Monthly Archives: August 2006

Answer: the market can't solve global warming.

Here’s a short answer for you: the free market is not capable of solving global warming.

The atmosphere is a “commons” with no owner. This kind of game theory based market failure is pretty well known and documented. Since markets are interested in Pareto optimal results for individuals, and each individual has an equal share of the atmopshere, it drops out of the equation entirely. No market can solve this problem.

Even if private ownership–a common market fundamentalist answer to commons failures–were possible, all it would do is bid up the price for the use. Unless that price was set by the market at more than alternatives, the market is not capable of solving this problem.

Only collective action is. If governments are for anything, they are for resolving commons failures. But ours doesn’t do that anymore.

Where is the "Free Market" on Global Warming?

Much as its adherents like to pretend that it has “laws” like the hard sciences the so-called “Free Market” is an ideology. It is a powerful and dominant one. As the environmental lawyer and professor Zygmunt Plater, who successfully argued the seminal ESA case TVA v. Hill before the Supreme Court, said at a lecture at Boston University in 2000: “The marketplace economy is the most powerful, intimate, highly articulated, self-energizing human system ever invented (probably including religion).”

There is a vogue these days for forensic or political economic commentary by econo-pundits that apply the mechanisms of the dismal science to pedestrian interests like the incentives that sumo wrestlers have to throw a match or the element of economic interest inherent in seemingly emotional or charitable actions. This manner of commentary is effective at pruning out assumptions and prejudices and coming to near-enough-to-empirical truths (which is why its practitioners are often so smug).

Given all that these analysts have to say, their silence on global warming is deafening. There are mentions of gas taxes here, carbon taxes there, and pollution permit trading everywhere; but these ideas are rarely espoused from the ideology’s barkers. The “Market” as an academic idea has no inherent politics. As an ideology the “Free Market” is distinctly right wing. If you corner one of its intellectually-honest promoters they will admit that the government shouldn’t subsidize private industries, but the talking point is that “burdensome government regulations are interfering with the market place.” I have yet to read or hear of a comprehensive “Free Market” solution to global warming… or even see much in terms of a creative suggestion.

The closest that “the marketplace economy” comes to addressing global warming is via the idea of sustainability. Sustainability is, elementally, the marriage of granola environmentalism with market-economics. It seeks to insert the likely impact on future generations into the economic analyses of contemporary actions. Sustainability, or green economics, is more “green’s” attempt to subsume “economics” then a natural progression of the Free Market ideology. In the USA, I have yet to see it meaningfully manifest itself outside of the west coast or even be properly understood by supposedly liberal media outlets such as the New York Times.

The reason for this silence is that global warming, and the impact of environmental degradation in general, is incompatible with the Free Market ideology. As Professor Plater said in 2000: “For all its dynamism, the marketplace economy has a tragic flaw —that every entity in the marketplace economy basically tends to deal only with things that have some form of price tag attached, where benefits or costs are registered, and each also shares the same tragic logic of cost externalization, so that, wherever possible, they tend to externalize social costs out from the domain of the marketplace economy and into no man’s land… The costs impacted into the economy of nature do not just disappear out of sight out of mind. Nature is not a sink. A river that isn’t there anymore isn’t there anymore.”

Or, the Free Market ideology is excellent at determining the monetary benefits of an acre of forest in terms of the lumber that can be derived from it and the work that will be done to accomplish this. It is incompetent at measuring the same acre of forest’s benefits as a purifier of air and water because these benefits are distributed to everyone, and therefore, also, to no one.

The inability of the Free Market ideology to deal with global warming is profound in the musing of the NY Times columnist, and generally intellectually consistent Free Market ideologue, John Tierney. In one column, a sort of review of “An Inconvenient Truth,” he spends two paragraphs making ad hominine insults about Al Gore and then chastises the film for not noting that in the past many economists’ analyses found that the costs of a stringent carbon abatement program were too high given the uncertainty of the science behind global warming. In other words, Tierney’s stalwarts were wrong about the pre-eminent problem of the 21st century, but it’s okay because they are economists. In his second column, Tierney chastises Al Gore, Laurie David and other famous global warming Cassandras for owning second homes. Gore and David are not beyond reproach, but Tierney’s inability, in contrast to most of his other columns, to present any constructive ideas on global warming reveals the bankruptcy of his Free Market ideology. Faced with a problem that is irreconcilable to his belief-system Tierney resorts to emotional arguments, the exact rhetorical ploy that econo-pundits are so sanctimoniously proud to avoid.

