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May 24, 2005

The deal
Posted by Patrick at 05:18 PM * 186 comments

Victory for the Democrats, or giant steaming pile of monkey crap? You may want to sit down for this shocking news, but…left-leaning bloggers disagree.

Personally, I’m still thinking it over. Meanwhile, for some cogent blogospheric comments that haven’t already been quoted to death, click through to the extended entry.

Julia of Sisyphus Shrugged:

I suppose I should be more upset about this than I am, but the moderates basically told Frist to get stuffed, Frist looks immoderate without having handed his handlers anything they can use (like they give a rat’s ass whether Priscilla and Janice get jobs—more girls making decisions for men and one of them is, well, not white. This can’t be making them happy).

Also the Club for Growth and the religious right are going to do everything they can to gut the seven Republicans the next time they come up, which is less money for us to spend.

Of course, it means we get Priscilla and Janice, but let’s face it, we were gonna get Priscilla and Janice anyway.

So, the story is: a bunch of Republicans told their leadership to get stuffed.

It’ll have to do.

“DJW” at Lawyers, Guns, and Money:
There are those who are characterizing this a victory for the center. If by center, you mean “14 Senators who self-identify as centrist” than maybe you have a point. But if you mean “centrist politics” you’re dead wrong. Let’s be frank about what this deal did: fancy promises with out clauses big enough to drive Mack trucks through aside, this deal did one tangible thing: it sends three judges to the Senate floor for an up-or-down vote, which will quite likely put them on the Appellate court bench. Anyone who has been reading this blog (or many others) knows a little about these three judges, and knows that whatever they represent, it isn’t centrism. Let’s all stop and reflect on the fact we’ve reached a point that conceding to the demands of right-wing extremists in order to prevent said extremists from attempting an ill-concieved act of political self-immolation now counts as a victory for “centrism.”

[…] While it’s a cute line, can we please stop with “anything that pisses James Dobson off this much must be pretty good.” First of all, Dobson is always pissed off—it’s integral to his political strategy, and I suspect his personality as well. Moreover, we should never, ever take what he says at face value. Dobson’s sputtering is amusing, but let’s not draw any inferences from it.

Seeing the Forests’s Dave Johnson on the Republican senators who signed the “compromise”:
These Republican Senators have “burned” themselves with the far-right base of The Party. There is no going back for them. The Right does not forgive.
Rafe Colburn:
Here’s the bottom line, as I see it, on the compromise that has forestalled the application of the “nuclear option,” which would change Senate rules permitting unlimited debate of judicial nominees. If less than 5 Republicans had broken ranks with their leadership, there would have been no compromise, the nuclear option would have been exercised, and every Bush judicial nominee would be confirmed unless the Senate changes hands in 2006. It’s hard not to see that as a victory for the Democrats, no?
Max Sawicky:
It’s late for me and not all the cylinders are firing, but from what I can see this Senate deal looks like a giant steaming pile of monkey crap. As far as I can tell, we get the three wingnuts that everybody has been talking about—Pryor, Brown, and Owens—and maybe not two other nitwits. There seems to be no bar to squashing any future filibuster effort. Supposedly a filibuster might be permissable under “extraordinary” circumstances. That means not very many times, and there could be quite a few judgeships to fill with the deep bench of loonies on the Right.

I see some email urging me to spin this as a victory for the Dems. Please eat me. I’m more interested in whether it is a victory for the Dems. The point of opposition is to obstruct outrageous legislation and appointments. As far as I can see, the Dems have failed to do this, in return for a vague commitment from the GOP to forego a procedural vote that they can always take in the future, in the event opinions differ on the meaning of “extraordinary.” Ultimately, it is a recasting of the absurd deal we had heard about before: you retain the right to filibuster as long as you don’t do so.

I hope I’m wrong. If you disagree, tell me why and make me feel better.

Digby:
My only question going forward is this: if Janice Brown is not considered to be an “extraordinary circumstance” then who in the world could Bush possibly nominate who would be worse? Ann Coulter? (She does, after all, call herself a constitutional scholar.) I’m not sure that there are any judges who are to the right of Brown or who express more hostility not only to the constitution but to the enlightenment thought that guides it. The only thing absolutely worse would be to put an Islamic fundamentalist on the supreme court.

[…] In the end, politically, I think the filibuster showdown is a wash. The Republicans didn’t get to turn the Senate into the House of Representatives but they will get three unabashed idiots, racists and pre-modern troglodytes on the federal bench. It could have been worse.

More importantly, the fascist element, led by Dick Cheney, was denied the opportunity to flush another little piece of of our system of government down the toilet as a fun exercize of pure power. Each time these bastards rip out another bit our of the constitution or “change the rules” to favor one party government or “reinterpret” the law to favor Republicans, we move one step closer to a country that we will soon not be able to recognise as the one in which we grew up.

This action put that day off —- in the case of the nuclear option, maybe forever. That’s a good thing.

Nathan Newman:
This deal is perfect for the moderate GOPers. Filibusters are allowed only on judges that the moderate GOPers say may be filibustered. And those moderate GOPers get to vote against those candidates that are filibustered, playing the double game of keeping their conservative bona fides while claiming to uphold traditions of the Senate.

As for the moderate Dems? Nothing. They betrayed other Democrats while gaining no real new power. If the Democrats as a group had decided to go for the deal, it might have reflected a tactical win for the Democratic caucus, but this is just a stab in the back.

I understand that many folks see not losing the filibuster as the victory, but that just reflects the low standards of victory people have developed. Losing less has become the standard of success for progressives, unfortunately.

Steve Gilliard:
[W]ith 45 Senators, you can only do so much. Any deal is a good deal under those circumstances.

But that’s not why we won this.

This stopped James Dobson.

A lot of you are glossing over the point about how dangerous this man is to the Republic. He’s a theocrat and a dominionist. He wants to deny basic religious rights to anyone who isn’t a Christian, and the craven lust for power of Bill Frist has allowed this man unprecidented access to the levers of government.

Anyone who has any question about what he has planned just need to google the words Air Force Academy and religion. There, a clique of fundamentalists insult Jews and openly tries to convert others. The AFA is spitting distance from Focus on the Family headquarters. And despite the evidence of this open religious bigotry, the fundies on the AFA staff fired the chaplain who complained, sending her off to Okinawa or some such place.

Idiots like Janice Rogers Brown, if confirmed, will embarass themselves on the court with their insane rulings, kind of like the pathetic mess Clarence Thomas is.

But if Jim Dobson can pick judges, the Handmaid’s Tale comes a month closer.

[…] Dobson is the most dangerous man in America today. He has money, followers and access to the White House and Congress. And he is an absolute idiot. He understands nothing about America which is complex or subtle. 24 would confuse him, Desperate Housewives would be slander, Queer as Folk, gay propaganda. His vision of Ameica would be foreign to most of us.

[…] Forget the judges, even the SCOTUS, Dobson’s plans go way beyond that. He doesn’t want to just control judges. He wants to be the kingmaker of the GOP. He doesn’t just want conservative judges and legislators, he wants dominionist judges and legislators. He wants to make his endorsement critical for election. It’s that simple. He wants to be able to punish moderates and run slates of candidates loyal to him.

[…] What happened last night is that the GOP moderates woke from their two-month slumber and realized that Dobson was going to destroy their institution for his political gain. He doesn’t care about Congress, and he doesn’t have to live there.

You can argue the point about the Dems tactics. All I care about is one result, weakening James Dobson. All else is irrelevant.

Comments on The deal:
#1 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 05:49 PM:

I'm with Max. Julia: Frist doesn't care that seven repubs told him to get stuffed; he'll see to it that their careers die horribly (the only lasting positive I can see here) and crank another nutjob into the judicial breech so as to precipitate a second nucular option when the Dems filibuster. Digby: it's not been put off for long, I'll lay odds. Gilliard: huh? Sure, Dobson's scum, but he's not the only thing that matters. Come to that, I'm not convinced he's appreciably "weakened" by losing the support of seven GOP stooges, and he certainly isn't stopped.

All I see is three whackjobs on the bench in exchange for no nukes this time.

I'd love to be convinced I'm wrong, though.

#2 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 05:56 PM:

Note, of course, that the confusion of "breach" with "breech" is a generator of confusion almost as amusingly reliable as "prostrate" versus "prostate."

I will note that I don't think Frist has the power, by himself, to make very many Senators' careers "die horribly." Frist is a vehicle of others' agendas, not really a very effective actor in his own right.

None of which is meant to conclusively gainsay sennoma's overall point, a conclusion I'm alternately drawn to and repelled from.

#3 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 06:07 PM:

that the confusion of "breach" with "breech"

Does one not, er, crank (or something) bullets into the breech of at least some types of gun? That was the metaphor I was after, Frist firing nutjob judges at the Dems. There is no breach that I can think of into which to crank said nutjobs.

My bad, nonetheless, since my meaning was obviously not clear.

And you're not making me feel better, Patrick. I want to be wrong about this.

#4 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 06:11 PM:

I don't think Frist has the power, by himself, to make very many Senators' careers "die horribly."

Particularly since he's not (at this moment) planning to run for the Senate again when his term expires. At that point he becomes just one candidate in what's probably a wide-open Republican primary season. For the first time in years they don't have an anointed one ready to go.

#5 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 06:21 PM:

Well, it's "into the breach" in the St Crispin's Day speech in Henry V. Yeah, what did that Shakespeare guy know? We can run a Google plebescite:

"into the breech" -- 295,000 results

"into the breach" -- 9,270,000 results

The general sense of the phrase is to put something into a gap or hole, like a breach in the enemy's line. Yes?

#6 ::: aphrael ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 06:23 PM:

No, Frist doesn't have that power by himself; but there's an amazing amount of outrage in the conservative blogsphere, and if that's shared by the conservative grassroots activists, a number of these guys are going to be in severe political trouble.

I've even seen people call for *Frist's* ouster as majority leader over this.

#7 ::: Edd ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 06:31 PM:

"For the first time in years they don't have an anointed one ready to go."

I thought Jeb was being groomed as the next Great White Hope.

#8 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 06:33 PM:

The general sense of the phrase is to put something into a gap or hole, like a breach in the enemy's line. Yes?

Yes; like I said, my bad. I wasn't mangling the famous phrase but failing to realise that it would confuse my attempted imagery. If I'd known anything about guns I'd have said "into the magazine" or wherever it is one loads bullets, and then none of this would have happened.

#9 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 06:36 PM:

a Google plebescite

I says it as shouldn't, but is that like a Google plebiscite?

#10 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 06:39 PM:

Andy, dammit, I'd have paid money for that if you'd only emailed me first.

#11 ::: michelle db ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 06:58 PM:

Has anybody heard what a "extraordinary circumstance" is? Any hypothetical situations that would qualify?

#12 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 07:16 PM:

I heard ... the woman Senator from Louisiana... oh, yeah, now I remember: Senator Whatshername. I heard her on the radio today and she implied that the remaining nominees had been "discussed" -- among the 14 -- just, you know, so they could get an idea among themselves of what an "extraordinary circumstance" might be.

I had the definite impression that the fates of the entire 10 nominees have already been sealed among the 14. If true, I suppose we will have our definition of EC sometime in the future.

Though I should note that I don't really think any EC Standard has actually been established. I think EC is used here as a cover for already existing agreements among the 14.

Or, I am wrong about all of it.

#13 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 07:18 PM:

It is an iron law of online discourse that any post correcting someone else's spelling, grammar, or usage will itself contain an error of spelling, grammar, or usage.

#14 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 07:21 PM:

The Senator whose name Michael is reaching for is Mary Landrieu.

#15 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 07:22 PM:

Tenk yew.

#16 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 07:24 PM:

Frist is already claiming he doesn't have to follow the deal because he wasn't party to it or something, so he'll call foul if the Democrats even think of filibustering one of Bush's (even more extreme) judicial nominees, though how he'll do that without the votes of the Senators who are party to the deal (and who will presumably stick to it, right?) isn't exactly clear. (Via Julia.) —And I'm getting dizzy trying to figure out if this additional dollop of hubris is a good thing, or a bad sign.

And Graham (R-SC, and one of the 14 in question) was apparently hinting strongly that one of the Odious Three wouldn't pass the up-or-down. Getting dizzier...

#17 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 07:27 PM:

Um, actually, Frist just blew the doors off the deal: he's filed for clouture on Myers.

But you probably all read Atrios already, so hey.

#18 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 07:30 PM:

(He's indicated he's intending to file. Sorry.)

#19 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 08:12 PM:

I'm inclined to agree with Sennoma. The Dems have agreed to a deal that the GOPs can back out of down the line. And next time this comes up, there'll be this precedent; the GOP will threaten the nuclear option again, and striking another deal will be presented as the moderate compromise.

#20 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 08:16 PM:

Oh, man, pull up a chair.

Heh. It feels like Rome around here.

#21 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 08:34 PM:

When you are in a disadvantaged position, generally you cannot directly reach a position of victory; you have to widen the choice space in which you operate sufficiently to make a position of victory accessible to you from where you are presently standing.

If that's how Senator Reid is thinking of the problem, and if that's how the compromisers are thinking of the problem, then this might be a good thing, in some other world where the problem was fundamentally a matter of political differences.

In the general case, all of the Senate manoeuvring is superfluous; in the absence of fair elections, and in the presence of primarily Dominionist money backing the vote counting machines, there will eventually be a theocratic regime in the United States.

Since defeat is something that happens inside people's heads -- it's distinct from death that way -- and since the Dominionists will not give up for any reason short of direct orders by an incarnate god (and probably not then), this isn't fundamentally a political problem.

The Rule of Law only works when enough people agree that the benefits outweight the costs of losing; it doesn't work well at all when there are a lot of politically active people who consider the benefits -- equality before the law, tolerance, politics played for prestige, rather than lives, no ruling by decree -- to be actively negative things, to be done away with as soon as possible.

The social problem of what constitutes legitimacy, and why it's important to have the Supreme Court judges say that it's legal to require women to bear children inside Christian marriage, no option, even that is really secondary; this is the authoritarian demand for control of the mechanisms of authority, not a calculated drive to co-opt the existing mechanisms of legitimacy in service of a theocratic agenda.

