« January 2008 | Main | March 2008 »

February 2008 Archives

February 1, 2008

Woodrow redivivus?

Back in the second decade or so of the last century -- the golden age of pwoggery -- this mighty "movement", this expression of merit-class hope, faith, and piety, went totally bipartisan. Even if at that time, the Republicans might have had more true believers, both parties had their mighty contingents of progressive hearts and minds.

At its high-water mark, in the election year of 1912, everyone but Pitchfork Ben Tillman, Nelson Aldrich, and "Fat Bill" Taft pretty much joined the progs' reform bandwagon, or at least cleared out of its way. Why, TR and St Woodrow -- two men more unalike than Colonel Custer and Sitting Bull -- both wanted the label boldly stiitched on their ass. In fact, they both wanted it so much they tried burying their entire political careers under an avalanche of progspeak. The parlor cowboy and the pecksniffian prig both swanned about spewing anti-corporate venom like Ida Tarbell herself.

Now back in '96, these same future pillars of our socio-political legacy had also shared a bipartisan aspiration -- but this one was of a different stripe entirely. This one was not to be achieved by mere opportunism. No, this one came from the deepest wellsprings of their social souls. It amounted in each case to an unmitigated, full throttle expression of each one's class nature. To their own surprise, even, they both discovered within them not only opposition, but a visceral horror of all things... populist!

It was as if just the contemplation of Bryan's barefoot dirty-faced shambles of a backcountry crusade forming up on the southwestern horizon might cause ringworms to seep right through their shoes and up onto their cheeks.

Nothing gave them more pleasure than to beat down this social infection. Wilson even joined Cleveland's Gold Democrat breakaway movement, that backed a pair of horses' asses willing to hold high the banner of true sound-money democracy. Both breathed more easily when Bryan got whomped.

These two heroic Orthrians of yore moved "left", along with big chunks of each of their parties' core bases, between the Bryan uprising in '96 and the prog-gone-wild parade of '12. I submit we oughta prepare ourselves for another such shift in the big two party tectonics. I see John McCain mouthing anticorporate hogwash, and St Hillabama pulling off the same range of "major reforms" that Woody and company pulled together during his 8 year reign -- a short list:

  • The Fed
  • income taxes
  • Woman suffrage
  • Jim Crow II
  • Prohibition
  • The Palmer raids
  • And of course the great Democratic staple, a high-minded war.
Well, yaa, it did kinda run down the far slope there in the second term.

Probably TR would have done 'em all too, maybe not in the same order -- the war might have moved up a few notches.

Nader raids again?

Last night I joined the Nader team:


Their reply came immediately -- "Thank you for signing on to challenge corporate power in this election year."

And ahh well, it made me kinda Weltschmertzy. Ralph's prolly about as grand a soul as our merit class produced between the dust bowl days and that morning in Dallas. But lets face it, the plane took off, Ralphy boy. Your day at the plate is past, as is mine, of course on a midget scale.

But hey, let's mount up anyway! What say you, fellow rad cliffhangers? Let's all take one last lap with Ralph -- him up there on the boob tube and You Tube, gadflying the Orthrians, and us down here in the digital cellar. Come on -- let's go virtual door to door, just this one more time. Do it for -- I don't know -- do it for -- Joan Baez.

February 5, 2008

Are there no workhouses?

Mike Flugennock writes:


I don't know whether to be infuriated or laugh out loud. All three -- oh, alright, two now -- "frontrunners" have totally, obviously ignored the demand for nationalized healthcare and have simply twisted the meaning of "Universal Coverage" to mean "forced to become a 'customer' of for-profit healthcare corporations". Oh, don't forget: "coverage" just means you've bought corporate health insurance; it doesn't mean you're actually going to get any care when you need it. So, Hillary wants to garnish the wages of even the lowliest burger-flipper or freelancer who goes without health insurance so he can pay his rent, so that she can brag about "universal coverage".

God damn, I hope they nominate Hillary. Perhaps everyone who's fed up with the Donkeycrats living in the pockets of Big Pharma and dodging the healthcare issue might actually grow a pair and vote for Nader, even if he's going to "lose".

