Archive for February, 2006


Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

I often buy one of those Fred Meyer-brand Hostess-knockoff pies. They now are 3 for $1, or 34 cents for one. Sometimes a frozen burrito is 3 for a dollar. 34 cents for one. And a candy bar, depending on which brand is having a sale, can be 3 for a dollar — 34 cents for one. It’s a bit tricky to get a sole pound of an orange or apples when they are on sale for 33 cents a pound, but I guess I just have to round it for a dollar’s worth of oranges or apples.

The number 34 is thus a magic number for me, though it results in some vaguely ingratiating troubles. See: if I am buying one of those pies (lemon or chocolate or apple), along with a candy bar (Butterfinger, maybe?) and a frozen burrito — the cost is $1.02. I have to either find a penny, or end up with 3 pennies along with some other change. The “3 for a dollar” is rounded up. Incidentally, if I buy 2 burritos and 1 pie, the cost is $1.01. The first item of any of them is 34 cents. The second and third are 33 cents.

A new CBS News poll released late Monday places President George W. Bush’s approval rating at an all-time low of 34% percent. Many in the media had noted a Bush “bounce” earlier in the year, but now his approval rating has plunged 8% in just one month.

The Bush bounce once made me think that Bush had found his floor, and the floor was just under 40. Need you know that I always thought 40% was more or less the floor for a presidential approval rating, certainly for a second-term president. But now that I think about it, sometimes the 40 cent yogurt is on sale for 30 cents… so floors can be dropped. If I were really desparate to get things to under a dollar I could thus buy the on-sale yogurt, a pie, and a burrito. That’d make 98 cents. And if only Bush had gotten to a 98 percent approval rating just after 9/11 instead of 91%, maybe his approval rating would only be eroded to 40% right now.

Was Bush’s approval rating rounded up from “3 for a dollar”, or a pure and honest third of Americans approving of his performance?

Vice President Cheney’s approval rating, already dismal, still managed to plunge–from 23% in January to 18% now.

I can’t think of anything I can purchase at Fred Meyers that costs less than 25 cents. So what the heck am I supposed to make of Dick Cheney’s approval rating. I think I bought a scarce bit of onion for purpose of sticking on hamburger once for 18 cents… so I guess Cheney is worth onion. I’m thinking that Cheney’s approval rating drop comes largely off the heels of shooting a man. Which, to float back to that topic, here’s the most troubling facet of the thing to me, from his interview with Brit Hume:

Well, ultimately, I am the guy who pulled the trigger, that fired the round that hit Harry. And you can talk about all of the other conditions that existed at the time, but that is the bottom line. And there is no — it’s not Harry’s fault. You can’t blame anybody else. I’m the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend. And I say that’s a day I’ll never forget….

Why did he even bring up the “other conditions that existed at the time” if not to alleviate some of his responsibility? (The most troubling part of the interview, that of him giving himself the power to declassify information, had nothing to do with the hunting of the lame quail.)

In other approval rating news, more Americans trust the Democrats on national security than they do Bush and the Republicans. This comes off the heels of Evan Bayh’s national security speech which captured the imagination of Americans like no speech since Kennedy’s Moon Speech. (Yes, I elaborated a jibe from Ed Schulz for that last sentence, but you understand the meaning.)

Strom Thurmond: Prolouge to more menacing post

Monday, February 27th, 2006

A warning: after that last post about the 1948 presidential run of Henry Wallace, my next post is going to be about the 1948 presidential run of Strom Thurmond. Heck — maybe I’ll expand this venture of looking at third party runs for president in American history. Anyone up for Eugen McCarthy in 1976?

To put Strom Thurmond’s run in context: unlike what you have heard, Thrmond’s bolt from the Democratic ticket of Truman over Civil Rights (scratch that: federal interference in state rights… riiiight!!) is not the beginning of the split into what would eventually consolidate into Nixon’s “Southern Strategy”. (Probably borne out of simply noting that Goldwater won some southern states, disgruntled as they were with Lyndon Johnson’s stand for Civil Rights.

