Sunday, December 14, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
What brings this to mind is Mona Charen’s December 9th blogpost, “Stampede Psychology,” in which she chides the nation as a whole for overreacting to the current economic crisis. Observes Mona:
Yes, there have been 1.9 million jobs lost since the start of the recession last year. And that's not good. But that still leaves 93.3 percent of us employed. Close to 10 percent of homeowners have either missed a house payment or are in foreclosure, according to the Los Angeles Times. That's bad obviously. But 90 percent of us are not in danger of losing our homes. . . .Or as one legionary said to another, “What are you crying about? They left 90 percent of us alive."
The economy is not as bad as our behavior indicates it should be.
Panic is never an appropriate response to a crisis. And of course losing a job or a house is not losing one's life (by the way an even smaller percentage of the usage panel accepts decimation for use when destruction other than killing is meant.)
But for Charen to minimize the effect on the whole of a nation of a near seven percent unemployment rate (that’s 10.3 million people in case you’re counting) and the fact that 2.25 million homeowners will face foreclosure this year alone, amounts to a moral deficiency. But such is the callousness of capitalism.
HT to silveradept.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald said in a statement that “the breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering.”And just like that Illinois goes from being in a state of pride to being in a state of embarrassment.
Ahhh...tainted politicians in the morning... smells like Chicago.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Friday, November 07, 2008
OK, I shamelessly stole this image from bartcop because it made me happy, and right now I find myself adding up the silver linings. Most of them, realistically, could do with a bit of buffing.
We here at Ms&Ms are working on a more cogent response that we can all get behind. So stay tuned...
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Where is the Democratic leadership on this offensive, divisive piece of execrable legislation?
Regardless of how you feel about the issue, we should not eliminate fundamental rights for ANY Californians. Please vote NO on Prop 8.ht to magyarok_saman for the link to the video
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Well, it appears that Palin and her family arrived for the convention with very little in the way of clothes and certainly not ready for the glare of the national stage. Bristol's boyfriend's hair, for example, was such a mess that he basically had dread locks. After a 10-minute, high-level discussion it was decided he must get a haircut (I believe the RNC picked up the tab for that too)...This was in reference to the big, big shopping spree ($150,000!!) Sarah Palin won as a bonus prize for appearing at the RNC and agreeing to be John McCain's
Well, anyway, it was decided to shop at Neiman because Neiman Marcus is a truly full service department store: the sales team brought the department store to the hotel, bringing racks of clothing for the Palins to try on. This was apparently easier and more practical than browsing the racks at TJ Maxx. More expensive, too.
Wow. $150,000 is more than most real Americans spend on hearth and home in a lifetime. Well, maybe half a lifetime. Do you think they'll let her keep the swag?
No word on whether Levi Johnston's dreadlocks signified spiritual intent, natural and supernatural powers, or were a statement of non-violent non-conformity, communalism and socialistic values, and solidarity with less fortunate or oppressed minorities.*
*from Knotty Boy's Dreadhistory
According to Forbes, Bill Clinton ranks first among the 10 postwar presidents overall, with LBJ and JFK in the top three, but Ronald Reagan is ranked above both Truman and Carter.
The US Misery Index says Eisenhower presided over a less miserable country than the other nine.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Think what our elections would be like if only our public education system worked.
1. The largest growth in domestic product – Truman
2. The highest growth in jobs – Clinton
3. The largest increase in personal disposable income after taxes – Lyndon Johnson
4. The highest growth in industrial production – John F. Kennedy
5. The highest growth in hourly wages – Lyndon Johnson
6. The lowest Misery Index (inflation plus unemployment) – Truman
7. The lowest inflation – Truman
8. The largest reduction in deficit – Clinton
Monday, October 20, 2008
For those of you trolling this site for dirt on Obama and Ayers, please look elsewhere. Red Rabbit and the rest of us have said our piece which doesn't amount to much beyond that yes there was an event which we attended and which has been part of public record for years. If you want to have a serious debate on how progressive Obama truly is then we can talk. But judging from the traffic stats and the comments I doubt that's what you're looking for.
This site has been pretty hard on Obama but has always criticized him from a progressive standpoint. Quite frankly the accusation that Obama would have a terrorist agenda is laughable considering what a cautious politician he is. Nor should Ayers be tried anew for his weather underground activities. His radical bonafides are so outdated, calling him a terrorist is giving him way too much credit.
So go to the Boston Globe, or Politico.com or wherever else we've been quoted. As for us, this blog is independently run, and reserves the right to pull material, specifically if that material hurts the blog at large. Moreover the post in question was up LONG before this election and in the last several months has been woefully distorted to slander a private citizen.
Meanwhile, shouldn't you look to your own candidate? He ain't doin' so well.
Friday, October 17, 2008
It looks like the Republicans will be out in the streets with their sheets and nooses before this election is over. The illustration above appeared in a GOP newsletter in San Bernadino, CA this month.
But what else did we expect from the party of Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond, William Rehnquist, and Ronald Reagan?
Diane Fedele, president of the group, said she had no racist intent.
"I never connected," she told the newspaper. "It was just food to me. It didn't mean anything else."
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
You know that e-mail everyone's been sending around, encouraging people to donate to Planned Parenthood in the name of Sarah Palin? So far, it has yielded $802,678 in donations from over 31,000 people, from all 50 states, two-thirds of whom are first-time donors. Thank-you notes to Palin, care of the McCain campaign headquarters, will begin going out next week.
Keep 'em coming.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Favorite films: Hombre, Hud, and Road to Perdition
Favorite quote: 'Necessity is the motherfucker of invention.'
