« September 2006 | Main | November 2006 »

October 2006 Archives

October 2, 2006

Jupiter and Ganymede

The only mildly interesting thing about Foley buggering congressional pages is the timing of the revelation. One can't help wondering whether the Democrats have known about this for a while and found a way to spring it just now. Apparently the story originally broke on a very fishy-looking blog, written in a naif style that somehow doesn't ring quite true. Sheer speculation on my part, of course, and very unfair to the Democrats, no doubt: surely if they had known something like was going on, they'd've been shocked, shocked! and moved immediately to do something about it.

What's amazing is that Congress still has these ridiculous pages running around. A gaggle of 16-year old kids at the beck and call of a conclave of older men, whose professional qualifications include a lack of scruple and pleasure in exercising power over others -- that's a recipe for institutionalized pedophilia.

Does anybody remember the page scandals of twenty years ago?

... Rep. Dan Crane (R-Ill.) and Rep. Gerry Studds (D-Mass.) had engaged in sexual relationships with ... 17-year-old congressional pages. In Crane's case, it was a 1980 relationship with a female page and in Studds's case, it was a 1973 relationship with a male page.

... Crane, who tearfully apologized for his transgression, lost his bid for reelection in 1984. Studds, however, refused to apologize... and he continued to be reelected until his retirement in 1996.

Oh, and they kept the pages around.

When I was a kid, one of my classmates, in the little town where I grew up, went off to be a page -- I can't recall whether it was the Senate or the House. He was a nice-looking, clean-cut, jocky kid, not the sharpest tack in the box, but likable enough -- a modest, unpretentious, aw-shucks kind of guy.

He came back from his time in Washington utterly changed. His modest, ingenuous demeanor had been replaced by an over-confident, over-familiar, glad-handing, bicep-kneading, look-you-in-the-eye man-of-the-world schtick. There was something very false and smug about it. He's wasn't crafty enough, at bottom, to conceal his precocious sense of initiation into an elite, esoteric craft of influencing people -- if not necessarily winning friends.

The last I heard of him, he weighed three hundred pounds and ran a liquor store in a strip mall.

Nice work, if you can get it

We've speculated here before about what drives the Democrats. Are they, as conventional Poli Sci suggests, a vote-maximizing enterprise? Or are they something else?

A delightful hatchet job on John Murtha in the New York Times paints in some vivid evidence for an alternative theory:

A gang of about two dozen Democrats mill around [Murtha's] seat. A procession of others walk back to request pet spending projects, known as earmarks. And Republicans come by, asking him to enlist some of those Democrats to join them on close votes. “Whether they get what they want in the bill or they get the votes they are looking for, nobody ever leaves completely disappointed,” said Representative Paul E. Kanjorski, a Pennsylvania Democrat often found in what is known as the Murtha corner.

As the top Democrat on the House military spending subcommittee, he often delivers Democratic votes to Republican leaders in a tacit exchange for earmarks for himself and his allies.

In the last year, Democratic and Republican floor watchers say, Mr. Murtha has helped Republicans round up enough Democratic votes to narrowly block a host of Democratic proposals: to investigate federal contracting fraud in Iraq, to reform lobbying laws, to increase financing for flood control, to add $150 million for veterans’ health care and job training, and to exempt middle-class families from the alternative minimum tax....

Mr. Murtha can punish lawmakers, as well. Those who do not support the defense spending bill, for example, discover their next earmark requests go nowhere....

“He delivers Democrats for key votes, which increases his clout and ability to get more earmarks, which then increases his ability to get Democratic votes,” said Steve Ellis, a vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense....

Mr. Murtha has used his influence in the caucus to place friends in strategic positions on appropriations committees and other House panels. Representative Nancy Pelosi, a California liberal who is the current Democratic leader, is a close Murtha ally. He put her on the appropriations committee early in her career and managed her campaign to be leader.

Well, read the whole thing. I hate to say anything good about the New York Times, but this is a very revealing item. Jack Murtha doesn't need a majority in the House -- he's doing just fine as it is, thank you.

In fact, looking at this story alongside the juicy details of the Foley scandal, I'm tempted to withdraw my earlier harsh comments about the seraglio of pages. The more time these guys spend buggering the pages, the less time they have to fuck the public.

Iconographical synchronity

J Alva Scruggs found a piquant web page, and comments:

What's remarkable is that there appears to be a squirrel wearing a judo gi on that page.

October 3, 2006

Prodigal welcomed home; MoveOn in denial

From The Hill:
Lieberman says he has been promised seniority

Sen. Joe Lieberman, the longtime Democratic senator from Connecticut running for re-election as an independent, says the party leadership has assured him he would keep his seniority if he returns to Congress.... Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) denies making a decision.

Lieberman said his desire is to stay atop Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.... The governmental affairs panel is primarily responsible for oversight and investigations of the executive branch....

Tom Matzzie, the Washington director of MoveOn.org, a liberal advocacy group that supports Lamont, said ... “This is a Lieberman campaign tactic... Democratic leaders are supporting Ned Lamont.”

* * * *

Well, no, Tom. They're pretty obviously not.

Matzzie (shown at left in an earlier avatar, before he shaved and started wearing suits) reminds me of poor Jacob in the Bible, who labored seven years for Rachel and awoke after his wedding night to find that the bride's father had pulled a switcheroo and subsituted Rachel's older sister, Leah -- probably the homely sister, although the Bible tactfully doesn't say. Jacob promptly volunteered to labor another seven years for Rachel, and I'm sure that's what Matzzie will do, too.

Gotta admire the guy's perseverance. But I don't envy him his wedding night with the tiny toad of Bridgeport.

October 4, 2006

Let's hear it for endless war

From the Washington Post:
Democrats criticized Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) yesterday for saying that the Afghan war against Taliban guerrillas can never be won militarily and for favoring bringing "people who call themselves Taliban" into the government.

Democrats accused Frist of trying to "cut and run" in Afghanistan, something Republicans have been accusing Democrats of seeking to do in Iraq.

"Senator Frist now suggests that the best way forward in Afghanistan is to coddle the Taliban by welcoming Taliban members into a coalition government, as if 9/11 had never happened," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said yesterday in a statement.

The Republicans had their war, and now the Democrats, it seems, want to have one of their own -- or at least, adopt one.

October 5, 2006

Spank the donkey

Reechard writes:

Can Dem blogging grow hair on your palms? Newly designated as "mature" content by SmartFilter internet censor software, Kos and his polymorphously centrist flock are claiming they're being unfairly lumped in with porn merchants.

Fears of a "Kos Blackout" at companies utilizing these filters have the party hearties bewailing being able to access Limbaugh and Drudge from their work machines but not the truly sweaty stuff they've come to depend on as a substitute for real intimacy. "I don't know what I would do," writes one KOSser in withdrawal, "if I couldn't access during the day."

Ironically, one of Bill Clinton's last deeds before leaving office was signing the Children's Internet Protection Act, which lifted the fortunes of censorware makers like SmartFilter by forcing their products on libraries receiving federal funds.

Shock the donkey

What makes the Democrats tick? Surely, you'll say, it's the obvious thing -- the thing that drives any political party: the desire to take power.

I don't think so. Oh, they'd love to wield power if it fell into their laps -- as they hope it will do next month, thanks to the almost incredible blundering of the other side. And if there were some risk-free way of gaining power -- some Big Red Button they could push -- of course they'd push it.

But these are daydreams. The real, workaday, nine-to-five job of any Democrat is to hold on to what he's got, and risk it as little as possible. And I think that once we really take this idea in, it has some pretty important implications.

The conventional poli-sci picture of parties as vote-maximizing enterprises is deeply rooted in our brains. Reportage on what passes for "politics" in this country concentrates on who's getting votes and how they're getting 'em. Politics seems to be as much about votes as basketball is about baskets.

The difference, of course, is that in basketball, if you lose, you lose. But in our Byzantine, oligarchic political system, the losing party doesn't really lose -- and in fact, even the losing candidates often enough don't really lose either. They may have to play second fiddle for a while, but they're still in the orchestra -- and still getting paid, one way or another. The losing party may have to content itself with a smaller share of the goodies, and less distinguished tables in their favorite restaurants, but they're still in the game. Losing candidates may have to drop back to a cushy civilian job provided by some corporate patron -- don't throw me in that briar patch, Brer Fox -- or, horrors, serve a term in a think tank. But they're still employed.

They'd rather be congressmen, or senators, of course -- and once they become congressmen, or senators, or governors, or state legislators, or mayors, they'll do almost anything to stay in office.

In other words, they're structurally risk-averse. They won't bet their jobs on a strategy that might help the party gain power. Party, schmarty -- as long as the party stands behind me, I could care less about a majority in the House. And since the party's General Will is little more than the arithmetic sum of these individual wills, then the party's drive for power is feeble at best. The party is its individual time-serving careerists writ large, a Leviathan aggregated from a myriad of nonentities, like Hobbes' famous allegory.

If the party were about taking power, you'd think they would figure out that what they're doing is not working -- that they're failures. But they don't see it in that light. Every incumbent occupies his seat because his strategy worked for him; every incumbent is in fact a success story, and you don't change a successful formula.

That's why the only way to make them change is to make the strategy stop working. As long as they get a pellet when they press the triangulation lever, they'll keep pressing it. If they get an electric shock instead, they'll stop. A donkey is at least as smart as a lab rat.

Which brings me to my point: defeat is the only electric shock that will get the donkey's attention. And I mean defeat in the general election, caused by a "spoiler" third party, which is the only effectual kind.

Primary defeats, like Lieberman's, while satisfying, are more difficult to accomplish. Typically there is only one "progressive" challenger, so it's a head-to-head race -- no three-way splits. And then, of course, the only people who come out for primaries are the party faithful. And usually, the challenger is not a millionaire like Ned Lamont.

Moreover, even when primary challenges are successful, they don't necessarily succeed, as in the Connecticut debacle, where in spite of his primary defeat, Lieberman appears to be on his way back to Washington.

But when a third party really makes a long-standing party strategy stop working, then something has got to give.

Consider the fate of New York state's Republican party:


The seeds of the Republicans' current malaise were sown under [governor Nelson] Rockefeller, observers say. With Tammany's demise, state politics shifted from issues of reform versus machine to a more ideological focus. Rockefeller's brand of liberal Republicanism, increasingly out of step with a national party turning more conservative, began drawing more criticism even in New York.

The tensions boiled over in 1970, when Republican U.S. Senator Charles Goodell, appointed by Rockefeller after the assassination of Democrat Robert F. Kennedy, was defeated by James Buckley, who ran on the third-party Conservative ticket....

Since 1974, a year after Rockefeller left Albany, no Republican has won statewide without the support of the tiny Conservative Party, whose power lies in its ability to split the conservative vote if Republicans nominate someone not to its liking.

Now why can't we do that?

As I've said before, I personally would prefer to see the Democratic Party vanish as an institution. But even if you're not willing to go quite that far -- if your goal is to turn the Democratic Party into a real, "progressive" party, rather than to destroy it -- then your immediate strategy has to be the same as mine. You've got to shock the donkey, not reward it for plodding on in its well-trodden path.

Baloo & Kaa, LLC

I note with amusement that Bill Clinton -- said by people who have met him to be quite charming -- is campaigning today for former Navy brass-hat Joe Sestak, who is running for Congress in Pennsylvania. Regular readers may recall that Sestak was probably the single creepiest item in the whole creepy scene when I attended the Yearly Kos convention last summer.

