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      Stirling Newberry and I have been writing about Japanafication for years—on blogs, at least since 2004. Those of us who are old enough remember when Japan was THE miracle economy.  Technologically advanced, vibrant and rich.  It was eating America’s lunch, and most other countries.  For peak alarmism at this fact in a fictional form, read [...]
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Nothing new under the sun

From Bring Up The Bodies, the second book about the life of Thomas Cromwell by author Hillary Mantel:

“In March [1536], Parliament knocks back his [Thomas Cromwell's] new poor law.  It was too much for the Commons to digest that rich men might have some duty to the poor. If you get fat, as some men do who profit from the wool trade, you have some responsibility to the men turned off their land, the laborers without labor, the sowers without a field. England needs roads, forts, harbors, bridges.  Men need work.  It’s a shame seeing them begging their bread, when honest labor could keep the realm secure.  Can we not put them together, the hands and the tasks?

But Parliament cannot see how it is the State’s job to create work.  Are not these matters in God’s hands, and is not poverty and dereliction part of his eternal order?  To everything there is a season- a time to starve and a time to thieve.  If rain falls six months solid and rots the grain in the fields, there must be Providence in it.  God knows his trade. It is an outrage to the rich and enterprising to suggest that they should pay an income tax only to put bread in the mouths of the work shy. And if Secretary Cromwell argues that famine provokes criminality, well, are there not hangmen enough?

The King himself comes to the Commons to argue for the law.  He wants to be Henry the Beloved, a father to his people, a shepherd to his flock. But the Commons sit stoney faced on their benches and stare him out. The wreckage of the measure is comprehensive. “It is ended up as an Act for the Whipping of Beggars”, Richard Rich says.  “It is more against the poor than for them.”

And with the newest proposal by Republican Representative Steve Pearce to test the pee of the unemployed for illegal drugs, the whipping of beggars never goes out of style.

Paul Krugman argues that there is some kind of psychological need to impose austerity, a moral imperative of sorts.  More likely, the wealthy have found a convenient way to convince politicians to project the blame for spilling the milk onto the table itself.

But let’s not kid ourselves.  This is the way of the powerful.  They do not want to worry about the lives of others.  That’s what makes power so appealing.  So, knowing that, our problem is not how we convince the powerful to think beneficently and empathetically towards other people.  Power makes them immune from such supplications.  Our problem is to convince ordinary people that there is power in sheer numbers.  The media has been very good at promoting learned helplessness.  That’s where they excel.  What we need is a movement that counteracts that message.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Stop the Obama propaganda campaign against the 99%

Yves Smith has an important post up about the coming propaganda campaign against all of us who aren’t the 1%.  We’re going to be forced to eat austerity against our best interests.  Are we going to take this s^&*?  It’s time to call the White House and your elected officials and tell them to stop forcing this budget deal on us because we want no part of it.  Here’s Yves:

The fact is that unless enough Senators decide to oppose Obama, the middle class is going to take a hit out of a budget deal. But it’s now clear that ordinary citizens will also be subjected to a full bore messaging campaign to persuade them that they should regard this counterproductive sacrifice as good for them.

Key extracts from the Guardian:

“Barack Obama has enlisted the help of his formidable grassroots army of volunteers in the battle with Republican members of Congress over the fiscal cliff, the January 1 deadline for a deal on tax and spending….

It calls on them to spread the word about Obama’s position to friends, families and neighbours. It said he wanted a balanced budget that will extend tax cuts for 98% of the population, eliminate tax cuts for the wealthiest and cut spending by $3tn.”

The article indicates that the reason for turning up the messaging is that no progress has been made on the Great Betrayal since Obama went to Asia. That further suggests that he still firmly intends to get a deal done before year end, when it’s clear that going past Jan. 1 would strengthen his negotiating position….if his interest really were in increasing taxes on the rich and sparing Medicare and Social Security. His sense of urgency is further confirmation of whose interests he holds most dear, and they aren’t yours and mine.