#22 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 08:37 PM:

Umm, the deal gives giant steaming piles of monkey waste a bad name.

I think Avram has it right - it's only a matter of time before the whole story gets replayed and another bad compromise is reached. This sort of weakness bodes poorly for the next election cycle. If the Dems don't show some backbone, the GOP will eventually have 60 seats in the Senate and no further compromises will be necessary.

#23 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 09:07 PM:

Graydon, how do you propose the Dominionists will take over and control the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Boston and, I'm sure, a few others? Not to mention some whole states, of course.

#24 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 09:08 PM:

I will admit to being unclear on what purpose would have been served by the Senate Democrats refusing the compromise. Losing the filibuster would have deprived them of a procedural weapon that they might need even more in the future, without gaining them anything in the process. Wrapping oneself in the mantle of righteousness is all well and good, but not if it contributes to the destruction of the Senate as a functioning deliberative body.

Of course, if one is arguing from the assumption that the Republic is already dead and all that's left is to hold the wake and go home, then what the hell. Strike a noble pose, and burn the whole place down with the barbarians inside.

#25 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 09:16 PM:

I'd sum it up as a strategic retreat--painful, but it beats a full-scale rout. The radical right, has not yet been able to turn the USA into a single-party state, which is what abandoing the filibuster would mean, and it's a complete rout for the religious right: their Kingdom is still to come. On the other hand, it's a victory for the radical corporatists; they're getting at least two of their three favorite judges passed on to an up-or-down vote (I'm betting Janice Rogers Brown, the black libertarian woman, will be the one who won't be confirmed). To continue the military analogy, the conflict now turns on logistics--who can hold out longer. It is important, now, to the Democrats to start winning seats in Congress again. Even one Senator in 2006 might make the difference.

#26 ::: Sharon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 09:30 PM:

Strike a noble pose, and burn the whole place down with the barbarians inside.

This sounds awfully appealing...

I've swung back and forth between monkey crap and it-could-be-worse at least twelve times today. Guess that means I haven't made up my mind yet.

#27 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 09:43 PM:

Sharon, I am so there with you.

Debra, I think it's unfair to characterize those questioning the deal as "wrapping themselves in the mantle of righteousness." The questions being raised have to do with utility, pure and simple, not "righteousness."

I mean, I've spent much of my political life trying to convince maximalists of the case for pragmatic politics. But in this case I'm having a hard time seeing what the praxis of the people claiming to be pragmatists actually gains.

Michael, O sensible person, that remark about cities is perhaps the silliest thing I've ever seen you post. Exactly how many Senators do Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston control? While we're on the subject, how many units of the United States Army? The Air Force?

The American system of governance deliberately cripples the political power of cities--and, not incidentally, appropriates their wealth and redistributes it to rural idiots. This has been true since 1789. It's one of those ground-level facts of American political life.

#28 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 09:52 PM:

Okay, but how are the Dominionists going to take and control the cities? I'm just asking, is all. You think they're going to use the Army and the Air Force? They can't even control a country "the size of California". I mean, it's my impression that Dominionists are the ones who want to make America safe for white Christian people, right? It's not credible to me they can do that in the cities without the Army and the Air Force, and it's not credible to me they can do it even with the Army and the Air Force.

Do you think the city of New York would sit still for, as Graydon says, requiring "women to bear children inside Christian marriage, no option"?

If somebody wants to explain to me how they are going to manage that in a country this size with so many people, especially in the cities, unwilling to put up with that, then I'll be glad to stop being silly.

#29 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 09:58 PM:

As you know, Debra, I've believed ever since the attack on the Florida ballot handcount that the current regime doesn't expect to ever go out of power. You don't have political careerists personally and publicly breaking that many laws at once if they think there's any chance they'll ever be prosecuted for it.

This of course has disturbing implications in a political system that's still in theory a democracy, since open elections always imply the possibility that the incumbents will be turfed out.

Breaking one of the Senate's longstanding procedural mechanisms is disturbing in much the same way. The Senate is an expert system with complex interdependencies. If you're a senator looking forward to what you hope will be a long senatorial career, you know that a maneuver like the filibuster, which this year is more useful to one party, is inevitably going to be more useful to another party further on down the road. Heaven knows the Republicans have used the filibuster often enough themselves.

The only logical explanation I can see is that the people pushing for this change don't anticipate the long-term continuation of the Senate in its current form.

The same goes for the Republicans shutting Democratic legislators out of committee positions. If we had a functional national press, they'd have been screaming about that one, because it was an unprecedented power grab. Previously, you didn't shut the opposing party out of committee positions because you knew someday they'd come back into power, and when that happened it would be a good idea for them to know what was going on. Also, it meant that when the other guys came back into power (which eventually they always do), you yourself wouldn't be shut out of the action.

Even if I were a hardline Republican, I'd know the people who are doing this aren't on my side. It doesn't matter which policies are in theory being furthered. In a democracy, modifications to the basic system are a matter for clearly identified public debate, not privately-funded astroturf and plots hatched in secret.

#30 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 10:06 PM:

Michael --

They're going to do their best to get the Army, and whatever other citizens they can inspire to the task, to beat or shoot whomever will not obey, of course.

I don't think they'll necessarily succeed, but a decade and a half of steadily escalating eliminationist rhetoric isn't the sort of thing which happens by accident. (David Niewart's Orcinus at least used to be in the sidebar links, and he's done a lot of documenting of that rhetoric.)

Also, if the industrial and post-industrial economy has utterly collapsed, they can fall back on the good old traditional 'behave and get fed' version of social control. That one works pretty well.

So do a lot of things that aren't being done in Iraq because the US Army is fundamentally a war fighting organization, a tool for creating shock and psychological dislocation as much as destruction. Note that Rumsfeld seems determined, starting with Pentagon purges of senior leadership and continuing on through brigade organizations which basically make no sense from a power projection standpoint, to change this.

#31 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 10:17 PM:

Graydon -

Okay, so what you are talking about is complete collapse and civil war, in which case I will propose to you that there is nothing restraining anybody anymore. In that case -- and I can only speak for New York here, other cities will have to look out for themselves -- Governor Spitzer calls out the New York State National Guard to defend the state, and its greatest city. A call goes out from the good people of New York for aid from Canada and the European Union and, hell, we might as well throw Japan in there. They like New York.

I mean, there's a difference between the country going conservative and the country descending into Civil War. What you are talking about is something different than what's going on in this country at the moment.

And, I just want to make clear... nobody has to tell me things are dangerous right now. I'm the guy who's looking into stashing money overseas, as an act of prudence.

I also want to make clear that I believe that this is a very large country with power distributed among 50 states. It's true the bastards can take over the Imperial Capital. That does not mean they can rule an unwilling country, especially one as large and diverse as this one, with its power spread out between the 50 states.

Sure, if we are talking complete collapse, then anything could happen. But you aren't going to end up with a monolithic United States of Christian America. I don't know what you are going to end up with, but it isn't going to be that.

#32 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 10:32 PM:

Michael: hope you're right.

Meanwhile, I refer you to Teresa's observations. These people aren't behaving like they expect to ever lose power. Teresa has been making this point since November 2000 and I have yet to see anyone refute it (as opposed to ignoring it).

Graydon: The excellent Orcinus certainly is linked to from the blog you're reading right now. Don't your mighty open-source browsers have Find?

#33 ::: Dori ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 10:44 PM:

Governor Spitzer calls out the New York State National Guard to defend the state, and its greatest city.

And they respond, "Sorry, we're busy over here in Iraq."

#34 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 10:44 PM:

Patrick -

Well, on the one hand, what Teresa says makes a certain amount of sense. On the other hand, you can account for their indifference to looking toward the future (when they are out of power) as simple arrogance, incompetence, and stupidity.

These people fought for 30 years to get into power, and once they got it they cannot resist the urge to go mad with it. That could be for the reasons Teresa suggests, or it could be they are just idiots. They can believe they will never lose power all they want. A lot of people throughout history have thought that. None of them were ever right. I grant the point that very few of them were actually voted out of power. But I won't grant the point that it is somehow too late to vote these clowns out of power.

And I say that even though I follow closely Avedon's excellent work on the whole voting machines issue, and I grant it's very scary.

#35 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 10:46 PM:

Governor Spitzer calls out the New York State National Guard to defend the state, and its greatest city.

And they respond, "Sorry, we're busy over here in Iraq."

Along with the rest of the Army that is supposed to invade and hold NYC.

#36 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 10:50 PM:

Michael --

As a general historical thumb rule, it takes a committed 10% of the population to hold the rest down, provided there isn't active starvation or other sources of convulsive unrest. (Starvation isn't actually a reliable source of convulsive unrest, and religion has worked historically a few times, but neither is anything to count on.)

The Dominionists have -- by that value of committed -- about 20% of the American population. That's plenty much enough.

And, you know, you're right, we do like New York. But probably not enough to enter into a nuclear war with the Dominionists.

Which is what it would take to support any part of the US seceding; a lot of these folks are Neo-Confederates with serious 'admit we're good people and our slave-holding ancestors, too' issues.

The core issue is what confers the legitimacy to govern; the founding principle of the United States says 'consent of the governed'. The political movement which has taken over the Republican party is pushing 'anointed by God' as the basis for political legitimacy; this is in some sense a cynical ploy from the viewpoint of the very top leadership, but it is entirely sincerely held as a belief at the party operative level. That kind of thing is awfully hard to keep a lid on once it becomes a widespread internalized belief.

#37 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 10:56 PM:

Patrick --

Sure I've got find. (Three and a half flavours of same.) What I didn't have was an open tab with Making Light's front page, and it's ever so much easier to go 'copy link address' on the appropriate book mark to get the href value, and waffle a bit about one's memory of the sidebar links, than to open a new tab and load something in it.

#38 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 11:03 PM:

And, you know, you're right, we do like New York. But probably not enough to enter into a nuclear war with the Dominionists.

Okay, fine. That's the last of your Canola oil I buy.

As for your 10% or 20% controlling everybody else, okay, I'll take your word on it as a general historical principle. I just don't see it working in this country, is all. I mean, Kansas and whatever piece of that 10% or 20% it constitutes can pretty much eat me, here on 14th Street.

Your analysis of the effort to morph "consent of the governed" into "anointed by God" is correct, I think, but it ultimately won't work here. Or, if it does, then we're back to this not being the U.S. anymore, in which case we are just talking nightmare visions of the future. And, oh, I got plenty of those. They just don't happen to be yours.

#39 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 11:07 PM:

Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost

I haven't seen any good political news (except on the local level) in months.

I took the opportunity to ask Charles Rangel (D-NY) if he sees a way back from where we are. He thought there was, but he, who fought for Civil Rights in the darkest days, didn't seem sure. I, for whom this is the worst I've ever seen, don't see a way back. They don't think they'll ever be out of power ever again, and I'm not sure anymore they're wrong; I always thought Teresa was right about what they believed, but I was always sure that they were wrong, that one day the wheel would turn and they'd get their comeuppance.

Now, I suspect they may be right, either because of manueverings or because the world has shifted, and the Enlightenment (big E) has ended.

#40 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 11:12 PM:

How can Dominionists take control of major cities? By forcing states to fund the safety net, and stripping out funding for disapproved causes. Cities are always scramblng to cover a multitude of needs. If you've got car-swallowing potholes, and classrooms where the ceilings are falling in, neighborhood clinics are going to get short shrift.

If the feds put the financial thumbscrews on hospitals that don't follow Dominionist guidelines, a whole lot of treatment options not only won't be available; they won't even be mentioned. I don't know about the corporate ownership of firms that manufacture over-the-counter contraceptive supplies, but I know there aren't many companies in that business. I wouldn't bet they're immune to political pressure.

Thank goodness Planned Parenthood is privately funded.

These guys are going after mechanisms of social control. For instance, if they genuinely wanted to reduce the incidence of abortion and unwanted teen pregnancy, they'd support birth control education, which they don't. If on the other hand you want to make women less uppity, fear of unplanned pregnancy is a great way to do it.

I firmly believe there's a correlation between the advent of reliable and widely available contraception, and even more of one with access to abortion, and the loss of turf suffered by those light-in-the-upper-window gothic romances best characterized as "boy gets girl, girl gets really big house." Right around the time Roe vs. Wade was decided, those novels began to be supplanted on the paperback racks by bodice-rippers starring sexually active heroines who got out there and seized control of their own destinies.

In the older gothic romances, even a heroine with a nominally successful career will generally toss it aside in favor of wuv, twoo wuv, in the form of marriage to a wealthy man. It made sense at the time. A career is a much less attractive gamble if at any point over a twenty-year period you can get shot down by an unplanned pregnancy. Access to abortion changes that. Doesn't mean you like the idea. But you conduct your life more boldly if you know it's an option, because you're not risking catastrophe if you don't have your fallback position already in place.

Why did the sedate Fifties explode into the freewheeling Sixties? An overall rise in income had a lot to do with it. Turns out that as soon as people have resources to spare, they start getting up to all kinds of weird stuff.

I'm convinced that social control is a lot of the motivation behind the attack on Social Security. It's a lot easier to be brave and independent and entrepreneurial if there isn't a little voice in your head telling you that if you screw up, you'll die in a poorhouse. That goes double if you're female, or a person of color, or a member of some other deprecated category. Reinstating the fear of an impoverished old age would do wonders to clear the field for well-funded white guys with good connections, and thin out those pesky innovators who do so much to make life less predictable for large corporations.

#41 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 11:17 PM:

My only cavil with Teresa's logic is the assumption that the current regime has rationally considered the possibility of being thrown out and prosecuted for what they're doing. I think their mental processes may be closer to those of an unbalanced bank executive who starts (and continues) a career of embezzlement. They case the joint, first, as an abstract exercise. Maybe they're annoyed at the way the bank is run; and they fantasize that it wouldn't hurt to teach it a lesson. Anger, discontent, lust for money/power, or delusions of grandeur convince them that they can really neutralize system security. So they go for it.

