April 21, 2008 archive

Attention NEOhio Kossack/Docudharmists!

If you’re a kossack, and live within 100 miles of Cleveland, Ohio, then this diary is for you.

(and if you’re not, feel free to go visit the original diary and rec. it anyway, so those of us who are within that area can see it!)

Another good reason to rec this over there: Wouldn’t it be nice to see a non-Primary race diary on the Big-O rec list? 😉

Jump with me…

What Obama SO MUST ABSOLUTELY EVER do tomorrow…

…in order be even VAGUELY viable in general election.

Well, he has to win by 20%, of course, but then he has to…

Four at Four

  1. Lugo wins Paraguay Presidency, ending 62 years of one party rule, reports The New York Times. Fernando Lugo, the “bishop of the poor”, a former Roman Catholic bishop “who resigned from the church two years ago to run, will be the first Paraguayan president since 1946 not to be from Colorado Party.”

    Mr. Lugo, a gray-bearded man who exudes natural warmth and often wears sandals, was backed by the Patriotic Alliance for Change, Paraguay’s second-largest party… [He] tapped into a deep frustration with single-party rule in Paraguay. He accused the Colorado Party of entrenched patronage and corruption, a theme that resonated with voters. Paraguay has struggled since the Stroessner days to rid itself of a reputation for being among the most-corrupt countries in Latin America.”

    According to The Guardian, Lugo quit the clergy because “he felt powerless to help Paraguay’s poor”.

    “We ask you never to abandon us. We’ll make democracy together!” Lugo, 56, told cheering supporters as firecrackers resounded around Asuncion last night…

    Eight months ago, Lugo welded unions, Indians and poor farmers into a coalition with the main opposition party to form the Patriotic Alliance for Change… Lugo calls himself an independent and has steered clear of Latin America’s more radical leftwing leaders…

    Lugo will take office on 15 August, and has vowed to carry out agrarian reform to ensure poor peasant farmers can till their own land in a country where a small, wealthy elite owns the vast majority of farmland and cattle ranches.

    Did the door to Bush’s escape route to Paraguay just slam shut?

Four at Four continues below the fold with news of the al-Sadr-Rice Grudge Cage Match, torture at Guantánamo, and the Bush administration’s dismal record of prosecuting terrorism cases.

Rice: Bush safe in Washington while U.S. troops die in Iraq

A story in today’s Los Angeles Times quotes U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice mocking Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. In Rice, in Iraq, lashes out at Muqtada al-Sadr, she said of al-Sadr:

“He is still living in Iran,” she said. “I guess it’s all-out war for anybody but him.

“His followers can go to their death and he will still be in Iran.”

Has George W. Bush served alongside American troops in Iraq, or can they go to their death while he is safe in the United States? Is Dick Cheney part of the “surge” in Iraq, or does he have other priorities? Is Rice going to be leading troops on the ground now in Iraq?

Of all the hypocritical things to have ever come out of Rice’s mouth, this is Hall of Shame worthy.  

Hello Cruel World: My Plan For Tuesday And Thereafter

Somebody once told me that yawning was a sign of contempt.  So pardon me while I yawn about the Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Indiana primaries and any other ones that might be coming.  And pardon me while I yawn about those anti-democratic superdelegates and their views  And the polling.  And the delegate counts.  And the diaries about people who won’t vote for Obama.  Or Hillary.  And the diaries about how wonderful Hillary is.  And Obama.  And the speculation about the remaining endorsements (Al Gore, John Edwards, Mr. Magoo).  And the talk about the recent ABC “debate.”  And the talk about the brokered/open convention.  This stuff has turned into something stronger than SominexTM.  I’m yawning uncontrollably.  I’m amazed, however, that my yawn apparently isn’t triggering widespread yawns across the country, throughout left Blogsylvania, and beyond.

I have intense, incurable primary fatigue.  My span of attention expired weeks and weeks ago, when it was clear to me that Obama would and should be the nominee and that Hillary was too powerful with insiders and attachment just to stop campaigning.  I don’t care if it was clear to the candidates, because despite the obvious circumstances Hillary isn’t dropping out of anything.  And so, she slogs on.  Slogging tomorrow through Pennsylvania, and on to the next bog.  And those of us in the typing classes, what about us?  She can slog all she wants,but I’m done with this.  Done until there’s a nominee.  Finished until after the convention.  And I don’t want to hear anything more about it until the primary race is over.

I’m yawning so hard my jaw and my temples hurt.  And so I’m going on to the next things.  Of cours, I’m inviting you all to come with me.  In that way this is a Hello Cruel World Diary, a diary in which we step back from the screen and look around at the world outside it.

