Sunday, November 30, 2008

It's Official

Want to know how I knew Hillary Clinton was going to be Secretary of State? Simple. Neither she nor her Big Dog talked to the press for, like, weeks while their misshapen hunchbacks were out robbing graves and urgently wiring all the available electricity down into transducers until it was sucked up and they shouted, "It's a-live, it's alive, it's aliiiiivvve!"

The background is complicated, in an Eyes Wide Shut kind of way. Barack Obama offered the Secretary of Herbal Teas & Bombing to Hillary Clinton, and we early and dutifully passed that information along. But there was a catch, a huge Catch-22, and that's some catch. Her husband Bill has been flying around the globe promoting his Clintonian Global Initiative for the last 8 years on a free-range combination of "Feed the World" and "Air F*** One." So the deal was, he had to turn over the names of 200,000+ foundation donors to the Obama drill-masters, and that's what all the waiting was about.

The salutatorian of my high school got mononucleosis around Christmas, so he had to stay home for a few months, and he wasn't valedictorian because the typing teacher only gave him a B+. I had to listen to him bitch about it for 4 months of my senior year after my stepfather told me he wouldn't pay for Yale or Harvard, not a dime, not even on scholarship. I know what sucks. Even so, it must not have been easy for Bill to knuckle under Arkansas-style.

I can commiserate, but my imagined intern-job (which didn't exist at the time, not until now) would've been having the internet, a sexy librarian, and a modest travel budget to go through that list of Bill's donors. Now, anytime Hillary Clinton even thinks about going off the farm I could just browse through the donor list and construct an email titled, for example: "The New York Times: Adolescent Girls Recall Orgy, Fundraising Event In Azerbaijan With Former US President."

Bill is still tasked with foreign affairs. Hillary is tasked with a rain-delayed dance in Palestine. Game's on.

Clinton Decides to Accept Post at State Dept., Confidants Say

The Grandest Novel

Opening paragraph to The Odyssey:
This is a story about a man, one who was never at a loss. He had travelled far in the world, after the sack of Troy, the virgin fortress; he saw many cities of men, and learnt their mind; he endured many troubles and hardships in the struggle to save his own life and to bring back his men safe to their homes. He did his best, but he could not save his companions. For they perished by their own madness, because they killed and ate the cattle of Hyperion the Sun-God, and the god took care that they should never see home again.

Four Year-Old Existentialism, Part I

The animated children's movie 'Ice Age' features Manny, a lonely mammoth. It becomes clear Manny has lost his mate and baby to human hunters, and it is implied his species faces extinction. This prompted a discussion, in which Lord Running Boy asked:

"Daddy, if mammoths could talk, would they still went ex-stink?"

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Where Would You Want To Be Homeless?

It would be right across the street from Lord Running Boy's co-op school, and that's where the Nickelsville, named for Seattle's smooth-jazz mayor Greg Nickels, moved to a month or so back. The church which rents out space to the school turned over its profitable pay-parking lot to homeless activists in a perceived emergency. We parents weren't consulted, and some furies ensued. A part of our children's tuition now goes to feed them, in addition to the usual food bank crowd. The teachers are all about anti-fascism and anti-bias, so that first week they naturally took the kids over on a conga line to meet the pastel pink and blue tent-residers in the parking lot. Lord Running Boy's recorded quote: "They're not aliens!"Link

Many parents were tousled, tempests brewed in teapots, a homeless person was hit by a mini-van, and we expressed our support for the actions of the church and the school. It's not over by a long shot, the legal tussles between the church, city, tent-dwellers and parents might be going on for years. We'll have to deal with more of this, I said, so doctor my eyes, and tell me what you see. I hope you administer humanely. We're thankful our bias-free boy has met the homeless, for they might be us, we might be them, and hope they're not us. Awhile back I drafted a still-born post about it called Depression 2.0, but Still Life Living cooked a better, unflinchingly honest and more current post about what's up:
I regularly talk with my colleagues in a rational manner about what happens if the bailouts fail, where I want to be homeless. Then I point out all the people who are on the front line of our current wave of the melt down.

One wacky friend of mine has made the conscious decision to live out of his car.

Another friend has a University of Chicago MBA who owns his own small business and employs 15 people. He is diligently trying to rescue his business. Mail order sales of plants are off by 90%, but he can't draw on his good credit and he doesn't qualify for a bailout. So some of those families who depend on him will probably end up moving in with relatives or be forced to brainstorm.

As for me, I work in the glass towers of Los Angeles. And it is happening here too. My son’s friend’s father just lost his fancy job at a national law firm because the work is slowing. He is safe until December when he loses his alimony from the guild -- at which point he, his wife, and three kids have to scramble to land a $150,000+ per year job. It is getting harder even for the well educated to get jobs, at least jobs that pay enough to cover the mortgage, insurance, car, and food. With the slowdown, the experts say those good jobs will come back, but it may take three or four years. There is, of course, the chance unless they might be outsourced altogether, in which case they are never coming back. But my son's friend's parents and siblings will be okay, they have family back east.

An artist friend is designing very beautiful, colorful signs saying "Will Work 4 Food". She is betting that people will want to distinguish themselves from the increased competition. I really liked her art-nouveau one. They are really cool. I bought it to give as a christmas present to my friend who is sleeping in his car, but I have reconsidered and will probably just keep it myself. I mean it is really cool.

My company is filled with professional financial analysts and professional economists. No one is talking about the meltdown beyond the superficial, so either they don’t think it is a big thing, or it is too big for them to get their heads around.

The best person I have to talk about this with is my 8-year-old daughter. She has a Kit Kittridge American Girl Doll from 1934. My daughter loved the movie. She has seen a Hollywood-version of a Hoover Camp. She sees the homeless people around, and she can see them as real people because of that movie. She understands that if this magic thing called society contracts, we may be forced to think outside the box and eat in communal soup kitchens. I mean in a worst-case scenario. I don't think she thinks it could ever happen, and I hope she is right.

Nevertheless, I think we should downshift for a depression, grow our own gardens, car pool, eat less and more healthily (saves on doctors visits) — but at the same time work like hell to take democratic control of our shareholder responsibilities in society. I mean, if we are really good, maybe Halliburton will come solve this mess for us. Not in my American Dream. I’m going to have to do it, hopefully with you.

Strange story: a business that is struggling and has not done anything wrong can't get help, but the greedy trip over themselves to get a handout. Today in the WSJ, I see that insurance companies are buying banks so they can get bailed out. I didn't realize how much more surreal it could get than George W Bush, war president.

I take snap-shots of the children, dancing in a parking lot that's filled with tents of light. I yell at them to be careful, but I see nothing in front of me, nothing to the sides, nothing behind, and the old king is dead. Long live the king. A wild and rainy wind is blowing, and I'm not going to judge your cigarettes, the smells, or the drugs. Come on, tell me your stories, show me your scars, and return my son's hellos.

