Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Ruminations 2008

I don't know whether the continuing economic collapse should be called the Great Despair, the Great Desperation, Great Depression 2.0 [that's Paul Krugman], the Panic of '08, or the Great Plunder. The last fits best to my mind.

It appears to me that the $700-billion bailout of financial institutions launched during the heat of the 2008 presidential campaign has become the next great bubble, indeed, the greatest bubble of all, as banks collect tens of billions of dollars without any requirement that they account for what they do with it. They appear to be hoarding it, using it to shore up their balance sheets and stock prices, to pay dividends and, I'll wager, end of year bonuses. At periodic intervals, they go back to the Treasury for more, and the Treasury happily dispenses.

Now the Treasury has certified the General Motors credit arm as a bank, thereby making it eligible for bailout handouts. That means we, including those of use who have long despised SUV, are now subsidizing the manufacture and purchase of the thing we want gone. It's a better deal than the no bid contracts the Bushies have employed in the war on terriors, which represents the first Great Plunder This second coming requires no work and no handover of securities or fines, nor does it require removal of the people who engineered the financial crisis in the first place. That signals that the bailout is simply a handout, a redistribution of future public wealth to current money managers and corporate executives. In addition to collecting all they can now, the financial wizards do nothing to improve the markets- while waiting for the Obama bailout, when they aim to receive even more. What does the public receive--a huge debt, unemployment, unplayable insurance rates, unmet retirement obligations--just what was planned, since the point all along has been to get rid of the workers--look at the automobile company bailout.

The people who are suffering are waiting for the Obama, as are the majority of us who are worried, who object to the direction we are heading but who also are powerless to change course--which is why we voted the Obama to the task. The question is whether he is up to the challenge, whether in his economic recovery program, he moves dramatically to restructure an economy skewed toward the rich, away from innovation, change, and true competition. That means lettingthe car companies go, giving workers who lose their jobs unemployment benefits, job retraining, and where appropriate loans to start new business. It means making the useless General Motors cough up plans for the Impact [EV1] or, at least, free the designing company to use or license them as it sees fit. It means creating standards or infrastructure for plug-in electric or hybrid vehicles. It means putting in place a single-payer health plan, which will free workers and businesses immediately. It means go after the people who brought us to this pass. It means placing severe limits on executive compensation to something like 20 or 30 times the lowest paid employees salary, part-time and temporary included. In short it means being bold and creative because nothing else will do.

Hell of a Christmas for lots of people and looking like a worse New Year--that's the holiday season in 2008, the final great fizzle out of late market capitalism--we hope.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Follow the Money

It's nice sometimes to be right. It turns out that the insurance industry planted those stories killing single=payer health care. Proof comes from this new L..A. Times story, saying how the insurance industry will promise to insure everyone if the Federal government will help them ring 30 percent out of the health care system00that is reduce costs that much. There are two ways to do that: First, follow the insurers lead and ration medical care by squeezing doctors and people with lesser policies, which is how they insure everyone; Second, cut the insurers out of the system. That will save far more than 30 percent, while guaranteeing treatment for all. It is a no brainer. Health care is the true tests for the Obama and the Democrats.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Universal Confusion

Sunday in the Washington Post and Monday in the L.A. Times articles appeared on the emerging "consensus" that health care reform is desperately needed. It's been needed for longer than my 58 years, but better late than never--or is it. The Post article doesn't mention single-payer plans at all and the LAT simply says a national single-payer insurance program, like those in Europe and Canada is "off the table," while later allowing that "liberals" and health care reform advocates will keep pushing for same. Since Europe and Canada are healthier societies than the US, despite spending considerably less per capita than the US on health care, not considering similar systems makes no sense at all. Indeed, the alternatives to single-payer are so complex, convoluted, intrusive, and wasteful as to defy comprehension in no small measure because they continue to rely on employer paid insurance, which is a joke getting older and more obscene by the annual renewal. The current system, as everyone knows except right wing ideologues benefits no one but insurance companies who currently suck 1/2 to 2/3 of every dollar out of the system, meaning it never goes to medicine.

I wondered where such one-sided, biased stories originated. Did the reporters and editors generate them in response to the Obama's campaign pledge? I think not. My suspicion, given that the Newt of Gingrich was quoted in both as an expert, is that the stories were inspired by a person or persons trying to dictate the agenda and block any serious consideration of real reform. It would be unfortunate if they succeed, but it wouldn't be the first time.

Under a single-payer plan administered through Medicare, so a new bureaucratic agency doesn't need to be created, everyone would benefit from lower costs and better care, except the bloated ticks on the current system--the insurance companies--especially if malpractice claims were sent to arbitration boards rather than court. Corporations and large institutions, like schools, colleges, and universities would benefit mightily from getting health care off the books. Workers would benefit from increased freedom of movement, since they would no longer be bound by the need for employer partial paid insurance. Doctors would benefit from not having to devote time and staff to multiple incomprehensible insurance programs.

Time to do it.

Friday, November 28, 2008


I'm not an economist, but I think it fair at this juncture to ask everyone from the Obama on down at what point the bailout of banks and financial institutions, which have already brought us the "bubble and bust suite for whiners in zed minor" becomes the next great bubble--the great bailout bubble, "money for nothing and the chicks for free," as Mark Knopfler says. Watch the way the markets gyrate or vibrate in tune to the latest large figure bailout given one of their own without strings or consequence and then ask yourself, would i turn that down? What incentives do the financial institutions have to clean up their acts, as long as they can run to the federal government for tens to hundreds of billions more. Maybe these banks are currently "too big to fail," in which case the minimum price for bailing them out must be their break up. They must be brought back to manageable size. They also must be forced to account for all of these "toxic" loans, to prove the problems are what they claim they are. For its part, the government must withhold more handouts until the accounting is made and financial penalties are assessed against the principals involved in creating the mess. Without that accounting and those penalties, we are left feeding the great bailout bubble--the greatest of them all.

As to the auto industry. I would hate for working people to suffer for the sins of their managers, but I don't want to reward the auto companies for their decades of obstructionism, either. They have fought energy efficiency and pollution control--not only fought but also evaded those regulations that do apply. They have gleefully profited. while refusing to back reforms, like universal health care, that would help make their domestic operations more competitive. Beyond that, I don't buy American cars, so why should I want to give the company money for continuing to make the same crap that brought it here?

Far better, I think, to shore up workers' pensions and enact single payer national health care. Then the government should let the auto makers management figure it out--that is come up with a plan to reconfigure themselves and their products toward energy efficiency: economy, including price of purchase and operation; and safety. No more SUVs or light trucks, except stripped down models that each company can easily modify with plug-ins and that meet the same mileage and emissions standards as cars, The government should also make small, directed investment in new businesses, including those designing and building new vehicles.

The government also has the responsibility for establishing uniform standards for hook-ups for recharging centers and devices, so that time and money are not wasted on different protocols that will not talk to each other. The key here is to build on the already extensive and uniform gas station sysem, so that people in electric vehicles scan receive a rapid recharge or new battery pack in the time it now takes to fill a car with gas--or not much longer. As solar cells improve, there is no reason they can't be built into the car for recharging on the fly.

Finally, the government should put research and development money now being wasted on "star wars" defense systems that don't work into developing a flywheel that will work to power electric cars--into solving the flywheel problem, as it were. Simply, the flywheel would capture and store energy as the car rolls and use that energy to power the car.

The point is that we had better get a huge return for this staggering investment or we are sunk. As nearly as I can tell we are currently getting squat.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Loaf

South Florida is known as a tough place to make bread, largely, the bakers I've talked to seem to agree, because of the humidity, which makes the moisture level of flour so variable that each time out requires a different amount of water. Even if you get that right, the humidity will turn your crust to mush more often than not. This bread is an exception: The recipe is based on a "no-knead bread" recipe from the New York Times, November 8, 2oo6--Mark Bittman's adaptation of a recipe he got from Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery. This time I used King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour, which suddenly appeared in the local Publix; otherwise, here's what I do:
Mix in a big bowl 6 cups flour--white whole wheat, but whole wheat or unbleached all-purpose white works too
1/2 teaspoon yeast
3 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 steel cut oats (optional)
Add 3 to 3 1/2 cups cold, as in chilled water
Thoroughly incorporate water and flour with your hands or a paddle but do not knead more than necessary to do that, if need you must. The result is a wet, tacky blob. Cover the bowl with a dish towel and let it set in a cool part of the house overnight. When usually little bubbles bursting cover the top, knock it down, knead once or twice, cover and let sit again until the surface is covered with bubbles--size seems related to whether the flour is whole wheat or white. Sometimes, I caution, the dough at this point remains soupy--chalk it up to the humidity and proceed; it will produce something better than most of what you get in the store. Preheat over to 450 with a Dutch oven or some other heavy pot with cover in it--I find a cast iron Dutch oven the best. Knock the dough down and turn it onto a cornmeal--or oat or flour--coated dish towel; cover and let proof while oven warms. Once that is done, remove the Dutch oven or whatever--it's very hot, so be careful, dump in the dough--it's really like a slow slop off the towel--cover it up and put in the oven for a righteous 50 minutes to an hour, depending on moisture levels. Let it cool and enjoy.

