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October 15, 2008


I must say, the "McCain campaign as post-modern performance art" theory is starting to look attractive.

Also too: mavericky!

This story has something for us geezers, as well -- Tongsun Park. Who knew? I thought he was done after the KCIA/Korean spying scandal in the 1970s.

The right's pack of crooks is unkillable, apparently (politically speaking).

Nell: I deliberately left out the punctuation as an homage to the speaking style of Palin.

Timmons is so yesterday's news.


say it ain't so, Eric! there ya go again, pointin fingers backwards to the past instead of lookin forward to buildin a new future for this great country. also, maverick.

What with the recent poll numbers, and the steady drip drip drip of bad news for (and about) McCain, it's starting to feel like a dogpile.

OT, but Al Qaeda In Mesopotamia's #2 has been killed again.

He's the unluckiest son of a b*tch out there.

I agree with the post-modern performance art thing but the problem is that although the american people may ignore McCain's Ayres smear they won't ever grasp to their core the fact that McCain's campaign is run by terrorist sympathizers/saddam lovers, etc...etc...

And that, I think, is because the Right wing has waged a very sucessful campaign, over years, to racialize "the other" and also to immunize the profit motive. If you listen to the objections of Rush limbaugh et al to the supposed ayres/obama connection its not that it pursues evil goals (exactly) its also that it is based on motives *other than the profit motive.* I'm sure that 99 percent of americans who hear that Timmons "worked for" or "lobbied for" Saddam Hussein will think "oh, well, its a job isn't it? At least he was working for money and not for that evil thing---ideology." Ayres/scary black people are evil because they are "ideological" and *aren't* looking out for number one (supposedly). Look at how the right wing has bitched conspicously about spending annenberg money on poor people and the education of children. I can assure you that if Ayres et al had taken taxpayer money and repatriated it to the cayman islands we never would have heard a peep from limbaugh et al--even if they did it by way of cutting out children's kidneys and selling them on the open market. The market motive washes away all sins, for most americans.

the very tight connection between the military industrial complex, the advertising and lobbying industry, and things as big as wars has been out there, in front of the public, for years--the public *knows* that congress was lied to in the run up to the first Iraq war by hired loybbist/advertising groups for Kuwait. And yet its all no harm no foul.

There's simply no way for Timmon's complicity with our "arch enemy" to rub off on John McCain. When upper class white guys do stuff for money its simply not news.




@Eric: And I was making a weak reference to the "I rest my case" punctuation thread. ;>

Seriously, wouldn't it be better and more genuinely mavericky not to have a transition chief at this point than to have one who was Saddam Hussein's lobbyist?

And speaking of almost pure evil: Cheney canceled an Illinois fundraiser to go to the hospital for heart palpitations. Could the front page of the Washington Post have anything to do with that?

The Bush administration issued a pair of secret memos to the CIA in 2003 and 2004 that explicitly endorsed the agency's use of interrogation techniques such as waterboarding against al-Qaeda suspects -- documents prompted by worries among intelligence officials about a possible backlash if details of the program became public.

Somebody representing "the Bush administration" put it in writing, eh? I wonder who...

[Jackson] didn't know what the real motive for the war was about,... nor... did he know very much about the Middle East. [ed note: Those are, apparently, not essential to the cause]

In fact, absolute ignorance of those is essential to the cause.

It could be, Nell, that the WaPo front page story about secret White House torture memos caused Cheney's heart palpitations to return, but the usual reaction to WaPo front page stories about torture memos is an epidemic of the vapors.

"Why, I never..."

It just seems to me that a person with a title of "McCain's transition chief" would be one of the more underemployed people around. Unless he's talking about transitioning back to the Senate. Or transitioning from Cindy to Caribou Barbie...


Ayers. It's William Ayers. Not "Ayres."

At least he was working for money and not for that evil thing---ideology.


I think you are right about the framing, but I dissent that people are wrong to regard ideology as a bad thing, rather I would say that the Right has been more successful at hiding their ideology out in plain sight, where everybody can see it but few call it what it really is.

For starters, a profound skepticism regarding and antipathy toward ideologies in general seems to me to be a very rational and reasonable response to the history of the 20th Century, which was in many ways a prolonged, destructive and dangerous battle of the –isms, in some ways a more contemporary version of the wars of religion of 16-17th Cen. Europe. Anyone who in the wake of that experience is still eager to embrace any ideology too enthusiastically is IMHO either very ill-informed or suffers from poor political judgment.

Does this mean we are done with ideology? No – far from it. Market worship is also an ideology, but it is one which has been much more successful at concealing its nature, because it makes claims which under normal circumstances are less easily testable in a day-to-day fashion than other more top-down ideologies. The promises that we are sold on in support of unregulated markets are composed of a myriad of micro-events rather than a smaller number of macro-events, and so it is difficult to falsify the theory that the market will do best by us.

Until now – what is happening in the markets today (especially the credit market) is a macro-event, of the sort which has brought discredit and collapse to other ideologies in the past. It has taken years for us to reach this point but now a critical threshold of some sort has been passed and the undeniable macro-level consequences of the Friedmanite ideology of the last 30 years are now plainly visible for everyone to see.

And the proponents of that ideology are now responding to the systemic crisis of their system the same way that ideologues always do – by telling people to ignore the mess and pay no attention to the man behind the curtain – “Who do you believe, me or your lying eyes?”, or to blame people who were peripheral to the system which is in crisis (hence the Big Lie about the CRA and the mortgage crisis) and not to scrutinize those who were its primary operators and beneficiaries.