Go back to 1928. The biggest battles of the Democratic Party platform involve the KKK, and involve Prohibition. The winner of the Democratic nomination, a Catholic named Al Smith — the son of immigrants whose most loyal constituency in New York State are immigrants — has an understandable “against stand” against the KKK (who, in their resurgance through the 1920s, split their time terrorizing blacks and terrorizing Catholics.) The most notable name against Al Smith who stopped Al Smith’s nomination in 1924 (and died in 1925), whom anyone remembers these days (what? You know who McAdoo was?) is William Jennings Bryan. And he comes out swinging for Prohibition, and for the KKK. The complicated political legacy of William Jennings Bryan in full force, and Eugene Debs looks more or less correct: “[Bryan] grew more and more conservative until finally he stood before the country as a champion of everything reactionary in our political and social life.”

There’s a rural — urban split here. And Hoover took advantage of the split, and for the first time a Republican cracked into the “Solid South”. Anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant Bigotry. Some neo-“Know Nothing” sentiment.

FDR comes to power — the majority faction of Dixiecrats in a previously minority party becomes the minority faction of a majority party — and it has been thus ever since. They lose clout within the Democratic Party pretty quickly. But the revolt is on. In 1938, as Southern Conservative Democrats are making alliances with the Republican Party, Franklin Roosevelt campaigned to purge some conservative Democrats with “New Dealers”. He was pretty sharply rebuked.

Strom Thurmond’s 1948 presidential campaign looks pretty undistiguishable in many respects to George Wallace’s 1968 campaign. It’s kind of funny. And we run over the same ground onward and onward.

Because the world is clamoring to learn about Henry Wallace!

Monday, February 27th, 2006

On the issues, he [Norman Thomas] added, the Socialists may agree with Mr. Wallace, “but we are obliged to reject any bid for leadership in democracy by the apolotist for the slave state of Russia, and the preacher of peace by blind appeasement.” (5-10-1948)

BOOL-YAH! “And those who supported Henry Wallace chose him because they and he were fellow travelers of communism and the Soviet Union. (Please don’t roll your eyes. Wallace’s Progressive Party was a pure creation of the Communist Party.)” indeed! Or so says… the Socialist Party. Who are not uncoincidentally, competing for many of the same voters as the Progressive Party. Never mind. As the Socialists of 1948 point out, one of the first acts of any nation that falls under the Communism of the Soviet Union is the destruction of the nation’s Socialist Party, or the “submerging” of the Socialist Party into Communism, the slave-state.

Now then, here’s what the New York Times saw when they looked into “Why They Join the Wallace Crusade”, 5-23-1948… where we find the Wallace meetings described as at one part a Religious Revival meeting, at one part PBS pledge / auction, and something shorned by all respectable members of the community they intrude into.

Two notes predominate in these warm-up preliminaries. There is the note of earnest, almost fearful desperation sounded by the political amateurs who have been attracted to the Wallace crusade. There is a heavy preponderance of these in evidence at all the meetings: GIs, Negro business and professional people — who, suddenly obsessed with the crisis in world affairs have turned their anxiety to collective action. There is the note of angry defiance by the more seasoned and politically sophisticated Union ment and office seekers: they condemn the existing order and seek tangible means of building a new one. The combined effect whips the audience, already receptive to such stimuli into spontaneous outbursts and “amens”. […]

A Wallace rally, at least as I have observed, brings out a heavy preponderance in the college and GI brackets. There are scores of boys with bristly crew haircuts wearing sports jackets and open collar shirts, and girls in oxford, bobby sox, and dirndls. Some of them seem to be the precocious upper crust of the jitterbug set. Others, a little older and more soberly dressed, have been through the war and now have their first job or their first baby. This is their first, tentative immersion in politics, and it’s a zestful business. The new party speaks to them through simple, action-packed symbols. It paints right and wrong in bold primary colors that leave no doubt about who are one’s friends and who are one’s enemies.

[Well, the comic book — all in four color for a dime — has been in existance for about a decade, and um… wait. This isn’t Batman, and it isn’t the Republican 2004 Convention, so what is he talking about?]

“The old parties just haven’t got the know-how to run the country in an atomic age,” one of Wallace’s followers, who probably did not antedate the New Deal by more than a few years, told me after Kansas City meeting.

A young veteran and his wife were standing nearby. They have bought a little clearning and pressing shop in an outlying business district but are still with the wife’s parents. I asked them what got them into the movement.

“Well,” the husband answered hesitantly, “it’s like he just said about the Republicans and the Democrats. I think if they keep on running things, they are going to wind up having a war with the Russians.”

“And we won’t ever be able to get a house,” his wife added.

Ba-de-dum! War with Russia and atomic destruction, followed by economic insecurities.

