Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Look on the Bright Side

In the overall scheme of things, the Wall Street crunch will in the long run pale in comparison to all the other disasters Congress, the President and elite American glitterati are ignoring.

News organizations, Congress, "experts" everywhere are fretting about the stock and financial markets, screaming blue murder over how we will all be affected (conveniently omitting the fact that fully half of all Americans still own no stock of any kind in any way, even once we take into account 401k plans).

But let's not forget the bigger picture:
  • Credit card debt: nothing in the "bailout" to help Americans with crushing credit card debts and outrageous interest rates. (See PBS/Frontline interview with Elizabeth Warren.)
  • Healthcare: nothing in the "bailout" to address soaring medical costs and the crushing inability of Americans to pay them. (PBS | Washington Post | HHS)
  • Pensions: Corporations are doing their best to escape existing pension obligations. Major plans have been suffering financially. (Wikipedia | About.com | The Nation)
  • Peak oil: the media love to mock concerns over the finite oil supplies of the Earth, but it seems likely that Saudi Arabia has passed its peaked and thus, in all probability, the world. (Energy Bulletin | The Nation)
  • Dying oceans: Coral reefs are dying in many parts of the world. In other areas, severe oxygen depletion is making sea life unsustainable. Most commercial fish populations are in danger of collapse. (Reuters 1 | Reuters 2 | Science | New York Times)
  • Mass extinction: Rainforests are the focal points of the mass annihilation of land life on the Earth, but it's happening everywhere, including the US. (E.O. Wilson | American Museum of Natural History)
  • Global warming: The one thing most people are now aware of. The nasty little tidbit — to date, each estimate of global temperature rises has proved to be too conservative. (Wikipedia | New York Times)
  • Geopolitical instability (War): Thanks largely to the United States (meaning, the Bush regime, its pet Congress and passive news organizations), war runs rampant from Israel through to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Russia is flexing its muscles. Venezuela is building up. The Sudan and other regions of Africa are a mess.
The list goes on.

(See also the This American Life/NPR collaboration: "The Giant Pool of Money".)

As the World Turns

Whoops . . . turns out there is a whole world out there which is indeed unaffected by the money masturbaters on Wall Street. Reuters has a story on "dead zones" in the worlds oceans. Dead zones are areas severely starved of oxygen, making life impossible for many aquatic organisms.

Reuters also has an account of the decline of the world's coral reefs. Coral reefs have been called the oceans' rainforests.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Idiots Lose Their Fudge

There is a great deal more here than meets the eye. But for the moment let us savor the shock of an elite in business and government who cannot fathom that we the people are not quite the sheep they take us to be.

US Radar and Troops Deployed to Israel

Defense News and al-Jazeera (largely picking up the News story) are reporting that the US has deployed an "x-band" radar to Israel along with 120 US troops to operate and maintain it. This would the the third deployment of this kind, following one to northern Japan and the more notorious case of the Czech Republic (which is receiving a more powerful system).

The Israel deployment clearly targets Iran. Japan might aim at China though northern Japan puts the array much closer to Russia. The Czech Repubic targets Russia and the Middle East, despite protestations of the US to the contrary.

So again, we see an old Cold War mentality -- encircle Russia. And we see the new obsession -- Iran.

X-band radar
uses the high-frequency, short-wavelength microwave region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Because it is of much higher frequency, it can be used to resolve much smaller objects with greater detail.

Check The New York Times, CNN and others to see whether they carry this. Prediction: They won't.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Whispers of Heavenly Death, Whitman




WHISPERS of heavenly death, murmur'd I hear;
Labial gossip of night—sibilant chorals;
Footsteps gently ascending—mystical breezes, wafted soft and low;
Ripples of unseen rivers—tides of current, flowing, forever flowing;
(Or is it the plashing of tears? the measureless waters of human tears?)

I see, just see, skyward, great cloud-masses;
Mournfully, slowly they roll, silently swelling and mixing;
With, at times, a half-dimm'd, sadden'd, far-off star,
Appearing and disappearing.

Some parturition, rather— some solemn, immortal birth:
On the frontiers, to eyes impenetrable,
Some Soul is passing over.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Massholes Seek Repeal of Income Tax

The New York Times has a story on a Massachusetts ballot initiative to entirely repeal the state's income tax (all 5.3% of it -- a flat tax). Massachusetts ranks 23rd among the 50 states in its "combined local and state tax burden".