Man, I'm sure glad he's running. Too bad that, living in DC, our vote has as much influence over the "election" as pissing into the wind; otherwise I'd actually risk being called for jury duty later by going out and voting for Nader (it'd be my first vote in any election in this city since '04, the last time I voted for Nader). I remember posting at Stop Me some time back, discussing how people need to get some balls and approach this freak show the way the Palestinan and Iraqi resistance fighters do -- like people with nothing to lose -- they'd be amazed at how liberating it can be to realize that "elections" in this country don't mean anything and go into it with some other ideas besides whether or not somebody they like is going to "win", or is "electable". Just get totally banzai about it, y'know? At the risk of repeating myself, I think it's time for some "political suicide bombers" to "seize the plane"(*). Banzai, Ralph! Crash that sonofabitch.

Here's the item:


WASHINGTON - Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday she might be willing to garnish the wages of workers who refuse to buy health insurance to achieve coverage for all Americans. The New York senator has criticized presidential rival Barack Obama for pushing a health plan that would not require universal coverage. Clinton has not always specified the enforcement measures she would embrace, but when pressed on ABC's "This Week," she said: "I think there are a number of mechanisms" that are possible, including "going after people's wages, automatic enrollment."


(*) Dear Department of Homeland Security:

Mike is being metaphorical here. No need to send the SWAT team.


The Editor

What HAVE they been smoking?

I may have to re-think my belief in the innocuousness of cannabis sativa:
Grateful Dead and Deadheads reunite for Obama

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Saying Barack Obama embodies political hope absent since Robert Kennedy was slain 40 years ago, three surviving members of the Grateful Dead rock band reunited on Monday for the first time in four years to back the presidential candidate.

"Every few generations a guy like this comes along," drummer Mickey Hart [said].

Thank God it's not any more often than that. Somebody really needs to do a major debunking of the Kennedy myth. It's amazing what a cognition-stopper it is.

The Strangelovian hand...

... is feeling a mighty pull toward the voting booth today. I'm thinking of going and casting a perverse strategic vote for Hillary, partly on the principle that she is the nominee most likely to lead the Democratic Party to defeat, and partly because this lemming-like Beatlemania for Obama is just excessively revolting. Somebody talk me out of it.

February 9, 2008


Gallup has spoken!


Education and Gender Help Predict Democratic Preferences
College education a major differentiator in choosing Clinton vs. Obama

Gender and education are both strong predictors of Democrats' preferences for their party's presidential nominee. Generally speaking, the more education a Democrat has, the less likely he or she is to support Hillary Clinton, and the more likely to support Barack Obama....

Among the most highly educated Democrats -- those with postgraduate educations -- both men and women are more likely to support Obama than Clinton. Among the least educated -- those with no college experience -- both men and women are more likely to support Clinton than Obama.

Long story short: with the in-between groups, gender assumes some importance. But once education has really run its course, it's Barack by a country mile -- or an urban census district, anyway.

Since I'm a long-time foe of education, this was very cheering news. It's as if the educated, like Caliban, don't enjoy seeing their own face in a mirror.

February 11, 2008

One down, one to go

Mike Flugennock passed this welcome bit of news along:


U.S. Rep. Lantos, Holocaust survivor, dies

Rep. Tom Lantos, the only survivor of the Holocaust elected to the U.S. Congress... died on Monday after recently being diagnosed with cancer.... Lantos was born in Hungary and as a teenager twice escaped Nazi labor camps. He was active in the anti-Nazi underground before coming to the United States in 1947 on an academic scholarship....

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Lantos was "the embodiment of what it meant to have one's freedom denied and then to find it and to insist that America stand for spreading the benefits of freedom and prosperity for others."


Whether they like or not, Condi might have added.

Chuck Schumer apparently was kept away from the microphone on this occasion, contrary to the Washington proverb -- which just shows, perhaps, what Beltway wisdom is worth. But there was one inevitable, ineluctable, incurable nuisance who predictably jostled his long melancholy face into the frame:


Holocaust survivor and Nobel peace laureate Elie Wiesel, speaking on CNN, said of Lantos: "He was one of those spokesman in Congress whose voices are needed ... whenever he spoke it was always for the victims; victims of injustice, of forgetting, victims of diseases, victims of dictatorships and totalitarianism."


The "victims of forgetting"! Why, exactly, does this phrase make me laugh? Partly, it's the tin-eared, algebraic way that Wal-Marters of rhetoric like Wiesel put together their tropes. It's a purely combinatorial exercise: start with "victims" and then list some bad things -- flatulence, haemorrhoids, a hyperactive gag reflex.

