santorum was destined to rise. now, maybe we aren't so pleased with a combination of statutory enforcement of religiously-derived moral standards and a neo-conservative foreign policy: huge-state conservatism, in short. but santorum is actually a sincere and intelligent spokesman for his positions, maybe just in comparison to the other candidates. one interesting thing to go along with how mormonism is playing is how catholicism of the santorum stripe goes along with evangelical protestantism. believe me, even though there's plenty they agree on - starting with abortion and gay marriage - you won't have to probe very far in american protestantism to find a richly-justified anti-papism, even at this late date.
you'd think that 'pundits,' people who are professional expounders of their own opinions, would reach for something original. some do: most assure their position by repeating 'the common wisdom': you'll hear or read twenty all using the same sentence on any given matter. this reveals their overweening insecurity and that of the publications or broadcast outlets that host them. the reasoning is that the common wisdom might be wrong, but no one can really blame you any more than anyone else for expressing it, so you're safe. one piece of the cw i like over the last few months is 'the non-romney,' who's the person republican voters can't settle on. (e.j. dionne leads with it today, but you can hardly blame him in that he's just saying what everyone else is saying; on the other hand, there's no point in reading him, for the same reason; this is why someone like hitchens is of great value; he dared to say something, which of course risks being individually responsible for saying something wrong, as he often did.)
anyway, the non-romney motif is a completely manufactured artificial creature of the media coverage itself. the only reason the cw pundits think of everyone else in the field as non-romneys is because they themselves assumed that romney would be the nominee, with very little reason. and they were comfortable with romney; they understood him because he was like themselves: a non-entity. treating everone else as non-romneys just puts romney at the center of the caucus/primary process by a priori stipulation.
i think of them all as non-pauls, which is a useful frame because they actually disagree with paul (it is not possible to disagree with romney). and it truly astonishes me that paul is atop the polls in iowa: i.e. that he is the non-bachmann. really, even this much is an amazing moment in american politics, one i never thought i'd live to see, one in which the power of the state - growing all over the world for centuries - is actually coming in for doubt, in which it is possible to raise fundamental questions again.
there are very few ways in which people might express their disgust for our politicians, for our political process, and for our government. but this disgust is well-nigh universal, as well it should be, as it must be because of the way these people and institutions actually behave. well, voting for ron paul is an actual way to express that, and also at once to affirm the fundamental american political tradition of small state and individual liberty. every cw pundit in the country is still saying hardy har he can't win. the 'republican establishment' must be absolutely shitting bricks, trying to design a non-paul. but we actually do have a chance to teach all of these folks a lesson.
really is a spectacle. charlie rangel on msnbc just now: "the republican leadership in the house is being held hostage by the tea party radicals. these people don't care at all about the country; all they care about is being re-elected." um, unlike you, i guess. the tone is just ridiculous, and then "we have to come together to work for the people." really? with people whom you hold do not care about the country at all? and that's a sweet invitation you're offering: these people are profoundly evil, and the american people are sick of the partisanship, so we need to work together.
one formulation i have grown to hate hate, constantly produced by automata on both sides: "the american people want us to do x." it's chanted by obama, cantor, boehner, reid: absolutely everyone. e.g. "the american people want us to work together to do what's right," followed by a series of extreme insults directed at the other party. of course what the american people want is whatever the spokeman's ventriloquists are saying. and don't tell me what i want, bitch. if you want to do what i want you to do, dissipate like a mist or a hallucination.
but at any rate, nothing can make these people stop. nothing. for some time, we've been in the era of meta-partisanship: partisanship, and hence congress, is polling extremely badly. conclusion? blame the other side for the partisanship. seriously, they will get up in dueling news conferences and accuse their opponents of 'playing politics' or engaging in 'washington business as usual.' it's impossible to imagine who could possibly find that persuasive coming out of their mouths; it's like eric cantor and jay carney accusing one another, in extreme outrage, of wearing a suit. i have no idea who they think they're talking to, or who they expect to take them seriously or keep listening. it's insufferably repetitive, but completely meaningless. and it just cannot be a good strategy in any sense or for any purpose. perhaps their intended audience is their own consultants or something.
