American Redoubt

As the European fiscal crisis continues and political instability worsens across the Middle East, it is perhaps time to rethink our country’s deep embrace of globalization. Instead, we should concentrate our economic and cultural energies on the Americas, the Western Hemisphere of land from Wainwright, Alaska , to Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina. Within this vast territory lies every natural and human resource we need. With vast new energy resources in Brazil, Venezuela and Canada, we would have no need to deal with Petrol autocrats in Saudi Arabia or Russia. The anti-colonial roots of both North and South America stem from both Thomas Jefferson and Simon Bolivar’s reading of Voltaire, Adam Smith and Montesquieu. And while these rooted democracies of the American hemisphere may be flawed, they are strong enough to deal even the toughest of caudillo’s like Chavez, electoral setbacks. From a human capital perspective, while much of Europe is entering a demographic death spiral, the America’s are full of young workers who pay taxes that can provide a healthy safety net for the old and infirmed.

And within the creative urban economies of our hemisphere are the young workers who are making the knowledge goods that the rest of the world consumes. From brilliant film directors working in Mexico City, to innovative software designers in Silicon Valley to wonderful musicians in Rio like Zelia Duncan—the next economy is firmly rooted in the Americas.

Of course you would never know this if you turned on the TV news, because in that long tradition of “if it bleeds it leads”, the cable news bias is slanted towards crisis, panic and tragedy. But in many ways our media and the Republican establishment are linked arm in arm to create a self-fulfilling prophecy—a crisis of American confidence—that will continue to leave our economy in stagnation. The political reality of course is quite different. Take the American deficit, for example. As Ezra Klein points out IF CONGRESS DOES NOTHING, the deficits will be reduced by $6 trillion in the coming years.

So now there are two triggers. One is an extremely progressive spending trigger worth $1.2 trillion that goes off on January 1, 2013. The other is an extremely progressive tax trigger worth $3.8 trillion that goes off on…January 1, 2013. If you count reduced interest payments, the two policies alone would reduce future deficits by about $6 trillion. That’s far more than anything the supercommittee came close to discussing. It’s distributed far more progressively than anything the Democrats have even considered proposing. And all that needs to happen for it to pass is, well, nothing.

So if the deficit crisis is a chimera and American hemisphere energy independence is a reality, why do we feel so stuck in this Interregnum? I think it is the fault of the current Supreme Court that has moved our political system from one person, one vote to one dollar, one vote. Why do a greater percentage of Americans approve of polygamy than approve of congress? Because Americans essentially feel that every member is for sale. So forget Lincoln’s description of a “government of the people, by the people, for the people”. We don’t believe it anymore. Even our disappointment with Obama is based around the suspicion that he was far too close to Wall Street to make them pay for their sins in 2009.

So, as I wrote earlier in the week, I do think Obama is on the way to addressing some of the inequality issues by raising taxes on the wealthy. But until we change the law that Money=Speech, we will live in a pale shadow of a democracy with an increasingly cynical and disconnected public.

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26 Responses to American Redoubt

  1. JTMcPhee says:

    Sir, with all respect, and in the hope that the good parts of your vision become realized:

    It’ll be a nice trick to get to the point where all those extractable thingies, all that “self-sufficient energy,” in places like Brazil and Venezuela and the deep oceans off the Coast of the Americas, in the “New World,” get to be “ours,” in the sense of shared by All The People. As in, more likely, available for extraction (however “green,” courtesy of all that Knowledge Stuff “we” produce, and protect so violently with our Ruleoflaw IP power-projecting public and private investigators and lawyers and such) for the inevitable profit of those Voluntary Associations who do not give a ripshit about their “reputation” for anything but ruthless, bullshit-concealed, regulatorily-captured, grasping greed.

    Getting money out of politics? Money has always equaled speech, in the sense of warping the political debate in one direction or another generally in favor of the Have Mores… “Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one,” observed HL Mencken. Don’t cite me the Internet — the impact and communication are (as far as this old fart can see) just too diffuse — way too little signal, way too much noise. It’s just a matter of more recent knowledge workers’ “contributions” in terms of improved button-pushing in the lower brains of most of us that has changed the quantum conditions. Love to learn, via something other than a few pinchbeck examples, that I am wrong about that. OMG LOLOLOL.

    Might one suggest that the notion that America the Exceptional and all those little banana republics and such places where ‘we’ are still sending Marine expeditionary forces, like Army-less, literate, Omigod LOLOLOL Socialist Costa Rica, share an anti-colonial sentiment might benefit from some time looking at the career of one Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler, and his apparent twang of conscience that caused him to “jump ship,” as it were, and tell it like it actually was. String cite:,, , , “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars. But in ourselves…” et.frikkin’.cetera.