Of course the world offers a vast harvest of miscellaneous victims, all presumed to be crying out for representation and memory -- highly selective memory, for the most part -- from the likes of Wiesel and Lantos. But the victims of forgetting! Man, there's a passel of those. Doing them justice is a tall order even for a guy who repeatedly outsmarted the Nazis -- to hear him tell it.

But it's not just the visible machinery of the rhetoric that amuses me so about Wiesel. It's also the relentlessly weepy emotional register, shallow and stereotyped as its means of expression may be.

Everybody has heard singers or fiddlers with an unvarying exaggerated vibrato -- a vibrato wide enough to walk on and fast enough to induce convulsions. They use it for Rossini, they use it for Handel. It's the same vibrato when they sing piano and when they sing forte. It's the same on long notes and short ones, dissonances and consonances, on-beat and off-beat, important notes and passing tones, appoggiature and acciaccature... a uniform inch-thick gelcoat of expressive treacle slathered obsessively over every visible surface.

Wiesel's reflexive threnodies always make me hear, in my mind's ear, some such Gypsy violinist or suburban chazzan. Boot him up, and the elegiac warble quickly crescendos to ear-splitting volume and crystal-shattering pitch. You can't turn it down, you can't mute it, where the hell is the remote -- only recourse is to pull the plug.

So let's look forward to the day when Lantos and Wiesel are reunited in that great schmaltzitorium in the sky, to wail in good close tremulant harmony for all the "victims" of anything anywhere, to whatever audience Heaven may afford. Since it's Heaven, of course, we know that every ham will there receive his longed-for, endless encores.

February 12, 2008

Reconstruction reconstructed

Recall Father Meanest pointed us to this minor Grapeful Dud oracle:
"Barack Obama embodies political hope absent since Robert Kennedy was slain 40 years ago."
I savor the thought, don't you? Now he could fall on his face between here and the predicted dead-heat primary finish with the Hill. But say he doesn't.

Then we all can count --- the party elders will hold the balance of power at the convention. Lady Humphrey-Nixon, a plausible Mrs Macbeth, confronting a melanin-enhanced ghost of Bobby -- though no Banquo he.

My bet, if it comes to it: the elders will anoint the chap in the clean white shirt from Illinois.

Will that raise another ghost -- Huck Finn's Pap? Compare and contrast the conjunctures. Here's what Pap Smiff would call the locus classicus:

"Oh, yes, this is a wonderful govment, wonderful. Why, looky here. There was a free nigger there from Ohio -- a mulatter, most as white as a white man. He had the whitest shirt on you ever see, too, and the shiniest hat; and there ain't a man in that town that's got as fine clothes as what he had; and he had a gold watch and chain, and a silver-headed cane -- the awfulest old gray-headed nabob in the State.

And what do you think? They said he was a p'fessor in a college, and could talk all kinds of languages, and knowed everything. And that ain't the wust. They said he could vote when he was at home.

Well, that let me out. Thinks I, what is the country a-coming to? It was 'lection day, and I was just about to go and vote myself if I warn't too drunk to get there; but when they told me there was a State in this country where they'd let that nigger vote, I drawed out. I says I'll never vote agin. Them's the very words I said; they all heard me; and the country may rot for all me -- I'll never vote agin as long as I live.

And to see the cool way of that nigger -- why, he wouldn't a give me the road if I hadn't shoved him out o' the way. I says to the people, why ain't this nigger put up at auction and sold? -- that's what I want to know. And what do you reckon they said? Why, they said he couldn't be sold till he'd been in the State six months, and he hadn't been there that long yet.

There, now -- that's a specimen. They call that a govment that can't sell a free nigger till he's been in the State six months. Here's a govment that calls itself a govment, and lets on to be a govment, and thinks it is a govment, and yet's got to set stock-still for six whole months before it can take a hold of a prowling, thieving, infernal, white-shirted free nigger, and.... "

They'll eat it and they'll like it

Alex C and Mr St Clair tell us: "Hillary has the support of the white working class." If so -- whither organized labor, amongst fears of an Obama class divide?

In the last successful uprising against the party machine, way back in 1972, the unfledged majority of McGovern's insurgent delegates, dancing about the convention floor in obscene triumph, caused then-union mogul George Meany to have, in the words of the immortal Hunter Thompson, "brain bubbles", and in the subsequent national race to the White House, the hapless McGovern ran largely sans big labor's helping hands and cash.

