Saturday, June 30, 2007

Washington This Week: A Few Gems Floated Up From The Cesspool

By Manifesto Joe

In a congressional week in which one issue loomed large, it may have been easy to forget that our Solons and Dracos voted on a lot of other stuff. Well, I'm not going to let you forget it. And, the news wasn't all bad -- just most of it.

Perhaps most disappointing was the House falling short, 209-217, on Rahm Emanuel's move to show VP Dick what's it's like to live without a budget, since he seems to consider himself a fourth branch of government. This was close, but several Democrats chickened out. I am sad to admit that one of them was Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Texas, who voted nay. Edwards, of Waco, is a lawmaker who's often been narrowly re-elected in a strongly Republican district, so I suspect that influenced his thinking. But regardless, he earns one thumb up -- his anal cavity -- for this craven decision. (It's also sad to see House Resolution 333 so bogged down. I've read it. I didn't go to law school, but there are plenty of people who did who seem to think there are good grounds to impeach Cheney, right now.)

In another sad development, the Senate failed, 51-48, to reach the 60 votes necessary to advance HR 800, which would enable workers to vote for unionization by simply signing a card, with a union authorized as soon as a majority declares support. For nearly 30 years we've had a federal government that has been unwilling to enforce the right to unionize, which was supposed to have been guaranteed under the Wagner Act of 1935. This would clarify things quite a bit, and perhaps stop a lot of the unlawful reprisals that have gutted the union movement in America.

Under the category of "What were they thinking?", the House voted 309-115 to block federal spending in 2008 to reinstitute broadcasting's Fairness Doctrine. I think 20 years of Rush "I Now Run the Country" Limbaugh would have made this a no-brainer. But a lot of people turned yellow-belly on this one. And, Waco, Texas' own Chet Edwards earns yet another one thumb "up."

Now, to the good news, such as it is. Some votes seem to be going the right way on environmental issues.

On the Interior Department budget bill, HR 2643, the House rejected, 153-274, to refuse to strip the bill of nonbinding support for mandatory federal controls on greenhouse gas emissions. Not many, but some, Republicans evidently saw the light on climate change here.

Another rare gem: The House voted 252-178 for an amendment to HR 2643 to block the Bush plan to ease the existing rule that coal-fired power plants and other smokestack industries install the best available anti-pollution technology when they upgrade a facility. In Texas, this is especially important. We've got some of the worst air pollution of this kind in the country, and my asthmatic lungs thank every member who voted yes on this one. Even Chet Edwards.

The House also rejected, 196-233 (party lines come to mind), a move to end a 26-year moratorium on drilling for energy sources off areas of U.S. coasts. There are energy companies that would like to have platforms lined up like row houses all along the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere. Something tells me that wouldn't be a good idea, long term.

Anyway, there have been worse weeks on Capitol Hill, like, circa 2001-06. Sometimes one must settle for marginal improvements.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Friday, June 29, 2007

It Looks Dead Again For A While

I'm not entirely aligned with this point of view on illegal immigrants, but I think the inventiveness here can be appreciated:

A Postscript To The Postscript

On CNN Headline News' "Prime News With Erica Hill," not only didn't the immigration bill make it into the top two of the day, those ultra-retro Supreme Court rulings didn't rate, either.

We're in a lot of trouble, folks. Anybody getting mad as hell? -- MJ

The Verdict Is Probably In: Bush Is Toast

By Manifesto Joe

I was surprised that he couldn't even get a bare majority, after all the time spent cobbling together an unsteady bipartisan alliance. But the bill gave away too many things. On the right wing, it was the amnesty. On the left, the obvious effect on the wages and jobs of working-class Americans, and with the guest-worker program the creation of a made-to-order labor underclass. And on both sides, no genuinely frightening, kick-it-up-several-notches sanctions against the scofflaw employers.

So now, by a vote of 46-53 on an immigration overhaul that had his complete backing, George W. Bush has been rendered all but toothless for the duration of his residency (no typo).

I admit having been ambivalent about the bill, and a sad aspect is that its failure in this procedural vote just postpones an inevitable confrontation with a problem that will become worse for many years before it gets better.

But one thing is clear: Impeachment or no, Bush now couldn't be more irrelevant. He's lost his far right-wing base, and even worse. Both Texas senators deserted him, and one of them, Kay Bailey Hutchison, isn't even regarded as all that staunchly conservative. Barring intervention from Hades, the man's had it. It's just a question of whether he can survive the next 19 months.

Postscript: The descent of America into cultural decadence took a quantum leap today on CNN Headline News. "Prime News With Erica Hill" led with the double-murder/suicide of pro wrestler Chris Benoit. The report went on for several minutes, and the failure of the immigration bill wasn't even the SECOND lead. Culturally, the U.S. is now officially a fifth-world country.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

"Rubber Mark's" Idea Isn't All That Silly, But Social Justice Would Be Better

By Manifesto Joe

There has been much hay made for a few days about a proposal by U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, for the U.S. to distribute free condoms in Mexico so as to stem population growth there and thus eventually slow the tide of illegal immigration to the U.S.

It's not as silly as it sounds off the cuff. But first, what about actual economic reform south of the border?

Yes, this proposal is the stuff that TV gag writers live on. And the right-wing talk-show hosts and bloggers are dogpiling on Mr. Kirk. One Tom Roeser has dubbed him "Rubber Mark." Or at least somebody before him did. Roeser went on to compare the proposal to eugenics, sullying the name of the late Margaret Sanger.

Regarding eugenics, I think there's a bit of difference between advocating forced sterilization of people afflicted with genetic defects, etc. vs. simply furnishing contraceptives to people who are having sex but aren't ready to provide adequately for offspring.

Of course, this is an exchange that could never happen between the U.S. and Mexico. For one thing, Mexicans are a priest-ridden people. For another, we would have our own hysterical sex police to deal with right here. And I've read that the birth rate in Mexico has fallen dramatically in recent decades anyway, so the effect would only be just so great.

But hey: Whatever happened to the idea of Mexico having a decent government, and one like that with meaningful U.S. backing?

I'm going to refer once more to an old post of mine regarding illegal immigration and its origins:

The history of the PRI, or Institutional Revolutionary Party, in Mexico tells the sordid tale of how the 1910-20 revolution was betrayed. In addition to the phony, occasionally murderous one-party "democracy" it operated for 71 years, the PRI eventually gutted many progressive reforms pushed through by legendary President Lazaro Cardenas in the 1930s. It so mismanaged the economy that by the late 1970s and early 1980s, wealthy Mexicans were reinvesting assets abroad because they had little confidence in their own economy. And so, even fewer jobs were created in Mexico. And even when times were better, wealth was hoarded, not shared.

In 2004, the World Bank reported that Mexico, which is considered a middle-income nation as a whole, had a 50 percent poverty rate. Corruption remains endemic, and the country's rich seem more than happy to encourage the jobless poor to cross the U.S. border by the millions.

After fraudulent presidential elections, including one in 1988 that was stolen from Cardenas' son Cuauhtemoc, the voters finally got to throw the PRI out.