    The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body may have by happenstance created a no-action fix for much of the Great Deficit Fraud (other than by stealing, finally and permanently, the deposits paid into the Social Security Trust Fund and evidenced by that little stack of Special Defaultable-On Treasuries, and coveting a way to make the theft permanent, on the order (odor?) of the “settlement” that the Bankstas are working with our various attorneys general to steal, permanently, all those fraudulently grabbed foreclosed properties.) And maybe We The Working People Who Create Real Wealth And Pay Taxes On It (not including Worgon) and are slaving so assiduously to “recover the economy” and refill the well of Real Wealth that the Bankstas have so recently Vampire-Squidded Sahara-dry, will be spared some Grand Bargain that once again shoves it up our patoots, while picking our pockets so thoroughly that there’s not even a lick of lint left. But to expect that all the people who have learned the arts of Fagin and less stealthy thugs in picking our collective pockets, including the apparent gaming of the whole euro structure, will start acting in any kind of collective-for-everyone’s-future-benefit manner is, I submit, a large-bore, Schedule 90, pure-sinsemilla Pipe Dream.

    There are a lot of reactions in chemistry that are totally thermodynamically one-way-only. My bet is that there are a lot of actions and interactions and activities in politicoeconomicosocialism that are also one-way. Money, the thing, is a reagent, a catalyst, and a pretty toxic waste product of what we got going. There is no way I can imagine that that part of the game of Nations/RISK! is going to change. Would love to be wrong, and pray that the Occupy and Tahrir people are coming to an insight and inspiration and epiphany that will close the valves on the reaction vessels that are pumping out the puke that’s making things so enjoyable for some tiny little bunch of self-actualizing, everyonelsevictimizing humans. Would not bet on it — likely 6 out of 7 billion would secretly love to be part of the 1%, preferably the top 0.000001%. Radical simplicity and the Golden Rule are for, as the Israelis would say, Freiers — I feel like a dope every time I brush my teeth using only about a cup of potable water, knowing that some developer sonofabitch over on Davis Island uses a million gallons a month watering his estate’s lawns and plantings and running his “water features” and keeping his pools topped up. Because, as he put it to the reporter who asked about that Conspicuous Fuck-You-All-Po’-Folk Consumption, “he can AFFORD it.” And every day, our largely sole-source aquifer drops a little lower, and the salt water intrudes a little further… And the desal plant that has “cost” maybe 10 times what was contracted for and still works like shit and is hugely expensive to operate sits and moulders… Innovation is magical…

    How the world really works, Example 2,405,261.05bis: I got a million of ’em, if need arises to debate the reality further. Some of this is tolerable and survivable. There’s a threshold, though, beyond which you have Collapse.

    My personal hope, knowing that I won’t be around to see too much of What Comes Next, is that (my species-ism is showing here) my grandkids, who I do know, and their children, whom I am never likely to meet, have a patch of unsalted earth from which they can wrest a living, and enough to “eat to their (true, physical) hunger, and drink to their (honest, don’t-leave-the-water-running) thirst.” Not very hopeful that that’s going to be the case, of course… ‘cuz once again, Rich Folks are still time-limited like the rest of us, and have exactly zero incentive to do anything more than use it up and wear it out, since they are as far as anyone knows, immune to any consequences after death. Whatever that fraud Calvin said.

    Imagine there’s no heaven
    It’s easy if you try
    No hell below us
    Above us only sky
    Imagine all the people
    Living for today…

    Yeah, right… Well, John, at least you know What Comes After…

  2. Alex Bowles says:

    Two dispatches just came over the wires. The contrast they form could not be more striking. I don’t know how closely either pertains to globalization in general, but together, they speak volumes about the particular importance of focusing on one’s own knitting – at least in terms of governance.

    First comes this from Der Spiegel:

    Jürgen Habermas is angry. He’s really angry. He is nothing short of furious — because he takes it all personally. He bangs on the table and yells: “Enough already!” He simply has no desire to see Europe consigned to the dustbin of world history.

    Zur Verfassung Europas” (“On Europe’s Constitution”) is the name of his new book, which is basically a long essay in which he describes how the essence of our democracy has changed under the pressure of the crisis and the frenzy of the markets. Habermas says that power has slipped from the hands of the people and shifted to bodies of questionable democratic legitimacy, such as the European Council. Basically, he suggests, the technocrats have long since staged a quiet coup d’état. He refers to the system that Merkel and Sarkozy have established during the crisis as a “post-democracy.”

    “Sometime after 2008,” says Habermas, “I understood that the process of expansion, integration and democratization doesn’t automatically move forward of its own accord, that it’s reversible, that for the first time in the history of the EU, we are actually experiencing a dismantling of democracy.”

    Remaining on this longitude, but dropping several degrees of latitude, we come to sub-Saharan Africa, where the difference in the political outlook could not be more pronounced. Foreign Affairs reports on the region’s sustained economic boom (going strong since the mid 90’s), and explores its causes.

