Thursday, May 17, 2012

Names to be remembered, and Barbara Lee of CA once again shows her worth

In 2001, Rep. Barbara Lee, of California, was the lone member of Congress to vote "no" against the infamous Authorization for the Use of Military Force, a poorly thought out bill, which has made possible a decade of war. Lee's reason for voting against the bill are simple, she mistrusted the amount of military power it gave the Bush Administration, and, therefore, she followed her conscience. In a generous statement, in an interview with Diane Randall of the Friends Committee on National Legislation, Lee offered some excuse for her colleagues, saying they did not think the US would remain in Afghanistan for ten years. Perhaps so, but what is clear, in 2001 Rep. Barbara was on the side of the angels.

In 2012, she is once again taking a brave stand against war-mongering and needless aggression. Part of a small group of House Representatives, GOP and Democrats, she has voted "nay" on House Resolution 568. This small, principled band are Justin Amash of MI, Earl Blumenauer of OR, Geoff Davis of KY, John Duncan of TN, Dennis Kucinich of OH, the aforementioned Barbara Lee of CA, Jim McDermott of WA, John Olver of MA, Ron Paul of TX, Peter Stark of CA, and Lynn Woolsey of CA. These good people deserve our thanks. Let us consider the powerful forces that are arrayed against them: greed, myopic economic interests, anger, fear, ambition, aggression, and friendship. DC isn't filled with monsters, imagine what it is like to be the one person who breaks with the herd? Just as powerfully, consider the psychological cost of standing up for a nation of so many apathetic citizens. Where is the thanks? If you can't help monetarily, a kind word of thanks is as important. Take a brief moment to thank these people.

The bill itself is typical DC agit-prop, vague, maudlin, and filled with the promise of violence. Beware foreigners whenever your nation is referred to in the following context:

[The US] expresses support for the universal rights and democratic aspirations of the Iranian people.

In other words, get ready, because, to paraphrase Walter H. Page, we are gonna shoot you into self-government.

More on possible future divergence of Ron Paul & his followers

Peter Grier of the Christian Science Monitor asks are some of Paul's supporters going rouge? This question is prompted by the continuing campaigning of some of Paul's followers in NV, even after Paul stated he has stopped campaigning. And, much more significantly, Paul's followers pushed through a resolution rebuking RNC chief Reince Priebus, "calling on him to resign his post due to his decision to merge some RNC fundraising with that of presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney."

 In defense of the disgruntled, the national convention hasn't happened yet, even if Romney is the heir apparent. It may be hypocritical, but ceremony is important, it confers legitimacy. Romney is not yet the current GOP leader, he is still a pretender, even if he is the last pretender left standing.

Peter Grier, however, states that such a resolution is not decorous, Romney being the "virtually certain nominee." But if we give up on election rituals and process, even when the outcome is certain, then let's just drop the pretense of the whole democratic process in all its purple-fingered glory. If "certainty" becomes the legitimizing principle, then let's turn off the lights and the mikes, and put the dividers back into place, and end the rout and shut the youngsters up. Hit a few of them in the back of the head if need be.

Paul's followers are not going to be shut up or decorous. Expect more of the same if Paul tries to steer a course more palatable to the GOP Mainstream. Such a divergence may destroy Paul's movement in its infancy if followers become disillusioned. One suspects this is what party officials and status quo types want to happen. The status quo always wins with an apathetic, demoralized population.

If the movement survives, however, it will not be as loyal to the GOP as Paul has been. It will probably become a 3rd party or could easily cause a civil war within the GOP, resulting in a 3rd party, even if it claims the GOP title. The Ron Paul movement could weaken the GOP as neoconservative, elderly, corporatist or Evangelical donors are no longer as generous to a more libertarian, more non-interventionist, less warlike party.

Such things have happened before- as NorthernWhigs became Republicans in the 1850s, or as Mainstream Democrats and Dixiecrats parted ways in the 1960s.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Does Ron Paul understand the movement he started? And does he understand what they are up against?

The Ron Paul's campaigners, evidently in response to recent demonstrations of ill will demonstrated at state conventions between Paul's followers and Mainstream GOP officials and party members, are stressing the need for decorum and respect. Brian Montopoli gives a good synopsis of the issue, arguing that Ron Paul is playing a political "long game." Montopoli references "Rand" (Randall, not Ayn Rand) Paul and his possible political future. Montopoli doesn't state this, but other sources believe Ron Paul's more conciliatory approach to the GOP might be because of Rand's future, even being based on concern about neoconservative retaliatory attacks against Paul fils.

