fragments of an attempted writing.
Everyone knows that Tea Party revolutionaries fear and hate socialism about as much as the Antichrist. Which is funny, because the Tea Party movement’s dirty little secret is that it owes its existence to the grandaddy of all Antichrists: the godless empire of the USSR.

From here.  I especially liked the Ludwig von Mises references.   

not the sort of irish republicans i like....

Those of you who do not regularly follow WI politics may appreciate this spectacle - the speaker of the WI assembly, Jeff Fitzgerald, and the majority leader of the WI senate, Scott Fitzgerald, are brothers, both Republicans.  They are pictured above.  The shorter one is called "Big Fitz" and the taller one is called "Little Fitz."  Jeff (Little Fitz, the younger brother on the left above) appears that dimwitted in all of his photos, but this is to be expected, as he used to be a commodities trader on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, which is a job for people whose parents encouraged them to think that they are much brighter than they actually are.

Their father, Stephen Fitzgerald, pictured above, was recently appointed to run the WI state highway patrol, as an apparent wink, wink, nod, nod ain't it going to be nice to work together present Gov. Walker gave to Big & Little Fitz..

Today, Democrats in the WI Senate have boycotted the vote which would end collective bargaining rights for those unions who opposed the Republican governor in the last election. Because 20 senators of the 33-member house are needed to be present to pass a fiscal bill, 19 Republicans will not be enough to pass the bill without a Democrat present (and most reports have said that only 17 Republicans showed up today).  What have the Fitzgerald brothers decided to do?  Call dad and have him order state highway patrolmen to go get the Democratic Senators and bring them in for a vote.

But as it turns out all 14 Democratic state senators are reported to be out of state.

The scuttlebutt is that the U.S. Marshals will be called next.  Perhaps the Fitzgeralds have a cousin in federal law enforcement.  


On the one hand:

Walker has introduced a bill that would strip public employees across the board — from teachers to snowplow drivers — of their right to collectively bargain for sick leave, vacation, even the hours they work. But absolutely nothing would change for local police, fire departments and the State Patrol.
The bill smacks of political favoritism for public safety unions that supported Walker's election bid last year and sets up new haves and have-nots in Wisconsin government, said Paul Secunda, a Marquette University professor who specializes in labor law.
- from here.
It seems WI has traded one megalomaniac governor (justifiably hated Democrat Jim Doyle) for another.
While on the subject of WI political darknesses one might also mention U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, the tea-partier who beat Feingold.  From Wiki:
Johnson opposed a Wisconsin bill that would have made it easier for child sex abuse victims to sue their abusers. The bill would have eliminated the time limit for future victims to bring a lawsuit, and would have opened a three year window to sue for past victims whose time limit had already expired.[1][2] Johnson testified before the Wisconsin Senate in January 2010 on the financial aspects of the bill, and questioned whether it would be just for employers of perpetrators to be severely financially damaged or destroyed by such lawsuits.[1] He added that the bill, if enacted, might have the undesirable effect of reducing the reporting of these crimes and increasing the number of child victims.[1][2] At the time of his testimony he was on the Finance Council of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay and his argument supported the position of the Catholic Church.[1][2]
Aside from protecting pedophile priests and the institutions that sheltered them, Johnson is also known for having donated $10k to Walker's campaign and paying the employees of his family business so little that most of them qualify for Badgercare.
One might also mention WI U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, who wants to raise taxes on the bottom 95% of the U.S. population, but we can leave him to Paul Krugman.

On the other hand:

I am reminded of a point I heard Žižek make in an interview (it was also on Democracy Now as I recall).  Žižek noted that real Leftists should not see all of the demonstrations taking place throughout Europe as a rise in class consciousness.    He pointed out that from Greece to Great Britain, most of the people doing the protesting were lower middle class folks (or the student children of middle class folks), many of them civil servants, who were fighting to protect their middle class interests.  He then went on the mention several "typical" examples of low paid workers in Europe, particularly immigrants and the displaced (such as Eastern Europeans going to Ireland and Spain, etc.), and he noted that they were not in the streets.  

