Saturday, January 31, 2009

The New Robber Barons

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and bankers. It is its natural manure. ~ Thomas Jefferson (slightly amended for our times)
Banker greed made this economic collapse. One could argue, accurately, that the current crop of banking executives are more nefarious terror cells than anything huddling in al-Qaeda camps.

It is true that bankers don't seek destruction for its own sake. Bankers are not anarchists. They are worse. Anarchists have some sort of morals, they are motivated by something outside of themselves. They may be insane but at least they are altruistic lunatics. Bankers are pure greed.

The economy is falling apart. Their own banks are teetering on the edge of failure. The government gives their banks money to keep the banks solvent, to keep the economy going. And what do the bankers think is the first, best use of the money? Diverting it into their own pockets in the form of bonuses.

The bankers should think themselves lucky that Barack Obama is president and not me. Obama will criticize them and try to jawbone down their most egregious greed. I would provide a more intense way to encourage bankers to act rationally.

Richard Fuld, your table is ready.

Kill the bankers may strike some as extreme but, if you think about it, it is no more than they deserve.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Don't Do Something, Just Stand There

I have spent a considerable amount of time (several actual minutes) trying to figure out exactly what the Republican economic recovery plan is. As best I can tell...
  • Whatever Democrats propose, don't do it: It doesn't seem to matter what Democrats propose, the Republicans are against it en masse. From what I can tell Republicans aren't even bothering to read the legislation. If it comes from a Democrat, they're agin it.
  • Cut regulations: If banks acting outside the bounds of financial prudence caused this mess then the answer to eliminate regulations. If California is running a budget deficit the solution is removing the laws preventing companies from polluting the environment. The Ayn Rand Institute suggested the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme was caused by government regulations; the best way to prevent a repetition is to make what he did perfectly legal.
  • Cut taxes: Those old boys are consistent. Budget surplus - cut taxes. Budget deficit - cut taxes. Boom years - cut taxes. Recession - cut taxes. If cutting taxes is responsible for getting us into this economic mess then the only way out is to cut taxes even more. Although, as Rush Limbaugh points out, Republicans only propose cutting the taxes of rich people. Cutting taxes for poor people is a pernicious act that will "burden the private sector."
  • Cut wages: Wall Street is suffering today because too many people are getting paid too much money. No, no, not millionaire executives and their seven-figure bonuses, that's an American right, executives need to be compensates for all of the layoff notices they sign. Republican business roundtable types are obliquely suggesting cutting the minimum wage.
Poor people are getting paid too much and paying too little in taxes. All these unemployed people whining about not being able to feed their children is distracting the nation from the suffering of the wealthy. Some people are being forced to sell one of their three vacation villas, are losing their corporate jets and may have to travel first class (the humanity!), and executives are having to keep their trophy wives for an extra season. Where's the pity?

Republicans have the solution. Cut taxes for the wealthy. Cut wages for the poor. Stop regulations and allow Darwinian economics rule. But, most of all, don't do something, just stand there. Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Banking Deja Vu

The latest, freshest idea to stimulate economic recovery is that the government should buy toxic mortgage-backed assets. Sound familiar? It should, this was the original idea behind TARP before former Treasury Sec. Hank Paulson diverted the money to an executive bonus/dividend protection and rat hole lubrication program.

Four months and a trillion dollars later and we may be returning to scratch and starting over again.

Note to Hank Paulson: Did anyone ever tell you ya played a mighty fine fiddle there, Nero.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Final Word on Failure

I shall let conservative icon Rush Limbaugh and candidate for RNC chair Ken Blackwell have the last words on the question of why do Republicans want President Obama to fail.
It [the Obama stimulus] would allow a majority of American voters to guarantee no taxes for themselves going forward. (Query from KnightErrant: Since when does Rush think that no taxes is a bad thing? Just asking.) Put simply, I believe his stimulus is aimed at re-establishing "eternal" power for the Democrat Party. ~ Rush Limbaugh
Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan must be thoroughly vetted. While only a few details are known, one overlooked issue is that it could create a major electoral advantage for Democrats at taxpayer expense. That would be unacceptable. ~ Ken Blackwell
Translation: Goetterdaemmerung is preferred to Democrats being popular. It is better that one third of the nation is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed than that a Democrat in the White House is seen as successful.

I get it. I really do get what Republicans want.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Failure Is Not an Option

I struck a raw nerve when I noted Republican's call for President Obama to fail. In the comments, Loren, from Socrates' Academy, managed to put a rational spin on the conservative viewpoint that deserves a reply.

