Saturday, September 27, 2008

I ask myself daily:

What kind of world are we leaving for our children? Reading the tea leaves is a bit tricky, but I do think that a study of various dystopian scenarios is well advised.

"Land of the Free" (a short film by John Jensen, h/t ddjango):

Haley's Nose, America 2009 - a serial in seven parts: A GoodJob Day in America; Defense Secretary William Boykin frowned. "Eleven?"; God's wayward Children of Israel; "The Citizen Defenders Program, Sir"; Without the Jews, We have no Rapture; Welcome America's very first Citizen Defender; The Department of Chastity and Doctrine. See also from the same author at a different blog, Artichoke Circus.

I'm of course a fan of such novels as Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World. The graphic novel V for Vendetta would also be worth an examination. As for movies - if you have the funds to afford to rent a DVD (perhaps a luxury in these desperate times), might I suggest the film adaptation of V for Vendetta, as well as George Lucas' THX-1138 and the Terry Gilliam classic Brazil? Also highly recommended is the regrettably canceled television series Jericho. One can still watch full episodes at its CBS site for the time being - and of course if one has access to the relevant funds, one might also get the DVDs for both seasons.

None of the above will make for happy reading or viewing - but bleak times call for a clarion call, lest the eventual reality equals or surpasses fictitious dystopian scenarios.

Blast from the past: A dream

Something I wrote a couple years ago that in light of recent events seemed worthy of a reprise:
I had a dream last night that has continued to haunt me all day. Although hardly long-lasting, it was vivid enough in its own right.

I was basically walking, grocery items in hand, and stumbled upon a riot. Think of the images of the late 1990s WTO protests. People were all over the place. A number of men were taking whatever items they could find to smash windows and break down doors to buildings that I suppose had until recently housed the workings - financial and political - of what many of us consider "civilization."

What was most striking was the vibe of the whole scenario, as well as my reaction to what was going on. The atmosphere was not especially angry or intense. I saw no violence to speak of. In fact there was almost a block party element to the proceedings. Near where I was standing, right in the middle of the street, some couches that had apparently been looted at some point in the recent past were being occupied by various people conversing - young and old, male and female, various ethnicities, some quite counterculture in their outward appearance, others appearing as if they had until recently had a stake in whatever system had once existed. There was no traffic noise to be heard, although there were plenty of cars to be found parked. Whatever law enforcement or military presence that I happened upon seemed minimal and stifled. I wondered if they were even still on some payroll or were merely standing around out of habit.

My own reaction to the whole thing was nonchalant - this was apparently the norm (perhaps explaining why I was walking rather than driving as I usually do). I merely went about my route. Whatever constituted "western civilization" in that particular urban corner of America had fallen it appeared, and it seemed as if life went on.
See also Connectedness, from around the same period.

When constituents don't want legislation by a margin of 100-1,

the rational thing to do would be to back off - that of course would assume we still had a functioning representative government. Instead, as I am pretty sure I've mentioned at least once or twice in the past, we in the US live in what is at bare minimum as failing state, if not an outright failed state. One symptom of failing states is that those in the governing classes refuse to listen to the very people they are supposed to represent. The Great American Swindle of 2008 is but one example. Apparently, according to this article:
However, there were also reports that some legislators' phones were ringing off the hook with irate voters opposing any bailout - and out-calling supporters of the deal by 100-1.
And yet, in that same article, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is stating that the process for approving the swindle is "back on track."

Personally, I'm not particularly surprised. I expect some kabuki theatre before the deal is eventually done, and we regular working stiffs will be left holding the bag. What we will witness is yet another transfer of wealth from those who can least afford it to the wealthiest elites. We've certainly witnessed plenty of such transfers already as the military-industrial and prison-industrial complexes have grown exponentially over the last few decades, and as the neoliberal push to "privatize" all manner of public services has turned the agencies once managing them into mere storefronts for private corporations bent more on turning profits than serving taxpayers.

