Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hep me Jeebus!



Had to go to Portland OR, for a couple of days. Stayed in a hotel. Turned on the cable teevee "news" on Monday morning. OMG...

As I've mentioned before, I don't have cable teevee in my home, so I don't watch the pollution that passes for "news" on FOX and CNN and MSNBC and so forth, and it's therefore real hard for me to get too worked up over Chris Matthews' latest Outrage! to common sensibility, and typically I don't get too swoony over Keith or Jon or Stephen, either.

I used to watch network news, usually NBC and PBS, then just PBS, then not even that; sometimes BBC (which is carried by my local PBS station), Univision, or one of the other alternatives (there's an East Indian news service from time to time, a Manila news half hour, and sometimes others.) But more and more my news comes from the internet (which means most of it originates in the hated Establishment Institutional Media) often filtered through sympatico bloggers and public interest orgs.

Nevertheless, on Monday I was exposed to the most astonishing sight. Those of you who have cable -- everyone, it seems -- wouldn't find it odd, but I sure did. On CNN, which I decided to stick with for a few hours in the morning and a few more in the evening, literally the ONLY story was Jeremiah Wright and how terrible he had been at the National Press Club. How he was destroying the Obama campaign because he wasn't "humble" enough (the term is Uppity). How Obama HAD to now "distance himself," cut Wright off, end any relationship with him and his church or he would feel the wrath... well, he would feel the wrath anyway, his campaign was all but over, this was the death knell, Obama simply could not recover.

Variations on this theme were being repeated over and over and over again by a rotating (but oddly limited) team of talking heads, on every single program on CNN, throughout the day. There was no other "news" at all. It was all Wright, all the time. Everyone had to weigh in and opine, they all opined the same way, and then it had to repeat, again and again and again. No more than one tepid defender of Wright and/or Obama was allowed to appear in any segment, and even the Defender had to acknowledge that Wright was out of bounds, over the top, and was Destroying Obama's Campaign.

It reminded me of nothing so much as the media campaign against Howard Dean, the screaming banshee attacks against him from every quarter that commenced after he dared to suggest breaking up the media conglomerates on Hardball, and took on relentless destructive power with the advent of the "Dean Scream" after the Iowa caucuses.

It occurred to me that Wright was being "scrutinized" -- ie: destroyed by the media -- for the the same reason: he had criticized them outside the bounds of permitted criticism, and he had threatened their hegemony over popular thought and discourse by satirizing and mocking them to their faces at the NPC. We recall Stephen Colbert was shunned and denounced after his White House Correspondents Dinner appearance, too, don't we?

Apparently Wright's appearance threw the entire Washington Palace Media into a tizzy that they have not recovered from to this day, and they will not, cannot, until Wright is neutered and/or in his grave.

And Obama must pay. Dearly. Which he is doing right now, having been forced to cut off Wright, denounce him, renounce him, over and over and over again. That's the price you pay, you see, when you cross the Mighty Palace Media. Which Obama has done. You see. (He too being perceived as Uppity and all.)

It's interesting to see the reaction to all this over at dKos, one of the more hot-headed of the Obamamania sites, where it seems that the idea is just to make all this... controversy... go away by mentioning it almost in whispers. Fewer attacks on Hillary, fewer attacks on the Media, less polling data. Building up Obama goes on, to be sure, but it's somewhat lackluster, almost apologetic. If Obama goes down "in flames" as they say because of this, Markos especially, but quite a few others as well, will be in a fine pickle.

Digby, I think, has exactly the right take on what's been going on, and I characterize that take as having little or nothing to do with either Obama or Wright, but almost everything to do with the Media itself. Chris Floyd and Arthur Silber mount honest defenses of Wright and they wind up condemning Obama for... condemning Wright.

But it's not about Obama and it's not about Wright. It's about the Media and the power that the corrupt and decadent Palace Media wields against the public and the public interest to provide or withhold information and to crystalize and shape public opinion. We're witness -- yet again -- to the Media going on a rampage of denunciation and character assassination.

And as always, only a handful of relatively weak voices are raised to tell them to shove it. As always, most Dems, so-called Liberals, and much of the internet "progressive" community falls into line, sometimes pushing one another out of the way to denounce whatever the chosen target is -- in this case, Rev Wright -- and to nod their agreeance with Media's general idea of denunciations (aka "lynching"), as long as they get some reward or attention in the process.

The same pattern is followed in the Congress. Dems cave to Rs all the time. It's the same crap.

But we see in the case of the destruction of Rev Wright, it's not just the Spineless Dems who go along. It's almost the whole Liberal/Progressive (so-called) infrastructure.

Read Arthur Silber's take. Then read Joan Walsh's -- her's being an extensive recapitulation of the Standard Media Narrative, which she apparently wholeheartedly agrees with.

Which one do you agree with?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Stop! You're torturing me!

In addition to the outstanding series of anti-torture posts at Digby's Hulaballoo, Chris Floyd's Empire Burlesque, and Scott Horton's No Comment at Harper's, I'd like to acknowledge ondelette's efforts at Humanity Against Crimes.

This topic, of course, is no fun for most people, and those who find joy in it really need to get some help. Ondelette has been trying to put some historical as well as moral focus on the topic of torture in western society, and the research alone is a disheartening and often appalling trek through some of the worst aspects of human existence.

As he points out, we (as in The West) have been down this road before; it has led to destruction and disaster more than once. If we want to retrieve our humanity one of the primary goals must be to end torture permanently, and I would add, to "re-educate" those who believe Torture Works.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Wright speak, you listen

The Moyers interview with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright is now online for those who wish to see what the Traitorous Negro America-Hater has to say for himself.

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04252008/watch.html

But extended excerpts from his sermons have been posted to the internets for some time now, and while I'm no great "believer" in any religious dogma, and I'm an agnostic on Barack, I find Rev. Wright one of the most engaging and aware and inspirational pastors in the last 20 years.





The character assassination that has been done on him and the nearly total absence of push back until now -- even from Obama -- is a deplorable reflection on the state of American social and religious thought and practice. It doesn't matter whether Teh Media is rotten to the core with decadence and corruption. What matters is that men like Wright not be turned into monsters without a price to pay, and an enormous amount of citizen outrage and renunciation of those who are turning him into a monster.

That's what's been missing. I don't know what it will take for ordinary people, bloggers, religious institutions, media institutions and the so-called "left" in America to defend Wright and people like him, but the current ambivalence toward him and his message is disgraceful.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Against the Tide

Fmr Sen Lincoln Chafee's exposé of complicity with the Bush Regime is making the rounds, and over the last few days there's been quite a bit of publicity (in some circles, though not so much in the Tabloidized Institutional Media) for an excerpt describing a meeting between Darth Cheney and Congressional Republicans on the day after the Supreme Court ordered the Presidency delivered to Bush/Cheney. This is from the NPR Fresh Air posting yesterday:

Early in December 2000, Senator Specter asked Richard Cheney, our Republican vice presidential candidate, to have lunch with us on Wednesday, December 13. The vote-counting fiasco in Florida was under way and no one knew whether Texas Governor George W. Bush or Vice President Al Gore had been elected the nation's 43rd president. Then, the night before we were to meet with Mr. Cheney, the news broke: the U.S. Supreme Court had declared the Florida recount unconstitutional. The Court authorized Katharine Harris, Florida's Republican secretary of state, to declare Bush and Cheney victorious.


