June 08, 2010

My Mash Note to Sarah Palin

Dear Sarah,

First, I don't think I've written much about you at all on my blog. It's not that I haven't been thinking about you, because I have. You're very much in my thoughts. For example, I've found the "Delete Blog" command on my Blogger Dashboard, and that's really all about you. Hey, don't jump to conclusions, Sally. If you were President, who needs to write one of these silly things? Not me! So let's say it's shortly after election day, November, 2012, and this blog just sort of disappears. Is that cowardice? Heck no. Is it because I would consider my work done? You betcha!

Blogs are dumb. They're written out of frustration, megalomania, ego, despair, all kinds of reasons. They're an expression of Free Speech rights, but as we all know, people can get carried away with such liberties and play right into the hands of America's Enemies. We're at war, all over the place. With Terrorists, of course, and Iran and North Korea and the Liberal Media and the ACLU and the Democrat Party and...hell, you tell me. It's a jungle out there. This place shouldn't be run by a Community Organizer. A helicopter moose hunter is more like it, someone who isn't squeamish about getting elbow-deep in the gore of a gut-shot caribou as she field dresses it during a blizzard. You think those Muslims won't think about that one? Heh-heh. I know I will.

Though I'll be keeping my thoughts to myself. I'll just ogle your legs. You have nice legs, Sarah, the best of any female Presidential candidate so far. I know you're thinkin': damned by faint praise. Well, you wouldn't say it like that. You'd say, gimme a break, Dude! But what I mean is, a lot of these ancient horndogs, like Rush and John McCain and Bill Kristol, just have a lech for you, they think you're really cute and everything, but do they really respect you? I mean, like I do? I think they're condescending, frankly, and that's strictly entre-nous. That means "between us" in Frenchie, not that anyone should care how French people talk, and I'm not parading my education or anything, though perhaps it's a little superior and maybe more settled than yours, which, as I understand things, was undertaken at about 23 different undergraduate institutions. On the other hand, was I ever the Governor of Alaska? Who's got better legs, me or you? That's what I'm talking about.

Not writing the blog anymore after you're elected won't bother me. My guess is that I'll have other things on my mind. I'll be building a nuclear fallout shelter, for one thing, so I hope you'll urge all Americans to do the same so I don't look, you know, paranoid. But since everyone will be walking around with automatic weapons and wearing camo, I'm not sure paranoia will even mean much when you're in charge. I'll just need enough armament to keep people from siphoning the gas from my Humvee, that's all. I'm not going to get carried away.

Did I mention I think you're cute? Okay, covered that. Beyond that opinion (and it's sincere, Sarah, I mean it), I confess to having a little trouble concerning just what you and the Tea Party are really about, you know? The funny feeling I have is that you're so worried about your Freedoms that we're not going to be able to do a lot of the things we currently take for granted. Kind of paradoxical, huh? To use one of those Obama words. And it's ironic that what will make your Presidency possible at all is that things have gotten so bad. Ain't people just the livin' end sometimes? Oh sure, a lot of people will liken the coming of the Tea Party, and you as Number 45, to the rise of the Third Reich, a desperation movement for a humiliated people out of work, broke, foreclosed, threatened and with a pervasive sense of grievance against....shit, everybody. I don't see it. For example, did you ever see the bandy legs on that little Chaplin-mustached knucklehead? Not in your league, Sally.

So it's all good. I understand it, really I do. Someday, around 2014 or so, depending on where I am and everything, I'm going to wish we hadn't had to go quite so far to try to make things Right, that maybe it would have been better if the old style pols had pulled off an American turnaround using what we might think of then, looking back, as "traditional methods." But as you would say -- coulda, woulda, shoulda. You would say that, right? Oh I remember - you betcha!

Love & kisses,

June 06, 2010

The Cargo Cult Economic Recovery Under the Rahm Emanuel Administration

Sometimes I say to myself, "Self (for I want to get my attention), what's the deal with this Obama Administration? Why is it setting the table for the Tea Party?" I'm willing, you see, to ask myself the tough questions. Others may dodge them, but in the privacy of my own mind, I follow the facts where they lead.

What I'm coming around to is the slow realization that the country is actually led by Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel. If I think of it that way, it mostly makes sense. Rahm is Old School, a political deal-maker who operates pretty much as his brother Ari does in the show biz agency game. If you want to get things done, what you do is get a bunch of power players in one room and cut a deal. This is how Pragmatic People get things done. It's not a lot of airy-fairy, Hopey-Changey bullshit. That's fine for getting elected - give the suckers what they want to hear. But once you're in charge, you have to act like a grownup, and grownups deal with the possible.

