Tuesday, September 30, 2008
  Marcy tries to save the day and nobody listens


I turned on the TV, caught a glimpse of Kaptur giving a news conference along with Lloyd Doggett and a few other working-class Democrats. Kaptur was outlining a new way to solve the "crisis", and her diagnosis and prescriptions sounded exactly right ... but just as she was getting to the good part, the MSNBC anchor, looking bored, cut in and said "We're listening to Marcy Kaptur and several Democrats." ... then cut away to something else. I clicked to other news channels, but not even C-Span was carrying it. Obviously we're NOT listening to Kaptur, and we're not allowed to listen to Kaptur.

The division between the media and America has never been more clear. The media, and many Republicans including the girlyboys at National Bathhouse Online,

*D*O* *N*O*T* *W*A*N*T* *A* S*O*L*U*T*I*O*N.

They want Goldman Sachs to destroy the country and make off with the loot, and they won't be satisfied with anything less.

Why? I cannot even begin to imagine what strange alien synaptic zaps and "thought" "processes" might be occurring inside those cranial cavities. What's more, I don't want to try. Let filth be filth.

= = = = =

Later: C-Span did finally broadcast the entire conference, and it was worth it. Lord, how that woman can think, explain, and decide!

Tired question, but always valid: Why in the hell can't we have a politician of the Kaptur caliber as President? We are stuck with tenth-rate mental defectives and lunatics.
  The broken circle

The current economic "crisis" and the current climate "crisis" are essentially identical in form.

In both cases the crisis-mongers completely misunderstand the basic idea that things go up and then down. They've apparently never noticed a circle, a wheel or a wave. They pin their entire soul and life on the perpetual increase of one kind of number.

Temperature must increase forever because it was increasing at one point. Share prices and house prices must increase forever because they were increasing at one point.

In both cases the crisis-mongers have fallen in love with computer models based on their blind pigheaded stupid linear assumption. Instead of looking at history to see what has actually happened before; instead of using common sense and logic; they put numbers into their models and trust the result.

And in both cases the crisis-mongers insist that we must destroy Western Civilization, steal its goodies, and put them into the hands of a few Jews who are already rich beyond the dreams of Midas.

An article in the latest New Superstitionist is especially instructive because the NS people are blind and pigheaded on global warming but fully logical and conscious of history on the stock market.

The crisis did not come without warning. Ten years ago a giant hedge fund called Long Term Capital Management collapsed when it suffered a liquidity crisis. Yet banks and regulators seem not to have heeded the lessons from this wake-up call by improving their predictive models.

Well, how about noticing the actual relationship between CO2 and temperature from earlier years? Nope, can't do that, have to stay blind.

How could so many smart people have got it so wrong? One reason is that their faith in their models' predictive powers led them to ignore what was happening in the real world. Finance offers enormous scope for dissembling: almost any failure can be explained .... When investors don't behave like the self-interested 'economic unit' that economists suppose them to be, they are described as 'irrationally exuberant'.

Look in the mirror, folks. Climate also offers enormous scope for lying. Any failure can be explained as a temporary aberration from the inevitable warming trend. Even when all rational observers can see that the warming trend stopped ten years ago, the crisis-mongers still insist that their models are correct, the warming still continues in some strange spiritual way, and an accidental event like a volcano or El Niño is momentarily counteracting the "real" warming.

That may be true, but it is dangerous to assume that the approximations are sound. Even small modeling deficiencies can have huge consequences.

Yes, like the 'hockey stick'.

Until we are clearer about this, it would be wise to proceed with caution. Banks should be careful not to assume that they have it right and the rest of the world has it wrong.

Et tu, Brute.

= = = = =

Later thought: There's another parallel between these two gigantic scams. Both of them seek completely false optimal values for their basic variables.

With global warming, the Gaia-worshipers insist that the optimal temperature is colder than the current global average, though they never answer the question "Which temperature is best?" They just want us to get colder. Trouble is, this runs against history. During the last two milennia, humans have been better off at the warmer times and worse off in the colder periods. When it's warmer, crops grow on a wider range of land, and grow better; and we need less fuel to keep us from freezing.

With the economic "crisis", the Goldman-worshipers insist that the optimal value of stocks is high, the optimal value for house prices is high, and the optimal value of interest is below zero. Trouble is, this runs against history, at least in America. When we had lower house prices, lower stock prices and higher interest, we were better off. More people could honestly afford houses, saving was encouraged, borrowing was discouraged, and stocks were bought mainly for dividends, which turned the eyes of businessmen toward serving the customer and making a real profit.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Some experts are saying the real problem is that banks are refusing to lend money to each other.

Well, if Shotgun Paulson really wanted to solve the problem, he could order banks to lend to each other. As Treas Sec, he does have authority over banks.

He does not have authority to stick up the whole damn country at gunpoint and hand the loot to his good buddies at Goldman Sachs.

If this explanation of the problem is correct, we know everything we need to know about this "crisis".

It's not a "crisis" at all, but only an opportunity for Shotgun Paulson to further enrich his already filthy rich criminal cohorts while destroying this unfortunate land.

= = = = =

Interesting verification of the total divorce between Wall Street and the American economy in a local TV news website. KREM opened up a comments section on the bailout vote. The votes were 118 against Shotgun Paulson, 13 with him. There were about 30 comments, of which only two wanted Shotgun Paulson's plan. Those two were clearly in the stock business, as shown by their use of technical terms like "waiting for the mkts to clear". One of them candidly admitted "This plan should be implemented so I can keep my job." Fair enough if you admit it!
  Marcy for President

Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, who has been a reliable tribune of the working people for a long time, is absolutely volcanic today.

Marcy a week ago

Marcy today

Brava, brava, bravissima!

The 'Mama' line is similar to Polistra's comments about Pouty Panglosses.
  Guts, by God!

Amazing. Astonishing. Unheard of.

The people win, the crybaby billionaires lose.

The House of Representatives, for the first time since 1996, has done its job and rejected the Great Nation Robbery!

Maybe there's hope for us after all.

= = = = =

Referring to my previous post, I think the comparison to the 1930's is meaningful now. This is the first time since the Depression that the government has acted FOR the people of the United States and AGAINST the criminals on Wall Street!
Sunday, September 28, 2008
  "Largest intervention since Depression"

All the news reports are describing the Great Nation Robbery as "the largest intervention since the Great Depression."

Most likely pure ignorance, but if not, it's an attempt to paint Bush in the same light as FDR, for reasons that I can't quite figure out! (The Left wouldn't want to sully FDR's name by associating with Bush, and the Right wouldn't want to sully Bush's name vice versa.)

Unfortunately it's just plain wrong. FDR didn't engage in large bailouts. He did use lots of Federal money to build dams, roads, buildings, and power plants, but that's not the same thing at all, and it's not an "intervention" by any normal definition.

