Saturday, June 30, 2007

Cheerful Servant of the Wealthy Criminal Class

More from The Clothes Have No Emperor:

"The President and Cap sit around and talk about how workfare got surfers off the beach in California. They have no concept of what is going on."
--Unnamed aide on President Reagan's failure to comprehend the seriousness of the recession.

President Reagan tells reporters about "the ten commandments of Nikolai Lenin...the guiding principles of communism," among them "that promises are like pie crust, made to be broken." Soviet scholars claim that no such commandments exist, and point out that Lenin's name was Vladimir.

"For the last 30 years he's been in a dream world....I think he actually believes hat giving more to rich people will make them work harder, whereas the only way to make poor people work is to tax their unemployment benefits."
-NAACP executive director Benjamin Hooks, unimpressed by President Reagan's understanding of the underclass.

Having traveled to a Boston bar to show solidarity with the working class, President Reagan dismays his handlers by instead urging the abolition of the corporate income tax.

"Has anyone stopped to consider that the best way to balance the federal budget is not by taxing people into the poorhouse and it's not by cutting spending to the bone, but by all of us simply trying to live up to the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule?"
-President Reagan to a convention of religious broadcasters

The Reagan Administration Talks About The Economy:

"The number of people remaining in poverty is very small and it grows smaller every day."
--Domestic advisor Martin Anderson

"An increase in the number of people seekign work who didn't find it."
--Larry Speakes on the cause of unemployment

"Just remember, for every person who is out of work, there are nine of us with jobs."
--President Reagan on the 10% unemployment rate

Say Watt? I Cunt Hear You! I've An Ear Infucktion!

More Watt from The Clothes Have No Emperor:

"If you want an example of the failures of socialism, don't go to Russia. Come to America, and see the American Indian reservations."
--James Watt failing to endear himself to Native Americans

In an interview with Business Week, James Watt compares environmentalists to Nazis. 'Look what happened to Germany in the 1930s," he says. "The dignity of man was subordinated to the powers of Nazism....Those are the forces that this can evolve into."
Observes Wilderness Society chairman Gaylord Nelson, "I think the secretary has gone bonkers."

Mother of All Wingnuts

Three quotes Paul Slansky attributes to Phyllis Schlafly:

Sexual harassment on the job is not a problem for virtuous women, except in the rarest of cases. Men hardly ever ask sexual favors of women from whom the certain answer is no.

[The atomic bomb is] a marvelous gift that was given to our country by a wise God.

Sex education is the principle cause of teen pregnancy.

It's Okay If You Say It About Arabs...

The Clothes Have No Emperor, pg 53:

During a White House meeting with Arab leaders, President Reagan turns to the Lebanese foriegn minister. "You know," he says, "your nose looks just like Danny Thomas's." The Arabs exchange nervous glances.

Blaming The Victims

The Clothes Have No Emperor, pg 51:

President Reagan suggests -- and not, by any means, for the first time -- that since he sees big help-wanted sections in the Sunday papers, unemployment must be caused by a lot of lazy people who'd just rather not work.

The Self-Pity of Cubs Fans

One day I'll write a post on the depravity of Cubs fans. For now, here's a column from the Post-Dispatch that makes some good points at LaRussa's expense, but also goes where all pro-Cubs columns have gone before, into a narcissistic self-pity...

Suffering succotash: A Cub fan looks at LaGenius
By Bill McClellan

Hello! Hello! Can you hear me down there? This is a Cub fan calling to Cardinal fans! Can you hear me down there?

I completely understand if you haven't had the inclination to look at the standings much this year, but if you want to find the Cubs, just go to the standings, locate the Cardinals and scroll up. But hey, what do standings mean? Sometimes I think baseball ought to be scored like figure skating. Instead of runs, it ought to be based on style points.

A couple of years ago, the Cubs were tied in the ninth inning. The opposing team had the potential winning run on third, and another runner on first. The Cub pitcher threw to first to try to pick the runner off, but the ball hit the runner on the helmet and ricocheted into the stands. The runner on third was awarded home. The Cubs lost. But isn't a play like that worth something? Aren't some losses more imaginative than others?

Of course, with the Cubs there has always been a metaphysical element, a religious element. Cub fans understand the virtue of suffering. When we talk among ourselves, we hardly ever mention wins. It's always about disaster. Were you there the day Lou Brock stole second with the bases loaded? Were you there the day the Cubs made three errors on the same play?

