Am I the only one noticing a kind of trendlet towards companies looking to "inspire" legislation that causes people to become "customers" forcibly? Y'know, like any number of baby car seat laws that specify a certain kind/rating of seat, or the Massachusetts Miracle?
And, talk about shameless -- why am I not surprised that [Edwards would] try and make some political hay out of his wife's breast cancer? Of course, I recall that being one of your "hipper" diseases these days, along with Restless Leg Syndrome, Acid Reflux and UBS With Constipation:
TIPTON, Iowa - Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards said on Sunday that his universal health care proposal would require that Americans go to the doctor for preventive care.
...Edwards, who has been criticized by some for calling on Americans to be willing to give up their SUVs while driving one, acknowledged Sunday that he owns a Ford Escape hybrid SUV, purchased within the year, and a Chrysler Pacificia, which he said he has had for years.
It is an old and historically established maxim that obsolete social forces, nominally still in possession of all the attributes of power and continuing to vegetate long after the basis of their existence has rotted away...... once more summon all their strength before their agony of death, pass from the defensive to the offensive, challenge instead of giving way, and seek to draw the most extreme conclusions from premises which have not only been put in question but already condemned.Enter presidential aspirant Hillary Rodham Clinton, the ride-the-ass-backwards St Joan of DLC-Zionian Democracy.
I predict, if her party faction can buy her the nomination, by 2010 the whole damn donkey juggernaut will start to crumple up like tinfoil.
For your own sakes, ye hacks of electoral success -- cry out now, "ABH! ABH! ABH!"
Over the past 40 years or so, I doubt the People's Republic could easily find many Yankee friends with a significantly greater love and respect for the New China than resides, has resided, and will continue to reside for as long as it beats, in the heart of yours truly, Owen F. Paine.
But that being proclaimed, let me now proceed to toy with the dragon's wrath, as I plunge into my topic for today's post:
Not only do we need to reduce our bilateral trade gap with China as soon as practicable and by all means necessary; we need to liberate ourselves from her wares, as close to entirely as makes common sense.
Let's start with just two numbers: 9 and 180. Each element of the first number can have, all to itself, 20 counterparts in the second number. Yes, the second number is twenty times as big as the first number, and that's apparently the cold quantitative difference -- measured in dead souls -- between two recent coal mining tragedies, the one out west here, and the other over there, inside China.
Can we seriously doubt these two numbers roughly reflect the difference in working conditions here and there?
Now I ask you humanitarians out there, in light of this: where -- at the economists' infamous margin -- should the globe's coal get dug? Here at home -- or over there in China? Moreover: where should that extra coal, once dug, get consumed, to produce more goodies for the globe's most consumer-crap-mad middle classes? In fact, where -- at the margin -- should your goodies, my goodies, our goodies, come from? China, or here at home?
The answer, I think, is obvious: we need to make our consumer shit right here in the land of liberty. At least we damn well oughta try to -- that is, if my beloved class struggle and your good green earth are really really our top priority.
Isn't it obvious and simple? The battle for our red/green future oughta start and finish right here in our backyard, where both these milliennial contests can be fought out with greater chances of victory.
I submit to your considseration the following proposition: sustainable earth, Inc., can only get incorporated under the red, white, and blue: and that's because, at least as of now, it's here -- not China, not India, not Mexico even -- that we little people of earth have a better set of rules of engagement.
et me throw you a further simple synthetic deduction: it's far better strategy to restore our industrial platform and start building more of our goodies back here at home, than trying to export our rules over there. And by making as much of our stuff here as we can, in the process we'll import a nice big slab of their little people, to help us build it all the right way, the clean way, the green way, the high-wage, high-employment way.
Yup, our fair and stalwart nation oughta return to its post-Civil War promised-land gilded-age nation-building paradigm -- updated of course, and controlled this time 'round by the mass of we the people, precisely for the direct immediate benefit of the crass sweatin' mass of us, not by and for the corporate elite.
