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April 2006 Archives

April 4, 2006

Back inside the box

Brit economixer Thomas Palley writes:
For the AFL-CIO the challenge is to break with the Democratic Party elite without splitting the party, as that could hand victory to Republicans, whose version of the box is even more extreme.
This "box" he's yapping about here, he says, comes in two degrees of evil: one donk and one worse: it's nothing less then our uncle Fed's policy regime vis-à-vis the globalized marketplace.

Now this is very odd talk indeed -- after the bit about "the challenge is to break with the Democratic Party elite" we get the old wheeze about the "even more extreme" Republicans.

What horrendous bull twitter. Speaking as an attack-trained economist, the coin's worth of difference here between Clintonia and Bushington, as far as labor is concerned, ain't even near worth George Wallace's 1968 Bretton Woods gold-standard dime.

April 8, 2006

Romantic comedy

Seems I can't get out of my own head the image of Orthrus' two heads kissing each other -- the party totems, kiss kiss kiss. Ohh those donkey lips -- ahh the elephant's trunk.

It's the real gimmick -- the ever-postponed Hollywood ending, consummated love between the leads at long long last....

But we all know this remains a never-to-be seen final shot, in a scene never to take place. We'll never see the two get it on inside a closing red-white-and-blue backgrounded heart. This obscene apache dance will forever stay at least two scenes from consummation. Thank God for conflict and complication, eh?

* *

The latest donk bray has been in the making since last fall, and now the hills are alive with it: "Come November, Congress is ours ..." or at least so sayeth the polls. And boy will we see a cleaning -- of both houses. Now it's to be mop the elephant plop. Dum Daddy Dum do-ed it.... so Dee Nanny Dee scoops it, enough to carry thru to the White House in '08.

But that's a few episodes away, not written yet, obviously. For now, it's just how do we define mommy-dearest style rectification -- put the coat hangers to the elephant's backside. "All this doodoo at home and abroad .... naughty, naughty!"

Wash off the blood before you touch the keys

That liberal but splendidly bipartisan newspaper, the New York Times, has a very long and remarkably fawning piece -- featured, at the moment I write this, at the very top of their Web site -- on Condoleezza Rice's fondness for chamber music. Apparently she is a very good pianist, who plays Brahms and Shostakovitch with a foursome of string-playing friends. It's always nice to see the human side of a prominent war criminal.

Condi has good things to say about Brahms -- "passionate without being sentimental" -- and even more to her credit, her piano is a nice mellow old Chickering, rather than what would be, in New York, the inevitable brazen-throated Steinway. To paraphrase Nabokov, you can always count on a murderer to have a sensitive ear.

But at least she plays, and apparently puts a lot of herself into it. Nixon used to play the piano -- though he couldn't read music and had to figure out everything by ear. Also, he could only play in the key of G; I don't know what to make of that.

Do any prominent Democrats do music? There's Clinton and his saxophone. Maybe that says it all.

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.

Roma locuta est

The French students and labor unions have apparently beat back the CPE law.

As if this weren't triumph enough, the French students have also received a supreme accolade on The Nation magazine's blog:

Before I left for Paris, I asked whether or not these students should be considered progressive, and I've made up my mind: of course they should.
The Nation's seal of approval must have relieved a lot of anxious minds in Paris. No doubt the corks are poppin'.

Kos, darling of the intellectuals

The sclerotic Old Modernists at the New York Review are really kicking up their heels these days. From the normally graceful pen of Bill McKibben, they ran a review of Sub-sub-subcomandante Kos' book Crashing The Gates (which should, of course, have been titled Hearing The Gates Slam Shut Behind You).

The review is adorned by a very odd cartoon of Kos himself as a whey-faced, snaggle-toothed mini-ogre, riding a creature with donkey's ears and an elephant's trunk. Apparently David Levine thinks politics ought to be about something more than heads or tails (or, for us Lefties, heads they win, tails you lose).

McKibben, however, treats Kos with great respect. Of Kos' sleepytime site, he remarks:

In my view, nothing more interesting has happened in American politics for many years.
... but unfortunately, he does not go on to add, as he should, that this undoubtedly true fact is the saddest possible reflection on the state of American politics.

I haven't read Kos' book, and won't until I see it on a remainder table, but McKibben quotes from it a bit. There's a little lame stab at oratory-porn in an account of a Howard Dean speech to a gathering of Party cultists:

The crowd, a few thousand of the party diehards, was getting a close look at the men seeking the Democratic nod, and not liking what it saw.

And then Howard Dean walked on stage.

"What I want to know is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting the President's unilateral intervention in Iraq?"

That brought loud cheers from the delegates.

"What I want to know is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting tax cuts which have bankrupted this country and given us the largest deficit in the history of the United States?"

