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September 2009 Archives

September 2, 2009

Chupacabra Bodies Found in Texas, Oklahoma

Not true! The chupacabra is, in fact, very much alive and living in his natural habitat.


September 7, 2009



In July, the Riksbank fixed interest rates at minus 0.25 percent on certain deposits kept by the commercial banks at the central bank.

With the negative rate, banks are effectively fined if they hoard unused funds in the central bank's coffers -- a way of punishing them for a conservative lending policy at a time when the authorities want to ensure the economy gets easy credit.

Banks are usually paid interest on these deposits.

"It's better for a bank to be active... (rather) than just sit on the money," Riksbank governor Stefan Ingves told AFP.

In honor of Labor Day, I recommend a penalty rate of at least negative 10%. Market forces, my friends, would take care of the rest.

Demurrage has a noble function. Not least in the creation of incentives for long term, labor intensive, fixed capital investments. And when the idiot rich start hoarding and imposing punitive scarcity, a negative interest rate gives them a much needed fillip.

Owen raises an important issue:

stefy has henry fonda eyes now don't he

that prim startled look
of ferocious anality

For comparison, Mr. Henry Fonda.


The side by side, to assist clarity.


What do you think?

September 9, 2009

Jacksonian Socialism

enter PAINE hatchet raised ....

why ? read this !!!!:

"Open Letter to Congress and the Executive Branch

Amidst the debate over systemic regulation, the independence of U.S. monetary policy is at risk. We urge Congress and the Executive Branch to reaffirm their support for and defend the independence of the Federal Reserve System as a foundation of U.S. economic stability. There are three specific risks that must be contained.
First, central bank independence has been shown to be essential for controlling inflation. Sooner or later, the Fed will have to scale back its current unprecedented monetary accommodation. When the Federal Reserve judges it time to begin tightening monetary conditions, it must be allowed to do so without interference.

Second, lender of last resort decisions should not be politicized.

Finally, calls to alter the structure or personnel selection of the Federal Reserve System easily could backfire by raising inflation expectations and borrowing costs and dimming prospects for recovery. The democratic legitimacy of the Federal Reserve System is well established by its legal mandate and by the existing appointments process. Frequent communication with the public and testimony before Congress ensure Fed accountability.

If the Federal Reserve is given new responsibilities every effort must be made to avoid compromising its ability to manage monetary policy as it sees fit."

that piece of beached blubber had under it the signatures of an argos full of econ con semi notables

what a pack of sackless sycophants

for christ sake the fed should be in congressional bondage regalia by now

come on after the recent blow out

forget your average drift wood pwog like kusinich or woolsey
how can committee power in hand types like cousin barney frank


ginger cat around like he does in this interview

why he oughta order up the capital police's alpha squad car
and send it to fetch up the current talmudic looking mule of a fed chairman


and bring him before his committee " for a good public muzzle to tail harnessing "
and and post " ritual investment "
send him off
on a peremptory drag around capitol hill on the end of a mexican bull rope


back to the econ con hierophants

these geeps are scared the fed may lose its....independence ???...

christ on the fuckin half shell

"...every effort must be made to avoid compromising (the fed's) ability to manage monetary policy as it sees fit."


after sinking millions of good old hard jobbin' amerikan homeholders below the debt line ??
why ....
the house should rise as one and take back the mandate of heaven from those wall street skylarks

run the netions credit system from a desk in the House clock room

damn those pwog geese for their supine dick licking

that's not even scratchin at the toes of what obama san oughta been doin'

why i bet no more then ten minutes after this swear in ceremony
a general jackson


would have strode right over
to that temple of mammon.... "pussonally "
thrown the lot of em out like sunday morning garbage

and then challenged our dear gentle ben to a duel !!!

September 10, 2009

An elaboration

Shocking as it may seem, the House has summoned up what little sense of decency remains in its ghastly collective substitute for a soul. A majority of them have signed up to support H.R.1207 , a very simple bill to audit the Fed. This is what Owen is referring to in the post immediately below.

The sponsors and cosponsors may, to put it delicately, leave a lot (well, everything) to be desired from a left perspective, but some do indeed have what it takes to rake the Fed over the coals. If this Bill is a trojan horse to politicize the Fed, I can't help laughing. There is no quango so thoroughly politicized already. It cannot possibly be made any worse than it is.

