Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Reading for a Snowy Day

I'm reminded, suitably by a blog, of the Harvard Classics. Earlier editions are so beautifully bound and printed that your eye will be drawn to them should you find them in a bookstore.

Originally, of course, books were published by subscription and the purchaser had them bound to match the rest of their library. The uniformity is pleasing to the eye and the hand, and American readers may readily avail themselves of three great imprimateurs- the Harvard Classics, the Loeb Classics, and the Modern Library.

There is, in short, no reason to read "graphic novels", or any of the other piffle that overflows the bookstore tables at this time of year. A few of the classics, and a few more candles, will see you through most snow storms and power outages- in style and comfort.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

Fox in the Henhouse

Hey, how great would it be if the right-wing Supreme Court decided Obama couldn't be President, and called on McCain and Palin to assume office? Clarence Thomas, for sure, would support this.

The rest of the nation, not so much. If we had already built the windmills, you could have powered America on the sighs of relief you've been hearing since Obama was elected. Most recent discussions of current events have centered on the question of whether disaster could be staved off until January 21, 2009. Snatching defeat from the very jaws of victory could be an extremely *interesting* move by the Supreme Court at this time.

So, I say, bring it on, baby! Go ahead, try another 'judicial election' and let's see just how far you get this time. But I'm guessing they won't, because I trust them- I trust them to do whatever is prudent to keep their power as Supreme Court justices. Power we would take away from them in a heartbeat if they chose McCain over Obama now.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Opportunity Cost

For the past half century America has had one product everyone in the world wanted to buy, and we could have sold any amount of it- education. Even today this is true, but education has taken a back seat to the War on Drugs and the War on Terror.

States like California and Michigan, once leaders in education and economic powerhouses, now spend more on prisons than they do on schools. Liberals have gone along with this, in spite of the War on Drugs being quite obviously the continuation of segregation.

What the War on Drugs left intact, the War on Terror has ended, as foreign students now find it prohibitively expensive and time-consuming to come to the US to study. But all is not lost! We have at least run the world's largest experiment in mass hysteria and building a modern police state. We can export the latest "non-lethal" weapons for crowd control and tools for snooping on the public.

Even a very dark cloud has a lining of some sort.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

They Got What They Wanted

The big car companies paid big to get George Bush 'elected' and kept paying to get more of what they wanted- big tax breaks for people who bought the kind of trucks and cars that the companies made the most money selling. And the car companies kept paying, through their grants to rightwing thinktanks, to bullshit the rest of us into believing that competition had virtues and that survival of the fittest was chief among them.

Now the chickens have come home to roost. The general public thinks the car companies are out-of-touch dinosaurs that deserve to be swallowed by the tar pits they built.

This disaster isn't something that just 'kinda happened' because American car buyers wanted big cars. It took a full-court press by the Big Three, with tax cuts, no-interest loans, and 24-7 advertising, to persuade Americans to buy as many large cars as they did. If the people have changed their minds now, that's their privilege.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Golden Age That Wasn't

Soft headed Democrats are already hoping that 'real conservatives' will again emerge to offer 'valuable insights and arguments' about public policy.

They never existed. Buckley's 'conservatives' were states-rights apologists for segregation. Go back and read their own words.

Bush was a fraud. His dad was a CIA agent. Reagan was a spokesman for GE. Nixon was a crook. Goldwater was a cracker-barrel philosopher hijacked by the Buckley crowd. As far back as you go, there is no conservatism, just a bunch of corporate lawyers intent on keeping power in the hands of the few. Get back to the 19th century and you have a Republican party spending money as fast as possible to force the federal government to maintain high tariffs for revenue collection purposes.

Nobody even knows what a real conservative might look like. Thomas Mann probably came closest to nailing it with his slippery character Naphta, in The Magic Mountain, who eventually commits suicide. Conservatism always gestures vaguely to a past which, on inspection, turns out not to have existed.

Yearning for 'real conservatives' displays an abysmal ignorance, of history in general and American history in particular. Just shut the fuck up already.

Spare Me

Ok, we have now paid our dues and voted Democratic and now Obama can save a nation that arguably shouldn't be saved. But this ain't the second coming, and I don't need to keep cheering.

For example, over a half million Americans are arrested each year for simple possession of marijuana- a prohibition based on lies that most Americans would like to see ended.

And the Democrats can't do a thing about it. They can't even stop telling the lies, let alone take control of the agencies and make them stop lying. As for putting a bill in the hopper to end the insanity- that'll be the day!

And so it will go over the next four years, as Senator Dodd speaks up to defend Joe Lieberman, and Obama castigates Chavez of Venezuela, and 'clean coal' and 'ethanol' line up at the federal trough.

The Democrats didn't save us, we saved the Democrats, and nothing is surer than the fact that they will eventually forget this and swap a few chairs of power with the Republicans. Because when that happens they don't feel the pain- we do.

Friday, November 7, 2008

No Apologies Needed

For George Bush to become president, the press needed to overlook- or hide- a lot. That he came from a notorious family of thugs, scam artists and swindlers, that he'd been a failure in college and a falling down drunk and went AWOL from his cushy alternate service gig. And pretty much the same was true for John McCain, a personally despicable example of the incompetent military "aristocracy" who get promoted because of their accident of birth.

So when it comes to these Republican scumbags, the much-vaunted scrutiny of the press consists mainly of a Nelsonian holding of the telescope to the blind eye and finding nothing to worry about.

With Obama, though, it's different- 'fine tooth comb' doesn't even begin to describe the scrutiny, and what do you think they found?

