Saturday, September 17, 2011
The evangelical freakshow which has become the Republican Party seems poised to anoint either Mitt Romney (my personal choice; perhaps because I really do like whistling past the graveyard and he’s the least mentally-challenged of the lot), or Rick Perry (a fellow who makes G.W. Bush look like Thoreau). Both are followers of a particularly-nasty brand of Christianity – Romney is a Mormon, and believes in things like baptizing dead people and wearing magic underwear; Perry is a Fundie, who believes that renting a whole stadium to pray for rain while getting rid of several thousand firefighters is the best solution for a drought and wildfire problem in his home-state of Texas.
Romney gets at least a point or two for not bringing religion into the general discussion. He has, however, made it pretty clear that he thinks Bush was a genius, and that undoing everything done by Obama is his first priority.
Perry doesn’t get points. At all. His Imaginary Friend is a particularly scary bastard; a guy who founded America, but who wants to destroy it the moment we quit supporting a gang of equally-nasty thugs who are busy pissing-off half the world by way of running the show in Jersusalem; He’s the sort of fellow who’s coming back on a white horse, packing a flamethrower and ready to sort-out anyone who doesn’t believe not only in Him, but in guts, guns and the Republican party.
Meantime, the bow of the Economic Ship of State is well-underwater, and there are some pretty serious signs that the pumps aren’t working at all – we didn’t create Job One in August; first time claims for unemployment were the highest in several months, and leading indicators are pointing to that double-dip recession-with-a-cherry-on-top which I predicted a year ago.
Further, the mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, said in front of the whole world the other day that prolonged unemployment could cause civil unrest (read: riots).
When the bankruptcy rate for college graduates is through the roof, and when PhD’s are standing in line to apply for the few jobs which are available screwing wheels on BMWs in South Carolina for half the pay of their German counterparts, we don’t have a temporary problem in America – we have a problem with our economic structure; the kind of thing which requires government re-regulation to set right, along with the prosecution of those who created the collapse in the first place.
One doesn’t solve these kind of problems by continuing to bring up the strawmen of abortion and same-sex marriage, calling them ‘America’s real moral issues’ – not when the privileged few are worrying about preserving their largesse and discussing where in the world they’ll take this year’s three-month vacation, while there are people dying of bad teeth and starvation. You solve that problem by holding the perpetrators accountable, and setting the circumstances to rights which cause the problem in the first place. Both, however, require a kind of courage which is missing in the Oval Office.
Deep down, Americans know this. Tanning BinLaden’s hide and hanging it from the White House fence as a trophy might have helped a little, but the same problems were here when the party was over. You can only cheer so much for the demise of one man, no matter how evil, when you’ve no job to go to on Monday morning; no paycheck come Friday; no food come Saturday morning.
Going broke slowly is something which even the rank-and-file can see coming – going broke quickly is a conundrum; one of those things which induce good old-fashioned panic. (James Carville said the other day that with two special-elections going the way of the GOP; both in traditionally Democratic territory, it’s time to do just that – and use the old Soviet method of firing everyone in sight, putting privates in charge of regiments if that’s what it takes to stop the relentless tides of Republican Panzers from overrunning his political Stalingrad). A kind of panic is now setting its shadow across the land; the kind of uneasy fear that precedes things like revolutions.
You may not be fully aware of this, getting your news from CNN and Fox, but Europe is actually in pretty bad shape. The Euro is rapidly becoming worthless in its home-countries and convertible into very little else; from Great Britain to Greece, European economies are teetering on a precipice named ‘debt’, and none of them have any real solutions. The closest most of us get to the problem is the Dow, which either rises or falls 150+ points each day depending on whether one of the Eurotrash nations is going to default.
Such a catastrophe would certainly carry more than a few American banks with it. This could be the nick in the nation’s fabric which causes the whole thing to unravel; it could be (as I postulated in a piece of alternate-history a while ago) the default of a major state, or something entirely as mundane as a howling mob of a few thousand 99ers deciding to apply a pitchforks-and-rope solution to the mansions and persons of the wealthy in Anytown, America.