Here's a nice irony of history: the same type of silk-hat smokestack jackoffs that today profit handsomely from exporting our jobs and importing low-wage foreign substitutes, back then refused to open our markets to the outside world's industrial products. Yes, with true Hamiltonian vigor, the predecessors of today's barons of industry blocked the entry of alien procducts, not alien people! And as a result, in just 65 years, the relatively brief span between the freeing of our 6 million African brothers and sisters from slavery, on the one end, and running smack-dab into the catacysm of 1929, on the other -- in that short 65 years, humble weebles, many flooding in from around the world, built the largest industrial platform on earth.
I suggest we do it again, but this time with a fair-trade, balanced-trade dollar and a chock-full employment job policy.
And note well -- once we get really rolling again here, like we did in 1940, we'll welcome the help of more hands and brains from outside our borders.
Just like back in the day.
We're "headed into a recession"! A recession? Fuck, we're killing the planet here, for Crissake. What, for the broad middle horde of us, is so much worse about any recent US "recession" than the bright lights of the Clinton miracle?
Mates, I say we stick to the systemic pathologies here, and leave the market's weather reports to Wall Street. Lets hammer on the basics. You know -- all the way from simple surface bread and butter stuff like our chronically stinko job market -- like our 30 year siege of pea peck raises, even in the best of times, even when we have a prez from Hope.
That, and all the way up to hideous disfigurements of our oversoul -- deeds so ghastly we all should pay for it blood some day. You know -- stuff like our perpetual imprisonment of the black nation.
Recession coming... please!
Editor's note: "Oh shut up, Paine."
Real editor's note: You're finally coming round to my way of seeing things, Owen. Ruat caelum!
As the professor left to consult with his lawyer, students picked up placards with slogans like "Norman Finkelstein, Target of Hate Campaign," "Norman Finkelstein, Righteous Jew," and "Fight Academic Terrorism," and marched to the offices of DePaul's political-science department.Aha! The cops said the magic word.
There the protest gathered steam, and adherents. Well over 100 students-- most from DePaul but a handful from nearby Columbia College Chicago -- as well as some faculty members and local residents, joined in chanting, "Stop the witch hunt. Tenure now," as city police officers attempted to keep them from disrupting traffic.
Democrats Newly Willing to Compromise on Iraq"Newly" is masterful, isn't it?
WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 — With a mixed picture emerging about progress in Iraq, Senate Democratic leaders are showing a new openness to compromise as they try to attract Republican support for forcing at least modest troop withdrawals in the coming months.
After short-circuiting consideration of votes on some bipartisan proposals on Iraq before the August break, senior Democrats now say they are willing to rethink their push to establish a withdrawal deadline of next spring if doing so will attract the 60 Senate votes needed to prevail.
Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, said, “If we have to make the spring part a goal, rather than something that is binding, and if that is able to produce some additional votes to get us over the filibuster, my own inclination would be to consider that.”
This word 'compromise' has an interesting meaning in American political discourse. If ordinary people used the word in the same way, you'd get conversations like this:
Mugger: Your money or your life!Actually this analogy is quite misleading, though, as applied to the Democrats. The muggee, if he's a real muggee, presumably doesn't actually want to give up his money. But the Democrats are always quite glad to give up any faint opposition they've ever hinted at having toward the latest imperial adventure, whatever it may be; and of course they are, if possible, even more servile toward the Israel lobby, which very much wants Uncle to stay in the neighborhood, than the Republicans are.
Muggee: Can't we compromise?
Mugger: Okay. You give me your money, and I won't kill you.
So they're not getting mugged, any more than a pro wrestler is really getting beaten up. It's all part of the act.
Aug. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Blackstone Group LP and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. are gaining support in Congress in their battle against a tax increase on private-equity firms and are looking to the heartland to win the war, the industry's chief Washington spokesman said.
``Things look better now than they did two or three months ago,'' said Doug Lowenstein, president of the Private Equity Council, of which Blackstone and KKR are founding members. ``We've stabilized the situation.''
Lowenstein said at least four ``moderate, centrist'' Senate Democrats -- John Kerry of Massachusetts, Ken Salazar of Colorado, Charles Schumer of New York and Ron Wyden of Oregon -- have expressed skepticism about the plans to tax fund managers' share of profits at the top 35 percent rate, rather than the 15 percent capital-gains rate. He said opposition to the tax is growing among House Democrats, without identifying anyone.
As a dive artist and friend to billionaires, John Kerry sets the pace.
