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March 2007 Archives

March 4, 2007

Clash of the... midgets


After the Hollywood donor dust-up, now there's the sensation in Selma over the black base vote -- all this worthy of the corny, mirthfully ironic hyper-hype that the greatest of them all, Mohammed Ali, put behind his title bouts.

Here mother Clinton and brother Obama make simultaneous dueling speeches over the 42d anniversary of the most televised cracker cop clubfest ever, in Selma Alabama, March '65.

The deal went down in stages: Obama first and foremost, giving the key speech where the various surviving participants will gather. Among other delights, it's church vs church -- black Baptist venue against Afro-Methodist venue. And even more delightful, Obama gets the prestigious Methodie forum, while Hil has to slum it among the Baptists. The bridge crossing re-enactment will be the scene of the two mighty forces merging in ruffled waters -- all for the sake of the suddenly contested and valuable black vote.

Clinton comes off much the more shameless -- and desperate. The best part is that they decided at the last minute to wheel Bill in -- Bill! -- to accept some sort of civil-rights award. Bill! The man who pulled the switch on Rickie Ray Rector, and contributed the phrase "Sister Souljah moment" to our political lexicon.

If he's the best ma C. can do to appeal to the black electorate, she's in some kinda trouble.

Stay tuned for our next exciting episode

Today's and tomorrow's civil rights movement will be the jobs rights movement. But it will not be on television -- not till it really bites enough corporate asses. Kinda like the anti-Jim Crow movement: the congress could never seem to get anything past the senate, and its own fine old peculiar institution, the filibuster, till all hell had broken loose a number of times. It takes a movement, Hillary.

In this light: mock dKos update:

"Hoo hoo hoorah, all but two Democrats in the House voted for card check class struggle." Yes, brothers and sisters of the great unorganized, the Employee Free Choice Act passed the House with flying blue colors yesterday:


and will now sail into a full and final stymie as it hits the big check -- namely, the fine old aforementioned filibuster

Mr Peabody observes: "Yes, Sherman -- the cliff-hanging drama and ultimate defeat of card-check unionization -- 'twill be another instance of the grace and balance of our bicameral legislative branch. Nothing hasty, nothing rash, nothing faddish. Of course the chronic humiliation of the labor movement, splendid as that is, can't compare with the Senate's greatest historic achievement, the life-support of segregation. Why the filisbuster kept lynching alive, for an extra 30 years at least. Speaking of checks, Sherman, you might even call our legislative system a rubber check democracy."

PS: Here is a nice story of the piecard jack ass dance on this from Carter through Clinton:


As recently as 2000 the AFL-CIO was disinclined to support labor law reform in any fashion, still smarting from the disappointment and embarrassment of the failed labor law reform push of 1977-78.

This labor-led reform drive during the Carter presidency ultimately crashed on Senate rocks after winning passage in the House. Carter eventually threw in the towel on this issue, leaving labor and the reform legislation hanging.

The angry reaction of many union leaders and rank-and-file members to what was perceived as a Democratic Party failure at minimum -- and betrayal at worst -- played a part in the collapse of the Carter regime and the election of the notoriously anti-union Ronald Reagan in 1980.

Significant sections of top union officialdom resolved to never again broach the labor law reform subject and risk another electoral debacle.

In recent years, the AFL-CIO refused to seriously support labor law reform, privately fearing that it would serve only to expose Democrats who were happy to accept labor's support while doing nothing to address the labor rights catastrophe. Promotion of labor law reform by organized labor was minimal-to-non-existent throughout the Clinton years, being routinely dismissed as "unrealistic."

Gone, forgotten, and unmissed

Mister Vital Center himself, Arthur Schlesinger, is dead --


-- and with him he takes, hopefully, straight to hellfire, the legacy of the liberal front in the cold war: a front where New Deal chattering class elements who had seen, and quickly seen, the anti-Communist light, fought it out to a resounding win/win for vitality, vigor and the American Way.

It was fought with bow ties and irradiated scholarship, egg heads at the on-guard ready, and CIA cut-out humanism.

Through it all, this man played deft bludgeoner. Sure, he looked elbow-patch goofy, but his instrument was no Alvin's harmonica. In the halls of Academe and the pages of the leading journals, he and his ilk steamrolled a couple generations worth of anti-imperialists, from the late forties to the mid-sixties.

Well he's dead, and not a minute too soon, but there are many many new vital-center types out there contending for his job: to prove, day by day, that empire can have a clean face, a feeling heart -- and a cultured claw.

'Democracy now' jumps the shark?

Mike Flugennock writes:
I tried to skim through as much as I could, before I got sick at what appeared to be Amy Goodman giving Gen. Wesley "The Sweater" Clark a wet, sloppy blowjob for his opposition to the US war drive vs. Iran, and seemingly accept without question his answers re his bloody brutalization of Serbia and Kosovo at the behest of President Bubba:


Barack kisses the ring

I predicted here a few days ago that Barack Obama would soon find a way to make his obeisance to the Israel lobby, and I was vindicated sooner than usual. Barack appeared before a regional conference of AIPAC and laid it on thick. He spoke with his usual facile lyricism of a trip to what he called the "Holy Land":
I flew on an [Israeli military] helicopter to the border zone. The helicopter took us over the most troubled and dangerous areas and that narrow strip between the West Bank and the Mediterranean Sea. At that height, I could see ... how close everything is and why peace through security is the only way for Israel.

Our helicopter landed in the town of Kiryat Shmona on the border. What struck me first about the village was how familiar it looked. The houses and streets looked like ones you might find in a suburb in America.... Then, I saw a house that had been hit with one of Hezbollah's Katyusha rockets.

Barack is very good with code words. Kiryat Shemona is a town on the Lebanese border -- a town built on the ruins of an Arab village named Halsa. The present town, whose name means "city of the Eight," refers to a group of Jabotinskyite adventurers, including the fairly well-known Josef Trumpeldor, who were killed in 1920 after attempting to take possession of another border town called Tel Hai. They seem to have believed that eight resolute Zionists would suffice against what Trumpledor's ideological comrades called the "Arab horde."

In this case, as in more recent ones in the same region, they were mistaken. Halsa, from which the "hordes" who overran Trumpeldor and his comrades came, conveniently became "abandoned" later, and Kiryat Shemona now stands above its buried ruins. It is a bit of a tourist destination for Israelis; there's a toboggan run, and a chairlift up into the nearby mountains.

Kiryat Shemona was a bloody shirt for the late Menachem Begin. "Nooooo more Katyushas over Kiryat Shemona," he used to declaim to the wild cheers of his followers. This oratory, of course, paved the way for the Lebanon invasion of 1982.

You've got to give Barack credit. "Kiryat Shemona" before an AIPAC audience is red meat indeed; it's like talking to Serbs about the Field of Blackbirds. Of course exoteric ears would not, perhaps, quite grasp what signal was being sent here. They would probably just think he'd picked some town at random. But Barack, I daresay, does nothing at random.

He went on to talk about Iran:

...we should take no option, including military action, off the table.... Iranian nuclear weapons would destabilize the region and could set off a new arms race. Some nations in the region, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, could fall away from restraint and rush into a nuclear contest that could fuel greater instability in the region—that's not just bad for the Middle East, but bad for the world, making it a vastly more dangerous and unpredictable place. Other nations would feel great pressure to accommodate Iranian demands. Terrorist groups with Iran's backing would feel emboldened to act even more brazenly under an Iranian nuclear umbrella. And as the A.Q. Kahn network in Pakistan demonstrated, Iran could spread this technology around the world.
Here's his take on last summer's jolly little war:
... when Israel is attacked, we must stand up for Israel's legitimate right to defend itself. Last summer, Hezbollah attacked Israel. By using Lebanon as an outpost for terrorism, and innocent people as shields, Hezbollah has also engulfed that entire nation in violence and conflict....
Oh, and don't forget to send money:
...we must preserve our total commitment to our unique defense relationship with Israel by fully funding military assistance and continuing work on the Arrow and related missile defense programs. This would help Israel maintain its military edge and deter and repel attacks from as far as Tehran and as close as Gaza.
All in all, a more polished performance than John Edwards' recent pole-dance for the same outfit; but that's the difference between a high-class whore and a Tenth Avenue streetwalker.

