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September 2006 Archives

September 1, 2006

More polite than I would be

Here's Jonathan Tasini, a propos MoveOn's underhanded attempt to manufacture an endorsement for Hillary -- or at least, a non-endorsement for Tasini -- by its members:
It's great that MoveOn has responded to the many New Yorkers who wanted the organization to poll its members about the Senate race in New York. I'd just like to suggest that the respective bios of myself and my opponent, Hillary Clinton, left out some important facts.

My friends at MoveOn cite Hillary Clinton's votes for issues that every Democrat supports--for example, protecting Social Security--but the poll neglects to say that she supports NAFTA and other free-trade agreements that hurt workers (I oppose so-called "free trade"), that she sat on the Board of Wal-Mart for six years, that she believes in discrimination because she opposes same-sex marriage (which I support), that she advocates criminalizing flag-burning (I'm opposed to such an attack on the First Amendment), that she has never been for single-payer health care and is the second highest recipient of lobbyist money (I'm campaigning for single-payer, "Medicare For All" and do not get any corporate lobbyist money).

Your "friends at MoveOn", Jonathan? With friends like these....

MoveOn comes through for Hillary

Predictable denouement of the rigged MoveOn endorsement poll, Tasini vs. the Infernal Hill:
From: "Eli Pariser, MoveOn.org Political Action" help@list.moveon.org>
Date: September 1, 2006 4:53:44 PM EDT
Subject: No U.S. Senate endorsement

Dear MoveOn member in New York,

We wanted to let you know, MoveOn won't be making an endorsement in the U.S. Senate Democratic primary. In voting over the last day, neither Hillary Rodham Clinton nor Jonathan Tasini garnered the two- thirds support from MoveOn members necessary for an endorsement. The margin in our online vote was 56 percent for Clinton and 44 percent for Tasini.

The MoveOn election effort in New York and across the country will stay focused on beating vulnerable Republican incumbents in House races—working to end one-party Republican rule in Washington.

September 3, 2006

The Fasc-O-Meter®

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

Here are some sample Fasc-O-Meter readings:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*** Available to the trade only.

September 6, 2006

Hey, you got a better idea?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Democrats: The party of "Yes, but..."

J Alva Scruggs sent this along:

Here's a classic tack to the right by Republicans, legitimized and supported by a me-too "counterproposal" from Democrats:
Congress Takes Up Surveillance Bills

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration gave guarded support to several terrorist surveillance bills Wednesday as Congress took up the sensitive issue of how to give legal backing to the president's warrantless wiretapping.

The acting assistant attorney general told a House Judiciary subcommittee that legislation backed by the House GOP leadership showed promise and that the president had expressed support for a measure from Sen. Arlen Specter, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman....

One Democratic alternative, sponsored by Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the intelligence committee, makes clear that surveillance must be conducted under the 1978 law but changes procedures to speed up the process.

So let me get this straight. The President, casting aside the figleaf G-string of FISA, has inserted his... Well. Ahem. Let's abandon the metaphor. He's been bugging our phones on an immense, unprecedented scale. He's been doing this in clear violation of the law, and his defense is that well, he's the President, he can violate the law when he feels like it.

And the enraged response of the Official Opposition, aka the Lesser Evil, is... Hang him from a lamppost? Impeach him? Tie his hands with new oversight mechanisms and keep him honest? No, no, you poor naif, none of the above. The Official Opposition says, as usual, that whatever enormity the Greater Evil has committed, we will bless half of it -- but only half! Not a bit more! We are, after all, the Lesser Evil!

Of course, any child can see -- provided that child is not a registered Democrat, and thus brain-dead by definition --any child, I say, can see, that this process will iterate. Two steps forward, one step back, for the Americastapo. Lather, rinse, repeat, and where do you end up, after a surprisingly short time?

September 7, 2006

More national security democrats

J Alva Scruggs writes:
Ben Cardin, who voted for the Patriot Act and, after it had proven to be a disastrously bad expansion of executive power, voted for its renewal has won the endorsement of (god give me strength) "Dutch" Ruppersberger. Cardin is running against Kweisi Mfume, who has stated that he opposes the Patriot Act and would not have voted for it had he been in office.

Endorsement story:


Maryland Democratic Reps. Al Wynn and Elijah Cummings will endorse former Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.) on Wednesday in his bid to win the party's Senate nomination in the Sept. 12 primary, a spokesman for Mfume's campaign said.

The Democrats in the Maryland congressional delegation have split along racial lines. Wynn and Cummings, who are black, will back Mfume while Reps. Steny Hoyer, the minority whip, and Dutch Ruppersberger, who are white, have contributed money to Rep. Ben Cardin. Only Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) has not given money to either candidate.

About 30 percent of Maryland's population is black and the community is an important segment of the Democratic vote, especially in Baltimore and Prince George's County, which account for more than 75 percent of the Democratic nominee's vote, according to the Baltimore Sun. Forty percent of primary voters could be black.

Patriot Act votes:

Cardin, judging by his public record, is a biddable nonentity. He's running on a platform of "licking cancer by 2015".

Here's a picture of "Dutch". My co-blogger commented that even in a photo-op, he instinctively extends his hand to conceal evidence:

Lieberman fellated by Senate colleagues

From The Hill:
If Sen. Joe Lieberman’s Democratic colleagues are anxious to get rid of him, they gave no indication of it in their first gathering since Lieberman lost a Connecticut primary....

“I don’t think there’s any of us out there saying ‘Goddamn, I hope Joe doesn’t win,’” said Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.)....

Democratic senators applauded Lieberman at their weekly policy luncheon, when Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) asked him to brief the caucus on upcoming port-security legislation.

“Welcome back,” said Reid.... After Reid’s introduction, Lieberman got “a warm ovation,” according to Minority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.)....

“I’d always like to work with Joe Lieberman,” [said] Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)....

“I’m not going to settle for a handshake. I want a big hug,” Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) told Lieberman....

A hug? Physical contact with the little Bridgeport toad? Truly, a Democrat is capable of anything.

Liberals: easily impressed by spies

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

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

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

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

Don't answer that question.

The horse slaughterer

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


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

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

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

September 8, 2006

Who's the vilest of them all?

Tryng to decide who's the worst Democrat is a constant source of frustration; they keep outdoing each other in squalor. I've decided it needs to be a rotating office, like the Security Council chairmanship: Vilest Democrat of the Day, or Reptile Du Jour.

Today, it's all about Joe Biden, who is not only awful but really, really stupid:

"U.S. Sen. Joe Biden yesterday said Iraq should be subdivided into a loosely federated republic, with each of the country's warring factions given its own area to control.

Biden said the republic would not be a democracy, but it would not be a threat to its neighbors or a haven for terrorists."

Translation: Israel might generously deign to accept this "solution," and allow us to withdraw some of our troops. But it gets better:

"[Biden] played up his hawkish credentials yesterday, saying he convinced former President Bill Clinton to go to war in the Balkans and said he would put 2,000 U.S. troops in Darfur under NATO command if he were president.

Were the United States to pull out of Iraq with the situation unresolved, the result would be chaos, a regional war and oil at $120 a barrel, he said.

'If we leave Iraq, and if we trade a dictator for chaos, we will pay the price for generations,' Biden said....

'The only mistake I made,' Biden said, 'was underestimating how ridiculously incompetent these guys [i.e. Bush & co. -- Ed.] would be.'"

Biden is not content with redrawing the map of the Middle East, and claiming credit for Clinton's Balkan Guernica; he has some ideas for the home front too:

"We are a nation at war," Biden said. "That makes it all the more incomprehensible that, five years after 9/11, [Bush] has failed to mobilize the American public for the struggle. There is no national energy policy, no national service, no real sacrifice except from our soldiers ... and their families."

At home, [Biden] said he would tighten security at ports and chemical plants and on public transit, hire 1,000 new FBI agents and 50,000 new police officers....

He also pledged to repeal most of Bush's upper-income tax cuts and said he would put those revenues into a fund -- which he estimated would come to $10 billion a year -- for homeland security measures.

Kind of a novel revision of the Robin Hoood schtick -- take from the rich and give to the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Rubin, Rubin, I've been thinking...

J Alva passed along this link:
... as Democrats hope to take over control of the House from Republicans and as an aspiring presidential class of 2008 becomes more assertive, the Hamilton Project, named after the founding father and onetime Treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton, is arguably [ former Clinton Treasury Secretary and financial Svengali Robert] Rubin's most overt political act since he stepped down from the Treasury in 1999....

Housed in the Brookings Institution, the initiative embraces a number of mainstream economic prescriptions - like the necessity of equitable international trade agreements, the virtues of a balanced budget, and making economic growth more broad-based....

But by addressing issues like the costs to the economy of excessive litigation and regulation, Mr. Rubin intends to make the project a laboratory for the type of pragmatic, ideology-free policies that appeal to the project's Wall Street advisers while also hoping to lure Democratic presidential candidates away from populist economic positions. And with Mr. Rubin and his successor and friend Lawrence H. Summers on board, it will also be a training ground for the next crop of financiers with ambitions to shape policy in a Democratic administration.

They include those who have done so, like Roger C. Altman, the chairman of Evercore and a former deputy Treasury secretary; those who aspire to do so, like Steven Rattner of Quadrangle, the private equity firm; and, perhaps most important, younger Wall Street executives just now flirting with the idea.

It is with this last group of executives, drawn largely from the booming world of hedge funds and private equity, that Mr. Rubin has loomed large as an Obi-Wan Kenobi figure.

In the 1980's he cultivated their early careers as arbitrage traders at Goldman Sachs, and he is now guiding them in the ways of securing influence in Washington.

Eric Mindich, who runs Eton Park, a $5 billion hedge fund, led Goldman's arbitrage desk at the age of 25, and in 1994, at 27, became Goldman's youngest partner ever.... He is also a contributor to Mr. Rubin's favorite senator, Kent Conrad, the Democrat from North Dakota.

Then there is Richard C. Perry, who left Goldman's arbitrage desk in 1988 to form Perry Partners, now an $11 billion hedge fund. And Thomas F. Steyer, the founder of Farallon Capital, a $16 billion hedge fund, who also worked under Mr. Rubin in the 1980's and was an adviser to Senator John Kerry's presidential campaign in 2004.

So, fellow plebeians, do you feel like this Wall Street gang is going to be looking out for our interests if they ride the donkey to victory? It's a bit like Dirty Harry's famous poser: "You've got to ask yourself a question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?"

Vote at your own risk

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

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

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

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

Down with the flag

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

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

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

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

Heeere's... Hillary!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 9, 2006

Nanny says: No dope, kids, and stay safe over there

The indispensable J Alva Scruggs writes:

"On Thursday afternoon, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., succeeded in passing his amendment to add $700 million to funding for the U.S. military's counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan."

Why not just buy it all? Seriously. I bet the entire crop could be had for $700 million and lord knows the farmers need the money.

"And Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., worked with Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, to gain GOP support for an amendment that would require the Pentagon to send Congress a contingency plan to protect military and other personnel in Iraq should sectarian violence continue to escalate."

That's just risible. How 'bout bringing them home? That would keep them safe.

This way, Mistah Schumer. Truck's waitin', Mistah Schumer.

