Saturday, June 20, 2009

Must Reads

Chris Geidner: President Obama has not betrayed the gay community

Bob Herbert: A Threat We Can't Ignore

Christopher Brauchli: The Rise and Fall of the Cigarette

Paul Krugman: The Froomkin Firing

Rude Pundit: George W. Bush: Tan, Rested, Still a Total Dick

Armadillo Joe recommends...
STSOZ: Our Common Peril

Matt Taibbi: The Greatest Non-Apology of All Time

Sam Youngman: At fundraiser, Obama laughs at critics

Digby: The Club

Dr. Biobrain: The Revolution Will Not Be Twittered

Dr. Zaius: Trust Me, I'm a Doctor...

Impolitic: The Roberts Court

President Obama's Weekly Address - June 20, 2009

Financial Reform to Protect Consumers

Friday, June 19, 2009

He's Barack Obama!...

... He's Come to Save the Day!

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

One of the funniest things I've seen in a long time.

Fear The State, Fear It

posted by Armadillo Joe

Conservatives are authoritarians to the core. They worship state power when it is wielded by the right kind of people for purposes they endorse, like any good fascist, and their views have no place in a free and democratic society. They certainly should be kept as far away from the levers of power as possible.

And they most certainly shouldn't be allowed anywhere near something like a Supreme Court for so much as being in the audience to hear cases, much less in charge of it:
In 5-4 Decision, Conservative Supreme Court Denies DNA Evidence To Potentially Innocent Man
Because, it seems, it is more important to the greater public good and the integrity of our justice system for the machinery of law-enforcement to maintain an aire of infallibility (just like, oh say, a pope), rather than, um, justice. So, instead of reinforcing a general faith in the fairness of the system, our country's highest court has decided that a general fear of the power of the state to fuck-you-up-real-good-with-no-recourse is more important. Tasers and indefinite detention also help.

Thus, Chief Justice John "Hang 'Em High" Roberts and Samuel "Strip-Search Sammy" Alito both performed to the exact specifications their corporatist sponsors ordered up when they told the Cheney Administration who they wanted installed in the highest court in the land. And, as per usual, Justice Anthony "I'm the Joe Lieberman of the Supreme Court" Kennedy provided the crucial swing vote while the two-votes-for-the-price-of-one-brain duo of Antonin "I Never Met A Police State Tactic I Didn't Like" Scalia and Clarence "Pubic Hair" Thomas reliably brought up the rear.

What a collection of mentally-diseased reprobates and mean-spirited degenerates. We call this our "Supreme" Court?

We are well and truly fucked. Get ready for a whole lot of 5-4 votes in the next several years, even with Sotomayor (who may give us some 6-3 votes, frankly), because the empathy-free, iron-hard, coal-black and shriveled ugly heart of the Supreme court -- those four dependably authoritarian boneheads -- are an average age of 61, with Roberts clocking in at 54. The liberal wing is an average age of 76 and swapping Souter for Sotomayor will only bring it down to 72. The Court's right wing is generally younger and healthier and Obama will likely only be replacing liberal justices for the next few years, treading water until a member of The Court's Rethugli-bot goon squad either croaks or retires.

We don't live in a free country anymore, folks. In truth, unless you happened to be born rich, white, male, not openly homosexual and otherwise able to convincingly proclaim outwardly to be a good Protestant, this never has been a free country, but my point here is that we aren't even pretending anymore. This is the lasting damage of not only the Bush/Cheney era, but of the "conservative" revolution of the last 40+ years. The Supreme Court has always been The Prize to these people, ever since Brown v Board of Ed meant all the pretty little blonde girls would have to go to school with all those scary little black boys. The backlash from that decision gave rise to the upsurge which almost put Goldwater in the Oval Office, then led to Nixon, Reagan and both Bushes. Roberts and Alito during the second Bush term were the culmination of that decades-long march to hegemony. Bush may be gone, but The Movement got what it wanted in Roberts and Alito, and they are young, healthy guys able to make mischief for decades to come.

The Movement has spent decades and decades packing the lower courts with authoritarians and corporatists for the exact purpose of thwarting the public will on behalf of this country's true owners. We can win all the presidencies and take-over all the Congresses we want, but it will take a generation or two or even more to clean all that Rethugli-goon filth out of our judicial system, if we ever do.