That's right, a man who is personally brilliant, with morals well above the average, with a record illustrating his personal habits of hard work and deep reflection. I don't need to agree with him about anything to support him. If the Republicans could have run an Obama, and the Democrats had chosen a McCain, I would have voted Republican.

But that ain't gonna happen, because over the years the Republicans have narrowed their pool to the shallow end. The Democrats, meanwhile, have few skeletons left in their closets. And Obama supporters, in particular, have nothing to worry about.

Dynamic Duo

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Limits of Experience

Fifty years ago Bill Lederer wrote The Ugly American, based on his two decades as a US naval officer in Asia. He believed the US was "losing" Asia because we didn't understand the area and communicated poorly. In a sense he was right- our racial prejudice and the message we communicated of white dominance were ignorant and dysfunctional. But the US did not "lose" Asia, we discarded it when they didn't accept our proposed dictators for their countries. When we recovered from our attempts to rule Asia, we regained much of what we had discarded.

In the interim, of course, we fought two full scale wars and continuously in half a dozen other countries. We made ourselves insane with fear and suspicion, fired and blacklisted all our actual experts about the region, lost 60,000 of our young men to war and 400,000 to Canada, and convinced most Asians that the US was no longer the country of George Washington or democracy. In fact, the entire productive capacity of the Baby Boomers, over their entire lives, was wasted, and we opened the 21st century with nothing more than improved Levittowns and safer Model Ts.

In spite of his years of experience, Lederer was massively wrong. Seen from the vantage point of what we've learned since, it's a painful read.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Oh To Be A Fly On The Wall

It's starting to look like we're going to miss some real boffo humor when McCain loses the election- or be in for the ride of our lives, if he wins.

Imagine, for example, Sarah Palin going to "take charge" of the Senate. My god, what would you give to be a movie-maker with a budget shooting this scene? It would have to be a sort of Rashomon multi-viewpoint narrative to convey the full horror and humor of the experience.

The innocence of Sarah Palin would be charming- if she were still in the third grade. As matters stand, it's just plain scary.

Mutu (L) and Liddy (R)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Basta! Enough Already!

Supposedly we've got big financial problems, and of course we do, but also an opportunity to stop doing stupid stuff.

The problems come from wasting money on the military and the drug wars, failing to provide universal health care and education, and putting all our eggs in a suburban basket. And we'll have these problems as long as we keep doing stupid things.

Because we have Social Security, and some experience pump-priming with Keynesian spending, this depression will be nothing like the last- unless we screw it up. As Jack Belden said, there's still time to die.

Let's start by legalizing pot- the only part of healthcare that has made significant gains in treatments and cost over the past 20 years. Don't come whining to me about public budgets if you're still arresting pot smokers. I just don't want to hear it.

And that goes for the rest of the dumb stuff we're doing. Don't expect me to share your alarm about no money for soldiers or freeways or new aircraft carriers. Just stop it already, and start doing something smart. It's long overdue.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Why Are We Even Having This Discussion?

The NYT will ask again this morning about John McCain's medical records. Hey, the guy is collecting $54,000 a year of medical disability as a veteran. Is this a fraudulent claim, or, as seems equally plausible, is he actually disabled and over the hill? Either answer should mean 'No electoral victory for you, John'. Why are we even having this discussion?

As for Sarah Palin, a cursory exam reveals she's a trainwreck of populist palaver, incompetence, and delirious dialogue that rarely flirts with reality. Why are we even having this discussion?

The answer, of course, lies in America's 'elites'. They created the poisonous pool that spewed out McCain and Palin as one of the choices. Like the man who bought a pit bull pup, the elites now need to choose- put the McCain campaign to rest, or watch the country fail?

And the saddest part is, that, for the wealthiest among us, this is a really hard choice. That says so much.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Hindenberg and Hitler

By now we're all pretty sick of Sarah Palin. She's just another comment on McCain's unreadiness to be President, and this may be what saves us in the end- the realization by "conservatives" that McCain's upbringing and mental degeneration have resulted in the most corrupt and self-serving attempt to grab the Presidency of our history.

So, buckle your seatbelts. At the bottom line the election is about race, and whether a Republican party that has depended on racism to win elections for 40 years can pull it off one more time. Either way, the Republicans lose.

What the Rs haven't realized yet is that if they win, they really lose. In that event, McCain, depending on the people who looted Wall Street, will attempt to govern, while Palin will attempt to seize power. McCain is obviously unhinged, Palin is a fascist, and the institutions that might maintain a semblance of governance have been corrupted by Bush. This would not be a pretty sight to watch.

If she brings you brownies, John, be afraid- be very afraid.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Enough Already

Should we rush to shore up the economy so we can build more freeways and pump more carbon in the atmosphere? You might think the answer is "Obviously not", but a lot of people don't realize that is exactly what a bail-out bill is going to do.

We're not hitting a speed-bump here, we've gone past the end of the road. The American Empire is dead already, it just ain't laid down yet. Our credit is bad because we doubled the national debt in seven years. Our Army is broken and our "leaders" are drooling mad-dogs who have alienated everyone else in the world who can read.

Business as usual is over, and some serious market losses are just what you would expect to see now. They will continue until our economy is put on a sound peace-time renewable energy basis with good jobs, affordable housing, and universal healthcare. What would be wrong would be if that were not the case.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

You Have GOT To Be Kidding

Maybe this is kinda insider baseball stuff, but it turns out that if you look closely at the Rick Davis axis of campaign managering, the McCain campaign, chronically short of cash, has been cheating itself. Kind of like a kleptomaniac walking through his own house and pocketing stuff.

