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May 2006 Archives

May 1, 2006

Toothless dog gums man

I missed Saturday's antiwar march here in NYC. I'm sure it was a cheerful spectacle, as it streamed from Union Square down to the Saturday desert of the Federal bunkers in Lower Manhattan. I may have seen it all a little too often, though: earnest grannies and movie stars calling for something to be done about Bush in the hortative subjunctive impersonal -- let him be impeached, by what or whom does not clearly appear.

I would have been more motivated to show up if the march had headed uptown rather than down from Union Square, toward Schumer's and Clinton's Manhattan offices, conveniently located a cozy block apart on Third Avenue, at 47th and 48th Streets respectively. But no, the peace movement, as usual, prefers to expend its strength against a target on which it can have no effect.

Press coverage, not surprisingly, was routine, and one can hardly blame the press -- there was basically no story, just the usual kvetching on a mass scale. If the march had gone uptown -- if a cadre of resisters had blocked Clinton's and Schumer's lobbies, or tossed blood on their doors -- I daresay that would have created more of a stir. If protesters had handed in signed letters saying that they would never, ever vote for Clinton or Schumer again, for any office whatsoever, that might have even gotten the Democratic Party's attention -- assuming, optimistically, that the capacity for attention still lies latent in that comatose creature's nervous system.

Oh well. A guy can dream. Wouldn't it be nice if we had an antiwar movement that really wanted to do something about the war -- a movement that would apply its strength against the weakest link rather than the strongest?

Rally round the flag, liberals

Junior Peretznik Peter Beinart, writing in the perfect venue, thinks too many donks are sunk under shame and fear about the American empire. His goal: to cure this road-to-Munich disease by a cold-war liberal memory implant.
Alienated by the war in Iraq, many [Democrats] have grown suspicious of intervening in other countries' affairs. A recent Gallup survey shows Democrats twice as likely as Republicans to say that America should mind its own business internationally.... And a 2005 poll by the Century Foundation and the Center for American Progress found self-described liberals far less interested than conservatives in promoting democracy. Indeed, in their recent manifesto, Congressional Democrats barely mentioned it as a foreign-policy goal.
Hence this article about our legendary Cold War liberal heroes -- including, rather bizarrely, musty names like Reinhold Niebuhr. Been a while since that mighty thinker has been rolled out, in my hearing, anyway.

Beinart's large-souled goal appears to be rescuing the Democratic Party from its members, and liberalism from liberals. He sternly tells us we need to intervene globally -- but with the proper posse: an official one full of what Mike Savage would call "guys with sombreros, turbans, feathered headdresses and berets." In other words, to personify St. Woodrow's way vs. Teddy R's lone ranger. -- an invisible empire of human righteousness where democracy can take its baby steps, and the little guy experience a gathering prosperity through progressive transnational investments.

Toilers: they're trouble

haikuist observes, in a comment on an earlier post here:
When [Clinton] was running for office in 1992, he wasn't talking about "workers" ... he talked constantly about the "middle class" (whatever it is that is supposed to mean).
Indeed .... and why?

According to the made-over DLC crowd of which the Clintons are charter members, the working class is a shrinking constituency -- no longer, by far, the powerhouse mass that Truman tooted his blandishments at in '48, to such miraculous effect.

Nope, according to the brain trust that does the thinking for the likes of Rahm "Lex Luthor" Emanuel and cherry-cherry Kerry, appeal to the toiler class and its economic interests ... and you lose.

Par exemple -- read "The Trouble with Class Interest Populism" on the website of the Fromsphere planetoid the Progressive Policy Institute.

The upshot -- the Demo poor and working-class base of New Deal fame is now 25% of the population, and falling.

More to come on this subject.

May 2, 2006

The meek, mild-mannered Democrat is really...

According to my personal idol of the moment, Amy Sullivan, the conventional wisdom on the donkery-do is all wrong.

Amy's clips a few fourth-estate samples:

"For Democrats, Many Verses, but No Chorus"

"Democratic candidates for Congress are reading from a stack of different scripts these days"

"Scattershot messages reflect splits within the party"

"Democrats Struggle to Seize Opportunity"

Not so, says Amy. Far from being led by Jacob Weisberg's "Three Stooges" (Dean, Pelosi, and Reid ) -- far from being "lame, feckless, timid, and hopelessly divided, with no ideas, no vision, no message, and no future" -- far from being Jon Stewart's party of "Ewoks" -- the congressional donk cadre are actually buff, cut, and ready for a midnight rut. Finally, they've got the hang of being an opposition party. Instead of playing Charlie Brown to the Repubs' Lucy, they've mastered the art of cunctation and rope-a-dope, plus the odd bit of sabotage.

Why after 72 years of big-horned statesmanship have the Dems gone so back-door-to-history? Amy says, "Perhaps ... they have little left to lose." She works up quite a dossier -- if you read the article, I promise you'll be amazed to find just what masked marvels, what these caped and cowled crusaders the congressional Democrats really are.

Amy seems to think the Democrats have prove wrong the old maxim that you can't beat something with nothing; to hear her tell it, the donks are poised to re-take Congress in November. Of course she culminates with the inevitable -- "Leading this charge" to power is the Redeemer Maximus, who else, pitchfork Rahm Emanuel himself. As Amy adds breathlessly, he is after all "the man they call Rahmbo."

Cactus Jack walks the corridors

There's a spectre haunting Rahm and Nan -- it's Cactus Jack Garner.

In 1930 the Depression broke the elephantarians of the day for a generation -- no, two generations. The fall election produced a donk house, if by a razorish margin. The House top jackass was John Nance Garner of Texas.

Cactus Jack still faced a Hoover White House, so instead of aiding "efforts by the administration to bring relief to the people," Jack led a very clever obstructionist donk flank fire -- two more years of "let the elephants boil in their own mud bath." A kind of domestic "let it get even worse," a "cunctation" with bite-your-ass partisan spite.

Is this the Rahm and Nan plan?

The story has two stages: stage one -- donks gain the white house two years later. Enter the New Deal era, as Hoover flees the stage of history festering from scalp to groin with stink worms. Cactus Jack got maneuvered into what he famously called a "bucket of warm piss" -- i.e. the Vice Presidency, for a two-term hitch.

Second stage: this clever feller from the land of sage and sidewinders becomes, in FDR's second term, a leader in the resurrection of old-style white-sheet dixie donkery -- a new confederacy of reaction, anti-worker, anti-civil rights, anti-FDR -- ultimately anti everything without a white pecker and a plug of chaw in its cheek. In short, a full-bore cotton-country counterpart to New York's Al Smith.

So let us absorb this clever gent's legacy, and beware his avatars.

Too much peace in the peace movement

Nice piece at Counterpunch by Mike Donnelly. His message : let's purge the peacenik hacks still leading our biggest anti-Iraq war outfits. Are they not our Rumsfields and Brownies?

Check out the latest dove flutter last weekend, and contrast it to yesterday's Stage Two of what's becoming a vertitable nationwide Chicano uprising.

Ought we not hunt out these rubbery top-line folks, and skin 'em? Let's forget regrinding another pound of Rummy's insolent ass -- where's the chorus of high-profile Left tribunes baying for these rollover pelts?

File under: Long way to go

Do you think 3 dollar a gallon gas is stiff? Try the Brit setup -- up to 7 dollars a gallon. Or, to be precise, the latest recorded nationwide average price per gallon : $6.48.

But here's why I post this -- $4.27 goes as taxes. By contrast, here stateside, average taxes are about 46 cents per gallon.

Yes, $4.27 vs $0.46.

Ahhh. It's good to be the hegemon. Until you have to stop.

May 3, 2006

Buckeye black eye for Rahm

Alan Smithee reports:

Yesterday was a bad day for Grand Viser Rahm Emanuel's master plan for DCCC donkey dominance in '06. Five out of seven RahmPuppets fell in the primary war zones of Ohio and Indiana. Oh, the Humanity!

As the smoke clears over the ballot-strewn battlefields in the breakaway state of Ohio, Rahm's Sockpuppet Army is in full retreat. The stench of defeated RahmPuppet candidacies hovers thickly over the Buckeye State, election day casualties shot down by insurgent natives staunchly defending their voting districts from Rahm's relentless onslaught.

Republican safe Ohio CD03 saw the candidacy of David Fierst brutally mauled by antiwar UAW endorsee Stephanie Studebaker, who flattened the prowar RahmPuppet in an easy 56% - 21% victory. This must be an especially disappointing loss for Rahm, since Fierst had garnered endorsements from both "Ohio Right to Life" and "Democrats For Life."

In Sherrod Brown's CD13 Democrat safe district, Murtha plan enthusiast John Wolfe (1.4%) and backup "Band of Brothers" brother Norbert Dennerll (0.7%) lost to union fave-rave Betty Sutton (30.7%) in a grisly primary slaughter that took the candidacies of no less than seven Democrat hopefuls. Reported amongst the casualties is Gary Kucinich (13.5%), real-life brother of CD10 congresscritter Dennis Kucinich.

On one of Ohio's more contested battlefields, Bob Ney's crater strewn CD18, RahmPuppet Joe Sulzer (24%) placed third behind Zack Space (38.75%) and Jennifer Steward (25.5%). Pundits generaly cite Ney's Abramoff connections as the major factor contributing to Republican woes in this highly red district.

Surveying the carnage, the last RamPuppet standing in Ohio is Richard Siferd in the soldily Republican CD04. Whether or not it helped Siferd's cause that he didn't have an opponent in the primary is difficult to say, but our contacts in the district suspect if may have played a role in Siferd's primary victory.

Meanwhile, in the solidly red state of Indiana, Rahm's Sockpuppet Army sustained 50% casualties. Rahm scored a victory in CD03 as Tom Hayhurst rolled over two challangers to win the primary. But in CD04, local democrat David Sanders handily defeated Rahm favorite Rick Cornstuble in 52% to 31% route.

What does this setback mean for Rahm's Sockpuppet Army? It would seem that, outside of Rahm's heavily fortified Illinios home base, local insurgents are holding their own against the invading Beltway Sockpuppets. Alternately, the Ohio route may have been caused by popular resentment against Rahm's shivving of local cause celeb Paul Hackett. However that may be, Rahm's Army will be further tested on May 16th when nine more RahmPuppets storm the primary battlefields of Kentucky and Pennsylvania. Can Rahm turn the tide of electoral war in his favor? Or is he throwing good corporate DCCC money after bad? Stay tuned!

May 4, 2006

Howard, you BITCH!

Alan Smithee reports:

Strolling through the morning news I ran across this frankly puzzling item, by way of AmericaBlog:


Howard Dean fires gay man in apparent retaliation against his partner

by John in DC - 5/03/2006 10:53:00 AM

Can you say Valerie Plame?

The Democratic National Committee yesterday fired its gay liaision, my friend Donald Hitchcock, and immediately replaced him with someone else (thus showing the position wasn't phased out). What's odd about the firing, to put it lightly is that it comes within days of Donald's partner, Paul Yandura, publicly criticizing the DNC for not being pro-gay enough.

The DNC claims they aren't retaliating against the spouse for the other spouse's politics. From all appearances, that's exactly what they're doing.


That the dems have been slowly sidling away from gay issues as part of their imitation-republican "god, guns 'n gays" strategy has been fairly obvious for some time. But this bit of transparent fag-bashing seems unusually, well, flashy for Dean. Has the pressure of being head DNC cheerleader made Howard the Dem pop his top? Enquiring mind and all that...

Pledging allegiance

From Ha-Aretz:
At the AJC annual convention today, I heard a couple of people talk about the issue of the Iranian nuclear program and most of it was fairly reassuring. Representatives from both Left and Right promised the audience that the threat will not be ignored. Not by a Republican administration - as was emphasized by Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon - nor by a Democratic one, as Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean promised in terms not at all different from those used by Bush, Cheney and Rice.

And Dean - wearing the badge of a leftist Democrat - was actually the one going into details in regard to Iran - Making the more forceful argument. The crowed demanded it from him in the short session of questions and answers. But even before that it was clear that he was coming with a decision that?s been made in advance: He was not going to leave any room for doubt or interpretation on this issue.