Favorite little known characteristic that I shared with him: He was color-blind. (I still am)
Friday, September 26, 2008
Quite timely, given today's report in the Washington Post that Obama is siding with the banking industry in opposing "a proposal to give bankruptcy judges new power to modify mortgages for troubled homeowners, an idea that is widely viewed as a bargaining chip..." in the $700 billion bailout plan negotiations. Barney Frank described it as "the primary remaining point of contention between Democrats and Republicans..."
hat tip to John at Progressive Involvement on Obama's latest disappointing stance.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Instead of (in addition to?) us all sending around more emails about how horrible Palin is, let’s all make a donation to Planned Parenthood in Sarah Palin’s name.
And here’s the good part: when you make a donation to PP in her name, they’ll send her a card telling her that the donation has been made in her honor. Here’s the link to the Planned Parenthood website:
You’ll need to fill in the address to let PP know where to send the “in Sarah Palin’s honor” card. I suggest you use the address for the McCain campaign headquarters, which is:
McCain for President
1235 S. Clark Street
Arlington , VA 22202
PS make sure you use that link above or choose the pulldown of Donate–Honorary or Memorial Donations, not the regular “Donate Online”
Remember, it's the thought that counts.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
So far, despite the fact that 40% of the population on Galveston Island, and perhaps an equal percentage on Bolivar Peninsula, chose not to evacuate, even in the face of warnings that to stay meant “certain death,” we’ve not yet witnessed the level of vilification of those who remained in harm’s way. The New York Times, Newsweek, and NPR have retailed stories painting the Galevestonians who decided to ride out the storm in colors that contrast dramatically with those used to render the victims of Katrina. For example, when asked, “What kind of person stays?” Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, responded:
I heard an interview this morning on NPR with someone who was electing to stay in Galveston. This was a guy, his family and extended family, that were moving into a masonary building to ride it out. They are strong-willed, independent individuals who I think relish the idea of riding out something most of us would consider to be too dangerous to remain.And in a commentary on “All Things Considered,” the writer Bret Anthony Johnston, observed:
But you have to understand — it's not stupidity or insanity or even pride that keeps most people in their homes during a storm: It's hope.Again, a far cry from much of what we heard about those who stayed behind in New Orleans and were killed or trapped when the levees failed.
You hope the life you've built can sustain what's bearing down on it; hope that if a window cracks or a leak opens up, you'll be there in time to fix it; hope that if someone calls for help, you'll be close enough to offer what they need. Mostly, though, you hope you'll get lucky, hope that when those who fled ask about the storm, you can think about raising a cold one with your friends and dancing with your wife and watching your son play in the rain. You hope you can smile and say, "Oh it wasn't that bad. It wasn't that bad at all. Nothing more than a little wind."
Some may say that the difference in the responses is as plain as that between black and white. After all, the people in the Superdome, whose plight was broadcast graphically were, in overwhelming numbers, black, while most of those I saw or heard declaring their intent to stay on the Texas coast as Ike bore down were white. And yet as Adolph Reed has pointed out, focusing solely or primarily on race in explaining Katrina is to mistake symptoms and effects for causes:
What happened in New Orleans is the culmination of twenty-five years of disparagement of any idea of public responsibility; of a concerted effort--led by the right but as part of a bipartisan consensus--to reduce government's functions to enhancing plunder by corporations and the wealthy and punishing everyone else, undermining any notion of social solidarity.Although the demographics of those who chose to face Ike rather than evacuate may turn out to differ significantly from those who couldn’t or didn’t evacuate New Orleans before Katrina, there is at least one commonality in the responses to these disasters that shouldn’t go unnoticed, namely the almost automatic turn to cultural-psychological narratives as a way of processing the social world. We now routinely dissect the body politic into subgroups whose behavior is to be understood, treated, chastised or whatever, rather than operate from a presumption of common citizenship which holds that people are, to quote Reed again, “subjects of political action with their own voices and needs.”
The people who were swept aside or simply overlooked in this catastrophe were the same ones who were already swept aside in a model of urban revitalization that, in New Orleans as everywhere else, is predicated on their removal. Their presence is treated as an eyesore, a retardant of property values, proof by definition that the spaces they occupy are underutilized. And it's not simply because they're black. They embody another, more specific category, the equivalent of what used to be known, in the heyday of racial taxonomy, as a "sub-race." They are a population against which others--blacks as well as whites--measure their own civic worth.
For some time now the ruling class has pushed a vision of government as something that only comes into play when individuals or groups, for reason of their pathologies or idiosyncrasies, fail to do what they ought to do. From that standpoint any government effort to improve the general welfare of the nation only enables self-destructive behavior that would otherwise be checked by the discipline of the market. More importantly, in this vision there's no room for the idea of politics as the means through which we, as citizens, shape the kind of society we want to live in.
Of course, when it comes to government's bailing out major investment firms, only then does the word come down that we're all in this together.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
But I’ve always found McCain odious--an impression that’s only deepened with his selection of Palin as his running mate—and listening to Obama these days has been one cringe moment after the other. On Monday of this week he criticized McCain’s “Drill, drill, drill” mantra, by complaining, and I quote, “What kind of slogan is that?” Are you kidding me? Is that as deep as the criticism goes: “What kind of slogan is that?” Is the message here, “Vote Obama/Biden: We’ve got better slogans”?
Clearly his vaunted brain trust is fumbling badly (and remember this is a candidate who, when asked what qualifies him to be president, proclaims proudly that he’s run a national campaign), so I thought I’d help the brother out a bit with the following speech, just to show him it’s possible to utter progressive sentiments minus the mealy mouth pandering and gratuitous swipes against the poor, which have become his stock-in-trade. And he’s free to use any or all of the words below gratis and without attribution (which we know he knows how to do).
You’ll have to imagine it delivered in the uncertain accent and faux meaningful pauses that characterize his style on the stump these days:
Thank you for coming out today.from the professor
As most of you know, I didn’t get into politics the usual way. I started my political life as a community organizer. Now I know that some people don’t think much of being a community organizer (wait for knowing laughter). Some people think it’s trivial. A laughing matter. That’s their opinion. They’re entitled to it.
