Archive for November, 2009

The problem of the Fillibuster

Monday, November 30th, 2009

I generically like Representative Greyson’s suggestion that the filibuster should be moved down to 55.  There is simply no excuse for a Senate party Caucus of 60 to be so logjammed by a roster of four tail-waggers, against a minority of forty, and if Lyndon Johnson had to get 60 votes to get through Medicare, he wouldn’t have been able to pull it off.  The Filibuster has evolved to an overuse, from out of its not illustrative history of “Rule 22” coming to a vote every session with the Southern Dixiecrats passing it for a trump card against Civil Rights.

The problem is that that rule change should have been adopted around about 2007, when the Democrats gained that 51 to 49 majority, looking ahead to perhaps a Hillary Clinton presidency, but more liably a large Senate majority after a bad map for the Republicans in 2008.   A softer vote requirement now looks as a pre-requisite to pass through any agenda option.  But I don’t really believe in changing rules in midstream, so we have it today where we have a pretty bad little health care bill, bad by my definition of its sausage making showing up an inorganic policy getting away from tackling the major issues in lieu of pleasing Lieberman Nelson Landrieu Lincoln Snowe.  Such as the “Louisiana Purchase”, one step down the line in terms of approval ratings.

Then again, this might just raise the roof for others hiding behind the cloak of convenience: if we get down to a requirement of 55 votes, we might just get to know Evan Bayh Max Baucus and etc.  This was the whole premise of the “Gang of 12” in that last Filibuster Tiff against the backdrop of the Religious Right’s “Justice Sunday” sneak.  Maybe the liberal contrarians were right at that time: it’d be better if they blew up the Filibuster.  Social Security Privatization was sunk at the time due to political pressure making it unpopular, not a 40 vote bullwark.


Monday, November 30th, 2009

Well.  Portland’s water was full of shit this weekened.  Actually the bacteria was discovered on Wednesday.  They let everyone know on Friday — had to double-check.

I suspect a conspiracy by the Bottle Watered companies…

So, after this fun filled “Bottled Water Weekend”, I jog my memory back to some things that George Carlin once had to say.

“I always ask people in every city if they trust the water. They always say no.

Nobody trusts the local water supply, nobody, and that amuses me. I like that, I admit I’m a bit perverted, but it amuses me that no one can really trust the water anymore. And the thing I like about it the most is, it means the system is beginning to collapse, and everything is slowly breaking down.

I enjoy chaos and disorder, not just because they help me professionally, they’re also my hobby, you see, I’m an entropy fan. I’m an entropy fan, when I first heard of entropy in high school science I was attracted to it immediately. When they told me that in nature all systems are breaking down, I thought what a good thing, what a good thing, perhaps I can make some small contribution in this area myself.

And of course it’s not just in nature, in this country, the whole social structure just beginning to collapse, you watch, just beginning now to come apart at the edges and the seams. And the thing I like about that, is that it means it makes the news on television more interesting,…

… Just waiting for the ecoli to kick in.

When pro athletes turn to politics

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

It’s kind of interesting to see what happens when professional athletes join the realm of electoral politics.

NFL player John Runyan confirmed Tuesday night that he will challenge freshman Rep. John Adler (D) in New Jersey’s 3rd district.

Runyan, formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles, also announced that he had signed on to play the rest of the season with the San Diego Chargers and will then jump into the campaign.

This defrays a curious test case.  I really wish the man were playing for the New York Jets or, better still in looking at the standings, the Giants.  What I would be rooting for in that case is for Runyan to blow an important game.  Picture this: last game of the season.  Win and you are the Division Champions.  The Giants are up by three, and driving near the end of the game.

… Wait.  He’s an offensive lineman?  Damnedit, that makes identifying him as the culprit for a play gone awry a little trickier than if he were the man to have dropped a fumble.

But the test is there: would be a test case in whether the good people of New Jersey’s third congressional district could elect the Goat of their team.

In Oregon, the sort of stand-in Republican Gubernatorial front runner by default is former NBA journey-man Chris Dudley.  This is making the assumption that Bill Sizemore can’t quite pull off an evocation of Eugene Debs circa 1920.  Chris Dudley made an NBA commercial of historic happenings in the Association.  He’s a man who “Amazing” Happened to.  This is all good and well, except that nobody can quite gather up what he’s running on, and so we’re stuck back to his NBA record highlighted by that commercial and by historically bad free throw shooting.

But he’ll get a platform together in time for a run, I presume.

