Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Beware of Non-Greeks Bearing Gifts

The death pangs of Greece, as it is spirited away and thrown into the harem of the New World Order, continue. But the quote of the day comes from "Socialist critic" Vasso Papandreou: "Europe should be a zone of solidarity, but it is a jungle where the banks can do what they like." Well, yes -- but it's only a jungle if you happen to be on ground level. From the high, clear air that is the vantage point of the globalist banks, everything is going as planned, and any sort of minor anarchy on the part of the unwashed is no more than a minor irritant. And this is the lesson we have yet to learn over here -- that no matter how chaotic and difficult things become for the ordinary citizen, everything is completely under control. Throughout the recent and ongoing crisis, people seldom stop to ask, who is profiting from all this? Because someone is, clearly. Someone profited handsomely from the subprime mortgage extravaganza... someone profited from the stock market meltdown... someone is profiting from the bailouts and the "stimulus" programs... and so on. And these are not people who just happened to luck out -- who happened to be holding on to the right kind of paper at the right time. They made their choices -- their "investments" -- with the full knowledge that things were about to go off the cliff, and those investments were structured in such a way as to extact maximum profit from the woes, losses, and disappointments of others. And this, by the way, is why things are not going to degenerate into total anarchy, as so many doomsayers think. There is, and will continue to be, a "floor" below which things are not going to fall. And that floor has already been established -- but it has nothing to do with the best interests of ordinary investors, citizens, job holders, the unemployed, or the country in general. If any of those hapless parties should profit from what is going on, all well and good -- but it's just an accident. They're basically picking up crumbs that fall from the tables of the powerful. I can say that I got the hell out of the stock market before the big plunge, and then got back in (to a very modest extent) at about 8000, because I had a feeling that that (or 7000 at the very least) was the "floor". And yes, if things had really been as chaotic as the media claimed, the floor could have been much lower -- all the way down to zero, in fact. But I had already decided that nothing that was happening was an accident, and that there would be a limit to the "take" from the middle class that time around. As I pointed out at the time, the stock market is one of the primary means of income redistribution that the Regime has -- it serves to take money from the middle class and transfer it to the powerful... but not so drastically or obviously as to tip anyone off. And granted, a lot of people made the usual panic-stricken run to gold... but before long they were seduced back into stocks. The only question now is, when does the next big "take" occur, and I'm frankly hoping that won't happen for quite a while. I think that the powers that be have shifted their attention to other lucrative things -- like Greece, for instance, and the rest of the "PIGS"... or the perpetual, ever-multiplying wars the United States is fighting... or figuring out the best way to profit from our deficit spending and stupendous national debt. There are so many opportunities out there for the smart investor, but you have to be a member of the anointed elite to take advantage of them. Otherwise you're no better off than the country bumpkin sitting at a three-card monte table on Times Square.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Greece on the Skids

At this point, Greece – the “G” in “PIGS” -- is in the process of selling itself into slavery, mostly to French and German banks, in order to stay out of the EU version of debtor's prison. I'm not sure it's much of a choice, but under the new order (remember that term from the old days – by which I mean the Nazi era?) that's what happens when you borrow and spend yourself into oblivion. Of course, one could well ask, how was all that borrowing possible, and who was the money borrowed from? -- and the answer would of course be, why those very same French and German banks who now have the fate of Greece firmly in their hands. The EU giveth, and the EU taketh away. We think of the EU as a bit of a joke over here, but over there it's no laughing matter.

But then the question arises, do those banks work for the EU or does the EU work for those banks? In other words, who is a subsidiary of whom? And I think the answer is becoming more clear every day – namely that the banks are in charge, and that anything the French, German, or other governments do by way of rule-setting and enforcement is done in their role as a surrogate for the banks.

So far so good. But then we have to ask if the situation really and truly developed on its own – spontaneously – or if it was, in fact, planned... and I think the answer is again clear. The “PIGS” (or “PIIGS” if you include Italy) are being rounded up and brought into the fold one by one. First they're allowed to get hooked on borrowing and spending, just like the most abject junkie, and then the day of reckoning comes and they're left with no resources (other than slave labor) and no defenders. It is then that the creditor nations/banks move in and take over, in the modern version of empire building. The interesting thing about it is that what is now developing is a Franco-German empire, which is, truly, a new thing under the sun, since those two entities have been on-and-off enemies for centuries now.

But that's just part of the story, as we all already know. Another part is that the Greek government is having to consider “severe austerity measures” -- AKA living within a (balanced, I assume) budget, in order to meet the conditions for their sale of their country into slavery. Oh yeah... the big boys aren't just going to welcome them into the sheepfold with open arms; they have to pay the price of modifying their behavior as well. Then consider what the Greek government is facing: They are in charge of a nation of, basically junkies – people who have lived beyond their proper means for as long as most of them can remember. And socialism does that to you – it completely beclouds any sort of realistic picture of what your proper standing of living is, and instead dazzles you with images of a perfect life. And so, when that perfect life turns out to be a cruel hoax, people react the way one would expect – they take to the streets and start burning and smashing things. We've seen it in our own “inner cities”, on and off, for decades now, and psychologically the causes are quite similar.

Now, one could say, but wouldn't “rational” people know better than to adjust their expectations to a stratospheric (nice Greek word, there) level? After all, isn't Greece the birthplace of “reason”? Well, yes – if we're talking about toga-clad philosophers. But overall, people are people anywhere you go, and once they are hooked on a certain idea it is nigh unto impossible to unhook them. (It may take only one generation to produce a socialist, but it takes a hundred years to produce a libertarian.) And it's the ordinary people – not the philosophers – who are taking to the streets. And admittedly, all they are concerned with is their handouts and entitlements... their “piece of the pie”. They couldn't care less if their country is self-ruled or confined to a penitentiary-like subdivision of the EU. In fact, I doubt if those running the government of Greece care either – as long as they get their cut. They will sell their own country down the river if need be, as long as they continue to receive their “perks”. (What ever happened to national pride? The answer is “the EU”.)

Ah, but! Maybe things aren't so bad after all. Now the French banks are offering Greece “rollovers” -- which are the equivalent of refinancing a home mortgage (even when “under water”)... or using one credit card to pay off another. They're the equivalent, in other words, of methadone for a junkie – not a cure but, basically, just a legal version of the thing they got addicted to in the first place.

So this is the reward Greece gets for joining the EU! But, lest we forget, one of the main motivators for insolvent socialist governments to join was precisely this – the availability of a safety net, courtesy of the EU, i.e. of the _solvent_ socialist governments. Yes, you can be socialistic and still stay in the black – but it takes a people of discipline and a certain sort of character to pull this off... people like the Germans, say. They can – as can the Scandinavians – head for the cliff's edge at full speed, but then pull up short while their less-sophisticated, more impulsive fellows go careening off into the pit. And that is precisely what has happened over the years in the EU – with full intent, I might add. Like teenagers in a 1950s hot-rod movie, the smart ones know when to make that last-instant turn and the dumb ones don't. So we're left with the final scene in the cemetery with everyone in mourning for “Johnny”, while some doughy old police chief stands off to the side muttering “Why don't they listen? Why?” And it's a good question – but the answer is that socialistic governments do listen – to the irrational demands of the citizens, who have been taught that they have nothing but “rights”, and no obligations or responsibilities.

And as Greece goes, so goes Portugal, Ireland, Spain, and Italy too, I guess – all strangely confined to the Mediterranean or the Celtic sphere. And what is the significance of this? Is it because people from those places tend to be weak minded... gullible... foolish? Well, not weak-minded so much as invincibly ignorant when it comes to even the most basic economics. They literally don't understand where money, or wealth, or prosperity come from; their thinking is non-linear and, basically, magical. So they become fair game for those who do not labor under those sorts of illusions. And I suppose there is a certain kind of Darwinian justice to it all – but it's still depressing and sad. I mean, we throw junkies in jail in this country even though many people would say it's not their fault – go after the pushers instead. Well, OK – but the Puritan mind set is ever focused on individual responsibility, and mainly on everyone getting their “just deserts”, according to those who fancy that they stand on the moral high ground. In other words, it's a very non-compassionate world view that is operating here... and if you consider that the doctors, let's say, and the pushers are the same people – as is the case in the EU – it goes way beyond simple lack of compassion to outright exploitation and sadism.

Ah well, at least the trouble is confined to Europe; it's nothing we have to worry about, right? Or... well, we're constantly being told that Greece's troubles are going to create a fearsome domino effect, and will “shake confidence”, and “roil the financial markets”, etc. Well... this is partly just old-fashioned fear mongering, designed to get everyone else to go along with the scam. And, it also provides cover for those who fully intend to extract the maximum profits from the situation – the way the anarchy resulting from a natural disaster provides cover for looters. How can the average person tell when things are bad just because they're bad, and when they're bad on purpose? They can't – and that's just the situation that those in charge want. What they want is bad times, to lower people's expectations, but not times that are sufficiently bad to create real anarchy. I mean, they don't want to have to drive their limo to work every day through a gauntlet of bonfires and people throwing bricks. But even that can have its uses, as witness the events in Greece right now. You loose the dogs of economic war, let people express themselves with a bit of violence... that scares the bourgeoisie, who give the politicians carte blanche, which really means giving the financial powers carte blanche... and the noose is tightened around everyone's neck. We have seen this cycle in this country time and time again, and it's not always about money either – at least not directly. It can be about social unrest, “rights”, jobs, housing – any number of things. But the outlines are always the same, which leads one to believe that there is a template being applied, in a cyclic way, by those in power.