Comment seems superfluous.

You and me, Tony

Tony Judt is one of the few regulars at the New York Review whom I consistently read with any pleasure, so I was delighted to see him in Ha-Aretz echoing my very own phrase "a straw in the wind" to describe the Mearsheimer/Walt report on the Israel lobby:
Something is changing in the United States. To be sure, it was only a few short years ago that prime minister Sharon's advisers could gleefully celebrate their success in dictating to U.S. President George W. Bush the terms of a public statement approving Israel's illegal settlements....

But whereas Israel has no choice but to look to America - it has no other friends, at best only the conditional affection of the enemies of its enemies, such as India - the United States is a great power; and great powers have interests that sooner or later transcend the local obsessions of even the closest of their client states and satellites. It seems to me of no small significance that the recent essay on "The Israel Lobby" by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt has aroused so much public interest and debate....

The fact is that the disastrous Iraq invasion and its aftermath are beginning to engineer a sea-change in foreign policy debate here in the U.S. It is becoming clear to prominent thinkers across the political spectrum - from erstwhile neo-conservative interventionists like Francis Fukuyama to hard-nosed realists like Mearsheimer - that in recent years the United States has suffered a catastrophic loss of international political influence and an unprecedented degradation of its moral image. The country's foreign undertakings have been self-defeating and even irrational. There is going to be a long job of repair ahead.... And this reconstruction of the country's foreign image and influence cannot hope to succeed while U.S. foreign policy is tied by an umbilical cord to the needs and interests (if that is what they are) of one small Middle Eastern country of very little relevance to America's long-term concerns....

That essay is thus a straw in the wind - an indication of the likely direction of future domestic debate here in the U.S. about the country's peculiar ties to Israel. Of course it has been met by a firestorm of criticism from the usual suspects - and, just as they anticipated, the authors have been charged with anti-Semitism (or with advancing the interests of anti-Semitism: "objective anti-Semitism," as it might be). But it is striking to me how few people with whom I have spoken take that accusation seriously, so predictable has it become.

Right on the money, Tony -- as you so often are.

The magic words

Here's an article -- a real thinkeroo by one Paul Waldman at tompaine.com. File it under must and will weep (salty tears of mirth division).

I'm not going to give it away -- but I will forearm you: it's nothing less than a general slogan for progress.

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

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

Patriotic Kilgore

Here's a passage from the infamous Ed Kilgore. brain truster of the DLC. Your reporter here hacked this out of a review Kilgore posted this past March at Washington Monthly. Kilgore is reviewing a recent bio of William Jennings Bryan:
Those politicized Christians who have formed a firm alliance with Mammon and Mars on the grounds that the Word's main message today is to condemn abortion and homosexuality and feminism are forever vulnerable to those faithful who read their Bible and see otherwise.

As a Democrat, I am naturally more interested in the lessons for the neopopulists of the left, who are enjoying something of a renaissance these days by offering a theory of how Bryan's old party can break out of its bicoastal, blue state ghetto....

One does not follow Bryan's example by tearing his economic policies out of their broader cultural context or fomenting class consciousness or hatred of corporations as a matter of pocketbook self-interest rather than communal values. Indeed, the common neopopulist prescription of using economic "populism" to trump cultural "populism" sets one aspect of Bryanism -- and the weaker aspect at that -- against the other. Telling working people who care about cultural issues that they are expressing displaced anger over their legitimate economic grievances is condescending at best and insulting at worst and is entirely alien to Bryan's kind of populism. Moreover, it's an odd kind of populism that cannot accept "the people" as they actually are: complicated creatures with a mix of "correct" and "incorrect" views, which cannot always, or even often, be reduced to one of Dr. George Lakoff's "frames."

There's one more contemporary issue for the left which the book implicitly raises: the occasional necessity but perennial peril of bitter intra-party conflict....

. Without question, Bryan's revolt in 1896 overthrew a Democratic establishment mired in the politics of earlier decades, focused obsessively on competing for the "swing state" of New York, and indifferent to the growing challenges of the industrial age....

His candidacy also co-opted and thus largely neutered the appeal of the People's Party, which had been mortally threatening Democratic hegemony in the South....

But Bryan's savage indictment of the Bourbon Democrats... also disabled Democrats in the East and much of the Midwest and dislocated a partisan balance that had produced five straight photo-finish presidential elections. And with the sole exception of Wilson's reelection in 1916, Democrats would not come close to a majority of the popular vote in any of the six presidential elections between then and Bryan's death and would remain especially weak in the urban areas Bryan and his people spurned as Babylon....

I hope neopopulists and those representing today's Democratic factions read ... this fine book and learn a host of lessons: "The people" are who they are; "populism" cannot be forced left or right; and "progressivism" is the shared legacy and aspiration of us all, not the exclusive property of those most passionate about exclusively claiming it.

I'll with hold any comment till you all have the ball rolling ....

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."

Pinocchio: "Real boy this time"

Another fine Smitheegram:

Is The Wall Street Journal trying to compete with Takashi Miike and Chan-wook Park for the title of Modern Master of Horror? Hearken to this nightmare senario:


Al Gore Might Yet Join 2008 Contenders

Former Vice President Keeps Mum As His Movie Sparks Talk of a White House Run


First there was Clinton-Gore. Could Clinton vs. Gore be next?

For former Vice President Al Gore, a rash of favorable publicity surrounding this month's opening of his movie "An Inconvenient Truth," and the growing political resonance of its subject -- global warming -- are stoking the most serious speculation about a Gore political comeback since his loss in the 2000 U.S. presidential election.


Apparently not content with causing the Evildum/Evildee 2000 debacle; certain democretins have slapped a new coat of paint on Al Gore and are trying to pass him off as the New Model Democrat before the shellack is even dry. Do they really think we're going to vote for this Beltway Android just because he produced an agitprop pic? Sheesh!

Populism without the pop

Tim D responds to Ed Kilgore's deep thoughts:

Uhh when has the message of economic populism ever really been delivered by the Democratic Party? Who in the Democratic Party has challenged or even really exposed corporate power? In an article for MSNBC right after the 2004 election, Eleanor Clift pointed out that, although many conservatives turned out at the polls to vote on anti-gay referenda in various states, even more people turned out in other states to vote overwhelmingly for minimum wage hikes!!!

But this is nothing new. Right after the 2000 election, Al From wrote an article for Blueprint Magazine in which he lamented that one of Gore's major mistakes was taking the populist line (when that ever happened is a mystery to me):

in the 2000 election Gore chose a populist rather than a New Democrat message. As a result, voters viewed him as too liberal and identified him as an advocate of big government. Those perceptions, whether fair or not, hurt him with male voters in general and with key New Economy swing voters in particular. By emphasizing class warfare he seemed to be talking to Industrial Age America, not Information Age America.
Interestingly enough, he also stated that "The assertion that Nader's marginal vote hurt Gore is not borne out by polling data. When exit pollers asked voters how they would have voted in a two-way race, Bush actually won by a point. That was better than he did with Nader in the race."

Washpost: Dream on, donks

The Wash Post reports more horse race analysis on this year's biennial Fall classic.

The popular sea change may still not be enough for a House change, given the Repub lock system. According to one academic study, the Repubs are way better distributed CD-wise. A majority of CDs are Repub-friendly -- while Dems are lumped on top of each other in a minority of CDs. Kind of a minority-majority, majority-minority gig

And oh, this just in too...

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. Is that a gerrymander effect too -- and if so, how?

May 9, 2006

Hillary *heart* Rupert

From Alan Smithee:

This morning's spit-take is courtesy of that organ of journalistic probity, MSNBC:


Murdoch to host fundraiser for Hillary Clinton campaign

Rupert Murdoch, the conservative media mogul whose New York Post tabloid savaged Hillary Clinton's initial aspirations to become a US senator for New York, has agreed to host a political fundraiser for her re-election campaign.

The decision underlines an incongruous thawing of relations between Mr Murdoch and Mrs Clinton, who in 1998 coined the phrase "vast rightwing conspiracy" to denounce critics of her husband, such as Fox News, the conservative cable channel owned by Mr Murdoch's News Corporation.


That St. Hill has been playing kiss-and-makeup with former members of the vast rightwing conspiracy like Newt Gingrich hasn't exactly been a deep 'n dark secret. Still, I think this particular Rupe 'n Hill Mystery Date rates special mention just for it's nauseau factor alone. The mere potential for gag-inducing photo ops buried the needle on my Ick! Meter.

But all yuck aside, it makes perfect sense for Ol' Rupe to hedge his bets. Any future gov't goodies for his media empire, like Hubbie Bill's $70 bil. telecom giveaway back in '96, might very well rest with Prez'l wannabe Hillary in a few short fiscal years.

Feinstein anoints the spookmaster

The eagle-eyed Alan Smithee once more:

Just thought I'd pass along this delicious dose of donkey dottiness - courtesy of those mighty media minders at News Hounds:


Dianne Feinstein as Neo Con - Lauds Appointment of Michael Hayden

Reported by Melanie - May 08, 2006

Ignoring the fact that many prominent Republicans are questioning George Bush's selection of Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden to head the CIA, Neil Cavuto hosted a segment today (May 8, 2006) titled, "Military Fight!" featuring guest Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). Unfortunately, there was no fight in Feinstein. Fox's bookers may have booked a Democrat but it was in name only. The GOP itself couldn't have sent Cavuto a stronger, more positive, pro-Hayden talking head.

Is there justice after all?

Our friends at Angus Reid report a new poll:
Democrat Lead Down to Three Points in U.S.
May 9, 2006

(Angus Reid Global Scan) – The congressional election in the United States could be closer than expected, according to a poll by Opinion Dynamics released by Fox News. 41 per cent of respondents would vote for the Democratic candidate in their congressional district, while 38 per cent would support the Republican contender. Two-in-ten voters would vote for other parties, or remain undecided. Support for the Democrats fell by seven points since March, while backing for the Republicans increased by four points.

I don't know anything about Opinion Dynamics, though the Fox News connection makes one wonder. Still, I hope they're right. An undeserved plum falling into the Dems' lap this fall would depress me more than I can tell you.

The Nan plan

The Washington Post reports:

If the donks recapture the House this fall, Nan Pelosi says they'll...

...quickly vote to raise the minimum wage for the first time since 1997.
Great ....late but great....
... roll back a provision in the Republicans' Medicare prescription drug benefit that prohibits the Department of Health and Human Services from negotiating prices for drugs offered under the program
Good. maybe better than good....
...vote to fully implement the recommendations of the bipartisan panel convened to shore up homeland security after Sept. 11, 2001
Clown show politics as usual.
...reinstate lapsed rules that say any tax cuts or spending increases have to be offset by spending cuts or tax increases to prevent the federal deficit from growing.
A hideous backward looking vicious monstrosity worthy of the Bourbon restoration.
...launch a series of investigations of the Bush administration, beginning with the White House's first-term energy task force and probably including the use of intelligence in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.
Thin end of a neo-Watergate wedge -- another orgy of hypocritical self-congratulation and congressional hot air -- a theater of ham-fisted buffoonery.

Of course, so long as they aren't veto-proof in the House, or impeachment-proof in the Senate, they can shoot as much lava and brimstone at the White House as they want, knowing it's all turning into hot air long before its half way up Pennsylvania Avenue.

Meanwhile, Slate's top politico says Nan blew it by suggesting a donk house would investigate the Bush mill -- he fears she'll fire up the elephant base with such hooey. More horse-race horseshit, if you ask me. I had a visit last night from the ghost of Hunter Thompson, who says it's in the bag -- donks 221, 'pubs 214.

Theater of cruelty

Sometimes we do their job for 'em.

Take this puff of sulfurous vapors at my dear darling Nan:

Rep. Nancy Pelosi... made a snarky comment on NBC over the weekend when asked about impeachment.... Pelosi reportedly said, "Democrats are not about impeachment--Democrats are about bringing the country together."

