American Crack-Up

When did it start?

When did America’s mass consensual hallucination begin? When did the boundaries between truth and fiction dissolve?

Consider the evidence.

I awoke this morning to read that a candidate for the Presidency (Newt Gingrich) believes we should launch a preemptive nuclear strike on North Korea and Iran because he fears they are about to launch a nuclear missle to be “detonated in outer space high above the American heartland, (which) would set off a huge and crippling shockwave of electricity. Mr. Gingrich warns that it would fry electrical circuits from coast to coast, knocking out computers, electrical power and cellphones. Everything from cars to hospitals would be knocked out. “Millions would die in the first week alone,” he wrote in the foreword to a science-fiction thriller published in 2009 that describes an imaginary EMP attack on the United States. Most scientists regard this as the ravings of a paranoid lunatic even if these two pygmy powers had such a rocket, and yet this man could seriously be the Republican nominee for the President of the United States. This is like Ron Hubbard running for President on the Scientology ticket.

Or last Friday, when two dozen faux Kim Kardashian imitators showed up for a party put on by New York’s Museum of Modern Art at the Art Basel Miami “Black Friday for the 1%” annual gathering. As Guy Trebay wrote, “but why say faux? Is an imitation Kardashian any phonier than the real?”

Or how about the new stupid rock genre ( Rebecca Black’s “Friday Night”) dubbed “trollgaze” as described by the Village Voice critic, Maura Johnston?

You can call the genre “trollgaze,” although its appeal transcends any sort of musical style; this is actually why it works as a marketing strategy, because the potential for laughing at/being annoyed by/saying “wtf” at a piece of art trumps its aesthetics. The result, of course, is a somewhat toxic cycle where those people who are willing to wear lampshades on their heads over and over take attention away from artists who are trying to figure out what the hell they’re doing, and who don’t want to play for laughs to the cheap seats in order to establish a foothold.

America is in the midst of a massive crack-up. Our TV screens are filled with hours of fiction called reality TV. Our public discussion is poisoned by the surreality of each politician feeling entitled to their own set of facts. And what we might call art or culture or even entertainment is so sticky with the stench of compromise and inanity that it drowns out all the legitimate attempts by artists to navigate this country we find ourselves inhabiting.

There are those who answer my first question as to the starting point of the crack-up by pointing to the October 17, 2004 off-the-record Karl Rove interview with Ron Suskind, in which the term, “reality based community” was introduced to the cultural lexicon.

(Rove) said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.

Rove of course was referring to his understanding that “the facts” that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was only relevant to “the reality based community”. To the rest of the country with their own media-sphere (Fox News and Rush Limbaugh), they were no more important than the “fact” of Kim Kardashians wedding or Rebecca Black’s musical talent. Why even bother naming it as fake? We are all in on the joke.

Here is the problem. Life in America in 2012 is no joke. And we have the Republican Party to blame for that, no matter what nonsense Karl Rove will spend $300 million spewing into our collective consciousness for the next 11 months. Here are the facts.George Bush and the Republicans accomplished two things between 2000 and 2006 (when the Democrats retook the Congressional majority): They cut taxes for the 1% and they started the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here is what happened.

But in lying us into a war in Iraq that led to at least 100,000 deaths and a couple of trillion of our tax dollars down the drain; and lying to the people about who was really benefitting from Bush’s Tax cuts–in all this, the Republicans have brought us to the brink of another great depression.

Why did we forget that Eisenhower had told us this moment would arrive?

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

It was Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich and all their K Street friends that Ike was warning us against.

So if we are going to wake up from this “consensual hallucination” (Bill Gibson’s depiction in Neuromancer of The Matrix, which was the other signpost of our reality distortion field), we must have a strategy for coming to the struggles we are going to face with honesty and compassion. It has been the continuing obsession of this writer that we are in the midst of a historical/cultural “interregnum”; a time when “the old is dying and the new cannot be borne.” These interegnums, like the twelve years after King Charles I beheading when Cromwell ruled the British Isles, can get pretty crazy and near the end comes a crack-up.

We are in that moment but we are not alone. Call it faith, meditation, transcendentalism, yoga, spirituality, church, song, gospel, prayer—there are ties that bind us. We need to start talking about that, out loud, not just in our churches or our private prayers. I know I’m making lots of my secular/academic friends uncomfortable when I say this, but I really don’t care. I came to the civil rights movement in January of 1963 when the Chaplin of Yale ,Bill Coffin came to my school and said that the Civil Rights Movement was “the moral issue of our time”. There was no distance between faith and justice. I don’t know how this plays out , but Alex Bowles sent me this link which we both thought signaled some interregnum moment.

So the way forward seems rather clear to me. Sixty years of this nonsense has to be stopped.

This election should be fought on this pie chart. Where are we going to spend our collective wealth? On guns, jet fighters and tanks or on schools, hospitals and roads. This will mean that the Democrats will have to have the courage to fight the “soft on terrorism” brickbrats thrown by Newt or Mitt. Ron Paul is already used to hearing this bullshit, and it doesn’t seem to be bothering him.

As I said, we live in strange times.

The choice is ours if we wake up.

This entry was posted in Barack Obama, Corruption, Defense Policy, Interregnum, Military Spending, Religion, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

59 Responses to American Crack-Up

  1. timotheus says:

    Well said. I still can’t get over it, but we are indeed living in Fantasyland. The outcome promises to be not so pretty.

  2. Rob Grocholski says:

    The sound of the rhetoric was the whine of a dog-whistle. Emanating from a high-jacked twitter feed. :)

  3. Jon Taplin says:

    Rob-“Neuromancer” reference duly noted. Good one!

  4. JTMcPhee says:

    Great rant, mine host — but are you just becoming aware of what our multivoracity has sparkled off into? And anyway,

    What’s the big deal?

    What we got is those End-of-Empire, Me-First, Voluntary-Association, Particularized-Perversion, Innovation-Driven, Marketing-Magic blues. A magical land of Worgonized Opportunity, where Money is just lying around on the ground to be picked up by the picker-uppers who can see it and bend over far enough to reach it. And who are smart and quick enough not to have something jammed up their bungs while flexed, or their pockets picked, or simply knocked on the head by some predator quicker and deadlier than them.

    There’s nothing left of any kind of commonality of purpose, other than self-aggrandizement and self-pleasing, with little or large -little vortices of temporary paralleling of self-interest like the spindizzy shorthanded as the “military-industrial complex,” and now the “prison-industrial complex” and the “financial-industrial complex” and the “entertainment-industrial complex” with the Intellectual Property Sidecar, and all driven by an economy (that misleading moniker) driven by Innovation and that touching faith in Growth. People go to work every day to develop ever more particularized, differentiated, innovative stuff like Toothbrushes With Names,, there has to be 10,000 all-different, ALL-NEW, IMPROVED!, “Better!” toothbrush models and styles on the Profitable Trail from wellhead oil to landfill fill.

    “we” don’t get to decide where to spend our collective wealth. That happens in offices with nice furniture and nicer views, way out of sight of the people who actually create the Real Wealth, the stuff you can eat and shelter under and use to make stuff “we” need, as opposed to crap we can be snookered by Demand Manufacturers into yearning for, pining for, lusting after. Whether it’s Wrist Chronometers or the latest UAV or some line of shit about “TerraCommyamuslumists.”

    So link arms with Papola and R. Pauls on this (bearing in mind that THEY will only do so, “link arms” that is, as a way of extending their own personal hegemony — they do not so much march in step as force the ranks to wheel right toward their own Particularized Perversions) and try to face down the Beast that’s already loose in the land.

    And big tits, a big bootie, and lips like a cut ripe fig ain’t, like, NOwhere, man, but that’s only true for us older white folks (and other skin tones too — I am pinkish-cream-yellow-tan, and my neighbor is ruddy-golden-chocolate) who have discovered that all the stuff that happens after 10 pm, including the Nightly News, is really No Big Deal. The few of us, that is, that adhere to some of those antiquated notions of deferred or declined gratification and politeness and decency and shame and that silly Golden Suggestion…

    Best of luck!

