Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Party Politics

Party Politics
P. Schultz
January 31, 2012

“When the empire strikes back, it hits hard. The Republican establishment is deploying every weapon and every soldier—even Bob Dole—in an increasingly desperate attempt to pulverize the Newt Gingrich rebellion. Eventually, the shock-and-awe campaign may work.

“But then what? In the establishment’s best-case scenario, the party is left with Mitt Romney, a candidate whose core message, as far as I can tell, seems to be: “Yes, I made a ton of money. You got a problem with that?”

This is from a blog on Truthdig and it’s argument will come as no surprise of those who read this blog. Party politics is almost always concerned with the alleged competition between what are taken to be our “two” parties, while ignoring the competition that takes place within our parties. Here the “Republican establishment” is recognized, as well as its concern with a Gingrich presidential run. Of course, should Gingrich get the nomination, this same establishment will be all too willing to let and even help Obama win re-election. As I have noted before, Obama poses no threat to the power of the Republican establishment and, hence, is less dangerous to them and their power than a Gingrich win would be. Although I have no knowledge of what happened, my guess is that this fear is what led to Gingrich’s demise in the House of Representatives.

Of course, the Democratic Party, that is, the establishment within the Democratic Party, behaves the same way, protecting itself from “insurgents” who threaten their power. Hence, although in one recent Congressional election, 2010, after the Democrats took it on the chin, Nancy Pelosi was, nonetheless, re-elected as the leader of the Democrats in the House. If the establishment saw this result as a failure, re-electing Pelosi would make little sense. However, if the result was actually viewed positively, as getting rid of Democrats who might threaten the power of the establishment types, then her re-election makes perfect sense. 


This is really quite a good article for illuminating the phenomenon of how our political parties operate to preserve the power of their establishments.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

U.S. Meddling in Foreign Nations?

U.S. “Meddling” in Egypt?
P. Schultz
January 26, 2012

“Egypt’s ruling military council, in turn, has been suggesting for months that the United States may have been financing nonprofit human-rights groups and democracy-building groups with an agenda to destabilize Egypt, part of a growing drumbeat of anti-Americanism that has emanated from the military-led government. The generals have often sought to blame outbursts of violence in the streets on such foreign interference.” New York Times, January 26, 2012, page 1.

Gee, I wonder where the Egyptians ever got the impression that the United States would meddle in their domestic affairs, even to the point of fomenting public unrest? Let me see: Iran, Iraq, Vietnam, Cuba, Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Pakistan…..did I miss any?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Election 2012: National Review Comments

This is from an email response I sent to a friend who sent me an article from the National Review, pointing out how the current election might remind people of some other elections, like 1972 when the Dems nominated McGovern or 1964 when the Republicans nominated B. Goldwater, both of whom got plastered in the election. The author posits that Gingrich can be seen in the same light, and to some extent Romney. But then he goes on to argue that Jeb Bush might be nominated if the after the primaries the convention delegate count is close or indecisive. This is where I disagree for the reasons given below. In brief, no Republican who thinks and who is not desperate, e.g., because it is his last chance to be nominated, will jump into this election knowing that the party's establishment would not be all that upset by an Obama win and would even prefer it to a Gingrich win. If you follow the blog, this will not be a new argument but it is interesting how these situations play out in similar ways at different times. Here is the link to the article: http://www.nationalreview.com/blogs/print/288986

Another problem with the article, now that I have perused the whole thing, is that it still perpetuates what I take to be the myth that political parties always want to win each election, despite what is happening within the party. This, following Karp, obviously makes little sense once you realize that politicians want to preserve their power within their parties as opposed to losing it in order to win elections. That is, given a choice between preserving their power within the party and losing an election or losing power within the party while winning elections, it seems to me quite uncontroversial to say that they will go with the former and not the latter.

Evidence today? Chris Christy is sitting this one out, as are Palin and Huckebee, all of whom I wager understand that the Republican establishment really does not care if it loses this election as that would put another nail in the coffin of their "insurgents." And from this point of view, what is happening, that is, first Romney, then Santorum, then Gingrich, is fine with that establishment as it helps to guarantee a loss and a loss which can be blamed on the insurgents! I suspect Jeb Bush has figured this out as well, if he hasn't been told that the re-election of Obama is expected. And note how the economy is just starting to "recover" or so we are told, leaving the Republicans with no real issue as on everything else Obama has followed Bush/Shrub's policies and even murdered Osama!  He is still in Afghanistan, while soldiers and others die, solely for political purposes, just as Shrub created the "surge" to extend Iraq until he left office. [Nixon and Kissinger were trying to do this in Nam only they were done in by Watergate. How criminal is that? Continuing the bombing while knowing that it would fail but doing so in order to be able to blame "failure" on the next president! Are these "traditional American values?" You bet they are.]