But the PAN administration that came to power after the 2000 election has proved to be the Fox in charge of the henhouse. For Mexico's poor, life has improved little, if any, under conservative President Vicente Fox.

And NAFTA's "liberalization" of agriculture in Mexico has been a disaster for peasant farmers there, throwing them into direct competition with more mechanized and heavily subsidized U.S. farming operations.

And still the future looks bleaker. Mexico's leftist hopeful for president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has fallen behind the conservative PAN candidate in a recent poll. And in America, our own steady movement toward a corrupt, Mexican-style oligarchy continues unabated under the sleazy administration of George W. Bush.

The PAN candidate, Felipe Calderon, did indeed come out on top last year in rather suspicious election results. And so, any real future for Mexico was postponed for another 6 years. Some serious economic reform, a revisiting of the old Cardenas era, is the medicine that's needed.

"Rubber Mark's" idea isn't really all that silly. But a strong dose of social justice is the main thing needed. Save the Trojans for later.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Update To Earlier Post On Illegal Immigration

This just in from The Associated Press:

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Tuesday to jump-start a stalled immigration measure to legalize millions of unlawful immigrants.

President Bush said the bill offered a "historic opportunity for Congress to act," and appeared optimistic about its passage by week's end.

The pivotal test-vote was 64-35 to revive the divisive legislation. It still faces formidable obstacles in the Senate, including bitter opposition by GOP conservatives and attempts by some waverers in both parties to revise its key elements.

Supporters needed 60 votes to scale procedural hurdles and return to the bill. A similar test-vote earlier this month found just 45 supporters, only seven of them Republicans. This time, 24 Republicans joined 39 Democrats and independent Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, to back moving ahead with the bill. Opposing the move were 25 Republicans, nine Democrats and independent Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., an architect of the bill, said he was proud of the vote, calling it "a major step forward for our national security, for our economy, and for our humanity."

... Tuesday's outcome was far from conclusive, however. The measure still must overcome another make-or-break vote as early as Thursday that will also require the backing of 60 senators. And there is no guarantee that it will ultimately attract even the simple majority it needs to pass.

The Senate was preparing to begin voting as early as Tuesday afternoon on some two dozen amendments that have the potential to either sap its support or draw new backers.

Republicans and Democrats alike are deeply conflicted over the measure, which also creates a temporary worker program, strengthens border security and institutes a new system for weeding out illegal immigrants from workplaces.

There's going to be another round of debate on this bill, and probably a vote. It will be interesting to see what happens if someone introduces an amendment for tougher penalties against the scofflaw employers. It was their demand for illegal low-wage labor that, bottom-line, created this problem for our country. Don't bet on anything like that passing -- remember, it's Washington. -- MJ

Oklahoma Aims To Deport Its Illegal Immigrants Back To Texas

By Manifesto Joe

As the U.S. Senate gets set for a key procedural vote on proposed federal immigration reforms backed by the Bush administration, some localities, and even states, have taken matters into their own hands. So, here's what they're doing in Oklahoma.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports:

While a stack of anti-illegal immigration bills died in the Texas Legislature this year, Oklahoma lawmakers passed a law that cuts off illegal immigrants' access to driver's licenses and many government benefits.

"The state ought not to be in the business of providing benefits to people who are not here legally," said Oklahoma Rep. Randy Terrill, the Republican who wrote the bill. ...

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, more than 1,000 immigration-related bills and resolutions have been filed in the 50 states. Some Texas cities have passed anti-illegal immigration ordinances.

Oklahoma's House Bill 1804, signed by the governor in May, is considered one of the toughest immigration laws in the nation. Among other things, it will:

-- End illegal immigrants' access to state benefits, including college scholarships.

-- Empower law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of people they arrest for felonies and drunken driving.

-- Consider illegal immigrants charged with felonies and some other crimes a flight risk and deny them bail.

-- Allow fired workers to sue if their former employers have an illegal immigrant doing the same or similar work.

Will a tough law in Oklahoma push illegal immigrants into Texas?

"Boy, I sure hope so," Terrill said.

Terrill may have figured out a way to make Texas an illegal immigrants' preferred zone, as if it weren't already.

Having worked in Oklahoma for a year or so as a young man, I can understand why. The first time I tried to buy a six-pack of real beer in that state (they commonly sell the 3.2% stuff -- not real), the store clerk informed me very sternly, "You're gonna haveta keep yore nose real clean up here. ..." I damn near got a temperance lecture. In Oklahoma, we're not just talking red state -- it's more like maroon. In Ardmore, I saw a sign in a souvenir shop that read, "Freedom is not the right to do as you please, but the liberty to do as you ought."

So, yeah, I can see how even in a state like Texas, the climate for an illegal immigrant would be more hospitable. Until you get to Farmers Branch.

This from November on (I know, I know; but bear with me, it's a concise summary):

FARMERS BRANCH, Texas — This Dallas suburb became the first Texas city to pass tough anti-immigration measures, prompting fears they could lead to sanctioned discrimination and racism.

City Council members unanimously approved fines for landlords who rent to illegal immigrants, making English the city's official language and allowing local authorities to screen suspects in police custody to check their immigration status.

The council made the series of 6-0 votes without discussion Monday night and took comment from the public afterward. A proposal to penalize businesses that employ undocumented workers was not voted on during the meeting.

Hundreds of opponents of the ordinances gathered in the City Hall lobby and a parking lot outside, waving American flags and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in English before the votes were taken.

Inside, supporters clapped as the votes were tallied in favor of the measures and later thanked council members for their action.

In the absence of meaningful federal action on this issue, Americans in states on or near the Mexican border seem to be moving toward a kind of draconian zoning of illegal immigration.

But this kind of state and local action isn't moving us toward a real solution to a most vexing problem.

For those of us who have encountered numerous illegal immigrants in person and can see that they have human faces, it's very troubling. I haven't gotten the impression that most of them really want to be here. It must be frightening to face a strange foreign culture, to fear deportation, to face the indignities that they surely deal with almost daily. Makes you wonder why they would have undertaken such a dangerous journey to get up here so they could have the privilege of being a janitor for minimum wage.

This is a rare instance in which I agree with Il Doofus on one thing: The status quo is unacceptable. There are about 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. It's unrealistic to think our government can round up and deport as many as one-third of them.

And yet, this can't go on. The much publicized Borjas-Katz study does illustrate the effect of the influx on working-class Americans' wages; and countless school systems, charity hospitals and social-services agencies are being stressed to the limit.

In frustration, officials in states and localities are acting on their own. But the effect will simply be to make the resourceful undocumented population work around the zoning. Don't underestimate them. They will figure it out in a hurry. And then the officials where the zoning is done will become engulfed in legal battles. More from

Attorneys with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, a civil rights advocacy group, told (Farmers Branch) council members before the vote that the proposals could violate federal housing laws preventing discrimination and the First Amendment.

This is a complex and heartbreaking problem that involves millions of real people -- families. I have seen firsthand that these folks, the desperate immigrants, are more often pawns than villains.

