All posts by Mr. MacGregor

The Freedom Party

About six-years into the Obama Administration gays and lesbians are no longer as actively discriminated against, and generally allowed more of the full rights of citizenship.

And today, the federal government clarified that it will no longer prosecute legal, or medically legal, formal marijuana distribution in the states.

Despite all of the yammering about “freedom,” with Republicans you get arcane weird abortion restrictions and overtly disenfranchising voter ID laws. With Democrats, slowly, you get more citizens, having more rights and pointless intrusions like marijuana prohibition beginning to melt away.

The “War on Drugs” is the worst legacy of the Nixon Administration: grouchy hippie-punching that has been used to incarcerate minorities, militarize the police force, and created paranoia about surveillance that should always have been purely the purview of preventing 9/11-style attacks.

Indeed, the worst aspect of the War on Drugs has been turning the police into an enemy for people that should be supporting them. No matter how many times the police help one after a car accident, or shoo a whackadoodle out of one’s stoop there is always that THC trepidation.

The War on Drugs totally harshed me mellow, dude. I mean, did you see what God did to us?

Of course, the fact that a hippie punching encrustation from the 60s keeps on disenfranchising minorities is why most of the old Confederacy will maintain their criminalization of da weed. Whatever. Oregon, Vermont, Alaska, California, Hawaii and the rest of the Freedom states will surely follow in Washington and Colorado’s footsteps and reap the benefits of more commerce and revenue and a less distracted police force. Just as it should be.

This is one of those things that I always thought would happen, but never thought I would necessarily see happen.

Suddenly, Police in Helicopters becomes even more of an anachronism. Kinda’ feel like celebrating.

I Have a Feeling…..

That we may, at long last, be witnessing a left-wing Goldwaterian win-by-losing sort of moment in Texas. Yes, the absurdist the-only-thing-the-many-tribes-of-conservatron-can-agree-on-is-abortion thing will come to pass in Texas, but just by being opposed Wendy Davis and the Texocrats will be setting themselves up. Not necessarily because the law is stupid (although it is), but because it is irrelevant to everyone but the people it hurts.

This calls to mind the high water mark of the Conservatron counter-strike. The precipice of the reactionary tendency in American politics that became fundamentally victorious in 1968 but was relegated to Loserdom in 2006. The Iraq War redux? No. That was the most consequential representation of reactionary conservatism, but not the most pure. The most pure was Terry Schiavo. Remember her? In so much that what happened to her is meaningless from a practical perspective for everyone that is not Terry Schiavo or actually knows her, then you may not. She was the gal with the brain damage that a bunch of religious folk felt was important to keep alive because of a bunch of shit that has nothing to do with the price of gas and food, and whether or not I’ll get paid next week. Pretty stupid, yeah. But the Conservatrons fought a war of choice over this and turned it into a national issue. The barnacles in the media filter fed it and it dominated the news.

Most people did not care for the government inserting itself into something private and, generally, meaningless. The Conservatrons have been in retreat since. These last few weeks may have been their Alamo in Texas.

Bring on "The Purge"

I love me a good sci-fi/thriller/horror movie. They are the sage fools of film. By being outlandish in concept they get to reveal the underlying pathologies of the era in a way a “serious” work could not. “The Fly” was one of the best films of the 80s. It explored everything — crack/heroin/meth, AIDS, and, yes Virginia, abortion (gasp!) — without directly mentioning a one of them (except for maybe abortion; she was trying to abort a pupa though. I mean c’mon!). And The Fly dissolves a guy’s foot with his vomit and then sucks up the foot’n'vomit glop. It’s nice to have an Other.

Better still is the dystopia. Unless there are zombies. Zombies are boring. But a good sci-fi dystopia should reveal the underlying humanity of the characters against the backdrop of whatever Big Change has organized the future into something unrecognizable. This underlying unreality should provide the opening to tell us something about society today. And if it’s a great movie, it will tell us or, like “The Fly”, at least explore things we know but perhaps don’t care to think about.

So, it is with great eagerness that I await “The Purge”. Here’s the set up: In the 2020s America is prosperous, safe and happy because for one night a year all crime is legal and all emergency services are suspended. We The People regulate ourselves in a bloody free-for-all. One typical but wealthy family is holed up for Purge Night, but the young boy lets in a man who is being chased by Purgers, and his assailants come looking for him.

“The Purge” is being marketed as a political film. The start of the trailer heralds the joyous statistics of the future like a campaign commercial (unemployment at 1%, crime at an all time low) and most of the last third of the trailer is scored by a direful rendition of “America the Beautiful” sung by creepy kidlets. The fake website for the film includes the platform of the “New Founders of America” that have created the Purge. Methinks the film has a point to make.

What separates America from other first-world democracies is that we hate each other. Indeed, we have always hated each other. Our history is bloody and since Watergate if not WWII the only time our political system accomplishes much is in a crisis or through a legislative strongman like LBJ. We combine third world tribalism with more-or-less first world infrastructure and institutions (at least on paper). And, lets face it, we have purged. Ask the Native Americans, the slaves in the Old South, or the child laborers of the Robber Baron era. Most of us were Purged during the Great Economic Collapse. I consider myself one of the lucky ones and my pay has been frozen for three years while my condo is worth about 2/3rds of what I bought it for. Meanwhile, the wealthiest have gotten wealthier and the remaining big banks have gotten bigger, having purged their competition. I’m alive and healthy, but my wallet was assuredly Purged.

Is there a better picture for what lies beneath the United States than controlled violence and mayhem? Perhaps “The Purge” will be a modern “Young Goodman Brown,” but instead of finding out that our townspeople are secretly sexy, maypole frolicking witches as Hawthorne’s hero did, we find that are fellow citizens really are ready to act on their mutual hatred.

Or…. Maybe “The Purge” will be twenty minutes of interesting set up, followed by 70 minutes of home-invasion (The safe space. Violated!) thrills with, maybe, a decent denouement. It wouldn’t be the first time a shitty movie had an intriguing trailer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lekx_ZlqyWk

In Which Thomas Friedman Accidently Reveals the Lingering Angst of the Fear Years

Thomas Friedman is the direct middleman of the NY Times’ Axis-Of-Centrist-Pseuds. To his right is Affirmative Action poster boy David Brooks (would his skills really merit NY Times columnist-dom if he wasn’t a “conservative”) who tried to concisely argue right-wing boilerplate early in his career, only to get picked apart by the Times’ letter writers. Brooks has since enveloped himself in arm chair human interaction “science” and become the slow lovechild of William Safire and Malcolm Gladwell. To Freidman’s left is Maureen Dowd whose modus operandi is to parallel the popular movie or TV of the moment with the latest DC palace intrigue — the sort of PoMo jab that would have been clever in a Freshman composition class at one of those New England colleges that starts with a “B” if it were 1983.

But it is T-Fried himself that is the Centrist Pseuds Centrist Pseud. It is he that will  declare that, look guys, we would get real about global warming and globalization if only there was a “centrist” compromise on the debt and the next six months will be crucial to the outcome of the war in Iraq because I talked to this cab driver in India and the Internet! Not all of T-Fieds ideas are wrong, but he is a bloviator who likes to point out how serious and important big THINGS are without contributing new thoughts or having any actual responsibility for any outcomes. He likes to pretend he’s at the table when the crucial decisions are made. No wonder he wound up being amongst the most egregious and pathetic of the Iraq War II Bush Patsies.

So it was startling and frustrating to read his column shortly after the Boston Marathon bombings, but before the perpetrators and their motives were known. “Fortunately,” spake T-Fried, “we don’t frighten easily anymore. You could feel it in the country on Tuesday morning. We’ve been through 9/11. We probably overreacted then, but never again. We tracked down Osama bin Laden with police and intelligence work, and we’ll do the same in this case.”

To which I responded, “Wait a minute Home Slice. YOU may have ‘probably’ over-reacted to 9/11, but I sure as hell didn’t.” Moreover, T-Fried you sure weren’t part of any police work to track him down. Indeed, I believe your advice was “give war a chance.”

Now, obviously I am not part of the “we” that captured and killed bin Laden. But The Friedster is right about the other “we” that “probably” (meaning “actually”) over-reacted to 9/11. I was against Iraq War II and not a cheerleader like Friedman. But Iraq War II was still perpetrated in my name.

Being part of this “we” is likely harder for those that were for Iraq War II or generally pro-Bush, but then changed their minds later. Bush went from amongst the most popular to the least popular presidents in American history over his eight years. But Bush didn’t change. If you went from support to despise, as millions of Americans assuredly did, then you must admit that at best you were duped and at worst your passions were manipulated to overwhelm your reason. Blowhards like Friedman aided and abetted this by puffing up the irrationalization for the war and not pushing back against the dictate that being anti-war/Bush was being anti-American. But at the end of the day the bombs were dropped, the innocents were slaughtered, the WMDs were never found and Iraq War II searched for a meaning like a forlorn hermit crab stalking a shell-less beach, as the casualties mounted.

WE definitely did overreact to 9/11, even if Thomas Friedman is probably too much a douche to admit it, and we all have to own that no matter how much we regret it.

 

The Fear Years, Slowly….

The Fear Years: That miserable epoch from the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01 to Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, about September 1, 2005. In those four years a not-really-elected President started a disastrous war of choice, enacted tax cuts and economic policy that would destroy the economy, and oversaw any number of medium bore policy scandals that fester on as flesh wounds to this day. To oppose any of these ideas, to oppose the Man himself, was said to oppose the Country itself, or to be “with the terrorists” as the “President” Himself put it.

Fear was a condition, a means and an end. The condition of Fear — stoked by the immaculate timing of the the M&M-hued terror “alerts” — created a need to believe in and never critisize the Leader as he found a means to “fight” terror by invading Iraq, the result of which was a seemingly endless conflict that required countless treasure to assure success, or else the terrorists would win in the end.

While this mania waned it did not truly end until Katrina proved that the Bush Regime was too incompetent to even respond to a predicted natural disaster. An electorate that consisted of largely the same people that “elected” Bush twice installed a Democratic Congress in 2006 (over Bush’s declaration that to do so would mean that the terrorists would win) and elected Obama — who seemed, on the surface, to be the antithesis of Bush — in 2008.

It was as if the 2006 repudiation and the 2008 arrival of a “redeemer” would reverse the Fear Years. But that isn’t so. The disasters of the Fear Years still linger over the country. The recent Rachel Maddow documentary on the venal build up to the war in Iraq, and the sinister conflation of Saddam with al Qaeda, is jarring because in its simple factual way it forces the viewer to confront the the mendacity of the time.

Far more effective than the Maddow piece is the last two episodes of the Showtime series “Oliver Stone’s: Untold History of the United States.” “Untold” is the greatest voice-over history documentary ever made. That is not to say that I agree with all of its points. The hero of “Untold” is Henry Wallace, FDRs penultimate vice-president who was removed from the ticket in favor of Harry Truman by Democratic Party bosses at the 1944 Democratic Convention. Stone is convinced that Wallace’s humanism as President after FDR’s death would have crafted a different and better Post-WWII world than Truman’s militarism. Such “what if” speculation is fun, but meaningless. The same militant forces that prevailed upon Truman would have been there with Wallace too. Had he opposed them, perhaps they would have aligned themselves completely with the Republicans and we may have been treated to Reactionary Movement conservatives in power in the 50s and 60s instead of the 80s, 90s and 00s. Or maybe not, who knows and who can know? “Untold” also focuses most of its attention on Foreign Policy. It praises JFK for usurping his generals after the Cuban Missile Crisis and lambasts LBJ for escalating the Vietnam War, but doesn’t mention that it took LBJs legislative genius to pass JFKs program, and then some.

