November 12, 2007 archive

The controlled demolition of the US economy

I used to tell people that BushCo was wrecking the US economy, but now I recognize that that was an over-simplification. What we are witnessing is a precise, controlled demolition. America is being efficiently demolished and sold for scrap. The wreckage will collapse neatly on those who are least prepared to bear the suffering, and the looters and scoundrels will largely be spared.

Consider Bush himself. His nest-egg and retirement benefits will pay his bills while his book deal (a guaranteed sale among Kool Aid drinkers) will earn millions. If things get really rough for him, he may bug out to Paraguay or some other refuge, but in terms of assuring his own future comfort, it’s MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Consider the war profiteers. The next (Democratic) President may slow the tempo of the Iraq war, but US defense spending has been locked into the highest levels seen since the cold war. More importantly, the concept of meaningful oversight has vanished from defense contracting, as more and more projects are funded irrespective of their functionality (e.g., Osprey, missile defense, and next-generation spy satellites). Only national bankruptcy can stop the weapons gravy train.

Consider the corporate elite. The outsourcing of everything that can be pushed through a high speed data line will continue unabated, resulting in the steady emptying out of the US service economy. Manufacturing has already been decimated. Companies like GM and Ford will succumb to bankruptcy and takeovers, then pay huge severance packages to their incompetent former managers. Each payout to a failed CEO is more shocking than that last. But there will be no parachutes for ordinary Americans, just very hard landings.

Consider the media moguls. The sinking fortunes of the average citizen will keep entertainment a booming industry. Just as in the Great Depression, movies and electronic diversions will be popular escapist medicine for the sickness of declining living standards. Perhaps we will even see a revival of voyeuristic fixation on the rich, just as drab depression era movie-goers watched films of the wealthy cavorting at their lavish parties. (Just substitute billions for millions.)

In short, when predators rule the nation, they never suffer. Just as they swindled and stole on the way up the economic cycle, they will swindle and steal on the way down. The rest of us are simply their fodder. Those who expect America’s “leadership” to pull us out of an economic slump will soon learn that the nature of leadership has changed for the worse. Our leaders will compete with each other to see who can grab what remains to be stolen.

This Will Not Last

Setting the Stage

In 1995-96, I spent a year taking care of my 84 year old father after he had a series of debilitating strokes.   He was paralyzed at first on the left side and lost his speech, but never his mind.  Over the course of the year, he learned to walk and talk anew, with my help 3-4 days a week. It was an amazing year for me – I think the best of my life.  

My father and I had been somewhat estranged for most of my adult life.  He had never understood (or approved of) my decison in my twenties to divorce or go to law school.  As late as 1988, when I was 42 and joined my husband in California where he had taken a very good job, Daddy had said “I don’t understand why she has to go out to California.”

But as I helped him regain his speech and walking, fixed his meals, watched baseball with him (he was a big Braves fan), helped him with crossword puzzles, and listened with him to his favorite music and books on tape, we became very close.  Then of course over the last few months when he started to go down again, managing the three other caretakers we needed for him, I felt like I was somewhat living his dying process with him.  I was with him at the end and as his body withered, I could feel myself going with him, into his pillow, into death.  

I don’t know how many others have experienced something similar at the loss of a close one, but I feel like I lived my father’s death with him – and then I came back, but was forever changed by the experience.  (I still feel that ability to be in more than one place at a time, to get outside my body and let my mind take me wherever I want to go, not bound by space and time, to go completely through something, and be on the other side.  The first time I described it to a friend in the first weeks after my father’s death was as the ability to feel that I was on the other side of a wall, that I had gone through the wall, at the same time that I was there on the other side talking with her.)

For some time after Daddy’s death, I felt very close to the spirit world.  I had a  vivid visit from my father the night he died.  Over the next several years, I took a further hiatus from practicing law and delved into a more mystical world.  I joined with some women friends, most of whom are artists, in weekly dream sharings and interpretation.  

For that period of time I felt that I was thinking in spirals, not in the logical, square boxes of a lawyer.  I had more vivid dreams and messages that began to appear to me in the weekly Friends’ meeting we had been attending for years.

“As usual, . . . more analytical and calm”

Three guesses who is being referred to in the title.

NYTimes Opinionator.

Personally, I have never seen such a trenchant description . . .

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Four at Four

Some news and your afternoon Open Thread.

  1. Reuters reports Top U.N. official warns against inaction on climate. “Addressing the U.N.’s climate panel, joint winners of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, said the message to world leaders was clear.”

    “Failure to recognize the urgency of this message and to act on it would be nothing less than criminally irresponsible,” said de Boer.