So, in summary, “the more effective evil” is about to turn up the volume on deficit reduction using his fanbase to make sure that we get royally screwed by his backers.  Hey, I didn’t vote for him -twice!, (and I loathe Republicans) but this shit has got to stop.  We worked hard for that money and we shouldn’t have to part with a cent of it.

Why isn’t Obama using his fanbase to force bankers to take a haircut and to tell the 1% to stop acting like selfish, greedy pigs?  Why aren’t more people asking that question?

We aren’t Greece, who doesn’t know how to collect taxes, and we aren’t Ireland, who seems to be into masochism without a safety word.  The vast majority of Americans did absolutely nothing to merit this kind of treatment.  We deserve better from our president and his party.

They should be ashamed of themselves.

In the meantime, we still haven’t gotten an effective pushback from the New Deal side of the Democratic party.  There is a giant void.  I am urging all of you bloggers out there to get over your mutual revulsion of each other (ok, of people like me, in particular) and join together to deliver a counter message before it is too late.

I can’t get past the suckiness

I’m trying to ‘get’ the Obama thing. Why are so many people ready to vote for a guy who seems pretty conservative to me. More like an 80s Republican than any Democrat I’ve ever known. So why do so many of my old Democratic buddies love this guy so much?  I won’t kid you — I can’t see myself voting for a Robot Drone Bomber.  But, many people do. So, I spent part of today trying to figure it out.

Frankly, I’m not getting very far.

There’s this post over at FireDogLake, Obama, The Not-So-Great Debate, Austerity and the Election. David Dayen is talking about this story over at Time —  What He Knows Now: Obama on Popularity, Partisanship and Getting Things Done in Washington (which is also discussed by Digby here)

After this, he improbably says that the election is “going to give voters a very clear choice.” There’s a discontinuity there, part of which can be absorbed by the realities of what the Romney campaign has proposed on paper – massive tax cuts, spending slashes on Medicaid and the poor that would cut to the bone. But Obama explains that his goal would be merely to cut those programs, just not all the way back that nobody could benefit from them.

My message to Democrats is the same message I’ve got to Republicans and independents, and that is, I want a balanced approach to deficit reduction that combines additional revenue, particularly from folks like me who can afford it, with prudent cuts on both the discretionary side and the mandatory side but that still allows us to make investments in the things we need to grow.

And that means I’m prepared to look at reforms in Medicaid. I’m prepared to look at smart reforms on Medicare. But there are things I won’t do, and this is part of the debate we’re having in this election. I do not think it is a good idea to set up Medicare as a voucher system in which seniors are spending up to $6,000 more out of pocket. That was the original proposal Congressman Ryan put forward. And there is still a strong impulse I think among some Republicans for that kind of approach.

I’m not going to slash Medicaid to the point where disabled kids or seniors who are in nursing homes are basically uncared for. We’re not going to violate the basic bargain that Social Security represents.

This is what passes for a great debate in American politics circa 2012. Sadder still, it IS a debate, just on a scale that leaves out the perspective of a substantial chunk, perhaps the majority, of the country.

And it’s funny because (I swear, I’m trying to figure out his appeal) then I came to this from Glenn Greenwald:

Election 2012 and the media: a vast rightwing conspiracy of stupid

Strong and rational though it may be, the temptation to ignore entirely the election year spectacle should be resisted. Despite its shallow and manipulative qualities – or, more accurately, because of them – this process has some serious repercussions for American political life.

The election process is where American politicians go to be venerated and glorified, all based on trivial personality attributes that have zero relationship to what they do with their power, but which, by design, convinces Americans that they’re blessed to be led by people with such noble and sterling character, no matter how much those political figures shaft them. (Wednesday, President Obama, during his highly-touted “Ask Me Anything” appearance on Reddit, predictably ignored the question from Mother Jones’s Nick Baumann about Obama’s killing of the American teenager Abdulrahman Awlaki, in favor of answering questions about the White House beer recipe and his favorite basketball player.)