In the meantime, just try not to get convicted of anything.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Journalism Is Dead

... Or so says Fox News. Why? Apparently, Fox News has a problem with ABC giving a platform to President Obama for an upcoming special on health care reform, complete with a town hall style meeting inside the White House. "Unprecedented," you say? Hmmm... where have I seen something like this before?

The Stakes

posted by Armadillo Joe

Right on cue, just as I'm continuing to plow my way through Pearlstein's book on Goldwater and writing vague & incoherent rants about an ongoing right-wing conspiracy dating back to the 1940's and early 50's and running right on up to today -- right now this very moment, even -- to undermine the America we all know and love, I go and read a blog post that sums the whole situation up better than I ever have or could.

He somewhat cheekily refers to his website as "Der Stiftung Leo Strauss" ("the Leo Strauss Foundation") as in Leo Strauss the "Jewish Nazi" -- a villain in American history you should know about, if you don't already. He also seems to be some kind of Washington insider, I think, because he refers to conversations he's had with members of Congress in their offices. His vision of America is rather dark, which naturally grabbed my attention, and he has little use for the majority of politicians and pundits who still treat this whole process we call "politics" as a mere parlor game with not the slightest clue as to the actual stakes. He persuasively argues that this thing called the GOP "Base" or sometimes "movement conservatism" is in fact an entity apart from the "conservative base" which is itself a separate entity from the GOP. His imagery is spot-on:
The Movement is the controlling parasite astride its enfeebled Republican host.
Our Ruling Class, though, whether pundits or politicians, either don't get the stakes or they do and don't care, because...
Seemingly bright ‘mainstream media’ still do not understand the dichotomy. Or its implications. They still treat ‘Republicans’ and Democrats as equivalent political actors playing the same game by the same rules for the same prizes. As long as relative neophytes view politics in this prism, the Movement wins.
One side thinks we're all playing a gentlemanly round of paintball on a paintball court while the other shells the whole damned town with live artillery. Or, if you will, one side keeps bringing a knife to a gun fight. Whether Emmitt Till or JFK or Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, Kansas, how many people have to get shot down before we realize the other side isn't fucking around, that they actually want us dead?
the Movement within the conservative base always plays a different game for a different prize. The Movement may speak in normal political talking points from ‘Republican’ institutions. Yet is is not committed to Dahl-esque pluralistic politics. It has has never sought compromise or ‘moderation’. That’s because for the Movement, politics is existential warfare. Compromise is defeat.
I have tried at this blog and elsewhere to paint the Big Picture by arguing against the D.C. Establishment's cherished notion of bi-partisan centrism -- a notion that seems to soothe the tortured souls of our nation's punditocracy, worshipping as they do the blessed and elusive "middle" where one finds both moderates and roadkill. Choosing sides between the different parties is manifestly not like selecting a red car or a blue car, as though each is essentially the same in purpose and function and the selection is one of mere aesthetics and personal taste -- country music versus jazz, Dallas & Atlanta versus New York & San Francisco, BBQ versus granola and yogurt, Dunkin' Donuts versus Starbucks, beer versus wine. It's a little bit of regionalism, it's a little bit of ethnicity, it's a little bit of class and socio-economic status, but in the end we're all Americans and we all want the same things even if we disagree about process, right?

For the Movement ... politics is existential. And when survival is on the line, pluralistic compromise is for chumps. Democrats still are playing for political advantage within the confines of traditional two party politics. ... When the other side’s world view is existential, then the stakes are higher than something so trite as the Constitution.
The idea that one group may laugh at Larry The Cable Guy jokes and the other at Woody Allen movies, yet both love America and want it to succeed for all Americans, is silly and laughably naive. Such pablum may make for pat and comforting answers to gullible people who think we're all in this together as Americans and we just have different ideas about how to get there, but it's useless when steeling yourself for attacks from the other side, attacks not merely intended to wound, but to mortally wound. Digby calls this vague sense of "our side/their side" American Tribalism and I think the embrace of those outward trappings is an important component of the divided American soul, but more as external signifiers to fellow tribe members than any instrinsic affinity for the actual things embraced.

