Getting Away From It All

Here’s a hope that everyone enjoys the weekend. That you, Dear Reader, can tune out the media led fixation on the ankle biters downtown.

It’s an unholy brew. A rootless media seeks any form of self-generating narrative for lazy producing, story selection, Nielsens and click throughs. And the Movement? It follows centuries of Counter Enlightenment impulsive tradition using public theater to create false narratives and communal identity. All fodder for the 15 minute news cycle and shallow tweets.

We chose to visit Annapolis to start off the weekend. Sure, it’s long been a tourist trap. And like nearby D.C. it’s self-satisfied, bloated and keenly aware of its wealth. Still, it’s not far up Route 50. The Severn River retains echoes of boating memories many decades ago. Plus, traffic to the overcrowded (and even more overbuilt) Delaware beaches too daunting. One notable thing – young men in their twenties lounging around the Naval Academy entrance wearing the old ‘Blackwater’ paw t-shirts and Oakleys. Without irony, too.

Where were we? Oh right. The high school play downtown.

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Barack Obama vs. The World

‘They’ used to say (incorrectly) the Wehrmacht never did winter offensives. ‘They’ now could say (correctly) Democrats can’t do offensives at all.

Facebook burps and random tweets send allegedly professional politicians and paid talking heads into hissy fits. Rightists play Democrats and much of their AgitProp infrastructure like a piano. Badly, of course.

Democrats seemingly learned nothing from 2001-2008. None of them, individually, their AgitProp allies or their (moribund) institutions demonstrate any understanding of ideological politics in today’s disassociated society of ambient social connections. It’s doubtful they will learn in time to forestall Revanchism. Such congenital failure suffocates aspirations and hopes of all non-Rightists. In retrospect 2008 was indeed a fluke, made possible by economic catastrophe, a failed presidency and timely story rather than anything inherently ‘Democratic’.

A feckless Administration addicted to expediency of course undermines meme cohesion and focus. Still, it’s no excuse for others purporting to be our Thought Leaders and Meme Givers to act like it’s still 2005 and the Movement controls all branches of government. Yet that’s exactly what they do every day, hyperventilating over a random Facebook burp or tweet airball. One insignificant flick and an entire news cycle is given to the Rightists on their terms on their issues. Over time, the cumulative impact is that what began as some trivial Rightist gesture dictates framing of our simulacra of consensus reality. The hysterical overreactions cascade like a signal chain in an amplifier until what emerges is nothing but distortion.

Democrats and their AgitProp allies truly don’t understand that the Movement could never have coalesced and reformed without their essential – and hapless – complicity.

Of course the economy is in ruins. A failed war is inescapable. We’re not unmindful of the political terrain. Faith in government competence and legitimacy at historic lows. Not all Democratic AgitProp allies are addicted to victimhood. Some focus on identifying new candidates and new funding for the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. Until their time, we are presented a false choice. In the end, whether on the more gentle accomodationist curve of this current Democratic clique or with the spasmodic inchoate raging of the Rightists, we eventually arrive in essentially the same place. One just offers the scenic route.

Not A Bet We’d Make

Has Obama indeed reinvented the art and science of winning elections, or will 2008 turn out to have been a unique moment that suited the particular gifts of one politician? The Democrats are about to lay down $50 million to find out.

It may take a tough man to make a tender chicken as the old tv commercials advised. It takes real cajones (or desperation) for Democrats to drop $50 million this Fall on the Twilight vampire generation hoping to save their congressional hides. That’s the sum Democrats will spend trying to turn out 2008 first time voters and the youth demo responsible in part for ‘Brand Obama’.

Seems a misfire. To us, America electorally embraced Obama but also rejected Bushism. Either way, never in 2008 did we see people clamoring for more of that DNC mojo. How many signs did you see demanding “UNLEASH HARRY REID”? Yeah, same here. It’s a huge risk not only because Obama’s not on the ballot. His coat tails are truncated by circumstance and his decisions as made clear in several elections already. Gallup notes Obama’s personal approval is trending up yet remains below 50%.

