Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"The Terror Warriors lie all the time, about everything"

The title comes from a Chris Floyd post of July 28, Bodyguard of Lies: The Truth Behind the 'Surge's' Smokescreen.

For some time, I've wondered if Americans realize that they are being lied to by the Pentagon every single day, day in and day out, relentlessly in the matter of the Glorious War On Terror being conducted by our Blameless Forces.

Chris Floyd says:

They tell big lies and small lies, lies of omission and great big fabricated fairy tales, lies to cover up specific acts of crime in the conquered land and lies designed to obscure the big picture of the overarching war crime of the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. The first instinct of the propaganda mouthpieces of the Pentagon is, always, to lie, to distort, obfuscate, confuse, exaggerate or diminish -- whatever is required in their relentless campaign to make the foulest of crimes -- mass murder -- look like a noble deed.

This should be a self-evident truth to anyone who has been paying attention, and yet, Our Noble Warriors and their spokespeople are rarely challenged on their constant lying, certainly not by the media and not by Congress, unless it is to offer a "There, there, we understand how difficult your jobs are." Instead, every now and then, when some previous lie is made "inoperative" by some new lie, rarely by new facts (ask the Tillman family), the lies are simply accepted as New Truth, with no discussion, and we go on as if nothing were amiss.

Was it even this bad during the "5 o'clock follies" in Vietnam? Was it this bad when Pravda and Izvestia were parsed from end to end for any hint of the facts of the Soviet Union?

The Pentagon's habit of lying about everything all the time, even when they don't have to lie, is perhaps the single most characteristic aspect of this Glorious War On Terror.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Long Time Gone

Several posts got started during this summer hiatus, but they still languish unfinished like so much else in our lives and our land. Like the houses that stand forlorn and half-complete up and down California, the spanking new neighborhoods blasted by foreclosure, bankruptcy and fraud.

Or like the career of the Dixie Chicks, their rise never really complete because it was blasted by the ignorant and the fools and the go-alongs, the get-alongs, the fearful and the frantic. I have seen them a couple of times and have felt they would never want for any work at all, way too much talent to be shunted to the sidelines, and yet... Too often in Modern America the best and the brightest are pushed away, pushed out, forgotten, forlorn.

I've been very impressed with Obama's Progress -- almost a Royal Progress -- through the lands benighted and enlightened this last week or so. He certainly makes a brilliant appearance, and the contrast between his openness, good humor and energy (they called it "vigor" or "vigah" back in JFK's day) and the crabbed snottiness and utter lonliness of Bush's ventures abroad could not be more acute. And yet, as he made his way from one stop to the next, it seemed like he was turning in to a Bushevik, right before our eyes, offering very little in the end that wasn't already part of the Beltway Palace Program. Actually, the Palace and the Camp Obama have been assimilating one another for some time. So much so, it's hard to find points of major difference any more. His nemisis and rival, Princess "Scarlett" McCain, even adopted his "16 Month Withdrawal" timetable, but it's a "withdrawal" so frought with caveats and leave-behinds and force protections and so forth, it quite obviously is intended to perpetuate the occupation of Restive Mesopotamia into the very long-term future.

No, the primary difference between Bushevisim and Obamism at this point is that crucial matter of Personality.

Nothing wrong with that. And yet obviously we're now dealing with a status quo candidate, not a "Change" candidate at all. Status quo at least in the context of our Imperial adventures and conquests, the irrelevance of the Constitution and so on. The Important and Serious Matters that maintain American hegemony. You see.

Obama is running for King-Emperor. Republic? Presidency? Hah. Old Fashioned. Get with the New Modern Program! Forward!

Once under way, it's very hard to stop this sort of "change". It may wear itself out in time, in fact, it probably will, sooner rather than later, as the economic situation in this country deteriorates further and the security situation of our overseas empire fails to improve. Just as the Soviet Union was undermined and brought down by this sort of internal and external bleeding, so might America's latter day experiment in Empire. The World would just as soon have it so. Our hegemony, at least under the lash of Bush and Cheney, has been a global nightmare and horror.

But there is so much left unfinished, so much still to do. We have so far to go. Still.

Don't we?

Listen to Glenn Greenwald's interview with Daniel Ellsberg on Salon Radio. If you were around back in the day when Ellsberg did something very brave, lots of memories will be jogged. If you weren't around back then, his story should curl your hair. His question: Why isn't there anyone in government now -- ANYONE -- who will do the equivalent today of what he did then? What has happened?

Friday, July 18, 2008

"Exterminate All The Brutes!"

The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan (not to mention our other overseas Imperial adventures in Somalia and various former Soviet Republics) are heating up again; "fighting season" they call it, like our own crippled "summer driving season." And the Imperial answer is to kill them all. Obliterate the native foe. Exterminate the brutes.