Blind Man's Bluff

I don't know what's going to happen to the stock or financial markets, only that when they go up, they're more likely to go up, vice-versa, and they have short-term and long-term reactions to central policy.

The Soros concept of reflexivity posits that because of human psychology, metric trendlines begin to self-amplify, and the more they diverge from the mean, the more they behave as a dominant fundamental factor. Any trader knows this intrinsically ("the Trend is your Friend"), but as a proof to his theorem, the only reason I've worked up enough courage to write this post is the Dow has closed up for three straight sessions for the first time since August of this year.

Above is a chart comparing stock market performance of the Dot Com Crash of 2000, the Oil Shock of '73, the Great Crash of '29, and the Cluster**** to the Poorhouse of '08. As far as they go, the angles of declension look remarkably similar.

Comrade Secretary Paulson changes his mind every two days over half a trillion dollars here or there, and because going to face a snarky Congress again would involve travel and thus increase his exposure to sniper fire, he just flat-out walked down some marble steps today and announced we're on the hook for another $600 billion, for a total of $4.3 Trillion and counting. There's ample evidence that I, most any accountant, a housewife who runs a business or a teenager who keeps an accurate checkbook has as good a chance at fixing the economy.

The people who are supposed to know, they don't know. The people in the driver's seat, they suck at driving. The people who are respected, they're playing Pin the Tail on the Orifice. So I'll just note this. There is no structural difference from the stock (and bond) market from that of 2000. The share of financial services as a percentage went up slightly, yes, but the markets were as leveraged in 2000 as now, hedge funds ran as rampant, derivatives were as reliant on the stressed individual blocks at the bottom of the inverted pyramid. And the dot-com sector is much more established and profitable.

To re-leverage these markets means stabilizing their base. That's much cheaper to do than directly stabilizing the arcane instruments on top, an extraordinarily complex, unprecedented if not impossible task. The $600 new billion that Paulson declared as spent today to guarantee all those casino chips would, if wedged into the bottom instead, back-stop all the troubled mortgages. It would in turn stimulate commodity & food spending and greatly increase the share of auto loans and credit cards paid. Maybe, just maybe, someone important will notice.

The Wit And Wisdom Of Rahm Emanuel

I hate Rahm Emanuel. I hate him for being a shitty DCCC chair, for battling with Howard Dean over the 50-state strategy, for doing everything possible to undermine the winning strategy, then for taking credit when it worked. I hate him for running Bush-sympathizing 'Blue Dog Democrats' in red districts in 2006, and I hate him for being a smirking phoney smarm. He is rumored to hold an Israeli passport, to have volunteered for the IDF during Desert Storm, he is a Zionist and passes out Uzis to Jewish gangstas, "The Isros," in synagogues all over Chicago's north side. My mildest reaction to him as Obama's chief of staff was "Blerrrchh!"

But then I thought, "What would Saul Alinsky do? What would a community terrorist who has improbably seized power next do?" Get himself an enforcer. A Laurenti Beria, Luca Brazzi, knock-on-the-door-in-the-night Bad Cop. My hunch is it was in part a "keep your enemies closer" move. By naming Emanuel, Obama fulfilled Chicago political machine payback in perpetuity and also removed a major, ongoing congressional pain in the ass, one which is now condemned to schedule meetings and incessantly listen to people bitch and whine about how they absolutely must see the President. Music, sweet music.

Is it any wonder Rahmbo didn't immediately accept the post? He's done it before, and knows it often requires arriving 5AM and leaving 9PM. Plus, it messes with his ambition to be Speaker of the House, so he only committed 2 years to the job from hell. A placeholder will take his congressional seat, but things aren't always predictable on that watch. Especially now. The shit that's being aerosolized will not have settled back down upon the turnip field a short two years from now.

So Obama has a (preferably hypoallergenic) pit bull for CoS, and past holders of that slot like Dick Cheney and John Sununu were noted for startling levels of unapologetic rudeness. You don't need to trust the holder of the post to be nice, you need smarts, stamina, effectiveness, and quick answers to your reins. Obama trusts his combat team: Axelrod, Plouffe, Valerie Jarrett, and his wife. Not the Merchant of Hyde Park, who will henceforth be Axelrod's responsibility. Emanuel scares the ever-living shit out of the Reich Wing, and he's as bipartisan as a broken nose. (See the cancelled SNL sketch above.) Politics is his blood sport. This is a good thing, if your President backs off from it.

Here's another Rahmbo angle: I suspect Obama will throw deep right away on the Palestine-Israel issue as a way to open up the options, because progress there, or the convincing illusion of it, makes everything else easier in the Mid-East. Emaneul knows how to work with the Clintons, is an intimate who maintained his neutrality, which pushes a few jigsaws together with Hillary as SecState. Baggage or no, the Clintons have mondo stature on the archway issue that's screwing the entire world up. They're the most recent people to make any headway on reconciliation and recognition, exact roboratives needed to free the Mid-East oxen from the desperate mire.

Obama is going after Israel, and it will be leaned on hard, with all the remaining US leverage available. Right where it should've been placed for the last decade and more. It may be too damned late, as Israel is busy sucking up to Russia with all possible speed, but having Rahm as CoS is like establishing an open channel to Tel Aviv. He will communicate what's doable, what's not, and he'll be believed.

For everything else domestic, he'll be diabolically effective, and will use his time in the White Cabin to gather power, not burn bridges.
Aaron Sorkin's scheming character on the West Wing, Josh Lyman, is supposedly based on Emanuel's three-ring performances with the Clintons. Which, if true, means he gives a shit about liberal causes. And as for the rest, I'll take Machiavellian over Vaudevillian any day.

(Note: this post was originally written on November 8th, so the Clinton appointment and SNL sketch were added.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

"As God As My Witness, I Thought Turkeys Could Fly"

Keith Olbermann grokked to the Sarah Palin turkey rendering interview on his show tonight, and used a clip from the great old WKRP in Cincinnati "Turkey Drop" classic. Here is Les Nessman reporting the original, live.

Psyche's News Roundup

What "Effective Governance" Looks Like
McClatchy Washington Bureau | 11/24/2008 | Obama's unusual transition: Already a co-president
Study: Many Obama Small Donors Really Weren’t - The Caucus Blog - (because we kept giving)

Donklephant » Blog Archive » Supreme Court To Review Obama’s Citizenship (Clarence Thomas)
Jesus' General: Mike Huckabee: The Smiling Happy Face of Theocratic Fascism
My Left Nutmeg:: Joe The Paskudnyak* (Lieberman)

Big Budget Events - Slideshows -
RIA Novosti - World - Russian analyst predicts decline and breakup of U.S.
Balloon Juice: Gotta Love It: New Republic is the Michael O’Hanlon of magazines- usually wrong, always loud, and for reasons no one can really explain, looked upon as if they know something.