Back over at DailyKos, there is bewilderment at some Movement direct ‘mail’ fund-raising. For a sophisticated site it’s surprising they don’t get direct ‘mail’ is irrelevant to actual political positions let alone actual governance. It’s all designed for two things only: (a) to get noticed; and (b) acted upon. Back in the day (before Interwebs, FaceSpace and ‘tweets’) when we did a conservative (sometimes Republican) direct *mail* piece, if 1.5-2% responded, the mailing was a success. Out of maybe tens of thousands. It’s the same now but made harder because people are in IMs, Farmville, reading email, watching video and panicking that the co-worker sexted again after everyone agreed to call it off.

To cut through direct ‘mail’ must impact like emotional dynamite and galvanize someone to write a cheque or better yet, click ‘donate now’. Sound policy, rational dialogue and reason are *right out*. The stuff DailyKos complains about is exactly what a group seeking money (or later get-out-the-vote) needs to do: piss people off in the most lurid ways imaginable.

When we used to mail actual letters (yes in the Dark Times, before Netscape, Whitesnake, Human League or skinny ties) a successful direct mail artist knew the key: it’s all in the P.S. People – if they bother to even read the thing – will skip to the end almost immediately. A true artist concocts a ‘closing’ P.S. of staccato raging threat, palpable fear and tantalizing hope. A good close and P.S. could make or break successful yields.

Which brings us back to the $50 million. This crude stuff works with both parties’ bases. Like Mad Libs, one could do a noun and verb switch between each other’s outreach and likely get fairly harmonious results. Substance aside and all that. Sure would be nice if all of us here could get a chunk of that change. Still, hard to see a soft ‘Brand Obama’ like operation (without Obama on the ballot, no less) that mobilizes young and first time voters in 2008 pulling Democratic levers in November.

Bureaucratically, it may make sense in as a CYA post-election prophylactic. When the finger pointing begins, one can go on MSNBC and say ‘Hey, look we did everything we could to keep the majorities (except govern – ed). We even took ads out on That’s being aggressive.” We can also see it going the other way. One wonders. An extra $50 million could help get committed but dispirited Democrats and opponents of Movement Revanchism to hold their nose and vote for this crowd again. As the least worst alternative.

Unless people see something we missed (not for the first time).

To The Left: Shut Up And Take It With A Smile

How tiresome so see the same coterie of wet behind the ears Leftist bloggers-activists-shills-pundits parade their broken hearts on Hardball, Shuster, Rachel Maddow, Cooper, etc., etc. Oh, to have a crush cruelly stomped on so soon. ‘He’s just not the same guy who sat next to us in art class !” Can you feel their pain?

Naturally, these wounded souls carefully parse their words with carve outs, equivocations with — well — Clintonian precision. Who can blame them? They may be crying on the inside. But hey, they finally made it to the green room! And who knew that in all those years of near libeling Joe Klein he actually tells killer George Stephanopoulos jokes? Joe’s not so bad, really. And did you hear what he said about Meacham? Got to stay in the rolodex now!

But still. The sorrow on camera is all in the eyes. Please pass the chocolates.

Don’t get us wrong, Dear Reader. We, too, are underwhelmed at the Boy King’s cavalcade of mediocre establishment weenies. The plus side? They aren’t simply Republican puppets dangling on the Movement’s strings chasing a malevolent agenda. For us, that’s change we can embrace — with thanks.

But for those gnashing teeth and pulling hair at the FlamingParakeetPuddles.coms of the universe (who somehow think 3 or 4 years of blogging make them persons of *substance* — and know the Stiftung not infrequently agrees with those blogging at these places), et al. face the facts: you were and remain still in many ways neophytes and Not Ready For Primetime Against The Fallen Movement (MSNBCNN greenrooms aside). Or even primetime against permanent government inertia. Much less dare we say it Chicago pros?

