Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Once Upon A Time, Products Couldn't Read Their Own Labels...

The act (or result of the act) of transforming human properties, relations and actions into properties, relations and actions of man‑produced things which have become independent (and which are imagined as originally independent) of man and govern his life. Also transformation of human beings into thing‑like beings which do not behave in a human way but according to the laws of the thing‑world. Reification is a ‘special’ case of ALIENATION, its most radical and widespread form characteristic of modern capitalist society.


via

There are those who prefer to buy only 'brand names'. This is understandable: symbol-standard-quality. But when Mattel contracts for cut-rate production overseas, the brand reputation is devalued. This too is easy to understand.

It is harder, it seems, for us to understand that the same thing applies to the stock market.

Excuse me; I never went to college, so it isn't incumbent on me to pretend I understand Marx or find him old hat. But it seems to me that much of ye olde post-modernism was just slightly dressed-up Marxist thought.

Or something. Whatever the brand name 'Marxist' still means.

Or, to quote the increasingly irresistibly quotable William Gibson:

"You know what really worried me about Second Life? Is that after I'd spent maybe like four or five hours checking it out last December, I was walking around in the Christmas shopping crowds here, and every so often I would see somebody from Second Life walking down the street. There are people, always well under 30, who look like they've escaped from Second Life."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Bastard Makes Sense

via

"In the appointment of Hillary Clinton, he has proved as well that he is a supple thinker, capable of changing his views according to experience. To elevate the junior senator from New York into his Cabinet, Obama had to set aside the criticisms of her that he and his surrogates had voiced during the campaign.

"If her experience in national security and foreign policy were as shallow as advertised back then, after all, on what basis could he offer her the position of top diplomat? If her judgment were as poor as charged by him and others over the past two years, then why would he place such heavy responsibilities on her shoulders? If her honesty were as questionable as his campaign sometimes claimed, then how can he trust her now?

"The answer is not necessarily that his campaign rhetoric was false or insincere, but that he developed respect for her over the difficult months of that harsh contest -- and came to believe that she would be as formidable at his side as she was in his face.

"The same contrast between then and now applies to Clinton as well, of course. To be willing to sacrifice her Senate seat -- and an apparent offer to join the Democratic leadership -- she must have come to a very different view of Obama's potential than the skepticism expressed by her and her supporters in the heat of the primary. In accepting this appointment, she will fully endorse his fitness to lead and the soundness of his worldview, without reservation. That acknowledgment goes far beyond the speeches of the general election campaign, which she delivered over and over on his behalf."


Considering that one valuable skill a good Sec of State should possess is the ability to tell bald-faced lies, or at least exaggerate the truth, Hillary is formidable indeed. Ducking low on the airport tarmac of Sarajevo to avoid sniper fire...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Political Arms Sales

wherein partisans find their own weapons turned against them:

via

Beyond Impeahcment

OK. So Maybe we don't have to impeach the bastard:

No one likes him

And we were going to let them run our ports

via

"Whistleblower has learned that a classified internal report at the US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has concluded that the pirates are funded by expatriate Somalis and Emiratis based in Dubai. This determination is based, in part, on an independent Interpol probe that managed to identify several moneymen behind the high sea piracy. All live in Dubai."

global climate change

via

"Dark spots, some as large as 50,000 miles in diameter, typically move across the surface of the sun, contracting and expanding as they go. These strange and powerful phenomena are known as sunspots, but now they are all gone. Not even solar physicists know why it’s happening and what this odd solar silence might be indicating for our future. The last time this happened was 400 years ago -- and it signaled a solar event known as a "Maunder Minimum," along with the start of what we now call the "Little Ice Age."

"Although periods of inactivity are normal for the sun, this current period has gone on much longer than usual and scientists are starting to worry—at least a little bit. Recently 100 scientists from Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa and North America gathered to discuss the issue at an international solar conference at Montana State University. Today's sun is as inactive as it was two years ago, and solar physicists don’t have a clue as to why."