I don’t think version of events is holding up very well. Another ideology bites the dust.

But the larger lesson I take from this is to be skeptical of all ideologies, and instead to favor pragmatism and support those leaders and movements who seek to use ideology in a cautious and provisional manner, putting ideas in service to humanity rather than the other way around.

@ aimai:

I'd disagree, fairly strongly, with your take on the Timmons/Saddam connection being in any way significantly excusable (by the elctorate) by the "profit motive". There are just too many players in our political system who have staked too much credibility capital for the last several years on painting Saddam Hussein as a Evil Monstrous Dictator (charges which, almost as an aside, are entirely true) responsible for a great deal of Monstrous Evil - true again, even aside from the bogus 9/11 - WMD BS. And said Evil Monstrousness was, don't forget, the whole raison d'etre for the invasion/occupation of Iraq in 2003: is a policy few Republicans/conservatives -still less John McCain - have seen fit to fundamentally denounce (yet).

Whatever his motivations, lucre-fueled or not, having (or more corectly, having it be discovered by the media) a former Saddam lobbyist as an official in your Presidential campaign has GOT to be a significant embarrassment. Which is probably why we won't hear much about it.

That said, though: I agree with you that it isn't quite in the same category as the "scary black [insert slur here] terrorist" crap that has been, and will, be flung at Sen. Obama. Different standards, like it or not.

Technically, ideology is almost always a bad word that describes your opponents way of thought so "being skeptical of all ideologies" is, of course, just another potential ideology--even though its one I tend towards myself. I mean look, "favoring pragmatism" sounds great--I come from a long line of scientists, technocrats, geeks and new dealers myself, but the fact of the matter is that the word "ideology" has simply been taken over to mean "scary ideas bad people hold" and capitalism and the free market *as well as* jingoism and nativism and militarism have been (to a large extent) given a free pass. I don't think we can underestimate the damage to our would be technocratic, meritocratic, political discourse that this has wrought. In effect every "pragmatic" and "thoughtful" solution to social problems in this country has been, under republican rule and mass media language, been disallowed if it comes from a progressive standpoint. Take the very word "public" as in "public space." Under sucessive Republican administrations and through the work of Cato and other conservative think tanks the very word public has been debased--public interest, public sphere, public parks. And all the good that government can do, along with goverment itself? Dismissed as unamerican because that which is public is anti "private" and private is valued because of the ideological notion that the market is free and private entities should pursue that freedom to the despite of the public sphere.

I'm just avoiding doing what I need to do so I'll stop writing the incredibly obvious now and just let the discussion go back to where it was.


But the larger lesson I take from this is to be skeptical of all ideologies...

I don't have time to get into this at work but: I don't think you mean what you're saying here unless you're attempting the ideological version of Russell's paradox. Skepticism is an ideology, the same as any other; it may be more or less meta depending on implementation, but that's no disqualification. What I think you mean is that you want to be skeptical of totalizing ideologies -- viz. your comments about the 20th century "Battle of the -isms" -- or alternatively of those ideologies which persist in the face of all contrary evidence.

I remember seeing Jerry Falwell on some cable news show years ago, when Hilary Clinton was first running for Senate, calling her an "idealogue." I think I farted out a live chicken right about then.

Make that "ideologue." If he meant idealogue, it might have made more sense, minus the context.

John McCain's first act as President would be to unleash Chiang Kai-shek.

Joel Hanes, I was just thinking about that same thing 10 days ago (my 9:39 AM comment, if the link doesn't go straight to it).

Oh, what anarch said. That's what I meant.


Is it true that Obama is weak on Quemoy and Matsu?

Slightly OT but am I the only one to have noticed the frequency these days with which pols, pundits, news-people and various talking heads all seem to start their thoughts and sentences - regardless of merit, impact, content or relative significance - with the word/imperative: "Look,..."?

Especially Donna Brazile.

Look, if you haven't noticed it already, you should check it out. But be careful: once you starting listening for "Look," it can become maddeningly dominant.

Look, xanax, I have more important things to worry about than . . . oops . . .

Re: Gary's OT on the #2 man for Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia

Abu "Kenny" Qaswarah.


Pat Buchanan has been doing that for years and years.

Look, if you haven't noticed it already, you should check it out. But be careful: once you starting listening for "Look," it can become maddeningly dominant.

My own bugbear is "again". It is the favorite sentence-starter for shifty witnesses at Congressional hearings and GOP spinners in TV interviews. It's usually shorthand for "I have no answer to the question so I will repeat my talking points as if you didn't hear me the first time."


What's so irritating to me about starting every other thought with "Look," is that it attempts to give what the speaker's about to say an importance or gravitas the comment simply doesn't have. It's as if its value or profundity is somehow inflated just by the act of calling extra attention to it. Look! Look! Look how smart I am! Words are coming out of my mouth!
When, usually - like a weak, diluted cup of coffee - the comment just isn't strong enough to defend itself.

And, yes, mjm, now you mention... I can hear it echoing in Buchanan's voice. Owww! Make it stop!

Again, LOOK! Make it stop!
(and I'll bite Gary.)

In all fairness, Joe Biden also uses "look!" a lot in his campaign speeches (and his "folks!" looks like a sophisticated version of "My friends" to me). Biden usually has more substance behind it though.

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