Thursday, December 30, 2010

Girl in a Chair

Holiday Cheer

I am supposing that Monday marks the beginning of the Republican race for president. As such, you probably all saw this article about the GOP frontrunners committing gaffes here or there in the last coupla months. The Pawlenty bit has been bugging me for a couple of days now. Yes, it pretty funny fucked up that he got caught citing bad data from a Big Government article and doesn't seem to realize that relying on hard data from a propaganda site is dumb. He genuinely seems to not be in on the joke, which I guess is why he's a favorite among the powers that be in the GOP. W. again.

What has been bothering me though is that, while it is fun to make fun of the dumb guy who is running for president, what is being overlooked is that Pawlenty was attacking Obama for only creating jobs in the government, not the private sector.
In a Wall Street Journal column, he said most labor union members now work for governments, which Obama has rendered "the only booming industry left in our economy." Since January 2008, he wrote, "the private sector has lost nearly 8 million jobs while local, state and federal governments added 590,000."
Politfact proved that the stats were bogus and that the 590,000 only included part-time census workers. The problem I have is that if the private economy did lose 8 million jobs, shouldn't the government have created a fuckload more than 590,000 jobs? Wouldn't we want the government to create something on the order of, oh I don't know, 8 million jobs? Of course it can't, but shouldn't that be the goal here?

I feel like this is a very minor replay of the tax deal. We are so far from anything that looks like the New Deal, the only conclusion we can possibly reach is that we lost the political debate to the extent that our talking points aren't heard. Where do we go from here?

Fortunately, we'll have a good two years of horse race to talk about and the Palin-Pawlenty ticket will remind us that the lesser of two evils really is the lesser of two evils.

Speaking of Los Bee Gees - I Can't See Nobody - Festival Hall, Melbourne, Australia

The pre-Disco shit is amazing, too. Goes good between your Zombies and your ELO, en particulier.

nalt2

nalt2, summarizing some tendencies in Althusser.
6. Ideology "in general" "has no history" [i.e. no actual content, no concrete origin in wrong perceptions etc.], although specific ideologies do. Ideology in general is always "imaginary", representing a non-historical "reality". Imagination is "eternal" [i.e. makes the same continuing, permanent, and wrong relations between people and social reality, the famous "imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence".] Ideology is a representation of this imaginary relationship. It is not just an illusion which can be easily dispelled by a correct interpretation, not just a lie to fool subordinate classes, not just the result of a necessary alienation - ideology is needed in social life. Ideology does not just misrepresent the real nature of capitalist society - the relation of individuals to the realities is necessarily "imaginary distortion".

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Zee band - eet eez back together

You guys think my writing is turgid?

Check out this bit from Poulantzas, as close as it gets to my personal justification for m'dissertation:

But, I repeat, the relative autonomy of the state, founded on the separation (constantly being transformed) of the economic and political, is inherent in its very structure (the state is a relation) in so far as it is the resultant of contradictions and of the class struggle as expressed, always in their own specific manner, within the state itself- the state which is both shot through and constituted with and by these class contradictions. It is precisely this that enables us exactly to pinpoint the specific role of the bureaucracy which, although it constitutes a specific social category, is not a group standing above, outside or to one side of classes: an elite, but one whose members also have a class situation or membership. To my mind, the implications of this analysis are of great importance.

YouTube - GG Allin - Die when you die !!

YouTube - GG Allin - Die when you die !!

Don't worry none, it's censored for those who don't actually wanna see grainy excrement footage.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Perfectly Pedestrian Oatmeal Stout

8# LME
.75# GW Crystal
.5# British Chocolate
.33# Roasted Barley
.33# Black Malt
2 oz Willamette
.5 oz Cascade
Wyeast Irish Ale 1084

Steeped grains at 155-175°F for 30 minutes. Boiled wort for 20 minutes before adding .5 oz Willamette hops. Added the rest of the Willamette hops after 15 minutes. Boiled for 45 more minutes for a total of 80 minutes. Added the Cascade hops when I killed the boil and moved the wort to cool in an ice bath.

OG of 1.070 @ 60°F

Notes: Not happy with the preliminary color. It is definitely brown. I should have ignored the guy in the homebrew store and added more black malt. Only added .5 oz hops at 20 minute mark as an error. Thought I'd put half the package in, but obviously had not. Got wort to too low of a temp in the ice bath, now have to wait for it to come up before I pitch the yeast. Forgetting to mark the carboy before I brewed was a mistake, now I have no idea how many gallons I am brewing.

This is my first brew in about 10 years, so I am sure there are things I am missing. This is will be the first time I won't be putting my beer in a secondary. Plan on going 4 weeks in the primary and bottling. Whether or not one needs to use a secondary fermentor seems to be a matter of great controversy, but may lack of secondary compels me to side with the primary-only crowd.

Wish me luck. Will keep you posted.

In Unfolding War on Public Employees, State Lawmakers and Media Likely to Do the Work Themselves | FDL News Desk

In Unfolding War on Public Employees, State Lawmakers and Media Likely to Do the Work Themselves | FDL News Desk
But I don’t think states or municipalities need much help from the federal government in their desire to rewrite public employee union contracts. There has been a concerted effort for years to demonize and delegitimize public employee unions, from both Republican pols and the media in general. This has left a distorted impression about greedy union contracts and well-paid government functionaries. So the new class of Republican governors would certainly want to capitalize on that by pleasing the public, who now favor things like wage freezes (which Obama just instituted at the federal level) and furloughs and bigger pension contributions, punishing those workers. And they are animated by a general hatred of unions, which have maintained their strength in the public sector while fading away in the private sector.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ah, Good Ol' 1208

1208 Kelly Blvd., Springfield, OR, the house I grew up in, is for sale.

This 759 square foot beauty features two bedrooms and one bath. It has an "open floor plan" which, in this particular case, means that it would be crazy to waste the space between the living room and the kitchen with a wall.

As can see in this photo gallery, petty bourgeois indulgences like dining tables and/or space will not be a temptation. And check out that sweet gate (can I get a close up of that ironwork?) which is wide enough to allow you to park a vehicle in the back yard, should the garage, driveway, street, and tire-rutted side yard not be enough capacity for all your vehicles.

The immediate area features several unpaved streets, so male youngins can partake in the neighborhood tradition of rock fighting and making long skid marks with their bicycles. (I have no idea what a girl might do in this neighborhood. Not sure there were any when I grew up. Well, not at the rock fights.)

Can a family of four, two dogs, and two birds live comfortably in such space? No. No, they cannot.

How much would you pay for this fine house and piece of solidcitizen history? An astounding $165,000. I shit you not.

The Day After Christmas

And a man's thoughts inevitably turn toward tires.

Friday, December 24, 2010

N'Oubliez Pas La Raison

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What I Miss About Maryland

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hate, Hate, Hate, You're a Fucking Hater

Matthew Franck is a hater. I was listening to this wanker on NPR yesterday, while I was on my way to get some delicious Taco Time brand tacos and had one of my what I like to call "yelling at the radio" fits.

