Monday, April 8, 2013

Maundering Monday (Links, Chains & Threads)

The Iron Lady: rust to dust.  

Eleven dead Afghan children are just a thorny issue in the American side. But a couple of Americans killed during the endless aggressive American occupation of their country? A deplorable humanitarian tragedy of epic proportions. Dead Muslim babies are a sticky wicket, having the nerve to get themselves murdered in the middle of a valiant American effort to protect American lives during American airstrikes in which Americans shockingly also get killed anyway, when they're only there to help Afghan children learn to read American books. (NY Times.)

President Obama is running out of legacy-burnishing time, probably because the American corporate media are wasting their rags and apple polish on the rotten little crab The One. He's only got 10 days to close the deal on guns, 'gration, and gutting (the safety net.)

According to Obama's former bankster-budget director-turned bankster pal Peter Orszag, chained CPI won't even save much money as it condemns millions of Americans to needless suffering and early deaths. So, sez Pete, the fact that Obama is pushing for it anyway makes him one brave crusading asshole.

The president is having second thoughts (or pretending to) on his Terror Tuesday baseball card collection. The likely scenario, of course, is that he's just resorting to more liar's poker, gushing anonymously to NY Times reporters in yet another bout of legacy-burnishing propaganda, preparatory to his much-anticipated burble to the American people on Drones. Having killed thousands of people "over there", he could well be running out of victims. Maybe the killing game is boring him. Plus, killing people is not who he is as a country. Plus, the ends don't necessarily justify the means, especially when there's plenty of domestic means-testing on his plate already.

Apparently feeling no tinglings of cognitive dissonance, let alone irony, the president is traveling to Connecticut today to shed more glycerine tears for dead American children and to deplore the civilian use of American-manufactured terrorist weapons and ammo.

When the town of Mayflower turns into the town of Oilslick, the real government of Exxon-Mobil takes over -- the water, the land and even the skies are off-limits to reporters. Deja Deepwater Horizon vu all over again. It even looks like they're cleaning up their mess with cheap Oil Baron Koch Brothers Bounty paper towels:  

The Quicker Slicker Picker-Upper


Rose in Michigan said...

Then there's this:

Anyone shocked or surprised?

Par for the course in a world where Obama gets the Nobel Peace Prize.

Denis Neville said...

“Margaret Thatcher’s government was defined by overseeing the greatest ever transfer of wealth from the bottom of society to the top. In the name of little people, she handed billions to the richest in tax cuts and de-regulation, a theft from which Britain has never recovered.” - John Pilger

From one austerity fan to another:

“America has lost a true friend…Here in America, many of us will never forget her standing shoulder to shoulder with President Reagan, reminding the world that we are not simply carried along by the currents of history - we can shape them with moral conviction, unyielding courage and iron will.” – Obama

Will said...

Elvis Costello wrote a song about Margaret a few decades ago called "Tramp The Dirt Down." Here's a short interview with Elvis followed by a powerful solo performance of the tune:

Kat said...

President Obama said in a tribute released by the White House that Mrs. Thatcher’s achievement as Britain’s first female prime minister taught “our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can’t be shattered.” He added that the “world has lost one of the great champions of freedom and liberty, and America has lost a true friend.”

Make sure to grab a miner or pensioner to do the shattering for you! So much safer and easier that way.

Will said...

For those interested, here's the studio version of Elvis Costello's "Tramp The Dirt Down" I posted earlier. Such a beautiful song for such an ugly woman:

Pearl said...

Google has a lead story titled, Margaret Thatcher, Why the U.S. Loved Her, and a photo of her dancing with a smiling Ronnie. The answer is for the same dumb reasons they loved Ronnie and voted for all the successive presidents that have brought the country to its present position at the bottom of the barrel (toilet).
I wonder what it will take to wake the population up enough to start some
strong reactions for change.

Maybe a large meteorite hitting Washington D.C. directly?

Denis Neville said...

