Tuesday, September 30, 2008

FIRE sale

courtesy Avedon Carol, there's this simple slide show with stick figures(see controls on the lower left corner) explaining recent events. :^)

Although Avedon recognizes the bill that didn't pass on Monday was a bad one, she nevertheless buys into the notion that

"the Republicans tripped over their own fake-out this time by trying to simultaneously support and condemn the bailout bill. Weird."[one]
Sorry, I don't buy that it was just a "fake-out"; why shouldn't the GOP rank-and-file rebel when their hidebound leadership instruct them to cut their own throats?
"...apparently the vote on the deal failed, according to Atrios, because the crybabies are back - that is, the Republicans were miffed because Pelosi hurt their feelings, and therefore they decided not to bother to "help" the country during this totally-urgent-we're-all-gonna-die emergency."[two]

Barney Frank has been trying to sell this line since Monday afternoon, which (should be) just as transparent as the GOP leadership blaming the GOP defections from the bill on Pelosi's speech beforehand. The party leadership on both sides are probably relieved that no bill passed, insofar as whatever they mean to eventually foist on us will undoubtedly be pretty noxious and they're lining up their stories so they can blame the other side for the less salutary aspects-- which I'm guessing will be pretty much every aspect of the bill that finally passes, if one passes before the election.

That doesn't change the fact that the reason Barney Frank and Atrios and others are labeling this as a "hissy fit" is to prevent people from looking more closely at the collusion of the democrats in helping to bring us to the present state of affairs, or even looking at specific reasons that the opposition may have for opposing the present bill. Whether or not a better bill actually emerges is another matter, and I'll admit I suspect it's unlikely. Nevertheless, in the short term, putting the brakes on Monday afternoon was the best result possible.

Large numbers of people freaked out when the Dow lost 778 points on Monday, partly because the people on TV told them to fear the reaper if a deal didn't get done. OK, so it didn't. But the pesky dow gained back 485 points the next day, without a bill having been passed, and some people even reported seeing the sun shine.

Even if it proves to be transitory, reality intruded, casting in sharp relief the lies of all the sumbitches who want you to suspend your skepticism, and fear what you are told to fear when they want to ram through a poison-soaked piece of legislation to "help" you. I'm reminded of

this video.

Finally, here's a guy who thinks no deal is better than anything Washington is likely to concoct:

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Agreed Upon Lies

When I watched the first Presidential debate on Friday, in between bouts of infuriation, I tried to catch which "agreed upon lies" the two candidates accepted/promulgated.

One of my favorite sayings, attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte, is "History is a series of agreed upon lies." If you tie it to the maxim about how history is written by the winners, you get a fuller understanding of the meaning of this. You also get why Napoleon, being a loser, would come to this realization.

The history books you got in school left out key bits of information about things like slavery, the destruction of Native Americans by white settlers and whole major issues like labor and its struggles. Some of these things were big lies, some were big issues that were somehow overlooked. Even those of us who know about the dirty stuff have been raised with these lies and internally mediate between what we really know and what everyone has been taught. So the best lies are the ones we feel compelled go along with. In the heat of a political campaign we will forgive and forget when our guy doesn't step up.

With me so far?

Recognizing how you react to these lies will tip you off as to when you're being lied to in future debates. What often happens is that we will get upset or angry that our candidate (this year, Obama) didn't counter something that the other guy (McCain) said, or didn't exploit or point out an obvious lie. In a debate these moments come so fast that the emotion comes and goes before we can process it. We're on to the next topic, or the next lie, before we can rationally deal with it. So usually our reaction is, "Why did he...?" or more likely "Why didn't he...?" Cumulatively, you begin to think that your guy is kind of a wimp.

We end up with a knot in our stomach. So let's untangle the knot.