A crush is precisely that: an immature infatuation. In the obscene rush to deify a two year U.S. Senator with scant achievement other than let’s call it for what it is — ambition — they shoveled all sorts of absurdities onto the political compost heap; he is Lincoln; no, wait, he is Kennedy without the pro-Nazi father thing; but with the economy, he’s FDR except he’s trying to quit smoking (would someone just tell Jonathan Alter to STFU about his book?).

The Progressives and Left in general do not know how to organize still. Tossing out the Warlord in these circumstances is not a heroic trial of fire. What they did not grok and are only belatedly realizing is that they were used. They gave adoration. They gave of themselves. They gave money and hope. All of which means squat November 5th.

They did not lock the Boy King in. This is political 101 that Morton Blackwell used to teach college cadres. Consider Grover, for example. Those tax pledges may seem so many pieces of ink jet piffle to the Left, but they assume powerful tectonic political *fact*. One could go on. What precisely did the Left and Progressives do to concretize an agenda and wedge the Boy King? Nada. How . . . frappuccino.

Amusingly, Pat Buchanan remains still far more interesting than the whiny Left. (Please God spare us from four years of David Corn or Peter Beinart as the Go To guys for MSNBCNN; can’t producers get with the whole change thing and expand their rolodexes? To that extent we do welcome the newly ‘discovered’ blogger-activist voices). As you probably know, Pat advances the theory that the milquetoasts, lobbyists and right of center apparatchiks around the Boy King are mere smokescreen. They, in Pat’s view, provide the ‘establishmentarian’ facade enabling the Boy King behind the scenes to channel Saul Alinsky.

Odd how Pat is probably the Left and Progressives’ best hope right now albeit for different agenda purposes. We all revel in the Movement’s overthrow and disarray. But one just has a desire to reach through the screen (computer and HiDef TV) and smack the Left and Progressives silly. Grow up. You climbed in the sandbox to play for the highest stakes. It’s a little late to whine you forgot to bring toys.

A Beautiful, Fleeting Moment

It would take a heart of stone not to be moved last night as the election results came in — regardless of preferred candidate. Real world spontaneous horn honking, the simple jump for joy on sidewalks, the beaming smiles in the Imperial City gave concrete manifestation to the synthetic, 1080P HiDef imagery that beamed out of Grant Park around the world.

Kyle Poole, 48, a financier, said he brought a flag because he felt “honored and proud.”

“I was once a Republican,” he said. “Then George Bush came to the White House and now I’m thrilled to be here with the flag.”

Inquire and Tblisi offer a realistic view of world post-celebration hang over. We share their caution. Domestically, Obama inherits almost incomprehensible wreckage, the financial catastrophe being merely the first among many examples. A tour de horizon overseas is perhaps even more sobering.

Obama would be wise to take a page from other self-made pop culture media constructs such as Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, Madonna (or even Nixon’s 1968 ‘the New Nixon’). He himself should ‘auto destruct’/deflate his saintly aura. His image served electoral politics well. As he transitions to granular government, we recommend he actively create himself a new post election ‘Obama’ personna and product. He himself rather than the media should rollout his own new guise. For we do believe an Obama Administration will, like the Warlords’, be one of Permanent Campaign.

As comments here noted in the earlier post, his speech at Grant Park did not soar in historical terms. Yet he did introduce elements of a new post larval being. Lingering euphoria through January 2009 aside, covertly pro-Obama Republicans and non-fringe Left/progressives would accept domestically competent management as palatable come down.

Pat Buchanan this morning offered his belief that the ‘Movement’ is in historic eclipse. He went so far as to claim the Nation is moving Center/Left. We are less sanguine for a long list of reasons (Father Meacham aside). The Movement now is no longer just an electoral entity — it suffuses the Executive and Judiciary from GS7s all the way up.