But there’s at least one thing you learn from being a community organizer. You learn that when the powerful people in the country--the president, the CEO, yes even the governor or the mayor--have made their big decisions, posed for their photo ops, and delivered their press releases, it’s the less powerful people who have to try to live with the consequences of those decisions. It’s the people without power who have to pay when factories close, when jobs are exported over seas, and when funds that should be going to schools, roads, and bridges go instead to stadiums and sport complexes.
Once you’ve seen up close how dearly real people have paid for the decisions made by those in power, it’s not something you forget easily. So I began this campaign with a simple idea: Wouldn’t it be better to govern from the standpoint of all those people who’ve had to pay dearly for the decisions made by those who’ve held power in this country for so long? Isn’t that what this country should be about? Isn’t that what democracy is about? (See, Barack, no need to bash the poor to make this point.)
Now there’s another party in this race. You may have heard of it. It’s the Republican Party. The leadership of that party has held power over the country for eight long years. And in holding power they’ve remained faithful to one idea, one guiding principle. This idea, this principle, has been that come what may—come war, come hurricane, come fiscal crisis, the party’s wealthy friends and supporters would never pay. And they’ve remained faithful to this promise. As US soldiers and the citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan have paid with their lives, the Republican leadership has softly reassured its well-heeled buddies, “Don’t worry, you won’t have to pay.” As levees have failed, bridges fallen, and pension funds foundered, the Republican leadership has continued to croon the same soothing lullaby to its wealthy friends, “Don’t worry, we’ll make someone else pay.” And, by God, have they ever.
And now after eight years of making the rest of America pay; after eight years of lying to the American people, soiling the nation’s reputation in the eyes of the world, bankrupting its finances, and neglecting the environment this same Republican Party leadership is standing before the nation, like an abusive spouse on the doorstep, saying “Baby, give me another chance. I can change. I have changed. I promise. Look, I’ve even nominated a maverick.”
But they can’t expect that line to get them over can they? John McCain? Change? For John McCain to represent change he’d . . . well, he’d have to be a Democrat because the bottom line is that if you want change this year, you have to put another party in power, and that party is the Democratic Party (See Barack, the post- or nonpartisan crap isn’t necessary)
As for John McCain, he once believed the Bush tax cuts were irresponsible, now he wants to make them permanent. He once believed that global climate change was an immediate threat, now he wants to drill for more oil. He once believed that the Religious Right as represented by Jerry Falwell was a force of intolerance, now he embraces these ministers to his bosom (and Barack, I know you’re kind of soft on the ministers as well, you upright Christian, you.)
I suppose you can call all of this change. But it seems to me that the Republican Party Leadership has changed John McCain. Not the other way round. Senator McCain couldn’t even get the party to accept his first choice for the vice presidency. Hell, if John McCain can’t change his own party leadership, how in the world is he going to change the country?
I stand before you representing a party committed to governing on behalf of those who’ve had to pay for the corruption, the greed and the criminal misuse of our armed forces. I stand before you representing a party committed to seeing that those who have abused their power, violated the laws of the land, and abused the public trust will be held accountable for their actions. You, the American people, are owed a full accounting of what has been done in your name for the past eight years. You need to know whose rights have been trampled to the dust in the name of national security. You need to know who has been tortured in backrooms with the approval of the men and women you trusted to uphold the law. You need to know all of this. Not for vindictiveness, but for justice—the justice necessary for healing. The nation must be healed, but for this healing to take place the poison of eight years of Republican leadership must first be drawn out of the body politic like poison is drawn from a wound (all props to Gandalf/Tolkien/Peter Jackson).
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Monday, September 08, 2008
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Of course, by now we all should have learned never to misunderestimate what can happen when Republican brazenness gets mixed with the collusive tendencies of the mainstream media. Hey, if weapons of mass destruction can seem to appear out of thin air and a decorated war hero be transformed overnight into a battlefield coward, it was clearly going to be no big deal to make a governor of modest accomplishments into the best thing to happen to US politics since the ratification of the 19th Amendment.
Of course, the Dems bear some of the blame (they always do). Their (should I say our?) standard bearer this year is also a man of slender accomplishments, and what the Republicans have “discovered” as evidenced by the catty (is that sexist?) zingers in Palin’s speech is that there’s mileage to be gotten from asking what’s Obama ever done that qualifies him for the presidency? If Palin and the Republicans also discover that the question has even more punch sans the cattiness, then watch out.
For me these days, the Obama candidacy brings to mind a simple-minded but strangely effective cartoon on the old “Animaniacs” show called “Chicken Boo” in which the running gag (a play on the Emperor’s New Clothes) featured a human-sized chicken in minimal disguise, say a hat and a mustache, masquerading as an heroic figure. Each episode would find Chicken Boo surrounded by fawning admirers who would respond with outrage whenever the lone critic shouted out, “He’s just a big chicken!” And each episode would end when Chicken Boo’s “disguise” would fail as his mustache fell off or he’d cluck, astonishing his admirers who would then join the critic in stating what had been obvious from the start.
Obama is just a junior US Senator who was only two years into his first term when he decided to run for President. This doesn’t mean that he can’t be President, but it’s hardly a case that he should be. Those enamored of him have persisted in mentioning him in the same breath as Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr., but he has never steered an organization, let alone a city or nation, through a major cataclysm, nor has he led a real social movement in achieving its objectives. His entire political career has traded on the margin of what he will accomplish when given the opportunity to do something, and up to now his biggest accomplishment has been getting people around him to believe he needs a bigger stage than the one on which he’s currently playing. This isn’t a criticism. It’s the truth. And if his campaign is going to be successful he’s going to have to deal with this.