Soon the crowd was chanting "Dean, Dean," and that was before he unleashed his signature line: "I want my country back! We want our country back! I'm tired of being divided! I don't want to listen to the fundamentalist preachers anymore! I want America to look like America, where we are all included....We have a dream. We can only reach the dream if we are all together— black and white, gay and straight, man and woman. America! The Democratic Party!"

I must say I like the line "I'm tired of being divided." I'd've thought that a person who was divided wouldn't have much time to get tired of it -- one thinks of drawing and quartering, a fate which, now that I reflect on it, doesn't seem completely inappropriate for a lot of Democrats, Dean very much included. But I digress.

Kos continues, per McKibben:

The crowd, they write, "was on its feet, the convention hall shaking from audience pandemonium, the speech serving as a liberation of sorts." Party activists "weren't alone in the fight. Not anymore. They had a champion and his name was Howard Dean. The call to arms by Dean was ideologically agnostic, purely partisan."
A liberation "of sorts," indeed -- a liberation into renewed servitude; Mckibben continues,
... most of [Dean's]supporters didn't desert the Democratic Party after his defeat. Instead, when the Dean campaign Web site went dark a great many shifted over to Daily Kos and they started to volunteer for John Kerry— not with the same affection they'd felt for Dean, but with much dedication. I spent the week before the general election in Columbus, Ohio, and virtually everyone I talked to who was out knocking on doors for Kerry had begun the year supporting either Dean or the other Internet favorite, General Wesley Clark.

And many of them didn't drop out when Kerry lost the election, either. Instead, they concentrated on Dean's race for chairman of the Democratic Party...

So let me get this straight: all these orgasmic peace-loving Deanites found themselves, as soon as the post-coital glow faded, led right back into the fold, working their ass off for a war president wannabe and a fanatically dedicated war party.

I'm sort of surprised that McKibben takes all this silliness so seriously. I have a feeling that maybe it's the techno-dazzle that's charmed him -- he's probably spent more time on the trail than surfing the Web. Otherwise, he would surely have noticed that Markos Moulitsas Zuniga is just Hubert Humphrey without the necktie.

Divided Sages, Part Deux

So -- just how big a deal is this Israel lobby, anyway? Here's Joseph Massad, with what is probably the majority Left view:

While many of the studies of the pro-Israel lobby are sound and full of awe-inspiring well- documented details about the formidable power commanded by groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) .... The arguments put forth by these studies would have been more convincing if the Israel lobby was forcing the United States government to pursue policies in the Middle East that are inconsistent with its global policies elsewhere. This, however, is far from what happens.... One could argue (and I have argued elsewhere) that it is in fact the very centrality of Israel to US strategy in the Middle East that accounts, in part, for the strength of the pro-Israel lobby and not the other way around.

Au contraire, says Michael Neumann:

America is a sap, a duped accomplice, not a co-conspirator. The enormous, ignored fact of the Palestinian story is that America is not, as the left so loves to think, pursuing some vital interest in its alliance with Israel. On the contrary, America is acting against its vital interests. And by America I don't just mean the wonderful, real-as-dirt Americans of Denzel Washington flicks. I also mean corporate America and the American government.

This used to be a conversation that you wouldn't hear in the "mainstream" of American political discourse, but come now Mearsheimer and Walt, presenting a view which is certainly quite novel for two such Establishment figures (Mearsheimer is a professor at that hotbed of radicalism, the University of Chicago, and Walt is the Dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard):

Why has the US been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state? ... The thrust of US policy in the [Middle East] derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the "Israel Lobby" .... Pressure from Israel and the Lobby was not the only factor behind the decision to attack Iraq in March 2003, but it was critical. Some Americans believe that this was a war for oil, but there is hardly any direct evidence to support this claim. Instead, the war was motivated in good part by a desire to make Israel more secure.

And in response to them, the biggest of big guns, Noam Chomsky:

[Mearsheimer and Walt] make as good a case as one can, I suppose, for the power of the Lobby, but I don't think it provides any reason to modify what has always seemed to me a more plausible interpretation.... For whom has [US] policy been a failure for the past 60 years? The energy corporations? Hardly. They have made "profits beyond the dreams of avarice" .... and still do, and the ME is their leading cash cow. Has it been a failure for US grand strategy based on control of what the State Department described 60 years ago as the "stupendous source of strategic power" of ME oil and the immense wealth from this unparalleled "material prize"? Hardly. The US has substantially maintained control -- and the significant reverses, such as the overthrow of the Shah, were not the result of the initiatives of the Lobby.

What's a poor Lefty to do, when his rabbis disagree like this? Read on.

Continue reading "Divided Sages, Part Deux" »

April 11, 2006


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."

Paging Mr. Burr

Speaking of Bobby Rubin -- seems the polished Big Appler is now the proud figurehead and unclouded champion of a think nook calling itself the Hamilton Project.

