Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Visiting internet discussion groups is worthwhile if for no other reason than you can sometimes learn things you would not have otherwise heard about. For instance, on a visit to my regular political discussion board this morning I found out that the great country-western singer Merle Haggard has forsaken his fightin'-side-of-me persona and, late in life, taken to penning and singing antiwar messages. In 2006, Haggard wrote and recorded:

"Freedom is stuck in reverse
Let’s get out of Iraq and get back on track
And let’s rebuild America first"

You can get all the details of this remarkable transformation here.

I always knew Merle's heart was basically in the right place. Anybody who can move from note to note as smoothly and effortlessly as he does has to have a soul.

He and I both used to live in Bakersfield. I don't know why he moved away, but I suspect for the same reason I did -- the air quality, or lack of it. Like him, I've acquired this little habit called breathing.

And I'll bet he gave up whiskey. Nothing like giving up whiskey to turn a person into a full-fledged mensch.

So there's your sermon for today, boys and girls. Stay away from whiskey and cigarettes, and you too can transform yourself from a belligerent and obnoxious cheerleader for international aggression into a gentle, peace-loving writer of antiwar songs.

And while you're at it, stay away from Bakersfield.

Go Spy on Yourself

The Democratic Congress has refused to give Bush the surveillance bill he's been demanding.

The telecom companies who illegally spied on Americans are not off the hook. There's a very real possibility they'll eventually have to answer to us for what they did.

I'll consider this the REAL Democratic response to Bush's State of the Union speech.

We've been waiting for 13 months for the Democrats to do something right. I'm relieved that they finally showed they've got it in them.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Les Tendances Dangereuses

Mitt Romney and John McCain are accusing each other of harboring liberal tendencies.

Men from Uranus

In another solar system of the internet, a certain correspondent, a Democrat, expressed the notion that if we had to live with a Republican in the White House after Dubya vacates it, he'd prefer that Republican to be John McCain.

I guess hard times make people really desperate.

McCain isn't a whole hell of a lot different from Dubya. He speaks better. That's about it.

He's just as divorced from reality.

This is a guy who sings "Bomb Iran" (to the tune of "Barbara Ann") when asked what we should do about Iran and Ahmedinejad. He's now saying that "It's a tough war we're in. It's not going to be over right away. There's going to be other wars." See yesterday's article at HuffPo.

He's obviously insane. I don't mean that as a figure of speech or hyperbole. I'm deadly serious.

He's running strong in straw polls against Hillary right now, but that will change when people realize that he's a bullet-headed little fascist who's never seen a foreign intervention he doesn't like. The only reason they don't realize it now is because they're so distracted by the t.v. show called "Horse Race for the Presidency."

This country is yearning for peace, and our financial situation demands it, and this "straight talk" lunatic promises more war. I hope he keeps doing so.

I don't know what it would take for the poltical process in this country to come to terms with the real world. Both parties keep coming up with fantasy solutions like insuring prosperity through supply side economics, or neutralizing terror by establishing democracy in the Middle East, or maintaining our present way of life with alternative energy sources, and reality keeps blind siding us with unpleasant consequences for pursuing such follies.

Maybe a partial solution would be for all the delegates and VIP's at the Republican National Convention this summer to abstain from recreational drinking for relaxation, and take large doses of LSD or psilocybin mushrooms or ecstasy instead.

Democrats are from Mars; Republicans are from Uranus. With a little chemical tweaking of their psyches, they just might relocate to a planet a little closer in.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Tragic Frivolity

My friend Eadler says, "There is no sign that any major candidate is willing to discuss this topic (decline of American hegemony). Ron Paul and Kucinich, who have little credibility with the public at large, are the only ones who approach discussing this topic, but in my opinion, they do not have the pragmatic approach required to fix our problems. They are far too ideological in their approach."

To which I reply: That's the biggest tragedy of all. If any of these products of the corporate-bankrolled, lobbyist-directed political system, from Huckabee on the right to Edwards on the left, has considered these kinds of problems, they've shown no indication of it.

