Monthly Archives: August 2004

The Mother of all Flip-Flops

At first, I was startled that Bush was giving what seemed to be an honest assessment: we cannot win the war on terrorism. Even if we construe that to mean what it really means–a geopolitical “warm” war between secular western technocracies and reactionary Islamic jihadists–it could not be won militarily absent the greatest genocide in recorded history.

Bush’s mistake was that he framed this “war on terror” as something that could occupy his entire eight-year term, thinking it would be a political capital ATM, when instead its very vagueness has rendered it a road with no mile markers, except for the capture of Osama bin Laden. If he had simply said, “We will destroy al-qaeda” he could have made history as fighting a not-hot, yet not-cold “warm” war against non-state terrorist groups that could have defined 21st century American triumphalism.

Instead, Bush followed a Victorian-era riff of imperialism. And why not? This isn’t really about defeating terrorism. When was the last time we concerned ourselves with Preuvian terrorists, or even the goings on in Central America, much less Africa?

No, even if this isn’t directly about oil, it’s only about terrorism near oil.

But instead, Bush engaged in the mother of all flip flops (“MOAFF-2004″). He declared today, that we will win the war on terror. Even the John Kerry of the imagination of late-night comics never made anything to compare with the MOAFF.

But, snickering a haw-haw I told you so, and he does it too isn’t going to do any good in a double-standard media world. (Where the outing of a New Jersey governor dominates several news cycles, and the gay-sex-chat of a homophoic bornagain congressman makes no headlines.)

There are two places we can be in, say, 2030. The democratic nations of the world, having rejected the use of fossil fuels, are mainly engaged in suppressing environmental security threats–such as the illegal importation of oil by developping nations–and other non-military destabilizing forces like poverty, water-scarcity, and ethnic strife. Or … we can be living in a time when the twentieth century is looked back upon as a Gold Age that frittered away in a Gilded one, where two different non-state actors, corporations and terrorists, war against each other.

Is Iraq The End of Globalization?

I’ve never been able to fully commit myself to either a pro- or anti-globalization position. On the one hand, I find it hard to believe that we will ever return to an era of isolationsim, and I do believe that trade can open up societies. On the other hand, you don’t have to look very far to see the negative consequences at home or abroad. Plus, any free-trade regime inevitably drifts toward oligopoly, in a sort of Aristotelian way (ie the way pure democracies become oligarchies etc.)

So, in the end, I come down supporting “fair trade” or some variation of it, whereby we keep the trade but have the kinds of international institutions that we have in the US. To the industry side, this is the same as isolationism, because it denies the benefit of multinational status: limited regulation

But, one of the unofficial “institutions” that has had to enforce trade arrangments, formal or informal, has been the US military. Protest all you want, but the only reason Iraq is on our radar, the only reason that Islamists might target us, is because of our history of exploitation in that region, which is, at least over the last 100 years or so, been connected with oil (as opposed to slavery before).

And to be sure, once we’re done fighting over oil, we’ll find something else… water maybe, to fight over, so long as there is a growing population in a limited and ever more used-up world.

But, given the present situation, there will probably have to be another 9/11 level event with a clear source to get the US politically ready to mobilize for another trade-poicing action again.

Given that, I ask, is the Iraq situation the end of globalization? Is it (if Viet Nam wasn’t) the end of American exceptionalism?

Willie Horton Was Real; SBVFT Aren't

Michael Dukakis, perhaps the Jove of the 20th century pantheon of Democratic losers, didn’t think he had to reply to Bush’s Willie Horton ad. He could have pointed out, for example, the furlough program that the federal government had used. He could have pointed out a dozen other ugly things about Bush, and, in the end he might have preserved his 20 point lead. But, he was a douche. Just like Mondale, just like Gore, just like McGovern… and the rest of the crew up on Loserlympus.

The image of a [fnord] black [fnord] felon [fnord] getting out of prison to desecrate your milky-white daughter was enough to forget Iran-Contra, the “Wimp,” the deficits, and Black Monday.

The thing is, whether or not that should have been, anyone with a brain knows that that kind of image would terrify white America. It was an effective, if dirty and racist, ad.

John Kerry is a different kind of Democrat. First of all, he has some balls. He’s killed people within a small radius of himself. I think the last Democratic presidential candidate to have done that was … ok, I’ll ask KenJen from Jeopardy, but I’d guess you’d have to go back a ways. (Submariners and air force pilots don’t count. I’m talking shooting someone with a gun). Well, ok, besides Vernon Jordan, if you’re a Republican.