When they think about consequences of their actions they may tell themselves that: 1) the target ("bank") won't really be harmed. They're heros protecting their class interests, 2) they can brazen their way out of anything, 3) if/when they actually lose power, they can buy their way out of prosecution. It won't happen to them. They're too big/special/on a mission from God.

#42 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 11:18 PM:

sennoma, believe me, I'm wildly uncomfortable with the place I came down to on this. Basically, we're having to trust that those seven are honorable, and that gives me the screaming horrors after five years of watching everyone who trusted that there were limits to what the Republican party was willing to do proved wrong.

Here's the thing, though. I don't think the Republican Senators have much use for Frist, and I'm increasingly thinking they don't have much use for the White House. They've been bombarded with demands to ignore their states and their voters, with nothing offered in return but the possibility that they won't be hung out to dry by the White House and the leadership, unless of course the White House and the leadership decide that there's some short-term advantage to hanging them out to dry.

What do these people have to offer moderates? If they play ball like perfect little minions they're still going to have primary challengers representing the far right trying to throw them out of office, and they're losing their crossover voters in droves.

If the leftward-most Republican Senators stay in line, they're screwed. If they move to something approaching the center, they've insulated themselves from the really astonishing unpopularity their party is gathering these days.

Besides, they're Senators. They like being Senators. Being a Senator means something. Being a Senator won't mean much when the Senate is an indefinitely-defined arm of the Executive Branch.

McCain is, I think, the most interesting case. He's clearly a yellow-dog Republican, and he's swallowed an awful lot of shit in the service of his party lately, but it's seemed to me more and more that he's starting to believe that the interests of the Republican party and the interests of the current leadership of the Republican party are different interests.

Also he's a man for the main chance, and the main chance for anyone who's not George Pataki or Jeb Bush is for the current leadership not to be in a position to impose a leader on the party when Bush leaves (crossesfingersprays)

Of course, if there's one thing I've learned in the last five years, it's that every time I think there's a downside limit to my disgust with these people something happens to move it lower. I wouldn't put it past them to be pulling a fast one.

It does seem to me, though, that in this case their own instincts for self-protection and their great and abiding love of their own importance make this an entirely reasonable thing for them to do, on their terms.

It's a pretty compelling argument, I think, but then the folks who supported the war thought they had one too. I'm not at all happy looking at the list of people whose opinions I really respect who disagree with me on this.

Still, those Senators are marked now. They're not going to get any mercy on the right.

I don't really see any of them as the self-sacrificing kind.

#43 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 11:23 PM:

BSD: go out and pick up Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism, by Susan Jacoby. The Enlightenment (big E) has been ending in this country for 200 years.

Except it's still here. That's because for 200 years people like us have been fighting to keep it around. It helps to be reminded you have philosophical ancestors in this fight. They do their best in this country to scrub our history of our philosophical ancestors, but if you read that book you will be surprised how many of the names you recognize.

And by how many you don't.

They want you to think you don't have any ancestors in this fight. You most definitely do. The fight has a long and glorious history, and you are being called to it right now, just like the rest of us.

Well, except it's past my bedtime so I'm retiring to behind the lines for now.

Oh, and Liberals of Religion will love that book too. In case anybody was wondering.

#44 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 11:24 PM:

Okay, a really good point from Digby:

The fact is that on the substance, this deal is a compromise that cuts both ways. That's what compromises usually do. But for Democrats, who have virtually no power anyway, it is as important to be seen as strong and resolute as it is to actually win. The game we are really playing is for 2006. Because let's face it, this is a Republican majority government and they can, if they really want to, do any damned thing they please whether we like it or not.

The far right and religious fanatic base is not going to convert to the Democratic party. We need to prove to the moderates, independents and western libertarians that we are tough enough. If James Dobson and Rush Limbaugh want to portray us as dragon slayers, more power to them. They have a big microphone. Let them use it to shout to the world about the big meanie Dems and the sniveling cowardly Republicans who buckled under to them. Works for me.

#45 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 11:29 PM:

I don't think it would be precisely accurate to characterize the deal as a giant steaming pile of monkey crap. It's more like a mixed bag.

#46 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 11:29 PM:

Lenny --

the voting machines with the unverifiable results are malice, and not stupidity.

Yes, it'd be more comfortable if we were seeing a combination of arrogance and stupidity, rather than ruthlessness and brutality not co-operating ideally in groups, but it isn't stupidity.

#47 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 11:34 PM:

I do hope that Patrick was using the phrase "rural idiots" as a term of art, rather than as a simple descriptive, because otherwise I would be forced to conclude that he was referring to the people I've chosen to live among, here in the upper reaches of New Hampshire where there aren't quite more moose than people but it sometimes seems that way.

#48 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 11:40 PM:

It was a joking reference to [whisper it] Karl Marx.

There you go--my future in the glue factory is assured.

#49 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 11:45 PM:

Lenny, when that many people are involved, you have to figure there's rational calculation going on.

Debra, Patrick couldn't possibly have had the townsfolk of Colebrook in mind when he said that. Last I looked, the place is full of sturdily self-sufficient people who nevertheless understand themselves to be in a state of necessary cooperation with their neighbors.

I suspect he was thinking of the kind of rural idiots we see a lot of back home, who rant on and on about freeloaders living on government subsidies, while they themselves are the recipients of federal subsidies for everything from the freeways that make their leapfrogging subdivisions possible, to their water priced at a tiny fraction of its actual cost.

#50 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2005, 11:48 PM:

politically, I think this agreement at least forces Frist into a position where he must choose to portray himself as an extremist by continuing to threaten the nuclear option and cast himself against moderate republicans, or go along with the deal and lose the religious right. Worst case, nothing has changed with regard to judicial nominees, but Frist can't run for president in 2008 and expect to win.

To me, that's a win.

Had frist pushed the nuclear option button before the deal was made, he would have rammed Brown and Owen into court, cast himself as the knight against the democratic "obstructionist" dragon, and won the votes of the religious right (and their money), and still appeal to moderate republican voters.

That we end up with a vote on Brown and Owen anyway is not any more of a loss than it would have been.

It sucks, but the brutal, hard logic of game theory says this was the best way to see Brown and Owen get a vote. (alien abduction of several key players for anal experiments being ruled out as an unrealistic option, of course)

#51 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 12:02 AM:

Michael, it's felt like Rome to me since the mid-90s, and I had hints of this as far back as 1984--someday I'll dig out the first article I wrote that speculated that the Reagan Revolution might have its Stalin. I think it's very clear that the "nuclear option" was intended as one of the steps along the way to a single party state. I also believe that the US radical right is self-destructing; their policies are unpopular and as people come into contact with the concrete results of their policies—pensions cut or entirely shut off, soliders coming home in coffins for no good reason, an increasingly invasive national security apparat--the radical right is losing support. But their self-destruction could take decades and I would like to help the process along.

Teresa, I think you discussion of social control is right on the mark; I would call it an authoritarian streak. In broad outline, I think it is accurate to say that these people intend to establish an aristocratic elite in the USA.

#52 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 12:06 AM:

Longtime readers of Electrolite and Making Light, to say nothing of rec.arts.sf.fandom, may well be staggered to hear me say I agree completely with Randolph Fritz.

#53 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 12:21 AM:

Graydon: I'm not attempting to excuse their acts of sabotage and brutality. I'm saying that there's a question in my mind as to whether they see themselves as Hitlers and Khans (although there does seem to be some circumstantial evidence that Bush identifies with Julius Caesar).

I think Cheney sees himself as a clerk doing necessary evil to protect the interests of his class. The "bank executive jiggering the books" thing is a metaphor that I'd apply to their attempts to cover their tracks after making stupid, impulsive decisions. I think the component of "we want what we want when we want it -- oops" is larger than "think of a boot stamping on the face of humanity, forever." Either way, they're committing heinous crimes -- so second-guessing their motivation may be irrelevant. But I'm skeptical about making them into Sith Lords to explain what they do.

Bush's rationale for his Social Security plan, for instance, might be explained as a panic reaction to his dawning awareness that he's run up a 6 trillion dollar debt. And he doesn't want to reimburse the Social Security trust fund for all the money he's looted out of it. This seems, to me, to be a more believable explanation for his actions than the notion of a plan with the explicit goal of crippling American small business -- written by three guys wearing hoods. Most of the financial policies of the Bush administration ultimately entail crippling consequences -- but I'm not sure they tell themselves that that's why they're doing it.

#54 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 12:27 AM:

I'm not idealizing rural N.H. but one of the things I miss is that there's mostly an assumption that people are well-intentioned, that you should mind your own business, but be ready to help the fellow up the road when his car won't start/plow didn't make it that far/kid's sick, and never mind his religion/race/politics or taste in music.

That and the fact that I could bring some muffins to the new neighbor without being asked if I was with a religious cult.

#55 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 12:30 AM:

I think the real power behind the culture wars isn't an aversion to specific novel social behaviors. I think it's a war on the conditions of liberty that enable those behaviors to exist.


As I keep saying, I think the real division in politics is between people who'd rather be relatively prosperous members of a prosperous society, and people who'd rather be one of the few prosperous members of a poorer society. I'm happy if we all grow richer together, even if it means that some people use their prosperity to engage in all kinds of unimaginable hijinks.

What I've gradually come to accept, and it's taken some doing, is that there are people who think otherwise. I'm not sure why they do. I just know they exist.

#56 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 12:33 AM:

Patrick Wrote:

I refer you to Teresa's observations. These people aren't behaving like they expect to ever lose power. Teresa has been making this point since November 2000 and I have yet to see anyone refute it (as opposed to ignoring it).

Yeah, I know, and mostly it terrifies me because she's right. But then I remember I teach their kids and I'm seeing a lot of them reading some things that mommy and daddy wouldn't approve, and it gives me a little bit of hope.

On the other hand, I just had a confessed plagiarizer ask me for a Law school recommendation. I said "Yeah, sure. I'll write a letter."

#57 ::: Dori ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 12:43 AM:

On the other hand, I just had a confessed plagiarizer ask me for a Law school recommendation. I said "Yeah, sure. I'll write a letter."

But was it an original letter? I would be sooo tempted to put something in there that would warn them off.

As for these people not expecting to lose power, I have to think that Dominionism explains most or all of it. If you honestly thought that the world was going to end in the next few years, is there any good reason not to run up the credit card balance?

#58 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 12:58 AM:

Dori asks:
But was it an original letter?

I wrote a letter that did exactly what the prompt asked me to do; describe my experience with the student, my opinion of his ability and likelihood of success in law school as his contribution to society as an attorney.

None were what I'd call positive.

#59 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 01:07 AM:

Dori: If you honestly thought that the world was going to end in the next few years, is there any good reason not to run up the credit card balance?

Or to help armageddon along, in God's name of course. The recent news about bullying evangelical chaplains at the USAF academy makes me wonder about the men and women who are responsible for our nuclear arsenal. Or at least for the delivery mechanisms. Technically, I think the bombs belong to the Department of Energy.

#60 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 01:33 AM:

Teresa--

If there's a difference between your Hayden posts and your Haydent posts, I'm too dense to discern it.

#61 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 07:20 AM:

This is dystopia, remember? This is one of those alternate history scenarios in which all hell breaks loose in novelistically interesting ways because so and so won. Did you really think the Democrats could save us once Bush was re-elected?

#62 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 07:55 AM:

Simple analysis: The democrats have lost badly, indeed, they may as well stay home.

On paper, the right to filibuster exist -- but.

The deal, assuming both sides hold, requires this:

If the GOP 7 agree that "Extraordinary Circumstances" exists, they'll not vote for cloture or the nuclear option.

If the GOP 7 do not, the Dem 7 are required to vote for cloture.

Before deal, it took 40 Senators agreeing to stop a nomination.

After deal, it takes all the Democrats, plus the GOP 7 (or lose on and the Independant) to stop a nomination. The only difference between this and outright voting the nominee down is a scant of political cover for the GOP 7.

Now, the 14 are talking a social security deal, lead by Lindsey Graham.

So. What this deal really means: Ried and Company can go home. They've been made redundant. The power in the senate is shared between the Frist GOP and the dealmaking 14.

Rove just got his biggest Christmas Present ever: Democratic Cover for Social Security reform *and* just about carte blanche judical approval.

Frist now gets to use the fact that some judges may not get approved as a bully pulpit during the 2006 elections, and the Freepers/Theocrats will be that much more fired up. The unholy alliance between them holds. Frist also doesn't take the heat for breaking the rules, not that his core would care about such.

The filibuster has as much power as the Queen's Assent: It hold power only as long as it isn't used. If it is used without approval, it will be removed.

I can see the hooded figure of Rove enthroned, starting out the window now, saying to Cheney "It all goes as I have forseen."

#63 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 08:36 AM:

Teresa writes:
Lenny, when that many people are involved, you have to figure there's rational calculation going on.

Funny, I would say almost exactly the opposite.

#64 ::: ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 09:29 AM:

Teresa writes: "If you've got car-swallowing potholes, and classrooms where the ceilings are falling in, neighborhood clinics are going to get short shrift."

Sometimes you scare me. I live in Missouri, which some folks here may know is planning on getting rid of all medicaid, as well as all child abuse intake centers (yep, all of them) and other social services. Our roads are so bad in my city that rickety metal plates cover deep gaping holes on major roads. It took a special bill to fund repairs--there just was no other money. One year, I lost *both* axels to potholes. Our local schools waffle between acredidation and unaccredidation; the feds threaten to take them over from time to time.

Missouri does what it has to do to cover what it can. If the feds said no more birth control, we'd do it. I'm not saying I agree with Missouri's choices of priorities (I'd prefer a tax increase) but boy can I see how we're ripe to fall. I offer this as food for thought for those who think the cities can stand strong against Dominionists.

I suspect the Dems have their eye on the Supreme Court; it's the last protection of the Constitution. If it means letting in evil lower judges, well okay. Seems like no good options to me.

#65 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 09:54 AM:

Missouri does what it has to do to cover what it can. If the feds said no more birth control, we'd do it.