March 5, 2007

Why is there no socialism in... well... anywhere?

Carrol Cox, a person whose stuff I always read with pleasure on lbo-talk, recently wrote:
As an ex-weatherman, ex lrs-member said to me back in '92 (explaining why he would vote for Clinton) "I would like to win for a change." Understand, that slogan doesn't mean "I want to achieve this or that goal" but merely "I want to win" just to say I won. Some of my former lrs-comrades in Chicago had sincerely hypnotized themselves into the belief that "Daley represented the progressive wing of the bourgeoisie."

Except for those widely separated times when capitalism really badly wounds itself the opposition (whether revolutionary or reformist) is going to lose -- and it will lose even worse if it hypnotises itself into thinking that it could win if it only had another strategy or only didn't make this that or the other mistake.

The job of leftists is to keep trying and losing trying and losing until their trying occurs at one of those times when capitalism has wounded itself. If they don't keep up the fight (without illusions of some new trick of winning) they won't be prepared when victory is possible.

The major fact of the post-war period up to and including the present is the enormous strength of capital. Part of that strength is creating the illusion of correctible weaknesses or errors on the left, so in trying to correct those irrelevant errors leftists stop being leftists.

I guess it's a little perverse of me, but in all sincerity I find this comforting. I'm not being snide here. "Keep trying and losing" -- well sheeit, that I know how to do.

"Big Challenge for progressives...

....People Don't Believe That Government Works."

One Mike Lux is very upset about the results of a recent poll:

....there is some stuff in there that also just scares the shit out of me, and ought to scare anyone who cares about the broader progressive agenda.

Look at some of these numbers:


If the federal government were to receive additional money, do you think the additional money is more likely to be spent well or is it more likely to be wasted?

  • Spent well: 13%
  • Wasted: 83%

A. Government does more to help people get ahead in life.

  • 30% agree
B. Government mostly gets in the way of the economy and job growth.
  • 57% agree
Well, you might ask, what's Mike's problem here? Don't these stats show how intelligent the public is? Presumably, when the pollster interrupted the respondents' dinner, the poll's "subjects" weren't thinking about some ideal, conjectural government in Cloud-Cuckoo-Land, but about the government under which they actually live, and have lived all their lives, through Bushes and Clintons and, for the elderly among them, Reagans and Carters. Are they mistaken in their assessment of that government, Mike?

Mike, naturally, doesn't address this question. In all fairness to him, it's almost certain that the question has never occurred to him. For reasons of his own, he would very much like voters to believe in some government that he might be, or once was part of:

Long-term, the broad progressive movement needs to have a... strategy toward convincing Americans of the positive things a well-run government can bring to their lives.... this is why I was a lot more excited than many progressives when I was in the Clinton White House about the National Service, 100,000 cops on the street, and re-inventing government initiatives we implemented....
He goes on, at great length, to stress how important it is for the voters to believe that "our" candidates will give them a "well-run" government. This is remarkably obtuse, for a presumably quick-witted merit-class Clintonian junior woodchuck. If people think that actually-existing government is inimical to them -- and once again, Mike, are they wrong? -- then why in the name of all that's holy would they want it to be "well-run?" Surely they ought to want just the opposite?

I'm being too hard on the guy, obviously. You can't expect a man to be rational when his career is at stake. Here's his CV:


Mike Lux is the founder of Progressive Strategies LLC and a director of the Center for Progressive Leadership.

* Director, Proteus Fund
* Director, Arca Foundation

According to the Progressive Strategies' web site, prior "to founding Progressive Strategies, Lux was Senior Vice President for Political Action at People For the American Way (PFAW), PFAW Foundation, and the PFAW Voters Alliance....

Before coming to People For the American Way, Lux served at the William Jefferson Clinton White House as a Special Assistant to the President for Public Liaison, where his role on health care and budget issues involved working closely with a wide range of constituency groups including labor, seniors, health care providers, trial lawyers, consumer groups and agricultural interests.

"Since leaving the White House in April 1995, Lux has become a significant fundraiser for progressive causes and candidates. He was a 1996 Clinton-Gore Finance Committee Vice Chair, and served in the 1996 cycle as a Democratic National Business Council Vice Chair.... Prior to his service at the White House, Lux was Constituency Director on both the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign and the Presidential transition. Lux was also a senior staffer for the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and Paul Simon campaigns in the 1988 cycle....

Lux is currently (January 29, 2003) involved in assisting Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) "in assembling and raising money for a new outside organization designed to provide a voice to the party's progressive wing....

It's wonderful, really, how Mike and his mirror-image careerists at the Heritage Foundation have agreed that this needs to be a conversation about the abstract idea of "government" Good thing, or bad thing? More, or less? Anarchy, or totalitarianism? Vote, or die!

No wonder people don't vote, and die stoically when their time comes. They know a scam when they see it.

March 7, 2007

Billing us for killing us...

... a.k.a. "wage insurance." Leading Dems love the notion:


Familiar with the buzz phrase, "creative destruction"? Here's how it applies to factory jobs: destroy a $25 an hour job, create a $12 an hour job.

Enter wage insurance, to head off resistance to this benign and laudable process. Plans are rife, but here's the great Schumer's version:

... cover almost any displaced worker of any age who loses a job for almost any reason and takes a new one for lower pay. Workers who make less than $97,500 [are] eligible... benefit... a maximum of $20,000.
Chintzy. But at least it'll be paid for out of a wealth tax, right? Wrong:
the cost of the program... roughly $3.5 billion annually... could be covered by adding $25 to every worker's annual unemployment tax.
Yup, we jobblers collectively pay for the compacting of our wage structure by corporate creative destruction.

All nice and social-market like, eh? Sadism with a Swedish accent, one might call it -- except that the Swedes wouldn't have added the double injury of paying for it with a regressive flat tax. That's good old Amurrican know-how at work there.

Dear Prudence


Mother Clinton recently sent a letter to Fed chairman gentle Ben Bernanke, and (irony of ironies) also to that old China handjob, secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson, registering her grave "concern" over Wall Street's echoing of last week's Shanghai stock market convulsions:

If China or Japan made a decision to decrease their massive holdings of U.S. dollars, there could be a currency crisis and the U.S. would have to raise interest rates and invite conditions for a recession.
Say I started a letter on national security policy like this:
If Russia made a decision to launch its nuclear missles fleet at the US...
...what would most folks think? The move St Hill is suggesting for Japan or China to trigger a dollar crisis, would be equally foolhardy and self-destructive -- and thus hardly plausible.

Then there's the other howler --

the US would have to raise interest rates...
Nothing of the sort would be necessary, and if rates were raised, it would be pretexted by the dollar slide, not caused by it.

But this is all quite airy-fairy. Suffice it to say, if this letter is any indication, St Hill, if she ever returns to the White House, plans to use hysterics as a policy club.

What's the embedded objective here? consider the intro line:

As we have been running trade and budget deficits....
Budget deficits? What's the link here, in a letter about our trade gap? What compulsion is there to yolk these two deficits, trade and fiscal, together? Obviously, the "fiscal budget gap" is the real target here, and what follow-on poison bite lies snaking about in the grass, if St Hill's ilk are empowered prez-wise in '08?

Try something like this on for size: "We must raise your taxes and cut your benefits. Given the terrible twin deficits, it's the only... prudent thing to do."

After all, they are... the nanny party.

The fix is in

From The Hill:
House Democrats say consensus is forming on U.S. troop withdrawal

House Democrats... haven’t been able to resolve differences between those who want to mandate a clear date for withdrawal from Iraq and those who don’t. But leaders [say] that they have reached consensus in some key areas.

“What we’re trying to do is make policy, not just points,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)....

Meanwhile, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) disputed reports that liberal Democratic members will vote against a Democratic plan if it doesn’t set a concrete date for withdrawal.... "There is consensus on three important parts,” Emanuel said, namely more money for Afghanistan than President Bush had requested, more demands placed on the Iraqi government, and fully training and equipping troops....

Speaking for the liberal wing,[Barbara] Lee said that the “Out of Iraq” caucus is not seeking to cut funding to the troops....

