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February 2007 Archives

February 1, 2007

The empire's premature epitaph

The mighty must fall... overreach... bankrupcy ... uncle's comeuppance will come. But in our lifetime? Don't count on it.

This obvious cerebration was prompted by reading a piece by the ever more delightful Chalmers Johnson


Johnson has learned, in the golden setting sun years of his life, just how vast and naughty Uncle's empire has become over the last 60 years, and in his Blowback trilogy, he puts ole Sam through quite a nice pranging.

But it's really too fatalistic, and as a result, despite its fin-de-civilization Weltschmerz, actually far too optimistic. Start with this quote he grabs from one Anatol Lieven:

U.S. global power, as presently conceived by the overwhelming majority of the U.S. establishment, is unsustainable. . . The empire can no longer raise enough taxes or soldiers, it is increasingly indebted, and key vassal states are no longer reliable. . . The result is that the empire can no longer pay for enough of the professional troops it needs to fulfill its self-assumed imperial tasks.
This is plain garden-party nonsense. Poor Chucky may have a nice hand with the research lamp -- from here and there and everywhere, he can locate the boils of empire like a pig finds truffles -- but he's got no head for global economics.

After a solemn accounting of the details of our near half-trillion imperial security budget, and of our massive $800 billion trade gap, and our Asian finance plan, and our reckless tax-free Babbit profit fantasia, he concludes:

... if the American people do not find a way to choose democracy over empire -- at least our imperial venture will end not with a nuclear bang but a financial whimper.
But sir, it simply won't. Given uncle's unique place at the head of the table, Wall Street can weather any conceivable national or global depression -- weather it in a purely economic sense, I mean.

Nope, barring a meteor sent by Yahweh himself, I fear Uncle's show has a long long run ahead of it. "No one can stop us now, baby" -- at least not till we cross over the far horizon where, yes indeed, the huge indefinite shape of a nemesis surely waits. But hey, mates, that horizon must be measured in half-century units -- unless we the teeming weebles find a way to put a stop to this Barnum-and-Bailey style grand guignol by blowing a few main boilers here at home.

February 2, 2007

Here's your weapon; now shoot yourself in the foot

Maybe lawyering has its uses:


Offensive military action against Iran would be illegal under the United Nations Charter, which requires that members settle international disputes by peaceful means. The UN Charter is a treaty ratified by the US and thus part of American law under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. Under the Charter, a country can attack another only in self-defense or with the blessing of the Security Council....

Congress should immediately pass a binding resolution reaffirming the United States' legal obligations and informing the Bush administration that it will not concur in any invasion or military action against Iran, would refuse to approve any funding for it, and would consider actions taken in contravention of the resolution as impeachable offenses.

So, prog caucus -- get busy.

You! Out of the tent!

Today's poser: "so what's the harm in a big-tent jackass party?"

Answer: big-tenting is exactly what puts the evil in lesser evil. It's plain as Hillary's breakfast face that until all we left-votin' legionnaires shout "fuck the big tent or we fuck you" the so-called "progressive" caucus' bluff can't be called.

Now, when we scream at 'em "you measly back-street pimps, you're supping with Senator Gill-Man himself, the creature from the Bridgeport lagoon!" they reply -- with a calm and studied sanctimony -- "But folks! Our party is a big-tent party, 'cause big-tent parties are winning parties, and winning parties are... well... they win, you see. Don't you?"

Bullshit. You can't hide back there anymore, Barney and company. We want you jumping off that garbage scow, now! That's right, split, you bastards, split -- bust the donks back to also-ran status.

Recall Lyndon's line -- "Better we keep those fuckers on the inside pissin' out...."? Well, you dickweeds need to be "on the outside, pissin' in."


Mike Flugennock writes:
Damn, dude, was that one helluva Presidential campaign kickoff, or what? Who'd think that a boring old bastard like Joe Biden could pull out humdingers like his characterization of fellow fascism-enabler Barack "O-bomb-Iran-a" Obama -- “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy”?

And, while I'm at it, just what is it that makes this old creep doing a piss-poor job of imitating a stereotypical gray-haired distinguished Senator think he has a crack at winning the Democrapic Nomination, let alone the White House? Really, man, what dull-assed old geezer. Y'know, it's been maybe seven, eight years now, and I still can't figure out how this undistinguished blowhard got famous.

I'll give the guy this, though; he's really outstanding at huffing and puffing and blustering and wagging his dick at everyone and still managing to say nothing that hadn't been already said weeks before by some other useless Democrapic hack.

Al Franken, finally funny again

He's running for the Senate. Setup and punchline all in one.

The image above reminds me uncannily of someone, or a combination of someones. The hair is Danny Kaye, and the side-of-beef face is maybe a distant, feeble-minded cousin of old Joe Dzugashvili.

A Whoyer, without a heart of gold

The highly dependable Steny Hoyer was invited recently to address the Brookings Institution (which will, one hopes, have had the room fumigated afterwards).


(Don't watch the video unless you're a glutton for punishment; Hoyer is so deathly dull he makes Joe Biden look like William Jennings Bryan. This image, strange and unsettling as it is, barely begins to convey the man's creepy, leaden, golem-like demeanor. He acts like he's under remote control from a distant location -- Jerusalem, perhaps? -- over a very low-bandwidth satellite link.)

His interminable speech boiled down to this: it was a good idea to go into Iraq, but the Administration fucked it up. First, they gave the wrong reason -- preemption based on WMDs that "turned out" not to exist (as if Steny and all his congressional colleagues weren't perfectly well aware, all along, that they didn't exist). Steny thought our pretext should have been a different one: namely, the fact that the late Saddam Hussein failed to comply with various UN resolutions. One wonders whether it has occurred to Steny that this same pretext would also serve quite nicely for an invasion of Israel.

Not only did the Admiistration fuck up the pretext, according to Steny, they also fucked up the execution. And what was the problem? Our old friend "boots on the ground," extravagantly vulgarized by Steny. He took the number of troops used in Mr Clinton's dear little Serbian war -- which he considers, of course, our finest hour in recent memory -- divided that by the population of Kosovo (not Serbia, oddly), then multiplied by the population of Iraq, and came up with half a million troops. Fifty divisions! That's the ticket! (The United States Army currently has ten active divisions.)

So. Next time one of your Democratic-party friends starts telling what the Democrats would or would not have done, you can tell them what their House majority leader at least says he would have done. I bet your friend will cling to his illusions rather than believe what his own honchos are saying.

Great Black Hope channels Col. Blimp

The much-ballyhoo'd new Governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, is clearly going to provide us all a rich vein of fun over the next few years:


More than 10 blinking electronic devices planted at bridges and other spots in Boston threw a scare into the city in what turned out to be a publicity campaign for a late-night cable cartoon... Highways, bridges and a section of the Charles River were shut down and bomb squads were sent in ... "It's a hoax - and it's not funny," said Gov. Deval Patrick, who said he will speak to the state's attorney general "about what recourse we may have."

Turner Broadcasting, a division of Time Warner Inc. and parent of Cartoon Network, said the devices were part of a promotion for the TV show "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" ... "They have been in place for two to three weeks in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, Austin, San Francisco, and Philadelphia," [said Turner Broadcasting].

The oddly hysterical response in Beantown had some of my mailing lists scratching their heads. The Hub is supposed to be so... liberal. Why then did they react more hysterically than Chicago... Atlanta... Philadelphia?

To which I would respond -- do you have to ask?

February 6, 2007

Okay, you stalwarts, pony up

My day job is interfering with my blogging these days, so I expect all you faithful readers and commenters to step into the breach. (You know who you are.) I'll set up up with author IDs and at least until Kos slips some of his mind-control juju into your Merlot, you can -- und vill! -- do your duty and post here. I don't mean no stinkin' comments either, I mean learned, sprightly, insightful, original top-level posts. Or at least virulently abusive ones.

Volunteer by writing direct to me: mjs [attt] smithbowen.net.

You can't make this stuff up

I know, it's just a silly little local story, but I can't resist:
A fine for using your iPod, cell while walking?
That's what one state politician wants

(Brooklyn - WABC, February 6, 2007) - A [Democratic] state senator from Brooklyn says he wants to make it illegal to use an iPod or cell phone or blackberry while crossing the street.... Senator Carl Kruger of Brooklyn is proposing a law that if anybody uses any kind of electronic device while crossing an intersection, they may face a fine of $100 dollars....

"iPods don't kill pedestrians. Cars and trucks kill pedestrians. So instead of blaming the victim, our elected officials should be passing tougher laws for reckless driving," said Paul Steeley White of Transportation Alternatives.

It takes a village to save people from the consequences of their own reckless walking.

February 7, 2007

Hey, warmongers can be liberals too

File this under: can't beat the Devil at his own game.


It's by Johnny Chait, warmonger and prat-boy first class of Empire.

I don't want to accuse American doves of rooting for the United States to lose in Iraq.... they understand the dire consequences of defeat....
Notice the force-feeding -- "dire"? Really, Johnny, what particularly enfeebled doves have you in mind here?
... the [doves'] urge to gloat is powerful and some of them do seem to be having a grand time in the wake of being vindicated...
Well don't we all, Johnny? If it ever happened that you were vindicated, you'd be crowing like Chanticleer. But here's the meaty heart of this column:
Radar magazine recently published an article bemoaning the fact that pro-war liberal pundits [read: people like me] have not been drummed out of the profession for their error....

