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August 2008 Archives

August 1, 2008

Confusion of tongues

The presidential campaign has become so vacuous and involuted that people attempting to talk about it are starting to emit word-salad. Here's an indecipherable sample from The Note:

And forget the race card: Top McCain aide Steve Schmidt plays the Clinton card. "We have waited for months with a sick feeling knowing this moment would come because we watched it incur with President Clinton. Say whatever you want about President Clinton, his record on this issue is above reproach," Schmidt tells the Times....

At least one prominent Democrat plays the McCain card in response: "What they did to McCain in 2000 is what McCain's trying to do to Barack Obama in 2008," Dick Harpootlian, a former South Carolina Democratic chairman, tells the Los Angeles Times' Mark Z. Barabak and Nicholas Riccardi.

What on earth are these people talking about? And tell me again -- why are we supposed to care?

August 2, 2008

Abada abada abada...

Interesting. The normally very eloquent and collected Obama reduced to stammering incoherence by a young black guy in Florida:

Guy can easily handle anything white folks can throw at him. But this particular barb seems to have hit a tender spot. Maybe he's more human than he appears to be.

August 3, 2008

An open letter from Barack Obama

Forwarded by a helpful comrade. Excerpts:

Dear friends on the left,

Hobgoblins, small minds and stupid consistency go together, as Locke reminded us, so I suppose it shouldn't have come as a surprise that a cast of "progressive leaders" has again assembled locust-like at the waning stages of the electoral cycle to "urge me to listen to the voice of the people" and not "to retreat from the stands that have been the signature of (my) campaign."

... For example, I am claimed to have professed a commitment to "universal health care." May I remind you that even in the primary debates, where one might have expected some attention to the grassroots base of the party, I explicitly and boldly rejected universal health care. The latter was associated with my opponent Mrs. Clinton and while neither of us has any intention of addressing the root of the health care crisis, namely the for-profit health care insurance industry which has funded both of our campaigns lavishly, my "solution" as Paul Krugman noted at the time was well to the right of that of the DLC's initial choice of candidate.

It does not escape my notice, incidentally, that your communiqué fails to even mention the health care delivery system which you, and most Americans for that matter, support, namely single payer. I take this as a validation of what is perhaps the primary function of my campaign: to extract from the realm of the possible and consign to the realm of the unthinkable and the unutterable what is for most of the civilized world economic common sense and common moral decency. I am happy to report that your letter is a strong indication of my success in having achieved this transformation, one which, as Adolph Reed has written, amounts to nothing less than the functional eradication of the left.

Thus, to take another indication, while you have yet to notice it, so too into the Orwellian memory hole has gone the hope that our nation will "shed its warlike stance around the globe and focus on diplomacy" as a means of resolving conflicts. Allow me to direct you to my website where I call for 92,000 new troops, the redeployment of those soldiers removed from Iraq to an intensified conflict in Afghanistan-and possibly Pakistan. Also included in most of my recent foreign policy addresses are calls for unilateral action against governments suspected of support for terrorism not to mention my repeated threats against Iran and Venezuela.

Also consigned to the realm of far-left fantasy is "an environmental policy that transforms the economy by shifting billions of dollars from the consumption of fossil fuels to alternative energy sources". In his previous capacity as chief lobbyist for energy giant Exelon, my campaign manager David Axelrod has spoken eloquently of the need to ramp up the construction of nuclear power plants. That's what I mean by "alternative" and please rest assured that Mr. Axelrod will serve as a strong voice for this "alternative" in my administration. i will also invest in "alternative energy" through continuing subsidies to corn based ethanol, in so doing securing payback to the farm behemoth Archer Daniels Midland for having bankrolled my campaign at the crucial initial stages. Another "alternative energy source" embraced by me is "clean coal" and the industry which helped me ascend to the first rungs of the political ladder in Illinois.

... And then you wake up, as my wife likes to say.

And when you do wake up, you will realize that you are left with one option: "challenging" me. But please bear in mind that with the new surveillance capacities which I authorized as Senator and which will be available to me as President, challenging the executive branch is no longer the fun and games it was in the past. I have, of course, no intention of revealing sources and methods, but for the moment let's just say that I know what you had for breakfast this morning.

That said, you may rest assured it is quite unlikely that I will need to exercise these powers for any purposes beyond my own personal amusement.