So how 'bout it -- will the suntanned ghost of RFK have a similar fate if nominated? I doubt it. For one thing, the Pope and the Zionists have long since left the house of labor to tend to its domestic pigeon droppings pretty much on its own -- such alas are the wages of senile-onset dwarfism -- and besides, the party machine wants a new look. And needs one, Lord knows.

Now if Obama didn't have his "fair share" of corporate friends -- why then -- even a union hard-on for him as impressive as Lyndon Johnson's legendary prick wouldn't be able to get him the nod.

Of course the really interesting question is, can Obama the gentleman from the state of Lincoln beat the white-flight votin' booth jinx?

Hey, why not -- I mean, fer Chrissake, all bad things must end, and at this point all this talk about Jesse in Wisconsin -- that hideous day in 1988 when exit poll samples and counted votes looked like they came from different universes -- well, to me, in today's traffic, that sounds like Simple-Simon style Hillary eyewash.

Basic fact: McCain '08 can't win even if he gets all the Paps in America to put aside their beer cans, march to the local place of election and pull the lever for a hundred-year war and a pink slip. Hanoi Johnny is no more going to win next fall than Barry G in 64.

Nice touch, Clio. Then it was the loony reactionary who was sacrificed by the vital corporate party center. This time it'll be the goony moderate, run out and off the plank by the spirited god-fearin' right rump


File this under "What -- ME worry?"


The lady Hillary's brainbug Mark Penn -- pictured here easing himself down onto a greased broomhandle -- the shrewd author, no doubt, of much golden goodness baked into her she-ness's campaign so far, has taken home a kool $4 mill plus -- for his outfit's efforts, including his own $1.7 million for "consulting".

Uncle Mark's outfit has also fronted mother Clinton's world-famous brand a further $1.5 mil.

February 13, 2008

The bitter end

It may be time to stop worrying about Hillary. Here's an act of despair:

Looks like Owen was right all along. Hillary is starting to look very passée. Deconstructing the Magic Negro seems to be the order of the day, now.

PS -- I found this so wacky I had to try to transcribe the lyrics. Unfortunately I never know what people are singing, so I'm indebted to Loveandlight for filling in several blanks:

Vote from sea to shining sea,
Everyone for Hillary!

Fighting in the war,
But we don't know what we're fighting for.
School we're testing minds,
But we're leaving our children all behind!

The world is getting hot,
But our global warming plan is not;
Our goals are out of range,
So we know it's time for a change!

Hillary for you and me
Bring back our democracy!
Make this country proud and free
Let's stand up for Hillary!

Now Hillary will fight
For what we all know is right.
Experience is great,
Instead of war we can negotiate!
Education, health and world affairs,
Hillary's the one who cares!
This lady knows how to lead,
In this President's race she will succeed! 

February 15, 2008

Venio, video, vinco

Couple of days ago we noted the deep pathos of Hillary Clinton's cheesy, low-rent theme song video. Now a helpful correspondent has sent along Obama's version:

In every technical and aesthetic sense Obama's is much better, of course. One begins to see why younger people are more likely to be Obamaniacs than Hillarians: his campaign has an infinitely better grasp of current product-moving idioms. People like what they know, bless 'em.

But it's a little disturbing too. I still have, here at home, a prototype Fasc-O-Meter®, and once I'd changed the batteries and blown the dust out of the cooling fan, it registered a very alarming 58.5 when I pointed it at the Obama video.

The incantatory repetition of a floating-signifier slogan ("yes we can"). Regular folks fervently echoing the Great Leader's phrases. "A president who chose the Moon as our new frontier -- a King who took us to the mountaintop" -- hold everything, I thought Leni Riefenstahl was dead?

February 16, 2008

Straws in the wind

Nadergram: Ralph teams up with Patti Smith! (No relation to our fearless skipper -- at least I think not).

"Poet, musician, and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Patti Smith and citizen activist Ralph Nader have for years used music and words to promote action-for a change. And we've just come across a remarkable newly released DVD. It's called-Awake From Your Slumber."
Will this bring the big cat out of her den? Imagine this finale: St Hill off the turnbuckle into the pelvis of Patti -- yikes, what a show.

