The Rubio Moment

What I’m about to describe hasn’t come about because of Marco Rubio; rather, Marco Rubio is possible because the moment is upon us. The seeming rush to pass immigration reform came not from a strong impulse of the conservative movement, but from a demographic reality: if Latinos vote as heavily democratic as they did in 2012, Republicans will not see the inside of the White House for a very long time. Add New England minus Maine, DC,  and Washington and Oregon to states with large Latino populations, and you have 271 electoral votes.

Republicans have been making the argument for a while that Latinos are part of their natural constituency due to their family values (a backhanded swipe, I think at blacks) for a long time. But they’ve said the same think about Jews, Asians, etc. What they fail to realize is that if your number one social characteristic is your minority status, that is going to be the most important political issue to you and the party of the Neoconfederates demanding conformity is going to be a hard sell.

But what the Rubio moment represents in the broader politics of the hemisphere is the final nail in the always tenuous argument that Latin America and its history ended at the Rio Grande. For a long time the US has looked to Europe disproportionately due to old ties, the ongoing game of power diplomacy, and so on. The strange and mysterious world of Asia caught our eye in large part due to WWII and Cold War entanglements and miscellaneous yellow perils still haunt the front page sections of our news.

But when our largest minority, a huge portion of our oil, a huge portion of our trade, and a large portion of our historical military adventures come from the same hemisphere it has strangely never been paid as much attention. If the argument of America being separated north and south by mass consciousness, it could be made.

But the key facts of the history of this hemisphere over the last 500 years are the same enough to at least talk about them in more unity than, say, we would talk about the history of Peru and India or Peru and Egypt.

Columbus touched off an age of imperialism that saw the near destruction of native populations, replaced either by slaves or underclasses from Europe and Africa and put into a quasi-feudal plantation system that massively and permanently enriched a small upper class.

But now a whole new tie binds the two together: the fact that Latinos themselves are becoming the most important political minority in the United States, which makes it the case that the United States is the country with the second most Spanish speakers in the world, second only to Mexico.

If you’re a Californian, this isn’t news to you today. It might have been news to your Republican neighbors in the 90s, but with the exception of the RINO Schwarzenegger, they haven’t controlled anything in this state since their support of Proposition 187 turned the Latino community decisively against them.

Maybe Republicans elsewhere dismissed this as whacky California. But they won’t be laughing when it happens in Texas.

You Are Not The Intended Audience

I must be the only one that seems to think that neither Mexicans nor Gays are the intended audience of the Republican “outreach” initiative. I think the intended audience is their socially conservative base, who are, once again, going to get sold out by the institutional party and its anti-tax establishment.

This is just their excuse for letting an immigration bill pass and for doing nothing to stop gay marriage nationally. Notice they haven’t backed down on the budget or guns yet. That’s because they are not experiencing a sustained tidal wave of negative consequences on those issues, and neither of them have really cost them the White House recently.

I doubt gays and Latinos are going to become Republicans immediately en masse, but if the party ever wants them it has to start at some point.

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

There have been numerous stories lately coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War about why there were “liberal hawks.”

This one goes into great detail about their alleged philosophy. I just don’t think philosophy had much to do with it. I suspect what bothers the others is not that they were wrong, but that there is such a thing as a liberal who can support a war.

Inasmuch as I am one of those people, I should explain. I was against the Iraq War, as documented below. But I certainly was for the invasion of Afghanistan, though not in the form it took or in its permanence. If merely being a non-aboslutist regarding pacifism makes one a hawk, then I’m a hawk.

Older liberals have never met a war they liked, but they’ve also rarely met a government they’ve liked. So, they have an internal tension about the question of, at what point (if any) does a rejection of an oppressive government justify military action?

This tension was exploited masterfully by the Bush administration, just as all the other excuses for war were with the problem being that while many of the arguments they made sounded right, none of the underlying facts were true.

In other words, far more people would support a war if it meant the overthrow of a cruel genocidal dictator (on the assumption, at least, that it wouldn’t result in more death and general civil breakdown, etc.), the overthrow of a bellicose country in pursuit of nuclear weapons, or a retaliatory attack on someone who aided the 9/11 attacks, or even a “preemptive” attack on a country that was an “imminent” threat to the US (this is often called the “Bush Doctrine”).

Anyone who wouldn’t at least grant those instances was a Pacifist-Absolutist, right? The trouble was, there was no indication that removing Saddam would improve Iraq, he had no nuclear weapons even in development, he was not connected to 9/11, and posed no threat to the United States.

It wasn’t the arguments that were bad, it was the facts.

Most American supported President Kennedy’s stand on Cuba after all, and his line was considered almost traitorously weak by some who believed we just had to immediately invade Cuba. How many people would have supported leaving the missiles in Cuba?

So, liberals were put in a situation where they either had to (a) argue the facts and perhaps seem paranoid (b) become extremely pacifist and neither of these were popular positions at the time, especially in the mainstream media.