It's not hard to imagine where this is going, is it?

This pusillanimous tower toady wants to retain his liberal pundit auctoritas despite all his egregious war pandering. And since the best defense is always a good offense, his approach is to attack the doves' record of failed prognosticating in prior wars. Implication: so what if they got this one right -- even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

But in particular -- and yes, Johnny has a very particular rival in mind -- he wants us to forget about elevating "lefty foreign policy guru Jonathan Schell" to anything resembling auctoritas.

Schell recently had the gloatful impudence to sniff

'There doesn't seem to be a rush to find the people who were right about Iraq [like me] and install them in the mainstream media.'

Well, that certainly sounds like it might have an impact on Johnnie's bottom line.

Cartoons and caricatures

Ripped straight from yesterday's headlines:


You boho wonders showed us what's what in Pitchfork Town. I can only sit back and savor it all. You're harbingers of why I put so much hope in the younger generation.

Compared to this spooky cellar cavity pallorous clown kappery, the yippies look like yuppies. You were strainlessly superior -- the boomer press lynchery was putty in your hands.

The mayor looked like some officious dribble straw-boss out of Moon Mullins.

You made us all a cartoon strip. You, baby, are the three-D -- we're the flatlanders. You played us all like Gretsky and Orr.

February 8, 2007

Not even hot air

Given the protectionist chill blowing out of election '06, don't you think we ought to take a quick look to see how far the DLC's closed its spread-leg trade policy? After all, an industry-free America don't have the cachet it did during the dot-bubble years of Peckerhead Bill. Don't you kinda wonder how far down and to its left this pack of Wall Street shills can stretch before they snap in two?

Well, how's this for openers: a firm fierce jabbing finger of scorn and derision at our Unitary Prez and top-kick decider. Nyaah, nyahh, you, like, suck at trade, duude.


He's presided over a long series of blunders and lost opportunities for trade expansion.
He's a tilter and a hacker and a donor whore. Sorry, teach, my president George ate our national trade policy. He fucked us with
...agreements ... marked by politically motivated attempts to polarize trade along partisan lines ... concentrate trade sacrifices in Democratic constituencies while avoiding reform of special privileges for Republican-leaning industrial and agribusiness lobbies.
What a horror story! Where was the mainstream press on this? Those millions of demolished industrial jobs -- lost for nothing more than a mere partisan political power play.
In a country where loss of a job often means the loss of health insurance and pensions, and a calamitous decline in living standards, it's no accident that many Americans perceive national trade policy as indifferent and adrift, and don't trust their leaders to negotiate or enforce sound trade deals.
You got butt-plowed, you rust-belters -- and we can feel your pain all the way up here in glass tower 13!

Okay. So now George and company have demolished huge hunks of our industrial base, like it's a college frat prank. What can we vital center types do to help? Wait for it:

Fortunately, key Democrats in Congress.... understand the false choices so often posed in the trade debate and are looking ahead toward new and fresh approaches... First, a short-term renewal of Trade Promotion Authority for the sole purpose of concluding the Doha Round.
And what the fuck's a Doha round? It's about giving "poor and often unstable countries.... critical economic help" -- oh, and rectifying "flagrant abuse of intellectual property rights." Danger, Father Smiff! Danger!
In conjunction with a progressive farm bill, completing Doha is the best opportunity to capture new markets and jobs.
That last bit was such a dense briar of codified signals, it broke my decrypt machine. Suffice it to say it means ... more copyright and patent policing, and more protection for our flagrantly abusive agri-biz that cheapskates, begs subsidies, and blockades the products of, that's right, "poor and often unstable countries." In short, the Dems' Doha strategy is "pay our royalties or starve."

That's all well and good if you got a portfolio, or a top trans-nat executive position -- but for us just-gettin'-by on the job types, here's the real beefsteak: "a significant down-payment on a new social contract." A "down payment," get it? Not actual bigger, better, broader, faster-acting collision mats for the inevitable stream of losers -- and certainly not a full

comprehensive socal compact that includes universal health coverage, universal pensions, a reformed unemployment insurance system, and other economic security measures for middle-class families.
No, for that you'll have to wait until... well, you'll just have to wait. But hey, how about a real fine first step toward such a compact, where
"Congress ... make(s) the support for health insurance and job placement now available to trade-displaced workers through Trade Adjustment Assistance open to all dislocated workers"
What "dislocated" actually covers, one supposes, will be defined administratively, case by case, and at a later and more appropriate date. But still and all, can't we look to the far horizon with hope, friends? The far far far far horizon....

Pretty small beer, right? So far (and frankly, to my surprise) beyond egg-facing the boy emperor, these Dembo trogs don't seem to feel a strong and compelling need to stretch leftwards or down, toward us little angry folks, and paint themselves as the kind, patronly alternative to the Bushco steamroller. Mark my words though, they will, and sooner rather than later, I see a stampede a-comin' our way -- wise men bearing us... gifts.

Insurgency, Times style

The Times has its early look at Edwards --


He's in racing form, sez the Gray Lady, but she draws this sober conclusion:

Mr. Edwards is a credible contender, like anyone running an insurgency against the establishment candidate, he will not be able to fall back on the top-tier institutional and financial support that will rescue Mrs. Clinton if she should stumble in the early states where Mr. Edwards appears strongest.
Yup, Edwards is an "insurgent", according to the view from Times Square anyway -- an insurgent not like the marvelous mister McG in '72, but rather like my closet hero, Gary Hartpence in '84.

I guess you are judged by the company you're forced into, and if it's the thin high air of the candidate summit, where only Mother Clinton and a covert corporate conjury we call Obama can cavort -- well then, I guess our Johnny is doing it under-doggy style.

PS -- Gomer Edwards would still keep the Patriot Act, so long as its domestic super-snooper prick gets lopped off. How long would that bargaining chip last, I wonder?

Mock the G-WOT

I'm still tickled about the Aqua Teen Hunger Force stunt in Boston.


A nation harrumphs in indignant sputter, as slap-happy hoaxsters unrepentantly quack, "What, me g-wot?" Wouldn't it be wonderful if deliberate emulation followed their inadvertence? Call it the mock heard round the world.

Boston, the city that once stood alone and unafraid, now stands as an emblem of hunkered abject official hysterics. Freaks and geeks, beware, if your pranks happen to fall into the faultless metallic grip of the Beantown security heavyweights.

But even after all the big heat, the bluster and the squeeze, these two miscreant millenial post-Seattle nihilists in dreadlocks and paint-stained jeans saw fit to mock their way out of the jam and into the hearts of anti-Big Brothers everywhere.

Mock the g-wot! Mock the g-wot!

Milk the kiddies

Any kind of universal health plan, without the cost locks that only single-payer can get to, is creating a super youth-ripoff trap. Mitt Romney's fiendish scheme here in Massachusetts (eagerly embraced by that clown Andy Stern of SEIU) is a perfect example.

The scam is to frog-march a bunch of healthy 20-year-olds into a for-profit insurance system that each year they'll pay into way way more than they'll get out. Extract billions from 'em, and say it's for their own good.

Pretty slick, huh?

February 9, 2007

Drop Bombs, Not Feminist Bloggers

Life couldn't be better. Mr. Smith called about a week back for us Stop Me readers to float him some actual stories. Like magic, the Edwards Campaign Blogger story lurched onto the scene. If you missed the uproar, there's a helpful encapsulation here. Plus an entertaining follow-up here.

To make a long story short, Southern Gentleman John Edwards (or rather, his handlers) hired a pair of liberal feminist bloggers to work for his campaign. His ostensible goal was to tap the vein of young, hip "netroots" bloggers-- not to mention their bales of money. What could go wrong? Both Amanda Marcotte (Pandagon) and Melissa McEwen (Shakespeare's Sister) are popular bloggers and thoughtful, often humorous writers. They love to wittily rip on Bush and his cronies.

Both aparently went ga-ga for Johnny's Neo Society brand of faux-healthcare for all and promises to bomb Iran to smithereens for its own good. Naturally these do just about nothing to set him apart from the rest of the hopefuls the Prog Blogs drool over, but no matter. Perhaps he paid the best, had the nicest teeth, or something like that.

The liberal blogosphere loves nothing more than a doomed recovery project, as we all remember from 2004. Proggies don't want a straighforward path to their supposed goals of peace, harmony and an iPod in every back pocket. They don't want an actual anti-war candidate. There's romance and intrigue in backing a candidate like Edwards, with his aw-shucks charm and skill at stirring oratory;Not to mention his borderline Himmler-esque vow to gently persuade a war-weary public that a few million more bloodied corpses on our hands are just what we need to boost our self-esteem. Every Liberal/Progressive feminist blogger worth her salt would kill for such an abundance of drama in the Tammy Wynette-Patsy Cline vein. There's nothing like being handmaiden to a handsome, slick-haired hawk who has clearly given much deep thought to the efficacy of dropping bombs on helpless foreginers. You can feel something real for a guy like that.