Across the pond, Bush Poodle (that is, Britain's leading war criminal, the former PM Tony Blair) proposed drastic reductions in British taxes a few years ago. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the ideas and scoffed at the blunderhead Blair. The British, unlike many Americans, understood that taxes actually serve a purpose. It would be a laugh to see Massholes pass this and then see them scream bloody murder when their pet services are cut.

Thirty years of neo-con Republicans and Democratic Leadership Council Democrats have left us with a citizenry that seem genuinely to believe that "less government is better government" is invariably true.

Bailout Bullsh*t

Thursday, September 25, 2008

John McCon Conquers the Republicons!

Does that McCon 'promise' to 'suspend' the campaign already sound terribly old. Here is the little tin dictator meeting the little tin conman for a nice little not-a-campaign photo-op.

The Nation has more on the latest Republicon con.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Senator McCon Chickens Out

Senator McCain claims he has the best interests of the nation at heart by putting his campaign "on hold" to attend to the resolution to the financial crisis. What a crock. McCain's chicken-out is another cynical campaign gimic. He's afraid. He's worried his meds won't be sufficient to contain his temper in debate. And he's worried that he'll take a pastin' at the hands of a significantly better debater.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Jobs in New York City

  • New York City private sector jobs = 3.2 million
  • total city population = 7.9 million

  • New York City private sector jobs = 3.1 million
  • total city population = 8.3 million
Over roughly forty years, the city has gained four hundred thousand residents and lost one hundred thousand jobs.

And now the widely-admitted 'engine of New York's economy' is collapsing. Any guesses how the trend will go?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

But the Titanic is Unsinkable!

What analogy best fits the current economic disaster and boondoggle?

Rome is good. The Visigoths sacked Rome almost 1600 years ago — AD 410. What did the Romans think as they witnessed the conquering hoards approaching? I imagine sheer disbelief. Incredulity. "But this is Rome. Rome! The greatest city of the greatest empire in the world!" And Rome fell.

Better, I think, is the Titanic, particularly for how the least fortunate were treated. In the middle of frigid, iceberg-thick waters, the Titanic steamed ahead full-speed. Even as the ship began to sink, people insisted, "But the Titanic is unsinkable!" Then, as the first class and some second class passengers boarded lifeboats, the poor — the steerage passengers — were physically barred from the boats.

We the People are the steerage. Ignored. Even disdained by the likes of Alan Greenspan, George W. Bush, John McCain.

The Republicans Are Coming! The Republicans Are Coming!

Faster than greased lightning, the Bush administration (lead by Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson -- when did Bush ever lead?) has come up with a $700 billion bailout package for Wall Street (and that is a very conservative estimate on the net cost; real cost is probably closer to two trillion or more).

What should strike any observer (and we the people have definitely been sidelined) are the contrasts.

1. Rapid reaction to the Wall Street collapse, despite Bush's insistence that ours be a responsible "ownership society".

2. Public funding to bailout private institutions.

Contrast that with the response to Hurricane Katrina -- thousands still living in trailers, a city still struggling.

Or take Social Security. Republicans (and a dismayingly large number of Democrats) have insisted that (A) Social Security faces failure and (B) the only solution is privatization of social security.

So in the case of Social Security:

1. Continuing government inaction, despite years of claims that there is a problem, and

2. Proposed private solution for a public institution. Bush and, most notably in this time before the election, John McCain have both argued that privatization of Social Security is the only solution. That is, placement of the management of our retirement in the hands of Lehman, Bear Stearns, AIG, Citigroup, etc.

The sheer hypocrisy of the privatization zealots will be seen when the continue to call for turning over Social Security to Wall Street.

There is another crisis to which the Bush administration did respond remarkably quickly -- they 9/11 attacks. Within days the Bush administration was calling for war on Iraq. We know how right they were about that — Weapons of Mass Destruction, Saddam Hussein tied to the attacks.... Sarah Palin, candidate for the vice presidency, claims — seven years down the road — that Saddam Hussein was tied to the attacks.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Take from the People, Give to the Rich

Economist Michael Hudson has an essay on Counterpunch.org railing against the massive theft of regular Americans' wealth to serve those he calls the "banksters" (after FDR).