Fed Has Giant and Opaque Role in Financial Crisis Aid (Opaque...the new transparency)
Citigroup Bailout: Feds Offer Massive Rescue Package To Financial Giant (M-effer of all bailouts) Exclusive-Fed Pledges Top $7.4 Trillion to Ease Frozen Credit

A Reporter at Large: Anatomy of a Meltdown: The New Yorker: Ben Bernanke and the financial crisis.
YouTube - Peter Schiff
Eschaton: Deep Thought: I'm so old I can remember when spending $8 billion to give more health care to kids would spook the bond markets so badly that it just couldn't be done.

US seeks 300 billion dlrs from Gulf states: report
America’s Debt to Income Ratio as Compared with Other Countries
The Corruption of Economics (Henry George and Neo-Classical Economics (NCE)) (see above)

We must plan a survival strategy for our species - Short Sharp Science - New Scientist
BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Arctic ice is melting faster than computer models of climate calculate
Score: Romantics, 1 - Cynics, 0 | Science Blog (long-term passionate love stimulates same area as cocaine)

You Might Be A Sex Offender If... Once Fallen
Are Men Boring?
White extremists lash out over election of first black president - Los Angeles Times

Pranking Pride - The Biggest Pranks in Geek History - TIME
Beauty Is Truth In Mathematical Intuition: First Empirical Evidence
The Happiness Gene -Is it Inherited?

Nature Best Photography of 2007 - Euphoria Magazine

Frozen Scandal

Scandal is our growth industry. Revelation of wrongdoing leads not to definitive investigation, punishment, and expiation but to more scandal. Permanent scandal. Frozen scandal. The weapons of mass destruction that turned out not to exist. The torture of detainees who remain forever detained. The firing of prosecutors which is forever investigated. These and other frozen scandals metastasize, ramify, self-replicate, clogging the cable news shows and the blogosphere and the bookstores. The titillating story that never ends, the pundit gabfest that never ceases, the gift that never stops giving: what is indestructible, irresolvable, unexpiatable is too valuable not to be made into a source of profit. Scandal, unpurged and unresolved, transcends political reality to become commercial fact.

Frozen Scandal - The New York Review of Books.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Obama Calls Off Cold War, The Left Fights Over Decor

I'm a guillotine-sharpening skeptic, so have shared in the Left's discomfort at many Obama cabinet choices, especially over the more experienced hands within the Democratic Party. That group, as a group, are either Undead or in need of CPT (cattle prod therapy). But c'mon, what was the Left expecting, Robert Reich for Treasury? Bono for State? On top of the need for power calculus, there has only been one Democratic regime here in the past 28 years, so the menu of experienced choices is prix fixe. If you want organic at this restaurant, you have to raise it yourself.

Even so, when Obama named Rahm Emanuel to be his chief of staff, for example, I asked myself, "Why go through the Deputy Chief of their North American Station? Why not just give your intel to the Mossad directly?" While holding my nose, the angles started to sink in on the choice of Rahmbo for CoS, despite his being the world's only ultra-Zionist ballet dancer (aside from my actual reasons for hating him). But more on these and other oddities in the Cast of Thousands later.

While the Presstitutes and the blogsphere are slathering attention on the staffing, the key to reading Obama is how he sets the framework. That's his M.O., one he became renowned for when he was President of the Harvard Law Review, a signature leadership quality worth serious attention. As you might guess, the students on that Law Review are the most vociferous, ambitious, entitled, competitive people on earth, but they began to appreciate Obama because he could tease out the best from their opposing agendas. In short, because he was more disciplined, open-minded, and rigorous than them. They even began to imitate his moderations in wider social settings, like when going to a movie. Obama Voice: "Do you want butter on that popcorn? Or are you really certain...that you want popcorn at all?" Notice the framework-wrassling in that impression: questioning the basis of reflexive orthodoxies.

A wise person mentioned that Obama "has one chance to negotiate the change in foreign policy direction, with both hands tied behind his back." True, very true, but I wanted to respond in a post, because something of great and hopefully lasting import has already happened. Houdini kept the handcuffs and straightjacket on while they marched him to the water tank only because he'd previously created enough wiggle room to get out.
Houdini was all about Framework Control, and Obama's M.O. hasn't changed. The week after his election, he stated any bilateral agreement on the status of U.S. forces in Iraq will have to either be run through Congress, or be deferred for the new administration so it can "negotiate an agreement that has bipartisan support here at home and makes absolutely clear that the U.S. will not maintain permanent bases in Iraq.”

Sounds pretty well-framed to me, but what are the implications--the height, width, and border of that statement? It conveys a not-very-veiled threat to the Bush Administration and its servants to ignore him at their peril. They will pay dearly if they dig a deeper hole, and Bush can't issue pre-emptive pardons. He's also re-limiting Executive powers with words, with nothing more than the force of rhetoric, explicitly declaring the entire Neocon Mid-East hegemonic vision ruined. He has no legal authority, yet Bush, the think-tankers, the minions and even Cheney have taken him at his word so far. And immediately after the above statement a preponderance of Neocons publicly jumped ship.

Why has no analyst, left or right, noticed this: the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution is kaput.
One of the first things Obama did was cleave its head in two. No fun new wars with Syria or Iran, no plenary powers bullshit, no grounded undercover Seals pointing lasers and running insurgents, nothing without approval by two-thirds of the Senate. By pulling the plug on permanent bases in Iraq, Obama has switched off a looming Cold War II.

Factor in with the huge coup that's taken place in Congress, with tree-hugger Waxman replacing car-hugger Dingell for the most powerful chairmanship in Congress (Energy Chair), and you've got some clues to the coming agenda and its speed. America's perpetual war powers footing is based on energy paranoia. Energy is the crowbar to change the old framework. There's a lot of plaster around the Old Master, and it is being smashed. You'd think the Left might allow themselves a happy dance or two.

Raisin' Some Hell For 2012

Video #1 is a strange paen to Sarah Palin by a PAC called "Ethnic Cleansing for America." (Ok, just kidding. Sort of.)

In video #2, we have the Palinator doing a folksy, quite charming interview in front of a slaughterhouse for turkeys, in which turkeys...are being slaughtered...right behind her. A special touch when the turkey farmer, while draining out their blood, stares vacantly at the camera.

I'm sure you've seen these through your various real or fake nooz outlets, but I just need to embed these for posterity, and note that once upon a time, people, even Americans, would look at themselves and say, "Whoa, I can't put that on teevee because it'd look like, ahh, I'm an ignominious twit."

