Archive for October, 2008

Obama pens an editorial

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Yesterday, looking over the editorial section of the Sunday Oregonian, I saw it.  Barack Obama sent something over to the Oregonian, which seemed roughly equivalent to his voters’ pamphlet contribution.  Roughly remembered, it read along the lines of:

Oregonians know that it is time for change.  After eight years where Oregon has lost thousandcajillion jobs, Oregonians know that they cannot continue down the path of the Bush-McCain economic policies.

Meanwhile in the Cleveland Plains Dealer, an editorial was published that read along the lines of:

Ohioans know that it is time for change.  After eight years where Ohio has lost thousandcajillion jobs, Ohioans know that they cannot continue down the path of the Bush-McCain economic policies.

The auto-didact function is really kicking there.  OR…

Nigel Tufnel: [addressing the crowd] We were told they knew how to rock in Shelbyville.
[the crowd ‘boos’]
Derek Smalls: But nobody rocks like…
[looks on the back of his guitar where he has placed a reminder of the name of the town they’re playing in]
Derek Smalls: Springfield!

Turn, Turn, Turn

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

Remarked on frequently is the increasing unreality of Republican “Movement Conservatives” in such places as “The Corner” of The National Review.  This is a symptom of partisan crisis as the words “blood bath” are being used to describe the fate of the Republican Party come November right down the ticket– with a continued disbelief that the contry is readying to vote for a candidate they don’t approve of.

All things turn, turn, turn.  This happens at moments like this.  Here I can only take you back to Democratic rhetoric during the 1972 Presidential election, as Richard Nixon stomped to a massive victory over George McGovern.  You should have heard the insults and conspiracy theories and brooding being leveled at Richard Nixon.  He was called a crook, subverting Democracy and the Rule of Law on an unprecedented scale, and was the harbinger of a generation of darkness.  There was some real tin-foil hat type things, such as of a massive conspiracy of political espionage and sabotage, illegal break-ins, improper tax audits, illegal wiretapping on a massive scale, and a secret slush fund laundered in Mexico to pay those who conducted these operations – various figures of highly shady character.  There were even some threatening chants being shouted — “Four More Weeks!” — by McGovern partisans at rallies, suggesting that Nixon wouldn’t survive a second term.

So, these things come around.  Just wait a few election cycles and the silliness will collect on the Donkey side.

What would Hitler Think?

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

A Republican county clerk distributed to two employees an Internet blog posting referring to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama as a “young, black Adolf Hitler.”

Johnson County Clerk Jill Jackson said Friday that she had apologized to the employees. One had complained to police.

The employees, who had voted for Obama in the Democratic primary, discovered the printouts at their desks after returning from Labor Day weekend, sheriff’s Deputy Doug Cox said in a police report made public this week. A surveillance video showed Jackson placing an item on one worker’s desk, he said.

It is a measure of how far we have progressed as a nation that we now get black politicians compared to Adolf Hitler.  There is some evidence that Adolf Hitler would not approve of this development, but I believe we should not let allow Adolf Hitler to affect our rhetorical hyperbole — that would be, in a small way, granting Adolf Hitler a victory.

But Adolf Hitler is a paleo-nazi.  And just as we have paleo-conservatives and neo-conservatives and we have paleo-liberals and neo-liberals, we also have paleo-nazis — who, except perhaps for a few lingering in obscurity in Argentina — are all dead–  and neo-nazis — who for my purposes here I’ll go ahead and stitch up in a generic “White Supremist” / “White Nationalist” broad-swarthed category.  The paleo-nazis are silent on who they’d like to see win this presidential election.  The “neo-nazis” have high hopes for an Obama presidency, and are thus gravitating in his direction.:

With the nomination of Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential candidate clinched, large sections of the white supremacist movement are adopting a surprising attitude: Electing America’s first black president would be a very good thing.

It’s not that the assortment of neo-Nazis, Klansmen, anti-Semites and others who make up this country’s radical right have suddenly discovered that a man should be judged based on the content of his character, not his skin. On the contrary. A growing number of white supremacists, and even some of those who pass for intellectual leaders of their movement, think that a black man in the Oval Office would shock white America, possibly drive millions to their cause, and perhaps even set off a race war that, they hope, would ultimately end in Aryan victory.