In other words, the Dems are reaching a consensus to keep the war going in Iraq, and intensify it in Afghanistan. My favorite line:
Hoyer has said members are discussing a way to allow members of the Progressive and “Out of Iraq” caucuses to offer an amendment on the floor during the Iraq debate for a full withdrawal of troops....
... so that people like Bernie Sanders will have an empty gesture to make, for the edification of their constituents with dovish bumper stickers. Steny, as always, blurted out the blunt truth, like the knucklehead he is: there's policy and then there's points. The points made will be anti-war, the policy quite the reverse.

Waziristan: The new Darfur?

Some of my best friends are Zionists. No, really. I recently got an email from an old pal of mine, a guy who fundamentally knows better but can't quite kick the habit. He was fulminating about Waziristan.

Nuke 'em! he wrote.

I was a little startled. My friend -- call him Saxo -- doesn't take the War On Terror very seriously, or the Clash of Civilizations. On the other hand, he really doesn't think well of Muslims generally. (Some years ago it was just Arabs, but the scope has expanded, what with Iran and Sudan and Malaysia and whatnot.) I know his family, and so have some sense of what he imbibed around the dinner table, back in the Fifties and early Sixties, and especially after '67. It's easy to see how this happened, to an otherwise intelligent guy, if you know the back-story.

Still -- nuke 'em? And Waziristan? Not exactly a world-historical place. A nasty place, perhaps, but there are lots of nasty places in the world. There's Staten Island, for example. Or Williamsburg. Saxo wouldn't want to nuke them. I think.

I asked Saxo what he had against Waziristan. I would have been surprised if he had mentioned Qaeda, and he didn't. He did mention the plight of women. This was good strategy on Saxo's part. He knows I have a soft spot for women.

It didn't quite click, though. Nuclear feminism? Incinerate the women of Waziristan, in order to save them? I love a paradox as much as the next Hegelian, but that was a little much even for me.

Although I know Saxo quite well, from of old, I can't presume to say what exactly is going on in his brain -- what conversations he's had with whom, or why one thing is more important to him than another. But I did do a little web research.

The gravamen of the Waziristan "issue" seems to be that Pakistan is not much of an ally. They've got this unruly province on their Afghan border, and they can't or won't call them to order.

So the point is...? It's obvious enough: as in Darfur, Something Must Be Done. By "us", of course, and with boots on the ground or bombs from the air, as the case may be. And oddly enough, the people about whom Something Must Be Done are... Muslims.

Pervez Musharraf: the new Prince Sihanouk? I met Sihanouk years ago, and I'm snob enough to mention, oh so casually, that I even had dinner with him. Talk about Old Money.

I haven't met Musharraf. He must be quite a guy, though, to have clawed his way to the top in a pretty competitive milieu. But it's starting to look as though certain components of the imperial camarilla may be dissatisfied with him -- or with his country.

Is it because of what they've done -- or because of who they are?

March 14, 2007

The poor ain't so bad

Remember Mel Brooks as Louis XVI in History Of The World, Part I?

[Rimbaud's father has been thrown in prison for making an offhand remark at a party]
King Louis XVI: What did he say?
Mademoiselle Rimbaud: He said, "the poor ain't so bad."
King Louis XVI: [shocked] What a thing to say! "The poor ain't so bad!" Huh, you're lucky he's still alive!

Barack Obama encountered just such a Brooksian reception at AIPAC, according to the Times:

Less experienced than Mrs. Clinton in the thicket of Jewish and Middle Eastern politics, he became a bit tangled in the eyes of some.... Several... conferencegoers said they were concerned by Mr. Obama’s remark Sunday in Iowa where, in a reference to the Middle East, he said, “Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people.”

.... Mr. Obama has said in the past that both Israelis and Palestinians had “suffered” because of the lack of a peace agreement, and a spokesman said on Tuesday that Mr. Obama believed “the security of Israel should be America’s starting point in the Middle East.” Yet by singling out Palestinian suffering on Sunday, Mr. Obama could be tempting fate....

“Awarding first place in the suffering matrix is odious and infelicitous,” said Rabbi Steven Silver... “I think a lot of Americans would find that comment offensive, too.”

The extravagant hair-tearing rhetoric of Israel fans is a never-failing source of delight -- not just odious, but infelicitous! Perhaps Rabbi Silver is a descendant of Dogberry*?

If so, his son appears to have missed the hysteron-proteron gene. At least as quoted by the Times, Silver fils' comments are a bit more coherent and composed:

Mr. Silver’s son, Jesse, a college student who supports Mrs. Clinton, said he was spreading the word at the conference about Mr. Obama’s remark.

“It’s just clumsy of him to say that on the eve of the Aipac conference,” Jesse Silver said. “His inexperience is showing.”

"Inexperience," it seems, is the official line here, articulated by young Jesse Silver and duly echoed by the Newspaper of Record. Personally, I wonder. If my esteemed colleague Mr Owen Paine is correct and Obama has already got the nomination sewn up, maybe he has concluded that he doesn't need to pander to AIPAC at quite the historically mandated level. Is this another straw in the wind? Has the Lobby peaked?

*"Masters, it is proved already that you are little better than false knaves; and it will go near to be thought so shortly."

Nobody in here but us Philistines

One senate Samson can pull this war machine down on itself -- one Samson willing to stop the funding by filibustering the appropriation. So claims John Walsh:


"It takes only one Senator to filibuster against funding the war" -- one senator and "41 abstentions to sustain the filibuster," and "Bush's supplemental funding bill for the Iraq war is dead."

Now indeed if that is all it takes, then the Dems really do own this war too, don't they? Is that a surprise?

You didn't really believe their reasons, did you? It's a dead certainty that the fund cutoff would in fact harm no soldiers over there, and save many, who really cares what the talk radio goblins yammer? Are the people that stupid ???

No -- but a big chunk of them are hope-hearted enough to believe that the Dems really might want to stop this thing, when obviously they don't.

John has a site on this:


Caliban upon Setebos

Okay, full disclosure: I have a subscription to The Nation. Extenuating circumstances, though. I got the sub, a year or so ago, because I wanted to get onto the members-only parts of their Web site, for the sake of making as much cruel fun of them as I could find time for on the blog here.

So every two weeks, a copy of the mag falls with a soft, pulpy, grayish thump through my mail slot. I seldom open it, unless Alex Cockburn is mentioned on the cover. But in an idle hour tonight, I flipped through the latest issue, and what should I find but Eric Alterman eulogizing Arthur Schlesinger.

Now there, if you please, is a perfect pairing of writer and subject. The late (and not a minute too soon) Schlesinger was the subject of a characteristically mean-spirited kakology from brother Paine here, as soon as the last breath of hot air had left Schlesinger's body, but with all respect to my comrade, I think Alterman's piece unintentionally damns the Kennedys' Procopius a lot deeper than Owen could do. A few vomitous excerpts:

Schlesinger issued warning after warning to the American left about the dangers posed by the US Communist Party. Three years before publishing The Vital Center (1949), writing in Life magazine, he compared Communists to Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses, who carry "their infection of intrigue and deceit wherever they go." With their systematic mendacity and duplicity, "Communists are engaged in a massive attack on the moral fabric of the American left.... The Communist party is no menace to the right in the U.S. It is a great help to the right because of its success in dividing and neutralizing the left. It is to the American left that Communism presents the most serious danger."

...The last time I had lunch with Arthur... I asked him if he felt anti-Communist liberals had allowed their hatred of Stalin and Soviet totalitarianism to overshadow their commitment to civil liberties at home. But like Edith Piaf, Arthur regretted rien. "We had a Two Joe policy of opposition back then," he insisted. "We were against Stalin and against McCarthy." True, I tried to argue, but.... After all, while Stalin was one of history's worst mass murderers, he turns out to have presented no genuine military threat to the United States or even, as it turns out, Western Europe. Joe McCarthy untrammeled, on the other hand, did more damage than anyone to America's democratic institutions until George W. Bush. Arthur shrugged and ordered another martini.

Schlesinger's more recent intraleft controversy arose when he made another prescient argument about a danger on the left: this was his short 1991 book on Afrocentrism and multiculturalism, The Disuniting of America....

This almost makes me feel a certain sympathy for Schlesinger. After all the dirt that man handled, to sit and listen to a punk like Alterman moralizing about Joe McCarthy -- Barkeep! Line 'em up and keep 'em coming.