As paralyzed as the Congress seems to be on this issue, it's better to wait for a federal solution to this problem. State and local action will just make the immigrants go to the next city, and clutter the court dockets with lawsuits.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

An Exchange On Illegal Immigration That Got Too Long

By Manifesto Joe

Peter, if you're going to cite academic studies, please don't cherry-pick. Show the whole picture. I was already familiar with the Borjas-Katz research. (See below)


You missed the vast number of Texans of both parties who are deeply concerned about

1. The immense fiscal burden illegals impose on the United States. A recent study (Rector of the Heritage Foundation) found that unskilled immigrants cost taxpayers $89.1 billion per year (back in 2004, more now).

2. The amazing wage losses from immigration. Take a look at the work of Professor Borjas (by far, the leading expert in this field). The same models that show a possible $30 billion economic gain from immigration, also show $350 billion in lost wages from American workers.

3. The terrible damage unskilled immigration does to our schools. California used to have a quite good public school system. Now it is a wreck (49th in the nation, thank god for Mississippi). Texas is headed rather quickly the same way.

4. Runaway population growth, driven almost entirely by immigration is bringing gridlock to more and more of our country. Cheap lawns are nice, two hour commutes aren't. Of course, those lawns are pricey if you add in the tax burden.

5. In some parts of the United States, immigration has made housing unaffordable for all but the very rich. For example, on both coasts. This is less of a problem in Texas... So far.

6. The unskilled immigrants coming into the United States have high crime rates. Take a look at the work of the (very pro-immigration) Migration Policy Institute. They found that the crime rate rises 8 fold from the first to second generation and is many times higher than the white rate.

To be blunt, xenophobia isn't the issue. Seeing the world clearly after you take off the rose-colored glasses is.
Peter Schaeffer | 06.23.07 - 3:11 pm | #


I agree with Joe that it's funny to see the Texas GOP have a train wreck.

But, I hold some of the same concerns about illegal immigration as Pete.

Interestingly, The Nation got flooded with letters and e-mails when it wrote about immigration, including illegals, early this year. Many progressives share these same concerns.
SocraticGadfly | Homepage | 06.23.07 - 8:58 pm | #


Hi, guys:

I've written on the subject before, and I am a bit familiar with the studies of Professors Borjas and Katz. I think Peter is citing something very selective here. This is from a piece from my home blog:

"What is the effect on wages? According to Harvard economists George J. Borjas and Lawrence F. Katz, from 1980 to 2000, immigration reduced the average annual earnings of U.S.-born men by nearly 4 percent. The poorest 10 percent of the work force suffered worse, they wrote, with a 7.4 percent reduction. Among high school dropouts, it was 8.2 percent.

What is the effect on jobs? It's been long argued that illegal immigrants take jobs that Americans won't. That seemed largely true in the 1980s, but less so now. In Texas, where I live, it's easy to see how this has changed. Just walk up to any construction site and find out how many of the skilled tradesmen there are equally skilled in English.

But Borjas and Katz point out that such effects are mitigated -- for example, certain types of businesses (hand car washes and landscapers) would not even exist without the cheap labor of illegal immigrants.

Borjas wrote in an April 18 op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal: "A larger pool of competing workers lowers relative wages. This does not imply that immigration is a net loss for the economy. After all, the wage losses suffered by workers show up as higher profits to employers and, eventually, as lower prices to consumers. Immigration policy is just another redistribution program. In the short run, it transfers wealth from one group (workers) to another group (employers). Whether or not such transfers are desirable is one of the central questions in the immigration debate."

It is amusing to see some conservatives who take a hard line on immigration latching onto the Borjas-Katz study. I never noticed that these union-busting, Wal-Mart-shopping types were ever concerned about low wages in the past. Their stand is more likely rooted in right-wing xenophobia, not concern for U.S. workers.

This brings us to the Republican Party's great divide on this issue: the bigots versus the exploiters. Among the more "moderate" elitist Republicans, they don't want to lose their gardeners or their cleaning women -- they work so cheap.

It also brings us to the reason all these millions of Mexican nationals come here illegally, often at great risk: The Mexican economy, mismanaged for decades by a corrupt, oligarchic government, can't provide jobs for its large peasant class. And this may be somewhat by design."

Peter, if you're going to cite academic studies, please don't cherry-pick. Show the whole picture.

Please note that I mentioned, this time as well, concerns for the effects on jobs and wages, at least in passing. My focus this time was mainly elsewhere, on the GOP's intramural fight over this.

But, far from wearing any rose-colored glasses, my familiarity with the issue is very personal. In the '70s and '80s I was friendly with the son of a Texas Babbitt type, and his son told me candidly that his dad hired illegal workers all the time. "Hell, everybody does it," he said, or something to that effect. And this man, the dad, was a rock-ribbed Republican if there ever was one. He had many ties, direct and indirect, to Phil Gramm, the Reagan administration and the Bush family. If people like him had shown the will, they could have all but stopped illegal immigration 30 years ago. But as is the case with so many Republicans, hypocrisy and short-term greed got in the way.

I've read an estimate that if every illegal worker at restaurants in metropolitan Dallas-Fort Worth were deported, fully one-third of the establishments would have to close.

And, how would they go about rounding them up? As I wrote in my earlier post, this is a government that couldn't handle a Category 3 hurricane in New Orleans. How are they going to deport 12 million illegal immigrants?

No rose tint here, Peter. Realistically, these folks are here, and mostly to stay. For better or for worse, we've got to come up with a pragmatic way to manage the situation. But having Republicans immobilize the government in a battle between bigots and opportunists won't cut it.

If you care to read my entire earlier post:

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Texas GOP Torn Between Xenophobes and Exploiters

By Manifesto Joe

The debate over illegal immigration threatens a chasm in the Texas Republican Party like no other issue has for many years. And as one who tends to vote Democratic, I'm enjoying the show. Sort of like a Washington version of the WWF.

The big GOP punchers are in separate corners. U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison announced on Thursday that she will vote against reviving the immigration overhaul bill when it returns to Senate floor next week, the Houston Chronicle reports. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, normally a loyal waterboy for the Bush administration, has been against it all along, almost getting into some silly codger fight with John McCain over it weeks ago.

It's a big deal when you have both Texas U.S. senators opposing a bill with the full backing of the Bush administration. I love to see these people fighting with each other. But what's funnier, in a dark way, is that both sides reek of sulfur.

The Chronicle, compelled by MSM "objectivity," characterized the bout almost mildly: "The issue has deeply split the Republican Party, pitting business
interests that favor the Senate bill against a restive conservative
base that views it as nothing more than a repeat of the 1986 amnesty."

I cannot know what is really in the hearts and minds of Hutchison and Cornyn, such as those hearts and minds are. But they basically speak, in opposition to amnesty, for bigots who simply don't want any more brown-skinned, Spanish-speaking people coming to the U.S. Unlike some labor groups, they aren't seriously concerned with the effects of illegal immigrants on jobs or wages. And they don't care what kind of stark conditions in Mexico are compelling so many to take on a dangerous trek to "el norte."

They represent a lot of trogs who are nostalgic for a time when the only Mexicans they usually had to look at were either mowing the lawn or bringing out the fajitas.

