Sunday, October 31, 2010

Jon Stewart's message

About how cable news is fundamentally incapable of informed and informative debate ...is apparently at least three times as popular as Glenn Beck's message that Obama is the anti-Christ new Stalin, or whatever. Too bad that reality isn't reflected in the mainstream agenda-setting Republican media or by Republican candidates. Very much like the fact that most Americans, for decades now, want universal single payer healthcare, an increase in the minimum wage to make it "liveable," progressive taxation for millionaires and billionaires, and so many things...

So I canvassed today for Patsy Keever, a genuine progressive, for five hours, despite hangover and bank account screaming for priority attention.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Last word on the 2010 BP Macondo Oil Well Blowout Gulf of Mexico Atrocity

Don't expect to read about it on The Oil Drum:

There is a flood of information coming out on the Gulf oil spill.

Why?

The reappearance of huge plumes of oil is making it hard to pretend that it has all gone away.

Here’s a roundup of some of the Gulf oil headlines from just the last 4 days

(via Digby)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Blanket cynicism and opting out

I fully agree. Sitting this one out is just not an option for self-respecting Progressives; vote Democrat. Better yet, volunteer, and donate. We are. And here's why.

Last word on the 2010 BP Macondo Well Blowout Gulf of Mexico Atrocity

The Spill airs this evening on PBS. After which BP will need to buy some more face-saving ads.

...Proof having surfaced recently that just like The Koch brothers and Home Depot, BP is all up in the same mix funding climate change-denying Tea Baggers.

It's a Political Corporation Not a Party

Digby has been all over this story from the beginning:

...Tea Partiers [are just] "end users." They are being sold a product using some very sophisticated marketing methods.


If you are not scared for the future, or taking these evil people seriously yet, you certainly should be.

This morning Matt Taibbi talks with this (sadly insufferable) fellow:




As should be no surprise for a billionaire-funded "movement" with deep historical roots in hatred and bigotry, freedom of speech for some Rand Paul supporters is apparently anything but a universal right. Still waiting for Rand Paul's own personal denunciation of such unwarranted violence...and police are still trying to identify these two men:






Update: As digby says, there is something of a "common mentality" among Rand Paul fans, but don't expect the MSM to be investigating it, these days...

Update II
: The man is facing a criminal summons, and it turns out the attack on the Moveon member was premeditated. Also, Tim Profitt is not just some random tea bagger, but a close friend of Rand Paul's campaign (as I suspected, looking at that fancy shirt and "working man" uniform, complete with sticker-covered tape measure...self-important "crowd control" Chief Tape Measure may need to learn some anger management...right after court):



Update: It happens again.

Incidentally, there's a cure for curb-stomping.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dangerous Times, part two

"What are the true stakes?"

Marco Roth, calling a spade a spade in an essay entitled "Caucasian Nation." Seriously, to hell with the uncritical and fake "moderation" of mainstream-encouraged false equivalencies...Jon Stewart saying of the Tea Baggers Partiers "of course they're not racists" and so on). False equivalencies only work for a discourse taking place already inside power, and accepting of that power (as both singular and universal). On a fake news show desperate not to seriously confront a celebrity politician, for example.

The truth is that however facilely smoothed out or assimilated or glossed over by what we mistakenly call "polite" discourse they are, these slippery prejudicial roots (of the "Tea Party" or whatever) run deep, implicate us all, and are legitimately dangerous particularly when dignified, inflamed and exploited for an ever-growing elite benefit. Where is the proud American tradition of warnings from historians? Where is the long view? Not on many blogs...The truth is that we are all racists; it's impossible not to be. Acknowledging so is only the first step–albeit a crucial one–in fighting back against it.

Marco Roth:
....To say that the Republican Party these days stands for white ethno-nationalism is not an op-ed exaggeration or Washington parlor-game witticism on par with Jonah Goldberg’s deliberately thought-annihilating oxymoron “Liberal Fascism.”

[...]

