Re: From Nixon to Reagan to Bush, old habits die hard.

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they've used it less for honest-to-god security reasons than for opposition research and good old ratfucking.

I am shocked.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 5:58 AM
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Possibly things are worse than I've Bob and I have been saying. Sorry, guys.

I don't think that there's any limit to what Cheney, Rove, Bush, Addington and the others are capable of.

At this point I believe that the neocons have changed their allegiance from Strauss to Schmitt. The two men shared a contempt for procedural liberalism, and neither recognized any limits to the executive power or to the state power. Neither was properly appreciated by the Nazis.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 6:03 AM
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Man, standards are slipping. When this stuff happened during the Cold War it was quickly hushed up, and we didn't find out about it for years and years, if at all. I think we can put it down to blowback from our recent adventures in southwest Asia -- all the really 733t black-bag operators are out there buggering taxi drivers while the shmoes who are left on the homefront just don't have the experience to carry off an elegant campaign of political intimidation.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 6:08 AM
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I think you're overreacting. This just looks like tough love to me.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 6:11 AM
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Also, I know there are two more names on that story's byline, but I don't have any idea who they are, so.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 6:15 AM
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Quick, someone derail the thread into a debate about apo's misattribution!


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 6:46 AM
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Why is this surprising, at least in Alabama? Once you've decided to depose the governor and treat him as a no-joke political prisoner (complete with a year-long delay in filing a court transcript so he can appeal), breaking into an office ain't no thing.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:00 AM
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Breaking into an office is a chicken wing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:03 AM
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Wow, a controlled experiment. Will today's America take any notice of the same crime that led to Nixon's resignation?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:09 AM
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2:I hot Philosophy's Other last niight. Learned who Certeau was;Logical Empiricism, Zizek's new outrage, Modernism, great stuff

Telos archives are now online. The latest issue.

Culture & Politics in Carl Schmitt

It was late, so I could only skim the article connecting Carl Schmitt to Hannah Arendt. Maybe I'll study the article(s), look at my Origins and Human Condition, and get back to ya about procedural liberalism. Probably not.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:14 AM
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Prediction: In twenty years' time, when we're living under the Jenna Bush administration, and the strongest and fiercest among the current verminous nest of College Republicans have graduated to running the party, we'll all look back with nostalgia on the good old days when they mostly limited themselves to burgling political enemies' offices instead of just shooting them in the head and throwing the bodies in the river.


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:17 AM
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Will today's America take any notice of the same crime that led to Nixon's resignation?

No. (brought to you by SATSQ Inc.)


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:19 AM
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I should explain that I don't think today's Americans are any less ethical than their parents; only most of them will never hear about it.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:20 AM
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11: you can't just say something true and expect it to be funny, felix.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:21 AM
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For those who need convincing, Bob is a smart guy who brings a lot to the table.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:21 AM
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I just really really hope that we can maybe at some point get even the merest inkling of how wide and deep this goes.

I do hold out some small bit of hope for that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:22 AM
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11: "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, JP Stormcrow was to remember that distant morning when apo slighted Lindsay's co-authors on Unfogged."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:23 AM
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Looking back, the thing that most surprised me, and was contrary to what I would have thought at the time, was that Watergate frightened the Establishment media, and made them collectively determined not to go through it again. This came out at the time of Iran-Contra: I've seen the sentiment that the country couldn't handle it attributed to Dan Rather, inter alia. I would have thought they relished such drama and import.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:26 AM
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17. A+


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:27 AM
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apo's misattribution

*Partial* attribution! I'm sure Ms. Alexandrovna and Ms. Kane are lovely people and more-than-capable journalists.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:28 AM
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12: Rhetorical question.

18: Speaking though I am as someone who was a toddler during Iran-Contra, that makes a lot of sense. (Of course, the country can easily "handle" interminable scandals about a Democratic president.)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:31 AM
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21.2: Democratic scandals don't result in reporters being threatened by DOJ thugs. "The country can't handle it", my ass. Dan Rather can't handle it. Shit, look at what they got the guy fired over.

The state's security apparatus: a better partisan tool than the press any day of the week.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:34 AM
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Also, the links at the bottom of that story that lead to the previous installments in the series are worth your time, too, and help provide some context to this story. It only gets worse.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:35 AM
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They look pretty good. Less so when they're floating downstream with a bullet in their heads


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:35 AM
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Will today's America take any notice of the same crime that led to Nixon's resignation?

I remember the good old days when one could plausibly argue that Nixon was worse than Bush.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:40 AM
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18: I think that Katherine Graham had a change of heart. I suspect someone got to her -- either in a friendly, persuasive way, or in a more threatening way. She certainly was an establishmentarian at heart. (As I remember, her rise to the top at the Post was initially rather fortuitous -- she wasn't someone who'd planned to become the boss. )

I read a story once about a woman named Beck who was a power on the editorial board. She only occasionally wrote columns, but when she did they always explained that people should be "thoughtful" about what Reagan was doing, which meant that people shouldn't attack him too hard. I remember disliking them at the time, and only later found out that she was a behind-the-scenes power sending dog-whistle messages. Several anti-Reagan columnists disappeared from the editorial pages at the Post and the Times -- Nicholas Von Hoffman, and Garry Wills come to mind.

