Liberal,schmiberal Archives

October 13, 2005

Coming soon to a progressive party near you

If you want to know what Democrats would do if they ever got back into office, you can just look at Tony Blair. The Clinton clone has just offered a new package of measures to combat -- you guessed it -- "terrorism." Among the highlights:

"...the government wants the power to detain terror suspects for three months without charge ... and make it an offense to glorify or encourage terrorism."

That last item seems particularly pregnant, being directed quite specifically at political speech.

Lord Carlile, the government's own legal monitor, noted that the three-month detention period would violate the European Human Rights Act. Well, at least our Democrats wouldn't have that problem here.

November 16, 2005

A baby step from The Nation

Well, stop the fuckin' presses. The Nation magazine has decided it can no longer support any politician who endorses the Iraq war -- and ringingly urges us all to follow its bold and resolute lead.

Some good stuff in this piece, right from the lead: "Everything that needs to be known is now known." Love that alliteration, guys -- might have come right out of Beowulf. But "now"? Surely everything that needs to be known was known a long time ago?

November 17, 2005

Deconstruction zone

In an earlier entry I mentioned the Nation magazine's long-deferred line in the muck about Democrats who won't oppose the Iraq war.

It's not the world's most entertaining read, this piece -- the Nation's editorial board generates prose so solemnly self-important that a Security Council resolution, by comparison, reads llike something from Wonkette. Abstract nouns grow thick as mangroves, woven together with an impenetrable tangle of cliche, as the board excogitates the hard choices facing America today. (Sheeit, this idiom is catching.)

It all reminds me of a tiny Left faction that I used to be part of, back in the early 80s when the anti-nuclear power movement was at flood tide. Our cell had some real iron-butt long meetings, trying to decide whether or not anti-nukery was OK under our exegesis of Marxism-Leninism. One particularly tough-minded comrade cautioned us that we shouldn't endorse anything that might come back to haunt us "when we take state power" -- hey, we may need these nuke plants.

Likewise, the Cardinal Archliberals of The Nation, like a shadow cabinet preparing for its turn in office, observe that the Iraq war distracts us from "real threats" like "more terrorist attacks, jeopardized oil supplies, rising tension with China, the spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction...."

Seldom has the liberal's intellectual imprisonment been more plainly laid out. These poor guys have no conceptual apparatus other than the worn and never-very-sharp tools of conventional wisdom. They actually use the phrase "national security" twice in the same paragraph with this list of editorial-page bugbears.

  • "Terrorist" attacks -- why not just "attacks"? What does it add to call them "terrorist," except to reassure the reader that The Nation, like other right-thinking folk, doesn't approve of 'em?
  • "Jeopardized oil supplies?" Geez, guys, don't you occasionally publish an item on climate change? What could possibly be better than jeopardized oil supplies -- except perhaps oil supplies that are completely gone?
  • "Rising tension" with China -- what is this supposed to mean? Whose fault is it? What should be done about it? Or is it just a causeless, qualityless badness buzzing in a vacuum? One thing is for sure: we should be very, very scared of it.
  • And of course, top of the pops as always, WMDs -- or rather, the "spread" of them: as if we, or the world, should be more worried about a nuclear Iran than a nuclear United States or Israel.
Then there's that phrase "national security." Can learned folk like Katrina van den Heuvel and Victor Navasky possibly be unaware of the history and baggage of this term?

But that's a topic for another day.

December 28, 2005

MoveOn's Mazzie: Crackpot Realist of 2005

The best stuff in the New York Times is always on the jump:
Tom Matzzie, the Washington director for, a liberal advocacy group, suggested that the antiwar movement would potentially undercut its own message by waging what he said would be a hugely unsuccessful primary challenge against Mrs. Clinton.

"The case I would make is that 2006 needs to be a year of reckoning for Republicans on Iraq," he said. "If the antiwar candidate is creamed by Hillary Clinton, it's a distraction."

At last I've found something to agree with MoveOn about. I too don't think she should face a primary challenge -- I think we should turn her out in the general election.

February 10, 2006

Nice clothes, your Emperorship

The "war on terror" -- in particular, its domestic arm -- whether it's a war with existing terror cells, or simply against the entrance of terror cells, whatever the sam hell it is... this homeland war declared by boy emperor Mummy II is a big fat right-wing fraud.

Michael Moore knows it and you know it and I know it, and every single one of the capital hill gangs from K Street to Sesame Street knows it's a fraud too.

So why won't the donkey prog-wing, all 60 or so of 'em, say so, flat out loud in black and white at a press confrence?

"The domestic war on terror is a fraud. Bush and company ain't conducting one and by the way, folks, we don't need one." Period, full stop.

There is no war 'cause there is no domestic terror. The whole sick business -- the bomb scares, the maybe-might-be-could-be reactor attacks, the anthrax in our milk supply, the radiation showered from ill-flown crop dusters -- every one of 'em, utterly bogus. Take that one our young prez pushed a couple days ago. Imagine anyone blowing up a building in LA from... Jakarta!

These whoppers are no bettter than a series of high school pranks, pure Karl Rove, done for one reason only -- to scare Miss Peach and the girls.

Okay, so it's too much to ask that the progs actually do anything about it. But why can't even stand straight up here and for once at least grab a headline for the truth?

March 10, 2006

Constipation, a major health-care problem

MJS passed along to me this TPMCafe contribution, by one Jonathan Cohn, a senior editor at the New Republic, to the donk wonk wrangle over the single payer universal health care solution.

What wrangle, you're thinking? Surely the solution is as obvious as the nose on an elephant's face. Well, not for Cohn: "it's so big... its a trunk... and that's different." He tells us that while others may "suggest that the debate within the Democratic Party is not over whether to insure everybody, but how.... I disagree."

Quite the bold fellow. Why does he disagree? Because "it's one thing to say it and another to commit the resources, political and financial, to do it." If he'd gone off stage right there to roll his pants and wade down to the water line this post would never have happened. But alas, he's staying on the pot awhile, just to make us wait, while he reviews the weedy, wind-rolling fields of his mind and fidgets at maddening length before finally, proudly producing his little gift.

Of course in this throne-room one-man show, the senior editor at New Repulsive also must play Mommy too. He concedes the obvious -- pushing for the plunge is "our" present task. Push, little America! Push!

But then... on the other hand: "First, there's a transition issue." Yup, we got millions doing next to nothing necessary -- shuffling IOU's and such inside lots of office buildings because of the Byzantine partitioning the present system engenders, enhances, and ultimately worships. Single payer would... well, to paraphrase: I can hear the deafening deadly job-killing silence as 3 million superfluous keyboards stop clicking. A magisterial note is struck: "All things being equal, disruption is bad."

