Monthly Archives: August 2007

So What Do WE Do About It? (Updated)

In a comment to the last post, Laura asks that and it’s a fair question.

What do you think WE can do? I realize optimism isn’t your strong suit, but since you write, I’ll assume you hope. Any strategies you might recommend…?

Of course. I’ve been sort of making tactical suggestions all along, piecemeal as it were, but maybe it’s time to put it all together and fill in the gaps.

First, I need to stress that there’s nothing magical about what needs to be done. It’s all obvious, fundamental shit, and it’s called “being a citizen”. Second, “hope” has nothing to do with it. I’m an analyst, basically. That’s how I think. As a reasonably capable analyst, I can assure you these tactics/strategies will almost certainly work – barring a military response that turns the US from a virtual dictatorship into an overt dictatorship, which is unfortunately possible but fortunately unlikely for a variety of reasons.

“Hope” has to do with a single question: Will enough people get off their asses to make a difference? My cynicism tells me they won’t, but I hope they will. eRobin, an activist and expert optimist thinks different.

The thing that gets me about us is that we as a nation do respond when challenged by our leaders. FDR did it. Kennedy did it. Even History’s Greatest Monster, Carter, did it and we set peak oil back a decade.


With the right leader, (our greatest sin is that we are dependent upon being led) we would rise to the challenge of universal single payer health care, global warming and the need to remake our economy and go green instead of turning into a nation of service workers.

Well, we don’t have real political leaders any more. We have, in both parties, corporate employees who are beholden to the corporatocracy that buys them with campaign money because of the way we insist on funding elections with private bucks, so the leaders are going to have to come from the bottom. From us. As I’ve said time and again lately, we’re going to have to do it ourselves. We’re on our own.

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The Latest Democratic Turncoat and the Impeachment Follies

In the days since Rahm Emanuel’s phone orgy, Democratic support for Bush/neocon policies in Iraq has strengthened and at least one Rep, Jerry McNerney from California, has already reversed his position. Now comes news via Think Progress of a second: Washington’s Brian Baird.

Baird was one of the few Dem Reps who voted against the invasion originally but has been relatively quiet about his opposition to the occupation since. Now that he is supporting the surge, though, as TP put it, “there doesn’t appear to be a camera or microphone that Baird will refuse to speak to.” And most of them are right-wing outlets – Tucker Carlson and the National Review, for instance.

Baird, nationally an unknown, is suddenly in the limelight, his turnaround trumpeted all over the media, after several years of all-but-invisible opposition. And all it took was a single phone call from Rahm.

Tell me again that the Democratic support of Bush, from economic policy to trade policy to foreign policy to illegal surveillance is the result of individual consciences or the Fear Factor.

One more slightly related observation:

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The Real ’08 Election Frame: Seduction

It may be fitting in a peculiar way that the first columnist to tell the truth about the presidential race is a tv critic.

Heather Havrilesky writes about television for Salon magazine, and her latest column starts this way:

America has been feeling pretty impotent lately. The march of freedom screeched to a halt a long time ago, and we’ve got a feeble grip on our national identity. After decades of fancying ourselves sexy and invincible, we’re suddenly scrutinizing our teeth in the mirror and second-guessing the Ultrasuede loafers we once thought were so cool.

Thankfully, a new presidential race is heating up, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Who better to put the spring back in our step, than a brand-new lover, one who loves absolutely everything about us, from our stubborn independence to our somewhat delusional egocentrism? With pulpit-pounding conviction and an openly flirtatious grin, our new suitors say they see past the bald spot and the ill-fitting pants, they remember when we were young and brash, when we grabbed the world by the throat and had our way with it.

Hillary flatters us endlessly, Obama gives us long, moony, “Endless Love” gazes, and John charms our socks off. But which of these courtly callers will make us feel like our old virile, bossy selves again? The candidate who can soothe our egos, woo us out of this self-hating stupor and make us feel strong and special again will win the big prize!

She’s absolutely right. The ’08 election isn’t going to be about the Second Gulf War and occupation of Iraq or the economy stupid or the destruction of the Constitution or the general mess the Bush presidency has made of America and its wholesale violation of American values for the sake of enriching the already rich. It isn’t going to be about who has the best plan to clean up the mess or is the most likely to restore our rights or has the stones to put the corporatocracy in its place.

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Lessons Learned Backwards

Mike Luckovich


FOIA Requests Denied Because Agency “Isn’t an Agency”

I should have known this was coming. Really.

Given that so far VP Cheney has gotten away with claiming he doesn’t have to obey Congress because he isn’t a member of the Executive Branch, we should have realized that it was only a matter of time before the Administration started arguing that other govt agencies don’t have to obey the law because they’re not technically govt agencies.