@ Will - while we're at it:

From Ireland, John McCullagh, “I'll Dance On Your Grave Mrs Thatcher”

And the U.K.,

Morrissey, “Margaret on the Guillotine”

The Beat, “Stand Down Margaret”

World mourns Thatcher??? Lots of celebrations in the U.K., Ireland, Argentina.

Kat said...

What drivel shall we get from David Brooks tomorrow. I predict we'll be hearing about bloat.

Dave - N. Strabane, PA said...

Like the far right, you too think pragmatism is over-rated. You are no more willing to tolerate the slightest hint of compromise than, say, Ted Cruz. So everything that Obama does (or both Roosevelts, Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson did) is to you a corporate sell-out. If your thinking is not profound or practical, it certainly is consistent and too clever by half.


(Note to readers... Dave from N. Strabane is one of my semi-regular stalkers from the NY Times -- and this, his latest, was appended in response to mine to Krugman, long after the moderators had closed off further reader discourse. Normally I ignore people of his ilk, but no more. I am going to start outing them when they choose to launch their personal attacks. (I actually know who Dave is, through the various investigative techniques I have at my disposal, but am choosing the high road at this time) The Obama Truth Squaders/PragProgs are coming out of the woodwork yet again, and as Digby advises on her blog, we must stop allowing them to "gaslight" us.

So, my response to him....

To Dave: If my name is on a list of 205 secret subversives that you have lurking somewhere in the depths of your ink-stained pocket, the least you can do is have the decency to share your own identity and psych qualifications with the rest of us. But you have no decency, do you, Sir?
For an alleged historian, you certainly seem to have ignored the lessons of the past, circa early 50s. Plus, your false equivalence between right and left is too stale by half. You get an F for originality.

Karen Garcia

Zee said...

Having lived to the (fairly) ripe old age of 87, and then having had the good fortune to pass away peacefully, I somehow doubt that Lady Margaret is losing any (eternal) sleep over the puerile celebrations of her death.

Is that the best the Left can do?

Denis Neville said...

Grenade tosses by stalker Dave - N. Strabane, PA, online belligerent, aka Flame Warrior, at Karen.


Jerk? “Very happy to participate in electronic forums because in cyberspace he is free to be himself...without the risk of getting a real-time punch in the mouth… sarcastic, mean, unforgiving and never misses an opportunity to make a cutting remark.”

Lurker? “Some mysterious impulse drives him to de-lurk and attack… seldom sticks around to fight it out, however, and after a brief exchange, he once again slips out of sight.”

Ideologue? “The most common variants of Ideologue are conservative and liberal. Smug and self-satisfied in their certitudes, Ideologue's opinions are merely a loose collection of intellectual conceits, and he is genuinely astonished, bewildered and indignant that his views are not universally embraced as the Truth. He regards the opposing point of view as a form of cognitive dissonance whose only cure is relentless propagandizing and browbeating. The conservative iteration of Ideologue parades himself as a logical, clear thinker, while the liberal version trumpets his higher level of mental, spiritual and social awareness. Troglodyte is the natural ally of conservative Ideologue, and for liberal Ideologue it is Weenie. Ideologue is a fierce, but very predictable Warrior.”

Fellow Sardonickyers, what are your diagnoses?

Yes, the Obama Truth Squaders/PragProgs are coming out of the woodwork yet again. Out them!

Kat said...

No, what's puerile is the "I've got mine" philosophy of Maggie and her ilk.

And she was far more destructive of civility with her "unleashing market forces" than any "loony" leftist celebrating her death.

James F Traynor said...

Damn it Karen, you've whetted my curiosity. Who is he? And is he really an historian? Ah c'mon, who is he? Personally I've never taken notice of him, even been aware of him - the he who is assailing thee. I'll say this for Thatcher, she really was and is incendiary, even in the form of ash (but alas, too late).

spreadoption said...