And then there are the Il Doofus supporters who favor the proposed amnesty. Don't think they favor it because of any concern for the plight of illegal immigrants, who live in fear of deportation, can't sue when they are hurt on the job, face deprivation when they are shipped home to a country that has been thoroughly looted by a corrupt ruling class, etc.

This Republican faction, the "moderates," on this issue at least, would really miss their gardeners, their cleaning women. The restaurant owners would really miss the busboys, waitresses and dishwashers who work so cheaply. There are so many menial jobs these folks will do eagerly and inexpensively -- and Americans usually don't want to do them, at least not for so little.

There won't be any resolution to this anytime soon, not even if the Democrats try to work out some third way. But in the meantime, it's especially savory for one who has watched Texas Republicans gloat and preen for so many years to watch them tearing each other up over this now. And there are no good guys in this fight.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Bertram Gross: With "Friendly Fascism," A Prophet Without Honor In His Homeland

By Manifesto Joe

I recently dug up an old copy of a sociopolitical classic, Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America, by Bertram Gross, published at the dawn of the Reagan era in 1980. I did Web searches and can't determine whether Gross is dead or alive. He would be quite old, if living. His bio on the jacket says he "was the major architect of the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act of 1978, and the Employment Act of 1946, in their original forms." He served in many official and advisory roles as a government planner, and was a political science professor at Hunter College (CUNY). He seems to have written an enduring classic in this book, one of chilling prophesy. He set up a table that is most telling:

Classic Fascism: Drives by capitalist laggards to build new empires at the expense of leading capitalist powers.
Friendly Fascism, U.S.A.: Drive to maintain unity of Free World empire, contain or absorb communist regimes, or else retreat to Fortress America.

Classic: A tight Government-Big Business oligarchy with charismatic dictator or figurehead, and expansionist, scapegoating, and nationalist ideologies.
Friendly: An integrated Big Business-Big Government power structure with new technocratic ideologies and more advanced arts of ruling and fooling the public.

Classic: Liquidation or minimalization of multiparty conflict and open subversion, with little use of democratic machinery and human rights.
Friendly: Subtle subversion, through manipulative use and control of democratic machinery, parties, and human rights.

Classic: Negative sanctions through ruthless, widespread, and high-cost terror; direct action against selected scapegoats.
Friendly: Direct terror applied through low-level violence and professionalized, low-cost escalation, with indirect terror through ethnic conflicts, multiple scapegoats, and organized disorder.

Classic: Ceaseless propaganda, backed up by spies and informers, to consolidate elite support and mobilize masses.
Friendly: Informational offenses backed by high-technology monitoring, to manage minds of elites and immobilize masses.

Classic: Widespread benefits through more jobs, stabilized prices, domestic spoils, foreign booty, and upward mobility for the most faithful.
Friendly: Rationed rewards of power and money for elites, extended professionalism, accelerated consumerism for some, and social services conditional on the recipients' good behavior.

Classic: Anxiety relief through participatory spectacles, mass action, and genuine bloodletting.
Friendly: More varied relief through sex, drugs, madness, and cults, as well as alcoholism, gambling, sports, and ultraviolent drama.

Classic: Internal viability based on sustained, frantic, and eventually self-destructive expansion.
Friendly: Internal viability based on careful expansion, system-strengthening reforms, multilevel co-optation, and mass apathy.

Mr. Gross seems to have been a classic prophet without honor. But his half-life as a prophet may have been only 20 years or so. Lately, that classic model is starting to look somewhat eerily like the contemporary scene. Or vice versa.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Manifesto Joe's Great Moments In Conservative History, Chapter 4

"Because Vietnam was not a declared war, the veterans are not even eligible for the G.I. Bill of Rights, with respect to education or anything."

-- Ronald Reagan, quoted by Newsweek, 4/21/80.

The Great Communicator's ghost raises a troubling point. Now that the U.S. has essentially lost in Iraq, maybe Congress should belatedly make a real declaration of war so there won't be any question about veterans benefits. Perhaps we need a legal opinion. -- MJ

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I Get Comments

By Manifesto Joe

Nick Bradley said...
When Child labor laws made it illegal for your grandfather to work in an open, legal environment, children his age turned to the black market for money, where the pay was worse and the conditions abhorrent.

At a certain stage in economic development, children work to help put food on the table. Once economies progress past that point, families can afford to keep their kids out of work and educate them -- invest in them.

Any punishment we dole out on 3rd-world countries for having child labor keep them in economic first gear -- or they whore their daughters out and their sons become pickpockets.

June 18, 2007 7:33 PM

Manifesto Joe said...
Hey, I think that suddenly we have an answer to a lot of our social ills. Let's start putting everybody's ass to work in a factory when they're 7 years old! Think of all the character-building experiences they will have. And hell, when you consider it, not everybody needs to know how to read. I understand that 60 percent of Americans have never read a complete book. I suppose there's nothing intrinsically wrong with condemning large segments of the population to lifelong wage slavery. Many are nothing more than brutes, anyway.

To turn serious, your argument is almost analogous to: When you make it illegal for child molesters to rape children, they will do it in secret anyway, where they will do even more awful things to them, bugger them even worse, etc. So why punish them by making it illegal? Let's have it in the open, for all to see. Perhaps we can distribute free condoms at the buggery festivals, to curb the spread of disease.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Had To Respond Once More To Libertarian Dupes

By Manifesto Joe

This to answer any and all fitting comments to the recent posts regarding Ron Paul:

To the menagerie of fools, too many to name individually:

You are either very disingenuous, or very naive. There are hardcore, doctrinaire socialists on one extreme, and on the other, you. You have a fundamental misconception that somehow wealth can be divorced from state power, and that established wealth will not inevitably use its natural influence to compel state power to perpetuate that wealth. You are making the same mistake, ironically, that people on the very extreme left make: thinking that humans are ultimately reasonable, benevolent, will act as they should, etc. Have you read anything about what the U.S. economy was like during the Gilded Age, the heyday of your economic ideology?

There is one simple reason why there is no longer widespread child labor in the U.S. One reason why public education, yes, even such as it is, is now universally available. One reason why when someone gets hurt on the job, they don't just get put out on the street with an arm cast on, and tough shit, buddy. One reason why when someone has a catastrophic illness, they aren't just left to be evicted and starve, and their kids along with them. One reason why when someone gets too old and sick to work, they can at least afford a tin of Little Friskies. One reason why anybody can require the barest subsistence wage when they show up for a job.

It's called "government." And it's virtually inevitable. Ask somebody in Somalia what it was like to live without it. If you like low taxes, try sunny Guatemala. See what the roads and schools are like there.

I'll take my chances with a modern Western mixed economy, thank you. At least it can be monitored, checks and balances, etc. No, it isn't going to be clean or perfect. Nothing associated with the naked ape is ever going to be, and especially not a "free" market.

At least I've gotten a chance to respond thusly to the smug, ignorant likes of you, rather than being made into some beast of burden like some of my forebears were. You are either liars or fools. I hope that in most cases it is the latter.