That said, what makes “Untold” so effective is Stone’s artistic genius for images. “Untold” consists of mostly 2 to 7 second visual clips, overspersed with Stone’s narration and emotive, cinematic music. Where there are not visuals, Stone isn’t afraid to offer representation in the form of movies, or even have actors mimic real figures while reading quotes that were unrecorded. The result is a psycahdelic stream-of-visual-consciousness that moves history out of the frontal cortex (where the Maddow documentary presided) into the older, visceral regions of the brain.

It is the willingness to mix emotions and argument that make “Untold” the most effective readily available analysis of Bush II and the Fear Years. In one brilliant sequence, “Untold” flashes through images of the great Coup D’etat of the 2000 election. The GOP putsch in Florida, Jeb Bush, Kathryn Harris, the Supreme Court, Bush’s rainy inaugural. The music is a stringy, blues version of the national anthem played at a pace so slow that it becomes an elegy. “It started with the 2000 election itself,” Stone intones. “The most scandalous in U.S. history. Wounding, perhaps fatally, the notion of democracy in this country…. Behooving the shenanigans of a banana republic the US Supreme Court intervened to stop a recount of the votes…”

It’s there, in all its stupidity and agony. Condoleeza Rice’s “nobody could’ve predicted…”. Bush’s “either you’re with us or you’re with the terrorists” (“Imagine any citizen in any country of the world being told by a man like this, ‘you’re either with us or against us.’”). The Patriot Act. Wire Tapping. Gitmo. Torture. “WMDs”. “The smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud”. Conflating Iraq with al qaeda. (“The descent into unreality was dizzying.”) The parade of ex-generals selling the war on TV while being employed by defense contractors.

“Untold” hits the mark, but it doesn’t linger quite long enough before moving on to harsh Obama for maintaining a similar military complex to Bush, even as he wound down the Bush Wars. Whether the recognition is intellectual or emotional, as an American you own the Fear Years. Even if you opposed the war. Unlike distant genocides like the settlement of the West or abstract ignoble actions abroad, Iraq War II was sanctioned by the populace. IT happened here. “Untold” and Maddow’s documentary make the case, but ten years on the ephemeral zietgiest of the polity is still largely in denial.

The Athletical is Political

Note to all well-heeled, big wheel sports owners: Never let Mitt Romney in your team/athlete’s locker room before a match. It will turn out poorly.

“Bob Arum, the fight’s promoter, was a staunch Romney supporter. He told Yahoo! Sports “I think it’s great to have him here.”

Romney visited Pacquiao’s dressing room about two hours before Pacquiao walked to the ring. According to Pacquiao publicist Fred Sternburg, Romney extended his hand to Pacquiao and said, “Hi Manny. I ran for president and lost.”

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/boxing/mitt-romney-gets-front-row-seat-manny-pacquiao-031002224–box.html

1980, 2004 and 2012

In the summer Team Mittens posited that this would be a 1980-like election. Jimmy Carter was actually ahead for most of that campaign until the first debate. Somehow, by repeating, “there you go again” Ronald Reagan passed a fundamental plausibility test as President and thereby gave people the “okay” to dump Carter, which they were inclined to do anyway.

The Romneyians were somewhat correct. Mittens underperformed relative to Obama’s negatives up until the Debacle in Denver. Obama’s ambien-oriented performance garnered Romney the plausibility cred far more than Romney’s usually pile of verbal dung. Obama won the two debates he actually participated in.

But the damage was done. Just like in 1980, Mittens picked up anti-incumbent voters that weren’t sure about the challenger. The difference was that Carter was never really that popular — he barely defeated Gerald Ford even with Ford’s pardon of Nixon wrung around Ford’s neck. Also, “things” were largely getting worse at that point, whereas “things” are getting better too slowly now.

The challenger’s debate bounce, however, is just one more case where 2012 is turning out like 2004. Just as then a vulnerable incumbent largely outmaneuvered a flawed challenger, until the debate. Kerry cornered Bush over his obfuscations and misinformations aobut Iraq, whereas Obama was caught napping, but whatever. Team Bush won most of the news cycles after the debates and got an empty net goal when bin Laden cut an tape on election eve that created a worthy fugue with Bush’s fearmongering.

Similarly, this year Obama had won enough news cycles to reverse the momentum. Super Storm Sandy gave him the opportunity to lead. Mittens was pushed off the page, performed an absurd plastic “storm relief” event, and has resorted to lower tactics ever since. Sandy was beneficial to Obama both for the accolades from Christy, but also because it was a real event and made the churlishness of the right-wing dialogue against Obama appear silly.

Sandy has appeared to accelerate the slow drift towards the president nationally and in the swing states. Obama has the momentum heading into election day.

So, the election comes down to these three questions.

1.) Are the polls, in aggregate and general, using an incorrect likely voter screen that is too favorable for Obama?

This seems unlikely to me. Obama does worse after each LV screen, so they are already weeding out some of his support. It seems unlikely that they would not be restrictive enough, particularly in light of Team Obama’s ground game and their ability to get in early votes.

2.) Who are the Republican early voters?

Presumably, expanded ability to perform the franchise helps Democrats because more Democrats are of groups that are less likely to turn out. That is why Conservatron Secretaries of State have been trying to limit early voting. Team Mittens is doing better than Bush Patsy McCain did in getting early votes in (albeit basically by by default). Republicans are generally more likely to vote, but there must be some flaky Republicans. So is Team Romney increasing its margins or simply shifting people that would’ve voted on election day to an earlier day? Too early to tell, but numerically Team Obama is doing about as good or better than they did with early voting two years ago.

3.) Will voter suppression help the Conservatrons steal the election (again)?

Vote suppression is what is most sickening about the Republican Party. But I digress. Team Obama has tried to shift more early voting to absentee voting in Florida and has redoubled its ground game in Ohio. Still, there is no doubt that Team Obama would prefer, and would benefit, from the more reasonable early voting allowances of 2008. Will the votes shaved off of Obama’s margin under the 2012 rules allow the Conservatrons to “win”?

Overall, I don’t think so. Polling aggregates and models are modes of the day and are better than my own gut. In fact, they have influenced my gut. But here is how I’m calling it based just on my grey matter anyway:

Popular Vote: Obama 50.5%, Romney 49.1%

EVs, Obama 332, Romney 206

Of the swing states Obama wins: NH, PA, VA, FLA, OH, WI, IA, CO, NV. Romney wins NC.

Obama has been leading in most FLA polls towards the close, but the presumption is that FLA is a relatively red states so that Romney will win. My guess, is that seeing Obama handle Hurricane Sandy may have meant a bit more in FLA and NC, as those states are frequently hurricaned. It will be close in FLA and the voter suppression efforts of the governor may flip it for Romney, but I’m going to test the aggregate of the more recent polling.

NC is another interesting state. Most have Romeny favored there, but Obama has likely built up a decent lead with early voting. It is not as large as last time, because Romeny is actally trying unlike McCain, but numerically more people (and likely) Democrats have voted early than four years ago. Obama is getting his people to the polls, are there enough Republicans on election day to make up the difference. Obama has a similar advantage in Iowa, and Nevada may already almost be in the bag.

A final thought on the map, is that Romney has to win NC, VA, and FLA to begin to have any chance. That’s tough row to hoe when you are leading in one, about tied in the other, and behind in the third. If Romney wins that trifecta and then loses NH, then he has no non-Ohio path to 270. NH is relatively small, so if it’s called early that will be interesting for the rest of the night. If Romney hits the trifecta and wins Ohio then he only needs one more state to win, and then Colorado get interesting and scary. Still, that’s a tough bank shot — Obama only has to win one of those five states to get to 270.

Harry Reid

You get the sense that he gave the Republicans every last chance that he could. That he’s an over-temperate person. Finally, he couldn’t help but conclude that they were not playing honestly — at all — he just reached a point where he just said, “fuck it!” I like it.

Is America Ready for its First Douche Bag President?

Mitt Romney is a Douche Bag.

Usually, I refrain from uncut ad hominem attacks, but fealty to high-minded discourse should not get in the way of calling a demonstrated douche a douche. And Mitt Romney is a douche bag. Terrorizing some poor classmate with long hair in your prep school is a douche move. Needlessly dissing the UK’s ability to pull off the summer Olympics and harshing Londoners desire to get into the Olympic spirit is douchey — especially when you refuse to see your wife’s hobby horse “Rafalca” (Rafalca sounds sort like a failed Renaissance figure. The Billy Preston or Syd Barret to Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michaelangelo — not quite Ninja Turtle worthy) do it’s weird tax deductible dressage waltzes. Insulting the Palestinians by saying they have an inferior economic culture comparable to the Israelis — while simultaneously tossing a “Shylock” libel towards the Jews for being *so* clever with finances — is a douche move (albeit with the possible merit of improving Middle East peace prospects by giving the Israelis and Palestinians a common enemy). Finally, being a multi-millionaire that refuses to disclose multiple years of tax returns, unlike every other modern Presidential candidate, even as you perform weird James Bond villain multi-national tax write off schemes is pure douchification.

Romney’s gaffes are different than the gaffes of chuckleheads like Generalissimo Bush. Bush’s gaffes were dumbass gaffes. Romney’s gaffes are mean gaffes. Hateful gaffes. They are the hectoring, curt putdowns of a bully too dense to realize the stench of his own obnoxiousness. Also known as, a Douche Bag.

So, why is Romney such a douche bag? Why was he such a mammoth douche on a foreign trip when all he had to do was mumble dull platitudes? Why is he an epic douche when elections are still popularity contests, he wants to be president, and tout les mondes destestes les douches?

The usually worthless Maureen Dowd has hypothesized that Romney inhabits a bubble wherein he is considered a kind, good man by his flunkies no many how many dogs he straps to the roof of the car and no matter how many jobs he eviscerates. That is part of the equation, but most prominent politicians are millionaires (although not as rich as Mittens and likely not born into such privilege) and most of them are not douches. JFK was fabulously rich, but he was not a douche. Just to be bipartisan®, I disagree with most of George Bush the First’s Presidency, but Herbert Walker the WWII paratrooper is not a douche.

No, the primary reason for Mitt Romeny’s douche baggery is obvious. It has been staring us in the face from the first: Mitt Romney does not drink alcohol and he never has.

Everyone is always trying to drink less and regrets the consequences of drinking too much. If drinking less is good then drinking none, ever, is better, right? Yet for something that is “bad” there are still packed bars and refrigerators swollen with fermented grain throughout the world. There are at least three breweries within a quarter mile radius of my home. People have been voting with their feet in favor of alcohol consumption since the dawn, and likely pre-dawn, of civilization. Booze is both Hogarth’s “Beer Street” and “Gin Lane,” but most people manage to stick to Beer Street.

There are many positive aspects of Beer Street drinking, but one of the primary ones is communication. Remember that dude you thought was a hopeless twerp your freshman year of high school that you chilled with at the kegger senior year? How about the random person at the bar you exchanged life stories with over several cans of Old German? Or the office adversary who is at least a “good guy to have beers with”? The person from a completely different culture that became your friend over Jager shots in College? Even the worthy political conversation that you had with an opposite-minded true believer at the corner tavern? Alcohol-lubed social interactions are the means which Americans, and most everyone else, lets down their guard to learn about dissimilar folks. In so doing, one also learns basic social graces of discovering more about someone without offending them — to probe without jabbing your finger on their bruises. This is the fundamental lesson in tact that the sheltered, cruel and dry Mittens has never undertaken. And it shows in each awkward “common guy” interaction he squanders and in each unnecessary douche bag utterance.