If Republicans, in Congress and out, view it as their mission to insure the Obama Administration is a failure then they will work to that end. But, failure is not an option. If Obama's Presidency is a failure then it means that the United States will be worse off four years from now than we are today. Take a moment to wrap your mind around that depressing thought. Now wrap your mind around the notion that one of America's major political parties would be working for the country's ruination.

Not possible, you say. Here in California the state is halfway through its fiscal year and still does not have a budget because of intransigence by the Republican minority. (Also here.) California Republicans would rather the state devolve into chaos than see a budget with even a hint of Democratic priorities.

None of this means I expect, or want, Republicans to roll over and play dead. I have an abiding faith in the marketplace of ideas. The minority opposition plays a vital function in a democracy. They challenge the majority's proposals, revealing the weaknesses of bad ideas and shine a bright light on process so that the people's collective will is more closely followed. The opposition shouldn't always be agreeable. Hell, it needn't even be respectful (I never was).

What some Republicans are talking about is economic sabotage. Rather than eloquently arguing their points of view with the intention of winning in that marketplace of ideas they simply want to block any initiative on the theory that, after four years of unrelenting and every worsening crises the public will hate Obama even worse than they hate Bush now.
* *
Perhaps my opposition to the Iraq War may show the difference.

I opposed the Iraq War from the beginning. I expected it to fail. I didn't hope it would fail; I hoped I was wrong. I expected the Shi'ites would hate an American occupation army almost as much as the Sunnis would. I expected invading Iraq would strengthen Iran. I expected the three way ethnic split - Sunni, Shi'ite, Kurd - would lead to something looking like civil war. I didn't expect the chaos after the fall of Baghdad; I didn't expect Abu Ghraib; I didn't expect the Iraq War would destabilize Afghanistan. In many ways the Iraq War was a worse failure than I had anticipated.

I didn't work to make the Iraq War fail (as if I had that power), I wouldn't if I could. I criticized the failures and argued for something better (like bugging out) and hoped that through public pressure saner minds would prevail.

My advise to my conservative countrymen
Be critical. Argue against whatever you think is stupid. Make your case for what you think is better and try your best to convince to us. If you can make enough sense you might win a few points. Go ahead and be petty and disrespectful (I was), if we can't stand the heat we shouldn't be in the kitchen.

Don't be obstructionists. Don't block the bridge to the future like brutish trolls (the ogreish Nordic kind) seeking only mindless destruction. Don't seek failure for its own sake.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Brief History of Hate Radio - with Examples

It would not have been possible for us to take power or to use it in the ways we have without the radio. ~ Joseph Goebbels, 1933
Father Charles Coughlin
Father Coughlin was the Rush Limbaugh of the 1930's. He was way bigger than Rush. Coughlin had a listening audience of 40 million Americans, three times Limbaugh's audience today. Coughlin evolved from delivering sermonettes in the 1920's to where by the late 1930's he was preaching against Jews and in support of Nazi Germany, even after Pearl Harbor.
Many people are beginning to wonder who they should fear most - the Roosevelt-Churchill combination or the Hitler-Mussolini combination. ~ Father Coughlin, Dec. 8, 1941
As war was beginning in Europe, Father Coughlin organized a paramilitary group called the Christian Front. These thugs would beat Jews on the street and vandalize Jewish shops. Their offices were raided by the FBI in 1940. The FBI claimed the Christian Front planned the assassination of "a dozen Congressmen" and prominent Jews.

Hate Radio reached its zenith in Rwanda in 1994. The genocide of that year was instigate and organized by the Radio-Télévision Libre des Milles Collines (RTLM). This was something like America's EIB Network.

Tennessee Church Killer
But, I can hear my rightwing readers whine, they are just heathen, black African savages; that wouldn't happen in Christian America. In the summer of 2008, a man named Jim Adkisson had been well schooled by American hate radio that liberals are evil, that liberals have a hidden agenda to destroy the country.
[Liberals] are pernicious; they are diabolical; they are liars; they hate America; they will do anything to destroy America; they need to be stopped. ~ Rush Limbaugh Show, Jan. 25, 2007
Adkisson took his 12-gauge shotgun into the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church and opened fire, killing two (news report).

And the Beat Goes On
Hatred of immigrants preached by radio talk show hosts have led to attacks on Hispanics across the country. Anti-gay violence is on the rise, spurred on by hate radio attacking "the gay agenda." And like Father Coughlin, they can hate you just for having the wrong religion. Heck, like Coughlin, they will even sneak in a little Antisemitism from time to time.

