Sunday, May 30, 2010

Social Democracy is Hard; Libertarian Paradise, Not So Much

LAND in Arizona!!! Only $22,500 for 36 Acres!!!! Get yours NOW!!!! Before it's All GONE!!!! LAND!!!! Just like the Old West only Better!

The Euro-presence in this Land of the Free and Home of the Brave is largely predicated on the notion that Liberation means getting away from the Authority of whatever the Power Center happens to be.

Liberation means going it alone into the trackless wilderness, fighting for your share -- and whatever else you can grab -- against all others. Murder, pillage, rape, genocide, who cares? You do what you have to to get what's rightfully yours, and once you have it, you fight off any one or any Authority that would try to either take it from you or skim off just a bit for the "common good." It's yours, goddammit, you stole it fair and square by any and all means necessary. There is no such thing as "common good."

You fight and you hunker down. Until the big-bellied sheriff comes with his shotgun and his dog and a warrant and you either go out in a blaze of glory or you surrender in ignominious defeat.

These days, someone with that overweening belief in their independence and arrogance doesn't have to venture very far into the trackless wilderness to acquire a decent sized plot of land that they can fortify against outsiders and become squires of their domains. People do it all the time. These days, given the collapse of the real estate market, good-sized parcels, sometimes with habitable structures on them, can be picked up for a relative song. There is nothing to stop Libertarians from making their Paradise right here and right now. It is ridiculously easy. Just get yourself some land, build a hut or a castle, plant a garden, do something creative, and there you are. With a little foresight, work, and some skill, you can live as free as you want to, avoid most if not all taxes, and enter into all the voluntary markets and associations with others of your ilk as you please, and almost nobody from the Government will even ask what you're doing.

There have been endless Utopian schemes in this country since day one of European settlement, and they continue. So why don't Libertarians do it? It's so easy.

Social Democracy is hard. Social Democracy requires some semblance of society -- civilization in a word -- and some concept of Democracy, neither of which are important to Libertarians. Social Democracy requires physical infrastructure -- a city for example -- and a functioning economy of some sort, even if it is not highly developed. It requires a population that understands concepts like "common interest," "public good," "progress for all," "misery for none."

Social Democracy requires citizens and government and the close interaction between them on a premise of Democracy. In a functioning Social Democracy, the People are the Government. But for the People to BE the government takes hard and lasting work by the People, individually and collectively.

Social Democracy requires that the economy function primarily to serve the interests of the People, secondarily to serve individual interests for wealth, power and prestige. The People's interests have to come first, and those interests are found, not by directives from above, but by the active participation of the People in Democratic institutions. In a Social Democracy agreement is sought as broadly as possible through Democratic processes, but as a rule, the Tyranny of the Majority is avoided by making as many allowances for dissent and dissenters as possible consistent with the overall Public Good. Not everyone has to go along with everything. On the other hand, dissent that will damage the Public Good is routinely quarantined. For example, in a Social Democracy, predatory capitalism would be quarantined because it damages the Public Good.

But nothing happens without the informed consent of the People, and nothing is allowed to seriously disrupt the People's ability to govern themselves through Democratic processes and to prosper from an economy founded on Democratic principles.

To accomplish that is extremely hard. The frequently encountered human tendency to cupidity, rebellion, and disruption as well as the typical disinterest most people have in the social, economic and political minutiae of their city or nation make participatory democracy a generally elusive ideal.

But it can be done, and the process of participatory democracy can be streamlined so as to make it somewhat less burdensome than otherwise. There is really no escaping from the citizen's responsibility in a Social Democracy, and it takes real effort and concentration, hopefully inculcated from childhood, for a citizen to be fully engaged and involved in the society, government and economic life of his or her community and nation.

Elements of Social Democracy do exist in the United States, though Social Democratic ideals have no place in our National Government. Locally, however, socially conscious democratic institutions are seen widely, especially in secular university towns, in parts of New England, in the Upper Midwest where Scandinavians settled in large numbers, in "advanced" coastal cities like San Francisco, and so on. Conceptually, Social Democracy is not foreign to Americans on the local level. But it has never been a significant factor in National affairs.

Part of the reason is the nature of our Nation's political institutions as well as the fact that the Constitution formed a Government that is in no way a "collective" or even "participatory" Democracy. And too, the absence of Social Democratic ideals and practices at the National level may well be a matter of scale. Because Social Democracy requires such close interrelationships between the Government and the People, and our national Government doesn't work that way in the first place, and the size of the country and the size of the population are so huge that unless the governing institutions are reformed and expanded many-fold, the Social Democratic ideal will probably never take hold in DC.

But then, maybe it shouldn't. Libertarians and Social Democrats might well agree that the nation is too big to be governed successfully, and it would be better for all concerned to break it up into smaller constituent parts. So there is that potential convergence.

An irony is that Social Democracy can incorporate many of the ideals of Libertarianism, but Libertarianism cannot abide Social Democratic ideals and would seek their destruction.

Social Democracy is just too difficult for Libertarians.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Where the Cheneys At?

Where are the Cheneys, Father and Daughter, who used to be on all the shows all the time roasting Obama over hot coals and spitting venom at all and sundry. Haven't seen hide nor hair of either of them for months.

Where are they and what are they up to?

Of course they may feel they don't need to be on the Warpath for the time being because so much of what they said was necessary for the Government to do -- ie: protecting the Cheneys asses first and foremost, preserving and extending unlawful Bush Era power grabs and autocracy secondarily, blasting Muslims to pink mist whenever the spirit moved them -- has pretty much been instituted in whole or in part. In other words, the Cheneys spent most of 2009 running around screaming that there were a bunch of wusses in the White House and we we all gonna DIE! And then they stopped.

Quiet as mice they are.

But since most of their demands have been met, what do they have to yowl about?

This is how the Good Emperor Barack has chosen to rule, and for him, I think it has been fairly effective. For the rest of creation, not so much.

The Wars continue unabated, though troop presence in Iraq is being reduced in order to increase troop levels in Afghanistan. Pakistan is still under attack from drones. Same with Somalia and the Yemen. Threats and imprecations against Iran have, if anything, redoubled, and plenty of diplomatic double-crossing is the order of the day (viz: the deal brokered with Iran by Brazil and Turkey and denounced by DeeCee, even though it is what was wanted by the Palace.) Indefinite detention and rigorous interrogation of terror suspects is the policy position of the White House as detailed in the latest National Security Strategy statement, so the dismissal of the Constitution and the tyranny of the Bush years continues without a break. There is no investigation, let alone prosecution, of the criminals who infested the White House in the previous administration, military commissions have resumed in Guantanamo, and not only that, but Government attorneys at the DoJ and DoD seem happy as clams, unlike the case under the Bush/Cheney regime when at least some of them would resign rather than put up with more tyrannical impositions. They don't do that any more. Indeed, lawyers who defend terror suspects are now to be investigated, intimidated, and thwarted from doing their jobs as a matter of DoD policy. YAY! The banksters are fatter and happier than ever, oil is gushing uncontrolled into the Gulf of Mexico and the People are groaning under a heavier and heavier burden of poverty and despair. Social Security and Medicare are about to be cut, and everyone is about to be forced to carry private health care insurance, adding further to the People's burdens.

What's not to like?

So why should the Cheneys have to emerge from their undisclosed lairs?

They got what they wanted just by barking and growling some on the teevee.


Under the Seas

Just a note:

It's truly fascinating to watch the live feeds of operations under the sea to attempt to gain control of the runaway oil well that is causing so much pollution and destruction. It is very much like watching something in outer space or a science fiction movie.

Just wish what's going on wasn't so awful.

The picture above is a screengrab of something being sawed by the robots.