A teetotaler need not be a douche. Jimmy Carter was not a douche. But the mix of being born into power, possessing overwhelming wealth and having his taint ever-licked in his crony bubble along with the inability to perform bar stool chit-chat with others has rendered Mittens a major douche bag.

America is ready for its first Mormon President. Is America ready for its first Douche Bag President?

I hope not.

LiBOR Mules

So we have yet another financial scandal involving astronomical sums of money and the manipulation of dense Bankster inside baseball operations and a post-hoc need to “do something about it”. In this case “it” is the LIBOR scandal in which banks banks lied about their borrowing costs during the Great Economic Collapse of 2008 to appear more solvent and manipulate interest rates and provide insider information to one another on financial deal making. In response, some “cost of doing business” money will likely be extracted from the banks and the status quo financial system will fester on fundamentally as it has.

But what about the financial scams that are unknown to the public?

Banking crises are becoming the new borderland drug bust. On occasion federal agents will “get ‘em” and parade piles of guns, laundry baskets of cash, Hefty sacks filled with marijuana, and enough bricks of cocaine to build a modest adobe house in front of the cameras to prove that The System is Working. Meanwhile, scores of other unseen mules zip the same stuff through, below, around and above the border to eager clientele in America. In the same vein, sleepy bank regulators eventually claim that they “got ‘em” — even as the next High Finance rip off is being perpetrated, unseen and unknown.

Either way, society takes it up the nose: voluntary white powder through a $100 bill, or involuntary $100 bills with no white powder.

Will the Newt and Sanatorium Make the Spirit of the Mittens Strong?

The Bull Trout is an adfluvial apex predator native to Pacific Northwestern rivers and lakes.  Bull Trout are fairly “average” looking fish, but they are every bit the champions of their domain as wolves or lions are to theirs. Biologists have described them as the “Tyrannosaurus Rex of the river.” They can and will eat anything smaller than them. Even little birds. Their favorite snack is juvenile Chinook salmon. Of all the daft details of endangered species politics, managing for endangered salmonids and Bull Trout is, for self-evident reasons, one the weirdest. In a largely unspoiled ecosystem (in this case the  salmonids were slaughtered in fisheries to near extinction by the turn of 20th century and bull trout were purposefully retononed by federal and state fisheries agencies in the 1920s – 1960s in order to make way for more desirable exotic species, but I digress), however, there is a symbiosis between the two species. By eating many subyearling and yearling Chinook — presumably, mostly the less fit ones — as they rear in riparian environments the Bull Trout reduce spatial and food competition at every other stage in the lifecycle for the remaining, more fit Chinook. In addition, Bull Trout attacks teach the juvenile Chinook how to evade predators, which is likely a very useful skill for when they enter the ocean as little fish in a gigantic pond. In this case the obligatory American-Indian saying is sage: “The Bull Trout makes the spirit of the salmon strong.” (This advantage for wild salmonids is undermined by state, federal and, yes, tribal fisheries agencies who inundate rivers with genetically inferior hatchery salmon in order to maintain a fishery with an “acceptable” harvest impact on wild fish — generally about 25% of the wild adult fish; the ones that have proven by their survival to have the most fit genes, but I digress.)

In 2008, Hillary Clinton was Barack Obama’s “Bull Trout”: A full grown top predator that had long thrived in a brutish Darwinian political environment where Obama, a temporal fry by comparison, had just emerged from his redd. The Conventional Wisdom holds that by forcing Obama to compete for space (states), food (voters), and to evade or contend with a kitchen sink of attacks (Hillary pressed the full Nixonian resentment card against Obama — long the Conservatrons’ best tactic), Hillary assured that the Spirit of the Obama was Strong. Having overwintered in the Primary Reservoir to survive Salvelinus confluentus Clintonessus Obama was indeed a “Jumbo Smolt” when he finally smoltified and outmigrated to the General Election Ocean in the summer. Once there, Obama outmaneuvered the Humboldt Squids (a voracious predator whose unusual presence off of Oregon and Washington may have largely wiped out the Sacremento River salmon run in 2008) and non-charismatic megafauna of his Conservatron competition and was able to return to the great “spawning ground of ideas” of Washington DC as a powerful November Hog. A few of the conceptual eggs the Obama fertilized have hatched. The full Affordable Care Act is scheduled to emerge in 2014, although the Conservatrons will try their hardest to scour or dessicate it while it’s incubating in the meantime.

Although Mittens has spent time rearing in the Primaries and Massachusetts habitats, he has not proven fit enough to outmigrate to the General Election Ocean. Resident Conservatron Suckers, (invasive) Crappies and Redband trout do not appear to like him or trust him. This has provided openings for other competitors to challenge him. The hope in Conservatron Land was that, after South Carolina, the Newt would be Mittens’ “Bull Trout” as Hillary was Barack’s back in 2008. The Newt is an experienced, tactical hack. The Newt’s hypocrisy is so paramount that he doesn’t even hide it. The Newt’s brand of confrontational hatefulness, pomposity, gimpy pseudo-intellectualism and Racism Lite rhymes with the Conservatron zietgiest. The Newt kinda’ looks like a Bull Trout, too.

Indeed, Mittens’ vertebrae appeared to calcify in response to the Newt. He was coached into being an aggressor in debates. He usurped a taster of the Newt’s trademark Nasty™. Mittens won Florida. Mittens won Nevada. It appeared that a swift Mittens was finally ready to strap the dog to the roof of the family car, undergo smoltification and outmigrate to the General Election Ocean. Then Mittens was felled by Sanatorium — Sanatorium! The Frothy Human Punchline! — in Colorado, Minnesota and Missourah.

The Conservatron illiteratti hasn’t whispered about Sanatorium being a potential “Bull Trout”. While co-opting a bit of the Newt’s Nasty™ was a necessary adaptation, having to out-wacko Sanatorium on social issues will force Mittens onto the opposite side of anyone that has ever been sexually active (or hopes to be) once the Conservatron elders finally truck Mittens to the estuary and he flip-flops into the General Election Ocean. After all, we’ve all befallen from several eons of fornicators, and despite the presence of lamprey-like Creepers such as Sanatorium most of us would prefer to enjoy fornicating safely, just as we evolved to do.

So why is it that the Newt and Sanatorium are not making the spirit — or at least the poll numbers versus “King Salmon” Obama — of the Mittens strong? It’s simple. Unlike Hillary, the Newt and Sanatorium are not noble “Bull Trout”. They are invasive, venal Smallmouth Bass. Smallmouth Bass are native to Southern warm water ponds, but have been introduced by bucket biologists and, of course, state fishery agencies to Northwestern reservoirs. They evolved to ambush spiny-backed, large resident fishes. Smooth-backed juvenile salmonids don’t have a chance against them, no matter how fit they are. Because Smallmouth Bass are fetishized by sun stroked license-purchasing yahoos they are managed by state fishery agencies as a sport fish (catch and release only), rather than a nuisance species to be eliminated (bounty fishery). While their periodicity with salmonids is temperature dependent and the extent to which they overlap is not entirely known as that would require state fishery agencies to monitor the impact of their management decisions, they certainly compete for food and space with native fish. When exotics are “flushed” out of a well-managed reservoir, salmonids immediately grow to be larger and more plentiful.

The Republican Party is a poorly managed reservoir full of invasive bass, crappies, channel catfish, legacy pollution and other Things that Should Not be There that Fuck with Everything that Should. Much as these invasive fish are managed by a state agency that profits from selling licenses to catch them and yet has a mandate to preserve the native species that these exotics destroy, so is the Conservatron bubble overseen by a media that treats the nonsense (evolution schmevolution, global warming is a hoax, austerity is expansionary) that emerges from its effluent as one side of an argument even as they claim to be crusaders for truth. As a result this years’ slate of Conservatron candidates has included jokers like Donald Trump, Herman Cain and Michelle Bauchmann and has been laughably weak (especially compared to the august Democratic field of 2008) because they have evolved to survive in a toxic cess pool with other sheltered meanies rather than developing the talents to outmigrate to the General Election Ocean.

Starting in 2004 Democrats are 9 and 0 in Presidential election debates. I am counting Obama’s 2010 impromptu confrontation with the Conservatrons in this tally. It is the most striking example. Obama was ambushed by the Conservatrons, he had no allies in the room, Conservatron Mike Pence (who looks like he was carved out of a pencil eraser) was the moderator. Even in the most hostile of circumstances Obama obliterated his opposition because ideas and skills that are developed by the non-native species in the Conservatron cess pool bubble are no match for those honed to compete for the votes of everyone else. Faced with someone that would actually challenge the basis of their concepts, rather than treat them as a “he said/she said,” the Conservatrons folded one after another in the face of Obama’s rebuttals and Fox News cut away rather than watch Obama continue to dunk on the Conservatrons in garbage time.

The Consrevatrons don’t breed Presidents. They concoct invasive predators with an unnatural advantage over their prey, designed to grow large and just healthy enough to absorb the toxics in their crumby habitat, until they become too poisonous to tolerate and only the ignorant would want to keep them. On the occasions when one of these creatures slimes or steals its way into the “spawning ground of ideas” in Washington DC, as Generalissimo Bush did through his putsch in Florida in 2000, the results are horrendous: asleep at the wheel for a disastrous terrorist attack, an unnecessary nine year war, fiscal mismanagement, torture, hundreds of thousands of needless dead people and countless maimed American troops, and the Great Economic Collapse.

The longer Mittens spends in the Conservatron cess pool the more inbred he will become. For the Spirit of the Mittens can Never be Strong because his stock has no soul.

Wow!

But where was that in 2009?

Missed opportunities under the bridge, I guess. Obama squared every circle and appears 20 times the hominid as any of his rivals. Absent any vicious deus ex machina that destroys the economy, Obama will win. Perhaps the Conservatron implosion will be complete enough to give him another congressional majority……

The Fear Years — One Last Time

Would the capture or killing of Osama bin Laden shortly after 9/11 have made it impossible for the Bush administration to concoct a rationale for invading Iraq?

All answers to “what if” history questions are speculative nonsense; however, it is clear  even ten years later that bin Laden’s death has created a catharsis. It was evident in the impromptu celebrations in New York and DC, in the random dude waving an American flag on a bridge spanning the freeway in my current city, and, as a resident of New Jersey who was down wind from the World Trade Center on 9/11 and can still recall the faint rotten milk stench of the plume as the jet stream carried it over my home, in my own guts, heart and sinew.

I once strongly suspected that the Bush administration aggressively-passively allowed bin Laden to escape in Tora Bora because his capture would have ended 9/11; the open wound would be bandaged and there would be no more fear and angst to misdirect to Iraq. Now, I think it’s more likely that they did want to capture bin Laden, but they outsourced the job to flimsy tribal allies in a typical bout of near-hilarious incompetence.

