The Talking Dog

February 28, 2010, Shakin' badly

The unbelievably severe earthquake centered near Concepcion, Chile has left at least 700 dead, with nearly 2 million displaced and God knows what else when the full extent is ascertained,

As horrible as its ultimate toll is, at the end of the day, the earthquake will prove less destructive in Chile than last month's quake in Haiti. Chile, the site of the most severe earthquake ever recorded, had instituted and actually implemented building codes to deal with earthquakes, and it is a far richer country than Haiti able to make sure of this (at least, far better able than Haiti... or for that matter, China, site of another recent disastrous earthquake).

Indeed, this kind of preparedness is why when California has earthquakes in or near its major cities, though there is invariably damage, we do not see death tolls in the hundreds or thousands any more (though avoiding this in an earthquake of over 8.0 magnitude becomes unfathomable at some point).

Further, it appears that the tsunami warning system has evidently "worked" this time, though the tsunami's impact was, thus far, overstated.

The point, of course, is that one cannot put a price on preparedness; earthquakes are a grim reality -- and a grim certainty-- here on planet Earth. There are other certainties as well, which, anyone without their head up their ass, can see just by looking at melting glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica that global flooding is coming... except it is an article of faith among enough of a plurality of idiots and maniacs in the United States that for that particularly certainty, we're not even allowed to prepare for it, let alone allevitate the forces driving it and making its effects more severe.

For those so inclined and able, consider contributing to the reputable charity of your choice; or you might try contributing to the Red Cross, or UNICEF, or Doctors Without Borders, While bad stuff keeps happening... let's at least try to do what we can.

February 25, 2010, Tough times for the ladies

I have been lamenting of late that an America who derives its "nutrition" from twinkies, its "entertainment" from "reality television" and its state of being from prozac... is not going to be populated with the kind of people able to push-back when the forces of totalitarianism descend upon them. And hence, my never-ending quest to note the outrageous injustices being committed by our government in the name of "security" over and over again here always has a backdrop of a cowed people generally unwilling to do much, or anything, about them. Today, just a few minutes looking on Memeorandum, and we see... other things developing.

Item: Both houses of the legislature of the state of Utah passed a bill that would criminalize having a miscarriage, with penalties for not bringing a fetus to full term and live birth up to life in prison. "Having too many drinks while pregnant," even if it cannot be proven that this even caused miscarriage, or seemingly, "not trying hard enough to keep the baby," are crimes under the bill, which has not yet been signed into law. Why go all the way to Afghanistan to have Taliban-style repression of women... save hours and hours and thousands of dollars not to mention not needing a passport...

Item: In Orlando, FL, the center of America's bread-and-circuses axis, Dawn Brancheau, a female animal trainer, was killed by an all-too-aptly named killer whale. This 30-year old orca named "Tilikum" had apparently been involved in at least two prior human deaths, though this would be the first time that he intentionally grabbed a trainer into the water with him. While hundreds sat in the sun oohing and ahhing, in this case, the audience was promptly removed lest their dosages need to be upgraded. While perhaps some might question the arrogance of confining an intelligent high order natural predator into a swimming pool so he can jump through hoops and make cute noises, particularly given the intrinisic dangers of such a departure from the natural order... naaa, why do I bother?

Item: The former (legacy hire) governor of Florida tells us that the former (self-made) governor of Alaska would be an excellent candidate for President... "if she only had a brain." Specifically, JEB Bush, brother of former President George W. Bush, criticizes Sarah Palin for her lack of "intellectual curiosity."

Item: The current (legacy hire) governor of New York is under investigation for his own and his office's apparent "intervention" in the abuse case of one of his aides. Rank has its privileges?

And finally...

Item: As noted here by Lindsay Beyerstein, there is a story-line out there (in contrast to, you know, the actual facts) that (as we go into today's much vaunted but much pointless "health care summit") that the treatment of abortion in the health-care reform bill will be essential and may even be dispositive of much broader health-care reform... that way, when, as it inevitably will, health-care reform proves a bust... we can blame the ladies again for their insistence on control of their bodies, and their assertion of some "constitutional right" or something.

