Friday, October 24, 2008

Once a great man?

A friend of mine, a strong supporter of Obama from the get-go, referred to McCain as having been "Once a great man".

I respond thusly:

McCain was never a great man.

He wasn't the most evil person either, and he has some likeable qualities. I actually don't think he's mean-spirited. Like any national Republican candidate, he has to appeal to some fear-addled bigots in order to turn a minority of well-off people into an electoral majority, and in a way it's sad, though also justified, that he should be held responsible for their actions.

But in terms of his character, I think his latest appearance on Letterman summed it up for me.

McCain: "I screwed up."

This is what McCain has - the ability to say "I screwed up" endearingly. It endeared him to the mainstream press, who believed that his ability to say "I screwed up" endearingly indicated a truthfulness and high sense of honor and principle. And they proceeded to shower praise on him from 1999 until a few weeks ago, when they finally got fed up with being duped. They should have got fed up with themselves rather than him, but I digress.

That McCain can admit he was wrong when he gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar is, I suppose, a good thing, as these things go. The problem is he has said "I screwed up" far too many times. And I forgive him. But you don't put a screw-up in a position of authority. He hasn't changed. He's always been a screw-up. He's never had a strong moral compass or an ability to influence people around him to do the right thing*.

The pundits loved him because they're screw-ups too. And that woman that made up the story. Hoo boy, that was a major screw-up.

I'm just glad that it appears that this country might... just... NOT... screw up this election!

*By 'right thing' I mean any principled stand, regardless of where in the ideological spectrum it might fall.

Friday, October 10, 2008

big capitalists and their pawns

I think the big capitalists out there have always sought to influence government, since governments, especially democratic governments, can interfere with their plans by empowering the less well-off. This, to the wealthy capitalist, is the greatest injustice - those that have profited from the system are forced to give back (some) of their profits.

But it's a dangerous game. At the same time that they seek to avoid being controlled by government, they are also reliant on it - to maintain order, and to protect and legitimize their investments. A smart capitalist would realize that it is in their best interest to invest in the stability and long term viability of government, while at the same time trying to limit the government's ability to protect working class people from them.

Alas, no one ever said the capitalists were smart. Actually, people say that all the time. But when they get themselves a deregulation through their influence on government, the competetive advantage to them is limited, and brief. The rule change will apply accross the board, and other capitalists will (and yea, must) adjust to the new playing field.

The really smart ones play this cycle as well. Building up wealth during a huge, ill fated boom cycle, they sell at the right time and retain wealth while the rest of the systems collapse. They increase their power this way.

Political leaders that can appear populist but yet are too weak to actually be populist are the kind of political leaders these big capitalist players like. There are different kinds of populism. They hate the 'redistribution of wealth' kind of populism. They're okay with the kumbaya liberal 'love everybody' kind of populism. A lot of Democratic politicians are in this group. But the kind of faux-populist the big capitalist players really prefer is the religious, racist, sexist anti-government kind of faux-populist. Because this kind whips working class citizens up in a frenzy against other working class citizens, cutting their real power in half. Or in quarters.

Still, when the big capitalist players promote politicians like this, they are playing with fire. Sometimes, the politician is useful, but really, really crazy, and a little smarter than they thought. A person like this can really become a dictator and start exterminating people. Hitler is a good example of this. George W. Bush is not - he has that religious sort of populism, but he really doesn't care enough - about anything, I suspect. He's a perfect vessel. McCain is very similar actually. In terms of popular leadership power, he's impotent. But he gives the impression of being a populist - less religious and more 'straight talking fairness'. Bill Clinton was a liberal kumbaya sort of populist with a little bit of a wealth distribution streak, which freaked out the big capitalist players probably more than it should have. Clinton had no problem with the players keeping power. He just wanted the people to have a place at the table, to keep the system going smoothly without people getting hurt too badly. That's why he gets along with George H.W. Bush, who is a more conservative, Republican version of the same. Keep the system going, keep the players happy, keep the people happy enough not to revolt. Man, those players had it good under Clinton. But they couldn't stand it. They wanted more. They are sick, sick people - not really smart, with a self-destructive addiction to wealth.

They wanted more, and they got it with George W. Bush. And now, the system teeters on the brink of collapse, with all but the richest and most entrenched big capitalist players in peril of losing everything. And now, I think, they're split - do we go with the moderate democrat, let the system correct, and mitigate the damage? Or do we go for another one we can control, and keep the scheme going further with more outlandish governmental malfeasance?