And how did that work out?

"One senior McCain adviser said the entire flap could have been avoided if the campaign had resisted attacking Barack Obama for his ties to two former Fannie Mae executives, which prompted the media to take a second look at Davis. 'It was stupid,' the adviser said. 'A serious miscalculation and an amateurish move.'"

Friday, September 26, 2008

That Didn't Take Long

The Republican argument now is that, no matter how much experience Obama gets, or what he accomplishes, or how much he knows, there's something about him that means he will never be as qualified as Sarah Palin to be President.

Gee, I wonder what that "something" could be?

Well, I've heard a duck fart underwater before. That "something" is the fact that he's black. They're racists, and deserve to be called racists. Don't try that argument on me, Mr. Republican, or I'll give you a mouthful.

Out Here in the Third World...

Yes, Sarah Palin is ignorant and quite possibly aphasic. But remember, she's a cultural fit for a third-world country like the US, where people believe in witches, take orders from their church, and think Eva Peron still lives.

Over the past eight years especially, we've become third-world. We export commodities. Half of our land is owned by 1% of the people. There's always twenty countries better than us on healthcare, nutrition, housing, or education, and usually more like 40 countries if you measure that many.

In spite of living in urbanized areas, we're not an industrialized democracy anymore. McCain is a clumsy emulation of the military dictator who seizes power and Palin is his wacky Peron sidekick, the American version of the Catholic church in South America that supports the oligarchy. And we're well on the road to being as poor as Brazil and Argentina have been for two centuries. It may seem funny to watch, but it's also a very serious business.

The Palin Plan For Prosperity

The Plan: Take $26 million of somebody else's money and build a road to a spot, far from the bright lights, where teenagers can park. Provide teens with cars but no contraception. Hilarity ensues, along with drinking, drugs, sex, babies, slasher movies, or perhaps- all of the above.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Doin' The Short Form

It's becoming obvious that the Bush gang, far from trying to "shore up the markets", was trying to pull off the biggest bear move in history- to scare the markets into total failure by saying that unless $700 billion was provided immediately our financial system would crash. With a neat little provision enclosed giving Paulson absolute power and immunity from the law, they were trying to spook the herd.

Kevin Drum found the neat chart about bailouts, and links to details at the original source.

You will note that John McCain was involved in the S&L swindle as a co-conspirator, that his campaign manager collected over $2 million from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for his work defeating regulation and oversight, and as Chairman of the Commerce Committee McCain was directly involved in the wrong legislation and oversight that resulted in the other financial failures. Probably nobody else in the US can claim to have been so directly involved in every major financial disaster of the past twenty years. You're doing a heckuva job, Johnnie.

Monday, September 22, 2008

It's Not A 'Tragic Mistake'

At the end of the Vietnam War Americans began referring to it as a 'tragic mistake'. It was not a 'mistake', it was an unprovoked attack on democratic government that degenerated into a pogrom with the intent of murdering Vietnamese society by bombing.

And the current debacle is not a 'crisis', it is a robbery in progress. A hundred years ago every major railroad in the country was pulling the same scam; the victims then were the small shareholders. Since then, the taxpayers have become the small shareholders, now expected to gratefully cough up a trillion dollars so the upper classes can rest assured that things will continue unchanged. It's disaster capitalism come home to roost, and we're about to take another big slide down to third world status. To us, it's a crisis, to them, it's Christmas.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

We're So Over That

The Vietnam War was a chance to burn off the WW II surplus ordnance and keep the Baby Boomers off the labor market. When those goals were accomplished and the war looked like a mid-term political disaster for Nixon's second term, it was over, or rather, reduced to a political vendetta called the Drug War.

The war in Iraq was about contracts, munitions sales, and making George Bush a war hero and dictator. Mission accomplished, except for that "hero" part. The war that our war economy and the Republicans need doesn't need to be in any specific place. Time to 'move on'.

When asked how he felt about leaving Iraq, a British trooper said "What's the fucking difference? They'll just send us off to fight some other bloody war."

And that's the bottom line.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What Are They Taking?

Apparently the Republicans have been huffing until they're ready to sail off the edge of the world.

According to McCain, electing a black man President would be just more of the same, but electing an old white millionaire male President would be exciting change.

What kinds of drugs is he on, anyway?

And Sarah Palin thinks electing an experienced and capable Senator for VP would be just more of the same, but electing a lying small-town sack-of-shit "Christian" demagogue, the kind of person we moved to the city to escape from, would be exciting change.

At the bottom line, the Rs are hoping their racist war-mongering "Christianity" will carry them over the finish line one more time, and to hell with the good of the country. It's not a very inspiring message.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I was about to say that McCain now has a bunch of 'supporters' who are wishing for his speedy death (after he wins the election, natch), but, as immortalized in the Slog, one of McCain's 'Christian' supporters has already said it.

Here's mud in your eye, John!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Bunch of Damn Lies

Republicans say that Sarah Palin working as Governor is just the same as Hillary Clinton. Except, of course, Clinton's daughter is in one of the best British colleges, and Palin's daughter, still in high school, is pregnant. There'll be a wedding soon, when they find the shotgun.

Common sense would declare "Game over" right here, but because we're being told not to discuss Palin's family life, I'm going to say we have a duty to discuss Palin's family life. She wants to make birth control illegal and "abstinence" the only sex ed taught in the schools. That is to say, she wants to spend public money paying religious groups to push their failed doctrines in the public schools. So much wrong here.