This has been... "tough times for the ladies."

February 20, 2010, God's in charge here, now

An incredible career of being one of the greatest ass-kissers in the history of the American military-- a guy who graduated in the bottom third of his West Point class who managed to quickly rise from lieutenant colonel to the rank of four star general in barely five years without even remotely being involved in anything resembling combat-- and parlaying that and other roles into the virtual living embodiment of Gilbert and Sullivan's "Ruler of the Queen's Navee"... comes to an end, as former Secretary of State Alexander Haig has passed away at 85.

Like so many others, Haig's most famous moment is actually the result of a bit of some misreporting arising from something he said after then President Ronald Reagan was shot (by a family friend of the then vice-president) in late March, of 1981 (your talking dog was then on his way to spring training in Tennessee with the rest of Columbia's rowing team; Barack wouldn't arrive on campus until the following September). Haig said "I'm in charge UNTIL THE VICE PRESIDENT GETS HERE." What the media wanted to hear was "I'M IN CHARGE (until the vice-president gets HERE) and then simply reported the statement as "I'm in charge here.") Of course, Haig had a reputation as an asshole, and, since he effectively ran the government in the waning days of the Nixon Administration (where Haig ultimately served as Tricky D's White House Chief of Staff)... everyone certainly thought Haig wanted to be The Guy (and Haig didn't disabuse them of it either!) Of course, when he tried to run for the job in his own right... nobody liked him. But hey...

As it was, perhaps in something the Obama Administration can take to heart, the early days didn't go so well for Reagan, and Haig did not even finish out the first half of Reagan's first term as Secretary of State. Since he "left" government, Haig made a fortune peddling his influence, not in a small way on behalf of our friends in Beijing. Hey, why shouldn't he cash in, like so many others have?

Ordinarily, of course, de mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum est is not one of the TD house rules, but, once in a while, I'm going to go easy. Former Reagan era officials sometimes catch breaks from me this way... largely because the Reagan Administration included Don "Good Government" Regan, and perhaps because my own career began in Ed Meese's Justice Department in that era. Although I've come to despise Reagan's policies, at the time, at least, the guy was so affable and goofy that I find it difficult not to think fondly of him on a personal level (although I never voted for him... and never would.) Anyway... I'll cut the late Secretary Haig some slack. And let's face it (and people on the Upper West Side of Manhattan can put their fingers in their ears and repeat "nya nya nya")... but compared to either the Bush II or the torture-excusing Obama Administration, the Reagan Administration was "the good old days."

R.I.P., Mr. Haig.

February 17, 2010, An extremely inconvenient truth

Just as Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" is pretty much the only reliable news source on American broadcast television, so it seems, it only has one reliable counterpart in the American print media, and "America's Finest News Source" tells it like it is again, with this article, in which Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke finally lets us in on the dirty little secret of our culture: money is just a product of collective psychosis-- an illusion.

The fact is, gold bugs... try eating your gold when you get really hungry. It's not just money (and precious metals) we're deluded about-- much of our petroleum based existence is equally the product of delusion (or at least, continued belief in its permanence is, anyway)-- from the genetically modified processed foods you eat, to the fuel used to speed in your SUV (and heat your McMansion), to the electricity you are using to read these words, to the synthetic fibers your clothes and your Ikea furniture is made of... you're going to have to live without all of it when, inevitably, oil becomes unobtainable (at least, in exchange for the illusion of American currency). And, without oil, even the threat of military action, currently the basis for how we get oil on credit now, will cease to be a credible threat.

And, while the macro- will, alas, take care of itself, so, it seems, will the micro-: These events are reported from that esteemed institution around a block from TD's workplace:

At the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday morning's opening bell echoed across a silent floor as the few traders who arrived for work out of habit looked up blankly at the meaningless scrolling numbers on the flashing screens above. "I've spent 25 years in this room yelling 'Buy, buy! Sell, sell!' and for what?" longtime trader Michael Palermo said.

"All I've done is move arbitrary designations of wealth from one column to another, wasting my life chasing this unattainable hallucination of wealth."

"What a cruel cosmic joke," he added. "I'm going home to hug my daughter."