The robust case for dominating other people sounds awful to most American ears today. So the contemporary idea of ethnocracy relies instead on an opposite rhetoric of victimization. The simple-minded mantra we’re taught in grade school goes like this: blacks good because oppressed, whites bad because oppressors. So if whites suddenly became oppressed, even while remaining the majority, they would magically become good again. Many Americans are now being taught to think this way.

The manufactured controversy over lower Manhattan’s Cordoba House Islamic center offers one more example of how the contemporary right seizes on a trivial event to create a false choice between ethnic minority and majority, in which the majority emerges — an increasingly familiar surprise — as terrorized victim. There is no dispute that both American common-law traditions of liberty of conscience and the First Amendment protect the construction of the center, regardless of its popularity. It shouldn’t be a big deal. And yet: “Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate,” tweeted Sarah Palin, white goddess of the victimization movement. This opening salvo was later amended, with little more grammatical success, to “Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real.” The idea that 9/11 somehow taints all of Islam, so that all Muslims should be honor-bound not to practice their religion within an unspecified radius of Ground Zero for fear of hurting other people’s feelings — this is like the blood libel meets Oprah.

[...]

In a late interview by turns confessional and triumphant, Lee Atwater, author of the strategy that turned the solidly Democratic, racist South into the solidly Republican, racist South, described the Southern Strategy’s metamorphosis over the years, “You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘nigger’ — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is blacks get hurt worse than whites.” Partly through [Lee] Atwater, Republicans developed a kind of reverse means test, an economic version of the old “one-drop rule.” Policies that were likely to help blacks, even if they were also likely to help poor whites, because they were policies largely designed to help the poor, regardless of color, became issues to campaign against: welfare, health care, federal education funding, progressive taxation, clean air regulations, funding for public transportation, just about any “progressive policy” you can think of. Some whites would be hurt, but blacks would be hurt worse.

[...]

It’s ancient history, after all — 1787, 1857, 1865, or 1968. Yet the Tea Partiers, by their name alone, have chosen to steep themselves in that history. This too is bad conscience, pomo evasiveness, an assault on national memory, and yet another ploy to claim victimhood by playing dress-up. Good ol’ Americana from our “good” revolution covers, like a creeping vine, the more relevant foundations of today’s American right. The ideology of states’ rights against federal enforcement, the metastasized right to bear arms, the fear of “big government” intervention — these were the pillars on which the Confederate and later segregationist South sought to erect a white plantation nation. The use to which these ideas were put in the American past forever taints their invocation, as it rightly should.

[...]

As of right now, there exists no serious strategy to combat this new bigotry. The Democratic leadership appears content to hope that once these radical Republican race-baiters take control of Congress after the midterm elections, the ordinary responsibilities and realities of power will force them to abandon the strategies they used to obtain power. That is, after all, what the Democrats do. The activist left, marginalized by the centrist Democratic party yet always hoping to be led by it, never imagined that they’d have to refight political racism, and so failed to try to force Republican bigots to defend their unacceptable rhetoric and even more unacceptable policies in the few neutral media venues that still exist....(read the entire article)


For my part, I submit that there is no singular example of such ancient "victim" rhetoric–a partial history only of which is traced above–more nauseating than that of multi-billionaires David and Charles Koch. For the richest resident of New York City (and the 24th richest person in the world) to cry about his suffering at the hands of "big government" in times like these, and not only that but to fund a series of related hate-and-lies-fueled astroturf organizations and activist groups to further destroy all that remains of equality in social and civil decency and economic opportunity in this country for the vast majority of its citizens is just, well, historically shameless. Which is of course largely why they are admired and so widely followed; Obama or any aspiring leaders should take note.)

One can only assume such an essay will ignite time bombs of irrelevant response, insinuative ad hominem and "reasonably" classist gestures complete with an undertow of wounded puppy-licking all over the remaining dregs of "respectable" "conservative" intellectual-veneer land.

Cry us a river. I'm sure David Koch will be able to pay for yet another self-aggrandizing advertising blitz full of quarter truths, and regardless of whether you flatter him enough, continue writing fat checks to dishonest "movements." (After all they have big plans for their own class enrichment.) Trust me, Koch Industries does not really care about your freedom.