The only bailouts I can find, using this PBS timeline:

May 1933: The Emergency Farm Mortgage Act allots $200 million for refinancing mortgages to help farmers facing foreclosure.

Jan 1935: The federal government forms a Drought Relief Service to coordinate relief activities. The DRS bought cattle in counties that were designated emergency areas, for $14 to $20 a head.

From another source, this totalled $108 million.

April 1935: FDR approves the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act, which provides $525 million for drought relief

So FDR used $833 million for bailouts or buyouts, most of which went directly to poor people. Multiplying by 15 for inflation gives about $14 billion in today's dollars. Every bailout in the last few decades [Chrysler, Lockheed, S&L] has been larger, and the current Grand Theft Nation is 50 times as large.
  Appropriate name

It appears that the Great Nation Robbery, now that it has been worked out in the form of legislation, has acquired the acronym EESA.

Uniquely appropriate, since this bit of suicidal idiocy follows the exact same philosophy as the plain ESA. In other words, it tries to break the laws of nature.

The regular Endangered Species Act tries to break the laws of nature by preventing a species from dying off. It never works and always creates great harm. Evolution is nothing more than the dying of species and the increase of other species, in each specific location. One species is fading out in this location because it's no longer making the best use of the available resources. When you try to keep this fading species alive, you're not doing it any favors; you're only preventing other species from taking its place and making better use of the resources. And at the same time you're stealing property from humans, which is the real reason for the ESA.

Same with this new Extreme Endangered Species Act. The giant reptile called Bankerosaurus Fraudulenti is dying off because he has eaten up all the available resources. If we were obeying the laws of economic nature, we would let B. Fraudulenti fade and die to leave more room for other critters, some of which may be more honest and less wildly all-consuming.

No, no, no, we can't do that. Must keep B. Fraudulenti alive, and must preserve every aspect of its weird habitat: dishonestly high house prices, forced low interest rates, impossibly high stock prices. And at the same time we must also steal property from honest people via the tax of inflation, since we'll never pay this monstrous amount in direct taxes.

We will reap what we sow. History will remember this pack of thieves and gangsters, and history will spit on their graves.

Soon, I pray.
  Nobody's asking......

Cui bono?

The real economy has been gradually deteriorating for several years; you could trace it back to 1970, but it's been obvious for the last 15 or so. Our Communist masters have been sending our factories overseas and importing semi-slaves to replace Americans since 1990. False inflation numbers, price-controlled interest, and dependence on bubbles in place of production, all have been in place since the Clinton years.

Why, then, is it suddenly critical to steal the whole country RIGHT NOW? Why are the super-rich and their agents in DC pulling history's largest blackmail-theft combo RIGHT NOW?

Our Communist media are treating this as a natural event, predestined from the start of time. Even among the more paranoid (i.e. realistic) branches of the paleo-con blogworld, I don't see any curiosity about the timing.

I don't even hear the term "October Surprise" from the left-wing talking point heads. This was planned by a Republican administration, so we'd normally hear the brand-D parrots squawking "October Surprise" over and over. Instead, they are sharing the sense of urgency, the "emergency" need to make a few rich people even richer.

In metaphorical terms, our economic and cultural fabric has been unraveling for 30 years, but somebody decided to yank the string right now. Who will gain when the string is pulled?

I think it's Vladimir Putin, President Hiss's dear soulmate.

But that still doesn't answer the timing question.

Hypothesis: If you're going to force a complete divorce between normal Americans and both "parties", a complete and fully visible failure of the entire government, a total demoralizing of the nation, you'd want to do it just before an election, so there's no opportunity for a real third party to represent the people.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
  Ownership society

A commenter at Taki's blog has expressed in complete form a thought I'd been trying (without success) to pull together.

He's commenting on a Pat Buchanan piece which is accurate but not especially fresh. The third commenter, "Alphysicist", points out that the constant push toward home ownership for everyone, billed as a growth of liberty, has in fact led to a form of slavery. Alphysicist considers this imprisonment an intentional goal of recent US govts. I'm not sure it was all that purposeful, but it has unquestionably happened.

I also think that this whole thing had a political motivation, albeit different from what many libertarians think: the main motivation was to drive people into insecurity. The loans caused house prices to surge by many orders of magnitude, artificially inflated, so in the end nobody actually owns their houses, it’s the banks who own them (it is incorrect to claim that home-ownership increased). The subprime case is similar. The actual tenants could not have bought those houses, but perhaps middle class individuals (or small businesses) could have as an investment.

Aside from the economic centralization, the idea that no one really owns their own houses carries a feeling of insecurity with it. Not to mention that if everyone is worried about paying their mortgages, they are in a sense prisoners already. The US is not like the Soviet Union, they do not build Gulags (let’s hope), but the political elite has a lot of undue free space in which to manouver in the situation in which everyone is indebted.

This parallels my earlier comments about tenure: that it offers a pretense of freedom while actually pinning you down into inescapable loyalty.

With rental, or with piecework pay, you have no false sense of freedom, and you have a different sort of security. You know exactly what you're supposed to do, and you are part of a closed circle in which both sides have privileges and obligations. If you start to go wrong, the landlord or employer will try to pull you back into line until it's clearly impossible. If an employer or landlord goes wrong, he will have trouble gaining new tenants or workers. As long as both sides remain human and claim no special legal privileges, the contract works.

With these fraudulent new mortgages, the bank has all the fun. You're never going to finish purchasing the house, so you're not really gaining ownership; but the bank has no obligation to fix the roof or the plumbing, so you don't have the advantages of renting.
  The old game?

Nordlinger at NRO commenting on last night's debate:

What’s depressing, to a person like me, is that Obama has mastered the trick of coming off as perfectly moderate — even when your career and thought have been very different. Listening to Obama last night, you would have taken him to be a Sam Nunn, David Boren type. No ACORN, no Ayers, no Wright, no community-organizin’ radicalism, no nothing. He certainly knows what it takes to appeal to people in a general election. Then, once he’s in — if he gets in — he will govern as far to the left as possible. ... That's the old game.

Must admit the mention of Boren is what caught my old Okie eyes. But there's a basic problem with the "old game". Nordlinger has it backwards, and in recent years there isn't a game at all.

Traditionally a brand-D candidate will campaign hard left and rule closer to the center, which is the opposite of Nordlinger's assumption. But look at the most recent D presidents, Carter and Clinton. Carter campaigned midline and tried to rule midline, though he was so totally incompetent that his intentions didn't matter much. Clinton campaigned like Boren and ruled like ... well, actually he ruled to the right of Reagan in domestic terms. No Republican president has ever turned back the welfare-state tide; in fact all R presidents allowed welfare to increase wildly. Clinton phased out welfare to the urban poor and also phased out subsidies to farmers. In other words, he did EXACTLY what he promised to do, and his promise was "conservative" by all normal definitions.