It's counterintuitive because the dough is damp in a place where dampness is blamed for bad bread, but it works. The rising time for this bread, depending on temperature and humidity, is anywhere from 8 to 20 hours.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bush and Cheney Should Resign

Yesterday morning I was telling people that Bush and Cheney should resign together, thereby making Nancy Pelosi president. This morning I read Gail Collins saying that very thing in her column in the New York Times. I chalk that up not to some mystical cross-channeling of a woman I've never met, although I do enjoy her column, but to the pure logic of the suggestion. The most obvious and pressing resaons for the switch are that we need a leader in place who is not only competent but also not afraid to lead, and the Obama cannot take over until 20 January 2009. Pelosi, though, would make the ideal caretaker, with the Obamans to straighten out the farce that the Henry Paulson run bailout has become--trasnspose a couple of letters and TARP becomes TRAP, and that's what we're in for the next 2 months unless Bush-Cheney hit the road.

They can cite "grotesque incompetence that has repeatedly put the country and its citizens at risk." Specifically, in times of crisis the President has gone AWOL: down a rabbit hole immediately after 9/11--true, first he went on a plane ride that pointedly did not return him to Washington to take command; out to lunch in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, thereby letting the city sink and drown; god knows where for the financial meltdown--well, he did organize a propaganda summit so John McCain so could show himself a great leader by solving the collapse of the world's financial markets. Cheney has to go because he has been ruining the government for the duration of the Bush reign and has now apparently retired to his favorite undisclosed bunker and hunkered down.

Historians and economists seem to agree that the current vacuum is dangerous for the economy and therefor everyone. Someone needs to take charge and that someone is Pelosi, who not coincidentally would then become the first woman president, making this an historic time indeed in the quest for equality.

The only problem with this scenario is that Bush and Cheney won't do it. Their neglect of their duties and subversion of the law in order to kidnap and torture people, launch illegal wars, undercut enironmental regulations, and grant sweetheart contracts to their friends and supprters in fact have been their policies for eight years. They're not about to change when they are on the verge of creating real Chaos.

Too bad, that.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bail Me Out

The ship of late 20th century American capitalism has run ashoal and now wants the government to bail, meaning it has effectively capitulated to the Marxist dialectic. I used to think that in funding worker retirement plans with company stock and granting stock options to an expanding pool of employees corporations were creating the possibility that those employees would come to control and then own the company--and worker ownership of the means of production is key if capitalism is to be party to its own demise. But incrementalism has no real place in the current global economic meltdown. What we have is a line of international corporations begging the US Treasury for money to save them from their own antisocial greed, which has brought them to ruin, and they use the threat of tens of thousands of lost jobs to justify the bailout, while preparing to renege on retirement and health insurance obligations and to lay off those tens of thousands even if they receive government funds. Thus, General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler are begging, but what I'm not hearing is what government will require of them--and require it should because it should not loan a dime without equity in return and some major changes. Here are some suggestions:

1. The SUV is dead. The car companies are in crisis now because they put all their effort into producing the gas guzzling monsters that imperiled drivers of small, energy efficient cars, not to mention the world. The car companies spent millions of dollars to avoid meeting strict gas mileage and pollution standards. When gas prices soared, sales collapsed and the industry had few other lines to promote.

2. Bailout money is earmarked for developing and building energy efficient low polluting cars, More is available for the car companies that are willing to make solid, reliable alernative energy vehicles. In other words, it is time to solve the flywheel and battery problems in a way that will make electric vehicles viable.

3. The corporations agree to support fully a single-payer national health plan administered through Medicare. that's good business.

4. No executive's salary can exceed 30 times the salary of the corporation's lowest paid employee. If that is $20,000 a year, the CEO earns no more than $600,000 a year, This applies to financial institutions, hedge funds--all businesses that do business beyond their state boundaries.

5. Companies failing to meet their retirement obligations must boost their social security contributions; they will not run retirement funds again; rather they will pay that share into social security. There is no need to privatize social security by the way because it will already own controlling interest in the company.

Those are starters. I'll think of more later.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Obama

Aa reader asked me a few weeks ago why I called him "the Obama?" I said because he is sui generis, unique. Here is this man who undertook this highly implausible, dark horse campaign for the presidency against the woman who fancied the nomination of the Democratic Party hers, against the party establishment she and her husband controlled, against the weight of centuries of the vilest forms of racism, this darkest of horses who stayed on course and on stride despite being batterred from all sides by racists and bigots, who refused to sink to their level, and for all of that won a resounding victory. In so doing he rocketed America once more to the center of the world's dreams. He is prooff to my mind that miracles can happen!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Their Campaign

Here is Keith Olbermann of MSNBC by way of the Huffington Post on Sarah Palin, the self-confessed Socialist.

Here is the last ad, the Obamans should run:

Shots of John McCain saying, "Blah. Blah. Blah...." for 30 seconds. Nothing more.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Race (revised)

I voted the other day, two days after Colin Powell endorsed the Obama. Now I'm waiting with considerable trepidation and continued amazement that despite having one of the vilest campaigns in recent history thrown at him by the McCain't Republicans, the Obama has a good chance of becoming president. But first, he must continue to deal with the xenophobic racism, the pure fascistic hatred of the other that McCain and his running mate have unloosed and fed--I should say gorged--over the past few weeks. I won't recount chapter and verse because everyone reading this blog has, I'm sure, a gallery of infamy, but they all come back to the attempt to demonize the Obama, to make him exotic, the other, not a real American--with the emphasis on demon.

At least I'm fairly certain that Governor Lipstick views him that way after reading Laurie Goodstein's article in today's New York Times on Palin the "spiritual warrior." To paraphrase the late Hunter S. Thompson, who surely would be adding heavy armaments to arsenal, this is weird and disturbing shit. These Christian subversives know that demons gather in certain zip codes, and they are mapping them house by house around the world. The Reverend Thomas Muthee, the witch hunting, python slayer from Kenya who called on the lord to make Sarah Palin governor and more, is a hero in these circles. Gina Maranto investigated yesterday and provided this report [links should work, but if not, click on words in the text]:

This is the epicenter of spiritual warfare--global harvest ministries. Read this, and you'll hear Sarah Palin's language echoed again and again--and also see why she feels righteous about ditching McCain--he's standing in the way of her ascension.

In case you want to learn about how to wield a sword to mow down demons in your own zip code, here are some (very reasonably priced) books you can order:

You have to navigate pretty far into the site to get to the pages on pages of the REALLY good shit:

Also, in case you want to really understand Islam and what's going on in the Middle East, get this:

Note for wusses who think Jesus slept with a nightlight:
"In The Prophetic Fall of the Islamic Regime, Glenn Miller shows that while Jesus came to demonstrate God's loving, merciful character, it did not change His nature as the Mighty Man of War, who is involved in the fight between good and evil."

Form Europe, here's a site on mapping those demons. For historians, here is a 1999 Christian Science Monitor article:

Palin's rant Las Vegas yesterday about the Obama turning America into a Communist state that stirred more fear and loathing among disciples is more explicable and more troubling in light of her spiritual warfare. Sam Stein in the Huffington Post has a transcript and video clip:

There is more, but I want to get this posted, with a final note that John McCain is the man responsible for this situation. He clearly has no shame, surely no honor.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Rolling Stone Does John McCain

This Rolling Stone profile of Commander Slime, Senator John McCain is a must read.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Palin on the Attack: Hypocrisy in Action

I was reading about Governor Lipstick's speech in Colorado today, attacking the Obama for knowing and serving with William Ayers, a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, on public bodies devoted to education reform in Chicago. Ayers was a founder of the Weather Underground, or the Weathermen, a revolutionary splinter group from the Students for a Democratic Society back in the day when the federal government was engaged in slaughter in Vietnam using napalm and agent orange and every other weapon except nuclear ones against civilians and combatants, was forcing young American men into involuntary servitude to prosecute that war, was spying on its own citizenry and using agents to provoke violence, and finally was turning its military's guns against peaceful protesters with deadly results. Those are just a few of the big items. The Weathermen delusionally believed they could jump start a revolution. Prossecutorial misconduct and illegal wiretaps guaranteed that Ayers would never face trial, aand so he moved on. The New York Times has a thorough look today and determines that "the two men have never been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers...."

