Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Another Dangerous Socialist Strikes A Blow For Evidentiary Standards

Stodgy old James Fallows writes a column, and depending on your addiction to ideology, either proves he is Not A Very Serious Person after all, or applies the Charles P. Pierce argument that:
"If I see a guy walking down the street with a duck on his head, I can write that I saw a guy walking down the street with a duck on his head. I don't have to find someone to say they saw a guy walking down the street with a duck on his head, and I particularly don't need to find someone on the other side who will say, no, what you saw was a duck walking down the street with a guy on his ass."

Update: As if to confirm the very point James Fallows was making, Scott Simon held an approving interview this morning with Ross Douthat, whose original NY Times column prompted Fallows to write the response referenced above. Simon verbally nodded and "yepped" right along with Douthat as Douthat made his lame comparisons again. Not once did Simon challenge him about it, or even play the devil's advocate; it was as though Douthat's flimsy thesis was so self-evident as to render journalistic curiosity moot. This is your NPR "Nazi propaganda". Roger Ailes must be so pleased.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pointing The Way With An Empty Sleeve

From our Department of Beaux Gestes:
"President Obama announced a two-year pay freeze for civilian federal workers on Monday as he sought to address concerns over sky-high deficit spending and appeal to Republican leaders to find a common approach to restoring the nation’s economic and fiscal health."
Seems he's hoping that throwing a bunch of working people to the wolves will head off a Republican slashfest and...wait for it...:
"Mr. Obama expressed optimism that the meeting with legislators would be a productive and fresh beginning. “My hope is starting today, we can begin a bipartisan conversation about our future,” he said. “Everybody’s going to have to cooperate. We can’t afford to fall back on the old ideologies or the old sound bites.” "
That old chestnut, buy-partisanship, bought with the paychecks of the working class, because for Obama it seems that nothing succeeds like failure. And fail this will, as the impact of the further loss of wages and the domino-effect on the local economies where these people live and work settles over the country. This, even before the next wave of further municipal and statewide layoffs of public workers, when the new fiscal year will require state and local governments to try to close new budget gaps. After all, what's better for an economy sunk in joblessness and plummeting living standards than a good old-fashioned putsch?

In exchange for this hollow and cowardly gesture, he may be able to carve out an estimated $60 million from a deficit of 1.3 trillion over the next 10 years---a move that will impress no one and which will impact neither the deficit, nor the Republican death squads, nor the public at large. Hell, you could get 60 million in one fell swoop by confiscating the 2009 salaries and bonuses of Bank of America's Thomas Montag, Morgan Stanley's Walid Chammah, and Wells Fargo's John Stumpf on some tax dodge charge. They wouldn't miss it, they're eminently guilty of that and more, and it would certainly carry more symbolism than this empty charade, thrown out in a stench of desperation by a man whose head seems to have been, of late, stuffed with straw.

Monday, November 22, 2010

These men are nihilists, there's nothing to be afraid of

Once Upon A Time, in America:

Walter--Alan Grayson
Donny--The Democratic Party
The Nihilists--Louie Gohmert, Spencer Bachus, & Steve King
The Money--The Federal Reserve
Lebowski's Car--The Government
The Girl--The Unemployed of the American electorate
The Dude--Obama
The Big Lebowski--George W. Bush

Walter/Alan Grayson:
Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos.

[the Dude, Walter, and Donny walk out of the bowling alley, to find the three Nihilists waiting in front of the Dude's car, which has been torched]

The Dude/Obama: Well, they finally did it. They killed my fucking car.

Nihilist/Louie Gohmert: Ve vant ze money, Lebowski.

Nihilist #2/Spencer Bachus: Ja, uzzervize ve kill ze girl.

Nihilist #3/Steve King: Ja, it seems you have forgotten our little deal, Lebowski.

The Dude/Obama: You don't HAVE the fucking girl, dipshits! We know you never did!
[the Nihilists, stunned, confer amongst themselves in German]

Donny/The Democrats: Are these the Nazis, Walter?

No, Donny, these men are nihilists, there's nothing to be afraid of.

Nihilist/Louie Gohmert: Ve don't care. Ve still vant ze money, Lebowski, or ve fuck you up.

Walter/Grayson: Fuck you. Fuck the three of you.

The Dude/Obama: Hey, cool it Walter.

Walter/Grayson: No, without a hostage, there is no ransom. That's what ransom is. Those are the fucking rules.

Nihilist #2/Spencer Bachus: His girlfriend gave up her toe!

Nihilist #3/Steve King: She thought we'd be getting million dollars!

Nihilist #2/Spencer Bachus: Iss not fair!


