Tag: ideology

FOX and TEA Speakers Don’t Get Paid Much??

where can i how to buy free levitra I posted the following in an open thread, over at KOS, last night, it’s a local report about another hypocritical grifter trying, apparently, to get on that gravy train of the rush, beck, palin types. He’s either not succeeding or he’s lyin, which would be typical and going along with the grifter con, hitting the easy marks and reaping that wealth.

follow site I’ll add a few more lines to what I posted, why?, well it’s still getting local play, caught it this morning, and this guy apparently needs more press exposure. My duty to help him out so he can make more ‘grifting’.

The Long March of Paul Craig Roberts

comprare vardenafil Palermo He was 30 years ago one of the ideological firebrands of the Reagan Administration.  As its Assistant Treasury Secretary, was the actual author of the Reagan Administration’s centerpiece Kemp-Roth tax bill, and was also the author of the book prednisone tab 5 mg The Supply-Side Revolution.  

But in a party that often gives them lip service and then the bus, he made the mistake of actually taking seriously his libertarian principles of civil liberties at home and anti-intervention abroad.  Thus in the Bush years he began to move away from the Republican Party leadership, including many of his former colleagues.

The Tea Party and the 21st Century Social Crisis

I’ve been thinking tonight about the accumulating and apparently accelerating cycle of social crises and conflicts of the past several years.  Specifically I’ve been thinking about this in the context of the rightist “Tea Party” movement, which may have reached its high-water mark with the nomination of Rand Paul as the Republican candidate for Senator from Kentucky.  Most notable to me is the stridently pro-corporate, pro-business nature of Paul’s rhetoric.  This exposes to some degree the contradiction between the rightist nature of the Tea Party, and the string of corporate abuses that have provided much of the social discontent on which the Teabaggers have sought to advance.

This is also the first, tentative and provisional, step in my long contemplated effort to develop a larger social and ideological critique of the current social crisis, both in the US and globally.  I’m sure I’ll backtrack, reassess, recorrect some good portion of this and what will follow, but for the first time I feel at least sufficiently  confident of my understanding to begin putting words on paper, or on electron as the case may be.  

Is This All There Is?

Crossposted at DKOS after a long delay. Some really good comments over there!

Gradually, we have stopped really looking at the horror. Not that it is all horror. Life itself is sweet. It is that sudden gust of summer wind that carries honeysuckle and a mixture of green-tinted scents. This is life, so full and opulent. This great Goddess that nurtures us without stint, without regret, without reproach. She accepts us just as we are and always will no matter what we do. She will cry in a dark corner but blame no one. Crying and hurt is part of the nature of fecundity.

But what of us? Actually we don’t give a shit. Not really. We are able to live in a very artificial world very far away from our Great Mother who cools her heels beneath the window of our daydreams. Daydreams and fantasies dominate our world-we want fantasies to be real. It seems that we want to shape the world and other people to fit our fantasies.


Something is profoundly wrong with the way we live today. For thirty years we have made a virtue out of the pursuit of material self-interest: indeed, this very pursuit now constitutes whatever remains of our sense of collective purpose. We know what things cost but have no idea what they are worth. We no longer ask of a judicial ruling or a legislative act: Is it good? Is it fair? Is it just? Is it right? Will it help bring about a better society or a better world? Those used to be the political questions, even if they invited no easy answers. We must learn once again to pose them.

Tony Judt wrote the above in the first paragraphs of an article he wrote in the New York Review of Books. In a way he is stating the obvious but it is hard to understand what has happened during the period Judt describes unless you’ve lived through it. It seems like wondering what a good society might look like is almost forbidden. The general view is no other way of living is possible.

Food Stamp Profiling Contributes to the Stigma

The Food Stamp program has always been a contentious, heavily partisan issue.  A recent New York Times article highlights the back-and-forth that has characterized the highs and lows of the program, and where it seems to be headed.  Today I’ve chosen to write about this controversial subject to, in part, document of my own direct personal experience.  Though food stamp usage might have been more stigmatized in an earlier year, there is unfortunately still much bias and prejudice directed towards those who take advantage of its existence.  Until this is eliminated, others will refuse to apply and find their poverty and need considerably worsened.  If this be Welfare, it is one of the most essential safety nets ever devised and my fear is that a resurgent GOP presence will eliminate it altogether, or prune it back considerably.  