As bad as the Bush Administration was at actually doing things, they were great at selling them. That day in August in which a Bush lackey explained that the Administration was ginning up a war with Iraq in September of 2002 because “you don’t market a new product in August” was the day that any worthy unity from 9/11 died and instead it became proof that IT can happen here. Your kind neighbors can have their fear and anger stoked, forged and fluxed into incoherent hateful nonsense. Today, more than ever, just what the hell was Iraq War II for? Bin Laden is dead in Pakistan, organic revolutions are lurching at least parts of the Muslim world towards more democratic governance, gas is $4 a gallon. Why Iraq in 2002? It makes no sense.

Who knows, maybe the triumphalism of killing bin Laden would have allowed the Bushites to roll into Iraq and into Syria or some other disaster at the same time. Maybe the disaster of the Bush Years was always fated somehow, like a Greek Tragedy. For the only time in my life, I am glad that someone is dead, but I’m dumbfounded and aghast at what bin Laden gave the opening for Bush to exploit all over again. Yes bin Laden’s dead and something great will be built at the World Trade Center site one day. But the wreckage of the Bush administration is all around us.

Osama Bin Laden Confirmed Killed

Congratulations on your re-election, President Obama.

Update:

Fascist New Network has it “Usama” bin Laden instead of the normal “Osama”, probably trying to confuse people in the face the facts of proving that Obama is a real president and Generalissimo Bush was not.

Call the Bluff

A prolonged shutdown would be disastrous for the economy. A short one would not be good either. Indeed, each hour of a shutdown would be like a body blow to the still bloodied economy.

But Obama and the Dems should call the bluff anyway. Shutting down the government over .00008% of the budget that is vaguely but not really sorta’ oriented towards abortion kida’ in concept is plain stupid. Even the Democrats should be able to win this framing war. And if that does happen, pressure will grow on the Republicans — because so few people share their obsession with womens’ uteruses — they will fold and Democrats will be in a much stronger position when the real fight starts over raising the debt limit and the 2012 budget. A more salutary result there will be far better for the economy than a small “w” win for the Republicans on this issue which would only serve them to suck more money out of the economy by making ore draconian cuts in the future.

Maybe, just maybe, Obama played good enough chess to corner them into this by giving so much on the cuts. He had cornered the shutdown into a social issue that is way down the list of most Americans priorities.

We shall see what we shall see.

The Egypt Credit Countdown

Que the Conservatrons saying that Egypt’s peaceful, internal revolution that resulted in regime change was a direct result of Generalissimo Bush’s invasion of Iraq in T minus five… four… three… two… one….

This is one of those times when it is gratifying to have a real President and not a nepotistic dunce like Dubya’. I’m not entirely sure how, but one just senses that Generalissimo Bush would have blown this somehow. It’s tempting to say that Obama’s outreach to the Arab world, as exemplified by his speech in Cairo early in his presidency, provided some of the spark for this and the regime change in Tunisia. More likely, those revolts  and the crushed uprising in Iran, are more the result of a demographic wave of young people that are aware of the freedoms that most people have simply demanding them for themselves and their countrymen. I cannot pretend to be any manner of expert on these matters. Today anyway, the joyous scene in Egypt gladdens even the most cynical heart. And it was all done without a single American military boot on the ground or drop of blood in the sand.

Ah, Conservatrons and Victimization

A nine year old girl is slain. A sitting federal judge has been murdered. There was an attempted, pre-meditated assassination attempt on a sitting Congresswoman — somehow, she is still living despite having a bullet pierce her skull, travel trough her brain, and come out of the back of her head. Several other people were killed. More were wounded. More still were terrified. A city, a state and even a nation are shaken. Yet, of course, the real victim is Sarah Palin.

The narcissism and victimization complex on the Right is a wonder to behold. Jaw dropping, incomprehensible, bizarre, almost scary in the same way that seeing a truly deranged person meander the street is scary. IOKIYAR, I guess….

No One Could Have Predicted

That the porcine Conservatron Governor of Mississippi would be a racist boor. Or that his idiot trumpeters in the Weekly Standard would be too stupid to realize how disastrous his bloviations would be and print them anyhos. Because, of course, the whole point of the Weekly Standard running a profile on a Conservatron swine snorting at the chance to feed at the Presidential trough like Barbour is to knee cap him. Exit stage backwards to your sty Pig Man. “Ha ha charade you are!”

Fukuyamaed

Francis has an interesting analysis of our recent history (which was evidently restarted at some point) of  populism generated by right wing “left behinds” that only serves to embolden the plutocracts that are leaving these Conservatron Patsies behind. Fukuyama does make some worthwhile points about Chicago School economics providing a pseudo-intellectual rationalization to Reaganism and allowing bankers and “economists” to participate in a revolving exclusive circle jerk that enriches them both. Still, Fukuyama is leaving out the Racist Elephant in the room, namely the Republicans’ Southern Strategy. Fukuyama notes that somehow there was a populist sense that government would only waste money that cropped up in the 1970s  without ever considering that for a southern FDR Democrat the government redistributing wealth to electrify the south and the west in the 30s is worthwhile, but once the government assures that blacks are no longer formally second class citizens in the 1960s, then its redistribution must surely go to helping THEM (whoever they may be — there are many THEYs) at the expense of HIM. Or, as Ronald Reagan said, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me.”

Sure I used a Strawman and my analysis isn’t appearing in an academic magazine, but click on the link and decide for yourself who has the more compelling argument. I feel that MacGregor’s First Rule of American History still holds: At the end of the day, everything comes back to race.

Relevance and Liberal Disenchantment

The icy analysis of the Tax deal is that it be a worthy gain of stimulus even with its fetid Bush Tax Cut for the Rich after birth. Sausage making process. Hold nose. Compromise. Be satisfied knowing that UI has been extended for some and that worthy things have been accomplished. Onto the next battle.

Legislative process. Been there. Done that.

So why the liberal disenchantment?

I think it all goes back to the vital leadership quality of relevance. Relevant leadership is, obviously, leadership that addresses pertinent concerns or issues. At first glance it appears that what any president or major public figure is doing is relevant — that’s why there are a gaggle of media filter-feeding barnacles there to report on it and beam it into your living room. But an audience does not relevance make. Consider pre-historic relevance archetypes. If a group of early hunter/gatherers needs to navigate a fearsome jungle to get food, then the person that claims to know the way through will be highly relevant. If an early agricultural village’s water supply has dried up from drought, and someone decrees that they know of a new water supply, the person with that knowledge becomes politically important quickly. Imagine how relevant someone with the demonstrated ability to immediately cap a rupture oil well 10,000 feet below the ocean would have been during the Gulf Oil Spill disaster in the summer of 2010!

Obama burst onto the scene through a mastery of relevance. Regardless of how obtuse his “hope” rhetoric was, it was the perfect antidote to the venality and mendacity of the Bush era — especially when juxtaposed with Hillary’s early “inevitability” strategy. The confounding undercutting of the Obama presidency has been the his loss of relevance. The too small Stimulus was passed without adequately describing how it addressed the economic crisis. Health Care Reform was formulated without anyone being sure what Obama was for, other than the resolution of the legislative process. Worst of all, the infuriating Bankster bonuses were allocated with nary a peep from the President. Time and again, Obama has played Prime Minister or else been mute on the pressing issues of the day.

Now, in the wake of the Conservatron resurgence of 2010; so called austerity is purportedly relevant to the electorate. Regardless that, intellectually, what is needed is more stimulus; the fact that there must be shared sacrifice to balance the budget for the greater good makes an intuitive sense because sacrifice is what just about every American has done since the Great Economic Collapse. Obama justified an anti-stimulative freeze in federal pay by saying that, this was the sort of broad sacrifice that was necessary given the debt situation. His Cat Food Commission has just finished describing the sort of baubles that must be given up to balance the budget.

And into the maw of the great sacrifice beast is extracted… an unnecessary bon bon for the Wealthiest! Freezing federal pay ($5 billion savings) is necessary sacrifice, not extending ultra-stimulative unemployment ($5 billion per month) is necessary sacrifice, raising the retirement age is necessary sacrifice; but the Wealthiest need not have their tax cuts sacrificed. Just as the Banksters that caused the Great Economic Collapse need not have their shenanigans seriously investigated, need not have their bailout money monitored, need not have their compensation reconsidered, need not be cajoled into actually loaning any of the money they are sitting on to worthy customers, and need not have anyone less familiar than Larry Summers or Tim Geihtner populate high economic places.

At the end of the day Obama is asking everyone to sacrifice instead of the wealthiest. Given the reality of the Conservatrons, he got the best deal that he could. Given the reality of the inability to hold the architects of the Great Economic Collapse accountable or demand any ballyhooed sacrifice for the wealthiest, it’s infuriating. And irrelevant.

"The Wrecking Crew"

Although it never sparked chattering class buzz, “The Wrecking Crew” Thomas Frank’s sequel to the iconic What’s the Matter with Kansas, is most pertinent to American politics on the eve of President Obama’s Health Care speech to Congress. The elemental point of the wrecking crew is that Conservatrons (my word) use the functions of government as an entrepenurial means to cash in for various monied interests; in exchange for lobbying of pseudo-intellectualizing for a monied interest a Conservatron gets lots of money and the interest gets favorable policies. Or see, War, Iraq II.

In the process, the Conservatrons leave the actual stewardship of the government in duress. A Democrat is then elected to mend the catastrophe, only to see his popularity plummet as he delivers the sour medicine. He does just enough to right the disaster, giving the Conservatrons a nicely righted Ship of State to steam towards the shoals at their next opportunity. Or see Clinton, William Jefferson 1993-94.

I never did finish this post up, but it appears that Mr. Frank was surely correct.

The First Tea Party Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a serious American holiday for Americans! A real American will not let his family prepare the entire Thanksgiving feast for their relatives. That’s socialism! Allowing each relative to bring a dish to form a complete Thanksgiving dinner together is just the first step down the slippery slope into Communism. After all, it was decades of Pot Luck suppers that led directly to the rise of the Nazis in Germany!

The only common sense way to have an American Thanksgiving in America is to have each member of your family, from the oldest grandparent to the youngest infant, prepare the entire Thanksgiving dinner themselves. Your individual relatives can then sell individual portions of their own individual Thanksgiving dinner to one another while they sit at their individual tables. We The People say, Free Enterprise is the secret to a lumpless gravy! Let the Market decide who’s Turkey is biggest! That’s how the Pilgrims, Founding Fathers, Pocahontas, and Jesus did it at the first Thanksgiving in 1492!

!

The Long Winter of Our Discontent

I like President Obama more than any other political figure in my lifetime. I like the President for the same reason the Conservatrons hate him: he seems like one of “us”. He’s the only major political figure  to hail from the “us” that I recognize myself to be a part of.

Objectively, Obama’s first two years have been a sterling success. The economy was saved from Depression, two Supreme Court justices were confirmed, the auto bailout saved thousands of jobs and three huge companies, fundamental health insurance reform and financial reform were passed, and the ball was generally moved forward on issues from womens’ equity, to green energy, to nuclear disarmament. Unnoticed by most, Obama has also done a tremendous amount of healing beneath the skin by inserting earnest and sophisticated citizens into Cabinet and under-Cabinet positions that were once the province of Bush junta “Brownies”. The Education Department is utilizing venture capital style experimentation through the Race to the Top contest. Steven Chu is the best Secretary of Energy in the Department’s history having oriented it towards resolving cutting edge technological problems while personally participating in small ventures like orchestrating the ultimate capping of BP’s gushing oil well in the star crossed Gulf of Mexico.