The election process is where each political party spends hundreds of millions of dollars exploiting the same trivial personality attributes to demonize the other party’s politicians as culturally foreign, all to keep their followers in a high state of fear and thus lock-step loyalty.

So I don’t know what to think. I mean none of this is getting me any closer to voting for +8% to +20% unemployment and a Robot Drone Bomber or a Robot (HaHaHa) I mean Romney.

But, I’ll tell you this – I kind of expect crap from Republicans.  I don’t mean I accept it but, I live in Kansas and am surrounded by their logic so I expect it.  I get it. I get them.  But I never expected to live with this shit from Democrats everyday for a year or more!

Obamobedience

“So, who are you voting for?” an Obama follower asked me prior to the event.  I was holding posters with 12 friends and handing out hundreds of flyers that looked like Obama material until you read them. (PDF).

The posters objected to the tripling of weapons sales to foreign dictators last year, Obama’s willingness to cut Social Security and Medicare, the kill list, imprisonment without trial, warrantless spying, corporate trade agreements, the continued so-called “Bush” tax cuts, the war on Afghanistan, the drone wars, the increased military budget, the murder of Tariq Aziz and of Abdulrahman al Awlaki, the weak auto efficiency standards in the news that day, the refusal to prosecute torturers, Obama’s sabotaging of agreements to counter global warming, etc.

“So, who are you going to vote for?”

“Well,” I said, “you know, you can vote for someone good like Jill Stein or Rocky Anderson, or you can vote for Obama, but today is not election day.  If you vote for the lesser evil candidate on election day, that’s great.  Knock yourself out.  But that does not begin to produce an argument for being his apologist and cheerleader throughout the year.  If you push the culture and the government in a better direction, both evil candidates will get a little less evil.  One guy wants to trash Social Security, and the other guy brags about his willingness to make huge compromises with that agenda — that is, to partially trash Social Security.  So, is your job to demand that not a dime be cut (regardless of how you vote), or is your job to cheer for the partially trash it guy, thereby guaranteeing that he and the other guy both get even worse?”

“Yeah, I see, but I’m trying to understand who you think we should vote for.”

“Let me try again.  Take Obama’s kill list for . . . “

“His what?”

“President Obama keeps a list of the people he wants to kill.  It was a frontpage New York Times story three months ago that made a lot of news but was carefully avoided by Democrats even more assiduously than you would have sought it out and trumpeted your outrage were the president a Republican.  Anyway, take the kill list, which includes Americans and non-Americans, adults and children.  Is it your job to ignore it, to celebrate it, or to protest it?  I don’t mean your job as a voter, but your job as a citizen.  What are you supposed to do in such a case?”

“Well what’s the alternative?”

“The alternative to murdering people?  Well, I don’t know how to put this.  The alternative is essentially not murdering people.”

“No, what’s the alternative to Obama? Isn’t the other guy worse?”

“I’m not sure I’m being very clear here.  70% of the country wants the war in Afghanistan ended.  Neither candidate is willing to end it.  Obama pretends he’s ending it.  Romney doesn’t mention it.  Should 70% of the country keep quiet while large numbers of people are killed?  Or should we approach both branches of our government, the two parties, with our just and moral demand until we’re satisfied — regardless of who we’re going to vote for?”

All bolding by me. (also referenced by Lambert in an earlier comment)

And that’s that.  I still don’t get it.

LI(E)BOR

We have used the word “evil” to apply to bankers so often in the last four years that it’s become trite.  Nevertheless, the level of austerity imposed on us by the financial establishment in order for them to continue to seize money and power without accountability is so destructive that there’s really no other word that applies.  Once again, we have to go back to Hannah Arendt’s comment about the “banality of evil” to understand what we’re talking about here. It is the normalization of the unthinkable.  It’s not that these financiers are people who beat their wives or sell their children into sexual slavery.  I’m sure that some of these people are perfectly fine to socialize with.  You can play a few rounds of golf, have dinner, go sailing with them.  They seem like such nice, intelligent, clean-cut people, if a bit more ambitious than the average Joe.  OK, insanely more ambitious, but you know what I mean.  They don’t look like gun toting SS droogs in jackboots who will conduct you to the edge of the pit where they will shoot you in the back of the head for inconveniently living on land they had their eyes on.