I'm getting the same sense with the current Cardinals. This season is all about suffering. Mostly, though, the suffering belongs to one man, the tortured Tony LaGenius. It's as if he's been bounced from the sports page into the Old Testament. He's Job.

To a casual observer, it might have seemed that the suffering began with that driving under the influence charge in Florida. And sure, that had to be humiliating. But the suffering really began in January, when the baseball writers delivered a huge snub to Mark McGwire. Despite 583 homers, he received only 23.5 percent of the writers' votes for the Hall of Fame.

Asked to comment on that snub, LaGenius said, "It was real obvious that the voters were going to make a statement about that, whether it was Mark or the whole era of baseball."

The "that" the writers were going to make a statement about was steroids.

If baseball anthropologists were checking the DNA of the steroid scandal to seek its source, they would almost certainly find their way to the Oakland A's of the late '80s and early '90s where "clubhouse chemistry" seemed to take on a special meaning. McGwire and Jose Canseco got big in Oakland. Later, of course, Canseco wrote a tell-all book about those days. Among other things, he claimed he and McGwire used to inject each other.

LaGenius, of course, was the manager. When Canseco's book was published, LaGenius attacked Canseco's credibility. He did not want to see the team's accomplishments diminished. But he seemed pretty much alone in his attack. Former pitcher Dave Stewart said, "I could never say Jose is a liar. I don't like his work ethic, and I don't like him as a teammate. But one thing I can't say about him is he's a liar."


LaGenius was also McGwire's biggest supporter, and that support always seemed a little stretched. He used to work out so much, LaGenius would say, as if it that should clear McGwire of suspicion. Actually, working out does not clear a guy. It is the man who works out who would most benefit from steroids. It was as if LaGenius was the smartest man in baseball about everything else and the dumbest about steroids.

That is how LaGenius came into the season, a World Series champion and Hall of Fame credentials for sure, but a man with a cloud over his head. If the writers are going to make a statement about players suspected of using steroids, what will they do about a man suspected of being the Great Enabler?

So LaGenius seemed out of sorts from the beginning. He pouted when sportswriters complained about his decision to leave Chris Duncan out of the opening day lineup. He griped when this newspaper published a story about the long-suffering Cubs, as if such a story would actually motivate the mercenaries who happen to be Cubs at the moment. And now, he'll probably have to make the decision to include Barry Bonds on the All-Star team.

Ouch again. The Great Enabler selects Bonds. Or doesn't. Either way, it will look bad.

If this does turn out to be his last season with the Cardinals, maybe he ought to try to get on with the Cubs. We're all about suffering. He'd fit right in.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Zenith of Rightwing Lysenkoism

The Clothes Have No Emperor, pg 48:

Say Watt?

"I think he's an environmentalist himself, as I think I am."
--President-elect Reagan on his Interior Secretary-designate

"We will mine more, drill more, cut more timber."
--James Watt summarizing his plans

"I never use the words Democrats and Republicans. It's Liberals and Americans."
--James Watt revealing one of his semantic rules

"Maybe we can get Mrs. Reagan to wear a coyote coat."
--James Watt expressing his opinion that coyotes should be killed off

"I speak in black-and-white terms without much gray in my life. I see problems without the complexity that is confusing to a lot of people."
--James Watt explaining that he sees things "in simple terms"

"A left-wing cult dedicated to bringing down the type of government I believe in."
--James Watt describing environmentalists.

"I think Americans now have the best Secretary of the Interior they've ever had."
--James Watt defending his policies on Nightline

Even Ass-slappers Know a Fraud When They See One

From The Clothes Have No Emperor, pg 41:

2/27[1982] The Congressional Budget Office finds that taxpayers earning under $10,000 lost an average of $240 from last year's tax cuts, while those earning over $80,000 gained an average of $15,130.

3/1[1982] Sen. Bob Packwood (R-OR) reveals that President Reagan frequently offers up transparently fictional anecdotes as if they were real. "We've got a $120 billion deficit coming," says Packwood, "and the President says, 'You know, a young man went into a grocery store and he had an orange in one hand and a bottle of vodka in the other, and he paid for the orange with food stamps and he took the change and paid for the vodka. That's what's wrong.' And we just shake our heads."

No, It Was Perfectly Clear

From The Clothes Have No Emperor, pg 38:

The White House announces that President Reagan -- who often wonders why people think he's anti-civil rights -- has signed off on Ed Meese's plan to grant tax-exempt status to South Carolina's Bob Jones University and other schools that practice racial discrimination.