Further: Why can Mass. Republicans win some elections but not others, e.g., in the legislature? Possibility: because winning the governorship does not threaten those who now control the state party whereas in order to win in the legislature these people would have to lose their power. Ditto with Brown in the Senate, that is, the US Senate. Brown and Romney were no threat to the powers that be precisely because their victories were "personal", having little or nothing to do with the Republican party in Mass. And think of Romney who was and is really an "outsider" as in not really a resident here. And he was certainly not a part of the Republican Party, the permanent Republican Party in the commonwealth. I think the same thing could be said of Weld as well.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

More "Ideal Illusions"

More Ideal Illusions
P. Schultz
January 22, 2012

Edward Peck, deputy director of Reagan’s White House Task Force on Terrorism, had the following to say:

“In 1985, they asked us…to come up with a definition of terrorism that could be used throughout the government. We produced about six, and in each and every case, they were rejected, because careful reading would indicate that our own country had been involved in some of those activities….One of the terms, ‘international terrorism,’ means ‘activities that…appear to be intended to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping.’…Yes, well, certainly, you can think of a number of countries that have been involved in such activities. Ours is one of them. Israel is another.” [pp. 240-241]

Author Robert Fisk wrote the following:

“What did that eyeless, dead Israeli child ever do to the Palestinians? Could not the Palestinian bomber, in his last moments on earth, recognize this child as his daughter, his baby sister, his youngest cousin? Alas, no. He was too far down the road of his own death, too buried in his own people’s tragedy. His was not an act of ‘mindless terror,’ the words Israeli spokesmen use as they try to deceive both the world and their own people. He was the logical product of a people crushed, dispossessed, cheated, tortured, and killed in terrible numbers. The pressure cooker of the West Bank was his sauna. And he passed through the door.” [p. 266]

And Michael Sheuer said in an interview:

“We paid a great price for demonizing the Taliban. We saw them as evil because they didn’t let women work, but that’s largely irrelevant in Afghanistan. They provided nationwide law and order for the first time in 25 years; we destroyed that and haven’t replaced it. They’re remembered in Afghanistan for their harsh, theocratic rule, but remembered more for the security they provided. In the end, we’ll lose and leave.” [p. 258]

And lastly, here, from James Baldwin:

“It is true that two wrongs don’t make a right, as we love to point out to the people we have wronged. But one wrong doesn’t make a right, either. People who have been wronged will attempt to right the wrong; they would not be people if they didn’t. They can rarely afford to be scrupulous about the means they will use. They will use such means as come to hand. Neither, in the main, will they distinguish one oppressor from another, nor see through to the root principle of their oppression.” [p. 262]

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Barbarity of Terrorism

The Barbarity of “Terrorism”
P. Schultz
January 21, 2012

“It has generally been acknowledged to be madness to go to war for an idea, but if anything is more unsatisfactory, it is to go to war against a nightmare.” Lord
Salisbury quoted in Ideal Illusions, p.238.

“The notion of a ‘terrorist pathology’ offered both Washington and human rights leaders a potent brew of the diseased, the barbaric, the uncivilized, the not like us – those, in short, at war with human rights.” [p. 238]

And then read this description of what must have been a “terrorist” act: “it was an outrage, an obscenity. The severed hand on the metal door, the swamp of blood and mud across the road, the human brains inside a garage, the incinerated, skeletal remains of an Iraqi mother and her three small children in their still smoldering car…by my estimate more than 20 Iraqi civilians.”

But “As it happens, this is a description of the collateral damage caused by two missiles from an American jet….It is an example of the proportionality that makes ‘us’ different from ‘them’ because our intention was not to kill these civilians, even if, as a Palestinian journalist has remarked, ‘this is deliberate killing – killing deliberately by mistake.’ The killing is premeditated ‘in the literal sense that it is clearly foreseen and contemplated beforehand, with the repeated claim that those killed are the very minimum to be expected…’ This is the fine distinction that makes us different from them.” [p. 239]

Isn’t the logic here a bit Jesuitical? Isn’t it like the logic of “double effect” that some Catholics use to justify some abortions needed to save a mother’s life? “Our intention was to save the mother’s life and, inadvertently, we killed the baby. Oh, I am sorry. We aborted the fetus.” And isn’t there something about dropping bombs on human beings that seems different than blowing them up while standing next to them or even using the planes as bombs? Notice how we say we “bomb” human beings, not that we incinerate them. No, Jews were incinerated in concentration camps; but the Japanese in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the Germans in Dresden, were not. Except that they were.

These are the fine distinctions we like to make so as to justify what we are doing to other human beings. And they are “fine,” but only if our actions have no effect on our souls, only if our rationalizations can, in fact, cleanse our souls. That this may not be possible is testified to by those who come back from war with what is today labeled PTSD, which is a jargon that also serves to disguise what it is we are doing to our souls.  As Jefferson said about slavery, “I tremble for my country when I remember that God is just.”