I hope Alterman at least picked up the check.

March 15, 2007

Nan in bondage

Some of us parlor sadists just love beating a downed Judas goat, and here's our Nan, bell a-tinkling, as she takes further crap loads dumped on her fine progressive figure, over the sudden Democong turn toward the Cheney line: "Iran can eat my gun muzzle."


The story line goes that two Zionophile Dem congos, Eliot Engel and Gary Ackerman, from the Bronx and Queens respectively, forced Nancy to un-"tie" the President's hands.

Forcing! Tying! This is steamy stuff, in connection with la Nan.

March 16, 2007

Le deluge, no apres about it

Just read this charming spirit's piece at tompaine.com (no relation of mine) on the pending debacle in mortgage-backed securities. After reviewing the waves of dread passing across the face of the financial waters, she asks "What about the angle involving real people who are actually going to lose their homes?"

The great lot bomb has not really exploded, so immediate swarms of houseless folks is not in the cards. It just can't happen that fast, given the specific mechanics of that market. But a great social crime was nonetheless committed here -- all foreseeable and, I suspect, in some important places, foreseen. In fact, any toadstool saw it coming, what with all that credit pumped into the house lots of America like so much helium; and sure enough, it's started to show its hideous second face, as these over-yeasted values collapse, but ever so slowly, like the world slowly drained after the 40 days and 40 nights of rain.

And like a bee's-eye multiple of that Biblical tale, many a family ark will be left teetering high and dry on a mountaintop -- in this case, a mountain of debt. Oh the wailing and gnashing of teeth this will bring. And since along the same lines as Jehovah's flood, this was a purely arbitrary willed cataclysm, perhaps the House of the people's representatives oughta start looking into its author, one Alan Greenspan, late of the Fed chair, by way of the Rand cult and a vote of confidence from Wall Street. Barney, start your Kafka penal colony machine, baby.

Hey, a guy can dream, right?

Hillary: Show some balls, girls. Vote for my war!

God bless Mother Clinton:


She makes it so easy. Like de Gaulle was the face of France, St Hill personifies the humanist empire.

[Clinton] said... that there were “remaining vital national security interests in Iraq” that would require a continuing deployment of American troops.

The United States’ security would be undermined if parts of Iraq turned into a failed state “that serves as a petri dish for insurgents and Al Qaeda,” she said. “It is right in the heart of the oil region,” she said. “It is directly in opposition to our interests, to the interests of regimes, to Israel’s interests.”

“So it will be up to me to try to figure out how to protect those national security interests and continue to take our troops out of this urban warfare, which I think is a loser,” Mrs. Clinton added. She declined to estimate the number of American troops she would keep in Iraq, saying she would draw on the advice of military officers.

My prediction: such jut-jawed plain speak is veep talk. But she'll never play Lieberman on Gore's next ticket.

Will the polls show a howl of disapproval from her base? Right now she has a gender gap on Oby -- they are close with males, but she's got 10 points on the cocoa Chihuahua among Dem gals.

This relentless iron-maiden act -- are the girls gonna go for that?

Stollerus stultissimus

Matt Stoller is a certifiable jackass-licker, but this post proves he needs to be excused, because it demonstrates he's also a certifable ignoramus as well:
If we do pull out of Iraq, and all of a sudden do have to shut that trillion dollar trade deficit, we will have to build a genuinely new economy based on different legal and economic structures. That's a huge task, and there was no mandate for that in 2006.
Now tell me, why link these two completely unrelated events: 1) pulling out of Iraq -- which, btw, this toad thinks was a fiscal move by Cheney to keep the economy out of "fiscal" crisis -- and 2) the three winters in a row scare to end all scares, namely the rest of the earth calling in our markers all at once and putting us on paygo, cash-before-delivery trade terms.

I guess it's so he can fairly claim no mandate for this package in last fall's election results.

So there's the bam right in his own kisser, like Lou Costello might have thrown, and then...

the Democratic Party is becoming an antiwar party that has been pulled out of the bipartisan imperialist consensus. But it is not there yet.
"Is becoming," but "has been" and "is not yet"... I see the poor dope knocking himself straight backwards out of his chair with that wallop.

March 19, 2007

White chicks: They're gonna write a letter

Mike Flugennock writes:
Well, here's Code Pink again, actually expecting MoveOn and the Jackasses (wow, sounds like an old punk band) to magically grow a pair of cajones and stand up to warmongers and fascists.

I love how MoveOn actually feels the need to _poll_its_membership_ to decide on something that should be a slam-dunk decision for an allegedly "progressive" organization.

Jeezus H. Christ on a Segway. My brain hurts:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Tell MoveOn and Congress to Get Real
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2007 00:35:44 -0500 (EST)
Reply-To: codepink@mail.democracyinaction.org
To: flugennock-at-sinkers.org

Call Congress:
(800) 828-0498
Attend a MoveOn
4th Anniversary Vigil

Dear Mike,

Today, Monday, March 19, marks four years of war in Iraq.... Today you have another opportunity to attend rallies, call and visit your congressperson before they vote this week on the supplemental bill that would allocate another $100 billion for war. Tell them "No More Money for War."

You also have an opportunity to pressure one of the largest on-line activist groups, MoveOn.org. MoveOn has not taken a stand against this Supplemental....

We need to tell Congress to stop the political machinations and use its Constitutional authority to end war by cutting the funds. We need to tell MoveOn to join the rest of the peace movement with the clear, principled call to Congress: Vote No on the Supplemental. Don't Buy Bush's War. This week, your leadership is crucial. Call your member of Congress at 800-828-0498....


Y'know, I'm actually glad I'm in Mexico all this month practicing to retire, and not marching in a circle with a sign or standing around in the dark with a candle or some similarly symbolic, ineffective bullshit.

If CP had any _real_ balls, they'd just be asking us to call MoveOn and the Democrats and tell them to take a long walk off a short pier.

Three stooges

Waters, Lee, and Wolsey, the cal-gal trinity -- gotta love 'em, as this LA Times article suggests.


But it's dollhouse politics, pro-forma prog-pond victories that the threesome will win here. Even if the house bill has more draconian bench marks then a swiss butcher's block, no buddy's war mule will get slaughtered on it. The bigger game is already lost, and how is just the latest episode in an old old story: the Senate bars the door.

Hell, the dem congo majority won't even force a prez veto. The dream of a qualified majority beyond partisan reach is irrelevant. Even without the house majority, the war's funding could cease -- but this was ruleed out of the question, despite the obvious fact that the out of Iraq caucus could force a showdown by not voting for the mauled remnants of the Murtha-Pelosi bill. But the progs aren't even willing to force a funding crisis.

So there'll be two bills to blend here, one to come out of each of our two chambers of legislation, but the House bill, whether candle flicker or blowtorch will be snuffed in conference. After the dust settles, Bush will have his war as long as he wants it, and the out of Iraq caucus will look like the beautiful losers they are. And the Bay Area bombers, Nan Francisco and Tom Lantos will still be the cal-gal trio's prog buddies.

All ashore that's going ashore

I read a lot of corporate news, but this story jarred my pea-pickin, two sizes too small grinch carburetor:


According to the NY Times biz-alarm, the infamous "private equity" company Blackstone may be about to make an IPO.

So what's the whoop here?

When these high rollers decide it's time to dump something on the asshole unsuspecting horde of greedy little rentier rubes and mutual sprawl funds, you can bet they're figuring something big's coming down, and it ain't going to be like an Easter parade -- err, not like any Easter parade other than the first one, anyway.

My guess is, what's out there over our horizon is a huge flock of dollar denominated Frankenstein's monsters, all products of the latest state of the art financial engineering, and these sorcerers figure the lot of 'em are likely to go absolutely berzerk sometime between 6 months and 2 years.

But how come they see it coming and we all don't... yet?

'Cause hell, they built the damn things. I bet they figure it may be too late already even for them -- but given the complexity of these things, much like earthquakes really, fuck it -- it's worth a try.

Let's declare victory before we leave

So what really did happen after the love-in was over -- after the Woodstock gig turned into crab apple time? What happened after Chicago '68? Was it all just the merit class 69ing itself forever? Were we college primed boomers and our leaders from middle dearth really as big a bust in the 70's and early 80's as today's results would lead any honest observing feller to conclude?

