Archive for January, 2006

Virginia in 2008

Wednesday, January 25th, 2006

The most obscure presidential candidate you’ll ever see me (and probably anyone else) mention, and I toss up that qualifier because I recently mentioned him on this blog and I’m about to do so again — DeWitt Clinton — had a three-prong strategy to win the White House. First: tell electors who want to hear that he opposes the War of 1812 and will end it when in office that he opposes the War of 1812 and will end it when in office. Second, tell electors who want to hear that he supports the War of 1812 that he will do a better job of carrying it out than James Madison. And thirdly, most importantly for my purposes here: stoke up anti-Virginia feeling, and the creeping sensation that Virginia is controlling the nation.

George Washington — #1, Thomas Jefferson — #3, and James Madison — #4 all heralded from Virginia at the time DeWitt Clinton made his bid for the White House. James Monroe came in next, making Virginia citizenship the Skull and Bones of the day. (Okay. It all had to do with the population pull the state had on the nation’s slate of electors. The post – Civil War era brought a bunch of Ohioans into office — a sure sign that the democratic process had altered to an entirely different set of criteria. Today we elect one affected souther drawal after another.) Carrying on with Virginia — the state has flatlined: William Henry Harrison — #9, John Tyler — #10, Zachary Taylor — #12, and then finally Woodrow Wilson snuck in ages later as an aberation at number 28.

Today, we have a specter looming of a possible presidential campaign between George Allen and Mark Warner. George Allen having recently won an Insider’s Game over key advisors. Reminds the Republican Bush-lovers of Bush — “Compassionate Conservatism” redux. (Shrug.) Senator of Virginia.

Mark Warner. Former Governor of Virginia. Turned the state purple, polls show him beating George Allen in any hypothetical race in Virginia. Is credited with having a Democrat take his spot in the Gubernatorial seat. Moderate — and we all love moderates, don’t we?

There was this weird article in the midst of the 2000 recount fiasco which had a Literature Professor claim that he would find a book on America that ended with the 2000 election as conclusion to the democracy a book too trite. The literary cues are too obvious… we start with a “W” and end with a “W”. We start with an uncontested election, we end with of a bitterly split election.

Mark Warner versus George Allen brings to mind that we start with Virginia and the Free Masons (Free Mason mania coming in due time) and we end with Skull and Bones (one election back) and Virginia. The symmetry of starting and ending a Democracy is there once again.

Virginia in 2008. Watch for it by name.

The Old Right and the New Left and the Establishment Center

Wednesday, January 25th, 2006

“When the histories are written, I’ll bet that the Old Right and the New Left are put down as having a lot in common and that the people in the middle will be the enemy.” == Karl Hess.

I saw this quotation in the American Conservative article on George McGovern. The next paragraph shows McGovern saying:

“[M]ost Americans see the establishment center as an empty, decaying void that commands neither their confidence nor their love. It is the establishment center that has led us into the stupidest and cruelest war in all history. That war is a moral and political disaster—a terrible cancer eating away the soul of the nation. … It was not the American worker who designed the Vietnam war or our military machine. It was the establishment wise men, the academicians of the center. As Walter Lippmann once observed, ‘There is nothing worse than a belligerent professor.’”

I’ve gone on record on many matters. I’ve never known what the “Center” is supposed to be, and tend to view it as whatever the elitists who control the flow of political debate have decided it to be — thus I favour “moderation” over “Centrism”, and thus the DLC is a shaky and useless organization for moving the nation anywhere. I’ve also smirkily, and mostly jokingly, said that there will be a new framework of American politics where the left-wing paranoids and right-wing paranoids and paranoids in general will join to become the electoral block that does away with the current paranoia-inducing government complex.

But seriously. New Left and Old Right? While both see the political apparatus as something like this, and both are impratically driven, you have to believe that much… um… stands in the way with them being drawn in as part of the same force, or part of the same twentieth century crusade.

He [McGovern] asked Wallace for his endorsement, though as he recalls with a smile, “He said, ‘Sena-tah, if I endorsed you I’d lose about half of my following and you’d lose half of yours.’”