On Sept. 10, 2001 Newsweek published an immediately-forgotten story about the 2000 Florida Supreme Court Decision. Kennedy voted with the majority because he felt that "the country couldn't handle" a controversy. In context, he was rewarding the Republican thugs who were making wild statements and disrupting the vote count every way they could. (McManus 1, Procedural Liberalism 0).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:48 AM
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What will the generation of Republicans who come to power eight years after the scandal-plagued collapse of the Jenna Bush administration be like? I can see them graduating from mob tactics to actual supervillainy, holding whole cities of their enemies to ransom with poison gas or orbital deathrays. Or they may go the other way and devolve into pale speechless molerat hordes tearing at their enemies with nails and teeth, like the monsters in I Am Legend. Hard to predict with any certainty that far out.


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:48 AM
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Sounds like you've already got a draft, Felix.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:50 AM
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Kennedy voted with the majority because he felt that "the country couldn't handle" a controversy.

Alternatively, he picked his own side.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:50 AM
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9, 25: Yeah, really. It's got to the point where a controlled experiment could only show us something very perverse. Suppose the same crime as Nixon leads to more or less the same punishment. Then breaking and entering would have been dealt with more severely than starting a war of choice, encouraging torture, circumventing the Fourth Amendment...

Although I guess I can almost kinda see logic there. Breaking


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:54 AM
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With all due respect for her journalistic skills, Larisa has quite a look about her too. So does Lindsay, actually.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:54 AM
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Souter claims that he almost had Kennedy persuaded.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:58 AM
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As I remember, her rise to the top at the Post was initially rather fortuitous -- she wasn't someone who'd planned to become the boss.

It was her father's paper, but her husband, who had been given control of the company, first left her for another woman (a reporter, IIRC), then had a series of depressive episodes that led to him being briefly committed and then committing suicide. Kay Graham was very much not planning on becoming the boss; her biography is actually very good reading on this. But yes, her background was as establishmentarian as it comes -- I believe her father turned over the reins of the Post to her husband to become a high-ranking official with the IMF.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:58 AM
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Although I guess I can almost kinda see logic there. Breaking

Shit! They disappeared Cyrus!


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 7:59 AM
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Damn. DOwn to the pound to et a new Cyrus. It's a mistake to get attached to a pet.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 8:01 AM
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26.c - Really, Gary Wills had a column with the Post? Huh, I thought he was exclusively a magazine writer. (I appreciated Nixon Agonistes as a historical artifact, but I didn't actually like it that much.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 8:01 AM
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It was her father's paper, but her husband, who had been given control of the company, first left her for another woman (a reporter, IIRC), then had a series of depressive episodes that led to him being briefly committed and then committing suicide.

Committing suicide immediately after offering Hunter S. Thompson a job as a result of a poison-pen letter Thompson sent him. The letter is in The Proud Highway.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 8:02 AM
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good old ratfucking

In my day, it was simply known as the "double-cross."


Posted by: Deep Throat | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 8:04 AM
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Wills was carried as a twice-a-week columnist in many newspapers in the early eighties; I read him in the pre-Murdoch Chicago Sun Times.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 8:05 AM
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So the more major media haven't picked this up because they think we can't handle it? Nope, not buying it. 22 - that they are afraid - I buy, but not that they give much of a damn about whether we're going to be afraid.

Is it that media figures are terrified or that the clubby relationship between government and media keeps them quiet or is it some combination of both, like the nervous, mousy guy in a mobster flick who can't believe his good fortune at getting to hang out with real thugs but finds himself terrified by them, too, so all he does is crack wise and chuckle and twitch?

Also, any predictions on which Bush administration official will write a memoir along the lines of "I knew about the ratfucking and thought it was a bad idea but kept collecting a paycheck!" a la Feith, Kuo, et al?


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 8:07 AM
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While we're on the subject of our slow transition to the government of Radio Free Albemuth, this, although I'm in accord with comment 9 -- if David Vitter can be outed as having gone to a hooker to satisfy his diaper fetish and the matter will immediately be determined to be non-news, there's no point in having the DC Madam killed, even by this nonsensical-conspiracy-novel government we've got. (I mean, seriously -- Dick Cheney's office is secretly working to prevent whale safety rules from being implemented in America's ports? Next we'll discover that John Yoo, Doug Feith, and Exxon teamed up to power America's military installations by harnessing the energy released by torturing puppies.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 8:09 AM
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No. (brought to you by SATSQ Inc.)