A scholar like Parag Khanna, writing on this topic today in the New York Times magazine, can analyze America's position in the world and the pressures exerted on us by significant others and then make suggestions for action based on the analysis, but are any of the candidates capable of acting rationally and proportional to the changes of the last seven years? Are any of them even capable of understanding these things?

Sometimes it appears that our political candidates actually take the t.v. show they're starring in seriously. But unfortunately, there is absolutely nothing so momentous or profound that network executives can't trivialize it, turn it into a sitcom, and then use it as a platform for advertising.

If there was a nuclear exchange somewhere, it would immediately become a made-for-t.v. miniseries, with its own theme music and its own sponsor, on CNN. "'The End of the World,' brought to you by Depends Undergarments."

America's diminished postion in the world is not a t.v. show. It can't be trivialized or reduced to a sound byte. And how our political establishment deals with new realities, and even whether they are first of all willing to accept reality, will largely determine our future position in the world.

Assessing the quality of the candidates for leader of our country, Parag Khanna comments: Turn on the TV today, and you could be forgiven for thinking it’s 1999. Democrats and Republicans are bickering about where and how to intervene, whether to do it alone or with allies and what kind of world America should lead. Democrats believe they can hit a reset button, and Republicans believe muscular moralism is the way to go. It’s as if the first decade of the 21st century didn’t happen — and almost as if history itself doesn’t happen.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Wising Up

I got my latest issue of the New Yorker (Jan 28) in the mail yesterday and turned immediately to the elections article. The author, George Packer, seems to assume that, as with some NFL playoff seasons, the winner in the "Democrat Division" will be the Superbowl winner, and that we've already reached the division finals. Or in other words, the race for the White House is now between Clinton and Obama.

I soon found myself reading a personality piece, which turned out mostly to be about Clinton. Packer says that the "most important" difference between Hillary and Obama, "whose policy views...are almost indistinguishable," is their "rival conceptions of the Presidency."

You know, their policy views may be "almost undistinguishable," but I don't really have any reliable idea what they are. To find out specifically what either of them plans to do about the war in Iraq or the foreclosure landslide or anything else you have to go to obscure places on their websites. What little both candidates have said about these issues, especially Iraq and the Middle East, is often vague, sketchy, and contradictory.

Maybe personality really IS important and I'm missing something. Maybe considering the facts that Obama sees himself as a "catalyst" while Hillary sees politics as "the art of the possible" is critical to deciding which one will make a better president. Who am I to say that such nebulous distinctions are somewhere between unimportant and meaningless, and insult both the intelligence and the distress of voters?

Why is this election about personalities and insults and vague philosophical outlooks? Why can't these people get down to brass tacks? Is it because they're all show and no substance?

The country is in a very sour mood right now, and we don't need to be patronized by a bunch of phonies. An article in the politics section of the New York Times yesterday laid it out deadpan, and catalogued the reasons for the "darkening of the country's mood," and a "fraying of America's very sense of itself." This article identifies Americans' "powerlessness" over any of the crises afflicting this country -- the war, the economy and our ability to determine our own financial futures, our safety and, especially, our health, the environment, or immigration -- as the root of the malaise.

My question is, how will a personality and beauty contest instead of a serious presidential race help to address this feeling that we're powerlessness? And are we?

Do you seriously feel like you're living in a democracy?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Crashing the Gate

Slowly but surely, the corporate news media are beginning to back off some of their most reactionary and outrageous habits. They're having to clean up their act because of the pressure blogs are exerting on them, and because of the growing influence of the internet generally. Network pundits now know that when they say something stupid, they're going to get publicly called to account.

An example of what I'm talking about is provided by an incident involving MSNBC resident loudmouth Chris "Tweety" Matthews. On the January 17th edition of "Hardball," Matthews went on one of his trademarked MCP tirades against Hillary Clinton, saying "the reason she's a U.S. senator, the reason she's a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around. That's how she got to be senator from New York. We keep forgetting it. She didn't win there on her merit."

