Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Too funny

The secrets of NASCAR racing revealed in this lucid, compelling video.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Try not to get too unglued

I've not gotten swept up in the healthcare debate/debacle in this blog, but this chart displays facts that are so maddening that I can't help myself. You've got to click on the chart to enlarge it, but when you do, weep or gnash your teeth or do something, anything, just to prove you're alive. (If, under our healthcare system, you still are.)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Mental illness?

For some reason, this morning I was websurfing and found myself visiting sites about Alan Turing, the genius mathematician. I believe I had begun my surfing with an article about autism and some reference was made to the possibility that Turing suffered from that affliction, although according to the several sites I visited about Turing not many mentioned that possibility. But I must say, Turing's life--his immensely interesting life and tragic death--made me think he may well have been autistic. Indeed, after my surfing, I thought what an amazing movie his life would make. (It has been made into a play, I understand.)

This evening I opened my NetFlix packet to watch the movie therein, not recalling what movie I'd rented, and to my amazement that movie was "A Beautiful Mind," about another afflicted scientist, John Nash.

I'm positive my morning surfing was done without conscious knowledge of what movie I'd NetFlixed for that evening. (My NetFlix plan allows me only one movie at a time, and this movie I'd rented weeks ago and had lying on my table unviewed over the holidays. I'd seen the movie before, but barely remembered it, having viewed it only once upon its release eight years ago.)

Two questions: First, was my subconscious at work this morning? Second, must one be mad to be a genius, or does it just help?

What the aughts were not.

Here's a brilliant essay about the decade that is about to pass into history, and why it perfectly forecasts the demise of what we thought was America.

Wouldn't you think they'd change the cover?

I mean, how hard can it be? Talk about bad timing.

Friday, December 11, 2009

"Rope a hope"

Here's the text of a letter to the editor I've emailed today to the SB NewsPress. I'll update if/when it's published.

Update: It was published on December 18, 2009.

Who is he? Is Obama a war president or an envoy of peace? You can’t tell from his Oslo speech, its eloquent phrases belied by his escalation of the Afghan war. Is he a man of the people, or is he in the grasp of Wall Street and insurance-company influence? With all his common-man rhetoric, he throws billions to bail out banksters and refuses to support single-payer health care. Does he favor transparency in government? If so, why does his administration continue Bush’s secrecy policies? In short, is Obama truly the agent of “change” or is he the purveyor of “more of the same”?

Many of his supporters—including this writer—who campaigned ardently for him a year ago are more than merely disappointed or dismayed. We look to Obama’s deeds, no longer to his words, and feel betrayed. Indeed, we now understand (to paraphrase Muhammad Ali’s phrase after his victory over George Foreman in Zaire) we’ve become the victims of “rope a hope.”

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A new slogan

to describe Obama's repeated failures to live up to his campaign rhetoric--and our sensation at having been betrayed by him--taken from Ali's boxing victory over Foreman in Zaire: "Rope a hope."

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Afghaniconsternation

I wonder: Did Obama make his troop-increase announcement out of a firm belief that it was the best way to deal with Afghanistan and "terrorism"; or did he do so because he believed it was politically beneficial? Which causes me to ask this: Which is more frightening?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

Isn't war wonderful?

The latest from our "victory" in Falluja. (Video)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Higher mathematics

Numbers like these for the costs of war make me sick, when I think of the uses to which such sums could be put back here in America. When I say, "sick," I mean actually nauseous, because not only are such monies diverted from our own benefit, they're burned up, literally, with no payoff to anyone and with evil consequences for the environment as well as the concept of peace. Awful, ugly, sickening.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Where's the outrage?

Have we grown so tired of stories like this that we're now immune to disgust? (The kicker, at the end of the article, is that we've lately extended the bastards' contract.)

Friday, November 06, 2009

McGovern and me

I guess I'm not crazy, saying that we should get our troops out of Afghanistan immediately. If I am, I'm in good company.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Accidental history

I wonder if this would work for our troops' withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan. A jumbled remark at a general's news conference, and all our troops would climb aboard their HumVees and drive out of the countries. It works for me.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

About running

Besides fretting over the militarist and fiscally perverse state of our nation (and the equally troubling emotional state of this author), I also spend quite a bit of time running. I've been running regularly since I was 37 (in 1977), averaging, probably, 1000 miles a year. I run mostly for the good feeling I get when I do it (and to avoid that bad feeling I get when I don't), and rarely run in "races," such as the many local 10-kilometer events here in SB. I've run in about ten such races over my "career," mostly 10-k's, but a few longer events, too.

