Comments: The Two Constituencies of Liberalism

from the Stutts website, Residential Dining [photo caption]:

"Appetite Suppressant: The Dacron Dining Hall is widely considered the ugliest room on earth..."

Let's go kids!

Posted by Dean Taylor at April 24, 2012 01:04 AM

I was in Dacron. The dining hall ambiance is what gave us the edge in the annual Stutts vomitorium barf-off. As we said, "For god, for country, and for -- bleeeeeeerrrrrrrggggghhhh."

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at April 24, 2012 01:18 AM

Test me, test me,
Why don't you arrest me!

Ed. note: From the annals of sixties lore comes a recent reminiscence by one S. Lee Owsgood, purveyor of farmhouse kitsch and drygoods--e.g., hi-colonic gingham reflecting aprons "for that fresh-as-a-daisy 'I-see-the-world-anew' feeling" so popular with America's gun totin' nativist patriots. What follows is an abridged version of the encounter.

A recent interview for Spotlight magazine [my newest source of income in those days] had revealed that a young Hank K. Singer of Rio del Mar, California, had frequented the Palo Alto High campus at the same time that future Dead guitarist and Bay Area patriarch Jerome John Garcia trod the Commons. As Lee recalled, both Singer and Garcia had reputations for dalliance or, as he put it, "bird-doggin' wounded women."

But, what of the claim by Owsgood that Garcia's boyhood pal was in actuality the future presidential advisor and US policy architect nodding benignly upon such atrocities as the Timor massacres? Surely, the patent age difference between the two would put the lie to any chronicle of the Haight, Carolyn Adams and the Merry Pranksters?

Owsgood dismisses such nay-saying with a flourish of his 19th C. carved ḡalyān, or hookah, smoky curlicues emphasizing his point, adding that Singer "changed his name, his politics, and his karma" after a chance encounter with yet another West coast denizen whom he--Singer--had known much earlier, in Whittier. I forbear to identify further…

As luck would have it, though, Owsgood produced a puckered, stained sketchbook replete with overheated doggerel, runic inscription and cartoon-like facsimiles of strained, teeny-bopper erotica. A cursory scan of the text--identified with the Latinate inscription dulce et utile ("a sweet and useful thing")--revealed what appeared to be poetry but soon proved to be lyrics to what would become mainstays of the Dead repertoire. In particular, the words to one of their earliest successes, "Bertha", prompted my skepticism to challenge the artifact's authenticity.

"But," I chided, "everyone knows that the lyrics to this paean to love lost was written by Garcia's alter-ego Robert Hunter. Surely you jest in your claim that it was in fact the muse of der Draufgänger von Fürth, Heinz Kissinger, who inspired its creation?"

At this, and with eyes closed, he raised both palms upwards in a gesture of solemnity evoking the supplicants of Aeschylus' Danaid Tetralogy, and concluded our brief dialogue with the probing observation, "what the fuck."

Two weeks later, having all but forgotten the assignment, I arrived at the villa we had rented along the Via Francigena in the south of Tuscany to a parcel, addressed by hand to: D. Taylor, Spotlight, and our postal zone number, all barely legible. That it arrived at all may be a lingering residual benefit of the earlier fascist insistence upon exactitude and fidelity in matters of State.

And there it was, the sketchbook, with a note affixed to the cover with the final verse of the great, timeless (deathless?) Dead composition in question:

Ran into a rainstorm, I ducked back into a bar door.
It was all night pourin', pourin', pourin',
Lord, but not a drop on me.
Test me, test me,
Why don't you arrest me?
Throw me in the jailhouse,
Lord, until the sun goes down, 'till it goes down.

postscript:
In retrospect, I would find it to be one of the bitterest ironies of this, the last phase of a now-failed state, the 236-year old "experiment" gone awry, Empire, sucked into the ooze by the downward draft of Late (finance) Capital, to have noted one of its mainstay's earlier, defiant appeal for incarceration, when that constraint and confinement would surely be a needful, and most welcome thing by the ill-fated casualties of American greed on several continents.

http://is.gd/dmBO6G

Posted by Dean Taylor at April 24, 2012 04:48 AM

Speaking of Al Gore being fat, he could do worse than follow Bill Clinton's example of being guided by Drs. Esselstyn and Ornish into a whole foods, low fat, plant-based diet.

Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD

Posted by mistah charley, ph.d. at April 24, 2012 08:30 AM

Speaking of Al Gore being fat, he could do worse than follow Bill Clinton's example of being guided by Drs. Esselstyn and Ornish into a whole foods, low fat, plant-based diet.

Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD

Posted by mistah charley, ph.d. at April 24, 2012 08:30 AM

Speaking of Al Gore being fat, he could do worse than follow Bill Clinton's example of being guided by Drs. Esselstyn and Ornish into a whole foods, low fat, plant-based diet.

Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD

Posted by mistah charley, ph.d. at April 24, 2012 08:31 AM

What I tell you three times is true.

Posted by mistah charley, ph.d. at April 24, 2012 08:32 AM

I read Mortal Splendor when it came out--politically it's somewhere midway between, say, Chomsky and the furthest left columnist the NYT ever had (perhaps Anthony Lewis).

Then some years back he started popping up on the PBS Newshour. You wouldn't have known it was the same person. Funny how that works.

Posted by Donald Johnson at April 24, 2012 08:40 AM

Mortal Splendor? Isn't that a kick-boxing video game?

Ah, no, that's Mortal Kombat. But then, bloody violence is what Mead is into these days, isn't it?

Posted by tom allen at April 24, 2012 08:56 AM

"Emerging social democracies do not intervene on behalf of blood-soaked oligarchies, but highly centralized corporate states do it all the time."

This seems like a sentence that's supposed to mean something insightful, but ends up being meaningless the more you look at it. What does he consider emerging social democracies? What does he consider bload-soaked oligarchies? It seems like the nordic countries would be the best example of social democracies. I doubt if Sweden had a different system it'd be going around the world intervening "on behalf of blood-soaked oligarchies".

Posted by Chatham at April 24, 2012 11:07 AM

"an idealism so warmly admired by all the people of the hemisphere, from the Sioux to the Panamanians…"


"..They believe that the present economic system can support all these values, and they believe that the United States can and should take the lead in easing the misery of the poor here and abroad."

I don't know if this is suppose to be satire or
not? -Tony

Posted by tony at April 24, 2012 01:33 PM

Hey, he's Mr. Altmouse now. Give him some respect. :-P

Posted by tom allen at April 24, 2012 01:46 PM

Keep up the good work, Jon.

Posted by Cloud at April 24, 2012 03:36 PM

Yes. Lovely musings, Jon.

Chatham: I don't know what you're talking about. This was an incisive passage in the former-intellect known as WS Mead.

Sweden is different than it used to be, and it will continue to be increasingly different. It is ridiculous to believe that Swedish 20th century accomplishments were anything other than the triumph of a social democracy with a socialist backbone named a) Meidner, and b) the Soviet Union. Sweden today destroys labor institutions. For now they say it's for the good of the essentially-unskilled migrant labor of the world. Later, they'll just soak in the blood, as they did a long time before. They've started it off in Afghanistan.

Posted by Bamse at April 25, 2012 02:56 AM

This man thinks in black and whites and labels.

Those are aesthetically appealing to us males.

If it were a useful thought, he wouldn't have to appeal to these things.

Women think in labels a little, but it's much more about trying to balance the emotional severity of one expression with another, rather than collect any and all dichotomies that come along. They can also juggle a few labels at once in order to smooth over the product:

"The problem is not that the people think the Democratic Party is not sufficiently hawkish; it's the problem that they are not sufficiently bold and sufficiently visionary. " -- Ariana Huffington

Pressured by raising children and caring for aging parents, fewer women stay in the pipeline to make it to senior positions. -- Isobel Coleman, CFR

When men approach labels, the first one is just a precursor to the second, they typically don't stack, just replace (compromise into "modify" here:

"There had to be some sort of compromise, some sort of the modification of the McChrystal request if he was going to keep the Democratic Party together. Now this has led to criticism of the president by some on the right, for example former U.S. ambassador to the UN John Bolton, who viewed this as craven sacrifice of the national interest to craven political interest. On the contrary, this is a necessary part of doing the job of commander in chief right." - Stephen Biddle, CFR

Finally, the abrupt slicing of a sentence is where you really see the instinct come out:

With an increasingly globalized and complex world demanding creative and varied solutions, there will be more and more opportunities and indeed—requirements—for women to sit at the foreign policy decision-making table. -- Lisa Curtis, Heritage

These instincts are why Bush felt the need to sermonize about his loyalty to the American people in us vs. them logic, and with labels:

"My administration has a job to do and we're going to do it. We will rid the world of the evil-doers."