After a NATO outpost was overrun by "Taliban" in Afghanistan killing 9 American troops, wounding 15, (oddly only a day or so after yet another wedding party was exterminated by air power, 50-60 dead, dozens wounded, all civilians, all headed to a wedding) the first stories I heard about it on the radio suggested that revenge was swift, that the village where the insurgents had supposedly come from had been leveled, and all its inhabitants killed. Never heard that story again. No, later stories said the outpost had been abandoned and there was no hint of "revenge."

But these are Imperial times, and the Empire is not to be denied; we can be certain there was swift and brutal retaliation, many natives slaughtered, and so it will go until the slaughterers are exhausted, the slaughterers on both sides, for resistance to Imperial assimilation has become a very serious cause among the jibbering natives of far away lands. And they have honed their resistance efforts to cause maximum discomfort to their Imperial foe, with minimal outlay.

It's been plain for some time that a slow-motion depopulation of Mesopotamia is a desired outcome of the 2003 American-led invasion; there is no Imperial need for a "population" there in any case, only some workers to man the oil industry, and that's about it. Everyone else is superfluous, so, let them go away or die, since they have no appreciation for their Liberation, no language, no culure, no religion that would permit them to become Civilized through the gentle ministrations of chain-guns and AC-130 gunships; let them be gone.

And so it is. Millions -- millions -- of refugees; a million or more dead; many, many wounded; orphans, widows everywhere; the smell of death is the first thing people notice when arriving in Iraq. The whole place stinks of carnage.

And they call this "progress." Of course they do! The fewer Iraqi devils they have to deal with, the less time it will take to consolidate the tribute and the treasure that is the Imperial due.

The same treatment has been applied in Somalia; soon, there will be similar moves in Afghanistan, since once again, the jibbering natives don't appreciate their Liberation sufficiently to be allowed to live.

And make no mistake: this is the policy of the United States of America. You may not agree with it, but you have no effective say in the matter. Your voice will not be heard, even if your voice rises with tens of millions of others, an outcry from the deepest soul of America, it doesn't matter. Your objection is of no consequence.

The Empire is not to be denied.

But, bbut, bbbut elections!!! More and Better Democrats! O-ba-ma!


The naivete of "Progressives" is sometimes striking. After all these years of experience -- how can "Progressives" still believe that "elections" and/or charismatic Leaders will somehow alter the course of Imperial expansion?

Well, they say, we have to give it Time; we didn't get in to this mess quickly; we won't get out of it for many years, decades, generations, centuries. We have to keep at the task of supporting and electing More and Better Democrats and Pushing Our Agenda. Eventually this dreadful phase will be over.

In fact, we did get into this Imperial mess at home and abroad very quickly indeed, and we can get out of it almost as quickly, but there is a narrative in Progressive Blogistan that overrides everything else. It is a narrative in which losses are "wins" -- because every loss is a Learning Experience; there was no Knowledge before Progressives began to become active in politics. It is a narrative in which the metaphor of the Task We Face is "turning the ship of state" -- which obviously cannot be done quickly; it must be done in "inches" and "baby steps," ever so slowly, ever so cautiously, and it will take many, many, many years. It is a narrative in which people who are not satisfied with the pace of positive change are called "childish" for wanting everything NOW, and not "understanding" -- like adults do -- that it takes time to accomplish objectives, and there hasn't been nearly enough time for all the things we ALL want to have a chance of coming true; it is a narrative which proposes that we are up against a "Village" of gasbags and chatterati and compromised electeds who gossip and preen for one another, but who we make allowances for and gently mock and ridicule, but it's just a "Village," so there's no real reason to take it all that seriously. What can they do, after all but gossip and preen? And what's the real harm in that?

Our warriors are to be pitied for the abuses they suffer. Our banks are to be -- gently -- reregulated for their own good. The economic catastrophe yawning before us is to be parceled into discreet segments to be dealt with in turn, eventually, but a wholistic approach is to be avoided at all costs. Those who suffer are to be empathized with -- or blamed for their own misfortune -- depending on who they are and what their specific situation is.

The Constitution is to be fiercely defended, though there is no popular constituency for it.

And above all, the narrative elevates the Argument to the pinnacle of endeavor. The Argument, the Rational Examination of Opposing Views, can -- and must -- go on forever, passionately but rationally, an endless scrutiny, with never a decision or action beyond it.

While we're arguing, the Brutes continue to be exterminated.

The Perfect shall never again be the enemy of the Good.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

GRITtv: Naomi Klein explains it all for you. Again.

We're experiencing another domestic episode of Klein's "Shock Doctrine" right now as Americans adjust to dramatically higher gasoline prices and our ruling classes agitate for "opening" all the protected areas to immediate petroleum drilling operations. Congress makes a pathetic attempt to say, "Wait a minute, uhhh..." and get steamrolled.