September 17, 2009

Probing for market share

One of the most recent suicide attacks was the Aug. 28 attempt by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to assassinate Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. In that attack, a suicide operative smuggled an assembled IED containing approximately one pound of high explosives from Yemen to Saudi Arabia concealed in his rectum. While in a meeting with Mohammed, the bomber placed a telephone call and the device hidden inside him detonated.

Excerpt from a Stratfor report, via Blood & Treasure.

The Republican consumer is a hardy, easy to please soul when it comes to random anal violations, but the Democratic consumer is much fussier. And, oddly, more socially conservative, even when the state is performing the violations. A focus group study revealed that a cell phone-activated colorectal explosive device would make "national security" legislation — for example further entrenching the Patriot Act — more palatable to them. Stratfor pounced and the rest will be Transportation Safety Authority history.

On the bright side, liberals who can afford airfare stand a good chance of being gratuitously humiliated in a way that flatters their ideological convictions. Off shoes, drop trou, assume the ghastly position and praise God that Obama defeated McCain. That should be very consoling.

The Eternal Unteachable Moment

Trying to dodge a building conservative firestorm, the House and Senate made clear in separate and highly lopsided votes Thursday that the beleaguered community-based nonprofit advocacy organization ACORN is persona non grata on Capitol Hill.

House Republicans took over a debate about a sweeping student loan bill to propose a measure that would bar the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now from receiving any federal funds at all. It passed 345-75, with 172 Democrats joining all of the Republicans in the chamber in support.

In the Senate, an amendment connected to an Interior Department spending bill that would prohibit ACORN from receiving any money from that bill passed by an 85-11 vote. It was the second such vote directed at ACORN in the Senate this week.

The short and simple lesson for progressive groups is: don't get anywhere near the Democratic Party. It will fuck you and happily throw you to the Republican Party. This is not because of cowardice or confusion on their part. They do not want a large, politically active and demanding activist base.

September 18, 2009

Hen Cackling and Piecards

every hot rad wants a union movement that is pulling off
organizing actions like tea bag rallys
and why aren't they
why can't our unions raise the level of play enough to start a prairie fire here ??

if 60 million jobbled mcsmurfs want a union the wood must be plenty dry

so where's the spark??

where's the key beef ???

where's the galvinizing paradigm action where's the paradigm job site ??

are they really that cowed that isolated that demoralized

is saying ya i'd like a union just an indirect way of saying
i need a raise ???

since at least the mid 70's the search for the holy grail has gone no where

holy grail??
the magic organizing model

well here's a problem
the desire to produce more orged workers occludes another problem

the job done today across the USA for the 11 or so million pri sec orged workers

a poll i'd like to see is
"how do you rate your union (brother or sister )?"


beyond cries of utterly abstract gibber about "bottom up revolts "

or demands for delightful ends like "rank and file control "

but absent a road map gettin us there

or weakest of all

simple nation mag like calls for "union democracy "

so how about gettin all three and a way there too ???

a form of rank and file control

that is both democratic and bottom up


periodic unit certification elections

open these up

routinize 'em let who ever wants to compete to rep the unit in the next contract drive
face off over a ballot box
the federation and the changelings together oughta sponsor this

instead of the antique gomper room shit about the sacred rights of the franchise holders

notice the present scrap between SEIU and the renigade NUHW

now that's a wonderful development


two outfits slugging it out toe to toe for certification as the exclusive bargaining agent for tens of thousands of healthcare workers

and at the unit level comrades unit by unit retail voting at its best ..yes elections based on challenges

not statutes but...

just rolling out one after the other

instead of abhoring this

it oughta be institutionalized right along side the 3 year contract cycle

nothing new here by any means of course

but it flips the take you are hearing beltched from most prog horns eh?

not only on the bay area roller derby

but even more basic there's el duce andy stern of the steamrollers union's other great raid of '09


his shivering off of unite from its non identical irish twin HERE

a scoup move that may net him a 5 billion dollar bank !!!

oh the poor rump of HERE ..what can ya say??

well fight you geefs fight em

if your units loved ya how can u lose a cert fight ...right ??

a ballot to hold your own turf ??

glorious jousting ??

not sez the high level piecards

remember back in july at the HERE convention all the huff and puff ??

