pscot's Journal - Archives
of right wing money floating around on behalf of any looniness the atavistic, republican brain can conceive. I don't believe they recognize any limits. The Supremes have done more damage to this democracy than any enemy, foreign or domestic, since Appomatox.
It was seen as one of the most distressing effects of climate change ever recorded: polar bears dying of exhaustion after being stranded between melting patches of Arctic sea ice.
But now the government scientist who first warned of the threat to polar bears in a warming Arctic has been suspended and his work put under official investigation for possible scientific misconduct.
Charles Monnett, a wildlife biologist, oversaw much of the scientific work for the government agency that has been examining drilling in the Arctic. He managed about $50m (£30.5m) in research projects.
Some question why Monnett, employed by the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, has been suspended at this moment. The Obama administration has been accused of hounding the scientist so it can open up the fragile region to drilling by Shell and other big oil companies.
"You have to wonder: this is the guy in charge of all the science in the Arctic and he is being suspended just now as an arm of the interior department is getting ready to make its decision on offshore drilling in the Arctic seas," said Jeff Ruch, president of the group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. "This is a cautionary tale with a deeply chilling message for any federal scientist who dares to publish groundbreaking research on conditions in the Arctic."
Professor William Cronon looks at the 40-year conservative effort to transform the country through legislation, culminating in the reactionary policies now being put in place by Republican governors from New Jersey to Arizona. In order to stop these people, we have to know who they are and what they are planning. The tour starts here:
I’ll start by saying–a professorial impulse I just can’t resist–that it’s well worth taking some time to familiarize yourself with the history of the conservative movement in the United States since the 1950s if you haven’t already studied the subject. Whatever you think of its politics, I don’t think there can be any question that the rise of modern conservatism is one of the great turnaround stories in twentieth-century American history. It’s quite a fascinating series of events, in which a deeply marginalized political movement–tainted by widespread public reaction against Senator Joe McCarthy, the John Birch Society, and the massively defeated Barry Goldwater campaign of 1964–managed quite brilliantly to remake itself (and American politics) in the decades that followed.
I provide a brief reading list at the end of this note because many people from other parts of the political spectrum often seem not to take the intellectual roots of American conservatism very seriously. I believe this is a serious mistake. One key insight you should take from this history is that after the Goldwater defeat in 1964, visionary conservative leaders began to build a series of organizations and networks designed to promote their values and construct systematic strategies for sympathetic politicians. Some of these organizations are reasonably well known–for instance, the Heritage Foundation, founded in 1973 by Paul Weyrich, a Racine native and UW-Madison alumnus who also started the Moral Majority and whose importance to the movement is almost impossible to overestimate–but many of these groups remain largely invisible.
That’s why events like the ones we’ve just experienced in Wisconsin can seem to come out of nowhere. Few outside the conservative movement have been paying much attention, and that is ill-advised. (I would, by the way, say the same thing about people on the right who don’t make a serious effort to understand the left in this country.)
It’s also important to understand that events at the state level don’t always originate in the state where they occur. Far from it.
An important partner of ALEC’s, by the way, is the State Policy Network (SPN), which helps coordinate the activities of a wide variety of conservative think tanks operating at the state level throughout the country. See its home page at
Many of the publications of these think tanks are accessible and downloadable from links on the SPN website, which are well worth taking the time to peruse and read. A good starting place is:
Two important SPN members in Wisconsin are the MacIver Institute for Public Policy:
and the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI):
If you want to be a well-informed Wisconsin citizen and don’t know about their work, you’ll probably want to start visiting these sites more regularly. You’ll gain a much better understanding of the underlying ideas that inform recent Republican legislation by doing so.
the Bosses have set up think tanks and taken control of the media. What's happening now is the result of years of planning and propagandizing. They've made a juggernaut and it's rolling over us. The only democratic force still standing against it is Organized Labor. The DLC sold us oput 20 years ago.
We need organization and we need money, and we need both in a hurry. The Democratic process has failed us. We vote for change and nothing changes. If we don't find a way to band together we're going to get flattened.
It's worth repeating:
Either we begin to militantly stand against the coal, oil and natural gas industry or we do not. Either we defy pre-emptive war and occupation or we do not. Either we demand that the criminal class on Wall Street be held accountable for the theft of billions of dollars from small shareholders whose savings for retirement or college were wiped out or we do not. Either we defend basic civil liberties, including habeas corpus and the prosecution of torturers or we do not. Either we turn on liberal institutions, including the Democratic Party, which collaborate with these corporations or we do not. Either we accept that the age of political compromise is dead, that the corporate systems of power are instruments of death that can be fought only by physical acts of resistance or we do not. If the liberal class remains gullible and weak, if it continues to speak to itself and others in meaningless platitudes, it will remain as responsible for our enslavement as those it pompously denounces.
one alone is harmless, meaningless. But they coalesce in dangerous ways. You can watch it happening around here. This place is the mother lode for memes.
since he appointed Summers and Geithner, but I'm starting to feel really uncomfortable with the hate talk that's going around right now, all of which seems to be coming from us white guys. The fact is, we can't elect a Democratic president without the strong support of black voters. And right now, the black community have got to be hearing this talk, some of which is mean as hell, and thinking what the fuck. I will make a prediction: if Mr. Obama is primaried successfully, the nomination will be worthless, because black voters will turn their backs on the Democrats.
