Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I Want to Wage War. My "Leaders" Want to Surrender

So I guess after a mere eight months or so we don't want to go too fast on this health care reform, do we? This article in the New York Times makes it clear that not only will DINOs Blanche Lincoln and Evan Bayh oppose the use of reconciliation, Harry the Invertebrate Reid will yield to their opposition, because, after all, there's no rush. Lieberman wants to "reach out to the Republicans" and McConnell is crowing already that the bill is dead.

I want to fight. I want to side with courageous leadership in the battle to provide for the American people what the citizens of EVERY advanced industrial democracy enjoy: universal access to high quality health care.

I am ready to sacrifice and do battle for the well-being of my country.

Instead, my "leaders" in the Democratic Party cave in to and compromise with the Corporate Prostitutes and obedient servants of the insurance industry. While other Americans are dying from untreated illnesses, in terrible chronic pain because they cannot afford treatment, or losing everything because a catastrophic illness has wiped out their savings, our "leadership" looks for new ways to grovel and to debase itself. Our "leadership" is going to hand the Tea Party psychotics a HUGE victory, one which have terrible consequences. And people like me, and a lot of you, are wondering why we--the ones who love Barack Obama, the ones who gave our money, our time, our tears, and our sweat--seem only to get the back of our "leaders'" hands.

This whole episode has contributed to a crushing depression that has me in a vice-like grip. (And I'm not speaking metaphorically--I'm going to ask my doctor for a change in medication. Guess I should be happy that I HAVE a doctor.) Our impending defeat on health care--and make no mistake, it IS a defeat--will contribute to our losing control of both houses of Congress and the presidency by November 2012. Once again, the Democrats, with (on paper) huge majorities in both houses have fallen flat on their faces, just as they did in 1993-94. Once again the conservatives have outmaneuvered us, out-shouted us, out-lied us, and run rings around us. And the Right has done this with the aid of people that LBJ would have flattened in five minutes. You know when I knew we were in trouble? When Joe Lieberman was allowed to keep his chairmanships after defecating all over us repeatedly and campaigning for the Republicans in 2008. Now who the hell is going to have any fear of or respect for the power of President Obama when the Democrats won't even punish a back-stabbing, lying, two-faced son of a bitch like Holy Joe? Yes, that's when I smelled trouble.

And the trouble came.

Bill Kristol and his boys have won again. Sarah "Death Panels" Palin has won. Pathological liar Betsy McCaughey has won again. The Tea Party assholes who shouted down your Congressman in August have won. Boehner, McConnell, and Cantor have won. Fox "News" and Limbaugh and Beck and Hannity and Coulter have won. Dick Morris has won. And the tens of millions of Americans who desperately needed our help have lost.

I hereby formally predict that we will lose 6 Senate seats and 45 seats in the House in November. I hereby formally predict that a completely crippled Barack Obama will be unable to do anything decent in health care, environmental protection, financial regulatory reform, or immigration. I further predict that a Republican will be elected president 2012, and will lead this country, with the help of his or her majorities in Congress, into utter catastrophe.

I wanted to be part of a great army. Instead, I see cynical double-dealing and craven "compromises" that always, always, ALWAYS go only one way: against the interests of the American people.

I wanted to fight for America. I still do.

But my "leaders" know only surrender and submission.

And it's killing me.

Monday, January 25, 2010

War is the Health of the State

I have thought many times about the history of the terrible 20th century, especially the horrible toll in lives and suffering taken by wars. Certainly there were major conflicts in previous centuries that caused widespread death and destruction (such as the depredations of the Assyrians, the slaughters perpetrated by the Mongols, the Thirty Years' War, the Napoleonic Wars, the Chinese Civil War of the 1850s and 1860s), but the past century dwarfed anything previously seen. Moreover, we saw the rise of the phenomenon that military historian John Keegan called "Every Man a Soldier", the militarization of countless societies. I am interested in the both the causes and consequences of this phenomenon, and I've got some thoughts to share with you below. By the way, I am not a pacifist; war and preparation for war is sometimes necessary. But what do these states of preparation do to us?

The deepest and most ancient purpose of human society is mutual defense as a way of facilitating the survival both of one’s self and the group of which one is a part. We must suppose that our earliest ancestors, living on the unforgiving East African savannahs, evolved from primates whose very existence was predicated on their ability to defend themselves as a group, hence perpetuating the genes that made such survival possible in the first place. Mutual self-defense, therefore, is both genetically beneficial and self-reinforcing. The better a group is at defending itself from predators, rival groups, the Earth’s geological upheavals, the vagaries of climate, the ravages of disease, or simple random bad strokes of luck, the more likely it is that it will prosper sufficiently to have descendants. It is these descendants and their descendants, biological generation after biological generation, who will continue, elaborate, and perhaps spread the group’s distinctive way of life. This way of life will come to seem “natural”, “normal”, the way “real humans” live, and completely unique, perhaps even superior, in the minds of its members. The members of such a group will therefore find the group’s survival absolutely imperative. It will be imperative because its members, of course, will link their own personal survival and the survival of those with whom they are emotionally bound, to it. But it will be imperative also because the bulk of its members (not necessarily all) will see the group’s survival as desirable in and of itself. The group’s success will not only tend to guarantee personal safety; it will guarantee the continuance of a way of life that is considered right in the most basic sense.