Well, you know Missouri better than I do, but my guess is that the good people of Missouri wouldn't put up with a Diktat like that coming down from the federal government. I lived in Iowa for three years and saw a bunch of the state and look, I'm the first to suspect Peoples are Sheeples, but I think we are underestimating the willingness and ability of the American people to tell people interfering with their lives to that degree where they can shove it.

I understand the economic arguments. I understand the axe the federal government can hold over the heads of the states and the cities. I also understand that Americans, when push comes to shove, know how to tell authority figures to eff off. Most of the wealth of the federal government comes from the states and cities themselves. This is far from being a one-way street here. When people decide to stop being victimized by the Imperial Capital, they not only can do something about it, they will do something about it.

#66 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 09:55 AM:

Michael is putting a lot of stock in the natural-born fighting contrariness of people in general, and Americans in particular. I'm sympathetic to this view. I hope he's right.

#67 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 10:30 AM:

Chad, rational calculation isn't the only thing going on, but some of those people are bound to be doing it.

Elizabeth, that's happening all over. The Bush regime has dumped all kinds of social-service burdens onto the states, and the states can't fund them. It was a beautifully cynical move: the states have been scrambling to cover the shortfall while gradually giving ground, so the magnitude of the disaster has only slowly become apparent. In the meantime, Bush & Co.'s friends have been doing a fast job of looting the country.

Huh. I've suddenly realized that I know the form of this scam: it's a blowout.

Here's the deal: Your basic blowout starts when crooks take control of a legitimate business that has a good credit rating, most often by entering into an agreement to buy it from its original owners, and possibly making a token initial payment.

In the next phase, the crooks start placing large orders for easily liquidated merchandise with the business's regular suppliers, and also with new suppliers who think they've acquired a valuable new customer. And since the orders are coming from an established business with a good credit rating, the suppliers don't ask for payment up front.

Meanwhile, the goods are being resold as fast as they come in, often at a fraction of their value. It's hugely wasteful, but the crooks don't care. Essentially, they're selling off other people's stuff and keeping the money, so anything they make off the deal is pure profit for them.

The suppliers send in their bills in due course, and meet with delays in payment. That's not an uncommon thing; and in the meantime, nobody wants to lose a customer that's obviously doing so much business. It takes some time for suppliers to start balking, and more time for them to start aggressive collection procedures.

At that point the business's new owners vanish, and all the money vanishes with them. Since they've never actually paid the agreed-upon price for the business, it reverts to the original owners. Unfortunately, what they get back is a plundered company that's deeply in debt to its suppliers and has a wrecked credit rating.

Thus with the national situation. The looting has been swift and efficient, but it's taken a while for the full extent of the plundering to become apparent. We're going to be feeling this one for a long time to come.

#68 ::: ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 10:38 AM:

Michael,
I hope you're right, too. I'm not coming from the perspective that people of Missouri are Sheeples; I think they're poor and desperate. I think they choose the best of the wretched options available; if the feds force an ugly rider onto something important enough, they'll go for what saves as many people as they can, because they're good people.

Most of the wealth *does* come from the cities and states themselves; but it doesn't come from Missouri. If push comes to shove, we would not have enough resources to do it ourselves. I agree that a state like New Jersey surely could tell the feds to stick it. But Missouri telling the feds to f-off would cost us schools, roads, ambulance services, trade, etc.

#69 ::: Barry@yahoo.com ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 11:21 AM:

And that's where the GOPtists come in. They preach that what is required by the Fed is actually required by God, and that those who oppose it oppose God. They also set up a lot of federally-funded operations, and say that they can take care of things better than the government could. The appointees of the government will agree, and those bureaucrats who disagree will be replaced by more aggreable people.

These operations don't have to perform as well as the federal government, of course - the necessary data will be generated, and (again, of course) those who insist on rigorous data and analysis are probably Latte-Sipping Blue Stater Eviloooshunists.

This gives the GOPtists lots of money, little accountability, and increased social and political power.

#70 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 01:32 PM:

Teresa: The only logical explanation I can see is that the people pushing for this change don't anticipate the long-term continuation of the Senate in its current form.

My feeling exactly. There is a faction in the right wing of American politics, though I'm not sure just how powerful it really is, that wants All The Power Forever -- as Randolph puts it, to install an aristocracy. This fills me with a horror I find difficult to articulate.

Digby's point (via Patrick above) is soothing to me, though, as is talk of the "natural-born fighting contrariness of people in general, and Americans in particular".

Erik's analysis, oddly, seems to offer another gleam of hope, when combined with julia's comments about McCain and the fact that the GOP7 have passed a point of no return with their unforgiving party. There appears to be a widening rift between the hardline, largely Christianist, compromise-allergic right wing of the GOP and more moderate Republicans. Could the GOP7 be positioning themselves for a split? Even if it's not a split into separate parties, real conflict between two GOP factions -- say, Jeb vs. McCain in the primaries -- would be good news for thinking people everywhere.

#71 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 02:05 PM:

Eric, re your post here, did McCain honestly believe that it was important to save the filibuster and swung a deal with enough Dems and Repubs to make it happen? Or was he a double-agent for Frist, presenting himself as saviour of the filibuster to dems while telling moderate repubs that his plan will buy the Senate for the religious right?

If the second is true, then nothing matters, and tyranny is inevitable, it's only a question of when it will happen, or if it already did, when we finally become aware of the truth.

If the first is true, then there is hope. 7 republicans broke from the party line to save the filibuster from Frist, denying him a feather in his cap for his 2008 presidential run, and denying a republican monopoly in the Senate. That republicans told Bush to consult the senate before submitting any new nominees seems to indicate a break from towing the republican party line.

As cynical as I usually am, I'm feeling like I'm the most optimistic person on this thread, which is freaking me out a bit.

#72 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 02:08 PM:

Teresa: "Huh. I've suddenly realized that I know the form of this scam: it's a blowout."

God, that is frightening. That is exactly what is happening. With the same terrible consequences to the rightful owners. Brace yourselves.

And I'd like to think that the GOP7 would have a chance in hell against the corporate big money/dominionist grassroots alliance, but I really can't see it. On the other hand, it might be tempting to an awful lot of rightish swing voters who are embarassed about the whole Schiavo thing--polls show that there certainly are a lot of them.

It certainly would be nice to have an opposition party that wasn't insane.

#73 ::: Grand Moff Tarkin ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 02:10 PM:

I've just received word that the Emperor has dissolved the Imperial Senate permanently--sweeping away the last vestiges of the Old Republic.

#74 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 02:31 PM:

This is off-topic, but since Patrick called out Teresa's comments on abortion, I wanted to share something I read recently:

"What sort of woman was most likely to take advantage of Roe v Wade?" the book asks. "Very often she was unmarried or in her teens or poor, and sometimes all three ... In other words, the very factors that drove millions of American women to have an abortion also seemed to predict that their children, had they been born, would have led unhappy and possibly criminal lives ... In the early 1990s, just as the first cohort of children born after Roe v Wade was hitting its late teen years—the years during which young men enter their criminal prime—the rate of crime began to fall."

From the Economist review of Freakanomics by Steven D. Levitt.

#75 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 02:34 PM:

this is how democracy ends, with thunderous applause...

you're either with me, or you're.. my enemy...

#76 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 02:57 PM:

Sorry Greg. You have to be a really bad actor to do those lines justice.

#77 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 03:02 PM:

I can be bad. Oh please let me be bad. I'm so bad, I need a spanking...

wait. I think I just changed genres there...

Never mind.

#78 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 03:02 PM:

Patrick: re your analysis of Michael, I fear you're both wrong. We've been too comfortable for too long. By the time we rip our attention away from the Internet, tv, and backyard bbqs it may very well be too late. In this case American exceptionalism is on their side: we're too great and wonderful and special for that to happen here. I see that everywhere I look outside the cities and/or coasts. I said once on my own blog that the American heartland is full of decent people who won't believe the indecency going on because they think everyone else is just like them. But that once they realize they've been lied to their wrath is terrible. Only I don't think they're going to realize in time that they've been lied to. Vide Jerry in that other thread.

MKK

#79 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 03:25 PM:

As far as controlling the cities is concerned, I don't have a mechanism in mind--I just know that sufficiently crazed governments will wreck their own countries. I'm thinking about Pol Pot and the Taliban. The cities do not have the capacity to defend themselves militarily. It may be a shame that the US has a firm tradition of the military not getting involved in politics.

Teresa, in re: Thank goodness Planned Parenthood is privately funded. This relates to something that's made me twitch about single payer medical care--even if it's good for a while, the centralization makes it vulnerable. In the past, when I've mentioned this to people who believe in single payer, they just seem to get angry, but I believe it's time to lean on the idea a little harder.

So far as what the current administration has in mind, Dominationism is somewhat plausible and very scary, but there's also a weird impulsiveness at the top. Maybe the two go together--we're not talking about a dream of Lawful Evil, we're talking about people who want to be in charge because they want to do what they bloody well please. It may be a mercy of sorts that they don't seem to have much sense. If they had some discipline and the ability to focus on anything but short-term victory, they'd be even more dangerous.

Alternatively, any possbility that the current administration is fueled by coke or meth or somesuch?

As for a blow-out scam: I've been concerned for some time that eventually someone would go over the books for the Federal Govenment and discover that all the money had been stolen. Since then, I've heard that there are no books for the Iraq War, or at least that the records are so confused that the money can't be tracked.

And now for one itty bitty ray of hope: this is happening because a good many people were talked into believing they should support a more authoritarian society. Any thoughts about how they can be talked out of it?

#80 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 03:39 PM:

PNH quoting Digby: If James Dobson and Rush Limbaugh want to portray us as dragon slayers, more power to them.

That's a pleasant surprise, and the second thing in the last few days that's got me thinking that the talking-points fax machine at GOPHQ must be on the fritz. The first was James Watt talking about "the religious left" in the Washington Post over the weekend.

#81 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 03:40 PM:

I recall a lesson from Viable Paradise VIII. The rule of thumb was that if you had a somewhat sympathetic character and you (as author) needed that character to die but you didn't want to lose your readers, then one good way to prep the reader for the loss was to have that character whine. It causes people to lose sympathy with the character, and then when the character dies, it isn't such a problem.

I don't have a very good definition of what exactly is and is not whining, but waxing poetic about the endtimes of the world because of the current state of the (republican) union seems to be in the ballpark.

Whining, it would seem to me, is the antithesis of being a progressive. Where a progressive is moving forward, a whiner is looking back and immovable.

And so I go back to one of my recent posts:
"I'll take 'righteous anger' for $200, Alex."


#82 ::: Mac ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 03:46 PM:

Mary Kay said: By the time we rip our attention away from the Internet, tv, and backyard bbqs it may very well be too late. In this case American exceptionalism is on their side: we're too great and wonderful and special for that to happen here.

I worry about that too. I'm in Washington state, where the Repubs have challenged the results of the gubernatorial election in court (yes, from wayyyy back in November...) The race between Rossi(R) and Gregoire(D) was very close in all the vote counts. Rossi won twice in the machine-counts, then finally Gregoire in the hand-tally.

There's currently a very real possibility that the final election results in favor of Gregoire will be eventually overturned in court--the choice of venue for the arguments is another matter altogether. At least one set of hearings was held in a tiny town halfway across the state from Olympia.

However it turns out, it's going to end up in the state Supreme Court for sure.

But you hear next to nothing about the whole process on any of the local news. Local public radio mentions it pretty frequently, but that's about it.

They aren't arguing that the results are incorrect--they're splitting hairs about who gets to vote. And since the election came down to a margin of less than 200 votes total--it's a tiny percentage of error to play with.

Understand, they are NOT talking about recounting yet again--essentially, the argument is that illegal voters in the past (ineligible former felons, etc) tend to vote such-and-such a percentage Democrat, and thus-and-such a percentage Republican, therefore, if x number of voters this year were ineligible, then by those percentages, we can throw those votes out, and Rossi wins after all.)

If the election ends up overturned on these grounds, it seems to set a terrifying precedent--at least on the local level.

And I work with people who aren't even aware that the matter is in court.

#83 ::: David W. ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 03:50 PM:

I can be bad. Oh please let me be bad. I'm so bad, I need a spanking...

wait. I think I just changed genres there...

Never mind.

Wait just a minute there. You're not getting out of this until we get to the oral sex...

#84 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 03:54 PM:

...one good way to prep the reader for the loss was to have that character whine.

And the lesson continueth: "... or smirk." But we've seen plenty of smirking from GWB, and although it enrages me, it didn't hurt (enough) in November. But maybe smirk and whine?

Maybe we need some dogs to tell us that Bush is wrong. Because, you know, dogs never lie.

Of course, the administration has been paying plenty of attention to the lessons of VP, too: "If the plot moves fast enough, people won't notice the missing details."

My god. You know what the left's problem is? Too much exposition.

Okay, I'm off to write the Grand Unified Theory of Writing Advice and Modern American Politics. Patrick, that Columbus story will be a little more late. (The cat: "uh oh.")

#85 ::: David W. ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 03:54 PM:

Given how the Social Security surplus is now being converted into big fat tax breaks for the wealthy, the "blowout" is already a reality. Blue dresses all around...

#86 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 04:00 PM:

Mary Kay said: I said once on my own blog that the American heartland is full of decent people who won't believe the indecency going on because they think everyone else is just like them.

There's a song by the Canadian band the Arrogant Worms, called Killer Robots from Venus:

I was watching the news last night
I saw something funny
The killer robots from--somewhere--just invaded Montreal
I wonder, could it be my neighbors, the killer robots from Venus?
Could it be them after all?
No, they're so nice!


No! There's nothing wrong with killer robots from Venus
They applauded for my kid at the Christmas play
(he was the best shepherd)
No! They're nothing wrong with killer robots from Venus
You may disagree, but I think they're A-okay.

And, uh, that's my theory about the administration. They seem so...nice. Particularly since "Christian" still means "nice" in large swathes of the country. So any bad things couldn't possibly be THEIR fault. Right?

