Saturday, August 9, 2008

SAT 5 a la Lex

Today's five questions are pilfered from this crackling back-and-forth between the Guardian and Zizek - about as good a fast introduction to the old Slovenian Lacanian as you could ask for, btw. it's both pithy and "capital C" Communist.

  1. What is your most unappealing habit?
  2. What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?
  3. What is the worst job you've done?

  4. What is the closest you've come to death?
  5. How do you relax?

Friday, August 8, 2008

With This I Bid You a Fine Weekend

As If We Needed More Proof

Check out John McCain's speech on "Creating Jobs in America." Read through it. There is one, count it, one idea for "creating jobs in America"... lowering taxes on businesses.

McCain seems to be asserting that businesses are moving jobs overseas because taxes on businesses are too high. Now, one might be able to argue that businesses are "relocating" overseas to avoid corporate taxes, but in order to reverse that trend, you'd have to eliminate taxes on business altogether, no?

Businesses are relocating jobs overseas because they can get cheaper labor and, in some cases, avoid environmental and safety regulations. The sad fact is that, because of free trade, which I assume that McCain still supports, the only way to get those jobs back is to get the American worker to agree to work for third world wages and to roll back all regulation on businesses. In other words, a race to the bottom.

I want to assert that McCain knows all this, and talk of job creation is just a bunch of jibber jabber, but is it? I mean, if he knew he was lying about job creation, wouldn't he have done it more effectively? My fear is that he and his advisers really are just fucked up enough to believe that lowering taxes really is some sort of magical cure-all and if we just get taxes down low enough, then manufacteuring jobs will come flooding back.

In a Nutshell

Politico has a post wherein Obama and McCain are asked who controls the remote.
McCain: Sometimes I win the arm wrestling contest, but foolishly she continues to try to assert her control over the remote...

Obama: If I tell her, ''Sweetie, we've got game 5 of the NBA finals on,'' she's willing to give me a little slack. Most of the time, though, the TV is on HGTV, and I suffer that silently.
The comments section is largely a back and forth about whether McCain is a controlling asshole or whether he was joking. Then there was this comment which I found hilarious, disturbing, and probably a decent summation of the presidential race as portrayed in the American media:
The 'who controls the remote' question and answers from the candidates shouldn't surprise anyone. You have a man's man like John McCain who put his life on the line for his country hundreds of times and hangs out with real men in the military, at NASCAR rallies, Biker events and with working class guys. And you have an effeminate 95 lb. girlyman like Barack Obama who hangs out with liberal pansy's in academia, homosexual rallies, femenist-uber-alles events, immature students who worship him like the Germans worshipped Hitler, and liberal San Francisco America and American Military--haters who look down their collective noses at the white working class people of America as if they were do-do on their shoes.

Posted By: madhatter | August 07, 2008 at 02:31 PM

There you have it.

One Man's Response to McGovern

George McGovern has an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal sadly informing his Democratic colleagues that he just can't get behind the Employee Free Choice Act, a union sponsored attempt to fix the broken system of how we conduct union elections in this country.

McGovern has a few facts wrong.

He implies that labor unions have always been organized by secret ballot, not true. Until the Wagner Act, most unions were organized and recognized by card check. It wasn't the best system in the world, mostly because the employer could use the Pinkertons and the state militia to break up organizing drives. The system of NLRB elections was designed to protect workers against state power.

To call the NLRB an "impartial federal board" is a joke. It is a joke on the face of it, as the Board is made up of political appointees. Moreover, it has been so severely underfunded that appeals take years and elections take months. Plus, the Board doles out "penalties" to employers that are so silly as to be meaningless. If a company fires a worker who is trying to organize a union, the penalty, after years of hearings and appeals, is usually that the company has to post a notice on the company bulletin board that they broke the law and they pledge not to do it again.

To try to imply that workers feel pressure from "all sides" is ridiculous. I hope I don't need to tell you the legal ways that employers can intimidate workers when there is union drive going on. These ways have been well documented. And, as I mentioned before, there is practically no penalty for breaking the law.

Lastly, employers hire companies that help them fend off an organizing drive. These companies specialize in the intimidation tactics, but also in making the union election take as long as possible. For unions to conduct a decent size organizing drive cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. This pretty much means that unions can't organize workers that want union because it costs too much.

Unions are pushing EFCA not because we want to intimidate workers into unions so we can collect dues, but because the system is not a "a tried and trusted method for conducting honest elections." The system is extremely broken. This is our solution for fixing it.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


24 hours to finish my diss. prospectus - better put on my "Fuck Andy Stern" shirt.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

But before I go

A note to the political commentariat: can we please dispense with the term "flip-flop?" It was grating in 2004. It now makes me want to slit my wrists.

That is all.

I'm outta here

The dog days are here, with the hot, sticky air enveloping Monument City like a mohair sweater. So I'm escaping to the cooler climes of coastal Maine for a few weeks. Stay away from my liquor - I know all about the trick of filling the bottle back up with water. See y'all in a few!

I'm Not a Smart Man, Jenny

Here's what I don't understand, McCain wants to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. He wants to incentivize give automobile companies tax credits to build electric cars, which will "create jobs." Obama says the same shit really. Why doesn't our news media point out that, since both men support globalized free trade, that oil produced in America will not necessarily be consumed in America, and that there is absolutely no reason American car manufactures will build electirc cars in Ohio instead of Mexico.

It's all complete shit. I watched the two men give economic speeches today (part of jury duty seems to entail heavy doses of CNN) and it was like a contest to see who could say "America" more often.

That said, McCain said some truly crazy shit. Apparently, agreeing to drill off shore will reduce the price of oil in "months, not years, months." WTF? Of course, we come back to the anchor and he just repeats the talking points, like they were true or something. Like he needs to reinforce the take away message, because that's his job, making sure we all got the highlights.

I know you all know this. But it makes me said. Just like Jenny not loving Forrest, except she really did, she just wasn't ready for his love because it was so pure.

And they wonder why we laugh

Robert VerBruggen at NRO's Phi Beta Cons:
I sure hope colleges don't start taking actions to curb students' gaming habits. Dorm Soldier of Fortune deathmatches were about the only social activity I enjoyed in school.

un-jersey me!

somebody explain to me how elvis costello is any better a songwriter - or any less a ham - than the Boss.

Crap or Not Crap

The French

In a thread down below, I already came out firmly on the side of "crap."

I realized, however, that my pronouncement may have just been my Anglophila talking, so I gave it a day and I tried to think of things that the French have given the world that could change my mind. What have the French given the world that is unique or valuable or worthy?

I came up with one thing: ennui.

No one does ennui like the French. That's it. Wine? Italians do it better (so do Spaniards and Americans). Cheese? Again, Italy and England. Art? Stealing art maybe, but the best impressionist in the world was Dutch. Colonialism? I think we can all acknowledge that England rules the waves. Love? Come on, no one does love like the Canadians.

There you have it, the French are crap.

I expect to see everyone who reads this blog pipe up in the comments. Everyone has an opinion on the French. Take the 20 seconds necessary to give us yours.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

See you at the debates, bitches

I am fairly certain that I have never given Paris Hilton more than a passing thought ever. But after seeing her video response to the "white-haired wrinkly dude's" ad that uses her likeness to insult Obama's presidential readiness, I have a new respect for the woman.

For another amusing take on John McCain's gender trouble, check out Women for John McCain. Here's a little gem for you, gleaned from that site:
Did you hear the one about the woman who is attacked on the street by a gorilla, beaten senseless, raped repeatedly and left to die? When she finally regains consciousness and tries to speak, her doctor leans over to hear her sigh contently and to feebly ask, "Where is that marvelous ape?"
~ John McCain (Tucson Citizen, 10/27/86, link, PDF microfilm scan)

For the more straightforward critique, be sure to skim Kate Sheppard's article, "McSexist" in the latest In These Times.

Loves it.

Your Honor, We Find the Defendant Hilarious

I got called for jury duty tomorrow. I am juror #40 and they called 281 jurors.

Here's to hoping I get something good and I actually get on a jury. Working against me is that I am currently reading Ed McBain's Cop Hater, so we'll have to see how that goes over.

The closest I've come to sitting on a jury was in Baltimore, where the defendant was accused of stealing a cop's gun from her and beating her with it. I was dying to be on the jury. I actually made it to the jury box and through several rounds of striking before the defendant's attorney called my number. That this particular incident was used on the show Homicide for a major story arc only disappointments me even more.

