Friday, January 22, 2010
I like the Captain's thoughts on the Supreme Court decision, and I urge you to read them as an antidote to the general caterwauling about how deeply, deeply unfair it is to the Donk that Corporate America can now presumably spend freely on elections, despite the fact that Corporate America has long been perfectly happy to support saps, or sops, like Barry O.
I think it is generally fair to say that we're going to continue in the Roman mold for the forseeable future, evolving into a complex system of contingent rights and privileges for various classes of persons and organizations.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Barack Obama speaks to Mr. Snuffleupagus.
I hope everyone had a happy and prosperous Scott Brown Day!
Everyone was a winner in our celebratory rounds here at Who Is IOZ?! But Tyler DiPietro, who has a blurgh about math-uhhhhmm-matics, deserves plaudits for pointing us to an hilarious Donk blog that we too often neglect, Pandagon, erstwhile home of L'Ezra Klein, current cavern of one Amanda Marcotte, who opines:
[W]hen Democrats are ineffectual, Republicans win. Not because of switch voters, but because the Democratic base gets demoralized.Caveat! I have in the past been guilty of calling AMERICA! an idiot stepchild and American citizens a murder of morons, porcine and complacent, sated with cheap goods and lousy entertainment, an embarrassment of bad manners and mediocrity, the most distressingly backward global hegemon since, well, the British. That said, I am no defender of democracy. I regard it warily. I cross to the other side of the street when it approaches in its baggy pants and oversized tee-shirts. Not because I am prejudiced, mind you. Not a bone in my body! Just to be on the safe side. Just to hedge my bets.
Oh yeah, and because of swing voters. I don’t really think most American voters, Republican or Democratic, are stupid. Most vote their resentments or their hopes (Rs the former and Ds the latter, mostly), or their financial interests (tax cuts or social spending). But those people are pretty consistent voters. It’s the people who can swing an election that are dumb as bricks, and the Coakley campaign is a perfect example of this---it’s upsetting that you’re going to lose votes because of sports team affiliations, saying arrogant but kind of meaningless things, and other pointless mishaps. It’s frustrating that enough people to swing an election are motivated more by dumbfuck things like that rather than passing health care reform. But you know, Republicans and the good Democratic politicians are willing to sweep those votes up, and Coakley wasn’t, and the results were to be expected from that angle.
But Marcotte and the Gang, these are gals who believe. Believe in democracy. Believe in progress. Believe in America, its potential betterment, its perfectability. Also: in the inherent goodness and rightness of their plan, and since their own self-evident superiority is so . . . self-evident, any countervailing activity among the electorate must indicate some moral and intellectual failure on the part of the voters. Yes, the very foundation of our politics. Those fucking idiots.
What's interesting about her analysis is that it locates this moral imbecility solely in those voters who can be swayed by political campaigns. Party-line voters--Dems who pull the lever for vague hope; Goops who pull the lever for vague hate--are taken to be rational. Isn't adulthood, after all, little more than the solidification and cementing of cognitive biases? Those who waver, meanwhile, are damned fools, man-children, slobbering degenerates who cannot be trusted at the tiller of the ship of state.
Of course, had these voters chosen Madame Jokely, we would find Marcotte praising their sagacity. Yes, they may have wavered, but at last they came to understand that the GOP is jut the Party of NO and the Donk is gonna breathe life into the dust of health care. Obama is not a bought-and-sold corporate stooge. Though hemmed by institutional disfunction, the Dem congress is actually trying to get things done. And isn't that what we want? To get things done. To Govern! Lord, let us be governed. Forbid and forfend any pause in the increase of obligations and regulations.
Liberals were once fond of arguing that behind the patriotic gauze, Conservatives really hated America. They were always traducing its core, Constitutional values. It was a parochial but pithy observation that had, that has merit. On the other hand, liberals like Marcotte secretly despise the very system of representative government that they purport to venerate. They hate voters and think them ignorant. They believe in a sort of bowdlerized, near-universal false consciousness. They harp constantly on the poor fools who just don't know what's best for them, who are "dumb as bricks"! What an odd view of the best and noblest form of government, the highest development of human society yet to grace the Earth.
All together now on three. The food in this restaurant is terrible! And the portions! So small!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
The fundamental pact between a political party and its supporters is that the two groups believe the same thing and pledge to work on it together. And the Democratic base feels that it has held to its side of the bargain. It elected a Democratic majority and a Democratic president. It swallowed tough compromises on the issues it cared about most. It swallowed concessions to politicians it didn't like and industry groups it loathed. But it persisted. Because these things are important. That's why those voters believe in them. That's why they're Democrats.Ezra Klein is a you'll-pardon-the-expression heterosexual and so he may be unfamiliar with the old homosexual adage: if you persist in swallowing, you'll never get off your knees.
As a bit of more pertinent advice for our intrepid young commentari'ite, I offer this: when you come to understand that the fundamental pact is not between a political party and its supporters, but between the political parties and their supporters, all dis shit makes a lot more sense.
I guess Democrats really didn't realize that they would be held accountable if they got the reigns of complete power and were not transparent. Crap like buying off Ben Nelson's vote by bribing him with our money is insulting. The internet is just a tool of transparency, and no one, least of all the online progressives, has been fooled by the last year. The Republicans have come into our hometown and kicked our butt tonight. The Democrats have less than 10 months to start governing as a people-powered party, or they will lose both the House and the Senate.The what? The internet? So, because of The Internet laying bare the selective allocation of discretionary funds to states in order to secure the votes of legislators, Martha Jokely lost in Massawhosets? With our money. Yes, the foundations of the Republic are rocking. Yea, verily.