A Comment On Ron Paul That I Had To Post (From Watching Those We Chose)

By Manifesto Joe

When posting a routine follow-up on R.P., I didn't remotely expect anything like this, the number of comments. But this is turning out to be fun. Since we have so many free marketeers proctoring this site, here's one for y'all, originally posted as a reply to comments:

Wow, what happened here? A lot while I was asleep and at work.

Something I feel compelled to add to the exchange: One of my grandfathers was an illiterate who was put to work in the tobacco fields of North Carolina at age 7. This was 1897, a year in the heyday of economics as it is prescribed by Congressman Paul's beloved Ludwig von Mises Society. He wasn't an exception. In cities, there were children that age operating machines in mills and factories because their fingers were supple, and they were less likely to get their little arms caught in the gears.

That "godless socialism" of the 20th century made an awful lot of difference in my family, and I don't feel a trace of guilt. My parents made it to high school, but college was a privilege they could scarcely hope for. I have a master's degree, and it does not trouble me that some corporate cutthroat may have had to wait an extra year for his BMW so a hillbilly's grandson could get an M.A. in 6 years instead of 12. And now, in a higher tax bracket, I can help someone else like I was -- but only after the war machine takes much more of it.

I am giving Ron Paul his due for opposing this stupid war. But the laissez-faire economic view he embraces was discredited 75 years ago. It is only the self-interest of an economic elite that has kept this silly and ironically enslaving ideology alive all this time. You want to be bought and sold in the marketplace every day, like a commodity? By all means, let's go back to 1897.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Ron Paul Update: They Haven't Marginalized Him Just Yet

By Manifesto Joe

In May I posted an article on my home blog, in response to the reactions to U.S. Rep. Ron Paul's performance in one of the GOP debates, called, "It's Scary When Ron Paul Comes Across As The Sanest GOP Candidate." I'll repeat, as a qualifier, Ron is a walking anachronism when it comes to domestic policy. This is a guy who would abolish the Department of Education. Yes, he's serious.

But, there is something about this longtime Texas congressman that the MSM, and even Fox News, try as they have, are unable to dismiss. He represents a small minority of libertarian paleoconservatives who somehow had sense enough to be against the Iraq misadventure from Day One.

Here's some of the latest that's come across the MSM about him: This from Saturday's Washington Post:

On Technorati, which offers a real-time glimpse of the blogosphere, the most frequently searched term this week was "YouTube."

Then comes "Ron Paul."

Rep. Ron Paul, one of the most obscure GOP presidential hopefuls on the old-media landscape, has drawn more views of his YouTube videos than any of his GOP rivals. ...

The presence of the obscure Republican congressman from Texas on a list that includes terms such as "Sopranos," "Paris Hilton" and "iPhone" is a sign of the online buzz building around the long-shot Republican presidential hopeful -- even as mainstream political pundits have written him off.

Rep. Ron Paul is more popular on Facebook than Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). He's got more friends on MySpace than former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. His MeetUp groups, with 11,924 members in 279 cities, are the biggest in the Republican field. And his official YouTube videos, including clips of his three debate appearances, have been viewed nearly 1.1 million times -- more than those of any other candidate, Republican or Democrat, except Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

No one's more surprised at this robust Web presence than Paul himself, a self-described "old-school," "pen-and-paper guy" who's serving his 10th congressional term and was the Libertarian Party's nominee for president in 1988.

"To tell you the truth, I hadn't heard about this YouTube and all the other Internet sites until supporters started gathering in them," confessed Paul, 71, who said that he's raised about $100,000 after each of the three debates. Not bad considering that his campaign had less than $10,000 when his exploratory committee was formed in mid-February. "I tell you I've never raised money as efficiently as that, in all my years in Congress, and all I'm doing is speaking my mind."

That means saying again and again that the Republican Party, especially when it comes to government spending and foreign policy, is in "shambles." ...

Republican strategists point out that libertarians, who make up a small but vocal portion of the Republican base, intrinsically gravitate toward the Web's anything-goes, leave-me-alone nature. They also say that his Web presence proves that the Internet can be a great equalizer in the race, giving a much-needed boost to a fringe candidate with little money and only a shadow of the campaign staffs marshaled by Romney, McCain and former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

An obstetrician and gynecologist, Paul is known as "Dr. No" in the House of Representatives. No to big government. No to the Internal Revenue Service. No to the federal ban on same-sex marriage.

"I'm for the individual," Paul said. "I'm not for the government."

If he had his way, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Education, among other agencies, would not exist. In his view, the USA Patriot Act, which allows the government to search personal data, including private Internet use, is unconstitutional, and trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement are a threat to American independence.

But perhaps what most notably separates Paul from the crowded Republican field, headed by what former Virginia governor James S. Gilmore III calls "Rudy McRomney," is his stance on the Iraq war. He's been against it from the very beginning.

After the second Republican presidential debate last month, when Paul implied that American foreign policy has contributed to anti-Americanism in the Middle East -- "They attack us because we're over there. We've been bombing Iraq for 10 years," Paul said -- he was attacked by Giuliani, and conservatives such as Saul Anuzis were livid. Anuzis, chairman of the Michigan GOP, threatened to circulate a petition to bar Paul from future Republican presidential debates. Though the petition never materialized, Anuzis's BlackBerry was flooded with e-mails and his office was inundated with calls for several days. "It was a distraction, no doubt," he said.

The culprits: Paul's growing number of supporters, some of whom posted Anuzis's e-mail address and office phone number on their blogs.

Ron's not a guy I would seriously favor for president. But he's bringing a refreshing honesty to the GOP race, and I hope he can stay in the fray for several more months.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

It's Official: Bush More Popular In Albania Than The Guy Who Invented Sheepdip

By Manifesto Joe

There was once a novel, and also a song, called something like, "Been Down So Very Damn Long That It Looks Like Up To Me." This is one theory about George W. "Bushie" Bush's mysterious popularity in the European garden spot of Albania.

In America, his approval ratings run as low as the high 20s. Here in his home state, he's below 50 percent. In parts of Europe, he's in single digits. In Italy, while he was meeting with the pope, angry mobs took to the streets.

In Albania, he got a rock star's reception. "Bushie, Bushie," they chanted. Old women kissed him on both cheeks, and the rabble reached out to muss his gray hair.
He was deemed by the prime minister the greatest guest the country ever had.

History must be considered. Among Europeans, Albanians are like someone who's been in a torture chamber so long that a stretch in a minimum-security prison must seem like utopia.

These are a long, long-suffering people, beset by empires and dictators of all sorts, starting with the Romans. They were dominated by the Ottoman Empire for centuries, which made them the only Muslim-majority populace in Europe. (Convert, or split.) Mussolini's Italian fascist army overran them just before World War II (although I read that they had a little trouble with the guys with the pitchforks). After the communists took over in 1944, they had a dictator, Enver Hoxha, who made Uncle Joe Stalin seem like a bud you could sit down and have a few chilled Stolis with. In 1967 Hoxha declared the country the world's first official atheist country, closing all the mosques. Before he died and went to Hell in 1985, he somehow even managed to piss off communist China.