    It is well known that the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s were a disaster for the countries of sub-Saharan Africa. In a period when other underdeveloped regions, especially Asia, were experiencing steady economic growth, Africa as a whole saw its living standards plummet. Nearly all Africans lived under dictatorships, and millions suffered through brutal civil wars. Then, in the 1990s, the HIV/AIDS epidemic exploded, slashing life expectancy and heightening the sense that the region had reached rock bottom. Steven Radelet’s new book, Emerging Africa, joins a growing chorus of voices explaining how and why Africa has turned the corner.

    In Radelet’s view, five main factors have conspired to turn Africa around. Expanding democratization has opened up governments, bolstering popular accountability. Improved economic policies have curbed the worst tax and regulatory policies that had plagued African households and investors. Debt reduction has freed up resources for education and health care. New technologies (most notably the ubiquitous cell phone) have boosted Africans’ access to markets. And the rise of a new generation of energetic leaders, the so-called cheetah generation, has brought new ideas and attitudes to the fore.

    Although all five of the factors Radelet describes have plausibly played a role in Africa’s nascent transformation, the essential question, of course, is, which one has contributed the most? Radelet’s answer is democratization. The relationship between democracy and economic growth in Africa, he writes, “is crystal clear: democratic governments . . . have been successful, while authoritarian governments have by and large been failures.”

    The FA piece goes on to explore the underlying causes of democratic emergence, and why not every sub-Saharan nation has found itself on the hopeful side of history. Education is identified as the key point of differentiation. What I find so thrilling about the Occupy movement is the focus it’s brought to the capture and degradation of our electoral system, and the direct connection this has to the capture and degradation of our economy. It’s also created a profound sense of embarrassment for a media establishment that has obscured this relationship shamelessly.

    As Habermas notes, a parallel pattern has played out on the other side of the Atlantic. With ignorance shrouding the basic mechanisms of ‘advanced’ economies, a sense of democratic accountability got quietly hollowed out, leaving little more than a now-cracked shell. What the Occupy movement has shown is that the moral calculus at the heart of this rot is far more clear-cut that the people who have done the hollowing would have anyone believe, and that actually, large majorities can come to very accurate conclusions about what is and is not desirable when they’re not being actively lied to by their ‘representatives’ and the ‘reporters’ who shill for cover them. .

    Thanks to OWS, the blockade has broken. People like Larry Lessig – who has spent years shouting into the wind about a corrupt economy of influence – find themselves suddenly relevant. And this is just the beginning. As awareness spreads about how warped and degraded the vote has truly become (which is can, thanks to inconveniently open media platforms) the monstrous fraud of the ‘safe’ electoral district will come to light, and with it, the profound illegitimacy that an entire branch of our government has slipped into.

    If democracy can die in the Enlightenment’s cradle, it can die anywhere. At the same time, if Africa can come back from the brink it reached, there’s no reason why America can’t do the same. Democracy is guaranteed nowhere, and it works everywhere. American exceptionalism – which runs counter to both of these truths – may be the justified loser in the wake of the Great Implosion.

  3. len says:

    They have to believe to want it and want it to protect it.

    In one sense, a class war in that the redress requires a sense of the economic imbalance. To a greater measure, a values war because there are those in the class with the most to give who accept that the economic advantage is the least to lose. A loss of belief in an economic system based on a belief in a higher value is an irresistable force for change. It is a percentage after that.

    The agreement we need is an evolutionary one, a plan of plans with measures, controls and plenty of opportunities to make mid-course corrections. It must be easy to understand and measurably transparent. And feasible.

    But… and this is the big one… it has to account for the fact that at this time in the US, the powers of a police state have been used to silence the movement and that this fact is the greatest indicator of the need for change. If we accept what has been done by a coordinated effort using homeland security initiatives, such initiatives become and established part of national security protocol. This breaks the Constitution in half. We have to stop this now.

  4. Alex Bowles says:

    I suspect the indicators are going to get bigger than that, whether we need them too or not.

    According to The Telegraph British embassies in the eurozone have been told to draw up plans to help British expats through the collapse of the single currency.

    “Prepare for riots in euro collapse, Foreign Office warns.” Elsewhere, they just calling it eurogeddon.

    What we are witnessing is awesome stuff – the death throes of a currency. And not just any old currency either, but what when it was launched was confidently expected to take its place alongside the dollar as one of the world’s major reserve currencies. That promise today looks to be in ruins.

    Contingency planning is in progress throughout Europe. From the UK Treasury on Whitehall to the architectural monstrosity of the Bundesbank in Frankfurt, everyone is desperately trying to figure out precisely how bad the consequences might be.

    What they are preparing for is the biggest mass default in history. There’s no orderly way of doing this. European finance and trade is too far integrated to allow for an easy unwinding of contracts. It’s going to be anarchy.