As a side note, just yesterday, Antonin (Nino) Scalia was quoted by 60 Minutes with regard to that debacle, "Get over it!" Ah, how some things never change.

We Republicans had won the presidency by a single vote in the Electoral College and a single vote in the Supreme Court. In the executive branch, winning by a whisker is as good as winning in a landslide, but not so in the Senate. For the first time in a century we had a Senate split down the middle, 50-50, with a Republican vice president available to break a tie in our favor. That whisker-thin margin of victory had real consequences to my way of thinking.

It meant that our small club of five moderate Republican votes would be vital to President-elect Bush if he had any hope of getting his legislative initiatives through.

That was why Vice President-elect Richard Cheney came to our lunch that day: Not to say he needed us, but to tell us that he and George W. Bush were in charge and no one else.


We already know that Cheney is contemptuous of the American People, Democrats of all kinds, and pretty much the rest of the world combined, but did we know he was going to be so contemptuous of Congressional Republicans as well?

In steady, quiet tones, the Vice President-elect laid out a shockingly divisive political agenda for the new Bush administration, glossing over nearly every pledge the Republican ticket had made to the American voter. President-elect Bush had promised that healing, but now we moderate Republicans were hearing Richard Cheney articulate the real agenda: A clashist approach on every issue, big and small, and any attempt at consensus would be a sign of weakness. We would seek confrontation on every front. He said nothing about education or the environment or health care; it was all about these new issues that were rarely, if ever, touted in the campaign. The new administration would divide Americans into red and blue, and divide nations into those who stand with us or against us. I knew that what the Vice President-elect was saying would rip the closely divided Congress apart. We moderates had often voted with President Clinton on things that powerful Republican constituencies didn't like: an increase in the minimum wage, a patients' bill of rights, and campaign finance reform. Mr. Cheney knew this, but he ticked off the issues at the top of his agenda and did it fearlessly. It made no difference to him that we were potential adversaries; he was going down his to-do list and checking off Confrontation Number 1.


Confrontation Number 1. Nothing but confrontation with this gang.

Senator Arlen Specter spoke first. As the most junior member, I would have my say last, if at all. I could hardly sit still as I waited to hear my respected friend wade into this outrageous manifesto.

And then, in a moment I can only describe as infuriating, Senator Specter took no leadership role in representing the moderate point of view. He acquiesced, and others followed his example.

As each of my colleagues spoke in turn, I waited for one of them to push back. Surely one of them would have the presence of mind to say, Whoa! Time out! What are you talking about, Mister Vice President? You weren't elected to scrap international agreements. You never said to the voters: Elect us and we promise to bring back deficit spending and drive the next generation into debt.

But no one resisted. We sat there and listened as Mr. Cheney made divisive pronouncements of policy that would come as a complete surprise to many of the Americans who had voted to elect the Bush/Cheney ticket. I stopped waiting for someone to challenge Mr. Cheney when I saw my Republican friends around the table nodding in agreement as he held forth.


No one resisted? Hm.

I was at a loss to explain my colleagues' compliant behavior then. I remain so now. It may have been an all-too-human response to the circumstances of the time. Anxious weeks of uncertainty were finally over. Now we knew the outcome of the election. The bitterness of the Florida recount was behind us. My colleagues seemed happy and relieved just to know who was in charge. And they seemed a little awestruck. This is the Vice President of the United States.

The contentious and destructive agenda that Mr. Cheney dropped on us was troubling enough, but what really unnerved me was his attitude. He welcomed conflict. We Republicans had promised America exactly the opposite. In the presidential debates, moderator Jim Lehrer asked Governor Bush to describe the foreign policy he would adopt, if elected. Candidate Bush said he would be humble in foreign affairs; that if we were arrogant, other countries would resent us. Now his running mate was telling us the new administration would make a point of being arrogant and divisive. Mr. Cheney was brazen in his pronouncements. A humble foreign policy? His attitude was anything but humble. He said that the campaign was over and that our actions in office would not be dictated by what had to be said in the campaign. And he pronounced this deception with no emotion or window dressing of any kind. He was fearless, matter of fact, and smug.


"He was fearless, matter of fact, and smug." And if somebody had popped him in the kisser (as they used to say) right then and there, maybe some of the horror we've been living through and been putting others through wouldn't have happened. Hmm?

But nobody did.

I wondered, where does Cheney get the confidence to say these things a few hours after the Court established him as our Vice President-elect? Where did he get the authority to make this radical departure from the President-elect's own campaign rhetoric?

I had supported Governor George W. Bush over Senator John McCain in the 2000 Rhode Island presidential primary. I met the Texas Governor for the first time in 1999, when he came to Rhode Island to raise money. I contributed and sincerely applauded his remarks to supporters at the Providence Convention Center. He had good campaign patter, and I was impressed. He said all the right things. I thought he could win on his pledge to bring a new, unifying atmosphere to Washington, and that he might even be as good and decent a president as his father had been. He seemed moderate enough to win support from all sides, and he had the Bush name. After the bitter partisan atmosphere of the Clinton impeachment, voters looked back with affection at the governor's father.


"Looked back with affection..." on GHWBush? Sure, right, whatever you say.

I liked that the governor had worked cooperatively with Democrats in the Texas Legislature. If leaders in both parties could rally around him, he was just what the country needed. America stood at the summit of power, emerging from the Cold War as an economic, cultural and military force without equal. We had wasted valuable years in partisan bickering, but our moment in history was still at hand. What a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to do good things in the world.

Then came that devastating first day after George W. Bush and Richard Cheney prevailed in the Supreme Court. If we were to believe Mr. Cheney, the President-elect would not only reignite the partisanship of the Clinton-Gingrich era but would make it even more toxic. Mr. Cheney tore our best campaign promises to shreds and the moderates acquiesced instead of pelting him with outrage. It was clear to me then that there would be no key bloc of moderate votes helping to shape legislation and reunite America over the next four years. In any event, Cheney was not asking for support – he was ordering us to provide it. The President-elect had his agenda; we were just along for the ride.

My heart sank as my colleagues peeled away, one by one. It was the most demoralizing moment of my seven-year tenure in the Senate.


Yahbut, where was the love for Poppy?

When it was my turn to speak, I made the case that our five votes would be crucially important in a 50-50 Senate. I chose my words carefully, and probably stammered with the effort to contain my fury. We were on the cusp of a new millennium that held enormous promise for American leadership in the world, and what I had just heard was petty, arrogant and irresponsible. It threatened to lead in exactly the wrong direction.

I spoke in the perhaps too-optimistic hope that I might yet rally the moderates to seriously apprehend the implications of the new agenda. When I told Mr. Cheney, "Our votes at this table are important," he could hardly be bothered. He gave me the back of his hand with a truism: "Every vote is important."

There was no support to be had, and lunch was over.


So Linc, what did you do? Cave? And did this universal Republican acquiescence to The Leader -- clearly it was Cheney -- serve as the Model for the Democratic cave?

Seems so to me.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Hillary!



Yeah. Well.

If she's the Dem nominee, Scarlett McCain wins out of Democratic spite.

If Obama is the nominee, Scarlett probably wins out of Democratic spite, laziness and Good Old American racism.

More and more, the partisans of each of the Democratic candidates are withdrawing from the election if the other candidate gets the nomination. Or they'll vote for Scarlett McCain, just to show you!