Also, I wish noticed that Presidential hopeful Mike Hukabee, the republican governor of the Land o' Goshen, already kicked off his 2012 campaign in Iowa.

Friday, November 21, 2008

You Say You Want A (Green) Revolution...

via the always thought-provoking Still Life Living:
You say you want a (green) revolution,
Well, you know,
We all want to keep our kids from frying under a magnifying glass like ants,
You tell me that we need a solution,
Well, you know,
We all want to live sustainably.
But when you talk about reducing my consumption,
Don't you know that you can count all those other people out.
Do you know it's going to be all right?
all right? all right?

With apologies to Sir James Paul McCartney, KBE (Knight Commander of the British Empire).

According to David Eisenberg of the Development Center for Appropriate Technology, if every man, woman and child alive today consumed at the average resource footprint level of Americans, we would need eight (8, VIII, 0001000) replicant planet earths to be sustainable. If, on the other hand, we take our current 7 or 8 billion brothers and sisters and try to establish sustainability goals for this blue-green ball called Earth, something’s gotta give. Population? Consumption? Equality? Biology? Rationality? While we may be Free to Choose, is it ethical to choose?

Quaker Ben told me once that he thought the world would evolve into either East Germany of the 1980s or the Rio de Janeiro of today.

Is that really our choice? Total information awareness, democratic fascism, or libertine laissiez-faire corporate colonialism where street urchins are hunted for sport?

Personally, I think it comes down to two choices: Arbeit Macht Frei versus The Truth Shall Set You Free.
You say you'll change a constitution
Well, you know
We'd all love to change your head.
You tell me it's the institution,
Well, you know
You better free your mind instead.

My advice is to start to "Practice Sustainable Sex".

Super-Spies Agree: United States To Surrender Control Of World

The National Intelligence Council (i.e., all above-ground government spooks) issued a report today predicting how the world would look by 2025 (AP/AFP/BBC/WaPo). I find these exercises entertaining, but you needn't bother reading a fairly standard novocaine-laced acronym-strewn litany of bureaucratically paranoid woe telling us what we already know.

The good: the world, apparently, will still have people left on it to fight each other. The bad: the US will not have enslaved everyone in McFreedom Fry Camps and make them keep buying plastic-electric thingies or else undergo the re-application of microwave blasters. The folks paid $100 billion or so per year to think about Complicated International Shit foresee more resource wars, a strong possibility of dramatic climate change, global instability (as in, umm, war), more WMD use by the bad people, and China will of course kill us all, perhaps after joining up with India, which will then be killed, too, after totally running out of water and starting to die on its own.

The US share of global production at the end of WWII was 75-80%. Not much way to go but down after that, and when it became obvious the world would be multi-polar (at the fall of the Soviet Union, circa 1990), we could have started using a temporary windfall of pre-eminence to craft treaties, international standards, alliances, back-room deals, and legal language which would grant a most-favored status, both economically and culturally, to the US for 50+ years. If you've ever watched Star Trek, you will have noticed that they speak English in space.

Instead, the power structure here tizzed out, ignored the real opportunity and over-reached in the worst possible way. It truly sucked to watch them do this, and know. The Project for a New American Century (PNAC) surmised it could leverage a temporary military technology advantage (or in their inflationary terms, a Military Revolution) into a hegemony set in re-bar. If India or China got out of line, we could simply step on a pipeline or two and cut off their blood. Amongst the many things the PNAC crowd, which is to say Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and their coterie failed to notice was that the real military revolution was occurring not with lasers shooting from the sky, but with citizen-soldiers (a.k.a. terrorists) using prepared positions, cheap explosives, sophisticated evasion/cohesion, and disposable cell phones.

The United States, in all likelihood, will be one nation amongst many. An ideology of exceptionalism will have trouble clutching up to that world, but there is reason to think it can happen. Other nations, as they've matured, have done it. I mean, look at Germany. And of my god, the Japanese, the Swiss. You will find few nations with a more innate, quiescent sense of superiority than the French, but they live rather peaceably these days, secure in the knowledge they're living better than anyone else. I can imagine far worse outcomes for my nation of birth and conscious choice, and am reconciled to the fact that the refrigerator in our kitchen was built to the standards of the European Union.

(Formerly) Ludlum Elementary Is In The Tank

Barack Obama doesn't have to wait until he's retired, has Alzheimer's, or even takes the Presidential Oath to get something large named for him. I'd take this over an aircraft carrier any day:

A New York elementary school has been re-named in honor of President-elect Barack Obama. Ludlum Elementary School in Long Island's Hempstead Union Free School District was re-named at a board meeting Thursday, at the request of numerous school students.

"Just to watch these kids after the board voted on what they asked them to do, they were so elated," school district superintendent Dr. Joseph Laria told ABC News. "You want to talk about "Yes we can!"? That was a lesson in democracy."

Effective immediately, Ludlum will now be known as Barack Obama Elementary School, following a decision by the board to adopt the resolution drafted by students and staff.

It Is In The "We"

I came across a heady blogger via Naj at Iran Facts, she who keeps me on my toes and has provided me with many delightful, intelligent windows on her former country. (Which has become the country I'd most like to visit.) The site is called Sidewalk Lyrics, run by a "Pedestrian" who has walked down some penetrating pre- and post-election observations conveying the fun-house political mirrors which reflect between the United States and Iran.

The images come back distorted in some ways, but we both have suffered greatly from our Fundies and their collective powers in exorcising democracy. They have their progressives and conservatives just like us, and although the garb may differ, the dynamic is much the same.
One token among many of fellow traveler-hood: hardly anyone in the US realizes that Iran is a constitutional democracy, and conducts elections from its city councils on up.

I've excerpted Pedestrian's post below, but if you have an interest in understanding our Enemy of the Month, Sidewalk Lyrics looks to be an excellent resource.

Mohammad Khatami

Barack Obama

...there are times in a people’s history where physical laws of time and space no longer apply. There are times when the collective wisdom of a people seems to rise above what it was just days or even hours before. There are times when we decide as a nation that we will hope, we will want, we will attempt to do things differently.

HOPE is such a powerful thing. and I find that despite the fear and chaos on which this world is built, despite the greed and conceit that keeps it going, it is exactly these rare, unlikely moments that really keep us not just living, but alive. It is these moments that remind us of our humanity, our humility and of all that could be possible.


This vote was not for a person, but a path.

I put my vote in the box, not because I like Khatami, not because I want another mullah as my president, but just for the simple reason that no matter how small and impossible this dream may be, even though I can’t see how or why it may happen, I can hope and pray that now, my country’s freedom will not - as some claim - have to wait for guns and grenades.

Maybe — just maybe — this time around, the ballot box will be enough.”

