Wednesday, February 27, 2008


The Regime's efforts to scare the country and its representatives in Congress assembled into caving to demands for telecom immunity are falling flat. This is not to say that the propaganda effort is diminishing in any way. In fact, universally throughout the mainstream news media, the issue is formulated precisely as Bob Orr did on the CBS Evening News last night (via C & L):

BOB ORR: At issue is whether or not telecommunications companies like Verizon and AT&T should be protected from lawsuits when they help the government tap conversations of suspected foreign terrorists - when those calls and emails are routed through the U.S.

When, as C & L, and most of the Lefty Blogosphere points out, that's not the issue at all.

Via C & L again:

Actually, the issue is whether retroactive immunity will be granted to telecoms so they can’t be sued by Americans, for illegally participating in wiretapping American citizens in America.

That's about as simple and straightforward a statement of the Issue as it is possible to get, and yet, to date, not one mainstream news outlet has been able to say it that way.

It's so bad that the other day, as reported by Glenn Greenwald, John King, experienced political reporter at CNN, had Adm. Mike McConnell, Director of Intelligence, on to discuss the issue and stated:

KING: To most Americans out there, and to a guy like me who's spent most of his time, in the past several months, out covering a presidential campaign, this is highly detailed stuff that's pretty hard to follow.

No. It's not. It never has been "hard to follow." This question at issue is whether or not the Congress will provide immunity to large corporations that broke the law and spied on Americans without warrants or court supervision of any kind for several years.

The Senate has voted to provide that immunity. The House has voted not to.

The resolution is to be found in conference committee. Nearly every observer assumes that the conference committee will provide partial or full retroactive immunity to the telecoms, and that by doing so, the governmental interests who conspired or colluded to induce the telecoms to perform these illegal acts of domestic surveillance will be shielded from investigation or culpability.

The issue has NEVER, EVER been about whether telecoms should be immunized from suits over spying on calls from or to suspected terrorists. Immunity for following lawful government orders is already provided. The problem is that the orders (or "requests") were not lawful and following them was not lawful; further, so far as anyone can suss out, the surveillance was never limited (and so far as we know, is not now limited) to "terrorists." Essentially all domestic and foreign communication is potential fodder for warrantless surveillance, making moot the 4th Amendment to the Constitution.

But nowhere in the mainstream media -- with the odd exception, such as when a "critic" is allowed to speak, briefly, on the topic, or when Keith Olbermann focuses on it -- is the issue accurately described, even though the fearmongering of the White House, the intelligence agency heads, and Republicans in Congress has been almost entirely repudiated.

Propaganda is universal.

Stalin is smiling.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Commonist! Fascist!


The outlines of the Campaign Against Teh Negro are taking shape. The other day, one of the favorite neo-conmen propagandists, Hugh Hewitt, had Jonah Goldberg, Spawn of Lucianne, and Doughy Pantload, on his show to tout his best-selling book, "Liberal Fascism."

They discussed all the many aspects of the Liberal Fascist subversion of this country since Woodrow Wilson and Jean Jacques Rousseau, the Destruction of the Christian Nation, yadda, yadda, yadda, and they summed up their mutual stroking with consideration of Michelle Obama's speechifying, which was clearly Fascist according to them both, and then with a parallel discussion of Obamamania, which is so overtly and obviously Fascist, there is no way to beat it.

Got that? No way to beat it. Well, not no way, wink-wink, nudge-nudge, say no more. But if things run their usual course it will be a very hard row for McCain to hoe against the Negro. Thus Barack, if he is the Democrat Nominee, is almost -- repeat, almost a shoe-in to win the election in November.

It's that Liberal Fascism, don'tcha know.

Meanwhile, over at The Corner, we learn (via "Accuracy in Media") that Negro men and white women were hooking up in the 1950's and 1960's only one way: through Communist cells operating in the land before they could be dismantled by the authorities. Ergo. The Half-Black Obama must be the product of one of these nefarious cells, because there was no other way in those days, for the Black Man to come into intimate contact with the White Woman. It just couldn't happen.

Which makes Obama himself a Communist by breeding, and lookit here: he's also an ideological Communist. Once you understand the dynamics of his upbringing and all.


As a Commun-o-Fascist, the Epitome of Evul, Barack may think he's got the Presidency sewed up, but that crusty old warhorse St John McCain is the Right Man to give him a run for his money. McCain, American fighter of Commun-o-Fascists, Resister. Winner! Martin Luther King was a Communist, too. Don't you deny it! He wouldn't have stirred up all that trouble if it weren't for the Communists infiltrating the SCLC. It's a Known Fact.

Just remember, there wouldn't be a Barack without the World Wide Communist Conspiracy that McCain and Barry Goldwater and St. Ronald Reagan fought their whole lives and defeated.

Just remember that. Harrumph.

[Ed note: the level of desperation these pathetic attempts to smear Barack Obama as a Communist/Fascist represent is kind of breathtaking. It's hard to imagine anyone under the age of 50 cares. It is so 20th Century.]

Thursday, February 21, 2008


William Arkin has an interesting blog post over at the WaPo blogsite that digs into the issue of "permanent bases". He points out, as most of us have sensed for a very long time, that there is no intention, whatever, to remove American forces from the Persian Gulf any time in the forseeable future. Despite all the pledges of no "permanent bases" in Iraq, permanent bases are being constructed and the infrastructure for a permanent American military presence is being built in the Persian Gulf right now, in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, etc. Ultimately, there will be a significant permanent American military presence throughout the region. Period.