And yet, isn’t that what they’re doing, in a so far non-violent way?  They’re leading hundreds of millions of people to the edge of the pit of financial instability and a lifetime of precarious existence and pushing them over with a swift kick to the back.  When you lose your job, your house, your marriage, everything but the clothes on your back and the student loans you will be paying off forever, and it’s all because some wealthy bankers need to preserve their bonuses, isn’t that evil?

Check out this unbelievable interview about LIBOR from the BBC with Harvard professor Niall Ferguson.  The second part is particularly outrageous.  Essentially, we are being pressured to turn generation against generation and Ferguson implies that Obama will sell us out at the end of this year:

Part 1:

Part 2:

(Roberto Unger’s call for the left to defeat Obama makes a lot more sense now.  Ahh, I see that Ferguson is one of the original Confidence Fairies that Krugman is always referring to.  What’s more, he’s married to Aayan Hirsi Ali, the Somali born former Dutch MP who works for the conservative American Enterprise Institute.  She has taken Christopher Hitchens’ place in the Four Horseman dialogues.  Man-o-man, no one is safe from the creepy thoughts of extreme right wing philosophy.  I can’t take the Four Horseman dialogues seriously now.  Not until she’s replaced.  She jumped from ultra religious conservatism to ultra right wing conservatism and is not a good ambassador for the New Atheist movement.  Sorry, Richard.  She’s going to damage your credibility.  You’ve got to be very careful about these people because in this country, the political right wing is inextricably tied to the religious right wing.)

The LIBOR scandal took me back to the fall of 2008 when Planet Money popped up on NPR.  At first, Planet Money was a good resource for non-financiers to get a grip on Credit Default Swaps and Collateralized Debt Obligations.  A few months later, that began to change subtly as the hosts of Planet Money got pulled into the realm of the serious people.  But in October 2008, they were on top of LIBOR.  I remember them talking about the TED spread and LIBOR and getting the sense that the LIBOR number, the interbank interest rate showing how willing banks were to lend to one another was an indicator of the global scale of the catastrophe.  No joke.  The higher the LIBOR number creeped, the more likely we were to spin off to a Depression that was bigger than the world had ever seen.  The thing is, according to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the banks were manipulating LIBOR starting in 2005, affecting rates on adjustable rate mortgages.  And the downstream effect of LIBOR was felt in just about every interest rate on every act of borrowing by every individual in the world.  We are talking about hundreds of trillions of dollars.  In this Planet Money snippet, Adam Davidson discusses the effect of LIBOR and the TED spread and what it means for global markets around the world.  Throughout October, Planet Money followed TED and LIBOR and the effect of the bailout money.  For some reason, LIBOR numbers should have gone down a bit after the infusion of money but they didn’t, probably because the LIBOR rate, as high as it was, wasn’t real and wasn’t high enough to reflect reality.

But reality might have set off a global panic, triggering much more severe regulation of the finance industry so it had to stay hidden.  In the meantime, we’ve been carrying the weight of these behemoth zombies for four years and if we don’t do something now, we will be carrying them for years to come- at our expense.  And they’ve gotten off with minor slaps on the wrist.  The CFTC fined British banks a paltry $450 million for their manipulations.  That’s an insult to American taxpayers and totally inadequate.  Democratic lawmakers should be outraged and demanding accountability.  Where are they??

In another Planet Money episode from October 2008, we find out what LIBOR meant to the little people:

Justin asks us today:

“I saw you mentioned student loan availability, but what about existing loans? Since many student loans have their interest rates tied to LIBOR or Prime, what does LIBOR hitting all-time highs this week mean for students? And, perhaps more ominously, graduates who are in repayment? How long can this go on before they start to see some effect on their loans?”

Even if Congress passes the bailout, many students across the nation will begin to see higher costs for loans in the coming months or could be turned away by banks altogether as the credit crisis intensifies.