Thinking about Dudley in that commercial brings me back to a thought I’ve always had: Did Craig Ehlo earn a mint of royalties over the 1990s for appearing in Jordan posters?  Can that be a good way of earning a living — appearing underneath NBA superstars dunking the ball?  (Kind of like making fun of a one hit or two hit wonder of an earlier era, and finding out that they make millions touring the County Fair Circuit.)

When Runyan gets elected, with a Republican majority, we’ll find out if Speaker Boehner gives him the treatment Pelosi gives former college great and pro not great Heath Shuler.

She even donned an oversize football jersey with “Mean Machine 1” on the front last month and stood in the rain, cheering at a charity football game between members of Congress and Capitol police. Her sights were set on Redskins quarterback turned North Carolina congressman Heath Shuler, an undecided Democrat.

She had to leave Left Coast behind; To build a majority on healthcare legislation, Pelosi yielded on liberal touchstones including abortion.
Faye Fiore; Richard SimonLos Angeles Times

Thanksgiving in Cult Land

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

On November 16, 2009, Lyndon Larouche unveiled a big speech — published on the 18th — entitled “Brainwashed”.  The opening long-winded sentence:  
For those among us with any significant experience with commonplace instances of victims of what is called “brainwashing,” there should have been nothing surprising in the fact that certain former associates of a political association, who had spent as much as decades of their life briefly either in or long-since departed from of that association, should have been changed, by what is appropriately called “brainwashing,” into a decades-long obsession with hatred against me, not for any actual reason of what I might have done to them, but for what they, seemingly without rational intent, attempted to do on behalf of those well-known enemies of mine on which they had come to depend for the fears which controlled a crucial aspect of their personal mental life.
This was part and parcel of an Internal Dilligence campaign: the topic of brainwashing pestered into the cult’s internal and external literature — all of society and all of culture are brainwashed.  One key sign of the brainwashing: everyone who knows anything about Larouche thinks he’s nuts.  It resulted in the membership mindset that resulted in this odd little comment.:
LaRoucheisright said at 11:36 pm on November 24th, 2009:
Cocondeck: LaRouche is leading the fight. So call it what you want
. I think anyone who knows about LaRouche and isn’t supporting him at this point is brainwashed, so right back at ya dumb a$$.

An interesting thing about the Holidays and the Larouche org is that in recent years, the org has encouraged, or not discouraged, the LYM membership to touch base with their families, and visit them.  Never mind that the young recruits get an earful in being initiated about getting themselves off of “Mother’s Milk”.  Visit mom and dad, and they just might help defray the costs which encure in their mass deployments.

This “Brainwashing” alerting and warning campaign is a means to innoculate them from the hazards of stepping outside the cult’s bubble.
It’s also worth noting the internal and external literature has been packed with ralings against the members who are doubting in the predictive power of Larouche, coming after the forecast that October 12 would be the Day the world Descends into Armegeddon.  As per usual, the line has shifted to “phase shift”, an allowance to wait the next item of Economic Bad News — which, I gather, they’ll take Dubai for all it’s worth.  What of October 12?  Throw it in the bin with all the Octobers in the past 40 or 50 years.

But this berating of the Doubters in the midst does solve and innoculate another problem with the Thanksgiving Dinner stand by.  If I didn’t know that others were doing such a thing, I might just have to suck it up and survey the past few months of the LYM Basement Team’s presentations, available on youtube as well lpac itself, and see who doesn’t show up after Thanksgiving.  This is common practice, apparently, and a list of people who are “no longer with us” will be read after some Daily Briefing this week when it becomes apparent so and so has not returned.
Another thing you might watch, if so inclined, is to see if some of these LYM presenters have on a new suit.  This would demonstrate something along the lines of nerve wreck mom and dad wanting to help their wayward children out, but not wanting the horror of having their money wander through this cult.

The members coming back after Thanksgiving (the majority, I gather) will be rushed head-long back into World Historic Purposes.  A new Historic webcast, the eleventh of the year, is scheduled — either this week or next, I am not sure.  Whether the Larouchies are or are not a part of the TeaParty Movement (ideological and cause parasites) depends of definitions (and only the most telegenic Hitler Mustache posters are theirs) — and I guess the Larouchie celebre who descended from the morass is running for Congress.  Anyway, the Larouchies have disclaimed this ballast, and gone on to other pastures.  A lone Hitler Mustache holder floats into an “End the Fed” rally.  That’s one part of the Mass strike.  As well they will, in their minds, take over “We Are Change” — by putting their hastling of Al Gore into the historic lineage that brought us the Larouchies hastlings of Henry Kissinger. They and the org’s calling out of the “Nazi Policies” “Worse than Hitler” are responsible for Obama’s approval rating falling to 49 percent, “The Incredibly Shrinking Obama Presidency”.  (Point of order: every president since Johnson has had a period of time when their rating fell into the 30s.  Kennedy probably would have landed there  in his second term sans his assassination, leaving the string to have skipped just Eisenhower in going back to Truman.  And every one of these presidents has had a period of time when their ratings were in the 70s — though, I’ll need to check on that one.)    AND … cue calls of Bush Double standard for this writer’s concern in one… well, actually just one.