From J Alva Scruggs:
Sept. 6 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is "very serious'' about forcing a vote this month on legislation to place punitive duties on all Chinese imports, his spokesman said.

"We need to see real results on the currency. We need real signs of progress,'' the New York Democrat said today, according to spokesman Eric Schultz."


Bull goose Democrats continue to think nativist pandering and know-nothing economics will help them, even when the Republicans have locked in that pitch and can offer the full crackpot monty.

September 10, 2006

If you liked Lynndie England...

... You'll love the new Army. The Demo wonkhood's "boots on the ground" strategy appears to be working, at least in one sense of the word:
Army to hit 2006 recruit goal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In a big turnaround from a year ago, the U.S. Army will achieve its 2006 goal of 80,000 new soldiers despite lingering reluctance by some potential recruits to join amid the Iraq war....

Adding recruiters, sweetening enlistment bonuses, accepting older volunteers and even tolerating more tattoos helped the active-duty Army rebound from fiscal-year 2005 when it fell almost 7,000 recruits short of 80,000....

But some defense experts argued the Army, which provides the bulk of ground forces in Iraq, had been able to make its goal only by taking lower-quality volunteers who previously might have been rejected.

"The real question is: how low are we willing to let the quality of the Army decline while we continue in this war?" asked Lawrence Korb, assistant secretary of defense in charge of manpower issues under former President Ronald Reagan.

... Critics note the Army has accepted more recruits with past criminal conduct or medical problems and more from its lowest acceptable category of recruits, as well as hiking the age cutoff for enlistment to 42 from 35.

Korb, now an analyst with the Center for American Progress, said of this year's recruits, "There are at least 5,000, maybe as high as 10,000 people, who five years ago couldn't have gotten in."

Look on the bright side -- this'll be great for YouTube.

September 11, 2006

Another movement from MoveOn

Alan Smithee writes:

Ya know, I'm the first to admit that I'm not the most politically sophisticated person on the planet. Nobody is ever going to mistake me for Noam Chomsky. But, Holy John Hoyt! Even I know better than this:

Either you're with us, against us, or you don't matter:

... There are NOT two candidates in the race.... there are in fact four candidates and two write-ins for the 7th. The candidate I support, and will vote for in November, is the Green Party’s Dave Chandler. Yet he is not acknowledged by MoveOn.org, which won’t even allow for a write-in.... So why the exclusionary MoveOn effort?
Expecting a fair shake from MoveOn is like expecting sober-minded probity from Paris Hilton. I mean, of course they're going to rig the ballot! They're Democrats!

Hug me, I'm a Congressman

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

It gets worse:

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

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

JSP on the road to Damascus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Grand Inquisitor

Somehow I had missed the fact that Dan Glickman, the head of the Motion Picture Association of American, and a leading crusader for the inquisitorial "Broadcast Flag," was Bill Clinton's Secretary of Agriculture, and before that an 18-year Democratic Congressman from Kansas, until he lost his seat in the biblical deluge of 1994. According to his Wikipedia entry, he distinguished himself while in Congress by writing "landmark legislation providing product liability protection for small airplane manufacturers."

Who knows, perhaps the next President Clinton will make him Secretary of Commerce. Or invent a new post for him -- Copyright Czar, maybe.

The revolving door

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 12, 2006

9/12 (and not a minute too soon)

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

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

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

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

Trouble is, we're in there somewhere too.

JSP, real estate czar

What's it with you folks? I leave a comment worthy of Frank Ramsey himself, and you spoilers pass it by like an Indian trading post?

Of what do I speak? This:

[puts on wonk cap]

The quick donk New Deal way out would be to treat our jobster homes like the first New Deal treated family farms:

"Friends, these homes are America's backbone -- they produce the nation's most sacred crops" -- i.e. all our corporate job hours, in their rich variety of tasks and rates of compensation. To help, (but still reward the dutiful and thrifty), we could nationalize all residential mortgages up to the the market value of each and every Amerikan house lot, and simultaneously issue a stream of lot equity credits usable against a national George tax on ground rent (i.e. on lot value).

Voila, no more private rack-rating, and of course no more borrowing against lot value, and no more lot price elvis-plate or tulip manias either,

Our clever, constantly revalued George tax will effectively render all lots of zero private value.

Hee hee hee, and I'll control it all through a bank of high-speed computers.

Head start: the Gub already owns a big chunk thru Fanny and Fred

So what's your problem, troops? Don't tell me you saw this somewhere else, cause you ain't. This is pure originality, fellow critters. I want my just accolades, or at least a few quibbles!

Roll over, Ed Gibbon

Head for the hills -- Marty Peretz has a blog now, called The Spine -- I guess we should be glad he didn't call it The Rock Hard Erect Penis.

Marty's maiden blog entry was a mighty essay -- 575 words, about the size of a New York Times op-ed -- in which the sage takes us to the mountaintop and gives us a really, really big-picture panorama:

... history is the spine of the present and also of my understanding of the present... history tells us about the proclivities of certain cultures and of their limits, too. History teaches us to beware of millenarians and utopians, of strongmen, of the idea of classlessness and class encrustations both, of greed, of otherworldliness, of technological solutions....
That history. Quite a Chatty Cathy. "I've told you, and told you and told you -- but do you listen?!?!
... ever since Montesquieu read the character of peoples through the climates in which they lived, we know also that there is a scientific basis to human similarity and to human difference. In any event, my reading of history is part of the spine of my thinking and of my writing. It is not only a tocsin. It is a connective.

One cannot grasp the meaning of the mass murders in Iraq without knowing something about the history of Mesapotamia. One cannot grasp French behavior in international affairs (and in internal social conflict, too) without seeing France as it has seen itself, the envoy of civilization to everyone in its arc. One cannot grasp the insistent religiosity of America without grasping that the colonies were religious commonwealths. And so on and on. History may be fragmented. But it is also whole. Is the guy channeling the ghost of Saul Bellow these days?

Lots to chew on here. Where is Mesapotamia? Arizona, maybe? What does Marty think "tocsin" means? Since when do countries have "arcs", and who or what lies within France's?

Gotta give the guy credit for one thing: writer's block he has not got. His next blog entry, after this Macaulayesque overture, is 844 words about what a swell guy Scooter Libby is.

P.S. -- In case you're wondering what the tank above has to do with Marty, it adorned one of his columns in the Jewish World Review, written in a more characteristic Peretz idiom -- the Livy of American Zionism doffs his toga and carefully lays it aside, then drops to the floor and chews the carpet for 1300 bloodthirsty, raving words.

Now that's the Marty we all know and love.

Worth a thousand words

J Alva writes:

Election 2004 summed up in one small picture:

The obvious analogy...

Part whatever in my complete guide to Lobby Land: the Boers and the Zionics.

Could the future of Zionism look like the endgame of the Afrikaans Jim Crow?

I have no more then a hunch, myself. Call this an invitation to a thread. But if your answer is "no way, J" -- then be prepared to tell uz all... why?

Joe Lieberman, the Ralph Nader of Connecticut

I can't seem to stop thinking about Joe Lieberman. Hell of a thing, I know.

Joe lost a Democratic primary. He is now running as a third-party candidate.

Now we all know that if there's anything a Democrat hates, it's a third-party candidate. Here, for example, is a characteristic Kosnik jeremiad against Ralph Nader, who is, it seems, responsible for everything bad in the United States today:

Thanks, Ralph Nader, egomaniac and asshole!
by Virt
Mon May 15, 2006 at 09:21:32 PM PDT

Take a look, Ralph. Take a look at the damage you have wrought. No difference between the two major parties, huh? Well, thanks a lot, Ralph.

NSA, FBI, wiretaps, no Bill of Rights, no Constitution, endless war, "free speech zones," environmental degradation on a scale never seen, an end to democracy and the rise of America as a Fascist nation.

Great job, Ralph! You made the election close enough to steal by lying to your supporters and the country. You are part of the Bush team and your legacy will be the destruction of civil liberties and the defilement of the environment. When your name is uttered years from now it will be as a curse spat out with contempt.

To be fair, the Kosniks are almost as mad at Lieberman as they are at Ralph. Sore losers, these Kosniks.

But of course the Kosniks don't count for much. What counts is the leadership of the party to which the Kosniks have sold their souls. And that leadership is clearly not only ready to welcome Joe back with open arms -- they're obviously a lot happier with him than they are with poor -- okay, not poor, rich -- Ned Lamont.

I don't see Ralph Nader getting a lot of forgiving hugs, or even a kind word, from the big snouts at the Democratic trough. But Joe -- Joe's a different story. Joe is one of us. When he comes back to the Senate, they will kill the fatted calf. He was lost, and is found! He was dead, and is alive again!

Well, the Kosniks are, no doubt, very unhappy about this discrepancy. But by Election Day they will have gotten over it. They will get up, shower (and shave or not, as the case may be), knock back a Starbucks coffee, and grimly troop off to the polls as in duty bound.

And oh, how the Froms, and the Clintons mere and pere, and the Rubins, and the Liebermans, will laugh, and laugh, and laugh!

September 13, 2006

I got your single digit, right here

Here's the New York Times, pontificating a couple of days before the New York primary:
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has a primary challenger on Tuesday, Jonathan Tasini, a liberal and former union leader who has based his candidacy on opposition to the war in Iraq.

Mrs. Clinton has a huge lead, but she has still spent money on a glossy mailing pleading for a huge primary vote.

A low turnout might skew the result a bit if liberals embrace Mr. Tasini; for image, the Clinton camp wants to limit the protest vote against her to the single digits.

Of course, as we all know, Hillary got 83% and Tasini 17%, in what was characterized as "light turnout." Hillary's glossy mailing doesn't seem to have done the trick -- but then, she couldn't very well come out and say, "let's see a big mandate for war, folks!" -- now could she?

I note with some amusement that in today's coverage of the result, neither the Times nor any other outlet I have seen mentions the "single-digit" goal. Gotta love that Memory Hole.

Marty peretz, logopotamus

Marty's blog entry today runs to almost 1900 words! A sample:
Clinton and company assumed that settling the historical and religious conflict between [the Israelis and the Palestinians] would buy peace in the entire region and in the Islamic orbit beyond. But settling this conflict would be possible only if Israel were to imperil its very life. Still, and even if it did precisely that, the wars of the Arabs and of the non-Arab Muslims, too, would not cease. They will fester and flare up, as the routine mass killings in Iraq are still with us after a thousand years.
Fester and flare up -- never use one cliche where you can squeeze in two, and if you mix a metaphor in the process, well, so much the better. And what is this "thousand years" he's talking about? The last thousand years were pretty grim in Europe, too, if memory serves.

Obviously, the guy is writing this stuff in his sleep. But even so, where does he find the time? I'm in awe.

My man Tony...

... Judt, that is, not Blair, in the London Review:
Bush’s Useful Idiots
the Strange Death of Liberal America

Why have American liberals acquiesced in President Bush’s catastrophic foreign policy? Why have they so little to say about Iraq, about Lebanon, or about reports of a planned attack on Iran? Why has the administration’s sustained attack on civil liberties and international law aroused so little opposition or anger from those who used to care most about these things?...