The Emperor really has no clothes: we have sold ourselves into slavery for an illusion. Grow some vegetables, folks. Hug your kids. Knit a sweater. Read a book. Take a walk. Smell the flowers, feel the breeze in your hair... smile. No one can take those things away from you. Unless you want them to... because you buy into the illusion. This has been... "An extremely inconvenient truth."

February 16, 2010, Academic Rising Starr

Former federal judge, solicitor general, law school dean and Clinton partisan hack tormentor "indepedent counsel" Kenneth Starr will assume the presidency of Baylor University, a Baptist university based in Waco, Texas. My immediate reaction was "how wonderfully convenient to the George W. Bush Presidential Library"... but a moment's thought and I realized that's Baylor's athletic rival, SMU, over in Fort Worth.

Starr had been dean at Pepperdine Univ.'s law school in Malibu, CA; to give up that there must be some bucks involved... but I have no doubt that the money's good. For the Ken Starrs of the world... the money's always good.

Compared to his successor generation of Republican legal whores hired guns partisan hacks government lawyers, who managed to "legally" justify the legal basis for torture and mass murder, Starr's prudish prurience seems "quaint," and I confess that at the time, years of Bill Clinton's arrogance-- incessantly taking credit for having inherited the presidency at the fortunate confluence of (1) not being George H.W. Bush, (2) the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union, and most importantly, (3) the flood of Japanese money into our economy that created the internet bubble and made economic numbers look really good, all while NOT (1) raising the minimum wage, (2) holding Democratic Congressional majorities, (3) passing health care reform or (4) advancing progressive policies or goals any more than either George H.W. Bush or Bob Dole would have-- made me not unsympathetic to what Starr was doing (and let's face it: had Al Gore become President that way, he would have been reelected, and "things would be different.") I guess I just had less of a problem with Starr's undermining of the republic then... than I do now. That's what nine years of the worst leadership this country has ever seen (and I include the last year in that) will do.

Since I've decided that being honest is better than being consistent, I will say that, much as I despised the fact that "Clinton's party" of a boom economy benefited the select, fortunate few while most remained mired where they were (in stark contrast to, of all things, the Reagan economy, where all boats rose, not just the yachts)... Clinton, at least, with all his DLC bullsh*t, had some brass. I never quite knew what exactly he stood for, but at least he had the good fortune (again!) of having in Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott and all... something to stand against. No "let's reach across the aisle and improve the tone of Washington" garbage for his undying credit, he had no problem standing for partisan warfare, even if, alas, much did not get done.

Anyway, as so many Dems (like Evan "why have an actual Republican when you can have me?" Bayh) do what's good for themselves (what else is new) and head for the exits, and, like Bill Clinton before him, Barack Obama stands at the cusp of having blown big Congressional majorities (though in Obama's case, for no good reason whatseover), it's not a bad time to look back at Kenneth Starr (interesting, the same age as Bill Clinton) and just say... "best of luck at Baylor, Ken." Somehow, Ken, like the Big Dog himself, you always seem to land on your feet... as for the rest of us...

February 14, 2010, Valentine's Hearts (and Minds)

Obviously, innocent people suffer and die in war (by the hundreds, thousands or millions... as Stalin said, one death is a tragedy and a million is a statistic and all...) In that sense, an "errant missile," which has killed at least ten INNOCENT AFGHAN CIVILIANS, and let's not even mitigate or that or sugarcoat for one second... that our military has INADVERTENTLY MASSACRED AT LEAST TEN PEOPLE who were no threat to it, or our nation, or anyone else... in the course of an offensive during which, PERHAPS, SOME TALIBAN MIGHT be picked off too... just shouldn't be that big a deal. Although, let's face it: a St. Valentine's Day Massacre was precisely what our military did not need right about now.

I'm not making a "legal" judgment here: the person or persons who pushed the button are covered by "belligerent immunity"... even if our government won't extend the privilege to others entitled to it, to the eventual disastrous consequences of our fighting personnel. It's a simple fact: innocent people, as has probably happened almost every day since 9-11 (if not since World War II) have, whether intentionally or accidentally, died at the hands of the United States military. Yes, I know... in the great scheme of things... just another statistic (five of the victims being children... notwithstanding). I know, I know.

