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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

How Many Pezozees Wuz That?

Strange Times

Passing strange times, indeed. For example, did you ever stop and think just how truly bizarre it was that absolutely no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq? I mean, even if they had moved them all en masse to Syria like Norman Podhoretz likes to believe, you would think they would leave a detonator or blue prints or something in the dust bin. All there is is a bunch of MacGyvers: we found a sequence of pencils, each one shorter than the preceeding by exactly 4 mm. They were all No. 2s. or, we found a series of jugs that some anthrax would fit into very, very, very nicely! or, we found some belly dancing music that could have been encrypted directions to suicide bombers! and so on. It is very strange to find nothing. Not a scrap. Not a overlooked envelope from Prof. Khan used as a bookmark and sticking out of a volume of Abu Nuwas. The only thing that is 100% is the utter absence of WMDs. I think it is very odd. The times are out of whack, as Shakespeare said. Wars and rumours of war, comets, botox...all bring their baleful glow upon the Earth.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bail Out Blues: Flue Or Pandemic?

There are way too many headlines that take the form of Such-and-Such Blues. It tasks me. Is it a coincidence that the arrival of John McCain in Washington leads to a hiatus on the work on the financial sector. It was reported that he raised questions about the plan thus far. Questions? Based on what? Do you actually think someone "knows" what the best answer is, short of not having done it in the first place?

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aNKGD.bJwmRA&refer=news

David I. Levine a professor of economics at University of California-Berkeley, says the current plan being discussed has the wrong structure. ``The structure is designed for the Treasury to be the first line of defense,'' said Levine, who studies organizations and incentives. ``A whole lot of people made money supposedly by putting their capital at risk, and those are supposed to be the first line of defense, that's how capitalism works.'' Jeffrey Miron, a Harvard University professor and self- described libertarian, objects to what he says is `` a stunningly broad, aggressive government intervention without appropriate precedents.'' He advocates allowing the normal process of business failure and bankruptcy to run its course. ``It's just nothing like the calamity the administration is making it out to be,'' he said.

The problem is that it is something new within the past 20 years or so. Derivatives, which have bedeviled banks and pension funds since the 1990's, may flow unchecked through the system like a cancer. Theory has not kept up with Reality. It lags behind. Reality is hustlers; Theory is academics.
How many of the economists have a working grasp of the complex system we call today's Markets? Not bloody many. I mean, I told my daughter in August, 2007 that the Dow would decline to 10,500. That was over a year ago. I think I certainly had a better grasp than 75% of the economists who signed the Letter to America that Senator Shelby was waving around on TV last night.

The economist cited above does not have any understanding of what is involved. He has a rudimentary and jejune scenario of free markets in his head when he talks about letting it run its course. The classical mental simulation is based on individual entities in a free markets, some succeeding, some falling by the wayside. This does not incorporate within itself any notion of the cancerous spread of a pandemic of derivative disease from one entity to all others.

Unfortunately, like so many other things today, the Financial Sector problems resemble HIV/AIDS. Wall Street resembles the East Village in the 1980's where a number of prominent members of the community are ill, many other fear they too are ill, and the medical knowledge to treat the illness does not exist. The logic of the morttality of HIV/AIDS differs from the mortality logic of Predator & Prey in a stable population, yet economists like Prof. Levine seem to think not. There is a half-baked notion of zero-sum economics floating around our heads. This model does not even begin to address the complexity of a game where even those people who choose not to play may loose everything, including their lives. What is clear is: whatever the treatment, it will roughly cost the same...or more...and there is no sugar daddy, Warren Buffet excepted, who is going to pay for it.

John McCain knows nothing about economics. He cannot learn enough in 1 or 2 weeks to come up with a working knowledge, nor a hazy intuition. I do not know about Obama, but I do not see him sticking his toxic two cents in like McCain "I think of the country first" does.
What do I think? I thought the proposal the people on the Hill worked out seemed plausible. Will it work? Maybe, maybe not.
However, this brings us to a time of choice, a time when you can no longer let an issue be a political issue, subject to endless debate. We must choose, and then live with the consequences of our choice. This is not Climate Change Game Scenario where we may prattle on forever.

A Point Of Honor

If you wished to take a stand on integrity, you should have done it 8 years ago. If you wished to take a stand on integrity, you should have done it 6 years ago. If you wished to take a stand on integrity, you should have done it 4 years ago. Or 2 years ago... Anybody can run and close the barn door after the cows have gone. I respect the feller who gets up from what he's doing, goes out in the cold rain, and closes that door before the cows get out. There is nothing but dishonor now.

Chickens Coming Home: Wall Street

Wise Saying 21: "The Chickens are Fixin' to Come Home to Roost!"

Wait and see.
My biggest concern about current events is the fact that the Wall Street people involved knew very well the type of activities they were involved in, and they knew what the outcome would be. This does not reassure you when the educated people are quite willing to destroy the country and everyone else in order to secure their own profit.

Honor and Integrity are not traits that we can resolve to henceforth act upon, such as thrift and economy. Honor and Integrity take years to create. Did it not occur to us when we were about to embark upon a manifestly illegal war that we were not acting honorably? Did it not occur to us when the highest leaders in the land sat around at the White House and openly discussed torture - in defiance of the Geneva Conventions and all that we have held to be true - that we were not acting honorably?
Our ability to express horror and grief, such as when we watched the suffering on 9/11, does not mark us as good and honorable folk, for even the vile may grieve. The greater our sorrow, the greater the difficulty to act as people of integrity, remembering our morals and ethics, keeping sight of the standards which separate us from dumb brutes.

It would be well to keep what happened in mind: the more powerful the nation, the more powerful will be the retribution for its dishonorable acts. I believe we are lucky that this all happened now, rather than later. Can you imagine the chickens coming to roost if we had handily won the war in Iraq, thus emboldened to further outrages against international and moral law?
Can you think what it would be like if we took the torture of prisoners to be a sign of maturity and manliness; to be a burden for the new leaders of the 21st century to be carried with pride? What would the world be like if the time lines of the future went the way of further cementing the grasp of the simple minds and simple evils of the Bush Administration, further subverting the Constitution in their maniacal appeal to our fears, rather than what is best in us?
Can you in your wildest dreams imagine what it now would be like if Bush, thrust forward by his successes, had accomplished the Republican dream of privatizing Social Security, so that now those accounts could be in shambles, too? Where would we be if the corruption on Wall Street, buoyed by the above turn of events, reinforced by the outstanding success of depravity, went on to further heights after further heights, forgetting...forgetting... ...that the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

Perhaps it is time to listen to what Jeremiah Wright was saying, and to understand why he said it, rather than the usual idiotic response we have to any and all criticism. Truly, then, history would have come to an end for us, just like the Neocons said.
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Friday, September 26, 2008

Pangloss ou Sans-gloss?

I have not heard from mon ami Gil, il y a 2 mois, peut-etre? Since I have not heard from him, I shall do what I always do nowadays and write some lines for him. Gil: EH! Ca va? Moi: Bien, vieux grenouille! Good, and you? Gil: O.K....heh, heh. Oooooo-K. (silence for 2 to 3 minutes) Gil: Soooo, that title there... Moi: Where? Gil: (points to Title section of Blogger Post) There... Moi: Oh, I see. Yes. What of it? Gil: What does it mean? Moi: Oh. "Pangloss" is a Voltaireanism, and we could construe it as "all tongues" and get the notion of being fairly communicative, whereas "sans-gloss"... Gil: "without a tongue"... Moi: Right. The general notion of being incommunicado. Gil: Ah. Necessity is the Mother of Conversation! Moi: Indeed. Gil: (looking around) Where are the dogs? Moi: Hmmm. Dunno. What day is it, by the by? Gil: Friday, September 26.......2008, if you need that part. Moi: Thanks. No, I'm O.K. on the year thingie. Tea? Gil: D'accord... (exeunt omnes, pursued by a rather large ursine animal)

Today's Peace Poem

I have a peace poem for today I rather like. It has a bit of the horrendous about it, and it is uncouth and barely lettered, but I wrote it quickly as a drive-by, so it ain't too bad. I like it because I get to use poetic license, thereby using words and expressions I would never use in this blog. It is at http://peace-weaving.blogspot.com/ if you are interested. Since it is my 69th poem since starting that fast for peace, write a poem, sell girl scout cookies door to door thing.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Total Hubris



Strictly speaking, we may see a total hubritic reversal of fortunes for the Bush-Cheney duo.