Poor Dennis Kucinich. If I wasn't so justifiably pissed off at him these days, it would be easy to spare him some pity. The poor fellow is as close to bonafide Left as you can get in the Big Tent these days. Yet time and time again he stands alone by the punchbowl with only his pocket protector for company while the pretty girls run off to drool over some yob in a DLC varsity sweater. Weird Al tried, but aparently even he couldn't make nerds cool enough for the in-house Prog set. Maybe if you got that guy who used to be half of the White Stripes to remake your image, Dennis. But I digress.

Everything was going great for a few days-- Until a couple of Right Wing clowns decided to kick up a fuss about the obvious moral depravity of any God-loving, bomb-dropping family man who'd think of letting potty-mouthed liberal feminists anywhere near his campaign. Within a day, the cry went up all over the liberal blogosphere to rally to the bloggers' defense and, of course, all that is good and right in Progville. It was so beautiful that even an avowed Crank like myself could only maintain her cynical, stone-hearted fascade for so long. In the name of the Sisterhood, I sat down and I wrote Johnny the Churchy Southern Hawk this email:

Dear Johnny,

Please do not bomb Iran. It's too expensive and very rude and it won't make your penis grow any bigger. Really, it won't. Can't you just invite Bin Laden and AIPAC and the Saudi royal family over for a barbecue and a few rounds of poker instead ?


The Crank

P.S. --Please do not fire Ms. Marcotte and Ms. McEwen. They are stand-up feminists and surely two of the finest minds the blogosphere has to offer. You will find both women invaluable as you dupe their peers into surrendering yet more money to giant insurance companies who will in turn cover our illnesses and anti-depressants. If and when they feel like it. These two savvy thinkers will also help to place the most humane, feminist spin possible on bombing the bejeezus out of nuke-loving, terrorist-coddling women and kids overseas. Plus they probably have bills to pay. Senator, have a heart !

Well, the story had a happy ending. Johnny has, as of this writing, backed away from any plans to fire my blogging sisters. My Inbox brought the following (clearly personalized) response:
Dear Progressive Blogging Friends,

Thank You for your thoughtful email. I love you and your money, The talent and resources you spend ceaselessly and unquestioningly on behalf of the Democratic Party are invaluable to me. Rest assured that I plan to keep the two bloggers on at least until I've gotten as much cred as I can possibly wring from them. Once I have at least the Veep nomination sewn up, they will be quietly hustled out the back door. I will never so much as mention them again.


Johnny Edwards

P.S.-- You write pretty good for a filthy Nader-worshipping Yankee.

Like I said, life couldn't be better. Unless... unless...

Mr. Smith, am I getting paid for this ?

(BTW -- I want to thank the folks at the excellent blog Opera Glasses and Popcorn for helping me get my thoughts straight.)

February 10, 2007


From the Overdue Posts Queue:

Every so often a contraband copy of the New York Times will be left lying around, like a basking copperhead, on my kitchen table, and my bleary morning eye will land upon it before I've had enough coffee to realize the danger. Once I start reading, of course, it's too late.

I got bit this way a few days ago by a review, from the busy pen of Michigan Kakufoni, or whatever her name is, that Carlos the Jackal among book-assassins. Michigan was dealing very severely with the ludicrous Dinesh D'Souza. "Willfully incendiary... preposterous... embarrassing," she called Dinesh's latest flight of fancy, The Enemy At Home, a "partisan screed... of illogical arguments, distorted and cherry-picked information, ridiculous generalizations and nutty asides." This from a woman who, the week before, treated "Chucky" Schumer's partisan screed with the greatest deference, though all the strictures just quoted might be applied with equal justice to it.

Michigan and her editors gave the clownish D'Souza thirty column inches of detailed refutation, plus a rather endearing author photo, credited to one Dixie D'Souza -- sounds like a Carl Hiaasen heroine, doesn't it? -- that makes jug-earned Dinesh look like Rowan Atkinson in the role of Mr Bean.

What cries out for explanation here is why the Times would pay so much attention to such a silly book. Evidently, even though Dinesh is a raving loony, he's still enough of a somebody to merit attention, and his ideas, crazy as they are, must be taken seriously enough to argue with.

Michigan's lede establishes Dinesh's credentials as "the Rishwain research scholar at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University" -- honest, she put that whole jawbreaker into her first sentence. And she allows as how John Philip D'Souza's 1991 Illiberal Education "did have some illuminating points... about the excesses of political correctness on college campuses." But now, she says, the former illuminator has turned himself into "the Ann Coulter of the think-tank set," and, most damning of all, he has written a book that is -- brace yourself -- "irresponsible."

Dinesh, I think, has constituted himself, in Michigan's eyes, as something like a rogue cop. While he was plying his nightstick against the vagaries of the campus left, such as it is, he had a useful, if modest, MP's berth in the American ideological fleet -- whose flagship is the mighty dreadnought wherein Michigan herself sails the seas of thought. But now Dinesh has gone for a buccaneer, popgunning at "mainstream politicians like Hillary Clinton, Robert Byrd and Jimmy Carter," at Garry Wills and Seymour Hersh, and at -- oho! -- "several New York Times columnists."

It's amazing, really, how many levels of gatekeepers we seem to need. Those must be some very vulnerable gates. Let's not even mention the educational gatekeepers; but even after you've squeaked through the sheepskin gate, like Giles Goat-Boy, there are agents, and editors, and publishers, all of whom have the thumb down by default. And if you get through that crowd -- if, for example, Bill Buckley is taken with your dusky, sloe-eyed, moon-faced charm -- you still have to deal with the Millikan Cacafuegoes.

Of course, the Mulligans are a comparatively small peril after all your other adventures. It's as if Odysseus should pass through Scylla and Charybdis and storm and shipwreck and finally crawl ashore to confront the fangs of a really angry miniature poodle, yapping on and on through thirty column inches of who-cares prose.

I don't suppose McGillicuddy will have much effect on Dinesh's bottom line -- in fact, her carpet-chewing will probably stand him in good stead among his reference group. Come to think of it, I greatly envy old Dinesh. If only I could make Miching Millecho that angry!

On the other hand -- if I'd have to cozy up to Bill Buckley to get there -- well, I'd consider it. But surely, surely! there's another way?

February 11, 2007

Kissing the ring -- or whatever

Obviously the Catholic hierarchy was not even a little cowed by the wild, unabashed, and very expensive nationwide expose of their cover-up of a decades-long man-boy robes act, ranging from harmless pocket pool to nasty love links. At any rate we can all enjoy the Universal Church hydra rising into dudgeon mode, and savagely striking down bathtub Baptist Johhny Edwards and his pair of recently-hired blogchicks for -- and isn't this rich -- their offenses against community standards of decency. Here's a pro-clerical take from my favorite Catrag, thanks to mcat.

There was a lot of surprised pwog-blog chatter about this -- how on earth could something so downscale and obscurantist as a groupuscule of Catholic hammerheads get the Injun sign over thoroughly modern Johnnie? These folks need to get some historical perspective. Before there was the AIPAC Policy Conference, there was... the Al Smith Dinner.

One wonders when some Catlick pol will at long last out these pederastic ghouls for their clandestine, behind-the-sacristy-curtain knife-throwing. It's well past time for those in the center of the arena to stop worring about the wrath of these vicious queens from Crowtown.

PS -- The real lead meatball here seems to be our old friend William A Donahue, head of the Catholic League:


Now that all the Huguenots are dead, it's secular pornocrats he and his reborn league are after.

Enough, already

Here's a new outfit to put on the watch list:


according to the Washpost's big character booster, this new group, calling itself Enough, aims

to tap into the grass-roots awareness and sense of rage generated by the Darfur crisis and create a social and political network that can identify potential wide-scale atrocities, particularly in Africa, and stop them before they occur.
A pre-emptive humanitarian strike force! How many divisions? Zero, of course -- but it does include some seriously expert personhoods from the Clintonian NSC, now itching spare tires wanting to be on the wheels of the goodness juggernaut once more.

Questions, questions, questions. Which role will they play? Will it be...

1) Long range intervention precursors?


2) Last-minute bums-rushers?

Place your bets. I'm puttin' all I got on number 2. What the GWOT needs now is another "last chance for salvation" good-guy, hair-trigger, gun-play Greek chorus.

Semi-sweet chocolate

You all probably read this piece by Glen Ford already, but it's solid and worth repeat notice: the nation turns its hungry eyes toward a chocolate-covered statesman --


Yes, Obama plays rocket man for The Man, a real corporate media meteor arching across the political skies, lifting heads and minds from our 24/7 mud-blood-and-beer circus minimus down here below.

My favorite bit:

And what do African Americans get out of the deal? Far less than nothing. By assisting white Americans to believe that painless absolution of collective responsibility for the past and current national sins can be achieved by looking kindly on an ingratiating Black man's presidential candidacy, Obama has become an active participant in the Great Diversion. He repeatedly reinforces the notion that noisy “partisan politics” is what’s wrong with America, rather than rapacious corporations, structural and overt racism, and rampaging militarism.
Pretty hard to improve on that.

Play nice, children

More from the Overdue Posts Queue. J Alva writes:

Constitutional patricide! This oedipal stuff really unnerves me. It's always a bad sign.

The link points to a jaw-dropping piece by David "Pone" Corn:
Impeachment At Our Peril

Impeachment would be a suitable punishment.... Still, congressional Democrats ought to resist the calls to engage in constitutional patricide....

