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April 2007 Archives

April 2, 2007

The New Frontier is old again

Been thinking lately about the Kennedy Camelot -- because its avatar is even as I write this marching relentlessly and effortlessly toward the White House in the person of Barracado Obama.

To think this careful gray flannel man is the incarnation of the one fear the late J Edgar Hoover never wrestled to the ground. Why, he'd laugh like a hyena if he could see the way it turned out, after all those sleepless hours of dread: the real thing is just like a black Jack Kennedy, instead of whatever the unholy hell our nation's ugliest-ever transvestite conjured in those tiniest hours of the night.

Somebody wrote a piece a few days back on Barack as "magic Negro" -- google the phrase if the concept isn't already over-familiar. JFK, of course, was a magic Catholic. Maybe its time to review the vision of that earlier messiah, and in particular, examine just what his new frontier was all about -- since it looks like history is about to attempt one of its rhymes.

Let's make it brief -- Walter Winchell brief:

After the '60 election was stolen from Richard Milhous Nixon by the mob in Chicago, and cactus hacks along the tex-mex border, JFK moved into the White House along with Walter Reuther, Frank Sinatra and Robert Frost. Besides these notables, he also brought with him -- to help him perform the biggest and toughest job on earth -- as many new and terribly bright heads as his minions could collect from Ivy League campuses and Manhattan think shops.

But to what end?

One thing was clear from the get-go: anything new -- I mean really new -- might be dangerous, and wouldcertainly cost money needed for missiles and carriers and the like. So better recycle some spiffed-up old hats. Reblock 'em, stick in an exotic feather or two. In a word it was all to be cosmetics on the domestic front.

The concept, like the candidate, was straight from Madison Ave -- "do nothing new but do it with plenty of style, or, to be more precise do it with plenty of vig-ah!" Look full of bustle, but run strictly in place. Retain the old party platitudes that had kept this nation in a trance since Yalta, but teach 'em to do the peppermint twist. Bring in as many new bright heads as you can find, so long as they don't mouth a single original idea in public.

Of course mistakes were made. New ideas leaked out. In retrospect it seems that what with all that brighness running in place, it was inevitable something was bound to break a few old eggs. Unfortunately Kennedy got shot before he could put a stop to them.

And then... a miracle rode in, on the back of an old giant plug called LBJ, and the rest is signing ceremonies. The future was out of the box, and we've lived with it and through it ever since.

April 5, 2007

Man with a mission

Why is this man so wild to shame China over Darfur? Who's backing him?

One wiki click threw this up: he gets grant money from Ebay founder, billionaire and "Franco-Iranian" wizard Pierre Omidyar's eponymous Omidyar Network.

Seems our man has been beating this Darfur/Sudan drum for the biblical 7 years required to be a certifiable monofocal prophet -- but why this cause? Why this when his own government is deep in the short stroke phase of fucking Iraq? Why does the world humanitarian community need a self-righteous new england lit prof's quixotic knight errantry? Are there not Scandinavians enough to get the word out on this?

I don't know or care whether he's just another useful idiot --- I doubt it --- or a sly Ivy-chafed geef out for some spotlight self-aggrandizement, and smart enough to know what humane causes pay well. What he's actually doing either way is aiding and abetting the Yankee Doodle imperial project -- that and precious little else. This whole people-who-love-people, groupies-for-humanity grapple is about China's countering Uncle's containment policies across the southern half of the planet -- in this case specifically, oil-rich, well-located Sudan: the Iraq of the Horn!

April 6, 2007

A simple matter of programming

Technocracy -- now that's a vintage meme: turn the helm over to some engineers and let 'em give us a technical fix, maybe even a green one.

Enter Barry Lynn, a "senior fellow" at the sinister New America Foundation:


... with a cry for sanity. Our fast-globalizing system is becoming ever more "fragile", more vulnerable to devastating blows, if a few key supply links get snipped.

The industrialist grasps the idea of fragility immediately, and often offers up fresh tales of production shutdowns and close calls. Indeed, industrial fragility has quietly emerged as perhaps the single biggest operational concern of business today, reflected in a boom in programs to study supply chain risk at places like MIT’s Sloan School of Management and Penn’s Wharton School.

The economist, by contrast, just as swiftly rejects the idea of such fragility outright. Why? Because no industrialist, the economist will declare, would ever take such a risk. Industrialists who say that market pressures force them to take too much risk are simply seeking protection. They are selfish, or lazy.

Sooo... we need a team of logistical wizards to do a flow diagram, showing all the weak channels, bottlenecks, and power points, so this emerging train-wreck scenario don't become tomorrow's dead certainty.

Wow. Post-partisan expert action -- that's the ticket. Let the merit class steer us between the Scylla and Charybdis of the plunder class and the Great Uneducated.

Folks, if the two main economic classes are about to collide -- and they may well be -- then we all oughta be ready for more of this Walter Mitty imagineering.

Politics-free snake oil sounds mighty tempting when you're "the man in the middle."

Another Bobby bites the dust

Few faces at the shoulder of our leading donk statesmen cause me more instant ire than bond king Robert 'bobtail' Rubin (shown above with a pet pitbull). Why, the bastard effectively ran dumbocrat macro policy and budget policy singlehandely for the full 8 years of Clinton's magic kingdom -- ran it and ran it his way, and by running it his way, kept the nation's jobbled masses' nose firmly on the grindstone, and our industrial platform crumbling like newlyweds' first piecrust.

Throughout it all he conducted himself with a gusto and a sweatless elan worthy of that other hard-nosed runt named Bobby -- you know the supercilious half-pint with a heart of cold cream, the one that was about to save America from Amerika, till he got himself assassinated by a very early one-man anti-Zionist commando unit named Sirhan Sirhan for offering Tel Aviv all the jets they could eat....

But I stray, don't I? Back to the as yet unassassinated Bobby. Unassassinated, but nevertheless over. His ticket is punched. Not only is the guy in trouble, he's the mother Clinton of party political economics.

Don't believe me? Then read between the lines of this "think it all the way through" piece by my mentor, Robert Pendragon Kuttner:


A blind spot in the usual story of the Democratic party's capture by "interest groups" is the failure to notice Wall Street as an interest group. In the usual media account, the obstacles to the party's modernization are such groups as abortion-rights advocates, blacks, gays, and unions. Candidates can score points with pundits for showing independence by taking on, say, the unions on school vouchers, or African Americans over inflammatory rhetoric (Sister Souljah), or civil libertarians over the death penalty (then-Governor Clinton's refusal to spare Ricky Ray Rector).

Such actions are said to show political courage by resisting "politically correct" politics and entrenched interest groups. But taking on the most powerful Democratic Party interest group of them all -- Wall Street -- is viewed as a sign of recklessness, unsoundness, demagoguery, and political suicide. A mark of Wall Street's ubiquitous power in defining the limits of the politically thinkable is that its power is hardly noticed. The personification of this power is Robert Rubin.

A portrait that odious can only come out after the corpse is so rotten it's starting to smell like a flower bed.