Same Pattern, Again

via

"Gates is a great choice because of the respect he has gained from all quarters after the fiasco that went before," says Anthony Zinni, a retired four-star Marine who once headed the U.S. Central Command. "He would also provide continuity at a critical time." The key to Gates' sticking around, Zinni suggests, is how many Pentagon political appointees Obama would let Gates keep if he stays, denying Democrats those key national security positions. "I think he won't stay without his team," Zinni says of Gates, "and the [Obama] Administration can't let him keep them." Then, uncharacteristically for this particular parlor game, Zinni adds: "But what do I know?"


My point? Like Hillary, Obama gives the top dog a sjot at it, but requires sacrifice.

Hillary has to rein in her former president of a husband; Gates has to give up his advisers.

Throw a bone in the ring and let the dogs have at it in the media circus ring.

Would Gates make a decent Sec of Def? More so than not. The stain on his reputation from the Iran-Contra affair is modest, and I think his post-Reagan foreign policy stances show chastened learning from the mistakes in which he participated as a former CIA director.

But he's gotta check his weapons at the door of Obama's administration and commit to the new team.

We'll see.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

the facts of the matter

Preludio:

"In 1956, Shell Oil geologist M. King Hubbert discovered a grand illusion in the American oil industry. For tax purposes, he noted, American oil companies regularly delayed the declaration of new oil reserves by years and even decades. The result was a false impression that new oil was being found all the time. In fact, discoveries had peaked in 1936."


via

"Simmons had become suspicious of the Saudis' claims about the vastness of their oil supply. In his four decades of working in the oil and gas industry, everyone he had ever talked to had taken it as gospel that the Saudis had enough oil to bail the world out when other supplies ran short. If that wasn't true, Simmons believed, the era of cheap oil was over. Demand for crude was on the rise worldwide, and supplies were getting tighter all the time. If the Saudis were pushing up against the limits of their oil production, the world needed to know.

"In his typically analytical fashion, Simmons went hunting for data. He found it in the form of hundreds of technical papers submitted by Saudi oil geologists to the Society of Petroleum Engineers over the past 50 years. Simmons spent the month of August 2003 sitting on his porch in Maine and grinding his way through the minutiae of technical accounts of, for instance, reservoir pressure and water-cut percentages, trying to piece together the challenges that the Saudi geologists had encountered in managing their precious oilfields. In the end, his conclusion was clear. "I finished reading the last paper on a Sunday afternoon," says Simmons, "and I sat back and I thought, Holy crap, this is unbelievable. I've just discovered the biggest energy illusion ever in the world. We're in big trouble. I'm going to write a book."


So he did:

"Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hillary Allegedly Unsure About Accepting Sec of State Position

via

“She thinks Obama has been great to ask, and she has been well-treated during the process,” the adviser to Mrs. Clinton said. “But she’s unsure.”

"One complication that Mrs. Clinton will face if she becomes secretary of state is the mountain of campaign debt leftover from her presidential run.

"Mrs. Clinton has $7.6 million in outstanding bills from the campaign, Mr. Reines said, not including personal loans she made to her campaign."


Bill could pay off that debt, I suppose, if he didn't have to curtail his investments abroad which cause the current conflict-of-interest dilemma.

I still think (well, hope) that most of the tentative Cabinet picks Obama is making now are for show, straw samples to appease the old Dem party machinery and confuse the right-wing punditry.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cover of Le Point magazine, March 19, 1979



(PIA stands for Pakistan International Airlines)

In the pre-Beginning

via

"Questions about a time before the big bang were once thought to be meaningless, because according to Einstein's general theory of relativity, the universe began at a singularity - a mathematical point with infinite density at which all calculations break down.