His basic premise is that we gay marriage supporters call the haters "haters" because we have no real arguments to support gay marriage. Let's have an honest debate, he says. Honestly, I've been listening to the "debate" about gay marriage for some time, so by default I am thinking that this hater is filled with the hate, so he better start off bringing some serious non-hate arguments to justify his anti-gay equality stance.

Instead, he starts from the premise of gay marriage is just wrong, wrong, wrong. To back this up, he points to the wisdom of the American people. They think gay marriage is wrong, so it pretty much must be wrong, so therefore those opposed to gay marriage cannot be haters. This is when I start shouting at the radio as I drive down the Interstate designated 5.

Matt then bolsters his "wisdom of the American people" argument with the "since the beginning of time" argument. At this point, I begin wondering if I have been so caught up in my own hate that I have missed the fact that I was somehow teleported to Eastern Washington and I am listening to some yokel with four tin cans and a transmitter give me a little God's country education. But no, I am still on 5 and headed to Springfield for those delicious tacos. And listening to the National People's Radio which for some reason decided to give this fuckwit 15 minutes of airtime to spew his wildly ahistorical bullshit.

So, in a short span of time we have the "'Mericans don't like it, so it's can't be good" argument and the "this is how God has always wanted it" argument. My favorite bit came when he had to the answer the dreaded "If marriage is only for the purpose of having men and women fuck so they can make Jesus babies to be raised safely by a mother AND! a father [as God intended. I will give Matt this, he didn't resort to any biological determinist crap, which must be tough, because it's sitting right there] then why do we let old farts and the barren get hitched?" question.

Tears of rage turned to tears of laughter as I took the new Beltline flyway exit to my hometown [former Eugenians would not recognize the Gateway exit anymore. Seriously, when you come back out here you will find yourself paraphrasing Burne with a little "My God, what have they done?"], as Matt combined America and God to come up with the argument that marriage, since the beginning of civilization itself, has been for the purpose of hot man on woman action and, while it might be true that old folk can't produce babies, their sweaty old-person fucking is in line with the "principles" on which marriage is based, so it's okay, but the gay fucking can never produce children, not even in "principle," so cannot be legally sanctioned with society's highest honor. This is the way Americans want it.

This line of argumentation forces me to picture a young girl uptalking her way through this argument.

"Um, like marriage is for, like um, making babies? And, like, my grandma can't have babies? But she should be allowed the legal protections and benefits of marriage because her and Mel, they like, have sex like you would if you were going to make a baby? Or could do it that way? So, like, it's the same principle as baby-making sex? So it's cool. But the gays? They can't make babies? So they shouldn't get be allowed to get married or anything."

So yes, society has decided that the only people who have the right to marriage are those that fuck in the heterosexual style. This is not hate. This is, well, ummm...you see, more than 66% of Americans are opposed to gay marriage, and since the beginning of time...

The tacos were delicious. I had three.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hot Stove

Who cares if old J.B.
Is monarch of the sea?
I'm not afraid if his Free Trade scoops all my biz from me.
I seek a greater fame,
And get there all the same.
I knock creation to all tarnation at the Glorious National Game!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pigeon Shit

  1. (At least) 3 examinations yesterday.
    That night I dreamed of buying sneakers.
  2. Wishing for a real War on Xmas.
  3. OG-ing again again.
  4. Unrequited blogger.
  5. Maybe gonna turn on the amplifier, now.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Prisonshift


  1. Box Elders, Alice and Friends. If this, and not Crooked Rain, 'd followed Slanted and Enchanted, it'd've been less surprising. Gtrs, bs, drum and organ. Songwriting born punk but trending rock, sad stories for lyrics.
  2. Dental hygenist/shrink/nutritionist, all dancing with me today before Jesus lets me set down.
  3. Writing on this blog - and not the regular one - in hopes nobody/somebody's reading. A familiar, but embellished, speechlessness and/or gagging has m'befallen.
  4. I thought I'd known depression by December 2008, but that was numpin. Wait til you actually get the things you want from your life; then you'll know the unhappiness, seasickness and slow dying that come with vivre sa vie.
  5. Your gut expands and distends, your chest sours and waking approximates a bloody sneeze. You make a list of people you love the most and become progressively horrified for them and their proximity to you.
  6. Spirits and demons take on a rhetorical utility.
  7. Reading Blood Meridian, which is a hoot and big time life-affirmer.
  8. Aqua aerobics also this AM! Damned if we won't have an aggressive internal monologue amidst all the me time therein.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Prisonship Twi-ddle-dye-dees





  1. Elevated liver enzymes.
  2. Julie Klausner on TBSOWFMU
  3. My 2nd-or3rd red Stax cup from the Soul Museum, filled with sub-room temperature coffee and expired 1/2+1/2 dregs.
  4. Having seen Thee Oh Sees, the Gories, Teenage Fanclub, Superchunk, Nobunny and Bob Mould in the last coupla months.
  5. The Poulantzas Reader.
  6. Cheaply Priced Blue Note lp reissues, such as Hank Mobley's Workout.
  7. Poulantzas: "I was able to avoid conceiving of the different instances (in particular the political, the state) as being by nature and pre-existing, in essence, their meeting together within a precise mode if production." This is what he calls the "regional theory," his elaboration on Althusser's idea of "relative autonomy."
  8. my first ever for-real toilet punk-ish, killed by desk-ish sounding song for my imaginary punk band, Thee White Vote. Lyrically the inspirations are from The Exorcist and Paul Muldoon. It's entitled, "Captain Howdy Has a Shack."

Weigel : Tea Party Patriots Against the Tax Cut Deal [UPDATE: and RedState!]

Weigel : Tea Party Patriots Against the Tax Cut Deal [UPDATE: and RedState!]
And so Charles Krauthammer and Grover Norquist have company in opposition, albeit much more muted than opposition to, say, cap-and-trade.
This is the first "tell" we've gotten yet re: how the tea party will take to compromise-y, everybody's dirty-y life in governance. But note that last bit about how their oppo towards cap-and-trade is much more do-or-die, apparently.

Bottom line? Only tiny ideological minorites really care about deficits and spending enough to choke on tax cuts and/or constituent services. It's just that vast majorities appreciate the discourse of deficits cuz it allows 'em to talk about 1,000 other t(h)ings and s(t)uff and p(e)ople.

