Monthly Archives: October 2009

Blame Greenspan

Brooksley BornPBS’ Frontline recently ran a story on the former head of the CFTC, Brooksley Born, and how she sounded an alarm about the then yet to happen meltdown in derivatives. Because her call for tighter reform flew in the face of Greenspan’s Ayn Rand-dominated philosophy of complete separation of markets and state, Greenspan and Clinton’s Treasury people shut her up and sidelined her comments.

This is why I say economics cannot ever become a belief system. It’s imperfect as it is and can’t be used as the basis for an ideological guide for policy. Actually, I’m not so thrilled with hidebound ideologies in politics. Those always lead to tears and suffering whenever the followers of an ideology try to bend reality to fit their view of the world.

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Free Market? Not at These Rates.

According to a recent article in The Economist, not only are the big banks paying out huge bonuses once again, the owners of the banks are just letting it slide without argument.

I thought one of the Hallmarks of Capitalism™ was that if one owns a share of a company, one directs said company. These banks lost billions of dollars for their owners, and yet these same owners are letting these record bonuses go out without argument. Are the owners of corporations sheep to the slaughter?

Some say they were legally obligated to pay them out. You know what? Corporations are legally obligated to not dump nuclear waste in drinking water, but they do it anyway. How about not paying out a nickel and letting their lawyers take on the corporate lawyers? Certainly, the corporation’s got a case with “they lost billions of dollars doing possibly illegal things.” Even if it’s not true, it sure sounds good and could save a few bucks in bonuses.

Sorry, but the Free Market isn’t. It’s a great idea, but it’s been heavily compromised by huge corporations that are now so powerful, they can shake down the government of the United States of America. The USA is hostage as a collective whole to the captains of industry we love to laud in our mythology and propaganda. We need laws to keep stuff like what just happened from happening, and we need laws to keep those laws in place. We used to have them and stuff like the Panic of 2008 didn’t happen… until they were repealed, which led up to the Panic of 2008.

The question is how to go about getting the megacorporations out of government. It’s still “We the people,” right?

Or was Abbie Hoffman right when he said, “It’s too late. We can’t win. They’ve gotten too powerful.”?

Karzai Pulls an Ahmadinejad

Contested results, winner packing the ballot boxes to avoid a runoff, unrest in the provinces… except this time it’s not Iran, it’s Afghanistan.

The difference here is that the USA is supporting the “winner” instead of encouraging his opposition to post videos on YouTube. Karzai cheated on the election, plain and simple, and his cronies are the ones in charge of validating the results. Watch as the CIA does not stoke the fires of unrest in Afghanistan and as the US news media does not provide extensive, sympathetic coverage of the stolen election.

… and so it goes. The rules for one part of the world do not necessarily apply anywhere else if the USA is acting as the referee.




I love this game. It’s hard to stay away from. Now that I have only AP classes on my roster again, I can do a big Diplomacy thing between my classes. It’s totally fun. (evil booming laughter)
Anyway, above please find a thumbnail of the current map… it’s only after the first turn, but still fun to stare at. If you need improved staring, you can see it here.

Israel and Iran

Nuclear Submarine

Nuclear Submarines: Israel's Got 'Em

While the recent talks over Iran’s nuclear status have proceeded cordially and so far have failed to spike gasoline prices upwards, several things have shown up in the periphery of the news that really deserve closer attention and scrutiny: Israel has nuclear submarines, Iran has really been working hard on developing nuclear weapons, and that development was done in conjunction with Russia.

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“O Death”

Seems ironic to consider the song “O Death” as a reason to live, but it’s the honest truth. The great Ralph Stanley has a voice and a presence that has earned him the title “The Godfather of Bluegrass.” I first heard this song in the film O Brother! Where Art Thou? and had to know more about it.

Once I found it, I discovered Dr. Stanley had sung just about every song from the soundtrack of that film and relished each of his recordings. But, always, I came back to the chilling a capella of “O Death.” The YouTube version I’ve linked has excellent sound quality, and with a voice like Stanley’s, nothing less than excellent will do.

Should Death spare me over for another year, I shall listen to this song at least once more. This song is one for the ages: it truly transcends time, age, and genre.

All Is Well, All Is Well

I’m not posting this to try to convert anyone as much as I am to put forward something that always makes me proud to be who I am and prouder still of who went before me. My ancestors sang these words as they crossed the plains, even after burying those family members who died before their journey was through. I chose this hymn for my son Jarom’s funeral and I will want it sung at mine. It is a song that epitomizes what it means to do what we all must do – endure to the end with patience, hope, and joy. Even in our sorrows, all is well. All is well.

No More al-Qaeda in Afghanistan

A recent US report stated that al-Qaeda can no longer operate from Afghan bases. Yippee. Honestly, I don’t think they’ve been operating from Afghan bases since 2002. They’re all in Pakistan and points beyond. This is known as a balloon effect: eradication of something somewhere only drives it to another location, just like the assault on coca growers in Colombia drove production into Ecuador and Bolivia. No al-Qaeda in Afghanistan is a hollow victory when at the same time the Taliban has a permanent presence in 80% of the country, with permanent presence defined as an area where one or more attacks on US forces, its allies, or Afghan government personnel happen per week.

Just for the record, at the time of this writing in October 2009, the US has less than 50,000 troops in Afghanistan. At the height of its occupation, Russia deployed over 100,000. Russia couldn’t hold all of Afghanistan with 100,000. They had strategies at first, but after 1985 they decided bombing everything in sight was the only way to do things, and even that they knew to be an exercise in futility. We knew Afghanistan would bring war without end to the USSR and undo its empire: why, then did we plunge into that nation, knowing full well what it does to empires?