For comparison purposes, here are some other musicians' picks:


Mike Huckabee: Ted Nugent

John McCain: Burt Bacharach

Ron Paul: Krist Novoselic, Arlo Guthrie

Mitt Romney: Pat Boone, Donny Osmond, Marie Osmond

Hillary Clinton: Madonna, Carly Simon, Tony Bennett, Jon Bon Jovi, Melissa Etheridge, Carole King, Janet Jackson, Quincy Jones, 50 Cent, Mya, Timbaland, Barbra Streisand, Merle Haggard

Barack Obama: Babyface, the Goo Goo Dolls, Macy Gray, Ne-Yo, Will Smith, Usher, Stevie Wonder, Harry Connick Jr., Pete Wentz, Win Butler, will.i.am/the Black Eyed Peas, the Grateful Dead, Jeff Tweedy, Conor Oberst, Joanna Newsom, the Cool Kids, Stephan Jenkins, OK Go, Shudder to Think, Dave Matthews, Pearl Jam

February 17, 2008

The Drones Club

Don't let it be said that we never report good news here at SMBIVA. Stephen Spielberg has withdrawn his "artistic" advice from the Peking Olympics; he's pissed that the Chinese haven't kowtowed to the current Israeli-humanitarian moral panic over Darfur.

Okay, okay, it's not completelygood news. It's yet another Hollywood useful idiot staggering off stiff-legged and zombie-like on a mission from Mount Zion, whence notoriously the word goeth forth. That's the bad part. The good part is that it may be possible to watch the Olympics after all without risking projectile emesis.

The Lobby has signed up quite a few nice-looking airheads, it seems, for this righteous Darfur campaign: there's Mia Farrow and George Clooney, among others. Really, one wishes the days of Childrens' Crusades and St Theresa were not past. How I would love to see these earnest folk trooping away to Sudan in nicely-tailored camos, to put their hide where their mouth is.

February 20, 2008

Principalities and Powers

Whither der Barack's Sudweltpolitik? Behold one pair of eyes and ears in Obie's global vision system, the demitasse glamghoul Samantha Power:

Samantha Power pinup

A kinder, gentler -- Condi?

To help guess at the shape of things to come in Obam-America, vigilante Tim D offers us this choice prefigurative find


It's a spirited defense of conventional imperial wisdom against the onslaughts of one... Noam Chomsky. Sample:

For Chomsky, the world is divided into oppressor and oppressed. America, the prime oppressor, can do no right, while the sins of those categorized as oppressed receive scant mention. Because he deems American foreign policy inherently violent and expansionist, he is unconcerned with the motives behind particular policies, or the ethics of particular individuals in government. And since he considers the United States the leading terrorist state, little distinguishes American air strikes in Serbia undertaken at night with high-precision weaponry from World Trade Center attacks timed to maximize the number of office workers who have just sat down with their morning coffee.

It is inconceivable, in Chomsky's view, that American power could be harnessed for good. Thus, the billions of dollars in foreign aid earmarked each year for disaster relief, schools, famine prevention, AIDS treatment, etc. -- and the interventions in Kosovo and East Timor -- have to be explained away.

Guided by a quick read, I might suggest that its restrained Ivy-league style of Chomsky-bashing on behalf of Uncle Hegemon's interventions may demonstrate she's just the gal for all those soft but still rainy seasons ahead.

February 22, 2008

"Substantive differences"

Wish I Had Written That Department:


The candidates themselves think that their positions on health care are, as Obama said last night, “substantively different.” Indeed. Clinton’s plan makes people who are unemployed or don’t receive insurance from their employers buy government insurance that they can’t afford so that they can pay copays they can’t afford so that they can maybe eventually receive care from a doctor. Obama wouldn’t make people buy government insurance and take on the burden of premiums and copays, but if they don’t and they show up at an emergency room to receive treatment, they will be fined, severely, as he made clear last night. These are the politics that are inspiring such great passion among Democrats this year.

Remembering Roman Hruska

This crossed my e-desk today:

They were the kind of kids companies fall over each other trying to hire--smart, personable, hardworking, well-groomed. That they went to Harvard didn't hurt, either. So it was no surprise that by April, most of the seniors in the discussion sections I was leading as a graduate student had jobs lined up after graduation. Nor was the roster of firms: Arthur Andersen, IBM, Morgan Stanley, CBS, Aetna . . . the usual suspects. What was strange was that one company--the country's biggest, in fact--didn't make the list: the federal government.....

If government is to meet our basic expectations, let alone go beyond that to better our lives, it needs creative, intelligent, dedicated people to develop and run its programs.

Man, that's all we need, isn't it? -- more hypercompetent, overachieving bright young sparks from the Ivies in government. As if the US government weren't menace enough already.

Back when Dick Nixon was trying to get the schlubby G Harrold Carswell onto the Supreme Court, the immortal Roman Hruska defended the Presidential choice: "So what if he is mediocre? There are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they? We can't have all Brandeises, Cardozos, and Frankfurters and stuff like that there."

At the time I laughed as loud as everybody else about this, but with maturity comes the intimation that maybe Hruska was onto something. Thought experiment: would we be worse off, or better than we are now, if the members of the Supreme Court and the Congress were chosen by lottery? Show your work.


Lord, how I love it when somebody torches a US embassy -- or even tries. Here's to the Serbs.

February 23, 2008

Down with the sheepskin

Generalissimo Max von Soundoff here.

We the rubes and flatlanders gotta get off our rumples and demand an end to this Mister Higher Ed steeplechase racket. Go after 'em in Uncle's courts!

we need a groundswell movement -- end all virtual higher ed gauntlets. Let's refuse to fill out that section of the app, and then sue when they don't hire us. Or just sue if they say a college degree is a requirement. Or or or....

Self-evident axiom: it's discrimination to screen job applications for irrelevant years of schooling and degrees, unless direct job requirements can be demonstrated to include XYZ higher school-taught horsefeathers -- and we all know anything picked up past 6th grade, 9 out of 10 times, don't matter a cold French fry one way or the other.

February 24, 2008

Sir David Rotifer

Read this one, fans -- flabby-brained netscamp David Sirota's cri de coeur to his Kosniki mates: "don't hate me -- just 'cause I made it big in the MSM."

Seems every time Davie posts anything now at Daily Kos, a small group of very vitriolic and very angry people personally attack him -- and well, it "confuses" and "hurts" the poor pwoggie lambkins. After all, "youse is s'posed to be my loyal fan base, guys and gals!"



Lexicostatistical note from the editor: Sirota's plaint contained a hefty 2425 words, of which 159, or 7%, were various forms of the first person singular pronoun.

I could hardly fail to disagree with you more

One of my left-wing mailing lists has enjoyed, over the last few days, a little dust-up started by a Pseudonymus -- let's call him Panting Hart, since even a nom de reseau deserves some consideration when you see it on a mailing list. Hart, a deeply Marxist individual, has nevertheless recently become an apostle for Barack Obama to the lost sheep of the Left.

Perhaps Hart is being ironical -- it's so hard to tell in email. I'd like to believe that. In any case, he recently posted a line of argument to the effect that Barack would be less severe than Hillary on the hapless folk of the Third World, particularly the long-suffering Persians. His evidence? Barack evaded voting for the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which infamously declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a "terrorist" organization. (Hillary, as every schoolboy and most schoolgirls know, voted for it, in a characteristic display of abject slavishness to the Israel lobby. Barack apparently got a pass and was able to avoid voting one way or the other.)

Developing his argument, Hart wrote:

I think there is some evidence that in spite of his rejection of Kyl-Lieberman, Obama may not provide any more resistance to this most dangerous doctrine than Hillary would. But we should not take a chance that his rejection of Kyl Lieberman does not make a difference.
"We should not take a chance that [Obama won't] make a difference." Is that dizzying, or what? Sincere or not, it's the authentic note of lesser-evillism taken to its logical conclusion -- a museum specimen of the gnarled logic and tortured syntax that a DP apologist has to deploy.

We can get over the problematic syntax by re-factoring the sentence: There is a tiny possibility that Barack might be a tiny bit less awful for the poor Persians than Hillary, and we must allow this tiny possibility of a tiny difference to trump all other considerations.

Personally, I don't believe even in the tiny possibility. But let's allow Hart to grasp his conjectural straw.

Suppose we applied this kind of reasoning in daily life. We'd have to wear a bicycle helmet every time we went out the door, or for that matter every time we went to the toilet -- because there is, after all, a small possibility that we might slip and fall, and another small possibility that if we did, the helmet might mitigate our injuries.

Quite apart from the contrived and speculative character of this argument, it's at least equally impressive for its poltroonery. Fear of even the smallest and least likely adverse consequence is supposed to rule our thinking. A chimaera might some day buzz in a void, and if it did, might it not eat us? Or somebody? Or something? Take no risks!