But what I realize now is that my one vote wasn’t enough. It is not the day of the elections, but the day after that makes all the difference. Political systems all around the world are built on mass manipulation and mass deceit and we can not expect them to function any other way. We are wrong and naïve to even hope that they will function any other way. We can not expect one man to alter a system that is as old as time itself and as powerful.

In fact, it is not in that one man that our hope should lie – but the collective wisdom we have been able to achieve as people. That is what we forget the day after the elections, and that has been our greatest defeat every single time.

It is not in he that change will come; but in the we.

Read the rest.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Welcoming The Otter

He was born at 6:14 this morning like an incoming 8-pound, 20-inch artillery round, one so polite and mild he decided to not explode, but even so he's set everything in flux, the flux which hypnotizes us. The elements imitate, mutate, and repeat each other, muttering their memes into the kaleidoscope of genes, as if that's enough.

We had already guessed how different he is from our first, and now we know. Yes, he is what came from us, from our parents and grandparents and they from theirs all the way back through. We inherited recessive codes of melanin, dominant eye colors, crenelations in our brains, curves in our eyebrows and our bones. The outcomes are infinite. But as a father, I know we inherit far more than that. We inherit culture, we inherit prejudices, we receive affinities, proclivities, morals, and bad habits, and everything organic about us swims in the swirling thickness of the past.

Into this realm drop the souls who want to visit or need to come back again through the wells of forgetfulness into these bodies. They decide to arrive vulnerable and as resplendent blood-drenched treasures, their umbilical cords shining like strings of pearls. We don't control them, they choose us because they think we can help them, and we can only extend the best welcome to this husk.

Honestly, I don't know how it works. Maybe they choose us, or maybe they're drafted, and I might just fall apart trying to hold this in my heart. All I know is that we, the antecedents, will do our utmost. This new boy is everything we ever were, plus himself.

Monday, November 17, 2008

About Time: A First Step In Banning Depleted Uranium Munitions

There are mounting suspicions in the medical community that prolonged exposure to stews of pollutants and toxins are driving up rates of maladies from autism to diabetes. It took 17 years for bureaucrats to finally admit Gulf War Syndrome is real, despite the sufferings of hundreds of thousands of people and their children. Their conclusion didn't link GWS explicitly to depleted uranium, only going so far as to say GWS isn't imaginary.

I suppose the admission is progress compared to the baselines of casual disregard for the effects of toxins and for veterans' rights, but the Pentagon has already turned the world hot with DU, firing an estimated 320 tons of it on Iraq in 1991 alone. They've used it on ranges all over the US, and in live-fire exercises conducted off the east and west coasts, including fishing grounds off Washington State. This is not just a veterans' problem. They're just getting hit with it first.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A report released Monday concluded that "Gulf War Syndrome" is a legitimate condition suffered by more than 175,000 U.S. war veterans who were exposed to chemical toxins in the 1991 Gulf War.

The congressionally mandated report could help veterans who have battled the government for treatment of a wide range of unexplained neurological illnesses, from brain cancer to multiple sclerosis.

The Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses concluded that Gulf War Syndrome is a physical condition distinct from the mental "shell shock" suffered by veterans in other wars. Some earlier studies had concluded it was not a distinct illness.

"Scientific evidence leaves no question that Gulf War illness is a real condition with real causes and serious consequences for affected veterans," said the committee, which has been looking into the problem since 2002.

The committee, composed of independent scientists and veterans, said Congress should boost funding for research on Gulf War veterans' health to at least $60 million per year.

"This is a national obligation, made especially urgent by the many years that Gulf War veterans have waited for answers and assistance," the committee said.

Congress set up the committee in 1998, but the U.S. Veterans Administration did not appoint anyone to serve on it until 2002.

Gulf War Syndrome affects at least one-fourth of the 700,000 U.S. troops who served in the 1991 effort to drive Iraq out of Kuwait, or between 175,000 and 210,000 veterans in all, the report found. Few have seen their symptoms improve over the past 17 years, the report said.

Symptoms include persistent headaches, widespread pain, cognitive difficulties, unexplained fatigue, skin rashes, chronic diarrhea and digestive and respiratory problems.

Many Gulf War veterans suffering these symptoms say they met with skepticism when seeking treatment.

The panel found two possible causes: a drug given to troops to protect against nerve gas, known as pyridostigmine bromide, and pesticides that were used heavily during the war.

The panel said other possible causes could not be ruled out, including extensive exposure to smoke from oil-well fires and low-level exposure to sarin gas when captured Iraqi stocks were destroyed.

The U.S. government has spent roughly $440 million on Gulf War health research since 1994, but spending has declined in recent years and often is not focused on improving veterans' health, the committee said.

The report further highlighted inadequacies in the medical care veterans have received from their government.

A 2007 investigation by the Washington Post found combat veterans in the current Iraq war faced rodent-infested housing and bureaucratic hurdles as they sought treatment at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the flagship military hospital in Washington D.C..

(I know the picture is disturbing; some genetic effects of GWS are similar to thalidomide deformities. Others are worse, and there are many tiny victims of Desert Storm. Depleted uranium weapons are already banned by every international treaty, law, or convention. Only the United States has used it, and it stays hot for 4.5 billion years.)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Those Who Study History Are Condemned To Know It

And speaking of Henry Kissinger, he floated a paper ("Seizing Arab Oil") under the nom de plume "Miles Ignotus" (Unknown Soldier) in Harper's back in 1975 about America solving its oil problems by invading Saudi Arabia and seizing its infrastructure. It may not have been his idea originally, since James Schlesinger (Richard Nixon's SecDef) advocated the same thing in 1973, and tried to rev up the sullen British on a joint operation which included Kuwait and Abu Dhabi. Britain responded by making another James Bond movie, but the Gift Zwerg (from german, lit "poison dwarf") never gave up on the idea.

James Akins was the US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1973-75, when he was dismissed for telling Kissinger to perform an unnatural act. He returned to lobby against the planned war, and later personally filed a winning suit against AIPAC which went to the US Supreme Court in 1998.

Akins remarked at the imminent start of the Iraq invasion in 2003, "It's the Kissinger Plan! I thought it'd been killed, but it's back."

More Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton

The Dem caucus has mapped out their turf on healthcare (Kennedy and Baucus), and on seniority & leadership (Reid), just as the "Clinton as Sec-State" rumors began swirling and leaking. Leaking with two aides quoted in every story.

That's the kind of choreography we got from the Dark Side for 5-6 years after 9/11. Either the Obama camp wound up a couple of allies in Kennedy and Reid to show Clinton she wouldn't get Senate Majority Leader or anything in Health Care, or La Clintonessa heard the rumors and sent out feelers. Given the communications discipline (not among the core Clinton traits) the former seems far more likely.

Bottom line, her Senate opportunities were being closed off right around the time Sec State rumblings started. It will give her a world stage, more cameras, and possibly high drama, so my bet is she won't be able to turn it down.