I've had my share of running injuries over the years, and so this NYT article, describing a new book about running, caught my eye. It appears to criticize the effect on injuries of these many new-fangled running shoes, with their various cushionings and supports and seems to foster the idea of minimalizing footwear to avoid running injuries.

Well, here's the deal. About five years ago, after undergoing a series of foot injuries that sidelined me for weeks at a time, I decided to try something different. Instead of lacing up my running shoes--New Balance brand, not too intricate in features--as tightly as I had all my life, I decided to lace them so loosely that they almost came off my feet as I ran. I'd always tightly laced my shoes--all types of shoes--because, I suppose, that's what my mother did when she tied my shoes back in my pre-shoe-tying days.

The result of loose-tying of my shoes: No foot injuries in the years that have followed. Not a one. True, I occasionally get other pains--a tight hamstring, a sore lower back--but not a twinge of foot pain. And so--I think I'll buy this fellow's book.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Even if we don't know why they hate us...

here's a good sign of how much they hate us.

And now for something not very different...

and don't say I didn't tell you so.

Where's the beef?

Here's a letter to the editor of the SB News-Press that I submitted yesterday. I'll update this post when/if it's published.

UPDATE: The letter was published on Friday, October 23, 2009.

We’re being told that improvement in the “real economy” (that’s us, folks) won’t begin until Americans start spending again. But we can’t spend more unless we have more, and that means we need more jobs and better pay. But those increases are dependent upon improvement in the “real economy.” Do you get it? We’re caught in an economic loop, a “jobless recovery,” where only the money-changers’ pockets benefit—just like the one we suffered through during the Bush years.

There’s this difference, however. Whereas over the last decade Americans were able (and induced) to borrow against their homes and credit cards to spur spending, now we can’t. We’re already maxed out (or more), while our home values are declining, our mortgage payments increasing and our credit limits shrinking.

What about all those billions (or is it trillions?) that were poured into the banks and their insurers during the last year? Well, it turns out they haven’t “trickled down” after all, unless you’re one of their CEO’s or shareholders. But job growth? Nada. And an increase in real wages and salaries of workers? No way. Indeed, we’re still losing jobs at a monstrous rate, and wages are still in decline. Only the stock market is rising—and that’s merely an increase from a panic-driven bottom. In short, all that’s happened over the last year can be captured in a single word: Nothing.

To quote Bette Davis, “Fasten your seatbelts, we’re in for a bumpy night.”

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Brevity rocks

I get a kick out of slogans--I'm no literary or intellectual snob--especially those that appear on bumperstickers carrying terse, pithy messages. I'm not talking about "My kid's an honor student..." stickers, and certainly not "God bless America." But "The more people I meet, the more I love my dog" is, to me, priceless. And my latest discovery: "All who wander are not lost."

Monday, October 12, 2009

One man, one vote?

Is this really a good idea in view of these folks, our fellow citizens and sign-makers?

Monday, October 05, 2009

MacMuseum?

Say it isn't so. What's the next site: The Sistine Chapel?

You think I'm kidding?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Why do they hate us?

Here's one reason.

He said it best...

I don't agree with Tom Friedman about many things (especially his favorable view of economic "globalism"), but I must admit he's a hell of a writer, with whom I agree on this point: Our national discourse has become ruinous of serious and effective democratic reflection. After a finely-pointed comparison to a similar condition in Israel some years ago, he concludes:

The American political system was, as the saying goes, “designed by geniuses so it could be run by idiots.” But a cocktail of political and technological trends have converged in the last decade that are making it possible for the idiots of all political stripes to overwhelm and paralyze the genius of our system.
Those factors are: the wild excess of money in politics; the gerrymandering of political districts, making them permanently Republican or Democratic and erasing the political middle; a 24/7 cable news cycle that makes all politics a daily battle of tactics that overwhelm strategic thinking; and a blogosphere that at its best enriches our debates, adding new checks on the establishment, and at its worst coarsens our debates to a whole new level, giving a new power to anonymous slanderers to send lies around the world. Finally, on top of it all, we now have a permanent presidential campaign that encourages all partisanship, all the time among our leading politicians.
I would argue that together these changes add up to a difference of degree that is a difference in kind — a different kind of American political scene that makes me wonder whether we can seriously discuss serious issues any longer and make decisions on the basis of the national interest.