What I can say with some degree of confidence is that such wealth transfers as the one being pushed by the White House, some of the power players in Congress, and media pundits hoping to manufacture consent, tend to be very unpopular with those who did not ask for such swindles, and who will most certainly be the victims. As I mentioned earlier this week, what is being forced upon us is nothing short of the same "shock therapy" that has been pushed upon the populaces of various other nations in South and Central America, Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe; and if history is any guide, while a few will profit, for the rest of us we can look forward to a further crumbling infrastructure, a decline in quality of life, increased numbers of displaced persons, and increasingly repressive measures by the government as these angry folks begin to protest.

This is a crisis of legitimacy, folks. In this case, it's the White House and Congress that have squandered their legitimacy, as have the crooks running Wall Street. We don't need them. They need us, but to repeat, we don't need them.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"Well, she's turned me into a newt!"

Jonathan Schwarz has the goods so we'll start with him:

Here's witch-hunting preacher Thomas Muthee praying over Sarah Palin in 2005 (video below, starting about 7:30):

MUTHEE: When we talk about transformation of a community, we are talking about God invading seven areas in our society...When we talk about transformation of a society, a community, it’s where we see God’s Kingdom infiltrate, influence seven areas in our society.

Number one is the spiritual aspect of our society...

[T]he second area whereby God wants to penetrate in our society is in the economic area....It is high time that we have top Christian businessmen, businesswomen, bankers...If you look at the Israelites, you know, that’s how they won. And that’s how they are, even today...

[T]he third area, it’s in the area of politics...I’m asking you today, we are asking you as the body of Christ in this valley, make a way for Sara...Make her way my God. Bring finances her way, even in the campaign in the name of Jesus...We want righteousness in this state. We want righteousness in this nation....We come in the hindrance of the enemy, standing in her way to there. In the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus! Every form of witchcraft, it will be rebuked in the name of Jesus.

Here's the video if you wish to view for yourself.

Suffice it to say, I'm not surprised that there are still folks out there who actually believe that there are witches - or who still think practices such as exorcism are good ideas. Nor am I all that surprised that there are plenty of right-wingers who are glad to act as apologists for anyone selling that particular brand of snake oil. On the one hand, I can't help but find something farcical about both the video clip above and Bill Donohue's lunatic ravings:

Unfortunately, for those who end up targeted by witch hunters, the results are anything but humorous - quite potentially deadly, as it turns out. So what's next? Shall the Malleus Maleficarum come back in vogue in the US, with the potential future Veep's blessing? I guess a few good old-fashioned Salem-style witch hunts would get everyone's minds off the empire's imminent collapse, while the elites continue to loot what's left of the treasure, and would undoubtedly play to our culture's continued hostility toward and fear of women (it's amazing how often "witches" end up being women).

Oh and about the title - not to worry: I got better. And the chorus chants "burn her any way!"

One good thing has come from McCain's "campaign suspension"

Jon Swift, who temporarily suspended blogging activities to solve all the world's problems, is back.

Word on the street

is that there may be some bailout opponents protesting in DC, as well they should. I may not be there physically, but man am I there in spirit. From what I know of what's happened to citizens in countries whose governments have imposed "shock therapy" on them, the outcomes are uniformly awful for everyone except the ruling classes.

Update: Here is some coverage of one of the protests in NYC.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The swindlers are so close to their goal that they can taste it

I ended up seeing Bush's televised appearance this evening. Needless to say, that's about 10-15 minutes I'll never get back. The first thoughts that came to my mind while listening to Bush's words was of some kid back in the 9th grade who was running a craps game scam before school started. He'd play on the typical base emotions characterizing your average adolescent male: greed and fear. If the lure of a quick buck didn't work, this young "entrepreneur" would try to make his potential victims fearful of losing face (there's a certain amount of that fear anyway among young men brought up in cultures of honor). One morning, I was one of the kid's marks - I didn't have a good gut feeling to begin with, and right as that kid started working his magic - alternating quick cash with trash talk, a girl who knew me pretty well stepped in and called him out, and told me point blank that I should listen to my gut. I long ago forgot her name, but I remember her face like it was yesterday, and more importantly, I remember her actions, her words. She called a scam by its true name and she let the huckster know in no uncertain terms that he should be ashamed of himself. The 'hood was just rough enough to where what she did probably carried some risks, but she acted nonetheless. It's partially to honor her memory that I wish to do the same tonight with this blog.