Psyche's News Roundup

YouTube - Your Weekly Address from the President-Elect
Alaska Senate: Begich Widens Lead Slightly - The Fix
Minnesota Independent: ‘Ordinary voter’ in New York Times recount story has strong GOP ties (how they work)

The Washington Monthly: Demint: "Americans do prefer a traditional conservative government"
Bill's Foreign Deals May Pose Issue For Clinton As Secretary Of State
Obama Mosaic Small.png (PNG)

Iraeli PM Candidate's Website Looks A Lot Like Obama's... (Photo) (Tzipi Livni)
Body of Lies: The CIA's involvement with US film-making | Film | The Guardian | The CIA is often credited with 'advice' on Hollywood films, but no one is truly sure about the extent of its shadowy involvement.

Thomas Friedman’s World Is Flat Broke: (wife's fortune: down 3.9 bn to 25mil: Friedman cranky)
Bush cites progress at world economic summit (after destroying world economy)
Lawmaker says AIG executive should resign after resort event -

YouTube - Dennis Kucinich Grills Neel Kashkari On Bailout Scam (Skeletor)
Should We Really Bail Out the Big Three Automakers with $73.20 Per Hour Labor? - Seeking Alpha U.S. Hartford, Lincoln, Genworth Buy Lenders, May Gain U.S. Funds

Leveraged ETFs With 300% Exposures Set To Launch - News In Focus / Weekend / Reportage - Letter from Iceland
In The Know: Should The Government Stop Dumping Money Into A Giant Hole? | The Onion

Mineral Kingdom Has Co-evolved With Life, Scientists Find
Dr Petra Boynton: Do women get bitchier as they get older? (Only if they’re faced with research like this)
Marine plankton found in amber

YouTube - Crazy Cat Attacking Spuds Dog
Failing hard drive sounds -
Elderly Ghetto Gospel Choir is Today's BIG Thing - NOV 13, 2008

Malcolm Gladwell asks is there such a thing as pure genius? | Books | The Guardian (10,000 hours to genius)
How to Run a Con | Psychology Today Blogs
Lolcats, "I Can Has Cheezburger?" | Salon Life

TPM Election Central | Talking Points Memo | Leahy Becomes First Senator To Demand Lieberman's Ouster From Homeland Security Committee
Sarkozy Chides Putin On Russian Tough Talk: "You Want To End Up Like Bush?"

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

While shopping at Costco today, a man loitering near the pickle jars noticed the "Hillary 2008" button (I volunteered at Obama's campaign HQ and found it in a pile of miscellany) on my jacket. He asked me, "What do you think of Hillary as Secretary of State?"

Surprised, I replied, "She'd be great. She's got the deception, the deviousness, studies up on the issues, and can turn on enough charm when she needs it."

The man stared at me, smiled and said: "You're not really a Hillary supporter, are you?"

"Well, sure I am. For Secretary of State.
Better than Kissinger, if she takes it."

Didn't mention that I've been predicting this all year. Or that she bears a physical resemblance to Talleyrand.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Way To Succeed In Iran

We need to focus diplomacy and enforcement not on Iran's uranium enrichment program, but its missiles. If Biden and Obama can de-rhetoricize the background noise, they can orchestrate a Mid-East summit and cut a deal. Iran will receive assistance from (US) nuclear technologists to build power plants, and we (Israel) will get a treaty limiting missile range. The IAEA is very capable of monitoring on-the-ground enrichment, and a combination of satellite surveillance, HUMINT, and integrating Iran fully into the region's will ensure peace. This has a realistic shot of working now, and Scott Ritter (former UN weapons inspector in Iraq), has written his usual clear, expert prescription on how to do it, "With Iran, Obama Needs More Carrot, Less Stick." His concluding paragraphs:
In the end, Iran will probably have three choices to consider: continue its indigenous enrichment program despite the severe economic burden; drop its uranium enrichment program in favor of a secure, reliable international source of nuclear fuel; or seek to integrate its uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing capabilities into a larger regional and global framework, one that not only provides economic relief for the Iranian effort, but also brings with it greater international scrutiny and inspection, adherence to international practices and procedures on the handling and accountability of nuclear material, and viability to any regional nuclear fuel bank that would incorporate the product of Iran’s enrichment programs. The integration of Iran more fully into the Persian Gulf economy is by far the best guarantor of long-term stability in that region. Iran’s nuclear program should be seen as an opportunity in this regard, not an obstacle.

As Iran heads toward a presidential election in the coming year, the United States—and the Obama administration—would achieve better and longer-lasting results by seeking solutions geared toward resolving the legitimate issues at play in the region, rather than creating short-term sound bites here at home. A clean break with the neoconservative policies of the Bush administration is a prerequisite for success, and achieving this requires great imagination and courage. President-elect Barack Obama has demonstrated the potential for both of those qualities. I hope that promise is realized.
And the rest.

New White House Gives Early Hints On Climate Change Approach

But first, they have to watch the out-going Bush Administration raid the annual UN climate summit in Poznan, Poland, next month. At last year's summit in Bali, after weeks of intense negotiations and sleepless nights, delegates punted at the final hour and decided to craft a successor to the Kyoto protocol in December 2009. The Poznan summit will be an interesting place indeed, and the new clues are unabashedly in favor of cap-and-trade. Via the New Scientist:

There is a campaign underway for Obama to go to Poznań, but few believe he will. Instead, he is expected to send an observer. All this means expectations for radically different US climate leadership will be piled high on Obama's desk when he takes over the Oval Office on 20 January, 2009.

At a conference on carbon trading that took place on Wednesday, an environmental advisor to Obama sought to reassure business and policy-making experts. "The president-elect will move quickly on climate change," said Jason Grumet, Obama's lead energy and environment campaign adviser and possible choice for the new energy secretary.

"My suggestion to all of you is to enjoy the holiday season and rest up because I think it's going to be a very, very busy 2009," he said. He offered no specifics and answered no questions. He noted that the US has operated "a federal climate program with mandatory elements, for many, many years now."

(Picture above: dawn breaks through the mist over Colby Lake, New York, just above Saranac Lake.)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Psyche's News Roundup

Justice Dept. Overhaul - Goal Is to Restore Confidence in Law Enforcement Actions
Alaska: Gems Election Results (Begich up by 800+ ; Democrats winning)
Matthew Yglesias » Blogger Solidarity (Rachel: we are all bloggers)

Republican Governors Meet, Glumly - Many See Bleak Future for Party
Bush, Out of Office, Could Oppose Inquiries - (come and meet my little Cheney)
TPM: News Pages | Obama team expected to broker deal on subpoenas (Bolten, Miers and Rove to walk?)