"However, physicists now believe that the theory of relativity is limited and the effects of quantum mechanics would have blurred out the singularity just a little, so at a crucial moment the density of matter and radiation was not infinite. If this was the case, it becomes possible to try to work out what led up to that moment."

by the balls or by the bush or by the bond?

via

According to Levitte, Sarkozy's diplomatic advisor, the French president misheard the balls remark. Sarkozy replied: "Hang him?" Putin then replied: "Why not? The Americans hanged Saddam Hussein." Sarkozy tried to dissuade Putin from this course of action, reasoning: "Yes, but do you want to end up like (US president George W.) Bush?"

Putin was briefly silenced before responding: "Ah, you have scored a point there!"


via

It is a sad state of affairs that Bush's America now appears in a Bond film in rather the same light as Brezhnev's Soviet Union used to. One can only hope that President Barack Obama can adopt the sort of policies that can get Bond back on our side.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Space Bubble

really

I'll Take It!

Encouraging News

Elizabeth Warren, expert on personal bankruptcy, crusader against credit card industry lobbyists, and founder of the extremely useful blog Credit Slips, to be a member of the bailout oversight board.


Credit Slips blog

Saturday, November 15, 2008

King Fish

Huey Long on the Senate floor, scaring the ants off the plutocracy

Hopin' he's a playah

Articles like this make me hopeful that my estimation of Obama's handling of his high-stakes/high-hopes presidency will be adroitly finessed. His transition period, for example seems to reveal him letting his colleagues and sycophants all the rope they need to hang themselves so he can make the choices HE wants to:

"WASHINGTON – Former President Bill Clinton's globe-trotting business deals and fundraising for his foundation sometimes put his activities abroad at odds with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and could cause complications if President-elect Barack Obama picks her to be secretary of state.

"During her own White House campaign, the New York senator criticized China for its crackdown on protesters in Tibet and urged President George W. Bush to skip the Olympics in Beijing. Her campaign was embarrassed by reports that her husband's foundation had raised money from a Chinese Internet company that posted an online government "Most Wanted" notice seeking information on Tibetan human-rights activists that may have been involved in the demonstrations.

"Hillary Clinton has campaigned as a champion of workers' rights. This year, Brazilian labor inspectors found what they called "degrading" living conditions for sugar cane workers employed by an ethanol company in which Bill Clinton invested."

via

I See

There can be "no more blind spots" in international markets, said German Chancellor Angela Merkel.


Whatever THAT means.

via

Defining Victory

Gravatar Boronx say:

"Losing - when the President determines that being in Iraq is not in our interest and successfully executes a plan to that effect.

Winning - when the President is forced by the enemy to sue for peace through bribery and acquiesces to an unwanted time table to withdraw."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

From a Little Republican 'ACORN" Grew The Mighty Oak Oaf

via The Seattle Times

"The College Republican National Committee has raised $6.3 million this year through an aggressive and misleading fund-raising campaign that collected money from senior citizens who thought they were giving to the election efforts of President Bush and other top Republicans.

"Many of the top donors were in their 80s and 90s. The donors wrote checks — sometimes hundreds and, in at least one case, totaling more than $100,000 — to groups with official sounding-names such as "Republican Headquarters 2004," "Republican Elections Committee" and the "National Republican Campaign Fund."

"But all of those groups, according to the small print on the letters, were simply projects of the College Republicans, who collected all of the checks.

"And little of the money went to election efforts.

***

"College Republicans serve as the party's outreach organization on college campuses. The group has been a starting place for many prominent conservatives, including Bush adviser Karl Rove, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and former Christian Coalition executive director Ralph Reed.

"Once a part of the Republican National Committee, the group is now independent. It is set to help get out the vote for Tuesday's election.

"Officers of the College Republican National Committee did not respond to questions about their fund raising."

Peruvian Songbird


Ymac Sumac Passes Over

Xtabay:Female Ensnarer

Crashing the Crash

via The Daily Beast

"When the bailout bill was first debated, Congress was applauded for promising oversights on its implementation. But The Washington Post reports that "no formal action has been taken to fill the independent oversight posts established by Congress when it approved the bailout to prevent corruption and government waste." And Congress has missed the deadline for its first monitoring report. The Congressional Budget Office, which also has oversight responsibilities, is worried it won't be able to find people with the expertise to carry them out. "It's a mess," said the Treasury Department's inspector general. "I don't think anyone understands right now how we're going to do proper oversight of this thing."


Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

"The supporting role the former Clinton official played in its collapse raises some hard questions about whether he should be the next treasury secretary.

"As the incoming Obama administration prepares to find a way out of our latest economic mess, it is worth recalling the forgotten relationship between the man who seems to be a leading candidate for treasury secretary, Lawrence Summers, and the collapse of Enron, which in many ways presaged our current economic crisis.

"The supporting role that Summers played in Enron, including his reassuring correspondence with Ken Lay and his laissez-faire approach to the California energy crisis of 2000 and 2001, indicates why he may not be suited to steer the nation through the troubled economic waters that lie ahead.

"In his book about Enron, Conspiracy of Fools, Kurt Eichenwald describes Summers’ role in the early stages of the California energy crisis when the state was suddenly faced with power shortages and energy costs that were soaring up to 20 times normal levels. Then-Governor Gray Davis, convinced that Enron and others were manipulating the market, begged the federal government to intervene.

"Before Summers is nominated to head the treasury, he should be asked some basic questions.

"Even as blackouts shut down dialysis machines and traffic lights from Sacramento to San Diego, Summers and the Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan, decided to take a few moments to teach the California governor a lesson or two about free markets. In an emergency meeting the day after Christmas 2000, Summers and Greenspan, responding to the governor’s complaints about corporate tampering, lectured the governor that price manipulation was only possible because California had improperly regulated its markets. They urged the governor to take it easy on Enron and the other power companies because, in effect, being too critical of them might make them reluctant to do business in California. Summers and Greenspan pressured the governor to remove state caps on consumer rates."


If you don't like this development, go here:

President Elect Obama's Transition Phase Feedback Site

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Put The G.I.Joe Back In The Box

Pentagon's Defense Business Board tells Obama that dramatic cuts in military spending are needed

Pentagon insiders and defense budget specialists say the Pentagon has been on a largely unchecked spending spree since 2001 that will prove politically difficult to curtail but nevertheless must be reined in.

"The forces arrayed against terminating defense programs are today so powerful that if you try to do that it will be like the British Army at the Somme in World War I," said Winslow Wheeler, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the liberal Center for Defense Information in Washington. "You will just get mowed down by the defense industry and military services' machine guns."

"Since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, funding has grown for both the annual defense budget and emergency spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The latest Pentagon budget, for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, is an estimated $512 billion, not including more than $800 billion in additional war spending that has been allotted since 2001.

"But a series of forces are now at play that make such large expenditures untenable, according to the Defense Business Board, the Pentagon oversight group, which includes about 20 private sector executives appointed by the secretary of defense."


This series of forces is, essentially, the incredibly long string of bad checks the government has kited on the winds of war and other hot air: we be BROKE.

Honor Fat Rolls

AIG: America's New Open-Pit Money Mine

"AIG's size and market significance meant it had the government over a barrel. The insurer's finance operations had grown far too big to fail, while operating in large part in the cracks between different regulators' territories.

"If the Fed and the Treasury have now done enough to stabilize the situation, that offsets some of the embarrassment of having to bail out their own initial bailout. Longer-term U.S. financial regulations need to capture any company that becomes so significant to the financial system.

"Rewriting the currently inadequate rule book is an important task for President-elect Barack Obama."

Alternative Energy

"As for a stimulus package, there is not much of an industry left to stimulate back into life, Hennecke said."

Welcome to the neo-NASA of a government-subsidized alternative energy industry. Heavy on the nanotech but mostly an orgy of cross-discipline engineering. Gonna be a great time to major in math and science.

Faith-Based Inevitability

The Lord works in mysterious ways,
Our blunders to reform.