What does SATSQ stand for?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 8:11 AM
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I've always been in favor of prosecuting as many Bushies as possible when and if the Democrats take over, and I hope that they have learned from the failure of Bill Clinton's conciliatory policy. But the Siegelman case ups the ante quite a bit. If no one is sent to jail for a good long time, pretty much everyone will have to realize that the democracy game is over. Siegelman is a high level guy, and he was fraudulently jailed with a heavy sentence, and important White House people were almost certainly involved.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 8:13 AM
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So when will Ms. Beyerstein get a knock on her door?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 8:18 AM
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30 continued (I wasn't going to, it didn't seem worth the effort, but since I forgot to delete the lead-up to that I might as well finish it.):

Although I guess I can almost kinda see logic there. Wiretapping and torture are crimes and wrong things to do in the service of the job. They're illegal, morally wrong and ultimately counterproductive, but they're intended to do what presidents are supposed to do, or at least it can be plausibly argued that that's the intent. Breaking and entering, on the other hand, are unequivocally for the benefit of the party. So maybe Americans will forgive a lot as long as there's a fig leaf of justification, but there has to be that fig leaf.

But then I think about David Vitter and Jack Abramoff and Cheney shooting a man in the face while probably drunk and James Calley. (No, the cases are not equivalent.) No, the law really doesn't apply to Republicans.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 8:20 AM
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What does SATSQ stand for?

Short answers to simple questions, or some variation thereof.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 8:21 AM
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One more story that adds to the "Through the Looking Glass" sense of the last 7 years and which makes it hard to even get your head around what is really happening to us. By my conservative count there are at least 5 (somewhat linked) open and shut Watergate-level scandals associated with this administration that have been only tangentially (and mostly deferentially) covered in the press.

1) US Attorney firings, "Permanent Republican Majority", voter suppression, politicization of Justice and other departments. [And so Karl Rove joins the media with nary a peep and writes advice columns to Dem candidates. "You need to respond emotionally to attacks, teardrops melting in snow always make a memorable image"]

2) FISA, wiretapping etc. [and I'm with apo, if they did not use that as a political tool I'll eat my hat, my God, John Bolton used wiretap info to keep tabs on his rivals within the administration.]

3) Lead up to Iraq, WMD, Plame [nothing more needs to be said]

4) Conduct in Iraq, permanent bases, war profiteering, enrichment of political allies, Cunningham, Donovan, Abramoff etc. [One little tidbit, L. Jean Lewis, the partisan RTC investigator who was so instrumental in the early days Whitewater, was named chief of staff of the Defense Department's inspector-general office in 2003 and is probably still there, arrival barely noted in the media.]

5: Tortured logic of torture.

Once more I am reminded of Kung Fu monkey's great post L33T Justice:

I cannot help but think that as Nixon walked to the chopper, somewhere in the darkened hallways of the White House Dick Cheney shook his head, spit, and whispered: "Pussy."

You can imagine the contempt they must have for the media. Even if the mainstream press "wanted" to come clean now, they couldn't, the resulting self-image deficit would be too large to overcome, I don't think we'll get a "Bridge on the River Kwai" moment.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 8:23 AM
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Even if the mainstream press "wanted" to come clean now, they couldn't, the resulting self-image deficit would be too large to overcome

Yah. This is very dangerous. Look at the non-scandal over the NYT story on Bush propagandizing the TV news. The major media have effectively become co-conspirators on a lot of this stuff, and it's going to be very hard for them to shake themselves loose from it.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 8:30 AM
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But the Siegelman case ups the ante quite a bit. If no one is sent to jail for a good long time, pretty much everyone will have to realize that the democracy game is over. Siegelman is a high level guy, and he was fraudulently jailed with a heavy sentence, and important White House people were almost certainly involved.

Sweet, fucking christ, course of human events, don't even make me agree with this. Don't do it, do you hear me? No! Bad course of human events! Bad!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 8:30 AM
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I've always been in favor of prosecuting as many Bushies as possible when and if the Democrats take over

Agreed. As many as possible. Lucky for the Republicans, though, that they've spent 20 of the past 28 years stacking the federal judiciary top to bottom with hacks who will be more than happy to dismiss the cases.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 8:32 AM
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40.2 like the nervous, mousy guy in a mobster flick who can't believe his good fortune at getting to hang out with real thugs but finds himself terrified by them, too, so all he does is crack wise and chuckle and twitch?

I'd agree that this is a pretty good description of the relationship, except that I'm a little afraid to endorse a violation of the analogy ban, 'cuz I'm not really secure in my status here.

40.3 I am actually holding hopes out for Gonzalez of all people. Unemployable, while the white boys all get cushy positions at think tanks, in the media and as lobbyists. Fucking Ashcroft cashing in for millions, doesn't that make your hot spic blood boil Abu? (But probably a sinecure at a place like the Pepperdine Law School where he can't do any real damage is in the future.) Or alternatively, could someone turn Harriet Miers? For the sisterhood?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 8:34 AM
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Also, could somebody throw up a post about the ongoing destruction of our planet -- maybe something about Chinese cities sinking into the Earth because of all the coal mining? Or some kind of adorable cancer vaccine going extinct? -- just so we could have an active thread that wasn't quite so fucking depressing as we have currently?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 8:34 AM
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That is to say, if I thought torches and pitchforks had even the slightest chance of succeeding, it would be that time.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 8:34 AM
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49, 52: Bad course of human events! Bad!