The American Conservative article takes a faintly fond view of George Wallace, much I guess as Trent Lott takes a fond view of Strom Thurmond’s 1948 run for the presidency. And therein the roots of the isolationist Old Right (I guess once epitimized within the Republican Party by Senator Robert Taft, power within the party garnered as a whiplash against Woodrow Wilson and World War I and the League of Nations… the distrust of the League of Nations being what survives of this outlook through the Cold War, ie: Barry Goldwater would inherit Bob Taft’s following and he was a hyper-Cold Warrior– and as suggested in this McGovern article Taft would’ve been the only other presidential candidate challenging the framework of the Cold War — not Barry Goldwater — but the shred that unites Taft and Goldwater in the happy cause to some semblance of “America First”itis: Boy did Barry Goldwatar hate the United Nations) and the anti-Imperialism New Left (which I’ll trace within the Democratic Party to the second or third presidential run of William Jennings Bryan — power within the party garnered as a whiplash against Theodore Roosevelt and his “Rough Riders” persona and the Spanish-American War — and note that these sentiments transcend past the narrow confines of party) do not converge happily.

So Lyndon Johnson said goodbye to Democratic victories in the South by signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And that was that. The Old Right is on the wrong side of history. The New Left, for all its excesses, (and please note that when the Black Panthers sold Mao’s Little Red Book, it was a cynical fund-raising tool outwitting white radical-wannabes), your 60s protest culture came out of the forefront of the most noble movement in the twentieth century.

Nonetheless, the American Conservative magazine is a happily quirky magazine — prone to a celebration of George McGovern and a celebration of the Vermont Secessionist Project. And… prone to anti-gay and anti-immigrants diatribes. I note that I receive weekly an email plea to subscribe to the New Republic Magazine, this week I read this:

You may want clear opinions from The New Republic or from any magazine of political commentary. But you certainly don’t want predictable opinions or simple opinions, which, alas, is what you get from The Nation and the National Review, The Weekly Standard or The American Prospect. Why, I bet that you could write their articles in advance. No challenge, no mystery, no surprise, no puzzling through of argument. Not like The New Republic.

The problems with particularly The Nation I’ll leave alone for the moment… Actually The New Republic’s Stuffy Centrism I find suffocating, and I think I see the basic problem inherent in an ad featured in the magazine these days. “Most Read and Trusted by Congress”. And the problem is: Politics as Washington-Insider Game. See the Money-head cartoon again. Read the McGovern “Centrist” quote again. Read the opening Karl Hess quote.

And thus I conclude another entangled and largely theoretical blog post. I hope you enjoyed it.

Political cartoons

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006

I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to find something George McGovern said during the closing days of his 1972 presidential campaign. It was about a president who only makes speeches in front of military personal and avoids all confrontation. There don’t appear to be any McGovern campaign speeches online, save his acceptance speech in a few places and his announcement speech in one spot. I should probably check this out against Barry Goldwater, who he is forever linked with as the landslide loser who lost to a president who went down in disgrace, but in Goldwater’s case we have a better… panache toward electoral victory.

Not finding that, I guess I’ll content myself with some editorial cartoons from today’s newspapers.

As though torn from today’s headlines!

Yes! Those Diebold machines are uncertain items. Did you hear that quote about “I will deliver Ohio to Bush”?

Okay. I have no other purpose but to say than that we do not live in interesting times. I’ll scour the Teddy Roosevelt cartoons and see if I can see one carping on his usurption of presidential powers. Then we can pretend that Bush II is Teddy Roosevelt. Just as we can pretend that Abramoff is Tammany.

And the Railroads that owned the Republican party in the last two decades of the 19th century are… um… Halliburton maybe? I don’t know.

and a bittersweet congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

One of the tricks I used to work with the Sim City game (and its immediate sequal) was to build a pro- football stadium, a baseball stadium, maybe a hockey stadium, and a basketball court — and speed to the end of each year with treading-on-water development of the city. I’d then take stock of the record of the teams, and stick up a sign for an imagined championship of one or more of the teams — sometimes divisional, sometimes conference, and sometimes “World” (as we Americans smugly call our nation-wide titlists). Perhaps to bemuse myslf, I’d unlease a riot — riots frequently happen after a city’s franchise wins a championship, you see.

The signs sat next to the signs I had up that declared the name of the stadium — which I dubbed with such names as “Corporate Welfare Stadium”, and “Generic Corporation Field”.

I wasn’t the only one who did this, and I believe it was Job who I spied working the sports franchises of his Sim City who I asked if this a product of public financing, “Yes. The city loves their teams, so they’re going to pay for them.”

We were so niavely cynical back then.