October 6, 2006

Pryor restraint

J Alva Scruggs writes:

Mark Pryor -- candidate for stupidest senator

From the Arkansas News:

"Pryor joined three other senators on his first visit to the country, where he met in Baghdad with American generals and Iraqi officials.

He said he left with an impression of Iraq as a complicated country with progress in some areas but enough problems to leave Pryor troubled.

"I think Iraq is at a turning point," Pryor said in a telephone interview from Jordan. "I think over the next few months, three or four months, if we don't see some real progress in Iraq, we need to be very concerned.""

A turning point! He'll be seeing lights at the ends of tunnels next.

The kids may be all right, but fuck 'em anyway

Thus Nancy Pelosi:
In recent days, Pelosi said, [the Democrats'] prospects have improved by the discovery that former Republican Rep. Mark Foley of Florida had sent sexually explicit computer messages to teenage male pages....

"It's an opportunity for growth among women" for the Democrats, she said. "They don't always vote and this could be a motivation."

With married women, in particular, it's a huge issue, she added.

Among older voters, too. "If there's an ethical issue, seniors take a hike" and abandon politicians they blame, she said. "If we hold onto seniors we win the election."

Neither fight nor switch

Poor David Sirota is having conniptions as the Lieberman juggernaut rolls on in Connecticut, crushing Democratic loyalist pwogs by the thousands under its sanguinary wheels:
Jerome Armstrong [has] got it all wrong when it comes to the Lamont-Lieberman race....[H]e says he"view[s] this race as one of a weak Democrat that has appeal for Republicans against a strong partisan progressive Democrat."

... [I]t's easy for us all to sit back and comfort ourselves and say, yeah, if Lieberman is reelected, he will just be a bad Democrat, but he won't switch, and he'll be a Democrat, so who cares? People say this even as the mounting evidence suggest the contrary - and very strongly. This is a guy who is now running to national newspapers making overt threats about switching parties.

Why on earth should the man switch parties? The Dems need him more than he needs them. And he's probably more useful to the Administration on his present side of the aisle. If he were a Republican, he'd just be another Republican, but as a Democrat, he's an asset. And of course the other Democrats are fine with that.

Sirota's keening here is in response to a comment by Jerome Armstrong:

I view this race as one of a weak Democrat that has appeal for Republicans against a strong partisan progressive Democrat. It's similar to a lot of mayoral races that happen nowadays, where, because of the weakness of the Republican party, the to-the-right Democrat/Independent wins their vote. Such is the electoral landscape in situations where the Republican party is too weak to compete-- like the CT Senate race.
Never thought I would agree with anything Jerome Armstrong has to say, but he's got this one right. What he doesn't seem to have done is drawn the full implications of his insight.

He paints -- correctly, I think -- a picture of party politics in which the stronger party expands ideologically to fill any vacuum left by the weaker one. But Jerome -- what does this say about the nature of the parties? What, in particular, does it say about the idea, so beloved of you and your fellow Kosniks, that the Democrats are the more "progressive" party, if it's perfectly willing, given the opportunity, to do the Republicans' supposed job as well as its own?

October 7, 2006

Hillary and the God Botherers

J Alva Scruggs passed along this gem from the Atlantic Monthly :
Of the many realms of power on Capitol Hill, the least understood may be the lawmakers’ prayer group....

Most of the prayer groups are informally affiliated with a secretive Christian organization called the Fellowship, established in the 1930s by a Methodist evangelist named Abraham Vereide....

Though it still sponsors what is now called the National Prayer Breakfast, the Fellowship scrupulously avoids publicity, as Vereide insisted it must.... Speaking about a group is strongly discouraged, and what transpires at meetings is strictly off the record....[A]mong the prayer groups, one holds special status: a tight-knit gathering of about a dozen senators which still meets every Wednesday morning for prayer and discussion, led by Douglas Coe himself.... The roster of regular participants has included such notable conservative names as Brownback, Santorum, Nickles, Enzi, and Inhofe. Then, in 2001, just after the new class of senators was sworn in, another name was added to the list: Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I hadn't known about this outfit The Fellowship. Appears to be a sort of Methodist version of Opus Dei. Vereide, the founder, according to an LA Times piece from 2002, was
a Methodist evangelist who feared that Socialists were corrupting municipal government in Seattle in the mid-1930s. He thought he could bring about change by organizing regular prayer groups with local business and government leaders.

He took his idea to Washington, D.C., in 1942.... Pentagon officials secretly met at the group's Washington Fellowship House in 1955 to plan a worldwide anti-communism propaganda campaign endorsed by the CIA.... [T]he group financed a film called "Militant Liberty" that was used by the Pentagon abroad.

Wikipedia adds that "The organization has been active in anti-Communist activities globally, and has had ties to Brazilian dictator Marshal Artur da Costa e Silva, General Suharto of Indonesia, Salvadoran general Carlos Eugenios Vides Casanova, as well as Honduran general Gustavo Alvarez Martinez. "

A 2003 piece in Harper's is quite an eye-opener:

The Family is, in its own words, an “invisible” association, though its membership has always consisted mostly of public men. Senators Don Nickles (R., Okla.), Charles Grassley (R., Iowa), Pete Domenici (R., N.Mex.), John Ensign (R., Nev.), James Inhofe (R., Okla.), Bill Nelson (D., Fla.), and Conrad Burns (R., Mont.) are referred to as “members,” as are Representatives Jim DeMint (R., S.C.), Frank Wolf (R., Va.), Joseph Pitts (R., Pa.), Zach Wamp (R., Tenn.), and Bart Stupak (D., Mich.). Regular prayer groups have met in the Pentagon and at the Department of Defense, and the Family has traditionally fostered strong ties with businessmen in the oil and aerospace industries.

... [T]he Family's unofficial headquarters [is] a mansion ["the Cedars"] that the Family bought in 1978 with $1.5 million donated by, among others, Tom Phillips, then the C.E.O. of arms manufacturer Raytheon, and Ken Olsen, the founder and president of Digital Equipment Corporation....

The LA Times piece adds that
A four-story townhouse on C Street, two blocks from the Capitol, is owned by a sister organization of the Fellowship, and is registered with the IRS and the District of Columbia as a church. It pays no taxes. Yet eight members of Congress live there. "We sort of don't talk to the press about the house," said Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who lives there.... But at least one member of Congress who lives there, Rep. Michael F. Doyle (D-Pa.), said he didn't know the property was registered as a church.... Besides Stupak, Wamp and Doyle, residents include Nevada's Ensign and Reps. Ed Bryant (R-Tenn.), John Elias Baldacci (D-Maine) and James DeMint (R-S.C.). Former Rep. Steve Largent (R-Okla.) lived there until he left Congress to run for governor.
I don't imagine for one second that Hillary believes in anything but success, and indeed the same is surely true for many, though probably not all, of the Fellowship/Family's professed and oblates. It's interesting to see how these initiate groups form spontaneously in society, sometimes with an original purpose like Vereide's, and sometimes not, like street gangs. Once established, though, they become their own raison d'etre and continue to thrive on the adherence of those who simply want to get close to others who have formerly adhered. (That would be Hillary.)

In a pleasing coincidence, it seems that one of the Senatorial front men for the Fellowship's national prayer breakfast this year was corn-fed Arkansas donk Senator Mark Pryor, abused here only yesterday.

October 8, 2006

Mike Fink, king of the keelboat men

I bet you're all asking your domestic partners, "So where has J S Paine gone?"

Yes, I haven't posted here in some time. I've been in my tree house with my three miniature dachshunds, pondering, with an unaccustomed Teutonic depth, my personal mission here at Stop Me, and I emerge now only for an update.

But heed this, donks of all ages and stripes: heed this, and prepare yourselves. For this is a promise -- apres the November ballot temblor that restores the House to the long-ears, furry ole Uncle Paine will re-emerge from his retreat, not the piddling vetch of recent memory, but as a new brilliant all-court-press gadfly, an American Socrates on asignment to the US house of representatives.

Yes, Stop Me fans, I'm morphing under the private nightly tutelage of the late Hunter S Thompson, of Louisville, Kentucky. And take this to the bank -- thanks to the gonzo geist, I'm becoming a vastly nastier, more blatant, beastlier disgrace to the jay birds then I ever dreamed possible.

Behold the coming of Master Paine! Dazzling scourge of all sap-running progs among the House donkery. Master Paine, sole proprietor of a mordant, spine-twisting shame shivering, four-dimensional ray, able to reduce the likes of a henny Frank or Tom Thumb Lantos into a puddle of cold sweat and eternal humiliation.

Stay tuned. the purple force surges within me.

Unenlightenment among the masses

Though still in arboreal retreat mode til the day after election day, none the less in an effort to at least partially fulfill my bloglogations -- I stumbled upon a paper from 2005, sure to become a golden oldie someday. It's by our ambitious but affable pal, Princeton poli sci tiger Larry Bartels.

With a good degree of success, Larry attempts to unlock the paradox we progs found so prevalent, looking back over the voting behaviour of America's most jobbled palefaces -- i.e. their persistent tendency to prefer candidates of the party of rich man tax cuts, and their patently false promises of abundance for all, over the long-eared supposed party of the common man.

Now of course we hear the line that the fools were voting their values, not their pocketbooks -- as if they bought the costless placedo snake-oil at top dollar, just so long as the Bible said to "follow such men."

But Larry sez "Just wait a second here." Larry's discovered another possibility, dearer to the hearts of Benthamites and liberators and free-traders everywhere, namely: "self interest." Only it's unenlightened self-interest -- the great abiding fear of J S Mill and Gladstone.

Seems if you review the mind-set surveys around the time of the two big tax cuts in '01 and '03, as Larry sez, you'll find in there Homer buying the notion of cutting Mr Burns' taxes, cause Homer figured "there's a little something in it for myself" -- even if, as he seems to know,, it's a very little.

And here's the farce of it: a full 180, taking in all the major knock-ons and other secondary effects like spending cuts, deficit increases, even higher taxes someday -- it all turns the paltry up-front bird-in-the-hand jobblers' share of the tax cut into a long-run net loss, for maybe the whole bottom 80% of American households.

Now as we all recall, this was not the first jobblers' blanket-toss by the Repubs. They'd been at it for 30-plus years at this point. Just how nasty had it gotten, even before, yes before, the '01-'03 bush plutotax cuts?

I like this comparison. Larry points out: In the late Clinton 90's, the top 13 thousand households had pretty close to the same total income as the bottom 20 million households. Don't think Homer didn't kinda know this, dislike it and wish it were otherwise. And yet, instead of a massive rectification of this re configurement, after Bush got appointed and went to reward his base, damned if the Homericans didn't cry "more more more!"

Why? Not because they didn't understand the '01 cut would grossly favor the rich. Hell, 85% even knew it wouldn't do them much good at all. But according to Larry's sifting of the surveys, it was because they didn't "connect all the dots," either because they weren't paying attention, or not thinking beyond step one -- i.e. they were not informed, not "enlightened," and they didn't tie the cut to all its nasty blowbacks for them.

The assumption is that by behaving -- that is,voting -- differently, they might have achieved a different result. But while the Repubs were cutting income taxes, there was a bipartisan raising of payroll taxes. And then, Clinton promised a jobblers tax cut, renegged in '93.

