If early 1800s represented an Era of Good Feelings, our times should go down in history as the Era of Bad Feelings. Nowhere has that been better exemplified than in the current nastiness pervading the Democratic Party. Although Barack Obama has for all extensive purposes won the nomination, the forces of Hillary Clinton claim she deserves to be the candidate and that they would rather vote for someone else or not vote at all than vote for Obama.
Some Clinton dissidents have formed a 571 group called P.U.M.A., whose initials purportedly stand for "Party Unity My Ass," but whose official title is People United Means Action. Saying they will not vote for the Democratic Nominee, the group says:
Some of us will stay home. Some of us will vote for a third-party. Some of us will write-in Clinton. Many of us will vote for John McCain. This is a protest. Whatever option our members choose, it does not make us Republicans. Those who vote for John McCain will do so as a strategy, a protest. Those of us who withdraw from the Democratic Party and become Independents are still Democrats in our hearts. We are all Democrats. This is our party. The leaders did us wrong. They did Hillary Clinton wrong. They did our country wrong. But it's still our party.
For those threatening to vote for John McCain or to stay home and help ensure Barack Obama's defeat, as a way to protest what you call Obama's sexism (examples of which you seem to have difficulty coming up with), all the while claiming to be standing up for women...
Your whiteness is showing.
Road Rage blatantly severs the social compact that binds us all, asserting with upraised finger that the collective we no longer has any relevance. All that matters is me and mine. Road Rage is shock jocks on radio, Bill O'Reilly rudely interrupting yet another guest, and, most of all, the take no prisoners mentality that rules everything from city council chambers and corporate board rooms to the halls of Congress.
In Strange Death, I viewed our times as a harrowing search for ourselves and for meaning, as if we were trying to find the real us in a maze of mirrors. Identity has become a supreme issue for our times. Crushed by corporate sameness that has our neighborhoods and the places we work and shop becoming interchangeable parts on some ghastly giant assembly line designed to produce androids, a lot of us feel anonymous--a theme that is making certain Hollywood movie-makers quite rich.
This last quarter of a century or so is probably the first time in our history that a large number of people we deal with each day are people we do not know. As we venture about, we carry our identity with us, like pioneers and their covered wagons, knowing that at any time the winds may shift and suddenly sweep down on us, or some unforeseen disaster may thrust its serpent head and deadly fangs from behind a rock, rattles singing a warning to back off.
This engenders a modern clannishness in which we seek safety and identity among people with the same taste in blogs. Micro-targeting is not just an analytical technique it is a social phenomenon. The reality show Survivor is right on target with this, choosing its cast members to represent certain well-known social stereotypes, then placing them in artificial groups where they are supposed to collaborate but the real game is to stab people in the back. In this world our group allegiances engender certain social and media-driven behaviors where it becomes ok to plot and even attack members of an opposite group. That the show has been so popular attests to the responsive chord this has struck in Americans who recognize it in their work, their neighborhood, their politics.
To be heard these days it seems you have to shout or no one will listen. The more outrageous and inflammatory the opinion the more likely it is someone will hear it and pass it on. Today the bad feelings engendered by this atmosphere lie right on the surface. More than anything else the political equivalent to Road Rage occupies center stage in Washington, like a rude guest invited to an exclusive party, who eats with his fingers, belches after every bite, punctuates every sentence with a profanity, tries to grope the hostess, tells all the other guests where they can go and when he isn't doing any of the above makes sure to fart as loud as he can so we know he is still there. Insults, hard-ball legislative maneuvering, and it's my way or the highway tactics, fill the bag of tricks of many a person who occupies a seat in Congress much as they fill the bag of tricks of any third-grade bully worth his reputation.
Everywhere the put-down, the insult, is the stock in trade. If you do not see one in an hour of television-watching you are either watching Leave it to Beaver or an old movie. Nastiness has even become the prime tool of sports writers, who seem determined to bring Limbaugh journalism to the locker room. And one cannot get through even part of a day without being either the victim of or witness to some form of intimidation or deliberate nastiness.
We all have our favorite moments when we have realized this is true of events of our times, whether public or private. Maybe it was when someone cut in front of you in the supermarket just once too many times. Maybe it was after receiving some particularly vicious piece of spam mingled with email from your friends and relatives. Maybe it was a steady diet of attack ad commercials that had you grabbing whatever was handy and throwing it at the television screen. Maybe it was the last time you watched C-Span and saw how those so-called people in Congress actually behave. Maybe you happened to catch one of those purveyors of vitriol who now clog the airwaves, causing a bad sewage backup that stinks so foully no one will even come fix it.