Ah. More Imperial hubris?

This has nothing to do with fighting terrorism, and it has everything to do with regional hegemony. Which has been the point all along.

Terrorism -- whether Islamic jihadi, homegrown, or anarchic -- is a mosquito in the context of that all important power projection game that is American foreign and military policy. "Fighting terrorism" is a convenient excuse for the imposition of American power abroad and the imposition of a domestic Autocracy at home.

Mosquitos may be insignificant creatures when compared with the bulk of their prey. But they have been known to do considerable damage if they carry disease.

As much as we may not like to think so, the jihadi mosquitos seem to be loaded up with microbes fatal to their American targets.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Stunning victory in Wisconsin. All eyes await Hillary's withdrawl.

Or not.

[Don't forget Hawaii!]



The Supreme Court Refuses to Hear complaints from the People about the lawless domestic surveillance that was underway for years.

Refuses to Hear...


Time was the Court wouldn't hear civil rights issues either. Not their problem. Go. Away.

And now, Governmental Lawlessness is Not Their Problem, either.

Nino rules.

We can just STFU.

Brasil. Brasil. Prá mim... prá mim....

Monday, February 18, 2008

Enh, Kristol

He really doesn't seem to be up to the standard of the Times, but this week he tries, oh dear me, how he tries.

His topic is the defense of retroactive telecom immunity which the House of Representatives is -- for now -- resisting. We might recall that the Senate, too, briefly resisted the commands of the White House to pass immunity legislation without "further" debate, the Time For Debate being Over and all, or maybe we don't recall since the gameplan was obvious from the outset when Harry Reid brought the Intelligience Committee bill to the Senate floor rather than the Judiciary Committee bill. From that point on, everybody knew immunity would pass. But not without the courtesy of Senate Debate. And not without a bazillion calls and emails from the people telling them Not to Cave (again.) Calls and emails ignored as they usually are.

So it is that the White House has now ordered the House of Representatives to pass the Senate bill immediately and without "further" debate, the Time For Debate being Over and all. Like the Senate before them, the House says "No." Only this time, they don't have to yield to the commands of the White House at all, they've already passed a bill without immunity, so that can go to conference with the Senate bill, and the conference committee can come back with a resolution (which will no doubt include immunity) which the House and Senate can pass in the dead of night by unanimous consent and be done with the whole stinky mess.

Only Kristol doesn't like the mechanisms in place to pass bills that he likes, for example "updating" FISA to include immunity for past "cooperation" with the Government by telecoms. He doesn't like the way the Senate works and he doesn't like the way the House works. What he likes is legislative bodies following the commands and orders from the White House, bodies lacking any legislative authority but to follow orders from on high. That's what he routinely calls for. That's his agenda as it were. Not simply an authoritarian state -- which the United States has long been -- but an Autocratic state, which he's been spinning and working overtime in his numerous venues for years to accomplish before he dies of heartbreak or ennui.

In his column today, he posits George Orwell's consideration of Kipling, c. 1942, as the correct metaphor for his increasingly desperate longing for American (Bushevik) Autocracy. We have to be clear here; he's not talking, thinking, or dreaming about an Autocracy clean of political considerations, by no means. His metaphor is explicit:

Having controlled the executive branch for 28 of the last 40 years, Republicans tend to think of themselves as the governing party — with some of the arrogance and narrowness that implies, but also with a sense of real-world responsibility. Many Democrats, on the other hand, no long even try to imagine what action and responsibility are like. They do, however, enjoy the support of many refined people who snigger at the sometimes inept and ungraceful ways of the Republicans. (And, if I may say so, the quality of thought of the Democrats’ academic and media supporters — a permanent and, as it were, pensioned opposition — seems to me to have deteriorated as Orwell would have predicted.)

In other words, the Autocracy he seeks is that of the Ruling Party alone, with no consideration whatsoever of the "sniggering" opposition. The Ruling Party, of course, is the Bushevik version of the Republican Party.

Orwell was describing his view of Rudyard Kipling's adherence to British Imperial "outreach" (now there's a word I've come to despise); Kipling had a “morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting” belief in the rightness of the British Empire which, according to Orwell, acknowledged "reality." Indeed. In 1942, that Empire was under fierce and bloody assault all around the world. But in 1900, when Kipling was in his heyday, the Empire went about its business of conquest and exploitation, expansion, and the White Man's Burden, with slight opposition by the Natives, soon crushed, and with what amounted to a pro-forma opposition in Parliament, an opposition long since coopted by the Ruling Power.

Kipling therefore fit his times, say what you will about his literary achievements.

Somehow, in Kristol's warped imagination, that commentary by Orwell about British politics between 1900 and 1942 is turned into an overt approval of Bushevik Imperialism and Will to Power and Domestic Autocracy, c. 2000-2008. Of course nothing of the sort should be imagined. It's quite simply deranged to think so, and yet it is so utterly of a piece with everything else Kristol and his ilk have been twisting to suit their ideological need for Autocracy. Kristol is using the thoughts of the man who wrote 1984 to justify the imposition of 1984-like universal surveillance. Of course. He's been doing this sort of thing for years, and tristero over at Digby's place has an excellent post and commentary of his own on how the Right Wing Authoritarians, Kristol's imaginary Ruling Party, manage to get their twisted perspectives mainstreamed all the time.

So Kristol gives it a shot at the Times. Why not? It works so well everywhere else.