...Pelosi is in for a big surprise.

Please, little Bo-Peep -- of course she'll put Bush and company on trial in her kangaroo court. What better way to waste two years?

What possible result can this fellow expect from such proceeedings? Have we at long last no shame? Have we not even now digested the waste and folly of throwing all that energy into the crucifiction of Dick Nixon?

What did we get -- Jimmy's peckerless Truman reprise and... the Reagan Republican restoration.

And for gosh sakes -- Nixon himself, the original man from brokeback ridge -- he didn't even stay crucified. And when he made his return, it lasted hell of a lot longer than 40 days.

Pocketbook? What pocketbook?

Fromnik Stephen Rose muses:
... the old working class has been subsumed into a broader middle class..... today's working Americans have a very different economic outlook .... Their outlook is more aspirational and less infused with class grievance or resentment.
This is an old song now. To hear the "class is now in recess" brand of politicos tell it, there is no voting the pocketbook 'round here. And that ain't about to change, even as they begin morphing out of their DLC "ME TOO!" elephant suit and into Prog of Prog Hall, singing "we're all in it together .... even the corporations. No, especially the corporations."

Well, maybe they got something with their first line -- it's true, we're all in it together -- up to our necks in fact. And yeah, it's a greater good vision we need -- only upside down from what we have now.

The DLC incognitos like to tell us the old New Deal working class is gone -- it's mostly merged with the "broader" middle class. True enough -- but it's not by an uplift of the wagery, but by the drop of the traditional middle class into a kind of ill-defined protoplasmic class goo -- a class of a new type, not by any means the old middle class or the old working class, but bearing the historic burdens of both -- a job that hangs motionless, at best, in mid-air, and attached to it, a ball-and-chain household mortgage.

Savor that and tell me these citizens of gooville won't vote their pocketbook, if someone actually and believably offers to fill that barren bag with something beyond a promissory note: "to be paid in full .....when you make it."

Make it how? "Self improvement," say the promoters of intellectual capital -- and add, under their breath, "how else, you useless piece of shit."

He's talkin' about... us!

From the New Replusive blog:

According to Jonathan Chait, a leading TNR doobee: "the left-wing blogospere" is emphatically not "a placid realm of civilized discourse"-- no, instead we're into

relentless, juvenile name-calling... the imagining of conspiracies between the Democratic Leadership Council... and various corporate lobbies....
And we're frozen in place by
the fervent belief that monolithic motivations could be imputed to all who were associated with those sinister, back-stabbing institutions
-- i.e. the corporations and their fink tanks.

And guess what, comrades -- us left blogs are not

... actually all that lefty... if you consider only their policy agenda in a vacuum....
-- it's only our "political style" which is indeed left -- in fact that is not only left but "distinctly New Left" -- meaning "paranoid, Manichean ... brimming with humorless rage."

But decent neo-progs better not relax: just because

the contemporary blog-based left, unlike the McGovernite New Left, lacks a well-formed radical program....
And why? Here's the forecast of the left blog law of motion
there's lots of evidence to suggest that this style of thinking is suggestive of a tendency to move in more radical directions over time
...ending where? Well, where else -- by "veering into the abyss."

It's our old friend the "Commies are Nazis" theory, which served TNR so well in the 80s. There's no joke like an old joke.

Now Chait, I guess, has been run over a few times by these raging left bloganauts -- but he don't feel no "personal frustration," despite the plain fact that even after writing "plenty of great stuff that critiques Bush," he still faces a "one strike and you're out policy."

Now I'll admit that would piss me off -- but Chait is the type of regular civilized broad minded chap that can

actually really enjoy mixing it up... and oddly enough.... being personally attacked as well
What freaks him though is this left blogosphere's "paranoid mentality ... toward TNR":
They cannot see gradations. They cannot see differences between individuals within an institution. [It's like] their unrelenting hostility toward the DLC, some of whose members are much more liberal than others....
In other words, us loons are
simply unable to process the fact [that] 80 percent of the political commentary we publish is a sharp attack on Bush
and yet because we "disagree with ... 20 percent," it's pow! right in the kisser. We have absolutely
"no mental category for an institution that agrees with them 80 percent of the time.... The would-be Grover Norquists of the left may well fashion themselves as shrewd political tacticians....
But we need to learn from our righty counterparts, who
... have been able to move the political center... in large part because they understood the difference between someone who agrees with them 80 percent of the time and someone who agrees with them 0 percent of the time....
So I guess since us lefty blogs don't get this, we're as Jon says "dangerous and fanatical."

Well, gang -- who wants to be "dangerous" around here?

I've already got dibs on "fanatical. "

May 10, 2006

Small-d democracy

I've thrown this out in a comment panel on my party hero, the peerless WJ Bryan, who so far as I can see, never for a moment confused his party's success - a party he served faithfully his whole life - with the march of democracy itself. His ultimate loyalty was to the people, not his party.

So in that light I here bring forth, up top and impersonal, my Bryanoid pledge to all party members and fellow travellers. I call it the open ballot anti-partisan pledge:

I will never again vote for any Democratic candidate who will not pledge his or her unswervable best efforts to open the ballot as wide as possible to independent and third party candidates. Put the small 'd' back in big 'D' politics!

If it walks like a clown...

Hey, the people know a clown when they've seen his act.

Sure, the donks as an ahistorical, destructuralized, pureed abstraction look better than the Bush tumbleweeds -- but actual donks they've seen run over a stretch of ground.

Check the latest NY Times poll numbers:

Sure Georgie is down to 31% approval, but

The political situation has not helped some of the more prominent members of the Democratic Party. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.... had a lower approval rating than Mr. Bush: 26 percent, down from 40 percent in a poll conducted right after the election. And just 28 percent said they had a favorable view of Al Gore.
Who knows what evil lurks... the peeeeeople know!

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

Nobody here but us hets, boss

The invaluable Alan Smithee writes:

I have to confess, it's scary how much I've come to depend on your blog as a resource for ideas and insight. Fer instance, J. S. Paine's Anti-Partisan Pledge is a hit with just about everyone I regularly e-mail.

But on with the story...

Howard the Donk has put his foot into it again. This via PageOneQ:


National Gay and Lesbian Task Force slams Howard Dean, Returns $5,000 gift from DNC

by PageOneQ

After it was reported that Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean misrepresented the portions of the party platform relating to marriage, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force returned a $5,000 contribution to the party, PageOneQ has learned.

In a release issued by the Task Force, a quote from Chairman Dean was reported as:

"The Democratic Party platform from 2004 says that marriage is between a man and a woman. That's what it says. I think where we may take exception with some religious leaders is that we believe in inclusion, that everybody deserves to live with dignity and respect, and that equal rights under the law are important."


The GLBT community seems to be increasingly fed-up with Dean's donkey doublespeak. Though the actual part of the Dem's 2004 platform is a perfidious piece of wishy-washy ABBism, it doesn't quite put it that baldly. Per the article...


The actual part of the party platform reads:

"We support full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of our nation and seek equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections for these families. In our country, marriage has been defined at the state level for 200 years, and we believe it should continue to be defined there. We repudiate President Bush's divisive effort to politicize the Constitution by pursuing a 'Federal Marriage Amendment.' Our goal is to bring Americans together, not drive them apart."

Dean made the statements on the Christian Broadcasting Network during its popular 700 Club program.


Which begs the question, is Howard the Donk actually trying to court the Chimperor's fundamentalist supporters? Perhaps hoping to peel off a few votes from Bush's eroding base? Seems unlikely, but who knows? If he can make his party seem anti-gay and anti-choice enough, perhaps ol' Howard can paint the blue party red.

De mortuis nil nisi bonum...

... so all I can say about AM Rosenthal's embarkation for the Other World is that I will miss him.

The Times' obit was entertainingly filled with the usual folie de grandeur -- Abe is described as

... a demanding editor who lifted The New York Times from economic doldrums in the 1970s and molded it into a journalistic juggernaut known for distinguished reporting of national and world affairs....

Rosenthal, known as Abe, spent virtually all of his working life at the Times, beginning as a lowly campus stringer in 1943. He rose to police reporter, foreign correspondent, managing editor and finally to the exalted office of executive editor, a post he held for nine years beginning in 1977.

''Abe was a giant among journalists,'' retired Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger said in a statement. ''He was a great editor with extraordinary loyalty to his troops.''

Troops, giants, exalted offices, juggernauts -- it's a Lord Of The Rings life down there on 43d Street.

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.

It's a horserace, folks -- Part LXXIV

Bout of the week: Dean-Emanuel III.

The Washpost has our boys Howie and Rahm at it again. Gist:

  • Rahm: "This fuck is blowing our resources chasing gun-rackers and mountain goats."
  • Howie: "Sure I am ... that's where the red votes are."
Sounds like an '08 guy versus an '06 guy -- anybody want to guess which side the Hill is on?

Howie, thank God we have ya -- to piss away this personal empire of favor-owing elected clients Rahmses the First is trying to build.

Squalls ahead

This may have a Kos-a Nostra feel to it but....

Are the donk cadre ready for Karl's summer blitz?

Well no, blitz isn't the word -- more like Frontier Fremont-type trap-settin' -- popular mental hollows easily filled with sand and tar, like human-animal marriage, 4th trimester abortion, the death penalty for truancy. You know, the basic body punches to the belly of real red-state base-warmers. Freedom, blood, and flag stuff -- what the DLC calls cultural populism.

Watch the Rover boys lure 'em into landing a good hard right hook on all the the usual cult-lib donk tarbabies -- challenges to progressive right-minded values that no self-respecting jackass can resist.

Dropping my Kos mask -- I can't wait for the fun, though the shock and awe crowd are looking mighty ragged lately.

Could it be a rope-a-dope?

Shellie shells out

My very favorite Democrat has done it again:

Sheldon Silver, the leader of the Democrat-controlled New York State Assembly and probably the most powerful guy in our state government at the moment, has fulfilled an earlier prediction of mine and actually engineered a driving subsidy -- I should say, of course, yet another driving subsidy, since there are already quite a few. Shellie's coup involves jiggering with the state's gasoline tax. As the New York Daily News explains it:

As prices at the pump have soared, so have the state's revenues because of New York's 4% fuel tax.

Yesterday's move would freeze the tax at the rate paid when gas costs $2 a gallon - meaning a motorist would save 5 cents in taxes on a $3.25 gallon of gas.

There's also a provision for localities to cap their own gas taxes similarly. If they take advantage of it, Shellie just cost the state and towns about $450 million. I'll defer to JSP on the economics of this, but my guess is that most of it will end up in the pockets of some part or other of the petroleum sector.

Ironically, the Republican proposal from a couple of weeks ago, so much mocked by the Dems and their journalistic outriders, actually made a lot more economic and ecological sense. Those awful ole Repubs, you recall, wanted to invade the Federal gas tax revenue trough and cut every household in America a check for $100. No encouragement to drive, you see, but a much-needed bit of help that would mean the most to the people who need it the most.

Of course it was a derisory amount, but even so, it was a step in the right direction. My buddy Charlie Komanoff has long urged a hefty carbon tax that would be entirely refunded to the public through offsetting reductions in regressive taxes -- though I personally think sending 'em a check, on a per-household or per-capita basis, would be even better. It's the best of both worlds: a strong economic disincentive for burning fossil fuel, but at the same time a very considerable amelioration of the pain, most effective and significant at the lower end of the income scale. In fact, people who used less than the average amount of fossil fuel would actually make money out of it! What's not to like?

I will stop impersonating a policy wonk now. We return to our regularly scheduled deprogramming.

Strain builds on the fault line

The split ticket stuff has me posing this question -- are we about to see a spontaneous spliting of the Orthrian two headed brute?

Instead of much ado about nothing -- which has indeed been our three squares since '66 at least -- is this the massive buildup of subterranean class forces that leads to a great divide a la the 1890's? And no, we didn't get a permanent new major party like we did in the 1850's, but we got the serious morphing of one major from just a second cola party to a plausible enough uncola party.