this current debate about a two-month or a one-year extension of the ss tax cut is a particularly excellent example; it's not about anything at all, and they all purport to have exactly the same position. and yet they are just verbally assaulting each other, all in unison. it's the gop that walked away. no it's the dems. it's the house. it's the senate. if only the fact that they are disgracing themselves continuously and are entirely incapable of independent intellection could make them disappear.
i've been asserting that the left-right political spectrum is incoherent. in particular, liberalism is incoherent and conservativism is incoherent. let me try to say why: crisply, as it were.
conservativism runs aground on freedom. it's constantly invoking 'liberty' and trying to starve the state. then again, it's constantly trying to legislate morality/religion and advocating a gigantic security apparatus, both domestically and in a world-bestriding militarism. look this is just obviously a set of principles that can't be held all at once without contradiction.
leftism runs aground on equality, which it proposes to accomplish by an extreme concentration of power in the hands of state bureaucracies. this is at its most excruciating in authoritarian communism: we propose equality accomplished by giving absolute power to state/party agents and removing power entirely from the rest of the population. american liberalism just does this in a milder way, and one way the extreme inegalitarianism of liberalism is visible is in its condescension: we will educate and uplift you in the way we see fit, for your own good. that there is a profoundly hierarchical orientation.
being a moderate is a way of trying to cobble together a compromise that recognizes the legitimacy of two positions that contradict each other and each of which contradicts itself: a really impressive accomplishment in utter irrationality.
now, maybe consistency is not something you want in a politician or a political system; maybe you want a pragmatist, not a logician. however, a contradiction cannot be instantiated in reality, and every step toward victory of either side is at once a further departure from its own fundamental values. a victory for either side would be its own complete failure.
maybe it's just my lack of imagination or empathy or something, but the sobbing north koreans seem just a trifle disingenuous to me. i need better resolution, but i'm not seeing the actual tears, only hearing the overwrought, seal-like barking. to be honest with you, i don't think you can quite 'brainwash' a whole population; really nothing is more evidently absurd than a cult of personality, especially when the object is as unprepossessing as the various kims. you can call people dear and beloved all you like: that's just funny (well, and a little bit pitiful or desperate), and i would think that many north koreans would be as capable of seeing that as anyone else; they're not robots or puppies, but have, i assume, almost human-like intellectual and emotional capacities. as i've often said, if you don't think there's a little dude in the corner snickering - especially at crap that ham-handed and boring and repetitive and obviously self-serving - you don't know our species very well, and that sort of thing is contagious. you know you can put posters up all over your school; that doesn't mean the adolescents aren't going to think your stuff is jive, or just experience it as white noise.
thank god, we are a fairly skeptical and cynical species, or at least we give rise to cynics and skeptics all the time. it'd very hard not to notice that you're starving while officials are eating, for example. the official you're immediately dealing with is obviously stupid and corrupt and all-too-human; so's the guy above him, whom you met one time; it's just liable to occur to you that it runs right up the ladder. and the ideology of these maoist assmonkeys is just so banal, so luridly false to the reality, so idiotically repetitive, and so on, that i just think that a lot of people won't, or literally won't even be able to, believe it. as havel said: you can get people to sort of act like they accept it (because there are terrible penalties for failing to simulate epistemic compliance); you can get them to shuffle from place to place on schedule or sob simulated sobs in unison; that doesn't mean everyone doesn't understand that they are being bombarded with jive.
krugman and others have been arguing that we're all keynesians now, in among other respects that we all see that government (deficit) spending is the only way to avert disaster, etc. here is a nice response, by robert samuelson. one sort of vibes that excessive keynesianism may just lead to a horrendous world financial meltdown and subsequent depression. of course, one would vibe that, and one could be wrong. krugman has struck back, and pointed out last week that the fed's 'printing money' to the tune of $ten trillion or whatever it is hasn't actually led to hyper-inflation, as your more miltonfriedmanian economists would predict. that's true, but we're still in the process of seeing what happens.