Friday, January 20, 2012

"Terrorism" as Propaganda

Terrorism as Propaganda
P. Schultz
January 20, 2012

            “”’Terrorism’ is a brilliant propaganda word, a grim corroboration of Montaigne’s warning that ‘Nothing is so firmly believed as that which we least know.’ It blinds even as it appears to illuminate. It energizes leaders, bureaucracies, and the media, and it cows critics. Who, after all, is for terrorists? The very notion is rife with ugliness; innocents murdered, body parts in the marketplace, the burning twin towers. Even more than ‘Communism,’ ‘terrorism’ is a label that simplifies. Panic lurks beneath. The dread is no longer of an insidious penetration but of chaos and pathological acts committed by barbarians. Communism was at least a corruption of the good, a cynical manipulation of Enlightenment ideals. Terrorism is the perversion of humanity itself.”

From  Ideal Illusions: How the U.S. Government Co-opted Human Rights, by James Peck, p. 230.

            This book is well worth the read.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Santorum's Politics

Santorum’s Politics
P. Schultz
January 18, 2012

I was asked recently why I was so “down” on Rick Santorum. Well, it is a legitimate question and here are some of the reasons why.

“The Santorums’ youngest daughter was born with a chromosomal disorder. They spoke movingly about their love for their daughter and Karen Santorum welled up. But as they went on, it became apparent that Rick Santorum has no policies to help the disabled. He argues that the families that can afford to should do everything they can to care for their children. But what about those who can’t afford to do so?”

To oppose government sponsored health care at this point is illogical. At one time, some time ago, it made sense. Financially, it no longer does as businesses recognize. Like most Republicans, Santorum knows this and he is only trying to arrange things so that some groups or organizations will make a lot of money from the government program. This is true of Democrats as well, which is why a single payer system ala’ Canada is never seriously considered.

But what bothers me most is how Santorum dresses his argument up in the guise of “family values.” “Hey, if you disagree with me, you must want the government to replace the family as the most important ‘care giver’ for those with significant special needs. You are anti-family but we, my wife and I, are not.” This is just, well, bullshit but it is also how Santorum characterizes those who disagree with him on foreign policy. “Hey, if you disagree with me you must be unpatriotic.”

“Santorum executed a similar dodge on gay rights. A woman from Greenville, South Carolina, said she supports Santorum, but her youngest son is gay. Her son has no problem with Santorum’s opposition to gay marriage, she claims, but he hears from his friends that Santorum hates gays.
“Karen Santorum reassured her. “It’s very sad what gay activists have done to Rick: they’ve vilified him. Rick doesn’t hate anyone. He just said [gay] marriage shouldn’t happen.” Karen Santorum even had the audacity to accuse said “gay activists” of “backyard bullying” of her husband. "

Here is Santorum trying to turn the victims into the victimizers, which is what a lot of those who think “homosexuals” are perverted or unnatural do. It is also what victimizers of all stripes do, from the some in the Catholic Church to those who abuse their spouses. O.J. said his ex-wife was “a slut” so he was or his kids were victims and he was defending “family values” – in his mind – when he slit her throat.

“Then Rick Santorum explicated why he opposes gay marriage.”
The real issue is not gay marriage or gays serving in the military. The issue is whether being gay and lesbian is a  legitimate “lifestyle” or, better, a human way of being [in the world]. “Being gay or lesbian:” unnatural or sinful or a part of the natural order? Those like Santorum just muddy the landscape by focusing on particular “policies” such as gay marriage or serving in the military, issues that could be decided either way even if one admits that being gay or lesbian is as natural as being “straight.” That is, one could oppose both gay marriage and military service for gays – although given the Spartan example it is unclear why one would oppose military service for gays if one wanted a ferocious military – even if one argued that being gay or lesbian is no less human than being “straight.” Santorum’s way is also a way of providing cover for those who do “hate” or “dislike” gays and lesbians. They can hide their personal prejudices behind these policy questions by saying, e.g., “Hey, we are just defending ‘traditional’ values.” This is most evident in his wife’s attempt to turn Santorum into the victim, arguing that he is being “victimized” by gays and lesbians. Oh, poor Rick! 

These are some of the reasons I am “down” on Santorum. One last one to cite here is his recent endorsement of assassination as a policy tool. And this guy says he is “pro-life!” Not so much. And, besides, you would think that the assassination of JFK would have alerted people to the drawbacks of such a policy, to say nothing of it being unjust to kill people merely to advance a political agenda. Hey, isn’t that terrorism? Oh, I forgot: It is our terrorism so it is justified.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

"Problems" and American Politics

“Problems” and American Politics
P. Schultz
January 14, 2012

            Here is how American politics works, at least some of the time. These reflections are based on the book, Ghost Wars, by Stephen Coll, which as stated in an earlier post is an excellent book of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan up to September 10, 2001.

            In the latter part of the book, Coll writes in detail about how the Clinton administration tried to capture or kill bin Laden – really the latter but it had to disguise this as an attempt at apprehension. The CIA, as bin Laden’s prominence increased in the world and especially after the bombings of the American embassies in Africa, and other national security institutions kept trying to find a way to kill bin Laden. Of course, this proved too difficult, as we all know now but it was not for want of trying.