For neutral observers of the Road Rage of the current Democratic dust-up must seem positively irrational. Feminists are so angry about what happened to Hillary Clinton they are willing to aid in the victory of a candidate was party platform has advocated the nomination of pro-life justices to overturn Roe v. Wade. Meanwhile the rigid Obama types seem determined to so anger the Clinton forces that it will make such a scenario all but inevitable.
Yet, as is often the case with Road Rage the real culprit was the driver who tried to merge across four lanes of freeway leaving a mess behind while driving off into the sunset. In the coming weeks I will explore some of these real culprits and their role in causing the current feud in the Democratic Party.
Meanwhile the forces of the Republican Counterrevolution must be laughing and rejoicing at the situation that has driven a wedge into the Democratic Party and between two key groups the Counterrevolution has worked so hard against. Not long ago the pundits were writing articles about how the McCain nomination had driven a wedge through the Republican Party, but now John McCain must be wondering if his destiny is being guided by some other force, for he has one from being the last choice of many key Republican groups to winning the nomination and then from inheriting the mess George Bush has left the country in to watching the Democrats self-destruct.
Since Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond made state's rights and the provisions of his Southern Manifesto part of Barry Goldwater's campaign and the Nixon Southern Strategy, the Counterrevolution has sought to diminish the voting power and rights of people of color. In the 2000 Florida debacle no less than the Civil Rights Commission found evidence of deliberate attempts to keep African Americans from the polls. Then the GOP sought to overturn one of the most important pieces of legislation in American History--the Voting Rights Bill.
On top of this have come deliberate impacts on the other cornerstones of Liberal America including Social and Economic Justice, Educational Equity and Media Fairness. The Counterrevolution has fought Affirmative Action from the beginning. It has gutted government programs designed to help people of color and other low-income Americans. Along with its Supreme Court, the Counterrevolution is looking to overturn one of the most hallowed of all Supreme Court decisions: Brown v. Board. Maybe someone should ask John McCain if he favors the opinions of Thomas and Scalia and will appoint others like them. Finally the Counterrevolution has supported an increasing media concentration that has had the impact of lessening the percentage of people of color who own mass media outlets.
As for women, just who do you think built and is maintaining the glass ceiling Hillary Clinton spoke out against? It has been paid for by the corporate plutocrats who have been a key constituency of the Counterrevolution since dating back to their opposition to the reforms of the Progressive Era and the New Deal. Then there is the Religious Right. Have those who threaten to put John McCain in the White House as a "protest" forgotten how the fundamentalists rewrote the Baptist Faith and Message that served as the central creed of the organization, a move that had occurred only twice before in the century. Have they forgotten this passage from Section XVII:
A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ.
In a paragraph that captures how the Counterrevolution has had an impact on both women and people of color, the WomenMatter web site writes since the days of the Dixiecrats:
Republicans focused on guidelines for the states rather than detailed rules, wishing to leave to the states the choice of specific kinds of machines and training. Those states where race history makes for competitive voting patterns between whites and blacks have been dominated by the Republican Party since Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1965.
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There was a tremendous response to my bike commuting post, but there was a whole bunch of stuff I missed, so consider this Part Two.[...]
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One night in 1968, my father was in a Manhattan ballroom for the first time in his life, watching Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jr. hand me an award. The expression on his face was the essence of "nachas," the word immigrants used for the joy and pride their children give them to redeem a lifetime of suffering.
I had been six or so at a Fourth of July parade when the colors came by and my father?s hat went flying from his head, knocked off by the beefy hand of a red-faced man behind us pointing at the flag. Shame and rage rose in me, but my father only smiled sweetly, nodded and bent to pick up the hat.
Years later, I read that, as a child, Sigmund Freud was told by his father that a man had grabbed his new fur cap and flung it into the mud, shouting, ?Jew, get off the street.? Freud recalled angrily asking, ?What did you do?? His father answered calmly, ?I stepped into the gutter and picked up my cap.? In dreams, Freud would later note, a hat may stand for male genitals.
My father never talked about the past. I knew him only as a man who went to work early, came home late, ate his dinner, kissed me goodnight and went to bed. We did not play ball or go to games or listen to them on the radio. He told no stories and passed on no fatherly wisdom. He expected nothing, envied no one. He just slaved sixty hours a week to put food in my mouth, and he loved me without words. What I learned about his life came later and not from him.