So... can we slow-mo here? Can we "naturally evolve into a single-payer system?"

Citizen Paine's stentorian answer: Yup. In fact, bring it on. We can solve this one with uncle's credit line. Run in the red for a stretch. Deputize 'em all and do a slow winnow.

But our guy' wondrous idiocy peaks here. Listen:

"As a wise, widely respected health care scholar recently reminded me, it would have been one thing to set up a single-payer system back in the 1930s ....."

But now...? Ah, fans, you just can't make this stuff up.

He moves on -- sort of. "...Most single-payer systems .. sacrifice some level of choice," but but but "I think choice is frequently overrated in health care," but but but again "there is a philosohpical appeal to letting people choose what level of coverage they want and how much they want to pay for it." Ahthe endless joys of dither do -- always teetering on the brink, never quite there -- Tantric wonkery. Finally -- surprise, surprise -- it comes down to his own case. Do I want a one size fits all, gubmint-issue plan, when "I'm willing to spend a larger chunk of my paycheck on it in order to have easier access to more doctors." But but but then there's the preferences "of somebody else who might want ...."

Talk about scared of your own shadow -- this is a non-issue. Choice can build on top of basics. Easy. Next victim!

Now we get a lyrical little "small is beautiful" intermezzo: recall the wonders of... Group Health of Puget Sound, "true to the original idealistic spirit of managed care." Wouldn't an Uncle Sam unitary timber giant crush out this type of "ideaistic" littlehood?

Well, let's fucking hope so, for the sake of all humanity outside the local hand-thrown clay pot shop.

Moving along -- is single payer really "the easiest to explain?" Sure sounds easy -- just say "Medicare for all."

But but but but! "There's another way to look at it." What if they think that -- you know -- they get fearful -- they get spun -- after all, some sort of profit boys stand to lose here, and their long and lingering howls could scare folks. "Maybe we need to tell them... you get to keep the insurance you have."

But but but! That's not single payer anymore, is it? Self-checkmated again. What to do, what to do. "Incremental solutions have so many more problems," but but but! "single-payer has its inadequacies too, and they're worth thinking through."

No one, I'm sure, will be surprised to hear that this geep is "now at work on a book about the U.S. health care system."

He gets one point right, though, about single payer: "I think a substantial number of elected Democrats aren't there..." But but but! "Maybe deep, deep within the recesses of their hearts they are, in any event, I'm not sure it really matters if they can't admit it."

April 27, 2006

Equal opportunity in Caesar's legions

Here's the kind of line-in-the-sand, emphatic donk prog blast we expect out of our reps. It' s from my home stater Marty Meehan, whaling away on the Pentagon -- about what, you may ask?
  • Our air-power bombfest in occupied Iraq?
  • Our globe-spanning network of torture chambers?
  • Our covert option plans to nuke those fractious Iranistani turban heads?
None of the above: Marty's final warning is on ... "don't ask don't tell."

May 1, 2006

Rally round the flag, liberals

Junior Peretznik Peter Beinart, writing in the perfect venue, thinks too many donks are sunk under shame and fear about the American empire. His goal: to cure this road-to-Munich disease by a cold-war liberal memory implant.
Alienated by the war in Iraq, many [Democrats] have grown suspicious of intervening in other countries' affairs. A recent Gallup survey shows Democrats twice as likely as Republicans to say that America should mind its own business internationally.... And a 2005 poll by the Century Foundation and the Center for American Progress found self-described liberals far less interested than conservatives in promoting democracy. Indeed, in their recent manifesto, Congressional Democrats barely mentioned it as a foreign-policy goal.
Hence this article about our legendary Cold War liberal heroes -- including, rather bizarrely, musty names like Reinhold Niebuhr. Been a while since that mighty thinker has been rolled out, in my hearing, anyway.

Beinart's large-souled goal appears to be rescuing the Democratic Party from its members, and liberalism from liberals. He sternly tells us we need to intervene globally -- but with the proper posse: an official one full of what Mike Savage would call "guys with sombreros, turbans, feathered headdresses and berets." In other words, to personify St. Woodrow's way vs. Teddy R's lone ranger. -- an invisible empire of human righteousness where democracy can take its baby steps, and the little guy experience a gathering prosperity through progressive transnational investments.

May 9, 2006

He's talkin' about... us!

From the New Replusive blog:

According to Jonathan Chait, a leading TNR doobee: "the left-wing blogospere" is emphatically not "a placid realm of civilized discourse"-- no, instead we're into

relentless, juvenile name-calling... the imagining of conspiracies between the Democratic Leadership Council... and various corporate lobbies....
And we're frozen in place by
the fervent belief that monolithic motivations could be imputed to all who were associated with those sinister, back-stabbing institutions
-- i.e. the corporations and their fink tanks.

And guess what, comrades -- us left blogs are not

... actually all that lefty... if you consider only their policy agenda in a vacuum....
-- it's only our "political style" which is indeed left -- in fact that is not only left but "distinctly New Left" -- meaning "paranoid, Manichean ... brimming with humorless rage."

But decent neo-progs better not relax: just because

the contemporary blog-based left, unlike the McGovernite New Left, lacks a well-formed radical program....
And why? Here's the forecast of the left blog law of motion
there's lots of evidence to suggest that this style of thinking is suggestive of a tendency to move in more radical directions over time
...ending where? Well, where else -- by "veering into the abyss."

It's our old friend the "Commies are Nazis" theory, which served TNR so well in the 80s. There's no joke like an old joke.

Now Chait, I guess, has been run over a few times by these raging left bloganauts -- but he don't feel no "personal frustration," despite the plain fact that even after writing "plenty of great stuff that critiques Bush," he still faces a "one strike and you're out policy."

Now I'll admit that would piss me off -- but Chait is the type of regular civilized broad minded chap that can

actually really enjoy mixing it up... and oddly enough.... being personally attacked as well
What freaks him though is this left blogosphere's "paranoid mentality ... toward TNR":
They cannot see gradations. They cannot see differences between individuals within an institution. [It's like] their unrelenting hostility toward the DLC, some of whose members are much more liberal than others....
In other words, us loons are
simply unable to process the fact [that] 80 percent of the political commentary we publish is a sharp attack on Bush
and yet because we "disagree with ... 20 percent," it's pow! right in the kisser. We have absolutely
"no mental category for an institution that agrees with them 80 percent of the time.... The would-be Grover Norquists of the left may well fashion themselves as shrewd political tacticians....
But we need to learn from our righty counterparts, who
... have been able to move the political center... in large part because they understood the difference between someone who agrees with them 80 percent of the time and someone who agrees with them 0 percent of the time....
So I guess since us lefty blogs don't get this, we're as Jon says "dangerous and fanatical."