For more on what's puerile, please read (from Karen's sidebar):

"Demanding that no criticisms be voiced to counter that hagiography is to enable false history and a propagandistic whitewashing of bad acts, distortions that become quickly ossified and then endure by virtue of no opposition and the powerful emotions created by death. When a political leader dies, it is irresponsible in the extreme to demand that only praise be permitted but not criticisms… To demand that all of that [criticism] be ignored in the face of one-sided requiems to her nobility and greatness is a bit bullying and tyrannical, not to mention warped… There is absolutely nothing wrong with loathing Margaret Thatcher or any other person with political influence and power based upon perceived bad acts, and that doesn't change simply because they die. If anything, it becomes more compelling to commemorate those bad acts upon death as the only antidote against a society erecting a false and jingoistically self-serving history. " – Glenn Greenwald

Would the vast majority of Britons, and people all around the world, have been better off with or without the ideology Thatcher imposed? Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Or we might say, the unexamined life is not lived as well. Evidence suggests that a lot of unnecessary suffering in a steadily declining economy is Thatcher's truest legacy.

Denis Neville said...

Are the puerile celebrations of Thatcher’s death the best the Left can do?

Just the Left?

Bother at all to ask who they are and why they are celebrating?
Asked a Chilean? Whose brother or sister was tortured and murdered by Pinochet, one of Thatcher's closest allies and friends.

Or Cambodians? How Thatcher gave Pol Pot a hand.

Or Scottish families? Whose loved ones died because Thatcher denied kidney dialysis to anyone over the age of 56 living in Scotland.

Or the Orgreave miners?

Or the many other people whose lives were changed for the worse because of her policies?


Is it not understandable why those people are reacting with glee over the death of the dastardly villain responsible for their lives of pain and loss? Isn’t such a reaction inevitable? Quelle surprise!

It, of course, plays into the hands of the very people who use the label “puerile.” This is how they think about all “those people.”

Is this the best the Right can do? Why can’t the Right show some respect for Thatcher’s victims?

"There is absolutely nothing wrong with loathing Margaret Thatcher or any other person with political influence and power based upon perceived bad acts, and that doesn't change simply because they die. If anything, it becomes more compelling to commemorate those bad acts upon death as the only antidote against a society erecting a false and jingoistically self-serving history." - Glenn Greenwald

Gloat over the death of an old lady with dementia? Better to express utter contempt for her successors and their ghastly crews.

“This is not a time for celebration. The death of Margaret Thatcher is nothing more than a salient reminder of how Britain got into the mess that we are in today. Of why ordinary working people are no longer able to earn enough from one job to support a family; of why there is a shortage of decent affordable housing; of why domestic growth is driven by credit, not by real incomes; of why tax-payers are forced to top up wages; of why a spiteful government seeks to penalize the poor for having an extra bedroom; of why Rupert Murdoch became so powerful; of why cynicism and greed became the hallmarks of our society. Raising a glass to the death of an infirm old lady changes none of this. The only real antidote to cynicism is activism. Don't celebrate - organize!” - Billy Bragg, Calgary, AB, Canada

James F Traynor said...

Having finished mining "Wealth and Democracy" (Oil and Water) by Kevin Phillips, just prior to the lady's death, I view it through a wider angle. Greenwald's commentary, of course, is quite correct (thank you, spreadadoption and Karen). But it is the way of our species' written history; we are not culturally rational, never, ever will be. And historians are, as are we all, culturally afflicted. Or less kindly, sons of Aananais, as one historian put it. It is only through the light cast by an occasional individual in our turbid history can anyone get a reasonable idea of just what the hell is going on, as my wife would say.

Pearl said...

Karen's comment to Brook's column exposed the reasons for the distaste by the left or anyone of good will for her destructive life. (Karen please print it in our comments section.) And it is a warning for the current Thatcherism that has taken over the U.S. by indicating that not everyone is fooled by such chicanery.
We should spend more time supporting and extolling the virtues of the decreasing numbers of really good people trying to survive our right wing challenges in order to try and restore some balance in the rocking Ship of State.