I was thinking about the bond measure for Qwest Field that Washington State voters approved in 1997 while the Seattle Seahawks won their “Big Game” yesterday. I remember it as something that failed the first time on the ballot, which Paul Allen more or less bought a redo for a ballot measure, which failed in the actual city of Seattle (bunch of liberals there) — though I could be wrong about that one, which failed in every single Eastern Washington county excepting — for some reason — Benton County, and passed through strong support in the Seattle suburbs. I also recall thinking that that was a clever move in moving the Seattle Seahawks pre-season practice to Cheney, Washington — gain some support for the team and the ballot measure in the Spokane-area. It took a lot of strong arming on Paul Allen’s part to get the public to accept the idea of financing his team’s future — (it is a franchise, after all, which since 1984 has finished with a record of less than 6-10 one time, and above 10-6 one time — that one time being this year.) The stadium deal, from my eyes, looked quite a bit more heavily tax-subsidized than the Mariners’ stadium — the Mariners, by the way, had less trouble getting public financing (who, incidentally, were much more beloved than the Seahawks since they had a better recent record of winning). The Seahawks stadium deal seemed to me a continual case of upping the rich corporate-meisters of the economy upping the ante on what the public pays in financing their city’s sports team.

I was hoping that I could find an article like this one when I set out to do a blog entry this morning. And, well, there it is. The line that I find myself musing over is:

It is not a stretch, then, to say that about a third of the player payroll is subsidized by state taxpayers, that each player is on the public dole.

It’s a sloppy statistic, “one third”, but I wanted to stick an estimated number to the statistic of what part of the team’s payroll Washington state taxpayers “bought”.

I repeatedly reference the attempt on the part of the New England Patriots to move to Hartford, Connecticut for a sweet stadium deal because, for whatever reason, I was keeping my reading-glasses and eyes and ear to that story. It would have been the most egregious example of public-stadium financing, and it’s difficult to think of any way of laughing at Hartford, Connecticut for its attempt to be “Major League”. (Hartford, Connecticut had just lost its NHL franchise, the Hartford Whalers.) In the end, the deal fell through. The Patriots stayed put in Foxboro.

I remember one quote from someone during this story. An about-face to the idea that the newly developed super-stadiums are going to bring a huge influx of revenue into their cities. “In the end it’s about civic pride. If you support these matters because you think the sports team is going to significantly improve your city’s economy, you’re supporting it for the wrong reason.”

Good enough. As the article of the “13th Man” suggests, Paul Allen is pocketing a lot of money on the Seattle Seahawks, and he brushed aside any risk in his ownership of the Seahawks with the stadium bonds. Congratulations to the Titans of Finance, and enjoy your superbowl — state of Washington.

Osama Bin Laden. Back. Kind of.

Saturday, January 21st, 2006

I start with this caveat, which is only mildly tin-foil hat (a decent fashion statement, that):

A Duke professor says he is doubtful about Thursday’s audiotape from Osama bin Laden.

Bruce Lawrence has just published Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama Bin Laden a book translating bin Laden’s writing. He is skeptical of Thursday’s message.

“It was like a voice from the grave,” Lawrence said.

He thinks bin Laden is dead and has doubts about the tape. Lawrence recently analyzed more than 20 complete speeches and interviews of the al Qaida leader for his book. He says the new message is missing several key elements.

“There’s nothing in this from the Koran. He’s, by his own standards, a faithful Muslim,” Lawrence said. “He quotes scripture in defense of his actions. There’s no quotation from the Koran in the excerpts we got, no reference to specific events, no reference to past atrocities.”

While the CIA confirms the voice on the tape is bin Laden’s, Lawrence questions when it was recorded. He says the timing of its release could be to divert attention from last week’s U.S. air strike in Pakistan. The strike targeted bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, and killed four leading al Qaeda figures along with civilians.

Lawrence believes faulty Pakistani intelligence led to the strike and the civilian deaths, and the tape was leaked by Pakistani authorities to divert attention from their mistake.

“It led to a failed military operation where America got blamed, but they people who are really to blame are the ones who provided the intelligence,” Lawrence said. “I think this is an effort to say were not going look at this terrible incident that happened.”

Another element that Lawrence takes issue with in bin Laden’s latest message is its length – – only 10 minutes. Previously, the shortest was 18 minutes.

And after I toss up that as a caveat, I ponder the meaning of:

HANNITY: It’s more than that. I think it’s also the leaders in the Democratic Party that, from the very beginning, have undermined this war. If I were to give you a quiz, Mr. Speaker, and if I would say to you, “You know, was it [Sen.] Ted Kennedy [D-MA], [House Democratic Leader] Nancy Pelosi [D-CA], [Rep.] John Murtha [D-PA] who said, ‘George Bush gives continuous, deliberate misinformation. Polls reveal that we want to withdraw from Iraq.’ ” You would have guessed either of — any of those. Well, it was bin Laden who said that.