For those looking to see if old faces disappear, and if old faces are wearing new clothes… a quick peek see at the comments section of the youtube “Basement” productions… one clipped to this blog.
Tell obama to go fuck himself!!!!!!!!!!! You are an excellent newscaster!! Keep it up, very informative
A veritable Edward R Murrow.  And here’s an incoherent epithet –the word “Boomer”:
Boomer? what’s that now? Is that bad how? —
And how about some of that Wit they pick up in the org?
“So what’s the difference between Obama’s face and his asshole?  Well, when the same thing comes out of both ends, who can tell?”
antonio030562 (4 months ago) 
lighten up! and see beyond the delivery of the message and look to the ultimate agenda…to save you yr family and every one you know…
Your very survival is hanging on the balance and yr winging about what you perceive as inappropriate language…REALLY!

It occurs to me in rolling past these presentations and in seeing another conservative publication not let Robert Dreyfuss escape his past Robert Dreyfuss can’t escape his past to wonder if the LYM Basement team could even pull off writing a “Hostage to Khomeini” — blaming the British as it must, dedicated to Larouche as it must.  But … whatever.

Two other depositories of dumping– “The People’s Voice“, which we’ve seen before.  And Thom Hartmann’s website, weirdly coincidental in that I mentioned him once in relation to uses of Russian media outlets.

Where in the world is Sarah Palin?

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

Apparently there’s a bit of a hubbub amongst a handful of conservative bloggers about a quote in the San Francisco Chronicle.  I am kind of familiar with this hack news story format.  There is a well selling book that is in a Media firestorm.  You find the book seller that is not selling the book.  As you can imagine, there are any number of books in the San Francisco area where Sarah Palin’s book does not sell, and does not fit the clientelle.  So we get a quote, and the great giant media outlet “Pajamas Media” and “Allah Pundit” seize upon it, and look up some other books they sell.  The Washington Times goes on to publish in their section pulling out from mainly conservative blogs.

Incidentally, I don’t think her book is in the Top 20 Best sellers list at Powells, though they certainly sell it.

Palin is not visiting San Francisco.  She probably should; I think she would have an audience.  But Sarah Palin’s book tour is taking her where her fans are, into every Palookaville and Dix in the nation.  In the Internet era, enough people are obsessed with following her that if you really wanted to, you could indeed follow her travels.   I would think that the Thanksgiving Day weekend would be a sort of prime time slot, the people of that township honored by her presence on an American Holiday weekend.  This is peculiar.  There’s another Sarah Palin minor tempest in a teapot scandal — about the same size as looking into books from bookstores not selling her book — which is making the rounds.  The details slide in paragraphs deep in a local news piece.  Care if you must, but what is interesting is that Sarah Palin spent Thanksgiving in…

… Kennewick, Washington.  Huh.  Really?  (I should note that I first learned that from Rick Emerson’s website.)

Reading the copy in the Tri-City Herald, I am somehow reminded of something from Sarah Palin watcher Andrew Sullivan.   The first mention, or one of the first mentions, of Sarah Palin came in the Anchorage Daily.

Sarah Palin, a commercial fisherman from Wasilla, told her husband on Tuesday she was driving to Anchorage to shop at Costco. Instead, she headed straight for Ivana. And there, at J.C. Penney’s cosmetic department, was Ivana, the former Mrs. Donald Trump, sitting at a table next to a photograph of herself. She wore a light-colored pantsuit and pink fingernail polish. Her blonde hair was coiffed in a bouffant French twist.

”We want to see Ivana,” said Palin, who admittedly smells like salmon for a large part of the summer, ”because we are so desperate in Alaska for any semblance of glamour and culture.”