Nordlinger's rule, "Campaign to the center, rule to the left" does apply to recent Republican presidents, and it applies most dramatically to Sultan Bush, who began by imposing the largest new entitlement program since LBJ and following Commissar Teddy's lead on education. He then proceeded to outdo LBJ at every step, finishing off with this week's attempt to collapse the entire economy at once.

Bush's rule might be expressed as "Campaign like Pat Robertson, rule like Alger Hiss."
Friday, September 26, 2008

Just noting this for reference.

The media on both sides have unquestionably decided that the Grand Theft Nation is the ONLY POSSIBLE PLAN, and unquestionably decided that we have a Total Crisis of All Money, regardless of facts to the contrary. The CNN article I mentioned below, while detailing the normal operation of most honest banks, was headlined "The credit crunch: Loans out of reach".

All of the Great Experts start from the assumption that Paulson's Grand Theft Nation is Holy Writ, the Gospel of Economics Handed Down By Moses; any slight departure from the Holy Theft, any alteration of the tiniest comma or semicolon, is UNTHINKABLE, HERETICAL, SATANIC, IT'S A WITCH! HELP, IT'S A WITCH! BURN IT! BURN IT! BURN IT!

Well, what's odd about this? Paulson's Grand Theft Nation is also Bush's plan.

In other words, the Great Experts, who automatically reject anything remotely connected to the word Republican, are automatically clinging to this Bush plan.

Whenever I see an apparent inconsistency, I search for consistency at a deeper level. Earlier I assumed the experts are paid accomplices, but maybe it's simpler and more personal. If the Great Experts are all living beyond their means, living on pure false credit based on layer upon layer upon layer of false numbers and false logic, the Paulson plan may well be their personal life-preserver.

= = = = =

Update 9/30: Dave Ramsey just verified the latter hypothesis. He mentioned on his radio program that he has been appearing on TV to oppose the Bush-Paulson plan. (He's certainly doing the Lord's work in those encounters!) He says tonight that the media types are in fact running scared on a personal level. They're living so far beyond their means that a return to honest business will destroy them.

Speaking of Ramsey, I really need to credit his philosophy for my own ability to look at this mess without fear. I was in serious debt ten years ago, and following the Ramsey principles helped me to reach my current "independently poor" position.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
  Comments on Bush's speech

And now we'll consult our panel of experts, who all seem to have a positive opinion of Sultan Bush's little speech.

= = = = = = = = =

But another expert has a refreshingly different opinion. Mike Huckabee, who should have been the brand-R candidate, writes a highly emotional and highly accurate letter to his supporters.

Frankly, I’m disappointed and disgusted with my own Republican party as I watch them attempt to strong-arm a bailout of some of America’s biggest corporations by asking the taxpayers to suck up the staggering results of the hubris, greed, and arrogance of those who sought to make a quick buck by throwing the dice. They lost, but want the rest of us to cover their bets so they won’t be effected in their lavish lifestyles as they figure out how to spend their tens of millions and in some cases, hundreds of millions in bonuses and compensation which was their reward for not only sinking their companies, but basically doing the same to the entire American economy.

It’s especially disconcerting to see the very people who pilloried me during the Presidential campaign for being a “populist” and not “understanding Wall Street” to now line up like thirsty dogs at the Washington, D. C. water dish, otherwise known as Congress, and plead for help. I thought these guys were the smartest people in America! I thought that taxpayers like you and I were similar to the people at the U. N. who have no translator speaking into their headset - that we just needed to trust those that I called the power bunch in the “Wall Street to Washington axis of power.”


Huck goes on to propose, instead of the bailout, a sort of "community service program" for the executives who begged to be bailed.

Demand that the executives who steered their ships into the ground be forced to pay back the losses of their companies. Of course, they can’t, so let them work and give back to the government and they can live like the people they put on the streets or kept there.

  The Great Nation Robbery

Listening to CNN..... Allegedly the reason why we "urgently need" this 700 billion dollar theft is to "keep lending liquid", to "prevent a freeze on all borrowing". CNN (to its credit) mentions at the same time that even without the largest theft in history, lending is in fact NOT frozen, companies appear to be running.

Here are the facts, which the alleged "experts" can't or won't say:



Same with house prices. The biggest thieves in history, Shotgun Paulson and Bugsy Bernanke, are telling us that we need to keep house prices high.



And yet again, at the deepest level, with interest rates. The experts tell us that we need more liquidity in order to keep interest rates down.



None of the great experts have managed to reach these grotesquely obvious conclusions, therefore either (1) the great experts are retarded dimwits or (2) the great experts are paid participants in the Great Nation Robbery. Since the great experts have shown considerable intelligence in other areas, the only valid conclusion is (2).

= = = = =

Update Friday morning: Interesting article on CNNmoney.com, verifying that we really don't have a crisis at all.

While the credit crisis has shaken Wall Street to its core, the thousands of community banks that make up the lion's share of the nation's banking system remain, to a large extent, quite secure. ...

Karla Wilbur, a senior vice-president at Passumpsic Savings Bank in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, said that an existing customer with a good credit standing and steady income who applies for a home equity loan could very well qualify for it.

She said the 11-branch bank, which serves towns along the Vermont-New Hampshire border, has ratcheted back on some of its non-core loan business -- such as buying loans from car dealerships or doing joint commercial loan deals with other banks.

But she added that the bank's consumer lending business hasn't been affected all that much following the panic that spread through the credit markets last week.

"It pretty much looks like it did a month ago or two months ago," said Wilbur. "Things haven't changed a lot."

In other words:


Isn't that EXACTLY how this situation should be resolved? Honest people are OK, criminals are in trouble. AND WE'RE ALREADY THERE, GODDAMNIT.

But that's obviously not what Sultan Bush, may he rot in hell SOON, wants. Nor is it what the Senators, may they rot in hell SOON, want. They want to steal the country and hand it over to their fellow gangsters. Or perhaps it's even more specific. They want to steal the country and hand it over to Goldman Sachs.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008
  Total deregulators? Not hardly.

Leftist talking point heads like Maddow and Rhodes are calling Republicans the supreme deregulators. This is true but only half the story.

The real pattern: if a law hurts ordinary Americans, or hurts real American business, brand-R will impose the law and strengthen enforcement.

If a law harms foreigners or gets in the way of the super-rich "borderless" class of Americans, brand-R will revoke the law or refuse to enforce it.