 (1) A war where it took longer to subdue Iraq than it did to defeat Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan certainly revealed the lie behind the Bush Doctrine of Fight First, Ask Questions Later.

(2) An economic melt-down of historic proportions may be considered as writing an end to the Bush era of the Voo-Doo Economics of the Republican Party. What is left?

(3) Climate Change. Shall we experience some horrible climatic disturbance before the unholy duo leave office? I fear we shall. In fact, this morning's weather news resembles those montages from The Day After Tomorrow. There is a typhoon in southern China which has winds blowing people around like styrofoam nine-pins. This is in addition to the stock footage of the roofs of outbuildings being peeled back like metallic lemons and limes.

Thugs In Israel

Right wing Israeli thugs bombed the home of Professor Ze'ev Sternhell, a peace activist.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1024412.html ...Recently, Sternhell has received threatening phone calls. Police assess that the background for the attempt to harm Professor Sternhell is politically motivated. They suspect that right-wing activists carried out the attack in response to his remarks decrying Israeli settlers... This is the element Bush and Cheney have supported.

Bail Out

I support the Bail Out, as long as I get the same deal Warren Buffet gets. I, as a taxpayer, want the same deal...exactly. I don't even know what it is, but one thing I do know, Buffet got some sort of deal for his $5 billion. Class Action Time: any taxpayer money used, we want same deal.

My Paradoxical Mentor

For my life as a Christian, I follow in the footsteps of the Caliph Omar. I consider this to be a koan.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Child's Play; Kinderspiel

Note the barbed wire.

The Porches Of The Hamptons

...were filled with rich women waiting for the Big Bail Out to arrive in the mail. They fanned themselves in the heat and drank iced tea, waiting for their men to return from the City. The time was heavy on them today. They gazed out on the bay, over the flotilla of sailboats listless on the ocean swell, out of work since Labor Day, a way of life uprooted. Once these proud fleets dotted the Sound for miles and miles. It was almost as if one could walk from Montauk to New London, and one's Docksiders would touch down on nothing but the polished mahogany of the decks of boats. Now the signs of decay were everywhere. It was Friday, Big Bail Out Friday, and everyone was waiting on the porches.

Addendum To The Future

Add a clause to the Big Bail Out recognizing our responsibility to future generations to alleviate the harm we have done, and stating our commitment to reducing the levels of indebtedness we have left them with. We could start by shutting some of the 761 military bases we have around the world.

Real Conspiracies

Back on September 20, why would anyone except a conspirator propose a law - the Bail Out Law- with this in it: Sec. 8. Review. Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency. For all the good the Bail Out may do, who was behind this? See a discussion at RGE: http://www.rgemonitor.com/financemarkets-monitor/253683/non-reviewable_-_sometimes_there_really_are_conspiracies sample comment: On March 23, 1933 the newly elected Reichstag met in Berlin to consider passing Hitler's Enabling Act. It was officially called the "Law for Removing the Distress of the People and the Reich." It would hand-over all its power to the Chancellor Adolf Hitler, in effect vote democracy out of existence in Germany and establish the legal dictatorship of Adolf Hitler. Before the vote, Hitler made a speech in which he pledged to use restraint. He also promised an end to unemployment and pledged to promote peace with France, Great Britain and the Soviet Union. But in order to do all this, Hitler said, he first needed the Enabling Act.The rest is History. The Law will probably pass. We are used to obeying orders by now. But which twisted mind put this in? It has a touch of the Cheney about it. Emerson Essay on History: Every law which the state enacts indicates a fact in human nature; that is all. We must in ourselves see the necessary reason of every fact, — see how it could and must be. So stand before every public and private work; before an oration of Burke, before a victory of Napoleon, before a martyrdom of Sir Thomas More, of Sidney, of Marmaduke Robinson, before a French Reign of Terror, and a Salem hanging of witches, before a fanatic Revival, and the Animal Magnetism in Paris, or in Providence. We assume that we under like influence should be alike affected, and should achieve the like; and we aim to master intellectually the steps, and reach the same height or the same degradation, that our fellow, our proxy, has done.

Obama & Ayers; Boomers & Betrayal; Flying Dutchmen

I have discovered Mr. Ayers and have read about him in the Wall Street Journal, a broadsheet which disapproves of Mr. Ayers' radicalism. ** First, as I Christian, I am rather forced into certain "radical" stances, whether I wish to be or not. In Luke, chapter I, we read: 51: He [God] has shown might with His arm; He has confused the proud in their inmost thoughts. 52: He has deposed the mighty from their thrones and raised the lowly to high places. In this we discern a radical reversal of fortunes inherent in the understanding of God of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Even though you may be unaware of this canticle, or you may have forgotten it, I can assure you that the words of Mary form part of the very substructure of my consciousness. ** Second, in my opinion, our present "funk" is due to two main groups: (1) the so-called Greatest Generation of WW II, and (2) their frightful offspring known as the "Boomers". The Greatest Generation did offer a full measure of devotion in the war, but we have been stuck in war mode ever since. Their entire view of the world was nothing but war and its devices. Furthermore, at the end of their time, they labored and brought forth Ronald Reagan and Reaganomics, the voo-doo economics which would do more damage than a bunch of terrorists could ever hope to do. The Boomers are men and women scarce half made up, having lost their souls by treasonous betrayal of their own vision in the 60's. I am opposed to any violent list of agenda. Beyond that, I am not saying I disagree with the radical agenda of the 60's, nor am I saying I disagree. But I am saying that anybody who betray their own vision is doomed to wander through an empty life. The Boomers are the Flying Dutchman and crew of this age, eternally looking to recapture that which they had thrown away, their own spiritual lives. ** Third, the article links Mr. Ayers to the Weather Underground, and this is a possibly damnable connection. However, there is no linking of Mr. Ayers to violence. If this linkage cannot be made, the first link was a sleazy insinuation. Of course, the Wall Street Journal is not above such things, particularly now in its latter day incarnation in the skin of old Murdoch. I personally would rather have children that are aware and refuse to let themselves be paraded into the abattoir of Wall Street or Iraq, or whatever is the despondent slough of choice in their day. The article says: Mr. Ayers is the founder of the "small schools" movement (heavily funded by CAC), in which individual schools built around specific political themes push students to "confront issues of inequity, war, and violence." He believes teacher education programs should serve as "sites of resistance" to an oppressive system. In my opinion, if we all had confronted inequity, war, and violence, we might not be in as deep a hole as we are today. ** Fourth, the article ends with a rhetorical device: As CAC chairman, Mr. Obama was lending moral and financial support to Mr. Ayers and his radical circle. That is a story even if Mr. Ayers had never planted a single bomb 40 years ago. The article starts with Weather Underground and ends with the word "bomb", wrapping Mr. Ayers in a cocoon of imaginary violent behavior. It is a sham and a charade. In fact, after the last 2 weeks, if Mr. Ayers were running for President, I believe I would vote for him!

Mirror Iraq; Doubles, Doppelgangers, and The Dark Side

Joseph Stiglitz asserts that the true cost of the Iraq War will be $3 trillion. I am not sure whether to believe him, a nobel laureate, or Paul Wolfowitz, who said the cost of the Iraq War would be $1 billion. I tend to Stiglitz's view. Now, the cost of the Bail Out is $700 billion. Since all governmental estimates are grossly understated, we may increase this 100% right off the bat, the new estimate being $1.4 trillion. We know even this should be a bit short, especially since it is a freebie for politicos who have their hands in our pockets, searching for spare change, so another $200 billion is in order. Then there are trips across country, to Cancun, housekeeping, pencils and pens, and rubber bands. This should be rather a big deal, since the issue is a big deal. Then there is malfeasance and criminality. Nothing goes on in the modern day without the old disappearing funds trick; absolutely nothing. It is rather as if accounting standards were merely suggestions or hints from Heloise. When it comes to real money thrown around by real governments, the first casualty of war is fiscal accountability. Hence, no ruling class worth its salt would let a $700 billion bail out get done without a 25% to 50% take off the top: we do things big here. Therefore, the Bail Out will cost, ah, let's see...plus $30 for incidentals...and sales tax...$ 3 trillion. The same as the Iraq War. It is the Mirror Iraq War in the domestic sector. How truly Borgesian. It should be an infinity of mirrors: the climate change trillions, the Afghanistan War trillions, and so on, and so on. I never really understood the notion of a mirror, or a doppelganger, or a double, or twin identity, and why it was so spooky to various writers and various times. Now I know. The dark self comes out as these expensive debacles: Mr. Hyde pops out of Dr. Jekyll. If there is merely 1 piddling little war, one does not think much of it. War is war, everyone has a war every so often. It is, as our gallic friends say, la condition humaine. When there are two wars going on, one begins to take notice. When there are two wars, our rights are being eroded, and the so-called financial brains have brought the nation almost to utter collapse, one wonders just how many monsters will pop out from our poor Krel-like minds. But I understand the evil twins, triplets, quadruplets, and so on. I have lived long enough to see the USA embody its direct opposite. I understand Dr. Caligari's somnambulist, a quasi-twin of Caligari, an evil entity. I see it. Now may Conrad Veidt rest in peace, for he is no longer troubled by being the carrier of an obscure message: we carry within us the seeds of our destruction. These seeds of destruction, being part of us, do not alert our immune system; they fool the body and soul into believing they are part and parcel of the entity; a cancer. (This is where a good transcendental morality helps: check everything against the eternal measure of goodness. If it fails, remove it from your consciousness.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I, Claudius