More and more, the Obama partisans (not so much Obama himself, but that's another issue) are intent on purging the Democratic Party of any and all "Billary Taint," in a relentless campaign of insult, condemnation, and hatred directed not only at The Clintons, but at everyone who "still" supports their losing campaign.

This is not how you win a general election. Given the inbuilt impediments to a Democratic victory (with special attention to the wide spread of unverifiable and easily hackable electronic voting machines), this is a nearly perfect recipe for a rout in November, a potentially historic rout.

This is not the time to purge the Party for purity.

Not. The. Time.

Around half the Democratic electorate supports Hillary's candidacy. There is no way on earth that Obama can win the general election without overwhelming support from Hillary's people. Right now, 28% of them are "going to vote for McCain" if Barack is the nominee. Or they'll just sit it out. Fuck you. Fuck you all. And all the insults and hatred directed at Hillary and her supporters are not helping to heal the rift.

The Rs are salivating.

All their candidate Katie Scarlett McCain has to do is stay sane (ha!) and he'll waltz to the White House.

Democrats: incapable of learning even the simplest basics of electoral politics.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Torture? What torture?

Digby, dday, and tristero over at Hullabaloo have been doing yeoman work flogging (er...) the torture issue with some of the most compelling and definitive posts anywhere.

Chris Floyd over at his Empire Burlesque likewise.

Scott Horton all but burned himself out on it over at Harpers.

And still most of our leading media outlets cannot bring themselves to call what our government does to its captives "torture," except by indirection or reference to what "some people say."

Most Americans, apparently, don't much care what happens to the captives in any case, any more than most good upstanding Americans cared what happened to captive Native Peoples or slaves when time was.

Captives, almost by definition, aren't really human, are they? So what happens to them, whether it works to stop the ticking time bomb or not, is of no particular consequence. As long as we don't see it or hear it, let our government or its contractors torture away.

Because our Congress won't hold the Bushevik regime to account through Constitutional means, those who are working against torture have to employ other mechanisms such as defunding the mercenaries and contractors, some of whom have been implementing the torture regime so as to provide some means of plausible deniability to the government. But even that is a long shot.

Until and unless the torture regime is stopped, however, and those responsible held to the strictest account, our nation's moral standing will be no higher than the dirt on which we walk.

Was there ever an empire so determined to self-immolate?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

On Storming the Winter Palace, pt 2



Just for the sake of argument, let's say that Cheney holes up in his bunker at the Naval Observatory and ShitBoy and Pickles hole up at the White House cum Winter Palace and -- following recent examples in Kenya or Zimbabwe -- refuse to acknowledge the election results this November (assuming Scarlett McCain is squashed like a bug as the Warrior Princess should be) and declare their Necessity to the Nation. Or, even more interesting, let's say that "events" -- of whatever kind, there are so many possibilities -- interfere with the conduct of an election, and there isn't one this November, but the masses become restless out of economic or other distress. Whatever the case, the usurping Cheney regime makes clear its intent to hold on to the government it seized in 2000/2001.

What do you do? Do you storm the Winter Palace?

I think not.

First, note that gaining access to the White House and/or Naval Observatory is no easier for Americans than it was for the Russian Proletariat to gain access to the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoe Selo where the Romanovs actually were. Notice that in the picture above, which is of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg in 1917, the People were able to assemble right at the front door. There was and is a vast parade ground directly in front of the Winter Palace where both rebels and Romanov cheerleaders had been gathering for generations.

Both the White House and the Naval Observatory are deep in parks surrounded by heavy fencing and heavily armed security. Physically getting to these seats of the Imperium is no easy task, and trying it would result in much bloodletting. Which is one reason why no one except real cranks ever tries it. Any more than the assembled multitudes were able to get directly to the Alexander Palace or the Palace of Versailles.

No, when the Revolution came, in Paris, in St Petersburg, the monarch was either brought to the People from his redoubt (as in the case of Louis XVI) or was shut up in his suburban palace by his own guards (as in the case of Nicholas II). Something similar would have to happen if Americans ever took action against a usurping autocracy.

The miscreants would have to be brought to, say, the Capitol in DC. Or maybe somewhere else. Independence Hall in Philadelphia? Liberty Island? Hm?

And that would have to be done by their own Praetorians. Or on their own volition.

Not very likely, is it? Yet stranger things have happened.

Or let's say Scarlett McCain is given the Presidency through patently fraudulent "election" manipulation -- of which, of course, there is no perfect proof. There never is.

And let's say Scarlett swans to his inauguration on the steps of the Capitol, while hundreds of thousands of proles hurl invective from miles away (the revival of First Amendment Zones). Do they break free of their confinement and storm the Capitol, thus spoiling McCain's Perfect Moment?

Probably not.

What would Americans do under those circumstances?

Grumble? Write furious emails? Watch it on teevee, calling for someone to pass the popcorn?

What?

But the MSM won't cover this!

Submitted without further comment:

McCain: A Question of Temperament

By Michael Leahy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 20, 2008; Page A01


John McCain cupped a fist and began pumping it, up and down, along the side of his body. It was a gesture familiar to a participant in the closed-door meeting of the Senate committee who hoped that it merely signaled, as it sometimes had in the past, McCain's mounting frustration with one of his colleagues.

But when McCain leaned toward Charles E. Grassley and slowly said, "My friend . . ." it seemed clear that ugliness was looming: While the plural "my friends" was usually a warm salutation from McCain, "my friend" was often a prelude to his most caustic attacks. Grassley, an Iowa Republican with a reputation as an unwavering legislator, calmly held his ground. McCain became angrier, his fist pumping even faster.

It was early 1992, and the occasion was an informal gathering of a select committee investigating lingering issues about Vietnam War prisoners and those missing in action, most notably whether any American servicemen were still being held by the Vietnamese. It is unclear precisely what issue set off McCain that day. But at some point, he mocked Grassley to his face and used a profanity to describe him. Grassley stood and, according to two participants at the meeting, told McCain, "I don't have to take this. I think you should apologize."

McCain refused and stood to face Grassley. "There was some shouting and shoving between them, but no punches," recalls a spectator, who said that Nebraska Democrat Bob Kerrey helped break up the altercation.

Grassley said recently that "it was a very long period of time" before he and McCain spoke to each other again, though he declined, through a spokesman, to discuss the specifics of the incident.

Since the beginning of McCain's public life, the many witnesses to his temper have had strikingly different reactions to it. Some depict McCain, now the presumptive Republican nominee for president, as an erratic hothead incapable of staying cool in the face of what he views as either disloyalty to him or irrational opposition to his ideas. Others praise a firebrand who is resolute against the forces of greed and gutlessness.

"Does he get angry? Yes," said Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, a Connecticut independent who supports McCain's presidential bid. "But it's never been enough to blur his judgment. . . . If anything, his passion and occasional bursts of anger have made him more effective."

Former senator Bob Smith, a New Hampshire Republican, expresses worries about McCain: "His temper would place this country at risk in international affairs, and the world perhaps in danger. In my mind, it should disqualify him."

More at the Post


And:

Behind Military Analysts, the Pentagon’s Hidden Hand

A PENTAGON CAMPAIGN Retired officers have been used to shape terrorism coverage from inside the TV and radio networks.

By DAVID BARSTOW
Published: April 20, 2008

In the summer of 2005, the Bush administration confronted a fresh wave of criticism over Guantánamo Bay. The detention center had just been branded “the gulag of our times” by Amnesty International, there were new allegations of abuse from United Nations human rights experts and calls were mounting for its closure.