But hey! iPhones! Woot!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 8:36 AM
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Yeah I should say, the only thing I disagree with McManus about is that I think his approach (firing skulls with mortars and paving the streets with blood sausage, or whatever it was) is one of the few options likely to be an even bigger fucking disaster than the alternative of trying really hard to make the fucked up, broken, gone-to-the-dark-side-dint-leave-no-note system workable again.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 8:37 AM
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Or alternatively, could someone turn Harriet Miers? For the sisterhood?

The Sisterhood of the Gaveling Chance.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 8:49 AM
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47: Incomplete without the doctor's "Madness! Madness!"


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 8:51 AM
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43 really is so right. I have no more to add, because it's hard to type while wedged into the back of my closet, rocking, ever so slowly, as I weep over the public execution of civic virtue.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 8:55 AM
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43: pretty much everyone will have to should realize that the democracy game is over, but pretty much no one will.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:01 AM
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I can just see George Will's stiff, condescending columns explaining that prosecuting anyone for anything they did while in office would be nothing less than the fascistic criminalization of policy differences. And that the prosecution of Siegelman was perhaps harsh, but in good faith and well within the law.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:04 AM
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hey, Siegielman is OUT OF JAIL now, guys. the system works! Republicans hold office, Democrats don't hold office, Democrats are too scared to do anything about it, and Republicans don't have to kill them or put them in jail for life! optimal outcomes for everyone. It's not like Siegelman would have been making millions of dollars a year as governor. What does he care?


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:08 AM
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60: And besides, Karl Rove serves up good quail dinner. (That was Broder, not Will, but hivemind an all ...)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:11 AM
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This is why we need a national TV network or wide-circ newspaper, to flog these stories sufficiently to get them everywhere. The net doesn't seem to be enough to break through the mass media noise.

Bush is worse than Nixon, you can see how the antibodies in the body politic have weakened since the 70s.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:12 AM
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That was Broder, not Will

You say tomato, I say fascist enabler.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:13 AM
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you can see how the antibodies in the body politic have weakened since the 70s.

Weakened is being generous. The body politic has so few T cells left, they have pet names for each one.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:14 AM
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65: "dead meat", "target", "dodo" and "lucky".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:18 AM
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Thanks for posting this, I hadn't heard of rawstory. It's depressing to think that my grandparents' tactics for living under a police state will be useful lore to pass on to my kid.

I am also really puzzled as to why politicians don't understand that FISA means that their mobile phone conversations are subject to scrutiny. Are they already compromised? Stupid?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:18 AM
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Bush is worse than Nixon

This seems hard for me to choke down but only because I was raised with an awareness that Nixon was basically the Devil. It seems so incomprehensible to me that it be allowed to happen again or that it be covered up or that there isn't a major-media reporter somewhere who wants to be remembered forever or make their career or whatever by exposing the Bush administration's Nixon remix. It seems weirdly self-aggrandizing to think that he's worse but only we (for some value of "we") know or have noticed this. I'm not saying that anything described or discussed is OK - I believe quite the opposite - but that episode of American history was portrayed, to me, as so balls-out crazy that it's difficult for me to remember that it happened to real people who allowed it to happen or weren't aware.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:18 AM
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Iran Contra was the turning point. It was a stare-down, and the good guys flinched. Bush the First was actually an Iran-Contra bad who got away (Google: Walsh report chapter 28), though I do not remember that his own administration was especially lawless. But Bush the Second hired a lot of the Iran Contra people and also, I think, a few of the Watergate people.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:18 AM
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69: I think Watergate was really what motivated them, though; they damn well weren't going to let that happen again. Watergate is also where they first devised a lot of the arguments they refined over the thirty years since. I would argue that Iran Contra was the first outing -- a relative walk in the park -- and the past 8 years are where they've really had the motor hummin' and have gunned past even any nominal limits on their behavior.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:22 AM
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The thing is, the public sort of gets it, in the sense that Bush's approval ratings are right down there where Nixon's were when he was impeached. It's just that there's this kind of conspiratorial hammerlock on the justice system by the right wing. With as Emerson says, some cooperation from the establishment media.

But the key is less the media, messed up as it is, then the lock on the justice system. The Dem Congress has seemed to be too scared or bought off to take aggressive action to break this (although they are holding up a bunch of judicial nominations till after the next election, which is good). For all its faults, the media did eventually reveal what an ongoing clusterfuck the Iraq war was. We're not at soft fascism yet, although its scarily more in view than it was a while ago.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:28 AM
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70: John Mitchell in 1970: "This country is going so far to the right, you are not even going to recognize it."

They just hit a few hiccups along the way.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:28 AM
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I think Watergate was really what motivated them

Fine, but why? Paybacks? Shits and giggles? Primal dominance competition? Ideology? Boredom? Profit? Fear? All of the above? ogged finds it useful to understand why normal people make choices such as approving torture; I don't think they're normal people but I do want to know what drives them.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:29 AM
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the past 8 years are where they've really had the motor hummin' and have gunned past even any nominal limits on their behavior.

