Monday, September 29, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wick Allison, "A Conservative for Obama", D Magazine:
Barack Obama is not my ideal candidate for president. (In fact, I made the maximum donation to John McCain during the primaries, when there was still hope he might come to his senses.) But I now see that Obama is almost the ideal candidate for this moment in American history. I disagree with him on many issues. But those don’t matter as much as what Obama offers, which is a deeply conservative view of the world. Nobody can read Obama’s books (which, it is worth noting, he wrote himself) or listen to him speak without realizing that this is a thoughtful, pragmatic, and prudent man. It gives me comfort just to think that after eight years of George W. Bush we will have a president who has actually read the Federalist Papers.

Most important, Obama will be a realist. I doubt he will taunt Russia, as McCain has, at the very moment when our national interest requires it as an ally. The crucial distinction in my mind is that, unlike John McCain, I am convinced he will not impulsively take us into another war unless American national interests are directly threatened.
William Irwin Thompson, "Thinking Otherwise: On Predicting the Obvious" in the Wild River Review:

But you may not have noticed - though Senator Joe Biden has - that every neocon policy, global or domestic, has turned out to be wrong, and that rather than being the world's single superpower, we are now an empire in rapid decline. We are now so in hock to China that the deficit-freighted dollar has become the Texas peso. (Bad as this is for the average citizen, the bright side is that Bush's Saudi partners can now buy up U.S. real estate on the cheap.)

London is fast taking over New York as the financial and literary capital of the world. An encircled Russia is breaking through its containment and asserting itself both militarily in Georgia, subtly in the Ukraine, and more openly in Western Europe as its primary source of exports for natural gas. And an extroverted Iran, emboldened by our empowerment of the Shia in Iraq, is preparing to replace Saudi Arabia as the new Alpha Male in the Middle Eastern 'hood.

Meanwhile, back home in the land of the old single superpower, we are living in denial of a recession with inflation; our train system, compared to Western Europe's, is a disgrace, our infrastructure is rotting, and our general populace is so abysmally educated that it is actually proud of it. Sarah Palin is its avatar.


The government takeover of debt from the investment banks means that we all are now living in a federal credit union in which the banks are employees of the state. The banks have had it coming, for it was the kind of Enron management that plundered the state of California and robbed its own investors that first signaled our present state of decline - the kind of management that killed Swissair, WorldCom, and Anderson consultants, the kind of management that cheated investors, robbed pension funds, and polluted the environment, and then bailed out in golden parachutes of millions of dollars for CEOs and huge tax bills passed on to the citizenry to clean up the mess it had left behind.


If America votes for senescent McCain and fundamentalist Palin with her banning of books and elimination of evolutionary science in schools, there will be no transition to a new economy and a new philosophy of the social democratic state in a planetary civilization with an appropriately globalist leader like Obama. There will simply be the collapse of the military-industrial state of imperial America - not the arrival of Palin's fundamentalists' Kingdom - but the beginning of a new dark age. Imagine the United States becoming a penal colony of the stupid run by the rich - but then maybe like many sci fi prophets of the future, I am simply looking, not in a crystal ball, but in the rear-view mirror and seeing where we have been in the Bush administration.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Steve Howe's solo towards the end of "Siberian Khatru" on Live from Montreux.


Then they follow it up with "Magnification", which I just can't get into...
The Republican Party is bad for the economy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

These guys should be out of a job.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

What would it take, hypothetically, for the press corps to call McCain out for being a cynical, amoral, lying pervert?

It seems the McCain campaign is determined to find out:

Asha and I went to the Wisconsin Wool and Sheep Festival, and while watching this guy shear sheep by hand, I saw Matthew Dallman, someone who I havent read in a few years. So I decided to check out his blog and see if he is still an enthusiastic National Review-style right-winger.


This despite being influenced by two writers who are also important to me, Camille Paglia and Ken Wilber (although he denies the influence of the latter). Dallman's and my convergent influences and divergent attitudes have always puzzled me.