In fact, I think Kerry baited the Republicans into attacking his Viet Nam record — how could he lose as long as anyone was smart enough to compare Bush’s [lack of[ service? They took the bait. And now Bush is, I daresay, flip-flopping on his response to the ads.

Above all else, these ads are simply untrue. Kerry saved that guy. Kerry had war wounds. End of story.

Apparently people agree. Look at the latest Zogby poll. If the election was held today, Kerry wins in a landslide.

Restore the Hetch-Hetchy.

The Sacramento Bee, which is quickly becoming my favorite paper for all things California, starts a series today on restoring the Hetch-Hetchy valley. (Depending on how you look at it, Hetch-Hetchy is either the other Yosemite valley, or San Francisco’s Mono Lake.)

I’ve been interested in this cause since I was younger than 10. It makes sense on many levels, and it may actually be reality one day. It may not even signify a single step towards a saner water policy in the west, but it at least remedies one of the ill-effects of the myopic decision to abandon the riparian system. (Too much water in Hetch-Hetchy, water at all in the Central Valley, no water in the Owens Valley, and the existence of Los Angeles are some of the bizarre effects of this policy.)

Update: This article was actually posted yesterday. The next in the series should be next Sunday.

EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it! NEWS NEWS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – One-third of President Bush (news – web sites)’s tax cuts have gone to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans, shifting more burden to middle-income taxpayers, congressional analysts said on Friday.

Gee, I was just waiting for someone to announce this, since I had no idea. < /snark>

Time to worry.

I think Kerry’s strategy of sitting back and let Bush screw up is going to start costing him in the coming weeks. I’ve seen encouraging polls from Florida and Michigan today, but I can’t help but freak out a little bit. It’s looking too good and there’s still too much time left.

The Bush attack machine is getting traction on Kerry’s war record. Stupid, yes, but they are.

I’m going to predict this: we’re close to tied after the RNC, and the debates better do some good for Kerry in Florida (I don’t see how Bush can win without Florida and Ohio).

Fed Hike: Call me "Stunned in San Luis"

Back in the days when you had to wear a tin-foil hat, hang out with Ayn Rand, and despair at the over-regulated ways of the Hoover administration, it was considered mainstream to believe in the twin pillars of the Fed: price stability and full employment.

Now, of course, every economist looking to make his name post-Keynes has developed more and more Ptolemaic gobbeldygook that has old Occam, rolling in his grave, despairing that his razor can’t be used to kill him again. And a big part of that theory is that full employment is really secondary, after all, to inflation control.

Because if you’re on the side of capital (as all supply siders are) you don’t want your capital to bleed away into oblivion. And, ahem, the richer the capitalists, the more money there is to trickle down, if only we could quit paying those silly taxes!

Of course all of that is nonsense, and none of the economic models that these ideas are founded on hold up to the data without above-said Occam-sickening epicycles.

Eventually we are just going to have to realize that we have to pay for some things. If we don’t want full employment, then we have to have a Euro style safety net. Otherwise, America will be a sewer.

That said, I haven’t seen him in a tinfoil hat lately but I know that he hung around in [sic] Ayn Rand, and I have seen Hoover restored in him: Alan Greenspan. The pure insanity of yesterday’s rate hike has me stunned here at home in San Luis Obispo.

Of course, not doing it after he had signalled he would would have made it clear that this is no soft patch, and probably cancelled irrevocably Hoover II’s second term (oopse, I mean Bush II).

Nader's Prophecy Comes True For Everyone – Except Nade

When he was not asserting that there is no difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush during the 2000 Presidential election, Ralph Nader presaged the radicalism of a Bush presidency by arguing that it would unite progressives and this would be a benefit of a Gore loss.

Now, almost four years later, it is safe to say that Mr. Nader was correct. Progressive groups that did not even prominently operate in 2000 like Americans Coming Together and MoveOn.org are making Herculean efforts in the 2004 elections on behalf of John. Michael Moore is backing Kerry, even a non-progressive like Howard Stern is on the bandwagon. From environmentalists to union members, from Hollywood to to the Bronx, from veterans to hippies everyone is lining up behind John Kerry to end the Bush (P)residency.

Everyone, that is, except for Mr. Nader who is engaging in another foolhardy presidential campaign that will, at best make the 2004 campaign too close to call (but close enough to steal), and at worst will guarantee that Mr. Bush, who embodies the antithesis of everything that Mr. Nader believes in, will be able to extend his occupation of the White House. That Mr. Nader needs Republican support to get him on any ballot should tell him all he needs to know about his candidacy. It is time for Mr. Nader to admit that he was right and do all that he can to make sure that George Bush loses this election – that is, he should be doing nothing.