To me it makes sense: when somebody gives you money, take it. Take whatever the bastards give you -- and the donks give you nothing. Especially if you play by the rules, you get nothing but lectures to play by the rules some more.

To my way of thinking, Larry quite nicely gets all the way to Monte Hall's final prize doors, and then chooses the wrong one.

Homer don't trust the donks' long-range promises. He'd rather have the repugs' short-term up-front workin slobs' rebate tip. It may not be much, but it's better then a sermon on the need for the groundlings to get some Higher Ed.

October 9, 2006

This year, it's all about the base

Nice fact:

15 of the Republicans' victories in 1994 could have changed, based on relative base turnout rates. Had Democrats in key districts won a combined 52,000 more votes, there would have been no Speaker Gingrich.

Moral: in these control swings, despite the aggregate drama, it's always close as hell on the ground, district by district. We progs, if we sat this one out, could easily stop this farce faux reversal of power we're headed for this November, and keep the repubs where they belong, in the congressional driver's seat, so it remains 100% their horror show.

Lieberman becomes a repub, and the core winner dems have a nervous breakdown. What's not to like?

Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin

Maybe I'm just too elated by the North Korean nuclear test, but this item really put me over the top:
The insurgents, having learned from earlier fights with the Marines, were no longer fighting in the streets. Instead, they waited inside homes, ready to spray bullets as Marines pushed through a door or entryway.

Some had injected themselves with lidocaine, Novocain or adrenaline, allowing them to fight even after receiving mortal wounds, a spectacle the Marines called the "Night of the Living Dead."

This is why the day of the empires is over, my friends.

Pathos & bathos

JSP earlier posted -- without attribution, the snake -- an item from the AFL-CIA blog, to wit:
Easily forgotten is how close 15 of the Republicans’ victories were in 1994. Had Democrats in key districts won a combined 52,000 more votes, there would have been no “Speaker Gingrich.”

... You can be sure that on Nov. 8 there will be another list of races decided by such small margins. It’s up to us whether those names will deliver change or more of the same.

That last line made me laugh -- a long, harsh, bitter laugh. I can't imagine a better way to ensure "more of the same" than voting for a Democrat.

October 10, 2006

Franklin who?

J Alva Scruggs writes:
The USS Franklin D. Roosevelt was sold for scrap during the Carter administration.


This is what I've been trying, with very limited success, to get across to people for a while now. Even the myths of Roosevelt were toast by then. The Dems were desperate to shed the pragmatism of balancing capitalism with a welfare state. They appear to me to have wholly bought into the Republican concept of general prosperity and democratic participation as threats. They've been peddling penny wisdom with great piles of pound foolishness ever since.

Personally, I would have said that the Democrats were trying to backpedal on the Roosevelt legacy as soon as Roosevelt was in his grave, if not before (though they had to put the project on hold for a while there, in the mid-60s). But it certainly makes for a sweet symmetry that it was Carter who delivered the symbolic coup de grace.

It's interesting that Carter is the forgotten Democrat among Kosniks and all the other Dem-identified pwogs. They always fast-forward from Kennedy to Clinton -- and come to think of it, they don't usually have much to say about Johnson, either. I suppose their worship of Harry Truman is based on sheer ignorance.

Stoller waxes orgasmic

Pwog-blogger Matt Stoller (shown above with his hero) is a very happy guy today:

What's happening all across the country is that second and third tier candidates are proving to be much tougher opponents for the Republicans than they expected. At this point in past cycles, the map is usually shrinking as the party committees must cull challengers who just aren't getting it done. This time, the map of possible districts that are competitive is actually growing. Early targeting on swing districts simply didn't matter. There are a couple of key drivers that have changed the map. One is Dean's 50 state strategy, which has put organizers everywhere in the country to identify and help candidates. Another is the netroots and the ability to shuffle money to candidates without going through a party committee. And still another is the flexibility with which the party committees have been willing to adapt to Dean and Chris Bowers's strategy (even if they chafed a bit at first).
Piffle. I know all these people think Howard Dean is the Second Coming, but it's just laughable to claim that whatever enhanced prospects the Democrats may have next month are due to his "strategy." If the Democrats are getting a bounce, it's solely because the Republicans are imploding, and Nature abhors a vacuum. And as for the "netroots" -- oh, how the pros must laugh and laugh, when they read this stuff.

Stoller, however, once he gets going in this vein, can work himself into quite a high state of self-stimulation:

It's very exciting to watch this party being transformed. We aren't just improving the model for electing Democrats, we are coopting the existing centers of power and helping them see that playing our game can advance their interests as well as ours. If Democrats take the House and/or Senate, it's going to be a very different party leadership than the one that sits in DC right now. It'll be a more independent, more confident, and more fun group of leaders, and all of that will infuse the existing members with excitement and energy.
And if you believe that....

Okay, okay, BRING the fucking horse in, see if I care

Laocoon, you remember, was the Trojan priest who warned his townsmen against the famous horse. Poseidon, who had an interest in the outcome, sent serpents out of the sea to eat him up for his ill-timed negativity. He is shown above, looking remarkably buff for a guy who lived before there were personal trainers, in the mortal agony that made him immortal.

I don't have Laocoon's pecs, but otherwise, I'm feeling a lot of sympathy for the old boy. My fellow Trojans are pretty giddy. The Greeks -- and I do mean Greeks, as in Sigma Chi -- appear to be gone or going, and on the shore there remains a mighty horse -- or no, look at the ears, it's a donkey! It has Sherrod Brown's face and Hillary Clinton's hindquarters, and there's something about the expression on its face that brings Joe Lieberman to mind. The chittering Trojans have hooked up the ropes, and spat on their hands, and are preparing to drag it into the citadel -- and oh shit, here come the snakes. It hadda be snakes.

Well, look on the bright side, old ancient contrarian. Once the horse is in town -- if you can just get away from those goddam snakes -- you will have the pleasure, not to be underestimated, of saying "I told you so. I told you, and I told you, but did you listen?!..."

Consciencelessness doth make cowards of us all

From the Washington Post:
There is no significant support for withdrawing U.S. forces immediately. Half of those surveyed -- about the same percentage it has been throughout the year -- said they would like to see troop levels decrease. Despite the high number of casualties, only a fifth said they supported immediate withdrawal.
Such a poll result makes cowards of 'em all -- we've seen it before, as in in 1970 over 'Nam.

October 11, 2006

Social insecurity: a bipartisan effort

Jacob Hacker on the Dems:
I want the Democrats to return their roots, so to speak-reclaiming their voice as the defender of middle-class Americans on pocketbook issues. And the way I argue Democrats can do this is by speaking forthrightly about the rapidly increasing insecurity of American workers and their families....
His pitch: "it's the insecurity, stupid." Seems we jobbled Americans have growing risk and growing "loss aversion."

Stat: In 1970, US households had ~7% probability of a 50% future drop in income. Fifty per cent! Today, after a pretty relentless climb upwards over the last 35 years, it's now over 16% -- a 16% chance of a total household train wreck. Here's his graph:

Presumably the Democratic "roots" Hacker mentions are to be found somewhere off to the left of this chart.

Unions: screw the worker, protect the brand

More from Jacob Hacker, now not just at Fort Drum but on Slate, too.

Hacker's knees knock rather disappointingly on single-payer health -- because the unions are against it! Instead he's for another hodgepodge combo, another turkey rope that confriggulates a higher super-shuffle biz-fed partnership.

What a fuzzlement, what a waste, what a union-backed pile of horse apples.

Hey I'm union all the way down to my deepest declivity, but it's pure piecardery for unions to stay in the "better fringe benefit" biz.

In fact, I contend it's precisely these fat-cat "look for the union contract difference" meows that isolates the shrinking unionized high-wage kulaks from the growing mass of us Wal-Mart clipped "restock and smile" type jobblers.

Deep thought

Kick one habit, and another comes to take its place. I finally stopped reading Daily Kos, and now I read myDD.com. In my own defense, I will say that it's much more entertaining -- Kos, these days, is like a 24/7 Rotary Club lunch.

Here's Matt Stoller, philosophe:

I studied some Soviet history in college, and one of the most fascinating anecdotes my professor told me was about what happened when the archives were finally opened to Western historians. You see, the papers that historians had access to prior to the fall of the USSR were mostly from low-level bureaucrats, and the language they used about their amoral behavior was excessively bureaucratic.... Historians expected that when the curtains were lifted and papers from top officials were made available, they would be able to get a sense of the 'real' intent of the leadership, in normal Russian.

What happened of course is that, like with any regime loosed from its moral bearings, the language the top officials used was the same bureaucratic language used by the middle management. In essence, the Soviet system failed because its language codified corruption and bleached morality from it. Leaders thought in terms of the language they used, and that language did not allow for error or moral failure on the part of the state.

Quite a Lakoffian insight, innit? Or even a campus-PC one -- words rule the world, and politics is all about diction.

It gets better:

...Verizon is a bad actor in the political process. If you put legislation through on a Federal level, they will go to the states. If you go to the states, they will go to the FCC, or to the localities. If you stop them there, they will go to the courts. At no point, however, will Verizon accept the democratic process as legitimate, at no point will this company accept a set of laws that they don't like. Our country is built on the consensus of the governed, that even if you don't like all of our laws, you buy into the process of forming them and consent to all of them.
This is quite stunning, really. Here we have a guy of some consequence, at least in our little world of blogland -- a guy who is no longer sixteen -- talking like a high-school debate team, and apparently believing it.

Matt, Matt -- apply yourself, and think -- what do you believe the Constitution is for? Who wrote it, and why? Did your undergraduate studies cover this topic, along with the prose style of the Soviet bureaucracy?

October 12, 2006

You mean... they LIED to us?!

My new whipping boy, Matt Stoller, has finally faced the terrible truth:
First, the bad news. Here's what's going on.

[Quoting New York Times] "Despite the rush from many Democrats to endorse Mr. Lamont after his triumph -- only a handful chose personal loyalty to Mr. Lieberman over the Democratic nominee picked by voters -- some now quietly admit they would be satisfied to see their longtime colleague returned to Washington. But none of the Democrats would speak for attribution because of pressure to publicly appear supportive of their party's nominee, and they were granted anonymity so they could speak freely about their feelings toward Mr. Lieberman."

After the primary, DC Democrats dissuaded Lamont from attacking Lieberman, essentially promising him that they would talk Joe out of running. This was of course a lie, but it worked. They lied not only to Lamont, but to us, and to regular activist Democrats who work for the party and play by the rules.

Matt seems genuinely stunned. One of his commenters, who seems to have been born the day before yesterday, or maybe even last week, frothed:
When you run an anti-establishment campaign, even when you win the primary, never ever never ever never ever assume they're gonna back you. NEVER assume that. Most of the time they won't. ... That's why they have a stranglehold on "their" chosen ones. I have even seen the parties throw their own general election candidates to lose to the other side as punishment for a winning quixotic insurgent campaign.

Lamont people were bloody FOOLS to believe that bullshit from the party, for they are back-stabbing sons-of-bitches. NEVER EVER believe the party like Lamont did, because you'll get fucked every time.

Couldnta said it better myself.... But if this chap has seen the setup so clearly, why is he still hanging around?