The first "agreed upon lie" was about the bailout. Not that they agreed on specifics. They pretty much agreed not to talk about it. It's very possible that neither man knew all the details of the deal being hashed out as they debated, but aside from how much they'd cut from the budget (and that was pretty vague too) or what they'd cut (McCain = just about everything, Obama = not so much) there wasn't much real talk about how this crisis came about (like all that deregulatin'). It was as if this huge thing just happened, like that Enron thingie just happened a few years ago.

Maybe we should give the two candidates a pass on the Wall Street bailout. After all, delicate negotiations were going on. Or something.

Lie #2 was the Iraq War. Okay, there were separation. McCain talked about how you have to stay in wars until you "win" so no one dies in vain and Obama talked about how he didn't want to go to war in the first place. Considering that the vast majority of Americans want out of Iraq you'd think that Obama could have exploited this topic a lot more.

The agreed upon lie was why there was a war against Iraq at all. Sometimes the politicians get dragged into knocking down the old excuses like Saddam's alleged connection to 9-11, Saddam's alleged connection to the anthrax attacks, Saddam's alleged nukes, Saddam's alleged missiles and drones (forgot about those, didn't you?), or just the general "Saddam was a bad man and wouldn't allow free elections" garbage. The real reason for the war? OIL. Oil and its control by the oil companies. Just imagine if Obama had said, "Look, everyone knows that this war was about Exxon and BP getting control of the oil in Iraq." Think about how his credibility would have gone through the roof. Even the dullest blade in the drawer would have slapped his forehead and said, "Of course!" And if Obama had followed up with, "And considering the cost of a gallon of gas now compared with what it was back in 2000 you can see that the interests of the oil companies and the American people aren't the same," there would be a united cheer rise up across the continent. Alternative energy would be just around the corner.

But Obama didn't. His opposition to the Iraq War was merely a judgment call: Iraq or Afghanistan. He was saying, "We can't afford both. We should have done Afghanistan because that's where bin Laden is/was." Forget the immorality of fighting a war in Iraq for the profits of corporations.

Which leads us to the lie of Afghanistan. That's the good war, right? If you go back and read the alternative press back during the 1990s there were stories about the proposed pipeline running from the oil-rich former "Stans" in Central Asia to the Indian Ocean. If you were a wacky conspiracy theorist you might think that after the negotiations between the Bush State Department and the Taliban broke down that 9-11 was staged in order to, among other things, invade Afghanistan and get the pipeline. But let's not go there.

So we're in Afghanistan in order to fight al Qaeda and the Taliban. Remember, the Taliban never attacked us. And Osama and the al Qaeda people who were given the blame for 9-11 were almost all Saudi. The Taliban were willing to hand over bin Laden if the U.S. promised he'd be tried in a third country, so it wasn't like they were absolutely opposed to bin Laden's prosecution. Still, we're in Afghanistan six years after Osama left. What's this all about?

Afghanistan is the war that Obama wants to pursue.

Which leads us to the next agreed upon lie: Georgia. The boundaries of the universe of choice presented by the two candidates is McCain's "Cold War Two because of those blood-thirsty Ruskies" versus Obama's more measured "We can't trust them because of this but we must talk to them". Both positions allow for a new anti-Russian military buildup.

When Georgia seceded from the old Soviet Union back in the early nineties both Abkhazia and South Ossetia wanted to remain with Russia. The populations were ethnically more Russian and there was some bad history with the Georgians. The reason why South Ossetia and Abkhazia were connected to Georgia in the first place was because in the 1920s Josef Stalin, who was an ethnic Georgian, put those two little provinces under Georgia's jurisdiction as part of a bureaucratic reorganization of the USSR. In fact, while "the West" didn't recognize their independence (compare to the West's embrace of those freedom-seeking Albanians in Kosovo), they functioned as independent from Georgia.