What bullshit!

Multiple signs of recovery? My ass. Job losses continue unabated, as do the hours of work and amount of pay. Income disparities are growing, not shrinking; gas prices are headed upward again, inflation is on the way and the value of the dollar is tanking.

Obama was sold a bill of goods by his Wall Street advisors that counseled unmonitored "trickle down" economics. The worst is still to come, brothers. This "recovery" is a chimera, a fake boom fueled by the government's infusion of funds into banks and big corporations, who are reporting big profits rather than trickling the money down into the hands of the people.

You heard it here first. Actually, not first. Seven-hundredth. We're in for years of ugly recession, and in the short term for another deadly bounce off the bottom.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Great fun!

Here's a link on a site that offers strings of quotes from an oldtime radio program named "Pat Novak for Hire." It starred Jack Webb (pre-"Dragnet") and was set in San Francisco, where Webb played a hard-boiled private investigator. The dialog, much of it captured in these quotes, was Raymond Chandler cubed, at least cubed. Give some of the episodes a click and read as many of the quotes as you can before falling out of your chair in glee.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Karzai ballots

Hmm. What was your first clue the election was rigged?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Arranging deckchairs...?

I know that the Titanic metaphor is a much-used one, but I'm getting that sensation with Obama's administration. Fiddling while Rome burns? Closing the barn door after the cows have split? Whatever, you pick. His ramping up in Afghanistan, his equivocation about military tribunals, his billions to banks and AIG, his backing down on healthcare, his constant failure of meaningful leadership--among many things, lead me to despair of hope for a significant change in America's course. Could it be that Obama's out for a plaque somewhere. Is he--like Bill Clinton--so needy, so yearning for universal adoration that principle plays no part in his decision-making? Is he, after all, just another politician?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Robots that lie to each other

This article explains why we need religion, even if there's no god.

Friday, August 14, 2009

I coulda told ya

Two weeks ago I was camping along the migration route of Sockeye salmon--one evening on the Olympic Peninsula side, one evening on the Vancouver Island side--and there was talk of a "thinner" run of fish. "Thinner" was the word the lady on the Canadian side used, as I recall. Turns out she wasn't exaggerating, not at all.

How awfully sad.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Barack, I hardly know ye

Here's another one of my letters to the editor of the SB NewsPress. I'll update with info if it's published in the hardcopy paper.

Update: The letter appeared in the NewsPress on August 5, 2009.

To the editor:

A liberal’s assessment of Obama’s brief tenure.

His Sotomayor nomination rocks. However…

The economy. I grant that he’s not had nearly enough time to reverse the disastrous impact of decades of America’s profligate, credit-addicted consumption, but he’s hearkening to the same persons and institutions to effect “change” that created and fed on those now-entrenched cultural/economic memes. While he seeks to improve our financial straits—to constrain our unregulated markets, to cure our loss of decent-paying jobs and widening earnings disparities—there’s little prospect of stemming America’s decline so long as he employs the tools crafted by the same folks who wrecked—and profited from the wreckage of—our nation’s economy.

Our “security.” His rhetoric occasionally feels satisfying, but his actions—the buildup in Afghanistan/Pakistan, the still-growing Pentagon budget, the continuing secrecy—are doggedly similar to those of his predecessors. He also promotes America’s global-policing role, thereby energizing the “military-industrial complex” that Eisenhower warned about five decades ago. Indeed, but for his recent (and politically safe) elimination of some Pentagon-derided F-22’s, Obama’s foreign/military policy appears as pugnacious as Reagan’s.

Surely he’s too well schooled to be ignorant of an acutely salient lesson of history: empires invariably decline due to consumptive over-indulgence and militaristic over-reach. Therefore, his failure to activate true “change” must be the result of something in his character that is ultimately ruinous of meaningful achievement: fear.

After suffering through eight years of an executive who acted through ignorant arrogance, must we now endure one who suffers from informed cowardice?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Well, whadda you know!