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Why You Can’t Always Define Democrats By Their Votes

Somebody claiming to be Glenn Greenwald (a stretch) left a comment to yesterday’s post on our imperial Democrats that consisted of a series of questions.

How did the Imperialist, Carl Levin. vote on the war in the first place?

How did he vote on the FISA bill?

How did he vote on the Military Commissions Act?

How did Republicans vote on those matters?

The person claiming to be Greenwald didn’t explain the purpose of the questions or even why s/he thought they were relevant but my assumption of what the questions were meant to suggest – that how Levin voted on FISA, the MCA, and the war is somehow related to my characterization of his comments – leads nicely into a post I’d planned to write anyway, if a little later on. Might as well do it now, eh?

I doubt that the real Mr Greenwald is a political junkie of the kind who counts votes and tracks precincts but much of the policy wonkism and commentary from the left blogosphere emanates from such people because they believe – in most cases accurately – that the way politicians vote defines their beliefs and identifies the issues they support, or don’t. Unfortunately, it often isn’t that easy, especially with Democrats. In fact, political junkies immersed in the minutiae of day-to-day legislating can – and do – miss the Big Picture, effectively unable to see the forest for the trees.

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Imperial Democrats and the Gullible Left

I like Glenn Greenwald and consider his Salon blog a Must-Read most days but his insistent refusal to accept the deliberate nature of right-wing pundit fantasizing has become annoying and his benefit-of-the-doubt criticisms of the MSM and Democratic inactivity may be downright dangerous. Fortunately, his readers aren’t as backward as he is.

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Imperial Democrats: Levin v Maliki

Powerful Democratic Sen Carl Levin, Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has become the first openly imperial Democrat by assuming that he has the right to tell Iraq what to do with its government.

Declaring the government of Iraq “non-functional,” the influential chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said yesterday that Iraq’s parliament should oust Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his cabinet if they are unable to forge a political compromise with rival factions in a matter of days.

“I hope the parliament will vote the Maliki government out of office and will have the wisdom to replace it with a less sectarian and more unifying prime minister and government,” Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) said after a three-day trip to Iraq and Jordan.

Levin’s statement, the most forceful call for leadership change in Iraq from a U.S. elected official, comes as about two dozen lawmakers are traveling to Iraq during Congress’s August break to glean firsthand assessments before receiving a progress report next month from Gen. David H. Petraeus, the U.S. commander there, and Ryan C. Crocker, the U.S. ambassador.

Levin’s comments show just how deeply the Democratic leadership has internalized the foreign policy establishment’s unquestioning acceptance of the fundamental neoconservative belief that the US is and ought to be an imperial power, complete with satraps and client states. It seems not to have occurred to him that Iraq’s internal politics are none of his business.

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The President’s Priorities

The President of the United States, the most powerful nation in the world and a man so intellectually vapid that he has to have one-sentence summaries of newspaper stories about Iraq or his corrupt Atty General fed to him, predigested – like a mama-bird vomiting into a chick’s open beak – by underlings because he can’t be bothered to read them himself, does, apparently, read newspapers after all.

The fashion news.

He was so ticked off when Austin American-Statesman fashion reporter Marques Harper hinted that his wardrobe on vacation showed him to be a dude that he had Press Secretary Dana Perino call her to tell her how unhappy he was with her description.

Harper wrote: “The president has two distinct looks when he’s in Texas: the ranch-hand man and the crisp appearance of a ranch owner. In recent months, with his sliding popularity, he’s opted to look more like ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ than a sweaty, tough ranch hand.” In the piece, an image consultant offered that Bush needed to “step it up” to keep his “bravado image” on the ranch.

“It was a piece that looked at his ranch wear at Crawford over the years,” Harper told us yesterday. “It was a fun piece. Here in Austin, I got e-mails saying, ‘That was the dumbest story I ever read.’ ”

No laughing matter for the president, who apparently was offended that anyone would think he just dresses like a real rancher. After clearing all that brush? Never!

You can’t get the Emperor to care about sick kids who don’t have health insurance because, after all, they can always overload the hospital system by going to the emergency room, but when it comes to his image he can get his knickers in a real knot when a fashion reporter thoughtlessly takes note that his phony rancher act is, well, a phony rancher act.

Beyond embarrassing.

Max Roach Passes Into Jazz History

Max Roach, one of the giants of modern jazz, a guy who belongs right up there with the greatest of the great but isn’t nearly as well known, died Wednesday at the ripe age of 83. Considering the odds against him, that long life was a signal achievement all its own.

No modern drummer – and maybe no jazz drummer ever – has had such an enormous effect on the future course of his art. Max changed forever the way we think about drummers and to an extent the way we think about rhythm. He was the first to blend traditional African drumming with the quirky time signatures and signature changes of Stravinsky and Bartok, and one of the first (along with Mingus and Monk) to see jazz as the potential equal of the deepest and most complex music being written by modern classical composers.