Bill Moyers on conservative talk radio inciting domestic terrorism.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hoarding the Heat - Part Deux

At the risk of pissing off, or boring, my right-wing readership I'm going to wander off the topic of hatred in politics to local weather.

The endless days of sun and warmth that has plagued Southern California the entire month of January like some demon from paradise has finally ended. It is raining. Well, drizzling. And it's a tropical storm, temperatures are in the mid-70's. With the humidity it feels warmer than it did when the thermometer read 90 degrees.

I know the rest of the Northern Hemisphere is freezing their collective asses off, but SoCal is continuing to evolve into a toasty warm sub-tropical climate.

Hate Radio

You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught. ~ South Pacific
We've all seen it. The look of fear in an old person's face when they spot someone with dark skin. We've all seen faces all twisted and distorted in hate when they see an Obama t-shirt, or orange spiky hair, or a proud Hispanic, or two men holding hands in public. It's hate. Pure hate, unleavened hate, visceral unthinking hate. It doesn't come from nothing. There is actually an industry cultivating, teaching hatred. For Muslims that industry is conservative madrasah. In the United States it is talk radio.

Hate has to be taught. It doesn't come naturally to hate a homeless person because your job sucks. It is not natural to hate gays because your sex life is boring. It doesn't make sense to hate an autistic child because you had a drunken father. It is irrational to hate teachers because your child is smarter than you are. Hate radio provides a service to people who are uneasy over life. It teaches them whom to blame, whom to hate. It teaches them that all of their problems are caused by "those other people."

The worst of the lot is Michael Savage (real name Michael Weiner). I've actually listened to him briefly. His is a dirty, vile rant-fest. Plainly put, he is a Jewish neo-Nazi who has advocated mass deportations and concentration camps for liberals, gays, and hispanics. His hatred of women goes beyond misogyny. I could continue the list of hate-mongers but I have a low disgust threshold and Media Matters does a better job of it.

Hate radio is a disease upon the nation. It is common on commercial radio because it is cheap and is a multi-million dollar skirting of campaign donation laws by Republicans. While I dislike censorship I support restoring the Fairness Doctrine to the publically licensed airwaves. Broadcast signals are limited by the government so when companies like Clear Channel can, and do, create monopolies in certain markets and use those monopolies to promote a radical political agenda it is the government's responsibility to respond. Eliminate the monopolies allowed by the Bush era FCC. Two signals per market; maybe four for nonprofits. And reestablish some rules that businesses who lease public broadcast signals have a duty to provide balanced viewpoints.

Fun With Hate Radio
FAIR's Hate Radio Guide
Be the Media

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Sour Grapes Battalion

The difference between liberals and conservatives is that liberals hope for the best and work to achieve it while conservatives hope for disasters so they can say "I told you so."

When Bush the Younger took office eight years ago I was upset at what I considered Grand Theft Presidency and bore him nothing but ill will. I wanted Congress to block the worst of his excesses but I never wanted to nation to suffer through the horrors that a failed presidency brings. I did not want the Iraq War and fought against it because I knew it would fail and the nation would suffer for its failure. I did not want deregulation of the banking and investing industries because I knew the excess that followed would injure us all. I did not sit back watching Hurricane Katrina with the giddy hope that Bush would fail to respond well and one of the nation's great cities would be destroyed. But, that's me.

Republicans are a different breed. If they can't rule the country they want disaster to follow. Rush Limbaugh and this most popular RedState poster want failure. They fear a successful liberal more than they fear recession, depression, pestilence, and war. They would prefer the United States brought to its knees and lower than to see a liberal Democrat be successful. They are not considering working through the political system to achieve their vision of success. No, they want utter failure and the worse the better.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Revolutionary Joy over Obama

I have never seen a presidential transfer quite like this. The massive crowds, impromptu celebrations, and dancing in the streets is more like the aftermath of a revolution that an electoral exchange of power.

Inaugurations are non-events for most Americans. Presidents come, presidents go, it makes little difference to most citizens. In my lifetime the most anticipated transfer was from Carter to Reagan. Reagan was popular and Carter not. Republicans who has suffered through the Carter interregnum were happy at the return to warmongering and corruption but they were too rich and pompous to don silly hats and dance like fools. It was nothing like this.