You see, boys and girls, I've kind of come full circle on the Afghan campaign. I used to think that defeating the Taliban justified everything we did in and to Afghanistan, in light of my own emotional twists and turns associated with 9-11 (which unlike many or most of you, are come by in my case from having been there and all)... but as Izzy Stone would say... you can be honest or you can be consistent... and I'd rather be honest. Ergo, having had the current President f*ck me (and everyone else who supported him) on that whole "justice and human rights" thing, my college classmate, for whom I campaigned, to whom I gave campaign contributions, whom I supported on the blog and for whom I worked the polls on election day... has finally convinced me that he is every bit as feckless as his predecessor... and hence, President Obama's decision to escalate the Afghan campaign, like any and every other exercise of American imperial aggression... is just wrong. Just wrong. I'm finally sold. The decision to escalate the Afghanistan campaign... like other "Bush's third term" decisions... is just wrong, too.

There. I said it. The only conceievable benefit to our military adventure in Afghanistan (other than its actual purpose of enriching Eric (Erik?) Prince ("Mr. Blackwater") and his military-industrial-complex brethren) was to at least stabilize Afghanistan and protect it from the Taliban. But it seems, we are incapable of even taking the trouble to make sure we actually target "the bad guys." And when that happens-- the "hearts and minds" we desperately need to support our military efforts... will probably not be particularly forgiving of our "efforts." Which will make those efforts harder. Which will require yet more brutality. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Sorry. I don't think that's a good idea any longer.

Meanwhile, even in "great game" terms... the Chinese will be busy locking up the world's best oil contracts, and not pissing anyone off (like we are, out of some misguided messianistic belief in our own greatness... and of course, because Mr. Prince... and Mr. Lockheed and Mr. Halliburton... pay well at that window behind that revolving door). Indeed, the Chinese model of "force projection"... their seeming inability to project force beyond perhaps 100 meters of the borders of China... is one we should seriously be thinking about at a time when our own imperial aggression represents around 7 or 8 % of our (declared) GDP, and an ever growing fifth of our entire federal budget and also happens to represent its entire deficit.

In short... this is a good a time as any for me to say that theft, force and aggression are every bit as immoral and illegal when exercised on a macro-scale as when exercised on a micro-scale, and "American exceptionalism"... doesn't excuse us.

The "support our troops" canard has been used to bamboozle us long enough. Enough. We no longer have a draft; our all volunteer military has troops who have chosen their task; I'm sorry to see that they're ill-used, they're inadequately paid, and they're inadequately supported (particularly by our government, after they have returned from their service). But they are. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, we must ask the question: is it really "our defense" they are fighting for, or all these years later, is it STILL United Fruit that they are fighting for? It would seem that neither Mexico nor Canada is interested in attacking us, and the threat posed by the rest of "our enemies" is conveniently overstated by one or more orders of magnitude. We would be every bit as safe-- no screw that-- FAR. SAFER-- were we to demobilize to nothing more than a defensive force comparable to, say, Canada's. FAR SAFER. I'm not going to question the sincerity of the individual men and women who have signed on to our military... they are doing their jobs, as are so many of the rest of us. But are their jobs helping? Were our military much much smaller... in which case we wouldn't be around the world manufacturing enemies in over 100 countries in which our military is deployed, the way we are now... wouldn't we be safer? Wouldn't we?

TD... TD... This is just crazy talk. When the hell did you get to be a full-blown crazy-ass PACIFIST?

Maybe it happened recently... maybe it happened a while ago. Don't know. All I know is that's the only "honest" response to the insanity of the world... the what was that word... INJUSTICE of it. That's always been the subtext of this blog... so I may as well be more explicit about it. It is now OUR DUTY to be every bit as appalled when innocent people are killed by "our side" as when killed by "their side." We do not have a monopoly on suffering... and to think so is, itself, wrong. It's not much... but it's all I got. Maybe at some point our countrymen will wake up and realize the futility of having picked up the mantle of imperial aggression from the very imperial power that we shucked off in the 1770's and 1780's, with the first battle of our then nascent republic fought literally in and around my own Brooklyn neighborhood. Speaking the same language (and having our leaders descended from the same aggressive forbears) as the imperialists we have taken over for... is no longer good enough.