But hold on; I'm not finished. Even though we fancy ourselves aloof, and much more stable and secure than those hapless Greeks, we really aren't. The conditions being protested in the “Greek street” are no different from those we will have here, eventually – but our day of reckoning has not yet come, because whoever's in charge has decided to put it off for a while more. But think about it – insane levels of borrowing, insane levels of debt – all for the sake of entitlements and handouts? And in our case we are also acting as the world's policeman, which at least one cannot say of anyone in the EU – except for the occasional Sunday afternoon jaunt across the Mediterranean to bomb Tripoli. And as I said, it's not as if we have no experience with what happens when people's economic world, and world view, are threatened. The Greeks will riot about just about everything, it's true – as will the Italians, the Arabs, the Argentines, all those hot-blooded types. But we have our career rioters as well, confined so far to the inner cities and large university campuses. But who is to say that can't change? You try to impose the same “austerity measures” on American citizens that Greece is imposing on its citizens, and you might just wind up with working-class _white_ riots... or Hispanic riots... or even bigger black riots... or all three combined! And what happens when it starts cutting into the middle class? Well, they won't go so far as to riot; they are too used to being treated like lambs to the slaughter. But might there not be mirror images to the tea parties – middle class people demonstrating _for_ entitlements, rather than against them? It has happened, in a low-key way. And who knows, it might even get to the point where our middle class starts demonstrating against war; now that would shake up the powers that be!

So – I say that as Greece goes, so go we; eventually. The die is cast. And it might take years for things to come to a head, but when they do it will be for the same reasons – borrowing, spending, entitlement addiction, followed by disappointment and frustration... and all watched over from the high vantage point of the powers of this world – the bankers, the pushers, the manipulators. They look on with evil grins as places like Greece are clamped in irons... and will look on likewise as any other country in the EU sphere that is tried and found wanting is dealt with the same way. And then their sights will turn toward the U.S. -- and in fact, they already have. We are being fattened for the kill; make no mistake. Our fate is already firmly in hands not our own, but this will become more obvious over time, and less possible for our leaders to deny. The day that the papers are signed committing us to enslavement, those doing the signing will be the same ones we elected to office.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Thousand Points of Blight

This Says It All

Recent headline on a very small item in the paper: “U.S. drone strike kills 12, mostly terrorists.” Well, good. “Mostly” is all we need to know, in order to declare “mission accomplished”. Of course, no one ever asks who it is that defines who is, or is not, a “terrorist”... and no one ever ask who the hapless souls were who were not terrorists. Innocent bystanders? Children of terrorists? Grandmothers of terrorists? We'll never know. But it's that “mostly” part that gets me – that makes it perfectly acceptable. And of course it's that “mostly” part that is the best recruiting tool for the other side. I imagine that a lot of people in Iraq and Afghanistan (and now also Libya) (and Yemen) (and... fill in latest folly here) aren't all that sympathetic when a terrorist (or whatever they are called locally) in their midst is killed – after all, they chose that life style and that vocation, right? But the local fruit vendor, or his kids? That's a different story, and that's precisely what is going to make the ordinary citizen over there take sides with the hard-core types, at least until we have vanished, or been vanquished, from the scene.

The Incredible Vanishing Country

And by the way, what ever happened to Iraq? Oh wait, I forgot -- we pulled out. Except that we didn't. We still have 50,000 troops over there, and... oh wait, I forgot, they aren't "combat" troops. Except that they're still engaged in combat, and some of them are getting killed. But through the miracle of word magic, the administration can claim that we are no longer engaged in combat operations in Iraq, and that those killed were... oh, I don't know, given poison bubble gum or something. And the amazing thing is not that the administration would say this, but that the American people believe it.

Smoke Across the Water

Canadians are living in PC hell right now – mostly of their own making, I might add. But the latest example does make one stop and think how really different things are north of the border. It seems that a couple in Nova Scotia (of all places!) is allowed to grow marijuana for medical purposes. But because of various medical factors, they are unable to cultivate the plants themselves. So – the local government has been ordered, by the courts, to “help (the) needy couple improve their marijuana garden” -- I guess through some sort of team volunteer effort. My only question is, what color ribbon will be used to signify this? In any case, the bottom line is that, at least in this case, the right thing is being done, albeit in a convoluted, roundabout, socialistic, PC way. Once in a while a great string of wrongs can make a right. And mainly, we in the U.S. are many years away – if ever -- from this level of humanitarianism. Down here, the Puritan mindset continues to rule. Gee, maybe the Tories who fled to Canada during the Revolution had a point...

Green Mansions

Just when you thought that everyone on Earth had been issued a government I.D. card and was wearing Nikes, now it turns out that there is a new “uncontacted” tribe in the Brazilian rain forest. They call themselves the... well, we don't know, because they're “uncontacted”, remember? But I love this – their presence has been discerned by means of satellite imagery and airplane expeditions... and “the government agency... uses airplanes to avoid disrupting isolated groups.” Um... well, don't you suppose that having airplanes buzz the treetops over your village on a regular basis could be somewhat disruptive? For all we know, they could already have started a new religion based on this – a kind of no-cargo cargo cult or something. What I really suspect is that if they ever are “contacted” they'll turn out to be just a bunch of hippies... or marijuana farmers... or regular Indians who are already using iPods, Twitter, and Facebook. But we'll still have to put T-shirts on all the women and teach them about birth control – that is, after all, the American way, even if we're talking about South America.

Party Animals

And speaking of chutzpah, here's Hillary Clinton criticizing the Russian government for harassing a new political party. According to an article, “In the last four years, nine liberal parties have been denied registration on various technicalities.” Right – has Ms. Clinton taken a look at the harassment and obstructions that third (and above) parties suffer in this country? They can't even get into the primaries in most places, not to mention the general election. How much does our vaunted “two-party system” differ from the old one-party system of the communist countries? It's a monopoly, and it exerts tight control over the media. The main difference is that there is a pretext of difference, dialog, and “healthy debate” -- whereas, in fact, all but the most trivial topics of discussion are off the table, and strictly forbidden.

Thirsty Sands

The latest idiocy on Libya is as follows: (1) "A 'defiant' U.S. House voted... to deny President Obama the authority to wage war against Libya.” And, (2) “Republicans fell short in an effort to actually cut off funds for the operation...” So... Congress is not allowing Obama to wage war on Libya, but they're giving him the money to wage war on Libya. Can anything more pathetic be imagined in all of American history? And as far as denying Obama the authority, he's already indicated that he intends to ignore any effort of that kind. As far as he's concerned, he already has the authority by definition, and he intends to use it. And with funding not an issue, who's to stop him?

AC/DC Currency

Now this is interesting. “China PM likely to back EU's single currency.” Well... to begin with, doesn't the EU already have a single currency? It did the last time I looked. So why does it need “backing” from the Chinese PM, of all people? What interest does China have in whether the EU has a single currency, or ten, or a hundred? This is the point at which most “analysts” knock off for lunch. But I see in this hints of something I've been trying to get a grip on for a long time now – that China and the EU are slowly converging based on mutual interests, and the U.S. is becoming the outlier. I've been saying that our banking system, and therefore our economy, are ultimately under the control of European entities – and I suspect the same is true of our own currency. Because in this day and age, currency is power; it's not just a trivial matter of what we call our medium of exchange. A united Europe without a unified currency would be meaningless... but a unified currency amounts to de facto unity, no matter what else might or might not be brought under the same umbrella. So the EU unites by way of a single currency, which remains formidable despite the failings of the incompetent “PIGS”... and our currency continues to shiver and shake, with the worst yet to come. And then in steps China, which owns a lot of our currency, which gives them considerable leverage over things like foreign policy and trade, and joins forces with the EU to... what? Bring the U.S. under even greater, and tighter, control? I mean, what could be more devastating to our economic freedom than a pact of some sort between the bankers who control our banking system and our currency, and the people who own the lion's share of said currency? You think it's because the EU wants to make the Chinese rich? Heck no – it's all about power, and control. And I guarantee, the cozier things become between the EU and China, the hotter things are going to become for us – although the collaborators in the administration and in Congress will never admit that there's any connection.

When “Out” Does Not Mean “Out”

And, oh, I almost forgot – we're getting out of Afghanistan! Er, well, I mean 10% of the way out. And by the end of the year. And 20% more next year. If things continue to go, um, “well”. But of course they won't, so that will be all the excuse Obama the War President (cue for his lefty supporters to cringe) needs to keep us over there. But Pat Buchanan seems slightly more impressed than I am by this news. He contends that the “removal of 30,000 troops in 15 months means that Obama has given up all hope of victory over the Taliban.” My question is why? Isn't that 30,000 the number that went into the “surge”, and wasn't that successful... kind of? And didn't we finally catch up with Osama? Maybe what Buchanan is saying is that we can't win with only 70,000, but we can avoid defeat with 70,000 – in other words, it's a recipe for stalemate – which is, in fact, the unstated goal of our exertions in Afghanistan (and Iraq, Libya, Yemen, etc.) -- to stay there forever as an occupying force, with no one ever questioning why we don't “win” and come home... but also to not abjectly lose and get thrown out, a la Vietnam. It is, in fact, a kind of anemic version of empire that we seek – one where we're not really in charge, do not “own the night” (or the day either), but still manage to hang on like some crusaders in their castles in the Holy Land. (Fairly apt simile, now that I mention it.) Now, you could say, but what good does that do anyone? And my answer would be – all the usual suspects, which means most assuredly not the American people, the military, or the economy. But what do all those things have to do with the goals of the administration and their overlords? Absolutely nothing.

She Kept Her Promise...

Now here's a populist of the old school. “Police recovered jewelry said to have belonged to the late Argentine first lady Eva Peron” -- including a diamond tiara, diamond earrings, and rings adding up to $8.5 million. And this was “a woman of the people”. Sheesh... good thing she wasn't some kind of elitist.

Too Depressing For Words

Ben Bernanke is now describing the recent “financial shock... as possibly the worst in the nation's history.” Worse than the Great Depression, of which he is an acknowledged expert? Apparently so. So... why aren't we calling it the Second Great Depression? Or... maybe that comes along later, in retrospect. Assuming there will be anyone left to even talk about it.