Even after Hoxha died and went to Hell, Albania's luck didn't get much better. In the 1990s the country started moving toward a market economy, but their first big taste of it was nasty. This from Wikipedia:

In 1997 widespread riots erupted after the International Monetary Fund forced the state to liberalise banking practices. Many citizens, naive to the workings of a market economy, put their entire savings into pyramid schemes. In a short while, $2 billion (80% of the country's GDP) had been moved into the hands of just a few pyramid scheme owners, causing severe economic troubles and civic unrest.

So, their first experience with capitalism was a vast Ponzi scheme, and they're still enthusiastic about it? Hell, they sound like Americans to me. Maybe Karl Rove can figure out a way to make them into the 51st state. They'd be a lock for the Republicans.

I guess when you been down so long, almost anything looks like up. Even Bush.

Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas.

Monday, June 11, 2007

I Love The Smell Of Napalmed Right-Wing Ass In The Morning

By Manifesto Joe

This exchange took place on, and I felt compelled to repeat it from the comments section. It was in response to an earlier post here, and there. -- MJ
"The Angry White Male: It's Mostly About Money, But With A Spin"

Anonymous said...
"These are working-class and lower-middle-class guys, age ranging from around 25 to 55, who vote overwhelmingly Republican, against their true economic interests."

Conservatives have an ideology that rises above personal self interest. The voters you are so confused about vote for what they believe is the best for their nation in the long term, not for what they can shake down their neighbors for in the guise of government. You will never understand this because you want what you have not earned. You should be ashamed of yourself. You have a four year degree from a good college (paid for by your neighbors against their will,) you live in the richest country in the world, you have greater opportunity than 99 percent of the population of the planet, and you still whine on and on because someone makes more money than you.

With liberals it is always about the money, isn't it...someone else's money. You are no better than a thief, and you should be ashamed. You have reduced yourself to begging when you could actually be producing something of value and making yourself and your family proud.

It is a little ironic; I surfed into this blog looking for examples of liberals creating examples of class warefare that do not exist, and you actually tagged your blog with that key phrase. Thanks for making it so easy. You will be credited in my essay.

7:46 AM

Manifesto Joe said...
Hi, Anonymous, this is Manifesto Joe:

Your comment would be laughable if it weren't representative of many millions of dupes. I don't know your socio-eocnomic status; maybe I hit too close to home. Let me discuss a few points about income redistribution, which seems to be your main "argument" in rebuttal.

The rich are much, much better at redistributing income (in their direction), and well they should be. They've been at it since antiquity. It's only been the past couple of centuries or so that they've had any serious competition at it.

We'll do this dissection point by point: (1) "Conservatives have an ideology that rises above personal self interest"???? Did you go to college? Maybe you were dozing on the day the economics prof talked about Adam Smith. He's the patron saint of laissez-faire, the bedrock of modern conservative economic thought. He argued that self-interest produces unintended consquences that produce good results for the economy as a whole. I don't always agree, but we'll put that aside for a moment. The point is that this shows a rather gaping hole in your background.

(2) "The voters you are so confused about vote for what they believe is the best for their nation in the long term, not for what they can shake down their neighbors for in the guise of government." This is actually an alarming aspect of this. They voted for a government that started an expensive elective war, so now Halliburton can shake me down for tax money for their no-bid contracts. And it's against my will, neighbor.

(3) "You should be ashamed of yourself. You have a four year degree from a good college (paid for by your neighbors against their will,)"
Your arrogant presumptions aside, let me point out that I repaid my govt. loans to the penny, and that much of the help I got was from academic merit scholarships. The taxpayers were ultimately out very little on me. And since I've made my way into a higher tax bracket over the years than I might have otherwise, the investment likely paid off, and then some. Now I am paying taxes to help some kid who was like I was -- I hope. (After Halliburton takes their cut).

(4) "With liberals it is always about the money, isn't it...someone else's money. You are no better than a thief, and you should be ashamed. You have reduced yourself to begging when you could be producing something of value and making yourself and your family proud."

You are either very disingenuous or very naive. Let me discuss a few points about redistribution of income:

What is the business of lobbyists? They crowd Washington and the state capitols in search of tax shelters, depletion allowances, investment incentives, contracts, etc.

What is the business of tax lawyers? They seldom work for ordinary people. Their main job is to minimize the tax bill for big corporations and wealthy individuals, and they are extremely well-paid. And, when you examine IRS stats, it's clear that they get results.

Among the rich, opportunism is expected. Among the poor, it suddenly becomes an intolerable vice. On occasions when income is redistributed to the poor, fools like you regard it as no better than theft. But when big corporations shake down states and localities for tax abatements, seed grants and the like, a kind of legal bribery, it's called "job creation" and "incentives" and ultimately, "smart business." You people don't get worked up about any of that, it seems, even though it is probably costing many of you a lot. The taxes they don't pay, you and I do.

Your ad hominem attacks (that thar college do come in handy, even fer us po' hillbillies!) I will mostly ignore, but allow one more point. Former U.S. Senator Phil Gramm, R of my home state, went to college the same way I did -- on a combination of public assistance, merit scholarships, loans, etc. He spent most of his adult life on the public payroll, first as a state college professor, and then for many years as a legislator. But he saw fit to vote repeatedly to slash funding for the kinds of programs that helped him get his degrees -- it was like, I'm at the top of the ladder now, and so I'm going to pull it up. Describing this as a double standard doesn't remotely do it justice. I'm happy to have any tax money from me go to help some smart, disadvantaged kid, because it's an investment in the future.

What is more than a "little" ironic is that you came here hunting for class "warefare" (is that something like pottery?) and found it. Let me assure you that it is very real, and you'll see more before you will see less.

Credit this in your "essay," please. And I'll leave you with a paraphrased quotation from John Stuart Mill: Not all conservatives are stupid; but most stupid people are conservatives.

If you are one of the disingenuous types who actually have a trust fund, enjoy it. If not, well, have a great time in your fool's paradise.

Postscript: You just gave me one of my next posts for my blog!

12:47 AM

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Pope's "Concerns" Show Insularity Of Conservative Christians

By Manifesto Joe

Pope Benedict XVI has been in trouble before for speaking his real mind. On Saturday, he gave the world another insight into his theological and moral mind-set, as statements came out of his meeting with another "conservative Christian" of sorts, George W. Bush.

The Associated Press reports that the pontiff:

"... expressed concern that the Muslim majority in Iraq was intolerant of Christians. A Vatican statement said Bush, in talks with the pope ... discussed the 'worrisome situation in Iraq' and the 'critical conditions in which the Christian communities (in Iraq) are found,' the statement said."

According to the AP report, Bush said that "there was no discussion whether Iraq was a 'just war'."

I realize that as bishop of Rome, the pope is empowered to speak about faith for the world's 600 million-plus Roman Catholics, and that on faith he speaks specifically for them. But the last time I checked, Muslims are humans, too.

And they are the majority of the Iraq war's civilian deaths, which are now thought to be approaching 700,000 by some estimates. It seems like Benedict should have expressed some serious concern for them as well.

I consider myself a tolerant Modernist Christian, which of course makes me a heretic to traditional Catholics. If given a choice between Catholicism and any form of Islam, my first question would be: "What else have you got?"