Obama’s first two years are also a self-evident failure. If you could time travel back to Inauguration Day 2009 and tell an Obama supporter the result of the 2010 midterms, the supporter at first would not believe you and then conclude that the two intervening years were a disaster.

There are two obvious horseshoe-and-hand-grenades failures from Obama’s first two years. The first was the Stimulus that was too small, but advertised as being just as right as the Third Bear’s bowl of porridge was for Goldilocks. Paul Krugman, who has only been correct about almost everything since the daisy brained days of W’s 2000 presidential campaign, has written extensively about this on his blog. The second would be the bonus imbroglio with AIG and other bailed out Bankster Rats’ Nests. Yes these bonuses are just a goofy form of delayed compensation, and maybe there is little legally that the government could have done about them. But gut feelings are not always wrong. The sense that the same corrupt Master of the Universe nimrods that caused the Great Economic Collapse only to be bailed out by the serfs were then somehow deemed to important to risk losing, and were thus rewarded for their destructive errors was logically infuriating. My participation in this blog flatlined after Obama was ineffectual in contending with the bonuses either substantively or through oration. Of course I argued, donated a few dollars and voted early in 2010, but my enthusiasm was deflated.

It’s not clear how Obama could have given voice to this populist fury or exactly how Obama should have played the Stimulus. Maybe he chose one of the best possible courses in each case – perhaps alternative actions would have turned out worse. Regardless, the 2010 elections are proof positive that what he did do failed. It’s even possible that he wasn’t the right man for the job. Obama’s Hope message resonated in the early rounds of the Democratic Primary because it was the antidote to the low morals and manipulations of the Bush regime and the agony of the Fear Years. Clinton seemed to “connect” better on the economy after the Ohio primary (whatever that means), but her foolish vote in favor of Generalissimo Bush’s Iraq War II cost her the Democratic nomination and, with it, the Presidency. Would HRC have succeeded in these two make-or-break areas where Obama didn’t? Who knows, but the “spiritual thirst” of America was far more meat’n’potatoes in the fall of 2008 then it was in the summer of 2007 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina finally obliterating Generalissimo Bush’s string of fooling all of the people (or at least a preponderance of them) all of the time and the agony of deceit began to permeate workaday life.

Maybes, wouldas, couldas, and who the hell knows? Oh well. Whatever. The tragedy is that we are where we are and it is hard to see how Obama’s failures leave America any real way to get out of the Great Economic Collapse. There was a fluffy tech bubble in the 1990s, but computers, the Internet and cellphones were also tangible improvements that created wealth and new businesses. The Web 2.0 Facebooks and YouTubes of the 00’s also added real economic development to the empty calories of the housing bubble. Today, corporations are sitting on heaps of dollars like hens atop an egg, but what is it that they should spend it on? Who is going to buy the products that corporations create with their ample capital in sufficient quantities to generate self-sustaining wealth and jobs?

Obama’s able Cabinet and their underlings can still heal beneath the skin, the Fed can give the Market more quantitative easing hand jobs, and Obama can surely make his mortgage program more effective. Still, the huge Stimulus spending that must be done on infrastructure, the smart grid, and a bevy of other initiatives; the Stimulus spending that objectively would end the Great Economic Collapse will not get done. America is settling in for a long long winter of meager growth, diminished expectations, and near-feudal wealth concentration, meanwhile the Conservatrons and the junior varsity fascists in the Tea Party will use the resulting disorder to pit dispossessed groups against each other while distracting them with fake issues (Ground Zero Masque!) and phony scandals (Obama’s a Muslim!). Obama and Progressives will be playing defense, stopping the barbarians at the gate and keeping them from smothering the infant recovery in its oxygen tent.

I Hope We Can….

Turning Meme?

Republicans are evidently pulling out of Delaware with the nomination of Conservatron anti-Beet the Meatles cartoon Christine O’Donnell. The simple arithmetic is that this has turned one likely Republican pick up back into a Democratic hold — and the Dems will likely get a House seat out of the bargain.  But there is something that separates  O’Donnell from other “TP” anti-Republican establishment candidates like Rand Paul, Ken Buck, Sharron Angle and that Alaskan guy who looks like he participates in speed pork rib eating contests.

Delaware.

Unlike the western states or the far Appalachian Kentucky, Delaware is smack dab in the middle of the New York/DC media saturation zone. While Paul may have some pseudo-intellectual muffin head street cred along with his daddy’s name rec, and the semi-Alaskan rib eater seems right out of the Palin woodwork, and Ken Buck looks like an annoying Woody Paige style Coloradan, and even Angle’s treasonous lunacy about “second amendment solutions” has a certain Yosemite Sam style Western tang to it; O’Donnell is a not-ready-for-prime-time loon, who is already a known loser in Delaware politics, and will forever be indelible for this mid-90′s culture war shenanigan. Not only is the topic, uhm, not exactly senatorial, but she gives the bedroom eyes to her fellow anti-lust preacher at about 1:05.

So O’Donnell is a goof city sideshow spouting a ridiculous opinion on an off the beaten path, somewhat touchy,  and double entendre rich topic right in the Big Media’s maw. Perhaps some  proximity-facilitated examination of this entertainment will led to a careful perusal of other like minded Conservatrons and the “meme” may change from “Anti-Incumbent Route” to “who are these belligerent anti-self actualization people.”

Patty Murray has pulled ahead in Washington State recently, likely because her opponent, Dino Rossi, is already a known, loathed quality amongst Democrats. If Democrats in other states get a sense of what they will be getting if they stay home or switch, then they may be able to avoid a route.

Beyond Pathetic

I am partial to energy producers. The major advances America made in the rights of women and minorities in the last century were, for the most part, made after The Electrical Revolution of 1932-46, in which energy was finally extended to even the most isolated corners of America. Confederate apologists often say that the Civil War was about the South’s “way of life”. The Southern plantation lifestyle featured a few enjoying the countless hours of free work, or energy, performed by slaves. Today, most everyone in America has dozens, or even hundreds, of Energy Slaves working for them full time. We are all Plantation Aristocrats.

Today’s customary availability of energy is the necessary force behind historically high standards of living in established nations. Personally, I have made it a priority to live close enough to my job to be able to bike there and to live in a neighborhood where I can walk to most destinations. I often consume one tank of gas (approximately 12 gallons) per month. But I also know that gasoline is an highly efficient source of energy and that its scarcity would have a cascading negative impact on my lifestyle. Efforts to “Green” gasoline need to recognize that one cannot replace it without replacing its benefits. Solving this conundrum should be the primary motivating force for government and entrepreneurs, but in the meantime, I respect the people that do the actual work of delivering the energy we need today.

Our polity has an unfortunate habit of lumping vehicular energy (gasoline) in with the electron energy that powers our homes and businesses. Absent a change to mostly Plug-In Electric Vehicles (PEVs), a new wind farm will do nothing to directly “ween us off foreign oil”. Our laws and customs treat the two kinds of energy differently, too. In the American West electrons are mostly delivered by Peoples or Public Utility Districts (PUDs) that are owned directly by the ratepayers, or else by Investor Owned Utilities (IOUs). The IOUs, however, generally still need the permission of a governmental Utility Commission to raise their electricity rates. Whether your electrons are delivered by a private or socialized source your electricity provider must prove that it is charging rates that are necessary to continue to deliver the energy effectively, not to enrich itself. (Ironically, most of the socialized energy is delivered in rural — read conservative — areas whereas IOU energy is concentrated in urban — read liberal — areas as PUDs were largely formed because it was not cost-effective for early for-profit utilities to deliver energy to sparsely populated rural areas. So they didn’t. But I digress.)

Vehicular energy is different. In America, it is a commodity that is sold for profit to enrich investors. Of course, the market for oil is global and, unlike electron energy, America does not have the supply to provide for itself. Still, imagine if BP, or another oil company, chose to operate like a utility: it would garner enough oil to provide for its share of the market, it would sell additional oil to other markets at a profit, and then would use a substantial portion of that profit to lower the price of the gasoline that it sold in its market. In other words, it would treat its gasoline like a public good that provides wealth for the nation by facilitating commerce and pleasure, rather than a means to enrich itself.

The quest for riches has had the effect of creating the technological phenomenon that was the Deepwater Horizon and its supporting infrastructure. Deepwater featured a drill that could drill sideways, a boat that used satellite technology to steady itself against open ocean waves, and unmanned submarines. Given this brilliance, it is surprising that BP is not capable of plugging the oil geyser. The expected cost of a catastrophic failure, however remote, were evidently determined to not be as great as the benefits of obtaining more far flung oil. Risk Analysis Fail!

The blame game in front of the Congress today was Beyond Pathetic. To be clear, as the entity that wanted that oil, BP is responsible for the acts of its contractors unless those contractors are criminally fraudulent. To put it another way, none of the actors responsible for the accident would have been there absent BPs desire to extrude the crude.

The Deepwater Horizon tragedy illustrates that other jaw of a purely for profit modis opperandi for energy extraction and delivery. The western utility model, in which energy is delivered for the good of the people that consume it, would have placed a higher premium on safe and ecologically defensible energy generation. When BP is done cleaning up for this mess and paying for it (and assuredly they will be paying for it, directly, and indirectly) then perhaps they and their oily colleagues can rethink the purpose of their business and get to the task of using their coin to delivering efficient vehicular energy in a means that doesn’t choke the planet or destroy one of its bays or Gulfs or coastlines every 25 years. If they don’t begin to see their role in delivering energy as a public good then, watch out! Utilities and their PEVs might take their business!

An End of the Decade Tirade

As a society we are not even close to owning up to the Fear Years. That horrible epoch that reached its peak in 2002-2003 but did not completely dissipate until 2007. How do we square the fact that everyone understood that the evil Iraq attack was a tragic mistake in 2007, but to even suggest that it was not wise in 2002 was to be libeled a traitor? — Even in the face of one of Generalissimo Bush’s minions explaining that they were launching Iraq Attack II to coincide with the first anniversary of 9/11 because “you don’t launch a new product in August.” Somehow, the collective fact of the matter turned from worthy to worthless over those wasted years. But the facts of the matter never changed. America did. But too slowly.

Osama bin Laden is a serial killer. A demon. Pure evil. But such hatred creates its own choice. Whatever validity one may give his grievances (and I give him little) violence against innocent people is not a legitimate recourse. As self-styled extremists Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda chose the hateful path and went down it. America did not have to. America is a free and respectful society that has a reasonable ability to chose its own destiny. But America did choose the venal chart. And whether you shouted until your throat hurt in defiance of Iraq War II (I did not), or thought it was a terrible and foolishly incorrect action at them time (I did), or were one of the lobotomized flag waving masses of nimrods that proved that “It” can happen here (I was not) you are complicit. All Americans are complicit.

So as a final decades end rejoinder to the Flat Landers and Texans, to the Rural Socialists and Junior Varsity Fascists, to the Tea Baggers and Polite Racists, to the Middling Concern Troll Masses and the FDNY Cap Wearing Confederates, to the Red States and the Red Counties in the Blue States, to Generalissmio Bush and the Conservatron Hate Machine please let me scream that NOTHING FUCKING HAPPENED TO YOU ON 9/11/01! THERE WERE NO FUNERALS IN YOUR HOME TOWNS! YOU HAD NO GRAVEYARD GREY ROTTEN MILK STENCH CLOUD HOVERING OVER YOUR HOME! YOU DID NOT HAVE THE FAMILIAR ARCHITECTURE OF YOUR CHILDHOOD RENDERED INTO DUST!