Well, gang -- who wants to be "dangerous" around here?

I've already got dibs on "fanatical. "

May 23, 2006

Usable past = imaginary past

I live in Boston, one of America's leading themed cities -- no longer standing alone and unafraid perhaps, we Bostonians still try to think politically in public. Even if its largely the regurgitations of our betters from higher elsewheres.

Take our cherished daily paper, the Globe. It's now a wholly owned subsidiary of New York's world-class Times, to which our paper bears about the same relationship as a national road show production bears to the original on Broadway.

In keeping with our status as re-chewers of the memes of our betters, don't we have a nice reworking by David Greenberg of Peter Beinart's recent haunch of "usable past" -- i.e. the resurrection of the deeds and creeds of famous liberal cold warriors long since dribbly and doddering, if not stone cold dead.

I point it out just for the comedy kick. Beinart via Greenberg is very like what we used to call, back in the late 60's, all those relentlessly crass teen pandering pop remakes: a bubblegum cover.

A few excerpts, with midrash from yours truly:

By the end of his presidency, Bill Clinton had come to be a champion of intervention,
Indeed, the Captain Kirk of the human rights empire.
anti-imperialist activists have conquered the blogosphere
Interesting how the word "anti-interventionist" is studiously avoided for the more contentious "anti-imperialist".
The Democratic party's rift between liberal internationalists and radical anti-imperialists is, of course, decades old.
Priceless prose, of course, but besides, notice the belt and suspenders compulsion -- "radical anti-imperialism" -- as opposed to what?
Beinart persuasively shows that calls by today's liberals for America to actively project its power abroad represent not a betrayal of principle but a return to what liberalism is really all about.
Well, Lord knows that's true enough.
The key moment ..... In 1946 a divide over foreign affairs emerged on the left ... On one side President Truman and like-minded liberals saw in Josef Stalin's ambitions and barbarism a threat to Europe's freedom -- and to America's world position.... In contrast, leftists such as Commerce Secretary Henry A. Wallace favored a conciliatory stand toward the Soviet Union as a step toward peaceful coexistence.
Greenberg tries to make this Harry vs Henry set-to look like a fair fight, won on principle because:
a small band of anti-Communist liberals led by Eleanor Roosevelt and Hubert Humphrey stepped to the fore to provide ideological direction. In 1947, they transformed a faltering liberal-labor alliance known as the Union for Democratic Action into Americans for Democratic Action, proclaiming a ''two-front fight for democracy, both at home and abroad."

ADA believed that ''fellow traveling" -- making common cause with American Communists and looking the other way at Stalin's crimes -- would betray liberalism's core values and hinder its quest for reform.

When in 1947 Truman proposed to help the governments of Greece and Turkey put down Communist insurgencies, Wallaceites called the move ''American imperialism."

Plus ca change ... this dribble could have come right out of a New York Times editorial from the period in question. But let's move on on to act two, the Nambo debacle:
"The Vietnam War, of course, wasn't a necessary outgrowth of liberal internationalism"
Really? Note too that we have skipped the crossing of the 38th parallel in Korea in 1950 -- when containment first clearly morphed into rollback.
Many of these (60's) leftists held no love for Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, or liberalism itself. They saw scant difference between the parties....
Plus ca change... oh, I already said that.

When, like now, the liberals saw the Nam caper going south and turned against it too --

Liberals saw the war as a miscarriage of containment
... not not NOT:
an expression of American imperialism.
For my money, here's the money quote:
Beinart highlights as a telling moment the decision in 1965 by Students for a Democratic Society to delete the word ''totalitarian" from the description of the kinds of regimes it opposed- "a final break with the liberal tradition," he asserts.
Again, I couldn't agree more. The concept of totalitarianism is, or was, the linchpin of liberal preemptive interventionism -- the same kind of ideological construct that "terrorism" is now. Without some mythic notion of the mutant rogue post liberal nightmare -- a totalized state then, a failed state now -- the whole liberal grand Guignol collapses.

Here's the final hand-wringer .

Since 2002, then, the Democrats' dilemma has been that the two main foreign policy issues, Iraq and terrorism, suggest different, if not opposite, remedies. Iraq, underscoring the perils of reckless military intervention, calls forth a fear of unintended consequences and recommends a policy of humility and restraint. In contrast, the continuing danger of terrorism by al Qaeda and kindred groups entails a policy of bold and at times aggressive involvement around the globe.
You can always tell a truly mighty thinker by his tragic view of history.

May 27, 2006

Doing bad by doing good

The fear of failed states -- that's the terror war's version of the cold war's fear of successful states.

An irresistible itch to help -- that's how a goo-goo tolerence of empire gets built.

Shall we snatch sources from deep into the 11th century? The crusades -- take a quick look at the alibi of the conquistador -- and closer to our burgher home time, land in the missionary position.

Folks, we need total abstinence here -- just say no. No helpful intervening. Ever. Leave the monsters to be dealt with by their own victims. Stay out. Stay away. We can only make it worse.

Good intentions are easily reshaped to "private gain" purposes -- take trade and gunplay -- they always get mixed into each other.

It started with Jefferson and the Barbary coast: the corsair harbor states were stealing our wares (an anti-competitive Brit setup in fact), so Marse Tom hit the shores of Tripoli.

Well, not the Massah himself -- that I could condone -- if the commander in chief is required to lead the raid or expedition in person, and challenge the top bad fellah to a little mano a mano -- oh, but I dribble on here.

You get the picture. We goo-goos can't resist giving help. But our hands are filled with poison apples, whether we like it or not. Stay home. Don't even send flowers. One unilateral bag of corn is too much, and a billion bombs is never enough.

June 4, 2006

So bad we're good... so good we're bad... or something

Peter Beinart, with an ingenuity that would evoke an admiring whistle from John Donne, has figured out that Haditha shows what a good country we really are:

This horrible story... powerfully underscores the liberal vision, which is this. We are not angels: without sufficient moral and legal restrictions, and under conditions of extreme stress, Americans can be as barbaric as anyone. What's makes us an exceptional nation with the capacity to lead and inspire the world is our very recognition of that fact. We are capable of Hadithas and My Lais, so is everyone. But few societies are capable of acknowledging what happened, bringing the killers to justice, and instituting changes that make it less likely to happen again. That's how we show we are different from the jihadists. We don't just assert it. We prove it. That's the liberal version of American exceptionalism, and it's what we need right now in response to this horror.
Another rich text -- every word a profoundly revealing symptom. "Under conditions of extreme stress," Americans can be as bad as the rest of the benighted world -- but not, presumably, otherwise. And of course we don't need to drop the doctrine of American exceptionalism -- we just need to re-emphasize it, with a little moral topspin. And remember, oh always remember, we're better than the "jihadists" -- run that by me again, Pete, I'm not quite sure I got it. They fly aircraft into buildings; we drop cluster bombs. Is it that old wholesale-versus-retail thing?