why it caused more big union chiefs to turn hen cacklers

then the rape of the sabine women

September 20, 2009

A Jurisprudence for Crackpots



Meritocracy and narrow proceduralism inevitably produce a crony culture which has, as its "philosophy", the preservation of what the highest status members consider the conditions that made them high status. Hey, it worked, right? They are where they are, after all, and people just like them are too. The liberal crony culture's salient distinction from the conservative crony culture is a concern with achieving merit metrics that are harder to fudge, i.e. metrics that don't favor conservatives. This becomes justice. Both have the same love of seeking out a mediagenic ad hominem determination of worthiness, on an individual, case-by-specific-case basis, in which the highest ambition is setting a precedent for the next individual, case-by-specific-case basis for an ad hominem determination of worthiness, and both have a love of collective determination of worthiness, as it pertains to their own immediate needs. The conservative crony culture plays the game better, however, and in response the liberal crony culture has adopted the business model, used advisedly, of attempting to manage the race to the bottom.

That works well for them electorally when, and only when, the crony culture of the conservatives guides the race to the bottom at pace too fast and too frightening for the people whose business model is the power-tie Stakhanovite's extraction of rents. Politically, win or lose in elections, the liberal crony culture prospers. They're indispensable. Although for how much longer is an interesting question.

What makes the liberal crony culture so much more contemptible, which takes some effort with the conservatives as competition, is that they have a vague inkling that somehow, in some strange way, they've handed power to the conservatives.


And that's why it's funny when Glenn Beck targets Cass Sunstein. The spectacle of a Pillsbury Doughboy clown flailing away at a schlemiel is hilarious.

A paragon of plain dealing wit and wisdom

this weeks not in the msm news poli-con to despise
at the daily hate sessions ...


andrei shleifer,
j.b. clark award winner

"During the early 1990s, Andrei Shleifer was an advisor to Anatoly Chubais, the then vice-premier of Russia, and was one of the engineers of the Russian privatization......

During that time, Harvard University was under a contract with the United States Agency for International Development, which paid Harvard and its employees (shleifer)to advise the Russian government. ....

... Under Anatoly Chubais, privatization led to valuable Russian business assets being acquired at extremely cheap prices amid accusations of rigged auctions.
Shleifer was also tasked with establishing a stock market for Russia . That effort was also unsuccessful, and became mired in charges of corruption and self-dealing.

Under the False Claims Act, the US government sued Harvard, Shleifer...(he) bought Russian stocks and GKOs while they were working on the country's privatization, which potentially contravened Harvard's contract with USAID.

.... On August 3 92005) Harvard University, Shleifer and the Justice department reached an agreement under which the university paid $26.5 million to settle the five-year-old lawsuit. Shleifer was also responsible for paying $2 million dollars worth of damages.... A firm owned by his wife previously had paid $1.5 million in an out of court settlement.

Because Harvard University paid most of the damages and allowed Shleifer to retain his faculty position, the settlement provoked allegations of favoritism on the part of Harvard's outgoing president Lawrence Summers, who is Shleifer's close friend and mentor. Shleifer's conduct was reviewed by Harvard's internal ethics committee. In October 2006, at the close of that review, Shleifer released a statement making it clear that he remains on Harvard's faculty. However, according to the Boston Globe, he has been stripped of his honorary title of Whipple V. N. Jones Professor of Economics.

a paragon of plain dealing wit and wisdom

September 21, 2009

The Good Emperor

are we to believe a fork in the road still exists in the whitehouse over the afpak picnic ??

the discussion in the White House is now focused on whether, after eight years of war, the United States should vastly expand counterinsurgency efforts along the lines he has proposed -- which involve an intensive program to improve security and governance in key population centers -- or whether it should begin shifting its approach away from such initiatives and simply target leaders of terrorist groups who try to return to Afghanistan

a mattress jack moment ???



we all know the good emperor choice...

come to the lite side obs baby ..