This was nothing new for Matthews. Jamison Foser of the blog Media Matters notes that Matthews has referred to Clinton as "She devil." He has repeatedly likened Clinton to "Nurse Ratched," referring to the scheming, manipulative character in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest who "asserts arbitrary control simply because she can." He has called her "Madame Defarge." And he has described male politicians who have endorsed Clinton as "castratos in the eunuch chorus."

Left-leaning and Democratic blogs responded immediately to this gross personal attack dressed up as political criticism. Their outraged howls were loud enough to get picked up by newspapers and other news broadcasts. The upshot of this "blogswarm" was Matthews's on-air apology. There's a full account of the fallout from this incident at Media Matters.

Matthews being called to account and forced to apologize could never have happened even just a few years ago. It was due to the growing power of the internet, documented here in an excellent analysis by the Pew Research Center. The number of people who get significant portions of their news and information from the net has nearly tripled in the last severn years, and whether they're accessing mainly right-leaning or left-leaning sites, they're gaining access to viable alternatives to what until recently was a corporate media monopoly on information. Hundreds of thousands of people are blogging now, and hundreds of thousands more than just a few short months ago are visiting the most popular blogs daily. The internet now parallels the corporate media, which as a result is slowly being forced to curb its most pernicious excesses.

The Seattle blog Orcinus has an intelligent and insightful article on the positive changes the internet is exerting on the corporate media, at [url][/url]. I'd recommend it highly, if for no other reason than to learn why it's now possible to call Pat Buchanan a white supremacist to his face and get away with it.

Sooner or later, the truth will out. And it's about time.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Stock indexes all over the world are falling precipitously as insecurity and fears of shrinking economic activity due to the U.S. recession spread. The first sign of it I saw came late last night when I read the stock market reports from Tokyo. It was Monday, not Sunday in Japan yesterday.

"Investors," the AP coverage says, "...were skeptical that an economic stimulus plan President Bush announced Friday would shore up the economy, which has been battered by housing and credit problems. The plan, which requires approval by Congress, calls for about $145 billion worth of tax relief to encourage consumer spending."

OK, I've been called Chicken Little and "Mr. Gloom and Doom" on this board and in other net places many times. It never bothered me, but I'm here now to tell you that gloom and doom is right as rain, and that this is going to be worse than you think. It's probably going to be worse than I think.

"Went to bed last night and I was feeling fine,"
Woke up and it was 1929."

Hear the words of our contemporary Jeremiah who calls the current crisis "Godzilla with Herbert Hoover's face," and says "the damage could be so colossal globally that Stephen Hawking might have to be brought in to run the Federal Reserve.

"This is going to be a rough week. Fastening your seat belts may not be enough for this ride. Better superglue yourselves to the floorboards and pray for God's mercy."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Romney the Socialist?

Writing at the Atlantic Magazine's site, Ross Douthat points out that Romney won in Michigan at least in part by foregoing the platitudes and generalities that have been the candidates' bread and butter this season, and addressing the state's industrial problems in very specific terms.

"If I’m president of this country, I will roll up my sleeves in the first 100 days I’m in office, and I will personally bring together industry, labor, Congressional and state leaders and together we will develop a plan to rebuild America’s automotive leadership,” Romney said.

Douthat comments, "This is what people like to call 'industrial policy,' and what Jonah Goldberg likes to call liberal fascism - big business and big government working hand-in-glove for the purposes of economic nationalism."

It's also why the Europeans are kicking our asses, economically speaking.

If this doesn't run counter to the unimpeded free-markets principle I don't know what would. And it appealed to Michigan voters precisely because it's to the left of what Huckabee and McCain were saying. McCain, in particular, was going around saying Michiganers can't expect the Feds to bail them out and return Detroit and Flint to what they once were.

Good old Karl (Marx, not Rove), he just refuses to die. But I never expected to see his shadow falling on the likes of the Mittster. It's funny, the way economic necessity savages people's most sacred ideologies.