... the willingness of so many American pundits and commentators and essayists to roll over for Bush’s doctrine of preventive war; to abstain from criticising the disproportionate use of air power on civilian targets in both Iraq and Lebanon; and to stay coyly silent in the face of Condoleezza Rice’s enthusiasm for the bloody ‘birth pangs of a new Middle East’, makes more sense when one recalls their backing for Israel: a country which for fifty years has rested its entire national strategy on preventive wars, disproportionate retaliation, and efforts to redesign the map of the whole Middle East.

Now that's telling it like it is. I'll even forgive Tony his kind words for the likes of Daniel Bell, Irving Howe, and Felix Rohatyn -- Felix Rohatyn! -- who are described in passing as "the critical intellectual core, the steady moral centre of American public life." Blech! But as the poet says, aliquando bonus dormitat Homerus -- even good old Homer is sometimes asleep at the switch.

More GI Joe dribble...

... from that quavering Irish tenor of ex-military sentimentality, John Kerry:
Two years ago, I met a young man with character a lot of old men will never know. His name is Jon Soltz.

Jon is a veteran who served his country in Kosovo and Iraq.... Between Jon's tours, he worked day and night on my presidential campaign in Pennsylvania. I'll never forget what Jon said to me as I stepped off a plane back in 2004. He's told me I was the first veteran he met after he came home. Nothing anyone said to me on the campaign trail made me prouder. It was an honor to tell him something too many vets haven't heard enough: "Welcome home."

... War changes you. It makes you think about life differently. Simple things.... You live for the guys who didn't make it back....

You get the idea. All this snivelling is in aid of introducing another variation on the old "fighting Democrats" trope, called votevets.org. Here's their logo, by the way:

-- another triumph of Amurrican design.

And your point is...?

Here's a real head-scratcher from the Napoleon of the blogosphere, diminutive but much-loved Markos Moulitsas Zuniga:
He's not the only source of the problem, obviously, Tim. If you killed him tomorrow, you'd still have a problem with al-Qaeda, with Zawahiri and the others. But bin Laden has been a top priority for us from the very beginning, he continues to be a top priority today. That hasn't changed. The president and I get periodic reports on our efforts in that regard. There's been no lessening of our interest or of our activity with...
"[E]ven if he is caught tomorrow, it is five years too late. He has done more damage the longer he has been out there. But, in fact, the damage that he has done is done. And even to capture him now I don't think makes us any safer."
See any difference in the substance of the two quotes? Of course not....
Well, Markos, I couldn't agree more. But the uber-Kosnik somehow feels this reflects badly on the Republicans.

Sigmund Freud says somewhere -- I'm paraphrasing -- that he never encountered a perversion he found really alien. Foot fetishism, you name it -- he could place himself in imaginative sympathy with it -- find something within himself that resonated to it. This is both a bold confession and a sublime bit of self-assertion. Yet in my own modest way, I've always felt I knew what he meant.

This Kos thing defeats me, though. Here's a guy who spends all his waking hours screaming about how important it is to vote for the Democrats rather than the Republicans, and then he writes a post indignantly refuting Republican claims that there is a difference.

I don't think this is just calculation. It's too crazy for that. Calculation would notice the inconsistency. Somebody help me out here. Can this be explained? Or does the lad have a brain tumor?

September 14, 2006

Pinthe tail on the donkey

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

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

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

Huey, we hardly knew ye

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

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

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

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

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

Our Man in Hillaria

John Halle writes:

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

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

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

My fellow New Yorkers.

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

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

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

That's just the beginning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have an outstanding benefits package.

Do you have a problem with that?

83% of you say you don't.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are you going to do about it, punk?

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

The Nation has found a man to believe in...

... and it's Sherrod Brown, formerly the drab apparatchik who quashed Paul Hackett's chance of "crashing the gates". Paul, you recall, was last year's Kosnik pinup boy, the prototype ex-military "fighting Democrat". The Kosniks, and presumably Paul himself, thought he had a shot at the Democratic senatorial nomination this year -- until the Bush administration imploded, and the Democrats, now running against a quadriplegic, suddenly thought they might have a chance. At that point, the time-servers -- Sherrod Brown prominent among them -- popped up to claim their due, and got it.

Now that Sherrod is the Designated Democrat, the Nation scents the odor of sanctity hanging about him:

The road to the Democratic Party's renewal runs through Allen County, Ohio. And Sherrod Brown is on it, looking for the towns his party forgot and the voters who got away.
Can't let those voters get away. Who, after all, do they think they are?
Theoretically, Lima [Ohio] should be Democratic turf. A blue-collar town with a solid union base and a substantial African-American population, this city of 40,000 has lost 8,000 manufacturing jobs and a quarter of its population over the past two decades. A few years back, a PBS documentary crew titled a report from Lima "Lost in Middle America." Though Lima still has a Ford plant and an Army tank facility, the deindustrialization that has hammered Ohio during George W. Bush's tenure has taken a particular toll here.
"Past two decades" -- "George W. Bush's tenure" -- geez, has Bush really been President for twenty years? I know, it seems like forty, but counting on my fingers.... Hmmm. And who was President for the eight years before that?
The inability of the Democrats to capitalize on economic issues to put towns like Lima in their column has contributed mightily to Republican domination of Ohio, where all major statewide offices are in GOP hands and where the last two presidential elections handed Bush the electoral votes he needed to secure the presidency.
Strange people, these Ohioans. What's the matter with them?
"Sherrod understands that Ohio can remain a manufacturing state if we've got a federal government that supports the development of new industries," says Thomas Willis, president of Precision Energy & Technology, a fuel-cell firm, who appears with the candidate to vouch for Brown as the real friend of small manufacturers
Ah. Well, all the big manufacturers are taken, aren't they?

September 15, 2006

Frank, full of beans

My personal rep, blazing progressive Barney Frank (shown above with caped coffin-sleeper Tom Lantos) seems to have turned into a bit of a wet hen in a recent piece in that dashing people's tribune, the American Prostate

Barney tries mad, mad, double-mad dancing on gentle Bobby Reich's head, because in an earlier issue of the same earnest mag, Bobby R bluntly claims the donks, if they regain control of the House this fall, will do exactly what Karl Rove and I say they'll do -- that is, follow their cheap showboat instincts, and grandstand -- as in raise a hullabaloo about Bushco illegality, profiteering, etc., etc. -- you know, just generally play gotcha with the elephant's behind.

This Bobby claims they'll do, instead of helping the beleaguered middle-income jobholdery, which, to sir Bobby, is the one and only true party mission.

Well needless to say, this touches off a string of Frank firecrackers. Some of these just spring from vanity -- how dare anyone presume to instruct the likes of a barnyard B Frank -- but other pops are clearly explosions of authentic kitchen fury. After all, Bobby stepped on a corn here, right? And Barn has to play it up, with all the righteous outrage he can push through that tiny, lipless, side-sloped Buddy Hackett mouth of his. To the contrary, Mister Robert Reich -- Barnz and his liberal donk friends have no intention whatsoever of going after Bushco:

I know of virtually no support for trying to impeach President Bush among House Democrats, because we understand that this would be entirely counterproductive to what we are trying to accomplish both politically and governmentally.
and as to the admonition to help the little guy -- "Why why why," Barney cackles,
I confess to some personal irritation ... when I am told that ... I should in fact think about beginning to do things that I have been doing."
If this is so, Barney -- if all you want to do is help us -- then my advice, once your feathers dry, is figure out you all have been doing, and do soemthing different.

But here's the blink passage to me. Let me set it up first. Bobby in his piece has said, among his other don't-dos, don't waste time trying to expose "nefarious links" Bushco has to [cue sinister drum roll] Wall Street. Here's the barn hen's cluck on that one:

As for myself, I have consistently said that I want to show that liberal Democrats can be fully supportive of the legitimate functioning of financial intermediaries in a responsible capitalist system, while at the same time protecting the rights of consumers and helping address the problem of growing inequality.... I have never argued that this administration has "nefarious links to Wall Street," and in fact it would be very odd if an administration had no links to Wall Street in these areas."
"An administration..." "Odd..." "No links..." So what gives, Barney? Are links to Wall Street bipartisan, with or without the monkey biz, at least "in these [undefined] areas"?

One is tempted to clown it up, and suggest to Barney that his hand-crafted line may reach a level of ambiguity that is itself manifestly nefarious and paradoxically revealing.

Get out while the gettin's good

For some time time, I've been thinking that the Republicans will soon be quite happy to take a holiday in opposition and leave the Other War Party stuck with the mess (a role the Other War Party is glad to embrace, by the way). I kinda thought the Republicans would tiptoe furtively off stage in 2008, but maybe the schedule has been moved up; comes now the Washington Monthly, with seven, count 'em, seven, think-pieces from the likes of Richard Viguerie and Christopher Buckley. General topic: "Time For Us To Go: Conservatives on why the GOP should lose in 2006." There's enough overlap in the talking points to suggest that this must have been a topic of conversation among pitchfork-chuckers in the Republican malebolge for some time now.

Here's Buckley:

Time to hand over this sorry enchilada to Hillary and Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden and Charlie Rangel and Harry Reid, who has the gift of being able to induce sleep in 30 seconds.
Bruce Bartlett:
Democrats today are free to criticize our efforts in Iraq without having to offer constructive alternatives. But put them in the majority, and they’ll suddenly have to put up or shut up. Let them defund the war and implement an immediate pullout if that’s what they really think we should do.... Every Republican I know thinks Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are the best things they have going for them.
Best of all, Viguerie:
... a Republican loss of one or both houses of Congress would turn power over to the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.... [But] sometimes a loss for the Republican Party is a gain for conservatives. Often, a little taste of liberal Democrats in power is enough to remind the voters what they don’t like about liberal Democrats and to focus the minds of Republicans on the principles that really matter. That’s why the conservative movement has grown fastest during those periods when things seemed darkest, such as during the Carter administration and the first two years of the Clinton White House.
You don't often see such a clear statement of the mechanics of party symbiosis.

Lots of other interesting things to ponder in these essays too (if you skip all the poseur snuffbox-juggling about Edmund Burke and Adam Smith -- even poor James II comes in for some hard words!). For one thing, some of these guys are really against the Iraq war, and have harsher things to say about it than you will hear from any Democrat. E.g. Buckley:

... the tidy theories of a group who call themselves “neo-conservative” (not one of whom, to my knowledge, has ever worn a military uniform), have thus far: de-stabilized the Middle East; alienated the world community from the United States; empowered North Korea, Iran, and Syria; unleashed sectarian carnage in Iraq ... cost the lives of 2,600 Americans, and the limbs, eyes, organs, spinal cords of another 15,000—with no end in sight. But not to worry: Democracy is on the march in the Middle East. Just ask Hamas. And the neocons—bright people, all—are now clamoring, “On to Tehran!”
Wake me up when Hillary starts talking like this.

The other thing that's really interesting, and that offers us all an object lesson, is that these ideologues are quite prepared to see their party lose if they think it would be better for their cause in the long run. When was the last time you encountered a "progressive" Democrat who could do as much? Imagine the Tartarean howls of execration that would greet, say, a Kosnik who advanced a similar argument.

September 16, 2006

Rahm & Schumer, LLC, Cosmetic Surgery

Reconsider if you will an earlier post of Father Smiff's. In it, the reverend father pastes up passages from an article in The Nation by some eager ambitious elf. I point it out because I think it answers an important musical question: "how is the donk party preparing itself for the day half power is restored?"