The feds are finally getting back to some serious antitrust enforcement. It's actually quite a modest start. By way of background (not related in the NYT story), the loosening of antitrust enforcement began many years before Bush II, with the slow turning away by the US Supreme Court from truly aggressive rulings favoring competition between businesses as the means to create a healthy climate for the marketplace. The "Chicago school" (based on Milton Friedman's concept of unrestrained capitalism) took over, the most salient disciple of which was Professor (now federal appellate judge) Richard Posner and influenced the course of judicial as well as administrative decision-making, creating the doctrine that consumers benefit more from economies and efficiencies of scale than from competition among equals. There began a long history of approvals of huge mergers that created "too big to fail" entities: not just banks but conglomerates that spanned many business arenas.





Well, maybe we've learned that "bigness is badness," to repeat an adage that used to dominate antitrust thinking. I hope so, because it has gotten so that entry into some low-investment businesses is becoming prohibitively costly, almost impossible. With high rentals of huge malls, massive chains of retailers and suppliers, how, really, could a small entrepreneur begin, for example, a sandwich shop or a burger joint? What about a carpeting outlet or a clothing stor?





As I said, a modest start, but a start toward once reducing the power of the monied and vested interests in America.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Okay, I'll chime in

I've been quiet for a while, I know. My laptop died, and I'm awaiting a new one. Also, there's been so much noise on the airwaves about the election protests in Iran that I feel rationality has been muted, although I've not been without my own ideas on the subject. Here they are, extended and stated much better than I could by Professor Juan Cole.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Good for Britain

Looks like they're going to investigate pre-Iraq-war shenanigans. Let's hope it's a thorough study, and that it shows the Bush administration's role in that tragedy.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I'm grateful that somebody's watching

because otherwise I wouldn't have been able to follow the US "timetable" for withdrawal from Iraqi cities by the end of this month, and from Iraq by 2012. The answer: don't count on either.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Iran's democracy

It was on Bush's "axis of evil," but when it comes to presidential debates, it beats our version hands down.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

"New beginnings"

I just watched Obama's speech in Cairo. I teared up at the end. I realize now why I voted for the guy, and why I'm proud that we elected him our president. In case you missed it, and want to be moved, here's a link to the C-Span presentation of it.

http://www.c-span.org/Watch/Media/2009/06/04/HP/R/19357/Pres+Obama+Speaks+to+the+Muslim+World+From+Cairo.aspx

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Norman Lear speaks

Not just a fine creator, an oracle. This video is directed to the first President Bush:

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I couldn't resist

Here's another letter I wrote to the SB NewsPress, which, if it's published I'll be surprised and will update accordingly.

To the editor:

A few days ago, George W. Bush gave a speech to the graduating class of a New Mexico high school. It was the first time ever that he said something with which I heartily agree, and so I cannot help but pass it on. Commenting on what it felt like now that he was no longer President of the United States, he said, "frankly, it's a liberating feeling."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sometimes you find an essay that says it

better than you can. Howard Zinn's is such an essay (actually, transcribed from a speech).

Monday, May 11, 2009

Good news

I used to be a knowledgeable antitrust lawyer. Back in the day, I prosecuted class-action lawsuits against price-fixers in the bread business and the title insurance industry; I fought tie-in sales and market-allocation schemes on behalf of consumers and small businesses. I used to know the law in these areas and I used it, I think, to positive effect.

But over the years the law eroded, erosion caused by both the opinons of a neglectful US Supreme Court and an indifferent bunch of enforcers in the federal government, from the Department of Justice Antitrust Division to the Federal Trade Commission.

Now, finally, this will change. Perhaps because of a realization that the prior policies have caused the phenomenon of "too big to fail" corporations, perhaps because of the dominating impact of some segments of our economy upon our national wellbeing--we're in for some serious re-thinking of our antitrust policy. It's long overdue, but it's welcome.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

I'm worried, very worried...

Without citing a score of essays which say what I'm about to, I tremble when I think of the prospect of a new round of economic decay based on the collapse of commercial real-estate paper, credit-card paper and related gambling slips (derivatives). There are thousands of commercial mortgage- and lease-defaults as well as millions of consumer-debt defaults imminent, which, together with a new round of residential mortgage defaults as "teaser" mortgages re-set, will cause the bank bastards to return to Congress with a bigger hat in hand, and this time there may not be the majority to support their bailout.