To be sure, many of his supporters point to the electrifying effect his candidacy has had on both the electorate and the electoral process by bringing into politics legions of citizens who had previously tuned out. But given that Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech drew almost as many viewers as did Obama’s, and did so without the mobile phone gambit, and that the RNC outdrew the DNC in terms of viewership, it’s hard not to wonder if Obama is getting credit for a phenomenon that has little to do directly with him. The electorate may want change, but they’re going to get that whether McCain or Obama wins. Neither man is Bush despite the Dem’s mantra that McCain/Palin means “More of the same.” And Obama’s buttressing of this charge by pointing out that McCain has vowed to appoint Supreme Court justices in the mold of Scalia and Alito shows how ineffective it can be to be right on this point: The only people pissed off about this are the people who are going to vote democratic anyway.
So Obama can’t really run on his record or on the claim that his candidacy is the only one representing change. But the silver lining here, if he recognizes it, is that the only possible winning strategy is to run as a left of center Democrat, which is how he’s going to get painted anyway. He needs to continue to sound the theme that the Republicans have always governed on behalf of the top 5% and that its now time to have an administration that will govern on behalf of the rest of us. He needs to say that his goal is to make the hockey moms of Alaska see that they have more in common with the Mexican immigrant factory workers than with Oil Company CEOs. He needs to say that as a former community organizer who has seen what happens when people in power make decisions that affect the livelihood of thousands of people, he will govern with the knowledge that if you haven’t made the lives of these people better then you haven’t done your job.
Yes, BHO should be running scared. Let's hope this means he'll soon be running left.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
*...unless, of course, you’re poor . . . and black
The Obama campaign responded to the news that, Bristol, the 17-year-old daughter of Republican Vice Presidential nominee (and proud NRA member) Sarah’s Packin’, is five months pregnant by telling everyone to “back off.” As reported in the New York Times,
Mr. Obama said the pregnancy “has no relevance to Governor Palin’s performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president.” He added that, “my mother had me when she was 18. How a family deals with issues and teen-age children — that shouldn’t be the topic of our politics.”Noble words, but as a friend has pointed out, Obama’s “new politics” has included a healthy dose of these kinds of stories. In The Audacity of Hope Obama writes,
“So,” he added, “I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories.”
We know that many in the inner city are trapped by their own self-destructive behaviors . . .Shouldn’t Bristol and Baby Daddy Levi have received a stern lecture from Senator Obama? Nope. Fornicatin' and fertile young white people are private family matters, and Barack respects those families. And of course, if you’re not from the “inner city,” getting pregnant when you’re 17 and unwed says nothing about your culture, poor role models, and lack of proper parenting. But if you don't pass the brown bag test, Barack will be ALL up in your business.
. . . perhaps the single biggest thing we could do to reduce [inner-city] poverty is to encourage teenage girls to finish high school and avoid having children out of wedlock. (pp. 255-6)
...he told a mostly African-American crowd that parents need to shape up, turn off the TV, help their kids with their homework and stop letting them grow fat eating Popeyes chicken for breakfast.
"...Make them go to bed at a reasonable time. Keep them off the streets. Give ' em some breakfast. Come on. ... You know I am right..."
...**unless, of course, you're a Republican
We should probably thank Mother Nature for cutting the US Gulf Coast a little slack by diminishing the strength of Gustav before the storm made landfall earlier this week (‘wish she’d taken it a little easier on the various islands Gustav traversed along the way). Had Gustav hit shore as the slow-moving category 3 or 4 storm it might have been, the story we’re telling now would be much grimmer. Why is this? Well, for one, the US Army Corps of Engineers Hurricane Protection Project for that region “is designed to protect residents between Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River levee from surges in Lake Pontchartrain driven by storms up to the Standard Project Hurricane. The SPH is equivalent to a fast-moving Category 3 hurricane.”
This accounts for the double-speak I thought I heard from a Corps of Engineers spokesman during the storm as he tried to explain why if the storm surge had overtopped, without breaching, the Industrial Canal levees, allowing significant flooding of the 9th Ward, the levees could not be said to have failed. Sounds a little bit like building a too-short fence to keep your livestock in and arguing that if the cows jump over rather than bust through it, the fence will, nonetheless, have done its job.
Why are the specs for the job so low? Money, money, money. Here’s the story from the Corps of Engineers:
FY 2005 BUDGET/EFFORT. The President’s budget for fiscal year 2005 was $3.9 million. Congress increased it to $5.5 million. This was insufficient to fund new construction contracts. Engineering design, and construction supervision and inspection efforts are also included. Seven contracts are being delayed due to lack funds. They include the floodgate at the Canadian National Railroad and the Gulf South Floodwall and Reach 2A and 2B levee enlargement, all in St. Charles Parish; Reach 1 and Reach 4 Levee Enlargements in Jefferson Parish; Pump Station No. 3 Fronting Protection, Robert E. Lee Bridge replacement and the New Orleans East Back Levee enlargement, all in Orleans Parish; and the Bienvenu to Dupre Levee Enlargement in St. Bernard Parish. The Pontchartrain Levee District is providing funds to construct the Gulf South Pipeline floodwall in St. Charles Parish. The East Jefferson Levee District is providing funds to construct the Reach 1 and Reach 4 levee enlargements in Jefferson Parish. Louis Armstrong International Airport is funding the Canadian National Railroad floodgate as part of the rehabilitation of the east-west runway.In 2006 they needed $20 million dollars and the President’s Budget allocated only $3 million!!!
FY 2006 BUDGET/EFFORT. The President’s budget for fiscal year 2006 is $3.0 million. This will be insufficient to fund new construction contracts. We could spend $20 million if the funds were provided. These funds are necessary to maintain the project schedule and to meet our contractual and local sponsor commitments.
IMPACTS OF BUDGET SHORTFALL. In Orleans Parish, two major pump stations are threatened by hurricane storm surges. Major contracts need to be awarded to provide fronting protection for them. Also, several levees have settled and need to be raised to provide the design protection. The current funding shortfalls in fiscal year 2005 and fiscal year 2006 will prevent the Corps from addressing these pressing needs.