Not once in his entire column does the concept of "Law" intrude in his reverie. And "Law" -- of some sort, whether it be FISA or the Constitution, or what have you -- is at the core of the dispute over retroactive telecom immunity. This is the way the RWA has always discussed the topic: something bad happened, the telecoms "cooperated" with the Government, they should be held harmless for it; what they did -- egregiously breaking the Law -- is never, ever to be mentioned. And the concept of "Law" itself is always to be denigrated.

Orwell would have mordantly chuckled, to say the least.

Why does Kristol have a forum outside his own publication, again?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Puritans and Hysterics

Every now and then, I get this sensation that We've Been Down This Road Before. It's not exactly deja vu, because I'm not (necessarily) the one who went this route in the past.

It's the Nation.

Two characteristics keep cropping up over and over again:

  • The smug, judgemental Puritan tight ass;

  • The wild-eyed, fast-talking (though it may be jibberish) Hysteric.

    We toggle between them perpetually.

    Right now, we're in a Hysterical phase with the Puritans anxious to return to the fore. We've been in a state of Hysteria for nearly a generation, since the advent of the Reagan Era, and we're wearing out.

    The Puritans -- call them Progressives if you like -- are Ready to step in, chain up the Hysterics for a while, and start cleaning up the mess.

    But are the Hysterics ready to let go?

    Hillary! gets them more riled up than they usually are. Barack seems to soothe them, calm them down. And by "them", I'm referring to the RWA crowd as well as a whole raft of Opinion Leaders, Pundits, and a national zeitgeist that derives from them.

    It's been predicted that if McCain goes against Hillary! in the fall, McCain wins; if he goes against Barack, Barack wins. That prediction seems sensible. Until Obama's rise, Hillary's victory was all but foregone, no matter which R she ran against, so much so that Limbaugh himself was resigned to President Hillary in '09 and was gently preparing his dwindling audience to accept the Inevitable.

    And Hillary! is a quintessential tight ass Puritan, oozes take-charge superiority and empowerment. Focus. Discipline. Planning. After a generation of Hysterics, she would seem to be what the country badly needs.

    But along comes Barack Obama, out of Chicago by way of quite a journey through the rest of the world, and he not only upsets the Clintonian Inevitability Showcart, he starts us down a whole other path.

    He's neither a Hysteric nor a Puritan, at least as far as anyone can tell. He's completely different. Well. Not completely, but different enough from what we're used to, and so filled with Redemptionist fervor, the Clintons can't get any traction against him, and the RWA's are mystified, perplexed, and oddly charmed.

    Is it time to get off the swinging pendulum?

  • Thursday, February 14, 2008



    The House is going to let the FISA Reform (PAA) they hastily passed last summer lapse and tell Bushie and the rest of his ilk to take a long walk off a short pier.


    Things are totally out of hand now.

    Silvestre Reyes wrote a letter to the President that pretty much sums it up.

    Washington, DC - Congressman Silvestre Reyes, D-TX, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, sent the following letter to President George W. Bush today regarding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The text of the letter is below:

    President George W. Bush

    The White House

    1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

    Washington, DC 20500

    Dear Mr. President:

    The Preamble to our Constitution states that one of our highest duties as public officials is to "provide for the common defence." As an elected Member of Congress, a senior Member of the House Armed Services Committee, and Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I work everyday to ensure that our defense and intelligence capabilities remain strong in the face of serious threats to our national security.

    Because I care so deeply about protecting our country, I take strong offense to your suggestion in recent days that the country will be vulnerable to terrorist attack unless Congress immediately enacts legislation giving you broader powers to conduct warrantless surveillance of Americans' communications and provides legal immunity for telecommunications companies that participated in the Administration's warrantless surveillance program.

    Today, the National Security Agency (NSA) has authority to conduct surveillance in at least three different ways, all of which provide strong capability to monitor the communications of possible terrorists.

    First, NSA can use its authority under Executive Order 12333 to conduct surveillance abroad of any known or suspected terrorist. There is no requirement for a warrant. There is no requirement for probable cause. Most of NSA's collection occurs under this authority.

    Second, NSA can use its authority under the Protect America Act, enacted last August, to conduct surveillance here in the U.S of any foreign target. This authority does not "expire" on Saturday, as you have stated. Under the PAA, orders authorizing surveillance may last for one year - until at least August 2008. These orders may cover every terrorist group without limitation. If a new member of the group is identified, or if a new phone number or email address is identified, the NSA may add it to the existing orders, and surveillance can begin immediately. We will not "go dark."

    Third, in the remote possibility that a new terrorist organization emerges that we have never previously identified, the NSA could use existing authority under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to monitor those communications. Since its establishment nearly 30 years ago, the FISA Court has approved nearly every application for a warrant from the Department of Justice. In an emergency, NSA or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) may begin surveillance immediately, and a FISA Court order does not have to be obtained for three days. The former head of FISA operations for the Department of Justice has testified publicly that emergency authorization may be granted in a matter of minutes.

    As you know, the 1978 FISA law, which has been modernized and updated numerous times since 9/11, was instrumental in disrupting the terrorist plot in Germany last summer. Those who say that FISA is outdated do not understand the strength of this important tool.

    If our nation is left vulnerable in the coming months, it will not be because we don't have enough domestic spying powers. It will be because your Administration has not done enough to defeat terrorist organizations - including al Qaeda -- that have gained strength since 9/11. We do not have nearly enough linguists to translate the reams of information we currently collect. We do not have enough intelligence officers who can penetrate the hardest targets, such as al Qaeda. We have surged so many intelligence resources into Iraq that we have taken our eye off the ball in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As a result, you have allowed al Qaeda to reconstitute itself on your watch.