It's answered with one nice phrase turn, and I suggest you notice it with care: the phrase "the Democratic Party's renewal."

I claim that sez all -- renewal as in not reformation, not resurgence, not even quest, let alone transformation -- just... "renewal".

Back a while ago I read somewhere a soc sci piece that divided midnight America into two very distinct Weberian types -- those who salivated to the cry "social justice," and those who did the same to the call "social renewal." I'm sure I needn't bore you all by explicating the fairly obvious implied content of this distinction -- not for you lot. But lets call 'em blue-lighters vs. red-lighters. Now, we may have the two lights and two types out there among the people, but we got only one kinda party -- and it's not a blend; it's not purple party politics. We got a pair of me-too grapplers trying to square the circle, or at least circle the square.

Nope, the big two have drifted so far right, they're both red-lighters now -- social renew-ers, and social justice be damned.

So if your a renew-er you got nothin' to do but look like a fresher breath of renewal. Hence the TV makeover show treatment, as applied to the look of the party. Yes, the war mules and the mommy dearests, fresh blood, but also the goose-up of the old guard too, as in an all-surfaces rejuvenation. Boytox and girltox too. This is really all there is to today's donkery-do.

And then of course comes The Nation. Is it too turning into nothing other then a renew-er outlet, a Kosnik senior citizin circuit? Hackneyed images of rebottled old wine ought to be poisoning Katrina's pert head. How can she endorse this beggars' opera... and with teared eye too?

The Nation! Nursery of I.F. Stone and Alex Cockburn. Oh, as Fr. Smiff would say, quomodo ceciderunt potestates in proelio -- how are the mighty fallen.

But I'm sure the Nationistas are convinced they're being very courageous, and in a way it is. I mean, think a moment -- ain't it courageous to face the electorate like an aging gladiator facing a trio of hungry lions, and act spry and ready to rumble? Sacrifices have been made! Faces have gone under the knife! No more Teddy trusswork -- fat cells, real live fat cells have been vacuumed away, and by the tons.

What we are witnessing here is the major minor party of public repute under the care of doctors without mercy -- tough love doctors -- those crazed and sadistic surgeons of cosmetic politics, doctors Rhambo and Mushschooom.

"Let's get the look of victory added to this chin -- the look of frontier vigor -- nurse, get me the Tank Mcnamara implant!

"Dutch, for fuck sake, you're Lardass Incorporated -- how is this gonna look? Get the blubber sucker, Ms Pinch -- the industrial strength blubber sucker.

"What, she only has one limb gone? Jesus, do I have to do everything around here? Okay, it's way too late to find a three-off now. We'll just have to harvest the other leg. What are you waitin' for? Now, soldier, now!

"I said pimp pouch, asshole, not mouse pouch! Look at the decrepit old fucker -- shit, he looks like a tumbleweed. We gotta give him some soul-on-ice fury here. We need an Eldridge Cleaver body here, with a 65 year old white head on it. Make him mean and horny. Yes, the royal extra large pimp pouch."

No matter what they take off or add on, its the same old same-old under the hood. But no more the defeatist look! No more Tom Daschle and the castrato chorus, no more old college try.
"Listen up, you duffers. If we donks are coming back, it's gotta look like a hard charge. We can't stumble up the hill. We can't play it for nostalgia. This is not an oldtimers' game. It's gotta look like we're new, we're mad, and we're takin' no prisoners."
Imagine the Herculean task that must be, trying to pass off these retreads, these sour-patch kids, as a stem-to-stern party transformed. A single look at the lineup of faces (and behinds) shows they're just a juiced-up, steam-bathed, rouged-over pack of casino clowns. But hey, they're ready to... ahh -- ready to what? Hobble, that's what -- hobble and heehaw. Put this string of sorefooted swaybacks (albeit with arrow-straight fiberglass spinal implants) under a full pack of legislation and they'll... founder. But then, imagine how just that one charge up the Capitol steps will task those old flaccid muscles.

Ah the pain of the aging glamour girl. Ronnie Reagan knew about it -- all about it. But potbellied, brew-breathed Tip O'Neill never did -- and ain't that the story of the early 80's? Lesson: when you plan on putting the country into neutral, look smart and gustoized while you're doing it. And give 'em a lot of twinkle, and snort some, too -- make fierce faces, fierce but kindhearted, like Ferdinand the Bull.

So we await the curtain rise this November, and do we dare hope Tip's party will now know the pain of looking good outside, when inside you're a senile fucking wreck?

"Paging Doctor Rahm...Doctor Rahm. Mr. Rangel is ready for his white soak."

September 18, 2006

Offenses against human dignity, Chapter XXXVII

I like J Alva's image of job holder America getting the "waterboarding" treatment by their trans national employers. Couple it with his infamous Scruggs Law -- "if I can be fired by one ghoul simply on his sole say-so, sooner or later I'm fucked 'round here" -- and you have the gentleman and the lady wage slaves' dilemma of the day.

If the tower brute can torture you, then the tower brute will torture you. It's no longer debatable; you may climb the comp pole, but you can't hide. It's here, it's real, it's immediate -- even more than climate change. We live in an era of accelerating job pay blight, and now it's spreading up the compensation pole like Dutch elm disease.

If the 80's was about the jovial de-nutting of the classic New Deal blue collar male, then the 00's are about putting it to Joe and Jane Mortarboard.

But let us rejoice in this prospect of shared immiseration -- today there is no longer any broad willing market for the new-Democratic DLC neoliberal snake oil. Recall its golden era claims: prosperity for the little guy is just a skill enhancement away, and if not one enhancement, then two or at most five. Prosperity for you and more to the point for your young-'uns is within the power of your own strivings to attain. "We all can not only have capital but be capitalists too! Yes, folks, with enough education and training, we all can be our own capitals, a corporation of one selling our services (with a very tidy return on investment) to the highest bidder. Come on! Join the rush to exploit yourselves!"

Well, the returns are in now, and it seems with all this offshoring of professional services, the "human" in "human capital" is starting to sound a lot like the "human" in "human sacrfice."

No mercy

Max Sawicky tries a grapple with the DLC legacy, in connection with the recently-made-public IRS decision to revoke their tax-exempt status:
Some are crowing about this IRS decision.... Any monkey wrench into a major Dem group, merits aside, helps the other side....
In the comments he gets batted around some and fights back valiantly. There's even some guy there who writes a lot like me.

Still. By '08 we'll have had 16 years of DLC hegemony -- 8 years of DLC White House power that only gave the profit-max machine time to take over Congress and consolidate itself, before the present potlatch. You really think the party of FDR and ER can mobilize anything this way with these pragmatics in the lead float?

Pragmatics, Max, is for using power, not winning it -- not if social reform is your mission, anyway. Now if your mission is rotation in office and a change of foliage, well, fine.

These DLC bastards are poison. They need to be forced upstairs to the party attic, with the high-school yearbooks and the post cards from aunt Bonnie. Hell, they're even reproducing themselves. They have spawn -- look at the Kos borg: it's just just an eerie, nerdy, downmarket virtual-cult version of the DLC.

Winning is the key. Pragmatism the way. Kos: the DLC in scout shorts.

September 19, 2006

The green machine

Is the electorate unconciously yearning for a man on a green donkey?

Al Gore must think so behold his Greening of America plan.

Hey, I'm no mean green dancing extreme, but if I was a pragmatic vote-seeking vacuum like big Al, I might figure this is one popular crusade the trans-nats might get on board.

A dove to empire?

Single payer medical?

Class warrior?
Double nope.

Deficit daddy?

Mistah green bloomer?
Yeah, baby, yeah!

Take it over or blow it up

In comments, Dan R writes:
It all stems from a basic misunderstanding of what the "Democratic" Party is. Rather than being an imperfect but accessible instrument of the people's will, it is a maze designed to keep the people's will out while ensuring that the center of the maze is always occupied by the dollar.
That sure does capture the operational result, Dan, but not the structure, I think -- not at the national party level, which is what may lead to you going too far with your next line:
Talk of reforming the Dem Party makes as much sense as "reforming" the Mafia -- the institution does not exist to do anything other than hurt the people....
And why is that off track?

Because this institution is not a single structure with a top-down design, nor a single control tower. It's more like a slime with a network of interconnected lumps. And right now and for many years back (to say 1977) the core controlling the whole sprawling mess are lumps(more or less loosely interconnected) that push a "new Democratic"/neoliberal program.

It's prolly much like the structure of K street -- an infestation of like-minded, self-interested parasites passing themselves off as symbiotes.

But this party network core has no cast iron unified characteristics; like a maze, it can be broken up because lumps can be set against other lumps. And what's more, after a controlling core breaks apart, obviously the operational program can be supplanted with a new one.

Yes, reform of this nasty posse of badgers is impossible; but they can be overthrown.

Could it be anytime soon, though? Soon, as in before the '08 prez run? I doubt it -- more and more every day I doubt it. But then, is this core's overthrow necessary for social progress?

Who knows? Perhaps all we need do is blow up its core. Hell, it may blow itself apart -- even though one has to think with a little taste of power like House rule the chances move toward super slim.

But still, there is precedent for remarkably fast changes of control. The radical overthrow in 1896 seemed to come out of nowhere. As if in a flash, the gold dems entrenched at the party helm for 22 years were overthrown totally. They even left the party for a few years, and the overthrowers didn't even need to win -- in fact they lost 2 prez elections in a row, and then really took a breather, before regaining control in the next cycle, only to lose again, and not finally win till 1912, over a split Republican party.

Then there's overthrows that do get reversed fast -- like in 1972. The insurgents, such as they were, held power for about 6 months. And yet the damage that overthrow did to the regular core effectively spelled the end of it -- the end of the old Truman to Johnson regulars.

They may have restored themselves, but much like the Bourbons, not for long or not for real. Nope. Instead, the party was reformed -- if that's the word -- incrementally over a few years into the hodgepodge pushmi-pullu monstrosity we still face today.

At any rate it's clear to me what has to be done -- attack the party's left flank and if possible, destroy it. Hack away at the so-called real progressives clinging inside the party today. Bust up the prog caucus. Vow to expose them and defeat them in '08, with a wave of real outside progs that split votes and send 'em back to private life. Show their feckless herd of guileless supporters the farce and humiliation these clowns live with. Expose the merciless neglect and episodic battering their ilk take at the hands of the lib-prags. Notice the obvious corporate plants inside their caucus -- hell, Tom "the tassel-toed Tartuffe" Lantos is no more a progressive than Ollie North.

Anyway, you get it. The target theme for the ridicule blitz: "Faux donk liberals and the progs who love them." Force those party progs to show they're not the real thing. Force 'em to jump ship, commit political suicide to save their reputations. Demand they denounce every liberal in sight, even the Roosevelts, and they damn well better refuse to caucus with the warchiefs and the robin-redbreasts of legal torture.

I for one am starting with those NY/NJ interloping carpetbaggers, Barney and Bernie, the sugar plum twins of maple and cod country fraudulence.

Some of us (not the sea-green incorruptibles like Father Smiff of course, but some of us) are still big party focused -- up to a point -- but I would rather the party burst into a zillion flecks of shit, rather then retard the progress of American job holders for another generation. Nope, the jobbery can't wait.