It has been brought to my attention that I seriously erred in paralleling John McCain to Nero, demented as they both may be, for truly John McCain most closely approximates Claudius, the successor of Caligula and the predecessor of Nero. If you remember the PBS special "I, Claudius", I think you will agree that Derek Jacobi rather nails the McCain personality in his bumbling and stumbling. And, if that is not enough, there is either Sarah Palin or Cindy as Agrippina, more properly Julia Agrippina Minor. She was the daughter of Agrippina the Elder and Germanicus and eventually wife of Claudius. If Cindy plays Agrippina, then Sarah may play a governor of a far-away province. Pontius Pilate comes to mind. (I believe in the original "I,Claudius", Patrick Stewart played Pontius.) Agrippina is rumored to have poisoned Claudius. Accounts vary widely. In time...in time......all in good time...

Carceri d'Invenzione

The newly built prison where Mother America and her children, Life, Liberty, and Happiness, will be incarcerated.

Around The Water Cooler

Did you hear what that deeee-vine Sarah Palin said on the TV last night?

Bail-Out Bloopers And Outtakes

Did someone mention the Spanish Inquisition?

Shakespearean Ironies

She-who-must-be-obeyed spoke of a gentleman who is not very chummy with me. Two years ago I was at a Christmas party, and was speaking with him about, oh, I don't know, politics, ethics, God...one of my usual topics that render my prey glassy-eyed...when someone about 20 miles away said something about hunting, whereupon said gentleman debouched from the toxic ground-zero around me and scurried like a vole to the more attractive clime of gun talk. Let it not be said that I bear grudges. However, my wife said that so-and-so was out with the ROMEOS that morning. So I grunted the universal husband code acknowledging receipt of incoming message, meanwhile forming an ungodly image in my scandalized mind of this guy going around with a bunch of similar red-faced, beer swilling antiquities, making amorous advances on silver haired molls. Here wife waits. Husband notices this apprehension, so to say, a holding of the conversational breath, wife obviously expecting something other than the universal receipt grunt. Somehow, this ROMEO thing is more important than I thought, and furthermore - damn its eyes! - requires some sort of the old blah-blah-blah before I may safely return to what I was doing. "You know what the ROMEOS are, don't you?" she asks with the iron tongue in velvet ....velvet...velvet tongue warmer. Think, fool! I say to myself, for she waits the chance to pounce upon my failing memory as some sort of conquering Alzheimer's moment. "No.", I say. "What are ROMEOS?" "His group. Retired Old Men Eating Out." I winced. "I assume that means they are infesting a neighborhood eatery en masse?" She smiled and nodded. Her smile meant some connivance or some treachery somewhere. It was as if she disdained my group of jolly roisterers - The Greybeards - and esteemed this pack of ROMEOS. I spoke after a short while. "I shall form my own group and confront them." , I said. "I shall form a group called TYBALTS." So far, all I have is The Young Bucks.... for the acronym, but that is a decidedly good start

And In This Corner...

Baysage in What Powderfinger said... has a post on the bail out, or the Brave New World as I like to call it: http://whatpowderfingersaid.blogspot.com/2008/09/now-let-me.html and he is adamantly opposed. Good for him for taking a stand. For myself, if I had my cabin in the mountains, I would take my old Whole Earth catalogues and guns and become a mountain man, never coming back to mingle with city folk. I was talking to an old guy, my father actually, and Fox News had clockwork-oranged him into a state where he now actually agrees with my condemnation of Republicans, but cannot utter a statement without some introductory proviso along the lines of: "Both sides were at fault; the banks who wrote the mortgage and the homeowners who kidded themselves into thinking they could afford it." or "The President made a lot of errors, but this is the worst Congress since..." or "Both Democrats and Republicans are to blame..." or "I do not trust Obama. I do not believe he's on the up and up. The people is his past are very shady characters." I know what it all is. When he talks about the characters in Obama's past, it actually means "black people". And certainly both political parties are to blame, although presently the Republicans have all the trump cards of criminality. However, this business about the homeowners and the mortgage industry...tsk,tsk,tsk. Here's how it really went down: In this corner, the challenger, your average homeowner; middle-class, prone to believe TV commercials, thinks they're hot stuff. (yay! yay!) And in this corner... (camera pulls back to get all this gargantua- or tregurtha - into the frame.) ...the champion, the mortgage banking industry... (yay! yay!) ...Wall Street... (yay!yay!) ...the Secretary of the Treasury, the Vice President of the United States... (yay! yay??) ...and all the accumulated economic nonsense of 40 years! (yay!!!!) Now who do you think would win that match?

Why Are Short Sales Bad? Why Are Heroes Good?

There is a temporary ban on short sales, and it gives the impression that they are some sort of rogue process that undermines equity markets. Treasury Secretary Paulson created a storm when the government took over Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. The government could have made a point to China, Japan, Russia, and others that the bonds of these 2 institutions were equivalent to US Treasuries. ( China, Russia, etc. are the foreign owners of the bonds, and they were becoming jittery about just what the heck was going on with real estate mortgages.) The government could have taken a bit of the companies, say 25%, thus making the shareholders pain large enough, but not total.

Once the government took over the entire institutions, the shareholders lose everything. Once shareholders see shareholders loosing everything, they do not invest. So after that time, no one in their right minds would invest a penny in Lehman Brothers, nor any other financial stock which may possibly get into trouble and need the kind attention of the government. Since no one would invest, stocks went begging for buyers. Thus stocks declined quickly. The short sellers took advantage of this and facilitated it, but did not cause it. They offered to buy stock from panicky shareholders who would rather loose 50% by a short sale than 100% to the government. Who else would buy Lehman Brothers, other than a gambler? No one.

The ban on short sales actually will assist in the bail out, since we have forbidden the only potential buyer of distressed stocks to purchase anymore for a while. Thus, there is no exit until the bail out is made law. The bail out now proposed will put an end to this process. It does not look to assign blame, but that can wait. It should wait since (1) we already know who built the playground: Republicans and Phil Gramm, and (2) it will take a bit of time to scour all the spider-holes in the Hamptons for the miscreants.

However, no matter how it turns out, America has changed forever. I think for the better. Why? Because of the incredibly complex scenario of heroism we see before us. It was not enough to have idiotic Republicans going into an election against Hilary Clinton, who would then sweep to the White House. No. We have a contender who was a relative unknown until 2 years ago. No only is he new to the national focus, but he is a black man. So now America must deal with its racism. It wasn't enough to deal with war-mongering and lieing and torturing and those ethical issues and well as bread and butter ones; now we must deal with our own racism!  

We actually have to go into this election and confront ourselves. We actually have to choose whether we shall continue to give overt or covert support to the diseases which bedevil this country. That does not happen too often. We shall see what happens. Shall we be heroes and overcome our baser selves? Or shall we not. And what is the future for failed heroes? Philoctetes. He is the future of failed heroes. Philoctetes sits on his island in his nauseating misery.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Bailout Bakhshish

As there is testimony to the fact that $7 billion of Iraq reconstruction funds have been misapplied, lost, or merely absconded with, it is time to try and estimate how much money will be misused in the bailout. How often will mortgages the government ends up holding be tampered with, thus increasing the cost to the American people? Pretty often. Three years from now, we'll have testimony before Congress, which will be meeting in John Feltser's barn, down by Antietam. I may hitch up the buggy and sit in.