Of course, "drilling" in these protected areas is not at all what the oil companies and the ruling class are after; what they want -- plain as day -- is control of the resources in these protected areas. Thus, they are able to drive prices -- and profits -- higher by controlling market product. This is a replay of the Enron-led fraud that drove California and western states' energy prices through the roof in 2000-2001. There was no "shortage" of energy; there was, however, market control and manipulation to push prices higher and ever higher, and what amounted to a protection racket run by the electricity giants: pay up or go dark. Worked like a charm. Enron had used the tactic all over the world, before its eventual collapse, and that tactic has been the governing premise of the Bushevik regime from the get go.

We've become so used to it, however, that now, when yet another episode "shock" is under way, very few recognize what's going on, that we've been down this path before, and that we can (theoretically) stop it.

Jeff Madrick and Bhairavi Desai join the discussion.

Some observers are asking: since the tactics of the Shock Doctrine work so well (and they do) why don't We, the People turn them right back on the Neo-Cons and Friedmanites and give them a little of their own medicine?

Since we are conditioned to be passive consumers rather than citizens, and maintaining our passivity is crucial to the success of the ruling classes, actually performing the turn about is well beyond the public's capability right now. But if the signs of economic collapse we see around us make it impossible for the masses to fulfill their social role, by making it impossible for them to consume, we may just have the trigger that will spark the revolt against neo-con, neo-liberal, and Friedmanite control.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Did Obama go after the Blogosphere tonight?

And is this turning into a coordinated attack -- because of the FISA OUTRAGE!!!®?

I was listening to the NewsHour interview with Barack Obama this afternoon, and Gwen asked him about the negative reaction among some of his supporters to his advocacy of faith-based initiatives and programs, and he said something I thought was very curious (as I recall it, but I'll check the transcript when it's up):

Raised hackles among some of the blogosphere?

Jim Webb has dissed bloggers, and Harold Ford has suggested that "liberal groups" (and MoveOn) aren't representative of the American People.

So far it is only here and there, a smattering of semi-denunciation of these wild-eyed left-wing bloggers, but is it a sign of things to come?

If the reaction of some Obama supporters to the New Yorker cover is any guide, we may well be surprised at how strenuous the "coordination" of Belief® is in the Obama administration, and how rigorous the line to toe.

I also noted with interest that there was no mention of FISA "reform" at all in the NewsHour interview, even though the topic at the end was his numerous apparent filip-filops.

Since that's the biggie that the Blogosphere is really pissed off about, the failure to mention it at all is an even harsher dig at the blogs.

Stay tuned....

GRITtv Explains it All For You. Again.

Media Roundtable, with Hendrik Hertzberg, Logan Nakyanzi Pollard, and Danny Schechter, including one of the more intelligent discussions of the New Yorker Cover Flap, and plenty of news about the good, the bad, and the ugly of the last week's media crap.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

OMG! Look what they've gone and done now:

I love the New Yorker, have since I was little and was stunned by those Addams Family Cartoons. In fact, before I could really read, I was captivated by all those amazingly drole cartoons that appeared throughout the magazine, and I'd save copies just for the cartoons.

I mean who wouldn't love something like the Addams Family pouring boiling oil on a group of carolers at their door?

It wasn't until I was almost out of high school before I could actually read the articles and make sense of them, and then I was startled at how good the writing was, what high calibre of wit and insight and what an abundance of information the New Yorker provided, and they did it every GD week. It was and is amazing.

So now they've gone and done this cover, provoked a full on internet hysteria episode, and have ruined, absolutely ruined their reputation among the Obamamaniacs. Ruined, I say! Cancel my subscription! NOW!

Somehow, I'm sure the New Yorker will take it in stride, and soon enough, all those who are overreacting will come to their senses and desist.

Sometimes it takes a whack upside the head from people who really know how to deliver, to defuse what a nastier than ever campaign. The hint to the Obamas here is that maybe, just maybe, mockery and derision is the appropriate response to the smears they've had to endure. Ya think? Hm.


There are some post-mortems going on of the FISA debacle, still a very stinging loss for the Netroots and one that could well prove to be "the" end point of the Republic.

Like other losses (cf: Lamont, Ned), this one is being characterized by many as a "victory," because it continued the learning curve of Netroots-movement activists, who are always delighted to do Lessons Learned exercises and to crow their progress in the face of the Implacable Foe. Losses? Feh. Struggle on! We may lose all the battles, but at least the battles were engaged and we've been noticed!!!, so eventually, somewhere down the road, we'll win the war! Yay!

Uhhh.... Well, maybe. I'm certainly not going to encourage anyone to give up the struggle, and every little bit helps, but what galls is the notion that losses are actually victories. They are not.

Joe Lieberman is still in the Senate, still wreaking havoc, and still parading around with his new BFF, Senator "Scarlett" McCain. The Lamont campaign was no "victory." No matter how it is spun.