Any Kos type, at this point, would note with consternation that this uncola party was an even lesser half electorally than it was as the cola alternative -- and stayed so for nearly all of the next 36 years.

But our hypothetical Kosnik would have missed the point, as usual. A real difference had been created, and survived -- a difference that no opportunism of the DLC kind could entirely remove. Once that fault line started expressing itself in the early 90s (I mean the 1890s of course, not the awful more recent 90s), it didn't settle down till it reached hegemony through the New Deal.

Mark me down as an optimist on this one. I'd lay even odds on another such massive social-political upheaval, well before Bush II applies for Medicare.

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.

That government is best which...

From my local hot-air machine, the Boston Globe:
A new New York Times/CBS News poll finds that by 49 percent to 29 percent, those surveyed favored having the party that doesn't occupy the White House control Congress.
So I wonder -- do the folks really want gridlock with all the shit that doth now shower upon 'em? Or is this merely a restraint out of desperation and despair -- hoping that each loathsome Orthrian muzzle will clamp the other?

The same sentence was passed on chicken-lickin' Clinton in '94. They gave Clint and his DLC posse just 2 years, as opposed to the 6 (at least) that the Bush/Rove/Cheney gang have had.

Three to one pretty much reflects the balance of forces between Repubs and Demos.

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 13, 2006

Sowing the wind

Mid-90's DLC-think, in a nutshell:

Indulge the white helots' cultural tics -- entertain 'em with executions, tossing black women off welfare, rounding up undocumented immigrants -- lots and lots of police theater.


'Cause a hot circus is cheaper than increasing their bread ration. Hence economic populism falls off the menu -- a loser, class-war dead end -- and the pogrom-du-jour becomes the palladium of both parties.

Then the press and lib elite wonder how we got all this way to Dick Cheney -- flying kids' limbs in Baghdad -- and data-mining Mom's phone list.

Of course they don't have to wonder for long; clearly the problem is that the people are just no damn good.

May 14, 2006

The fox and the uber-hen

My beloved local rag, the Boston Globe, has a column by bullet-headed Bob Kuttner in which he's very indignant about St Hill's latest veil drop in her dance back to the White House. I refer, of course, to the Murdoch fund-raiser.

Seems Murdoch is switching his ride, 'cause the repubs are floundering.

He did it in the UK, with Blair. And here again, as brother Smith keeps insisting, the Blair experience shows us what we can expect from a triumphant donkeydom here.

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.

I got your Third Way right here

Harking back to an earlier conversation here, those invaluable pollmeisters at Angus Reid have got some very pleasing results for us:
... 30 per cent of respondents would support a third party candidate who promised to build a barrier along the Mexican border and make enforcement of immigration law his top priority. In a separate sample, 28 per cent of respondents said they would vote for a third party contender who promised universal health care.

How would you vote in the 2008 presidential election if a third party candidate ran and promised to build a barrier along the Mexican border and make enforcement of immigration law his top priority?

Democratic nominee


Third party candidate


Republican nominee


How would you vote in the 2008 presidential election if a third party candidate ran and promised universal health care?

Republican nominee


Third party candidate


Democratic nominee


May 16, 2006

Doing well by doing... less evil

It's clear enough why pros inside the Democratic party want to win -- they personally do much much well-er when they win. A party of electoral success, it's called in poli sci. They're all, as Brother Smiff calls 'em, soup hounds.

But why should anybody else want a donkey win?

So the Republicans lose -- to punish Bush/Cheney -- toss the bums out.

I used to like that idea. After all, it's about as close as you get to ye olde chopping block, round these parts; and over a few in-and-out cycles, at least both party elites come to respect the fury of the electorate.

We done just that in my youth -- we forced out LBJ and Nixon through extra-electoral means -- and then the ballot box took over and whacked Ford and Carter.

A nice run, eh? But where'd it end -- with sir Ronnie of the runny red dye, Ronnie the master of unstately greed manor.

Now chop chop chop, its nothing rare -- the Poles seem to have been into a one-try-and-you're out bit, ever since the Stalinoid curtain fell. But this one-trick pony will never be enough by itself, as the Reagan counter-reformation proved so well. If the whole damn deal is drifting right, tossing one party out for the other just makes the swing of the tick-tock tighter. If you set a course to hell, and along the way move into ever tighter zig-zags -- by my plane geometry, that only gets you to the fiery furnace all the faster.

If we want to break out of this ever-narrowing corridor to Hades, we need a bust-out strategy, and a party that wants to win every race every time can't bust out of its own barf bag, let alone chart a 180-degree course back home.

Want a sea change? Want a major shift in the power balance between contending social groups? Well, that'll take a catastrophic event, nothing less. My best guess, if you give the party of Reagan rollback and reaction enough rope -- yes, 4, 8, 12 more years of Dick Cheney (nothing in the constitution says we can't have the same veepire till he croaks ) -- give him enough running room, and boom! we'll have a blowout that'll make Hooverville look like Scarsdale.

Vive la Dixie noire

How about this for a challenge to donkery's fearless insiders: an independent Black electoral party in Dixie -- like the French party in Quebec, a regional ethnic party.

It's a phantasm, of course -- but poetic justice would be served, because of all the Democratic party's supposed constitutencies, the black south has been more thoroughly abandoned than any other by the national party elite, not only as personified by el Rahmbo, but by its own DLC New South patrons as well.

Rahm's recent bitch-slap of Dean for spreading Internet donor dough too thin has this deeper message: "Screw the blacks -- where can they go anyway?" And so a Dixie statewide rebuild is out of the question.

If you're Black and live in the South, Rahm's message for you is -- better move to a swing state where you can help us win prez votes, like Ohio and Florida. Otherwise we got no further use for you, outside your handful of slam-dunk gerrymandered Southern congressional districts.

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.

Prez drops ball, Dems can't pick it up

Prez productions has once again laid a stone egg. The hoped-for red-meat immigration bull run -- "6 thousand helmets to the border" -- has already turned into a farce. It's unraveling so fast all we need is some dumb goober to drill a fellow Guardsman in the ass, to complete the first act. If indeed this show is the work of master political theater impresario Karl Rove, then the poor puffy bastard needs the hook.

But of course the higher donkery can't take any advantage of the debacle -- they're canned shit on this issue. Admittedly, the issue itself couldn't be more radioactive -- but temporizing and pandering only allow the repubs to stay in the driver's seat. The repubs have a corporate cheap-labor agenda that flies right at the red neckery on this one, and eventually the Rahm-Hill project will maybe say let's flank 'em -- let's cry "whack the employer here, he's the villain!"

I say nope nope nope, this one calls for principle, just like the Iraq war does. The donks can't be allowed any wiggle room on this one either. Let 'em stay, make 'em legal -- period. This issue -- generous and humane immigration -- is worth going into a indefinite minority party status to defend. It's ultimately an issue that can only be fought out on a class or race basis. Straddle this one and you'll split your groin. It's like the popular front in the 30's -- if the donks fail to do the right thing here -- if they continue the savvy percentage game -- they'll lose anyway, while just playing the corporations' dummy hand for 'em.

Hey, nothing new there, eh?


By the way -- there's plenty of ways to control the flow honestly and humanely. For starters, raise the peso's dollar exchange rate by 100%. But that's wonk talk, I'm afraid.

The next big thing, we hope

Here's an old split -- liberal Democrats and union Democrats. Note I didn't say "labor Democrats" -- "union" is the important word.

Now both of these pieces of donkery have fouled the people's nest, and neither has any appeal for a broad public. So what's to be done? Nothing will happen inside either moiety of the party without a serious outside challenge -- so first on the order of battle must be a huge mass movement.

Well, it's there -- it's called the job site rebellion. The Latino immigrant community fired the first shot on May Day. I nominate this radical job rights movement as the basis for a serious, plate-shifting, third-party come-together. Talk about a broad constituency -- from the Ecuadorian immigrant getting shat on 'cause he's illegal, to the Seattle anglo mom who can't get flex hours plus day care to fit.

A jobster party -- a populist party for globalized America -- that would tear up the pea patch a bit, dontcha think?

More on the "immigration crisis"

Tim D writes:

One major step in the right direction in terms of solving the “immigration crisis” would be to renegotiate NAFTA and CAFTA so they place people and the environment over profits (pardon the cliché), if not cancel them completely. It should be obvious to anyone with a brain that our comrades south of the border are coming here in droves as economic refugees – victims of neo-liberal snake oil forced on them at virtual gunpoint by the United States and its ruling class. As Jeff Faux, founder of the invaluable Economic Policy Institute pointed out in an article on CounterPunch, "[NAFTA] flooded Mexico with highly subsidized U.S. and Canadian grain, driving between 1 and 2 million Mexican farmers off the land and adding to the supply of desperate Mexicans looking for work." On top of that, the Mexican government under Zedillo did everything it could to dismantle Mexican infrastructure in the early years of NAFTA, which has predictably enough left the country absolutely devastated.

At any rate, I have no qualms about granting full rights to undocumented workers from Latin America (as well as aggressively unionizing them), but I think our priority should be to improve their situation at home, so they need not abandon their families and homelands in search of work in foreign lands.

The Rahmbler

Alan Smithee writes:

Here's the latest from the Rahm Sockpuppet front.


The democrat's Rove must have heaved a sigh of relief last night, especially after the dark night of the soul that was last week's Ohio Massacre. Finally, Rahmbo has something to show his Beltway buddies (besides millions in wasted DCCC dollars) - an almost 50% primary survival rate for his invading Sockpuppet Army!

In the bluegrass mountains of redstate Kentucky, local democrats in four out of five districts fiercely fought the invading Sockpuppet Army. After the smoke cleared two out of four WarDems, Eric Streit in KY-01 and Andrew Horne in KY03, had fallen in pitched primary skirmishes. while Mike Weaver and Ken Stepp (In KY-02 & KY-05, respectively) overran local partisans. A fifth RahmPuppet, Ken Lucas in KY-04 had no primary challanger.

Meanwhile in Pennsylvannia, local democrat insurgents led by Chad Kluko shot down Tom Kovach's bid in PA18 even as Wardem Patrick Murphy's DCCC funded candidacy rolled over local candidate Andrew Warren. Three other RahmPuppets advanced unchallanged to easy primary victories.

The fly in the ointment? The bluestate of Oregon proved too blue for the under-funded Dan Davis, who lost in OR-02 to La Resistance lead by Carol Voisin.

Where does this leave us vis-a-vis the RahmPuppet Army? Truly, the merry month of May hasn't been kind to Rahmses the First. Out of thirteen primary fights in six states, only four sockpuppets managed to overrun local democrat insurgents and advance to the general. With no troops in next week's Arkansas and Idaho primary fights, we're provided a short break in the action before the titanic battles sure to ensue in the California primary. Stay tuned!

Business as usual

Tim D writes:

Murdoch's fundraising effort for Hillary is certainly nothing out of the ordinary, as this August 2004 article from the Guardian UK shows (http://observer.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,6903,1273376,00.html):

"Vodka Martinis poured through $12,000 ice sculptures as US lawmakers scoffed shrimps courtesy of the American Gas Association at a chi-chi Boston nightclub.

Meanwhile, reggae singer Ziggy Marley performed at the week's biggest corporate blowout: a $600,000 beach bash at the New England Aquarium, where steel bands, voodoo dancers and greeters on stilts were paid for by 20 big corporations, including pharmaceutical and tobacco firms. Rupert Murdoch sponsored an afternoon of 'fun and games' at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, while JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs hosted 'an afternoon of seafood and jazz' for Senate and House of Representatives banking committee members.

At the Democratic national convention last week, big business put on its biggest party at a political event. The return on its investment was simple: access and influence...."