    You have also suggested that Congress must grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies. As someone who has been briefed on our most sensitive intelligence programs, I can see no argument why the future security of our country depends on whether past actions of telecommunications companies are immunized.

    The issue of telecom liability should be carefully considered based on a full review of the documents that your Administration withheld from Congress for eight months. However, it is an insult to the intelligence of the American people to say that we will be vulnerable unless we grant immunity for actions that happened years ago.

    Congress has not been sitting on its hands. Last November, the House passed responsible legislation to authorize the NSA to conduct surveillance of foreign terrorists and to provide clarity and legal protection to our private sector partners who assist in that surveillance.

    The proper course is now to conference the House bill with the Senate bill that was passed on Tuesday. There are significant differences between these two bills and a conference, in regular order, is the appropriate mechanism to resolve the differences between these two bills. I urge you, Mr. President, to put partisanship aside and allow Republicans in Congress to arrive at a compromise that will protect America and protect our Constitution.

    I, for one, do not intend to back down - not to the terrorists and not to anyone, including a President, who wants Americans to cower in fear.

    We are a strong nation. We cannot allow ourselves to be scared into suspending the Constitution. If we do that, we might as well call the terrorists and tell them that they have won.


    Silvestre Reyes

    Member of Congress

    Chairman, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

    From Atrios

    And that's the kind of thing we need a LOT more of.

    Ball's in your court Georgie.

    Wednesday, February 13, 2008

    70 Dems in the House, 20 in the Senate, Always

    Atrios and several other of the haute blogmondistes have tentatively suggested that, possibly, um, could be, those Democrats who reliably split with their Dem colleagues and cleave to the Regime and its Republican handmaidens in the House and Senate -- about 70 in the House and typically 20 or so in the Senate -- actually think they are... doing... the... right... thing.

    They are not being hypocrites, they are not violating their Values. They are not necessarily craven, and quite possibly they are not cowards either. They and we just don't... agree.


    Why, just the other day, Atrios even suggested that, actually, the "majority" in the House and Senate is not Democratic at all, but is composed of all Republicans together with Lieberman and that reliable cohort of Democrats who routinely vote with the Republicans and almost always support the Regime.


    Taken long enough for him and others to get the idea. Some of us have been saying it for months or years.

    Knowing how these radical notions fester and then filter through the blogosphere, although fiercely resisted because they defy conventional blogospheric wisdom, and somebody is bound to argue the opposite point just because they can and it is traditional, we can expect that understanding these simple facts will take at least another two, three years, and when they are understood, it will take another five or six years to do anything about it, by which time the situation will be so radically different, nobody will care any more, and these simple facts will be irrelevant.

    Meanwhile, of course, Craven-Cowardly Democrats Who Have No Principles and Stand For Nothing will continue to be the widespread and innacurate conventional description of the Dems in Office, Chris Matthews will be relentlessly denounced, and calling, faxing, supporting disappointing candidates, and ranting will be the limit of any call to arms.

    So it has been, so it shall be.

    But welcome aboard Duncan. We'll get there yet, dude.


    A Rout on the Potomac.

    Have the Democrats settled on their Nominee?

    Torture Scalia!

    From CBC 6.18.2007

    Jeebus. Why is this man allowed to sit on the Supreme Court? He is demented.

    Cf: Merriam-Webster:

    One entry found.

    Main Entry:
    1 : mad, insane
    2 : suffering from or exhibiting cognitive dementia
    — de·ment·ed·ly adverb
    — de·ment·ed·ness noun

    Demented in the sense of complete and utter evil, not simply having lost his mind, but using what few wits he has about him to achieve vile and evil purposes.

    There was a rather cloying BBC4 radio interview yesterday that was picked up by NPR in which Scalia explained his view of "torture," or what people call torture. Oh, well. That.

    Seems that Scalia opines that "torture" -- or what people call torture -- isn't unconstitutional so long as it is performed on suspects for the purpose of extracting information, such as what Jack Bauer would be expected to do to the Great Terrorist in his captivity who knew where the nuclear bomb was that was going to destroy Los Angeles. Surely that's not illegal or unconstitutional, how could it be? On the other hand, posits Nino, "torture" -- or what people call torture, who can say what it really is in these Post Modern Times of War, I ask you? -- used as punishment for convicted criminals (and/or terrorists?) is clearly unconstitutional, illegal, what have you.

    So there you have it:

  • Torture suspects all you want; they have information; you need it; torture is the way to get it.

  • Don't torture convicts; it's wrong and nasty and icky and illegal. Convicts don't have information you need; let them rot in their dungeons.

    The NPR version of the BBC4 interview: Nino Opines on Torture and Other Matters

    He shouldn't have been confirmed to the Court in the first place, but once he was there, he should have been impeached.

    Of course, that would be rude.

    And we can't have that.
  • Tuesday, February 12, 2008


    The image above is from the balcony of a house in Santa Fe, (or as I call it, "Fanta Se") New Mexico.

    Santa Fe has long attracted a certain sort of independent, even rebellious type, often with a creative or artistic streak, and most helpfully with lots and lots of money. Well. Santa Fe can be one of the more expensive destinations on your itinerary, depending on what you want to do and all, and amongst whom you wish to fit in. Edit: the house from which this picture was taken is listed by Sothebys for $2,850,000 and is "under contract."