America is rapidly becoming ungovernable in any conventional sense; people who are working are just hanging on, terrified of losing their jobs; the unemployed are rapidly losing hope and coming to the realization that they’ve nothing to lose in a nation run by a hapless but well-meaning President who surrounded himself with, instead of men and women of some courage, a thoroughly disappointing gang of cowards, amoral grifters and chickenshit politicians. On the other side of the radio-dial, the Tea Party is nothing but the collective mouthpiece of the plutocrats who are pulling the puppet-strings on everyone from Limbaugh to Bachmann in order to continue turning the United States into the economic equivalent of a 1970's-era Argentina or Chile.
It may well be that Obama is the last president, at least for a time; maybe forever. Certainly Romney or Perry (or whoever the plutocrats choose to replace him; the last great hope of the common American) will have to face that possibility; that they could be the Romulus Augustulus of the 21st century. The falcon sure as shit can’t hear the falconer, and the center quit holding a hell of a long time ago.
Somewhere, someone is thinking. That person might be a recent college graduate, incapable of finding a job, or an unemployed steelworker, fed up with beans at the homeless-shelter, or someone who’s watched one too many children die from a lack of medical care. Whoever they are, I don’t doubt he or she exists. For one thing, there are too many people just like them everywhere in America – sooner or later, one of them is going to take action. Just what that action is, what form it takes, and whether our civil liberties are intact on the other side is anyone’s guess. As I've said before: When they start handing out those crisp new brown shirts and armbands, think hard – because it’s a lead-pipe-cinch they won’t tell you the price-tag.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
That has driven a culture mad;
What huge Imago made
A psychopathic god.
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn:
Those to whom is evil done
Do evil in return.
–- W.H. Auden
It is a wild-eyed terrorist gang
They boardeth planes by four and three.
“I am off to fly to hell,” they quoth
“And who flieth now with me?”
-- Bill Purkayastha
Ten Years On, We've Learned Exactly Jack-Shit
It’s 9/11; we’re ten years down the road and up to our fucking necks in a collective politico-religious insanity.
The media, for its part, is now engaged in a giant circle-jerk; a group-orgasm over the meaning of the Twin Towers; the city of New York is going to wrap itself in the flag and shout ‘we’re the greatest!’ from the top of the Empire State building. What they don’t understand is that ten years on, most of the world simply views New York as America-Writ-Large; bragging on being The Place Where It All Began isn’t going to get them any brownie-points with most of the planet’s population – they got all the mileage they’re going to get from that event some time ago, and the rest of the country would do well to realize that, also.
(If you’re interested in the root-cause of 9/11, I’ve got the answer for you in the photo above, if you care to read and understand it. If not, that’s fine. I’m beyond caring now, anyway. Soon, you won’t be, either. Your life might have begun courtesy of a four-door sedan bringing you home to the family ranch-house, but your future is arriving on shank’s-mare and public transit to row-housing, if you’re lucky, all courtesy of Americas Great Collapse, ushered in since 9/11. More on that in a moment).
The other evening, I saw an advertisement on the tube which turned my stomach. Y’see, right now (operators are standing by), you can go to justicecoin.com and buy the item in the photo to the upper right. It’s done up in either silver or gold (your choice; depending upon the limit of your last non-maxed credit-card); you’ll get a faux ‘military operations map’, detailing the publicly-provided details of the operation to Get Bin-Laden. As you can see, one side of the coin shows armed-to-the-teeth Marines, Seals, or somesuch, and the legend, “You Can Run, But You Cannot Hide”. On the other side are two quotes by Bush II and
Bush III Obama; both invoking the concept of ‘justice’ (which, in this case, equals death without trial).
Before any of you get uppity about that last statement, let’s remember something: In the America which existed when your Momma and Daddy brought you home from the hospital, everyone – right down to the Nuremburg defendants and Charles Starkweather – deserved a fair trial with adequate representation. America had laws against arbitrarily killing people who hadn’t been convicted of something worthy of the death penalty – and there are plenty of us who’ve fought the concept of legalized murder (execution), tooth and nail, for as long as we’ve been alive.