What does Dr. Paul expect to accomplish by this tactic? Is it part of a long-term strategy involving Rand? It will not further Dr. Paul's goals, certainly not his foreign policy goals. Honey attracts more flies than vinegar, but even honey has its limitations in the face of entrenched economic interests and a worldview that is based on bellicosity, jingoism, and Messianism

After a brief dalliance with responsible, constructive spending practices, in which they went so far as to even suggest cutting Defense spending, the GOP and its Tea Party adjunct are back to their old bellicose spendthrift ways. Nobody should have been fooled by the rhetoric of last year, or surprised by this development. In related news, Dubya has recently returned from the Netherworld to talk about promoting "freedom", indicating that the brief era of GOP embarrassment is largely over.

As the GOP, including its Tea Party fishhead-eating, attic-dwelling, incestuous love-child,  have taught us in recent decades, acquiescence is usually taken as a sign of weakness, and will be exploited. While there are numerous complaints about government gridlock, it should be conceded that the GOP usually gets what it wants and the Democrats, far from appearing as reasonable partners, look like the GOP's bitch. In contemporary America compromise and bipartisanship invariably means strengthening what Justin Raimondo and Pat Buchanan have called the "war party," which is to say a group, mostly GOP, but with some Democrats and Independents, committed to an aggressive foreign policy.

So if Ron Paul is concerned with saving the GOP, even at the cost of sacrificing his ideals, it isn't certain that he understands the movement he started. As leader and followers tactically diverge, we may see people acting in Ron Paul's name or claims that Ron Paul is being advised by evil counselors. This is an old excuse- the good tsar led astray, or thwarted by bad boyars. A perusal of the comment threads on any number of left-leaning sites will show this reassuring idea is espoused by many Democrats, witness also the invocation of Reagan's name, being almost 'a what would Jesus do' question for the contemporary GOP.

Such responses will not be widespread, however, because Paul's movement has attracted people based on his ideas, not his ancestry or persona, or partisan tribalism. Ron Paul is not a marketing gimmick or chieftain of "our side." One doesn't encounter his followers making statements about how they are proud that the US has its first German-American President from Pennsylvania. Because of the emphasis on issues and not person or political tribe, Ron Paul doesn't have the leeway of other leaders to vary from his message.

If Dr. Paul departs from the message, makes friendly with Romney and the [often war-loving] Christian Right, don't expect his younger, more libertarian followers to pull a Tavis Smiley, and ask how they can "lovingly, respectfully push" their leader to address their concerns, in Smiley's case poverty. And because this is about ideas and not persona, if Rand Paul follows a course that is too mainstream GOP, but made necessary by the political realities of KY, he will find that sometimes political followers are not an inheritable commodity nor are they as patient as a political "long game" might require, seeing nothing to be gained by acquiescing to the neoconservatives and Evangelicals. 

The Smiley moderated debate, concerning poverty, linked to above, is a worthwhile watch.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Fun with Free Domain Books Vol 1: Walter Hines Page, shooting men into self-government!

He made no effort to conceal his violently pro-English
attitude. He even arrogated to himself, public servant
though he was, the right to pass upon the legitimacy
of American neutrality.  
C. Harley Grattan, "The Walter Hines Page Legend"

The great tide of the world will, by reason of the war,
now flow toward democracy- at present, alas! a tide of 
blood. For a century democracies and Liberal govern- 
ments have kept themselves too much isolated, trusting 
prematurely and too simply to international law and
treaties and Hague conventions. 
 Walter Hines Page, letter to President Wilson, Nov 24, 1916

Resources like Google Books, Project Gutenberg, Hathi Trust, and have changed the way the public utilizes older books and library research, further democratizing the inquiry into knowledge. While there will always be obscure materials, particularly archival materials, that will never be digitized, or not digitized for decades, the easy accessibility of materials from the 19th and early 20th centuries should encourage the greater use of primary materials instead of secondary interpretations or edited abstracts. 