The not quite late Louis Farrakhan

The head on this op-ed from the Boston blob caught my eye: "After Farrakhan":


Farrakhan is a man I have a deep respect for, so I read it and got provoked:

...To some, Farrakhan's importance is far from self-evident, and his legacy is quite simple: anti-Semitism and bigotry....
Ya ya ya, sure sure, we all remember the MSM lashing the Rev to the leg of Jesse Jackson, and demanding Jesse repudiate him, but the Globus goes on to note:
...Farrakhan more than any other well-known leader has been more willing to engage the issues of poverty and violent crime ... What are we to do with millions of young black men in poor, violent, hyper-segregated neighborhoods in all of our major cities?
Oddly, or maybe not so oddly, the Globenik fails to mention the current solution: put 'em in prison. But he's trying to be a calmer and a peacemaker here, so he gives us... background:
Urbanization created countless numbers of apathetic, despairing lower-class black men, who were essentially incarcerated in ghettos... To these men, who had exchanged the pogroms and apartheid of the South for the hypocrisy and discrimination of the North, the black nationalist critique of liberal integrationism had an indisputable logic.
Urbanization? An abstract noun did this terrible thing? Who knew that was even possible? Our man might have said that those "apathetic, despairing" men moved north and into 'hoods that promptly shed job opportunities like a mangy dog sheds hair -- but let's move on.
In this historical context the Muslims performed a necessary political function.
Now that's about as blandly-stated a version of the synergies of radical threat and moderate reform as you are likely to read in a big-city paper -- better than you'll see in that pretentious but shallow rag a few hours down I-95. But even so, it's just posing a Machiavel myth:
They served as a counterpoint to the established civil rights leadership.
Counterpoint? Guy doesn't know what the word means, but even so -- who saw them as a "counterpoint" at the time?
The uncompromising voices deconstructing the glamorous hypocrisies of American society served to strengthen the hand of the more moderate leaders....
Threat begat reform. That's true enough -- in fact it's the only way you get reform. But it didn't happen because the black community played Mutt and Jeff with Whitey's state. Imagine telling a Mr X, Hey thanks, my brother, you be servin' an invaluable function!

Mr X: Say what, asshole?

You iz "by forcing political reforms, averting a much worse conflagration...."

Mr X: You mean to tell me "the riots of the 1960s" were just good tactics in a reform? You can fuck that, man!

Oh, but there's more:

...as public policy for the black poor integration has largely been a failure.
But it did work for the talented tenth, the black boozhoizee. Our Globe man observes,
The nationalists underestimated how much the black middle class would be integrated into the professional and managerial class of the wider society.
Translation: they underestimated just how much leverage the uprisings of the 60's gave the "more moderate leaders."

So now, having set the scene by showing how the lower-order black urban uprisings of the 60's led to absolutely zippo for that same lower order, our man turns to his to-do list for any "centrist, pragmatic black nationalism" focused "on problem solving."

To what ends will these pragmatical centrists push?

Reducing violent crime, the black-white achievement gap in education, the failure of black fathers... family stabilization....
Get Louis X on the phone -- he'll find this delightful. Fruits of Islam indeed.
We need a new black church-based movement that promotes community-based public policies designed by black nationalists for the black poor.
Church-based but designed by black nationalists? Martin Luther Malcolm Marcus King the 23d!

The author: The Rev. Eugene F. Rivers III, pastor of Azusa Christian Community.

Amidst his call to go back to the community knitting needles, the dear reverend quotes the "distinguished Harvard historian" Oscar Hanlin:
As long as common memories, experience, and interests make the Negroes a group, they will find it advantageous to organize and act as such, and the society will better be able to accommodate them as equals on those terms than it could under the pretense that integration could wipe out the past.
Amen my white brother, amen -- or whatever Muslims say instead of Amen. Insha' Allah, perhaps?

April 7, 2007

Soros sandbagged?

My old pal Lenni Brenner has an interesting take on the Soros/AIPAC/Obama flap:


[Soros] long ago left Judaism behind, but he kept quiet about this because he "did not want to provide fodder to the enemies of Israel." But now [he thinks] it's time for the American Jewish community "to rein in the organization that claims to represent it."....

Many Americans also want Israel to deal with Hamas, concerned for horrific Palestinian living conditions, without sharing the billionaire's naive imperial mentality. But nuking AIPAC was too much for Obama. His campaign immediately announced that

* "Mr. Soros is entitled to his opinions. But on this issue, he and Senator Obama disagree...."

Soros is modern proof of Sancho Panza's proverb. He told Don Quixote that "in this world, the follies of the rich pass for wise sayings."... Soros gave the Democrats $28 million in 2004, knowing his party to be demagogues pandering after Zionist cash, vainly hoping that they would beat Bush. The 3/21 Sun, New York's Zionist daily, was 'right on the money' when it explained Obama's problem.....

"The Soros article puts Democrats in the awkward position of choosing between Mr. Soros, a major funder of their causes, and the pro-Israel lobby, whose members are also active in campaign fund-raising."

Soros cash would buy Obama media ads in Democratic primaries. But taking it means AIPAC billionaires buying ads for Clinton. On the other hand, denouncing Soros doesn't mean him running ads against Obama. And, if he gets nominated, he can reasonably expect Soros to fund him against the Republican. Soros's guileless reformism has ended him up with less, not more, influence in inner circles of his lesser evil.

The Global War On Timber

Will these feverish greedy Han antmen stop at nothing? First it was prison labor, then organ parts -- now, it's clear cutting mother Earth's virgin forests.

Not satisfied with violating humans' rights, now they're busy violating trees' rights, according to the non-alarmist reporters for the daily Washpost, from Siberia to Burma and beyond:

Some of the largest swaths of natural forest left on the planet are being dismantled at an alarming pace to feed a global wood-processing industry centered in coastal China"


Argggh! My druid heart rages! Where's me wee kilty and me pipes? I'll have no more of this! Join me -- in a punitive expedition to Peking!

Keep the bubble bubblin'

If you broke it, you own it; and if you made it go crazy, it's your duty to contain the bloodshed and misery.

No, I don't mean Iraq, I mean the home lot bubble.

Right now besides a lot of geefs that took a fraudulent flyer on a home too high, there is a vertible armada of mini-landlords sitting on spec property that can't earn its nut in the rental market. We'd be fools to clobber this credit sector and drown these folks in their own debt. Sure the Mr Potters of the nation would like that, but we shouldn't.

My point: watch the rube get tossed out with the dead leaves from the great American lending tree. Reading the blog sites, one finds dozens of Samsons straining to pull the temple down on themselves, just to punish the petty greed and noodle heads out there.

I say bail fast as you can -- pump in emergency soft loans -- save our lot price structure.

Sure it should never happen again but to prevent that, you gotta go after the instigators patrons and facilitators, starting with the Facilitator in Chief, the Pinochet of Shylockery.

Ceterum censeo Alanum esse delendum, as Father Smiff would say.

Forex fiddles (while Detroit burns)

Since the White House can't get a shootin' war going with Iran -- why not a trade war with China?

I write this after reading of the long-anticipated tariff slap the Bushco circus put on paper imports from the People's Republic recently -- and while announcing it, not dispelling notions of more such moves to come.

Important development? Not especially, but here's an inner story that might be, as told to us by the Gray Lady:


Some lawmakers... complain bitterly that China unfairly ties its currency to the dollar which aggravates the trade imbalance....

Yup -- and it's far more than just "aggravate" -- but:
American officials say there is no thought being given to citing currency policies as a form of subsidy....
Not gonna call 'em on it? Even after gentle Ben already did? "Why for heaven's sake not?" -- as the late Jack Benny might have said.

For one thing, because the numb-nutz over at the DOC (donkey occupied Congress) for various and quite sundry reasons aren't pushing this "key" to the crisis. Start with Sander Levin of Michigan, chairman of the trade subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee: Hey Sandy, you stilted little fuckwit, where's the forex fiddle fit into your plans for saving the domestic auto industry?

Now let me tell you, forcing a revaluation on China would indeed be "world historical" and in the full Hegelian sense. Who knows -- might even begin a process that could turn around our 33-year industrial nosedive.

But don't hold your breath.

Corn pone

The Nation's David Corn is niblet-brained -- we all know that, or at least don't need to be told that. But this morning I read a piece by him:


about the cheapness of opinions and the costliness of reporting. There's some deep pathos in it:

Thirty-five years ago, when I was an adolescent Watergate junkie, I couldn’t read The Washington Post’s coverage. I lived outside New York City, and it was impossible to find The Post. I still recall the delight I experienced when I passed through the Atlanta airport during a family vacation and walked by a newsstand that sold out-of-town papers. There was a copy of The Post....
I can't go on. Read it yourself, if you're stony-hearted enough to weep at the death of Little Nell. As usual, however, sentimentality eventuates in passing the collection plate:
[People] benefit from the work produced by big media institutions, but they do not pay for it. They have become accustomed to obtaining information for free. But it costs newspapers, news networks and magazines a lot to field reporters (even underpaid ones) and editors who produce the stories that can then be obtained for no pay on websites and that are grabbed by aggregating sites. There has to be revenue to support these operations and infrastructures.
Self serving? Since he's a pay-for-play guy, needless to say, the answer is yes. But there really is a problem under that rock, even if he's turned it over for reasons not becoming a gentleman.