Hedging their bets

According to the San Francisco Chronicle:
Business hedges bets by donating to Pelosi
Firms open wallets in case Democrats take back House

Traditionally Republican big business interests are hedging their electoral bets this year by increasing their campaign contributions to Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, whose party is given a healthy shot at taking House control in the Nov. 7 elections....

Pelosi's main campaign committee reported raising more than $1.2 million, including $730,025 from political action committees, for the 2006 election through June 30.... 54.2 percent of the PAC money -- more than $400,000 -- given to Pelosi in the first six months of 2006 came from businesses. That's up from $366,000 for the entire 2003-04 election cycle, her first as House minority leader, and $207,750 in 2001-02....

The increase is even more pronounced for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee [which] received about $20.6 million from business interests in the first half of 2006. That's up from $19.5 million for all of the 2004 cycle and represents almost 50 percent of the group's total fundraising.

For the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the increase was even bigger, up 15.8 percent to $31.5 million, a figure that represented 76.8 percent of the committee's fundraising total.

If there's one thing business understands, it's the value of insurance.


I have to admit I haven't been following Kinky Friedman's campaign for governor of Texas, but it does seem to be developing its amusing side. Don-Knottsian Democratic candidate Chris Bell (shown left, shortly after having sampled a green persimmon) has got his knickers in the usual Democratic twist about "spoilers". Where do these people get the notion that certain votes are theirs by right? It would be less surprising in a party that won a lot of elections, but when it's the Democrats it's really kind of baffling.

According to the Dallas Morning News:

Democrats are preparing a media and campaign offensive against the independent, planning in part to portray him as a racist.

The blitz is aimed at not only stopping Mr. Friedman from poaching Mr. Bell's base voters but also at exciting Democrats who could determine the outcome of local races, as well as statewide contests.... The escalating rhetoric shows an increasing urgency as the [incumbent Republican] governor's challengers attempt to break from the pack with fewer than four weeks left until Election Day....

[The anti-Friedman] ads... will air on radio stations with large black audiences....

Needless to say, the desperately tired and tiresome Molly Ivins has chimed in for the tired and tiresome Democrat, citing the same silly talking points about Friedman's ethnic humor, and adding that he doesn't really seem quite wonky enough:
[Friedman] demonstrated that he does not understand school finance or taxes, nor does he have any intention of trying to do so....
... Molly observes, with more than a touch of schoolmarmery in her tone.

Molly's reasoning is of course the usual: if the incumbent is re-elected the world will come to an end. I dunno, maybe Matt Stoller still believes that, but I wonder who else does?

Big bigots, and bigger bigots

J Alva Scruggs writes:
"Making English the state's official language has taken center stage in the contentious race between Scottsdale Congressman J.D. Hayworth and former Tempe mayor Harry Mitchell.

"Mitchell, a Democrat, contends he supports making English's Arizona's official language. That has the Hayworth camp crying foul. The Republican's campaign points out that Mitchell voted against measures making English the state's official language while serving in the state Senate.

"'Harry Mitchell has long opposed English as our official language for, as he put it, a number of reasons,' said Brian Hummell, a spokesman for the Hayworth for Congress organization.

"Mitchell spokesman Seth Scott said the Democratic challenger opposed the state measures because they did not provide any protections for Native American languages but that Mitchell supports the concept of making English the state's official language."

Even the most heartless authoritarian knows inducements and assistance are more effective tools than enacting laws that can't be obeyed. These guys, Dems and Reps alike, place exclusive value on the opportunity to punish. As usual, the Dem thinks offering a better managed bigotry, a kinder and gentler bigotry with a sentimental nod to past genocides, is the winning ticket.

October 13, 2006

The content-free election...

... as exemplified by Sherrod Brown:
Brown, DeWine tangle on national-security oversight

If national security is an issue that favors Republicans and is best avoided by Democrats, someone forgot to tell Democratic Senate candidate Sherrod Brown. GOP Sen. Mike DeWine of Ohio has attacked Brown for congressional votes to cut intelligence and defense funding.

But [Brown] has fought back, in part by going after DeWine's attendance record at open meetings of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Missing nearly half the meetings portrays a record of failed oversight of critical 9/11 and Iraq war-related intelligencegathering, Brown charges.

Heads we win, tails we win too

Went trawling for intellectual comedy at Daily Kos just now and quickly found it:
Why I Am Not Pessimistic About CT-Sen
by Big Tent Democrat
Fri Oct 13, 2006 at 08:51:10 AM PDT

It is certainly true that the polling puts Lamont behind. It is certainly true that Lamont's general election campaign has not been sharp. It is certainly true that Lamont is likely to lose at this juncture.

But I am not pessimistic. Why? Because this is one campaign that we can be proud of fighting for to the last person. Everything about this campaign was the right thing to do. Lieberman has been a cancer in the Democratic Party. He has been cut out. He SAYS he will caucus with Dems if he wins, so we have no qualms about having threatened a GOP majority.

It's a little difficult to follow Big Tent's thinking here, but he seems to be saying that if Lamont had won, that would be great, but it's OK if he doesn't, because Lieberman will "caucus" with the donks, even though "we" have "cut him out" -- can anybody make head or tail of this?

Such a highly cultivated capacity not to learn from experience cannot be easy to acquire, but a surprising number of Kosniks seem to have mastered it -- a vast, Elgarian choir of highly-trained, full-throated stultitude. Bottom line: no matter what happens, it's vital for everybody to keep right on doing exactly the same thing.

October 14, 2006

Don't blame Dixie

The long slog of the Iraqupation has the South looking pretty damn close to just like the rest of us now. Look at these recent survey results :
  • 57% of Southerners believe the U.S. "should have stayed out of Iraq," compared to 44% who think the U.S. "did the right thing" by taking military action. Nationally, 58% of the public believes the U.S. should have stayed out and 43% now agree with military action.
  • Southerners are skeptical about the goals of the Iraq mission. 29% of Southerners agree with the Bush Administration's position that "Iraq is the central front in the war on terrorism," compared to 25% nationally. But 30% in Southern states -- the same as the national average -- believe the main reason the U.S. is in Iraq is "to ensure access to oil."
  • By at least one measure, Southerners are more frustrated with the war than their counterparts in other regions. Asked if they were "proud" or "sad" about Iraq, a surprising 62% of respondents in the South said they were "very sad" about the course of the war, compared to only 56% in other regions of the country. Only 10% of those surveyed in the South say they are "somewhat proud" or "very proud" of the Iraq mission -- slightly less than those polled in other states.
  • 30% of those polled in Southern states say the U.S. should "withdraw completely" from Iraq. Those in non-Southern states were less likely to call for a total withdrawal of U.S. troops (26%), but more likely to think U.S. troop levels should be decreased "some" or "a lot" -- 34% in non-Southern states, compared to 26% in the South. Put together, 56% of Southerners and 59% in other regions support a decrease or withdrawal of U.S. troops.
Allowing for survey error, these look like fraternal twins, though I kinda like the south's (prolly) statistically insignificant stronger mix of an "in or out" attitude better then the rest of us with our fudged "partial withdrawal."

Selective hysteria

Over at Counterpunch, a nice expose of Col Rahmbo's war mule flog job. Note the fund starving of an "out now" locked in a close race:
[In] CA's 11th CD Dem primary... Emanuel poured in money, much of it apparently coming from his own district in Illinois, to bankroll Steve Filson, essentially a political unknown, who opposed immediate withdrawal from Iraq. But in this primary battle the grass roots prevailed and the strongly antiwar candidate, Jerry McNirney, who supports the Murtha bill for immediate withdrawal, defeated Emanuel's minion, Filson.

It is noteworthy that McNirney, strongly antiwar, won, whereas Cegelis, weakly antiwar, lost.

Now in the general election McNirney is pulling ahead of his pro-war Republican opponent by 48 to 46% in the most recent poll even though his opponent has outspent him by $1.6 million to $303,000! MicNirney has raised a total of only $452,000 to his opponent's $2.5 million.

Some cash from Rahm would ensure McNirney's victory it would appear, but it is not forthcoming. It seems that Rahm Emanuel is stanching the influx of money in this very competitive race"

So... winning those seats is important, sure, but there are higher imperatives as well.

Take it easy there, Cap'n Ahab

JSP writes:
Is American zionism about to grow a second head? Two parties, two lobbies -- all the better to scam you with, my dear?
Excerpts from the item that caught JSP's eye:
A top staffer for billionaire philanthropist George Soros has met recently with senior representatives of the dovish pro-Israel community to discuss setting up an alternative to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee....

Morton Halperin, a director of Soros' Open Society Institute and a veteran of senior positions in the Clinton, Nixon and Johnson administrations, confirmed... that a meeting took place last month.... [A]nother meeting focused on funding will take place in New York on Oct. 25.

Soros is to attend that meeting, and other major Jewish liberals are invited, including Peter Lewis, who like Soros is a major contributor to MoveOn.org, the Web-based, liberal fund-raising group; Edgar and Charles Bronfman, former liquor magnates who are major contributors to Israel and Jewish causes; and Mel Levine, a former Democratic congressman and high-powered West Coast lawyer.... One of the leaders of the initiative is Jeremy Ben-Ami, a senior policy adviser to President Clinton....

In addition to Halperin and Ben-Ami, those in attendance at the September meeting in Washington included David Elcott, the executive director of the Israel Policy Forum, Debra DeLee, president and CEO of Americans for Peace Now; Mara Rudman, a Clinton-era member of the National Security Council and now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank; Daniel Levy, a former adviser to dovish Israeli politician Yossi Beilin who now works at the New America Foundation, another Washington think tank; M.J. Rosenberg, director of IPF's Washington office; Jeremy Rabinovitz, chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.), a congresswoman who often backs positions taken by the dovish pro-Israel groups; Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Reform movement's Religious Action Center, and his deputy, Mark Pelavin; and representatives of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, another dovish, pro-Israel advocacy group.

Now usually I yield to no one in my suspicion of anything connected with the Israel lobby, but I personally think this one might be just what it appears to be. AIPAC and much of the Lobby generally are dominated by very wild-eyed and fanatical Likudniks, and it doesn't seem surprising that this fact might make many American Jews nervous.

Establishment figures like those listed above are seldom monomaniacs. Many of them are no doubt quite devoted to Israel, either because of conviction or because Israel's importance in American politics enhances their personal influence through their connection with it. But they are also people who understand that ultimately, the various factions and blocs and sectors of the loosely-structured American elite need to play nice with each other. This is an insight that Captain Ahabs -- or better, Captain Queegs -- like Wolfowitz and Perle have forgotten, or failed to grasp in the first place.

When the famous Mearshiemer-Walt paper appeared, a few months back, I rather suspected that it might be a straw in the wind -- an indication that other factions or blocs or sectors of the aforementioned elite were starting to feel that institutional Zionomania was getting a wee bit off the reservation. It's tempting to read the Soros initiative in a similar way.

October 16, 2006

Takin' care of Massa's business

Idiocy, or crackpot opportunism? Notice this AFL-CIA blog post extolling the nanny party fiscal prudency of the Clintonian years, over the Bushcapades. They even cite a Daily Kos post to prove their point!

Where have you gone, Sidney, where have you gone...?

Show us your... oh, never mind

J Alva Scruggs writes:

Rahmbo is looking for cute candidates:

Maybe Democratic candidate Michael Arcuri is running strong in this Republican House district because he pledges to expand health coverage, balance the budget and raise the minimum wage.

