West Hollywood Book Fair

The West Hollywood Book Fair is not by any means the largest in the country or even in LA. The largest book fair in the primordial soup is indisputably the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, which is held annually at UCLA. The West Hollywood Book Fair is a very small and civilized affair held in West Hollywood Park. (The term “park” is used liberally here, for the actual plot of land allotted to the public under this designation is astoundingly paltry. Public spaces in the primordial soup typically are astoundingly paltry.)

The WeHo Book Fair is composed primarily, naturally, of gay and new age literature. A healthy contingent of writing groups are also well represented because this is the city where nearly 50% of the population (yours truly excluded, for now) are writers. And, last, though by no means least, are the various political groups: the ACLU, Pacifica Radio and other fringe groups. Especially radical groups were pleasantly and conspicuously absent.

I was surprised to see John Dean‘s name listed on a panel that was about to start in five minutes, so I lingered to hear what he and the others were going to say. The other panelists were Dennis Loo and Susan Estrich, who neglected to show up.

It proved to be an instructive panel to attend primarily because of the juxtaposition of an eminently rational man like John Dean against a polemicist like Dennis Loo. (The juxtaposition would be instructive were it made with any polemicist, even with Bill O’Reilly.) Such a juxtaposition is the perfect means of demonstrating the intellectual deficiencies of the political fringes. Whether it’s the radical right or the radical left, placing either one next to a man who coolly and civilly advocates the boring, fair and historically proven method of due process vanquishes all doubt regarding whom people need to support politically: the boring guy.

Lest one be tempted to dismiss the boring guy, one must bear in mind that the boring guy here, John Dean, brought down the entire Nixon Presidency. Hence, it is absurd to think that such men are ineffective or otherwise useless in the establishment of an effective government. Quite the contrary, history and the cabal of fanatics that has been in control of the US government since 1994 clearly demonstrate that it is the fanatics that invariably destroy governments and subsequently nations. Hitler, Mussolini, Khomeini, Pol Pot, Karadzic, Mugabe and countless others have proved the destructive force of fanaticism beyond the shadow of any doubt. Yet, we are stuck with fanatics.

And, what do we do against fanatics? Dean admirably argued for the restoration of the processes that have kept fanatics out of the political system and have kept in check the fanatics who managed to enter politics. Loo argued for buying and wearing orange colored products in order to advocate impeachment of Bush and Cheney.

Dean argued that the processes that assert the will of the people and that advocate the interests of the nation need to be restored. Loo asserted that we need a “hero” to fight this battle against the titans of evil who are governing our nation. Dean advocated a practical focus on winning elections. Loo simply asserted that elections are hopeless, and that we have no remedy, though he did offer hope in the form of his book. 

The moderator gave me the microphone, and I asked these men what we, the disenfranchised public, can do to reverse the nation’s course? Loo suggested that I buy orange personal decorations, because it was his brilliant idea to start an “orange campaign” for impeachment. Dean reasserted the fact that the Republicans understand the importance of process enough to have modified it heavily in their favor. He, therefore, advocated that Democrats erase these imbalances while they wield power. Loo did not disagree with this, but all he could advocate was wearing orange and protesting.

Loo also employed fear tactics for no apparent reason. He insisted that the US will attack Iran, that electronic voting machines are hackable and will be hacked, that impeachment is the only answer even if diverts resources from worthwhile causes. Naturally, he offered no real remedy to these doomsday scenarios. An ostensibly educated man, Loo could not offer so much as a notion of a process by which electronic voting machines could be challenged. Fear of the devices was apparently enough for him.

And, that is where I lost my faith in the “left” in American politics. The American “left” differs little tactically from the radical right in American politics. Its tactics consist of fear. Practically, the difference is like night and day. The right, as Dean correctly noted, understands process. It understands power, and it has the desire to wield it. It will go far in corrupting the process, as Hitler did (Dean’s comparison, not mine!), in order to wield absolute power. And, the American “left” responds to this corruption of process with a symbolic orange campaign. In insisting on a “hero” it was almost as if Loo was begging for another Martin Luther to start a new movement, a new government, a new nation.

Heroes are the desire of the hopeless. I have no heros for I have some confidence (still) in my abilities. Dean asked for no heroes because he has been in politics enough to know that process has a far greater impact than the impact that any one “hero” can have. After all, the only difference between democracy and fascism is, in fact, the process. 

Perhaps it’s in keeping with the American tradition of creating a new religious sect or movement when one is not satisfied with one’s innate religion. The American left’s fantasies of revolution (a mantra repeated ad nauseum by the left and the right), however, can never become reality. Freedom of religion enables new religions. The Constitutional system provides little recourse for change outside the Constitution itself. Hence, Dean is absolutely right when he says that it is important to restore and repair the processes of governance, and Loo and his fellow “leftists” are little more than egomaniacal fear mongers who are far more content with selling orange clothing than they are with advocating action. “Turn on, tune in, drop out” is a message that many baby boomers are happy to propagate, albeit from their comfortable tenured positions. And, somehow, they are mystified by the (good) fact that they wield no power.