Then of course there's the inversion of the null hypothesis: Hart doesn't have to prove that Yeti exists -- it's for us nonbelievers to prove that he doesn't exist.

Amazing, how many nutty presuppositions you can find packed into a single sentence. This is perhaps the great gift of the Democratic Party to humankind -- a comprehensive, encyclopedic, Barnum's freak show of thought disorders.

Which way to the egress?


Mike Flugennock writes:
Hallelujah! Let the liberal pants-shitting begin!

Nader announces on "Meet The Press".

Tim Russet...uh, Russert asks same old predictable lame-ass questions re: why are the last six years' deterioration in the US Govt not his fault.

Nader swats him like a fly. Whap!

Phew...what's that smell?

February 25, 2008

The new Tom Lantos...

... seems to be Jackie Speier here, who had a brief moment of national fame in '78, as an aide to grandstanding California congressman Leo Ryan when he went to "investigate" Jonestown -- a legislative intervention which ended even more badly than most.

Since Jonestown, she has had a solid, steady career in California local politics.

Before Lantos departed for that great photo-op in the sky, he anointed Speier as his successor. Perhaps it's not even necessary to say more -- for any person of sense, that should be condemnation enough. But of course the devil is always in the details. What's Ms Speier all about? Anybody know?

Act Responsibly: Don’t Vote!

This delightful link was passed along by a helpful colleague:


Act Responsibly: Don’t Vote! That’s not a bumper sticker you’re likely to see in coming weeks. Instead the ballot will be revered like a religious object and voting will be declared a duty. But what if the ballot is just one more government form to fill out? What if the most politically powerful act is to say "no" by tearing the form in half?

This November, most people won’t "do it" in the voting booth despite attempts to shame them. They will spend the time on activities that enrich their lives: buying groceries, playing with children, catching up on work....

If war itself can’t motivate people to put a checkmark in a box, it is time to consider non-voting from a radically different perspective. Maybe non-voters are right. After all, if most people refuse to buy a product with which they’re acquainted, do you blame them or the product? ...Voting is not an act of political freedom. It is an act of political conformity. Those who refuse to vote are not expressing silence. They are screaming in the politician’s ear: "You do not represent me. This is not a process in which my voice matters. I do not believe you."

Couldn't have said it better myself -- or half as well, come to think of it.

Kosniks chewing the carpet -- again

Ralph Nader's welcome announcement for the Presidency has predictably thrown the Daily Kos crowd into a frenzy:



The interesting thing about the Kos response -- and the conventional-wisdom pwog response in general -- is that it takes two contradictory lines of argument, often in the same post, and even in the same sentence:

1) Nader's campaign is silly, because he won't get any votes.

2) Nader's campaign is "irresponsible" because he might -- yet again -- spoil things for the Democrats.

I wasn't on the scene at all, yer Honor! And besides, it was an accident -- and the other fella started it!

February 27, 2008

Pleasure Island

Deep structure question for today: will Pinocchio's almost-fate be Obama's too? Something about his ears puts me in mind of the early onset -- of the fearful morph through wayward boys-will-be-boys naughty line-crossing acts of licentious self-indulgence.

Will a Whitehoused Barack (the ultimo pleasure island gig) grow a tail -- lose his command of language -- fall down upon all fours, and just bray away night and day like a complete jackass?


I have Zinned

I'm not usually a huge fan of Howard Zinn -- this subject has arisen here before -- but a kind reader just sent this along:


Today, we can be sure that the Democratic Party, unless it faces a popular upsurge, will not move off center. The two leading Presidential candidates have made it clear that if elected, they will not bring an immediate end to the Iraq War, or institute a system of free health care for all....

None of this should surprise us. The Democratic Party has broken with its historic conservatism, its pandering to the rich, its predilection for war, only when it has encountered rebellion from below, as in the Thirties and the Sixties....

So we need to free ourselves from the election madness engulfing the entire society, including the left.

Well, day-umm, I thought, that's pretty strong stuff, and right on target. So I went and read the whole thing. Bit of a mistake:
...I’m not taking some ultra-left position that elections are totally insignificant, and that we should refuse to vote to preserve our moral purity. Yes, there are candidates who are somewhat better than others, and at certain times of national crisis (the Thirties, for instance, or right now) where even a slight difference between the two parties may be a matter of life and death.

I’m talking about a sense of proportion that gets lost in the election madness. Would I support one candidate against another? Yes, for two minutes—the amount of time it takes to pull the lever down in the voting booth.