Comrade Nixon began environmental regulations and affirmative action, and brand-R have carried on and strengthened both ever since. Both place burdens on small business and farmers, and give a comparative advantage to big corporations which already have armies of lawyers. Enviro-tyranny and diverso-tyranny also drive companies to outsource manufacturing in countries with less severe laws.

Comrade Bobdole wrote the ADA, which has imposed burdens on business and led to less employment of disabled folks.

MC McCain wrote regulations on political speech which made it harder for ordinary people to run for office and sway their representatives, and easier for the super-rich and foreign agents.

Tariffs and other trade restrictions are known to help real American business, so brand-R has removed them and given us NAFTA, CAFTA, etc. Immigration quotas help lower-skilled American workers, so R has refused to enforce them, giving a benefit to rich Americans and poor Mexicans.

Copyright law provides a nice all-in-one example. For most of the 20th century, American copyright law was well balanced, giving a limited period of protection to anyone who registered a copyright, and allowing the protection to lapse later on, so others could publish an interesting piece or use some elements from it.

Working through a corrupt filthy Republican puppet named Mary Bono, Walt Disney changed the law in 1998 to give perpetual protection to everything Walt Disney has ever produced. This also helped other major studios with armies of attorneys, but it was basically about Steamboat Willie.

The result for smaller artists and authors was disastrous. Anything done by the big boys was protected forever, and you had no way to determine in advance whether you were infringing on Walt. Worst of all, you had no way to determine whether you were infringing on some obscure long-dead composer or author who could not possibly send an army of lawyers after you. Result: If you were strictly honest and moral, you wouldn't create anything at all, because nearly every work of text or art uses some elements from older work.

It was a classic example of the NRA slogan: honest people were suppressed, and outlaws (largely based in China and Russia) went wild, copying and selling all sorts of digital media, making it extremely difficult for small artists to earn a living. You can try to send the outlaws a cease-and-desist letter, but they know you're not Walt, so they laugh in your face.

As usual with Republicans, the big boys and the foreigners get freedom and fortunes, and smaller American operators get Kafka.

Just a few months ago the new brand-D Congress passed a modified law, basically using Larry Lessig's thinking. The new "Orphan Works" law says that you must register a piece in a digitally accessible registry if you want protection. This eliminates the perpetual protection for pieces that are no longer truly "property", and gives honest people a sense of security.

= = = = =

9/25: A fresh example. The brand-D Congress has just now eliminated a welfare payment to cities and states here in the Northwest. Tracing the history: in 1907, Teddy Roosevelt nationalized much of the forest land, and he did it the right way. He insured that logging could still proceed in the national forests, and that the loggers would pay royalties to the Feds, which were then passed on to cities and states. Basically a capitalist arrangement.

As the GODDAMN EARTH GODDESS GAIA became our established religion, the Feds (under both parties) prohibited logging, thus guaranteeing huge deadly fires, losing jobs, and dropping the rental payments to localities. Four years ago the brand-R congress decided to do something about this. Did they deregulate? No, of course not. Mustn't sin against GODDAMN EARTH GODDESS GAIA. No, instead of deregulating they simply paid welfare to the localities. And now the brand-D congress has eliminated the welfare, still without restoring Teddy's balanced and effective system.
Monday, September 22, 2008

If you'll gather 'round me, children,
A story I will tell
'Bout Pretty Boy Floyd, an outlaw,
Oklahoma knew him well.

It was in the town of Shawnee,
A Saturday afternoon,
His wife beside him in his wagon
As into town they rode.

There a deputy sheriff approached him
In a manner rather rude,
Vulgar words of anger,
An' his wife she overheard.

Pretty Boy grabbed a log chain,
And the deputy grabbed his gun;
In the fight that followed
He laid that deputy down.

Then he took to the trees and timber
To live a life of shame;
Every crime in Oklahoma
Was added to his name.

But a many a starving farmer
The same old story told
How the outlaw paid their mortgage
And saved their little homes.

Others tell you 'bout a stranger
That come to beg a meal,
Underneath his napkin
Left a thousand dollar bill.

It was in Oklahoma City,
It was on a Christmas Day,
There was a whole car load of groceries
Come with a note to say:

Well, you say that I'm an outlaw,
You say that I'm a thief.
Here's a Christmas dinner
For the families on relief.

Yes, as through this world I've wandered
I've seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.

And as through your life you travel,
Yes, as through your life you roam,
You won't never see an outlaw
Drive a family from their home.

Old Woody had it right. He was, of course, romanticizing Pretty Boy, but the last two verses are precisely accurate.
Friday, September 19, 2008
  What is Walker's game?

David Walker, former Comptroller, resigned in protest last year and has been crusading for ?????

He is a valid Cassandra for sure. He has been appearing on various shows, telling us about the dire situation of unfunded liabilities, and explaining the problem in a fairly comprehensible way.

But he doesn't seem to want anything done about these problems. When Beck asks him "What can we do?" his answer is always "Become informed. Ask tough questions. Hold your elected leaders accountable."

Those statements are as empty as a Credit Default Swap.

Ask tough questions? To whom? Even if you can get through the switchboard, it won't make any difference.

Hold them accountable? How? By electing the other "party", which will do exactly the same things as the first "party"?

He is not really asking Americans to do anything; he's only ginning up frustration.

I think Walker is really talking past our heads, serving someone else's agenda. I don't know who that someone might be, or what the real agenda might be, but it's certainly not action by Americans.
  Taxes, etc

Couple of random observations.

1. I'd been wondering why so many of the potential third-party candidates, even those with considerable popular support (eg Ron Paul and Newt) decided not to run this time. It's clear now... the insiders undoubtedly knew this crash was coming, and didn't want to be anywhere near it politically.

2. The remaining two idiots can't think of anything to argue about except taxes. MC McCain continues to follow the standard Zero Zip Nada Taxes line, and Imam Obama also focuses on decreasing taxes.

This is ridiculous in many ways.

First, polls show that the federal income tax is not a top item on most people's list of problems. Property taxes and the SS tax are bigger burdens for all but the millionaires.

Second, if you want to talk about gov't burden on real business, you should be talking mainly about litigation, inflation and health care costs.

[The Dems have been talking about health care, but they're not making the best argument for it.]

Third, the Laffer Curve rests on a basic assumption which didn't need to be examined until now. Laffer assumes that economic growth can be increased. This assumption is simply untrue now, so Laffer is not a valid rule at this point. Everyone can see that growth is unavailable now. And most people can see that the numbers we've been calling "growth" were pure fantasy. These strange derivative transactions accounted for more than all of our apparent growth. More than all? Yes. The real parts of the economy have been shrinking for a while.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
  Clarity from Roach

Christopher Roach doesn't write every day, and doesn't always hit a bulls-eye, but when he does it's better and sharper than anyone else. In today's column on the economic collapse, he says:

Unfortunately, central banking and deficit spending have made our government to some extent hostage to a handful of private investment banks that trade in government debt. The “liquidity crisis” is also a crisis of the government’s ability to deficit spend. Conservatives should not necessarily renounce some repudiation of that debt, if such a repudiation punished the enablers of mass government spending. Bad credit for the government would be a good thing for the public, making expensive endeavors like the Iraq War, farm subsidies, and prescription drug benefits a thing of the past. Regulation should aim above all at stability, transparency, and buffering of the economy as a whole from the actions of a small circle of risk-preferring speculators.