How do we get news rather than conditioning messages? Not just how do we avoid fake Christmas braodcasts from a fallen Stalingrad, but more endemically, how do we not become the dreck we eat 'cause its all we've got?

Knowing the chow's killing you leaves two choices. Choice one, the choice we mostly take, short of abstaining unto starvation: we try to pick out the least harmful parts and make do with elaborate Sherlockian inference.

But are there any decent bits or bits of bits -- really? Hence plan two: get out there and be the news. First hand is the one hand they can't stop grabbing the facts, unless they chop it off -- and that may beat slow starvation.

Personally, I've made it a habit to eat as much junk news as possible -- indiscriminately gorge on it -- take it in by the bucketful. My conjecture: it will sift itself, sort itself, transmute itself by its own diabolic metabolism -- like a Madison house of Reps -- into nuggets of golden truth. By eating yards and yards of lead-pipe lies I hope to shit out about one troy ounce of truth every month.

Obviously, one job action, one street freak, is prolly worth more than ten leagues of lead-pipe eating. But hey, we all do what we can.

April 11, 2007

Poll-driven, or pal-driven?

Mike Flugennock passed along a characteristic item from The Onion:
WASHINGTON, DC—Democrats in both houses of Congress demanded a thorough inquiry Monday into whether or not the American people think they are doing a good enough job, and what, if anything, they should do differently.

"We cannot afford to make a wrong move as we face this crucial crossroads in our nation's history, which is why we need to know for sure what decision you'll support the most before we make it," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser Monday, scrutinizing the assembled crowd for signs of approval. "The question facing us today is simple: Do you like us? If not, why? We demand an answer."

Added Pelosi: "The time for second-guessing our every move is now."

If only it were so. The reality is that they don't give a hoot what we think: they know perfectly well they have a majority in Congress because the public is sick of the Iraq war, but they're quite determined to keep it going. The same could be said for any number of other "issues" -- single-payer health care, for example.

It's interesting that The Onion can't or won't see this. I've always had the feeling that there's something quite reactionary, quite devoted to obfuscatory cliche and conventional wisdom, about the humorist's profession.

They're like journalists that way.

April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut, RIP

My neighbor Kurt Vonnegut is dead at 84. Never a huge fan, but I was sorry to see him go. We're all indebted to him for the concept of the granfalloon:
A granfalloon, in the fictional religion of Bokononism (invented by Kurt Vonnegut in his 1963 novel Cat's Cradle), is .... a group of people who outwardly choose or claim to have a shared identity or purpose, but whose mutual association is actually meaningless.... The most common granfalloons are associations and societies based on a shared but ultimately fabricated premise.... A more general and oft-cited quote defines a granfalloon as "a proud and meaningless association of human beings."
This Wikipedia item goes goes on to impart some information I hadn't known:
research ... found that strangers would form groups on the basis of completely inconsequential criteria, such as the flip of a coin. Subjects within such meaningless associations ... act towards other members as if they were kin or close friends. The granfalloon technique is a method of persuasion in which individuals are encouraged to identify with a particular granfalloon, such as a pressure group or political campaign, as a means of securing for that group the individual's loyalty and commitment through adoption of its symbols, rituals and beliefs.
Well, that explains Daily Kos.

De-fund the parade

Tax time approaches, and like spring itself, it awakens something ghastly about all this renewal. Just as re-budding plants and new chicks are feedstock for yet another year of alpha-predator uncontrolled "dining out", this is Uncle's time to snatch his fifth of our fruits.

This spring is special of course, as we all watch in a variety of nasty moods while our duly elected peace congress, like so many packasses, carry this year's war requistion cloppingly down Penn Ave, braying and planting their front hooves scutteringly for an instant over and over again, like each moment will be the last step -- "I'll go no further" they cry, just before the next step. And it continues, this easter season passion parade, far far longer then the Nazarene's one-off.

Obviously, as Father Smiff tirelessly points out, for the top kicks among the congressional Demitry, all this is the purest charade, the purest "don't throw me in that briar patch" hooey. But hey, it's the art of the possible -- and man is this fraud of a show "possible".

Since this official oppostion to funding the bloodbath in the sand is really an unofficial co-conspiracy, maybe you might try starving the beast in the neo-nazi helmet, by direct action and here's just where to start:


April 13, 2007

We've let Hunter down

Hunter came at me last night again. It's been a while. I guess the last time was when he told me St Hill was "a stomped hen."

He appeared out of a pile of dry cleaning I'd thrown at the foot of my bed, and he was raging in that galooty BB-eyed way he has of late:

"Paine you filthy scut..." (Dublin stage accents filter thru his riffs these days -- I suspect just for show).

I wait till he stops kicking away my dirty business clothes from around him and resteadies himself -- his part of heaven has a 24/7 open bar policy, it seems.

"Paine --" there's a bold but flaccid hand extended into my face here "-- Paine, you must do something about this!"

"About what, HT?"

He looks hurt. "Why... why... isn't it obvious? What else but your, your... lack of readership!"

Indeed, very good point he has there. My posts are as stillborn these days as Mussolini's air corps.

"Here I have chosen you... you... a fat doughy obscure lazy parlor cushion -- I've chosen you, Paine, me, Hunter of Cold Stream Junction, the Jehovah of Gonzo, to be my medium... my carry-on guy... in a time when my memes are like the serum Seppla brought to Nome. And no one -- no one at all -- reads you! Paine, where are your oft fabled fastballs?"

He's looking very grievous, and there's all of a sudden this near killed bottle of what look like vintage port in his left mitt. He raises it before his eye like Yorick's skull. Perhaps I'm to think he's Hamlet talking to me -- his remember me, Horatio! Who the fuck knows. But anyway he falls silent as if entranced by the glint of the glass dagger -- or no, that's another play -- he's waving in front of him. Is he waiting on me? Must I answer him somehow?

I do, like I'm pissed off: "Hey, what can I tell ya, pal? I'm throwin' as hard as I ever did. The ball's just taking too much time getting to the plate. Besides... you picked me, asshole. I didn't pick you so iffeee you no likeeee the results... then get somebody else, for fuck's sake."

I might as well have shoved a spear in his side. "No no, pal, no, you get me wrong. I'm backin' you, backin' ya all the way to funkytown, baby. Sheeiiit ... I chose you because... because...."

All of a sudden under the impossibly intense strain of trying to justify his choice of moi, he starts stumbling on all fronts -- his body stumbles, his mind stumbles, my guess, even his soul is quaking, and don't he get himself completely twisting and turning sideways, and throwing his arms in the air like my carpet is quicksand. Finally he's down on the floor in a heap.

It's sad, of course, but I'm relieved. He's become just a silly ass after all -- and with the resources of the celestial hosts yet. Why should I care if I've let him down so horribly?

"Listen here, my good man. Surely you can hardly expect that spooking me like this is helping me can you, Hunter? How's this boozer's boogaloo getting me a larger viewership? Hows clowning about in my bedroom at 2:30 in the morning, waving a dead flagon of pirate pitch, helping? Just exactly what about this type of shameless self-indulgent sentimental exhibitionism of yours is going to get the hit meter at Father Smiff's to tick faster?"