And then -- "underscores the liberal vision." Well, I'll say. It's a little like My Lai that way.

Exceptionalism seems to be an occupational hazard of empire. The depressing thing is how long it takes to get over it. The Brits still think they're different from everybody else -- well, maybe not the younger generation, but it's still pretty strong among Brits born before, say, 1960. And their empire went up in smoke sixty years ago.

But the Spaniards have recovered, and so have the Portuguese, and the Dutch are doing pretty well. There is hope. I should live so long as to see the day when an American speaker, addressing an American audience, will say, "We're just like everybody else," and get a round of applause.

June 27, 2006

Ralph and the two cultures

Just read a post at Counterpunch by Ralph N -- it was oddly loose, so I'm not sure I got his point.

It was a comparison of two cultures -- liberal and conservative -- and despite its apparently slapdash scurry two passages caused me to reach a conclusion of my own. The first, about activities dominated by the liberal hemisphere:

... more passive, spectator, celluloid or "cool" internet occasions. And after a while a chronically humorous way of looking at politics becomes a distraction, even though it may be a style that avoids commercial media censorship.
But then his second passage says:
Politics, even in an age of electronic supremacy, is still strongly moved by the person-to-person, conversational, affinity, communal groupings in our society.
I.e., the liberals organize all wrong. Get out into the streets, storm the glass towers occupy the plants, shut down the high schools! Action, action, action!

July 6, 2006

Lifestyle over life substance

Here's the one and only Ralph, commenting on the New Democratic follies since '92:
More than any other single issue, save possibly health insurance for all, their reluctance to boldly and visibly champion the living wage has cost them the Presidential and Congressional elections...
... And yet to the party of From-ery, these lower level blue-collars are a no-go. Even if they're not an endangered species, like their upper-level bro's in the industrial unions, these low riders aren't big voters; they buy into Jesus; and they can't pay for delivered favors with donated funds.

It's the yellow-bellied swingers that really rock the Kasbah, cause they share the lib donor elite's fave culture issues: rewards for non-marketable merits, total self-improvement, a brilliant pair of personal children, and sexual liberty.

Oh yeah, and possibly medical immortality.

October 30, 2006

Giants in the earth, my ass

Today one Tony Judt drifts into my crosshairs:
Why have American liberals acquiesced in President Bush’s catastrophic foreign policy? Why have they so little to say about Iraq, about Lebanon, or about reports of a planned attack on Iran? Why has the administration’s sustained attack on civil liberties and international law aroused so little opposition or anger from those who used to care most about these things? Why, in short, has the liberal intelligentsia of the United States in recent years kept its head safely below the parapet?

It wasn’t always so. On 26 October 1988, the New York Times carried a full-page advertisement for liberalism. Headed ‘A Reaffirmation of Principle’, it openly rebuked Ronald Reagan for deriding ‘the dreaded L-word’ and treating ‘liberals’ and ‘liberalism’ as terms of opprobrium.

"Rebuke he needs," as the immortal Yoda might say. Tony purports to show up my own acid rock era's liberality, by contrasting it to those older softies, marinated in the class acids of the Great Depression.

He points to a way, way too late (1988!) press vamp by a pack of celeb cold war ADA types, as proof positive and conclusive of how these stalwarts -- unlike their Woodstock epigones -- spoke decency and light to the evil empire.

Horse feathers!

They had their moment in 1947-49, when the evil empire was ramping up for a 5 trillion dollar potlatch, and what did they do? They shit in the rosebed. Yup, at the witching hour, imperial crap came out of them like chocolate comes out of Hershey, PA. No way can we talk of a "Greatest Generation" of liberals. The challenge of their lifetime they did not meet, at the one moment that mattered.

Tony, you'd better find a better bludgeon, if you wanna beat up the weirdest generation's best and brightest.

But the point here is not to beat up Tony -- what I'm arguing is a parallel, not a contrast, between the present-day GWOT liberals, and the Truman liberals of the late 40's. Even some of the current crop -- Beinart, for example -- wallow in this parallel, and they aren't wrong. Each phalanx, the 40's vintage and today's update, were and are gallantly prepared to tarnish their angel wings for the good of tomorrow's whole earth liberty. The commie threat and the jihadi threat are equally adequate reasons to check your higher principles at the entrance to the arena.

Now of course we can tie a bow around TJ's 1988 letter. It was written after -- long after -- these Truman liberals had performed their world historical mission: driving the new frontier war wagon straight into the Nam quag. Long after they had backed off their own creation in horror.

And yet, even with the recognition of their ghastly handiwork -- and here's the key point -- most of these towering liberal worthies still felt no collective need for an "agonizing reappraisal." Nor, I suspect, will most of the present crowd. The Bidens, the Kerry trees and Mother Courage Clinton herself will not see their intellectual cheering section demand an investigation of these new Dems -- instead, we'll get the further demonization of the demons already at hand. And the upshot, needless to say, will be another another Nam. Or rather, yet another Nam; We've already had one sequel already: Iraq.

Yes, Iraq is not likely to be enough. But then again, perhaps the parallel will break down. Perhaps this time the world historical mission of the latest Dem mind midgets may simply be to pull a de facto "me too," while blaming the next debacle, like they have this one, on the trog wing of the Repubs.

Hey, blaming it on the other party, while throw bombs around like a circus ape, worked pretty well for -- you guessed it -- Nixon!

March 4, 2007

Gone, forgotten, and unmissed

Mister Vital Center himself, Arthur Schlesinger, is dead --,0,2192989.story?track=ntottext

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

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

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

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

April 15, 2007

Butt plug

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

April 16, 2007

The road to prison: paved with good intentions

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


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

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

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

June 3, 2007

Liberals for... Ford?