Rumors that David Duke is for Obama (ala a New Republic piece from earlier this year), with this race-riot thought in mind, have been greatly exaggerated.  But Rocky Suhayda, Chairman fo the American Nazi Party is for Obama.  Erich Gliebe of the National Alliance is for Obama.  Ron Edwards, the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, is for Obama.    You’ll have to ask Tom Metzger and Bill White yourself.

But I already knew this.

Jeff Merkley and sloppy eating

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

I had been thinking about the Gordon Smith ad, which shows Jeff Merkley eating a hot dog — a little too sloppily for most people’s liking — and being ambushed with a question about Georgia.  The advertisement seems to have back-fired a tad bit, which may be over-stating its simple ineffectiveness.  It is in some corners a bit of a laughing stock, and provides a basic problem for Smith, which is the electorate does not much cares about Russia’s incursion into Georgia, or at least doesn’t consider it the biggest issue in the election, hence it is fine that a Senate candidate is a couple of days behind the news cycle — The Weekly Standard and the neo-conservative sentiment that “We are all Georgians now” will just have to accept that.

But that leaves us with the hot dog eating.  A tad sloppy.  Push aside that it tends to enforce the “blue collar average Joe” meme — Hey!  We all eat hot dogs and spill mustard on our shirts! — it does remind me of a controversy from the world of Australian politics.  Jeff Merkley may eat hot dogs with some spill-over, but it could be worse.

Australia’s opposition leader lamented his past behavior on Wednesday, as images of him picking his ear wax in Parliament reached a growing audience via the Internet.

The embarrassing footage was captured by Parliament’s official television camera at least six years ago as Kevin Rudd, then a junior Labor Party lawmaker, sat in the House Representatives listening to a colleague question a government minister.

Rudd, who is likely to become Australia’s prime minister next month, is seen in the background absent-mindedly probing his left ear before apparently placing the same finger in his mouth.

The footage has found it way on to YouTube and has attracted increasing attention in recent weeks as Rudd, a Chinese-speaking former diplomat, leads Prime Minister John Howard in opinion polls ahead of Nov. 24 elections.

I suspect that any challenger running for office who gets caught eating his own ear-wax would not make it, but I could be wrong.  Kevin Rudd made it.

A further partial defense of Sarah Palin

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

“What exactly is it the vice president does every day?”  When Sarah Palin was asked that question as her name was being broached on a long list of McCain running mate picks, that was her response.  And it is a pretty good question.  Basically the answer is that he (she) breaks ties in the Senate, and waits for the president to die.  Any additional responsibility is granted by the president.

Later, as vice presidential candidate, Palin answered the question for a third grader with “[T]hey’re in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom.”  Strictly speaking, no, they’re not in “charge of the US Senate”.  Senate relations have been a role granted to the vice president since at least Alben Barkley, and this is one of the roles Joseph Biden negotiated Barack Obama to get — indeed, I do believe Biden when asked on his role as vice-president listed the term “president of the Senate” with enough qualifications to suggest it’s not a Constitutional Perogative.  But then again there is that famous incident between Vice President Dick Cheney and Senator Patrick Leahy wherein the vice president told Leahy to “Go fuck yourself” — and Cheney is considered the most powerful vice president in history, a distinction not gained from being in charge of the US Senate” — although Cheney once attempted a legalistic definition to get him into the Legislative branch as a means of getting him out of legal issues tied specifically with the Executive branch — so even with Cheney the issue becomes complicated.  It is worth noting that Lyndon Johnson tried his best to wrest back his role as leading the Senate, but was told by the new Senate Majority Leader told him to go bug off, and so Johnson sulked back and until Kennedy’s assassination.

Through most of American history, the vice president did jack squat.  John Adams referred to it as the “the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived.”  His successor, Thomas Jefferson, lead the opposition to John Adams’s administration from the office, which was something that suggested the need for Constitutional changes in electing a vice president.  And Martin Van Buren may have been the only true partner in government in the nineteenth century.