President Reagan explains that there must have been some kind of "misunderstanding" regarding his efforts to grant tax exemptions to segregated schools, since he is "unalterably opposed to racial discrimination in any form."

"Generosity" & Lies

From The Clothes Have No Emperor, pg 36:

12/22[1981] As Christmas approaches, President Reagan authorizes the distribution of 30 million pounds of surplus cheese to the poor. According to a government official, the cheese is well over a year old and has reached "critical inventory situation." Translation: it's moldy.

During a PBS interview, President Reagan -- who has previously noted that elements of FDR's New Deal resembled fascism -- claims that New Deal proponents actually "espoused" fascism. Roosevelt biographer Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., calls this "a gross distortion of history."

Before Gingrich

From The Clothes Have No Emperor, pg 33:

11/23[1981] President Reagan vetoes a stopgap spending bill, thus forcing the federal government -- for the first time in history -- to temporarily shut down. Says House Speaker Tip O'Neill, "He knows less about the budget than any president in my lifetime. He can't even carry on a conversation about the budget. It's an absolute and utter disgrace."


From The Clothes Have No Emperor, pg 33:

11/13[1981] "When I hear people talking about money, it's usually people who don't have any."
--GOP finance chairman Richard DeVos, dismissing charges that reagan economic policies are unfair

"A Trojan Horse"

From The Clothes Have No Emperor, pg 32:

11/10[1981] President Reagan elicits hoots of laughter at his fifth press conference when he says of his constantly feuding aides, "There is no bickering or backstabbing going on. We're a very happy group."

As he leaves, Lesley Stahl holds up a copy of the just-out Atlantic Monthly featuring William Greider's article "The Education of David Stockman," in which the chatty Budget Director:

--Admits, "None of us really understands what's going on with all these numbers"
--Acknowledges that supply-side economics "was always a Trojan horse to bring down the top rate"
--Says of the Reagan tax bill, "Do you realize the greed that came to the forefront? The hogs were really feeding."

Is the President aware of this article? He is not.


From The Clothes Have No Emperor, pg 29:

8/19[1981] At Malcolm Forbes' 62nd birthday party, Henry Kissinger is asked if he's read D. M. Thomas' novel The White Hotel. "I don't read books," he replies. "I write them."

A Public Shitter

From The Clothes Have No Emperor, pg 28:

8/10[1981] Limited public response results in the closing of the Nixon museum. Says manager Peter Mitchell, "If nothing else, it's been a good stopping point for people to use the restroom between L.A. and San Diego."

The Rest of the Story

From The Clothes Have No Emperor, a history of the Reagan era by Paul Slansky:

12/10/1980 Radio commentator Paul Harvey scoffs at the renewed calls for gun control in the wake of John Lennon's murder. "Well, now, wait a minute," he says. "Death has claimed a lot of rock musicians prematurely, and none with guns. Keith Moon and Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix OD'd on drugs, and Elivs Presely and Brian Jones and John Bonham... Plane crashes killed Jim Croce and Otis Redding and Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, Ronnie Van Zant. In fact, Lennon at 40 lived much longer than most of those." So, it turns out that he was really kind of lucky.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Frum & Perle: Twenty-Eight

AETE, pgs 158-160. At last Frum and Perle come to the part where they write the Biggest Lie of all neocon Big Lies: the neoconservatives do what they do out of love of democracy and that, therefore, the conquest of Iraq was meant to spread democracy ( a necessary component of which is self-determination), not to further American power abroad, nor to serve a Republican domestic agenda.

"The world has a clear interest in the spread of democratic values, because stable and free nations do not breed the ideologies of murder. They encourage the peaceful pursuit of a better life." Those words of President Bush, delivered at the American Enterprise Institute on February 26, 2003, have startled and offended Americans and Europeans from across the political spectrum.

Here is Christopher Patten, a former minister in Margaret Thatcher's cabinet, now chancellor of Oxford University: "The argument is too crude. I start to worry about what Robspierre called armed missionaries...democracy at the point of a gun."

And here is Jesse Jackson saying pretty much the same thing from the far left: "President Bush feels divinely 'called' to convert other countries' governments from oppressive regimes to democratically free governments. He is freeing Iraq through 'gunboat diplomacy,' then proposes to govern it with gunpoint democracy."

The right-of-center journalist Robert Kaplan warns: "Democracy, in its early phases, is more likely to lead not to peace, but to demagogic politicians competing with each other over who can be more anti-American and more anti-Semitic."