NOTHING FUCKING HAPPENED TO YOU! YOU ARE MEDIOCRE AMERICANS! AND YOU ARE DESTROYING AMERICA!

Avatar

Spoiler alert! I’m about to spoil the whole movie; so if you care stop reading.

In the early 1960s Rod Serling observed that, in his teleplays, he could have aliens say things that Democrat and Republican characters could not. From that observation sprang “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street” and “Eye of the Beholder,” two rapier sharp and thoroughly mainstream denunciations of McCarthyism as goosed by the Twilight Zone.

Similarly, once public opinion turned squarely against Generalissimo Bush’s Iraq War II in 2007, Hollywood responded with harsh, realistic films like “Stop Loss” and “In the Valley of Elah” that attempted to demonstrate the difficult sensations of that quagmire. While the films had no problem stating their political purpose they failed to resonate financially and intellectually with the polity. Like Serling, James Cameron has found surrealism to be a simpler path to an effective political polemic. Avatar is an over-the-top unapologetic left-wing hook — a parting swipe at the miserable Bush Aughts.

The plot to Avatar is simple and predictable: think “Dances with Wolves” meets the Endor battle scene in “Return of the Jedi”, with a generous pinch of “Dune” flavoring the whole stew. Time and again, the surrealism of the  venture rescues its tougher political points. The vaguely Afro-Polynesian-Native American dandruff-shampoo-blue hued Na’vi are almost too precious in their literal oneness with their planet — they embody the simplistic deification of indigenous people that a dreadlocked freshman white dude might trumpet in between bong hits in his dorm room at an obscure small liberal arts college in southern California. As glorious as the cultures of obscure tribes in the Amazon may be, would this dreadlocked Strawman give up his sedan, dorm room and zip locked narcotics to become a Tree Person? Of course not. Unlike Amazonian tribes, however, the Na’Vi are not human. Using the biological UBC cord in the Na’vi’s ponytail to mindmeld with the local fauna happens to be the logical way to get by on this imaginary world. Here the 3D aspect of the flick is also vital, as it creates an otherworldly sensation of size, scope and gravity. The texture of the 3D surrealism allows the Na’Vi’s actions to be a demonstration of how to live on their planet, rather than being a neo-luddite scold about how humans should live on Earth. This allows the truth of the films’ strongest rhetorical punches — “there is no green left there”; “they destroyed their planet” — to land without being undermined by their facile moralizing.

Far more interesting than the Na’Vi are the “villains”. I use the worry quotes because Avatar does nothing to Otherize the human inobtanium Colonizers of Pandora and the Na’Vi . The Oppressors in this case are a private mining company replete with a military wing. The fact that they are almost all white and speak with an American (not British!) accent is surely no mistake. Lets face it, there have been lots of white American colonizers in the scope of human history. At no point does the leader of this venture disobey orders from high command and go too far in his inobtanium conquest, thereby showing himself to be a rogue amongst otherwise noble people. None of the bad guys commit any sort of destruction or rape or act of private unconscionable immorality that reveals their evil souls. In the climax of the movie, when the Colonizers destroy a precious tree to get at the inobtanium underneath to the dismay of the Na’Vi, they appear distressed by what they have done. The leader is a smart corporate project manager type that does not appear far removed from a protagonist  in a contemporary TV procedural drama. The military leader is the sort of square-jawed mix of violence and cunning that is the star stuff of a million action movie heroes. When he hollers “we will fight terror with terror” and the Colonizers do just that he is simply revealing the complicity that all of us not bad Americans share in Iraq War II, whether we thought it was a good idea at the time or not. Avatar does not let the average American off the hook in the way that most entertainments do.

Some have argued that there is a racist element to the white marine avatared Na’Vi leading the Afro-Polynesian-Native American real Na’Vi in their fight against the Colonizers because this shows that “indigenous peoples” were not up to this task themselves. The other jaw of the “white savior” trope is that it allows the oppressors to redeem themselves by becoming one with the Natives; this is the soft way that “Dances With Wolves” Otherized the white Union Army but forgave the crowd that was busy sympathizing with Kevin Costner’s character. Here the surrealism of the movie distills its politics. Our hero doesn’t join the Na’Vi’s culture; he literally becomes one of them. In so doing he acts, in the final battle scene, as a missing link to a more “natural” state of being rather than an industrial one. In Avatar, humans cannot meld cultures with the Natives, or simply find the capacity to treat them right and be down with them as we all are now, of course. You either are one, or a rare select friend, or you are not.

The final scene of the movie is a Trail-of-Tears-like procession of not quite villainous white Americans being frog stomped back into their spaceship and off Pandora. Like the whole movie it is very predictable, but one only realizes how unusual such a scene is when one sees it.

Avatar is painted with a broad brush and is over the top and unapologetic in its moralizing. In it’s audacity, and beneath its pyrotechnics and holy moly 3D, it offers a mule kick in the solarplexis about the kind of violence and imperialism that most Americans know about but rarely pause to consider.

Bravo Mr. Cameron! Bravo!

A Dead Fish Bounce

Presumably, being an outdoors-oriented Alaskan, Mrs. Nilap, you were speaking about salmon when you said that, to paraphrase, only dead fish go with the flow. Actually, it is the living salmon smolts that go with the flow. Any cursory knowledge of salmonid outmigration (you were speaking about salmon, Mrs. Nilap, right?) reveals that they respond to a flow cue to outmigrate as smolts. The dead ones may float about with the freshet for awhile, but eventually they will either be gobbled up by a carrion eater or else will wind up on a side channel, or at the bottom of the river etc.

Similarly, as adults, it is the live salmon that go against the flow. They use cues from the water running towards the ocean to  navigate their way upstream. Should they make it back to their natal steams they will spawn and die. Thes dead adult salmon also do not go with the flow. Rather, they rot on the banks of the steam and transfer the nutrients they consumed in ocean back to the forest stream bed of their birth.

Not sure if there is any symbolism in this brief salmon life cycle lesson befitting Sarah Nilap’s goof city, farewell verbal lobotomy. Never mention marine nutrient transfer to a gobbeldy-gooker, I guess.

Sanford and the GOP

At least it was with a woman… again. The Republicans continue to become a parody of themselves, like the last seasons of a sitcom grown stale.

Anyhow, at least Spitzer’s wife stood beside him and at least he wasn’t a total pussy at his press conference like Sanford was.

Conservatron Farce and Tragedy

Way back in 2006 during the Page scandal I wrote that the Republican Party had become a parody of itself. The farce continued over this week as the Conservatrons dished up hyperbole about Sotomayor’s ballyhooed “reverse racism.” What is incredible about this how ably the Conservatrons inserted this “controversy” into the media. Even as former representative Heather Wilson (R-NM) rejects the junior varsity fascism of skatmunchers like Rush Limbaugh on “Real Time”, she still bloviates about how “the question is, will Sotomayor apply the law equally to everyone” thereby keeping alive Limbaugh’s reactionary hooey in a way that is appropriate for respectable company. Because this equals conflict, the superfluous filer feeders in the mainstream media report on it breathlessly.

Thus the Conservatrons win the meme war, but for the rest of us actual Americans, the idea that an accomplished Latina might once have made a jocose statement appropriating broad stereotypes about her ethnicity/culture by stating that a person with her background might reach a better conclusion on an issue than a white man without her life experiences is boring. That’s because we know a variety of people and and get how a person celebrating their own culture does not equate to them hating everyone else. Duh! I know this because I am a wily Jew.

In short, while the Conservatrons are still decent tacticians, their resentment mongering is so impertinent and ugly that no reasonable person takes it seriously. Sadly, this is where the Conservatron tragedy comes in.

Generalissimo Bush and the Conservatrons coup d’etated and fearmongered the reactionary Nixonian/Reaganite conservative ideology well beyond the expiration dates of its ideas. During Conservatisms long nadir (2005-2008) Team Bush used their official power to stall and delay popular positions on the economy, health care, environment, foreign wars etc. etc. Once power finally returned to the Democrats, the vast majority of America’s polity had progressed far beyond the Conservatrons’ politics. The ensuing era of rapid but orderly change is still at the start of its beginnings.

It is no surprise that the shrinking minority of Conservatron dead enders are feeling bewildered as their countrymen lap them in the great 8000 km steeplechase towards modernity. It is doubly no surprise that some of these encrustations turn to violence when the majoritorian political process leaves them so greatly outnumbered. The purposeful inciting of these “left behinds” is the disturbing place where the stressed out hyperbole from the Conservatron echo chamber meets the attacks on Democratic lawmakers in Arkansas or the murder of Dr. Tiller or the creepy venom of last fall’s McPalin rallies that sought to tar the current President of the United States as a terrorist ally. Conservatron commentators are not directly at fault for the violence, but violence is the logical extreme of soft-serve racism that has been the engine of their ideology.  That’s how it shook out forty-one years ago when the Conservatrons first attained power.

As Long as We Are Talking Identity Politcs with the New Justice

How about a Native American? Given the unique and unusual relationship that American Indians have with the Federal government as citizens of various derivations of quasi-separate nations, a Native could provide a valuable perspective to the SCOTUS’ ruminations.

I have no idea if there is an able Native justice out there, but since there will be an element of “just because” to this selection then you might as well go with a Local.

Also, I welcome the inevitable Conservatron hyperventilating and projectile vomit of fnords over whoever Obama selects. Please let them fool themselves into believing that a proxy fight over whatever wedge issues no one cares about anymore is their way out of the wilderness. This is just proof positive that there is no need to take them seriously for now.

100 Days…

Is a meaningless arbitrary marker outside of FDR’s unique circumstances and only serves as filler for superfluous network bloviators and antiquated print “journalists”.

As for me, I am mostly happy with the start of Obama’s beginnings and gratified that the Conservatrons have validated my reasoning for jumping on the Obama bandwagon after Iowa: a black President has undermined the polite racism at the center of their ideology and thereby driven them crazy, leaving them with the missing-chromosome crowd’s accidentally hilarious teabaggery.

Now back to ice hockey….

No Bonuses This Year…

With the Great Economic Collapse and a host of other uncontrollable factors forcing the organization I am associated with to raise the price of our service by at least ~10% we have already been told that the relatively modest bonuses (~2k per year before taxes) we normally receive for achieving organizational objectives will not be forthcoming in 2009. Indeed, sensing this possibility management already did not give itself any bonuses for 2008.

To the Bailout Corporate Welfare Queens: this is what is known as leadership, you venal Demon Piglets!

Waaaaahhhhhh! I Want My Bonus! Waaaahhhhh! Bonus!

Some cheese with you whine, Mr. DeSantis?

Is it fair that a good employee, the proverbial .350 batting average and 44 home run superstar on the last place team, should be harried and harassed and heckled into handing back his AIG bonus? No. But guess what? Life isn’t fair! Even for bright and able bloviators like Mr. DeSantis. “‘Shit happens!’ It’s not Just for the Bottom 99% Anymore!” Now, shit happens to plutocrats too!

Boo-fucking-hoo.

It’s really not that complicated. The American Street is not  trying to claw back the lip smacking kills of successful business Cenetaurs along with the weasel gains of the Credit Default Swappers willy-nilly. Rather, America does not want to see AIG, the Mothership holding both these heroes and villains, pay extra compensation to any of its employees when the scope of its overall failures are threatening to deep six the economy.The 742K Mr. DeSantis is sniffing about is money we gave AIG to fix its problems, not award its “Team.” The super star on the last place roster does not get to participate in the playoffs.

