Wednesday, January 30, 2013


To a large extent, the story of the US is the story of immigrants. Nearly all of us either came here from somewhere else, or our ancestors did.

In colonial times, most immigration was from England, and the earliest "settlers," or "invaders" if you prefer, faced the necessity of taking the land, if they were to truly possess it, from its previous owners. This was done partly by the sword and musket, but mostly through the result, unintentional at first, and with forethought afterward, of exposing the natives to European diseases for which they had no acquired immunity -- smallpox, measles, whooping cough, alcoholism.

Before long, 90 percent of the natives were killed off and the government of the mother country kicked out. The nineteenth century brought an increase in immigration and changes in where the immigrants came from, with most coming from Ireland and Germany. This was the first of several major shifts in the pattern, and started a trend of periodic resettings of the ethnic makeup of the US which continues down to the present. It also gave rise to the first anti-immigration movement, the anti-Irish, anti-Catholic, and anti-Freemasonry Know-Nothings of the 1830's and '40's.

During this time also, the forced immigration of slave labor from Africa rose and flourished; it was fully established by the time of independence, and produced an enslaved black population of four million by the time of the Civil War.

After 1860, the main sources of immigration to the US shifted again, and millions arrived from Italy, Greece, Poland, Russia, and the Balkans to work the steel mills and coal mines of the growing industrial powerhouse. In the west, a flood of immigrants from the far east prompted Congress to pass the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1880.

From that time forward until the present, immigration and the policies which attempt to govern it have oscillated between two opposed tendencies, as the descendants of earlier arrivals try to limit or stop the intrusion of unfamiliar races and cultures into the nation. They claim the American identity is being swamped by a flood of racial, linguistic, and culturally alien outsiders who are refusing to "be assimilated." "Bringing with them flags and customs belonging to primeval man," is the way the lyricist of a popular KKK song, recorded in Indiana in the 1920's "Mystic City" put it.

Against this tendency of resistance to further immigration, which takes the same form and uses the same arguments in every generation and against every new group that comes, is the ebb and flow of immigration itself. It varies in scope and intensity mostly depending on US law, and even more on conditions and crises elsewhere in the world.

In the 1920's, as fascism was gaining footholds in Europe, Congress passed openly racist immigration restrictions based on a country-by-country quota system. This law echoed the words of the old African-American refrain, "If you're white, you're all right; if you're brown, stick around; if you're black, stand back, stand back," and remained in effect until 1965.

The quotas responded to the American-born residents' feelings of being deluged. Peak year immigration from Europe came in 1907, with one-and-a-quarter million arriving here. By 1910, 13.5 million immigrants were living in the United States, and made up about 15 percent of the US population of 92 million.

The end of the quota system opened the gates once more to a new wave of immigration, with the bulk of the new arrivals now coming from Latin America and the Caribbean, or Asia. The current pie chart of the 37.6 million US residents born outside the country looks like this:

Despite the rise of the Arizona Minutemen, only 12 percent of our population of 315 million is foreign-born, well below the peak of the early 20th century. The main part of our population growth is now, as it often has been in the past from immigration. It's who we are and undoubtedly who we will continue to be, but with an eye now to limiting total population, for suddenly, with 315 million people, the US is the third-most-populous nation, behind India and China.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

totally useless

Here's some information that, even if you remember any of it, you'll never be able to work it into any conversation.

At any given moment, 80-85% of the hair on your head is growing.

Sivain Dornon of Landes, France walked from Paris to Moscow on stilts in 58 days during the spring of 1891.

The national anthem of China is called Yiyongjun Jinxingqu.

St. Venerius is the patron saint of lighthouse keepers.

James Madison, the smallest president at 5 ft. 4 in., is on the $5,000 bill.

The Western Meadowlark is the state bird of Nebraska, Montana, Kansas, North Dakota, Oregon and Wyoming.

For many years, Betty Rubble was the show's only major character not represented in Flintstone Chewable Vitamins.

Want more?

god guts

We need more God guts.

Guns we have enough of!

Monday, January 28, 2013

as far away as we can get

What's the most remote, obscure, and faraway place you can think of? When I was a kid, it was Timbuktu. We pronounced it "Tim Buck Too," and had no idea that such a place actually existed.

But it does, and yesterday French troops, supported by the armed forces of Mali, such as they are, re-took the old walled city from Islamist rebels who are mostly ethnic Tuaregs. The Guardian (UK) has the story.

Likewise, my dad, the newsman, used to use a newsman's term, "Afghanistanism." When I asked him what it meant he explained it was a fascination or obsession with developments in remote, obscure, and relatively unimportant places.

"In the news business," he told me, "if a guy breaks his leg here in town, that's news, but someone getting killed in Afghanistan isn't. What happens in Tim Buck Too has no effect on us."

That's just one of the things that changes when a nation becomes a world empire. Everybody's business becomes our concern, and we get drawn into complicated local disputes over what appear to us as fine points of arcane religious practices and extremely complicated regional politics and customs, all of which we understand imperfectly it at all.

Timbuktu in pictures appears to be a beautiful and exotic desert outpost. It was founded by the Tuareg in the 1100's as an oasis on the camel caravan route across the Sahara, and became an important center of Muslim scholarship as well as quite wealthy, because of the richness of the trade passing through.

Europeans couldn't get there because it lay in the middle of a waterless desert, and their fascination with this fabled and rich city, fueled by its remote inaccessibility, became an "El Dorado" sort of obsession. Finally, in 1830, the first European voyagers reached the ancient town.

I have no opinion concerning recent events in North Africa, or the religiously-infused politics of Afghanistan. It seems like whenever I try to learn more about what goes on in such places, I only get more confused. All I know about the Tuareg is they're an ethnic, recently nomadic minority in their own land, and they make great jewelry.

You would think our recent adventures in Iraq would have taught us not to mess with people and things we don't understand. But I guess when you're an empire, lack of understanding can't be allowed to interfere with the need to rule and control everybody everywhere, all the time.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

grand theft, nation

It's Obama's endless war today, but it was somebody else's before it was his. Our job as citizens, is to bring the war home, to undermine and shine a light on this stupid and brutal war against Islam we're fighting all over the world today, and to make sure that endless war stops here.

Because this war on Islam is nothing more than the successor to the "cold war," and the mosque has replaced the Kremlin as the pretext and justification for the biggest organized theft in the history of the world -- the war and weapons scam that gave birth to an empire.

It's time to forget the Iranians, Afghans, Yemenis, Waziristan hillbillies, etc., and turn our full attention to our real enemy, the Pentagon. The military-industrial complex has stolen the country -- its money, its government, and its culture -- and must be defeated and dismantled.