The elastic optimal market will be crucial to mitigating global warming and will remain an important element in societal affairs. The Free Market ideology, however, cannot respond to global warming or maintain the viability of the commons. Al Gore is correct. Global warming is a moral issue.

Borrow and spend Republicans

According to the GAO, the government has wasted $1.4B on anti-drug ads. No shit. Of course these ads aren’t meant to really stop drug use; they’re meant to give the illusion that something is being done.

So what does borrow and spend Republican Bush propose? $120M more.

Between that, Iraq, and Sen. Stevens’s bridge to nowhere, I could have provided universal healthcare, secured the ports, killed bin Laden, and funded education enough to support NCLB (if I would have put in place).

GOP Coalition Fracturing?

The word on the street is that Bush has attracted the Tammy Fae Bakers of the world (i.e. “big government conservatives. He said this group is mostly female, southern, religious, and seeks solutions from government”) and neglected the libertarian wing of his party.

The Libertarian wing? That has to be the most oft-suffering wing of any party. Hell, they’re probably worse off than Log Cabin Republicans or Kennedy-hating Democrats. I believe this means the old Goldwater folks, who were instantly betrayed by anti-civil rights folks and religious conservatives, to the point that Goldwater remarked to Bob Dole in 1996 that they were the “liberals” of the GOP.

Most of what has been done in the name of Libertarianism in the last several decades has been done so for marketing purposes only. Like 900 page “free trade” agreements. It just ain’t so. Libertarians–true Libertarians–put equal weight on life, liberty, and property. The first two are more closely guarded by the Democratic party. Proprety? It’s only more guarded by the GOP if you are in the top 1% of earners.

If the Democrats can break through on taxes to some of these people, the GOP will end up controlling only the South. Surprise.

With the fervor of the converted…

Ten years ago, I self-identified as a Libertarian. I’ve discussed that at length before, but one of the primary beliefs one holds as a Libertarian is a steadfast belief in free-trade. One mentor of mine once explained, however, that he didn’t think NAFTA was free-trade. Free trade, he said, would not require more than a page for an agreement. You see, he believed that a Libertarian state had never existed.

This is the same kind of nonsense that infects communists. Soviet Russia wasn’t a true communist state, etc. This goes against the very fiber of my empiricist’s being. You see, communism and libertarianism are both, at their cores, philosophies, not a set of policies. And even though libertarianism derives in theory from a set of empiricist philosophers, it holds what scholars of modern philosophy might term “rationalists.” What this means is a priori truths (moral postulates, so to speak) exist at the core of these philosophies, and they are, as such, not subject to falsification.

If something is not subject to falsification it is definitionaly non-scientific. (This is part of the problem with string theory.)

This is why I left the libertarian fold. In theory, it would be a utopia, or at least a world free of many of our modern problems. In practice, every attempt to move us incrementally in a libertarian direction has been disastrous, and, every attempt to rewrite the social contract from scratch (ie revolution) has also been a disaster. (The American Revolution was no such revolution–most of the social structures were left intact. )

At the end of the day, policies need to deliver on their promises in the real world. And so-called neoliberalism has failed to do so. At this point, I may sound like one of those TNR converts against the Iraq war. But, the evidence is in, and it’s hard to ignore.

Lamont ties Losermann

Rasmussen: Lamont 43 – Losermann 45 – Schlesinger 6. +/- 4%
ARG: Lamont 42 – Losermann 44 – Schlesinger 3. +/- 3.5%

That’s a statistical dead heat in both polls, quickly closing the gap. Both have Liebermann up by 2 points, but MyDD believes that these models’ voter turnout models are wrong in a way that shows Liebermann too high.

At what point will Joe just call it quits?

MyDD: Senate 50-50 (49-1)

I agree with Bowers. 50/50 with pickups in RI, OH, MT, MO and PA. I’d say the odds of Liebermann winning and leaving the Dems in the lurch is roughly equal to Webb now winning in VA. Either way, I’m sticking with 50/50 for now.

I’m still an apparent moderate on the House. I’ve built in a Rovetober surprise. Last week was a test run and it didn’t do anything. They’ll cook up something, but it won’t be enough.

Oil killed neoliberalism.

Whether or not “free trade” continues to grow under the rubric of the WTO, the doctrine of neoliberalism is dead. Its proponents may persevere, but there will probably be no new young scholars rising up through the ranks, and my guess is that even its old proponents, to the extent they accept empiricism, will at least have to modify their beliefs a little.