Another Day at the Salt Mines

Ring, ring.

Caller: Hi,,, I'm a um...the U of O, I'm on the health insurance for the summer and I a question about it.

Me: How can I help?

Caller: Well, um, I need to cancel it.

Me: Okay. I can cancel your insurance as of August 15th.

Caller: Well, um, I, like, don't need it.

Me: Okay, we can only cancel the insurance to the next 15th of the month, so August 15th is the soonest I can cancel it.

Caller: But, I never used it...the insurance. I didn't use it, so I'd like to cancel it for the whole summer.

Me: Well, I can't retroactively cancel it....

Caller: But I didn't end up needing it, to get my money back.

Me: I can't do that. You can't do that. You can't retroactively cancel the insurance.

Caller: But, um....

Me: You can't do it. Sorry, but you can only cancel it forward.

Caller: Um...okay.


Really? A veep survey.

Having just voiced my disdain for electoral politics' poisoning the labor well, let me now reaffirm my undying, indulgent worship of electoral-politics-as-such.

Tell me, people, is Bayh the guy? If so, why? Gimme the "midwestern" argument.

Seeing how there's reason to believe that this is veep-week for Barry, let's belly up and make some predictions.

Mine: McCain-Romney vs. Obama-Kaine

Why do I think Kaine? Cuz it sounds safe and vaguely disappointing, and that's kinda where I am with BHO these days. Now somebody turn my frown upside down! Personally I'd kill to watch a Biden-Romney debate. Can you even bleeping imagine?

I Find That Essence Rare

It's very rare that I think, shucks, 'wish I was in NYC, and actually mean it for more than eight seconds. But hearing Dorian Devins and the New York Sun's Bruce Bennett discussing this week's Elliot Gould retrospective at BAM was enough to make me art-lusty. As many of you know, Gould's take on Chandler's Marlowe in Altman's pitch-perfect The Long Goodbye remains an archetypal character-anchor for me. Seriously, when I need to pea really badly or when I am worried by a loved one or kept awake by what I swear are the sounds of capitalism chewing on people, I often try to invoke Gould-as-Marlowe for cues. 'It's aright with me,' says "Rip Van" Marlowe, awaking to Reagan's sunshine-y CA, where nothing is alright. Go see that joint on the big screen, city types! Not to mention Busting! Not to mention California Split!

So anyway, podcasters: I highly recommend Dorian Devins' the Speakeasy, another WFMU staple that's done the clutch work of alternately stimulating and soothing my getting-by since I was a pre-pube. I'd humbly submit that Devins' hobbies, habits and habitus outshine and overwhelm the flimsier vat of "Fresh Air" with which you might want to compare her interview format. There's pretty much bi-weekly film talk, a great, occasional political hour, and plenty of art/culture/science/jazz talk from genuinely interesting people. Every once in a while it get's a little too "too," but hey, so do all overeducated New Yorkers, no? Is it their fault we can't stomach listening for a half-hour about how great the drapes are at the Zigfeld?*

Finally, lest I get away without showing myself to be a horrid cliche - oops, I already announced a contrived identification with a hardboiled sleuth! - let's revisit Bruce Bennett's interview on the Speakeasy, wherein he made reference to the fact that, these days, the world is full of people who think the 1970s were the high point of American Cinema. Bennett didn't mean to sound condescending - which is probably why he didn't - but I couldn't help but thinking of myself in 2001, thinking, hopefully uncondescendingly also, well, look! 'Seems like everyone in Brooklyn went to the same party, heard Gang of Four's Entertainment, and started three bands and a dub side-project!

I felt so button-holed, dear readers: the grown-up child of divorce, the white-ethnic Nirvana fan who digs John Cassavettes. Bennett even made reference to Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, which passed through the ecstatic hands of my cohort so fast (circa 2000) that you'd've thought it had grain alcohol in it.

You have to be either way out front "culturally" or way rich to live in NY. Clearly I'm neither, which is as good excuse as I need, so hats off to Bruce Bennett! Four more years away from the NE, pls! Just so long as I can get WFMU on the interweb.