The motor started to hum with the impeachment of Clinton (and the special prosecutors for half his Cabinet). The last 8 years showed their ability to completely ignore legal limits when they had power, the 90s showed their ability to use the legal system to destroy their enemies even when they did not ostensibly have power.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:30 AM
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71: yes, when I compare Watergate era to now the two items that stand out as quite different are the Judiciary and the media. In many respects the electorate are more "liberal" than then (certainly on social issues), although more heavily anesthetized by advertising and marketing.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:31 AM
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53,55:One of the Econblogs compared the US economy to an inverted pryramid teetering on the edge of a precipice. The idea was that, like Polk in last night's thread, somewhere around 80% of the population is a layoff or emergency away from at least the perception of panic & poverty.

If I joke about Obamafascism, I am not saying this would be Obama's enthusiastic choice. I fucking guarantee conditions will force the next President to do stuff s/he believes unacceptable/inconcievable.

At least half the time Revolution isn't a choice. The necessary conditions can be accelerated, but history has to help. I think the biggest mistake made is underestimating the ambition and cruelty of our opponents, and not matching their ambition at least in grassroots-level rhetoric.

Krugman, bless him, in 2002 used the word "Revolutionary", opposed it to "Reform" and flatout predicted social upheaval and violence as an intended inevitable consequence of Bush policies. He was serious. They want to kill the entitlements, or slowbleed them into irrelevance, and they will do whatever it takes.

Hey. Welcome to Weimerica. You want to skip the Revolution? Emigrate.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:33 AM
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I'd say we're not at hard fascism yet. Soft fascism, pretty much.

Yesterday I mentioned that newspeople sometimes openly admit that while they never will directly say that an official Administration statement is factually inaccurate, they try as much as possible to put enough information somewhere in the story to make it possible for the discerning reader to figure out the truth. They say this in their own defense, as though this is the way things should be.

Tangentially related, Putin seems to be approaching hard faction. Bush looked into his soul and saw that it was good, as we know. It's odd that people noticed the silliness of Bush's statement without picking up on the sinister aspect.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:34 AM
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It was a stare-down, and the good guys flinched.

I think the problem was that the public didn't care that much, and the public didn't care that much because it liked Reagan. So Clinton gets impeached, but not convicted, and enjoys high favorable ratings. I think that the one thing politicians fear most is another politician who is much more well liked by the public.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:35 AM
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Emigrate.

not a crazy idea.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:35 AM
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I've always been in favor of prosecuting as many Bushies as possible when and if the Democrats take over

This is the liberal's precious dream. We cling to it even as impeachment has been declared an impossibility by the only people who can bring these thugs to justice, and when the criminals float away on a magic carpet of pardons next January on their way to lucrative careers in consulting, public speaking and commenting on NPR, we'll stoke a last little bit of anger, die a little, and congratulate ourselves on having gotten through it all. Patsies.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:36 AM
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the two items that stand out as quite different are the Judiciary and the media

The Republican Party has changed pretty radically as well. The Nixon criminal element was, at the time, something of a vanguard in a party that still had members with a modicum of shame. Now, the Nixonites typify the entire national party.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:39 AM
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80: yup. No prosecutions.

I do find it useful (depressing? encouraging? not sure, but useful) to remember how much of American history has been "soft fascism" by the definition of those here. Essentially from the 1890s to the late 1960s America was in many ways an authoritarian state by many of our definitions. The WWI treason prosecutions, the Palmer raids, unlimited domestic surveillance by the FBI, and so on. Not to mention legalized apartheid in the south. What's changed now vs. then is not the level of repression (which is still probably less), but the confidence in a progressive Whiggish drift to history. The left believed it had arrived at some acceptable level of institutional reform by the late 70s, now that's been rolled back and no one seems to care. The stone has rolled somewhat down the mountain and one is confronted with trying to march it back up again, perhaps over decades.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:41 AM
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I mean, when John friggin' Ashcroft looks like the conscience of the GOP, something has gone terribly, terribly wrong.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:41 AM
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Fine, but why? Paybacks? Shits and giggles? Primal dominance competition? Ideology? Boredom? Profit? Fear? All of the above?

Well, because they thought the things Nixon did during Watergate were perfectly appropriate; a hard-right, autocratic, conservative executive -- you know, somebody like Pinochet -- is pretty much how they imagine the ideal government functioning, and if a little bit of skulldudgery is what it takes to get there, then by God no need to make a federal case out of it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:43 AM
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Reagan wasn't as popular as people remember, but he had some very determined supporters both within the populace and in influential places. The jellified weakness of the Democrats in Congress was evident during the hearings, though. Someone might have been able to do something with that stuff, but not those guys.