September 24, 2009

Welcome to planet dry gulch Mr and Mrs McJobsmurf


ahhh the salad days of yore

by now i suspect the following thought has occured to all of us too many times even to to count:

the credit crisis last year was mighty damn convenient ....eh?? ....global outlook wise

and so now that uncle Saps "peoples' credit line" has forstalled
an amazing game of golden pick up sticks as frenzied brigades of suits
wrestled each other over the wreckage of wall street ...

so okay...ummh so ...hey ...where's the... like ....recovery man??

indeed if alls well on wall street
why the jobmart horror projections stretching to the far horizon??

well --as ronnie used to say--

the underlying production platform of our global economy
was so utterly out of kilter from all the prosperity building these last 20 years
it needs a nice long slow down .... some yellow flag time
soz it can get about the business of..
well... a massive planetary all markets structural readjustment

unlike costless infusions of cash ...rebuilding the production platform
takes time and a good deal of creative destruction
and often of the sort that turns rivers into creeks creeks into


oh hell that don't work as an analogy
its more like we gotta start
turning boundary crossing turnpikes back into back roads and back roads into foot paths and...
you get the gimmick
pretty much flipping the flops and flopping the flips ...everywhere from somewhere to no where

even if trade flows between points A and Z remain fairly heavy
they might need a serious rebalance
like err
what has five lanes one way now say Z => A
and two lanes the other way A=> Z
down to 3 from 5 and up to 4 from 2 ...errrr some time in the greater tomorrow
after the sum total effective demand (7) returns that is


then what about looking at this from the job class amerika POV
ie what's our prospects ???

well folks the present hideous grinding of the flesh of a zillion human gears
must go on...and on ....and on and on

bad message
whats the best scape goat??

what else NEW DEAL 2.0

blamed it all on those silk hat fuckers
the finacial royalists
the class distant wally world machinators

that small nasty group of evil white men

imagine this xmas
scenes of zombies wacking those cosseted bland syrenes of prosperity past
on a wide screen above the twilight gloom of an mall atrium
as shoppers without credit
shuffle about below consoling their little muzzlers

hey this will go on it must go on
long after the technocrats have restored the system to working order

we can only watch and wait for sunrise at the production plants

patience grit and personal pride
those are the citizen virtues
we the weebles will be called upon to publically and privately express

down here in the job short streets of gooberville misery will have a whole job nation as company


my fellow patriots :

" God bless our dear ole american safety nets
and please dear congress
pass the universal health "

what a blood curdling roar that will make in an elite merit ear

September 25, 2009

Home is the sailor

I'm back from my almost eight-week refrigerium -- two weeks sailing to Maine, three weeks there, two weeks and change sailing back. Anyone interested in the travelogue can read about it -- incrementally -- on a different blog.

Now we turn again to the high seriousness of SMBIVA....

It ain't easy. I got strangely disconnected, during these weeks, from all the stuff I normally love to fume about. The vileness of the Democrats, the silliness of the Republicans, the sour comedy of health-care "reform" -- it all looked very tiny and far away, like a marionette theater seen through the wrong end of a telescope. No doubt this phase will pass and underlying character will reassert itself. But for the moment, some easing-in seems to be needed.

My main source of news out on the water, especially on a long offshore passage at night, was the radio -- and specifically NPR, when I couldn't find a good Christian station with one of those wonderful pulpit orators who can hold you spellbound for hours on end.

Shallow stuff, I know, NPR. The hours they spent handwringing about that yahoo from South Carolina -- Wilson? -- who called Obie a liar! You'd think the firmament was falling, and the rock-ribbed earth turned to jelly.

Needless to say, I'm with Wilson. Not because I think he's anything more than a rabid howling baboon, or because Obie was lying -- at least, no more than usual -- but because I really approve of disrespect: disrespect to the man, disrespect to the office, disrespect for the hallowed halls of Congress and its Royal Nonesuch pinky-in-the-air politesse. The sooner the whole sorry pompous gasbag spectacle turns back into the Jerry Springer show -- as it was back in the vigorous youth of the Republic, with canings and duels and whatnot -- the happier I'll be.

The only story that really caught my ear, with the sound of a second shoe dropping, was the news that those ridiculous anti-missile missiles would not be placed in Poland after all. Score one for Bearzilla!

I saw it coming a week or two before, in a radio interview with the Polish foreign minister, a fey puckish fellow whose name I didn't quite catch. This humorous chap was asked about the missiles -- remember, this is before Obie has eaten crow and taken them back -- and the droll Pole observed that "we didn't really want them. Our longtime ally the United States wanted to deploy them, and of course, we're old friends, we said yes."

Oho, sez I to myself -- or maybe even out loud, with no one around to hear except the gulls. Those missiles will never go in. And for once I was right.

It's a fool's game to speculate about what was said in meetings you weren't invited to, but sometimes it's hard to resist. I will go out on a limb here and say this was the quid-pro-quo for keeping the Manas air force base open in Kyrgyzstan -- so we can keep bleeding ourselves in Afghanistan, the way Zbig Brzezinski bird-dogged the Sovs into doing back in the day.