            But as I was reading about these attempts, I kept thinking that something is wrong here. At first, I could not figure out what it was but, finally, I think I figured it out and it has to do with thinking of stuff as “problems” to be “solved.” That is, bin Laden had become “a problem” and we had to find “a solution” to this “problem,” and of course assassination came to mind. This is perfectly logical once we begin to think of bin Laden as “a problem” because if he is “eliminated” than he can no longer be “a problem.” It is like getting cancer. Once one has cancer, it is “a problem” and getting rid of it is “the solution.”

            But as Coll points out and as even some of the participants realized, if only a few and only vaguely, what did not get enough attention was that, e.g., “the CIA director placed virtually no emphasis on Afghanistan as a cause or context of bin Laden’s menace. Tenet never said publicly that bin Laden and al Qaeda were a powerful faction in Afghanistan’s civil war, that they thrived on their links to Pakistani intelligence, or that they took succor from Saudi and Persian Gulf sheikhs and proselytizers.” [p. 454] That is, these people with power thought about bin Laden as a cancer patient thinks about cancer, “How can we get rid of it?” without thinking about the context or causes that led to the cancer. If the context is taken into account, then it is necessary to wonder about the value of the policy of trying to embarrass and then defeat Communists in Afghanistan. That is, perhaps it would have been better, more conducive to our security in the U.S., were the Communist regime in Afghanistan maintained as then the Islamist fundamentalists would not have had the power to construct a Taliban state which gave bin Laden a home from which to plan and conduct terrorism.

            So the question is: Is bin Laden the problem or is Afghanistan the problem? Or, in another context, is Iran acquiring nuclear weapons the problem or is the isolation of Iran in midst of nuclear-armed neighbors and those who consider the Iranian regime illegitimate, like the U.S., the problem?  Seems worth thinking about anyway.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Realists? Really?

“Realists” Really?
P. Schultz
January 10, 2012

            The question is a simple one. Why aren’t those who claim to be “realists” when it comes to foreign policy actually realists? [George Orwell knew.]

            The question stems from my reading of a book, Ghost Wars, by Steve Coll, which claims to be “the secret history of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet invasion to September 10, 2001.” It is an excellent book, one well worth a read or two. In large part, it is excellent because it illuminates how the United States, belied by its obsession with sticking it to the Soviet Union, followed policies that in the end caused “blowback” in the form of the attacks of 9/11. Basically, the United States chose to support radical Islamists in Afghanistan [and Pakistan] in order, first, to prolong the USSR’s war in Afghanistan and, second, to try to “win” there. Of course, by conventional accounts we did “win” in Afghanistan, helping to force the Soviets out and perhaps even leading to the demise of the Soviet Union. We had also made the same choice in Egypt after our politicians decided that Nasser was going to go communist, supporting there even the Muslim Brotherhood in order to “offset” Nasser’s power – and of course the MB were trying to assassinate Nasser. This according to another book I am reading entitled Castles Made of Sand, a recent publication about the history of Anglo-American involvement in the Middle East.

            Here is a quote and see if you can figure out which realist made it: “We have a common task – Afghanistan, the U.S., and the civilized world – to launch a joint struggle against fundamentalism. If fundamentalism comes to Afghanistan, war will continue for many years. Afghanistan will turn into a center of world smuggling for narcotic drugs. Afghanistan will be turned into a center for terrorism.” Well, if you thought “Reagan” you would be wrong. If you thought the CIA, you would be wrong. If you thought Dick Cheney, you would be wrong. If you thought George H.W. Bush, you would be wrong. Ah, but if you thought Najibullah, who was the Soviets’ man in Kabul in the early 90s, you would be correct. And note should be taken that Najibullan was correct: fundamentalism came to Afghanistan, with the help of the U.S.A., and it served corruption, it was a center for drugs, and it turned into a center for terrorism, with dire consequences for the United States.

            So, why didn’t our “realists” know this? Generally, because what the “realists” take to be “reality” isn’t. That is, it isn’t “real reality” as I like to put it. Our “realists” don’t see “real reality” because they are obsessed with power. They think that they can manipulate “things” by cunning and the vigorous use of power and achieve “success,” whatever that might mean at any given time. They are, in fact, blinded by their “realism” because their “realism” offers a skewed view of the human situation, of the human condition. They are not, in fact, “realists.” Rather, they are delusional. In point of fact, you might even say they are “mad.” Don’t believe it? Think about this aphorism from the Vietnam War: “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.” This was policy. And it was and is madness.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Measuring Human Behavior

“Measuring” Human Behavior
P. Schultz
January 8, 2012       

You have got to love economists and other social scientists engaged in attempts to “measure” human behavior. Below is a link from the NY Times to a study, no, a “large study,” of how teachers can have a life long effect on the lives of their students. Excellent teachers, the study shows, have a much greater impact than has been thought – by whom is not said – in the past. Those who experience excellent teachers are even less likely to get pregnant than those who don’t. I am guessing here but I imagine this measure only applies to females!