We, the American democratic republic known as the United States of America, are in a mighty mess.

The links in the chain of cause and effect can be pursued backward through history as far as oppositely pointing fingers care to point:

back to Bush's (s)election by the Supreme Court in 2000 (a new concept -- letting the Supreme Court choose our president);

or Clinton's embrace of Third Way policies;

or 12 years of Reagan/Bush 1st voodoo economics;

or Carter's disastrous decision of October 22nd, 1979, to grant the Shah of Iran political sanctuary in the USA (an event that almost single-handedly turned the ire of Muslim fanaticism against the USA* instead of Russia, which had thoroughly pissed them off by invading Afghanistan 15 months earlier on August 7th, 1978)
*(on November 4th 1979, Iranian students stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking more than fifty Americans hostage.);

or what we'll just call the Nixon Legacy (1968-1974) as "Graciously" pardoned by Ford, (1974-1976);

or the Johnson Legacy which, despite passage of the Civil Rights Act, Great Society War on Poverty breakthroughs, also turned the Viet Nam conflict into a major war in which several million lost their lives, based on the now known to be fraudulent Tonkin Gulf Resolution and its associated War Powers Act that has since let presidents make war without Congressional;

or JFK's assassination...

...but I think it makes sense that the Long View of the chains of cause and effect leading to our current state of abomination begins with Jerry Falwell's "Moral Majority" coming to political prominence, beginning the unholy alliance of evangelical political action groups with the Republican party, spawning a movement that would grow increasingly crucial to Republican political success; while the Short View should begin with the entry into the White House of what an overwhelming majority of historians and popular opinion polls agree has been The.Worst.President.Ever.

THE LONG VIEW: (expressed in one quick short term -- deregulation). The loosening or outright abolition of prudent, useful, even wise regulations on economic functions and institutions bore its first disastrously foul fruit with the 1987 S&L Crisis and Black Monday.

THE SHORT VIEW: (expressed in longer terms as befits satisfactory ranting). Simply put, eight years of Bush and the Religiously Right Republican party of Family Values and "compassionate conservatism" have been so disastrous and discouraging to Americans that we have now accomplished one major goal of the Left -- electing an Afro-American president -- and are hip-deep in another process that the Right has accused the Left of conspiring to do for decades: turn America into a full-blown socialist economy.

Between Bush's brutal bumbling in what some dare call foreign policy but reality perceives as a series of exercises in pissing off the world while making the American taxpayer pay the bill and the American professional soldier endure the horror, and his further deregulating of our economy, turning it into a laissez-faire speculative free-for-all that allowed banks to sell shaky mortgages to other banks which then used them as collateral to leverage investments in some cases as much as 4,000% of their original (speculative) value, all it took was for the underlying basis of modern economic life -- fossil fuels -- to have its supply outstripped by demand (last spring's $4/gallon gas), and these bubbles within bubbles surrounding bubbles containing bubbles within bubbles began popping like the brilliant bright foam of kitchen sink dishwater when the first greasy plate is submerged.

Result: economic collapse, which then kicks fossil fuel prices the other direction, a signal of massive raw deflation, that nasty stuff we had in the early years of the Depression.

And there you have it, folks: God-fearing, free-market, militarily hawkish the-best-defense-is-a-strong-and-lunatic-offense, "trust me for I have the mandate of heaven because I've (questionably) won two elections" government has forced the Republican party into relying on a borderline white-supremacist vote (observe this swing-vote graph, the red revealing where support for the Republican candidate actually increased in this election, and tell me I'm 'playing the racist card' -- I dare ye), and also forced a Republican White House into commencing what is already the biggest bailout (welfare, socialism, whatever) by we the people of private industry in the history of our nation, and it has only begun.

It is not inconceivable that in ten years we will be even more socialist than The Netherlands. Which is fine by me, because I have friends in old Holland and I very much like how they do things there.

If a $700 billion bailout of private industry, paid for by taxpayers, isn't "wealth redistribution", then what is it? Robbery?