The FISA campaign was another kettle of fish. There seemed to be two entirely separate tracks -- that of Congress and the Regime, and that of the Netroots; trains on those tracks bumped one another from time to time, but they never really collided, and the Congressional train to FISA "reform" was never stopped nor even in jeopardy of being stopped.

The Congressional/Regime Train could be characterised as a plush Pullman Palace Car affair, not necessarily moving at any great speed, though there were moments of acceleration, mostly just grandly chugging along, waiters and porters and such taking care of the passengers, crystal and silver shining, Power exuding.

The Netroots, by contrast, were on a handcar, bravely pumping away, constantly having to stop to catch their breath before the next burst of furious pumping to try to catch up. Which they never really did. But now and then the tracks came close enough for the Netroots to hurl a rock or two at the windows of the Palace Car, or even to bump the outside of it with a shoulder.

It was brave. And for that, kudos aplenty.

But the effect of all this bravery was minor at best, and at worst it merely solidified the intractability of the foes inside the Palace Car.

That's what happens all the time, unfortunately. The blogs have become a nuisance to the would-be aristos, but no more than that. A nuisance gets "noticed", yes, but "notice" doesn't necessarily lead to progress.

And it's never really clear that "progress" as such is the goal in any case. Everything seems to start over, from scratch, every time the Netroots goes up against the Powers That Be -- Congress, generally speaking, but occasionally corporate and media interests as well. Every action is declared a "win" even when nothing much is accomplished. And most aspects of the consolidation of power in the elites is simply dismissed in the frenzy of the current struggle.

That consolidation of power really hasn't been affected at all over the years of Netroots agitation. Instead, as the Bushevik regime winds down, their consolidation of power into an Autocracy, seems to pick up speed.

One thing to keep in mind is that the Netroots-movement is not a popular movement at all; it is an elite movement, encompassing an interest group that is largely libertarian (not necessarily "liberal"), mostly informed by lawyers, for whom the argument is the main thing, not "winning" or "losing."

As long as the argument advances, "victory" can be -- and is -- declared.

Meanwhile, in the Real World...

Marcy Wheeler has an interesting insight with regard to the FISA debacle, however:

But what we didn't do, I think, was account for the fact that a significant chunk of legislators believe they are in the business of crafting compromises, no matter how outrageous one side of the debate is. That is, while we were successful in working with key legislators (Dodd and Feingold above all) to argue that the issues at stake--and the Constitution--had to be beyond compromise, that didn't stop a solid chunk of Democrats from seeking compromise anyway.

Indeed. I'd go farther. It wasn't just compromise on this bill. The interests of legislators was much broader than that. This bill was almost a sideshow to them. What they were after was compromise that began to restore relevance to the Congress after years of being treated like the ultimate red-headed stepchild. And by their own lights, they did a superb job.

There were minor adjustments in this bill to satisfy Congressional (not necessarily public) interests, but the bigger compromise was on the War Supplemental, where Bush caved in completely on the GI Bill, VA funding, NOLA levee repairs and unemployment compensation. That's where Congress reasserted itself and won, at least to their way of looking at things, and that's why they were all puffed up with Glory over the FISA "compromise." All of this has to do with restoring Congress's prerogatives, and to some extent their constitutional role. That's the important compromise to them.

The Netroots doesn't even recognize it. The obsessive focus on the FISA measure meant that the other moving parts of this creaking -- and largely failing -- machine were ignored, are still being ignored, and what's actually happening in the broader context is practically unknown.

The FISA fight was important to Congress, but not for the reasons the Netroots may think. This was a fight over prerogatives, not over substance. Those prerogatives had been given up or taken away over many years; Congress is trying to get them back, and with them, they're trying to get back some of their lost dignity. 9%! Come on.

The Netroots doesn't recognize that.

Marcy talks a lot about wanting to influence legislation, and it's vital to understand how to do that. One of the first requirements is to understand what the real interests of the Legislators are. In the case of Congress, those real interests include preserving and restoring traditional prerogatives and forging legislation that takes into account a variety of considerations and interests, "compromise" legislation in other words.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Got a Revolution!

The Revolution has been going on since Reagan's advent; it's been consolidated and perfected under the Bushevik regime, to the point where, now, with the triumphant passage of the FISA "reform" measure, the Reagan --->Bushevik Revolution is all but complete.

There is no Republic any more, and there will be no return to what Our Founders had in mind. That experiment is over.

There cannot be a "Revolution" from this point on, at least not for a generation or more; now there can only be accommodation, assimilation, or civil war. But if there is a civil war, it will come from the darker regions of the right, not from the left, for the left has been wholly neutered. The very idea of physical struggle disturbs Modern Progressives; if it can't be argued rationally, without physical action or struggle, it is not a valid premise, it is not worthy of Serious Consideration, it is not real.

With no rising from the Left (such as remains of a Left in this country) and the only likely physical struggle against assimilation into the Imperium coming from the right, we are in for some interesting times indeed.