Patriots need to know that the "founding fathers," to use the term favored by lovers of war and corruption, hated war, and hated even the thought of a standing military. “What a deformed monster is a standing army in a free nation,” Josiah Quincy, of Boston, wrote in 1774. It's just as true today as it was when Josiah wrote it.

The US today is not a free nation, but enslaved by its own military. We need to cut military spending by half, then deal with the economic shock that will inevitably ensue, because we've become so addicted to war, violence, and weapons spending that we cannot survive financially without being at war, or preparing for war.

Jill Lepore writes in the New Yorker this week: "The United States spends more on defense than all the other nations of the world combined. Between 1998 and 2011, military spending doubled, reaching more than seven hundred billion dollars a year—more, in adjusted dollars, than at any time since the Allies were fighting the Axis. The 2011 Budget Control Act, which raised the debt ceiling and created both the fiscal cliff and a Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, which was supposed to find a way to steer clear of it, required four hundred and eighty-seven billion dollars in cuts to military spending, spread over the next ten years. The cliff-fall mandates an additional defense-budget reduction of fifty-five billion dollars annually. None of these cuts have gone into effect."

Speaking to the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 1953, the newly-elected president, General Eisenhower, said "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This is a world in arms. This world in arms is not spending money alone; it is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. . . . This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."

Today war is a high-tech fantasy as American drones bomb targets in Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and elsewhere in North Africa. The masters of war in the Pentagon and Congress know exactly what they're doing. They might say they're attacking our enemies, but are actually in the business of creating enemies, so as to insure a new generation of wars, militarization, and the taxpayer-supported spending upon which they fatten themselves.

This is indeed the iron cross Eisenhower spoke of. It's hypocritical of Obama to speak loftily of the search for peace while keeping an assassination list in his desk drawer. it's simple theft of taxes for the House Committee on the military to spend money on planes that don't fly and nuclear submarines we don't need. It's immoral as hell.

The military-industrial complex has stolen and is destroying this country.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


I may have to suspend work on the blog for a while.

I'm having trouble seeing the screen, and typing has gradually gotten very difficult.

It's time to review meds -- quantity and type.

Friday, January 25, 2013

hakketty hak

Yahoo! Nooze item: The Affordable Care Act — "Obamacare" to its detractors — allows health insurers to charge smokers buying individual policies up to 50 percent higher premiums starting next Jan. 1.

For a 55-year-old smoker, the penalty could reach nearly $4,250 a year. A 60-year-old could wind up paying nearly $5,100 on top of premiums.

I was unfortunate enough to grow up at a time when cigarettes were cheap, people generally carried "hospital" insurance but didn't need comprehensive coverage, and the Marlboro Man was riding the range.

That good old macho, mucho-tatted roughrider, the Marlboro Man. He was quite a role model for a 14-year-old weighed about 75 lbs soaking wet kid who couldn't get any girl to acknowledge his existence. But I digress.

Long story short: I became addicted, and I'm still a practicing addict today, although I've smoked very little and most of the time not at all these past five years. Since the damage is done by the delivery system, I take the drug daily through a skin patch, with no adverse effect except remaining addicted.

Back in the day, the only visible penalty for smoking was the rattling cough most heavy smokers had. Everybody did it and everybody stunk. I wish to God or Bog there had been more penalties on cigarettes like what we have today.

If cigarettes cost $100 apiece and an addict really has to have one, the money could be got.

Growing up in a world of dope addicts was weird. Today's restrictions and financial penalties are rational and just.

winter break

Time to take a break from the political noise machine, the lies and evasions of this country's privileged elites, and the annoying emotional dysfunction of right-wing Christ cultists.

We're in the middle of a somewhat mild but otherwise typical northwest winter. We get about 10 hours of muted daylight, with temperatures sometimes colder (30's, with no precip [thank God or Bog]), and sometimes warmer (40's, light rain). Right now, it's 45 and raining off an on.

I used to be depressed this time of year, but any more I find our winters comforting, like being enveloped by a blanket. The gray dampness slows life down, and winters are a quiet time, given over to indoor activities. I still look forward to spring, but not desperately as before.

On a more personal note, I've recently changed the medication for both my chronic conditions, and am now breathing a lot easier -- literally. What I'm no longer taking (statins) is as important as what I'm doing, and since leaving generic Lipitor behind about a year ago, I've become physically a completely different person -- bigger, stronger, and more energetic. I no longer suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, and in fact must now incorporate a daily green salad into my diet for the sake of good digestion.

A lot of the positive changes in my health these days are due to the Spartan habit of daily exercise -- something I didn't acquire till I was past 60. So if you're younger than that, but sitting on your rusty dusty all day like I did for years, I'd suggest you get serious about changing that thing. It's never too early to feel better.

Photo: Seattle Times.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

dept. of just is

The internets are lit up today with news of and reactions to PBS's Frontline documentary which aired last night on the absence of any prosecutions or jail sentences for the massive stock and mortgage fraud committed by thousands of bankers in the run up to the financial meltdown of 2008.

Unlike the aftermath of the savings-and-loan crisis, when wrongdoers were vigorously pursued by the government, the second depression we're still in is a crime without a scandal. Rather than being punished, the perps were bailed out.

if you don't have time to watch the hour-long documentary, Glenn Greenwald has an excellent synopsis and commentary.

By the way, is Obama's bagman and $1.6-billion thief Jon Corzine still running the streets? And why is he?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

the big slide, in pictures

I'm always trying to come up with a road map, trying to get a fairly exact location of where we're at in the historical continuum.

This lovely little dime-sized coin was minted in about 110 BCE, and shows the head of the goddess Roma, actually an adaptation of the winged-helmeted god Mercury. It's 90 percent silver (4-1/2 grams), a beautiful art miniature, and a day's wages for an unskilled laborer or a buck private in the army.

100 Years forward the republic of Roma is gone and the first emperor, Octavian Augustus, is on the throne and the denarius.
The coin, still very handsome, contains less silver than it's predecessor -- 3.9 grams. It theoretically conveyed the same value as before, but was objectively worth less.

Fast forward another 100 years and it's the year 200 of the Current Era, or Anno Domini if you prefer. Old Septimius Severus, the severe one, he whom Edward Gibbon labeled "the principal author of the decline of the Roman Empire" sits atop the colossal heap. His denarius is artistically impressive as the others, but its silver content was reduced by Nero, and is now somewhere between 3 and 3.4 grams.