    I've spent quite a lot of time in Santa Fe and New Mexico over the last 20-25 years or so, never really worried about Fitting In, though I've been welcomed in many places and under many circumstances there.

    The sky has never disappointed.

    Perhaps the most rewarding and exciting adventure was to the Star Party at Chaco Canyon one September night a few years back. Now, Chaco is not an easy access facility. It's sixteen miles down a corduroy dirt road from the highway, and you typically don't attempt it in any kind of weather at all. But once you're there, it's quite a sight and even more of a feeling. Star Parties go on there because the skies are so pristine and the dark can be so enveloping. Try imagining what it was like when the canyon was inhabited.

    Other locales in the state have their own captivating qualities, charming people, and deep-rooted history. It's my Other Home...

    Monday, February 11, 2008

    Back! (Briefly)

    [Have to run off to a seminar in a few, so this will be quick.]

    Random Notes...

    Obama and Amy Winehouse pick up Grammys. I picked out Winehouse's "Rehab" for the Congressional Theme Song some time back, when Nancy and Harry were throwing hissyfits about how they're the Leaders, and we're just Activists and oughta sit down and shut up. They needed (and need) "rehab" bad, but they won't go-go-go.

    And it looks like we're going to stumble through the next few months with a wacked out Congress still picking at its scabs and wondering why nobody thinks they're kewl.


    It would be great if Obama or Clinton would go back to the Senate for a while and kick some major butt; it's called leadership, something former candidate Chris Dodd figured out how to do on FISA Reform. Shouldn't Obama and Clinton try it?

    Just sayin.

    Media ramble.

    I don't get cable so what's left of my mind isn't polluted by the frenzied yowlings of the 24/7 News Cycle. I see Tweety now and then on his own show -- which is broadcast on my local channel but often preempted.

    The many personalities that infect cable news barely register on my radar. Noise, little more. So the recent incidents involving Matthews and David Schuster seemed a bit overwrought in the blogosphere, to say the least. Especially given the fact that once Tweety "apologized" -- though his statement was a defense not an apology at all -- the Haute Blogmonde all "forgave" him. Hunh? And now with Schuster's suspension, he's being "forgiven" too.

    What's up with that? Well, go over to Crooks and Liars, and you'll see that there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of posts on the topic of Chris Matthews and his spittle-flecked Mouth. Not so many on Schuster, but he hasn't been around long enough. Taking Chris Matthews to task is a kind of sport, but it's also a necessary thing. Nobody in the Haute Blogmonde wants him to go away or even to stop his outrageous statements. Denouncing Chris Matthews is one of the most fulfilling aspects of blogging. What would the blogosphere do without him?

    Seems that the Clintons were behind the Schuster spanking, which is interesting, because it's never been clear that the Clintons wield any influence or power over the media at all. At least nothing comparable to the stranglehold the Busheviks have on media matters. But a casual, thoughtless reference to Chelsea being "pimped out", made by Schuster, gets the Clinton "Machine" all cranked up to do battle with the forces of Evul at MSNBC and Schuster is forced into a Time Out. While the rightwing cohorts spew on, unmolested. Tweety spews relentlessly. Tim Russert continues to suck up to Rs and trounce or ignore Ds. Nothing really changes.

    Which gets me to my final point of the day:


    Greenwald has been making a good case that Democrats need a New Strategy if they are going to win against McCainite Imperialism. Indeed. Conceding the ground on National Security to the Rs -- which the Dems have done since well before 9/11 -- is ruinous to the Party and its chances, as we've seen over and over and over again. ("Rehab" anyone?) And I argue that new strategies are needed all around, not just among our Democratic friends. Who are routinely called craven and cowards and the like by their Blogospheric critics. In fact, that's almost the limit of the Blogospheric critique of their behavior in office. They are Craven. They are Cowards. And they are Afraid.

    I suggest there's more to it than that, and that furthermore, continuing to call them names merely reinforces their determination to fight... you.

    They're called Cowards because too many of them refuse to fight the Rs. True enough, but those same Cowards are more than happy to turn around and fight against their own base of support and especially against the blogosphere all day and all night. They will fight tooth and nail, wield Power in abundance, face down their critics, and align with the Rs whenever it suits them to Get Things Done.

    I argue they are Wrong, but not Cowards, and they are not necessarily Craven in their Error.

    Rather than accuse them of what they are not, it seems to me to be better to state that they are Wrong, and their actions Morally Bankrupt. And show what the Right and Moral action would be.

    Too subtle a shift?

    Thursday, February 7, 2008



    We have water. Ha!

    Justin giving the thumbs up

    Anthony has promised to come back this morning to finish some of the things he and Justin just weren't able to get to yesterday, like attach the filler and trim pieces around the bathtub and shower fixtures, which means breaking out some more tile since the spacing wasn't measured before the fixtures were installed. There are still some loose pipes in the walls, so they need strapping down. The water heater installation hasn't been completed yet -- though that was the appliance we started this whole adventure with (drains and straps and such are missing), and the kitchen and bathroom sink drains are leaking a bit. Oh, and the tub drain is clogged up with plaster and other debris. And apparently has sprung a major leak. I wonder how that happened? Gee.

    Other than that, and a massive amount of wall hole-age and clean up still left to fix, we're doing fine. Even the cat seems to have settled in (he spent all of yesterday in the bedroom closet, buried in folded clothes under the hanging clothes. He was as contented a cat as I've ever seen him be in his hidey hole.)