    My suspicion is that blame for the Great Financial Crisis is about to become a moot point. That sort of allocation of responsibility implies the existence of a just and capable arbiter, and general support for the status quo this arbiter exists to preserve. On that front, I think we’re just about done.

  5. len says:

    With posse commitatus evaporating, our side of the pond is ready to rumble.

    The tragedy is the quiet aquiesence as if it were to be expected. Sheeple.

  6. Jon Taplin says:

    I couldn’t help but be struck by the radical contrast between some of the comments on this post. On one hand we have JTM’s cogent arguments that nothing is really going to change in the “game of Nations/Risk” in the face of Global Capital. And perhaps Alex’s notion of Eurogeddon is part of that same apocalyptic vision. But his earlier comment that things might be actually improving in Africa feeds into my hope that the prophets of gloom are partially successful in making us all feel powerless.

  7. Alex Bowles says:

    @Jon Taplin

    Looks like neither of those Telegraph links connected properly. Here they are again, and they’re not optimistic.

    I don’t know how much of this is conservative British Euro-skepticism having a “we told you so” field day, but the larger point about no mechanism for orderly exits is truly alarming. And it’s becoming an issue because voters in member states are unwilling to back each other economically.

    This disconnect between economic unity and political unity seems be at the core of the dysfunction. That’s a profound structural problem that was ignored until economic crisis hit. As soon as it did, it blew past political, and went straight tribal, with the respective cultures and blind spots of the debtors and creditors becoming the pivotal issues.

    In terms of environments for the orderly resolution of structural conflicts, this seems as far from optimal as you can get, short of actual fighting. I mean, if there’s one thing for which democratic consesus is essential, this seems to be it. And that, more than anything, takes time.

    Time, of course, is the one thing that no one in this equation has enough of. So really, there’s no good that can come of this. Only varying degrees of damage, and shorter or longer periods needed to heal. Even if the crisis does produce a stronger, more stable, and ultimatly beneficial unity in the long run, the price will be high, and the scars deep. And that’s the best-case scenario. In the meantime, the rest of the world holds its breath in horror.

    Which, now that I think about it, is probably what happened when everyone was looking at us in 2008 and thinking WTF x 1,000. I know that one man’s pessimism is another man’s realism, but this is scary. My sincerest hope is that the substantial erosion we’ve seen in democratic accoutability – especially over the past decade – gets reversed a.s.a.p. so we can see the return of a policy making environment capable of peacefully unwinding impossible positions, dismanteling (read ‘diversifying’) institutions that are too big to fail, rebalancing debt loads, re-instating Glass–Steagall and generally putting the engines of the bubble economy out to pasture.

    Incidentally, core Euro nations are taking Glass–Steagall as the model for similar legislation there. I believe the British call the seperation in imposes ‘ringfencing’. Given that it’s coordinated passage on both sides of the Atlantic would represent a massive loss of leverage for the TBTF institutions, I’d see it as a positive sign of Democracy Recovered. This drive is Obama’s to lead.

    In any case, I’m enormously grateful that the Africans are now able to remind us what a robust and reliable system democracy girded by widespread education really is, slow and inconvenient as it may be. Lord knows it’s got plenty of work to do in this hemisphere. The sooner we start, the better.

  8. len says:

    Chaos is amenable to tuning.

    When instability emerges because global controls are failing, local controls take over. It’s a race depending on efficiency and will to power as locals able to invoke the local controls attempting to stop the outflow of capital based on blocking global calls while simultaneously tuning those that still enable positive growth and faster local transactions that pull from near neighbors. IOW, what works is tuned; what drains at rates greater than returns is blocked. Scale that back up to the global systems and evolve the system back to stability.

    One of the reasons for calling on people to move as much capital as they can to the local credit unions is to begin reversing concentration of investing functions in global systems. Investment power at the local level is increased similar to that called for by Jon’s New Federalism except it is achieved by local investors selecting locally, not by attempting to reverse global controls, a political feat of legerdermain. Concentrate on local reforms.

    The reason education drives the efficiency is self-evident. Wherever local communities are best educated, the assumption is they are also capable of understanding the trade-offs required and accept the consequences. Here is where you plug in JTMcs worldview vs one in which the right people in the right places have the right values to make the right choices.

    Simply, the globalists have become pigs. Time to kick them out of the farmer’s living room. The problem is the types and kinds of global and/or singular institutions over which the one per cent has power. Here federal power can be applied but expect a slower evolution. Acts such as Glass-Steagal are a good start.

    If you approach it like that, a reasonable set of economic reforms simple enough to become campaign signs can be enunciated. Like it or not, an agenda for change must have a real political component, so also like it or not, we need Obama to win if he can coalesce that agenda and we can convince a man that once elected has nothing left to lose that delivering is somehow in his best interests however he decides what those are. The best way to do that is to put together a pledge of our own by which we can sort the goods and the bads just as Norquist has.

    We have to be very specific about the next four years and dead serious.