Palin's First Press Conference Cut Short (Video)
YouTube - AC360: Dan Savage Takes on Tony Perkins Over Prop 8
Ted Nugent says a "Conservative revolution is brewing" | Crooks and Liars (wingnuts on parade)

Truthdig - Reports - America the Illiterate (our childrens ain't learnin')
Exiled Online - War Nerd: Bush Fought The Wars And The Wars Won - By Gary Brecher
TPMCafe | The Anatomy of Conservative Self-Deception

Bush Tells UN That Faith Sustained Him Through Presidency (plus hookers, booze)
The New York Times - Thomas Friedman apologizes for being wrong and quits job (gotcha)
The Supreme Court grapples with the Summum case. - By Dahlia Lithwick - Slate Magazine

New Jobless Claims Pass 500,000 to 7-Year High - (just the beginning)
Bloomberg Sues The Fed For Disclosure | The LA Progressive
Bailout Lacks Oversight Despite Billions Pledged - - Watchdog Panel Is Empty; Report Is Unfinished ("why don't we get drunk, and screw?")

Alex Jones: Celente Predicts Revolution, Food Riots, Tax Rebellions By 2012
BBC NEWS | Business | Russia's role in rescuing Iceland (the price is right)
Robert Reich's Blog: The Real Difference Between Bankruptcy and Bailout

Once upon a time... on Vimeo (Capucine)
Humans may have prevented super ice age - environment - 12 November 2008 - New Scientist
How warfare shaped human evolution - life - 12 November 2008 - New Scientist
Atlas of hidden water may avert future conflict - environment - 24 October 2008 - New Scientist

All Extremists Should Be Shot

Or at least not rewarded for bad behaviors. Extremists are the real enemies within each political party, and right now conditions are perfect for them across the globe. We're traversing the sharp, narrow ridgeback of a very tall mountain. A misstep to the left will send us down the cliff to neo-liberalism, one to the right and we careen back down into neo-fascism. We should all be quite familiar with the dicta for nation-building abroad; now it's hitting home, and best practices in such ambitious endeavors also apply to parties.

Even if it tastes bad,
you help the comparative moderates in a country, you reward them and isolate the radicals. That's how you de-escalate, win the middle, and create balances of power. Democrats in the US are faced with the need for pragmatic party-building, for isolating our radicals by embracing those who are only half a bubble off plumb. I'm not referring to Democrats rebuilding the Democratic Party--Barack Obama did that during the primary and campaign. I mean Democrats urgently need to help rebuild the Republican Party. If we don't...They will.

Of course we shouldn't be just a nation of two parties, but we are, and even if we became a parliamentary system overnight it wouldn't help. So mending the compound fractures in the GOP is a priority for us all. Yes, it's great fun to watch them tear each other apart, don't get me wrong. It's a sinful pleasure watching them try to hitch their busted yachts to blazing SUVs, and to hand the keys over to someone who out-Bushes Bush (yes, the doublay was entendried). The meme going around is to let them Palienate because she's good for fund-raising among the Know-Nothings, and hope they run her or a facsimilie in 2012 so they get thrashed again. Trouble is, I recognize the danger in that outcome. It would hurt us all. And the world. Enormously.

If the Republicans move back towards the center, however, it helps us all. It would keep the Democrats honest and greatly lessen the odds of a steep drop into unworkable neo-liberalisms. The magnitude of the opportunity is huge, and it cannot be retrieved if passed up. If the Dims listen to the devils of their lower natures and play NIGYSOB ("now I got you, son of bitch") we will be sentenced to a generation of over-reach, to another vertiginous political cycle intimately connected to the boom and bust we're experiencing economically.
Ergo, the Pugs must be marginalized so the Republicans become and remain a viable threat in a balance of power.

We must reach out to moderate Republicans, the ones being ousted from the inner circle. David Frum, for example. was Bush II's early speechwriter. I despise him and his wretched mistakes, but he is a reformer, he saw this coming, and has written a book called "Comeback." Time to reach out. We need people like Reihan Salam, a smart young intellectual who co-wrote "Grand New Party." We need Peggy Noonan, Jim Manzi, Ed Rollins, John McCain, Chuck Hagel, and many disparate influencers who are center-right. Even Chris Buckley and David Brooks, who function as moderate double agents.

The alternative is we'll get more of Joe the Wife-Beater (really, I've seen the court docs), Jerry Falwell, and millenial apocalypsis. We get more of people who scorn wisdom with extreme prejudice, who always choose narrow ideologies over wider common goods.
We need to marginalize Karl Rove and his American Taliban, who pandered to these lower natures in exchange for Phyrric victories which benefitted an unprecious few.

This means we must dampen our impulse to interpret
the election as a paean to being liberal. The collapsing economy isn't proof of capitalism's failure. Capitalism works. So does communism, but incarnations of both have to be upheld by plausible myths and regulated by authority-wielding cops who beat the hell out of those who pollute or steal from the commons. Believe it or not, there are governments in which malefactors don't get bailed out, but get jailed in.

Now is not the time to revel in Schadenfreude, or to be small-minded in victory. It is the time to be magnanimous, and glory awaits if we choose to be. There may be very little room to maneuver, but regardless of the fix we're in, the most valuable thing we can have is a government capable of governing, of making good choices and compromises. Wearing the victory lightly will help achieve that. This notion of "all governments are bad" is the result of long brainwashing, and it's a lie. Maybe, just maybe, we can build one that's even good at it. Yes we better.

(Note: I have plagiarized from many sources above. My apologies and thanks to you all.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ins & Outs Dept.: Midnight F***-You Regulations Can Be Reversed

Ha-ha, good news! Those privatizin' White Hosers messed up. Again. Which isn't news, but this time their incompetence works out in our favor, so they can't put cyanide in our chewing gum and so forth:
Congressional Democrats are eyeing a little-known, Clinton-era law as a way to reverse Bush administration midnight regulations — even ones that have already taken effect.

It’s a move that would undermine the White House’s attempt to finalize its energy and environmental regulations by November so that Barack Obama couldn’t undo them after he’s sworn in as the 44th president on Jan. 20.

“Fortunately, [the White House] made a mistake,” said a top Senate Democratic aide.

Last May, White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten instructed federal agency heads to make sure any new regulations were finalized by Nov. 1. The memo didn’t spell it out, but the thinking behind the directive was obvious. As Myron Ebell of the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute put it: “We’re not going to make the same mistakes the Clinton administration did.”

The law [Ed.: the Congressional Review Act of 1996] contains a clause determining that any regulation finalized within 60 days of congressional adjournment — Oct. 3, in this case — is considered to have been legally finalized on Jan. 15, 2009. The new Congress then has 60 days to review it and reverse it with a joint resolution that can’t be filibustered in the Senate. In other words, any regulation finalized in the last half-year of the Bush administration could be wiped out with a simple party-line vote in the Democrat-controlled Congress.
Now we'll see if the Spineless Ones can be motivated to follow through on their legal advantage over the Bastard Party. Visions of cattle prods do dance in the head. Read the rest here.