            This is a wisecrack to be sure but one with a point, viz., that these economists are studying those they label “students,” a phenomenon that only exists in the imagination and can only exist there by dehumanizing people by turning them into an abstraction labeled “student.” Of course, these students all go to “schools”, which is another abstraction as schools exist not in some nether world but in particular places like Harlem, Metuchen, Worcester, Boston, etc. In fact, even “Worcester schools” is an abstraction as Doherty is a very different place than Bancroft.

            Which brings me to another aspect ignored by the study: Which do you think has a more important impact on one’s life, growing up in a family that can afford to pay about $30,000 a year for high school or growing up in a family that cannot even afford a new Mac?

            Oh yeah, let us “test” students and then we will no doubt find some “researchers” who will “prove” that these tests measure something important, while ignoring a host of other, obviously more important “variables.” I have an idea though: Want to improve public education? Really want to do that? Here is a simple but not easy way: Abolish or outlaw all private grade and high schools and force everyone, even the Bushes for example, to send their children to public schools. But of course this will not happen because, well, because we prefer to think that class does not matter, gender does not matter, money spent on education does not matter but saluting the flag does and saying prayers does!


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Iowa and the GOP

Iowa and the Republican Party
P. Schultz
January 4, 2012

            I have a good friend who wrote to say that the GOP in Iowa is nuts. I am assuming he meant in part because they voted so heavily for Santorum. But here is my admittedly crazy take on the caucuses, the GOP, and this election cycle.

            The established powers in the Republican Party need, in order to preserve their own power in the party, to suppress the Tea Party types. Unlike the threat the Democrats pose, the Tea Party types threaten the power of these established Republicans, people like John Boehner and others. Hence, these types do not fear an Obama win in 2012 and, in fact, would welcome it if along with it they could deal a deadly blow to the Tea Party types. [This possibility is reinforced as Obama poses no threat to the status quo.] Hence, it is in their interest to make these guys who are seeking the nomination to look foolish, which they have done to anyone who has emerged as a front-runner. Santorum did as well as he did because he has been flying under the radar long enough that no one did a number on him as they did on Bachman, Perry, Paul, Gingrich, and always Romney. Now, that he has emerged as nearly the front-runner, we will hear the horror stories about him as we heard them about the others. This does not displease the established Republicans.

            Also, think of what might be said when the Republicans lose in 2012. My bet is it will go something like this: “Hey, look at what the Tea Party influence did to our party. Beating Obama should have been a piece of cake and we lost! The economy sucked, Obama looked weak [even though he did kill Osama], he was on the ropes, and, lo and behold, we still lost. Just goes to show you that ‘extremists’ like the Tea Party cannot win elections. The American people will not elect ‘extremists.’”

            Now what makes this analysis appear insane is the commonly, almost universally accepted proposition that political parties are most interested in winning elections. That is, they, the parties, want to win every election. But this is incorrect. It relies on an abstraction, “political parties,” treating them as unified wholes with one object in mind, winning elections. But when it is recognized that competition takes place within political parties, between different factions therein, it is obvious that at times those with power within a party might wish to lose an election in order to maintain its power, its control of that party.  Examples: 1964 [Goldwater], 1972 [McGovern], 1980 [Democrats undermining Carter with Teddy’s help, then rolling over for Reagan’s “revolution”], 1996 [Dole]. There are more but this is all I could come up with off the top of my head or even the bottom of my head!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Radicals and Moderates III

More of the "great debate"! LOL! Again, read from the bottom up. 

You keep demonizing the Tea Partiers and other types along with Lind and other liberal elitists who are afraid of anything but the status quo. Continue to support Democrats and wonder why nothing changes. That's because we don't have two parties but only one party that pretends to be two, a point you have not addressed here at all. Brown gets elected and we get "health insurance reform." Gee, that's interesting. Got any theories? Don't worry....almost no one else has an explanation either. That's because this result doesn't make sense given our conventional wisdom on politics, like we have two parties.

Oh yeah, when you get the chance read Meltdown and confront the argument that FDR did not end the Great Depression but prolonged it. This could be wrong but then again...... And of course FDR's policies were all conservative, as almost all conventional historians point out but blame it on the those pesky conservatives FDR couldn't shake - as if he wanted to. Of course, an alternative explanation - that FDR did not want to shake them but actually used them to justify his unpopular policies just as Obama used Brown's election to justify dissing real health insurance reform [including a public option if you remember that Obama dropped that too] - cannot be entertained by liberals and conservatives today. Doesn't fit into the conventional paradigm mentioned above. And while you are after Paul Ryan, please explain why Obama and he agree about dismantling Medicare [against the desires of the people], which is of course the agenda along with dissing Social Security as we know it [and Obama supports this too, as do other Democrats. But then of course our ruling class does not need Social Security or even contribute to it so who is surprised? Not me.].