As I'm nearly through Dickens' Little Dorrit, let me just say that that 1850's tale of unbridled rapacious greed, swindlers and debtors' prisons and rentiers... and people struggling to maintain character and goodness in the middle of it all... is as current a work as exists. It seems... nothing ever changes. The empire of Dickens' era... gave way eventually. But in the 1850's, it had quite a bit longer to go than we do now, IMHO. Our country, which can no longer tell us why torture is even "illegal" let alone "wrong":.. is gone, probably irremediably so, as I've said in recent posts. The question is whether its occupants can, at least, save themselves.

We can start with our souls. And on that... we can start with the premise that the killing of innocents is wrong, no matter who does it, and we can be appalled accordingly. Again... it's not much... but it's all I got.

February 13, 2010, Go figure

A nation that has already gone ahead and sacrificed its soul out of a chicken-shit fear that men it has (not always, but almost always wrongfully, btw) held without charge or trial for over eight years and counting "might some day somehow do something bad"... apparently isn't very good at judging bad things done by actual bad people here... certainly when said people are white, well-educated and well-connected...

Surprise, surprise, that Dr. Amy Bishop, the (accused) homicidal maniac who massacred the committee that denied her tenure at the University of Alabama Huntsville killing three and wounding three others, had previously.. wait for it... "accidentally" killed her own brother with a shotgun... after an argument... in 1986. Evidently, the police officer in the field believed that the earlier killing was a homicide, but there is much confusion over the probable fact that the chief of police (and/or others better connected than the mere investigating officer) intervened to back the mother's story of "an accident" notwithstanding much evidence to the contrary.

I think the whole point here is that people just have to be considered innocent until proven guilty-- even when the crimes involved are heinous. I have no idea what happened in Braintree, Mass. in 1986, or how or why Seth Bishop was killed then. Maybe it really was a freak accident. And maybe Dr. Bishop will be able to demonstrate some kind of a legal defense to the accusation that she shot up a faculty meeting... of course, the fact that she brought a gun to a situation where she might emotionally react if it did not go her way is enough to be highly suspicious to me... but even she will get a fair trial.

Funny... to me, any one who murders multiple people in a public place, such as a college office, is a terrorist. But then, there was no accusation that Dr. Bishop was some kind of anarchist communist Muslim, now is there?

As always... heinous acts that result in the deaths of multiple innocent people, when committed by White Americans, will likely be considered the legitimate exercise of Second Amendment rights; even if crimes, constitutional protections associated with investigation, charge and trial will somehow apply. The very same acts, when committed by any one except White Americans, will be considered acts of terrorism, for which we simply cannot afford due process of law, the Constitution isn't a suicide pact and... well... YOU KNOW.

Go figure.

February 12, 2010, Full retreat

One wishes simply that I could say something about the Obama Administration other than "I'm disappointed, but not surprised." And thus, the apparent decision to scrap civilian federal court trials of 9-11 plot suspects in New York, and quite possibly, relegate the trials of Ron Jeremy Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and four others to military commissions altogether. The apparent political subtext seems to involve hanging Attorney General Eric Holder out to dry, by blaming him for the White House's decision to use the federal courts for its show trials in the first place, and of course, to propose the show trials for downtown Manhattan without doing any political advance-work or gravy-spreading. It would seem that the political cost of keeping campaign promises and upholding any principles at all is just too high for this President. Disappointed... but not surprised.

Some of this, of course, comes in light of some rather pathetic "local opposition" from, among others, our Lord Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the frequenty party-switching billionaire a**hole who merrily welcomed the ultimate security nightmare-- the 2004 Republican National Convention-- to New York City, back when it suited his then party affiliation. Naturally, some are objecting to civilian trials of five alleged September 11th plotters and terrorists based upon a fanciful and over the top security plan estimated at $200 million. WTF?

