Saturday, October 20, 2012

Through the sacrifice you made

Glenn W. Smith was a guest on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd, talking about Social Security and a lot of other stuff.

So, the only person who asked Obama about HAMP was Jon Stewart, and Obama's answer was to brag about bad loan modifications and the appalling settlement that let the banks off the hook for their criminal activities. Meanwhile, in the debate, no one wanted to talk about the deficit except the candidates.

Gaius Publius, Lame Duck Social Security cuts: Take action now - Find the pressure points to do what we can to head off any meddling with our group insurance.

David Cay Johnston has a new book out, The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use "Plain English" to Rob You Blind.

Daniel Ellsberg tells swing state voters, "Defeat Romney, Without Illusions about Obama." So, he's saying up front that Obama's not our friend.

Richard Kline: Progressively Losing. There's a lot of stuff that's interesting and true in this, but there's also a lot that seems to be a direct buy-in to right-wing memes. Like the idea that the middle-class beneficiaries of the New Deal had nothing to do with pushing the progressive social agenda. Like Hell.

Romney tells your boss to tell you how to vote. This kind of thing can get really serious in a world where it's possible to cast your vote from home - or the office, where the boss can look over your shoulder.

I have to admit to confusion when suddenly everyone starts talking about Golden Dawn. Oh, I see.

Just in case you don't recognize references to Pottersville and Bedford Falls, you may want to read the synopsis for It's a Wonderful Life.

Liz Warren's ad

Taliban vs. 14-yr-old blogger: "On Tuesday, al-Qaida's propaganda arm al-Sahab, issued a three-page communique in Pakistan's tribal areas, laying out a justification for the shooting. It is rare for al-Qaida to feel the need to explain an attack, suggesting that the group feels pressured by the strong backlash against Yousufzai's shooting.'The girl was part of an agenda perpetrated by the (British Broadcasting Corporation) to run an organized campaign against jihad, Islamic Sharia and purdha or veil,' a previously unknown commander, Ustad Ahmad Farooq said in a statement in Pashto. 'Now when she was shot, from Pakistan to the United States, everyone is crying about it.' Yousufzai came to public notice for writing a blog supporting the schooling for girls and women for the BBC. Jihad refers to a religious struggle, which a minority of Muslims interpret as an armed fight against the enemies of Islam." The evils of repressive governments are a matter of degree, but not necessarily a matter of kind.

I won't be wearing this bra, although it claims it could save your life.

I guess most of you will have to find a proxy server to watch Ray Davies - Imaginary Man, but if you live in the UK, you can watch it now and learn a whole bunch of interesting things.

"Goodbye, Eddie, Goodbye"


  1. Avedon, what did I ever do to you that you sent Tom Harrester over to MercRising?

    Now I'll have to go through the bother of banning him, and he's not even worth the 30 seconds or so that it will consume.

    Ah, well. I suppose the Harresters of this world are our punishment for original sin. Or at least that of his parents.

    1. Tom Harrister exists to convince people like Digby that every single person who identifies as "conservative" or continues to be a member of the Republican Party is a complete loony who it's impossible to have any kind of conversation with. We are supposed to be afraid of them but unable to talk to them. We must elect Democrats because the GOP is made up entirely, top to bottom, with people who are Tom Harrister or worse.

    2. Well, at least he's good for something.

  2. On the good side, Dan Ellsberg has it right; thanks for linking him. We shouldn't idolize political leaders, even the ones we like, because they are fundamentally unable to be ethical. Wielding power means doing things that cannot be justified on any moral basis. One may have to do repugnant things just to hold power and the very act of doing so corrupts one. Not idolizing them, we make very practical decisions about which leaders are least destructive... and work for a world where everyone has power.

  3. In his Progressively Losing post Richard Klein gives a rundown of the player categories on the liberal-left side of the political spectrum; heartless liberals, detached progressives, and yesteryear's European radicals.

    So where does this guy fit in? Biographer Michael Kazin says:

    [indent]>>>>>(p. xviii) Bryan was the first leader of a major party to argue for permanently expanding the power of the federal government to serve the welfare of ordinary Americans from the working and middle classes. With the back-

    (p. xix) ing of his followers, he preached that the national state should counter the overweening power of banks and industrial corporations by legalizing strikes, subsidizing farmers, taxing the rich, banning private campaign spending, and outlawing the "liquor trust." He did more than any other man -- between the fall of Grover Cleveland and the election of Woodrow Wilson -- to transform his party from a bulwark of laissez-faire into the citadel of liberalism we identify with Franklin D. Roosevelt and his ideological descendants. His one great flaw was to support, with a studied lack of reflection, the abusive system of Jim Crow -- a view that was shared, until the late 1930s, by nearly every white Democrat.