"The entire idea of an American-led democratic revolution in the Mideast has an air of fantasy about it," agrees left-of-center Professor Paul Starr.

Those who believe that the extremism that pervades contemporary Islamic culture might somehow be connected to the oppressiveness of Middle Eastern politics have been damned as "fanatics," "crazy," and blinded by "hubris."

So who are these madmen who advocate greater democracy for the Middle East? They include the world's leading scholar of Islamic civilization, Bernard Lewis. They include Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense, who as an assistant secretary of state for East Asia in the Reagan administration was the crucial figure in forcing from power two Pacific Rim dictators: Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines in 1985 and Chun Doo Hwan of South Korea in 1986. Both countries are thriving democracies today. (For these and other services to world freedom and the American nation, Wolfowitz was accused of "harboring a 'passionate attachment' to a nation not our own" by commentator Patrick Buchanan.) They include former UN ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, who argued in the 1980s that democracy could come to the war zone of Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras if communism was defeated -- as indeed it was...

Nobody thinks that it will be fast or easy to bring democracy to the Middle East. The democratizers understand the obstacles better than their critics.

The lies here are breathtaking, and in a service to a unifying and obscuring lie so huge it often knocks the truth out of its critics and the lives out of its victims. Jean Kirkpatrick's whole schtick was intellectualizing and codifying the American tendency to prop up or install right-wing dictators. Paul Wolfowitz had nothing to do with democracy's getting a foothold in any country, much less the Philippines or South Korea. The truth of the matter is that the neocons simply wanted a new puppet and revized client-state status for the New Iraq. They wanted the veneer of democracy but the workings of a dictatorship: in short, they wanted to install Chalabi as Iraq's leader. But they knew the old Kirkpatrickian arguments no longer worked. And the experience of the War in the Balkans taught them that they way to get Liberal Hawks on board with their schemes was to dupe such people with the rhetoric of human rights. Paul Wolfowitz kissed Suharto's ass, just as Kirkpatrick kissed the Shah's and Somoza's and Videla's and Pinochet's. These people never gave two shits about human rights or democracy. But "democracy, whiskey, sexy" sells wars; and neocons were always excellent liars. Thus, the Iraq debacle.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Frum & Perle: Twenty-Seven

AETE pgs 150-150: Muslims are Nazis! They are so subhumanly tribalist that they have no concept of an "innocent victim" who is not a fellow Muslim!

[T]his war of ideas is not primarily a war of words. Our words are convincing, not only because the people of the Middle East do not believe what we say, but also because they and we do not agree on the meaning of the words that make up our moral vocabulary. Both Americans and Middle Easterners may agree, for example, that it is wrong to kill innocent human life. But we do not agree on who is and who is not "innocent." It is striking, for example, that for months after 9/11, American spokesmen continued to claim that the terrorist attackers had killed "hundreds" of Muslims, as Secretary of State Colin Powell said in a speech [...] as late as November 2, 2001. Powell must by then have had a pretty fair idea that this claims could not possibly be true. But Powell must also have understood that a terrorist attack whose victims were not Muslim was much less likely to trouble the consciences of the Islamic world.

It is a sad fact of human nature that we are much more sensitive to our own suffering than we are to the suffering of others. As long as Adolf Hitler killed only Jews, Poles, French, and Russians, he remained remarkably popular in Germany. It was only when the war he started brought British and American bombs tumbling down upon their own heads that the Germans began to curse his name.

In the same way, we must abandon the unrealistic idea that we will win over the Muslim Middle East by appealing to their sympathy for the grief and loss we suffered on 9/11. If terrorist atrocities were enough to discredit a cause, the Palestinians would have lost their constituency in the Muslim world decades ago. For many in the Muslim world, the burning towers of the World Trade Center represent a victory, not an atrocity, and the more we remind them of the suffering and pain of 9/11, the higher we raise the reputation of the man who inflicted that suffering and pain upon us.

So Long, Steve

As everyone by now knows, Steve Gilliard passed away. Some of the better tributes are by Jane, Sarah Robinson, Roy, Markos, and Rick Perlstein. Even the New York Times's blog was forced to notice, though of course it was quick, in its bullshit-evenhandedness way, to seize on Sarah Robinson's throw-away line about Steve being not so prescient. On the other side, there are jackasses. But then there are class acts like Dean Barnett.

I myself never met Steve, but we exchanged a couple of e-mails over the years. He was especially helpful with counter-intelligence when I had a stalker problem.