Mikhail Saakashvili was trained in the U.S. with a fellowship from the State Department's (read: CIA's) "Support For Freedom Act". He was our man in Tbilisi. He undermined Shevardnaze, and once "Misha" became President there Georgia began an incredibly large military buildup at the U.S.'s expense. One estimate put Georgia's military budget as expanding by forty-four times the pre-Saakashvili level. U.S. and Israeli trainers were there, training.

What were they training for except to attack South Ossetia (with maybe Abkhazia thrown in later)? All of the initial reports put the Georgians going into South Ossetia and shelling civilian targets. The results were utterly predictable. The Russians counterattacked and pursued the Georgians across the border where they destroyed or dismantled and hauled off the billions of dollars' worth of American armaments.

So what was the point of the Bush Administration building up Georgia for an ass-whipping?

Putin has volunteered that it was to aid one of the Presidential candidates (that one being McCain). And it's true that when the sabers rattle people tend to vote Republican.

But there are two more reasons. The Cold War paid enormous benefits to the military-industrial complex. You could say that the Cold War was invented for the military-industrial complex. Or you could say that the military-industrial complex invented the Cold War. However you parse it, the war in Georgia gives an excuse to pour more billions down the Star Wars missile defense rat hole. (Check Chalmers Johnson and Tom Engelhardt; it's already begun.) It gives an excuse to not only rebuild and replace all the weapons that Georgia just lost, but also supply weapons to all those little republics from Estonia to Alaska. More aircraft carriers. More jet planes. More uniforms, more boots. Plus permanent war situations give excuses for more domestic surveillance and other repressive, anti-democratic laws and actions. Ratchet up the tension at home, the people are more ready for more war, more prepared to be herded this way or that.

The third reason for the Georgia war was referred to by McCain. He claimed that the oil pipeline running across Georgia was in jeopardy because of Russian aggression. The Russians could have easily blown up that pipeline. They scrupulously didn't. Still, as long as Americans perceive the Georgian pipeline from "the Stans" is in jeopardy then we are more easily convinced that maybe we should make another pipeline. Like, say, across Afghanistan.

There were other agreed upon lies. Every time a politician starts wringing his or her hands over the grave threat that Iran's halted nuclear program poses to Israel no one mentions the one hundred or three nuclear weapons that have been churned out of Dimora over the last several decades. Israel's nuclear arsenal is big enough to make every major city from Tangiers to Tashkent glow and bounce several times over. But you get the idea. That somewhat major fact is omitted from any discussion.

There are certainly enough legitimate differences between the two candidates and their parties that any clear-thinking person with the best interests of the vast majority of Americans would support Obama.

It's where the candidates agree to not challenge certain lies, though, that give you a real view to the lay of the land, and the identity of those who ultimately rule this country. Anyone out there think they see the outline of our real rulers?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Perhaps Brad DeLong is Mostly Wrong

Yesterday Salon offered this Brad De Long(also here) essay:

Our economic system is indeed on the verge of a serious meltdown, but lawmakers should not grant Bernanke and Paulson the far-reaching powers they call for in their plan.

I responded:

Perhaps Brad is wrong, mostly

I'm sorry, but Dr. DeLong's apologia for buccaneer capitalism is highly suspect.

Brad, if I may also be so forward, you write:

1."The high level of market risk and its rapid run-up from normal levels only a year ago last August means death to all banks, and near-banks, and shadow-banks, and banklike institutions -- unless the economic fever is broken and is broken soon."

All banks? Really? All banks? Come on. Several key, high profile firms, sure. Morgan Stanley, among the ones presently in trouble, survived the depression without this kind of intervention, as did others. Maybe Morgan Stanley won't make it this time, but others will. They are still needed, and some smaller, hitherto unheralded, more soundly capitalized banks will inevitably fill the void created by a few marquee names going bust.

Possibly this would occur more slowly than Bernanke and Paulson might care for, because of the understandable reluctance to be incautious that the survivor institutions would have. But that reluctance is good for the economy in the long term, and the recovery would happen, the market correcting the recklessness of corrupt lawmakers who helped create the conditions that allowed the present state of affairs to come to pass.