however, if there is a financial meltdown and/or an inflation nightmare, i predict that krugman will blame something else entirely, possibly even 'austerity.' then again, if it doesn't happen, your laissez-faire economists will have an explanation of that in line with their own theories. now, this might get you just a wee bit worried about whether anyone's position has anything to do with the empirical facts. the problem is that economics is very very closely bound up with ethics and politics; you nobelists can keep crunching numbers, but ultimately that's not where your commitment is. you already know how it has to turn out, unless you are terribly self-deceived: if you're a leftish economist, it will turn out that insufficient state activism is the prob. if right, excessive state action will be the culprit. really we might say that it's a very raw combat between pro- and anti-statists, whose commitments come way before evidence: in other words, a mirror of the left-right political spectrum in one of its nodes or permutations.
now, when you hear a friedman-type say that the situation shows that keynes had a point after all, or when, during the next extreme depression, krugman goes, oops i guess maybe keynes was wrong, then (and not until then) it might be rational to conclude that they're responsive to something in the world, that their economics is not purely a priori: a political ideology. if that doesn't happen, the numbers are actually neither here nor there for these people, however they may appeal to them in their arguments. guess what? that is obvious!
i'm saddened by the fact that kim jong il could die only once. there is infinitely much evidence that human beings are fools, but the fact that that chump could actually rule millions of people - that they would more or less do what he told them to do - is a decisive demonstration. i love a good cult of personality. throw in a raft of marxist jive and you've got a perfect storm of horseshit.
vaclav havel, who has died after enduring many health problems for decades, was a hero of mine. his essay "the power of the powerless" (there are excerpts here) did as good a job as possible in showing what ordinary life was like in a totalitarian nightmare, and suggesting how to resist, or how to keep some sort of hold on reality and dignity in a world dedicated to destroying both. it was hard to watch him struggle with being politically powerful himself; really his instincts were anarchist. on the other hand, there's no one i would have more happily voted for for president of anything.
people really really overestimate the power of their agreement with each other to create reality. so there's nothing a 'scholar of the law' takes to be a more devastating refutation of an opponent's position than 'outside the mainstream': they say it autonomically, just exactly as though they are unconscious. here's a nice little application of the idea, with regard to newt's wonderful notion of getting rid of whole federal circuit courts whose decisions he doesn't like, or calling judges before congress to explain their decisions:
“Overall, he’s racing towards a cliff,” said Bert Brandenburg, executive director of the nonpartisan Justice at Stake campaign, which advocates for an independent judiciary. “It may be expedient to appeal to specific voters in primaries or caucuses, but it’s a constitutional disaster. Americans want courts that can uphold their rights and not be accountable to politicians. When you get to the point where you’re talking about impeaching judges over decisions or abolishing courts or calling them before Congress, it’s getting very far away from the American political mainstream.”
now, brandenburg's concession that it works with caucus voters might start to get him worried about how 'outside the political mainstream' it really is. at any rate, it might be perfectly within the political mainstream the day after tomorrow, or during the gingrich administration.
The Museum of Modern Art offered two classics. “De Kooning: A Retrospective” (through Jan. 9) surprised no one and thrilled everyone: we knew it would be great; it turned out to be better than that.
the last thing you want to do is use what 'everyone knows' as a guide to critical judgment. people have been doing that specifically with de kooning for decades, and the enforced unanimity hasn't actually made the paintings any less repulsive or any more meaningful. look, with your own goddamn eyes.
simon brings my attention to cockburn on hitchens. i say this piece is based on three basic insights: (1) people who disagree with me are evil. (2) people who are more successful than me are evil. (3) people who are better than me at what i do are evil.