For indeed I, and the corporate executives, white shoe law firms, big money lobbyists and their numerous apologists are in your debt for having led so many leftists into the abattoir which is my campaign. The movement which only a few years ago assembled millions in the streets of Manhattan, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and other cities is in shambles-unable to organize a gathering beyond a few old timers at a street corner, let alone the kind of action which might actually cause me and my base to take notice.

There is no need for a howitzer when the tiniest fly swatter will do quite nicely against the political force which you now represent.

And so in conclusion allow me to cite the deathless interrogatory of Clint Eastwood which applies not just to my campaign but which is routinely appealed to, consciously or not, by all politicians of any stripe:

"What are you going to do about it, Punk?"

Given that, for the past generation, you have repeatedly hoisted the white flag before the battle even began, the smart money is on your doing absolutely nothing.

Warmest Regards,


August 4, 2008

Studies in iconography

A helpful correspondent writes:
Have you seen the MoveOn ad on Comedy Central: various talking heads (in front of a white Apple-style background) confess to what would initially appear to be a major peccadillo (e.g., drug use) but then it turns out they are confessing to "hope." It ends with a "your mind on hope" chick (literal chick cheeping--I forget the name of the comedian actor holding the chick).
"Apple-style background" is well-observed, I think. Obama marketing and Apple marketing do seem to have a lot in common stylistically. There's an essay somebody with a better visual sense than mine ought to write.

Being more word-oriented myself, I noticed the usual Obamacult rhetorical style, with its hypnotically rhythmic repetition of a floating signifier -- "hope", of course, in this case. One senses that it would be very uncool to ask "hope for what, exactly?"

But that's the kind of dreary literal-minded pedantic guy I am; and for the same reason my attention was particularly arrested by this line:

For eight years we all thought it was gone. But now it's back. Hope.
Leaving aside the fact that these characters were children eight years ago: The implication is that the "hope" shortage is a quite recent development, due entirely to the terrible Bush & Co.

Here we see beautifully illustrated the systematic historical amnesia that's both a prerequisite and a core product of Democratic Party cultists like MoveOn. The ghastly Clinton years are retrospectively re-imagined as a rosy time when the very rivers ran with "hope."

But MoveOn has unintentionally told an important truth in this line. "Now it's back" -- after eight years. Let's see -- what went away eight years ago, and will be coming back now, besides "hope"? Why, Clintonism: which can be crisply defined as Bushism wearing, like Bottom in the play, a donkey's head. Bushism is frank about the goals of corporate hegemony, global empire, and the Third-Worldization of the home front; the difference from Clintonism is that Clintonism is less candid about the same goals.

So thanks, MoveOn, for letting the cat out of the bag, and telling us what we can really "hope" for: a slimmer, hipper, iPod-savvy Bill Clinton.

Off to see the wizard

I recently paid a long-deferred visit to the Obanomics page at this world-historical man's site.

The preamble, as noted elsewhere, has its charm. If you happen to find yourself running a Cantonese takeout somewhere in the bowels of middle America, passing out bags of deep-fried death on the installment plan, it might read like notes from the sunny side of Dream Street.

“I believe that America's free market has been the engine of America's great progress. It's created a prosperity that is the envy of the world. It's led to a standard of living unmatched in history. And it has provided great rewards to the innovators and risk-takers who have made America a beacon for science, and technology, and discovery…We are all in this together. From CEOs to shareholders, from financiers to factory workers, we all have a stake in each other's success because the more Americans prosper, the more America prospers.”
Then there's "Barack Obama's Plan to Jumpstart the Economy," which comes in four bullet points. Though it's aimed at the right sorta folks, and weighs in at $50 billion, its about twenty times too small to amount to a hope-tribe fulfillment:
  • Provide Additional Tax Rebates to American Workers:. Stimulus: $20 billion.
  • Establish a $10 billion Foreclosure Prevention Fund: Stimulus: $10 billion.
  • Relief for State and Local Governments Hardest-Hit by the Housing Crisis: Stimulus: $10 billion.
  • Extend and Expand Unemployment Insurance:. Stimulus: $10 billion.
Tax relief? Instead of a massive payroll tax rebate, he'll "cut income taxes by $1,000 for working families" to offset payroll taxes instead -- i.e., hammer one more nail in the coffin of the progressive income tax, while in substance increasing the tax burden share of paycheck America. Monstrous.
"Obama believes that trade with foreign nations should strengthen the American economy and create more American jobs"
How? Not by busting the oiler/Asian forex cartel, that's for sure. Instead, "He will stand firm against agreements that undermine our economic security.... use trade agreements to spread good labor and environmental standards around the world..." Since he knows that's a paper-tiger move, he'll also "update the existing system of Trade Adjustment Assistance." Bigger, better collision mats.