[…] Serious politics apparently is still a pretty esoteric business on many campuses and is confined largely to the graduate students and particularly to the older men who are in school under GI educational grants. I was told at Columbia that most of the Wallacites were “foreigners” from the North and East. The native-stock majority regards such striving rather disdainfully and takes its political cues, if any, from the predilections of its parents.

There is a joke in Jon Stewart’s America: The Book, in the graveyard of dead political parties, with the grave posting for Henry Wallace’s Progressive Party: “We swear we’re not all Jews!” Is that the “foreigner” element they’re talking about? I don’t know. I note that Einstein had a blurb for Wallace’s sort-of-campaign book of 1948, and invite you to make of that what you may. As for the campus apathy: (1) Wait a couple decades. (2) The voting age was 21. The people who concern themselves on a campus with politics are thus likely going to skew older — the GIs and the Graduate students, if you will.

Industrial communities will turn out a large and demonstrative crowd of workers for Wallace meetings, particularly if certain of the CIO unions are locally represented. In Kansas City, Mr. Wallace inserted a long peroration on police brutality in his speech which brough thunderous applause. Just the3 week before, the local police had smashed up the headquarters of the CIO Packinghouse Workers Union which had been direction a strike against Kansas City packing plants. In Peoria when he arrived, the CIO farm equipment workers had just initiated a strike against the huge caterpillar tractor company works. Two thrids of the audience of about 600 who hears Mr. Wallace that night were from the picket lines.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. The more “militant” of the Unions supported Wallace. The others ran as far away from Wallace as possible, and went for Truman. Come to think of it, they probably endorsed a few Democrats who voted for Taft-Hartley while they were at it… that anti-union bill that Truman vetoed which was then overrided. Damn ye, Taft! Damn ye, Hartley! (This Senator Hartley father of one of the more bizarre comic book cartoonists — fundamentalist Christian Archie Comics as well as a biography of Chuck Colson– but that’s another story.)

[…] One suspects that some of them are Townsendites, coming to see if this latest political messiah will redeem their pension hopes. But a great many more, apparently, are the parents of sons who already have gone through one war or who may be of draft age for the next one. They come in a mood of skepticism — they have known other promises of “peace in our time” that were broken byt are hoping against hope to be convinced. They listen intently, applaud politely, but seem to reserve judgement. Few were observed signing the pledge to work for the new party.

I left out the part looking into the black contigency, who are described as just a little bit past “token”. “Less strident” than the “demagouges” that make up the white Wallacites, and just trying to advance the civil rights program past Truman’s careful careful nudgings. That’s how the article describes them, rather politely. Speaking of polite society:

Finally, in each of the meetings, there was to be seen a scattering of professional people, ministers, college professors, business men and women — “genuine liberals from the right side of the railroad tracks” as some one described them — who were there in some instances, at least, at the pearl of their standings in the community.

Wait. A few normal individuals supported Henry Wallace? Sheez. The Communists really did infiltrate all of the United States society. Sigh. Too bad there weren’t any beatniks to speak of in 1948. For Nader, we can toss in the WTO “anarchists” of Eugene in Seattle as a prototypical dirty shady character who makes up the Naderites. In 1948, these sort of counter-cultural Wallacites seem to be strikingly… clean-shaven.


To the Conversion Center!

Monday, February 27th, 2006

I’m standing outside, waiting the Max train. A couple of Japanese tourists walk up.
“Take this for the Conversion Center?”
“Take this to the Conversion Center?”
“One more time.”
“Conversion Center.”
I then realize that they want to go to the Convention Center. Except, I can’t think of the word “Convention Center” — it’s as if I’m wracking my brain and coming out with “Convextion Center”, and wondering what the heck a Convextion Center is– so I’m forced to let “Conversion Center” pass without the minor, but seemingly significant, correction.
“Yes. Yes.”
“Good. Thanks.”
As they walk away, I realize I should clarify which train they should and should not get on. “Oh! Blue and Red, yes, not yellow.”
“Yes, I know. Blue and Red, yes. Yellow, no.”

To go to the Conversion Center, I guess you take the 12 Bus up to the Scientology Center. Or maybe get in touch with some of the LaRouchites who will take you to one of their Cadre School / Conversion Centers. Or maybe to that new sequal that’s out to “What the Bleep?”.

New Republic’s bit about Perot sparked some thoughts from me.