  5. BERNARD. says:

    When will all this preemptive nuclear grandiloquent bullshit END.

  6. John Papola says:

    Agreed that Bush sucks, Rove sucks, they’re warmongering liars and we need to end all of that. But then there’s this:

    “This election should be fought on this pie chart. Where are we going to spend our collective wealth? “

    Problem #1: this notion of “discretionary spending” is a farce. It’s ALL “discretionary”. So show the REAL pie chart which includes SS and Medicare. Don’t use the “I’m giving away my left-bias with this fake pie chart that makes military spending look like more than half of the total”.

    Here’s the REAL chart:
    Military is 23%… equal to federal pensions, which are also 23%. Oh, and… um.. where the HELL is “interest on the debt” in your graph? Because interest is 9% of total spending… and surely rising.

    Problem #2: What is this “we” and “our collective wealth”. Why can’t it be the case that the real “we” should be allowed to determine this on our own to a much greater extent? At least less localize it via… New Federalism!!!

    Public choice economics applies. The incentives in government are such that the money will ALWAYS be a crony-driven rip off system.

    But, agreed on the gist of it. Newt is out of his g-damned mind. Romney would be Obama II without any meaningful difference I can imagine.

    Vote your conscience. Vote Ron Paul. Dispel with the delusion that you must vote for the “lesser of two evils” as if your vote matters in that way. Vote your beliefs if you give a damn about democracy at all. Because it’s a yes/no mechanism. Crude. Limited in utility. But it’s what we’ve got for public governance.

  7. Jon Taplin says:

    @Papola-John, you are wrong. There is a difference between discretionary and non-discretionary spending. Social Security is a promise made by previous generations to Americans. You want to reneg on that promise. OK, fight an election on reneging. Don’t clothe it in some Hayakien bullshit. What we can change from year to year without reneging on a promise, is discretionary spending. That’s what we can do in 2012, cut the National Security state spending.

  8. Jon Taplin says:

    @JTM-Don’t be so damn cynical, man. This is a fight worth having. You have been inspirational to me in your well-focused anger. This is no time to surrender.

  9. len says:

    56%? Well, at least where I’m sitting, that’s job security. When Hollywookie insiders take the position that fantasy is bad business, one wonders what bad business they’ll be in next. Usually…. politics. What Obama Inc isn’t telling you: how much money is made bringing armies home. It’s lucrative.

    A high horse is a point of view. If you’re riding it, you can look around, look up or look down on those who are walking. If you’re walking behind it, you have to keep looking down and trust your nose for the rest.

  10. JTMcPhee says:

    @John Papola
    If “we” had a real form of “democracy” to give a damn about, I would still never dump a vote or a dog-doo on a Paulist front lawn. I doubt you vote your “conscience,” or what I might call a “conscience,” using MY definition which is the only correct one for this discourse; more than enough of the real tooth’n’clawism peeks through your “Admit you agree with me on this issue” to make it clear you and the other 23 “libertarians” hope to draw a lot of people into voting, in the name of supposed we’re-mostly-sort-of-on-the-same-side-on-this-one “solidarity,” for YOUR interests, in the mistaken impression that you have some interest in the bettering of things for most people. You have this pretextual front you put up, inviting people of good will to see some “commonality of interest,” and to “lock arms” and enter into “coalition” with your little set of contubernals, and another and darker aim in your mind’s eye. Seems to me, your “we” is actually just “you,” or a very small circle around you, all engaged in drawing in real wealth and spewing out externalities and counterfeits, while sputtering about Scottish-Banker “reputation.” Machiavelli had advice on how to do it. So did Trotsky, and other luminaries.

    JT, no surrender here. Maybe no prisoners, either, the way the bad/ignorant guys are playing the game. I just want to do my puny, al most invisible little bit to try to keep all the bits and pieces and their relationships and interactions that I can see and sense out in the open, try to encourage people to see them clear of the fog and all in harsh relief, and maybe understand that Things Don’t Just Go On And Mostly Work Out OK for the most of us. In large part because we can be so easily led by our dicks and our amygdalas and our tribal, no-longer-survival-supporting idiocies. As I see them, of course. Everyone can have whatever opinion and truth they want to. Because it’s a free country. Isn’t it?

    Has the innovation project produced any good stuff for helping illuminate folks blinded by the flapping of flags and the playing of various cards from the marked deck called “sociopolitics?” Visuals and visualizations of, like, what the military people really do all day, private to general officer, and their advisers and contractors? Or what’s up with screwing around with the ol’ human genome, which strikes me currently is like turning a Model T shade-tree mechanic loose to do a tune-up on a 2012 Acura TSX? One little thing I see is that there’s a group taking upon itself the inventorying, monetizing and subdivision of the Whole. Fucking. Ocean, using the marvelous innovations in GIS and imaging. It sounded scarier when it was first called “ocean spatial planning;” most everybody likes “zoning,” of course… It’s boring, and generally safe ground. And the “White House” is hoping, I guess, that weak people who need a sense of order and a belief in Rules and Laws and Institutions will just say, okay, I can adjust to that, and it won’t kill the planet fast enough to burn me and my kids…

    See how there’s so much more that is so important and is so hidden behind the hooters and buns of one or all of the rubber-and-plastic “celebrity personalities” that grace your caption above? So much is possible, so much is profitable, so little inclines toward the survivable, or at least metastable, Ideal…

  11. JTMcPhee says:

    With a whimper, or a bang… not sure when. But I personally can go on ahead and shut up, if that will help…

    How’s the weather down there, ‘migo? Quite an incredible sunrise-to-sunset here today, little altocumulus puffs whipping across from the northeast, 75 degrees and 50% humidity. Good day to replace the hose from the aft head to the poop-water holding tank in the keel…

  12. JTMcPhee says:

    And as to Ron Paul, and leopards changing their spotted pelts for nice serious suits and ties, and in case anyone is not following the way Papola and the Paulists play the game, it’s not like there’s no history or insight caught in the ‘net to help clarify how the Beast hopes to turn loose the wolves of Free Market Capitalism, whatever the Grand Strategy really is. However they variously insist that critter is defined and scribed.

    Let me note, first, that I’m a great admirer of Greenwald’s work, and I think the initial thrust of this post was essentially correct — the Paul story is being absurdly overlooked. But when he writes:

    Regardless of one’s ideology, there is simply no denying certain attributes of Paul’s campaign which are highly laudable. There have been few serious campaigns that are more substantive — just purely focused on analyzing and solving [or providing shallowly plausible, hidden-doctrinaire “solutions” for — my edit] the most vital political issues. There have been few candidates who more steadfastly avoid superficial gimmicks, cynical stunts, and manipulative tactics. There have been few candidates who espouse a more coherent, thoughtful, consistent ideology of politics, grounded in genuine convictions and crystal clear political values.

    Well, we have to part company. Because as I’ve been explaining in some detail (along with Sara), Paul has so far managed to pull off something of a neat trick: Appearing thoughtful and principled, even though his beliefs and principles are largely derived from the extremist far right — a fact that he’s wisely muted in the campaign. You don’t hear Ron Paul talking about the New World Order a lot in the press, largely because no one is asking him about it — but in reality, he hasn’t changed his beliefs appreciably since the days he was touring the militia K-ration banquet circuit.

    That is to say, Greenwald is right, so far as it goes: Paul is consistent and coherent within the realm of his belief system, but those beliefs aren’t simply the benign libertarianism that Paul has erected as his chief public image, and which Greenwald appears to have absorbed. Paul’s beliefs, in fact, originate with the conspiracy-theory-driven far right of the John Birch Society and Posse Comitatus. He’s just been careful not to draw too much attention to that reality, even though he has occasionally let the curtain slip.