I could not help but think of this when watching the above interview with the WI school "teacher" (why on earth a third grade gym class needs to be taught by someone with a masters degree is beyond me) whose family of four will go from 100k to 90k if Walker's dirty work goes through.  

Sure, in principle, strong public unions make more space for strong unions in the private sector.  And yes, singling out the police and firefighters unions for exemptions is a classic example of turning labor against itself.  But there is a much bigger unspoken "division" of labor also going on here.  

Most of the working class people I know, were they to watch that clip with the kindergarten gym teacher who makes 50k a year complaining about having to pay for things the working class folks I know already have to pay for (health care, pension), are really not going to sympathize with him much.  They are going to think he has a cush job which he got with some cush degrees and it's about time he paid a little bit more for health and retirement as they have to pay a lot more for health insurance and get little in the way of matching funds if they bother to invest in that ridiculous company 401k fund someone with an aspartame addicted smile comes around once a year to tell them about - you know - the song and dance about how they are going to be able to retire in comfort if they put 15% of their 9 bucks an hour into the plan.  

Grant you, this is the South, which is decidedly anti-union in ethos, but even among private sector non-union working class friends in WI and MN I have seen something of this sentiment (and most working class people in MN and WI are now non-union, private sector workers), albeit less pronounced.  

Listening to this bit on NPR I think that as with Žižek's European Left, American liberalism, despite residual claims to represent the interests of "the worker," for the most part really only functions as a movement acting in the interests of mostly urban middle class folks in blue states.  As we all know, it lost Kansas and it will not be getting it back anytime soon.  Hedges notes that American liberalism purged itself of its radicals (something it did before, or at least no later than the 60s - notwithstanding the Right's successful attempts at portraying liberalism as still having radical connections by calling Obama a socialist or pointing to his sometime associations with Bill Ayers -- Obama is clearly committed to capitalism and Bill Ayers hasn't been a radical for decades).  I think more damning than loosing Kansas or radicals (the associations between the Democratic Party and actual radicals have always been, at "best," loose) is that American liberalism has lost any strong connection to what Hedges calls the permanent underclass.  Sure, the folks from Memphis ghettos who do vote will vote for a Democrat 19 out of 20 times, but most of them don't vote most of the time, and the ones that do lack a coordinated and coherent sense of class motivated political action - such as we saw with populist political movements in the late 19th century, the labor movements in the early 20th century, and important segments of the civil rights movement in the mid 20th century.

Thus liberalism has no rank and file to put on the streets, well, at least no rank and file that is either large in size or for whom something akin to the "traditional" motivations for mass mobilization are relevant.  When American liberalism does go to the streets (or in this case, the WI state capital building in Madison), instead of having a bunch of people show up in WalMart vests, CNA scrubs, and fast food uniforms demanding living wages and health care and paid holidays, it instead offers a bunch of folks wearing L.L. Bean (or, I suppose Land's End in WI) who are pissed that the state is going to cut their household from 100 to 90k a year by making them pay $200 a month for health and 12% of their pension.  That's not exactly a devastating narrative (there will no doubt be a small minority of token real working class people in Madison as there always is at these things, and some of them will be up front for "narrative" purposes, but you get my point).   

My mother-in-law is an employee of the state of WI.  She makes a few dollars less an hour than she would with her credentials and experience in the private sector (and she would have little problem moving to the private sector), which amounts to a significant percentage difference in potential pay, a lack which she believes the state benefits make up for.   Depending on what happens to those benefits, she may stay, she may go.  But she had an interesting observation about the folks at the facility she works with.  She noted that the cooks and the lower end techs and the cleaning ladies who make barely more than minimum wage (perhaps half of the people who work at her facility) will also have to pay $200 a month for insurance if Walker gets his way, which will hurt them a whole lot more than it does the teacher interviewed on Democracy Now.  I'm willing to bet that very, very few of the cooks at my mother-in-law's facility will make it to any of the protests .   Many people think of contemporary political protest in America as imaged by the children of accountants who parade hipster chic alternative fashions to protest WTO meetings, but I think that may be the exception to the rule.  From the recent One Nation march in DC to this week's activities in Madison, protesting in America these days is pretty much for people who wear clothes from Land's End, and not clothes from WalMart.  Or if they do wear clothes from WalMart, that is usually of choice and not necessity.  Protesting is largely the affair of middle class folks, and what remains of the labor aristocracy.  Perhaps that is why liberalism in America is dead.  