We are all quivering as a result of the political bullying going on which has to be addressed. I think there is a healthy reaction to the real meaning of Margaret Thatcher's life beneath the surface of all the official tributes going on. It reminds me of the overdone glittering funeral of Ronald Reagan which overshadowed any attempts to set the record straight for future citizens and it is only fairly recently that the truth about his presidency has come to light. We can't allow history to be rewritten anymore if change is to be made.

Karen Garcia said...

My David Brooks comment: (thankfully the Thatcher funeral festivities will not be televised wall to wall for an entire week like they were for Ronnie! At least not that I know of.)

RIP Iron Lady. As much as we like to imagine that the toxic rust has dissolved into dust, ashes to ashes are still for the little people. Her legacy of selfishness lives on, engraved forever in the cement of a free-market tombstone.

Thanks to Trickle-Down Ronnie and his sister-wife Maggie, the corporate culture of privatization roams the earth like a zombie wrapped in the flag of transglobalism. Iron Lady got her name when, inspired by Shock Doc Milton Friedman and his Chicago school of disaster capitalism, she devised her own crisis stunt by going to war against Argentina for the Falklands in 1982. From there, it was but a hop, skip and jump to warring against the coal miners and the trade unions. Ronnie did his thing with the air traffic controllers and voila! the long slow death march of Labor began.

IMF, World Bank, corporate deregulation, job-destroying free trade deals, coups, the enabling and shielding of terrorists and war criminals (Pinochet, Cheney), income disparity of a level not seen since the last Gilded Age, mass privatization, and sticking it to common people are all part and parcel of the Thatcher legacy.

The Iron Lady, begotten of The Iron Heel. In death as in life, she and her fellow zombies Reagan and Friedman just keep on crushing.

Will said...

British actor & comedian Russell Brand remembers growing up under Thatcher in yesterday's Guardian:

Denis Neville said...

Disqualifying pathologies of the Left

Jacobin's Margaret Thatcher obituary:

Freddie de Boer reviews it, “hot fucking garbage,” @

“It's incredible to me that a magazine [a magazine that puts the guillotine on its cover] that has been founded on explicit class antagonism is laying wreaths on the grave of one of the most enthusiastic defenders of privilege and the upper class in recent memory. Margaret Thatcher was a woman who not only materially defended the needs of the upper classes (some of them literal nobility!) against the lower classes, she was a constant voice for the cultural and social superiority of the upper classes against the low. The obituary makes that plain enough.”

“I don't get writing an obituary of Margaret Thatcher for a left-wing publication that fails to mention her support for Pinochet of Chile, for Suharto in Indonesia, or for the explicitly racist white government of 1980s South Africa. (Pinochet, in particular, she supported for years and years after all of his crimes had become public knowledge.) If a magazine with that title doesn't see fit to point out a world leader's consistent and forceful opposition to resistance and liberation movements, something has gone badly wrong.”

“The left's pathologies are different from those of the right, but are no less disqualifying. This obituary epitomizes two of the worst of them: the refusal to fight with the same ferocity as the right wing does, and the learned helplessness that compels the left wing to say, hey, what can we do? For the former, there's this continued bizarre notion that restraining yourself artificially in a fight somehow improves your position, the fetish for seriousness that mistakes appeals to the David Broder in people for a winning political strategy … you've got the unsupported claims within the piece that Thatcherism was some sort of historical inevitability. "The social and economic consequences of de-industrialization... would have taken place in one form or other without her" is the kind of sentiment that excuses the left from having to achieve real change and that defensively protects against the possibility of failure. It's also ignores counterexamples, given the ability that countries like the Scandinavian social democracies demonstrated to transition into a new economy without gutting labor or undertaking ugly cultural war. It's a counterrevolutionary attitude and I have no patience for it.”

Neo-liberal Obama’s Truth Squaders/PragProgs, refusing to acknowledge that Obama’s critics have been proven right again and again, out yet again shouting “wake up and smell the coffee,” “trust our fearless Leader,” continually disqualify themselves.

