Friday, July 31, 2009

Croak from the past

The case was defended on the squarest, most idealistic, and most foolish level imaginable, and on the other side the dirt was so filthy that the defense refused to believe it existed, or, as in my case and probably in others, actually believed it. — Kenneth Rexroth, An Autobiographical Novel, p. 199. The events described apparently took place, if at all, in 1924.
Doesn't this sound like the liberal or progressive response to the disaster of the reactionary right? People didn't engage the dirt, didn't fight it, and didn't understand why they lost the elections. Any all the while, the media were taken over, the financial system destroyed, and, ultimately, the USA fought a pointless war.

[pointless croaking complaint deleted — it's amazing what being less sick does for one's critical sense]

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Croak of the day

To Digby. Take it away!
[...] the excesses of the Bush administration, the war, the torture, the wiretapping, were the result of compromises between the sociopathic Cheney faction and the merely dull and incompetent remainder of the administration, including the president. ***

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Neo-Hooverism in California, part 2

What is an appropriate progressive response? There seem a number of possibilities:
  1. Support and attempt to reform the state Democratic Party. The problem here is that the Democrats are as much part of the problem as part of the solution, and will have little credibility. Anger at the Democratic Party may in fact be higher than anger at the Republicans: the Democrats betrayed their rank-and-file.
  2. "Direct action." The problem here is that it is going to be very difficult to bring any pressure to bear on the factions that have made the problem. Any effective action is going to have to involve sit-ins at major businesses, sit-down strikes, and the like. A violent response seems likely, and it will be blamed on the protestors. Protesters are going to have to be tough, disciplined, and desperate.
  3. A constitutional convention, to remove the worst features of the California state constitution. This solution is popular with progressives, but it seems to this old bird to be risky. There is no strong progressive leadership with media access--nothing like the megaphone which Schwarzennegger's fame and his backer's wealth provide. It is entirely possible that a constitutional convention would be hijacked by the same factions which have made the current situation. Acceptance of a new constitution of good quality in the current media environment seems hopeless.
  4. Found a reform party. It's...possible. Conditions have rarely been better, and a third party could easily win a local election in San Francisco, where elections are conducted by instant runoff vote. This appears to be spreading in local electoral practice. The major parties will fight state-level voting reform tooth and nail. Still, with strong leadership, I think a new party could emerge in California. But it is likely to be several years before it makes a substantial difference in state politics.

[2009.08.04 edited for clarity]

Monday, July 20, 2009

1931 in California or, Hooverism Triumphant

Robert Cruickshank over at Calitics has the story:
And so the budget drama hurtles toward its inevitable conclusion, perhaps as soon as tomorrow. Democrats have caved and given Arnold Schwarzenegger what he wanted - a cuts-only budget that does massive and lasting damage to the state of California, to the people who live here, and to our collective future. It's taken 31 years, but Howard Jarvis is finally going to get the wholesale destruction of public services he always wanted.
David Dayen chimes in:
We'll see a big sigh of relief from lawmakers over the next few days that will be wholly unwarranted. [...] One of the major consequences of this cuts-only budget will be, paradoxically, higher costs for individuals and the state.
When grandmothers start to die, when the roads fail, when fires go unfought, the public will at last know out what the California state government once did for them. And the state will be unable to fund any response a major natural disaster, like an earthquake or a huge storm.

So it's 1931 in California. What will the public do? One thing that they probably won't do is turn out to vote Democratic. The Democrats in the state legislature scarcely put up a fight. There's nothing in their leadership to inspire confidence, trust, or energy--why would the voters come out for them?

Look back to 1932. Marches, riots, radical parties. That's California's future for several years to come. Followed, I suppose, by reform. But the state's credit will be wrecked, and the government's ability to hire--especially the public schools ability to hire--will be impaired. It's going to be at least a decade before the state will be anything like normal, and meantime, it seems likely any recovery will be late.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Looking at JP Morgan Chase

Numerian, over at the Agonist, has a post up that looks pretty good to me. (Maybe more actual writing & thinking later this week.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Croak of the day

As often, to The Shrill One, but a much more sobering statement than usual:
And let’s be clear: both the president and the party’s Congressional leadership understand the economic and environmental issues perfectly well. So if we can’t get action to head off disaster now, what would it take?***
A damn good question, and I wish I knew the answer.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Corruption and Decadence Croak

It's not the people of the United States who have become corrupt & decadent. It's the rulers & leaders. In the accounts of the conservatives it's always the fault of the people. But it's all nonsense. It was not "the people" who started two useless, expensive wars. It was not "the people" who dropped the regulations that protected the US financial system. All the authoritarian conservatives ought to hang their heads in shame, and resign their offices. Not that that is the least likely. Corruption seldom knows itself, and corruption seldom acts on shame.