Posts Tagged ‘ Politics ’

Word of the Day: Procrustean



Marked by arbitrary ruthlessness and disregard for special or extenuating circumstances.

In Greek myth, Procrustes was a son of Poseidon with a stronghold on Mount Korydallos, on the sacred way between Athens and Eleusis. There, he had an iron bed in which he invited every passer-by to spend the night, and where he set to work on them with his smith’s hammer, to stretch them to fit. In later tellings, if the guest proved too tall, Procrustes would amputate the excess length; nobody ever fit the bed exactly because secretly Procrustes had two beds. Procrustes continued his reign of terror until he was captured by Theseus, travelling to Athens along the sacred way, who “fitted” Procrustes to his own bed.

Procrustean is a useful word to describe many of the “mandatory minimum”, “zero-tolerance” policies of modern-day American institutions. A grade-school that suspends a nine year old for carrying a tiny plastic raygun in violation of its “zero tolerance” policies is an example of “procrustean” policy run amok.


Cheat Sheets

Sarah Palin has been on the national stage for a year and a half now, and she seems no closer to bringing her Aw-shucks political diva act to a close. In fact, she seems more energized than ever.

Like a lot of people, I was hoping that she’d take the drubbing McCain-Palin got in ’08 to heart, and go back to Alaska where the damage she could do to our nation would be decidedly limited. Obviously, we don’t always get what we want. But as the Rolling Stones tell us – sometimes you get what you need.

When Palin got the nod from John McCain in 2008 she was clearly unqualified to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency. She had virtually no significant political experience (not that Obama had a hugely long resume in that regard either..) – but most troubling, she very clearly lacked the intellectual chops to take on almost any national office.

Holding an office like Governor would have given Palin, at a minimum, two years to “hit the books” on issues of national and international importance. To finally craft, and master, a worldview that she could present to potential voters in the run up to the 2012 elections. She could use the time to choose and build a team of experts to manage her campaign strategy and message.  Americans are not particularly demanding of their Presidential candidates intellects. Adlai Stevenson, probably for all time, gave “the smart guy” a whiff of political nerdiness. But with that said, Palin’s performance during the campaign was so head-slappingly awful that one had to be either delusional or truly moronic to think that she’d make a good President.

Palin didn’t do that. She reminds me a lot of the worst sort of clients management consultants deal with: those who are so bad, they just don’t realize how badly they need help. So instead of keeping quiet, she has kept herself in the news: A badly reviewed ghostwritten book. A puzzling “quitting” of the Governors office. A self-defeating public fight with the father of her grandchild. A gig on Fox News. And a paid speech at the Tea Party convention.

This endless barrage of quests for attention ought to tell us something about Sarah Palin: She’s desperate for attention. Most probably because, at heart, she lacks self-confidence. She knows, in her heart, that she isn’t as smart as Obama. She ought to know she isn’t as smart as McCain, Romney, Pawlenty, or just about any other national politician.

The Tea Party speech probably won’t be the final nail in Palin’s political coffin. But, factually dubious talking points aside, the biggest tip-off to her eventual doom has to be the handwritten crib notes on her palm. They tell me that whoever is making decisions for Sarah Palin, Inc. doesn’t have a clue. If Palin had referred to index cards for her notes – that would have looked, if not necessarily “Presidential.”

Instead, she came across looking like exactly what she is: the failing student who hasn’t done her homework.

Eating their own dogfood. Believing their own bullshit..

Jon Stewart appeared on the Bill O’Reilly show last night.

O’Reilly is, of all the Fox news opinionators, probably the least offensive. Which isn’t saying much. But the thing that is most interesting about this interview is the fact that O’Reilly obviously believes that Fox News really is “fair and balanced.”

I would struggle to believe that any objective analysis of Fox News would support this conclusion. But it is quite instructive to me: the people at Fox literally believe their own bullshit.

And that is part of the entire narrative when it comes to the right-wing noise machine. They literally believe the lies they been telling themselves (and the rest of the fools that listen to them) for so long. It goes a long way to explain the complete breakdown in journalistic standards with these organizations. They literally would believe anything negative about President Obama, any Democratic politician, or any “liberal” or “progressive” organization. Which is why the right-wing blogosphere jumped all over the O’Keefe/ACORN story. And why they are so slow to recognize the criminality of O’Keefe’s attempt to infiltrate Lousiana Sen. Landrieu’s office.

The first criteria for any journalistic organization or reporter is objectivity. Just the facts, ma’am.

Its quite illuminating to see that the originator of the “no-spin zone” – is actually the biggest “spinner” of them all. Fair and balanced is unfair and slanted. War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and truth is Lies. Can these really be far behind?

The Gloomy Science gets even Gloomier Pt.1

The White House released yesterday it first full year budget proposal. The news is so bad, I wonder if it is not an de facto suicide note.

The Budget Proposal projects spending of about $3.8 trillion, while raising $2.2 trillion – a deficit of $1.6 trillion. The “good” news is that the budget is likely fairly honest, and specifically in some areas a vast improvement in what went before. The bad news is the budget document projects huge deficits stretching out pretty much forever, dipping somewhat in the late second decade, before mushrooming again in 2020.  The potentially catastrophic news, if that is possible, is that the American electorate is likely, in the months and years ahead, to respond to this by electing politicians who will only make the situation even more dire.

Before we come to grips with the enormity of the problem, it may be beneficial to take a look at the modern economic history of the United States, to refresh our understanding of how we got into this mess. I’ll deal with that in part II.