If only our audacious nominee had had the cojones to use Gustav as an opportunity to raise some hard questions about this criminal lack of support to rebuild and protect the Gulf Coast instead of just joining in the cheerleading effort to send aid to evacuees and to coordinate volunteers. Sure, such criticism would have opened him up to charges from Republicans that he was using a potential human disaster to score political points, but the truth about Katrina is that it was a political failing of the first order that goes to the heart of what the Republican party is.
So for those of you who are wondering why we’re so hard on the big O when the real villains on the political scene have red Rs on their chests, let me put it this way: if John McCain can pander to his Republican base by picking Sarah Pray-For-Us as his VP nominee, can’t our guy at least throw us a bone by standing up for something that matters to us?
Monday, September 01, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Still, lusty John did demonstrate something we’ve been saying all along: the point of a progressive politics is not to get a particular candidate elected but to create a movement strong enough to force whoever happens to be running for office or holding office to do the right thing. And alas we are a long ways from there.
Of course, the biggest event of late was the
If progressives were supporting Obama in the same way that Frederick Douglass supported the backsliding Republican party after Reconstruction—that is, as the only ship afloat in a wide empty ocean--then I might not be as distressed as I am. But the ecstatic squeals at being relegated to steerage, or let's say, towed in a leaky dinghy in the wake of the good ship Obama are truly disconcerting.
BHO’s tapping of Biden as his VP makes the point better than I can. This was a pragmatic choice designed to appeal to folks like David Brooks, who on August 22 insisted that Biden was the best choice for the country but wondered “whether Obama was wise and self-aware enough to know that.” So how did Brooks reward Obama for having made the “wise” choice? Well, by writing a snarky article about Obama’s acceptance speech. Increasingly Obama appears to be a candidate prepared to make all sorts of concessions to woo a portion of the electorate that’s never going to vote for him anyway. The rest of us will just have to hope he'll get back to our concerns once he's done what he thinks he needs to do to win the election.
Which is not to say he will or won’t beat McCain, whose choice of
Friday, August 22, 2008
Monday, August 04, 2008
Dear friends on the left,*John Halle, who teaches Music Theory at the Bard College Conservatory of Music, channels an honest response from Barack Obama to Change We Can Believe In: An Open Letter to Barack Obama published in the latest issue of The Nation.
Hobgoblins, small minds and stupid consistency go together, as Emerson reminded us, so I suppose it shouldn't have come as a surprise that a cast of "progressive leaders" has again assembled locust-like at the waning stages of the electoral cycle to "urge me to listen to the voice of the people" and not "to retreat from the stands that have been the signature of (my) campaign."
You then proceed to itemize some of "the core commitments shared by many who have supported your campaign" and which you seem to believe -- despite virtually all evidence to the contrary -- are shared by me.
The left has never been much for realism -- though here the rose colored perceptions have a strikingly hallucinogenic character.
For example, I am claimed to have professed a commitment to "universal health care." May I remind you that even in the primary debates, where one might have expected some attention to the grassroots base of the party, I explicitly and boldly rejected universal health care. The latter was associated with my opponent Mrs. Clinton and while neither of us has any intention of addressing the root of the health care crisis, namely the for-profit health care insurance industry which has funded both of our campaigns lavishly, my "solution" as Paul Krugman noted at the time was well to the right of that of the DLC's initial choice of candidate.
It does not escape my notice, incidentally, that your communiqué fails to even mention the health care delivery system which you, and most Americans for that matter, support, namely single payer. I take this as a validation of what is perhaps the primary function of my campaign: to extract from the realm of the possible and consign to the realm of the unthinkable and the unutterable what is for most of the civilized world economic common sense and common moral decency. I am happy to report that your letter is a strong indication of my success in having achieved this transformation, one which, as Adolph Reed has written, amounts to nothing less than the functional eradication of the left.
Thus, to take another indication, while you have yet to notice it, so too into the Orwellian memory hole has gone the hope that our nation will "shed its warlike stance around the globe and focus on diplomacy" as a means of resolving conflicts. Allow me to direct you to my website where I call for 92,000 new troops, the redeployment of those soldiers removed from Iraq to an intensified conflict in Afghanistan-and possibly Pakistan. Also included in most of my recent foreign policy addresses are calls for unilateral action against governments suspected of support for terrorism not to mention my repeated threats against Iran and Venezuela.
Also consigned to the realm of far-left fantasy is "an environmental policy that transforms the economy by shifting billions of dollars from the consumption of fossil fuels to alternative energy sources". In his previous capacity as chief lobbyist for energy giant Exelon, my campaign manager David Axelrod has spoken eloquently of the need to ramp up the construction of nuclear power plants. That's what I mean by "alternative" and please rest assured that Mr. Axelrod will serve as a strong voice for this "alternative" in my administration. I will also invest in "alternative energy" through continuing subsidies to corn based ethanol insodoing securing payback to the farm behemoth Archer Daniels Midland for having bankrolled my campaign at the crucial initial stages. Another "alternative energy source" embraced by me is "clean coal" and the industry which helped me ascend to the first rungs of the political ladder in Illinois.
I suggest that you keep the just mentioned facts in mind in considering the likelihood of my "reform(ing) of the political process that reduces the influence of money and corporate lobbyists and amplifies the voices of ordinary people" as well as the likelihood of "an ongoing and constructive dialogue with (me) when (I am) elected President."
And then you wake up, as my wife likes to say.
And when you do wake up, you will realize that you are left with one option: "challenging" me. But please bear in mind that with the new surveillance capacities which I authorized as Senator and which will be available to me as President, challenging the executive branch is no longer the fun and games it was in the past. I have, of course, no intention of revealing sources and methods, but for the moment let's just say that I know what you had for breakfast this morning.