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.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


In all the verbiage spilled over the Tedious Little Peckerhead, Rand Paul of Kentucky, one of the things that pops out at me about Libertarians as a class and Puritans in general is a complete failure to recognize that living in a civilized -- or even just a civil -- society involves trade-offs.

As the poet put it:

You can't always get what you want...

People who have adapted to living in a civil society accept that as a fundamental tenet. You can't always get what you want, and there are always trade-offs -- sometimes ugly ones -- in establishing and maintaining relatively peaceful and mutually rewarding civic, social, and economic conditions.

And if you try sometime you find you get what you need...

The example that is the focus of the current controversy over Rand Paul is that of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which no one under 40 is thoroughly cognizant of on the one hand, and people over 60 still remember the struggles over it as if they were yesterday. The measure is that important to the way society in this country functions, and it took major upheavals and some very bold leadership in Washington, in the States, and at the local levels to get from where we were in matters discriminatory to where we are.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the subsequent civil rights and voting rights legislation undid the strange and twisted Apartheid state that Jim Crow legislation and long-time social custom had imposed -- and not just in the South.

It was as radical a transformation of American society as there has ever been, and its effects appear to be lasting and profound. At least so far as we know, most Americans under 40 wouldn't even dream of reverting to the Jim Crow past, not even in the Heart of Dixie. The idea is absurd to them. They've seen a couple of generations of relatively peaceful, more or less racially integrated living, and the genuine liberation of all sorts of groups, including women, from the restrictions of a straight-laced discriminatory and overtly oppressive white male privilege society.

There's no going back.

But we didn't get where we are without some pretty heavy, and to some extent catastrophic, trade-offs.

We should be discussing those trade-offs much more than we are.

Jim Crow wasn't overcome without a massive trade off. The United States is now a prison society, incarcerating and adjudicating the lives millions upon millions of Americans. Approximately one in three black men being ground up in the prison state mechanisms. Liberation for all has meant imprisonment for many.

This trade off has devastated black families.

The liberation of women from the home has come with a trade off: the stagnation of worker wages over generations. It now takes two workers -- instead of ordinarily one -- for typical households to support families in a comfortably modest lifestyle.

We could go on and on with examples of trade offs for liberation, and we should recognize that both "liberated" society and oppressive, discriminatory society involve trade-offs, and we should recognize what they are and evaluate their social, economic, and political worth.

For example, is the trade-off of living in a prison society like we do right or just or necessary in order to implement the "equal rights for all" premise that underlies civil rights legislation?

Do we have to have the Drug War, "fought" primarily against black and brown men, in order to overcome the racial fears and animosities of a shrinking middle class?

Does liberation of women require flattening and eventually reducing household living standards?

Puritans and libertarians don't accept trade-offs in their pursuit of Liberation to do what they want, when and how they want, with no regard for others if they don't choose to have such regard. They are would-be petty tyrants within their own spheres, which they would endeavor to increase as much as possible. They don't accept trade-offs; it's their way or no way. However, adopting their political, social and economic determinism would mean certain very obvious trade-offs that most rational people reject out of hand. Accepting Puritan/Libertarian "liberation" means the vast majority would be subject to outright and potentially very fierce tyranny.

The Puritan/Libertarian Motto: "I demand the Liberty to impose my Authority on you." The only way the tiny faction of Puritan/Libertarians can have their "Liberty" is by imposing their Tyranny on everyone else.

Which is their goal.

No wonder most people reject it.

On the other hand, there is not nearly enough discussion and consideration of the trade-offs that have been made in order to secure the Blessings of Liberty implicit in the concept of Equal Rights for All.

That's where social, economic and political discussion needs to go.

And I went down to the demonstration
To get my fair share of abuse
Singing, "We're gonna vent our frustration
If we don't we're gonna blow a 50-amp fuse"
Sing it to me now...

[NB: I have seen the Rolling Stones... but I have never seen... "Glee" ]

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Arizona Continues Seceding

And getting away with it, too.

Make no mistake. That's what the crazies are doing. Next up, denying citizenship to "anchor babies." Mm. Sounds like a plan. Thing of it is, there's this "Constitution" that says anyone born in the US is a citizen. It would take an amendment to change it; little pissant fucktard states like Arizona can't do it by themselves. But I'll bet that if an amendment were proposed, it would pass overwhelmingly in the Congress, and in state legislatures, just to calm the rabble.

So why don't the no-accounts in Arizona do that instead? Oh, easy: the state, run by clowns and conmen, is seceding. They don't care about your stupid Constitution -- not that anybody but purists and eccentrics do any more -- they want OUT.

They're gonna keep pulling this shit until somebody forces them to stop. And who is that going to be? The Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Goldman Sachs and BP in the White House?

Not likely.

As I mentioned in my previous post on the Oil Catastrophe, I'm not really into Doomblogging. But... there are signs that the strain the nation has been under at least since the lawless Supreme Court ruling which decided the election of 2000 is reaching the critical point.

Chaos up next?

Well, as they say, "Never let a good crisis go to waste!"

Batten down. It's gonna be a rough ride.

On Languid Indifference (Now With Update! And More!)

This is a day to return to our friends at -- "Increasing Success by Lowering Expectations" -- for some Demotivators™

Back to the Oil Gusher in the Gulf, it seems. Since the weekend, there's been a somewhat hysterical sideshow, especially among the doombloggers, but not exclusively so, on the "Explosions" which have "collapsed" and/or "opened up" the geological formation in which BP's Devil Riser was placed. The hypothesis seems to be that the pressure of the escaping oil and gas has ruptured the rock all around the well, collapsed it in some places, and there are now several new oil spouts, injecting many more millions of barrels into the Gulf than previously.

Oh and BP is running their LiveCam on a loop. The same eel keeps showing up again and again, and the same little fishy. Over and over. Monkeyfister (whom I recall from quite a few years ago at the Bartcop forum as a very intense young man determined to bloody the Busheviks and their running dogs) and others witnessed the Event and live blogged it, though their conclusions about what happened vary widely.

If you do Windows Media Player, this link goes to a live feed. Well. They say it's live. Who knows. The view currently available on my screen shows a plume of oil and some piping and gizmos down at the bottom of what looks like a pretty deep large-diameter, rough-sided hole. The camera position may be on the rim, I don't know. At any rate, it doesn't look like the views that have been widely distributed in the past. The plume is coming from what appears to be a very narrow orifice at the bottom. It spreads wide quickly, as all of the oil plumes we've seen to date do.

As we know, the oil has come ashore on a 150 mile arc along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, and it has contaminated beaches, marshes and brown pelican nesting areas. Clean up has been, shall we say, spotty.

Last night there was a revolting report on the NewsHour from Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, where oil has been coming ashore for days, and nothing whatever is being done about it by BP or the Federal Government. The Parish Homeland Security Rep points out that numerous local people were trained by BP to serve as workers to handle the spill, but BP never hired anybody to do it. All kinds of control and containment equipment is stored in the Parish, but none of it has been touched as it belongs to BP and there are no BP personnel anywhere near. Frantic calls to BP and the various Federal officials in charge of oversight aren't picked up or returned, and the locals have pretty much decided that both BP and the Feds are worthless and so they are taking matters into their own hands.

Following that report, Coast Guard Admiral In Charge Thad Allen was semi-grilled about the difficulties people onshore were facing, and he acknowledged that everybody involved had to do a better job, no doubt about that, and command and communications had to get better and they were working on it just as hard as they could.

What about Jefferson Parish?

"Working just as hard as we can to stand up better command and communications."

You just want to go Medieval on these people's asses. WTF?!

Thad Allen had a Long Talk with BP over the weekend, and he's sure that things will come together and get better within a short time.

What about Jefferson Parish?

BP has deployed tens of thousands of workers and scientists, the best in the world, to handle the consequences of the spill. And we're all working just as hard as we can to stand up better command and communications.


Everyone is working as hard as they can.

And so it goes.