The key question is not whether there is a case, but whether it should be prosecuted. The Democrats would do so at their peril—and at risk to their agenda.... [I]mpeachment will force its proponents to act as extremists.

Well, he got the "risk to their agenda" right, though maybe not in the sense he meant. Their agenda is to keep the war going, and keep the blame on the other team.

Patricide, though... I share J Alva's horror. The last father-figure President we had was Dwight Eisenhower. This gang, it's more like George and Dick's Excellent Adventure. It's scary to imagine the museum of neo-Roman civic sculpture in David Corn's head -- all those marble togas and pecs and stern expressions.

All deliberate speed

Driving to my little shop of sleepy horrors this morning, don't I hear a sound bite by Barack Obama, our choco-lite saviour from the land of Stephen Douglas. (Yeah, it was on NPR News, so I have no one but myself to blame.)

Apropos the Iraq-upation: "We need to be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in."

It's a perfect humanist empire phrase, isn't it? The obvious response from the anti-empire side: But Obie -- it's really not our call, is it? It's the Iraqi people's call; and if -- as I'm sure is the case -- they want us to scram, then we just oughta scram. Anything else -- in particular, staying solely for "their own good" and solely at our own expense, 'cause we owe it to them to... do the right thing. Even if it's thankless! Even if the world will revile us!

Bullshit, Obie.

We are home invaders there, not foster parents. If there's domestic abuse there now -- and even if there'll be way way more after we leave -- well, that tragedy of choice will still be on our heads, and the only thing we can do by staying is make it worse.

We owe Iraq reparations, not armed mediation, not a donkey-infested, responsible, humanely-motivated, open-ended bloodletting.

Any further Uncle Sam brutality, any further occupation, is a second round of criminality. And it's even worse than the first round, because at this point, nobody can deploy that scanty fig-leaf of innocence, "we wuz lied to." Everybody knows what's what in Iraq now, and nobody can pretend not to, and every day's new tally of dead and maimed lies right at the door of the people who want to be "careful getting out."

Hillary and Barack: King and queen of the boomer prom

These past few weeks we have witnessed the consummation of 40 years of merit-class identity politics, with the front-running candidacies for president of senators Clinton and Obama.

These stars are the better angels of a class and their consummation is betrayal, self-contradiction, the pious wish with hideous brutal consquences.

The vast goo-goo "me boomer, you profane" post-Woodstock wave has crested, with this result, this Hollywood ending.

But behold and beware: the goddess of history is too mighty to be maudlin. This promise of a Hollywood ending is a fraud, a saleable confection, strictly for profit only.

So go, you better-off boomers -- go out into the streets, and rage against the candy coated nightmare machine.

Go, and sin no more.

February 12, 2007

You! Off the tiger!

Why do I keep knocking Chalmers Johnson? I love the man. Deeply. But check this out, from Harper's:


It's a digest of his latest and last volume in the Blowback trilogy, Nemesis, a book of 300-odd pages, which I streaked, standing up at a bookstore last night.

Much of it got my bowels gurgling, but I'm bugged on one point -- enough for this post, anyway -- and this line from the Harper's article gets right onto that bug's back:

"Like the British after World War II, the United States could choose to keep its democracy by giving up its empire."

Giving up its empire? Swearing off it? By choice? Is that what the Brits did? Is that what Chalmers means -- or did Homer just nod?

Beacuse of course the Brits did nothing of the sort. Yes, in one beastly place after another, all across the planet, after '45, they folded up their Victorian charm schools, and like an exposed snake oil salesman, fled for cover. But Chuck, they didn't jump, they were pushed -- and pulled, twisted, and kicked, not just by the lesser breeds, but also by brawny Cousin Jonathan.

And even so, they are hardly in retirement. They may no longer command the major world courts as singles players, but they still play doubles on the imperial circuit, with Uncle Overhead Slam as partner in chief.

Let's agree on one fact here: ever since old Europe's 19th century empires all beat each other senseless between 1914 and 1945, and even before that useful bogey, Russia's Marxoidal figment, disintegrated in '89, we earthlings have been living either under, against, in, or through a unitary global empire doing business as America the Exceptional. My dear, and deeply esteemed, professor Johnson, empires of any sort -- even shabby, crumbling ones like the Brits ran prior to '45, and let alone unitary ones like Uncle Hedge runs today -- just can't take honorable leave of their global obligations, depredations and gainful exactions. The very idea is pure Disneyesque Tinkerbell hallucineering. Shame on you, dearest Chuck. You know better, and say as much in your trilogy, over and over. Doom is the beat of your narrative's drum throughout -- and rightly so.

Yeah, it's tempting to think that Uncle Sam might join some nonexistent little Britain in imperial rehab -- that the American titan might morph into some kinda of hulking Tom Jefferson in spurs. But Chucky, you must know that that was out of the question probably 30 years before 1896.

Headline impossible:

Weebles to Wall Street:
Okay, fine. For the sake of the story line, let's say somehow we're scaling back the state to de Tocqueville dimensions. So tell me -- where do you suggest we put all those transnational corporations?

February 14, 2007

What have you done for us lately?

It's now four months since The Most Important Election In The History Of Whatever, yet the world-historical consequences seem strangely... muted. Meanwhile, it's "On to the next thing!" for the pwoggies and the Dems. We didn't even get to take a breath after the last Most Important Election, and now we're supposed to gird our loins for the next one. It's like that Ivan Ilyich line: the reward of success in schooling is... more schooling. The reward we get for Democratic victories is the precious opportunity to give the Democrats more victories. What benefit we receive from this deal does not clearly appear.

The Nation magazine is ready to rumble, though. Here's a recent bit of pulpit oratory, taking its text from the Upper West Side's favorite bad writer:

Into 2008

On the eve of the 1992 elections, novelist E.L. Doctorow reminded Nation readers why the bizarre and troubling pageants known as presidential elections matter so deeply. "The President we get is the country we get.... He is the artificer of our malleable national soul." ... the President has become "the face of our sky, the conditions that prevail. One four-year term may find us at reasonable peace with one another, working things out, and the next, trampling on each other for our scraps of bread."

Wow, man, that's lyrical. E L Doctorow on the American Presidency -- there, if you like, is the ideal marriage of writer and subject: a tin-eared Virgil and a tinpot Caesar.

It's hard to imagine that after this spectacular plunge into bathos, there might be still deeper abysses ahead. But The Nation unerringly finds 'em:

The early [Democratic Presidential] favorites come hearteningly close, for the first time in our history, to actually "looking like America."
Like corporate America, maybe. But it gets better:
The huge shadow of the chief executive is part of what has deformed our political system....

Let us imagine, and insist upon, the election of a President with the broad heart, the sharp but open mind and the principled passion to seize the opportunity that now exists for a long-term political realignment in America--who can set not only Democrats but a strong national majority back on track toward the goals of equality, opportunity, true democracy and social justice.

Cue the Battle Hymn of The Republic. Fade to Old Glory waving above the Capitol. A Frank Capra film.

I wish I knew who actually wrote this slab of rodomontade. Pwoggies have a strange susceptibility to the corniest flag-waving -- I suppose that's one reason why that trumpery, vulgar blowhard John F Kennedy is still held in such high regard.

Perhaps one reason for this perverse taste is the anaesthetic effect of self-administered Fourth of July rhetoric. Patriotism is the opiate of the liberals. In this case, the fumes of the pipe have apparently obscured the Nation editorialist's self-contradiction from his own awareness. On the one hand, the swollen Presidency has "deformed our political system" -- from what shapely former form, I wonder, and when did the deformation occur? -- but on the other hand, our salvation lies in a "President with a broad heart, a sharp but open mind," and all the other anatomical qualifications for a savior -- a manly brow (particularly if she's a woman), a chiseled chin, and oh let's hope, liquid liberal eyes brimming with the tears of deep and earnest feeling.

February 15, 2007

The nuclear option: use it

Mike F. left us a beautiful bass aria in a comment:
It'd be worth what comes after just to see the looks on the faces of Hillary/Obama/Kucinich/Emmanuel/Pelosi/McAuliffe when they realize their scaremongering didn't work anymore, and that we're about to plow this baby in hard.

Talk about "strategic voting". Yee-hah, time to seize the plane! God Is Great!

Indeed. Any kind of anger that looks mad enough to bend reason and self-interest into a pretzel -- any defiance, any urinating on the scarecrow totems of the donkery, any desperate act that says "we have no handles, you long-eared asswipes" -- will send a lovely freakout wave through the upper strata of the Pharisees of our do-goodly empire.

Laudator temporis acti

An uncharacteristically lame piece on Counterpunch this afternoon:


... a slobbering "way it was and sure ain't now" wallow over the duo of Steadman and Thompson. They was wild, baby, wild, and confrontational to THE MAN, and oh there are none such now... in this age of Smallville conformity and cubicle-contrived and -timed hilarity.

Horseshit, pard -- pure Kentuck horseshit.

My man Hunter oughta pee burning waste ichor down his throat tonight. Has this guff not noticed we got a new generation of wizards? Did he not reflect on the recent G-WOT mockery here in Beantown? And that quality of calm superiority... I loved Hunter dearly, but he never never reached that sweet spot.

Okay, I know -- on the one hand, for those two fuzzballs, it was effortless. But on the other hand, it takes tons of lost time and mangling souls to produce them two -- generations' worth of taxiing around the runway.