    I would say the vast majority of “Patriot” movement followers and similar far-right extremists, in fact, are actually very wonkish in the same fashion as Ron Paul about their beliefs, and construct arcane and fairly rigorous rationalizations for them, very consistent within their universes, many of them to an impressive degree. But that overlooks, of course, that their founding premises are almost entirely bogus.

    Greenwald is hardly alone in missing this element: I think a large number of voters have managed to do so as well.

    But Wait — There’s More! if you want to jump to the link above and read old news about unchanging stories. More I recall about Scientology, more the parallels to Paulism kind of jump out at me.

    And True Believers or Fellow Travelers or Fifth Columnists of the “libertarian” persuasion, those of you who hope to shell-game the Electorate into setting a Paul in the Oval Office, please jump in and offer any corrections or nuances to explain away the following list of Paulist faux-“freedom” positions:

    All of which are about radical changes, none of which seemingly resonating with any kind of general improvement in the lot of humankind except after transport wholesale into Paul’s Alternate Universe.

  13. John Papola says:

    @Jon Taplin

    Did I say anything about “reneging on promises”? Nope. Am I running for command in chief parasite? Nope. I don’t give a damn about what is and is not “politically feasible”. That’s called “demagoguery” and “pandering”, Jon, and it’s repulsive. Don’t be a party hack on this blog.

    You KNOW that I (like Ron) favor MASSIVE military spending cuts. But there’s simply NO WAY to get a handle on government spending if the entitlements that make up more than HALF of the budget are modified. You’re being a demagogue by leaving that out of the discussion and posting the garbage graph.

    It’s ALL discretionary, Jon. ALL of it. At ANY TIME the congress can change medicare or social security with the passage of one bill. It’s already happened. So cut the crap. The fact that their spending levels are on autopilot doesn’t make them any different than military spending on how they’ll be changed (or how politically difficult it may be). Promises made that will knowingly not be kept are called… lies. That’s what social security is in its current form. And it’s being made even worse by the suspension of payroll taxes. Medicare is the bigger problem and the more destructive entitlement due to its enormous degree of price controls and central planning. But regardless, you CAN change this stuff for people under 45 years old (or whatever). Just do it. Give up the fraud.

    None of this has anything to do with Hayek. I don’t know why you brought that up.

    The western world is facing something that has never happened before: the inversion of the maker-to-taker pyramid. The elderly are living longer while the population ratio of worker to beneficiary is shrinking. This is happening across the west. It’s a SERIOUS problem. I don’t expect politicians to fix it. We’ll just run out of money, rates will rise and it’ll be a crisis-mode set of cuts. Because that’s how the DC scam artists role, kick the can, lie and demagogue… and then run away will millions like a full blown social parasite.

    So the question is, are you going to vote for Ron Paul? Because we already know that Obama is a tool of the MIC and a warmonger. So if military spending is THE issue, which it most certainly is in the short run, you MUST vote RON PAUL. Period. Or, just give this stuff up and admit to playing a pointless game of team sports.

  14. John Papola says:


    JT, show me a candidate more consistently standing in opposition to our empire-style global war machine or our increasingly horrifying police/spy state.

    Go on. Show me. Oops. You got nothin.

    Meanwhile, the evil clowns in the senate are trying to make all of us enemy combatants on one hand while the Chris Dodd and his repulsive cronies try to introduce Chinese-inspired censorship on the other.

    You may disagree with Ron Paul (and my) belief is a voluntary society where trading to serve each other delivers the goods. Whatever. I have no idea what your alternative is, since you appear to be a defeatist for humanity itself. But I find it utterly bizarre that you wouldn’t put civil liberties and peace first. That’s not liberal. That’s just nonsense.

  15. len says:

    Here I agree with Pap. It is one thing to be in the mess debating the cause. It is another not to go down fighting. Sometimes the only fight left is to make sure they know they don’t own you. A mass plank walking is the best I’ve got right now. Put together a list and the charges (from both sides of the aisle), publish it as far as you can, and root the OWSers on. On Jan 17 there is supposed to be a gathering on the Mall. If you can go, go. They have to believe we will do it. I can’t but I would. It matters.

    The Presidential race is largely a distraction. Congress is where the action has to start. Make sure that a justice-driven society is non-negotiable. I’ll say it again: if Obama had seen to that, perp-walked some Wall St and bank types, his reelection would not be in doubt even if his campaign financing would be. The hardest sell is to convince them they actually can be reelected without a mountain of media and money. See to it Elizabeth Warren wins.

    I’ll accept a few more hard economic years if everyone is in it together. As T-Bone said, I will go all hippie, but really, look at what Taplin is complaining about and ask yourselves why we do it. Did we quit believing in quality, in freedom or did we quit believing in ourselves?

    We do it to be a part of it all and all as Melanie sang. When you can be a part, when you can belong, then the money and the other crap are just stuff. Obama won last time by convincing people they could be a part, then he left them out in the cold feeling discarded like a first wife after the trophy was attainable. Look at Newt: “not pretty enough to be a President’s wife”. Do we want a guy that can think like that or do we want a guy who stays with the date that brought him to the party. And do we want to be people who walked out on the party just as the band was hitting the stage?

    I say four more years and we keep trying but the price for our vote is we see something that looks like justice, like the country we believed in still matters, is still here and we still have a voice to be heard, a power to reckon. I refuse to leave my children poor in a f888in’ police state.

  16. JTMcPhee says:

    @John Papola
    By my lights, your suggested cure is a whole lot worse than the disease. One-and-a-half seemingly sensible positions does not equal GOOOOOOAAALLLLL (and given what else I think I know about the Paulists, there’s no guarantee that words would become actions on either notion, even if by some huge mischance ol’ Ron was anointed Ruler of the Free (sic) World.) It’s not like there’s no recent evidence of Changemaster politicians promising one Hopeful thing and delivering something else altogether. There’s lots of True Believers with one or two “good ideas” who got the chance to shove their version of the Right Social Forms down a lot of people’s throats, which is what the Paulists would be doing if they had the chance. People like Oliver Cromwell and Pol Pot, among too many others. Your concern about civil liberties is touching, given Paul’s positions on a wide variety of issues including abortion, and gee, will all the Changes that will be necessary to achieve your “voluntary trade” future bring a new flood of Civil Rights? Not to an abortion, or to Social Security, or to have any rights or protections against environmental pollution, or dangerous job conditions, or predatory financialists, or a whole bunch of other stuff that already is under attack with the result that there’s a strong and growing sense of 1% versus 99%, and your and Ronnie’s preferences, gee whiz, benefit which part again?


    — He has favored all manner of other right-wing policies, in the following case with a single bill, which includes provisions for such things as supporting corporal punishment, requiring that young people seeking reproductive care have their parents notified, allowing churches and religious organizations that run “public” services to discriminate against potential clients, and moving us back to school segregation.

    H.R.7955: A bill to strengthen the American family and promote the virtues of family life.

    Fortunately, Ron Paul rarely gets anywhere with his proposals. I doubt there would be many progressives, or even many liberals, who would like where this man comes from politically, or where he wants to take us.

    Amen, and halelueah to that last.!

    As to “peace” and civil liberties, your “amazement” is surprising, since this one little person puts both issues very much up front in the ranking of desirables. As far as I can see, however, there is no freakin’ way that your “voluntary (hahahaha) trade” mashup would produce a whit’s improvement for the 99%, compared to what we got, and there’s a whole lot of dark underbelly downsides to what you pray for. Your window-dressing does a lousy job of hiding what’s going on back in the store.

    My hope is that some bubbling-up of deep, ancient, species wisdom will be expressed through the Occupy manifestation, and folks will learn they do not have to be hag-ridden by monsters like the MIC, the “financial industry” and the rest. Already, there’s lots of small parts of the polity in Terram America that are off the books, off the grid, all without getting sucked into the tooth’n’claw version of “economics” espoused by libertarians. Seems to me that’s the alternative — what you peddle is a pretty sour, soulless borscht.