That said, you may rest assured it is quite unlikely that I will need to exercise these powers for any purposes beyond my own personal amusement.
For indeed I, and the corporate executives, white shoe law firms, big money lobbyists and their numerous apologists are in your debt for having led so many leftists into the abattoir which is my campaign. The movement which only a few years ago assembled millions in the streets of Manhattan, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and other cities is in shambles-unable to organize a gathering beyond a few old timers at a street corner, let alone the kind of action which might actually cause me and my base to take notice.
There is no need for a howitzer when the tiniest fly swatter will do quite nicely against the political force which you now represent.
And so in conclusion allow me to cite the deathless interrogatory of Clint Eastwood which applies not just to my campaign but which is routinely appealed to, consciously or not, by all politicians of any stripe:
"What are you going to do about it, Punk?"
Given that, for the past generation, you have repeatedly hoisted the white flag before the battle even began, the smart money is on your doing absolutely nothing.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
I’ll illustrate with one of the series’ less egregious examples. At one point the show teased a segment on HIV/AIDS with an image of a classroom of empty desks, which, I assumed, was going to be a metaphor for all of the deaths of young people caused by the disease. Boy, was I ever naïve. The empty classroom, it turned out was an AIDS awareness program that had no clients. One might have assumed the absence of any clients indicated a poorly designed program, but no—Sistah Soledad and the program administrator shook their heads and clicked their tongues at what seemed obvious to them: these poor, benighted people just don’t know what’s good for them.
And, as I said, this is one of the least blatant examples of the program’s victim blaming.
Watching the puerile commentary from the so-called experts trotted out by O’Brien I found myself repeating a question asked by Ralph Ellison 45 years ago, “Why is it so often that when critics confront the American as Negro they suddenly drop their advanced critical armament and revert with an air of confident superiority to quite primitive modes of analysis?”
Part of the answer, I believe, is that despite our alleged sophistication about “race,” so many people, black and white alike, persist in believing that black people are fundamentally different from white people. Soledad’s special produced in abundance public opinion poll after public opinion poll, and study after study displaying some version of the formulation that while, say, 65% of black people believed or did x, only 40% white people believed or did the same, every disparity providing an opening for some expert to come in to explain it all. The conclusion, time after time, was that something called “race” accounted for the disparity. No matter that every issue the program addressed and every study or poll it produced showed that large portions of both black and white Americans acted the same way or thought the same way. “Being black” made even the same things different.
So I suppose, in Sistah Soledad’s mind, it made all the difference in the world that the majority of the faces spewing the scurrilous crap against poor people were black and brown. After all, being black makes you an expert on being black—except of course if you’re black, poor, have a child, and are unmarried. In that case, since you don’t know shit, you’ll just have to take it from those who believe they do.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Although as a self-deluded Republican Party hack, David Brooks would never actually vote for Obama (Brooks’ long-standing delusion is to think of himself as a disinterested social analyst rather than an inveterate apologist for the ruling class), his Tuesday Times column on the mortgage crisis exemplifies the Obamista social vision to which I refer in the previous post, a vision in which moralist and market-driven accounts of social justice meet seamlessly to cloak the rapacity of those who have seized power. According to Brooks the current crisis is the result of a combination of deteriorating norms:
America once had a culture of thrift. But over the past decades, that unspoken code has been silently eroded.But more to the point, individuals share much of the blame for helping “degrade” these norms, because each decision by an individual to take on a high-risk loan, “reinforced a new definition of acceptable behavior for neighbors, family and friends. In a community, behavior sets off ripples. Every decision is a public contribution or a destructive act.” [Which, presumably, is also why, in a different context, one should treat an unwed mother like a social pariah—think of the damage to the social fabric if one doesn’t do so.]
Some of the toxins were economic. Rising house prices gave people the impression that they could take on more risk. Some were cultural. We entered a period of mass luxury, in which people down the income scale expect to own designer goods. Some were moral. Schools and other institutions used to talk the language of sin and temptation to alert people to the seductions that could ruin their lives.
In other words the real culprits in this meltdown are all the individual borrowers. And in Brooks’ view, the economic sector has already done what it can to fix the problem, which means that in rescuing the economy, the “important shifts will be private, as people and communities learn and adopt different social standards.”
This is the same ‘self-help” claptrap that Larry Bobo celebrates as the “next level of social justice” that will be inaugurated with Obama’s ascendancy to the Oval Office.
Debtors’ prisons and scarlet letters have never looked so good.
The next stages of this struggle will call for new strategies, new ideas and almost certainly a larger dose of self-help and self-assertion from within black America itself. Obama's Father's Day remarks on absentee fathers and taking responsibility for children hit just the right note in this regard. I have rock-solid faith that having Barack Obama in the White House will take matters toward full realization of that next level of inclusion and social justice.And the little bit of the “Reclaiming the Dream” panel discussion on CNN “moderated” by Soledad O’Brien that I could bring myself to watch became a virtual free-for-all when it came to taking swipes at black men and women for having children without benefit of clergy. It seems all would be well if only Baby Daddy would take Baby Mama in hand and, whether she wants to or not, walk her down the aisle before she drops another illegitimate child from her fertile loins.
Yes folk's it’s likely that next “level of inclusion and social justice” will be one in which those deemed worthy of support by the state (on a recent trip through the Mississippi Delta I saw a sign for an FHA Housing Project declaring it a community for “deserving families) will be those who best conform to statutes of moral behavior dictated by the faith-based organizations recently blessed by St. Obama, working in concert with the University of Chicago economists on his team, to figure out the appropriate moral and economic incentives to create the desired behaviors among “irresponsible” poor black people: let’s say, a poor single girl who gets pregnant at 16 will get less support than one who gets pregnant at 18, and both will get less than a poor young, but married, woman, who gets pregnant at 21, and so on.