There are comparisons to FDR's inauguration and not without cause. Three-quarters of a century ago, as now, a once great nation was on its knees. People want to believe. They want to believe in the United States again, they want to believe in the future again, and they want to believe in the man who has taken up this impossible burden.
FDR's Inaugural address electrified the nation. Frances Perkins said it was like a great revival meeting. People in the crowd wept. Raymond Moley said, "Well, he's taken the ship of state and turned it right around." "It changed everything," said another, and she spoke for millions. ~ Nothing to Fear, FDR in Photographs

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hoarding the Heat

I should probably feel guilty, or at least sympathy, for the large swath of the United States suffering from icy weather but here in SoCal we have had a balmy winter.

Temperatures in January have been in the mid-80's and occasionally over 90 (degrees Fahrenheit). There has been nary a cloud in the sky. Mockingbirds are building nests and singing their pretty little heads off a full three months ahead of schedule. It has been just one sweet spring day after another.

Of course, we will pay for this wonderful weather this summer. With no January storms the California drought is getting worse with each passing sunny day. By August we may have to learn how to bathe in thimbles.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Smell of Burning Flesh in Gaza

The use of white phosphorus as an anti-personnel weapon is a war crime. It was a war crime when US Marines bombed Fallujah, Iraq with the chemical weapon in 2004. It is a war crime when Israel uses white phosphorus (WP, Willy Pete) in the highly concentrated population center of Gaza.
The rules of war allow using WP in open battlefields for either illumination or to create smoke screens. It is specifically prohibited for use against people, either combatants or civilians. It is also prohibited in urban areas. In those latter two uses it is defined as a chemical weapon. Most recently, Israel has bombed the United Nations Gaza compound with Willy Pete destroying the food and medical supplies stored there.

One might think, given the horrors the Jewish people suffered during the Holocaust, that Israel would be reluctant to use weapons that burn people. One would be wrong. It appears Israel is determined to turn the Gaza ghetto into a concentration camp, complete with the smell of burning flesh.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Six More Days

I feel like I'm waking from a horrible nightmare. My sheets are drenched with terror-sweat. Horrible, unspeakable thing have been happening and I have been hopelessly trapped within them. I'm still in that nether world where I can't tell the difference between dream and reality, between being awake and still sleeping. I am afraid to open my eye because I am terrified I will discover my nightmare is reality.

I can't know with certainty whether the nightmare will truly end or whether the nightmare is all that is left of life. The nightmare seemed so real for so long. Will it end? Can it end? As the first rays of daylight strike me I feel the faint glimmer of something, perhaps it is optimism.Can I hope? Dare I hope that my long nightmare is ending?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Just Sick and Tired - Mostly Sick

James Fallows commenting on Bush's last press conference noted that is was "somewhat harder to dislike him viscerally after this performance."

I, personally, am just sick and tired. Sick of the infection that is George Bush and sicker still of the people he brought to political power - Cheney, Rumsfeld, Yoo, Wolfowitz, Alberto Gonzalez, and Paulson. They were criminals all and many war criminals. They are a cancer upon the nation and it will take a generation at least to purge their disease from the world.

And I am tired of Bush himself. The lame, illiterate speaking style. The Pollyanaaish way he ignored the world's rightful critizism. The sometimes willful, often clumsy, always childish way he blundered through international relations. The many faith-based imbiciles he placed in scientifically important positions where they would pound the Bible while ignoring simple scientific facts. I am tired of all of the bald-faced lying.

Mostly, I am just sick to death of the fact that we have lost an entire decade to the ignorance, brutality, fear that dominated the Bush Years. To say we are worse off now than we were eight years ago is to understate the case. We are worse off now than we were a half-century ago. George Bush squeezed two generations of decline into his two terms.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Curmudgeonly Musings

Remember when....
  • There used to be trash cans next to bus benches. Then some wily transit district bureaucrat realized that people kept putting trash in those cans. By removing the cans people would throw their trash into the gutter, onto other people's lawns or on the steps of their businesses. The trash magically became Somebody Else's Problem.
  • The phrase 45 single did not refer to middle-aged dating problems or antique guns but to some fine acid-rock music.
  • If you went on a wilderness trek you needed to bring maps, a compass, and a modicum of common sense. If you got into trouble you needed to use your wits to get out alive. Nowadays all you need is a cellphone with GPS. If you stub your toe you can call in a rescue helicopter to your exact coordinates at taxpayers expense.
  • Speaking of cellphones....Remember when, if you want to get away from it all for a while, you could go for a walk secure in the knowledge if the phone rang you would not be there to hear it. (Cellphone-free for 56 consecutive years)
  • Speaking of trekking....Remember when the North Pole was some dangerous, ice-filled hell where only the most reckless adventurer would venture. Now it is just a place where someone took a summer kayaking trip.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Blagojevich Impeached

This falls under the category of What Took So Bleeping Long, but the Illinois House has impeached Rod Blagojevich. The vote was 114 yea, 1 nay, with 1 voting present.