let me say something about the neo-con hitch (and also his friend martin amis), with their embrace of the concept of 'islamo-fascism,' and their suggestions that islam itself needed to be suppressed because of the terrorists who appeal to it. the anti-communist right-wingers of the fifties and sixties had cracked moments, and a really psychotic overreaction suggesting things such as that dwight eisenhower was an agent of the international communist conspiracy. they engaged in an active process of putting everyone under surveillance for intellectual purity, a kind of parody of what they were supposedly fighting against. but however, communism was a frigging nightmare, and if you weren't an anti-communist in 1961, and if you are not an anti-communist now, you were/are extremely wrong, an advocate of totalitarianism and evil. that joseph mccarthy was terribly wrong and extremely dangerous to liberty does not entail that josef stalin was ok. and in this case, if you have anything nice to say about al qaeda-type terrorism (like one of my colleagues at mica, who was in the habit calling osama a 'freedom fighter'), if you do anything to try to take the sting out of the sheer irrational evil, you are really really wrong. and if you think it can be detached entirely from islam, i think you're misguided, as i think the attempt to completely detach stalinism or the khmer rouge from marxist communism is a pitiful rationalization. and obviously hitchens' anti-religious fervor both fed and was fed by his 'islamophobia.' so: i think this led him into numerous extremely wrong conclusions. it led him to endorse something like a world war for the suppression of islam as a whole. but, there was a truth at the heart.
also, opinion journalism is not itself violence or repression. there's no point in vaguely holding hitchens responsible for invading iraq. what he did was write; that doesn't force anyone to do anything. this is one reason why we should defend freedom of expression at its widest scope. the right response to hitchens is to refute the arguments; if he kicked your ass you had no one to blame but yourself, and you should have tried again. i'll give cockburn this: he did try to do that. he is no match for hitchens in argument or polemic or wit, but that just means he needs more craft.
also if he was wrong on this, it of course does not follow that he was wrong in his literary judgments, or his picture of the history of ideas, or whatever it may be. he was often right about such things, and spoke from a depth of knowledge and reflection that made the arguments compelling even if not right.
here is an amazingly ignorant, yet excruciatingly conventional, piece of claptrap, courtesy of forbes: if i were a poor black kid. all it shows is that gene marks is utterly white, white as a ream of copy paper: if he were a poor black kid, he'd be a bourgeois white kid. get good grades. that's his advice. if i were a poor black kid, i'd kick your lily-white ass.
i deeply admired christopher hitchens, and regarded him as a model: for his extreme erudition (often in unusual corners), the sharpness and quantity of his writing, his absolute refusal of any conventional wisdom. now some stuff you should recall: he spent years trying to discredit mother teresa, for some reason; he hated hated the clintons, especially hillary, and eviscerated them in essay after essay over a couple of decades; he supported the iraq invasion. in short, he had tremendous perversity and was always trying to shock and anger people who would otherwise be thought to be more or less people like himself. these are things i also admire, though i disagreed often. don't judge a writer by how much you agree; judge him by how well he writes, how bold he is, how much he knows, how intensely himself he is.
a writer who provokes and irritates you is better for you, and more interesting to read, than a writer who confirms what you already believe. i can't imagine why leftists keep reading krugman, or conservatives krauthammer. you could write that shit yourself. the leftists should be reading krauthammer and the rightists krugman, obviously. the audiences of fox news and msnbc need to switch. they would be more entertained. all the 'echo-chamber' shows is that that you believe you need authorization even to think. you'd be thinking more, and more clearly, if you sought out a challenge. hitchens challenged a lot of people, and was actually pretty unpredictable (although also obsessively repetitive with regard to his eccentric preoccupations), which has mere ideologues like krugman or krauthammer beat all hollow.
people indicate that it was lovable that he drank scotch all day and chain-smoked. i imagine that the vices were a little less amusing in reality than in theory - a little less charming up close than from far away - and that they killed him.
were i declaring winners, not in the sense of who expressed positions i agreed with, but who moved the audience, i would say bachmann and perry. bachmann is extremely slash and burn, but it really worked. and perry did somewhat more than not fuck up. i would not be surprised to see another bubble for one or both before jan 3. bachmann i think did really hurt paul for a right audience on iran. it's easy to portray paul's isolationism as a terrible risk, and paul's anti-miltarism is foreign to the vernacular of most republicans.
night-night y'all! (or tab, anyway.) and remember, there are few problems that can't be solved by legalizing meth, and requiring its universal abuse.
10:47 bachmann says that pro-life is a 'seminal' issue. very true! also an ovumal issue.