  17. John Papola says:


    Whatever man. Keep your eyes closed while the biggest, most powerful government the world has ever seen continues to give TRILLIONS to the richest people alive while bombing the poor all around the world.

    Anyone that actually pays attention to Ron Paul knows exactly where his priorities are, not this crank you’ve quoted with their weasel words. Show me where Ron Paul has advocated “moving us back to school segregation”.

    Show me. Provide the source.

    Never mind, of course, that our current K-12 disaster IS SCHOOL SEGREGATION BY ZIPCODE. Why compare Dr. Paul’s positions to ACTUAL REALITY when you can spew loaded bile with the assumption that nirvana is our alternative?

    And your posts on Dr. Paul so smack of pure nirvana fallacy. Dr. Paul is far and away the best of a collection of flawed options. His issues have ALWAYS been the warfare state, civil liberties and the Fed. The Fed is the very heart of cronyism in this country. But you’d rather discount him because *gasp* he supports having parents notified before their 16 year old gets an abortion, as if that is a completely insane position (it’s not. I’m a parent. I’d want to know. I’m the legal guardian of my child damn it.)

    Already, there’s lots of small parts of the polity in Terram America that are off the books, off the grid, all without getting sucked into the tooth’n’claw version of “economics” espoused by libertarians.

    Yeah… because libertarians stand in the way of such independent activity… or perhaps they represent probably the single biggest percentage of survivalists out there. Or, um, perhaps it’s the department of homeland security who’s labeling these very people you mention as “domestic terrorists”. Open your eyes. The people you seem to want to empower in the state are already the oppressors. It’s like watching those kids get peppersprayed in the face and then having them say “thank you sir, may I have another… so long as you forgive my state-inflated student loan debt”.

    You don’t have a clue what you’re talking about when you slam libertarians like myself or Ron Paul. Our ideal isn’t going to tell you what to do, won’t grant any special privileges to the rich (as the current regime does in spades) and will end the warfare state, the insane fascistic war on drug(users) and the rest of this illiberal disaster show.

    Look, I don’t necessarily agree with all of Ron Paul’s own beliefs. But he’s right on the biggest issues we face. The attacks on him as a some kind of authoritarian on social issues doesn’t seem to comport with anything I’ve seen him say or support in the past 5 years.

    It really is just nuts to rail against what’s happening and then not offer any vision for an alternative at all. You’ve got none.

    Ron Paul on Gay marriage: “all voluntary associations whether they’re economic or social should be protected by the law”.

  18. John Papola says:


    Thanks for that, Len. Agreed that the presidential election is a distraction. This election isn’t any more important than any other. It’s bread and circuses.

    One thing, though. Liz Warren is an intellectually dishonest hack who’s an unknowing (or perhaps knowing) tool of the very people her fans claim that she is “fighting against”. Don’t buy into here demagoguery and lies.

  19. Alex Bowles says:


    The Presidential race is largely a distraction. Congress is where the action has to start.

    Indeed. To the extent that the Presidential race does matter, it will have to do with how – exactly – the winner intends to bring checks and balance a body that has neither.

    Steven Van Zant (yes, that Steven Van Zant, who turns out to be a recovering political-junkie) points to Buckley v. Valeo as the root of much evil. Specifically, it provides the ruling that money is protected by the First Amendment. The commitment he wants from prospective law-makers reads like this.

    I, The Undersigned, pledge to overturn Buckley v. Valeo and eliminate all private finance from the electoral process, thusly restoring America to its democratic principles. I may take corporate, PAC, SuperPAC, or Chinese money to get elected or reelected (martyrdom accomplishes nothing), but upon my election I will make campaign finance elimination one of my immediate top priorities.

    It’s brass-knuckled, to be sure. And Van Zant goes on to say that he’s probably not the best person to carry it forward. Really promoting a demand like this calls for the bully pulpit – which would be an enormously useful thing in the hands of someone willing and able to use it.

    Full SVZ op-ed here:

  20. len says:

    Thanks Alex. Tao Rodriguez Seeger sent that out to us on his FB page. Surprisingly well written.

    A friend of mine who worked for Clinton and works for Biden says they’ve been trying to get Obama to use the bully pulpit. He seems to have his own sense of timing and he may not be wrong, but if he lets that bill go through allowing the military to grab us at will, he’s toast because the hard left is watching that one closely and what starts at the edges has a way of making it to the spindle before the needle does. On the other hand, the Republicans are committing mass suicide politically.

    What is one bright spot is if Newt is the Dude, we may get to watch one of the more “intelligent” campaigns in years. Depending on how one rates intelligence, the debates will be barnburners. Weirdly, Ron Paul is coming on too. A Newt/Huntsman ticket wouldn’t surprise me.

    @pap: that’s interesting. Any links on that we should read?

    While I would vote Obama given the choices today, it’s a long way to next November and we really need better choices given what we are seeing slouching toward B-Hem.

    Starting chemo on Monday. Apologies in advance. Five months of it rattles the brain and there are only so many indulgences I can beg here.

  21. Alex Bowles says:

    @len Fingers crossed for you, len. My brother went through that (twice) and the effect was chilling. I suspect your friends here will be very indulgent.

    And about the NDAA bill – RT(!) is reporting that Obama was threatening to veto this not because it authorized indefinite detention of Americans without charge or trial, but because the Senate – having caught so much public flack for something so obviously monstrous – had removed that language. Now that it’s back in, the White House has lifted the veto threat.

    Senator Levin – who had become the unfortunate face of this bill – is now acting like Pontius Pilate, trying to wash his hands of the whole thing by saying “this isn’t what we want, it’s what the President called for”. Compounding this atrocity is the irony of getting news about it from the Russians, while our own press pulls a Pravda and says nothing (distracted, no doubt, by a stray Kardashian)

    As a friend of mine just said “Indefinite detention without trial – of anyone, much less a goddamned American citizen – is unAmerican. Hell, it’s un-goddamn-13th-Century-Magna-Carta-ian.” And he’s hardly hard-left. Indeed, he works for Jerry Brown’s office in DC, and is a resolutely work-from-within kind of guy. If you’re right about things starting at the edge, this one is making it to the spindle with astonishing speed.

    And you’re right about this being watched closely. One observant soul noted that the Bill of Rights was ratified precisely 220 years ago (December 15, 1791). I cannot think of a more mind-blowingly awful way to mark that anniversary. American crack-up indeed. This is unforgivable.

  22. len says:

    @alex: I heard about the WH withdrawing their veto threat from Rachel Maddow last night.

    Well, too bad for Obama. We may elect someone really far from the center. The lunatic fringe can beat him to death with this using all the racial canards, elitist canards, pretty much full on semiotic carnage. And then comes The Strong (pickagender). Feels more like Weimar every day.

  23. John Papola says:

    Bravo, Alex.

    This is unforgivable. It’s horrifying and if there were any justice for the scum that occupy our capital, Obama would be impeached and imprisoned for what he’s seeking here (along with the Libyan war).

    Anyone who votes for Obama at this point might as well wear a “I’m fine with fascism” pin. That he has actually OUTDONE Bush on warmongering and destruction of long-fought enlightenment freedoms should have every supporter with a brain taking to the streets in explicit protest of these actions. Instead, far too many are taking to the streets hoping that this evil thug will pay off their student loans or give them something else for “free”. Sigh.

  24. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    @Papola—I’m w/Len on the “are there any links we should read” regarding Elizabeth Warren. Please substantiate your claim. Not picking a fight—legitimately want to read the opposition.