Late last night or early today, the Bush admin et al. revealed that the ballpark figure for the bailout will be $700 BILLION. Add to that the $300 BILLION for Fannie and Freddie and $85 BILLION for AIG, we're up to almost $1.2 TRILLION. Now add $1 TRILLION for the Iraq/Afghanistan/Iran wars. And bear in mind that NONE of these is actually resolved yet. And consider that the US pension system is also in grave trouble. Now imagine a bankrupt United States. (Or one where the Fed just prints and prints and prints money -- driving down the dollar, driving down the dollar value of debt, and driving inflation through the roof.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Take a Pill

I'm Hugh Sansom and I Approved This Message

By the cash register at the Park Slope toy Mecca were three books with very similar subtitles: "An American Story", "An American Life", "An American Journey". Three books -- Barack Obama, John McCain, Hillary Clinton.

Didn't get Hillary's, but Obama and McCain are trip. Charles Bernstein or Ron Silliman would go to town on these. I'll try to soon. One initial note: Images in McCain are exclusively photographic. Obama has 60s/70s style illustrations in addition to photos. McCain's images are almosts entirely images picking up on his "war hero" mythology.

What a crock. Mythology. Storytelling of the Zth order. Still there's something telling about the style, the titling. "Barack Obama: An American Story". "John McCain: An American Life".

Would make much sense to say "Barack Obama: An American Life" — he's still in the midst of his. Not so McCain. No images suggesting a McCain childhood. Barely anything suggesting he has had a live outside the military.

Above, American history courtesy of "John McCain: An American Life". A book aimed at eight or nine-year olds offers much the same explanation, albeit in simpler language, that is offered to high school students. I suspect that, with appropriate window dressing, most college students would accept this line, too.

Change "communism" for "Islam" or that revolting expression "Islamo-fascism" and you have the line today offered by John McCain, Bernard-Henri Levy, and broad spectrum of 21st Century bigots.

On a personal front, McCain meets Nixon.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Now the Lies Hit the Fan

Tonight, after a day of mayhem among the Little Tin Gods of Wall Street, everyone is busy telling us that We the People have nothing to worry about. Our modest bank accounts are federally insured, etc. etc.

Lighten up, folks. We have three decades of government and corporate mismanagement to tell us just how much the federal government cares about us -- ZIP. NADA. When Long Term Capital Management failed and billionaires and Nobel Laureates were at risk, Alan Greenspan jumped right in to save billionaire butt. Likewise Bear Stearns a few months ago. Bill Clinton was just as happy to deregulate as Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush. And sadly, Barack Obama's financial advisors are solidly in the Clinton-Democratic camp.

Now, the High Priests like Ben Bernanke have figured out that not even the billionaires can all be bailed out. Only The Idiots -- George W. Bush, John McCain, and company -- repeat the nonsense -- "the fundamentals are strong". Those who know (whether they really care or not) are indeed comparing this time to 1929. Obama and Greenspan have both done so in the past few days.

The fundamentals are not strong.
  • Americans are in debt up to their ears.
  • Housing is tanking.
  • There is precious little manufacturing in the US today.
  • The dollar is weak.
  • Education is getting poorer and more expensive.
  • Health care is getting poorer and too expensive to afford at all.
  • Official unemployment is up, real unemployment is still higher.
  • Retirement accounts are going bust.
Just what fundamentals do The Idiots have in mind?

And through it all, We the People will be ignored. Believe it. Three decades -- health care, education, manufacturing, retirement, housing -- all under constant attack from conservatives and moderates too self-absorbed to care about the middle class and poor.

A great case in point -- Charles Rangel, once a champion of the less fortunate or just plain average. Today, that fat old slob is defending a tenement-level rent on the multi-room palace he has in Harlem. He cheats on his taxes and defends that. This is what we can expect from among the best we have in office. The Dennis Kuciniches are ignored entirely, just as loud-mouths like yours truly (better informed, better spoken loudmouths than yours truly) are ignored.