*Baseball season is underway.  When you watch or listen to the game, it’s about balls and strikes and mostly about making outs.  The strategy has been the same for a century.  Let’s play ball. Going to the ballpark is great.  Even sitting in front of the TV is fine.  Listening on the radio is old school.  And you know what?  They never mention the primaries.  Perfect.

*I’m returning to reading short stories by Jorge Luis Borges.  Two I love are The Zahir and its opposite, The Aleph.  These are particularly good now, because last week, unbeknownst to us in the US Buenos Aires was smothered in smoke.  We didn’t know about this, did we.  Why?  Well, it’s the primary season and our world view (like the Zahir) appears to have become locked on Pennsylvania to the exclusion of the rest of the Universe, especially Argentina, which we ignore even on a good day.

*I’m stepping away from the keyboard and going for a long walk.  With my dog.  Yesterday, I heard a bullfrog for the first time this Spring season.  If I had been sitting at the keyboard, as I am now, I would have missed this.  Or forgotten it.  Or assumed that it was just something else I wasn’t paying attention to.  Yesterday, I was wondering why my dog seemed slightly forlorn.  Maybe it was because she doesn’t give a damn about the primaries and would rather look for rabbits.  And to do that, she prefers to have me along to stir them up.  

*For now, I’m avoiding all essays and diaries about the candidates.  I’m going to go back to reading and writing about other stuff.  Latin America.  Torture.  The law.  Anything but the primaries.

I invite you all to join me.  Enough is certainly enough.  I know I can be a good an excellent Progressive by turning my attention elsewhere.  And I’m going to do just that.

Progressives, Liberals, Movements, and Political Parties

Cross-posted from my blog at Campaign for America’s Future.

Lately I’ve been getting an increasing recurrence of the same questions: what is the difference between liberals and progressives, and what is the difference between the Progressive Movement and the Progressive Party?  The answers to these questions are important, for as we inch ever closer to the general election in November and as primary battles across the country reach their conclusion the future of our country and our world shall be determined by them-and by how swiftly we figure them out.

The first question I shall tackle is, what is the difference between a liberal and a progressive?  For that I’ll quote the Huffington Post’s David Sirota, who explains it far more eloquently than I can:

I often get asked what the difference between a “liberal” and a “progressive” is. The questions from the media on this subject are always something like, “Isn’t ‘progressive’ just another name for ‘liberal’ that people want to use because ‘liberal’ has become a bad word?”

The answer, in my opinion, is no-there is a fundamental difference when it comes to core economic issues. It seems to me that traditional “liberals” in our current parlance are those who focus on using taxpayer money to help better society. A “progressive” are those who focus on using government power to make large institutions play by a set of rules.

To put it in more concrete terms: a liberal solution to some of our current problems with high energy costs would be to increase funding for programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). A more “progressive” solution would be to increase LIHEAP but also crack down on price gouging and pass laws better regulating the oil industry’s profiteering and market manipulation tactics. A liberal policy towards prescription drugs is one that would throw a lot of taxpayer cash at the pharmaceutical industry to get them to provide medicine to the poor; a progressive prescription drug policy would be one that centered around price regulations and bulk purchasing in order to force down the actual cost of medicine in America (much of which was originally developed with taxpayer R&D money).

Let’s be clear: most progressives are also liberals, and liberal goals in better funding America’s social safety net are noble and critical. It’s the other direction that’s the problem. Many of today’s liberals are not fully comfortable with progressivism as defined in these terms. Many of today’s Democratic politicians, for instance, are simply not comfortable taking a more confrontational posture towards large economic institutions (many of whom fund their campaigns)-institutions that regularly take a confrontational posture towards America’s middle-class.

Twenty Theses About Money

Since almost all of you forgot to read my diary of last February about Hutchinson, Mellor, and Olsen’s The Politics of Money, I’m going to try to encapsulate the wisdom contained therein in a series of bullet points, with links added.  Maybe I was too long-winded back then.

(crossposted at Big Orange)

Has Karl Rove Won The Democratic Primary?


The strength of Progressive/Liberal/Democratic activists (hereafter referred to as The Left) has always been their passion.

The weakness of Progressive/Liberal/Democratic activists….. has always been their passion.

That weakness is haunting us again, right now. Passionate people are easy to manipulate. Passion overwhelms thought and causes emotional, rather than analytical decision making. That passion and emotion has united The Left into a powerful force in the past around many issues such a Civil Rights, Womens Rights and the Peace Movement. That passion has also been used to easily sow division in The Left, by introducing  agents provocateurs to redirect that passion from its Right Wing targets….and to foment division in The Left. Thus fracturing it.