Pretty wonderful, huh? Since that sad day in Weehawken that name has stood for everything brightly hideous, well-heeled, and smoothly crooked in our country. Now donk bond wizard "Princeton Bob" Rubin has it over the door of his meme shop.

Marvel of marvels -- truth in labeling, for once. If my stomach can stand it I will soon have more tales to tell about this house of horrors.

The stars come out -- and go back in

Tim D passed along an item from the UK Guardian:
With its liberal politics and radical attitudes, Hollywood should be one place in America where Hillary Clinton can count on fervent and loyal support.

But as the former First Lady gears up for a run at the White House her nascent campaign has hit an unexpected roadblock. A lengthening list of top Hollywood celebrities have publicly criticised her ambitions. From George Clooney to Sharon Stone to Susan Sarandon, the Beverly Hills set has turned on Clinton.

Radical attitudes? What country are these Brits from, anyway? But still, this sounds like awfully good news, doesn't it? Everybody has heard the old expression -- "ignorant as an actor" -- and if these celluloid megaliths are starting to turn on Hillary, then surely, you'd think, everybody must have seen through her?

Our man continues:

Many experts now believe Clinton is likely to face a challenge from an anti-war candidate in the Democratic primaries. That is most likely to be the liberal Wisconsin senator Russ Feingold, who has a cult following among internet-based activists of the kind who propelled the brief but spectacular surge by Howard Dean in 2004.
Ahh yes, those terrifying primaries. Hillary must be quaking in her Prada boots. But even a Brit can see the bottom line, all the way across the Atlantic:
...experts believe the liberals - including the sniping Hollywood stars - will eventually get behind her. 'Who else will these people vote for?' asked [Professor Shaun Bowler, a political scientist at the University of California]. 'In the end their anger at Bush and their anger at Republicans is going to be far greater than any dissatisfaction with Hillary Clinton.'
Trust a guy with a little distance to put it in a nutshell. There you have the whole ratchet effect in one short paragraph: the fact that Hillary can count on the liberals' votes at crunch time, in the general election, no matter how much she sickens them, is the very thing that enables her to do her dirty work. Hollywood will piss and moan and make grand defiant gestures at primary time for some beautiful loser like Feingold -- and then help put her in the White House, or try to, come November. We've said it before here, but I guess we need to keep saying it -- these lesser-evil votes and efforts are not only wasted, they are the gasoline in the triangulationists' tank. And Hillary will get her Hummer's tank topped off by Hollywood, and Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, and probably by The Nation, for that matter, when it counts.

April 12, 2006

Trickle down

Today's Boston Globe reports that Massachusetts prog donk reps can't use all their donor money. So, what else, they give it to Lex Luthor himself, Rahm Emanuel, the mad imam, to spread among his acolytes, the fabled corps of Army mules and mommy-dearests.
Representative Edward Markey... dean of the Massachusetts delegation, contributed the most -- $152,000 -- to the [Emanuel's Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee], while 13-term Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Newton, was close behind with a $150,000 donation."
So... scratch a Democratic "progressive" and you find... a Democrat.

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

The Devil makes 'em do it

"Look, the GOP needs to drum up a war to survive this fall."

That's from a blogation outfit called "the left coast".

The line here quite obviously pursues the usual course of least mental resistence. The blog perp goes on to suggest the Bush brigades' massive Iraq threat hype back in the spring-summer-early fall of '02 -- i.e. prior to the first midterm election -- "jammed " the leading donks into backing the topple caper.

Makes sense if you figure the GOP master minds not only wanted to "do" the topple on its own merits, but also had the spineless donks well scoped out -- and if you assume that the donks actually needed any jamming. Anyway, our leftcoaster draws a parallel to now -- and ain't he or she right about the visible facts, anyway -- the hee haw chorus line once again is dancing its classic fake, fiddle and feint routine.

So let's say a war is on the docket. And again, the donks are moving it right along -- either because they've been fecklessly "jammed," or because they're signed up without having to be jammed. Either way they're doing their bit for the war effort, led by the muppet prince side saddle Joe and the heinous Hill.

Comrade Leftcoaster is trying to answer a question that runs like this: why in Hell hasn't the bulk of congressional donkeydom wised up? Why aren't they raging in bloodshot fury? Why are they not throwing republicans into the mouth of a volcano?

Leftcoast needs to understand it's all just a fine fiction really -- only fun if you let yourself go, suspend disbelief and let yourself be taken in by it all. Forget for the moment its all just Orthronics out there. Play along. Pretend to share the feelings of the average old gull -- like you're part of one of those iconic 50's wrestling crowds, and you just shout yourself hoarse trying to warn our baby-faced hero, as once again and for the umpteenth time, he's about to get bashed over the head from behind with a folding chair by the designated villain, while he good-naturedly helps an old lady to her seat.

O candid reader...

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Wunderkind, or dunderhead?