Much blather masks utterly languid indifference.

A topic I have raised on this blog numerous times with regard to the Washington view of the ongoing unemployment calamity. They couldn't be more indifferent to the crushing plight of the long-term unemployed, despite their recent blather of "concern." They simply don't do anything about it.

Much as we see happening in the Gulf.

Long ago, I decided that Our Rulers' indifference to unemployment was Policy in Action; the point being that maintaining high unemployment figures over an extended period has the "positive" effect of lowering wages and benefits for all workers, which in turn bulks up bottom lines for employers, financiers, and investors. Win-win, in other words, for the Masters of the Universe, not so much for the rest of us, and it is devastating for the overall economy. High unemployment over extended periods forces more and more people into penury and poverty, and cuts in income that ripple through the land reduce the ability of consumers to... well, consume. Which in turn puts the Real Economy (as opposed to the Digital Bytes Finance Economy) into reverse. Keep it up long enough -- and this has been going on for years now -- and there is no returning to "prosperity" for the masses. Which seems to be the intent of the Policy.

The same sort of Indifference, combined with more and more meaningless blather, seems to be going on with regard to the Gulf Gusher, but what in Hell is the Policy?

So far as can be determined, BP is in complete control of the situation, and they are doing whatever will accrue to their corporate benefit. And for whatever reason, have done nothing at all, NOTHING, to stop the flow of oil into the Gulf. NOTHING. Instead, they have done everything they can think of to capture as much of the oil as they can, apparently for distribution and sale. They have made much show of Environmental Concern, yadda yadda, but when push comes to shove, they do nothing. Cf, the story in Jefferson Parish above. Talk about Potemkin Environmentalism. Well, there you are.

They talk extensively about this, that, or the other thing they might-could do to stop the flow of oil, but they don't do it. And they and their flacks keep saying "No one wants to stop this oil flow more than BP, no one!" but there's no evidence of it.

It's all just blather, while the Gulf fills up with oil and scientific studies are conducted on the "effects" all this oil is having on the Environment.

Science! YAY!

This utter indifference to the People (and plants and animals) affected by the constant streams of oil into the Gulf (except in the abstract, as scientific research) is in some ways worse than Chernobyl. At least the Soviet authorities were actually doing something (as tragically misguided as some of it was) to control and contain the contamination and they kept at it until they had done everything they could.

With this Gulf Thing, the Authority is the Corporation, and the Corporation's interest is in recovering as much of the gushing oil as they can for distribution and sale. Nothing matters to them so much as that. And it is obvious from their behavior to date that they will be focused on that objective until the end of the crisis. For its part, the Government refuses to intervene.

Instead, there is blather. Endless blather, and more blather. No action at all.

Though I think it is despicable, at least the Company's motivations are understandable. But what are the Policy motivations for letting them have their way? This is uncharted territory, and I can't tell what Policy matters are being formulated and implemented, except to ignore the public interest to every extent possible.

But to what object?


UPDATE begun at 4:05pm 05/25/2010

I dunno. Maybe the hysteria is justified. I just checked the live feed from the link above, and the plume has massively, grossly, hideously changed. The view is the same; but the plume when I first saw it just now was much larger, brown instead of black, and seemed to be spewing from a much wider orifice next to the equipment. Then all of a sudden, all hell broke loose, an explosion of some sort, and it looked like a rent in the seafloor opened, spewing massive amounts of brown gunk through a long channel into the ocean. The camera position changed somewhat, apparently trying to take in what had happened, but the plume of engulfed it in a brown haze, looked a lot like smoke from a forest fire.


It's hard for me to stay connected to the feed for more than about 30 seconds at a time, but from what I can tell, the camera is surrounded by floating debris and the scene is essentially nothing more than this debris scattering around in a cloud of brown haze. I don't see the plume at all. The debris is moving chaotically and there is quite a bit of it.

The scene has cleared slightly. There appears to be a black plume behind the equipment and a much larger brown plume in front of it. These plumes appear to be issuing from different orifi, but it's impossible to tell for sure. Now it appears to be all one plume, huge, a blowout of a blowout maybe. The camera hasn't moved.

Now the feed has gone dead. I can't reconnect. It's 4:24pm PDT, 05/25/2010

Was just able to reconnect (4:27pm). It's a different view now. There is an elaborate piece of brassy equipment on the end of the arms of a remote operated vehicle. There is a relative small black plume behind this equipment. It looks like an earlier view that was live yesterday. The title of the view is "Deepwater Response", so this is not the view of whatever just blew out. There was a time and date stamp on the prior view, and it was today's date and time. There is no time/date stamp on the current view.

Something happened.

That's for double damned sure.

Something happened. And they cut the feed. There's no two ways about it. As for what we're seeing now? I bet it was live yesterday and it's being replayed now.

I will now don a tinfoil hat.



The same sort of explosive event has been going on at the location of the current live view, assuming it is live. According to Monkeyfister, the device in the scene is used to control dispersant. According to posters over at the Oil Drum -- who have been watching the explosive events today (apparently there have been a number of them) -- what's going on are tests of the blowout preventer to determine whether it can withstand the "Top Kill" operation which has been repeatedly postponed. They are injecting mud to see what happens, and the explosive release of brown stuff is the mud being vomited back up.

Oddly, it seems perfectly rational. Of course whether it is true or not, who knows? If they hadn't a gone off lying about pretty much everything...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

In Which Ché Pasa Channels Scott Horton

As should be clear by now, I consider denouncing and struggling against puerile "Libertarian" punks like Rand Paul to be just fine and dandy, whereas, more often than not, I will defend someone like Elena Kagan -- or even Arch She Demon Hillary Clinton -- when others are denouncing and struggling against them.

And the difference is....?

Bystander suggested I might be channeling TBogg. I'm sure TBogg would not be channeling my own self!

Meanwhile, there are far more important and fundamental issues before us than this or that individual getting wrung through the Wringer of Scrutiny on a blog post or on national teevee.

For some time I have been making the point that our so-called Justice system is grossly corrupt and politicized to the point of being merely the simulacrum of Justice, not the real thing at all, not even remotely so. And that the Federal system lost all credibility when the Supreme Court sacrificed its integrity to lawlessly decide the election of 2000.

It's been downhill ever since. And yes, I know there were many faults in the system prior to 2000. I know.

Well, Scott Horton has a post up at No Comment "Montesquieu—Tyranny in the Shadow of the Law" which I think encapsulates our overall dilemma when it comes to the very conception of Justice in this country today. It wears the mask of the Law, but it is under the control of certain powerful men and interests. It is, forthrightly, a tyranny, in service to tyranny.

Il n’y a point de plus cruelle tyrannie que celle que l’on exerce à l’ombre des lois et avec les couleurs de la justice...


Let us go now and ponder.
(h/t for the phrase -- which I haven't heard since high school -- to coram nobis over at Glenn's Place.)

Hassan Chop

A brilliant monologue on the... limitations... of Randian Libertarianism

Here's the whole "Hassan Chop" cartoon, for those so inclined.

"It's Mine! Ya unnerstan? Mine, all Mine!"

Puritan Utopia

Utopia was written by Sir Thomas More (whose tribulations have been the subject of several of the posts on this blog) in 1516. Utopia, in turn, was built on Plato's Republic from 4th Century BC Greece.

At the time Sir Thomas wrote, English Puritans were on not yet on the horizon as their fundamentalist sect hadn't jelled sufficiently to be either a political or religious force to be reckoned with. The Puritan sect arose, essentially fully formed, during the reign of Elizabeth I as a reactionary and purifying element in the (and eventually separate from) the Church of England, which itself had recently gone rogue from the Catholic Church as a consequence of Henry VIII's overweaning self-love and his erotic/dynastic desires.