Nothing versus less than nothing

Tim D calls our attention to this item in the UK Guardian, by American Spectator mad-dog Quin Hillyer:
Ancient wisdom says you can't beat something with nothing, and on Monday presidential adviser Karl Rove said, in effect, that's what the Democrats are trying to do this year to the Bush administration and its Republican allies.
So far, what's not to like? But then:
There are those of us on the right who miss the days when centrists and even centre-right Democrats provided a bridge between the two parties in Congress. In the effort to woo those centrist Democrats, both sides kept their rhetoric in check. Meanwhile, the very nature of trying to appeal to a centrist group had the effect of keeping all lines of communication open, including those from the hard left to the hard right. A collegiality that once existed in Congress is now lost - notwithstanding a few Democratic throwbacks such as the famously independent and courteous Sen Joe Lieberman of Connecticut or the relatively junior Rep Jim Marshall of Georgia.

But Lieberman and Marshall probably have the right idea: Goodwill and moderation, especially in demeanour and rhetoric, could serve the Democrats politically at the same time as serving the national interest. I sense that American voters right now yearn for good old-fashioned problem-solvers, for people who talk and act like statesmen.

I sure wish we had a branch of this wild-eyed hard-left Democratic Party in my state. Anybody else seen any sign of it, or is Hillyer on acid?

Is that you, Gunnar?

Okay, I'm a bad, mean-spirited person. I admit it.

Some time back I reported here that one of the Junior Woodchucks from Third Way, one of my favorite components of the Fromsphere, had been called up for military service in Iraq:

Sean Barney is a Senior Policy Advisor at Third Way. Serving in that capacity, Sean has been an integral part of the first year of this organization....

Sean is also a Marine Corps Reservist. He enlisted in the military just after 9/11, while a senior member of the staff of Senator Tom Carper. Lance Corporal Barney is a machinegunner with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 25th Marines and in October 2005, he was called up to serve a tour of duty in Iraq.

Now Third Way is quite a War Democrat outfit, so they lost no time in signing poor Barney up to contribute a regular diary on their site, with this unutterably smarmy sendoff:
We know that you will join us in wishing fair winds and following seas to Sean and his fellow Marines who are headed to Iraq.
Yecchh. Barney, like a good soldier, kept his side of the deal, contributing chipper little War Dem travelogues:
We conducted a big raid last night. We were targeting a cell of al Qaeda snipers, but all we found in the house was a large extended family. It’s impossible to know if it was a safe house and the snipers had fled, but the family seemed genuinely innocent. In any case I felt bad for them. We woke them up in the middle of the night and gave them quite a scare. I’m sure the children will not soon forget the sight of Marines with bright lights searching their home and interrogating their father and grandfather at gunpoint. These things are unavoidable under the circumstances, but it is still a shame. One little girl was wearing an American flag t-shirt. Hopefully, she will still be wearing that shirt a week from now.
She will if she knows what's good for her, I expect.

Anyway, I was enjoying Barney's Ernie Pyle schtick quite a lot, but apparently there won't be any more of it. Here's the latest:

May 16, 2006

Editors Note:

On May 12, Sean was seriously wounded in an ambush in Fallujah. While we do not yet know the details of the attack or if others in his unit were hurt, Sean was shot in the throat, treated in Iraq and quickly evacuated to Germany and then to Bethesda Medical Center in Maryland.

His current condition is stable but serious.... Doctors still cannot predict the full extent or permanence of his injuries.

Now not even I am heartless enough to derive any Schadenfreude from poor Barney's predicament. But I can't help wondering whether Barney's colleagues, the cocky little cubicle-bombardier creeps of Third Way, the careerist reptiles who gave us the phrase "Tough and Smart in Iraq," are having any second thoughts. I'd like to think so -- but I doubt it.

In my earlier post I expressed a wish that they'd all go to Iraq. I would now like to repeat that wish, with a windward gun for emphasis. And fair winds and following seas to the lot of 'em, all the way to some particularly nasty circle of Hell.

May 18, 2006

Crack! -- and it's outta here

Arianna Huffington really puts the beechwood bat to old St Hill's jug head -- I mean, wow!

First she marches past our eyes the best tally of notre dame's taundry cravenisms, then calls her brain emptier than a dead man's bladder -- a perfect, Medea-like exercise in Hellenic fury. What a mauling!

And as a final act of contempt, Miz A. compares the Golemess to the latest Hollywood thriller -- most unfavorably.

Why, I've not seen one powerful lady kick another powerful lady's head so far since Maureen Dowd put the shoe leather to Pinch's girl friend Judith Miller on her first day out of jail.

Then again, one needs to carefully consider the booted object. I know of no human head rounder nor more dimpled than Ms Clinton's -- not even Ted Koppel's. So hey, when properly kicked, dead center, with a solid stance and good follow-through -- zoom!

Popeye the windsurfer man

Just read a remarkable, scalpel-worthy post at tompaine.com. Excerpt, just to give you the flavor:
... stand up to the South. Stop telling Southerners what you think they want to hear. Stop worrying about losing votes you probably aren’t going to get anyway. If Democrats can do that, they might just do better than they thought they would.

The samurai treatise Hagakure , written in the early 18th century, explained that the samurai considered himself to be already dead. Because he did not fear death, his courage in battle grew. Democrats need to apply this lesson to their situation, and consider the South lost to their presidential candidates.... Once Democrats no longer worry about winning the South’s electoral votes, they’ll find themselves liberated in ways that benefit them everywhere.

The samurai reference is delightfully pretentious; what's even better is that in this rather lengthy essay about the South, our man doesn't mention Black folks even once. Talk about the missing-mass problem.

Our guy frames the problem in terms of a classic DLC Volvo-versus-pickup line, but re - packaged as a brave resolve to stand up for who you are, like Barry Goldwater did.

Standing tall as a yuppie elitist has its chest-puffing side -- imagine this refined, secular bicoastal shouting at the yahoo majority "I am what I am what I am," like the Peter Lorre character in M.

Well, if you're going to walk the plank, you might as well stride right out there. Only our fellow seems to be hoping to hover over the deep blue sea, halfway between a DLC yacht and a crowded, malodorous barge laden with the hooting millions, all lifetime members of the fellowship of shitty jobholders.

A kinder, gentler thumbscrew

Today's poser:

Q: When is progress not progressive, and reform not part of a reformation?
A: When you're only streamlining the death machine.

Recall that device in Kafka's penal colony -- if you produce a microprocessor-controlled Mark II, is that progress? Or is it progress if you reform the post-torture procedures by applying quick-healing unguents to the scrimshaw?

To me, this is what publicly-funded citizen "skill" upgrading amounts to. Since they can't control the compensation, any increased skill supply only lowers the compensation for the skill. How this settles out will vary some from sector to sector, but a fair chunk will end up as increased corporate earnings -- and to complete the loop, we jobsters pay for this passthrough to the profiteers with our payroll taxes.

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.

The strange power of received ideas

"Clear your mind of cant," said Dr Johnson, but it's easier said than done. I've been using the phrase "War Democrat" for years, until suddenly the light dawned yesterday: that's a tautology.

The Democratic Party, as an institution, has always been quite devoted to war -- historically, even more so than the other faction, though the Repubs in recent years have achieved parity. The Dems aren't yielding their crown without a fight, though, and Lord knows they've been right in there swinging on this Iraq adventure.

So saying "War Democrat" is just to say "Democrat." Where needed -- and it isn't often -- we ought to say "peace Democrat" for the rare dove in the mews, and just assume that "war" is understood in the case of Democrattus vulgaris. I guess we would still need some way of differentiating the real mad dogs, like Lieberman and Schumer, from the garden-variety Huns like Harry Reid. Suggestions, anyone?

This belated insight on my part has opened up an abyss before my feet. Intellectually, I've known for years that the Democrats are the war party par excellence -- and yet, and yet, here I've been talking as if it were otherwise. Is one not master in one's own mental house? Have CNN and the New York Times got cuckoo's-egg ideas lodged in all our nests, no matter how hard we try to clear our minds of their cant? The horror...!

May 19, 2006

"The Lobby" and the great Protestant crusader

This essay by Lenni Brenner originally appeared in Counterpunch.

May 17, 2006

The Lobby and the Great Protestant Crusader

The NYT Confronts Mearsheimer and Walt--Not Quite Head On


I've been a political activist for 54 years. During that time I've had plenty of chances to do stupid things and I've taken full advantage of the opportunities. But I've developed only one perversion: I not only read New York Times editorials, I collect them.

One thing is for certain. John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" has made the big time. It's been discussed in the Times, read by the city's intellectuals and many others worldwide via its website, which 1.9 million individuals hit daily.

'Out of town' born residents may have wondered why "Essay Stirs Debate About Influence of a Jewish Lobby" was placed in the paper's 4/12 Metro section, reserved for stories about corruption trials of Brooklyn Democrats. But, while Jews are only ca. 2% of Americans, there is nothing more local than an attack on Zionism in a city where 8% of the total population, and 30% of all whites, are Jews.

Alan Finder told us that other "opinion journals" attacked the professors, "part of a group of foreign policy analysts, known as realists, who believe that international politics is fundamentally about the pursuit of power," as anti-Semitic. But he took no position on the contents of their critique. The Times hasn't taken a stand on the merits of their arguments for two reasons: Its record on Jewish issues before the creation of Israel in 1948 was shameful and got worse afterwards. A former executive editor spoke for it in the 11/14/01 issue. It's willful blindness to the holocaust was "surely the century's bitterest journalistic failure."

Continue reading ""The Lobby" and the great Protestant crusader" »

A plague on both your houses

The Washington Post tells us:
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 55 percent of those surveyed said they are inclined to look around for someone new rather than support their incumbent members of Congress this fall, the highest level of anti-incumbency since the 1994 midterm elections that dethroned Democrats on Capitol Hill.
Likely voters hate incumbents of both parties -- and with good reason, of course. But rarely do we hear this simple unifying explanation -- more and more average-type folks see our present two party system as one big collusive sack of shit.

So where are the independent candidates? Why ain't third party-type thangs happening?

Cliché wisdom is in order here -- it's always quietest before the storm.

The armies of the night

Talk about Chicken Little suits -- try this nonsense, by one Michelle Goldberg, for size:
Whenever I talk about the growing power of the evangelical right with friends, they always ask the same question: What can we do? Usually I reply with a joke: Keep a bag packed and your passport current. I don’t really mean it, but my anxiety is genuine.
Michelle is so anxious she has apparently written a whole book on this subject, which is probably selling quite well in the various secularist enclaves of our great Christian nation.

These secular suprematists conjuring visions of Christian totalitarian mobs -- corporate dupes readying themselves for a lynching run, and prepared to see a poison cloud as a sign from god not just another corporate Bhopal -- overlook one important point: Blacks are far more likely to be "evangelical" than palefaces, and yet their politics are pure prog on the economic fundamentals. These faith styles of the non-rich and non-famous are just class tattoos -- no more no less. Wave 'em aside and get to the lunch box. This hysteria about armies of zombie cross freaks coming for... us -- it's pure dream work piping right out of the liberal's inner piffle-odium. As such, it would be merely funny if it didn't have an important, and damaging, consequence: it's one of the things that keeps liberals in the mental jailhouse of the Democratic Party. "Progressives" and folk with alternative life styles of various kinds all too often get scared enough of the Bibloids to buy the donk poop: We are your shield -- stay with us -- vote for us -- circle the Volvos with us -- only we can protect you from the the dark moonless night of Christian trite right white moron might.

$80 billion worth of butterfingers

Evidence of the sea change hits big energy in the New York Times today. Imagine 85 Repubs voting to close a loop hole that allows the big oilers to pocket billions that ought to be Uncle's. Nice. But nicer still is this tidbit, buried near the end of the story:
The windfall stemmed in large part from a major error in about 1,000 leases that the Clinton administration signed with energy companies in 1998 and 1999.

To encourage drilling and exploration in water thousands of feet deep, the government offered to let companies avoid the standard royalties, usually 12 percent or 16 percent of sales, for large quantities of the oil and gas they produced.

But the incentives... were supposed to stop as soon as prices for oil climbed above $34 a barrel and prices for natural gas climbed above $4 per thousand cubic feet.

For reasons that are now being investigated, the Interior Department omitted the restriction in 1,000 leases it signed in 1998 and 1999.