Josh starts to get it…

El Josh:

Really, wholly apart from any constitutional or legal issue, why would the US government use a drone to attack a suspected terrorist in the US — as opposed to arresting them or in a more extreme situation attacking them in their compound/house like the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department did with Chris Dorner last month. And if things really got totally out of hand, why not a conventional bomber or fighter jet since there’s no anti-aircraft capacity in the US that the US military or US government doesn’t control?

A real question is whether police and SWAT teams should use militarized tactics in raids within the US. That’s a real question. Whether we think drone attacks inside the US are alright or not is a silly one.

The whole thing confirms my belief that in most cases the ‘drone issue’ is a distraction from actual civil liberties or war powers questions.

No shit, Sherlock.


If you are among those who don’t believe the alleged Russian money launderers in Cyprus deserve a bailout, then why wasn’t the plan crafted more narrowly to deal with them?

Also why did launderers everywhere else get one? And banksters? And without any process to separate them from innocents?

Maybe “Russian” is a fnord in German electoral politics?

Capital Controls In Cyprus Create De Facto Different Currency

At this hour, I’m reading that a deal has been reached by the Cypriot president and the Euro officials to bailout their banks in exchange for an up to 40% levy on deposits of above €100,000. Two things about this:

• Apparently, this deal didn’t require ratification by the Cypriot parliament. The EU has shown not only its disdain for democracy, but now for representative democracy.

The strict capital controls in Cyprus are antithetical to the fundamental principles of the European Union—supposedly, it’s “Four Freedoms” are the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people within the EU’s 27 member states. This will distort the value of the Euro within Cyprus and make it different than inside.

So, to recap, an undemocratic deal undermining the founding purposes of the EU was reached to keep a single currency stable, under the control of bureaucrats in Brussels and bankers in Frankfurt.

UPDATE: Tyler Cowen (Econ. Prof. George Mason Univ.): “8. The capital controls will have to be strict.  What will the price of a Cypriot euro be, relative to a German euro?  50%?  I call this Cyprus leaving the euro but keeping the word “euro” to save face.  And yet they fail to reap most of the advantages of leaving the euro, such as having an independent monetary policy.”


10 Years Ago (Since everyone's doing it)

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Ari Fleischer:

“Iraq is a wealthy nation, and it should do what wealthy nations should do, use it for peaceful purposes, not military ones.”
Isn’t the US a wealthy nation?

7:46:50 AM your comments []


Operation Iraqi Freedom. Freedom from what? Their mortal coil. No, no. I know, from Saddam.

7:27:02 AM your comments []

but back in September of 2002, I was already sure this was bullshit:

I hate Saddam. I feel for the Iraqi people. Now, granted, I don’t have access to classified information. But, with the information I have I can see no reason to invade Iraq, especially if they comply with the weapons inspection regime. We should continue to enforce the Northern No-Fly Zone, which enables the de facto Kurdish state in the there.

This is essentially a smoke and mirrors trick. The economy still sucks. Afghanistan still needs to be rebuilt. Al-Qaeda still operates throughout the world. President Bush is spending America’s political capital on a sideshow. He’s also burning Colin Powell to do it, which is a shame. Who would be surprised to see Powell replaced by someone more Hawkish?

Cyprus Revolts


We are witnessing historic times. What we are witnessing is the slow death of the European Project. We are in a situation that some European governments are essentially taking actions that are telling citizens of other member states that they are not equal under the law.
What we have seen in the last few days is a very serious blunder by European governments that are essentially blackmailing the government of Cyprus to confiscate the money that belongs rightfully to depositors in the banking sector in Cyprus. It is not clear how this can affect in a positive matter the European project going forward.

These are the words of Anthanasios Orphanides, former governor of Cyrpus’s central bank and researcher for the U.S. Fed on Bloomberg TV today. Maybe the Troika thought this would slip through without anyone noticing, but it hasn’t. Orphanides might be overstating the case, or he might not.

It’s clear that the creditor countries, in this case especially in Germany, which faces an election this fall, are acting based on their own internal political interests, but it’s a controversy when Cyprus does—or at least against their policies?

(The Guardian reports that the bailout is about to be has been rejected by the Cyrpiot parliament.)

Sure, you can’t underwrite a corrupt Greek public sector and a government that won’t collect taxes, or a bunch of supposed dirty Russian money in Cyprus. But the whole idea behind bailouts is that there is a situation whose resolution under any terms is preferable to the collapse. The strings attached should indeed be connected with reforms, but instead what we’ve seen is that they are as much about inflicting pain on the people in these countries (whether or not they are rich, whether or not they supported the problem, etc.). Even if you are correct making these points, you can’t expect everyone to just take their beatings from the German S&M master without complaint.

And so of course the net result is not only just no reform, but a backlash that makes things worse and permanent damage to the prospects for a European Union so that Merkel can win her election in Germany.