Oh, he's gonna create 5 million new clean and green jobs in "manufacturing" -- where we need prolly 15 million just as a starter.

Crumbling infrastructure? He's going to out-Hoover Herbert himself. He'll "create a national infrastructure reinvestment bank" -- that is, he'll add another potential crumbling financial institution -- another Freddie or Fannie -- to infuse funds into our great national transportation rebuild. At what rate, you ask? $6 billion a year. That won't even pay for the orange cones on the interstate.

Oh it goes on. Jobs get created, like gamma babies in Huxley world. It's gonna rain jobs, folks, rain 'em -- good ones, high-pay secure ones, fulfilling ones!

Speaking of incubators: how's this sound, Mr and Ms Startup: "a National Network of Public-Private Business Incubators". Okay, not for take-out joints but -- you got a breakthrough product up your sleeve?


"Obama will strengthen the ability of workers to organize unions. He will fight for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. Obama will ensure that his labor appointees support workers' rights and will work to ban the permanent replacement of striking workers. Obama will also increase the minimum wage and index it to inflation to ensure it rises every year."

Good luck, Babar.

The hits just keep on coming:

  • "Obama will crack down on fraudulent brokers and lenders"
  • "Address Predatory Credit Card Practices"
  • "establish a five-star rating system"
  • "Reform Bankruptcy Laws" (A final right cross to the chin of Mr Potters everywhere?)
  • "Consolidate... the American family"
  • "High-Quality Afterschool Opportunities -- "
Oh man oh man -- do we have to get this guy into the White House, or what?

August 5, 2008

Fairy dust

I've really come to depend on my lefty mailing lists. Here's a rather pleasing sequence from lbo-talk. The opening salvo:

Obama: I'd guarantee $4 billion to retool auto industry
A safety net for automakers picks up steam

[Obama] called for $4 billion in guaranteed loans and tax credits to help U.S. automakers retool for more fuel-efficient cars and to develop batteries for plug-in hybrids that get up to 150 m.p.g. The new breed of automobiles would fetch a $7,000 federal tax credit for buyers.

Doug Henwood, who has a good head for numbers, responds:
> Obama: I'd guarantee $4 billion to retool auto industry  

That's very nice of him, but GM has lost $47 billion over the last  
year; Ford, $12 billion. So $4 billion would cover about three and a  
half weeks of their losses.

Doug doesn't seem to have been as struck as I was at the notion that the taxpayers should pay people to buy new cars. But hey, you can't have everything. And the best is yet to come, from another contributor to the list:

This reminds me of something Louis Menand said in the NYRB in 1997 about Clinton (and Washington politics in general):


In a speech in San Francisco last month, President Clinton announced three new urban initiatives. First, the Department of Housing and Urban Development will offer a 50 percent discount to police officers who buy homes owned by the department in neighborhoods they patrol. The program is designed to reach one thousand police officers. It will last one year. The second is a reduction in the points on Federal Housing Administration mortgages, from 1.75 percent to 1.5 percent, for first-time home buyers in inner cities. This program is expected to save twenty thousand eligible buyers about $200 each in closing costs. The third initiative is a demonstration program that will allow up to two thousand families to use federal rent subsidy money to buy their own homes.

This is the style of governance that has been adopted by a country that has the strongest economy in the world, has enjoyed five years of sustained growth [1997, remember -- Ed.], confronts no immediate threat to its security, and has almost completely lost its faith in public works. This style is not neoliberalism or neoconservatism, whatever those terms mean. It is something different, a kind of Government Lite. We want to improve conditions in depressed urban areas, so we show our good intentions by sprinkling a handful of federal fairy dust over them.

The whole thing is well worth reading. Obama: Son Of Clinton!

August 7, 2008

Hoover's work is never done -- or is it?