Hm. George Bush gives continuous, deliberate misinformation. Polls reveal that we want to withdraw from Iraq. Those are the controversial things that Osama Bin Laden said that Sean Hannity (shown on the sidebar with robotic arms in a futuristic visage, for what it’s worth) would have as unacceptable conversation talk? Can we no longer cite polling information if it hampers the president, cloaked in the robe of “Commander in Chief” though he may be?

The “more than that” Hannity refers to is the guest, um… Former House Ethics King (?) Newt Gingrich, regarding Michael Moore. This is a line of thought that has permeated the entire post-Osama tape discussion on the Idiot Box, from right-wing to numb-minding conventional wisdom (I’m looking in Chris Matthew’s direction.)

The basic problem is a reversal on a question that Trent Lott once asked when some Democrats somewhere or other poked about with questions on why we’re going to Iraq: “Who’s the enemy here: George W Bush or Saddam Hussein?”

Who’s the enemy here: Osama Bin Laden or Michael Moore? Would you rather fight a, quote-in-quote “War on Terrorism” (permeate it anyway you want, but assume that it’s successful conclusion would mean the popular-support and financial and bankruptcy of terrorist groups seeking the destruction of America and a Holy “Islamo-Fascist” middle East), or a cultural war against groups of Americans with a different political vision for America than you?

Bush, March 13, 2002: So I don’t know where he is. You know, I just don’t spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you.

A bit after the disappointment in Tora Bora…

If I want to snidely work my way to the Democrats, it’d be that they too are considering Cultural War matters in deference to Military Matters. John Murtha, I would think, would be the most amiable choice in giving the Democratic Response to Bush’s “State of the Union” speech (which will have some echoes of “either with me or with Osama” layered into it), they select newly elected Virginia Governor Tim Kaine — a political decision seemingly based on Kaine’s liberal use of Jesus and faith references.

Lewis and Clark

Friday, January 20th, 2006

There’s this advertisement, a public service announcement thingy that radio stations pop in to fill both a quota and unbought advertisement time, for the Lewis and Clark BiCentennial Celebration that has, for the past year, irked me a bit. More to the point, I am stuck pondering two simple words and what they encompass.

It’s a Native American, in the background we hear some generic pow-wowing, who speaks of how “Lewis and Clark travelled a journey of discovery only to discover dozens of Native American tribes who…


… are still with us today. Travel the Lewis and Clark Trail. (and the clencher) Their journey winds through us all.”

Despite, quote-in-quote, “Everything”? That would be the Genocide (best personified by the man on the twenty-dollar bill, who’s credited with raising small d democracy for the masses), the early form of chemical warfare that I can with dark humour laugh at as “blowing blankets”, the movement and removement of the tribes into less and less desirable parches of land, the Trail of Tears, the wanton destruction of the Buffalo and the encroachment of the Trains, naming a sports team after a racial slur, introduction of alcoholism, and — a sometimes unspoken bit of ugliness from the latest Congressional scandal– fleecing money out of various Indian tribes by playing one tribe’s Indian Gaming Casino against another tribe’s to pocket money to Jack Abramoff.

That’s a lot of “everything”. I guess there’s no other way of phrasing it, as they have to acknowledge that stuff happened in as positive a manner as possible. It’s a bit of a token ad in the series, and I imagine the thing being written and re-written and reviewed by a long series of consultants for “political correctness”.

Later in the series of “Lewis and Clark Bi-Centenial ads” we have a set of ads of how Lewis and Clark would “view their trail today”, somewhat carefully couched as a “shame that we have highways and that the Buffalo and beavers have been knocked out”, with a requisite “As you think about what we’ve gained and what we’ve lost, think about how to save what is left”. As if to make up for an “oh. wait” moment, an ad or two chimes in by inserting the “American Indians” back into the picture… a bit awkwardly… cojoined with Lewis and Clark in their concerns of the toll the development of the West has had on the Environment. But I do mention this: Lewis and Clark both speak, saying “Something must be done to save this great forest”. The Native American… does not speak in the ad. Partly because Lewis and Clark’s 21st century visage are lifted from other ads that do not feature the Native Americans, and partly because… well… I imagine it’s a bit of an insult to insert a living Native American next to two dead European Americans.