I can understand why Elga Jefferies voted present. She lost her reelection bid in the primary and really doesn't give a damn anymore. She just showed up for the per diem.

The "no" vote is interesting. Milton Patterson voted "no" because he didn't think it was his job, he didn't feel comfortable. He didn't take a principled stand - he didn't praise Blago or attack the indictment or the impeachment process. He was just uneasy. It takes a certain degree of courage to be the only one to vote "no" on something so high profile. Patterson's vote was courageous and I give him credit for that. I'm just not quite sure why he felt so courageous.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Border Patrol Wants to Fence Off a Park

This is one of the most hated sights for the United States Border Patrol. It is Border Field State Park in California. In the foreground is the Tijuana River Estuary, which is in the United States. In the background is the city of Tijuana, Mexico.
Part of the park, right along the border, is Friendship Park. In times gone by it was a friendly place where people from both nations could gather. In the early days there was no fence and Americans and Mexicans intermingled freely. Of course, that concept was despised by the jingoists in Washington DC.
So a fence was built right through the small obelisk that has stood on that site since 1851. That has not stopped people from gathering there so the Department of Homeland Security has devised a solution to this persistent friendliness.

DHS plans to obliterate Friendship Park with a triple fence structure over 120 feet wide. No more pizza parties. No more sharing communion across the border. The border will look more like the Berlin Wall and have the same purpose, to keep people permanently separate.

Southwest Wetlands Interpretive Association on the issue

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Despicable Human of the Month Award

If this report from MSNBC is accurate, then Dr. Richard Batista is certainly the most despicable person of January and is certain to be in the running for end-of-year honors.

According to the story, Dr. Batista's beloved wife needed a kidney transplant to survive and the good doctor donated one of his own in 2001. That was then. They divorced in 2005 and Dr. Dick is suing his ex-wife for the return of his kidney or $1.5 million. Actually, he probably hasn't demanded the organ back, but that might be just because he hasn't thought of it. He isn't just suing his ex-wife. No, he is also going to reporters about his demand for his half-pound of flesh.

It was a gift, dude. I don't care if she had sex with the entire roster of the New York Giants, including the mascot. A gift is a gift.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Memories of Bush - the Iraq Years

I don't expect to read any memoir penned by George Bush himself, I long ago gave up See-and-Say books. Still, there are many memories I will take away from the Bush Years.

Freedom Fries
Back when Republicans wanted war with Iraq more than life itself, France was the best friend the United States had. Like a true friend, France tried everything to stop us from committing a humongous folly. Of course, Republicans hated the French for being rational adults and responded like petulant children. They boycotted French wine and even flushed wine down the toilet to protest French maturity. Certainly the silliest overreaction of the anti-France movement was Freedom Fries. We hated the French because they were trying to stop what we anticipated to be a fun-filled, recreational war so to punish them we changed the common name of strips of deep-fried potatoes. That sure showed them.

Uranium from Africa
"The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." That was Bush's lie told during his 2003 State of the Union Address. That lie had its origins with Britain PM Tony Blair. While France was America's best friend in the run up to war, Great Britain was our alcoholic enabler. They were always telling us to take another drink from the war bar. Make it a double. Hell, set 'em up bartender, let's see how shitfaced we can get. One could argue, correctly, that during the first decade of the 21st century, Tony Blair was America's worst enemy.

The Plame Affair
No one but Dick Cheney should play Lex Luthor in any future remake of Superman. He has the looks, he has the morals, he has the ruthless bloodlust. When Ralph Wilson acted out of a desire for Truth, Justice, and the American Way by revealing that the report Iraq sought uranium from Africa was a lie, Cheney tried to have Wilson's wife killed by outing her as an undercover CIA agent. Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, survived but it is certain that many of her contacts in the Middle East, especially inside Iran, died because of Cheney's leaks. Cheney's leaks naturally set back CIA operations in the Middle East by decades. And Cheney, in true Lex Luthor fashion, doesn't give a damn.

Mission Accomplished
The iconic image from the Iraq War needs no link. We all remember the image of Bush declaring "major combat" over in Iraq infront of that "Mission Accomplished" banner. We all know that over 4,000 American servicemembers, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, have died in the Iraq War after Bush said it was over.