They are more like prescursors to learning the secret handshake, to getting invited into the club:
This I share out of personal experience talking with the Movement crowd over the years. Many of the conversations are carefully masked and there is almost a secret handshake and a ‘feeling out’ to see if one is receptive to test, and then small conversational overtures. If the Stiftung has seen and heard this stuff from Capitol Hill to refined salons in the Imperial City so has everyone else. From fatuous Tweety to Howard — to all of them.
To think that our problems in America are only about cowboy boots versus Gucci loafers is to manifestly not get to the heart of the matter where epic struggles over race and gender and class have been fought -- often to the death -- and will be fought again. One group of Americans wants the rest of their fellow Americans eliminated, in fact refuses to even acknowledge that they are fellow countrymen, and that spiteful, bitter group of people has the means, motive and opportunity, whether with guns or ropes or control over health-insurance policies, to make good on their secret wishes. That the talking heads on the Tee-Vee and in print don't, can't or won't incorporate this uglier, more existential threat to the health of American political discourse into their horse-race/game-day style analysis of the scene in D.C. reveals that they are morally vacant, willfully blind or just plain stupid.
The Krugman and Joan Walsh fantasy that some ‘Republicans’ are going to put a stop to the Movement is a joke. At one time there was a functioning Republican apparat apart from the Movement, capable of independent action. The Movement long ago slipped the leash.


Because Krugman et al. fail to grasp the fundamental difference between the Movement, the former Republican Party and the Democratic Party, talking heads refer to the Movement as the ‘Republican base’. As if somehow the Movement and its Manichean zero-sum nihilism is the same as the Democratic base.


It wasn’t always like this, of course. The Republican Party as an independent actor and entity was able to keep the Movement within bounds. But after Reagan, and especially the Bush debacle in ‘92, the Movement learned to seize power on its own within and without the Republican Party.
As Pearlstein depicts in his book, the transformation of Barry Goldwater from a stalwart political actor to the head of a full-fledged political movement represented the coagulation of a movement whose constituent parts -- once disparate and scattered between the two parties or even beyond them -- had been churning under the placid surface of a "Leave It To Beaver" 1950's America still basking in the glow of her glorious victory over fascism with FDR's "Arsenal of Democracy" -- tools and weapons built by mighty American industry -- before wheeling around to stare down another form of monolithic totalitarianism in the USSR, it too doomed to defeat by superior American ingenuity and culture.

America thought itself to be invincible.

Such an America imagined itself at the end of internal conflict and strife, that no problem was beyond the reach of Yankee grit and determination, even the "Negro" problem, hence the subtitle of Pearlstein's book "The Unmaking of the American Consensus," because a growing chorus of Americans throughout the 1950's simply no longer wanted to get along in the post-New Deal, pluralistic, ecumenical, multi-ethnic country that America had long purported to be and was finally en route to becoming.

Frankly, they never really had been down with that program and still aren't, to this very day:
In the case of racism, overt comments allow all quickly to depict a discovered outburst as ‘isolated, unacceptable incident’, etc. The nativism swirling around the immigration debates are an easy example. ‘You look different than me’ or the White trash psychology of another era trying to pick on someone below them socially is an ugly but known practice. The same argument on more upscale level is to mask it behind NAFTA, globalization and now economic free fall. Beyond the socio-economic critique, alleged health dangers, welfare freeloaders. Pat Buchanan long swam in those waters now plied by Lou Dobbs.


As a famous ‘Republican’ once told me, he’d rather live an American version of Franco than have to deal with multiculturalism. *That’s* how existentialism trumps liberal democracy.
Pearlstein's book just details how, over a couple of decades, the screeching, poo-flinging monkey hordes were driven or herded or bribed or otherwise willfully gathered under a single political banner for the simple reason that a large enough swath of the American public was finally demanding that this country live up to the high-falutin' rhetoric of its founding, but rather than man-up, admit that America's failures had done wrong by whole segments of her population and then work to make amends, enormous voting blocs got Pied Piper'd by sociopaths like Nixon and Saint Ronnie into the Republican fold, where their basest, ugliest, most anti-social impulses would never be condemned or even questioned. Then, like a virus, they multiplied and spread until the original Party of Lincoln no longer resembled itself. The Movement had triumphed. Our friend at the Stiftung continues:
All of the above are premised on loyalty to the Movement’s higher existential values rather than ‘mere process’ like democracy ... When you understand this dynamic, then the relative silence about Dr. Tiller’s murder, or the right wing extremism that led to Officer John's heroic courage makes sense.