"Error," huh? Nice choice of words there. Ooops, there goes what, maybe $80 billion over ten years. What do you want to bet that "error" got somebody a really nice private-sector sinecure?

Odi et amo

Jan Frel on Alternet notes:
The wider public .... clearly aren't buying "John Kerry" or "Al Gore" at this point. A recent New York Times poll has both of them ranking below the worst president in history. Kerry is at 26 percent, and former vice president and presidential candidate Gore is at 28 percent. George W. Bush is pulling in at 31 percent.
And Jan understands why; he quotes Matt Taibbi:
The Democrats … don't want to be anything other than better caretakers.... They don't try to imagine a fundamentally better world, because they actually believe that there isn't one. They're buffoons straight out of Voltaire, running on a platform of "Our mild improvements to this best of all possible worlds."
But here's the conclusion:
All this said, I still want to be pragmatic. And remember, I expect to remain a Democratic Party cheerleader. I know it will be good if there's a Democratic House majority decided on the eve of this Nov. 2, even if it's clear they don't have the capacity to do more than whisper in the graveyard. Because even a President Hillary Clinton still could mean health care -- for millions who don't have it.
*Throws up hands in despair* What's the matter with these people? Can't Jan see that the lousy state of the Democratic party, which he grouses about at such length, is his fault and the fault of people like him -- people who don't like their party and don't believe it what it's doing, but who won't leave it?

Take THAT, Henry

Nice piece in The Nation (God, I thought I'd never write those words) about how the Israel lobby brought the Ford Foundation to heel. The story goes back a few years, but what happened, basically, is that the Lobby bullied the Foundation into steering clear of anybody who thinks the Palestinians have a case. Reminds me of that bit in Mel Brooks' History Of The World where some poor guy has been in the Bastille for twenty years because he once observed, in an unguarded moment, that "Hey, the poor ain't so bad."

No news here, really, except that the Nation piece details the leading role that "progressive" Democratic congressman Jerrold Nadler played in this ideological mugging. This really took me back.

My own memories of Nadler date from twenty-five years and more ago, to the days when he was an 'umble state assemblyman from my West Side district. I was involved in the tenant movement -- there was one, then, kiddies, believe it or not. I got to know Nadler's schtick very well. Year after year, the state legislature would entertain a bill to do away with rent regulation in New York City (which is a state law rather than a local one, and thereby hangs yet another tale of Democratic mal- and non-feasance that would take me too far afield to include here). Year after year, we would get breathless, dramatic, spine-tingling, cliff-hanging bulletins from our stalwart representatives -- like Nadler -- about how hard they were fighting to keep us from sleeping on the sidewalk heating grates. Year after year, they would come home having "saved" rent regulation -- at the cost of a concession here, a concession there, which over the years have effectively gutted rent regulation.

Now Nadler is -- I don't know any kind way to say this -- a remarkably obese man:

He's about five-foot-six, as I recall, and if he's not well over three hundred pounds, then I'm Markos Moulitsas Zuniga. He would arrive at these little tenant-movement cell meetings, in some West Side apartment, swathed in a Brooks Brothers suit incorporating enough fabric to pup-tent a whole troop of Cub Scouts. He always made a beeline for the couch, and sagged into it, swabbing the greasy sweat from his brow with a handkerchief that looked very unhappy about its lot in life. He then gave us a breathless blow-by-blow account of the parliamentary maneuvers, the narrow escapes, the fiendish ingenutiy of the opposition and his own preternatural astuteness in foiling these Snideley Whipsnade tricks.

Well, stop the presses, you're thinking -- isn't this what politicians do?

Indeed it is, and I probably wouldn't remember these little séances with such hallucinatory clarity if it had only been a question of Nadler and his bodily fluids. But what amazed me even then -- and amazes me a lot more now, even though I've seen so much of it -- is the way his auditors hung breathless and admiring on his every word.

You have to understand who these auditors were. Most of them were highly intelligent, strong-minded, little old West Side Jewish ladies who, though they probably weren't actually in Spain during the civil war, would have turned the tide if they had been there. Franco, you little vontz! -- and that would have been that for Franco.

What a sad and baffling sight it was, to see these these ladies who could chew you up and spit you out and not think twice about it, treating this blubbery putz Nadler as if he were Mick Jagger and they had just found their inner groupie.

The problem, of course, was that the ladies were all Democrats -- people who had sagely decided, sometime in the Truman administration, that there was nulla salus extra ecclesiam -- no salvation outside the party. They wouldn't have been so slavish, or so easily impressed, the day after they made this fateful decision, or the year after; but year after year, decade after decade, of Babylonish captivity had taken their toll.

They ended up putting Nadler in Congress, where of course he has distinguished himself as a kind of Grand Inquisitor -- okay, a Petty Inquisitor -- on behalf of Israel. I must say it's droll to think at what a rate the moldy corpse of anti-Semitic old Henry Ford must be spinning in its unhallowed grave, to see the foundation that bears his name taking dictation from the likes of Jerrold Nadler.

May 21, 2006

Straying from the fold

Alan Smithee writes:

We Minnesotans are a pretty thick-skinned bunch, so AIPAC must have done something moderately egregious to get up Betty McCollum's nose. From the state paper of record, the Minneapolis Star-Trib:


McCollum, Israel lobby at odds

The St. Paul Democrat says local activist Amy Rotenberg mischaracterized her April 6 vote on aid to Palestinians.

WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum says a Minnesota activist for Israel's leading U.S. lobbying group maligned her and she wants an apology.

Amy Rotenberg says she did no such thing and that the St. Paul Democrat's charge is "a serious distortion."

Word of the six-week-old flap hit the Internet on Friday, triggering about 150 phone calls and e-mails to McCollum's office.

The mini-tempest stems from McCollum's vote on April 6 as the International Relations Committee approved a bill that would sharply restrict U.S. aid to the new Hamas-led government in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.


Normally I wouldn't go a micrometer out of my way to defend a democrat, but Betty McCollum has one of the better records (+362.5 out of a possible +580 on the Patrick Henry Think Tank's handy-dandy score chart) of a generally venial bunch. Trying to characterize her as 'a supporter of terrorism' is as ludicrous as calling Bret Ratner 'a talented director.' So what's going on with these heavy-handed tactics? Is AIPAC trying to kick errant congresscritters back into line?

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.

Don't even THINK about it

Ever visit the AFL-CIO blog site?

Here's a typical post.

It "updates" one stalled piece of the "new jobs rights movement." Seeing how 1/3 of the job force contends "sure... ya... a union 'round here would be... nice."

But there isn't one ... of course... nor likely to be one anytime soon, unless something big blows the present corporate skull-riggary sky high.

This bill becoming law -- at least by itself -- could hardly be something big, though at any rate it could add some due process facilitation.

And yet as minor a reform as it would be, the bill can't even get itself out of committee. There are plenty of reps in both parties unwilling to vote against "jobholder liberation," so bottled up it must remain till next November -- or Kingdom Come?

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.

The Wall Street journal dreams on

A characteristically contorted and peculiar piece in the Wall Street Journal contains some wonderfully hallucinatory Paul Revere stuff about the imminent Left takeover of the Democratic Party. My favorite line:
If [the Democrats] recapture either the House or the Senate this fall, a legislative drive to withdraw from Iraq cannot be ruled out.
With people like Pelosi, Reid, Emanuel, Schumer, and St. Hill dominating the Democratic Party, I really don't think the elephants have much to fear from the tiny mouse of the Democratic antiwar contingent.

Then there's that Unmentionable Lobby... But hush, the walls have ears.

May 23, 2006

Usable past = imaginary past

I live in Boston, one of America's leading themed cities -- no longer standing alone and unafraid perhaps, we Bostonians still try to think politically in public. Even if its largely the regurgitations of our betters from higher elsewheres.

Take our cherished daily paper, the Globe. It's now a wholly owned subsidiary of New York's world-class Times, to which our paper bears about the same relationship as a national road show production bears to the original on Broadway.

In keeping with our status as re-chewers of the memes of our betters, don't we have a nice reworking by David Greenberg of Peter Beinart's recent haunch of "usable past" -- i.e. the resurrection of the deeds and creeds of famous liberal cold warriors long since dribbly and doddering, if not stone cold dead.

I point it out just for the comedy kick. Beinart via Greenberg is very like what we used to call, back in the late 60's, all those relentlessly crass teen pandering pop remakes: a bubblegum cover.

A few excerpts, with midrash from yours truly:

By the end of his presidency, Bill Clinton had come to be a champion of intervention,
Indeed, the Captain Kirk of the human rights empire.
anti-imperialist activists have conquered the blogosphere
Interesting how the word "anti-interventionist" is studiously avoided for the more contentious "anti-imperialist".
The Democratic party's rift between liberal internationalists and radical anti-imperialists is, of course, decades old.
Priceless prose, of course, but besides, notice the belt and suspenders compulsion -- "radical anti-imperialism" -- as opposed to what?
Beinart persuasively shows that calls by today's liberals for America to actively project its power abroad represent not a betrayal of principle but a return to what liberalism is really all about.
Well, Lord knows that's true enough.
The key moment ..... In 1946 a divide over foreign affairs emerged on the left ... On one side President Truman and like-minded liberals saw in Josef Stalin's ambitions and barbarism a threat to Europe's freedom -- and to America's world position.... In contrast, leftists such as Commerce Secretary Henry A. Wallace favored a conciliatory stand toward the Soviet Union as a step toward peaceful coexistence.
Greenberg tries to make this Harry vs Henry set-to look like a fair fight, won on principle because:
a small band of anti-Communist liberals led by Eleanor Roosevelt and Hubert Humphrey stepped to the fore to provide ideological direction. In 1947, they transformed a faltering liberal-labor alliance known as the Union for Democratic Action into Americans for Democratic Action, proclaiming a ''two-front fight for democracy, both at home and abroad."

ADA believed that ''fellow traveling" -- making common cause with American Communists and looking the other way at Stalin's crimes -- would betray liberalism's core values and hinder its quest for reform.

When in 1947 Truman proposed to help the governments of Greece and Turkey put down Communist insurgencies, Wallaceites called the move ''American imperialism."

Plus ca change ... this dribble could have come right out of a New York Times editorial from the period in question. But let's move on on to act two, the Nambo debacle:
"The Vietnam War, of course, wasn't a necessary outgrowth of liberal internationalism"
Really? Note too that we have skipped the crossing of the 38th parallel in Korea in 1950 -- when containment first clearly morphed into rollback.
Many of these (60's) leftists held no love for Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, or liberalism itself. They saw scant difference between the parties....
Plus ca change... oh, I already said that.

When, like now, the liberals saw the Nam caper going south and turned against it too --

Liberals saw the war as a miscarriage of containment
... not not NOT:
an expression of American imperialism.
For my money, here's the money quote:
Beinart highlights as a telling moment the decision in 1965 by Students for a Democratic Society to delete the word ''totalitarian" from the description of the kinds of regimes it opposed- "a final break with the liberal tradition," he asserts.
Again, I couldn't agree more. The concept of totalitarianism is, or was, the linchpin of liberal preemptive interventionism -- the same kind of ideological construct that "terrorism" is now. Without some mythic notion of the mutant rogue post liberal nightmare -- a totalized state then, a failed state now -- the whole liberal grand Guignol collapses.

Here's the final hand-wringer .

Since 2002, then, the Democrats' dilemma has been that the two main foreign policy issues, Iraq and terrorism, suggest different, if not opposite, remedies. Iraq, underscoring the perils of reckless military intervention, calls forth a fear of unintended consequences and recommends a policy of humility and restraint. In contrast, the continuing danger of terrorism by al Qaeda and kindred groups entails a policy of bold and at times aggressive involvement around the globe.
You can always tell a truly mighty thinker by his tragic view of history.

Tom Hayden finds the center vital

Once again Tom Hayden (a man who gives opportunism a bad name, as somebody once said) shows us -- at The Nation, where else -- what a very awful place SDS/Port Huron types can get themselves into, given enough time and thwarted ambition:
Democrats are slowly but surely uniting around a plan for military withdrawal designed by the Center for American Progress, a think tank linked to Clinton-era Democrats and headed by former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta.