Well, I sure think so.

And yet the self-fellating goes on, and we even get unwarranted help from our sorry junior eagle scout late boomers and early X-ers. Case in point: this post by one Nathan Newman:


After the media hype of the Vietnam War, this country saw an explosion of institutional rejuvenation and creation the likes of which we have rarely seen.

Local and state governments were challenged and radically changed. Cities where rightwing local leaders had sicked dogs on civil rights campaigners were taken over by new black progressive leaders, who would become mayors of cities across the country.

New community organizations, from ACORN to Citizen Action groups to a range of other organizations grew and expanded throughout the 1970s, becoming the backbone of what some called the "Backyard Revolution" that changed local politics across the country in ways we often take for granted.

From barely being a blip in American consciousness, the environmental movement built a host of new institutions, from the PIRGs to the League of Conservation Voters to local environmental organizations in communities across the country.

The feminist movement similarly emerged out of the New Left and built its own set of institutions and sought leadership in a range of existing institutions-- and the new female Speaker of the House is just one testament to the success of that long march through the institutions by progressive women.

I once had a lawyer helping me negotiate a purchase and sale agreement for a commercial property. At one point in the process, he told me: "Owen, I can get ya the ears, the tail, the hooves, prolly the asshole, and maybe the dick in this deal -- but not the tenderloins." I'm afraid we boomers got the asshole -- actually, a whole crowd of assholes -- and not much else.

Second prize: A free trip to Lourdes

This probably shouldn't seem funny to me. Probably, it shows what a heartless prick I really am. But I bet some of you other heartless pricks will laugh too:


Senators worry about mental health task force

Two senators [Boxer and Liberman] have written a letter to the secretary of defense to express concern that the Defense Department’s Mental Health Task Force will not release its report in June...

The task force was created to determine how the military could best meet the mental health needs of service members, particularly those returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Boxer is the author of the law establishing the task force....

Lieberman and Boxer said service members need pre- and post-deployment mental health screenings, comprehensive mental health education, and measures to get rid of the stigma associated with those seeking mental health treatment.

They also raised concerns about the need for more mental health care workers in outlying areas of the country where veterans have had problems finding help.

“Service members cannot be forced to wait for care because of a shortage of mental health providers,” they wrote. “Tragedies have occurred because service members did not receive the care they needed.”

So let me get this straight. We send these kids off to places like Iraq and Afghanistan, to kill and die for oil, or Israel, or whatever the hell we're there for. And surprise! they come home as crazy as bedbugs.

What to do? The Lieberman/Boxer solution: More accredited experts to smooth out the rough edges of imperial blowback. Especially in "outlying areas," where the anaesthetic effects of psychotherapy and psychopharmacology as as yet insufficiently appreciated. Those poor hicks need to be brought up to date.

This piece is rife with wonderful phrases. A "mental health provider?" Get your mental health here! Reasonable terms!

No doubt the magic of the market can be relied on to drive down the price of mental health to somewhere near its cost of reproduction -- unless, of course, you're contrarian enough to think that mental health is not to be had at any price in the society we live in. If you're not crazy, you must be really crazy.

I love the idea of a "task force" to deal with craziness. I have my own ideas about what shape a "task force" might take in order to deal with the institutionalized craziness of people like Barbara Boxer and her close friend Joe Lieberman. But I can't really discuss them in public. Hint: a red-hot poker is involved.

Instrumental rationality

I'd like to note the death toll last year in our coal mines:


Coal miners die often just because corporations must exploit them to make it all worth the digging and the dying in the first place.

March 20, 2007

Bear baiting, again

Kosovo in the news again: slowly I turn.

I called my mongrel Balkan know-it-all friend, Spiros Lapchick. His read came to this :

"Everyone knows this is just the latest Security Council push by the Eu-Yank crowd, in their installment plan to squeeze out every last drop of Russian influence west of the Ukraine border."

Needless to say, the Russians are prepared to lash back with a veto if necessary.

Here's the plan as described by the NYT:


...grants Kosovo de facto nationhood -- an army, a constitution and a flag -- to be overseen by a European Union-led mission to provide protection for the province's ethnic Serbs, who are the minority.
That is: Integrate -- independently -- the troubled former Serbian heartland into 'greater EU-ville' -- a "de facto" nation-state for the Albanian majority and a "de facto shaftski" for the Serbs.

"So what," you say. "Screw 'em, the genocidal brutes. And they're down to a slim 10% of the cleansed residential population anyway -- cleansed in a clean human-face way, of course."

Well, not so fast. "De facto" is a key pivot here. Why "de facto"? Odd, isn't it? Why not just hold a plebiscite, and then after the Albanians vote for it, "recognize" their "independence", like, say, Croatia or Slovenia?

Answer: this needs to be an imposed solution. If the Albanians can vote independence in Kosovo, where next? What's to prevent these very fertile folks from overrunning Macedonia, too, and maybe all voting to create a greater Albania? So it needs to be imposed, but it also needs to be prettied up, with a slather pharisaic hypocrisy.

This collective power play by the greater Euro community and its American big buddy has its nasty side effects. Besides Russia playing the great power at bay here, as it gets stomped trying to protect its runt of a buddy, of course we also have the action/reaction of the runt itself. Fudge or no fudge, this will prove quite the demagogic firecracker up in country that's still Serb -- meaning much stormy weather ahead.

So... calming influences are needed, right? And a go-slow, step-by-step approach?

Well, not apparently from the Yank empire's viewpoint. The NYT asks none other than our all-purpose donkular proconsul and perpetual SecState bridesmaid, Dick "The Dirk" Holbrooke. He gives 'em a nice taste of Foggy Bottom thinking:

This is not simply a game of maneuver at the United Nations.... delay, dilution, or a veto of the plan will have violent consequences for which the Russians will bear responsibility.
Yikes! Dick is obviously spoiling for a showdown with the Slavic pricks. And so, fans, to what new dust-and-blood swirl-up is this great-game scrum-bully about to take us?

As my pal Spiros says: "It's not called Balkan madness for nothing."

Your gap is showing

We indeed have one real crisis brewing, as I never cease noticing here, and that's our trade gap. Among other effects, it's rapidly destroying our domestic industrial platform, and piling up foreign held debt by the hundreds of billions each year, with no end in sight given current and foreseeable future trends.

Brad Setser's is the best site I know of to follow this protracted nightmare. Here's a recent snippet:


The US current account deficit with Asia... is still rising, while the deficit with Europe and the NAFTA countries is heading down. Why? .... European currencies -- and the loonie -- have appreciated, while Asia has resisted currency appreciation....This pattern -- adjustment with Canada and Europe, but not with Asia -- was quite apparent in the monthly trade data....
Now, since balance of payments overlays trade patterns, what are they up to? Brad:
US imports from China are still growing at a 20% y/y clip. Overall US imports from the Asia-Pacific are up by around 12% -- ....the US trade deficit with Asia is still rising.

What of old Europe? US imports from Europe.... up a bit less than 3% y/y in January.... The US trade deficit with Europe is falling.

And then there is Canada.... US imports from Canada in January 2007 were about 6% below what they were in January 2006. December 2006 imports were 10% lower than December 2005 imports."

Could the divergence be clearer? Or could the solution be more obvious? So what do the prog dems have to say about this dire exporting of jobs across the Pacific?

Answer: they mostly leave it to their Wall Street owned Dem colleagues to take care of stuff in that area -- which leaves them enough time and "juice" to focus on tea and sympathy for its victims here.

March 21, 2007

Welcome to the casino

Yes, we had a bubble from Hell surge up under America's house lots, and yes it involved a veritable renaissance of sharpie Shylock practices worthy of a Lousiana carnival. But all this brouhaha over "predatory practices" is a sideshow. Take for instance this gotcha-Bushco post by my favorite inmate of the house of solidarity labor and shame, Nat Neumismatic:


... where he ends optimistically with this:

The new Congress seems more willing to grapple with the predatory lending problem, with Congressman Barney Frank from Massachusetts saying he would introduce legislation to restrict subprime lending.
Barney? That ferocious gerbil? We'll see. But even if we do -- even if Barney exposes the whole rotten Bushco scam-a-rama -- still the real story is not the fringe-y, colorful Dickensian mortgage underworld. It's the three-year main frame made by the Fed pump up of lot values, which events now unwinding will show has lowered all our boats by raising all our lot liens.