2."The game that Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson are playing right now is an extremely tricky one: try to keep the banking system from freezing up; try to restore risk perceptions to normal levels; try to keep finance flowing so that we have a peak level of only 8 million unemployed in America next year, rather than 15 million or more..."

If the goal is to prop up the economy and reduce the suffering and anxiety of ordinary people, aren't there numerous better ways to spend 700 billion dollars we don't actually have?

If you just gave 7 million people 700 billion dollars, say, over the course of three years, specifically targeting the populations most likely to lose their jobs using your math of going from an apparently acceptable(?!) 8 million to 15 million out of work, that could work out to paying 7 million people a stipend of about 33 thousand a year for three years.

Award this stipend only to people who've lost their jobs, or have averaged less than 18 thousand a year income for the past three years. I'll bet they'd spend it, helping out retailers, and some would even start catching up on their debts. And some would go to school and get educated, so they could help with the transition to a more modern workforce that you discuss. Wouldn't that help the economy a hell of a lot more?

Or how about tax credits for homebuilders who construct new homes with solar panels, especially in sunnier climes like the southwestern states. And maybe even an aggressive public works program, fixing bad roads, and unsafe bridges, and inadequate levees.

And yes, Brad, I know what you're thinking: how would we pay for such programs?

How indeed?

Why do you blithely assert that we can pay for the bank bailout by shouldering more debt, to fix an unsound situation created through excessively leveraged loans, without pausing to consider the danger of excessively leveraging the debt of the government and the taxpayers?

I'm not nearly so versed in the ways of markets as you are Brad, but I remember that Bill Clinton increased taxes on people who made over 200 grand in 1993, and the economy boomed for several years. Was that so long ago?

3.So I propose we pay for any economic stimulus or partial bailout by freezing the tax rates on lower and median incomes, making capital gains taxable as regular income, and increasing taxes on those earning over 500 grand.

What do you think, Brad?

My sense tells me that when all the smart people on the television on "both sides" of the spectrum, and the celebrity press, all get together to tell us this is an urgent problem that needs to be addressed now, now , NOW... that we are being sold something that's probably far more toxic than the thing it's ostensibly meant to cure. I also think that Paulson may have deliberately overplayed his initial gambit as part of a "good cop-bad cop" shtick that's designed to make a subsequent "compromise" appear reasonable. But maybe that's just me.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Nearly complete

Yesterday I came across this post over at Larissa Alexandrovna's blog: "Fascist coup nearly complete..."

I was struck by the title because most people in America don't really know the definition of fascism. I'm not familiar with Alexandrovna's specific family history, but I gather she's from Ukraine, and the Ukraine as part of the former USSR felt the full force of fascism during World War II. People who read bile like Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning" are going to be clueless about what fascism really is.

And that's probably fine, if you're a fascist.

One day around fifteen years ago I was sitting around my union office and noticed two American Heritage dictionaries, one published in 1975 and one published in 1993. Whatever was on my mind that day I don't remember, but I looked up the definition of fascism in both dictionaries. And guess what? It had changed.

From 1975: "A philosophy or system of government that advocates or exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with an ideology of belligerent nationalism."

From 1993: "A system of government marked by a totalitarian dictator, socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition, and usually a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism."

Notice what's missing in the 1993 definition? "[M]erging of state and business leadership..." And that fascism is an extreme right phenomenon. By removing "extreme right" from the definition clowns like Goldberg were free to write "Liberal Fascism", a most moronic combination of two antithetical terms.

An addition to the 1993 definition is "socioeconomic controls". What form of government doesn't have socioeconomic controls? Sweden has socioeconomic controls. Someone who didn't know anything about fascism could grab onto "socioeconomic controls" and presume that fascism was against free markets, you know, like liberals.