Ahhh, to be free to think and to act. Neither the left nor the right will ever advocate freedom of thought and expression, for this freedom is inimical to the stupidity that both sides advocate under the headings of objectivism, neo-conservatism, liberalism, communism and, yes, even conservatism. 

6 Replies to “West Hollywood Book Fair”

  1. Fair enough. Nevertheless, you are offering no remedy to hackable machines whose use is getting approved, no remedy to correcting corrupted Congressional processes, and no path to power. This is my blog, not a political movement. The bottom line is that majority in this country is being oppressed by a small minority. This is a place where I can complain about how little impact you have.

    But, if you guys find a path to power, you can rest assured that I will be following it.

  2. You say: “If we cannot hold any of these people accountable for the crimes they have already committed, then it’s just silly to worry about Iran because they will get away with that, too. Again, it boils down to process, just as Dean said. Absent Democratic power, the GOP corrupted the process utterly and made sure that the minority of the Congress (majority of the country) had no power. Absent Democratic spine, the corrupted processes persist. Dean was right in saying that the Democrats are squandering the opportunity to restore fairness into the Congressional processes. And, that’s the problem. You can talk about the impending disaster of Iran all you want, but if there is no process by which we can prevent it, why should we worry?”
    I’m not clear here who you mean by the left. I THINK that you mean to include the Democratic Party and that your frustration with them is that they aren’t trying to hold the GOP accountable.

    If that’s a correct reading, then yes, you are joined in this frustration by tens of millions of Americans – in fact, a majority. But if, as you now reveal, you know that voting machines are eminently hackable and you know that an attack on Iran is in the works, then how can you in good conscience sit by and say that it’s silly to try to stop an attack on Iran and silly to raise the fact that elections are stolen? How can you, knowing as you say that all of these injustices are going on, then justify your initial attack upon me for raising these issues as an example of fear mongering, fanaticism and egomania?

    People who complain about the fact that the Bush White House has been able to get away with what they’ve been doing – such as you say that you are – should not go around attacking those such as myself who are trying to rally people to actually stand up and be counted and resist this. In fact, you should be joining with people like me and quit thinking that you’re doing something effective by sitting in your room, launching invective towards those people who are actually doing something. The fact that you cannot think beyond the box of electoral politics as they exist and the two party system as it exists, and rule out of order the idea that the people could actually act as an independent political force in this scenario speaks to the poverty of your imagination rather than any “fanaticism” on my part.

  3. Dennis,
    I will go so far as to say that you are receiving the brunt of my frustration with both ends of the political spectrum, and especially with the left. It’s not that I disbelieve you in any way. Quite to the contrary, I believe everything you say. It is the fact that your (and the left’s) remedies–and lack thereof–ring hollow and ineffective. And that’s why you and many others on the left end up looking like ones who are just happy speaking. Allow me to reply to your more salient points.

    Electronic voting machines are eminently hackable. I am aware of the Princeton study and the recent study out of UCSB that Debra Bowen neglected anyway. The claims of every manufacturer (especially Diebold) that a paper trail is onerous are completely false. Slot machines in Vegas produce a paper trail for every spin of every machine. Hence, it is possible to have reliable systems. Thus, the problem is exactly one of the sort John Dean described: process. What is the process by which we prevent the state of California from certifying inadequate machines? I am truly flabbergasted by the fact that Debra Bowen was not taken to court for certifying electronic voting machines in California. And, that’s the point. It doesn’t matter if the machines are hackable. If there is no process by which a fair solution can be enforced, then all is lost. This article out of today’s NY Times demonstrates the importance of this point: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/13/us/politics/13voting.html?ref=us How on earth did we get here? How do we get out?

    Will the US attack Iran? I don’t know. There seems to be out and out rebellion in the military right now. Again, two articles out of today’s NY Times demonstrate the point: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/13/washington/13general.html?ref=us
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/14/us/14army.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin
    I completely agree that the people running the White House and Pentagon are morons of the caliber that would initiate an attack on Iran. The problem, however, is the fact that the majority of the country is not feeling outrage over what has already happened over the past four years. The problem is that not enough people are aware of the articles cited above, http://www.911commission.gov, http://www.wmd.gov or any of the documentation of Bush’s incompetence by his own cabinet members (Powell, O’Neil, Paulson, Greenspan)!

    So, who cares if we attack Iran? If we cannot hold any of these people accountable for the crimes they have already committed, then it’s just silly to worry about Iran because they will get away with that, too. Again, it boils down to process, just as Dean said. Absent Democratic power, the GOP corrupted the process utterly and made sure that the minority of the Congress (majority of the country) had no power. Absent Democratic spine, the corrupted processes persist. Dean was right in saying that the Democrats are squandering the opportunity to restore fairness into the Congressional processes. And, that’s the problem. You can talk about the impending disaster of Iran all you want, but if there is no process by which we can prevent it, why should we worry?