The thought that our public officials seem to seriously believe that OBL will actually launch a rescue mission, like out of some awful action movie, just makes me question their fitness for office. The City has been in a state of security madness going on over eight years; let me, the guy who regularly goes to work halfway between the New York Stock Exchange and the former World Trade Center site, assure everyone out there that we can deal with the increased inconvenience of trying five alleged miscreants. Really we can. Grow a pair, New York, and grow a pair, America. OK, I can dream.

Once again, many (such as myself) were fooled, or at least, lulled by, the rather forceful pronouncements of the purported constitutional law scholar candidate who told us he would restore our nation's commitment to the rule of law. As I said, Barack...fool me once, man, fool me once... The fact is, it just wasn't possible with any intellectual integrity whatsoever to justify railing and campaigning against the arbitrariness of military commissions as opposed to civilian trials, and then to propose simultaneous dual-standard of justice of civilian trials for the "slam-dunks" and military commissions for the more "troublesome" cases. By going full retreat on every principle it purported to campaign on... the Obama Administration won't have to justify this untenable situation any longer.

Of course, troubling as reversion to the military commissions is, there's at least still some hope out there that the cancer operating on our legal system that the so-called war on terror has been thus far can be contained to just the unfortunate bastards at Guantanamo and America's other offshore gulags. It seems no one quite understands the danger of such a cancer operating within our borders serving to quite easily pave the way to full autocracy in no time flat. And in this light, we must consider, with appropriate alarm, the multiple tears in our constitutional fabric, of late... ranging from proposals for "indefinite detention" in a facility in Illiinois, to the rather bizarre claims (raised by among others supposedly "moderate" Republican senators) that "the Constitution only applies to [White, Christian, native-born] American citizens," and hence, the Christmas under-pants bomber should be denied all Constitutional rights and sent to the gulag for appropriate torture and lawyer-free interrogation. And we can rest well knowing that the best "justification" for actually complying with the United States Constitution by the actually-defensive-about-it Obama Administration is "well, Bush tried people in the courts too."

Pathetic. I'll leave the last word to that soft-on-terror pinko, the late Barry Goldwater who said ""Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

February 10, 2010, Reality (bites) check

Well, I had an entire post planned telling us how Professor Krugman, in pretending there was still hope "if only" the asinine little structural problem called "the United States Senate" could be unclogged from its deliberate indifference to actually accomplishing anything, in a post he titled "America is not yet lost," was deluding himself.

While it is perhaps pessimistic, I am actually heartened that he (finally) recognizes that, in fact, America is lost, in his case, with the recognition that the President is utterly "clueless"... it, as always, pains me to acknowledge that my Columbia '83 college classmate (in the very same international politics concentration of the very same political science department, no less) is... entirely out of his depth... but we would be deluding ourselves to think otherwise. To have the Nobel Prize winning economist validating my view of the world is, though troubling, somehow reassuring. After noting an interview with Bloomberg news in which the President likened the significance of the performance and excessive pay of bailed-out financial executives with that of major league baseball players, the Professor comments:

The point is that these bank executives are not free agents who are earning big bucks in fair competition; they run companies that are essentially wards of the state. There’s good reason to feel outraged at the growing appearance that we’re running a system of lemon socialism, in which losses are public but gains are private. And at the very least, you would think that Obama would understand the importance of acknowledging public anger over what’s happening.

But no. If the Bloomberg story is to be believed, Obama thinks his key to electoral success is to trumpet “the influence corporate leaders have had on his economic policies.”

We’re doomed.

Honestly, there is so much sad, raw truth packed into just that little quote (and in the entire Krugman post)... that I'll just let it simmer in your minds, while it depresses the bleep out of you. I'd be lying if I didn't say I was as depressed as I am reassured by it.