She ran for mayor on the platform that right-wing Christians should be able to deny everyone else in town their civil liberties. One of her first acts as Mayor was to demand the resignations of all city department heads, to prove their loyalty to her. She didn't understand that their loyalty, in fact, should be to the citizens, the town charter, and the U.S. Constitution, in whatever order, but not to the Mayor.

If I had been asked to name, say, 80 million people who could be the next Vice President of the US, Sarah Palin would not have been on that list.

And we have a right to ask- do you think high school girls should become pregnant? If not, why are you pushing a program that guarantees that result? If you do, why did you slash funding to a residential center for pregnant and new mom teens? Or are you just a bad parent, somebody who should be getting counseling from the social services of Alaska?

These are just a few of the questions we have a right, and a duty, to ask.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Oh Noes!

Rumors circulate that McCain is thinking of dumping Palin...shortest 'office romance' in recorded history.

Dear God, let this not be true. Give McCain the courage of his convictions...oh, right. This is 'Flip-flop McCain' we're talking about.

Well, a guy can dream...

Let Me Just Say This About That....

Bwaahahahaha!!! OMG!!! ROFLMAO!!!

Bypassing Collins, Snow, Dole, or Condoleeza Rice, McCain has chosen a comely dame who will sit "at the foot of the master", a direct quote from the McCain campaign. Editorial cartoonists wept when Dan Quayle passed from the scene, but in this case the humor has entirely outstripped the ability to make fun.

Let's compare this with John Kennedy's choice of Lyndon Johnson, a person Kennedy did not particularly like, but who went on to win enactment of Medicare, the Civil Rights Act, and Head Start.

McCain may have, with one stroke, made it impossible for the right-wing media and the combined millionaires of America to buy his election. Yup, he's a maverick, all right. And he just stuck a horn deep in the cowboy's horse. Git along, little dogie!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Tarbabies

Quietly, last week, the US attached itself to the central tarbaby of western civilization- Poland. For centuries Poland has been at the epicenter of disaster in foreign affairs. Traditionally incapable of governing itself, the Poles have repeatedly invited invasions and sparked wars.

As if being in Afghanistan weren't enough! Our money, supplied lavishly to terrorists and warlords in Afghanistan during the 80s, paid to destroy the elements (educated people, women, schools, clinics) that formerly made Afghanistan the most advanced society in the region. Now we're supposedly there until we make it all better. Like that's going to happen.

All that's needed now to complete the trilogy of doom is an open-ended commitment to some nation in the Balkans- right, been there, done that, got the permanent base in Macedonia and the drug-smuggling white slavers of Albania on our side. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

You Don't Need To Read Marx...

...thank God, to see that the Chinese revolution of 1949 was not communist. One clue would be the strong lead exercised by the peasant class, not by the urban proletariat.

In reality, the 'revolution' of 1949 was a counter-revolution against the 1911 revolution led by Sun Yat-Sen. The 1911 revolution, quite possibly led by ex-pat Chinese businessmen, opened China to a disastrous 40 years of plunder by foreign powers. The counter-revolution led by Mao sought to close China to the pirates and restore the integrity- political and cultural- of the Chinese nation. This counter-revolution was finally defeated when Nixon restored American relations with China in the early seventies.

While the Chinese merchants have at all times been strongly international in trade relations, the Chinese empire, by the 13th century, had decided against outward expansion. The Chinese economy looked inwards, to the Grand Canal, which carried surplus rice in a good year to Beijing, and in a bad year distributed to the provinces from the reserves in Beijing.

The revolution won, but it was the revolution of 1911 that won- the revolution of modernization and the adaptation of the Chinese state to the mechanisms of international trade. Certainly since 1970 the rulers of China have been no more 'communist' than you or I- as convenient as it may have been to them, and the scaremongers of American society, to preserve the fiction.

Friday, August 22, 2008

What A Racket

In order to 'win' the drug wars, we need to pay police enough that they can't be bribed- certainly, two to three times as much as the average taxpayer makes. But the value of the police against drugs is zero for us, and immense for the criminal rackets who depend on drugs being illegal to keep them in business.

For the police, it's a win-win-win scenario. A wealthy alternative employer is created to bid for their services, and hey, why not work for both at the same time. Given their huge financial stake in the outcome, they shouldn't be allowed to take part in the discussion at all. If there's anything to be learned from their statistics, that can be learned by independent scholars.

Who always, in the past, have supported legalization (Indian Hemp Commission, 1998, Panama Canal Zone Study, 1927, La Guardia Report, 1943, Schaeffer Commission, 1973, US Public Health Association, 1995).

Fire-beathing Cat-dragon Time

Mutu attempts to move be continued.....

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Do The Math

Ok, let's do the math.

The US has a GDP of *about* $15 trillion. If we were to end the drug wars ($50 billion) and cut the actual war spending (over $600 billion) in half, and reduce our national health care bill from about 15% of our GDP to about 10% of our GDP by socializing medicine, a la France or Germany, we would have about $1 trillion in hand annually for investment in renewable energy, urban renewal, and electric transit- about 8% of our GDP.

And this is an amount we are already spending annually on stuff of no value. The only downside here is the emotional immaturity of the American people. If we kept spending the money, but on valuable stuff, the people who were making bombs could find jobs making windmills. The products may be rocket science, but the economics aren't.