The concepts of the ideal republic that were the touchstone of both Plato's Republic and Sir Thomas's Utopia would become central to radicals and reformists alike throughout the English speaking world and beyond. Some of that influence came to America with the Puritans of New England, and it spread from there. While Puritanism and Utopianism are not the foundation of the American move to Independence, there can be no doubt of their strong influence.

And today, Puritanism and Utopianism are once again arising as answers to what ails the faltering (or in some views, my own included, the extinct) American Republic. We see it in the widespread Fundamentalist Religious movements, and we're seeing it in the Libertarian/Propertarian public figures of Ron and Rand Paul and their ilk which have been so highly "scrutinized" since the Younger Paul's Republican Senate primary victory in Kentucky.

Libertarianism and its narrow-focused brother Propertarianism are Utopian and they are Puritan. They propose a narrowly defined ideal civil society based on theoretical constructs of human nature and what should be, ignoring what is or what has been experienced along Libertarian and Propertarian lines, in favor of constant adherence to and promotion of what the ideal would be and should be if only everyone applied it purely enough. That no one does apply the theoretical concepts of Libertarianism/Propertarianism -- at least not sufficiently for Ultimate Proof of the theories -- is a failing of ruling elites and ignorant masses, not -- at all -- a failing of the political, social, and economic concepts involved, and certainly not a failing of Utopian and Puritan vision. Which, by definition, cannot fail, they can only be failed by cowardly humans who deserve their own misery. So there.

They are Unredeemed. Perhaps Unredeemable. Oh well.

Ron Paul has long been the Voice of Libertarianism in the US Congress, where he has had the seat from Galveston, TX, off and on for many a long year. He claims to be a Constitutionalist, but like many such self-proclaimed Puritans, he is nothing of the kind. It is impossible for someone like Paul, who disputes essentially the entire history of self-government under the Constitution, warts and all, to be a Constitutionalist in any rational sense.

What I've said is that he is a Confederate. And so is his son.

The Constitution of the Confederate States of America (ie: Dixie, the Rebel South as it were) is similar to that of the United States of America, but for that fact that property (specifically and especially property in Negro slaves) has a much more important role in the purpose of Government. It is close to a Propertarian's dream, and because it is otherwise similar to the United States Constitution, so similar as to be identical word for word in many cases (somewhat like the US Bill of Rights is sometimes word for word similar to the English Bill of Rights of 1689, though the two had very different purposes), there might be something of a Constitutional Confusion in the minds of so-called Constitutionalists like the Pauls. Just what Constitution are they referring to? Hm?

Property is so central to the Libertarian/Propertarian Puritan Utopia that Ron and Rand Paul, in defending their "concerns" about the Civil Rights Act, the Fair Housing Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act, and so on, essentially declared them "unconstitutional" insofar as they interfere with or regulate the use of private property by their private owners. An argument can be made -- and certainly was made by the property-obsessed Owners of the South (and elsewhere) back in the day -- that legal prohibitions on segregated public accommodations violate some sacred notion of private property. It is difficult, nay impossible, to find that sacredness in the US Constitution as amended, because it isn't there. It is, however, in the Confederate Constitution, and it is implied in the Articles of Confederation that preceded the adoption of the Constitution of the United States.

The struggle with the South -- and parts of the West -- has been over the primacy of private property rights ever since. Libertarians/Propertarians are as focused on the primacy of private property as any Georgia Cracker ever was.

And their claims of adoration of the Constitution of the United States ring hopelessly hollow. Securing, protecting and defending private property rights is not the prime objective of the United States Constitution; in fact, property rights barely enter into it at all.

However, those protections and defenses missing from the US Constitution are in the Confederate Constitution, and they are implied (through the primacy of States Rights) in the Articles of Confederation.

The Private Property Utopia was neither the intention nor the outcome of the adoption of the United States Constitution, but there have been many opportunities for individuals and groups to form Utopias within the United States -- based on pretty much anything they want. They haven't succeeded. There are and have been extraordinary opportunities within the United States to acquire, develop and prosper from private property, but always under some form of lawful taxation and restrictions. The absolutist notion of rights in property that are so fundamental to the the Libertarian/Propertarian world view (and achieving their Utopia) are simply not part of the framework of American law and governance.

Consequently the Puritan Utopia of Private Property -- which is fundamentally what Libertarianism and Propertarianism are all about -- is not American, as in the United States of America. It is, however, a principle of the Confederation and the Confederate States.

The Perfesser Chomsky explains it all for you:

Private Tyranny - the Libertarian Wet Dream and Utopia

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Ratchet Effect

I want to expand just a little bit on my closing thoughts in my previous post on the KY It-boy == about process with regard to "opening the discussion," whether it's a discussion about torture, restriction/elimination of civil liberties for accused terrorists, or the current ill-informed discussion about "re-visiting" public accommodations aspects of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the laws that have grown out of it.

Once these discussions have been "opened" the course of events only moves (easily) in one direction. And the direction it moves is typically that which those who open the discussion desire. It is the Ratchet Effect in action.

Torture was not open to "reasonable" discussion prior to Alan Dershowitz putting for this notorious notions on numerous television appearances shortly after the tragedy of 9/11. Widespread restrictions on basic civil liberties were not open to discussion prior to the "reasonable" discussion of doing so concomitant with the advent of the Patriot Act and all the hinking of due process and worse that went with it -- thanks to Joe Lieberman and Little Lindsey Graham. Non discrimination in public accommodations was not open to "reasonable" discussion prior to Rand Paul running his yap on NPR, Rachel Maddow and a raft of other places.

And now that these issues have been put in the Public Square, look! It's almost magical. Torture is accepted by the millions, civil liberties are considered quaint, and no doubt the public accommodations aspects of civil rights law will be found to have fallen into disfavor ("no longer needed," don't you know) and private businesses will once again be allowed to discriminate any way they see fit.

Which was the objective of opening the discussion in the first place.

Much as I mock and disparage him, I don't actually blame Rand Paul for this; I get the sense from him that he doesn't have any real grounding among the Peoples of the Earth, he's just a floating head, operating on automatic. No, the responsibility for this should be put where it belongs, with the factions of the Ruling Class who are and have long been intent on reversion -- or as they call it: Progress -- to a Liberated Utopia, for them.

They've been doing everything they can to throw off legal restraints on their behavior and profits for generations, and they are utterly focused and relentless. The "reasonable" discussion of workarounds for, repeal of, or ignoring the public accommodations provisions of civil rights law is just one more step down that path.

This comes out of the desires of the Ruling Class and their media enablers. It is not, solely, the responsibility of Li'l Rand.

It just isn't.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

On the KY It-Boy, Nitwit (Now with Update!)

[Tedious little peckerhead (h/t gunnison @ FDL) Rand Paul, MD]

I've commentated about Li'l Paul, who I've dubbed the KY "It-Boy", in several fora, mostly lambasting him for his mind-numbing Propertarian clap-trap and general incoherent babbling, but it's looking more and more (at least for the moment) that he actually might represent a Problem for The Powers That Be.

He's supposed to be a part of the Establishment like his Daddy. Oh, his designated role within that Establishment is to be on the Farthest Right Propertarian Fringe and to get the Cracker Vote all riled up and to appeal to some of the younger elements in the Propertarian/Libertarian firmament.

But he's journeyed off the reservation on the matter of the Civil Rights Act and apparently other things, and though he's apparently been provided with study material and the appropriate talking points -- "Moi? Why I support the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in its entirety; I can't imagine why you would think otherwise. Ha ha ha ha ha." -- I've got this sense about him that he may try to break free of his handlers, somewhat like Half-Term Sarah did, and go for something else again. Something even more populist... shall we say.

The fear of Rightist populism is completely justified given its blood-soaked history in the 20th Century -- and I'm not just talking about the Nazis.

Rightist populism has a long history in this country, too, not least in the South.