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Bush Fired Rummy?

Although this seems to have slid by unnoticed, last night during Billy Kristol’s interview with Jon Stewart, he made the rather shocking statement – flatly, as if everyone knew it was a fact – that Bush fired Donald Rumsfeld. WTF? Listen for thyself. Relevant explanations, speculations, and hallucinations encouraged.

Authoritarian Democrats 5: The Foreign Policy Establishment

I hinted at the end of AD3 that the fact that Democrats have bought into the absurd right-wing fiction that Islamic fundamentalists are actually in a position to threaten the US is connected to their betrayal of the Constitution on the FISA vote. That needs some explanation, and by a weird co-incidence Glenn Greenwald wrote a post today that helps make it.

Glenn has been criticizing the foreign policy establishment lately for its unwavering determination to make wars legitimate policy options even when supporting them, never mind advocating for them, makes no sense. When Duncan Black (Atrios to you) criticized DLC stalwart and eager Iraq war supporter Will Marshall for calling himself a liberal and asked why Democratic hawks in general shouldn’t be “considered discredited and shunned”, the Brookings Institution’s Michael Cohen – also a putative liberal – leapt to Marshall’s defense.

In the course of defending the credibility of Democratic war proponents, Cohen says this:

Surely, a defensible case for war does not mean that we should have necessarily gone to war. It’s a view that I share. There is a good argument to be made for going to war against Iran and North Korea — that doesn’t mean we should do it.

Just marvel at that. Not only, according to this Democratic foreign policy expert, were there “good arguments” for attacking and invading Iraq (a country which neither attacked nor threatened to attack us), there are also now what Cohen calls “good arguments” for starting wars against two more countries (at least) that have also not attacked us (or anyone else for that matter). And this is not Bill Kristol talking — at least not here. Rather, it is the view of someone who not only works within the Democratic Party foreign policy establishment, but — like the Brookings Institution — is situated on the so-called “liberal” end of the spectrum (Cohen worked for Bill Richardson and Chris Dodd, among others).

(emphasis in the original)

Greenwald’s point concerns the foreign policy establishment in general.

The Number One Rule of the bi-partisan Foreign Policy Community is that America has the right to invade and attack other countries at will because American power is inherently good and our role in the world is to rule it though the use of superior military force. Paying homage to that imperialistic orthodoxy is a non-negotiable pre-requisite to maintaining Good Standing and Seriousness Credentials within the Foreign Policy Community.

Conversely, one who denies that premise reveals oneself to be deeply unserious and unworthy of meaningful discourse. While differences on the “when” and “how” are permitted, there is virtually no debate within the foreign policy establishment about whether the U.S. has the right to continue to intervene and attack and invade and occupy other countries in the absence of those countries attacking us.

But in the process, he notes that the Democratic party establishment, through the DLC, is just as blindly tied into the neocon world view espoused by the FPE as the Republicans are. This makes sense for the Pubs since they are, after all, the ones who created the imperial bias which is the FPE’s foundational belief – that on which all else is built. It only makes sense for the Dems, though, if they’ve accepted – as an institution – the Pub vision of the US as an empire with the unquestioned and unquestionable right “to invade and attack other countries at will”. Evidence suggests that’s precisely what they’ve done.

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Calling it Quits and Other Scams

Ex-Wisconsin Gov Tommy Thompson has ended his quixotic bid to be president, which is going to come as a shock to those of you who didn’t know he was running. Poor Tommy. He couldn’t even get his dog to take him seriously.

On a lighter note, Karl Rove has become the latest in a slew of escapists to bail out of the Bush Administration one step ahead of a subpoena. Best Post Title Award goes to cul heath of ratboy’s anvil, who sums it up nicely.


Tony Auth


Jim Borgman

In other significant news:

The Washington Post devotes three precious pages of yesterday’s Business section to the importance of upscale grocery stores to the economy.

Linda Chavez proves once again that Republican gullibility is, to all intents and purposes, a bottomless pit.

Giant Bluefin tuna near extinction thanks to Bush policies deregulating commercial fishing.

Musical chairs CEO game continues as Chrysler hires fired and disgraced ex-Home Depot CEO Robert Nardelli as its new chief. If he does for them what he did for HD, Chrysler will be bankrupt in 6 months and Nardelli will walk away with yet another record-breaking severence package.

Google allows corporate shills to counter negative news stories with positive propaganda.

Bush privatization drive stymied by renegade EEOC.

Obama v Madison on Impeachment

Darrin Bell (click pic to enlarge)


Authoritarian Democrats 4: Why

Mike Luckovich