Uncle Sam wants you -- or does he?

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

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

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

It doesn't take much...

... to beat the Democrats. I'm starting to think we may have seen the October Surprise, and it is, as we speculated it might be back in April -- April! -- cheap gas. Or at least, not-quite-so-expensive gas:
Amid falling gas prices and a two-week drive to highlight his administration's efforts to fight terrorism, President Bush's approval rating has risen to 44% in a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. That's his highest rating in a year.

The poll also showed likely voters evenly divided between Democratic and Republican candidates for Congress, 48%-48%. Among registered voters, Democrats had a 51%-42% advantage.

The indispensable Doug Henwood at Left Business Observer has done a little regression on Bush's approval numbers and the price of gas. It's uncanny. Follow the link and eyeball the graphs -- you'll love it.

Now there are a couple of conclusions we could draw from this. Number One, the American people are hopelessly spoiled and shallow, and care for nothing but cable TV and their SUV. Number Two, the elections aren't about anything else, so why shouldn't they be about gasoline?

No prize at all for guessing which conclusion I prefer.

September 21, 2006

Hugo Chavez for President

Quite a speech by old Hugo at the UN yesterday, huh? "The Devil came here yesterday -- I can still smell the sulfur." Wow. I don't know when the last time was that anybody laid it on so hot and heavy. Just when you thought it was safe to go back into Latin America, O legionaries of the empire...

I figured that reasonable, moderate, meritorious people here in the US would be quick to dissociate themselves from this shocking display of prole razzola. I was not wrong. A quick Google search brought me to Mr. Nathan Gardels' blog on Huffington Post. (Gardels is shown at left, and I can only wonder what the photographer said before clicking the shutter, to evoke those raised eyebrows, those pursed lips, that general resemblance to an overinflated tree-frog.) Thus Gardels:

On one of the talk shows this week, former UN Ambassador Richard Holbooke called Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad an anti-semite and a pipsqueak. Anti-semite, certainly. A pipesqueak, I'm not so sure.

When Ahmadinejad railed against US and UK attempts to dominate the world through the Security Council as if this were the early post-WWII era instead of the 21st century it was a message that resonated globally.

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez laid it on futher in his harangue, confident in having recently obtained China's backing, in return for oil, for his country's quest for a seat on the Security Council.

It would be a big mistake to dismiss their comments as the ravings of mad men when they are only saying what the rest of the world -- China, Russia and France on the Security Council as well as countries from Brazil to South Korea -- actually thinks.

Gardels is a liberal, though, so he knows who to blame for this sorry state of affairs:

Certainly, George Bush's unilateralism has ended up pushing the multipolar order out of its post-Cold War womb through inciting a worldwide reaction against Anglo--Saxon dominance. But, in truth, the baby was already on the way. W's policies have only accelerated the delivery.

I don't quite follow the obstetrical metaphor, and probably don't want to, but Gardels' thrust is clear: the Empire would still be humming along quite nicely if Bush weren't so... stupid. We have Bush to thank that people like Chavez and Ahmadinejad are saying what millions of people seem to want to hear.

This cat Gardels, until today a figure unknown to me, is actually a man of some stature. He heads up something called New Perspectives Quarterly -- the "new" part is, perhaps, a slight and pardonable exaggeration -- which modestly describes itself as follows:

NPQ has a well-earned reputation around the world as the one publication that consistently engages the best minds and most authoritative voices in cutting-edge debate on current affairs -- and does so in a way that is always interesting, accessible, and concise.
I must have read too many New Critics when I was a young man, because passages like this always engage my close-reading eye, with unsettling results. Do the "most authoritative voices" also belong to "the best minds" -- or are these two different groups of people? And I certainly hope, for the sake of Nathan's reputation as a truth-teller, that his contributors are more "interesting" than he is.

Here's his masthead:

Bruce Babbitt
Walter Dean Burnham
Joan Didion
Sidney Drell
Carlos Fuentes
Marvin L. Goldberger
Ryszard Kapuscinski
Abraham Lowenthal
Walter Russell Mead
Ronald Steel
Lester Thurow

Stanley K. Sheinbaum
Chair and Founding Publisher
Richard Dennis
Michael Douglas
Nathan Gardels
Alan L. Gleitsman
Mickey Kantor
Win McCormack
Sol Price
Stanley K. Sheinbaum
Oliver Stone

Descending from the stuffed shirt to the T-shirt, I also dipped into Daily Kos for reaction to Chavez' speech, and quickly dipped right out again. Threads tended to start with expressions of approval, then rapidly be swamped by people who consider Chavez a really bad guy because he's a pal of Ahmadinejad, and Ahmadinejad is a "Holocaust denier." Predictably, this topic, like Gresham's bad money, rapidly drove all others out of the forum.

Dems: easily impressed by caudillos

The much-ballyhooed Democratic mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, thinks that child-hating cop freak Mike Bloomberg, the Francisco Franco of New York City, should run for President, according to the New York Times. Bloomie is visitng LA, and
... Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, who has cited New York City’s educational reforms as a model for Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles police chief, William J. Bratton, all but encouraged Mr. Bloomberg to consider a run for the White House.
Apparently Villaraigosa admires Bloomberg's educational "reforms", and indeed, speaking as the parent of a child in the New York school system, I suppose there's something to be said for them. Since we seem to be building a society in which everybody is either a jailer or a prisoner, we might as well get the kids used to it early on.

My old Kentucky homeboy

What possible progressive purpose would this old brass beast Weaver from Kentucky serve? (Weaver is shown left, being endorsed, appropriately, by the utterly toxic Wesley Clark.) He's running for Congress against a central-casting fundi-belt Republican Piltdown man, but Weaver himself is an A-1 Rahmbo war mule.

Money quote:

"Enter 'the colonel.' At least that's what Weaver's aides always call him. In addition to his military record -- the Weaver Web site says he knows "what it means to defend our freedom on foreign soil" -- he prominently mentions his faith (Roman Catholic) and his family (11 grandchildren). In a campaign headquarters a stone's throw from a mobile-home dealership where doublewides are on sale, Weaver looks fit and angry enough to jump back into the trenches at any moment. He boasts that Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Weaver is the only Democratic candidate who intimidates him."

Saints preserve us....

It'll be a walkover: dead guys can (and will) beat Republicans

Here's myDD.com whistling past the graveyard:
Following yesterday's release of a USA Today-Gallup poll showing President Bush's approval rating up to 44 percent (still bad, just not terrible) and Democrats and Republicans tied on the generic congressional ballot question among likely voters, many began to fret that the Democrats' chances at big gains were flying away. [But] the Rasmussen Reports tracking poll, which has found the President at or below 41 percent for the past four days, and now a CBS News-New York Times survey ... finds Bush at just 37 percent [and] it seems pretty clear that Gallup's numbers are at least a tad bit too optimistic about Republicans' chances.

... just 53 percent of Americans approve of the job their own member of Congress is doing, a number that is actually lower than was registered in September or November 1994. Approval for Congress, overall, is exactly what it was in September '94.

When asked if they can remember a significant action taken by Congress in the last year, more than two-thirds of Americans responded "nothing."

Just 39 percent of Americans believe their member of Congress deserves reelecction while 48 percent believe it's time to give someone new a chance. These numbers are worse than they have been in the past two midterm elections and are not substantially different from those found at this point in 1994 (37-45). When asked if "your own Representative in Congress understands the needs and problems of people like you," just 47 percent say yes while 45 percent say no (worse than in 1994).

The thinking seems to be that people are so bummed that, as my grandmother used to say, they'd vote for a hound dog if he was running on the Democratic ticket. In fact, that seems to be precisely the experiment that's about to be tried.

beating around the Bush

A recent comment here directed my attention to a site called democraticundergound.com, which proved to be a delight on several different levels. There seems to be a recurring feature, cast in the form of an advice column called "Ask Auntie Pinko". Sample:
Q. Auntie, what would your advice to Democratic candidates be, especially on answering questions like 'what is your plan for Iraq?'

A: ... there are many possible answers, but I would think that those Democrats who are challenging incumbent Republicans might respond something like this: 'Just a minute. Did you, personally, vote in favor of this war?' To an affirmative, the Democrat can then ask, 'Why...?'

One possible response will be that as a member of Congress, the Republican had access to information that was not released to the general public for security reasons, and that information appeared to justify the war. In that case, a good response from a Democratic challenger might be, 'I oppose the war and want to end our military involvement there, but I have to defer offering a more specific plan until I, too, have access to information not released to the general public that might give me a better idea of how to achieve that goal....'

Many other scenarios and sub-scenarios are envisioned and dealt with in this Maimonidean post. One suspects that the writer has spent, all in all, many hours in the shower, on the toilet, behind the wheel on his way to work, fantasisizing about how he would have answered Bill O'Reilly last night.

These, I take it, are the famous sansculotte 'Netroots'. If the Bastille has nothing more formidable to fear, I think it can sleep in peace.

September 22, 2006

Deval Patrick, whor-eo

Here's a real case of don't that just beat all: great Oreo hope Deval Patrick running to be donk governor of the Commonwealth of Mass. (The candidate is shown above, with that great emblem of the Democratic Party, Mike Dukakis, getting ready to cook and eat an entire blue-collar family.)

Talk about a board room whore. Needless to say, however, the AFL-CIO is behind him all the way. But the Killer Coke folks have got the goods on Patrick. I quote:

An Open Letter to Massachusetts Labor Leaders
September 5, 2006

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Robert Haynes has accused me of parachut(ing) in from another state while likely violating campaign finance laws and mislead(ing) people into thinking (I) speak for organized labor.

All of these accusations stem from the fact that Mr. Haynes not only chooses to ignore gubernatorial candidate Deval Patricks blatantly anti-labor record, but resents anyone who tries to remind the voters about it.

Mr. Haynes should realize that a Big Business power broker like Mr. Patrick doesnt deserve any support from unions when running for office. Mr. Patrick has already collected nearly $800,000 in out-of-state contributions parachuted to him from many sources, including contributors who list notorious union-busting law firms like Jackson Lewis and Seyfarth Shaw as their affiliation. About $24,000 came from employees of the Boston law firm Ropes & Gray, which publicly acknowledges that it helps clients with employee discipline, implementation of reductions in force (and)union avoidance. (Incidentally, Mr. Patricks wife, Diane, is a partner in the Labor and Employment Department at Ropes & Gray.)

A closer look at Mr. Patricks past raises many more questions that both voters and labor representatives should be asking. As Texacos Vice President and General Counsel from 1999 to 2001, he was a principal architect of the Texaco-Chevron merger, which enriched a few oil executives but also resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs. When he wasnt helping impede competition and hastening the consolidation of the oil industry, he was Texacos point man on opposing the right of 30,000 poverty-stricken Ecuadorians to sue the company for causing massive damage to peoples health and their environment.

And much, much more. Read the whole thing.

P.S. In line with Comrade Smith's anti-flag campaign, here's the logo from Patrick's Web site:

No ordinary leader indeed. Even for a Democrat, this guy is pretty damn ripe.

Pollitt tics

I used to like reading Katha Pollitt -- one of the few voices in The Nation that seemed sharp, and individual, rather than a ponderous, moralizing, Op-Ed wannabe. And I always thought she was pretty smart, too.