If David Cameron wasn’t so busy implementing the same bad policies in the UK, and mainly for the purposes of protecting his own bankers, he’d be a great leader for the opposition to rally around. (Hey, at least he’s accountable to the voters there.) But it sure is making it look good to his public, who, by the way, is scheduled to have an “in/out” vote on the EU if the Tories are returned to government.

One wonders if this isn’t the hammer driving the nail in the coffin for that reason, just as Orphanides says.


I believe our “moral compass” is an important element of our humanity and sometimes it is difficult or even impossible to reduce it to reason. But what are not, and should not be, without much more study and research to put meat on the bones, part of the policy-making process is our gut-feeling or Philosophy 101 thought experiments.

The “Trolley Problem” is something that ethicists like to toy with. And here’s an NPR writer on it:

Consider a 2009 study by Harvard psychology professor Joshua Greene and colleagues. The researchers presented participants with versions of “trolley problems,” thought experiments with roots in moral philosophy that have taken on new life in psychology experiments.

In the two trolley problems we’ll consider, a regular guy (Joe) observes the following situation: an empty, runaway trolley car is speeding down the tracks toward five workmen on the tracks ahead. If nothing is done, all five of them face certain death.

There happens to be a sixth workman with a heavy backpack standing next to Joe on a footbridge above the tracks. If the sixth workman were on the track instead of above it, the combined weight of his body plus the backpack would be enough to halt the empty trolley car, saving the five men. Unfortunately, it would lead to the certain death of the man with the backpack.

(Joe, our bystander, doesn’t weigh enough to stop the trolley car were he the one on the track. And yes, this is all terribly unrealistic, but participants are told that this is exactly what would happen and that Joe knows it’s exactly what would happen.)

Is it morally acceptable for Joe to push the man off the footbridge, killing him while preventing the deaths of the five workmen on the track?

If you feel uneasy saying yes, you’re in good company. Most people find the idea of pushing the man off the footbridge less than morally palatable.

First, it’s not clear that most people find that idea “less than morally palatable.” In this study, 90% chose to kill the guy. Except a 2008 study found that 90% wouldn’t do it, here, and more or less accused the 10% who would of being psychopaths. There is clearly a methodological problem here.

Second, let me put it to you this way. Did the people on flight 93 act morally when they crashed the plane? That was the deliberate killing of 44 people in order to save an unknown number of people (it could have been more or less—125 were killed at the Pentagon by another flight, so depending on the target, who knows?)

Despite what this writer implies, the passengers of Flight 93 are almost universally regarded as heroes and have probably entered the permanent pantheon of American heroes.

I am still of the opinion that part of the problem with this argument is that it assumes that the non-robotic shooter has the same discipline. Lotsa people get shot by skittish cops. Just sayin.’

The fact remains: there is no rational argument against drones. If I hear one, I’ll let you know.

Of Course They Knew

Everyone knew. We just didn’t care. Also, not sure that this really is the kind of source where you go, “oh, really?! sry kthankbai” I knew there were no WMD and who was I?

Fresh evidence is revealed today about how MI6 and the CIA were told through secret channels by Saddam Hussein’s foreign minister and his head of intelligence that Iraq had no active weapons of mass destruction.

Krugthulu on Cyprus

Krugman looks at the big picture. I’d say that the small picture is that many Europeans are starting to feel like men from Brussels with orders from Berlin are showing up and putting guns to their parliaments’ heads. Exaggerated? True? Doesn’t matter. This is the politics the actions have wrought.

And here’s what I wrote in 2005 when France said “non” to federal Europe:

The economic union of the countries in question has existed in some form or another for almost 50 years. A financial crisis, not a political one, will signal its demise, if there is to be one.

That’s 8 years ago before there was much trouble, and the title of the post was “France’s ‘non’ and the real estate bubble.” Pretty damn good analysis for the first half of 2005, no?

What is clearer in retrospect is that the EU was always based on the United States and when the federal constitution was rejected in 2005, it left it as an “Articles of Confederation” setup. And remember, the United States needed a civil war to get its internal Constitution perfected.

It seems to me that the big mistake was probably expanding too far too fast which made the thought of a federal Europe just too scary. France, Germany, Benelux, Italy, Spain, Scandinavia, Austria, and maybe a couple more like Estonia or Portugal would have been the place to start with the federal Europe.

More Eurotrash: Cyprus

I hope the situation in Cyprus is a tempest in a teapot, but as Duncan Black says, “we are ruled by the stupidest fucking people in the world.” Austerity has created a ton of trouble in Europe, and they are still having what Keynes called “magneto” trouble. Why?

With the richer countries of the eurozone suffering from bail-out fatigue, there was resistance – particularly in Germany – to the idea that ordinary European taxpayers should be writing blank cheques to Russian oligarchs who might have been using Cyprus as a money laundering destination.

As a result, there will be a “stability levy” of 6.75% on all bank deposits of less than €100,000 (£87,000) and 9.9% for those above €100,000. In addition, there will be the now familiar strings attached to the financial help: austerity and structural reform.