Spencer Ackerman, as usual, has the best comment of all: "This makes National Review, which endorsed Romney, objectively pro-liberal fascism. The horror! Clearly, when liberal fascism comes to America, it will come wearing a bow tie and freighted with repressed homosexuality."

Phred Phalls Phlat

Thers at Firedoglake has an amusing take on the too-slowly-dying Thompson campaign, "Enjoy the SchadenFred."

The Thompson campaign has been fascinating to watch, as would be any desperate attempt to slap a saddle on Grandpa. Fascinating, but disturbing, like one of those sadistic Japanese game shows. The constant equestrian metaphors alone were enough to make the sane queasy, and they still haven't stopped with them.

Duncan Hunter is officially out of the race as well, so for comic relief I guess there's nobody left but Huckabee.

Enjoy the rest of the game. It'll be over on February 6, and we can resume what passes for normal behavior for a couple months.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Long Shadows

Is that the question? Who is recession? You is, for starters. And me am.

Actually, this is a hell of a lot more than just a recession. This is the sound of the other shoe dropping. The first shoe was called "communism" and that one dropped in the late 80's -- early 90's. And we congratulated ourselves then, because we thought we were the winners. Ha ha. Funny how things turn out. Now it's our turn.

Some winners we turned out to be! Look! There's Konstantin, waving good-bye to us. Now it's our turn to wave good-bye to him. Bye, Konnie.

I don't know if you saw them, but Bernanke and some other high priest of the Finance Sector were on MSNBC or one of those vesches this morning, and I didn't listen to what they were saying, but I noticed they were shaking like a couple of dogs shitting peach pits.

So later on I read that what he was saying was that he expects "slower growth in 2008, but no recession." Uh-huh. That Ben is such a kidder. Meanwhile, as he's saying this cal, the Dow drops another 300. Oy!

Here's the thing about it boys and girls, brothers and sisters; this isn't just the end of the most recent "boom," this is the end of the line. The pattern of housing that's developed since the end of WWII, heavily dependent on the growth of new suburbs and strip malls and highways, that's all over. See the Jeremiah who's been right for years (but few have listened to him) who predicted this very collapse I don't know how many years ago.

And as Kunstler is at pains to point out, it's not just the pattern of housing that's in ruins, but the lynchpin of economic development and growth that's gone as well.

Unregulated free-enterprise, long touted-by Republicans, economistitos, and other challenged types as the answer to all life's problems has now produced nothing but the biggest stinky corpse since the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics expired. And this one's even bigger than that one was.

The thing is, you know the pooch is screwed when you can't insure yourself against disaster, because the money is just not there to cover that magnitude of disaster. Atrios points out in a couple of posts today that the major bond insurers may be out of business.

Atrios pulls an item from Bloomberg News Service: Jan. 17 (Bloomberg) -- The risk that bond insurers including MBIA Inc. and Ambac Financial Group Inc. will default rose to a record after ratings firms increased their scrutiny of the companies as the value of mortgage-linked securities they guarantee plunge.


Ambac may lose its AAA credit rating after reporting larger losses than the company previously indicated, Moody's said in a statement yesterday. S&P is examining all bond insurers after increasing its predictions for losses on subprime mortgages.

Then he comments: Ambac and MBIA are the two Jenga pieces which will pull the whole shitpile down. They insure all of the shitpile, allowing everyone to pretend that all of the risky stuff they own isn't risky at all. But that insurance is most likely a complete fantasy as it seems Ambac and MBIA don't have the cash to pay out claims. I should've gotten into the bond insurance business. Lower their ratings, you destroy their businesses. More than that, you wipe out the insurance fantasy, forcing everyone who insured with them to admit they have all this risky stuff on the books. Recognizing, of course, that in this context "risky" is just a euphemism for "shitty."

Ambac is currently down 64%. MBIA is down 26%.

Looks like the way we've been living our lives the past 62 years is coming to a screeching halt. But don't worry, all you hard-core Republicans and free-enterprisers out there. This isn't the end of the world, just the end of a bad business. There is a future, and some parts of the world are already in it. If you want to see what the future looks like, take a European vacation.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Diss Approval

Bush's approval rating has hit a new low in the most recent polls. The disapproval/approval split is now 66/32.