But then again, the liberal political project has always rested on the notion that they could have their capitalist cake and eat their social consciousness too.   Not the best horse to bet on.

I saw on facebook a post of nothing but the above symbol.  The following was one of the comments made by a Greek fellow:

Actually its the symbol of the Socialist International. Just a a few days ago Ben-Ali of Tunisia and Mubarak of Egypt and their respective "parties" (q.v. "gangs") were full-time members. Its president is George A. Papandreou, no other than the prime minister of Greece and the leader of the PASOK gang, who was elected on his promise of helping out the poor, and duly proceeded to bring the country under IMF control, reduced public sector salaries by 15%, is currently selling out not only all public services but 50% of all government real-estate to corporations and the banksters, increased transportation fares by 40% and is implementing a new law that gives a 3-month prison sentence to anyone caught riding a bus without a valid ticket, in order to suppress the "Can't Pay, Won't Pay" movement ( Recently a girl has been arrested on terrorist charges based on evidence of "reading and possesing anarchist books, posters and visiting anarchist websites", human trafficking charges have been made on people helping 300 immigrant hunger strikers (, the town of Keratea is literally under siege and arbitrary arrest by the riot police (the notorious M.A.T.) with teargas being thrown in their homes for reacting against the installation a garbage dump on an archaeological site. Just a few examples of SI and the socialdemocrats behaviour when in government...
Perhaps a revolution will come to Egypt in time, but so far all that has happened is that power has been transferred from Mubarak to Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi, a long-standing Mubarak loyalist who is a strident opponent of political change, has consistently resisted social reforms and is derided in Wikileaks cables as a “poodle” to Mubarak. (1) Mubarakism hasn’t ended. Mubarak loyalists and Egypt’s military and business establishment remain firmly in charge. (2)
Firmly in charge behind Egypt’s new military rulers is the United States. The Egyptian military is largely an extension of the Pentagon. The Pentagon provides much of its funding and equipment and trains its top officer corps. For the last 30 years, Washington has injected $35 billion in military aid into Egypt, allowed the country to build 1,000 US M1A1 Abrams tanks on its soil, trained Egypt’s officers at US defense colleges, and carried out major military operations from Egyptian bases. (3)
- from here.

Two photos from the Guardian - The headquarters of the NPD party up in flames, and made in the USA shotgun shell casings picked up after the police fired on protesters in Cairo.
My wife told me that she thought G.R. was taking longer than usual to fall asleep.

As I walked down the hall, her soft crying stopped as she listened to see if I would come in the room.

When I opened the door, in the dark I heard her two year old voice, plaintive, daddy sweep wit me.

I laid down on the futon mattress she sleeps on.  Only a few inches off the ground on a pine frame my brother-in-law built.  Georgia wrapped her body around my left arm.  This reminded me of her slippery body falling onto my left arm when I caught her on the night she was born on our living room floor.

The girls in the next room whispered themselves to sleep.  The dog barked down the street.  Then the bass of the hip hop low rider pick-up that drives by this time each night.  And breaths, hers and mine.  My lungs have the injury of those years of non-filter cigs on top of the insult of bad lung genes.  Her lungs snap little breaths in and out with ease.