NATO Waffles

And speaking of mouthing words, outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, addressing NATO recently, said, regarding our involvement: “Choices are going to be made more on what is in the best interests of the United States.” In other words, we're through doing all the heavy lifting for our European “allies” -- even when the whole thing is our idea, as is the case in Libya. Why, if they're not willing to help us out, we'll just take our planes and missiles and go home. This, of course, is pure fiction. When was the last time any president, or any administration, made choices based on the best interests of the United States? It certainly hasn't happened since we got into World War I. No, our foreign policy has been Euro-centric, and Israel-centric, for as long as anyone can remember, and that is not going to change, especially because we are no longer masters of our own fate. We don't control our currency, or our economy, or our foreign policy, so what makes Gates or anyone else think we're going to all of a sudden start acting in our own interests militarily? He says this while we're in the middle of (at least) three wars ranging across the Arab world, and gearing up for even more. Is he nuts? No – what he may be saying is that we are going to have to – to some extent at least – de-emphasize Europe in view of commitments elsewhere. Which is a way of saying congratulations, that – through the tender offices of the EU – Europe has finally stabilized itself to the point where we no longer need to send, or keep, troops over there to keep them from killing each other. But believe me, any withdrawal of troops from Europe, or downsizing of our commitment to NATO, will be symbolic at best, because he was still talking to the people who are in charge of our fate, and they won't let us wander too far off the reservation.

One Man's Terrorist

As to “terrorism”, and how it's defined, now we have no less than the supreme leader of Iran accusing us – us! -- of terrorism, citing drone strikes that have killed civilians in Afghanistan. He “said a country whose military forces are responsible for such deaths cannot lecture the world about fighting terror.” Well, yeah... but if only it wasn't him who said it! We're obviously not going to accept criticism of this sort from a country that _we_ have defined as “terrorist” -- are we now? But here's what I like – call it a candidate for the “Hall of Fame of the Obvious”. The article goes on to point out that “the statement... revealed the differences between Iran and the United States on the issue of who is a terrorist and who is a freedom fighter.” Well, duh! The Iranian leader even dared to point out that we have accused Palestinians of terrorism when they, in fact, “fight for the liberation of their land”.

OK, here's an idea – and this could be picked up in a heartbeat by all the media, government agencies, press secretaries, etc., and it would simplify the dialog greatly. Let's just, from now on, call anyone who is fighting (on whatever side) in a country not their own a “terrorist”. And let's call anyone who is fighting (on whatever side) in their own country a “freedom fighter”. So, for example, any Iraqi citizen fighting within the boundaries of Iraq is a freedom fighter; ditto Afghanistan. And any Iraqi or Afghan fighting on our soil is a “terrorist”. So far, so good. Also, any non-Iraqi fighting on Iraqi soil is a “terrorist”. No one's going to argue with that, as long as it refers to people from other Arab/Islamic nations pursuing “jihad”. But... it also refers to all U.S. military personnel in Iraq. So this kind of combines everyone's point of view into a single, unified point of view -- terminology-wise, at least.

And yes, this is a hard saying – but it corresponds better with the reality of the situation than any of the propaganda that continues to pour our of the mouths of the administration and their media facilitators.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sicko

A straightforward article about longevity in the U.S. unwittingly reveals one of the prime memes besetting the American mind. The article, in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, points out that “national data indicate the United States is falling behind other nations in life expectancy rates.” That is – pay attention now – based on the fact that “more than 80 percent of U.S. counties fell in standing against the average of the 10 nations with the best life expectancies in the world.” Sounds like one of those convoluted sports statistics, doesn't it? All it means is that, compared to the top 10 countries on Earth in terms of life expectancy, the U.S. isn't so hot, if you take county-by-county statistics as your criterion. Well, OK – no big surprise there, since those stats have to include places like Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, Baltimore, D.C. -- you get the idea. There are certain people out there who simply insist on dragging down statistics like this, and embarrassing the rest of us. And the way they do it is many-fold: poor pre-natal nutrition, substance abuse, STDs, negligent child care, a culture of violence, poor nutrition, unhealthful lifestyles, and so on. These are all things that people in the U.S. can get away with with scant interference from the government, because they, by and large, belong to ethnic and racial groups that have been what I called “triaged” -- i.e. given up as hopeless. I doubt that the “top 10” have comparable groups of any significant size. Could be wrong, but...

You see, our history of genuine diversity as well as our PC pro-”diversity” culture virtually dictate that we will have certain subgroups that simply don't read off the same page as the rest of us when it comes to nutrition, general health, and lifestyle factors. And no one dares to challenge them, because that would be considered “racist”, or “discriminatory” -- so we wind up with stats like this, and everyone is rendered uneasy, but there is nothing that can be done.

But here's the real crux of the matter: “Despite the fact that the U.S. spends more per capita than any other nation on health, eight our of every 10 counties are not keeping pace in terms of health outcomes.” Notice that bit about spending “more per capita”... and notice that the obvious premise is that the more we spend, the healthier we ought to be. But actually, the exact opposite is the case. We spend what we spend in order to compensate for the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle – you know, obesity, lack of exercise, junk food, processed food, and so on. It could almost be said that the most healthy society would spend the least per capita on health – because they are oriented toward prevention rather then “cure” (which really means “treatment”, often of questionable utility). The only problem with this notion is that it would put the society in question in the same category as some fly-blown hellhole in sub-Saharan Africa... and that would be grossly misleading.

Another reason we spend so much per capita on “health” is that we aren't really spending it on “health” at all. We're spending it on treating symptoms of illness – i.e. of poor health – but not on treating causes. And this is all in pursuit of a medical model based on pathology rather than health maintenance, and which involves treatments that are generally invasive and non-holistic. And to add to this, we have “big pharma”, which relentlessly pushes medications that are highly-refined and far from natural sources, and which are based, again, on the allopathic model rather than something more in tune with natural processes (like homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture, etc.). And the funny thing about “big pharma's” remedies is that they tend to cost many times what more modest and unassuming holistic remedies cost, even though they may be no more effective and, in fact, come with a vast array of negative side effects and toxicity factors. So we wind up drugged, cut (subjected to surgical procedures of questionable value), “chemed”, radiated, and so on – all at a hideously high price... and we wind up no healthier than the “top 10”, who, I suspect, have a more rational, less fetish-prone view of medicine than we do.

We pay dearly, in other words, for our Puritanical, life-hating, character-armored “battle against nature” orientation toward medicine. We pay dearly for our Protestant-based core hatred of the body. We pay dearly for “scientism” -- the notion that the guys in white coats know so much more about medicine than the granny ladies and herbalists of old that the latter should be thrown in jail for “practicing medicine without a license”. So it's no wonder we're in this fix. We're sick, and getting sicker – and we don't understand why, because we spend so much. It's not unlike the situation with the public schools – we get more for less every year, and persist in being baffled because we don't want to face up to the real facts. And on some level, our built-in Protestant masochism tells us that feeling, and being, sick is our natural lot in life; it's what we deserve. So the racket that is “modern medicine” rolls on, dominating the discussion and forcing its will on Congress, and therefore on the legal system. They are perfectly happy when everything costs more... and they are perfectly happy when the competition (i.e., various forms of holistic medicine) is mercilessly suppressed. The overall health of the citizenry is of no concern to them – only their power base and their monopoly on resources. And it's not even as if they never do anything right; that's not the point. Mere life expectancy is not the only possible metric; there is also that thing called “quality of life” -- and that is the very thing that is never brought up in conversation, except when the time comes to end a life because it lacks “quality”. Then they're all for it; but in the meantime they couldn't care less. A drugged, cut, “chemed”, and radiated populace that can barely deal with the most ordinary demands of everyday life, and that anticipates with dread the dawn of every new day – that's just groovy, as long as they get their cut. We have, in short, no “wellness” industry, but a “sickness” industry – and as its power expands, you can naturally expect an ever-higher proportion of the populace to qualify as being “sick” in some way, life expectancy notwithstanding. We are already seeing this at an early age, with grade-school kids, who are turning out to have various “syndromes” in truly shocking numbers. But that is, again, a power play on the part of the medical profession (not to mention the public education racket, social workers, etc.). Once you define childhood, per se, as “pathological”, then you've assumed control over all aspects of a large and growing (literally as well as statistically) proportion of society – and, please note, a rationale for removing them from their parents' authority. Oh no, don't assume that this is a separate issue; it's one and the same. What I call the “pathologization” of society is a racket on many fronts, and not the least is the transfer of authority over children from their parents to the state (as represented by the the public education cartel).

Do you see how the walls start to close in? The medical model – based on the Protestant mindset – metastasizes, and reaches out, like The Blob, to surround and devour an ever-larger portion of the populace, and therefore of our resources (not to mention our attention, fears, and sheer terror). They scare everyone to death with an ever-expanding array of fearsome ailments (many of which are “incurable at this time, but we're working on it, but we need more money," etc.). They play blackmail games with hideously expensive drugs and “treatments”, in order to coerce the citizenry into forcing the government into paying for it all. They push the Utopian, and therefore impossible, notion of “the best available medical treatment for all”, and thereby eat up even more in the way of national resources. And then they pretend to be hurt and offended by ObamaCare, when in fact it's the program of their dreams – requiring “the best possible” medical care for all citizens with price as no object. And when there is no competition for medical services – a state of affairs long-since assured by the medical lobby – then there is no limit to what can be charged the citizenry, either directly or by way of charging the government, which ultimately forces the citizenry to pay the bill.

So when all of this is considered, it's actually a miracle that our “outcomes” are as good as they are. One could chalk it up, I suppose, to American DNA to some degree – the idea that this country was settled by the tougher members of the species. One could also allow for the possibility that not everyone is mesmerized by the pronouncements of the medical establishment, and that “home remedies” are still more in vogue than anyone wants to think. But can it be denied that the emphasis on life expectancy is superficial, and that quality of life is something few want to discuss, because that discussion would inevitably lead to a consideration of more holistic, less violent (and violating) forms of medical care – to, in fact, a serious consideration of prevention, which is still an idea valued only by a small minority? From the perspective of living in Pittsburgh -- which, I would say, is a pretty normal place, public health-wise -- I can guarantee that the whole notion of prevention, and of healthy lifestyles, is the province of the educated elite, and that “Joe Sixpack” thinks no more about it than he does the price of brown rice in Japan. The typical person in this area is pasty, overweight, flabby, and eats what amounts to garbage at every meal. They might – might – start thinking about their health once they're lying in the ICU with tubes running in and out of every orifice... but up until then, “fuhgeddaboutit”. And, I guess, this is a sign of one of the few remaining freedoms we have left – to overeat and poison ourselves to death with “comfort foods”. But then the medical establishment pretends to be shocked – shocked! -- at the result. Maybe if they changed their message, they would get a result more to their liking. But wait, no... that would erode their vast power base. Better to remain a wealthy elite ruling over a society of sick people – yes, that will surely insure our survival and prospering as a society.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Profiles In Cowardice

I take it all back. I have accused Congress, any number of times, of rank cowardice in dealing with a war-crazed president. But now it appears they have gotten tough – I mean really tough. Take this excerpt from today's paper (McClatchy), having to do with the dialog between Congress and the president on Libya: “... the (Senate) resolution says, 'Congress does not support deploying, establishing or maintaining the presence of units and members of the United States Armed Forces on the ground in Libya unless the purpose of the presence is limited to the immediate personal defense of United States Government officials... or to rescuing members of NATO forces from imminent danger.'”