But there's something about American electoral politics that makes even smart people stupid. Poor Katha has a column this week which is, truly, one of the saddest things I've ever read.

I'm writing this column in Clinton, Connecticut, where I live part of the year and hope to vote in November. I'm abandoning the antiquated voting booths of New York City because I want to do my bit to help the Democrats take back the House and Senate....

It's all downhill from there. It's an abortion column, basically, and Katha ties herself in knots trying to argue that single-issue reproductive-rights advocates should not be supporting candidates based on their reproductive-rights record. Rather, they should support Democrats no matter what. Here's her argument, reproduced (and reduced, like a deglazing sauce) from NARAL. It seems that if Democrats get control of Congress, the following wonderful things will occur:

  1.  Pro-choice lawmakers would control key committees, and pro-choice lawmakers would instantly become a majority on every panel.
  2. Rather than sitting through anti-choice hearing after hearing, called by anti-choice committee chairs, new committee chairs could spend their time promoting women's health.
  3. Anti-choice lawmakers would no longer have a forum to spread propaganda....
  4. Pro-choice lawmakers could hold hearings to investigate the FDA's refusal to approve emergency contraception over the counter, the devastating effects of the global gag rule on women's health, and pro-choice measures that could reduce America's staggeringly high rate of teen pregnancy.
  5. Pro-choice forces would control the Senate and House floor schedules. This means that we could avoid anti-choice legislative attacks--and instead, see votes on pro-choice bills that have been held up.
It's hard to choose, but I think my favorite is point 2: The Democrats wouldn't have to "sit through" so many tedious hearings -- and they could use the time, instead, to "promote women's health." Personally, I could ask nothing more of Smith's Inferno than that Democrats should have to spend eternity sitting through hearings -- and as for "promoting women's health," where, I wonder, has Katha gotten the idea that Democrats would do any such thing?

This woman is too bright, and too funny, and too experienced, to degrade herself with this kind of Daily Kos congressional-page sophomorism. "Control the floor schedule," for Heaven's sake -- is this what left politics in the United States has come to?

September 23, 2006

Pray tell me, Sir, whose dog are you?

BobW writes:
The Democrats' disappearance on the torture debate finally pushed me over the edge.

Or maybe it was Nancy Pelosi's gratuitous attack on Chavez. Once over the edge, this morning I realized we have heard nothing from any Dem on the predicted war with Iran.

With the Navy ordered to take up blockade and offensive positions in the Persian Gulf, you would think some elected representative might be saying "hang on a second; let's have a little debate on this."

Democrats', like Kerry's, official position on Iraq has been they were misled by the President. Presumably that means they now see their mistake. The mistake was to stir up trouble in the Middle East. It just stirs up worse trouble. This time, though, the President isn't even trying to mislead. He's just going ahead because he wants to, confident the Democrats will lay down.

Jonathan Swift said all life at court is divided into two camps: knaves and fools. If you're not a knave, you're a fool. I used to think that perfectly described Republicans and Democrats. Now I think it's too kind to the Dems.

The sky is falling! And about time, too.

Really, you know, we live in a Mad Hatter world. Here's Nikolas Kozloff, a conscientious critic of US misbehavior in Latin America, a propos the recent flap over Hugo "The Exorcist" Chavez:
... the long term impact of Chavez's remarks upon the domestic U.S. political scene is unclear....

With the media getting whipped up into a frenzy over Chavez's effrontery, what is worrying is that the Venezuelan president might actually have a political impact on the upcoming Congressional elections in November and tip the scale towards the Republicans.

Horrors! Oh Hugo, how could you? Bet you're sorry now!

Well, no, of course, I bet he's not. I bet he doesn't give a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut, as an old Kentucky landsman of mine used to say, about how the Democrats do in November. I'm sure he knows that there are entities called the Republicans and Democrats, and that they purport to be political parties; and I'm also sure he knows perfectly well that it will make absolutely no difference to him, and to his people, and to the world, whether the Democrats pick up fifteen seats in November, or lose thirty.

In fact, I hope Hugo has dished the Democrats but good. If all it takes is a little rally-round-the-Prez, dead-cat Bush bounce for them to lose whatever slender hope they had of making some gains this fall, then they deserve to lose -- and really, the sooner they're swept off the scene, the better. They're worse than useless. If you're after any kind of social progress, then a connection with the Democrats is like stepping into the ring with a corpse tied to your back.

September 25, 2006

Nobbling the donkey -- in the home stretch

Every so often Father Smiff directs me to some heinous, festerful, number-blistered mare's nest, and suggests I make it intelligible for Stop Me. Here's the latest:

My report begins inside deepest academia, staring into a wizard's brew of statistical flapdoodle, full of confidence intervals and r-squares and all that, the work of a prolific Princeton poli sci cone-cap with the oddly folksy name of Larry Bartels. In its own very postivistical way, this paper makes a few very loud claims -- among which, one in particular caught my fancy: Bartels has struck a correlation that might imply a very very sinister Republican plot that fellow Princetonian prof Paul Krugman calls "very mysterious".

Seems there's a relationship between the performance of our national economy and the party in power come prez election time, and this relationship runs back to at least the Truman surprise of 48. And it's a very nasty bit of business too, as its consequences dramatically favor the electoral prospects of the repugs over the jack-assery. Bartels claims some intentional force or forces precisely gooses up any and all prez election year economies if the incumbent party in the White House is repuglickin', and snuffs out any growth if the incumbent party is the donkery. And this up or down swoop in the growth rate is worth a few possible key points up or down for the incumbent party in the vote totals. Bartels states a strong causal relationship "may well exist" between economic performance and voter party preference he even suggests an estimated "at the margin" value for this causal relationship, in the form so many extra vote points per point of higher economic growth rate.

Now I suspect what caught Father Smiff's attention in all this was another observation: in this very same paper Bartels shows that the donks are better at growth induction over all, and better by quite a bit for the little guy -- except in those accursed fourth years of Democratic White House terms, when the donkey suddenly, inexplicably, and inevitably founders. The go-go growth donks, after trotting so nicely for three years, always come up with glanders in the home stretch.

Brother Bartels skates past an important distinction here -- under the two New Dem regimes, Carter's one term and Clinton's first, the results were far less convincing. (Not until Clinton's second term, when he jammed through a huge tax cut for capital gains types (his donor class), I've always suspected he got, as a quid pro quo, Greenspan's braking the unemployment rate floor with three more years of loose credit. This loose credit kept the economy growing, unemployment rate dropping, wages rising, and the middle 60 compressing while also prospering, as they do in most rising economies.) What held for the old donkery of Harry through LBJ does not carry forward with any real demonstable signifigance to the New Dem, New South party era.

But this isn't really Bartels' main point. He's interested in the election-year trick.

Of course the really interesting question is the "how" of it, and this he doesn't address. It would be quite surprising, wouldn't it, if the dems were just not aware of the trick, or at least how to make it work for them too? After all they got Harvards and Stanfords and MIT types on their bench too. So probably it isn't ignorance -- maybe they just can't implement like the repugs can.

I will hazard this: if the pattern is there and is causal, there's one outfit that could surely pull this off: my own favorite White Whale, the Federal Reserve Bank, that independent bastion of the great American scroogery. They could do it, and do it every time.

Dormitat Homerus

Read this giddy rave review by Ralph Nader of a bizz book by an old Ivy pal of his.

It's like a flashback to his National Merit Nader's-Raiders elite prog squad balderdash.

This review might as well have been written by George Gilder, if Georgie bothered to frown on mediocrity as well as rah-rah "innovative start-uppers."

It's great how Ralph gets the donks so worked up, but it's still caveat emptor on some of his back-shelf items.

States' rights -- what a concept

From The Note:
In a pair of speeches on Tuesday, Democrat Phil Angelides plans to say that on his first day as governor he would call for all California National Guardsmen to return to the Golden State.

If implemented, the Angelides proposal would almost certainly provoke a legal challenge.

Angelides maintains, however, that under Perpich v. Department of Defense, a 1990 Supreme Court case, a governor retains the right to refuse to deploy his or her state's National Guard if deploying the troops "were to interfere with the State Guard's capacity to respond to local emergencies." ....

Questions yet to be answered: Whether Democrats will make this part of their paid media campaign and whether national Democrats like Leader Pelosi will back Angelides when asked about the proposal.

Indeed. It would be fun to watch Pelosi wriggle on this one.

Most depressing quote of the day

From a rather gaga, and very long, hagiography of Barack Obama (shown above with his endorsee in Connecticut's recent primary), found in New York magazine online:

"Barack, I think, represents a point of transition," says Artur Davis, a 38-year-old African-American congressman from Alabama and former law-school classmate of Obama's. "This is the first generation of African-American politicians who essentially have the same aspirations as their white compatriots."
On the other hand, there's this, from Obama himself:
"One good test as to whether folks are doing interesting work is, Can they surprise me?" he tells me. "And increasingly, when I read Daily Kos, it doesn't surprise me. It's all just exactly what I would expect."
Well, at least his mama didn't raise no fools.

September 26, 2006

Threat of democracy beaten back again

Thuggish, beetle-browed War Democrat and abortion foe Bob Casey, the party's Senate hope in Pennsylvania, has succeeded, for the moment at least, in getting the Green Party candidate off the ballot. Thus the Philadelphia Enquirer:

Romanelli thrown off ballot
A judge ruled that the Green Party candidate did not obtain enough valid signatures.

HARRISBURG - A state judge ordered yesterday the Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate removed from the ballot because the party did not have enough valid signatures in its nominating petitions.

But Carl Romanelli, who has been challenged by state Democrats, isn't giving up. Romanelli said he remains hopeful that the state Supreme Court will side with him in a separate matter: an appeal of a state judge's decision rejecting Romanelli's arguments that the 2 percent signature threshold should be based on last year's statewide judicial retention elections, which would reduce the number required from 67,070 to fewer than 16,000.

"The Democrats have a long way to go to get me off the ballot," Romanelli said....

The Democratic State Committee's lawsuit spawned a six-week review of tens of thousands of signatures. Romanelli's lawyer had argued that many of the signatures were incorrectly invalidated because of problems with the state's computerized voter registry, but [Judge] Kelley concluded that it was too late to take up that claim.

Pennsylvania law requires minor party and independent candidates to collect a number of signatures equal to 2 percent of the ballots cast for the largest vote-getter in the last statewide election. This year's threshold was based on Casey's record vote count in winning the treasurer's office in 2004, resulting in an unusually high number.

Lawrence Otter, Romanelli's lawyer, has argued that the number of signatures should be based on last year's retention vote for then-State Supreme Court Justice Russell Nigro, who lost his bid to remain on the bench....

Romanelli's support for abortion rights was considered likely to take away votes that would have otherwise gone to Casey, since Casey and Santorum oppose abortion rights. The Democrats' lawsuit challenged about three-quarters of the 94,000 signatures Romanelli gathered, saying they included fake names, unregistered voters and illegible signatures.

Throw the bums back in

(Editor's note: This item came in over the transom, from a shadowy character calling himself Herb Sorrell III, "Director General of The New-Tuel, a California-based union rectification organization," e-mail kapshow@hotmail.com. Caveat lector.)