The goes the same for graduates. The big issue is what kind of loans you have.

Most direct government-backed loans such as Federal Stafford and PLUS loans have fixed interest rates. This means the interest rate will remain constant for the life of the loan.

If you took out private loans, which have become increasingly common as students look for new sources to finance the soaring costs of college, they typically have variable rates and are projected to jump this year. Sorry.

Sorry, student.  Sucks to be you.  In the light of the LIBOR manipulation details, that seems particularly callous, along with Davidson’s subsequent attack on Elizabeth Warren for caring about homeowners and consumers and not being “serious”.  It was the influence of the serious people on Davidson (by the way, who was he referring to as his serious sources anyway?  Her colleague Niall Ferguson at Harvard, perhaps? And do “penis years” have something to do with why his word may have carried more weight than hers?) and on our elected officials that lead to the gouging of the taxpayers to pay the bankers’ unconscionable debts on bad bets.  We are talking about trillions of dollars of OUR money, OUR retirements, so that the weekend sailors and golf buddies would not feel inconvenienced.

I used to think my outrage meter was pegged but I have never seen such corruption go unchecked in my lifetime.  What we have here is a bunch of extremely irresponsible and unethical people playing with people’s livelihoods like it wasn’t real money to them.  And it isn’t real money to them.  The tens of thousands of dollars we’ll be collecting each year in measly pensions and social security, that’s nothing.  They can burn through that in a matter of minutes.  If it were several million dollars in Social Security payouts affecting their retirement packages, that might get their attention and they’d be furiously lobbying Congress to save Social Security at all costs.  Social Security and pensions would become holy sacraments. But because we are talking about such piddling amounts that amount to pocket change to the wealthy, it has no real meaning to them.  We might as well be flood victims in Bangladesh, clinging to a few square meters of dry land while the water rises all about us.  Those poor people.  Well, that’ll learn them to farm in a flood zone.

The careers we have lost? Not their problem.  Our children’s college funds, the roofs they have over their heads, the food we put in their mouths, barely registers.  On an individual basis, none of us make enough money to get their attention.  The significance of the figures of our incomes does not arouse their concern.  They are so caught up and preoccupied with making their numbers that they don’t have the time to care about your little problems.  They have jumped to a new level in the game where the sheer volume of money being swapped is intoxicating.  They’re not playing in the real world anymore.

It’s got to stop.  The manipulation of LIBOR was uncovered by the US CFTC.  That means, we’ve been aware of it for some time.  We probably knew about it when Occupy Wall Street was protesting last fall and we probably knew about it when their camps were broken up and they were hauled off to jail and when the DHS sent in their riot troops.  Yep, the Obama administration has known.  And so far, not one banker has been hauled off to jail.  No one has been penalized.

Think about that.  The scope of the LIBOR scandal affects every person who has ever dealt with a bank in the past 7 years.  It’s so outrageously immoral and has caused so much destruction and continues to wreck havoc in Spain, Ireland, Britain, the US, everywhere that if it isn’t prosecuted as a the criminal enterprise that it is, then I can only conclude that our elected officials are complicit.  They had to have known that the banks that are now too big to fail were in fact failing and were disguising the scale of the catastrophe from the public.  Those banks are still in business, thanks to our largess, and no one in the Obama administration, particularly Tim Geithner, has dared to declare them insolvent and break them up as Sheila Bair suggested in 2009. They are now bigger and more dangerous than ever and they are calling the shots about our jobs, retirements and money supply around the world.

Our money went into their bottomless gullets and continues to go in, and yet, they and their political arms have the outrageous gall to insist that we, the hardworking taxpayers who paid in advance for our social security benefits, WE have to take a haircut.  That is what the so-called Grand Bargain is all about, ladies and gentlemen. That’s why we must lose our jobs.  We cost too much.  They think they can dump the blame on us for having to eat and getting old and needy.

We are living in a world that is run by criminals.  You may think that’s they way it’s always been but this is now institutionalized criminality.  No one can be trusted.  And when no one can be trusted, all hell breaks loose.