Now... to begin with, who said anything about “deploying, establishing, or maintaining the presence of units and members of the United States Armed Forces on the ground in Libya”? When did that enter the discussion? See how the administration sneaks things in under the cover of night, and raises the ante when no one is looking? All of a sudden we're worried about troops “on the ground in Libya”, when only yesterday it was all about “logistical support” of NATO.

So now the decision has worked itself up to – in the twinkling of an eye – whether to start a third ground war in the Islamic world. And this in the face of... well, just about anything that could possibly argue against it.

And get a load of John Kerry, peacenik extraordinaire. Now that it's a Democratic war, it would, all of a sudden, “be ignorant, irresponsible and short-sighted, and dangerous for our country” to not support the Libyan rebels. And just like any just-so story, this will be accepted by the majority of the Congress and the citizenry as an obvious fact, hardly worth debating – of _course_ it makes perfect sense to support any and all rebels against any and all Islamic regimes, even ones we have been propping up for decades. And – even though said rebels are likely to be far more fundamentalist in their thinking than the fat, greedy, greasy dictators that they replace. So we are busy in the Arab world turning old friends into enemies, in the hope that their enemies will turn out to be our new friends, and even better friends than our old friends, who are now enemies. Got that? Well, from a purely political point of view this is foolishness in the first degree. After all, what is our Job One in the Islamic/Arab world/Near East/Middle East? Defending Israel “at all costs”, of course – first, last, and always. So are we really all that convinced that the new rulers across the belt of Islam will be more favorably disposed toward Israel than all the old, long-since-bought-off ones? It doesn't seem likely, somehow. One of the common elements of the so-called “Arab spring” (rapidly morphing into the “Arab long, hot summer”) is that the rebels are more religious – more fundamentalist – than the decadent royalty or dictators they hope to replace. And how friendly are Islamic fundamentalists to Israel? Um... well, all one has to do is look at places that have already gone down the fundamentalist path, like Iran. So... what are we doing supporting, encouraging, and egging on all these movements? “Just sayin'...”

But to get back to the courageous Senate resolution – it is designed, supposedly, to “advance national security interests in Libya” -- by which, I assume, they mean _our_ national security interests in Libya... but the problem is, I don't think we _have_ any national security interests in Libya. Could be wrong, but...

But have a look at the stringent conditions behind the resolution. No troops allowed “unless the purpose of the presence is limited to the immediate personal defense of United States Government officials...” Well, the way to protect “United States Government officials” is to get them out of those hell-holes as soon as possible, not by sending troops in. In fact, an even better way is to not send them over there in the first place. Where is it written that we have to have “diplomatic relations” (AKA “CIA spy posts") with all these shitholes? Nowhere that I'm aware. But a favorite tactic of any administration desiring war is to send poor, innocent government officials into the midst of a chaotic situation in a hopeless place, wait for something to happen, and then declare war because, after all, our “officials” were not given the proper level of protection expected of any half-way civilized society. (And make no mistake, if anyone but Jimmy Carter had been president when the Iranians took our entire diplomatic contingent hostage, we would have been at full-scale war with Iran within 24 hours. That would, of course, have been perfectly justified in view of what they did to the poor Shah, our most photogenic puppet to date.)

But the resolution goes on: “... or to rescuing members of NATO forces from imminent danger.” OK... by “NATO forces” they mean either our own forces, or the so-called “forces” of other NATO countries that are foolish enough to join in our quixotic quest. And again I say, the way to keep “forces” out of danger is to keep them home. Ah, but that's much too simple a concept for our geniuses in the administration and the State Department. Again, the idea is to put our troops in harm's way, and then when harm happens, send in more troops, and so on ad infinitum.

So here we have the Senate, pretending to have some modicum of control over a war-crazed president, pretending to get tough and strict as to the criteria for war. But in fact, they have handed Obama the usual carte blanche. There is no imaginable situation that could not readily be turned into a case which they would consider a valid purpose, according to the resolution. Lest we forget, the government is expert at provocateur activity, of which the Gulf of Tonkin and its resolution (that word again!) are prime examples. You provoke an attack (like Pearl Harbor) – that's one way. Or, you simply pretend there was an attack (Gulf of Tonkin); the result is the same. And does Congress really have “feelers” in places like Libya to detect the truth or falsehood of any claim made by the military or the administration? Of course not – they have to take their word for everything. There is no independent verification; it's impossible. So they are limited to toothless, sorry-assed “resolutions” that are simply laughed at in the White House.

When, oh when, will the members of Congress realize that they have absolutely no power, and simply give up and go home? Ah, but the benefits of those jobs are tremendous, and worth putting up with any level of humiliation.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Mother of All Debts

USA Today, whose articles normally exhibit a degree of blandness that would rival anything put out by Reader's Digest, has finally gotten down and dirty when it comes to the national debt – not the one advertised by the Obama administration, amounting to $14.3 trillion -- no trivial sum – but the real national debt, which takes into account all unfunded obligations and entitlements. The beyond-princely sum in question, according to an article in the June 7 issue, is $62 trillion, which is as hard for me to wrap my brain around as Einstein's model of the universe. It is, in fact, more money than we have now, and more than we will ever have. (It may be more money than there is in the entire world, but I'd have to check on that.) And yet, in some mysterious way, we “owe it” to... well, just about everybody, but mostly to holders of “entitlements”, which can briefly be defined as government-guaranteed income. The article goes on to state that the sum in question amounts to over half a million dollars per household – which adds up to the fact that the United States, in the aggregate – including all of its hapless citizenry – is not only bankrupt, but bankrupt in the extreme. For how many households are worth even one-tenth that much? Precious few, I would say. And yet, in some mysterious sense, they all “owe” over a half million dollars to... some aggregate something-or-other. Which means that every child born is born owing some fantastic amount of money to that same aggregate.

Now, this situation is nothing less than total enslavement, in my opinion. If a person can be born in this country, on this day, already owing, let's say, over $100,000 to other people or entities, that is as good a definition of slavery as I've yet run across. But! -- you'll say – isn't the vast bulk of this simply obligations that we have taken on voluntarily? Don't we “owe it to ourselves”, as the old reassuring saying goes? Well, yes... and no. The “taken on” part is the responsibility of elected representatives, who are notorious for putting off until tomorrow what should be taken care of today. Their primary task, throughout their tenure, is to, in effect, bribe their constituents with ever-new and ever-expanded benefits, handouts, and entitlements, with no thought for the morrow. And that's just simple politics at work. You cage all the money you can, and give it to the people who you hope will vote for you; that's the American way. So while the average citizen cannot be said to have voted directly for all these entitlements and obligations, he certainly can be faulted for having voted for whoever did.

But then there's the other problem, which is the lag, or delay, between a given entitlement program and its consequences. Social Security, for example, has been around for as long as anyone can remember – but its Ponzi-scheme features are only now coming to light. Medicare has been around for less time, but its use and abuse by the medical/health care profession and its facilitators is only now going into overdrive. If each generation had to pay for whatever it mandated – directly or indirectly – we would see a much more sober picture. But as it is, one generation can gamble away billions, or in this case trillions, and not live to suffer the consequences. Later generations, who may or may not be equally guilty of delusional thinking, have to suffer the consequences nevertheless. But it's a curious quality of the politically-conditioned mind of our time that we seldom, if ever, think of the impact of any present-day legislation on future generations. They will take care of themselves... somehow. And this, in the face of the suffering we are already undergoing as a result of the follies of past generations, starting at least as far back as the New Deal. Back then, all legislation of any sort was predicated on a perpetual-growth model, according to which the prosperity and productivity of future generations would be more than enough to take care of the debts incurred by the present generation. No one, in that age of optimism, would have dreamed that there might be limits to “growth” and “progress”. And so, now that we are living in what I call the Age of Rebuke – rebuke of starry-eyed optimism, especially of the urban sort... rebuke of the notion that “technology” will solve everything, and cure all human ills... rebuke of the secular humanistic model of economics and society – we see that all of the old idols of the prior age have feet of clay. And yet, we cannot simply wash our hands of all of those delusions, and shake the dust from our sandals. No, we “owe”, based on obligations we never undertook, and economic failures that we never dreamed of.

And there is another problem besides, which has not been concealed from the public, and that is that much of our debt is, in fact, not owed to ourselves, but to other entities... like other countries... like China, for instance. And that can't possibly be good. We could cancel out all the debts that we owe to each other, but that would remain as one very large elephant in the drawing room. And the leverage this gives China, and its allies, is incalculable.

And this is not to say that a few good, solid pieces of legislation could not cure, or at least alleviate, many of these ills. Anything that can be made into law can be un-made. This notion that the vast bulk of the federal budget is “non-negotiable” is nothing but a hoax and a lie. But our legislators are a quivering, fear-ridden bunch, and anything even remotely approaching political courage is simply not on their radar. They are no more capable of making “tough political decisions” than a two-year-old is capable of putting money away for college. So with the vast bulk of our elected representatives being hobbled by “political considerations” -- AKA cowardice – we can hope for little relief from that quarter.

So the citizenry wind up victimized – but can one really claim that they are suffering innocents? After all, they have voted these incompetents into office for decades now, knowing full well that their promises were empty and impossible to keep. But greed kept the system humming along – the notion that if I can only “get mine” before the system collapses, than I'll have succeeded... well, isn't that basically the mind set? And yet it isn't all the citizens' fault, since the politicians reinforce this mind set, as do the media. “It's all a zero-sum game, and if I let the other guy get to the federal teat before I do, then I'm a loser.” Isn't that really what it's all about? Wanting to get more out of the system than one put in? So in that sense, we're all guilty. Anyone who expects anything unearned from the government is guilty. So in that sense, we deserve the catastrophe that has already happened – and the ones to come.