People of America: the world is following your news in regards to your invasion of Iraq, for people have recently come to know that, after several years of tragedies of this war, the vast majority of you want it stopped. Thus, you elected the Democratic Party for this purpose, but the Democrats haven't made a move worth mentioning. On the contrary, they continue to agree to the spending of tens of billions to continue the killing and war there.
Demokratia ... has always been a word denoting conflict, a factional term, coined by the higher classes to denote the excessive power (kratos) exercised by the non-property-owning classes (demos).This is of course a fragment from a citation-quote Father Smiff attached above the head of his now-legendary "stop traffic" post.
Zero in on the translation for kratos: "excessive power". I submit this proposition: all state power must be excessive to the class it points its spears at. A revolutionary state is maybe even the most excessive -- it wants to demolish the life of a class entirely -- at least as that target class knows itself.
All you minarchists-to-anarchists already know this: states are indeed nasty institutions. But I'd argue that we the weebles must be about nasty business, when we finally get a shot at power, even party power.
If the class behind some collapsed ancien regime cries for a return to an open society, or even if it simply wants to horn in on the doings of some recently won national sovereignty (vide Hurricane Hugo) -- then remember: what any out-of-power class naturally finds useful in protection from "their" state becomes -- once they hold power --- a means to the subversion of that power.
There's another Greek word for this. Dialogue? Dialysis? Something like that.
But we ought to be honest enough to at least imagine a hypothetical clash between American and Israeli interests. Here, I feel pretty lonely admitting that, every once in a while, I'm going to go with what's best for Israel.... Perhaps it was a strategic mistake for America to rush to Israel's aid in 1973, but given the alternative, I really don't care. As Moshe Dayan told Golda Meir at the time, the "third temple" was crumbling. Tough luck if it meant higher gasoline prices at home.Candor obliges me to note that although I think Alterman is a kind of human stink-bomb, there is apparently one area where we agree, or would have agreed in 2003 (I don't know what he thinks now). That area is gas prices. The higher they go, the happier I get.
Israel, on the other hand....
Called a “single payer health solution” for America's big three auto families, the proposed grand health VEBA is really just one big corporate rip dip and shift -- a massive Enron-scale financial fraud that will end up sticking it to workers one way or other, either through direct charges to workers or in a bailout by corporate field-dog, Uncle "Fetch and Carry" Sam.
What's a VEBA, comrades? Stands for Voluntary Employees Beneficiary Association. It takes some solemnly-promised stream of benefit payments off the books of corporate America -- in this case, the future wage-employee health payment obligations of Chrysler, Ford and GM -- for a one-time, good-faith, duly-diligent, fairly and squarely discounted lump-sum pay-in to a very specially chartered nonprofit -- in this case union-administered – fund. And what happens then? Well, it's all in the numbers really.
Looking with gimlet eye at this auto VEBA, I'd say it's likely to become the absolutely biggest bust yet. Despite the union's heroic efforts to "responsibly" offload as much as possible of the upcoming payment stream back on the retired workers themselves, the time will come when the fund goes bump in the night. Enter Uncle Sap.
By that point the workers will, by honest accounts, have paid for it all at least twice already -- first up front, in corporate promises in lieu of wages, and at the back end, in passthrough charges in lieu of funds. And the “health” industry will no doubt manage to extract a third payment from the man in the striped suit. What remains unpaid out of the bills overcharged, will prolly in a burst of state generosity -- after a union leadership heartswelling sturm-und-drang worthy of Rock Hudson -- end up on Uncle's famous riskless tax-backed people's credit card.
My favorite mild underlining in the labor notes story linked above: "Business analysts claim... under-funding is one of the key advantages of a Big-3 VEBA solution." Care to give a better working definition of a corporate welfare state?
Evidently not. Here's the new bright idea: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/17/AR2007091700118_pf.html
Clinton Health Plan OutlinedThere's the spectrum of Democratic opinion for you: Hillary thinks people ought to be forced to pay a lot of money to insurance companies, and Obama thinks they should be forced to pay slightly less. I also like the driver's license analogy -- perhaps the Clinton/Obama administration will require us to have a license before we can operate our bodies.
All Americans Would Be Required to Have Insurance
DES MOINES -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's sweeping health-care proposal, which she plans to unveil today, would require every American to carry health insurance.... The centerpiece of her "American Health Choices Plan" is an "individual mandate" requiring everyone to have health insurance -- just as most states require drivers to purchase auto insurance....
[T]he Democratic presidential contenders have been united in advocating universal coverage. They have parted ways on certain specifics, including the individual mandate -- the plan offered by former senator John Edwards (N.C.) includes one, while the proposal outlined by Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) does not.... Obama... has said that individuals cannot be forced to purchase insurance until the cost of coverage is substantially reduced.
Some of my lefty pals have been scratching their heads about why Hillary would "repeat the same mistakes" she made in 1994. But that's not what she's doing. She's repeating a triumph. She delivered the goods to the insurance companies then and she's raring to do it again.
Did you know that under the Military Commissions Act of 2006, President Bush now has the power to declare anyone he wants, including U.S. citizens, to be an "enemy combatant" -- and imprison them indefinitely without access to our court system?
Indefinite imprisonment without judicial review is unconstitutional -- and fundamentally un-American. It's a hallmark of fascist dictatorships, not constitutional democracies like ours.
Fortunately, there is movement in Congress to restore this fundamental constitutional right. Tomorrow, Monday September 17th, the Senate is expected to resume debate on the Department of Defense Authorization bill, including S.185, the Specter-Leahy amendment to restore habeas corpus. The vote on this amendment will be the first full up-or-down vote in Congress on restoring habeas corpus.
What would I do? WHAT WOULD I DO?! Long before I was hauled off, I'd write a stern email to these Vichy Democrat senators I've listed, I can assure you! And I'd forcefully CC these Vichy Democrat representatives too, yes indeed! That would do something.
Carper (D-DE), Johnson (D-SD), Landrieu (D-LA), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Lieberman (D-CT), Menendez (D-NJ), Nelson (D-FL), Nelson (D-NE), Pryor (D-AR), Rockefeller (D-WV), Salazar (D-CO), Stabenow (D-MI)
For good measure, I'd scold the House Vichy Democrats who voted to renew the Patriot Act and their counterparts in the Senate to boot. Then -- and with conviction! -- I'd go to this Senate vote and this House vote, to see who voted for the first Patriot Act. Those still in office should be scolded! Oh and yeah, while I'm at it, the Vichy Democrat dudes and dudettes of the Senate and House who voted to approve Patriot 0.8 (Beta) should be scolded. Those still in office, that is. Like that dude Leahy, who's so hot and bothered now. For extra emphasis, I'd send a useless fearmongering email blast to everyone still gullible enough to think opportunistic collaborators will change their ways and I'd issue an affinity credit card, serviced by FIA Card Services, formerly MBNA, now owned by the Bank of America.
More seriously, what would I do if "they" came for me? I have no idea. Prior to that, I'd disabuse myself of as many fatuous, fairy tale, political notions as I can identify and possibly look for something more productive to do.
I was not aware that a taser was used until after I left the building.... I hope that neither the student nor any of the police were injured.How a pack of cops might have gotten injured while Tasering a solitary undergraduate does not clearly appear, nor is it obvious what reason, if any, Kerry had to fear such an eventuality. (Perhaps Kerry's assessment of the intelligence and competence of the average cop is secretly rather close to my own.) Somehow this carefully calibrated and utterly gratutious split-the-difference approach seems thoroughly iconic.
You know the old joke -- a reactionary believes that women are inferior to men. A radical thinks that women are equal to men. A liberal thinks the truth lies somewhere in between.
It's not surprising that Ole Possum Brad Delong jumped aboard the Greenspan retro express – so has everyone else, from NPR's Philly thistle lady to Jon-boy Stewart.
But then again, Mr Delong is an expert on macro high policy. Hence his well-placed recent review in the LA Times of Herr Poison Pill's ghosted memoirs. To his everlasting discredit, Brad's taken this opportunity to produce a work of wondrous blend -- a toast to the great man, hoisting a cocktail glass filled to the brim with a pusillanimous mix of pomposity and cop-out humility.