How can anyone not understand that they themselves should not be getting a bonus from their employer the year that their employer lost the most money in corporate history? The ham-handed outrageousness is almost too consuming to comprehend.

I’m sorry that life sucks and you are not be rewarding for your hard work the way you thought you’d be, Mr. DeSantis. But you were a well-equipped player in a free market, and that’s the risk you took when you signed on with AIG, whether you knew it or not. Lets be clear as a glacial lake here: The American people did not fail you. Nor did it’s polity. Nor even did its goofus politicos. AIG failed you. AIG’s Credit Default Swappers failed you by being venal; AIG’s management failed you by fanning and facilitating their venality.

So please, return to your domicile and appreciate your rich fortune in being able to ride out the Great Economic Collapse in relative comfort. I’m sure there is a  well-equipped bright and able person anxious to do your job for 150K a year and no bonus.

America Fail!

If our country cannot stop AIG from giving bonuses to their employees after receiving an astronomical bailout, and if America cannot claw back those bonuses once they have been given, and, if indeed our Government is either unable or unwilling to reprimand these demon piglets in any way then our system doesn’t work.

If the *fnord* populist *fnord* impulse to stay on hold on the phone until you can speak to an actual hominid and shriek “I want my fucking money back!” or to throw rocks at the AIG building, or to drag one of their executives out of his platinum tower and mug him and send him to the Bowery with a broken femur and missing teeth make more self-evident sense the empty huffing and puffing from Congress and Team Obama, then President Obama is more in danger of having his salutary Presidency swallowed by a Jacobian spirit than our institutional polity realizes.

Nationalize them! Liquidate them! Fire the venal nitwits and advertise their jobs for 150K a year and healthy benefits and no bonuses!

It’s time to act! It’s the cerebral thing to do.

Brodeur's White Album Moment

There are one hit wonders. There are those who earn intrepid followings.

And then there are those that add to the normal.

In their more Lennonist turnings the Beattles were a revolutionary band, and no song subverted the dominant paradigm more than Birthday from the White album. This ditty has no ideology, but it was conceived for the purpose of setting itself aside the indelible Happy Birthday to You, which is probably the most ubiquitous song in the English language. It succeeded.

With his 552nd record breaking win Martin Brodeur made his own Birthday. Cutting the Net will be the new momentous goalie celebration evermore.

Check and Mate

“I know that we haven’t agreed on every issue thus far, and there are surely times in the future when we will part ways. But I also know that every American who is sitting here tonight loves this country and wants it to succeed. That must be the starting point for every debate we have in the coming months, and where we return after those debates are done. That is the foundation on which the American people expect us to build common ground.”

May have noticed that the Conservatron legs were a little creaky in rising for the applause line in bold above. That’s because their entire ideology is predicated on some people loving their country more than others, or somehow being more American than others. Of course, in the unofficial State of the Union context, no Conservatron could sit through that statement, even as it drove a stake through their fetid dark hearts.

All that leaves the Conservatrons is Bobby Jindal the Page, sounding like he is reading a children’s book full of false choices and nonsense, having his own McCain Green Screen moment.

2009 Will Be More Like 1933 than 1993

The Stim will soon be passed with fractional Conservatron support. The sample size is small, but two situations similar to this one offer potential guidance on how the politics of this will play out.

Example One is 1933 when FDR passed a substantial part of his New Deal legislation with minimal GOP support. The media back then was owned almost entirely by the same class of people that attempted a fascist Coup against FDR. In spite of the negative reaction from the out-of-powers-that-be, the Democrats expanded their majorities in the 1934 mid-terms and FDR won more states and total votes in 1936 than he did in 1932. This neat feat was accomplished even as the Depression dragged on because, regardless of what the Conservatron elite claimed, the New Deal made things better. Where once there was no job, now one was a part of the CCC. You didn’t have electricity, but after the New Deal, you did. This self-evident improvement was the cornerstone of the Progressive Populism that reigned over the American polity until 1968.

Example Two is Clinton’s Balance Budgeting of 1993. The 1993 recession was not as bad as the Great Depression; but personal desperation is personal desperation, regardless of how society at large is fairing. Clinton came into office without a popular majority and could not get a stimulus bill through Congress and had to nix the Middle Class tax cut that he had campaigned on. The Budget Bill that finally passed reduced taxes on the poorest Americans, raised them on the richest Americans, and cut the budget. Although the economy soon recovered it did not begin producing many new jobs until late 1995. Without the stimulus or the Middle Class tax cuts, and with typical venal negativity from the Conservatrons and their water carriers in the media, the lot of most Americans did not appear to improve. The Democrats got trounced in the 1994 mid-terms and Clinton had to largely play defense for the rest of the 90s.

The Great Economic Collapse is closer to the Great Depression than the early 90s recession, but in many ways self-evident improvements are harder to establish. Developing and deploying non-GHG emitting energy through an Apollo style program would better the lives of everyone on the planet and probably set the stage for an economic boom. It would also take several years before the benefit became obvious.

My instinct (and it is just that) is that the full extent that America is screwed economically has not become entirely apparent yet. While the Stim is probably not enough, it is something, and could well be just about the only game in town for quite sometime. More importantly is includes most of Obama’s promised tax cut. Conservatrons can poo-poo the $13 per week nature of it, but having an additional $26 in each bi-weekly paycheck will make a tremendous difference to this typical American because it extends, for one day, the amount of time at the end of a pay period when I am not broke. That the Conservatrons cannot grok this demonstrates just how far through the looking glass they have fallen.

The Stimulus will create or preserve jobs for millions of Americans, and it will put some important extra dollars in the pocket of everyone. It will be up to Obama and the Democrats to keep on pointing out these benefits to underline them for those that are not directly assisted. With the economy lagging but the Stimulus bill providing a few sparks of sustenance the Democrats should be poised to win a few House Seats and, more importantly, a couple more Senate seats.

With over sixty Senators Obama may be able to complete the New Deal/Great Society and pass Universal Health Care, thereby providing the last technologically feasible self-evident benefit to everyone and setting up a landslide reelection in 2012.

Belated Inauguration Day Diary

On January 19, Mr. MacGergor and ST navigated to the parking spot in Northern Virginia that we had found on Craigslist. The owner of the home attached to the parking spot let us sleep on her couch, gratuis. Anything for an Obama volunteer, she said.

There were only a few hours for sleep before the cellphone alarm woke us at 3:00 AM. We dressed, swallowed some coffee, and walked to the Vienna Metro station that was across the street. There was already an impressive line of cars waiting to park there. We made our way to the Metro and at 4:00 AM it lumbered towards DC as the inhabitants stuffed inside cheered.

After a few stops the train was packed like a tin of spam and many people were left on the platform, unable to negotiate the tangle of bodies inside. We exited with much of the throng at the Federal Triangle and began to step towards the Capitol building. The Washington Monument and the Capitol itself glowed in their electrical light in the pitch darkness of that cold morning like great ivory Totems.

capitol-am

We stopped six rows back from a steel barrier. This was about as close as you could get without a ticket. Before we had time to even think if we were in the optimal spot, countless hominids were standing behind us.

inauguration-am-crowd1

The immediate crowd around us appeared to be over 90% African-American and largely college age. Two older women stood out. One said that she had marched on Washington with MLK in 1963. The other had no story, but was wearing fine clothes and was glowing and beaming from the very core of her being. As the morning darkness gave way to sunrise people coming and going  jostled the crowd. You had no choice but to grab your companion and let the multitude take you where it would. Somehow, this joyous woman aglow always managed to migrate closer to the front with each tectonic shift. She’s the one wearing the fuzzy purple and black hat in front of the leather jacketed arm in the photo below.

purplehat

Every community has its demon. At Mr. MacGregor and ST’s corner of the Inauguration, our demon presented himself as two paramedics hurried an elderly gentleman that had collapsed out of the crowd. The demon followed the tunnel that the paramedics made through the multitude, and planted himself in the front of the throng. Despite substantial hate from all those around him and the glacial movements of the masses he did not budge from his perch directly in the way of most of my pictures. He was tall and, ironically, hooded. He will be reincarnated as a batch of herpes atop a hemorrhoid.

douchebag

The early chants of “Fired up! Ready to go!” and other songs dimmed as exhaustion set in. The sun did little to warm the day. Space only got tighter. ST and Mr. MacGergor were wise to eat their sandwich at about 9 AM, because shortly thereafter it became almost impossible to lift your arms up from your side. We chose not to drink any water, because we knew that a bathroom break would mean the surrender of our spot.

It was arctic freezing cold. Some gave up and bounced. “We’re from Florida,” one guy said on behalf of his girl, “we don’t do this.”

Early portions of the program at least provided entertainment in the numbing cold. The appearance of Generalissimo Bush on the Jumbotron ignited a bellow of boos and hisses that morphed into arena-like renditions of “Hit the Road Jack” and “Hey Hey Goodbye.”

Finally, the show began. While the crowd never quite quieted down, the waiting finally became worth it as the benediction echoed, Joe was sworn in, Aretha sang, and Yo Yo et al “played.”

The Moment finally came. I will admit that I always feel a slight itching at the bottom of my heart whenever I see Obama. There is a tiny part of me that is waiting and fearing a fatal gun shot. This tension was a touch higher than usual just then, and I was trying really hard to get a photo of history around the obstructive hood of the demon. In that moment, Justice Roberts’ oath snafu was but a weird hiccup that could not dent the speed of those seconds. This is what I got:

history

Obama’s speech lacked a singular line. It was a series of topic sentences that severed the ties from these awful eight years. The snuffles I heard were a combination of tears and running noses from the cold. A few tears, in my case, at hearing something aspirational and sensical from a real President at long last. The crowd clapped and cheered, and then began to disperse. We wanted to stay for the poem and convocation, but after being compressed like a ball of krill for so long, it was counterintuitive not to get out of there immediately.

Before we got swallowed in the wayward exiting of the crowd, we watched as Marine One, the Pesidential helicopter, flew over the Mall like a giant grasshopper, spiriting Generalissimo Bush away, at last. The balloon animal in my intestines suddenly unwound, my chest  relaxed, and my shoulders felt lighter. It was truly over. Generalissimo Bush was gone!

Getting out of DC was a dress rehearsal for being a refuge. All in all, we did not actually sit down for 12 consecutive hours. Somehow, the Turnpike was closed, which added another hour to the journey back to Central New Jersey. A warm cheesesteak and a good nights sleep later, and it was all definitely worth it.

A few days later Mr. MacGregor and ST were headed towards Ellis Island. We were surprised to see Ken Salazar, the new Secretary of the Interior, as our ferry stopped at Liberty Island. The ferry followed his special Secretary of Interior boat to Ellis Island and we got a good view of him meeting some functionaries there. Turns out he was in NY/NJ harbor at the behest of local Congressmen that wanted the upper reaches of the Statue of Liberty reopened. In means iconic and minute change had finally come to America.

salazar

Somehow, seeing Secretary Salazar clarified the whole purpose our trip to President Obama’s Inauguration. The eight terrible years are over. America is America again!

americanflags

statueofliberty

Onward to the Obamagration and the 2010s!

In a few hours I will be hitting the road with my girlfriend to Northern Virginia to sleep briefly in a stranger’s house (anything for a fellow Obama volunteer, the stranger said) and then taking the first Metro into DC to wait with a few million more strangers, in the cold, to see the 44th President sworn in on a jumbotron about a mile away from where the actual event will occur. Why such an effort for an event that could be happily viewed in the warmth and comfort of my parent’s home in NJ, a miamosa in one hand, pancakes and warm syrup on the plate, family and a pleasant canine all around?