The Fractal Nature of Geofinance.

Benoit Mandelbrot, the author of the epoch-making The Fractal Nature of Geomerty, recently released a tome entitled The (Mis)Behavior of Markets: A Fractal View of Risk, Ruin, and Reward.

This book challenges some of the first principles of economics and finance that underpin modern theory. If you’re a finance or a math geek, this book is for you. But there are also radical implications for politics contained in these shifts of the postualtes of financial theory.

Over the coming weeks, I will explore some of these implications including:

  • How we finance the national debt
  • Social security
  • Regulation of corporations and the security markets
  • Labor
  • The explosion of the efficient market theory and laissez-faire.
  • Globalization

I believe that this work will form the economic basis of a new progressive ideology, much the same way that “butterfly” economics have.

Stay tuned.

A Tie?

Scenario:

Bush: AK, ID, MT, WY, UT, AZ, CO, ND, SD, NE, KS, OK, TX, MO, AR, LA, IN, OH, KY, TN, MS, AL, WV, VA, NC, SC, GA, FL = 269 electoral votes.

Kerry: HI, WA, OR, CA, NV, NM, MN, IA, WI, IL, MI, PA, DC, MD, DE, NJ, CT, MA, RI, NY, VT, NH, ME = 269 electoral votes.

That’s a pretty plausible scenario. It’s 2000 with the updated 2004 electoral vote distribution, NH and NV to Kerry, where he has at times led in the polls.

Then it goes to the House, be delegation that would be 30-16 for Bush, unless there’s a big change. If the Senate swings Dem, John Edwards would be VP.

Imagine: a two term president with each term having an asterik next to it!

Justifying the internment.

Right-wing cunt-witch Michelle Mankin’s latest Coulteresque toilet-screed, In Defense of Internment, tries to defend the internment of the Japanese during WWII. She alleges that intercepts of Japanese messages were used to intern the Japanese, nevermind Generals claiming they couldn’t tell the good Japs from the bad, and Idaho governors demanding concentration camps for them, and Wyoming governors promising many a bended branch with hanging yellow man should concentration camps not be used–all of whom had no access to the Japanese intercepts.

(Wasn’t there something in the Right-Wing Bitching Guide® about “revisionist history?” Oh, I forgot–element one of the Right-Wing Bitching Guide® is that the standards contained herein do not apply to attacks from the Right.)

But to get lost in the historical inaccuracies of any toiletribe of this kind is to chase the stinkiest of red herrings. You do not destroy such a tapestry by pulling it apart thread by thread. You have to burn the whole damn thing.

This book is digging up old wounds under the shield of Anti-Politically-Correct Political Correctness and analogizing the evil liberal mistake to present times. Not only was it correct to intern them darn Japs, we should be using racial profiling against Arabs in the present day. Ah! Them libruls are week on terrur! The meme strikes again! Of course, anyone who doesn’t want to kill every Arab is “weak on terror.”

I could go on about the ineffectiveness of racial profiling, and the fact that ultimately, AQ will come up with terrorists of other nationalities (perhaps those Indonesians that bombed a night club?) , but why bother?

If it takes an analogy to the internment of the Japanese in WWII to justify Mankin’s solution to the war on terror, then she’s discredited the whole concept by doing so.

Another Failure on Terror

“We must understand that the kind of information available to us today is the result of the president’s leadership in the war against terror.”

-Tom Ridge Announcing a Terror Alert about possible attacks on New York City, Washington DC And Newark, New Jersey.
Is this terrorist alert in earnest? Or was it timed perfectly to scotch John Kerry’s post-convention momentum? No one can know for sure, but the fact that the question exists in most everyone’s mind and that Mr. Ridge has to defend his annoucement < http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20040803/ts_nm/security_alert_dc_29>, that is based on three year old data it turns out, demonstrates that the Bush team’s politicization of terror has undermined America’s security. If we can never be sure of the government’s intent and honesty when making these terror alerts then their effectiveness is compromised.
This is yet another reason that American cannot afford another four years of George Bush.
Mr. Bush’s father likely delayed the release of Iranian hostages to help Ronald Reagan defeat Jimmy Carter. Mr. Bush allowed a GOP putsch to intimidate vote counters in Florida, and stole an election with the help of false felon lists. This year these lists are already suspiciously full of blacks, but not right-leaning Latinos, and electronic voting machines across America appear to be unreliable.
Should a Kerry victory appear likely in late October and a horrifying terrorist attack then occurs, would you be 100% sure that the Bush team did not let it happen on purpose? I would not, and I suspect that many other Americans would not either, even if they would try to deny it and never say it in public.
Democracy cannot operate under these circumstances.