    And, bang on for calling bullshit on the “reneging on a promise” argument. Yes, working Americans have paid into SS all their lives, but my understanding of the intent was “safety net” not “retirement plan”; it was supposed to supplement personal savings and/or company/union provided pensions (which have gone the way of the dodo w/out much complaint). So, thinking people, seeing that pensions are disappearing, figure, well, I need to bump up my savings (401K or otherwise)—and then companies find ways of looting those (ask Len) and reduce my debt, while unthinking people borrow on their home equity and figure Social Security will be there for them (I’ll have what they’re having). Anyway, SAFETY NET, not RETIREMENT PLAN. The REFUSAL of our .gov to GROW A SET (or sets) and raise the retirement age immediately (not some stupid, phased in time in the future when they’re all living safely on their government pensions) is [insert random string of profanity here]. Pap’s right, it is discretionary. The retirement age needs to be raised to adjust for the realities of longer lifespan, longer working life (there is no Constitutional provision guaranteeing people the right to retire when they’re 55 or 60—at least none I’m aware of), and better medical care (for those who are lucky enough to have either insurance or Medicare). It needs to be adjusted NOW. Congressional pensions shouldn’t exist, but if they exist, they should be forfeited if the recipient doesn’t “really” retire but, rather, continues to suck government tit (the front tit, Len) while raking in a living most of us would envy (well, maybe not our host) on book deals, appearance fees, a squishy ‘consulting’ jobs. Hey, you want to work, work. You want to retire, retire, but don’t do both (at least not at taxpayer expense). Medicare & healthcare costs are their own big mess and I don’t think a private/free market solution will work (largely because I don’t think the “free market” exists), but sucking up to the AARP is NOT the way to effect meaningful change for anyone other than the boomers.

    The Presidential dialogue is irrelevant because all of the options (in the word of MY generation) SUCK. It’s more of the same, or worse.

  25. Roman says:


    “I’ll say it again: if Obama had seen to that, perp-walked some Wall St and bank types, his reelection would not be in doubt even if his campaign financing would be.”

    Slam dunk! Lights-out! Game over! No-doubt about it!

    If it’s that obvious, why hasn’t the “smartest man in America” meted the appropriate justice?

    Why this has been and continues to be Obama’s biggest blind-spot is mind boggling. By refusing to take action, he seems to imply that he can make the 800-gorilla go away by simply ignoring it. But the fact is, the injustice of not pursuing justice makes Obama complicit in the crimes he’s decided to ignore.

    Truth is, it can’t be ignored, or can its associated anger be re-directed via memes like “income inequality”. Justice is visceral, it’s something that cuts to the core. And the reminders of injustice are everywhere, everyone knows someone who’s suffering in one way or another.

    One of the more interesting aspects of this issue (justice) is how it hasn’t been confined to any particular demographic; the lunch counter gets it, tailgaters & cocktail partiers get it, soccer moms get it, board rooms get it. Why does everyone but Obama get it?

    I’ve said this here before, this issue will define Obama’s place in history. Not health care reform, the two wars, unemployment, TARP – etc. It provides a window into his thinking like nothing else in public circulation.

    So again, why has the “smartest man in America” decided to sit on his hands? Particularly if taking action virtually guarantees his re-election. It calls to mind Emanuel’s now infamous line

    “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

    Which is scarier, the President of the United States taking a blind eye the injustices surrounding the biggest theft in the history of the world, or the “things” the same believes are possible as a consequence of his in-action?

  26. len says:

    The wrinkle, another correspondent informed me, is the Congress has to approve the financing for the DoJ to pursue the investigation. And they won’t. Someone else will have to vette that claim. IOW, no one is willing to bite the hand holding their leashes. Back in the day, a Senate investigation or a House investigation would have opened up with full TV coverage. Think of the Watergate, the Clarence Thomas hearings, yadda. We aren’t seeing those. Why? Meanwhile in a defense appropriations bill habeas corpus is being taken away. Outside of Rachel Maddow, no one is saying anything. Why?

    It gets screwier and screwier. That is why the only thing I know to do is have a mass walk the plank party; use the pirate polifix: if the captain and secret crew screw the crew, fire them all. Make them feel what the President of Egypt is feeling, not a Gadafhi or what Assad will endure shortly I suspect. Real public humiliation; real small room with Brutus the Father Raper.

    It would be mass carnage but I know of nothing else that will make them understand we mean it when we say we want our country back.

    I’m all for the front tit.

  27. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    Hmmm. Maybe that’s what I REALLY mean when I tell my kids and my staff to “move forward”!

  28. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    I mean, we fire them all and put in a bunch of rookies. Then next election another bunch of rookies, or the old guys, and back & forth for several election cycles and what do we get? Scary legislation. Legislation that gets enacted & repealed, enacted & repealed, ad nauseum, no legislation at all. Oh. Wait. We have that NOW.

  29. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    But at least with the “fire them all, fire them constantly” program there is the POSSIBILITY that they will pull their collective head our of their arse and get down to doing the peoples’ business (which does involve a certain amount of compromise).

  30. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    So maybe what we really need is to frame the election coverage as “Survivor meets The Apprentice.” About as relevant, but more entertaining. Pass the SOMA please.

  31. Roman says:


    Hmm…the list of “head scratchers” just keeps getting longer. Perhaps JTM can shed some light into the process of investigating something like the financial implosion. Surely they don’t all require Congressional appropriation approval. I thought all it took was something like “Eric, get it done!”

  32. Pingback: Neo-Con Rising -

  33. Morgan Warstler says:

    John, you and yours make the war happen…

    Ask yourself this…

    If you weren’t trying to spend other people’s money…

    So the only choice was KEEP YOUR MONEY or GO TO WAR…

    Lots and lots of folks would choose the KEEP YOUR MONEY piece.

    Instead your bullshit turns it into a different question:

    SINCE TAPLIN WILL SPEND YOUR MONEY ANYWAY, how’d you like to buy lots of guns and throw our weight around???

    You are the problem here.

    If you weren’t around, basic GREED would keep us from war.

    You don’t let people be greedy, you bring war on yourself.

  34. len says:

    If you weren’t around, basic GREED would keep us from war.

    You don’t let people be greedy, you bring war on yourself.

    Wow. A pure objectivist. I thought all of those had long since melted in the rain.

    The problem of the design based on pure motives of any kind is not recognizing that no one has any. You can’t get out of the system any more than you can touch your left elbow with your left pinkie finger. It’s layered and the only way to change it is to find signals with values that cause the next layer above or below to shift. You might be able to skip layers but that’s cheating (go outside the system).

    If you watched Fox News today, you saw the drummers beating for war loud and bangy. Does anyone still thinking for themselves believe Iran intends to attack us anymore than Hussein did? They are way more afraid of being attacked. That’s why they have our so-called “secret drone”. The drone is BS, a trojan horse, a saucer full of secrets intended to scare the bejeebers out of them and everyone else.

    “To the scardiest one: Know by this that in all immensity, there are bigger meaner psychos than you ready to kick your robed islamic psycho asses into the next creation.”

  35. Alex Bowles says:

    @John Papola
    We may have found one point on which we agree entirely. Core civil liberties – freedom of expression; rights of assembly; habeas corpus and due process in open court with a jury of one’s peers; privacy by default breeched only by judicial warrants providing specific and articulable facts supporting suspicion of crime – are all non-negotiable in my book.

    I see a lot more about government that’s positive than you. But I do recognize that its power is a magnet for people who don’t belong anywhere near it. Attracting those bastards is inevitable, and admitting a few is unavoidable, which is what makes the sanctification of civil liberties such and important safety mechanism. In a country where the last election determined whether Sarah Palin would be within a heartbeat of the Presidency, and the next one may place Newt Gingrich in contention for the White House, one would have to be astonishingly forgetful, shortsighted, desperate and/or insecure to erode these protections for any reason whatsoever.