    We've grown to like bottled water, too. We can't really drink what's coming out of the taps yet because of who-knows-what kind of chemical contamination that's in it. It has an... interesting, piquant aroma... something like the burning and smoke generated by the plumbers as they went about their tasks inside and under the house. Apparently the residue is from the solder and flux and whatnot as the sweated the pipes together. It'll go away in a week or so, they say. OK. Fine.

    The City got pissed because we turned the water off and on at their valve by the sidewalk. Apparently that's a NoNo, they're the only ones authorized to do that. Oh, really? Who'd a thunk. But their dambed valve was leaking anyway and had to be replaced, along with nearly everything else. At least they were pretty quick to come out when called. Didn't have to get all attitudinal about it, though. Excuse me. Ultimately everyone was mollified and we left as friends. Harrumph.

    There's plaster dust all over everything, even though we tried to keep it confined to the areas of work by closing off the rest of the house. Apparently that wasn't enough. So prioritizing what to take care of first is the next task on the list. The holes in the walls can be temporarily covered over while we try to clean up as much of the debris and dust and stuff as possible, and then we can figure out how to keep the debris of repairs to the walls from overwhelming "living areas." Probably won't be entirely successful, but while we're doing it, we can begin to get rid of whatever we don't need anymore. Beacuse...

    The floors are going to be another story.

    An entirely different and more involved adventure. Repair and refinishing will lead, I'm sure, to redoing all the floors, which, realistically will mean moving out. To do that, after living here for 20 years, is going to be a somewhat more than daunting task.

    We'll wait till spring.

    Wednesday, February 6, 2008


    Or is it Obama-Haybama-Bama-Bama-O?

    Well, no, it's a toss up, and the struggle for Dem delegates goes on. The situation parallels 1968, though the mood of the country is quite different, the zeitgeist as it were, on another level altogether.

    McCarthy was eclipsed when RFK got into the primary race in 1968. Nixon just plugged along. The nomination would have been RFK's -- almost by acclaimation -- if he had lived, but his victory in the California primary in June (imagine that), which sealed the nomination for him, ended with his assassination. By a Palestinian. Keep that in mind.

    Humphrey, who had been the Establishment candidate all along, became the presumptive nominee, what other choice was there? McCarthy of course, but that was not to be.

    The Democratic Convention disturbances (to put it mildly) were captured well in the film "Medium Cool" -- along with a strong element of general media criticism, in a highly melodramatic storyline, but what the hey? The struggles outside and inside the convention typified the struggles in the nation as a whole. The whole Progressive infrastructure was under assault, and the Powers That Be proclaimed the Perpetuity of the Status Quo. Crushing the student rebellion was only part of it. Humphrey was sincere and dull and hardly a leader. He was an apparatchik, a decent one to be sure, but less charismatic than a turnip, and determined to soldier on with Lyndon Johnson's by then more and more suspect policies, especially the war policies in Vietnam.

    Nixon promised something else again. Just what, nobody knew, but it wasn't more of the same damned thing that had got so many Americans up in arms that year -- and there were many, many Americans up in arms. The riots and destruction following Martin Luther King's assassination combined with the horror of RFK's assassination, combined with the monstrousness of Vietnam, and the constant student unrest, the Dirty Fucking Hippies, the gloating and self-satisfaction of the Communist Devils, all made Nixon's promises to "change" things that much more appealing. Who wanted to stay with the Status Quo? In fact, there was no way.

    So Nixon won in 1968.

    And there is a real underlying fear that something like that, ie: St. McCain's ultimate Victory, will happen this year. There's plenty of worry for the Redemptionist candidate's safety, too. Given what tends to happen to such candidates in our highly charged political culture.

    But is Hillary really the Status Quo? Obama says she is, and it's the widely held assumption that she is, and that comforts a lot of people, surprisingly enough. She is not so different that she threatens as many people as Obama does, and yet Obama has a huge appeal on his Platform of Redemption, one that resonates far more than Hillary's endless wonkiness.

    McCain, of course, is just a loon. Dude is wack. He's always been the media's darling though, even more than his butt-buddy Holy Joe Lieberman, and in a contest between Hillary and McCain, we know who would be favored and who would be smeared by the media. In a contest between Obama and McCain, it's not so clear, because Obama too is heavily favored in media-land. Yet if the R slime machine found something to smear Obama with -- something new, that is -- we can be sure it would be highlighted and paraded around endlessly by the media, whereas nothing of the sort would be attempted with any bad info regarding McCain.

    If there were an attack or an assassination after the nominees are chosen, then it's highly likely McCain -- as the Strong (Grand)Daddy -- would just be given the Presidency outright, who needs an "election" anyway?

    Sometimes I get myself so worked up over it I just want to crawl under the covers.

    Other times, I have a slim, wan hope that things will get better, history does not repeat, and Tomorrow is Another Day.

    Tuesday, February 5, 2008

    Eeyikes! Nightmare!

    Today was worse than yesterday by maybe 50%, maybe more. (And I hear there are primaries under way, eh? What's the haps? Haven't been able to keep up with the numbers at all.)

    Anthony and Justin arrived right on time and went right to work. Justin showed me his eye, no longer red and weepy, and said that it had been driving him nuts most of the night, that whatever he'd got in it wouldn't come out, and then all of a sudden it was gone. I felt kind of silly playing pseudoDoc to a young lunky plumber who wouldn't wear goggles -- I'm sure he didn't have any -- but hey, they were promising to get the majority of the work done by the end of the day, so why complain too much?

    Eh, maybe I shoulda.