Some Rational Reading

Creative Destruction on Wall Street
, by William Greider at The Nation

Nouriel Roubini, NYU economist

Toxic Lehman, by Peter Morici, professor at the University of Maryland School of Business

The Chicago School's Record of Infamy
, by Michael Hudson, economist, professor at the University of Missouri, and specialist at Chase

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Economic S--t Hits the Fan

Late this evening, September 14, 2008, the New York Times posted a report online:
In Frantic Day, Wall Street Banks Teeter
In one of the most dramatic days in Wall Street’s history, Merrill Lynch agreed to sell itself to Bank of America for roughly $50 billion to avert a deepening financial crisis while another prominent securities firm, Lehman Brothers, hurtled toward liquidation after it failed to find a buyer, people briefed on the deals said.

The humbling moves, which reshape the landscape of American finance, mark the latest chapter in a tumultuous year in which once-proud financial institutions have been brought to their knees as a result of tens of billions of dollars in losses because of bad mortgage finance and real estate investments.

They culminated a weekend of frantic around-the-clock negotiations, as Wall Street bankers huddled in meetings at the behest of Bush administration officials to avoid a downward spiral in the markets stemming from a crisis of confidence.

In short, federally sanctioned insider trading is in full swing. What to do to avoid major market meltdown on Monday ... and worse beyond?

The creditors are panicking. The get-richer-quicker schemes -- the years of the long con aimed at the average American -- are falling apart. The world of Alan Greenspan and the Chicago School. The well-quantified world of modern Economics. The proofs, the figures ranged in columns before us. The world of Michael Bloomberg, where only "little people pay taxes" (Bloomberg's own words).

In my more optimistic moments, I imagine the heads of JPMorgan or UBS or Citigroup in a position like that of the Romans in 410 as the Visigoths sacked the greatest city of the Western world. "But this is Rome!"

The myth could no longer be sustained. Even the truest believers finally had to concede what a few "naysayers" -- "nattering nabobs of negativity" -- had been warning of for decades, even centuries.

Unlike Rome, the triumph of the American Empire, will have been remarkably shortlived. Maybe "patriots" (whatever they are) can take some solace in the notion that "the light that burns twice as bright burns half as long".

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Recent Global Warming Unprecedented in 1,300 Years

From the McClatchy news service:
A new scientific study adds evidence that temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere fluctuated a bit over time, but that the sharp increase during the past few decades is bigger than anything in at least 1,300 years.

The report was published Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Its conclusion is that temperature increased and decreased a little over the centuries, but the fluctuations were small enough that the line was roughly flat, like the shaft of a horizontal hockey stick. Then, from about 1980 to now, temperature increased sharply, more than any increase before — like the blade of the hockey stick.

For the past 10 years, climate-change skeptics have been calling the hockey stick bogus. Now the scientists who studied the climate record and produced the original hockey-stick graph have done a new study using more data from more sources — and they got the same pattern.

The new study "establishes further evidence that the recent warming isn't just part of a typical cycle," said climatologist Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University.

"Of course, this alone doesn't establish the cause of that warming — that it must be due to human influences," Mann said. That's left to other scientific studies of the climate.

Forces of nature — changes in the output of the sun's energy and volcanic eruptions — and random variation explain the changes in climate before industrial times, Mann said. But only if human factors are taken into account — particularly the production of long-lasting, heat-trapping gases from burning fossil fuels — can scientists explain the unusually high recent temperature increase, he said.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 7, 1964

Forty-four years ago this week — September 7, 1964 — the Democrats aired an ad condemning Barry Goldwater for the war-mongering beast he was.

Today, we are again faced with a presidential and vice-presidential candidates — John McCain and Sarah Palin — who so adore war that the stakes are too high for any person to vote for them. Sarah Palin has expressed her unalloyed support for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And she has now added hypothetical support for a war against Russia ostensibly under the terms of the NATO treaty. McCain has left no room for doubt regarding his desire for military action against Iran (the thing that most likely won him the support of that revolting anti-Muslim bigot and war-lover, Sen. Joseph Lieberman).

President Johnson, for all his faults, got it right forty-four years ago:
"These are the stakes: To make a world in which all of God's children can live, or to go into the Dark. We must either love each other, or we must die."