More on LIBOR:

Boston Globe- How a LIBOR scheme works and what it means to consumers

Joe Nocera- LIBOR’s Dirty Laundry

Yves Smith- Yes, Virginia, the real action in the LIBOR scanda was in the derivatives

Here’s an interesting take on LIBOR from 2007 when banks were manipulating the rate up: Why LIBOR won’t hurt that much.

Also, this Fresh Air interview with Paul Krugman in Oct 2008 is very revealing.  He was right about almost everything except the unemployment rate. (his prediction was too low).  But even more striking is the last 5 minutes of the interview when he talks about the two presidential candidates and why Ben Bernanke was struggling to get a handle on this.  Could it be that the measures were inadequate because the LIBOR rates had been artificially lowered?

Matt Taibbi’s most recent posts in the Rolling Stone:

A Huge Break in the LIBOR Banking Investigation (6/28/2012)

Another Domino Falls in the LIBOR Banking Scam: Royal Bank of Scotland (6/29)

Why is Nobody Freaking out about the LIBOR Banking Scandal? (7/3)

LIBOR Banking Scandal Deepens: Barclays releases damning email, Implicates    British Government (7/4)

Matt Taibbi discusses the LIBOR scandal with Eliot Spitzer:

Monday: Well, that went well

Greece is most seriously displeased over the new austerity measures foist upon it by foreign lenders:

Though it came after days of intense debate and the resignation of several ministers in protest, in the end the vote on the austerity measures was not close: 199 in favor and 74 opposed, with 27 abstentions or blank ballots. The Parliament also gave the government the authority to sign a new loan agreement with the foreign lenders and approve a broader arrangement to reduce the amount Greece must repay to its bondholders.

The new austerity measures include, among others, a 22 percent cut in the benchmark minimum wage and 150,000 government layoffs by 2015 — a bitter prospect in a country ravaged by five years of recession and with unemployment at 21 percent and rising.

But the chaos on the streets of Athens, where more than 80,000 people turned out to protest on Sunday, and in other cities across Greece reflected a growing dread — certainly among Greeks, but also among economists and perhaps even European officials — that the sharp belt-tightening and the bailout money it brings will still not be enough to keep the country from going over a precipice.

Angry protesters in the capital threw rocks at the police, who fired back with tear gas. After nightfall, demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails, setting fire to more than 40 buildings, including a historic theater in downtown Athens, the worst damage in the city since May 2010, when three people were killed when protesters firebombed a bank. There were clashes in Salonika in the north, Patra in the west, Volos in central Greece, and on the islands of Crete and Corfu.

3000 years of history and civilization brought down in a matter of months by Goldman-Sachs.  And they thought the Ottoman Turks were bad.

Let’s not excuse the Greeks.  Their failure to collect taxes is one of the reasons they are in this hole.  That and the fact that no one seemed to be using the same spreadsheet once they got those taxes.  The bigger problem is that they were living Goldman-Sachs values with everyone trying to live in total freedom without government supervision, but they didn’t have Goldman-Sachs thuggish power to break a government’s knees.

What I can’t understand is why we keep having to give in to Goldman-Sachs.  Why is it we citizens of so many countries are powerless to make these assholes eat their losses?

Monday: Blink!

Bethany Beach, DE

huh, did the Republicans blink yesterday over the debt ceiling?  I was forced to watch a lot of talking heads shows on Sunday.  Well, it was better than another Casey Anthony rant fest with Nancy Grace and her vorpal bangs.  The big news yesterday is that Boehner took $2 trillion of the $4 trillion spending cuts the Democrats offered (hey!  that’s the Social Security trust fund you wankers!) off the table because Biden’s offer came with strings: Boehner and the Republicans were going to have to agree to revenue increases.  Taxes, oil, that is, Texas Tea.  Well, the first think ya’ know, Boehner moved away from there.