The nation’s already atrophied capacity to recognize the structural causes of inequality will diminish to the point that our only explanation of persistent poverty will be either a new version of racialization in which it turns out that people are poor because their culture or their genes lead them to engage in behaviors that prevent them from taking advantage of the opportunities that have been made available for them, or that their poverty is the result of inappropriate government interference with market forces that would otherwise work like magic in creating general prosperity. Lord have mercy.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
You there, on the left...
You look like you could use a stiff shot of reality. Adolph Reed serves it up over at Black Agenda Report. And it isn't pretty.
The point is that we need to approach this presidential election stuff, and not just this time around, with no illusions about the trade-offs involved and recognize that it's not even as simple a matter as Obama being better than McCain in the here-and-now on a select menu of issues. I could understand the impulse to rally the troops to produce the outcome that's better on immediate tactical grounds, if we had some troops to rally. If we had such a base, it might even make sense to consider an organized boycott of the election, which may be the only way to keep from being treated like a 2 am booty-call for triangulating Dems.Professor Reed's unvarnished examination of Obamaism and the state of party politics in the US should be mandatory reading for anyone "left." As usual, his analysis is relentless and dead on.
Excellent points made by mozella in comments to this piece at Black Agenda Report:
Correct me if I'm wrong
written by mozella , July 16, 2008
It seems to me that the biggest problem we face today is the myth of the two-party system.
As long as we all pretend that there is any difference whatsoever between the major political parties in this country, we will continue to be vulnerable to manipulation by those global corporate entities who are really in charge.
A wet-behind-the-ears, newly elected junior senator does not have the wherewithall to mount a successful, dragon-slaying campaign without some powerful mojo from outside interests.
Nearly one hundred million dollars on hand before he was barely introduced to the millions of small donors who supposedly funded his campaign?
A manipulative, Rovian primary strategy that gamed the process in a style mastered in a ridiculously short political career, one spent almost entirely running for office and winning not on merit, but on technicality?
This is not the campaign of a committed politician, this is a carefully orchestrated puppet show.
The man behind the podium is a self-admitted blank screen, a chameleon, a shape-shifter.
To black Americans, he is redemption, validation, the culmination of the struggle, fulfillment of the dream.
For white Americans he is vindication, exoneration, absolution.
To young America he is hope, the promise of the future, the sign of the times, the prospect of things to come.
He's a liberal, he's a conservative, he's a hawk, he's anti-war, he's progressive, he's right-wing, he's black, he's white.
You name it, he is it.
What could be better?
Yet that is who he is only because that is who he is scripted to be.
In reality he is none of those things.
He's a two-bit political hack who can't seem to form a coherent sentence without a TelePrompter, let alone formulate or even explain a comprehensive, complex position on any government policy.
He simply looks the part for which he was cast.
In the minds of the string pullers he's the preferred winner, his opponent an equally scripted and cast, acceptable alternative.
What's so sad for black people is that to be so emotionally invested in what amounts to little more than an elaborately produced made-for-tv-movie is a sure-fire prescription for heartbreak.
The tragedy of buying the hype is there is no return policy, no money back guarantee, no recourse whatsoever.
What happens after the heartbreak is what worries many of us older folks, can our people endure such large-scale disillusionment?
Because the bottom line is whether he succeeds or fails those who look to him to be the reality of a common destiny realized are bound to be devastated when they realize it ain't about you.
And it never was.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
Saturday, June 28, 2008
He needs a good brushing.
The Professor was cleaning up the backyard when he found Kodi’s stick collection (stashed behind the raised flower bed). Kodi barked indignantly from the dining room window while the prof. put the sticks in a trash bag.
The following is a blog post I was working up in May in response to a column Ehrenreich posted at Huffington Post. Well, lo and behold, the same column just arrived in this month's Progressive. Recycling is a good thing, right?
Barbara Ehrenreich says:It's important -- even kind of exhilarating -- for women to embrace their inner bitch...So Barbara does just that in a post over at HuffPo, entitled Hillary's Gift to Women.
She even makes a PMS reference in this hit piece. I guess we should be thankful Medusa and menopause didn't rear their ugly heads....But by running a racially-tinged campaign, lying about her foreign policy experience, and repeatedly seeming to favor McCain over her Democratic opponent, Clinton didn't just break through the "glass floor," she set a new low for floors in general, and would, if she could have got within arm's reach, have rubbed the broken glass into Obama's face.That Hillary Clinton set a new low in campaigning will come as a surprise to the Karl Roves and the Lee Atwaters, and pretty much any Republican working on any presidential campaign. C'mon, Barb, did Hillary really sink lower than the robo calls suggesting John McCain's adopted Bangladeshi daughter was his black love child?
Some understandable names come up like Margaret Thatcher and the warrior queen Boadicea, and even Condoleezza Rice, but then she throws in Lynndie England.Whatever violent and evil things men can do, women can do too, and if the capacity for cruelty is a criterion for leadership, as Fukuyama suggested, then Lynndie England should consider following up her stint in the brig with a run for the Senate.Lynndie England? Really? The first woman to get close to being POTUS brings to mind Abu Ghraib?
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Four Western oil companies are in the final stages of negotiations this month on contracts that will return them to Iraq, 36 years after losing their oil concession to nationalization as Saddam Hussein rose to power.And our lapdog journalists report it with little, if any, criticism. It's both old news and new news. Which has been pretty much how all the news about our corrupt government gets reported in the MSM. Forget about impeaching the bastards. It's off the table. Probably knocked to the floor by our "we might nuke Iran" policy.
Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP — the original partners in the Iraq Petroleum Company — along with Chevron and a number of smaller oil companies, are in talks with Iraq’s Oil Ministry for no-bid contracts to service Iraq’s largest fields, according to ministry officials, oil company officials and an American diplomat.