I'm sure I don't have to remind anybody that we're entering the last year of this administration. Bush now stands before us entirely stripped of the cowboy-"regular guy" mystique that clung to him when he first took office. Our diminished power and reputation and his own inarticulation have left him mercilessly exposed as a remarkably unintelligent and insignificant person.

This chapter in our history stands as an indictment of the American electorate and political system, and I've seen nothing in the new political cycle that gives any hope for improvement.

Monday, January 14, 2008

We've Only Just Begun

One of the casualities of the revolution which at this very moment has already begun (they're calling it a "recession," but it's going to be a lot more profound than an economic ripple) is our assumption that the U.S. owns the world, and that all those A-rabs and Persians (for those who know the difference) are sitting on top of OUR oil. The fact is we simply can't afford the military adventurism of the last 40 years any longer. We don't have the money, and we've reached the limit of what the Chinese and the "good" Arabs are willing to give us.

The future is like this: we will not attack Iran, and we will end our occupation of Iraq. We will build no new suburbs or highways or strip malls. We will no longer drive too many miles in inefficient, wasteful vehicles so we can go further into debt buying junk we don't need and shitty food which is killing us. We are now faced with changing the fundamental way we live, and the revolution will affect every aspect and detail of our lives.

It's happening now, and it's happening because we have no choice. And it's a good thing, although it will be quite painful for all of us. I'd suggest you start getting ready and planning your responses to changed conditions.

All this talk of attacking Iran "before it's too late" is the raving of an imbecile who's unable to comprehend what's happened to the world he's living in. For him it's already "too late." Three years from now, his abandoned dinosaur of an embassy in Baghdad will stand as an appropriately-sized monument to the colossal stupidity and cognitive dissonance of the people who have been running this country, this economy, this war machine, for the past 40 years, and especially for the last seven.

And I know I'm repeating myself, but we're going to start doing the right things now, not out of choice, but because we have no choice. People are like that. I'd still be smoking cigarettes if I was physically able to do so.

I guess I'll vote in the California primary today, but it's not really all that important, because as far as I can tell, none of these clowns of the political circus seems to have a clue about what's going on at this very moment, and even if they did, there's not much any of them can do to alter the momentum of the changes already under way.

The revolution is not primarily political. It mainly will consist of changes in the way we live, and political change will follow structural change, the way a wagon follows the horse that pulls it.

Dick Cheney once said "The American way of life is non-negotiable." He was right. See Kunstler this week.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Easy Al

The Wall Street bank Citigroup is desperately looking for about eight to ten billion in foreign investment to try to stay afloat. News today is one of the people they're looking to is Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who's talking in the neighborhood of two billion, although the deal is reportedly far from done. The prince already owns four percent of Citi, and this is the same bank that got 7.5 billion late last year from investors in Abu Dhabi, who now own 4.9 percent of the bank.

Citi is also seeking a cash infusion from Chinese government sources.

See the AP's recap of the Wall Street Journal story.

Naturally the prospect of Saudi Arabian interests and other Persian Gulf states acquiring huge portions of American financial institutions raises a lot of very interesting questions about our Middle East policy and the Global War on Terror and 9/11 and so forth, but let's not go there for the moment.

It takes a genius with a comprehensive memory like the blogger Atrios to tie that story to this one: flashback to October 12, 2001.

Mayor Rudy Giuliani said Thursday the city would not accept a $10 million donation for disaster relief from Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal after the prince suggested U.S. policies in the Middle East contributed to the September 11 attacks.

"I entirely reject that statement," Giuliani said. "There is no moral equivalent for this [terrorist] act. There is no justification for it. The people who did it lost any right to ask for justification for it when they slaughtered 4,000 or 5,000 innocent people."

Prince Alwaleed gave the mayor a check after a Thursday morning memorial service at Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Center towers destroyed in the attacks.

The prince offered his condolences to the people of New York, but after the ceremony he released a statement suggesting the United States "must address some of the issues that led to such a criminal attack."