* Do they have drapes at the Zigfeld?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Serious thinking, for once

I don't know enough about what's going on in Venezuela to have an informed opinion about Chavèz and the Bolivarian Revolution. But a few things jumped out at me in this piece:
Critics fumed that Chavez did not consult with major business groups before approving the decrees, and some warned the laws would scare off private investment and further weaken private enterprise.

"We ask the president: Why does he fear democracy?" Fedecamaras business chamber leader Jose Manuel Gonzalez said at a news conference.

A very juvenile, very vulgar Marxist inside of me takes a great deal of smug satisfaction at this quote. How does it feel now that the shoe's on the other foot, motherfuckers! As I said, juvenile and vulgar.
Under one of the new laws, food retailers or distributors caught skirting government-imposed price controls or hoarding products will be punished with up to six years in prison.

Crap/not crap: Criminalizing, with prison terms in addition to civil fines, unethical business behavior (for our purposes we'll assume the process to arrive at this was democratic).

Enough. The big boys can play now.

In case you were wondering...

Mom has yet to reply to the plaintive missive. She did send some cute birthday pictures of E. though, the very next evening.

from your lips to Goddess' ears, chap...

oh my beloved nouveau-conservative blog The American Scene - where kindly fellas inflate my political expectations at least bi-daily! below is a well-met sentence on the topic of Conservatives' failure to frame/brand/sell entitlement reform:
The other problem, I think, is one that a lot of conservatives don’t like to admit, and that’s that, in the current political environment, entitlement reform just isn’t all that popular. There’s some support in the abstract, but the reality is that much of the voting public genuinely likes not just entitlements but the the idea of a state that provides entitlements.
may it always be! that said, i'm slightly unsettled by this crowd's shrewdness. noble adversaries, huh? mebbe we'll meet at an urban outfitters or wwe event sometime.


Have some tasty, delicious Wilco for your Monday evening.

"Passenger Side"

"Red Eyed & Blue/I Got You"

"Handshake Drugs"

McCain-Spears, What a Ticket, What a Night!

I thought this was funny and all the kids are eating it up on the youtubes.

Temporarily Like Achilles

Bill's behavior reminds me of Achilles sitting out the first 2/3 of the Trojan War. Clinton should be calling out McCain right now, who's been encouraged by the polls to keep savaging Barack.

Oh, and to say what goes without saying: while we may agree that Obama's recent comments were a tactical mistake, can we also acknowledge that on a larger level, it is absurd and offensive that in our country, we are more likely to scold individuals for "playing the race card" than we are to acknowledge deep-seated, unresolved, structural racism (witness Katrina)? You'd think being black were somehow a tremendous advantage for most people.

But I Want to Save Money Ten Years from Now!

Got an e-mail from the McCain campaign mocking Obama's suggestion that one way Americans could save at the pump is by making sure that their tires are properly inflated. If I donate $25 to the McCain campaign, I can get a tire gauge stamped with "Obama's Energy Plan." Hilarious.

Just to be clear.

McCain's plan to increase off-shore drilling -- would take at least 10 years to see any results, all economists/experts say it wouldn't make any difference in gas prices, possibly worse for the environment. Great, serious idea.

Obama's suggest relating to tire pressure -- could save you up to 20% at the pump today, uses less gasoline, good for the environment. A freakin' joke by an unserious candidate. This light-weight celebrity politician is just not ready to lead us into the future of reliance on nineteenth-century technology.

Crap or Not Crap

The No-Strike Pledge American labor made during WWII.

While it might seem obvious that labor would agree to support the war effort and tone down worker militancy, others have argued that the roots of all (I exaggerate for effect) that ills American labor today can be traced back to this agreement. Ultimately, labor unions themselves became responsible for controlling worker militancy and striking became a rare and ritualized endeavor tied to the collective bargaining process, rather than a way for pissed-off workers to deal with grievances or shop-floor disputes in a timely manner. This responsibility for unions further lead labor leaders to view any membership radicalism with suspicion, as it might upset the productive tranquility guaranteed by the labor-management alliance.

What do you all think? Was it a mistake for labor to agree to the No-Strike Pledge during WWII?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Vote Quimby

If he had gone with a over-broad Boston accent, he could argue that he was doing a spot on Mayor Quimby.

worst of, best of times

We do not seek to recast American society in any particular doctrinaire or ideological image. We seek an ever rising standard of living. - George Meany