If this is what the Germans thought was going on, they were remarkably myopic. Assuming that the crisis is behind them is hard to imagine considering Italy can’t form a government, France hates the one they just elected, Spain has 50% youth unemployment, Neo-Fascist parties are on the rise in Greece, and antidemocratic “reforms” are taking root in Hungary and Romania.

So now, everyone is going to think that their bank savings is at risk in Spain and Italy, they will, naturally, pull their goddamn money out and stick it somewhere else. This will only accelerate their banking crises, which will only accelerate their economic problems, and will only exacerbate the Euro crisis.

This isn’t over yet.

Hungary: EU's Dictatorship

So, you know that famous European Union court of justice that goes around making all kinds of nagging regulations impinging on the sovereignty of European states? You know like telling the UK that insurance benefits must be gender neutral?

Seems that the EU can’t even get it together to stop its own member, Hungary, from this:

…Orban bypassed Hungary’s constitutional court to push through new constitutional amendments that would effectively blast a gaping hole through the country’s nascent democratic principles.


Those measures, Orban’s fourth overhaul of Hungary’s constitution since 2010, include provisions that redefine the notion of family to exclude gay or childless couples, enable local authorities to penalize the homeless, restrict political advertising in election campaigns and force state-funded university students to work in Hungary after they graduate.


After the constitutional court initially rejected them, Orban used his hefty majority to strongarm the amendments into legislation. They were approved by parliament and undersigned by the president this week.

WTF? The EU’s response? A Sternly Worded Letter®.

“We will use all instruments in our competence to address this issue,” EC President Jose Manuel Barroso said.

My Euroscepticism grows and grows.

The Fear Years, Slowly….

The Fear Years: That miserable epoch from the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01 to Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, about September 1, 2005. In those four years a not-really-elected President started a disastrous war of choice, enacted tax cuts and economic policy that would destroy the economy, and oversaw any number of medium bore policy scandals that fester on as flesh wounds to this day. To oppose any of these ideas, to oppose the Man himself, was said to oppose the Country itself, or to be “with the terrorists” as the “President” Himself put it.

Fear was a condition, a means and an end. The condition of Fear — stoked by the immaculate timing of the the M&M-hued terror “alerts” — created a need to believe in and never critisize the Leader as he found a means to “fight” terror by invading Iraq, the result of which was a seemingly endless conflict that required countless treasure to assure success, or else the terrorists would win in the end.

While this mania waned it did not truly end until Katrina proved that the Bush Regime was too incompetent to even respond to a predicted natural disaster. An electorate that consisted of largely the same people that “elected” Bush twice installed a Democratic Congress in 2006 (over Bush’s declaration that to do so would mean that the terrorists would win) and elected Obama — who seemed, on the surface, to be the antithesis of Bush — in 2008.

It was as if the 2006 repudiation and the 2008 arrival of a “redeemer” would reverse the Fear Years. But that isn’t so. The disasters of the Fear Years still linger over the country. The recent Rachel Maddow documentary on the venal build up to the war in Iraq, and the sinister conflation of Saddam with al Qaeda, is jarring because in its simple factual way it forces the viewer to confront the the mendacity of the time.

Far more effective than the Maddow piece is the last two episodes of the Showtime series “Oliver Stone’s: Untold History of the United States.” “Untold” is the greatest voice-over history documentary ever made. That is not to say that I agree with all of its points. The hero of “Untold” is Henry Wallace, FDRs penultimate vice-president who was removed from the ticket in favor of Harry Truman by Democratic Party bosses at the 1944 Democratic Convention. Stone is convinced that Wallace’s humanism as President after FDR’s death would have crafted a different and better Post-WWII world than Truman’s militarism. Such “what if” speculation is fun, but meaningless. The same militant forces that prevailed upon Truman would have been there with Wallace too. Had he opposed them, perhaps they would have aligned themselves completely with the Republicans and we may have been treated to Reactionary Movement conservatives in power in the 50s and 60s instead of the 80s, 90s and 00s. Or maybe not, who knows and who can know? “Untold” also focuses most of its attention on Foreign Policy. It praises JFK for usurping his generals after the Cuban Missile Crisis and lambasts LBJ for escalating the Vietnam War, but doesn’t mention that it took LBJs legislative genius to pass JFKs program, and then some.

That said, what makes “Untold” so effective is Stone’s artistic genius for images. “Untold” consists of mostly 2 to 7 second visual clips, overspersed with Stone’s narration and emotive, cinematic music. Where there are not visuals, Stone isn’t afraid to offer representation in the form of movies, or even have actors mimic real figures while reading quotes that were unrecorded. The result is a psycahdelic stream-of-visual-consciousness that moves history out of the frontal cortex (where the Maddow documentary presided) into the older, visceral regions of the brain.