Not all the party leaders agree. Senator Hillary Clinton continues to posture as a military hawk. Senator Joe Biden wants to dilute and divide Iraq into three sectarian enclaves. Neither Senator Charles Schumer nor Representative Rahm Emanuel, who are charged with winning November's elections, have a coherent message on Iraq....

The core propositions of the CAP paper point to a nearly complete US withdrawal in the next eighteen months:

  • Immediately reduce our troop presence at a rate of 9,000 per month to a total of 60,000 by the end of 2006, and to "virtually zero" by the end of 2007
  • Bring home all National Guard units this year "
Okay -- but watch closely now as the re- comes into re-deploy:
  • Double the number of US troops in Afghanistan, place an Army division in Kuwait, an expeditionary force in the Persian Gulf and an additional 1,000 special forces in Africa and Asia
There's a lot more window-dressing, but this is the meat of it. So what does Tommy take away from this?
All disrespect aside, there is a significant acceptance of the peace movement's message buried in this centrist proposal.
Hey, we won! So for now
The peace movement should also be planning now to make it virtually impossible for presidential candidates to campaign successfully in 2008 without committing to a speedy withdrawal from Iraq
Total, final, complete, absolutely no one in a helmet left by... 2009! That's "speedy", Tom? Why yes: anything speedier would be, as Tommy says, "a phantom extreme of 'immediate withdrawal.'"

What, oh WHAT, did Jane Fonda ever see in this guy?

McGovern: a very tame wild man

Remember George McGovern -- the Democratic presidential nominee in '72 -- still the raw-head-and-bloody-bones horrible example of what can happen when the "left" gets control of the party?

George is still alive, at least as much as he ever was, and recently penned an op-ed in the LA Times. George may be very big on acid, abortion and amnesty, but he's no friend of labor. Maybe labor always knew that.

George thinks "more" is not the answer for wage earners here in America -- times have changed. Globality and all that leads this ex-bomber pilot, ex come-home-America candidate to proclaim

I believe we should allow businesses to pay employees based on their skill level. I also believe we should supplement the wages of those who earn the least.
Out of whose pocket, George? But George has the answer -- sorta:
Another way to benefit workers financially is the earned income tax credit.
Talk about convergence -- the Leon Trotsky of the Democratic party promoting the sop DLCer Clinton threw at the bottom-enders, in lieu of a middle class tax cut.

According to the ex-senator from Mount Rushmore, this approach

has the virtue of being supported by a progressive tax system.
His parting words to us before he rides back to that warren in the prarie where he's communing with the big sky gophers:
Liberals must never abandon their core principles of justice and equality. But union leaders who still see American businesses as the enemy must update that vision.
"Update that vision." Wow. And this is the wild-eyed sans-culotte.

May 24, 2006

The ministry of fear

I came up with this on my own -- no help from Hunter's ghost needed:

The problem the donkista head of Orthrus has with us -- "the great middle left" -- is really quite simple: we lefty types aren't paranoid enough.

The Donks need to convince us the Repubs of the Cheney kind are set to criminalize dissent, yes dissent -- any kind of dissent will be equated with terrorism: green dissent, sex habit dissent, immigrant dissent, race dissent, recreational substance dissent, porno dissent.... These will all be tied in by phone and e-mail to terror cells.

The NSA is data mining for... us, all of us. So we need the Donks to win before we're all hauled off by executive order to pre-emptive detention centers.

It's fear that keeps the libs in the tent -- and so, as a corollary, the Donks need the Republicans to be as fearsome as possible.

Lucy holds football for Charlie Brown

Some Kosnik is waxing enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton's recent speech on energy policy to the National Press Club, which contained all the usual Wonkus Maximus blather about feebates and sequestration.

She got one specific, real-world question about something she could do now, and she dodged it:

QUESTION: Regarding fuel economy standards, do you favor making SUVs follow the same CAFE standards as passenger cars? And do you support Congressman Boehlert's bill to raise the CAFE standards to 33 miles per gallon for all vehicles?

CLINTON: Well, I have the greatest respect for Congressman Boehlert. We're going to miss him when he retires at the end of this year. He has studied this issue, and he comes down sort of in the middle of where a lot of people are. Some want to go to a higher MPG; others not so ambitious.

I think we can stage this in a way that is not disruptive to the economy, and by giving the right incentives and support to the car companies, manage this over the next 10 to 15 years.

The poor Kos diarist, of course, greeted this classic Clintonian performance as if it were the Second Coming. I was pleased, however, to see that most of the Kosnik comments on the diary declined to share the diarist's Candide-like optimism. These folks aren't all fools by any means. Now if they could just get over the Democratic Party....

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 25, 2006

Counting on the Count

Tom Lantos, freedom's friend, is at it again -- take a look at this from the Globe's op-ed page, which is just the place for such booby-prize, not-fit-for-front-line efforts at opinion shaping.

What's he up to, the Bay Area Impaler, with this crafty detailed plea for our noble nation-building effort in Afgooglestan? "Yes we can," he says, we can make a new society, one of peace and contentment. But distibuting ballot boxes ain't enough -- we need to build a broad intercommunal inter-ethnic tolerance, where now there is nothing but mutual suspicion and blood in the eye.

How? Through civilized boots on the ground -- specifically, American boots, and lots of 'em. No other boots will do, especially Euroboots.

Do I hear scepticism? Do I hear triage tolling? Do I hear "let's move on, this is a basket case"?

Shame on you -- that's not how Rome was built.

May 26, 2006

Yes, The New Yorker

Photo of Jeffrey Goldberg at the ADLThe latest New Yorker mag contains a very entertaining long piece on the Democratic Party by Iraq war booster Jeffrey Goldberg. (Goldberg is shown at left accepting the second annual Daniel Pearl award from the ADL. The winner of the first award, delightfully enough, was the Archwindbag himself, Thomas Friedman.)

The bottom line of Goldberg's piece, of course, is that in spite of the best efforts of fine, intelligent, hard-headed, patriotic folk like Third Way, the Democrats are still doomed because they're such wild-eyed lefties -- the cases in point being, guess who, Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton. The latter could, it seems, tour the country disembowelling immigrants and still not convince the public that she's on their side. Americans -- we may be crazy, but we're not stupid.

Goldberg's bottom line, silly as it is, doesn't matter -- who cares what Goldberg thinks? -- but purely as theater-of-cruelty, it's a wonderful hatchet job: probably the most accurate, and certainly the most interesting, piece of reportage that I have ever seen from Goldberg's pudgy hand. It's hard to say which poor brute in the Democratic menagerie comes off looking worst. I think it's probably Nancy Pelosi, who unlike Hillary, was naive enough to give Goldberg an interview:

Nancy Pelosi made a game attempt at ferocity when I talked with her. "Here's my thing and I will say this and you have to bear with me. I'm a mom.... Think 'lioness'. This is how Democrats are. You threaten our children... you threaten our country, you're dead. You're dead."
Tony Soprano in drag -- great stuff, huh? But I can't start quoting, or I'll never stop. Barack Obama threatens military action against Iran. Howard Dean free-associates about Dick Cheney's skills as a hunter. Middlebrow historian Sean Wilentz wheels up the big intellectual guns. Chris Dodd suggests that Democrats should run to Bush's right on National Security, like Kennedy did with the "phoney missile gap" -- Dodd's words -- and then hastily adds that nowadays, of course, we have a real missile gap, or something even better.

Since I'm a nerdy kind of guy, what struck me most was an extended series of deep-thought analytic ruminations about the composition of the electorate. The electorate consists of liberals, moderates, and conservatives. There are about twice as many conservatives as liberals, and the rest are moderates. And there you have it: the Pythagorean Theorem of contemporary American politics.

Now this kind of sophomoric, intellectually impoverished, one-dimensional farrago of empty categories would be unsurprising if it sprang from the febrile brain of Goldberg himself. But no; these shallow vaporings come straight from the mighty intellects at Third Way.

Goldberg allows as how the Dems might possibly win back the House in '06, purely on public disgust with Bush and Co. But he's pretty skeptical about their prospects in '08. And dear me, much as I hate to agree with a guy like Goldberg, I think he may have it exactly right.

May 27, 2006

Hillary: Virtue is the best policy

Hillary on a very bad day Quote fragment of the day:

...Not just a personal virtue but an important part of any sensible.... policy.

That's our lady of infinite ambition, St Hill on energy conservation. But ain't it just the perfect all-season liberal tag line?

Doing bad by doing good

The fear of failed states -- that's the terror war's version of the cold war's fear of successful states.

An irresistible itch to help -- that's how a goo-goo tolerence of empire gets built.

Shall we snatch sources from deep into the 11th century? The crusades -- take a quick look at the alibi of the conquistador -- and closer to our burgher home time, land in the missionary position.

Folks, we need total abstinence here -- just say no. No helpful intervening. Ever. Leave the monsters to be dealt with by their own victims. Stay out. Stay away. We can only make it worse.

Good intentions are easily reshaped to "private gain" purposes -- take trade and gunplay -- they always get mixed into each other.

It started with Jefferson and the Barbary coast: the corsair harbor states were stealing our wares (an anti-competitive Brit setup in fact), so Marse Tom hit the shores of Tripoli.

Well, not the Massah himself -- that I could condone -- if the commander in chief is required to lead the raid or expedition in person, and challenge the top bad fellah to a little mano a mano -- oh, but I dribble on here.

You get the picture. We goo-goos can't resist giving help. But our hands are filled with poison apples, whether we like it or not. Stay home. Don't even send flowers. One unilateral bag of corn is too much, and a billion bombs is never enough.

The Kos-tapo

There's something wrong with me, I admit it. I can't seem to stop reading Daily Kos. I know, I know, I need a twelve-step program, or something. But it's just irresistible -- like slowing down on the highway to take in all the gory details of a thirty-car pileup.

Pretty dreary stuff, for the most part. Occasionally, though, there are wonderful moments, like this contribution from "Hunter", entitled The Tao of Troll Rating. Hunter is apparently a member of the Kos inner circle, and his/her 2,650-word treatise bears all the marks of an ex cathedra pronouncement. So far it has attracted nearly a thousand comments.

witch huntingIt reminds me of Malleus Maleficarum, the fifteenth-century treatise on witch-finding: the same obsession with categorizing and sub-categorizing, the same elaboration of process and procedure.

"Hunter" gives six characteristics of trolls and distinguishes five main types. He (or she, of course; but somehow, I think it's a guy) provides seven guidelines for deciding what is a troll and what isn't. It's really quite an intellectual edifice. Not on the same scale as the Malleus, of course, but not bad for an evening's work by a blogger with no theological training. Here are the learned, long-dead friars:

...It first must be noted that there are, as was shown in the First Part of this treatise, three kinds of witches; namely, those who injure but cannot cure; those who cure but, through some strange pact with the devil, cannot injure; and those who both injure and cure. And among those who injure, one class in particular stands out, which can perform every sort of witchcraft and spell, comprehending all that all the others individually can do.... And this class is made up of those who, against every instinct of human or animal nature, are in the habit of eating and devouring the children of their own species.

The friars sure had their talking points worked out, didn't they? Here's Hunter:

... there's been an accepted practice of returning a retaliatory troll rating on someone in an argument who is very, very clearly abusing the ratings rules themselves. In that this is a nice Darwinian pressure that tends to remove overactive troll raters from the Trusted User pool themselves, I... can't see fit to argue with it. If the troll rater is quite clearly breaking the rules as laid out themselves, it is generally accepted practice.

Hey, nobody said this stuff was easy. Make a little effort, okay?

More interesting even than Hunter's Torah is the swarming Talmud of comments it has attracted. It's very difficult to do justice to these. Here's one, picked, I swear, absolutely at random -- I closed my eyes, jiggled the mouse, and clicked:

You've gone off topic again (4+ / 0-)

Are you doing that intentionally, or can you not control it, or do you not notice it?