10:46 it's been a very long time since we heard from ron.
10:42 romney habiltually refers to himself as 'we.' the committee that is him is fractured by various internal disagreements. maybe he can solve the partisan disagreements in washington if he can resolve the partisan disagreements within.
10:34 perry says that al qaeda, hezbollah, and hamas are using the porous us/mexican border to 'penetrate the southern united states.' um, really? it sounds like an arab terrorist invasion from mexico. funny that most of us haven't noticed. really, you gonna jack up the fear with these sorts of fictions? you don't think mexican drug cartels are bad enough to get us all worked up? or what? you want to do something about the drug cartels, legalize drugs a la paul.
10:26 bachmann can be terrible. but she often surprises me, and she's doing quite well this evening. she's combative, reasonably articulate, knows at least something. for that matter, perry is doing ok. nice little 10th-amendment lecture just now, dealing with the question of whether his support in texas of the energy industry is like obama's with solyndra, etc. admittedly, the threshold is pretty low.
10:24 i do worry that when republican voters hear paul's anti-war thing, they just won't go there. it's still the party of dick cheney to some extent, the party of the national security state. paul sounds more like bob dylan.
10:21 newt can be very funny and improvisational. and turning it around now to attacking obama is welcome to this audience at this point as they've been attacking each other, as paul and bachmann.
10:20 perry calls for a no-fly zone over syria and also for 'no distance' between american and israeli policy. surely the distance should depend on what the israelis do. and has israel called for a no-fly zone over syria?
10:18 huntsman is irrelevant.
10:15 bachmann does score points in these things: 'i think i have never heard a more dangerous answer for american security than what was just given by ron paul.' well, that's a worry. really this exchange between paul and bachmann on 'the war on terror' etc. is one of the clearest and most pointed and most passionate discussions i've actually seen in american politics. they've got diametrically opposed positions which they are expressing directly. respect, y'all.
10:09 baier wants to push paul to admit he's running to the left of obama on iran. but that whole left-right thing is just irrelevant to what he's doing. someone else on fox earlier today called paul a rock-ribbed, fundamentalist, pure conservative. really, what would that be? small state plus huge, world-bestriding military, plus enforcement of religious values? or what, really? there is nothing it means to be a conservative, or for that matter a liberal. they're just grab-bags of arbitrary preferences, smushed into single positions by social and historical forces. that's ok, i guess, only stop pretending you're articulating a position with even vague logical consistency. and please stop judging the consistency of other people by demanding that they meet your incoherent criteria.
9:57 perry suggests eliminating lifetime terms for federal judges. that would require amending the constitution, but that's not the sort of fact that perry could possibly have on board.
9:55 it's almost bizarre how paul just thinks about the question and answers directly. he can't picture the congress issuing subpoenas for judges or abolishing courts, a la gingrich's bizarre and entirely extra-constitutional approach. really i'm not sure gingrich can picture any sphere of human life that is not in service to partisan politics. people who suggest things like that are suggesting really destroying our system of government. and then newt's all about american history, american exceptionalism, the constitution, etc. um.
9:47 romney's answer to 'what sectors of the economy will provide the most jobs in the future?' was just about as good as it could be.
9:44 huntsman: 'in the 21st century, we'll only have two relationships that matter: the united states and china.' even what he's trying to say is false. what he did say is just incomprehensible.
9:43 Perry: 'i want congress to live within the laws of which they pass.' geez i didn't know he was one of my students working up a paper the night before it's due.
9:41 i've been critical of paul's debate performances in the past. i feel that he's kicking ass tonight. very simple, but compelling, and plausible when he says: unlike the rest of these folks, i don't want, and i don't want to be, a powerful executive who polices the world and people's individual decisions. you know he means it because you can see who he is.
9:29 newt's endorsement of 'government-sponsored enterprises' is going to go over like a lead balloon among iowa republicans. and his claim that he never did any lobbying obviously depends on an extremely close technical interpretation of the term. i have a feeling that newt's heading for a collapse. that might be the big story out of the caucuses, because the media still can't understand what paul is saying. one of my colleagues told me this morning that paul has 'consistency problems.' why? because some of his positions are liberal and some conservative. people don't even have the equipment to understand what he's saying, or any real notion of what 'consistency' means. that is the result of seeing everything through a right-left lens. any point on that spectrum is itself inconsistent, and regards non-compliance with its inconsistency as...inconsistency. listen up, welfare-state anarchists!