Dangerous Times

Read this post.

And here's to fighting harder than ever to keep the Democrats from moving "to the center."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Debunking the Iraq "Surge Victory" Myth, again

Andrew Sullivan has a good post up. This American Life is even better (which isn't hard, granted, when it comes to Andrew Sullivan).

The Unhealthy Influence of Multibillionaires David and Charles Koch

"Promoting prosperity" and "free societies" my ass. Not for you, anyway.

These guys are truly shameless, crying victim when the entire world economy just nearly went into cardiac arrest directly because of such corrupting libertarian policies. Not to mention that after three decades of compounding corporate welfare:

One out of every 34 Americans who earned wages in 2008 earned absolutely nothing -- not one cent -- in 2009.

It's not just every 34th earner whose financial situation has been upended by the financial crisis. Average wages, median wages, and total wages have all declined -- except at the very top, where they leaped dramatically, increasing five-fold....

...those that remained at the top increased their income from an average of $91.2 million in 2008 to almost $519 million.

The wealth is astounding, says Johnston. "That's nearly $10 million in weekly pay!... These 74 people made as much as the 19 million lowest-paid people in America, who constitute one in every eight workers."

Johston sees the depressing figures as a result of government tax policies maintained by politicians with an eye on re-election, not good government:


"Promoting prosperity" for themselves, at your expense, multibillionaire astroturf style, AmericansForProsperity, FreedomWorks, AmericanCrossRoads, AmericansForJobSecurity....these cynical efforts are so effective in part because there is no strong Democratic counterbalance. As the netroots have been proving for the last several years or even longer, it is past time for the Democrats to stop fighting their Progressive base and running to the corporate center. After "Citizens United" corrupt Blue Dog Democrats are becoming obsolete. The criminally rich can get their grimy hands on power through Republicans, and real Democrats will never win against such cynicism by playing at it only half the time.

Crucial light is finally being shed on these particular two dishonest and profoundly anti-democratic right-wing extremist "philanthropists" (having been known to throw what amounts to chump change for them around in places they are fond of)...compiled here in case you missed the story so far of the real David and Charles Koch:

Tea Party, Inc.

The New Yorker: Covert Operations: The Billionaire Koch Brothers are Waging a War Against Obama

GreenPeace: Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine

Astroturfwars.com: Direct Link Between Tea Party and Koch Brothers

Truthout: Two Multibillionaire Brothers Are Remaking America For Their Own Benefit

The New York Times: Secretive Republican Donors are Planning Ahead

The New York Times: The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party




(And just for "balance" here is the idle and extraneous defense, replete with self-interest, at The Volokh Conspiracy. Thank dear God for someone commenting named "MAM"):

MAM says:

The Kochs have every right to use their money how they wish. However, that they have sponsored, many secretly, some right and far right organizations for decades, however, can reasonably be subject to the criticism that such influence is not healthy for a democracy and should be brought to light. This was a report by a reporter. One might take issue with her conclusions but, as I read the piece, I thought it made a strong argument that the Koch’s, behind the scenes, funded a movement from whole cloth, by writing checks. And they, through affiliated organizations, were wildly successful in a campaign of disinformation and lies from health care to who knows. The story also showed that they began a campaign to discredit the President and his policies before he was even inaugurated. That a massive corporate interest by some of the wealthiest Americans was orchestrated before even one decision was made, is quite newsworthy. Mayer’s piece is actually quite tame.

Mayer has done a service by bringing the backers of these “grassroots organizations” to light. Overall, her piece was very good in that regard.

Let the sunlight shine on these organizations that have played such a role in our politics.

I didn’t read her article to say that their self-interest was wrong or that something should be done about it. What I gathered from it was that their network of right wing and far right wing sponsorship was vast and that what was portrayed as grassroots movement was largely orchestrated by two billionaires.

Sorry guys but that’s good reporting.
August 31, 2010, 4:51 pm








I mean, just check out the integrity and honesty of this "movement":



As long as this man works for President Obama, consider me an Obama Democrat. The clever Koch brothers think they own this country (they certainly have big plans). They are profoundly mistaken.