    Bloomberg News reports UN panel’s global warming report may win U.S. support. “American officials are planning to back a new United Nations document that says governments and businesses will have to spend billions of dollars a year to reduce global warming and adapt to its effects… By agreeing with the draft document, …the U.S. is indicating a need for faster action to slow climate change. As the largest emitter of gases blamed for global warming, the U.S. is seen by other nations as critical to the creation of a new worldwide response when the Kyoto agreement expires in 2012. ‘We haven’t seen any problems in the drafts that we’ve seen,’ said John Marburger, director of the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy in Washington, in a telephone interview. ‘But it depends what happens at the meetings.’ Criminally irresponsible is the hallmark of the Bush administration though.

  2. The Guardian reports Planted question damages Clinton in key primary state. “Hillary Clinton’s reputation for calculated political orchestration has been enhanced after a member of her staff was caught out in the crucial primary battleground of Iowa planting a tame question in the audience… Over the weekend, a second case emerged of an Iowan apparently steered towards a tame question, on this occasion about Iraq at a campaign event in April… Any appearance of crowd manipulation is highly sensitive for Clinton… It is particularly incendiary in Iowa, a state deeply proud of its homely caucus style of elections and suspicious of outside interference.”

  3. The Washington Post reports Farmers ask federal court to dissociate hemp and pot. “Hemp, a strait-laced cousin of marijuana, is an ingredient in products from fabric and food to carpet backing and car door panels. Farmers in 30 countries grow it. But it is illegal to cultivate the plant in the United States without federal approval, to the frustration of [Wayne] Hauge and many boosters of North Dakota agriculture. On Wednesday, Hauge and David C. Monson, a fellow aspiring hemp farmer, will ask a federal judge in Bismarck to force the Drug Enforcement Administration to yield to a state law that would license them to become hemp growers… To clear up the popular confusion about the properties of what is sometimes called industrial hemp, the crop’s prospective purveyors explain that hemp and smokable marijuana share a genus and a species but are about as similar as rope and dope.”

  4. The San Francisco Chronicle reports Al Gore joins Valley’s Kleiner Perkins to push green business. “Former vice president… Al Gore will become a leading Bay Area venture capitalist. Gore announced today he would join Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, one of Silicon Valley’s oldest and most prestigious venture capital firms, as partner heading up their climate change solutions group. Gore, 59, is hoping to translate his standing as the top evangelist on climate change to push businesses worldwide to increase their investments in renewable energy and other projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He’s also pledged that 100 percent of his Kleiner Perkins salary will be donated to the Alliance for Climate Protection, his Palo-Alto based nonprofit group that advocates for stronger climate change policies.”

A bonus story about slang and the Irish is below the fold…

Waking up the silent antiwar majority

On Friday, Nov. 16, antiwar activists will take the “Anti-Torture Train” to San Jose, Calif., where more than 20 groups are sponsoring a march, picket, and news conference in front of a corporation that organizers say profits from illegal kidnappings and torture by handling the logistics for the CIA’s so-called “extraordinary rendition” flights — torture flights.

On the way, they will leaflet Caltrain passengers to educate them about U.S. torture policy, the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” of suspects to other countries for abusive interrogation, and efforts in Congress to end the practice.

In New York City, a morning rush hour action at Union Square will feature hand-painted Pietas and black-clad leafleters.

Protesters in a number of cities will bang pots and pans in front of Congressional offices, as part of the Raise Hell for Molly Ivins campaign, inspired by the late progressive columnist and activist.

In Minneapolis and St. Paul, a student walkout is planned at a number of schools and campuses at noon, with an all-day teach-in and workshops, reminiscent of the 1969 Vietnam War Moratorium, at Macalester College.

It’s the third Iraq Moratorium Day.

Taking Lambs Out To Slaughter

While rabid little lambs claim to understand, they are better used for slaughter, or sacrifice to a greater understanding that escapes humanity. This is mostly because the underlying lattice of geometric time/space/reality of our perceived universe is rather complex, it is like trying to teach a dog algebra. But I will attempt to cut the thoughts of the lamb in equal parts, and walk between them to touch the very mask of the eternal mystery.

First things, first. Imagine a mobius strip.

This will do pig, this will do:

This is not the universe, we are just a spec on it:

Now here comes the first tricky part, a basic system design. Our universe is nothing but a subatomic action to a system above us. While our own subatomic actions are entire universes from Big Bang to Ultimate Implosion. Our own universe is destined to collapse upon itself one day, but we will not around to see it, though we have always been around to see it. How is that possible you say?

Here is a basic snip of the system design:

Defining Privacy Down

Apparently, the problem we are all having with the FISA bill is a simple matter of semantics. We take the concept of privacy to mean privacy. How silly of us. As the Associated Press reports:

As Congress debates new rules for government eavesdropping, a top intelligence official says it is time that people in the United States changed their definition of privacy.

Privacy no longer can mean anonymity, says Donald Kerr, the principal deputy director of national intelligence. Instead, it should mean that government and businesses properly safeguard people’s private communications and financial information.