What this means as a social, cultural and political actor, the Movement is unable to accept loss of power or control through liberal democratic means. The Movement’s eschatology is to higher truths than liberal democratic government: race, security, nationalism, order, security. The Movement’s psychology compels the rage as its Counter-Enlightenment agenda is revealed, in power and then snatched away again.
I fear we may simply be in one of the inter-glacial thaws between periods of Rethugli-goon mis-rule. It seems to only take a few years for the voting public, helped along by a prostrate and compliant corporate media complex, to forget just how bad things tend to get during Republican regimes and to view past GOP administrations through a gauzy lens.

Take, for instance, the Republican beatification of a third-rate Hollywood meat-puppet as The Greatest President in the History of Human Civilization™. Saint Ronnie of the Ray-Gun is the only other Republican president -- going all the way back to Lincoln -- not to die in office, bolt the party in disgust, lose a bid for re-election, leave office amid widespread corruption or be hounded from office by scandal. Except of course for Eisenhower, but he was barely a Republican anyway. Many in his own party accused him of being a Communist sympathizer.

Thus, considering the weakness of the competitve field, Saint Ronnie being the Greatest Republican President since Lincoln is a pretty low bar to hurdle. Upon his death a few years ago, one would have thought Pericles himself had returned to earth just die all over again, to hear the corporate media tripping over each other to issue ever more thoroughly unquestioning paens to his great and glorious era of prosperity, strength and greatness. It made me sick to my stomach to hear all that "Morning in America" bull-pucky again, as though he had led us from the Dark Ages.

I can't wait to hear how Jimmy Carter will be spoken of upon his passing. I suspect the tone will be somewhat different.

The resurrection of Richard Milhouse Nixon's career as an elder statesman in the 1980's is the clearest indicator of The Movement's not-so-latent authoritarianism. For them, the problem was never that he did something wrong, just that he got caught. His re-emergence paved the way for all those unreconstructed Nixonites to weasle their way back into government throughout the 1980's and early 90's and eventually into the Bush43 White House.

Therefore, when I hear people on our side talk about how this or that move makes Republicans look dumb and boy howdy, they're just gonna keep acting all dumb and losing elections, I can only join in the schadenfreude to a point. These people aren't engaged in a merely political program. Politics is but one facet of their agenda and since violence and a willingness to kill is one of their primary and most effective tools, they have the power to de facto enact huge swaths of that agenda, even if they fail de jure.

From race-relations & immigration to the health-care showdown, these are the stakes.

The Pandemic of Stupid (Part One: Iran's Election)

I haven't blogged much over the last couple of days because I've been sitting in front of my television machine waiting for a CDC news conference to announce that about 30% of the US population has been infected with a Stupid Plague. But so far, nothing. No BREAKING NEWS or THIS JUST IN. No Alex Witt(less) and her hairsprayed mane on MSNBC to warn of the Stupid Plague. No Wolf Blitzer and his Beard of Doom™ interviewing a government official telling us to wrap our houses in plastic sheeting and duct tape to avoid losing your brain cells.

What gives? We've all been exposed to it. Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck seem to be the "Typhoid Marys" of the Stupid Plague, the carriers of this disease but somehow remain immune to becoming so stupid that they continue to breathe involuntarily even though their brain matter has turned to goo. I sometimes wonder how they haven't stepped into an oncoming bus while crossing the street.

There has been an outbreak of the Stupid Plague and it's easy to detect those infected. For example:

Iran has its presidential elections and it looks like a tight race. Mahmoud "Holocaust Schmolocaust" Ahmadinejad was feeling the heat from Mir-Hossein "That's HOssein not HUssein" Mousavi. The vote counting went all through the night. The results? Ahmadinejad wins 63% of the vote. WHAAA?!?! This was "close"? There are riots in the streets, hundreds of thousands of protesters wanting their vote to count. It looks like they take their elections seriously in Iran; they don't take their vote for granted, like in.... nevermind.

So what is the general reaction?

President Obama: "The second thing I think’s important to recognize is that the easiest way for reactionary forces inside Iran to crush reformers is to say it’s the US that is encouraging those reformers. So what I’ve said is, `Look, it’s up to the Iranian people to make a decision. We are not meddling.’ And, you know, ultimately the question that the leadership in Iran has to answer is their own credibility in the eyes of the Iranian people."

Makes sense doesn't it? If we're shouting democracy and freedom from the mountaintops, why in the hell would he interfere in another country's election if we don't happen to like the outcome?