The reason is simple. The 25 word version of the doctrine now seems horribly passé–naive, even. Even if some detailed kludge model can satisfy critics in fifty pages of Foreign Affairs, the Outer Party enablers of this doctrine don’t buy it anymore. The idea that utopia, or progress at least, will come through the unfettered elimination of trade barriers, by growing things where they grow best, as the line goes, simply isn’t real. This is why the latest round of WTO talks failed–the opposition has evidence and isn’t merely a collection of fringe elements and college students trashing Seattle.

And there is only one commodity needed to demonstrate this: oil. You see, oil “grows best” in only one place: Saudi Arabia. In the neoliberal utopia, oil would only be pumped there because that is where it can be most cheaply extracted. But even the purest of heart at the Economist must realize that Saudi Arabia is too politically unstable for the world to extract its single most important commidity from.

Neoliberalism mutated into Neoconservatism. The standard story is that this is not the case, that Neoliberalism will remake the world with free trade, as opposed to Neoconservatism which wants to remake it with unipolar force. Certainly, the origins of these two movements are different, but in the sick broth of latter day Washington DC, one has emulsified in the other and the agenda as carried out, far from the aspirational forecasts in academic journals, is the unquestioning, unbending, relentless push towards worldwide free trade as an end in itself. Neoconservatism just adds the sword.

Generous interpretations put forth the notion that Neoconservatism seeks to spread “democracy.” In fact, it seeks to spread globalized market economies. As with Neoliberal disasters in South America and Africa, Neconservative disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown little concern for the actual constitution of the new governments and far more interest in their trade policies. Democracy now is free trade, and nothing more.

If America can’t figure out how to engage the world in an emprical, practical way it should disengage. Not only have these two doctrines (championed, by the way, with equal force by both political parties) hurt the world, they have hurt America.

Polemic identifies as a way to find a new progressive ideology. The idea was to replace the whiny, defeated liberalism of the 70s that still governs the minds of many on the left. Since that time, a new progressive movement has begun, but it is largely without ideology. That ideology is taking shape, but is still skeletal because at this point in history opposition is the priority.

Two issues will dominate this century. Climate change/environment and untangling the neoliberal mess. These two are intrinsical entwined. Undoing the oil economy in order to save the planet will change the dynamics of trade throughout the world, and the lessons of global warming will counsel a stronger approach to environmental issues, and, accordingly may well finally put the kinds of protections into trade agreements that will make them somewhat tolerable.

More to come…

Whither The Primary System?

Underlying all of the substantive mudslinging in the Lamont-Liebermann campaign is the meaning this has for the primary system. To paraphrase Joe, the primary was “just the first half,” and not the ball game.

Assuming the primary election system is good policy (I have my doubts, but have no real opinion), what is going to happen now, especially if Liebermann wins and is accepted back into the caucus without losing and committee assignments? (If that’s what it takes to keep him in the fold on the chance that the senate goes 51-49, so be it.) It means that in states where this can be done, there is no more meaningful primary system.

I don’t have the time to write a 50-state treatise on the law here, but my guess is that Connecticut isn’t the only place where this can be done, and there is also the chance that a serious write-in effort could win, almost anywhere, I assume.

Maybe this is a time to take a serious look at instant runoff voting.

A Vista To A Kill

My wife’s aunt and uncle worked for a company that was subsumed by Microsoft. They’ve been able to hook me up with some neat-o M$ goodies through the years. Last week, I got a pre-release version of Windows Vista.

It’s terrible.

I hadn’t even used it yet, and I already knew it was terrible. First, I tried installing it on my old Dell Pentium 4. After several attempts, I gave up. It just wouldn’t install. It would hang at different points all over. Even assuming that’s some beta level thing, it still takes a couple of hours (!) to complete. (I finally got it to install on a Dell laptop.)

This stands in sharp contrast to my OS X powered Mac Pro, which runs 4 CPUs at 3.0GHz, and runs an installation of Windows XP in a window. Unlike emulators of the past, this software directly accesses the Intel CPUs which burn up XP faster than any machine I’ve owned running natively. It boots Windows XP in 15 seconds!

People are tiring of Dell’s terrible product and worse support. People are tiring of Windows and its fragility. With Apple hardware now competitively priced and able to run Windows programs better than most Windows only machines, I see a huge increase in the market share when Vista, which is really just XP 1.1 has to face up to OS X 10.5 Leopard next year.

