As I said in the previous note, I’ve been on the road all week and mostly ill-informed about the breaking Trump stories, and much else. So all I have are some more Loose Ends to file.
• With one caveat. I hadn’t been paying attention to the fact that Michael Cohen’s attorney is Lanny Davis. Lanny Davis??? Seriously? What is this—some kind of parallel universe remake of the Clinton sex scandals of the 1990s? We all recall how that ended, don’t we?
The most salient thing about Lanny Davis is that he’s a total Hillary Clinton toady. How much so? One of the Wikileaks was this pathetic email from Davis to Hillary, asking Her Worship for the legal equivalent of a dust jacket blurb, which culminates in this weapons-grade suckup:
Aside from Carolyn, my four children, and my immediate family, I consider you to be the best friend and the best person I have met in my long life. You know that from the dedication and appreciation of you I have always felt and expressed to you over four decades.
But don’t take his word for it. Take mine. Back in 2o07 I was trapped in the window seat on a 55-hour cross-country flight (at least it seemed that long) with Davis, who regaled me with relentless tales of Hillary’s greatness. I blogged about it at the time for the old NoLeftTurns blog:
My seatmate on the flight to Los Angeles was the very chatty and convivial Lanny Davis, whom cable viewers will remember for his nightly appearances defending Clinton during the impeachment unpleasantness. He regaled me for at least an hour with the case for Hillary’s brilliance and greatness (I was unpersuaded). He also told a number of off-the-record things about Clinton White House in the 1990s, and other things. Nothing earth-shaking that you can’t guess or suspect, but I shall want to honor his confidentiality; I’m not a journalist after all.
But the most interesting point was our discussion of an aspect of the current political season that I see is the hot topic of conversation this week; namely, the way in which the political fights of the 1990s, and Bush hatred today, are part of the saga of the baby boomers continuing their intra-generational fight that began in the 1960s. This is the one aspect of Obama that is interesting: he’s been trying to make “goodbye to all that” a key theme, just as Jimmy Carter tried to make trust and goody-goodyness his leading trait after the disaster of Watergate. Obama went to college in the late 1970s right after I did (I have close friends who knew him at both Occidental and at Harvard Law School), and I do recall that the whole 1960s cultural divide seemed alien and remote to most of our cohort.
But is Hillary the answer to this? Isn’t she a continuation of the problem, with her sixties background? (Just read her senior thesis on Saul Alinsky some time if you want to read something scary. I am sure she doesn’t believe much of that anymore, but that fact that a person from a top university could once have written such radical tripe is still unnerving.) Lanny Davis assured me that Hillary is supremely conscious of this and has learned her lesson from the 1990s–and from the failure of Hillarycare–and this morning Joe Scarnborough was saying the same thing on MSNBC.
Well, the 1960s are back, from the looks of the Democratic Party in the streets right now, and given than we’re re-enacting the Clinton impeachment drama, it would seem Edna St. Vincent-Millay was right that history isn’t one damn thing after another; it’s the same damn thing over and over again.
• It’s been my theory for a while that the worst thing you can do to the academic left is give them wider publicity, which is one reason for my periodic “Academic Absurdity” entries here. It turns out that leftist professors sometime get angry when you link to their tendentious journal articles, which raises the question of why they’d want them printed in the first place. This is not universally true, however. After I took after Prof. Simon Springer of the University of Victoria in Canada earlier this year for his eloquent and carefully argued academic essay “Fuck Neoliberalism,” the good professor decided to include my “endorsement” on his home page, AnarchistGeography.com. (Just scroll down a bit; I wrote that “I wondered if the author, Simon Springer, really existed. That’s the kind of name you’d make up for a comic novel. But yes, he’s real, and he’s spectacular.” Apparently he has no sense of irony—or of pop culture—or he’d know I was calling him a boob.)
Earning money in space is an exciting prospect for a far-right, pro-business, anti-regulation politician like [Ted] Cruz, and he explicitly associated it with European countries having colonized the Americas. Starting in the late 1400s, Great Britain, Spain, and Portugal funded missions to the Americas in order to gather natural resources that would power up their economies. By stealing the land that made this resource extraction possible, colonizers used genocide, enslavement, biological weaponry, and warfare and that resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of indigenous people living in the “New World.” The concept of race, and therefore racism, was invented as a way of justifying their violence and legitimizing a hierarchy of race-divided labor.
Based off of what we know right now, the Moon and Mars are devoid of life, so this colonizing language is not actually putting other beings at risk. But, there is the risk that the same racist mythology used to justify violence and inequality on earth—such as the use of frontier, “cowboy” mythology to condone and promote the murder and displacement of indigenous people in the American West—will be used to justify missions to space. In a future where humans potentially do live on non-earth planets, that same racist mythology would carry through to who is allowed to exist on, and benefit from, extraterrestrial spaces.
Can’t wait for the movie version.