Monthly Archives: June 2005

Another Job Killing Move By Greenspan

Apparently, The Fed thinks is knows something about oil prices that the rest of us don’t. Otherwise, it’s 25 basis point increase on the federal funds rate is hard to explain. The CW explains that May’s decrease in consumer prices had to do with oil prices. But May’s temporary drop in oil prices couldn’t have been reflected in consumer prices that fast.

Maybe the Bush economy has been producing too many jobs for Greenspan’s comfort. The labor market might have been getting too loose, so they are tightening it.

Reminder to Dems: They Don't Give A Shit

The Downing Street memo could say that Bush himself faked every intelligence document. It won’t change anything in the minds of about 35% of Americans, or perhaps more.

Nothing has so far. Not the torture scandals, nothing. And there’s a simple reason for this that is too hard for most liberals to accept: they just want to kill some muslims because of 9/11.

It’s classic bully syndrome. You’re third step dads beats your ass all over the trailer park, so you kick the shit out of all of the smaller kids at school. The smaller kids at school had nothing to do wit h your step dad, but damnit, if any of those kids look like him at all, they’re getting fucked up.

Until that’s out of our system, support for this war won’t go away.

Who's Keeping the Lights On in the Land of the Dead?

In the latest installment of George A. Romero’s “Dead” series some surviving humans have created a fortified safe city and make regular raids into Zombieland to gather supplies. The city is ruled by a corrupt elite that distracts the fetid masses with vice and drugs despite the earnest pleadings of an Irish Saul Alinsky who claims that all the people could live high on the hog as the elites do if they would only stick together. Meanwhile, the Dead have learned to communicate and experiment. They are becoming more human, and perhaps the humans have become a bit more Dead.

By the end of the movie the Dead have used their new precociousness to sack the city, the venal elite have been immolated, Saul Miclinsky and company are prepared to fight the Dead to create the city they believe in and our hero is headed to Canada because evidently Zombies are repelled by invisible political barriers.

Many commentators have drawn some obvious parallels between the film and life in Generalissimo Bush’s post-9/11 Conservatron dystopia, but what I found most fascinating about the film is that the city is fully wired and oiled. There are cars and motorcycles readily available to make raids, an electric fence protects the city, and most of the buildings appear to have electric lights. Somehow, a small human outpost in The Land of the Dead has managed to procure and maintain the massive amounts of fuel and infrastructure necessary to have the juice flowing and available 24/7/365.

Richard Heinberg’s must read book “The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies,” which is a rough draft of what a world without readily available energy would look like and a polemic for why such a world is likely, quantifies just what a luxury energy is: “Suppose human beings were powering a generator connected to one 150-watt light bulb. It would take five people’s continuous work to keep the light burning. A 100-horsepower automobile cruising down the highway does the work of 2000 people…. Each of us has the equivalent of over 50 ‘energy slaves’ working for us 24 hours each day.”

In other words, our mastery of energy allows almost all Americans to live a lifestyle equivalent to the Southern plantation aristocracy of antebellum times, who only instigated a Civil War to keep their “way of life.”

I know it was just a movie and it’s necessary to suspend disbelief. Still, it is telling that a talented, creative auteur could imagine a world where lurching armies of the living dead stalk the countryside, yet could not fathom existence without the accustomed availability and distribution of energy.

Debt Relief Is A Token, Bleeding-Heart Non-Solution

With the US military deeply engaged in Iraq, a country with a relatively educated populace and well-known natural resources, engaged ostensibly to bring democracy, the war on poverty has focussed on Africa.

While commendable, debt relief for African relations means nothing for them, nothing for us. It won’t make a dent in the finances of the countries who own the debt, and it won’t do anything for the poor citizens in Africa, for two main reasons.

First, this does not change their interface with the outside world. It is quite possible that they will simply incur more debt. It doesn’t give them new natural resources. It might ease trade and lower taxes, but it does not reform their economic systems. How much evidence more do we need to realize that developing economies cannot withstand deregulated capitalism? “Debt relief” means nothing except these countries continued participation in an economic order that has been nothing short of vampiric.

Second, even assuming absolutely none of the problems above existed, it does nothing to change the real problems in most of Africa: corrupt, unstable cleptocracies. If you could borrow millions for your own benefit knowing that thousands of others labor could pay it off, it might be hard to resist, but it makes no difference whether it’s that labor or “debt relief” that does it.

If the US army packed up its gear and swept through to Cape Horn on its way out of Iraq, it might have a chance to atone for the mess in Iraq. Unfortunately, the selfish and not the selfless have spent all of America’s desire to intervene abroad.

PBS Is A Relic.

Are Democrats raising hackles on trimming PBS funding just to score political points? I hope so, because politically, it’s a winner. Policy-wise, though, it’s wrong. Leave policy to the governing majority, I suppose.