  9. Alex Bowles says:


    Here’s a nice write up on local governance in Minneapolis. It gets to the essence of why local matters.

    “City governments are the last standing functional form of government in the United States and possibly the world,” says Mayor R.T. Rybak.

    “They can’t pass their obligations off to some other unit of government, so on some level that is where it all settles.” says David Brauer, who has covered Minneapolis city government on and off for three decades.

    “That party stuff just does not get in there,” says City Council President Barb Johnson. “Why? Because there is no Republican or Democratic way to pick up the garbage. And because you have to be able to perform. When somebody calls 911 and needs a police officer, you have to send a police officer. If a water line breaks in front of somebody’s house, it has to be fixed. It isn’t policy, it is doing the work. And that’s what city government is all about…We own equipment, we build stuff, we take care of things.

    We own equipment, we build stuff, we take care of things. That works.

  10. len says:

    Good example. Note the short control chains. Match that to short investment chains.

  11. JTMcPhee says:

    It’s a long read, but in my book, Barbara Tuchman’s “A Distant Mirror” has a lot of clues on the modes and efficacy of “tuning the chaos.” One hopes that the extraordinary men of our time are more like Enguerand de Coucy than those Kochamamie faux-noble greedheads from Kansas. Though of course de Coucy was no Gandhi or MLK…

    len, remember “Animal Farm”?

    Chapter 10

    Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer — except, of course, for the pigs and the dogs.

    Four legs good, two legs better!


    The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

    All that’s missing is the neo-equivalent of the Black Death, and our starting point is a jump in temperature, not a little Ice Age…

    Fire and Ice

    (From Harper’s Magazine, December 1920.)

    SOME say the world will end in fire,
    Some say in ice.
    From what I’ve tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it had to perish twice,
    I think I know enough of hate
    To know that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.

  12. JTMcPhee says:

    @Alex Bowles
    Minneapolis is just up the road from Lake Wobegon, which has its dysfunctions but a strong dose of that Scandinavian whateveritis that leads to (gasp!) Socialism Overdose! What can you say about a place that brings you Jesse Ventura and Michelle (“I was born in Waterloo, too!”) Bachmann?

    Local government is not uniquely functional — here in St. Pete (pop. about 250K), partisanship (of wealth, at least) very much matters, and the City Fathers and Mothers are all about making a place that is suitable for the maybe 8 or 6%, including coming up with a way to tax the people for a billion-dollar new baseball stadium to gift to the carpetbaggers who own the Rays MLB franchise. At the expense of all social services, except for all the freebie cop time to “protect and serve” the baseball parking and the nightclub area.

    Interesting how close “protect” and “protest” are, orthographically speaking.

  13. len says:

    Most certainly, JTMc. The first goal is not to be the White Pig. :)

    The inequalities you note, JTMC, of people, of locales, of organizations and ‘farms’ are the reasons to create and evolutionary strategy for tuning. Results will vary by each of these domains but better to light a candle, as they say, or a fire under some too-comfortably numb asses. First we need some abstract but useful goals that recognize economic inequality as the root problem to be solved.

    1. America first. Global trade that costs more than it returns is not trade; it is robbery. This scales down to local cities.

    2. Decisions made best closer to affected resources are usually better decisions as long as goal one is satisfied.

    Add any?

    Then the details such as political campaign financing reform, banking reform, trade reform, rolling back homeland security initiatives that erode basic freedoms, reorganization of other national resources such as the DoD and energy policy, and so on.

  14. Fentex says:

    I always liked holding South America when playing Risk.

    It was more engaging and fun with superior options for expansion than sitting on the gate to Australasia.

    I think railing against the effects of free trade is a misdirection. The U.S’s problems do not stem from increased trade. They stem from poor budgeting (i.e the military industrial complex) and unfair tax practices that pork barrel and purchased politics gradually off balance against the unconnected majority.

    If those problems could be averted I think U.S citizenbs would be pleased with thge foreign trade they would enjoy. The U.S workers enemy is not the Chinese worker.

  15. JTMcPhee says:

    “The U.S workers enemy is not the Chinese worker.” But their bosses have set it up so that in effect they are “the enemy of each other.”

    People, our fellow humans, starve, and die from preventable or treatable diseases, and are murdered by various “forces,” and live on garbage dumps in a quaint form of Improved Efficiency and Recycling, and suchlike. But it is not from what seems to me to be a fundamental truth (and I would love for someone to show how it’s not right): There’s enough of everything that counts to go all the way around the table, if we can just keep the real pigs from taking all but one of the cookies and getting us to fight over the last one.

    The setup here is carefully built up, manufacturing demand, to make us all want an impossible MORE, and to activate our tribal juices at the thought of being able to TAKE whatever that MORE is, hiding behind all the various justifications from “exceptionalism” to White Man’s Burden to “Aaay, we got the projectable power and they can’t stop us!”