If that happens--and it's likely--we're in for a long, hard slog, and worse.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Does David Brooks have something here?

If so--as to this writer--ouch!

Very interesting cyber-development

It's certainly worthwhile, but I wonder if it can tell me where I left my wallet, and a related question, why did I come into this room?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Specter's switch

A rat deserting? A reader of wall-writing? A come-to-Jesus-er? A flip-flopper? Does it matter why, so long as 60 votes, counting Franken and sans Lieberman, are assured?

What's it all about, Alfie?

When Michael Caine is considering leaving Britain because of the prospect of its increasing its tax rate on the highest incomes, we know the end of civilization is near. Except, as you'll note from the body of the article, he's done it before, as have many of Britain's leading actors in the past.

Question: What do Americans who earn those obscenely high incomes do to avoid income tax? Could it be?--yes, it could--that the US tax rate for the wealthy is relatively low? Could it be?--yes, it could--that our tax system has built-in devices for avoiding or deferring tax that aren't available in other systems? Could it be?--yes, it could--that even as we struggle with enormous government deficits, we are a tax haven?

Here's the Telegraph article that's referred to in the above blog.

Now wait a goddam minute!

This worldwide recession thing is getting really scary when it leads to this.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Two and a half questions

First, why do I continue to follow national/global politics with such relish when nothing I do, or can do, affects them; nor do they affect me?

Second, plus one-half: Since I acknowledge that there are forces/concepts/entities in the "universe" that my mind doesn't comprehend, how is it that I am so firmly of the belief that there is no god/God? A corollary: Isn't such a belief of the same merit, based on exactly the same lack of data, as a belief that there is one?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Rats and ships

This asshole, Richard Posner, is now leaping off the free-for-all capitalistic bandwagon. Google him and you'll find him somewhere to the right of Ayn Rand, a free-market monster who's many books and essays were the keystone of the U of Chicago School of Law and Economics, to wit: Whatever business does is good. Period. What a fraud he is, and a dumb one at that.

Friday, April 10, 2009

This is scary to me

Reuters reports that today (Friday, 4/10) Obama is holding a meeting to see whaddup with the recent "stress tests" of the major banks that we've poured our billions into. These tests, I understand, are to determine to what extent the banks are viable commercial entities, worthy of our continued bailout. But look at who's in the meeting: Summers, Geithner, Bernanke--the ususal suspects. My fear about whether Obama is getting the "rest of the story," as Paul Harvey used to say, is buttressed by Obama's admission, during a 60-Minutes interview, that he'd had to forego much outside reading lately, relying chiefly of his staffs' "briefing books."

I think he'd be better served reading Newsweek or Common Dreams, or Truthout--any place that presents a different view: that the traditional banks, having so depleted themselves by immersion in fantasy debt instruments, are valueless and that it's time to admit it and deal with it by tearing them into viable commercial banks, holding depositors' deposits and investing them prudently. In other words, Obama, be a man, take a stand. It's no longer business as usual in the business of money-changing. It's time to throw the money-changers out of the temple and get on with truthful earning and responsible, fair and decent investing.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

A hanging offense

No, better yet: For Halliburton's KBR--electrocution.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Long, but to the point

An astute, devastating analysis of the world economic downturn by Simon Johnson in the Atlantic, not for the faint of heart, but for the revolutionary, really good stuff.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Friday, April 03, 2009

And now for some fun

Check out Bush/Cheney's latest approval ratings.

Oh ye of little faith

Let's see: Krugman says Obama's plans aren't socialist enough. Stiglitz agrees, and adds that they're not big enough. Two Nobel laureattes in economics. And Sarkozy of France, at the London summit, says the Gang (oops, Group) of 20's plans aren't revolutionary enough.

Who you going to believe, them or your lying eyes?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Am I missing something?

Why isn't Ralph Nader's solution to the burgeoning federal deficit the "fair and balanced"--and obvious--answer?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Letter to the News-Press editor

Here's a letter I wrote to the Santa Barbara News-Press. I'll update this post if and when it gets published. Update: It was published on March 29, 2009.