  Who's the socialist?

The brand-R talking point heads continually define FDR as a socialist who tried to nationalize everything and blew up the Constitution. The same brand-R talking point heads also describe Sultan Bush as a "conservative".

How did FDR handle the banking crisis in 1933? He closed all banks to stop the run, sent out inspectors to check solvency, and immediately re-opened the good banks with a federal guarantee behind them. The guarantee turned into FDIC.

Was this constitutional? Yes. The Federal gov't is given power "To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof..." Since the banking crisis was destroying the Value of Money, the gov't clearly had the authority to intervene.

How does Sultan Bush handle this banking crisis? He nationalizes the insolvent companies.

Now tell me again, who's the socialist?

= = = = =

A side thought: We can't really have a "run on the banks" in the same way now. In 1932 and 1933 people quite rationally distrusted banks, and took out their money in physical form, preferring to keep it at home. But the available greenbacks weren't enough to sustain the amount of value in circulation, so various companies, banks, cities and states issued private currencies.

Nowadays very little money is in physical form, and very few people expect to carry around lots of green rectangles. If you withdraw your account from your bank, you get a check which isn't any good until you deposit it in another bank. So we may have a run on certain banks, but the result will be more money in other banks.

If large numbers of people demand physical money, the whole system would be in a different kind of trouble..... not just individual banks but the entire Treasury would run out. Nobody would have the imagination or the authority to issue private currencies; you can be sure the Secret Service would bring in the Delta Force if anyone tried it.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
  Yes, MC McCain, that's just what we need.

The Manchurian Candidate says this morning that we need a Blue Ribbon Commission to investigate the Wall Street mess, much like the Commission that "investigated" the intelligence failures around 9/11.

Yes indeed, MC my friend, that's exactly what we need. A Commission to insure that all genuine problems are forever hidden from sight, all genuine criminals are protected and promoted, a Commission to find a few suitable innocent dummies to fall on their swords. Another commission to insure that criminals and incompetents shall reign forever and ever and ever, driving us off the cliff even faster. I didn't think that was possible, but you're the expert in subversion, the master of collapse. I bow before your superior knowledge, Comrade McCain. Amen.

= = = = =

Dropping the snide and turning deadly serious, here's what we really need. We need to abolish the stock exchanges, abolish the entire system of shareholding, prohibit fancy derivatives, and let companies be bought and sold only in one piece. It has been blazingly obvious since 1929 that the stock exchange serves only as an "occasion of sin", a place where fraud and con games are entirely too easy to perform, a place where primitive mob emotions can destroy a nation.

In the last few years, many big investors like state pension funds have already made this change. They have abandoned shares and brokers, instead buying companies outright and running them for a profit. This works better, as I noted here. When the motive of a company is directed solely toward making a profit, the company behaves well. When the goal is raising share prices, dishonesty abounds.

= = = = =

In simple terms: Pleasing the customer is healthy. Pleasing the shareholder is unhealthy.
Monday, September 15, 2008
  Multi-front collapse

Following on Orlov, I've been thinking about how the Soviets might have orchestrated our collapse on many fronts.

The social and cultural fronts are obvious, and their Soviet connection is well-documented. Feminists like the delightfully departed Betty Fried[m]an, may she roast for an eternity of eternities in the seventh circle of the seventh circle of Hell, and racialists like Comrade ML King and Comrade Jesse Jackson, are known to have taken orders directly from Moscow. They were clearly implementing good old Joe Stalin's checkerboard plan, the same plan that has given us civil war in the Balkan and Caucasus regions. (Uncle Joe's recipe: Define a victim group and an oppressor group. Fold them together in a hot pan, in such a way that the defined oppressor group will look and act like oppressors. Stand back and watch with glee as the mixture boils over.)

But what about the economic front? It's true that greed and stupidity are the driving factors in today's collapse of the financial system, but was there a separate catalyst? I've been puzzling over this since reading Sailer's closeup view of Obama's ancestry. Barack's Soviet-agent grandmother worked in an investment bank, and her life and behavior sound remarkably similar to my old leftist colleague Tom (longer story here) who also worked in an investment bank.

If you were a KGB planner, you'd want to use the "pillars" of capitalism against itself. You'd want to plant agents in the investment system to help guide it toward stupid and self-defeating behavior. You'd also want to have people in government who refuse to slow down the collapse by regulating, and who then pour trillions of dollars of tax money into bailing out (i.e. nationalizing) the failed banks, thus simultaneously weakening the country and reinforcing the bad behavior. In other words, you'd want people like Bush Senior in 1989 and Bush Junior in 2008.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
  Ridiculous strategy

I don't know why I'm bothering with this, because I don't care if MC McCain wins, and nobody will read this anyway.

McCain's campaign manager (Bounds?) was interviewed on Fox just now. Bounds was making a heavy heavy charge against Obama. Accusing Obama of a monstrous crime against Nature. What was this terrible offense? Bounds said that Obama had started out using federal campaign funds and then opted out, or began without using the funds and then opted in.

I don't remember, I wouldn't know the difference if it bit me on the ass, and I don't care. And I'm sure the ordinary voter doesn't care either.

Bounds said that Obama "violated the integrity of the campaign finance process" by his in/out or out/in change, whichever the hell it was, and whatever the hell that phrase might mean in some alien language.

This phrase is utterly meaningless and purposeless to anyone except a Senator.

I can understand why McCain would be professionally angry, because he played a large part in designing this unconstitutional and unamerican Process. If Obama is using this unconstitutional and unamerican Process in a way that its author didn't intend, the author is entitled to be upset.

When someone uses one of my graphics tools for a purpose I dislike, I'm professionally angry in the same way. But I wouldn't dare to presume that anyone else in the world would give the tiniest micro-gnat-shit about the whole matter.
  Technology and gas

The Shell gas stations here in the Northwest couldn't pump any gas because of Hurricane Ike. They still had plenty of gas in their underground tanks. The problem was that Shell uses a centrally controlled net-based system for all of its stations. The Houston office of Shell is without power, so the entire system went down, and none of the Shell stations could override the system.

This is fantastically stupid design. No, beyond stupid. Truly Bush-level incompetence, leading to rational suspicions of sabotage. Did Shell outsource the system design to China?