    More than protection from malevolence, they also underpin the social conditions needed for non-traumatic evolution of civic life. Presently, we’re in the grip of a communications revolution at the same time we’re confronting (or ignoring) the end of an economic era. Combine this with the growing alarm generated by a looming energy crisis forming the biggest brick in a whole wall of resource issues that are likely to play out badly on a planet with 10 billion lightly employed and poorly fed people, and the need for change takes on the intensity of a klaxon-horn. In other words, it’s precisely the wrong time to undermine the liberal (as in free) social state most conducive to healthy adaptation.

    Indeed, we seem to be seeing a covert war being waged on the change people are trying to make. Because so much of this change stems from deep yet largely unconscious reactions that are only vaguely articulable at present – a great murmuring of discontent – people who see themselves as having a lot to lose regardless of what happens are busy attacking the underpinnings of the social order that permits consensus to emerge and crystalize effectively. I see the (again, instinctive) tendency of OWS folks to operate in a leaderless fashion as a swift and savvy reaction to the search for easy targets. They recognize that there’s nothing innocent or neutral about “confusion” expressed by high-profile “reporters” who say they’re “baffled” by why these protests are resonating. Knowing that people this apparently stupid are anything but, it’s important not to operate it ways that can be easily misrepresented by people who misrepresent for a living.

    Yes, leaders will be needed eventually, but not until they can count on enough support to protect them from what they’re going up against. And we’re not there yet. In the meantime, folks on the wrong side of this change seem to be increasingly focused efforts to ensure that this political tipping point is never reached.

    That effort is profoundly misguided. The resource issues alone will prevent the sustained suppression of change. As the Greens like to say, Nature doesn’t do bail outs. And as the more realistic economists have noted, debts that can’t be repaid won’t be repaid. In the meantime, there’s simply increasing damage done to the core of civil society – the restoration, or rather, the recreation of which is the whole point of positive social development.

    One of my favorite artists is Lebbeus Woods. He refers to himself as a theoretical architect, and focused, at one point, on the reconstruction of buildings and urban settings damaged by forces both unpredictable and uncontrollable, human or otherwise (e.g. politics, war, natural disaster). He recently posted a beautifully illustrated summary of the process.

    Though it refers, specifically, to physical buildings it is broadly conceptual, meaning it’s approach is readily transferable to the domain of political structures. Reading this, I thought that we’re still on the “it gets worse before it gets better” side of the curve, and that the process Woods is outlining is something we’ll need to do with our Constitution and Bill of Rights once the bombing has actually stopped – which I’m confident it will, eventually.

    @Roman Exactly right. The argument that Obama has been too focused on stabilizing the economy to worry about justice presupposes the absurd notion that justice isn’t good economic policy. In reality, there is a direct correlation between a country’s place on Transparency International’s corruption index, and the economic prospects of its people.

  36. JTMcPhee says:

    When I worked at EPA, from Carter through half of Reagan, there were some budget issues, and purse-string initiatives in Annual Budget Wars to divest such bits of effective enforcement that were going on of operating money. I don’t know if authorizations and appropriations are now controlled by the House down to the level of bill provisions that if stripped of obfuscatory lingo actually read “do not investigate Wall Street using the funds we give you to fuck over little drug crimes and do the Waronterrah Wooly-Booly,” but I bet they do. There is some “give” in the system — Back then, DoJ raped EPA’s Superfund budget (another boondoggle) for money, a couple or a hundred million from the cleanup fund created by a tax on petrochemical feedstocks under CERCLA (remember that?) to set up a huge DoJ-wide computer system that I am told has morphed into part of the State Security Apparatus. (Interestingly, “petroleum” got exempted from the set of “hazardous substances” required to be cleaned up under the Superfund program. What a surprise…)

    I do bet that if Holder and Oquisling wanted to, they could eke out paychecks for DoJ lawyers and services, and maybe find a few bucks to hire a handicapped accountant to try to make the scams understandable to a jury of “Kardashiopeers.” Of course, in due course the few lawyers and experts who figured out how to cram down the Dream Teams fielded by Blankfein et al would get bought out by offers of Big Money. leaving a few place holders to “negotiate” the “big settlements” that would be the pittance of retribution the rest of us would be told to be happy with. Some folks here poo-poo my cynicism, but I done seen a little bit of how things actually work as a participant, and am pretty sure I am, sadly, tuned to perceive more evidences of the reality through the various fogs and smokescreens.

    And Congress critters could, if they cared to, have a grand old time doing some grandstanding with hearings like the ones they ran on the Reaganauts’ scamming of the environmental statutes. I actually was called to testify before Levitas’s subcommittee about Dow Chemical being allowed, invited actually by then deputy Administrator Hernandez, to re-write a major EPA report on nasty discharges from its Midland plant to the Tittabawasee River and Saginaw Bay. One tiny little piece of everything that the Heritage Foundation’s “Mandate For Leadership” Big Book On How To Hijack The Government For The Benefit Of A Tiny Few helped set in motion. (Footnote: observe how even the most ardent congrescritter phrases questions and issues — seldom effective direct or cross-examination, just epxressions of concern, and ‘what do you have to say about that?”)

    Interesting that nobody seems to give a shit about any of that stuff any more, stuff that has just gotten worse. Too many sets of boobs and asses flapping around, obscuring the survival necessities and the real threats to them.

    There’s no person or group with the will or the clout or the desire to stand against what’s happening. Way too many of the individuals that make up the US population are invested or interested or profiting or getting a paycheck from or oblivious to the net direction of It All.

    The biological analogy as far as I can see is “disseminated intravascular coagulation,” , brought on by a combination of parasite infection and carcinogenesis.

    I hope the Occupy approach of just quietly leaning on the Juggernaut will actually stop or derail it. Not going to bet on that, or anything else other than Ragnarok. there’s just too much dysfunction, too many drivers in the direction of chaos. And my two cents is that NObody on the field of glory has a fucking prayer of making it any better, in the sense of making life more tolerable for the largest bunch of us. And that includes Ron Paul and every other Candidate, and includes my confirmed opinion that “democracy” and voting are nothing but what the hip young folks call “kabuki,” and I would call “eyewash.”

    Worgon, you are an idiot.

  37. Jon Taplin says:

    Amber-I think it just comes down to money. We figure out how to end Buckley vs. Valleho, it will work out fine. But our libertarian correspondents think this violates their right to buy politicians.

  38. John Papola says:

    Let me dig up some of the articles I’ve read about Warren’s work. I’d love to hear y’alls reaction to them. The entire premise of regulatory so-called “consumer protection” has a corporate-captured scam track record at large. But I believe she’s spun her bankruptcy research to be a demagogue. And the recent quote that got so many hot and bothered about how no businessman ever made it on their own because of roads, etc, was preposterously sloppy nonsense. Service providers do not get an indefinite equity stake in your life’s work, Liz. We pay plenty of taxes for the roads, police, etc. Surely above the market price. My home owner’s insurance isn’t an owner of my home. My doctor doesn’t have a right to garnish my wages simply because, without him, I wouldn’t have gotten the surgery I needed (hypothetically). No. Your dog doesn’t own your house just because they play a role in protecting it and the government doesn’t have a right to your income just because they already provide overpriced services (and squander the rest on murder and bailouts).

    But I digress. I’ll dig up the links.

  39. JTMcPhee says:

    @Amber in Albuquerque
    Gee, Amber, how many of your employees (and all the rest of the working stiffs who have created the productivity bulge the 1% are eating high on the hog on) were or are counting on SS as what they have been able to save as their “retirement fund?” How many of them will eat cat food and ramen until their kidneys fail? How many have been paid a fraction of that bulge equivalent to what they added? And have prices for everything that is necessary for simple lives stayed nice and cozy low? or returns on investments that are available to the Prudent People who actually had a bit more than minimal living income to save, how have those fared? And I guess it’s all their own fault that so many people live in real, as opposed to “government-defined” poverty, those folks who may never have voted for a Blue dog or Crapublican but are saddled by our faux democracy with the warlord economy we got and the global fucked-up futility of the kind of kleptocratic economy (sic) that humans will inevitably create out of every kind of starting conditions, just because of what drives enough of us who have the “smart” gene that lets them “pick up the money that is just lying around?”