The importance of the group’s survival is usually considered by its members to be so important that it trumps all other considerations. In times of intense threat or crisis, in order that the group might live, its leaders will usually take control of assets and resources that would in normal times be considered private property. The group’s leaders will try to organize the energies and labors of the group’s members to maximize the production of weapons, the organization, equipping, and transport of armed forces, and the production only of those commodities that are considered absolutely necessary to the group’s survival. The group’s members will usually find their freedom of expression, especially of dissent, to be severely or completely curtailed, lest dissident voices undermine the group’s willingness to endure the sacrifices and hardships which conflict necessarily entails. (Sometimes the suppression of dissent is imposed to prevent some of the group’s members from challenging the authority of those in positions of leadership, questioning the leaders’ motives, or criticizing the methods by which the leaders are conducting an intergroup conflict.)

Above all, the group will assert that certain of its members must be willing to put themselves “in harm’s way”, and, if required, sacrifice their lives or physical well-being in the defense of the group and its interests. The symbols of group identity, such as flags, the images of sacred animals, objects associated with the group’s past and heritage, or words which reflect the group’s “official” or aspirational identity, will tend to assume prominent places in the audiovisual environment of the group. The group’s enemies will, correspondingly, be presented in the worst light possible. The leaders of groups at war frequently find it useful to tell those over whom they have authority that their enemies are not only cruel, threatening, and evil, but less than human or “subhuman”. The dehumanization of the enemy spurs the group’s collective efforts onward, reaching into the brain’s most primitive and violent combinations of internal structures. Fighting an enemy literally considered to be non-human arouses deep feelings of hatred, disgust, loathing, fear, and determination to win at all costs. It also removes from the group’s combatants the sense of moral restraint that normally inhibits the infliction of physical harm on others.

In a war, the cause of group survival justifies, in the minds of many if not most of the group’s members, almost any action, up to and including the mass slaughter of helpless children. A group may work to minimize the infliction of violence on the non-combatants of an enemy group, but more often than not, it finds the infliction of hardship on them (such as hunger, the lack of necessary items for every day living, deprivation of medical care, and other difficulties) to be an unavoidable concomitant of destroying the group’s ability to wage war at all.

And in regard to an enemy group’s armed combatants, any tactic is usually considered fair game. Their heads may be caved in by heavy, blunt objects; their bodies may be pierced by sharp objects; their limbs or genitalia or heads or faces may be severed either by sharp objects or pieces of material emitted or thrown about by exploding objects; they can be subjected to burning or even total immolation by fire-causing or fire-emitting objects; they can be subjected to injuries caused by other humans striking them with hands or feet, or strangling them; they can be choked to death or burned by chemical weapons; their bodies may be evaporated by explosives; they may be drowned en masse; their bodies can be pierced or torn to shreds by high velocity projectiles. Always—always—enemy warriors are subjected to the absolute extremes of physical injury, physical suffering, and psychological trauma. The infliction of these horrors on others can be rationalized by the reasoning that these enemy warriors, if not stopped, would inflict those very same horrors on one’s own combatants, and if one’s own combatants were to be eliminated, the enemy would inflict these horrors on the group’s non-combatant population, or at the very least, threaten the non-combatant population so completely that the people of one’s group would be forced to surrender or submit. In the history of many groups of humans, surrender and submission are associated with an enemy inflicting mass murder, mass rape, torture, and enslavement on the group’s members, as well as the destruction of the group’s physical culture and the subordination of the group’s way of life to the enemy (or even the total eradication of one’s traditional way of life).

Thus, driven by the most basic animal fear and hatred, combined with the cerebral cortex’s ability to imagine the consequences of defeat, a group in conflict will generally be willing to do anything to destroy its opponents, even, if necessary, exterminating them utterly. And in order to accomplish these works of destruction, a group’s members will generally forego their own hopes and desires, and submit to those who are leading and organizing the sacred work of achieving group victory.