    Herbert Hoover once snapped that the New Deal was "Bryanism under new words and methods," which proves that bitterness need not impair one's historical judgment. But after Bryan's death in 1925, most intellectuals and activists on the broad left rejected the amalgam that had inspired him: a strict, populist morality based on a close reading of Scripture....

    (p. 142) At the end of August 1906, New York City took on all the trappings of a political convention....William Jennings Bryan was returning from a trip around the world....


    1. [indent]>>>>>(p. 146) For the first hour of his talk at the Garden, the sweltering audience, relieved only with paper fans, heard an undramatic statement of his familiar positions on familiar issues. Bryan denounced colonialism in the Philippines, called for an income tax and the popular election of senators, favored arbitration to resolve quarrels among nations and those between employers and workers, and demanded that violators of the anti-trust law be thrown in jail and that corporations stop funding political campaigns.

      In passing, he also declared a truce in the long battle between proponents of the gold standard and a currency based on silver. With a huge expansion in supplies of the yellow metal [due to recent discoveries and new processing methods], money was now plentiful, and all Democrats ought to be pleased.

      Then a few minutes before midnight, he dropped a little bomb. Noting that "the railroad question" was "interwoven with the trust question," Bryan proclaimed that the most powerful industry in America "must ultimately become public property and be managed by public officials in the interests of the whole community."

      While on his global tour, Bryan had thought carefully about the details of government ownership. He knew it would be the most controversial subject he would raise that evening -- the main reason why, against Mary's advice, he read his entire lecture from a printed text. Impressed by the efficient and rapid railways of Germany, Bryan proposed that the United States emulate that nation's model of having individual states own and operate local lines while the federal government ran the trunk lines tying the country together. Such dual ownership might also assuage fears of a federal leviathan replacing the railroad barons with a new form of tyranny.

      Bryan confessed that he wasn't sure if "the country was ready for this change" or even whether most Democrats endorsed it. But then he switched from prophet to politician. One didn't have to agree with his plan to appreciate its short-term advantages. "Nothing will so restrain the railroad magnates," he observed, as the fear that the government might put them out of business.

      Neither his doubts nor his qualifications mattered to influential Democrats in the press and Congress who had never trusted him. Once again, they warned, Bryan had revealed himself to be a dangerous man whose personality might seduce the masses into acting against their best interests. Now he wanted them to embrace socialism. The World asked feverishly, "Are not the

      (p. 147) their folly and stupidity, tying their own hands and closing the door of opportunity upon themselves?" The Times was more confident that Bryan's party would not follow him "upon the perilous adventure in radicalism and centralization." Perhaps, scoffed the conservative daily, the clever scoundrel was just trying to grab attention away from Roosevelt, who would never take up such an irresponsible doctrine. The president, not surprisingly, agreed.<<<<<[end indent]


    2. Contrary to Chomsky's or Occupy's theories, I think there's a need for a very few actual persons to be recognized as taking the lead in espousing a specific plan for the left to rally around. Hard for me to see an alternative to Trotsky's contention that: [Parties and leaders] constitute not an independent, but nevertheless a very important, element in the process. Without a guiding organization, the energy of the masses would dissipate like steam not enclosed in a piston-box. But nevertheless what moves things is not the piston or the box, but the steam.

      But I'm jumping ahead. As for Step #1, I'm very much in agreement with concluding remarks by Oscar Landerretche and Chrystia Freeland in the partial transcripts I'm posting at the end of the previous thread though I don't suppose the Virtually Speaking brain trust will think they are suggesting anything useful.

    3. You know, I really wish you wouldn't break up your thoughts by posting part of them to the previous thread. Keep them together and don't make people (especially me) jump around.

    4. CMike, as always thanks for the yeoman's work you do.

      Agree with you about leadership and parties. I wish the Occupy movement had rallied around the greens or started their own party--some place to marshal all that fantastic energy and would-be activism. Seeing to change the D-party institution when there are literally billions of dollars influencing them to resist you...

      And I disagree with Elleberg as well, who says:

      "That means for progressives in the next couple of weeks -- in addition to the rallies, demonstrations, petitions, lobbying (largely against policies or prospective policies of President Obama, including austerity budgeting next month), movement-building and civil disobedience that are needed all year round and every year -- using one’s voice and one’s e-mails and op-eds and social media to encourage citizens in swing states to vote against a Romney victory by voting for the only real alternative, Barack Obama."