    There are a lot of “voters” who think your interpretation of SS as “safety net and not retirement plan” and your casual dismissal of that “renege on a promise” thing is the real bullshit. People paid real money, even you, in the form of forced defined contributions, about 12 or 14% of their “negotiated wages,” to a retirement fund that has been robbed regularly to fund the sick and destructive parts of our economy and political participation across the planet. And now our financialists have it in mind to “renege,” to the point of dishonoring the “special treasury notes” dropped like used toilet paper in place of all that Real Money.

    Glad you have got your head around some real solutions for what ails the nation — not a quarter or a third of every dollar going to WAR, not the continued addiction to combustion and other forms of consumption, but “raise the retirement age” and all the other Red talking points. Yeah, that’s the ticket — all those “retiring” freeloading double-dipping Welfare Queen Walmart Greeters and Safeway Baggers who were too “improvident” to put away all the funds it would take to have what you might consider a comfortable lifestyle as they age.

    Lady, there is too much wrong with all of this whole schelmozzle to even really discuss it. Too many bits and pieces of Papola-style self-interest, hacking slices and steaks off the bleeding farmhorse on its way to the knackers. Hope you live to enjoy a nice space away from what’s coming next. And the vituperation and contumely and niggly little stuff that gets put up and displayed in sites like this is just the froth in front of the wall of water that is coursing out of that reservoir-turned-private-fishing-lake above Johnstown, PA. Or the shit that’s coming out of the failed machinery at Fukushima.

    I. Don’t. Care.

    I wish I could say it and believe it.

  40. Jon Taplin says:

    @Papola-please do not use words like “scum”, to describe every single person in public service. It destroys your argument. As to Warren, she’s a good person. You should be happy to get people as honest as her in government.

  41. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    Mc—I’m not saying it doesn’t stink. I’m saying it should be on the table. And I’m saying it knowing that my generation will be the one to take it in the shorts. It won’t be the boomers who can’t retire at 65 or 67. It will be me (and Morgan).

  42. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    And yeah, I’m sorry that all of the other ills that go along with this are happening, but I and you have been at this long enough that you should know where I stand on this. I rarely take Pap’s side, but on this I do. Prices go up. Wages are stagnant. Sucks. You know what else sucks? Being one of those people who worked my ass off during the boom (because I thought it was shit way back then) only to get fucked from both sides. I don’t have debt to be forgiven. And I’m not some fucking banker gettting bailed out with MY tax money. So don’t lump me in here as part of the fucking problem. YOU KNOW BETTER.

  43. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    And the stock market is rigged (not in my favor) and the banks pay shit for interest and I told a neighbor the other day that my retirement plan is buying guns & ammo because guns 1) hold their value and 2) have to be taken in person, which is hard when you have as much ammo as I do. So don’t make this about one point in my argument, which is that the minimum retirement age needs to be raised and people need to start saving again (of course I realize to do this means you have to have a job in the first place) which is why I’ve given up pretty much my entire personal life to run fucking business I didn’t want in the first place (so people who need the jobs WAY more than I do didn’t lose them).

  44. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    P.S. Sorry for the swearing (not really) and the piss-poor punctuation (really).

    I’m furious. In the last year I have given up my blog, most of my volunteer work, a big chunk of my hobby and a 20-year career doing something that IS MY CALLING (and pretty freakin’ lucrative and helping where it matters—distributed & renewable energy & grid improvement) for a brand new career that MIGHT make it so I can retire at whatever is the “normal” time. To do that, I get to try to maintain and grow a business with small offices in one of the hardest hit counties in the country and run it long distance because my salary (lower than my employees, btw) for my now FULL TIME INCLUDING NIGHTS & WEEKENDS job doesn’t pay me enough to cover my own expenses let alone let my husband quit his job (with employer subsidized health-care insurance) to move to where my offices are. Again DO NOT make me part of this problem. If I was part of the problem I would’ve sold the businesses, took the profit (my mom died—it was her retirement, to me it’s all profit, right?), let the employees fend for themselves under whatever huckster bought the shop and took a vacation. Instead, I’m working ridiculous hours for less than minimum wage while trying to figure out how to make the business profitable enough to 1) be able to either pay my staff enough to buy their own health insurance or provide subsidized insurance for all of us and 2) pay myself enough to be able to move to the state where the offices are (which means making my old money plus my husband’s salary and benefits package).

    All of this while NOT being able to control my employees’ financial behavior—I can’t tell them to buy insurance; I can’t tell them to save; I can’t tell them not to buy an ATV with their Christmas bonus.

    Seriously, the country is fucked up beyond all reason, but that doesn’t meant that personal responsibility and accountability is completely out the window.

  45. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    Then we can talk about the time with my kids and what my husband has and continues to give up because now I’m the one travelling for work and he has a full-time job he has to juggle when I’m out of town. Don’t TALK to me like I’m the problem because I think the retirement age should be raised, again not for you, but for me. Don’t talk to me like I’m the problem because I OWN a business. I’m not robbing anyone. Never have, never will. AND YOU DAMN SURE KNOW IT, Mc.

  46. len says:

    Obama signed the bill. All bets are off.

    Not sure how your friends see it, Jon, but from where I’m sitting among some pretty diehard Obama supporters, they are enraged and I don’t think pretty talk is going to change that. Some of the stuff on FB right now is damm scary including a call from a dress blue marine for armed resistance.

    While I still have a sense of humor…

  47. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    And finally (and then I will end this threadjacking and let our host delete any and all of this rant) despite all the grief that the new gig has caused and continues to cause, I still consider myself BLESSED because I was able to choose between two jobs and I still have one; my husband still has his job; and pretty much all is right in our universe. Some of that was luck. But some of it wasn’t—it wasn’t luck that landed me a decent job that turned into a great career despite a degree in English Lit. from UNLV. It was marketable skills and maintaining those skills and expanding those skills and working my ass off. It wasn’t luck that has allowed me a certain degree of financial freedom, it was my husband’s hard work and our own financial discipline. It wasn’t luck that gave me a business and employees—it was my mom’s life and all of her YEARS of hard work and sacrifice (from a childhood where her lunch often consisted of slices of bread and carrot sticks to an early death from a disease that if it weren’t for Medicare would have left her bankrupt and everything she earned in the hands of some corporate fucking hospital and pharmaceutical companies). So again—my life is blessed and I don’t take one minute of it for granted but don’t you DARE imply I’m only “in it” for myself. Not even fucking close.

  48. Alex Bowles says:

    @len And just to reiterate, the Bill of Rights was ratified precisely 220 years ago (12/15/1791). And it’s just had its most important provisions gutted by a “constitutional scholar”.

    It really doesn’t matter what else he does with his administration. In the long run, the evil that will most assuredly erupt from this travesty will eclipse the legacy of everything else he does. This is his legacy, and it’s utterly insane.

  49. Morgan Warstler says:

    Len, once again you can’t argue around it…

    “keep your money!” is a far more compelling way to end wars.

    But since Tappy WANTS THE MONEY, he’s forced to not make the most compelling argument.

    So LOGICALLY, we all KNOW Jon cares more about getting the other guy’s money than he does about ending wars.

    It is what it is, just accept it.

  50. John Papola says:

    @Jon Taplin

    Jon, people who want to push others around are scum. That’s most of the political class. They don’t deserve my respect. They must earn it. Very few have. Warren has not. She’s a demagogue.

  51. JTMcPhee says:

    @Amber in Albuquerque
    The boomers are already learning that they don’t get to retire, a major number of them, at 65 or 66, or even, with “maximum monthly benefits” of a couple of thou if they can survive until 70. And Worgon wants to steal their SS contributions to date, preferrably by stickin them on an “ice flow” in the coming Fymbulvintr, and as an Apostle of Breitbart I am sure he is well provided for by all his “hard work.”