Story here.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
  Technology and trains

Apparently the horrible Los Angeles train crash happened because the driver was occupied with texting, and missed a red signal beside the track.

Some people are going to reach the conclusion that trains don't get along with 21st century technology.

Yes, the driver was distracted by 21st-century technology, but his distraction SHOULDN'T HAVE MATTERED.

Stopping a train automatically when the signal is red? That's TELEGRAPH-ERA TECHNOLOGY.

The problem isn't that the driver was using a Steve Jobs invention. The problem is that the system designers failed to use a Samuel Morse invention.
  She's a pit bull, not a parrot

Watching the Gibson interview of Palin, I realized something.... Clearly the R party chose Palin at least partly because she's an independent thinker. Along with the obvious female demographic stuff, she's pleasing to folks who like to reach their own conclusions. This is another part of the West vs East divide that I mentioned earlier. Westerners have more of a Protestant mindset, Easterners more Catholic. Westerners prefer to start from experience and observation, Easterners prefer to start from Received Authority.

Trouble is, after picking her for this quality, the RNC has put her in a position where she's required to repeat the standard credos and encyclicals of the Bush Dynasty. As the Gibson interview showed, she's not very good at defending things she doesn't really believe.

Hiring a candidate for one quality and then using her for another makes as much sense as hiring a ballerina from the Plumbers section of the phone book.

On the other side, Joe Biden has similar independent qualities. He's famous for saying true and commonsensical things which disagree with the party credo (i.e. he's famous for "gaffes"). But the DNC is not forcing him to be a pure parrot. It's clear that Biden has more room to speak his own mind, more room to attract non-formulaic thinkers.

RNC, as usual, manages to turn a smart move into a dumb one.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
  Personal note: constructivity

Well, I used the grumpy energy evident in the previous post for a good purpose.

In a tiny house, everything has to be organized fairly well if you want to get around without tripping over books and such. One missing point in my organization was the bathroom: the medicine chest is too small to hold much, and I like to have daily-use items out in the open. The top of the toilet is completely occupied by hairbrush, shaver and mouthwash, so I've always lacked a place to put a few other things. In other words, I needed a shelf. Finally this morning I gathered the necessary parts and tools, sawed out a proper piece of wood and mounted it in the only place where a shelf is practical. Now I finally have a place to put a spare roll of TP, a few washcloths and a book.

Seems odd that I've owned this place 17 years and never added anything until now. During the long years of renting, I was a rather active fixer and remodeler; I had always looked forward to ownership, but for a variety of reasons I lost the spirit of fixing shortly after moving in.

The gumption was renewed by writing about Jimmy and Lodine in the last episode of the Dream. Lodine's insistence on order and dignity reminded me, or perhaps shamed me, into rediscovering my own organizing spirit.

Footnote: the real shelf doesn't look quite as good as this digital representation. It's more in line with Jimmy's carpentry skills, but at least it holds things!

  Shocked! Shocked! Shocked!

Woke up early for some stupid elderly reason this morning, couldn't get back to sleep. Made the mistake of tuning to Bill Bennett's talk show, which was the only live distraction available at 3:30 AM. Bennett's substitute host was discussing a poll taken in many countries, in which about 30% of the people blamed the US Govt for the 9/11 attack. Bennett's sub host was shocked! shocked! shocked! at this, and I don't think he was being disingenuous. He truly couldn't believe it.

I can believe it easily.

First, European countries are about 20-30% Mohammedan. Thus it's not surprising but normal that 20-30% of Europe gives the official Mohammedan answer to the question.

Second, our own actions have at least encouraged this assumption. A sane nation responds to such a monstrous attack by pursuing the ATTACKERS with all available force. We have not done that; instead we have made a complete military mess in two countries that were only marginally involved with the attack. We haven't touched Saudi Arabia, Germany or Pakistan. We made one obviously half-hearted attempt to get Sheikh Osama, but we either muffed it or intentionally self-sabotaged it. Given this peculiar response, you don't have to be Mohammedan to wonder just what the hell is going on.

= = = = =

I've been distracted lately and haven't kept up with Michael Scheuer. A few months ago he wrote an article detailing, with his usual hard facts and uncomfortably perfect logic, why Osama hasn't made a major attack since 9/11. Basically, we've given him everything he wanted.

[Osama wants] three components: (a) bleed America to bankruptcy; (b) spread out U.S. forces to the greatest extent possible; and (c) promote Vietnam-era-like domestic disunity.

Sultan Bush has accomplished all three of those components, so Sheikh Osama doesn't need to add anything. There have been a number of minor attacks by independent operators, but Osama doesn't really want or need those, because attaching the al-Qaeda brand to petit terrorism would be an admission of weakness.

= = = = =

Fox News is running anniversary footage of the attack, with the headline "9/11: The Day America Changed." Nope, exactly wrong. Perfectly diametrically tragically suicidally wrong. We didn't change. We didn't fire the entire FBI and CIA to rebuild our intelligence service from scratch; we continued to value Diversity over survival; we didn't even allow citizens to speak badly about the enemy, let alone help catch enemy subversives; we continued to allow free flow of terrorists through borders and ports; we continued to allow Communist judges to sabotage our military and intelligence efforts; we continued Rumsfeld's idiotic "transformation" of the military to fit his 1978 model of business efficiency, even while we were fighting two useless wars.

In short, we didn't make any of the changes that a NORMAL nation at war would make. We only made the changes that Osama hoped we would make.

= = = = =

Cheerful this morning, aren't we?
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
  China smell = Walmart smell?

I've been puzzled in the last few months by an odor that seemed to be centered about 10 blocks south of my house. Generally pleasant but not familiar; might be described as a mix of sandalwood and green peppers. Occasionally the wind brings it toward my house, but I always detect it at the bottom of the big hill on Wellesley. At the top of that hill stands Walmart. Today I bought some stuff at Walmart, including pillowcases from China. After returning home, I picked up the plastic package containing the pillowcases. There was the strange sandalwood-pepper smell in intense form.

Is this a new Chinese packaging smell? Is it concentrated at Walmart, and spread downhill from Walmart's exhaust fans?
  Size of the fight

Nice local story about a crime-fighting chihuahua. The cops were chasing a fugitive when he disappeared somewhere in a trailer park. They looked around but couldn't detect where he might have gone. A nearby resident saw the action and brought out his chihuahua (rather unimaginatively named "Taco"). The dog immediately sensed the presence of a hostile stranger in one of the vacant trailers and pointed to a window. Sure enough, the fugitive was behind that window. Hearing the commotion, he bolted out of the trailer and the cops caught him.

Bravo, Taco!
  Orlov on surviving the collapse...