The administration’s communications experts responded swiftly. Early one Friday morning, they put a group of retired military officers on one of the jets normally used by Vice President Dick Cheney and flew them to Cuba for a carefully orchestrated tour of Guantánamo.

To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as “military analysts” whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world.

Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found.

The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air.

Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks themselves. But collectively, the men on the plane and several dozen other military analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants. The companies include defense heavyweights, but also scores of smaller companies, all part of a vast assemblage of contractors scrambling for hundreds of billions in military business generated by the administration’s war on terror. It is a furious competition, one in which inside information and easy access to senior officials are highly prized.

More at the Times.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Read. Watch

Read Chris Floyd on the topic of The Brilliant Disguise regarding Bush, Obama, and The Boss.

Watch Leila Fadel, McClatchy Bureau Chief in Baghdad, interviewed by Bill Moyers:

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04182008/watch.html

Full plate.

On Storming the Winter Palace



Between 1825 and 1917, there were numerous attempted revolts and uprisings in the shadow of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. The rebels were routinely shot down by the Tsar's guards, or cut to pieces by the Cossacks. The Romanov Autocracy endured through them all, except the February Revolution of 1917, when the Provisional Government, first under Lvov then under Kerensky, abruptly terminated the Autocracy and shut the Romanovs up in the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoe Selo ("Tsar's Village") outside of what was then known as Petrograd.


Came October 25 (or on our calendar, November 8), 1917, there was another revolt, this time by Lenin's and Trotsky's Bolsheviks, and the Winter Palace was once more under seige. Shortly, the Provisionals withdrew; the Soviet Union soon emerged under the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. The rest, as they say, is History.

"Storming the Winter Palace" became an iconic image in the Soviet Union in part due to Sergei Eisenstein's brilliant movie, "Октябрь" or "Ten Days that Shook the World" (1927).

The Winter Palace itself was the center of Russian rebellion for generations before the overthrow of the Romanov dynasty. It was not just the Tsar's in-town residence, it was the seat of the Russian Imperial Court, the government as it were, and the Winter Palace compound, begun by Peter the Great, came to symbolize everything good and everything malign in Tsarist Russia.

There was plenty of both.

By 1917, most of what the Winter Palace symbolized was malign. The Autocracy was rotten, corrupt, decadent and brittle, it was under immense strain due to Russian losses in World War I and privations on the home front, and its overthrow proved surprisingly easy when the time came.

For reasons that few can really understand, the Cheney/Busheviks have set themselves up a little autocracy of their own in our own Petrograd, Washington DC, and they have their own version of the Imperial Court within which their courtiers flit and sing praises.

In fact, our entire government has become the creature of this Autocracy, to the point where it has become a self-perpetuating institution divorced from The People, despite the illusion of periodic elections.

The image of Storming the Winter Palace starts taking on at least symbolic meaning under the circumstances.

Just recall the Romanov Autocracy endured about 300 years -- opposed from within and without for all that time -- and despite being one of the most repressive regimes on earth at the time of its fall, the Autocracy collapsed with barely a push when the revolution finally came.

Will our own Autocracy last as long? Or is it already as brittle and rotten as the Romanovs became?

Those Were The Days



Was getting all nostalgic and reminiscing the other day. Going back over some of the Bartcop and Media Whores Online postings from 2002, then jumping back before that, to the '90's -- over a decade now -- when we first hooked up to the Internets on the dialup (was it $2.95 an hour? Don't remember exactly, but I do recall not leaving the computer connected if I had to go off and do something else. Even so, some of the bills were as high as some people's cell phone bills are now. Oh, and we only had one phone line, so if we were connected to the internet, we couldn't get other calls.)

The Leningrad Cowboys (from Finland) and the Red Army Choir sort of crystallize the absurdity of what once was, and in some ways, their astonishing and magnificent theatricality provides an opportunity to consider just how far we've come, how far down the cliff we've slid. And perhaps, maybe, the Soviet experience of vast pretence and imperial ambition (and horror almost without parallel in world history) brought low, yet with a people bringing the country back (under the resolute but now background leadership of KGB agent Vladimir Putin, the Beloved), maybe the Russians will be an example for us.

Those were the days alright.

Some reading

McCain might not win...

(Cassandra Mode On)

There is a chance McCain won't win the "election" in the fall, but not because he "loses" to Barack or Hillary. No, the likelier course was laid out by Darth Crashcart in his infamous "So?" moment.

Recall, Martha Raddatz, intrepid ABC girl reporter (ah, ABC, you see!) asked Mister "Go Fuck Yourself" Himself what he thought about "2/3rds of the American People" believing the Iraq debacle is not worth fighting. "So?" [Snarl]. "So?You don't care what the American People think?" "No. You cannot let yourself be blown off course by fluctuations in public opinion."

Indeed.

As we know, "elections" represent nothing more than "fluctuations in public opinion." One cannot let oneself be blown off course by such fluctuations, can one? Observe Kenya, observe Zimbabwe. They've had "disputed elections," but the ruling party and its headmen still rule -- even if some power has been ceded to the opposition. "Public opinion" is not allowed to get in the way of the overall "course" the ruling party has set. The Cheney Rule.

Assuming an "election" takes place in this country this November, can we really doubt that the Ruling Party -- Cheney's Shadow Government -- will do everything in its (considerable) power to hold on to reins? If McCain somehow proves unsuitable to that objective, there is no way they will let him become president. Same, of course, with Hillary and Barack, though the situation is somewhat different with them, in that neither of them are due the consideration McCain is. They would simply be swept aside. Liquidated.

McCain would have to be "eased" off the stage.

Has Cheney telegraphed what to expect in November? Does he intend to continue occupying the Cheney Bunkers? Would you be surprised?

Friday, April 18, 2008

War on the Media? Ha!



So ABC hosted a 2 hour "debate" the other night between the Democratic candidates, and all of lefty blogdom is in the highest dudgeon, fulmination, and crankiness because Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos spent most of the first hour hammering away on the candidates with right wing talking points (including at least one fed to Stephie directly by Sean Hannity) rather than discussing "Real Issues."

This Means War!!!!

And so Stephie went around to give interviews yesterday in which he essentially stonewalled the complaints and said "suck it up". Even Obama, out on the hustings, called the 'debate' The Rollout of the Republican Campaign in the Fall. He didn't seem to mind so much. It's a little hard to conduct a War when one of your Generals is colluding with the other side, or at least explaining what's going on.

ABC has received tens or hundreds of thousands of complaints by now: furious emails, blog posts, phone calls and comments on ABC web sites should have brought down the reprobate institution by now. Instead, they laugh, and tell the complainers (if they acknowledge them at all) to pound sand.

Some War.

When your opponent continues to poke sticks in your eye, holding you in a hammer lock and noogie-ing your head, one might want to rethink your objectives and strategy.

On Leadership



versus Style.

I know a lot of folks are disbelieving the polls showing McCain even with or ahead of either Hillary or Obama, but I'll take a step over the edge and suggest that if anything, they understate McCain's election standing right now. If the election were held today, I suspect he would win handily, though for the sake of the children, let alone humanity in general, he absolutely should not.

And if things keep going the way they are going, he's going to win in November, too.

One of the reasons that he is doing as well as he is, despite his numerous handicaps, is the media love affair with their Warrior Princess. And I use that term advisedly. He is as fragile as a glass figurine, as haughty as a débutante, he is explosive if he isn't loved up all the time, and he is as exotic as a hot house flower in his constant "maverickism."

