Friday, June 29, 2007

proletarian paperclip

Assessing the Goracle

What follows is more gamesmanship than serious political argument. If a democrat loses the White House in '08, people like me will be blamed for it. Gore's a hack, sure. But it's important to understand why many progressives, and even a few aspiring socialists, will vote for him. He looks good pragmatically and, if you put on some rose-colored glasses, he even starts to look good ideologically. I think he can win the general election.

Gore is in a lot of corporate interests' back pockets, and has a pretty sordid history of supporting systems that hurt working people (issues I will explore here in the near future). But let's see what the progressive pollyana argument about him really is... It begins with a piece by Ted Daley--a smart left-democrat activist with loads of experience, including working for the Rand Corporation (ouch) and serving on the staffs of Alan Cranston and Dennis Kucinich. His case for the merits of a Gore presidency is indeed rather rose-colored, but his confidence that Gore can win is not, in my opinion, misplaced. On the question of Gore's electability, Daley writes:

there is one more asset that Al Gore brings to the table. Something unique only to him. In 2000 --even with Ralph Nader siphoning 2.8 million votes from just over 100 million ballots cast -- the sitting vice president still beat the sitting governor of Texas nationwide by more than half a million votes. In addition, a great deal of evidence indicates that more Floridians tried to vote for Al Gore than for George Bush -- which means, of course, that Gore actually won in the Electoral College as well.But, at least according to five Supreme Court justices, George Bush won and Al Gore lost. That means that millions of Americans, even many who might not necessarily adore the former vice president, hold a rough recollection that in 2000, Al Gore had something taken away from him that he rightfully earned. And deserved. And won. And that is why the "RAG" bumper sticker, in itself, will be worth ten million votes next time around, for this candidate and this candidate alone. First in the primaries, then again in the general election.What is the "RAG" bumper sticker? "RE-ELECT AL GORE."

Pretty optimistic, Ted. But realistic? I think so. Keep in mind I won't vote for Gore and people like me will be blamed if he gets robbed again... But yesterday's AP reported that "A New Hampshire presidential poll by WHDH-TV and Suffolk University shows that local Democrats prefer Al Gore to any of the current contenders ... Al Gore ... could enter the race as the leader. When his name is added, Clinton loses more than a quarter of her support, while Gore is backed by 32 percent."

Here's what Gore has that I think establishes a higher level of "charisma" than any of the other democrats; I'll address only Clinton, Obama, and Edwards.

1. Moral capital from the 2000 election. Nobody else has it, obviously. He's handled the debacle amazingly well, balancing acceptance with focused political anger.

2. Intellectual capital that has less of a chance being turned against him at this particular political moment than eight years ago. There's a backlash against both real preachers and the preacherly logic of neoconservatism. There's a fashionable religious liberalism movement emerging. Gore comes off as smarter and deeper than Hillary, more wise than Obama, and more broadly knowledgable than Edwards.

3. Experiential capital. He's been there but doesn't have to defend Clintonism, and his beating Sen. Clinton will simply reaffirm that distinction.

4. War capital. He doesn't have to take the blame for any of the Dems' inevitable stumbling on Iraq since the mid-terms. He opposed it from the beginning and was the first biggie to call Bush out for becoming a dictator. The Senate dems, and Edwards, look good compared to any Republican contenders on this issue, but they look bad compared to Gore. Oh, and Gore also has a squeaky clean record on support for Israel. Not even any clumsy photo-ops with Arab extremists like Hillary has...

Frankly, I think anyone besides Gore stands a decent chance of losing if the Republicans figured out a way to play smart rather than desperate. But Gore could beat the best, most unthinkably good Republican candidate in 08.

Gore's negatives? Please, there are no new ones. Climate change "extremism?" I suppose that might be a risk, but it's a purely defensive one: Being a warming believer doesn't COST you capital these days. At worst it's a neutral, but all the momentum is going positive. He's boring? Arrogant? Umm...none of that mattered then, and it matters even less now. Plus we know he's funny. He's the motherf****n Goracle, for hells' sake. Self-depricating humor always rules...

Is he sexy? Rection is somewhat mixed, but his looks certainly aren't a liability. Here's what a quick buddy list poll revealed:

--"U bet!"
--"not in the traditional sense, but in the nerdy sense"
--"Obama's got him beat, but yeah, I could see it"
--"i don't find al gore sexy because he put on that weight and is championing a fight against global warming."
--"not just kind of sexy...he's SEXY, even after putting on weight."
--"Obama is sexier than Gore, but Gore is sexier than Senator Clinton."