John McCain: "I'm disappointed, it is an American principle ever since our founding that we are dedicated to the principle that all are created equal and the fact is they have the right to free elections and to select their leadership."

That's right, Johnny. An American principle. Last I checked, Iran was a Middle Eastern theocracy that we've had no diplomatic relations with for the last 30 years.

But you have to hand it to McCain being so concerned about the elections of a people he joked about bombing the shit out of not too long ago. And haven't we heard the nutty neocons like Joshua Muravchik, William Kristol and Charles Krauthammer advocating military action against Iran for what seems like forever? Now the same neocon establishment are the defenders of democracy in the Middle East? The bastions of liberty for Iran? Please, spare me.

Mike Pence (R-Doucheland): "I appreciate the fact that the president said the protesters have a right to be heard and represented, and I appreciate the fact that he said he is troubled... But I respectfully disagree with the administration's decision to essentially draw the line at not meddling and not interfering."

So Pence wants the United States government to meddle and interfere with Iran's elections? I wonder what Pence would have said if, oh I don't know, Germany or France or even Iran had "meddled or interfered" with our 2004 Presidential election because of the prospect of voter fraud in Ohio? I'm guessing he wouldn't have been thrilled about it.

Oh, and by the way, just because President Obama mentioned Iran and said we weren't going to meddle in their electoral affairs was enough to cause Iranian officials to accuse the US of meddling in their affairs. But, unlike the GOP using this as a political opportunity, and the neocons who have a penchant for being incredibly wrong on their warmonger ideas (see Iraq, Shock and Awe), I'd rather be accused of meddling in another sovereign nation's political process than actually meddling.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Clarifying Patterns

posted by Armadillo Joe

In re-reading my last post, wherein I went from reciting the particulars about some 1950's-era right-wing nutballs having a collective boner for Chinese General Chiang Kai-Shek to my usual rant about the enduring aristocracy we've inherited down through the ages and their political agency via the exploited membership of the Rethugli-goon coalition of slack-jawed goobers, race-warriors, patricians and Bible-thumpers then leading into a final denunciation of James von Brunn, I realized that the post just didn't make much sense.

I blame it on the fact that I am reading Pearlstein's book about Goldwater and thus was able to draw conclusions based on some facts not in evidence.

Here's what I meant:
From the late 1940's through Eisenhower's second term, the right-wing in America was in a state of flux and complete disarray for three reasons relevant to this blog post.

First, the largest and most geographically homogeneous horde of the most virulent and unrepentant "wingnuts" (as we now call them) -- just the kind of staunch, stalwart ideologues that are the life-blood of a political party -- were the racist southerners in the Democratic Party . However, being hidebound to Tradition, those same "Dixiecrats" hadn't been able to vote for the Party of Lincoln for more than a century, no matter how far to the left FDR pulled the Dems. It seemed the GOP had little hope in the 1950's of ever getting them to switch sides, en masse.

Second, because the President is the leader of his party, with Eisenhower the GOP found itself headed by a man of indeterminate political alignment, but definitely a centrist in the most bi-partisan, consensus-oriented way possible. After WW2, Ike had been courted by both parties but chose the GOP, who rewarded him with the 1952 nomination after a backroom deal ousted the fire-breathing wingnut Bob Taft of Ohio, who had the superior delegate count and the support of the hard-core Republican right-wing, the same jingoistic, iconoclastic and paranoid right-wing that had incubated and then supported the delusional Joe McCarthy and also founded the John Birch Society in the 1950's. Because the party was knocked on its heels after the breaking of the McCarthy-era fever, the iron-hard, coal-black heart of the American right-wing had no real home in the party of Eisenhower and FDR's New Deal coalition made the Democrats anathema, despite the presence of Dixiecrats.

Third, the events immediately following WW2 through the early 1950's -- from the parceling out of Europe between the victorious allies leading to the ringing down of Stalin's Iron Curtain to the Rosenberg's espionage trial and the Soviet's H-Bomb to the People's Revolution in China to the firing of MacArthur (by a Democrat!) while he waged war against the Red Menace -- all convinced the right-wingers that commies and pinkos were everywhere in America, even the Oval Office, and the end of their vision of America was near. Then as now, they saw the world in starkly Manichean terms, thus whoever was not openly, loudly and unquestionably in their corner was probably a Communist sympathizer (or "ComSymp", in the lingo of the day). Whoever was openly battling commies was, no matter any expressed opinions to the contrary nor verifiable affiliation of the combatants, a hero. Hence, their lionization of Chiang Kai-Shek, who struggled against that dirty commie Mao with no support from the United States, which proved that the U.S. Government was infiltrated with communists from top to bottom.