As a mastermind, Rahm's at best a B student, at least according to an article in the Washpost today. Seems Rahm's quarterbacking of the House takeback hasn't impressed the pros.

He's missed placing a strong candidate in some promising districts and some of his hand-picked candidates just plain miss. So despite an opposition looking like a late-round loser -- what with a rubber-legged White House wandering in circles, and managing to act both punch-drunk and punched-out all at the same time -- and more to the point, an elephant House team with more members earmarked for the felons-fiends-and-fools department then either party has fielded down there since Little Big Horn -- despite that, the Washpost would like us to believe the experts still rate the donks' House takeover odds at slightly south of 50/50.

What makes me think this is planted donkey hype -- lower expectations, keep it looking like a squeeeker -- a strategem to keep the electorate in line? A walkover mentality would breed actual thought, actual what-is-to-be-done type thought. Better it appear a very tight horse race between spinners and poll vaulters -- inside players -- a cramped piece of chamber music, not the bold expectation-raising opening chords of a nation rising in righteous anger.

April 14, 2006

So near, and yet... not so near

Responding to our appeal for material, Tim D has passed along this marvel:
Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson is actively seeking to break away from the Democrats and support an independent candidate in future elections.

"It's time to think about an independent candidacy," he told an editorial meeting at the New York-based Nation. "The present arrangement is not working."

So why is my heart not leaping within me? Is this not what I've been wanting for... oh, decades now?

I think the problem is Jesse Jackson. Somehow I find it difficult to imagine the Great Apologizer really breaking ranks and doing anything interesting. No, I fear that the Rev. is indulging in what we used to call, on the South Side of Chicago, "selling wolf tickets." He's blustering, scowling, uttering dark threats that he can't and won't back up, threats that he really doesn't expect anybody to take seriously -- but hey, you never know. There's no downside, and what the hell, something might shake loose -- a job for a crony, maybe, and at the very least, a little ink for an old palooka who once upon a time coulda been a contender.

Deserting a sinking ship

J. Alva Scruggs passed this along:
You might be able to do something with this Newsday story. It features St. Hillary and one Suri Harris who, unless there are lots of Suri Harrises in NYC, was a Bush donor in the last election.
Kind of says it all, really. I assume this Suri Harris is the same Suri who is an executive at the "medical advertising" firm of Lyons Lavey Nickel Swift. Her address of record is 252 Seventh Avenue, down in the 20s; there's an Alfred Schreiber with the same address. No idea whether that's our guy, or this tantalizing Schreiber:
"We've had a track record of success in bridging the gap between the military and business because we can bridge the information gap between the two worlds," says Alfred Schreiber, President and Co-founder of U.S. Alliance Group, formerly Director of Business Development for The Center for Military and Private Sector Initiatives. "We understand the language. We know that an 'Army 31W' is an expert in telecommunications switches and that a 'fire control technician' is really a telecommunications-network expert. We also know how to locate them. If a company needs 500 software designers or 800 fiber optic cable splicers, we can get them quickly and efficiently and efficiently. We have good working contacts at every military base in the world."

Earlier Schreiber was a senior executive at Young & Rubicam and True North, where he founded America's largest multicultural consulting and marketing group. His new book on how companies can meet the challenge of today's diversity business imperative will be published by NTC/Contemporary Press this year.

Schreiber points out that U.S. Alliance Group has "both the will and the way to provide strategic staffing solutions to corporate America."

Well, Hillary certainly qualifies as a "strategic staffing solution for corporate America," doesn't she?

There were giants in the earth

Let's take Jesse at his word, for the sake of argument -- let's believe he's about to lead "his people" out of the jackass corrral -- about to drop the hammer on Orthrus' backstabbing lesser-evil head.

This threatened rejection reminds me of the great WEB duBois who turned roundly on the party his people supported back in the early 1900's:

: The Negro race needs justice and is given charity, needs leadership and is given cowardice and apology.
Of course that was the GOP, the party of the Great Emancipator, that duBois was lambasting. Shortly thereafter, in the election of' '08, fed up with the then lesser-evil Repubs -- with tubby Taft temporizing, imploring the disenfranchised southern Blacks to seek the "friendship and sympathy" of the white men "with whom they live," since that is "the negro race's best hope" -- responding to this shit slide duBois blazed with a punishing fury, "I shall vote for Bryan" -- the black man's greater evil candidate, the very candidate of the Jim Crow South.

April 16, 2006

Old soldiers never die, and they never fade away either

J. ALva Scruggs writes:
Here's a serendipitous little juxtaposition.

Wesley Clark reports for duty (again) and thoughtfully takes a directorship, just in case duty doesn't work out so well.

Apparently they wheeled the Butcher of the Balkans out to promote their silly "Real Security" vaporware, discussed here a couple of weeks ago.