In Palin's view, Obama is "paling around with terrorists" who want to tear the country apart. Governor Palin is married to a man who belonged to the Alaska Indpendence Party--still might--devoted to destroying the United States by making Alaska independent. That they would secede by referendum matters not a bit; they are advocating the break-up of the Union. The last time that was done, hundreds of thousands died, and the Republican Party ever after has been known as the Party of Lincoln, the man who preserved the union.

Whether Palin belonged along with her husband remains unclear, but the the party and its goals on their face are antithetical to the spirit, purpose and meaning of the oath she would have to take upon assuming office to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Spinninng out of Control

I had planned to say little about the Biden-Palin joint appearance, mostly I am deep into something approaching denial at the mere chance that she and McCain could be elected anything--well, not denial so much as fear for the republic. It's not so great, after all, that it could survive a McHate/Wink-wrinkle-nose administration, but this morning bright by early, I recalled that the forces of Enlightenment, Reason, Humanism lost long ago, that anti-intellecltualaism in America is so deeply ingrained that it even passes itself as "scientific," as witness this analysis of the language of Biden and Palin by an Austin-based company, Global Language Monitor. The claim is made that Palin spoke at a 10thh grade level, Biden at 8th. The difference appears due to the GLM computer deciding that 'passive voice' is advanced because it 'obscures the doer of the actioin,' Paul Payack, president of Global Language Monitor, told CNN. "Doer," indeed. "Obscures?" As in: The analysis was done by a computer? Or The final word was uttered on his way out the door by her mother who said, 'but the cat was run over by the car not me, and it had been chased by the dog into the street in the first place." But I digress. Payack's analysis declares the following Palinism at grade level 18.3--graduate school--presumably because it uses a lot of words: "What I would do, also, if that were ever to happen, though, is to continue the good work he is so committed to of putting government back on the side of the people and get rid of the greed and corruption on Wall Street and in Washington." At least now I see why students take a pile of words between the initial cap and final punctuation for high-quality advanced academic writing--they're taught it by people who don't themselves understand that the essence of good, intelligent writing is not sentence length or number of syllables in a word or the lame-ass use of passive voice; rather, it is lucidity.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

First McCain-Obama Debate

I had intended to say nothing about the debate, figuring whoever read this blog had seen it and made up their minds, but then I became intrrigued by the disconnect between the pundits and the people, as represented in the instamatic polls--not enough to write anything, mind you, just intrigued. The polls lined up pretty decisively for the Obama, for instance, while with the exception of the ever sane and insightful Gail Collins at The New York Times, most of the pundits were droning on about advantage McCain, although as the day wears on that might be changing. The worst of that lot proves to be the putative 'dean' of Washington political columnists, who calls McCain the "alpha male" on the stage, proclaiming that the Obama's deference was manifest in his several statements of agreement with McCain and his looking at McCain. Meanwhile, McCain's "alpha" status was manifest in his refusal to look the Obama in the eye and barely to call him by name, in his disdainful dismissive tone, and in his diatribe on the 'surge.'

I suppose that it is good that Broder is no wolf, because he doesn't know the lingo--and I'm talking here the mythic "alpha." Subservient wolves refuse to look the "alpha" male or female in the eye; rather, they avert their gaze, for fear that if they lock eyes, the "alpha" will slap them down. That sounds like people, does it not--avert you eyes before the great man! The Obama used a rhetorical device known to all good teachers of praising what is good in a statement or paper before commenting more fully. That sort of "deference" is known to wolves too and it is the opposite of subservience. Broder does not note that the Obama repeatedly called McCain, John, hardly a sign of deference. Moreover, the moderator Jim Lerher was begging them to engage and the Obama was attempting to do so. McCain was afraid to face the Obama or debate real substance becausee he has none.

I suppose Broder was basing his "alpha" argument on the myth that as ruler of the house, you need to exercise alphahood over your dog by rolling it on its back staring at it so that it averts its eyes, as all subservient creatures do. Or the shibboleth that you should never let your dog stare you in the eyes because that will embolden it to challenge your alphahood. In any event the notion is that McCain put Obama in his place.

Bunk, as I said, the "slpha"male on the stage, if you must, was the Obama. He was gracious in the face of rudeness. He stood his ground. He commanded himself and exuded calm, as he always does, and power---I always get the impression of remarkable power lurking just under the surface of the Obama. He keeps it controlled, the way he keeps the crowds he draws from becoming too exuberant. He exercised it when he summoned McCain to Oxford. He was tall, fit, commanding. McCain was small and shrinking, a shrill whiner, a fear biter. Or see what James Fallows has to say in the

As to the "surge"--if it worked so well, why the pause in the draw down? If we are victorious, why are we still there,. The answer is that the surge is a pr success for Petraeus and its backers in the U.S. Baghdad had been ethnically cleansed before the troop buildup of the surge began, meaning violence there was already reduced. The same goes for provinces where the Sunni Awakening was present. Maqtada al-Sadr's decision to keep his Mehdi Army out of combat despite considerable provocation was crucial to the surge's "success"; indeed, a good argument can be made that Maqtada made the "surge" a "success".

Far from the re-emergence of John McCail, we are seeing thee dissolution of John McCain, the myth.

More significantly, I hope, we are seeing the Obama near that final bar in his improbable quest, gaining power and confidence as he goes.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Clintons at It Again

First, let me admit that I have never been a fan of William Jefferson Clinton. I voted for him reluctantly the first time to get the warmonger elder Bush out of the White House, but I always felt that Clinton, more than most politicians lacked the courage of his non-convictions and was the perpetual student council president alwayys running to please someone. Indeed, as president, he signed welfare reform--giving poor people less--and banking reform--giving rich people more. Then there was Monica--he never let her swallow--not that hoot counts, anyway--and thus, no affair. The guy can't take responsibility for his actions or his apetitites. Then there were the 2008 primaries--read back through this blog--where he and Hills consciously and viciously played to sexual and racial rejudice. Now there is this interview with the View television program, which can only be see as an endorsement of McCain. As to Hills--I had long thought she could be president, but then she voted for the Iraq War, without reading the intelligent assessment, and authorized Bush to war with Iran, whenever he pleases. Those are irresponsible acts. Now while pretending to support the Obama wholeheartedly, the Clintons are making nice nice toward McCain and Palin. Why because they want Hills running again in 2012, which ain't possible if the Obama wins. So on a day when George Will says McCain is unfit to be President, Bubba--that's Clinton--does everything but endorse him, while damning the Obama with faint praise. He says he's going to campaign for the Obama in selected state, and so we'll see what form that takes. This sort of triangulation is typical of the Clintonoids, both of whom should take a long vacation from public life at one of McCain's 10 houses. He can even loan them a car or two or 13.

End of the Imperium

There is a story from Reuters today on a leading Chinese academic economist calling for an end to the primacy of the dollar in the world financial order. Thus, the process Nixon put in train some 40 years ago when he floated the dollar and opened diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China comes full circle under the presidency of the son of the first U.S. ambassador to China. That former ambassador became the president presiding over the fall of the Wall and breakup of the Soviet Empire, and now his son has nearly succeeded in killing what remains of the American Imperium. Meanwhile, Nixon's Dr. Strangelove has now become tutor in chief for Governor Lipstick.

Who's the Most Conservative

Sports and political junkies take note, especially if you are still attempting to convert the" heathern." Call the racists out with this true observation. The most socially and morally conservative candidate in this race is Barack Obama. By all accounts, he doesn't screw around, he dotes on his two girls and his wife, he believes parents should be involved in their childrens' lives and make sure, especially, that they work hard in school. He believes that it is through hard work that you get ahead--totally American. Compare that to the legacy, John McCain. Without being the son and grandson of admirals, he would never have graduated--he would never have been admitted to--the Naval Academy.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fiction of Surge and Splurge

The mainstream American media remain willingly captive to the government's fictional narrative of the Iraq war. I have to think it is because despite their knowledge that they were deceived by the weapons of mass destruction justification--and their anger over that--they remain reliant on the U.S.. military for their safety and access to the information they need to report any stories. They are also congenitally inclined to trust authority, especially authority, like General David Petraeus, who assiduously cultivates them. So great is the American media's devotion to Petraeus that it is more adamant about the "surge" damping downn violence in Baghdad than he is. The media is so adamant that it pillories Barack Obama for not hewing to the fictional narrative.

Obama was right. We know that Maqtada Al-Sadr's decision to keep his Mahdi armies on the sidelines and the rise of the Sunni Awakening against insurgents contributed probably more than the surge--the Sunni Awakening predated the surge; the Maqtada's decision was coincident. Now in the journal Environment and Planning A appears a paper by John Agnew at UCLA and two colleagues, called "Baghdad nights: evaluating the U.S. miliary "surge" using nighttime light signatures." Between spring 2006 and the beginning of the surge in February 2007, the largest Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad were emptied, ethnically cleansed, as manifest in satellite photo showing a 57 percent to 80 percent drop in nighttime light levels in Baghdad's Sunni enclaves. The American media couldn't ignore this story, although this link is from the Times Online [London], but for now it is buried under the financial meltdown.