Play Pen Religion

We are conscious beings.
There are things in the world we experience. There are states-of-things in the world we experience.
As conscious beings, we create structures of consciousness by which we perceive, understand, communicate, and store the states-of-things in the world. These structures of consciousness are themselves objects of our consciousness.
Hence, they are perceived, understood, communicated, and stored, becoming thereby states-of-affairs which may be experienced by us in the future. Now we have a consciousness structure of many levels and vast complexity. Within this structure, there are lacuna, hiatuses, and empty blanks. These are areas of ignorance.  

Conscious entities, by definition, cannot have gaps in consciousness.

All such gaps must be filled in. [If there is a gap in consciousness, we have a fugue-like state, a coma, a failure of memory. A gap is a symptom of a problem.] If we choose to remedy ignorance, we actively set out to learn. Once the learning process is finished - we no longer actively wish to augment our knowledge, we are satisfied- we have reached a point where we consider our desire for knowledge to be satiated.
At this point, there are no gaps.
The gaps have been filled in by experience of things or derived structures of consciousness: something an authority has told us, something our parents said, something our teachers taught, etc. There are no gaps. If there is a gap, consciousness will fill it in with anything that comes to hand. Mankind will desire knowledge. Once it no longer desires knowledge, any remaining gaps will be filled in by myth, story, scenario, humming, activities, pictures....you name it.

This is how we see our gods: we do a certain amount of work, reach a point where we are satisfied, then fill in all the gaps and blanks with derivative knowledge of various provenances. The path to God never ends. If you are satisfied with your knowledge of the Divine, you are living in a play pen, theologically speaking. (If this resembles the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, I demure at any comparison. My actual favorite Philosopher is Katerina Wittgenstein.)

 

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We Are Spending Our Kids Inheritance

Chronos Devouring His Children by Goya

This painting has been my symbol of the present age of destruction.( I guess Barry McGuire was spot on with his "Eve of Destruction" title. It took a little longer than Barry thought.) It shows how the Age of Republicans, say 1980 to the present, has taken its paltry philosophy and turned it into an effective agent of transgenerational mayhem. I am going to have one of those spare tire covers made up:



with the picture on it, along with the inscription:


We Are Spending Our Kids Inheritance !


I am not sure whether we shall add an optional smiley face.

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The New Leviathan

Referring back to the recent post on "The Beginning of History" at http://fatherdaughtertalk.blogspot.com/2008/09/brave-new-world-welcome-to-it.html I am struck by the quote " The chances are rising for a sudden and massive dollar devaluation at some point in the future. Moreover, we know now that the system is capable of anything. " therein. This System we call the United States is capable of anything. Not "anything" in a good sense anymore. The USA of the founding fathers was NOT capable of anything. There were things the Founding Fathers would not do. This Political Establishment, this Ruling Elite, is capable of doing absolutely anything to stay in power and to maintain their wealth. They will do...ANYTHING. They already are eating the future with their deficits, wars, debts, and obligations. I wish I owned the stone concession where our grandchildren will go to get rocks to throw at our memorials.

My VW

...has an OPM read-out on the dashboard, as well as miles-to-empty, average miles-per-hour, miles-per-gallon, as so on. The OPM read-out has been stuck at 700 billion, or 7 x 10^ 11, since last week. In case you do not know, OPM is "other peoples' money".

Of Course

...700 billion dollars in government talk easily means double, or 1.4 trillion. Assuming they follow standard operating procedures, 700 billion should be 2 trillion +/- 500 billion by the end of this tragedy.

The Beginning Of History

"The fact is, the markets work, and they are working. And people - some of the big companies obviously - have taken risks. Risk means risk. And there's an upside as well as a downside in some of the choices they've made. We have to be careful not to have this set of developments lead us to significantly expand the role of government in ways that may do damage long-term for the economy. We don't want to interfere with the basic, fundamental working of the markets." Dick Cheney 11/26/07 from: http://money.cnn.com/2007/11/22/magazines/fortune/cheney_news.fortune/index.htm?postversion=2007112613 FORTUNE Cheney: No bailouts, no tax hikes...more oil No further comment is needed. The Cunning Realist observes the madness of a country which rewards criminal incompetence: http://cunningrealist.blogspot.com/2008/09/my-sagacious-barber.html ...for fans of accountability, the timing is good. Far better now than after Inauguration Day. This way, at least the responsibility is clear, and the Kudlows of the world won't be able to spend the next few decades blaming the Democrats. In a perfect world, any political party that presided over this sort of debacle would wander in the wilderness for years or be permanently discredited. Instead, the incumbent party finds itself within a few percentage points of being rewarded with a third term in the White House. If Americans decide to give it that third term, they'll deserve everything they get -- not only financially but, as I've said before, in terms of national security/physical safety... ...If people really understood what was going on here -- essentially a system of "soft slavery" in which an ever-increasing amount of one's daily labor subsidizes Wall Street and the speculator class via inflation and the socialization of risk -- they'd be in the street. Of course very few do understand it, which is what policymakers count on. Now, let us back up and look at what has been created by the ruling class: It's clearer than ever that one's after-tax savings are not safe if kept within this system. When two or three unelected statists can decide on a moment's notice that the nation will embark on something as costly as another Iraq -- and then dictate the terms to a cowed Congress -- does that need much explanation? The chances are rising for a sudden and massive dollar devaluation at some point in the future. Moreover, we know now that the system is capable of anything. We've already seen rock-bottom interest rates, new credit facilities, expanded repurchase agreements, unprecedented liquidity, well-timed futures goosing, interventions, conservatorships, and now short-selling bans and bailouts. If all that proves insufficient, expect literally anything: national bank holidays, market shutdowns, restrictions on gold ownership, and capital controls. You really don't need much of a historical perspective to predict this stuff, just a little intuition about what happens when a jingoistic, militarized, increasingly socialistic nation overextends itself and is confronted with the consequences. Evaluate your exposure and plan accordingly. Unless we stop the madness of the rulers, those sanctuaries of Canada and Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, are looking better and better in the dark future. Is not George Bush the image of Caligula, little boots, who played at war in his father's camps? Truly, is not the mad McCain an image of Nero in his blustering incomprehension?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Nights Of Long Knives

First, I wish for everyone's well being in these times.

Even though I have been predicting gloom and doom for years, I draw no pleasure in it. Quite the contrary, the events of the last week have put me out of sorts.
I refused to listen to radio of TV news for 2 days.

Secondly, there is a 50/50 chance things will work out as the government anticipates; maybe a better chance than that.

Thirdly, the net result for us, assuming that it works out, will be the Death of a Thousand Cuts during nights of long knives.
The very possibly substantial inflationary effects will impoverish us. We shall cry to the government for assistance and health care, but they will deny us. The flight of jobs will very possibly quicken, leaving the USA a broken hulk.
The service we rendered in saving the rich on Wall Street will go unrewarded. The rich will have learned their lessons, and next time be more careful in their destruction of the democracy of the great unwashed middle class. They will try to kill us slowly, with the thousand cuts. Our parents will be transformed into Wal-Mart zombie greeters, while our children will work the shelves, trying to get an hour off to see their doctors at the industrial clinic.

If you see Phil Gramm resurrected, know that the End is near.  

ps: do not for a minute think I'm kidding!

A Note On Hubris

I seem to recall that the notion of hubris was touched with the idea of reversal of fortune. In the past eight years, the USA has gone from the end of History - there is no history save that of the USA and the Neocon geniuses who moved and shook- and the foreign policy of throwing a miserable nation of turban wearers against the wall every now and then, to the present miasma. Can you believe it. If you recall my poem on my other site about the Tunisian Lady, a sudden reversal of imagery takes your breath away. Everything is a gift from God, even suffering. We had better learn the lesson in this! It may be something like: so great is the danger in having one super-power which has become arrogant and idolatrous to think itself to be the god of history, that God must bring it back down to human size!

Captain Bringdown Speaks!

Huzzah for the Stock Market! Huzzah for ...anything worthy of an Huzzah! Do you know the answer to this question: the stock market rally of the past two days is the biggest percentage gain rally since when? Come on, you know the answer. You just won't admit it.