Or maybe it's his piercing Italian eyes and runner's physique.... By a combination of luck and design, Democrats seem to be fielding an uncommonly high number of uncommonly good-looking candidates.

The beauty gap between the parties, some on Capitol Hill muse, could even be a factor in who controls Congress after Election Day.

Democratic operatives do not publicly say that they went out of their way this year to recruit candidates with a high hotness quotient. Privately, however, they acknowledge that... it did not escape their notice that some of the most attractive prospects were indeed often quite attractive.

Hot Air America, R.I.P.

Mike Flugennock writes:
Hell, man, I'm surprised you're not doing a piece about Air America going under. I'm surprised you're not camped out to be first in line to buy your seat aboard the ol' Schadenfreude Special. Toot, toot.

Seriously, though; it couldn't have happened to a nicer miserably partisan, insulting to real progressive ideals, practically doing Bush's job for him while doing a miserable imitation of a "progressive" voice in American media, radio network.

Guess they couldn't get back all the real progressive listeners they pissed off and drove off with the infamous Randi Rhodes slagging of the Green Party, Ralph Nader, and anyone else who dared oppose the DP.

Mom and apple pie and...

Here's a real meatball: "energy independence."

In a recent Tom Friedman piece, we find James Carville: "Energy independence.... It's now the No. 1 national security issue." A donk pollster adds, "people are... expressing this view because ... our oil dependence is fueling a host of really bad national security problems."

Carville again: "It can't just be that we are for a woman's right to choose, and education and energy independence. This is the thing we need to get done above and beyond everything else... energy security. It's not something to add to the stew -- this is the stock." For the record : energy independence is the anti-imperialism of fools.

The enlightened imperialist and the smart bomber

This just in:
Billionaire Soros Gives Financial Boost to General Clark By JOSH GERSTEIN - Staff Reporter of the Sun

A billionaire investor who spent more than $25 million to defeat President Bush in 2004, George Soros, is giving a financial boost to the political fortunes of a former four-star general, Wesley Clark, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and is poised to mount another bid in 2008.

Mr. Soros gave $75,000 in July to a political group led by General Clark, Wes-Pac, according to a report filed yesterday with the Internal Revenue Service.

It is the largest known gift from Mr. Soros this year to a political organization affiliated with a contender for the presidency in 2008.

October 17, 2006

Quote of the day, 17x2006

[For corporations], selection of political parties is merely a special case of rational portfolio choice under uncertainty; one holds politicians more or less as one holds stocks.

Thomas Ferguson, Golden Rule

Out-Heroding Herod

According to The Note:
Today's Wall Street Journal has a letter to the editor from House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO), arguing that the Military Commissions Act is "not tough enough on terrorists because there is no certainty the act will withstand the scrutiny of the Supreme Court. If the act is tied up in litigation and eventually struck down, convicted terrorists could have a 'get-out-of-jail-free' card."
Anybody get the Journal in paper or online? I'd love to see the whole thing.

October 18, 2006

Lamont: A spoiler after all, God bless 'im

Here's a bright spot amid the prevailing gloom, for all us hate-the-Democrats types:
GOP Doing Better in Northeast

[I]t now looks clear Joe Lieberman's independent bid for Senate is really helping the trio of Connecticut Republicans. It certainly would be ironic if the GOP held the House because of Ned Lamont's big August win.

Whips and chains and Hillary

J Alva Scruggs passed along this gem:

Clinton Equivocates on Torture

Despite her apparent opposition to torture, Hillary Clinton said in a Daily News editorial board meeting yesterday that the practice is acceptable in some circumstances.

Clinton got a rousing reception from the human rights community, and seemed to take an uncharacteristically bright-line stance, in a recent statement on the Senate floor during the debate over torture.... But at yesterday's Daily News editorial board meeting, it emerged that she's not actually against torture in all instances, and that her dispute with McCain and Bush is largely procedural.

She ... said that there is a place for what she called "severity," in a conversation that included mentioning waterboarding, hypothermia, and other techniques....

"I have said that those are very rare but if they occur there has to be some lawful authority for pursuing that.... There has to be some check and balance, some reporting. I don't mind if it’s reporting in a top secret context....

Now there is a perfect liberal for you. Khmer Rouge police work is fine as long as all the forms are properly filled in.

Their extremists can beat our extremists

According to the LA Times, a "pink purge" may be imminent:
Some Seek 'Pink Purge' in the GOP
By Johanna Neuman, Times Staff Writer

In recent years, the Republican Party aimed to broaden its appeal with a "big-tent" strategy of reaching out to voters who might typically lean Democratic. But now a debate is growing within the GOP about whether the tent has become too big — by including gays....

[T]he GOP is facing a hard choice — risk losing the social conservatives who are legendary for turning out the vote, or risk alienating the moderate voters who are crucial to this election's outcome.

"There's a huge schism on the right," said Mike Rogers, a gay-rights activist who runs a blog to combat what he calls hypocrisy among conservative gay politicians. "The fiscal conservatives are furious at the religious conservatives, because they need the moderates for economic policy. But they need the social conservatives to turn out the vote."

....Republican National Committee Press Secretary Tracey Schmitt [said], "Our core supporters understand that a Congress led by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi [the Senate and House minority leaders] would be devoid of a values agenda. They are mobilized and committed to electing Republicans on Nov. 7."

Schmitt is certainly right about Reid and Pelosi not having a "values" agenda, unless the values in question are real-estate values. Whether the Bible crowd is as dependable for the Republicans as, say, anti-war liberals are for the Democrats, is another matter.

In one way, I hope they are, and I hope the great Democratic faux-mentum of the last few weeks fizzles spectacularly. In another way, I hope they're not, and I hope they take a walk, and set a shining example for our hapless Left, who will never get the respect the fundies get until, like the fundies, they're willing to withdraw their support when they're displeased.

October 19, 2006

No sex, please, we're Democrats

J Alva Scruggs writes:
No, this is not a tasteless joke, MJS. There really is a Democrat named Fred Head and he really is off the deep end. Even better, he's running for comptroller of Texas.


The liberal blogs are buzzing about his attempt at damage control through sockpuppetry, in which he makes things worse for himself. I'm glad they can take a stand against sockpuppetry. Next, they might wish to revisit and revise their support for candidates who like wars of aggression and neoliberal fundamentalism.

Seems that Susan Combs, Fred's Republican opponent, some years back, wrote a bodice-ripper novel with a couple of better-than-average sex scenes in it (thoughtfully reproduced on Fred's Web site at the URL above). Fred's pretty indignant. Allow me to give y'all some Head (sorry, I couldn't resist):
Susan Combs has shown no remorse and made no apology for writing her pornographic book. Fred Head hereby challenges Susan Combs to fully explain to the People of Texas why she wrote a pornographic book, apologize to the People and withdraw from the race for Comptroller of Public Accounts.

At a recent Editorial Board Interview with a Newspaper, attended by Susan Combs and her opponents, Susan Combs was asked about her pornographic book and she said.

I wrote the book nineteen years ago. I received lots of congratulatory letters. I've served with distinction. I'm sad that the book company is out of business because I won't get any more royalties.

Susan Combs' above stated comments to this Newspaper Editorial Board were arrogant and completely out of touch with the main stream Christian Values that the People of Texas love and live by each day.

Combs' intertwined limbs and heavy breathing make for a much better read than our righteous donk's Capital Letters.

Pelion upon Ossa dept.: The Kosniks, who are nothing if not loyal, are compounding the comedy by defending Head (the person, I mean, not the practice). Here is a Kosnik who styles him/herself Queer Texan:

Her Democratic opponent calls her a pornography writer -- but, who is this woman who writes steamy romance novels in spite of the Texas GOP's super-Christian platform?

...She wouldn't have a problem (and considering the blessed "R" behind her name, she may never) except that her opponent, Fred Head (the Democrat) keeps reminding future voters of Ms. Combs past accomplishments: writing steamy pulp-romance novels.

... To give her some credit, Mr. Head does go a little overboard by calling her a pornographic writer, but his criticism does point at some hypocricy in her campaign. ...She's running as a Republican, the same party of a Governor that defended Texas archaic sodomy laws as "protecting families;" a party whose platform for 2006 includes repealing a woman's right to reproductive freedom (not limiting - repealing), recriminalizing gay intimacy, [etc. --ed.]

... Considering the righteous company she keeps, what is it exactly that Ms. Combs writes about?

"I can't hold back any longer," he groanded and then was inside her, the heat and slickness of her welcoming body almost pushing him over the edge. Ross stiffened on his elbows and bent his head, searching for control. Emily surged up to meet him, sealing him tighter within her, and he began to move, his arms holding her tightly, his breath coming in great gasps.
With a party that governs by the principle of WWJD, we have to remember -- I guess -- that it only applies to WOPD (what other people do). Hypocrisy indeed.
I think we must have a better class of queers here in New York.

Crazy like a fox

Part of my ongoing series, Dumb Crazy Bible-Bashers Are Really Much Smarter Than Most Leftie Intellectuals On The Upper West Side:


Conservative voters likely to stay home
By Ralph Z. Hallow

The Republican Party can stave off defeat with a strong turnout on Nov. 7, party leaders are telling the faithful -- but they are finding it tough to sell that message to some disillusioned conservative voters.

"The message hasn't gotten across because a lot of people are sick and tired of thinking the only reason for going to the polls is to vote for the Republicans because they are lesser of two evils," said Tom McClusky, vice president for government affairs at the Family Research Council (FRC), a leading social conservative group.

"Conservatives aren't motivated to come out, is what I'm finding," said conservative campaign consultant Rick Shaftan, who is based in Sparta, N.J. "They see no reason to re-elect the people who are in office."

Savaged by a dead sheep

Yet another coalition of the self-agreeing enters the ongoing tournament of folly: "name that liberal." Opening shot:
We Answer to the Name of Liberals
By Bruce Ackerman and Todd Gitlin

As right-wing politicians and pundits call us stooges for Osama bin Laden, Tony Judt charges, in a widely discussed and heatedly debated essay in the London Review of Books, that American liberals -- without distinction -- have "acquiesced in President Bush's catastrophic foreign policy." Both claims are nonsense on stilts.

Clearly this is a moment for liberals to define ourselves. The important truth is that most liberals, including the undersigned, have stayed our course throughout these grim five years. We have consistently and publicly repudiated the ruinous policies of the Bush administration, and our diagnosis, alas, has been vindicated by events. The Bush debacle is a direct consequence of its repudiation of liberal principles. And if the country is to recover, we should begin by restating these principles.

We have all opposed the Iraq war as illegal, unwise, and destructive of America's moral standing. This war fueled, and continues to fuel, jihadis....

We believe that the state of Israel has the fundamental right to exist, free of military assault, within secure borders close to those of 1967....

Gotta love it: "close" to the '67 borders, eh? Well, it's a small country, everything is pretty close to everything else.

But what about these these "liberal principles"? It seems by order of priority principle number one is:

Make no mistake: We believe that the use of force can, at times, be justified. We supported the use of American force, together with our allies, in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan.
Tilt! I hit that, and read no more -- but my eye did catch this on the way out:
the Bush administration has defied evidence and logic, sabotaging its own professional civil servants. It refuses serious consultation with experts and critics.... It stifles civil servants attempting to do their jobs. It appoints cronies whose political loyalty cannot compensate for their incompetence....Reason is indispensable to democratic self-government.
My God! At long last, have they no shame? Not only do they torture and kill people, they... they... have no respect for experts! People with credentials! Oh, the humanity!