And even this would not be full employment, or the most good stuff we could produce. Women, people of color, and the elderly are unemployed and under-employed. The potential expansion of our economy if people could just work as much as they want to work is almost unimaginable- to us.

Don't believe me? Do your own research and check it out. And then start trying to think of ways you can be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

No "Regime Change" For Me, Thank You

When it comes to Iran, the word is all "regime change".

Are we effing nuts? Iran is like 70 million people who have elections and throw the bums out. IOW, the only functional democracy between the Phillipines and Turkey. You want to exchange that for a dictator, like in Pakistan, or Saudi Arabia, or Egypt? Getting nervous about that democracy idea?

Our postwar policy of coups, assassinations, and military aid has filled the world with unstable dictatorships and weapons. Adding Iran to the list won't solve anything.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Liddy (r) is trying to make Mutu jump down from the high shelf.....

Yeah, That'll Work

It's the third hot day in a row, about 90. My mail server has failed, the voice mail at the ISP has failed (maybe the whole PBX), and the internet servers and connectivity are failing fast.

And some people think a temperature change of a few degrees isn't going to matter much. Wake up! Smell the coffee!

It's going to matter a lot.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

McCain's Staff- Agents of Foreign Powers

So, it seems the president of the central Asian country of Georgia has been taking foreign policy advice from John McCain's chief foreign policy advisor. That certainly worked out well for him. Not.

Honestly, you really can't make this stuff up.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Are We There Yet?

The "war on terror" reminds me of Yogi Berra driving with his wife, and telling her that "we're lost, but we're making good time".

And really, who hasn't done that. But now we learn that the 'watch list' of the TSA has grown to over a million names because- who knew?- terrorists will also use false names. So, on to the list must go, not only the names of Abdul Gonna Killyu, but also his false identities of Ima Hogg and Yura Ful. In fact, it turns out that eventually you must list everybody, because, gee, you just never know.

This insanity is the logical follow-on to our 'war on drugs', which has created not only the largest 'drug problem' of any nation, but also the largest prison population. At this rate, we'll be there in no time.

We're lost, but we're making good time. And to an American, that's all that really matters.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Criminal Gang

At the end of the Vietnam War the US Army stood abashed and dismayed, destroyed as a fighting force by their reckless adventurism, the ranks filled with soldiers who would as soon shoot their officers as the enemy.

The soldiers took the brunt of the criticism, but the higher up you went, the less discipline was displayed. Lieutenants rotated through for career reasons, coming and going so quickly that only the non-coms actually knew how to fight, colonels and majors jockeyed for perfect records in jobs that might lead to generalship, and the generals cooked the books, lied to the Congress and the public, and subsequently insisted that this stinking mess of corruption would have "won" if they hadn't been "stabbed in the back" by the American public and their strategic commander, Richard Nixon. In reality there was no reason to be there- we left, and no dominoes fell.

Today, new cooks are re-concocting this toxic stew, with a piquant added fillip, George Bush firing any general who disagrees with him, while he solemnly swears he's just "listening to the generals". The enlisted ranks are filled with rapists- over a quarter of our women in uniform report being assaulted by a fellow soldier- and the officers are engaged in an equally insubordinate assault on the American tradition of civilian control of the military. To be blunt, the officers are afraid to discipline criminals in their ranks- it might jeopardize their careers.

This isn't an army, it's a loose collection of criminal gangs who will not deserve our respect until discipline is re-established. Sympathize with their victims, the 60,000 soldiers who have returned home as casualties, but when the crisply uniformed soldier appears, hold your applause- they're probably lying to you. They've earned our contempt by repeated crimes and, like any criminal, need to rehabilitate themselves to earn our respect. It's just that simple.

Urban 'Renewal'- Not A Victimless Crime

The San Francisco Chronicle reports on how black people were robbed by "urban redevelopment". Property values were low in black neighborhoods, because you couldn't get a loan to buy property there. This would trigger "redevelopment", a process in which, in the Fillmore district of San Francisco, resulted in 5000 homes being destroyed, and over 800 businesses. Not reported in this article are the decades of vicious crime that killed hundreds, maimed thousands, and undoubtedly introduced tens of thousands to prostitution and drugs. Could there be a more effective way to destroy the family and breed crime?

In the years that followed, the "redevelopment agency" spent $50 million "redeveloping" the area, of which probably about $47 million went to white people. Multiply this example by every city over 100,000 in the US in 1950, and it's easy to see why the white people are in the executive suites and the black people are in prison.

Perhaps the most surprising fact reported here is that this sprang from a law passed in 1948, a time when there were no "blighted" neighborhoods. IOW, this was a land-grab from the git-go, perpetrated by the gangster city "governments" so ably described by Raymond Chandler, and bluntly aimed at the little guy and people of color. That's our history- learn it, or be doomed to repeat it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Why It's Over

In about 1992 the wheels really fell off the Soviet Union, leaving the US as the one great world hegemon. Has anything like this ever happened before? Well, of course it has...

At the end of the Seven Years War, known to Americans as the French and Indian Wars, Great Britain won big. The French were decisively vanquished and withdrew from Canada. The colonists developed the distinct feeling that they did not need the British to "protect" them. Protect us from what? they asked. Certainly not from the Indians, with whom the British actively partnered to confine the colonists east of the Allegheny Crest.

And today, any thinking person would be asking, from what is the US protecting us? In the simplest of language, the US is more likely to be the threat than to protect anyone against a threat.

It's not crunch time yet, but the existential moment has been created.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Like one who durst not turn his head...

Lest, behind, some loathesome monster tread....

