You may only read this site if you've purchased Our Kampf from Amazon or Powell's or me
• • •
"Mike and Jon, Jon and Mike—I've known them both for years, and, clearly, one of them is very funny. As for the other: truly one of the great hangers-on of our time."—Steve Bodow, head writer, The Daily Show

"Who can really judge what's funny? If humor is a subjective medium, then can there be something that is really and truly hilarious? Me. This book."—Daniel Handler, author, Adverbs, and personal representative of Lemony Snicket

"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming

March 27, 2005

And, Happy Easter

As Bob Harris says, nothing commemorates the resurrection of the Prince of Peace like an Easter basket filled with toy guns.

And via Eschaton, you can't go wrong with an article by Matt Taibbi subtitled, "Three Years Early, Democratic Swine Position Themselves."

Posted at March 27, 2005 10:52 PM | TrackBack

Matt Taibbi is my hero. Isn't it time for anyone retaining an ounce of self-respect to wash their hands of their Democrats? The idiotic branding initiatives and militant fecklessness make all their pretenses of opposition risible.

Posted by: Harry at March 27, 2005 11:25 PM

Why not hang Kerry on his own appeal to marketing. Marketing wisdom decrees that a mature market will be divided up between two major marketers with the third a long, long way back - coke/pepsi, hertz/avis etc. Also part of this wisdom is that there will always be two i.e. if coke were to take over and assimilate pepsi they would be wasting their money because they would slip back to slightly more than half the market with a third, now second marketer filling the vacuum. The market seems to divide itself into two camps. You see it all the time. So the trick if you are a small force in the market is to try a join hertz and avis (or whoever) together in the mind if the public making you the alternative.
With the Dims doing such a good job of aligning themselves with the Repunks, there is a golden opportunity going begging here. Will the anti-war, anti corporate movement grab it?

Posted by: Jim Shanahan at March 28, 2005 06:05 AM

It's not so much the egregious and harmful errors of your past that might tend to make you wrong about the Democratic Party, Jonathan, but the fact that fecklessness is a communicable disease. It's almost impossible to keep your integrity when all the pod people feel threatened and start doing that thing with their fingers. The one thing the feckless do well is gang up to coopt people trying to shove them out the door.

Look at the Democrats who know Bushist manipulations and a bogus Supreme Court decision cost Gore the election, but blame the Greens and Nader anyway. They did that to appease the wingnuts. It would take millions of iron willed progressives joining the party and working over time.

Posted by: Harry at March 28, 2005 03:04 PM

Urm. I disagree with this analysis of Democratic behavior.

fecklessness is a communicable disease...

Look at the Democrats who know Bushist manipulations and a bogus Supreme Court decision cost Gore the election, but blame the Greens and Nader anyway. They did that to appease the wingnuts.

I don't think they're feckless. I think they're acting rationally in their own best interest. The first rule of power is that you DON'T act to improve the wellbeing of your institution, nor its power relative to other institutions. Rather, you act to maintain your power WITHIN your institution. Generally this has negative effects on the wellbeing of your institution and its relative power.

Thus, Bush et al are not working for the overall wellbeing of the US or even its relative power. They act in order to increase their own power within the US. They are happy to destroy the US as long as they remain in power. They are almost as extreme as Saddam Hussein, who destroyed Iraq because his only goal was his own power.

The same holds true for "Appallin' Joe" Biden. He is not working to make the Democratic party stronger vis a vis Republicans. He's working to maintain his own position within the party. Like most Democratic powerbrokers, if he had to choose between (1) Democrats losing the presidency and Congress, but maintaining his own power within the party, and (2) Democrats gaining the presidency and Congress, but losing his own personal power within the party, he would always go for #1.

That's also the calculation made re challenging the 2000 results. I don't think they did it to appease the wingnuts. Rather, they acted to preserve their own power within the Democratic party. They could have mobilized lots of regular people around that, but they don't WANT regular people involved. They would prefer to lose the White House rather than win the White House and have lots of regular people come in and muck things up.