Pawlenty: Public unions 'exploiters' - Jennifer Epstein - POLITICO.com

Pawlenty: Public unions 'exploiters' - Jennifer Epstein - POLITICO.com
“Unionized public employees are making more money, receiving more generous benefits and enjoying greater job security than the working families forced to pay for it with ever-higher taxes, deficits and debt,” Pawlenty wrote in an opinion piece.
Working families' wages have been systematically pushed down by whom since the 1980s (- aka, shucks, circa PATCO)???? By you and yours, dick. You think public employee unions are the reason working families suffer under neoliberal tax policy? You dolt.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

On the Relative Autonomy of the Capitalist State

Poulantzas
“[attributes] to the capitalist state a precise role as political organizer and unifier, and as a factor for the establishment of the “unstable equilibrium of compromises,” which role is constitutively connected with its relative autonomy. Two directions that are nothing more than two aspects of a single approach. The separation of the economic and the political provides the general framework, depending upon the different states of capitalism (this separation is itself liable to transformation) for an examination of the relative autonomy of the capitalist state – with the concrete form taken by this autonomy depending upon the precise conjuncture of the class struggle at any one time. For this separation of the economic and the political is itself nothing more than the form taken by the constitution of the classes and hence it too is a consequence of their struggles under capitalism.

Pwismship Tin-vin-toddies

  1. Stationed at home in Michigan, snow day.
  2. Crass agit-prop framed on the office wall.
  3. Blacktop Ikea utilito-desk speckled with paper clips and stems.
  4. Wedding pics.
  5. Zwan memorabilia.
  6. Dillion Jaguar copy > EH Small Clone > Fender Deluxe tubes
  7. File cabinet on wheels
  8. Paper-covered dissertation journal/sketchbook. Prominence of Poulantzas therein. WFMU, Goner, In the Red stickers.
  9. Rob Smith's recent show at Ditch.
  10. Superchunk, Majesty Shredding.
  11. A deep, wide pile of New York Review of Books ' to further examine -- though their writing about the tea parties and le Right en general has been kinda weak, truth told.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Any Socialism Cannot Go Around, But Must Go Through, this Precept

Like a three-hole-puncher. We need to help bind this kind of thinking up.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Q&A With Shipping News’ Jason Noble

Q&A With Shipping News’ Jason Noble
We have to be advocates for art and music, and despite the myth, very few bands or record stores make much money. They just want to work with music they love. So it’s really up to us. That goes for small labels, book stores, publishers, printers and anyone working to keep independent thought alive. The environment in the U.S. is very hostile and short-sighted right now. We need to speak up for “the other” and question anyone that is embracing corporate/pseudo-religious conservative extremism. Once again, it’s a scary time. We just had an entire election cycle where no one even mentioned that we’re fighting two wars! It was all about assigning blame and attacking people, for being an immigrant or “socialist” or anyone requesting decent treatment. I understand why people get duped by these outrageous claims and shoddy promises by the right wing. (And to be fair, the liberals have their share of inconsistencies and foul-ups.) Local culture, when it is active and engaged, makes us more tolerant, more informed and less likely to be filled with irrational fear. And records sound better than mp3 files.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Laclau, "Universalism, Particularism and the Question of Identity"

If democracy is possible, it is because the universal has no necessary body and no necessary content; different groups, instead, compete between themselves to temporarily give to their particularisms a function of universal representation. Society generates a whole vocabulary of empty signifiers whose temporary signifieds are the result of a political competition. It is this final failure off society to constitute itself as society - which is the same thing as the failure of constituting difference as difference - which makes the distance between the universal and the particular unbridgeable and, as a result, burdens concrete social agents with the impossible task of making democratic interaction achievable.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Racial Propositions (excerpt) - Daniel Martinez HoSang - University of California Press


In case you were wondering, this's what I've been thinking about lately as Advisor B and I hustle towards finally a-finishing our Tea Party papier. In addition to writing the best book about the larger cultural and racial stakes of the ludicrous initiative process that I have been able to glom, Hosang's also translated the "invisibility" of the hegemonic political subjectivity du jour into something goddamned see-able :
Political whiteness describes a political subjectivity rooted in white racial identity, a gaze on politics constituted by whiteness. This concept draws from and extends both George Lipsitz's observations about the "possessive investment in whiteness" and Cheryl Harris's critical account of "whiteness as property." Whiteness, Lipsitz argues is "possessed" both literally in the form of material rewards and resources afforded to those recognized as white as well as figuratively through the "psychological wages" of status and social recognition detailed by W.{ths}E.{ths}B. DuBois. Harris similarly describes a "valorization of whiteness as treasured property," recognized by the law and enforced by the state, which produces a "settled expectation" that its beneficiaries will face no "undue" obstacles in claiming its rewards. Whiteness, she explains, "is simultaneously an aspect of identity and a property interest, it is something that can be both experienced and deployed as a resource."

The concept of political whiteness describes how these norms, "settled expectations," and "investments" shape the interpretation of political interests, the boundaries of political communities, and the sources of power for many political actors who understand themselves as white. It does not simply describe the interests or politics of "white people," which after all are necessarily varied. It instead concerns the process by which some political claims and interests come to be defined as white. James Baldwin described an "American delusion" fostered by whiteness that leads people to believe "not only that their brothers all are white but that the whites are all their brothers."Like whiteness in general, political whiteness is a subjectivity that constantly disavows its own presence and insists on its own innocence. It operates instead as a kind of absent referent, hailing and interpolating particular subjects through various affective appeals witnessed in claims to protect "our rights," "our jobs," "our homes," "our kids," "our streets," and even "our state" that never mention race but are addressed to racialized subjects.Political whiteness is, in one sense, a widely studied phenomenon. Scholars and observers have long sought to explain the relationship between white racial identity and political behavior and action. In most accounts, however, white racial identity is viewed as fully realized and defined, constructed outside of the field of politics. Conflicts like ballot measures merely express its preordained interests. This account, by contrast, does not view political whiteness as a fixed, a priori identity that simply becomes expressed through political conflicts. Carmichael and Hamilton's argument certainly holds true: there are deep "traditions" of racism embedded in diverse institutions and structures that shape the contours and trajectory of white political identity at any given moment. But white political identity is hardly static; it also becomes transformed and renewed through struggles such as ballot initiative campaigns.

The Hegemonic Character of Political Whiteness

Political whiteness bears two characteristics that are central to all hegemonic formations. First, as cultural studies scholar Raymond Williams explains, "the hegemonic has to be seen as more than the simple transmission of an (unchanging) dominance. On the contrary, any hegemonic process must be especially alert and responsive to the alternatives and opposition which question and threaten its dominance" because a "lived hegemony is always a process." It must be "renewed, recreated, defended, and modified" as it is "continually resisted, limited, altered, [and] challenged by pressures not all its own."California's racialized ballot measures reveal precisely such a process at work. Taken together, they demonstrate the contested formation of political whiteness, a gaze on politics that is characterized by both continuity and change. Rather than viewing these ballot measures as primarily concerning the rights of various racialized minorities, we can understand them instead as contests over the political authority and "settled expectations" of whiteness itself.A central assertion of this book is that the political forces that opposed civil rights and racial justice policies are the ones that have best understood the malleable nature of political whiteness, and have constantly tested the ways they could adapt and incorporate new ideas, values, and experiences. Their opponents, by contrast, rarely attempted to challenge political whiteness as a fundamental identification, treating it instead as an inexorable force of political life.Williams's second point about hegemonic formations concerns the question of opposition. By definition, ballot initiatives are viewed as contests between opposing political projects, which presumably do not share similar ideas, commitments, or values. But Williams argues that the very power of hegemonic formations derives from their capacity to shape the terms on which they are opposed: "nearly all initiatives and contributions, even when they take on manifestly alternative or oppositional forms, are in practice tied to the hegemonic: that the dominant culture, so to say, at once produces and limits its own forms of counter-culture."