It does relate to the weaknesses of procedural liberalism and formal democracy. A good democratic politician is by temperament, training, and experience incapable of doing what needs to be done in cases like that. You can actually watch people's careers and see the rare individuals who have some backbone when the first show up get gradually ground down and reduced to jelly.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:44 AM
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83: Yes, you're right, ain't no Barry Goldwater around to take the long walk over to the big house and confront them with the truth. (And yes it really is rich that Ashcroft is getting kudos basically for being a little less into the kool-aid and therefor more cognizant of the need to cover your ass even just a little. Call him Corruption Classic®)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:47 AM
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they thought the things Nixon did during Watergate were perfectly appropriate; a hard-right, autocratic, conservative executive -- you know, somebody like Pinochet -- is pretty much how they imagine the ideal government functioning, and if a little bit of skulldudgery is what it takes to get there, then by God no need to make a federal case out of it.

yup, exactly, exactly, right. They think they understand the necessities of wielding and exercising power, and those squeamish procedural liberals can't do what it takes to maintain social order. They're like McManus if he was seriously right wing and had his hands on the levers of power.

The question is whether we can get the bare minimum of this necessary stiffening into the backbone of the Democratic party, without sliding down to the enemy's level. They of course are alert for any sign of this, and scream loudly about corruption whenever they see effective liberals (as in the Clintons in the 90s).


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:48 AM
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effective liberals (as in the Clintons in the 90s).

Am I the only one who gets cognitive dissonance from this sort of statement?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:50 AM
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88: No, unless PGD means "effective liberals" to be synonymous with "neo-liberals." Which, actually, might be a claim of some neo-libs.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:52 AM
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Obama seems to be on the accomodationist Kumbayah side, but on the other hand, as McManus tells us, he's sinister. Maybe he really will be the one to put the pig farm option into effect.

Surprise me, Barack!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:55 AM
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But the key is less the media, messed up as it is, then the lock on the justice system.

I don't see this. It seems to me it starts and ends with the media and the screwed up Democratic Party. (There's a bit of a negative feedback loop between the two.)

The machinery of democracy is all there; the people at the levers are asleep, though. And the judiciary still has a significant amount of integrity too (Seiligman is out of jail, for instance, and the Bushies are doing everything they can to keep the telecoms out of court.)

It seems so incomprehensible to me that it be allowed to happen again or that it be covered up

I don't doubt that a lot is being covered up, but nobody can argue the content of Stormcrow's 47. Krugman is rightly amused at being called, perjoratively, a conspiracy theorist, because most of the stuff he talks about is being done in broad daylight.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:57 AM
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57: 47: Incomplete without the doctor's "Madness! Madness!"

You're right, I had forgotten that part. I was just pleased to find the part they did have. That was one of the first movies I remember seeing and it made an enormous impression on me (at a drive-in movie theater).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 9:58 AM
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90: but on the other hand, as McManus tells us, he's sinister

But per bob's 76, not enthusiastically sinister, so he has that going for him.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 10:01 AM
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I think the problem was that the public didn't care that much

The public has other stuff on its mind now. The trick is to keep the middle-class terrified, but not completely desperate. Good stuff happened in the 60s because of middle-class prosperity.

Since fascism involves a lot of socialism, I don't think that is what the right has in mid. More like banana republic, neo-feudalism. I have no idea what the transition would look like, although certainly the last couple decades provides clues. I am beyond doubt that the top of the right has a plan.

Maybe the Left has also gone past what I can understand, like Certeau. I am stuck in a Marxism.
Maybe Obama has a better plan.

If the Clintons seem like monsters, maybe they are just trying to postpone the Revolution. I am starting to feel more sympathy for James Buchanan every day.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 10:08 AM
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I am starting to feel more sympathy for James Buchanan every day.

That's certainly in line with choosing HRC.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 10:11 AM
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92: Me, too -- my little brother and I saw it on PBS what seems like dozens of times. The wrenching shift from Boys' Own-style adventure in the jungle to the confusion and horror at the end pretty much ruined us for war movies.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 10:12 AM
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It's kind of weird, but my dad has always said that Nixon wasn't that bad. He doesn't excuse Whitewater, and for that matter, he's usually comparing Nixon to Bush so it's not saying much, but still. Nixon founded the EPA, for instance. And he went to China -- it was tactical maneuvering, it was only remarkable because of demagoguery by people like himself, but I gather it was still the right decision in the end. Nixon would be too far to the left for today's Republicans.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 10:14 AM
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More like banana republic, neo-feudalism.

Lind's "Made in Texas" says exactly that. Bush's mentors in Texas were heirs of the Confederate plantation-owners and had connections in Central America, and resource economies were their ideal (oil). For them nothing that's happened since 1860 in this country has been good.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 10:17 AM
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Nixon was the last gasp of liberalism. He still had to buy people off. Republicans hate his policies, but not his methods.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 10:19 AM
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Do you mean Michel de Certeau, Bob? Tactics vs. Strategy, and all that?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 10:23 AM
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95:If you had to choose between the Buchanan and Lincoln years, would you really find it so easy?