Here's an example: according to Brad, he, the great Delong, was outthought, outjudged, out-wisdom'd by the fearless Fosdick of fiat credit 5 out of 6 times on key turning points in credit policy. Yup, Greenglue got it "right" 5 out of the 6 times these two mighty heads disagreed on "direction".
Now of course they mostly agreed. In fact, 30 out of 36 times they agreed, during Alan's 18 years at the Fed's tiller, but the one time Brad was right and Alan wrong finally came in the summer of '00 after the dot.com.pop. When Greeny "waited for more information to see how much the fall in stock-market values would affect high-tech investment spending before he acted," Brad would have dropped his rate pants right then and there, not waiting for the inevitable thud of falling corporate plant and equipment expenditures.
(NB: Alan waited much as gentle Ben "waited" after the mortgage pop, when we all knew it would affect housing construction.)
Here's Brad on the two times he figures Greenspan fucked up big-time -- the twin bubbles, tech stocks in the late 90's and house lots in the early 00's: “[These]two counts could be considered economic felonies.” Greeny claims he faced a cruel policy dilemma. According to Brad, Greeny figured
... he could have aborted the stock market and housing bubbles of the late 1990s and the early 2000s but only by paying an unacceptable price in idled factories and unemployed workers.What? pre-empting both bubbles would have brought on the same horror the pre-emptions were expected to prevent? Stop this system, I want to get off.
Here's Brad's take: "He may be right and he may be wrong in this judgment -- I don't know .... Imagine! Here's Mister Blabbermouth ready with a bold opinion on everything under the midday sun, now faced with a real deep test of his science and he -- what -- he plops out totally!
The whys of this sudden drymouth Sergeant Schultz-like "I know nossing, nossing" are prolly best left to the cui-bono boys to weave into a nice squalid pattern. I'll merely suggest even a casual look at any halfway detailed flow chart of how credit streams into both these "investment sectors" indicates several very clear, very simple, but profoundly efficacious cinch points, where pre-emption of market bubbles is possible way before they even emerge. Policies and regultion that are bubble prevention methods can be done – Hell, I could do it, it's that easy.
Smart market-specific timely regulatory interventions in the tech stock market and the house lot market in both cases would have removed the threat before either had a chance to blast the real economy. But then again, these mad Paine-type interventions would also pre-empt any sly moves by all those sharp fellahs out there, ever ready to exploit new wrinkles and loops to make additional tons of speculative fraudulent and sterile money.
After all, in the last analysis, it's not about the economy, stupid – not at all -- is it? It's about headline profit players, both winners and losers. It's ultimately all about the top carny's boodle, and not a bit about the bottom rubes' pocket holes.
The influence of the health insurance industry can’t be removed from the health care reform process, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said today.
“They are incredibly powerful. You can’t just try to wish them away,” Clinton said.... Clinton, a U.S. senator from New York, wants to require all Americans to carry health insurance. She unveiled her plan Monday in Des Moines, one of the biggest insurance capitals in the country....
Clinton declined today to speculate on ideas for penalties for Americans who fail to obtain insurance. Congress should decide the specifics, she said....
Asked if she would give health industry lobbyists a seat at the table when it’s time to hash out details, Clinton said, with a laugh: “This is a metaphorical table. This is the dinner table. This is the table everybody talks about.... It’s going to be my job and the job of the allies I have — in the business community, the labor community, the health care community — to really make the case that what we’ve proposed makes sense.” What was all that blather about a "metaphorical table"? Is Hillary channeling Donald Rumsfeld? Or is there just a kind of brain-rot caused by chronic dishonesty -- it seeps so deeply into your system that your neurons can't even talk straight to each other any more? Vergil's characterization of Hell in the Commedia might equally well apply to Washington:
Noi siam venuti al loco ov' i' t'ho dettoOh, and another thing. I'm really starting to hate the way Americans use this word "community". It started with "Black community" -- a euphemism for ghetto -- which at least made a kind of sense. But now every category is a "community". The "health care community," fer Chrissake, the "business community". The shipwrecked sailor community, the shark community -- some tensions there.
Che tu vedrai le genti dolorose
C'hanno perduto il ben de l'intelletto.*
Quite apart from the nauseating cuddlesomeness it attempts to confer on a pack of scavengers and opportunistic predators, the word has been drained of all real meaning. Appropriately enough, I guess, for a nation that no longer has or apparently wants the thing that the word used to mean.
