Friday, May 28, 2010

The Dance

One faction of the Establishment contends with the Other for Power, Money, Dominance, Sex -- and possibly Survival.

It's the Dance.

Interesting that the recent primary elections were characterized (by people like Glenn, but also widely throughout the Major Mass Media) as insurgents defeating -- or almost defeating -- the Establishment. No, I said. That isn't actually what was going on.

The three "insurgent" candidates who were featured -- Lt. Governor Bill Halter of Arkansas who has forced Senator Blanche Lincoln into a runoff, Dr. Rand Paul of Kentucky, son of long-time Texas "Libertarian" Confederate Congressman Ron Paul who defeated the KY Secretary of State for the Republican Senate nomination, and Congressman Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania who defeated Former Republican now Democratic Senator Arlen Specter for the Democratic Party's Senate nomination -- were all, I argued, very Establishment characters. There were no genuine insurgents -- as in non-Establishment -- candidates in these races. If there had been, we probably wouldn't have heard of them, and it is almost certain they wouldn't have won or even come within hailing distance of winning.

A sitting Lt Governor, a sitting Congressman, and the son of a sitting Congressman run for Democratic and Republican party nominations, and they are not "Establishment?"


No, they ARE "Establishment," and they represent factions of said Establishment.

Interestingly two of these crypto-"insurgents" are under fierce attack from the faction of the Establishment currently holding the reins of Power.

Joe Sestak, a middle of the road Democrat who would be considered conservative in any rational world, is being subjected to a fierce pummeling by his own and the other party over his offhand comment that the White House offered him a job if he would desist. Well, isn't that special. Republicans are making whatever hay they can out of the "revelation" -- and according to Digby are cranking up the Scandal Machine in an effort to get rid of Sestak and to cripple, even bring down, the President, whereas Sestak is bungling and bumbling the way he does, and not playing the politics very well at all.

Of course All the World knows how the Tedious Little Peckerhead, Rand Paul, in Kentucky is being ground up into chum for the Media and is being (occasionally) skewered -- or at least used for all-important fundraising purposes -- by the Democrats. He has been turned on in ways his father never was. Which strikes me as largely Kabuki because all the signs are that arrogant little twerp will indeed wind up in the Senate, where conceivably he can actually throw a tantrum and cause a ruckus and bring Government as an enterprise to a screeching halt. Conceivably, he could boot Lieberman out of the Catbird Seat, even give Little Lindsey a run for his money. Then where would we be? So of course all the Big Guns are turned on him right now, not so much to keep him from winning the seat (I think it is presumed he will win), but to attempt to... erm... socialize him somewhat to the ways of Our Government before he gets to the August Body.

Bill Halter in Arkansas isn't being given this treatment -- yet -- because he isn't seen to be going anywhere. If he defeats Lincoln in the runoff, though, you can bet he will get the same "scrutiny" Sestak and Paul are getting. [Note to add: What little polling I've seen indicates that neither Lincoln or Halter can defeat the Republican candidate. So "scrutinizing" Halter may not even be worth the trouble.]

Does that mean there are any real non-Establishment insurgents among this trio? Of course not. Sestak is as solid an Establishment figure as you can find, a retired Navy Admiral and sitting Congressman; he defeated a tired ancient Republican for the Democratic Senate nomination, and -- assuming he goes to the Senate -- he will be a solid Establishment Democrat in the August Body. On the other hand, the Tedious Little Peckerhead could turn into quite a problem in the Senate if he isn't tamed before he gets there. He seems to be undergoing an Extreme Makeover to sandpaper off his rougher anti-Government edges and to get him up to speed with the current Republican Party Line. He seems to be doing fine as far as that goes. And Republicans in Kentucky back him almost unanimously, far more so than Democrats back the Democratic Senate candidate What's-His-Name.

(A side note: Li'l Rand reminds me somewhat of Dr. Howard Dean; in fact, I think the two are complimentary, and the Tedious Little Peckerhead is running as a kind of mirror image of Dean. He uses some of the same rhetorical devices (with a twist of course: "I've got a message from the Tea Party. We've come to take our government back.") and -- somewhat disturbingly -- he actually looks a little like Dean and speaks something like him. But Dean, as Establishment as he was, was not welcomed as a Power Player, in fact he was denied even a modicum of respect in that regard. Of course that may have had something to do with the fact that he could never gain more than low double digit support in the 2004 primaries, in stark contrast to expectations, whereas the Peckerhead has not only defeated his Republican rival, he is -- by some polls --- way out in front of his Democratic rival as well. Might have something to do with it, I don't know.)

It's a dance. A show. Yes, of course, it is a real struggle for advantage and power -- within the Establishment. It is nothing at all like its marketing, though, of some sort of "insurgency" from outside the Establishment trying to worm its way into Power.

Real insurgents would be monkeywrenching the System, not trying to take it over by securing a place or a better place within it.


  1. What do you make of Glenn's column today, or his thin-skinned response to my comments?

    Not sure how he managed to see himself as NOT praising Ron Paul, after the hagiography he employed throughout the bulk of it.