What's different is that now they're being led. Limbaugh and Beck and the big-money preachers are getting corporate money to stir up the dumbasses. The goal it to make government impossible and to tie the electorate up in knots while the country's owners scrape all the spare change into one big pile. Avarice and control seem to be their operating principles. They're going to screw the lid down tight if they can. Homeland security knows where you live.
underlying the way this country is managed. The idea that anyone has a right to "run" the place or manipulate the citizenry for ther own ends is pernicious. America is a joint effort or Democracy fails. At present, our elites seem to have abandoned that idea, and are trying hard to convince us that Hobbes was right and that governance is a matter of dog eat dog; a war of all against all. They control the media and through it they promote the idea that greed, aggressive self-interest and deference to authority are the only values that matter. Franklin said the Constitutional Convention had given us a Republic, if we could keep it. It's not clear that we have either the understanding or the will to hang onto what we 've got. That house fire in Tennessee is about a lot more than DU. It points to one of the major fault lines spreading across the country beneath our feet.
You have email. Let your local pols hear from you. Other people are most definitely talking to them. Why aren't we? If you aren't mad enough to complain, you aren't mad enough.
I think you're onto something here. Since the collapse, the right has been trying to hang the blame on Freddie and Fannie and their minority lending programs. Of course One United was heavily exposed to both entities, by reason of the communities it served. If they can bring Waters down by this means, it will be seen as a huge justification for the racists on the right. Limbaugh would wet his pants on the air. This is part and parcel with the Sherrod slander. Disgusting shit.
Then they wrote his playbook into law. They've been in the saddle for at least 20 years. We shot the sheepdog and put the fucking wolves in charge.
Tip O'Niell called him an amiable dunce, but he was far worse. He was an angry man filled with poisonous attitudes and a delusional sense of American exceptonalism. He was a snakeoil salesman, who spun a Norman Rockwell fantasy about a return to an American golden age that never existed outside of Hollwood and his own fevered imagination. The country bought it whole. We believed because we wanted to. Reality is hard. Reagan offered an easy way out and we took it. It was a phony offer; bait and switch; a pipe dream. Now we're waking from our 30 year opium stupor to find we've been rolled. Our money's gone, the place is a shambles and we can't quite figure out how we got here.
Major problems like energy independence, environmental decline and climate change were shoved aside. Militarism, empire building and the consolidation of wealth into fewer hands were given top priority. The privatization of gevernment, offshoring of our manufacturing base and the bubble economy were begun under Reagan. We're paying the price now, and and our current leadership has yet to come out of the opium fog. They're still locked into using the mis-shapen, anti-democratic templates created by that disastrous regime. The son-of-a-bitch should have been buried face down.
I think Bush and the teabaggers represent two aspects of Reaganism, which seems to have split. Shrub's agenda was mainly corporate and militaristic. Big government and high debt levels were ok as long as big business got theirs. I don't think he even cared much about the country. Bush wasn't a deep dyed jingo, except in so far as jingoism was an effective tool to manipulate public opinion. The Bush family are internationalists. They may pay lip service to the idea of America, but they don't much care what happens to Americans, other than their business friends. The teabaggers, on the other hand, are an outgrowth of the Reaganite social agenda, which revolves around god, guns, gays and taxes. The two sides have always been fundamentally at odds, and are drifting apart. It's a tectonic shift within the Republican party, and the GOP leadership is in danger of falling between the moving plates. The business wing of the party is not opposed to big government, as long as it lets business be business. They are perfectly content with a kind of corporate socialism such as Mussolini envisioned, that keeps feeding tax dollars into their insatiable maw. Both the Republicans and the DLC wing of the Democrats seem to be working toward that end. The teabaggers haven't tumbled to this yet. They're mad at the bankers, who are sort of a traditional populist whipping boy, but they haven't yet made the connection between corporate domination of the government and their own problems. The Republicans are torn between their corporate sponsors and the outraged populism of their voters. They'd love to fan the rage, but they can't afford to have their supporters breaking the windows down at corporate headquarters. The teabaggers are essentially leaderless right now, but they're ripe to be picked up by some demagogue and fashioned into a blunt instrument. Palin is too dumb to grasp what's happening. Beck is making noises in that direction, but he doesn't have the huevos for the job. If the recovery takes hold this all may die down for a while, but the troubles in the economy aren't over by a long shot and the issues driving the teabaggers aren't going to go away. We do live in interesting times.