PBS is a relic of the Golden Age, when public institutions matter in (white) America. Just as its probably not a mere corrolation that school funding declined in response to desegregation, (white) America’s interest in other public institutions has declined the more people feel like it gives advantage to people who, you know, don’t work as hard as they do.

I don’t usually engage in this kind of New Left identity politics tripe, but in this case, I think it would be totally intellectually dishonest to deny that racism played a role in the decline of the public square post Brown.

But whatever the cause, the public square is dead in America outside of a few blue-state urban enclaves. Public transportation is characteristically un-American (agian, outside of these few enclaves), unions are in single digits. And not all of this is bad.

Just compare American television to the rest of the world. Most of the rest of the world’s broadcast television makes PBS look like Cinemax on Saturday night. It’s horrible. American television in 2005 is not a public thing. It’s driven by consumer choice, and mostly through cable and satellite.

This is a tough argument for Democrats to support, because the media out there is so skewed to the right that it seems that there must be some causal connection between the rise of Right Wing media and the end of the fairness doctrine and the rise of privately held satellite. It may smell funny that large corporations and deregulation ideologues pushed a lot of this through, but there is nothing stopping left-wing media. Just look at AirAmerica–it’s kicking butt, and I can listen to it anyone on satellite radio.

Even though it’s not a news channel, you are insane to deny that HBO is, if not itself “liberal”, is aimed at liberals. Larry David loses his erection when attempting to have sex with a Bush supporter. Bill Maher … heh… enough said. Peter Krause constantly bitches about Bush on Six Feet Under. Michael Imperioli underhandedly digs at Bush on The Sopranos by having his nimwit character voice support for the President.

There is “liberal media” even if there isn’t much liberal news or talk radio, and that statement doesn’t even account for the internet. It’s there if you want it, and it’s there because of deregulation. It’s in the minority, yes, but that can and will change.

The fairness doctrine and public broadcasting may have created a perceived “liberal” bias, but it was nothing more than mealy-mouthed milquetoast Establishment centrist garbage, which is more or less what you get from the Washington Post, The New York Times, et al.

Saving PBS is stupid. It’s a relic of a bygone era. It doesn’t contribute a thing to Democratic causes, and it will be preserved locally where it’s wanted, like New York and San Francisco, and, perhaps by DirecTV and Sirius satellite subscriptions.

So take yourself out of your partisan bickering mode and ask yourself if you’d rather have HBO and Air America… or PBS. Maybe that’s a false dichotomy, but its also a false dream to imagine that we can go back to the airwaves and media of the 60s, or that doing so will somehow stop the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

Dispicable Chicken Shit Democrats

Why are there Democrats out there criticizing Howard Dean’s comments that the Republican party is the white christian party. It is, isn’t it? Are they even going to deny that? That he dislikes or hates what Republicans stand for. Should we? I do. That he doesn’t think many Republicans make an honest living? That might be a bit of a wierd comment, but if he’s talking about right-wing media pundits or Congressional Republicans, then he’s probably right.

Being a chicken shit, mealy mouthed, pussy ass party has much more to do with Democrats being out of power than a few stray partisan (partisan! god forbid!) comments by the DNC chairman.

And God knows it hasn’t been working.

The modern Conservative moment set high goals and has achieved many of them. Even if they fall short of the total repeal of the New Deal and banning abortion, they’ve made a lot of progress towards those goals.

What are the goals of Republican ass kissers like Joe Biden? To pass as many 2,000 page programs tailored to be “reasonable” to the “centrists” that no one understands or gives a shit about? (like the bankruptcy bill he voted for?!)

Democrats should be fixated on bringing America in line with other first world nations with respect to health care, education, the environment, and jobs, all while maintaining our ability to defend ourselves, but without belligerent wars of choice.

Is that so hard to understand? No, it’s easy, just like the Conservative ideal of individual liberty and responsibility trumping government in as many aspects of life as possible.

We can have Pro-Life Democrats. We can have Democrats who support the Iraq war, Democrats who are cuddly with business, but we can’t have Democrats who pop off just to score a few cheap political points at the expense of their own party.

I hear a lot of crap from Red State Dems about having to disassociate from people like Dean. Bullshit. You’re showing a guilty conscience. Stay on message. I have yet to hear Arnold say word one about President Bush even though it would probably score him a lot of points here in California.

STOP BEING FUCKING PUSSIES. You make me sick. Fuck you. You pussy ass Democrats are starting to be just as much at fault for the Republicans running shit as they are. Stop being fucking pussies. Stop nominating douchebag assholes like John Kerry. Damn it.

The Practice of a New Progressive Ideology

Once again, Portland proves it’s possible.

The city and Multnomah County announced yesterday that carbon dioxide emissions had fallen to 0.1% below 1990 levels. Nationwide, CO2 levels rose more than 17% over the same 15 years.