Having such readily available access to older materials can teach you that, sadly, sometimes there is nothing new under the sun and nations do not learn from prior mistakes. I learned this by perusing the 3 volume collection of letters by Walter Hines Page. The volumes are available on since they were published before the Mickey Mouse Protection Act (I shit you not about the name) 1923 copyright cutoff date. Page's letters are the sort of stuff that makes you grind your teeth, scream "Page, you idiot" at the computer monitor, and feel really angry at a schmuck who died more than 9 decades ago. Basically, it's the reaction many a non-interventionist has when reading contemporary materials online; just change the author's name to bring it up to date.

Perhaps one might describe the history of 20th-Century American Exceptionalism and Foreign Policy as a series of grandiose fractals, that often fail their promise. Reading a letter, dated Nov 24, 1916, from Walter Hines Page to President Wilson was like perusing the inane scribblings that litter GOP and Democrat websites like so many peacock excremental offerings. Anyone who has seen the amount of poop coverage a single peacock is capable of producing will get my metaphor. Maybe our peacock had diarrhea; I'm not sure.

Walter Hines Page is one of those names that is stuffed somewhere in the back of your head. You know he did something, but you aren't sure if it involved ketchup or books about belles, kindly mammies, Nordic gallants and plantations. Walter Page's fellow Southerner, contemporary, and maybe relative or not (I could find no evidence linking them), was Thomas Nelson Page, adding to the confusion.

Thomas Nelson Page was the guy to go to for Moonlight and Magnolias. He was everything Mark Twain wasn't, and it's a good thing he died before Faulkner or Erskine Caldwell got famous. He might have challenged them to a duel for their abominations. Nobody would have been hurt, mind, if any of those desperadoes fought it out, but the lack of decent fighting skills would have been embarrassing for all concerned. TNP also worked for Woodrow Wilson as an ambassador. If you are not a Millennial, you probably encountered his "Marse Chan'" in American lit. Depending on your age and location, the material was taken seriously or was regarded with horror by your hippie Lit teacher. Be warned, though, if you read Marse Chan', you might cry big ole syrupy tears that'll gwine doan your face like 'lasses. Walter was also maudlin, he just wasn't maudlin like Thomas.

Walter Hines Page (1855-1918), journalist, cultural critic, and diplomat was a famous New South Progressive. Page is also credited with, along with the Dulles brothers' Anglophile Uncle Bob, he of the tweed and British elocution lessons, as being influential in getting the US to enter WW1 on the Allied side. Page was an Anglophile, or to quote H.L. Mencken, "the most maudlin Anglomaniac ever heard of."  

Page was certainly grandiose, and his letters show that his humor was of the non-ironic, non-original, campy and "safe" sort that people of action tend to prefer. George Jean Nathan captured Page's very American, very Progressive prose and grandiosity admirably when he wrote:

It is an outstanding mark of the democratic man that he puts trust in and believes not serious and profound ideas but rather hollow and superficial ideas seriously and profoundly expressed. It is not the content but the manner of articulation that wooes [sic] and fetches him. This is a secret sufficiently known, of course, to professors of the public emotion, and by its sedulous exercise they profit and prevail in the democratic community. It is as impossible to imagine the flourishing of a Disraeli in a democracy as it is to imagine a democracy without a Walter Hines Page.

This hasn't changed too much. Many Americans, even those of a self-depreciating, "laid back" humorous character, manifested so well by George W. Bush's political cowboy persona, can't deal with the sort of caustic, socially conscious, and profound wit of Mencken and his ilk. If they do accept it, it is only after it has been suitably tamed.

If you think Page is being unfairly treated, by all means peruse his materials. What you'll encounter is a sprightly personality, thoroughly infatuated with the British and flippant towards his fellow Americans and other poor souls trying to stop the Europeans from butchering each other. Page called those folks cranks, his spiritual descendants would call the same people crackpots.

The cranks were annoying, but minor obstacles to the world Page envisioned, a world dominated by the Anglo-Saxon nations, who, as allies, could impose their will on everyone (Vol 1, pg. 283):

Anything we'd say would go, whether we should say, "Come in out of the wet," or "Disarm." That might be the beginning of a real world-alliance and union to accomplish certain large results- disarmament, for instance, or arbitration- dozens of good things.  Of course, we'd have to draw and quarter the O'Gormans. But that ought to be done anyhow in the general interest of good sense in the world. We could force any nation into this "trust" that we wanted in it. [bold mine]

Dang those pesky Irish, holding up Page's plans for the world and the dozens of good things he wanted to be accomplished!