Mostly I suspect my snarky whiner side just likes thinking of the current administration as killer robots from Venus.

#87 ::: aw ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 04:05 PM:

NYC and New Jersey could be subdued very easily: a "terrorist" attack on a chlorine plant.

#88 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 04:09 PM:

My $.02 worth.

The governor of Minnesota, Pawlenty, may have just cut his own throat and didn't realize it. He is so beholden to the "no new tax" pledge and the so-called taxpayer's league that he vetoed a popular transit funding bill. He now has the emnity of the business community, which in Minnesota was the original base for the Republicans. Businesses need roads, and a good bus system so that their workers can get to their jobs. He is angering the churches; good Minnesota Lutherans are very big on helping the needy. And we have optical scanners for voting, and lots of oversite. I think this country will fracture along thse lines. In some states, the Republicans never got a toehold or will get tossed out. There will be major differences between living in Minnesota and living in Missouri, unfortunately. Just as Europe is getting together, we will be falling apart.

#89 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 04:11 PM:

A couple of points:

1. On the control of recalcitrant populations, i. e. New York City. When the only food to be had is being handed out down at the Church of the Redeemer, you will go down there and stand in line and sing the stupid hymns, too, because your children's hunger is orders of magnitude stronger than your pride. I recall reading somewhere that the average North American city had only seventy-two hours of food within the city limits--I may well be mistaken.

Also, please don't forget how incremental this process is. I saw an episode of Frontline dealing with the run-up to the first Gulf War, and the truly amazing thing about it was how adult and polite the players were. Rush and Newt will likely be damned by history for their poisoning of the well of politics.

2. Trying to ascribe a single motive to the current holders-of-power is like sorting your books by color. Some few people, most notably Karl Rove, have mangaged to herd the cats of pro-life fundies, corporate welfare queens, neoconservatives, military adventurists, and the worshippers of Reagan in the same direction for long enough to get his post turtle in place. Not real different from a Democratic administration...except that some of the cats seriously believe that this country was a better place during the fifties--the eighteen fifties, that is.

My particular nightmare scenario is that our approaching fiscal train wreck will be taken advantage of by a real theocratic demagogue. It's worked before...

#90 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 04:16 PM:

Any variant that can roughly be translated to "I'm helpless" or "There's nothing I can do about it" would also seem to qualify as within the kill radius of "whining".

#91 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 04:21 PM:

In regards to Teresa's comments on social control of women: I think the Pill was even more important than abortion rights. Never before has there been a highly effective form of prevention, under the control of the woman.

While Patrick is front-paging great comments, how about the one about "blowout" scams? Although I think the current situation is closer to an up-front raid, including hollowing out the pension fund, and selling off assets at deep discounts to cronies.

#92 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 04:41 PM:

Gawd, I have to take a break from this place.

Nobody is more concerned than I am about how things are going. It's not like I'm a PollyAnna or anything. I think readers of my blog will know that. And it's not like I don't recall the siege of Stalingrad or the burning of Atlanta or anything.

But jeez. It's like huddling in a damp basement where our best hope is that one of our damaged tribe has managed to find a bit of unburnt candle while scavenging the ruins of the city. Now all we need is for somebody to find a dry match.

Okay, it's bad already. I give. (But only for the rest of the afternoon.)

#93 ::: Ben Ryan ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 04:49 PM:

Simple analysis: The democrats have lost badly, indeed, they may as well stay home.
On paper, the right to filibuster exist -- but.
The deal, assuming both sides hold, requires this:
If the GOP 7 agree that "Extraordinary Circumstances" exists, they'll not vote for cloture or the nuclear option.
If the GOP 7 do not, the Dem 7 are required to vote for cloture.

Not quite. What the deal concerns is merely the status of the nominations currently in play. The 7 Democrats agreed to vote for cloture on Owen, Brown, and Pryor. The 7 Republicans agreed not to go nuclear over the continued filibuster (and thus death) of the Myers and Saad nominations.

(Re: Kip's comment, "actually, Frist just blew the doors off the deal: he's filed for clouture on Myers." - So this means that Frist literally doesn't have the power to break the deal, as he doesn't have the votes to go nuclear over these two nominations.)

The ultimate question on the filibuster hasn't been addressed, as the rhetoric about "extraordinary circumstances" is deliberately meaningless - both sides are free to interpret that as they see fit. Which means that the filibuster question returns the next time Republicans and Democrats disagree on who is an extraordinarily bad nominee.

So does kicking this can down the road constitute a win for the Democrats? I'd say yes, narrowly. While we get some bad people on the appelate courts, we've taken a lot of steam out of the Religious Right juggernaut, and dispelled some of the aura of invincibility. We live to fight another day. We'll see in the coming days and weeks how much that matters.

One last point - to those arguing that we should have stood our ground and called the nuclear bluff, I have to say I'm very dubious.

Perhaps we could have trusted a small number of moderate Republicans to vote their conscience anyway and save the filibuster. But trusting in the consciences of moderate Republicans has been a mug's game for quite a while now.

And perhaps the removal of the filibuster would have finally triggered voter antipathy to Republican overreach, and swept the Democrats into power in 2006. But honestly, people. How many times have we said or thought, "At last, here is the outrage that exposes these bastards as the corrupt predators they really are!" only to find that the voting public had already changed the channel back to Trading Spaces?

Depending on the self-interest of either moderate Republicans or the general public to all of a sudden take an enlightened turn has gotten us nowhere for a decade. We need a different strategy. For now, I'll accept this as the least bad option.

#94 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 04:57 PM:

Pitchout.

As a reader of stories, I hate to feel that the author is gaming the narrative to appeal to some shadow set of reader preferences. If the story wants the character to die, the character should die. If the character makes more sense as a whiner or smirker, put that in. If the story isn't telling you that about the character, then don't put it in.

OK. Back to exposing the unpleasant consequences that follow from people who can't handle freedom developing (being given?) the ability to impose social control systems.

#95 ::: Jay Beaton ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 05:05 PM:

Teresa,

Josh Marshall wrote about this back in December of 2003:

The Medicare bill is a Washington-style mafia bustout

"Say you’re a gambler and I’m a mobster. I’ve lent you lots of money. But now you can’t cover your debt. I could pursue the matter through your kneecaps or toss you out of an office window, but instead I take a more constructive approach.

You own a shoe store. I take it over your operation, order everything under the sun and fence all the merchandise for as much money as I can get as quickly as I can. I run out every line of credit you have and generally squeeze the place of every dollar I can get out of it. And then when I can’t squeeze anymore, I torch the place and collect on the insurance money."

#96 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 05:18 PM:

Owen has been confirmed.

#97 ::: darms ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 05:47 PM:

Interesting comments on a scary situation, all. My contribution is that there seems to be a certain schizophrenic aspect to the r's totalitarian power grab in that while they are doing so many things to get one-party rule they are also very protective of the general right to own guns. Not just 22's, either. Will this always be true or will they leave the NRA out to dry once they are done with them? Remember, there are an awful lot of guns out there already.

I am a 48-year old non-breeding pacifist liberal but lately I've started to rethink my long-standing opinion on gun ownership.
When they kick in your front door, how you gonna come?...

#98 ::: Dan Lewis ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 05:53 PM:

I am reminded of another way to make character death palatable: make it really "mean something" climactically heroic or tragic. Like when Endearing Sidekick gets killed by the Forces of the Antagonist. Trade a life for an emotional payoff. Be delicate so no one throws your book at the wall.

Then on the other hand, Monty Python lampoons this well by failing to kill off a character:

LAUNCELOT: ... At last! A call! A cry of distress! This could be the sign that leads us to the Holy Grail! Brave, brave Concorde, you shall not have died in vain!

CONCORDE: Uh, I'm-- I'm not quite dead, sir.

LAUNCELOT: Well, you shall not have been mortally wounded in vain!

CONCORDE: I-- I-- I think I c-- I could pull through, sir.

LAUNCELOT: Oh, I see.


I bet if we ever have, say, martial law under the Republicans, civil rights will be called the Unfortunate Victim of encroaching Islamic Terrorism. Well, they were great sidekicks while they lasted.

#99 ::: Dan Lewis ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 06:06 PM:

Darn number agreement: "civil rights will be called the Unfortunate Victims"

#100 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 06:09 PM:

Reid is reframing the debate. he just called for a vote on stem cell research and chastized Bush for threatening veto. Several republicans sided with Reid.

The fight goes on.

#101 ::: Earwicker23 ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 06:28 PM:

A year or so ago, after reading Kevin Phillips' Wealth and Democracy I formulated the hypothesis that war is a mechanism for transforming public wealth into private wealth (essentially that is what Phillips is saying, but this is my formulation of the issue).
It's pretty clear that the current party in power has taken this to a new extreme. It started with Reagan in the 80's cutting taxes on the rich to transfer the social burden to the middle class; now Bush II has taken it to a fine art by both cutting taxes on the rich and having a war to boot.
You are absolutely right--they are looting the place in preparation for either moving on through Rapture or maybe just moving on . . .
Perhaps Iraq was just a rehearsal for the main event that is happening here.

#102 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 06:35 PM:

Bush as Julius Caesar?

Looking at the reaction to some of the media reports...

"Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it in for me!"

#103 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 06:41 PM:

My thoughts on this matter:

1) It's really too early to figure out how good or bad a deal this was. Watch and see how things work out.

2) It was, however, a defeat for Frist. He promised total victory to the theocrats, got them all revved up in anticipation, and wasn't able to deliver. While they may not be angry at HIM, they aren't likely to feel particularly pleased either.

3) The corporate wing isn't particularly pleased with Frist right now, either. THEY never liked the idea that he even raised the nuclear option and were very pointedly sitting on the sidelines during the whole battle (and making it clear that they'd prefer the whole issue just go away).

4) One of the things that's going on in this fight and others is that the theocrats seem to be getting tired of being the Junior Partners in the GOP coalition. The pattern for the GOP ascendency has been that the corporate wing pushes as much of their priorities through while continually promising to attend to the theocrat's issues Real Soon Now. The theocrats may be trying to change this pattern.

(I'm hoping they are. The most likely outcome of THAT clash is that the theocrats get crunched and the corporate wing gets weakened.)

5) My suspicion is that the long term fallout of this deal will be more helpful for the Dems than for the GOP. At the very least, I think it increases the strains on the GOP coalition without causing similar problems for the Dems.

#104 ::: Neil Rest ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 07:36 PM:


Graydon, how do you propose the Dominionists will take over and control the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Boston and, I'm sure, a few others? Not to mention some whole states, of course.

Just starve 'em out. The "blue" states already subsidise the "red" states, and the new Pentagon redeployment, for instance, will shift things even further.
I'd doubt they want to be responsible for such dens of iniquity anyway.



As for your 10% or 20% controlling everybody else, okay, I'll take your word on it as a general historical principle. I just don't see it working in this country, is all. I mean, Kansas and whatever piece of that 10% or 20% it constitutes can pretty much eat me, here on 14th Street.

You got it backwards: what you eat there on 14th St. comes from Kansas . . .

#105 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 07:37 PM:

Mac: Yeah, I'm in Seattle myself. I wouldn't know about it except the Democratic party keeps sending me email full of broken html about it. But I've been in retirement, pretty much, since my surgery in January. I don't think the Republicans will win this one, but that may be hopeful thinking. I'm certain though that this is one their testbeds, so to speak, for developing strategies for gaining/retaining their power.

MKK

#106 ::: Tayefeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 07:37 PM:

When they kick in your front door, how you gonna come?

I hope to already be gone. Even if I wanted to defend my home with my life, the military will always be able to afford better hardware than I can. Counting on a gun for self-defense when the presumed opponents have bombers seems laughable.

#107 ::: Neil Rest ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 07:37 PM:


I firmly believe there's a correlation between the advent of reliable and widely available contraception, and even more of one with access to abortion, and the loss of turf suffered by those light-in-the-upper-window gothic romances best characterized as "boy gets girl, girl gets really big house." Right around the time Roe vs. Wade was decided, . . .

There's a hell of a lot more than that. When urbanization really skyrocketed at the end of the Nineteenth Century, there came into existence woman who were self-supporting, albeit as marginally as sales clerks, and the backlash began immediately. Those who only know "Comstock" vaguely, please inform yourselves of his biography. He, for instance, put the Post Office into the censorship business, to prevent knowledge of contraception . . .



Why did the sedate Fifties explode into the freewheeling Sixties?

It's wierd and scary to be in the unique cohort of '61 (the Pill) to '81 (AIDS).

#108 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 07:41 PM:

Eric,
s/Eric/Erik

re your post here, did McCain honestly believe that it was important to save the filibuster and swung a deal with enough Dems and Repubs to make it happen? Or was he a double-agent for Frist, presenting himself as saviour of the filibuster to dems while telling moderate repubs that his plan will buy the Senate for the religious right?

Neither. It was about time for McCain to make another dramatic gesture. This has been a regular cycle throught his political career. He makes a stand, the GOP takes him out back and beats the shit out of him, and he comes out the next day bruised, swearing he'll behave and yes, he really loves the GOP.

McCain isn't a political hero. McCain is a beaten wife.

Of course, if you still believe in elections, realize that Frist losing the majority leader position is a bad thing. There are quite a few competent and evil GOP Senators, you don't want them running the show.

As to Missouri. Missouri is fucked, and the Independent City of St. Louis is doubly so. Note that there are no reserves here, and the state constitution mandates a strict limit on the amount of income tax collected. When, during the dot.boom, Missouri mistakenly collected too much, they mailed refund checks to everyone.

Still, Missouri might get some help. They did go red, and it's the land of Kit Bond, Jim Talent, and John Ashcroft. Illinois is blue, so they're screwed. Thus, Whitman AFB Stays, but Scott AFB is gone.


#109 ::: Neil Rest ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 07:43 PM:

My first reacion to The Deal was rage and depression: the Democrats trashed yet again by "their own".

However, I've gained one thing from wading through the blogoshpere on this. (I have not, and I am truly baffled, found a list of the 7+7. I want to know just who the hell they are!) There are more winners and losers than one, because there are more games than one here. When Trent Lott is part of a group which screws up Frist's ties with Dobson (= Frist's Presidential ambitions), it's not simply a two-party game.