He rises slowly and awkwardly back to his full height, and I must say he does it somehow with the silent undauntable dignity of a fallen giraffe. Then he glares at the port in his hand. "That prick claimed I'd like this particular bottle of crap," he belches in disgust. "I don't. It's loud, it's too thick, and it's overly pushy, and I shan't have it ever ever again!" With that he raises his right arm straight up as if pledging to Bacchus or whoever is in charge of that stuff, and with his other hand throws the dirty bottle at my window, where it flashes red and is gone without a single fracture of anything real. And then, just as quickly, he himself is dissolving back down into my blue pinstriped suit he'd just a moment before been wiggling his huge hillbilly bare feet upon, and then he's as gone as any gone geist can be gone -- leaving me alone with my own large and self-pitying thoughts of futility.

April 14, 2007

Theory of Empire 102

If this requisition grapple is really a covert conspiracy between the leaders of both parties to keep our home town empire's nice little storm troopers in Arab Iraq indefinitely -- then why in hell are the same duops still scrappin' so over it?

My quick answer: both parties want to lay as much of the blame as they can for this debacle on the asshole "other" party. It's good politics: the Repugs need to build a backstab in here some way or other, just as much as the Dems need to tie a bloody ribbon around the old elephant's trunk. And it's also damn fine political theatre too -- a tea-for-two showdown stretched out over the next 12 months, or so I'd reckon, while backstage the bigs from across the top arch of corporate America's establishment try to rescue the empire's chestnuts.

I take it the thinking goes like this: both parties' leading "minds" now accept the shared conclusion that the occ is a five alarm failure beyond any possible redemption. Our ground forces are so flat-out fuckled we couldn't threaten to pull off another topple and occ anywhere east of Bermuda.

But the empire, just like back in 'Nam circa '69, really can't cut and run. So this is now Decent Interval, Part Deux. Let's consider some elementary bipartisan empire-builder facts. Yes, it was pure fool krieging by the White House's wall to wall oil jacks and their sidekick Zionians to go in there in the first place. Hell, the Clinton regime's hard guys had kicked Saddam in the nuts so many times he thought he was Lucille Ball. It was completely unnecessary, and Cheney did it just 'cause he could. And yes, nobody but someone deep in the oil game, or so Zionian their mother has disowned them, would repeat this escapade if the goddess Clio gave Uncle a mulligan.

And yes, our kids are walking about out there catching a serious whatfor from a wolf-pack's worth of theocon zombies and bloody-eyed "native sons"; and yes, the blood and treasure spill is for no intrinsic reason or likely positive prospect -- no recompense, no solace, no soap.

The global empire as a whole took a zinger, and will keep on taking a zinger so long as "we" referee that civil war. But "we" must continue despite all that: because global empires -- at least global empires that want to stay global empires -- don't ever ever cut and run. They can't. Global empires must keep right on grinding, keep right on killing, keep right on looting and savaging, past rational purpose and all the way to full-moon crazy, 'cause global empires gotta "retain authority". Global empires, every time the occasion arises, must make "the other" very very sorry they fought back, even if the bastards had no choice.

Global empires make you sorry you couldn't throw flowers and candy canes, sorry you can't just lie down and give the trans-national corporations anything they fucking want that's yours. Global empires, before they leave make the native cost so high you end up sorry you won -- sorry you didn't surrender.

Oh, you're not sorry to see Uncle's legion of armed condors flocking off to some other elsewhere -- but you're nearly always already willing to invite back in the transnational corporations. That's the point. The American global empire is into that sand trap like a second Macbeth -- no, maybe even further into it than Macbeth got before his doubts and shame -- but for the American empire, like for Macbeth, it's better to press on than to go back; better to keep on killing for its own sake, than to try to remake the Clinton pax that not 9/11, but this Bush blitz through the desert, busted up.

So we will press on ahead -- to where? To what end? To exhaustion -- to a point where the Empire's enemies realize Uncle ain't leaving the area in any way shape form or fashion, no matter what they do. Uncle's gotta prove, in dead bodies on both sides, that he's up to what it takes to maintain a long term presence right there smack-dab in the middle of the Middle East.

Nope, ragheads, we ain't leaving. And this means Iraq is not 'Nam II. It's way worse. We gotta find a way to stay at the table, keep bases in the zone of conflict, keep the Farsi turbans contained, keep Russia and China back on their heels.

Redeploy? Some, but not entirely. The old two-K solution -- redeploy to Kuwait and Kurdistan -- is no longer an option, as my Foggy Bottom source, Mr Y, claims. He says that simple move is not enough -- not with Turkey, Syria, and Iran emboldened like a bunch of Friday night pimps. 'Cause both Uncle and his mini-me, the "realm" of Israel, both shit the bed in full armor. So now the local folks over there figure it's Miller time -- time they pushed for more.

Suffice it to repeat the obvious: the globe's sole empire is scrambling, and its two-headed party animal has to tapdance while a redeal can be forced on the other players -- a redeal where the empire retains maximum possible reach, and the largest pile of chips, and the right to deal off the bottom of the deck.

Over there; vs. under, here

Somehow I missed this contribution from Mike Flugennock, back in March, but the point is still good:

Was just checking out some reports yesterday on the protests vs. the Chimp's Latin American visit, and some of the tape on CNN, and found myself doing a mental comparison of how dissident movements outside the Empire handle this, vs. the cargo cults -- oh, alright, "movements" -- inside the Empire: How they fight imperialism and corporate dictatorship outside the Empire:

  • General strikes
  • Molotovs
  • Smoke bombs
  • Molotovs and smoke bombs launched from improvised over-the-shoulder "bazookas"
  • Bricks
  • Barricades
  • Flipped cars
  • Improvised battering rams
  • Destruction of corporate property
  • Actually engaging the police in actual combat (imagine _that_!)
  • Generally making the place ungovernable and the Chimp's visit a living hell
How they do it inside the Empire:
  • Marching around with signs
  • Standing around with signs
  • Standing around with candles
  • Teach-ins
  • Knit-ins
  • Movie nights
  • Vegan potlucks
  • "Lobbying days"
  • Writing letters to politicians
  • Whiny press releases
  • Movie stars and politicians leading marches
  • Nonviolence training for people who are already pretty goddamn' docile as it is
  • Various other quaint old 1950s high-school civics class bullshit
  • Anti-authoritarian Bloc Action Calls which are pretty much ignored
  • "Civil Disobedience" actions pre-arranged with the police
  • Generally being meek, cowed, intimidated, and entirely useless to people around the world who were hoping for us to help bring down the Empire from the inside
This is pretty much why I don't care that I'm going to miss the M17 demonstrations, why I had to force myself to stay in the J27 march until I'd shot enough tape to cut a piece together showing how goddamn' useless and boring it was, why I don't care if I never shoot another goddamn' march as long as I live, and why I've pretty much quit giving a shit about what happens to this goddamn' country and my "fellow Americans", or the goddamn' cargo cults...uh, sorry, "movements" in this country anymore. We had our big chances at Seattle and A16, but we started drinking the nonviolence Kool-Aid, and let Global Exchange, MGJ, Code Pink and MoveOn cut our balls off.

Handicapping the news

Mike Flugennock writes:

... [M]y apologies to all on Stop Me for totally missing the call on Don Imus in my personal Guess Which Irrelevant, Total-Waste-Of-Time Story Will Lead Off Tomorrow's "Today Show" Or Otherwise Totally Monopolize The Media Game. Normally, I see a Don Imus In Trouble Again report towards the bottom of the fourth column on Drudge and my reaction is "huh, so what, Don Imus is in trouble again; so, tell us some goddamn' news, already" and promptly move on to the next item. Obviously, this has led to disastrous consequences for all of us as the Imus "story" has pretty much obliterated the news of mass demonstrations of Iraqis calling for the US Empire to leave, a bombing of a major Baghdad bridge and of the Green Zone, a spike in US casualties in Iraq, and the continuing shuddering, groaning collapse of the American Dream, viz. losing the house you couldn't nearly afford but took out a skanky mortgage to buy anyway because you believed all the marketing hype about how you really are entitled to it.