Obama is the former, McCain/Palin is the latter. It is scary enough to think of McCain and Palin winning, and the consequences of that. But to me, the thing that is scarier still is the prostpect of Palin becoming President.

I think she may be more than those big capitalist powers can handle. She's got an ideological, religious, dominionist streak, and I think she really believes it. She might be able to outmanuever them and actually implement her radical, apocalyptic agenda.

There are some that think that the Bush administration will, in the end, not cede power - that they will invent or take advantage of a phony or semi-phony crisis to remain and become true dictators. I don't think so. It's always been the Bush way to drive a company or organization into the ground and then jump ship. I think they mis-timed it a little, but I think that's what they're going to do. The treasury is looted, the oil companies are flush with cash. The cheap oil is at least somewhat under our control. The job is done.

Palin on the other hand.... She ain't lazy like Bush. And she isn't a child of the big capitalist players or their friendly politicians. She's a whole 'nother animal. She's more like Cheney, except Cheney isn't religious. I think, potentially a President Palin could become a dictator Palin, complete with military misadventures and bad times for non-believers in the Christian Dominionist thing. I'm not saying she necessarily could or would do that, but the potential is much much greater than with Bush, Cheney, or McCain.

The US attorneys in the swing states are already pursuing their bogus 'fraud' cases. The electronic voting machines are in place. The mainstream press are in semi-revolt against McCain, and some of the American people are slowly waking up, jarred out of their anti-depressant cable-TV stupor by their evaporationg 401K's.

It's down to the wire here. Good versus evil - the United States of America hangs in the balance. If McCain wins, those big capitalist players are about to get a whole lot more than they bargained for. If Obama wins, this country survives to see another day (and fight through Great Depression II)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I'm tickled to see Obama polling well and doing well in the debates as we go down to the wire here. At the same time, I am troubled by the behavior of the mainstream press. Most liberals and progressives are not complaining about this now, for the obvious reason that it is McCain rather than Obama that is on the receiving end of the behavior. But the behavior still troubles me. I saw only the last few minutes of the debate - I didn't see the 'That one' comment. I did see the feed after the broadcast ended. I was impressed by the way Obama stayed much longer and shook everyone's hand, and I noticed that McCain ducked out.

But honestly, I don't think he was disrespectful to Obama. Less eloquent, sure. Less at ease, sure. Caught between defending discredited ideas and appearing flip-floppy and non-conservative, he really had nowhere to go in this debate.

He's being exposed as what he is - a somewhat personable, weak minded guy that only turns populist when caught with his hand in the cookie jar, tossing cookies to the rich and powerful. I think his lack of leadership qualities is being exposed by events.

And that's enough to me. I don't need to pile on the guy and get all up in arms about his handshake, or call him a racist because he said 'That one'. Maybe he ducked out after the debate because his 72 year old tortured, broken body hurt. Whatever. He's a crappy old Senator with a decent sense of humor that fooled some people for a while into thinking he was a bold, honorable leader. I don't much want him as my President and other people realize that too.

I don't need all these pundits to help. I don't want them telling me what to think. And I don't want them telling anyone else how to think either, even if it's the way I think. All these losers that were attracted like flies to the shit of the Clinton witch hunt and the shit of the McCain 'honor' and the shit of Gore's supposed 'truth' problem are starting to realize that the balance of power is shifting and they're turning like a big hive in the other direction. But the behavior still sucks, and I'm still going to call them on it even if they're helping my guy now.

Bob Somersby over at the has got some good stuff today:

Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo! Within a few weeks of financial disaster, Broder is crying because the candidates won’t say exactly how they’ll respond. But uh-oh! Staring disaster in the face, Broder has started looking for intelligent policy leadership. Our reaction? Maybe he should have thought about that when he was ridiculing Big Dems in the past—Gore’s 2000 convention speech, for example. That speech included so many “swell ideas” that “I almost nodded off,” Broder mockingly wrote, two weeks after praising Bush’s brilliant convention effort. (“[A]n acceptance speech of exceptional eloquence.”)

Maybe Broder should have thought about the need for intelligent leadership when he mocked Hillary Clinton for boring him with that endless speech about energy (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/25/06). But this was the culture of the time—and big dopes like Broder enjoyed it.

Good grief. Today, The Dean of All Pundits cries and complains about the two candidates’ “flight from reality.” Look who’s talking, we incomparably thought, recalling the way this big buffoon engaged in the ritual trashing of very smart Dems over the past many years.