By 270 CE when Claudius Gothicus was fighting and beating the Goths, the denarius was a ghost of its former self. As you can see from its color, this is essentially a copper coin -- a kind of shrunk-up penny with a little silver in it. However, it's worth pointing out that the portrait shows the quality of Roman monumental portraiture remaining quite high, even at this late date. I like the portrait of this tough, dedicated general with his spiky war hat, as well or better than any minted since the Republic.

So, what's in your wallet?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

balls & the turkey trot

100 Years from this day
Will people still feel the same?
Will they say the things
That they're saying right now?

--Gram Parsons, "100 Years"

100 Years ago today, Pres. Taft (pictured) sent a U.S. warship to Veracruz. Mexico was in the midst of revolution and civil war, and Taft wanted to keep an eye on the Standard-Oil-Leased fields at Tampico.

Bill Taft, the outgoing Republican, would remain in office until March when Pres.-elect Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, would step in. The first January inauguration was still 20 years in the future (FDR).

Wilson was busy planning his coronation, and had already decided to cancel the inaugural ball. At first he claimed that it was because of the enormous expense, but today he let slip the real reason:

There would be no way to prevent couples at the ball from dancing the popular ragtime dances of this day, such as the turkey trot and the bunny hug -- scandalous exhibitions of overt sexuality in which the dancers' bodies touch.

What an insufferable little prig Woodrow the preacher was. I'll bet he cancelled the ball in 1917 too. I've always suspected he had no balls.

Found this item in the good old New Fork Tines by way of this weird and wonderful (mostly) history blog, Whatever It Is, I'm Against It.

Monday, January 21, 2013

the answer, my friend

As usual there's good news and bad news, but this time I think there's more good than bad.

There were 13 gigawatts of new wind-powered electrical generating capacity installed in the US in 2012, plus one and a half gigawatts of solar power. Altogether, nearly half of the country's new generating power brought on-line last year is from renewable sources.

The bad news is that 1.4 gigawatts of energy from coal-fired generators also came on line last year. Coal is the main culprit in atmospheric mercury poisoning. At this stage of the game there's no reason to keep permitting such installations.

Found this info at Juan Cole's Informed Comment blog.

Three things are very clear as the future begins to come into focus: 1) We need to replace oil with electricity, to the greatest feasible extent; 2) We'll need to dramatically increase our generating capacity; and 3) Electrical generation of the future needs to be 100% from renewable sources.

What's needed is clear, and there's no time to lose. So let's get with it.

Painting: The West Wind and nymph; detail from Sandro Botticelli's The Birth of Venus, 1486.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

bad guys lose, but movie goes on

A development that seems to have eluded all the citizen news hawks over at BeefNet is the House Republicans' surrender on the issue of raising the debt ceiling.

Backing down from their hard-line, Republicans in the US House of Reprehensibles said Friday that they would agree to lift the federal government’s statutory borrowing limit for three whole months, with a requirement that both chambers of Congress pass a budget in that time to clear the way for negotiations on long-term deficit reduction.

"Negotiations," yeah. Negotiations are generally one-sided when the other side knows they're beat.

So at this point it's up to B. Barry Bamz to actually say what he wants. All I've heard from him so far is that he doesn't want what the Repus have in mind. But other than vague talk about reductions in social security and medicare (those are both non-starters, prez), he's been silent.

Maybe we need to remind Bamz how to say "cut," as in Middle East-North Africa (MENA).

How did this happen? Why does the Prez all of a sudden own all the tactical advantages against his political opponents? In the past, Republicans' strength was their unity, and they goose-marched over their opponents in lockstep. But in the wake of the Romney disaster, that unity has slipped away.

The Republican Party is in danger of becoming a regional party, confined to the southern and midwestern parts. Catboxx readers might enjoy (and all our Republican friends might enjoy it too) George Packer's short Talk-of-the-Town piece in the new New Yorker called "Southern Discomfort."

To understand why these developments are such a potential disaster for Republicans, take a look at how the nation's regional party alignment has changed in one lifetime -- mine. Here's the electoral map of the 1952 presidential race (Eisenhower (R) vs. Stevenson (D). When a party or faction becomes identified with the most retrograde part of the country, at that point they're obliged to transform themselves, morphing into something else if they want to remain viable.

If they won't or can't do that, the party dies, which would be the best possible outcome in this case. What we need is a genuine progressive party to challenge the Democrats, who are heavily invested in the status quo, and hence the real conservatives in this equation. It's time for the elephants to shuffle off to the happy hunting grounds of Alabama and Arkansas.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

wannem kain kantri bilong yu?

The most fundamental question is "What kind of country will we have here?"

Republicanism and all that goes with it is still popular among two segments of the population:

1) A majority of rich capitalist buccaneers and blue-blooded American aristocrats (such as Mittens) still identify as Republican (but there are dissenters such as Mr. Buffett in this class).

2) An indeterminate number of faithful, God-fearing, working class types, including Fox News brainwash victims, dittoheads, hayseeds, plow jockeys, crackers, gun nuts, wingnuts, goober-shuckers, survivalists, AM radio burn sufferers, and residents of places where there's no difference between the way people pronounce the words "oil" and "all." People for whom politics is an emotional and liberating experience, rather than intellectual and analytical.

And for analysis, here's the Krugmonster:

Essentially the entire GOP is committed to radical policy goals that are also deeply unpopular. Alll but 10 House Republicans voted for the Ryan plan, which would privatize and defund Medicare, impose savage cuts on Medicaid, and cut taxes on the wealthy and corporations.

But the public favors higher taxes on the affluent, and strongly supports all the major social insurance programs. So the divide within the GOP is about how to get past this awkward political reality.

One faction basically wants to use the party’s power of obstruction: threaten to provoke a crisis over the debt ceiling — in fact, do this again and again — and thereby force Obama to implement the GOP agenda.

The other faction wants to achieve the same goals by stealth. Pretend that what you’re really concerned about is debt and the fate of our children; cultivate the Very Serious People and the deficit scolds; impersonate a budget wonk; and smuggle the agenda in by dressing it in fiscal responsibility camouflage.

So it is, as I said, the extortionists versus the con men: same goals, different tactics.

Yup. That's about it. Unfortunately for them, the recent election answered a lot of questions about what kind of country we're going to have, and the Repus lost. More people are waking up to that these days.

We have had, and hope to have again, the kind of country envisioned by Eleanor Roosevelt.

Friday, January 18, 2013

you are not alone!

Oooh-ooh, that must have been a bedbug!
You know, a chinch can't bite that hard.

--Blind Lemon Jefferson, "That Black Snake Moan"

Especially if you live in a big city, you are not alone. But you knew that.