It is the willingness to mix emotions and argument that make “Untold” the most effective readily available analysis of Bush II and the Fear Years. In one brilliant sequence, “Untold” flashes through images of the great Coup D’etat of the 2000 election. The GOP putsch in Florida, Jeb Bush, Kathryn Harris, the Supreme Court, Bush’s rainy inaugural. The music is a stringy, blues version of the national anthem played at a pace so slow that it becomes an elegy. “It started with the 2000 election itself,” Stone intones. “The most scandalous in U.S. history. Wounding, perhaps fatally, the notion of democracy in this country…. Behooving the shenanigans of a banana republic the US Supreme Court intervened to stop a recount of the votes…”

It’s there, in all its stupidity and agony. Condoleeza Rice’s “nobody could’ve predicted…”. Bush’s “either you’re with us or you’re with the terrorists” (“Imagine any citizen in any country of the world being told by a man like this, ‘you’re either with us or against us.'”). The Patriot Act. Wire Tapping. Gitmo. Torture. “WMDs”. “The smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud”. Conflating Iraq with al qaeda. (“The descent into unreality was dizzying.”) The parade of ex-generals selling the war on TV while being employed by defense contractors.

“Untold” hits the mark, but it doesn’t linger quite long enough before moving on to harsh Obama for maintaining a similar military complex to Bush, even as he wound down the Bush Wars. Whether the recognition is intellectual or emotional, as an American you own the Fear Years. Even if you opposed the war. Unlike distant genocides like the settlement of the West or abstract ignoble actions abroad, Iraq War II was sanctioned by the populace. IT happened here. “Untold” and Maddow’s documentary make the case, but ten years on the ephemeral zietgiest of the polity is still largely in denial.

CPAC, The Reality Show

The conservative movement is nothing more than a reality show, which makes it odd that Caribou Barbie would be the one to get all meta on that, since, she’s like, a reality star. Whoa, it’s tooooooootes meta, bro.

It’s all shtick. I’m convinced.

Today on a Very Special Episode of The Real Oligarchs of Capitol Hill, will Senator Portman’s newfound support of marriage equality (cuz his son is geh) endure after comparisons to Obama by Firebaggers like Glenn Gloom Greenwald and questions from Pat Robertson about whether he made a pact with the devil?

Will Ted Cruz go on a shooting spree to prove his manhood is intact after getting circumcised live on CSPAN by DiFi?

Will Bush 43 paint anymore vapid yet disturbing water colors?

Tune in and find out!

Fair to Francisco

Not gonna lie. When I read that the new pope had allegedly helped agents of the junta escape justice, I got angry. The source of the allegation was a Guardian article, linked to below, which cites a book written by Argentine journalist Horacio Verbitsky, who penned this article about Francisco in the newspaper that he co-founded, Pagina12 a center-left publication that allegedly is part owned by former-president and husband of the current president, Nestor Kirchner.

Verbitsky is a prolific journalist, the author of 20 books, and a former left-wing radical. His editorial says cryptically, that Francisco in “not forgetting Argentina” could play a role similar to John Paul II, who “opened the first hole in the European wall [iron curtain],” perhaps a Argentine pope could “fulfill the same role in the Latin American context.” One way he could do this is by “adopting historical causes, such as that of the Falklands.” (original quoted below)

The Kirchner administration has been heating up the rhetoric on the Falklands again, and the islanders voted nearly unanimously to stay part of the UK. Argentina rejected this plebiscite because it was a vote of “invaders.” This is a dangerous logic for anyone to employ, especially a country that was built on the elimination of natives. Furthermore, these are not recent “invaders.” When’s the cutoff?

If Kirchner and her supporters are hoping that an Argentine pope will intervene on this issue in their favor, they’re crazy. This is a politically stupid position to take because no one will want him to mediate for the very reason that he’s the Argentine pope.

If there is a Latin American left, one thing that they tend to share is a tribal, almost racial hatred not just of the American government, but of gringos in general. For Che Guevara’s comments on Cuzco, where he claimed only someone with the mixed lineage of a South American could understand as he scoffed at the North American tourists (Guevara was Spanish and Irish) to Hugo Chavez’s bombast, to the “death to the yanquis” cries at some of Evo Morales’s political rallies, it seems like Pan-Americanism from these folks fits more with Hannah Arendt’s description of Pan-movements as precursors to totalitarian regimes than they do with a general anti-neoliberal left that shares much in common with 99% of North Americans.

This isn’t a lame post-9/11 “why do they hate us” moment. I know why they hate us, why they think they should hate us, and why they feel justified in doing so. But if the “us” includes me, I can either try and reason with them that certainly their beef shouldn’t extend to every American or I’m on the other side.

In reality, Latin America has made a lot of progress and is headed in a good direction, thanks in no small part to its leftists (just like the US!) while Europe is stuck in the muck due to its reactionary economic posture.