I'm a Kool-Aid swigging Obama-devotee and therefore, on balance, I think he's doing his best, given that the Bush administration dealt him the ugliest possible hand. The operative words, however, are "his best,” because, not being a dictator, he still confronts—and so far has well adapted to—political realities, including, among others, the instinctive recalcitrance of blue-dog Democrats to “liberal” ideas, the sniping intolerance of Foxcasters to anything posited by any Democrat, and the fear-based resistance of embedded capitalists to any proposal that constrains their greed.

But two facets of Obama’s leadership nevertheless trouble me. First, his accommodation of the military. To be sure, it's early in his tenure, but I yearn to hear from Obama what President Eisenhower acknowledged in his farewell address, namely, that our nation is in the grips of a military-industrial complex that must be reined in, and that it is as much the cause of, as it is the solution to, our international problems. And second, his assumption that we might spend our way out of our present economic malaise. Rather, I want him to express, fully and frankly, that America’s decades-long materialist madness, fed by its addictive credit-reliance, both of which are promoted by mass media to engorge corporate profit—are over. I want Obama to tell us what we Americans must learn anew—because when America began, we knew it—namely, that in order to prosper we must live within our borders and our means.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I'm frightened

I'm no economist, that's for sure, but it's possible the Obama people are treating our financial problems as stemming from a "liquidity crisis" as opposed to what some experts, including Paul Krugman, deem an "insolvency crisis." The difference, as explained (and predicted as long ago as the fall of 2007) by Nouriel Roubini is critical. It means, in essence, that all the money we're throwing at the banks to make them "liquid"--with money to lend--isn't going to deal with the fundamental issue: they're broke.

A word to the wise...

Three words, actually: Look out below!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Wait and see

Let's hope the US under Obama treats the new leftist government of El Salvador with civility. A good early test of the administration's posture on South and Central America and their moves to the left.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The second amendment

When I read a story like this, it makes me certain that until guns are banned altogether, I better get one myself.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ohmigod

Check out Obama's Saturday address (video). It doesn't get any better than this.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I hate to bring this up, but..

the death of US troops in Iraq is continuing unabated, at about fifteen per month for the last several months, including three soldiers killed yesterday in Diyala Province. And, of course, not a peep about this in the corporate media.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Gee, Officer Krupke

I actually watched this on Your Hit Parade on "live" television (as if there were any other kind). It was a marvel at the time, spellbinding. We'd wait and wonder what song was atop the "hit parade" each week. No wonder I'm fucked up.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

No wonder Bill Clinton's got religion

In his home state, an atheist can't hold public office or testify in court, as explicitly stated in the Arkansas constitution. Omigod!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

An observation about the Republican "opposition"

Only three out of more than 230 Republican legislators in the US Congress voted in favor of the "stimulus package." Their plain intent was to vote "no" so that should the economy continue its downward spiral they would be in a position to claim "I told you so." And, if it needs to be said, it is likely the downward spiral will continue, possibly to the bottom, because of self-reinforcing effects of the disastrous policies adopted by our lawmakers over the last several years.

Here's an example of such a spiral. We've long known that the production of beef as a foodstuff for humans in a monstrously wasteful use of the planet's resources because of the fuels and materials to feed the cattle, butcher them, transport and market the meat. Indeed, there is no facet of that industry that isn't bloated with excess input, compared to the caloric result in the form of human food. However, Americans' fixation on meat is almost hard-wired, a product of centuries of dominance of the agriculture and cattle industries in our nation.

At the same time, we've found that the worldwide demand for petroleum products to run our transport and industry has driven many to turn to "biofuels" as a source of energy, with, however, the consequence that the increased demand for corn and grain to make biofuels has driven up the price of the very products that for years have been used as fodder for both beef cattle and dairy herds. Indeed, of late, California dairy farmers have been killing their dairy cows because (1) the worldwide recession has driven down the price they get for milk, while (2) the cost to feed the dairy cows has increased beyond the price the milk demands on the open market. Result: Farmers are simply killing their cattle because they can't afford to keep feeding them for either milk production or beef. And of course with the diminished amounts of money in the hands of consumers due to the economic downturn, the prospect of an increased demand for such foodstuffs anytime soon is unlikely at best, so that the cattle-reduction, for both beef and milk, will likely continue for some time, possibly until that industry too becomes a recession liability.