When next year rolls around, and Obama inherits the Oval Throne (which has, over the past eight years, become the National Shitter), remember this: it was Dubya who first called for us to cough up $700 billion-and-rising to "save the economy", but it was Democrats who put at least *some* form of regulatory restraint on what those bankers and lenders can-or-must do with that money. Not enough by a long shot, but that is what I expect Obama to do (among the myriad other janitorial duties this seemingly magical Negro will be tasked to perform).

If ever there was a time in recent history when writing letters to your Congresspersons was a valuable investment vehicle, it is now.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Why I Like to Think of Myself as a "Progressive"



Because, bully man! We like to think BIG! Bully!

Why People Prefer Not to Get Involved in Politics



Something to do with the cyclical nature and I'll drown you if you'll drown me nature of the two-party system?

Never Turn Your Back on a Ship of Sinking Rats

via Robert Parry @ Consortium News

Barack Obama seeks a new era of bipartisanship, but he should take heed of what happened to the last Democrat in the White House – Bill Clinton – in 1993 when he sought to appease Republicans by shelving pending investigations into Reagan-Bush-I-era wrongdoing and hoped for some reciprocity.

It's crazy, I know, but what's new? Humanity is a crazy thing. It invented the word crazy. Here's the crazy:

Now that Obama has won, now that the Republican party and the Republican National Committee have been made to look (by themselves, mind you) like so many rats-become-tailors arguing over who bought Sarah Palin's Cinderella wardrobe, now that Bush is thoroughly dismissed as the lamest duck'n'cover president of all time and is making great show of graciousness (that is the official media buzz term, gracious) in humbly assisting Obama's transition period, now that the Dems appear transcendentally triumphant and Joe Lieberman is now Joe the Plumber, now that suddenly everyone's remembering that Obama is also half-white (spin that any way you like)... now it suddenly seems seems sensible to be gracious in return, to let bygones be bygones, and not pursue robust, unflinching investigations into the numerous criminal activities of the still current administration.

Not only would this be gracious, says our inner Greek chorus of collective schizophrenia, it would also be prudent, even wise, to forgo such time-consuming activities in light of the many problems the soon-to-be President Obama will face: economic meltdown, two quagwars, a runaway budget with runaway crooks running away with money they get to spend but our kids will get to pay for, the increasingly likely specter of global warming, and the USA's general loss of esteem, respect, goodwill, and cooperation in the global geopolitical community.

So of course it is only fair that we should let go, scot-free, the scalawags and turdblossoms and shotgun sidekicks and grand architects of war and, most of all, the gracious patrician aristocrat who presided over all these messes and personally enacted half of them.

Of course, he couldn't have done all this alone.

Well, we tell ourselves, a truly wise man, a really great and yea, even gracious president, will do what's best for the country and devote his energies to saving us from these horrible fates even if it means letting the perpetrators escape unpunished.

After all, we're Americans. Only terrorists use human shields. Personally, I don't much like being held hostage, do you?

I love Obama. Adore everything I know about the man. Revere him. I'm what your classic, right-wing, i know you are but what am I? rebuttalist calls an Obama-worshiper. Hail the new messiah-in-chief and all that.

But if Obama lets them go, does a Ford or a Clinton, I won't begrudge him a martyr's death. Sorry Michelle, Malia, and Sasha. He's your daddy, but he's also our president. If he lets these clowns, crooks, and creeps off the hook, don't blame me if someone shoots him. There's one in every crowd.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Not Everyone on the Left is Right; Not Everyone on the Right is Wrong

The title reflects a shift in electoral power. For at least seven years it seemed ludicrous to say such a thing. The growing electoral might of the Right inspired one to say, instead, The Right is not always right, nor is the Left always wrong.

For some time, branding a political figure 'too liberal' was sufficient to clip their wings. It mattered little that the average bloke has a largely distorted understanding of what liberal and conservative mean.