Similarly, Mead's writing continued with them:

"But what if it can't? What if the global economy stagnates—or even shrinks? In that case, we will face a new period of international conflict: South against North, rich against poor. Russia, China, India—these countries with their billions of people and their nuclear weapons will pose a much greater danger to the world than Germany and Japan did in the '30s." - Mead, 1992

Posted by Lewis at April 25, 2012 09:11 AM

"black and whites and labels ... are aesthetically appealing to us males" while "Women ... balance the emotional severity of one expression with another".

Was the irony there intentional?

Posted by buermann at April 25, 2012 12:45 PM

Whatever irony is present is entirely pathological.

To be more clear, black and white are about the same idea split into two opposite logical varieties ("South against North, rich against poor"). Qualified statements are instead a running tally of overall good and bad, like exceptions to the rule, seeing the pros and cons, not aggrandizing (such as "fewer women stay in the pipeline" and "The problem is not that..").

Posted by LT at April 25, 2012 05:58 PM

While having lunch with my neighbor, today, at the corner Mickey D's, the question came up, a mere musing I assure YOU, as to whether Henry would ever move to Chile or even go there for a short vacation.
I'm sure his old friend Pinochet would welcome him with open arms(if he's STILL alive). Perhaps Walter Russell Mead could help Henry pack and drive him to the airport. (Ah, JUSTICE, so evasive in this life.)

Posted by Mike Meyer at April 25, 2012 07:43 PM

Mike, don't eat at Mickey D's. That organization needs to die; you don't. Patronizing it is counterproductive for both those ends.

Posted by saurabh at April 26, 2012 11:12 AM

saurabh: THANK YOU for YOUR concern and activism. Of course YOU are right on both counts, but I must ask where one would find SAFE food anywhere in "Processed Foods America"? Where in Corporate America are the wage slaves not exploited? Frankly, at home, I eat a lot of wild deer meat, but the rice comes from Big Wally and the vegetables from out of a can or frozen.
I work in the cattle industry. I know all the chemicals that beef cattle are injected with as I do it myself. I worked, as did my brothers, in a meat packing plant. EVEN MORE, and worse IMHO, is injected into meat products on their way to the store shelf.
I'd live off fish if I could, if there were SAFE mercury levels in the waters these days.
I eat chicken but they are more doped up than cows. (Yes, I've worked on chicken farms in Florida for years)
I worked picking crops and in packing plants--bug spray in the fields and chemical preservatives in the washes, wrapped in plastics that leach solvents.
ITS BIG AG America, NO safe food.
ITS CORPORATE America, no unexploited workers---none.
Mickey D's is on the corner though,(a plus)AND they have a dollar menu(double plus).
I DO EAT a lot of wild meat at home though.

Posted by Mike Meyer at April 26, 2012 02:32 PM

Ugh.

Posted by Amanda Rex at April 27, 2012 03:15 AM

yo Mike Meyer- say grace before u eat

Posted by frankenduf at April 27, 2012 09:09 AM

Mike Meyer - Have you considered the benefits of a whole food plant-based diet? The rice and vegetables you are eating are probably OK (maybe some small pesticide residue in some cases). By avoiding meat, fish, dairy, and eggs you avoid a number of contaminants and microorganisms as well as the deleterious effects of the animal fat, and the animal protein (which there are reasons to think is not so good for you either). Your protein and calcium requirements can be easily be met from plant foods.

See material by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, John McDougall, Caldwell Esselstyn, Rip Esselstyn, videos like Chow Down and Forks over Knives.

Spouse and self have been following these recommendations for three months and have effortlessly lost weight and feel better.

Google

"PCRM Starter Kit"
"The Free McDougall Program"
"Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease"

Posted by mistah charley, ph.d. at April 27, 2012 11:53 AM

Grace before Meals

Before meals, missus charley and I say the following, which we learned from my late father colonel charley, who learned it from one of his granddaughters...tracing back, it's an excerpt from a rendering into English by Reeve Lindbergh (daughter of the aviator) of something by St. Francis of Assisi.

For all thy gifts
of every kind
we offer praise
with quiet mind.
Be with us, Lord,
and guide our ways
around the circle
of our days.

A briefer observance is the Prayer of St. Fred Rogers, TV host and Presbyterian minister: "Thank you, God."

