Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Cross Hairs

This could be added as an "update" to my last post, but anyways... The following link is worth a read:

On the one hand, we can surely all agree that the rough justice of Mussolini's end, hanging upside down under a bridge, is indeed entirely what he "deserved." So, for that matter, is the sordid end of Hitler and his intimate cohort. The photographs of various German higherups, heads on desks, dark blood pooled beside, and the Luger still in a cold, dead hand--that is justice, in some understandable larger sense. And given this--call it a moral fact if you like--it is surely understandable that a President finds himself with a moral duty to deal with people like bin Laden using the rough justice available.

But there is also a slippery slope, as the emptywheel article rightly attests. There is the "young wife." There are the faceless civilians who almost always are noted as collateral damage when these various actions are taken. And there is the problem, too, of just how easy it all becomes--the bright kid from Yale or the Air Force Academy, assigned to some virtual cockpit in some comfortable American city, putting in his shift watching a screen, pressing a red button, having a nice fresh-brewed cup of coffee and a danish. And a President who didn't actually "decide" anything beyond not rejecting a plan which might have been written entirely in the bloodless language of operatives and objectives, and who gains a political advantage of sorts by contradicting some Republican's cheap shot "appeaser" rhetoric. "Appease this, fucker!"

So. Just sayin'. Here's a place that demands some serious thinking. And of course who's doing that in this hilarious campaign season, where the best news is probably that Mr. Gingrich is at last confronting his own petard, and squirms like a fishing worm as Mr. Romney slowly skewers him with silence and unlimited advertising money used for not one syllable of serious conversation or consideration.

One might hope, and probably vainly, that at least Mr. Newt realizes that he contributed directly to this electoral context, where the battle is to the death. "But I have ideas," Gingrich mewls. No doubt to many on the right, Romney's strongest qualification has become his willingness to press the sword deeper, looking into Mr. Gingrich's eyes, enjoying the vanishing light in them. No doubt later at supper he can remark to his advisers that sunsets in Iowa in January are the best to be found anywhere. The clink of glasses and bitter laughter. Fade to black.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

In this Christmas Season


This is our reality
. Mr. Obama has with this law reduced the choice of President to a vote based on which of two people is the more reasonable, fair-minded person. As an historical event, this bill probably represents a famous principle of Presidency--namely, that all Presidents want as much power as they can get. So, e.g., the Republicans opened the door, and as President Mr. Obama simply isn't going to close it. Indeed, with this bill he opens it wider. It's a matter of perceived practicality versus legal theorizing. Mr. Obama thinks, no doubt, "I'm the guy that has to stop this bastard." And in this clarity Mr. Obama proves decisively that he's a better President than Bush, who saw the world through muddled glasses first day to last, and for all his blather and all the killing, stopped nothing.

But the down side is Ms. Wheeler's point--what will Newt (say) do with this power. Because the track record looking back to 1980 is very very bad for American Democracy, as an invisible hand. And perhaps this is why polls are trending now for Mr. Obama. Maybe most Americans would still rather not give the keys to a guy in a clown suit who walks down the street talking to himself.

See, here's the thing. There is going to be a guy in the White House who has to deal with stuff that no one wants to deal with. The GOP can apparently convince their boys that this problem is really not much, that all that guy has to do is just say "ok" when it really comes down to it--the rest of it gets decided by "experts," and the prez is just the legal on/off switch, and how daunting can that be. The Dems, they tend to think their guy actually has to decide stuff more like we humans decide--thinking about consequences intended and otherwise, understanding that doing nothing is a decision, trying to balance interests, or ignoring interests, staying up late, getting up early, pretty much spending his whole life on the job. And all of us just have the little choice we can make, the little vote, and we'd best remember that any choice we make, including spending a November Tuesday at the movies, or checking some Nader off the list to make a "point," that has implications too, about who ends up with this crazy job of dealing with stuff that one one wants to deal with.