    He seems to have undergone a strange transformation in recent month. He's moved to the right in my view. He's become one with Paul's absolutism regarding government interventionism.

    I find it disturbing. Obama's betrayal liberated me once and for all from any illusions about the Dems. He's helped me find socialism, ironically, by being so damned opposed to it. Glenn, OTOH, seems to have taken Obama's betrayal as reason to hate government across the board, and view it as always already evil, worse than private tyrannies, by default.

    I think Chomksy makes far more sense on that issue. A left-libertarian. A libertarian socialist, etc.

    Shit, I despise a ton of what government is and does. I despise that it colludes with business the way it constantly does. I despise its wars, its secret surveillance, its empire, its abuse of power, its war on drugs, its endless wars. But, I think I have a better sense of why it does what it does.

    For the markets!! It does what it does to protect and defend the rich and their room to maneuver. Duh, as the young kids used to say.

    So, obviously, the answer isn't to set the markets even more free than they already are. The answer is to find some way to revolt as citizens, truly revolt, enough to take the government back from money and capitalists or whatever we should call it.

    I suppose I get in trouble by using 19th century terms. It's unfashionable now to use terms straight out of Marx. Thing is, I've become a bit of a born again Marxist and find his critique of capitalism right on. Don't agree with some of his solutions. But I think he got to the core of the problem, at least at the macro level. Simone Weil and others saw that there was still the problem of work itself, even if the workers gained control over the means of production, etc.

    Add the insights of poets and artists and musicians and the great Olympian athletes of Humanism and we've got something. Never forget the individual, the soul that bleeds, and we can make socialism work.

    Marx, plus the people who can reach the human soul.

    That's one hell of a combination.

  2. There's nothing wrong with using Marxist criticism of capitalism. We need more of it. Marxist analysis was mostly right. Marxist solutions, not so much.

    The puerile Libertarian fixation that's long been endemic to the Internets is fading. Not fast enough, but it is fading.

    Hammer away.

    I think I commented over there that discussions of the Pauls, Ron and Rand, are "chum." Stirring the pot. Roiling the waters. At least at one time, Ron Paul discussion threads could be guaranteed to generate a bazillion hits, hundreds of comments, and Paul-Posts came around almost as regularly as clockwork.

    In other words, it's "business."

    And that's not even being cynical. It's just the way it is.

    Ostensibly the topic was the misuse of the term "crazy" to describe political outliers or opponents. He used links to (no actual verbiage of) Matt Y, Kevin D, and Hunter at dKos years ago saying something about one or the other Paul to illustrate his point. A donnybrook thence ensued.

    And of course he pretends to be perfectly innocent. "Aw gee, how come you missed my whole point you Ignoramus? Can't you read?"

    But it's a game.

    A much more solid example, which I alluded to in my comments on that thread, is Dr. Charles Krauthammer's misuse of the term "crazy" to describe just about any prominent "leftist" he cares to name. Krauthammer is a psychiatrist. He has a column in the Washingon Post, and he makes numerous appearances on the Shows as a Respected Conservative Pundit.

    And he is also an insidious (and sometimes quite wild-eyed) propagandist who misuses his psychiatric training to denounce the entire "Left" (as he describes it) as crazy -- singling out particular examples for Special Treatment: Al Gore, Howard Dean, Hillary, etc.

    His "diagnoses" of Leftists and The Left then become the Talking Points for the entire Right Wing Noise Machine.

    It's a dangerous -- and can be a very effective -- propaganda tactic, refined and employed by the Soviets, from whom the tactic was gleefully acquired by all kinds of totalitarian and authoritarian powers. Like our own...

    Krauthammer knows exactly what he is doing. It is vile.

    Meanwhile, Glenn says it's unfair to call the outliers like the Pauls "crazy" when so much of the Party policies of the Establishment (R & D both) are self-evidently -- and dangerously -- Crazy.

    But that's little more than schoolyard taunting: "I know you are, but what am I?"

    You got caught in his and his fanboys' buzzsaw, but I thought you defended yourself well.

    Because Glenn is so reluctant to reveal his "true" political colors, he's rarely able to match a clearly stated political/ ideological argument with his abstractions, feints, denials and ad hominems. When he gets really cranked up, he'll throw in the entire body of logical fallacies to "defend" his failing position, and then all his Cato-bot fanboys will cheer. It's quite a sight.

    The Argument -- as an abstract exercise, as if he were still in law school -- is the Main Point. It's tactical, not strategic, and it's mostly right out of the Cato Institute. Where Glenn is much beloved for his argumentative acuity.

    Which is part of why Cato-bots and fanboys urge you -- or anyone else who disputes him -- to desist. Withdrawal from the field of combat is the only "rational" course they know of when Glenn is in top form. But I also notice they tend to urge withdrawal on Glenn's opponents when his opponents are successfully countering Glenn's more puerile nonsense. The more successful they are, the more his fanboys want to call quits. Heh. Punks.

    I think you're making some inroads with some of his readers. And that'll have an effect down the road.

    Keep on hammering.