Health care "reform" was done this way, the energy bill will be done this way, financial "reform"
is being done this way. Emanuel and his Democratic Leadership Council cohorts are running a kind of Names Project where the big bills have the titles of real change without any of the substance. You want Health Care Reform? Here. And what you get is a large, unfunded expansion of the Medicaid program, and not much else. That looks doable to the Big Boyz, so they do that. Financial reform? Okay, we'll limit what the Bank of America can charge you when you get cash back at Safeway on your ATM. Satisfied? Who cares if you aren't satisfied.

The people summoned to the back offices of the West Wing of the White House do fine under the existing economy, so they don't want to change much. In this sense, Barack is useful to them. Obama, I get the feeling, is something of a naif, a political neophyte, and more or less a tool for the Powers That Be. He's in over his head. His natural inclinations are conciliatory and "compromising," which the political sharks swimming around him take as an invitation to do things their way. It's kind of endearing and touching that Barack has this enduring belief in the good intentions of all the assholes in the federal government, but it's massively displaced and it has shanghaied his Presidency and made him ineffective.

The only satisfaction I get out of watching the U.S. economy thrash and struggle in the La Brea Tar Pits of the current Depression is the realization that Rahm Emanuel's Cargo Cult expectation that the economy will spontaneously "recover" is being systematically destroyed before our eyes. It isn't happening. Barack, Joltin' Joe and Rahm have been reduced to using Census Bureau overhiring (at ridiculous levels) as a sign of recovery. Nothing of the sort is happening. This is not a "cyclical downturn," and blaming all of what is happening on a "subprime crisis" is simply wishful thinking. We are experiencing the natural result of about three decades of allowing the U.S. middle class to be hollowed out and wrecked, and of permitting ever greater fractions of national wealth to be concentrated in financial elites who operate at the multinational level. It's really that simple. The middle class was kept viable for a couple of decades by massive borrowing, but now the collateral for such borrowing has been destroyed, average income will not support the previous standard of living, and the Moment of Truth has arrived.

To extend and pretend for a while longer, the U.S. has led the international community in taking private debt on to the public ledger, running huge deficits and turning what was a private catastrophe into a sovereign debt crisis. The alternative was to face the truth, something the political system will not allow. It would have taken a very forceful, self-confident, visionary, intellectual-sprung-from-the-head-of-Zeus leader to take us in the right direction, and Obama is not that person. Nor is Rahm Emanuel, who is running the show, although he is a great deal more savvy than the President. Rahm decided that it was innovative enough just for Obama to be the first minority President; beyond that, it was to be business as usual, with the Clinton Presidency as the cultural and political model. Thus, vacations on Martha's Vineyard, dinners in Georgetown, flexing of American military muscle to keep the Right Wing off balance, forgiveness of war crimes, continuation of Bush/Cheney outrages in detainee civil liberties abuses, expansion of unnecessary wars. All the same stuff, including (and unlike Clinton) an actual increase in military spending.

The only hope for the American economy in the long run is (a) a fundamental change in the energy paradigm and (b) protectionism in the form of tariffs and abandonment of the free trade fetish. The economy runs on energy. So many people could be employed, so much could be done at so little environmental cost, if we moved to solar power, in all its various forms, on a massive basis. And it here that Obama-Emanuel have been all talk and no effective action. The money, as always, goes to the Pentagon. From the 2011 Federal Budget description:

Encourages the Early Commercial Use of
New, Innovative Energy Technologies that
Will Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions.
The Budget substantially expands support for
DOE loan guarantees for innovative energy
technologies, by adding $36 billion in new loan
authority (for a total of $54.5 billion) for nuclear
power facilities and an additional $500 million
in credit subsidy to support $3 to $5 billion in
loan guarantees for innovative energy efficiency
and renewable energy projects. The loan guarantee
program also will continue to support a
range of commercial renewable energy programs
and other facilities that help reduce pollutants
and greenhouse gases while simultaneously
creating clean energy jobs and contributing to
long-term economic growth and international
There you have it. All of those "millions of Green Jobs" that Obama talked about on the campaign trail: that's what is supposed to get it done. "Loan guarantees" for innovative energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. And the cost of maintaining the military occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq under the new budget? $170 billion, as part of $700 billion in official Pentagon spending. Obama/Emanuel do not want to give the Right Wing ammunition for the accusation that they are "Socialist," so they will not do what needs to be done, a true Manhattan Project for alternative energy. Too "radical." Politics is the art of the possible, and that just isn't possible. I understand the difficulty, I believe, but it doesn't make sense to be pragmatic when practicality keeps a country mired in stagnation. If you're going to Change things, you really have to be willing to Change things. Alas, it is not to be.

So let's wait, like the South Sea Islanders, for the cargo to float ashore again, as it has in years gone by. Let's pay about 16 bucks an hour to one in every 500 Americans to count the rest of us and call it "job growth." Let's screw around and just keep doing the same things and expecting different results. Let's all go to hell in a handbasket, but look Presidential doing it.