The media treats him as the Incumbent Princess, no less, one who is merely standing for "election" out of some silly sense of public duty, but who already holds the title. Neither Hillary nor Obama can compete on the Princess's territory. Sorry.

Another reason that McCain's pathway to the Palace seems to be getting smoother rather than rougher is that little matter of Leadership.

Now, of course McCain was a naval officer, a pilot (don't get me started) and his father and grandfather were admirals, so a certain, how shall we say, official "bearing" comes naturally to him. (Though if you saw him on The View coyly seated in the middle of those shrieking harpies, and imagined him in a Scarlett O'Hara gown saying "Oh, fiddle-dee-dee!" you'd have a somewhat different idea of his "bearing." But I digress.)

As an officer it is natural for him to take the lead in any number of endeavors, which he has done, and at least in some cases has done so admirably. In the Senate he is well-known and highly regarded for his leadership role. He has brought together coalitions, got them to sign on to measures and processes they might not have if he didn't ask them, he's gotten reforms passed, he's been all over the place, generally leading some faction or other or pressing some idea of what is "best."

He's had this reputation for years and years. People know him, and know him well, as a Leader. Whether his reputation is as deserved as he might like to think is for another discussion. We are talking about perception here.

Neither Barack nor Hillary can match his leadership in the Senate or anywhere else. Both have the potential to be leaders, perhaps outstanding leaders, but so far, neither has demonstrated it in the Senate where they have a platform, and where they could -- if they wanted to -- take a leadership role. Yes, it is actually possible for a Senator who is not in the Leadership to assume a leadership role on issues they believe in. McCain has done it many times. Barack and Hillary haven't.

That was part of John Kerry's problem with the voters. He'd been in the Senate forever, but what had he done? What issues had he led on? What programs, what legislation, what reforms had he set in motion and shepherded through the process of enactment?

Uhhh...

And McCain is perhaps the only Republican candidate who can be guaranteed to peel off a significant number of Democrats in the general election -- at least as things stand now. He's got a whole deck of cards to appeal to disaffected Democrats.

And the way the two Democratic candidates have been playing the primaries, essentially doing their best to alienate the other's constituents and partisans, driving them out of the electorate altogether or over to McCain, is breathtaking in its epic failure mode. This can't be happening. But it is.

Eek.

So. McCain starts off with a remarkable set of advantages, which the Democrats in their eagerness to demonize the other and the other's supporters merely reinforce.

And because McCain has been recognized by the public as a leader in the Senate for years, his "suitability" for the Presidency is already secure in most people's minds. They don't even question it, the way they might with regard to Obama or Clinton.

But Bob Dole had all those advantages, too. And he never made it to the White House, so there is hope yet.

I just wish the two Democratic candidates were better leaders on the issues, or had led at all, in the Senate.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Food!



While American media is obsessed with whatever the latest Democratic political gaffe is, the world is going to hell in a hand basket. There is a Big Problem.

Food.



Not even the disastrous Bush Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan can compete with the global food crisis that is rolling like a thunderstorm across the Developing World.

So far, almost no notice of it has been taken in the American Mass Media. But the blinders can't be kept on forever.

Staple food prices have doubled, tripled, quadrupled in many areas where people have little to get by on at all, and no margin for higher food prices. Asian countries are girding for the worst.

We Americans fret about the cost of filling our gas tanks, and it is a reasonable fret to be sure, but it is, for most Americans at present, a marginal fret. I filled up the other day, for example, as local gas prices are edging closer and closer to $4.00 a gallon, and a full tank cost me $6.00 more than last month, $11.00 more than last year, $26.00 more than when the Busheviks seized the presidency. Well. Annoying increases to be sure, but still marginal.

Yet last year, I noticed food prices at my local market were going up, and around February, the management at the store warned customers to brace for more. By March, pretty much everything cost around 20% more than last year, and some things were 40% or 50% higher. I wasn't so worried about gas prices, but food prices? You bet.

An overall 20% increase in food costs is significant, but we hear little about it. The few press reports that discuss the situation elsewhere refer to a "food shortage," but that's hardly what it is. As has so often been the case in the past, there is plenty of food. The problem is the price, and the price is being driven higher and higher by commodity speculators who see huge profits on the horizon from the rising standards of living in China and India and elsewhere.

Much like the fuel cost increases: there is no real shortage, but there is rampant speculation, and rampant greed.

It is more of the Class War we have been subject to for more than a generation. And as the global situation deteriorates, our petty obsessions will become more and more irrelevant.



If we don't take care of the situation ourselves, someone is gonna do it for us.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

War on the Media! Part the Penultimate!



This is where the Media War gets definitely dicey.

Datelined April 10 and 11, there were two breathless revelations by ABC News which can be summarized as stating: 1) that the top aides to Bush met numerous times to consider and decide what kinds and how much torture was to be applied to "high value" captives; and 2) that Bush knew and approved.

These news reports at ABC were then confirmed by AP. One of the AP writers was none other than Lara Jakes Jordan, who earlier in the week was being dragged across hot coals by Warriors on the Media for writing a puff piece about AG Mukasey for the AP wire.

Of course the ABC items were immediately glommed on to in the anti-Bush blogosphere as PROOF! Bush and all his crew are War Criminals! who should be Impeached! and sent to The Hague! Except that nobody knows how to do that, and Nancy Pelosi has forbidden even the discussion of Impeachment in her House of Representatives, and so nothing can be done -- well, furious emailing and blogging is always apropos -- and the War on the Media will have to continue!!!! We're WINNING!!

This sequence has been repeating over and over since the seizure of the government by the Busheviks, and the outlines of it were set much earlier than that.

Items appear in the reviled and despised (because it's despicable) MSM that PROVE! some disgusting fact or other about the Busheviks. Things we KNEW! are now CONFIRMED! (by the MSM that we all hate with a purple passion), and so we must now furiously email and fax and blog our little fingers to the bone getting the news out -- because the MSM, obviously, will not do it, obsessed as they are with Britney and the cost of John Edwards' haircuts. WE, The People! must do it!

Alert the Media! Get this to Olbermann, stat!


[Ahem: the story came from the Media, the MSM.]

And so it goes, over and over again, world without end. Amen.

Chris Matthews gets an over the top puff piece-cum-slam in the New York Times Magazine over the weekend, and after eagerly devouring every juicy word, practically the entire Warrior-on-the-Media class commenced to feel sorry for him, (Digby's example is one of the best) in between episodes of intense schadenfreude that the Clown was finally getting his comeuppance, but the War on the Media must continue!!!, because the New York Times Magazine isn't exactly the MSM. Well, it is, but it isn't, you know. How many people see it? It's not like it's Hardball or the Chris Matthews Show which everyone watches obsessively. You know. Not the same at all.

This is WAR!!!

Criminey.

Of course it's all a game, one that's been refined and built upon for years, to make believe the MSM is worth warring on while being absolutely dependent on it for news content.

There are alternatives to the MSM for news content, but you would never know it from the blog posts of the many Warriors-on-the-Media. I confess, I've been hammering on this fact since the Good Times and Glory Days of Media Whores Online. Talk about "world without end." Ha!