Well, there has been much talk about America’s first black president, which is important for an infinity of reasons, but in addition to that here are some more purposes for the journey:

* Obama is America’s first “urban” president since perhaps FDR. By urban I mean that he generally spent his formative years in multi-cultural and densely populated areas. This is in stark contrast to all other recent President except for, perhaps, JFK who made a large to do about their rural origins, as if this confided some sort of sincerity superiority along with giving a nod to the Ghost of Disinterest.

*  Upon reading “Dream From My Father” it is evident that, like me, Obama is the rare and often misunderstood INTP personality type on the Miers-Briggs assessment.

* Obama is the first non-Southern President since JFK. I know I know, Nixon and Reagan were Californians and Ford was from Michigan. But Ford was never elected, even as a Veep, and Nixon and Reagan were Southern in their perpetuation of reactionary, divisive, politics. Even liberal Southerners like Clinton had to surf this resentment-oriented terrain. LBJ changed it through Civil Rights legislation, but with the knowledge that Democrats (and with them, Progressives) had lost the South for a generation. Well, the ceremonial power in the hands of a black President will completely obliterate this assumption, for all but the most pathetic Conservatron dead enders, for good.

* Obama is the first President since the 1960s to have not had his idea of the world forged by that decade. Rather than refighting the ancient wars of the sixties and ruminating on the histrionics of the Boomer experience, perhaps we can actually solve problems.

* Obama is not Generalissimo Bush, meaning, at least, that he is intelligent, has read more than one book on a given subject, and is capable of speaking in complete sentences with words with multiple-syllables.

* Obama actually groks and uses technology. This is hardly a big deal, except when you consider that we have been governed by someone that didn’t for the last endless eight years.

So, overall, after almost 30 years of being governed by people that are not at all like me in physical location, formative experience, or thought process, I am proud to finally have a President that is, somewhat, akin to me and people I know. The Florida Putsch in 2000, the crimes of Tom Delay, the awful frustration of progress, and the sadness and embarrassments of the last eight years and the Bush junta may have seemed like the brutal exercises of the powerful. They were not. Rather, they were the whiny death throes of a mediocre and failed ideology that had little support. After all, popular and wise ends would never have necessitated such undemocratic and viscous means.

The Conservatron Era of 1968-2008 — a reactionary time of fear, hate, resentment, stupidity, vitriol and mediocrity — is over. The 2010s, the crucial decade, begin on Tuesday!

"There is No Decent Place to Stand in a Massacre"

The title of this post is taken from a Leonard Cohen song. Even out of context, only a poet can distill these eight diabolical and embarrassing years. A massacre. A massacre, literally, for the tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis and brave “Coalition” soldiers needless killed in Iraq. A massacre, truly, for the swollen and dead in New Orleans. A massacre, figuratively, for the millions jobless or struggling, or otherwise victims of the Great Economic Collapse. The list of agonies flows on like a forever dropping jaw.

Others have certainly cataloged the cavalcade of Conservatron chicanery of the last eight years with precision. I am more concerned with where the rest of us stood in the massacre.

Remember, remember we must remember fellow Americans the Fear Years. That awful epoch between 9/11/01 and early 2004 when Generalissimo Bush turned any sense of humanity stemming from 9/11 and twisted it into Iraq War II. Disagreement was deemed betrayal. Our real enemies were allowed to skitter away and regroup. The reign of Generalissimo Bush is now almost universally recognized as a mammoth failure. But Bush was no more and no less of a failure in the Fear Years than he is now. He was no more or less of a venal demon then as he is now. The falsity and surrealism of the Iraq venture was evident then with as much critical thinking as it takes to decipher the nutrition label on a cereal box. The only thing that has changed is us. If America had a Parliamentary system then Generalissimo Bush would have been bounced from the White House long ago. Yet, stuck with him as we are, his power has been largely drained by his unpopularity. We proved we could cauterize the wound. Yes Bush deserves the brunt of the blame for the massacre. But we all let it happen.

What more could we have done? I myself argued the evil and stupidity of the Iraq War and Generalissimo Bush in general, often to barking, furious rejoinders from my countrymen. Others marched, which I thought would be ineffectual. I voted the right way. Horror at how Generalissimo Bush was mutating America (and the ineffectual response to it from Democrats) was an impetus for this blog. These are all well and good gestures on the “I told you so” level, but the massacre still happened. Not enough of us made a large enough effort to prevent it.

We all share the culpability of our America’s comprehensive failure during the Fear Years. All we can do now is learn from our errors. Know then, America, that “it” did happen here and “it” can happen here again. The kind minds of your friends and neighbors can be forged and fluxed by anger and anxiety into cheering the violence and delusions of a man of fear and hate. The words of our Constitution and laws are only words. They are nothing if their letter is usurped and ignored. The American experiment is fragile and can be aborted into a bizarre kind of fascism if we let it.

Remember America! Remember the Fear Years! Remember America’s fascist moment! Remember the massacre!

"South Park" Wusses Out on the 2008 Election

From the moment that Bush Patsy McCain chose Nilap for vice-president the 2008 election felt like an episode of the old South Park, the one that was fresh and consistently funny. If the stakes hadn’t been so high, the whole ’08 caper would’ve been hilarious. Indeed, “‘Joe’ the ‘Plumber’” feels more a denizen of the basic shapes cartoon than reality. (As Kenny’s dad, perhaps?)

Parker and Stone only took about a week to turn aggravation with the Star Wars blunder Jar Jar Binks into ferocious satire. They even popped out a topical episode about 9/11 as quickly after “everything changed” as was socially acceptable. So why were they silent through a two year election that forced all of America’s goopy, agonized and weird feelings about race to the fore? Why was South Park mute in an election where millions of boomer feminists transformed Hillary Clinton’s long march into a catharsis for a lifetime of frustrations, only to see the goof city Sarah Nilap turn the “Hillary, women, ME given the shaft!” collective thought wave into a parody of itself?

Methinks the reason is that all of the annoying roustabout regarding Obama’s blackness, Hillary’s tears, and Nilap’s aw shucks fascism was the sound of America’s subterranean emotions about gender and race — which was the star stuff of so many of the later, not as funny, “South Parks” — being expressed. As these things became real topics in our polity, they stopped being “yeast for the daily fucking grind,” as Bill Hicks once said, and therefore grounds for satire.

What would’ve been funny, even after the fact, was the South Park treatment applied to Bush Patsy McCain’s dadaist attempts to keep Nixonian resentment-mongering alive through Nilap, “‘Joe’ the ‘Plumber,’” absurd campaign tactics, and finally guilt by association “terrorist” claims that made his later rallies sound like the part of The Wall where Pink becomes a Nazi. (“That one in the spotlight he don’t look right to me, get ‘im up against the wall.) Instead, South Park finally addressed the 2008 election by placing all of the candidates into a Jewel Thief Ring and playing it as a parody of “perfect crime” movies. Yes, there was some bits about the tiring over-exuberance of Obamites and the silly fatalism of McCainers with some general support of Obama there between the lines, but given the material, it was weak sauce.

Anyhow, South Park was a Bush Patsy through much of this venal, miserable decade (“No Satan,” lied Saddam, “it’s a chocolate chip factory”) so fuck it anyway.

Obama Appears to Choose the Eisenhower Model

Obama campaigned as a 21st century update of Andrew Jackson, but it appears that his model for governing is going to be Dwight David Eisenhower.

Obama and Ike are surprisingly similar. Ike was adored for being vital to winning World War II, but was a political ink blot. No one knew if he would run as a Democrat or Republican at first. Although he had to throw the Conservatrons of his day a bone by Veeping Nixon his administration was centrist to the point of being almost non-ideological — Nixon had almost no portfolio as VP (today Ike seems more Democrat than Republican). Obama is an obvious liberal, yet his calls for post-partisanship and his relatively thin voting record coupled with the acknowledged practice of others grafting their own aspirations onto his barrier breaking story makes Obama, oddly, a vague quantity akin to Ike despite Obama’s detailing of his policies in the 08 campaign.

Ike and Obama are both unlikely Presidents. Ike wasn’t a politician, but his military expertise was ideal for 1952 when the quagmire in Korea appeared unsolvable. Obama has less experience than most Presidents, but his newness and potential energy are the canvass on which the 2010s will be written; in 2008 Obama was the necessary redeemer for what Leonard Cohen calls America’s “spiritual thirst” in the bitter wake of the venal Bush occupation.

Eisenhower translated his novelty into action by delegating. Due to his dowdy public persona, Ike was criticized for being a hands off or even clueless president. We now know that he was intent and engaged behind the scenes. He took his military experience and applied it to his cabinet by giving his subordinates room to succeed and fail, while using the bully pulpit and the ceremonial aspect of the presidency to maintain his own personal popularity rather than trying to sway the polity to his vision, which was largely “post-partisan” anyway.

Obama has chosen more of a Team of Experts than a “Team of Rivals”. His cabinet includes sitting politicians like Salazar and Clinton with their own power bases and political capital. For the more technical work like energy and environmental policy (despite the broad passions stirred by these issues, actual work on them is all about nuances of details) Obama has chosen able technocrats that will be led by Carol Browner in a new energy/environment coordinator role. Vice-President Biden will be the point person on the economic stimulus activity.

Obama appears to be updating the Eisenhower Model by giving substantial ownership of policy to his cabinet members/subordinates, while largely staying above the fray himself. Hopefully, he will also use his preternatural talent as the greatest Persuasive Leader of his generation to create the space for his team to succeed.

This is brilliant politics for three reasons. 1.) Giving ownership of policy to subordinates makes Obama harder to hit. Early in the reign of the Bush junta Progressives were driven to distraction by the very visible Rumsfeld and Ashcroft, but Bush remained popular and Rumsfeld and Ashcroft only became unpopular when Bush did. The Public at large does not care about Secretaries, but ideologues do. By leading with his subordinates Obama will force the Conservatrons to swing wildly to try to hit him. Their foolish fixation on trying to link Obama to Blagojevich is an early example of this and has, of course, been a massive FAIL. Subsequent attempts by Conservatrons will be cat-chasing-tail exercises because scandalmongering for the sake of scandalmongering does not reflect the seriousness of the times, but Obama’s “no red America, no blue America, just the United States of America” trope does. That the Conservatrons have completely abandoned this high ground is astounding in its stupidity 2.) When Obama does stake political capital on a policy outcome it is more likely to be effective and decisive because it will occur relatively rarely and only after his subordinate has spent his or her political capital. 3.) Everyone prefers a boss that does not micromanage. I imagine that one of the reasons that Obama’s campaign was so tight is that he let his people do their part their way. Obama is more likely to win the devotion of his Team of Experts by following Eisenhower’s model.

Eisenhower’s governing style was not a complete success. After his heart attack in his second term Ike appeared to lose some control of his administration and it became mired in silly scandals and transgressions. The Republicans got trounced in the 1958 mid-terms. The U2 Spy Plane incident seemed to be a sign of Ike’s detachment. Still, when all was said and done and remembered Ike was popular and maintained the Leadership necessary to make a credible warning about the Military-Industrial Complex in his farewell address.

Team Obama is filled clever, able people that are also keen students of history. I think they can perform even better than Team Eisenhower.