I don't see in the Bush any guarantees that the greedy bastards behind this disaster will pay any penalty. If they don't, the bailout is just a continuation of the shell game. These people knew what they were doing. They must forfeit profit and pay gained from the bubble and be kept from profiting in any way from future sales. Simultaneously working people must be protected, but we have no obligation to safeguard mortgages on 2nd or 3rd or whatever homes.

Anti-Obama Wingnuts

The truths of Miami are that its climate is such that in the winter it collects just about every kind of organism there is that finds the cold and low light levels of northern hemisphere winters unacceptable and that, once here, those same organisms have their brains baked until they no longer function. In other words, Miami collects wingnuts, one of whom appeared today at the University of Miami to harass the Obama. The media herd following the Obama had a protest happily to report, and they did so without putting the event in context. They were around 10 to 15 in number in a crowd of more than 10,000, aiming for media to portray them as blacks protesting the black. So here's a freebe for whatever media wants to use it, with attribution to Dog Bytes, of course.

Yesterday, Gina Maranto did some checking of stills from the scene at, the student newspaper site, and read the fine print on the

He''s changed his Home Page since Gina checked it yesterday. Now you are prominently directed to "for information on Oprah and Obamas destruction of the black race and rest of the world." There is a photograph from the 'demonstration' along with his graphic novel detailing Michael's' defeat of Satan. If you click on and scroll through that, you end up with a link to the Michaeldefeatssatan home --and there you see Michael himself on camera. He seems to have some relationship to Yahweh Ben Yahweh, who as YHWH was God to the Nation of Yahweh, headquartered in Liberty City, south of Miami. He was also a convicted felon--racketeering, conspiracy to commit murder--who died in May 2007.

The Obama by the way was good. The women providing the warm up--local politicians leading up to local Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri--were terrific. In debate, any one of them would demolish Governor Lipstick....

Friday, September 19, 2008

Financial Insanity

So here is what I understand [with spelling corrected from last night].

GREED: Various 'banks' were taking subprime mortgages and bundling them with other more and less solid securities to sell to investors at a more or less guaranteed return on investment, all made safe by what everyone, including buyer and seller, knew was a real estate bubble. But everyone was making loads of money and their ethos was 'buy low, sell high.' They were kings and queens of the world

DOUBT: Home prices started to sag in certain high growth markets. I saw someone wanted to blame Miami and South Florida again, but it was more Central Florida and Las Vegas. A rise in adjustable rate mortgages and weakening economy caused more erosion. People who had bought these packages began to worry, and neither they nor the packager knew how much debt was bad, how much good.

FEAR: Rather than figure their exposure, the institutions that understood this absurdity early on began to dump those packages. When that word got out, more and more people panicked, and that fear has by now, a year later turned to screams for a government assumption of all that bad debt.

SANITY: If a bailout is necessary make it hurt those responsible for this mess. Here's what we should demand. All assets go to the government, that is the taxpayer to hold and to run. If they are sold, all profit goes to the taxpayer, that is the government for paying off debt. People in policy making positions in those institutions will sacrifice all of their assets to the public, in return for modest pensions and health care--and that's more than they deserve. Investors in those companies will have to pay a surcharge on whatever of the assets they buy on sale from the government, say up to 200 percent, for obvious reasons. Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, and company are wrapped in orange jump suits, manacled wrist to ankle, bagged, and shipped to The Hague for war crimes.

We;re going to hear the Obama tomorrow at the University of Miami, but I've said before, and I say again: the sole and singular question of this campaign is whether America will elect a black man--a mixed race man president. "True that," as Omar, The Wire, says--said before he got offed.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Eejitry [revised]

I'll put this as bluntly as I can--the bounce for McCain't/Palinites in the polls represents the signal sad undiscussed reality that Sarah Palin provides cover for every closet racist in America not to vote for a black man. Making the campaign about race rather than issues is old hat, too. It's what broke apart the early 20th Century coalescence of poor whites and blacks. It's what has driven politics in the South since Reconstruction and, yes, even in the North. With Palin on the McCain't ticket, people who wouldn't have pulled the lever for the Obama suddenly find themselves with a person to vote for while saying, "I voted for a minority. Ii voted for a woman." Nothing else matters to them or him. If I'm right, and Plain flushed the unacknowledged racists, then the Obama is in pretty good shape at dead even. He's got nowhere to go but up, while McCain't can crash again.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Republican Identity Politics

Why is it that Republicans automatically identify the word 'pig' with Sarah Palin and by extension every woman?

Could it be that these antediluvian McCain'ts think of women that way? Of course they do.

Now, that's the issue that should be discussed.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Putting Family First

In full hypocritical fury, Republican operatives have spent the past week accusing the press of having a sexist and class vendetta against Sarah Palin, aka Ms. Lipstick 2008, and beating up on her pregnant daughter. The McCain'ts and Palinists brought up the issue of daughter Bristol's pregnancy and impending shotgun wedding to refute a rumor bounding around the Internet that the Sarah was really her son's grandmother, that the real mother was Bristol--they say. I was arguing the other day that dragging the daughter in was the last thing a protective mother and father would do. Reading that, my mother observed that all Ms. Lipstick had to do was produce an official statement from her doctor to the the effect that she had delivered the child on such and such a date, etc. A birth certificate might help as well. End of story.

Is that unfair? The Obama produced a birth certificate in response to vile rumors about his birth. See it here [scroll through these negative rumors].

That the McCain'ts and Palinists threw the children at the press as human shields and then blamed the press and Obamans for doing so is callously cynical, especially sense they know the Obama has declared the children off limits. But these are the same people who accused a black man of playing the race card. Time for the media to stop cleaning up for these poilticians. See if McCain's candidacy will survive honest accounts of his temper, his gambling, and his womanizing. See if Ms. Lipstick can do more than behave like a high school student council president programmed to lie about her opponents.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Republican Inversion

We're watching Ike bull across the Atlantic not Pitbull Hockey Mom.  Our Kate never has liked pit bulls with or without lipstick.  She finds them sneaky and unreliable, prone to unprovoked attack.  Ike, on the other hand, is a tightly wound category 4 0r 5 storm, exactly the kind we in South  Florida remember all to well. [Andrew, 1992, was a tightly wound 5 when it devastated this area.]

That said: The Republicans are attempting to invert their ticket, to pit the pitbull against the Obama, as if Sarah Palin were the Presidential nominee and McCain the after thought.  The ultimate goal is to keep the focus on personalities--Obama and Palin--and trust in the long habit of American racism.  McCain is happy to hide behind her and her family.  Note that Bristol pointedly was not baby sitting during the speech.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

What To Say

I am rarely is dumbfounded by the lunacy and callous cynicism of politicians, especially Republican politicians--while sporting a healthy ego, the Obama manifests a refreshing lack of guile, not to be confused with naivete--but John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin to be his running mate, has once again reminded me that Buffon, not Darwin, was right about the direction of evolution. After a species comes into existence, it begins to devolve, that is to degenerate. That Sarah Palin is a featherweight goes without saying. That the politicians tripping over themselves to prove that Alaska is close to Russia are callously cynical and contemptuous of the American public is, likewise, a given. What John McCain means by calling her is "soulmate" is worth considering. The list goes on and on to reveal a petty, calculating, cynical, ambitious young politician who fits snugly into the anti-intellectual, hypocritical Republican party and is willing to put her family out front, as shields against criticism and sharp questioning.

But I think the question now is: What does it say about the courage, decency, and moral integrity of John McCain and Sarah Palin that they should hide behind a pregnant, unwed 17-year-old [apparent] high school drop-out and her "powermower," as they say in Bal-T-more, also an apparent high school drop-out? We're told that the child's pregnancy was announced to put the lie to nasty rumors spread by liberal bloggers that Sarah Palin's new son is really her grandson, that a planned private adoption was cancelled when it was suggested he had Down's Syndrome. Why was turning the daughter into a sacrificial lamb, into a human shield, the only way to do that? Put another way, if the soulmates, Sarah and John, really cared about protecting the child, they would never have brought her into the campaign.