Page was remarkably prescient, his command to "come in out of the wet" is a basic part of the coercive international relation theory that informs contemporary US thought. Everyone must be a "responsible member" of the "international community." And listen up paleoconservatives, Page is generations before the rise of Jewish neoconservatives or Feminist politicians and bureaucrats, and Page was a white Southerner. As Paul Gottfried has written, an interventionist, messianic impulse is firmly grounded in Anglo-Saxon Protestantism.

If Page were alive today, he'd be all over Syria, R2P, and global inter-connectedness, totally Lindsay Graham style. In a manner reminiscent of contemporary American politicians and pundits, Page expressed his willingness to invade nations repeatedly to make sure they learned to practice democracy. Page, recounting a conversation with Sir Edward Grey, stated: (Vol 3, pg. 188):

The United States will be here two hundred years and it can continue to shoot men for that little space till they learn to vote and to rule themselves. I have never seen him laugh so heartily. Shooting men into self-government! [bold mine]

And the US is still doing it, and will continue to shoot men into self-government as long as it is profitable and politically advantageous. Another example of Page's puerile idiocy and lack of wit is his letter (Vol. 1, pgs. 13-14) to Edward M. House, or simply "House" as "Page" called him:

 Never mind about Bryan. Send him over here if you wish to get rid of him. He'll cut no more figure than a tar-baby at a Negro camp-meeting. If he had come while he was Secretary, I should have jumped off London Bridge and the country would have had one ambassador less [blogger note- if only!]. But I shall enjoy him now. You see some peace crank from the United States comes along every week- some crank or some gang of cranks. There've [sic] been two this week. Ever since the Daughters of the Dove of Peace met at The Hague, the game has become popular in America; and I haven't yet heard that a single one has been shot- so far. I think that some of them are likely soon to be hanged, however, because there are signs that they may come also from Germany. The same crowd that supplies money to buy labour-leaders and the press and to blow up factories in the United States keeps a good supply of peace-liars on tap. It'll be fun to watch Bryan perform and never suspect that anybody is lying to him or laughing at him; and he'll go home convinced that he's done the job and he'll let loose doves all over the land till they are as thick as English sparrows. Not even the President could teach him anything permanently. He can do no harm on this side of the world. It's only your side that's in any possible danger; and, if I read the signs right, there's a diminishing danger there. No, there's never yet come a moment when there was the slightest chance of peace. Did the Emperor not say last year that peace would come in October, and again this year in October? Since he said it, how can it come?

So a man trying to stop a war was a danger? Page was capable of this paradox because of his one-sided affinity with the British and demonization of the Germans. Page was far from being the objective, dispassionate observer his post and oath demanded. Page rationalized his abandonment of objectivity with grandiose schemes of Anglo-American imperial partnerships, with the US as equal partner (Vol. 2, 105-106). Just as with his idea of a coercive "trust" of nations, dominated by Anglophone countries, Page was prescient, but at what cost, and American hegemony was only achieved after WW2. So were two world wars and the rise of the USSR worth the price of Anglo-Saxon global hegemony?

To return to the letter, and to stress its contemporary appeal, let's make sure we have all the Fox and Friends bases covered: inane banter, hints that naive, ludicrous cranks (crackpots in today-speak) and pacifists have connections with unsavory foreigners, and a rude dismissal of persons of greater character and talent than the commentator who might threaten a lovely war. Henry Ford, despite his accomplishments, was just another crank to Page (Vol. 1, pg. 110) 

You might be expecting the further details to involve a discussion of the Jonas brothers, or whatever dreamy British gentleman Page had a crush on, but keep in mind this letter was written by a man around 60 years of age. The rest of the letter is more of the same, along with Page's theory of history. It was a "dark time" according to Page, but he still had "fun."

Certainly, the Germans did have domestic operatives at work in the US. But it was not a foregone conclusion that the US had to engage in hostilities with the Germans. And to cast aspersions on peace-makers, and belittle statesmen like William Jennings Bryan, was a sign of what a war-mongering little weasel Page was. Bryan was certainly on the wrong side at the Scopes Trial, but it is unfortunate that final incident overshadows his career. Particularly, in the run up to America's entry to WW1, Bryan was on the side of the angels.