I have to, again, return to the contemplation of the broader question, namely: What is the good, proper, and just standard of living for an American citizen? And what has it been in the past? Have we been living better than is just? Are we the spoiled brats of the world? Sometimes it seems that way, when we consider the proportion of the world's total energy and resources that we require to sustain our lifestyle. And I don't have to go into detail as to our long history of exploitation when it comes to, e.g., Latin America, and also various parts of Africa and the Middle East. But if we've been living “high off the hog” for generations now, it seems that has still not been enough. We want to live not only within those relatively privileged means, but beyond those means – by, apparently, many times. We are in the position now of the person who thinks of his aggregate credit card credit as an asset – we can spend all of it, and borrow more if need be... and this is our right, and our just due. And it's tacky and impolite of anyone to ask for an accounting, or that it be paid back. And the key here is – again, like the credit card junkie – nothing that we borrowed and spent on was “bad” per se. It was all good stuff. But we couldn't afford it! (I use the “not bad per se” idea for the sake of argument, but the truth is entirely different -- not for individuals but when it comes to the nation.)

So again – if living “beyond our means” includes the “exploitation factor” as well as the borrowing factor, then we have clearly been living beyond our means for... decades now, if not generations. But what would it be like – what would it feel like – to live within our means? What would it mean for the average person, the average household? Well, one clue is to look at people who really do live within their means – namely the Amish. They are certainly not poverty-ridden, or living in squalor. But they are “plain” people -- “simple” in a way. And they do, it must be admitted, enjoy the protection of the larger society – a protection which they, by and large, do not have to pay for. But as a model, they can be highly informative. If everyone lived like they do, would we have the titanic deficit, and national debt, that we do now? It's highly unlikely. But the Amish have a highly-integrated, consistent value system – which cannot be said for the society as a whole. And – most importantly, perhaps – they all work. Parasites are not tolerated. No one feels “entitled”, and this is, perhaps, the major part of the Achilles heel of our society – the fact that a huge proportion of the citizenry feels “entitled” to a decent standard of living, regardless of any effort they might exert. And the problem with the “entitlement mentality” is that it knows no bounds – it is not bound by income, or budgets, or any laws of economics, or by the laws of space and time. It is, in fact, virtually infinite, and is never satisfied. An “entitlement junkie” who is living better than almost anyone in Afghanistan, let's say, will still take to the streets on the slightest provocation and demand more. And even this would not be a fatal flaw in our system if it were limited to a few pathological cases – but it's an attitude that afflicts vast reaches of our society, cutting across racial, ethnic, gender, and generational lines. When we see the rioting that breaks out in Greece over reductions in entitlements and “benefits”, we are not seeing something alien, but only our own society writ small. But this mentality stands in direct opposition to traditional American values -- self-sufficiency in particular – and is a blatant invitation to those who would make themselves our slave masters.

For you see, when a society “owes” $62 trillion to someone – anyone – it is already enslaved. Every American citizen alive today is already a slave, and everyone born from now on will be a slave, until the system collapses of its own weight. Sure, the government could, starting Monday morning, start printing bogus notes in ridiculously high denominations, the way the governments of Germany and Hungary did after World War I – or Zimbabwe more recently. We could pay off this debt in a heartbeat – but it would be the end, for all time, of the “full faith and credit” of the United States. And this is clearly not what the Regime wants. They don't want the slate to be wiped clean – now or ever. They want the United States in a kind of debtors' prison, where we are eternally obligated, and eternally under the shadow of impossible-to-repay debt, and therefore eternally coerced to serve their every whim – which means, first and foremost, serving as a source of military cannon-fodder and other forms of slave labor.

The United States prides itself – though not often explicitly – on having built an empire upon which the sun never sets. This is certainly true in terms of military bases and CIA "activities". But think about what that empire consists of – nothing but trouble. Iraq? Afghanistan? You call that an empire? Please. The Romans would have laughed – as would the British, the French, the Germans – any of the old-time colonial powers, in fact. For some reason – which escapes me so far – we are absolutely lousy when it comes to playing the empire game. The old colonial empires brought nothing but riches to the mother country. But to us, it brings nothing but bankruptcy. Even the most cynical empire builder is regularly rebuked by reality. We invaded Iraq to get their oil. Then why is Iraq an oil-importing country at this point? What went wrong? But when one distances oneself from the situation, one realizes that this, too, is part of the plan to reduce the United States to the role of a slave or servant to a higher power. What you do is lure us into unwinnable conflicts, then move in once we become weakened. It seems that, these days, every foreign venture, or adventure, that this country engages in is ill-advised and goes wrong from the very start – as witness the latest folly in Libya. Can this be coincidence? I say no – it is part of a master plan, in which our government is – not always wittingly – complicit. When the Republicans accuse Obama of doing things that “weaken” the United States, they are right on target – except that they have done the same sorts of things themselves, and with gusto. We are right now on a downward spiral like a heroin junkie that, on some level, knows he's killing himself but can't stop. And can we accuse our politicians of treachery and treason when we are the ones who voted them into office, and who approve – if tacitly – of every scheme they come up with? No – there is enough guilt to go around for all to get their fair share. And we have to ask ourselves, from whence comes this intense drive toward self-destruction? We are, in short, committing national suicide – economically, militarily, and culturally – and very few have the perception or courage to point this out. Was the “American experiment” really that bad of an idea, that it deserves to be crushed to dust in the view of all the world?

I think what's more likely is that the American experiment, while a noble cause on one level, was deeply flawed. (I've detailed some of those flaws in past posts, and am not going to go back into it at this point.) And it must be admitted that the “noble” part did prevail for a season – and a fairly long one, as modern history goes (in which everything is accelerated beyond human capacity to maintain an accurate view). But the thing about hidden flaws, and what I call the “heart of darkness”, is that they will out, eventually – and in our case this began as early as the Civil War, but reached a kind of culmination in the Vietnam conflict. That is the point at which the American ideal turned to ashes and crumbled – and was replaced by darkness, chaos, and absurdity. And everything since then has been burdened by this same absurdity – by the divorce and separation of American “policy” from anything remotely approaching ideals or values. I say “ideals” as opposed to “ideas” -- because there have been plenty of “ideas” proposed as rationale for our various follies overseas – but they are invariably distorted and wrongly-applied if not totally wrong. So, “spreading democracy”, for example, has turned into some sort of sick joke – as if burning the skin off of Afghan children had something to do with an idea called “democracy”.

Stalin was right in this sense at least – that he decided, at some point, to focus on making Russia the exemplar of communism and let the rest of the world take care of itself (for a time, at least). This was in opposition to Trotsky's more “international” approach, in which Russia would not have gotten any particular preference but only have been one of many revolutionary societies. One could make the same claim in the case of Mao – how anxious was he, really, to spread the blessings of communism abroad, other than supporting like minds in places like Vietnam and Korea? Maybe I'm giving them too much credit, but it's at least possible that they realized that every society – every culture – has to find the political system (or, at least, the variation on communism) that is the “best fit” for that society or culture... and that the “best fit” may not be the same for everyone. So in that sense, they were way ahead of us, because we persist in believing that our version of “democracy” is not only the best, but is the system of choice for all the world's societies – regardless of tradition, custom, mores, religion, ethnicity, race, and all the rest of it. We can transplant democracy – like transplanting a face – on any society or any nation, and it will somehow magically work; there won't be any significant resistance. So what we wind up with is a few sorry-assed nominal “democracies” like Iraq, that only pretend to honor our example because that's where the big bucks are. And everyone else agrees that it's a fine idea, then once the foreign aid checks are cashed go back to their old ways.

Plus, when we talk about “spreading democracy”, which version of democracy are we talking about? The Constitution, which everyone ignores? The Republican version? The Democratic version? I mean... what's more important, getting foreign countries up to snuff on tort law or getting them up to snuff on the rights of gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered persons? I'm serious! This is the sort of thing that occupies vast armies of bureaucrats in the State Department, for example. Is environmentalism and “greening” more important than property rights? We don't know the answer in this country – so why are we trying to tell other countries what they should think?

So really – to cut to the chase – this whole notion of spreading democracy, and “American values”, and so on, is a farce and a hoax. It never worked, and it's never going to work – for the simple and sad reason that our “values” are not so “universal” after all. We look at “women's rights” -- well, it's obvious, isn't it? Not if you're living in one of the “tribal areas” of northern Pakistan or Afghanistan. Their “values” have sustained them for eons – for much longer than the United States has existed. So what could possibly entice them to change? And the same thing, to some extent at least, happens every time we march out, with our missionary zeal, to try and change the hearts and minds of the unenlightened. Because what do we, after all, have to offer? Ideas, and only that. But we are competing with race, ethnicity, tradition, custom, religion – all of those things that we have sloughed off as not being a vital part of the American dream. We are also competing with the land – with a sense of place. We fancy that we have a sense of place -- “this land is your land” and all that – but it pales in comparison to the sense of place that is found in any traditional society. Yes, there are nomadic tribes, but the vast majority are solidly rooted in one place, and value it far beyond anything we can imagine. In a sense, Americans are all nomads – we are all refugees, displaced persons... so we owe and feel no loyalty to place, or time, or anything else. In fact, we pride ourselves on that quality – that we are infinitely “flexible” and “adaptive”. But what it means is that we have lost everything that traditional societies see as the groundwork for identity. Our identity is, once again, confined to “ideas” -- but we see (or should see) how readily those ideas become shopworn, and rebuked by the rest of the world. “Secular humanism” is not the natural state of mankind – and neither is any one political system. Our version of democracy – which has descended into farce – may have been as close to a natural state as we ever got as a society. But now that it _is_ farce, what do we have left? We have long since disavowed the value and significance of race (at least of the majority), ethnicity, religion, and even sexuality; we are living in what is, in effect, a Tower-of-Babel society, where every idea, position, or stance is given equal validity – except for any that imply absolutes. And it's this that we have to carry, with missionary zeal, to all corners of the earth? The rest of the world must look upon us as damned fools – and well they might. Because we are using a quickly-diminishing military power to impose our will on whomever we please – and yet that “will” consists of nothing more than raw power – the power to dictate, and to brutalize – at least for a season. There is nothing behind it, in other words – no ideas that have any validity beyond our shores (assuming they have any at all)... nothing that serves to strengthen, only that which destroys and disperses. Our impact on other nations – other cultures – is invariably destructive. I'm not sure this was always so, and I'm not sure it has to be so now, but that's the way it is. And I think it's because we have become an empty vessel – with residual power, surely, but empty nonetheless. We have nothing to offer but the boot – but we pretend that that boot is benign... and that if only other people would see it that way, we'd get along fine.