Given McCain and his operatives are smart enough to have known what would happen when they did, the only explanation I can come up with is that Bristol Palin was exposed on purpose to shield her mother and McCain from more substantive charges of incompetence. The Obama stated clearly and forcefully that the children of candidates should be off limits--and everyone claims to agree. But the McCain'ts keep sticking Bristol Palin stage center, most recently by bringing her 'powermower' to St. Paul for Sarah's nomination, after several publications declared him 'sexy' and he became an asset. He and Bristol will be wearing signs that say: 'Here we are, but if you try to talk to us or criticize Sarah Palin or John McCain for anything, including using us to their own ends, you will be invading our privacy. If you do that, you're lower than slime mold." Thus guarded, Palin-McCain will strut and fret, casting aspersions wherever they go.

On the other hand, they will be showing that the Republicans and their born-again "base" really do approve, admire, and respect teenage girls who become pregnant out of wedlock and the boys who impregnate them. They will be remaking the Republican party into the party of sex, drugs, rock-n-roll.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Big Night

To my jaded ears the signal moment in the Obama's masterful speech on Thursday came when he nearly shouted one word after a litany of horrors that is our current economic, social, and political circumstance: "Enough!" It struck straight to the heart, a cry of negation and affirmation, as clear a statement of principle as anyone could ask for. In his acceptance speech, the Obama delivered red meat to the troops, who needed it, slicing and dicing John McCain with surgical precision to reveal him ; he laid out programs for the policy wonks; and he raised the stakes with his peroration. Beginning with a subtle but unmistakable allusion to Martin Luther King--just the right note for a man who wouldn't want to be accused of exploiting a happy historical coincidence--that the Obama was accepting the nomination 45 years to the day after King's majestic "I Have a Dream" speech (everyone knows that by now)--he soared out of the stadium, bringing his audience along for the ride.

It was a gigantic audience, to be sure--84,000 in Denver's Mile High Stadium [I know, it's a commercial field), and another 40 million live, according to the New York Times. Early polls show a considerable bounce that McCain's publicity stunt on Friday, August 29, might actually have bumped up more.

The stunt was his announcement that his vice-presidential nominee would be Alaska's governor Sarah Palin. I say reckless not only because she is untried but also because she has some major deficits that were never checked or, worse, ignored as irrelevant. In effect she wasn't vetted to the extent that a clerical worker is. Here's an Editor and Publisher summary of editorials and stories from Alaska on Palin. Alaska has a human population 670,00 plus or minus, most of whom live in Anchorage or Fairbanks. Wasilla, where Palin began her meteoric rise, lies about an hour north of Anchorage and is best known as home of the Iditarod International Sled Dog Race, although Palin herself seems to prefer snow machines to dogs. I've been to Wasilla; it has a population of 7,000 to 9,000, depending on the season.

An ardent anti-abortionists, who makes no allowance even for rape or incest, Palin nonetheless does not extend her belief in the "right to life" to other species: She disapproves of listing polar bears as an endangered species, approves aerial gunning of wolves, lifting wolf cubs from their dens and killing them, and hunting in general. She's a rabid "evangelical" Christian who believes in Creationsim, we're told, as if we need another anti-intellectual in the presidency--and make no mistake, the odds are not long that McCain with his history of melanoma, his heavy smoking, and god knows what else will live through his term, if he is elected. It appears that McCain chose her as eye candy for the hook and bullet crowd, fashion adviser to their wives, and who knows what to John McCain--at the least a statement of contempt toward the office, the Republic, and anything that doesn't celebrate him. She's also a doll thrown to the media covering the McCain campaign, who drooled all over Palin, and twittered over their boy's recklessness.

I've been to Alaska twice and tracked the Iditarod from Anchorage to Nome, with a side trip across the Nome peninsula to Shishmaref in a Cessna Super Cub flown by a pilot whose mother was Yupik and father was Irish. Like most Alaskans, he'd learned to fly in high school. Absent roads, you fly or snow machine. I love the place, but being a young inexperienced woman politician from Alaska, who won the governorship in November 2006 with something on the order of 120,000 votes--the Obama spoke to 84,000 people live, remember, in Denver and 200,000 in Berlin--and has served without distinction for less than two years, does not qualify you for he presidency.

In fact, Palin's chief accomplishment seems to be the use of her office to pursue a a family vendetta against her former brother-in-law, a state trooper. The Washington Post has taken the lead on this story--bless it--and has a front page story today. Essentially, she is accused of pressuring the public safety commissioner, Walter Monegan, in person and through her husband and aides, to fire the ex-brother-in-law and then firing Monegan in July 2008 when he refused. The Alaska state legislature has appointed an independent prosecutor to look into the matter, and he is due to report in October. Apparently the Republicans feel they can tough out this small family affair, given the bigger things they've covered up in Washington for the past 7 years, and they might. But I think they are wrong. I won't even bet on Palin being the nominee.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

History Made: Part I

I finally caught up with a video of Bubba's speech to the Democratic Convention last night, and he brought a tear or two to my eyes, not least because he rose above all the shit from the battle for the nomination and gave a presidential endorsement of the man who should be the next president. Hills did the same on Tuesday night, and again last night when she called for the nomination of the Obama acclamation. The Clintons understand better than anyone, that they can't lose by putting all of their considerable influence behind getting the Obama elected. But by sulking and not helping, they can destroy their party and Bubba's legacy, not to mention the Hills's opportunity to lead the Senate, which I think is where she is headed, much less gain a future nomination herself.

But the tears didn't fall over political tactics. They fell because a considerable bit of history was made last night--a national political party that has counted among its members in years past some of the most noxious racists this country has produced put forward as its nominee for president an African-American, a black man. It is true that the Obama is, according to these racial definitions, half black and half white, but in America's racist tradition any bit of "black" blood has by tradition and, in some places law, been enough to define a person. That has always been absurd, of course, but it's not stopped people from being discriminated against, raped, castrated, lynched, and falsely imprisoned--and that was after emancipation. That 40 years after the assassination of Martin Luther King, we could come to this pass, is nothing short of astonishing. That the Obama delivers his acceptance speech, 45 years to the day after King delivered his majestic "dream" to the several hundred thousand marchers from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, is even more fitting. Here's a link to text, audio, and video of "I Have a Dream," introduced as the "moral leader of our nation." ['Meet physical force with soul force."]

If the Obama is elected president, there should be dancing in the streets, because in a fundamental sense the world will have turned. Bubba and the Hills have I believe helped launch the final phase of the Obama's improbable journey. Now, they have to help bring it home, for different reasons--he to restore a reputation as the 'first black president' that he so recklessly imperiled with his blatantly racist appeals in the primaries; she to advance her power and influence. "Time has come today."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Thoughts on Celebrity Candidates

The German pope draws several hunded thousand to an outdoor mass and that's grand because he's the holy bloody padre--grand inquisitor, too. The Obama draws several hundred thousand to a major speech, and he, the man who might become leader of the most powerful nation on the planet and far more significant than the current pope, is dubbed a 'celebrity' by his enfeebled opponent, who appears stuck in his prisoner of war cell--understandable, but we don't want that for president. The 'celebrity' designation is seized upon by the media, who should viscerally hate the pope, as they should hate anyway who would tell them collectively or individually what to believe, think and write, but would rather it appears crawl into that cell with McCain.

It's fair to ask why?

The media and assorted pundits from other fields who sneer at celebrity like fame and fortune just fine--thus their collective fixation on circulation, viewership, and book sales, not to mention public opinion polls--so it's a little hard to swallow the argument that there is something inherently wrong with 'celebrity.' Nor is it the case that Americans somehow have a cultural aversion to popular leaders; rather, Americans tend to surrender too much to them--think George Bush after the megaphone stunt.

But to call the Obama a 'celebrity' is to deny him status as a charismatic, galvanizing leader, which he has the potential to be. He can be a rabble rouser, a joke, or a 'celebrity,' but he can't make the leap that the lesser Hollywood celebrity made to 'leader.' The primary reasons for this perceived--I should say, 'fabricated'-- failure on the Obama's part are intimated to be intellectual, racial, and temperamental. In short: he's too much a soft -boiled brown egghead. Didn't the Obama allow the Clintonoids to highjack his convention, after all? And that gets recycled through the media again and again, making it dificult for the counter voices to be heard.

I say, let them sneer. The Obama who set out on this mad quest seemed to understand that were he to win, he needed numbers, and to get those numbers, he needed an organization. To build such an organizaton in such a short time, he needs to galavanize people who haven't voted and don't vote. He needs to appeal to the vast majority of Americans who embrace the mixing zone that country is rapidly become, who recognize that this country will only reclaim the greatness squandered by the Bushites by welcoming people from all over the world who come here to build their dreams. It's hard to deny, 40 years later, that the Obama can carry the promise of '68--or some of it to power--something the last two, full Baby Boomers, failed so miserably to do.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Unasked Questions

I wonder when the Obama is going to start asking directly about McCain's fitness for office. He can use surrogates, if necessary, but he needs to start now in order to spur the self-complacent media to action. I'm talking about the media members who happily broadcast or print the scurrilous, ad hominem attacks on the Obama by McCain's spokesmen and cutouts. The rule in place appears to be: If someone with an official sounding title says something, we can use it. That kind of system allows candidates to disavow comments that go beyond the pale, even while they continue to throw them. McCain and his negative ops team are masters of this approach, and they have benefited directly from Hillary Clinton's scorched earth tactics, particularly the constant questioning of the Obama's ability, his capacity, his patriotism, and his experience--all without even an ironic wink at the fact that when he ran for president, her Mr. Bill was a two-term governor of one of the poorest states in the country, who, to prove he was tough, approved the execution of a retarded black man...., and who couldn't keep his fly closed. Those were his qualifications.

