Monday, April 25, 2005

More Helpings From The All-I-Can-Link Buffet

Sorry, I know this sort of post must be getting old by now, but I've been busy and will continue to be busy (finals this weekend & Monday; also, I'll have company here soon) for another, oh, two to possibly three weeks.


Howard Dean understands populism, where Terry McAuliffe only understood technocrat elitism and a Kevin Drum-ish sort of Republican-Lite ideology.

Not much they can do about it:

But it is not clear that the Saudis have as much clout over the oil market as they used to. For one thing, the rise in prices has been driven as much as anything by surging demand from the fast-growing economies of China and India, a trend that is likely only to increase. For another, the Saudis are already pumping oil at rates closer to their maximum sustainable capacity than during previous price spikes, leaving them less leeway to increase the supply on the global market.

In 2002 Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company, said it produced 6.8 million barrels of oil per day. The Saudis are now estimated to produce about 9.5 million barrels a day. Three years ago, the spare capacity available to the Saudis to smooth out price spikes was about three million barrels a day, according to Saudi Aramco. Today it is estimated to be down to about 1.2 million barrels a day.

Thanks, neo-lib nutjobs! Three billion people: that's a bloc you just want to all buy cars and become gluttonous American-style consumers. "Yay, personal freedom!", is the typical response, yet over half of those billions don't have shit in the personal freedom department except, of course, for the "freedom" to covet, and sometimes acquire, Western status symbols. And of course the labor markets go in the tank (which sets off private giggles among the neo-libs) while the energy markets skyrocket. "Success" in Tom Friedman's bizarro world.

Anyway, the Saudis don't have much of a brake anymore. We will never again see gas under 2 dollars a gallon.


So, who was he fucking?


An interesting read on the Thai sex industry. After years of having a doctrinaire laissez-faire attitude to prostitution, I'm revising some of my conclusions. Now, I've come to think that in any society which more or less has a Western economic model, prostitution should be discouraged unless that society has embraced the Welfare State to a Northern European degree. In other words, I can more easily accept prostitution as a legitimate choice for its workers in countries that have a sufficient social safety net. As everyone but libertarian nutjobs knows, the decision to do something or starve is not a choice. Nor is it a choice to either do something and live decently (I mean with regard to food, clothing, shelter) or to do something else and live terribly. One of the most obvious evils of libertarianism is in its debasing of the definition of "choice" and, concomitantly, in its calculated ignorance of the facts of economic coercion. A poor Thai girl fresh out of the rice paddies isn't "choosing" to prostitute herself (even though intra-culturally, in the emic sense, it's not seen as the debasement that Western society considers it to be) anymore than is a poor single mother in the Bronx. Beware the creeps that tell you those "choices" are no different than deciding to drink Coke over Pepsi.

In a better society, prostitution provides a needful service and outlet. But one must insure that the women who provide that service aren't doing it to keep their family from starving, or aren't doing it because they have been denied access (in infrastructure or in $$$) to education which would provide them with genuine alternatives.

It would be nice if the Thai denied sex to those Western fucktards who use them as semen receptacles because, basically, it's cheaper to fuck Thai girls than to pay for a better society at home which would provide the same service.


Ersatz cultural populism from a self-loathing yuppie fucktard.

See also here, where Armando (the Kevin Drum of Kos: where the allegedly liberal Drum lauds the likes of Max Boot, softy Armando thinks Tacitus is honorable) even tears into all-around nitwit John Tierney, who is himself probably.. shall we say, zaftig, as well as a libertarian, and who is now echoing the talking points of NAAFA, an organisation which is built on some decent ideals but is reduced to absurdity by the presence of humorless 500 pounders claiming that they are physically healthy.


Good to hear even though it will give that blathering fatfuck Jonah Goldberg more material to reference if not steal for his dread, ill-written syndicated crapfest.



And just like the vice president, the new pope is a Jurassic archconservative who disdains the "if it feels good do it" culture and the revolutionary trends toward diversity and cultural openness since the 60's.

The two leaders are a match - absolutists who view the world in stark terms of good and evil, eager to prolong a patriarchal society that prohibits gay marriage and slices up pro-choice U.S. Democratic candidates.

The two, from rural, conservative parts of their countries, want to turn back the clock and exorcise New Age silliness. Mr. Cheney wants to dismantle the New Deal and go back to 1937. Pope Benedict XVI wants to dismantle Vatican II and go back to 1397. As a scholar, his specialty was "patristics," the study of the key thinkers in the first eight centuries of the church.

They are both old hands at operating in secrecy and using the levers of power for ideological advantage. They want to enlist Catholics in the conservative cause, turning confession boxes into ballot boxes with the threat that a vote for a liberal Democrat could lead to eternal damnation.

I don't usually care much for Dowd's work, but this was pretty funny and, I think, fairly close to the truth. It may be too early to tell about the new Pope but, yes, by what information is available, he, like Cheney, is a counter-revolutionary, an atavist who wants to roll back progress.


Crypto-fascist. Though a better word which is also synonymous would be Nixonian -- more specific, more visceral considering our milieu, and oh so fucking appropriate considering the details.


It's probably his youth, or he's just forgetful. Yglesias should consider that the religious right has been ecumenical before when it suited their purposes. Contra-Hollywood, in their unending war on culture, the God Party has had no problem overcoming sectarian rifts when their quarry was so "other" (Jews being the exception here: Steve Gilliard is right to some degree that Christian assaults on Hollywood have an anti-semitic origin, though Gilliard overstates the case). But look no further than the case of Salman Rushdie to see how all religious leaders, not just in America but world-wide, did a remarkable job of ecumenical CYA for the Ayatollah's fatwah. Not that they all hate novelists, but that they found common agreement in mutual intolerance of "blasphemy". You can't divide and conquer a coalition of theocrats -- at least, not when they are so energised and adamant. While it's true that many of them hate their "brethren", that hatred pales in comparison to what they feel for secular society.