However, it's not human companionship I'm speaking of here. The bedbugs have returned, and like the cock-a-roach they swarm in big cities.

I didn't read all of Orkin's list of the 50 US metro areas most overrun by bugs, but I noticed my old Seattle-Tacoma metropolis ranks 13, which means we're only slightly worse off than the Bay Area at #14.

Richmond, VA at #12 is the only southern city other than Dallas near the top tiers of the afflicted, and Virginia's not even all that southern any more -- they went for Obama both times. Then comes, Dayton, birthplace of AA and cash registers, then New York City, number 10.

The rest is pretty much what you'd expect with just a couple surprises. At #9 is Dallas-Fort Worth, then back to Ohio with the Lake Erie cities, Cleveland-Akron-Canfield. Then comes D.C. at #7, and then one more time Ohio again with Columbus (#6) and Cincinnati (#5).

Denver at #4 is kind of a surprise, but these bugs are travelers, and once they get a toehold they're hard to eradicate. The top three are the usual suspects -- LA, Detroit, and Chicago. Looks to me like everybody's got em, but the old industrial rust belt, where I spent my formative years, is catching this plague pretty hard.

I wonder if it is a plague, like the ones in Exodus. Let's see, they had flies, frogs, drought (I think), it rained blood, other bad stuff happened, and Passover, of course. But I don't think the Fay-ro was ever bit by bedbugs.

So verily I say unto you, brothers and sisters, Have a good night, sleep tight, and don't let the bedbugs bite. And if you sleep tight, those nasty bugs surely won't bite, because sleeping tight can only be done on a string bed, whose strings have to be periodically tightened to prevent them from getting loose and saggy. No mattress, no bedbugs. That's one way to get rid of em.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

russia and grease

Horrorshow. Gerard Depardieu, the French actor, has sought and been granted Russian citizenship. He's upset about what he considers the confiscatory tax policies of his country's socialist government. Brigette Bardot, a.k.a. Bridget the Midget and formerly known as the world's sexiest woman (I was only able to find this dated file photo of her) is also said to have applied to Moscow for tax sanctuary.

Russia as a tax haven? Yeah, why not? Vlad I can afford it.

Russia is fat and sassy right now. People work, drink, sing, and have money to spend.

It's a lot like that extension of Siberia called Alaska, where people get money from the state instead of paying taxes.

It's petroleum, and it's Moloch, god of industrial capital whose brain is money and whose veins flow with oil and gas. This is not about politics at all, but like politics, it's all about money, money, money, money, money and oil oil oil oyl.

Petroleum! Supreme deity of the last 200 years! All Europe is in thrall to Russian natural gas.

When you've got oil and gas, you can do anything you want, and pay for it from stacks of hundred-dollar bills. And you can thumb your nose at the U.S. Hugo Chavez has done so and gotten away with it, and Putin has done it with class.

Having some aging European and American stars around is also good for the social mix. How about a TV celebrity game show, "Moscow Squares."

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

adding up the d's

Decline, depression, despair, depravity. Can the decline of the US, as a society and as a viable political entity, be measured and quantified? It's quite easily done, as it turns out. The amount of decline is inversely proportional to increases in certain commodities and functions.

Take, for example, the rise in the Gini Coefficient, graphically pictured at the top. The Gini, named for the Italian statistician who figured it out, is an easy formula for identifying the amount of inequality in a country's income distribution. The higher, the number, the greater the inequality.

It works this way: in a society where everyone got the same amount of money, the Gini would be zero. The opposite, a society where one person got all the income and no one else got anything, would register a Gini of 1.0.

The US Gini has always been relatively high. In most of Scandinavia today it's below .3; in France it's about .33, and in England about .34. Our Gini of nearly .48 puts the US in a class by itself among the industrialized, "free" democracies of the west, and it's an extraordinarily skewed class, which appears to be getting steadily worse.

Likewise, national spending on "defense." And incidentally the lines on this chart do not include the billions spent on our current foreign wars, or the cost of caring for veterans who have been disabled in body and/or mind by our obsession with "defense," or the billions it costs to maintain an ever-growing archipelago of agencies devoted to "security:" FBI, CIA, NSA, and LDS on LSD for all I know.

This obscene pile of squandered wealth is money not spent on things like school buildings and health care for US citizens. But if you want a clear window into the degree of depravity into which we've fallen as a society and a nation, you have to look at the incarceration figures.

Our growth industries today are weapons of war and mayhem, along with locking people up. This is a very sad and sorry representation of a country.

You can click on any of these charts to make them bigger and easier to read. Doing so will enable you to examine the critical turning point of the year 1980 in the second and third charts. In the first, 1969 appears to have been the critical year, and it's no exaggeration to say that the New Deal died in the rice paddies of Vietnam.

I don't blame Ronald Reagan entirely for the steep decline of the US since 1980, but I do feel his position in US history is analogous to that of the emperor Septimius Severus in Roman imperial history, he whom Edward Gibbon labeled "the principal author of the decline of the Roman Empire."

I don't actually enjoy coming across as a doomer pain in the ass, but unfortunately, the facts don't support any outlook except pessimism.

Monday, January 14, 2013

don't believe them; don't fear them; don't ask anything of them

The post title is a quote from the late Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and pertains to politicians. Solzhenitsyn, who spent many years imprisoned at numerous locations in Stalin's far-flung gulag, was speaking of Soviet-era politicians who operated in a closed political system, totally divorced from reality and becoming increasingly demented as it approached collapse.

Exactly like our US political system today.

I found that quote in the archive at Dimitry Orlov's site, in a long 2006 article, "Closing the 'Collapse Gap': the USSR was better prepared for collapse than the US." Orlov writes from the perspective of an eyewitness to the Soviet collapse, and will certainly experience first-hand the imminent American meltdown, coming soon to a planet we all happen to be living on.

Orlov makes no effort in this detailed and comprehensive analysis to convince anyone that the US is on the verge, and neither do I. My feeling is that anyone who can't see the collapse coming at this point probably shouldn't mess with it -- better to leave the TV on and keep watching "Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo" until the screen goes dark and you notice there aren't any cars going by outside.

The immediate post-collapse environment in the US will be similar to that which Russia experienced when the USSR went down: accelerated levels of joblessness, deep poverty, homelessness, and despair; epidemic-level criminality as law enforcement vanishes; severe shortages of essentials: food, medicine, fuel. Orlov argues that the US collapse will be even more severe, and that Russian society was "better prepared" for collapse than we are. I agree with his analysis, but think "better configured" would be a preferable descriptive term, since clueless politicians like the ones they had and the ones we've got don't prepare us for anything.