The White House, with plenty of collaboration in Congress, is trying to rip you off. Bush, Paulson, and the rest of the henchmen are running a scam. All they have left to make their scam work is fear, which they're laying on thick. They should be ashamed of themselves. The won't be, of course; but they should be. As my esse Anthony noted in the comments to a previous post, the $700 billion is merely the tip of the iceberg - the total transfer of wealth to the ruling class is more like $1.7 trillion.

This is the same sort of scam that ruling elites used when imposing University of Chicago-style "Shock Therapy" on such nations as Chile in the early 1970s, as well as numerous other nations in the Americas, Russia, and Eastern Europe throughout the 1970s and into the 1990s. What "shock therapy" amounted to was a transfer of wealth to the rich, the hollowing out of whatever government services had once existed, and the mass unemployment and displacement of large portions of each nation's population. Not too surprisingly, the newly impoverished did not take too kindly to such economic regimes imposed by duress, and would take to the streets. Equally unsurprising was the standard governmental response: mass disappearances, torture, genocide. If there's any silver lining to be found, it's that these regimes do tend to eventually get overthrown - though not until the joint's been looted and a lot of corpses litter the ground.

What I'm about to say I say so quite dispassionately: there is a very real possibility that this is now our fate. The pattern seems too familiar. We can view the various pieces of "anti-terrorism" legislation - starting with the Clinton regime, and accelerated under the current Bush regime - as preparation for the "crisis". Once a critical mass feels some very real pain - and I'm not talking about merely not affording that shiny new iPod, but such basics as food and shelter - the legal mechanisms needed to be in place in an attempt to coerce the populace into submission. One can also interpret the recent news that the US is committing an Army brigade to "homeland security" stateside, as preparation as well. For those curious, I'm sure the usual trappings of a republic will remain - I doubt there'll be martial law per se or cancellation of elections. The latter are needed to keep the ruse of "democracy" alive a bit longer. If the swindlers are able to pull this off, a lot of folks are going to be hurting and will be very angry, and I wouldn't be surprised if we start getting word of "disappearances" here in the "land of the free." After all, the Prez has the power to declare such malcontents as "enemy combatants." I would expect that protests will be more brutally dealt with - the scene of the RNC in St. Paul a few weeks ago serves as a harbinger.

All I can say is be shock resistant. That is really our only hope at this point. Don't expect a knight in shining armor to rescue you at the very last minute. There are no saviors: we only have ourselves and each other. Keep calling things by their true names. And bear in mind, ideas are bulletproof. My favorite idea - that the ruling class needs us much more than we need them - is especially bulletproof.

Be well and stay alert.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Here's what you could buy with $700 Billion

Eli sez:
$700 billion, divvied up into modest but decent salaries of $50,000 (enough to help someone make a mortgage payment!), pays for 14 million jobs. In reality, it does far more. Because if you give $50,000 to a working person (or a formerly unemployed person, more to the point), they're likely to spend every penny, on groceries, rent, gas, whatever. Meaning that every cent goes back into the economy with a "multiplier effect," producing even more jobs.
A "flow-up" plan rather than a "trickle-down" plan. Needless to say, it won't be considered.
Oh, no, we couldn't have that, now. It would be "socialism". Giving to the CEOs who caused the mess is such a better investment, and even if there is a striking resemblance to welfare in Paulson's plan, it is simply insufficiently PC to call it that.

It's unanimous

No one in the US believes the economy is getting better. Fancy that.

Murdered by capitalism

Usually it's the workers who get murdered. This time it was one of the capitalists.