The other day I was arrested -- not literally, as we have to note these days, but metaphorically -- by a line from the faux-Barack backhand rebuke Father Smiff passed along to all us anti-hope croakers here on the pwog pond. It comes after a supple gesture toward the new enhanced donkey-senate consensualized surveillence powers of the imperial presidency; and it comes in passing, playfully:

"You may rest assured it is quite unlikely that I will need to exercise these powers for any purposes beyond my own personal amusement"

With that, the muggish look of the cold war's eminence-butch flashed inside my head -- attached, with Hume-ean swift succession, to a passage from a now culturally misplaced magnum opus: The American inquisition:1946-1960, by the late great and now almost memory-holed Cedric Belfrage:

"In his first 40 years [Hoover] paid the Communist Party his highest compliment by concentrating his forces upon it -- for if he knew little else, he understood that the threat lay where there were organization and strategic experience."

So long as the grand old red-headed party had hooks into both the brain and brawn of America, factories and colleges alike, iron-knuckled rough-traders like Hoover worked every switch in sight, day and night, to shock 'em senseless.

I wonder if, in his declining years, this darkest of dark crossdressers felt at peace with his homeland. He had his former shadow-faced frontman glowering back defiantly at the trendies, Scotch in hand, from the White House balcony; and there seemed to be enough hard hats ready to hit the streets and bash up the Joe College furry freak fuzzers -- or not?

Even after his great triumph over the likes of Bill Foster and Harry Bridges, was he still quivering atop his high heels -- quivering with foreboding and sclerotic rage at the rising spectre of... Noam Chomsky?

Sulking in the tent

Mike Flugennock passed along this wonderful tidbit from Time magazine:

... if Hillary Clinton's feelings are still bruised, her husband's are positively raw. The former President is particularly resentful of suggestions—which he believes were fueled by the Obama camp—that he attempted to play upon racial fears during the primaries.... a friend of Bill Clinton's [says] "...the race stuff really left a bad taste in his mouth."

Bill Clinton's resentment came through in an interview with ABC News during his recent trip to Africa. Asked what regrets he might have about his role in his wife's campaign, he bristled and then shot back, "I am not a racist. I never made a racist comment."

He struggled to render [sc. "make" -- ed.] a positive comment about Obama's qualifications for his old job. "You could argue that nobody is ever ready to be President.... I never said he wasn't qualified. The Constitution sets qualification for the President. And then the people decide who they think would be the better President. I think we have two choices. I think he should win, and I think he will win."

Wonderful stuff. Bill espouses the lesser-evil theory -- Obama is clearly a son of a bitch, as far as he's concerned, but marginally better than the other son of a bitch. Sorta. Kinda. Maybe.

But that's as much as Bill can say! Jeez, man, any Kosnik could do that! You're a leader of the Party, aren't you, dude? You're not supposed to be reluctantly yielding to the spell -- you're supposed to be casting it! As Prosperos go, you're being strangely half-hearted. Abra. Cadabra. I guess. Or... whatever.

Bill has inadvertently shown us -- not that he could care, any more, what we know or what we don't(*) -- that the Democratic Party is all about jobs. I don't of course mean jobs for regular folks with a mortgage or a rent bill; I mean jobs for high-flying overachievers like Bill and Hill....

...Or Barack and Michelle, if it comes to that.

Much has been made of Michelle's unguarded comment last winter that "for the first time in her adult life", she was "proud of America."

Qiute apart from its tactlessness -- for a Presidential candidate's consort -- one has to ask, was there nothing to be proud of before? Like, for example, the Emancipation Proclamation, or the Selma march? On the other hand -- is there still not a great deal to be ashamed of?

But what matters is none of that. Michelle and Barack now have a shot at the top job -- so now they can be proud.

Michelle, poor dear, spoke from the heart. She will learn, like Hillary, not to do that any more. The last time Hillary did it was the famous "bake cookies" comment.

One couple has more experience than the other. But they're siblings under the skin. Michelle is finally "proud" because her man is almost at the top of the heap -- and Bill is all bummed and truculent because his lady isn't.


(*) "I got mine. You get yours." -- Richard Pryor, RIP.

August 8, 2008

All hail Obama Caesar

According to The Note:

Obamaland wants a nomination by acclimation, not by roll call -- something that hasn't happened since LBJ claimed the nomination in a party still reeling from JFK's death, in 1964.
Meanwhile, Hill & Bill want a token vote with Hill's name in nomination. This is supposed to be very meaningful for Hillary's supporters -- and maybe it is at that, poor devils.

