Friday, January 21, 2011

Mr Fantasy...

Eschaton has up a description of an Irvine CA home up for sale for a mere $18 million.

Then there's my fantasy dwelling. Neither big nor tiny. A walk-up second floor apartment in a fantasy town with a good library, a good bookstore owned and staffed by people who love books, good schools, a pub that makes its own beer and hosts local musicians playing jazz or chamber music without amplification, a non-fussy restaurant where the chef cares about the food without beating you over the head with his/her cleverness, stores owned by real people with idiosyncratic offerings, a good bakery and farmers' market, the whole town surrounded by woods, fields and farmlands, and with a train that in an hour or so takes you into a major city. Not that i'm asking a lot here.

Or maybe living on a boat moored in a harbor, most of whose activity is small-scale commercial so I can go over two docks and buy fresh fish.

Do I ask too much? i don't think so. Or I shouldn't be asking too much. But I'm struck by the fact that my fantasy involves the place I'm living in, the society in which I find myself, and its priorities, than it does my material circumstances once I have heat, comfort, electricity, Internet and three square meals a day. And, at that, with little or nothing separating me from all that: no fences, huge yards, moats with right-wing alligators armed with AK-47s...

State/City Bankruptcy: Not Just For Breakfast Anymore

A fair amount of state and municipal finance requires ongoing rollover of bonds, which requires that bonds be sold. Interest rates on those bonds are, to say the least, important considerations in government financial operations. You start talking about government bankruptcies, you make it much harder to market the bonds that they need to sell in order to roll over the old ones, and, even if you succeeded in getting the suckers to buy 'em, the interest rates would be close to unaffordable short and long term. That would jeopardize governments far more than bankruptcy would. Not only would investors in current bonds take a huge hit. Reorganization after bankruptcy would be difficult, to impossible. Unless, (er, I hate to even bring it up) newly issued securities were backed up or insured by the federal government.

The odd bond, too, resides in the odd investment portfolio of the odd rich person and institutional investor. Were those bonds worth pennies, if that, to the dollar after a bankruptcy, there'd be a bit of unhappiness consequent to it. Too, assets nominally valued in the hundreds of billions of dollars turning to crap would remove a little value from the economy. Only a churl would point out that deflation, recession/depression and a reversal of even the current anemic recovery might supervene. In which case, a sane macroeconomic approach would be to expand the money supply with, say (prepare yourself for a shock), deficit spending and money creation. Not the most politically viable stance, these days.

Worth noting, by the way, that federal laws sheltering municipal bond interest from taxation is, in fact, a subsidy, fiscally identical to a direct payment to those holding them. Ah, the endless cornucopia of the free market, at least, for those with the intelligence, initiative and coupon-clipping scissors enough to lift themselves up by their own bootstraps.

There's only so much fun you can have in one day, but they really, really might want to rethink this one...

Beck on Frances Fox Piven

For a while now, Glenn Beck has been tracing a paranoid history of an extraordinarily effective left wing's covert plan to subvert American freedom, linking implausible co-conspirators to the progressive movement at the 19-20th century turn, and Woodrow Wilson, right through Obama. One of his frequent targets is what he calls the 'Cloward-Piven conspiracy', whose origin is this article from the Nation in 1966.

The authors suggest here that if everyone eligible for local and state aid actually applied for it, the systems would be overwhelmed, and that politics might then shift to make a federal role in such things more acceptable. You should read it, to understand just how crazy Beck is. If you Google 'Cloward-Piven conspiracy' you get 150,000 hits, mostly rightie nonsense echoing Beck.

For a while, Prof. Piven was more bemused than anything else at the idea that a lefty sociology professor could be imagined by anybody to be that sinister and powerful, that an article in the Nation, a small lefty weekly in Murdoch's world, could usher in totalitarian socialism. After Tucson, harder to remain puzzled without being alarmed, especially as Beck's rhetoric has become even more strident:

Beginning in September of 2010, Glenn Beck started branding Piven, a distinguished professor of Political Science and Sociology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, as an “enemy of the Constitution.” Piven, well known for advocating for the organizational rights of the poor and encouraging voter registration, has since received threatening phone calls and letters, and has become the subject of many death threats left open to the public on Glenn Beck’s website, The Blaze"...