Probably frivolous, but good on him anyway. I'm very "Jim Morrison" about this; artists selling their songs to corporations should have televisions thrown at them. Mutual promotions like, I dunno, say, U2's ipod commercial I can tolerate, but when someone sells their songs as an exclusive third-party endorsement, well, fuck them. Do they, the whores, consider people who write jingles to be artists? Fuck no; they sneer that such people are merely technicians, and they have a point. But when, say, The Stones sell a song to Microsoft, that's what they've become: jingle-writers.


Like I said, Nixonian. But then even Richard Nixon (admittedly drug-addled at the time) went down to the Lincoln Memorial to argue with the protestors. Bush on the other hand can't even entertain the thought of including the impure at his Nuremburg rallies. Conclusion: Bush is just as nasty and dishonest and concentratedly evil as Nixon was, but is less feisty and, amazingly, even less courageous.


The Revenge of Colin Powell. I don't doubt that Powell must feel poorly about being pushed out, not just from his job but from the adulation of the Republican establishment, so with this in mind I'm more likely to attribute his politicking here to personal grievance. But I also don't doubt that everything he's said about Bolton is true. If I remember right, Mai Lai only earned two short paragraphs in Powell's biography; it's not enough to say that he's not a shit-stirrer, the man is as cold as they come and is likely as any hack to cover up the depravity of his comrades. But I also think of when, not long after Powell became Secretary of State, he admitted that the United States had behaved atrociously in Chile in the 1970s, which is a fucking fact that declassified documents prove and is therefore an unwelcome subject to adminstrations like Bush's which sees so much to admire and to emulate in our past depravity. Powell was told (by Cheney?) to STFU about Chile. Classic rightwing shit: never admit when you've done evil. So anyway, what was I saying? Oh, that Colin Powell isn't that great by any means, but he's still very distinct from Bush's current crew, and that distinction creates a friction that we and the world may finally benefit from.

Greetings From Mexistan. This is so spot-on. Perfect. Exactly right.

Democracy may be all well and good, but Lopez Obrador is just not Bush's kind of guy. As mayor of Mexico City, he's increased public pensions to the elderly and spent heavily on public works and the accompanying job creation. He's criticized the North American Free Trade Agreement as a boon for the corporate sector and a bust for Mexican workers. (As economist Jeff Faux has documented, while productivity in Mexican manufacturing rose 54 percent in the eight years after NAFTA's enactment, real wages actually declined.) He's opposed to Fox's plan to privatize Mexico's state-owned oil and gas industry -- a stance that probably doesn't endear him to the Texas oilmen currently employed as president and vice president of the United States.

Worse yet, Lopez Obrador's populist politics and smarts have made him the most popular political leader in Mexico today. The much touted "free-market" economics of President Fox have done nothing to improve the lives of ordinary Mexicans. Lopez Obrador's victory in next year's election would mark a decisive repudiation of that neo-liberal model. Coming after the elections of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

in Brazil, Nestor Kirchner in Argentina and Hugo Chavez (repeatedly) in Venezuela, it would be one more indication, a huge one, that Latin America has rejected an economics of corporate autonomy, public austerity and no worker rights.

So, democracy in Ukraine? We'll be there. Lebanon? Count on us. Kyrgyzstan? With bells on. Mexico? Where's that? Maybe they should move to Central Asia, change their name to Mexistan and promise to privatize the oil. That's the kind of democracy the Bush guys really like.

I've said it a billion times and once more won't hurt: that any Bushie could claim to be a crusader for democracy is laughable. The hypocrisy is quintessential among the rightwing, but larded into Meyerson's argument is something important, something new for a MSM piece and that is the obvious collusion between Bush's foriegn policy and that of "liberal" free-traders (a.k.a. neo-liberals). This is an important connection to make, because it explains, at least partially, why so many alleged liberals were hawks before the shit hit the fan (as anyone not a fool knew it would) in Iraq. What they, and Bush, want to do is not forcibly export democracy so much as forcibly export their economic ideology. That they want to do this without the legitimate consent of the "importer" makes it evil enough on its own; that they want to do it so surrepticiously is icing on the cake. Remember how we heard that under the "interim" laws of Iraq, what the United States was most insistent upon was privatisation "reforms" and the adoption of such WTA crapola as intellectual property agreements? Recent foreign policy escapades have had nothing to do with a love of democracy or with the well-being of suffering peoples, but everything to do with acquiring resources and globalism. To the extent that Bush's foreign policy is highminded is nil; to the extent that Bush's foreign policy is about principles is only that it exists to further the principle of "free" access to certain natural resources and the principle of forcibly opening new markets to western products. That's why Bill Kristol was full of shit when he said:

KRISTOL: No, I mean not in my case. I'm much more interested in liberty and democracy than I am in
capitalism. Yeah, I was once a social democrat sort of and I? no, look, social democracy is fine, it's about
freedom and democracy. It's not about capitalism.

Too bad that programme is no longer online. I saw it when it was, and believe me when I say that Kristol knew he was serving the interests of evil when he spoke the above lines: his embarrassment was palpable.

If Bush foreign policy wasn't just about a particularly dogmatic and crude sort of capitalism, Bush & Co. wouldn't be trying to thwart democracy in Latin America. It's that simple. When they say freedom and democracy, understand that they mean something else. They're fucking liars serving the interests of corporate thieves.