"They play right into the hands of corporate power and will largely be sucked up by it.  They don't, in my view, recognize where their interests lie."   Well, you can't say this about the liberal Democrats because play into the hands of the corporations because they know "where their interests lie," viz., preserving their power, even or especially at our expense. BAILOUT! TOO BIG TO FAIL!

"And culturally, as it's always been, it's those who run from modernity and embrace "old time values," and those who embrace modernity and risk falling into decadence.  That's a harder one to call.  In a certain way, I personally am more sympathetic to a moderate version of the "old time values," but again, put this in the hands of Gavin and Mahoney, and you're banning Playboy, charging a woman who has an abortion with murder, and carrying out campaigns against masturbation." Oh my, oh my, more liberal fear mongering! As if the society we live in today is anything like the society I grew up in. Social change happens. But basically I think it is funny that you actually think anyone in the establishment, except a few whackos here and there, care about what Gavin and Mahoney care about. Geez, these guys, like Gavin and Mahoney, think they matter and they don't. The best response to Gavin and Mahoney is laughter. They are being used by the establishment and they don't even know it. As a good friend of mine pointed out a long time ago, academics go to Washington thinking they have power and they end up being used by people like Nixon, Clinton, Reagan, FDR, Dick Cheney, that is, people who really know about power. By the way, what does a "campaign against masturbation" look like? This is really funny. So people who are torturing other human beings, who are killing and maiming people around the world are concerned with masturbation? Only academics like Gavin and Mahoney could entertain such thoughts. The best response is laughter.

Oh yeah, by the way, arguments made in 1855 are, like arguments made by Plato and Aristotle and Machiavelli, still relevant. You are so typically progressive here but aren't you working on a book on Plato? Even arguments made in the South - oh my god, Southerners' arguments are being taken seriously by some one, racists, racists, racists!! They must be racist I tell you - could be relevant today. You really need to question whether "progress" is inevitable and whether we are necessarily wiser in all ways today than people in ancient Greece or in 1855.

My definition of normality: Keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Enjoy.

From Paul G. :

I respectfully disagree.  What has typically happened in history, and maybe I'm stuck in the "old way" of thinking, is that the 99%, when radicalized against the status quo, are radicalized in two very different and two very incompatible directions.  There are very different ways of being against the status quo.  The division was most stark in Germany in the 30s.    Pretty much a complete breakdown of the status quo.  The political vanguard of the "99%" went brown shirt or communist. A similar thing happened in this country in the 60s and early 70s.  Political SDS hippies and hard hat American flag wavers. I don't think (I hope not) those two extremes are really a possibility here, but I do think that the middle class/lower middle class bifurcation is now splitting in a similar direction and will continue to.  It's the freedom loving "independent individuals" of the Tea Party distrusting government and so self-assured of their ability to stand alone and contemptuous of the casualities of human life that they want to dismantle all the social goods provided by government (and yes, I think there are many, many social goods provided by government, bureaucracy and all), versus those who distrust corporations and inequalities of wealth they produce.  I think the first group, the Tea Party libertarians and both woefully naive and dangerous.  They play right into the hands of corporate power and will largely be sucked up by it.  They don't, in my view, recognize where their interests lie.  And they can be callous cold hearted mother fuckers.  (Witness the applause at one of the debates of letting an uninsured person die in the streets rather than be treated in an emergency room).
And I agree with Lind.  Their positions and rhetoric seem straight out of the American south circa 1855. Again, I think there are very different (and very historically similar) ways of being against the status quo.  And I agree with Stockman and Krugman.  The Republican strategy for quite awhile has been "Starve the Beast," and we're finally at that point, or the illusion/manufactured fear that we're at that point is being pushed.
And culturally, as it's always been, it's those who run from modernity and embrace "old time values," and those who embrace modernity and risk falling into decadence.  That's a harder one to call.  In a certain way, I personally am more sympathetic to a moderate version of the "old time values," but again, put this in the hands of Gavin and Mahoney, and you're banning Playboy, charging a woman who has an abortion with murder, and carrying out campaigns against masturbation.

Have you heard the new phrase coined by Paul Ryan___that Ayn Rand lover__and co-opted by Jeb  Bush.  "The right to rise."  Yeah, right.  How about "the right to exploit others," or "the right to treat others as things."  There is a liberal Christian group pushing hard the total incompatibility of the avowedly atheist, crude Nietzschean, corporate social Darwinist Ayn Rand and Christianity.  If the fundamental Christians have any brains at all__and I think most of them do__they will eventually see this dichotomy.

More Radicals and Moderates

Again, read from the bottom up. More from my conversation with Paul G. about politics in the U.S. 