There's a nice Bukowski poem on this theme--the guy in the clown suit I mean. I'll hunt up for you sometime.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Feliz Navidad

If you ever have to walk
some place, like say 5 miles to town, you will discover that the road you drive every day in a few minutes is actually crammed full of minutia that you have never ever noticed before. You will see that the mailboxes you pass have small differences--dings, dents, scratches, a slight askew-ness. You will see trees in various stages of life and decay, and perhaps wonder when that big oak was struck by lightening, or why the power company hasn't yet removed it--since it is clearly going to take out a feeder line at some point, and possibly under much worse weather conditions for the men who have to deal with the problem when it happens. You'll notice the various loose dogs, some of which will come out to threaten you for walking past "their" driveway, and you'll wish you'd brought along a good sized stick. Eventually, after quite some time, you'll get to town. Then you'll have to carry that full gas can all the way back, or that one sack of groceries. Perhaps you'll understood more deeply why George Jones drove a riding lawnmower to Nashville when he ran out of whiskey, and not just see the event as yet another funny story about the Ole Possum.

So it is with the American tragedy that is the so-called "Reagan Revolution." Because it really happened, in thousands of bits and pieces, just like the little events which in the end led to that rich tapestry of entrophy-tending which you finally discovered on your walk to town.

And while there may at some point be enough political will in the country to start pushing back against this pervasive rot, the question now is almost one of where to start. And at one level of understanding, the facts described in the Rorty link which starts this post imply policy suppositions which will take a generation to rebut assuming there's anyone out there to actually do the rebutting where it counts--in the classrooms of the future policy makers. And at another more obvious level, one entire political party fields a body of presidential contenders none of whom have the credibility to hold the office, while the other party pretty much governs on the very economic suppositions which support, e.g., the idea that a student loan structure such as Rorty describes makes more sense than a system that can be truly called "public" education.

That is, Obama's economics are pretty much Reagan's, whereas Romney, who was born rich, prattles on about "economic freedom," and Ron Paul would like to return to a world where metal is money, and paper is just paper.

On the road to town this December, the bows on the mailboxes all came from Walmart. And while old-timers send out "analog" Xmas cards to old friends, finding their addresses in tattered address books that tend to drift down through the little used clutter like leaves from last years fall, in the digital future, where everything is mathematics to be mined, this stirring prospect slouches towards Bethlehem to be born:

Feliz Navidad.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

"I Paid for ths Microphone"

[photo from ]

If you want to understand
what's going on, you simply have to get past teevee news and opinion shows, be they on Fox or even on MSNBC. Consider the following excellent post:

Well, probably you should have at least watched enough teevee to know that Karl Rove has put out the ad cited in Rorty's post. But that's about it. I watched two or three shows that discussed the ad in the past couple of days and gleened nothing of substance concerning the issue in question--whether Elizabeth Warren has changed positions, and more importantly, what positions.

In Rorty's post you have that answered. Turns out there's some serious economic analysis going on about the relationship of household debt to other major facts about our current economy. Turns out there may even be an ongoing effort to obscure that relationship, to the benefit of the big players (that's at least my tentative conclusion).

I hope Ms. Warren wins her election next fall. I sure do wish NC had a senator like she'll be. As I keep saying here, in different ways, the GOP has chosen a path that amounts to evil--they are more and more an amalgam of every prejudice and hate that can be found in the world of men--every disgruntled, shortsighted, angry voter is welcomed to the fold--plus the richest folks in the land, or at least the ones who have no larger vision beyond buying yet another villa or yacht or fillet mignon or trophy female, and no comprehension of the true fact that there's only so much money that one can actually spend, short of living like an illiterate former heavyweight champeen who has no financial advisors.

I am pleased to read that Bernie Sanders, Vermont's fine senator, is offering a constitutional amendment aimed at cancelling the pernicious Citizen's United Supreme Court Decision, which codifies the terrible practical fact that money and power do in the US convey a special First Class Citizenship. Of course Mr. Sanders will never succeed in this effort, but perhaps it'll help wake up a few people.