Palin on Palin

Where is Michael Palin when we need him? Perhaps he can clarify the baffling choice of Sarah Palin for VP. Sarah Palin is lying every which way she can. We need Michael to tell us:
  1. How are they related?
  2. Is Sarah part of a secret British attempt to re-invade the God-Fearing United States of America (G-FUSA)?
  3. Is G-FUSA being undermined by a terrorist contingent of right-wing Christian Fundamentalist book-hating bible thumpers?
  4. Where is The Holy Hand Grenade when we need it?
  5. And has Sarah Palin been alive since the Holy Inquisition after making a pact with Torquemada, first Inquisitor General of Spain?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Set This House on Fire

Originally, the US Forest Service fought every forest fire — until scientists and others demonstrated that forest fires are a natural part of the ecosystem's development. Indeed, a forest could only develop in healthy way if there were forest fires. Some pine cones, for example, would only open and release seeds when charred by fire.

Then the great Yellowstone fires of 1988 came. The fires were in no small measure the result of many years of failure to allow natural smaller fires. But the public and small-minded, self-interested politicians were indifferent to scientific fact. Policy reverted to its old approach — fight every fire. Nevertheless, it is universally recognized that fires are normal and larger fires result when smaller fires are not allow to proceed naturally.

The federal government's financial policy is similar. Irresponsible policy in the service of a select few and to appease popular demand makes a massive conflagration inevitable. The question here is what counts as a fire. Regular folks losing a home — that's not a fire. Just as in the great parks — the government only really cares when wealthy owners are at risk. The pressure to fight every fire has grown as more and wealthier people have built their MacMansions in the great wilderness.

Likewise now on the economic landscape. The government's concern was reached a fever pitch as risk has embraced the rentier class — the wealthy creditors, the people who make the loans. These people are scarcely affected at all by growing interest rates or by fraudulent or usurious loan practices. But they are directly affected when the dollar (and thus the value of what they are owed) drops or when debtors begin to default en masse.

Sarah Palin — Religious Fanatic, Religious Bigot

Juan Cole, professor of modern Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan, writes on the fundamentalist Christian extremism of Sarah Palin.
"[T]he values of [John McCain's] handpicked running mate, Sarah Palin, more resemble those of Muslim fundamentalists than they do those of the Founding Fathers. On censorship, the teaching of creationism in schools, reproductive rights, attributing government policy to God's will and climate change, Palin agrees with Hamas and Saudi Arabia rather than supporting tolerance and democratic precepts. What is the difference between Palin and a Muslim fundamentalist? Lipstick."

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Beat Them at Their Own Game

Police in Minneapolis/St. Paul arrested, detained, recorded, photographed people for the mere act of dissent or, in another astonishing leap down the slope to [fascism, authoritarianism, anti-democracy, police state?], journalism.

Fortunately, some of these tactics are easily subverted. All can be subverted to some degree.

Looks Can Be Deceiving
So, among other things, police photographed tattoos. Anyone with kids knows about water soluble tattoos. We need fake tattoos for adults. More broadly, demonstrators, dissenters, etc., should modify their appearance. Hairstyle, facial hair in the case of men, clothing, eyewear can all be varied. And the more respectably we dress, the more formally, the more likely the small mind moderates and conservatives are to overlook us. Witness the The Yes Men.

Turn the Tables
Recently, New York police were shocked, awed and enraged when onlookers photographed and videotaped a cop bodycheck a bicyclist during a Critical Mass bike ride. Normally, that vile apologist for government intrusion, Michael Bloomberg, and his little toad Ray Kelly would have instantly issued a defense of police actions -- as they did most notoriously during the 2004 Republican National Convention. Here they had to be more circumspect.

We all need to have cameras. We must be brazen and public in our recording of public officials and their henchmen. This has worked in some small measure in Occupied Palestine, where Israeli occupation and colonial forces are marginally less eager to shoot blindly at Palestinians, thanks to some efforts to distribute cameras among the population, as Ha'aretz has reported. Cell phones can be great for this. (Watch for cell carriers to start monitoring what we photograph.)

The Less-than-Lethal Weapons
The government is deploying new categories of weapons and monitoring devices. We've heard about Tasers and rubber bullets, both described as non-lethal, though facts prove otherwise. Manufacturers have coined the term "less-than-lethal", perhaps to avoid liability with the more sweeping "non-lethal". Among the most recent of these is "Silent Guardian", developed by Raytheon to direct a concentrated beam of microwaves at "the enemy" or "protestors". The weapon causes a sensation of excrutiating burning in the skin. Raytheon claims it's safe. They're lying.