My spouse is a committed member of the Church of Rome; I attend services with her while maintaining a panentheistic and religious pluralist perspective.

Posted by mistah 'MICFiC' charley, ph.d. at April 27, 2012 12:13 PM

I don't understand how you change your mind about "stuff" - specifically in this context, I mean. So, you understand how the world works, and then you... forget?

Someone, explain it to me, please. Thanks.

Posted by Faheem at April 27, 2012 12:53 PM

My own guess is that Walter Russell Mead, when he changed his mind about "stuff", did not forget what he knew about The Way Things Are. Rather, he changed his mind about where he, himself, fit into the Big Picture. In his youth, I hypothesize, he regarded himself as one of the People - yes! Later on, counting the costs and the benefits, he decided he would be better off as one of the highly paid servants of the Bosses. By now, he may imagine that he is actually one of the Bosses himself. Admittedly, he may not have so many country estates that he can't count them - but he's invited to them all the time, and he has, or likes to think he has, great influence over the Powerful, so you could say - and I bet he does say to himself - he is one of the MetaPowerful.

If one wants to have earthly riches, the surest way is to join the conspiracy to use, abuse, and confuse the people - to "milk, shear, and slaughter the sheeple", to get metaphorical about it - except that the slaughter is literal, unfortunately.

Posted by mistah 'MICFiC' charley, ph.d. at April 27, 2012 01:12 PM

Hi Mistah Charley,

Thanks for the analysis. I can see what you mean - about thinking one is better off with the rich and powerful - if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. However, you still need to live with the fact that your friends are thieving murderous sociopaths etc. etc. The topic of cognitive dissonance usually gets mentioned here. It is incredibly stressful to believe one thing while espousing another, so usually how a person deals with these kinds of conflicts is to brainwash himself/herself into believing whatever is necessary to make himself comfortable with the decisions he/she made out of self-interest. I've seen this kind of thing happen, but not in the context of mass murder.

So, what boggles my mind is the level of brainwashing that must be required to reconcile this level of dissonance, if that is indeed what is going on. I have no actual first hand experience of these kinds of people, so this is conjecture. I wonder if they have been any psychological studies of these phenomena. If so, they probably weren't funded by the Pentagon.

Posted by Faheem at April 27, 2012 02:18 PM

Amanda Rex: AGREED!!!

frakenduf: Good advice.

mistah charley ph.d. THANK YOU for the prayer, the links,(I will read them) and the advice. I really do appreciate them and YOU even though what I write next may seem contentious. First, IMHO there's no such thing as a LITTLE pesticide residue. Second---Monsanto. Third "Agent Orange Corn". It seems this land is full of thorns that WE've sown, one crawls out of a pit only to be bitten by a viper.

Faheem: Most any history of the German People covering 1918-1945 will tell YOU everything necessary concerning the subject.
Also, from MY experience in Carnival Games and sales, 99.9% of brainwashing IS just telling them what they WANT to hear.
I can GUARANTEE Mr. W.R. Mead just woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and told himself what he WANTED to hear.

Posted by Mike Meyer at April 27, 2012 03:08 PM

So the poster LT wrote:
Whatever irony is present is entirely pathological.

To be more clear, black and white are about the same idea split into two opposite logical varieties ("South against North, rich against poor"). Qualified statements are instead a running tally of overall good and bad, like exceptions to the rule, seeing the pros and cons, not aggrandizing (such as "fewer women stay in the pipeline" and "The problem is not that..").
Posted by LT at April 25, 2012 05:58 PM

####

This is America's model of "critical thinking" in a nutshell. Something is one way, so it is necessary to find the exact opposite of that thing, and let it be known that the world is big enough only for Black or White, North or South, capitalism or outright Stalinistic Communism. And so on.

A society that actually wants to have success in its endeavors wants the shades of grey to be considered. One year, we only want kids to be happy - no need for homework to tire kids out. Then four years later, we want kids to understand that school is a torturous process, and best regulated with an infinite amount of testing, without any real learning.

The above applies to almost any policy possible, except of course, the need for endless wars, and the continual outsourcing of jobs.

Posted by Elise Mattu at April 28, 2012 05:37 PM

The Tao updated to 2012: We build nationalism out of black and whites but it is the traditions of those black and whites that we use.

Posted by LT at April 30, 2012 10:10 PM