There's quite a list of Gladstonian stalwarts who have subscribed their names-to-conjure-with on this resoundingly flung gauntlet (note, the group is very very heavy on the mortarboards):

  • George Akerlof, Berkeley
  • Jeffrey Alexander, Yale
  • Eric Alterman, City University of New York
  • Kenneth Arrow, Stanford
  • Ian Ayres, Yale
  • Benjamin Barber, Maryland
  • Yochai Benkler, Yale
  • Joshua Cohen, Stanford and Boston Review
  • Lizabeth Cohen, Harvard
  • Robert A. Dahl, Yale
  • Norman Daniels, Harvard
  • Michael Doyle, Columbia
  • Cynthia Fuchs Epstein, Graduate Center, CUNY
  • James K. Galbraith, Texas
  • Robert W. Gordon, Yale
  • Adam Hochschild, Berkeley
  • Arlie Hochschild, Berkeley
  • G. John Ikenberry, Princeton
  • Christopher Jencks, Harvard
  • Pamela S. Karlan, Stanford
  • Michael Kazin, Georgetown
  • Chang-Rae Lee, Princeton
  • Margaret Levi, University of Washington
  • Sanford Levinson, Texas
  • Doug McAdam, Stanford
  • Jane Mansbridge, Harvard
  • Katherine S. Newman, Princeton
  • Robert Post, Yale
  • Robert B. Reich, Berkeley
  • Susan Rose-Ackerman, Yale
  • Ruth Rosen, Berkeley
  • Elaine Scarry, Harvard
  • Arthur Schlesinger Jr, Graduate Center, CUNY
  • Richard Sennett, LSE and NYU
  • Kim Lane Scheppele, Princeton
  • Jane Smiley, Carmel Valley
  • Christine Stansell, Princeton
  • Charles Tilly, Columbia
  • Michael Tomasky, The American Prospect
  • C.K. Williams, Princeton
  • William Julius Wilson, Harvard
  • Alan Wolfe, Boston College
  • George M. Woodwell, Woods Hole Research Center

October 20, 2006

Uphill to the Hill

The House repubs, with the help of friendly state legislatures, have built themselves a nice "levee system," as Paul Krugman calls it, against any "slosh up" in Dem voting, according to some Columbia types:
After their stunning loss of both houses of Congress in 1994, the Democrats have averaged over 50% of the vote in Congressional races in every year except 2002, yet they have not regained control of the House. The same is true with the Senate: in the last three elections (in which 100 senators were elected), Democratic candidates earned three million more votes than Republican candidates, yet they are outnumbered by Republicans in the Senate as well. 2006 is looking better for the Democrats, but our calculations show that they need to average at least 52% of the vote (which is more than either party has received since 1992) to have an even chance of taking control of the House of Representatives.

Why are things so tough? Looking at the 2004 election, the Democrats won their victories with an average of 69% of the vote, while the Republicans averaged 65% in their contests, thus "wasting" fewer votes. More formally, we estimated the seats-votes curve for 2006 by constructing a model to predict the 2006 election from 2004, and then validating the method by applying it to previous elections (predicting 2004 from 2002, and so forth). We predict that the Democrats will need 49% of the average vote to have a 10% chance, 52% of the vote to have an even chance, and 55% of the vote to have a 90% chance of winning the House.

October 21, 2006

Worthy mistakes and the agony of decision

Thus Matthew Yglesias, reprimanding Jonah Goldberg for a column that characterized the Iraq war as a "worthy mistake":
Iraq is a mistake, but all the attitudes and ideas about the world and America's role in it that led to the mistake somehow remain perfectly intact....
Nice start -- but soft! What wonk through yon polemic breaks:
The proposal... to hold a referendum in Iraq on whether our troops should stay is cute, but it founders on a lot of ambiguities about exactly how to word the question. Whoever was in charge of the referendum could rig it to have the desired outcome one way or the other. Doing that may be a smart idea, but you'd still need to decide in advance what the desired outcome is.
What dribble! As if we need to get into "framing" of this. As if an in-or-out referendum is more than a "lets call the White House's bluff here" -- more than a "let's see if the Iraqi masses want us there" -- more then a "make 'em think" gambit.

Nope, for our Matt here it has to be parsed and re-parsed like it's the latest "pragmatic alternative" to single-payer health care.

October 22, 2006

Tip redivivus

If the Nan Pelosi clique has a serious second banana, it's John Murtha. Here's the Wash Post's list of Nan's inner coterie:
  • George Miller
  • Anna G. Eshoo
  • Edward J. Markey
  • Rosa L. DeLauro
  • David R. Obey
  • John M. Spratt Jr.
  • Rahm Emanuel
It's not just that Murtha's after Steny -- he and the Rahmbo probably complete la Nan's triumvirate. Recalling that triangles are the key new Dem paradigm shape, one can now see the outline of the coming evil fatuity.

Conjure, if you dare, these three comic-book heroes: snake princess Pelosi, the E-mam, and the reincarnation of Tip O'Neill.

I call on J Elvis to give us the banner icon -- err, tri-con.

Riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass

Get those palms and scattered garments ready: the Savior is coming to town, and his name is Rahm Emanuel. Rahm is God, and the Washington Post is his prophet:
As the member of Congress responsible for recruiting candidates for House races, raising money and vetting strategy for dozens of districts, [Rahm has] received raves from campaign connoisseurs in Washington for running a taut committee. Notably, he's nearly closed the perennial cash-on-hand gap between his team -- with $36 million in the bank at the end of September -- and its GOP counterpart. He's fielded credible candidates in districts no one had expected to be in play a year ago. And he's generally been flogging the party like a never-satisfied CEO.

"He has been an amazing success any way you look at it," says congressional scholar Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution. "I think it's the best operation of any chairman of either party in several years."

If Democrats do take the House -- they need to gain 15 seats to do so -- Emanuel, in only his second term in Congress, stands to claim considerable credit for ending a 12-year electoral drought. That's the kind of triumph Johnson rode to the top of the Senate.

This veni-Emanuel outlook has been heartily embraced here and there in the blogsphere, e.g.
If Democrats win back the House, this guy gets all the credit

"They call Tammy Duckworth a cut-and-runner when she left two legs in Iraq?" [Rahm] shouts, jabbing a finger in the air, drawing stares from around the deli. "How dare they! I'm going to give them the medicine that they've been giving out. That's what shocks them."

It takes a Chicagoan to fight a Republican on their own turf.

This Americablog post attracted some grousing comments to the effect that hey, maybe Howard Dean deserves some credit too. Now I agree that Rahm Emanuel is no Lyndon Johnson, but then neither is Howard Dean. In fact, what none of the blog munchkins is willing to acknowledge is that the only people the Democrats will have to thank for any advances they make in November are... the Republicans. The Repubs may be flying the plane right into the ground, but they're still the ones at the controls.

October 23, 2006

Second verse, just like the first

Alan Smithee writes:

Researching local reaction to George Pal's 1953 War of the Worlds release I ran across a small example of the nothing-ever-changes sort. From the "In The Magazines" column of the Monday, Oct 19th, 1953 Minneapolis Morning Tribune:

Democrats Assailed for 'Me Too' Tactics

by Hjalmar Bjornson
of the Minneapolis Tribune editorial page staff.

INSTEAD OF FULFILLING their job as "a responsible, creative opposition" as a real "out" party should, Lewis A. Dexter in the Reporter charges, Democratic leaders are playing "me too" to the Eisenhower administration. After 20 years in power "Democratic leaders still seem to be trying to act like responsible statesmen." but Dexter fears that if this attitude continues, the two-party system is endangered.

Opposition is the obligation of the "outs" and responsible statesmenship that of the "ins." Defending Mr. Eisenhower, Dexter asserts, is not the Democrats' business.

As one of my nieces might say: "As if!"

The Connecticut Yellow Party

Once more the Greens embrace defeat on the brink of victory:
Green Party, Democrats form alliance to back Farrell
By Susan Haigh, AP Political Writer | October 23, 2006

HARTFORD, Conn. --With polls showing a tight matchup in this year's 4th Congressional District race, the Green Party is withdrawing its candidate and throwing support to Democrat Diane Farrell.

"We decided to have a strategic alliance with the Democratic Party because we believed this was the quickest way to achieve peace in the Middle East," said John Sieh, treasurer for Richard Duffee, the Green Party's 4th District candidate.

Really, it's enough to make you weep. Just when they were actually within shooting distance of making an impression, they fold, frightened of their own suddenly lengthening shadow.

I particularly love the idea that an "alliance" -- really, of course, a surrender -- to the Democratic Party will help bring "peace in the Middle East." Yep, that's always been a really high priority for the Democrats, hasn't it?

October 24, 2006

Irresistible force, immovable object

Is this where us Amurricans are headed?
Iraq: voters want British troops home by end of year
Fresh pressure on Blair as public back calls for early withdrawal

Julian Glover, Richard Norton-Taylor and Patrick Wintour
Tuesday October 24, 2006
The Guardian

A clear majority of voters want British troops to be pulled out of Iraq by the end of this year, regardless of the consequences for the country, according to a Guardian/ICM poll published today.

In a sign that public opinion is hardening against Britain's military presence in Iraq, 61% of voters say they want British troops to leave this year, even if they have not completed their mission and Washington wants them to stay.

Only 30% now back the prime minister's commitment to keep troops in Iraq as long as is considered necessary.

Almost half of those questioned - 45% - want British forces pulled out immediately and a further 16% want them to leave by the end of the year, whether or not the US asks the British government to keep them on. When the Guardian last questioned voters on the issue in September 2005, 51% backed troop withdrawal with 41% arguing that British forces should stay in Iraq until the security situation in the country had improved.....

The foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett, admitted yesterday that Iraqis may eventually choose to partition the country rather than carry on as a single state.

"That is very much a matter for the Iraqis. They have had enough of people from outside handing down arbitrary boundaries and arbitrary decisions," she told BBC Radio 4's The World At One.

Asked if historians may judge that Iraq had been a foreign policy disaster for Britain, she said: "Yes, they may. Then again, they may not."

Maybe, or maybe not... much comedy here.

Compare with this:

Emanuel's War Plan for Democrats
The Book of Rahm

... Congressman Rahm Emanuel [has] worked hard to guarantee that Democratic candidates in key toss-up House races were pro-war. In this he was largely successful, because of the money he commands and the celebrity politicians who reliably respond to his call, ensuring that 20 of the 22 Democratic candidates in these districts are pro-war. So the fix is in for the coming elections.

In 2006, no matter which party controls the House, a majority will be committed to pursuing the war on Iraq--despite the fact that the Democratic rank and file and the general voting public oppose the war by large margins.

So here's the deal: public opinion is great as long as it coincides, or can be made to coincide, with what the dominant sub-gangs of our elite super-gang want to do. When it doesn't coincide, then fuck it. We'll just suspend democracy. Cf. Connecticut.

October 25, 2006

In case of emergency, break wind

Could there be a better label for a prog tank today than the Frameworks Institute?

They probed the millions of "serialized" American undersoul fragments, and I bet you all can anticipate their laff-riot "findings".

