The Talking Dog

May 30, 2012, It's the Kleptocracy, Stupid

Wendy Kaminer raises an interesting question: might Barack Obama's shameless fawning on Wall Street oligarchs (via expansion of the all-important national security state,manifested "on the ground" with the surveillance of, spying on, labeling of as "terrorists", pepper-spraying, etc. upon (mostly) youths who dare to question the social order even to the extent of shaming) not merely be evil and stupid and wrong in every sense of the word-- might it actually be bad politics? In a razor-thin electoral margin situation, Obama's deliberate targeting of members of his own base... just might not be the greatest of ideas in terms of getting Democrats (such as himself) elected or reelected. Not that it matters, of course. Wall Street wins, regardless of whether Kang or Kodos Obama or Romney wins.

Of course, as Albert Hunt observes, what had previously been extreme executive overreaching under George W. OBama has become "the new normal" under Barack H. OBush.

Just as "extraordinary rendition" and bombing civilian targets in push-button wars and, for that matter, the use of Guantanamo as a dumping ground for unwanted furriners were all fully in place in the Clinton Administration, it seems there's an "arc" to the total national security state that only an insane visionary with no chance of being reelected would dare even question. The premises of the national-security/financial-sector alliance that runs our polity (indeed, our entire national narrative) have not been questioned since (alleged pretensions of "hope and change" notwithstanding).

Here's the thing: the Obama Administration continues to hold dozens of men it acknowledges should be released in very expensive detention at Guantanamo Bay, while virtually no one has so much as been investigated (let alone indicted or convicted) for the undeniable criminality that caused the financial meltdown of '08 and the ensuing depression really bad recession we have been "enjoying" since. OK:those two events are absolutely related. The military industrial complex exists as a source to soak up much of the money that Wall Street magically creates (via its private-bank-owned-Federal-Reserve franchise to do so) which goes into "risk free" government debt (rather than say, getting lent to the rubes or their business enterprises)... and the fact that its now being deployed domestically to clamp down on those irritants who even try to shame the oligarchs... is merely a useful bonus. The broader point is, of course, to maintain a stranglehold on "resources" located on and under other people's countries, and of course, to spend as much American taxpayer money as possible in the course of doing so, lather, rinse, recycle, repeat. Everyone (in the 1%) wins.

Alrightie then. Alleged progressives who wish to root root root for the home team are welcome to go back to pretending that it actually matters whether Kang or Kodos Obama or Romney wins. The rest of us can, hopefully, get a better understanding and focus on the point of the system as we now find it: "It's the Kleptocracy, Stupid." [What to do about it? Brother Dmitry has a pretty good idea...]

May 21, 2012, Pretend democracy, meet pretend constitution

I don't know what to make of the Grey Lady's op- ed lamenting an unsuccessful House bill to dial back part of last year's National Defense Authorization Act providing for... wait for it... due process of law (by civilian law enforcement) for Muslims dark-skinned people terrrrrrrrrorism suspects.

The Grey Lady's op-ed rightly lauds a decision from Manhattan federal court Judge Katherine Forrest striking down certain portions of the loathsome NDAA. Good for Judge Forrest. I agree, Still... my problem with the whole tenor of these stories is that, now, ten years after September 11th and the demonstration project known as Guantanamo is that these stories imply a background semblance of "normalcy" of which there's simply no evidence.

The thing with the NDAA is that it changed nothing... it simply "codified" what a series of corrupt court decisions, executive decisions, press collaboration and public complicity in our current status quo of summary executions of citizens, arbitrary detention of "the other," penal servitude and/or supervision of more people than any nation in the history of the world, permanent total war with the entire world, and... you get the picture.

Maybe it's because it's 2012 and we're getting that Apocalypse; maybe it's because my own personal health issues are seemingly unrelenting; maybe it's because my college classmate, the alleged Constitutional law scholar, has done his damnedest to eviscerate any Constitutional protections traditionally thought to be "rights" of his countrymen, presumably in exchange for campaign contributions from the financial sector, which doesn't want its authority questioned (even if its sole hold on power is bribes paid to politicians).

Whatever it is... I'm finding it harder and harder to play along-- play along with the idea that "the election" means anything, or that "the economy" is due for "a recovery," or that anything in our "culture" is worth, well, anything as we seem to have a societal-wide suicide pact working.

Don't know. After a while, one just looks for anything to grab on to, and you realize that what would have made our ancestors happy hundreds of years ago-- family, friends, long-handed-down-stories and cherished avocations ("gardening" comes to mind)-- things, interestingly, that don't involve money, compound interest, technology, energy waste or environmental degradation-- still make us happy. Have to grab onto those, and not pay attention to the "macro," which is... problematic. Oh... and not so... "real"... unlike say, the things that make you happy.

Just saying...

May 5, 2012, Feliz Cinco de Mayo

Alrightie then. First, a huge shout-out to our friend the Unseen Editor, who is under the weather. We know what that's like.

As the Presidential election campaign season gets going (the "outcome" is irrelevant; Big Finance has bought and paid for both major party candidates; new Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson isn't going to be elected, nor is anyone who will not keep the wars going and the financial criminals un-indicted), one supposes things might turn on "the economy."

And so, we'll turn to this supposedly "wonky" (but actually incoherent) piece by Ezra Klein on unemployment, which can't seem to explain exactly why it is "workforce participation" seems to be declining (if it was not declining, headline unemployment would be well over 10%-- closer to the probable 22% or more it really is if we measured it the way we once did), but seems to imply that "baby boomers are retiring early."

Compare and contrast this Grey Lady piece noting just how many new college grads choose voluntary slavery unpaid internships in an effort to get in the door at employers. (The piece notes the jobless rate for recent college grads is 9.4%; keep in mind that obtaining work as a Starbucks barista or Walmart cashier makes you "employed.")

If baby boomers were really retiring in a non-anecdotal way, then there would be openings created at the other end of the pipe, ideally filled by much lower cost new grads. The reality is that the United States has successfully de-industrialized: what is left is a declining workforce, earning declining wages, just as prices of things are going to the moon, and an ever smaller number of "haves"... seem to have everything, as profits (especially to the finance sector) and CEO pay and finance bonuses have never been higher, as its quite possible we've by-passed neo-Victorianism and gone right into neo-feudalism. "Recovery"... yeah, right.

Hey, at least our prison industry is booming. I mean, have we not workhouses and prisons?