Now that the pendulum has swung as far it can in the direction popularly deemed 'right wing' and is now swinging the other way, gaining speed, we in the center at the bottom of the pendulum's arc brace ourselves for the New Arrogance and New Ignorance that, we fear, will soon replace the Old Arrogance and Old Ignorance.

It pains me that I sound like a pull-string Lieberman doll. It's not my fault that he single-mouthedly made bipartisanism a dirty word, and reaching across the aisle a form of 'bad touch'.

My personal pain in this lies in the fact that I generally agree much more with the ideas and ideals that have come from the left since long before I was born and so will find it doubly exasperating to listen to unconsciously stereotypical left-wingers explain How the World Should Really Be. I didn't care much when the average right-winger promoted constitutional purity (which is no more pure nor meaningful than Biblical fundamentalism), laissez-faire capitalism (which is, in today's technocratically run socialist capitalism, like believing in Tinker Belle), and a strong military (which too often meant taking our already strong military and gutting it on worthless wars). I figured they were just stupid or hopelessly ill-informed and so why care if they were being assholes too?

But now I will hear hordes from the left yowl. Feeling that their voices will now be heard, and that the articulations of their mere mouths alone will not suffice, they will commence to shout out through their sphincters also.

Please, sir, I want more...

A quote from a friend of mine:

Anyone expecting full recovery in 2 years is heartily invited to get a head start on the next real estate boom by purchasing this lovely bridge at a special depression price.

War may well be forced on Obama, but I will adopt the standard of no "pre-emptive" wars and also no solo wars. If it's important, we have to be able to persuade at least 2 of the big 3 in Europe, plus a few other heavies, to join.

Economy stabilized by 2012 (not fully recovered, just stabilized with decent bull periods for people to cash out what they had the balls to buy when the market was down).

Some new technology boosted seriously by federal investment (with a few strings so the taxpayer can make his money back here) close towards actually making money (I's thinking nano here, but people who know tell me that's about 10 years away. I can hope, though).

75% of our troops out of Iraq by end of 2010 (as in, by the midterms...). The rest mostly in friendly Kurdistan. Iraq, of course, has to remain stable after our leaving for this to be reckoned a success.

Rollback of many provisions in the PATRIOT act.

Rectifying the FISA mess.

Roll back Bush's war on environmental regulations.

A markedly more transparent white house than Bush's. At least a press conference a month. Regular "fireside chats" would be nice too.

Find a way to harness either Russia or China to pressure Iran.

Decrease the amount of free pass Israel gets for its actions re: the Palestinians.

I'm sure I'm missing something. Oh yeah, close the brig at Gitmo. Or at east specify that only US servicemen can be held there. Don't mind that use so much. Just make it clear the SCOTUS holds sway there.


I will place my bet now and state that I believe that as president, Mr. Obama will do exceedingly well at achieving the bulk of these agendas. His ability to communicate well, forcefully yet compassionately and humbly, will be a greater carrot'n'stick, I think, than all the misquotations and doctored spins and grand-standing loyal oppositionists and disloyal opportunists (we call them Liebermans, I think) will be able to block or misconstrue.

This assessment depends not just on Mr. Obama's proven charisma, verbal grace, inherently unifying ethnic background and literally centrist geopolitical roots as a guy from virtually everywhere who rose to political prominence in the powerhouse heart of the heartland, Chicago. It also depends on my perception that Americans are scared, woebegone, frustrated, angry, discouraged, determined, hopeful, and determined all at once. They are ready to respond to positive ideas that make sense.

In a way it is a blessing that the prevailing electoral mindset for some time has moved predominantly to the right, inciting ensuing policies likewise angled toward plutocratic authoritarianism with theocratic subtones. This makes it easier for Mr. Obama to appease the mad dogs of the Far Left by simply moving to the center and looking their way often enough, a stance that should help diminish conservative backlash.

But mostly, it's the fact that people are scared and hopeful. Such a state of collective mind tends to transcend any given ideology so long as an adequate Moses appears to be at the helm.