In fact, the Republicrat-Demolican political circus, which has proved itself incapable of basic competence in matters as simple as preventing regularly-scheduled massacres of citizens by schizophrenics who have access to automatic weapons, or avoiding bankruptcy and default, is incapable of helping us get ready for what's coming, since they themselves deny the reality of it.

The only political possibility that might help us avoid collapse would be an internal governmental revolution followed by military dictatorship, by a general wise enough to tell us the truth, whether we like or not, and not having to labor under the necessity of dealing with the grunting of primitive humanoids like Kansas Tim Huelskamp.

Dmitry Orlov also points out that the timing of an empire's collapse is impossible to predict. It's been over 20 years since the USSR went down, and we're still waiting for the other shoe (that would be us) to drop. However, I'm confident that one more big burp, similar in scope to the financial meltdown of 2007-08, will finish the US for good. Our paralyzed political system is incapable of preventing such an event, and in fact will bring it on more quickly.

That's why I'm swearing off politics and politicians. It'll be hard just like quitting smoking, but it's doable.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

sold out again

Even before crossing his fingers and swearing the oath a second time, B. Barry Bamz has sold us out. Again.

"Maybe," says Paul Krugman sarcastically "there is a plan." This in response to the White House's announcement yesterday that there will be no trillion-dollar platinum coin, nor any citing of section 4 of the 14th Amendment to defuse Repus refusal to raise the debt ceiling.

"So is there a plan," Krugman asks sincerely this time, "or will it just be another case of tough talk followed by a tail-between-the-legs retreat?"

The Nobel laureate concludes, "(I)f we didn’t have some history here I might be confident that the administration knows what it’s doing. But we do have that history, and you have to fear the worst."

Well said, professor, but there's one possibility you didn't mention: that Obama is in bed with the Repus, has sold us out, and that all this Demolicans vs. Republicrat horseapples is only an elaborate kabuki performance staged for us mouth-breathers.

Or am I being too paranoid, and is it really only the case that Bamz is the world's worst poker player? Somebody tell me.

But if we're being dealt with in good faith, why did the administration's announcement that they have nothing with which to oppose the deficit-ceiling threat from the Repus death star come on a Friday afternoon, when all the media have gone to sleep.

What Digby said: (S)ince they've thrown away their only bargaining chips before they even started, it's fair to say that anything they agree to from now on should be seen as something they wanted, not something they needed.

Friday, January 11, 2013

ghost ship vanishes

The vessel New Star has been a subject of conversation around these parts, ever since it was parked here at the beginning of October.

How and why this desolated, outrageous, and haunted ruin came to stay in Port Ludlow remains somewhat mysterious. The tugboat owner who was towing it past our little community on that fateful day materialized out of nowhere to announce to the surprised and amazed marina manager that she could either find a place to moor it or he would anchor it in the middle of Ludlow Bay. Either way, it was going no further.

The tugboat owner was apparently weary of dealing with the hulk's owner, a bundle of loose ends and meaningless promises named George, who thenceforth became the Ludlow marina's problem. So there the New Star sat, an enormous hunk of junk so ugly and demoralized it rendered former million-dollar views of the marina utterly worthless.

I drove over to the marina intending to take some pictures of it one day. It was hard to find a legit parking space down there, the weather was blustery and uninviting, and it looked to be about 100 yards out to the end of the pier where the 180-foot vessel was tied up. However, the main reason I didn't closely approach the ship that day was that it scared me. There's a giant, discolored gap in the hull on the starboard side, and the superstructure that used to occupy the ship's aft section is entirely gone.

What concerned me most, however, was a thick and very distinct feeling of evil karma and very bad juju emanating from the wreck. Something extremely nasty was tied to the Ludlow pier. It seems this ship was sunk by the Russian navy four years ago, near the eastern port of Vladivostok, after delivering a cargo of rice to a dissatisfied customer. Operated by a Chinese firm, the Sierra-Leone-flagged vessel attempted to leave port without permission, prompting nearby Russian naval vessels to light it up with over 500 artillery rounds. This was in very bad weather, with the result that half the crew of 16 lost their lives.

For unknown and possibly unknowable reasons, the wreck of the New Star, whose only cargo henceforth would be a load of bad karma, was subsequently pulled from the bottom. How and why the inscrutable George came into possession of her might be a question best left unasked.

By early December, Port Ludlow authorities, like the tugboat owner before them, had grown weary of George and his endless store of boundless optimism. They had some time since appealed for help to the state Department of Natural Resources, which informed George on December 3 that he had 30 days to move the New Star, or the state would take possession of it. George responded that he was "diligently working on a plan," upon which he was presumably still hard at work when the state seized the wreck on January third.

The DNR promised to move the ship quickly, so this morning I decided I should get over there and get some pictures of it before it left us for good. I had thought about my fears of the hulk and decided it would be good to work through them. But when I got over there about noon, the New Star was gone.

The state was as good as its word, and must have towed the engineless wreck out yesterday or this morning. It was still there on Wednesday.

They're taking it to one of three undisclosed locations. Why this information is such a closely-guarded state secret I have not a clue, since, being a state secret, the reason it's secret is also a secret. However, I have a feeling that the state's plan to solicit bids from firms wanting to cut the wreck into scrap will come to naught, because the New Star is now a ghost ship, like the Flying Dutchman, and will always be somewhere. It's never a good idea to exhume the dead.

Photo by Charlie Bermant, Peninsula Daily News,

dept of deficit reduction

If the civilian government said "No" to the Pentagon, what would happen? Nobody, since Truman said "No" to MacArthur, has ever put it to the test. Why is that?

We were supposed to get a "peace dividend" after the Soviet Union collapsed. But we all know how the civilian government, in the wake of 9/11, managed to create an enemy as big and scary as the Russians were, out of nothing more than a few rag-tag terrorists who possess no regular army, navy, or factory-produced weapons of their own. (Terrorism is the only weapon available to otherwise powerless people.)

This is the two-ton elephant in the living room nobody wants to see. It appears fairly obvious to me that the U.S. government, no matter which party is in charge, is now set on a course under which it is obligated to have an enemy whose ferocity, real or imagined, justifies a nearly trillion-dollar annual expenditure for weapons and ongoing warfare, and if no such enemy appears in the natural course of events, then we are obliged to create one.

If this country has indeed degenerated into a military dictatorship, if the civilian government exists only for the sake of funding the war and weapons sector of the economy, then we have become the ultimate destroyer of world peace. If that's what's happened, it's unacceptable, and we need to take the country back. However, it very well may be too late to do so.