    There is no fucking reason, other than simple, complex, sneaky, grasping greed, that there can’t be a whole lot more people who actually have something other than a debtor’s prison/work house retirement on some privatized “facility,” squeezing the last bit of slave labor out of them. Trillions for meaningless, dead-end “wars are nothing but rackets” and weapons that will eventually threaten the whole species, and trillions more of Real Wealth handed over to counterfeiters running the Financial Industry (of which the Fed system is yes, an important piece of “capital,”) and if you don’t follow how that happens, how the fuckers that run the post-national, pseudopatriotic scam called the MIC and the so artfully misnomered “investment banks,” you need to read Matt Taibbi more, and tune in to, and follow and stuff like that. I know, you are busy doing other more important productive stuff. In the meantime, people who have figured out how to be “people” for the People In Power are busy, BUSY, figuring out new ways to get folks to “hate the government” yet fund imperial wars and “pay for tax cuts for the already too fucking wealth-y out of the pittances remaining to the Lesser Breeds.” ‘N stuff like that. Like the presenters at your seminar, which is IT on a tieensieee scale, one little aberrant cell growing unrestricted by the immune system that ought to shut it down, among millions of such cells who have learned to hide from the leucocytes. There is no fucking reason we don’t have a sensible medical care system, a decent way of educating (not just job-prepping) young and old people, and lots of other General Welfare stuff, except that GREED and a certain mean-spiritedness (by both the fuckor and too many of the fuckees) in this pole dance.

    I recall much of your history from past exchanges. My rhetoric often kills clarity. I had no thought of you being in this for yourself, or one of the tapeworms. My remarks were, I hhad hoped, about a mindset that obscures that silly fundamental that I keep expecting Papola and Worgon and others to dredge up some obscure webbits to challenge: There is enough of everything that matters to go around, except for the patent maldistribution that soul-puny little self-interested people (NOT YOU), who have the likely genetically implanted knack of knowing or figuring out how to fuck large numbers of people at once, has occasioned.

    On the other hand, every vote to trash SS or force people into the hands of privatized “health UNsurance” is, in my understanding of the little tiny things that could be done to “fix” the fundamentals for the foreseeable future, a knife in the heart of comity.

  52. rh.bee says:

    The elderly are living longer while the population ratio of worker to beneficiary is shrinking. This is happening across the west. It’s a SERIOUS problem. I don’t expect politicians to fix it.

    I know this may sound ludicrous but maybe it’s time we went on stike. You know, NBA style.
    We the people demand 50% of the residual income from our labors. Walk the plank with that one baby.

  53. John Papola says:

    Two links I think the group may enjoy.

    #1. Obama the fascist liar on how he’ll close gitmo back in 2009. Instead he’s going to use it on Americans. Scum.

    #2. The best explanation of what Obama and American governance more generally REALLY is:

    Yes, yes, many of you may cringe at the term “fascism” here. But I beg for you to listen to this with an open mind, immaterial of your thoughts on Lew Rockwell. It’s very compelling. And given the actual policies of this President, I don’t consider it hyperbole in the least. He’s a fascist. Period.

  54. rh.bee says:

    Pap, just because you are paranoid as hell doesn’t mean you are wrong. In that regard I recommend to you someone fresh, someone like Ted Nugent. Yes, that’s right I heard it on talk radio straight from his mouth. Ted Nugent wants to end the war by disbanding the military and taking on that task himself. He’ll be fixing his own roads by the way and patching his own air strip. If, that is, he has time to do that while fighting the latest local forest fire.
    Yep, ol’ Ted said close to something like this, “My friends, my neighbors, my band mates, my barbecue buddies, we’ll take care of ourselves, which is why we are way against paying higher taxes.”
    So that’s it, no raise in taxes, cancel the military budget, get rid of the bridges and roads repair, and just leave those fire fighting trucks where they stand. We will home-school and guard our own. Get out of Iraq by the way, if those cra ckers want some of us just let come on.
    Wow, count on someone like Ted to tell it like it is. He is an agent of peace.

  55. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    My favorite quote from Uncle Ted? “The 2nd Amendment IS my concealed carry permit.” Of course those pesky Amendments are dropping like flies these days.

  56. David says:

    This provocative translation may represent a religious interregnum in many ways…

  57. Alex Bowles says:

    You know who isn’t afraid to say “corruption” in public? Andrew Cuomo – who, at this very early stage, looks like the single best successor to Obama.

    The culture of corruption, quote unquote, is worse than I thought…

    So there’s still some hedging, but it’s exceedingly mild, and looks ready to drop away any time now. He’s also got his sights set on partisan redistricting in New York, which is the other side of this coin, making him the first major politician to lock onto the core of our structural malaise. And the man has skills, as demonstrated by his successful drive to allow gay marriage in New York, securing this victory with the support of Republican lawmakers, while infuriating Archbishop Dolan.

    A trick my cross-country coach taught me in high school had to do with the way you run through pain. It’s all about picking a distant point, and keeping your gaze fixed upon it, not stopping or slowing until you do. Remarkably, by the time you reach it, you find that you have an easier time picking the next point.

  58. Alex Bowles says:

    The thing about the corruption issue is that it’s a classic example of an idea made powerful because its time has come.

    A fringe issue for years, it started moving beyond the circle of nerds and wonks during the protracted fight surrounding Obamacare. Generalized talk about ‘DC dysfunction’ or ‘the culture in Washington’ has been a staple of election challenges for ages. But with this debate, something changed. For the first time, a broad segment of the public began to see specific instances of profoundly distasteful decision making in action.

    Whether it was the nauseating payoff to the pharmaceutical lobby at the outset, the “grassroots” opposition that was swiftly shown to be astroturf, or Senator Nelson’s cash-for-a vote intransigence in the end, the undefined sense that all was not well crystallized into hard confirmation that, in fact, it was far worse that most people had dared imagine.

    The onslaught of lobbying by the banking sector (and the conspicuous absence of any change in the TBTF arrangements that had already proved economically lethal) validated the now widespread belief that Washington is for sale. Critically, the electorate started cottoning onto the actual mechanics of the corruption – not just the general sentiment – allowing expressions like “revolving door” to enter the general political lexicon.

    So now, when the Times runs an op-ed on institutional corruption, they do so without a hint of hyperbole. And the comments reflect the matter-of-fact nature of the problem. There’s nothing suggestive about this. It is demonstrable fact, out in the open, and gnawing at the consciousness of people from all points on the political spectrum, and from every generation able to vote. It’s also bubbling up in non-news portions of people’s media streams.

    Consider the trailer for Christopher Nolan’s final installment of the Dark Knight series. The killer line – around which the entire spot is built – is delivered by Anne Hathaway, whispering into Bruce Wayne’s ear.

    You think this can last but there’s a storm coming Mr Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits you’re all going to wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.

    So now, fodder for the Times is also working as animated gifs (<a ref=""here and here) that every kid in America sees and understands. More to the point, the issue is not being accepted as an unavoidable indignity that must simply be endured. Rather, it’s taking on the hue of a profound outrage; something deeply wrong that’s now heading for a major confrontation.

    At this point, politicians caught skirting (or worse, denying) the issue are sending a clear signal that they are a part of the problem, not a part of the solution. The real question is how many in the problem camp can be pressured into the solution camp while there’s still time to make their moment on the road to Damascus convincing, and how many are simply going to end up as roadkill.

    There is still time. The tipping point hasn’t been reached. But it’s close. And when it goes, events will cascade rapidly. As Lenin so astutely observed, there are decades in which nothing happens, and then there are weeks in which decades happen.

    By that standard, 2012 promises to be a very long year.

  59. Alex Bowles says:

    Drat, missed the html close on the first gif. Here’s take two. Full trailer here.

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