But it seems like a natural moral imperative to recognize and defend the humanity of both those groups, and all others; and yes, even nonbelievers. In expressing his concerns, the pontiff seemed to be telling the world something practically out of Animal Farm: All people are equal, but Christians are more equal than others.

Iraqi Christians are truly enduring horrific times. Their prewar population was reported to have approached 800,000, or over 3 percent of the people. An Iraqi Christian legislator, Ablahad Afram Sawa, estimates that 500,000 of them have fled, many to Damascus in neighboring Syria.

Ironically, this is yet another byproduct of the stupid and mendacious U.S. invasion of "3/19." Iraq's Christians didn't face this before then. Since the Pandora's box of sectarian strife was opened in Iraq, they have been viciously persecuted. A group affiliated with Al-Qaida, not there before, now offers them a few options: (1) Convert to Islam. Now. (2) Offer one of your daughters to marry one of our fighters. (3) Pay the jizya, a prohibitively high tax on non-Muslims. (4) Leave Iraq with the clothes on your back. Or, (5) Die.

Of course this has decimated the Christian minority in Iraq. Yes, this is an exodus of major proportions, and one of the world's many current human rights tragedies.

But Iraqis in general are dying every day in car bombings. They are being shot, beheaded, anything you can imagine. And most of them are Muslims.

And yet it would appear that Benedict, while sitting with the "leader of the Free World," lacked the moral courage to even debate whether this is a "just war." As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he at least showed enough courage, once, to denounce the war. It would appear that his calling as a moral leader has become secondary to his willingness to play the nasty Machiavellian game of geopolitics with the likes of George W. Bush.

The previous pontiff, John Paul II, was also far too conservative in many ways, out of touch with realities of modern life. But he set a far superior example as a world moral leader. Around 1991, when the Soviet Union had collapsed, John Paul had the nerve to remind the world that capitalism was not the real winner of that battle. This from a Pole who had seen Soviet-style rule firsthand. He had the honesty and clear vision to see that the world's poor are still hideously abused by private enterprises, and he said so.

This pope has no such vision, or courage. The world saw that vividly on Saturday. His firm embrace of Catholic dogma matters to him far more than to defend any basic dignity and worth of all humans. If you're not on the Jesus team (and especially on the Roman varsity squad), you don't seem to count quite as much.

It wasn't hard to read between the lines. I'm quite familiar with this line of Christian dogma: As an apostate Southern Baptist, what I found most irreconcilable with any kind of common sense was the right-wing Christian belief that one who "hears" and yet doesn't embrace Jesus -- even Abdullah in Islamabad, who's been quite indoctrinated there -- is going straight to perdition. There are supposed to be few, if any, exceptions. Maybe for South American Indians so backwoods that they've never "heard." Some of the hard-core "Christian" types don't even make exceptions for them.

I'm sure Benedict didn't intend for people to gather this from the "subliminable" meaning of his parlay with Bush. But it's not hard to see that for him, there are two types of people in the world: Christians, and not.

And, there was a chance here to repeat his earlier protest against a manifestly immoral war. As a moral leader, Benedict has failed -- again.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Republicans: Grow Up, But If You Can't Do That, Learn How To Throw A Decent Punch

Aside from the intrinsic stupidity of this, it's quite sad that such a decaying old man even tried to sucker-punch another old man in the Alabama Senate. But he didn't even do a halfway decent job. Even with a surprise blow, he connected somewhere around the upper neck, and without much effect. Hey, macho right-wingers: If you fancy yourselves badasses, at least get into shape and try to do it right! And, it might be more honorable to actually challenge your adversary to a refereed session in the nearest gym. But, y'all don't seem to have that much class.
Just for the record, that was state Sen. Charles Bishop, a Republican, trying to punch out Sen. Lowell Barron, a Democrat. Barron refused to comment and went into a closed-door meeting with other Democrats. Sen. Vivian Figures went into the meeting carrying first aid supplies, but she said he was not hurt.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Angry White Male: It's Mostly About Money, But With A Spin

By Manifesto Joe

The modern American political phenomenon of "the angry white male" has baffled me for a long time. These are working-class and lower-middle-class guys, age ranging from around 25 to 55, who vote overwhelmingly Republican, against their true economic interests. These aren't men who own hedge funds, and it's been shown repeatedly that supply-side tax cuts at best do nothing for them, and at worst shift the burden to them in insidious ways. For them, voting GOP is like being chickens for Colonel Sanders.

But after reading a recent Associated Press report on income trends in America, comparing 1974 earnings to the most recent available census stats, I think I understand this a little better. It's mostly about wages and salaries -- but with an ironic demagogic spin.

From AP's report:

"New analysis of census data challenges the historical presumption that each American generation will be wealthier than the one before, according to a report from the Pew Charitable Trusts' Economic Mobility Project.

"A generation ago, American men in their 30s had median annual incomes of about $40,000. Men of the same age today ... make only about $35,000 a year, adjusted for inflation.

"That's a 12.5 percent drop between 1974 and 2004, according to the report."

It's not easy for me to relate to the men who have been most profoundly affected by this trend. I've been in the work force since the late '70s. It wasn't hard for me to do a little better than my parents did, because we were a relatively poor family. At the time I came of age, poor kids like me were getting help that isn't so available anymore, so I got to go to a good college and graduated in 4 years.

But the following decades weren't kind to working-class, and even middle-class, white guys. A lot of the bread-and-butter blue-collar jobs were exported -- from places like Flint, Michigan, to places like Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. As more women, often with college degrees, entered the work force, and more minorities finally began climbing the ladder, The Angry White Male suddenly had competition that Pops never faced. That big promotion, or even the gold watch at 65, were no longer givens.

At the risk of seeming "illiberal" for just a moment, I have seen, and have been personally affected by, all the things that the pissed-off white dudes complain about. I've seen people hired in haste for jobs they were unprepared for, and unable to perform -- but they were still tolerated. I've seen people get promotions they weren't ready for -- but, true to The Peter Principle, they stayed there. I've seen mistakes swept under the rug time after time.

But, Angry White Dudes, let's be honest. Was it really different in 1950? If you were able to talk to the vanguard of women and minorities who were trying to break through an almost impregnable glass ceiling back then, wouldn't they be expressing the same frustrations, only worse?

But, back to the report. Upon closer examination, what becomes clear is that the puppetmasters are getting you fellas, y'all Angry White Males, to blame people who are largely in the same predicament you're in. Someone I know told me that he walked into a 7-Eleven one day and heard Rush Lardbaugh on a radio, railing against "Feminazis" and such, and the guy who had the radio on was a fortyish man in a red smock who was probably making eight bucks an hour. And he was grooving to the bashing.

The report suggests that, instead of listening to Lardbaugh's rant, this guy should have been checking out what his company's CEO makes. In the same period, from the '70s to the most recent stats:

"Chief executives' pay surged to 262 times the average worker's pay in 2005, up from 35 times in 1978, according to the report's analysis of Congressional Budget Office statistics."