So in this sense, the $62 trillion debt is our karma – it's punishment for our folly and foolishness, both domestically and internationally, over the past decades. And the funny thing about karma is that it's very “Old Testament” in a way – the sins of the fathers will, indeed, be visited upon many generations to come. They will be paying the debt for our folly – but, in fact, since the debt is unpayable, they will be slaves. Our government has constructed a massive debtor's prison on our behalf – and we are all inmates. But in fact, although our own politicians have been collaborators in the matter, the prison has actually been constructed by a higher power – the international, globalist financial cartel, AKA the Regime. The United States, and its economy, are their greatest victory yet – and our hide will be proudly displayed in the great halls of Europe.

But why are they so smart, and we so stupid? Well, it's not a matter of smarts or stupidity as much as sheer cynicism. We are, as discussed above, prisoners of our own delusions, “democracy”, and the American Empire (the present-day version of “manifest destiny”). We spend all of our time and resources pursuing “ideas”, whereas the more worldly, cynical minds of this world spend all their time pursuing power and wealth – at everyone else's expense, including ours. This juxtaposition of their strength and our weakness goes a long way toward explaining events in the world today – why Europe, for all its apparent woes, still seems to be “in charge”, whereas we are rapidly going down the drain. This is the beginning of the Age of Cynicism, where cynicism and sheer materialism rule and “ideas” are headed for the trash can. Yes – our former communist foes are anything but communist now; they have discarded "ideas". But we have not, and that's why we are losing the race. If our ideas were truly universal, and had universal appeal, the situation might not be so dire – but as I've tried to point out, they are not universal and do not have universal appeal. They are the product of a certain time and place in history, and in many ways, in fact, go against typical (if not ideal) human nature. The very idea of democracy, for example, flies in the face of the almost-universal human desire for the "strong man" who will rule with an iron fist.

And do not think that I'm denying that there are common elements in human nature; not at all. Human nature, in its most basic, raw form, is the same everywhere – unfortunately, perhaps. But when we move into the behavior of people in groups – AKA sociology – things become a bit more muddled, complex, and conditional. And yet there are still common elements. Then we have the level of people in society – AKA anthropology – and at that point the differences start to outnumber the similarities. Finally we get to people as components of large political units – nation-states – and that's the point at which “diversity” triumphs – but, ironically, that is the very point at which our neocons and their political stooges start to warm up their war machines and stack up their ammo. I imagine that a small village in the upper reaches of the Amazon would be easier to convert to “the American way” than the entire country of Afghanistan – and yet look at which one we choose to tackle. We assume -- to paraphrase Gertrude Stein -- that a nation is a nation is a nation – but this is no more true today than it was 100 years ago... or 500... or 1000. And it is especially not true in the Middle East, where borders were established not according to ethnic, tribal, or religious divisions but by the European colonial powers, purely as a way to ease administrative burdens. There is, for example, really no such place as “Iraq”, and there is no such place as “Jordan”. They are will-o-the-wisps... delusions that popped into the head of some diplomat in London or Paris. And yet those places – those “nations” -- are expected to be coherent and iron-clad, and to behave as such... and to develop some sort of national pride and unity that cancel out eons-old factors of ethnicity, tribe, and religion. And then we wonder why those made-up countries fail so miserably, and why we fail so miserably in our dealings with them.

So yes, these delusions and the push-back of the world against them have contributed mightily to our economic woes, as has our entitlement mentality and our conviction that our standard of living is, and has been, our just due. But there is more going on here, as I have tried to point out. The “American Era” is over with, and we are nought but a hollow shell, appearances and propaganda notwithstanding. And the people who have placed their thumb firmly on the scale in order to accelerate the process that we began ourselves are, I believe, based in Europe. Because, after all, no matter how huge and powerful an American corporation, bank, mortgage firm, or brokerage firm is, you will find, in most cases, that they ultimately answer to someone off our shores, and that someone is typically someone “over there”. Every pyramid, in other words, no matter where the bulk of it is located, has its top in Europe. Yes, in the very countries where we persist in maintaining military bases, 65-odd years after the cessation of hostilities; but that is part of the plan as well. If Europe were being bled white by having to maintain military bases over here, the argument might run the other way. But that's not the way it is. The “army” of Germany since 1945 has been the U.S. military – ditto Korea, ditto Japan, ditto any number of other places. And again, I set before you all the many blessing of empire – which, basically, do not exist for us. The bigger our empire becomes, the more costly it becomes... but also, the more false, fraudulent, and hollow it becomes. Who, after all, owes us any loyalty these days? No one, basically. Our only 100%, all the time, 24-7-365 ally is Israel, and they insult us every chance they get. So we “don't get no respect”, as Rodney would say. And the reason is that we are, ultimately, a paper tiger that is easily duped and suitable for nought but heavy lifting -- sort of the nation equivalent of Lenny in "Of Mice and Men". We showed major muscle in World War II, but then fought Korea to a draw and lost in Vietnam. Ever since, we've been propping up this Potemkin empire of ours with a lot of “bombs, bullets, and bullshit”, but what has it amounted to? The entire Moslem world hates us... Europe thinks we're fools... China is buying us up like darkies on the slave market... and Russia is biding its time. Meantime, there is a resurgence of Marxism in Latin America and the usual genocidal chaos in sub-Saharan Africa. Quite a record of accomplishment for “the American century”, I must say!

But again I contend that this is all part of a plan, in which our politicians are complicit – which is to knock the U.S. off its perch as “the” power, and render it economically helpless, diplomatically impotent, and culturally moribund. And who would want to do this? “Why do they hate us?” Well, it's not so much a matter of hate as it is of power, and of the endless progress of history. No empire lasts forever, and any nation that is not busy growing is busy dying (to paraphrase Bob Dylan, I think). Europe has survived catastrophes without number over the last few centuries, but has nonetheless emerged prosperous (in the aggregate), stable (ditto), and – most importantly of all, perhaps -- “cynical”, i.e. unhobbled by the grandiose delusions that beset us. And I should add that they never did, even in the worst of times, lose their grip on the world's banking systems – which may, ultimately, be the critical difference. The European financial power runs deep – deeper than we can ever imagine in our relatively “nouveau” world on this side of the Atlantic. And from that power base they can manipulate things pretty much as they please... and I'm not convinced that most of our recent financial “crisis” wasn't the direct result of manipulation by the “gnomes of Zurich”, or Brussels, or wherever. And as to the question of why – again, it was partly to knock us off our perch and teach us a damn good lesson. It was also to show, by demonstration, that the age of “ideas” is long past – and it's ironic that France must have had a major part in all this, since they were the fountainhead for so many of the ideas that still plague the modern world. And it was also, let's admit, that they like money, and power, just like anyone else does. And – it was to keep us alive as a source of raw materials and cannon fodder, just like a colony of old. Because Europe, unlike us, does colonialism right – and we have now become, in many ways, a colony of Europe – not in the old, obvious sense but in the deep sense... the one defined by things like currencies, exchange rates, balance of trade, banking, securities, and so on. So while we continue to throw our weight around the world, like the village bully, there are wiser heads who know better... who know that our time has come. And they fully intend to pick up the pieces of our shattered empire and economy, and use them to their best advantage.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Republicans Withold Dues From War-of-the-Month Club

Wow... for a moment there I thought that Congress had rediscovered its male body parts. Should've known better, I guess. But what would you have thought if you'd read this headline: “Obama told to justify Libya”. And the subhead: “Boehner issues deadline for response in accordance with War Powers Act”. Yes! The Republican House Speaker challenging a Democratic president's authority to wage war without the authorization of Congress! This ought to be good. I imagined subpoenas... hearings... impeachment... jail time... but all for naught. It turns out that all Congress can do is “urge” the president to “explain the legal grounds for the continued U.S. military involvement in Libya”. That makes it sound pretty darned optional. But they did set a “deadline” for his response – by which I guess they mean a response to their “urging”, as opposed to things like “telling” or “ordering”. Oh, but they're “ratcheting up the pressure”, according to the AP article -- saying that Obama “did not seek Congressional consent” within the required time. Which is kind of like getting one's arm twisted by Stephen Hawking.

Can't you just see Obama and his neocon cronies sitting in the White House chortling over all this, and giving each other high-fives? Imagine, the U.S. Congress – the mice that roared! After 80-odd years of gradually turning all of their powers and authority over to a dictatorial Executive Branch, they dare to speak up at this late date – like some aged, haggard woman of pleasure suddenly asserting her virtue? No one's going to buy this, especially not a president who has wholeheartedly taken on the full dictatorial powers of the presidency, and significantly expanded on them besides.

I'm not enough of a student of history to tell you at precisely what point, or why, Congress began to turn itself into a vestigial organ – a cipher in the vaunted “balance of powers”. To be sure, the urge to “go along to get along” has been with us always... and elected representatives are nothing if not masters of compromise and the “deal”. But I think there's another mechanism operating here as well, which is the mass hysteria that typically accompanies any sort of crisis, and the tendency of Congressmen to be intimidated and overwhelmed by it all. It has to do with the natural human tendency to look up to the “strong man” -- not “men”, note, but “man”, as in singular. And the focus of this impulse from the earliest days of the Republic has been the president – regardless of his aptitude, intellect, morals, or judgment, and especially regardless of the Constitution. The man in the White House... the “man with the hat”... is the revered and glorious leader in good times but even more in bad times, whom all then turn to, and we have been living in times of more-or-less crisis for, as I said, 80-odd years now, at least. The first to take full advantage of this ill-starred tendency was FDR, but his successors have been no less willing to at least ride along on his coattails – especially when it comes to war and other “crises”.