Sadly, the powerful seem long long ago to have decided that even the most basic effort to keep it between the ditches amounts only to a weakness in an all out war for power. Thus, the current Rove ad, presented with a straight face. Rove's candidate, on the other hand, is a handsome cowboy with an empty head and a nice pickup truck. Maybe Scott Brown should go down to Austin. He's more qualified to be governor of Texas than the current occupant of that office. As we've all discovered. It's remarkable that both Brown and Warren are reported as "decrying" the Rove ad. So Mr. Brown wasn't aware that Rove was running such an ad? More proof that he's Texas Governor material I guess.

Quick Update
: the mendacity of the GOP is no better evidenced than in Newton Leroy's recent assertion that "really" there are no Palestinians. Here's a good rejoinder to such absurd panderings--with a dose of reality for the alternative to the Newt in our politics as well:

(When Mr. Cole starts appearing weekly on PBS, replacing David F-ing Brooks, I'll consider sending in another check.)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Ginger White

Give me a P. Give me an A. Give me a T. Give me an R. Etc.

There will be a discussion later.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Necessary and Sufficient Reason

Dean and Phil Ford (

Yesterday riding home from work Mr. Hannity was "interviewing" Mr. Romney. Mr. Romney, concerned no doubt that many of Hannity's listeners might still think him too "liberal" for their taste, said the following:

"Any candidate in our Republican field of candidates would be a better President than Mr. Obama."

With this statement, Mr. Romney has moved himself into the John McCain camp, at least in my book. I decided, in the fall of '08, that Mr. McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as a Vice-Presidential candidate, was clear proof that Mr. McCain was not capable of being President of the United States. This was McCain's first presidental act, as it were. For whatever reasons, he was willing to pick a person so obviously unqualified to be President that the mere fact of his choice implied that he, McCain, would likely not be capable of looking rationally at whatever deeply serious events might cross his path, should be actually achieve the office. And of course--as well--should Ms Palin have found herself elevated to President--Mr. McCain would have left the nation in that dire strait--a fate almost too disorienting to even contemplate in detail.

With Mr. Romney's unqualified statement yesterday, he falls into the same problem. We must assume that he isn't lying--if only because if he's lying about this, what can we believe? Yet there is no doubt at all that a good number--if not all--of the current Republican Presidential candidates are obviously and utterly unqualified to hold the office, much less manage the office better than Mr. Obama has done. Simple logic, then, leads me to the conclusion that Mr. Romney is himself unqualified to be President.

At least I can now deal with more pressing problems at hand--firewood, Christmas shopping, a new battery for the truck, the cat's more and more finicky eating habits. The Presidential Election is now just a matter of getting to the polling place next November (on the correct date, no help to the most unqualified Mr. Perry) and voting for the only choice--Mr. Obama. Mr. Obama is now a seasoned President. His second term should be better than his first--particularly if America also gives him a better Congress to work with by tossing out a goodly number of the unqualified Republicans who now hold office therein.

In the meantime--being from North Carolina--I'll also be sure to get to the polls in May to vote against our NC GOP's current effort at nasty--an anti-same sex marriage amendment. Just what NC needs--a divisive, pointless constitutional amendment to get out the homophobe vote. Only last week our GOP Legislature voted to rescend a law aimed at reducing racial bias in the court system. Way to go, fellers and "gals."

It's a weird thing to watch the clock running backards while the seasons progress in their more or less usual manner, leaves falling, the frost needing a scraping before I leave for work at more or less the crack o dawn. Any day now I expect to see Jesse Helms appear again on Channel 5, Raleigh's flagship Teevee station, sneering about Jane Fonda, Joan Baez, and the dirty hippies in Chapel Hill. Back in '61, when I started my college adventure there, the students burned Dean Smith in effigy because his first season was a losing one. Ramblin' Jack Elliot played on campus that year, and was booed when he refused to sing "Ghost Riders in the Sky", the only song in the folkie vein some front-row rowdies had apparently ever heard. Later Josh White played--and sang "Strange Fruit." I had no idea, of course, of that song's history. I had never heard of Billie Holiday at that point in my education.