Hopefully, by presenting you with all of these rather depressing facts (and I admit that they depress me too) I can disabuse you that "our betters" are capable of solving our problems... at all. And not merely, our "government" betters, but our corporate betters, or our media or cultural betters, or our religious betters... any of our betters, upon whom we might seek anything. Because folks... we're on our own. "If it's going to be it's up to me" is no longer a platitude: belief in that statement is going to be the difference between those of us who survive, and those who do not. In short, the only difference between where we are now and aboriginal peoples is (1) it is at least possible that lesser development and hence spoliation has been inflicted on the aboriginal people's environment, and (2) the aboriginal mindset has, hopefully, not been nearly as crippled as ours into the dependence on "our betters" for technology, "security," money, meaning... self-reliance as a mindset is going to be an important life-skill. But a key element of this is probably antithetical to the purpose of blogging-- certainly to a great deal of what I have been doing now in this space for the last 8 1/2 years. Don't get me wrong: I'll still comment on injustice and the like, and try to bring you interviews and perspectives and all... and it may even appear I'm talking in "right" or "left" terms... but while "injustice" has a real, quite undeniable meaning with terrifying human consequences... "liberal" or "conservative"... not so much. In some sense, Barack got me good, into actually believing in the hype, or at least, hoping I believed it. OK, man... fool me once, and all that.

As the late great I.F. Stone said, "you can be consistent... or you can be honest." Like Izzy Stone, I'd rather be honest. I was wrong about Barack: he's part of the same system that's the problem, and ergo, he's part of the problem. A big part. And any of the other idiots in the political class are part of the problem too. As to the government, It cannot provide any "solutions," because it is now entirely captured by those who care not a jot for what happens as late as next quarter, including whether or not they destroy all life on this planet, as long as doing so appears profitable. And while capitalism itself could once provide some good (for a price, mind you) that was once when there was a sense of self-correction and limits caused by, if nothing else, the threat of angry mob,s that kept the excesses of capitalism from reaching the insane degrees they have now... those limits have been destroyed by my baby-boom generation and its belief in Ayn Rand selfishness as if it were saintly virtue (instead of the badly written children's literature that it is). A generation of pampered children who never grew up have turned the human race into those ferile Hawaiian cats, who, without any moral compunction (because they're cats) managed to decimate unique native species with the same gusto we are despoiling our entire planet and everyone on it. And we can't forget the masses themselves, who remain content to take whatever they are served, enabling their betters to exploit them in whatever way they are needed.

Anyway... "right" and "left"... don't mean so much anymore's what I'm trying to say. Let everyone else delude themselves into thinking that these little peeing contests between the hard right Democrats and the very hard right Republicans actually matter: Barack has freed us from this delusion, by showing us the utter irrelevance of it all. 51 votes... 59 votes... 92 votes... who cares? You and I know better.

We know that, as Jean-Jacques Rousseau told us so long ago, man is born free, but is everywhere in chains. We have the freedom-- if nowhere else, within our crania-- to see reality as it is, and not as it is (self-interestedly) presented to us by our betters. We have the power not to feel oppressed-- by politics, by sex, by money, by social position, by whatever else it is that we believe is oppressing us... because it's only in our heads, and if we chose to be free men and free women... we will be.

If it's going to be it's up to me.

February 7, 2010, See Sarah Run

Sarah Palin, proudly addressing her peeps (Southern White men) at the "tea party convention" suggests she would certainly consider running for President in 2012. The obvious question becomes just how much the Obama people would be paying her to do so, as she already bears her share of responsibility for the fact that he's the President now, and let's face it: Tina Fey isn't going anywhere.

That said, of course, note that as far as media accounts go, and this, of course, includes "even the liberal New York Times," the only relevant places on the political spectrum are "right-wing" and "even more right-wing." Hence, all of the discontent to the Obama Administration is borne by those who have never, and will never, support anything it does (up to and including eliminating all taxation, formally instituting martial law, formally declaring war on everyone else on Earth, eliminating any and all environmental, worker safety or any other kind of regulation that impinges on big business, etc., etc.)... simply because the President is a Black man.

The discontent from people who actually supported this President (and his party) who are utterly appalled at his utter and total reneging on civil liberties, torture and accountability for same, not to mention the expansion of the two major wars now raging... and the President's ineptitude in not getting a stimulus through unless it included tax cuts for the rich, and the seeming total inability to get even modest health care reform through huge majorities in both houses of Congress... isn't reported upon, and let's face it, therefore... does not exist.

