Saturday, December 11, 2010

More On Bernie Sanders

So, he has a web page with video casts, here's one, and comments.  Unlike many Conservatives who either do not have or robustly censor their comments, Sanders lets freedom ring, which -- in this case -- means that a lot of the comments are Ayn Randian and Austrian in tone; this makes for a odd dissonance.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Economic Problem in a Nutshell

Fred Clark on the arithmetic of mass lay offs:
The most recent figures, if you want to be precise: 14.2 million looking for work; 3.4 million job openings. That means 10.8 million Americans right now, today, are royally, epically screwed.
That means it wouldn't matter if every unemployed American followed all the advice for what job-seekers are supposed to do. If every single one of them keeps a positive attitude while still being willing to settle for less, if each and every one of them takes classes and volunteers to keep their skills sharp, if each and every one networks furiously, gets up every morning, showers, shaves and gets dressed for the office before sending out dozens of perfect, enticingly crafted résumés all day, every day, then 10.8 million of them will still not find jobs because there are 10.8 million fewer jobs than there are job seekers.

Representing Interests

One of the points Bernie Sanders is making is that far too much of what the Congress does takes from lower and middle class Americans and gives to the wealthiest among us and that the taxes code is skewed in favor of the rich and the Republicans are making things worse for the vast majority of America.  Jonah Goldberg, in his reliable wrong way, insists that one support for the middle class isn't socialism, as he understands it -- which is a round about way of saying he hasn't got a clue of what Sanders' Democratic Socialism is,  and two, following Burke, that legislators owe us their judgment.

In terms of two,  Sanders' correct judgment is that the current system is screwing working and middle class Americans, that is the vast majority of Americans, and legislating in the interests of a wealthy and powerful minority and the American congress needs to stop doing this.  Instead of making a coherent, let alone intelligent, argument about how this position is wrong, hint: it's not, Goldberg makes a series of non-sequitors that serve to illuminate his inability to understand an argument.

After nearly 30 years of neo-Liberals like Goldberg and Yglesisas, and the rest ruining this country you would think that at the very least they would be able to make a coherent argument in favor of the policies that have crippled America.


Bernie Sanders is on CSPAN right now complaining intelligently about the tax deal, and he has promised to continue until his boy ranger legs can no longer support him.  He is a great American.

If nothing else Sanders is making in public from a position of some importance the best available arguments against the dominate neo-Liberal consensus that holds that the best way to protect the country and improve the economy requires screwing the vast majority of Americans by following a neo-Liberal path already shown to lead off a cliff.

Blaming Obama

The tax deal is appalling and shouldn't be passed as negotiated.  It's not appalling because Obama is a wretched human being; it's appalling because it is bad policy.  Gitmo's continuation is equally appalling.  But it isn't Obama who is responsible.  So while I agree that
[i]t is morally wrong to support a president who keeps open GITMO, escalates wars and begins new ones, gives taxpayers' monies to bail out banks, lowers workers' pay, and cuts taxes for the rich when the poor are desperate.
I disagree that Obama is responsible for all that stuff as he is one actor among many.  He is wrong about the taxes and wrong about the wage freeze but right about extending unemployment and right to try and stop GITMO over Congressional objections, right about DADT, the banks are paying back the money and propping up GM and Chrysler was the right thing to do, the health care reform is a good first step, and so on. If you were right all the time you'd be god or me.

Another Article I Never Finished Reading

The opening paragraph:
On August 8, 1897, Michele Angiolillo, an Italian anarchist, shot Antonio Cánovas del Castillo, the Prime Minister of Spain. Cánovas had dominated Spanish politics for decades, even during periods when he was nominally out of office, helping shore up Spain’s tottering monarchy and its possession of Cuba and the Philippines through torture and wide-scale military repression. Spanish imperialism in the Americas died with him: Cuba and the Philippines soon drifted out of Spain’s sphere of control and into that of the United States. A bullet from an anarchist’s pistol had changed global politics.
In the first instance, Canovas's policies had already failed before his death and, what is more, even had he lived Spain was in no position to retain its empire.  More importantly neither Cuba nor the Philippines "drifted" into the growing American empire.  Cuba was winning its long struggle for independence from Spanish rule when the USA stepped in. Initially, we went to aide our friends to the south in the brave struggle for liberty until imperialists realized that we could win Cuba for America at which point the Cubans went from brave liberty strugglers to inept racial inferiors who need our help in gaining and maintaining their freedom and liberty.  It really is a sordid little tale, much like the violent takeover and occupation of the Philippines. 