Carl Remick writes:

Utility opinionmonger Frank Rich of the NY Times, who can bat out Broadway reviews and political thumbsuckers with equal ease, has an entirely undeserved reputation as a scourge of America's deepening decadence. In truth, he's as much a misty-eyed sentimentalist about the supposedly permanent strength of America's "vital center" as the now-dead NYT columnist James Reston or the somewhat-alive WashPo pundit David Broder. Rich's column today is a classic: Saying that "Americans are exhausted by anger" due to the gross incompetence of the Bush Administration, Rich claims that the nation yearns for a "healer" like Gerry Ford rather than some firebrand ideologue (read: leftist) capable of challenging conventional pieties. Excerpt:

... [T]here's a strange paradox here. The decibel level of the fin-de-Bush rage is a bit of a red herring. In truth, there is some consensus among Americans about the issues that are dividing both parties. ... This relatively unified America can't be compared with that of the second Nixon term, when the violent cultural and political upheavals of the late 1960s were still fresh. But in at least one way there may be a precise political parallel in the aftermaths of two failed presidencies rent by catastrophic wars: Americans are exhausted by anger itself and are praying for the mood pendulum to swing.

Gerald Ford implicitly captured that sentiment when he described himself as a healer.... We can see this equation at work now in Mitt Romney's unflappable game-show-host persona, in John McCain's unconvincing efforts to emulate a Reagan grin and in the unlikely spectacle of Rudy Giuliani trading in his congenital scowl for a sunny disposition.

The Democratic boomlet for Barack Obama is the flip side of the same coin: his views don't differ radically from those of most of his rivals, but his conciliatory personality is the essence of calm....

I dunno, Carl. Obama as the (sort of) black Gerald Ford? That's pretty funny, actually.

September 3, 2007

Nanny Edwards

Mike Flugennock writes:

Am I the only one noticing a kind of trendlet towards companies looking to "inspire" legislation that causes people to become "customers" forcibly? Y'know, like any number of baby car seat laws that specify a certain kind/rating of seat, or the Massachusetts Miracle?

And, talk about shameless -- why am I not surprised that [Edwards would] try and make some political hay out of his wife's breast cancer? Of course, I recall that being one of your "hipper" diseases these days, along with Restless Leg Syndrome, Acid Reflux and UBS With Constipation:

TIPTON, Iowa - Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards said on Sunday that his universal health care proposal would require that Americans go to the doctor for preventive care.

...Edwards, who has been criticized by some for calling on Americans to be willing to give up their SUVs while driving one, acknowledged Sunday that he owns a Ford Escape hybrid SUV, purchased within the year, and a Chrysler Pacificia, which he said he has had for years.

November 8, 2007


There was a time when conservatives used to commonly insult liberals with an accusation that they were empty “pomo relativists.”

Big Prog Blog

The Democrats are empty pomo relativists. That’s one reason why the insult works so well.

The Republican is a simple creature. He sees Clinton kick the bloody guts out of small countries. So it’s only fair for Bush to get a turn. Clinton got his chance to extraodinarily rendition evildoers. Bush deserves his chance at that too. The Republican sees Clinton pass security state legislation, but the Democrats howl with dismay when Bush does, even though their leaders go along with him. The Republican rages against RINOs, but lines up behind them just the same at election time. He sees the Democrats rage against DINOs, but line up behind them just the same. The Republican reads “Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under My Bed!” to his kids. The Democrat reads “Why Mommy is a Democrat” to his. The Democrat has his bad faith, Nader-baiting dolchstosslegende. Therefore the Republican is entitled to have his bad faith prog-baiting dolchstosslegende. But the Democrats cavil about that, proving to the Republicans once again that they’re miserably dishonest and unfair.

The Republican knows that Democrats are not only just like him — feckless, wrathful, infantilized, incapable of acting on their convictions — they’re also hypocrites who enjoy deluding themselves about the way the real world works. So when a wingnut überdude calls them names, they’ve got it coming and better just suck it up, the whining so-and-sos. They’ll have their chance for payback in the Clinton Restoration.

The Republican world view is a stupid, simplistic and vicious one, but it is arguably more coherent than the Democrat’s.

And that’s a very sad thing :’-(

November 29, 2007

Krug grande cuvee

While reading Paul Krugman's latest pamphlet, "Conscience of a Liberal," it occured to me Paul don't get the democracy thing.

A liberal elite used the New Deal to reform "American society" from the top down, i.e. through the power of the Federal government. Paul sees this result, and not only does he, like his Creator, call this outcome "good", he also calls it... democratic.

I guess this is 'cause he sees its "goodness" as good for the lower three fifths of the nation -- the majority <>en soi if not pour soi.

Liberals always know what's best for you, just like business men know what's best for them.

Now we all know FDR wanted a party re-alignment -- a liberal and a conservative duopoly -- after the emergence of the Repug/Dixiecrat de facto majority in '37. So he tried to purge the Dixies out of his party, and merge with the repug progressives -- right? But he failed, or at least died before he could succeed.

Truman barely kept the team on the field; Kennedy was a beacon without a searchlight; but, err, Johnson succeeded, and that's where Paul K don't get the real deal.

A liberal vision might not always or mostly or even often be the choice of the electoral majority, and in fact it wasn't from about '46 to '64.

The liberal elite during that long spell of cold war and hot wages was acting from power through power as much as ever, but on a population that wanted no more New Deals -- only the same old New Deal. Hell, it was working for them, right?

Then after the Dallas martyrdom, Lyndon took Clio's sudden real opening and made a second big push; and again the majority said no mas, and this time, unlike the last time, the Dixiecrats left and the bicoastal liberal elite after 68-72 had to deal with their semi-permanent minority party status, as did the populist Dem Bryanists after '96-00, and the Republican Babbits after 32-36.

Paul may want to conflate best for the majority with the workings of democracy but he can't get away with it here -- not at the center of empire, at least.

February 28, 2008

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.

June 12, 2008

The Ministry Of Silly Hats

I. Iconography of the enhanced cranium

The bike helmet ought to be the emblematic headgear of liberalism, as the mitre is of episcopacy and the Borsalino fedora of orthodox Judaism.

All clothing is a system of signs, of course, and all clothing choices say something. But headgear speaks a lot louder than, say, socks. Maybe even louder than shoes. What does the bike helmet say?

Most importantly, it says that the wearer cares a lot about safety. In fact, he cares more about safety than dignity. He's so concerned about safety that he doesn't mind looking like an idiot.

Even liberals, of course, don't wear bike helmets on the crapper, or in the shower, where so many deadly falls occur. So there are -- at least for the present -- some limits to the liberal's concern for safety. What, precisely, defines those limits?

The answer is easy. The liberal needs prophylaxis when he (or she) is doing something deviant. Cycling, say, or non-marital sex.

Now the safety-conscious liberal could just strap a pillow on his/her head and secure it with a hand-knotted, hempen macrame band. But that would be a bit trailer-park and un-technological. The liberal always wants a solution expertly engineered by a person with sound academic qualifications, working on some large organization's R&D budget.

