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09 September 2008

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Cato

That is a really enjoyable film. I particularly liked how Grant's daughters treated him like a complete idiot since that's how my daughter now treats me.

McGee

PL: "The best argument against the current size of the United States is an argument against gigantism itself and the mess it makes of representative government."

I've been thinking this for years now, but can't remember anyone putting it into words quite so succinctly before. Certainly no one in the pundit or political class, since they require this big market to sell maximum product.

One solution would be to chop the United States up into more manageable segments. Not sugggesting this, as I don't see how it's feasible without our red state/blue state differences rising to civil war-like proportions. But I can imagine a terrorist attack or natural catastrophe of epic proportions provoking a response which might tear the country apart in this way

As an aside, just finished Ron Susskind's "The Way of the World" which I'd recommend highly to all at this website. It's probably the most meaningful book I've read in the past twenty years about the political realities we need to come to grips with in the post-cold war era. Immediately went out and bought copies for my kids. In addition to its eye-opening insights (at least for euro-centric me) into the state of the Islamic world and our relationship with it, or lack of one, I found the narratives on the probability/certainty of nuclear terrorism riveting. Wondering if anyone here has a background in this, and whether a separate discussion at some time might be possible. Would be glad to post a short excerpt from Susskind's book as a jumping-off point, if there's an interest....

CP

I'll take a pass on "wham you mam" with the Alaskan predator.

Leila Abu-Saba

Depressing, isn't it? You're sounding like my lefty parents though. They told me as far back as 1972, when I was ten years old, that the American people were being brainwashed. I grew up to think they were just misguided (and I do honor my father and mother, but that doesn't mean I think everything they say about politics is necessarily true). Too far to the left.

(Just as many children of rock-ribbed American conservatives grow up to become liberals, also many children of far leftists grow up to be centrist liberals, or even neo-cons. Most of the neo-cons are ex-lefties)

Now you're sounding the same horn? What is this world coming to?

Cieran

Colonel Lang:

I agree, but I don't think that "Wham" is quite exactly the appropriate metaphor.

I'd recommend Philip K. Dick's classic "Ubik" instead. You really have to get into the fantasy/speculative fiction realm to capture the behaviors of the current political scene!

zanzibar

Why can't the "Republic Party" that does such a good job in selling Wham! actually do even half as good a job in running the "enterprise" after they get the CEO job?

Oh! - greed is good, and the spoils are "where its happening." - yes, they are doing an excellent job!

Four more years, with double helping of Wham!, please.

bstr

Damm right the folks like Whamm! The Jocobins who have controled the political ball in the United States for nearly eight years have executed the most brilliant cognitive bait and switch yet. Based on our wide populist resentment of anything "elite" they have constructed a working class hero in Pallin, who can be counted upon to deconstruct into a corporatist lackey upon arrival in the capital.

Mark Logan

I was thinking along this same line myself this morning after hearing Obama
speak. He needs to fight the
BS and smears, sure enough,
but I would advise him to use more quotable "zingers" to get the refutations repeated and spread. Lord knows they're pitching slow
fastballs over the middle of the plate. Smack a few of them out.

Over explaining is a very, very bad habit for a leader. He needs to break that one ASAP.

dcgaffer

Ah, Blandings is a classic.

The ills you describe could arguably laid a the feet of two Supreme Court decisions: the former recent the latter over many years.

1. Money equals speech.
2. Corporations are "persons."

I think Jefferson would agree.

Gigantasm is not the problem, per se. I'd argue that the problem is more that our political boundaries, i.e. the states in may cases no longer relate to where people live and their interests. People in Trenton are aligned with Philly, not NJ. People in No VA are aligned with Washington, not the Shenandoah or Richmond, etc, etc etc.

Erase all the boundaries from the map and start fresh, maybe with Rand McNally "Major Trading Areas", (I think there are around 50) and you'd have much more sensible political conversation.

Yes, not practical.

Walrus

Col. Lang, Myrna Loy is definitely way before my time. The Blandings movie was made in 1948.

And while we are talking Thespian analogies, my take is that we are watching the equivalent of the musical version of "How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying." (1961).

J. Pierrepont Finch is played by John McCain and Rosemary Pilkington played by Sarah Palin. And of course they are following the manual - "The Company Way" - at the World Wide Wicket Company.

As I am afraid I have demonstrated so many times, I am concerned at the general American assumption that you can continue a rerun of such a wonderful light hearted musical every four years.