We write letters

Found on the internet tubes:
Hidden in an article reporting that Cheney's going to go hunt up some support for the $700,000,000,000 bailout is this admission that the Bush Administration has been sitting on it for some time:
Fratto insisted that the plan was not slapped together and had been drawn up as a contingency over previous months and weeks by administration officials. He acknowledged lawmakers were getting only days to peruse it, but he said this should be enough. [my emphasis]
Which raises three questions for me:
A) First, as we'll discuss today in the book salon on Woodward's War Within, the Bush Administration refused to admit Iraq was FUBAR even while, for seven months, they were drumming up a new strategy because it was FUBAR. They did so because they didn't want to affect the mid-term elections. So has the Bush Administration been formulating a plan to bail out their buddies, in secret, because they didn't want to let the voters know how badly they had fucked up the American economy before November?
C) Or, did they simply not tell us about their fuck-up so they could spring the $700,000,000,000 surprise on us on a Friday and demand results by Monday? The Shock Doctrine at work!
Dear Emptywheel,

Yours truly, Don Durito

P.S.: Surely you're not surprised.

Richard Seymour (aka Lenin) on the Bailout

Let's just call it what it is: a scam. Here's Richard's take (with his characteristic droll wit):
The rich are beautiful people. They never set a foot wrong, and yet everyone is constantly out to get them: the haters, the whiners, the terrorists, the jealous, the hippies, the lefties, the liberals, the protesters, the welfare queens, the quakers, the bakers, the candlestick makers etc. You, hypocrite lecteur, have never actually tried to live their lives, yet you persist in finding them at fault for some putative flaws. You're just jealous of their freedom. The latest challenge faced by the rich is that their mega-welfare-handout might not be processed through the system as rapidly as they had anticipated. The reason is that there might actually be some slight reflex in the state that still demands legislative review and judicial oversight.

Apparently, there are some little flaws to the proposed bail-out that cynics might carp about. For one thing it really does look like a parachute for the empire, in that it will bail out any global financial institution that happens to have what Paulson deems 'significant' investments in the US economy, whether they are in deep trouble already or not. This looks like a move to consolidate America's faltering command of the financial system and to ensure that the global appropriation of labour continues to operate overwhelmingly in the interests of US capital. Secondly, there are no protections for homeowners or taxpayers, no limits on executive remuneration, no plans to stimulate the economy, and no demands for reciprocity (ie, we give you $700bn, you give us...). This is just throwing money at the ruling class. So, as one might have predicted, the crisis is being used to shore up the class power of the rich through a massive act of expropriation. Thirdly, so it seems, the legislation includes a clause ruling out executive or judicial oversight of any part of this wealth transfer. So, the state is taking the opportunity to enhance its ability to act on behalf of capital without accountability.

Obama initially backed the Bush administration, but is offering some opposition to the current plans. A slew of right-wing commentators are also opposed, on the grounds that they thought all this bullshit about the 'free market' and 'moral hazard' and 'accountability' was in some sense meaningful. Only the reactionary statists of the Bush administration could force 'fiscal conservatives' into the same corner as liberals and leftists. No wonder the markets rallied on hearing of the Bush administration's plans: the owners saw a naked attempt to restore profitability by jacking the taxpayer further, thus ensuring a future 'belt-tightening' period of restricted income for Americans workers. And now we have an interesting bit of blackmail to deal with: if the legislation doesn't pass very quickly and without amendment, the markets may tumble again, thus threatening jobs, growth and trade.
Rosa Luxemburg sez (h/t Mickey Z): “The first revolutionary act is to call things by their true names.”

This is nothing more than the ruling class trying to jack you, and using blackmail or whatever coercive actions deemed necessary to make sure you are the one left holding the bag.

Some humor for your Tuesday morning

Amazing at what makes the email rounds these days. I appreciate the humor - Paulson taking a cue from the Nigerian email scammers:
Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Paulson

Sometimes all one can do is laugh.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Applying "Shock Therapy" on the US Economy

So, do we let 'em? Good question. Here's Naomi Klein's latest, which breaks it down into plain English:

I wrote The Shock Doctrine in the hopes that it would make us all better prepared for the next big shock. Well, that shock has certainly arrived, along with gloves-off attempts to use it to push through radical pro-corporate policies (which of course will further enrich the very players who created the market crisis in the first place...).