Carrier Landing
What we may have forgotten is that Bush made that statement on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, that Bush landed on that carrier in a plane Bush claimed to have flown. Heroworshipping conservative commentators gushed over the landing and even MSM types bought into the lie that Bush flew and even landed the plane. George Bush was never certified for carrier landings. Bush was never certified to fly an S-3B Viking. Forget the Secret Service, no CAG would allow an uncertified numbskull to land on a carrier flight deck. Too many lives are at risk. As for Bush "flying" at all, he may have been allowed to touch the stick but the actual pilot wanted to return to his family and would not have allowed him to control the plane.

In June, 2003 Donald Rumsfeld described the ongoing Iraqi resistance as small pockets of 10 to 20 people. Dead-enders from the Ba'ath Party. What the resistance was, instead, was the beginnings of a Shi'ite-Sunni civil war with American troops fighting both sides.

"Bring Them On"
The next month, with the macho bravado available by being thousands of miles from the war zone, Bush challenged the Iraq resistance with those words. The resistance stood up to the challenge and brought it on, in spades.

Abu Ghraib
The American torture camp inside Iraq is unforgettable. While a handful of non-coms were convicted the true architect of the abuse, the civilian and military commanders that urged the jailers on have never been identified or punished. Yes, I'm talking to you, Donald Rumsfeld.

Post-Election Rape of Fallujah
After Iraqi dead-enders defeated the Marines in the first battle of Fallujah, Bush had to wait until after the 2004 election to deliver his vengeance. Just five days after barely defeating John Kerry, Operation Phantom Fury began. Nothing was held back to crush the resistance this time. White phosphorus, "Willy Pete" in the jargon, was used as an anti-personal weapon, a war crime under the chemical weapons treaty. Resistance fighters and innocent women and children were horribly maimed by American chemical weapons. The United States won the battle and left the message that it was willing to be even more cruel than Saddam Hussein.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Predictions for Twenty-ought-nine

War and Peace
American troops will not be leaving Iraq as fast as President Obama, the American people, or Iraqi citizens want. The roadblock will be career military officers who don't want to surrender staging bases for the invasion of Iran they are still jonesing for. They will do everything they can to hold their bases through the end of the Obama Administration.

Afghanistan will continue to not go well. America's Afghan allies are mostly ruthless warlords, little better than the Taliban they are fighting. While they are bribable, including with sufficient dosages of Viagra, their loyalty will not last longer than their erections. The people worthy of our help, the innocent Afghan civilians, just want to be left in peace. Unfortunately, that won't happen.

Barring an act of extreme stupidity by the mullahs, there will be no war with Iran. Israel, which failed in Lebanon in 2006 and is failing now invading Gaza, does not have the military might to take on Iran alone and I doubt that Obama is interested another war just to please pro-Israel neo-cons.

The Economy
The stock market will probably rise, the DOW may even reach 11,000 - it will drop sharply again in 2010. The economy itself will continue to suck eggs. Unemployment will reach double digits by the spring. What I don't know is whether recovery efforts will be useful. If the Paulson approach of giving cash exclusively to millionaires in the hopes that some of it might, eventually, mostly by accident trickle down to average Americans is continued then, no, it won't be useful. If Obama's people come up with creative new ways to circumvent the idle rich and direct recovery money to help the productive members of our society, the middle class and working poor, then we have a chance of seeing improvement.

What I would like to see is the the Federal Government nationalize a few banks and using them to compete directly with the likes of Citigroup and Bank of America. Nothing will free up the credit markets faster than bankers actually facing competition.

It looks as if Republicans have decided to be obstructionists. I expect them to erect roadblocks to every Democratic initiative - I would not be surprised if they filibuster the resolution for National Plant-a-Tree Day. Everything they can't stop in Congress will be taken to the Supreme Court. I anticipate a 5-4 decision with Justice Scalia writing for the majority declaring National Plant-a-Tree Day to be an unconstitutional of violation of the Tenth Amendment.

My Nightmare
I can be a hypochondriac, I've been know to endulge in recreational paranoia, and the occasional anxiety attacks. Aw, hell, I'm a renown worry-wart. It doesn't help that I have been rereading Jim Marrs book, Crossfire. I have a deepseated fear that there will be an attempt to assassinate President Obama.The list of potential conspirators is long.
These are the times I want to be needlessly paranoid.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!!

It's my birthday. It's sunny in San Diego. They are playing outdoor hockey at Wrigley Field. At least the year is starting well.