A Conservatron Pounces then he Bounces

Yesterday, on the HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher David Drier, the conservatron Congressman from California (who is, unfortunately, my former representative during my college years) duked it out with Michael Moore. In the middle of the fray was the former Prime Minister of Canada, whose name I do not remember. Their exchange, and Mr. Drier’s reaction to it, reveals what happens to conservatrons when they are thrust into a situation that has not been pre-choreographed to be advantageous towards them.

The fun began when Mr. Drier asserted that Mr. Moore’s notorious documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, was based on “patently false information.”

“Have you seen the movie,” Mr. Moore asked.

“No,” Drier replied, and the apparently majority left-of-center audience howled in laughter.

Mr. Moore and Mr. Drier leaned towards each other and began hollering over each other as though they were in a Robert Altman movie as the former Canadian PM sat in silence between them.

Mr. Drier attempted to assert that one of the Congressmen, whom Michael Moore asked to volunteer his children for Iraq War II, apparently had a nephew who is serving. Simultaneously, to the delight of the crowd, Moore continuously asked Drier, “Would you send your child to Iraq?” Mr. Drier never answered.

Eventually Maher and the Canadian PM cut off the argument and segued into a conversation with Bill Owen, the Governor of Colorado who is being groomed as the next faux-moderate conservatron to run for President. Although Mr. Owen successfully parried Maher’s questions about why the GOP are keeping their demon piglet standard bearers like Tom Delay out of sight at the convention whereas the Democrats gave prominent speaking slots to Ted Kennedy, Al Sharpton and other liberals, his discomfort was evident in his shifting shoulders and uneasy smile. The sight of seeing a Conservatron cornered and taken to task was rare and seemed to have made Mr. Owen’s pulse rate rise.

The next segment of the show focused on the famous seven minutes of Bush sitting in a Florida elementary school classroom staring into the camera like a lost fawn after being told of the terrorist attacks. Mr. Drier tried to stick to the talking points about Bush not wanting to scare the children and deciding that he needed to project calm for the nation. The prescient arguments of Moore, Maher and the Canadian PM, however, had Mr. Drier tap dancing as though controlled by a puppeteer on meth: “He is the President; he is target number one, every second he stayed there he was endangering those children.” “Would you be calling Clinton a stern leader if he had stayed for seven minutes?” “He is the President; it is his job to know what to do in that situation.” Mr. Drier stuck hard to his pre-recorded script and then pleaded that the situation was too tough for anyone. But there was no out for him in that studio. Maher is more of a libertarian than a liberal, but he has a stand up comic’s BS-detector and he was not about to let Drier off the hook, Moore was obviously going to let him have it, the Canadian PM was not acerbic, but she was clearly unsympathetic, and the crowd was not on his side. By the end of the exchange, Mr. Drier’s face was flushed and he was visibly flustered.

Ralph Nader was the next guest, and after a hilarious scene where Moore and Maher got on their knees and begged him to exit the race, Maher finished the show with his “New Rules” segment. As the camera pulled away Drier’s seat was empty, and not even tucked in. Somewhere between Nader’s introduction and the of “New Rules,” he bounced.

What was refreshing about the exchange is that for once it was the conservatron who had to beat back the forthright rhetoric of several liberals. When most cable and radio talk shows are not featuring a group of conservatrons talking amongst themselves; they generally have a lone liberal put into the position that Mr. Drier found himself in. If it is a one-on-one tet-a-tet then the moderator will never press either side on their argument. It is very easy to deal with the media for a Republican, all you have to do is memorize your talking points, say them and let the echo-chamber repeat them. It is too much to say that Drier cracked or in anyway made a fool of himself. His argument that Mr. Bush was being assuring and resolute by staring blankly into a camera during one of America’s darkest hours was, however, revealed as the nonsense that it is, and Mr. Drier’s flush face and subsequent retreat was proof positive that Conservatrons have to sweat when they are forced off their game.

Observation

Why does “libertarian” really mean conservative who’s too brainy and elite to watch NASCAR? If I said I was a lower-case “green” would anyone take that to mean a left-wing environmentalist that doesn’t eat organic foods?