That said, it's Slogging Through The Shit So You Don't Have To Time, and straight offa' the Drudge Report, here's my quick Top Five picks on what I think will lead off the Today Show either tomorrow morning or whenever it is that the goddamn' standard-issue Don Imus Is In Trouble Story Which Somehow Became This Year's Terry Schiavo Circus finally subsides:

5. All-Female Conception, http://news.independent.co.uk/world/science_technology/article2444462.ece This should tie in nicely with the Today Show's extensive coverage last year of the "girl crush" social trend phenomenon. A friend's wife, in fact, has said she wants to have Uma Thurman's baby (speaking of girl crushes). The Democratic Party angle, of course, is that it involves stem cells, and we all know these days how the Donkeycrats can be depended on for that good old stem-cell solidarity; hell, anyone who still thinks there's no difference has only to remember Senator "Lurch" Kerry's outspoken position on stem cells which he phoned in back in '04.

4. Prosecutors See Scary Rise In Child Attacks On Parents, http://chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/4711186.html I'd go with this one for no other reason than the sheer man-bites-dog sensationalism of it. Can't really say much else as it's a new story, at least to me. But, man, oh, man, has it got the Top Ten Minutes Of The Today Show written all over it. Not sure if it'd have the staying power of an Anna Nicole Smith, a Natalee Holloway, a Don Imus. This might be more in the Insane Lovesick Astronaut class.

3. Paul Wolfowitz Romantic Scandal, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/ee84cc80-e91e-11db-a162-000b5df10621.html Ordinarily, the Today Show wouldn't bother with something as mundane as the ruinous policies of the World Bank and IMF which keep millions poor, but there's sex involved in this one -- namely, that Wolfowitz (what is it with these WB presidents' names, anyway? Wolfensohn, Wolfowitz...) tried to get a WB staffer who was his girlfriend/mistress/paramour -- I don't know what you'd call her when you're hooking up at that level in Washington -- a much bigger pay raise than normal, and was caught. I guess the real news here is that he actually said "I made a mistake", and not "Mistakes were made". Hell, I'd go with this for no other reason than the fact that some gal was actually allowing herself to be nailed by Old Lick'n'Slick.

2. Elementary School Teacher Caught Having Sex With Principal On Video, http://cbs2chicago.com/topstories/local_story_103092655.html Talk about something that's been reported so often lately that it's not even news anymore. This one's got everything the Today Show loves these days -- sex in school, and hidden-camera tape (anyone else notice these days that at least half the stories on the Today Shows headline segments feature sensational, violent, horrific footage captured by surveillance cameras?), and for this I have it narrowly edging out the World Bank Honey Money story.

1. Madonna Denies Plans To Adopt Second Malawian Child, http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=070413120435.13hmlntu&show_article=1 Perhaps the runaway winner for no other reason than it, of course, involves a huge celebrity. The Today Show will for damn' sure be looking for a way to drag this out over three days' worth of ten-minute interview segments. The end.

Doing good, doing well, or neither

J Alva Scruggs writes:


I've come across the "New Progressive Coalition" several times, most notably at the eleemosynary blogs where I sometimes hang out. It's very much a business, as the proprietary ROI tool suggests, and the pitch they use on their website is semantically hollow. The basic premise is that political donors just don't know where to put their money to get maximum bang for the buck. It's like MoveOn on steroids, with the same origin -- Silocon Valley. I doubt they'll do very well. MoveOn is set up to harvest the discontent of people like the Kosniki, who have a few hundreds at most to give. That market is tapped out. The major donors already know where to go to buy their indulgences.

In the past, I've listed organizations that progressives could support without worrying about being "too radical". They're all fairly well known and might be able to do quite a bit of good if they weren't starved for cash and personnel. It's simply shocking to me that the ACLU, for example, only has about three hundred thousand donor/members. It's a stalwart of American liberalism. Some of the hundreds of the millions frittered away by beautiful loser Democrats would do more in their hands, assuming the goal is anything remotely progressive.

I think what the New Progressive Coalition at least nominally intends to do is elect more Democrats -- the trickle down theory of progressivism, with the fatuous metrics of campaign consultants.

April 15, 2007

Butt plug

My close personal pal, liberal Bob Kuttner has another column worth eviscerating


Well, to be honest, no, actually he doesn't. I just find him so so so .... like Dan Quayle found Mario Cuomo, a troublesome specter.

To my thoughtful inclination, guys like Bob and his breed of chatter ape are the very plug in the asshole of American social progress. Bobby the K, co-editor of The American Prospect and a senior fellow at Demos, whose columns appear regularly in newspapers near you, is precisely the egregious element blocking this great land's shitter -- the guy who makes vicious social crap removal near impossible, by boring us to death, by calling on us umpteen times like a wooden mantelpiece to rid ourselves of this Wall Street menace.

Hear it repeated nearly word for word enough times, it isn't even enough to tune the whole notion out -- you've gotta start sidin' with the black hats to keep your pulse going.

Back to my Donne-like conceit: trying too hard to shit has contrary effects. it retards peristalsis. If you younger folks don't believe me, ask your family physician. Take this line ending this tower of righteous indignation's latest toothpaste-strength Jeremiad:

How many times does conservatism have to fail before we get a successor who reclaims American liberalism?
Feel your sphincter purse?

Bobby that first line oughta be "how many fuckin' times have I gotta write this same fuckin' piece before I leave the building?!" How many indeed, Bob? How many times do we gotta hear you blow your flugelhorn before you finally grab some pine?

Give it a rest, pal. Your kids are out of the nest. Your mortgage is paid way down. Go get an honest job. Sell belts or something. About 20 years ago you had nothing whatsoever more to add to the proceedings. Stand not upon the order or your going, but go.... go.... now!


PS: Bobby dearest, Carter was not "the most conservative Democrat since Grover Cleveland." Mattress Jack Kennedy was -- err, he was, that is, until we got the rubber tree from Hope.

April 16, 2007

The road to prison: paved with good intentions

J Alva Scruggs has been, he says, "snooping on the liberal blogs" and has some observations:


"At the mighty Correntewire, Chicago Dyke gets an interview with Helen Thomas(and learns, among other things, that Ms. Thomas does a little blog-reading, but not a lot): "Asked about the probability of a Constitutional crisis brought on by the reality of a new Democratic majority, Ms. Thomas isn't bubbling about the Democrats. They are "too chicken" to really "go to the mat on the issues" and too "concerned with the elections (of 2008)," nor are they willing to "stick their necks out" to do what is right. Worst of all, they "don't feel that strongly" about the immorality of the war and other conditions created by the administration. Keeping their positions is the true motivation for most Democrats, and little else.""


That careerism and moral blindness gives liberals one hell of a lever, should they ever choose to use it. They're obviously not stupid. I know it's occurred to them. I've read their discussions about how much more useful a dedicated minority representation would be. A majority of them know that a big, flabby, careerist majority is only as good as the most cretinous component claque. But they seem an awful lot like people whose homes have been robbed so often that they can think of little other than working out ways to delay the next robbery. The cheerleading and accolades they give each are nice enough for comfort in a sisyphean effort. They'd be far more useful to them in establishing a balking bloc that does a little thumping.

David Graeber, an anthropologist recently eighty-sixed from Yale for taking principles seriously, has written about people's good intentions and more altruistic inspirations being used as levers against them, for control. That seems intuitive to me and I think an element of it applies to the situation in which liberals are caught. The shameless ankle biting of the cruise missile liberals and the moralizing bludgeons of the junior varsity perception managers does the rest.

April 18, 2007

Straw men in the wind

The Washpost the other day tried sliding this past their readership:
William A. Galston of the Brookings Institution, a Clinton administration domestic policy adviser and an early opponent of the Iraq war said his party should note that voters appear just as worried that Democrats would withdraw from Iraq too quickly as they are concerned that Republicans would stay there too long.

Now what is this Galston guy up to here?

Against the war "early" -- but now he's waving the yellow caution flag 'cause "voters appear worried".