Sigh. How long, O Lord, how long?

You say you want a revoluti-o-o-on


Imagine this nightmare: while wondering whither goeth sixpack America, you fall into the coils of -- Crane Brinton.

Well, it happened to one Sara Robinson, and she struggled free only after crying "revolution".

Briefly: the seven Brintonian axes of upheaval, as rerendered by Sara R:

1) "A long period of rising living standards and high, hopeful expectations comes to a crashing end, leaving the citizens in an ugly and disgruntled mood."

2) "The upper classes broke faith with society's other groups, and began to openly prey on them in ways that threatened their very future. Not surprisingly, the other groups soon united, took up arms, and rebelled."

3) "Disaffected intellectuals make common cause with the lower classes."

4) "Atrocious government malfeasance in the face of precipitously declining fortunes."

5) "The ruling classes fail in their duty to lead."

6) "Inept and corrupt governments mismanage the national economy to the point of indebtedness, bankruptcy, and currency collapse."

7) "The government no longer exercises force in a way that people find fair or consistent."

Would it were so easy! Old systems would be collapsing all around us, right and left and center. The planet would be filthy with state failures. Russia, circa 95, would be the bedeviled norm.

Hey -- sounds exciting!

February 28, 2008

Saddle up, Rough Rider

St Hill -- blessed scared gal martyr of the media -- may take her implausible posse of masochist geeks, race-cracked Latinos, and white lady junk jobblers to wins in both biggees next Tuesday. A loud win, maybe even a soft win, for Mother Courage in Ohio and Texas would put some nice slithery egg on a lot of shameless big-media pundits -- but then what?

Obviously party poohbah-sponsored polling will continue till the convention in a frank -- desperate even -- attempt to measure the black face in the white house effect -- measure it, and slice it up by gender, ethnicity, and region.

Needless to add, the media will echo these plumbings in its own ongoing serial of stick figure passion chapters -- and, speaking of that Abaddon of our social conscience, the main stream media, let us not forget that those pricks can turn on a dime. A sudden flock fuck of the Illinois messiah could come at any moment. And of course none of this will be easy to navigate, given the juicy rage of the house-doomed masses, and and and....

To sum up, or no, to turn the channel -- I'm looking to the man from the Hanoi Hilton to cheer me up this spring and summer.

Okay, its projection, but I see a TR thing he might get goin', a genteel ruffian bit. I know his family's long and august military lineage isn't exactly oyster bay material -- but it gives him a pedigree, of sorts.

When I was in prep school, we got fed (along with generous helpings of Xmas Dickens and an oddly jut-jawed St Paul) a steady diet of four twentieth-century men we homophobic self-abusing haute-burger boy inmates ought to honor and emulate: Winston Churchill, Robert Frost, Ernest Hemingway and... Teddy Roosevelt.

Now McCain might just make a fun Roosevelt avataricle. In fact the republicans might have nothing but Teddy remakes for us, now that the raw money wing of the grand ole party has to regroup for a spell after the latest plutocrats' trick or treating rampage. (Needless to note, unlike TR's type of bloody minded arms industry bellocosity, the party's other wing, the 12 tribes of Jesus junkies, is no substitute for common oil-patch greed.)

So, mad white America might just try on this ancient maverick's Teddy rendition. And hey, he's bound to die in office anyway.

A question of competence


ACLU calls out US over 'absurd bloating' of terror watch list

More that 900,000 people are currently listed as suspected terrorists on the US government's "do not fly" list, and that number will grow to beyond 1 million by summer, says the American Civil Liberties Union.

"If there were a million terrorists in this country, our cities would be in ruins," Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU's Technology and Liberty Program, stated in a press release from the group. "The absurd bloating of the terrorist watch lists is yet another example of how incompetence by our security apparatus threatens our rights without offering any real security."

"....Homeland Security's handling of the watch lists is typical of this administration's blundering approach to the war on terror," said ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel Tim Sparapani.

This is reagent-quality liberalism, isn't it? All the totalitarian premises are explicitly endorsed -- the dire threat of "terrorists", the legitimacy of a "war on terror", the need for a "watch list". In fact the only problem with the secret police is that they're incompetently managed. Liberals would run the Inquisition much better.

About February 2008

This page contains all entries posted to Stop Me Before I Vote Again in February 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

January 2008 is the previous archive.

March 2008 is the next archive.

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

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