    No injuries today that I know of, but they were here from 8:00a till almost dark, close to 6:00p, and we still don't have any water. There was a lot of sawing and pipe wrenching this morning -- I thought all that was done yesterday -- and a lot of galvanized pipe was piling up on the driveway, pipe-age I thought had all been removed yesterday. 'Nother guy was out digging trench for the new feed line from the street main, and had quite a challenge getting under the front walk. Anthony and Justin went under the house after finishing with their yanking and sawing inside the house, and were under there most of the rest of the day. At one point, whatever electrics they were using under the house overloaded the circuit and they were plunged into darkness (apparently the bulb blew out and that's what caused the circuit to trip). Worse, the smoke alarm kept going off as they heated the pipes for joining. Finally took the battery out just to make it stop. Of course I made them promise they really weren't trying to burn the house down.

    The noises under the house, the cursing, the wrenching, the banging and carrying on were even more abundant than yesterday. And it didn't seem like they were making much progress at all. Then Justin came up for air and went into the bathroom to fuss with the piping under the sink, and I swear he was there for three solid hours. Then it was back under.

    When 3:00p rolled around, and nothing at all was connected, I became, as they say, "concerned." The toilet was still in the bathtub, there were no fixures installed anywhere, the kitchen sink supply piping wasn't in on one side, because they couldn't get it seated, the waterheater was disconnected, and the main from the street was disconnected, the new pipes were laid in the trench not linked to the house or the city main. In fact, someone from the city had to come out and replace a nipple on the shut off valve or no new piping could be attached.

    And the cat was missing.

    He'd gone to hide behind the tub (figuring the wall was opened up just for him, you know how cats are) and when the plumbers started making real noise in there, he bolted out, scaring Justin, who literally screamed. He went chattering off into the hall, "Do you know what just happened! Do you know? A CAT came running out from behind the tub." I said, "Did you see where he went?" cool as a cucumber. "Outside?"
    The door wasn't open, so that was unlikely. I suspected the cat had run back behind the tub once Justin was out of the room. I didn't see him again until a half hour after they left this evening, then he emerged from under some shrubbery outside, as if he'd been there all the time, and he was ready for supper.

    When the plumbers realized we'd only prepared for two days without water, and there was no sign they were going to complete the job today, they went into furious overdrive to connect the toilet, tub and sink in the bathroom and the waterheater. Also, it seemed like a good idea to reconnect to the old main line in the front yard, so as to have a flow into the house. It was a frenzy. Finally, about 5:00p enough was connected to try the system. Justin was stationed in the bathroom, Anthony at the main valve at the street, me headed to the laundry room between them.

    And I heard this sound, like the sound the water heater made when it failed. Oh no. When I got to the laundry room door, a puddle of water was coming out from under the washing machine. I hollered to Anthony to turn it off. It took him a while, and the water gushed up the wall. In all the frenzy, no one had thought to cap the washer lines, and so water was fountaining up from the pipes, and we had a flood. Justin came and started sweeping the water out, Anthony came and looked crestfallen. When he realized where the water was coming from, he cursed lustily and got to work capping the pipes. That took a few minutes, while clearing out the water took considerably longer. Finally, it was time to test the mini-system again.

    Leaks. Everywhere. OMG. That was it, no water tonight. They cleaned up and left. I spent another half hour sopping up the water in the laundry room. Then I left, too.

    Got me a big greasy burger and fries, and a bottle of water. And another bottle of water, a big one. And another one.

    Anthony and Justin said they'd be back tomorrow morning, planning to finish by early afternoon. But... We're looking at the new damage, on top of the damage when the water heater originally blew out, and it's tough to reconcile.

    Did I hear somebody say we should fire them and call another company to fix and finish?


    To be continued...


    Anthony and Justin arrived about an hour late yesterday, but they got right to work opening up the walls and excising the nasty, very rusted old pipes. Actually, the cold water pipes were fine; the hot water pipes were the ones filled with rust and corrosion.

    We tried to prepare by moving as much stuff out of the way as possible, but not knowing exactly where they were going to want to work, a lot of what we moved was still in the way, so rearrangement continued throughout the day. The noise was awful. Saws and hammers and grinders, torches and wrenches and everything else, including the kitchen sink went into the struggle. Plumbing fittings still litter the yard. The tub is full of tools and odd flotsam and jetsam from the job. The cat smartly hid...

    One wall was cut that didn't have to be, and in cutting the right one instead, Justin managed to get some plaster chips in his eye. Oh man. Anthony was under the kitchen sink at the time, banging away, and called out, "Justin! Come here, I need some help." Nothing. The saw in the bathroom had stopped some time back. "Justin!" Nothing. Then a few minutes later, Justin showed up in the kitchen, "Anthony, I need the keys to the truck, I got something in my eye." Anthony said, "I need your help here." Uh... dude. I was about to intervene when Justin said, "Look, I can't. I can't see. Give me the keys." And Justin went out to the truck. Anthony sat there for a minute in a pile of plaster dust and rotted pipe-age. "Oh..." It was like a lightbulb went on over his head. "Oh... shit." He got up and went out to the truck.