The best summary of how the right plans to use the economic crisis to push through their policy wish list comes from Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich. On Sunday, Gingrich laid out 18 policy prescriptions for Congress to take in order to "return to a Reagan-Thatcher policy of economic growth through fundamental reforms." In the midst of this economic crisis, he is actually demanding the repeal of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which would lead to further deregulation of the financial industry. Gingrich is also calling for reforming the education system to allow "competition" (a.k.a. vouchers), strengthening border enforcement, cutting corporate taxes and his signature move: allowing offshore drilling.

It would be a grave mistake to underestimate the right's ability to use this crisis -- created by deregulation and privatization -- to demand more of the same. Don't forget that Newt Gingrich's 527 organization, American Solutions for Winning the Future, is still riding the wave of success from its offshore drilling campaign, "Drill Here, Drill Now!" Just four months ago, offshore drilling was not even on the political radar and now the U.S. House of Representatives has passed supportive legislation. Gingrich is holding an event this Saturday, September 27 that will be broadcast on satellite television to shore up public support for these controversial policies.

What Gingrich's wish list tells us is that the dumping of private debt into the public coffers is only stage one of the current shock. The second comes when the debt crisis currently being created by this bailout becomes the excuse to privatize social security, lower corporate taxes and cut spending on the poor. A President McCain would embrace these policies willingly. A President Obama would come under huge pressure from the think tanks and the corporate media to abandon his campaign promises and embrace austerity and "free-market stimulus."

We have seen this many times before, in this country and around the world. But here's the thing: these opportunistic tactics can only work if we let them. They work when we respond to crisis by regressing, wanting to believe in "strong leaders" - even if they are the same strong leaders who used the September 11 attacks to push through the Patriot Act and launch the illegal war in Iraq.

So let's be absolutely clear: there are no saviors who are going to look out for us in this crisis. Certainly not Henry Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, one of the companies that will benefit most from his proposed bailout (which is actually a stick up). The only hope of preventing another dose of shock politics is loud, organized grassroots pressure on all political parties: they have to know right now that after seven years of Bush, Americans are becoming shock resistant.

If ever there were a moment for the public to bumrush the show in DC, this is it.

Oh since I already embedded one DK video

Might as well add another. This one is called "Kinky Sex Makes the World Go Round" and uses as its backing track "Bleed For Me." It's been over two decades since this particular track made its way to the posthumous DK album, Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death, but change a few names and it seems every bit as timely as it was then.

And here's the lyric:
Greetings…this is the Secretary of War at the State Department of the United States…We have a problem. The companies want something done about this sluggish world economic situation…profits have been running a little thin lately and we need to stimulate some growth…now we know there’s an alarmingly high number of young people roaming around in your country with nothing to do but stir up trouble for the police and damage private property. It doesn’t look like they’ll ever get a job…It’s about time we did something constructive with these people…We’ve got thousands of ‘em here too. They’re crawling all over…The companies think it’s time we all sit down, have a serious get-together - start another war…The President? He loves the idea! All those missiles streaming overhead to and fro…Napalm…People running down the road, skin on fire…The Soviets seem up for it…The Kremlin’s been itching for the real thing for years: Hell, Afghanistan’s no fun…So whadya say?…We don’t even have to win this war. We just want to cut down on some of this excess population…Now look. Just start up a draft: Draft as many people as you can. We’ll call up every last youngster we can get our hands on, hand ’em some speed, give ‘em an hour or tow to learn how to use an automatic rifle and send ‘em on their way…Libya? El Salvador? How ‘bout Northern Ireland? Or a ‘moderately repressive regime’ in South America? We’ll just cook up a good Soviet threat story in the Middle East - we need that oil…We had Libya all ready to go and Colonel Khadafy’s hit squad didn’t even show up. I tell ya…That man in unreliable. The Kremlin had their fingers on the button just like we did for that one…Now just think for a minute - we can make this war so big - so big…The more people we kill in this war, the more the economy will prosper…We can get rid of practically everybody on your dole queues if we plan this right. Take every loafer on welfare right off our computer rolls…Now don’t worry about those demonstrators - just pump up your drug supply. So many people have hooked themselves on heroin and amphetamines since we took over, it’s just like Vietnam. We had everybody so busy with LSD they never got too strong. Kept the war functioning just fine…It’s easy. We’ve got out college kids so interested in beer they don’t even care if we start manufacturing germ bombs again. Put a nuclear stockpile in their back yard, they wouldn’t even know what it looked like…So how ‘bout it? Look - war is money. The arms manufacturers tell me unless we get our bomb factories up to full production the whole economy is going to collapse…The Soviets are in the same boat. We all agree the time has come for the big one, so whadya say?!?…that’s excellent. We knew you’d agree…The companies will be very pleased.