Though it's sleeting in Hell when the big losers are the Democratic Party and Bill Frist . . .

#110 ::: Thumb ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 08:00 PM:

Okay, but how are the Dominionists going to take and control the cities? [...]

If somebody wants to explain to me how they are going to manage that in a country this size with so many people, especially in the cities, unwilling to put up with that, then I'll be glad to stop being silly.

They are going to do it by going to the source of all political control - the ballot box. Howard Ahmanson Jr., an ardent and outspoken Dominionist, bought and controls ES&S and Sequoia voting, which just happens to count the majority of our votes sans oversight and without any means of audit.

Draw your own conclusions.

#111 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 08:49 PM:

The other thing to keep in mind about control is that absolute everything -- food production, transportation of all kinds, and the ability to keep the lights on in the cities -- depends on oil (with a sideline in coal for the lights).

The strategic sense in maintaining -- and these are the people who have been actively and aggressively maintaining -- the United States' total dependence on oil is 'none'.

So, aside from maintaining their present wealth, power, and social position, they're also maintaining an opportunity for near-total control -- if you behave, you get your gas ration, squared and cubed. And since the capital cost for oil extraction infrastructure is immense, there isn't any way to end-run it. Near-perfect central authoritarian control commodity, so long as they maintain a meaningful gradation for more desired behaviours.

#112 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 09:45 PM:

I am coming late to this, and perhaps irrelevantly (or redundantly), but in Joanna Russ's famous JournPopCult essay* on the Paperback Gothic Phenomenon, she offers one reason for the huge popularity of the books (and for those who weren't around for it, understand that at their peak Gothics were one-half of the original mass-market fiction being published in the US -- yet it took not much more than a year for the dank tarn to swallow the whole edifice): that they allowed female protagonists to "have adventures" without violating specific rules about what Good Girls Couldn't Do. They could be "menaced," in a nonspecific, Scooby-Doo sort of way, and screw up (note to self: wc) their courage to go face down the similarly cheeserini supernatural terrors, but in the end Mr. Right would arrive in the very nick to save her and reward her with the house key and the bedroom curtains. The Real Threat is not Death (as distinct from "menace") but Desertion; the ultimate villain was generally Another Woman, inevitably presented as a sexual predator,** often assisted by a faux-kindly gentleman who turns out to be not only Wicked but chewing-the-epicenery gay, and presumably an additional rival. (A fascinating novel could now be written in which this pair wins, and there are two lights glimmering in upper windows of the House, but thatsanotherstory).

The fantastic swell of sales fits with a consciousness rising toward criticality; the audience wants adventure stories for itself but***
hasn't quite made the jump to nominative asskicking. Once that line is crossed, the demand rapidly deflates, and the writers (almost all of them mass-producers, and a great many of them male behind female pseuds), begins, probably with a toss of the head and a swooning sigh, to fill the new slot.

*"Someone's Trying to Kill Me and I Think It's My Husband."
**"Though I loved you from the first, Prudence, I never saw you as beautiful before. It is amazine what the near-fatal tumble -- you'll pardon my coarse language -- into the millrace, making your Kate Greenaway frock cling tightly and causing you to lose your sensible mukluks, has done for you."
***Oh god, he's not going to say "inchoate yearnings," is he?

#113 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 09:55 PM:

Neil Rest:

"I have not, and I am truly baffled, found a list of the 7+7. "

Try Googling for The Gang of Fourteen

(I must say I like having the chance to use the phrase
"The Gang of Fourteen".)

#114 ::: Kathi ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2005, 11:55 PM:

Thus with the national situation. The looting has been swift and efficient, but it's taken a while for the full extent of the plundering to become apparent. We're going to be feeling this one for a long time to come.

The tragedy of this is that those of us ("us" being anyone to the left of Bush) trapped down in Texas warned people about Bush. He did this to Texas and then left in a hurry. There are people here who still refuse to admit that Bush spent or looted the treasury and split. Bush even admitted this in a Texas Monthly article--he said something to the effect of "Well, I won't be here, so it won't be my problem."

We're scrambling to deal with the fallout.

#115 ::: scott lewis ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 12:45 AM:

Teresa, you're hinting at a great name for these guys:

Dominionists + Scammers = Theocon Artists

#116 ::: Ray ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 01:35 AM:

Teresa,
Good Idea. In Goodfellas (1990) Martin Scorsese visually has Ray Liotta explain exactly how a mafia bustout works on some poor slob's restaurant. The principle to do it to a country may be the same, only a matter of difference in scale.

#117 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 01:46 AM:

If people want to roll over and die, I request that they do it quietly and without fanfare. If this really is the post-apocalyptic world, the people sitting around saying "we're doomed" are really starting to annoy those of use looking for a dry match to light that half-used candle.

#118 ::: SJS ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 02:49 AM:

After you light the candle, light the fuse... and run like hell.

#119 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 07:27 AM:

Okay, but how are the Dominionists going to take and control the cities?

For both New York City, and LA? Trivial.

Water.

Chicago is harder, they've got enough water to sake the thrist of all three cities combined, and there's enough cropland around that the idea of a breakaway Chicago republic is at least theoretically possible. Problem: No real seaport, unless Canada can control the Northern Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway. (Figure that shipping out the Cal-Sag/Ship-San->Illinois->Mississippi->Gulf simply isn't workable for dozens of reasons.

No, you control Chicago by controlling Gas and Diesel, which shuts down the transportation network, which means people starve to death. Given that Chicago's transportation fuels come via very long pipelines, this is also trivial.

Of course, that would kill NYC and LA as well, but water is much easier. Give me five large conventional bombs, and the freedom to place them, and both NYC and LA are uninhabitable in three days.

How do you stop this? LA is tough. New York could, conciveably, control the water supply by taking over the NE, Chicago could control its food supply, fuel and shipping by taking over the Great Lakes region. But to make LA safe, you'd need to take over most of the Colorado Basin.

Note that this, of course, is War, in all of its hell. I've spent three years trying to get that point across, I don't expect it to change.

Worse, this quote I saw (quoted from Salon, IIRC. I'm doing this by memory.) "Americans will vote for the Nazis if it means they can keep thier McCar and McHouse.

No, when the debt bubble collapses, and people can't even sell thier house to avoid food, they'll fall into line.

The problem with cities -- and civilization, is this. As you concentrate people into one spot, the number of dependencies grows, and with it, the number of dependencies that a small group can affect.

IOW, the cities are doomed, if the GOP want to kill them.

#120 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 07:38 AM:

Just for a very slightly cheerier topic, what sf is there about high-tech city states? The only thing I can think of is Kornbluth's "The Luckiest Man in Denv".

#121 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 08:28 AM:

Teresa: you're very right about the blowout. It happened to my university's student union when the right got in one year. They knew Voluntary Student Unionism [basically a really vicious way of destroying student services by removing their main source of funding] was coming, they approved of Voluntary Student Unionism, and they caused financial disaster for Melbourne Uni Student Union, thus further discrediting student-managed student services and bringing VSU that much further nearer. A win-win situation for them.

I don't want to see this on a global scale.

#122 ::: Charles Dodgson ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 08:31 AM:

The full "McAmerica" quote is "Americans will vote for cornpone Nazis before they will give up their entitlements to a McHouse and a McCar." -- from a Salon interview with James Kunstler, who's actually talking about the likelihood that we'll have to deal with massive oil shortages whether those in power want them or not...

#123 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 08:55 AM:

And, to anyone who thinks that the deal did the Democrats any good? Democrats clear way for Senate vote on Bolton.

They had Bolton nailed, and the Gang of Fourteen has destroyed that. Owen's in, Bolton's going in, and the destruction continues unabated.


#124 ::: Tayefeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 09:13 AM:

I hope New Jersey goes with New York. Not only do we have sizeable croplands, but we have some water reserves as well. And we didn't vote for these lying bastards.

#125 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 09:25 AM:

Speaking as a New Yorker, I'll take that deal, Tayefeth. We'll join the EU or maybe together become an on-shore off-shore island.

#126 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 10:29 AM:

what sf is there about high-tech city states?

The Jetsons?

#127 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 10:35 AM:

Bolton is not in by any length, yet. The 55-45 majority is actually 54-46 because Voinovich won't vote for him. Bolton is a good fight because everyone, even many Republicans and administration staffers, despise the fellow, and it's not something that personally affects the Dobson people or Frist (even though he might choose one issue in the next few weeks to show that he's not a softie).

I personally see this as a typical Weimar agreement (and screw Godwin); principles go on paper, and in practice the thugs keep marching on. However, there wasn't much else to do at the moment.

#128 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 10:45 AM:

None of the pessimists have yet mentioned the largest source of both unregistered guns and people who can use them: gangs and drug dealers. Gentlemen, start your theories.

#129 ::: wren ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 10:47 AM:

Michael I wrote: 4) One of the things that's going on in this fight and others is that the theocrats seem to be getting tired of being the Junior Partners in the GOP coalition. The pattern for the GOP ascendency has been that the corporate wing pushes as much of their priorities through while continually promising to attend to the theocrat's issues Real Soon Now. The theocrats may be trying to change this pattern.

(I'm hoping they are. The most likely outcome of THAT clash is that the theocrats get crunched and the corporate wing gets weakened.)

I live in Colorado Springs, otherwise known as theocrat and/or wingnut central. Let the crunching begin. Soon. Please.

#130 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 10:54 AM:

Failure begins when you fall down.
And failure doesn't end until you get up.

#131 ::: darms ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 10:56 AM:

Tayefeth,
Yeah, I know about military hardware vs. civilian hardware, and I have no illusions about "self-defense", either. I too hope to be gone when the "Theocon Artists" take complete control, and being childless, I have no stake in that future. I am only trying to make a point that the r's are both clamping down on most individual rights while defending & enhancing gun owner's rights, a position that IMHO takes a good deal of cognitive dissonance to embrace. Remember, there's an awful lot of weapons out there in this country already and when the clampdown comes, not every bad guy will be military or protected by the military and in any case, certainly not 24/7.
Meanwhile I'm doing what I can, but there's not a whole lot - I know two people that constantly & gleefully vote time & time again against their own best interests and I'm trying to find something/anything that 1)is inarguably true that 2)will penetrate their armor, not to hurt them but to make them to seriously think about the stuff they say/think/believe. I'm hoping that the "Downing Street Memo" might be a worthy tool with which to whack the "liberal media" meme, at least the fact that they will not know of which I speak. May get a chance this weekend.
And last, my reconsideration of my previous position on firearm ownership is not about personal self-defense, it's about taking a few of their goons along with me should someone decide the camp needs another technician or something.

#132 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 11:04 AM:

If you're willing to be heavy-handed about it, you could take down NYC fairly easily by shutting off the power, especially if you do it in the summer. The city can't function without subways, elevators, and refrigerated food storage, and it can't function more than a day or two without gasoline pumps.

Take the power down and leave it down, and the only option most NYC residents will have is to put a few essentials in their folding grocery cart and start walking toward the nearest area that still has electricity.

BTW, this works for the Phoenix area, too, only more people die. Developers have been in control there since territorial days. They long ago made it illegal to build in adobe, and they've always scanted on insulation. During the hottest months, most buildings in that part of the world are literally uninhabitable unless you've got a swamp cooler or AC running.

Cities are easy to take down.

#133 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 11:08 AM:

Greg, I don't think it's despair. I think you're hearing people giving each other permission to believe that things might get as bad as they've privately feared: not paralysis, but the end of paralysis.

#134 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 11:22 AM:

I think it's debatable whether the primary motivation of the neo/theocons is social control. Even for the theocons, it could be rent-seeking. Not that they wouldn't mind having social control as a bonus.

As for the scenarios of resistance and civil war, you only have to look at Iraq to imagine how bad it would be. That and multiply by ten.

#135 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 11:23 AM:

Alright. Some folks seriously need to get a grip. This is the part in the movie where the hysterically screaming, helpless person gets slapped by the protagonist. snap out of it already.

The democrats fell down when Kerry lost the election. And some of you haven't gotten up since.

And for a blog that has a lot of people involved with fiction, some of you fail to understand the power of your own words. What you say puts that mood out in the world for that moment, and can drag people down or pull them up.

When the characters are stranded on a deserted island and searching for food, the character who constantly whines "I'm hungry" does nothing but state what is already known and piss everyone else off for whatever self-indulgent benefit he gets out of whining.

I come to this blog when I need to get reinvigorated by like minded folks. When I show up and people are talking about the end of the world, it dragged me down at first, and now its just pissing me off.

What is this infatuation with sitting around and creating naratives about how terrible the world is and how insurmountable the task is to change it? If you must, get this self indulgent whine out of your system and get back up.

If you're going to stay down, then do so quietly.

If you're down and looking for a way to get up, you need to find one specific thing to move towards. Either fight for something specific that you want to happen in the immediate future or fight against something specific that you want to prevent from happening in teh immediate future.

Talk of the self-destruction of the nation is sitting down and whining. If you're gonna talk, say something useful, something that could actually get somethign done, or shut up. Owen has been confirmed, but you can still fight Brown's confirmation. Talk about that. Blog about it. Frame it in a way that will actually sway someone's opinion. Whining that she'll get confirmed isn't gonna change anything. Reid called for a vote on stem cell research. frame that in such a way to split some of teh moderates over to favor research.

divide and conquer.

But if you're simply going to pat yourself on the back and celebrate when your side is winning and sit down and whine when your side is losing, you're just getting in the way of the people who are doing the actual fighting.

#136 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 11:33 AM:

>I don't think it's despair. I think you're
>hearing people giving each other permission to
>believe that things might get as bad as they've
>privately feared: not paralysis, but the end of
>paralysis.

Teresa, from my frame of mind, I cannot tell the difference. But I know I fall into a certain "character type" that sees things certain ways, which is different than seeing "the whole picture". I see people not moving and I want them to move, so I try to get them moving the way that would work for me. Obviously, not everyone is called to action the same way. I will simply have to take your word for it that whatever is going on is bringing people to the point of getting back up.