How sharper than a serpent's tooth

The delightful image above is, as I write, on Nancy Pelosi's Web site. I've saved it in case it vanishes, as I daresay it will, now that:

...thanks to the outpouring of support from volunteers all across the San Francisco Bay Area, the petitioning teams were able to gather the signatures required to place a truly independent and fighting candidate for the people on the ballot in the 8th District of San Francisco.

At 1:17 p.m. today, the Department of Elections certified officially that Cindy is on the ballot!

What a picture, huh? That deer-in-the-headlights look on Pelosi -- Sheehan's strange contrapposto, trying to look chummy for the camera but visibly shrinking as from some loathesome reptile. Quite right, too.

I never give money to political campaigns, but, you know, a foolish consistency and all that... I sent ole Cindy a check. If it gives Pelosi even half a second more insomnia, I'll consider it money well spent.

August 11, 2008

Good old Harry Truman

63 years ago last Saturday, the US army air force committed a wild senseles atrocity -- it dropped a second A-bomb on Japan. You might say the first one was the last act of the old era, and the second one was the first act of the new. Our world entered the era of American hegemony -- and saw how America was willing to enforce it. That era has far from run its course.

Why'd they drop the second one? They had only three to begin with. They were hard to make and time-consuming back then. We tested one, leaving two. Wouldn't want to waste it. So we dropped 'em both.

Obviously no point made by the first drop needed the reinforcement of the second, other than maybe this point: we're willing to kill the innocent, and kill them massively, even without the remotest purpose.

That second bomb drop casts the proper light on the first. Neither could have been dropped for the reasons presented in the official narrative, or the second bomb would never have been dropped. We only stopped because we ran out of bombs.

'Bama baits the bear

The Great Game is afoot again in the Caucasus -- when did it ever stop, really? -- and Obama, though a late pick, is valiantly scrambling to keep up.

McCain, an old Cold War veteran, beat Barry to the punch with a chest-thumping line of bluster: Russia's quick and (it seems) highly effective response to that fool Saakashvili's adventure in South Ossetia runs the risk of "serious negative consequences", or some such, to Russia's relations with the US and... Europe!

(Is McCain also running for president of Europe? Do you have to ask? Do the Europeans get a vote? Same answer.)

Some guy at Daily Kos thought Barry would do better:

Obama, as a force of reason, will more likely deal with the complexity and reality of the situation, and will thus be completely marginalized (in the Cheney/Bush/Rove/neocon mindset).
It's tempting to follow up this idea that Obama is a "voice of reason." Reason? He's entirely a voice of feeling, as far as anybody can tell. And our Kosnik also thinks that the South Ossetia brouhaha was contrived by the present US administration solely with reference to the upcoming election: for him, it goes without saying that an American presidential election is the hub of the universe.

But let's rein ourselves in here, avoid these interesting side trails, and keep following the story line. Here's Barry's actual response -- not quite what our Kosnik was hoping for, I fear:

... [T]he situation in Georgia.... continues to deteriorate because of Russia’s escalation of the use of military force... No matter how this conflict started, Russia has escalated it well beyond the dispute over South Ossetia.... The Georgian government has proposed a cease-fire and the Russian government should accept it.
(The Georgian government has proposed a cease-fire because they are -- not surprisingly -- getting their asses kicked.)
This is a clear violation of the sovereignty and internationally recognized borders of Georgia.... [We should] review multilateral and bilateral arrangements with Russia, including Russia’s interest in joining the World Trade Organization.
He even drags in the "Olympic ideal" -- how terrible that Russia should harsh our mellow during the Olympics!

The whole thing is well worth reading, and thoroughly vomitous. For the first time, I'm starting to think that the wrinkly white guy might actually have a shot. Wouldn't that be a hoot?

August 12, 2008

Predictable as the monsoon season

Bound to happen, right? Zbigniew "Not dead yet" Brzezinski, one of Obama's shopworn national-security wise men, plays the inevitable Hitler card:

Obama adviser compares Putin to Hitler

The former US national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, has called on the world community to isolate Russia... likening its tactics to those of "Hitler or Stalin".

Brzezinski, who was the national security adviser under President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981, and is now an occasional adviser to the Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, said the Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, was "following a course that is horrifyingly similar to that taken by Stalin and Hitler in the 1930s".

He said that Putin's "justification" for splitting up Georgia - because of the Russian citizens living in South Ossetia - could be compared to when Hitler used the alleged suffering of ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland as a pretext for annexing Czechoslovakia in 1938.