Of course, fascism is against free markets. But then most people who proclaim that they are for free markets are against free markets. The question is never about the existence of socioeconomic controls. It's about what kind of controls and who benefits. The same class of people who benefited from fascism in Germany and Italy are the same kind of people who benefit from the execution of Paulson's plea.

It's the merging of state and business leadership that is becoming official with this proposed bailout. Alexandrovna cites this from what's proposed:

Section 2:
(a) Authority to Purchase.--The Secretary is authorized to
purchase, and to make and fund commitments to purchase, on such terms and
conditions as determined by the Secretary, mortgage-related assets from any
financial institution having its headquarters in the United States.
Necessary Actions.--The Secretary is authorized to take such actions as the
Secretary deems necessary to carry out the authorities in this Act, including,
without limitation:
(1) appointing such employees as may be required to
carry out the authorities in this Act and defining their duties;
entering into contracts, including contracts for services authorized by section
3109 of title 5, United States Code, without regard to any other provision of
law regarding public contracts;
(3) designating financial institutions as
financial agents of the Government, and they shall perform all such reasonable
duties related to this Act as financial agents of the Government as may be
required of them;
(4) establishing vehicles that are authorized, subject to
supervision by the Secretary, to purchase mortgage-related assets and issue
obligations; and
(5) issuing such regulations and other guidance as may be
necessary or appropriate to define terms or carry out the authorities of this
And this:

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are
non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by
any court of law or any administrative agency.

Again, if you compare the two definitions of fascism, the latter guts out the most important part: its purpose. Sure, fascists tend to wage war and be racists and bigots, but the purpose of war has always been to seize someone else's wealth. And the fear and hatred of the "other" has always served as a distraction from real motives for war and has always helped to denigrate those people who are about to be robbed.

This bailout plan pretty much wipes out the boundaries between business and state. The state serves business. With our tax dollars.

I think this is what Alexandrovna left unstated. And it reminds me of the first wave of fascists.

What most people don't know is that German businessmen and bankers gathered together to plan the location of Auschwitz. The purpose of the location was to supply slave labor for the different German factories in the area. Lots of people were murdered outright and gold plucked from their mouths, but a lot of them were worked to death. You see, the government provided the businesses with cheap labor and supplied Germany's central bank with a steady supply of gold. Auschwitz was very good for business, not so good for the Jews and Gypsies.

One of men at the meeting where Auschwitz was planned was Herman Ab. Herr Ab was the head of Nazi Germany's state bank during the war. As German armies swept over Europe their bankers followed, seizing the assets of the conquered. Ab must have had friends in high places because he survived Germany's loss and went right on banking. When he passed away awhile back David Rockefeller was quoted in Ab's New York Times obituary as calling him "the greatest banker of our time". There was no mention in the obit of his work for Hitler or his part in the planning of Auschwitz.

Thus, as Larissa Alexandrovna says, this is nearly the completion of the fascist coup.

History repeating(itself)

Helena Cobban: "China and Japan's stakes in the US financial crisis"
as well as,

"China's condition to bail out the US: Taiwan?"

Andrew Leonard in Salon, "Not so fast, Secretary Paulson!"

look past the florid ridiculousness of Leonard's opening paragraph("this kind of profound remaking of capitalism..." ), as well as some(OK, many) of his assumptions, to this worthy passage:

You don't often find a Democratic senator and a University of Chicago free-market true-believer economist on the same side, but Luigi Zingales' widely circulated "Why Paulson Is Wrong" essay provides strong support for the idea that the government should get a piece of the action, framed in terms of debt forgiveness in exchange for equity.

Zingales argues that a reduction in debt can benefit both equity holders and debt holders because "there are real costs from having too much debt and too little equity in the capital structure." But debt holders tend to resist government-ordered debt forgiveness for the very simple reason that a government bailout is a preferable solution, for them.