There are faint glimmers of hope that Obama is considering knife fighters who are capable of conducting critically necessary reviews and purges of the thoroughly infected government apparat. We’ve all discussed this together over the last year Dear Reader. Our sense remains, however, that Obama will in the end decline to pursue matters to their logical and political conclusion. Accommodation and ‘change’ may blur together sooner than many expect or hope.


October is the cruelest month of any election year, but by then the pain is so great that even the strong are like jelly and time has lost all meaning for anybody still involved in a political campaign. By that time, even candidates running unopposed have abandoned all of hope of victory. They live only for the day when they can seek vengeance on treacherous bastards who said they were loyal friends and swore they were in it to win it.

October in the politics business is like drowning in scum or trying to hang on through the final hour of a bastinado punishment. . . . The flesh is dying and the heart is full of hate: the winners are subpoenaed by divorce lawyers and the losers hole up in cheap hotel rooms on the outskirts of town with a briefcase full of hypodermic needles and certain knowledge that the next time their names get in the newspapers will be when they are found dead and naked in a puddle of blood in the trunk of some stolen car in an abandoned parking lot.

Others are not so lucky and are doomed, like Harold Stassen, to wallow for the rest of their lives in the backwaters of local politics, cheap crooks, and relentless humiliating failures. By the time Halloween rolls around, most campaigns are bogged down in despair and paralyzed by a frantic mix of greed and desperation that comes with knowing that everything you have done or thought or worked for or believed in for the past two years was wrong and stupid.

There are never enough seats on the last train out of the station . . . .

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, “Songs of the Doomed: More Notes On The Death Of The American Dream/Gonzo Papers Vol. 3”

Waiting For The Man

Im waiting for my man
Got 26 dollars in my hand
Up to lexington 125
Feelin sick and dirty
Huh, Im waiting for my man

About two weeks ago, we got an email from a long time Republican friend. He successfully ran a Republican presidential campaign. In the email, he simply asked the Stiftung when we thought McCain would be unleashing Army Detachment Steiner. We laughed for all the multi-dimensional reasons.

He’s right, of course. And so is another VRWC Wall Street friend emailing from a late nite Dial Town Car today. He wonders when Palin will send McCain the telex asking if she should take over under the rites of succession given McCain’s untenable position. (Kristol’s betrayal an essential mis en scene backdrop).

Which brings us to Jesse Jackson’s infelicitous predictions about Israel and the Israeli lobby in a Boy King regime.

The most important change would occur in the Middle East, where “decades of putting Israel’s interests first” would end. Jackson believes that, although “Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades” remain strong, they’ll lose a great deal of their clout when Barack Obama enters the White House.

Those sentiments, observations and hopes are broadly shared by large percentages of the ‘Foreign Policy ‘Establishment’ [sic] ‘, what’s left of the non-radicalized Republican foreign policy apparat, and the Usual Worthies. The prospect of snapping the Neocons’ spine and banishing them to think tank intensive care rallies people of otherwise divergent philosophies – libertarians, Left, traditional conservatives and the vacant trendies.

The Boy King is wise and also correct to emphasize that support for Israel is unwavering. Implicitly he makes that case that Neocon radicalism is Something Else. Segregating those two political memes is essential for a post-Warlord recovery. Jackson because of ‘Hymie Town’ and other colorful incidents blurs everything. All Democrat duct tape is on Biden?

It’s not a snarky observation. Neocons, like ticks, abandon a used host for a more healthy ride. They abandoned Democrats for Reagan. Kristol et al. in 2004 threatened the same stunt on the Warlord. You may recall his petulent memo (it was printed over at STSOZ 1.0?). Kristol threatened to take the Neocon ‘base’ (no snickering, please) to the Democrats and become ‘Neo-Liberals’ because the Warlord showed insufficient ‘resolve’.