This piece ran here originally as the end part of an essay published in October of 2010. Illustration: lithograph, "The General," by Saul Steinberg.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

communications center

Pictured here is the somewhat awesome and, as you can see, high-tech catboxx communications center. All of my equipment is in the photo except my lappy 486, which couldn't be pictured because I need it to type this.

The centerpiece and primo instrument in this array is, of course, my beige Western Electric brand rotary phone, probably made during the 60's or 70's. The big technical advantage of this instrument over newer ones is that this one will work even during a power outage, if plugged directly into a wall jack.

Next to the phone is a fully-digital model 1739 answering machine, sold by the American Telephone and Telegraph Corporation, and manufactured by God or Bog knows whom. It's newer than what I wanted but it works well, and is simple and easy to use.

The black rectangle behind them is the wireless modem I lease from Century Link, and which connects me with the magic of the internet. Fortunate indeed is the reporter who has access to such powerful communications capacity, for he is able to have his fingers always on the pulse of the nation and the world.

the boogie person

Remember the Polish threat? When Hitler was gearing up to take on the world in 1939, he needed an excuse to attack Poland, immediately east of Germany and the only thing standing between Hitler and his real objective, Soviet Russia.

So after cleverly drawing up a mutual pledge of non-aggression with Russia, Hitler proceeded to manufacture a series of phony offenses supposedly committed by the Poles against German sovereignty and dignity -- the "Polish aggression" that touched off WWII.

Now I know most of us would like to believe that the government of our own country would never stoop to those kinds of cheap tricks -- making up phony offenses to hang on an intended victim of US aggression, as a pretext to launching a long-planned attack. We persist in this belief in spite of our common acknowledgement of the phoniness of the "weapons of mass destruction" accusations so recently used against the unfortunate dictator and US boogie person of the nineties, Saddam Hussein,

Today Saddam is dead and his country a smoking, stinking ruin thanks to us, and all things old are new again, for the US has gone back to its once and future boogie person, whoever happens to be in charge in Iran at the moment. And I was reminded again yesterday by this story in правда that there is no end to the sinister plotting against us and sneaky aggression of these malevolent Persians. The third and fourth graphs of this masterpiece of journalistic sleight-of-hand are most instructive:

The skill required to carry out attacks on this scale has convinced United States government officials and security researchers that they are the work of Iran, most likely in retaliation for economic sanctions and online attacks by the United States.

“There is no doubt within the U.S. government that Iran is behind these attacks,” said James A. Lewis, a former official in the State and Commerce Departments and a computer security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

So on the basis of zero evidence, and an opinion drawn not from the State Department or the Central Intelligence Agency, but from a "computer security expert" working in a think tank, we avoid having to deal with a mysterious crime, for we have instead an attack with a built-in motive and a definite perpetrator.

This is modern journalism 101: how to cook your presentation to give the reader his daily dose of two-minutes' hate, and provide one more pretext, if another is needed, for justifying the whacking of this Polish threat, if and when the time comes.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

d-fense, d-fense

A story in today's Washington (D.C.) Pile raises the prospect that as "defense" secretary, Chuck Hagel will be assigned to oversee massive Pentagon budget cuts.

With the war in Iraq over and the conflict in Afghanistan steadily winding down, Obama and Congress have ordered nearly $500 billion in reductions to the defense budget over the next decade. But with the country still confronting record deficits, many leaders at the Pentagon are resigned to the likelihood that further cuts are inevitable, followed by fresh rounds of infighting over money.

Why the writer buys into the thin fiction that these things which are foretold shall surely come to pass I can't say. The Pile is, after all, an establishment information source -- I think of it as Izvestia. That Charlie Hagel would administer cuts in the Pentagon budget of 20%, or even 1%, or would do anything as the Sod other than sit back and watch the Pentagon eat the half of the country that it hasn't eaten already is inconceivable.

Chuck talks crazy sometimes, but he's a 66-year-old caucasian gray-suit Republican from Nebraska who has voted in Congress and the Senate in favor of every single "defense" expenditure he ever saw.

Now that building new suburbias has crapped out as an economic activity, the only growth industry left is the Pentagon, which is totally dependent on government support and taxpayer money. And you're asking in all seriousness whether the federal gov will cut its budget?

Man, I just don't know how to respond to bs like this sometimes, except to say welcome to Rome, 3d century A.D., when bunches of spiky-crown tough cowboy guys came to the throne and were quickly killed off by the competition (rinse & repeat). Things look bad, I know, but there's still a party going on, and still plenty of money to be got, if you're connected and plugged in. If you want to steal a pile, you got to go where it is, and military spending is now the only game in Empire Town.

In fact, the Pentagon IS the country, which is now like its tail.

So let's have some more Trident submarines, with a side of money, ha ha.

Portait on coin: Claudius Gothicus, Emperor of the Romans, 268-270 CE.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

the bipartisan ship

What is left to say to those poor souls who still, even now, call themselves "moderates" or "centrist" or some other silly veschsh of that sort, and tell you that most of our problems could be solved if the ship of state became a bipartisan ship.

Other than "Have a nice day," I can't think of anything. We're dealing here with people who believe (or claim to) that one party represents one "radical extreme" and the other party represents the other "radical extreme," and that the "moderate" and hence correct course of action is exactly midway between them.

Not only do centrists deal with the world as if it was made entirely of abstract categories, they also deny the difference between right and wrong, good and evil. Centrism is a lie, and like all other political lies takes refuge in ignorance.

Therefore, I was surprised to find the website of the reputable science journal Nature has published a lame article which begins:

"To prevent science from continuing its worrying slide towards politicization, here’s a New Year’s resolution for scientists, especially in the United States: gain the confidence of people and politicians across the political spectrum by demonstrating that science is bipartisan."

Which prompts PZ Myers of the science blog Pharyngula to ask "What the hell does that even mean?" For PZ Myers is aware, even if the author of this bit of puffery (and, sadly, the editors at Nature) are not, that science isn't bipartisan, because it is not, and cannot be political.

For example, at what temperature does water freeze? Is the number Republican or Democratic? What's the distance between the earth and the sun? Does this great a distance "lean right" or "lean left?"

Now, if you turn on your telly and hear some Senator from Oklahoma or Texas calling global warming "a hoax," or some representative from Alabama declaring that school discipline has gone missing due to the teaching of evolution and the absence of "pray-er in our skew-els," you may have noticed that it's easy to guess the party affiliation of such speakers, with 100 percent accuracy.

This is not the fault of scientists, any more than it's their "fault" that average mean global temperatures have risen 0.8 degree centigrade in the past century.