Broder was hardly alone in that conduct. In fact, the press elite got drunk on the joys of Clinton/Gore-trashing, as they responded to the growth of Republican rule in the District. And of course, the sanctification of mediocrities like Bush and McCain was part of their new raucous culture. Was Broder really alone in this conduct? Yesterday, the analysts almost blew lunch right into the bushes, reacting to
this sorry display from Jim Fallows. Because these loser-men stick together, Fallows linked to Andrew Sullivan, and to some Latter Day insight from the sage of TPM. Like many others, Fallows starts by adopting the basic idea that the great Saint McCain has now changed:

FALLOWS (10/8/08): Andrew Sullivan and others have already mentioned this clip by TPMtv, but here is why I think it is important: It does a lot to explain why many people who felt they "knew" John McCain in his earlier DC life have been slow to face and accept what he has become.
The video alternates clips of the "good" McCain, talking about respect and commitment to high-road politics, with ads and other evidence of the way he is running his campaign.

For another time, discussion of whether the "good" McCain was ever an authentic product. I'll just say, many people including me found it appealing at the time. What is undeniable is the contrast between the way he then seemed and the way he now acts. This is obviously an anti-McCain clip, but I think it's instructive even for his supporters. And, in real time before tonight's debate, it shows the range of personas he might choose to project.

What a fool. We’ll now explain why a wimp like Fallows found “the good McCain” so “appealing at the time.” He found this silly invention appealing because he, like almost everyone else in his cohort, had bought into Washington’s spreading culture of Clinton/Gore/Democrat-hatred. In the summer of 2000, this led Fallows to publish that slanderous Atlantic cover story about demon Gore—the cover story which set the framework for the way the press corps attacked Gore’s performance in that crucial first debate with George Bush.

Go Bob, Go.

Friday, October 03, 2008


I couldn't watch. For some reason, I was able to watch the debates in 2004, but now, I don't know, I'm just scared of something going wrong at this point.

But I did read some transcripts and watch some clips.

It's truly astounding to me the way Palin talks. I don't think we should be languagist (is that a word?) or sexist, and I think some pundits have been a little with her. It's hard to keep your cool when confronted with a candidate that is really an insult. Not as a person, necessarily, but as a Vice Presidential Candidate.

Her stumbling verbal style keeps reminding me of something, and I think I figured out what it is. It's a northern Alaskan/Canadian version of valley girl speak - or like the girls from Long Island with the big hair that I went to college with. Not that there's anything so bad about it - it's just shocking to hear a candidate for Vice President speaking this way.

Of all the strange, unique things about this election, and there have been many, Palin's speaking voice, I think, is the strangest. It's not so much the Alaskan accent (though that is strange to me), but the hyperactive delivery featuring the prolific use of such words as 'like', 'wow', 'also', 'there', 'betcha', 'y'know', et cetera.

But enough about that. From what I saw and read, I instantly identified what she was doing. I did this in college. Not all the time, but a lot. I'd find myself having to write an essay, not having done the reading. I would only have general recollections of things the professor had said in class. So I would take these very thin ideas and write an essay, stretching it out with a bunch of flowery language, taking care to mimic the cadence of the professor as best I could. I often got decent grades this way, despite having little command of the material. Occasionally, a professor would see right through it. I passed a lot of classes this way- mostly the ones that didn't interest me that much.

I would not have had the balls to try using this technique to get a graduate degree or a doctorate.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

We shouldn't forget about the US Attorney firings. Eugene Robinson has a good article in the Washington Post today.

Here's a highlight:

The people who have been running our government for the past eight years have nothing but contempt for government. They believe only in politics and ideology, in that order. First, win elections by any means necessary. Second, once in a position to act in the public good, govern with the ideological conviction that government is either irrelevant or harmful to the public interest.

That's pretty strong stuff coming from the pages of the Washington Post. While Robinson touches upon the firing of David Iglesias, former U.S. Attorney for New Mexico being related to his unwillingness to pursue 'voter fraud' cases, he fails to make the connection between this firing and the Republican tactic of referring to caging, voter roll purges and other electoral malfeasance as being done in the name of combating 'voter fraud'. There is no 'voter fraud' there. What there is is a U.S. Attorney that is not going to rubber stamp or pursue GOP efforts at disenfranchising likely Democratic voters.

Go here - I'm sure Brad has something about it: Basically the U.S. Attorney firings were largely done to remove impediments to the fucking with of elections. Excuse my stumbling prose - after all it IS high treason we are talking about!