See also Eschaton.

It's not terrorist bombs and Islamofascism we need to fear, it seems to me, but our own ineptitude and inability to face facts.

Once the Arabs and the Chinese own all our banks, what do you think they'll do with 'em?

Friday, January 11, 2008


The good old U.S. of A. had a pretty wild and crazy ride last week. Oil hit a hundred bucks, unemployment hit five percent, and the stock market had its worst three-day start to a new year evah, or at least since 1930. And that combination of ugly events caused the ugy word "recession" to crop up in the mouths of several ugly experts.

So when moderator Charlie Gibson, the famous ABC news anchor gets the Democratic candidates together for a debate, what does he say is the most serious threat facing the country? A nuclear attack against an American city by al-Qaida, of course! So that's what he asked the candidates to respond to.

Instead of debating responses to the combination of disasters already raining down on us, the Democrats were forced to discuss a hypothetical event that hasn't happened and may never happen.

Our first response is to wonder whether they send network anchorpeople to a special school to teach them how to be as stupid as Gibson was that night. But the people who run the corporate media are not stupid, they're devious. They don't want the candidates or the voters discussing real issues. That might empower us.

They assume we're idiots, and they work hard at keeping us that way. For more detail on this story see Tom Engelhardt's Tomdispatch.com

In a related item, Hillary Clinton today proposed a 70-billion dollar emergency spending plan to deal with foreclosure and unemployment, and I could see the shadow of Smart Bill working with his smart wife. Bill was always instinctively healthy enough to take the initiative, and Hillary knows the smart moves too. So they definitely got the jump on whatever Republicans are left in this thing, who no doubt stood around with their mouths open watching the Clintons take charge of the situation.

To the best of my knowledge, Hillary did NOT come up with a plan for heading off or otherwise dealing with a nuclear attack on an American city by al-Qaida.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Supply-Side Economics

"This is the end -- this is the end, my friend," sang old Jim Morrison of the Doors, and a great economist he was too.

Today the stock market looked like a crackhead on opium. Check it out.

It's been looking that way for a while. Every day there's a different reason. Today it's "worries about Countrywide, AT&T." Yeah, lots of people are losing their jobs, like my ex-wife lost hers with an insurance agency, and lots of the accounts they were insuring were these local construction oufits, and, well...you know the rest. And it's that way at a lot of insurance agencies that used to insure these house builders and to lots of furniture stores that used to sell stuff to house buyers and lots of furniture makers, and on and on.

It's because making houses and strip malls is about the only industry that's grown in the last 30 years. The rest have gone overseas through outsourcing or shut down or got put out of business by foreign competition. Now that building houses and strip malls has gone under, what is there to keep the ship afloat?

While the stock market and the dollar are going down, unemployment and the price of gas are going up, and the price of gas going up means [i]all[/i] prices will be going up. We're catching it from both directions. Plus credit is drying up. There's very little money out there.

It's pretty scary. You know, there were some of us who have been telling the "experts" for years that this was going to happen, because the housing mania, along with dangerous innovations in the totally unregulated mortgage-lending sector of the "financial industry," was an obviously dangerous bubble for years, and because oil production is now past peak and prices will inevitably rise. You don't have to be Einstein or anything to figure it out.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Stay Home

Diego knew Monday morning was coming, and he dreaded it. He'd had so much fun at home during the holidays that he hated the thought of going back to school. His mind kept running through lists of things he might do to avoid having to go.

He finally decided to glue himself to his bed.

"I remembered my mom had bought a very strong glue," the ten-year-old Monterrey, Mexico schoolboy told reporters, after paramedics and police had spent two hours ungluing his hand from his bed's metal headboard.

"I don't understand why this happened," Diego's mother Sandra commented, as if his decision to apply industrial-strength shoe glue to his problems was a natural occurrence, like a rain shower. "He's a very good boy," she added, then sent him on his way to school.

He was a few hours late.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Portents and Omens

Do you believe in omens? Do you consult astrologers, card readers, or tea leaves?