[Note: For those who don't click through the YouTube video above, it's a performance by Marty Balin and Slick Aguilar in April of 2008 at the Turning Point Cafe in Piermont, NY. For those who aren't old enough to remember, Marty Balin was a member of Jefferson Airplane, a seminal counterculture band of the '60's. When there was a... Revolution. "Volunteers of America" was one of the anthems of that... Revolution. And Marty's still out there performing it. Heh.]

Thursday, July 10, 2008

What's Really Going On

Bewildering, innit?

A Congress that is utterly immune to persuasion by DFH's like us, but ever yielding to the Powers and to the Interests and to the Busheviks. A presidency that has been successfully and almost completely transformed into a Sovereign Autocracy, accountable to no one, not even to the Divine. Courts that persnicket on minutae, when they bother with anything. Or order vast upsets in procedures, orders that are then subverted or ignored. And -- of course -- appoint their favorites to office.

Worst of all, we have two candidates for the (Imperial) Presidency who seem to be vague at best when not openly hostile to the whole idea of a self-governing constitutional republic such as the one Americans used to take some pride in.

Our Constitution has become an option; a rough guide you might say. Law is for the Little People, and even then only selectively, based primarily on race and gender. Government continues consolidating its independence from The People, offering whatever blandishments are necessary during Election Season, then promptly ignoring them when push and shove meet.

So what's really going on? Why can't we get through to these people we put in office. Why do so many Dems turn into Blue Dogs once elected? Why are the Republicans able to control the Congress almost effortlessly under putative Democratic leadership? And why is a gravely unstable president given everything he wants and then some by a supposed opposition party?

What the hell is really going on?

Part of the answer may be found in a BBC series by Adam Curtis called "The Century of the Self" which ran a while back (2002). The proposition is that our Sham Democracy is actually a "managed democracy" in which mass psychology is used (and abused) by political, economic and social interests, using theories and techniques pioneered during WWI and afterwards by Sigmund Freud, his nephew Edward Bernays, and others, to create and maintain a society of consumers rather than citizens and to prevent -- so far as possible -- the outbreak of nationalist/populist risings in the English-speaking countries and the world (to the extent the "world" is recognized by English-speaking countries.)

Here's the first episode of four:

Links to further episodes:

Part II

Part III

Part IV

While I think some of it is superficial and even silly, there are some fundamental truths in Curtis's hypothesis that we overlook at our peril.

  • The Western Elites were horrified by the carnage of WWI and they were terrified by the overthrow of Tsarist Russia and the advent of the Soviet Union -- an advent which led to seventy years of "Communist Threat" to their pelth and status.

  • An "answer" to this threat was found in the psychological theories of Sigmund Freud and the marketing theories of Edward Bernays. Instead of "citizens" the Western ideal would be to turn the masses into "consumers" and to direct and control their darker impulses and desires, as well as their "democracies", through marketing.

  • The Fascists and Nazis took this basic premise way over the edge, controlling the masses almost completely through brutality, through promises of a brighter and greater future, fulfilling demands for order, for honor (patriotism), for consumer items, and by scapegoating specific minorities for all the troubles the masses had had to endure. The Fascists and Nazis used the same ideas of the Western Elites, but used them to further populist and nationalist interests. This was a threat to English-speaking countries, and there was a second phase of the War to End All Wars as a consequence. The Fascists and Nazis were crushed or absorbed; the Communists, however, made massive headway.

  • As a result, the West turned to "directed democracy" and spreading consumerism throughout the world as a means to co-opt the desires of the masses for control of their own futures and a better life, which they often believed were more likely through Communism than through the agency of Capitalist Democracy.

  • Even though the Soviet Union has been vanquished and the "Red" Chinese have become perhaps the greatest capitalists in the world, our elites still operate on the theories of Freud and Bernays, on the principles of consumerism as opposed to citizenship, and on the premise that "directed democracy" is best.

  • This is a major reason why We, the People are not able to get through to our elected elites, and why, in some measure, they have withdrawn behind the Palace Gates to twitter among themselves about how our future should be managed. It's one reason why Obama has seemed to do such a turn about since securing enough Democratic delegates to be nominated. It's one reason why electing more Democrats means electing more Blue Dogs, not "progressives", whether you think you're electing Blue Dogs or not.

    We can do a long dissertation on why Progressivism has been marginalized, and why Progressives are ignored (except for their financial contributions to candidates), but the key is to understand what our elected officials themselves think they are doing, and why they think it is best to do that.

    This series, "The Century of the Self", helps that understanding in ways that our ruling classes may not even comprehend themselves.

    Wednesday, July 9, 2008

    Brazil! Brazil! Brazil!

    The Imperial Surveillance State only lacks the requisite festival in the Rose Garden to be complete.

    Our Congress has abrogated its authority, the Imperial Executive has declared the Constitution "optional," and the Courts look on with frequent bemused indifference.