No... only the discontent of affluent Southern White males is relevant. And they resent the fact that a Black man is President, even one whose policies are much more in line with (his, and presumably their, political idol) Ronald Reagan and George W, Bush (except, perhaps on matters of torture, indefinite detention and "liquidation of enemies of the state" where the Obama policies are actually well to their right) than they are with, say, LBJ or FDR... but, nonetheless, we still get to hear that Obama is a "socialist," because, of course, few Americans know, or even care, what that word actually means... and the discontent of the ignorant and the bigoted... is, we are told, the only discontent out there.

Brother Dmitri keeps things in perspective, and rightly points out that too much belief in our government to do anything other than cause problems is itself problematic thinking:

You see, from my point of view, only a fool would want to go a-nudging the Central Committee of the Politburo toward adopting better policies. Here, perhaps once there was hope; and now it's gone. Unfortunately, many people continue to believe in the miraculous properties of national politics and policy.

To coin a phrase... indeed. The really fascinating thing is that, in contemplating what difference "President Palin" vs. "President Obama" or "President Cheney" or "President Homer Simpson"... I'm damned if I can think of any difference. Our Government is trying to tell us something with its total dysfunction; the only real issue is how many of us are prepared to listen to it... and how many will continue to delude ourselves into thinking that the current race to disaster will lead to anything but.

February 4, 2010, I'm not QUITE dead...

For those wondering, "Hey TD... why the radio silence?" The short answer is that my lengthy run of luck that unsupported Movable Type 2.64 would remain viable for the rest of my time on God's green Earth (or at least God's green Blogosphere) came to an end, with an "upgrade" to the servers on my (now former) host company. Thanks to the magic of my friends at Blog Consulting, we're back on Movable Type Pro... which, hopefully, will now keep up with our new and improved server.

Obviously, for those who missed my commentary on the state of the union, the loss of the Kennedy family Senate seat, or the sudden loss of nerve associated with trying Ron Jeremy Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a civilian trial in Manhattan, or of course, Rahm Emmanuel's use of "R-word," thereby hopelessly disturbing the sensibilities of the Kennedy Shriver family owners of the "Special Olympics" ... as I write this a few days after Groundhog Day... let me just say... I got nothin'.

I'll just refer you over to "Who is IOZ?" for this rather intelligent commentary on the intelligent observation of others that the United States's adoption of a "summary liquidation of enemies of the state" doctrine... is "radical" only in our mindset of the idea of America... in the actual history of the extraordinarily tainted actual America... it's just less of a big deal than all that. Maybe that's the perspective we need: what's old is new again... the old problems weren't so radically different from the new ones... none of us peons really had too much to say about the big picture, and it's really just about how to best live our lives on our own terms... perhaps we can individually try to make this a better world, but understand that it's always an uphill battle, and the owners of the planet, with names like Goldman and Sacks, Kennedy and Shriver, and so forth... well, they own the place... we just live here.

So... while we can be rightly offended at the humongous disappointment that my college classmate the President has been thus far... what the hell did we expect? He's never had a real job before, for God's sake (and I'll keep saying it: senator IS NOT A REAL JOB.) And hence, he has failed to realize that paying the price for principles-- if he has any, which remains highly dubious-- is necessary for long-term viability. The fact is-- selling out on civil liberties, GTMO, torture, state secrets, etc., allows the public to RIGHTLY regard him as a worthless pushover-- which is the REAL reason he and the worthless pushovers in his worthless political party, despite current large majorities, may well lose those large majorities in the very next election. Fortunately, we have some precedent: the President's stated favorite politican (that would be Ronald Reagan) had a bad first year or two, but turned it around by standing for things he believed in (I happen not to believe in them, but that's another matter). But the people admired his cojones. If the current President wants to stand for something-- and he can stand for, oh, the rule of law or something... then popularity and public support to do other less important things, such as health care reform, will follow. If not... it's going to be a long three years... and it's only going to be three more years. (Although, the President's first year has told us in terms heretofore thought unimaginable that the identity of the occupant of the Oval Office is not quite as important as we thought anyway; somehow, the interests of the powerful at the expense of the less powerful continues unabated regardless.)