My message to the likes of the brass fart that wrote that piece about ole Hunter and Ralph -- dreary self-pitying birds like him oughta go hunker on a perch somewhere far, far away, and keep their bills clamped shut.

We got to step away from the front lights boomer boom, and let the next wave, and the next after that, pound and blast this sandy shore into whatever new shapes it can take.

February 16, 2007

Dis-civilization and its contents

Let's forget the reality of our planet-wide means-of-living mangler -- the transnational corporations that really make us hated -- and focus instead on its appearance in the minds of cultivated merit-classers as a "clash of civilizations."

Well, come to think of it, maybe it is one. The piece of us that's cutting into the rest of the world's hide 24/7 -- maybe that really is our civilization: our monster from the collective id, our beautiful novelty machine, our ten thousand points of hyper-innovational, by all means availible, insistently iconoclastical-- in short our Faustian imperative to kaizen every fucking thing in our way. It's as if we have an unconditional license for new kicks, new highs, no insights, no majesties -- all marketable, of course, all new ways to construct our latest neat notion of a better self.

We do this by slum-clearing all in our way. We build on the rubble we make out of everyone elses' souls. And then, what else -- we're surprised, and hurt, deeply hurt, when this makes our progressive enlightened caring altruistic fun culture seem poisonous to all other civilizations.

We are profane to all sacred ways, even our own of three minutes ago, and we go about the globe doing "decent" violence in the name of a genteel free-for-all indecency.

One, two, three, many

This belongs with those lovely sauce for the gander bits: The New York Times harrrumphs at democracy getting its flame blown out by Russian state thuggery:


This time round, seems Putin's boyz are slimfasting its N-party system. My favorite quote, from one activist facing Putin's crafty particide wave: It would be like if California had an election and only five Republican Parties could run. Wellll, as Doddering Ronnie might have said, what's wrong with that? Maybe they can fall all over each other. Maybe they'll all be as different from each other as the Karamazov boys were.

And besides, with 5 Republican parties, that's still three Republican parties more than California has got.

Show me the money

... or rather, show me the polls.

Conventional pwoggie wisdom is that the worst our long-eared representatives are guilty of is cowardice: they cut off funds for the Iraq romp, they pay a price at the polls. But where does that idea come from?

If a fund cutoff translates into lost votes in '08 for the jackassery -- show us what canvassing sample says so, or else I gotta figure you crypto empire donks pulled it right out of your assholes.

Who knows any actual human being who wants us out of Iraq -- but who doesn't want the Dems even trying to pull the plug?

And who in hell wants the troops back? Who wants us to fund a longer campaign there, let alone a buildup? Who? Who?

Show me the numbers, you phoney bastards!

February 17, 2007

The racing form

The one and only Mike Flugennock tells us all we need to know:

Your Jackass Slate For 2008!"

Well, here we are not even six months after The Most Important Election Since The Last Mass Extinction Event and, like Christmas commercials during the World Series, the Democratic "stars" have already announced their intentions to make political hay out of the disasters they allowed to happen for the past five years -- that is to say, announced their candidacies for the 2008 Presidential Fracas which, as any Democrat will tell you, will be The Most Important Election Since The Earth Cooled To A Temperature Conducive To Life.

So, what's more to say, gang, except let's get on with the slagging -- uhh...that is, let's look at some quick, elegant analyses of the "major" candidates (so far) on your Jackass Slate For 2008!



Ballsiest of the bunch, for sure, announcing the week after Christmas, and while doing what was obviously a staged photo op around New Orleans, pretending to help clean up a wrecked, wasted neighborhood and help some people get their lives back together, all while announcing for Big White Massuh's House. Am I the only one here who, on seeing this guy for the first time, could only think that here was the new Beautiful Hair Breck Boy, and that if he were a C&W singer, he'd be getting more ass on the road in a month than most regular guys get in a lifetime, and just where the hell did he come from, anyway?



Hillary, Hillary, Hillary! What else could I possibly say about Hillary that hasn't already been said about the sensation of having red-hot steel needles driven into your eyeballs? Anyone who's seen the YouTube clip of Hillary meeting with Code Weak...uh, Code Pink back in '03, or heard her speechifying in the past month, will tell you that her skills at telling people shit they want to hear are still par excellence. Just five minutes of Hillary and you'll know how the pancake feels when they lay on the Aunt Jemima. Will this be our '90s Nostalgia -- CNN once again being the Clinton News Network, NBC once again being Nothing But Clinton?



(Full Disclosure: Your Cartoonist has been a hardcore Deadhead since 1978.)

Y'know, when Dennis Kucinich launched his "insurgent" candidacy in '04, I first thought "well, hot damn! He sure as hell won't win, but at least he'll put the fear of god in those DLC hoods!" This was, of course, before hearing about -- and witnessing -- his miserable, craven performance at the Democratic Convention, his supporters having their "Kucinich'08" signs ripped from their hands and replaced with Kerry signs by DNC goons without any apparent sign of protest. No bolting the Convention, no boycott of the vote, no nothing, just Dennis Kucinich leading his merry band of phony "progressives" over the cliff with John Kerry (and Code Weak bringing up the rear). And now, as if this lack of effort was actually appreciated, here's Dennis The Menace, back again, to suck all the life out of the American peace cargo cult -- uh, American peace movement.



(Full Disclosure: Your Cartoonist was drooled on by the Washington Post in 2002.)

Who else here saw Barack Obama's beaming mug in the paper or on TV right about the time of the '04 Democratic Convention and thought, "Who the hell is this guy, and why are they drooling over him like he was a goddamn' rock'n'roll star?" I mean, seriously, the guy was basically a nobody, then suddenly he was all over the goddamn' place -- kinda like a political version of an American Idol winner. No years of living on club gigs and peanut-butter sandwiches, no paying dues on the road as a backup act, just wham! You're a star! Did anyone else here also find themselves reading the drooling and thinking, darkly, that the Donks were already grooming Obama for '08, and that he was here not to actually do anything for African America, but to give Geezin' Old White Liberal America something to feel good about -- so they can go back to not really giving a shit about what's happening to black and brown people in this country and when anybody calls them on it, they can say "hey, gimme a break! I voted for Barack Obama!" The only Black constituency I can think of who'd possibly go for Obama would be what I like to call the "Ebony Magazine Demographic".

Code Pink Meets Hillary, March 2003:


February 22, 2007

Hurt me, Melvin. Hurt me.

Here's a somewhat sanctimonious account of Gerry Ford's last-gasp, final-chance, must-act-now request for funds to keep the Red congs from tanking through Saigon:


The piece seems to have been ripped off from The New Republic, and what it mostly goes to show -- unintentionally, of course -- is just how un-opposed to the war the Democratic Party was, even after Nixon took over the management of it:

In 1970, during the Vietnam war, an amendment to the military procurement authorization act introduced by Republican Mark Hatfield and Democrat George McGovern proposed that, unless President Nixon sought and won a declaration of war from Congress, no money could be spent after the end of the year “for any purposes other than to pay costs relating to the withdrawal of all United States forces.” Of course, withdrawing forces is not cutting funding for them (in fact, it might have turned out to be more expensive in the short term), and Hatfield-McGovern never got more than 42 votes in the Senate–even though, in its second go-round in 1971, 73 percent of the public supported it.

The first time the Senate actually voted to suspend funding for American military activities in Vietnam was in the summer of 1973, two months after the last American combat brigades left, by the terms of a peace treaty Nixon negotiated. That amendment passed by a veto-proof majority–encompassing Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals–of 64 to 26....

Early in 1974, Nixon requested a support package for the South Vietnamese that included $474 million in emergency military aid. The Senate Armed Services Committee balked and approved about half. A liberal coup? Hardly. One of the critics was Senator Barry Goldwater. “We can scratch South Vietnam,” he said. “It is imminent that South Vietnam is going to fall into the hands of North Vietnam.” The House turned down the president’s emergency aid request 177 to 154; the majority included 50 Republicans....

Finally, of course, under the hapless Ford, lopsided bipartisan majorities in both houses turned down a last-ditch request. Comes now Melvin Laird -- bet you didn't know he was still around, did you? -- writing in Foreign Affairs that
Congress snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by cutting off funding for our ally in 1975. Washington should follow a similar strategy now [in Iraq], but this time finish the job properly.
Implications: the Dems will abandon our fightin' kids in Iraq, let 'em get picked off one by one, as they hole up there in the green zone and at forts Haliburton and Bechtel, pinned down like Beau Geste, dying like rats, etc. etc.

Huge indignation about this from the Dems. Don't throw us in that briar patch. What a nice cover for them. Their liberal true-believer base is infinitely credulous that the yahoo inanity, out there in their tens of poorly-educated millions, live on such invisible foreskin music. And so, of course, the poor donkey's flank must be guarded, and that means... well, you fill it in. The dance of mutual enablement continues, without missing a step.

Here, for example, is The Nation's ace beltway scout:


A few days ago , a senior Capitol Hill Democratic aide called to tell me he was worried. The aide feared that his party would soon find itself split over the Iraq war.
Gee, David, you say that like it's a bad thing. The threnody continues:
Progressive House Democrats are pushing for a cutoff in funding, he said, not caring that such legislation would put their colleagues from less-liberal districts in a bind. Moderate Democrats, the aide said, will not likely want to vote against military spending for Iraq and face the criticism (justified or not) that they are not supporting the troops. Even though the war is unpopular and Bush and the Republicans are on the run, we’ll be dividing ourselves, said the aide, who works for a legislator who favors a funding cutoff.