In my fevered imagination, the treatment of Kai-Shek by a certain group of right-wing fruit-loops in the 1950's reminded me of how Ahmed Chalabi was feted and revered by the neo-cons throughout the 1990's and into the early Bush Administration -- nursing a grudge about Iraq and Saddam as enduring and nasty as the right-wingers sixty years ago did about China and Mao -- not because of anything related to the actual truth of actual facts on the ground, but the perceived alignment of appearances and declarations with a predetermined set of political and cultural orthodoxies. In turn, that willful mispercetion of reality warped our politics and led us into disaster in Korea and Vietnam -- the repercussions of which I need not explain to this audience -- the parallels of which should be obvious to our current predicament in the Middle East, with untold consequences for generations to come.

China = Iraq
Chairman Mao = Saddam
Kai-Shek = Chalabi
quagmire in Vietnam = quagmire in Iraq
right-wing violence in the 1950's & 1960's = right-wing violence in the 1990's and today

That's what I meant. You know, parallels.

Party of No to Vote Against War Supplemental

The same Republican party that likened voting against war spending bills as anti-American and against supporting the troops for the last six years is now planning to vote against the $106 billion spending bill.

...Republicans say this year is different. Democrats have included a $5 billion increase for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help aid nations affected by the global financial crisis. Republicans say that is reason enough to vote against the entire $106 billion spending bill and are certain voters will understand.
Sure, the voters will understand the amazing hypocrisy of the Republican party. It doesn't matter to the GOP that the global financial crisis was our doing. They're taking a stand, dammit, and troops in Afghanistan be damned. It doesn't matter that there were non-war additions when they voted for the funding during the Bush administration, like farm subsidies or an increase in the minimum wage, luckily advanced by Democrats.
In 2005, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) went so far as to say sending troops into battle and not paying for it would be an “immoral thing to do.”
But this is different, isn't it Rep. Cole? Because It's OK If You Are Republican.

UPDATE (2:25pm): John Boehner now makes it all clear. Voting for war supplemental bills pre-2009 supports the troops. But now, voting against war supplemental bills supports the troops. Another bourbon, please!
Boehner Says a ‘No’ Vote on War Spending Bill Protects the Troops

Monday, June 15, 2009

Letterman's Apology

It seems that after further reflection of his Palin joke, David Letterman is issuing a formal apology on tonight's Late Night broadcast. My only question is this: Will the Palins graciously accept the apology and let it drop? Or will they continue to beat a dead horse and milk the fauxtrage?

UPDATE (6/15/09 10:15am): Palin accepts:

"Of course it's accepted on behalf of young women, like my daughters, who hope men who 'joke' about public displays of sexual exploitation of girls will soon evolve," the statement read.

"Letterman certainly has the right to 'joke' about whatever he wants to, and thankfully we have the right to express our reaction. And this is all thanks to our U.S. military women and men putting their lives on the line for us to secure America's right to free speech - in this case, may that right be used to promote equality and respect."

It's over, right? Not for opportunists like the slimy John Ziegler who is calling for Letterman's firing and started up a website campaign. I'll tell you what, John, when you start up a campaign to impeach Senator John McCain for his joke and go on national television to demand the firing of Rush Limbaugh for his joke , then we'll talk. Until then, shut the fuck up.

Adding... after reading and re-reading Palin's statement, I'm going to amend "Palin accepts" to "Palin accepts scornfully."