Put another way, the notion of breaking international law by sending an armed body of troops across another nation’s border to kill a civilian who was living in that nation was considered not only immoral, but was against the law in America – and believe it or not, it still is.
Yes, Obama and his underlings broke not only international, but American law by killing Bin-Laden (I’m assuming that what we’ve been told is true.)
The cavalier nature of such activity is in stark contrast to who-we-were-before; in the 1970’s, we wouldn’t have tolerated such assaults on our civil liberties as the Military Commissions Act; the Patriot Act, the military’s Civilian Inmate Labor Program, or any of the other bullshit perpetrated by the Bush Administration in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center.
The Department of Homeland Security (a catch-all polyglot agency responsible for administrating everything from the aforementioned Acts to some other unlovely things, like detention-without-trial of suspected ‘terrorists’) owns up to exactly 33 (no; that’s not a typo – that’s thirty-three) deaths in the United States due to terrorism since 9/11.
In response, we’ve killed over two million people, the bulk of whom are in Afghanistan and Iraq – neither county which was at war with us at the time they were invaded (you can add at least 10x to that number if you’re looking for the enemies we’ve created in the process – far more than we can kill.) Then again, disproportionate response is the minor theme of this play, and we’re likely to see it again and again as things wind down.
All of this ‘git-‘r-dun’ horseshit, perpetrated by a backwoods yokel of a President who had his papers written for him at Harvard has bankrupted the country. Twenty percent of America is out of work when you add up everything; the nation’s budget surplus is now a dreadful deficit, and the only response which most Americans agreed upon in the last election was to send a majority of people to Congress who support the rantings of a quasi-theocratic bunch of hillbilly Hooterville-dwelling eejits calling themselves the “Tea Party”.
Teabaggers aside, over 60% of Americans now support the Republican party; put another way, while most, if asked, don’t like the “Tea Party” or its ideals, they’re willing to hold their noses and pull a lever to put another backwoods yokel in the White House – only this time, he believes that his Imaginary Friend founded America and that it is not only ‘exceptional’ as a result, but as long as we toe the mark as laid down in a book written by a bunch of Bronze and Iron-Age goat-herders, we’ll be ‘blessed’.
‘Blessings’ are dependent, however, upon the same course of action we’ve taken in the Middle East for some sixty years now – supporting a group of racist thugs who founded a bastard-state in what used to be Palestine.
I’ll point out that it was this action (along with a few minor ones) which led to Islamic fundamentalists taking-out the Twin Towers – our continued blind support of the regime in Jerusalem, no matter what, is the ultimate Smoking Gun. Sadly, no one has the courage to point this out in the American media, because of the massive support which the Zionists and their supporters have everywhere here in the U.S. from the press to Congress.
Yes; before you decide I should be pilloried for saying it, I’ll help you along: We did this to ourselves.
Because of this idiocy, Bin Laden and his network of operatives have won.
Their objective was to bring down the American economy by forcing us to bleed ourselves white. That was accomplished, in spades – not only is gasoline twice as expensive as it was, nearly everything else costs more, and there are no jobs with which to earn the money to pay inflated prices. The one bright spot – there are a lot of boarded-up houses which you can get for a song.
For all this, we’re not the first country which struck a medal commemorating the ‘justice’ of mass murder.
It turns out that the German Empire, in existence for a brief period from the 1870’s through 1918, did the same thing.
Back then, they’d unleashed another kind of depredation on civilians – unrestricted submarine warfare. Because they were such nice guys, they told the nations of the world with which they were at war that they’d sink any of their shipping, without warning. On May 7, 1915, the U20 under the command of a Captain Schwieger, did just that – torpedoing the British liner Lusitania.
A medallion-manufacturer from Munich struck the medal you see on your left. It depicted Death, selling tickets to the Lusitania, with the legend “Business Above All”.
The German Empire was one of the countries which lost the First World War. While nearly no one apart from historians and ocean-liner buffs are even aware of the German propaganda medal, it serves as both a statement and a warning – if you make enough enemies, sooner or later you’ll run out of friends.