What I'm saying is that I think the DC insiders are SO weak now is that they can't prevent normal people from coming in on their own.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at March 28, 2005 03:30 PM

Jonathan, I agree with most of that analysis. Where I diverge is in thinking they do want ordinary people involved, but only on their terms. If they can't have that, or it looks as though they're going to have to live up to their rhetoric, that's when they deliberately tank. I don't think they do that on a conscious level, but out of the same kind of impulse that makes corporate journalists self-censor. It's operant conditioning at work.

My comment, phrased poorly, is an admonition against what I consider the hopelessness of attempting to reform them from within. The pressure they've put on anyone who has tried is incredible. Even Howard Dean, who was on paper a perfect candidate, was too much of an outsider. Now he's one of the pod people after the lesson they taught him.

Posted by: Harry at March 28, 2005 04:11 PM

Where I diverge is in thinking they do want ordinary people involved, but only on their terms.

But doesn't this go without saying? I mean, as committed as I am to democracy, I like my army of zombies. They're very useful. But it irritates me tremendously when they wander off on their own.

...the hopelessness of attempting to reform them from within. The pressure they've put on anyone who has tried is incredible.

That's my point—I'm not so certain it's hopeless. I don't think they have much power compared to the past, and it's diminishing. It's true Dean might be neutered. (I don't follow this enough to know.) But that's not necessarily a permanent condition. When people get organized, they can sometimes sew balls back on the most surprising people.

In fact, that's always been my take on Dean. I always thought he was an opportunist. And the fact that an opportunist like him was willing to make vague anti-war noises (and talk about media concentration) was an extremely encouraging sign. We will always have the die-hard freaks, but we will know we're making progress when the opportunists try to jump on board.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at March 28, 2005 05:21 PM

Jonathan, what you see as signs of weakness, I see as shrewd maneuvering to keep the progressive left defunded, disorganized and constantly attempting to reform them. It's a rope a dope. It's not weakness at all. Their opportunistic jumping on the bandwagon is the same as greenwashing.

Whenever they think they've gone too far, they make a concession that looks sane by comparison to the evil wingnuts' policies.

Posted by: Harry at March 28, 2005 06:53 PM

I still think that it is easier to walk around a pile of shit than clean it up especially when the shitters are trying to stop you. Hear in Oz, the dominant part(y)ies, Liberal/Labor, have gone to extraordinary lengths to cripple the minor parties that have and are gaining popularity as the Two are increasingly seen as One. They know very well that this is the problem and they (minor parties) are the enemy.
And finally, "He who would sup with the devil needs a long spoon, indeed." You will always get blindsided by the scumbags because they think differently.
The "go it alone" option may look the harder but I believe it is the easiest in the long run. At least you get to speak the truth in the meantime. Amen!

Posted by: Jim Shanahan at March 28, 2005 07:09 PM

Much more disturbance of the systems currently in operation is likely, imo, to result in some form of "real" civil war ... I'm not sure if Americans can cope with the loss of illusions re: the vaunted American way of life, even if it only operates for a relatively small fraction of the population.

Real up-ending of one party or the other is likely to lead to fights out in the street ... like those at 3 in the morning after a big noisy party where lots of strangers happened by.

And too many people in the USA have guns, for their "personal protection"

Posted by: Jon at March 28, 2005 08:32 PM

Jonathan, in response to Harry, you said:-
"Here I think you're giving them much too much credit. As I've said before, people running things generally never have an diabolical scheme, much less the intelligence to pull one off. It only appears that way from the outside, because their behavior otherwise appears so moronic."

I know from my own experience that you are wrong on that score, much as I wish you were right. But, unfortunately, I can't demonstrate it to you.
Have you read Tom Englehardt's "One-way Planet"?
It give a very good glimpse into the "milieu" that we are all swimming in and it's pervasiveness in moulding our thinking.

Posted by: Jim Shanahan at March 29, 2005 01:01 AM


First, my compliments on your taste in names.

Second, my thoughts sometimes stray in the same direction as yours. We're one of the weirdest countries ever, so I wouldn't put anything past us.


First, my compliments once again on your taste in the first letters of your names.

Second, I have read "One Way Planet," and I agree that it's great.

Third, I did qualify what I say: "people running things generally never have an diabolical scheme." So maybe your experience falls under this qualification. Still, I'm dubious. In fact, I think people in charge everywhere actively foster the impression that they're much smarter and in control than they are. But it's (almost always) an illusion.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at March 30, 2005 02:54 AM