Sunday, June 14, 2009


posted by Armadillo Joe

Following up on my post from Wednesday about the neo-Nazi violence at the Holocaust Museum (Selling Shit to the Shitheads) and dove-tailing nicely with my current reading material (Rick Pearlstein's "Before The Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus"), I read today over at Yglesias' place about the so-called "China Lobby" that held sway in D.C. throughout the 1950's and into the 1960's and their adulation of General Chiang Kai-Shek (Yglesias quotes Robert Farley here):
the influence of the Lobby in the executive branch and in Congress helped prevent a Sino-American dialogue over Vietnam, the final status of Korea, the role of the PRC at the UN, and the potential for collaboration with the Soviet Union. When any President hinted at acknowledging the PRC, the Lobby could arm Congressional opponents with money and righteous rhetoric about the dangers of appeasing Beijing. Nixon was able to break the cycle, in part because the most vocal China advocates came from within his own party
That situation sounds to me like how our Middle East policy has been conducted for the last 30 years (since the Iranian Revolution of 1979), with deep-pocketed lobbyists and myriad influence-peddlers from foreign governments twisting our national dialogue, whether the issue be Iran, Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia, et al.. The difference between then and now, it seems to me, is that the ultimate triumph of a certain group of people in gradually taking over the levers of power in this country who were considered to be fringe-group fruit-loops in the 1950's -- a march to power that ran from Nixon's crime syndicate posing as a legitimate presidential administration from 1968 to '74 through Saint Ronnie's glorious 1980's through the tragedy the Cheney regime ending on January 20th of this year -- meant that during the run-up to the Iraq War, no grown-ups were left in the room to talk down the ruling clique of perpetual adolescents who have spent their lives being protected from the consequences of being wrong about everything all the time and who wanted to blow some shit up and torture some brown-skinned people real good to finally, in mid- to late-life, establish their macho bona fides, making up for not joining others of their generation who had those bona fides forced upon them in the jungles of South East Asia.

Once again, I was reminded that it is all of a piece, from the racist Dixieland sheriffs of the Civil Rights-era Deep South to the Glorious Reign of our Saint Ronnie of the Ray-Gun to our current military-industrial complex's deep and frightful warping of our nation's spending and foreign-policy priorities. Mark Twain once said that history doesn't exactly repeat itself, but it does rhyme and the deeper I get into Pearlstein's book, the more I realize just how much today's neo-cons are just a pathetic copy of a copy of a 100th Xerox'd copy of their political and intellectual ancestors in the 1950's, who themselves proved wholly and completely wrong about every single political and historical development since World War 2, but at least had gravitas and panache while being cowards and liars (looking at you, William F. Buckley).

The problem we encounter now is that so much of what has come to be defined as "conservative" over the last four or five decades subsumes a wide range of opinions, from monied business interests and wealthy cultural elites who resent the expulsion of monarchy from the realm of legitimate authority, southern race-warriors still bitter about losing the Civil War, a jingoistic military class who consider their political proclivities indistinguishable from the nation's security interests and a random assortment of slack-jawed, Bible-thumping hillbillies and other nattering, theocratic busy-bodies resentful of the tolerance expected in polite, civil society when living in a pluralistic, multi-ethnic country. Granted, many or even most of these groups overlap to some degree, but the outliers on the far edges of each group make for an uneasy alliance between them and, as I've said before, the only thing that truly unites all of them is a hatred for the Dirty Fucking Hippie.

Hatred is not a governing philosophy, which is why conservatives can't govern. They only know how to oppose and destroy things, which is why the porcine, drug-addled sex-tourist who leads their party will never step out from behind the microphone to actually take a run at public office. Inciting the screeching, poo-flinging monkeys of the Reich-wing to riot (and feigning surprise when they do) is a much more fun pastime for an opportunistic blow-hard with a black hole for a soul than the delicate job of compromise and problem-solving required by the idealism of a life in government service.

James von Brunn is a natural product of that putrid, seething cesspool and he won't be the last one to find his voice now that the poo-flingers have finally, for the first time since the 1970's (and probably not even then), been mostly driven from national office.

Gallows Politics - UPDATED

Boom! goes the dynamite!

"I think he smells some blood in the water on the national-security issue. It's almost, a little bit, gallows politics. When you read behind it, it's almost as if he's wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point. I think that's dangerous politics."

-- CIA Director Leon Panetta, in an interview with the New Yorker, on former Vice President Dick Cheney's criticisms of the Obama administration.

UPDATE (6/18/09): Since posting this on Sunday, Ed Schultz has had a run-in with Joe Scarborough regarding this issue. Schultz agrees with the assessment. Scarborough is shocked, shocked I tell you!, that anyone would think Cheney would want "Americans to die" (Scarborough's words, not Panetta's) so he could say he was right.

Scarborough tries to discredit Schultz by equating the support Schultz says he's receiving to the 9/11 Truthers, but Schultz isn't buying it. And then of course comes the obligatory book plug at the end of the segment.

Music Break! John Coltrane

Afro Blue