And now Kennewick has its own glamour and culture?

the center

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

In their conclusions the White House betrayed a constellation of unspoken assumptions about race relations — about social relations — in the United States: introduce bold legislation and the troublemakers would quit, like kidnappers who had been paid their ransom.  Theirs was an almost desperate belief that America wad by definition a placid place, if only “extremists” could be kept in check.  That didn’t just mean the racists that perpetrated the violence — but also those who “disturbed the peace” on the other side by protesting racism.  The assumption was shared alike by Birmingham’s “moderate” mayor-elect, who proclaimed the citizens of Birmingham “innocent victims”; and by Jackson, Mississippi, cops who charged pistol-whipped folks with disturbing the peace.  All of them implied that everything had been just fine before irresponsible people began stirring the pot.  It was the zeitgeist.  “Responsibility” was a mantle even militants craved.  Barry Goldwater was one of the very rare politicians who actually welcomed identification as a partisan.  But his supporters in the Los Angeles Republican Central Committee called themselves the “Responsible Republicans” — to distinguish themselves from Howard Jarvis’s breakaway Conservative Party.  “Americans for Democratic Action are more extreme than we are,” Young Americans for Freedom’s Richard Viguerie assured a reporter.  Colonel Laurence E. Bunker, General MacArthur’s old aide-de-camp, now a Birch leader, was quoted in the New York Post in a series called “Far Right and Far Left”:  “We’re right down the middle.  Some groups advocate violence, others shrug their shoulders and read a book.  We don’t believe in either.”  The editor of The Worker, the paper of the American Communist Party, was quoted as saying: “This is the headquarters for the resposible left.  Over there–” pointing downtown in the direction of the office of the Trotskyite Progressive Workers Party — “is the irresponsible left.”

— Rick Perlstein, Before the Storm, 206-207

Thanksgiving Day songs

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Thanksgiving.  There are not all that many Thanksgiving Day themed songs.  In grade school, our Music Teacher (pulled us in once a week to meet educational regulation, I suppose) had us sing some song or other that focused on the ritual of watching football.  It was a hit of sorts, requested for singing from some of the boys as against the roster of — actually I wonder if the music teacher at old Arthur H Smith Elementary still has the kids singing “Dixie”?

For some reason,Thanksgiving becomes a day of football interjection.  The Detroit Lions long ago cornered the market on a game to be aired on Thanksgiving Day.  This worked out well for the league’s fans in the 1990s with Barry Sanders.  Unfortunately, in the entire history of the Detroit Lions, Barry Sanders is the only thing the team has ever had going for them.  Though, last year’s 0-16 run was pretty epic. It’s a day branded for bad football. The last time a Detroit Lions Thanksgiving Day football game had any interest was a game that went into overtime, had a player shout out “Heads” for the coin flip, then had the con flip to “Heads”, at which point the referee announced that the player had shouted “Tails”, so lost the coin flip.  The rules for the coin flip were changed going into the next season.

Were the “Dixie” song and that Thanksgiving Football song part of elementary school’s societal indoctrination?

Classic rock radio stations all through the country make a tradition of playing “Alice’s Restaurant” at noon.  Why?  I don’t really know.  Protest the Vietnam War.  I think they went ahead and updated the song for current wars.

So it’s left to this song to represent the meaning and historical thrust of Thanksgiving.  Bombastic and horrible, it always gives me a chuckle where “Alice’s Restaurant” doesn’t.

Worst vice presidential picks, redux.

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

This is a pretty good reinvention of the old “Worst Presidential Picks” list — looking beyond capturing what the selections mean in their purely electoral terms and picturing the vice presidents in the role as Emergency President.  Which asks one to leave aside your Dan Quayle huntings — not necessarily a good president, just not the disaster you would imagine, and leave aside your Eagleton — even if he completely sunk McGovern, he would not have been a bad president.  And so we get Eisenhower’s selection of Richard Nixon — and the thought of a President Nixon at the juncture of the decade of McCarthy.  This is a compelling argument, but I would have to think about it.  And we get the prospect of a President Henry Wallace — which I gather might just have resulted in a Military Coup.

But, if we’ve gotten to those perimeters — if we’re considering 1940, I feel free to throw in Adlai Stevenson’s slection of Sparkman — if only because I once witnessed Pat Buchanan argure about the racial politics of the present day by going back to 1952.  Then again, we could also go back to the gamut of near corpses selected here and there throughout history — didn’t Alton Parker select some guy just out of the theory that he’d fill the party coffers?

It is there that the comments section pulls the rug under this contraption.  Throw out the name Aaron Burr.  Throw out the name Andrew Johnson.  In Johnson’s defense, there was no way out in that political environment — anyone at that juncture is doomed to failure.

Other possibilities, from that vantage point: John Tyler.  For the sake of formulating a model of a Whig Presidency to counter-act the dominant Democratic Party, after the first elected Whig Party candidate passes off one month in, a certified Democrat was not at all useful.  See also Millard Fillmore, to a lesser degree.  In a way, we may just well view Joseph Lieberman from the same perspective.

Actually, this kind is a pathetic list.  It leaves out the nineteenth century, and the first third of the twentieth.  After some deliberation, I would say the worst vice presidential selection was the Great Nullifier — John Calhourn.