And the master Shylock here is not some latter day strip-mall tormentor of little Nell, but that inky-haired taxi dancer from Randmania, yes, I mean Alan of green stables.

Are there no workhouses?

Do you get a litte thrill, in spite of yourself, when you read something so unselfconciously horrific it gives you vertigo??

If so, allow me to recommend this, by "a political science professor at New York University":


In 2005, there were more than 7 million poor men ages 16 to 50 in the United States, and only half of them worked at all.... Poor men want to work and succeed, yet many cannot endure the slights and disappointments that work involves.... Congress is likely to raise the minimum wage, and wage subsidies for low-skilled men could also be increased. But if low wages are not the main cause of male nonwork, these steps will change little.
Can you guess where this is going? Yep, right the first time. Here's a teaser, expressed with just the right foreboding blend of bureaucratic disassociative surface sentiment and deeply buried sadism:
A better idea is to use the child support system, which requires absent fathers to support their families, and the criminal justice system, which is supposed to supervise many ex-offenders on parole after they leave prison.
Here's what this latter-day Gradgrind looks like -- surprise, surprise:

[Broken link]

What a country

How many shitty jobs don't even pay shit? The answer is here:


To me, jobbling through profit-first private-sector America can't be done for under $20 an hour, without a sense of oppression on top of the for-sure for-sure exploitation, no matter the wage. But I'm prissy that way. According to the aforementioned mobility agenda at CEPR, a bum wage is anything paying less than about $11 per hour*, and their total on these deeply sunk wage smurf type jobs is 40 million, or about 1 in 3. Hey, 1 in 4 pay downright poverty wages**!

So what's this mobility mob's notion of a well-compensated job? One paying over $16 per hour (about four bits shy of the median) and in addition, has a serious company contribution to a health insurance plan, and at least some sort of defined contribution pension plan.

About 1 in 4 of us jobblers are holding down one of those beauties.

Ahh ain't this our America somethin'? Gotta love the place -- errr, if you can't afford to leave it.

*$11.11 per hour or less, less than 2/3 of the median male wage rate of $16.65.

**$9.83 per hour.

Get along, little pwoggies

From The Hill:
It’s tough to get 218 votes, so Speaker gets tough, too

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is holding the implied threat of lost committee seats over the heads of Democratic Caucus members who may vote against her $124 billion Iraq war supplemental bill.... The Speaker pointedly reminded Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), a leading opponent of the bill, that she had appointed her to the Appropriations Committee, three Democratic lawmakers said.

During a meeting last week with appropriators, Pelosi reminded them that serving on the panel was a privilege, admonishing lawmakers from safe districts who feel they have the luxury to vote how they want without consequences — as opposed to Democrats elected in swing districts who do not....

Pelosi also has met with members of the Progressive Caucus several times in the past two weeks. A lawmaker said the tension between Pelosi and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), a chief deputy whip and a founder of the Out of Iraq Caucus, was noticeable. The two Californians sat at opposite ends of a long table in Pelosi’s office as Waters, her arms crossed, listened to Pelosi make her case for the bill.....

“Do I have 218 people that I know are definite ‘yeses’ right this minute? The answer to that is no. … Do I think we will have 218 votes on this bill when we call it up for a vote? The answer to that is yes,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters yesterday. “[Do] I think we will need to delay it? I hope the answer to that is no and believe it is no.”

Steny is almost certainly right, for once. The pwoggies will fall into line. It's funny how asymmetrically organizational discipline works in the Democratic Party: aisle-crossers to the right like Lieberman never seem to be punished, but Lee and Waters, it appears, will get the hammer if they stray from the party line -- which is, of course, more war and more wars, in saecula saeculorum.

March 22, 2007

Useful idiots

From The Hill:
House Democratic leaders pressed undecided lawmakers yesterday to support the Iraq war supplemental spending bill....

The leadership’s vote round-up was given a boost this week by MoveOn.org’s decision to back the bill, which gave liberal lawmakers cover, and by the support of former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.), who wrote in a letter to members of Congress, “This resolution provides a light at the end of the tunnel. It is not perfect, but it moves our national debate forward.”

A textbook case.

March 23, 2007

Profiles in cowardice

From the Comment Seems Superfluous department:

Liberals Relent on Iraq War Funding

Liberal opposition to a $124 billion war spending bill broke last night, when leaders of the antiwar Out of Iraq Caucus pledged to Democratic leaders that they will not block the measure....

House liberals have been the main obstacle to leadership efforts to put a timeline on the withdrawal of U.S. forces. They have complained that the proposal would not bring troops home fast enough. Their opposition has riven the antiwar movement, split the Democratic base and been the main stumbling block to the legislation....

As debate began on the bill yesterday, members of the antiwar caucus and party leaders held a backroom meeting in which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made a final plea to the group, asking it to deliver at least four votes when the roll is called. The members promised 10.

"I find myself in the excruciating position of being asked to choose between voting for funding for the war or establishing timelines to end it," said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). "I have struggled with this decision, but I finally decided that, while I cannot betray my conscience, I cannot stand in the way of passing a measure that puts a concrete end date on this unnecessary war."

.... Shortly after, Out of Iraq Caucus leaders decided to break the pact that members had made to stick together against the bill. "We have released people who have been pained by all this," said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.). "We told them we don't want them to be in a position of undermining Nancy's speakership."

What was that line from the Vietnam period -- we had to destroy the village to save it? The pwoggies had to prolong the war to end it.

Oh, I'm so glad we have a Democratic majority in the House. It's made such a difference, hasn't it?

Garlic! Quick, more garlic!

Yikes! Lantos alert, from the Interpole Express:

"This administration has done nothing to punish Iran," said Representative Tom Lantos, a California Democrat who is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "The method I don't favor on Iran is to bomb their nuclear facilities. The method I favor is to starve them of resources, which can only be done through sanctions."

Leesten to zem, ze children of ze night! What music zey make....

No laughing matter

The GWOT hoax has a Brit chapter a good deal deeper than the recent Boston guerilla theatre. Seems to me horribly clear, however, this one, unlike Boston, is unfolding with a rush toward a furious final judgement.

The Wash Post reports:


A man accused of conspiring to bomb London's public transport system in July 2005 told a court Monday that he deliberately made fake devices that were not meant to explode but would spread fear and panic as a protest against the invasion of Iraq.... Muktar Said Ibrahim, 29, said he learned how to make the devices on the Internet, downloading a Web video on which an Arabic-speaking man in a ski mask described how to make explosives from hydrogen peroxide, an easily obtained household chemical...."When I saw how easy it is to make the stuff, the idea came to my head that I could use it to make fake explosives," Ibrahim told jurors at London's Woolwich Crown Court.

I believe him, and he's a hero to me. Recall, this event took place just after the fatal underground bomb attack, and it surely proved the system could not foil bombers, even when on high alert Ibrahim and his group all face a sentence of life in prison if convicted.
Ibrahim, who was born in Eritrea and moved to Britain at age 13, said he was angry about the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and had attended antiwar demonstrations. Finding these had little effect, he said, he decided to take "positive action."
In a related dragnet, Brit cops arrested three more suspects in the "real thing" bombing. Apparently, the authorities are in search of higher-ups, and links to foreign terror rings, that so far have eluded their investigators. Can't get a handle on 'em, eh chaps?

Terrorizing the state security forces, by showing up their holes, is a dangerous game. I recall just a day or two after the bomb attack one Brazilian-born "underground commuter" received about 5 slugs (iirc) while lying on the floor of his ride to work, because he was "acting funny."

March 26, 2007

Who cares about this runt?

The chewing of Speedy Gonzo has all the earmarks of a staged congo vs. White House grapple. Bush has had a final sacrifice in mind from day one on this. Speedy will go, but not until both teams squeeze all the pips out of it.

Job one for both sides: make it look like a balance-of-power, divided-gubmint set-to, a hard-nosed and hard-fought steel cage match won by the baby-face Dems.