Your point about a lack of redress is reasonable. You're wrong, in that one can simply post another comment saying "what the hell was that about?", as many do, but what I think you mean is that the person troll rated has no other means of retaliation.

Then you go off into Lieberman land. Can you do that in a separate diary? We're trying to have a discussion here.

I can only conjecture that the institutional fetish, the one that keeps these folks in the Democratic Party in the first place, is also driving this passionate debate about exactly how the Kos troll-purge should be run.

I'm a veteran of Left sects -- fanatical little groupuscules who would call each other Nazis over some refined point of doctrine. But it gives me a strange, uncanny feeling to realize that the Democratic party, at least at the Kos level, is a sect too. Would have thought a sect needs to be about something -- but apparently not.

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.

Homousion, homoioousion, homunculi

The LA Times has a nice roundup about the "new liberal hawks" circling over the donkey train as it lumbers back to power. It's written by one Jacob Heilbrunn a chap who set himself up years ago as an expert watcher of "neo-cons" as they migrated between the donks and elephants -- second-generation cold war donkey liberals, then first-generation cold war elephant neo-cons.

Well, the latest migration of recently fledged interventionist zealots seems to be back toward the big-D Democrats, a return to home perch, so to speak.

Seems like the very palest of whiffs of the glory days when "give em hell" Harry and Dean Acheson led a vital center charging right over the 38th parallel, into two blood baths and 35 years' worth of military potlatch.

PS -- here's our man Heilhoffer as prophet, vintage 1996:
As the Gingrich forces remake the Republican Party, neoconservatism itself will most likely end up as a footnote in future histories of the Cold War, a relic of old battles as obscure as the struggles over the true nature of the Trinity in the waning days of the Roman empire.

Clinton could do worse than work to create a new vital center that steers a course between the Charybdis of left-wing isolationism and the Scylla of right-wing jingoism.

I'll leave it to Father Smith to wax indignant over this high-handed dismissal of the Council of Chalcedon.

May 29, 2006

Gradgrind for President

David Sirota is starting to have his doubts about Hillary Clinton. I know, I know, better late than never, or so they say, but is that even true? It's possible to be so late that the party's over, and you'd've been better off staying in bed.

Being a fair-minded, judicious kind of guy, David notes that he has praised Hillary in the past. Presumably he wants to let Hillary know that he could go either way, and no doubt Hillary has taken due notice.

In an idle hour I followed the link to David's attagirl for St Hill. Pay dirt. It's old news now -- a speech Hillary gave in the Senate about the minimum wage, last October -- but our David calls it "terrific"and says, "on economic issues [she] is showing some fight." Here's a snippet of the speech, which David quotes, apparently with approval:

I'm all for rich people. Ever since my husband got out of office and got into the private sector, I think it's great.... I have nothing against rich people. That's part of the American dream. But with all due respect, it is not rich people who made America great. It is the vast American middle class. It is the upward mobility of people who thought they could do better than their parents...
Is it just me, or has Hillary's always-evident self-satisfaction reached an exceptionally vomitous level here? And how can Sirota possibly be so tone-deaf that he doesn't hear it?

Then one can't help wondering how it feels to be St Hill and say things, day after day, like the "middle class made America great" and what drives our civilization is the desire to "do better" than one's parents. Which would be worse -- that she's saying what she knows is not true, or that she really believes it?

I think she does really believe it. A peek into Hillary's mind -- it's like the gates of Hell open for just a moment and you see the demons dancing and the flames leaping. Doing better than your parents is the Philosopher's Stone of the professional-class striver's character. This crass, soulless, heartless, impious obsession with doing better than somebody else, particularly your own mother and father, and the conviction that this diseased mania is the bedrock of human virtue -- if ever there was a Miserific Vision, this has got to be it.

Pundophilia, a morbid kink

Walter Lippman

A fragment from my reading notes.... on a Henry Wallace bio:

We oughta find the hell out where they got that self-important flea Walter Lippmann buried. Go dig the guy up, and then we oughta periodically force one of these long-toed liberal elitist muscular-secularity types to make love to his dried remains -- Aztec style in June, and Eskimo style in mid-January.

Wake me up when it's over

Okay, I've fallen off the wagon, and gone on a Daily Kos bender. So sue me. Here's the latest Great White Hope being touted by the Kosniks: one Francine Busby. She is running for Congress in California's 50th District, which is usually Republican, but since the incumbent is actually in jail at the moment, the Donkey Party thinks it might have a chance.

A few highlights from Francine's very lengthy "issues" page:

  • Provide Tax Credits for Small Businesses and the Self-Employed to Lower the Cost of Health Insurance
  • Oppose Amnesty [for illegal aliens --ed.]
  • Oppose Increases in the Gas Tax
  • Fund and Reform "No Child Left Behind" to Make It Less Punitive and More Productive in Holding Schools Accountable
  • Create Opportunities for More Students to Afford College by Letting Families Save for College Tax-Free Loans and by Restoring Funding for Loans for Middle Class Families
  • Start Withdrawing Troops [from Iraq] as Soon As Benchmarks are Met
  • Get Tough on Countries Sponsoring or Harboring Terrorist Like Iran and Syria
  • Restore Military Experts' Input to Decisions in the War On Terrorism Instead of Relying Only on Washington Politicians
  • Cut Taxes for Small Businesses and Working Families ....
Oh, And Fully Fund The Capital Letters Protection Act of 2006 -- sorry, sorry, that was a little acid flash there. They don't happen very often any more, but they're quite vivid when they do.

May 30, 2006

Man bites dog

Found on my daily headline scan:
Now that's news.

Kos-a Nostra

From Alan Smithee:

Hullo Michael,

Since my involvement with slime has until recently been pretty much limited to Hollywood film production, I've never been into anything really dirty such as energy trading, arms dealing or politics. So I'm a bit out of my depth when I run across inter-blog feuds like this one:


May 29, 2006 --Time to take the gloves are off with the agitprop purveyors at Daily Kos (in addition to that other phony "liberal" web site, some of the content of which could be called DUng). Yesterday, Daily Kos, which likes to regularly steal content from WMR and post it and then proceed to expound on it while trashing the original provider, did it again.


The above references this kosniki "diary" thing:

Oh my! Cheney and Jefferson both tied to Nigerian bribery scandals

Which is a convoluted, rather poorly written piece about the Jefferson bribery scandal.

Personally, I can't make heads or tails out of it. But I couldn't resist passing it along to you, a much more sophisticated observer of political wingnuttery, with this question: Is there fire to go with all this smoke? Or is it a lot of hot bloggosphere air?

You give me too much credit. I can't follow it either. Funny stuff, though.

Kos and Co. seem to think Madsen is a "conspiracy theorist," and Madsen thinks Kos and Co.are "neocons." I don't know anything about Madsen, and while I think "neo-con" might be a bit over the top as applied to Kosreich today, give 'em a year or two. And "agitprop purveyor," of course, is far too complimentary.

I'm inclined to discount Kos' "conspiracy theory" accusation -- well, I'm inclined to discount anything from Kos, of course, but especially this. The idea of "conspiracy theory" is one of the great crackpot-realist intellectual defense mechanisms.

Wie Gott im Franken-reich

I note with amusement that Al Franken's radio show today featured two of our local whipping boys, Peter Beinart and David Sirota. Pleasing. This is the "progressive" opposition, folks -- a juggernaut of custard.

May 31, 2006

Big ideas. No, REALLY big ideas

Are you for YOYO or WITT -- You're On Your Own or We're In This Together?

Too glib -- too smarmy for you? Do you feel both left out and left in as well as left over?

Well, Jared Bernstein of the Economic Policy Institute is throwing all his weight behind WITT. (EPI is a thriving inside-the-beltway outfit -- mission: build a better bigger lunch box.) Jared is rejecting "YOYO economics," which slips us all the corporate alibi

...for why we cannot shape our participation in the global economy to meet our own needs, or provide health coverage for the millions who lack that basic right, or raise the living standards of working families when the economy is growing.... WITT policies target these challenges head on....
Ready for the beef? Sorry, there's an important disclaimer you have to hear first:
These outcomes occur not through redistributionist Robin Hood schemes.
Robin Hood? What's the guy rabbiting about here?

A few chin strokes later I figure it out -- no prole blandishments, no class war, no retake threats, no hefty 'high net worth' tax promises, like that Bolshie, Bobby Reich is proposing. No, instead we're talking about

... creating an economic architecture that reconnects our strong, flexible economy to the living standards of all, not just to the residents of the penthouse. As the pie grows, all the bakers get bigger slices.
This Way To The Egress, suckers. Give us time, we'll rebuild the deal. We'll grow the system so results get to be more equal -- over say 30 -50 years, right about at the pace we grew less equal. Only guys, there's a fire to put out first:
restore some fiscal sanity and basic competence at all levels in national government....
Aiieee! Oh no, oh no -- not Doc Rubin, no, just shoot me, anything but Doc Rubin, der Weisse Engel with his smart-axe fiscal surgery. Jesus, gang -- sounds like a lot more 'down' ahead before we see any 'up'. And shit, we're scheduled for surgery "hopefully ... in November."

So what light are we asked to see at the end of this tunnel?

There are actually a number of good, big ideas floating around to create precisely the architecture America needs.... There are doable plans for universal health coverage....
Good, cause we're gonna need one of them after the Doc performs his 'painless' amputations and extractions.

Here are a few more good big ideas:

...boosting retirement savings.... creating an ambitious partnership between business and government to seriously pursue energy independence... There are roadmaps for tapping the growth-enhancing benefits of globalization to replace the domestic labor demand it saps from our job market.... Put it all together, and we create the potential to reconnect the well-being of working families to the growing economy.... The YOYOs' chickens are coming home to roost, and many of us await with great hope the arrival of the much more optimistic, can-do, WITT agenda.... The only question: who has the vision to lead the way?
The question should have been "who doesn't have the vision to lead the way?" And of course there are two ways to read that question, and two answers.

Answer One: Who doesn't, indeed? Either or both big parties can fuck us. Answer Two: I know one that doesn't -- Jared and his pals in the donkey jamboree.

Clash of the Titans?

Inside the wooden donkey now positioned right in front of the gates to power, a titanic battle for control is underway, between former Vermont gub and internet candidate for noble defeat Howie Dean and DLC boss Al From. Or so it seems to Michael Carmichael, writing for Counterpunch.

Is it all to puff Dean as Galahad, questing the grail of the people's will:

Governor Howard Dean led a grassroots movement of party activists to reclaim the levers of power for traditional Democratic policies: constitutional democracy, the open society, multilateralism, social welfare, a national health service, national security and homeland security realized through diplomacy rather than by military confrontation and many more substantive and socially progressive policies besides. While Governor Dean faced a broad field of DLC-backed opponents parroting Mr. From's mantras redolent of neoconservative cant, each one crumbled like a rag doll before him. Today, Governor Dean is leading a through-going reorganization of the Democratic Party that relies on the energy provided by grassroots activists. At the same time, Governor Dean has de-emphasized the right-leaning consultancies and pressure groups preferred by the DLC.
Hmm. This must be some other Howard Dean -- sure ain't the one I know. But Carmichael's real gravamen seems to be just more DLC-AIPAC pig piling long after the whistle has blown. Why else pretend the Fromniki are breaking totally with the pure multilateral tradition enshrined in the records of Carter and Clinton? Nonsense, of course -- our two cotton south prezez both displayed a very dominant unilateralist hemisphere when necessary, and at times both fancied Israel's role... when useful.

Impeach cobbler

A coward and a softy Rahmbo ain't -- so why hasn't he called for impeachment, since the people's will is drifting that way?

Simple: he figures it gains no votes he can't already count on, and it all might backfire and energize now drowsy yokel elements of the 'Pubs faith-and-security base.

Mark my words, all you lovers of political theater -- there will be an impeachment move after the fall biennial classic. So possess your souls in patience, and focus your guns meanwhile on something important -- like the Iraq-Afghan quag.

About May 2006

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

April 2006 is the previous archive.

June 2006 is the next archive.

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

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