Florida and Michigan–Rebels on the Run

· dKo journal, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

Leaving aside everything else about this campaign, I’d like to zero-in on whether the delegates from these two states should or should not be seated. So, I have composed this imaginary statement in the name of the Democratic National Committee:
STATEMENT
–Barak Obama promised not to campaign in Florida, and he kept his word. He must be punished.
–Mr. Obama promised not to campaign in Michigan, and he kept his word. He even took his name off the ballot!. He must be severely punished.
–To all the other state parties who had also sought to hold earlier primaries, but in the end agreed to keep to the rules. Just kidding!
–By seating these two delegations, we are trying to send a message to you and to all 50 states about the primaries that will come up in 2012: Go ahead and ignore our warnings. There will be no sanctions to back them up! See, they did it, and nothing happened to them.
–To the voters in Michigan and Florida, please don’t hold it against your own state party leaders for invalidating your votes. This was their decision. They are the ones who willfully and deliberately put you in this position. But is it fair to hold them accountable for it?
–This all started when we decided to preserve a tradition: Primary season opens with the slow-paced, multi-candidate, face-to-face “retail politics” of the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.
This year, the Iowa caucuses took place on January 3. But think how great it would have been if you had jumped ahead of them, pushing the primaries back into 2007. The attention! The coverage! The Red Carpets!
Of course, after we seat Florida and Michigan this year, you will have a lot of company and competition in the 2011/2012 cycle. We could have a two-year long primary season!
Why did Barack Obama have to go and keep his word? What an idiot! We’ve got to nip this in bud.

Will There Be US Bases in Iraq?

· dKo journal, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

Absolutely not.
“The U.S. ambassador…told Congress last week that the deal would not establish permanent bases in Iraq nor specify the number of forces to be stationed” there. —Washington Post, 4-15-08
This unspecified number of troops will not be housed in bases, but since they will be stationed there for an also unspecified period, the Army plans to consruct Stations. Military architects envision a standardized high-domed Grand Central Station motif, encircled by tall, tapering blast-walls. The Army, you know; they’re just sentimental.

Capitalism and the Homeowner: Contempt Hidden in Plain Sight

· dKo journal, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

Marxists have long suggested that home ownership is encouraged under capitalism because when masses of people own small-scale properties, they identify with and defend large-scale capitalist ownership of true wealth in the means of production. Homeowners in America, then, are comparable to the land-owning peasantry in the Old Countries, unwitting bastions of reactionary economics.
From Marxists, this can sound a bit conspiracy/paranoidish. So, let’s hear it from The Man
[My BF]: “[Greenspan] said that the subprime boom would boost home ownership and was ‘worth the risk.’ ...[because] ‘protection of property rights, so critical to a market economy, requires a critical mass of owners to sustain political support.’” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/20/AR2008032003708_2.html?nav=rss_email/components&sid=ST2008032003800
And political support there has been! Ordinary people insisting on tax cuts for multimillionaires. It has worked amazingly well, indeed, insanely well.
Worth the risk. Greenspan is a risk-assessor extraordinaire, legendary. So, how much pain was he willing to risk inflicting?
For instance, how many millions of life-plans, some carefully provided for over many years, was he willing to see shredded in an instant? How many millions of secure retirements gone to Hell? How many educations snatched from outstretched fingers? How much poverty and homelessness, night-terrors and desperation suicides was he willing to risk inflicting on America?
All of these consequences, we are told, while not inevitable, are definitely in prospect.
But it was “worth the risk.” Clearly, he does not express this as a close call, but as a small price to pay to “sustain political support” for what he still whimsically terms “a market economy.” For the wealth class, It is a small price because it will be paid by small people: the working people, the unemployed, the literally dispossessed. In a famous phrase, the “little people,” who, unlike the rich, have to pay their income taxes.
As Greenspan notes, capitalism requires legions of small owners over the long term: their false hopes, flotsam businesses, and fragile 401(k) sense of ownership. In good times, when obscene wealth is vulnerable to the disgust of decency, they are indispensable. But things change. We have rocky seas. The bet turned bad. But here is the Greenspan world’s courage on display, disregarding the extreme danger of splash marks on their vests, they have the guts to throw the small owners overboard like garbage.
And in the midst of this, the unconscionable cynicism of an Alan Greenspan can be stated publicly in the newspaper, and pass unnoticed.

The Obama Charisma Recoi. “Have a little faith; there’s magic in the night.”