    The People, for their part, are still largely oblivious, noticing little has changed in their daily lives except for the obnoxious intrusions of "security procedures" at airports and train stations. Well, of course, one yields. It would be rude to do otherwise.

    The Busheviks have nearly consolidated their neo-con replacement for the Republic our Flag once proudly flew over and to which we pledged our allegiance. "We are an Empire now..."

    And now our allegiance had better be to the King/Emperor, whomever he or she is, or... else?

    Well, that remains to be seen, doesn't it?

    Best to have a plan, though...

    Friday, July 4, 2008


    A collateral relative lives in the formerly rural Maryland Manor House seen above. He is a direct descendant of a Signer of the Declaration of Independence who went on to serve in the United States Senate after the Constitution was enacted. The house was built by the Signer, beginning around 1760 and continuing with various additions and adjustments until about 1820. It sits on 100 acres or so, all that is left of the formerly vast plantation acreage that once surrounded it. You can see DC/Baltimore suburban development encroaching.

    This house is the only Revolutionary era residence still in the hands of descendants of the Revolutionaries who built it. And the current descendant bars public access entirely, not simply barring access to the house, but even to the edges of the property itself, having closed off the formerly public road that passes well beyond the house. In fact, the house is invisible from the road. That the public can no longer traverse. He not only bars the public, he bars other family descendants!

    Yet he has the nerve to demand millions of dollars from the county and from the State of Maryland to preserve the house and its grounds, or else, he says, he'll sell it for what he can get and tell Maryland and the county to go hang. Well. All I can say is that he is true to the spitfire character of his ancestors, and to their tendency to withdraw into hermitage as they enter their dottage.

    In fact, his behavior is so much like my own father's as he got up in years, I have to laugh.

    My ancestors were the only Catholics who served in the Congresses that declared independence and created the Constitution. I like to think they had something to do with the urge to Revolution (they being dispossessed Irish Catholic aristocracy and all) and with the Bill of Rights, and I've read some indications that that's the case, in that their money funded the Revolutionary armies, their sense of outraged honor informed the Declaration, the religious persecution they endured led to their strong belief in freedom of religion and religious conscience, something almost unheard of, even among persecuted Catholics, back in the day.

    You can see the chapel attached on the right to the manor house above. It was for many years the parish church for the area, when the manor was in more accommodating hands. But it was built as part of the manor when Catholic churches were illegal and celebrating Mass, even in private, was forbidden.

    It was built in defiance, in other words, of British restrictions on Catholic observance. A crypto-Revolutionary act well before the outbreak of hostilities between the Colonies and the Crown.

    There would be many others and there would be more after Independence. The stories I heard when I was young about the conflicts and feuds between my ancestors and Thomas Jefferson -- disputes that went on for decades -- were certainly illuminating. And of course the genetic contrariness in my make up is often apparent in my own life.

    I know where it comes from.

    But every Fourth of July, I do think about the world my ancestors came from and the world they sought to create through the vehicle of the United States of America. It was to be, and it largely is, something better than the world they came from but only partially left behind.

    As grotesquely as it has been perverted by the characters infesting the White House and its offshoots throughout the government, the idea of America, and the ideals of the Founders still resonate among the People and around the world. The Founders started us on a path that had many pitfalls, and from which we have too often veered. We may not be able to revive the Republic the Founders left us, but perhaps, just maybe, we can create a New Republic based on their model.

    Right now we're stuck with Empire and all its many enervations and disasters. Americans do not do Empire well. The Republic is gone. Finding the right way forward will take time, dedication, and clear vision, something we may be blessed with eventually, but not something we can command into being.

    It's a desultory Fourth all in all. I wish it weren't.

    Hail! The Fourth of July, 2008

    (Note: Tomorrow is my father's 107th birthday. And his father was born in 1869, and his father was born in 1833. Another generation back takes us to 1799, and the one before that takes us to the Revolution and what led up to it. I have ancestors who were more than a little involved in the doings of the day that led to the Revolution and who followed through to the establishment of the Constitutional republic we now find so nearly extinguished. I greet today's Independence Day with a heavy heart...)

    Several things re: Obama and such

    We're well into the full transition from Republic to Empire. The presidency has become a competitive monarchy (you could say "elective" but that would be something of a stretch, as elections really aren't what they appear to be) that the Bush crew has transformed into an autocracy. Neither of the major party candidates has any particular interest in changing those conditions. No, they would much rather use and expand those conditions to make further changes to consolidate the changes that have already been made.

    There is no going back with either Barack or McCain; both see a future of Imperial Greatness. Going along with it is a fundamental of national political success. You cannot question it and become president. It's that simple.

    Until recently, I thought Obama was doing what he thought he had to do to win the throne. Now I'm not so sure. His endless tacking to the right is not advisable -- and certainly not necessary -- if he truly wants to win in November. He's been moving closer and closer to McCain's positions, almost as if he is trying to take over those positions, and run as the Republican candidate. To say this is dissonant is to be charitable.