I am crazy. The street violence isn't there, and thinking about antebellum US or pre-Mussolini Italy or Spain or Weimar is just wrong.

We are probably just gonna slide into looking like China.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 10:23 AM
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100:Yeah. Philosophy's Other linked to a extended review at Notre Dame. Compared Certeau to Foucault and Ratzinger as reactions to 1968. What can I say, part of me is still entranced by the Jesuits. I found Certeau fascinating.

I am pretty sure somone on this blog recommended Everyday Life>/i> sometime back.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 10:28 AM
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Certeau is interesting, and you might enjoy his pessemism about direct resistance. Actually, since you've said before that you were into Gramsci (right?), Certeau seems like a great place to continue: he's also very smart about culture's role(s) in power struggles.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 10:35 AM
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If you had to choose between the Buchanan and Lincoln years, would you really find it so easy?

Depends, I guess. In this scenario, am I a Northerner, Southerner, or Slave American?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 10:35 AM
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In this scenario, am I a Northerner, Southerner, or Slave American?

Navajo.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 10:36 AM
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Whenever bob starts his revolutionary talk and other start to think he has a point, I feel obligated to make a plug for the most effective government-changing tactic there is.

Look, we don't have to burn shit down, all we have to do is stop using shit. Cars and buildings do not make a society. Society is made by people consenting to play their given roles every day. This building I'm in is a school, and not an empty shell, because every day we all come here and agree to teach and learn and adminstrate and empty wastebaskets. The school exists by our daily consent.

If the people are pushed to hard, they do not need to take to the streets and riot. If we take to the streets and just stand there, we shut society down just as completely, and with no collateral damage.

So, peace, love, nonviolence, etc. Sometimes these things just need to be repeated a bunch to sink in.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 10:40 AM
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So the most effective government-changing tactic is... love?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 10:43 AM
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If we take to the streets and just stand there, we shut society down just as completely, and with no collateral damage.

Just like China in '89 !


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 10:44 AM
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Love! Yes! (I've got your hippyish back, Rob!) Love is the grit in the cogs of our oppression!


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 10:45 AM
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So, peace, love, nonviolence, etc.

Do we get to sing the Internationale? You have to admit, it's a catchy tune.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 10:46 AM
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92, 96

I have mixed feelings about it: Ian Watt's The Bridge Over The River Kwai as Myth is a devastating critique of its immaturity and wish-fulfillment, when measured against its pretensions and admiring reception. Watt had been a prisoner of the Japanese in SE Asia; his essay was much-anthologized.

On the other hand, there's a lot to admire in all the Lean movies once you take them for what they are, and that recent retrospective in The New Yorker reminded me of just how many scenes in them I love.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 10:47 AM
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108: nonviolent resistence doesn't work instantly, and there are casualties, but it works quicker and better than terrorist insugency.

The Chinese government is still fighting tens of thousands of peasant uprisings a year. Progress can be made.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 10:48 AM
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Yes, the grit of love may ruin our lives, but if it brings the government crashing down perhaps it's a good thing in that limited sense.

Call me sinister and Machiavellian, but I might be willing to authorize a few gritty loving relationships -- as so many suicide bombers, as it were, against Moloch.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 10:50 AM
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the most effective government-changing tactic there is

Non-violence is effective in situations where it's effective. It isn't universally so.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 10:56 AM
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The Chinese government is still fighting tens of thousands of peasant uprisings a year. Progress can be made.

Oh, I basically agree. But the idea of `no collateral damage' isn't plausible.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 10:58 AM
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So Ogged was crazy when he said he didn't think McCain was that big a deal, or whatever it was he actually he said, and even besides McCain's massive problems with policy both foreign and domestic electing him would also reinforce the message that the Republican party can pull this kind of shit without paying for it at the polls, but do we think McCain would continue to make use of the tactics under discussion in the post and thread? I'm leaning towards yes, just because he'd be employing a lot of the same people, and that's what they do, but I'm open to argument.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 11:02 AM
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By collateral damage, I meant damage inflicted by the revolutionaries against unintended targets, not causalities suffered by the revolutionaries. I was just trying to use the words as they are used in violent warfare.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 11:03 AM
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So Ogged was crazy when he said he didn't think McCain was that big a deal

Maybe not crazy, but ass-backwardsly wrong.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 11:04 AM
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36 parenthetical: he makes some theoretical claims in the book that I don't necessarily agree with, and I'm not even sure they cohere, but the style of the writing is outstanding, the theoretical claims are really interesting even if wrong, and I in general love the book. But if you have something in mind that you think is comparable and superior, I'd be really interested.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 11:05 AM
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117: Sure, but you also have to count damage inflicted by the state on unintended targets. Which can be a lot.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 11:06 AM
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Well, here's a start: the ILWU shuts down the West Coast ports for a day in protest at Iraq. And all without the assistance of Comrade McManus.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 11:10 AM
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I don't know a whole lot about the ILWU, but they are perhaps the last of the old radical unions. They played a role in radical politics in Oregon in the Fifties and afterwards, though a lot of that was just a few associate members (notably Julie Ruutila, a friend of friends). I worked a few weeks of longshore as a sub around 1970.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 11:30 AM
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Here's the ILWU May Day Poster. When I worked for them they had a racial problem (almost all white), but they seem to have become multiracial since.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 11:40 AM
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IDP's back! Dude!