Trust us. We’re Big Brother. Public and private. We own you!

Kerr said at an October intelligence conference in San Antonio that he finds concerns that the government may be listening in odd when people are “perfectly willing for a green-card holder at an (Internet service provider) who may or may have not have been an illegal entrant to the United States to handle their data.”

See how stupid we are? If we’ll willingly allow immigrints to handle our private data, shouldn’t we be as willing to allow Big Brother? That’s actually an astonishing revelation of Kerr’s xenophobic bigotry: immigrants as the baseline of people who shouldn’t be trusted! Coming from one of this nation’s top intel officials!

Kerr also points out that since young people post private info to MySpace and Facebook, they really don’t care about privacy, anyway; and never mind that those who post to such websites actually choose what gets posted, and who sees it.  

“Those two generations younger than we are have a very different idea of what is essential privacy, what they would wish to protect about their lives and affairs. And so, it’s not for us to inflict one size fits all,” said Kerr, 68. “Protecting anonymity isn’t a fight that can be won. Anyone that’s typed in their name on Google understands that.”

See, that, young people. You just don’t care about your privacy! Isn’t it nice that good Mr. Kerr is there to speak on your behalves? We also need to take another look at that second sentence:

“Protecting anonymity isn’t a fight that can be won. Anyone that’s typed in their name on Google understands that.”

It particularly can’t be won when the principal deputy director of national intelligence is fighting against it!


Who Woulda Thunk It?

Here is a shocker:

Matzzie to Head Democratic Soft Money Effort

Even as the Democratic primary fight enters the final stretch, plans are proceeding apace among party strategists to build an independent money machine that will rival or eclipse what they created in 2004, when donors poured millions into two key outside-the-party organizations — America Coming Together and the Media Fund.

Tom Matzzie has been hired to run a new effort for 2008, which he has described in an e-mail as a $100 million-plus venture organized around “issues and character.” Matzzie is leaving his post as the Washington director of to take the job. . . . The news of Matzzie’s hiring comes roughly two weeks after a group of the largest donors in the Democratic party gathered in Washington to discuss where they’ll put their money during the 2008 race. . . . Those familiar with overall Democratic fundraising plans for 2008 say that everything is still in a very nascent stage, but party heavyweights are clearly on the march — setting up various organizations that may be integrated into a larger uber-fundraising effort, perhaps under Mattzie’s group.

Move On’s political director who wasjoined at the hip with the Democratic Party on Congressional issues now getting a big Dem fundraising gig? Shocking.

Move On and Mattzie have played its members for a while now. You think they’ll figure it out? Me neither.

Veterans Day Tribute-My Grandfather “Tex”

My Grandfather, Carl “Tex” Lanier, was a Staff Sergent with the United States Army Air Force in WWII.  He never talked about his service, he didn’t talk much actually, he was a very quiet man, small in stature but bound with incredible dignity.  As a young girl, I lived with my grandparents on and off during my childhood, every now and then he would pull out his medals, uniform, photos or other such memorabilia, but he never explained what they meant to him.  One time when I was about 13 years old, I noticed a scar in his neck and I asked him about it, my grandmother was standing nearby and tried to brush it away, but I was persistent. Once grandma left the room, he pulled up his pant leg and showed me the scars up and down his leg and told me his story.  I don’t remember word for word of it, but now decades later, I have his story from a newspaper clipping that my mother gave me before she died.  I have been reluctant to even go through some of these papers, it breaks my heart, I miss him VERY much-he was a wonderful person.

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Reid’s Deal On Mukasey

This may be old news, but it is new to me.

Greg Sargent over at TPM wrote an article based on info he received from his sources: Reid Allowed Vote On Mukasey In Exchange For Military Funding Bill.

According to sources inside and outside the Democratic leadership, Harry Reid allowed a vote on Mukasey because in exchange the Republican leadership agreed to allow a vote on the big Defense Appropriations Bill, which contains $459 billion in military spending but doesn’t fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Reid had wanted to get this bill passed before the end of this week, and in fact, the defense bill did come up for a vote late last night and was passed after the Mukasey vote.

One key reason Dem leaders wanted this defense approps bill passed, sources tell me, is that they wanted to be able to argue that they had sent a bill to the President funding the military, if not the war itself. The idea was that doing this would allow them to protect themselves in the days ahead when the battle over Iraq funding heats up and Republicans inevitably charge that Dems are refusing to fund the troops.

In other words….Reid GAVE Bush Mukasey, in exchange for….

A mere HEDGE against The Republicans saying that the Democrats don’t support the troops.

Pony Party: Cure for the common cold

Light Emitting Pickle here to bring you the most recent open thread. First, a few words about Pickle Pony Parties:

Please do not recommend a Pony Party when you see one.  There will be another along in a few hours.

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