Friday, October 8, 2010

Union disclosure unlike other groups' - Ben Smith - POLITICO.com

Union disclosure unlike other groups' - Ben Smith - POLITICO.com

"[U]nions are [501](c)(5)s and don’t disclose...is that the business as usual? Or does that make them shadowy?" Jim Dyke, one of the GOP consultants on the board of American Crossroads, asked on Twitter today.

There are elements of this comparison that make sense. The same collapse in campaign finance restrictions that allow unlimited corporate spending allow unlimited union spending.

But when it comes to disclosure, talk of unions is a red herring. While they aren't required by the FEC or IRS to disclose donors, a separate piece of federal law, the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, requires that unions disclose all sources of income that adds up to more than $5,000, a requirement overseen by the Department of Labor. As a result, unions disclose more than many political groups about their internal operations, and certainly more than than do 501(c)(4) nonprofits like Crossroads GPS or 501(c)(6) groups like the Chamber.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fundamental attribution error - Psychology Wiki

Fundamental attribution error - Psychology Wiki

In attribution theory, the fundamental attribution error (sometimes referred to as the actor-observer bias, correspondence bias or overattribution effect) is the tendency for people to over-emphasize dispositional, or personality-based, explanations for behaviors observed in others while under-emphasizing the role and power of situational influences on the same behavior. In other words, people tend to have a default assumption that what a person does is based more on what "kind" of person he is, rather than the social and environmental forces at work on that person. This default assumption leads to people sometimes making erroneous explanations for behavior. This general bias to over-emphasizing dispositional explanations for behavior at the expense of situational explanations is much less likely to occur when people evaluate their own behavior.

The term was coined by Lee Ross some years after the now-classic experiment by Edward E. Jones and Victor Harris. Ross argued in a popular paper that the fundamental attribution error forms the conceptual bedrock for the field of social psychology.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Unions Find Members Slow to Rally Behind Democrats - NYTimes.com

Unions Find Members Slow to Rally Behind Democrats - NYTimes.com
“They’re always effective,” he said. “The union leadership is wedded to the Democratic Party. But what we’ve seen cycle after cycle is the membership demonstrates real independence and votes independently of the union bosses.” (According to a national exit poll conducted by Edison/Mitofsky, 60 percent of union members voted for Mr. Obama in 2008 and 37 percent for Senator John McCain.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Weigel : The NRCC and the Coming Republican Majority

Weigel : The NRCC and the Coming Republican Majority
Kevin McCarthy, the Energizer Bunny who gets credit for recruiting most of the party's best candidates, is probably going to be the party's whip. That would pole-vault him past Mike Pence, the conservative darling who is mulling a run for president or governor of Indiana in 2012. Right now Pence is the third-ranking member of the House leadership, a position won in no small part because conservatives wanted to reward him after the Bush years and his failed post-DeLay leadership bids.

Democrats are hoping against hope that Republicans will fight amongst themselves if they take the House, but the most likely scenario is a Boehner-Cantor-McCarthy leadership team with Pence remaining as the cheerleader whose utterances are not quite considered reflective of what the party is doing.
Tuff rocks for Mike Pence, non?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Steve Early, "This Labor Day, Let's Salute All Union Stewards -- and Their Cutting Edge in California"

Steve Early, "This Labor Day, Let's Salute All Union Stewards -- and Their Cutting Edge in California"
The real heroes of what's left of the labor movement are not people with full-time union jobs, union-furnished cars and credit cards, and union benefits that dues-paying members don't get anymore.
That's the first fucking sentence of this fucking article. Wow, let's salute union stewards by denigrating union staff. Fabulous. One more thing, while we're saluting union activists and insulting staffers and staff work - the two are linked zero-sum style, I suppose? - can we give an erotic massage to old-ass Baby Boomer "New" Left fossils? We can?!? This isn't Labor Day, it's fucking Xmas!

I will probably finish the rest of this article and like some of what it has to tell me. But just now I'll thank Steve Early, who joins Robert Gibbs in providing exactly the fodder I need for my dissertation chapter about the paid and unpaid, the recognized and unrecognized work of union staff. Eat fucking shit, Steve. And get used to eating it. You were wrong about the Revolution and you're wrong now.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Christie, take two - Ben Smith - POLITICO.com

Christie, take two - Ben Smith - POLITICO.com

Chris Christie's initial, blustery response to the feds' denial of funding due to an apparent bureaucratic error seemed, at first, a triumph of his blunt style.

Now, not so much:

The error was first reported Tuesday evening by The Star-Ledger. On Wednesday, Christie blamed Washington bureaucrats for their inflexibility to fix what he described as a clerical error. Christie said [Education Commissioner Brett] Schundler had provided the correct information during a presentation of the state's application in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 11.

But on Thursday, the U.S. Department of Education released a video of that presentation that showed neither Schundler nor the other four people from New Jersey's delegation were able to come up with the information for the correct budget years.

Before the video was released, Christie had said he would not fire anyone over a paperwork mistake made by a "midlevel" staffer.

Christie just fired Schundler.

The Star-Ledger suggests that the problems between Christie and Schundler -- whose appointment was celebrated on the right -- were deeper, and that he had to go in any case.

You cannot imagine the sorta sick joy I take outta this story. Chris Christe NEEDS TO GO, so he can go onto Fox News and, mebbe, end up a perennial R veep chasepacker.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Oh, My Sides! Obama Says He’ll Keep Pushing for Employee Free Choice Act | Work in Progress

Oh, My Sides! Obama Says He’ll Keep Pushing for Employee Free Choice Act | Work in Progress

For Obama to even mention the Employee Free Choice Act as anything but a deader-than-dead failure of his administration is an insult to the intelligence of every working person in America. Obama had the opportunity to push through the Employee Free Choice Act between February and April 2009. He let it linger, then let Democrats start sniping at it, and then the ship sailed with Scott Brown’s election. Unions dismantled their Employee Free Choice Act campaign teams in January 2010. It is no longer even close to an option.