As always, other people suffer when "big ideas" idiots filled with their own sense of self-importance wield too much power. Let's recall the century of needless suffering brought on by what Page thought was going to be a glorious war in the furtherance of Democracy. Feeling a little geopolitical deja vu?

For a contemporary, and deservedly unkind, analysis of Page's somewhat polished, but still Ransy Sniffle like role in egging the US to war, see C. Hartley Grattan's "The Walter Hines Page Legend" from the American Mercury, available on Google Books.  Perhaps this post wasn't objective, but primary sources are there to determine for yourself. In any event, in a nation dominated by the smug and self-righteous, who continually lead us into useless wars, prudish relativism is not an option. Page was evil, whatever his intentions.

Who punched who first?- Bias, Ron Paul's base, uppity youngsters and gerontocracy

 ...authority followeth old men, and favor and popularity youth.
Francis Bacon

In Norman, OK, at a GOP state convention, an elderly Mitt Romney supporter, described as 70 years of age, hit a Ron Paul supporter in the back of the head. This was in the context of a "spirited" convention. Reporters for the Washington Times and the Daily Caller described the confrontations as a brawl. A brawl, or fight, suggests that two individuals are involved, perhaps with one fighting back in self-defense. This was not the case. 

As a local news report, involving cellphone video footage, and linked to on the Daily Caller website, indicates, the Romney supporters, an aged male and older middle-aged female, were the aggressors in two separate incidents. So why wasn't this highlighted? Is it because of societal stereotypes that older people aren't violent? Is this the expected result of the anti-youth bias found in many gerontocratic systems?

Don't be fooled by the emphasis on youth in America's pop-culture. Idealization and worship of youth can easily coexist with gerontocratic socio-economic systems. Indeed, in those systems youth is praised and desired only in aesthetic areas. Young people are literally meant to stand around and look pretty or compete in athletic amusements, not to get involved in serious matters, like politics or economics, best left to their "disinterested" elders. When youngsters are allowed or encouraged to participate it is only in passive or supportive roles. They are expected to parrot the claims of their elders and help maintain the status quo, see Marc Rubio being a nice young man here and here.

One final thought:
Gerontocracy and all its derivatives need to be used a lot more in the public discourse. Gerontocratic and gerontocracies are still identified as spelling errors, despite being used in peer-review journals and in Wikipedia articles. A recent google search for the term "gerontocracy" gave only 27,900 results. This phenomenon is not being explored near enough.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Justification for War on Drugs is now full on retarded

East Coast Missile Defense to repel who? And bad Al Qaeda Puppy, bad!

In an unsurprising move, House Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee voted to rollback Defense cuts. The exigencies of doing away with government help for poor people made some politicians have to bite the bullet last year and pretend that even “Defense” spending could be subject to cuts, or at least discussion about the possibility of cuts, or pretense of moving cash around to pretend budgets were cut. Nobody should have been fooled, however. The Homeland is beset by enemies, many of them “Americans”, and to cut a single dollar from Defense spending would result in instant death and chaos to rival the return of Lord Cthulhu. 

The Pentagon, a known nest of pacifists and people who want to make the Homeland less safe, were evidently operating out of base or na├»ve motives when they said the US East Coast did not need a Missile Defense system. Rep. Michael Turner, Republican of Ohio, argued that Congress needed to proceed with missile defense “whether this president wants to or not.” Mr. Turner did not need to state the obvious, President Obama, a Mau Mau socialist radical, would try to thwart such defensive moves in order to leave the Homeland’s East Coast vulnerable to attack from… from… well, from someone bad. That  three of Rep Turner’s top 10 interests funding are directly related to the “Defense” Industry is a coincidence, and that he has other funding in the Tech industry, should only bear repeating as a sign of bad taste.

In other news, be afraid of Arabs with pets; they might be terrorists. And always remember, “if you see something, say something,” we are surrounded by enemies.

For an AP story on the necessary funding, including Turner’s quote, see:

For a breakdown of Rep Turner’s funding, to learn how his friends at Raytheon and Lockheed Martin help him out, and get an idea of where your government comes from, see:

For more on Arabs with pets motivated by a hatred of “Western values”, but not, I repeat not, our actions, see: