Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Besides Iraq and Afghanistan on our karmic rap sheet, there's Gaza, where our proxy is doing the dirty work.

Glenn Greenwald has Gaza figured out. According to the latest polls, 71 percent of us -- nearly three out of four Americans -- don't want the U.S. taking sides in the Israel-Palestine War. But almost 100 percent of our politicians, Demolicans and Republicrats both, think Israel should just keep on with what they're doing, which is, as nearly as I can tell, turning the world's largest open-air prison into the world's largest open-air slaughterhouse.

In a democracy, Greenwald wrote yesterday, one could expect that politicians would be afraid to express a view that 70% of the citizens oppose. Yet here we have the exact opposite situation: no mainstream politician would dare express the view that 70% of Americans support; instead, the universal piety is the one that only a small minority accept. Isn't that fairly compelling evidence of the complete disconnect between our political elites and the people they purportedly represent?

Barack Obama included. So he wouldn't want Hamas rockets "falling on the school" where his daughters are enrolled? But if his daughters were killed in an Israeli airstrike, that would be different? Who does this guy think he's kidding?

Greenwald also points out that "overwhelming majorities of Americans have long wanted to withdraw from Iraq was completely dismissed and ignored by our bipartisan political class, which continued to fund the war indefinitely and with no conditions. But at least there, Democratic leaders paid lip service to the idea that they agreed with that position and some Democrats went beyond rhetoric and actually tried to stop or at least limit the war..."

But in the end, they did neither, after promising to do so.

It's clearer than ever that this political class, Republican and Democratic; liberal and conservative, has been bought out. AIPAC, the Israel lobby, is part of the corporate cabal that owns virtually all our politicians. They do not represent us. This is not our country. "Government of the people" is a lie.

Greenwald concluded yesterday by quoting a president who lived back in the day before the U.S. government became a whore. You certainly would recognize his name, since he was the country's first president. In his farewell address he warned us against taking sides in other people's conflicts, saying: (N)othing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave.

It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. . . .
So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Invisible Man Vanishes

Hiroshi Nohara arrived at Terminal number One of the Mexico City airport on September 2, and stayed there.

A Japanese citizen with a tourist visa, he dropped out of life's stream and disappeared in the anonymous mass of a place that is not a place. He stayed at the airport almost four months, sleeping in a chair and living on handouts. Then over this past weekend he disappeared completely.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Bringing It All Back Home

The El Paso Times has news of an Army War College report which suggests that our current movie sequel we ourselves are starring in, Great Depression II, could lead to massive civil unrest, which in turn might necessitate regular Army troops being deployed to restore order.

"Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities ... to defend basic domestic order and human security," the report said, in case of "unforeseen economic collapse," "pervasive public health emergencies," and "catastrophic natural and human disasters," among other possible crises.

The report also suggests the new (Barack Obama) administration could face a "strategic shock" within the first eight months in office.

Nobody wants to see the U.S. become an occupied country, but at least it would be one way to end the wars in the Mideast, and maybe all foreign wars for awhile. It would just be a matter of bringing the war home.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Lou Dobbs is a Soplo Viente Gordo Grande

Uno dia los tres puercos chicos va de sus casa y dicen adios a madre. Ellos va en Los Estados Unidos se viva.

El primero cochinito, el muy joven, fabrica su casa de heno. Pero Lou Dobbs viene y soplan en la casa de heno, y la casa caen.

El cochinito muy grande miran, y dicen "Mi hermano chico es un tonto menso." Entonces, Lou Dobbs comen el joven cochinito con huevos y uvas.

El cochinito en medio fabrican sus casa de palos. Es muy bueno de la casa de heno, pero Lou Dobbs viene y soplan el tambien, y comen el medio cochinito con naranjas y tortillas.

Pero el cochinito mas grande no fabrican casa. Y cuando Lou Dobbs viene por come, el cerdo tira Lou Dobbs con una pistola de nueve milímetros. Entonces, el comen Lou Dobbs con cerveza y chips.

The Dubya Demon

Hating Bush is kind of pointless, since he's only the latest in a long line of predatory warmongering killers who have headed the government of the world's worst terrorist nation for the past 50 years. The list of blatant war criminals and habitual liars includes every president from Johnson to Bush II, with the possible exception of Jimmy Carter.

The U.S.'s policy of bloody-handed global aggression has been aided and abetted by a corporate-controlled media which has performed the same role for the government as the state-owned newspapers Pravda and Izvestia did in the old Soviet Union. Their job has been easy, since the targets of their propaganda have been (until now) an overfed, over-entertained, undereducated population so hypnotized by shiny material goods and fantasies like Disneyland that they're incapable of acting in their own interest.

This may sound like some kind of radicalism, but it's really elementary and very easy to prove. However, in order to understand it, you need to look at the train of historical events we all know about with open eyes and an open mind. If you do that, and watch nothing more than the trailer of Norman Solomon's film "War Made Easy", you'll know the extent to which we've been deceived, and how you got to be as dumb as you are now.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Mumbling, Stumbling, and Digressing All Over the Place

Long ago, in a universe far away, there was a website that had a political discussion board...but forget all that. What I wanted to tell you is, when anybody cites "The American Thinker" as a source, you should know that their logo is a picture of Uncle Sam sitting and thinking very deeply (or maybe taking a dump in an outhouse).

The results of our uncle's exertions are displayed on the pages within, in articles such as Andrew Walden's "The Unitarian Church and Obama's Religious Upbringing." It reveals that Obama's "choice" for his recently-departed grandmother Madelyn's memorial service was a Unitarian Church, which may seem strange and somewhat subversive until we learn that she was a lifelong Unitarian who once worked at the Unitarian seminary in Berkeley.

So it wasn't so much Barack Obama's "choice" as what she would have wanted.

My mother, whom I assisted, along with my two sisters, in departing this earth on December 7, was also a Unitarian, and a born-again atheist. That was a decision and a choice she made, guaranteed to her by Uncle Sam's very own Constitution. Nonetheless, it indicates that I share with Obama what Walden characterizes as a "leftist religious upbringing," something of which the thoughtful or possibly defecating Uncle Sam apparently disapproves.

Mom made us promise that there would be no prayers at her memorial, and no mention of Jesus, although I did secure her permission to read from the opening lines of chapter three of Ecclesiastes. As an atheist, she had no use for such concepts as "intelligent design," the idea that God deliberately, neatly, and quickly made all things the way they are, including us.

Like mom, I'm a lifelong Unitarian, but unlike her I have no problem with the notion that all life on earth was deliberately engineered by a power greater that us. As the novelist JM Coetzee explains, "I continue to find evolution by random mutation and natural selection not just unconvincing but preposterous as an account of how complex organisms come into being. As long as there is not one of us who has the faintest idea of how to go about constructing a housefly from scratch, how can we disparage as intellectually naive the conclusion that a housefly must have been put together by an intelligence of a higher order than our own?


"It does not seem to me philosophically retrograde to attribute intelligence to the universe as a whole, rather than just to a subset of mammals on planet Earth. An intelligent universe evolves purposively over time, even if the purpose in question may for ever be beyond the grasp of the human intellect and indeed beyond the range of our idea of what might constitute purpose."

Now that guy is a real writer. I admire real writers, and maybe I'll get to be one when I grow up. Or maybe I'll be a rock star, chased by pretty girls. But I digress...(I knew I would).

The American Thinker is a website for simple and straightforward fascist ideology, which is not necessarily a bad thing. When I use the word "fascist," here or elsewhere, I'm not calling people a nasty name. Fascism is a legitimate philosophy with a rationale and a worldview. Its adherents believe that those in authority know best (some even believe those in authority are divinely sanctioned), that legitimate governments revere and honor a people's traditions, that race and ethnicity are part of a person's identity and not to be taken lightly, that war presents an opportunity for a citizen to "fight gloriously and honorably for one's country" (in the words of John Birch Society founder Robert Welch), and that above all a citizen's first duty is to obey authority. For to oppose authority is to invite anarchy, or possibly even to oppose the will of the authoritarian and paternal God all fascists instinctively believe in.

Barack Obama, as a centrist seeking national reconciliation, is attempting to make peace with the fascist elements of American society, whose strength lies partly in their strong religious convictions. This is what motivated him to invite Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inaugural, but the intellects of The American Thinker are having none of it. As Andrew Walden's above-cited article concludes, "Obama's political needs as President have led him to invite Rick Warren, Pastor of Orange County California's Saddleback mega-church, (and a favorite of Oprah Winfrey) to deliver the inaugural invocation... Many on both left and right wonder who is co-opting whom? Given Obama's life history, there really should be little doubt."

Mushroom Soup

Lately I've seen numerous discussions around the internets tubes started by posters who believe that December 21, 2012 is the date the world as we know it will end.

I hope whoever is elected that year, be it Obama or Sarah Palin or someone else, will be ready for that.

I believe the Mayan cosmologists are trying to tell us something we need to know.

Now eat your mushrooms.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Solutions, pt. I

German architects are building a new type of house so airtight it doesn't require a furnace to stay warm inside, even during the cold Baltic winters.

They stay warm mostly by utilizing the body heat of their occupants.

See today's New York Times for more.

Note on a Bad Day

No posting today, because I'm reading JM Coetzee's "Diary of a Bad Year," which my sister gave me for Christmas.

I've never read Coetzee before, but he's a profound writer, and profoundly disturbing. Both his content and his technique are geared to upset and challenge readers. His work inflicts pain, but anyone seeking truth and integrity won't be able to put it down.

Anyone serious about writing today needs to disturb, if he or she is to be taken seriously. The purpose of art is not to decorate the world with extravagant, elegantly-wrought, virtuoso curlicues, but to address real life. And the reality is, most of what's going on in the world today is profoundly disturbing.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Civilization and Government

Civilization crawled out of the mud and realized it would not survive without government. Cooperation, hence productivity and wealth, could only be maximized if everyone pulled in the same direction. Without the threat of collective force, a densely populated agrarian community would always be in danger of unravelling into what Karl Marx called "the war of everybody against everybody else."

What is there to prevent a rich and powerful financier from defrauding investors of 50 billion dollars? What is there to prevent a strong man from taking his weaker neighbor's crops, animals, and wife? Only the threat of the community seeking justice through state-sanctioned violence.

Many of the earliest civilizations revered the bull. The first farmers, grubbing about in the mud of some delta, encountered the wild bull and realized that to prosper, they needed to somehow steal or appropriate the bull's immense muscular strength. The problem was how to get this dangerous and irritable animal to cooperate without getting killed, and the answer was to turn the bull into an ox. A castrated and docile bovine animal has the same muscular strength as a wild bull, but it's governable.

Jefferson was wrong when he said "(T)o secure these rights (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness), Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed," because he knew as well as you or I that the first concern of any government is to make sure its subjects (or citizens, as they're called) are governable. The South-African writer JD Coetzee explains, "From the moment of our birth we are subject," offering the birth certificate itself as the certificate of subjugation, for no person today is recognized as a living human being unless the government has certified that he or she was born.

Coetzee adds, "Not only may you not enter the state without certification; you are, in the eyes of the state, not dead until you are certified dead, and you can be certified dead only by an officer who himself (herself) holds state certification." This process makes it possible to render each citizen's life a statistic, is the equivalent of castrating the bull, and makes modern citizens into subjects, for our very existence goes unrecognized, and we have no legal identity unless it is conferred on us by the state.

This is why conservatives see government as basically a force for evil. But could civilization exist without government? Could we cooperate peacefully just because it's the rational thing to do, without the threat of government coercion and subjugation? It's a subject worth debating.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wonder Bread, Mortgage Derivatives, and Thermonuclear Destruction

Consider the supreme irony of our age. The best minds of modern times have labored ceaselessly to supply comfort, security, and immortality to everyone, but ultimately succeeded only in creating universal suffering, mortal danger, sickness, and death.

My earliest memory of television involves Buffalo Bob Smith telling his audience that Wonder Bread builds strong bodies eight ways (later expanded to "12 ways"). But he neglected to mention that it destroys them 15 ways, since adding a few nutrients back into the end product doesn't compensate for destroying nearly all of wheat's nutritional value in the white-flour rolling and refining process, leaving only a stripped-down starch which converts to glucose immediately upon entering the body.

Dubbed "the original fast food" by Michael Pollan in his brilliant "In Defense of Food," white refined flour, along with its brother, high fructose corn syrup, is the main culprit behind the associated plagues of obesity, diabetes, and coronary-vascular diseases. It's what happens to food and to human health during our enlightened age, an age of "progress," for an Industrial Age finds itself incapable of producing anything other than industrial food.

Likewise, the immense power of industrial monopoly capitalism, so extraordinarily creative and beneficial in some ways due to its capacity to generate wealth, has proved itself in the long run an engine of our destruction, and an infernal machine that demolishes the economic security of millions. With its historically established cycle of boom, mania, panic, and collapse, the American variety of Big Capital has proved itself a particularly virulent form of the illness, having caused two world-wide production and employment catastrophes in the last 80 years, both of which made smoking, stinking ruins out of most of the world's economies for a protracted length of time. Here again, that which the prophets of the Industrial Age promised would free us from poverty and the soul-crushing burdens of continuous toil have only made the situation worse than it was before.

If you can understand the relationship between Industrial-Age food and Industrial-Age capitalism, you can understand the relation of both to Industrial-Age warfare, which may literally destroy us all. For in seeking a weapon which would make war impossible, industrial warriors, like the Sorcerer's Apprentice, unlocked secrets forbidden since our time in Eden, and as a result we are now threatened with being burned alive.

We know it can be done, because it's been done.

For a look into the profoundest horror of Industrial/Thermonuclear Age, read David Samuels' "Atomic John" in the December fifteenth New Yorker. It profiles the work of John Coster-Mullen, an ordinary citizen who wrote a book describing the technical inner workings of the bombs dropped on Japan, including much information kept secret until now. Not an anti-nuclear polemic, Coster-Mullen's work is a detailed, deadpan technical analysis of Little Boy and Fat Man. Written accurately and brilliantly by an author who lacks even a bachelor's degree, "Atom Bombs: The Top Secret Inside Story of Little Boy and Fat Man" shows how the best intentions can produce the worst results, and do so with ordinary nuts-and-bolts-type hardware, a modern-day energy source, and a severe misunderstanding of the natural limitations on human existence.

The natural limitations on human existence! Consider that for a moment, and then consider the prophecy, delivered by our own race of prophets:

"God gave Noah the rainbow sign;
No more water; fire next time."
--Antebellum spiritual,
Quoted by James Baldwin

Monday, December 22, 2008

Can't Do It, Man

Right. There's an article in today's NY Times which credits the origins of the "Obama is a Muslim" veshch to a political mope in Chicago named Andy Martin.

He is a law school graduate, but his admission to the Illinois bar was blocked in the 1970s after a psychiatric finding of “moderately severe character defect manifested by well-documented ideation with a paranoid flavor and a grandiose character.”

Though he is not a lawyer, Mr. Martin went on to become a prodigious filer of lawsuits, and he made unsuccessful attempts to win public office for both parties in three states, as well as for president at least twice, in 1988 and 2000. Based in Chicago, he now identifies himself as a writer who focuses on his anti-Obama Web site and press releases.

Mr. Martin, in a series of interviews, did not dispute his influence in Obama rumors.

“Everybody uses my research as a takeoff point,” Mr. Martin said, adding, however, that some take his writings “and exaggerate them to suit their own fantasies.”

As for his background, he said: “I’m a colorful person. There’s always somebody who has a legitimate cause in their mind to be angry with me.”


I guess he's been getting a soapbox from Fox News lately. No surprise there.

But ye gods, I just can't do it any more. I just don't have the energy to get angry.

I can't even muster the adrenaline to get mad at the talking heads of Fox News, or at this guy Martin either. I guess contemplating the short career of Caribou Barbie took all the piss and vinegar out of me.

FN is kind of like what the Buddha said: "You don't get mad at a fire because it's hot, do you?"

No, you don't. And I don't get mad at, uh, household refuse because it smells like...well, you know.

But sometimes I wonder why it is that most of the Fox News crew -- Neil Cavuto and Gretchen What'sherface and O'Reilly and the rest of 'em look like the kind of kids that, when they were in high school and eating lunch in the cafeteria, nobody wanted to sit with 'em.

In fact, they didn't even want to sit with each other. But somebody had to.

As for the Obama/Muslim thing and the "terrorist fist pump" and all that, I look at Obama and I see a very articulate and talented salesman, a conformist and organization guy at heart, politically timid and looking reflexively for that deep rut that runs straight down the very middle of the range of political opinion. That's indeed a change from the superhuman crew we've lived under for eight years, who went out of their way to see how outrageous they could be, and laughed at any of us who bitched about it.

So what I'm saying is, I'll bet people who believe all that stuff about him being a Muslim or a terrorist or a Muslim terrorist have a lot of brain hemorrhages, chronic diverticulitis, perforated eardrums, gastric ulcers, and blood pressure problems, not to mention high cholesterol from all that red meat and all those bacon omelets. I'm grateful that I'm not one of them.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


After 40-plus years living with colitis, diverticulitis, and the kind of intestinal disability that makes life unlivable, I'm happy to say that finally, somewhat late in life, I'm enjoying optimal intestinal health.

I'll spare you the disgusting details, in the hope that you'll take my word for it.

I'm not cured, but this debilitating cluster of illnesses is in remission as long as I follow a few simple rules which consist mainly of (1) staying out of restaurants and (2) eating the right things. The cornerstone of this diet is the fruit, the daily orange and banana, and frequently half an avacado, along with a dose of metamucil. In the morning, a couple eggs with whole wheat toast. In the evening, some kind of beans or legumes cooked with a green or yellow vegetable and a trace of meat. That might be accompanied by some cheese and whole wheat crackers. Sometimes there's a baked potato.

Organic produce is best, when available.

I still drink too much coffee, and still take a little refined sugar in the evening (any of that stuff is too much), but I've cut way back on straight carbs, especially refined white flour carbs. The result of that major change? Goodbye gas.

I need to finish Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food." I'd already begun changing my dietary life before I started reading Pollan, but he's conveniently vindicating everything I've done and that I continue to do. The book in a nutshell says "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants."

The dietary changes have been accompanied and strengthened by a personal yoga practice which ought to be daily but isn't yet (at this point it's about half time). So I'm going to remedy that by assuming the position right now and commencing pranayama, the breathing exercise that's the prelude to the asanas or postures.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

More Snow

It's snowing here again, really hard this time, with dry, medium-size flakes. This is going to be our long-awaited blizzard.

It started about three and will continue through the night. I just hope the flakes stay dry and not too big. It's wet snow that causes serious problems.

Weathermen disagree about how many total inches we'll end up with. Some say four to six. Others say 12 to 22. I say I wish it would stop. The thing that really scares me is the possibility of a power outage, which is a very real danger over here because of all the trees. The branches above powerlines become laden with wet, heavy snow, then come crashing down, and presto! Your all-electric house is now a cave, with a fireplace and some firewood in it, if you're lucky, and I am. But that's the kind of luck I'm hoping not to have to cash in on.

This is only my second day housebound and I'm already dealing with cabin fever. I think I'll be stuck here about two more days, with the inevitable warmup possibly beginning on Tuesday. If the roads are reasonably bare by then, even if it's raining, I'll probably burn about a tank of gas, shopping, running errands, and just driving for the hell of it, because I can.

Friday, December 19, 2008


I took this shot of the view through the suite of three panoramic windows in my mother's bedroom to show how beautiful it is here today. The sun is strongly shining, and even though it's bitterly cold the water you see in the photo isn't frozen because it's salt water (Puget Sound).

Last night, very late, I heard a plaintive cry from down below, like that of a water bird in distress. But this morning there was no evidence of any creature in trouble.

The biggest problem with this is that everything is covered, under an inch of snow, with a layer of hard ice, and as much as I enjoy the scenery, I don't like being housebound. It causes me to reflect on how dependent we are on our modern forms of mobility, and I don't like that much either. I got desperate a couple hours ago, warmed up the car and tried a trial run up an unsanded hill about a quarter mile away. Slid backward, got myself straightened out, and made it safely home.

Maybe tomorrow some of this glare ice will melt, or the road crews will have enough stuff de-iced that I can escape captivity. But there's a fresh, even bigger storm coming tomorrow night. Then after that it's supposed to warm up, slightly.

Donkeys and Elephants: Endangered Species

The two major parties, despite their stranglehold on political processes in this country, are dangerously close to sliding into the oblivion of total irrelevance. Consider:

Obama, after promising to end the Iraq war, has shown himself more than willing to continue the war (because it's all one war, after all). By downsizing and rebranding Iraq, and pumping up the Afghan segment of the so-called Global War on Terror, he'll placate the currently-overstretched Pentagon while leaving them a sandbox to play in, at the same time throwing a sop to fascists, warheads, and Republican ethnic cleansers.

I admire his deftness at the old bait-and-switch routine, but keeping the war machine fat and happy rather than confronting it gives a country desperately longing for peace none of what it actually needs. We'll only achieve peace by adopting a pacific attitude, and Obama's Middle East schemes prove that the donkeys, when push comes to shove, are as belligerent as the elephants, if a little more realistic about the scale of our imperial adventures.

And while Obama has avoided outright lying about his war policy, his choice of a homophobic fake Christian to deliver the invocation at his inauguration shows that he's willing to lie down with dogs and eat Alpo. Seen by some as a conciliatory gesture, a more honest appraisal of this boneheaded move reveals a willingness to tolerate liars, thus fostering a spirit of dishonesty in the political process. Warren, a Californian, declared during the recent election that if Proposition 8 were to fail, he would no longer be free to speak out against gay marriage from the pulpit. I pity anyone gullible enough to swallow such obvious and crude deceit. Is this really anybody's idea of legitimate "dialogue?"

The capstone of this hypocritical and duplicitous Democrat-dominated political season is Caroline Kennedy's candidacy for one of New York's Senate seats. With virtually no discussion of her qualifications or lack of them, the party higher-ups have decided that the family's name and deep pockets guarantee her the right to that seat, even though she's never been elected to anything in her life. Is a supposedly intelligent electorate really expected to approve of this sort personalities-as-politics, which might have been designed by and for Oprah's TV show? But I have to be careful here lest I cast a slur against Oprah that's untrue and unfair.

After eight years of Republican misrule (or 20 of the last 28 years, actually), the donkeys have galloped to our rescue, only to reveal themselves to be as completely corrupted as those they're replacing, if a little softer spoken. They all swill at the same trough, they all subscribe to what Atrios calls "The American Hegemony Project," and to my eyes, the donkey and the elephant appear to be wrapped in an obscene embrace of the type sometimes crudely referred to as "69."

To hell with these donkeys and elephants, who pantomime combat while lustfully grappling with each other under the blanket. Neither party is addressing our real problems, because neither is willing to challenge the status quo, whence our problems originate. We desperately need another political animal. How about a giraffe, or an anteater?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Revolution Begins at Home

With his choice of fundamentalist ideologue Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inaugural, Barack Obama has destroyed whatever credibility his administration might have had with progressives, even before he takes office. As Atrios accurately sums up, Warren "Doesn't believe in evolution, equates gay marriage with child rape, and, frankly, is a fucking idiot."

I fully expected Obama to do the usual, silly "move to the center" routine, but I never expected him to be lying down with dog meat like this. It pretty much signals the end of any viability for two-party politics, not just for me, but for a lot of other people.

What's becoming obvious, as it was 40 years ago, is that revolution begins at home. Anybody here want to live life? Experience Liberty? Do we all want to pursue happiness? Then make sure nobody stops you.

But believe me when I say that we're going to have to make our own damn future, and that means not allowing ourselves to fall into the hands of the generals and Americans -- General Electric, General Foods, AT&T (American Take and Take), and ABC. High fructose corn syrup is to food what Fox News is to information.

Want a healthy mind in a healthy body? Then avoid the twin conspiracies of refined white stuff and refined public "education;" Insist on real food and real thought instead, and on real food for thought as well. We're entering an age of home cooking and home schooling.

Speaking of food, the best is always produced locally. The shorter the time and distance it travels before getting into your mouth, the less intrinsic value it loses. And almost needless to say, food you grow yourself is best of all.

If you want a house that harmonizes with its earthly environment rather than resisting and opposing it, you'll probably have to build it yourself.

These are all things I've known for 40 years, and I keep asking myself, now drawing toward the end part of life, why I've wasted so much time chasing the illusions sold by dying institutions.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Random Thoughts and Stray Observations

Highly Recommended

"Eat food, not too much, mostly plants," says Michael Pollan in his "In Defense of Food." In fact, he admits that's the highly condensed version of the book, but the rest is also worth reading, especially where the author channels the work of the eccentric 1930's-era American Dentist Weston Price, who travelled around the world studying the dietary habits of so-called "primitive peoples" and wrote what Pollan calls an "ecological critique of industrial civilization."

Price's critique gained some notoriety in the thirties, but disappeared after World War II, only to reappear among the hippies in the late 60's.

We knew a lot of valuable things in the late 60's -- examples of what might truly be called "wisdom" -- which we later forgot, and are only now having to recall.

Among movies I've stumbled over in the past ten years or so, I can't decide whether "The Thin Red Line" is the best war movie I've ever seen or just a bunch of pretentious, sophomoric, deliberately low-key philosophizing by a director (Terrence Malick) who apparently thought of himself as some kind of a latter-day Zarathustra (he did a disappearing act in 1978, only to reappear 20 years later to make this movie, then disappear again). Maybe it's some of both; the sections by Sean Penn seem a little wooden compared to what this gifted actor usually does, but I sure like the parts played by Nick Nolte and Elias Koteas.

It's worth seeing and evaluating because it's unconventional and makes an effort, and also noteworthy in that it hasn't been seen much, since it was released in the shadow of "Private Ryan."

I haven't read "The Small-Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses Are Beating the Global Competition" by Michael H Shuman, but I saw him interviewed on PBS early this morning, and this title is definitely now number one on my "to read" list. This guy might provide some good companion pieces to the work of Jim Kunstler, who's generally right, but always depressing.

Plans and Schemes

I'm beginning to wrap up my mother's affairs, and have no idea how long it's going to take. I'll be here a matter of months, but how many? Two? Six?

After that I'll be living in Seattle for a while. I'm signed up for a yoga teacher training class that runs from February to November. After that? Who knows?

I'm thinking of living no place in particular, and staying free to travel about as the urge strikes. That entails having very few possessions -- a few clothes, very few cooking utensils, a blanket, and a rug. I'd probably give up playing drums, as I don't want to be stuck hauling a kit around, so my musical future would be all acoustic -- guitar, doumbek, and Egyptian frame drum, a.k.a. tambourine.

I'd try to live in places where day-to-day driving is mostly unnecessary, and save that fuel allotment for the long-distance jumps. This will take some planning, but in 2008 alone I've had enough of being cooked in the summer and frozen in the winter, and I've seen too much of the benefits of easy mobility.

The painting, "Vertumnus" by Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527-1593) is a portrait of the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, and is composed entirely of images of fruits, vegetables, grains, and flowers.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

They Call Him the Fireman

...Except we meant "somebody who'll put the fire out," not the arsonist.

Jon Schwarz reminds us that just last March, Hillary Clinton suggested we should deal with the foreclosure crisis by appointing "an Emergency Working Group on Foreclosures" to be headed by "eminent leaders" like Alan Greenspan, Paul Volcker, and Robert Rubin.

Jon comments, "This is a great idea, and I hope it can be implemented as soon as we've established my proposed High-Level Emergency Working Group on Preventing Cannibalism headed by Jeffrey Dahmer."

Presumably, it doesn't matter too much that Jeff's dead. And be sure to read the comments over at Jon's place. Some of the best blogging these days is in the comments sections.


It's not exactly news, but Tom Tomorrow notes that Sean Hannity is "a lying scumbag."

(I)f you only listened to Hannity’s show today, you would know that Obama is delaying the release of his report about his campaign’s contacts with Blagojevich for a week — and you would have heard Hannity’s commentary about a Christmas week document dump, which he finds verrrrry interesting, the sort of thing you do when you have something to hide, blah blah blah.

What you would not know is that Obama’s delay is at the request of the prosecutor himself.

While you're there, be sure to check out Tomorrow's latest cartoon, the first installment of "2008: the Year in Review."

Climate Control

When it comes to things like changing over from oil to other sources of energy and making a genuine effort to deal with global climate meltdown, Obama's cabinet appointments look pretty good to me.

Joining the group will be Steven Chu, a Nobel laureate in physics whom Mr. Obama designated to lead the Energy Department.

Imagine that, putting a scientist in charge! Maybe now we'll have an Energy Department that actually does something, other than just getting paid and taking up space.

One things is for sure: Even as Obama made these appointments he was "Acknowledging that a succession of presidents and Congresses had failed to make much progress on the issues." Still, some of us anyway can feel a little better about these critical issues, because we're at least anticipating a government that actually addresses problems that truly exist in the real world, rather than one that's living in some greed-driven fantasy.

And that, my friends, is change you can believe in.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bad News

The toughest thing we have to do right now is honestly acknowledge the brute facts of our changed existence.

The era of perpetual, endless growth is done. We have now entered an era of perpetual contraction. This is because the supply of endless growth's fuel -- cheap oil -- is bound to contract in both the short and long run.

In recent years we've had only two major industries left in the U.S. which employed millions, car building and suburb building. One has vanished, and the other is about to.

Americans are generally not mentally prepared to face the tremendous economic dislocations now occurring. Whether the new administration is prepared to face facts remains to be seen. If Obama and his underlings carelessly start throwing around the word "growth," we'll know they're not engaged with the true state of affairs, and that will make things worse.

"Worse" means "disorderly." Food and fuel riots, general strikes, sectarian, racial, and ethnic violence. An administration that won't face facts won't have a handle on anything.

The three-bedroom, two-bath tract home as a standardized totem of the typical family life in this country is vanished, and the old model of the family farm (or hippie commune), with its vegetable garden, goat and chickens, wood stoves, and water supplied by a well or springbox, is destined to be the new standard. Land distribution and use will soon become very hot topics.

For much, much more on these and related subjects, read this.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mission Accomplished Sans Election

I got into a discussion on a political forum elsewhere which turned interesting, as the conversation evolved into the topic that about half of what's said in political discussions everywhere addresses, namely, why is our country so fucked up, considering that its government is elected, and how did we get into this mess we're in now?

My personal opinion -- and I can't really prove any of this -- is that the ruling class (another name for it would be "the very rich") have had an iron grip on political discourse at least since Reagan took office nearly 30 years ago. They've controlled the conversation mainly through two means:

a) By manipulating a system of Congressional bribery ("campaign contibutions"), the corporatocracy controls national legislation and buys only the laws it wants, at the same time eliminating any public safeguards or benefits it hates; and

b) Through its ownership of the corporate media, especially network and cable network TV outlets, the corporatocracy controls and "frames" the national political debate. That's why it's "terrorism" when they do it and part of "the struggle for democracy" when we do the exact identical same thing.

Fortunately, the iron grip of this ruling class is now broken, and not beause we elected Obama, a corporate tool if I ever saw one. It's because the ruling class has done us the favor of committing economic suicide, and the way of life we've lived for 60 years, a way of life which brought us the pleasures of excessive affluence, but which benefitted mainly them, this way of life is finished.

So thanks, ruling class! You've made our daily lives for the near and distant future much, much materially harder, but at least we won't have to put up with you any more, and maybe we can even go back to being rational, self-interested, independent citizens again, with actual minds of our own.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Around the Blogs

Photo from Greenasheville.

At A Tiny Revolution, Bernard Chazelle explains why Americans have the world's best health care -- not.

Blognigger. This guy is totally awesome. I'll put up a link in the sidebar and read this sucker every day. Thanks to the miscreants at the Reciprocal Crap Exchange for turning me on to BN.

Gracie is back, and treats us to an odiferous bouquet of the lamest, most unconsciously forehead-slapping predictions of 2008. All these 180-degree-off prognostications were made by experts in their fields, of course, which is, as Grace notes, "Why they're paid the big bucks."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Modern Times, Pt. II

I've offended some people lately because of my inflexible and intolerant attitude toward an administration that hasn't taken office yet. And since some have found my tone "ignorant and insulting," I'll say no more about Obama and the war for the next six months or so, but rest assured I'll be back early in June to remind my critics that I told them so.

There are times I'm tempted to just forget politics altogether, but I can't seem to shake the obsession. Maybe if I was as pessimistic as George Orwell I'd stop arguing politics, since we only continue to debate and argue if we think we have a chance of convincing someone to change his or her mind.

The thing is, I know the things Orwell knew, and there's no way to dodge them. I know those things because he told them to me, which was the purpose of "1984," to communicate reality. It was the most prophetic book of the century recently passed, because Orwell understood the pathology of modern industrial societies. He sliced through the propaganda of fascism, and Stalinist communism, and liberalism and saw what they all had in common -- the role of perpetual warfare, its economic and psychological necessity in the modern state, and the ability of modern citizens of all political persuasions to both enthusiastically endorse the war and at the same time deny that they are doing so.

Orwell, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx -- here were three of the deepest thinkers of modern times. Each of them had flaws and weaknesses, being human, but together taken together they reveal the essence of the human dilemma as it unfolds under the radically changed conditions of modern times, as different from pre-modern times as pre-modern times were from the age of the hunter-gatherers. What these three thinkers had in common is the capicity to reveal truths about ourselves that are disturbing and disquieting, but which we ignore at our utmost peril.

I'd be much better off if I was apolitical. My life would be tranquil, but I don't know what I'd write about.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Modern Times

Charlie Chaplin had modern times figured out. He knew we live in an era that basically sucks, because everything is too complicated and goes too fast, and that we're surrounded by lunatics because lots of people are driven totally nuts by this speed and complexity. But he also knew there are things about these times that are fun.

Yesterday my cell phone stopped working, but not completely. I couldn't hear anybody who called, and callers couldn't hear me. However, I could still hear the phone ringing, and it still made that little chiming sound when I turned it on or off.

By degrees, I discovered my phone still worked, but only when I had the dorky-looking earpiece in. That meant I had to leave it in all the time, and walk around like a stupid earphonehead, disguised as a schizophrenic muttering "Tall Quayle, outta Quayle" to himself.

It was an electronics problem/malfunction. I would take the earpiece out, and the phone still thought it was in, aparently. It's a real binary thinker, that cell phone.

Now the problem is fixed, but I don't know how. Either the device repaired itself, or I fixed it when I dropped it on the pavement as I arrived home last night. There's just no telling.

Modern life can be so frustrating it can make us scream, but it has its advantages as well. For example, I'm at this very moment using the wireless broadband connection at Whack in the Box while I wait for the programs for my mom's memorial service to be printed at Kinko, right across the street.

UPDATE: Whack in the Box is apparently a concerned citizen-type of fast-food corporate entity. While surfing the net using Whack's wireless router, I was blocked from visiting James Wolcott's blog at A "site administrator" put the kaibosh on my access to Wolcott, noting that Vanity Fair's site contains morally questionable features like "swimsuits" and "nudity." And let's face it, if you're sitting there surfing while eating bacon cheeseburgers, you might have a heart attack, and if that happens it could be worse if you also had an erection at the same time.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Everybody Poos

Schnorred from Atrios.

Heiress, Apparently

This will make a nice, neat sequence. As Hillary Clinton departs the Senate to take over the State Department, Gov. Paterson of New York will be easily persuaded by the high priests of the Democratic Party that Caroline Kennedy is the only logical choice to slide easily and seamlessly into Mrs. Clinton's Senate shoes.

As the New York Times points out, the Kennedy family's deep pockets put her in an excellent position to run against and easily beat the weird and personally creepy Rudy Giuliani in 2010.

Mr. Kennedy’s message, according to Democratic aides who were not authorized to discuss the conversations, is that Ms. Kennedy — backed by the Kennedy family’s extensive fund-raising network — would have the wherewithal to run back-to-back costly statewide races without having to seek help from Mr. Paterson or Mr. Schumer. The ability to raise significant money is a key concern for Mr. Paterson, who has been deluged from every direction by politicians interested in the seat, which the governor is expected to fill early next year. Whoever is chosen will have to run in 2010 and again two years later.

I have nothing against Caroline Kennedy, but I'm a little appalled when I reflect that high offices in this country are frequently treated as hereditary fiefs, and maintaining them largely dependent on the financial resources available to the designated heir. Put it this way: a familiar family name may qualify someone for a high office, and a huge bank account certainly enhances one's suitability to fill the position.

This is exactly, precisely the sort of circumstance our founders sought to avoid.

Thanks to the Crooks and Liars blog for the heads up, and see also, Al Giordano's blog, "The Field"

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Downsize This

He hasn't even taken the oath yet, but there's plenty of evidence already that Obama is just another political phony.

We've been fooled and betrayed by the Democrats again.

But...but...he was a young, good looking, intelligent, articulate BLACK guy, so easy and eminently correct to love. How could we have gone wrong?

And would it really have made a difference if we had ignored the election, or even chosen McCain/Palin?

Obama has announced he's rethinking his position on the Iraq War, or as the New York Times put it, undergoing an "apparent evolution" in his approach to this egregious crime and national disgrace. Jeremy Scahill (via John Caruso at Jon Schwarz's blog) supplies the necessary corrective to our wide-eyed naivete and idealism, and our national infatuation with Obama: Anyone who took the time to cut past Barack Obama's campaign rhetoric of "change" and bringing an "end" to the Iraq war realized early on that the now-president-elect had a plan that boiled down to a down-sizing and rebranding of the occupation.

Caruso adds, I particularly appreciate the Times' choice of headline: "Campaign Promises on Ending the War in Iraq Now Muted by Reality." This is an extremely useful principle I'm sure we'd all like to employ at one time or another: "Unfortunately, Tom, my promise to pay back that money you loaned me has now been muted by reality—namely, the reality that I never had any intention to. Sucker!"

Also, as usual, Dennis Perrin has a few choice words for the Democratic wolves in sheeps' clothing, whose hypocrisy is abundantly revealed even before they grasp the levers of power.

We are not getting that pony for Christmas after all.

Of course, the war will continue, and since it's endless, and pursued for its own sake, it makes little difference whether we're dropping napalm on farmers and water buffalo planting rice in "enemy enclaves" in the Mekong Delta or shredding little kids in Anbar Province with cluster bombs. It's all the same, and now that Americans have been lulled out of their collective anxiety by the stock market's ceasing to drop like a stone while gas prices continue to do so, we can all go to Disneyland while the war continues. Is there a better definition of moral depravity?

Remember that after the Seventh Seal was opened, it was quiet in heaven for the space of half an hour.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Dorothy Marie "Dotty" Talbott Brice, April 26, 1920 -- December 7, 2008

Our mother and long-time Pacific Northwest resident Dotty Brice passed away yesterday evening at about 7:40, after a short but intense struggle with lung and liver cancer. She was 88.

Born in Western Kansas early in the last century, Mom grew up poor, in a rural hamlet with the unlikely name of Radium. None of its residents had running water or electricity in their homes, and she always told us that as a child she believed the houses couldn't be electrified because the light bulbs would break if a truck carrying them attempted to pass over the railroad tracks on the outskirts of town.

She was nine when the Great Depression began, left home for the big city (Kansas City) to seek clerical work at 18, and was 21 when World War II began. She met and married our father, Don Brice, a U.S. Army sergeant at the time, in 1943. I was born in 1944 and the twins, Christine and Susan, in 1949.

Don and Dotty lived for ten years in Youngstown, Ohio where he worked as a broadcaster and she was a homemaker. In 1957 the family moved to the west coast, settling in Seattle. Don died in 1983.

Mom moved to the Olympic Peninsula in 1992, and was the longest-residing homeowner in her area at the time of her death. She was well known for her talent as a dancer, and for teaching a weekly country line dancing class at the Port Ludlow Bay Club, until March of this year.

Besides her children, she is survived by seven grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and by her sister, Florence Scott, 96, of Lawrence, Kansas.

David Brice
Christine Warmedahl
Sue Burke

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Crossing Over

It's time for a soul to cross over, from this side to the other side.

She will need to have a coin, to pay the ferryman, Charon by name.

Charon will take possession of this soul to convey it to the other side, across the dark river called Styx.

She is crossing the river peacefully and with great dignity and tranquility, even as you read this.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Time of Our Lives

I'm dealing with a family situation right now that necessitates my shutting the blog down for a few days.

But never fear, I shall return shortly, and when I do I promise to be a much looser and louder cannon than ever before. The times require us to holler loudly, and to keep doing it continuously.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Zombie America

The country has now been zombified. The accompanying illustration shows the CEO's of the three major automakers arriving for the start of their congressional hearing last week. These guys have been dead so long they've forgotten they were ever alive, and are unaware the economy has gone bust, although they seem to be vaguely concsious that their own companies are having a little bit of a "cash flow problem." When asked how they plan to deal with changing conditions in the auto markets, they looked baffled, as if their congressional interlocutors had asked them the solution to some incalculable quadratic equation.

For the rest of us, the big question has become "What's next?" or "Where do we go from here?" If you want to know the answer, I believe the best person to read is James Howard Kunstler. I would rather rely on the opinion of someone who's been right about everything for the last five years than, say, Thomas Friedman of the Times, whose predictions are more often wrong than right.

Kunstler hasn't always been right about the details of world and national economic developments, and his predictions of the timing of things is as frequently off as anyone else's. However, he understands the fundamental shape and fundamental weaknesses of modern economics, and he is militantly honest about the latter. Since well before 2006, he has been forecasting peak oil and, especially, the current economic meltdown and debt tsunami, and describing very accurately exactly how and why these things would unspool exactly as they did.

He posts to his blog once a week. Read today's post, Zombie Economics, if you want to find out where we're going over the next couple of years and beyond. It's not a pretty picture, but at the same time it's not hopeless. A short sample:

My guess, given the usual time-lag factor, is that the super-inflation snap-back will occur six to eighteen months from now. And the main result of all this will be our inability to buy the imported oil that comprises two-thirds of the oil we require to keep WalMart and Walt Disney World running. At some point, then, in the early months of the Obama administration, we'll learn that "change" is not a set of mere lifestyle choices but a wrenching transition away from all our familiar and comfortable habits into a stark and rigorous new economic landscape.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Remember "the Surge" and how successful it was? Remember how we were celebrating "victory" in Iraq?

Remember how, not so long ago, some of us were still actually listening to the people who had been wrong about absolutely everything for five years? Some of us were even going to the trouble of debating with them.

Remember how Richard Perle, aka "Baghdad Dick" said back in 2003, And a year from now, I'll be very surprised if there is not some grand square in Baghdad that is named after President Bush.

OK, it may have taken a little over a year, but I want all you skeptics and all you America-haters who secretly favor the terrorists to know that Perle's prediction has come true. There was an inspiring ceremony in Baghdad recently, during which, as Bernard Chazelle describes it:

Iraqis could not contain their excitement yesterday as the old central Baghdad square was renamed after George W. Bush in a highly emotional ceremony. Following an ancient Iraqi tradition, an effigy of President Bush was held upside down as a show of respect and then burned to the ground. Collective jubilation reached its peak as the assembled masses broke into Iraq's new national anthem, "Bush the Babylonian Burning Man." Throngs of admirers were then allowed to show their gratitude by banging on Bush's head with their shoes. When the effigy fell head first into the crowds, adoring fans got a chance to pelt it with their own plastic water bottles and spit on it with their own saliva -- what a scholar at the Heritage Foundation has already dubbed "The Great Spit of Freedom." Thousands of grateful Iraqis held up giant signs that read "Death to America," obviously an innocent misspelling of the words "Our American Hero!"

So how abouit it, kids, did we learn anything this time? At a minimum, I wouild hope we learned three things:

1) To stop listening to "experts," all of whose predictions are always exactly, precisely 100 percent wrong;

2) That people who are not gung-ho for the next war are possibly motivated by patriotism and concern for the country's welfare, and are not necessarily enemy sympathizers;

3) That paying for trillion-dollar wars with a credit card is not a good idea.

Even if we did learn something this time, it's probably too late. I don't think we're going to recover from the last eight years. But I'm seriously glad the Iraqis had their renaming ceremony in that Baghdad Square, because the ceremony serves as both a synopsis and a final verdict on this criminal and moronic neocon Bush administration.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Urban Energy

After being my mother's sole caretaker for nearly a month straight, I'm relieved to be taking a few hours off (my sisters are relieving me for part of the weekend), which I'm spending on the east side of the water, in Seattle proper.