He had had no childhood. From birth, he was fated to serve others after his own father died soon after he was born. From then on, he was harnessed to a mother who tended store and, as soon as he could, was hauling sacks and crates.
They lived in Podhajce, one of those small cities in Galicia constantly being overrun by Turks, Tatars, Austrians, Poles and Russians, who in passing would rob and slaughter some of the local Jews. In 1943, the Nazis would finish their work, declaring Podhajce "Judenrein," cleansed of them all.
When my father was sixteen, an older sister sent her six-year-old son, Bernard Kleinrock, to live with his grandmother. Most of what I know about my father's life came from him.
In 1914, the Austrian Army fled town amid rumors that approaching Russian soldiers would rob, rape and murder. My grandmother packed what she could onto a wheelbarrow and tied the rest into bed sheets, which my father slung over his back. They spent two days and nights on clogged roads before the Austrian Army herded them into the fields so as not to slow down their own retreat.
With no food left, my grandmother decided to head back home. "Thank God for Izzy's stamina," Bernard wrote years later. "He wheeled us for miles in the wheelbarrow past dead and dying soldiers and horses beside the road."
The Russians came and went, and the Austrians retook Podhajce and drafted my father into their army. He served four years and came back in 1919 after nine months in the hospital with wounds suffered on the Italian front. He took Bernard to Warsaw and, after months of waiting for visas, for a month-long trip on a cattle ship to America.
My father's sister, 21 years older, married and living in Manhattan, took them in and brought the boy to a doctor to find out why at 16 years old he looked ten. The answer was malnutrition.
At the age of eight, I was dazzled by Bernard's wedding to Anna--the glowing bride in white, the two of them under a canopy, his foot smashing the glass to the cries of "Mazel Tov!" In years to come, they would visit, bringing food from their grocery and gifts for me, once a briefcase along with a loving lecture about the value of education.
In 1983, after their golden wedding anniversary, Bernard and Anna Kleinrock went back to Europe to see the King of Sweden present its highest scientific award to their son Leonard for his achievements as "The Father of the Internet."
Nachas, squared. And my father, who thought of himself as most insignificant of men, by saving his nephew had helped change the world.
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You can always change the channel, so John, Marcy, TBogg, Oliver, and you too Avedon, if you don’t have anything nice to say and you’re unsure about the timing of speaking ill of the dead . . . don’t.I agree with absolutely everything you guys have to say, and I’ll agree with it later, at [...]
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This week DWT covered Dana Rohrabacher's shady shenanigans twice-- first when he refused to join a huge bipartisan veto-proof majority in extending unemployment benefits to the victims of the Bush Economic Miracle, and then again yesterday when we looked at which members of Congress had voted for the unconstitutional Military Commissions Act that authorized torture and challenged the basic concept of habeas corpus. Rohrabacher was an enthusiastic supporter then and he thinks the Supreme Court was wrong in declaring the outrage against rule of law unconstitutional last week.
Blue America has endorsed the Mayor of Huntington Beach, Debbie Cook, is her campaign to bring representative sanity back to Orange County. And we're not the only ones who noticed Rohrabacher's outrageous behavior this past week. The editorial board of the Huntington Beach Independent reminded its readers that Rohrabacher is like a "crazy relative who always manages to embarrass themselves at family functions."
During a recent hearing of the subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rohrabacher appeared dismissive of FBI complaints that interrogators used inappropriate, possibly illegal techniques on suspected terrorist detainees in Guantanamo Bay. Instead, he repeatedly cited a report of panties put on detainees? heads as comparable to ?hazing pranks,? arguing it didn?t come close to the definition of torture.
Perhaps it wasn?t the point Rohrabacher was making that struck a nerve with so many political observers. It was perhaps instead the issue of a man elected to public office steering a serious debate in a dismissive direction of frivolity. Two explanations are possible.
One is that Rohrabacher is really so obtuse as to not comprehend that the debate was about more than ?panties on the head.?
At the meeting, others even tried to point out that the FBI also reported seeing physical abuse and other elements of humiliation. Rohrabacher ignored them and fixated instead on panties.
One would like to think a man who has served as a congressman for two decades would be more sensitive than this.
The other explanation for Rohrabacher?s remarks is that he understood the issues at play and deliberately chose to ignore the gravity of discussing torture. The congressman in that case would seem to believe he is fooling everyone in painting the FBI?s findings as ridiculous. To him, it?s as if the rest of the educated world doesn?t see past his scoffings.