It's plain now that Bush and Cheney decided to torture some people snatched at random and confined in our prisons, until they yielded false confessions that could be used in show trials.

But that wasn't really the plan. The plan was that Bush would be the 'dummy' while Cheney and the gang robbed the country blind. Bush wouldn't profit while in office, but, as in every other part of his previous life, he would be showered with gifts by the other gang members after leaving office.

They didn't worry about the reconstruction of Iraq, because they never intended to see democracy there anyway. The military failures, to them, are simply an opportunity to assert that Iraq 'needs' our troops to 'maintain order'.

In fact, the attack on 9/11 was, to them, a complication in an otherwise smoothly flowing plan. Suddenly the American people wanted them to catch some real bad guys, and their response was typical- "We'll just make some bad guys". A show of force in Afghanistan, the purchase of some captives from warlords, a prison quickly set up in Guantanamo, and they could get back to the real work- stealing oil and making the world a more dangerous place, so we would always need to purchase more weapons (and contracted services) from their companies. You don't need complicated theories to explain the facts we see- just the courage to see the facts.

Lynndie England is not the problem. George Bush and Dick Cheney are the problem.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sherwood Anderson's Dream

Recently my mom ran into a chum from my early childhood, who had subsequently spent his life working for an oil company in California, and was now retiring to a home he'd just purchased in Puget Sound.

Yes, that's right, having spent a lifetime helping oil fuel the suburbs that have ruined Puget Sound, he's now retiring on a generous pension to a relatively unspoiled corner of the world that he did nothing to help preserve.

I, on the other hand, refused to believe in a career apart from community. Seattle was my home, and comparing Seattle in 1970 with the Seattle of today, I rest my case.

Sherwood Anderson, curiously, had something to say about this, in about 1930-

"I want men and women who, at any physical cost to themselves, will continue to refuse to work as we understand the word 'work'...[with] such physical energy loose among us, we may begin to do some of the things that now seem entirely out of our reach. We may begin to make towns, houses, books, pictures, even cities that have beauty and meaning...So you see I want a body of healthy young men and women to agree to quit working, to loaf, to refuse to be hurried or try to get on in the world- in short, to become intense individualists. Something of the sort must happen if we are ever to bring color or flair into our modern life."

*Fortunately*, modern capitalism is helping with that 'not working' thing, as steady employment continues to fall and corporations evolve to the lifespan of a fruit fly. Hopefully the future will see less people thinking, like my gradeschool chum, that a life of toil for the corporation will make his world a better place. We've had quite enough of that already.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Dramatically Worse Off

Thomas Pogge reports in Dissent Magazine that

"The United States is fairly typical here: households in the top 1 percent of the income hierarchy expanded their share of national pre-tax income from 9 percent to 21.2 percent since 1979. The bottom eight deciles sustained corresponding losses. The bottom five deciles collectively declined from 26.4 percent to 12.8 percent of national consumption expenditure."

IOW, if your household income is below about $44,000 per year, since 1979 you have lost more than half of your share of the national goods and services then. Let's translate a little more-you have lost transit, you have lost public parks and good education, you have fallen dramatically behind in healthcare, what you actually get is about a half of what you would get for being the same person in Norway or Japan. And the process of losing ground that has gobbled the substance of the poor has been accelerating.

They tell alcoholics that the first step in beating the problem is to recognize they have a problem. I'm guessing the same thing is true for nations, too.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

EK (Evening Kitten- l) and Libby (r)

A Brief History of Murder Incorporated

With the 'closing of the frontier', the US entered the 20th century with murderous and rapacious impulses that could no longer be sated by killing and stealing from the domestic population. Campaigns in Cuba, the Philippines, and throughout Central America absorbed some of this energy, but in the wake of WW II our thieves and murderers saw opportunities that the American people would not support, and so the CIA was born.

The initial impulse of the CIA was to work with gangsters and mafias. Mafias, with a little help from their friends, are self-supporting engines of destruction, reliably rendering self-government impossible. With funds from the French Connection, democracy in northern Italy was prevented, and the pattern of using narco-trafficker money to fight democracy was repeated in SE Asia, Afghanistan, and Colombia.

American policy always favored supporting dictatorships, however, and in the mid-80s a rogue, and quite literally insane, hidden policy of supporting death squads began to vie with supporting mafias. As effective as death squads were at killing hundreds of thousands of people, they posed the risk that self-government might arise even in a death-squad nation.

The solution was, in retrospect, obvious- combine the death squads with the narco-traffickers, as we now see in Colombia, where Uribe rules in cahoots with the paramilitaries, and "wins" elections by having the opposition murdered.

But what of Iraq? There we have a two-pronged strategy, of Albanian and Georgian mafias trafficking the widespread misery of the Balkans, the middle east, and through to Afghanistan, and the death squad approach favored when the need to prevent self-government exceeds the ability of contraband traffic to disorganize the state. A further complication is that the substance most widely smuggled in Iraq is oil, which the US actually wants to openly monopolize, thus making self-defeating the normal tendency to finance social disintegration by contraband trafficking. Another complication is that the forces of "morality", usually harnessed in the service of reactionism , and in creating prohibitions that are necessary to stimulate a contraband traffic- in Iraq and Iran these forces of "morality" are opposed to the US.

Meanwhile, "back at the ranch", American Drug Prohibition ensures that, whatever the outcome in foreign lands, gangsterism will continue to erode our own ability to govern ourselves. Sic transit gloria.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

From the Trinity to Unitarianism

Some years ago I took a social work survey course taught by Scott Brier, then dean of the U of W School of Social Work. He emphasized to us that social workers believed there were three "great institutions", the Family, the Church, and the State, so firmly and long established as not, in their basic structures, to be challenged.