Lethal or not, this is another weapon that can be defeated. Wet clothing, a fine wire mesh (with a gap between wires of less than the wavelength of the microwaves) would tend to counteract the weapon's effect.

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
— W. B. Yeats

The End of the World

Quite unexpectedly, as Vasserot
The armless ambidextrian was lighting
A match between his great and second toe,
And Ralph the lion was engaged in biting
The neck of Madame Sossman while the drum
Pointed, and Teeny was about to cough
In waltz-time swinging Jocko by the thumb —
Quite unexpectedly the top blew off:

And there, there overhead, there, there hung over
Those thousands of white faces, those dazed eyes,
There in the starless dark the poise, the hover,
There with vast wings across the cancelled skies,
There in the sudden blackness the black pall
Of nothing, nothing, nothing — nothing at all.

— Archibald MacLeish

Monday, September 8, 2008


Anyone remember a time when everyone referred to the "Democratic Party"? Sometime in the Reagan years, Republicons started referring to the "Democrat Party" (cf Wikipedia). William Safire wrote a Times piece on this in October 1984. Republicans -- afraid of the obvious connotations of "democratic party" -- pressed the alternative. For years, a timid, pathetic, docile news media has obeyed.

In keeping with Republicon newspeak, I suggest we cease the common term "Republican" and start using a term with a connotation more appropriate to the behavior -- "Republicon". A party which has for thirty years (or more, depending on how you count) played on the basest fears of Americans, lied, thieved, and committed some of the most heinous crimes against humanity in the decades since World War 2.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Sky is Floating

The federal government will soon announce the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (See also the Financial Times report.) Our leaders are moving to protect the wealthy titans of business upon whose decisions we depend for our own livelihoods. Will they keep the business in the US? Will they transfer their own holdings into foreign currencies? Will they curtail their own drive for immediate gain to allow us to keep out homes? And on.

I'm working on a longer essay to be called "Patterns of Force". The first section will be up soon: American Virtues.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Republicons Use Racist Language (Again) to Describe Obama

Lynn Westmoreland, Republicon of Georgia has referred to the Obamas using classically racist language. In April, Kentucky Republicon Geoff Davis (Geoff as in Jeff as in Jefferson?) referred to Obama with similarly racist language: "That boy's finger does not need to be on the button."

From the McClatchy story:
A Republican lawmaker is facing criticism over using the racially charged term "uppity" to describe Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, on Thursday.

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia used the word in a conversation with reporters just outside the House chamber about Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Michelle Obama.

According to The Hill newspaper, a Washington publication, Westmoreland said, "Just from what little I've seen of her and Mr. Obama, Sen. Obama, they're a member of an elitist-class individual that thinks that they're uppity."

Westmoreland has distinguished himself in other ways:

- 2005: distributed a memo to fellow members of Congress. The memo copied verbatim points lobbied for by the auto industry.

- Co-sponsored a bill to place the Ten Commandments in the House and in the Senate. Yet, when he appeared on the Colbert show, was only able to name three of those Commandments (presumably the three he's violated).

- Dropped out of college (frankly, that doesn't mean much).

And Now For Something Completely Different

Color Test

A real toughy. And fun, if you love color for its sake.

The Financial Sky Falls and Falls and . . .

The Financial Times has its take on today's market woes. In this mess is a tale of just how twisted the American economy is. Wages are flat and inflation is modest. This used to be sufficient for "experts" to shout for joy. BUT now we have credit and oil issues. And a government, particularly and executive branch, that has proved violently indifferent to the conditions of average Americans.

Someday we'll learn about wealthy Americans' (the rentier class's) flood of investment in foreign currencies and precious metals.


Jeffrey St. Clair on the mythology of McCain. The most common McCain move is to publicly and prominently proclaim one thing and then to vote another way. So he has pointedly opposed torture, but he has consistently voted to support Bush crimes against humanity.

Some passages from the St. Clair essay:

[McCain] is the senator of the hollow protest. McCain is nothing if not a political stunt man. His chief stunt is the evocation of political piety. From his pulpit in the well of the senate, McCain gestures and fumes about the evils of Pentagon porkbarrel. He rails about useless and expensive weapons systems, contractor malfeasance, and bloated R&B budgets.