In an interview with the conservative German daily Die Welt, he said even more striking were the parallels between Putin's strategy against Georgia and Stalin's invasion of Finland in 1939, describing both as "the undermining of the sovereignty of a small, democratic neighbouring state through the use of violence". He added: "Georgia is to an extent the Finland of today, both morally and strategically."

Wow! Georgia is not just Czechoslovakia -- it's Finland too! And Putin is not just Hitler -- he's Stalin too!

Presumably Zbig is keeping Poland and Attila the Hun in reserve, for when he really needs to lay it on thick.

August 13, 2008

High disdain, from sense of injur'd merit

I occasionally read Doctor Mark Thoma's "Economist's View" blog, which recently contained a nice-guy smart-market advocation by the Doctor himself. The gist of Thoma's post was that its a possible win-win if we repair free-range markets -- build in some regs and refs and optimize the inter firm scrap for profits. That way we get more efficiency and more equality. Thoma ends by saying that creating smart competitive markets "helps to ensure that labor is rewarded according to its productivity."

What's not to like, you say? Well, "Ninja Zombie," one of Mark's commenters, offered this confident piece of under-a-toadstool Ubermensch nonsense:

I'm not sure this is necessarily a good idea... The inequality in productivity between people is huge, often much larger than the inequality in wages.

One example:

I spent a month recently building an OCR system, which replaced some data entry people. My productivity is about 216x that of the data entry guys: a system I built in one month does the work that 18 people do in a year, and 18*12=216. My wages are only about 7x the wage of a data entry guy.

This cubicle-farm unappreciated arrogance nicely blocks out the basic contradiction among our job classers -- a contradiction lovingly cultivated by the tower trolls, ever since Reagan bobbleheaded his way to the atomic-button end of Penn Ave. At its core, this Aspergerish gimp's vision is nothing but the Enlightenment notion of merit pay -- i.e. pay according to worth of work, whether by effort or talent achieved. Obviously, here it's talent that seems to be the implict self-preening focus.

It all fits together so well, given the vast and persistent attempt in the media to misdirect any discussion of our fast and furously polarizing household incomes gap. The official story is that the basis for the gap is changing -- away from property income versus work income, to growing differences in the rewards of different levels of skill, talent, effort, training, etc.

Add to this an alleged iron law of technical progress -- a "long-term innovational tilt" away from creating more skill-less jobs and toward ever greater demand for more-skill jobs. That is, innovation itself supposedly requires ever more skill-intensive employments, and our global path forward implies magnified differences between various jobblers in the "market value" of their hours of hired-out toil.

Hmm. You got a problem with that, Paine?

I do. No such iron law exists. In fact, the net is probably the other way. And even if there were such a tilt, it won't govern job compensation.

Let's use Herr Zombie's anecdote. His reasoning displays not only a lack of empathetics, but an even smaller dose of actual economics. Rule One in a market system exposed to even the most imperfect of competitive winds: The reward to the inventor of any productivity enhancement is almost never in line with a full compensation for her innovation's incremental welfare impact on its ultimate beneficiaries, its users. All master Zombie's innovation could do is lower the relative product price commensurate with the total reduced labor costs -- and even that's only if the inventor actually owns the rights to his innovation. In this present corporation-dominated regime, where even brains like Zombie's here are hired out to the tower trolls, what the marketplace -- smart or dumb as it may be -- ultimately rewards is the owning corporation, through said corporation's various rent traps and other market bending methods. That is, whatever rents the corpration is able to retain in the form of higher margins and isn't forced to piss away in lower prices, goes to the corporation's owners and top managers, not -- not -- not! to the jobbled geeks, not to hired pus-heads like undead office toon Ninja here.

What's Ninja worth -- ultimately? He's worth what his replacement fresh out of programming school over at Torpedo Tech in Bangalore might cost his corporation to hire.

August 14, 2008

Conyers: Making the world safe for Gucci

J Alva Scruggs passed this along, on Rep John Conyers' "Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008":

It adds civil forfeiture, in the no-trial-needed drug war style, to intellectual property laws.

I was a little surprised that Conyers drove this one through. I'd never considered him that much of a thug. But after looking at his sponsors...

http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cycle=2008&cid=N00004029 He's getting big money from MGM, Murdoch and the American Intellectual Property Law Assn, inter alia.