In Defense Of Religion, Part I

All cultures, to my knowledge, strove to convey and control the experience of transcendence, and to name it. The follies and tragedies we humans commit against ourselves and others would seem to belie, belittle, or invalidate attempts to reach and understand the divine, but religion is an indication that we're trying to become more than animals, and are succeeding. While we're still sandwiched tightly between the sacred and the profane, those persistent struggles to find god are actually testimonies that one might exist.

We are all seekers, and even if inactive or atheistic we all confront the mystery of good and evil when we undergo bodily suffering, psychic pain, or loss, and when we genuinely express love or feel its overarching power. Many voices echo from the past, doing their best to honor this mystery and its nature, and the traditions of the major religions all set down principles of ethics which would help us live together and draw out better societies.

The resulting codes of ethics and senses of morals are strikingly similar, and in their basic precepts, they got it right. Although we often fail to do what we should, we come from traditions which contemplated over the basic questions of life and came up with the right answers. We have that much in common, and I try to remember that when someone asks if I have accepted Jesus into my life. Yes, but not for a distorted doctrine which redeems the irredeemable and excuses all manner of pomposity.

Tolerating differing beliefs, so critical a component for the world we hope to build, is a balancing act of respecting their wellsprings and gently but firmly pushing back when they flow too heavily upon the commons, one which newly encompasses not a lazy river or a village green but the entire earth. A path to tolerance is to listen to the other sources of belief and learn about them, and to consider lives in other societies which are unlike our own. Can the differing codas be reconciled, in a practical sense, now that distance has shrunk and we're so intertwined?

I think it's possible, but requires a great deal of luck in leaders, ones who believe a certainty in knowing god's will for application of policy is extremely dangerous. If there is an impulse to fight without reservation, it is religious certainty in government, deeply underscored by menaces recent and present. Governments always try to convert religion into civic religion, but the goals of the theocratic-leaning state show a strong tendency to diverge from the goals of the divine. We're far more likely to find god in what we don't know, and there will always be plenty of that.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Change We Need

The biggest obstacle Barack Obama now faces isn't Republicans or the will of the people. It's the Democratic congress, or as I call them collectively, the Dims. As crows gather into a murder, so do our elected critters, and Congress is first and foremost a finishing school for lobbyists. They have relished the eyes in our hanging bodies, and picked them out with their dark beaks. While there are laudable exceptions, and I live in such a district, the Democratic congress has it so good now that there's tremendous institutional resistance to change. Any change. They want payback, they want bounty, and the whole Beltway is abuzz with how to line up first at the pig-slop.

Obama's tip-top priority is Alternative Energy, because that's how you change our fundamental bellicosity. If you own a huge imperious tiger who needs 20 pounds of meat a day or else he eats your family, you better start raising sheep. (Whether he's appointed or not, Al Gore will be the de facto Secretary of Energy.) Obama's opening salvo for the Green Machine is going to be half a trillion dollars. Which Congress should love, but many in it will vehemently despise it for various reasons.

First, Obama will get the credit and he has them over (pun intended) a barrel. A Green Deal will impart no glory, for example, to Blue Dog Democrats. Nor to Nancy Pelosi, nor Harry Reid. Next, the Dims will have no ready grapple points for earmarks. Even worse, Obama wants to set up a five-member Infrastructure Committee tasked with analyzing all energy projects and giving ultimate go/no-go. There will be a furor of lunches, dinners, comfort girls, and big-screen TVs sent to the wrong addresses for those committee members, such that Jennifer Anniston would frolic with them atop the Lincoln Memorial if they would just approve a wind farm in North Dakota. And he'll pick people who won't care.

Republicans, of course, expect to get screwed. The biggest source of unhappiness will be from the Democrats who don't think they're getting their due. Obama is going to take a flamethrower to them, so they just might be outraged. (They have my sympathy. As much as I have for paint sniffers.) Obama is anti-lobbyist, and he knows the process is set up to bring ostensible damned-if-you-do-or-don't legislation chock-full-o-pork through. In a delicious irony, his biggest ally across the aisle may end up being John McCain, the Anti Earmarks super hero.

Done the job, made the point, built the dream in just 4 years. +45 Congressional seats, +13.5 Senate seats, and a Democratic President won Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana, Colorado, and Nevada. (Yeaa-aaa-aaaahhh!)

Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Don't you love the sound...of the last laugh going down?

Psyche's News Roundup

The Crisis & What to Do About It - The New York Review of Books - By George Soros

NPR: Hear: A Tale of Intertwined Misery: school districts that bought some of the worst stuff on Wall Street.
American Express to Become Bank Holding Company - DealBook - New York Times (am I a bank, too?)

Obama Plans Guantanamo Close, US Trials
MSNBC’s Tag for Now - ‘The Power of Change’ -
Bush leaving office more unpopular than Nixon - (country afflicted with "Bush Derangment Syndrome")

Gallup: 68% 'favorable rating' for Obama - On Politics - UsaToday.Com
Dean Prepares To Step Down As DNC Chair (mission accomplished)
GOP at Odds with Country

Media Matters - Absurd View : Hasselbeck, Shepherd suggest clergy could have been jailed without Prop 8
Charlie Brooker: Is Obama really president or am I just watching a fantasy? It's almost too good to be true | Comment is free | The Guardian The Republican campaign was so horrible, it could only have been orchestrated by Skeletor

The Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog: PBS documentary on Appalachia in early 2009
Martin Eisenstadt’s Blog » Blog Archive » Eisenstadt the source for Sarah Palin "Africa" leak… and proud of it.
Deep Secrets of ‘The Daily Show’ - City Room Blog -

Balloon Juice » Blog Archive » Your Morning F-Bomb
BBC NEWS | Europe | Mystery of lost US nuclear bomb

Yes We Will (Have A Depression) - The Market Ticker Exclusive Fed Defies Transparency Aim in Refusal to Disclose (surprise)
Ohio DHL layoffs - Nov. 9, 2008 - About 8,000 job cuts reportedly may be announced tomorrow (66% of whole city)

Fed won't give info on nearly $2 trillion in loans | Business | - Houston Chronicle
A Quiet Windfall For U.S. Banks With Attention on Bailout Debate, Treasury Made Change to Tax Policy
A.I.G. May Get More in Bailout - ("despite assurances" etc)

Mormons Continue to Try to Steal Anne Frank's Soul
Renaldi - Photographs - Touching Strangers
Bullies' Brains Light Up With Pleasure as People Squirm (Bush)