From DailyKos: "The Ohio National Guard received it's marching orders from the US Military and will be sending 1,600 troops to Kuwait, then onto Iraq. It is the biggest Ohio National Guard call-up since WWII."

And here I thought the soige was over. Or is it? Are we drawing down or ramping up? Did we win or lose? Somebody call Bill Kristol and Matt Drudge; we need clarification here.

What it looks like to me is no change -- status quo ante.

Page toooooooo: Last month Led Zeppelin played its first full live set since 1980 at the O2 Arena in Lundinium. It was Robert Plante, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham's son Jason playing what Plante hoped would be "one last, great show."

See the New Yorker this week.

I know this was happening overseas and all that, but it's significant to me because I remember Led Zep first appearing on the scene in 1969 was the same time the U.S. antiwar movement really kicked into overdrive and started giving the villagers inside the D.C. beltway nightmares much worse than the ones they were already having. It was crunch time, and as a result Nixon started pulling out troops.

It's probably too late for similar things to happen in connection with this war. We'd be better off just electing John Edwards.

By the way, for what it's worth, which is probably nothing, the DailyKos readers' poll shows Edwards winning with 48 percent and Obama second with 27 percent. Others polling above one percent were: Clinton, 7; Dodd, 4; Kucinich, 2; and no effing clue, 2.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Author!! Author!!

How many of us have ever been sure that somewhere in the depths of our suffering souls, there was a book just waiting to get out, a story the world would be eager to devour, and a point of view that judicious and discriminating readers everywhere would find, new, innovative, and refreshing?

Well, the time is at hand, would-be authors (me included), and there are no more excuses. We can no longer say, "I'd probably never find a publisher," or "It would cost too much to have it printed myself." Becuase, the up-to-date fact is, if you can write that book, you can easily publish it at no expense. After that, all that's left is the hard part -- promoting and selling it, or, not to put too fine a point on harsh reality, finding people willing to pay to read what you wrote.

The on-demand publisher Lulu.com, according to an Associated Press story running on Yahoo today, "has churned out 236,000 paperbacks since it opened in 2002, and its volume of new paperbacks has risen each month this year, hitting 14,745 in November."

The A.P.'s Candice Choi goes on to explain what makes cost-free publishing possible: "Publishers produce books only after they're ordered and paid for, which eliminates overruns and the need for warehousing. They charge for printing, or take a cut of sales, and they set up payment systems, online bookstores and Web marketing tools."

I'd encourage all unpublished authors to read the whole thing, then reach deep into that bureau drawer, under the tee shirts, and pull out that yellowing manuscript, and blow the dust off. It's time to go to Lulu.com or Amazon and start working.

I'll be right there with you, since I already have my topic. It's going to be a biography, but I won't say of whom.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A New Year

I'll be moving into my new home in a couple weeks, and spent a significant part of the day going through piles of old magazines and papers, some recent and some which I've been saving for years. One pile got thrown away, i.e. recycled; the rest were finally subjected to a sort of semi-organized preliminary regime of ranks and files.

When I get into the new house, I want to be really totally organized for the first time in my life, sort of like my mom is, or like Ron, or like Dian. Yup. Those are definitely the people I'll emulate when it comes to filing, labeling, and instant, unhesitating retrieval.

A lot of my stuff will be organized by virtue of not being put away, and I'll have enough room that many of my few possessions, like two sets of drums and a couple guitars, will just remain out in the open.

That'll be new, as is getting used to living alone, and even liking it sometimes. Being alone was definitely the hardest part of getting divorced for the first six or seven months. So 2008 will be unique in that respect.

I've been finding out that air is sweet, and that breathing is one of life's great pleasures. Not being able to breathe properly for the last 25 or 30 years was something I just gradually got used to, and I didn't think much about it until chronic bronchitis became painfully severe, 24/7. So my New Year's resolution is to smoke no cigarettes, and I have an 83-day head start.

Will the world fall apart this year? It might. See Jim Kunstler's Predictions for 2008.