Check your answers at : http://bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/2008/09/industrials-big.html#more

Trinity Term In Uqbar

We here in Uqbar follow the British school year and educational system with slavish, or former slavish, devotion. So there is a type of Eights Week. We have added to it with dragon boat races, bathtub races, and inner tubes floating around carrying drunks. This is the annual tramp oil tanker race:

The Eights Week race is an open timed race, first across the finish line wins.

The Hilary Week race in Spring is a bumps race. In a bumps race, the boats line up single-file, take off at the start, and attempt to "bump" each other from the behind. This type of shenanigans explains a good deal of the pollution in the older part of Uqbar harbor.

May Day Parade In Red (White And Blue) Square



When the good old Soyuz, the USSR, fell from the breakfast table and smashed into a hundred pieces or so, the bureaucrats at the Kremlin looked aghast at the grisly faux pas. People in the West did a jig or a kerry dance, and more or less said things like "We're Number 1!", and put on and wagged large styrofoam hands with the index finger extended to underscore the status of being numero uno.

I loosed a sigh of relief, for I had always remembered how frightened I had been by the civil defense sirens mournfully piping in the end of the world in the old Conelrad advertisements on TV.
However, being a quasi-Hegelian, I wondered now whence comes the bullet aimed at the USA? When one member of the polarity disappears, what happens to the remaining pole?
I mean, we had defined ourselves, realistically and mythically, by our opposition to the USSR. If there is no USSR, what happens to the identity of the USA? Well, I recalled the theory that two enemies, during a long altercation, tend to become more and more alike to each other.

September 20, 2008, dawns and we see the Union of Soviet States of America: the USSA !

The financial system is now socialized. And it is not Harry Truman that we wanted to compare George Bush to, saying that Truman, too, was very unpopular, but history has vindicated him; it was Truman's counterpart in the UK, Clement Atlee that we need to parallel to Bush. Atlee headed up the post-war Labour government.Socialist, ya know. I guess I'm willing to give it a try. What the heck. I am off to dig out the music for the Internationale. See ya next May Day......not in Red Square...... but in RED, WHITE, AND BLUE SQUARE !

 

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pax

pix: willie baronet

Secure Holdings & Investments: Toxic, Ltd.

It sounds like the nebulous one in the White House, a few of the good men in government, and the Congress of the United States of America (ta-dah!) are going to actually create the institution: Secure Holdings & Investments:Toxic, Ltd. It will be on the big board under its acronymous designation which is easily divined from the above.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

We Have Not...

We have not even lived until today.
We have not ruled.
We have had our common inheritance as free Americans stolen from us by Theft disguised as Economy, Stagnation and Poverty disguised as Freedom.

We have let the worst among us rule, men and women who share a uniform culture of promiscuous and casual corruption. The past is being destroyed by the inept monsters that rule today; we hall rule tomorrow.
We have not loved until today; love formed in the obsessive and mindlessly selfish and hurtful myths of the past is no love at all.
We have not had companionship until today.
We have condemned entire races and orated against entire religions when other peoples dared to be different from us.
We propagate a myth of economics and politics and religion which, in its shameful core, is as intolerant and as warlike and as hate-filled as the most fundamentalist creed extant upon the face of the earth.

We have not eaten until today. The bread of discord and the wines of violence they have given us for our daily slave rations, the cigarettes and alcohols which destroy, the malformed food and drinks which rot our bodies, have all rendered us unfit temples.
We have not seen until today. We have lived our entire lives in the Mythic embrace of the stories of World War I and World II, embracing the sagas and eddas of past, living the lives spun as historical Homeric epics which enriched and liberated their creators, but enslaved and entombed their successors...who needed to create their own histories of Troy, not huddle about the cramped midden fires of the present, warming themselves at the glory of the past.
We have not seen God until today. God has been encapsulated within crabbed and tortured philosophies which sought, like the alchemistic idolators of old, to snare the divine presence within the bell jars of desire, the divine spark muted and entoxined with formaldehyde of lust and power.
We shall not endure this infamous regime any longer! Neither the men, neither the women, neither their ideas!  

Dedicated to Francis Fukuyama, who famously said that History had ended- it was all USA now, and no other peoples nor states mattered.
--

A Sandwich In Mourning...

...caught my eye, and I tried then to surreptitiously gaze, ashamed of my naked desire to watch its egg salad pain. pix: willie baronet

Thursday, January 20, 2005

A $4 million inauguration. When the president still wanted to be seen as responsible for the economy; when Iraq was not yet a full-scale inferno; when Abu Ghraib was still believed by America to be the fault of "a few bad apples"; when Harriet Miers had not yet been nominated to the Supreme Court; when climate change was a liberal notion, and Katrina was a name of an actress in silent movies; when airplanes were still not being properly inmspected; when there was no regulation of the finanacial sector; when trickle-down was still untainted by vulgar connotations and contempt. Them were the days.

See The Trickle-Down Gentlemen Wilting, Dear

The Houston Chronicle http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/outlook/6007788.html Phil Gramm's fingerprints are all over market mess By FROMA HARROP Sept. 17, 2008, 11:22PM McCain's former economic adviser is ex-Texas Sen. Phil Gramm. On Dec. 15, 2000, hours before Congress was to leave for Christmas recess, Gramm had a 262-page amendment slipped into the appropriations bill. It forbade federal agencies to regulate the financial derivatives that greased the skids for passing along risky mortgage-backed securities to investors. And that, my friends, is why everything's falling apart. That is why the taxpayers are now on the hook for the follies of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Bear Stearns and now the insurance giant AIG to the tune of $85 billion. Trickle-Down Economics was always recognizable as a scam. George H.W. Bush, the President's father, saw it for what it was, and immediately called it "voo-doo" economics. This is the same economic theory we have referred to as "vampire" economics. It also answers to "zombie" ec., "frankenstein" ec., and "alien vs. predator" economics. It trickles at the rate of molasses in the middle of winter. It is an ignorant theory, propounded by fools. There is absolutely no hidden and magical mechanism existing in the market to make the investments of the rich become benefits for the poor. It is all probabilities, or a pig in a poke. Republicans, the quaint species which pretends to find High Truth buried in their own selfish interests, however, was won over to the tawdry theory. It was so much to their liking that it could have been propounded by Alfred Rosenberg, and they still would have gone for it hook, line, and sinker. After the brief, all too brief reign of public service pursuant to the Contract With America, the Republicans turned back to what American politicians do best: maximize the take for good old Number 1. By 1999, the bizarre charlatan Phil Gramm had laid the ground work for deregulation of the financial industry, apparently laboring under the misapprehension that the financial sector had somehow learned to temper profits with public service. Even the Savings & Loan debacle ten years earlier - a circus in which John McCain was very much a center ring act - did not temper the rush to deregulation. The bald evidence of the tendency to act foolishly and illegally was a lesson of recent history we could only choose to gloss over. Somehow it was an aberration, not a basic human frailty; greed which destroys is overcome miraculously by the invisible hand of the free market, an idol which only rewards good greed, not bad greed. If that sounds fatuous and nonsensical, I submit it makes more sense than Republican economics. Obama was not in the Senate in 1999. McCain was. I bet you dollars to doughnut he voted for Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, and approved of everything that Gramm has done. The great irony in it all is that, as billions of value are being destroyed, it is the billions of the rich whom Bush exempted from taxation. What goes around, comes around.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Insane, Insane, Insane, John McCain

When John McCain told Pastor Warren that he was personally opposed to evil, he added he would chase Osama Bin Laden to the Gates of Hell. Now, just how many biblical tropes and nuances must one sprinkle into a conversation until I get sick? Just about that many. Patronizing old geezer.

God Never Defaults

The inflationary results of propping up the monetary system will take our breath away, but its full intensity is not yet here. Some people have wondered why a shop with the name "God" in the title, such as mine, would stoop to discuss things like economics and politics. If there is no sand nearby in which to write the most private sins of my interlocutors, I just smile a cheery smile and say "What,ho! Time for tea. " and saunter off, leaving them wondering why they thought me worth talking to in the first place.

 Levine once asked me if God talked to me. He had read one of my posts, and he said it sounded as if I thought I had a cozy relationship with His Nibs. So I laughed. But I also said that God does not talk. God inspires. One either is in touch with the inspiration, and thus -in a sense- on the same wave length, or one is not.

Words and logic, expectations and ambitions, hungers and passions are all physical-symbolic structures ( some are "mythic" in my sense ) which interfere with the intuition of inspiration.  