Leopard will kill it.

An Inconvenient Reality

The last paper of the last panel of a recent industry conference I attended had to do with global warming. The industry in question often relies on the cycle of snowmelt runoff. The analysis of global warming’s impact on the snowpack that one industry member depends on showed startling changes. This industry member grew under the assumption that the snowpack would build in October through March and runoff from April through September. By 2025 the spring freshet would be substantially reduced. By 2045 the snow would melt in a double peak fashion. In winter, alpine rainstorms will follow alpine snowstorms and will cause much of the existing snowpack to melt resulting in unprecedented winter floods. The remainder of the runoff will occur in spring.

The industry member that requested the study said that they could adjust their business to provide its normal services in 2025. By 2045, however, they will have to change their infrastructure or else limit their services.

I asked the gentleman that presented the report if immediately implementing a global carbon abatement program could lessen some of these impacts.

“No,” he said. “That might improve the situation in 2100, but the greenhouse gasses that will cause these problems are already in the atmosphere.”

I’ve never been a Global Warming denier. Indeed, I’ve long considered addressing global warming to be a preeminent issue. Still, 2025 is soon. I’ll be pushing 70 in 2045, but I intend on being spry and healthy. The year 2100 though is only a figment, an impossible science-fiction year.

I biked home feeling trapped. Fooled. Cheated.

Weeds!

On its surface Weeds is a more comedic, SoCali Sopranos. The protagonists of both entertainments exist at the nexus of criminality and family. Their powerful yet precarious position forces them to download uncertainty and soak up advice. Tony has his sessions with Dr. Melfi; Nancy’s pot wholesaler Heylia keeps it reality checked.

Both shows are primarily about a place. Where the Sopranos wallows in the balkanized multi-ethnic fragments of Northern New Jersey, the citizens of Agrestic, with the exception of the Latina maid subculture, are more Californian sub-species of American than members of any ethnic group. The subterranean machinations of these cookie-cutter elites is Weeds’ big joke. It is summarized in the Joycean word Agrestic. Agrestic! What a brilliant name; at once encompassing the sensation of aggressive, aggrieved, grief, great, gruff, rustic, rested, restless, majestic, pathetic, sick, tick, and stick while parodizing the faux-bucolicism of planned community, USA.

Beneath the wealthy but exact-same exteriors of Agrestic’s families is all manner of dysfunction. Innuendo and gossip about this dysfunction is the motive of all the characters’ actions; like a duck they must work feverishly to maintain the veneer of attainment symbolized by their dwellings while cleverly submarining their friendy rivals. One of the great pleasures of the show is watching Nancy display dominant mammal behavior while distributing her pot to her neighbors. She is playing the game harder and with greater risks and rewards than anyone else.

The other great pleasure of the show is the good for nothing brother in-law Andy who prevents Weeds from becoming a chick-sit blabberfest.

At first, I was turned off by Weeds when I read the initial reviews of it that took pains to say that it was not pro pot. In truth it is neutral on the subject (which may make it seem pro bud in comparison to our culture’s lunatic hysteria on the subject). Weeds isn’t truly about marijuana. Nancy’s pot biz is just another one of the submerged shenanigans of Agrestic’s citizenry. In Weeds pot is like most things in life. Does some good. Does some harm. “Why all the worry?” Weeds subtly asks.

Great stuff. The best show on TV right now.

Oh, and god damn it! Where the hell was my hot deaf girlfriend when I was in high school?

Jon Benet Ramsey

I prefer to avoid missing white girl sagas like Jon Benet Ramsey. To me, she’s dead, and nothing that happens subsequently is going to (1) bring her back to life, or (2) make people try harder than they already were to protect innocent life. There’s really nothing to be done.

Sure, the killer might be brought to justice as a result of some scorched earth investigation, or some poor sonofabitch who didn’t do it might be put on trial. But after 10 years, it’s time to move on to protecting others.

Yet there are still dozens consumed with this story.

Why it interests me now is to see the sociolo-legal drama that will unfold. The confession sounds as though it’s either fake, the product of torture, or, at the very least, been misreported.

We will see whether it is more important to society that someone be blamed and punished than if the actual perp is punished. If the DNA evidence matches, he’s probably the man, but if not, he’s probably just a sicko, obsessed with missing young girls, yet there will always be those who think he should get punished.