The news item refers to Clark's

... role alongside the Senate Democratic leader, Harry M. Reid of Nevada, and the House Democratic leader, Nancy P. Pelosi of California, in crafting the national security plank in which the party pledges to ''eliminate" Osama Bin Laden, better equip the US military, and ensure that 2006 ''is a year of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty."

Iraq was the most difficult point of agreement for party lawmakers. Over the past months, Clark spent hours on the phone and in meetings with lawmakers ranging from centrist to leftists. Last fall, he urged Representative John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania not to make his famed call for immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. And while Clark calls the Iraq war a ''strategic blunder," he continues to disagree with such lawmakers as Kerry who propose specific reductions of troops.

''No Democratic should put numbers" on an exit by American troops, he [said].

Did I dream it, or was this Jack Ketch in a brass hat once the darling of a coterie of self-described "progressives"?

My favorite quote from the "real security" brochure:

After September 11, all Americans trusted President Bush to take the steps necessary to keep our country safe.
All Americans, Wes? I think not. How weird that the Democrats think the way to get elected is by impersonating an imbecile.

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.


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.

Odds and sods

Turns out no place is quite Net-less. Alan Smithee sends this:

That bastion of journalistic integrity, The New York Post, made some surprising odds on St. Hill's run for the roses in '08:


April 6, 2006 -- SEN. Hillary Clinton is a 3:1 favorite to be the next president, according to our favorite oddsmaker, Danny Sheridan, followed by Sen. John McCain at 6:1, and Rudy Giuliani and George Allen at 7:1. Sheridan, who correctly predicted on Page Six in 1991 that underdog Bill Clinton would win, lists several reasons why Hillary could be the first woman president: "George Bush and the Republicans have blown it with Iraq and the economy. The thought of having Bill Clinton as her adviser is like having two good vice presidents (him and her running mate) . . . I'd respectfully suggest she name Bill as her v.p. running mate, which would make her a big favorite." Sheridan has John Edwards, Bill Richardson, and Evan Bayh at 20:1 each, Bill Frist at 25:1, and George Pataki, John Kerry and Jeb Bush at the longest odds of 30:1. Sheridan believes, "The only way for the Republicans to win in 2008 is with a McCain-Giuliani ticket."

Never mind that laying odds on an event that's two years in the future is a sucker bet.  What I want to know is: What kind of rosey-red crystal ball is this Sheridan fellow using?  Even the populist polling pundits over at PollingReport.com have Hillary losing to either McCain (50% - 39%) or Giuliani (51% - 39%).   Rassmussen has Hillary running neck and neck with Condi.  Given the demobots maintain their master strategy of running further and futher to the right, the only hope for the Donkey Party in '08, as seen from this early date, is for the Rethuglicans to run a far-right no-hoper like Frist or Allen.

I wonder if I can call up the Post and place a bet with this guy.

The Invisible Hand of Alan Smithee

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 20, 2006


Charlie Komanoff, an old comrade-in-arms of mine, calls our attention to a particularly unsavory example of self-serving backroom dealing by everybody's favorite scandalous old uncle, Ted Kennedy.

There's a proposal to build a windmill farm for electric power generation in Nantucket Sound -- a measure so obviously intelligent and environmentally sound that even the Green Party can't help supporting it.

Unfortunately, Nantucket Sound is a body of water almost entirely sourrounded by millionaires. Needless to say, these folks don't want their view of their neighbors' giant fume-spewing power yachts -- all that blue smoke, so pretty -- impaired by windmills. There is a fundamental leisure-class theorem which holds that anything utilitarian, however benign, must never be obtruded on a millionaire's notice; the aesthetic, by definition, must be pure consumption, and if it consumes large amounts of land or oil and generates abundant pollution, well, so much the better.

Among these wealthy Nantucket Sound consumer-aestheticians are the Kennedy family, and in particular, Uncle Ted and his somewhat rodentine nephew Robert Kennedy Jr. -- yes, the late McCarthy Bob's son. Bobby Jr. is a macher with the Natural Resources Defense Council, a prominent enviro group.

The Kennedys have been fighting this windmill project tooth and nail. Here's the latest:

A provision written specifically to stop the proposed Cape Wind project slated for offshore Nantucket Sound in Massachusetts was tucked into a bill that was voted out of committee on Thursday, April 6. No hearings had been held on the provision. The bill containing the provision still must be approved by the full House and Senate, which will be on spring recess over the next two weeks.

The action came when members of a House-Senate conference committee approved a final compromise version of an $8.7 billion Coast Guard authorization bill containing language allowing the Governor of Massachusetts the unrestricted power to veto the project. Current Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R) is on the record opposing the Cape Wind project.

Leading the effort to stop the Cape Wind project by adding the veto provision to the bill were Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (R) and Alaska Rep. Don Young (R), senior Congressional negotiators on the bill. In addition, "Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) spoke to Sen. Stevens in support of this provision," said Kennedy spokesperson Melissa Wagoner, who was quoted in an April 7 story by the Associated Press.