A New Year’s Resolution for Activists

In this New Year, I resolve to learn the balance between that which I can positively effect and that which I cannot.  I make this resolution not in a desire to shirk my responsibility to my fellow person, but out of the understanding that life is too short to hold myself to a series of arbitrary, exacting rules that remove the joy of daily living.  This goes beyond the familiar language of the Serenity Prayer and has application to every activist cause of which I espouse.  Though we may be tough on the offenders, we are even tougher on ourselves, and that inevitably leads to burn out and soul-killing cynicism.  There is no sin in recharging our batteries periodically or at least recognizing that the greater problems which face us will remain no matter how many hours we devote to their eradication or how intensely we seek to amplify the volume to raise public awareness.          

For example, dietary laws were extremely important to the First Century Christians, and indeed in still so in many Jewish and Islamic circles (as well as some Christian ones).  Moreover, the idea of unity with God by eating a meal was an integral concept within Jewish, Christian, and Pagan traditions.  Those who had converted to Christianity from Paganism were uncomfortable consuming food that had been presented as a sacrifice to Pagan gods and asked for guidance.  To this, Paul replied,      

Someone may say, “I’m allowed to do anything,” but not everything is helpful. I’m allowed to do anything, source but not everything encourages growth.  People should be concerned about others and not just about themselves.  Eat anything that is sold in the market without letting your conscience trouble you.

I’m not talking about your conscience but the other person’s conscience. Why should my freedom be judged by someone else’s conscience?  If I can thank God for the food and enjoy it, why should I be condemned for eating it?

I understand the importance of social justice, particularly social justice through food purchase, which has driven a cottage industry.  Organic food, for example, was hippie food first, then became yuppie food.  Aside from the obvious, however, it is a curious quirk of humanity that we often cast aside one form of rote legalism for another form of it that closely agrees with our current sensibilities.  I know of Atheists who are themselves converts from conservative Christianity and in rightly pointing out the restrictive elements of their upbringing, they then adopt a philosophy of their that is no different in its basic construction.  We often focus on that which is intolerant, but living a life dictated too heavily by rules and restrictions doesn’t just eradicate freedom, it also removes the pleasure and fun of life.  I firmly believe that life is to be enjoyed.  Enough problems exist with our time here on earth than to be further dragged down and burdened by looking for problems.  Furthermore, if we focus on law, we adopt a neurotic posture that revolves around ourselves first and foremost.  If, however, we focus on unselfish love, then our concern shifts to other people.      

This isn’t true just for that which we take into our bodies.  Far too often the fear of climate change and global warming leads to its own a kind of legalism that assumes that through an well-intentioned obsession with minimizing our potential damage to the planet that we can somehow fulfill our obligations.  Global warming or some form of environmental decay has led some to rush to turn off lights, micromanage the settings of thermostats, and turn noses up at products likely produced by objectionable means.  This is, of course, not to say that aiming to be environmentally friendly and less conspicuously consumerist is not worth our time.  However, when our lives become Sisyphean to no good end, then we ought to concede that it is our own salvation through works that is predicated on personal conduct that leaves no room for error.  If I could teach any lesson to those of us who ascribe to an activist philosophy, that would be it.

In my own life, it is a big temptation to rush to judgment towards those I deem not conducting their own affairs in the manner in which I demand they should.  In particular, among online activist forums, a kind of extreme skepticism takes hold among participants.  It stems from a collective understanding of just how easy it is to pull the wool over the eyes of the ignorant and the ill-informed, and with it comes understandable feeling of despair that nothing one can possibly do will change that fact.  Still, if we adopt that stance, we are assuming that people are forever prisoners of their fate and that they can never change for the better.  Even though many may never revise their beliefs and may cling to that which we deem unenlightened and maddeningly stupid, we must never forget that there is always a chance that some may see the light.  Perhaps it is we who must modify our expectations and take a more realistic position regarding our poor power to add or detract to the tally.        

A year or so ago, I taught an online course of American History to technical college students.  My students were predominately working class, blue collar toilers who were seeking to further their education by means of attaining certification to achieve a specific higher paying vocation.  They were far from the typical college freshmen of which I had once been.  With my middle class education and background, I recognized quickly that it was highly unlikely that I would have ever befriended even one of my students, nor gravitated towards the same things as they in my own life.  At the beginning of the course, the views of many of my students were identical to those that Progressives often lament or caustically dismiss as hopelessly backwards or offensively naive.