Here's the clincher, though, folks: What most people believe killed Gore in 00 was his willingness to alienate the left. I disagree that Nader "cost" Gore the election, but in any event I don't think it would happen again; Gore will be able to exploit his opponents' weaknesses in the primaries to get his lefty credentials out early and often. In the bitterest of ironies eight years after the proclamation that liberalism is dead, a liberalism that includes not sending troops to die for lies is extremely fashionable. Gore's eventual Republican opponent, whoever it is, will not be able to spin a countervision that overcomes Gore's multiple tiers of capital (see above). Next thing you know, he's in the White House...possibly for two terms.

Daley also points out that a Gore-Obama ticket will look very attractive to Obama's handlers.

Remember, all this is just speculation. I'm open to competing thoughts and predictions. And I doubt the Democratic leadership will ever make the right choices; if the dems win it will be because the repubs are extremely weak, which will be the dems' own dumbass luck. But if they suddenly get smart, they'll run this guy again, and I think he'd give any number of republican candidates a country ass whipping.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

profiteering part what?

Can't believe we still periodically mention this after four bloody and miserable years.

From Robert Scheer's well-titled "The Banality of Greed:"
This week's evidence of the continuing corruption of Halliburton and its subsidiaries profiteering from contracts costing American taxpayers an unbelievable $22 billion stems from a report by the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction. The report, only one of many about Halliburton's recently severed subsidiary KBR, focuses on work done in Baghdad's super-secure Green Zone. While parent company Halliburton insults U.S. taxpayers by relocating its headquarters to the tax shelter of Dubai, subsidiary KBR has been spun off to focus more directly on the American military contracts that form the core of its operations. Those operations have already produced a litany of condemnation by congressional and administration oversight bodies, and the June 25 report hardly details the company's most egregious activities. However, the Green Zone, the site of this latest instance of taxpayer fleecing, is instructive because, safely removed from the risks of battle, it deprives these war profiteers of their favorite excuse: that construction in a battle zone is inherently more costly. While KBR's Green Zone shenanigans covered by this report may seem small in comparison with the enormous waste attendant to the U.S. reconstruction program in Iraq, they are illustrative of the feeding frenzy that has fueled the American effort.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Will Paris Really Change???

If so...Jimbo made this excellent new representation. He has amazing skills with this sort of thing, and you can see it all here.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

the debilitating silence

Pages and pages, reams and reams, of mainstream media articles about Iraq, not one of them mentioning economic motivations for prolonged conflict and permanent U.S. presence. It just doesn't exist. The war, the decisions to go to war (however dubious), the post-invasion planning and administration (privatized and handed undisclosed billions), the formation of government, the "surge," all motivated by either blessed or misbegotten spirits (or the world historical Spirit) but not about money. Class is boring. Yawn. It's so 1981.

"Stop being a reductionist," you say. I'm proud to be a reductionist, thank you, but seriously, this isn't even about reductionism. This is about excluding any mention whatsoever of economic motivations, of ignoring even the mention of economic motivation alongside a dozen or so other factors for this or that situation or this or that individual policy decision.

Would it kill them to do that? Just consider economic interests alongside other things? As a matter of fact, it would. Literally, if by "them" we mean the business interests that sustain the increasingly useless and boring mainstream media mansions like the NYT and the Washington Post. It would kill them in the short term because they would be bombarded with accusations of "class warfare" from the far right, upon whose approval they depend far more than they ever admit. It would kill them in the long term because they are the corporate interests they'd be exposing.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Sometimes good people don't die young

Wed May 16, 2007
By Deborah Cohen
CHICAGO (Reuters)
American original Studs Terkel, the author and oral historian who for decades gave a voice to working men and women, turned 95 on Wednesday. But don't worry about his memory. He's sharp as a tack. In fact, he's the one doing the worrying -- about what he describes as the memory loss of a country he suggests may be more interested in the transgressions of celebrities than more substantive affairs such as thepolitics of the Bush administration, which he characterizes as a "burlesque show." ... Terkel's latest book attempts to connect Americans with their past, touching on themes where he staked his claim -- labor, war and race. ...Terkel, a pro-union voice who was blacklisted during the anti-communist witch hunts of the 1950s McCarthy era, bubbles with strong opinions and surprising bursts of energy for a man who had heart surgery at age 93. He sits upright in his easy chair, dressed in his trade-mark red-checkedshirt and matching red socks, sawing the air for emphasis. In less than an hour, he ranged over topics from President Ronald Reagan's invasion of Grenada to Enrico Fermi and the creation of the atomic bomb to "Medium Cool," the film by Haskell Wexler that chronicles Chicago during the tumultuous summer of 1968 when protests against the Vietnam War included bloody clashes in the streets at the Democratic Convention. ..."I have great faith in the people, provided we give them the news," said Terkel, who thinks the American media has moved too far to the right. ... "If I did one thing I'm proud of, it's to make people feel that together, they count," he said.