So, the global economic hostage crisis is on with the Republicans screeching like Banshees on the morning shows about the deficit.  If we bring down spending, businesses will create new jobs.  It sounded too good to be true.  “Oh!”, the average Jane says, scratching her dirty hair, “Is that what does it?  You mean, if we stop spending on government, and let everyone keep their money instead of giving it to the tax collector, I will get my job back making cancer drugs?  How does that happen?”  And the Republican says, “Don’t worry your pretty little head about it.  It’s special Republican fairy dust.  We just sprinkle it on you and the jobs will just fly to you.  No networking involved.  Presto change-O!”

What do these jerks take us for, Cindy-lou Who?

Meanwhile, down at the Delaware beach (nice beaches in Delaware, highly recommended, very clean), I monitored the news on my ipad while the tribe played Password beneath the umbrella tent.  “You’ll never guess what the Obama administration is offering to the Republicans.”

“What?”

“He’s offering to slash Medicare and Social Security.  The average Social Security beneficiary will lose up to $18,000 in income over the course of his/her retirement”

“LOLOLOLOLOL!  Which Democrats?  They’d have to be SUICIDAL”

“Oh, probably all of them.  They got rid of Weiner last month after all.  Steny’s counting his votes and Weiner probably got in the way”

“LOLOLOLOLOL!

“Why are you laughing?  They’re serious.”

“LOLOLOLOLOL!  They can’t possibly be serious”

“Stop laughing!  No, I mean it!, they really want to do it”

“LOLOLOLOLOL!  They would NEVER go along with that.  Anyone who would go along with that would have to be CRAZY.”

I had a sudden flashback to September 11, 2001.  My colleague Yi stood at my desk as we watched the WTC disaster unfold.

“You know why they did that”, she said, “It’s because they think the US is a *indecipherable*”  She grinned a little mockingly.

“What does *indecipherable* mean?  Jeez, I wish I had taken Mandarin and not four years of Spanish that I never had a chance to use.”

“It means”, Yi slowed down, “they think you are like paper with a scary face.”

“A paper tiger?”, I asked, in disbelief, “They think we are all words and no bite?”

I looked at Yi, straight on and made a prediction, sort of like one of those Sybyl types that sit over a crack in the earth that pours forth an intoxicating LD50-ish level of ethylene gas: “Let me tell you, Yi, whoever did this to us has no idea what they’re screwing with.  Americans are born and raised to think of this country as No 1.  No one messes with us and gets away with it.  There is going to be an outpouring of patriotism and flag-waving like you have never seen before.  It will be ferocious.  It will be powerful.  You wait and see.  Before you get home tonight, it will have started.  We are NOT a paper tiger.  We are the greatest military force this world has ever seen and god help the country that poked this sleeping tiger with a stick.  If we’re not careful, we could turn that country into a smoking ember.  Brace yourself because when the tiger is unleashed, it’s going to go a little nuts.”

And it did.

We still think of ourselves as No 1, no matter what the Masters of the Universe think.  Obama and Steny have a long way to go to dislodge that notion.  And dislodging that notion does not make for a very uplifting campaign narrative.  “We’re number 57!” does not go well with the voting public.  Neither does Tim Geithner’s little bit of crepe hanging:

This is still a very tough economy. For a lot of people, it’s going to feel very hard — harder than anything they’ve experienced in a lifetime now — for some time to come.

Yes, why don’t we tell the future cancer patients who can’t get new treatments that it’s going to get very bad now because Obama and Geithner couldn’t figure out a way of jump starting the economy or fix the pharmaceutical industry.  That’s why so many R&D types were laid off with no way to fund expensive new companies that might have discovered ways to save them.  Or we can tell the piano teacher that’s why she is getting fewer students.  Or we can tell the high school student that her school dropped *the entire language department* because it is going to feel very hard for her lifetime.

The harder it feels, the angrier we’re all going to get.

And it happened on Obama’s watch with the Democrats’ help.

The sunbathers are right, it is laughable.

In other news:

Lambert scored a gig on Virtually Speaking with Avedon Carol yesterday.  Well, there were some technical difficulties but take a listen anyway.

 

 

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