Well, it is not that Lind is wrong in my mind. Rather, it is that by identifying the Tea Partiers with "southern radical thinking" the result is a failure to take them and their concerns seriously. By this I mean not necessarily endorsing them but understanding that they are a reflection of seriousness of changing the status quo. I mean I look at it this way: Occupiers, Tea Partiers, low voter turnout, all point out to me that the political system is corrupt and the people know it. Those in power use their power to serve their class interests. Calling our government "divided" obscures what is actually going on, which is the oligarchs in both parties serving the oligarchs in society. On the most important, basic issues there is little disagreement between the parties that matters. [See the article in the Telegram today on Medicare and how Obama and Paul Ryan agree. Page one.] We the People know/sense this and are pissed off - as we should be. But the system is arranged to make such anger difficult to act on - just as the Founding Fathers intended!! Again and again, throughout American history, popular outrage has been "controlled" or "redirected." [Obama was Bush Lite on Iraq and Afghanistan. He was even health insurance lite: Hence, it passed only after Brown won in Mass. ending the Democrats "super majority." Why? So Obama could say: "Hey, folks this is all I could get.] For me, this is the goal of the primary movers and shakers in our system, which leads to collusion between the two parties. The corruption represented by the "bailout" - that is, that it went to those responsible for the collapse - could never have occurred if one of the two parties objected - that is, really objected!

You may fear changing the status quo but you had better fear the status quo as well. Obama did really sign legislation that allows him or another to detain American citizens indefinitely who are suspected of being a terrorist! And if you own guns, you can be suspected of terrorism! So where are the allegedly gun rights Republicans on this? Not objecting at all! If this isn't collusion then the word has no meaning.

On Sun, Jan 1, 2012 at 8:57 AM, Paul Gallagher <thepgallagh@gmail.com> wrote:

It's not an argument.  It's an admitted defect in my thinking.  You've been very good at pointing out to me that it's wrongheaded to separate the two.   But old habits die slowly.

Did Obama really sign such a thing?!?  Obama has *really* been a disappointment.

But honest to God, I lived on the fringe of the left in the early 70s and it scared me.  And this book, "In the Garden of the Beast" is truly scary because it makes the whole Nazi thing so vividly alive.  I feel very uncomfortable with extremists of any stripe.  

Have to run.  You're good for making me think, Peter.  But I'm curious.  What did you find a fault with the Lind article tracing the Tea Party to the southern radical thinking?  I thought it was spot on.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Radicals? Moderates?

A email debate between Peter and Paul, but no Mary! Sorry but you have to read this from the bottom up.

Peter Schultz
7:00 AM (0 minutes ago)Description: https://mail.google.com/mail/images/cleardot.gif

Description: https://mail.google.com/mail/images/cleardot.gif
Description: https://mail.google.com/mail/images/cleardot.gif
to Paul
Description: https://mail.google.com/mail/images/cleardot.gif
Ah yes, the good old thought that foreign policy and domestic policy are two different things, even though "you can't separate the two." But then you do. Hey, my friend, just take note that Obama just signed legislation that suspends habeas corpus - here at home. And what do you think the "Cold War" was about if not imposing discipline at home? McCarthy attacked us here. And of course all "moderates" like Obama sign laws that violate the Bill of Rights, right? Not so much. At least that isn't my idea of "moderation." Modernity is radical, that is, divorced from real reality and engaged in a politics that is little more than manipulation in attempt to become a "great" nation. Moral nation? Not so much. Free nation? Not so much. Relatively equal society? Not so much. Ah, but militarily predominant? Oh yeah. Engaged in inhuman acts, like torture [including Obama]? Oh yeah. That works. And Obama, your "moderate," just contributed to the cause. Isn't it amazing how language can be distorted so badly so that radicals are taken for "moderates" and moderates are taken for "radicals." See Orwell generally, and especially his essay on language and politics. He saw through the bullshit we call "reality." Until we see through this fog we have nowhere to go but down the road we are on now, the road to perdition. But at least we will be well armed when we get "there," if there is a there there!

Oh, and if you want "domestic" just consider the bailout and the fact that our level headed "moderates" thought that lowering interest rates would get us out of our troubles when it was that that got us into them! Or where most of that money went. Unintentionally, you say? Sure and the moon is made of cheese. Or consider the size of the prison/jail population in the United States. Another "moderate" policy? Not so much. Or consider that we put teenagers to death or the mentally incompetent as well. "Moderation?" Really?

And the problem with your argument about Stockman and shock therapy is not that you or Stockman is wrong; rather, it is that both parties collude in this policy because otherwise it could never have happened. For me, this is just further evidence that those in charge are radicals, not moderates. Only a radical could think and act like these guys and actually think such policies could work, in which they are just like the powers that use to be in the Soviet Union pursuing policies that could not possibly work, ever, except in their dreams. And for me this includes the Democrats as well as the Republicans.
On Sat, Dec 31, 2011 at 10:57 PM, Paul Gallagher <thepgallagh@gmail.com> wrote:

I'm not saying you are a fan of Ann Coulter.  Our big problem, I think, is that you think primarily in terms of foreign affairs (note your examples) and I think primarily in terms of domestic policy.  Maybe you can't separate the two, but, rightly or wrongly, I tend to. 