Daniel Gross in Slate, "The Political Cowardice and (Hypocrisy)of the Wall Street Bailout"

Congress and the president favor a $700 billion Wall Street bailout, but they're afraid to say how they'll pay for it...

Xymphora: "Then they came for the Lehman Brothers, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Lehman Brother"

(not his best piece, but the title is irresistible.)

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to the UN: "American empire in the world is reaching the end of its road, and its next rulers must limit their interference to their own borders"

cross-posted at HZ

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Jonathan invited me to blog here at Dead Horse. He's commented a few times at my blog, South of Heaven (which doesn't have anything to do with the movie or the song; I stole it from the title of a Jim Thompson novel), so I guess he's found some of my observations interesting enough to post here.

Briefly, I'm in my late fifties, I live in a town along the coast of Northern California a couple of towns south of San Francisco. I've been in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1974, but I grew up on the Jersey Shore. I'm retired from a career at the Post Office now because of a number of circumstances (an on-the-job injury/condition, being covered under the old federal pension system which allows you to retire at 55...). I've been involved most of my postal career with my union either as a shop steward or a branch officer. I take the expression "Honor Labor" seriously. I was in the army way back during the Vietnam War because of circumstances (I was #1 in Nixon's draft lottery) where I eventually was an instructor in the military's race relations program (someone in command realized it wasn't good that soldiers were fighting with each other when they were supposed to fight the Vietcong).

I've always been pretty liberal, maybe really, really liberal, but not necessarily knee-jerk liberal. Every idea should be examined to see if it's any good. Still, my idea of justice falls along that border between an individual's rights and what's good for society as a whole. Profits don't enter into it.

I'm not sure how often I'm supposed to blog here. I've got a pretty steady output over at South of Heaven and may end up cross-posting or at least rewriting things from time to time. I spend chunks of my time hiking or trying to make music when I'm not on the internet. And I try to read books here and there, although my eyes get worse every year. We shall see.

So hello.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Yankee Donkey Dandy

I don’t support McCain nor do I care for Palin’s political views but the amount of pure hateful spiteful venom coming from the so-called progressives regarding Palin makes me ill. No doubt part of this reaction finds its origin in Obama’s choice of Biden, an unmitigated warmonger that the donkey faithful need to ignore and for the most part are ignoring even though Biden is a great big hairy wart on the end of Obama’s nose. A crown of thorns for Obama illustrating his capitulation to business as usual in Washington D.C. and the imperial meat grinder that Obama will be in charge of if he is able to win the election that is. I have no problems with criticizing Palin but her new role as VP hopeful seems to have brought out the misogynists from the woodwork. The first reactions seem to have been one of laughter at McCain’s “dumb” choice. However as Palin is now pulling in women voters by the truckload the laughter has subsided and is replaced with animal snarls of rage.

The Independent

Democrats may not want to believe it but there is fresh evidence that the addition of Sarah Palin, the "hockey mom" Governor of Alaska, to John McCain's ticket is winning him women voters in droves.

In a tidal shift that could prove decisive, enormous numbers of women who previously favoured Barack Obama have had their heads turned since the introduction of Mrs Palin, according to a new ABC/Washington Post poll.

The Palin phenomenon shows no signs of fading, in spite of a drip-drip of news revelations that hardly flatter her. Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that after becoming Governor in 2006, Mrs Palin started charging taxpayers a "per diem" allowance for days she spent in her private home in the town of Wasilla, where she was once mayor, instead of in the mansion in Juneau that she has never cared for.

Nor does there seem to be much room left for Mrs Palin to defend her claims repeated in Republican television advertisements that she opposed the now infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" project in Alaska, with clear evidence that, at first, she supported the wasteful scheme.

But for now, at least, women seem to be falling in love with Mrs Palin. They are not the only ones. A Gallup poll last night showed Mr McCain opening a 15-point lead over Mr Obama among independent voters who are not members of either of the main parties.