Epilogue: America is out of friends; out of money; and out of time. We’ve destroyed our economy, and failed to recognize that humility is one of the greatest strengths of both people and governments. By all accounts, neither our people nor our government are very humble nowadays, preferring to throw a modern-day legion across the border to start teaching neo-imperial ‘lessons’ rather than making any attempt at getting along.
Newsflash: It didn’t work for Rome. It didn’t work for Germany. It’s not going to work for us, either. The empire is collapsing, and from where most of the world sits, the sooner, the better.
As to Rome, we all know what happened – they created so many enemies that they inevitably ganged-up and beat the crap out of the Romans, trashing their city and making off with everything right down to the treasury.
Germany endured a shitty ‘republic’ for a little over a decade; its main accomplishment was cranking up the printing-press and literally spinning currency out of thin air, out of which it ‘paid’ its onerous reparations. What happened afterward is another cautionary-tale; proof that when they start handing out those brown shirts and armbands in the name of national unity, recovery and self-respect, it’s worth taking a second look – because the perpetrators haven’t told you the price-tag.
With any luck, we’ll Balkanize in a more or less orderly fashion, rather than suffer the final indignity of either civil war or a takeover by the corn-pone Nazis waiting in the wings to do just that.
Objects in your mirror are closer than they appear.
(As some of you know, ten years ago a very close friend of mine lost her older sister in Tower #2 on 9/11.
Out of respect for the family, I will not mention any names. Both she and I had similar upbringings, and have remarked on more than one occasion that our respective parents would spin in their graves to know what’s being done in the name of ‘security’ here in America.
While we’re better than that, it doesn’t appear that we’re going to act like it any time soon.
It’s a grave dishonor to everyone who died – not just my friend’s sister – to do less than look the causes straight in the eye, and correct them, no matter how painful.
Just don’t hold your breath.)
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Very soon, the President (after allowing himself to be beaten like a scabby dog over the date of his speech), will dust off some tired, aging ideas and present them as the New Way Forward for American employment. He’ll likely interrupt the beginning of a football game, pissing off legions of Red Staters and other residents of Hooterville America – because at this point, they’re either running so scared of losing what work they have that they’d sooner forget reality by any means possible, or they’re unemployed already. Either way, football is better medicine than learning (again) that their President has nothing to offer them – and hey; he took the 12-gauge shotgun out of America’s economic pie-trap last month by way of ending the debt-ceiling fight. Maybe he’ll get points for that - but don’t count on it.
The Republican frontrunner, Rick Perry, is telling everyone that he can solve this problem – and he holds up his own state of Texas as a shining light of employment in the face of a national economy which has gone to Hell.
Peeling back the onion, we have two solutions: Obama is likely to tell everyone to work for free via a ‘workfare’ program; Perry is going to tell everyone that they can have jobs – as long as those jobs are flipping burgers and washing cars.
Neither is addressing the real issues. Meanwhile, people are increasingly fending for themselves, much like the residents of Saigon simply walked to the edge of town and started digging tank-traps in April of 1974, while the government radio told them everything was fine, and the North wasn’t anywhere near the capital.
History proved them wrong. It’s about to do the same to the current American government.
So, how do we fix things?
First, we’re going to have to admit that both Bush and Obama have failed.
Bush failed (and Congress did, also) when he/they bailed out the nation’s banks, violating one of the unwritten tenets of capitalism; that anyone who fails is left to sink. Instead, they’re all sitting on a load of our grandchildren’s cash, parking it offshore and waiting for the inevitable failure of the American economy.
Second, we’re going to have to look at the elephant in the room.
The elephant – trillions of dollars of uncollectible debt, propped up by tax money and kept on the books by the nation’s banks - still has to be dealt with, and foreclosing on the nation’s housing-stock isn’t the answer.
Those of you who took a little economics in college are going to tell me, “But Will – how can the banks just write those loans off? They’d fail.”
Absent the bailout funds (which are probably accounted for differently), yes, they’d fail. And you know what? That’s fine. It’s about time.
(We can take a look at North Dakota for our paragon. They have maintained the lowest unemployment in the nation – this is largely due to the fact that they were insulated from the effects of the housing-bubble.