The Center for Constitutional rights details a backlash through some of the many violent quotes on Beck’s website. Examples include, “Maybe they should burst through the front door of this arrogant elitist and slit the hateful cow’s throat,” “We should blow up Piven’s office and home,” and “I am all for violence and change Frances: Where do your loved ones live?” (thanks to Thers on for the cite)

---Beck really, really isn't at this point, nor has he ever been, merely an entertainer, or a commentator coming from a legitimate, though extreme, position on the political spectrum. He's outright, completely, crazy. And nothing he says, no matter how crazy, seems to give his enablers and supporters pause. This isn't Goldwater saying, 'Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.' This is a guy who needs more Stelazine than he's taking. And he made $35 million last year, and, after attacking George Soros using nakedly anti-Semitic language and source material, was unequivocally supported by Rupert Murdoch.

It'd be precious were an occasional person to the left of Attila the Hun note the fact that Beck isn't just wrong, but crazy, and that Murdoch's defense of his craziness might, just might, not be in service of elevating the American political conversation.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Demands of History

The NY Times magazine tomorrow has an article about the idiosyncratic relationship between Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel. It points out that, while they clearly dislike each other, they have to work together for the sake of a sustainable, coherent European Union:

I grew up with old lefties, who viewed history as arising independent of, and superseding, any given individual--economics, if you're a Marxist; or Hegelian dialectic, Frederick Jackson Turner's frontier theory of American history, or Gibbon's portrayal of Roman decline as irreversible by even a supremely gifted emperor. The alternative, derisively labeled the 'Cleopatra's Nose' theory--that were her nose three inches long and covered with zits, history would have changed dramatically--depended on idiosyncrasy, individuals arising unpredictably in crucial places. Alexander, Paul of Tarsus, Mohammed (for the non-believer in Islam's Allah), Napoleon, other examples hard to dismiss come to mind.

Karl Popper called the notion of historical theorizing along grand lines excluding individuals 'historicism', and rejected it in 'The Poverty of Historicism'. Isaiah Berlin, too, was deeply suspicious. Large historical theories subordinating the individual, they said, leads to an acceptance, even justification, of totalitarian states and totalitarian actors, of egg-breaking to serve better omelets. They're wrong morally for that reason, they said, as well as wrong on their own terms, there being abundant counterexamples. Too, theories like those can't be tested all that well before or after the fact, leaving competing theories subjects of contention as, say, Newton's mechanics weren't until new observations demonstrated their limits. Nevertheless, Hitler, say, clearly arose in a context of German defeat, hyperinflation and so on, but was, in fact, Hitler and nobody else, and it's hard to imagine a different individual, even leading a Nazi Party in control of Germany, having a similar effect. So, Sarkozy, whose supermodel wife's pictures, some of them in the nude, are up on the Internet, and Merkel, the 'matronly' PhD chemist, grating on each other in a relationship obviously arising out of their personalities, required by larger forces, whatever they are, to work mindful of the constraints and requirements that the historical moment requires of them.

Meanwhile, mathematics has demonstrated that very large systems indeed can be exquisitely dependent on initial conditions. Ray Bradbury's 'A Sound of Thunder', in which a time traveler's butterfly killing step in the Jurassic produces huge alterations 100 millions of years later, and Edward Lorentz's butterfly effect in weather modeling, come to mind. It's hard not to imagine the possibility that world history, too, may produce far less inevitability, far less a priori and a posteriori coherence, than it's natural to suppose. Leaving not only Sarkozy and Merkel with more personal responsibility than might be supposed, but, perhaps, even lesser individuals--you and me, perhaps, even...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Boehner's Absence

There are two ways to explain the Great Pumpkin's absence from the memorial service at which Obama spoke yesterday.

First, he chose to attend a fund-raiser. Nothing, but nothing, seems more important than raising money from clients. Darrel Issa last week asked businessmen to tell him which burdensome federal regulations should be repealed. They might as well put up a 'For Sale' sign.

Second, Obama was performing a ceremonial function as president of the United States. Entirely non-partisan, uncontroversial, but, nevertheless, clearly acting as if he were, in fact, the president, speaking to and for the country. Can't have that. Recall, for instance, the outrage which greeted his entirely benign address to schoolchildren. His opponents demanded the right to exclude their children from the horrific threat to freedom that a president acting ceremonially poses to the Republic. Never, ever can they concede that Obama is, in fact, the president, by virtue of anything other than crime, corruption, deceit and treason.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Palin's 'Blood Libel'

It's hard to think of a more stupid, despicable, ignorant remark she could have made. Comparing criticism of her violent rhetoric to the suffering of European and Russian Jewry is unacceptable, and should be unacceptable to anyone regardless of ideology.