The Dude/Obama: Hey, cool it Walter. Look, pal, there never was any money. The big Lebowski gave me an empty briefcase, so take it up with him, man.

Walter/Grayson: And, I would like my undies back.
[Stunned, the Germans confer amongst themselves again]

Donny/The Democrats: Are they gonna hurt us, Walter?

Walter/Grayson: No, Donny. These men are cowards.

Nihilist/Louie Gohmert: Okay. So we take ze money you haf on you, und ve calls it eefen.

Walter/Grayson: Fuck you.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Still I Look to Find A Reason to Believe

"Even with most Americans on our side, the odds are long. We learned long ago that power and privilege never give up anything without a struggle. Money fights hard, and it fights dirty. Think Rove. The Chamber. The Kochs. We may lose. It all may be impossible. But it's OK if it's impossible. Hear the former farmworker and labor organizer Baldemar Velasquez on this. The members of his Farm Labor Organizing Committee are a long way from the world of K Street lobbyists. But they took on the Campbell Soup Company - and won. They took on North Carolina growers - and won, using transnational organizing tactics that helped win Velasquez a "genius" award from the MacArthur Foundation. And now they're taking on no less than R.J. Reynolds Tobacco and one of its principal financial sponsors, JPMorgan-Chase. Some people question the wisdom of taking on such powerful interests, but here's what Velasquez says: 'It's OK if it's impossible; it's OK!' Now I'm going to speak to you as organizers. Listen carefully. The object is not to win. That's not the objective. The object is to do the right and good thing. If you decide not to do anything, because it's too hard or too impossible, then nothing will be done, and when you're on your death bed, you're gonna say, 'I wish I had done something. But if you go and do the right thing NOW, and you do it long enough "good things will happen-something's gonna happen.'

Shades of Howard Zinn!"

---Bill Moyers, speaking at Boston University on October 29, 2010 as part of the Howard Zinn Lecture Series. You can watch the entire lecture here.

"Although we have always benefited from the activities of public-spirited individuals, even men and women of great wealth who recognize that greed as a principle of public conduct often leads to perverse outcomes, the United States Constitution was emphatically not founded on the assumption that either citizens or magistrates could be trusted to act selflessly. If my argument can be taken as a call to republican virtue, it is only so within the modern realist framework devised by Madison and his colleagues in 1787, according to whom government is a response to humanity’s inherent wickedness. Men are not angels, Obama notwithstanding. A properly American call to republican virtue is not a utopian exhortation that our citizens cast aside their private and selfish interests and embark on a course of austere political action, with their eyes fixed on some transcendent public good apart from their own. No, what is required is that Americans take a stand on behalf of their selfish material interests and against those of the monopolies and transnational corporations that have captured our institutions of government. The paradoxical character of our popular corruption is that the people have become slothfully selfless, too absorbed by their ephemeral entertainments and petty cultural disputes to assert their self-interest against the plunderers who rule them.

Surely, however, the American people have not become so servile that they will forever submit to the rule of 1 percent. Surely we are capable of recognizing that the perverse corporate regime that has arisen in our country is a usurpation of popular government. Our Constitution unquestionably recognizes the right of a people to alter its mode of government; we have done so twenty-seven times. We may do so again. We may throw off these bonds and provide new guards for our future security."

---Roger Hodge, from Speak, Money, Harper's Magazine, October 2010, from his book The Mendacity of Hope.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Fucked Once More by Mob Mentality

Once again, it's morning in America for the rich white men among us.

Enjoy it while you can, monkey-boys...the demographics of the country are going to look very different in a few years, and what goes around...

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Vote Locally, Weep Globally

Voted after work, around 5:15 p.m., and was told that turnout was around 50%. This is really amazing for this election cycle in my district. What's better is that Dems outnumber Republicans here, so at least, from a micro level, things look much better than nationally. But I have a somewhat depressed take on the outcome anyway. Tomorrow Helicopter Ben will be dumping more money into the economy and a trip to the grocery store will cost even more, no matter who is in power.

But fuck Toomey, and fuck Corbett even more. If they get in they will cut the throats of the poor and middle-class and line the pockets of their kleptocrat friends with the wages of the powerless. I remember watching in horror, after 4 years of murder and idiocy, as my neighbors hoorahed themselves hoarse for another 4 years of Bush. I realized then as never before that there really was no underestimating the intelligence, or the meanness, of the American public. And now, whaddya know? Here we are again, back at the old same place, faced with the prospect that the droolings of these class clowns will once again take the place of public policy and statecraft, and that their oily squirmings under the watchful eye of the robber barons will grease the old wealth re-distribution sewer that flows upward, ever upward, forever and ever, amen.