This is because they have a state-owned bank, which is well-run and well-regulated, and which is where most North Dakotans do their banking business (although private banks are chartered as well). As a result of responsible loan practices, they ‘took a pass’ on loaning cheap money at subprime rates – and North Dakotans were spared, in turn, the ugly economics of speculation, ‘flips’, and other things which have destroyed housing markets all over the country.)
Yes; I’m advocating a return to small business and local economy. Why?
Because small-business is what creates jobs. Until we quit pandering to large corporations for job-creation, what we’re doing is little more than the cargo-cults during WWII – building idols of airplanes and making marks on tapa-cloth as ‘invoices’, in the hope that the magic silver birds will appear out of the sky and drop massive boxes full of Spam and condoms.
Large corporations – anywhere – are loyal to one thing and one thing only: Massive profits; generated globally and invested wherever they can make the most return. They have zero loyalty to the nation; to the community; to employment.
Forget ‘stimulus’ – in spite of the current administration’s claim that the ‘stimulus’ ‘created’ 2.9 million jobs, when you pull back the skin on that rotten turkey, you’ll find the maggots of faulty accounting and the decay of make-work jobs.
If we want to create permanent employment for millions of Americans, we need to do four things, and do them now – the first is to tell the banks to write off the trillions of dollars they have in bad mortgage-paper; the second is to create a genuine single-payer health-care system; the third is to rewrite the tax-code to emphasize saving and investment, putting a genuine progressive schedule in place which puts the tax burden on the wealthy and accounts for inflation, and removing deductions for classes of consumption; the fourth is to reregulate the financial system.
What we’d see is an immediate, yet controlled, drop in housing prices – and before you cry ‘Socialism!’ to my suggestion that the banks simply write off their uncollectable mortgages, you should really consider that it was free-market conservatives who got us in this mess in the first place – allowing them back in the tent to do more of the same sort of damage is insanity.
Yes; I’m suggesting that the banks write off uncollectable paper, and start handing out deeds – because the alternative is millions of people in the street – and therein lies a nasty word called ‘revolution’.
We’d also see a drop in inflation, and an increase in the value of the dollar, as reflected by a drop in overall prices. Wages would drop, also – but it wouldn’t take a six-figure income to buy a house and put our kids through college anymore, either.
This is the same medicine which some European and Latin American countries had to swallow – but the sooner we accept this and quit saying, “This doesn’t apply to us! We’re ‘exceptional’!”, the better off we’re going to be.
Now that the debt-ceiling debacle was pandered to a sorry finish by Obama, the US can get back to its systemic collapse in an orderly manner, and neither Obama nor Perry have any answers. Half the world is starving to death, so we can forget about selling them iPods; one in five Americans is out of work; one in four American children live in poverty, and half the damn country is on food-stamps (a self-reinforcing ‘fish-for-a-person’ program if ever was), so we can forget about selling them anything, either.
Sooner or later, big business in America is going to have to realize that absent someone to buy things, making them is a worthless exercise – and they can’t just keep trading their stock back and forth and telling themselves that they’re all ‘making money’, any more than Cletus McSixpack was an instant millionaire by flipping houses – because someone, or multiple someones, have to be the last ones to get a chair when the music stops.
Personally, I don’t believe my four points, above, have an ice-cube’s-chance-in-hell of ever being done. Actually, I don’t believe we’ll ever really solve this debt-and-unemployment crisis; the government will continue to rearrange the deck-chairs and ignore the problem completely until we’re broke completely, and the obvious is staring us in the face. Will American ‘pluck’ finally rise to the occasion? I doubt it.
The reason is a conversation I had with a fellow in my neighborhood the other day. I began mentioning some of the obvious things – and he returned with a Fox News summary of ‘liberal’ failures, and why we needed a ‘God fearing’ man in office again. In that, his comment was America-writ-large; a statement of the 60%+ of the American electorate which believes to the core of its being that if we just double-down on the past thirty-years of insanity, we will by some magic alchemy achieve a different result.
I didn’t continue the conversation. I needed to mow the lawn anyway.