Sunday, February 26th, 2006

From the issue of the New Republic currently on shelves, or being taken off the shelves in favour of the latest issue (incidentally with a cover story about how we must stay in Iraq, so I may well have to give it my “Weekly Standard” treatment shortly):

As the authors, Professors Ronald B. Rapoport and Walter Stone, know very well, Perot was not a typical third-party candidate. Many people were drawn to him, but they disagreed about why they were. When so many Americans were lured to Theodore Roosevelt’s Bull Moose Party in 1912, they knew why: to tame capitalism, to preserve natural America, to extend national power in the world. In the 1920s, those who voted for Robert LaFollette knew why they had to become progressives: to oppose ruthless individualism and competition and to assert the principle and practice of cooperation. In 1948, the voters who cast their ballots for Strom Thurmond did so because they were racists, and those who supported Henry Wallace chose him because they and he were fellow travelers of communism and the Soviet Union. (Please don’t roll your eyes. Wallace’s Progressive Party was a pure creation of the Communist Party.) Buchanan is a xenophobe and a nativist, and his followers latched on to him because that is exactly what they wanted; Nader is a paranoid with an ascetic streak who, like his supporters, wants to bring down U.S. capitalism. There were no mysteries about what attracted supporters to these candidates.

I shall go into Henry Wallace, Ralph Nader, and Strom Thurmond — because I actually have thoughts on all three of them. Who the hell has thoughts on Henry Wallace, Ralph Nader, and Strom Thurmond? I guess I just answered your question. Gawd, I’m weird.

Needless to say, it is comical to look back and see the Socialist Party of America, spear-headed by Norman Thomas, red-bait Henry Wallace, and also to see supporters of Strom Thurmond go back and forth in couching their “states rights” argument here, insisting it’s not about putting the negro down, and then hitting on how we need to keep the negro down the next day. 1948: Truman defeats not only the Republicans, but the Dixiecrats and the Communist Fellow Travelers. My next post will be looking at a 1948 NY Times article on the people populating Henry Wallace’s meetings. Please don’t roll your eyes. Wallace’s Progressive Party may or may not have been a pure creation of the Communist Party, and I note that Wallace was once editor of The New Republic, but his “Communist Fellow Travelers” seem to be rather decent individuals… and that they resemble Naderites a bit, we can excuse that and point out that Gore could not manage to defeat the Republican Party and the early 21st equivalent of Wallacites while unlike Truman he didn’t even have the Dixiecrats to worry about, so Truman is much better a politician than Gore was/is!


Sunday, February 26th, 2006

Someone left a couple of comments on my blog, and I note that he is a participant and advocate of this movment:

The American Peoples Congress (APC) is an idea whose time has come. The concept is simple – Every community of 30,000 people gets a chapter. Each chapter gets a council, which serves the interests of their members. Every 30,000 also gets you one representative, just like we had at the beginning of our nation’s history. And we experience truly open and responsive democracy for the first time in our lives, using the latest in democratic tools, like instant run-off voting and paper ballots.

Response, via the latest nom de plume for “elderly male”: howie – Americans Peoples Congress(APC)
I like it. The whole paragraph in what it says and advocates.

There is no upside for an Iraqi Civil War

Saturday, February 25th, 2006

From the perspective of Fox News, I do not know what the upshot of a Civil War in Iraq would be. Granted, we have easy footage for the type of war pornography the network specialized in during “Operation Iraqi Liberation” (Or Operation OIL)*, to be manipulated with added sound-effects as they did back during OP OIL, and with a week-end perview of the “Sites and Sounds” of Iraq for the week, upbeat music in the background with a montage similar to the orgasmic climax of “Doctor Strangelove”.

But we don’t have the easy storyline. Whose side are we supposed to be rooting for? During OP OIL, we had I believe it was Sheppard Smith proclaiming, “And today the SHIITE Hit the fan!”, those Shiite — being that they’re the majority faction in the country and thus whatever democratic inch Iraq has gotten being the dominant block of the US backed government — are thus already demonized by Fox News beyond repair.

So, sorry Fox News. You have little upside in welcoming on an Iraqi Civil War. Save your good tidings for America’s next invasion, when you can clean things up to make a good patriotic storylind of the USA versus fill-in-the-blank.

*You know, on second thought, I should start calling it by the Pentagon given name — the acronym OIF is similar enough to what you shout when you’re punched in the stomache that it would work just as well.