Archive for November, 2006

Thanksgiving Day Traditions

Friday, November 24th, 2006

I hear the phrase “Genocide Cover Up Day” on KBOO.  Not the first time I’ve heard the phrase and I don’t know how original it is, though it’s interesting that if you type it into google the first items you will see go to KBOO.

In a similar though opposite vein, I see that has, as is their annual want, an essay on how a form of socialism destroyed an early Pilgrim society.  I have to groan, as I have to every year.  Though this one is a little less meaningful than the other annual concept, and a bit more tedious.  I probably should have taken more effort to wash ashore somewhere or other and have a Thanksgiving Dinner with family —

— “Genocide Awareness Day” if you must.  There is an attitude you must take here, which is not to be terribly proud of a country or culture that you have no real control in being a part of.  I recall during the Clinton impeachment watching the mcnews broadcast that is Channel 1 with students at Bill Clinton’s old high school, the one with a sign saying that this Bill Clinton’s old high school, expressing chagrin at being associated with Clinton.  Apparently there is no oral sex happening at the school, and suggestions that such a thing may be happening there are false.  The point being that if you are ashamed of a relation to the president, you cannot have a sign up stating the relation to the president.

I suppose I ate some pumpkin pie off of the corpses of the small pox-ed infused earliest Americans.  If I hadn’t, I would have just had to content myself in waiting as the new faux-culture battle that is the “War on Christmas” begins, under the marshal Control of General Bill O’Reilly, Culture Warrior.  Wal-Mart employees now say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays”.  And thus my revision to this goes:

Macy’s Department Store Wal-Mart Clerk: Thank you. Come again. Happy Holidays. Merry Christmas.
Customer, Crusader for Christmas Secularism: Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays.
Clerk: Sure. (looks to next customer)
Customer: No. Christmas. Merry Christmas. Holidays.  Happy Holidays.
Clerk: Yes?
Customer: Merry Happy Fucking Christmas Holidays, asshole. (storms off in disbelief.)

Or something like that.

Well, Have a good War On Christmas, everyone, and I’ll see you on the other side.

skull / bones 2008 I

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

My favourite presidential prospective candidate, and the only one I could really firmly stand behind unequivocately, is not running.  Senator Russ Feingold’s stated reason for opting out of a presidential run amounts to “It’s good to be in the Majority”.  I never would have expected Feingold to get terribly close to the White House, but I suppose it would have been good to actually have a candidate out there I would have liked voting for.

The prospecive presidential candidate who I actually thought was going to win the Democratic nomination, and more than likely the presidency, also declined to run.  When trying to figure out Mark Warner’s motives, I can’t help but think his stated reasons are his reasons: a presidential run is a draining experience he didn’t want to do.  At any rate, the Democratic Party is now free to push him and push him and push him to run for the Senate in 2008, and if he declines that he’ll return to run to reclaim Virginia’s governorship in 2009… I… guess.

We’re at a point in the silly season where all the presidential prospective lists include candidates that all indications are are not running — Al Gore — or probably aren’t running — Barack Obama (running for the vice president?).  And we have Chris Dodd and Joe Biden — but that’s a redundancy.

I have this uneasy feeling hurtling toward 2008 that Grover Norquist may indeed be, regretfully, correct, in his assessment:

The Democratic race is already scripted.  New York Senator Hillary Clinton will be followed around the nation by six or seven emasculated senators.  They’ll pretend to run for president while actually auditioning for vice president.

That does leave John Edwards in a curious spot.  I don’t think he can run for the vice presidency again, so getting the presidential spot is his best shot.  I thought he was something of an empty suit in 2004, and I don’t quite know if he’s managed to fill it a bit in the past couple of years.  Until I can get a fuller handle on Bill Richardson (Greg Palast calls Ricahardson not so much a Hispanic American as a Kissinger American — but that’s Greg Palast), he’s the best of a meager bunch.  And he has that advantage over everyone else as not being Hillary Clinton’s obvious running mate since he already served that role.  (You can’t just perpetually be a vice presidential candidate, can you?)

Oh wait.  I forgot Mike Gravel.  Or I guess I did.

I am the Director of Communications for the Gravel for President campaign. I can only tell you not to underestimate the US Senator who singlehandedly ended the draft with a lone five month filibuster, risked his career and going to jail for reading the Pentagon Papers into the Senate record and arranging for their publication. With the Internet and all of its tools, Senator Gravel will become a major contender. Stay tuned.

Or so says Elliott Jacobson.

Any omission of John Kerry’s name is entirely intentional. IMHO, One of the more forgettable >Public Servants< of this generation.  (My response: Any more or any less forgetable than the Republican Presidential candidate for … say… 1916?  (No.  Wait.  Charles Hughes was the last bearded major party presidential candidate.  I think.)

Why don’t those machines function correctly?

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

There’s seems to be about a 1 in 4 chance that the Max train’s ticket machine will be broken in one way or another such that I am unable to purchase a ticket.  When I look at the screen and see the words “Dollar Bills Not Accepted” flashing, all I can do is shrug, and just jump on the next train.

