News from Neptune

Co-opting the Antiwar Movement

Perhaps it betrays my essentially reformist rather than revolutionary disposition to think that there is something wrong with what Eliot has Abp. Becket say in Murder in the Cathedral

The last temptation is the greatest treason:
To do the right deed for the wrong reason.

However much that may be a guide for oneself, Christians at least (and Eliot thought of himself as one) are cautioned against judging the motives of others. We’re reduced to trying to descry the good action and leaving alone the heart’s reasons that the reason does not know (in others at least).

But there can be as we might say operational differences in opposing the war (a) because it’s wrong, or (b) because it’s done wrong.

They’re obvious as soon as an appropriate remedy is proposed: the alternative is (a) stop doing it, or (b) do it better.

It may be that this distinction — indeed antithesis — has been exploited to neutralize the anti-war movement in the five years since the largest anti-war demonstrations in human history. In any case, that movement does seem to have been successfully neutralized, and it wasn’t an accident.

The Presidential Election Did Not Take Place

“The people can vote for whoever they want.
I control the nominations.”
–Boss Tweed of Tammany Hall, ca. 1870

The presidential election campaign was primarily a distraction.  There were serious issues presumably at stake, notably the war and the economy, and the campaign not only ignored them but purposely obscured them.

The reason’s not far to seek.  As the late Australian social scientist Alex Carey wrote, “The 20th century was characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.”  A trillion dollars spent every year on marketing in the US — where political candidates are sold like cars or coffee — has some effect.

A Better Bailout Plan

[A DC lawyer of my acquaintance sends the best analysis of the bailout I’ve seen, and a counter-proposal.]

Taxpayers receive preferred stock and collateral from a bank borrowing from the Taxpayers, both in the full amount of the loan sought by the bank.  In other words, stock plus collateral in double the amount of the loan. Taxpayers profit from a bailout before anyone else does.

Thanks to Warren Buffett and Goldman Sachs for the heads-up by disclosing the terms of their deal, which should be the low water mark for any Taxpayer bailout.  A higher water mark would be the terms suggested above, which are not uncommon in private equity deals and chapter 11 bailouts.

News notes from the first week of September

[1. US WAR POLICY] Perhaps the most ominous story of the week is that of the attack by American ground troops inside Pakistan.  US soldiers were landed from helicopters and killed as usual women and children — but inside Pakistan.  The Pakistani military was outraged. Within Bush’s war council Defense Secretary Gates has been advocating for months a secret plan for a much broader campaign by Special Operations forces inside Pakistan, and a new step seems to have been taken that way on Wednesday. [NYT 9/3]

Palin channels Obama

In regard to the much-ballyhooed Palin interview with Charlie Gibson,  I think it’s important to try to separate the form (altho’ that’s politically important, too) from the content.  Look at what Palin actually  said about foreign policy and war, and tell me if you can find any substantive difference with Obama’s positions.  I can’t.