Best way to play the hole? Don't try cutting through the 2-to-1 favorable dogleg -- don't go with the massive center-left shift -- stay safe. Drive it down the middle of the fairway. Sure there's water to the right, but there's trees to the left. Too quick is just as bad as too long. Okay, so the trees aren't there now -- but they're growin' and they'll be there by September, before election time.

Now can this guy really have a job at the Big B and still be as stupid as this chitter implies? Wait, there's more:

I think it's important to distinguish between the desire to bring this agony to an end and the consequences of bringing it to an end in the wrong way.
Smell orthrian shit coming here? You're right. Galston's sum-up:
I can't prove this but I believe Democrats will be held responsible if they are seen as advocating a course of action that doesn't take the consequences of failure into account.
---Cue the tuba----
...We cannot afford as a party to be either silent or blithe about the consequences of rapid withdrawal.
Echoes of general Buck Turgidson: 'we cannot afford a mineshaft gap.'

But Galston ain't wrong about the word 'afford'. The empire's overlords are watching. Donor money can suddenly gush, but it can just as suddenly dry up.

So beware, Obama; beware, thou blithe spirit. Don't you try drivin' over that dogleg. Don't you fuck with us while we figure out how we extract the empire from this bottomless sand hole Cheney got us into. Don't try riding a popular wave. Don't fall for that base of yours bellowing from below "Out now!" Out now!" -- not if you want the White House.

April 19, 2007

Brass hats and silk hats

Cruising Counterpunch as I'm wont to do, I discover this detailed fact- and figure-bristling update on Ike's military-industrial complex (MIC), all nice enough and very much what one likes to find at the PUNCH, till deeep into the flower bed this bud roused my neck hairs:


Preservation, justification, and expansion of the military-industrial colossus, especially of the armaments industry and other Pentagon contractors, have become critical big business objectives in themselves....

Ya ya ya, we got that fact pretty well clenched between our teeth by now. But then comes this stinker, this extra goosing of we the weebles -- a goose too far, I say: the post claims this bunch of buckos we got today is a new mutation of the old MIC:
.... a new, parasitic U.S. military imperialism .... parasitic because its military adventures abroad are often prompted not so much by a desire to expand the empire's wealth beyond the existing levels as did the imperial powers of the past but by a desire to appropriate the lion's share of the existing wealth and treasure for the military establishment, especially for the war-profiteering contractors.
The fog alert goes off here. Indeed, indeed, the golem Pentagon is running wild these days, and like rape follows ravish, our war profiteering transnational corporations are getting bigger and bigger where it really counts, in their profit crotch. And yes, bulging bottom-line privates look swell to the stock mongers and other sterile whores of Wall Street. And so doubtless, as with most such profit spouts, it'll spiral and keep on spiralling .... for a while. Keep on getting bigger, and since bigger only begets the urge for bigger still.... a bubble rises ....till it pops.

But this ain't no bubble, says our man: its a flesh-eating parasite, a newborn menace, an Ebola of capitalism, an armed insatiable parasite corporate armada on the loose, able now to grab and gobble the world wide wealth of the host complex of complexes, Corporate Globality, Inc.

I don't think so, mate. Makes me recall the same line trotted out to agitate the peaceful Eloi, back in the cold war days, about the nuke complex spiraling in a potlatch of unreason toward Armageddon. We got just the same line here. Didn't make sense then, don't make no sense now, even for capitalism on the booze. This terror terminator complex is an expedient, a contrivance, a slave that might like to devour its master but won't, and can't. Exhibit A: wheres the nuke race now? No it was not a tumor, a cancerous renegade. The nuke race cost Uncle's credit card 3 trillion 2006 dollars, but it served its purpose more or less -- and this current GWOT will serve its purpose too. More or less. if and when it finally don't -- give or take some learning curve and inertia -- the terror terminator complex will go the way of the nuke complex. So why bother to point this out? Because there is no nice imperialism -- no nice transnational corporate system the can be surgically separated from its dirty nasty brother. If nothing else can be learned from the Clintox years, surely its Woodstock imperialism at least should have cured us progs of that lambs-and-wolves fantasy. The clinton pax -- Kosovo a go-go -- thats what the other side of the transnational corporate moon always and inevitably looks like.

So keep on howlin', babe. Keep on hackin' at the five-sided dollar spill. But don't imagine a chastened hord of silk hats might some day descend on the Pentagon pirate fleet and burn it to floating bark. There will be no restoration, no new regime of decent, civil, human, touch-football empiring. That particular holy grail never existed outside St Woodrow's toilet bowl.

All in the family

The heavens part -- Jehovah smiles down on me -- behold this opening graf: http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2007/04/journamalism_wa_1.html
A friend once told me oh, four years ago, that we would be able to tell when the Democrats are on the upswing: it will be when Robert Kuttner decides that trashing other Democrats--not arguing about the future of a party, not arguing about a good society, not debating honorable adversaries, not thinking about policies, not discussing issues, but simply trashing other Democrats--is his Job #1.

Well, it must be that time.

Robert Kuttner trashes Robert Rubin."

Sometimes justice has its wondrous ways, don't it?

The blog attack is on my close personal liberal friend Bobby the K Kuttner, who only just -- well, it seems like yesterday -- I bashed right here at SMBIVA with my trusty pigs bladder.

And for doing what? For mugging Bobby Rubin, the chef in perpetuity to the Clinton ear of the donkery, yes, boy scout Bobby Bondage, that baker of the flattest of policy souffles.

And behold, the final and consummate beauty of all this blog attack is by none other than Brad Delong himself, my man in the engine room, the Pugsley of the dismal science.

I wish I were George Burns, so I could ring out the last "exquisite' feature in this week's episode. For a guy like me it just don't get any richer than this. Donk egghead frenzy at its finest.

Relish as I do this final Brad Jr bloviation:

Kuttner, you see, is not in the information business. He is in the character assassination business.
Praise the Lord!

Obama's econo-ghoul

Meet Barak Obama's economist Austan Goolsbee:

He's Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago (I think he's really in the B-school), and according to the DLC's own web site, he's also "a senior economist with the Democratic Leadership Council and Progressive Policy Institute". As if that's not enough fruit salad for his chest, he's also a columnist for the NYT biz section.

He's just what the label and brand implies -- a dry 8-inch DLC cork for Uncle's budget bottle. I bet he's a parson's son like Dean Acheson. He even looks like a loan officer.

But I'm here to tell ya, he's up to date. This cuss loves the new mortgage market. Maybe he looks like he'd say "Sorry, Mr Chubb, we can't loan you that today. Why don't you go home and save your pennies and maybe come back when you can put down a real down payment?" (Imagine staring at that Adam's apple bobbing away as he says this.)

But he really don't say stuff like that, not about householders. Nope, he believes "Mr Chubb, you're going somewhere! So here's the loan you requested, and here's 20% more! Buy yourself some business suits, and the wife a new car!"

You see, the new "supply-side" trick play in town is not to cut top tax rates, and load the diff on payroll. Nope, among the banker progs that inform guys like Oby and the Kerry tree, the watchword is to raise middle America's debt nut.

I call it the peonage effect. Get the nut up to the max based on potential future earnings. That's right, chain these raw recruits to the corporate monkey bars for life. When you owe, baby, and all you got to sell is yourself and the domestic partner.... Debt will make 'em climb faster, even as the ladder slides out from under 'em.

But Uncle's borrowing? Well, pard, that is an entirely different story. Deficits incurred to increase social spending only makes life too easy for the jobless. Now if you tax-extract it from payroll.... that's different.

Get a sense of this porcupine? Here for your day's punishment is an article (or something like an article) he scrawled for the DLC last year:


Message: the growing household wealth gap is the reward of virtuous savings and investing habits.

