Monthly Archives: December 2005

2006

(1) Democrats will gain control of the House, barely. When people want a change, they can vote for the other party on a down ticket race, but they still might have more personal loyalty to their Senator. I think the Senate will be close to 50-50.

(2) The Ottawa Senators will win the Stanley Cup.

(3) The Liberals will win the Canadian election, but will still be in the minority. The upshot? They will have to concede more to the NDP, moving the goverment to the left, not to the right. Canadians aren’t going to put a Bush-like government into place.

(4) Iraq will see an increase in inter-sectarian conflict.

Is It Really Left-Wing Versus Right?

I’m often perplexed at the right-wing’s loathing of people like Bill Clinton who did more than most Republican presidents (including Nixon, Bush I, Ford, and arguably Reagan) to further the Conservative agenda. The conservative policy agenda that is.

You see, the observation that the Bush Administration does not have a policy apparatus means that the problems we are having now transcend left-right ideological battles. Most observers have noticed that the Republicans shift what they stand for based on what they want to do at the moment. When they want to defeat an entitlement, they argue for fiscal restraint; when they want a tax cut, they use discredited supply-side arguments.

You simply cannot predict Republican behavior in any scientific way by examining conservative principles. You can, however, predict what they will do if you examine their political and social enemies and their paymasters.

Clinton didn’t always do what his party’s base wanted; quite often the reverse was true. But most of what the man did worked, and looking at the post below about New Orleans state to this day made me think of this.

Even in foreign policy, Clinton’s people were right more than they were wrong. The problem with Clinton was, he thought good policy was good politics. It is with average everyman, but it’s not with the highly involved hate drive groups, like the Christian right, the oil-defense complex (i.e. The Texas Conspiracy), and gun people.

Abortions are good policy; gun control is good policy; carbon reduction is good policy; peace is good policy; etc. Good policy for everyone often angers people with entrenched power or dogmatic ideals.

America is not adrift because Bush has followed conservative policies; it’s because he’s followed none at all.

The War on Xmas: Republican "Code" For Anti-Semetism?

Some Orthodox Jews and some Conservatron Evangelicals have long maintained a psilocybic alliance based on the Evangelicals’ eschatological blood lust to see Jerusalem become a purely Jewish city (thus immanetizing the rapture) and the Jews’ desire to get any support they can in the never ending gory with the Palestinians. The Republican Party often puts a Jew near the well-placed black on the President’s stage set.

Beneath this banal bullshit is a stark history of right-wing anti-Semitism in the USA from Father Coughlin to Henry Ford to some of Wall Street’s investment in Hitler’s Germany to the KKK to Richard Nixon’s delusional mutterings. Just as the “culture war” is polite racism, perhaps the war on Christmas is soft anti-Semitism: a passive-aggressive way to air one’s vague discomfort with having to share the culture’s collective space with non-Christians. It’s not so much that Jews (the most prominent non-Christians) should not be free to practice their traditions, its just that as someone of the majority one should not have to feel uncertainty about wishing a co-worker “Merry Christmas.” In other words, practice your religion, but don’t be your religion in a noticeable way. Evidently at Christmas time, just not celebrating Christmas is noticeable enough.

Despite Jews’ disproportionate representation in the entertainment industry, in a lifetime of popular culture consumption I have only seen one Jewish character (Larry David in “Curb Your Enthusiasm”) actually act Jewish in a TV show (mentioning Jewish holidays or traditions, scenes taking place in a synagogue, Mr. David wearing a yarmulke etc.). We tolerate our minorities in America, but the market indicates that we only like to ingest them as bland background or minstrelsy characterizations.

Is this all too much ado about the Conservatrons’ absurd to do about nothing? Well, any sequel has to be more ostentatious and less nimble than its predecessor. It will be interesting to see if the right’s anti-Semitism in the “War on Xmas II” in 2006 is easier to divine.

The Worst and the Darkest

I’m sure it’s been pointed out before and in greater depth elsewhere, but you have to marvel at the parallels between the Viet Nam war buildup and the Iraq war. In reading Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest, I have to stop on just about every single page and marvel at the parallels. And I don’t just mean the superficial ones. Texan president, etc. I mean the bureaucratic infighting, the subtle power tricks of the insider game used to push a certain agenda, flying in the face of facts and good policy, and the exit of the reality-based officials (Bowles, Kennan, McNaughton, Trueheart, Kattenberg et al. with Powell, Clarke, O’Niell, et al. leaving because of Iraq).