Yet, after I was fortunate enough to really engage and reach my students, I noticed many of those old prejudices were being openly challenged and few were resisting this exercise in liberty and personal freedom.  I never sought to change anyone’s mind, but what I did note with much satisfaction is that until that instant, no one had ever bothered to expand and broaden their understanding beyond soundbytes and inexact, hackneyed rhetoric.  Once the complexities of human nature and historical reality became known to them, one could almost observe the metaphorical light bulb going off.  It was a thrilling thing to observe for me, the instructor, and after I took some degree of pride in my hard work, I recognized again how much class differences and economic disparities go into forming a concept of identity and system of belief.  Many of those who may have thus far taken a completely opposite political stance to mine never had the opportunities I had.  What I often find most frustrating among those who consider themselves worldly and intelligent are that they are usually the most stubbornly intractable regarding entertaining the notion that they could be wrong or that their own personal canon of wisdom might not be as airtight as they claim it is.  Those who, like my students, almost have a hero worship of the educated are much easier to enlighten and empower, though with that blank slate comes its own set of responsibility and ethical conduct.

Jesus spoke to those who felt as though they knew-it-all,

Then he said to them, “I can guarantee this truth: Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

This is not to imply that I am infantilizing my students in some kind of exercise of mock pious Paternalism, but rather to note how much easier it is to open the minds of those who have not kept theirs resolutely snapped shut.  We are never too smart, nor too old to learn or to be taught a lesson.  Elitism begins to creep in whenever we act or think otherwise.  Elitism is a enemy of Progressivism as sure as any of the well-documented offenders that never leave our radar screens.  Constructing hierarchies of influence locks out those who wish to belong and want a spot at the table.  Who cares if they don’t fit the profile up front!  So what if they can’t write a brilliantly crafted blog entry or propose some pithy statement in comments!  If we, myself included, were a bit more patient with each other and embraced the idea of a loving family rather than as an outlet for people who desperately want their own views to be validated in a public forum, then we might be making some serious progress.  No one doubts how desperately we seek and need a community and how many of us find it within activist political circles, but the shortcomings and the problems cry out for reform just as badly as any number of the worthy causes we demand be addressed.  

This then, is my greatest New Year’s Resolution,

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “ go to site Feed my lambs.”  

Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “ levitra generic cheap Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.  

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “ http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=farmacia-viagra-generico-a-Firenze Feed my sheep.”  

Health Care Truths, Not Health Care Myths

Having passed a long-overdue Health Care Reform Act, expect the media to dust off long-composed narratives it kept in cold storage until this point.  The instant President Obama signs the bill into law in a massive ceremony full of important people, flashbulbs, and saturation coverage, there will be many who will seek to make the gravity of the event better understood by means of analysis and interpretation.  Contrary to what some may write, I am not entirely convinced that Health Care saved Obama’s Presidency, though it would certainly have removed the last of the luster around him had it failed.  There will be many contentious fights to come, but the passage of the bill will likely limit GOP gains in next year’s Mid-Congressional election.  It will provide momentum to force through other reform measures and will be a face saving device to aid vulnerable incumbents.  But like much of politics, the ultimate impact of it all is indebted to future understanding and events yet to come, of which none of us is privy.  

Also to be found in copious quantity are the requisite gross of stories lamenting the end of good cheer among legislators of different parties.  One would think that this health care bill has ushered in a golden age of distressing polarity, but it has not.  Most people are terrified of change.  Many will sign on to change in the abstract, but once the concrete is poured, their opposition hardens.  Trusting in the known is much like betting on the favored horse, but trusting in the unknown possibility comes with it 50-1 odds.  Most people are not riverboat gamblers, but if they were, they’d often reap the rewards of taking a chance for the sake of positive gain.  This truism has no allegiance to party or ideological affinity.  Nor is it an American institution.

While the Senate has always been structured to foster some degree of collegiality by its very makeup and its relatively small size, one mustn’t let the myth obscure the facts.  The Senate may be a family, but it is a strangely dysfunctional one, and the House equally so.  This is, we needn’t forget, the same collective body where Representative Preston Brooks savagely bludgeoned Senator Charles Sumner with a cane on the latter chamber’s floor.  At other crucial points in our nation’s history, decorum has been replaced by nastiness and I think perhaps our latest group of elected representatives do not remember or have not studied precisely what happens when measures this large and all encompassing are further hyper-charged by massive displays of public sentiment and outcry.  Regarding this subject, Senator Orrin Hatch strikes back at us in the blogosphere for daring to hold his feet to the fire as well as the feet of other legislators.  We ought to take this as proof of a job well done and aim to keep it going.  