I suppose the vice presidency became relevant, as an office in and of itself, with John Garner — an ironic statement to make since he is always quoted as saying “the office is not worth a bucket of warm spit”, or if censors are not involved, “warm shit”.  Nonetheless, he started making some behind the scenes moves in the emerging Conservative Democratic split as Roosevelt’s administration progressed, and was thus axed for Henry Wallace.  Henry Wallace was the first of several men who “gave the vice-presidency new meaning” — which is that Roosevelt gave him some things to do.  But he rid himself of Wallace, passive – aggressively sending him off on a mission to Siberia while putting in place the mechinism which brought Harry Truman to the vice presidency.  The short tenure of the Truman vice-presidency seems to revert to old form, as evidenced by Truman never being told about the atomic bomb.

Richard Nixon, in addition to being serving as a necessary partisan attack dog for an Eisenhower who wished to remain a non-partisan figure, and being given such jobs as debating Kruschev in a kitchen to extoll the virtues of American Democracy, ended up taking a good bite of a role as Eisenhower suffered health problems and he stepped in to replace him at cabinet meetings.  I have no clear sketch on Hubert Humphrey, except to mention Johnson’s passive — aggressive treatment in helping and not helping him in his presidential election.  Spiro Agnew served in the perpetual campaign role of rallying Nixon’s newly forming Republican base by tossing out insults and invective — or perhaps his role was to keep the Democrats from impeaching Nixon lest they unleash a President Agnew.

Mondale was another supposed “transformative vice president”, but so was George HW Bush, Al Gore, and Dick Cheney.  We keep having “transformative vice presidents” who aren’t — Mondale served the old Alben Barkley role as a go-between between the Congress and the President.  Given the rocky relation Carter had with Congress, this either proves he was ineffective in that role, or desperately necessary — and I’m not sure which.

The exception to this rule of new vice-presidential perogatives — such high water marks as Al Gore stream-lining the amount of government paper-work – was Dan Quayle, whose role in the White House amounted to Comic Relief.

None of this is to detract from the vice-president’s central job — to quote Colin Powell, “she is not ready to be president, and that is the job of the vice-president”.  But it does lead to no clear cut answer to the question “What is it the vice president does every day?” — an answer which has to be fleshed out between the vice president and the president, and an answer which Biden has negotiated with Obama to get an answer.  Perhaps Palin worked out that her job has a heavy Senate lobbying component, but if that were the job duties granted to her, the job would best be served by someone with heavy Legislative experience as opposed to the mighty Executive Experience (the only one of the four with it!) which supposedly serves as Palin’s chief asset.

a partial defense of Sarah Palin

Friday, October 24th, 2008

I saw an image of Barack Obama with resoled shoes.  It made me think of two things.  #1:  Adlai Stevenson, one of many presidential candidates Obama has been compared to, who famously was caught with holes in his shoes — in his case adding to an “Absent Minded Professor” image.  Obama’s shoe-shot was meant to add to a minor “Working Class Hero” image of sorts, as against Sarah Palin’s expensive outfits.

And that was the second thing I thought about.  The gender double-standard that helped lead to Palin’s expensive wardrobe.  Surely it is part of the “uber-attractive” image they have cut out for Palin, but how would we respond if she was photographed with holes (patched up or not) in her shoes?  The tabloids and news media would go wild.  Which, I suppose, they have in the case of her expensive outfits.

The Berlin Conference Reprised

Friday, October 24th, 2008

Clicking around, I see that Alex Jones had posted up 5 minutes of Larouche, using the words “friendly friends” and then carries off onto the tangeant of Death Camps, and how everyone is preparing to kill.  Within the week.  Never mind the predicted Inflation — everything has a kernal of truth somewhere, I suppose.

Amazingly, Alex Jones has disappointed me here.  I thought he had standards — rather odd standards, but standards nonetheless.  I always thought he stopped at around Webster Tarpley — mouthing much the same thing, I suppose.