It would behoove the Obamans to remember that they can't refute these charges by stating that in fact the opposite is true. That gives them credence. Nor can you say the Obama's lapses are less than McCain's. Rather, you have to stick to your program, which should be simple and straightforward, and directly attack McCain's supposed strengths. Thus, McCain talks about judgment and experience, Obama counters with ads and comments about McCain's vicious temper and how that clouds and has clouded his judgment. McCain boasts about refusing early release from POW camp in Hanoi because he didn't want special privilege as son of an important admiral. The Obamans counter by presenting the record of how McCain benefited every step of his Navy career because he was the son and grandson of admirals and every step of his political career because of the wealth of his second wife and his own slippery relations with lobbyists. McCain talks about reform; Obama talks about lobbyists, the Keating 5, and Cindy McCain's corporate jet. McCain talks about the importance of family; the Obamans talk about his purported lovers, his divorce, his and his wife's lying about their adoption of Indian children. McCain talks about elitism; the Obamans talk about a man who doesn't know how many houses he owns and ask what else he doesn't know about his own life and marriage. Then, they ask who pays his gambling--craps--debts, or are they forgiven by the casinos? The Obama should also point out daily that McCain and Bush have castigated him for wanting a timetable for bringing all troops out of Iraq. Yet Bush just went and agreed to a timetable.

Obama could also help himself by presenting good, crisp programs, simply explained. Thus, a single-payer health-care program--not something he endorses, although he should--would cost X dollars and would improve medical care X amount. Back the envelope calculations I've done show that only about 30 cents on the dollar spent on health care currently goes for actual patient care--for doctoring. The rest goes for insurance company executives and share holders and other third and fourth parties, as well as to office expenses for the doctors who must maintain full-time staff just to handle insurance. He could also document how this program would actually liberate American workers and make them competitive with the rest of the world. But the Obama doesn't have bold plans; he's a moderate Democrat at best. That's not much, but it's a heap better than what Bush/McCain can manage.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Tangled Web

Time is short, so I will be too. Today's New York Times carries two op-eds of note. The first by Mikhail Gorbachev places responsibility for the mess in Georgia squarely on the shoulders of its president, the Western, re US, stooge, Mikheil Saakashvili, who launched an attack on the civilian, population of South Ossetia, using his US trained troops and weapons. Gorbachev says he was encouraged in this aggression by the US, mucking around in the Caucasus again--proof that we never learn. He puts the lie to all the high-blown US chest thumping. The second comes from Maureen Dowd, channeling a late night shot-glass punctuated meeting between John McCain and Hillary Clinton to congratulate each other on the destruction of the Obama camapaign and MCCain's agreement to run for only one term and thereby clear the way for Hills in 2012. Unfortunately, this gruesome scenario has the ring of truth, even down to the suggestion that Mr. Bill asked his buddy Putin to invade Georgia in order to help McCain's campaign. Gorbachev makes clear that thae Russians have their own reasons for doing so, and given their anger over Kosovo, they are unlikely to want to help a Clinton do anything, but that is a consequence over which they have no control.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The McCain Campaign: What Is It Good For?

We're watching the wind blow as the rain machine known as Tropical Storm Fay sloshes up the peninsula, having made a lot of local disaster managers look silly and insuring that next time, no one will listen to their drum beats of doom.

Here, to fill the void is a guest posting from an old friend, writer and editor Bruce Stutz:

So John McCain was going to send Joe Lieberman to straighten things out in Georgia? What will he do, threaten to bring in the Hadassah? My thought for the day, though, is that McCain’s candidacy should give hope to those held at Guantanamo that someday, despite years of captivity and torture that left their bodies wracked and their minds addled, they too, could find themselves running for President.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

McCain's Confusion

John McCain's mental lapses have long been apparent and sometimes reported, like when he confuses Shia and Sunni Muslims or rearranges the borders and even the geographic location of various Middle Eastern countries or shows that ethics are for the masses, not for the privileged like John McCain, who did almost as well at the Naval Academy as George W. Bush did at Yale. Both were legacies--Bush to the manor born, McCain to the admiral's suite--but whereas the Bushy cruised through on the 'gentleman's C,' McCain worked disdainfully--he has said he had a "chip" on his shoulder--to graduate 894th out of a class of 899. His current forgetfulness, referenced by Frank Rich in today's New York Times column, could reflect McCain's mental lassitude, but it could also be due to dementia that is being deliberately concealed. Similarly, McCain's entanglements with lobbyists should receive more scrutiny than the New York Times and Washington Post have provided, good tough that has been. We've had quite enough of Bush's intellectual slothfulness and hardly need another one like him, no matter the cause. Beyond that, it's long past time for political correspondents to stop making candidates sound like people they are not. In some cases, the reporting may be worse than that--mistatements corrected in service to a bigger falsehood that the candidate or office holder puts out as truth and is presented as such by media outlets.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Free Advice

Free advice is the best advice because having cost nothing and being unsolicited, it's easy to ignore. So here's my completely free advice to the Obama:

Responding directly to every bit of eejitry emanating from the McCain't campaign is not only impossible, because there is so much of it, but also counterproductive, because it is petty and juvenile. The McCain'ts are spoiled children on the school playground, trying to provoke a fight, so they can run, crying foul, to their parents who are blocking the school door to keep 'them' out.

It would be better to change the name of the McCain't campaign bus from "Straight Talk Express" to "Gutter Talk Unlimited." Every time a McCain't rant is aired, have someone, preferrably a John McCain't look alike, from your 'gutter talk' team take a nice graphical representation of the most appropriate McCain't virtue or value--the ones he wears on his chest: TRUTH, DIGNITY, HONOR, COURAGE, INTEGRITY, PROBITY, GOOD JUDGEMENT, EQUALITY, FREEDOM--crumple it up, throw it in the gutter, and stomp on it. Then have a child walking by pick it up and drop it in the garbage, while the McCain't continue fuming nearby. The voice over: "John McCain says, [fill in the blank, according to context]. But John McCain makes a mockery of what he says. Will the real John McCain reveal himself?"

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Go Figure

It is axiomatic that American voters usually will chose their economic self-interest over their inherited--culturally inherited, I would have said--biases and prejudices, with a footnote that directs the reader to a lengthy digression on race, the great unbridgeable divide, in America. One can't live in this country and not be aware of race--yes, exceptions abound--but you basically have to live in a hermetically sealed bubble to escape it. Experience tells us that a black candidate may have significant leads in the polls running up to election day, only to lose decisively. Pollmeisters call it the Bradley Effect, after L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley, who 1982 took a large lead into the gubernatorial election in California only to lose. Surprised pollsters suspected that people were deliberately concealing their true inclination or choice, perhaps for fear of having their bigotry and inane biases exposed to the light. Nonetheless, the opposition spends time and money to make sure those prejudices and biases are at fever pitch on election, while the black candidates do not run from but do not call attention to their race. They would rather discuss policies and programs.

Given that, here is my question for every journalist and editor who has mindlessly repeated the charges of John McCain and his hatchet men not only that the Obama "played the race card" against them but dealt it from the bottom of the deck as well--in other words, he cheated and he lied: Why would any black candidate call attention to his race, knowing that the bias against him because of his race is precisely what he must overcome in order to win election? The Obama himself has more often been criticized by African-Americans as not being black enough--here reporters need a crash course in the complexity of the black community in many American cities, like Miami, where native born African-Americans and blacks from the Caribbean, South America, and Africa hardly form a community of shared cultures, histories, and dreams, then do the same thing for the 'white' community. The Obama wants race out of the picture. Many in the mainstream media has fallen for the same ugly tactics used to turn Max Cleland and John Kerry from war heroes into fakes and cowards, in part because of their addiction to "he-said, she-said, gottcha journalism" and in larger measure because journalism schools don't 'do' history, The McCain'ts have done everything they can to turn the Obama from a man into a 'boy,' and in the context of American history that is racism--plain, pure, as simply as it comes. To pretend otherwise is inane.