However, it is the hockey mom wars that will preoccupy the generals of both camps. While white women favoured Mr Obama over McCain before the conventions by 50-42 per cent, the picture today is dramatically reversed, according to the Washington Post/ABC survey. Now they back Mr McCain 53-41 per cent. That is a 20-point change.

McCain is portrayed by the donkeys as a doddering old man, senile, stupid, out of touch etc. but the old man seems to have put one over on Obama the Younger. And let’s not forget that the Democrats have a habit of losing elections that they were supposed to win as in the last two elections for example. Yeah, I know, Gore actually won the election but he never made it to the White House so he lost which is a rather inconvenient truth. And though progressives are supposed to be about women’s rights and all things good in the universe it doesn’t take much for the mask of civility to slip off revealing shall we say a lack of decorum when they end up with egg on their face.

Via Arthur Silber


I confess, it was pretty riveting when John McCain trotted out Sarah Palin for the first time. Like many people, I thought, "Damn, a hyperconservative, fuckable, Type A, antiabortion, Christian Stepford wife in a 'sexy librarian' costume -- as a vice president? That's a brilliant stroke of horrifyingly cynical pandering to the Christian right. Karl Rove must be behind it."

Palin may have been a boost of political Viagra for the limp, bloodless GOP (and according to an ABC/Washington Post poll she has created a boost in McCain's standing among white women to a 53 over Obama's 41). But ideologically, she is their hardcore pornographic centerfold spread, revealing the ugliest underside of Republican ambitions -- their insanely zealous and cynical drive to win power by any means necessary, even at the cost of actual leadership.

From Wilson’s reaction above it would seem that even women have become women haters. Wilson seems to have forgotten Hillary Clinton’s campaign against Obama where Hillary suggested that someone would shoot Obama because he is black no doubt planting the seed of violence in many a nut of which America has no shortage. But you see Hillary is a Democrat so that makes it different. But when McCain had the gall to select Palin, well…

In the end this is all just a lot wasted angst. While Obama may be better than McCain on some issues, though I cannot recall what those might be, Obama is offering nothing new just more Clintonian world views rehashed and reheated in the guise of change. And though Bill could turn on the charm beneath the Bill Clinton charisma there lurked something that wasn’t so charming.

From Dennis Perrin’s new book Savage Mules the following Bill Clinton quote…

“We’re not inflicting pain on these fuckers. When people kill us, they should be killed in greater numbers. I believe in killing people who try to hurt you. And I can’t believe we’re being pushed around by these two-bit pricks.”

Well so much for the Democrats being the Peace Party. And let’s not ever forget that it was the Democrats who entered the U.S. into the slaughter of WWI, WWII, the Vietnam War, the Korean War and many others. In fact when it comes to waging war the Democrats are supreme and the Republicans are amateurs in comparison so it is no surprise that Obama wants to show us how real men fight wars with his plans to shift the war on terror from Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Dead Horse pt 2: or, are you a domesticated goat?

From wikisource, "The Goatherd and the wild goats"

A Goatherd, driving his flock from their pasture at eventide, found some Wild Goats mingled among them, and shut them up together with his own for the night. The next day it snowed very hard, so that he could not take the herd to their usual feeding places, but was obliged to keep them in the fold. He gave his own goats just sufficient food to keep them alive, but fed the strangers more abundantly in the hope of enticing them to stay with him and of making them his own. When the thaw set in, he led them all out to feed, and the Wild Goats scampered away as fast as they could to the mountains. The Goatherd scolded them for their ingratitude in leaving him, when during the storm he had taken more care of them than of his own herd. One of them, turning about, said to him: "That is the very reason why we are so cautious; for if you yesterday treated us better than the Goats you have had so long, it is plain also that if others came after us, you would in the same manner prefer them to ourselves."