How the Russkis must be chortling. We've got ourselves now where we had them thirty years ago. We're having to pay top dollar to their boyos in Bishkek, and crawl away from our forward policy in Eastern Europe in order to keep paying, and keep bleeding.

Of course this climb-down enables Obie to look like a more reasonable person -- to his easily-fooled domestic base -- than the half-witted chimp who preceded him. Obie, the libs will reason, understood that this was a senseless provocative move, and because he's a sensible person, he took the sensible course.

I don't think so. I think Putin & Co. had him over a barrel -- and a good thing, too -- and McCain would have had to do the very same thing, if he wanted to stay in Afghanistan.

As Obie clearly does.

September 26, 2009


Shades of The Pecora --

-- or just another damn belt-loop pecora?

Phil Angelides, the begoggled chap shown up top, is after the foul-ballers of Wall Street, and he's pumped, baby, pumped:

"Our job is not to engage in public posturing. It is to pursue the evidence wherever it leads, to leave no financial stone unturned."

" In the course of doing so, we may well find criminal activity as well as egregious practices that were not only permitted but exalted."

"Our job isn’t to presume the worst actions and intention -- -but to follow ...."

Blah blah blah.

Yup, he's gonna clean up Dollar City, folks. Bleat, bleat!

So why this rough, tough, wool-puff turn?

"In the wake of the market crash of 1929, there was a whole generation of Americans who would not put their money at risk in what they considered to be the casino of the stock market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average did not regain its 1929 peak for 25 years. We can ill afford a similar prolonged lack of faith and trust."
Meanwhile, from the meadows of goodly intention comes this flourish -- the friends of Frankie Elder demand action!
Dear Members of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission,

In this moment of great economic turmoil, there is a simple but critical question that we must ask and answer together as a nation:

What caused the crisis?

We, the undersigned, call on you to fulfill the responsibilities of your position by joining together in non-partisan cooperation to investigate the origins of the financial crisis in ways that lead to a full understanding of the institutions, people and practices that are responsible for our economic collapse.

In particular, we encourage the adoption of three guidelines that history has taught us are essential to an effective inquiry:

  • Appoint a single investigator. This individual must have a proven record of exposing fraudulent elites and institutions, and must provide a professional, non-political spirit to the investigation.
  • Afford no special treatment. No one is off-limits or gets special protection in the investigation.
  • Provide the tools to do the job. The investigator must be given ample budget and time, full subpoena authority, and the ability to hire and fire staff.
These principles were applied in the 1930s when Congress launched a formal inquiry into the causes of the Great Depression. That commission -- led by Ferdinand Pecora -- was willing to reach into the highest levels of Wall Street and finance to determine the causes of the economic collapse of 1929. The courage with which the commission greeted its task-and the revelations that courage ensured-inspired the sweeping banking and financial reforms that were the bedrock of our financial system for decades.

Building a new financial foundation requires us to begin on solid ground-the truth. It is only by illuminating the mistakes of the past that we will be able to meet the great challenges of the future.

Thank you for your consideration, and for your willingness to take on this historic challenge.


Dr. Andrew RichRoosevelt Institute
Dr. Joseph Stiglitz, Economist, Roosevelt Institute
Dr. Thomas Ferguson, University of Massachusetts, Boston
Christopher Hayes, New America Foundation
Dr. Robert Johnson, Economist, Roosevelt Institute
Dr. David Woolner Historian, Roosevelt Institute
Dr. William Black, University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Law
Dr. Robert Reich, University of California at Berkeley
Dr. James K. Galbraith, University of Texas
Dr. Randall B. Woods, University of Arkansas
Rev. Marcia Dyson, Georgetown University
Rudy Arredondo, National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association
Meizhu Lui, Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative
Dr. Barbara M. Parramore, Professor Emeritus, North Carolina State University
James P. Hoffa, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Hamilton Fish, The Nation Institute

Quite a fearsome posse, eh?

September 28, 2009

Reschooling Society

The imperial poindexter wants kids to spend more time in school. According to the president, this will help make them euphemism buzzword talking point in the global competitive feeding frenzy.