And they ought to be deeply ashamed of the monster they have deliberately unleashed.

Eat the Press, Wikileaks, Inside Job, Republicans deeply corrupt, anti-American tools of international billionaires, judging Obama

Update: And of course there is the Sunday Talking Heads column up at Huffington, for those who want a fun reminder, what complete inanity passes for "serious" national political discourse in this country.



Anyone not currently reading A Tiny Revolution certainly should be...see this post, this post and this post. Or Digby, for that matter...you can't do much better for smart counter-commentary, though it gets depressing fast.

Oh, and here's one from Crooked Timber (much more here, and on DemocracryNow with Daniel Ellsberg).

And welcome to the Republican fantasyland of unlimited, secret campaign donations: thy name is corruption. I just gave more money to Jack Conway, Russ Feingold, Peter DeFazio, Ann Kuster and Alan Grayson through ActBlue...did you?

More GRITtv

Last word on the 2010 BP Macondo Well Blowout Gulf of Mexico Atrocity


Apparently calm weather is creating oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico:

Boat captains working the BP clean-up effort said they have been reporting large areas of surface oil off the delta for more than a week but have seen little response from BP or the Coast Guard, which is in charge of the clean-up.

[...]

On Friday reports included accounts of strips of the heavily weathered orange oil that became a signature image of the spill during the summer. One captain said some strips were as much as 400 feet wide and a mile long.

The captains did not want to be named for fear of losing their clean-up jobs with BP.

[...]


"...when the weather calms and the water temperatures changes, the oil particles that have spread along the bottom will recoagulate, then float to the surface again and form these large mats."

Overton said it is important for the state to discover the mechanism that is causing the oil to reappear because even this highly weathered oil poses a serious threat to the coastal ecology.

"If this was tar balls floating around, that would be one thing, but these reports are of mats of weathered oil, and that can cause serious problems if it gets into the marsh," he said


(Part of a continuing, mockingly-titled "last word" series.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Koch Industries

Criminal assholes busy defending their tens of billions, using gullible ordinary Americans as their props:
Charles Koch, whose wealth Forbes magazine calculates at about $21.5 billion, argues in his letter that “prosperity is under attack by the current administration and many of our elected officials.” He repeatedly warns about the “internal assault” and “unrelenting attacks” on freedom and prosperity. A brochure with the invitation underscores that to the Koch network, “freedom” means freedom from taxes and government regulation. Mr. Koch warns of policies that “threaten to erode our economic freedom and transfer vast sums of money to the state.”


Never mind that most of the people their "grassroots" billions target don't have much prosperity, comparatively, to begin with. They're out of work, or on Medicare, distracted easily by specters of immigrants, Muslims and gays, deeply frustrated by and yet in profound denial about their own very real lack of economic power, and so make easy targets for seductive rich agendas veiled in language about universal "freedom."

For much, much more on Charles and David Koch's unhealthy influence, see here.

The Hipster

N+1's foray into the trampled fire pit circle of hipster-critique is by far the most well-toned, rigorous and funny, intellectually important contribution to date. Appropriate, too, as Mark Greif says in his preface:

A number of people have sniggered–non-participants and participants both (you'll hear their teasing in the debate transcript)–at the idea of n+1, "a journal of literature, intellect, and politics" founded in New York in 2004 (and physically produced in the hipster neighborhoods of the Lower East Side and then Dumbo), initiating a highbrow discussion of hipsters. Partly the challenge is that the topic seems too stupid and demeaning. One of our readers emailed us as soon as the panel was announced, to say: "Is this a joke? If it isn't, that's very, very sad." For others, the trouble was that it was too much like us–this challenge is one of what the sociologist would call "inadequate reflexivity." The charge is that n+1 is itself a hipster journal, and molded by the same social forces. I think the former is false, the latter true. The hipster represents, in a deep way, a tendency we founded the magazine to combat; yet he exists on our ground, in our neighborhood and particular world, and is an intimate enemy–also a danger and temptation.