From the mailbag

Vote No Bailout!
We are witnessing a bankers' coup d’etat. In the name of saving the economy from a crisis created by their own greed and immense profits, the biggest bankers have taken a country and a people hostage.

“Give us your money and tear up what’s left of your Constitution or we will sink your economy,” is the message from Wall Street and the Bush Administration. “Give us the power and money we demand or you will be left jobless from a new economic depression."

Under the pretext of the banking crisis, the Bush Administration is changing the way this country operates. This is not simply taking trillions of dollars from the people and giving it to the richest bankers to do with as they see fit.

Click here to send your letter to Congress

Congress is poised to vote to give the Executive Branch of government, and specifically the White House’s political appointees in the Treasury Department, the absolute right to take our money and give it to domestic and foreign banks and corporations without any oversight of elected officials, from the courts, or from the people.

The new legislation states: “Decisions by the Secretary [of the Treasury] pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.” The Legislation allows the Treasury Department to appoint the same bankers who created the crisis to administer and dictate the use of trillions of our tax dollars.

We will not stand by and let the Bush Administration formalize its vision of a “government of, by and for the richest bankers."

The new system institutionalizes theft on a grand scale. Lehman Brothers bankers will receive $2.5 billion in bonuses after their company went bankrupt last week, but the new dictatorial authority under the White House and Treasury Department has ruled out any relief for the millions of working families who are being foreclosed.

We live in a $15 trillion annual economy. Instead of taking our tax dollars and giving it to the already rich and powerful, these funds should be used provide to decent paying jobs, affordable housing, health care and a good education for our children. There is another way!

Now is the time to hear the voice of the people. A spineless Congress authorized Bush’s illegal war in Iraq and rubber-stamped the Patriot Act. Now they are being herded like sheep again to give the White House and Wall Street dictatorial control over the people’s money.

Get the skinny on the scam

There are plenty of sane voices weighing in on the Great American Swindle still unfolding as of this writing. Richard of American Leftist had this to say yesterday:
Excellent coverage of the proposed bailout of the US financial system over at Counterpunch, with submissions by Michael Hudson, Pam Martens, Lila Rajiva, Mike Whitney, Richard Rhames and, of course, Alexander Cockburn. Such prompt left coverage of breaking events is one of the reasons that I donate to support the operation of that website. Anxiety has even infected one of the columnists at the Washington Post, with Sebastian Mallaby complaining that there are superior alternatives that would protect the interests of taxpayers.

Proposed legislation in its current preliminary form indicates that the same processes of secrecy that have been developed for the Pentagon and the intelligence services are about to be extended to governmental involvement in the financial markets. Apparently, the lessons learned from the collapse of the NASDAQ bubble, the need for public transparency and accountability, have been totally abandoned in the belief that covert dealings between the Treasury, the Federal Reserve and the world's major financial institutions is a more effective way of dealing with the crisis. Crony capitalism over Adam Smith, in other words.

Don't expect the Democrats in Congress to stop it. Faced with an election in less than two months, they will do as they did with the authorization for the Iraq War in October 2002, give a Republican President what he wants in the hope that they will prevail on other issues. As then, they will not take the risk of being blamed for a crisis because they have refused to immediately pass legislation demanded by the President. And, of course, there's the dirty secret that they someday expect to be in control of the White House, and want such powers for themselves, to exercise for the benefit of interests associated with them.