One of the conceits of modern society is that prison is to “rehabilitate” criminals, to deter their future conduct, and to punish the guilty. In other words, it’s a “justice” system, not a “revenge” system. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a system meant to contain vendetta and vigilantism.

Rehabilitiation presumes crime is a simple choice and not part of a deeper problem in a human; deterrance assumes rational calculation on the part of a criminal. I think both are fallacious, yet inspiring principles. Both fail to empirically explain criminal behavior and the kinds of results from the prison system.

Neither of course show any reduction in crime over the years, nor can they even reasonably be correlated to fluctuations in crime rates.

I don’t know what causes criminality, and neither does anyone else. It’s more complicated that some binary fallen state of man. It’s at least a complex genetic, social, environmental, and psychological melange.

Death penalty advocates love to claim that it deters people. Most murderes aren’t well planned or thought out. Public defender types bask in illusions of rehabilitation. True criminality, not just stealing for drugs, just isnt’ that simple.

The system is mostly effective at providing a channel for the non-victims to get their revenge with clean hands. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a human impulse that can’t be denied. But let’s call it what it is.

I hope I’m wrong, but something tells me the facts won’t matter about Karr. He’s Jon Benet’s killer because he says he is and we need to believe little girls’ murders don’t go unpunished.

Amateur speculation: Election '06.

(With builtin results for inevitable Rovetober surprise)

Senate: 50-50. The Republicans maintain control of this chamber for now. Even with pickups in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Montana, Ohio, and Missouri, it’s not enough. Rovetober surprise turns back the wave enough to protect Ensign and Warner. Harold Ford is running a 90s Clinton campaign. Hopeless.

House: Dems +25, for a 10 seat majority. Nancy Pelosi becomes the first female speaker, Murtha is the majority leader, and Hoyer is out of the leadership. This shift could easily be closer to +40 or +50, but general Democratic lameness, Republican brilliance, and Rovetober will keep this from becoming even more of an event.

Pelosi will say that the Dems have no plans to open impeachment proceedings, but investigations into the Bush administration will begin right away. The party leadership will scotch impeachment thinking it will hurt in 2008.

Olmert Political Deathwatch 1

Haaretz Opinion Columnist calls for his head.

Yeah, you just can’t blueball the Neo-Con/Likud folks like that. They act like they’d almost rather there was no war than one less than total. But, in the act of going as far as he did, he went past the Europuss consensus as well.

It’s amazing to watch how quickly things can fall apart.

P.S. This was the wierdest war, wasn’t it? All of this tension built up, but fizzled. It makes you wonder what’s really going on. As much as Israel fizzled, so did their enemies. To hear them talk, you’d think they were relishing the opportunity to destroy Israel. The only conclusion I can draw is that they say that to distract attention from their failed states. It’s not that Israel and the US don’t do reprehensible things, but all the bravado of Iran, Syria, Hizb’allah et al sure never amounts to anything.

P.P.S. Interesting water-cooler convo this morning. Why do I care about Israeli politics? Well, I wouldn’t, but I’ve been made to. Normally, Israel would be about as important to me as, maybe, Slovenia. But our leaders make them essentially the 51st state.

Argh.

Even if this was a real planned attack and not another electoral stunt by the Republicans, it just shows that we need to get on the ball and focus on al-qaeda.

Of course, in our world, wanting out of Iraq means not wanting to get bin Laden. wtf?

All this bogus talk about centrism…

When are the media going to learn? When Republicans say something is bad for the Democrats, it almost never is. When Republicans bemoan the loss of some theoretical bipartisan centrism, it’s fairly akin to Hitler bemoaning the loss of religious diversity. They killed it. The Democrats clung to the ghost to their own demise for years.

Hell, Rove’s unabashed electoral strategy is to get the base out. All these same reporters know that, yet they ignore that fact so that they can just write down what the Republicans say in this case.

The Republicans changed the center, anyway. They made the center be support any war except Clinton’s. They made the center be Bills of Attainder against the Schiavos. They made the center be let New Orleans sink. That is no center at all.

Talk of “centrism,” after all, really derives more from one’s position on the theorerical communist-laissez-faire axis. There really isn’t much room, if any, for compromises on things like, say, abortion. So long as abortion is legal at all, about 15% of Americans won’t rest. If it ever again illegal, about that same amount will never rest. In the economic realm, it’s wonderful to watch how a few handouts here and strong growth in real wages and jobs can calm things down. Just ask FDR. He is the greatest centrist in history. He saved the American system from communism.