You might laugh thinking about 2009. Who would ever be so dumb as to allow their memes to infiltrate a Boy King regime? Sadly, the answer is longer than the phone book. In fact, most of the so-called ‘Oppositionist’ foreign policy liberals are actually more in agreement even now with Neocon fundamental memes and world views (and most, like Peter Beinart, are too dim to know).

Unfortunately, the Boy King is a blank slate and too inexperienced to be classified in an intellectual philosophy. Biden is an intellectual (and verbal) bloviator. The Democratic foreign policy sages in the Boy King’s orbit may be multilateralists, may be more comfortable with (what’s left of our) soft power, may be in the stale Nye-ism ‘owls’. Yet they are in the main definitely not Realists. They view and intend to deploy American power on emotional, abstract ‘values’ and ‘truths’ without the hard calculus of geopolitical realities.

The election by itself is only a small step in breaking the Neocon contagion. Like any good medical treatment, the antibiotics must be administered for the full course. Otherwise the infection can mutate and come back another way.

Just remember. We talked about it here. Give it till 2010. ‘Neo-Liberals’.

Change: Who Whom?

It’s a frightening thing to contemplate without illusion; the U.S. will indeed see change. Yet many cling to the pretense that we are still masters of the change.

Poll swings aside here or there, this is what we get:

Mr Obama released a two-minute advert – four times the length of most campaign commercials – in which he set out his plans to deal with the financial crisis. He pledged to “give a $1,000 tax break to the middle class… end the ‘anything goes’ culture on Wall Street with real regulation… free [America] from our dependence on Mid-East oil in 10 years… crack down on lobbyists… and… bring a responsible end to this war in Iraq so we stop spending billions each month rebuilding their country when we should be rebuilding ours”.

Mr McCain, in his campaign ad, vowed to “reform Wall Street and fix Washington”, stressing that he had “taken on tougher guys than this before”.

That’s it. Taking on tough guys. Wiring Bud Fox to trap Gordon Gecko. Or the Boy King’s ‘Come Home, America’ — except he and those around him such as Zbig et al. know that an Iraq wind down will still take years and financial commitments will remain regardless. Like the ephemeral and ultimately worthless derivatives and leveraged debt, so to our ‘leaders’.

Paulson and Bernanke at least understand the interlocking systemic dynamics while attempting even a controlled crash landing of an orderly market clearing solution. As we all know, essentially the Fed and Treasury are seizing direct control of the ‘commanding heights’ of the U.S. money economy. Still, one should not panic. Nancy Pelosi is sending Barney Frank on a ‘fact finding mission’.

What we are witnessing may be the greatest destruction of financial wealth that the world has ever seen — paper losses measured in the trillions of dollars. Corporate wealth. Oil wealth. Real estate wealth. Bank wealth. Private equity wealth. Hedge fund wealth. Pension wealth. It’s a painful reminder that, when you strip away all the complexity and trappings from the magnificent new global infrastructure, finance is still a confidence game — and once the confidence goes, there’s no telling when the selling will stop.

But more than psychology is involved here. What is really going on, at the most fundamental level, is that the United States is in the process of being forced by its foreign creditors to begin living within its means.

That last sentence is the crux. The Warlord’s reign demonstrated the thin veneer of liberal democracy. We all know the Movement’s radicalism. What remains untapped is the radical energy and potential of the politically disinterested ‘consumer class’. Today fear and unease over poorly understood, complex and technical financial instruments impose a sense of shock and dismay. Empty bromides from both candidates in an odd way help maintain the quiescence. That likely will soon give way to deep, unfocused anger and resentment.

When does ‘change’ segue into something more? When does it cross the line into a more profound political morphology? This door we believe now is at least unlocked. Still shut. What it will take to open it and when is more unknown than the September market trajectory.

The American financial model is over. Moreover, we are no longer masters in our own house. When that brutal and unforgiving reality sinks in culturally, politically and personally, then what?