I note that today a BBC poll has suggested that "The World" (or the BBC's version of the world (tm.)) wants Obama. Globalisation has meant that their are now an infinity of links between different countries. Our pension funds and banks have taken a hit thanks to this Administrations financial regulation of Wall Street. Our special forces are getting shot up in Afghanistan, our interest in your elections is therefore not just vicarious.

On a personal note, my own personal struggle over understanding what is going on and what the outcome might be in this matter is compounded by my decision (perhaps rash) some years ago to reclaim American citizenship. My Mom is American, and of great age, and an Army brat, and she told me yesterday she thinks Sarah Palin is a jackass.

JohnH

It's all sizzle. I remember John Thune running for the Senate against Daschle. All he would say was that, if he were elecvted, the Republicans were "going to get things done." No specifics.

Now Palin and McCain are going to shake up Washington. No specifics, of course.

They can't get specific because people would be horrified if they knew what their agenda is.

So just sell them the Wham, the pig in a poke.

11B40

TCM will be showing "Blandings" @ 0600 hrs. ET this Saturday for early risers and/or those with DVRs.

Those of us who collect character actors (i.e., the *real* actors instead of the glamor boys/girls) will note the casting of Reginald Denny as Simms, an added treat to be sure.

Clifford Kiracofe

Some kosher McCain wham:

"Haifa, Israel — As the American presidential contest between Barack Obama and John McCain heads into its final stretch, a group of leading ultra-Orthodox rabbis in Israel is preparing to release a statement that urges the country’s American expatriates to exercise their voting rights in November by casting absentee ballots.....

“Every vote cast from Eretz Yisrael comes from someone concerned for the safety and security of people living there, and this will be understood in Washington,” Kalish told the Forward. Aaron Spetner, a Jerusalem-based Agudath Israel activist who is heading the campaign, added that “if thousands of voter registration forms are coming in from Israel, it makes us powerful in Washington — with the president, senators and congressmen.”

"There are an estimated 200,000 Americans living in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Only 35,000 are currently registered to vote."

"Baskin said that regardless of whether or not there is explicit rabbinic endorsement for McCain, Israel is an obvious recruiting ground for McCain supporters. “American Jews are by majority behind Obama,” Baskin said. “Ask most Israelis who they would vote for if they could, and a majority will say McCain. Now, among American Israelis, who tend to be more right-wing and more religious — especially those targeted in this campaign — McCain will fare particularly well.”

"The same as happens in [elections in] this country, we will vote for whoever the rabbis say is better,” she told the Forward."

http://www.forward.com/articles/14164/

....

J

Colonel,

what is a bit 'intriguing' is the way that some former 'very staunch' hillary supporters are now so full of anger at obama that they are so blinded by their anger they refuse to see mccain and palin (in particular) for their, shall-we-say 'frailties'. such blindness sometimes is not such a good thing.

Bobo

What a country we live in and what a time. We are seeing a Brand being made while the Fourth Estate is tossing everything including the banana peels at the Brand, to see what sticks. So far the teflon is holding up.

We all know what happens with Brands, they go stale. So it will be very interesting to see the Re-Branding in a few months of all the participants.

Not saying any of this is productive or beneficial for our country but making ----- sausage has always been messy.

The Blandings is very appropo.

pbrownlee

Ah, the wisdom of the clowns...

My recollection of the magic slogan (or, at least, the version I've been quoting for years) in MBBHDH is "If you ain't eatin' WHAM, you ain't eatin' ham".

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040613/quotes

Another much cherished movie is "The Senator was Indiscreet" with the immortal Bill Powell as a bird-brained senator (and former road painter) whose wife wants him to be President and he's willing to go along. Lots of stuff on "publicity" and stunts and some wonderful lines:

"If you can't beat 'em, bribe 'em!"

(On a signboard) "Tonight: Senator Melvin Ashton: Whither America? Tomorrow: Dog Show"

"Not inflation, not deflation, but good old American flation."

"You can't go around quoting politicians accurately; that's dirty journalism, and you know it!"

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039811/

Useful in an election (or any other) year...

Minnesotachuck

Cato @ 9/9, 1:40 pm:

Your daughter must be at that age (mid-teens) where she knows more than she will ever again in her life. There's hope. She may get over it. At least my two did, thankfully.

Buzz G

So who is right, Leo Strauss or Thomas Jefferson?
Does the common man have the intelligence and desire to govern himself or does the common man prefer to live in ignorance and actually desire to let someone else control his life as long as the controllers tell him pleasant lies that make him feel good about himself?
I'm having a hard time siding with Jefferson but I also doubt that if he were alive today he would be trying to make the case that the common American as he now exists is actually capable of self government.
Buzz G

Marcus

zanzibar:

"Why can't the "Republic Party" that does such a good job in selling Wham! actually do even half as good a job in running the "enterprise" after they get the CEO job?"