And this nitwit comes along and starts pumping it up again, after several decades of deflation.

"We've come to take the Government back." Not take the country back, you notice. That was Dr. Dean's theme, and some observers would say that Dean and the Deaniacs got pretty much what they wanted -- or at least what they were working for, whether they knew it or not -- with the capture of all three branches of Government by Democrats.

What a disappointment that's been. But that's another topic. One day I'll have to go into some of my experiences working on the Dean campaign, and how some of the same enthusiasm and personnel were transferred to the Obama campaign, as were some of the delusions. But not just yet.

"Take the Government back..." There's a lot of code-talk in the KY It-Boy's campaign designed to appeal to the fine upstanding Southern white boys who have felt their Government was taken from them by all these uppity darkies and wimmen, especially the darkie in the White House, but including dames like Mrs. Pelosi and the Always Arch She-Demon, Hillary.

So they're gonna send Ron Paul's nitwit son to sit in the Senate to git 'er done. Don't laugh. It could happen.

Nitwit though he may be, and with a birdsnest of curls on top of his very swelled head (h/t some commenter at FDL), Rand Paul strikes me as quite possibly the charismatic Rightwing Populist leader Half-term Sarah has been pretending to be on her road show. It's more than obvious that Half-term Sarah is in it for the money -- which she is making hand over fist -- just like Glenn Beck, the other potential RW Populist leader -- until the KY It-Boy came along.

Despite the fact that the Big Republican Leadership is trying to train up Li'l Paul to behave on the stump, it looks like this babbling boy is bucking the grownups and forging his own path. Half-term Sarah was apparently purchasable for hard cash, but I'm not at all sure Rand Paul can be bought. And if he can't be, Katie Bar the Door. He's got an immense ego, and he's already let his primary victory swell his curly haired head up so much he can't even get it through ordinary doors anymore.

If he continues to try to rally the reactionary Crackers -- which he's doing with every teevee appearance -- it's possible the Government will have (another) BIG problem on its hands.

The Arizona Thing was kind of a harbinger, along with the huge amount of public approval Arizona's pissant reactionary behavior is garnering.

We're going down a path we've been down before, and it's one that doesn't end happy.

Here's Rachel asking some questions of America:

But I think she's being somewhat disingenuous. The little Cracker twerp has backflipped and backtracked all over the place for the last 24/36 hours over the "Civil Rights" Thing -- scare quotes intentional -- and in the process has managed to convince a portion of the Big Media that the Controversy is meaningless, a tempest in a teapot, he's just a Normal Guy who wants to be Free, come on, anyway.

And of course plenty of his partisans and flacks, who believe as he does on the larger question of the Sacredness of Property Rights (as opposed to Human Rights), are styling him as Perfectly Normal as well. The "Civil Rights" Thing being long settled. You see.

Rachel touches on it toward the end of her soliloquy, but it is in a very arch and abstract way, laying out "questions" issue-by-issue, just barely relating them to the whole, ie: the Libertarian World View.

But it is really more fundamental than that.

Is it the Right to and in Private Property more important to Americans in the 21st Century than Human Rights?

Should interest in Property trump every other interest at all in the law?

Should the acquisition, holding, and defense of Property be the central focus of American society, law and custom?

Does the Constitution protect and defend Property at the expense of all other rights and interests?

When the questions are asked this way, the inherent dangers of Pauliac Propertarianism to all other rights and interests takes on focus. Its fundamental anti-Constitutionalism, and the impossibility of Constitutional Self-Government under Pauliac Propertarian law is revealed.

So long as the focus remains on the "Civil Rights" Thing, the danger that Propertarianism represents to all mankind is masked. ("Of course I believe in Civil Rights! Heh.") Of course. And if those civil rights -- and the concept of Human Rights -- are trumped by Property Rights... oh well!


Furthermore: The process of "opening the discussion" of the Civil Rights Act and the Public Accommodations provisions reminds me a whole lot of the means by which the issue of torture was put in the Public Square when time was, and how, over the course of the "rational discussion" that ensued, and the careful weighing of the pros and cons, the ethical and moral "dilemmas", and all the practical considerations -- along with plenty of field practice -- it was determined that the public was actually split on the issue, and while the Obama White House promptly prohibited "torture" -- which wasn't going on anyway according to the Cheneys -- everyone expects it's still going on. And few care.

Transfer that same process to key civil rights issues, whether focused on accommodation or otherwise. We've already seen what's happened with the Arizona law requiring you to produce your papers. Americans by and large are all in favor. Well, if the civil rights and accommodation issues are "aired thoroughly" -- as they will be as long as people keep yapping about Rand Paul's outrageousness -- we'll find, surprisingly enough, that the Public is "split" on the issue.

And won't that enable justification for ignoring the laws?


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Note About "La Musica"

A couple of weeks ago I added a wiget to this site from that -- I'm sure is annoyingly apparent -- plays music upon landing here. The playlist is my selection, mostly (for now) Latin music that I happen to like for one reason or another, together with some older and newer country, western swing, bits of classical/opera and, of course, Piaf.

Much of it, obviously is not in English. As for me, I can get by (with lots of study, or some native-speaking help) in Spanish and French, can sort of stumble along in German, Italian, Portuguese, and Russian, and if I have time to practice, I can cough up some phrases in Mandarin Chinese and Japanese. I know some words in Cherokee and the Navajo language, and while I studied Irish, I am still a complete dunce both speaking and reading that impossible tongue. (In fact, I discovered that Irish Gaelic is not nearly as hard as it seems to be from trying to read it or make any kind of sense of its written form. I asked a man from Belfast once why written Irish was so difficult. He said, "Ah m'lad, it's so the British Bastards won't know what we're talkin' about." And he laughed. Honestly, he didn't know what I was talking about. To him, written Irish was perfectly clear... OK....)

From time to time, I expect I will add and remove selections from the playlist as it is not hard to do. Personally, I like to leave the playlist open while I surf other sites. I added it in part because from the outset of this blog I was including YouTube music videos that I either liked or that illustrated a point, but of course they scroll off or they're deleted from YouTube and are no longer available. So with the playlist, I can have some of the music I like easily accessible any time.

I know it can be very annoying, however, to have to listen to somebody else's musical selections. It's easy to turn it off: just press "pause."

It is set on "random selection" and jumps all over the list. If you see something on the list you want to hear, click on the title and it will start playing. The next one that plays will not be what's next on the list, it will be a random selection.

If you want a playlist of your own (and I am not being paid nor am I an agent) just go to, sign up and search for whatever suits your fancy. There are an immense number of tunes to choose from, all free, unless you want to pay 2.99 a month to have a player on your own site without ads. It can be a little tricky to add the player to your site, but the instructions are pretty clear.

And if you are really, really annoyed with the one here, let me know.

Change is good.

On the Gulf Oil Gusher

This is one of those classic fear-driven Doomsday Events, proto-Apocalyptic End-Times Revelations and so on that frequently just turn me off.

The media -- to the extent I've been aware of the coverage (recall, there is no cable "news" in my home, but I do look at the papers, read the Intertube reports and occasionally watch NewsHour and listen to NPR) -- seems to largely serve as a mask for what is really going on, has been that from the beginning when their Narrative was all about the Grand Romantic Heroes (of BP) that were Manfully Throwing Themselves into the breech.

Inaccurate reporting abounded, still does, and BP (and the Oil Industry) is always given the lead voice in any on-air discussion of the disaster. BP has been spinning like mad, simply not giving complete information, correct information, or useful information about the Gusher in the Gulf and what anyone is doing to staunch the flow of oil.

Because the fact of the matter is that nobody is doing a doG-damned thing to stop the oil flow, and they never have.

From all appearances, neither BP nor the Government have any interest in stopping it. The only efforts to date have focused on capturing the oil for later sale and distribution.