In fact, I'm in the most densely populated and energetic zone of Seattle, at the center of the urban complex, and I love the energy here. It's got little in common with where my mom lives, an hour's drive and an hour's boat ride away (including waiting and loading). Over there, Obama is a socialist, but over here, he's a mild reformer. In Port Ludlow, gay marriage is a controversy. On Capitol Hill, it's a right.

But it's not just people's politics. Every aspect of culture you could name between here and there shows up on the radar in a comprehensive pattern of diametrical opposition. This place is overwhelmingly young and aggressively accepting of life in the unmerciful present; that place, overwhelmingly old, clueless, left behind.

There are lots of gen-X urban professionals on the Hill, some with quite a bit of money. But the stench of thousand-dollar bills doesn't hang over this place the way it does in the neighborhood where I'm staying, and neither does the decaying odor of right-wing ideology.

This makes any decision about the future a no brainer. I'll be moving over here sometime next year, probably to the Greenwood-Phinney Ridge neighborhood.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Parliament of Whores

Every once in a while we're privy to a snapshot from D.C. that throws the truth about the people ruling us into bold relief. Today's was the eulogy delivered on the Senate floor to the illustrious career of the Esteemed Colleague from Alaska, Senator Stevens. Apparently the only crimes a corrupt political hack like Stevens could possibly commit that would cause his peers to shun his presence are the sexual variety.

And in the end, they gave him a standing ovation, even though he didn't steal all that much. Such is the utter cluelessness of those who pretend to rule us, imposters whose strings are being pulled by their employers, and who, even at moments like this, which so clearly underscore the establishment's moral bankruptcy, remain infatuated with their own narcissistic image looking back at them from the fun house mirror.

When I turned on CNN early this morning, Harry Reid, in a live shot from the Senate podium, was talking about what a wonderful human being Stevens is and what an illustrious career the old grifter has had. The ancient dean of the Senate, Robert Byrd sat directly behind Reid, looking glum, and like a fossil from the century before last, and I was sorry to see him taking part in this gross spectacle. Byrd, after all, was one of the very few to oppose the Iraq War in the strongest possible terms, at a time when doing so got people called "traitor" and worse. But when push comes to shove, you know that Byrd, along with the rest of the so-called "liberals" in this hollowed-out political corpse of a Senate is hypnotized by the self-serving mythology of the "august body," which has long since submitted to the iron collar of the corporatocracy and functioned only as a tool of the billionaire class.

The American corporatocracy has fastened its iron grip on the American economy and American society chiefly through two means: first by infusing enough money into the political process to turn our national legislature into a huge payoffs-and-patronage plantation, and secondly by setting the parameters of our national political conversation through corporate ownership of the television news organs which monopolize both the available air space and the attention of the masses.

Now this ruling class has shown itself incapable of ruling anything, even itself. After two disastrous and criminal wars of failed, hare-brained imperial adventurism in the past 40 years, and two total economic collapses in 80 years caused by capitalist feeding frenzies, I'm going around asking people, "Didja learn anything yet?" and getting blank stares in reply. But at least I'm hoping most of them now realize we've got problems.

What the solution to our problems might be I can't say. I doubt very much that Barack Obama is going to part the Red Sea and lead us before Pharaoh's onrushing chariots in our escape to the Promised Land. And I'm certain our solution doesn't reside in the Senate. But the biggest difficulty I'm having with all this is that even revolutionaries don't have the answer. Karl Marx's solution to the problem of capitalist cannibalism was a pie-in-the-sky paradise of brotherly love and groovy vibes which would cause us all to start sharing everything equally.

However, even though Marx's prescription is purest fantasy, his diagnosis is dead on, and looking at the wreckage which is all that remains of American society and the U.S. economy, we now see clearly that "Society can no longer live under this bourgeoisie, in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with society."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Who Could Have Known This Would Happen?

Read Dean Baker's commentary this morning for a very short, very accurate, and very complete description of how Wall Street and the Bush administration cooperated in producing the biggest economic crisis and bottomless pit of debt and insolvency the world has seen in the last 79 years.

Baker also ridicules the disaster's major players and their flunkies in portions of the corporate media for treating the meltdown as if it was an act of God, like a tornado or eathquake, rather than result of stupid, reckless, and blatantly criminal policies.

For example, the New York Post compares Hank Paulson's current predicament to the troubles of one caught in "a storm."

This kind of excuse making won't work, and Hank Paulson needs to be behind bars. He was one of the primary movers and shakers who created the degrees of leverage which made a disaster of this magnitude possible, and he personally made hundreds of millions by doing so.

This is not going to be over till we see some of these robbers in prison.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Future Blues

This morning Paulson and Bernanke are in front of Congress and on TV defending the however-many-billions-it-is bailout of just about everybody.

I'm not sure why these guys don't seem to understand that they're beating a bunch of dead horses. Sometimes I think they do understand it, but just want to pretend that we can go on living the way we have been for the last sixty years, with our suburbs and SUV's and Hot Pockets and Iraq Wars and finance "industry," and that at some point everything will return to what has passed for normal in this dysfunctional land for the past few decades.

And maybe most of us -- the "general public" -- believe that too. But I feel certain that Paulson and Bernanke and anyone else who's the least bit knowledgeable knows, if only somewhere deep down in their heart of hearts, that the old way of life is dead, and that ten years from now, twenty years from now, and from now on, Americans will be living a much less affluent, much simpler, much more localized, and much more labor-intensive kind of existence.

In other words, we're being forced to join the human race.

But the HMFIC's, or Head Mothers in Charge, are not helping to make the transition from prodigal past to sober future any easier, with their bailouts and giveaways and transfusions of the stuff of life into dead animals. And if you want to know what the near future holds for ordinary people -- people like us -- you don't have to be an economics expert, but just one who pays attention to basics.

In 2009 we'll experience a catastrophic inflation. The bottom will drop out of the currency as a result of all this money the Fed is magically creating out of thin air and giving to insolvent financial institutions and businesses. It's money made of nothing but computer blips, and the computer is the twenty-first-century equivalent of the printing press. The relevant historical example is Weimar Germany of the early 1920's.

So before too long we'll wake up one morning to 27-dollar loaves of bread and ten-dollar bus fare.

The only thing that's keeping it from happening right now is the depressed price of crude oil, but next year world production will drop by nine percent, even without deliberate withholding of product by OPEC, and diminishing supply will catch up with diminished demand. We'll be looking at 200-buck oil soon enough.

It's inconceivable to think that Paulson and Bernanke don't know these things. They must know, because they're economists, after all. What can they and we possibly gain by pretending things are rosier than we know they are?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Bail My Ass Out, Johnson

There's a big brew-ha-ha over whether the gov should or shouldn't bail out the American carmaking industry. I think it should, but that from now on, any time the gov, which is us, bails out any business, we need to stipulate how the money is going to be spent. Taxpayer largesse needs to be awarded contingent on a company's using it for productive purposes, rather than just throwing it into the black hole of failed business models.

Business people should never be trusted to make business decisions. Only government should be allowed to do that. Commerce is much too important to ever be left in the hands of people whose main concern is making a lot of money for themselves.

So in this case, Detroit should get our help only if it agrees to retool its factories for making hybrid cars and light trucks that can be plugged in, rather than using our cash to pop out more F-150's and Escalades. It's our money, so we have the right to demand that it be spent on future, not past forms of enterprise.