Bush II has turned into a strange mix of LBJ and Nixon. Terrorism is the new -ism we have to fight with unbending zeal, under the stick of right-wing rabidity, lest we be deemed as soft. Similarly, just as Truman and Acheson were hard-line anti-communists, they were branded as weak for losing China; Clinton, whose administration was hard-line anti-terrorist, much harder than pre-9/11 Bush, was blamed for 9/11 and his missile strikes on bin Laden were considered wagging the dog.

The press fueled much of the revolt. Fulbright had a committee (and it was he, after all who was swindled into shepharding the Tonkin Resolution through)–Conyers and Feingold are in the minority. So, we don’t have any chance of this occurring now, really. There will be no 60s in the 10s.

To: Baby Boomers From: Everyone Else Re: The 60's

GET OVER IT!

It was an intense and revolutionary time and yes the Beatles made some great music, but society has internalized and cemented the changes, and Pink Floyd has long since paved the road the Beatles trailblazed. Just as Joe Caltech now knows more math than Pascal ever did, so is the music of the young Kevin Devine (www.kevindevine.net) more pertinent than the music of the late John Lennon.

Conservatives: The culture is not coarse now just because black people are not as polite as they were back when they drank at separate drinking fountains and could get strung up for looking at a white person the wrong way. You are not victimized because minorities and ethnic whites have the market power to establish their own enclaves in the mass culture. Just enjoy your easy access to “Seinfeld”, Thai food and rap music and shut the fuck up!

Liberals: For all the glorious idealism of the “revolution,” perhaps the fact that leaders that embody the contrary of those goals continue to hold power is not a corporate conspiracy or indicative of the stupidity of the masses, but is rather proof positive that these ideals need to be recalibrated to reveal self-evident appeal. Rather than wallowing in the romanticism of subverting the dominant paradigm, try pressing your smarts to utilize the dominant paradigm to create positive good.

Each whiny right-wing volley in the “culture war” is a proxy for desegregation. At times it feels that Iraq War II is the gestation of the encrusted masturbations of goofy Mellon-Scaife funded Conservatron think tanks: an attempt to fight Vietnam over again, but this time with no draft to involve anyone at the U and no pesky Fullbrights or Churchs to ask difficult questions. Meanwhile, the only response from the left is an inchoate kinda’ collectivist wistfulness that does not even excite a fifth of the population and leaves its supporters wishing that Bobby Kennedy and MLK were still alive.

Due to the demographic anchor of the Baby Boomers the rest of us are stuck in this mediocre trip where pragmatism concerning present problems is numbed by the din of ancient wars refought anew.

Our society must fixate its energies on the problems of 2068, not 1968.

Not About Roe

Is it clear now that the appointments to the Supreme Court by Bush are not related to Roe, but to Article II executive powers? That explains all of his appointments, including the failed Miers nomination: executive branch folks.

What has happened to the NYT?

I knew when I heard that the NYT withheld publication of he wiretapping story for “a year” that what they really meant was that they had it before the election, not last December.

Of course, I was right. This is the same paper that went to the Supreme Court to make sure the American people would know the truth about the war in Viet Nam, that some sort of bizzare combination of bureaucratic intertia, a McCarthy hangover, and flag-officer zeal, had us balls deep in a political war we could not win.

Now, in defense of President Bush, whose war on terror is in its early paranoid McCartyite phase, and whose real enemy, Osama bin Laden, has been let go as we face down the brush fire wars on the side. The difference is, of course, that by the end of the 60s, Americans weren’t buying it anymore, largely thanks to unembedded reporting.

The media is essentially useless anymore. They have become a part of the propaganda machine. If even the NYT is unreliable, we are in big trouble.

I’m in Kauai this week, on the verge of investing in some property. But I’m thinking that money might be better spent on a place in Canada, just in case.

Devil Upheval

Larry Robinson quits again–the poor guy is just too nice to be a disciplinariran coach. He lost sleep over benching some guys. And, oddly, Vlad Malakhov retires too. Lou’s behind the bench. It’ll be interesting to see what he does there. Maybe he’ll get some insight as to what the Devils need: a power forward.

Petr Sykora is known to be available, and I can’t imagine Dallas would ask much for Jason Arnott. Time to put the A line back together? No, I don’t think so. That doesn’t work so good, just ask Colorado and Philadelphia (Legion of Doom II and Wonder Twins II didn’t do shit).

I’d love to see the Devils acquire the allegedly available Todd Bertuzzi in exchange for Scott Gomez. It would be perfect, but I doubt it.