  1. Americans' views of government are missing two key ingredients: a concrete understanding of what government is and does, and a ready sense of the mission of government why it exists and what differentiates it.
  2. ...two coherent, but opposing, mindsets -- Americans view themselves in relation to government: as a consumer or as a citizen.
Problem: the body politic is heavy on consumer mind-sets -- and they're sour, dissatisfied consumers at that.

Solution: re-frame their head. Move their mind-sets en masse to citizenship by Avoiding portraying government as a laundry list of services that individuals 'buy' with their tax dollar.... Emphasizing our shared responsibility to maintain the public structures, services and programs that create our quality of life. Of course there are details, and some cheery rah-rah, but I'll leave the full dive into its stoogeanna for any unplanned Defcon 13 boredom alert. Only in the idlest of idle hours can this sort of bog air not retard the flight of even a fairly dull mind's arrow.

Let's hope you don't get there this week. Next week we'll have a new def13 special.

From the Great Beyond

You think it's easy being smarter then hell?

Well, here's what happens to smart guys -- they get accosted in the wee hours by familiar ghosts, screaming stuff like "loathing isn't enough any more!" or "wake up, straight arrow -- the last forty years of prog blither was dead wrong! all this 'please -- for your own safety -- step away from whitey's mind' was pure crap!"

That's what Hunter T's sprite tried to convince this reporter of last night, from behind the waggling barrel of a long-nosed .44 magnum -- a real, fully loaded .44 magnum, BTW, as I discovered when he let it dop to the floor and it went off, putting a round into my acrylic on velvet painting of Daffy Duck. Some kinda poltergeist, eh?

At the time, I shrugged him off with a "sure sure sure... whatever." In my book it never pays to let a geist like that know he's gettin' to ya.

But then, in full daylight, comes forth on my PC screen this Bill Fletcher dude posting up at the Black Commentator a gitty rehash of "the Number Two party is uz" line, and, moments later, still reeling, I'm reading my favorite tiny goo-goo, Bobby Reich, adjuring Nancy and her gang to be "of service to the people."

Alas, unlike Hunter, I'm not handy with a .44.


October 26, 2006

Insufficient hysteria

Bobw writes:
Cursor links an article by Robert Parry from Consortium News suggesting the Dems are making a mistake in believing they can ride to victory merely on Republican bad news, instead of saying loud and clear what's wrong with the Republican vision, domestic and foreign.

Of course, maybe they dont know what's wrong with the Republican vision. But I suspect it's just their instinctive fearfulness and toadyism.

The Parry piece is a little odd. His main point seems to be that the Democrats are insufficiently hysterical:
As Democrats go through their biennial rite of premature victory celebrations, they are inviting defeat again by obsessing on polls about how many congressional seats are “in play” rather than on explaining to the American people what a Republican victory on Nov. 7 would mean to the nation.

If the GOP keeps control of Congress, Bush would be strongly tempted to double up on his bloody wager in Iraq with military attacks on Iran and Syria. That expanded war would guarantee reprisals by radicalized Muslims around the world and thus draw the United States into a virtually endless conflict.

At home, the consequences of indefinite war would be fatal, too, to the already wounded American democratic Republic....

Of course, what Parry oddly overlooks is that it would be a little bit surprising for the Democrats to start objecting now to policies they've consistently failed to oppose, or even actively supported. Not to mention that the type of Democrat on which the party seems to be pinning its hopes is a Democrat like this:
A right kind of Democrat
GOP-held House seats are threatened by a crop of conservative foes.
By Janet Hook, Times Staff Writer

He is pro-business and antiabortion. He is an evangelical Christian and an avid hunter. But, unexpectedly, Heath Shuler is a Democrat, and he is running for Congress in North Carolina.

Shuler is part of a phalanx of unusually conservative Democratic candidates who may deliver crucial victories over GOP incumbents and help their party win control of the House.

...[O]f the Democratic candidates most likely to be elected....[s]ixteen of them have been endorsed by the Blue Dogs, a coalition of conservative Democrats. Several used to be Republicans. Shuler was recruited to run as a Republican a few years ago but opted not to.

... With so many conservative-leaning candidates at the forefront of the Democratic effort, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) has, at least for now, stuck to a minimalist agenda that steers clear of grand, liberal ambitions. Instead, Democratic leaders are focusing — and almost all serious Democratic candidates are campaigning on — a more limited, six-point agenda that includes raising the minimum wage, repealing tax breaks for oil companies, restoring college tuition tax breaks, cutting Medicare drug costs and other plans they believe could draw bipartisan support.

You will note that there is nothing in the six-point program about torture, civil liberties, privacy, war, or any of the other things that Parry is worried about.

I fully endorse Parry's own hysteria; indeed, I'll call his hysteria and raise him one torchlight parade. But if the Democrats aren't hysterical, perhaps it's because they're just fine with all the things that worry Parry and me.

The real puzzle, I think, is why on earth Parry considers this election so world-historical. Granted that things are headed in a very bad direction, what on earth makes him think that putting Democrats in Congress would make a difference? The best he can come up with is the claim that Republican victory would encourage Bush to persevere in his wicked ways, which is undoubtedly true; but does Parry seriously believe that a Democratic victory would have the opposite effect -- or indeed, any effect at all?

October 27, 2006

Steady as she goes

If you are one of the two or three people who still think a Democratic takeover of Congress next week will make a difference in the Middle East, Bill Clinton has news for you:
...For Clinton, the rally was an opportunity to try to refute a key element in the GOP's efforts to retain their majorities in the House and the Senate: the perceived risk, which Bush raises regularly, that Democrats would seek to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq before the country had been stabilized and could defend itself against becoming a haven for anti-American terrorists.

Speaking in an airport hangar before several hundred Democratic partisans, Clinton cited several of the veterans of the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the current conflict in Iraq running for Congress on Nov. 7, including L. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, an Army National Guard major who lost her legs in a helicopter crash in 2004.

"They can call us the 'cut-and-run' party all they want, but that's a pretty hard case to make when you look at Tammy Duckworth … and our other veterans," Clinton said.

Then he added, to loud applause and whoops from the audience: " 'Stop and think' is not the same as 'cut-and-run.' "

"Stop and think." Now there's a slogan to stir the blood, isn't it? Stop and think. And then perseverate.

Just say no

ddjango writes:
I'm going to design a banner for blogs to display . . .


You'll be the first to get one. Wish I had the bucks to produce it and distribute it as a bumper sticker.

ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος

Does anybody else feel that we've heard a little too much from George Lakoff? He's blethering away again in the Times today:
THE Bush administration has finally been caught in its own language trap. "That is not a stay-the-course policy," Tony Snow, the White House press secretary, declared on Monday.

The first rule of using negatives is that negating a frame activates the frame. If you tell someone not to think of an elephant, he'll think of an elephant. When Richard Nixon said, "I am not a crook" during Watergate, the nation thought of him as a crook.

...The Democrats are giving up a golden opportunity to accurately frame their values and deepest principles (even on national security), to forge a public identity that fits those values - and perhaps to win more close races by being positive and having a vision worth voting for.

Right now, though, no language articulating a Democratic vision seems in the offing. If the Democrats don't find a more assertive strategy, their gains will be short-lived. They, too, will learn the pitfalls of staying the course.

I actually studied linguistics myself, once upon a time, and Lakoff is unusual among linguists, at least those I know, in that he seems to believe language is not just autonomous from reality, but somehow constitutive of reality. It doesn't seem to have occurred to Lakoff that if the Democrats haven't "articulated" an alternative "vision," maybe it's because they don't have one. And this is not to say that they don't have any vision; it's to say that they have, for all practical purposes, the same vision as their nominal antagonists.

The vogue for Lakoff in pwog circles is a mildly interesting phenomenon in its own right. Pwogs tend to be obsessively interested in words and insufficently interested in things and actions; everybody has seen at first hand the tiresome, obsessive policing of diction that characterizes the liberal-schmiberal milieu, to the near-exclusion of all else. So Lakoff's message that it's all about language finds an audience, in pwog-itania, predisposed to receive it.

But I think the Lakoff phenomenon has another dimension too. Liberal Democrats know, on some level, that they are bankrupt. They have no real influence within their own party, and their own party is the permanent second banana anyway; they're not just screwed, they're doubly screwed, screwed coming and going. Comes now Lakoff, however, with a promise that somehow, through the power of words alone, all can be made right.

This must have the same kind of appeal for liberal Democrats that cargo cults had in New Guinea -- the promise of supernatural victory over powerful and poorly-nderstood forces. Or perhaps it's more like the appeal of pyramid schemes for financially strapped, naive white-bread Amurricans -- a kind of no-money-down, no-pain, magical get-rich-quick scheme.

It'll work for you, says the witch doctor, if only you believe.

The sky is falling, as usual

This just landed in my mailbox, from The Nation:
At issue in the coming election, Jonathan Schell writes in The Nation magazine's cover story this week, is nothing less than the future of our constitutional government, which the President and his party have put in serious jeopardy. http://lists.thenation.com/t?ctl=6DF0:6E467
This earnest, breathless, civics-class stuff, from supposed Lefties, about the Constitution, utterly baffles me. What do these people think the Constitution is for, if not to produce and reproduce precisely what we now confront?

October 29, 2006

St Jerome in the desert

J Alva Scruggs writes:

How long, you reckon, before he's banned?

Seems that long-time Kosnik 'Jerome a Paris' is starting to find some of his fellow-cultists a little, well, reactionary:
Is DailyKos a rightwing website?
by Jerome a Paris
Sat Oct 28, 2006 at 09:27:22 AM PDT

Whenever I write about possible policy options that would be (partial) solutions to our looming crisis, there is always a noisy proportion of kossacks that complains that my proposal would unfairly hurt them, and that I don't understand about the USA, how big it is, or how necessary a car is for their job, or their shopping, or how wind would spoil their view, etc, ad nauseam.

This post has gotten, to date, almost 1300 comments. A random sample suggests that most of them are much like these:
Yes. What do you think 100000+ lefties are (21+ / 0-)

gonna do once they've regained Congress and the Senate? Twiddle their thumbs? Right now we have a laser-like focus on one issue really - the upcoming elections. Once chimpy etal. are out of power, I can envision an explosion of activity in 'liberal' concerns.

And it's ALL good. :)

Happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous. - Thucydides

by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Sat Oct 28, 2006 at 11:24:47 AM PDT

agreed.....one focus, win...then everything else. (3+ / 0-)

Frames not Names!!!!

by bikko100 on Sat Oct 28, 2006 at 11:56:40 AM PDT

Note the Lakoffian shamanism of "frames not names" in me-too's comment.

Clive's careful "I can envision" must surely reflect an understanding that can't quite be acknowledged. Yeah, Clive, I can "envision" it too, just like I can envision time travel or space aliens coming to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but I'm not counting on it. Are you, really?

October 30, 2006

October non-surprise

From Reuters:
No fast U.S. shift on Iraq if Democrats win: Dean
By Philip Barbara Sun Oct 29, 2:33 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Even if Democrats win control of Congress in elections next week, an immediate change of course in Iraq policy is unlikely, the party's chairman said on Sunday.

Countering Republican campaign charges that Democrats would "cut and run" from Iraq, chairman Howard Dean said the party did not believe there should be a sudden pullout of all U.S. troops.

... Dean said a small U.S. force should be left somewhere near Iraq to help prevent the establishment of a terrorist haven in the region.