Dmitri Orlov, in this article, compares the collapse of the Soviet Empire to the already-visible collapse of the American Empire. Orlov lived through the first one, and offers us a clear view of the second one.

He lists the parallels:

1. Unwinnable wars
2. Declining oil production
3. Out of control military budgets
4. Unsustainable deficits
5. Balky, unresponsive, corrupt political system
6. Delusions of grandeur prevent honest discussion of reform

Orlov says that many aspects of the Soviet system made collapse easier on the people. He concentrates on the Soviet infrastructure and material goods. Because Soviet technology remained in the 1940's, it was sturdy. Soviet cities were built around mass transit, and the machinery was designed to be "infinitely maintainable". By contrast, American cities since 1960 have been built around automobiles, and modern autos are specifically designed to be non-maintainable.

We had "infinitely maintainable" systems in 1940. Our cars, radios, streetcars, trains and powerplants were heavy, understressed, inefficient, tolerant of wear, and repairable with minimal skills. We have lost all of those qualities. Our material universe is now designed for maximal efficiency when new, and disposal when slightly worn. This requires us to depend on cheap manufacturing, which has to be outsourced. There is no room for casual repair. (This is a point Polistra has made repeatedly, but without thinking in apocalyptic terms!)

Economic collapse tends to shut down both local production and imports, so it is vitally important that anything you own wears out slowly, and that you can fix it yourself if it breaks. Soviet-made stuff generally wore incredibly hard. The Chinese-made stuff you can get around here – much less so.
His most original observation:
To keep evil at bay, Americans require money. In an economic collapse, there is usually hyperinflation, which wipes out savings. There is also rampant unemployment, which wipes out incomes. The result is a population that is largely penniless.

In the Soviet Union, very little could be obtained for money. It was treated as tokens rather than as wealth, and was shared among friends. Many things – housing and transportation among them – were either free or almost free.
In other words, the Russians were accustomed to dealing with each other in a more local and personal way, accustomed to working for barter. They didn't depend on the continued goodwill of other countries.

Orlov's psychological advice is especially interesting:
If the economy, and your place within it, is really important to you, you will be really hurt when it goes away. You can cultivate an attitude of studied indifference, but it has to be more than just a conceit. You have to develop the lifestyle and the habits and the physical stamina to back it up. It takes a lot of creativity and effort to put together a fulfilling existence on the margins of society. After the collapse, these margins may turn out to be some of the best places to live.

Reminds me of something I read 40 years ago in an essay by the hippie philosopher Alan Watts. Most of Watts's writing was forgettable psychedelic ramblings, but one point stuck with me. Watts said that Euros often accuse Americans of being materialistic, but in fact Americans are the least materialistic people of all. A Frenchman will buy one Renault and treasure it; he will spend time maintaining it, and the car will enjoy his attention and reward his efforts. An American will buy a car and use it up, because he's confident that he will be able to afford a better one two years later. A French woman will buy groceries every day, spend time examining the vegetables and meat, spend time and art on cooking and preparing the food. Americans will eat at McDonalds. In short, we use a lot of stuff, but we really don't like our stuff very much. What do we like? Good question.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
  "The Chilling Stars"

Finished reading The Chilling Stars. Authors are listed as Henrik Svensmark and Nigel Calder, but really it's Calder writing about the scientific work of Svensmark and his colleagues. Calder is an old hand at popular science writing, knows how to weave the facts into a narrative with enough drama and adventure to keep you reading.

The basic argument is somewhat complex, but it's decisive.

1. Cloud tops are whiter than land. Where land is covered by clouds, the sun's warmth is mainly reflected outward, so cloudy areas are cooler. This is obvious, but needs to be stated as part of the argument.

2. Clouds form when the right kind of tiny particles are present in enough quantity to gather water drops. This has been known in general forever, but understood in detail only recently. Svensmark's experiments have demonstrated exactly how it happens, and it's mainly triggered by cosmic rays. (Also triggered by other kinds of particles, such as volcanic dust or pollution, but these factors are non-periodic and restricted to small areas.)

3. Cosmic rays are constantly impinging on the earth from various sources. Cosmic rays are not really rays; they are atoms of various elements, stripped of their electrons, shooting through space close to the speed of light. Einstein's formulas work properly here, giving these particles an effective mass that's much larger than you'd expect at normal speeds.

4. On million-year time scales, the density of cosmic rays varies as our solar system gradually moves through different parts of the galaxy. Some areas have more exploding stars, thus more of the fast-moving atoms.

5. On shorter time scales, the cosmic rays are largely modulated by the behavior of the sun. "Any idea that the Sun is just a distant ball of light is completely obsolete. We live deep within its extended atmosphere, which is laced with its magnetic field."

6. When the sun is more active, as shown by more sunspots, it throws out more magnetic pulses. These magnetic pulses deflect more of the cosmic rays. When the sun is less active, it doesn't send as many 'bouncers' out into its system, so more of the party-crashing cosmic waves get into the room.

7. Pulling it together: Quiet sun lets more cosmic rays reach the earth, triggering more water vapor to form clouds, cooling the earth. Active sun repels more of the cosmic rays, so we have fewer clouds, letting the earth get warmer.

It's always been obvious to all but the Gaia fanatics that our warming and cooling follows the sunspot cycle, but the sunspots don't change the sun's direct heat emission enough to explain our changes. (Similarity of patterns doesn't prove causation until you can show a direct mechanism connecting the two patterns, and show that the mechanism accounts for all of the similarity.)

Calder shows conclusively that the sun's valving of cosmic rays is sufficient all by itself to explain our warming and cooling at the scale of decades and centuries, and that the slower changes of cosmic rays due to our motion through the galaxy are sufficient to explain at least some of the longer shifts from ice age to warm age.

In other words, the carbon-hating Gaia worshippers must either show that their sacramental CO2 effects add onto the cosmic-ray effects to create twice the observed warming, or they must shut the hell up.

They won't shut up, of course, because they are no longer operating in the realm of science and logic. They are lunatic religious zealots who have gained control of all important institutions. They're on a roll. Blood-fetish fanatics who own the levers of power are not going to be stopped by mere argument.

= = = = =

I should add a positive note: It appears that the scientific funding authorities on the Euro continent are not quite as Gaia-infested as Americans. After several years of struggle, using personal money and small grants, Svensmark finally got into the big time with a lab all his own at CERN. This gives him the equipment, technicians, and predictable funding to carry out a long series of detailed experiments. With such backing, it will be harder for real scientists to ignore him. American "scientists", of course, will continue to follow Gaia, dragging this country down into the seventh circle of Hell.
  Wonder why?