If the following grafs seemed a bit non-sequitur its because you see a distinction between the British and the Americans. The Pan-Americanists don’t. Argentina seems slightly less inclined to use Americans as a foreign bogeyman and source of all their ills when they have the British right next door to do so.

Oh, and let’s not forget, this new flare up is, yes, partly due to economic problems at home, to Kirchner’s low approval rating, and, perhaps due to the fact that the navy had one of its warships foreclosed on. But it’s really about oil. Remember, fellow lefties, how terrible imperial wars for oil are?

I’m glad the new pope wasn’t (apparently) part of the dirty war. I’m glad there was a rush to point that out. I’m glad that the attention will contribute to more awareness about that, and perhaps even towards more awareness of the US’s own role in it. But the lame attempt by pro-government Argentines to jiujitsu their criticism of Francisco’s role (or lack thereof) in it into some kind of diplomatic advantage in their desire to conquer for oil seems stupid and pathetic. ¡Que boludo!

Ahora podrá hacerlo en otra escala, lo cual no quiere decir que se olvide de la Argentina. Si Pacelli recibió el financiamiento de la Inteligencia estadounidense para apuntalar a la democracia cristiana e impedir la victoria comunista en las primeras elecciones de la posguerra y si Wojtyla fue el ariete que abrió el primer hueco en el muro europeo, el papa argentino podrá cumplir el mismo rol en escala latinoamericana. Su pasada militancia en Guardia de Hierro, el discurso populista que no ha olvidado, y con el que podría incluso adoptar causas históricas como la de las Malvinas, lo habilitan para disputar la orientación de ese proceso, para apostrofar a los explotadores y predicar mansedumbre a los explotados.



Shifting Coalition? Part II

While I’m cautiously optimistic about the Latinopocalypse facing the GOP, I can see their dilemma. Demographically, they may be in trouble in the electoral college. Even if Latinismo costs Democrats in some midwestern states, if they have a dead lock on Florida, Texas, and Arizona, they can lose Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and all the other Romney states and still have 288 EVs. Hillary ought to head to Texas, not Iowa.

That may keep the White House blue for a long time. The House may not change hands until 2022 when (if) some gerrymandering can be undone, or done the other way. The Senate, meanwhile, seems unlikely to shift that much even if off years given these dynamics.

But what can they do? I think Democrats being for “amnesty” is far less likely to cost them the upper midwest than Republicans being for it will make them vulnerable in strange places in downticket races.

So, what’s left. Can they moderate on abortion? No, same problem. On climate change? Maybe, sorta, in no substantive kind of way. On gays? Almost as bad as an abortion sell out. Taxes? That would destroy their base of funding. On spending? Hmm. That worked for Bush. Maybe deficit spending is their ticket? Move to the right on foreign policy? That might work, except that this isn’t going to do much unless there’s a war already started. Moving to the left? That seemed to work for Rand Paul, actually.

Where they will start to have problems is at the weakest point, which is the connection between the low tax freaks and the social right.

The Dems actually have more of an opportunity here, more apropos of the last post on this topic. They could move to the right on a few things without losing too much support and leave only cranks on the right and Naderites on the left divided and conquered.

You might try and declare the culture wars “over” after gay marriage gets legalized. I know, that’s been tried before. I really have no idea exactly how this might take shape, but it’s possible. Or just stand for Obamaism and rake in the EVs as is.

Pope Francis And The Need For American Truth & Reconciliation

The Joshua Tree ends with a song entitled “The Mothers of the Disappeared” named after the Madres de Plaza de Mayo, a group of women whose children had been “disappeared” by the Argentinean and Chilean dictatorships. It is a haunting, soulful elegy to the “sons and daughters, cut down taken from us” and we are told to, “Hear their heartbeat.”

I wonder if the new Pope hears their heartbeat.

…the Argentine navy with the connivance of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio [Pope Francis I], [then] the Jesuit archbishop of Buenos Aires, hid from a visiting delegation of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission the dictatorship’s political prisoners. Bergoglio was hiding them in nothing less than his holiday home in an island called El Silencio in the River Plate.

[UPDATE: This allegation has been retracted by The Guardian. So, I’m taking the Pope out of this mix, but my point remains: America needs hearings on the Fear & Fraud Decade]

Among the disappeared was a French nun. Less than 10 years ago, Argentina finally passed a law allowing for all of those responsible for crimes against humanity to be tried. Chile, too, has had a long but slow path towards reconciliation and has recently allowed a trial for the murder of singer Victor Jara to proceed, almost 30 years after the fact.

Will we have to wait that long? Maybe. Maybe we will never grapple with the last decade directly, but if we don’t it will continue to poison our souls, just as this will further poison the soul of the Catholic Church.


Jeb Bush says history will be “kind” to his brother. For a president who left office with a 30% approval rating, and who was judged to be among the worst presidents ever by historians, and who, even after being off the scene for a while still is still the least popular living ex-president (Bill Clinton is the most popular) this is all they’ve got.