Bringing up the Employee Free Choice Act now is worse than being a tease. It’s being a dishonest, two-faced manipulator who is desperately begging for help from the very people who only got out the vote and donated money in 2008 on the promise of fundamental change like the Employee Free Choice Act. For Obama to come back two years later and promise the same thing that’s not even possible is offensive.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Monday, July 12, 2010

t r u t h o u t | Former San Diego ACORN Employee Files Lawsuit Against Righ-Wing Activists O'Keefe and Giles

t r u t h o u t | Former San Diego ACORN Employee Files Lawsuit Against Righ-Wing Activists O'Keefe and Giles

As The BRAD BLOG has documented for many months now, the activists edited their tapes to appear as if O'Keefe dressed as and represented himself as a pimp to ACORN workers. He did neither. In fact, he represented himself as Giles boyfriend, hoping to save her from an abusive pimp. Moreover, the highly edited tapes were edited to give the impression that ACORN workers advised the pair on how to break the law. Here's just one example of how O'Keefe and Giles misrepresented what had actually occurred in the meetings and on their deceptively cropped tapes.

The blatantly dishonest hoax, however --- amplified and enabled by a wholly uncritical mainstream media --- was brutally effective and destructive, coming as part of the years-long assault by the GOP and the Right against ACORN, largely for having had the temerity to legally register hundreds of thousands of low and middle-income (read: Democratic-leaning) voters to legally cast a vote and participate in their own democracy.

Vera's complaint goes on to note that the eavesdropping and recording provisions of the Penal Code, Section 632, "defines confidential communication to include "any communication carried on in circumstances as may reasonably indicate that any party to the communication desires it to be confined to the parties thereto."

"Although the Act contains exemptions for particular individuals or circumstances," the complaint reads, "no exemption exists for filmmakers, the media, or journalists."

In his 28-page report [PDF], the CA AG explained that since O'Keefe and Giles received immunity from prosecution after providing the complete tapes, they "did not determine if they violated California's Invasion of Privacy Act when they recorded the ACORN employees. If the circumstances meet the requirements of the Act, the ACORN employees may be able to bring a private suit against O'Keefe and Giles for recording a confidential conversation without consent."

Former San Diego ACORN worker Juan Carlos Vera, has now filed suhch a private suit against O'Keefe and Giles.

In addition to naming O'Keefe and Giles, the suit also specifies unnamed defendants "DOES 1-20 inclusive," allowing for the plaintiff to add additional co-defendants later, as the need arises throughout the discovery phase of the case. As the secret video tapes made in California were the last among a number of such tapes made by O'Keefe and Giles (the others on the East Coast), and as O'Keefe and Giles' employer/pimp Andrew Breitbart lives in Los Angeles --- and has lied about the tapes in the past, as seen in both his newspaper column and on video tape --- it seems quite possible that he would have been aware of the video taping in advance of the California meetings, at the very least.

If so, we'll be neither surprised nor saddened to see Breitbart named as one of those DOES in the not-too-distant future.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

t r u t h o u t | The Politics of Death: Throwing Mumia Abu-Jamal Under the Bus

t r u t h o u t | The Politics of Death: Throwing Mumia Abu-Jamal Under the Bus

Because Trots for Romney, Trots for Blago and even, most recently, Trots for Crist, have been active with the Mumia defense histrionics.

By the way, has anybody out there read the memoir of Maureen Faulkner, widow of the police officer Mumia has been convicted of murdering? It's co-authored by Michael Smerconish, a popular fount of "centrist"-ish pablum on Hardball. I'll allow readers to draw their own conclusions about the memoir itself, but here's what one of Lex's Oracles had to say:
"The Bible teaches that the truth will set us free, but Michael Smerconish and Maureen Faulkner teach us that even a powerful truth needs courage as its ally."
Chris Matthews - Host of Hardball with Chris Matthews and The Chris Matthews Show
Fuck that, Chris. What a bunch of swishy drivel. That's probably why Romney, Crist and Blago don't wanna do yr dumb show no more times. It's probably why I, myself, find myself wondering if I wouldn't be better off to allow myself only one hour of daily cable talk, and that talk should be Maddow talk? Probably I should really watch GritTv, huh?

What news videos do you people watch? I could use some ideas.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Connecting Dots | Democratic Strategist

Connecting Dots | Democratic Strategist

It's reasonably clear by now that by sheer repetition, the claim that the president has fumbled the BP oil spill in some significant way has sunk into media and public perceptions. Some of this, of course, is coming from people who are lifelong cheerleaders for offshore oil drilling, and who idolize Dick Cheney, who is probably more responsible for the policies that enabled this disaster than anyone else. But presidents do get blamed for things they didn't do, so appearing large and in charge in the present and future must accompany any Obama effort to assign responsibility for why this happened in the first place.

Aside from that difficult task, the president must also connect the dots between the disaster and the path he wants the country to take on energy policy. While it may seem obvious to some of us why a carbon cap or tax of some sort is an appropriate response to yet another calamity associated with fossil fuel production, it's not at all obvious to the public generally. And this is the same public, moreover, that never much bought the president's arguments that health care reform was essential to the country's economic future. So while it might not be that hard for Obama to rally support for tougher regulation of offshore drilling, it will be a much heavier lift to connect the disaster to the need for climate change legislation.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Alvin Greene Interview with CNN Must See! 6-12-2010

Why am I so sure that we won't be delighted when we get to the bottom of how, exactly, Alvin Greene became the D nominee for US Senate in South Carolina? This is a harrowing clip.

Gather Your Armies


This would be what I'd call taking it to the next level ca. 2010.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

DSCC: Unions, Netroots are “Special Interests in Washington” | Work in Progress

DSCC: Unions, Netroots are “Special Interests in Washington” | Work in Progress

Senator Robert Menendez, leader of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, sent out a memo deriding labor unions who supported Bill Halter as “special interests in Washington.”

Tonight Arkansas Democrats nominated Blanche Lincoln, a proven independent voice for her state. In this race Blanche took on powerful special interests in Washington and won. In the Senate, she fights those same fights everyday, supporting home-state farmers, strengthening programs for childhood nutrition, and bolstering rural economic development. As Chairwoman of the Agriculture Committee, Blanche has stood-up and delivered for every region of Arkansas.

And if you aren’t sure this is an isolated incident from the DSCC, they posted this article from The Hill on the DSCC website. The editorial by Hill editor A.B. Stoddard, as posted on the DSCC’s website, congratulates Lincoln for:

fending off Lt. Gov. Bill Halter and the unions and the netroots and the punishment the left promised to exact for her opposition to a public option in healthcare reform and to legislation, favored by unions, known as “card-check.”