Say what you will about the modern bike helmet, it certainly is that -- or appears to be that, anyway. The complex curves! The intricate system of vents! The lift spoiler and the aerodynamic little beak, which dissipates the shock-wave front (guaranteed effective up to Mach 2.56) and also prevents melanoma on the bridge of the nose!

Seldom in daily life do we see the rhetoric of high technology exhibited with this kind of studied, elaborate virtuosity. Obama's bike helmet is such an obviously consummate triumph of engineering, it makes the B-2 bomber look a little clunky and pedestrian.

So the liberal, in his bike helmet, still looks like an idiot -- but an idiot who possesses the very latest and highest technology.

How very American.

* * *

II. You'll be safe. Whether you like it or not

Since I ride a bike myself -- probably more often than Obama does -- I'm very familiar with the missionary zeal of helmet Pharisees: the folks who are not only happy to look ridiculous themselves for the sake of some more or less illusory increment of safety, but who are also determined to make everybody else look ridiculous too.

This too is part of the liberal canon: to make people do things for their own good. People ought to have health insurance -- well, make 'em buy it. Or else.

* * *

III. Helmet to helmet

The last Democratic presidential candidate I remember seeing in a helmet was Michael Dukakis:

Now on the surface you might think these images are opposites. Obama, even when he's being dorky, looks cool, and poor Dukakis always looked dorkier the cooler he tried to be. Dukakis was riding in a tank -- surely the ne plus ultra of bad transportation choices -- and Obama on a bicycle, surely the second most benign (human feet, of course, take the number-one spot).

But it's more interesting to ponder what these images might have in common. One word: safety.

The world is such a dangerous place. There are all those furious towel-heads out there -- towel-heads whom we have made furious, of course, by messing with them for the last sixty years or so, but still. And there are all those cars out there on the road -- cars that we have encouraged people to buy, and subsidized them to drive. But still.

Strap on the helmet. And, if you want to be really safe, line it with tinfoil.

October 23, 2008

Salvation through fanship

In an earlier post, I marveled at the apparent thick-headedness of some of my neighbors -- elderly upper-west-siders who have seen more of history than I have, and who are certainly no dumber than I am. Yet these alter-kakers are all suddenly decked out in Obamawear -- the hats, the shirts, you've seen it -- and looking very smug.

This in New York, where their efforts -- such as they may be -- are obviously nugatory. The only way Obama could fail to carry this state is to be found in bed with a live boy, a dead woman, Jesse Jackson, and Osama bin Laden, all at the same time.

Part of it, of course, is that many of my neighbors are celebrating, perhaps slightly over-celebrating, a personal moral victory. Yeah, the guy's a schwartzer, but hey, he's a Democrat -- so he's my man. I'm not prejudiced, you know.

But that just pushes the question back a step, doesn't it? Whence arises the psychic income of voting -- even working -- for a Democrat, schwartzer though he may be?

Most of these folks don't appear to be hurting. They can, it seems, afford their exorbitant Manhattan rents or co-op maintenance payments. The Bush years, bad as they may have been for people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Dearborn, and other areas of the Third World, haven't taken too much wind out of my neighbors' sails. But their animus against the current Chief Executive is very intense, and their enthusiasm for the schwartzer correspondingly keen.

There is, of course, the culture thing. They can't stand a hick, my neighbors -- either a halfway real hick, like Sarah Palin, or a totally faux hick, like G W Bush. Those voices, those accents -- vade retro!

But I think the bottom line is that my neighbors believe, like the folks who bought Johann Tetzel's indulgences back in the day, in salvation by works -- where the works in question are inconsequential piaculative acts: a copper coin in the poorbox, a quick little circuit of the Stations in the parish church.

In fact, the inconsequence of supporting Obama is part -- a very important part -- of its charm. These folks don't really want anything to change very much. Why should they? They're not hurting.

But they like to feel righteous, my neighbors. They like to believe they're on the side of the angels. They want their ticket punched: This is to certify that the bearer has done his or her bit for enlightenment, humane values, and peace -- once those pesky terrorists are taken care of. In the meantime, of course, war is fine -- as long as it's smart war, not stupid hick war.

Bush and Co. are obviously bad people. My neighbors think of themselves as good people. And yet one would not really want to turn the world upside down, would one? Surely the badness of our nation can't be... structural? Surely it's just because bad stupid hick-like people are running the show?

Comes now Mr Obama, with his un-hick-like demeanor, his manifest intelligence, and his soothingly obvious determination to keep the world right side up. What could be better? Obamaphilia registers your commitment to intelligence, un-hickery -- and the world as it is.

April 3, 2009

Liberal Internationalism

Gideon Rachman warns the leaders of Europe that spurning Comprador-in-Chief Obama could give strength to the voices of isolationism and protectionism. I certainly hope so. They're several cuts above the voices of aggrieved yuppie narcissism and disingenuous oligarch-scolding that presently dominate the debate. But I don't think he needs to worry. Whatever euphemisms and branding they manage to shovel into the headlines, whatever tiffs, spats and tizzies they may throw, the world's leaders are going to attempt to salvage as much of the existing order as they can. That's their mandate. If that means they need a new name for "liberal internationalism", that's what they'll concoct. The worst outcome for pundits is having to learn new euphemisms. Unless...

Look homewards, America! Tend the hearths and look after your neighbors! Protectionism and isolationism are the way to go. The European oligarchs can look after themselves, thanks to the money funneled through AIG. Concern for their welfare is touching, but misplaced. They have their own countries to loot. They must learn to make do with that. The squalor of millions instead of billions would require a period of adjustment, but these are strong individuals, with an instinct for cannibalism, admittedly, but strong nevertheless. It's no kindness to coddle them; they're bound to feel resentful. Our homegrown oligarchs will undoubtedly fuss and behave badly. They paid good money for a salvage operation, but some quiet time is in their interest too. A period of reflection will help their moral character. If they genuinely prefer acrimony, instead, they can take turns tossing each other under the bus. Good things can come from isolationism and protectionism.

July 5, 2010

Liberalism with woodchuck characteristics

Tom Tomorrow's cartoon explains it.

It's an apt choice. From Wikipedia,

Groundhogs raised in captivity can be socialized relatively easily; however, their aggressive nature can pose problems. Doug Schwartz, a zookeeper and groundhog trainer at the Staten Island Zoo, has been quoted as saying "They’re known for their aggression, so you’re starting from a hard place. [Their] natural impulse is to kill ’em all and let God sort ’em out. You have to work to produce the sweet and cuddly."