That was then, this is now. More children are now born out of wedlock in the US than are blessed by holy matrimony, and that's just the beginning- everybody divorces and then remarries, creating numerous mixes and remixes. The nuclear family, if it ever existed, if it ever should have existed, is toast.

Nor is support for the church that solid. It seems that if you ask people how much they drive, instead of whether they attend church, you get a church-going population that always walks to church- or a whole bunch of people who don't get out on Sunday as often as they think they do.

For better or worse, it looks like- maybe not too long from now- there will be only one Great Institution- the state. And won't that be fun.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

How Old Is The Earth?

Well, consider the marijuana plant. When the sun disappears, as it will when an asteroid hits the earth, and prays millions of tons of dust into the atmosphere, the marijuana plant panics, thinks it will never find a spouse, and becomes a hermaphrodite in order to have little marijuana plants and save the species.

That's called evolution, and it didn't happen all at once. An asteroid, or a supervolcano, blanked out the sun, and most of these plants died. Then a million years passed, and it happened again. Tens of millions of years passed, producing a small number of events that blocked out the sun.

And eventually- adapting to events that only happen once in ten million years- the marijuana plant became evolved. Turn out the lights for a week and you get hermaphrodite plants.

That's how old the earth is.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

How McCarthyism Works

"We were trying to get signatures on a petition that a [freeway] wouldn’t go through Washington Square. This was in the 50s and we set up a table with petitions near the park and asked everybody who came by and was enjoying the park if they would sign. And so many people wouldn’t sign. We’d say, "Well, you don’t want a road through here, do you?" No, they didn’t want a road through there, but "You don’t know who else might be signing. It might be dangerous to sign." Sometimes a husband would tell a wife."

That's Jane Jacobs, in an interview with Jim Kunstler describing how McCarthyism cows us.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Brilliant, Absolutely Brilliant

So, the US has been building dozens of bases in Iraq- you know, airfields, bunkers, command posts, barricades, etc...

Of course, should we be forced out of Iraq, somebody else could use those bases....

Real cats love to wade...

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Sad Fact Is...

.....even if those oil reserves at the North Pole were filled with Bunker Crude, we can't use them. We're in the position of the former smoker who gets a carton of cigarettes for Christmas or the former alcoholic who finds a case of Scotch stashed away in the basement.

And the prices are never coming down. You knew that already because, for pete's sake, we're talking oil companies here, but even a government of Socialists and Greens would have no choice but to keep the prices high.

It's save-the-planet time. The long party is over. One way or another, there will be some changes around here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

No Winston Churchill He

Bush supporters like to compare Bush to Winston Churchill. When you've recovered from your laughter at this, we'll look at what the real Winston Churchill said.

In 1943, when Home Secretary Morrison decided to release the British fascist Moselys, Churchill, in a memo to the Home Secretary, supported this decision with these words: "The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him judgement by his peers for an indefinite period, is in the highest degree odious, and is the foundation of all totalitarian governments...It is only when extreme danger to the state can be pleaded that this power may be temporarily assumed by the Executive, and even so its working must be interpreted with the utmost vigilance by a Free Parliament....As the danger passes, persons so imprisoned... should be released...Nothing can be more abhorrent to democracy than to imprison a person or keep him in prison because he is unpopular. This is really the test of civilisation." (Appendix F of Volume V of Winston S Churchill's The Second World War)

That's the real Winston Churchill- not a man determined to seize all power by the issuing of secret ultimatums suspending habeus corpus on the flimsiest of pretexts, but a man determined that any power granted by a Free Parliament (his emphasis) for irregular detention should be always monitored by that Free Parliament, and repealed, not when all danger had passed, but when the extreme danger had passed.

Winston Churchill- a man for the ages. George Bush- not so much.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Enough Already

The P-I today has another article saying we shouldn't turn to the proven advantages of socialized medicine, we should trust in innovation, competition, and the American Way- the same blather we've been listening to in every sphere for forty years.

Let's be perfectly clear- this doesn't work. Our lifespan is falling, gas prices are rising, the economy is failing, even the end of the world is on the horizon of our American Way.

Enough already. Stop with the cleverness. I don't even want to hear it. There are parts of the world where they're getting it right, and that's who we need to copy. What we've been doing isn't just failing a few people, it's a juggernaut of self-satisfaction on a collision course with reality. When you hear the bell, it means one thing, and one thing only- ALL ASTERN, FULL REVERSE.

Well, what we're hearing now is the bell.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Crisis

Recent American history has certainly looked a lot like Nazi Germany. When you add to the concentration camps, domestic spying, torture, and naked aggression on flimsy pretexts, the actual familial linkage of George Bush to the Hitler regime, it's tempting to think in that wise.

But lately I've been seeing more pre-war Japan. Pre-war Japan was driven by a mix of the desire to preside over a Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere, a need for the markets of China, and a sort of societal psychosis channeled over decades by the influence and example of foreign powers into the Army and Navy.

The crisis, however, came with the Oil Embargo of 1941, when the British, Dutch, and Americans shut off Japan's oil supplies. Japan began using her strategic reserves and in the pressure of events became totally unhinged and attacked the US.

Maybe now you can see the similarities too.

Sick Humour

You know you're in mighty sick territory when George Bush welcomes global warming, because it makes it possible to drill for oil in areas that once were covered by the Arctic ice.