It’s a tacit admission that the present judgment on Bush is not good. It’s very close to an admission that such a favorable judgment will not occur in our lifetimes. The GOP refuses to deal with his legacy, and, in fact, has only doubled-down on Bushism as a political philosophy since.

Which is why I really hope Jeb isn’t just a stalking horse. First of all, it neutralizes the one issue that might mute enthusiasm for Hillary, which is this sort of dynastic thing. If it’s Bush versus Clinton, that isn’t an issue and we’re comparing legacies, then Hillary wins 40 states.

And, by the way, history is starting to judge Bush. We’re finding out that most of what we suspected and sometimes even worse is true. And we’re still digging out of all the shit that he left on us.

I think Jeb is probably a stalking horse, actually. I don’t think there’s much of a chance that he will run for President in 2016. But, that the media takes him seriously enough to put him on all the Sunday shows to blab and kick up speculation that he would run shows just how insane that world is. These “reporters”—do they know what people think about the man? Did they notice that he lost Congress in 2006, screwed his party in 2008, and, basically got Obama reelected despite all kinds of historical fundamentals like the ones that drove his dad out of office???

This just tells me the Republicans aren’t ready yet. They aren’t ready to compete in 2016. Fine with me.

Shifting Coalition?

One thing the Rand Paul filibuster showed was that, in 2013, the Democratic party is the part of national defense, foreign policy, and antiterrorism. I think this realization may be behind the Graham/McCain freakout.

But when you look at the reaction to Paul’s filibuster, it seems like there are different reactions than you might expect. People who have mostly supported Obama were critical. Conservatives have split over it. It’s almost like the 60s in reverse, and this isn’t the first time I’ve thought this.

Now, put me on the record as someone who simply doesn’t understand why a drone is different than an F-16 or a cruise missile (or… a nuclear-tipped ICBM).

And it’s funny because at first “firebagger” was not meant to signal any ideological affinity with teabaggers. But now, it seems, people who never met a U.S. foreign policy action they didn’t hate are lining up with conservatives on this issue, but for different reasons.

Of course, this is the result of extreme Neo-Confederate rhetoric that claims to be only anti-government, but which is anti-American. At some point, Americans are going to notice. This deprives the GOP of their flag waiving privileges and it takes away their ability to claim Democrats are pussies because they hate war and without that, I’m not sure what they have left on this alley.

Now, of course, Bush, the Republican, launched the Iraq war. Obama killed Bin Laden, ratified a nuclear arms treaty, and and has had a lot of success otherwise in fighting terrorism. But drones? That’s a filibuster?

The best argument that the left has is that “you’d be against this if Bush was president.” Maybe. But he isn’t. And there is nothing in the law that deprives a President of these powers (in fact, the AUMF gives it to him), just like there’s nothing in law that keeps my ex-girlfriend from having a driver’s license, but that doesn’t mean that I feel safe in a car with her. And no, the President can’t shoot your house with a drone unless you are acting militarily against the government. If he does, he is liable for a crime. If the government can prove that you were, however, fighting against the US, he’s not—just as General Grant. A bunch of people with Ph.Ds can’t seem to understand these rather obvious distinctions, partly because they don’t want to.

But that’s not an argument on the merits. It’s an argument that the people who feel that way are hypocrites, at least, on the basis of a supposed inconsistency.

I say fine, start a new coalition of academic liberals and tea party “libertarians.” You will get about 10% of the vote.

Is there a Chavismo?

The Spanish language news broadcasts talk about the passing of Hugo Chavez as the passing of the leader of a “Bolivarian movement” or of “Chavismo.” It remains to be seen whether there is such a thing, and, if so, whether such a thing has any relevance in 2013.

As this writer at Esquire points out, the anti-imperialist rhetoric of Latin America has rung a little hollow in the last little while. It’s not that Bush wasn’t a demon, but it’s that the imperialist system is run by the world now, and it extracts the natural resources of the whole world, and exploits the labor of the whole world. If you’re not among the wealthy, your computer is a plantation and so is your 401k in an abstract sense.

Plus, for all of Chavez’s bluster, he still sold the US oil and, other than enabling and supporting regimes far abroad, never fired a shot at the US. The Latin American left sees itself in a Groundhog Day of Allende and Arbenz, and is always looking over its back for el CIA. Maybe this is far from paranoia. After all, there does not exist a Latin American country that, at some point, has been interfered with by the United States. They probably should be suspicious of us in the same way that many Europeans remain suspicious to this day of the Germans or the Russians.

But that suspicion also must be tempered by reality. Latin America is still part of the developing world, but it is not the hell that much of the rest of the global south is. Every once in a while, liberation movements take hold and get real power in Latin America; Chavez’s own reign is a counter-argument against him, as is that of the incumbent in Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba, and to some extent, Brazil and Argentina.

If only the Arab Spring had ushered in a Middle East half covered by Bolivarians instead of Islamists!