But pretending that some McCain-Liebermann party would represent the views of average Americans is like harkening back to some mythical “good old days” that only existed on TV. It doesn’t exist. Centrism, shiny happy people laughing in Congress, etc. is completely naive.

There are enough ironies here to revise Alanis’s song, but here are my favorite two:

(1) Republican hawks advise unilateral Democratic (political) disarmarment.
(2) Republicans, whose modern party came out of a purge, bemoan Dems doing the same.

Losermann

52-48. 4 points. 10,000 votes.

This was the best thing to happen in politics in years. It signals the beginning of a new era in American politics, an era that began with the passage of the McCain-Feingold Act, a law which was supposed to presage the further decline and fall of the Democratic party.

There is a sense in which that is true.

I’m going to oversimplify a topic that is truly worthy of a book. After the rise of Reagan, which had as much to do with events in the Middle East as they did with some new conservatism among the American people (beware today), many in the Democratic party, who were the Type A go-getters, go tired of losing. People like the Clintons.

There was also this whole issue of attempting to heal the divide caused by LBJ’s Civil Rights bill. Well, that wouldn’t happen as much as some had hoped, but there were quite a few educated upper-middle class liberal Republicans who didn’t have a home in that party anymore to woo.

These people basically did what they had to do to bring the Democratic party into contention to face rising Republicanism. They took corporate money. They accepted “centrist” views. But this means became an end in and of itself.

There was a lot of good in this. The countervailing forces in the party at that time were not similar to what they are now. They were checklist liberals–those annoying dogmatic politically correct types.

The problem with this was, Democrats never really were the favorite people of the big money interests. They were too judicious with the use of the military for the defense contractor people, too interested in the environment for the oil companies, and at this time the tech industry just wasn’t big enough yet to matter. And then Clinton sued Microsoft for anti-trust. While I have no proof Bill Gates is a Democrat–or was–he is definitely a liberal.

Once the Dems were out of power, there wasn’t much reason to bribe them. Then came McCain Feingold, and made them irrelevant anyway.

Now the small donors come, but they demand someone that agrees with them and isn’t speaking to them while encrypting messages within the speeches for the powerful money men. Enter Howard Dean. Dean’s rise was on small donors, and speaking to these people, not to any particular group. Of course, the groups followed, which is exactly how it should be.

The problem was this was a new phenomenon, and the establishment was unwilling to help out. As a result, the real nitty-gritty of campaigns went unattended to. Dean lost because he didn’t have people experienced in closing the deal on election day.

But people learned from that experience, and it all paid off yesterday with Ned Lamont.

Small donors. Actual people. Volunteers. Democracy… is coming to the USA.

There’s no hope for the other party at this point. It will be decades, if ever, before it disconnects from oil, defense, and extreme religion. I’m very afraid of why that might happen too–it could mean we lost a war.

Anyway, congrats to Ned Lamont. Congrats to the netroots. And boo, boo I say, boo! to Liebermann.

Monday

  • Like a true nerd, I was glued to webcasts of Steve Jobs’s Apple WWDC announcements and then turned around and bought the newly announced Mac Pro a couple of hours later. I’ve been dreaming of an Intel-based Mac desktop like this for years and years.

  • Q-Poll shows Lamont with a comfortable lead. He needs to win by enough to submarine Joe in the general for this to be game-set-match tomorrow, but any win will be a sea change in American politics.

  • Angelides failed to gain support from three big Hollywood Dem money men. Put a fork in him.

  • Meanwhile, the US has entirely failed to work a solution in the Middle East. In the MSM, that’s a shock. To me, it’s no surprise and shouldn’t have even been considered possible… the butcher of Falujah brokering a deal? The US has chosen their lot with Israel.

  • But the EU, who was in position to lay the groundwork for a Pax Europeana, has completely dropped the ball. Instead of angling into honest broker status, has completely turn anti-Israel.

  • Fill up your tank. I’m pretty sure we will see $4 gas this week.

Why Lamont? Here's Why:

Many observers have had trouble understanding why Senator Lieberman’s full throat support of Iraq War II has led many Democrats to perceive that he has an unholy closeness to Generalissimo Bush. “Hillary Clinton also voted for the war and hasn’t turned Dove,” they protest. “And hasn’t he been a good Democrat otherwise?”

