings of mad men when they are only saying what the rest of the world -- China, Russia and France on the Security Council as well as countries from Brazil to South Korea -- actually thinks.

Gardels is a liberal, though, so he knows who to blame for this sorry state of affairs:

Certainly, George Bush's unilateralism has ended up pushing the multipolar order out of its post-Cold War womb through inciting a worldwide reaction against Anglo--Saxon dominance. But, in truth, the baby was already on the way. W's policies have only accelerated the delivery.

I don't quite follow the obstetrical metaphor, and probably don't want to, but Gardels' thrust is clear: the Empire would still be humming along quite nicely if Bush weren't so... stupid. We have Bush to thank that people like Chavez and Ahmadinejad are saying what millions of people seem to want to hear.

This cat Gardels, until today a figure unknown to me, is actually a man of some stature. He heads up something called New Perspectives Quarterly -- the "new" part is, perhaps, a slight and pardonable exaggeration -- which modestly describes itself as follows:

NPQ has a well-earned reputation around the world as the one publication that consistently engages the best minds and most authoritative voices in cutting-edge debate on current affairs -- and does so in a way that is always interesting, accessible, and concise.
I must have read too many New Critics when I was a young man, because passages like this always engage my close-reading eye, with unsettling results. Do the "most authoritative voices" also belong to "the best minds" -- or are these two different groups of people? And I certainly hope, for the sake of Nathan's reputation as a truth-teller, that his contributors are more "interesting" than he is.

Here's his masthead:

BOARD OF ADVISORS:
Bruce Babbitt
Walter Dean Burnham
Joan Didion
Sidney Drell
Carlos Fuentes
Marvin L. Goldberger
Ryszard Kapuscinski
Abraham Lowenthal
Walter Russell Mead
Ronald Steel
Lester Thurow

BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
Stanley K. Sheinbaum
Chair and Founding Publisher
Richard Dennis
President
Michael Douglas
Nathan Gardels
Alan L. Gleitsman
Mickey Kantor
Win McCormack
Sol Price
Stanley K. Sheinbaum
Oliver Stone

Descending from the stuffed shirt to the T-shirt, I also dipped into Daily Kos for reaction to Chavez' speech, and quickly dipped right out again. Threads tended to start with expressions of approval, then rapidly be swamped by people who consider Chavez a really bad guy because he's a pal of Ahmadinejad, and Ahmadinejad is a "Holocaust denier." Predictably, this topic, like Gresham's bad money, rapidly drove all others out of the forum.

Dems: easily impressed by caudillos

The much-ballyhooed Democratic mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, thinks that child-hating cop freak Mike Bloomberg, the Francisco Franco of New York City, should run for President, according to the New York Times. Bloomie is visitng LA, and
... Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, who has cited New York City’s educational reforms as a model for Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles police chief, William J. Bratton, all but encouraged Mr. Bloomberg to consider a run for the White House.
Apparently Villaraigosa admires Bloomberg's educational "reforms", and indeed, speaking as the parent of a child in the New York school system, I suppose there's something to be said for them. Since we seem to be building a society in which everybody is either a jailer or a prisoner, we might as well get the kids used to it early on.

September 23, 2006

Pray tell me, Sir, whose dog are you?

BobW writes:
The Democrats' disappearance on the torture debate finally pushed me over the edge.

Or maybe it was Nancy Pelosi's gratuitous attack on Chavez. Once over the edge, this morning I realized we have heard nothing from any Dem on the predicted war with Iran.

With the Navy ordered to take up blockade and offensive positions in the Persian Gulf, you would think some elected representative might be saying "hang on a second; let's have a little debate on this."

Democrats', like Kerry's, official position on Iraq has been they were misled by the President. Presumably that means they now see their mistake. The mistake was to stir up trouble in the Middle East. It just stirs up worse trouble. This time, though, the President isn't even trying to mislead. He's just going ahead because he wants to, confident the Democrats will lay down.

Jonathan Swift said all life at court is divided into two camps: knaves and fools. If you're not a knave, you're a fool. I used to think that perfectly described Republicans and Democrats. Now I think it's too kind to the Dems.

The sky is falling! And about time, too.

Really, you know, we live in a Mad Hatter world. Here's Nikolas Kozloff, a conscientious critic of US misbehavior in Latin America, a propos the recent flap over Hugo "The Exorcist" Chavez:
... the long term impact of Chavez's remarks upon the domestic U.S. political scene is unclear....

With the media getting whipped up into a frenzy over Chavez's effrontery, what is worrying is that the Venezuelan president might actually have a political impact on the upcoming Congressional elections in November and tip the scale towards the Republicans.

Horrors! Oh Hugo, how could you? Bet you're sorry now!

Well, no, of course, I bet he's not. I bet he doesn't give a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut, as an old Kentucky landsman of mine used to say, about how the Democrats do in November. I'm sure he knows that there are entities called the Republicans and Democrats, and that they purport to be political parties; and I'm also sure he knows perfectly well that it will make absolutely no difference to him, and to his people, and to the world, whether the Democrats pick up fifteen seats in November, or lose thirty.

In fact, I hope Hugo has dished the Democrats but good. If all it takes is a little rally-round-the-Prez, dead-cat Bush bounce for them to lose whatever slender hope they had of making some gains this fall, then they deserve to lose -- and really, the sooner they're swept off the scene, the better. They're worse than useless. If you're after any kind of social progress, then a connection with the Democrats is like stepping into the ring with a corpse tied to your back.

September 25, 2006

Most depressing quote of the day

From a rather gaga, and very long, hagiography of Barack Obama (shown above with his endorsee in Connecticut's recent primary), found in New York magazine online:

"Barack, I think, represents a point of transition," says Artur Davis, a 38-year-old African-American congressman from Alabama and former law-school classmate of Obama's. "This is the first generation of African-American politicians who essentially have the same aspirations as their white compatriots."
On the other hand, there's this, from Obama himself:
"One good test as to whether folks are doing interesting work is, Can they surprise me?" he tells me. "And increasingly, when I read Daily Kos, it doesn't surprise me. It's all just exactly what I would expect."
Well, at least his mama didn't raise no fools.

September 26, 2006

Throw the bums back in

(Editor's note: This item came in over the transom, from a shadowy character calling himself Herb Sorrell III, "Director General of The New-Tuel, a California-based union rectification organization," e-mail kapshow@hotmail.com. Caveat lector.)

It's election time: do you know where your dues are going? The AFL-CIA knows. Visit them with me....

First, you'll notice the site has no go-to on state wage minimums or state job-hour laws, or repealing anti-union laws. You gotta hunt for that stuff. But what's right up front is spending your dues to "educate, mobilize and turn out union household voters to support candidates who support us," including (may I have a drum roll please):

Senator Joe Lieberman (D)
Lieberman will run as an independent candidate.

Joe Lieberman has a lifetime AFL-CIO Congressional Voting record of voting right on working family issues 84 percent of the time.

If that rating sounds impressive, note that barn hen Barney Frank has a 95% rating. In fact all the Massachusetts delegation are 89 to 98%. Ted K is up there with Barney at 95%.

Now we all know how this works. It's like a school math test graded on a curve. The first 75% is a puff pedestal. The last 25% is where it gets real. So Joe's real rating is about 9 out of 25 -- not much better then 25%, in fact, well within long-roll limits.

Now Barney's at about 75% real. He's been forced to defend the brand some. But in losing causes he can run up a tally, eh?

Man, what a scam.

More from the site:

We're working harder but losing ground. Wages are stagnant while costs are soaring. Health care and retirement security are disappearing. And a good, middle-class living is slipping out of reach for millions of America's working families.
After reading that, I was hoping for a dues rebate plan. But apparently duty calls my dues to a higher, nobler crusade -- the donk-ing of the House.


(More editorial meddling. This wretched site is lousy with flag cruft):

September 27, 2006

Clinton whines; Dems have collective orgasm

Democratic Party cheerleader John Nichols, writing in The Nation, was delighted by Bill Clinton's recent tantrum on Fox News:
... there has never been any doubt that Clinton was more serious about combating terrorism than his successor, George W. Bush....

Bush's supremely political presidency treats "homeland security" as a slogan rather than a necessity....

Clinton recognized that Wallace, one of the more competent members of the Fox team, was under pressure to mouth the Republican talking points that the network uses as its reference points. And the former president pounced on that vulnerability. When Wallace started in on the "Why didn't you do more to put Bin Laden and al Qaeda out of business when you were President?" line of questioning, Clinton leapt.

... Clinton was on a roll. Despite Wallace's stumbling attempts to interrupt him, Clinton went year-by-year, incident-by-incident, initiative-by-initiative through his anti-terror efforts. "I authorized the CIA to get groups together to try to kill (bin Laden)," the former president explained....

Love Bill Clinton or hate him, but understand that his appearance on Fox New Sunday was one of those rare moments in recent American history when a target of our drive-by media shot back.

Sounds like Nichols got pretty excited. I watched the same clip and had a very different impression: Cllinton seemed petulant and over-talkative, gabbling about six different topics simultaneously and ready with a different self-exculpation on each one. And of course the bottom line was that Clinton was a better George Bush than George Bush is. Which is pretty much the party's story lately.

But I'm glad Nichols enjoyed it; there can't be much else for him to enjoy these days. And no doubt my attitudes affected my perception just as much as his did.

Squirrel kisses poodle

J Alva Scruggs calls our attention to what must be one of the smarmiest, treacliest, most saccharine artificial-cherry-flavor items ever to appear under the aegis of the BBC:
Former President Clinton.... stood before the Labour conference to offer some gentle, brotherly advice....

"It can change quickly," he [said]. Just look at the US where, he said, so many of the economic advances made under his watch were being undone by his successor George Bush's Republican administration. Here, standing right in front of them was a man many of them consider one of their own....

Perhaps this is what [Blair] has in mind when he finally closes the door of No 10. A Blair Foundation, perhaps even a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Clinton Foundation. The world, not just Great Britain, would be his project. ... Bigger challenges beckon. And the promise of continuing special close trans-Atlantic relationships.

Sick-making, as our Brit cousins might say.

Oh, and what was that bit about "economic advances" on Clinton's watch? I must have missed that.

September 29, 2006

Rational apathy

In my unending quest for higher, bigger, longer-lasting social verities, I was reading a pamphlet by the late Mancur Olson on Sweden and its robust welfare state (unfortunately, no pictures of the population at their leisure). There I stumbled over his use (and clever abuse) of the naughty anti-hoi-pollity notion of mass rational ignorance among the electorate. I.e.: it doesn't make sense to get informed about what your gubmint is really up to, when the rational expected benefit to you and yours is less than the cost in time and effort of its acquisition.

Well, it got me to thinking about Father Smiff's hobbyhorse: rational indifference. You get my drift. Orthrian politics, as much as anything else, is the politics of apathy enhancement. As J Alva might say, "no real choice, no real whoop."

And so, just 'cause I'm dry as a Tunisian creek in August right now, I thought I'd say, this Bud's for you, gang -- you in the rational majority: not kinky enough to see it all as monstrous great sport, like me and my blood brother the late Hunter T of Louisville (or is it Lexington), Kenturkey.

Your rational -- no, brilliantly rational -- indifference to the "issues" pending and the "stakes" on the table is a tribute to your good sense. I suspect that but for those innate moral sentiments essential to a troop ape, still strong in most of us, we'd all pass up the voting booth, like we'd pass up jury duty if it weren't compulsory. Something in about 45% of us keeps hope and solidarity alive, among us jobstrapped and abused millions.

I say break the habit. Drop out. What if they held a national election and only the ownership class, I mean the real ownership class, showed up? And now I'm at it, here's one for you, too -- this one a f...ing Diet Coke -- you, the propellerheads and forked-tongue worshipers that can get so into this pending ballot-box battle in November. May God rip you a new asshole.

By the way: my domestic partner -- who makes a nice living -- watches Dancing by the Stars. (Or is it with, or under, the stars?) At any rate, somehow she can root for the white hats of politics too. Not with the energy she expends over the latest scores for this coal haired Latin loopio she fancies on Dancing Through the Zodiac, but enough to be, well, irrational.

Then again, there are those Red Sox....

The after-orgasms continue

Thus E J Dionne, in the WashPost:
Why Bill Clinton Pushed Back

Bill Clinton's eruption on "Fox News Sunday" last weekend over questions about his administration's handling of terrorism was a long time coming and has political implications that go beyond this fall's elections.

By choosing to intervene in the terror debate in a way that no one could miss, Clinton forced an argument about the past that had up to now been largely a one-sided propaganda war waged by the right....

Propagandistic accounts need to be challenged, systematically and consistently. The debate needed a very hard shove. Clinton delivered it.

September 30, 2006

Misanthropes for America: join now

Geez, i'm getting damn negative these days.

At least I know when it all started -- it was when that Ale and Quail club, the senate Democratic caucus, welcomed back indo-crat Joe "Evergreen" Liebermintz Then just a few minutes ago the small brash voice in my head that sounds suspiciously like my late father hits me with this: "So what in hell do you like about this country?"

Well I'll tell ya: it's the American people -- the whole goddamn grace-forsaken motley bastardized bunch of us. And a good thing too -- 'cause we can prolly plan on seeing a lot more of each other... in hell.

October 8, 2006

Mike Fink, king of the keelboat men

I bet you're all asking your domestic partners, "So where has J S Paine gone?"

Yes, I haven't posted here in some time. I've been in my tree house with my three miniature dachshunds, pondering, with an unaccustomed Teutonic depth, my personal mission here at Stop Me, and I emerge now only for an update.

But heed this, donks of all ages and stripes: heed this, and prepare yourselves. For this is a promise -- apres the November ballot temblor that restores the House to the long-ears, furry ole Uncle Paine will re-emerge from his retreat, not the piddling vetch of recent memory, but as a new brilliant all-court-press gadfly, an American Socrates on asignment to the US house of representatives.

Yes, Stop Me fans, I'm morphing under the private nightly tutelage of the late Hunter S Thompson, of Louisville, Kentucky. And take this to the bank -- thanks to the gonzo geist, I'm becoming a vastly nastier, more blatant, beastlier disgrace to the jay birds then I ever dreamed possible.

Behold the coming of Master Paine! Dazzling scourge of all sap-running progs among the House donkery. Master Paine, sole proprietor of a mordant, spine-twisting shame shivering, four-dimensional ray, able to reduce the likes of a henny Frank or Tom Thumb Lantos into a puddle of cold sweat and eternal humiliation.

Stay tuned. the purple force surges within me.

October 9, 2006

Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin

Maybe I'm just too elated by the North Korean nuclear test, but this item really put me over the top:
The insurgents, having learned from earlier fights with the Marines, were no longer fighting in the streets. Instead, they waited inside homes, ready to spray bullets as Marines pushed through a door or entryway.

Some had injected themselves with lidocaine, Novocain or adrenaline, allowing them to fight even after receiving mortal wounds, a spectacle the Marines called the "Night of the Living Dead."

This is why the day of the empires is over, my friends.

October 10, 2006

Franklin who?

J Alva Scruggs writes:
The USS Franklin D. Roosevelt was sold for scrap during the Carter administration.

http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/ships/carriers/histories/cv42-fdr/cv42-fdr.html

This is what I've been trying, with very limited success, to get across to people for a while now. Even the myths of Roosevelt were toast by then. The Dems were desperate to shed the pragmatism of balancing capitalism with a welfare state. They appear to me to have wholly bought into the Republican concept of general prosperity and democratic participation as threats. They've been peddling penny wisdom with great piles of pound foolishness ever since.

Personally, I would have said that the Democrats were trying to backpedal on the Roosevelt legacy as soon as Roosevelt was in his grave, if not before (though they had to put the project on hold for a while there, in the mid-60s). But it certainly makes for a sweet symmetry that it was Carter who delivered the symbolic coup de grace.

It's interesting that Carter is the forgotten Democrat among Kosniks and all the other Dem-identified pwogs. They always fast-forward from Kennedy to Clinton -- and come to think of it, they don't usually have much to say about Johnson, either. I suppose their worship of Harry Truman is based on sheer ignorance.

Consciencelessness doth make cowards of us all

From the Washington Post:
There is no significant support for withdrawing U.S. forces immediately. Half of those surveyed -- about the same percentage it has been throughout the year -- said they would like to see troop levels decrease. Despite the high number of casualties, only a fifth said they supported immediate withdrawal.
Such a poll result makes cowards of 'em all -- we've seen it before, as in in 1970 over 'Nam.

October 13, 2006

The content-free election...

... as exemplified by Sherrod Brown:
Brown, DeWine tangle on national-security oversight

If national security is an issue that favors Republicans and is best avoided by Democrats, someone forgot to tell Democratic Senate candidate Sherrod Brown. GOP Sen. Mike DeWine of Ohio has attacked Brown for congressional votes to cut intelligence and defense funding.

But [Brown] has fought back, in part by going after DeWine's attendance record at open meetings of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Missing nearly half the meetings portrays a record of failed oversight of critical 9/11 and Iraq war-related intelligencegathering, Brown charges.