Ernesto Laclau in Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left

Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left

I have argued that class antagonism is not inherent to capitalist relations of production, but that it takes place between those relations and the identity of the worker outside them. Various aspects must be carefully distinguished. First, we have to distinguish the contradiction between forces and relations of production - which, I have maintained, is a contradiction without antagonism - from class struggle - which is an antagonism without contradiction. So if we concentrate on the latter, where is the antagonism located? Certainly not within the relations of production. The capitalists extract surplus-value from the workers, but both capital and labor should be conceived of, as far as the logic of capitalism is concerned, not as actual people but as economic categories. So if we are going to maintain that class antagonism is inherent to the relations of production, we would have to prove that from the abstract categories 'capital' and 'wage labor' we can logically derive the antagonism between both - and such a demonstration is impossible. It does not logically follow from the fact that the surplus-value is extracted from the worker that the latter will resist such extraction. So if there is going to be antagonism, its source cannot be internal to the capitalist relations of production, but has to be sought in something that the worker is outside those relations, something which is threatened by them: the fact that below a certain level of wages the worker cannot live a decent life, and so on. Now, unless we are confronted with a situation of extreme exploitation, the worker's attidue vis-a-vis capitalism will depend entirely on how his or her identity is constituted - as socialists knew a long time ago, when they were confronted by reformist tendencies in the trade-union movement.

Could we perhaps say that these demands have priority over those of other groups because they are closer to the economy, and thus at the heart of the functioning of the capitalist system? This argument does not fare any better. Marxists have known for a long time tat capitalism is a world system, structured as an imperialist chain, so crises at one point in the system create dislocations at many other points. This means that many sectors are threatened by the capitalist logic, and that the resulting antagonisms are not necessarily related to particular locations in the relations of production. As a result the notion of class struggle is totally insufficient to explain the identity of the agents involved in anti-capitalist struggles.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Ark. fight fuels W.H.-labor family feud - Glenn Thrush and Ben Smith - POLITICO.com

Ark. fight fuels W.H.-labor family feud - Glenn Thrush and Ben Smith - POLITICO.com

Emanuel has a good relationship with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. Stern, the former SEIU president, is close to White House Political Director Patrick Gaspard, who once worked for him. Both Trumka and Stern reportedly are on good terms with Emanuel’s deputy Jim Messina.

But the departure of Stern, Obama’s highest-profile labor backer, has robbed the administration of an important emissary, and Emanuel’s relationship with labor has been strained over his willingness to scrap the public option to pass health care reform.

Emanuel, who engineered Democrats’ majority in the House by recruiting conservatives during his tenure as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, remains obsessed with reelecting endangered freshmen and sophomore members.

Emanuel also has told Trumka and other labor leaders in no uncertain terms that their strategy is counterproductive, according to individuals familiar with the situation.

But despite that admonition, anti-Lincoln Democrats say the union assault on the Agriculture Committee chairwoman has paid real-world dividends — in the form of tough new derivatives reforms championed by Lincoln after it became clear she would face a challenge from the left.

“I don’t understand how the White House can say that all this pressure on Lincoln hasn’t helped,” said one Democratic political consultant. “They would have a much weaker financial reform bill if labor hadn’t gotten behind Bill Halter.”

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Can’t Stop The Bleeding » Fellow Taxpayers / GM Owners – You Just Bought Galarraga A Corvette

Can’t Stop The Bleeding » Fellow Taxpayers / GM Owners – You Just Bought Galarraga A Corvette

“Until G.M. has repaid the taxpayers in full for the money they have borrowed, every action that G.M. takes should advance them in that direction,” said Kurt Bardella, a spokesman for Representative Darrell Issa, a Republican of California who is a visible G.M. second-guesser.

Last month, Mr. Issa was among a multitude of critics who took issue with another G.M. marketing effort — the running of self-congratulatory advertisements about having repaid a government loan. (Taxpayers still own $2.1 billion in preferred stock of G.M. and 61 percent of its common equity.)

“The leadership thought it (awarding Galarraga the car) was an excellent opportunity,” Chevrolet spokesman Klaus-Peter Martin said. “We looked into the cost-benefit ratio and decided to go for it.”

Mr. Bardella, the spokesman for the congressman, said he hoped that was true and noted that many people would be watching.

“If you were to ask the majority of taxpayers — outside of the city of Detroit, probably — if they thought that giving a $50,000 car away for free was a good use of money, I’m sure that most people would say no,” he said. “If it creates the perception of good will and a solvent company and encourages people to buy their cars, then great. Is it something they should do every day? Probably not.”

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Unions Support Halter to Defeat Senator Lincoln in Arkansas Runoff - NYTimes.com

Unions Support Halter to Defeat Senator Lincoln in Arkansas Runoff - NYTimes.com
“We go out and support these Blue Dogs all over the place,” said Mr. McEntee, the union leader. “We give them all kinds of ground support, radio support, and then they get in there and they’ve lost our phone number. For God’s sake, what’s the use of having them in there?”

Monday, May 24, 2010

Did The Postwar System Fail? - Paul Krugman Blog - NYTimes.com

Did The Postwar System Fail? - Paul Krugman Blog - NYTimes.com
Did The Postwar System Fail?

I’ve been posting about the contrast between the popular perception on the right that America had slow growth until Reagan came along, and the reality that we did fine pre-Reagan, in fact better; see here, here, and here. And what I’m getting as a common response — including from liberals — is something along the lines of, “That’s all very well, but by 1980 the postwar system was clearly failing, so what would you have done instead of Reaganomics?”

Which all goes to show just how thoroughly almost everyone has been indoctrinated by the current orthodoxy.

How do we know that the postwar system was failing? Yes, there were some bad years — largely due to oil shocks — and there was stagflation. But stagflation was not, as far as I know — and as far as standard textbook economics says — the result of high taxes and/or excessive regulation; it was a problem of monetary policy. It’s a testimony to the strength of supply-side propaganda that so many people think they know differently.

And how bad were those bad years, anyway? Well, let’s look at real median family income over two 8-year stretches, 1973 to 1981 and 2000 to 2008, in each case with income in the first year set to 100:

DESCRIPTIONCensus

Funny, isn’t it? The Ford-Carter years look no worse — in fact, somewhat better — than the Bush years, especially if you look from business cycle peak to business cycle peak. And that was in the face of two very severe oil shocks. So a question for all the people who say that the economic troubles under Jimmy Carter discredited postwar economic policies: why don’t the troubles under Bush similarly discredit post-Reagan policies? Funny how that works.

Here’s what I think: inflation did have to be brought down — and Paul Volcker, not Reagan, did what was necessary. But the rest — slashing taxes on the rich, breaking the unions, letting inflation erode the minimum wage — wasn’t necessary at all. We could have gone on with a more progressive tax system, a stronger labor movement, and so on.

In the modern vision, the old US economy is seen as an absurd, unworkable thing. Where were the incentives to grow super-rich? How did you manage with all those well-paid, organized workers? But I’m old enough to remember that system, and it was no more unworkable than what we have now. Radical change happened because a powerful political movement wanted it, not out of economic necessity.

Link: Is economic freedom another way of saying we need to build more prisons?

Mike Koczal - Is economic freedom another way of saying we need to build more prisons?

My favorite statistic from that paper linked above, Garrison America: "By 2012, the Department of Labor predicts, the United States will have more private security guards than high school teachers."

Fantastic.