There are several factors that contributed to this success, but the goal of reducing emissions itself is the most important. To hear Bush/Inhoffe Conservatrons speak it is impossible to control emissions and simoultaneously grow the economy.

But Portland’s commitment to environmentalism is an economic driver. An ordinance to compost restaurants’ food waste has led a Washington State composting company to open a branch here. Environmentalism has created new jobs while costing restaurants about one day of additional training for their current staff.

Sustainability – inserting environmental and social values into once purely economic decisions – creates a stronger and healthier economy and grows jobs.

Making this positive argument, instead of depressing “the end is near” battles over remote tracks of land, should be the crux of the politics of neoprogressive environmentalism.

The Heart of A New Progressive Ideology

What’s at the heart of the quest for a “new” progressive ideology? In short, it has to be a commitment to applying the simple, concise first principles of human dignity to present-day and clearly anticipated future problems.

It means that, in case you haven’t noticed, the influence of the 20th century’s great Democrats has almost entirely been eclipsed. It means that you don’t oppose social security reform because it’s “working,” you oppose it because Bush’s reform is asinine and is designed to destroy social security.

Nothing in the last few months shows how stark the contrast is between old and new progressives than the obsession over federalism and the decision of the Supreme Court in the Raich case. The “liberal” bloc voted to uphold the overreach of the Federal government. One report explained that they were haunted by Jim Crow.

The Commerce Clause was used by the Warren Court to uphold the Civil Rights Act. Justice Douglas suggested that all of these civil rights laws could be upheld by section 5 of the 14th Amendment, which gives Congress explicit authority to remedy racial inequities. At the time, a 19th century precedent stood in the way of this interpretation and wasn’t taken. How ridiculous.

Using the Commerce Clause opened the door for Congress to pass just about any law. Conservatives shrewdly keyed on this issue while in the minority, and managed to get at least 3 justice on the Court with a serious commitment to “Federalism.” I think they rightly held in Lopez and Morrison that Congress’s reach was not unlimited.

And the Ninth Circuit has outmanoevered the Supreme Court again. As with child porn, the 9th circuit said fine: we’ll use your precedent to uphold a pro-drug law. Show us how committed you are to this principle! And the Supremes blinked, most likely because of who-will-be-the-next-Chief-Justice politics.

But why on earth did the 4 liberals vote to uphold federal powre here? Because they felt the need to protect the civil rights act.

Please do not file this under the category of those who deny racism exists. It exists today. The effects of slavery are still a burden on their descendants. But racism in 2005 is vastly different than racism in 1965. It is not only directed at blacks (it wasn’t ever this anyway…) . It is not “overt.” It is subtle, subconscious even. Putting aside the notion that the Civil Rights Act could be upheld under the 14th Amendment, even if it was struck down by the Supreme Court, it would simply require Congress or the States to address today’s problems instead of age old problems.

A New Progressive with his head in 2005 and not 1905 would realize that it is Progressives that hold all of their power in states, not reactionaries. The Conservatives rule the federal government, so limiting its power makes sense.

Justice Thomas has shown that he is committed to this principle no matter what the subject matter (except elections, I guess). He’s the only one. Strange bedfellows indeed.

What's the matter with Europe?

With the Netherlands saying ‘nee’ to the EU constitution, one wonders what’s going on with the EU and just how bad the damage is.

I’m of Norwegian descent. Norway is not a member of the EU. On a practical level, Norway did not stand to gain much due on the one hand to its natural resources and its relative cultural homogeneity. I spoke with my relatives about the EU vote at the time, in the early 90s, and I was surprised by what a lot of them had to say.

What surprised me is that the Norwegian equivalent of “blue staters” had a lot of anxiety about dilution of their culture by immigration. They also felt little in common with people in, say, Portugal.

I think these same anxieties are at work in the rest of Europe. Europe, you see, from an industrialist’s level, is in sore need of workers. A lot come from the middle east and africa, and, more and more, and not assimilating into their target country’s culture. None of the countries in the EU have the immigrant spirit that the US does (or did). Cultural identity is much stronger, even in the liberals there, and the EU threatens that by putting immigration in the hands of industrialists or technocrats who simply wish to fill the demand, and who don’t want to be seen responding to what appears to be racist.

On the other hand, for a continent trying to follow the model of the united states, it’s shocking to see that they didn’t notice that it was very hard to get 13 colonies to agree to the US Constitution. Ridiculous compromises were required (slaves=3/5 of a person; the senate), and even then it was a close vote. Ultimately, these compromises resulted in a civil war that nearly fractured the union and whose echoes are still felt today.

And these were 13 colonies that were much, much more homogenous than the 25 EU member states (even including Native Americans and slaves, but why would I do such a thing if Lynne Cheney wouldn’t?) are today.

If a federal Europe was the goal, they should have made the leap before they started including Eastern Europe and (gasp) Turkey.