Given that I've decided to call this "Dead Horse", I probably should be careful about mixing my animal metaphors. Nevertheless I come back, time and again, to this story whenever I listen to practically anything that comes out of Obama's mouth, he of the silver tongue that makes lefty swooners swoon. I'm not so impressed with Obama myself, and I'm inclined to think his reluctance to define his politics will ultimately hurt him, even if he has more charisma than Kerry or Gore. (Of course most warm-blooded organisms have more charisma than Kerry or Gore, but that's another matter.)

All the same, even if Obama doesn't do anything for me, I recognize that millions of people do respond to him. And yet, he seems doggedly determined to squander his opportunity to help remake American politics at a time when we, the otherwise very conservative public, are more ready for meaningful liberalism and activist government, and yes, change, than we have been in a very long time. The economy appears to be teetering, government corruption and scandal, mostly republican, has soured people on incumbents and the "establishment" and we are mired in (at least one) costly and highly questionable war.

But we have Nancy Pelosi, the supposedly far left-wing democratic speaker of the house, loudly telling everybody who'll listen about her table, the one that will not allow impeachment of the most blatantly crooked president since Richard Nixon(who was pardoned 34 years ago tomorrow, on September 8th, 1974), and Obama and his running mate Joe Biden eagerly praising their opponents on Fox News and assuring anybody who'll still listen that they needn't be concerned about criminal charges being leveled against George Bush, jr.

What's wrong with this picture? Where do you even start?

This is why I'm starting "Dead Horse", which is meant to be a conversation about

1.the dysfunctional democratic party, and whether or not it can (or should) be saved.

2. our post 9-11, post-constitutional republic, a screwed up simulacrum where things are rarely as they seem, at least as far as I can see-- because

2b. It's not just the democrats "suddenly" having become dysfunctional, but a process of unraveling which seems to have been going on for a long time.

Or maybe I'm wrong(not 2b. Sorry, I can't resist...) That's why I want, from the get-go, for DH to be a group blog, for which I'm sending several invitations, both to bloggers who I feel are in approximately the same "camp" as I am, as well as a couple of others who might feel somewhat sunnier about the prospects for our future. I want to try to create the conditions and a venue for a useful conversation, not just an echo chamber. More soon, and hopefully not just from me.

cross-posted at "Hugo Zoom"

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Monday, September 01, 2008

Dead Horse: September 1st(Part 1 of 2)

Sometimes it's difficult for me to write according to the perceived dictates of blogging, by which each post is supposed to be about a discrete topic, ostensibly separate from the topics that precede and follow. For example, when I look at the miasma of events in recent weeks I try to give them a context, at least within my own noggin. South Ossetia, Joe Biden, Sarah Palin, the "pre-emptive" Minneapolis police raid(also here (via), hurricane Gustav, the forced resignation of Pakistan's corrupt strongman(and the continued non-resignation of our own president), they're all connected, at least in my mind.

Yesterday I called my father, whom I hadn't talked to in a couple of months, and I expressed my disappointment with Obama. My pop is intelligent enough not to fall for the "historical opportunity" song-and-dance, and he's not the sort to be reactively aghast at the thought that somebody might think that the meaningful differences between the two parties is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Nevertheless, he said that he felt the differences that do exist do matter, and that you don't have to be crazy about the nominee to vote for him, because at least he's not McCain, etc. You know, the lesser-of-two-evils argument.

The cartoonishly earnest change-fetish segment of Obama's supporters get a lot of media(and blogosphere) attention, but, win or lose, it's unlikely they make up that big a segment of the voting populace, or even of the people who will end up voting for him. I suspect that the number of voters who choose Obama in November who take a more sober approach like my father are far larger. In a recent comment thread at Jonathan Schwarz's ATR, Nell of A Lovely Promise argued that turning away from the Democratic ticket because you're hoping to hasten the decline of the US empire was a form of "armchair Leninism", and noted that it's pollyannish to expect that a more enlightened state would inevitably emerge from the rubble-- and I suspect she's right.

(cross-posted at Hugo Zoom.)

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