9:28 romney is coming off pretty well, i think.
9:24 did you know that the only real measure of your love for someone is how big the xmas presents you buy them are? just thought i'd throw that in during the break.
9:21 huntsman: the people want to be told where you can take them. um. rather not.
9:20 paul: you've got two parties up there: the party of welfare and the party of warfare. that's nice. a fare for all and no fare to anybody, to quote the firesign theater.
9:19 newt always says that obama is a 'saul alinsky radical.' i wonder how many people really resonate to that.
9:16 santorum has found the right move: the people will lead, not me. many of these people just constantly express extreme egomania as though that lends them credibility: i will lead, which is romney's move, and bachmann's, and hunstman's. romney's hitting it insufferably right now.
9:14 huntsman, day after day, debate after debate, minute by minute, just does not make it. i'm trying to figure out how to say why.
9:13 perry says he'll 'get it on' with obama. on national television! he's wrapping himself in tebow too.
9:11 bachmann's pendulous eyelashes get more ferocious every week. the other candidates oughtta emulate this aspect of her platform.
9:08 santorum's smile is frozen.
9:07 paul really is very charming. raw milk, baby.
9:05 newt's trope that obama is 'radical' is bizarre. surely obama has massive moderate instincts. maybe it's an index of far right the rep party has gone.
i'll give it a shot this evenin. long day, however, and my usual beddy-bye is round 10, so we'll see how far i go. push has come to shove. it's a high-pressure situation, and i might say that i'm glad i'm not on that stage. still i'd kick their asses.
at the risk of incurring the wrath of cb and la rana - should she still be lurking about - i want to assert that it is obvious that ron paul's positions are closer to anarchism than are, say, elizabeth warren's. i think that the fundamental commitment has to be to dismantling oppressive institutions, not to the ancient ideology of the left-right spectrum. the left-right spectrum was designed to present you with a choice between totalitarianisms. hop off.
people said gingrich was 'peaking at just the right time,' but five weeks out from iowa this time around is not just the right time. caucus evening is the right time. there has already been plenty of time to smack gingrich around, with plenty more coming. folks such as mike barnicle are still mumbling the con wisdom: 'ron paul will never be the republican nominee, much less president of the united states.' maybe not, but life can sneak up even on the conventional wisdom. paul is certainly well-served by the 'consistency problems' of romney and gingrich. and he is building steadily. my slogan would be 'ron paul: raw milk,' a precise description of his persona. but i just ordered a new 'ron paul: restore america' bumper sticker. a bachmann or santorum surge is still possible. i can't imagine how anyone could vote for rick perry for anything, but you never know. i think it is even possible that after iowa or after new hampshire someone could try to hop in (i'm not sure about ballot status in that situation), particularly if paul wins and the 'republican establishment' does a total freak. i do remember the late entry of bobby kennedy in '68, e.g., in a gene mccarthy-caused party freakout.
this gleefully publicized notion that people who watch fox news know less than people held in an isolation chamber is just ridiculous. honestly i don't care what your poll shows. tell you what, tonight watch special report with bret baier and fox report with shepard smith, then tell me they didn't cover the day's news. you'll get more or less the same info as you would on wolf blitzer or abc nightly news, with plenty of overlap with tomorrow's new york times and news hour. there might be a few symptoms of rightwingedness; maybe they'll find a little anti-christmas story from florida or something. but they will cover the news.
that the nfl limits more or less everybody to a single game in the 4pm time slot is ridiculous. (right now we're all stuck watching the packers blow out the raiders, while close games are happening elsewhere.) maybe somehow they want to funnel everyone into the same advertisements at the same time. or maybe they have a deal with directv, which is the only provider that will even sell you all nfl games. but really it cannot make business sense. surely you want to maximize your total audience, so given that you've got a broadcast crew at every game, you should make them all available, even on the web. otherwise i'll be watching tennessee-martin at bethune-cookman in field hockey in a minute here. of course, many people are not in the markets of the team they root for, so while they always do broadcast the in-market team, a lot of us miss most of our games. i listen to the redskins on internet radio.