According to Matt Dallman, Sarah Palin's kids are really, really cute. And Obama is offensive, because he summarized Republican "Ownership Society" rhetoric as boiling down to "You're on your own." (I thought that it was the best part of his speech, but what do I know?)

Dallman finds this offensive not because it isn't true, but (apparently) because it flippantly describes what is (to Dallman) the essence of the American project.
Mr Obama, the entire point of America, if it could be summarized in words you would understand, is to allow us to live our lives “on our own”.
The whole point of America (not Obama’s version of America, but the real one) is a chance to enjoy the state of mind and stability of potential that is Liberty, something this country has that no other country has ever had, and perhaps few others will ever have. Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness. The ability to own property. Free people doing free things.
Obama is saying he is running for president because, apparently, Liberty isn’t good enough for him. Because Liberty is something we must change, must remake into something else. Liberty is something the silly Republicans talk about. Because the very “pulling up by my bootstraps” he and his wife brag about in their own lives isn’t something they think other people are capable of, or should be allowed to realize on their own time after, yes, failures and false-starts. Because Liberty is making countless errors before getting things right.
As explained here, fetishizing an abstract, unspecified conception of liberty without any balancing virtues, in addition to being nonsensical, is tantamount to advocating anarchism.

But ignoring the nonsensical nature of the argument for the moment, I guess the idea here is that only in America are we free because, for example, in Canada you have free health care, but you are forced to have free health care --- you're not allowed to opt out of the system. Which makes sense, except that it's just as true that in America, you're conversely not free to have free health care. In the US, a certain number of options are opened, but another set are closed. In Canada, a different set are opened, and another set are closed. But when you construe one as more free and the other as less free, what you're really talking about is money. Money = freedom. That's the transcendent principle that Matt was struggling to articulate.

Another objection to Matt's wild enthusiasm for all things NRO is: how one makes the leap from fetishizing a completely abstract, contentless conception of LIBERTY to reciting Republican talking points is...puzzling, considering how Bush II has presided over the largest increase in federal government spending since LBJ, as well as the invasion of two sovereign nations (after failing to keep our country safe from major terrorist attacks, and then failing to capture the perpetrators). Not to mention the comedic levels of corruption, including the complete hollowing-out of the Department of Justice.

But then again, does having a Department of Justice lead to more liberty, or less liberty? I guess you would have to say that it would lead to less liberty for criminals, and more for non-criminals. So how would a fetishist of abstract-conceptions-of-liberty feel about the Bush Administration's enthusiastic destruction of the Justice Department? I wouldn't know --- my fetishes lie elsewhere.

Dallman on Obama:
Being a dyed-in-the-wool progressive, Obama’s “change” is always a variation on a single theme: let’s centralize the decision-making, away from individuals, families, associations, and towards Washington, D.C. “Socialism lite” is certainly an appropriate word; but “progressive” does the job equally well.
No evidence is offered for this rather strong interpretation of Obama's politics. One wonders what Dallman would have made of the curious aggressive anti-libertarianism of another, more famous Illinois politician.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Peggy Noonan, a card-carrying member of the right-wing minority, says: It's over.

For once, I believe her!
The aptly-named Andy McCarthy, responding to a version of the hypothetical I outlined below, is either high on crack, or (more probably) lying.
13.167% the probability that an average 72-year-old will not live to turn 76.

Therefore, if McCain is elected, those are the actuarial chances that in McCain's first term, Sarah Palin, two-year governor of the smallest state in the union, a state with less people than some Congressional districts or (for example) DuPage County, will become President of the United States.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Dr. James Dobson, professional hypocrite: Its okay for Palin's teenage daughter to have a baby...because Palin is a right-wing Republican and a fundamentalist Christian.

Can you imagine the reaction if this were Obama's teenage daughter having a baby? It would be nothing but 24/7 sky-is-falling moral panic over epidemic teenage promiscuity. CNN would have the threat-down siren going indefinitely.

This episode vividly displays the ongoing train-wreck of prejudice against anything other than the fascist, militaristic Republican Party party line that exists in our society --- not to mention the plain-as-day racial double standard.