Naturally, given the inherent weaknesses of human intellect, and the operation of variables that are too numerous and complex in their manifestation for humans to deal with (and the operation of random chance above all), wars often take on a bumbling, error-laden character that, were the consequences of human violence not so terrible, would almost be humorous. Leaders make a host of mistakes in wartime; followers are often left adrift, or left to do what they are ordered without comprehending what they are being ordered to do. Human incompetence, invariably, makes an absolute mess out of almost every situation. But be that as it may, certain facts remain: in wartime, the power of a group’s government grows and the individual rights of the group’s members decline. The leadership and those who are immediately subordinate to it and who carry out, however fumblingly, its directives—what we tend to generalize by the use of the word State—gain tremendous freedom of action, power in its clearest form The leaders command the resources, attention, focus, energy, work, and well-being of those whom they govern.

And in societies that have been in conflict most frequently with others, the highest values are very often martial ones, just as they were in the era during which The Iliad was laid down on paper for the first time. Heroism in battle is considered by many to be the greatest individual achievement possible, either in saving the lives of one’s comrades, killing or capturing large numbers of enemy warriors, or some combination of the two. Individual greatness is therefore thought of in terms of service to the group, even though men in combat fight for each other, as the overwhelming evidence shows. The leaders of the government appropriate the heroism of their warriors for their own purposes, thus making those warriors’ sacrifices serve the State.

The legacy of wars is very often a government with permanently enhanced powers, permanently increased resources, and a government that appropriates the group’s history, its cultural heritage, and the heroism of its warriors. Hence the phrase, “War is the health of state”. In war, the leaders of a group gain life or death power over not only the group’s enemies, but the group’s own people. And very often in human history, once such powers have been acquired, they are never relinquished.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Right-Wing Commentator Peggy Noonan: Scott Brown Looks Like a "Real American"

The appalling conversation of which this remark was a part is right here.

You know, every so often, the Right-Wingers let their guards down and tell you what they really think. So, I thought I'd show you folks some of my ideas about what a Real American looks like:

Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers.

Hasidic Jewish boy, New York City

The late Barbara Jordan, Member of Congress, Constitutional scholar.

Tom Sakamoto, Veteran of World War II.

Oh, and Ms. Noonan--this man looks like a Real American, too.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Losers and Cowards Will Quit Now. I'M GOING TO WAR!

Well, it looks like so-called "Independent" Scott Brown has won a Senate seat in our most heavily Democratic state. Just for the record,


Screw him. The campaign to unseat this lying, Republican Tea Party son a bitch is starting NOW, and I'm starting it.

I will immediately pledge money to any worthy Democrat who announces for Brown's seat for the 2012 election. I'd like to see someone do it tomorrow. Oh, and by the way...

--Stop using the Republican Party's bullshit anti-HCR talking points.

--Start wrapping the Tea Party fanatics around the necks of these lying Republican bastards. Tell the voters the truth: if the Republicans win this year, the people who carry signs showing Barack Obama with a swastika win.

--Start wrapping Limbaugh and Robertson around the Republicans' necks too. Remind them that GOP Party Leader Limbaugh and GOP Patron Saint Robertson are the ones pissing all over the desperate, wounded people of Haiti.

--Start volunteering for your local Democrat NOW.

--Start contributing DIRECTLY to your local Democrat NOW. Screw the DNC and the DSCC. Give money right to your local party.

--Step up the war against the Radical Right in the Letters to the Editor, the on-line forums, and anywhere else you can. These cowards will back down if they're verbally slugged hard enough.

--Start building up your local party ASAP.


Ask them--

If they plan to impeach President Obama.

Ask them if their plans include the following:

Outlawing abortion in all circumstances, even rape, incest, and the life of the mother.

Repealing the health care legislation, including provisions that forbid insurance companies from barring those with pre-existing conditions.

Launching an all-out preemptive war against Iran and Yemen.

Legalizing torture in all criminal interrogations. (Hey Scalia said it didn't violate the 8th Amendment!)

Outlawing all forms of birth control.

Declaring the United States a Christian Nation where non-Christians live only by permission of the Christian majority.

Calling for the death penalty or imprisonment for homosexuality. (Think I'm joking? Read the Oklahoma Republican Party platform if you can stomach it.)

Privatizing Social Security.

Ending Medicare and Medicaid.

Ratcheting up the "war on drugs" and outlawing all medical marijuana, even for the terminally ill.

Allowing for the State to intervene in end-of-life care.

Get these bastards on the freaking record. Put THEM on the G-d damned defensive.

--Ask the Republicans what they think of taxing the Bank Bonuses. Ask them how they intend to create jobs. Ask them what they're going to do about our crumbling infrastructure. Put them on the spot everywhere, every time.

As you can tell, I'm fucking mad. And I'm sick and tired of all the pissing and moaning by Democrats. Get yourselves off the G-d damned ground NOW. Get to work again NOW. Start giving the Republicans hell NOW. I don't give a shit if you think President Obama isn't living up to your G-d damn expectations. The Republicans in power would be a thousand times worse. So take your grief and turn it into anger. Take that anger and turn it into ACTION.