Back in those days, it was much fun and kind of thrilling to go after the MSM for the intensity of its constant "Inappropriate Chimp Suck," as it was called. MWO's motto: "The site that set out to bring the media to their knees, but found they were already there" summed up the sense of complete frustration and contempt many open-eyed Americans felt toward the ever compliant and air-headed mainstream media reporters who filled the pages of newspapers and periodicals and filled the airwaves with endless whoring for Bush and Republicans.

After the Aaron Brown incident, however, it was questionable whether constant attacks on individual reporters and news anchors and so forth was appropriate. Brown was eventually fired from CNN, but how much the MWO campaigns against him had to do with it is hard to say. I would suggest that part of the reason CNN chose to get rid of him, though certainly not all of it, was that Brown demonstrated he was unable to control his critics. One of the chief attributes of news personalities is that they are able to withstand harsh criticism from the left, and even control the frenzy of their leftish critics. Brown failed.

But wait a minute. Brown wasn't acting in a vacuum. Reporters and anchors have bosses, they have editors, producers, publishers, CEOs, COOs, Board Chairs. They work in a highly -- and very rigidly -- authoritarian environment. They are not independent operators -- like Bloggers, for example -- and their work must pass layers of scrutiny before it ever sees the light of day.

But all that was forgotten in the intensity of attack. You go after those who displease you, and you go after the ones you can see. You don't see the bosses, and you rarely even hear of them. So of course you don't attack them. How can you? You don't even know that they are there, let alone who they are.

When I and others made these points back in those days, it was disconcerting to many to say the least. After finally getting through to the wretched whores on their knees before the Busheviks, it was hard to grasp the idea that these whores had pimps. Who pwn3d them.

Going after the bosses was and still is a difficult notion for many in the blogosphere; going after the institutions those bosses serve is almost beyond comprehension, though more and more media critics are picking up on the idea.

Media criticism is a fundamental part of the Internets, has been there from the beginning and will continue so long as there is an Internet, as it should. But the Internets also provide an alternative to the Big Media, and the Internets have always been able to link to and promote alternatives to the MSM in print and on the airwaves. As much as criticism of individuals is needed (and it is), so is an opening to the alternatives that exist and that are to come. As much as criticism of the individual media offenders is needed, so is the necessity of questioning the bosses and executives and the entire hierarchy and operation of the institutions they serve.

These are steps still only tentatively taken, after many years.

And the War on the Media is still attacking pretty much only the Whores.

Real change and success in this War on the Media is going to require a much broadened attack, one that goes to the sources of the whoredom, and to the heart of the institutions that allow and require it.



Friday, April 11, 2008

Brazil!



All the Internets are abuzz with reports that the Congressional Republicans have decided to backburner their demands for immediate FISA "reform" so as to concentrate on the economy.

There is some understandable blogger triumphalism over these reports, since the blogosphere has long been in the lead on the question of FISA "reform" -- as well as considerable suspicion that the Rs are pulling a feint so as to have the issue to hand whenever it is to their advantage to impugn the patriotism or warrior fervor of their Democratic foes.

My own sense of the situation is that the Rs are resigning themselves to the fact that there will be a Democratic president next year, and it will most likely be President Barack (Rush was comforting his listeners over the "losses" next year and beyond, and telling them how a President Barack was most likely, and they would -- poor things -- survive it as they had survived so much adversity in the past, yadda, yadda) and they understandably don't want a Democratic president to have unfettered domestic surveillance power.

That's pretty obvious, eh?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

War on the Media; Pt 2


What follows are excerpts from a novel, "In Our Town", by William Allen White, c. 1904.

(The premise is that a "country newspaper" publisher is reminiscing...)







The Young Prince


We have had many reporters for our little country newspaper -- some good ones who have gone up to the city and have become good newspaper men; some bad ones, who have gone back to the livery stables from which they sprang; and some indifferent ones, who have drifted back to the insurance business and have become silent partners in student boarding-houses, taking home the meat for dinner and eating finically at the second table of life, with a first table discrimination. But of all the boys who have sat at the old walnut desk by the window, the Young Prince gave us the most joy. Before he came on the paper he was bell-boy at the National Hotel -- bell-hop, he called himself -- and he first attracted our attention by handing in personal items written in a fat, florid hand. He seemed to have second sight. He knew more news than anyone else in town -- who had gone away, who was entertaining company, who was getting married, and who was sick or dying.

The day the Young Prince went to work he put on his royal garment -- a ten dollar ready-made costume that cost him two weeks' hard work. But it was worth the effort. His freckled face and his tawny shock of red hair rose above the gorgeous plaid of his clothes like a prairie sunset, as as he pranced off down the street he was clearly proud of his job. The pride never left him. He knew all the switchmen in the railroad yards, all the girls in the dry-goods stores, all the boys on the grocers' waggons, all the hack-drivers and all the barbers in town.

These are the great sources of news for a country daily. The reporter who confines his acquaintance to doctors, lawyers, merchants and preachers is always complaining of dull days.

But there was never a dull day with the Young Prince. When he could get the list of "those present" at a social function in no other way, he called up the hired girl of the festal house -- we are such a small town that only the rich bankers keep servants -- and "made a date" with her, and the names always appeared in the paper the next day; whereupon the proud hostess, who thought it was bad form to give out the names of her guests, sent down and bought a dozen extra copies of the paper to send away to her Eastern kin. He knew all the secrets of the switch shanty. Our paper printed the news of a change in the general superintendent's office of the railroad before the city papers heard of it, and we usually figured it out that the day after the letter denying our story had come down from the Superintendent's office the change would be officially announced.

...The longer the Prince worked the more clothes he bought. One of his most effective creations was a blue serge coat and vest, and a pair of white duck trousers linked by emotional red socks to patent-leather shoes. This confection, crowned with a wide, saw-edged straw hat with a blue band, made him the brightest bit of color on the sombre streets of our dull town. He wore his collars so high that he had to order them of a drummer, and as he came down the street from the depot, riding magnificently with the 'bus-driver, after the train had gone, the clerks used to cry: "Look out for your horses; the steam-piano is coming!"

...The Young Prince took no heed of the jibes of the envious. He was conscious that he was cutting a figure, and this consciousness made him proud. But his pride did not cut down his stack of copy that he laid on the table every morning and every noon. He couldn't spell and he was innocent of grammar, and every line he wrote had to be edited, but he got the news. He was everywhere. He rushed down the streets after an item, dodging in and out of stores and offices like a streak of chain lightning having a fit. But it was beneath his dignity to run to fires. When the fire-bell rang, he waited nonchalantly on the corner near the fire-department house, and as the crowds parted to let the horses dash by on the dead run, he would walk calmly to the middle of the street, put his notebook in his pocket, and, as the fire-team plunged by, he would ostentatiously throw out a stiff leg behind him like the tail of a comet, and "flip" onto the end of the fire-waggon. Then he would turn slowly around, raise a hand, and wiggle his fingers partronisingly at the girls in front of the Racket Store as he flew past, swaying his body with the motion of the rolling, staggering cart.

Other reporters who have been on the paper -- the good ones as well as the bad --have had to run the gauntlet of the town jokers who delight to give green reporters bogus news, or start them out hunting impossible items...

The Young Prince had the sense to know the truth and the courage to write it. This is the essence of the genius that is required to make a good newspaper man. No paper has trouble getting reporters who can hand in copy that records the events from the outside. Any blockhead can go to a public meeting and bring in a report that has the words "as follows" scattered here and there down the columns. But the reporter who can go and bring back the soul of the meeting, the real truth about it -- what the inside fights meant that lay under the parliamentary politeness of the occasion; who can see the wires that reach back of the speakers, and who can see the man who is moving the wires and can know why he is moving them; who can translate the tall talking into history -- he is a real reporter. And the Young Prince was that kind of a youth. He went to the core of everything; and if we didn't dare to print the truth -- as sometimes we did not -- he grumbled for a week about his luck. As passionately as he loved his clothes, he was always ready to get them dirty in the interests of his business.