I’ve done that before, and will likely do that again.  But yesterday was the first time I’ve ever jumped aboard the Max after being unable to buy a ticket where the Fare Inspectors were on board (they’ve switched their predictable schedules away from “Fridays and alternate Mondays and Wednesdays).  I caught my eye to them immediately upon boarding and told them “The Machine’s broken.  It won’t accept dollar bills.”

Such was the scene that they went down the aisle, looked at everyone’s fare, and came to me and decided to lead me off the train and have me purchase the ticket at the next stop.  That’s fine by me, of course, but what annoyed me was this statement.

“We don’t normally let people do that, but…”

Which begs the question for me, “What?  Do you generally just give people the whatever amount the fine is as punishment for the city’s machines not functioning correctly?”  Or “Am I supposed to thank you for such a thing?”

It’s all part of the lousy fates of the Universe, I suppose.

Jim Webb

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

There’s plenty of cognitive dissonance to go around toward everyone with the new Senator from Virginia, Jim Webb. 

Steeped in military culture, he spit upon John Kerry and goes forth with a macho swagger.

He was the prototypical Angry Vietnam Vet, convinced that the hippies and the campus radicals had stabbed him and his band of brothers in the back while they were fighting in jungle, then spit on them when they returned home.

He was, in other words, a died-in-the-wool reactionary — the thinking man’s Ollie North. Webb once famously refused to shake John Kerry’s hand because of Kerry’s role in publicizing alleged U.S. war crimes in Vietnam. Some of his fellow anti-memorial activists later went on to run the Swift boat campaign against Kerry in the 2004 election.

If you’d told me twenty years ago that John Kerry would eventually run for president, I would have expected Webb to be in there Swiftboating with the best of them.

The same military culture that had him railing against Kerry has him as a foe against Bush.  Understand, I don’t fully understand where the demarcations of a fruitless war in Iraq and a fruitless war in Vietnam are, but I guess Webb does. 

Webb makes the same case in arguing against the Iraq war. George W. Bush “has no feel for military culture,” Webb says. Instead the president is surrounded by “theorists who have never been on a battlefield, who have never put a uniform on, and who are looking at this thing in a totally different way from people who have had to worry about their troops.” Webb seldom misses a chance to point out the military record, or lack of it, of Dick Cheney. If Cheney and the theorists had some military experience, he says, they would never have tried “putting a Judeo-Christian military system in the cradle of Muslim culture.” This is Webb’s second ingenious bit of jujitsu: By his logic, the war in Iraq isn’t an assertion of American power, but another disastrous symptom of a country gone soft, the feckless gesture of a superpower brought low by wusses.

Understand, if this is a political jujitsu, it is a jujitsu that is endemic to basically all of Bush’s political enemies.  You can look at war protest signs and see the references to the bulk of neoconservatives’ lack of military experience while marching us off to war.  “Chicken-hawk” … wussy who struts.

Webb’s trick is to adapt this history of white folk to the categories of contemporary multiculturalism. He turns liberalism’s assumptions of ethnic grievance and victimization to the service of people who, in more conventional accounts, have themselves been seen as the victimizers. Webb rails against “the wielders of cultural power such as Hollywood, academia, and major media [who] chip away at the core principles that have defined the traditions and history of [Scots-Irish] people.” And now his people are fighting back. “In a society obsessed with multicultural jealousies, those who cannot articulate their ethnic origins are doomed to a form of social and political isolation. My culture needs to rediscover itself, and in doing so to regain its power to shape the direction of America.” Using diversity dogma to put the white man back on top–it is a marvelous inversion.

It also underlies the economic populism that allows Webb to slide edgewise into the mainstream of today’s Democratic party.  He says he was moved to run for the Senate when he saw “the breakdown in our society along economic lines.” He has come to rescue his people–the poor whites who (along with poor blacks) have been the chief victims of globalized turbocapitalism. In every speech he cites the same statistics: “Ten percent of Fortune 500 companies pay zero corporate income taxes,” he says. “When I was 24, the average CEO earned 20 times what the average wage-earner did. Today my son is 24, and the average CEO earns 200 times what the average wage-earner does.” He is vaguer on the subject of how to fix this unhappy state of affairs. He supports a higher minimum wage and an end to “corporate tax breaks which cost American jobs.” At the same time, though, he says he supports a cut in the capital gains tax, in case a redneck wants to sell his stocks.

An interesting, and not entirely new dynamic.  I think we can trace the root of the problem to Andrew Jackson, who consolidated the very same poor “Scotch-Irish” behind him in the battle to knock out the Indians and keep slavery.  But understand, when in previous ages “The People” had the silent, in parantheses “(white)” before it, our Weekly Standard writer feels compelled to have the same parantheses for “(along with poor blacks)”.  Thus flails the ethnic divisions impeding the Class War that Jim Webb apparently wants to fight.