It is time for an update on the wikipedia article on Jeremiah Duggan.  I have already expressed a measure of skeptism about it puttering forward any legal action, but nonetheless this conference is a significant development that needs to be added to this article.  Reading over the wikipedia article, I ponder what the objections from a Larouchian might be, aside from its very existence.  I’m sure they’re pleased with the German ruling, but the most damning item in the whole thing for Larouche and company is this.:

In November 2006, LaRouche issued a statement saying the allegations were a hoax stemming from a campaign orchestrated by Dick Cheney, the Vice-President of the United States, and Cheney’s wife.[20][19] In March 2007, he said the campaign was led by the “British Fabian friends of Dick Cheney and Al Gore,” and was aimed at discrediting him over his opposition to the Iraq war and his criticism of the man-made global warming hypothesis.[21]

A strange pick for the most damning item here, particularly as it comes straight from the larouchepac website response, and does not directly relate to the death scene.  But that’s the point.  Similar to Ruth Tuttle’s description in Younger Than That Now (go to part 3), wherein a street altercation is immediately blamed on a nefarious plot by Nelson Rockefellar to disrupt the organization.  At which point Tuttle decides to exit stage left.  But I don’t know who the “friendly friends” are conjectured to be in the cases of Duggan (perhaps the German police?) or the Rockefeller incident.  The imaginary power has enlarged.  Or maybe not, as evidenced by the threat of assassination posed by the Russians (now their friendly friends) in the 1980s.  The problem encountered in 1974 was limited becauses those were just street canvassers.  Jeremiah Duggan does not exist so much as an imaginary battle between the Dick Cheney / Al Gore tag-team and Larouche.  It does make me wonder what this person was thinking in terms of testing herself.

As the Alan Osler blog post about the Duggan conference features comments about the — er — seminal piece of work that was “Dope, Inc”, this dopers’ story might amuse someone.  And add to a misguided sense of righteousness amongst a group that celebrates and commemerates the highest reaches of culture, pooh-poohing gutter-level pop-culture.

Incidentally, a reminder for college scenes such as this one.  Don’t much overdo it — it’s not worth it — but this is pretty relevant at this moment.:

“I mean: Obama is a racist. I mean, with an African father–he wasn’t much of an African father, but was an African father of Kenya. He was part of a British operation, which took over Kenya, through MI5’s operation. But this guy was away from Kenya, and he married a Margaret Mead type, a woman who had a number of successive husbands, like Margaret Mead did. Went out to the poor, brown people, in Asia, and had sex with them! It was called “Coming in Samoa.” [groans, laughter] And she wore through a number of successive husbands, and by them, had various children. And therefore, you’ll find Obama’s ancestry, if you chase his family tree, everybody’s climbing and swinging from the branches there–from all over the world! All parts of the world! This guy is the universal man. Every monkey in every tree, from every part of the world, has participated in the sexual act of producing him. And he works for organized crime–which is a branch of British intelligence.”

But you already knew that.

new wrinkle in the Alan Greenspan Paradox

Friday, October 24th, 2008

I am pretty sure I have already described my low level fascination with Alan Greenspan in the 1990s.  It sprang from his “Irrational Exuberance” comment, the fact that the comments were meant to taper down stock market speculation, presumably in a mid-term time-period, yet in the mid-term range — after a short “tapering down” — rose rather spectacularly.  It seemed a paradox to me:  Is this man the most powerful person in our Financial World, or the most Impotent?  The answer was both and neither.

Years later, he finally hit his denoument.  And we get this.

“You had the authority to prevent irresponsible lending practices that led to the subprime mortgage crisis. You were advised to do so by many others,” said Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, chairman of the committee. “Do you feel that your ideology pushed you to make decisions that you wish you had not made?”

Mr. Greenspan conceded: “Yes, I’ve found a flaw. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is. But I’ve been very distressed by that fact.”

“Found a flaw.”  I know what happened.  Alan Greenspan simply forgot to carry the one — about five digits to the right of the decimal point.  Most mistakes are just that simple, just a brief lapse of concentration.  This is why you always show your work.

Is that a rhetorical question? And is “Is that a rhetorical question” a rhetorical question?

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Disgruntled Conservative Chris Buckley, son of William Buckley — recently run out of the National Review, looks around the political landscape and comes to the conclusion that after the election, and hold a conference to get a grip on things.  The bottom line.:

“And I’ll tell you what the conference should be called: Conservatism—What the Fuck?”

A rather provocative question, and a batch of people wrestling with that question is worthy of being televised on C-SPAN.  I would hasten to add that any number of “movements” should ask the same question.: “Furries:  What the Fuck?