Of course, McCain's charges can't bear honest scrutiny, which is exactly what they deserve, as does his own less than stellar record as a legislator. 'Then, too, one can question why the main stream media refuses to investigate thoroughly McCain't's prisoner of war days, his entire military career, and, as the Washington Post and New York Times have periodically, his life in public service, his temper, his intellectual sloth, his purported affairs, and his moral cowardice in attacking the Obama in such a low down,vile manner and then denying he has done so.

Michael Powell and Bob Herbet sort through the race card issue in today's New York Times. Maybe others of their colleagues will take heed. Unless they do, they will continue to give credence to lies, and they will show how it is that Americans will follow their prejudice and fear rather than their own good sense.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

What Does John McCain Know?

It is increasingly clear that John McCain is fixing to run the most nasty, negative, racist campaign seen for decades; indeed, he's already started. I've commented before on the language used to describe the Obama as different [from us], out of touch [with us], arrogant; uppity; unpatriotic; untested; presumptuous; and on ad nauseam. The McCain'ts ran an ad earlier in the week about the Obama going to the gym rather than visiting wounded troops in Germany, an ad which bore not even a passing relationship to the truth and followed that up with one calling him a megacelebrity in the mold of Brittany Spears and Paris HIlton, two stereotypical ego- and perhaps nympho-maniacal blonds. I won't even count the number of ways this ad is insulting, racist, misogynistic, and dumb. But when called on the ad by the Obama and his campaign, McCain't and his crew charged the Obama with "playing the race card." I kid not. In making that charge, McCain has shown himself dumber and more vicious than George Bush--that's if he doesn't know what he's saying. If he does know what he is saying and is doing so in order to be elected, then he is too callous, arrogant, venal, vicious, condescending, hateful, and, yes, racist to even be considered for the presidency.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Surge and Splurge

"The surge is working," sayeth John McCain't at every turning of the campaign trail, and that's the reason "we" can even talk now about troop withdrawals and timelines, which I, John the Bold, oppose. McCain goes on to imply that the Obama is a coward and traitor and sellout for opposing "surge and splurge," our road map to victory, compliments of the brilliant David Petraeus. 'He doesn't understand what's at stake here," sayeth McCain't. He's being 'political,' as if the bloody fiasco in Iraq were ever anything but political. It's last in his class McCain't who, like George Bush, can't wrap his mind around realilty, who's playing politics of the basest sort here--that is, personal, racist politics. He speech is full of words intended to prove that the Obama is not one of us and never will be.

The mainstream media fall right along in stride, seizing an opportunity to bring down the Obama. That's the only explanation for the same kind of lemming think that led most of the mainstream media to tag along on the war in the first place, the kind of uncritical thinking that accepts a lie as real simply because it comes from the seat of power and vaguely matches the observed (as opposed to observable) facts. James Rainey reports in the Los Angeles Times on a study out of the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, showing that network news journalists might have devoted more minutes to the Obama, but they were far more negative than the minutes devoted to McCain't.

He appears adled, McCain't does, dazed and confused, unable to do anything but continue the negative, personal, racist campaign of his pal the Hills.. It would be intriguing were the HIlls to switch parties and run as V.P. with McCain--it's her most direct route, given his age and aura of bad health, despite his doctors, to the White House--and Chuck Hagel, stepping down Nevada Republican war hero and stout foe of the Iraq war crime--were to cross over and run with the Obama. There's a ticket.

Meanwhile, probably the best thing the Obama can do at this point in the campaign is ignore John McCain't. To engage him is to dive into his cesspool of insanity and rage and pain, to get sucked into the void that underlies his blind ambition.

And here is more or less where things stand. No firm evidence has beeen presented that "surge and splurge" has succeeded. At their joint Congressional testimony in the spring Petraeus and Crocker requested more time. Indeed, most evidence points to the surge as, at best, a pyrrhic victory. On July 23, former Iraqi Prime Minister, Ayad Allawi, testified in the House of Representatives, that the 'surge' had been moderately successful short term militarily in damping down violence, but politically, it was a failure. Others have said much the same--that Baghdad is quieter in large measure because the Mahdi Army of Moqtada al Sadr has abided by a cease fire it declared, even while the Maliki government has repeatedly violated it to attack Sadrites, their implacable foes. Baghdad is also quieter now because increased American presence in the capital provided a cover for expulsion of Sunnis from their own and mixed neighborhoods. American commanders seem to recognize that the situation could blow again at any time and probaby will once they leave.

Provisional elections scheduled for October and long considered a serious threat to Maliki's rule are likely to be postponed until the new year in part because of the continued drive by the Kurds to annex and ethnically cleanse Kirkuk, a major oil producing center, and Maliki's fear of Sadr's popularity. Iraqi security forces are widely perceived as corrupt partisans, Shiite militias. primarily the Badr Brigade--Badr and Sadr are enemies--in national uniforms. In effect, the Bushies, including Patraeus and McCain' have, in supporting the Maliki government, chosen to make common cause with Iran--that's right, the same country they keep threatening to attack next. Who lacks judgment here?

But then, McCain't tell Iran from Iraq from Afghanistan. Still, let's give McCain't what the Obama gets--the opportunity to justify his existence, to explain his religion, to prove his partrioitism, his courage, his devotion, and finally and forever to convince us that he is not a Communist mole put in place all those years ago to destroy Amerika. That would even the coverage out a good bit.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Election 2008, or the Permanent Campaign

Well, I've been silent for a few months, trying to work while watching the lunacy of a presidential campaign that has already gone on far too long. I would like to say that, thanks to the Clintons, the campaign has already sunk to new depths of negativitiy, but that would be unfair. Nasty campaigns are an American artform, reviled by the same people who revel in them. The Clintons simply managed to throw open the outhouse door on this one, opening race as a line of attack, and combining it with charges of incompetence. I half think that the Obama should select the Hills as his running mate, so that every time the McCain'ts reproduce one of the more noxious Clinton charges--the 3 a.m. ad, as in the upstart black man ain't qualified to lead at any time, or that he is "elitest' whereas I, the HIlls, or John the McCain't, am/is--she is trotted out publicly to eat her own vile words. Problem is that the venom flowing from the Republican camp and from Democrats, especially self-professed liberal, pro-Civil Rights white Democrats--and judging from the Reverend Jesse Jackson's expressed desire to castrate the Obama, from blacks, as well--will be so thick and noxious that not even the Hills will be able to absorb it. The New Yorker provided a taste with its by now nearly forgotten cover for July 21--

David Remnick, editor of the magazine, as well as the illustrator and various other staff and defenders have called this "homage to bigotry and ignorance " a "satire" of the noxious attitudes many bigots have toward the Obamas, husband and wife. Putting the kindest face on this propagandistic, anti-Obama campaign poster, we might accept that Remnick, his colleagues and supporters do believe it is satire. It is not. You don't send up someone else's ideas about X and Y by portraying without a trace of irony X and Y as the embodiments of those ideas. This drawing simply says, "Everything you feared about us was, in fact. true--and then some. " A poll released by the AP on July 24, shows that 7 in 10 Democrats feel the cover is a biased, bigotted piece of work that can't be called satire, while 7 in 10 Republicans find it fine--surprise, surprise.

As any number of pundits has observed, there surely are "more" important things to worry about than what a magazine sliding past its glory years into dotage puts on its cover--surging oil prices, a housing market dragging the economy into a black hole, bank failures, American war crimes, not to mention the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan--the "Global War on Terriorism." But the sad truth is that this election is about whether America can in 2008 elect a black man president, whether enough people can determine to throw off the weight of America's racist history--the legacy of slavery, the reality of racism in a society that likes to inarcerate its black men--and vote for the Obama. The New Yorker cover and the pieces inside, including a long article on the Obama as a young Chicago politician--I should say ambitious young Chicago politician--are just more evidence of how hard that will be. If not precisely a hack job, theNew Yorker profile by Ryan Lizza is at best a weed whack job, negative in pitch, tone, and direction, perfectly in tune with the cover art.

In discusssing the Obama, many reporters annd commentators in the main stream media and in the blogosphere add those extra, freighted modifiers at every naming--"arrogant," "elitist," "weak," "unproven," "opportunistic," "indecisive.""aloof," "perceived as lacking gravitas," and "lucky." I even heard one talking head--a dead white male--call the Obama an Oreo cookie! The Obama said to be a brilliant speaker, but that is dismissed as little more than play acting. Words don't mean anything, the Hills liked to say, and, indeed, they mean nothing to people who's definition of truth is highly fungible. George W. Bush was less prepared for the presidency than the Obama, and, although he certainly was accused of many things, including arrogance and ignorance, he came in for far less flack--indeed, he did well in the debates precis
ely because he persuaded the media to give him a "gentleman's C<" plus extra points for every partial al answer. Applied to the Obama, thse words and phrases--whether consciously or not on the part of the writer, and I suspect that in many cases they are unconscious--serve the Obama is an uppity black man, and Michelle Obama is an even more uppity black woman. It's no wonder polls say he doesn't connect with most voters or share their values. My point is that when all of these comments are put in context of race, they spell defeat for Obama and Democrats to a man who is probably less qualified than George Bush to be president and nastier than Bob Dole ever dreamed of being. Add to that constant background, the media's blind allegiance to the general narrative line it has embraced--in this case that the surge and splurge in Iraq has been a glorious success. Juan Cole thoroughly dismantles that argument in his blog, but few journalists bother with specialists when they can talk to each other. In this case they use John McCain't as their authority and so regularly pound the Obama with a lie for refusing to accept that lie. But that's another blog.