    No, this is something else again. In the primaries, he ran to the right of Clinton on a number of issues, and he barely won enough delegates (pledged and super) to secure the nomination. Now he's moving way to the right, into nearly Republican territory, and he's apparently quite consciously and deliberately alienating the base that got him to where he is today. He apparently believes he does not need the support of his activist base any more.

    And maybe he doesn't -- if he doesn't intend to win.

    And that's what I have a deep suspicion is going on: he doesn't intend to win. Perhaps he never did, or perhaps something "changed" when he secured enough delegates to get the nomination. But his actions and behavior since then have been distinctly peculiar and widely and rightly (in my view) questioned and sometimes condemned. The spin and the excuses coming out of the Obama camp have been largely transparent.

    We've all known candidates who stayed true to their principles in hard-fought campaigns and lost, or as the case may be, won. They made clear what they stood for and what they intended to do once they were in office. If they lost, they lost well; if they won, they did -- insofar as they could -- what they said they would. Candidates like this are found in all parties, and while we may not agree with them in every case, they tend to get our respect, for they at least are honest, even if they may be wrong. It is simply not true that all politicians are craven deceivers.

    Well. We've got a situation with Obama where he seemed to somewhat less craven and deceptive that Clinton, and he certainly spoke in soaring and heartfelt terms about hope and possibility. He was able to put together one of the most successful internet and ground campaigns in the history of Democratic politics, and he demonstrated that the Clinton "machine" was getting creaky and running out of gas.

    And now we see a candidate who has all but turned his back on the very elements that got him the presumptive nomination. Quite a transformation.

    And now we see, too, the glimmerings of a movement to take the nomination from him for his acts of betrayal. Surely he understands it could happen. The nomination is not decided until the convention. Is it what he wants to happen? Some of his actions really make me wonder.

    More than anything, though, it should be obvious by now that whoever sits on the Throne intends to rule, not simply reign, and the quaint notions of a self governing constitutional republic set forth by the Founders are out of step with contemporary reality.

    We're not at the edge of a cliff; we went over it a long time ago, and we are nearly at the bottom, almost completely reverted to pre-Revolutionary notions of governance by fiat and decree, with periodic "advice" from representatives of the People, advice to be followed or ignored as the spirit moves the King.

    Steve Schmidt

    There are certain people in any political campaign who set the overall standard for the course of that campaign. Sometimes it's the candidate, but typically it is the leading campaign consultant, and the McCain campaign has just promoted Steve Schmidt to that position (he's been with the McCain campaign for quite a while, but has not been in charge.)

    And who is Steve Schmidt? This is from Newsweek's campaign blog by Andrew Romano:

    So what should we expect from Schmidt? A bald, barrel-chested "partisan pugilist" who labored under Karl Rove on Bush's 2004 bid--he also ran Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's reelection campaign--McCain's new guru "speaks in pre-fabricated, consumable, sharp morsels," according to Marc Ambinder. "McCain has learned from Schmidt that it's OK not to be a referee, that it's OK not to play the judge, that it's OK to draw contrasts with your opponents." In other words, he's learned to be an effective (if more traditional) Republican presidential candidate. Schmidt, 37, lacks his predecessors' deep emotional ties to the boss, so he's more likely to assess (and correct) the candidate's weaknesses with the objective eye of an outsider. That in mind, expect tighter message discipline from McCain--two other Rove vets, Nicole Wallace and Greg Jenkins, have joined McCain's communications team--and crisper, more consistent attacks on Obama, whom the campaign plans to paint as an unprincipled opportunist (in contrast to McCain, who "puts his country first"). Think more "professional." After all, it was Bush's Brain who gave Schmidt his nickname: "Bullet."

    Will it help? Who knows. That said, if McCain is still trailing Obama by six points in the polls at the end of the summer, don't be surprised if he calls on John Weaver to, you know, recapture the magic of 2000.

    Doesn't tell you all that much, but some personal experience might help to understand how this Rovian creep operates.

    Back in 2006, Arnold Schwarzenegger was running for Governor of California against Phil Angelides. Angelides was way in the lead, though he was not well known outside the Sacramento area where he had been a successful real estate developer and served two terms as California State Treasurer. His lead against Schwarzenegger was based on the fact that he was a Democrat (and California has a large Democratic voter majority) and the fact that he had a very well thought out and laid out liberal agenda in opposition to what was then Schwarzenegger's crabbed and bullying "conservative" agenda.

    The White House sent Schmidt and Matt Dowd out from Washington (where they primarily served the Cheney Office) to take care of Angelides and get Schwarzenegger re-elected in a landslide, which they immediately proceeded to do.

    Dowd essentially remade Schwarzenegger's "brand" by turning him into a thoughtful, caring, compassionate quasi-liberal, while Schmidt worked the press masterfully by spreading smears and innuendo and lies about Angelides that many Californians still believe.