Charitably, she's merely ignorant of its historical meaning, and, once apprised of it, will apologise. Less charitably, she knew exactly what she was saying, which is not merely ignorant but reprehensible. In the context of Beck's nakedly anti-Semitic extended attack on George Soros, after which Murdoch defended him, worse yet.

In either case, she has forfeited any right to any sort of public platform at all, much less a potential candidacy for the presidency. It would be precious were one or two Republicans to take her to task for this ugliness.

Fear Is The Key

Robert Wright, in this morning's NY Times, writes with coherence and sanity on the political tug of war over the Tucson shootings:

To be sure, at this political moment there is — by my left-wing lights, at least — more crazy fear-mongering and demonization on the right than on the left. But that asymmetry is transient.

What’s not transient, unfortunately, is the technological trend that drives much of this. It isn’t just that people can now build a cocoon of cable channels and Web sites that insulates them from inconvenient facts. It’s also that this cocoon insulates them from other Americans — including the groups of Americans who, inside the cocoon, are being depicted as evil aliens. It’s easy to buy into the demonization of people you never communicate with, and whose views you never see depicted by anyone other than their adversaries.

--He, I think properly, says elsewhere that there's more of a problem on the Beckoid right than on the Olbermannish left these days, as I've said in previous posts. But he also touches on something less specific to these times, less confined to one side of the ideological spectrum over time, that I also rant about regularly: the separation of virtuous Self from demonized, dehumanized Other, made worse by the echo chambers of the Internet. My postings on the mostly righty docs' blog are more temperate than those I post here, though in terms of arguments consistent, because i want to make room for them rather than have them entirely dismissed, and the possibility that a lefty might be a reasonable human being as well. Were I in a really public media venue, I'd only rarely speak as such as Olbermann, with whom I often agree, speaks, for the same reason. We all need to vent, and I'm passionate about what i write here. I loathe Beck, Limbaugh, Palin et al. for the reasons I've stated. But i, too, see a need to empathise, assert a common humanity, and if at all possible reach out rather than demonize, even to those well to my right.

I recall a time when the left indulged in violent, eliminationist rhetoric, calling for revolution, 'off(ing) the pigs), damning those who disagreed with them as racist, imperialist mass murderers in a system corrupt beyond repair that needed to be destroyed. A few of us went from such rhetoric to building bombs and committing armed robbery, killing sometimes innocent people in the process. All this was deeply wrong, as well as politically wildly counterproductive. I've talked in other posts about such things, and recognize the context, the violence of the right and the government at the time and so on: make no mistake that i held/hold only the left responsible. But we, too, were capable of such things. Today, we aren't nearly as vociferously speaking of our foes' evil as once we were. But we must, in discussing the current environment, find a way to reach out to others than ourselves, or nothing will change. Nothing may change anyway; i don't expect Beck et al. to respond in the slightest. But let us be on the side of change for the better, rather than ossification or even worsening of the entirely unsatisfactory current situation.

I do not for a moment suggest that we fall into the trap set for the left in the 1950s, where we accepted the rules set by the right: either renounce a larger political vision for broad social change in this country, accept the national security state and military-industrial complex, or be branded a Communist, a fellow-traveler, a 'comsymp' and so on. Such a trap is again being set, in that one must accept destructive righty macroeconomic nonsense to be credible all too often. We should resist that.

But consider, for instance, the Arab-Israeli situation. At this point, I feel that Israel, by far the greater economic and military power, is exacting from more from the Palestinians than conversely, has far greater freedom to change things. But Palestinians shouting 'Gunships in Gaza! Walls and checkpoints! Sabra/Shatila! Zionist apartheid!' and so on, and Israelis shouting 'Munich! Ma'alot! Sbarro! Suicide bombers! Katyushas!' at each other will continue to kill each others' children. If they don't find a way to transcend the weighing of grievances, nothing will change. There are those on both sides who profit mightily from the current situation, just as here there are those whose prominence, riches and power derive from their embrace of dehumanization of their enemies and delegitimazation of views other than their own. Such people must be resisted, but in a context recognizing that such behavior hasn't historically been limited to the right, that they and their followers, too, are human, and that change must come out of that recognition. It will not come as a 'victory', but, if at all, it will come out of attempts in a middle ground to solve problems together, through messy compromise rather than purity of ideology.