#137 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 11:35 AM:

So, do I have this right? The Gang of Fourteen made a deal, but it's not binding on anyone except those 14? All the other Senators can vote however they were going to vote anyway?

Which brings up the question, what happens when one or more of the 14 leave the Senate? This is not any kind of a long-term solution, is it?

On another subject, I'm with those who find discussion of worst-case scenarios to be unhelpful. It seems overly dramatic, IMO. But if it inspires you to take whatever political action you feel to be necessary, then that's good.

#138 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 11:39 AM:

Oh, and I've just about finished my training to be a life coach, and what I keep having to remember is that it is nearly impossible to coach through email or blogs or whatever. It's gotta be in person or at the very least over the phone. Must keep reminding myself of that.

#139 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 11:49 AM:

I didn't fall. I was mugged. I got back on my feet right away, but the gang that did it is still at large. We need to take them down. I don't mind hearing from others who went through similar experiences. It's good to know I'm not alone, and maybe there will eventually be enough of us to make a difference.

I do have to wonder, where are the new millennial equivalents of 1950s doom and gloom SF? I mean besides the Sinister Buttock series.

#140 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 11:54 AM:

You are all talking about republican tactics. But their tactics can be modified to fit their working strategy, which I never hear anyone addressing.

While the republicans are liquidating middle class savings in the general manner described here, it's not being done under a resolve to do so. The resolve under which this liquidation is being performed can be summed up as "We know we are strong by our dominance."

That's why two thirds of Americans wanted to believe at least one of the 9-11 hijackers were Iraqi at the time of the March 2003 invasion, if they still don't now.

"We know we are strong by our dominance" is also why George Bush received more votes than any candidate in history after cutting taxes for the rich while foisting record-breaking deficits on middle-class savings. Americans want to be strong, so they follow the only resolve to define strength they are given.

For one of the space-race dramatizations they show on cable, the credits repeat John Kennedy saying how we should do things not because they are easy, but because they are difficult. Kennedy didn't define strength by dominance, but by generosity -- this has been a position the democratic party has retreated from since his time.

The democrats have simply offered no counter to Rove and Bush's "We know we are strong by our dominance." No one wants to tell the American people we aren't strong. And none of the high-traffic liberal communities I've seen want to address the republican resolve directly.

#141 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 11:56 AM:

Laura, the 14 reached an agreement amongst themselves. It is not binding. But if the agreement holds, then the 14 are enough to break a filibuster and to prevent the nuclear option from getting voted in.

What it is, really, is a prisoner's dilemma, where the prisoners have made an agreement to cooperate for their mutual benefit. There is still individual incentive to break the agreement. But I think real-life in this case mirrors the prisoner's dilema in the idea that the benefit from cooperating is actually better than the benefit of breaking the agreement and working individually.

If the senate changes, I think this agreement could still be reached by new members who see the benefit of cooperation. This belief requires that there is a difference between the extremists on either side who want it their way, and the moderates in the middle who see more value in long term cooperation than in stuffing the courts with bible thumpers. McCain doesn't sem interested in a court stacked with religious right nut jobs.


#142 ::: wren ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 12:38 PM:

I must be getting old. Unsolicited life coaching resulted in immediate annoyance.

Greg London, since 'some of us' haven't checked in with you on our political activities before, during, or since the election, I suppose your bootstrap speech should be forgiven as youthful exuberance. As a socially acceptible alternative, I am going to strongly suggest you practice your positive positioning and go hug yourself.

Returning to permanent lurkdom now.

#143 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 12:42 PM:

Thanks Greg.

I am no moderate myself, but I think moderates working together is a good thing.

#144 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 12:49 PM:

Hey, Wren, Greg's a good guy.

#145 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 01:06 PM:

Teresa, even good guys step on toes. I second wren's annoyance.


I come to this blog when I need to get reinvigorated by like minded folks.

Might I suggest that this blog does not exist to satisfy your needs?

#146 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 01:18 PM:

Well, pardon my saying so, but I agree with Greg.

#147 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 02:04 PM:

For the comments on the compromise deal Patrick cites, they vary depending on the emphasis you place on the 3 judge slots that the WH gets a free pass on.

My understanding is that the public was largely indifferent to protecting the filibuster, and the democrats needed 6 rebublican senators they couldn't count on to prevent Cheney from casting the deciding vote.

Besides giving the WH 3 judges, what the compromise has done is force the republican leadership to publicly abandon an inter-party agreement if they want to bring up the issue again -- they likely won't get the benefit of public indifference the next time around. When the public takes an interest in policy, republicans lose more than democrats.

The democrats get that much more leverage if slots open on scotus (how many are in remission for cancer, 4?), all for the price of stonewalling on 3 judges they weren't likely to get their way on anyway.

3 judge slots vs controlling interest on abortion and civil rights. This was Dobson's opportunity to issue the ultimate position on these issues for the country, and it was taken from him. The senate is hostile to the status quo of checks and balances, and the compromise is the best effort of 14 senators to preserve the filibuster -- I don't think the 7 democrats sold for too little.

#148 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 02:06 PM:

1) State an objective.

a: The objective must be stated so that you will know when you've achieved it.

b: It must be possible to achieve with the resources you control.

2) Achieve your objective.

3) State an objective....

#149 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 02:21 PM:

> they likely won't get the benefit of
> public indifference the next time around

I think this is the key. The issue around nominees had been framed by republicans as democratic "obstructionism". That's an impossible political frame to win. The deal by the 14 has reframed the issue into a "solution". Breaking the deal then becomes obstructionism.

Previously, I think the public was apathetic to the filibuster because it was viewed as obstructionism. Now that a solution/agreement has been reached, any attempt by Frist to break the agreement should be framed by Democrats as worse than obstructing, but actually breaking a working solution. I don't think Frist can win that one.

I also think that the public was largely apethetic because this has been about judges that are NOT going on the Supreme Court. As soon as Reinquist steps down, and Bush nominates a replacement, I think a lot of moderates will take much more notice of how much that nominee is an extremist for the religious right.

#150 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 03:09 PM:

Greg, I can tell you from painful personal experience that seeing yourself as the protagonist of an internet transaction and slapping people for their own good is a really terrific way to cause yourself truly enormous amounts of unpleasantness.

Really. You need to trust me on this.

#151 ::: Kizmet ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 03:11 PM:

May I move sideways here?

Teresa said,

    "I'm convinced that social control is a lot of the motivation behind the attack on Social Security. It's a lot easier to be brave and independent and entrepreneurial if there isn't a little voice in your head telling you that if you screw up, you'll die in a poorhouse. That goes double if you're female, or a person of color, or a member of some other deprecated category. Reinstating the fear of an impoverished old age would do wonders to clear the field for well-funded white guys with good connections, and thin out those pesky innovators who do so much to make life less predictable for large corporations.

I find myself thinking a lot about this statement. As a formerly self-employed woman, from a large family of entrepeneurs (sp?) I guess that most of us - my father, uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents and greatgrandparents - have started businesses without a lot of regard to the poorhouse. Some of us have failed, some of us succeeded until retirement, some of us closed for other reasons, some are still self-employed.

I have no expectations of SS - I've never qualified (being under a state employee system instead of SS might be slightly safer) but instead I've been forced to make my own choices for my retirement. I doubt that it would effect any decision to go back to being self-employed. The tax laws are far more influential on that choice than my reliance on a retirement system.

#152 ::: Anarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 05:49 PM:

As a tangential point...

For both New York City, and LA? Trivial.

Water.

Back in the mid-90s when some of the more excitable natives of Hong Kong suggested a kind of Quixotic (or maybe Pyrrhic) resistance to the upcoming Chinese take-over, this was the single statistic that ended it: Hong Kong received about half its potable water from mainland China. All they had to do was turn the tap off and we'd die.

I don't know about New York, but LA, in particular, is ridiculously susceptible to this. Hell, it'd be an easy sell, too: just tell Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and maybe even Idaho, Oregon and Washington that you were going to stop LA from siphoning off the Colorado River and they'd be your best friends for life.

#153 ::: scott lewis ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 07:14 PM:

Anarch, Idaho, Oregon and Washington don't feed the Colorado River basin.

To make up for losing them, you could tell northern and central California that you would stop LA from stealing their water. Back in the 70s and 80s, the Peripheral Canal was a big water issue in CA. IIRC, LA County voted about 2-1 in favor, but the Bay Area went 4-1 against.

#154 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 07:14 PM:

Why would Bolton want to work for an organization he hated unless he wanted to gut it?

#155 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 07:20 PM:

Exactly, Greg.

Or put another way:

[wingnut]
"You say it like that's a bad thing."
[/wingnut]

#156 ::: plover ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 11:59 PM:

1. When, somewhere far upthread, alex mentioned "corporate welfare queens", the image my brain supplied was "corporate welfare drag queens". I then realized that this is only a step away from "corporate welfare drag-racing queens" and so forth.

But that way lies madness and so forth.

2. When a comet appears in the sky, and Bush declares it to be Reagan's soul ascending to heaven then what do we do? (And in less than a century we'll have Gen. Boykin's great-grandson saying "I think I'm turning into an archangel..." as he dies.)

3. One metaphor no one has mentioned so far is Britain circa 1902. The following is a quote from Chrstopher Andrew's history of the British intelligence services Secret Service on the mood of Britain following the Second Boer War:

'Britain emerged from the Boer War with a new sense of imperial frailty. The great Empire on which the sun never set seemed, even to Joseph Chamberlain, one of its greatest enthusiasts, "a weary Titan staggering under the too vast orb of his own fate". The public as a whole, still with little idea of the problems involved in winning wars against guerillas, failed to understand how their army could could have required three years and 450,000 men to defeat rebellious foreign farmers.'

Andrew's book also has some wonderful details like this:

'The colonial secretary ... [who] opposed sending large troop reinforcements to South Africa in the summer of 1899, was convinced that the ID [Intelligence Department (of the War Office)] was exaggerating the size of Boer forces. Much other ID intelligence was ignored. When a copy of the ID manual on South Africa was sent to General Sir Redvers Buller (nicknamed 'Blunder' in the ID and elsewhere) on his appointment as commander-in-chief of the expeditionary force, he sent it back on the grounds that he "knew everything there was to know about South Africa". Another copy of the ID manual which found its way to [the South African province] Natal was captured by the Boers in their first attack, and promptly published in the American press.'

4. SF types (and I'm certainly including myself here) are used to thinking about cultural shifts and world-changing events, and to do so in a dramaturgical frame. It's easy for this kind of plot-ifying turn to drift into conspiracy theorizing when applied to the real world. Let me be clear: I'm not trying to accuse people here of excessive paranoia; I'm not even saying I necessarily disagree with all of the bleak assessments that have been proposed. I do, however, think it's worth recalling from time to time that the complexity of the world inevitably exceeds anybody's (whether it is us, or Dominionist éminences grises) ability to supply it with a narrative structure. Do we really understand what is going on with the GOP power elite any better than the U.S. government understood the Kremlin power elite in the 70's and 80's? And while it's true that those who run the country right now have been pretty successful at pushing an account of the world that is simplified enough for their narrative, such triumph of the will requires enormous effort – reality intrudes, contradictions appear. There are significantly more cracks than there were six months ago. Not that Kremlinological musings should be abandoned, or the possibility of a coming tyranny ignored, but it is also true, as has been said, "Space is big."

#157 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2005, 01:29 AM:

If you're willing to be heavy-handed about it, you could take down NYC fairly easily by shutting off the power, especially if you do it in the summer. The city can't function without subways, elevators, and refrigerated food storage, and it can't function more than a day or two without gasoline pumps.

We lost power for an hour Wednesday evening in my part of Seattle, and about all I could do was lie on the couch and tally up the number of things I could no longer do. It was very very scary. Even making a phone call was difficult as my cell phone was run down and 2 of our 3 phones are cordless. And the one that isn't is downstairs in the basment where there's no light...

I have to say I am also getting really tired of Greg London assuming he can read my mind, knows what I'm doing and thinking and feeling, and presuming to look down on me. Oh yes, you are. You're sneering at those of us who worked damn hard and lost and are still in mourning and I'm asking you to stop it.

MKK

#158 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2005, 02:08 AM:

Mary Kay speaks well on my behalf, but I have some things to add.

Stopping and lying down are highly worthwhile activities.

If you've been on a wrong path, the first duty is not to make it worse - stop. Go back if you can. If not, do not head in any direction until you work out your bearings and decide what you'd like to do next. Stopping is also good when you've got a worthy goal but aren't sure about this connecting step. It's good at intersections, to let others pass. it's good lots of times.

Lying down is good when you're tired. The physical position of being prone has healthful benefits when your body needs a break. Furthermore, the expression of grief and confusion helps clear the metabolic byproducts of stress which otherwise build up and make your life worse. Lying down can be good for reading, for dining, and for doing other things maybe best not done on the move. Lying down helps put you in position for massage and physical therapy.

All of this can be taken metaphorically, of course, as well as literally. I vigorously oppose metaphors which denigrate the value of these things, and agree with all those saying that shock, outrage, confusion, even despair are not in automatic opposition to constructive action now or in the future. But when dishonesty about facts and emotions is a crucial part of our enemies' arsenals, I think that it's doubly important that we do be honest about our ups and downs as we figure out what we must do and what we can do.


#159 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2005, 02:46 AM:

But that way lies madness and so forth.

Drag-racing being a working class sport, drag-racing queens tend to wear Target: halter tops, hot pants or short cheap mini-skirts. You get the idea.

Actually, I'm kidding. Drag-racing is a dangerous sport. The drivers wear fire-proof nomex coveralls.

But they can wear whatever they want underneath.