October 16, 2006

Mom and apple pie and...

Here's a real meatball: "energy independence."

In a recent Tom Friedman piece, we find James Carville: "Energy independence.... It's now the No. 1 national security issue." A donk pollster adds, "people are... expressing this view because ... our oil dependence is fueling a host of really bad national security problems."

Carville again: "It can't just be that we are for a woman's right to choose, and education and energy independence. This is the thing we need to get done above and beyond everything else... energy security. It's not something to add to the stew -- this is the stock." For the record : energy independence is the anti-imperialism of fools.

The enlightened imperialist and the smart bomber

This just in:
Billionaire Soros Gives Financial Boost to General Clark By JOSH GERSTEIN - Staff Reporter of the Sun

A billionaire investor who spent more than $25 million to defeat President Bush in 2004, George Soros, is giving a financial boost to the political fortunes of a former four-star general, Wesley Clark, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and is poised to mount another bid in 2008.

Mr. Soros gave $75,000 in July to a political group led by General Clark, Wes-Pac, according to a report filed yesterday with the Internal Revenue Service.

It is the largest known gift from Mr. Soros this year to a political organization affiliated with a contender for the presidency in 2008.

October 19, 2006

No sex, please, we're Democrats

J Alva Scruggs writes:
No, this is not a tasteless joke, MJS. There really is a Democrat named Fred Head and he really is off the deep end. Even better, he's running for comptroller of Texas.

http://www.votefredhead.com/susan.html

The liberal blogs are buzzing about his attempt at damage control through sockpuppetry, in which he makes things worse for himself. I'm glad they can take a stand against sockpuppetry. Next, they might wish to revisit and revise their support for candidates who like wars of aggression and neoliberal fundamentalism.

Seems that Susan Combs, Fred's Republican opponent, some years back, wrote a bodice-ripper novel with a couple of better-than-average sex scenes in it (thoughtfully reproduced on Fred's Web site at the URL above). Fred's pretty indignant. Allow me to give y'all some Head (sorry, I couldn't resist):
Susan Combs has shown no remorse and made no apology for writing her pornographic book. Fred Head hereby challenges Susan Combs to fully explain to the People of Texas why she wrote a pornographic book, apologize to the People and withdraw from the race for Comptroller of Public Accounts.

At a recent Editorial Board Interview with a Newspaper, attended by Susan Combs and her opponents, Susan Combs was asked about her pornographic book and she said.

I wrote the book nineteen years ago. I received lots of congratulatory letters. I've served with distinction. I'm sad that the book company is out of business because I won't get any more royalties.

Susan Combs' above stated comments to this Newspaper Editorial Board were arrogant and completely out of touch with the main stream Christian Values that the People of Texas love and live by each day.

Combs' intertwined limbs and heavy breathing make for a much better read than our righteous donk's Capital Letters.

Pelion upon Ossa dept.: The Kosniks, who are nothing if not loyal, are compounding the comedy by defending Head (the person, I mean, not the practice). Here is a Kosnik who styles him/herself Queer Texan:

Her Democratic opponent calls her a pornography writer -- but, who is this woman who writes steamy romance novels in spite of the Texas GOP's super-Christian platform?

...She wouldn't have a problem (and considering the blessed "R" behind her name, she may never) except that her opponent, Fred Head (the Democrat) keeps reminding future voters of Ms. Combs past accomplishments: writing steamy pulp-romance novels.

... To give her some credit, Mr. Head does go a little overboard by calling her a pornographic writer, but his criticism does point at some hypocricy in her campaign. ...She's running as a Republican, the same party of a Governor that defended Texas archaic sodomy laws as "protecting families;" a party whose platform for 2006 includes repealing a woman's right to reproductive freedom (not limiting - repealing), recriminalizing gay intimacy, [etc. --ed.]

... Considering the righteous company she keeps, what is it exactly that Ms. Combs writes about?

"I can't hold back any longer," he groanded and then was inside her, the heat and slickness of her welcoming body almost pushing him over the edge. Ross stiffened on his elbows and bent his head, searching for control. Emily surged up to meet him, sealing him tighter within her, and he began to move, his arms holding her tightly, his breath coming in great gasps.
With a party that governs by the principle of WWJD, we have to remember -- I guess -- that it only applies to WOPD (what other people do). Hypocrisy indeed.
I think we must have a better class of queers here in New York.

October 21, 2006

Worthy mistakes and the agony of decision

Thus Matthew Yglesias, reprimanding Jonah Goldberg for a column that characterized the Iraq war as a "worthy mistake":
Iraq is a mistake, but all the attitudes and ideas about the world and America's role in it that led to the mistake somehow remain perfectly intact....
Nice start -- but soft! What wonk through yon polemic breaks:
The proposal... to hold a referendum in Iraq on whether our troops should stay is cute, but it founders on a lot of ambiguities about exactly how to word the question. Whoever was in charge of the referendum could rig it to have the desired outcome one way or the other. Doing that may be a smart idea, but you'd still need to decide in advance what the desired outcome is.
What dribble! As if we need to get into "framing" of this. As if an in-or-out referendum is more than a "lets call the White House's bluff here" -- more than a "let's see if the Iraqi masses want us there" -- more then a "make 'em think" gambit.

Nope, for our Matt here it has to be parsed and re-parsed like it's the latest "pragmatic alternative" to single-payer health care.

October 23, 2006

Second verse, just like the first

Alan Smithee writes:

Researching local reaction to George Pal's 1953 War of the Worlds release I ran across a small example of the nothing-ever-changes sort. From the "In The Magazines" column of the Monday, Oct 19th, 1953 Minneapolis Morning Tribune:

Democrats Assailed for 'Me Too' Tactics

by Hjalmar Bjornson
of the Minneapolis Tribune editorial page staff.

INSTEAD OF FULFILLING their job as "a responsible, creative opposition" as a real "out" party should, Lewis A. Dexter in the Reporter charges, Democratic leaders are playing "me too" to the Eisenhower administration. After 20 years in power "Democratic leaders still seem to be trying to act like responsible statesmen." but Dexter fears that if this attitude continues, the two-party system is endangered.

Opposition is the obligation of the "outs" and responsible statesmenship that of the "ins." Defending Mr. Eisenhower, Dexter asserts, is not the Democrats' business.

As one of my nieces might say: "As if!"

October 25, 2006

From the Great Beyond

You think it's easy being smarter then hell?

Well, here's what happens to smart guys -- they get accosted in the wee hours by familiar ghosts, screaming stuff like "loathing isn't enough any more!" or "wake up, straight arrow -- the last forty years of prog blither was dead wrong! all this 'please -- for your own safety -- step away from whitey's mind' was pure crap!"

That's what Hunter T's sprite tried to convince this reporter of last night, from behind the waggling barrel of a long-nosed .44 magnum -- a real, fully loaded .44 magnum, BTW, as I discovered when he let it dop to the floor and it went off, putting a round into my acrylic on velvet painting of Daffy Duck. Some kinda poltergeist, eh?

At the time, I shrugged him off with a "sure sure sure... whatever." In my book it never pays to let a geist like that know he's gettin' to ya.

But then, in full daylight, comes forth on my PC screen this Bill Fletcher dude posting up at the Black Commentator a gitty rehash of "the Number Two party is uz" line, and, moments later, still reeling, I'm reading my favorite tiny goo-goo, Bobby Reich, adjuring Nancy and her gang to be "of service to the people."

Alas, unlike Hunter, I'm not handy with a .44.

________________________________________________________________

October 27, 2006

Just say no

ddjango writes:
I'm going to design a banner for blogs to display . . .

DON'T BLAME ME
I DIDN'T VOTE!

You'll be the first to get one. Wish I had the bucks to produce it and distribute it as a bumper sticker.

October 30, 2006

Show your colors

ddjango writes:
Take your pick. Distribute at will. Attribution not necessary.

The original and still unequalled

I'd like to take a moment of your time to attack Gary Hart. Gary is the very most perfect new Dem self-love hound, and he, as much as any man still alive, fucked the post-Nam moment. Consequently, Citizen Paine sez hate is not wasted, when it scalds this Rocky Mountain vanity case.

Long before there was a bogus Bill from Hope, there was this straight-jawed thin-air New Age Mephisto. Remember him in '72, right there at the elbow of Uncle George McGovern?

Whenever Hunter S. gets too self-glorious, I remind him of his many missed opportunities, that dirty dark year, to Ibogain senor Hartpence:

Hey dum dum, you had the chance to take that creepy ranch house playboy out, and early too, before he got rolling -- but oh no -- you had to ream owly John Chancellor two times more than funny, and spill precious and scarce freak generation attention span, being oh so zany, with the endless set of running gags demonstrating how wildly ruthless that tom tit Frank Mankiewitz really was.
Regrettably I must report: Hunter is unrepentant.
For God's sake, HT, the man forced your own political ambitions off the road! You stated publicly you were eying that senate run in '74 -- he scooped it right out from under you, without even a heads up?

"Hey, Paine, that run talk was pretending and stuff -- I never really...."

Bullshit, pal! You had a johnson for high office. And leastwise, you coulda stopped him dead in his tracks -- gutshot him with fatal lampoonery -- a few bursts of your patented contempt-filled snidery and bald, cockeyed, cartoon lies, and he'd have never gotten a vote from any one under age 35, or a dollar from anyone from either coast.

Well, we can snarl all we want about what might have been. What happened is we got this nasty dearth-decade evergreen ambition machine -- a typical millrun product of the 30's. Got him in our national senate where he could become a model New Democrat, one of the innumerable sons of Bobby K. And all 'cause a legendary zonged-out master character assassin couldn't pull the trigger, on account of it would look like envy.
Hunter, that coulda been you in there -- you, in the world's greatest deliberative body... with Sam Nunn, John Glenn, Pat Moynihan... What a time you could have had!

"Shut the fuck up, Paine!"

You, Hunter, you, not that polyurethane shirt dummy with the 24/7 look-at-me hardon!

Folks, hate Gary -- he's why we're in Iraq and not in a union.

Stop the presses

Alan Smithee writes:
Just when I though I was beyond being surprised by our corporate media, I'm smacked upside the head with a one-two punch, as both the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times somehow let slip a rare moment of honesty. First a right hook from the SF Chronicle:

Dems face a tug-of-war in own tent

"The new Democratic majority, should it occur, will consist of a fresh crop of moderate and conservative members whose elections will have been won in part by distancing themselves from the party's progressive wing."

Katie-bar-the-door! How did that make it past the editor? No doubt Rahm has already called a half dozen of his favorite attack poodles to verbally flay the skin off the managing editor for letting that get out.

And then a left uppercut from the NYT:

In Key House Races, Democrats Run to the Right

“My guess is that if Democrats are in the majority, it’s going to be because of these New Democrat, Blue Dog candidates out there winning in these competitive swing districts,” Representative Ron Kind of Wisconsin, co-chairman of a caucus of centrist House Democrats, said in an interview."

Whoa! The NYT managed to rouse itself from it's enchanted slumber long enough to notice this new crop of democrats might be a wee bit conservative? What's next? An expose on the link between smoking and cancer? The mind boggles!

November 2, 2006

Vet-cult

Listening to NPR on my commute this morning, I hear about these chaps that greet our returning troops on motorcycles -- surprise 'em just after they touch down, back from Iraqistan and other such wild and lethal outposts of empire.

Then, as you might well imagine, they slobber over 'em, where appropriate, draping flags and throwing salutes. Presumably the idea is to make up for the spitting they'd supposedly get if those mythic high 60's Jane College flower types were handy.

The organization calls itself the riders of the purple heart or something -- I think honor is in there, and patriotism -- the honor guard of the patriotic koolade rangers, something like that.

They also go on visits to grave sites in the making, and drop by at the local VA, with a respectful "howdy" for all the folks who contributed their legs to the Empire. God's work, no doubt, in addition to Wall Street's.

It's sort of a sob-sucker beer-keg GI Joe comic-book sendup of Dick Wagner's cult of the fallen warrior. And it's growing like a weed -- 60K members nationwide.

I got to mixing this factile in with the recent Kerry tree self-felling, and I came up with this: It's a highly predictable morbid eventuality -- the incubus of empire as it squats on the collective mind sets of our white jobbery class makes for brown shirt thought: "They're not hapless tin-pan ex-Uncle Sam goons -- They're Siegfried of Akron, Ohio."

Needless to say, most of those drawn in are more Jimmy Olsen than Clark Kent. These cults work well as metonymous meme weevils, spreading like a lachyromose blight to a far wider population of no-shows, dodgers, and scapegraces.

I mean, if they love the military so much, they could always enlist, right? Standards are dropping -- not that they were very high to start with. Next year, Tammy Duckworth herself will be eligible to re-up, probably.

But the Budweiser sentimentalists on their Harleys won't be doing that. They may be a little crazy -- aren't we all, in this great asylum we call America? -- but they aren't necessarily stupid. Sniveling over the soldiers without becoming one is having your patriotic cake and eating it too.

November 3, 2006

Say it ain't so

Mike Flugennock passes along this wail of dismay from the "Institute for Public Accuracy" (an organization which sounds like something out of Der Mann Ohne Eigenschaften):
Will Saddam Verdict Timing Manipulate U.S. Election?

November 3, 2006

The verdict and sentencing of Saddam Hussein are scheduled to be announced on Sunday, November 5, just two days before the U.S. midterm elections.

Mike comments:
Jayzus Kee-rist, if you have to actually ask that goddamn question, there's no hope for your sorry ass.

November 5, 2006

Major Major Major Major

Major Danby comes a-courtin'. My my my, sistah Smiff, your ladyship, you should be honored... why the Major here is a very important man.... And yet one must concede, your gentleman caller does seem a tad unchivalrous: "Hi folks. Someone pointed me to this site."

It's probably because he's cleary not a Major in the cavalry: "a higher degree of aggressiveness would hardly have made the difference.... We want to get this issue on the radar screens so we can roll it back at our first chance... holding some feet to the fire."

Dissolve to DC, in about five months. Part of page 8 story in the Washpost:

...then, witnesses say, when there was no response to his warnings, the anonymous gentleman calling himself "the Major" pressed his red button and shouted, "thus shall the whole of congress... VAPORIZE!"
Needless to say the dauntless little lump of a man will have a happy, at-peace smile on his face, as the Hill cops drag him bumping down the capitol steps.

Back to now -- and look, already we have the response to this doomed crusade prefigured: . "What will matter is that we can say they were warned." Which of course can mean supine resolve to try again, as much as next stop: mad-bombering. And yet isn't it refreshing to hear "we will have to work across ideological lines.... We probably can't turn this back without you and you probably can't turn this back without us." Ah, a popular front formed from the "vital center," radiating down the chain of being to... "us". What an exciting prospect, as John Dean once observed to Richard Nixon.

Oh, here's a nice aside: "Let me know that you came from this site so I'll remember the context." Never miss grabbing whatever marketing feedback info you can gather, for smart targeting.

The Major has quite a command of the whys and wherefores of "real" legislating: "This is a bill that pretty much had to pass... as a practical matter there was no way to stop this juggernaut. The bill had to pass.... The damage was done in the conference committee." Now I'm not so sophomoric as to ask how that railroad top-down process squares with his lobby of the masses morphing method -- do we just lie across the rails and clog the locomotive's driving wheels with our mangled limbs?

I like the cheery, comradely note of his signoff -- "Good luck with whatever else you're doing here..." though it has a little damp squib of a sting in its tail: "No offense, but I doubt if I'll be visiting this site... I have plenty else to do."

I guess he doesn't know how close you were to getting that top bishop's gig down in Washington.

November 16, 2006

High on Rocky Mountain hee-haw

Will you all join me in a Bronx salute to the snoot full of thin-air Democracy the tower press has been blowing at us since last Tuesday?

Talk about a blind date with a dwarf. I see nothing more useful than doorstops coming out of this top-of-the-nation party turnaround.

High plains mountebanks? That gives 'em more credit than they deserve. There's nothing "local" about 'em, and to quote my idol, Fred Allen: "Their idea of roughing it is probably three days without a manicure."

They're coming to the Capitol with nothing but the stink of too many big corporate "yesums" on their breath, and saddlebags bulging with bottom line IOUs.

November 17, 2006

An ounce of prevention

As you know, I expect a vast bipartisan "coming together " over the Yank Iraqupation, much like the muted subsidence of the party wrangles over 'Nam. Seems everyone inside the beltway with a sense of responsibility wants to "play a few more hands" over there, even as our president is apparently drinking in "inspiration" from the "no quit" policy of... Hanoi! The whispers floating out from the new house majority donk caucus suggest what amounts to decent interval II, under the headline HUMANITY DEMANDS WE STAY.

Well, this just makes it clearer -- we anti-empire types need to leap over the whole grotesque butcher's choice of sooner or later, and cry, whatever the time line of Iraq, "never again!"

Recall after 'Nam that was not the dominant message on the "left", and it won't be now unless we make it so. We need a pledge: "no more armed foreign interventions anywhere any way any time." It's the 21st century update of Washington's "no foreign entanglements."

This pledge needs to be extracted (like the repugs' no-tax pledge) out of any candidate for federal office seriously interested in the "progressive" vote.

November 24, 2006

Mouth where the money isn't?

Here's a Letter To the Editor of the Rutland (Vermont) Herald:
Time for Dems to move on health
November 24, 2006

Back in the '90s we first heard about single payer health care.... In the last legislative sessions here in Vermont the health care issue was brought up again and single payer was the leading favorite with the legislature. It was disappointing, to me, to read in the papers that the speaker of the house, Gaye Symington would not push the issue because she said that Gov. Douglas would veto it and the House Democrats did not have the votes necessary to override the veto. By not pushing the issue the democrats were the losers, not the governor.

With the news that the Democrats in the Vermont Legislature have a majority, that can override any veto by the governor. I hope that single payer health care will finally be adopted, benefiting every person in Vermont.

Good luck with that. Actually, of course, it will be fun to watch, as a kind of small-scale laboratory demonstration -- like a tiny tornado, created with a hair dryer and a carpet steamer, inside an oil drum. But never fear, on the small scale as on the large, the majority will find a way to ensure that it doesn't happen, all the while strenuously protesting their deep commitment. I daresay aisle-crossers will, as usual, play a determining role.

November 26, 2006

Un-cola, or anti-cola?

When you're as brilliant as a supernova's first light, it's often hard to acknowledge to yourself that you just finally fully figured something out.

Well here's a figure-out from the man from Paine mansion: choice isn't enough anymore -- even real choice. It isn't enough for the Dems to drop "we're Pepsi, and that's better," or we're cola lite, or the un-cola, or whatever. (Cola, in this context, means the corporate global empire, of course.)

Any opposition party worth voting for has to be the anti-cola party -- the party out to de-colafy Washington, before it can be any part of a solution to the globe's present hell ride, and, for that matter, the average American jobbler's hell ride.

And of course the Democrats can't so morph -- not in a thousand reloopings. Maybe a fragment of the party, bursting left from a vicious internal explosion, can join other forces in a new party, an anti-cola party -- but for the Dems to become a solution themselves... nope. Never happen.

November 27, 2006

Mark of the beast

A droll friend of mine has given me a delightful gift -- a souvenir T-shirt from the 2004 Democratic convention in Boston (you remember, the barbed wire, the guard dogs, the "free speech zone"?).

On the front, roughly near where the human heart normally lies, there's the usual tiresome red-white-and-blue flaggoid logo, and the legend

Boston 2004
Nothing conventional about it.

On the back:

BIO
Biotechnology Industry Organization

Gold Sponsors

Roche
Bristol-Myers-Squibb
Gilead
Genentech
AstraZeneca

Silver Sponsors

Invitrogen
Atlas Venture

Bronze Sponsors

Genzyme
Millennium
Baxter

My friend, the donor of this prized artifact, assures me that she received it from a chap who works in a Senator's office, and he -- the Senatorial staffer -- seemed quite sure that my friend would value it very highly. She didn't, obviously, but I do.

November 28, 2006

Quodlibet

A delightful miscellany from The Note:

Democratic agenda:
On Tuesday, December 5, at 9:00 am ET House Democrats hear a presentation on Iraq from Dr. Brzezinski, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, and Major General John Batiste, among others.

On Wednesday, December 6, at 9:30 am ET, House Democrats hear a presentation on the economy by former Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin.

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) concedes he is not likely to become Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, reports Newsweek, as Speaker-designate Pelosi seeks a "compromise" candidate for the post. LINK

The Washington Post's Charles Babington reports that Democratic lawmakers "vow to come roaring out of the blocks when they assume control of the next Congress" but Notes that absent from the list of Democratic priorities "are the knottiest problems that bedeviled the outgoing Congress, including immigration, domestic surveillance and the war in Iraq." LINK

The Washington Times' Eric Pfeiffer reports on Democratic assurances the House will focus on "issues that have bipartisan support." LINK

November 29, 2006

Worth a thousand words

New cartoons by Mike Flugennock. Sample (much reduced in scale):

Mike writes:

Once again the Democratic Party has pandered crassly to "progressive" voters and once again the "Pwogwessives" have fallen for the scam. Like Charlie Brown attempting to kick Lucy's daintily-held football, Amerika's Pwogwessive voters came charging up, expecting to slam it clear into next week, but instead found themselves kicking air and landing on their asses. On "Meet The Press" one Sunday last May, Congressional Stepford Wife Nancy Pelosi declared that there'd be a "New Day" when the Democrats take control of Congress. Let's see what wonderful surprises they have in store for us on five important issues...
Available at http://www.sinkers.org/posters/newday

December 4, 2006

Fester Bestertester

To read Josh Frank, you'd think Montana senator-elect John Tester was a cross between ole Bill Bryan and a grizzly bear:
A State Senator and organic farmer by trade.... When I say he's not really even a Democrat, that may be a bit of an understatement. Tester is essentially an NRA approved neo-populist with libertarian tendencies who wants to immediately redeploy troops from Iraq as well as repeal the PATRIOT Act.... [H]is position on international trade is more in line with the protesters who shut down Seattle in 1999 than with the Democratic Leadership Council.
Smitten? I'd say so... if politics is the romance of the possible.

Well, maybe that's unfair, but Frank sure does gush a bit, don't he now? "Organic farmer" is my best of show. I had Josh figured for a cooler head. Personally, your reporter here had Tester specifically in mind while recently disparaging this new breed of rocky mountain high plains class wranglers. My crystal ball shows me a corporate stooge under the Marlboro Country turnout. But we shall see, we shall see.

December 5, 2006

Hugo Chavez, the Exorcist

To step away from my flaying of the donk-sucking progerry a mo... congrats, Hugo on yer thumping re-election:

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-chavez5dec05,0,436110.story?track=tottext

Speaking to a throng outside the presidential palace in Caracas, the capital, Chavez referred to Venezuela's No. 1 crude oil customer as the "empire" and to President Bush as the devil.
And with that laid out plain as peas, I can go curl up with a easy-reader account of the Jacobin terror -- comfort reading for the likes of me.

December 7, 2006

Simple arithmetic

This simple calculation might interest you.

Domestic oil production in barrels per day" ~9 million. The 30$ Iraq war price premium means the owners of those wells are making an extra 100 billion a year, give or take a few cents. Nice ride if you can get a dunce like Uncle to put the war and occupation's cost on his credit card.

Cheney is the saber toothed prat boy for these m'fucks.

Mission accomplished -- but now a forced course correction? As in... peace, asap, in the oil mideast?

Sorry, wrong call.

December 8, 2006

Dems vs. DOOM

Alan Smithee writes:
Ya know, I was getting kind of worried about what mischief the democrats might be up to since the election. So you can just imagine my relief when I ran across this news item:

----------------------

Clinton, Lieberman 'team-up' with gaming industry to tackle video game violence

Concerned about violence in video games aimed at teenagers and young children, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), along with the president of the gaming industry's Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), announced the launching of a new nationwide television public service announcement campaign at a press conference held on Capitol Hill this afternoon.

----------------------

December 12, 2006

Pseudomachia

Condi vs. Baker:
Dueling Views Pit Baker Against Rice
By DAVID E. SANGER

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 - Many of the blistering critiques of the Bush administration contained in the Iraq Study Group's report boil down to this: the differing worldviews of Baker versus Rice.

Clash of titans worthy of Virgil, or Alexander Pope material?

My take away: the Bush regime must play hard to get here, so the jerk-off majority can feel it forced a move on 'em, by its stentorian voicing of preference for withdrawal in last November's ballot bout.

The monopoly of mass destruction

Catholic prog columnist and erstwhile Pope-bopper James Carroll writes on another hidebound insitution, America's unitary security state, whose
... nuclear double standard is the issue. Iran's nuclear ambition is only to have what America has. Hence the impasse.... Washington must renounce the nuclear double standard, recommitting itself to nuclear abolition.
He's completely right, of course.
The reason Iran should not have nuclear weapons is that no country should.
But remember, only the threat of total destruction -- a national omnicide -- can counter an anti-empire insurgency, like the one "we" face in Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq these days. If you're emperor, it's good to have nukes -- or no, it's maybe "totally" necessary.

December 13, 2006

Dennis the Menace

Bill Kaufman writes:
Dennis Kucinich has once again announced a doomed antiwar campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. Unless he vows not to support any prowar nominee of the party (and of course he will not), the whole business will amount to another charade--designed, it seems, expressly to siphon off energy from the independent progressive movement until such time as Kucinich throws in the towel and once again dutifully lines up behind the prowar nominee. Perhaps he will even earn a minor cabinet appointment in the Hillary War Machine as a reward for doing his part toward sabotaging the emergence of an independent left.

Nice job, Dennis!

Scare the bear (and the dragon?)

Boot bulking is the plan under discussion on today's docket -- and maybe after Xmas, we'll hear the callup horn:
Army, Marine Corps To Ask for More Troops
By Ann Scott Tyson

The Army and Marine Corps are planning to ask incoming Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Congress to approve permanent increases in personnel, as senior officials in both services assert that the nation's global military strategy has outstripped their resources.

In addition, the Army will press hard for "full access" to the 346,000-strong Army National Guard and the 196,000-strong Army Reserves by asking Gates to take the politically sensitive step of easing the Pentagon restrictions on the frequency and duration of involuntary call-ups for reservists....

We've seen this coming, haven't we? But here's something new:
If another crisis were to erupt requiring a large number of U.S. ground troops... -- as in some scenarios such as the disintegration of Pakistan -- Army and Marine Corps officials made clear that they would have to scramble to provide them....
Now that's a real teaser: Pakistan "disintegrating"? Would the Hindu bullock butt in, as it did when Bangladesh self-liberated? And if so... mayhaps... enter the dragon? What a fruit salad that would make.

So I ask the source, my mole embedded deep in the Ivy ranks of the US Foreign Service, who testily replies, "Jayso, you imbecile, that's fantasy island stuff -- the Pak military is as solid as Turkey's. Don't bug me with these stupid questions." Click!

Maybe. But then why mention it? There's plenty of phantom hot spots where a mere mention would make the other side a lot less uneasy.

So I call my Bengali friend, Ja Ja Bose, and he sez, "Well, here in Bengal, we see this as real. You, Paine, and your buddies there inside the beast may just see this as idle fatuous body building by the brass hats, but maybe not, comrade. Maybe talk of Pakistan in conjunction with a boost in main force capablity is not puff up -- maybe it's precisely what you say and do if you want to threaten the Russo-Chinese axis now, and not in ten years.

"What if today you wish to rattle the sabre? What if the near term prospect of another potential Yankee blitzkreg force deployed in the area is meant to get the other guys to rattle back?

Imagine a conventional ground force ready to sweep over Iran, and roll straight up through central Asia by way of the Caspian slot.

Sure some of the terrain is a trifle nasty. It wouldn't be like Hitler into the Ukraine. But maybe that's not the problem it was for Queen Vickie's Raj, when it faced the bear across the mountaintops. Maybe they end-run 'em thru Iran, or at least pretend to...."

Hmmm, the Great Game gets... greater. But hey, what does he know? He's still a Maoist insurgency fan.

December 19, 2006

All the little Wilsons

There's a wonderfully comic kaffeeklatsch of self-important thumbsucking over at TPM Cafe about this "concert of democracies" scheme that recently floated out of the Woodrow Wilson school of international affairs, at Princeton, midwifed by ten pages' worth of professors, think-tankers, Pentagonians, and the odd journalist. They're all such mighty thinkers, these folks, and the noise of little mental wheels spinning is enough to deafen you.

The Princeton document weighs in at a hefty 96 pages, and it is written in a slightly more sprightly style than the average Foreign Affairs article -- perhaps one of the odd journalists lent a hand on the wordsmithing. Still, it's pretty soporific. Fortunately, the TPM Cafe popularizers have broken it down into digestible little amuse-bouche nibbles, suitable to the attention spans of the Netroots. Here is Rachel Kleinfeld, director of something called the Truman National Security Project, who is shown top right above:

For a progressive politician, ranking national security priorities should offer two things: One, a hard-headed assessment of our top threats and challenges, and how he or she will address them--to prove seriousness of purpose and the necessary toughness on national security. Two, a vision of progress that offers hope, optimism, and a show of how America can lead as part of a team.

The latter is an indespensible part of a progressive presidential candidate's political portfolio. It is that vision, that show of difference between the left and the right in our view in what will keep our nation secure, that the country is hungry for. It also offers a middle way between unilateralism (leading with no team) and the permission-slip style multilateralism that the electorate tells pollsters they prefer, but then votes against time after time. Being a quarterback within a like-minded team provides a positive role for America....

Rachel's homely sports analogies definitely strike a more demotic note than James Lindsay, lower left, but he too is clear enough:
So why not improve existing institutions? We should. But don’t get your hopes up that such reform efforts will be enough, especially when it comes to the UN. It is chic to blame the UN’s problems on the United States. Kofi Annan did just that today in a valdevictory speech in Harry Truman's hometown. But even if Washington were on its best behavior the UN would continue to disappoint its fans because what is touted as its great strength is also its great weakness, namely, the fact that it is a universal organization....

But why a Concert of Democracies? One reason is effectiveness. Simply put, democracies possess the greatest capacity to shape global politics. They have the most potent militaries. (The 20 largest democracies account for three-quarters of all defense spending.) They dominate the global economy....

A second reason is legitimacy. The UN is often presumed to have the monopoly on legitimacy [but] would anyone seriously argue that efforts to stop the slaughter in Darfur lack legitimacy because Sudan, China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea refuse to go along?

In short, what we have here is a thoroughly Wilsonian project -- wonderful, really, how institutions like Princeton University and the Democratic Party can maintain such a remarkable level of consistency in their patterns of thought and behavior across the chances and changes of almost a century. The 96-page doorstopper even manages a stylistic echo of Wilson's own smarmy grandiloquence:
America must stand for, seek, and secure a world of liberty under law. Our founders knew that the success of the American experiment rested on the combined blessings of order and liberty, and by order they meant law.

Internationally, Americans would be safer, richer, and healthier in a world of countries that have achieved this balance – mature liberal democracies. Getting there requires:

Bringing Governments up to PAR: Democracy is the best instrument that humans have devised for ensuring individual liberty over the long term, but only when it exists within a framework of order established by law. We must develop a much more sophisticated strategy of creating the deeper preconditions for successful liberal democracy – preconditions that extend far beyond the simple holding of elections. The United States should assist and encourage Popular, Accountable, and Rightsregarding (PAR) governments worldwide.

...Had enough? I don't want to make anybody ill. In a less seraphic register, the report notes that
At their core, both liberty and law must be backed up by force. Instead of insisting on a doctrine of primacy, the United States should aim to sustain the military predominance of liberal democracies and encourage the development of military capabilities by like-minded democracies in a way that is consistent with their security interests. The predominance of liberal democracies is necessary to prevent a return to destabilizing and dangerous great power security competition; it would also augment our capacity to meet the various threats and challenges that confront us.

America must dust off and update doctrines of deterrence.... America should develop new guidelines on the preventive use of force against terrorists and extreme states.... The preventive use of force against states should be very rare, employed only as a last resort and authorized by a multilateral institution – preferably a reformed Security Council, but alternatively by the existing Security Council or another broadly representative multilateral body like NATO.

There's some inadvertent comedy in that last line, don't you think? "Preventive force" needs to be exercised through a multilateral institution -- and in a pinch, any one we can find will do.

These profs, in the course of blueprinting the latest New World Order, have not neglected the home front:

The United States must build a stronger protective infrastructure – throughout our society, our government, and the wider world – that helps prevent threats and limits the damage once they materialize. In our society, we must strengthen our public health system, repair a broken communications system, and reform public education so that students attain the skill sets required to achieve our national security objectives. In our government, we need to create “joined-up government;” de-politicize threat assessment; integrate relevant but neglected portfolios, such as economics and health, into the national security policy-making process; and reach out to the private sector. In the wider world, we must work through networks of security officials to contain immediate threats before they reach our shores and should consider defining our border protections beyond our actual physical borders.
Education for national security! "Networks of security officials!" I have always felt that the professorate has much in common with the police, but seldom have I seen the family resmblance so clearly displayed.

Note, one and all: these are the "progressives."

December 27, 2006

De mortuis... veritas

What is it about the death of a President, no matter how vile, that makes so many Americans, even relatively intelligent ones, go all quiver-chinned and dewy-eyed? Amid all the treacle from every side about the late and unlamentable Gerald Ford, Dennis Perrin provides a much-needed and well-deserved dollop of vinegar:

The other legacy that Ford left behind is of course his backing and bankrolling of Indonesia's invasion and dismemberment of East Timor. On the eve of this invasion, Ford and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger were in Jakarta, dining with the murderous Indonesian General Haji Mohammad Suharto, doubtless discussing what was to come. After all, over 90% of Indonesia's weaponry was supplied by the U.S., and there is simply no way that Suharto could have launched that invasion without Ford and Kissinger's approval.

Suharto did have the good manners to wait until his imperial sponsors had left Indonesian airspace before ordering the assault, which commenced on December 7, 1975. Within a few years, the Indonesian military and its proxies had slaughtered over 200,000 Timorese out of a population of 700,000 -- about a third of the overall Timorese population.

Think about those numbers for a moment. Try to imagine something similar happening in the U.S. For all of our national anguish and anger over what happened on 9/11, East Timor endured countless 9/11s on a steady basis. We paid for it and provided cover and excuses for it. And it was Gerald Ford's administration that gave Suharto the green light and the means to do the grisly job.

Meanwhile, those fighting pwogs over at myDD.com contributed this trickle to the Mississippi of eulogistic syrup:
As someone born after Gerald Ford's presidency, my sense of his tenure is more shaped by history books than personal experience and memory. In hindsight, his decision to pardon his predecessor, Richard Nixon, appears to have been the right one, even if at the time it cost him politically. And although he was thoroughly a conservative, he seems to have been someone who treated his political adversaries with respect and genuinely fought to better America.
Fifty-two comments on this one so far, and only one mentions Indonesia and Timor. Most of the rest are obsessed with the Nixon pardon. I guess if you're really a thorough-going, committed Democrat, the pardon must have represented something like coitus interruptus: just when you thought it was Fucker Re-Fucktus for the original stick-it-to-em American politician, the old fox got away. Oh, they must have been so mad -- and they've stayed mad for thirty years, mad as hell over this essentially insignificant event. Even the ones who weren't born yet are mad; they've imbibed this silly, trivial, ancestral grudge from their godfathers in the faith, and they're as worked up and ready to go to the mats about it as Arians choking on the filioque clause. Or if that's a little too dusty, Hatfields and McCoys ready to kill each other over a pig who became sausage three generations ago.

Perhaps I'm being unjust. Perhaps the problem is that pwoggies really believe all the pleasant lies they're told in civics class, and the Nixon pardon epitomizes the divergence between that Panglossian best of all possible worlds, and the dirty realities of actual politics.

In any case, I think the Nixon pardon was the best thing Ford ever did. Crazy as a bedbug, that Nixon, and crooked as a country road; but he and Johnson were the only interesting human beings ever to occupy the Oval Office in my lifetime, and I was deeply delighted, on a purely personal level, when Reynard slipped over the wall and left the hounds slavering with impotent rage.

December 29, 2006

Convergence

Mike Flugennock writes:
Is it just me, or are the Democrapic candidates really taking a cue from the Chri$tmas marketing hucksters who keep trying to push back the beginning of the Chri$tmas shopping season*?

Is it just me, or are the Democrapic candidates really working in a similar fashion as the Olympic hucksters taking advantage of the new staggered schedules for Winter and Summer Games, so that there are Olympics happening every two years -- meaning, basically, almost non-stop Olympic media hype?

Also, am I the only one here who was absolutely revulsed by John Edwards' announcement for the Democrapic nomination, live on NBC 'Toady' the other day -- complete with the obligatory foto-op B-roll of ex-Senator Breck Boy pretending to help out with cleanup operations in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans?


*earliest I'd ever seen: in 1989, a 'Radio Shack Merry Christmas' commercial during the seventh-inning stretch of the last game of the World Series.

January 1, 2007

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:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/21/AR2006122101634.html?referrer=email

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:

http://www.tpmcafe.com/blog/coffeehouse/2006/dec/31/a_time_to_cast_away_reticence

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 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 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.

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.

There are lobbies, and then there are lobbies

Here's a Big pharma Wash Post factoid:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/11/AR2007011102081.html?referrer=email

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 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.

January 22, 2007

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.

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:

http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=19512

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.

January 29, 2007

Our man in Washington

Mike Flugennock reports:

AMERICA MARCHES AND GOES HOME:
POLITICIANS, MOVIE STARS LISTEN TO OWN VOICES BOOM ACROSS MALL AS
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS LOOK ON

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

http://flow.mediavac.com/ramgen/sinkers/2007/washdcJan2707.rm

Photos via DC Indymedia at

http://dc.indymedia.org/newswire/display/137589/index.php

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:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1582315-1,00.html

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!"

January 31, 2007

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:

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070219/molly_ivins

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.

February 1, 2007

The empire's premature epitaph

The mighty must fall... overreach... bankrupcy ... uncle's comeuppance will come. But in our lifetime? Don't count on it.

This obvious cerebration was prompted by reading a piece by the ever more delightful Chalmers Johnson

http://www.tomdispatch.com/

Johnson has learned, in the golden setting sun years of his life, just how vast and naughty Uncle's empire has become over the last 60 years, and in his Blowback trilogy, he puts ole Sam through quite a nice pranging.

But it's really too fatalistic, and as a result, despite its fin-de-civilization Weltschmerz, actually far too optimistic. Start with this quote he grabs from one Anatol Lieven:

U.S. global power, as presently conceived by the overwhelming majority of the U.S. establishment, is unsustainable. . . The empire can no longer raise enough taxes or soldiers, it is increasingly indebted, and key vassal states are no longer reliable. . . The result is that the empire can no longer pay for enough of the professional troops it needs to fulfill its self-assumed imperial tasks.
This is plain garden-party nonsense. Poor Chucky may have a nice hand with the research lamp -- from here and there and everywhere, he can locate the boils of empire like a pig finds truffles -- but he's got no head for global economics.

After a solemn accounting of the details of our near half-trillion imperial security budget, and of our massive $800 billion trade gap, and our Asian finance plan, and our reckless tax-free Babbit profit fantasia, he concludes:

... if the American people do not find a way to choose democracy over empire -- at least our imperial venture will end not with a nuclear bang but a financial whimper.
But sir, it simply won't. Given uncle's unique place at the head of the table, Wall Street can weather any conceivable national or global depression -- weather it in a purely economic sense, I mean.

Nope, barring a meteor sent by Yahweh himself, I fear Uncle's show has a long long run ahead of it. "No one can stop us now, baby" -- at least not till we cross over the far horizon where, yes indeed, the huge indefinite shape of a nemesis surely waits. But hey, mates, that horizon must be measured in half-century units -- unless we the teeming weebles find a way to put a stop to this Barnum-and-Bailey style grand guignol by blowing a few main boilers here at home.

February 2, 2007

Un-Biden

Mike Flugennock writes:
Damn, dude, was that one helluva Presidential campaign kickoff, or what? Who'd think that a boring old bastard like Joe Biden could pull out humdingers like his characterization of fellow fascism-enabler Barack "O-bomb-Iran-a" Obama -- “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy”?

And, while I'm at it, just what is it that makes this old creep doing a piss-poor job of imitating a stereotypical gray-haired distinguished Senator think he has a crack at winning the Democrapic Nomination, let alone the White House? Really, man, what dull-assed old geezer. Y'know, it's been maybe seven, eight years now, and I still can't figure out how this undistinguished blowhard got famous.

I'll give the guy this, though; he's really outstanding at huffing and puffing and blustering and wagging his dick at everyone and still managing to say nothing that hadn't been already said weeks before by some other useless Democrapic hack.

Great Black Hope channels Col. Blimp

The much-ballyhoo'd new Governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, is clearly going to provide us all a rich vein of fun over the next few years:

http://www.andnetwork.com/index?service=direct/0/Home/recent.titleStory&sp=l173151

More than 10 blinking electronic devices planted at bridges and other spots in Boston threw a scare into the city in what turned out to be a publicity campaign for a late-night cable cartoon... Highways, bridges and a section of the Charles River were shut down and bomb squads were sent in ... "It's a hoax - and it's not funny," said Gov. Deval Patrick, who said he will speak to the state's attorney general "about what recourse we may have."

Turner Broadcasting, a division of Time Warner Inc. and parent of Cartoon Network, said the devices were part of a promotion for the TV show "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" ... "They have been in place for two to three weeks in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, Austin, San Francisco, and Philadelphia," [said Turner Broadcasting].

The oddly hysterical response in Beantown had some of my mailing lists scratching their heads. The Hub is supposed to be so... liberal. Why then did they react more hysterically than Chicago... Atlanta... Philadelphia?

To which I would respond -- do you have to ask?

February 6, 2007

You can't make this stuff up

I know, it's just a silly little local story, but I can't resist:
A fine for using your iPod, cell while walking?
That's what one state politician wants

(Brooklyn - WABC, February 6, 2007) - A [Democratic] state senator from Brooklyn says he wants to make it illegal to use an iPod or cell phone or blackberry while crossing the street.... Senator Carl Kruger of Brooklyn is proposing a law that if anybody uses any kind of electronic device while crossing an intersection, they may face a fine of $100 dollars....

"iPods don't kill pedestrians. Cars and trucks kill pedestrians. So instead of blaming the victim, our elected officials should be passing tougher laws for reckless driving," said Paul Steeley White of Transportation Alternatives.

It takes a village to save people from the consequences of their own reckless walking.

February 8, 2007

Insurgency, Times style

The Times has its early look at Edwards --

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/05/us/politics/05edwards.html?th&emc=th

He's in racing form, sez the Gray Lady, but she draws this sober conclusion:

Mr. Edwards is a credible contender, like anyone running an insurgency against the establishment candidate, he will not be able to fall back on the top-tier institutional and financial support that will rescue Mrs. Clinton if she should stumble in the early states where Mr. Edwards appears strongest.
Yup, Edwards is an "insurgent", according to the view from Times Square anyway -- an insurgent not like the marvelous mister McG in '72, but rather like my closet hero, Gary Hartpence in '84.

I guess you are judged by the company you're forced into, and if it's the thin high air of the candidate summit, where only Mother Clinton and a covert corporate conjury we call Obama can cavort -- well then, I guess our Johnny is doing it under-doggy style.

PS -- Gomer Edwards would still keep the Patriot Act, so long as its domestic super-snooper prick gets lopped off. How long would that bargaining chip last, I wonder?

Milk the kiddies

Any kind of universal health plan, without the cost locks that only single-payer can get to, is creating a super youth-ripoff trap. Mitt Romney's fiendish scheme here in Massachusetts (eagerly embraced by that clown Andy Stern of SEIU) is a perfect example.

The scam is to frog-march a bunch of healthy 20-year-olds into a for-profit insurance system that each year they'll pay into way way more than they'll get out. Extract billions from 'em, and say it's for their own good.

Pretty slick, huh?

February 11, 2007

Kissing the ring -- or whatever

Obviously the Catholic hierarchy was not even a little cowed by the wild, unabashed, and very expensive nationwide expose of their cover-up of a decades-long man-boy robes act, ranging from harmless pocket pool to nasty love links. At any rate we can all enjoy the Universal Church hydra rising into dudgeon mode, and savagely striking down bathtub Baptist Johhny Edwards and his pair of recently-hired blogchicks for -- and isn't this rich -- their offenses against community standards of decency. Here's a pro-clerical take from my favorite Catrag, thanks to mcat.

There was a lot of surprised pwog-blog chatter about this -- how on earth could something so downscale and obscurantist as a groupuscule of Catholic hammerheads get the Injun sign over thoroughly modern Johnnie? These folks need to get some historical perspective. Before there was the AIPAC Policy Conference, there was... the Al Smith Dinner.

One wonders when some Catlick pol will at long last out these pederastic ghouls for their clandestine, behind-the-sacristy-curtain knife-throwing. It's well past time for those in the center of the arena to stop worring about the wrath of these vicious queens from Crowtown.

PS -- The real lead meatball here seems to be our old friend William A Donahue, head of the Catholic League:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_A._Donohue

Now that all the Huguenots are dead, it's secular pornocrats he and his reborn league are after.

Hillary and Barack: King and queen of the boomer prom

These past few weeks we have witnessed the consummation of 40 years of merit-class identity politics, with the front-running candidacies for president of senators Clinton and Obama.

These stars are the better angels of a class and their consummation is betrayal, self-contradiction, the pious wish with hideous brutal consquences.

The vast goo-goo "me boomer, you profane" post-Woodstock wave has crested, with this result, this Hollywood ending.

But behold and beware: the goddess of history is too mighty to be maudlin. This promise of a Hollywood ending is a fraud, a saleable confection, strictly for profit only.

So go, you better-off boomers -- go out into the streets, and rage against the candy coated nightmare machine.

Go, and sin no more.

February 12, 2007

You! Off the tiger!

Why do I keep knocking Chalmers Johnson? I love the man. Deeply. But check this out, from Harper's:

http://www.harpers.org/RepublicOrEmpire.html

It's a digest of his latest and last volume in the Blowback trilogy, Nemesis, a book of 300-odd pages, which I streaked, standing up at a bookstore last night.

Much of it got my bowels gurgling, but I'm bugged on one point -- enough for this post, anyway -- and this line from the Harper's article gets right onto that bug's back:

"Like the British after World War II, the United States could choose to keep its democracy by giving up its empire."

Giving up its empire? Swearing off it? By choice? Is that what the Brits did? Is that what Chalmers means -- or did Homer just nod?

Beacuse of course the Brits did nothing of the sort. Yes, in one beastly place after another, all across the planet, after '45, they folded up their Victorian charm schools, and like an exposed snake oil salesman, fled for cover. But Chuck, they didn't jump, they were pushed -- and pulled, twisted, and kicked, not just by the lesser breeds, but also by brawny Cousin Jonathan.

And even so, they are hardly in retirement. They may no longer command the major world courts as singles players, but they still play doubles on the imperial circuit, with Uncle Overhead Slam as partner in chief.

Let's agree on one fact here: ever since old Europe's 19th century empires all beat each other senseless between 1914 and 1945, and even before that useful bogey, Russia's Marxoidal figment, disintegrated in '89, we earthlings have been living either under, against, in, or through a unitary global empire doing business as America the Exceptional. My dear, and deeply esteemed, professor Johnson, empires of any sort -- even shabby, crumbling ones like the Brits ran prior to '45, and let alone unitary ones like Uncle Hedge runs today -- just can't take honorable leave of their global obligations, depredations and gainful exactions. The very idea is pure Disneyesque Tinkerbell hallucineering. Shame on you, dearest Chuck. You know better, and say as much in your trilogy, over and over. Doom is the beat of your narrative's drum throughout -- and rightly so.

Yeah, it's tempting to think that Uncle Sam might join some nonexistent little Britain in imperial rehab -- that the American titan might morph into some kinda of hulking Tom Jefferson in spurs. But Chucky, you must know that that was out of the question probably 30 years before 1896.

Headline impossible:

Weebles to Wall Street:
LET'S CALL THE WHOLE THING OFF!
Okay, fine. For the sake of the story line, let's say somehow we're scaling back the state to de Tocqueville dimensions. So tell me -- where do you suggest we put all those transnational corporations?

February 15, 2007

The nuclear option: use it

Mike F. left us a beautiful bass aria in a comment:
It'd be worth what comes after just to see the looks on the faces of Hillary/Obama/Kucinich/Emmanuel/Pelosi/McAuliffe when they realize their scaremongering didn't work anymore, and that we're about to plow this baby in hard.

Talk about "strategic voting". Yee-hah, time to seize the plane! God Is Great!

Indeed. Any kind of anger that looks mad enough to bend reason and self-interest into a pretzel -- any defiance, any urinating on the scarecrow totems of the donkery, any desperate act that says "we have no handles, you long-eared asswipes" -- will send a lovely freakout wave through the upper strata of the Pharisees of our do-goodly empire.

Laudator temporis acti

An uncharacteristically lame piece on Counterpunch this afternoon:

http://counterpunch.com/simmons02152007.html

... a slobbering "way it was and sure ain't now" wallow over the duo of Steadman and Thompson. They was wild, baby, wild, and confrontational to THE MAN, and oh there are none such now... in this age of Smallville conformity and cubicle-contrived and -timed hilarity.

Horseshit, pard -- pure Kentuck horseshit.

My man Hunter oughta pee burning waste ichor down his throat tonight. Has this guff not noticed we got a new generation of wizards? Did he not reflect on the recent G-WOT mockery here in Beantown? And that quality of calm superiority... I loved Hunter dearly, but he never never reached that sweet spot.

Okay, I know -- on the one hand, for those two fuzzballs, it was effortless. But on the other hand, it takes tons of lost time and mangling souls to produce them two -- generations' worth of taxiing around the runway.

My message to the likes of the brass fart that wrote that piece about ole Hunter and Ralph -- dreary self-pitying birds like him oughta go hunker on a perch somewhere far, far away, and keep their bills clamped shut.

We got to step away from the front lights boomer boom, and let the next wave, and the next after that, pound and blast this sandy shore into whatever new shapes it can take.

February 16, 2007

Dis-civilization and its contents

Let's forget the reality of our planet-wide means-of-living mangler -- the transnational corporations that really make us hated -- and focus instead on its appearance in the minds of cultivated merit-classers as a "clash of civilizations."

Well, come to think of it, maybe it is one. The piece of us that's cutting into the rest of the world's hide 24/7 -- maybe that really is our civilization: our monster from the collective id, our beautiful novelty machine, our ten thousand points of hyper-innovational, by all means availible, insistently iconoclastical-- in short our Faustian imperative to kaizen every fucking thing in our way. It's as if we have an unconditional license for new kicks, new highs, no insights, no majesties -- all marketable, of course, all new ways to construct our latest neat notion of a better self.

We do this by slum-clearing all in our way. We build on the rubble we make out of everyone elses' souls. And then, what else -- we're surprised, and hurt, deeply hurt, when this makes our progressive enlightened caring altruistic fun culture seem poisonous to all other civilizations.

We are profane to all sacred ways, even our own of three minutes ago, and we go about the globe doing "decent" violence in the name of a genteel free-for-all indecency.

One, two, three, many

This belongs with those lovely sauce for the gander bits: The New York Times harrrumphs at democracy getting its flame blown out by Russian state thuggery:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/15/world/europe/15russia.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin

This time round, seems Putin's boyz are slimfasting its N-party system. My favorite quote, from one activist facing Putin's crafty particide wave: It would be like if California had an election and only five Republican Parties could run. Wellll, as Doddering Ronnie might have said, what's wrong with that? Maybe they can fall all over each other. Maybe they'll all be as different from each other as the Karamazov boys were.

And besides, with 5 Republican parties, that's still three Republican parties more than California has got.

February 17, 2007

The racing form

The one and only Mike Flugennock tells us all we need to know:

"HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN:
Your Jackass Slate For 2008!"

Well, here we are not even six months after The Most Important Election Since The Last Mass Extinction Event and, like Christmas commercials during the World Series, the Democratic "stars" have already announced their intentions to make political hay out of the disasters they allowed to happen for the past five years -- that is to say, announced their candidacies for the 2008 Presidential Fracas which, as any Democrat will tell you, will be The Most Important Election Since The Earth Cooled To A Temperature Conducive To Life.

So, what's more to say, gang, except let's get on with the slagging -- uhh...that is, let's look at some quick, elegant analyses of the "major" candidates (so far) on your Jackass Slate For 2008!

EDWARDS:

http://www.sinkers.org/posters/democrats08/edwards08.jpg

Ballsiest of the bunch, for sure, announcing the week after Christmas, and while doing what was obviously a staged photo op around New Orleans, pretending to help clean up a wrecked, wasted neighborhood and help some people get their lives back together, all while announcing for Big White Massuh's House. Am I the only one here who, on seeing this guy for the first time, could only think that here was the new Beautiful Hair Breck Boy, and that if he were a C&W singer, he'd be getting more ass on the road in a month than most regular guys get in a lifetime, and just where the hell did he come from, anyway?
THE FINAL ANALYSIS: HE'S GOT BETTER HAIR.

HILLARY:

http://www.sinkers.org/posters/democrats08/hillary08.jpg

Hillary, Hillary, Hillary! What else could I possibly say about Hillary that hasn't already been said about the sensation of having red-hot steel needles driven into your eyeballs? Anyone who's seen the YouTube clip of Hillary meeting with Code Weak...uh, Code Pink back in '03, or heard her speechifying in the past month, will tell you that her skills at telling people shit they want to hear are still par excellence. Just five minutes of Hillary and you'll know how the pancake feels when they lay on the Aunt Jemima. Will this be our '90s Nostalgia -- CNN once again being the Clinton News Network, NBC once again being Nothing But Clinton?
THE FINAL ANALYSIS: SHE'LL PANDER TO ANYONE.

KUCINICH:

http://www.sinkers.org/posters/democrats08/kucinich08.jpg

(Full Disclosure: Your Cartoonist has been a hardcore Deadhead since 1978.)

Y'know, when Dennis Kucinich launched his "insurgent" candidacy in '04, I first thought "well, hot damn! He sure as hell won't win, but at least he'll put the fear of god in those DLC hoods!" This was, of course, before hearing about -- and witnessing -- his miserable, craven performance at the Democratic Convention, his supporters having their "Kucinich'08" signs ripped from their hands and replaced with Kerry signs by DNC goons without any apparent sign of protest. No bolting the Convention, no boycott of the vote, no nothing, just Dennis Kucinich leading his merry band of phony "progressives" over the cliff with John Kerry (and Code Weak bringing up the rear). And now, as if this lack of effort was actually appreciated, here's Dennis The Menace, back again, to suck all the life out of the American peace cargo cult -- uh, American peace movement.
THE FINAL ANALYSIS: HE'LL WASTE THE LEFT'S TIME.

OBAMA:

http://www.sinkers.org/posters/democrats08/obama08.jpg

(Full Disclosure: Your Cartoonist was drooled on by the Washington Post in 2002.)

Who else here saw Barack Obama's beaming mug in the paper or on TV right about the time of the '04 Democratic Convention and thought, "Who the hell is this guy, and why are they drooling over him like he was a goddamn' rock'n'roll star?" I mean, seriously, the guy was basically a nobody, then suddenly he was all over the goddamn' place -- kinda like a political version of an American Idol winner. No years of living on club gigs and peanut-butter sandwiches, no paying dues on the road as a backup act, just wham! You're a star! Did anyone else here also find themselves reading the drooling and thinking, darkly, that the Donks were already grooming Obama for '08, and that he was here not to actually do anything for African America, but to give Geezin' Old White Liberal America something to feel good about -- so they can go back to not really giving a shit about what's happening to black and brown people in this country and when anybody calls them on it, they can say "hey, gimme a break! I voted for Barack Obama!" The only Black constituency I can think of who'd possibly go for Obama would be what I like to call the "Ebony Magazine Demographic".
THE FINAL ANALYSIS: HE'S NOT "TOO BLACK".

Code Pink Meets Hillary, March 2003:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYATbsu2cP8

February 23, 2007

Erst die Moral, dann das Fressen

A must-read -- if the Washpost has any such thing --

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/20/AR2007022001575.html?referrer=email

It's about the "left" attack on Ellen Tauscher, and it's like one of those wonderful movies that has all the character actors you really like: my fave Cal gal, Jane Harman; Hoyer; la Nan; even Kos and Moveon.

Act One: the all-fours netroots attack:

Progressive blogs -- including two new ones, Ellen Tauscher Weekly and Dump Ellen Tauscher -- were bashing her as a traitor to her party. A new liberal political action committee had just named her its "Worst Offender." And in Tauscher's East Bay district office that day in January, eight MoveOn.org activists were accusing her of helping President Bush send more troops to Iraq.
Act Two: The party honchos rally round, and the weak sisters cave
Pelosi has clashed with Tauscher in the past, but she's now eager to hold together her diverse caucus ...So far, Pelosi and her leadership team seem determined to protect Tauscher and her 60 New Democrats -- up from 47 before the election. In fact, the day after Working for Us, the new progressive political action committee, targeted Tauscher, Pelosi sought her out at a caucus meeting and assured her: "I'm not going to let this happen." House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) spent 20 minutes complaining to Working for Us founder Steve Rosenthal, who swiftly removed the hit list of "Worst Offenders" from the group's Web site.
Intermezzo: Kos plays an own-horn sonata
"Absolutely, we could take her out," said Markos Moulitsas Zuniga -- better known as Kos -- the Bay Area blogger behind the influential Daily Kos site
Act Three: More weak sisters

Despite a long career as a friend of war and killer trade agreements, the cultural lib defense tries to cover her flank with green pink and caring:

"..liberal groups such as the Children's Defense Fund and the League of Conservation Voters give Tauscher impeccable report cards, while the National Rifle Association gives her straight F's."
Act Four: The hardline Net warriors return to the offense

It's about Iraq, stupid!

"We need her to stand up and end this war," said Joi. She and her Code Pink colleagues recently told Tauscher that if she wouldn't support a bill calling for total withdrawal from Iraq within six months, they'd occupy one of her district offices."
Act Five: Cue the sousaphones, as the union piecards come lumbering over the ridge:
Gerald W. McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, made it clear that Working for Us didn't work for him.

"Our majority can disappear in a wisp," he told the members. "I'm the sheriff of the incumbent-protection program, and if you need help, let me know. In Blue America, there's no room for PACs to chase vulnerable members they have differences with."

And a special cameo by Andy Stern, usually the blood enemy of McEntee, but singing sweet close harmony with him on this song:
Tauscher soon met for a glass of wine with Andy Stern, the feisty liberal who runs the Service Employees International Union; he assured her of his union's support.
Epilogue: Kos and Jane Harman, canon in diapente
Kos points to Harman as a perfect example of how the Net roots can keep Democrats in line. He said Harman used to be a constant irritant, a go-to quote for reporters looking for a Democrat to tweak liberals -- until she had to fight off a primary challenge from the left in 2006. "She's been great ever since," he said. Now Harman even writes on the liberal Huffington Post blog
And here's Jane, with the show's defining line:
Having served in the majority and the minority, I can tell you, the majority is better.
And that, dear readers, is what it's all about: the snout in the trough.

February 24, 2007

Some good news for a change

Fun stuff from the nice folks at Angus Reid today.

I. Thinking the unthinkable

http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/index.cfm/fuseaction/viewItem/itemID/14838

Adults in the United States are divided on who should certify medical insurance coverage, according to a poll by Zogby Interactive. 35 per cent of respondents think the issue is the primary purview of the federal government, 31 per cent leave it up to each individual, and 15 per cent believe employers should be responsible.
Looks like Andy Stern has his work cut out for him. More interestingly, the utterly unthinkable single-payer option commands the support of a plurality of the public, even though nobody of consequence is propagandizing for it, and our leaders almost unanimously deplore it as rank Bolshevism.

II. The sorrows of Brand X

http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/index.cfm/fuseaction/viewItem/itemID/14842

Republican Rudy Giuliani holds an advantage over three prospective Democratic presidential nominees in the United States, according to a poll by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. 48 per cent of respondents would vote for the former New York City mayor in 2008, while 43 per cent would support New York senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Giuliani holds a seven-point edge over Illinois senator Barack Obama, and an eight-point advantage over former North Carolina senator John Edwards.

Okay, I'm probably reading too much into this. In the case of Obama and Whatsisname from South Bumfuck, nonrecognition probably plays a role. But it's gotta mean something that Giuliani, who has been off the radar for years and has the fatal tin can of New York City tied to his tail, is doing better than the gorgon Hillary, who has four-walled herself from coast to coast, accumulated a money bin that makes Scrooge McDuck look like trailer trash, and re-tooled her image with every twitch of the applause-meter.

III. Les douleurs du Brand X, a la Francaise

http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/index.cfm/fuseaction/viewItem/itemID/14840

Hillary's poor showing is mirrored -- on a much more stylish and elegant plane, of course -- by the sleek Segolene Royal, a supposed Socialist somewhat in the Bernie Sanders mode, though nicer-looking:

Nicolas Sarkozy holds a larger lead in France’s presidential race, according to a poll by Ipsos published in Le Point. 33 per cent of respondents would vote for the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) contender in this year’s election. Ségolène Royal of the Socialist Party (PS) is second with 23 per cent, followed by Union for French Democracy (UDF) leader François Bayrou with 16 per cent, and Jean-Marie Le Pen of the National Front (FN) with 13 per cent....In a prospective run-off scenario, Sarkozy holds an eight-point advantage over Royal.

TNR, RIP (and not a minute too soon)

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/23/business/media/23cnd-mag.html?hp=&pagewanted=print
New Republic to Cut Back Publication Schedule

The New Republic, the thinning left-leaning weekly magazine whose circulation has plunged in the era of the Web, is overhauling itself.... CanWest Global Communications, a Canadian media conglomerate that had been a minority shareholder in The New Republic, is now the majority owner. Martin Peretz, the editor-in-chief, is retaining his one-quarter interest. “Having a corporation in the ownership mix, and at a publishing company at that, is a much greater guarantee for the financial future of the magazine,” Mr. Peretz said today. “It just seemed to me, given my own intellectual and moral synergies with Leornard Asper, a very good partnership.” Mr. Asper, the chief executive of CanWest, was not immediately available for comment.

Poor Mr Asper was probably in the bathroom throwing up. "Intellectual and moral synergies!" Really, Marty Peretz is a national treasure -- who else could ever come up with a phrase like that? -- but the idea of having synergy with him, or syn-anything for that matter, would surely turn the stomach of a turkey vulture.

I'm not sure exactly what the apparently imminent demise of the New Republic portends, but it's good news in any case. TNR was never an organ of the Right -- in a perverse way, the Times ignoramus actually got it sort of correct, without knowing how or why, when she called it a "left-leaning" rag. Of course you have to understand "left" here in its peculiar Times sense, as a synonym for "liberal."

TNR always formed part of the institutional apparatus of American liberalism, not American "conservatism" (to use, for the moment, another word in a common but nonetheless peculiar sense). TNR's function was to provide cover for the liberals' thirty-year romance with... with... -- oh, what the hell, I'm going to let my inner sectarian take wing and call them The Forces Of Reaction. I know it sounds like something out of Monthly Review, but at least it uses words in a straighforward, un-peculiar sense.

So. A few possibilities:

1) TNR is no longer needed. The aforementioned romance has been well and truly consummated by the mighty schlong of the aforementioned F's of R, and the liberals -- all six of them -- have settled more or less contentedly into the life of a cellblock byotch.

2) TNR has exhausted whatever credibility it ever had, even among the infinitely gullible punters of American liberalism, and some other means will have to be found for them to fool themselves that they're splitting the difference.

3) Liberalism has decided to turn from its wickedness and live again.

We can probably discount #3, or at least I hope we can. My own hope is that TNR, having been one of the instruments of the liberals' auto-euthanasia, is now following them into that good night.

March 5, 2007

Why is there no socialism in... well... anywhere?

Carrol Cox, a person whose stuff I always read with pleasure on lbo-talk, recently wrote:
As an ex-weatherman, ex lrs-member said to me back in '92 (explaining why he would vote for Clinton) "I would like to win for a change." Understand, that slogan doesn't mean "I want to achieve this or that goal" but merely "I want to win" just to say I won. Some of my former lrs-comrades in Chicago had sincerely hypnotized themselves into the belief that "Daley represented the progressive wing of the bourgeoisie."

Except for those widely separated times when capitalism really badly wounds itself the opposition (whether revolutionary or reformist) is going to lose -- and it will lose even worse if it hypnotises itself into thinking that it could win if it only had another strategy or only didn't make this that or the other mistake.

The job of leftists is to keep trying and losing trying and losing until their trying occurs at one of those times when capitalism has wounded itself. If they don't keep up the fight (without illusions of some new trick of winning) they won't be prepared when victory is possible.

The major fact of the post-war period up to and including the present is the enormous strength of capital. Part of that strength is creating the illusion of correctible weaknesses or errors on the left, so in trying to correct those irrelevant errors leftists stop being leftists.

I guess it's a little perverse of me, but in all sincerity I find this comforting. I'm not being snide here. "Keep trying and losing" -- well sheeit, that I know how to do.

March 19, 2007

All ashore that's going ashore

I read a lot of corporate news, but this story jarred my pea-pickin, two sizes too small grinch carburetor:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/17/business/17blackstone.html?th&emc=th

According to the NY Times biz-alarm, the infamous "private equity" company Blackstone may be about to make an IPO.

So what's the whoop here?

When these high rollers decide it's time to dump something on the asshole unsuspecting horde of greedy little rentier rubes and mutual sprawl funds, you can bet they're figuring something big's coming down, and it ain't going to be like an Easter parade -- err, not like any Easter parade other than the first one, anyway.

My guess is, what's out there over our horizon is a huge flock of dollar denominated Frankenstein's monsters, all products of the latest state of the art financial engineering, and these sorcerers figure the lot of 'em are likely to go absolutely berzerk sometime between 6 months and 2 years.

But how come they see it coming and we all don't... yet?

'Cause hell, they built the damn things. I bet they figure it may be too late already even for them -- but given the complexity of these things, much like earthquakes really, fuck it -- it's worth a try.

Let's declare victory before we leave

So what really did happen after the love-in was over -- after the Woodstock gig turned into crab apple time? What happened after Chicago '68? Was it all just the merit class 69ing itself forever? Were we college primed boomers and our leaders from middle dearth really as big a bust in the 70's and early 80's as today's results would lead any honest observing feller to conclude?

Well, I sure think so.

And yet the self-fellating goes on, and we even get unwarranted help from our sorry junior eagle scout late boomers and early X-ers. Case in point: this post by one Nathan Newman:

http://coffeehouse.tpmcafe.com/blog/coffeehouse/2007/jan/15/new_left_netroots_and_the_other_lefts

After the media hype of the Vietnam War, this country saw an explosion of institutional rejuvenation and creation the likes of which we have rarely seen.

Local and state governments were challenged and radically changed. Cities where rightwing local leaders had sicked dogs on civil rights campaigners were taken over by new black progressive leaders, who would become mayors of cities across the country.

New community organizations, from ACORN to Citizen Action groups to a range of other organizations grew and expanded throughout the 1970s, becoming the backbone of what some called the "Backyard Revolution" that changed local politics across the country in ways we often take for granted.

From barely being a blip in American consciousness, the environmental movement built a host of new institutions, from the PIRGs to the League of Conservation Voters to local environmental organizations in communities across the country.

The feminist movement similarly emerged out of the New Left and built its own set of institutions and sought leadership in a range of existing institutions-- and the new female Speaker of the House is just one testament to the success of that long march through the institutions by progressive women.

I once had a lawyer helping me negotiate a purchase and sale agreement for a commercial property. At one point in the process, he told me: "Owen, I can get ya the ears, the tail, the hooves, prolly the asshole, and maybe the dick in this deal -- but not the tenderloins." I'm afraid we boomers got the asshole -- actually, a whole crowd of assholes -- and not much else.

Second prize: A free trip to Lourdes

This probably shouldn't seem funny to me. Probably, it shows what a heartless prick I really am. But I bet some of you other heartless pricks will laugh too:

http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2007/03/TNS_kiley_taskforce_031907/

Senators worry about mental health task force

Two senators [Boxer and Liberman] have written a letter to the secretary of defense to express concern that the Defense Department’s Mental Health Task Force will not release its report in June...

The task force was created to determine how the military could best meet the mental health needs of service members, particularly those returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Boxer is the author of the law establishing the task force....

Lieberman and Boxer said service members need pre- and post-deployment mental health screenings, comprehensive mental health education, and measures to get rid of the stigma associated with those seeking mental health treatment.

They also raised concerns about the need for more mental health care workers in outlying areas of the country where veterans have had problems finding help.

“Service members cannot be forced to wait for care because of a shortage of mental health providers,” they wrote. “Tragedies have occurred because service members did not receive the care they needed.”

So let me get this straight. We send these kids off to places like Iraq and Afghanistan, to kill and die for oil, or Israel, or whatever the hell we're there for. And surprise! they come home as crazy as bedbugs.

What to do? The Lieberman/Boxer solution: More accredited experts to smooth out the rough edges of imperial blowback. Especially in "outlying areas," where the anaesthetic effects of psychotherapy and psychopharmacology as as yet insufficiently appreciated. Those poor hicks need to be brought up to date.

This piece is rife with wonderful phrases. A "mental health provider?" Get your mental health here! Reasonable terms!

No doubt the magic of the market can be relied on to drive down the price of mental health to somewhere near its cost of reproduction -- unless, of course, you're contrarian enough to think that mental health is not to be had at any price in the society we live in. If you're not crazy, you must be really crazy.

I love the idea of a "task force" to deal with craziness. I have my own ideas about what shape a "task force" might take in order to deal with the institutionalized craziness of people like Barbara Boxer and her close friend Joe Lieberman. But I can't really discuss them in public. Hint: a red-hot poker is involved.

March 20, 2007

Bear baiting, again

Kosovo in the news again: slowly I turn.

I called my mongrel Balkan know-it-all friend, Spiros Lapchick. His read came to this :

"Everyone knows this is just the latest Security Council push by the Eu-Yank crowd, in their installment plan to squeeze out every last drop of Russian influence west of the Ukraine border."

Needless to say, the Russians are prepared to lash back with a veto if necessary.

Here's the plan as described by the NYT:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/20/world/europe/20nations.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin

...grants Kosovo de facto nationhood -- an army, a constitution and a flag -- to be overseen by a European Union-led mission to provide protection for the province's ethnic Serbs, who are the minority.
That is: Integrate -- independently -- the troubled former Serbian heartland into 'greater EU-ville' -- a "de facto" nation-state for the Albanian majority and a "de facto shaftski" for the Serbs.

"So what," you say. "Screw 'em, the genocidal brutes. And they're down to a slim 10% of the cleansed residential population anyway -- cleansed in a clean human-face way, of course."

Well, not so fast. "De facto" is a key pivot here. Why "de facto"? Odd, isn't it? Why not just hold a plebiscite, and then after the Albanians vote for it, "recognize" their "independence", like, say, Croatia or Slovenia?

Answer: this needs to be an imposed solution. If the Albanians can vote independence in Kosovo, where next? What's to prevent these very fertile folks from overrunning Macedonia, too, and maybe all voting to create a greater Albania? So it needs to be imposed, but it also needs to be prettied up, with a slather pharisaic hypocrisy.

This collective power play by the greater Euro community and its American big buddy has its nasty side effects. Besides Russia playing the great power at bay here, as it gets stomped trying to protect its runt of a buddy, of course we also have the action/reaction of the runt itself. Fudge or no fudge, this will prove quite the demagogic firecracker up in country that's still Serb -- meaning much stormy weather ahead.

So... calming influences are needed, right? And a go-slow, step-by-step approach?

Well, not apparently from the Yank empire's viewpoint. The NYT asks none other than our all-purpose donkular proconsul and perpetual SecState bridesmaid, Dick "The Dirk" Holbrooke. He gives 'em a nice taste of Foggy Bottom thinking:

This is not simply a game of maneuver at the United Nations.... delay, dilution, or a veto of the plan will have violent consequences for which the Russians will bear responsibility.
Yikes! Dick is obviously spoiling for a showdown with the Slavic pricks. And so, fans, to what new dust-and-blood swirl-up is this great-game scrum-bully about to take us?

As my pal Spiros says: "It's not called Balkan madness for nothing."

March 26, 2007

Who cares about this runt?

The chewing of Speedy Gonzo has all the earmarks of a staged congo vs. White House grapple. Bush has had a final sacrifice in mind from day one on this. Speedy will go, but not until both teams squeeze all the pips out of it.

Job one for both sides: make it look like a balance-of-power, divided-gubmint set-to, a hard-nosed and hard-fought steel cage match won by the baby-face Dems.

The goal, of course, is to provide the Quislings of big-ear city the proper duck and cover. Surely it will smooth the donk public swallowing of Bushco's war funding, if the Congo leadership can hold up the severed head of a full-bore Secretary of Torture.

March 27, 2007

Stop traffic

Demokratia ... has always been a word denoting conflict, a factional term, coined by the higher classes to denote the “excessive power” (kratos) exercised by the non-property-owning classes (demos).
--Luciano Canfora
Democracy is not an institution, it's a state of affairs. It can't be implemented by law. It is intrinsically the enemy of privilege and wealth – and by the same token, privilege and wealth are intrinsically its enemies. The existence of democracy, in a world where privilege and wealth exist at all, depends upon conflict. In such a world, wherever there is peace – social peace, at any rate -- there will be no justice, and certainly no democracy. The orderly operation of legal institutions, in such a world, works noctes atque dies to one end: to make the privileged and wealthy more so, and, by ineluctable implication, to suppress democracy.

An essential entailment of any degree of democracy, in a world like ours, is fear – fear on the part of the elites that the natives may be getting restless. Peaceful, legal protest, and especially participation in the electoral charade, have the opposite effect. They reassure the elites that the natives are not at all restless – that the natives accept their impotence and, so to speak, prefer watching pornography to engaging in real sex. The pornography I mean is, of course, the contrived theater of “politics” as that term is ordinarily understood. And what would be the political equivalent of real sex?

Real politics doesn't necessarily imply hanging “investment bankers” from lampposts – though that would be fun as well as salutary. It is not, however, essential, at the moment, and perhaps not ever. The elites know they are greatly outnumbered by the rest of us, and they are fundamentally frightened of us. All you have to do is stop traffic.

Stopping traffic is, in fact, the minimum precondition for real politics, and thus of real democracy, just as the touch of skin on skin is the minimum precondition of real sex.

Interestingly, it has never been easier to stop traffic. Those Merry Pranksters in Boston a few weeks ago did it with a handful of blinking LEDs. Self-imposed “War on Terror” hysteria and police frenzy have made the armorbound, overgunned Talus of the enforcement state frightened of its own shadow – or, more accurately, of any point of light, no matter how transient and faint, that isn't its shadow. Anything Caliban sees in the mirror that isn't Caliban will have Caliban on the floor, chewing the carpet.

Buy a cheap knapsack or duffle bag every week. Stuff it with rags or old underwear and leave it in a subway station, or an airport, or just on a sidewalk. Tune in to the evening news and watch the fun.

They hate crowds. Go to Gawker Stalker and report Britney Spears running bare-tit down the street in front of the Israeli Consulate. Be sure to provide the address.

Carry a small can of black spray paint and use it on the lens of every surveillance camera you see. I know, it won't stop traffic, but it'll drive 'em crazy.

Drive really, really slow. In fact, get a couple of co-conspirators to drive really, really slow alongside you. When news radio reports a mysterious slowdown on the Whatever Expressway, take credit in the name of the Asphalt Liberation Front.

Create a dozen or so bogus accounts on some Web site that annoys you – may I suggest Daily Kos? -- and keep the troll-hunters wakeful and strung out. It doesn't stop physical traffic, but it stops, or at least impedes, the ideological traffic in exploded notions.

Don't allow your kids to do homework.

The main thing, though, is to stop being constructive. Don't waste a moment thinking about what “policies” might be better than the ones we have. The fact is that the institutions we have absolutely guarantee insane policies, and unless the balance of power between the elites and the rest of us is changed, then those institutions will continue to manufacture insanity day in and day out.

And there is, needless to say, no institutional way to change the balance of power. The institutions exist to maintain the balance of power – or, more accurately, to tip the balance of power ever more toward the elites. Changing the balance of power requires interfering with the institutions, and impairing or impeding their operation.

In short: stop traffic.

March 28, 2007

Pimps. shrimps, and blimps

Saw this at a site not worth mentioning, in comments:
You start from the presumption that the wealthy are the enemy, but the dividing lines aren't that clear. In the last election, Democrats won the majority of voters in the $100,000-$150,000 tax bracket and they won over 60 percent of those making from $150,000-$200,000.
What this reveals is wonderful. The writer presumes -- and I suspect she/he is not alone -- that the usual Dem base voters are lower-income folks. The donk party is the party of the poverty pimps and union piecards.

In fact, merit class success stories with 150k-plus incomes are really the base of the Kerry/St Hill/Obama descendant of King Andy's party.

From the trial lawyers to the MD specialists to the higher-ed profs, the New Dem-ers are pimping for them, Not for the folks in the projects. Pimping for them, to the extent that anyone bothers, is for Jesse and Reverend Al, the party's rainbow caboose.

March 29, 2007

Cockburn invictus

Whats the word of a parlor radical worth? When exposing parlor warriors, it can be just about priceless -- vide Alex C on the tin drummers of Baghdad

http://counterpunch.com/

It's really quite a fine roundup and pranging session. The notables include not just that "platoon of neocons, as potent in historical influence as were supposedly the Knights Templar," but the NYT's very wonderful Judith Miller and Chinese Gordon and Flat Iron Friedman, the New Yorker's pecksniff, Ruby Goldbug, that drunken scag cat Hitchens, "mini-pundits" Todd Gitlin and Michael Berube, and other delightful enabling jugglers and knaves.

And the narrative interweave? A specimen:

...not long after the March, 2003 attack [on Iraq], "Thumpingly blind to the war's virtues" was the head on a Paul Berman op-ed piece in February, 2004. Christopher Hitchens lurched regularly onto Hardball to hurl abuse at critics of the war.
(I wish my prose lurched and thumped so gracefully.)
Sometimes I dream of them, -- Friedman, Hitchens, Berman -- like characters in a Beckett play, buried up to their necks in a rubbish dump on the edge of Baghdad, reciting their columns to each other as the local women turn over the corpses to see if one of them is her husband or her son.
Alex, you're too often aces.

April 7, 2007

The Global War On Timber

Will these feverish greedy Han antmen stop at nothing? First it was prison labor, then organ parts -- now, it's clear cutting mother Earth's virgin forests.

Not satisfied with violating humans' rights, now they're busy violating trees' rights, according to the non-alarmist reporters for the daily Washpost, from Siberia to Burma and beyond:

Some of the largest swaths of natural forest left on the planet are being dismantled at an alarming pace to feed a global wood-processing industry centered in coastal China"

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/31/AR2007033101287.html?referrer=email

Argggh! My druid heart rages! Where's me wee kilty and me pipes? I'll have no more of this! Join me -- in a punitive expedition to Peking!

Keep the bubble bubblin'

If you broke it, you own it; and if you made it go crazy, it's your duty to contain the bloodshed and misery.

No, I don't mean Iraq, I mean the home lot bubble.

Right now besides a lot of geefs that took a fraudulent flyer on a home too high, there is a vertible armada of mini-landlords sitting on spec property that can't earn its nut in the rental market. We'd be fools to clobber this credit sector and drown these folks in their own debt. Sure the Mr Potters of the nation would like that, but we shouldn't.

My point: watch the rube get tossed out with the dead leaves from the great American lending tree. Reading the blog sites, one finds dozens of Samsons straining to pull the temple down on themselves, just to punish the petty greed and noodle heads out there.

I say bail fast as you can -- pump in emergency soft loans -- save our lot price structure.

Sure it should never happen again but to prevent that, you gotta go after the instigators patrons and facilitators, starting with the Facilitator in Chief, the Pinochet of Shylockery.

Ceterum censeo Alanum esse delendum, as Father Smiff would say.

Corn pone

The Nation's David Corn is niblet-brained -- we all know that, or at least don't need to be told that. But this morning I read a piece by him:

http://www.tompaine.com/articles/2007/04/05/who_will_pay_for_the_news.php

about the cheapness of opinions and the costliness of reporting. There's some deep pathos in it:

Thirty-five years ago, when I was an adolescent Watergate junkie, I couldn’t read The Washington Post’s coverage. I lived outside New York City, and it was impossible to find The Post. I still recall the delight I experienced when I passed through the Atlanta airport during a family vacation and walked by a newsstand that sold out-of-town papers. There was a copy of The Post....
I can't go on. Read it yourself, if you're stony-hearted enough to weep at the death of Little Nell. As usual, however, sentimentality eventuates in passing the collection plate:
[People] benefit from the work produced by big media institutions, but they do not pay for it. They have become accustomed to obtaining information for free. But it costs newspapers, news networks and magazines a lot to field reporters (even underpaid ones) and editors who produce the stories that can then be obtained for no pay on websites and that are grabbed by aggregating sites. There has to be revenue to support these operations and infrastructures.
Self serving? Since he's a pay-for-play guy, needless to say, the answer is yes. But there really is a problem under that rock, even if he's turned it over for reasons not becoming a gentleman.

How do we get news rather than conditioning messages? Not just how do we avoid fake Christmas braodcasts from a fallen Stalingrad, but more endemically, how do we not become the dreck we eat 'cause its all we've got?

Knowing the chow's killing you leaves two choices. Choice one, the choice we mostly take, short of abstaining unto starvation: we try to pick out the least harmful parts and make do with elaborate Sherlockian inference.

But are there any decent bits or bits of bits -- really? Hence plan two: get out there and be the news. First hand is the one hand they can't stop grabbing the facts, unless they chop it off -- and that may beat slow starvation.

Personally, I've made it a habit to eat as much junk news as possible -- indiscriminately gorge on it -- take it in by the bucketful. My conjecture: it will sift itself, sort itself, transmute itself by its own diabolic metabolism -- like a Madison house of Reps -- into nuggets of golden truth. By eating yards and yards of lead-pipe lies I hope to shit out about one troy ounce of truth every month.

Obviously, one job action, one street freak, is prolly worth more than ten leagues of lead-pipe eating. But hey, we all do what we can.

April 11, 2007

Poll-driven, or pal-driven?

Mike Flugennock passed along a characteristic item from The Onion:
WASHINGTON, DC—Democrats in both houses of Congress demanded a thorough inquiry Monday into whether or not the American people think they are doing a good enough job, and what, if anything, they should do differently.

"We cannot afford to make a wrong move as we face this crucial crossroads in our nation's history, which is why we need to know for sure what decision you'll support the most before we make it," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser Monday, scrutinizing the assembled crowd for signs of approval. "The question facing us today is simple: Do you like us? If not, why? We demand an answer."

Added Pelosi: "The time for second-guessing our every move is now."

If only it were so. The reality is that they don't give a hoot what we think: they know perfectly well they have a majority in Congress because the public is sick of the Iraq war, but they're quite determined to keep it going. The same could be said for any number of other "issues" -- single-payer health care, for example.

It's interesting that The Onion can't or won't see this. I've always had the feeling that there's something quite reactionary, quite devoted to obfuscatory cliche and conventional wisdom, about the humorist's profession.

They're like journalists that way.

April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut, RIP

My neighbor Kurt Vonnegut is dead at 84. Never a huge fan, but I was sorry to see him go. We're all indebted to him for the concept of the granfalloon:
A granfalloon, in the fictional religion of Bokononism (invented by Kurt Vonnegut in his 1963 novel Cat's Cradle), is .... a group of people who outwardly choose or claim to have a shared identity or purpose, but whose mutual association is actually meaningless.... The most common granfalloons are associations and societies based on a shared but ultimately fabricated premise.... A more general and oft-cited quote defines a granfalloon as "a proud and meaningless association of human beings."
This Wikipedia item goes goes on to impart some information I hadn't known:
research ... found that strangers would form groups on the basis of completely inconsequential criteria, such as the flip of a coin. Subjects within such meaningless associations ... act towards other members as if they were kin or close friends. The granfalloon technique is a method of persuasion in which individuals are encouraged to identify with a particular granfalloon, such as a pressure group or political campaign, as a means of securing for that group the individual's loyalty and commitment through adoption of its symbols, rituals and beliefs.
Well, that explains Daily Kos.

April 13, 2007

We've let Hunter down

Hunter came at me last night again. It's been a while. I guess the last time was when he told me St Hill was "a stomped hen."

He appeared out of a pile of dry cleaning I'd thrown at the foot of my bed, and he was raging in that galooty BB-eyed way he has of late:

"Paine you filthy scut..." (Dublin stage accents filter thru his riffs these days -- I suspect just for show).

I wait till he stops kicking away my dirty business clothes from around him and resteadies himself -- his part of heaven has a 24/7 open bar policy, it seems.

"Paine --" there's a bold but flaccid hand extended into my face here "-- Paine, you must do something about this!"

"About what, HT?"

He looks hurt. "Why... why... isn't it obvious? What else but your, your... lack of readership!"

Indeed, very good point he has there. My posts are as stillborn these days as Mussolini's air corps.

"Here I have chosen you... you... a fat doughy obscure lazy parlor cushion -- I've chosen you, Paine, me, Hunter of Cold Stream Junction, the Jehovah of Gonzo, to be my medium... my carry-on guy... in a time when my memes are like the serum Seppla brought to Nome. And no one -- no one at all -- reads you! Paine, where are your oft fabled fastballs?"

He's looking very grievous, and there's all of a sudden this near killed bottle of what look like vintage port in his left mitt. He raises it before his eye like Yorick's skull. Perhaps I'm to think he's Hamlet talking to me -- his remember me, Horatio! Who the fuck knows. But anyway he falls silent as if entranced by the glint of the glass dagger -- or no, that's another play -- he's waving in front of him. Is he waiting on me? Must I answer him somehow?

I do, like I'm pissed off: "Hey, what can I tell ya, pal? I'm throwin' as hard as I ever did. The ball's just taking too much time getting to the plate. Besides... you picked me, asshole. I didn't pick you so iffeee you no likeeee the results... then get somebody else, for fuck's sake."

I might as well have shoved a spear in his side. "No no, pal, no, you get me wrong. I'm backin' you, backin' ya all the way to funkytown, baby. Sheeiiit ... I chose you because... because...."

All of a sudden under the impossibly intense strain of trying to justify his choice of moi, he starts stumbling on all fronts -- his body stumbles, his mind stumbles, my guess, even his soul is quaking, and don't he get himself completely twisting and turning sideways, and throwing his arms in the air like my carpet is quicksand. Finally he's down on the floor in a heap.

It's sad, of course, but I'm relieved. He's become just a silly ass after all -- and with the resources of the celestial hosts yet. Why should I care if I've let him down so horribly?

"Listen here, my good man. Surely you can hardly expect that spooking me like this is helping me can you, Hunter? How's this boozer's boogaloo getting me a larger viewership? Hows clowning about in my bedroom at 2:30 in the morning, waving a dead flagon of pirate pitch, helping? Just exactly what about this type of shameless self-indulgent sentimental exhibitionism of yours is going to get the hit meter at Father Smiff's to tick faster?"

He rises slowly and awkwardly back to his full height, and I must say he does it somehow with the silent undauntable dignity of a fallen giraffe. Then he glares at the port in his hand. "That prick claimed I'd like this particular bottle of crap," he belches in disgust. "I don't. It's loud, it's too thick, and it's overly pushy, and I shan't have it ever ever again!" With that he raises his right arm straight up as if pledging to Bacchus or whoever is in charge of that stuff, and with his other hand throws the dirty bottle at my window, where it flashes red and is gone without a single fracture of anything real. And then, just as quickly, he himself is dissolving back down into my blue pinstriped suit he'd just a moment before been wiggling his huge hillbilly bare feet upon, and then he's as gone as any gone geist can be gone -- leaving me alone with my own large and self-pitying thoughts of futility.

April 14, 2007

Theory of Empire 102

If this requisition grapple is really a covert conspiracy between the leaders of both parties to keep our home town empire's nice little storm troopers in Arab Iraq indefinitely -- then why in hell are the same duops still scrappin' so over it?

My quick answer: both parties want to lay as much of the blame as they can for this debacle on the asshole "other" party. It's good politics: the Repugs need to build a backstab in here some way or other, just as much as the Dems need to tie a bloody ribbon around the old elephant's trunk. And it's also damn fine political theatre too -- a tea-for-two showdown stretched out over the next 12 months, or so I'd reckon, while backstage the bigs from across the top arch of corporate America's establishment try to rescue the empire's chestnuts.

I take it the thinking goes like this: both parties' leading "minds" now accept the shared conclusion that the occ is a five alarm failure beyond any possible redemption. Our ground forces are so flat-out fuckled we couldn't threaten to pull off another topple and occ anywhere east of Bermuda.

But the empire, just like back in 'Nam circa '69, really can't cut and run. So this is now Decent Interval, Part Deux. Let's consider some elementary bipartisan empire-builder facts. Yes, it was pure fool krieging by the White House's wall to wall oil jacks and their sidekick Zionians to go in there in the first place. Hell, the Clinton regime's hard guys had kicked Saddam in the nuts so many times he thought he was Lucille Ball. It was completely unnecessary, and Cheney did it just 'cause he could. And yes, nobody but someone deep in the oil game, or so Zionian their mother has disowned them, would repeat this escapade if the goddess Clio gave Uncle a mulligan.

And yes, our kids are walking about out there catching a serious whatfor from a wolf-pack's worth of theocon zombies and bloody-eyed "native sons"; and yes, the blood and treasure spill is for no intrinsic reason or likely positive prospect -- no recompense, no solace, no soap.

The global empire as a whole took a zinger, and will keep on taking a zinger so long as "we" referee that civil war. But "we" must continue despite all that: because global empires -- at least global empires that want to stay global empires -- don't ever ever cut and run. They can't. Global empires must keep right on grinding, keep right on killing, keep right on looting and savaging, past rational purpose and all the way to full-moon crazy, 'cause global empires gotta "retain authority". Global empires, every time the occasion arises, must make "the other" very very sorry they fought back, even if the bastards had no choice.

Global empires make you sorry you couldn't throw flowers and candy canes, sorry you can't just lie down and give the trans-national corporations anything they fucking want that's yours. Global empires, before they leave make the native cost so high you end up sorry you won -- sorry you didn't surrender.

Oh, you're not sorry to see Uncle's legion of armed condors flocking off to some other elsewhere -- but you're nearly always already willing to invite back in the transnational corporations. That's the point. The American global empire is into that sand trap like a second Macbeth -- no, maybe even further into it than Macbeth got before his doubts and shame -- but for the American empire, like for Macbeth, it's better to press on than to go back; better to keep on killing for its own sake, than to try to remake the Clinton pax that not 9/11, but this Bush blitz through the desert, busted up.

So we will press on ahead -- to where? To what end? To exhaustion -- to a point where the Empire's enemies realize Uncle ain't leaving the area in any way shape form or fashion, no matter what they do. Uncle's gotta prove, in dead bodies on both sides, that he's up to what it takes to maintain a long term presence right there smack-dab in the middle of the Middle East.

Nope, ragheads, we ain't leaving. And this means Iraq is not 'Nam II. It's way worse. We gotta find a way to stay at the table, keep bases in the zone of conflict, keep the Farsi turbans contained, keep Russia and China back on their heels.

Redeploy? Some, but not entirely. The old two-K solution -- redeploy to Kuwait and Kurdistan -- is no longer an option, as my Foggy Bottom source, Mr Y, claims. He says that simple move is not enough -- not with Turkey, Syria, and Iran emboldened like a bunch of Friday night pimps. 'Cause both Uncle and his mini-me, the "realm" of Israel, both shit the bed in full armor. So now the local folks over there figure it's Miller time -- time they pushed for more.

Suffice it to repeat the obvious: the globe's sole empire is scrambling, and its two-headed party animal has to tapdance while a redeal can be forced on the other players -- a redeal where the empire retains maximum possible reach, and the largest pile of chips, and the right to deal off the bottom of the deck.

Handicapping the news

Mike Flugennock writes:

... [M]y apologies to all on Stop Me for totally missing the call on Don Imus in my personal Guess Which Irrelevant, Total-Waste-Of-Time Story Will Lead Off Tomorrow's "Today Show" Or Otherwise Totally Monopolize The Media Game. Normally, I see a Don Imus In Trouble Again report towards the bottom of the fourth column on Drudge and my reaction is "huh, so what, Don Imus is in trouble again; so, tell us some goddamn' news, already" and promptly move on to the next item. Obviously, this has led to disastrous consequences for all of us as the Imus "story" has pretty much obliterated the news of mass demonstrations of Iraqis calling for the US Empire to leave, a bombing of a major Baghdad bridge and of the Green Zone, a spike in US casualties in Iraq, and the continuing shuddering, groaning collapse of the American Dream, viz. losing the house you couldn't nearly afford but took out a skanky mortgage to buy anyway because you believed all the marketing hype about how you really are entitled to it.

That said, it's Slogging Through The Shit So You Don't Have To Time, and straight offa' the Drudge Report, here's my quick Top Five picks on what I think will lead off the Today Show either tomorrow morning or whenever it is that the goddamn' standard-issue Don Imus Is In Trouble Story Which Somehow Became This Year's Terry Schiavo Circus finally subsides:

5. All-Female Conception, http://news.independent.co.uk/world/science_technology/article2444462.ece This should tie in nicely with the Today Show's extensive coverage last year of the "girl crush" social trend phenomenon. A friend's wife, in fact, has said she wants to have Uma Thurman's baby (speaking of girl crushes). The Democratic Party angle, of course, is that it involves stem cells, and we all know these days how the Donkeycrats can be depended on for that good old stem-cell solidarity; hell, anyone who still thinks there's no difference has only to remember Senator "Lurch" Kerry's outspoken position on stem cells which he phoned in back in '04.

4. Prosecutors See Scary Rise In Child Attacks On Parents, http://chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/4711186.html I'd go with this one for no other reason than the sheer man-bites-dog sensationalism of it. Can't really say much else as it's a new story, at least to me. But, man, oh, man, has it got the Top Ten Minutes Of The Today Show written all over it. Not sure if it'd have the staying power of an Anna Nicole Smith, a Natalee Holloway, a Don Imus. This might be more in the Insane Lovesick Astronaut class.

3. Paul Wolfowitz Romantic Scandal, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/ee84cc80-e91e-11db-a162-000b5df10621.html Ordinarily, the Today Show wouldn't bother with something as mundane as the ruinous policies of the World Bank and IMF which keep millions poor, but there's sex involved in this one -- namely, that Wolfowitz (what is it with these WB presidents' names, anyway? Wolfensohn, Wolfowitz...) tried to get a WB staffer who was his girlfriend/mistress/paramour -- I don't know what you'd call her when you're hooking up at that level in Washington -- a much bigger pay raise than normal, and was caught. I guess the real news here is that he actually said "I made a mistake", and not "Mistakes were made". Hell, I'd go with this for no other reason than the fact that some gal was actually allowing herself to be nailed by Old Lick'n'Slick.

2. Elementary School Teacher Caught Having Sex With Principal On Video, http://cbs2chicago.com/topstories/local_story_103092655.html Talk about something that's been reported so often lately that it's not even news anymore. This one's got everything the Today Show loves these days -- sex in school, and hidden-camera tape (anyone else notice these days that at least half the stories on the Today Shows headline segments feature sensational, violent, horrific footage captured by surveillance cameras?), and for this I have it narrowly edging out the World Bank Honey Money story.

1. Madonna Denies Plans To Adopt Second Malawian Child, http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=070413120435.13hmlntu&show_article=1 Perhaps the runaway winner for no other reason than it, of course, involves a huge celebrity. The Today Show will for damn' sure be looking for a way to drag this out over three days' worth of ten-minute interview segments. The end.

Doing good, doing well, or neither

J Alva Scruggs writes:

http://www.businessweek.com/print/innovate/content/apr2007/id20070413_466303.htm

I've come across the "New Progressive Coalition" several times, most notably at the eleemosynary blogs where I sometimes hang out. It's very much a business, as the proprietary ROI tool suggests, and the pitch they use on their website is semantically hollow. The basic premise is that political donors just don't know where to put their money to get maximum bang for the buck. It's like MoveOn on steroids, with the same origin -- Silocon Valley. I doubt they'll do very well. MoveOn is set up to harvest the discontent of people like the Kosniki, who have a few hundreds at most to give. That market is tapped out. The major donors already know where to go to buy their indulgences.

In the past, I've listed organizations that progressives could support without worrying about being "too radical". They're all fairly well known and might be able to do quite a bit of good if they weren't starved for cash and personnel. It's simply shocking to me that the ACLU, for example, only has about three hundred thousand donor/members. It's a stalwart of American liberalism. Some of the hundreds of the millions frittered away by beautiful loser Democrats would do more in their hands, assuming the goal is anything remotely progressive.

I think what the New Progressive Coalition at least nominally intends to do is elect more Democrats -- the trickle down theory of progressivism, with the fatuous metrics of campaign consultants.

April 19, 2007

Brass hats and silk hats

Cruising Counterpunch as I'm wont to do, I discover this detailed fact- and figure-bristling update on Ike's military-industrial complex (MIC), all nice enough and very much what one likes to find at the PUNCH, till deeep into the flower bed this bud roused my neck hairs:

http://counterpunch.com/hossein04162007.html

Preservation, justification, and expansion of the military-industrial colossus, especially of the armaments industry and other Pentagon contractors, have become critical big business objectives in themselves....

Ya ya ya, we got that fact pretty well clenched between our teeth by now. But then comes this stinker, this extra goosing of we the weebles -- a goose too far, I say: the post claims this bunch of buckos we got today is a new mutation of the old MIC:
.... a new, parasitic U.S. military imperialism .... parasitic because its military adventures abroad are often prompted not so much by a desire to expand the empire's wealth beyond the existing levels as did the imperial powers of the past but by a desire to appropriate the lion's share of the existing wealth and treasure for the military establishment, especially for the war-profiteering contractors.
The fog alert goes off here. Indeed, indeed, the golem Pentagon is running wild these days, and like rape follows ravish, our war profiteering transnational corporations are getting bigger and bigger where it really counts, in their profit crotch. And yes, bulging bottom-line privates look swell to the stock mongers and other sterile whores of Wall Street. And so doubtless, as with most such profit spouts, it'll spiral and keep on spiralling .... for a while. Keep on getting bigger, and since bigger only begets the urge for bigger still.... a bubble rises ....till it pops.

But this ain't no bubble, says our man: its a flesh-eating parasite, a newborn menace, an Ebola of capitalism, an armed insatiable parasite corporate armada on the loose, able now to grab and gobble the world wide wealth of the host complex of complexes, Corporate Globality, Inc.

I don't think so, mate. Makes me recall the same line trotted out to agitate the peaceful Eloi, back in the cold war days, about the nuke complex spiraling in a potlatch of unreason toward Armageddon. We got just the same line here. Didn't make sense then, don't make no sense now, even for capitalism on the booze. This terror terminator complex is an expedient, a contrivance, a slave that might like to devour its master but won't, and can't. Exhibit A: wheres the nuke race now? No it was not a tumor, a cancerous renegade. The nuke race cost Uncle's credit card 3 trillion 2006 dollars, but it served its purpose more or less -- and this current GWOT will serve its purpose too. More or less. if and when it finally don't -- give or take some learning curve and inertia -- the terror terminator complex will go the way of the nuke complex. So why bother to point this out? Because there is no nice imperialism -- no nice transnational corporate system the can be surgically separated from its dirty nasty brother. If nothing else can be learned from the Clintox years, surely its Woodstock imperialism at least should have cured us progs of that lambs-and-wolves fantasy. The clinton pax -- Kosovo a go-go -- thats what the other side of the transnational corporate moon always and inevitably looks like.

So keep on howlin', babe. Keep on hackin' at the five-sided dollar spill. But don't imagine a chastened hord of silk hats might some day descend on the Pentagon pirate fleet and burn it to floating bark. There will be no restoration, no new regime of decent, civil, human, touch-football empiring. That particular holy grail never existed outside St Woodrow's toilet bowl.

April 24, 2007

Clio dominatrix, catenis flagellisque induta

Ever notice how history loves a good bloodbath?