This was posted over at TPM by Dan K. I liked it so much that I'm posting it in full.
Some of the political labeling that is going on here is very crude and simplistic. Personally, I haven't called myself a "liberal" in over 20 years, and no longer feel very close to the traditions that define modern American liberalism in either the foreign policy or domestic policy sphere. I am turned off by the politics of identity and personal liberation that that mostly characterizes liberalism, as well as by the frequent and futile invocations of - seemingly natural - "rights".
Nevertheless, I am a certain kind of radical democratic egalitarian, who favors a restructuring of the American social, legal and economic order on more communitarian and rigorously egalitarian lines. Some might choose to call it a form of socialism. I am attracted by politics that emphasizes work, solidarity, renewed social comradeship, collective effort and organized public investment in large products serving long-term national goals. I despise the aimless and debilitating hedonism, materialism and commercialism of American popular culture.
I also favor a dismantling of most of the imperial national security behemoth that was fashioned in the aftermath of the Second World War, and whose rusty, authoritarian and sluggish hull is still beloved by the military and militarists, and by the professionals who have been trained by our top educational institutions to serve aboard that behemoth, including the "National Greatness Liberals" and aggressive interventionists like Will Marshall, Ivo Daalder, Susan Rice and others who regrettably comprise much of the foreign policy brain trust of the Obama administration.
I personally believe that old postwar order is dying, but that the established pros don't get it yet, and will in indeed probably be the last to get the message. I had hoped that the new leadership of the country would possess the acuteness and historic vision necessary to communicate the new facts of life to the American people, and help engineer a soft and somewhat hopeful landing as we made the necessary transition to a very different kind of nation-state with a different place in the world. Alas it is not to be. Instead this administration seem determined to produce a last tragic flash of grandiosity. Obama thinks it is his calling to be a restorationist figure, who puts the Humpty Dumpty empire of the pre-Bush, post Soviet, triumphalist hey-day back together again. He is mistaking profound historic shifts for mere blips of bad fortune caused by one bad President.
As for purely political developments, my view is that the recent disaffection on the left was no accident. It is the result of a deliberate White House decision to repudiate and humiliate the left, so as to position Obama aggressively toward the center in preparation for 2012. Will it work for him politically in the long run? Who knows.
But if things start to go sour, shouldn't more people start to ask Barack Obama how he managed to piss away the passionate affections, energies and aroused hopes of tens of millions of Americans who were among his strongest backers? Could it be that the current Obama White House is filled with a bunch of unimaginative and clueless hacks, the result of a deeply flawed staffing process in November and December of 2008, people who don't understand the nature of the historic times we are living in, who haven't grasped the profound trauma and reevaluation wrought by the Great Recession, and who don't know how to react to these events?
Obama apparently represents people like Cass Sunstein and Larry Summers who believe that there are only a few dozen Ivy League (and maybe U. of Chicago) professors, and high-level financial titans, with the brains to run the country, and that everybody else needs to be hoodwinked, manipulated and led by the nose. One thing that has surprised me is how averse this administration is to really listening to people, and to building a deep consensus on needed changes before legislating.
I went through my main period of disappointment with the administration during the transition in 2008, so the recent events are no big deal. When I saw the kind of crew he was hiring, and their attachment to the politics of the past, to conventional late 20th-century foreign policy traditions, and 90's-style Third Wayism, I realized then that these weren't going to be my kind of people. I didn't even have the heart to watch the inauguration. Since then, it's been mostly numbness and growing disinterest, with occasional flashes of attention.
I'm sure I'll jump in again from time to time, but I'm getting old, and I have more interesting and important things to do with the balance of my life on this earth than gnash my teeth and fret futilely about the degenerate and decadent politics of the sad last years of the 20th century American empire. I've become fatalistic about the view that the country is incapable of a soft landing I hoped for, and is headed for years of tremendous strife, frustration, crises, war and social discord. I'm looking for other ways to experience value, love and beauty during the debacles to come.
So, I'm out of ideas for "moving forward" - at least where we are talking about the direction that looks like forward to me. For now, I give up. I'm clueless. My advice to everyone else? Well one key lesson I have learned in the business world is this: the squeaky wheel gets the grease! Stand up for your own needs and desires, and the right to have them heard and counted. Don't be duped into thinking you should always be the one who has to give. Because when you give, you often don't find someone giving back in return. Instead someone else takes, and picks up the initiative and advantage you have dropped.
By the way, it turns out I actually went to college with that fool Brown. I saw his familiar-looking mug on TV this morning, and made the connection. We graduated from Tufts together in 1981. Didn't know him though. I didn't know any of the guys on the basketball team. I remember that he was a good long-range shooter nicknamed, predictably, "Downtown Scotty Brown."
Posted by Dan K
January 18, 2010 2:21 AM | Reply | Permalink
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