I am also not particularly sympathetic to Representatives and Senators who have complained about the extended hours needed to pass this bill.  If they had resolved it in a more timely fashion, then this matter would have been dealt with long ago.  Republicans have used stalling tactics and obstructionist procedural measures, but as we all knew, the Democratic party itself was the real enemy at work.  Attempting to pacify various factions within itself to hold together a fragile coalition is what took so long to reach resolution.  Moreover, if this is what it takes to achieve true fairness and equality, I wish they’d be in session every year and even up until Christmas Eve, if needed.  It is, of course, true that Senators need to spend a certain amount of time campaigning, raising funds, and observing for themselves the nuts-and-bolts of the policy issues upon which they will propose and vote.  However, too often these are excuses cited for not being in session at all, especially when needed legislation is allowed to die a needless death or is tabled in committee with no re-introduction ever intended.

It is true that,

[f]or more than 30 years, the major parties – Democrats and Republicans – worked every angle to transform politics into a zero-sum numbers game. State legislatures redrew Congressional districts to take advantage of party affiliation in the local population. The two-year campaign cycle became a never-ending one.

Politics, however, has always been a game of knees to the groin and leaps to the jugular.  When contentious matters and contentious times existed, collegiality was the first thing to be discarded and shed.  In times of plenty with few especially pressing matters, then party lines could sometimes seem obscured or unimportant.  The so-called “Culture Wars” are a partial explanation for that which we have been facing.  In truth, the Republican party began to take a sharp right turn beginning with the Contract with America in 1994 and then culminating in the election of George W. Bush.  When Bush played directly to the Republican base at the expense of the middle, this caused a correspondingly swift and sharp reaction in the left wing of the Democratic party, which the Progressive blogosphere correctly considers a call to arms.  Returning to the idea of truth versus saccharine sugarcoating, yet again, it is tempting for all of us to invent our own mythology, particularly when it suits our cause, but this is a compulsion we must never adopt for whatever reason may be.  The truth will set us free, but freedom is often pricey, especially when we remove it from circulation.      

Fundamental flaws in progressive ideology

In my previous diary I asked progressive readers whether or not they really wanted power, since they seem to be willing to trust the actual handling of political power to the neoliberals.  This phenomenon was obvious in earlier election cycles: progressives supported Kerry for President, while Nader was labeled as a pariah.  Here I will try to identify the flaw in progressive ideology, which integrates it into the catastrophic path staked out by global capitalism.

(Crossposted at Orange)

Health Care: The Definition of Success is Failure

The political news streaming out of Washington, at least as reported by the major outlets, already casts a large, ominous shadow promising nothing but inevitable disappointment and tension headaches.  By strong implication, the ultimate effect produced no matter what health care bill is passed by both chambers and then signed into law will be that of bitterest disappointment.  The irony, however, is that no matter the outcome, whatever results from negotiation and finds its way onto President Obama’s desk will be deemed either insufficient or detrimental in the minds of both liberals, moderates, and conservatives alike.  I suppose I was of the silly opinion that success had many fathers while failure was an orphan.  That a bill so desperately needed could be so reviled, rather than revered upon enactment, (and, need I mention, years before it will even be fully implemented and tested for effectiveness) speaks to how we seem to judge winning and losing these days.

As Paul Simon wrote,

Laugh about it

Shout about it,

When you’ve got to choose,

Every way you look at it, you lose.

Regardless of one’s political allegiance, the Health Care Reform bill will be rightly deemed beneficial or detrimental when it is more or less fully integrated into the existing system.  It is at that point, which might be as long as five whole years from now that we will be able to make a credible judgment for ourselves as to whether or not it works.  Until then, we are merely gaming on probabilities and resorting to that eternal bane of every cagey politician:  speculating about hypotheticals.  Although hammering out the intent of the bill is highly necessary, our fiercest criticisms should be saved for much later down the road.  My thoughts now pivot to the words of the Civil War historian Shelby Foote, who, when discussing his opinion as to the root cause of that divisive conflict, stated,


“We failed to do the thing we have a true genius for, compromise.  Americans like to think of themselves as uncompromising but it’s the basis of our democracy, our government is founded on it; it failed.”

To highlight another current issue, some are already pronouncing the stimulus package either an outright failure or a disappointment, but the truth of the matter is that its impact is simply not as bombastic and instantly transformative as many of us were expecting.  A vast majority of the funds have not yet even been dispersed or spent and many others are tied up in bureaucratic red tape.  The lesson to be learned is that government works very slowly, it is heavily indebted to the status quo, and that no matter what promises of change are made, one must work within the established parameters of the system.  This does not mean, however, that in seeking massive reform that we had unrealistic expectations going into it.  Ideals are the only way that anything gets formulated and brought to the floor.  