This is the same technique he used earlier that week when he called parts of environmentalism ?pseudoscience.? While not all scientists agree on the threat of global warming, the vast majority of peer-approved science has produced vast amounts of evidence proving it?s a real and serious threat. Rohrabacher seems to believe he is the final authority and that everyone will assume he is right and join in the scoffing.
Huntington Beach Mayor Debbie Cook, his challenger for the congressional seat, said it best.
?Torture is not to be taken lightly, especially when the prestige and moral authority of the United States government is at stake,? she said.
We hope the representative realizes this before his next speaking appointment. If not, someone needs to take his microphone away.
Entry Banners from The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago.This is the third installation of a[...]
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Bush's Official Conspiracy Theory of 911 Defies the Laws of Physics. If an airliner of some 100 tons had crashed into the Pentagon, some 100 tons of debris would have been recovered. It wasn't recovered because it wasn't there! Not even Bush's kiss ups have dared make such a claim!
The question then is not 'where is the airliner', but 'where is the debris'? Until Bush can come up with a better cover story, his 'theories' are not credible. Stories inconsistent with demonstrable physics are --bluntly --bald-faced lies. Odds are good that whomever is most motivated to lie about 911 is guilty of it!
The 'official conspiracy theory' of 911, exploited to justify the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, is just such a lie. Bush's official conspiracy theory requires a complete rewrite of the laws of physics going back to Galileo, Newton, and perhaps even Aristotle. It is more reasonable to conclude that Bush is a part of a murderous plot to seize dictatorial powers than to conclude that Galileo, Newton and Einstein were just wrong about matter, motion, and the conservation of both matter and energy. I don't they were wrong. Rather --I think Bush is a goddamn liar!
Read the rest of the story at The Existentialist Cowboy
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Tim Russert's passing reminds me that this Obama-McCain matchup was the election the Media dreamed of. This was the one that was going to change politics.
Well, anyone watching the first week of the campaign since the departure of Hillary Clinton must have noticed that in fact what we have gotten is more of the same. John Mercurio writes:
[L]isten closely to the debate this week over the campaign's No. 1 issue, and you'll hear how comfortably Obama and McCain conform to their parties' tried-and-true orthodoxies, the ones that repeatedly set the stage for a sharply divided -- and static -- electoral map.
As a Democrat, I am glad to see the Obama team understands that Obama can not change politics, that he must engage in it. A sharply partisan campaign is very much to Obama's favor and the first rule in politics is you win before you can transform. Others have noticed the pedestrian nature of the campaign:
David Brooks: Dear Dr. Collins, can you explain this strange feeling of ennui? Why is there no zip in my zest, no snap in my vigor? Why does my mood stretch out blue and lifeless, like a patient etherized upon a table?
Here we have two outstanding presidential candidates. The Economist magazine, which is so much cleverer than the rest of us, lauds them as the best of America. And yet somehow the campaign is not exactly Lincoln v. Douglas or Plato v. Aristotle. Every days issue blip is more trivial than the last. McCain used some unfortunate phrase about American troops staying in Iraq and the Obama henchmen launched a thousand conference calls twisting the phrase entirely out of context and claiming that McCain doesnt care about the fate of the troops. James Johnson, Obamas V.P. vetter and a highly respected political practitioner, takes an insider loan or two and the entire McCain apparatus erupts as if this transgression reflects directly on Obamas fitness for office. . . .
(Emphasis supplied.) Actually, Lincoln/Douglas was not what the mythmakers make of it now. I suggest folks read the actual debates. Demagoguery and false outrage were the order of the day then too. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The funny thing is unlike the Media, as a Democrat, I think this is a POSITIVE development, not a negative one. I was worried that our candidate might have believed his press clippings. I am much more at ease now that I see Obama is capable of the partisan slant, the persistent characterization of McCain as "running for Bush's third term," and a full throated politics of contrast/Fighting Dems campaign.
The Media mourns. I am pleased.
By Big Tent Democrat, speaking for me only
Hoffmania! John McCain vs POWs - Cindy and Swift Boater win big. Open Left: FISA cave-in imminentThe Big Picture: Foreclosures up 48% in Mayalicublog: Old America-New America The Impolitic: Idiotic AP vendettaVagabond Scholar: Batocchio looks back at the whole nomination process, focusing especially on all the insanity of the last few months.
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