The Experience Of the Divine is a basic and essential human function, such as language and music. It is not reducible to some other human experience. God is not joy nor suffering, not words, not singing, not dreaming... We may talk about basketball, but that does not make the experience of basketball somehow reducible to talking and language. Similarly, the Divine is not reducible to words and logic, or songs, or smiles, or frowns, or anything else.

I have seen and heard that our concept or acquaintance of God came from our experience of awe or fear or wonder at (pick one): the world, the universe, the starry night...etc. Pure hogwash. The emotion of awe is what it is. It is not God.  
God is one and alone. Our experience of God is a primitive function of humanity which is not reducible to any other human function: it stands alone.

When one is inspired, one does not fall into a dreamy reverie; that is a comatose or fugue state. One does not smile obsessively and gush platitudes; that is enthusiasm. One does not speak in tongues; that is narcotic-like orgy of the language areas of the brain.
If one is inspired, one is attune to all that is, although one need not be aware of all that is; Good heavens, that is an LSD phenomenon. I do not fault LSD visions, nor do I recommend them. They are not God. Timothy Leary to the contrary. They are just exactly what they are.

Every time we experience something new and forceful, bingo: it's God, sure enough!
No it isn't. If you ever read Killing the Buddha, you know the story is that a young monk in training ran across the Lord Buddha walking down the road. He ran back to his teacher with this incredible story. The teacher handed him a sword, saying "Kill the Buddha." The point of this being that if you happen to come across the Lord Buddha walking down the road, it is NOT the Lord Buddha.
Or if you think Jesus Christ plops down next to you in Church, you may safely bet it is not the Lord Jesus.  

God is not that which you conceive. God is not that which you cannot conceive. Rather God stands outside of any conceptual system: beyond any thesis and antithesis; God stands outside any non-conceptual system. If you think God to be a wonderful, bearded, old softy who loves children, He sends a hurricane. If you think God is a nasty old bugger, He sends you a mitzvah. Go figure.

--

A Line In The Financial Sand

A Red Cent
Health Care... Won't be able to afford it. Sorry. You should not have pressured us into taking over all those Wall Street companies. Now there is nothing left for your dialysis. Trillions for War, Trillions for Wall Street, but not one, damned red cent for Health Care !!

A Plugged Nickel

Security Holdings & Investments: Toxic, LLC

There has been an idea kicked about for a while as we try to find ways to protest the country from the Republican hang-over of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999. That act was what the Contract With America was all about. The idea is to create an Agency as the new holder of the bad or toxic debt. It will buy all the bad debt from the financial sector and dispose of it, probably at a land fill. This probably sounds like an investment too good to pass up. I know I am clamoring to buy some stock in Security Holdings & Investments: Toxic, LLC . as soon as possible. If you think you will pass on this one, guess again. Who, indeed, do you think will be the owner of such an institution, other than the American taxpayer, who invests large and receives little. Not only that, remember that the Bush Tax Cuts reduce the amount of tax that the Rich have to pay for the bail-outs and Toxic Managment institutions necessary to clean up after Wall Street hurled its lunch and dinner.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What's Wrong With America 1

It goes beyond Bush & Co. and the Phil Gramm inspired rout of the financial sector. For starts, there are some people in Michigan, historically democrats, who will not vote, or so they say. They cannot bring themselves to vote for Obama, so they will stay home. These peoples' attitude is a cancer. And Michigan, of all places. The state that has been down on its luck for years. The state where 80% of the population believe one does not need a college education. The state whose largest city's high schools have a 24.90% graduation rate. These people would rather withdraw into their own depression and let the world destroy itself. They will not even vote to save their own skins. They think their refusal to vote is a protest, but it is their own death wish. We have had enough of their attitude over the past. It is time for a new future. And that's what this is all about: the future. The past of deficit spending and letting the future pay for it is dying. The past of raping the planet and letting the future deal with an exploited and exhausted world is dying. The past of pushing the great mass on people into poverty or near poverty while enriching the few is dying. But it is not dead yet. And the beast will bellow in its death throws. Perhaps invade a country or two before the election. Anything is possible now...this is the time when all things are possible. In the mean time, suck it in. We all knew this economy was smoke, mirrors, and crap. Be brave. Be strong. And to those in Michigan: Ford's in his flivver, and all's right with the world.

Manhattan Projects I Have Known

Before anyone suggests it, The Federal Reserve is already the "Manhattan Project" for the financial sector. The Manhattan Project, as mentioned before, was the antithesis of free marketry mumbo-jumbo, being strictly government controlled, thereby being the prothesis of socialist marketry mish-mosh. (note: that is prothesis, not prosthesis.)

My Urban Dictionary

tregurtha: ( tre - gur' - tha ) noun; an enormous body or object; an obese person; a mass of flesh just short of monstrous. adjective; rather large and possessing much of the avoir du pois. also tregurthine, tregurthous. verb; to be or become tregurtha-like, to overdose in the eating department, to be over-bulked-up. different forms: intensive: quadgurtha, pentgurtha, etc. or quad-tregurtha, etc. opposite: anti-tregurtha blasphemous: golgurtha equine: hippogurtha or hippotregurtha avian: ornigurtha diminutive: tregurthula examples Lehman Brothers was a truly tregurthine investment bank. WaPo 9/15/2008 Her corsets were possessed of rather enormous stays, like tregurthous guy wires to stabilize her "big top". Thackeray Vanity Fair ...amidst the tregurthine Christmas decorations festooned... Dickens A Christmas Carol etymology Professor Onions of the Ox.Dic.Etym. traces it to the brace of Great Lakes freighters, the Lee and Paul Tregurtha, being very substantial hulls and wonderfully imposing heaps of iron.

The Social Theory Of Hockey Moms

As Pinocchio Theory succintly points out: http://www.shaviro.com/Blog/?p=669 An Issue That Won’t Go Away ...analyses...blithely ignore the ways that Palin’s media persona (the “hockey mom” entirely dedicated to Family who is also the ferocious “pitbull” or “barracuda”) could never have been imagined in another time and place, because it is so closely tied to the economic situation of American middle-class families today (in which the necessity for both parents to work subsists uneasily alongside the still unequal distribution of household and child-raising chores)... Or, in the words of my limited capacity, she is the true incarnation of the Death of A Middle Class. Willy Loman accepted his death by marginalization with a depressed alcoholism. Now there will be a fight against the machine... ...however, what the machine is will not be defined until some future date when the fighting is already joined and barricades are in the streets. This is rather similar to how the campaign has no well defined issues...as yet, even though the carapace of our country falls about our ears. (note: my spin will not meet Spinocchio's...er, Pinocchio's approval, so do not expect such concordance.)

Wall Street Blues

...and Sgt. Phil Esterhaus cautions us "Let's be careful out there." What are we going to do in the future when Bank of America catches a cold? One source of the problem was pointed out years ago: the institutions being created were just too big, ensuring that banking problems would be enormous. With banking institutions of such a gargantuan size, look what we have created:
moral hazard roulette
(1) the banks themselves seem to operate with the idea of a government safety net to catch them when they attempt something too dangerous, (2) the government has to make a fall guy out of Lehman Bros. to let people know it means business. Furthermore, what has been abundantly demonstrated is the fact that Free Market Economics has no skills to handle such a situation short of severe collapse. Socialist Economics is now delineated as the only philosophy able to handle this type of event. People are smart. If you push them too far, they will demand the Socialist answer for their lives which you have rendered unsustainable. Only, you know that American Socialism will be some sort of jerry-rigged sham, and the whole process will shamble on its weary track.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Jeb Bush Gets His Licks

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/251/story/52544.html McCain hits administration policy, but doesn't name Bush By Mary Ellen Klas Miami Herald "Sitting behind McCain was former Gov. Jeb Bush, who was hired a year ago by Lehman Brothers as a financial consultant. As governor, Bush served on the three-member State Board of Administration that agreed to let the state's retirement fund buy a series of questionable mortgage-backed bonds from Lehman Brothers. The subsequent steep drop in value prompted a $9 billion run on the fund last December by local governments who had invested their money in the SBA managed fund." AND http://www.mcclatchydc.com/251/story/52543.html Lehman bankruptcy hits Florida state pension funds By Beatrice E. Garcia Miami Herald "The bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, a prestigious Wall Street firm, will touch Florida's pension funds and the state-run insurer because both hold its securities. The State Board of Administration holds $322 million in Lehman stock and bonds. The SBA manages the state's employee fund and more than two dozen other funds, including assets for the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund and the Florida Prepaid College Plan. Dennis McKee, a spokesman for the SBA, said the agency has an $84 million unrealized loss on its holdings. About two-thirds of the securities are held by the Florida Retirement System, which includes the pension funds for local counties such as Miami-Dade and Broward. The rest is spread out in the catastrophe fund and the Lawton Chiles Endowment Fund, which helps fund Medicare." Is there any Bush offspring with any sense of honor and morality?