* We have come to the place I told you of,
Where you shall see the miserable wretches
Who have lost the faculty of understanding.
With the economy heading for recession... the question everyone is asking is how much [will] the Fed... cut short-term interest rates to stimulate the economy.... But a Fed rate cut won't stimulate the economy....[I]f a Fed rate cut can't prevent a recession, what can? Putting more money into Americans' pockets by cutting their taxes.... middle and lower-income Americans spend more when their taxes are cut... the biggest tax they face is the payroll tax.... the payroll tax needs to be cut ... exempt the first $15,000 of earnings from payroll taxes .... starting as soon as possible.Perfect perfect perfect. Couldn't agree more, dear chap. Bobby even takes a vigorous swipe at the people's favorite love-the-little-guy party (the one with the long ears and the big corporate hospitality tent):
With a recession looming, Democrats need to stop being the party of Herbert Hoover economics.
I live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, an area into which Columbia University has for the last forty years unrelentingly extended its tendrils like a metastatic tumor. From Wild West to Company Town in the blink of an eye. It's really depressing.
Of course the justification is that Columbia, like its better-known and more respectable Ivy League brethren, is an Acropolis of enlightenment, free thought, openmindedness, untrammeled inquiry, et cetera, et cetera. So what if a few nobodies have to move to the Bronx -- or Coventry? It's worth it, so these mighty minds can think in peace, and the tenured ones among them can enjoy a river view while they're thinking.
So here comes the perennial question: is the glass half empty or half full? The half-full advocates will note, correctly, that Columbia, in spite of intense pressure from the soldiers of Zion, did open its gated-community gates today for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran. Frankly, I was expecting 'em to cave, right up until the last minute. Okay, credit where it's due.
We half-empty types will, on the other hand, cite the contemptible, vulgar fishwifery of the filthy Lee Bollinger, Columbia's president, who welcomed his guest with these words:
It should never be thought that merely to listen to ideas we deplore in any way implies our endorsement of those ideas, or the weakness of our resolve to resist those ideas or our naiveté about the very real dangers inherent in such ideas.... to those who believe that this event never should have happened, that it is inappropriate for the University to conduct such an event, I want to say that I understand your perspective and respect it as reasonable. The scope of free speech and academic freedom should itself always be open to further debate....I think the half-empty types can go to bed tonight feeling justified. If the entire Columbia campus were to be mysteriously emptied by space aliens tonight, and replaced with a scrubby park full of stunted saplings -- or, for that matter, with a parking lot -- what reasonable person could argue that it wouldn't be an improvement?
Third, to those among us who experience hurt and pain as a result of this day, I say on behalf of all of us we are sorry and wish to do what we can to alleviate it.
Fourth, to be clear on another matter - this event has nothing whatsoever to do with any “rights” of the speaker but only with our rights to listen and speak....
We do it in the great tradition of openness that has defined this nation for many decades now. We need to understand the world we live in, neither neglecting its glories nor shrinking from its threats and dangers. It is consistent with the idea that one should know thine enemies, to have the intellectual and emotional courage to confront the mind of evil ....
A number of Columbia graduates and current students are among the brave members of our military who are serving or have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. They, like other Americans with sons, daughters, fathers, husbands and wives serving in combat, rightly see your government as the enemy.
Can you tell them and us why Iran is fighting a proxy war in Iraq by arming Shi’a militia targeting and killing U.S. troops?...
I doubt that you will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions. But your avoiding them will in itself be meaningful to us. I do expect you to exhibit the fanatical mindset that characterizes so much of what you say and do.
Lee Bollinger's hysterical, servile, jingoistic, pharisaic, smug, shallow, platitudinous words might as well have been written by a New York Post editorialist. This snivelling, creeping, shameless panderer, this pilotless radio-controlled Israel Lobby drone, this stiff-jointed, lead-footed, tin-eared, robotic, insensate junior-grade golem -- this is the Pericles of our Upper West Side Acropolis?
The only charm of the elites is that they're supposed know how to act like gentlemen. When they lose that -- then, really, haven't they overstayed their welcome?