[...] The hipster represents what can happen to middle class white, particularly, and to all elites, generally, when they focus on the struggles for their own pleasures and luxuries–seeing these as daring and confrontational–rather than asking what makes their sort of people entitled to them, who else suffers for their pleasures, and where their "rebellion" adjoins social struggles that should obligate anybody who hates authority.

Or worse, the hipster is the subcultural type generated by neoliberalism, that infamous tendency of our time to privatize public goods and make an upward redistribution of wealth. Hipster values exalt political reaction, masquerading as rebellion, behind the mask of "vice" (a hipster keyword). Hipster art and thought, where they exist, to often champion repetition and childhood, primitivism and plush animal masks. and hipster anti-authoritarianism bespeaks a ruse by which the middle-class young can forgive themselves for abandoning the claims of counterculture–whether punk, anti-capitalist, anarchist, nerdy or '60s–while retaining the coolness of subculture. It risks turning future avant-gardes into communities of "early-adopters."



The Guardian has more.

Or, looking back, and deeply ironic coming from AdBusters (that magazine practicing intentional ignorance of class, convinced the coming revolution will first and foremost be "aesthetic") back in 2008:
Hipsterdom is the first "counterculture" to be born under the advertising industry’s microscope, leaving it open to constant manipulation but also forcing its participants to continually shift their interests and affiliations. Less a subculture, the hipster is a consumer group – using their capital to purchase empty authenticity and rebellion. But the moment a trend, band, sound, style or feeling gains too much exposure, it is suddenly looked upon with disdain. Hipsters cannot afford to maintain any cultural loyalties or affiliations for fear they will lose relevance.

An amalgamation of its own history, the youth of the West are left with consuming cool rather that creating it. The cultural zeitgeists of the past have always been sparked by furious indignation and are reactionary movements. But the hipster’s self-involved and isolated maintenance does nothing to feed cultural evolution. Western civilization’s well has run dry.


It goes without saying, N+1's new symposium is less pessimistic than all that, in that it ultimately aims (with a healthy dose of self-awareness and humor) to empower, by way of "seeing things more clearly."

If anyone would like a free copy, please send me an email. (Update: All gone; thanks everyone.)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Boredom, DFW

Old news in blogospheric time (as if I any longer cared)...but it was good listening to the show, "To the Best of our Knowledge" on David Foster Wallace's life, death and (new) work. The best Modernists, literary and philosophic, will always have been certain patient and close readers often dismissively lumped in with the worst "Postmodernists" by those who haven't done the work of reading them.

Reclaimed Wood: Giving shop scraps new form and function






And some new...kiln-dried ambrosia maple slab from Peter Tenant at Bee Tree Hardwoods:




Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Koch Brothers, Chamber of Commerce and other Anti-Democratic Pieces of Shit

Update: Astroturf Wars is essential viewing for anyone still believing in fake populism of The Tea Party.

As for the DC Chamber of Commerce being a corrupting influence, well...old news as well for anybody paying attention, or bothering to ask ThinkProgress, though you wouldn't know it by watching cable "news". Update: Digby has more.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
(C) Spot Run!
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity


Also: Memo to NPR: There is no such thing as "objectivity" in mass media these days, and the right-wing nuts will never give you any credit for trying regardless.

Update III: The strong link between the billionaire Koch brothers (of corporate behemoth Koch Industries and global-warming-denying, health-insurance-company-defending "Americans for Prosperity" assholery) and the delusional self-advertising "grassroots" "Tea Baggers" has now been proven. David and Charles Koch are a dangerous pack of liars...See for yourself.






Help the Netroots Defeat Virginia Foxx (R-Crazystan)

The Democrat establishment won't do it, so we have to. Billy Kennedy was just endorsed by the normally right-leaning local paper of record (and can actually win with your help):

In fact, the major newspaper of the district, the Winston-Salem Journal, which normally endorses Republicans, came out for Kennedy this past week-end and made a very good case for his election:

U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, a Republican from Watauga County, has not achieved any great accomplishments for the residents of the 5th Congressional District, and has angered and embarrassed many with her sometimes wild statements that seem designed to provoke. It’s time for a fresh, progressive voice in the 5th District. We believe that Democrat Billy Kennedy, a Watauga farmer and carpenter who says he’ll work to reverse the high rate of unemployment in the district, is that voice. He’s the best candidate in the Nov. 2 election for the 5th District.