Successful Democrats can't or won't differentiate between schooling and education. Schooling is designed to achieve a certain social outcome. The schools in the United States are very good at producing this. There's nothing wrong with them, as far as that goes. The desired outcome isn't guaranteed, but in neoliberal utopia a child is placed on a series of hamster wheels and twenty some odd years later the child is producing, guarding or finding ways to leverage intellectual property under the benevolent gaze of acculturated sociopaths. Those that go off the deep end wind up in think tanks, where they can find work producing demands that the school system be made worse or demanding that the system provide more opportunities for child grinding, e.g. AEI and Brookings, respectively. Outside utopia, schooling serves as punitive day care. This, too, produces the desired outcome. It's not guaranteed, etc. etc, but there's no better way to stock prisons and McJob corrals. In short, the schooling is functioning about as well as one could hope. Increasing the time on the hamster wheels isn't going to make the halcyon days of the Clinton regime come back. What it will do is burn out more kids at a faster rate.

An education, by contrast, makes social outcome difficult to extensively control and predict. Much of it is labor intensive and emotionally demanding. The procrustean metrics favored by overachieving sycophants and authoritarian paranoiacs can't be applied. They're antithetical to an actual education. If the application of the metrics is cranking out insufficient replacement personnel for the sycophancy and paranoia industries, well that's just too bad. We'll struggle on without them. We'll also have to look for ways to live that don't include producing, guarding or finding ways to leverage intellectual property under the benevolent gaze of acculturated sociopaths. Is this so awful?

It's hard to see this hamster wheel enhancement proposal as anything but a rearguard action to protect hamster wheels that have done their job all too well.

Trumka triumphans

The mighty AFL (ee i ee i oh) pulled off its quadrennial indoor dressage last week without a hiccup.

I'll glide past the long-awaited Trumka coronation and head straight for the federation's newly elected number two secretary-treasurer -- she's the ashy-haired one on the left of His Bullness.

Her name's Liz Shuler and she wants to reach out to -- young folks.

Her words:

“They don’t hate us, they don’t like us; they just don’t know us.”
Indeed. In other news...

The march of the HERE hares, after 4 years in the wilderness fox-trottin' with Andy's purple gang, back into the robust if wrinkling arms of Mother Gompers' deathless creature. Bed-changers, stew-ladlers and barkeeps of America, rejoice -- Kaiser John is back where he belongs "in the house of labor" and yes, he's ready to rumble.

Brothers and sisters of the grand pacific union of the unorganized, nothing could better personify the gerbil-wheel nature of piecard unionism in America than this guy from high-60's Yale, late of Vegas, and now most firmly DC-centered -- the Mel Torme of bottle-washing, John Tempelhof Wilhelm III:

September 29, 2009


The New York Times captioned this picture as follows:

Iran showed new defiance Sunday by test-firing three short-range missiles near the city of Qum.
The article to which this image was attached explained how Obie was going to improve on his predecessor by adopting a more aggressive attitude toward Iran. I suppose that counts as change, though it doesn't give me, personally, much hope.

But let's return to this trope of "defiance".

France has missiles. England has missiles. The US and China and Russia and India have missiles, and Israel has more missiles than a beggar has fleas. Having armed forces -- and missiles -- seems to be a privilege of sovereign nations. So how, exactly, is it "defiance" on Iran's part to have what other countries have?

This is what is known as "logic", but just try explaining it to an enlightened liberal American Obamaphile. You'll get a pitying smile, and perhaps your interlocutor will condescend to explain to you that you're being a silly head-in-the-clouds pedant. Everybody knows that Iran can't be compared to France, or England, or China or India because... because... because, well, just because. If you read the New York Times sedulously enough, it will all begin to make sense.

The "crackpot" is an important part of crackpot realism. The propaganda system requires not only adherence to certain beliefs and prejudices, it also requires downright unreason, the renunciation of the syllogism: countries have missiles, Iran is a country, therefore -- no no no, don't go there.

This aspect of the propaganda system is insufficiently appreciated. Social control requires not only that we be misled and misinformed, it requires us to embrace a thought disorder, and congratulate ourselves on having done so.

And of course the great thought-disorderers are our media megalotheria, the Times prominent among them. Daily they serve up a mile-long buffet of bare-faced illogic and unreason -- but they serve it with such bland assurance, such calm gravitas, such marmoreal magisterial confidence, that only a stubborn poorly-socialized person can resist getting sleepier, sleepier....

They are the gatekeepers of reality itself, and if they say that two plus two equals five, you better believe it.