The following day, a prominent liberal thinker in Washington told me he was concerned that Democratic leaders and antiwar activists are swinging behind Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Jack Murtha’s plan to attach restrictions to Iraq war funding. Murtha’s proposal would prohibit money from being used to deploy troops to Iraq who are not fully equipped, fully trained and fully rested. That plan cannot win a majority, this thinker said; putting it up to a vote would only rip apart the party. The Democrats, consequently, would look weak and not achieve anything, but they still would give the Republicans the chance to accuse them of undermining the soldiers in the field. Couldn’t antiwar Democrats and activists, this liberal asked, find a more mature and sophisticated strategy?

Lo, the hour of combat approaches on winged sandals. Mayhaps the soap will even get softer.

Take your medicine, children

Father Smiff's favorite sump tank is at it again. In a recent report, Third Way tries blowing holes in the rapidly advancing prog/pop line that the nation's bottom two-thirds has taken a 25-year-long, all-time classic, red-headed mule beating at the hands of corporate America and its bi-party flunkies.

It's only to be expected -- obviously a counterattack is needed since the prog-pop steamroller is crushing everything in sight, mind-share-wise. Alarm bells are ringing loudly. The orcs of magical liberalism, once so confidently streaming forth from the Clinton NewDem/DLC Orthanc are now in ignominious retreat, those marvelous gravy train years of the high 90's long forgotten by the jobbled masses.

But Third Way has the antidote. If you'd rather not wade thru any more Third Way swamp than you have to, here's a quick takedown by Tom Palley:


Now I know Tom's usually a far too ponderous grappler for real folks to dine out on, what with his smokestack English grunting and gripping and his all-too-conspicuous cast-iron union suit, but here his blend is oddly perfect.

And if that's still too much, here's some quick notes for my fellow ADHD types.

Thirdies message these lies till they feel like facts:

  1. America's middle class is far wealthier than neopopulists believe or say.

    In fact, of course, the bottom 60%'s wages are sleeping on a 25-year rollaway cot.

  2. The huge trade gap, despite clownish appearances to the contrary, is really the dark side of very good news for us jobbled second stringers, pikers, duffers and bottom feeders.
  3. All that house debt is good for us, too!
So... if low pay, skill removal, and upside-down mortgages are good for us, what's bad for us then? I mean, besides bites by pit vipers, too many triple cheeseburgers, and a whore's last kiss.

Don't mind that big white thing out there up ahead -- it's prolly an ice cream barge.

February 23, 2007

Erst die Moral, dann das Fressen

A must-read -- if the Washpost has any such thing --


It's about the "left" attack on Ellen Tauscher, and it's like one of those wonderful movies that has all the character actors you really like: my fave Cal gal, Jane Harman; Hoyer; la Nan; even Kos and Moveon.

Act One: the all-fours netroots attack:

Progressive blogs -- including two new ones, Ellen Tauscher Weekly and Dump Ellen Tauscher -- were bashing her as a traitor to her party. A new liberal political action committee had just named her its "Worst Offender." And in Tauscher's East Bay district office that day in January, eight MoveOn.org activists were accusing her of helping President Bush send more troops to Iraq.
Act Two: The party honchos rally round, and the weak sisters cave
Pelosi has clashed with Tauscher in the past, but she's now eager to hold together her diverse caucus ...So far, Pelosi and her leadership team seem determined to protect Tauscher and her 60 New Democrats -- up from 47 before the election. In fact, the day after Working for Us, the new progressive political action committee, targeted Tauscher, Pelosi sought her out at a caucus meeting and assured her: "I'm not going to let this happen." House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) spent 20 minutes complaining to Working for Us founder Steve Rosenthal, who swiftly removed the hit list of "Worst Offenders" from the group's Web site.
Intermezzo: Kos plays an own-horn sonata
"Absolutely, we could take her out," said Markos Moulitsas Zuniga -- better known as Kos -- the Bay Area blogger behind the influential Daily Kos site
Act Three: More weak sisters

Despite a long career as a friend of war and killer trade agreements, the cultural lib defense tries to cover her flank with green pink and caring:

"..liberal groups such as the Children's Defense Fund and the League of Conservation Voters give Tauscher impeccable report cards, while the National Rifle Association gives her straight F's."
Act Four: The hardline Net warriors return to the offense

It's about Iraq, stupid!

"We need her to stand up and end this war," said Joi. She and her Code Pink colleagues recently told Tauscher that if she wouldn't support a bill calling for total withdrawal from Iraq within six months, they'd occupy one of her district offices."
Act Five: Cue the sousaphones, as the union piecards come lumbering over the ridge:
Gerald W. McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, made it clear that Working for Us didn't work for him.

"Our majority can disappear in a wisp," he told the members. "I'm the sheriff of the incumbent-protection program, and if you need help, let me know. In Blue America, there's no room for PACs to chase vulnerable members they have differences with."

And a special cameo by Andy Stern, usually the blood enemy of McEntee, but singing sweet close harmony with him on this song:
Tauscher soon met for a glass of wine with Andy Stern, the feisty liberal who runs the Service Employees International Union; he assured her of his union's support.
Epilogue: Kos and Jane Harman, canon in diapente
Kos points to Harman as a perfect example of how the Net roots can keep Democrats in line. He said Harman used to be a constant irritant, a go-to quote for reporters looking for a Democrat to tweak liberals -- until she had to fight off a primary challenge from the left in 2006. "She's been great ever since," he said. Now Harman even writes on the liberal Huffington Post blog
And here's Jane, with the show's defining line:
Having served in the majority and the minority, I can tell you, the majority is better.
And that, dear readers, is what it's all about: the snout in the trough.

Free willies

It's... free choice week!



As members of Congress return home for the Presidents Day recess, working families are launching a Week of Action to push for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act.
Read this free-to-dribble act -- it's toothless mush:
  • Establishing stronger penalties for violation of employee rights when workers seek to form a union and during first-contract negotiations...
  • Providing mediation and arbitration for first-contract disputes....
  • Allowing employees to form unions by signing cards authorizing union representation...
Tea-party rules for organizing -- and yet for most Democrats it's way too vicious and Bolshie. My guess, all but about 130 Congos find this bill downright incendiary.

The road ahead to "job choice" will only shorten when these union cadre get out of the lobby and over to the job site. Only when they themselves are willing to get their own fat asses arrested for doin' a little direct de facto enforcement of workers' rights, will the tower boys take notice and the public respond.

Job sites are like lunch counters and front seats on the bus -- you got to occupy 'em and not budge, if you expect to have any chance of making them yours by right.

Heart in right place, head needs some work

Just read the lates stack of wheatcakes by Paul Craig Roberts at Counterpunch:


Paul's what you'd call an off-the-reservation 80's supply-sider. Like better-known guys who play economist/prophet of doom on TV, Paul likes to rage against the transnational project to de-industrialize America, job-strip the nation's skilled and educated, and generally run this graceful land down to Haitian status. That is to say, Paul is running with the right-flank libertarians as part of the present rising tide of national populism.

Unfortunately, his economics leaves much to be desired. Of course, as my dad, Wild Bill Paine, always said, "cheerleaders don't have to do the blocking and tackling, son" -- so I guess it don't matter much when Paul, trying to explain why the real global system just don't work like in the textbooks, writes of "the two conditions on which comparative advantage depends":

  • Capital must be immobile internationally and seek its comparative advantage in the domestic economy, not move across international borders in search of lowest factor cost
  • Countries have different relative cost ratios of producing tradable goods"
What's wrong with this? Let's start with the fact that number two is prolly built in to every conceivable multi-market system, and forms the basis of all trade, but in the present system it is rendered irrelevent by currency manipulation, where a national advantage can become absolute across the board, as we north Americans face today vis-a-vis trade with East Asia.

And as for number one -- having met the pillar, here's the post: for condition number one to hold, we would need to wipe out the entire international credit system. So the Roberts sine qua non conditions for international trade are a combination of the impossible, with the wildly, futilely excessive.

Having said that, though, I have to admit the piece is a nice attack on the shameless trans-nat shilling of one Michael Porter, of Harvard Yard and something called the Council on Competitiveness. Even if Porter's economics is barely press-room quality, at least he knows who's behind all this job massacreeing:

This argument [by the aforementioned Coun on Comp] shows that the report is written from the standpoint of what is good for global firms, not what is good for America.

It made some sense when General Motors claimed that what is good for General Motors is good for America, because when the claim was made General Motors produced in America with American labor. It makes no sense to make this claim today when what is good for a company is achieved at the expense of the American work force.

Shape up or... shoot your boss

I'm still brooding about Third Way's advice to the perplexed, discussed here a couple of days ago. The burden of their song was that the "middle class" -- whatever that is -- is doing great, but naturally they want to do better. Third Way's fresh-faced young up-and-comers helpfully provided a few pointers.

Seems like a long time ago now that blow-me Bill was able to sell his line -- "play by the rules and our party will do you for the rest."