The Greens observe:
Among the wind farm's opponents are wealthy Cape Cod homeowners, including Mass. Sen. Ted Kennedy, his nephew Robert Kennedy, Jr., and the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, whose first president was CEO of Phelps-Dodge, a mining corporation that placed first on the EPA list of toxic emitters in Arizona and New Mexico. Other opponents include Senators John Warner and Lamar Alexander, whose families also own waterfront property on the Cape.
So we have Stevens, Young, Warner, Alexander, Romney -- all black-hats, of course -- and right there, cheek-to-cheek with them, Kennedy Maximus and Kennedy Minimus, who are not only white-hat Democrats but Kennedys [crosses self quickly three times].

There's some pretty wonderful other black-hats in there with the Kennedy boyz. Greenpeace ran down some 411 on a few of these:

A few weeks after the Cape Wind proposal was announced in 2001, Wayne Kurker, the owner of Hyannis Marina, started the [anti-windmill] Alliance. The stated purpose of the Alliance was, and is, to stop Cape Wind and to prevent wind turbines from being located in Nantucket Sound. Mr. Kurker has been on the receiving end of criticism from members of the community over the years about his marina expansion plans and over his marina buildings giving the Hyannis Inner Harbor an industrial look. Months after forming the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, Mr. Kurker was advocating for high-speed cigarette boat racing to occur in Nantucket Sound.

As the Alliance grew in 2002 from an active fundraising campaign, it obtained an office, hired several full-time staff and announced the selection of a CEO, Douglas Yearley. Mr. Yearley had retired to a large home overlooking Nantucket Sound after a long career at Phelps Dodge, an international copper and uranium mining company that under his watch as CEO was rated as the biggest polluter in Arizona by the Environmental Protection Agency. Mr. Yearley's tenure at Phelps Dodge was also recognized by Mother Jones Magazine (http://www.motherjones.com/news/special_reports/1995/07/piggies.html ) in their 1995 article, “10 Little Piggies. Forget welfare moms and the unemployed. No one feeds at the public trough like these ten.”

In 2005 the Cape Cod Times (http://www.capecodonline.com/special/windfarm/kochitxs7.htm) reported that the Alliance had selected Bill Koch as their new Co-Chairman, a part-time Cape resident who owns a multi-million dollar property in Osterville overlooking Nantucket Sound.... A billionaire who made much of his fortune in the coal and oil industries, Mr. Koch spoke about Cape Wind in a recent interview, ''So what? I'm interested in my view and the value of my property on the Cape,'' he said.... ''I freely admit I don't want to look at (the turbines).''

Although Mr. Koch began his energy business in Massachusetts, he moved his company to Florida for tax reasons. As reported in a St. Petersburg 2003 article entitled, “Big boys profit on mom-and-pops tax break, Many of Florida's largest private companies use tax exemptions created for small businesses, bypassing any corporate income tax”.

It seems Mr. Koch doesn't seem to object to energy projects in somebody else's back yard (http://www.sptimes.com/2003/12/28/State/Big_boys_profit_on_mo.shtml).

To paraphrase Mike Nichols and Elaine May's quip about Hyde Park -- Ahh, Cape Cod. Black hats and white hats working hand in hand to fuck the planet.

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

Kerry mythohistoricus

Seems that War President Wannabe John Kerry has seen the light -- in a speech at Faneuil Hall in Boston he appears to be calling for a withdrawal of US troops from Iraq by year's end.

Wonder what this means. Is it that he doesn't mean to be a candidate in '08, so he can play the Judas goat who will keep antiwar Democrats in the fold? Or does he think that the war ship is sinking and it's time for the rats to desert?

Either way, I guess it's good news, as far as it goes. Strange that I feel so obliged to look this particular gift horse in the mouth. Maybe I'm so profoundly convinced of Kerry's inveterate, invertebrate pliancy that I can't imagine anything he would do could possibly be a good thing.

Kerry's speech had some amusing moments. My favorite, I guess, is this:

Even during the Cold War--an undeclared war, and often more a war of nerves and diplomacy than of arms--even the mildest dissenters from official policy were sometimes silenced, blacklisted, or arrested, especially during the McCarthy era of the early 1950s. Indeed, it was only when Joseph McCarthy went through the gates of delirium and began accusing distinguished U.S. diplomats and military leaders of treason that the two parties in Washington and the news media realized the common stake they had in the right to dissent.
Ponder that last, wonderful incoherence: McCarthy had the temerity to attack "distinguished US diplomats and military leaders," so all of a sudden the establishment realized the importance of the "right to dissent"?

Here's another:

America has always rejected war as an instrument of raw power or naked self-interest. We fought when we had to in order to repel grave threats or advance freedom and self-determination in concert with like-minded people everywhere.
This from a guy who's just finished prosing on for a quarter of an hour about Vietnam.