The main reason the capital gap has been widening -- aside from the effects of the recent tax cuts -- is that higher-income people have higher savings rates and a much higher likelihood of owning high-return investments, such as stocks and other forms of equity capital. For example, while just over half of the middle class has a retirement account, almost 90 percent of the top group does.

April 20, 2007

The Guarantor State Steps In

WASHINGTON - Mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac has committed to buy as much as $20 billion in mortgages to help borrowers with high-priced loans stay in their homes, the company‘s chief executive said Wednesday.


In recent days, attention has focused on how the federal government can help the most vulnerable subprime borrowers, particularly those who have taken out adjustable-rate mortgages that are due to reset to significantly higher interest rates in the months ahead. One proposal, floated by consumer-advocacy groups, has been to place a temporary moratorium on foreclosures. Another line of thought being championed by Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, and Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, is to channel funds to groups that help borrowers struggling to make payments escape foreclosure.

Democrats and Republicans have been careful to say they won't legislate a "bailout," which ostensibly would pay off the balance of delinquent loans to protect people's credit. While other legislative approaches are debated, Congress is pushing regulators and the industry into action.

Sen. Christopher Dodd, D., Conn., chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, lambasted regulatory inaction earlier this year. Banking overseers responded by proposing to improve underwriting standards on subprime loans.


Oh, the humanity! There will be no bail out, except of course there will be a bail out, and there already is a bail out in place. The naughty lenders will be given a vigorous scolding. Bad! Bad lenders! Then they'll be told to play nicely.

Banks and other mortgage lenders repossessed more homes last month as many borrowers — mostly subprime — couldn‘t keep up with payments, according to a survey conducted by RealtyTrac Inc. that was released Wednesday. Foreclosures in March spiked to 149,150 -- a 47 percent leap from March 2006, according to the survey. Lenders repossessed one out of every 775 homes in March.

To avoid moral hazard, Senators Reed and Schumer think the bail out should be "channeled" to groups in the business of providing relief to the distressed homeowners. They need a chance to wet their beaks too. But, I wonder, why not cut out the multiple middle men and simply pay off the loansharks? Preserving the fiction that the subprime lenders exist independently of a safety net does no one any good. It infantilizes the poor things. They need to learn to take some personal responsibility (for once in their lives) and people need to be able to help them get past their dependency on hand outs. Dodd's scolding and remonstrations won't last past the time it takes to deliver them. Schumer and Reed's concern for their exquisite sensibilites isn't going to help them get past their moral squalor. The soft bigotry of low expectations isn't going to work, I'm sorry to say.

April 21, 2007

Business as usual

From the No Comment Needed department:

Declaring that the Bush administration's actions in foreign and domestic affairs raise "serious questions of constitutionality," Vermont state senators voted yesterday to call for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in what officials say was the first such vote by state lawmakers in the country.

Without debate, the Democratic-controlled Senate voted 16 to 9 in favor of the nonbinding resolution, which urges US Representative Peter Welch, a Democrat, to introduce a resolution in the House of Representatives to initiate impeachment proceedings.

Vermont's congressional delegation, which includes Welch and Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, promptly rejected the call.

April 23, 2007

The long-running AFL-CIA

I read this at the AFL blog site:


Indy unions sprouting right in mother Russia's TNC groin? Hmmmm, what can this mean? Better call that stalwart of the struggle, Herb Sorrell III, grandson of the famed Hollywood slugger hisseff, the king of the pickets, Herbert K Sorrell, scourge of Walt Disney, Ronald Reagan, etc. Thus his grandson on the phone to me, (maybe after a few jars):

"Oh, that! Fuck, Owen -- the jobster struggle in Russia needs those pixie dust dancers and their new "independent" unions about as much as I need my balls slapped with a pine paddle. Ahh, the poor Slav dupes, listening to voices from Solidarity House USA, that fuckin' CIA cutout -- AFL-CIO, AFL-CIA -- change one letter is all it takes, pal.

"To get to the truth here, this stinker is the CIA, baby, the CIA -- forwarding the global class struggle? Real unions? Does that sound like the guiding mission of the CIA to you?

"Yeah, sure, the Sweeney pack supposedly cleaned out the cold war stables -- but just contact the Hurricane Hugo movement. Ask them about the "independent" oil union down there, and its ties to the "solidarity center".

"The real mission is, any foreign gubmint party or union opposing Uncle's empire games gets shit on. That's about as plain as Tony Bennet's nose, and the AFL piecards know it.

"We tried moving the last federation convention to close that CIA-infested shithole, that filthy house of spook wax, and we got a a groundswell goin', till suddenly this invisible wall comes between us and the rank and file conventioneers, and we're in Nowheresville. A little later one of the top piecards tells us, 'Guys, this just ain't your night.'"

April 24, 2007

The mummies dance a stately saraband

“It’s obvious that [the late David Halberstam] was probably the greatest journalist of his generation. He had a core integrity that gave him credibility and power, whether he was writing about basketball or Vietnam it carried an enormous amount of weight,” said Pulitzer Prize- winning journalist J. Anthony Lewis.... "I just didn’t know anybody who is a better representation of journalism.”
That last comment is true enough, though in a sense that the Snoozemaster General probably did not intend.

I happened to hear Halberstam being eulogized on NPR this morning. They had fished Ted Koppel out of his bottle of formaldehyde, rather like Bentham's taxidermied remains at the University of London, and hooked up a hot-air pump to him. He droned on for what seemed like an eternity in a creepy, hollow, sepulchral voice, to very little effect, except that he seemed to be making the rather startling claim that there was no anti-war movement until Halberstam's reporting caused it to spring into existence. Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος!

Clio dominatrix, catenis flagellisque induta

Ever notice how history loves a good bloodbath?

Sounds a little like a teaser from that timeless, I-like-Ike 1950's toad, Andy Rooney -- but I don't suppose he could ever quite say that. I like it plenty, anyway.

The pending bloodbath in Iraq comes to mind. Could we have toppled Saddam and kept a bloodbath off the agenda? I doubt it; it took a bloodbath for us to install him, after all, and we had him on what you might call bloodbath retainer during the Iran-Iraq unpleasantness a few years back.

Clio is a harsh mistress for us humans to live under -- though we gave her birth. She sees to it, somehow, that the criminals always get to send the innocent the bill for their crimes.

King Leopold's ghost walks among us

What gives an empire its oomph? Trans-nat corporations (TNCs) like Freeport McMoran, the world's biggest copper and gold miner and stripper.


Read in the LA Times how these globetrotting boyz expect to face down a sit-in strike at the world's biggest gold mine in West Papua.

The striking tribals are pissed that they get about $200 a month to extract metals in a boom market. Best part: it's all on their own land! Yup, the company has rogered these folks for nearly 40 years, and paid a fortune to local militia types to make their mission bigger and tougher all around, badder then the law.

Operations like this have that fine Mr Kurtz patina, updated to today's faster traffic.

The "free to choose" empire marches on!

Purity of essence

Nothing's too righteous to make a fast buck off of, as that salamander Jon Stewart might observe. The Gray Lady daily


had this waiting beneath a blizzard of blither on boutique activism's au-courant hook, "we're fair traders m'lady." Here's the nasty fish bone:

After graduating from the New School with a degree in literature in 1993, Sander Hicks, 36, the founder of Vox Pop, worked at a Kinko's, where he and his fellow workers experimented with union organizing and even a worker collective. Now, he's proud of his high-quality coffee, but asserts that the fair trade label gives it an additional "karmic kick."
Bypassing the odious vitae bits, let me draw your attention to the road not taken:
... he and his fellow workers experimented with union organizing and even a worker collective.
Experimented? Much like a taste-test, one presumes. Too sour? Not enough high notes, or maybe too much acidity? Disappointing, anyway. On to the next thing -- which was, what? an indie coffee-shop hustle.

Pride -- a clean soul -- a full cash register -- what's not to like?

I doubt strongly that alternative path was on Father Smiff's list of ways we might "stop traffic".