Wall Street & Immigration

Guess what Lehman Bros. means for Immigration? It means that now we need a day's work for a day's pay, or a day's savings, or a day's taxes. No longer will the outrageous Rich Republican Phil Gramm mechanism of leverage: invest $1 for the bang of $30, be able to create paper profits and paper growth. In short, who will fund the Boomers? Not Phil Gramm and his cronies anymore. We need a lot of people working and paying taxes. Lots of them, preferably making good wages that pay payroll taxes and FUTA. We shall need to actively seek out and attract immigration, and we better do it right now as part of a package to secure Soc. Sec. Tear that 700 mile wall back down, by the way, idiots!

Intelligent Designer Or Intelligent Engineer

Intelligent Design should be called Intelligent Engineering. And the impulse they pray to could rightly say " I am the Engineer" !

and then sing the old Canadian Engineers' song: I am, I am, I am an engineer! I can, I can, I can drink 100 beer! (This reference requires an acquaintance with Clive Barker, as difficult as that may be.)

Wall Street Lays An Egg

There. I said it. Clowns of the right wing persuasion have been hinting that if Barack Obama were elected, the stock markets would be adversely affected. Yeah, right.

Above The Radar

Apparently there was an anti-Palin rally when the Guv returned home, only it did not get media coverage. This gives me hope that there is much going on not covered by the media, the media being either too embedded or too ignorant to know what's going down. Pix and article: http://mudflats.wordpress.com/2008/09/14/alaska-women-reject-palin-rally-is-huge/#comment-21325#comment-21342#comment-21353#comment-21426#comment-21919 (I actually like Palin, though not yet as my elected rep. What I cannot abide is the Republican Party of the present day.)

Views From Houston

As Ike approached, I watched on Google Earth and the Houston TranStar highway camera system. From Galveston in the south, the cameras blinked out heading north as the storm made headway.

IH-45 heading south at Bayou Vista at 5:22 pm Central Time.

IH-45 and the TCT Railroad. The camera shows an exit on the right in the first picture, and it has zoomed in on the exit sign in the second.

The city of Jasper on Saturday morning. In the center top one may see the golden arches braving the tempest.

Our Lives In The Bush Of Ghosts 11

Lehman Brothers Headquarters
(Intro Note: Amos Tutuola wrote a novel entitled "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts", hence my title.He meant a bushy terrain; I mean a person named Bush.)

Wake up and smell the roses of another Monday morning in the Bush of ghosts!

(Lest anyone forget, I predicted that there was a 50-50 chance things would get so bad that Bush would resign.)

A Nation Of Whiners

Dear Ex-Senator Phil Gramm, You will ge glad to discover that America can also be a nation of people who will bring miscreants to justice. Destroy the financial system because you wanted to feather your nest with your Wall Street buddies, and wished them to make unparalleled gains from dangerous and irresponsible business practices, and you will be brought to justice. A nation that will not get angry, Phil, but will get even. We may be whiners, but...

Memorials

I stand by my posting on Memorials. Make a commitment and stick by it. Fine. But we could not even do that. We had to create the fantasy of Saddam Hussein somehow being behind 9/11, and then commit to kill hundreds of thousands, if not millions, and spend $3 trillion in doing so. Make a commitment and stick to it. I do not need the past paraded before me, if the sole purpose to to increase adrenalin flow for a failed policy. I watched a special on 9/11 in Manhattan last night. I was angry that after the deaths and expense, the man responsible is still free. What used to be the strongest country in the history of the world went after a straw man.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tommy Chang Comes Out

Thomas Chang says that he has known since he was a child that he would be in revolutionary times. He knew he would have to fight for what he believed to be right. He also thought that when his parents came to the USA via BC in Canada, he might have left this all behind, for there would be no revolution in the USA. His visions and dreams of struggle were some remnant of Chinese history in the 20th century: Sun Yat-sen, Chiang Kai-shek, and Mao. He does not know quite what to make of the past 8 years. The financial mess particularly bothers him, since it was his opinion that numbers and accountancy were a stable refuge in the changing world. He asked us at the Grey Beards club whether anyone else present, aged 55 to 70 years approximately, has felt that he was born into a time of struggle, whether they would be called upon to bear incredible burdens, and whether they felt intimidated by the enormity of it all. There was an immediate silence; a long, drawn out silence. Jakubowski muttered something about "Lord of the f***ing Rings", but fell silent, too. A long, living silence like the deluge of the Torah, the aim of which was to erase, not to irrigate; to lay low, not to augment; to bury, not to give birth. Levine raised his hand. He said yes. In his private thoughts, he had called them defenders of faith; defensores fidei, Fid.Def. as it is writ on the coins of the UK. He thought of Masada and Maccabees. The room exploded with talk...I do not know quite what to make of what I am witnessing sometimes.

Revolution Anyone?

I believe I made reference before to Thomas Mann's writing about the post World War I German inability to be amazed - as in awe struck, horrified, left speechless - at the changes in their country at the times of Herr Hitler. He wrote of those Germans who, having paid 2 million marks, for example, for a hen's egg, would likely not be amazed by too much in the future. We have also lost our ability to be amazed. We also cannot see the forest for the trees. We are living in radically new times, revolutionary, yet we refuse to see it, and we act like those big avian entities that bury their heads in the sand. Consider: RGE Monitor http://www.rgemonitor.com/globalmacro-monitor/cat/systemic-crisis-and-asset-bubbles/ Treasury Secretary Paulson leads us across the Rubicon Fabius Maximus Sep 9, 2008 Something new in American history Secretary Paulson has taken us across the Rubicon, as US public policy moves from the New Deal policy of macroeconomic stabilization (Main Street) to directly supporting the financial system (Wall Street). While there have been isolated instances of this in the past, the scale of this move has no precedents since the Great Depression. And in my opinion, few or no precedents including the Depression era. Writing like this is all over the place. The changes that are coming are phenomenal. Our homes will have lost 35% minimum of their value, our IRA will be in shambles, long term health care insurers may be insolvent... Add to this the Bush Doctrine of Lie First, Then Prevaricate. Or the Bush Doctrine of Bomb First, Ask Questions Later. Or the Bush Doctrine of Turn American Boys And Girls in the Army Into Torturers.....for all the world, for all the world as if they were soldiers at Buchenwald, not Abu Ghraib, and their smiles, to us so clear and beatiful, were like those wolvish and debased grins of the monsters of the past. You will be amazed, like it or not.

The Department Of Whoppers

That will be a new cabinet level department under McCain. Since his VP nominee believes the outright lie of the intimate connexion between Saddam Hussein and 9/11, we may look forward to the institutionalization of lies, bold and brazen, into the framework of government and society: the culture of the lie.... Or....
1984
in case you have forgotten. No amount of lipstick will cover up the decay at the heart of the USA if we cannot or will not change things around now.

The Island Of Doctor Carbo

Is there a strict parallelism between America's oil consumption and obesity? Do Hydrocarbons and Carbohydrates somehow exist in a Mythic and symbolic embrace? I mean, consumption is consumption, right? If the rich want to consume to resources of the world, why shouldn't the poor try to ape their betters by overdosing on chips? It is the nature of the incontinent beast. Did you ever notice the price of things in films from the 1930's? Allowing for inflation and such, a blue plate special that cost 50 cents back then should now cost about 20 million dollars. Yet, it does not. Why? The periodic cycles of boom and bust inherent in capitalism, of course. The potentially exponential growth of prices, wages, you name it, are controlled by the periodic destruction in the down cycles, thus dragging those blue plate specials back down to around $30, instead of the cost above, which takes a Zimbabwean accountant to fully grasp. Since the poor are sort of the gaskets, the grease, the nether millstone of the whole grinding process of boom and bust, let them have their dreams. Dreams of consumption, dreams of guilt...such are the inheritance of mankind. Now we see the Hamptons threatened by financial market instability. Who would have thought that the iconic Hamptons would e'er reel under the threat of going bust? Yet there it is. And all those born to the sense of Style and Taste feel the hot breath of the obese entities which inhabit this isle: not fully human, not entirely animal, as these clamor at the gate of the House of Pain, chattering about The Law in their uncouth semi-language

Prince Charles Bares All !