Libertarians Must Stop Supporting Bush

It looks like genuine libertarians have long since thrown Bush and the Republicans overboard. What I can’t fathom is that those with a libertarian bent are even more loathe to embrace Democrats, whom they stereotype as “personally libertarian but economically oppressive.” Hogwash. Clinton had a good record on the economy from any standpoint, including a libertarian one. If it wasn’t for a few glitzy media events, the kind of thing high-minded Libertarians claim not to obsess over (Waco, Ruby Ridge, and Elian), they would have to grant that Clinton was the closest thing we’ve had to a Libertarian president in 100 years.

But this senseless wiretapping issue, going around the NISA court needlessly, is just stupid. Why do the Republicans hate our Constitution? They thrive on fear. Cue the Roosevelt.

The First Polemic DoucheBag awardsTM: Nominations

There are so many DoucheBags out there that we can’t even name this the “annual” DoucheBag awards. I’m going to start with my nominations in the NHL category:

Gary Bettman – After expanding the league to 30 teams and thereby diluting the talent pool and the non-fickle fan base, this madman engaged in brinksmanship with the players resulting in the shutdown of the league for a full year.

Bob Goodenow – Bettman may be at fault for the over-expansion, but the primary blame for the lockout rests squarely on this man’s shoulders. Only after a coup d’etat in the players union did the players finally cave to a salary cap much lower than they could have had at the end of the last season. Goodenow’s position that he could convince the owners to not have a cap was always ludicrous, and, as a result he caused a lockout for a year that netted the players no gain. He was let go by the union, but too late for it to matter.

Whoever Came Up With The Trapezoid – This man is an idiot.

Was the Fedorov trade a bust?

In 17 games this year, Sergei Fedorov has 1 goal and 5 assists for 1+5=6 points. The former Selke winner is a -3. (-1 with Anaheim, which is +1 as a team and -2 with Columbus, which is -6 since his arrival). His salary is $6.08M this year.

He was traded to Columbus for a package that includes Francois Beauchemin (and Tyler Wright, and, really also Todd Marchant). Beauchemin has 2 goals and 4 assists for 2+6=6 points. The defenseman is +2 since coming to the Ducks, but he is -2 for the year. His salary this year is a whopping $500,000 this year.

In addition, the Ducks received former first round pick and grinder, Tyler Wright, and, through a waiver, Todd Marchant, who, along with Sammi Pahlsson provides the Ducks with the solid checking corps they were lacking.

The trade has seemed to have a salient effect on the Ducks, who have a winning record since the trade. I’m not sure if there were issues with Fedorov, but the team is clearly now Scott Niedermayer’s, and with the renaissance of Teemu Selanne, this team is back in the hunt for the playoffs.

No, they aren’t going to be an elite team as I had thought when they acquired Niedermayer, but with the cap room that they opened up letting Fedorov go, they are in a good position to acquire the missing pieces up front. (Doug Weight?)

Coaching Deadpool

The Pens have fired Eddie O. Olcyzk was on this site’s coaching deadpool at #2 on November 25, #1 on November 14, and #1 on October 27. He’s been replaced by the capable Michel Therrien. Speaking of ex-Habs coaches, whatever happened to Allaine Vignault? He was good.

I had Mike Keenan at #1 even though he’s a GM. The reason is, it was his mistakes that are causing Florida’s problems, especially if the rumors about trading Luongo to Colorado are true. I’ll start a separate GM deadpool from now on just to be clear.

Coaching Deadpool 12/15

#1 – Mike Sullivan – He might have injuries as an excuse, but this team is still underperforming. If things don’t improve after the Thornton trade, then we have problems.

#2 – Trent Yawney – The Hawks were supposed to be good, right? If he stays it’s just another showing of how much Wirtz hates the fans.

#3 – Mike Kitchen – At some point, the GM will have to cover his own tracks. When a team is expected to underperform (see Washington), every win is credited to the coach, but when you’re so terrible, the GM is in peril, especially when he trades away the franchise player. You’ve gotta wonder when house gets cleaned in St. Louis.

Bonus pick: Windshield-Wiper Hartley.

Christmas

The latest fnord from the right-wing to stir up the masses in a rejection of liberal straw men is the illusory war on Christmas. Illusory according to left-wingers. They should know, however, that it is very real, and I am the Field Marshall in command of the anti-christmas armies.

First of all, Christmas is evil. Christmas has nothing to do with the celebration of the birth of jesus. Sure, some people go to midnight mass, but, basically, it’s nothing more than a consumerist orgy that fans the fires of our empty materialist culture.