The Jews did it in Exodus, abandoning for the most part their many idolatrous gods and settling for Yahweh as King of All Gods and an Ark of the Covenant as surrogate idol.

They were mighty scared, but full of hope.

Fire Sale

Since at least last summer, a local gunshop/shooting arcade has had this promo sign:

ARMAGEDDON IS COMING! GET YOUR GUNS NOW!

I have no desire to take USA citizens' guns from them, nor would I interfere with their constitutional right to wear camouflage condoms made of depleted uranium Kevlar composites, but I deplore the crass commercialism of this sign. Just as we'd like our retailers to wait until Thanskgiving weekend to release their Xmas miracles and tinselized muzak, I think it's only decent to wait until the slaughter of a perfect red calf in the rebuilt Temple of the Mount (using thrice-cleansed .50 cal and kosher stock fittings) before hyping the End of the World final clearance sale.

I, for example, have a large stock of white robes and digital harps (preprogrammable with up to 35 sacred songs), and intend to cash in when the end-times come. I know you can't take it with you but that suggests a thriving black market for bribery at the Pearly Gates.

Screw those socialist Biblical notions about the last shall be first and humble contrition before Jesus being the only way in. Unregulated principles of free market ideals should let me buy my way into Heaven as easily as we've spent our wads all to Hell down here.

Talk to the Invisible Hand, St. Peter. Under the table.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Democracy Is Coming

Democracy

Leonard Cohen.

History happens. To us.

We happen. To history.

Amen

Pines of Rome

Bye-Bye Birdie

Senate legend Robert Byrd, approaching 91 this month and hailing a “new day in Washington,” said he would voluntarily give up the chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee with the new Congress.

“To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven,” said Byrd, who had fended off earlier challenges this past spring and summer. “Those Biblical words from Ecclesiastes 3:1 express my feelings about this particular time in my life.

“I have been privileged to be a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee for 50 years and to have chaired the committee for ten years, during a time of enormous change in our great country, both culturally and politically,” Byrd continued in a statement released by his office. “I have learned that nothing is quite so permanent as change. It is simply a part of living and should not be feared.”


It would seem he waited until it was safe to pass the baton.

Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), who is 84, will take over for Byrd on the powerful panel, which oversees hundreds of billions of dollars annually in federal spending. Byrd will officially hand off the gavel on Jan. 6, 2009.


A pineapple in every suckling pig's mouth!

a clean elephant is a good elephant



More than anything, I think this graph illustrates the inherently radical erratic nature of post-Nixon Republicanism, which battles between greedy schmucks pretending to be conservative (HA!) and crazy Sky God worshipers finding ever new ways to sneak around the church/state divide.

It shows that Democrats are, comparatively, inherently more conservative since they steadily adhere to their core values and promote them with a donkey's plodding diligence (and occasional but extremely well-aimed kick) while the Republicans have become inherently politically profligate, consuming enormous amounts of forest foliage and hay but achieving little more than tramping big swaths through an increasingly desiccate forest-become-savanna and leaving huge piles of shit in the barn for some janitor to clean up.

As a young man, it was explained to me by a really hip, just-returned Nam vet, Gary Rubow, that the worst job in the world, in his opinion, was the guy who prepped the elephants for the circus parade. The guy, he said, put on huge rubber glove forearm waders, reached into a pachyderm's rectum, and preemptively (this decade's new all-purpose word) stimulated bowel movement so there wouldn't be so many giant piles on Main Street.

In terms of presidential, um, analogies, this job would seem to have last fallen to one James Earl Carter, 39th president of the United States. If true, this perhaps partially explains why the 80s, bad as they were, were at least tolerable, while the Oughts were fully abominable: Carter did his job with the proper tools while Clinton, as always, grossly exaggerated the actual power and size of his favorite agent of action, and just gave the elephant a good ass-fucking that made it happily constipated.