      As Chicago Dyke said so well on the last thread, the fact is most people don't have the capacity to do all those things. And when they hear the "most dangerous man in America" or anarcho-syndicalist Chomsky advocate voting, I can hear the swelling balloon of a real alternative rapidly deflate. Well, if these prominent figures say we should suck it up and vote for the guy bombing the poor and brown and down with fucking with social security... Anyway, the vast majority of people we need are too busy living or dying and want to hear an alternative gospel with alternative places to go with their vote. This explains both why the Tea Party and Occupy movements flourished and failed. You can go at them with any manner of populist language, a glorious platform evoking the very best of the Great Society or New Deal, but if your conclusion is this is why you need to vote for the dems, it's just not going to fly. The dems = Clinton and Obama, two neoliberal swine who've actively served their benefactors in the slow though escalating dismantling of those former movement's achievements.

      Until we're prepared to acknowledge how deeply fucked we are, breaking entirely from the former template for delivering grassroots change, we are unlikely to get anywhere.

    5. Over at Eschaton Jay A. recommends an article:

      [indent]>>>>>Why [Vote]?[When your vote counts for nothing]

      Kevin Baker has a piece in the October Harpers about how voting, especially for President, has become ineffectual. I'd link, but paywall (idiots). The basic argument is candidates, starting with Reagan, haven't done what they said they would. Not kinda sorta, but at all....<<<<<[end indent]

      The A man then links to Avedon's "The purpose of voting post." Anyway Baker's piece is well worth reading, he takes the ball and runs with it quite impressively, with five paragraphs to go he breaks into the clear but I won't paste any of the many quotable grafs and, as it turns out, you don't need me to spoil the ending. Besides, like Jay A. says, it's behind a paywall so that wouldn't be right.

      I say, is that someone flying a **Jolly Roger** over there?

    6. Oh, well, I will [spoil the ending].

      "So yes, go out and vote. Go vote for Barack Obama, and whatever other Democrats or progressives are running for office where you live. To vote for a Mitt Romney—to vote for the modern right anywhere in the West today—is an act of national suicide.
      We will have to build the new political parties from the dried-out husks of the old ones. We will have to raise up new political leaders from among us, instead of hoping they will emerge as if by magic."

      I know how intensely irritating this is, because I've been on the other side. Oddly enough, though, the more unpopular he appears to be, the more inclined I am to hope Obama wins and the less inclined I am to think he'll be able to enact his destructive trade and domestic (not so confident about foreign) policies. The prospect of four more years of declining living standards followed by Jeb Bush in 2016 seems a little less inevitable since the teachers' strike.

      On another candidate, my favorite quote re George McGovern comes from Hunter Thompson via Chris Hedges:

      “George McGovern, for all his mistakes… ,” Thompson went on, “understands what a fantastic monument to all the best instincts of the human race this country might have been, if we could have kept it out of the hands of greedy little hustlers like Richard Nixon. McGovern made some stupid mistakes, but in context they seem almost frivolous compared to the things Richard Nixon does every day of his life, on purpose…. Jesus! Where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to be President?”

      It feels like every president since Reagan has been a Nixon, with no McGovern in sight.

    7. Seriously, thanks for your work, CMike.

  4. now that's funny. i was just thinking about this sort of thing...

    that's my response to goodbye eddie. but also, is anyone else creeped out, like, a lot, by the whole 70s people pretending to be 50s people? that always made me feel so squick, when i was a child. like, i totally don't understand "Grease" or its supposed appeal. i guess i'm just one of those victims of being in the wrong place, generationally speaking. but there is something about faux 50s culture that really makes my skin crawl. it's easy, today, to mock the PNACers and Rovians and the rest for having 'greatest generation' envy. they should envy people like my (african american/native american four bronze stars winner) grandfather, and i know they know they will never, ever be anything like him. they know it, i know it. i laugh at them. but what i don't understand is people slightly older than i am (40something) who seemingly want to do this strange twist on the 50s culture of their parents? siblings? i dunno, this generational warfare stuff always confuses me, i'm a tweener by almost any standard. the book i'm thinking of is S. King's "Christine," which, altho a good read, is so very strange to a true child of the 70s, which i am. my babysitters most certainly did NOT want to emulate the 50s; she was too busy listening to foghat and smoking pot and fucking hispanic hotties. but there's this whole group of culture producers, or at least, there used to be, who wanted to somehow impress the 50s onto the 70s. it's damn weird. ymmv.

    1. I don't get why something that satirizes a pernicious trend in the music industry needs an "answer".

  5. When the situation in Brookfield was still fluid and tactical and we had no idea who the guy was or what political party he belonged to, I took a deep breath and decided to go to the right wing blogs and check out the comments sections. These are 20 of the craziest right wing responses I had the stomach to unearth from Free Republic, Fox News Insider and other places. I took a lot of hits for the team, guys, so I hope you appreciate this compendium.

  6. For Sale: One Democracy, Slightly Used by Mike Flannigan, the story of how Tagg Romney's company and Bain Capital came to buy voting machines in not just Ohio but five other states.