September 30, 2009

Melissa locuta, causa confusa

My lefty mailing lists have mostly been preoccupied the last couple of days with a frenzy of moral panic about Roman Polanski, but a few of the less Pecksniffian participants have been able to spare some time to execrate the latest gout of dribble from my favorite Nation magazine thinker -- Melissa Harris-Lacewell, she of the pretentious double-barreled name and the relentlessly referenced Princeton connection. (Melissa is shown above apparently riding in a bumper car with another highly successful merit baby; from their expressions it seems that a collision may be imminent.)

Melissa's piece is very hard to characterize accurately. To say that it is fatuous, incoherent, and frequently incomprehensible only scratches the surface. A few excerpts:

Lose the Love/Hate, But Keep the Hope.

.... Yes, we need to halt the characterizations of Obama as savior or as anti-Christ. And we similarly should moderate our memories of the Bush years as evil or perfect. Still, I believe that the Obama win is important precisely because it injects a certain emotional valence into our electoral politics: a much needed revival of American hope. Obama won, in part, by encouraging us to feel good, to be optimistic, and to believe. The problem is when we direct that hope and belief onto the character/candidate rather than investing that optimism in the movement itself.

There is a way to hold onto hard won optimism while still demonstrating emotional restraint in the public sphere. There are some ways to intervene in this moment with optimism and effort.

Within days of Obama's election, progressives began talking about "holding Obama's feet to the fire." This is an old fashioned way to approach being part of a governing coalition....

The left will get some, but not all of what it wants, and that is OK. It is better than OK, it is the heart of democracy. Winning does not give us a mandate to ignore the interests of those we defeated....

I want universal, single-payer health care. I want a federal election law requiring consistency in voting rules and technology across all 50 states. I want low-cost, widely available child care for all families with children under five. I want the appointment of federal judges who will protect women's reproductive freedom. I want full constitutional guarantee in all 50 states of the right to same-sex marriage.... [but] I will not consider the Obama administration a failure if I don't get everything I want immediately....

By retreating to outsider angst the left forgets one of the most exciting lessons of the Obama campaign: that ordinary people working for common purpose wield tremendous power....

Put down the hammer and try a screwdriver....Of course we are not throwing out the hammer, because sometimes a nail needs a good smack.

Where -- as I so often ask -- does one start?

Melissa alludes to a "movement". What movement does she have in mind? As far as I can see there was no movement apart from a giddy cult of fanship centered entirely on the person of Barack Obama. You might as well call Beatlemania a movement.

Then of course she wants to keep believing (in what, exactly? Belief itself?). But she also wants us to exhibit "emotional restraint". This is a curious topos to show up here. What the devil does it matter whether our emotions are restrained or not?

"Emotional restraint," however, seems to mean something other than its face value -- something more like refusing to draw any conclusions from the comprehensive anticlimax of Obama-ite governance. Yeah, we're gonna get bupkis from this dude, but don't let that affect your thinking. Keep that hope and optimism going, come what may!

Melissa also seems to feel that "we"(*) are "part of a governing coalition." Now this may be easier to believe from a nice old leather wing chair at Princeton, or Rachel Maddow's lemonade stand at MSNBC, than from my shabby Ikea recliner, but it's still delusional. Melissa is no more part of a "governing coalition" than I am. The "governing coalition" is still very much the usual gang, although administrators from the B-team are currently standing a relief watch on the bridge while the A-team guys sharpen their fangs in the green pastures of opposition.

She draws an "exciting lesson" from the Obama campaign: that ordinary people wield tremendous power. But this assertion rests on nothing at all, and in fact contradicts the whole basis of the essay -- to wit, the utter disappointment that Obama has proven to be, or should have proven to be, if true believers like Melissa weren't incapable of learning from experience. "Ordinary people" have no power to get what they want by participating in empty spectacles like the recent election. They have at best the ability to choose which of two hands will ply the whip on their backs.

One has to love the homely hammer/screwdriver metaphor, but again, the inquiring mind will wonder: where's the hammer? What do "we" have to smack anybody with?

For that matter, where's the fucking screwdriver?


(*) One is of course irresistibly reminded of Tonto's famous line -- What you mean 'we', paleface? -- even though Melissa's face is in fact a shade less pale than my own.

About September 2009

This page contains all entries posted to Stop Me Before I Vote Again in September 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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