what actual businesses of now have found out is that it doesn't pay to constantly irritate and alienate your customers. you want them to have an easy and good experience every time. you want to give them what they want, a decent actual lesson of capitalism. it's like when, in the late 80s/early 90s, consultants designed stores that would funnel you down the far-right aisle to the back wall if you entered the store at all: they literally forced you to walk down a long aisle of sale items, then all the way back to the front to get anything. they might even have sold slightly more stuff per customer. but the stores were always empty because you immediately realized it was going to take you twice as long to find and pay for anything than across the street. and you immediately understood that you were being manipulated in a hideous psychological experiment, with you cast as the rodent, rather than being served. floor plans have been opening up ever since.
provisionally, i admire david cameron's go-it-alone approach with regard to europe. i wouldn't frame this in terms of sovereignty myself, but rather just say that, other things being equal, i'm in favor of balkanization, fragmentation. it's hard not to realize that though the euro had some good effects there for awhile, when the thing starts to go bad, you are at the mercy of forces completely beyond your control. surely merkel is having that sensation, but so is the government of greece. the problem with centralization of huge swathes of geography and economy is the extreme distance it imposes between individual and community will and action and the actual decisions that affect them. the more distant power is from all the sites over which it operates, the less accountable to any it can possibly be. one loses all control at the level of multi-national bodies over one's own fate, and one loses all responsibility.
'sovereignty' in this case is an alternative way of saying that. but you could make the same case for scottish or welsch independence, or really, breaking political and economic power down into local communities. you might be able to achieve greater prosperity for some bit of time by consolidation, but then you are at the mercy of the powers constituted, and when things go wrong you are unable to do anything to shape your own destiny. that's why i'm a proud splittist. it's easy to picture the further consolidation of europe at this point as something that many people in many countries come deeply to regret in the long run: merely a way of generalizing the meltdown.
if i was running israel or if i was in the republican jewish coalition i would actually worry about the extreme enthusiasm for your nation and people of the likes of bachmann and perry, and of all the republican candidates (except paul) insofar as they abase themselves before israel as a way to court evangelical votes. these people intend to convert you, in order to hasten the rapture. for that matter, is that the kind of idea we want as the basis of our middle east policy? obviously it has no rational aspect; it doesn't pursue american interests; it doesn't try to understand anything that's happening on the ground at all; it slaps an a priori and completely rationally arbitrary interpretation on the realities; it is a delusional or psychotic approach to an actually dangerous zone of conflict and to actual real persons. also it is a formula for religious war.
meanwhile newt's notion that the palestinian people are an invention is extraordinarily offensive, and ought to to give everyone doubts about a newt presidency. in some sense every people is invented. 'the american people' is an invention, though it's newt's favorite trope. that doesn't mean it isn't real. you need to listen to how people identify themselves and take that perfectly seriously. but this is a little prelude to 'cultural genocide'; whatever you may call yourselves, you don't count, and the destruction of your culture would not be the destruction of anything.
the media keeps wondering things like whether the tea party can get behind newt gingrich. but there is no such thing, any longer, as the tea party. when was the last time you saw a small local demonstration with handmade signs and funny hats? instead you have dick armey raising corporate money for right republican candidates. now, occupy, let that be a lesson to you. if you listen to obama's appropriation of your critique and get annexed to the dems, you no longer mean anything.
obviously, even as obama goes all '99%', he raises wall street money; he pumps 'liquidity' into the banking system by the trillions, etc. this is what he could do if he intended to change anything about american politics or our economic inequalities etc: raise money only from small contributions of individuals. remember how impressive his fundraising was along those lines in '08? look at how howard dean or ron paul have raised money to run presidential campaigns. people will say he 'has' to raise corporate money. that is false. and making this move might actually increase his fundraising overall, believe it or not: it would be inspiring. since he doesn't actually put anything at stake in a way that could change the total merger of political and economic power, he doesn't have any credibility when he throws down occupy slogans. he is the system his rhetoric attacks.