    I continued my business in the house. A few minutes later, the two of them came back and started packing up for the day. It was about 3:00p, and they'd been working pretty hard, with Justin under the house most of the time, where all the most pitiful and desperate pipe-wracking sounds had been coming from. They got their stuff out to the truck, and Justin was in the laundry room looking sort of lost. I asked him about his eye. He told me what had happened and showed me his red and weepy left eye. I told him he better get some treatment, it could be nasty. He said he would. Before they left, Anthony -- who by now you've figured out was the journeyman -- took me aside and said everything was OK, they actually got somewhat farther today than they expected to. All the old pipes are out, some of the new ones are in, and they'll have the rest in tomorrow (today), and he expected everything to finish up tomorrow (today) and the water to be back on by early afternoon.


    Well, of course, there's always that, isn't there? He took me around to the front of the house and showed me the main where the water came in to the house through the line from the street. Ooops. He'd been replacing the hose bib and setting up a new shut off valve when the pipe broke. He dug around and found it was rusted where it came out of the ground. He was going to dig around some more hoping to find some solid pipe to connect to, but the whole thing could be rusted in which case, replacement time. OK. I asked if he could do it tomorrow (today) if he needed to; he thought he could. The wall mount faucet they got for the kitchen doesn't quite fit, so they're going to try to find a better one. The bathtub and shower fittings should be OK, but they haven't tried them yet. They -- so far -- haven't had to open exterior walls, so there is that.

    We laid in a supply of about 40 gallons of water to get us through two days without running water (they'd told us it would only be one, but we suspected otherwise and were correct.) We've been able to do most routine water-using activities except bathe, the tub being decommissioned for the duration. The kitchen sink drain broke during the struggle with the pipes, so that is out of commission and will have to be replaced. Flushing the toilet without running water is possible, but it seems to take a lot of water to do it, four gallons to fill the tank plus another gallon to clear the bowl. That's used up a lot of our non-potable supply, though we are doing our best to limit our trips to the toidy to those only absolutely necessary. We're trying not to generate dishes to wash, and only doing minimal morning ablutions.

    And then there are the holes in the walls. Ones needed and not needed. The plumbers are not going to fix them. We will. Saving some of the cost, you see, but still...

    As for that plumber's eye... well, we'll see shortly, won't we? They're supposed to be back here in an hour an a half.

    Sunday, February 3, 2008

    The End of History

    Francis Fukuyama (in)famously proposed an "End of History" in a 1989 essay later expanded in a 1992 book titled "The End of History and the Last Man."

    His thesis was stark recognition that with the fall of the Soviet Union, the cause of Progress had come to an end in the sense we had known it. History itself had in a sense come to an end. There was no clear path forward, no comprehensive motive for further developments on the Progressive model. Some form of Western Democracy and Market Capitalism had come to dominate the political and economic life of the whole world; it would only expand its reach in the future. "Progress" on the models previously understood simply had no ideological basis any more. Modernism itself was no longer necessary or possible.

    Our Future would be Post Modern, unpredictable in the short term, but consistently expanding the practice of Western Democracy and Market Capitalism over the long term.

    This reading of Fukuyama's thesis may not comport with the generally held belief that he was simply being a Hegelian/Straussian NeoConman tool, advocating a Neo-Imperialist expansion of the West, particularly the United States, by force and theft. In fact, that isn't what he advocated. It is instead the consequence of the Triumph of the End-of-the-20th-Century Western World View.

    That world view was until relatively recently dominated by the principles of the Progressive Operating System (as modified) that has been nearly universally applied to governments and NGOs throughout the Civilized World. Now, with the "end" of History, that Operating System seemed more and more an anachronism and an impediment.

    What to do?

    The answer seems to be to plow forward willy-nilly, in a strange and bloody version of Dickensian Darwinism, let the survivors rule, and that, as they say, is that. So far, we don't have a serious counter movement, an effective ideological counter.

    While we have candidates claiming a Progressive mantle, the term no longer has any meaning -- except as a formless "opposition" to Bushevism that really hasn't been an effective opposition at all. In some sense, Bushevism is as Progressive as the Progressives -- who seem incapable of doing anything in any case.

    One by one, government agencies are being openly purged of lingering Progressive operations, replaced with purely ignorant, crony and political hackery such as hasn't been seen in government since the end of the 19th Century. So-called Progressive legislators do little or nothing about it, some even helping to undermine what's left of Progressive operations by reflexively approving Bushevik nominees to cabinet and judicial appointments.

    They are pledged to dismantle what's left of Progressivism in the Federal government, and as that happens, State and local governments must follow suit in order to coordinate their operations with those of the Federal government -- which holds enormous power of the purse (among other things) over the domestic dependent governments.

    So we've seen at first a gradual and then precipitous decline of objective and rational governmental operations at all levels, replaced with a corrupt and very personalized, often irrational and arbitrary operation.

    To be continued...

    Friday, February 1, 2008

    OT: Update

    About Those Pipes...

    The plumbers are scheduled to come on Monday to start replacing the corroded galvanized pipes with shiny new copper.

    Joy. Rapture. OMG.

    They have to open up the interior walls in the bathroom and kitchen, also an exterior wall in the kitchen. They have to dig a trench in the front and have the city come out to locate the main water shut off valve -- somewhere, who knows where. They're supposed to replace the exterior water lines and hosebibs too. Replace all the faucets. And then somehow it all has to be put back together.

    Just a major plumbing overhaul. Major upheaval at Casa Ché.

    They are anticipating a three day job. I don't envy them trying to crawl around under the house, or wrestling with the galvanized pipes, or any of the rest of what they will be doing. These old houses were not built to be messed with afterwards.

    We will attempt to continue living in the house while all of this is going on, even though we'll effectively have to half-move out to give the plumbers room to manoeuver. And periodically, I'll try to post.

    Crisis management, indeed...