The whole lurid story!
http://www.i-sis.org.uk/PrinceCharlesSpeaks.php  
Prince Charles Speaks for the People and for Many Scientists Too
Dr. Mae-Wan Ho  
Prince Charles embarrassed the government and the scientific establishment with his Reith lecture broadcast on BBC Radio 4 (17 May 2000). In his wide ranging talk, which drew on the work of theologians, philosophers, scientists and economists, he said much that surely expressed the views of the majority in this country. Is it possible that the prince is more in touch with the common people than our elected Government? The idea that there is a sacred trust under which human beings accept stewardship for the earth is common to most spiritual traditions, including those that do not acknowledge a Creator. The Prince urged us to recapture this sense of the sacred, in which we accept that there are bounds of balance, order and harmony in the natural world and that development is progress only if it is sustainable. He singled out gene biotechnology (genetic modification) for attack as an unacceptable transgression of Nature's limits, treating our entire world as a “laboratory of life” with potentially disastrous consequences.
Not the usual thing we Americans are used to from the royals, eh?

(It is about this time that any conscientious blogger would make a pitch for you to read some tedious dribble about whatever it is that interests the blogger and not you. I do not think I have ever said you should read such and such, nor go to see this and that. I would say I am not doing much of anything if I actually have to command you to read something you found interesting in these pages.)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Issues Shmissues

I do not think it matters that Sarah Palin does not know what the Bush Doctrine is. That is a point in her favor, as far as I can tell. Do not try to pretend at this late date that issues matter. If the fact that Ms. Palin's state's proximity to Russia confers upon her international experience, then I am the foremost expert on NAFTA and Canada due to my schooling in Canada and my living there for a while, my proximity to Canada through much of my life, and so on. Experience comes by osmosis, as it were. I breath the sweet, northern Canadian air and go off to slap Steven Harper on the back and have a biere with Stefan Dion. And do not think that I am criticizing Ms. Palin. If the campaign were to be based on a discussion of issues, the Republican Party would be in a world of hurt. Every issue is one of their wounds: the economy, the lying invasion of Iraq, the failure to secure Afghanistan at the beginning in 2001, torture, suspending habeas corpus, the list is long. The more ghastly the economic and world situations become, the more we seem to withdraw from reality into a world of nonsense and appearances, a secret garden where we may all conspire and put on a pantomime show. Sort of like James M. Barrie and the children. See the white-haired old man caper about like a playful animal, tossing bouquets into the young lady's lap. Precious memories, indeed!

Thomas Chang, Life Insurance

Mr. Chang is a young man; youngish man...younger than I am. He sells insurance. He speaks to people of things that are staid and stable and the foundation of the nebulous future. So, his friend, John Wesley S., passed away. John had been a satisfied policy holder since 1991. It was touching to think that John approached that tunnel of light with his insubstantial hands wrapped about a phantom policy of Thomas Chang's. And last week, a wife of a long time policy holder called to tell him that the l.t.p.h. had been hit by a motorcycle helmet, lapsed into a coma, and died! It seemed the irony of being killed by head injuries inflicted by a head protection device bothered Tom as much as , if not more so, than the passing of l.t.p.h. He takes solace in the assurance of the continuity of Underwriting. I should get him a copy of The Crimson Permanent Assurance that he may sail the wide accountant-cy.

McCain Economics 101

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080922/scheer McCain and the Mortgage Meltdown By Robert Scheer The mortgage swaps distancing the originator of the loan from the ultimate collector were made legal only as a result of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which former Senator Phil Gramm, R-Texas, pushed through Congress just hours before the 2000 Christmas recess. Gramm, until recently co-chair of the McCain campaign, also had co-authored the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which became law in 1999 with President Bill Clinton's signature. That gem, which Gramm had pushed for years with massive financial industry lobbying, destroyed the Depression-era barrier to the merger of stockbrokers, banks and insurance companies. Those two acts effectively ended significant regulation of the financial community, and no wonder we have witnessed an even more rapid and severe meltdown in housing values than during the Great Depression. Not surprisingly, Gramm was rewarded for his service upon retirement as a senator and as head of the Senate Banking Committee with a top position at the Swiss-based UBS bank, which is close to drowning in the subprime mortgage nightmare he helped create. These folks have no shame, as was evidenced when the senator's wife, Wendy, was named a director of Enron, whose roiling of the energy market had been made possible only through yet another provision of Gramm's Commodity Futures Modernization Act. While neophyte Palin can claim ignorance of such matters, that would be particularly difficult for McCain, who as a senator consistently lined up with Gramm in his deregulation crusade. Clearly McCain had not learned much from his previous involvement with the savings-and-loan debacle about the risks to consumers in unregulated banking. McCain served as chair of Gramm's abortive 1996 presidential campaign, and Gramm returned the favor, providing critical support for McCain with the hard-line Republican base, including the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal. It was assumed in the business press that Gramm was the front-runner to be Treasury secretary in a McCain Administration. Gramm left his role as the top economic person near McCain only after he made an embarrassing statement blaming the current economic downturn on "whiners," an awkward reference to the victims of his disastrous legislation. Amazingly, the turmoil in the housing market, which has led to the socialization of the nation's revered homeownership market in a massive expansion of the role of big government, has apparently not troubled McCain's conservative supporters. As I said, ignorance is bliss, and evidently not just for the newbie Palin. I do not believe McCain took an active role in this. Certainly Phil Gramm did, and he should be brought to justice. McCain is entirely ignorant of everything, except warfare, at which he seems to be pretty good. However, so are the Joint Chiefs. We do not need such ignorance now. Ms. Palin is obviously not presently particularly apt for economic leadership, either. He has shown that he will be led by the nose by selfish interests, while loudly decrying lobbyists. Why should one expect anything else from her? Or anyone, for that matter.

Political And Ethical Decisions

Many years ago, I became interested in the phenomena now collectively referred to as "Climate Change". Back then, it was just strange weather. One year the earth was getting colder, the next it was getting hotter. Things were changing in a way science could not quite get a handle on. Ice was melting, however, and perma-frost was no longer "perma". Land once frozen and stable was slipping into the sea, and Inuit were being displaced. Hardly a matter for concern. Time went on. The pages from the calendar were ripped off and dumped into the wastebasket. Now it became a political item. As Hurricane Ike moves over Galveston and the nation's largest concentration of oil refining falls under its sway, I wonder how things which should have been done are not. It would have been an enormous undertaking to un-centralize the oil industry, but it was discussed after Katrina and Rita. But it would be rather costly. So we begin to reckon the cost of climate change. Shall we do anything now, or shall we pass it all along to our grandkids? They say what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. Those grandkids of ours are going to be some mighty strong-backed people to bear the crap we are dumping on them. One of the most important characteristics of Political Issues is the fact that by becoming a political issue, we can make a political decision. Or, more properly, we make the Issue subject to a political decision, a decision our political process may or may not make. By making an Issue a political Issue and subject to a Political Decision, we effectively transfer the Issue from the realm of Ethical Issues and we longer are compelled to make an Ethical Decision. We may effectively gag an Issue by making it a Political Issue. Even though the Issue gains visibility, in our day this means we shall discuss it and argue it in the everyday world and on radio and cable TV until we are sick of it, and we shall even then do nothing until we are forced by events to respond. Thus, we no longer feel compelled to choose an ethical path. We no longer feel the need to make an ethical decision. As long as we can state that Science has not "proved" whatever it is that the issue deals with, we shall argue, not choose, not decide...not commit ourselves to doing anything. In summary, by transforming an issue which deals with human well being into a political issue, we remove the necessity for making an ethical or moral decision about the issue. If we do make the ethical decision after the issue has become political, we merely ensure the continued existence of the political issue by embittering the political discussion with the acidity of self-righteousness. If we make the ethical decision before the issue becomes political, and we assist in the passage of the issue into the political arena, we ensure a future of self-righteousness and compulsion by force, as we try to compel belief in those who do not believe. We need to re-visit the frame of mind when one could make moral decisions without first transforming the relevant issue into a political issue, for our time is a time when major decisions cannot be made short of the most dire circumstances.