It's election time: do you know where your dues are going? The AFL-CIA knows. Visit them with me....

First, you'll notice the site has no go-to on state wage minimums or state job-hour laws, or repealing anti-union laws. You gotta hunt for that stuff. But what's right up front is spending your dues to "educate, mobilize and turn out union household voters to support candidates who support us," including (may I have a drum roll please):

Senator Joe Lieberman (D)
Lieberman will run as an independent candidate.

Joe Lieberman has a lifetime AFL-CIO Congressional Voting record of voting right on working family issues 84 percent of the time.

If that rating sounds impressive, note that barn hen Barney Frank has a 95% rating. In fact all the Massachusetts delegation are 89 to 98%. Ted K is up there with Barney at 95%.

Now we all know how this works. It's like a school math test graded on a curve. The first 75% is a puff pedestal. The last 25% is where it gets real. So Joe's real rating is about 9 out of 25 -- not much better then 25%, in fact, well within long-roll limits.

Now Barney's at about 75% real. He's been forced to defend the brand some. But in losing causes he can run up a tally, eh?

Man, what a scam.

More from the site:

We're working harder but losing ground. Wages are stagnant while costs are soaring. Health care and retirement security are disappearing. And a good, middle-class living is slipping out of reach for millions of America's working families.
After reading that, I was hoping for a dues rebate plan. But apparently duty calls my dues to a higher, nobler crusade -- the donk-ing of the House.

(More editorial meddling. This wretched site is lousy with flag cruft):

Save that fetus, so he can enlist

More delights from Bob Casey, Democratic senate candidate in Pennsylvania:
I’m not ready to abandon this mission [in Iraq]; I think a lot of Americans are not, either... We don’t need a deadline—a timeline; we need new leadership....

Accountability, I think, means replacing Donald Rumsfeld....

The second thing we need, I think, in Iraq, in terms of a new direction is to make sure that we have clear and measurable benchmarks. Not just from the president, but from the Iraqis as well. What is the plan that the president can tell us about with regard to disarming the militias? What is the plan to bring oil production above the pre-war levels?

... I’ll conclude with this: We need to rebuild the American military. We need to have more Special Forces. I’ve called for a doubling in the number of Special Forces....

This would seem to be the locus-classicus Emanuel/Schumer talking points. I especially like this strategem of concentrating on Rummy. You just know that the Dems are giddy with self-congratulation on the fiendish, Machiavellian cunning of this stroke.

The Boot Gap Party

In an uncannily exact echo of fetus-fancying Democrat Bob Casey's talking points, mentioned here but moments ago, Senator Joe "Talks With God" Lieberman (shown above enjoying a well-deserved colonoscopy on live television) has laid out his plan for Iraq. Vile Joe

...called on Monday for the number of United States troops embedded with Iraqi forces to be doubled or tripled, to speed up the training of the Iraqis and help hasten the withdrawal of the Americans.

...Mr. Lieberman, who has been under attack for his support of the war, said that those troops could be added through redeployments, rather than by committing additional troops in the region.

At the same time, he called for increasing the overall size of the United States Army and Marine Corps, to better prepare for looming conflicts....

This is an old, old story. In fact I'm an old, old enough guy to remember Mattress Jack Kennedy beating Nixon in 1960 on an imaginary "missile gap" -- borrowing, with improvements, a gambit tried unsuccessfully by Adlai Stevenson. Maybe "bomber gap" wasn't quite as sexy as "missile gap" -- and certainly, Adlai wasn't as sexy as Jack.

Neither Casey nor Lieberman is as sexy as a warmed-over frittata, but institutional memory dies hard. In fact, it doesn't die before the institution does -- and really, isn't it about time?

This, for me, is the perennial puzzle. All my Democratic friends and neighbors have no use for the military. And yet they have sold their souls to a group of people who think we need a bigger army.

Maybe someday, I'll understand.

Bomb gap closing, thank God

According to the BBC:
'Million bomblets' in S Lebanon

Up to a million cluster bomblets discharged by Israel in its conflict with Hezbollah remain unexploded in southern Lebanon, the UN has said.

The UN's mine disposal agency says about 40% of the cluster bombs fired or dropped by Israel failed to detonate - three times the UN's previous estimate.

... The devices have killed 14 people in south Lebanon since the August truce.

The manager of the UN's mine removal centre in south Lebanon, Chris Clark, said Israel had failed to provide useful information of its cluster bomb strikes, which could help with the clearance operation.

Last month, the UN's humanitarian chief, Jan Egeland, accused Israel of "completely immoral" use of cluster bombs in the conflict....

He said more than 40,000 cluster bomblets had been cleared since the fighting ended on 14 August, but many more remained scattered "in bushes, trees, hedges and wire fences". Mr Clark said information Israel had provided to help with the bomblets' clearance had been "useless"....

Hundreds of bomblets are packed into the cluster bombs, which are fired from the ground or dropped by aircraft.

The bombs detonate in mid-air, dispersing the drinks-can sized bomblets over a wide area. Those which do not explode on impact become like anti-personnel mines.

The use of cluster bombs is not prohibited under international law.

"Not prohibited under international law" -- well, it's nice to know that the Light Of The Nations(tm) is staying under the speed limit on this one.

Cluster bombs, as mentioned above, are what the antiseptic jargon of the military, and of military groupies like the Democratic Party, refers to as "anti-personnel weapons". That is, they are designed to create large areas of land where people can only go at the risk of being maimed or killed, days or weeks or months after the hot fighting is over. It doesn't matter whether the person in question is a soldier, or an olive grower, or a small child -- they're all, as the Pentagon and the Democrats like to say, "interdicted" -- if they want to keep their hands and eyes.

Cluster bombs are a classic sanitary weapon -- the way a country that can afford an air force fights a people who can't. The Israelis love 'em, and we loved 'em in Vietnam. Not surprisingly, we also loved 'em in Kosovo. Shown below, two large-scale consumers of cluster bombs:

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

NATO forces made extensive use of cluster bombs during the conflict in Kosovo.... NATO has confirmed that, in total, 1,392 cluster bombs containing 289,536 bomblets were [dropped] inside Kosovo.

Of these, the overwhelming majority were BL 755 and CBU-87B cluster bombs.... A single BL 755 cluster bomb, a munition first developed in the 1960s, contains 147 bomblets, each reportedly capable of penetrating 25 centimetres of armour with its shaped metal charge... At the same time, the bomblet's coiled casing shatters into 2,000 pre-shaped fragments which are scattered over a radius of some 30-40 metres and are designed to be effective against troops and non-armoured targets.

For a typical "non-armoured target," see the photo at the top of this post -- if you can stand to look at it again.

O ye progs -- when you have a Democrat who'd willing to say something halfway human about this topic, then you can come and knock on my door. Until then -- well, if I were a younger guy, I'd kick your teeth in.

September 27, 2006

Shoot a few generals, pour encourager les autres

I always feel I need to say a kind word for anybody who fires generals -- or even threatens to fire them. The only thing better is shooting them -- and think how quickly the Civil War would have been over if Lincoln had shot McClellan. Would have established a valuable precedent, too.

Among generals currently in the news is retired Major Gen. John Batiste, a commander in Iraq, shown below shaking hands with another two-star while a three-star looks benignly on. (Why can't the damn Iraqis ever come up with an IED when it would really come in handy? Text continues below).

Batiste got his fifteen minutes of fame recently before a conclave of Democratic senators, who fell all over this bloodthirsty megalomaniac:

"Your statement, I believe, defines the word 'courage,' " Sen. Byron Dorgan (N.D.) gushed. Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.) pumped his fist and gave Batiste and his colleagues pats on the biceps. And Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) proclaimed, giddily: "This hearing today could change our country." ... Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), as the last questioner, invited the officers to comment on the effect of a specific withdrawal date.

"The result will be a civil war of some magnitude that will turn into a regional mess," Batiste said without hesitation.

The Dems love Batiste so much because he's a poster boy for their vapid strategy of running against Donald Rumsfeld. Batiste was apparently dissed by Rummy and now has a hard-on for the SecDef. Here are a few excerpts from Batiste's remarks:
There is no substitute for victory and I believe we must complete what we started in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Donald Rumsfeld is not a competent wartime leader. He knows everything, except “how to win.” He surrounds himself with like-minded and compliant subordinates who do not grasp the importance of the principles of war, the complexities of Iraq, or the human dimension of warfare. Secretary Rumsfeld ignored 12 years of U.S. Central Command deliberate planning and strategy, dismissed honest dissent, and browbeat subordinates....

The mission in Iraq is all about breaking the cycle of violence and the hard work to change attitudes and give the Iraqi people alternatives to the insurgency. You cannot do this with precision bombs from 30,000 feet. This is tough, dangerous, and very personal work. Numbers of boots on the ground and hard-won relationships matter....

... we must mobilize our country for a protracted challenge, which must include conveying the “what, why, and how long” to every American, rationing to finance the totality of what we are doing, and gearing up our industrial base in a serious manner....

Now I yield to no one in my loathing for Rumsfeld, but Batiste puts me very strongly in mind of a famous scene from Dr Strangelove:
General Jack D. Ripper: Mandrake, do you recall what Clemenceau once said about war?

Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: No, I don't think I do, sir, no.

General Jack D. Ripper: He said war was too important to be left to the generals. When he said that, 50 years ago, he might have been right. But today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought. I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.

Substitute "terrorist" for "Communist" and you've got General Batiste talking to Chuck Schumer.

Of course, unlike Mandrake, Schumer is buying it.

Clinton whines; Dems have collective orgasm

Democratic Party cheerleader John Nichols, writing in The Nation, was delighted by Bill Clinton's recent tantrum on Fox News:
... there has never been any doubt that Clinton was more serious about combating terrorism than his successor, George W. Bush....

Bush's supremely political presidency treats "homeland security" as a slogan rather than a necessity....

Clinton recognized that Wallace, one of the more competent members of the Fox team, was under pressure to mouth the Republican talking points that the network uses as its reference points. And the former president pounced on that vulnerability. When Wallace started in on the "Why didn't you do more to put Bin Laden and al Qaeda out of business when you were President?" line of questioning, Clinton leapt.

... Clinton was on a roll. Despite Wallace's stumbling attempts to interrupt him, Clinton went year-by-year, incident-by-incident, initiative-by-initiative through his anti-terror efforts. "I authorized the CIA to get groups together to try to kill (bin Laden)," the former president explained....

Love Bill Clinton or hate him, but understand that his appearance on Fox New Sunday was one of those rare moments in recent American history when a target of our drive-by media shot back.

Sounds like Nichols got pretty excited. I watched the same clip and had a very different impression: Cllinton seemed petulant and over-talkative, gabbling about six different topics simultaneously and ready with a different self-exculpation on each one. And of course the bottom line was that Clinton was a better George Bush than George Bush is. Which is pretty much the party's story lately.

But I'm glad Nichols enjoyed it; there can't be much else for him to enjoy these days. And no doubt my attitudes affected my perception just as much as his did.

Out of sight, out of mind

BobW writes:
Here's Pelosi's letter to Hastert insisting on keeping the Congress in session to deal with vital issues like minimum wage, homeland security, health-care, etc. This is the democrats' new aggressive policy of keeping in the Republicans' face through October. No mention of impending war with Iran, thoughl. You can count on us, there, Dennis!