    Everyone’s got an opinion, of course. Sure looks to me (and a lot of other people) that “free trade” is a comfortable euphemism for the worst kinds of drag-racing-to-the-bottom by people who are too stupid to see that they are being bled dry by the Few. That Hyundai makes a car better than GM is not a vote for the blessings of foreign trade.

  16. len says:

    Not railing against free trade or even global trade; railing against the offshoring of the profits, the failure to pay taxes, the ability to take the wealth accumulated and using it to corrupt the government with an eye toward getting even wealthier and offshoring that too.

    Not happy with the Chinese though. Let the currency rise to its free market value. Do something about the working conditions for Apple suppliers in China. De-firewall the Internet. Quit threatening US suppliers. IOW, open up and run a business by the same game rules or get ready to watch Wal-Mart go bye bye. But they don’t care that I care: they are busy taking the cash and buying foreign governments. It seems everyone wants to own South America and Africa these days and are willing to turn their own country into a third world nation to do it.

  17. len says:

    Offtopic but for the ‘where the heck is Rick Turner” question,

    Good to see!

  18. JTMcPhee says:

    “their own country” – maybe that’s the clue. The folks who springboard to great wealth and power off the labor of others, who figure out the game of Rent and Extract and Extort and Evade, build their cloud castles by a kind of predator’s cooperation, like dolphin herding foodfish schools into tight little balls so each dolphin can take turns shooting through the ball and suctioning up a bellyful. The do not “belong” to any country, but rather to a caste that recognizes the others by their mutual species-destroying resource-zeroing avarice.

    A “country” is just a shell any more — Ask, e.g., the MIC Big Players, who pump up fear of “threats” or possible “game changing technologies” just to manufacture demand for the stuff they make. If they could do it with trillion dollar toasters, I wonder if they would? Maybe if a toaster could be made to kill a lot of people… And they cooperate across national and Great Game divides as if, mirabile dictu, those neat map demarcations are pure fiction. You think Boeing and General Atomic or Israeli Aerospace Industries Ltd. and their kin have the slightest notion of “patriotism” or “loyalty?” Here’s IAI’s own self-description, which applies as far as I can tell to all the Bigs:


    Israel Aerospace Industries is globally recognized as a leader in developing military and commercial aerospace technology. This distinction is the result of nearly half a century of designing, engineering and manufacturing, for customers throughout the world.

    For all you Innovators, want to see what the Future, what’s maybe left of it, looks like? You can do worse than visit Lockheed “We never forget who we are working for” Martin’s current front page on its web face: All just a big ol’ Networked Battlespace, where the purpose of everything is to just extend the volume under nominaldenomination. Oh, and to “protect” the rest of us… Oh what a lovely bunch of coconuts —

    Change “military and commercial aerospace” to any other SIC code descriptor you want to choose, and you have the endpoint ethos of Bidness writ out as plain as that moving finger wrote on the palace wall. “Mene, mene, tekel, u-Pharsin.” The guys and gals who run and work for these post-nationals may pay lip service to whoever is paying the bills and providing a pied-a-terre for the C-suite, but it sure looks to me like the fundamental loyalty is to the “corporate entity.”

    Gog and Magog are all over this like bedbugs and scabies — and for those who find potential salvation in the building of that Tower of Babel called the internet, you might look at content and users and the quanta of various kinds of spiritual stuff that are uptaken by the Exposed. Stuff like this little explication, one of a huge pile of similar blustration, of All You Need To Know About The Universe: If you can stand to read it through, is it not amazing how the scales drop from your eyes, and all becomes simple and plain, as part of G_d’s Revealed Plan and Truth?

    Anyone remember John Silber, the Short Authoritarian Man With The Withered Arm And Dessicated Soul, reactionary extraordinary? Back in 1974, he excreted a lengthy piece in the Boston U alumni magazine, casting down the evil Environmentalists and all the other Worriers About Nuclear Winter as a bunch of “apocalypticists.” Said that such folks just do not get the flow of history — even if the Great Powers do a Doomsday Machine thing, it’s all okay, Right? Because why? Because down there around the plate-boundary hypersteaming vents, where pressures are measured in kilotons per square centimeter, and temperatures range over a few meters from a thousand degrees C to zero C, there are “shrimps” and “tubeworms” all living out their spans, oblivious to the shit that happens nearer the surface of the planet except as it provides a nice steady rain of organic and mineralic detritus, “manna” if you will. See? said Silber. It’s not like All Life Will End if we play out the Great Manichaean Game of which he was such a strident proponent. Who cares if humans pass on, through a period of Soylent Corporation dominance? In the end there can only be one Singularity! He, thanks to his accident of birth, apparently was all in favor of an Apocalypse. And guess what, children? He ain’t alone. Particularly amongst those who have figured out how to suck in all the wealth and the power we have ceded over our lives. Though those folks are pretty confident that the shit will hit the fan well behind them on the Timestream here.