J Alva ain't kiddin' about this wildly draconian war on, among other things, bogus designer labels. Here's an excerpt from the bill:
(1) CIVIL FORFEITURE PROCEEDINGS- (A) The following property is subject to forfeiture to the United States:

`(i) Any counterfeit documentation or packaging, and any counterfeit label or illicit label and any article to which a counterfeit label or illicit label has been affixed, which a counterfeit label or illicit label encloses or accompanies, or which was intended to have had such label affixed, enclosing, or accompanying.

`(ii) Any property constituting or derived from any proceeds obtained directly or indirectly as a result of a violation of subsection (a).

`(iii) Any property used, or intended to be used, to commit or facilitate the commission of a violation of subsection (a) that is owned or predominantly controlled by the violator or by a person conspiring with or aiding and abetting the violator in committing the violation....

August 20, 2008

The ghost of Camelot...

... is apparently haunting the egregious Michael Moore: vide this "open letter", passed along by our pal Mike Flugennock:
Dear Caroline,

We've never met, so I hope you don't find this letter too presumptuous or inappropriate.... Barack Obama selected you to head up his search for a vice presidential candidate.... The media is reporting that Senator Obama has narrowed his alternatives to three men: Joe Biden, Evan Bayh and Tim Kaine. They're all decent fellows, but they are far from the core of what the Obama campaign has been about: Change. Real change....

What Obama needs is a vice presidential candidate who is NOT a professional politician, but someone who is well-known and beloved by people across the political spectrum; someone who, like Obama, spoke out against the war; someone who has a good and generous heart, who will be cheered by the rest of the world; someone whom we've known and loved and admired all our lives and who has dedicated her life to public service and to the greater good for all.

That person, Caroline, is you.

I cannot think of a more winning ticket than one that reads: "OBAMA-KENNEDY."

Moore maunders on in this vein, mingling gross flattery with maudlin sentimentality, for more than a thousand unbearable words.

Now I don't know any harm of Caroline Kennedy. But this fantasy of Moore's certainly does reveal the vulgar, cartoonish infantilism of the liberal imagination -- a mental world where wishing can make it so, and magic really works. Moore observes in passing that Caroline's father JFK "died because he wanted to serve his country" -- a fantasy construct fully equal to Moore's preposterous obiter dictum that "the core of the Obama campaign" was "Change. Real Change."

Moore, it seems, shares old Reagan's view that "facts are stupid things."

* * * * *

I'm rusticating in coastal Maine for the rest of the month, and gratefully missing a lot of this silliness. SMBIVA will slow down until after Labor Day; but we shall return reinvigorated to the attack in September.

August 25, 2008

What's new is old -- again

Mike Flugennock writes:

What, again?
Pelosi sees Dems' convention opening new era

Nancy Pelosi

This week, thousands of Americans from across the country will gather in Denver....

Monday night, I will have an opportunity to speak to my fellow Democrats and the American people about what I believe is the most critical election of my lifetime.... Let us begin anew.

Wasn't the slogan of the 1980 GOP Convention "Together, A New Beginning"? Didn't La Nan say, on "Meet The Press" in 2006, "It's going to be a new day" -- in the same interview where she says that impeachment of El Presidente is "not on the table"? Oh, and Smiff, which DP hack was it that said "...and now, we govern..." after the DP's landslide mandate of 2006?
I dunno, Mike. They all blur together in my mind. I did note with pleasure the inevitable "most important election in my lifetime" trope, however. Amazing how each one is more important than the last.

Shylock's best friend

From the New York Times:

Obama Aides Defend Bank’s Pay to Biden Son

During the years that Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. was helping the credit card industry win passage of a law making it harder for consumers to file for bankruptcy protection, his son [shown above -- Ed.] had a consulting agreement... with one of the largest companies pushing for the changes....

Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter, received consulting fees from the MBNA Corporation.... [A] company official had once described him as having a $100,000 a year retainer....

The financial services industry began seeking relief from Congress in the mid-1990s from an increase in bankruptcies that was cutting into its profits.... [E]xecutives at MBNA... began donating heavily to both major political parties and many national politicians, including Mr. Biden.

In late 1996, the company hired the younger of Mr. Biden’s two sons, Robert Hunter Biden... who had just graduated from Yale Law School.... The company promoted Mr. Biden to senior vice president by early 1998....