Make sure to read the follow-up as well. Call it a coup, call it armed robbery, call it the ruling class doing what it knows how to do all too well, call it yet another reiteration of the shock doctrine - it pretty much amounts to the same thing. Oh, and with the Hoovervilles making their return appearance, don't be too surprised to see another presence: armed military personnel (probably augmented with a contingent of mercenaries) with a simple assignment - shoot to kill ("I'm from the government and I'm here to help - now bleed for me.").

The lyrics to "Bleed For Me" from Plastic Surgery Disasters:
You’ve been hanging ‘round / With an enemy of the state / Come with me to the building / That no one stops to watch / Chorus: C’mon bleed / C’mon bleed / C’mon bleed / Bleed for me / We’ll strap you to a pipe / Electrodes on your balls / C’mon scream / C’mon writhe / Face down in a pool of piss / (Chorus) / In the name of world peace / In the name of world profits / America pumps up our secret police / America wants fuel / To get it, it needs puppets / So what’s ten million dead / If it’s keeping out the Russians / We’re well trained by the CIA / With yankee tax money in Ft. Bragg / The Peace Corps builds US labor camps / When they think they’re building schools / Ha Ha / When cowboy Ronnie comes to town / Forks out his tongue at human rights / Sit down, enjoy our ethnic meal / Dine on some charbroiled nuns / Try a medal on / Smile at the mirror as the cameras click / And make big business happy - / Anytime / Anywhere / Maybe you’ll just disappear / (Chorus)

Nonideological, my ass

Leave it to small minds in big think tanks to come up with yet another plan to save perfectly intelligent adults from the "liberal menace." This passage in particular made me chuckle:
These initiatives, like the Program in Western Civilization and American Institutions at the University of Texas, Austin, or a project at the University of Colorado here in Colorado Springs, to publish a book of classic texts, are mostly financed by conservative organizations and donors, run by conservative professors. But they have a decidedly nonpartisan and nonideological face.

Their goal is to restore what conservative and other critics see as leading casualties of the campus culture wars of the 1980s and ’90s: the teaching of Western culture and a triumphal interpretation of American history.

“These are not ideological courses,” said James Piereson, a senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute, which created the Veritas Fund for Higher Education to funnel donations to these sorts of projects. The initiatives are only political insofar as they “work against the thrust of programs and courses in gender, race and class studies, and postmodernism in general,” he said.
Needless to say, the scribes at New Pravda obediently do their duty. I suppose there's ideology, and then there's ideology. Here's a definition of ideology that may help:
the body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group.
So, if you're involved in a curriculum that is devoted to, say, gender studies or ethnic studies, you're ideological. If, on the other hand, you promote a curriculum that is based on a guiding myth or doctrine of Euro-American superiority, you're being nonideological. Quite funny, in a sense.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wherein I play the world's smallest violin

From ABC "News" (h/t Balloon Juice):
"A lot of those people will have to sell their homes, they're going to cut back on the private jets and the vacations. They may even have to take their kids out of private school," said Frank. "It's a total reworking of their lifestyle."
He added that it's going to be no easy task.
"It's going to be very hard psychologically for these people," Frank said. "I talked to one guy who had to give up his private jet recently. And he said of all the trials in his life, giving that up was the hardest thing he's ever done."
Although I'm nominally a professional (my vocation ironically enough makes me part of the technocratic class), my salary is just enough where some months I get very close to pondering if I will be deciding between electricity and food for the kids, let alone money for internet access. I'm not kidding. I have absolutely no sympathy for those who've been draining the life out the economy and draining the life out of those of us who may be barely making ends meet. So I read about these $700 billion Wall Street bail outs that give folks who caused the mess carte blanche (e.g. Hank Paulson), and about the ruling class consensus in its favor (the possible handful of congresslizards who don't approve notwithstanding) and I only get angrier than I am normally.