I humbly submit: acclimating your life niche by putting yourself in a humanist bubble so you can morally survive inside the beast -- it's just crap. None of us are souls unencumbered by the system. It's a fatuous delusion to think otherwise.

Want to make fair trade? Battle the system. Don't try to escape. There is no escape: not in your mind, and not even in your stomach.

April 26, 2007

Democrats: The new Republicans; or, It's our turn

Dems Swamp GOP in Money Chase

In the much-watched first quarter of presidential fundraising, the Democratic candidates raised more than twice as much as their Republican counterparts.... the combined Democratic field raised about $80 million, compared with roughly $40 million collected by their GOP adversaries.

In 1999, the last presidential race without an incumbent in the race, Republicans raised $33 million in the first quarter, compared with $13 million by the Democrats, according to the Campaign Finance Institute. The disparity was also evident in 1988, when the Republican field reported $19 million in first-quarter fundraising, compared with $3 million by the Democrats.

Looks like the money guys -- and gals, of course -- are placing their bets on red rather than black, odd rather than even. The A-team brand needs a little R&R; it's been over-sold. Bring on the B-team!

Make hay while the sun shines, B-teamers. It doesn't take people that long to forget. You might get four years, and if you're really, really, exceptionally lucky, another four on top of that -- like the Edenic Clinton era. Find a guy, or gal, sufficiently cold and controlled and inhuman that a zaftig intern in a thong won't appeal to him or her, and you're golden.

I daresay either Hillary or Barack would fill the bill. In fact I think they're the same person. You never see 'em together, do you?

April 28, 2007

Exit the clown

I wasn't going to post anything on this, but again I'm provoked by the NYT:


Boris N. Yeltsin, the burly provincial politician who became a Soviet-era reformer and later a towering figure of his time as the first freely elected leader of Russia....
Yeltsin's reign was a clownish horror unequalled since Idi Amin went into Arabian exile. His farce was played out on a scale the likes of a Leonid Brezhnev could never imagine. He was a wrecking ball among wrecking balls, a pure trans-nat dream demon so effective in its wrongheadedness, it had to be deliberate.

As far as I can tell he was the protege of an ad hoc CIA/KGB security cartel that picked him out of the parade of political drag queens that the Gorby travesty -- picked him to be the king of topsey-turvey. The man leaped right out of a very large vodka bottle into the command chair of the world's greatest-ever national demolition job.

He imploded Russia's economy. His Harvard-engineered big bang not only ended Soviet stagnation, it blew the fucking place to rubble in a matter of 2 or 3 years. No slow step-by-step removal, just babooom! Down comes all the decaying crumbling edifice with one huge final "indignity", and after that he let the hounds loose. The conutry went straight into a bout of untrammeled, freebooting, swashbuckling, buccanneering horrors unseen among white folks since the British fleet shut down mainframe Caribbean piracy in the 18th century.

This dancing bear of a people's leader ran a whole nation the way mayors ran Chicago in the roaring 20's, and by the time the music stopped, the future of about half of Russia's households had been completely destroyed. He'd sent em back to the level of existence they'd left in 1861. Sur,e he made a few oligarchs "tycoon for a day", but by promoting one Langley-Wall Street stooge after another into the policy limelight, he managed to send Russia spiralling down so low the CIA unilaterally broke up the ad hoc cartel with the KGB, and flew home -- "mission accomplished, super power II is now a total fuckin' wreck."

And after all that -- after presiding over a wholesale poachers' slaughter and butchering of his beloved motherland -- after he'd let the bastards haul off the nation's ivory tusks to accounts in Switzerland -- the dear late departed Boris here had the gall to go out, slurring and boo-hooing and blithering his apologies for letting this pack of westernized wolverines shred the carcass of his nation's productive capacity and then piss all over its bones.

And yet, to his credit he was freely elected, not once but twice -- the second time in full Madison Ave carnival style.

Bye bye, you fuckin' drunken boob of a Wall Street stooge. They played you and rolled you like some lottery-winning rube that's wandered into a big-city cat house.

Bail, damn you, bail

Been pondering last week's Washpost report that both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are setting in motion buy-up programs to back the wave of low credit refinancings:


Maybe some sub-primers will get the relief we called for here, though so far it looks to have the usual big bold talk and small penis one associates with these two waddling behemoths. Their function, after all, is to turn lending to us homemakers into a barrel shoot for "the private lending interests".

If it's for real, and gets really rolling, this bailout, by my seat of the pants guess, for the whole subprime quagmire, could end up needing about 20 times as much as the two Uncle-spawned and -backed outfits are dummying up here (ie 500 billion maybe 750 billion in Uncle guarantees.)

Most importantly, imo, there's a back story here, of course, provided for us by the wishywashy express, and it sure does seem to be aswim with the usual beltway smelly factoids.

My favorite: the fiercely snarling false teeth of our ever heroic tribunes, the donk house boyz, as they pressure "both companies [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] ... to demonstrate that they perform a public service." Demonstrate to who? Rep. Barney Frank, that's who, the man from Newton Lower Falls himself, who according to this article is making large motions about requiring uncle's two spoiled brats "...to contribute to an affordable housing fund," 'cause battlin' Barney feels "the public has not received enough value in return for the commercial advantages Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac get from their government ties."

"The public?" Hmmmmmm. Poke around in this soup a bit, and I bet there's a private label under the cover of all this "the public" business.

Note well: we often hear this stuff called a cheap Wall Street bailout, when its some sub-saharan state that's on the dunking stool.

Recall, fellow citizens: if Uncle saves an 'umble 'omeownin' defaulter, He saves the stiff's generous soft hearted creditor's arse too, don't he now?

April 29, 2007

Where your treasury is, there will your heart be also

I bet some of us like the writings of Joe Bageant. His embrace of trash Whitey oughta make him my kinda good people.

Well, not so fast -- yesterday I read a piece of his over at Counterpunch and it gave me troubles, troubles his bold roosterin' has caused before:


Despite agreeing with 97% of his rant, I've been troubled by him, and I haven't been able to get my arms around why, except that it's all contained in just this one line, right up there in the very first paragraph. The fucker just pissed me off so much, I couldn't enjoy the rest of the hayride:

The financial mobsters will still continue tunneling their way under the national treasury.
Seems innocently fierce enough, doesn't it? So whats your beef, you fuckin' painiac? Ole Joe's just doin a bit of nude streakin' here, right? Harmless and playful in itself, so why bat an eye, even? Because it contains such a heavily layered, utterly wrongheaded, payload of smug ignorance, that's why!

This commonplace, worthy of, say, the late Molly Ivins, this second-nature sourced flourish, set my ticker off, because it's crap and misdirection and and and ...

Let this be a lesson to us all about our own deeply self-assured ignorance, ignorance that is too dangerous to let fly past, no matter who's displayng it.

Am I just being my usual pedantic cuff to point out that the "national treasury" is the creation of these financial mobsters? Far from having to steal it, it's already theirs, and always was. Borrowing to pay for foreign crusades is better for them than taxing themselves to pay for it. But even deeper, a national treasury is itself a socially constructed chimaera. There's nothing there to rob but paper. And if, as I reckon, ole Joe's worried about eating seed corn and the like -- well then he's just as ignorant as Jethro's goat.

If we have a huge "problem" here in America, the promisers' nightmare, it's not the treasury bonds Uncle issues in the trillions each year, but the dollar he manages to keep sky high in spite of that borrowing.

Now I suspect a statement more or less along those lines would prolly cause our Smokey Mountain oyster brain here to go, "say whaaaaaat? The dollar is a-plungin', ain't it?"

Nope, noodlehead, not against what it oughta drop with respect to all our emerging states' trading partners' currencies.

I could go on from one link in the chain of knownothing leftitude to the next, and prolly end up attacking the modern family and the climate change mantra. Sorry, gang, sorry I'm so, errr, bilious, but it can sometimes get to being a tough thing walkin' around so simply and completely enlightened in such a desperately blacked-out world.

About April 2007

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

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