“I’d like to make Congress work,” Kennedy, 52, recently told the Journal. “I believe with the bickering going on, they’re not solving problems.”

We endorsed Foxx, 67, in the Republican primary as she ran against an opponent less qualified than Kennedy. Her constituent service is strong, we noted, and we’ve occasionally praised her on this page, as when she sponsored a bill that tweaked the federal tax code so that troops stationed overseas can invest their income in individual retirement accounts.

While fiscal conservatism is good, Foxx, who is finishing her third term, has been too tight with the federal purse strings. For example, she does not support the Blue Ridge Parkway Protection Act, which would allocate $75 million over the next five years to preserve land along the parkway. Foxx has said she’d normally support such a measure, but not in the current economic times. But the parkway, a major cash cow of the state’s tourism industry, brings in more money in a single year-- $2.1 billion dollars, through 17 million visitors-- than the cost of the entire act. U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican who also touts fiscal conservatism, realized that when he crossed the aisle to sponsor the protection act with Sen. Kay Hagan.

Then there are Foxx’ statements, which reflect a viewpoint far to the right of many of her constituents. Foxx, a former college educator and graduate of UNC Chapel Hill and UNC Greensboro, said on the House floor in January that the federal government “should not be funding education.”

Last November, she said on the floor that “I believe that the greatest fear that we all should have ... to our freedom comes from this room, this very room, and what may happen later this week in terms of a tax-increase bill masquerading as a health-care bill. I believe we have more to fear from the potential of that bill passing than we do from any terrorist right now in any country.” (In July of 2009, she had said the Republican version of the health-care plan is “pro-life because it will not put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government.”)

In April 2009, she suggested to students at North Surry High School that tobacco was no worse than Mountain Dew. That same month, she said on the House floor that it was a “hoax” that Matthew Shepard’s 1998 killing in Wyoming had anything to do with him being gay...(read the rest)

On Gitmo "justice" meanwhile, apparently Bush/Cheney are still President

The Obama Justice Department has apparently been secretly forcing judges to re-write their opinions (for the public record) in Guantanamo cases...changing small things like the fact certain witnesses were diagnosed by our own military as "dangerously psychotic," or the country and date and conditions of others' apprehension...you know, small details...to make people they intend to hold indefinitely look more dangerous. No wonder they prefer to keep these things secret, it's all a load of crap!





(link to ProPublica article via this morning's DemocracyNow).

Third World America, indeed.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Compare and Contrast

Any halfway politically-conscious American not actively volunteering, donating, phonebanking, canvassing etc. right now for real democrats (we absolutely are, and more than is financially prudent) frankly does not deserve the liberties allowing them to complain on their blog the next 10 years.

A recent interview with Obama, who deserves both continued, elevated pressure from Progressives (we must continue to own this movement), and a lot of credit.


Act Blue

Bold Progressives (PCCC)

The alternative spells the same old Republican-style economic ruin for an entire country of hard-working people, among other things:

Thursday, October 07, 2010

John McCain's true (utter lack of) character

In case the last Rolling Stone exposé was not enough to convince conservatives what a pansy opportunist, unprincipled shmuck was John McCain....now there's another one in Vanity Fair.

At least he helped bring Democrats the gift of Tea-Baggers...

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Art in the Park




After monumental effort, last weekend was one of my most successful shows ever. Looking forward to this Saturday (if not the work required...25 blocks in the next three days...ugh).

Monday, October 04, 2010

Dear God, Vote Democrat

Now more than ever.

Etc.

Never Give A Inch

This literary article caught my attention (courtesy of wood s lot), as we were comparing ourselves to the characters in the film rendition of that great novel, recently...







This song plays in my head, watching from a distance and thinking about our pond in Vermont...currently being dug out and made new after 50 years of semi-neglect.