Monday, January 10, 2011

'Moi? You do it, too!!' Isn't What Jesus Would Have Said

Let's exclude for a minute the gross disparity between left and right with respect to elinimationist rhetoric, which Dave Neiwart's been tracking for years on Orcinus. Let's exclude, too, the fact that there's been no leftie political violence to speak of for decades, and the wild extent to which righties embrace the Second Amendment and have been buying guns and ammo. Let's, for the sake of argument, accept the idea that both sides have been immoderate in their rhetoric, reacting against each other's excesses in a vicious circle. Consider how few of those good Christian souls can't react to the murders by mourning the dead, caring for the living, and looking to themselves, reaching out, trying to understand, see that there's a problem out there and be part of solving it, out of empathy and love and a larger vision than us v them, trying to help.

But that isn't what they do. They don't just accept bitter partisanship; they revel in it. It defines them. A day without dehumanizing others is like a day without sunshine. Coming together? That smacks of reknitting a social contract, of weakness and appeasement and moral relativism. And it would threaten their movement to its core.

A few of us on the docs' blog have tried to cast the matter in the terms I outlined in the first paragraph, trying to keep a dialogue going. A gratifying number of righties there, who have seemed decent guys/gals anyway and with whom I get along pretty well despite our different politics, have joined and extended the idea, even to the extent of saying, essentially, what Keith Olbermann said: that there's been too much crap out there, that we shouldn't add to it ourselves or accept it from others, that we can be better than that. Amongst them was perhaps the most politically active and most widely respected guy in the group. Many of the docs there, even the righties and Randers and libertarian types, have actually moved, on this issue, more in a positive direction than I've seen elsewhere. One of them, to my astonishment and admiration, even authored a post citing moderate Muslims acting generously and courageously against extremists, reconsidering a former position he'd held equating Islam with terror, abuse of women and medieval Shar'ia. Then there were others (like the guy who playfully associated Michelle Obama with the Tontons Macoutes) whose pathetic bloviations could be reduced entirely to 'Moi? They do it too!', in a manner that'd be entirely unacceptable in a second grader.

The docs there have done better as a group than I've seen the right do in general. I've been upset by this one, and have taken to responding to the trolls with 'Mourn the dead, hope for the living and shut the fuck up.' The very least you can do. Put down the shit for a minute, stop flinging it, and wonder about how we can stop killing nine-year-old girls in this country. And, if you can't do that, I'll personally rip that fucking 'What would Jesus do?' bumper sticker off your car.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Re: Congresswoman Giffords and the Others

I spent this morning on the doctors' blog, where a thread was started mocking Michelle Obama on broccoli. Fine; they hate Obama. One poster moved on to denounce the 'cult of Obama', and likened her to Elena Ceausescu. I objected. The reply was that Obama deserved it.

The thread went on to an unfavorable comparison of Michelle's physiognomy to that of Carla Bruni, whose nude picture one poster cited; appalling sexist posts rained down. I held my tongue; if they didn't get why Ceausescu was unacceptable, I didn't think it worth it. I apologise for that.

Next, one clever fellow humorously suggested that Michelle Obama would enforce a 'broccoli mandate' using Tontons Macoutes. I posted that this was despicable, racist and entirely unacceptable, opinions about Obama be damned. Maybe 10 or 20 posts later, nobody finds this crap even mildly objectionable. How much further the fuck need one go to meet disapproval from anybody but me?

I have no doubt that some of these highly paid, highly educated professionals will have little if any problem with Giffords' wounds, and will accuse liberals of a typical hysterical overreaction to the act of a single, isolated madman.

And, too, the Tea Partiers/Republicans say something along the lines of, well, he shouldn't have shot her, but we understand why a defender of the Constitution and the fucking Second Amendment would be outraged by her liberal subversion of all this country holds dear. Just as they said, well, they shouldn't have killed Dr Slepian as he was eating breakfast at home with his family, or Dr Tiller as he was leaving church, but abortion is murder. Just like they said McVeigh shouldn't have leveled the Murrah building, but the government is too big. Just like they said they shouldn't have shot those ATF agents, but those jackbooted thugs want to tell us how to live and take our guns. Just like they said he shouldn't have flown that plane into an IRS building, but taxation is theft.