For three years, his nimble feet pounded the sidewalks of the town. He knew no business hours and ate and slept with his work. He never ceased to be a reporter, never took off his make-up, never let down from his exalted part. One day he fell sick of a fever, and for three weeks fretted and fumed in delirium. In his dreams he wrote pay locals and made trains and described funerals, got lists of names for the society column, and grumbled because his stuff was cut or left over till the next day. When he awoke, he was weak and wan, and they felt they must tell him the truth.

The doctor took the boy's hands and told him very simply what they feared. He looked at the man for a moment in dumb wonder, and sighed a long, tired sigh. Then he said, "Well, if I must, here goes--" and turned his face to the wall and closed his eyes without a tremor. And thus the Young Prince went home.


As romanitcized and melodramatized as this description of the near perfect reporter of a century ago is, it is still at the foundation of our image of what the ideal reporter should be today. He went to the core of everything.

And it is a crying shame that a man or woman like that really can't work for a corporatized "news" outlet today, with very, very few exceptions.

The good news is that The News isn't confined to those crabbed and increasingly irrelevant corporate outlets, and the number, scope and quality -- and audiences -- of alternatives keep growing.

As the corporate media is de-legitimized, opportunities for Young Princes (and Princesses!) outside the corporate media can only increase.

The question is whether the alternatives will ever be able to pay enough to hold on to their best reporters.

Stay tuned.

OT: New Mexico, later on

After we put a deposit on the house it was four months before the sale closed. The interim was filled with plenty of long distance recruitment and negotiations with inspectors and contractors and the bank and the realtors and so forth. I made a number of trips to New Mexico while things were being readied.

Work began within days of the closing in January, and by April, a great deal had been accomplished:







The windows are not the ones I specified, but they work, and the French door was a real treat after all the angst from the contractor and his subs. It wasn't easy to put in. Not only did they have to dismantle part of the adobe wall, they had to take out some of the granite foundation stones. Which are now steps to the back yard. Recycle, reuse! We discovered the foundation is unmortared stone with a skin of concrete. Interesting. Yikes! Surprising how well it has held up.

The third picture is of the bedroom that was in the worst shape when we bought the house. There was no woodwork, the plaster was falling off the adobe, there were holes and big cracks in the walls and ceiling, the floor was ruinous, windows were broken. It appeared that a renovation had been started but abandoned. Or maybe not. Maybe it was just crumbling from all the neglect.

What the contractors were able to do really surprised me. There was no sign at all of the prior destruction, and the pine floor refinished beautifully. The kitchen was turned into a really nice space, though the sink was not installed properly, and the smaller bedrooms on the west side of the house have become a very cozy workroom (with a somewhat elaborate shrine built in to the adobe) and an equally cozy library.

(One thing you will notice in New Mexico is that a lot of people have Books. And they read them!)

The interior renovation was essentially complete by October. That's the month I drove a truck full of furnishings out there from California. It was not quite a move in, but started the process. A process that's nearly complete, certainly more than adequate for occasional rest and relaxation stays.

There's a sense of real accomplishment -- and gratitude -- to have a place like this for just that reason.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Otra Vez: Toast 2.0



From time to time, I've mentioned my acquisitive nature. I have what some might consider to be strange collecting urges. One of them is toasters.

There are only five or maybe ten of them split between the two houses, all popup models, all more or less functional, but this one is my favorite by far.

It's a 1934 Toastmaster popup toaster, model 1 B 4, sturdy and heavy as a Volvo, and chromed to within an inch of its Deco life.

When I got it out of one of the discard bins at the Goodwill, the plug had been cut off and the clockwork that runs the popup mechanism was frozen, but with a new plug and some gentle coaxing (together with several burnt offerings) I was able to get it to make toast, and we've used it every day since.

Unlike most toasters -- and pretty much all modern ones -- the heating elements of this one don't get cherry red, in fact, they show almost no color at all. They're embedded in mica sheets, and the whole heating gizmos -- mica and wires together -- get toasty warm; the timing mechanism moves the bread very slowy between the heated sections, and when it's done, the toast pops up smartly -- pretty nearly perfect every time.

I'm impressed. Pretty good for a nearly seventy-five year old appliance. But then, people paid a lot of money in 1934 for this moderne marvel. I've seen ads for a similar one (not this one exactly) for $25, the equivalent of $250-300 (or more) today.

Over the years, we've accumulated quite a lot of Old Things. We use a lot of them, too. An old Electrolux model 1205 can't be beat for vacuuming the rugs. The 1942 Philco radio is the best for AM reception, and we used to use it to listen to the Air America station, until that station had an unfortunate format change. The 1935 Crosley radio still brings in excellent shortwave, though I have no idea where most of the stations originate.

Couldn't have waffles without the service of the big, square c. 1948 Knapp-Browning waffle iron, and the coffee is made in a GE/Universal 11 cup percolator that probably dates to the 1950's. The stove is an early 1960's model Kenmore.

We have typewriters... and actually use them!



Sewing machines? Sure! My favorite is a cast iron but streamlined c. 1940 Montgomery Ward rotary that was missing a bobbin case, and so was useless. I checked online and found one available, for $70, and decided to pass. Then one day when I was driving to an appointment, I passed a sewing store, and there was the same model M/W machine sitting on the sidewalk. I went in and asked for a bobbin case for it. The man was very nice, said, "Sure, I can get you one. Come back in a couple of days." Went back, and he showed me a regular bobbin case that would fit in most modern machines. I said, "No, that's not going to work. Too big. I need one that will fit a machine just like the one on the sidewalk." Hmm, he said. So we went out there, pulled the bobbin case out of the one on the sidewalk. He said, "Is that it?" I said, "Yeah." He said, "OK, you can have that one, this machine is only to get people to look when they pass by." I said, "I guess it works!" He said, "Yep!"

So I got a bobbin case for the M/W, threaded it up, and it was perfect. (Good thing I had an operator's manual, cause I could never have figured out how to thread it on my own. Of course I wouldn't say I have any sewing skills, but that's another issue.)

Then there are the Books.

But that's for another time.

Need a couple of slices of toast!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Democratic Triumph or Crackup?

My prognosticating skills got quite a workout during the 2006 election, and I was proved grossly wrong, predicting that the Senate and House would stay in Republican hands. I would say they are both still in Republican control -- what with the BushDogs and the Rs forming a working majority in both houses -- but nominally, both shifted to Democratic leadership, surprising quite a few people (including some House and Senate Democrats.)

Now we have this strange situation developing over the presidential campaign -- which has already been under way for a year or two -- with two "interesting" Democratic candidates battling it out for the nomination, versus a cranky old man who's the "presumptive nominee" of the Republican Party.

Over much of the so-called "progressive" blogosphere, there is a concerted campaign to get Hillary to drop out so that Obama can sail to the nominating convention Triumphant. Hillary refuses to do so, even though she cannot win enough pledged delegates to secure the nomination. Neither can Barack, but that's ignored by the Obamamaniacs. The nomination depends on the superdelegates, no matter what the results of the popularity contest turns out to be. There is intense pressure being put on those superdelegates to support one or the other Dem candidate, but many refuse to commit at this point, nor are they willing to join the chorus demanding Hillary's withdrawal.