And here's another fun fact to know and share with your pals. Fascists, starting with Mussolini, have always hated science, for obvious reasons, the main one being that scientists attempt to provide an objective view of reality.

no known cure

A faithful correspondent writes:

I think I might have actually had a touch of the flu earlier in December. I had some kind of virus which made me unhappy.

To which I replied:

That doesn't sound like the flu.

It sounds more like a touch of Republicanism.

Monday, January 07, 2013

crash boom bang

Prediction: Chuck Hagel will not be confirmed as Secretary of Defense (SODOTUS).

His enemas will say he is a poopy pants who does not like Israel hard enough. Also that he is insufficiently bombiranian. Anybody who wants the job has to show that he really really really loves Israel, so much so that he smooches its picture on the map in public. And also that he really really hates, despises, loathes, and wishes to do great harm to Iran, that bombing it into submission is his or her daily thought and nightly dream.

Hagel will not satisfy on both counts. I'm a little surprised Obama was foolish enough to even nominate him, although possibly the prez is making a subtle and complex move in a game of 11-dimensional chess which is beyond my grasp, and only his brilliancy can understand it.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

it's an old story

Mitt Romney didn’t really want to win the election and be preznit says his son Tagg, who claims his dad wanted it “less than anyone I’ve met,” and that he would have gladly stepped aside “if he could have found someone else" to replace him.

There's something about young Taggbert's story that doesn't hold up. Romney may have felt hesitant sometimes, but it seems like whenever I saw him he acted like he really really wanted it.

I think what we got here is a fox and a bunch of grapes as per Aesop's fable of the same name.

Except in William Caxton the printer's 1484 translation, supplied here by my friend Find1 the grapes are raisins. OK, they're actually raysyns, but in any case I hope the reader is as well instructed as he or she is entertained by this early translation of the beautiful old fable.

He is not wyse / that desyreth to haue a thynge whiche he may not haue / As reciteth this fable Of a foxe / whiche loked and beheld the raysyns that grewe vpon an hyghe vyne / the whiche raysyns he moche desyred for to ete them / And whanne he sawe that none he myght gete / he torned his sorowe in to Ioye / and sayd these raysyns ben sowre / and yf I had some I wold not ete them /

And therfore this fable sheweth that he is wyse / whiche fayneth not to desyre that thynge the whiche he may not haue /

I think it was his wyfe who really wanted the raysyns,

czar & patriarch

Curioser and curioser it gets, but You know, what's happening over there now in the yoosta bee CCCP is Czar Vlad hisself is passing all kinds of decrees enforcing orthodoxy among the workers and peasants.

It's gotten so bad that old Pope Cereal himself is saying to Vladimir, "Hey, take it easy, man. Like, time out..." and so forth.

All of this shows how scared and fearful the autocratic czar is of a punk r&r band called киска бунт.

I'm glad there are still dirty hippes in the world to frighten czars and popes, and that there are still kids hanging about on street corners who want to call their band Pussy Riot.

blue-footed booby blogging

This extraordinary photo of a blue-footed booby, a cousin of and very similar to the red-footed booby, except for the different-colored feet, is from Atrios, just like the last one was.

I am very partial to booby birds, especially the ones with blue feet.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

slow news day

It's a very slow news day. Hardly anything seems to be going on in the world today.

That's all right, because no news is good news.


grease in the pipe

Have you ever wondered what these right wing agitprop outfits like FreedomWorks™ actually do?

"The arrangement was simply FreedomWorks paid Glenn Beck money and Glenn Beck said nice things about FreedomWorks on the air," (Dick) Armey, the former House majority leader, told Media Matters Friday. "I saw that a million dollars went to Beck this past year, that was the annual expenditure."

So the deal was, FreedomWorks pays Beck a million a year to say nice things about FreedomWorks -- to raise funds for FreedomWorks -- an expenditure which Armey said provided "too little value" for the amount invested.

The organization also has or had a similar relationship with Limbaugh, but Armey didn't say whether Rushbo provided FreedomWorks sufficient bang for the buck.

OK, the thing is, I have several right-wing acquaintances who are missing out on an incredible opportunity to spin fascist propaganda for fun and profit. There's not enough money out there to cover grandma's social security and medicare payments, but there's plenty for wingnut agitprop, and some of you, if you'd just hone your wordsmithing skills a little, might be able to hook up to this fantastic gravy train.

So to speak.

Friday, January 04, 2013

the fall of the house of boehner

All right, here in quotes is what the weary traveler observed upon entering the House of Boehner. "A valet, of stealthy step, thence conducted me, in silence, through many dark and intricate passages in my progress to the studio of his master,"the weary traveler begins. "Much that I encountered on the way contributed, I know not how, to heighten the vague sentiments of which I have already spoken. While the objects around me - while the carvings of the ceilings, the sombre tapestries of the walls, the ebon blackness of the floors, and the phantasmagoric armorial trophies which rattled as I strode, were but matters to which, or to such as which, I had been accustomed from my infancy - while I hesitated not to acknowledge how familiar was all this - I still wondered to find how unfamiliar were the fancies which ordinary images were stirring up."

I know whatcha mean, bro, about those carved ceilings and stuff. Sounds just like my place, those stealthy-step guys creeping around all over the place.

But the low-hanging fruittys, at a time of maximum payment are in the spotlight along with toxic assetts, auto rescue's big success, and even padoff aig make a prophet who know where the bodies are buried.

great expectorations

So, we avoided physical Clifford, but now have another debt-ceiling clusterschnazzle coming at us in about 60 days, and, as everyone anticipated, the teahadists in Congress are promising to kidnap the entire country to an undisclosed location if we don't hand over our social security and medicare cards to them, plus our lunch money, of course.

In an interview Monday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) confirmed that Congressional Republicans plan again to use the upcoming debt limit to hold the nation hostage to their demands for massive cuts to Medicare and Social Security.

Is there any doubt that this whole debts-and-deficits fight was really, at bottom, about dismantling the modern-day welfare state? Undoing the New Deal has been the primary Republican goal since 1933. It's no different today, and won't be any different tomorrow.

Now, of course, that's not going to happen. We're not going back to the 19th century, but our immediate problem is how to put a stop to this ludicrous scenario of having to deal with a wingnut-generated crisis every couple of months. For one thing, these disgusting confrontations prevent President Fillmore Obama from dealing with the country's real problems.

There's got to be a way to pull the plug on this process and put an end to being threatened with the holy ghost and the fire every couple of months. The platinum coin is a cute idea, but it's a gimmick.

There are 53 Democrats and two socialists in the Senate, and 200/433 Dems (two vacancies) in the House. Surely, they've got access to something the Republicans need for life support -- something they absolutely cannot do without -- that they could threaten to destroy when Eric Cantor and his wingnut crew arrive with the crowbars and start trying to extort our social security from us.