A coincidence? "Free market" fundamentalists would have us believe so. The market is supposed to be some kind of primal force that, like the Ned Beatty character in Network says, mustn't be meddled with. But it's funny; they meddle with it in other countries, and to general good effect. Back to the report:

"The Pew report also found that in many countries, including Denmark, Norway, Finland, Canada, Sweden, Germany and France, there is more economic mobility than in the U.S. when measuring by the income differences between generations."

OK, thirtysomething white males, go on being angry. But please, redirect the anger at those who really deserve it. You've got some pretty corpulent swine getting a free ride on your shoulders. It's time to start blaming them, and not your co-workers who happen to be of a different race or gender. Stop listening to the demagogues.

Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Campaign 2008: A Symphony of Horror

Joe thought he had an original idea here, but darned if The Rude Pundit didn't beat him to it by over a month. Go to and look in his archives for his April 28 post. Rudy Giuliani and Count Orlov from Nosferatu almost look like they could have been separated at birth.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

From Joe's Vault: Is "Conservatism" A New Form of Mental Illness?

By Manifesto Joe

Originally posted on Marc McDonald's Beggars Can Be Choosers, Aug. 29, 2005.

When I heard the title of Michael Savage's latest screed -- Liberalism Is a Mental Disorder: Savage Solutions -- the irony wasn't lost on me. This is from a man who:

Was fired from MSNBC for telling a caller to "get AIDS and die" among other things.

Has referred to Iraqi prisoners as "subhumans" and called for them to be summarily executed by the thousands.

Said the tsunami that struck East Asian countries was not a tragedy but rather a message from God.

Says women should be denied the vote because they are too emotional -- their hormones rage.

But Savage isn't the only "conservative" who's been waxing psychopathic lately. The vilification of anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan has shown a zany viciousness once heard only from the most demented elements of the right. The typically milder-mannered Fred Barnes called her a "crackpot." Rush Limbaugh said Sheehan's story is "nothing more than forged documents." (Two days later Limbaugh denied saying anything like this, whatever it was that he meant.) One-time Trotskyite turned right-wing straitjacket candidate David Horowitz described Sheehan's protest as "hateful" and said she is dishonoring the memory of her fallen son. A political consultant and blogger named Erick Erickson said Sheehan is "a whore in the form of a grieving mother."

Savage is right about one thing: There is a strain of mental illness spreading in America. Problem is, he's pointing in the wrong direction, as usual. Many of those who call themselves "conservatives" are not merely dangerous radicals. They could use a dose of anti-psychotic drugs.

I've been wondering about the sanity of "conservatives" since the days of Lee Atwater, when it became apparent that these self-styled paragons of virtue would say and do just about anything to win an election. Atwater later died, reportedly of a brain tumor; but I'm convinced that the tumor was benign. It's the brain that was malignant.

It's gotten worse since then. Consider a political landscape in which:

A Republican congressman, Tom Tancredo of Colorado, suggests that if terrorists attack the United States with a nuke, we could "take out their holy sites." (Presumably he would hold all Muslims responsible.)

The Rev. Pat Robertson, one of our best-known "Christian" broadcasters, suggests that we assassinate a legally elected foreign head of state because we don't like his policies or the company he keeps. (But hey, keep that oil coming.)

Bestselling commentator Ann Coulter says, quite seriously, about Islamic nations that we should "invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." (Millions buy this shrill woman's books. I suppose these are the readers who cut class the day the professor lectured on The Crusades.)

Barry Goldwater, after leaving politics, lamented that the Republican Party had been taken over by "a bunch of kooks." This was ironic when one recalls LBJ supporters in 1964 saying about rival candidate Goldwater, "In your guts you know he's nuts." If Goldwater scared people back then, what does that say about some of the loonies who hold high office now?

I suggest something further: That pretty much describes the whole contemporary "conservative" movement. It's not just some of the top politicos, pundits and preachers who are spouting rubber-room rhetoric. It's become like a bizarre cult of millions. The only positive aspect about how many of these fanatical weirdos there are is that they could never have all fit into the compound at Mount Carmel.

The Texas Republican Party, in its delusional 2004 platform, for example, urges that the IRS be eliminated, along with "income tax, inheritance tax, gift tax, capital gains, corporate income tax, payroll tax and property tax." The state GOP would also kill "the Bureau of Tobacco and Firearms, the position of Surgeon General, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Departments of Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Education, Commerce and Labor." (I guess when you believe that The Rapture is coming soon, who needs a government?)

The comparably deranged 2000 platform calls for America to return to the gold standard and supports "individual teachers' right to teach creation science in Texas public schools." It also calls for the United States to quit the United Nations and re-establish control of the Panama Canal. (It stops short of unleashing Chiang Kai-shek's skeletal remains on mainland China.)

Consider that this is the political party that is governing Texas, virtually unchallenged.

Then there are the assorted lunatics who blog, argue in chat rooms, etc. A "Christian conservative" who identified himself (herself?) as "frogribs" posted a reply to an earlier article of mine on this blog in which he wrote:

"Yes, it is better `to have the London subway system be a battleground than to have al Qaeda blowing up folks over here.' The duty of the president is to place the lives and well being of Americans above all others." (I'm glad Bush was thinking that when he misled the country into a needless war in Iraq. And I'm certain the British will be thrilled to know we're willing to use them, and other allied civilians, as human shields.)

"Iraqi civilian casualties have occurred, but at a rate lower than anyone expected." (Was this person here, on this planet, in March 2003? We were hearing that this would be a cakewalk, and that Iraqis would be tossing rose petals at our soldiers' feet. Since then, dozens of suicide bombings later, the cake's been decorated with entrails, and the petals look curiously like toenails.)

"The U.S. still faces an insurgency, but they must remain to complete the mission in order to avoid the disastrous result learned in Vietnam. Napoleon said it best, 'If you decide to take Paris, take Paris.' Finish the job. ..." (This person evidently never heard about Waterloo. Or Nixon's hapless "Vietnamization" policy. What should we call this now -- "Iraqification"?)

"Does anyone remember how we got this country? We got it by force. We decimated the Indians ... We invaded the Spanish and the Mexicans and we took the spoils. We exploited slaves until the error was purged with the blood of 500,000 of our countrymen ... Manifest Destiny still runs in my veins and the veins of the free and the brave ..."

(Gosh, so America really was largely built on genocide, slavery and military aggression? Since it worked so well in the past, why don't we do all that stuff again? And when they bring back the slave auctions, I wonder -- how much would Jesus bid?)

If this person is a sincere, believing, born-again Christian, then someone must have slipped a couple of books by Nietzsche and Machiavelli into his Bible. I can envision The Prince, and Beyond Good and Evil, bound in there somewhere between Galatians and Revelation, no doubt by Godless nihilistic conspirators.

But seriously, crazy people don't perceive even such basic ideological contradictions. I've seen this firsthand in paranoid schizophrenics. They feel quite free to just make it up as they go along.

I think we've identified a unique personality disorder. It isn't hard to diagnose, because most of the patients call themselves "conservatives."

Charge nurse, call the orderlies, and break out the Thorazine. This is no problem that a little heavy sedation won't fix.