The deals, expected to be announced on June 30, will lay the foundation for the first commercial work for the major companies in Iraq since the American invasion, and open a new and potentially lucrative country for their operations.
There was suspicion among many in the Arab world and among parts of the American public that the United States had gone to war in Iraq precisely to secure the oil wealth these contracts seek to extract. The Bush administration has said that the war was necessary to combat terrorism. It is not clear what role the United States played in awarding the contracts; there are still American advisers to Iraq’s Oil Ministry.
Sensitive to the appearance that they were profiting from the war and already under pressure because of record high oil prices, senior officials of two of the companies, speaking only on the condition that they not be identified, said they were helping Iraq rebuild its decrepit oil industry.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Hell, I'm not the NBC News' Washington Bureau Chief, but I knew the build-up to the invasion of Iraq was one lie after another. Maybe I should apply for the job now that it's vacant since it appears you don't have to be a professional journalist to get paid to be a professional journalist. You don't even need a working bullshit detector, but I do have one of those.
Monday, June 16, 2008
'It was, like, you meet a guy and you fall in love with him, and he’s funny and he’s clever and he’s witty, and he’s all these great things,' Griffin said of the relationship between Olbermann and the Clinton supporters among his viewers. 'And then you commit yourself to him, and he turns out to be a jerk and difficult and brutal. And that is how the Hillary viewers see him. It’s true. But I do think they’re going to come back. There’s nowhere else to go.'"I'm speechless.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Friday, June 06, 2008
...If the general election were held today, Mr. Obama would win 252 electoral votes as the Democratic nominee, while Mrs. Clinton would win 295. In other words, Barack Obama is losing to John McCain, and Hillary Clinton is beating him.Is it stilly fuzzy math when "the recipient of nine honorary doctorates and the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal" uses it?
Two questions arise in the face of this result. Whom should the Republican candidate prefer to run against to maximize his party’s chances of retaining the White House? And what does it say of the Democratic delegate selection system when its winner would lose the presidency if an election were held today, yet its loser would win it?
Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Michael Savage decided that the news about Ted was the perfect moment to crawl out his hole and spew.
Following the announcement that Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, nationally syndicated radio host Michael Savage opened his May 20 show by interspersing audio of Kennedy singing "Ay Jalisco No Te Rajes" with clips of news reporters discussing Kennedy's diagnosis and audio from the 1990 film Kindergarten Cop in which Arnold Schwarzenegger's character says, "It's not a tumor." Later, Savage played the Dead Kennedys song "California Über Alles" after stating: "The poor guy's been suffering for years, you know? Unfairly he's been accused of alcoholism, but we see now that it was something much more deep-seated. And so, to cut this out in some respect for Ted Kennedy, here's a tune coming at you from the Dead Kennedys. Go ahead and play it, please."Michael Savage is probably going to live a long life and die quietly on the toilet at an unjustifiably old age.
After reading from the lyrics of "California Über Alles," Savage said, "No gloating today, no laughter, all serious. You don't joke about a man's cancer. I do it, but I won't do it today; it's something I will not do." At one point in the program, he told a caller, "You know I'm playing the Dead Kennedys not to mock Ted Kennedy. It's just appropriate, that's all."
Later in the program, Savage aired a clip of Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) offering a tribute to Kennedy on the Senate floor before describing Byrd as "a senile senator" and "a walking psycho." Savage went on to assert, "For years now, Byrd has been blubbering on the floor of the Senate. For years, I mean, to be honest, Kennedy didn't seem sane to me." He continued, "Forget about the drunk stories and all that -- anybody can drink. The guy sounded like he was off for years, I'm sorry."
Wow! I think the only thing that would make me feel better after writing that sentence is finding Ann Coulter and punching her in the neck before she can add her shrill two cents.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Obama’s style of being all things to all people threatens to melt under the inescapable spotlight of a national campaign against a Republican. It’s like what brings on the downfall of really successful con artists: They get themselves onto a stage that’s so big that they can’t hide their contradictions anymore, and everyone finds out about the different stories they’ve told different people. And Obama’s belonging to Wright’s church in the first place was quite likely part of establishing a South Side bourgeois nationalist street cred because his political base was with Hyde Park/University of Chicago liberals and the foundation world.Once again, Professor Reed doesn't let us down. Not only does he speak truth to power, he's speaking truth to the bamboozled Left, lost in the afterglow of its collective Obasm.
Because he’s tried carefully to say enough of whatever the audiences he’s been speaking to at the time want to hear while leaving himself enough space later on to deny his intentions to leave that impression, his record represents precisely the “character” weakness the Republicans have exploited in every Democratic candidate since Dukakis: Another Dem trying to put things over on the American people.
Obama’s campaign has been very clever in carving out a strategy to amass Democratic delegate votes, but its momentum is in some ways a Potemkin construction—built largely on victories in states that no Democrat will win in November—that will fall apart under Republican pressure.
I think its too late to prevent them from embarrassing themselves (I'm looking at you, editorial board of The Nation, Katha Pollitt, and for God's sake, Barbara Ehrenriech, who wrote, on Valentine's Day, no less, about being swayed by her "grown feminist daughter" weeping inconsolably when Obama lost NH. Sheesh!). We can only hope that, if Obama does win the nomination, the Democrats can pull themselves together and figure out how to build this deeply flawed candidate into someone who can win in November without compromising away all of the things that would make a victory matter in the first place.
And then, maybe, we can all march out of the high school gym to the strains of 76 Trombones.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Mike Huckabee has just moved to the top of the shit list. I'm not shy about making Obama the butt of a good joke, but this isn't funny:
“That was Barack Obama, he just tripped off a chair, he's getting ready to speak,” said the former Arkansas governor, to audience laughter. “Somebody aimed a gun at him and he dove for the floor.”And the audience laughed. Of course, he was giving a speech to the NRA in Kentucky. Check out the youtube video