Psychiatrists should probably be adding new chapters to the DSMs to describe the insanity of Bush and his enablers. The old categories of "florid psychosis" hardly seem adequate to the end of the world as we know it.

Friday, May 2, 2008

In All Probability...

...any history of the world, written in the late twenty-first century, by one of the few survivors of global warming, and intended to be enshrined in a time capsule for whoever comes in the future to read, will begin:

"When, after the 'election' of George Bush in the US in the year 2000, it became evident that the US would not participate to limit global warming, China also turned away from Kyoto Treaty goals, and carbon emissions shot upwards..."

If It's Friday...

Thursday, May 1, 2008

They Lived In The Past

The "plan", as Bush and Cheney saw it, was simple- invade Iraq, install a gangster as a dictator, sign some sweetheart oil contracts, and pump oil happily ever after. Wasn't that the way the US had always done things?

That's right, these morons are so stupid that they don't even realize that's not the way the US has always done things- and I'm not being an idealist here, just observing that installing a dictator to sign sweetheart contracts has always been more complicated than the circle jerk of Bush and friends realized.

Yes, these "leaders" are so lazy, self-centered, spoiled, arrogant, nasty, greedy- and that's not all- that they just didn't realize how much work was done by the little people they despise to install and maintain oligarchs like the Shah of Iran, Pinochet, etc.

They couldn't have done it without boobus Americanus, the big-bellied breed leaning forward to swill up the propaganda blaring from the "news channel", and feeling they were doing their part when they slapped a magnetic ribbon on their Fartmobile, tied a flag to the antenna, and headed for the mall, shouting patriotic responses to the drivel of Limbaugh on their radio.

It is of them we sing, as we celebrate this day the biggest policy mistake, made by the worst president, for the basest of motives, using the most criminal of techniques, in the history of the US.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Two Big Mistakes

George Bush and Adolf Hitler have at least one thing in common- two big empire-ending mistakes. Really dumb ones.

In Hitler's case, it was the idea that Germany needed to invade the grain-producing plains of Poland. Being a moron, Hitler did not realize that the strongest economy in Europe did not need to invade Poland, they could simply buy the grain. Hitler learned nothing from finding that this initial mistake had resulted in war with England; he repeated the mistake two years later in invading Russia and, thus, sealing his doom.

George Bush's mistake was in going to war for oil, in the decade that the world begins to transition off oil. "The stone age did not end because they ran out of stones, and the oil age won't end because we run out of oil." Like Napoleon, the Bush mistake is so thoroughly intermixed with pure larceny that it becomes at times difficult to determine to what extent he's wrong, and to what extent a gangster, but, either way, it's wrong. At the bottom line being a gangster is no smarter than being a moron. Hitler and Bush were and are both.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sunday, April 13, 2008

What Goes On Here?

Now the US is backing Maliki, the Iranian cats-paw in Iraq.

Be afraid, very afraid. Not because the Bushies are improbably Machiavellian and moronic in the same reality, but because Democratic Senators really don't get it. They don't understand that Maliki is the Iranian choice for Iraq, and they concede that they think the "surge" has worked.

These are men and women with staffs, libraries, sources of information, and the influence to get more of all those things if they need them. The average guy with an internet connection can form a better opinion about what's happening in Iraq than our Senators. That can't be a good thing, in any dimension.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Monday, April 7, 2008

Can't Make This Up Department

So Bill Gates wants to improve education by introducing competition and the "magic of the marketplace".

That's right- that Bill Gates. The guy who achieved a monopoly position in the software market and has used his financial clout to pre-load a substandard Windows on every computer sold for the past fifteen years.

But this time things will be different, he swears. He's a philanthropist, not a businessman in this role, and when it comes to decisions that affect somebody else's life, he's all in favor of competition.

'Twas ever thus.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Can't Make This Stuff Up

In one week Clinton asks us who we want answering the phone at three in the morning. In the next week she tells us she "misremembered" her Bosnia trip because she was 'sleep-deprived'.

I don't know who I want to answer that phone at three in the morning, but I've got a pretty good idea of who I don't want to be answering the phone. Just no telling what she would say.

Keeping Track of the Looting

In their last year the Bush gang is going to try to loot the US, and they're making a good start at it. Let's review the past week-

On Wall Street, another $100 billion for financiers who "lost" money, that is to say, for the money-managers who got performance bonuses while their customers actually found their money was missing.

In Oregon, the environmental laws will be cancelled so the BLM can "sell" thousands of acres of protected timber. Guess what, each "sale" costs the taxpayers money.

In Washington DC the FCC is preparing to give away the major media markets to the industry moguls who can best establish a monopoly in each area.

On another front, the Bushies are preparing another raid on the Social Security funds. After all, the billion a week they're spending on their friends at Blackwater and Halliburton has to come from somewhere.

Well, that's some of the news from one week of the looting. It's going to be a long year, a very long year indeed.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Not That Complex

Why is the US facing a jihad? Well, since 1945 the US has been killing foreign labor leaders, journalists, and liberal politicians. Working with, or for, the foreign dictators who will do what American corporations want, we pretty much wiped out the secular opposition.

Iran is the model here. The Shah pretty much killed all the secularists who opposed him, leaving only the true-blue Muslims. Hey presto! theocratic state.

It's not rocket science, people. In fact, being so good with rockets is probably one reason that, like Hitler and Tojo, we got "too big for our britches". And now we're about to lose our pants trying to save face.

Friday, March 21, 2008