Bottom line: The Republicans may have made the right political choice in opposing the stimulus. They've so wrecked the world economy--they've created so many ruinous loops like the cattle-debacle--that the smart money is indeed riding on failure of the stimulus, and they can regain credibility, if not governing status, by having opposed it.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Now wait a minute...

can this be true? KBR is still getting contracts in Iraq--and for electrical work? I thought Cheney was out of office.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Change we can believe in?

Well, so much for grassroots enthusiasm, if attendance at the recently-organized house parties is any indication.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The height of hypocrisy

Now that the turnover to Iraqi control of the thousands of detainees that the US has held for years in its prisons in Iraq is imminent, suddenly we're concerned that their government might not afford the detainees "due process of law." Right. Just like we did to them while we held them, and just like we've done to the detainees we held in our worldwide network of prisons, including Gitmo.

We've lost our moral standing on this issue, as on most issues, as a consequence of eight years of brutal, bullying Bushies, and it's going to take a long time to get back any credibility among the world's peoples, I believe. We've made a start with the election of Obama, but now we've got to act on it, decisively.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I'm no economist, but

this analysis, and the solutions posed therein, sound right to me.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The endless "war on terror."

Our children and grandchildren will still be fighting terrorists in the Middle East and elsewhere as long as our "ally" Israel continues to kill and maim in the region. It was the unconditional support our many administrations have given to Israel's occupation and domination in the area of Palestine that was one of bin Laden's chief reasons for attacking the "infidel." So now, after all the efforts to tamp down anti-American sentiment in the Middle East (as counterproductive as they have been), there is added this latest outrage in Gaza.

If we are to succeed in reducing hatred for America in the region and a reduction of violence against us from those who are suffering death and destruction there, we've got to rein in Israel.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Isn't this grand?

Animals are trying to adapt to the predatory ways of humans--fish becoming smaller to pass through our gill nets, elephants losing their tusks to avoid poachers--but they can't keep up. We're killing them off anyway.

Monday, January 12, 2009

WTF?

I thought, silly me, that by virtue of the Status of Forces Agreement that came into effect as of January 1, 2009, all "detainees" being held by US forces in Iraq were to be turned over to Iraqi authority and subjected to Iraqi sovereignty and Iraqi law, which specifically provided that such prisoners be either charged with a crime or, if not charged, released. Well, it turns out, not so fast. The US is still holding thousands of them and now wants to qualify the SOFA provisions to allow for continued detention without charge.

If I don't trust our government to abide by our agreements, why should foreigners?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

"Fair and balanced"

The "democratic" government of Iraq has decreed that press credentials for covering its upcoming provincial elections will be issued only to members of the press who sign an oath to provide accurate accounts of the elections. I guess the democracy we installed there didn't read our first amendment.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

More doggerel

Hue-ing the line

On TV, it's Oprah,
She's king of the hill.
In movies, it's Denzel,
Or maybe it's Will.

In tennis, a Williams,
Except when it's two.
In golf, there's no question.
You know, you know who.

In roundball, a toss-up,
'Tween Kobe, LeBron.
In football, McNabb--
On a day when he's on.

And now, not just Condi and Colin:
Barack.
All of which means, trust me,
Black's the new black.


Ennui

It's not that there's nothing going on. We've got a wrecked economy, bombing in Gaza, wars everywhere, political spats galore--on top of all the crap that predated these events. So why am I unenthused, unmotivated to blog about any of this? Could it be that, as Bill Murray chanted to the campers in the movie Meatballs, "It just doesn't matter"? That none of this matters, not even Obama's election, and certainly not Al Franken's? Could it be that our planet, with all of us aboard, is hurtling through space and we're simply clinging to it like ants on a boulder? Feels like it, doesn't it?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

"Negotiating with Extreme Prejudice"

That's the title of this piece on Time magazine's blog. Its analysis concludes that Hamas will consider it a victory, a la Hizballah in Lebanon two years ago, if it can hold onto power even after Israel's invasion comes to an end. Kinda like Rocky becoming a hero by surviving his fight with Apollo Creed. The difference, of course, is that only Rocky got maimed in the movie.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Raul Castro speaks

and I, an expectant American liberal, am listening. I too hope that Obama's expressions aren't just that. Can America change, truly change, from a dominating empire to a peaceloving, decent, soft-spoken nation? We'll see.