Travis Plunkett, legislative director of the Consumer Federation of America, a consumer group that opposed the bill, said that Senator Biden had provided a “veneer of bipartisanship” that eventually helped the credit card companies win over other Democrats. “He provided cover to other Democrats to do what the credit industry was urging them to do,” Mr. Plunkett said.

Aides to the Obama campaign said Sunday that Senator Biden’s goal was always to strike a workable compromise between the competing interests on the bankruptcy bill....

MBNA employees have given Mr. Biden more than $214,000 in campaign donations over the years, the largest amount in his coffers tied to any single company. But the company’s employees have given even more lavishly to President George W. Bush and top Republican lawmakers.

I love the Times' solemn observation there at the end: Biden's a confirmed, committed whore, but the Republicans get better paid for it. Oh well, that's all right then.

August 26, 2008

Another ox, gored

An SMBIVA deep-cover agent, embedded in the bowels of Academe, passed this along, from the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Why Doesn't Plagiarism Matter?
By Jonathan Beecher Field

Like so many of my [academic] colleagues, I have followed Barack Obama's presidential campaign with interest and excitement....

Remembering this sense of exhilaration I sensed in seeing a new field of political possibilities makes the sense of betrayal I feel today even more powerful. By choosing Joe Biden as his running mate, Barack Obama has insulted academics -- students and teachers alike.... it's surprising that Biden's record of plagiarism did not disqualify him from Obama's consideration.

"So much for the concerns of academics," my informant sourly and correctly notes.

Field, the Chronicle writer, continues:

[But] on Election Day, I will hold my nose and vote for Obama/Biden. I continue to believe Obama offers the United Sates the best chance of escaping from the disaster of the last eight years. A survey of third party candidates reveals that after the vainglorious spoilsport Ralph Nader, the choices get even more marginal at a quick pace.... I don't think I can afford to waste my vote on a gesture.... [though] Obama's choice has made it harder for me, and for my colleagues across the United States, to defend the principles that form the foundation of scholarship.
Harder, but clearly not impossible.

I don't know which is more risible -- Field's belief that the pettifogging Pharisaism of academic morality constitutes the "foundation of scholarship"; or his conviction that Obama ought to have had more consideration for the parochial guild-pride of Fields' fellow pedagogues(*); or that among Biden's many sins, plagiarism even registers on any thinking person's moral radar; or his sheepish declaration that in spite of all his high dudgeon and the mortal insult to his trade, he will -- of course -- waste his vote on Bidobama anyway.


(*)Greek for "boy-herder."

God bless and keep free speech -- far away from us

From Empire Burlesque:
Caging the Dream: Dems Wrap Freedom in Razor Wire

Individuals arrested at the Democratic National Convention will be processed at an industrial warehouse with chain-link cells topped by razor wire, a facility some have compared to the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Groups planning marches, concerts and other events during the Aug. 25-28 convention dub the center "Gitmo on the Platte," for the nearby South Platte River...Video footage of the north Denver warehouse on Denver's KCNC-TV showed coils of razor wire topping chain-link cells. A sign read: "Electric stun devices used here." ....

"The infamous "free speech zone," set to make a comeback at Denver's upcoming Democratic National Convention, needs to be within earshot of delegates, a coalition of civil liberties advocates backed by the ACLU said [last month]. Chain link fencing or chicken wire at the end of the parade route, about 700 feet away from the Pepsi Center under the current plan, would separate demonstrators and protesters from other convention attendees, the Rocky Mountain News reported.

"No human voice, or any other sound," ACLU counsel said in Monday's amended complaint, "can ever hope to reach a person at the entrance." ... [But] protesters at the Democratic National Convention in Denver can be restricted to fenced-in areas, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday, saying that security needs outweighed curbs on their rights... "the plaintiffs have a wide variety of alternative means of expression that will allow them to effectively communicate their messages," [the judge] wrote in her 71-page ruling.

Why yes -- they can always send Barack a text message! Or maybe they can form a Facebook group. Or even write a blog post! All Americans are perfectly free to express their opinions in any venue whatsoever -- as long it is a venue which the high and mighty can ignore at their own discretion. Let their freedom ring, yes -- but let everybody else shut up. Let each and every one of us outside the golden circle of power lower our heads, muffle our voices, and keep well away when our betters are passing by. We must not disturb their party, we must not trouble their repose, we must not speak to them of what they have done, of what they countenanced, and of what they have most miserably failed to do.

Couldnta said it better myself.

About August 2008

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

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