    In fact, as soon as Dowd and Schmidt arrived in California, the media in the state adopted a virulently anti-Angelides narrative, all of them simultaneously, and obviously favored Schwarzenegger whom they had largely dismissed after his titanic failure to pass any of his "reform" initiatives in the 2005 election.

    Within days we saw movement in the polls, away from Angelides and toward Schwarzenegger. By summer it was essentially over. Angelides was being crushed -- after starting out with quite a substantial lead -- and Schwarzenegger was very successfully remade from a mean and mean spirited Neanderthal into a Brand New Man.

    Worked like a charm.

    Obviously Schmidt's job on the McCain campaign has focused on media, and it will continue to. We've already seen some signs of what that focus can do: the utter frenzy recently unleashed by the media in response to Wes Clark suggesting on Face the Nation that being shot down over Vietnam and being held prisoner by the North Vietnamese was not in and of itself a qualification to be president.

    We're seeing more of it right now: the concerted effort throughout the media to label Obama an opportunist and flip-flopper. We will see much more of it as the summer wears on, with the upshot likely to be a grand smear campaign, relentless and wearing, starting the day after the Democratic nomination.

    Given the fact that Obama himself has given Schmidt et al plenty of ammunition of late, what with his various reversals and position "refinements", it's quite likely that McCain will rise in the polls as a consequence. He could well rise to the point where he is unbeatable. And it could happen very fast.

    It would be nice if those who are advising the Obama campaign had any inkling, but they seem quite oblivious. They should have gotten out in front of what is to come a long time ago. Instead they have been forthrightly telling their candidate to tack to the right on issue after issue (after he already ran a camapaign largely to the right of Hillary and all the other Dems and barely won enough delegates to secure the nomination). At the rate he has been transforming himself into a Republican -- as opposed to just a conservative Democrat -- McCain can market himself as the "liberal".

    It's absurd.

    But there you are.

    Wednesday, July 2, 2008


    He's getting hammered. Hard. By his Base of internet progressives primarily but not exclusively. He's been "moving to the center" -- according to the politcal CW -- and in doing so has been cutting off his most enthusiastic supporters who now say they will not contribute another dime.


    This Moving to the Center is really moving to the right, becoming more and more a neo-con enabler if not a clone. It is what Democrats do, inevitably. They have to Distance Themselves from their Base or they can't be taken Seriously by the Powers That Be, and even then, they can't win for losing.

    When Obama said he'd vote for the FISA "reform" measure whether or not telecom immunity was stripped from the bill, I thought he was just doing more of what he had to in order to prove to the Powers that he was a member of the club just like them and would be reliable in the interests of Empire and Autocracy.

    But then he kept doing things, such as approving Scalia-made SCOTUS decisions, supporting Bush-Dog Democrats, repudiating Wesley Clark's comments regarding McCain, condemning, dissing protestors from days of yore, adopting more right wing rhetoric and cant, and promising to expand the Bushevik "faith-based" initiative, while protecting wealth and privilege. And all the time, these actions and more were being furiously spun by Obamabots as nothing to worry about, just the way things are in Politics, get used to it, no harm no foul, quit whining, etc.

    No. This is simply wrong.

    That's a word that's simply not used enough on our side of the aisle.


    There's a fear that passing judgement on the action of one politician might lead to judgement being applied to all politicians, and who would want that? So Dems, as a rule, never judge another's actions. They may disagree, but to call it "wrong"? No. Too rude by half.

    Yet what Obama has done is WRONG, no matter the spinning of his flacks and toadies, sychophants and fanboys. Even if this is "who he really is and has always been." Many of us know that, knew it all along, yet to see him behave this way, so transparently, is still a shock.

    I understand he's walked back some of his earlier denunciation of Gen. Clark's comments, but if the Rev Wright affair is any guide, Clark will speak out again sometime, and Obama will have to issue a full throated and complete denunciation of Clark (and of course take him off any short list for the VP slot or a cabinet position, which is the whole point of the OUTRAGE~!® against what he said anyway. The Busheviks are askeert of someone like Clark in a Democratic administration.)

    He is to be the Right's Bitch, just like most other Democrats. He seems to be willing enough.

    Which led me to conclude he's actually throwing the game, right before our eyes. He has no intention of winning in November, he'll do whatever it takes to hand the baton to McCain, and he'll go back to the Senate a happy man. No doubt showered with many rewards. There was even a moment when I thought he wasn't even going to get the nomination.

    This is not Politics as Usual. This is Post-Modern Politics, where little or nothing is as it seems, and pols and their consultants and handlers are horsetrading the nation without the consent of -- or even the knowledge of -- the People.

    Many Obama supporters are claiming that their man is making brilliant plays in order to win and overwhelming victory. It's nothing of the kind. It is transparent submission.

    He's given up.

    Well, maybe I'm wrong. It remains to be seen.