Steve's blogging ...well, he had guts, a backbone, took no bullshit and called it as it saw it. In a just world he would have had a platform in one of the supposedly liberal newsmagazines, but of course the world is not just, and instead those jobs go to mealy-mouthed accomodationists -- precisely the sort of careerist, wrong-headed, suck-ups he would regularly and righteously thrash in his blog:

[Y]ou people, always ceding ground to the GOP make me sick. Either lead, fight or get the hell out the way. And given that the DNC is looking hard at Howard Dean as their next chief, you might want to sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up, as the SEALS say.

And here's a message to Kevin Drum, Big Media Matt and the rest of the Vichy Left:

Stop sucking up to your enemies.

Kevin, we knew you were gutless when you turned on Kos. You ran to jump on his back without pause. Now it's Atrios. I'm sorry they're more successful than you, but you keep running to the right be respectable whenever it serves your purposes. Michael Moore has real guts. You may not like what he says, but he doesn't run from his words. Do you think we're impressed with your straw man support for the Afghan War?
Moore took a stand and didn't flinch. You might learn from his example. Character can be catching.

Besides, you're going after the wrong person. You need to come after me and Kos, who oddly enough, have opposed the folly of Iraq from day one. I'm no scholar, but I can tell the difference between bullshit and fact. I've got two years of posts ridiculing you guys for your folly of supporting our colonial venture in Iraq. So if you want to jump on anyone, this is a good place to start. But since calling either one of us a pacifist would make even Glenn Reynolds laugh, you might want to go after my spelling or my prediction of a Kerry victory. Or the fact that Kos looks like he needs to be carded.

But going after Atrios for calling you on your bullshit is silly. He's not the man making the argument you guys fucked up. Get it right.

One day, you might actually admit that our colonial war in Iraq was futile and a waste of human lives, like most colonial ventures were. Until then, why should we take you seriously?

Matt, associating with Kevin Drum and Peter Beinhart is about as smart as wearing a Yankees cap in Fenway Park. You're a bright guy, but sucking up to the powers that be, or the Beltway Bandits will not get you a career. Drum couldn't wait to turn on Kos when he could make a contrarian point, and he'll jump on you when it suits him.

He certainly had their number. And in taking such a position, Steve Gilliard actually earned the right to say at the same time that Greens were 'ineffectual' and Counterpunchers were 'dilletante elitists'. Such criticisms of the Left were fair from Steve, because he was so damn right about the shit that mattered.

Steve Gillard hated the Yankees. This is more evidence of a moral individual. Of course he also loved the Mets, and while this is usually a moral demerit of serious proportion, for Steve it was all right because he was, like Roy Edroso, so New York that he had to root for a home team. And if you have to, you take the Mets.

He was a gourmand, and I'd frequently catch myself reading his posts on food and drink, charmed and informed from the effort. The Memphian in me would sometimes scoff at his claims that decent barbeque could be found in New York City, but the curious yokel in me would also be enthralled at his descriptions of NYC's ethnic foods and incredible variety of cuisine.

When I strongly disagreed with Steve was when he'd be a bit too apologetic, in my opinion, for the military. Like Billmon, Steve was interested in military history. I suppose the difference between us is that though Steve's family, like mine, contained several veterans, he embraced that heritage while I rebelled against it. I don't know what Steve's homelife was like, but the vets in my family were shattered by war. The man who raised me swore several times that "the only goddamned way the army will get me back is by dragging me by my boots." The same man also spoke contemptuously of his own side's war criminals -- no excuses of fatigue or desperation for him. I absorbed all that, and so never feel pity for soldiers who don't follow the rules. Steve was different, but I think he took his position out of an honest sympathy.

Military history is the province of reactionaries. Yet you never saw in Steve's work the bloodlust and frankly fascist worship of famous butchers that you do in other dabblers' works. Steve never let you forget that he thought war was hell, sometimes necessary but serious serious shit. War is not fun. And so he was among the first and the loudest to point at the many chickenhawk wingnuts whose vicarious thrill at gore and destruction on the filthy wogs was palpable.

If he thought you were wrong, he busted you for it -- liberal or wingnut, it didn't matter.

Steve was a good guy and, as so many have said, a unique voice in the blogosphere. He had his own style, was ten times the moralist and thinker of those who got far more traffic and attention, had the courage and wherewithal to attack not just wingnuts but wingnut-enablers.

It sucks that he's gone and we will be poorer for his absence.

Update: See also this excellent post by the black kittycat over at Thers's place. Steve always knew the 'civility, please' argument was bullshit.