Over the next few months, another well may (or may not) be drilled to enable the shut-down of this one, but that's far in the future if it happens at all. They want the oil, pure and simple, and they are working tirelessly to figure out a way to capture it -- for sale and distribution.

So far as we can tell from the paucity of information available, the Predicted Environmental Catastrophe due to the Gusher in the Gulf hasn't materialized, and possibly it won't. At least not the way the breast beaters and garment renders have speculated it would. On the other hand, it may ultimately be worse than anyone imagined. We don't know. This appears to be due to the nature of the oil itself: it is not the heavy crude that fouled the Santa Barbara beaches in 1969 and that leaked out of the Exxon Valdez in 1989. Instead, it is much lighter and apparently contains lots of volatiles that evaporate quickly at the surface. So far as we know, little of the oil has reached shore, and what has was relatively easily and efficiently cleaned up. There has been little -- known -- impact on larger animals and birds, though fisheries are shut down.

It seems, from reports, that the Catastrophe is Not So Bad, and that the Powers That Be are doing the necessary work to contain, if not actually control, the Gusher and any damage it might cause.

But we don't know.

Which, quite naturally, I think, leads to some comparisons with Chernobyl. The Soviets seemed to be relatively forthcoming -- certainly compared to past performances in Calamities -- about the Chernobyl disaster and what was being done about it. But in fact we now know that the Chernobyl reactor disaster was far worse than reports or even speculation would have it at the time, and that as "forthcoming" as the Soviets appeared to be, they weren't, certainly not with regard to the consequences for the Ukraine or Russia or Europe. Radiation exposure levels were far higher than was acknowledged, many more lives were lost in trying to deal with the Catastrophe or as a consequence of environmental degradation, many, many more people were displaced than was indicated at first and so on. We saw at the time that the Authorities didn't know what to do, and what they came up with, The Sarcophagus to enclose the ruined reactor, was almost impossible to accomplish, and didn't work initially. It had to be built over, and what I understand is that it has deteriorated so much, it's going to have to be rebuilt again.

In other words, as bad as the Chernobyl Disaster was reported to be, it was actually far worse. And more than 20 years later the area has not recovered. Nor is it in some ways ever expected to recover.

The Chernobyl Disaster happened at the penultimate moment for the Soviet Union and to my mind it sealed the fate of the Soviet Authority and Empire. It was the Death Knell, something that some people understood at the time. It would take a few more years, but shortly, the Soviet Union would dispose of its Imperial possessions and internally collapse -- from weariness, among other things. Weariness that so much promise had been abused and frittered away. That so many grand plans had never been realized, and that so much that had been built by the Workers' State was so shoddy and ultimately dangerous to life and limb and the Future.

The Soviet Union was on life support by the time the Chernobyl reactor went critical. And the Soviet Union finally expired. With nary a peep and hardly any bloodshed. The End of the Soviet Union was, like its beginning, one of the most remarkable political and social transformations in world history, but the beginning of it has had far more attention paid by historians than its end. It's almost as if the collapse of the Soviet Union hasn't really settled in to conscious understanding yet. Not only does what happened remain veiled (even though much, much information is in the Public Record) the actual reasons for it and lessons learned remain a Mystery.

As if no one really wants to deal with it.

It was, after all, an earth-shaking event the consequences of which have been global and not necessarily positive -- if you're not in the Upper One Percent.

Certainly the consequences for Russia and its former Imperial possession have been economically and socially catastrophic for the millions -- but wonderfully rewarding for the few. It's not all that different in much of the rest of the world, including the United States, which is trending more in the direction of Soviet-style Imperialism and Authoritarianism (but not Totalitarianism) every day, while exploiting the masses with glee and abandon.

I don't know whether the Gulf Oil Gusher is the penultimate event of Our Own Imperial Selves. It's too soon to tell, but it certainly has the potential to be a worse physical, economic and social disaster than Chernobyl was for the Soviet Union.

Oh my yes.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Chris Floyd Explains It All For You (Again...)

Just go read it. It's brilliant. Creeping Terror: The New American Way of War

In sum:

.... That's the American way of war. Creep, sneak, kill, run, lie – repeat. Sure, it only makes things worse, creates more enemies, keeps the wars going. But isn't that the point? Check it out, baby: they're piling an extra $33.5 billion of prime war pork on top of the mountain of Terror War funding already laid out for this year! And you need a whole lot of blood to wash down that meat – and a whole lot of new enemies to make sure the feast never ends.

I'd just add that the entire Anglo-American Warfighting effort these days seems to be based on a dirtier, more technologically adept version of Operation Phoenix in Vietnam, and the direct rather than indirect application of terror campaigns against civilian targets, including torture and massacres, based on the Central American Bloodbath of the Reagan years.


Freedom! Fuck yeah!

"Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn! They took the offer! Shi!t!"

[Seen above, Anglo-American-Israeli Fever Dream of Annihilating Tehran]

So I was half-watching the NewsHour last night. It's one of the very few programs on the teevee I ever watch, and generally speaking, I tune out and do other things whenever Gwen Ifill or Judy Woodruff do their comedy stylings as hostesses. Ifill is such a suck-up to Power (as she conceives of it) and Woodruff is a Right Wing Freak (though she tones it down on PBS), but I digress.

The topic was Iran's acceptance of the deal that it was offered last fall to transfer its low enriched uranium stockpiles out of the country in order to delay or avoid some sanctions.

Iran "blinked" as it were.

You would think the US of A -- and the media -- would be high-stepping and twirling their batons like mad and the Obama Administration would be sending out Hillary or Rahm or Axelrod to do all the shows and crow Triumph.

But no.

Oh, far from it.

Instead, Judy had a couple of neo-con drones on to bemoan the fact that the deal Iran accepted (with the considerable help and encouragement of Brazil and Turkey) should have been taken off the table a long time ago, and this is just terrible. We're doomed!

Isn't that special.

Judy's question to the drones: "What's going on here? What -- what is this deal about Turkey and Brasil [her lips curled with distaste] working out an arrangement with Iran? What do they get -- what does each side get -- out of this?"

Of course they go into a mutual tailspin, rending their garments and covering themselves with ashes, because...


Well, so far as I can parse it, this deal was worked out behind the scenes between the high contracting parties: Brazil, Turkey, and Iran, without the help and assistance of the Big Powers, US, EU and Russia. Although apparently Brazil and Turkey were authorized by the Big Powers, through the UN, to do just what they did, they did what they did without the direct participation of the US State Department, and they concluded the agreement without the knowledge of State or any other Stakeholder -- and that's what all the pissing and moaning in Washington is about.

That and the fact that Everyone Who Matters is utterly convinced of Iran's Nuclear Perfidy and wants desperately to nuke Tehran and Isfahan to teach those Wogs a lesson they will never forget and cow the Muslim masses into ultimate submission to their Anglo-American-Israeli and EuroWeenie masters.

It's a revenge fantasy they won't let go of.

Setting aside the Israeli need to exact revenge on the Iranians (for what, it's not exactly clear since Israel and Iran have frequently collaborated on Mischief and Perfidy), the American government's grudge against Iran is obvious enough: revenge for the humiliation of 1979. Why anybody else would need revenge against Iran is one of the Great Mysteries.

The loud and persistent drumbeat of War against Iran is apparently grounded in the fantasy or the fear that Iran is trying to gain the capability to make nuclear weapons!!!! Iran is trying to make... the Bomb!!!! Maybe so, but there is not a shred of concrete evidence of it, and yet Israel and the United States consistently behave as if it is Proven Fact, and not just their mutual hysteria.

It's Cheney's One Percent Doctrine still ruling the roost in DeeCee.

What's up with that?

My objection to the segment on the NewsHour, apart from my crabbiness at Woodward on principle, was that it was so skewed to neo-conism, without the slightest acknowledgment that there is any other point of view. It was propaganda, pure and simple.