The symbol of Lieberman’s turn to the Dark Side is the notorious smooch. The substance is this statement from December 2005:

“It’s time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be the commander in chief for three more critical years and that in matters of war we undermine presidential credibility at our nation’s peril.”

From a Civics Textbook standpoint Mr. Lieberman is correct. In the reality that we live in his statement is Goof City distilled.

The American Presidency is an odd creature; the President is at once the partisan head of a political party and the symbolic leader of an entire nation. All Presidents use their ceremonial duties to bolster their political might, but Generalissimo Bush is unique, in my opinion, for having never truly acted as President. He has never used the stature of his position to lead the country. An overwhelming majority may have been behind him after 9/11, but from the first he used that horrible day to drive narrow partisan interests and to divide the nation against itself. This may have been a winning political strategy, but it merits the opposite of the gravitas that Lieberman assigns to Bush’s position in the government.

There is a place Hawks for in the Democratic Party. There is no room for those who do not acknowledge that Bush lied his way into Iraq War II and fundamentally mismanaged the war from the first and do not realize that criticizing him for this is the purpose of an opposition party. Moreover, it is this intelligent, justified criticism that formulates an argument for switching leadership to the American people.

Mr. Lamont has shown intelligence and conviction in taking the fight to Mr. Lieberman when others wouldn’t. Pundits may decry his supposed lack of policy seasoning, but if the Senate has room for nimrods like James Inhoffe, Bill Frist, Jim Bunning, and Ted Stevens it certainly has plenty of space for a rich man that still made how own mark in the world like Mr. Lamont. Besides, a Senator’s staffers are the ones who know all the nitty-gritty anyway. Given his stature, Mr. Lamont will be able to pick the best staff that earnest belief can buy.

Joe Liebermans are perpetual enabling helpmates to the Conservatrons. Ned Lamonts are the pugnacious star stuff of an emboldened Democratic Party.

Ned Lamont for Connecticut Senate!

Lucky Louie!

Ah, the evil Reaganite moralsploixtation situation comedies of my 80s childhood made to hurl on the living room carpet and lick up their own vomit like a canine that stole a greasy chicken dinner off the kitchen table. Better yet, this is done without the annoying make-you-feel-clever-for-watching-lotsa’-TV pop references of other “edgy” fare like Family Guy. Lucky Louie stands on its situations and inventiveness to deliver 23 minutes that are more enjoyable than most other options just then.

What the Connecticut primary means.

With just a few days to go, and lots of interesting things taking place, the punitocracy has finally started to take note of the primary in Connecticut.

None of them seem to get it at all.

They’re still trying to categorize these people as “far-left” “bloggers” or “Dean supporters,” as if they have some sort of infection that won’t go away. It couldn’t be a genuine political movement, could it?

I know these people, and could be considered one of them. I tend to be a lot less of a peacenik that some of them, and my political philosophy could basically be described as technocratic Euro copying minus much peacenikness, but now I’m splitting hairs.

There has been a yearning since I’ve been politically aware in this country for a genuine liberal movement. We all knew that the Democratic party was broken, and that while better than what else we might get, Clinton wasn’t part of this movement. And almost everyone who has been on this ride is not a baby boomer.

Gen X has grown its own organic liberalism that doesn’t care very much about Vietnam or Kennedy, and certainly doesn’t give a rat’s ass about McGovern, Humphrey, or Walter Mondale. And it’s starting to take shape.

This year is something like 1962 in the history of the modern conservative moment. We couldn’t get our guy in the Presidential race–we weren’t ready yet (just like 1960), but now, while we may not be ready to govern yet, we can make an impact.

Lessons have been learned. The beta testing going on during the Dean campaign, the 2004 elections, and subsequent pet elections has seasoned people involved a little. It’s all making things happen in the Lamont campaign.

And yes, Iraq is really the most important thing driving Liebermann down, but that’s interesting in and of itself. The fact that a group of Democrats is winning by showing spine on an issue that they all really believe in the first place is radical for this party. It’s not quite as radical as Goldwater wanting to sell the TVA in 1964, but it’s similar in kind. Conservatives in the early 60s were ashamed of not liking the New Deal, and they were made that way by Diet Democrats like Eisenhower who were afraid of the electoral losses of Dewey, Wilkie, Hoover, et al., just like today’s Democrats have been made to be afraid of their own true beliefs by a generation of Diet Republicans who can’t get over their own electoral defeats in their political infancy.

If Lamont wins, it’s not because of the Iraq war–it’s because the Democratic wing of the Democratic party is back in control.