"We will need to leave a force of special-operations folks in the Middle East, not in Iraq but on the periphery of Iraq, so we can deal with terrorism in a timely manner.

"We don't believe now we should suddenly pull everybody out...," he said.

Ah, the Special Forces -- pinup boys for the Democratic Party ever since Mattress Jack Kennedy had that brainstorm about the berets.

Show your colors

ddjango writes:
Take your pick. Distribute at will. Attribution not necessary.

Giants in the earth, my ass

Today one Tony Judt drifts into my crosshairs:
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? Why, in short, has the liberal intelligentsia of the United States in recent years kept its head safely below the parapet?

It wasn’t always so. On 26 October 1988, the New York Times carried a full-page advertisement for liberalism. Headed ‘A Reaffirmation of Principle’, it openly rebuked Ronald Reagan for deriding ‘the dreaded L-word’ and treating ‘liberals’ and ‘liberalism’ as terms of opprobrium.

"Rebuke he needs," as the immortal Yoda might say. Tony purports to show up my own acid rock era's liberality, by contrasting it to those older softies, marinated in the class acids of the Great Depression.

He points to a way, way too late (1988!) press vamp by a pack of celeb cold war ADA types, as proof positive and conclusive of how these stalwarts -- unlike their Woodstock epigones -- spoke decency and light to the evil empire.

Horse feathers!

They had their moment in 1947-49, when the evil empire was ramping up for a 5 trillion dollar potlatch, and what did they do? They shit in the rosebed. Yup, at the witching hour, imperial crap came out of them like chocolate comes out of Hershey, PA. No way can we talk of a "Greatest Generation" of liberals. The challenge of their lifetime they did not meet, at the one moment that mattered.

Tony, you'd better find a better bludgeon, if you wanna beat up the weirdest generation's best and brightest.

But the point here is not to beat up Tony -- what I'm arguing is a parallel, not a contrast, between the present-day GWOT liberals, and the Truman liberals of the late 40's. Even some of the current crop -- Beinart, for example -- wallow in this parallel, and they aren't wrong. Each phalanx, the 40's vintage and today's update, were and are gallantly prepared to tarnish their angel wings for the good of tomorrow's whole earth liberty. The commie threat and the jihadi threat are equally adequate reasons to check your higher principles at the entrance to the arena.

Now of course we can tie a bow around TJ's 1988 letter. It was written after -- long after -- these Truman liberals had performed their world historical mission: driving the new frontier war wagon straight into the Nam quag. Long after they had backed off their own creation in horror.

And yet, even with the recognition of their ghastly handiwork -- and here's the key point -- most of these towering liberal worthies still felt no collective need for an "agonizing reappraisal." Nor, I suspect, will most of the present crowd. The Bidens, the Kerry trees and Mother Courage Clinton herself will not see their intellectual cheering section demand an investigation of these new Dems -- instead, we'll get the further demonization of the demons already at hand. And the upshot, needless to say, will be another another Nam. Or rather, yet another Nam; We've already had one sequel already: Iraq.

Yes, Iraq is not likely to be enough. But then again, perhaps the parallel will break down. Perhaps this time the world historical mission of the latest Dem mind midgets may simply be to pull a de facto "me too," while blaming the next debacle, like they have this one, on the trog wing of the Repubs.

Hey, blaming it on the other party, while throw bombs around like a circus ape, worked pretty well for -- you guessed it -- Nixon!

The original and still unequalled

I'd like to take a moment of your time to attack Gary Hart. Gary is the very most perfect new Dem self-love hound, and he, as much as any man still alive, fucked the post-Nam moment. Consequently, Citizen Paine sez hate is not wasted, when it scalds this Rocky Mountain vanity case.

Long before there was a bogus Bill from Hope, there was this straight-jawed thin-air New Age Mephisto. Remember him in '72, right there at the elbow of Uncle George McGovern?

Whenever Hunter S. gets too self-glorious, I remind him of his many missed opportunities, that dirty dark year, to Ibogain senor Hartpence:

Hey dum dum, you had the chance to take that creepy ranch house playboy out, and early too, before he got rolling -- but oh no -- you had to ream owly John Chancellor two times more than funny, and spill precious and scarce freak generation attention span, being oh so zany, with the endless set of running gags demonstrating how wildly ruthless that tom tit Frank Mankiewitz really was.
Regrettably I must report: Hunter is unrepentant.
For God's sake, HT, the man forced your own political ambitions off the road! You stated publicly you were eying that senate run in '74 -- he scooped it right out from under you, without even a heads up?

"Hey, Paine, that run talk was pretending and stuff -- I never really...."

Bullshit, pal! You had a johnson for high office. And leastwise, you coulda stopped him dead in his tracks -- gutshot him with fatal lampoonery -- a few bursts of your patented contempt-filled snidery and bald, cockeyed, cartoon lies, and he'd have never gotten a vote from any one under age 35, or a dollar from anyone from either coast.

Well, we can snarl all we want about what might have been. What happened is we got this nasty dearth-decade evergreen ambition machine -- a typical millrun product of the 30's. Got him in our national senate where he could become a model New Democrat, one of the innumerable sons of Bobby K. And all 'cause a legendary zonged-out master character assassin couldn't pull the trigger, on account of it would look like envy.
Hunter, that coulda been you in there -- you, in the world's greatest deliberative body... with Sam Nunn, John Glenn, Pat Moynihan... What a time you could have had!

"Shut the fuck up, Paine!"

You, Hunter, you, not that polyurethane shirt dummy with the 24/7 look-at-me hardon!

Folks, hate Gary -- he's why we're in Iraq and not in a union.

Stop the presses

Alan Smithee writes:
Just when I though I was beyond being surprised by our corporate media, I'm smacked upside the head with a one-two punch, as both the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times somehow let slip a rare moment of honesty. First a right hook from the SF Chronicle:

Dems face a tug-of-war in own tent

"The new Democratic majority, should it occur, will consist of a fresh crop of moderate and conservative members whose elections will have been won in part by distancing themselves from the party's progressive wing."

Katie-bar-the-door! How did that make it past the editor? No doubt Rahm has already called a half dozen of his favorite attack poodles to verbally flay the skin off the managing editor for letting that get out.

And then a left uppercut from the NYT:

In Key House Races, Democrats Run to the Right

“My guess is that if Democrats are in the majority, it’s going to be because of these New Democrat, Blue Dog candidates out there winning in these competitive swing districts,” Representative Ron Kind of Wisconsin, co-chairman of a caucus of centrist House Democrats, said in an interview."

Whoa! The NYT managed to rouse itself from it's enchanted slumber long enough to notice this new crop of democrats might be a wee bit conservative? What's next? An expose on the link between smoking and cancer? The mind boggles!

Shall I compare thee to a Summers day

J Alva Scruggs passes this along, from Clinton golden boy, Ivy League meritocrat, and con artist Larry Summers:


Yet in many corners of the globe there is growing disillusionment... we see a degree of anxiety about the market system that is unmatched since the fall of the Berlin Wall and probably well before.

Why is there such disillusionment?.... As the great corporate engines of efficiency succeed by using cutting-edge technology with low-cost labour, ordinary, middle-class workers and their employers – whether they live in the American midwest, the Ruhr valley, Latin America or eastern Europe – are left out. This is the essential reason why median family incomes lag far behind productivity growth in the US, why average family incomes in Mexico have barely grown in the 13 years since the North American Free Trade Agreement passed, and why middle-income countries without natural resources struggle to define an area of comparative advantage.

It is this vast group that lacks the capital to benefit from globalisation and is desperately seeking either reassurance or a change in course. Yet without its support it is very doubtful that the existing global economic order can be maintained.

JAS comments:
What Larry fails to point out is how the despair of Globalism's "losers" can actually be an advantage. Their opportunities are shrinking, thanks to restricted access to capital, and therefore they can take greater risks. Rational maximization of that potential will save them. His past thinking along those lines remains as valid as ever.


DATE: December 12, 1991
TO: Distribution
FR: Lawrence H. Summers
Subject: GEP

'Dirty' Industries: Just between you and me, shouldn't the World Bank be encouraging MORE migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [Less Developed Countries]...?

1) The measurements of the costs of health impairing pollution depends on the foregone earnings from increased morbidity and mortality. From this point of view a given amount of health impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which will be the country with the lowest wages. I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.

2) The costs of pollution are likely to be non-linear as the initial increments of pollution probably have very low cost. I've always though that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly UNDER-polluted, their air quality is probably vastly inefficiently low compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City.

Query: who invented the phrase "instrumental rationality," a discipline where Larry Summers is the equivalent of Thomas Aquinas?

Query 2: Suppose Larry's party does succeed in regaining power, next week or in 2008 -- are we likely to see Larry in government again?

October 31, 2006

Modest -- to the point of nullity

I read these are the top proirity Bongo Congo Dem desires:
• Put new rules in place to break the link between lobbyists and legislation
Would a halfwit believe that?
• Enact all the recommendations made by the 9/11 commission.
That's it -- play up the domestic front in the GWOT, but don't make a graphic proposal like "we'll search every container coming into this country by any means necessary." Nope -- make it vague and dull, make it all fine print.
• Raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour.
Okay, bingo, but where's the index to inflation' the broadening of application, the revamp of the unemployment insurance system, the the the....
• Cut the interest rate on federally supported student loans in half
This should really rake 'em in by the millions.
• Allow the government to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients.
Great -- where's the pitch on this?
• Broaden the types of stem cell research allowed with federal funds.
Are you sure you haven't already got those voters, chum?
• Impose pay-as-you-go budget rules, requiring that new entitlement spending or tax cuts be offset with entitlement spending cuts or tax hikes.
Now we have arrived at our destination... this total horseshit will nullify any good in what's above. It's top shelf high octane bobo Rubinomics.

If the elephants hadn't shit the district six feet deep all the way out to the last lane of the beltway, this feeble stuff wouldn't elect Jesus of Nazareth.

Gridlock, the American palladium

So as we are about to whirl up into the ozone in next Tuesday's ballot box tornado, I'm asking myself just who exactly is it -- if anyone -- that needs this rainbow-hued Donk congress?

Well, according to one big-horned life-long repug musk ox named Bruce Bartlett, it's the genuine conservatives round here who do. In fact, Bruce claims not only do they need it, they need it bad.

Yes, for the first time in his life, this tin hat babbitoid stoic is pulling the jackass lever.

To create what?

Answer: "gridlock".

Yes, gridlock, that supreme gift of our divided gubmint; gridlock, the agency of our paralysis of the status quo, potentially as operative today as it was drafted up to be by our solomonic band of founding slaveholders.

Before I sum up I'd like you to review the donks' role in Father Sublime's infamous metaphysical conceit, "the ratchet." Notice, gridlocking is job one -- providing a holding action while the repugs regroup, pull themselves back to reality, and marshal their forces for the next onslaught against Mr and Mrs Dim Prospect.

Bartlett's actually off by a whole level of concreteness here. Its not the hunnish stone-fingered clowns from Cato and company -- their perch above the fray is perennially theirs. No, the dire need for change of Hill power comes actually from the Machiavels of the GOP itself, who I'm certain all know in their deepest gut that only a donk congress can rescue their "beautiful little system" from itself.

About October 2006

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

September 2006 is the previous archive.

November 2006 is the next archive.

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

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 3.31