Seeing Ralph Nader’s unrequited letters of self–love, one might be tempted to think that he’s merely a bitter old man. Sadly, this kind of thing goes back a long way:
The Jimmy Carter presidency only saw a heightening of Nader’s schismatic tendencies. “I want access. I want to be able to see [Carter] and talk to him. I expected to be consulted,” he told The New York Times. That Carter filled his administration with former Naderites didn’t help. Less than a year after Carter put former Nader deputy Joan Claybrook in charge of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Nader denounced her, demanding she resign for implementing an air-bag regulation with “an unheard of lead time provision.” In 1980, Nader told Rolling Stone, “In the last year we’ve seen the ‘corporatization’ of Jimmy Carter. Whereas he was impotent and kind of pathetic the first year and a half, he’s now surrendered. … The two-party system, by all criteria, is bankrupt–they have nothing of any significance to offer the voters, so a lot of voters say why should they go and vote for Tweedledum and Tweedledee.” (Liberals today who anguish over Nader’s insistence that no important differences exist between the two parties should note that this belief dates back more than two decades.) In the summer of 1980, Jonathan Alter (now a Newsweek columnist) worked on Nader’s voting guide for the presidential election. Alter came away amazed by Nader’s fury at Carter. “He didn’t seem overly distressed at the idea of Ronald Reagan becoming president,” Alter later told Martin. As Nader addressed a gathering of supporters in 1981, according to The Washington Post, “Reagan isgoing to breed the biggest resurgence in nonpartisan citizen activism in history.”
Not only is Nader’s belief that there’s no meaningful distinction between progressive politics and massaging Ralph Nader’s insatiable ego longstanding, so is his conviction that someone like Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush in the White House wouldn’t be so bad, and anyway surely a speculated rise in ineffectual opposition will more than make up for it. (What Iraq war widow or widower wouldn’t be comforted by the news that Uncle Sams on stilts are up 20%?)
A reader sarcastically invited me to denounce Bernie Sanders for announcing that he might run for president. Why on earth would I? If he runs in the Democratic primaries, great! As for the possibility of a 2000-like spoiler campaign, I see no evidence whatsoever that Sanders is an obscenely self-centered crank with a remarkably callous indifference to the effects of his actions on the most vulnerable members of society, and I don’t denounce things that have a 0% chance of happening.
A couple of weeks ago my father-in-law told me a story about an old art teacher of his. One day in class said teacher was quickly critiquing pieces, one by one. He said something nice about one piece, he said something nice about the next piece. He got to my father’s-in-law piece and said “So what?” In other words, “What about this is special? What about the color/composition/subject matter makes you want to look at this?”While the critique stung, my father-in-law knew there was just nothing about the piece that jumped out, that was special, that demanded you look at it. Many times I have completed a piece and thought “So what?” Sometimes I’ve reevaluated that “so what” and answered myself with “Oh yeah, here’s what.” Happily, I would not say this is a “so what?” about my latest work, though it remains to be seen if it will end up being a favorite of mine.
A Dream to Keep
Here’s the Midrats episode:
Check Out Military Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Midrats
And here’s the NPR: Weekend Edition bit.
I couldn’t resist snapping a picture of this car on my way into this fine establishment to enjoy some brunch with the fam. (License cropped out to protect the idiotic.)
Now I’m wondering whom among the friendly, well-dressed people surrounding me belonged to that creatively-grammatical* sign.
*Cue misguided pedant-wannabes telling me that the misuse of quotation marks and apostrophes is really fine because language is evolving and blah fucking blah utter fucking nonsense.
Jon Geeting speaks smartly about the pointlessness of registering as an independent:
You don’t have to be thrilled about it, but this is the only way your vote counts in these places because the real election is the primary. Unless your state has open primaries where registered independents can vote, you don’t get to vote in the only election that counts. Treat yourself to all the democracy. Pick the party that’s closest to your views and vote in every primary for the least bad person.
Indeed. Registering as an independent is another sign of how we have turned politics into a consumer choice that reflects upon you. By doing so, you might be asserting your very real position that neither party satisfies you, but you are also reducing your own political power for no good reason. In states with open primaries this might not apply, but generally, it makes no sense.
As many of you no doubt are aware, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chair and general idiot Darrell Issa shut of Elijah Cummings’ microphone last week during a session about the idiotic IRS “scandal” of supposedly investigating right-wing money groups. Jarret Ruminski compares Issa’s actions to the antebellum Gag Rule to shut off discussions of slavery in Congress:
Among the most vociferous opponents of the Gag Rule was former president John Quincy Adams, who undermined the rule at every turn by defending abolitionists’ constitutional rights to petition Congress. Adams – who also coined the term “Gag” in reference to the banning of anti-slavery discussion – read petitions at the beginning of congressional sessions before the rules could be adopted, then forced a vote on the right to implement the Gag. Adams also made congressional committees do their jobs and thoroughly examine anti-slavery petitions in order to determine if the language therein qualified as Gag-worthy, thereby forcing discussion on a topic the Gag was supposed to silence entirely.