The goal, of course, is to provide the Quislings of big-ear city the proper duck and cover. Surely it will smooth the donk public swallowing of Bushco's war funding, if the Congo leadership can hold up the severed head of a full-bore Secretary of Torture.

March 27, 2007

First the bad news, then... more bad news

The Progdems of Am's Tim Carpenter has a cheery/bleak post mortem on the donk house bill extending the now jointly owned Iraq occupation:


Tim is of several minds on this:

The bad news is that the House bill funds Bush's troop surge and won't bring our troops home until a Sept 1, 2008 'deadline' with provisions allowing troops to stay in Iraq beyond that on vaguely-defined 'training' or 'anti-terrorism' missions....

More bad news is the disunity stirred up among antiwar progressives in Congress by the House leadership's arm-twisting and the intervention of MoveOn.org in support of the leadership's arm-twisting....

But on the other hand....
... [T]here is great news! While many antiwar Congress members shared with us their bruises and frustrations over Friday's vote, they remain more committed than ever to get a debate on fully-funded unconditional troop withdrawal from Iraq within a year.... The House supplemental has a porous 18-month deadline; Out-of-Iraqers will work toward a tighter, firmer deadline....
Great news? You gotta love this jabberwock -- the eternal quest for a tighter, firmer, more satisfying "time line".

But there are masterpieces in this field from time to time. Note this hard-biting ewe:

fully-funded unconditional troop withdrawal....
I nominate that one for direct induction into the rough tough cream puff Hall of Fame.

Stop traffic

Demokratia ... has always been a word denoting conflict, a factional term, coined by the higher classes to denote the “excessive power” (kratos) exercised by the non-property-owning classes (demos).
--Luciano Canfora
Democracy is not an institution, it's a state of affairs. It can't be implemented by law. It is intrinsically the enemy of privilege and wealth – and by the same token, privilege and wealth are intrinsically its enemies. The existence of democracy, in a world where privilege and wealth exist at all, depends upon conflict. In such a world, wherever there is peace – social peace, at any rate -- there will be no justice, and certainly no democracy. The orderly operation of legal institutions, in such a world, works noctes atque dies to one end: to make the privileged and wealthy more so, and, by ineluctable implication, to suppress democracy.

An essential entailment of any degree of democracy, in a world like ours, is fear – fear on the part of the elites that the natives may be getting restless. Peaceful, legal protest, and especially participation in the electoral charade, have the opposite effect. They reassure the elites that the natives are not at all restless – that the natives accept their impotence and, so to speak, prefer watching pornography to engaging in real sex. The pornography I mean is, of course, the contrived theater of “politics” as that term is ordinarily understood. And what would be the political equivalent of real sex?

Real politics doesn't necessarily imply hanging “investment bankers” from lampposts – though that would be fun as well as salutary. It is not, however, essential, at the moment, and perhaps not ever. The elites know they are greatly outnumbered by the rest of us, and they are fundamentally frightened of us. All you have to do is stop traffic.

Stopping traffic is, in fact, the minimum precondition for real politics, and thus of real democracy, just as the touch of skin on skin is the minimum precondition of real sex.

Interestingly, it has never been easier to stop traffic. Those Merry Pranksters in Boston a few weeks ago did it with a handful of blinking LEDs. Self-imposed “War on Terror” hysteria and police frenzy have made the armorbound, overgunned Talus of the enforcement state frightened of its own shadow – or, more accurately, of any point of light, no matter how transient and faint, that isn't its shadow. Anything Caliban sees in the mirror that isn't Caliban will have Caliban on the floor, chewing the carpet.

Buy a cheap knapsack or duffle bag every week. Stuff it with rags or old underwear and leave it in a subway station, or an airport, or just on a sidewalk. Tune in to the evening news and watch the fun.

They hate crowds. Go to Gawker Stalker and report Britney Spears running bare-tit down the street in front of the Israeli Consulate. Be sure to provide the address.

Carry a small can of black spray paint and use it on the lens of every surveillance camera you see. I know, it won't stop traffic, but it'll drive 'em crazy.

Drive really, really slow. In fact, get a couple of co-conspirators to drive really, really slow alongside you. When news radio reports a mysterious slowdown on the Whatever Expressway, take credit in the name of the Asphalt Liberation Front.

Create a dozen or so bogus accounts on some Web site that annoys you – may I suggest Daily Kos? -- and keep the troll-hunters wakeful and strung out. It doesn't stop physical traffic, but it stops, or at least impedes, the ideological traffic in exploded notions.

Don't allow your kids to do homework.

The main thing, though, is to stop being constructive. Don't waste a moment thinking about what “policies” might be better than the ones we have. The fact is that the institutions we have absolutely guarantee insane policies, and unless the balance of power between the elites and the rest of us is changed, then those institutions will continue to manufacture insanity day in and day out.

And there is, needless to say, no institutional way to change the balance of power. The institutions exist to maintain the balance of power – or, more accurately, to tip the balance of power ever more toward the elites. Changing the balance of power requires interfering with the institutions, and impairing or impeding their operation.

In short: stop traffic.

March 28, 2007

Pimps. shrimps, and blimps

Saw this at a site not worth mentioning, in comments:
You start from the presumption that the wealthy are the enemy, but the dividing lines aren't that clear. In the last election, Democrats won the majority of voters in the $100,000-$150,000 tax bracket and they won over 60 percent of those making from $150,000-$200,000.
What this reveals is wonderful. The writer presumes -- and I suspect she/he is not alone -- that the usual Dem base voters are lower-income folks. The donk party is the party of the poverty pimps and union piecards.

In fact, merit class success stories with 150k-plus incomes are really the base of the Kerry/St Hill/Obama descendant of King Andy's party.

From the trial lawyers to the MD specialists to the higher-ed profs, the New Dem-ers are pimping for them, Not for the folks in the projects. Pimping for them, to the extent that anyone bothers, is for Jesse and Reverend Al, the party's rainbow caboose.

Hit us with your best shot

According to the Washpost:


... the Repug senate minority may not block the house war funding bill; they may just let the White House veto it. It's as if the Repugs decided to stuff the donks: "So you're afraid of a crisis. Well then -- we'll just have to give you... a crisis!"

As they both watch the poll numbers unwind on this debacle, I think there'll be plenty of disgust to go around. Point: bipartisan popular revulsion is harmless -- maybe even just what this moment calls for. The take-away image: the Repugs just called the donks' leadership "yellow", and they figure it will stick. No matter which way the Dem congos turn next, they've shown the Repugs that they fear the people's fickleness.

Beinart raises a laugh

I don't usually think of Peter Beinart as an entertaining writer, but I got a chuckle out of this:

Since the Democrats won control of Congress last fall, they've been besieged with warnings against acting too aggressively on Iraq. Such "moves carry clear risks for a party that suffered politically for pushing to end an unpopular war in Vietnam," suggested the Washington Post.... [A] G.O.P. staff member crowed that "the public won't go for it." Haven't the Democrats learned anything from Vietnam?

Actually, they have. Despite today's conventional wisdom, Democrats didn't suffer in the 1970s for opposing Vietnam. And they're even less likely to pay a political price for trying to end the war in Iraq.

For once I agree with Peter. They're not likely to pay a political price for trying to end the war -- because, among other reasons, they're not trying to end it.

The hype-o-meter hits the red zone

I should read the Huffington Post more often. There's nothing more delightful than movie folk getting all world-historical. Here's Mia Farrow (remember her)?

"One World, One Dream" is China's slogan for its 2008 Olympics. But there is one nightmare that China shouldn't be allowed to sweep under the rug. That nightmare is Darfur....

[E]qually disappointing is the decision of artists like director Steven Spielberg -- who quietly visited China this month as he prepares to help stage the Olympic ceremonies -- to sanitize Beijing's image. Is Mr. Spielberg, who in 1994 founded the Shoah Foundation to record the testimony of survivors of the holocaust, aware that China is bankrolling Darfur's genocide?

... Corporate sponsors like Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, General Electric and McDonalds, and key collaborators like Mr. Spielberg, should be put on notice.... Does Mr. Spielberg really want to go down in history as the Leni Riefenstahl of the Beijing Games?

Whoa! "Collaborator?" "Leni Riefenstahl?" I guess the Fur are the new Jews -- because Khartoum is the new Baghdad? Or is that Tehran?