    “Local” will maybe be good enough, if there’s anything left…

    My personal defenses, in addition to an assortment of blade and projectile weapons, include constant repetition of a couple of little mantras: “It doesn’t matter,” “Nothing to be done about it,” and “I don’t care.”

    Hey, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are Huge Successes! Way up, year over year! Risk ON!

    “I will show you fear in a handful of dust…”

  19. Alex Bowles says:


    “I will show you fear in a handful of dust…”

    I wonder if that’s what happened to the Euros? Apparently this past weekend’s jolt of panic has concentrated minds and ended the Great Dithering, at least for the moment.

  20. JTMcPhee says:

    @Alex Bowles Maybe the wrong place to even try to aska question like this, but I would dearly love for someone to toss up a link to something, ahaha, simple that pulls together all the (dys)functional bits of the whole sorry mess. “Sovereign debt” and ‘monetisation” and “derivative overhang” and “structural disabilities” and all the rest of the bullshitttaflux seem to me to just hide the real nature(s) of the deep hole that the Few have buffalo’d most of us into.

    The herd of us eats the grass, breeds and sleeps and digests, and turns G_d’s gift of vegetation into meat. Then along come the Arapaho and the werewolves, and stampede us into a mindless flood, all running in the direction of the cliff, to leap or stumble off, to drop into a pile of broken limbs and necks, where the predators can spear us in the heart or cut our throats without the slightest fear of a goring or trampling, and slice off the choicest bits of converted forage and leave the rest for beetles and crows and bacteria. Oh, and sleep on piles of our comfy pelts.

    Without the restless natives (who from my reading were not exactly Noble Savages Preserving The Balance of Nature, but happy to kill and leave to rot far more than their needs), life was no doubt not a total picnic for the ungulate herd critters, but the nature of Nature is metastability — a flux of a different order, and eating and excreting and breeding and in time mouldering back into the matrix seems to me (my preference only, of course) a better way than the other way.

    This Eurohaha seems to me to be a lot of crap about confirming, under the cognomen “Austerity,” the murder and butchering of a shitload of grass-made-meat, the seeming source of the Real Wealth that the Bankstas leverage their occult bets off of and then stick the bovine with their bad markers, as a “legal” and “necessary” and “fitting and proper” exercise, one that coincidentally will “shrink government down to where Norquislings can drag it into the bathroom and drown it.” All except the parts that facilitate post- and extra-nationalism, crush dissent, facilitate the thefts, and of course the dead-end, cul-de-sac, hyper-recursively-redundant thing called “the military.” To make sure that all that grass-turned-amino-acids ends up at their disposal.

    There is enough of everything that people need to go all the way around the table, even in sub-Saharan Africa. Why is nobody kind of looking at that fact? (And if Worgon and Pappy are still lurking, or anyone else who has some facts to marshall to refute that apparent truth, maybe you would be good enough to lay them out for us bison to understand why we are just a good source of protein.) One principal goal of those relatively few fellowman-killers is pretty apparent — along with stealing all the Now and the Future, to kill the last little bits of what we are stupid enough to still call “socialism,” since the Gingriches of the world have taught us to be ashamed of the word. This ain’t even feudalism, which at least, in a smaller population with a lot less complexity, kind of worked according to a system of traditions that operated as a kind of ruleoflaw (not perfectly, of course). This is just plain Leviathan, without any moderation. There is enough of everything that matters to go all the way around the table, if we humans can figure out how to eat to our real hunger and drink only to our thirst, and take some satisfaction from seeing everybody getting the same.

    My thought is that lamp-posts need to be decorated, and haircuts need to be administered, and not the kind that Romney gets — the kind that go “swish-thunk-squirt-squirt-squirt…” OWS is (so far) a wonderfully civil “thingy.” Maybe the Tahririans will show the rest of us that one manifestation of the Kleptocracy, at least, can be pressured or shamed or overwhelmed or de-funded in favor of the General Welfare (not the Welfare of the Generals) short of another Terror. But the drive to dominate, to accumulate, to connive and sneak and corrupt, seems to me as pervasive and effective as the drive to fuck all the pretty ladies or six-pack petrosexuals and have your people peeling you a grape before you even formulate the thought beyond a vague sense of “I need something in the way of a different stimulus than I am getting at the moment.”

    People here and at spaces like dkos were/are all aghast at any mention of VIOLENCE. Guess what, folks? There’s a prolonged, torture-us murder taking place, and what is called the 1% are wielding the sharp, shiny and barbarous implements. You can go back to Hammurabi (and no doubt older, lost texts) to find that there are some ineluctable mandates kind of wired into humans and their multifarious interactionabilities. The purposes of a criminal justice system (and go look up stuff about the “Regulators,” and are useful starts in thinking about what could come next, good and bad, and more “profitable” to my mind than chewing over the bacterial, mutually exclusive profusions and infections ejaculated from CNBC — Bove says “buy bank stocks,” Cramer yells “SELL!” and toots one of his horns — and the Libertarian Smarminess) are closely linked to what keeps societies delicately metastable — predictable deterrence, restitution, retribution. None of any of those is going on.