That DLC joyride hit a big deep dark pothole, rounding the bend into the new century. Lotta geeps suddenly had a "this is all total bullshit" moment, and the Clinton line needs a makeover.

But the tower trolls' smiling hopeful apologists at Third Way offer -- what? The promise of a fresh deck? A new dealer?

Nope. Third Way has some new rules of the game for us.

TW proves to their own satisfaction that this old deck of ours ain't really stacked... well at least not so bad... at least, errr... nothing like so bad as these right out of Nowheresville, barefoot, ringwormed, new populists are trying to make out. But still, the junior woodchucks generously allow, we as "progressive realists" know there's always room for improvement. Excelsior, cries the pious monk.

If we can't change God's and freedom's deck, we can try changing, or rather mending err mending our own habits, can't we? So without any further delay, let's give a warm rube welcome to Third Way's tablets from the mountaintop, a new covenant with the Yahweh of international capital. Working title: from lunchpail, to laptop, to scrap heap in one continuous kaizen motion.

Step one: face it, it's not enough to work hard anymore. Now you gotta work smart too. In particular, forget a raise if you ain't got no 4-year college degree. You are headed straight downmarket, pal to Tiajuana wages. And oh, keep this in mind -- even after you aquire that 4-year sheepskin, better convert that student loan into a 401K as fast as possible. You're gonna need it, 'cause retirements are getting longer and the dance of death way way costlier.

And don't, whatever you do, look back, and don't look ahead. Because the old and infirm are growing faster and faster than the young and firm.

So, Third Way tells us, I got your job site strategy right here. Think portablity, disposability, scrapability. That's you, your job, and your benefits. Under the new "you're on your own, asshole" rules, from day one to night zero. And oh, you'll need to prefigure a dry-gulch retirement and health plan.

Well, what can we say? Brace for whitewater, gang. And don't blame the corporations, please. They're endangered species, the sperm whales of profit, and they have come under a new set of brutal market-inflicted rules, too, just like you -- poor babies.

In a nutshell: because the pirate gun is at their head, and the wolf is at their executive bathroom door, there can be no more Mister Nice Guy.

If you thought Mister Burns was a bummer, try 21st century market reality, as seen from behind the corner office desk. Can you spell merciless? This is not Madison Avenue hype here. Competition these days is really, really merciless. No more fat dumb and happy lifetime leapfrogging, no more generous pay envelopes at Santa time. There are too many lean and hungry Asian corporations, TW warns us, out there on the global prowl, ready to eat my lunch, your lunch, and your coffee break too, also your spouse's job and happy hour and.... In fact, you, all of you, can expect to get downsized and innovated out the back door, and sent off on a jaunt of ever less opportune job opportunities. Jack be nimble, Jack be quick -- and I mean 24/7, or Jack be sleepin' on a heating grate, cause Mister Moto bit off his balls.

To generalize the Third Way vision: we are now in a sea to shining sea, totally integrated earthwide economy, where its not enough to make something. Not at all. Production is for starvers. Today, only corporations that make themselves perpetual creators of neat new stuff can expect to meet the same payroll tomorrow they met just yesterday. So the Third Way rule of effective survival play: plan on hoppin' in and out of Strip Mall Tech, uppin' your skill bank, just to keep even.

You'll need new skeeeelz more often than a new car,to land on your feet at your new outfit. Oh, and by the way -- the outfit-to-outfit hop looks to be getting only faster and faster, and the skill set strips will be leaving you nakeder and nakeder.

Fuck Third Way and the horses' rules they rode in on. Come that inevitable next job whack, just shoot your boss on the way out and let the Clintonian effective-death-penalty state take care of you. At least you'll get three squares and central heat until you've exhausted. your appeals. And when the end comes, it'll be the most competent and effective medical treatment you'll ever get.

February 24, 2007

Some good news for a change

Fun stuff from the nice folks at Angus Reid today.

I. Thinking the unthinkable


Adults in the United States are divided on who should certify medical insurance coverage, according to a poll by Zogby Interactive. 35 per cent of respondents think the issue is the primary purview of the federal government, 31 per cent leave it up to each individual, and 15 per cent believe employers should be responsible.
Looks like Andy Stern has his work cut out for him. More interestingly, the utterly unthinkable single-payer option commands the support of a plurality of the public, even though nobody of consequence is propagandizing for it, and our leaders almost unanimously deplore it as rank Bolshevism.

II. The sorrows of Brand X


Republican Rudy Giuliani holds an advantage over three prospective Democratic presidential nominees in the United States, according to a poll by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. 48 per cent of respondents would vote for the former New York City mayor in 2008, while 43 per cent would support New York senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Giuliani holds a seven-point edge over Illinois senator Barack Obama, and an eight-point advantage over former North Carolina senator John Edwards.

Okay, I'm probably reading too much into this. In the case of Obama and Whatsisname from South Bumfuck, nonrecognition probably plays a role. But it's gotta mean something that Giuliani, who has been off the radar for years and has the fatal tin can of New York City tied to his tail, is doing better than the gorgon Hillary, who has four-walled herself from coast to coast, accumulated a money bin that makes Scrooge McDuck look like trailer trash, and re-tooled her image with every twitch of the applause-meter.

III. Les douleurs du Brand X, a la Francaise


Hillary's poor showing is mirrored -- on a much more stylish and elegant plane, of course -- by the sleek Segolene Royal, a supposed Socialist somewhat in the Bernie Sanders mode, though nicer-looking:

Nicolas Sarkozy holds a larger lead in France’s presidential race, according to a poll by Ipsos published in Le Point. 33 per cent of respondents would vote for the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) contender in this year’s election. Ségolène Royal of the Socialist Party (PS) is second with 23 per cent, followed by Union for French Democracy (UDF) leader François Bayrou with 16 per cent, and Jean-Marie Le Pen of the National Front (FN) with 13 per cent....In a prospective run-off scenario, Sarkozy holds an eight-point advantage over Royal.

TNR, RIP (and not a minute too soon)

New Republic to Cut Back Publication Schedule

The New Republic, the thinning left-leaning weekly magazine whose circulation has plunged in the era of the Web, is overhauling itself.... CanWest Global Communications, a Canadian media conglomerate that had been a minority shareholder in The New Republic, is now the majority owner. Martin Peretz, the editor-in-chief, is retaining his one-quarter interest. “Having a corporation in the ownership mix, and at a publishing company at that, is a much greater guarantee for the financial future of the magazine,” Mr. Peretz said today. “It just seemed to me, given my own intellectual and moral synergies with Leornard Asper, a very good partnership.” Mr. Asper, the chief executive of CanWest, was not immediately available for comment.

Poor Mr Asper was probably in the bathroom throwing up. "Intellectual and moral synergies!" Really, Marty Peretz is a national treasure -- who else could ever come up with a phrase like that? -- but the idea of having synergy with him, or syn-anything for that matter, would surely turn the stomach of a turkey vulture.

I'm not sure exactly what the apparently imminent demise of the New Republic portends, but it's good news in any case. TNR was never an organ of the Right -- in a perverse way, the Times ignoramus actually got it sort of correct, without knowing how or why, when she called it a "left-leaning" rag. Of course you have to understand "left" here in its peculiar Times sense, as a synonym for "liberal."

TNR always formed part of the institutional apparatus of American liberalism, not American "conservatism" (to use, for the moment, another word in a common but nonetheless peculiar sense). TNR's function was to provide cover for the liberals' thirty-year romance with... with... -- oh, what the hell, I'm going to let my inner sectarian take wing and call them The Forces Of Reaction. I know it sounds like something out of Monthly Review, but at least it uses words in a straighforward, un-peculiar sense.

So. A few possibilities:

1) TNR is no longer needed. The aforementioned romance has been well and truly consummated by the mighty schlong of the aforementioned F's of R, and the liberals -- all six of them -- have settled more or less contentedly into the life of a cellblock byotch.

2) TNR has exhausted whatever credibility it ever had, even among the infinitely gullible punters of American liberalism, and some other means will have to be found for them to fool themselves that they're splitting the difference.

3) Liberalism has decided to turn from its wickedness and live again.

We can probably discount #3, or at least I hope we can. My own hope is that TNR, having been one of the instruments of the liberals' auto-euthanasia, is now following them into that good night.

February 26, 2007

Tiger by the tail

So what's the new biparty bipolar Orthrian Iraqupation mission?

Frankly, I don't give a shit. Whatever it morphs to, it won't be anti-empire. It won't be "away all bases and boats away" globally. It won't be "yankee go home and stay home and sin with explosives no more."

But because I owe you some gossip, here's an update from Foggy Bottom. Yes, it's from the source-n-a-tor himself, Comrade Y of le service etranger pousse-gateau. He'd been at one of those embassy parties sucking down the Martinis, and he called me up last night, full of prepster bonhomie. "Fort Kurd ain't enough, Paine!"

"I see."

"No you don't, Paine. The position a la mode last summer -- you know, fall back under a cloud of red white and blue bluster to bases in Kurdistan and let the sectarian arab civil war sort itself out -- not lookin' so swell now, mon vieux."

"Y! Were you at the French embassy?"

"How'd you know? Anyway, the Shia can't be allowed to win the "lower Iraq" gig any more than they can in Lebanon -- in fact, call Arab Iraq Lebanon times eight. Uncle has a long term area problem containing Iran, and that problem looks far worse now, after the Hezi-wezis made the Tel Aviv catamounts look like pussycats.