-- One theory I'm thinking through these days, and I'll be using as a guide in watching dialogue on the right unfold into the 2010 election: We tend to see two distinct political projects. One is a "neoliberal" project that, in the words of Wendy Brown, is a project of “extending and disseminating market values to all institutions and social action … the production of all human and institutional action as rational entrepreneurial action, conducted according to a calculus of utility, benefit or satisfaction." There is also a more familiar "neoconservative" project of dismantling the welfare state, reversing progressive taxation,
Christianizing the state, reversing civil liberties, projecting military strength abroad, etc.

I'm curious as to how the two interplay. The way that the neoliberal dream of growing the pie blurs into the neoconservative dream of punishing the wicked, parasitic unproductive class and rewarding the rich who make the world into what it is. In some ways they tend to repeal each other ("I'm socially liberal, but fiscally conservative"). But in some ways, I wonder whether there is a synthesis that has been happening between the two. And if so, we may see some additional avatars of this cross-dream in the 2010 election.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

After Andy

Dissent Magazine: Melvyn Dubofsky on "The Legacy of Andy Stern"
The distinguished sociologist Daniel Bell wrote this in 1995 about the alliance between intellectuals and organized labor that flourished in the aftermath of Sweeney’s rise to power: “For the intellectuals it’s a lot of wishful thinking; I don’t mean that in an invidious way. The real test will be whether labor has the ability to expand its numbers. Simply becoming more rhetorical and becoming more active politically is not in and of itself enough.” The same can be said about Andy Stern and his creation of [Change to Win.] It was indeed a lot of wishful thinking.

Monday, April 12, 2010

I wanna look at things this way, it's just that I don't

Matthew Yglesias »Remembering the Goldwater Campaign

Edmund Andrews writes:

I am tempted to think that the revulsion expressed Crittenden is part of a bigger ferment among Republicans. I’d like to think that there is a group of young Turks or moderates who agree with Frum that the GOP health-care rejectionism will turn out to be the party’s Waterloo. I’d like to think that there is a new generation GOP that is ready to take a chance on constructive engagement.

But my good friend Bruce Bartlett is skeptical. Republican leaders think their strategy since the 2008 election has been a great success. If they win back House and Senate seats this fall — as they almost certainly will — they’ll argue that their strategy has been vindicated. And the truth is, the Young Turks are among the most fervent of the hard-liners — the Jeb Hensarlings, Paul Ryans. The moderates are disappearing faster than ever, and the ones who stay are disdained.

I think that to understand what’s wrong with the conservative movement today, you need to think about Barry Goldwater’s 1964 Presidential campaign. In ‘64, the GOP establishment felt that Goldwater was too radical. They said that nominating a hard-rightist like Goldwater would be counterproductive. But conservative activists worked hard, and they did it. Goldwater got the nod. And, just as the establishment predicted, Goldwater got crushed. And just as the established predicted, it proved to be counterproductive. The 1964 landslide led directly to Medicare, Medicaid, Title I education spending, and the “war on poverty.” In the 45 years since that fateful campaign, the conservative movement managed to gain total control over the Republican Party and to sporadically govern the country. But it’s only very partially rolled back one aspect of the Johnson administration’s domestic policy.

Which is just to say that the conservative movement from 1964-2009 was a giant failure. By nominating Goldwater, it invited a massive progressive win that all the subsequent conservative wins were unable to undue. But the orthodox conservative tradition of ‘64 is that it was a great success that laid the groundwork for the triumphs to come.

Which is to say that it’s not just a movement incapable of thinking seriously about the interests of the country, it can’t think rigorously about its own goals. 2009-2010 has already seen the greatest flowering of progressive policy since 1965-66. No matter how well Republicans do in the 2010 midterms, the right will never fully roll back what the 111th Congress has done. And yet, as Andrews suggests, if they win seats in 2010, conservatives will consider their behavior during 2009-10 to have been very successful.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Getting Tuff Means Puffing Tuff? Major "State of Labor" article in the Major Labor-Liberal Mag

Harold Meyerson writes a big and overdue article about the State of US Labor, 2010 for the American Prospect that's well worth reading whether you are one of the OG's laborite readers, or whether you are the kind of OG reader who feels hopelessly behind on the inner world of trade unionism that we so often evoke herein. Here's a money blurb:

In 2008, unions had worked tirelessly for Obama's election in the hope that a Democratic president backed up by a heavily Democratic Congress could change the law that made organizing American workers so difficult. With the upset victory of Republican Scott Brown in the race for the vacant Senate seat from Massachusetts, however, those hopes were definitively dispelled. The failure to reform labor law almost certainly means that that the half-century decline of unions in America -- from representing nearly 40 percent of private-sector workers at the midpoint of the 20th century to representing just 7 percent today -- will continue apace. It means that the corresponding stagnation -- and periodic decline -- in the incomes of working- and middle-class Americans will likely continue as well.

But the failure of labor-law reform was hardly the only disaster that befell unions in 2009. Amid the greatest economic downturn since the 1930s, many thousands of unionized manufacturing, construction, and public employees lost their jobs, sending the percentage of unionized workers to record lows. Public support for unions also plunged, with both the Gallup and Pew polls showing a decline in public support of between 15 percent and 20 percent over the past several years. (In the Pew poll, those who had a favorable view of unions declined from 58 percent in 2007 to 41 percent in 2010.) Two developments fueled that decline: first, the travails of the Big Three automobile companies, for which one of the most prevalent explanations was the excessive labor costs that the United Auto Workers had inflicted on those companies (an explanation that relied on mislabeling the companies' obligations to their millions of retirees as existing wage costs). The second development, which bodes ill for the future of public-employee unions, is the rising backlash within a largely nonunion private sector against a still substantially unionized public sector, which has managed to retain the kinds of benefits (such as defined-benefit pensions) that were once routine in the private sector but that vanished as private-sector unions declined in size and clout.

Yep. Yep. What is to be done, though? Realistically, what is to be done?

If nothing else, the experiences of 2009 seem to have taught most unions that the Democratic Party is their good friend during campaigns when the candidates need their help but isn't always there when the time comes to reciprocate -- and that sometimes they need to play hardball with Democrats. That's the lesson of Trumka's meeting with Obama and of the unions' support for Arkansas Lt. Governor Bill Halter's primary challenge to Wal-Mart's own senator, Blanche Lincoln. Unions need a supportive government to help them organize and create a thriving working class. If that requires getting tougher with their allies than they've customarily been -- well, it's about time.
Absolutely, fine. But can "getting tough" -or getting tuff- also mean some form of participation outside of Democratic primary and caucus action? Could we get tuff somewhere besides the District of Columbia? Those who know me know that I have a large crush on the District of Columbia, but not because I think that's where labor needs to be doubling down on its tuffness. D.C. is a good place for Dischord Records to get tuff, but a good place for unions to help pass health care and work in coalition with other folks to advance a progressive course towards economic security that legitimizes social democratic government in the minds of voters. There's gotta be a venue where labor can get tuff - some workplace, say - besides the District of Columbia, and there's gotta be a day besides Election Day when democracy in general, and the workplace democracy of our union movement in particular, is made to matter.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A 2010 Census Message from Karl Rove

Because Karl Rove coming out on behalf of the ACORN-friendly, socialistic (and social scientistic) institution known as the US Census merits OG attention.