But he does nothing about them. McCain pontificates, but never obstructs. Few senators have his political capital. But he does nothing with it. Under the arcane rules of the senate, one senator can gum up the works, derail a bad (or good, though those are increasingly rare in this environment) bill, dislodge non-germane riders, usually loaded with pork, from big appropriations bills. McCain is never that senator. He is content to let ride that which he claims to detest in press releases and senate speeches....

McCain is often called a "war hero", a title adorning an unlovely resume starting with a father who was an admiral and graduation fifth from the bottom at the US Naval Academy, where he earned the nickname "McNasty". McCain flew 23 bombing missions over North Vietnam, each averaging about half an hour, total time ten hours and thirty minutes. For these brief excursions the admiral's son was awarded two Silver Stars, two Legions of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Bronze Stars, the Vietnamese Legion of Honor and three Purple Hearts. US Veteran Dispatch calculates our hero earned a medal an hour, which is pretty good going. McCain was shot down over Hanoi on October 26, 1967 and parachuted into Truc Boch Lake, whence he was hauled by Vietnamese, and put in prison.

A couple of years later he was interviewed in prison camp by Fernando Barral, a Spanish psychiatrist living in Cuba. The interview appeared in Granma on January 24, 1970.

McCain's fragile psyche runs on what Barral described "the personality of the prisoner who is responsible for many criminal bombings of the people." Barral went on, "He (McCain) showed himself to be intellectually alert during the interview. From a morale point of view he is not in traumatic shock. He was able to be sarcastic, and even humorous, indicative of psychic equilibrium. From the moral and ideological point of view he showed us he is an insensitive individual without human depth, who does not show the slightest concern, who does not appear to have thought about the criminal acts he committed against a population from the absolute impunity of his airplane, and that nevertheless those people saved his life, fed him, and looked after his health and he is now healthy and strong. I believe that he has bombed densely populated places for sport. I noted that he was hardened, that he spoke of banal things as if her were at a cocktail party.

McCain is deeply loved by the liberal press. As Amy Silverman, a reporter at the Phoenix weekly New Times who has followed the senator for years, puts it, "As long as he's the noble outsider, McCain can get away with anything it seems -- the Keating Five, a drug stealing wife, nasty jokes about Chelsea Clinton -- and the pundits will gurgle and coo."

A Tale of Two Tales

US Special Forces, supposedly confined to operations in Afghanistan, have attacked on Pakistani territory, killing civilians. A British account in the Guardian mentions civilian losses in a summation and in the first two paragraphs. The New York Times account buries such reports and even then only mentions "conflicting reports about civilian casualties". The Times and other American media organizations routinely cite "American officials" or "Israeli officials" or similar 'official' sources in cases like this. How these officials 'know' what they do is anybody's guess.

Palin Advocated Alaskan Secession

If a Democrat were to advocate a state's secession, he or she would instantly be branded anti-American, unpatriotic, a traitor. But Sarah Palin did just that and the response has been muted at most, including that of politicians who routinely advocate legislating affirmations of obedience and loyalty.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Silent Guardian

Less than Lethal Weapons, coming soon to a protest near you. Our glorious leaders, always in search of a new ace up the sleeve, are deploying an entirely new generation of weapons. Dubbed "less than lethal", they supposedly do not kill. But, tellingly, their manufacturers and the government do not call them "non-lethal". Why? How many people are now dead by Taser, or by rubber bullet?

Add to the list, Raytheon's Ray Gun, a directed energy weapon. It focuses an intense beam of microwaves on the target, a frequency of microwaves designed to penetrate exactly to a skin depth necessary to cause a sensation of excrutiating burning. What happens if it's trained on your eyes? Or if it is held on you for a prolonged period? No one will say.

Palin v. The Competition

Let's compare:

Christine Todd Whitman -- liar who as head of the EPA deceived the people of New York and New Jersey about environmental risks post-9/11.

Kay Bailey Hutchinson
-- dimwitted senator from Texas.

Carly Fiorina -- former executive of Hewlett Packard, had a penchant for spying on people right in keeping with Republicons and a dismayingly large number of Democrats.

Elizabeth Dole -- same age as Johnbo McCain.

Rudy (Adolph) Giuliani -- likes to dress up as a woman. Surely good enough to satisfy an intellect of the stature of John McCain.

And despite all these and more, McCain tells us Sarah Palin is best suited to be vice-president. Hmm.