If you cannot face fairly and squarely the US's use of violence to create an empire why should I think you can get the ins and outs of anarchism right?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Nailing Wikileaks

In a long essay, Charli Carpenter revisits Julian Assange and continues to find her kid's argument the better.  She is, I thought, wrong about the insight of her wise child, full of grace though it undoubtedly is. One of her current complaints about Assange is equally wrong-headed. Building on others' essay about what Assange thinks, as opposed to reading Assange himself, she argues that Assange is not consistent in his arguments for transparency and at different times deploys different justifications that fall into three main categories: information wants to be free, transparency will lead to reform, and rendering states and governments so paranoid that they cannot continue to function.  I am not sure why this is a problem as none, as far as I can tell  and she doesn't show that they are, are contradictory.  It is not clear why offering three effective justifications for an action is problematic.

She also notes that states and governments can function secretively and yet effectively because it is difficult to prosecute for genocide. Guess what?  It is difficult to prosecute for lots of things and the difficulty of one of the more difficult is not an argument against what Assange is doing.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


This wordless graphic novel, which is a kind of odd novel in as much as it has no words, is well worth viewing.


No, You're Wrong, You're Very Wrong

Matt Yglesias quotes Matt Taibbi on fake left-wing pundits:
[t]his career path is so well-worn in our business, it’s like a Great Silk Road of pseudoleft punditry. First step: graduate Harvard or Columbia, buy some clothes at Urban Outfitters, shore up your socially liberal cred by marching in a gay rights rally or something, then get a job at some place like the American Prospect. Then once you’re in, spend a few years writing wonky editorials gently chiding Jane Fonda liberals for failing to grasp the obvious wisdom of the WTC or whatever Bob Rubin/Pete Peterson Foundation deficit-reduction horseshit the Democratic Party chiefs happen to be pimping at the time. Once you’ve got that down, you just sit tight and wait for the New York Times or the Washington Post to call. It won’t be long.
And then insists that although he
think[s] it’s safe to say that Taibbi is somewhat to the left of the TAP alumni of the world it seems to me that a hypothetical universe in which Bob Kuttner, Harold Meyerson, Josh Marshall, Jons Cohn & Chait, Ezra Klein, Dana Goldstein, and myself dominated the public debate would be one that’s considerably more congenial to Taibbi’s policy preferences than is the actual world.
Not really and not really the point.  Yglesiasis a neo-Liberal who consistently trumpets market-based solutions for non-market-based problems.  He is at home with the current obsession of discussing any policy in terms of trite economic phrases and inapt economic concepts.  The rest of the list, I don't know so well, although I Marshall's recent bloviation about how Lady GaGa could get a cease and desist order where the Department of State can't and consistent over-estimation of Palin's and Bachman's political importance suggest that he needs to think a little harder about his pundicratic priorities.

If It's Not a Problem, Why Do You Keep Hitting It?

If Assange and Co's release of the trove of secret documents offered little new information and painted a positive picture of our diplomatic professionals how come everyone is moving heaven and earth to stop Wikileaks funding and arrest Assange for "sex by surprise"? It couldn't be that there is more available and that the heedlessly heedless Wikileaks is carefully editing the remaining documents so as to redact the innocent and indict the guily, could it?  I mean and after it all, it's not like the Bush Administration lied its way to war and that the Obama Administration is expanding the franchise into, at least, Yemen, could it?