These are the kind of games that the Dems are counting on. Either keep the incumbents in Washington so they can't go back and campaign, or be able to accuse 'em of running out while all this important stuff was piling up. Of course, Pelosi and company's interest in minimum wage, health care, etc., is coming on as suddenly as an attack of dysentery.

There's also an interesting speculative question, which Pelosi & Co. may not have considered: is it really to their advantage to let their candidate be seen more than his opponent? After all, the strategy for this fall appears to be based on the idea that American voters will prefer the devil they don't know.

Squirrel kisses poodle

J Alva Scruggs calls our attention to what must be one of the smarmiest, treacliest, most saccharine artificial-cherry-flavor items ever to appear under the aegis of the BBC:
Former President Clinton.... stood before the Labour conference to offer some gentle, brotherly advice....

"It can change quickly," he [said]. Just look at the US where, he said, so many of the economic advances made under his watch were being undone by his successor George Bush's Republican administration. Here, standing right in front of them was a man many of them consider one of their own....

Perhaps this is what [Blair] has in mind when he finally closes the door of No 10. A Blair Foundation, perhaps even a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Clinton Foundation. The world, not just Great Britain, would be his project. ... Bigger challenges beckon. And the promise of continuing special close trans-Atlantic relationships.

Sick-making, as our Brit cousins might say.

Oh, and what was that bit about "economic advances" on Clinton's watch? I must have missed that.

September 28, 2006

Dems for Lieberman emerge from closet

Alan Smithee writes:
50 former Congressmen, Senators, Clinton vets launch 'Dems for Joe' Lieberman

The squeals of outrage coming from the pwog blogs about this are nearly deafening. "How dare dem party big-whigs not back our pwoggie fave-rave!" they squeak. Not that they'll actually do anything about it, mind you.

According to the item Alan called to our attention:
... founding members include former Sens. David Boren (Okla.), Bob Kerrey (Neb.), John Breaux (La.) and Dennis DeConcini (Ariz.); former Reps. Mel Levine (Calif.) and Leon Panetta (Calif.), who served as chief of staff to President Bill Clinton; former Clinton Agriculture Secretary and former Rep. Mike Espy (Miss.); and former Clinton CIA Director James Woolsey.

They join a much smaller group of incumbent Democratic Senators who have endorsed Lieberman in the general election. Sens. Tom Carper (Del.), Ken Salazar (Colo), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Mary Landrieu (La.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.) all have decided to stick by Lieberman.

Dems help roll a bitter bill (as usual)

From J Alva Scruggs:
(CNSNews.com) - Americans will hear a lot about "donut holes" in the days ahead, but it has nothing to do with the nation's obesity "epidemic."

Democrats and some liberal interest groups are furious that the government's new prescription-drug entitlement program forces some senior and disabled citizens to pay the full tab for their own prescription drugs -- beyond a certain dollar amount. They argue that the cost of prescription drugs is still too high."

Story link: http://tinyurl.com/rgxnl

Here's the House vote, with just enough Democrats to make sure it passed, when it could have been defeated.


And the Senate vote, with -- yes! -- once again enough Democratic votes to tip the scales.


This pattern repeats itself over and over. Greedy corporate welfare queens roll out the big perception management guns, get a few shills on board -- AARP, in this case -- and the Democrats provide just enough votes to make sure the very worst things happen. Afterwards, the Democrats who cost everyone so much time, energy and money are welcomed back into the fold, just like nothing happened. Then a bunch of hopefuls run against something that was preventable in the first place.

What makes this particular issue so awful is the predatory use of our elderly brothers and sisters and the clear prior knowledge that this was a terrible thing to do. Several states were forced to delcare emergencies to cover the havoc created by this legislation.

"About 20 states, including California, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and all of New England, have announced that they will help low-income people by paying drug claims that should have been paid by the federal Medicare program.

"The new federal program is too complicated for many people to understand, and the implementation of the new program by the federal government has been awful," said Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, a Republican. On Saturday, he signed an emergency executive order making the state a "payer of last resort" for the out-of-pocket drug costs."

Story link: http://tinyurl.com/mtlpm

September 29, 2006

Rational apathy

In my unending quest for higher, bigger, longer-lasting social verities, I was reading a pamphlet by the late Mancur Olson on Sweden and its robust welfare state (unfortunately, no pictures of the population at their leisure). There I stumbled over his use (and clever abuse) of the naughty anti-hoi-pollity notion of mass rational ignorance among the electorate. I.e.: it doesn't make sense to get informed about what your gubmint is really up to, when the rational expected benefit to you and yours is less than the cost in time and effort of its acquisition.

Well, it got me to thinking about Father Smiff's hobbyhorse: rational indifference. You get my drift. Orthrian politics, as much as anything else, is the politics of apathy enhancement. As J Alva might say, "no real choice, no real whoop."

And so, just 'cause I'm dry as a Tunisian creek in August right now, I thought I'd say, this Bud's for you, gang -- you in the rational majority: not kinky enough to see it all as monstrous great sport, like me and my blood brother the late Hunter T of Louisville (or is it Lexington), Kenturkey.

Your rational -- no, brilliantly rational -- indifference to the "issues" pending and the "stakes" on the table is a tribute to your good sense. I suspect that but for those innate moral sentiments essential to a troop ape, still strong in most of us, we'd all pass up the voting booth, like we'd pass up jury duty if it weren't compulsory. Something in about 45% of us keeps hope and solidarity alive, among us jobstrapped and abused millions.

I say break the habit. Drop out. What if they held a national election and only the ownership class, I mean the real ownership class, showed up? And now I'm at it, here's one for you, too -- this one a f...ing Diet Coke -- you, the propellerheads and forked-tongue worshipers that can get so into this pending ballot-box battle in November. May God rip you a new asshole.

By the way: my domestic partner -- who makes a nice living -- watches Dancing by the Stars. (Or is it with, or under, the stars?) At any rate, somehow she can root for the white hats of politics too. Not with the energy she expends over the latest scores for this coal haired Latin loopio she fancies on Dancing Through the Zodiac, but enough to be, well, irrational.

Then again, there are those Red Sox....

A bit of blogrolling

Those fine chaps Cockburn and St Clair have published another little you-are-there piece by yours truly. Everybody go buy their books.

The after-orgasms continue

Thus E J Dionne, in the WashPost:
Why Bill Clinton Pushed Back

Bill Clinton's eruption on "Fox News Sunday" last weekend over questions about his administration's handling of terrorism was a long time coming and has political implications that go beyond this fall's elections.

By choosing to intervene in the terror debate in a way that no one could miss, Clinton forced an argument about the past that had up to now been largely a one-sided propaganda war waged by the right....

Propagandistic accounts need to be challenged, systematically and consistently. The debate needed a very hard shove. Clinton delivered it.

Dept. of October surprises

Has Bob Woodward provided one for the Democrats?
Rummy blasted in book
Woodward rips secretary as clueless

Bob Woodward's much-anticipated new book paints a devastating picture of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as an arrogant, indecisive bumbler who won't take responsibility for his mistakes - or even admit any.

Dovetails nicely with the Democrats' idiotic strategy of running against Rumsfeld, and may get them, oh, three or four more votes in Novermber.

A new caucus: Dems for Torture

From J Alva Scruggs:
House and Senate Votes on Torture Bill

Senate: 12 Dems out of 65 yeas


House: 34 proud Dems out of 254 yeas


The Dems caved in a major way. They couldn't even get it together for a statement of principle.

Hey, mullahs, you're next

Yesterday the House of Representatives cavalierly passed on a voice vote the Gearing Up for War With Iran Act -- what's that? Oh, sorry, the "Iran Freedom Support Act," HR 6198. The voice vote implies that nobody was bothering to oppose it.

This monstrosity was co-sponsored by two Republicans and two Democrats. The Democrats are both remote-controlled AIPAC drones. One of them you can probably guess -- it is, of course, old Vlad the Impaler himself, Tom Lantos -- and the other is, as it happens, the Count's ironic-mode counterpart, Grandpa Munster, aka Gary Ackerman, from Great Neck, Long Island.

Done Brown

I discover, to my delight, that Sherrod Brown from Ohio was one of the 34 Democrats who voted for the Torture Bill. Sherrod, you may recall, is the guy who screwed Kosnik pinup boy Paul Hackett out of a promised Senate seat. The Kosniks subsequently discovered, predictably, that Sherrod wasn't so bad. But the pro-torture vote seems to shaken even a few of these hardened crackpot realists. No doubt they'll get over it, but it's fun, for the moment, to watch 'em squirm.

September 30, 2006


Here's a quote found on the "Democratic Underground" site -- and how I wish these cadaverish liberal remnants were underground, six feet underground. The writer shares Father Smiff's dismay at Sherrod Brown voting for torture:
You go on voting for people [like Brown -- JSP] who have legitimized torture and the breakdown of our constitution, and encouraging others to vote for them too. And when the descent into fascism becomes so obvious that you can no longer pretend it isn't happening, you have no right to wonder how we got there, because you helped it happen. You are responsible.
You know, I just can't get very worked up about this issue. Who's kidding who here? It's like finally getting around to passing the Nuremberg Laws in, oh, 1944. Whenever our rulers have needed to traduce our fundemental civil rights on a mass scale, they've managed to get along pretty well before this.
  • 1942 -- Japanese-American citizen internment
  • 1919 -- Mass deportations of "undesirable" citizens, and and last but not least,
  • 1876 -- Jim Crow begins his 90-year dance.

Misanthropes for America: join now

Geez, i'm getting damn negative these days.

At least I know when it all started -- it was when that Ale and Quail club, the senate Democratic caucus, welcomed back indo-crat Joe "Evergreen" Liebermintz Then just a few minutes ago the small brash voice in my head that sounds suspiciously like my late father hits me with this: "So what in hell do you like about this country?"

Well I'll tell ya: it's the American people -- the whole goddamn grace-forsaken motley bastardized bunch of us. And a good thing too -- 'cause we can prolly plan on seeing a lot more of each other... in hell.

More egomaniac assholes, please

A correspondent writes:
From http://counterpunch.org/nader09302006.html, which is an otherwise standard-issue jeremiad against the Administration's policies, something only an egomaniac and asshole would dare say.

Ralph Nader:

Democrats betray their principles to avoid last-minute attack ads. Our democracy is the big loser.
Except, of course, when the target was...Ralph Nader. To this day the donks are still bitter about how Nader "stole" the election from them...as your fine blog pointed out a few months back, refer to http://stopmebeforeivoteagain.org/2006/09/joe_lieberman_the_ralph_nader.html

And of course, Ralph was always the heads-in-the cloud idealist...we're long past the period where Democrats had any principles left to betray.

The only light at the end of this Bush tunnel comes from many law professors and knowledgeable members of Congress, such as Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT), who believe that when this law reaches the Supreme Court, its offending and vague provisions will be declared unconstitutional."
I figure that's what was going through the heads of all the donks that signed on to the Torture bill... just wait until 2008!
Your editor agrees, of course, with all these observations except two. I don't think the Democrats have any principles to betray, except the principle of staying employed, and I don't think they had anything in their heads when they voted on the Torture Enablement Act except staying employed.

About September 2006

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

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