Sounds a little like a teaser from that timeless, I-like-Ike 1950's toad, Andy Rooney -- but I don't suppose he could ever quite say that. I like it plenty, anyway.

The pending bloodbath in Iraq comes to mind. Could we have toppled Saddam and kept a bloodbath off the agenda? I doubt it; it took a bloodbath for us to install him, after all, and we had him on what you might call bloodbath retainer during the Iran-Iraq unpleasantness a few years back.

Clio is a harsh mistress for us humans to live under -- though we gave her birth. She sees to it, somehow, that the criminals always get to send the innocent the bill for their crimes.

April 26, 2007

Democrats: The new Republicans; or, It's our turn

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0407/3419.html
Dems Swamp GOP in Money Chase

In the much-watched first quarter of presidential fundraising, the Democratic candidates raised more than twice as much as their Republican counterparts.... the combined Democratic field raised about $80 million, compared with roughly $40 million collected by their GOP adversaries.

In 1999, the last presidential race without an incumbent in the race, Republicans raised $33 million in the first quarter, compared with $13 million by the Democrats, according to the Campaign Finance Institute. The disparity was also evident in 1988, when the Republican field reported $19 million in first-quarter fundraising, compared with $3 million by the Democrats.

Looks like the money guys -- and gals, of course -- are placing their bets on red rather than black, odd rather than even. The A-team brand needs a little R&R; it's been over-sold. Bring on the B-team!

Make hay while the sun shines, B-teamers. It doesn't take people that long to forget. You might get four years, and if you're really, really, exceptionally lucky, another four on top of that -- like the Edenic Clinton era. Find a guy, or gal, sufficiently cold and controlled and inhuman that a zaftig intern in a thong won't appeal to him or her, and you're golden.

I daresay either Hillary or Barack would fill the bill. In fact I think they're the same person. You never see 'em together, do you?

April 29, 2007

Where your treasury is, there will your heart be also

I bet some of us like the writings of Joe Bageant. His embrace of trash Whitey oughta make him my kinda good people.

Well, not so fast -- yesterday I read a piece of his over at Counterpunch and it gave me troubles, troubles his bold roosterin' has caused before:

http://counterpunch.com/bageant04282007.html

Despite agreeing with 97% of his rant, I've been troubled by him, and I haven't been able to get my arms around why, except that it's all contained in just this one line, right up there in the very first paragraph. The fucker just pissed me off so much, I couldn't enjoy the rest of the hayride:

The financial mobsters will still continue tunneling their way under the national treasury.
Seems innocently fierce enough, doesn't it? So whats your beef, you fuckin' painiac? Ole Joe's just doin a bit of nude streakin' here, right? Harmless and playful in itself, so why bat an eye, even? Because it contains such a heavily layered, utterly wrongheaded, payload of smug ignorance, that's why!

This commonplace, worthy of, say, the late Molly Ivins, this second-nature sourced flourish, set my ticker off, because it's crap and misdirection and and and ...

Let this be a lesson to us all about our own deeply self-assured ignorance, ignorance that is too dangerous to let fly past, no matter who's displayng it.

Am I just being my usual pedantic cuff to point out that the "national treasury" is the creation of these financial mobsters? Far from having to steal it, it's already theirs, and always was. Borrowing to pay for foreign crusades is better for them than taxing themselves to pay for it. But even deeper, a national treasury is itself a socially constructed chimaera. There's nothing there to rob but paper. And if, as I reckon, ole Joe's worried about eating seed corn and the like -- well then he's just as ignorant as Jethro's goat.

If we have a huge "problem" here in America, the promisers' nightmare, it's not the treasury bonds Uncle issues in the trillions each year, but the dollar he manages to keep sky high in spite of that borrowing.

Now I suspect a statement more or less along those lines would prolly cause our Smokey Mountain oyster brain here to go, "say whaaaaaat? The dollar is a-plungin', ain't it?"

Nope, noodlehead, not against what it oughta drop with respect to all our emerging states' trading partners' currencies.

I could go on from one link in the chain of knownothing leftitude to the next, and prolly end up attacking the modern family and the climate change mantra. Sorry, gang, sorry I'm so, errr, bilious, but it can sometimes get to being a tough thing walkin' around so simply and completely enlightened in such a desperately blacked-out world.

May 25, 2007

Dissolve the people and elect a new one

David Sirota is really, really mad at the Democrats' Iraq war sellout: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-sirota/we-gave-them-our-hearts-_b_49308.html
We Gave Them Our Hearts, They Gave Him A Blank Check

It is a dark day in our nation's history. That sounds melodramatic - but it is true. Today America watched a Democratic Party kick them square in the teeth - all in order to continue the most unpopular war in a generation at the request of the most unpopular president in a generation....

... and on and on in this same vein -- Dog bites man! Oh, the humanity!

David is, however, careful to establish his own respectability:

I'm not a purist nor am I a "pox on both their houses" kind of guy. I have worked to elect Democratic politicians and I supported Democratic leaders when they pushed an Iraq funding bill that included binding language to end the war.
It's a strange spectacle. Here's David's indigantion revved up into the red zone, but the transmission is in neutral and as far as I can tell, David is going nowhere. When will he put the vehicle in gear, I wonder?

The best part of this HuffPo post was one of the comments, which I give in its entirety:

The Democrats' behavior all goes back to Connecticut, Nov. 2006. Had the voters of Connecticut tossed sorry ass, war tool Lieberman, we wouldn't be having this discussion. Unfortunately, the lesson learned was that the war is not a decisive issue against an incumbent in a Democractic leaning state. Therefore, Democrats aren't afraid to screw their base. They are safe to obey the moneyed interests. The supposed Democratic voters of Connecticut who supported Lieberman are responsible for this continuation of the war. They had a real chance to change the world for the better. They blew it.

By: BillZBubb on May 25, 2007 at 12:43am

Harvard's responsible! Yale's responsible! Connecticut is responsible!

June 11, 2007

Raised pinky meets brass knuckles

It hadda happen: Leon Wieseltier, of The Bananas Republic, has given us a whole morning's worth of thumbsucking about The Sopranos:

http://www.tnr.com/user/nregi.mhtml?i=20070618&s=diarist061807

Addio

REALLY, THE MOST that can be said of a great film is not that it is like a great book. Film is its own literature; and whereas I understand the comparisons of The Sopranos to the masterpieces of the realist novel, and I myself have not been immune to the hyperbolic impulse in praising this magnificent enterprise, it strikes me that the achievement of The Sopranos is not so much that it puts you in mind of Balzac or Dickens, but that here on television, for most of a decade, were tales that could stand in the company of Fassbinder, and Kieslowski, and Mike Leigh, and Chabrol.

The subtle ramifications of plot and character; the absence of vulgarity (I mean vulgarity in the bad sense) from this painstaking investigation of the most vulgar people on earth; the close braiding of comedy and tragedy, so that neither optimism nor pessimism is ever the last word; the unrelenting maturity of attention that it demands of its viewers: the thing is so good it is almost not American.

The Sopranos stands as a lasting chastisement of its medium, in that it accomplishes what American television most abhors: an improvement, by means of art, of the American sense of reality.

If there were a Nobel Prize for bombast, this guy would win it, hands down. He "has not been immune to the hyperbolic impulse?" We've all noticed that, Leon.

Reading a Wieseltier essay is a bit like digging a trench in really wet, clayey, gluey soil. I don't know if it's quite such good exercise, or so morally uplifting, but it does give you plenty of time for thought, as you turn over spadeful after backbreaking spadeful of leaden verbiage.

I particularly loved the bit about "improving the American sense of reality," considering that Leon writes for a publication which has shown an almost heroic determination to keep reality "far away from us," to borrow a line from Fiddler On The Roof.

There is of course a point of resemblance between the New Republic and the Soprano family: they're both gangs of thugs. There, however, the resemblance ends. The Sopranos are funny, and entertaining, and even oddly likable, none of which can be said for The New Republic. And the Sopranos are a lot tougher. How I would love to see Marty and Leon saunter into the Bada Bing Lounge and start laying down the law. Intellectual mafia meets the real thing -- and wouldn't fare any better than intellectual aristocracy in the analogous predicament.

June 24, 2007

Obiter inventum

Owen gives me a hard time about liking lbo-talk, but every so often there's a gem:
Several posts have distinguished between the [Democratic Party] leadership and its hypothetical base, without really specifying what the latter consists of. The implication is that the "base" of the DP is a mass base, that is, that it consists of the people whose interests the DP serves or pretends to serve -- labor, minorities, women, etc. But this is to confuse the DP with the traditional Social-Democratic parties of Europe, operating within parliamentary regimes.

Neither the DP nor the RP has a base in that sense nor has either ever had one. The only base either party has is made up of local party organizations. Local elected officials (e.g., the Daley machine in Chicago). Local and State labor bureaucrats. Local NOW or NAACP chapters. A few small businessmen (even in areas controlled by the opposing party), etc. The political principles of these local organizations are for the most part whatever principles will maintain the organization in existence. In scattered cases that means principles which would appeal to leftists, but with almost no exceptions, these particular local organizations are practical leftists, that is they will go through all the motions of pushing their politics, but in the last instance will always join in the unanimous nomination of the winner at the Convention and campaign for him or her.

References to the DP's base on this list confuse the base of the party with the large masses of "abstract -- isolated -- individuals" who can be shuffled to the polls by these organizations or can be corraled by TV ads. But these voters are no part at all of The Party -- either its base or its leadership. And they cannot be reached by working "inside" the DP because that is not where they are, except for 5 minutes every 4 years (for some of them every 2 years).

The last place on earth to go looking for DP voters is inside the DP. I agree, of course, that when a left appears in this country, it will consist mostly of DP voters. But as long as the Myth of the DP survives, leftists won't put their brains to work figuring out how to 'get' these voters for left causes.

June 29, 2007

Two cheers for Ann Coulter

pic of Ann Coulter

pic of John Edwards

Oh the outraged propriety!

http://abcnews.go.com/WN/Story?id=3323952&page=1

[P]residential candidate John Edwards told ABC News he was "very proud" of his wife, Elizabeth, for confronting conservative provocateur Ann Coulter the day before for her comments.... "I think she was making it clear that we can't continue to tolerate this kind of name-calling and hate-mongering," Edwards said. "We have to elevate the discussion...."

"These personal attacks, that the things she has said over the years not just about John but about other candidates, it lowers our political dialogue precisely at the time that we need to raise it," said [Elizabeth] Edwards. "So I want to use the opportunity to ask her politely stop the personal attacks."

I'm with Coulter on this one. I think we need to lower the tone, not raise it. No wonder people hate the Democrats -- the party of Good Manners and Elevated Diction. Bleccchh!

July 4, 2007

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 10, 2007

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:

http://www1.cuny.edu/forum/?p=1582

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 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?

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):

http://www.miamiherald.com/692/story/172918.html

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

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 26, 2007

Change of pace

Reader responds, just in:
Michael,

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

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.

August 2, 2007

Soldier porn

I got some flak a few days ago for dissing the late Pat Tillman. In fact, now that I've actually done a little reading on the subject, he appears to have been a more complicated case than I realized.

What set me off, I think, was dribble like the following -- especially the crudely montaged soft-core image that accompanies it:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/7/27/82034/6929

heroism (36+ / 0-)

I don't know Mary Tillman but for some reason she has captivated my attention since her son signed up. Her eyes - same as her son's eyes - have an intensity.... she's got the fire in her belly. Having a beautiful son killed will do that to a person, I guess....

by kck on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 07:22:22 AM PDT

. . .

I'll second kck (8+ / 0-)

Yes, please let Pat's mom know that there are patriots out there who admire her immensely. I just read in this diary for the first time that she's a teacher, so now I get why Pat was so well read. He was a real man and a patriot....

Clark '08

by DrReason on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 11:21:53 AM PDT

. . .

Just Imagine If (2+ / 0-)

an anti-Iraq War, NFL Star, Al-Qaeda hunting, Chomsky-reading, opinionated modern real-life super-hero ran for congress as a democrat.

by BlueGenes on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 12:36:35 PM PDT

The Kosnik who contributed the last little ejaculation above gives the game away, I think, as far as the pwoggie version of the Tillman cult is concerned. Liberal soldier-worship is such a creepy subject that I feel a certain squeamishness even thinking about it -- but it really does get to the heart of what's the matter with these people.

The Democrat -- at least the Kosnik variety of liberal Democrat -- is a person completely credulous of common wisdom, conventional ideas, and the verities of the high-school civics classroom. Yet he also feels that's he's made of finer metal than the average bear. His moral sense is keener, his heart kinder, his intellect more penetrating. This Pharisaical sense of apartness from the common herd is what makes him a liberal. It is a source of pride to him, and yet, at the same time, a burden. There is something within him that wants to lay the burden down and become one again with the mass. He feels distinguished by his high-minded yes-buttery, and yet shivers in the chilly winds of exile; he craves the heavy moist breath of the herd, and hungers for the warmth of his fellow-critters' huddled flanks.

The poor soul is like some unstable chemical mixture, always ready to decompose into something less complex, and emit a fetid burp of methane in the process. Give him a suitably ginned-up humane opportunity to wrap himself with a clear conscience in the flag, or weep big fat bathetic tears over a dead soldier boy, or drool over a football players' iron thighs, and he'll make a revolting spectacle of himself every time.

* * *

The Tillman story, like a Rohrschach blot, is random enough that you can read into it whatever you like. That's what I was doing too, of course. The Kosnik sees in Tillman the pwoggie's version of the Hidden Imam, the Man On A Hummer who can lead America's liberals rejoicing into the promised land. I would rather see a gung-ho oaf so fond of attitudinizing and role-playing that he gave up a lucrative career and landed his ass in Afghanistan, and made himself so odious to his colleagues that one of 'em finally shot him.

Who knows, really. Tillman wanting to meet with Chomsky is certainly an interesting data point. But it's hard for me to imagine that somebody so addled he could sign up in the first place would ever have been a very valuable asset to our side.

Still, de mortuis nil nisi bonum and all that. Maybe I should stop being mean about the guy now.

August 6, 2007

Heartless sentimentalists: more on Moore

I love Michael Moore for many reasons, but... just saw Sicko a few days ago. It's now linked in my mind with the Pat Tillman cult. Father Smiff's terrible swift sword takes a big hunk out of Mikey, too, I fear.

Sure, you vanguard progs ho-hummed through his essay on comparative medical systems. But attend to this grave sin... slobbering over "our" carnal preterite.

Take that episode of the battered monstrosity cab ridden to the sidewalk shelter by medi giant Fuehrer-Imminente. Its creator must either have the stone heart of Todd Browning, or at least assume we common folks all do. Wilde's Little-Nell weepers of the world, unite!

Graphic grotesques as a way to reach an audience -- this rampant horror-sentimentality -- is a political obscenity. To use it like a sprinkle of sex scenes to goose up your "story line" -- Well, I'll say no more.

August 7, 2007

There is figures in all things

Mike Flugennock writes:
So, anyway, I see last week where Congress approves another million billion zillion dollars for President Chimp's War in Iraq. No surprises there. Then, this bridge collapses in Minnesota, to much wailing and voyeurism from the press, and the predictable calls for us to send our prayers to Minneapolis -- even though no prayer requests were forthcoming for the victims of similar bridge collapses caused by US bombing of Iraqi civilians.

Shortly afterwards though, Congress somehow manages to find another few hundred mil or so under their sofa cushions -- a huge-ass surprise, to see that anything was left after the million billion zillion they just poured into the friggin' war.

Then, this past weekend, as reported so gloriously on AP, President Chimp himself pays a visit to the collapse site and casts his own personal eyeballs on the scene, allows himself to be personally spoken to by a common, ordinary worker, makes a big fat promise about repair and restoration -- but, get this, he says "I make no promises on the timetable"; he never was much on timetables, was he -- has his picture taken in a hardhat surveying the devestation, gets back onto the helicopter, and flies home.

So, all this stuff starts crashing together in my head -- fat wads of cash pissed away on an illegal war, public works budgets going begging, bridges collapsing in the USA -- and then, while browsing the recent Pat Tillman thread at Stop Me, I come upon your poet "op", writing:

there's a continuum of these slobber fests

from the summit of the twin towers
to such over kills
as this bridge collapse in the twin cities
a nation turning its lonely bully boy
eyes to tears over that yesterday ....

ought to think

fuck we do twenty.... sometimes sixty
such deeds
to the iraqis
on any given day...
...at which point the conceptual collisions build to critical mass and, just as the pile detonates, my first thought out loud is, "whoa, payback's a bitch!"

Available in three bitchin' formats:

http://www.sinkers.org/posters/payback/payback.jpg
jpeg image, 604kb

http://www.sinkers.org/posters/payback/payback.pdf
pdf image, 520kb

http://www.sinkers.org/posters/payback/payback.eps
eps vector image, 8.2mb

"Bush Surveys Bridge, Pledge Aids", Associated Press 08.04.07:
http://apnews.myway.com/article/20070804/D8QQAIMO0.html

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