"No contribution for you, PBS!" But then, I haven't contributed to them for many years.

Watch the NewsHour segment:

Then take a look at Russia Today's news report below. World of difference, eh?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

And This Is All I'll Have To Say About That (Yeah, right...)

The Kagan Thing has got the whole Lefty Blogosphere into a frenzy, some of it -- well, a good deal of it -- stirred up by "Glennzilla". Elena Kagan has been ritualistically smeared on the premise that she is such an unknown quantity that she will move the Supreme Court to the Right, which will be disastrous for the Nation (and the Blessed Constitution) for thirty or forty years to come (she's only 50 after all, and SCOTUS justices live forever, don't they?) and we can't have that.

So the so-called Left on the Intertubes has been denouncing and struggling against her and all her slim volume of works, vying with one another to come up with the most outrageous accusation against her short but sturdy self.

(Side note, and digression: I made an offhand comment at one point in the Kagan Struggles about short, aggressive women I have known and how they have demonstrated their brass gonads.

There have been several, but I was thinking of one in particular when I wrote that. Her name was Linda, and she and I worked together (many) years ago in New York and Florida. She was just under five feet tall, sturdy, with a round open face much like Kagan's, and when I first heard Kagan talk, she sounded just like Linda. Linda was known for her forcefulness, and for her refusal to take shit from anyone, most especially not from anyone who professed to claim authority when they were in the wrong. She was known for vicious putdowns, delivered not only with a smile, but sometimes with a sly veil of politeness that their victim wouldn't recognize as a put down at all for days -- though everyone else knew. Linda made friends very easily, knew her own business very well, she was kind and generous to a fault, and she was loyal without compromising her own principles. She was very ambitious, and for the most part very successful. I lost touch with her when I decided I'd had enough of the gypsy life I'd been living, much of it east of the Mississippi, and returned to California. [Digression on the digression: I Googled Linda up a little while ago to see what she's up to, and well. How very interesting. Last I knew, she'd just taken a job at Boston University, was preparing to move from her Brooklyn flat, very excited and all. Some 20+ years ago. Now she's apparently at the University of Chicago (!), in a completely different though arguably tangential field, got her doctorate, and she is pimping her research into the arcana of a very narrow aspect of computer animation. She has hundreds of papers and research projects she's completed, alone and with others, and I'm just stunned. My doG, what has she become? Good going, Linda!] But I never forgot her, and if Kagan is anything like her, I have no doubt she'll have a considerable and potentially very positive impact on the Court, if only by not yielding to the bullshit put out by those like Scalia and Thomas... [/digression])

What I saw happening reminded me of other episodes on the Internets, for example, when Barbara Boxer expressed her support for Lieberman in the Connecticut Senate primary all those years ago, FDL exploded with denunciations, the most original of them being that Boxer "is a cloth-coat Republican!" for supporting Lieberman. Oh. Kay. Indeed, the attacks on Boxer were so over the top, and such an anti-Boxer mob was formed over there, that I spoke out against it, in my most Atticus Finch mode, and got my tit run through the wringer more than a couple of times for my trouble. My point was that Boxer was one of the very few actual Progressives in the Senate, and smearing her -- because of her expressed support for her colleague Senator Lieberman -- while ignoring her contributions, indeed often denouncing her Progressive contributions, was simply stupid and was not going to advance The Supposed Progressive Cause that FDL was ostensibly promoting. Many people at FDL took offense and some still harbor grudges about it. I was accused of trying to "deny them the right" to denounce whoever they wanted for whatever reason they thought appropriate. Um. Sure.

It's not about the "right" to do this or that -- or to get as crazy as you want to. It's about critical thinking. And understanding the difference between allies and enemies. It's about listening. It's about rational consideration. And it's about respect.

I defended Hillary when anti-Hillary-mobs were cruising the Internets denouncing her and accusing her of all manner of perfidy during the 2008 primaries, digging up every conceivable accusation from the Clinton White House Era, and making up some new ones, and parading it all around as Gospel Truth Revealed. I pointed out that Hillary was actually running to the Left of Obama, for one thing, and that he was even more of a corporate, imperialist warmonger than they were accusing her of being. So I was (hilariously) accused of being a "Hillarybot, a shill! Burrrrn him!"

There have been other, similar, incidents. And when I saw the same sort of outrageous mob action to smear Kagan forming at Glenn's instigation, I made some remarks about it. To say the least.

I don't buy the premise that Kagan will "move" the Court to the Right, for the simple reason that it is already far, far to the Right. She can't "move" it rightwards, any more than Stevens could move it Left. The notion is absurd on its face. The Court IS a Rightist, corrupt abomination. She can join it. She can't move it.

So right out of the gate, the initial premise for attacking her is simply false.

Along that line, to my somewhat jaundiced way of looking at things, Kagan simply cannot make much of a difference at all in how this Court functions nor in its Rightist rulings on behalf of Power and Money. She can dissent if she wants, she can concur. It won't make a difference. The majority will still be a Rightist, corrupt cabal, quite possibly religiously insane, for whom the concept of Justice is alien. And they will continue to rule in their accustomed manner. Regardless.

And then there is this: 12/12/2000.

That's the date the Supreme Court of the United States, after a long period of decline, gave up any pretense of institutional integrity, by its lawless interference and decision in the election. Bush v Gore marked the end of the Court's institutional standing as upholder of the law and the Constitution. The Court has made many errors in its long history, but this one was fundamental, as serious a category error as it is possible for the Court to make. And that gross error was promptly compounded by a series of errors -- Al Gore's concession, the Senate going along with the Court's ruling, and Bush accepting the Presidency.

It was not a "slow-motion coup." It was very fast, and from the moment the Court rendered its Bush v Gore decision, the Court's legitimacy collapsed. That would be followed by the collapse of the legitimacy of Congress which accepted the ruling. Al Gore's political legitimacy faltered when he conceded the election based on the Supreme Court's ruling, and he lost it completely when he told the Congressional Black Caucus to -- in essence -- sit down and shut up and stop objecting. And then the Presidency lost its legitimacy when Bush bustled into the office without a backward glance at how he had got there.

We've been living amid the wreckage of a now defunct Constitutional Republic ever since, while the Governing Class (Our Rulers, as it were) have been busy putting together an anti-Constitutional Imperial State, getting closer and closer to arbitrary rule by Decree from the Throne every day. Kagan's presence or absence from the Court will make not a bit of difference in that enterprise, but she wouldn't have been chosen if she had any serious objection to it. Nor would Obama been able to ascend to the Throne if HE had any serious objection. And so on.

Given that context, all this anti-Kagan crap is so much bullshit, more rearranging of the deck chairs, if you will.

Lots of people are still holding on to the shreds and tatters of What Used to Be, of course. It's human nature. I do it myself. But the fact is, we don't have a "legitimate government" in a Constitutional sense, we haven't had one for a decade, and it's not coming back. That game's been over for quite a while now.

What we're playing now is the Mitigation Game. For example, by putting a Good Emperor on the Throne, things are supposed to be "better." Yet we see the Imperium doesn't change back into a Republic; if anything, consolidation of the Imperial State is accelerated. Yet by being less crazy than McPalin, of course the Obama Reign is "better." It's self evident, yes?

Congress has shown itself to be a hopelessly corrupt body, essentially unable to function on behalf of the People it is supposed to represent. And the courts and the so-called "Justice" Department as a whole are just as corrupt and anti-Constitutional as the Imperial Executive, and for all intents and purposes, the most critical outrages of the Bush/Cheney Regime abide unmolested.

So what do you do? Work yourself into a spit-spewing frenzy over... Elena Kagan?


The Problem is so much greater than her. Really.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hard Concepts

The other day Ezra The Tool (but they say he puts out, so there is that) ran an interview on his WaPo blog with Jamie Galbraith, iconoclast economist.