    “Dithering” has a lot of different meanings and associations…

  21. len says:

    @jtmc: That’s why the very rapid response from folks like Senator Peter King to ensure public safety/homeland security forces were organized (in contravention of the Constitution) to squelch OWS. He knows that ultimately as long as a non-violent protest can be cleared out in the dead of night and anyone else has fooled themselves into believing their fear of loss of well-being can be conveniently masked with condescension or patriotism (gee, where have we seen that play before), then nothing is going to happen until the election. Further he believes his status as a staunch IRA supporter in the home island (was thrown out for it) protects his position in his state where voters cling to Irish heritage the same way my neighbors cling to Confederate battle flags. So he knows he will go unchallenged as he routs the protests and breaks the law while doing it.

    And so far, he is right. Associations and all that twaddle combined with overwhelming fear of losing jobs and mortgages we can’t pay for enable a lot of dithering. So far… something tells me he and his are not as secure as they believe themselves to be.

  22. len says:

    On the other hand, Bloomberg is quoted at Talking Points as saying the NYPD is “my own Army” and the seventh largest in the world.

    Wow. From America the Home of the Free and the Brave to a wholly owned subsidiary of the Prince of Darkness in one generation. We suck.

  23. JTMcPhee says:

    len, I wonder if the Troops in Bloomberg’s personal army will show up for muster with the kind of loyalty that kleptocrat apparently expects to command. Or, for that matter, whether the Troops We Support will take orders from a bunch of creationist Brass Hats…

    There used to be some chatter in this space about New Federalism and possible cures for what ails us. My own contributions are pretty uniformly of the Jeremiad sort. I see that over on dkos, there’s a series on canning, and I have collected and contributed some stuff on making soap from lard and lye, not that metrosexual puffy crap that Martha Stewart features as one of her doittoyourself projects.

    I see from random web bits that there are folks are trying to create intentional communities and figure out localization and how to do something other than that idiot survivalist slow-death, last-man-standing, Nietzschian/Randian scenario. Wonderful ideas, maybe more realistic than the free-love-or-monogamy, who-owns-the-stereo psuedo-hippies in the small liberal-arts college I attended.

    On the other hand: Without some deep spiritual change, without reprogramming to short-circuit or wire-wrap the many pathologies that have gotten us to where we are, well, maybe there will be poetic rodents and roaches come along, who will resonate to sunrises and wonder about the moon and find the jumpspace path around the Unified Field Theory to an understanding of It All.

    Also starting to see a lot of participants in the Street Games pondering the wisdom off converting all their funny Munny into Physical Assets, before the schmucks holding title to all the stuff that really matters get wise to the fact that paper can so quickly turn to being nothing but paper any more. Asked about whether he had a comment on or was devastated by a big drop in Walmart’s share price in one of the less recent “readjustments,” old Sam Walton is reported to have looked at the interlocutor and said, “Son, it’s only paper.” And now it’s only 0s and 1s, floating in the Cloud…


    I WANDERED lonely as a cloud
    That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
    When all at once I saw a crowd,
    A host, of golden daffodils;
    Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
    Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

    Continuous as the stars that shine
    And twinkle on the milky way,
    They stretched in never-ending line
    Along the margin of a bay: 10
    Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
    Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

    The waves beside them danced; but they
    Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
    A poet could not but be gay,
    In such a jocund company:
    I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
    What wealth the show to me had brought:

    For oft, when on my couch I lie
    In vacant or in pensive mood, 20
    They flash upon that inward eye
    Which is the bliss of solitude;
    And then my heart with pleasure fills,
    And dances with the daffodils.

    On the other hand,

    The World is Too Much With Us
    by William Wordsworth

    The world is too much with us; late and soon,
    Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
    Little we see in Nature that is ours;
    We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
    This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
    The winds that will be howling at all hours,
    And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
    For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
    It moves us not.–Great God! I’d rather be
    A pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
    So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
    Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
    Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
    Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

    Meanwhile, another half notional trillion in derivative bets has been slammed on the table in the last few days…

  24. len says:

    And apparently the Senate is suspending habeas corpus. For the all the talk of conversation, the other side is stacking up supplies for a siege. From a time when the streets were alive and the media were there to cover it to today when **I have to log in to Facebook to see the news** on shaky camera videos, it took the baby boomers a single generation to lose everything their fathers fought for.

    We suck.

    Must record a Jeremiad this weekend too, JTMc. Between the bizarro news, a job that makes me want to give up breathing, I’m glad for coming home to a wonderful wife, loving children, a Sheltie and this Herb Alpert at Montreaux video but those blues keep coming back.

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