The car executives have shown no ability whatsoever to see into the future, because they're so heavily invested in the petroleum-based type of vehicle, and loathe to give up the huge replacement parts business that will die a quick death after the public has turned to what is essentially an electric car. But it's going to happen, and trying to hang on to the past is pointless and self-destructive.

The main reason we study history is not so we can know what happened back in the day, but so we can understand the present, and anticipate future certainties, probabilities, and possibilities.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Cowboys? or Uncowboys?

A correspondent at another cyber location brought to my attention that Joe Biden, in an October campaign speech in Seattle, said that "the world" would "test" President Obama shortly after he takes office.

“Mark my words,” Biden said, “it will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy,” making an obvious reference to the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.

Biden is a foreign policy wonk. He's an international relations big shot in the Senate and he gets regular briefings from the CIA, NSA, etc.

However, we don't need inside sources to know that the Russian president, What'shisname (Putin's sock puppet), has announced that his country is ready to foment an eastern-European version of the Cuban missile crisis, in response to the Bush administration's hare-brained, deliberately provocative installation of U.S. missiles in Poland, since that story has been on network TV. I'm sure that's at least part of what Biden was referring to.

But I'm not sure why this is such a big deal. The Russians are saying they're going to react to our missiles in Poland exactly the same way we did when they installed their missiles in Cuba in 1962. So where's the crisis? or the "test," as Biden would have it?

This should be a no-brainer. Obama should remove the missiles from Poland, which Bush had no business putting there. Actually, I don't know if they're already installed, in the process of being installed, or still in the planning stage. And I also don't know if what Biden and Obama plan in response to this "test" that's coming down the road, but that response should be obvious.

However, I do know that the neocon legacy of yanking other people's chains, swaggering around the world like a ruff, tuff creampuff, playing the bully, and habitually provoking everyone like effing idiot as Bush and Cheney did, this is not the way to achieve the "peace" they said they wanted, or the way to put an end to war.

Maybe Obama and Biden will do a little better with this kind of stuff. That remains to be seen.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Lost Horizon

Whether you're an Obama fan or not -- and I'm sort of a lukewarm one -- there's no denying the dramatic change in the political atmosphere signaled by his election. It's mainly due to the sudden influx of new participants in that hoary quadrennial ritual, the casting of the ballots (or pushing of the computer screens, or mailing of the pink envelopes, or whatever) -- large numbers of voters who were formerly alienated from the process for one reason or another.

But at the same time this is occurring, the psycho one-third who have had their way with us for most of these past eight years -- most of the last 30 years, actually -- are going bananas, like so many rats hopping about on an electrified wire grid. They know their day is done, and they're not going quiet into that good night.

Today as I sat in the Bay Club, the central gathering place which serves the obnoxiously cushy and affluent exurb where I'm currently staying as I care for my aged mother, I was minding my own business and using their wireless connection. Out of the blue, I was rudely and bluntly assaulted by an aged fascist freak, a braying jackass who got up in my face, rattling off Rush Limbaugh's talking points from yesterday faster than I could shrug my shoulders and give the standard non-response.

"I'm not gonna listen to this," I finally said, as I packed up my lappy and ran for the door.

It was the wrong thing to do. So tomorrow I'll stand my ground when he returns to rattle my cage once more -- and I know he will-- I'll try politely, very politely, asking him to please leave me alone. And if that doesn't work -- who knows?

I've said it before, but it bears repeating. We're moving on, and this train isn't waiting for anybody. Therefore, it left a whole bunch of clueless Joe Jacksons standing in the station.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Artifacts Among the Ruins

Here is a strange artifact that was left on an internet discussion site. I stumbled across it this morning:

How about this. even if the constitution is not based on Christian morals, then let it begin now. It is because we the people of America have believed that our nation was founded on Christian principles that we have reached as far as we have and if this country isn't your country, a Christian based one. Then don't let the door hit you in the rear on the way out because you are part of the problem not the solution. Its all to easy to stand back with criticism for what you don't understand or don't want to understand. Try getting your spriturial hands dirty in becoming part of the cure needed for this Great Christian Nation of ours. One Nation under God...

Leaving aside the debate over the true, historical nature of both Jesus and the U.S. Constitution, and assuming only what everyone agrees is true about both of them, I find it strange that anyone could think of the U.S. today as a nation which Jesus would recognize, much less approve of. But strange as it may be, I know there are those among us who believe that because they confess a belief in His divinity, and because they willingly accept a particular symbolic interpretation of the meaning of His death as the central fact of their own existence, that they have found the one truth that will save not only themselves, but the entire country.

And many of them further believe that this country is particularly favored by their God, and that our exceptional state of grace, as much as their own belief, makes us God's own nation. How anybody could think such things about a country which has done what this one has done to unto others -- to Vietnam, to Iraq, and to tiny, defenseless nations such as Nicaragua, is beyond my understanding. I also fail to understand how any God worthy of the name could love, much less favor, a country ruled by a materialistic, predatory ruling class whose greed is so extreme that it manages to get caught up in a feeding frenzy extreme enough to result in its own destruction, and does this twice in less than a century.

But then, what do I know?

It seems to me that the True God of the United States is not the Christian God, but the one named by the great 20th-century American poet and prophet, Allen Ginsberg, in his 1955 poem "Howl:"

Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the crossbone soulless jailhouse and Congress of sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judgment! Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stunned governments!
Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a cannibal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking tomb!
Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows! Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the long streets like endless Jehovahs!

Now, however, the great god Moloch might be dead. The way of life this country has pursued for the last sixty years appears to have ended. Wall Street has created a bottomless black hole of financial insolvency which now sweeps the world markets before it, at a time when the most critical of the world's life-support commodities are past their peak of production. The old world passes away, and the new one is not yet in sight. We're all holding our breath, waiting to see what happens next.

The future is a mystery, but I can tell you one thing about it for certain: it will not be dominated by an ancient Mediterranean mystery cult whose centerpiece is a resurrection god of the Osiris-Dionysius type named Jesus. True, even though it's not written into law, there have been times when the Christ cult virtually owned the cultural life of this country, mainly in the century before last. But those days are gone, and they're not coming back.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Death Cult Day

Yesterday was the day we set aside for celebrating our national death cult. November 11 is a firm date; it can't be moved for the purpose of creating a three-day weekend, and, like those who have been killed in wars, it never changes.

The problem with Memorial Day is that it conflates a just regard for the pain, misery, and extraordinary personal sacrifice combat veterans have experienced, and which I acknowledge and respect, with an enthusiasm for war, and by extension an enthusiasm for death and suffering. This dreadful holiday sends a message which declares on the one hand that the sacrifices made by veterans are more than should be asked of anyone, but at the same time asserts that this pain and torment is something that future generations should aspire to and seek to emulate.

Be a real man. Hold up as heroes those who have suffered and died in the current invasion of someone else's country, and be prepared to sign up for the next one yourself, wherever it may be. It will be your rite of passage.

Read this, and then consider: the ongoing and endless despair of dead combatants' surviving family members, the daily misery of those maimed in combat, and the psychological torment of those who have seen too much of what war can do. These are not things to be glorified and romanticized the way we currently do on Memorial Day.

And this is not the way we'll put an end to war. Better we should turn away from war's horrors in disgust, and swear a solemn vow, "No more Vietnams; no more Iraqs; no more Afghanistans."

The current economic depression we're experiencing signals that the way of life we've pursued these past 60 years is dead, and I pray that the war machine which that departed way of life fed on, along with the bloody-handed ruling class who engineered it, are likewise boxed up and ready to lower into the ground.