Change will come to Washington, but the pace is not proportional to our anticipation of it.  We live in a lightning-quick, impulsive, short-attention span world fed by media but this is absolutely nothing like the world in which our elected representatives dwell.  Most people I know find C-SPAN to be an effective anti-insomnia cure and not edge-of-one’s-seat entertainment.  One of my friends chose to study international politics rather than American politics because in other countries, one was apt to see scenes of excitement and upheaval on a frequent basis:  coup d’etats, violence in the streets, huge rallies, transparent espionage, and moments of high drama.  In recent memory, with the notable exception of the 1960’s, one rarely observes such things here, and even then the unrest didn’t reach the fevered pitch of say, the Prague Spring.  By contrast, we are indebted to the example of our English forebearers whose one and only revolution produced a short-term attempt at Parliamentary democracy, an equally short-lived de facto military dictatorship, and then a prompt re-establishment of the monarchy, albeit with a few democratic concessions granted to English citizens.  Our own revolution did not, quite unlike the French, take on a radical component that attempted to sweep aside almost all established conventions in the process.                  

Some are quick to pronounce Americans as either center-right or center-left, but I think center by itself would suffice.  Most people, if asked, would probably identify themselves as moderate.  We are a centrist nation, by in large, and one which looks upon both unabashed liberal strains and conservative strains with a great degree of suspicion.  Our fear of radicalism and/or reactionary elements is hardwired into our DNA.  Most Americans are not inclined to march in the streets or to take on activist roles.  Being left alone to their own devices might be the attitude of a vast majority.  Regarding health care, what will probably be signed into law will be a slightly left-leaning proposal that contains concessionary measures to moderates while preserving a few key demands of liberals.  Love it or hate it, this is just how Democracy functions within a pluralistic society.  When Mussolini took control of Italy as a dictator, the saying goes, the trains ran on time like never before, but then again, the barrel of a gun has a persuasive power that an attack ad never does.    

Lest one think otherwise, I don’t want to seem as though I’m happy with accepting crumbs when promised a lavish dinner.  Certain elements of the House bill really trouble me, particularly the anti-abortion amendment tacked onto it as a means of placating anti-choice legislators.  Still, the place for changing minds and disseminating ideological stances is ours, not theirs.  The role of the politician is, as stated, to best represent the beliefs of his/her constituency.  If our stated duty is enlightening and educating the ignorant, then we might take this huge flap over health care as a reference point of where we need to allocate our resources and the strategies we propose to use to accomplish it.  We are not immune to the need for reform, either, and though we might make a living off of rocking other peoples’ boats, we need someone to rock our own every so often, too.    

Gov. Sanford And Ideological Glare-Blindness

There are times for ideological fights, this the Dog believes with his entire heart. The issue is when to pick these fights. There is an argument that it is the best time when things are in crisis. The thinking on this, such as it is, is that when things are bad you need to be most correct in your actions. Of course this is what we are seeing from the Republican Party in general right now, and from anti-stimulus Governors in particular. It is also a complete fallacy. In times of crisis you need to have already decided the plan of action and act on it. If you are wise you will have planed and thought and argued prior to the crisis, but that is a rare trait in the America of the early 21st Century.  

Our Long National Nightmare is Over…and now…

Tuesday night we were all fixated to the polls. We all cried (or at least I know I did – it was John Lewis that broke my dam on that front). I even cried yesterday, and I wasn’t the only one. Here in Blue Connecticut there were many tear stained faces, many relieved looks, even a pervasive, genuine happiness.

I bought the paper with Obama’s picture on it and the caption, “Mr. President” at the grocery store. The young woman ringing me up said, “I’m really glad he won yesterday.”

Obama’s remade the electoral map. Now it is time for us to remake our ideological maps – or specifically, I would advocate, completely rip those maps into shreds and start over.

CATO libertarians say energy deregulation does not work

In an Op-Ed that was published in the Wall Street Journal last month (and is available in full to non-subscribers on CATO’s website) two CATO economists specialised in deregulation and energy markets provide a breath of fresh air in the debates on energy.

Their point is to criticize the poorly thought out deregulation in various US States over the past 15 years, and they explain clearly how energy markets work (something which is rare enough in the mainstream media), and what the consequences of various bits of deregulation are on market behavior and thus on electricity prices.

Their conclusions are so unexpected that other libertarians felt compelled to criticize them violently (and the authors felt the need to defend their libertarian credentials… Follow me below the fold for the gory details.