Suddenly it's Spring, a 1954 cartoon by the same studio that made Betty Boop, has just now appeared on Youtube. I'm puzzled. Clearly the company was busy making a variety of toons in that long interval since Boop's demise in 1939, but I'm dead sure I never saw a single one when I was young. Guarantee I'd remember every second of every cartoon if I had seen any; they ring the deepest and dreamiest structures of my mind.

Which cartoons were on TV in 1954? Heckle & Jeckle were new then, I think, along with Woody Woodpecker and the usual Disney and Warner Brothers productions. But no Boop, nor any other products of the UM&M company. How did they survive so long without national distribution? Maybe they were seen in big-city markets?

In any case, thank Heaven, and thank a few Youtubers, that I have the opportunity to see these timeless works of art now in my second childhood!

= = = = =

Sidenote: Nearly everything in this cartoon would be forbidden under today's totalitarian censorship. Even the basic plot (such as it is!) would be impossible: the girl is dying because the long winter has deprived her of sunlight. She needs more sun, and Raggedy Ann literally and figuratively moves heaven and earth to get some sunlight.

Today the studio would be sued by the AMA for promoting melanoma, even though we are actually learning more about the benefits of Vitamin D and the real causes of melanoma. For instance, we've known for a long time that multiple sclerosis is most common in northern latitudes. This was assumed, without much proof, to be correlated with Swedish genes, but now it appears that MS is strengthened if not caused by a lack of sunlight.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
  Both sides no

I'm a great fan of what might be called two-way negations. The classic example is the line, supposedly said by some grand Imam, defining the attitude of Mohammedans toward art and literature: "If it disagrees with the Koran, it's heresy. Burn it. If it agrees with the Koran, it's superfluous. Burn it."

Here is a three-minute segment of a CBS news program in 1951. Ed Murrow took bits and pieces from Robert Taft and Harry Truman, the probable candidates in '52, and created a "debate" on our role in the world. Taft was the last major candidate who believed in supporting America's direct interests. Of course he didn't get the nomination in '52, and we haven't had a real nationalist since then.

Today the parties have more or less reversed, though both sides have become blurry and squishy. In general the Bush-McCain side wants us to intervene everywhere all the time, while the Obama side wants us to intervene almost everywhere for a slightly different, and perhaps slightly smaller, set of reasons.

Taft and Truman were more crisply opposed, and at the end of this 3-minute segment, Taft gets off a great two-way negation. It's a type of argument we don't hear from any modern politician, because it makes sense.

Roughly transcribed for non-listeners:

"Either we have to assume that the Russians are not going to attack Western Europe, or we have to assume that they are. If they are not going to attack, then our buildup is unnecessary. If they are planning an attack, why should they bother to wait three years while we build up a great army to oppose them? They would attack now."

Thinking in terms of modern Russia or Persia, we have to remember that these countries know how to play chess. If we are doing something that makes emotional sense but doesn't make strict military sense, perhaps we should ask whether the opponent has led us into this move. If we are spending our military into bankruptcy for a purpose that looks good but is strictly unachievable (eg a Young Democracy In The Broader Middle East) perhaps this is exactly what Russia wants us to do.
  Community organizing

Rush spent time this morning on Obama's experience as a Community Organizer, dismissing it as mere talk. I don't think Rush understands the job. It's more important and more dangerous than he makes it sound.

What is a Community Organizer? A Marxist missionary.

The CO performs the same tasks as a Christian missionary: brings food, shelter and clothing to the materially poor and brings companionship to the emotionally poor. He then uses the positive results to lead people to Communism, just as the Christian missionary uses the results to convert people to Christianity.

In recent decades the Marxist missionaries have been winning the battle, especially on the emotional front.

It's fun to watch the Yankee commentators, both R and D, groping around in the dark to find an ideological explanation of Palin. They are nattering about two different sorts of feminists, and trying to slot Palin into one of those types.

Nope, it's not that complicated. She's just a Western woman. That's all. In the states close to the frontier, from Texas to Dakota to Alaska, the idea of a woman running a business or serving as mayor or governor has never been particularly strange.

When I started working in Oklahoma in 1970, my first three bosses were women; one of them had been running the business since 1922. There wasn't any discussion about glass ceilings or ground-breaking or any of that crap. I didn't run into that stuff until I moved to Pennsylvania in 1986. Even in a supposedly 'enlightened' college town, most women stayed at home, didn't work, didn't speak up. It was a strange experience. And the most obvious and open discrimination was within the most 'enlightened' parts of Penn State, such as the English department.

The basic difference: West of the Mississippi, women have always done whatever they needed to do. The frontier left them no choice. East of the river, old European norms are still in place. Women complain a lot, and often channel their complaints into politics, but the verb "do" is a foreign word. Complaining is apparently more fun than doing.

= = = = =

Technical note: Strictly speaking the East/West division is not the Miss but the Dry Line, marking the edge of the plateau that holds the Rockies. Interstate 35 follows this line fairly well. Least Heat Moon in "Blue Highways" was the first to describe the Dry Line in a literary way, but it's always been instinctively familiar to anyone who grew up in the Plains.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Palin's acceptance speech: near-perfect. Too bad the organizers let China-boy Rudy intrude on her time.

After she got through the formalities and started listing her actions and philosophies as governor, purely perfect.

"End our dependence on dangerous foreign powers that do not have our interests at heart. ... We cannot leave ourselves at the mercy of foreign suppliers."


= = = = =

Sidenote: Amid all the superficial talk about this 'historic' election based on race and sex, it strikes me that this year's R ticket is superficially historic in another way.

MC McCain is the first honestly bald candidate since Eisenhower (leaving out Jerry Ford who didn't really mean to be President) and Palin is the first honestly bespectacled candidate since Goldwater.

Most politicians are willing to be seen wearing glasses when reading a document, but take them off or use contacts for public appearances. Palin makes a point of wearing spectacles all the time.

Both of these are healthy signs that the era of absolute control by the TV camera has faded if not ended.
Monday, September 01, 2008
  Star-spangled Bungle

The RNC Telethon began with the worst rendition of the national anthem I've heard in a long time, and nearly all modern renditions are awful. This singer missed at least 30% of the notes by a mile; the background harmony was vaguely jazzy but out of sync. If MC McCain wanted to emphasize competence, this wasn't the way to do it.

Where's Simon Cowell when we need him?

By contrast, I happened to catch the start of Jerry Lewis's Telethon a couple days ago. He began with the best rendition of the anthem I've heard in a long time. It was a young sister act, the 'Cactus Cuties'. They used old-fashioned barbershop-ish harmonies ... reminiscent of previous sister acts like the DeMarco Sisters ... and perfect rhythm, no jazz at all. Every note was perfect, sweet and true.

Here's an earlier performance by the Cactus Cuties, with slightly less perfect rhythm.

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