And the so-called Lefty-blogosphere exploded with denunciations and ad hominems at both Galbraith, who denies the validity of Economic Orthodoxy, and at Ezra The Tool for daring to run an interview with The Heretic as well as your general Anti-Ezra animus.

Every time these sorts of things happen, especially in the so-called Lefty blogosphere, I am intrigued and sometimes alarmed. What is really going on? And in the case of the extended and often completely outrageous denunciations of Galbraith (from so-called Lefties), is it ignorance or... something else?

As a rule, I tend to have little faith in economists of any stripe; they are almost all inclined to declare Ultimate Truths that upon examination prove to be Crocks of Shit. They serve economic and political agendas, their own personal careerist ones, or the agendas of Corporate Masters and/or their Government Hirelings. By and large, and as a profession (so-called), they have no interest whatever in and little knowledge of the "micro-economy" of individuals and communities, and are oblivious to the consequences for the masses of following their advice (if it is even comprehensible enough to follow). To say they "don't care" about anything but the private accumulation of as much more wealth as humanly possible by those who already have more wealth than they can count is to be charitable.

They and lawyers should be first against the wall when the Revolution comes.

But that's unlikely to happen in my lifetime, so I tend to be attracted to what little economic theory there is that actually pays attention to those consequences for the masses that are so often ignored or dismissed.

(As a side note, in order to understand Obama's extraordinary level of economic fealty to American and global corporate and financial interests, and to help comprehend the astonishing level of White House indifference to the economic plight of the masses, it might be wise to remember that Obama's grandmother -- who was his primary caregiver growing up -- was a banker, and his father -- who essentially abandoned him -- was an Kenyan economist who got his undergraduate degree at the University of Hawaii and his masters at Harvard in the early 1960's. The Hooverite economic policies coming out of the White House are no accident. And don't doubt for a moment that his ascent to the Throne wasn't smoothed by billionaires and finaciers who saw that Obama had their interests at heart.)

Galbraith is one of the economists I pay at least glancing attention to. I am not a devotee of his or of any other Alternative Economist, nor do I subscribe to any particular Economic School or Theory. All I know is that current fashionable economic theory is based on unfettered plunder and rapine of the "weak" by the "strong."

Galbraith denies the validity of the Peterson-and-The-Billionaires' Deficit Hysteria, and I tend to agree with him. In his interview with Ezra, he points out -- accurately, in my view -- that the deficits the government is running right now have essentially "zero" danger. If anything, he advocates even larger deficits in order to put people back to work and get money flowing more freely through the economy. He rigorously disputes the analogy of government debt and household debt. If anything, he seems to believe that government debt should be used to help clear household debt rather than being handed over to the banking institutions to prop up their make-believe solvency and to keep those bubbles (and bonuses) coming.

From the way the anti-Post-Keynesian rabble attack Galbraith for stating the obvious, I suspect they are terrified of Galbraith and his economic heresy. It doesn't look like a rational fear at all, because on the face of it, if Galbraith's Modern Monetary Theory were practiced, the wealth and status of the Ruling Class would be assured in perpetuity -- through the happy agency of building up the economic wherewithal and security of the Lower Orders, instead of practicing the plunder and rapine and the repetitious finance bubbles the Ruling Class currently engages in.

But people who have invested plenty in the current economic system of bubbles, plunder and rapine, and who have grown fat and happy betting that the whole thing will crash and burn -- and are therefore eager to see it happen -- fear any change that would jeopardize their wagers.

I don't think, however, that includes a whole lot of non-elite Lefties.

So it is quite something to see the explosion of rage at Galbraith (and Ezra for interviewing him) at sites like Crooks and Liars, where the Galbraith comment thread is full of denunciations much like the comments on Ezra's interview.

What's up with that?

What are they so very afraid of?

Watch Galbraith on Moyers for more:

Note especially that though the interview with Moyers was recorded in November of 2009, here we are many months later and the outlook for Americans hasn't improved for the most part at all.

Apparently these Galbraithian Heresies are really Hard Concepts for those who are steeped in predatory economics.

No wonder Galbraith's pen is sometimes sharp:

Leading active members of today's economics profession, the generation presently in their 40s and 50s, have joined together into a kind of politburo for correct economic thinking. As a general rule — as one might expect from a gentleman's club — this has placed them on the wrong side of every important policy issue, and not just recently but for decades. They predict disaster where none occurs. They deny the possibility of events that then happen. They offer a "rape is like the weather" fatalism about an "inevitable" problem (pay inequality) that then starts to recede. They oppose the most basic, decent, and sensible reforms, while offering placebos instead. They are always surprised when something untoward (like a recession) actually occurs. And when finally they sense that some position cannot be sustained, they do not re-examine their ideas. Instead, they simply change the subject. -- from How the Economists Got It Wrong, American Prospect, November 30, 2002

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

In Real News

From The Real News Network

This story is really the central issue throughout the Western world. "Billionaires for Social Insecurity" as the folks over at Campaign for America's Future put it.

In the United States, right now, as we speak, millions of Americans are being forced into poverty by the demands of the banksters and looters of Wall Street and Our Ruling Class -- some of whom are featured in the videos above. Vampires like Alan Greenspan, Bob Rubin, and of course the Devil Himself, Peter G. Peterson.

Millions of Americans are being forced out of work, and many of them will never hold a job again. They won't pay into Social Security, and even without the Billionaires' ministrations, their benefits, if they receive any at all, will be substantially lower than if they were able to keep working. Millions are forced into bankruptcy every year, but in many cases they still have to pay off their credit card debts, which, thanks to Joe Biden's "bankruptcy reform act" is a protected form of debt which can be collected essentially in perpetuity.

And here we see our Billionaires quite openly conspiring to cut Social Security and Medicare further for one very simple reason: they don't want to have to pay taxes to make up for the shortfalls in the funds that have resulted from their various forms of corporate and finance sector welfare and their astonishing levels of tax cuts over the years.

In essence, they are openly refusing to be taxed, and they are daring anybody to do anything about it. They will, however, be delighted to consider taxing the lower orders sufficiently to pay for their ever expanding need for wars of aggression.

It's not just happening in Washington, it's happening all over the Western world -- and in many other places as well.

The recently announced bailout of the EuroZone is a plan to pay off the EuroCreditors at 100% of loan value, at the full expense of the People of Europe. They will suffer, as the billionaires think they should, for being profligate and complacent. The banksters who are demanding payment -- extortion, really -- will lose nothing, in fact they will be rewarded for their efforts to loot the treasuries of all of Europe.

And while all this and more is going on, we see continuing focus on Elena Kagan and her inadequacy.

It's sad, really. There are some people on the left-er side of the alternative media who are actually paying attention to this robbery in plain sight. Digby has been covering it extensively for years; it -- like the proliferation of Tasers in this country -- is her own private bailiwick. The mainstream media will only cover it to the extent that they are able to reinforce the faulty premises that underlie the crusade to cut already minimal benefits for millions. Most of the mainstream media is fully behind the Peterson crusade, and they cannot imagine that anyone would disagree.

But the sad thing is that much of the alternative media seems to agree with the deficit scolds and can't figure out that maybe the Petersons and the other billionaires who are pushing this line are wrong. Even if they did figure it out, they wouldn't know what to do about it.

The fact that the Obama White House and Congress apparently agree with Peterson, and practically the entire ruling class of Europe agrees as well -- in the face, of course, of having their own credit restricted -- is a tough nut to crack for many people who might otherwise be bold. The fact that the masses in Europe, but not here, are informed enough about the fraud, the pillage, and the sleight of hand that's being performed to rise up and protest is a hopeful sign.

But there is still no organized resistance.

We have fallen far down the cliff-face; many have already reached the bottom.

What will it take for Americans to say, "Enough!"