Hey, at least the pope agrees with me. In the meantime, though, I’m sure a lot of fat balding Dobson clones will appear on Fox news to tell us all how this is a sign of us losing our Christian values. You mean like, helping the poor? No. Like not living for money? No.

It’s all bullshit. Wake me up in January. In the meantime, Chappy Channukah.

The Pepsi Center at -5 below zero

In furtherance of my continuing quest to visit all 30 NHL arenas, I went to an Avalanche game last night. They won 4-1 over Boston. The area is nice, but, like most of this place, decidedly generic. It lacks the charms of my favorite arena (Philadelphia), but is cleaner and more convenient than, say, New Jersey or Chicago. It’s filled with generica like Quizno’s, and, even though it’s technically local, I have a hard time counting Coors as something with local charm.

People in Colorado love drinking their own Kool-Aid about how special their place is, and the hockey fans are no different: no one on their team’s shit stinks (the polar opposite being New Jersey, where even Martin Brodeur gets booed). It shocks me that most of the fans around me hadn’t noticed until I pointed it out that Joe Sakic had a career year suddenly before his first big UFA contract, that Rob Blake hasn’t been dominant, or even better than “solid” since that same contract year, and that Patrick Roy retired shortly thereafter.

Anyway, I’m no fan of the Avs, but they have skills.

The Higher Education Civil Rights Subterfuge

Even back in the 90s, when the universe meant something, there was a conflict between the JAG corps recruiting on-campus at law schools and the don’t ask-don’t tell policy of the military. Today, the Supreme Court will hear the case of Rumsfeld v. Forum For Academic And Individual Rights, the latest cock measuring contest between “liberal” academia and the conservative government. This means, I should remind you, that this is deemed to be among the top 100 or so of the hundreds of thousands or so disputes this year. I think it is a sickening red herring, like so many cases involving civil rights in schools. It is a red herring because it does not deal with the real issue, yet it is billed so big as if it does.

The same can be said of the recent affirmative action cases. They neither resolved racial tension in this country nor did they fix the education system. No matter what the outcome of Grutter v. Bollinger was, there would be no salvation for African-Americans or any other economically disadvantaged group. My catch phrase has been for years “until there is equality in kindergarten, there will never be equality in the university.” Grutter was primarily a dispute about which kids get into elite colleges and law schools, not about whether there is enough college available for all who want to go, or whether there are enough qualified elementary school teachers (at the age where a difference can be made). Even if you are left out of the University of Michigan, chances are your fallback school is not a truck driving academy; likewise, if you are left out of the University of Michigan law school (a top tier school), chances are you will still make it to the bar exam.

The same problem exists in this case. This is a spat between military recruiters, who last time I checked had no problem getting JAG recruits, and law schools, who haven’t done much else to cure the plight of gays. This is not a case about a discriminitory termination of a gay man at a minimum wage job, or whether or not anal sex can be criminalized, or whether civil unions are ok. It’s really another shot at “liberal academia” by the conservative government.

And they’re probably right. The federal government has broad powers to give or withhold funds (its tax and spend power has few practical limits, where its geneal powers to pass laws have limits made stronger to a point under the Rehnquist court [that point being until it involves medical marijuana]). There is no reason why the government can’t discriminate where it sends money. It does it all the time. In fact, see where the pork is going with a Republican Congress. It ain’t going to black districts, I’ll put it that way.

In sum, it doesn’t matter whether the JAG recruits at law schools. It can be left to the individual to determine whether they want to be part of an organization that discriminates, or to the law school to see how well it can do without public money (my law school was 98% privately funded). Either way, win or lose, gay rights in general, and the military’s policy towards them won’t change. What a waste of political capital, energy, and ink.

You Can Smell The Fear

http://www.c-span.org/VideoArchives.asp?z1=&PopupMenu_Name=Politics/Elections&CatCodePairs=Issue,PE;

“The Future of the Republican Party” is a C-Span video worth watching. The panelists are smart, honest, and realistic. They almost never slip into spin. For example, the pollster from New Jersey starts talking about the left’s obsession with Bush, and before she can finish her thought, some of the other panelists say “like us with Clinton in 1998.”

What’s interesting is that they are scared about 2006. The smartest one even thinks the Senate will be lost. Let’s hope he’s right.