i'm glad to see protests erupting in moscow. putin is an autocrat, and i'd like the know the actual amount of his personal fortune. and my belief is that he pursued a policy of systematic genocide in chechnya.
i guess chanting 'middle class' like a parrot must still be focus-grouping well, though i find it hard to imagine why. it's as though this were 2004 and obama had decided to pursue the losing strategy developed by the miserable john kerry. i wouldn't, for example, frame the whole issue of income inequality as being about 'the middle class.' more or less everyone is implicated. whether or not it's a delusion, i don't think most americans immediately define themselves in terms of social class, so i think that few people are really going to vibrate to the message. really it's though you expect people to raise their fists and chant 'we. are. middle. class': as inspiring as oatmeal. at least we aren't poor. maybe '99%' is better than i thought.
there's a reason why gingrich might get more of a pass on inconsistencies than romney. you can more or less see that gingrich is excited by his ideas, that he's inside them. he seems to have the right relation to the positions he puts forward; he seems sincere. romney seems merely to be mouthing whatever soundbite will get him your vote; there's no connection of the man and his positions. admittedly, this may be a kind of illusion either way. but i think what's being assessed isn't changes of positions merely, but changes of positions in relation to their expression, or in relation to a whole public persona. nor do i think this response is irrelevant or irrational: you're electing a person, not a position paper, and the person as well as the position can be jive, in which case no one can really be committed to the candidacy. that's romney's problem; i don't see how anyone could really put their heart into his candidacy or regard it as truly important or possibly 'transformational,' etc. but you can do that with gingrich: he can sort of capture your imagination as a person.
you'd have to say that the republican jewish coalition badly misunderstands the idea of political discourse or debate. it's great that you have all the other candidates falling over each other to express the most extreme support for israel. but the idea that paul's contrasting view cannot even be permitted to be expressed is pitiful. what's your fear? that people might find him persuasive?
ron paul is gaining some traction: showing up around 17% and in third place in both iowa and new hampshire. now i think this libertarian thing is characteristic of american politics; i'm not sure you will find something quite like that in finland or kazakhstan. indeed, paul's positions really are jeffersonian (including: isolationism, anti-taxation, skepticism of centralized power). the only tradition that would have as firm roots in american political history would be a kind of classical and patrician republicanism of the sort we might associate with the federalist party, in different flavors in hamiton and adams. it would be remarkable to see a revival; what if paul suddenly caught fire or got the republican nomination? this is less inconceivable than people think
even a month ago, the common wisdom was that paul would always top out around 10%. well, he's clawed up from there. there just is not a plausible and attractive candidate; evidently i'm not the only person who finds romney...repulsive. and like many pundits i would not be surprised moment by moment to see gingrich self-destruct.
both occupy and the tea party might find paul more congenial than they do obama or romney, and to the extent that these movements represent larger constitutencies which leak into the mainstream right and left, there could conceivably be a profound and seemingly bizarre realignment of the american political spectrum. really almost anybody might on a given day look with an extremely jaundiced eye at the actual effects of consolidated state and economic power and contemplate a severe decentralization. and almost anyone might look at the differences between the mainstream right and the mainstream left and see the division as incoherent or trivial, while the partisanship across the little bitty division freezes both in absurd inaction.
and then, i think the 100% americanism of the paul standpoint will always have a compelling rhetorical quality. all these candidates might say they think that america is the greatest nation in the history of the world and that our political tradition is unique, etc. only paul actually does anything about that or enacts it, or even has any genuine commitment to the constitution. the idea that we move forward by reviving the tradition of our founders - the theme of obama's inaugural address, for example - is one that paul is in a position to express with some sincerity. and that's what i'd suggest were i advising his campaign: transform the thing from a sheer refusal into an optimistic vision of a truly american future, a vast horizon, etc. quote jefferson; quote madison; then quote jefferson again. then: liberty is our unique legacy - our ancestral home - but also our unruly, limitless destiny.