It’s easy to use the yanqui as a bogeyman. In our country, we love Bogeymen. Right now, our own President is the bogeyman for about a third of our population. Former Bogeymen Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and Qaddafi have all been removed from office. The generic “terrorist” is probably the closest thing we have at the moment, and he definitely looks Arab.

But who a yanqui is is changing. It is getting difficult to alienate the US from the rest of the hemisphere in so facile a manner. The US has the second highest population of Spanish-speakers. The Latino is the decisive element of any coalition of power in this country at the moment, and has been in many states for a long time. The Latino vote might even turn Texas blue. Imagine that.

I like that Chavez used his country’s natural resources to help his people. It’s too bad that hasn’t been what’s gone on in Latin America since the start. I hope his successors and his followers do the same. I hope they develop. But I hope they realize that Norte America is or has become more like them that they realize.

My Increasing Impatience With Europe

For most of my adult life, Europe has offered a good model of how to run a country not just in theory, but in practice. I considered moving there temporarily or permanently quite a few times, and did live there temporarily in the past.

On a social level, most of these countries had progressive policies like universal free health care, decent schools for everyone, and had eliminated squalor through housing programs, etc. Also, after World War II, European nations didn’t fight many wars. The reasons for that are complicated, the big one being that any war there might have ended the world.

But Europe has not done well in the 21st century. The EU is an increasingly bungled attempt at making Europe a federation, seemingly for the sake of making Europe a federation. The Norwegians look smart for saying thanks, but no thanks, we’ve had enough German domination for a while—let’s just be friends. And the British look almost as smart for saying, “a monetary union controlled by parsimonious German bankers?! No thanks.”

Austerity has ruined the economy of several of Europe’s major economies. There’s 25% unemployment in Spain. The UK is facing a triple-dip recession. The Europeans have done nothing to keep Russia from spiraling back into insanity, and are more concerned with whether a pomegranate comes from the West Bank than they are with Syrians getting slaughtered by the thousand.

But they seem to think that they have a permanent get out of jail free card  for moral superiority purposes over the US. I guess centuries of genocide, imperialism, and war get a pass, but Iraq doesn’t.  It’s amazing how many arrogant intellectuals from Europe with poorly fitting suits who’ve never brushed their hair can hold forth for hours on the evils of the United States while their own country is busy privatizing the water supply in Bolivia, helping rogue nations acquire weapons or nuclear weapons technologies, or reelecting a criminal oligarch who controls the media into their government—or generally go along with everything they claim to hate the US for.

I’m still a Europhile and especially an Anglophile. Scandinavian countries still offer good models for our social ills, but I’m starting to have my concerns.

Drill baby Drill, but only if you nationalize, baby, nationalize.

People are so stupid.

There exists a world market for oil. There exist prices for different kinds of oil, but all of them are effected by world events, because, given enough trouble, a tanker could take a load all the way around the world if it wanted to.

gr-oilprod-300As you can see from this nifty little graphic, the plurality of our oil comes from home, the majority from North America, and the overwhelming majority comes from the Western hemisphere.

So, let’s say we built 5 Keystone XXXXXXXL super pipelines, fracked the entire Midwest including Alberta, kicked every damn caribou out of Alaska, and drilled thousands of holes on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

What on earth would this do to the world price? Surely, it would lower it for a while because there would be more supply. But as long as we aren’t producing 100% of our own oil, we still need it to come from somewhere, and as long as that somewhere is affected by the global market, we’re still subject to that world price.

So, let’s say we did all of those things and banned any export of oil, and took other steps to ban imports. Eventually getting to 100% domestic consumption only. That would be great. Except prices would skyrocket at first, the oil companies would freak out, etc.

So, this is a two step process that the Republicans never want to tell you Step 2 of. Yeah, everyone gets it that if we drill more, it could be cheaper. But it might not. The price has varied wildly on all kinds of bizarre market manipulations and then we are just depleting our own supply. It probably would just encourage more reckless usage instead of efficiency.

But drilling doesn’t put the oil in the ground. If it’s there, it’s there. If there’s a world crisis, then we have it and we are “secure.” Using it up actually makes us less so.

But unless we’re going to ban all exports and imports of oil, there is little point in opening up more of our own reserves. If we deplete the rest of the world and we’ve got all that’s left, that’s a great spot to be in.

All of this, of course, assumes that the environmental impact is neutral, which it is not, and that the oil industry would ever permit an export and import ban, which it would not. Hell, I don’t even know if that would fly under the WTO.

So, yes, folks. We didn’t intervene in Iraq because of oil. We might be paying attention to Iraq because of the price of oil, but we get barely any oil from there in the first place. The whole thing was stupid.

As for me, I say, park the microbus, take a fucking shower, look at the climate reports and build 50 nuclear power plants yesterday. Yes, a 9.0 earthquake might damage one of them. Might. Continuing to burn fossil fuels already has put us in deep shit.

It’s a miracle we’re still alive.