If He Wasn't "Religious," He'd Be Insane

Terrifying reporting in Sy Hersh’s latest “New Yorker” dispatch on Washington strategizing regarding the Iraq war:

” ‘The President is more determined than ever to stay the course,” the former defense official said. “He doesn’t feel any pain. Bush is a believer in the adage ‘People may suffer and die, but the Church advances.’ ” He said that the President had become more detached, leaving more issues to Karl Rove and Vice-President Cheney. “They keep him in the gray world of religious idealism, where he wants to be anyway,” the former defense official said.”

The article repeats the oft-told anecdote of how Bush feels that he was chosen by God to defeat the terrorists after the 9/11 attacks. It’s easy for someone born to a life with a silver spoon up his nose, like Bush, to sense divinity in how existence transpires. Most people who boozed and snorted their way through their first 40 years would either be dead or in jail. Instead the family moolah and connections let him traipse richly from failure to failure. Who knew that the hand of the Christian God would be Saudi oil sheiks? After sobering up from his four decades of adolescence W. had a ready made political machine set to intimidate foes, massage the neutered barnacles of the mainstream press, and steal elections for him and make him President. Life progresses swimmingly!

There are many political families in the United States, but there is nothing like being related to the President. For all that has been written about Bush, no one has examined what it is like to grow up inside the West Wing, so to speak. Bush’s life has been almost uniquely unreal, compared to the lot of a typical person, in the incredible earthly powers that have been available to him from the first.

Now four years into his personal crusade of choice he has isolated himself into a netherworld of inchoate us versus them simplicity, joyous for each good news “favor” from God and steeled by the avalanche of bad news “challenges” from God. Forget predicted disasters in New Orleans and ignore the counsel of those on the ground in Iraq (as crystallized by Representative Murtha’s speech). This is God’s work.

For those of us less blessed this appears to be something else: delusion bordering on insanity. As the news from the “reality-based community” becomes dire Bush, like an inbred Monarch of old, isolates himself further from the mess of dead bodies, smashed psyches, no-good-choice scenarios, and empirical facts to insulate himself with his fantastic delusions. The definition of insanity is repeatedly doing the same thing in the same situation and expecting different results. This is our Iraq policy, regardless of the talking points and denunciations that dress it. Wrapping it into the familiar tropes of Christian theology does not make it excusable.

We’re stuck with this boy-king chuckleheaded madman for 38 more long months.

Where am I?

Ostensibly, I’m writing this in a Starbucks in Broomfield, Colorado. I’m here for the week in this exurb turning suburb between Denver and Boulder, where the prairie slams into the Rockies. It could be quite beautiful, but it’s ugliness is only starker because of the natural beauty in the backdrop. In reality, I’m anywhere.

California is oft lambasted for its endless stream of generica, and cookie cutter homes, and deja vu strip mall extending over literally thousands of square miles. Indeed, regional pride is chimerical in California. What’s the basis? Our Home Depot is nicer than yours? Our Carl’s Jr. gets the orders correct more often? For all of the Norcal/Socal rivalry, there is very little difference between the places. San Francisco, the city itself, is perhaps the only exception to this rule.

But we’ve long accepted this about California. We’re even blamed for the export of these blights, and their mutant cousins, the condominium association–doing everything to keep the entire Bizzaro-Potemkin Village looking pastel and unoffensive to country club Golwaterites of every age and of only one color. (I can’t get the intro to Weeds out of my head at this moment–that’s Agrestic, this is, well, Aggro overdevelopment).

But it’s worse in the Outlands. It’s terrifying to be sitting here 1,000 miles from the Pacific, in a Starbucks, next to a Pier 1, next to a Subway, near a mall with a Macy’s et al. When I got here a few hours too early to check into my hotel (a likewise instantiation of generica, a Marriot Courtyard) I headed for the wi-fi haven of Starbucks (after I ate my usual dish at the nearby Chili’s). I used my car’s navigation to find it, but because there were so many, I just had to follow my nose. I knew I would find one sooner or later.

Colorado and its culture are ironically founded on a uniquely western schizophrenia of pride in natural beauty (everything here is named Rocky Mountain this or Mile High that) and a tireless pursuit of paving it. They look down their noses at other places here because they have these natural treasures (and behind closed doors because they have more white people), all the while they are paving over what they treasure, and replacing it with what their intranational xenophobia pretends to hate: Generica Californica.

I feel like the Dennis Leary hiding under a sewer hatch in some mountain version of Demolition Man. Not every restaurant is Taco Bell–it’s an oligopoly, not a monopoly.

Please, God, give our people the wisdom to accept the New Urbanism, Smart Growth, and some modicum of creativity before I’m fucking Sandra Bullock with a VR helmet on.