If we live to age 75, we take 630,720,000 breaths in our lifetime, give or take.  I can't fathom a half a billion breaths.  But I can think of the rise and fall of her thorax with her chest on my arm.  There is a little urgency to those rises and falls until she gives into sleep

Observers compared it to the toppling of Russian domains in 1989, but there are important differences. Crucially, no Mikhail Gorbachev exists among the great powers that support the Arab dictators. Rather, Washington and its allies keep to the well-established principle that democracy is acceptable only insofar as it conforms to strategic and economic objectives: fine in enemy territory (up to a point), but not in our backyard, please, unless properly tamed.
One 1989 comparison has some validity: Romania, where Washington maintained its support for Nicolae Ceausescu, the most vicious of the east European dictators, until the allegiance became untenable. Then Washington hailed his overthrow while the past was erased. That is a standard pattern: Ferdinand Marcos, Jean-Claude Duvalier, Chun Doo-hwan, Suharto and many other useful gangsters. It may be under way in the case of Hosni Mubarak, along with routine efforts to try to ensure a successor regime will not veer far from the approved path. The current hope appears to be Mubarak loyalist General Omar Suleiman, just named Egypt's vice-president. Suleiman, the longtime head of the intelligence services, is despised by the rebelling public almost as much as the dictator himself.
A common refrain among pundits is that fear of radical Islam requires (reluctant) opposition to democracy on pragmatic grounds. While not without some merit, the formulation is misleading. The general threat has always been independence. The US and its allies have regularly supported radical Islamists, sometimes to prevent the threat of secular nationalism.
- Chomsky, from here.

At clinical recently we had a fetal demise - late third trimester.  

Some of the older nurses were sitting at one of the stations and I got a cup of coffee and listened for a while as they told stories of past dead babies.

The oldest nurse there told the story of a fetal demise that occurred a long time back.  Young, poor girl from Memphis, there without any family or friends with her.  Baby died at around 30 weeks.  The nurse and mother cried, the mother held her dead baby, and later went home.  The dead baby boy was put in the morgue.

Two days later the nurse gets a call from administration saying that the girl was on her way over to the hospital.  She wanted to dress the little boy up in his funeral clothes and take pictures of him.  Of course it was a terribly busy day.   The nurse thought, "what the hell I am going to do?"  The baby had been in a bucket of ice for two days.

So she goes down to the morgue and tries running warm water over the dead baby for a while.  Still the joints were stiff as could be.

The mother arrives.  She has a shoe box.  When she opened it, the nurse said "I had to sit down; I didn't know whether to laugh hysterically or burst out in tears!"

Inside the box was a suit, a doll's suit, like a Ken doll would wear - a sequenced black suit with a white very ruffled shirt and black trousers, even little shiny black and white dress shoes.  The nurse thought that there was no way they would ever get the clothes on the dead baby, and she caught herself shaking her head, but then she looked at the mother, composed herself, paused, and said, "honey, if you want to dress your baby in these clothes then we will do everything we can to try to make that happen."

They were able to get the pants on with less trouble than the nurse thought it would be, though they had to cut several inches in length from the pant legs for them to fit.  When it came to the shirt, the cold joints of the baby would not move easily.  The nurse was trying her best to get the shirt on without breaking the baby's tiny body.  At the sight of this struggle, the mother placed her hand on the nurse's shoulder, and looking her in the eyes said, "ma'am, it's not like you're going to hurt him."  They both laughed, though with rue.  Somehow, someway, the nurse said, they got the shirt on.  They had to cut the suit coat a little bit, and then sew it up again, but they got it on as well.  The shoes were huge on the dead baby, the nurse said they looked like bozo the clown shoes on his minuscule feet.

After getting the dead baby all decked out in his flamboyant 70s style threads, the mother held the baby and a ton of pictures were taken, the mother laughing and crying and saying over and over again how beautiful her little man was.  Eventually they put the dead baby into one of the little cheap caskets the hospital donated back then to people who couldn't afford them, and the funeral home came and took the remains of this preterm miscarried baby dressed in a Ken doll Liberace outfit to the little pentecostal church where he would be buried.