Can't say that I'm reading these signs correctly, but apparently Hillary and Bill Clinton have been going around to the supers saying straight out that "Barack cannot win." This is often interpreted by Obamamaniacs as a racial slur, and maybe it is. But maybe it isn't.

Given the tension in the Democratic ranks, and the strong popular appeal that Obama has among many, many people, Hillary's dropping out might be the smart thing to do. She and Bill Clinton are very smart politicians -- though I can't say either one of them has been particularly "smart" in this campaign -- and they know the value of strategic retreat. But Hillary is pretty much absolute: she will not withdraw, no matter what the popular vote is in the primary.

And I ask why she is so absolute about it, and why she and Bill are apparently going around saying Barack can't win, but not saying why they think that.

The Rev Wright controversy seems to have eroded some of Barack's support among white Democrats, Independents, and Republicans. The Noise Machine is pushing it for all it's worth, and then some. Despite initial assumptions, it was not the Hillary campaign that started and fanned this "issue," it was the media itself, beginning with FOX, thence to ABC, then everywhere, fanned by the McCain campaign. And interesting progression.

Might there be other "issues"? It hardly seems possible this would be the end of the smears and media frenzies about Obama's potential "unsuitability" for the Presidency. They're quite happy to dig things up themselves, but we can be sure that the McCain campaign has been doing its own opposition research.

I wonder if Hillary -- and Bill, and other Big Democrats -- know some of what's been turned up. I would suspect they do. Despite accusations, Hillary and Bill have not impugned his character, his sexuality, or his honorable intent. But what if they know something, or have heard something, about his sex life, or about -- say -- something corrupt in his years in Chicago's ward politics? Let's say they would never release it to the press (and maybe the press already knows what it is). But they know that somebody is going to drop the stink bomb on Obama sometime, say right after he is sure to get the nomination. Blam!

And let's say Hillary drops out prematurely.

What happens if the Democratic candidate is built up the way Barack has been built up only to be destroyed by "something" that comes out. (This being American politics, the "something" doesn't have to be true or even real, viz: Dean, Howard; Kerry, John.) What's the option? In 2004, we didn't have one. The attackers waited until Kerry was the nominee, and had a field day. Of course they would try the same thing with Obama.

And if the Clintons know -- pretty much -- what's going to be used against him, maybe that's why they are insisting Barack can't win.

I could be completely wrong of course, but there is something going on in the background, things are not as they appear to be, and if I am right, I think it would behoove someone from the Clinton camp -- or even better, a neutral -- to clue the Obama camp to what may be in store.

Maybe they already have.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

This Means War!

Taking down The Media, pt. 1



Digby posts about the War on the Media! declared at the Eschaton gabfest. OK. That's a thought, isn't it? Holding the Media to account! Dogging individual reporters who Get It Wrong! Dragging them through the Mud! Sounds like a plan.

Except it's been going on (with Digby herself often in the vanguard) for many a year, and media criticism has been a fundamental part of the Internets since first there was such a thing back in the days of yore. Jay Rosen questions -- I would say demolishes -- the premise.

An Internet guerrilla War on the Media has been under way since dirt was new.

Without much positive result.

Of course it is a matter of faith in the blogosphere that all the effort expended on skewering The Media is having a wonderfully tonic effect on the holding companies and corporate boardrooms, which in turn is positively affecting the presentation of the News on cable and network and newspaper and magazine outlets all over the country.

Just look at how much better Joe Klein has become since he has been exposed to relentless feedback from his critics at Time Magazine's blog effort, Swampland. Day after day, Klein, known colloquially as "Joke Line", is skewered through every orifice; everything he writes, everything he says, is "scrutinized" and criticized, ridiculed and denigrated by a group of regular "Joke Line" critics, in a cacophony of carping and poo-flinging such as hasn't been seen since Deborah Howell made a "mistake" at the WaPo in claiming that both Democrats and Republicans were sullied by the Abramoff mess -- which nobody remembers. A veritable Goat for Azazel.

Every. Farking. Day.

Of course he's getting better. Can't help it with such relentless Warfare on him.

Except nothing changes. It's the same every day. Klein writes rightwing enabling/ supporting propaganda in the magazine and speaks it on teevee and expands on it in his blog posts, and every day he is criticized for it -- by the same people -- and every day writes more of it, and there is more criticism and on and on and on and on.

World without end, Amen.

So now Digby and NTodd and so forth are declaring War on the Media, targeting reporters and journalists almost exclusively, especially high profile clowns like Chris Matthews and Tim Russert and that ilk, and they are to be exposed!!! for the lying, propagandizing, corporate shills they are.

Not to be snide, but So?

The point?

These people were exposed! years ago. They are clowns. The only credibility they have left is the credibility they receive from their hyperventilating critics -- like Digby and NTodd and what have you -- who simply go round and round and round the same thing over and over and over again.

Nothing. Changes.

Well but. What about Dan Rather? He was taken out by concerted blogospheric action, wasn't he?

In part, sure. But note, the right wing blogs that went after him over the 60 Minutes piece did so not by yelling at him, or even at his producers. No, they went directly to the executive suites and boardrooms, through the back door, as it were, essentially admitted into the august chambers through their connections in the White House (which has long directly supported the right wing blogosphere) and in the boardrooms themselves.

Easy.

For them.

In other words, the rightwingers went directly to the heads of the institutions involved, demonstrated what they were prepared to do if the weight of the institution did not come down hard on their chosen target, and demanded action forthwith. And they got it.

Lefty blogs go at it ass backwards, by always focusing on the individual miscreant, the reporter, the clown or the blowhard who pisses them off at the moment, yelling and carrying on about this latest Outrage! only to find they are being laughed off or ignored. Again.

Repeat ad nauseum.

Is this a Phoney War?

True enough, the so-called Left generally doesn't have access to the executive suites and boardrooms the corporatists and their enablers on the right do. But interestingly, President Clinton was able to slam bad reporting and interviewing and actually get a (mild) mea culpa -- ordered from On High -- from clowns like Matthews and Wallace. Schuster actually got a time out for his comments regarding Chelsea.

Wallace even went to bat for Obama on FOX one morning -- though he seems to rue it now -- because the hosts were spending hours trashing Obama for his "typical white woman" statement.

These are relatively tiny steps, but they demonstrate that something can be done about the abominable news coverage in this country if the right people make the right pitch to the right people, and orders issue therefrom. President Clinton had to do it. Lefty bloggers may have been an amen chorus, but the word had to originate from On High, not from down below.

This should be an object lesson, but strangely it isn't.

And that makes me wonder if the so-called War is really anything of the kind, or even a skirmish. It looks like more of the same, which results in a constant reinforcement of the status quo: endlessly crabbing bloggers and laughing media clowns.

Want some real change in that situation? Really? Then go after the institutions, the power-centers, the executive suites and boardrooms where the coverage decisions are really made. Make it clear to them what you will do -- and that has to be something that will actually affect their power and their money -- if they don't clean up the acts of their clowns pronto.

The only things that seem to strike real fear into them is the return of the Fairness Doctrine and the break up of consolidated media. The only way to accomplish those ends is through election of candidates who will vote for them. But since our elections are so screwed up, elections may not prove fruitful.

What are the alternatives?