Fighting extortion requires a willingness to use counter-extortion. It'll have to be done in Congress, since the Conciliator-in-Chief has no spine for such confrontational tactics.

"Find a dog who'll eat a dog," I always say.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

хороша маша, да ненаша

I wanted to wish all our Russian readers a happy new year. I understand you're celebrating it with the rest of us still, and didn't revert to the Julian calendar when the old CCCP went south.

But even if you're an Old Believer, so to speak, you're only 13 days behind. so happy new year to you too.

I understand also that 2013 has brought a momentous change to your land, and that beer is now an alcoholic beverage, even in Russia. Hell, I could have told you that 30 years ago when I was getting drunk on it every day.

At the time I was hanging out and working around people in much worse shape than me -- whiskey and gin drinkers, coke fiends, & etc., and in comparison with them I didn't appear sick. In fact, few suspected how much trouble I was in. I mean, it was only beer, for Chrissake.

But the simple fact is, alcohol is alcohol, and a beverage containing a small amount of it will get you just as drunk as anything else, provided you drink enough of it. I did, and I don't, and today it's going on 19 years since any alcohol has passed my lips.

A society that claims beer is a non-alcoholic beverage is a society in denial, and it looks to me like Russia's had enough of that, too. You'll be better for it, so take this positive thought into the new year: things can get better.

That's my sermon for today, to which I want to add just one more thing: ебут Путин и лошади он поехал в на

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

frances coralie perkins

There's a story that Abe Lincoln, when he met Harriet Beecher Stowe, opened their conversation with "So you're the little lady who started this war." It's probably just a story -- what academics call "apocryphal" -- but it does convey a truth: that Beecher Stowe's anti-slavery propaganda novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was a key element in forcing the showdown between north and south, for it convinced many that the two halves of the country were incompatible, and their disagreements irreconcilable.

I've began to feel the same way about America's present-day conflict, between a politically radical and very active cohort of one-percenters who are determined to dismantle the modern American welfare state, and the rest of us who have profoundly benefitted from it.

How profoundly? That would be hard to measure unless we lose it. As the old song says, "You don't miss your water till the well runs dry."

Probably not one American in a hundred has heard of Frances Perkins, FDR's Secretary of Labor, and the first woman to hold a cabinet position. Yet she plays very large in American politics today, since all the loud and obnoxious flapdoodle about debts and deficits we're constantly bombarded with by Republicans is motivated by one thing only -- the obsession of a clique among our rulers who are determined to dismantle her life's work -- the New Deal.

I learned all this today when I visited Jon Schwarz's Tiny Revolution site, reading guest author Aaron Datesman's "Coralie and Me," then followed up with further research which supported Datesman's thesis that Frances C. Perkins, more than any other individual responsible for the New Deal, is indeed the "little lady" behind our coming civil war.

Her Wikipedia biography tells us that this close friend of Roosevelt's was the source of the New Deal's ground-breaking programs, "including the Civilian Conservation Corps, (and) the Public Works Administration...With The Social Security Act she established unemployment benefits, pensions for the many uncovered elderly Americans, and welfare for the poorest Americans."

Think about that for a moment. Among other things, Frances Perkins is the person most responsible for the fact that the present depression (the so-called "Great Recession") has not caused nearly as much suffering and deprivation as the depression of 1930-40. Were it not for unemployment benefits and Social Security, it surely would have.

But now there are powerful people among us determined to do away with these protections. How determined are they? Events of the past few days, with the Keystone Kops of the Republican clown car threatening to take the country over Niagara Falls if they didn't get their way re: the phony deficit flap shows they're very determined indeed.

This is coming to a head because a gaggle of selfish, petty, and mean-spirited industrialists in this country have been, ever since these programs were first put into place, obsessed with deep sixing them, on the grounds that some of their tax money paid out through these programs ends up in the hands of people less worthy, deserving, and fragrant than themselves.

Which is no doubt true. Welfare cheats, Social Security chiselers (using SSI) and lazy bums no doubt benefit from transfer payments through the modern welfare state, not just here, but throughout the civilized world. It's the price we pay for having a system that makes it possible for real people, most of whom have never stolen a dime of Richard Melon Scaife's billions, to be able to live in this world.

So suck it up, David and Charles and Sheldon, because without those things, you wouldn't be in the one percent. What I mean is that without them, you wouldn't have a country to be the one percent of.

Right now we need a Lincoln to lead us, but instead we've got the modern incarnation of Millard Fillmore. Get ready for more of the same as what we just went through then, when the debt-ceiling limit comes up again a couple months down the road. Only somebody needs to let Barack know that this time we're taking a few trophies, with or without him.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

suicidal tendencies

Despite the premature celebrations last night and smiles this morning, it's more than obvious we're not done with this "fiscal cliff" madness.

Republicans can't handle losing. They're like a guy whose wife is divorcing him, so he kills her and the kids and then himself rather than accept the reality of his situation.

House of Representatives "Majority Leader Eric Cantor told fellow Republicans in a closed-door meeting that he opposed the legislation negotiated by Vice President Joe Biden and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and passed by the Senate 89-8 shortly after 2 a.m."

Since Cantor is the de facto top man among House Republicans now, as John Boehner's influence fades, his threat to send the deal back to the Senate is serious.

“I don’t know that we can call people back by tomorrow,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) when asked whether the House now has a choice between passing the Senate bill or taking the country over the cliff. “At this point I’m afraid so. I don’t see how we avoid it.”

What appears to have the Republicans foaming over this legislation is its absence of spending cuts, although most of them refuse to specify what cuts they think it ought to contain. Most, but not at all. Our old friend Sen. McCain said in an interview yesterday that "Congressional Republicans plan again to use the upcoming debt limit to hold the nation hostage to their demands for massive cuts to Medicare and Social Security."

Social Security, of course, has nothing to do with the deficit, but these guys never miss a chance to take money from the olds and the poors, and give it to their billionaire constituents in tax cuts, which by they way, is one of the main things they can't handle in this deal -- taxes for the rich returning to normal.

It's time we took a good look at the psychotics we're dealing with here -- people who are perfectly willing to destroy the country because they can't cope with losing. And they've done it before. It took four years of civil war for the majority of Americans to recognize that they weren't simply dealing with people who had a different point of view, but with the essence of evil.

I'd suggest driving all congressional Republicans into a stone tower somewhere, possibly the Washington Monument, then making sure the villagers have plenty of torches, pitchforks, rope, and gasoline.