As for “allows Webb to slide edgewise into the mainstream of the Democratic Party”, I have noted that the elected 2006 officials just moved the Democratic Party to the left on economic issues.  Perhaps this is more true now than it was as of the writing of this essay.

Steeped in military culture, he spit upon John Kerry and goes forth with a macho swagger.  Steeped in a sort of redneck culture, he comes forth with a Wall Street Journal editorial that places him somewhere to the left of the Democratic Party at large, as the Wall Street Journal editorial suggests.

Charlie Rangel’s Draft

Monday, November 20th, 2006

Charlie Rangel is both over-thinking himself into a corner and is onto something but isn’t quite at a correct point of demarcation just yet.  There are two paths to his argument about the draft — one that the draft will impede congressional war authorization, two — that it will do good for the Youth.

Understand the flaw of the draft as forced moral conscience through self-interest.  Ignore and look past the simple fact that Congress has not declared war since World War Two and has been content to just let the President do what he (she?) may, and in any debate over war we are drum-beated into acceptance that Congress has let itself become irrelevant in initial matters of war.  What good will a draft do?  Charlie Rangel seems to be fulfilling the needs of the John McCains of the world.  McCain, you see, has suggested that we need to send a whole lot more troops to properly fight, and win, the War in Iraq.  When asked the simple question, “Where are these troops going to come from?”, McCain answers with a meaningless panoply of patriotic homilies that tend toward a patronizing “These kids need to understand what’s good for them — and that is to fight this war because Freedom ins’t Free, and they are soft.”

The obvious answer on where to get new troops to deploy into Iraq, to tend to our large permanent bases, is through Charlie Rangel’s draft.  Solution found, the War Machine is fed properly.

The “onto something” is quite simply that there is no reason our education system has to remain the K – 12 and straight into college, if properly groomed, system it is right now.  I don’t quite know what relatively radical and relatively sedate changes I would make to our compulsorary education system, but I understand where the desire to require two years of compulsorary military — or other public service — comes from.  I note that during the Vietnam War, war opponents often suggested that the draft allow Peace Corps service as an alternative.  I imagine that (and other service – oriented agencies — Americorps?) as conscientous good-natured “we can’t force the kids into the military” objections abound.  But I imagine the military service would end up being the default setting for any such arrangement, and eventually America would fall into a quota system for such things, the upshoot being that once again the “Fortunate Sons” have a leg up on avoiding military service, and Charlie Rangel’s thesis falls ashunder.

It’s just a thought burst I have. 

The Fight for the Control of the “Connecticut for Lieberman Party”

Monday, November 20th, 2006

The political party formed by U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman after he lost the Democratic primary in August has a new chairman – and it’s not Lieberman.

However, according to the bylaws adopted by its new chairman, Lieberman critic and Fairfield University professor John Orman, the senator is an eligible party candidate.

According to bylaws established by Orman, anyone whose last name is Lieberman may seek the party’s nomination – or any critic of the senator.

Orman seized control of the Connecticut for Lieberman Party this week after registering as its sole member and electing himself as chairman.

With Connecticut for Lieberman having achieved its victory earlier this month, Orman made his move. He contacted the secretary of the state, learned the new minor party had no registered members, then visited the registrar in Trumbull, where he lives, to switch from a Democrat to a Connecticut for Lieberman-ite.

“Then I went home and called a meeting of all registered Connecticut for Lieberman members to reflect on our party’s victory in the U.S. Senate race (and) organize and submit rules to the secretary of the state,” Orman said.

He nominated himself chairman, seconded the nomination, cast his vote for himself and proceeded to establish party rules.

Orman said the “party” is upset that Lieberman has abandoned it and says he is an “Independent Democrat.”

“I want to organize it as a group that will keep (Lieberman) accountable,” Orman said. “It will be dedicated to critics, opponents, bloggers. . . . I’m just trying to carry it to the next step.”

Kozik was not prepared yesterday to officially rule on the legitimacy of Orman’s actions. But he said the professor “might be jumping the gun” because the election results will not be officially certified until later this month.

Kozik also said he was uncertain what, if any, role the 29 individuals who helped form the party play.

“I’m not sure I can give you a quick answer on exactly who has the authority to promulgate the initial party rules,” Kozik said. “I haven’t had the chance to research it. . . . Ultimately, the rightness or wrongness of what Orman did or will do may end up in the courts.”

My understanding of what happened the last time a political party was formed in Connecticut for the purpose of electing an Independent, Lowell Weicker in 1990, “A Connecticut Party” (name designed for maximum ballot spot purposes, the equivalent of naming a company “AAA Aardvark Associates” for purposes of placement in the phone book) was that it ran a legitimate candidate in 1994, and then… drifted into obscurity with nutcases taking advantage of the party’s existence. That is how all third parties die, or are corrupted into the weeds of the political process.
The wikipedia entry on “A Connecticut Party” needs fleshing into who else ran on the party label.