So many targets, so little time.

High concept

Silicon Valley Not So Sure of This Clinton
Concerned About Senator's Leanings, Some of Her Husband's Supporters Defect to Obama

SUNNYVALE, Calif. -- For a woman striving to shatter the ultimate glass ceiling, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is getting a surprising rap among some here in Silicon Valley: "old-guard." This is Clinton-Gore country -- or it was once. Now, several of former President Bill Clinton's earliest and biggest fund-raisers -- such as Sandy Robertson, founder of investment bank Robertson Stephens and a partner at technology buyout firm Francisco Partners; and Steve Westly, an ex-eBay Inc. executive and former controller for California -- have defected to Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. Others, including venture-capitalist John Doerr and Apple Inc. boss Steve Jobs, are staying conspicuously neutral, possibly waiting to see if their friend Al Gore enters the race.

"Barack Obama may just be the man of our times," says Mr. Robertson, one of President Clinton's largest fund-raisers throughout the 1990s.... Up the highway in San Francisco, Sen. Clinton enjoys backing from traditional Democratic donors like real-estate magnate Walter Shorenstein and Susie Tompkins Buell, co-founder of clothing retailer Esprit de Corp.

But here and in places like Hollywood and Wall Street, Sen. Clinton appears to be having problems matching Sen. Obama's success at connecting with newly wealthy younger people -- a potential pitfall for her as the candidates enter the final week of fund-raising for the first quarter.

Some of Silicon Valley's business-minded Democrats, citing health-care proposals Sen. Clinton made while first lady, worry she is too ideological and would govern from the left.

Jeez, that's a good one, isn't it?
"Silicon Valley invests in high-powered intellects who are effective at bringing big new ideas to market," says Frederick Baron, a lawyer and Obama fund-raiser who spent two years in the Clinton Justice Department. "In the lexicon of high tech, Barack Obama is the next-generation solution."

Sen. Obama is particularly popular among techies under age 35, a largely untapped market for political cash. Organizers say about a quarter of the 700 guests at a recent $1,000-a-plate fund-raiser for the 45-year-old senator were under 35. "It's exciting to see a candidate younger than our parents," says 23-year-old Joe Green, an Internet entrepreneur who brought 10 friends to the event

These California guys are surprisingly easy to excite. They need to get out more.

But of course the guys, being guys, are hopeless by definition. Giddy, metrosexual flibbertygibbets, every man Jack of 'em. The girls are a lot more solid. The bourgeois virtues have been, it seems, re-gendered:

[Hillary] is building her own Silicon Valley network, led by the growing ranks of women executives at technology companies, supporters say. "Hillary's been in or near public service for 20 or 30 years; that kind of experience is important for running a country," says Sheryl Sandberg, a senior Google Inc. executive and Clinton campaign fund-raiser, who was chief of staff for former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers.
That must be a hell of a girl. She worked for Larrry "chicks-don't-get-science" Summers? My hat's off to her, and not just because I'm a Southern gentleman.
Many Silicon Valley Democrats say they had hoped former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner would enter the race. A Southern moderate, he earned his fortune investing in cellular phone companies. But when he and another favored centrist, Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, decided not to run -- and Sen. Obama went for it -- "the real movers in political fund raising suddenly rallied to Obama," says Mr. Baron, the Silicon Valley lawyer and a veteran political bundler.

... Sen. Obama's supporters acknowledge their candidate is largely untested on policy matters, and there is no certainty that he would be more conservative than Sen. Clinton on health care, tort reform or fiscal policy. It is his persona, they say, that is generating excitement.

"No one's calling me about Barack's stands on business or tech issues," says John Roos, the Obama point man in Silicon Valley and chief executive of the law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati....

Sen. Clinton's supporters say the attraction is sure to wear thin. They also say the former first lady has gotten a bum rap as an old-guard liberal. "She was far less of a policy person than people think," says David Barram, a former chief financial officer of Apple and senior Clinton administration official.

I think Brother Paine may be on to something. Hillary. She's just so... played. To borrow an expression as dated as Hillary herself.

March 29, 2007

Cockburn invictus

Whats the word of a parlor radical worth? When exposing parlor warriors, it can be just about priceless -- vide Alex C on the tin drummers of Baghdad


It's really quite a fine roundup and pranging session. The notables include not just that "platoon of neocons, as potent in historical influence as were supposedly the Knights Templar," but the NYT's very wonderful Judith Miller and Chinese Gordon and Flat Iron Friedman, the New Yorker's pecksniff, Ruby Goldbug, that drunken scag cat Hitchens, "mini-pundits" Todd Gitlin and Michael Berube, and other delightful enabling jugglers and knaves.

And the narrative interweave? A specimen:

...not long after the March, 2003 attack [on Iraq], "Thumpingly blind to the war's virtues" was the head on a Paul Berman op-ed piece in February, 2004. Christopher Hitchens lurched regularly onto Hardball to hurl abuse at critics of the war.
(I wish my prose lurched and thumped so gracefully.)
Sometimes I dream of them, -- Friedman, Hitchens, Berman -- like characters in a Beckett play, buried up to their necks in a rubbish dump on the edge of Baghdad, reciting their columns to each other as the local women turn over the corpses to see if one of them is her husband or her son.
Alex, you're too often aces.

Much of a muchness

It's all one big brawling happy family over at the nation's leading social chump-change conglomerate, Progressive Democracy, Inc.


Witness this, in an E-letter I got from 'em:

While PDA and the leadership of MoveOn.org took different approaches on the Iraq funding bill, we know from years of joint work that MoveOn activists are as committed to ending the Iraq occupation as we are. Together, we can move the Democratic presidential candidates on Iraq, and on preventing an attack on Iran.
"Different approaches... as committed ... as we are" -- I guess that's a fair enough statement, all things considered.

The good, the bad, the ugly, and the Democrats

It's getting to look mighty wonderful, as the commander in chief calls out the jackasses in front of a lobby/rally of ox-tough cattlemen.

What's up here? A stand off -- okay, not exactly toe to toe, but a face off nonetheless -- Bush and Cheney at one end of Penn Ave, Nan and Harry at the other, Congo agin White House: cue the Ennio Morricone.

Maybe the Washpost gets to it: it's a replay of the famous Clinton vs Newt chicken run of '95.


Although Democratic leaders ...To prepare... are studying the events of 1995 and 1996, when President Bill Clinton vetoed appropriations bills and then successfully blamed Congress for shutting down the government.... Inside the White House, Bush strategists hope that the Democrats will overplay their hand, as the Republicans themselves did a decade ago.
It don't get any better than this, folks -- pure cornball horse-feathering.

March 30, 2007

Looking on the bright side

The Nation needs a bitch slap. Here -- hot off the press -- is an editorial on the glory of our long-eared, benchmark-lovin', all too loyal opposition:
The nation has arrived at an important political moment, a turning point in Congressional efforts to confront the President on his failed war.
For unmitigated wind -sackery nothing could top this.
These actions did not come about simply because members of Congress suddenly saw the folly of Bush's war. Rather, they occurred because politicians listened to their constituents: the antiwar activists once dismissed as unpatriotic or worse, the parents whose sons and daughters are being forced to return to Iraq for second and third tours of duty, the ordinary citizens who no longer believe the lies of the Administration about why we invaded Iraq or why we need to stay.
Now that's some ten league boot prose there, pard. But the best is yet to come -- a passage that should live in infamy:
To be sure, the votes were not easy ones, given the bills' uncertain benchmarks and the fact that their main focus was on providing yet more money for the Administration's war effort. Some antiwar members in the House simply could not bring themselves to join the razor-thin 218-212 majority. We respect those, like Congressman John Lewis, who told the House, "I will not and cannot vote for another dollar or another dime to support this war." But we also understand the sentiments of those like Representative Maurice Hinchey, who voted in favor. Had the House not passed the bill, Hinchey said, "Congress would have essentially been forced to hand the President a massive check to continue the occupation of Iraq with no benchmarks for success and no timeline for withdrawal."

My vitriol, concentrated though it may be, is inadequate to the task. I can but hang my shaggy head in shame and despair, and under my breath, mutter unseemly oaths.

About March 2007

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

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