Even my skeptical friends think the Obama can win if he mobilizes a huge vote. I don't think the Obama is anything more than a moderate in terms of policy, but he has charisma to spare, and that might carry him through. I'd rather see him be as bold in terms of policy as he was in undertaking this run for the presidency.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Whose Religion

The news pages and air waves are full once again of verbal hand-wringing and head wagging over Jeremiah Wright, the preacher the Obama chose to repudiate after some of his sermons were uncovered by the Hills's campaign hit team—her "swift boaters," as it were. The chief complaint seems to be that Wright argued that America might have brought the attacks of September 11, 2001 on itself, through its hubris, its mistreatment of other people, and its moral decadence. Much of that sounds like the Reverends Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and other evangelical prophets of self-righteousness.

The brief against Wright seems, as well, to include his embrace of 'black liberation theology,' based on the much admired and heartily despised—depends on which side you're on--"liberation theology.” Developed in Latin America in the 1960s and '70s by Father Juan Luis Segundo and others, “liberation theology” says the Church should turn its attention to improving the lives of everyone, especially the poor and downtrodden. The gospel should help liberate people from injustice, suffering and bondage here and now. It should not be the servant of the power structure. The late Pope John Paul II and then Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, threw the weight of the papacy behind smashing it.

In the U.S., the Reverend James H. Cone of the AME church and Union Theological Seminary developed a “black theology of liberation” to bring the movement for equal rights for all Americans into the global flow. What the hell is wrong with that? Oh, Wright has also said in a play on "God Bless America," "God damn America." All I can do is point to the scriptures and say let those who have never done the same cast the first stone, and let them swear that were they downtrodden in America, they would never say the same. That's granting for the sake of argument only that saying, "god damn America" is a "crime"--I don't believe it myself. I know I frequently say worse when I view the horror show of Iraq or the repressive oligarchies we back or the torture of prisoners or the singling out for prosecution for one half-assed crime or another young men whose only real crime is having a different skin color--phenotype, as it were.

Today, the fuss focuses on more inane comments Wright has made on his ego-trip tour of national media outlets eager to give him a stage. The media than sling his one-liners at the Obama or wield them like clubs to bash him. 'Repudiate this man,' they demand. Here's a link to the New York Times transcript of the latest Obama dash through the media gauntlet. I wonder why each candidate is not required to repudiate torture and pledge to send the Bushies to The Hague to face war crimes charges. The current frenzy is beyond guilt by association.

What's driving the frenzy in the mainstream media is that these are black preachers and a black man making a serious run at the presidency. I say that because, truth be told, no one has made half the fuss about the white candidates who solicit and lap up the endorsements of white evangelical preachers, nor has anyone—to my knowledge—dug through every utterance of every preacher whose church those candidates have attended. I haven't seen a big deal made of the reactionary Congressional prayer group, commonly known as the Family. that the Hills religiously attends. The Family provides a religious, American cover for the very groups that stand in staunch opposition to "liberation theology"--that is, oligarchs from the worlds of business and politics. For that matter I have seen no major questions raised about the influence the Catholic cult of self-mortifiers, Opus Dei, has on Antonin Scalia.

The reason is that most people understand that parishioners don't agree with every word out of their pastors' mouths, even if the pastor is the priest. A fundamental principle of protestantism, of course, is that a person talks directly to god, without the intercession of the priest. Except in cults and in hierarchical religious bodies presided over by inquisitors, lockstep thinking is frowned upon. (To be fair, the German pope, the former grand inquisitor, could rigorously enforce church discipline only by losing millions of "pick-and-choose followers.")

The Obama's "critics" seem to forget that large numbers of American believers choose a church or shul or mosque or temple for a host of reasons—familial, social, convenience, politics, necessity, as in, it's the only show in town or because they are banned from the church of choice by virtue of their skin color or sexual predilections. Catholic politicians, like John F. Kennedy and Mario Cuomo, to mention only two Americans, have taken positions opposite that of the Catholic Church and proven time and again that a politician is not beholden to a theology, unless he chooses to be.

It's long past time for the media to bury this dead dog, and make no mistake, it is long dead--arguably still born--and make no mistake, the media is keeping it on expensive life support, with more than a little prompting from the Clintons and their paid mudslingers. Were the hand-wringing head waggers to look honestly at what they were nattering about, they would probably not only learn a few things but also decide that there are a lot more important stories to pursue--having to do with war, hunger, health, and justice.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Obama + Marx, Karl

Pity the Obama--the man correctly points out that working class Americans have seen the life they were taught was the best on earth eroded, degraded, trashed, devalued, moved first South then offshore to Asia to the point where they have almost nothing left and so, in order to prove that they still rule the world, they flex their considerable political clout for gun wingnuts or 9/11 paranoics or representatives of the one true faith, hoping to ride the World Trade Centers through at least one more election cycle, rather than face the real truth that they are being fucked by the same corporate capitalism that has fucked them throughout their lives.

Meanwhile the servants of that coporate capitalism, this time made manifest in Hillary Clinton, John McCain and people who still trudge through the Drudge Report [couldn't resist], have pulled a clever reverses on the usual condemnation as a class warrior anyone who dares to challenge them.This time Clinton and McCain accused the Obama of being insensitive to the working class because he said that many of them have turned bitter over economic losses and so have clung to what they have left--guns [for revolution: my gloss] or to religion or to fear of immigrants, people not like us. They are afraid some alien will come and take the little they have left.

That sounds right, but apparerntly referencing the reinforcer, if not the cause, of nararow-mindedness, bigotry, and fear is not acceptable to certain keepers of the American myth. They couldn't claim the Obama was using class warfare, for fear of waking people up--the rise off the 'race card' early in the last century was related to the white power structures need to keep blacks and poor and working class whites from joining forces politically to make real changes. Better to discredit the Harvard educated Obama, as "elitest." Suddenly John McCain and HIllary Clinton are allowed to be the voices of the working class--only in America do the captains of industry and their lackeys succeed in pulling off this transference so easily.

The McCain-Clinton blather is enough to make a cockroach vomit. It is like the flap over the Obama's pastor's comments--a made up controversy. The reductio ad absurdum of the Clinton-McCain theory--that the Obama somehow endorsed or embraced all the mutterings of his pastor because he continued attending the church--transferred to Hillary Clinton would posit that she somehow endorsed or condoned her husband's philandering because she remained married to him; applied to John McCain the same line of reasoning would portray him as a masochist of overwhelming ambition, hypocrisy and shamelessness. But wait: Those are true statements. Don't they make the first true?

So accept that the Obama is "elitest" and that whether that is good or bad depends on the nature of the elite to which he belongs. Is it an educated "elite" that values basic principles of democracy, justice, fairness, peace over war, equality, and reason? Or is it the self-serving elie of the Bush-McCain_Clinton crew? I think the Obama is the best sort of 'elitist,' who has landed in the soup because he has begun more forcefully to speak truth, and he needs to continue doing so. But instead on Saturday he apologized for speaking in a way that might have discomfitted people. Apologizing when you are not wrong in order to avoid hurting someone's tender feelings is a proper thing to do, but having done it, the Obama needs to move on, recognizing that the people who are going to be offended by his comments on any issue aren't going to vote for him anyway. He seems to be trying to do so.The Obama put the whole matter in perspective in this Terra Haute, Indiana, appearance, picked up in Tallking Points Memo.

That was, I thought, the end of a short blog--silly me. The press, along with McCain-Clinton, and other officials, who can't be bothered to address the important issuues we face--the stinking bloody fiasco in Iraq where the military is now serving as a mercenary force (paid by us) for the Maliki government; a ruined economy; a dysfunctional health care system; and the need to remove war ciminals from the highest levels of government and ship them to the Hague for trial--have seized on the Obama's comments and the charge of elitism in an effort to beat his campaign senseless. If they succeed, and they might, this country will get what it deserves. But it could be that enough people recognize the essential truth of the Obama's comments--could be, maybe--for the twisters of truth to fail.