Scotty boy--kiss my ass. No congratulations to you. You will get nothing but all-out war from me, and anyone else with fighting spirit. You're DONE, boy. Count on it.

Remember what Winston Churchill said:


I'm going to war. Right fucking now.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Andrew Sullivan Speaks for Me Today

He doesn't always, but on the eve of a Republican winning the seat held by Ted Kennedy for 47 years, he sure does. Excerpt:

...any legislative moves with this Democratic party and this Republican party are close to hopeless. The Democrats are a clapped out, gut-free lobbyist machine. The Republicans are insane. The system is therefore paralyzed beyond repair.

Yes, I'm gloomy. Not because I was so wedded to this [health care] bill, although I think it's a decent enough start. But because if America cannot grapple with its deep and real problems after electing a new president with two majorities, then America's problems are too great for Americans to tackle.

And so one suspects that this is a profound moment in the now accelerating decline of this country. And one of the major parties is ecstatic about it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


The horrible disaster that struck Haiti may have killed ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND people. Many, many more are injured, homeless, and desperate. Huffington Post has an excellent page here that has links to all kinds of organizations where you can donate help.

Oh, and Rush Limbaugh's first reaction? To try to politicize the disaster and use it as a vehicle to attack President Obama. It's right here if you can stand to listen to this disgusting, bloated, drug-addicted asshole. Give money to Haiti for two reasons:

1. The Haitian people desperately need it.
2. To stick it up Limbaugh's ass.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Glenn Greenwald at His Brutal, Savage Best

His take-down of our disgusting, tabloid-level Washington media is a gem of ferocity, as Greenwald studies the reception by our "journalists" of Mark Halperin's latest "book". Excerpt:

This reaction has nicely illuminated what our press corps is. The book is little more than royal court gossip, churned out by the leading practitioner of painfully sycophantic, Drudge-mimicking cattiness: Time's Mark Halperin. And all of the courtiers, courtesans, court spokespeople (i.e., "journalists") and hangers-on who populate our decadent little Versailles on the Potomac can barely contain their glee over the opportunity to revel in this self-absorbed sleaze. Virtually every "political news" TV show is hyping it. D.C. reporters are boasting that they obtained early previews and are excitedly touting how intensively they're studying its pages in order to identify the most crucial revelations. Just try to contemplate how things would be if even a fraction of this media energy and interest level were devoted to scrutinizing the non-trivial things political leaders do.

Read the whole thing, friends.

ALERT: Radical Right Wing Lunatics Gain Control of Texas Schoolbook Policies

The whole disturbing story is here. And why does this matter? Because Texas acquires its textbooks on a statewide level, and textbook publishers bend to the state's wishes. Right-wing radicals are using the process to attack the teaching of evolution, destroy the separation of church and state, make a hero out of Joe McCarthy (whose most vicious attack was against Gen. George C. Marshall), ignore the civil rights movement, and basically indoctrinate kids with right wing lies and propaganda. As a former teacher, I care deeply about such matters, and we need to be heard on this matter. Texas helps set the NATIONAL standard about what will be taught. These Right-wing psychopaths and religious fanatics want to tell your children lies. In the name of truth and sanity, we need to fight them. I urge you in the strongest terms to do so.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Rapture-Obsessed Sarah Palin

Does Sarah Palin believe the Apocalypse is near? Based on her remarks that Jews would soon be "flocking" to Israel in the days, weeks, and months to come, it's a possibility. Jeffrey Goldberg interviewed an evangelical scholar from Liberty University named Thomas Ice about the matter. Excerpt:

"Over forty percent of the world's Jews now live in Israel. What Sarah Palin probably believes is that this is the first regathering," when the Jews all migrate to Israel. "This is a condition for the second regathering, the regathering in belief, when the Jewish nation is converted. Then there will be the battle of Armageddon, because remember, Satan wants to wipe out the Jews to prevent the Second Coming, but Jesus comes to rescue the beleaguered Jews. We believe that the Jews are going to be converted so that they can call on Jesus to rescue them from Satan." [Emphasis added.]

Yes, the Jews will convert or die. And the time when the Jews will have to convert or die may be just around the corner.

Battle of Armageddon. The Apocalypse. The Tribulation.

And a lot of Republicans want Sarah Palin to have control of America's nuclear arsenal.

Draw your own conclusions.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Colossal Failure of Bush-Cheney Economics

The WORST economic performance since the Great Depression.

The WORST job growth.

An actual DROP in net household worth.

A sheer, unmitigated disaster from every standpoint, the consequences of conservative economic policies of deregulation and shifting wealth toward the upper class.

And notice, by the way, the superiority of the performance of the economy under Clinton over the economy under Reagan. Just for the record.

And it is the supporters of the disastrous Bush-Cheney years that want to return to power this year.

Consider yourself warned.