 My only point is that with regards to domestic politics, the political center in this country has moved significantly to the right in the last 30 years, and that from 32-79, the New Deal was largely accepted as a Done Deal, and domestic policies worked under that paradigm.  Since Reagan, but especially since W., that paradigm has been rejected and is being attack more and more by conservatives.  And I do think that "Starve the Beast" accurately describes the right's domestic strategy.  David Stockman admitted as much in the mid-80s.  He may have been the one to coin the phrase.  Run up the deficit, claim to be shocked, and then claim that the only way that can be addressed is to ax domestic programs.

Be that as it may.  Have a good 2012, my friend.

On Sat, Dec 31, 2011 at 9:02 PM, Peter Schultz <lpkschultz@gmail.com> wrote:
You have totally misunderstood my "radical" comment perhaps because you cannot escape the idea that there are only two political alternatives, liberal and conservative, as currently understood and that if one calls Democrats "extremists" one must be a fan of Ann Coulter, et. al. Kissinger and Nixon not radicals? You're kidding right? Those who overthrew a democratically elected president in Chile and destroyed an essentially democratic society there are not "radicals?" JFK trying to kill Castro, assassinating Diem in Nam, and Trujillo and Lumumba, bringing the world to the brink of nuclear war because he was obsessed with overthrowing Castro not a "radical?" Even Eisenhower overthrowing a democratically elected premier in Iran and supporting a hateful dictatorship while praising him as a bastion of decency not a radical? Carter praising the same dictator even as he was about to be overthrown and rightfully so not a "radical?" Bush declaring war on a tactic not a "radical?" FDR, stricken with polio, arguing that we have nothing to fear but fear itself not a radical? What about polio? Thankfully Jonas Salk did not listen to FDR! Why is it these people, all labeled "moderates" by the establishment, thought they could get away with supporting dictators and condone assassination and murder and terrorism if they were not "radicals?"

On Sat, Dec 31, 2011 at 3:01 PM, Paul Gallagher <thepgallagh@gmail.com> wrote:
Cool.  Skip the rest and go and get "In the Garden of the Beast." Very good and disturbing book.  History written like a good novel.

And while you're there, check out any book by Ann Coulter (especially her Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America) or any book by Sean Hannity (a good start is "Deliver Us from Evil:  Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism) and show me a book from the American "Left" that engages in anywhere close to a  similar elimiinationist rhetoric.  The titles and five minutes of perursing is enough.
On Sat, Dec 31, 2011 at 1:19 PM, Peter Schultz <lpkschultz@gmail.com> wrote:
Too far apart here to have a decent conversation. Will resume on some other topics.

On Sat, Dec 31, 2011 at 9:35 AM, Paul Gallagher <thepgallagh@gmail.com> wrote:
There are no extremists that control the Democratic party.  That's right wing media hype.  Obama, by any standards is a very moderate, overly moderate Democratic.  What you are seeing now is the dismantling, with Democrats wimpishly agreeing, or the social system put into place by FDR and expanded by LBJ.  Eisenhower was far to the left of most any Democrat in Congress right now.  Nixon was domestically to the left.  Those guys worked within the context of the New Deal.  We now are working within the context of the devised dismantling of that social structure.  The Tea Party is a lot closer to the SDS than to John Kerry.

"Starve the Beast."  Take a surplus, enact massive tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the rich, conduct an expensive, totally unneeded and unsuccessful war, cut way back on regulatory oversight of the financial sector, and create a huge deficit.  Create a crisis.  Then use that deficit/crisis to justify cutting back the social system that the wealthy have always hated.

I'm afraid we are seeing the status quo being shaken up, in a very,very bad.

It's right wing enacted class warfare.  And that's bad, bad, news.

The amazing thing that the right are starting to be called on is the bizarre attempt to mix Ayn Rand, staunch anti-Christian, pseudo Nietzschen "capitalist superman", heartless nut, with fundamentalist Christianity.  Certain mainstream Christian groups are calling them out on this.

Almost finished with "In the Garden of Beasts" by Erik Larsen.  A very good, and very disturbing read.  A story about the new American ambassador to Germany four months after the ascension of Hitler.  Political paranoia throughout the air.
On Sat, Dec 31, 2011 at 8:20 AM, Peter Schultz <lpkschultz@gmail.com> wrote:
Yeah, well, Lind could be right but I am more concerned with the extremists who control the Republican and Democratic Parties than I am with the Tea Party. Anything, or almost anything that shakes up the status quo is fine with me. I don't support the Tea Party and have no intention of doing so but this kind of stuff merely serves to preserve the status quo both at home and abroad.
On Wed, Dec 21, 2011 at 9:50 PM, Paul Gallagher <thepgallagh@gmail.com> wrote:

Description: https://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/no_photo.png
Click here to Reply or Forward