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?

Next comes viola solo(*)

JSP beat me to it -- I was pondering a post on the strange ominous silence in the political world just now.

My diagnosis, and I expect JSP would agree: the Democrats' idea is to inherit some congressional seats, without doing anything to earn them, solely because the Republicans have fucked up so badly. Anything the Democrats could possibly say or do would work against this faute-de-mieux strategy, so they're maintaining a tomblike silence that would make the Sphinx look like a chatterbox. No doubt the Republicans, for their part, have an October Surprise up their sleeve, as usual.

But to my vast delight, it appears -- if the New York Times is to be believed -- that there is one issue the Democrats are willing to let peek out: stem cell research. Thus the Times:

Democrats are pressing their support for embryonic stem cell research in Congressional races around the country, seeking ... to exploit a division between conservatives who oppose the science and other Republicans more open to it.

The question of whether the government should support or limit stem cell research has cropped up... especially in suburban swing districts.

"What Democrats want to do is gin up their turnout in the suburbs and divide Republicans, and right now they may do that," said Jennifer E. Duffy, who tracks Senate races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. "This is the first real wedge issue Democrats have had with Republicans."

The topic may not have the power of those frequently used by Republicans to rally their... base, like same-sex marriage and abortion....

On Tuesday, [Democratic Senate candidate Claire] McCaskill appeared in the central Missouri town of Fayette, population 2,793, for a wine-and-cheese reception at an antiques shop....

What a delightful grace note: wine and cheese in the antique shop. This is a pretty good story by Times standards; somebody has almost a novelist's touch here. The wine and cheese among the bibelots says the same thing, a lot more compactly and vividly, that the stem-cell strategy tells us: this is a party that has absolutely given up on any kind of appeal to the mass of Americans -- a party which has consciously decided that its core constituency is the well-educated, the white-collar, and (of course) the suburban.

In fact I wonder whether we haven't seen an epochal flip-flop here. Maybe the Democrats' goal is to reduce turnout -- they've learned the lesson of '04, with its high turnout and very disappointing implications for the donks. Maybe the idea is that a race run on stem cells will be so soporific that only the brainiacs will show up to vote -- and of course, brainy souls that they are, they will pull the donkey lever, as always, just like the merest fool.

(*) In case you're wondering about the viola solo reference:
A man (call him Horace) went on a safari in darkest Africa with some native guides. They traveled on foot, going deep into the jungle where they could hear the screeching of birds and howling of wild cats and other fierce wild animals.

After a few days, Horace noticed that there was a constant drumming noise in the background. He asked the leader of the guides what the drumming was. He got no answer, just a stony silence. As they traveled deeper into the jungle the drumming got even louder. Horace tried again to find out what the drumming meant by asking the other native guides, but he still got no answer.

Finally one morning, after days of marching to this drumming (which by now was sounding quite ominous), the drums suddenly stopped. The native guides screamed and ran into the jungle to hide in the undergrowth. The leader remained, but he was trembling with fear. Horace asked "What is wrong? Why have the drums stopped?"

The native guide replied "Very bad."

"What?" asked Horace, who was expecting the worst.

The guide answered "When drum stops -- next comes viola solo!"

April 25, 2006

No green, no peace

Greenpeace writes:
Greenpeace has produced a TV ad revealing Sen. Ted Kennedy as the enviro-hypocrite he is. Despite repeating in a recent interview that he is all for renewable energy development, Kennedy continues to oppose the Cape Wind project, which would be the first offshore wind farm in the country. Sen. Stevens of Alaska said it was at the request of Kennedy that he insert the sneaky amendment to the Coast Guard bill that would effectively kill Cape Wind.

With the vote coming any day, Greenpeace will run the ad in a few states as part of an effort to push key Senators to remove the dirty Cape Wind amendment. After countless pledges and a new energy bill, it's time Congress walks the walk on renewable energy.

If memory serves, Greenpeace was the first enviro outfit to come out in favor of this wind project, back when all the others were still dithering.

Golden showers

What's this all about?
Democrats Beat Republicans in 2005 Fund-Raising on Wall Street

April 24 (Bloomberg) -- Democrats outdid Republicans last year in attracting political donations from investment banks, brokerages and fund managers for the first time since 1994, helped by support from hedge funds and companies such as Merrill Lynch & Co.

Democrats got $13.6 million, or 52 percent of the financial industry's $26.3 million in political donations in 2005, said the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan Washington group that researches the influence of money on elections and public policy. In the two years leading up to the 2004 presidential election, Republicans received 52 percent of the $91.6 million given by the industry.

``Wall Street wants change'' on issues such as the Iraq war and the budget deficit, said James Torrey, chairman of the Torrey Funds, which manages about $1 billion.

Well, if it's change they want, it's not clear why they should give any money to the Democrats. So what's up here? Are they just placing their bets on the likelier horse?