September 30, 2010

A Marvel, A Thing Of Wonder

Have we been too hard on liberal bloggers? I ask in all seriousness*, because according to Peter Daou it looks like they're set to destroy the Obama regime. Skeptics (link credit) will no doubt have some fun with this, but I want to raise the question: are left liberals destroying the Obama presidency?


Obama and his merry crew had a business model. They've done precisely what they set out to do. Now they need scapegoats and flying monkey Peter Daou has sent out a call for unpaid ankle biters.

*"Seriousness" defined as the unexpected joy of discovering I've actually underestimated the sheer mindless fatuity of Democratic hacks.

October 28, 2010

Trahison des clercs

IOZ, whom I am finding increasingly indispensable, recently took a jab in passing at this rather remarkable essay from the pen of Chris Hedges:

The lunatic fringe of the Republican Party, which looks set to make sweeping gains in the midterm elections, is the direct result of a collapse of liberalism. It is the product of bankrupt liberal institutions [which] abetted or did nothing to halt the corporate assault on the poor and the working class of the last 30 years... The liberal class... failed to defend traditional liberal values during the long night of corporate assault....
And so on at some length.

Now I love to see the liberals get beaten up, and Chris' language is suitably scathing. But there's something off about it.

Let's start with the very first sentence, about a "collapse of liberalism". No such thing happened. Liberals have not become less numerous, or less secure in their views, in the last 30 years.

Of course they have continued to serve, as they always have served, the structures of power which engendered and incubated a "liberal class" in the first place. But they have never abandoned the kindly pious hopes they have always cherished for nicer behavior on the part of those who wield power.

That the power-wielders paid no attention was hardly the liberals' fault; and the liberals quite properly responded to this indifference with redoubled sedulousness in reciting the Liturgy of Deploration, which is one of their important social functions.

The most curious thing about Hedges' piece is that he seems to believe there was a time when liberals called the shots, and that they somehow culpably dropped the ball. To mix a metaphor. But mixed or not, this story has no resemblance to reality. Hedges apparently thinks that the "liberal class" as such once had some agency:

The liberal class, which once made piecemeal and incremental reform possible, functioned traditionally as a safety valve. During the Great Depression, with the collapse of capitalism, it made possible the New Deal.
The liberals "made reform possible"? This is utter nonsense. What happened was that the power-wielders became frightened enough of social upheaval to believe that reform was necessary -- to be rolled back, of course, as soon as the crisis passed.

Liberals thinking they made the New Deal possible is like the rooster thinking he made the sun rise; and blaming the liberals for the ascent of the Tea Party is, correspondingly, like blaming the rooster for the gathering darkness.

If the rooster had only crowed a little louder, then the sun would not have set.

October 29, 2010

NOBODY expects the Knights Templar

"The liberal class, in our age of neo-feudalism, is now powerless. It offers nothing but empty rhetoric."
--Christopher Robin Hedgerow III
This could have, maybe more properly should have, been a comment caged here, but I think this notion of "neo-feudalism" absolutely marks its white hat author as a self-certified ignoramus, though one who prolly spells everything correctly and knows a very extensive catechism he's able to apply universally and with the rapid reflexes of a karate master; a battered soul that can recount ten thousand outrages to his own personal good conscience, outrages perp'ed by his fellow Americans of the corporate authoritarian and/or professional liberal kind alike.

But "neo-feudalism"? What manner of slouching beast be that? I was led to believe we lived... mostly... in an age of global, multinational, for-profit, limited-liability corporate hegemony, and I can't see a whiskers worth of feudalism in any of it, neo- or updated or redacted or progresso-fitted or reinvented or mystically conjured or whatever.

These fanciful marzipan and dungheap concoctions, these figurative frightwig memes, usually the work of our nonstop chorus of elfin library-glued secular scarecrows, like our boy Hedges here, that clog the collective analytic faculty of a once crafty and boldly pragmatic settler nation... These pointy heads and squash brains are a serious menace to us all with their ersatz gospel and scattered leaves of liberal grass.

Friars like brother Chris here, their skulls filled with hyped-up indignation, end up with no place to go and nothing more fulfilling to do than open their bedroom window and cry "socialism!" in the night -- and by the way, that's a particularly refined brand of socialism, my fellow critters; a socialism safe for humanist sensibilities; a socialism that fits the foot of Luftmensch pilgrims like a moccasin. Slow-shialism socialism. Candle in hand socialism. Passive agression in the hind quarters socialism. The kind of socialism that poor old whisky and rye Debs would race right up to, and bite its dick off, if it had one.

"Please good people of mother Earth, gather together... gather around this candy pole of progress here...rally to us and our song, all you goo-goo mild genteel flan-brained types, all you of the higher literacy and well-tempered tastes!

(WARNING: these congregations are rated "fragile": no anarcho narco-nihilists allowed at any club gatherings without an accompanying adult.)

Well, why not? There's a socialism for every class, or so say them damn Furry Freak Brothers of the Rhineland.

November 10, 2010

The shade of Andrew Jackson

Last week, after the electoral deluge, some interesting responses showed up on my lefty mailing lists. Here's one:

So Washington state voters rejected the income tax on $200,000+ households, but approved the lifting of the sales tax on candy and soda! I'm tempted to make some obvious joke about bloated, toothless idiots serving their masters, but that would be to blame the victim, wouldn't it?
The first question that leapt to mind was, whence the 'but'? It's not as though there were some inconsistency. People don't like taxes, and why should they?

There's something larger here, though. I've seen a lot of it over the last year or so, from all points on the left-of-right political spectrum. Dembots to Trots almost universally agree that there's something wrong and unreasonable about Amurricans' dislike of Gummint -- as if the voters' anti-Gummit sentiments really reflected a judgement on the idea of Government in the abstract, rather than a concrete judgement on the government they actually have.

This concrete judgement can hardly be faulted.

Everybody approves of Gummint expenditures on his or her own behalf, and disapproves of expenditures for anybody else. That's just human nature. And a general, settled mistrust that actually-existing Gummint will take the dollars I give it and do anything with them that's going to be very good for me -- that mistrust, for the average Joe and Jane, is very well-founded, though it may be more instinctive than thought-out.

Streets? Cops? Teachers?

People like having streets provided for them as long as they're provided free, or apparently free. But if people would rather not pay for 'em, then depave 'em and plant 'em with something green. The SUV becomes a lawn ornament. Surely this would be an improvement.

Cops? People like watching cop shows, because in cop shows they identify with the cops. Watching these stories costs nothing. Actual encounters with real cops are likely to be far less satisfactory. So the obvious conclusion is that we should have more cop shows, supported by advertising, and fewer real cops supported by taxes.