So it really becomes, ultimately, a matter of the president plus the people, marching off to war amidst banners and the cadence of drums, and Congress is left behind in the dust. What they say, think, and do really matters very little – even when they manage to get some of it translated into law or regulation... because, to paraphrase Stalin, how many divisions does Congress have? And don't think that idea hasn't popped into the mind of many a president over the years. "What can they do to me?" Well, there is impeachment, of course – which has been tried a grand total of twice in all these years. A president has a better chance of being run over by a runaway streetcar than impeached and convicted. So that possibility doesn't even appear on radar. And compared to the glories of being a “war president”, it would be of small concern even if it did.

So with that as background, consider the pathetic mewping of Congress over Libya. If they had no problem with Kuwait, Panama, Kosovo/Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. they certainly have no right to suddenly wake from their slumbers and rediscover the War Powers Resolution, do they? At least that's the position Obama & Co. seem to be taking. And after all, the Resolution was passed during Nixon's time – a time of great strife, before tempers had cooled enough to allow the president to act autonomously.

Plus, consider the politics of it all. As I pointed out recently, America is a war-like, war-loving nation, no matter what anyone says. Most of the voters prefer war to peace. And the Republicans, under the baleful influence of the neocons, the Evangelicals, and the arms makers, never met a war they didn't like... and the Democrats never met a war being waged by a Democratic president that they didn't like. And, any war being waged on behalf of Israel – which means any war against any element of Islam, or against any Islamic country – will be met with deafening silence by members of both parties.

So what's Boehner's problem? Surely it can't be with the Libyan conflict per se. That's just a hook with which he hopes to snag Obama. It is, in fact, an act of desperation in anticipation of next year's elections (forgetting that the average voter has a hard time remembering to take the garbage out once a week, not to mention something that happened more than a year before Election Day). But it won't work, because there's “no controlling legal authority”, in the immortal words of Al Gore. And the reason for that is that Congress has long since given up any authority it might ever have had in this matter. They were stampeded by war hysteria led by FDR in 1941... intimidated by Truman a decade-odd later... totally conned by the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, courtesy of LBJ – and he had worked there, note, so he already knew what spineless weasels most of them were. Then we had more war hysteria after 9/11, and that brings us up to the present day.

And sure enough, this very afternoon the Obama administration sent a note to Boehner and Congress telling them to, basically, pound sand. It turns out that “President Obama has the legal authority to continue American participation in the NATO-led air war in Libya, even though lawmakers have not authorized it.” And why is that, class? Why, it's because it's not our war but NATO's. And it's not really a war, because it doesn't involve “hostilities”. (I knew there was something unusually kind and gentle about our rocket attacks on Tripoli, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it.) And we're just in a supporting role. And a bunch of other similar self-serving crap. In other words, even though the War Powers Resolution was the work of Congress, only the president is allowed to define when, where, and if it applies – which is kind of like allowing a killer to have the final say on whether his act was murder or self-defense. Oh, and it's not a war because our troops are not really “at risk”. Which I guess means that we could use cruise missiles to nuke Tehran but it wouldn't be an act of war because none of our troops would be “at risk”.

But! Lest anyone fear that what we have here is total anarchy based in the White House, we are reassured as follows: “We are not saying the president can take the country into war on his own... we are not saying the War Powers Resolution is unconstitutional or should be scrapped, or that we can refuse to consult Congress. We are saying the limited nature of this particular mission is not the kind of ‘hostilities’ envisioned by the War Powers Resolution.”

I must say, the sheer audacity of this statement is positively blinding in its implications. “It's only war if we say it is, and since we'll never call it war, it's never war, so it's always OK, and you can take your silly Resolution and shove it you-know-where.”

So, what should the response of Congress be to this outrage? To immediately initiate proceedings for impeachment, of course. But what will their response be? To go meekly back into their golden cages, tails between their legs (and nought else). Yes, they piped up again, only to be slapped down – the same way Obama keeps getting hushed by Netanyahu. So now we have a better idea of the true pecking order in today's world. Whereas FDR was a dictator in every sense of the word, my theory has always been that LBJ was the last in that line, or, as I called him, “the last tyrant”. Starting with Nixon, the presidents have been figureheads disguised as dictators, and in fact servants of higher powers, both domestically and on the international level. And Obama is no exception. He can defy Congress all he wants and get away with it, but he is in fact taking orders from others – people who are “above his pay grade”, to use his own terminology. And in fact, Congress is taking orders from those same others – when it's even worth the trouble of giving them orders, which is increasingly less necessary as their obsolescence becomes more total and more painfully obvious.

Rank Hypocrisy

“Hypocrisy is a sort of homage that vice pays to virtue.” So said Fran├žois de La Rochefoucauld. And this familiar saying has been no better illustrated of late than in the reaction of the Democratic Party to the Weiner affair. What no one – not even Republicans – seems willing to point out is that Weiner's escapades are not considered intrinsically wrong by Democrats/liberals -- no, not in the slightest. Tacky, maybe – a bit silly... but, really, just harmless fun. An expression of joi de vivre, of “healthy sexuality”. (I would have said “manliness”, but that has unfortunate political implications and is psychologically threatening to liberals of all genders.) So when Nancy Pelosi, in her usual namby-pamby way, starts oozing words like “with the love of his family, the confidence of his constituents and the need for help... Congressman Weiner should resign from the Congress” -- she's not talking about his welfare in the slightest, or that of his family or even his constituents. What's she's doing is trying to cover Democrat butt (including her own) in the next election. And of course, Obama has piled on as well, as have the media. The only party we haven't heard from is Weiner's wife, who is not only expecting but also works for Hillary Clinton – now there's a level of job conflict and stress that I haven't seen in years!

And, according to an AP article, “Weiner... has sought treatment at an undisclosed location...” Yeah, I'll bet. I don't think he's having a sit-down with an Evangelical “counselor” in order to gin up some contrition for his crimes against good taste. I doubt if he sees anything wrong with what he did either – it's just those hicks, ignoramuses, and “haters” out in flyover country that get up in arms about these things, and... not even his own constituents! They're totally chill about the whole thing. But those cowardly Democratic colleagues of his are afraid his antics are going to poison the well with some of their less-enlightened constituents. So because of what a bunch of knuckle-draggers out in the sticks might think, and how that might affect other Democrats (but not him!), he has to resign. There's just no justice.

The Republicans, at least, can look upon all of this with subdued glee, since they are a bit more likely to hold to the same standards of conduct as their constituents. I say “a bit more”, since the Republicans are a fallible lot, to be sure – but their hypocrisy is of a different sort. For them, it's more of a personal matter – preach one set of values, do something else on occasion, and when caught express more or less sincere contrition. But one never gets the impression that the Republicans are “Swedes ruling a nation of Indians” -- which is the impression the Democrats give every time. The Democrats truly despise many, if not most, of the people whom they are supposed to represent – a fact that should trouble the voters much more than it seems to. At least when Mr. & Mrs. Average American vote for the typical Republican, they are voting for someone who seems to share their core values, and who acts accordingly most of the time – whereas when they vote for a Democrat, they are voting for an opponent in the culture wars, who would like nothing more than to annihilate their values... and them as well, if need be.

Non-Neutral Newt

Newt Gingrich, whose presidential campaign is looking more quixotic every day (he's been reduced to calling up “Kelly Girls” to replace all the staffers who've bailed on him), has at least made one of the required pit stops on the campaign trail – namely a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition. (Yeah, there really is such an organization, believe it or not – they usually have meetings in a single booth at IHOP. But this gathering was in Beverly Hills – where else?) And no one waves the Israeli flag higher than a neocon Republican, no siree! Newt's talking point on this occasion was the real capital of Israel – like the average American gives a damn. According to the AP, “he pledged that if elected president, he would sign an executive order on his first day in office moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.” Well gee, Newt, why not just cut to the chase and declare war on the entire Islamic world – assuming there's anyone left we haven't already started a war with at that point. The problem in Israel is that both sides are equally fanatical. Israel is not the voice of reason it pretends to be, and if the Arabs were all that concerned about Palestinian refugees, they'd have resettled them across the Arab world decades ago rather than leaving them to rot in Gaza and those refugee camps. And of course, both sides claim they have “rights” -- they must have gotten that terminology from us. In the old days, no one worried about “rights” -- it was just that they wanted what they wanted. That was much more wholesome, straightforward, and mentally healthy than this non-stop, morbid obsession with "rights” -- the same obsession that has rendered our domestic political dialogue insipid and moribund.

But in any case, I call to your attention the fact that Newt's first stop on the campaign trail was to reassure Israel of our eternal, undying, and infinitely sacrificial support. This should give one pause when considering his qualifications for the presidency – or those of any other candidate who engages in similar kowtowing, which nearly all of them do.

A quote from his speech is also instructive: “Both Israel and America are at a dangerous crossroads at which the survival of Israel and the safety of the United States hang in the balance.” Well, he has a point – especially if by “the safety of the United States” he means our economic security. Israel could vanish from the Earth tomorrow, and it would not harm a hair on the head of any American (except maybe a few caught on one of Pat Robertson's “holy land tours”). But the price of our continued support for Israel is diplomatic isolation and economic doom – and I don't mean sometime in the future; the process is already underway. So Newt could just as readily be talking about the survival of the United States – but he doesn't want to take the reasoning quite that far, because the resulting conclusions would be just the opposite of the ones he wants to promote.

Well, I'm not overly worried about Newt. He has yet to shake off the tar and feathers the media graced him with back in the “Contract With America” days. The guy is, let's admit, very bright, but he has drunk so deeply of neocon Kool-Aid that he really thinks it makes a difference to the “safety” of the U.S. where Israel's capital is. This is delusional and dangerous – and it will be gratifying to see his campaign crash and burn, which it will eventually. Now if only we could make the same prediction about most of the others...