-Jerome Armstrong of MyDD
Someone should probably explain to Mister Armstrong that The Democrats are a "people-powered party." See below:
I cannot say this enough. The policy front speaks for itself. But the meta-politics is real. It's a big. But it's something Democrats have great difficulty with.The . . . the what? The meta-politics. What the fuck is that? I mean, it's like, it's uh, it's politics that's aware that it's politics? It's politics made conscious of its own artifice? Politics crafted to deal with its own politicsness? A screaming comes across the sky, you losers. Fin.
Haha! Yeah! I mean, without six hundred and forty-three votes in the Senate, how will the Democratic Party ever be able to further criminalize poverty? That shit is fucked.
In light of today's hilarious and wonderful MA election results, I command you, you fags and fagettes, to go forth into The Internet and return with the best and most preposterous Donk rearguard blog action. Post 'em to comments. I will be handing out blogroll additions, top-post shouts, and various and sundry other awards, praises, and commendations for your efforts. Gintilmin! Start! Yer. Ngiiiinnnnzzz!
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
When I worked at the Institute for Humane Studies, I argued that the Institute should try placing Koch Fellows in the bureaucracy and not just at think tanks. I didn’t convince anybody. I guess a state apparatus entirely innocent of moderating libertarian influence will eventually collapse under the pressure of its internal contradictions. Right?I must politely dissent, because I guess [ed. hope] the state apparatus will eventually collapse under exogenous pressures that the apparatus lacks the capacity to overcome, adapt to, or assimilate. Meanwhile, I think the authors of the Reason article that Will links are living in an amusingly counterfactual alternate history when they write:
Most liberals believe deeply in government. As a result, they sit on school boards, city councils, and regional planning boards. They become expert at navigating through the bureaucracy and know which bureaucratic levers to pull to make their policy vision reality.I would say instead that "conservatives and libertarians [...] from the world of business" like government just fine so long as it distributes resources in their direction, making them the same as liberals. These supposed "high-profile attempts to shrink government" were in reality bogus plots to achieve electoral dominance and encourage different modes of and targets for government subsidy. The "government shutdown" was a failed parliamentary maneuver--Clinton called a bluff, and Gingrich had a lousy hand. Imbuing internecine spats with substantive meaning about the nature of governance in America is foolish. All parties rail against the wasteful prerogatives of the other until they achieve majorities, at which point the same truth is always revealed: it is not the waste, but the prerogatives. And even these differ not so much these days.
Many conservatives and libertarians come from the world of business. They don’t particularly like government. They view it as merely a necessary evil. As a consequence, they rarely immerse themselves in the intricacies of governing, preferring to make their case from a safe distance.
Once in power, they tend to have far more difficulty navigating the complex terrain of the public sector. The result? From Ronald Reagan’s Grace Commission to the 1995 government shutdown by a GOP Congress, most high-profile attempts to shrink government fail.
Until small-government types better master the nuts and bolts of the public sector—how to design policies that work in the real world and how to execute on large public undertakings—their initiatives to downsize government will continue to disappoint.
The sincerety of opposition to so-called big government and government spending exists in inverse proportion to electoral success. Remember, you Romans: Julian failed.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Robert Samuelson, a relative nonentity who writes for the WaPo, must've called a friend and asked for a quick explanation of banker pay packages. His column is nuts and mostly backwards. It was in the olden days of staid bankers and brokerage houses that the main business and the salutary economic effect of what was not yet called "the finance industry" was the allocation of capital to actual industry. This remains the persistent defense of our bankmasters, but today's instatrade investment culture is not at all about moving capital into new industrial concerns; it's about hedging gazillions of tiny bets and pooling the hay-pennies per trade into massive amounts of wealth. It is parasitic and bubble-drive, purely speculative, and if you think that major banks still exist to finance the nation's industrial infrastructure, you'd do well to ask yourself which banks were solvent and able to lend ready-cash to, say, our automotive giants when they faltered.
For such a marginal school of politics, anarchy certainly seems to have insinuated itself globally. It is always breaking out, isn't it? After every man-made and natural disaster, the Times rushes in to warn about the dire consequences of a lack of law and order. Stories emanating from Haiti in the Anglophone press swiftly took up these important questions. Were there police? Had prisoners escaped from jail? Was there violence? There wasn't violence? Can we find some violence?
As "security fears mount in lawless post-earthquake Haiti," for instance, the intrepid reporters are unable to locate any problems with "security." They do manage two man-on-the-street, pull-quote interviews with men who have not been beset by crime, although the fellows do fear that is possible that there is a chance that they just might be at some point. The only so-called looting they manage to identify consists of starving people crawling through the rubble of groceries, seeking food. They throw in the obligatory references to the gangs of Cité Soleil--what Haiti story would be complete without this bit of local color--but refer to their activities in a past tense that speaks louder than an explicit admission: they could find no evidence of criminal violence in the aftermath of the quake. The closest that our reporters can find to civic unrest is a crowd of starving people gathering around the gates of an airport where they know supplies are being warehoused. Ah, but not distributed, and so out come the riot police!
The real story, plainly, is that ordinary people from all classes and walks of life are helping each other in whatever meager ways they can. Now the question arises: why write a thinly reported story about violence and criminality that do not presently exist? What is the larger tale being told? Who benefits?