"The present nightmare -- a brutal core of Shia runing amok from the Gulf up past Basra and past Baghdad to the oily skirts of Kurdistan itself. Yikes! We got a dog in the hunt after all. Far from attacking Iran, Uncle's having trouble figuring out how to defend the gulf!

"Oddly, the building boom underway along the Arab littoral dwarfs even Chinese efforts. Example: for one sheikville, more office space completed this coming year than all -- that's right, all -- the office space in existence in downtown San Francisco.

"War zone -- boom zone -- war zone -- boom zone -- the trans-nats are at this stuff 24/7.

"Oh, and by the way, there will be no hot war with the Iranians. It's all just hot air. You can take that to the bank, Paine. I got a little spool of micro film here you'd just love to see, buddy."

"Y! Watch it, will ya? Not on the phone!"

"Nemmine, Paine, nemmine... I'm not scared... I've got insurance... I know where the bodies are buried, bro."

I worry about the guy sometimes.

February 27, 2007

Cluster fuck

A sourly humorous bout of shadow-boxing in the Senate over cluster bombs. The four horsemen of humanitarian militarism, Leahy, Sanders, Feinstein and Mikulski, have introduced a bill that would "limit" the use and sale of cluster bombs -- or well, sort of halfway pretend to limit them:
2. No funds appropriated or otherwise available to any Federal department or agency may be obligated or expended to use, sell, or transfer any cluster munitions unless--

(1) the submunitions of the cluster munitions have a 99 percent or higher functioning rate;

(2) the policy applicable to the use, or the agreement applicable to the sale or transfer, of such cluster munitions specifies that the cluster munitions will only be used against clearly defined military targets...

3. The President may waive the requirement under section 2(1) if, prior to the use, sale, or transfer of cluster munitions, the President--

(1) certifies that it is vital to protect the security of the United States; and

(2) not later than 30 days after making such certification, submits to the appropriate congressional committees a report....

Blah blah, you can fill in the rest. In effect, the great humanitarians mandate the use of nice new well-functioning cluster bombs, not those crummy old ones, unless the President should want to use the crummy old ones.

This toothless bill adds some tech detail to last year's Feinstein/Leahy amendment, which simply specified that cluster bombs were not to be used against civilians. (Neither bill, of course, contains any provision for enforcing this ban.) Last year's amendment failed in the Senate, 70-30, with fifteen Democrats voting against it:

  • Bayh
  • Biden
  • Clinton
  • Dodd
  • Inouye
  • Landrieu
  • Lautenberg
  • Lieberman
  • Lincoln
  • Nelson (FL)
  • Nelson (NE)
  • Pryor
  • Rockefeller
  • Salazar
  • Schumer
And why did they vote against it? The Hill has the answer:
“Perhaps unfortunately, the issue of cluster munitions came about so prominently by Israel’s use or misuse of cluster munitions in its conflict with Hezbollah,” Colby Goodman, a program manager at Amnesty International, said. “It was seen by some as a focus on criticizing Israel...."
So we can't say it's a no-no to use cluster bombs on civilians, because that might reflect badly on Israel. Pretty breathtaking, huh?

Obama, in an uncharacteristic display of relative ballsiness, actually voted for the amendment last year. Perhaps on account of that, The Hill says

... Obama has a tougher row to hoe with Jewish voters. A survey last week by the Jerusalem newspaper Ha’aretz ranked him 17th out of 17 presidential candidates on a scale of friendliness to Israel.
Or maybe it's just that he's a schvartzer. The New York Sun adds:
[Ha-Aretz's] chief Washington correspondent, Shmuel Rosner, said... "His supporters will come mainly from the left wing of the Democratic Party and from the African-American community — from constituencies which are traditionally not that supportive of Israel."
Poor Barack. All that bluster about Iran and he still can't get the time of day from the Israelis.

Clinton and Schumer and the rest of last year's cluster-bomb fan club may get a little wiggle room on this year's amendment. The Hill reports that

AIPAC is not taking a position on the cluster-bomb curbs this year, according to a spokesman for the group. Zionist Organization of America President Morton Klein offered conditional approval of the Feinstein-Leahy bill: “I have no problem ensuring that our allies receive more effective and efficient cluster bombs … unless it would impact on our allies receiving cluster bombs they need at critical times."
That Klein. A heart as big as the West Bank.


Owen P. and m-cat pass along this road-to-Damascus moment on Matt Stoller's part:
You may not want to believe it, but the DLC is still in charge of the party in the form of the New Democrat and Blue Dog caucuses, as well as a whole crew of consultants warning the party off of dealing with Iraq. Business lobbyist centrists rule the roost, with progressives pushed to the side everywhere from the think tank world to Congress to the Presidentials (no, there is no progressive in the race, and though several have instincts that way no one has developed yet into a genuine liberal).
I would have said they were all genuine liberals. But let's not cavil.

Matt isn't willing to go quite as far as David Sirota, though:

The Associated Press today tells the story of how Democrats in Washington clearly do not want to end the Iraq War.... The renewed refusal by Democrats to use their majority in even the most basic way to stop the war is a declaration that the new majority is not close to using even the most basic powers afforded to it to stop or slow down the war. In other words, in backing off, the Democrats have just weeks after the 2006 anti-war election mandate effectively declared themselves as supportive of the Bush administration's stay-the-course policy - a truly sickening act of cowardice.
And even David doesn't yet understand that it isn't cowardice at all, it's commitment. The Democratic party as an institution is committed to continuing the war, and with all respect to Owen's FSO mole, Mr. Y, I think they're probably committed to expanding it.

Matt has a solution to the problem, and man is it a bold one:

The mechanism for doing so is criticism, and perhaps primary challenges against some prominent Democrats who are among the worst of our obstacles.
Don't you love the "perhaps"? Gasp! Matt, you sans-culotte, you!

When I hear the phrase "primary challenge" I go for my Browning.

February 28, 2007

Icebergs ahead (again) for the Great Coalition?

If, as Toni Morrison once famously, and fatuously said, Bill Clinton was "our first black president," it's starting to look as though Hillary may not be our second -- at least, if black folks have anything to say about it:


Among the Democrats, Clinton still leads, but by less of a margin than last month, given a seven-point gain in support for Barack Obama. His advance has come overwhelmingly among African-Americans, many of whom likely have learned more about Obama in recent news coverage.

Clinton's support, meanwhile, slipped by five points. The reason, again, is entirely blacks. In ABC/Post polls in December and January, she led Obama among African-Americans by 60-20 percent. Today it's a 44-30 percent race among blacks, with Obama in front.

This could get interesting if blacks rally behind Obama, since as noted here yesterday, the Israel lobby doesn't so far like him one little bit. Dare we hope for some delightful fireworks on this one? The phoney Dembo story line of a harmonious Great Coalition between American blacks and Israeli ethnic cleansers might fall embarrassingly apart again -- and wouldn't that be fun!

Naah, don't get your hopes up, Smith. Barack will make the necessary obeisances, surely, and get himself certified kosher by our favorite cluster-bomb customer. Or Hillary will find a way to take him out before he can cause too much trouble. Or maybe the whole story is a Triangle Productions film from start to finish, in which everybody knows their lines already, and whose leaden denouement is a Clinton-Obama ticket.

Obama, da Bomb-ah

For what it's worth... it's already over. Obama is the Dem nominee. Any fool can see that Mother Clinton is all but embalmed, like that sad Jayne Mansfield the 16th on the slab down in Florida.

Nope, the race is over, and as often happens, the wiry, intense black dude took first place. Oby-wan has the black vote swinging behind him, and what has St Hill got left but the troops of Fort Zion? And there's no particular reason for them to stick with her, either -- like the Bedouins they enjoy chasing around the wadis, the Zion cavalry will gallop to the oasis with the sweetest water. Lose your donors, lose your chance.

I wonder if she'll even wait to be Muskieed (a la '72) and Humphreyed (a la '60) all at once, in the first spasm of prima-caucal action? Yeah, I think she prolly will, even if she don't need a beating like that. She'll charge into it, get the full robo-soak, and probably not take it well either -- "I guess you'll have mo more Hill-Rod to fuck around with anymore, will ya, guys?"

She won't take the vice gig. She'll be hoping, with some reason, that the drawn booth curtain will Al-Smith the dark-skinned chap, and 12 is her lucky number, anyway.

So who else can veep it? Will the higher wisdom of the party of the people, the whole people, and nothing like the people go full scramble and anoint... Pelosi?! Or pull back to Clark?

Oby-Clark looks like the better bet to me -- keep a mean snake-head cracker lookin' in over Oby's left shoulder, while Wall Street Bobby Rubin keeps a half nelson on the black guy's signing arm.

And there it is, fellow citizens: our land of mile-wide, inch-deep symbolic gestures, with this one nomination, can put paid to the black blood debt. And if the half-African meritoid actually gets Whitehoused to pilot the invisible earth empire -- well then, the tables will be turned, and black folks will owe us big-hearted Caucasians a debt they can never hope to repay.

About February 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Stop Me Before I Vote Again in February 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

January 2007 is the previous archive.

March 2007 is the next archive.

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

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