The Ultimate "Bale-Out"

The war in Iraq has been a non-stop hemorrhage since Day One, and now it turns out that it was an even greater hemorrhage than anyone thought. Among the many brilliant measures undertaken by the Bush administration was the shipment of, literally, bales of $100 bills – in C-130 cargo planes – to Iraq in order to pay bribes... er, I mean, provide “walking-around money” for our collaborators... er, I mean, to rebuild the infrastructure that we had just destroyed... er, I mean... oh, the hell with it! Suffice it to say that we shipped enough long green over to Iraq to rebuild Detroit from the ground up... and it was subsequently used for... well, actually, no one knows. Now it seems that it was “possibly stolen” -- which is kind of like saying that a BMW parked in East L.A., unlocked, with the keys in the ignition, was “possibly stolen”. So, “the biggest international cash airlift of all time” -- at least since the Shah fled Iran – simply disappeared into the Black Hole of Baghdad, without a trace. And thus the biggest-ever cash airlift became “the largest theft of funds in national history”. (The L.A. Times article doesn't say which nation is being referred to – the U.S. or Iraq. But it hardly matters.)

Now, it would be easy to get outraged by all this, but remember, we're only talking about $6.6 billion here – mere chump change compared to the total cost of the war, which is hundreds of times that and still counting. And I can make an argument that every cent of that was stolen as well -- from the American economy and from the taxpayers. Plus, what I actually suspect is that it was put to better use than it would have been if we'd somehow managed to hold onto it. I mean... who knows, it might have wound up paying for food, or housing, or medical supplies. Oh, I guess it could also have gone for “weapons of mass destruction”, but at least it was (presumably) stolen and then spent by Iraqis, i.e. the people whose country we invaded. So there is a bit of justice in all of this. We invade, and then ship tons of (increasingly-worthless) currency over there to pay for what we destroyed? That in itself is unprecedented in human history – at least up until the Marshall Plan. As usual, we always manage to snatch economic defeat from the jaws of military victory.

And speaking of Iraq and money, how do you like that proposal by Rep. Data Rohrabacher that Iraq pay us back for the expenses of having invaded and occupied their country? Wow – this puts a whole new spin on the reparations issue. Now all of a sudden an economy that is, basically, in the toilet is supposed to not only come back to life (assuming it ever had life) but become so prosperous that it's able to pay us back for all of our exertions over there – none of which any of them asked for or desired? OK, so... let me get out my pocket calculator here. Even if Iraq should someday start running in the black (highly unlikely) it would take... let's see... slightly over 10,000 years for them to repay the “debt” that Rep. Rohrabacher seems to think they owe us. (That's assuming that we withdraw all troops and other personnel immediately and forget that Iraq ever existed.) Well, fortunately, the Iraqis aren't falling for it. They don't feel that they owe us a thing, in fact! No guilt, no contrition! They steal bales of our $100 bills with impunity, in fact – as noted above. And they dare to fuss and complain about a still-destroyed infrastructure and hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded civilians. Sheesh – it's enough to make you want to throw them out of the American Empire. Well, almost enough – but they are charter members now, and I guess we have to keep putting up with their griping.

And I guess I shouldn't be too hard on Rep. Rohrabacher. After all, he did condition his recommendation on the condition of “once Iraq becomes a rich and prosperous country” -- which any idiot can tell is never going to happen. So maybe it was just some fantastic joke... except that a few Iraqi politicians took it seriously anyway.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

17 Months to... Not Much

I have a terrible record when it comes to predicting outcomes of presidential elections, I admit it. Back in 2004, I said that Bush would not be re-elected unless we were out of Iraq and Afghanistan by Election Day. But he was saved by John Kerry's “Hanoi Jane”-type vibes, and the wars went on. Then I predicted that the 2008 election would pit (and I use the word advisedly) Rudy Giuliani against Hillary Clinton, and that she would win – but then Rudy had his meltdown in the Republican debates when he started foaming at the mouth in response to something Ron Paul said (which was extremely true, by the way) – and Hillary couldn't quite get over the sleaze factor she had inherited from her husband's administration (and which was used to great effect by the Obama team, I might add). Plus, Hillary definitely had a kind of “yesterday's papers”, shopworn vibe, whereas Obama was presented as The One Who Is To Come – an image which has, remarkably, stuck with him through thick and thin ever since.

Now we are presented with the prospect – many months ahead of the event – of Obama seeking a second term against a yet-to-be-named Republican... and the mad scramble for the Republican nomination seems somewhat tepid so far. Many of the bright lights (and some dim ones) among the Republicans have already opted out, but others have entered the fray, and many more threaten to... and conventional wisdom has Romney as the man to beat, despite his highly mixed record. And the Republicans do have one solitary “rock star”, namely Sarah Palin, who – it seems to me – is even more unelectable now than she was in 2008. There is certainly nothing to find fault with in her raw courage and chutzpah – but Americans have, time and time again, shown a preference for the more conventional, predictable politicians who happen to have a massive political machine behind them... not to mention oodles of money (their own or other people's). So I think we can safely put Palin in the "novelty" column -- you know, "interesting" but not fit for a steady diet.

But really, why are we even having this discussion? Because as I've tried to explain on this blog, it doesn't matter a whit who is president, since whoever is allowed within hailing distance of the Oval Office has already been thoroughly vetted by the powers that be, AKA the Regime, and anyone who occupies that office has, you may be certain, already signed up to be their trusted servant and slave for the duration of their term(s). This is something you can count on, as surely as night follows day... and yet it is amusing, at times, to dip into the fetid political pool and indulge in speculation.

In fact, I'm not even going to adopt the standard Republican line that Obama has had long enough to establish his own record on the issues that count – war, social policy, the debt, and so on. He really did inherit a hell of a mess from Bush & Co., and I honestly don't think it's fair to expect him to have cleaned it all up in 2½ short years. On the other hand, one feels that he could have done something – anything – rather than just show himself to be nothing more than “Bush in blackface” when it comes to foreign policy... and rather than impose a socialist juggernaut on our domestic affairs. But even that socialistic – or I would rather say fascistic – array of programs and policies was inherited, in the main, from Bush and his predecessors – all the way back to the New Deal and beyond, if you want to get technical. Many commentators will, in fact, contend that “it all started with Wilson” -- but an argument can also be made for Theodore Roosevelt, and even for Lincoln. So one can fault Obama for not deviating in the slightest from the historical trajectory, and that makes it hard to seriously consider him “radical”. Even ObamaCare, which is, at best, too much/too soon, is hardly a new idea – its precursors go all the way back to the Progressives of 100 years ago. And the main thing about Obama – the thing he is often faulted for – is his “cool aloofness”, but that may turn out to be a decisive strength in the months to come. OK, it's true that he loses control of his bodily functions whenever confronted by Israel, but what president doesn't? So you can count that as a non-factor (not to mention a good way to derail the exertions of the Evangelicals). And as I survey the faces being bandied about by the Republicans, I have to ask – could any of them do any better? Would they even want to, or be capable of doing so if they did? And the answer has to be no, with the usual exception of Ron Paul, who doesn't stand a chance because he represents a small fringe group that actually holds the Constitution in esteem. And who needs a silly old Constitution in this day and age? It's time to move on toward that gleaming, shimmering socialist horizon that has tempted so many before Obama and will continue to tempt politicians (and voters) until the entire system comes crashing down.

So when it comes to the election, the question is not who will be the “anti-Obama”, since there is no such creature who can realistically attain to the office. And why settle for “Obama Lite” when you can have the real thing? His base -- his political core -- remains intact... he had the media on his side... and he continues to wave the bloody shirt that is said to be our only legacy from the Bush years. We have, as a people, not lost our faith in government, or in collectivism, socialism, what have you – despite all the buffeting we have suffered of late. The government creates a crisis, then promises that it will pull us out of it – that, in fact, it is the only hope we have. There is not one current woe afflicting us that the government did not have something to do with – but the prospects for an Anti-Government Party are like unto nonexistent; the very idea is a contradiction in terms, as can be readily seen. So libertarians will continue along their radical and win-proof track, as will paleoconservatives; the system allows these groups to stay above ground precisely because they are _not_ a threat. The only real threat I can imagine would be if the American Catholic Church really got serious about politics – but its representatives are as divided as anyone else on questions like immigration, social welfare, social policy, etc. Plus, the minute the American Catholic Church got serious about politics, that hanging sword called “taxation” would begin to descend, and all but the most bold (and non-materialistic) would retire from the field. And just try preaching about “just war” these days – you get laughed out of town by the neocons and their media facilitators. Plus, the political establishment thinks they have the Catholic Church on the ropes because of the “pedophile priest” scandals... and they are very smug and self-assured about it. There is no finer way to disarm a person with a cause than to show that “they're no better” -- this is a mainstay of the American political mindset, and nothing that I can imagine is going to change it.

No, you have to understand that, despite a few missteps here and there – like arguing with the Israelis – the Obama administration continues on its safe, secure, very establishment path of serving its masters on Wall Street and in the international global financial cartel, for whom “social change” is just one small tool in a very large tool box. They don't care about our deficit, or our debt, or about our unwinnable wars, or anything else that we consider a “big ... deal”, to quote Joe Biden. To them, these are just added opportunities to increase their stranglehold on our economy and on our life as a nation and a culture. Just as “paying taxes is for little people”, so is voting... and so is thinking that it matters who's president, and which party is “in power”. Because in our time, no one who is elected is ever “in power” -- they just become tools of a much larger entity that really is in power, but that consists of people who were never elected to anything.

So, bottom line (at this point) – no Democrat is going to unseat Obama in the primaries; that's just crazy talk. Oh, some old-time “peaceniks” might try, but they'll go the way of Gene McCarthy. And it doesn't matter who the Republicans put forth as the sacrificial lamb du jour, Obama is going to win re-election in 2012. There, I've said it. Barring a real catastrophe... something truly earth-shaking... that's the way it's going to be. My previous prediction that Obama would become Jimmy Carter the Second hasn't quite panned out. Apparently Carter wasn't a good enough galley slave, so he had to go. Who knows, it might even be because he turned out to have some principles. It matters not. Obama is – and I know, this is very impolite – in the position of that old-time sleeping car porter with the big, gleaming smile and “Yassuh, Boss!” always on his lips. The only thing is, we don't really know who the boss is; the only thing we know for sure is that it isn't us.