The efforts of Adams – and thousands of anti-slavery petitioners – brought plenty of heat down on the congressional Slave Power, drawing boatloads of attention to the abolitionist cause. Much to southern Democrats’ dismay, the controversy over the Gag Rule brought extra attention to an issue that was supposed to be gagged, as more anti-slavery petitions bearing tens-of-thousands of signatures poured into Congress.* Indeed, the entire Gag Rule brouhaha reinforced a by-now old rule in American politics: when you try to suppress legitimate grievances in the name of political gain, you run the risk of empowering the very people you want to marginalize.
And thus we come back full-circle to Darrell Issa. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman not only tried to gag Elijah Cummings from speaking, he’s also tried to gag any and all information that might undermine his quest to tar the Obama Administration with scandal after scandal. Through his bone-headed actions, Issa is invoking an ugly authoritarian aspect of the Congressional past. By silencing Cummings, who is, of course, African-American, Issa provided the uncomfortable image of a white speaker silencing a black colleague in a manner that evoked a rule once used by white supremacists to silence discussion about ending black slavery in America. Having endured far-worse attempts to block black political participation, Cummings called out Issa’s shenanigans until the Republican chairman finally apologized.
While I’m pretty skeptical of UAW president Bob King’s love affair with employee-management cooperation as the keystone of his union’s approach, at least one point in his favor is Ford moving the production of two truck lines from Mexico back to Ohio, supposedly because of the good relationship the company has with the union. Of course, I assume that this good relationship means terrible two-tiered contracts. But still, American manufacturing jobs are all too rare these days, so this is good news for the UAW. It’s also a slap in the face to Bob Corker and Tennessee Republicans, or it would be if they weren’t all about ideology and actually cared about jobs.
Might as well also note the death of William Clay Ford, Henry Ford’s last living grandson and the owner of the Detroit Lions, a man who brought the same quality leadership and innovation to running a professional football team as he and his family did to producing fine automobiles in the 1970s and 1980s.
Decimating the American environment in order to challenge Putin by drilling for fossil fuels is now a Republican thing. Lover of freedom and the only progressive candidate in 2016, Rand Paul:
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Sunday that the situation in Ukraine should be an impetus to ramp up oil and gas drilling in the United States and clear the path for exports.
“I would immediately get every obstacle out of the way for our export of oil and gas,” said Paul in an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.” “And I would begin drilling in every possible, conceivable place within our territories in order to have production that we can supply Europe with if it’s interrupted from Ukraine.”
Classic whine from St. Ralph about how nobody loves him and Bernie Sanders isn’t a real progressive. Choice bit:
For example, in the past year I have called you many times at your Washington office.Your staff dutifully takes my messages, forwards them to you and you do not call back. Never.During your famous marathon address on the Senate floor in 2010, I called to congratulate youand suggest that your cogent arguments be reproduced in a small book. Your staff took themessage to you. No return call.
Tomorrow afternoon at 5pm EDT I’ll be chatting with Sal and Eagle One on Midrats about Grounded. The conversations run for about an hour, and both Cdr Salamander and EagleOne are extremely knowledgeable about military and maritime affairs. Highly recommended. Also, tomorrow morning you might be able to catch my interview with Rachel Martin on Weekend Edition, which is supposed to drop at about 815am in most markets.
I’m sure that dumping more chemicals in the air is the answer to the problem of Chinese smog:
Government agencies are to test a new design of aerial drone to see whether it might help tackle the air pollution that often blankets much of the mainland, state media reported.
The vehicle will spray chemicals that freeze pollutants, allowing them to fall to the ground.
The tests would be led by the China Meteorological Administration and carried out later this month at airports and ports, Xinhua said.
The drone has been developed by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China and has a paragliding wing, which allows it to carry three times more weight than the fixed-wing version, making it more efficient and cost-effective.
Premier Li Keqiang said in his speech at the National People’s Congress in Beijing yesterday the government would “declare war” on pollution. It would focus, in part, on reducing PM2.5, the fine particles of pollutants thought to be most harmful to people’s health.
I’m sure that the impact of these chemicals on health have been very carefully tested and that this project will 1) show that technology can solve all our problems, 2) have no unintended consequences because technological interventions in the environment never have unintended consequences and human control of nature has no problems, 3) work.