The only real way, unfortunately, to tell if this is happening is to wait and see if it happens. If The Left ends up fractured over some issue, you can bet that operatives from The Right have had a hand in fracturing it.

As it is ….coincidentally?….. fractured right this very moment over the primaries.

When The Left is fractured, the RW wins. This phenomena, plus propaganda (as BarbinMD highlights) and organized voter suppressions effort are some of the prime reasons the RW has been able to gain and keep power throughout the Baby Boom. The Left had/has superior numbers, The Right had/has superior, if despicable, tactics.  

The Bank of England is now propping up THEIR credit crisis, too.

The Bank of England has announced a £50 billion plan to help prevent the ongoing credit crisis that has seemingly gone world-wide since the problems became evident in the USA.

£50 billion is $99.82 billion in US Dollars.  That is a lot of money and shows that the underlying fundamentals of the world markets are, unlike what the Bush administration tells us, becoming more and more shakey by the day.

From BBC:

Banks will be able to swap potentially risky mortgage debts for secure government bonds to enable them to operate during the credit squeeze.

The Bank’s governor, Mervyn King, said the scheme aimed to improve liquidity in the banking system.

It should also increase confidence in financial markets, he added.

Under the scheme, banks will be allowed to swap their “high quality” mortgage debts for government securities.

The British Government is allowing banks to exchange mortgage debt for Government backed bonds.  Sounds like another bail-out at tax payers expense, wouldn’t you say?  Only, once again, the tax-payers aren’t the ones getting bailed out.

Give Me Directions

I can find the United States on a map and I know I live here. But I am having a hard time actually finding it. I wonder if we have become a nation of sub Americas in which nobody knows the other exists. There used to be a Chevy commercial that crooned about being the “heart beat” of America, if you still believe that you can buy the swag to reassure yourself. Surely now, filling up that truck is just as like to give you a heart attack.

Ah, I see that 30 percent of economists think the economy will be shrinking this year.

Does that mean it will still fit when we try it on?

Great I was hoping I could fit into those smaller sized jeans I have stashed in the closet. Not likely any of us will be actually buying a new pair any time soon. Apparently an additional 70 percent of economists are pessimistic about the economy’s outlook than just three months ago. Pessimistic?

The average wage of a “corporate economist” is about 106,000 dollars. Those employed by the federal government make around on average 94,000 dollars a year. Granted, they have to go to school for a very long time, it takes a while to properly indoctrinate folks to never question the supremacy of the free market. The best young economists have the highest school debt, they have worked their asses off and are too shy to admit that just maybe they were overly optimistic about how great it is to tinker with capitalism. It is great for the people who hire the economists to do so. Come on nobody invites the servants to birthday parties.

Birthday parties are new and exciting opportunities for social anxiety. That is what great about this country: we keep finding more means by which to both feel inadequate and spend a few more bucks trying to vanquish it.

‘Bout That Food Crisis (long-apologies)

[Crossposted from Fire on the Mountain.]

Some kind of quantity changing into quality point has been reached–suddenly the newspapers are full of "in-depth" reports on the global food crisis, a crisis that seems to have sprung up as suddenly as the credit crisis did a few months ago. I've been tracking this for a while and decided to think on the keyboard instead of out loud. I think it is important to try and understand this while it is a New Thing, before it becomes more background noise in world politics and our daily lives.  

1. Production shortages and inflation are two major factors in the crisis.  

What's causing the shortages?  

Global warming is widely regarded as a contributing factor in droughts which have stricken not only subsistence farmers in East Africa, but also major commodity grain producers in the Southern Hemisphere–Chile, Argentina, and especially Australia, with thousands of square miles in their eighth straight year with no rainfall to speak of.  

Growing Asian economies, especially in China and India, have made possible better and more diverse diets for hundreds of millions of people. This growing demand for food has additionally seen rising meat consumption by the middle class (echoing US consumption trends), and, as vegetarians are quick to point out, it takes 16 pounds of grain to produce a pound of beef.

Are We Losing Our Power To Think?

“the major virtues of liberal society in the past was that it made possible such a variety of styles of intellectual life – one can find men notable for being passionate and rebellious, for being elegant and sumptuous, or spare and astringent, clever and complex, patient and wise, and some equipped mainly to observe and endure. … It is possible, of course, that the avenues of choice are being closed and that the culture of the future will be dominated by single-minded men of one persuasion or another. It is possible; but insofar as the weight of one’s will is thrown onto the scales of history, one lives in the belief that it not be so” — Richard Hofstadter.

My head hurts. — popular saying


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