They have much to answer for, and they won't do it, and far too few people in this country will call them to account for what they've said and done. They were all on the grassy knoll today. Bastards.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Betcha His Appendage is Less Noodly Than Yours

I found this in the Times yesterday, a small pleasure to make you laugh a bit: Dwight Garner demolishing a self-help book in a hilarious review:

He can use without irony, as he does in “The 4-Hour Body,” lines like: “I was enjoying French food and a bottle of Bordeaux with a 25-year-old female yoga instructor new to San Francisco, fresh from the Midwest.” This poor woman lets slip that she’s unable to have an orgasm. Mr. Ferriss, as any humanitarian would, makes it a point to fix this problem for her. “I was able to facilitate orgasms,” he writes, “in every woman who acted as a test subject.”

Everything about Mr. Ferriss’s book declares: This is not your auntie’s self-help book. No muffled “I’m OK — You’re OK” tone here. The vibe is: I’m Superbad, bro, and I have dimples. You’re a mole person who, if you become an angel investor in my books, might someday touch the hem of my Speedo.

--I smiled at the review, rather than allow myself to be appalled that this guy is getting rich on this crap and that he isn't laughed at wherever he goes. And i'd venture a guess that the author is likely to find Limbaugh and Beck more sympatico than, say, Andrew Bacevich or Rachel Maddow. Could be wrong, though...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I Should Have Seen This Coming

The NY Times reports today on an eminent and well-respected psychologist's paper, about to be released in a peer-reviewed journal, supporting a finding of extrasensory perception:

The paper describes nine unusual lab experiments performed over the past decade by its author, Daryl J. Bem, an emeritus professor at Cornell, testing the ability of college students to accurately sense random events, like whether a computer program will flash a photograph on the left or right side of its screen. The studies include more than 1,000 subjects.

Some scientists say the report deserves to be published, in the name of open inquiry; others insist that its acceptance only accentuates fundamental flaws in the evaluation and peer review of research in the social sciences.

“It’s craziness, pure craziness. I can’t believe a major journal is allowing this work in,” Ray Hyman, an emeritus professor of psychology at the University Oregon and longtime critic of ESP research, said. “I think it’s just an embarrassment for the entire field.”

The editor of the journal, Charles Judd, a psychologist at the University of Colorado, said the paper went through the journal’s regular review process. “Four reviewers made comments on the manuscript,” he said, “and these are very trusted people.”

The article notes the respect Bem commands. They even cite Ray Hyman, a critic, who wonders whether he didn't mean it as a joke. Hyman's a mainstay of the Skeptical Inquirer, whose raison d'etre is debunking paranormal claims. I'd say the mass of evidence mostly favors the debunkers, but it's also obvious that they, too, have an agenda, and themselves can't entirely avoid biases of social construction.

Out of my field enough, this, so all I can bring to the table is skepticism, tempered with the odd, lingering hope and belief that sooner or later, someplace, there'll be something brand new, from an utterly unexpected source, that'll shake us out of our complacency as much as Riemann, Lobachevsky, Becquerel, Planck, Einstein and Godel shook 'em up back then.

Now, I'll admit that part of my bias is that the phenomena hypothesized, if actually present, should manifest themselves in far less ambiguous terms. Were telepathy or precognition possible, one might leap to the perhaps erroneous conclusion that they should be manifest in the sort of abilities routinely displayed in pop fiction, rather than culled from subtle statistics. Meanwhile, we daily get offers from wall Street types selling prognostications we should act upon which, were they as accurate as is implied, would offer the prognosticator opportunities far greater than those of magazine marketing, and, at that, best kept secret.

So, one is, too, offered the bemused thought that if the Gifted Ones exist out there, They don't want us to know about Them. Maybe Hyman is one of 'em. That'd explain it all. The next step, clearly, is to study in meticulous detail the funding of the Skeptical Inquirer. But, then, you saw that coming, didn't you?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Poetry Corner: 'A Satire Against Mankind'

Were I (who to my cost already am
One of those strange, prodigious creatures, man)
A spirit free to choose, for my own share,
What case of flesh and blood I pleased to wear,
I'd be a dog, a monkey or a bear,
Or anything but that vain animal
Who is so proud of being rational.