· dKo journal, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

I wrote this in response to an article on another list, but the general attitude I responded to is common enough. It is a recoil at the sight of Barak Obama’s rallies and speeches mostly, but also his political positions. The typical terms include: platitudes, revivalist, naive, empty, credulous, cult, spell, euphoria, fervor, creepy, messianic. It is a revulsion of the sophisticated from what they see as mesmerized, mindless mass hysteria.
So, some responses to all of that:
8 things come to mind. (Most of them, I notice, are more than 30 years old.)
1. When I was working in the Bob Scheer for Congress campaign in 1966, people would say he was using us, and I would say, “Never trust a politician who isn’t using you.”
2. When I wrote an endorsement of McGovern for President in 1972, people would say he wasn’t going to do what he says that he will do, and I would say, “Then he is building us a protest movement; what have we got now?”
3. When we said in 1964, “Don’t trust anybody over 30,” I honestly think that expressed, “Don’t trust anybody who is over 30 in 1964.” Because we saw a generation for whom every mass political gathering was the growth of fascism. That was the life they had lived. They had reason. We have no excuse.
4. A “cult.” I used to indulge in making fun of Mormonism. And one day someone said it was not a religion, but a cult. And I realized, “What am I doing?” A Jew deriding someone else’s religion. I could describe Christianity or Judaism, using accurate detail, in such a way that it sounded like a cult. You can describe any congregation of belief, good or bad, as a cult. The Anti-Vietnam War movement was a cult. Thank God for it.
5. Platitudes. “We Shall Overcome.” “Freedom Now!” “Keep Your Eye on the Prize.” Platitudes. Thank God for them.
“Black and white together.” A wild, desperate hope. How credulous can you get? How unsophisticated and naive can you be? And it takes many years. And it is far from being done. But when we see some of it in action, in big-time action, in credulous, youth-driven action, why can’t we rejoice? Even if the hope and heart we see this day, this time around, should end in disappointment, should only move us one step forward, why can’t we rejoice? I am proud of holding hands in a vast, naive, credulous circle, singing platitudes with a thousand other fools. Thank God for that folly; it did good. This, today, is doing good.
Virtue needs our help more than folly needs our disapproval.
6. In the days of “Listening to Prozac,” I saw something in my own subculture, a commitment to despondency, an implacable cynicism. If you were sensitive, you were miserable, and if anyone was happy, they weren’t facing reality.
7. “Obama’s….going around issuing promissory notes on the future that he can’t possibly redeem…. Promises to heal the world with negotiations with the likes of Iran’s President Ahmadinejad.”
Talk is not cheap. If talks with Iran meant nothing, this administration would have yielded to them long ago. But, settlements are too much within reach. They fear a settlement. Syria and Iran have both offered comprehensive settlements, including Palestine. But we refuse to give up “regime change,” which means overthrowing their governments and installing ones that we approve. (Yes, that is our policy.)
Talks mean normalization, regional security, renouncing the overthrow of their governments. In return, Assad suggests he could even turn off Hamas, which in turn would turn off the Israeli Right. Talks mean peace, and we will not allow it.
8. Talk isn’t cheap at home. Health reform. Someone asked Obama what he would do if that couple from the 1990s TV commercials were brought back, the folksy ones who destroyed health reform by saying the government would choose your doctor and dictate your medical care. Obama said that he would go on television and say that they were lying.
That was actually deep. I think he, and no one else around–in part because of his so objectionable inclusiveness–could really do that and be listened to. When the truth is listened to, more often than not it is believed.
Bush has cut taxes for the rich repeatedly for the last eight years. He got away with it because there was no talk. Let’s have a national discussion. Let’s bring in both Left and Right. Are we afraid of that?
Most of Bush’s policies have been totally indefensible. Let’s make somebody defend them. Let’s go back to Square 1 and defend the assumptions we have made. We should be eager for an open-ended talk about fundamental questions. For example:
“Are the wealthy the engines of progress, of economic growth? You used to say it was the marketplace, ordinary people with money in their hands, well informed, making their own decisions, driving economic growth. Only the wealthy who served them would prosper, and the rest would fade away. Now you say bypass the ordinary people and give money directly to the wealthy, all of them, not because they serve, but just because they’re rich. What good does that do? Could you please defend that policy?”
But they cannot defend that policy. The Right cannot survive such talk. If we all put our cards on the table, we will have the stronger hand. And I can see why old fighters returning to the ring are not likely to precipitate it. Maybe Obama, the bland, open to all, folksier-than-thou, but still, please notice, insisting on a core of serve the people, and putting youthful eyes on politics, maybe Obama can make a start.
What have we got now?

Illegality of Marijuana May Cause Lung Disease

· dKo journal, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

A few studies now suggest that marijuana may increase the risk of lung disease–not the marijuana itself, but its illegality, which makes it expensive, causing people to hold the smoke deep inside their lungs.
The DEA is all about Public Health. They will undoubtedly now campaign to make marijuana legal and cheap, so the smoking styledoesn’t harm the lungs. Already, they reassure us that today’s crops are much more potent–trying to get across that marijuana is now safer: less smoke, same effect.
And how delighted they must be that the new smokeless vaporizers have proved as effective as the smoke itself. They’ll probably tell parents “Kids listen. Protect them with straight talk about the health benefits of vaporizers.” Maybe they’ll back a tax credit.
–David