#160 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2005, 02:51 AM:

Anarch, between years of drought in the Colorado basin, other states finally taking their legal but unrealistic shares of the river, and the on and off negotiations over the long tern plan for Colorado water, there isn't much left for LA to lose

The share of LA water coming from the Colorado is probably less than 5% and dropping. It never was all that much anyway, as both LADWP and MWD (the main water agencies in southern California) have known for more than a decade that the water was going away. The main sources, in order, are the LA Aqueduct from Owens Valley (Eastern Sierra runoff) with about half the city's supply followed by the State Water Project/California Aqueduct and a combination of ground water and local runoff.

Now if you want to contemplate a terrorist target, consider that half of the water for the second largest US city is supplied by an open, gravity-driven aqueduct hundreds of miles long passing thorugh remote areas. Structures and dams associated with it have been attacked before, during the original conflict over Owens Valley water. It could easily happen again.

#161 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2005, 09:06 AM:

Now if you want to contemplate a terrorist target, consider that half of the water for the second largest US city is supplied by an open, gravity-driven aqueduct hundreds of miles long passing thorugh remote areas.

All of the water for the largest city in the US flows through three similar aqeuducts, into one resivoir, then into two very large tunnels.

They're building a third tunnel, because they need to check and repair the first two -- but they cannot turn them off. They cannot afford the risk of a tunnel collapsing, since one tunnel simply cannot slake New York's thirst.

Teresa's right about power -- but, mod odd circumstance, it is actually tought to take down a power grid as a whole. Pieces, sure. (The odd circumstance is usually a human screwup at the heart of the grid.) For Joe Bomber to do so is much harder.

But killing NY and LA by water deprivation requires, well, five large bombs.

#162 ::: DM SHERWOOD ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2005, 09:21 AM:

SOCIAL CONTROL
Like as the Marxists say its a matter of internal contrdictions. There is (trust me) a GOOD SIDE to conservatism(small 'c') distrust of the State and the value of Personal Independance/Integraty but its getting swamped(Hell that a pathetic understaement. Has been killed rather) by something nihilistic about humnan possibility. Apparently we're all naughty children to be kept on a VERY short leash by thoise chosen to care/control us Thoose beyond human weakness.

#163 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2005, 09:41 AM:

Janice Rogers Brown of California will have a vote up or down for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. I am in the unenviable position of having to say: "she voted in my personal favor" in the 7-0 decision of Post v. Palo/Haklar.

She has a compelling personal story.

It is hard for me to oppose someone who did something good for me, for whatever reason. Fortunately, neither Bill Gates nor George Bush have ever done anything good for me.

For the bland official California court bio see: Janice Rogers Brown.
For a partisan analysis see: independentjudiciary.com on Janice Rogers Brown

#164 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2005, 10:57 AM:

The link to Post v. whatever is malformed. If you fix it, you get Smith v. Rae-Venter Law Group.

#165 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2005, 11:03 AM:

I think this:

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/californiastatecases/s081910.pdf

is the url JvP wanted. Note that it's a (ugh) pdf.

#166 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2005, 11:36 AM:

Mary Kay and others,

I promise you there was no "looking down" or "sneering" at anyone.

What I was reading sounded to me like people had fallen down. I'm very action-oriented, and if I had written some of the stuff I was reading, it would mean I had fallen down, and I would want someone to get me moving again. What I wrote was from an action-oriented guy assuming everyone else was action-oriented too.

My mistake.

I know I can be emotionally color-blind. When Teresa said she saw people coming to terms with the facts so they could move out of paralysis, I deferred to her. I couldn't see it. Honestly, I still can't. But I know I see grey where others see red and green. I assume that the folks I pissed off are likely to be people who have better emotional vision than myself.

I apologize to anyone who heard my words as "looking down" or "sneering". That wasn't my intent at all. I was responding to everyone as my equal. What I keep having to learn is that "equal" isn't the same as "identical". Not everyone is action-oriented.

#167 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2005, 12:52 PM:

Greg, these are disturbing and depressing times. Talking about them is good. You say that you are action-oriented. But this is a discussion area. If you want to organize some action, by all means do so. Get up and lead, and see who follows. But you weren't doing that. You were telling us that we were failing, that we had fallen down and needed to get up. That crossed a line with me, which is why I posted that I didn't fall down, I was mugged, and I'm back on my feet already.

Instead of telling us that we're failures, filled with despair, and not action-oriented, try asking what we're doing and planning. The way you ask the question has a profound influence on the answers you can get. Telling is the least open way of asking a question; it can only lead to confirming your despair. At least it's certain. Trying to realize your hopes is riskier. You can never know for sure how other people will respond, and whether it will be enough. But that's life.

So Greg, how are you feeling? And what would you like to do about it?

#168 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2005, 02:30 PM:

> You say that you are action-oriented.
> But this is a discussion area.

That would be one place our views of the world are at opposite ends of the spectrum. To me, the power of words leads directly to action or inaction, depending on what is said. Words can give me energy and charge me up or they can drain me and drag me down. That's just who I am. And the words everyone was putting out were dragging me down. I get that wasn't what people intended to do, but neither did I intend to sound "sneering" because that wasn't what was going on for me.

I was trying to charge people up in a way that would work for me if I were down. I can apologize for how my words landed, but I won't apologize for my intent. The way I interpreted people as having "fallen down" when that's not where they were, other people are now interpreting my intent as "sneering" and other nastiness when no such thing was going on for me. All I can do is apologize for how it landed and tell you my intent was sincere.

#169 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2005, 03:14 PM:

> But this is a discussion area.
That would be one place our views of the world are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

I agree with you that words can lead to action. But this isn't a ballot box, a picket line, or a barricade. You need to be more comfortable with this being a place for words. Find ways to lead the discussion towards action. Don't just criticize it because it isn't already doing what you want.

Words can give me energy and charge me up or they can drain me and drag me down. That's just who I am.

Same for everyone. Think about the words you were using. Were they giving energy to the discussion?

And the words everyone was putting out were dragging me down.

If the words weren't for you, that's okay. But not everyone is like you. Maybe it was an issue that they needed to talk about, for their own reasons. I don't think it works very well to try to bottle up or redirect that process. It's better to go take a walk. Do something, anything positive. Let the others talk out their feelings. Come back later and see if they came up with anything good.

I was trying to charge people up in a way that would work for me if I were down.

I think the song goes like this:

Don't try to change people,
even if you can

People can change themselves, and if you work on something worthwhile, others may join you. That's the best you can hope for. It's not bad.

All I can do is apologize for how it landed and tell you my intent was sincere.

I never questioned your intent, so you are defending yourself from a charge that I didn't and wouldn't make. Think about it. I know you meant well. I seems to me that you were caught up too much in your own despair and couldn't see how the discussion could ever lead to anything productive. Also, I'm still trying to get across the idea that successful action usually starts with listening. But then I am telling you that, aren't I?

#170 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2005, 03:29 PM:

I don't see the DOOM.

This is how I see it- I'm new here, I'm short on research, but I'm going to stick my neck out anyway.

It's a bad time to be a liberal, but it's a worse time to be a Senate Republican. The White House crowd is [I believe] ignorant, shortsighted, vicious, unsubtle, and incapable of changing their mind.

They've kept both houses of Congress under VERY tight control, stepping on toes and fingers and necks to do it. You can get away with that as long as they think you're winning, but once you start to lose . . .people remember. There are a lot of PO'd Senators out there.

I don't think there's a long-range plan in this- there's not that much vision in the White House bunch. I think the assumption is that "once we get things going the way they should be, people will realize that we're right." These are the same people who planned for US soldiers to be greeted with flowers as they rolled into Baghdad.

The R's are infinitely far from monolithic; the bad break will come and a lot of these guys are going to be fertilizer.

#171 ::: Barry@yahoo.com ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2005, 04:52 PM:

BTW - the parts of this thread about controlling the cities are, IMHO, a little bit literal. The whole point of Byrd's reference to the rise of the Nazi Party was that the genius lay in a revolution from within the state apparatus.

You control the cities by controlling the federal and state governments, as always, by controlling the mass media (not totally, that's not needed), with the backing of large-scale economic actors (i.e., multinational corps, some foundations), and with religious leaders (who don't have to be in the majority, but insensely political and committed).

There was a thriller a while back, about Air Force One. At one point a reporter tells the commander of that unit that 'they want to destroy Air Force One'. The commander asks who, and by what method - a bomb? The reporter looks blank for a minute, and replies that 'they' are people in Congress, and the method of destruction would be budget cuts.

#172 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2005, 04:57 PM:

Sandy, I hope you're right about the outcome.

#173 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2005, 02:42 AM:

I thought moderate Republicans were extinct. Jeffords, bred and born into the Republican Party of his ancestors, months and months ago announced that he didn't leave it, it left him.

Two or three years ago a host on a Boston radio station that's an NPR affiliate quipped, "Welcome to Massachusetts, home of the last free-range flock of moderate Republicans."

That was -then-. I'd vote for Romney to be the dog caught and impounded by the dogcatcher these days. He turned into a shill for the Dominionists interests.

------

The Republicans occupying the federal government of the USA remind me in a number of ways of early 10th century Bolsheviks.

#174 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2005, 03:29 AM:

Paula Lieberman: The Republicans occupying the federal government of the USA remind me in a number of ways of early 10th century Bolsheviks.

I guess everything old is new again!

#175 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2005, 07:32 PM:

In re the notion of destroying Airforce One with budget cuts: The thing I found most upsetting in _The Order of the Phoenix_ wasn't dementors or prophecies or wicked wizards (I'm used to that sort of thing in fantasy)--it was the bureaucratic attack on Hogwarts.

#176 ::: Barry@yahoo.com ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2005, 12:34 PM:

Thanks, Nancy. And it was so irritating because everybody's had experiences of being deliberately squeezed, or just incompetanted by higher-ups.

#177 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2005, 12:49 PM:

Air Force One Today

"... The current presidential fleet consists of two specifically-configured Boeing 747-200B series aircraft - tail numbers 28000 and 29000 - with Air Force designation VC-25A. When the President is aboard either craft, or any other Air Force aircraft, the radio call sign is 'Air Force One....'"

"While on the aircraft, the President and staff have access to a full range of services, including communications systems, secure and non-secure voice, fax and data communications, along with access to photocopying, printing, and word processing..."

Dear Making Light, you'll never believe where I am as I submit this to your blog, but...

#178 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2005, 02:57 PM:

I'd vote for Romney to be the dog caught and impounded by the dogcatcher these days.

Did you catch the latest news on Romney? His advisor says he was just kidding about being "moderate" on abortion... my favorite bit from the article is the suggestion for a 2008 Romney presidential campaign slogan: "It's Mormon in America!"

#179 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2012, 09:50 AM:

Ah, how often I come back to this thread for Teresa's description of the blowout.

It just keeps on giving.

#180 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2016, 11:27 PM:

Also known as a bust-out. There was a story arc on The Sopranos that featured a fairly detailed blowout/bust-out, so the scam is more widely known now.

Another variant of it has been getting a workout. It's most effective in failed or disrupted states. You recruit or convert a criminal organization into a revolutionary movement -- it doesn't take much, just a thin coat of fast-drying aerosol ideology -- and announce that you are fighting for the liberation of [thing]. As your forces sweep over an area, temporarily taking control of it, you have your work crews seize anything portable, saleable, and valuable. Then you move on.

Once, at a high-end antique show, I overheard one dealer gossiping with another about all the great buys he'd made during a recent trip to Bosnia, where there was a war on. Some of the items he was describing sounded to me like they'd come out of museums or old churches. Others were old family-owned pieces.

You can't run a bust-out without buyers who are willing to transform your temporarily-controlled valuables into anonymous cash.

He acted like he thought he fully qualified as a human being.

#181 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2016, 08:34 AM:

Rereading, it's interesting to consider TNH's #29, ten-or-so years later. The Republicans kept Congress, but lost the presidency for two terms, and have suffered major power-shifts within their party, especially the rise of the Tea Party. The adventures of Bush and Shrub, far from being celebrated, helped to sink Jeb's chances by contagion. And now the nomination of a complete outsider, Trump, for their presidental candidate.

I'd like to think that Trump doesn't have a chance at actually winning, but I can't make myself believe it. We're disturbingly close to 30s Germany at this point with our failed wars and tanking economy, and Trump fits right into the slot for a xenophobic demagogue who'll blame everything on Those People.

#182 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2016, 10:02 AM:

181
Except that the economy is doing better now than it did under Shrub (and would have done even better if the banksters had been prosecuted and too-big-to-fail wasn't allowed).

#183 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2016, 10:39 AM:

The economy isn't *that* bad compared to depression-era Germany and losing in Iraq isn't nearly as big a deal as losing WW1.

#184 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2016, 02:12 PM:

P J Evans, #182: WE know that, but there's a heavily-pushed narrative to the effect that it's not, that Obama's presidency has been disastrous for the economy. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that the average rank-and-file Republican hasn't seen any improvement in his lot; all of the recovery money is going into the pockets of the 1%.

Nancy, #183: And how many people who are going to vote for Trump know enough about history to have that perspective?

What we have to remember is that there are a LOT of people out there saying, "But the alternative to Trump is HILLARY CLINTON!" I knew this was going to be a problem; that's one of the reasons I was a Bernie supporter. There are still a shit-ton of people out there who will vote for ANYONE in preference to her, whether it's because she's a woman or because her name is Clinton or because they've bought into the Republican lie machine.

#185 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2016, 07:10 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #183: The economy isn't *that* bad...

Lee #184: the average rank-and-file Republican

That is not what I consider an improvement in the economy! The choice of economic statistics that get publicized, is itself vulnerable to political pressure and trained assumptions. For example, talking about "average" (that is, mean) incomes and wealth... when the increase is due mostly to the rich and superrich being included. I'm betting looking at the medians wouldn't be nearly as cheery. And a handful of people controlling most of the money in the nation is itself unhealthy -- if nothing else, it makes the system fragile.

And the system is under load: Regulatory capture has ensured that financial crises are going to be a regular thing for the forseeable future, and climate change is already being expensive.

#186 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2016, 08:03 PM:

Cont'd: For that matter, it's exactly the general public's experience that's the issue in the German comparison: People getting desperate, and too-often looking for someone to blame it on, and someone else to save them from the "bad people".

That, we've certainly got....

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