P.S. It couldn’t be more ironic that this movement, which was very agnostic about the 2000 election (until Florida, when everyone all of a sudden pretended that they never liked Nader at all), would pick Al Gore for it’s presidential candidate. You see, Gore, just like us, has grown a spine.

Liebermann Down By Double Digits

I took the money
I spiked your drink
You miss too much these days if you stop to think
You lead me on with those innocent eyes
You know I love the element of surprise
In the garden I was playing the tart
I kissed your lips and broke your heart
You…you were acting like it was
The end of the world

–U2′s “Until The End of The World,” describing Judas’s “kiss” that betrayed Jesus. Or, perhaps, describing Bush and Liebermann at the SOTU.

Liebermann 41, Lamont 54.

In waves of regret and waves of joy
I reached out for the one I tried to destroy

Call it fascism, or whatever

In almost every essential way, the modern conservative movement has almost all of the elements of fascism, but, it’s a younger cousin of fascism. Calling it fascism is not incorrect, but it sure makes people who you argue with think you are being hyperbolic, or criticizing a straw man.

“Neo-fascism/American conservatism/whatever ” is different in 9at least) this way: it uses a clever combination of stealth, even within the minds of many of its adherents.

Many of these folks do believe they are advancing freedom, that they are not racist, and that they are in fact being oppressed by jews/gays/blacks/illegal immigrants/the clintons/hollywood/communists/iraqis etc. At least Hitler had the balls to be up front about his hatred for Jews, even if he lied about what he was doing about it.

Fascism exploited propaganda to wonderful heights, yes, but it was at least overt about what it was doing. To hear the Bushites speak, you’d think they were about to create a liberal paradise with “healthy forests,” “clear skies,” more opportunity for low wage workers, and democracy throughout the world.

Maybe I’m not expounding this perfectly, but I do feel that what we are experiencing is an entirely new phenomenon whose “Animal Farm” or “Doctor Zhivago” has not yet been written.

The more it looks like the Dems will be getting subpoena power in at least one house, the more I think we’re about to learn things that make Watergate look like a quaint, Donna Reed-esque version of abuse of government.

P.S. Fuck Mel Gibson. He can kiss my I-would-be-Jewish-if-I-had-any-religion-in-me ass.

Rumor: Liebermann to drop out?

Rumor floating around the Internet: Joe is cancelling his events to announce he’s dropping out of the Dem primary to start his independent run.

This could be. If the Quinnipiac poll shows him behind more than 5 or so tomorrow, that much of a loss would seriously dampen his chances in the general… dropping out lets him discount the results and save cash.

UPDATE: This can’t be right if it’s true that he doesn’t have the signatures on file yet… but he’s close and has a week…

Thank You, Mel Gibson

For confirming my suspicion that the right-wing evangelical movement keeps a thin veneer over its profound anti-Semitism.

It is telling that Mr. Gibson revealed his true colors while drunken and shamed by his own jackassery. A hallmark of fascism is scapegoating. It is a means to get people disempowered by circumstance to blame the self-evident different people in their midst for their troubles rather than the amorphous forces that have conspired, or merely chanced, against them. I’m not going slippery slope here with an overcooked Hitler reference. Rather, I posit that the rise of the Republican Party has occurred concurrently with the decline in the fortunes of, generally, Southern white men. Overt racism, sexism, anti-Semitism and, to a degree, homophobia have also declined during the same period. It is the formerly more empowered group’s unease over this vague somewhat-leveling of fortunes that is being exploited by bogus balleyhooed wars on Christmas, platitudinal Conservatron broadsides against the multi-ethnic New York and the very Jewish Hollywood, and the Nixonian “Southern Strategy.” Having disempowered and disgraced himself, Mr. Gibson did what any good “values” Conservatron would and chose to blame an “other” — in this case “the Jews.” (The “sugar tits” remark was another Family Values classic.)

Lets please call “values” conservatism what it is: Fascism Lite.

Thank you Mel, for proving exactly what a “moderate” like the Bush Patsy John McCain (who many people I respect have said they will vote for) has to empower when he is forced to debase himself to your theofascist fellow travelers like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell in order to garner the Republican nomination. Thank you for showing me that I am on the Insane Right’s “Seize the Death!” Squad’s short-list of who to blame should they fumble America towards the eschaton. You’re feeling contrite you say? Go floss your teeth with choice follicles from my hairy Jew ass, motherfucker!