If the "enterprise" is a kleptocracy they are doing a superb job. Private profits for cronies and socialized losses for the (suckers)taxpayers.

What the plutocrats don't seem to care about is the long-term health of the golden goose (consumers)and the neo-cons wet dream of world domination, after all "spreadin democracy" takes capital, which increasingly they've transfered to unfriendly regimes.

David W.

Good timing--just prior to surfing over to SST, I read this article:

McCain-Palin '08 virtually using the same script as Schwarzenegger '03

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/09/09/MNI112QPR6.DTL&tsp=1

Well, as the old saw goes, Bush promised in 2000 he would run the govt. like a business; too bad the business he had in mind was Enron.

EL

"The American peple are being sold a lot of "Wham." They seem to like it. pl" pl, you're being too much the officer and the gentleman again. I think they more than "like" they love it,,,,devour it by the Alaskan ton. Lick their lips and drool in ecstasy.

Paul

A lot of decent moderate Republicans have been fooled by Bush. Many of them are students of good governance and they know that government, at any level, is complicated and not subject to change by slogans and baloney. For the moment, they are just watching and waiting.

The selecting of Palin, while appealing to the extreme, is their worst nightmare. Witness her "shoot from the hip" record in Alaska. I cannot imagine her on an international stage.

It took us 30 years to get to this abyss, and it will take as long climb out of it.

jonst

Walrus,

Myrna Loy was before the Col's time. In the chronological sense. Her attraction is, or I hope, will always be, classic. i.e. Loy will remain timeless.

Now me, as much as I loved Loy as an actress, and archetype, I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Ann Sheridan. Lesser known...but what a beauty. And a bit of tough edge to her.

As to America breaking up...Kennan ruminated on it in "Around the Cragged Hill: A Personal and Political Philosophy". Saw two conflicting dynamics....increased diversity in sections of the US, increased power of Washington over the smallest details in life. Eventually, as he put it, something has to give.

I don't have much hope anymore. While I normally resist the intrusion of Alcoholics Anonymous speak into my discourse...in this case one of their cliches seems to work for me. The Nation will have to hit bottom before real change is possible. We are no where near "bottom" now. And even when we do hit bottom, as we will, change is only "possible". Not probable.

Twit

Amen, but I think the size of the US is fine. Its the centralization and homogenization that is the problem. The US was better when going to a different state was like going to a different country. Federalism is the natural ally of individualism and the natural enemy of 'corporate' politics.

Didn't Thomas Jefferson say something about centralization of the Republic leading to despotism at home and empire abroad? Does anyone know the exact quote?

It really shows that only someone as politically marginal as Ron Paul is able to explicitly talk about the Constitution, limited government, and individual rights. Why didn't Obama go after his supporters? His policies may be crazy, but there is a reason Ron Paul's book is a bestseller.

Sidney O. Smith III

And standing in the Democratic mirror is….

A political scientist. David Axlerod. And from Chicago no less. Here’s Wikipedia: “Axelrod attended the University of Chicago, where he majored in political science.”

Not a reassuring view, especially when you take into account the interpretation of “political science” rendered at SST. In fact, when it comes to winning an “insurgency campaign” or whatever you want to call it, I cannot imagine a worse combination than the “University of Chicago” and “Political Science” (again relying on the insights provided in earlier threads and nothing more).

After the Palin debacle, in which Democrats, at least initially, struck out at another culture, it looks like political scientists not only constitute the heart of the Democratic party but also determine its overall strategy. If so, then it is all but certain that Democratic strategists do not have the wherewithal to cross examine McCain effectively.

To word differently, if Democrats try to undermine McCain or reveal his “personality” based upon the methodology of political science, then Democrats will get their clocks cleaned.

Republican strategists may very well know this aspect of team Obama. The underlying sophistication of the McCain acceptance speech reveals how they think the Democrats will attack him. The sub textual message was very well thought out.

The Democrats can still win. But the values of “anthropology” as described at SST give Democrats a better path to follow than those of political science. One of the better examples of the approach offered by anthropology was that given to us by Martin Buber who taught anthropology at Hebrew University.

Axelrod a follower of Buber? Highly unlikely. Of course, neither are the Republican strategists. So on that score, if a Republican and Democrat stand before a mirror, they look one and the same. They both reflect a desire to use an imperial executive branch to enlighten other cultures by destroying them.

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