[Anybody out there, by the way?]

Friday, February 19, 2010

So. Many. Commas

Heedless to the warnings of wise men like Daniel Webster, since the turn of the century increasing numbers of Americans have been turning their backs on the rational, personal God, and by extension, on the source of their humanity, and of their unalienable rights. Like yesterday's pagans during the declining days of the Greco-Roman civilization, they are today either practical atheists aimlessly wandering in a spiritual desert of nihilism or spellbound, are desperately trying to find meaning and purpose from the mesmerizing ideologies that arose out of the heart of Christendom, during the time of the Renaissance.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Regrets? I'm having some right now.

I, for one, argued early and often that BHO was our best chance to have a Democratic president that might, theoretically break to the left on important issues. I was convinced that Hillary would not do this, given the track record of her husband. That may have been unfair, but it's not like she ran away from her husband's record or said things that made me (or anyone else) think that she would be a liberal president. I also firmly believe that when she decided to run as the racists' Democratic candidate, it was the obligation of all good people in the Democratic party to oppose her.

And yet here we sit today, with a Democratic president that seems determined to be just as center-right as Bill Clinton ever was. To be fair to Barack, he ran as a centrist. Maybe it was too much to hope that a candidate that had achieved little other than getting elected would do anything other than seek to be re-elected. And, unfortunately, a politician gets re-elected by being as timid as possible.

Back in the old days of computing, there was a game that let you be a South American dictator. Your goal was to stay in power until you died. I quickly figured out that the only way to achieve this goal was by caving to whichever pressure group happened to be pressuring you at the time. Teachers on strike? Give 'em a raise. American-backed corporations want a military crackdown on rebels? Crack down. The people want land reform? Nationalize! Landowners want their land back? Denationalize! You get the gist.

After a while it became mindless, but I can see where it might be entertaining to play in real life. How do you stay popular with a populace that simultaneously demands an economic recovery (solution: massive government spending, deficits, tax increases) while demanding less government spending, deficit reduction, and tax cuts? We want health care reform, but not any kind of health care reform that might one day affect what I have right now! Could be fun. Or addictive, anyway.

So here we sit today with a president determined to drive down the middle of the road only dipping to the right every now and again. Here we are, again, with we on the left realizing that it will be another eight years of getting exactly nothing of what we want. We will be told to be grateful it's not worse. That's where we live in American politics, fighting a rear-guard action against things getting worse. We were kings of the world in 1935, it's been mostly downhill since then. Our successes since then - civil rights, women's rights, gay rights - have been hard fought and achieved by the people, with the politics lagging way the hell behind.

Don't mourn, organize!

Yes. Maybe what it will take is for all of us who are looking around for a third party to get out there and get involved. No one hates saying this more than me, as I love my couch and tv, but if I can drag myself out to knock on doors for mainstream, better than the alternative Democratic candidates, then I can certainly do it for someone or some cause that might actually make a fucking difference in this world.

Fuck, looks like I have to actually do something. I'll have to get my pleasure from telling my labor union 'no' when they ask me to go knocking on doors for whatever fuckstick the Democrats nominate.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Conversations with a Farmer

In a world that hurts, it's good to laugh and that's why God gave us the Register-Guard letters to the editor.

Gross receipts tax hurts farmers
As Oregonians, we need to make it easier rather than harder for business people to make a profit.
Already I like you. You dispense right away with bullshit about job creation or some half-understood multiplier-effect mumbo-jumbo and go straight to the "it's your job to make sure I make money."
I’m a grass seed farmer; our prices for seed have been cut 40 percent to 60 percent in the last 1½ years. We are not anywhere close to profitability, but we still have to sell some of our seed for cash flow to pay bills. Measure 67 just doesn’t raise corporate fees from $10 to $150, it also taxes my gross receipts.
You're a grass seed farmer - one of God's own laborers - who sells seed to make money to pay your bills. No problems so far, things are tough all over. I mean, I am concerned how long you can run a farm that is nowhere close to profitable. I assume you have money in the bank or you're getting some sort of loan or something. I hope to Jeebus that this is not some sort of government loan.
Farming is a business that deals with a lot of money. A small grass seed farm easily could have $750,000 in sales, and a large farm several million in gross receipts, before bills are paid. Farmers could have a crop that cost them $3 million to grow and then sell everything for $2.75 million; they would lose $250,000 and would have to pay more than $3,000 in taxes.
Now, I am not an economist or anything, but holy hell, you lost a quarter million dollars last year and you're worried about an extra $3000 in taxes? Buddy, you got bigger problems. Or is it at all possible that in some recent years past you were actually making money on this little farm of yours while paying $10 in taxes. Let me see here, grass seed prices have fallen by 50% in the last 1.5 years, so $2.75 million in sales today was $4.125 million two years ago. By your own figures, you made roughly $1.125 million dollars a couple of years ago. I hope that money can help cushion that $3000 blow in the taxes. Oh, I know, you were just making up numbers and you didn't really make $1.125 million a couple of years ago and if you did, by gum, you earned it because if anyone deserves to make $1.125 million in a year it is the hard working grass seed farmer.
That sounds to me like kicking people when they are down, not fairness.
Exactly. Any businessman, small or otherwise, who cannot make a profit should not have to pay any kind of taxes whatsoever. In fact, there should be a government program where he could apply for loans or something to get him through the lean times because, obviously, businessmen can't fail, they can only be failed. By you (well not "you" you, the general you) and me. Oregonians. Also, any business that makes a profit should not have to pay taxes either, because that's just penalizing them for being successful.
I can understand why businesses leave the state; when government will no longer work with businesses, it’s time. Natural resources are the backbone of our state. The healthier we are, the more people we employ. It is private sector jobs, not those in the public sector, that make an economy work.
It's true. Oregon has really seen an exodus of businesses from this state, despite having the 3rd lowest business taxes in the US. Or they haven't left yet, but surely will if we raise their taxes to .01% of sales and have the 5th lowest businesses taxes. Except for natural resource businesses, of course, who can't leave even if they want to. Consider it the price we make you pay for exploiting our natural resources, because, once upon a time, it was actually thought that all the people owned the resources and taxes were the price you paid the people for the right to exploit them and make your $1.125 million. I know, I must be making that up.
Government bureaucracies need to learn how to cut budgets in hard times just as the private sector does. Join me in voting no on Measures 66 and 67.
Two billion dollars in cuts and more on the way. But don't worry, we'll keep making sure that you have all the infrastructure you need to sell your $3 million worth of grass seed all around this great big world, because, in the end, we all exist to make sure you, Eric Bowers, are able to make a profit.
Eric Bowers

Harrisburg