    Ultimately, that’s my utter frustration with the left. The left offers no serious remedies. It is not serious about wielding power. It is not serious about restoring process to governance. As Dean said, it is not serious about the boring notions of processes whose corruption led to Hitler’s rise to power. The right, as Dean said, understand this far too well.

    When I was shocked to learn that Angelides was behind Arnold in the last election, I voted for Camejo, proudly. The problem in the US is that the left has no power because it has no desire to wield it. Point the way to power, and I will follow. I need no further convincing of the crimes of the GOP, or speculation of the evils they plan. They have already destroyed the country. At this point, it’s all a matter of taking the country back. And, I’m sorry, wearing orange will have no effect.

    But, perhaps, there is hope that the GOP base is eroding:
    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-beliefs13oct13,1,9234.story?coll=la-headlines-california

    Payam

    PS I’m honored that you responded. I don’t intend to censor legitimate responses. I am, after all, a liberal. PNM

  4. Thank you for posting my comment. I actually do, upon further reflection, have something else to say. I’m a little perplexed by the venomous way you go after me in your posting about the Book Fair. Calling me a “fanatic,” an “egomaniac,” and the claims that I have some kind of fear of electronic voting machines and no answers for them are really over the top. It’s one thing to disagree with someone, but hurling insults is quite another. It’s your blog and you have your right to say what you want, but I must tell you it’s rather hurtful. Before you conclude that I have a fear of electronic voting machines you should check the, by now, quite extensive literature on the fact that these machines are very hackable. It’s extremely easy to do, even the Dept. of Homeland Security admitted this on their own website before the 2004 election and also stated that there was no fix for it. A team at Princeton University demonstrated last year – it’s on YouTube among other places – how easy it was to hack them.

    I have written about this in my essay online “No Paper Trail Left Behind: the Theft of the 2004 Presidential Election” (posted originally at Project Censored in August 2005) and further in Chapter Two of my book, Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney. Let me cite just one item from the very extensive list of items since you appear to think that the notion of stolen elections is just fear mongering:

    “6) Bush far exceeded the 85% of registered Florida Republicans’ votes he got in 2000, receiving in 2004 more than 100% of the registered Republican votes in 24 out of the 67 Florida counties, more than 200% of registered Republicans in 10 counties, over 300% of registered Republicans in 4 counties, more than 400% in 2 counties, and over 700% in one county. Bush’s share of crossover votes by registered Democrats in Florida, however, did not actually increase over 2000 and he lost ground among registered Independents, dropping 15 points. Floridians were just so enthused about Bush and Cheney that they somehow managed to overrule basic math.”

    If you go to my article you will find in the footnotes the full citations for these statements. Please, if you disagree with me and anyone else, stick to the facts and evidence and we’ll see where things come out and leave the calumny aside.

  5. Came across your blog. I actually would happily accept your moniker as a “polemicist” if being a polemicist is your name for a person who is concerned for justice, truth and civil liberties. You state that I was engaging in “fear tactics for no apparent reason.” And that I “insisted that the US will attack Iran, that electronic voting machines are hackable and will be hacked, that impeachment is the only answer….”
    I am rather surprised that you regarded these as outlandish claims. I won’t recommend that you read my extensive analyses of these matters since I suspect that my recommendations to you would go unheeded, but I would suggest that you read the following from Kevin Zeese summarizing the recent remarks of Rep. Olver of Massachusetts on these same matters. Perhaps Rep. Olver’s statements in fundamental agreement with the basic points I was making you will find more credible:

    “Ever wonder why Congress is not holding Bush-Cheney accountable, not using their constitutional power to exercise their authority and impeach the most impeachable executives in our nation’s history? Rep. John Olver (D-MA) has provided a rationale to his constituents that demonstrates how much worse off the country may be then we know.

    “Rep. Olver is no radical in Congress, indeed he is in the leadership of the Democratic Party serving as Senior Whip for the Democratic Caucus. He has served in Congress for 17 years and prior to that served 24 years in the state legislature of Massachusetts. He has a Ph.D. in chemistry from MIT. His website demonstrates that he is a “meat and potatoes” congressman who seems to spend most of his time bringing economic development dollars to his home district. See http://www.house.gov/olver/

    “Congressman Olver, who represents the 1st District (the Stockbridge area) of Massachusetts, was presented with resolutions for impeachment passed by 13 towns in his congressional district by 2/3 margins. In response he vehemently refused to support impeachment because he expressed the opinion that if the Congress impeached the president would attack Iran by air, declare a national emergency institute martial law and cancel the 2008 elections.
    See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIO-tCPSfHA. The video is from a fundraiser for Democracy Rising (www.DemocracyRising.US) held at Bus Boys and Poets in Washington, DC last night.”

    Kevin Zeese

    Director, Democracy Rising

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