The senses are too gross, and he'll contrive
A sixth, to contradict the other five,
And before certain instinct, will prefer
Reason, which fifty times for one does err;
Reason, an ignis fatuus in the mind,
Which, leaving light of nature, sense, behind,
Pathless and dangerous wandering ways it takes
Through error's fenny bogs and thorny brakes;
Whilst the misguided follower climbs with pain
Mountains of whimseys, heaped in his own brain;
Stumbling from thought to thought, falls headlong down
Into doubt's boundless sea, where, like to drown,
Books bear him up a while, and make him try
To swim with bladders of philosophy;
In hopes still to o'ertake th' escaping light,
The vapor dances in his dazzling sight
Till, spent, it leaves him to eternal night.
Then old age and experience, hand in hand,
Lead him to death, and make him understand,
After a search so painful and so long,
That all his life he has been in the wrong.
Huddled in dirt the reasoning engine lies,
Who was proud, so witty, and so wise.

John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester

Financial Musical Chairs

This morning's NY Times offers William Cohan on Goldman Sachs and Facebook:

Last August, Facebook was valued at $27 billion and now it’s $50 billion — for a company with a reported $2 billion in revenue and negligible profits. If General Electric, with 2010 revenue of around $150 billion, traded at a similar multiple of revenue, it would be worth $3.75 trillion instead of $200 billion. Facebook is now considered to be worth more than Time Warner, DuPont and Goldman’s rival Morgan Stanley.

--He goes on to explain in detail the coming next round of high-finance musical chairs, in which Facebook is worth that much as long as the music's playing, Goldman plays IBGYBG and finds a seat when the music stops, and billions of dollars of asset value vanish into thin air, leaving not a rack behind. Read the whole thing; it's well worth it.

Yet again, we're offered an illustration of the difference between speculation and investment. One sets up an unstable situation destined to crash and burn; one builds lasting wealth and adds value to the economy. To the extent that resources and ingenuity find quicker and larger returns in the former than the latter, the, er, unbillionaire class will always be worse off. That's because the rich guys get their marks to trade trillions worth of dubiously valued assets at their nominal value, but, each trade, take real money off the top. That abstracts money out of the productive economy into their pockets, as surely as even the most punitive tax would.

One of my small, but real, glimmers of hope for the future is if the marks realize that they're being gamed, and wise up. Meanwhile, radar continues to sweep the skies over Schloss Wombat; no pigs yet detected...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Love Me, I'm A Liberal

In the context of discussing Obama's not unmixed record, my friend Karin on the eschaton blog recalled Phil Ochs' great 1966 or so song 'Love Me, I'm a Liberal'. I remember every word of it. Nor did I vote for Humphrey in the 1968 election after the disgrace in Chicago.

The key lines of Ochs' song close it:

But now, I am older and wiser
And so, I am turning you in...

That gets complicated, like, wicked quick. A lot of old lefties casually embraced the Soviet Union, apologized for Stalin; later, others would embrace Mao, of the Great Leap Forward and the cultural Revolution. A good part of the 1950s was about forcing the left into a pusillanimous liberalism endorsing the military-industrial national security paradigm of the Cold War. The equation of a broader left version of societal change with outright treason was all too casually accepted. Getting older and wiser sometimes meant reconsideration of such things, at a time when the left was swept away with the romance of the defeat of colonialism by national liberation movements, viewed with utter lack of skepticism both in themselves and as models for domestic politics. Just as one could easily oppose the war in Vietnam without mistaking Gen. Giap for a Jeffersonian Democrat, one could, too, have supported the Johnson who passed Medicare, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act--all substantial gains to the country, on a scale equaled only by FD Roosevelt--without mistaking the Gulf of Tonkin incident as described for reality. One could have, perhaps even should have, gotten older and wiser, and still never have turned anyone in. Ochs, whom I love dearly, equated those two, just as serious old lefties casually viewed reformers, who subverted class hatred and delayed the Revolution by legitimizing the current system, as worse in some ways than outright fascists. He was wrong to do so.

Equating Humphrey-style liberalism with complicity with McCarthy, Vietnam and domestic racism can't be justified in retrospect. And I would vote for Humphrey in a heartbeat today, were he running against Nixon, who, to my astonishment, can no longer be considered the most despicable, stupid, incompetent, ruthless, evil human being ever to be president of this country.