Zee said...

@Denis, @spreadoption and @Kat--

When I used the word “puerile” to describe the various celebrations that have taken place in the wake of Margaret Thatcher's death, these are what I had in mind. I should have provided links like these to make my point at that time:

Thatcher left office in 1990, yet most—but not all, I admit—of the people in the photos and videos in the foregoing links—as with many other, similar articles—appear to be in their twenties. In other words, they were just being born when Thatcher turned the government over to the Labour Party for fully twenty years, until 2010.

These weren't celebrations having their origins in Tory “victimization” of the working class, they were just excuses to party on down, drink more than a bit, and smash a window or two while throwing “missiles” at the coppers. According to some of you, these “yoofs” were betrayed just as much by the Labour Party as by the Tories, but they don't understand that. I wonder if they will have figured it out by the time Tony Blair and Gordon Brown kick their respective buckets, and hold celebratory street riots for them. then. I suspect not, since Blair and Brown wear the acceptable “Labour” label, but only time will tell.

I have nothing against legitimate analysis and criticism of Margaret Thatcher and her principles and actions. If it's done in a civil and documented way, I may be persuaded, myself. Politically, I was pretty much asleep except on the “gun issue” and "national defense" from 1980-1990 when I was establishing myself in my career; so I will be carefully reading the links that you all have provided here today for starters, and would welcome more.

A brief “Googling” on my part on the topic of Thatcher and denial of dialysis to people in Scotland, for instance, came up empty, so thanks for any references.

Personally, I think that Billy Bragg—in the quote provided by Denis—had it about right. Along with Denis's own remark:

“Gloat over the death of an old lady with dementia? Better to express utter contempt for her successors and their ghastly crews [who happen to still be alive].”

Zee said...


You raise another question in my mind regarding the legacy of Margaret Thatcher, upon which I would ask you to expand.

You state that Thatcher “devised her own crisis stunt by going to war against Argentina for the Falklands in 1982.

Perhaps I am reading more into this than you intended, but you appear to be stating that Thatcher deliberately started that war.

As I read things—based only on Wikipedia and memories, I admit—the history of who possessed the Falklands islands exactly when is complex,,5860,659004,00.html

but that the British have held control of the islands continuously since 1834. Or, 179 years.

While the Argentine government has disputed Britain's claim to the islands in the U.N. since the
1960s, that's still roughly 131 years of clear possession of the Falklands by the British.

Moreover, the residents of the islands appear overwhelmingly to prefer to be under British rule, and, I presume, to be British citizens. This is expressed in both the Wikipedia article, and here:

As I understand it per the Wikipedia article, a despotic Argentinian government spontaneously chose to invade the Falklands in 1982.

My understanding of events even at the time—though I admit I was not paying a huge amount of attention in 1982—paralleled that of the foregoing Wikipedia article:

“By exploiting the long-standing feelings of Argentines towards the islands, the nation's ruling military junta sought to divert public attention from Argentina's poor economic performance and growing internal opposition.”

In other words, it was a nationalistic diversion on the part of a faltering Argentinian military junta.

Was there a British provocation of which I am unaware?

And if not, what would you have had Thatcher do? Enter into interminable, Jimmy Carter-like negotiations with Argentina with the “assistance” of the United Nations, turning the Falkland Islands situation into another 65-year-long, Israeli-Palestinian stand-off?

Thatcher acted quickly and decisivly on behalf of people who thought of—and still think of— themselves as British, just as I would expect any American president to do if my state of New Mexico were it to be invaded by, say, Mexico, in an effort to re-exert its claims—many of which have written, treaty-based factuality, and which are a little more recent than Argentina's claim to the Falklands— to my neck of the woods?

Most if not all of us here now think of ourselves as Americans, not Mexicans.

What would you expect Thatcher to do?

Again, if there are British provocations of which I am unaware, I would be happy to learn about them.