The nurse said the whole time she felt like she was in a Twilight Zone episode.

After she told this story there was a pause, and another nurse said "that was the one and only thing that mother would ever be able to give to her baby."  The other nurses all quietly agreed.  

on the magical working-class-guy... we have another case of mystification in which some sort of primordial atavism is used to cover up the socially destructive movements of capital. We romanticize the working man while at the same time undermining his very existence, almost as if he is the Girardian scapegoat.

Arturo, from On the myth of an honest day's work.

In 1935 the Wagner Act was passed as part of FDR’s New Deal, a very important part because salaried workers who had suffered in the Wall Street collapse of 1929, needed some support from government in responding to unfair labor practices of employers. This “labor bill of rights” was part of FDR’s thrust toward an “economic bill of rights,” rights involving a living wage, housing, medical care, education and social security. The cultural clime then in regard to unions, government, and employers differed immeasurably from the cultural clime of the present even though both eras were blighted by similar acts of monumental financial chicanery, over-speculation and Wall Street carte blanche.
FDR connected economic insecurity of the many to the reckless profiteering and greed of the few. What he learned from the Great Depression was that the political enfranchisement guaranteed by the existing Bill of Rights could be rendered meaningless if the working class was reduced to a servitude that had plagued every society since the beginning of time. Who had looted the country and brought it to its knees remained clear throughout FDR’s days in office. And the overwhelming numbers of Americans who were deep in unemployment, homelessness, hunger, sickness and all those psychological repercussions that we mark now but had little representation then – these multitudes did not indict their fellow workers nor themselves.
It was quite clear who were the Haves and who the Have Nots. The Wall Street “player” so brazenly lauded by Gordon Gekko in both film versions of Wall Street as a heroic exemplar of greed was no such hero in the New Deal days. The wealthy kept a low profile, as did the Wall Street “player.” 

The “lives of the rich and famous” make their appearance in screwball comedies – Margaret Dumont’s societal “blueblood” suffering the barbs of an antic Groucho Marx – while the tough anti-heroes of the film noir are resilient and inspiring in the face of bad luck and ruthless power. The “working class heroes,” the John Does and Tom Joads, reveal on the screen not product placements and marketing implanted desires but what the audience recognizes in their own daily struggle. Struggle, anger, revenge, laconic toughness, and the darkness of these “mean streets” clash in high Hollywood style with Busby Berkeley extravagance and insouciant farce. A reckless capitalism had no estimable image while the Pecora Commission investigated and indicted Wall Street malfeasants. A real Leftist presence that threatens the “casino” order of wealth and poverty emerges not because many were being “brainwashed” but because many were defending themselves from a system that had indeed “savaged” them.

The cultural surround changes when a variety of images change, when for instance “working class heroes” and their unions become tied to the Communist Soviet Union and its socialist solidarity replacing private ownership and “free” enterprise. The “working class hero” suddenly looked like one of those Soviet working class heroes depicted in Stalinist sponsored art. That new context enabled employers to counter the Wagner Act with Taft-Hartley, legislation which passed all manner of restrictions on the right to strike, passed “right-to-work-laws” which made unions unlawful, and darkened the image of unions as corrupted either by the Mafia or the Communists. Taft-Hartley set the whole movement up for Ronald Reagan’s coup de grace in 1981 when he threatened with termination all union members who did not return to work. 

That Cold War Communist tag on American unions lingers but the connection is historical and history is not a ground the new Tea Party endorsed legislators want to visit. It’s sufficient that the “Union/Communist” link echoes in the background, just as the mention of “class” echoes in the same chamber. History displays much that could explain the dire straits of workers and those who look for work in vain but “history” in the Age of Twittering in which “New” and “Now” have truly sent all our yesterdays on the dust pile is “old, over and adios.” You could say cybertech has replaced history, the repeated and rapid monitoring of Smart phones and the minute by minute updating of one’s personal history. Multi-tasking never tasks backward.