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 12:04 PM
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I don't have anything useful to add, but I will say that Nixon was worse, because his war crimes were more serious; the civilian bodycount was far higher. Domestically, Bush is worse. One could argue that Bush would be capable of everything Nixon did, but then Nixon was surely capable of doing far more evil than he actually did.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 3:10 PM
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And also I agree with McManus that the GOP's brand(s) of reactionary nationalist authoritarianism doesn't actually have that much in common with fascism.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 3:23 PM
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Nixon did inherit a war, though, and in the end he got the U.S.out of it. And Bush is trying to put the U.S. on a permanent hot war footing while rewriting the constitution to give the President almost absolute power de jure. He also is doing what he can to destroy the welfare state, partly with debt and promised tax reductions that will hit after he leaves office.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 3:30 PM
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Here's another cheerful thought for you. Obama's not gonna ratfuck anyone, but I wouldn't be shocked if he's not gonna keep at least some CIA secret prisons.

I feel the netroots are very prepared for Obama to be tepid and centrist, and keep troops in Iraq too long, but no one seems to want to think about civil liberties and the like. I wonder if the reaction would be temporary outrage or real rage?


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 3:32 PM
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OTOH, there's some reason to believe Obama might be significantly better than Clinton, which should be a big deal, because Clinton might be far worse when it comes to civil liberties than the (bad) Clinton I, since the situation is rather different.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 3:36 PM
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I actually wonder how useful a category fascism is any more. People talking about fascism often start out by saying that Naziism is in its own branch, and there only were a small handful of true fascist states Even Spain is sometimes given as an exception (because Franco marginalized the Phalangists).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 3:43 PM
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I used to be pretty annoyed when people talked about US fascism, which maybe was too anal even in more innocent times. But since since fascist basically means big poopyhead, it's probably not an effective way to talk about the GOP's not-so-creeping authoritorianism. Yglesias used to talk about putinization for a while in 06 or so, but abandoned the term. I would have liked to see that become a widespread term.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 3:55 PM
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John, you were a longshoreman? Or did you work for the union?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 4:38 PM
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No, they had a special provision for temps during overflow periods such as holidays. I was hired from the union hall but was not a member.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 4:59 PM
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I would have liked to see [putinization] become a widespread term.

It would have been lost on most Americans.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 5:02 PM
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Breaking: My brother's "Bipartisan Cafe is serving an Obama Blend of Indonesian / Kenyan coffees. Some claim that that's partisan, but what would a McCain or Clinton blend be?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 5:04 PM
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I'd love to see Bush and Putin in the ring together. **POW!!!**


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 5:05 PM
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136: That wouldn't go many (any?) rounds.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 5:15 PM
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135: McCain's would be Sanka.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 5:23 PM
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138: Roasted chicory and gravel.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 5:30 PM
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138, 139: Chock Full o' Nuts.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 5:53 PM
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102, 103: Certeau sounds interesting. Thanks.

94: Since fascism involves a lot of socialism, I don't think that is what the right has in mid. More like banana republic, neo-feudalism.

I'd say this is right. (Sorry, I'm reading the thread backwards.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 2-08 6:35 PM
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what would a McCain or Clinton blend be?

140 can't be topped, but "100% Arabica" would also be aposite, if obscure.

There used to be a short order grill in our town that was one of the few non-frou-frou options available downtown, where the proprietor was a vocal Republican. During the 2004 campaign, he advertised a "John Kerry Special (two flipflop pancakes and waffles)" and a "Ted Kennedy special (lots of baloney on whitebread)", among other menu items.

A year later, he went out of business. The proximate cause was that his lease expired and the landlord wanted to adjust the rent to market. But I like to think that the good citizens of Posh Deep Blue Suburb (Kerry over Bush by 66-34%) silently boycotted him. I know I did.*

*Strictly speaking, Fleur and I have been boycotting local Republicans since 2001, when I looked up all the local merchants who donated to Bush's 2000 campaign. Somewhat inconsistently, we still buy from one merchant who donated to the NRCC in 2002, because we really like his shop and we've elected to give him the benefit of a doubt.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05- 3-08 5:30 AM
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52: Late, but if anyone is still interested, here's some Anteaters wearing sweaters.


Posted by: shpx.ohfu | Link to this comment | 05- 3-08 12:01 PM
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This is the free page of an anteater pron sight, right?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 3-08 12:07 PM
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Surreal and adorable.


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 05- 3-08 12:26 PM
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They look surprisingly silky!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05- 3-08 12:27 PM
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Anteater . . . wearing necklace . . . eating cheezwhiz from the can.

I like how they wave their hands in the air.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05- 3-08 12:38 PM
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