As for teachers -- here again we have teaching in the abstract on one side, and actual concrete schooling on the other. If the benighted voters, bewailed in the quote with which we began, feel like shutting off the spigot to the actual teachers that they and their kids have dealt with, I'm with 'em.

Oh sure, I've met some wonderful teachers -- wonderful as human beings, I mean. And everybody believes in Education in the abstract, as they disbelieve in Gummint in the abstract. But in the concrete -- in people's actual experience of teachers, functioning in ways defined and delimited by the iniquitous institutions that employ them, and in their actual experience of a Gummint wholly owned and controlled by people with interests utterly inimical to their own -- who can blame these crazy voters for pulling the "No" lever?

December 31, 2010

The Voice Of Moderation

...consider the modern system of presidential primaries. Through most of American history, somebody like Sarah Palin could never have gained the support of party leaders who dominated the traditional party conventions. But today’s primary system—dominant only since 1972—permits right- or left-extremists to win a major party nomination.

Bruce Ackerman

Indeed! Just look at the extreme left nominees from the Democratic Party. Walter Mondale led the jacquerie that sacked Fairfax County and torched the CIA headquarters at Langley. John Kerry will go down in history as the John Brown of Wall Street. His last stand at the New York Fed is part of the urban warfare studies program at West Point. Barack Obama narrowly beat back a challenge from Hillary Clinton, whose Che beret and guerilla army of AK47-toting Pumas struck fear throughout the Mid West.

Truly, we live in parlous times. The rest of the Ackerman article is just as insightful, by the way. For example,

This isn’t the place to get into further details—the key point is to create an institution with the integrity necessary to say “No” when the president is violating Congress’ commands.

Thank God he does go into details, inapprorpiate place notwithstanding. To the uninitiated, that institution would be Congress. I think there was some moldy old document or another that outlined the procedures, responsibilities and stuff. But anyway, if it's not up to the task, and clearly it isn't, then Ackerman has a swell idea. He calls it the Supreme Executive Tribunal.

The point of the Supreme Executive Tribunal is to apply a legalistic break at a far earlier stage in the life-cycle of a runaway presidency—requiring the president’s lawyers to defend their actions in front of the tribunal before they go into effect.

Whoo! Boy that'll cramp the style of a rampaging president. The essential component, and I think Bruce would agree, is to make sure only the most thoughtful, deep thinking jurists are appointed to the Supreme Executive Tribunal. They should be people who, well, they should be people like Bruce, and maybe Todd Gitlin and that nudge guy, Cass Sunstein.

The late Tony Judt called liberals "Bush's useful idiots". Bruce and Todd responded by answering to the name of liberals. They said so. They said "we answer to the name of liberals"—not useful idiots, liberals. They made a point of that. Judt was wrong about them, of course. They are not useful in any way.

March 4, 2011

Frugal Pharisees

The NY Times has a cud-chewing piece on the "tide of remedial students" entering the city university system. "Tide"? Their institutional gift for infelicity remains untrammeled by experience or humane considerations. It gets worse from there in the usual style; insinuations and the shallowest prurient interest—both intended to display a decent regard and adult responsibility, both failing completely. They can't bring themselves to say, straight out, that Bloomberg's teacher-baiting and child-grinding initiatives have made things worse.

Nor can they bring themselves to point out the obvious. The other prosperous social democracies get better educational "metrics" for less direct educational money because they offer a comprehensive system of social services and support. It's not hard to understand what's happening in US schools. Children whose parents endure constant stress will be stressed themselves. Children whose parents are subjected to a series of petty and gross humiliations are going to be scared. They're going to have a hard time, and if they're treated like criminals at school they're going to conclude that they're hated.

After all that, some are still going to try to make the best of a bad situation, and will still want a credential that might reduce their exposure to being treated like shit. They're going to need help with that. So, yeah, "remedial" education.

On a positive note, the NY Times recognizes that the students who do get some support are able to pass standardized tests. Thanks!

May 6, 2011

More Zionist comedy at New York's own university

That's Benno Schmidt, center, above. Schmidt used to be president of Yale and has more recently descended to the 'umble post of chairman of the Board of Trustees of the City University of New York (CUNY) -- the body which recently allowed itself to be stampeded by ultra-Zionist fanatic trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld into denying middlebrow playwright Tony Kushner an honorary degree, apparently because Kushner is something less than a full-blown blood-to-the-elbows Likudnik.

Now it seems the institution is sophisticated enough to have figured out that this particular witch-hunt turned up somebody embarrassingly un-witchlike -- to wit, a mere liberal-schmiberal hand-wringer who "firmly supports Israel's right to exist" but wishes Israel would exist in a nicer way. So a backpedal is in progress. CUNY will sheepishly give the honorary sheepskin -- or goatskin, as the case may be -- and a mollified Kushner will graciously accept it, after much indignant Oscar Jaffe huffle-puffle about how badly he has been treated. I close the iron door! -- Okay, okay, I open the iron door. Just a crack. Fold that sheepskin and slip it in. Now go away, and you're lucky I don't criticize you more severely.

So far, so predictable. But here's the funny part. Thus Benno:

If it were appropriate for us to take politics into account in deciding whether to approve an honorary degree, I might agree with Trustee Wiesenfeld, whose political views on the matters in controversy are not far distant from my own.
Now if words mean anything, we can only conclude from this that Schmidt, too, finds Kushner's political views -- such as they are -- to be beyond the pale, you should pardon the expression. But it's a question of due process and perhaps of meritocracy, you see, so we're not supposed to take Kushner's unspeakably vile political views into account.

Here's a sample of Wiesenfeld's own political views, "not far distant" from Schmidt's, sicut ipse dixit:

[The reporter] tried to ask a question about... which side was more callous toward human life, and who was most protective of it.

But Mr. Wiesenfeld interrupted and said the question was offensive because “the comparison sets up a moral equivalence.”

Equivalence between what and what? “Between the Palestinians and Israelis,” he said. “People who worship death for their children are not human.”

Did he mean the Palestinians were not human? “They have developed a culture which is unprecedented in human history,” he said.

Unlike the Israelis, who have developed a culture for which there is, alas, ample precedent.

August 12, 2012

Is this really FDL?

Color me surprised. The last time I read FDL, it was page after page of 'lookit teh wingnut!' The ankle biting squads, nader-baiters and moderators went batshit over lese majeste. They gassed their own people, if you will. So what's the deal with this? Is it real?

About Liberal,schmiberal

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Stop Me Before I Vote Again in the Liberal,schmiberal category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Lefties For War is the previous category.

Lower your expectations is the next category.

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

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