Surprise me

ddjango writes, a little cryptically:
Methinks the October surprise will be surprising, but will not be in October.
Maybe we should start a pool. What will the Administration do between now and November to take what little wind there is out of the Democrats' shabby, patched, frayed and mildew-stained sails? And when will they do it?

Let's see, what are the options --

  1. Produce the head of Osama bin Laden (without the rest of him, I mean)
  2. Nuke Iran
  3. Nuke Manhattan and blame Osama
  4. Subsidize gasoline
  5. Indict Hillary Clinton -- for something -- anything! (Please let it be this one!)
C'mon gang, let's have some more suggestions here.

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.

Hillary: sitting on the fence

In a recent New York Daily News interview, in which reporters described her "embracing both conservative and liberal goals," Hillary argued that U.S. borders should be secured with a .... "smart fence" before legalization begins.

Well, she always has liked walls. But the idea that it needs to be a "smart" wall is delicious, isn't it? Democrats: The Party Of Smart People.

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?

Petroleum et circenses

Here's a nice game -- gas pump prices and "windfall" taxes.

Watch a few donk phoneys split a lance over this one.

We can thank petro-dereg mania -- started by ole Jimmy Carter -- for the naked lunch hog oilers feast on today.

April 26, 2006

Vox populi (anybody listening?)

Here's an interesting item from those wild and crazy pollsters at Angus Reid:
Americans Want Third Major Political Party

April 25, 2006

(Angus Reid Global Scan) – Many adults in the United States believe there should be a viable alternative to Republicans and Democrats, according to a poll by Princeton Survey Research Associates for the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. 53 per cent of respondents believe there should be a third major political party in the country, up three points since June 2004.

Only 40% said there shouldn't be such a party; the other 7% were undecided.

Those fabulous Fabians

There's a nice label for the donk master strategy between here and November -- "cunctation," as in the wise feats of Fabius Maximus "Cunctator" against the original elephant man:

Hannibal and friends crossing the Rhone, en route to the Alps

That's what friends and supporters of Neville Chamberlain called what history calls appeasement.

Though maybe I'm a few years behind the curve here. Maybe by now we're really into that second great act of pusillanimity, the Sitzkrieg, better known as the phoney war -- the period from Danzig to the Ardennes, when the Franco-Brit juggernaut faced down the Fuehrer mostly with loud farts.

April 27, 2006

Equal opportunity in Caesar's legions

Here's the kind of line-in-the-sand, emphatic donk prog blast we expect out of our reps. It' s from my home stater Marty Meehan, whaling away on the Pentagon -- about what, you may ask?
  • Our air-power bombfest in occupied Iraq?
  • Our globe-spanning network of torture chambers?
  • Our covert option plans to nuke those fractious Iranistani turban heads?
None of the above: Marty's final warning is on ... "don't ask don't tell."

Dream... or nightmare?

Alan Smithee raises a mighty good question:

Hard on the heels of the Angus Reid poll you wrote about in your Vox Populi (anybody listening?) post comes this poll from the rascally redstate researchers at Rasmussen Reports:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national opinion survey finds that 44% of Americans say they would vote for a Democrat if the Presidential Election were held today. Just 32% would vote for a Republican. Those figures are likely a reflection of unhappiness with the Bush Administration rather than a commentary on prospective candidates from either party (see crosstabs).

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%. [Emphasis mine.]

Given that taking any poll too seriously is dangerous to one's sanity; combining the results of this poll with the poll downblog is just a wee bit disturbing. What I mean is, if there really is a yen amongst us plebes for a third party, what kind of third party is it? Personally, I'm four-square against any plan to wall off our southern border. Plus, I'm sure I'd look terrible in a silver shirt.

I actually do have some thoughts on this subject, but I'll save 'em for a subsequent post.

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.

Gougers, an endangered species

My favorite bit in the Times piece that JSP mentioned earlier:
Democrats called for a 60-day halt on collecting federal gasoline taxes, which are 18.4 cents a gallon, but they were openly split about the more radical step of imposing a windfall profits tax on major oil companies.
JSP said
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!"
It would seem that as usual, the donks aren't far behind -- and coming up fast on the outside.

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.


The problem is not the promise lines that get you elected -- it's the actions once elected.

Here's my favorite case: Clinton I believe might have altered the course of the donk parade, if in early '93 he'd stumped for a bottom-up payroll tax cut. I believe not only would he have gotten it, but he might have re-labeled the donkery for a generation as the working stiffs party, and without triangulating a damn thing.

But as he's mentioned many times since, the very notion of a working family tax break was ruled out by Wall Street Bob Rubin -- from day one.

So we got instead... that's swell but don't tell, and Hillary's health folly. And so the '94 housecleaning was a lock.

About April 2006

This page contains all entries posted to Stop Me Before I Vote Again in April 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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