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      I spent a half-hour tonight sitting in the hallway, waiting out a tornado warning. It never hit here (I don’t think we got more than a sprinkle of rain) but it did hit the Hellmouth, where I used to live north of here. It hit the local mall, and took down a nearby car dealership … Continue reading Tornado night
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      Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – August 1, 2021 by Tony Wikrent Strategic Political Economy U.S. Population Growth, an Economic Driver, Grinds to a Halt [Wall Street Journal, via Naked Capitalism 7-26-2021] America’s weak population growth, already held back by a decadelong fertility slump, is dropping closer to zero because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In h […]
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High Noon for Goldman Sachs

A couple of days ago, Alice Schroeder wrote a piece at Bloomberg about a friend of a friend who works at Goldman Sachs. Apparently the bankers are getting a little nervous about blowback from the working class.

“I just wrote my first reference for a gun permit,” said a friend, who told me of swearing to the good character of a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker who applied to the local police for a permit to buy a pistol. The banker had told this friend of mine that senior Goldman people have loaded up on firearms and are now equipped to defend themselves if there is a populist uprising against the bank.

Schroeder was also able to get confirmation from the NYPD that a number of bankers have been getting gun permits. Wow, I’m glad to know the Goldman Sachs guys are running scared. Schroeder notes that Goldman’s CEO, Lloyd Blankenfein (whom she nicknames “Cool Hand Lloyd”), has been nervous for quite a long time. Get this–he installed a security gate at his house a couple of months before Bear Stearns went down. How very prescient of him. Schroeder writes:

…talk of Goldman and guns plays right into the way Wall-Streeters like to think of themselves. Even those who were bailed out believe they are tough, macho Clint Eastwoods of the financial frontier, protecting the fistful of dollars in one hand with the Glock in the other. The last thing they want is to be so reasonably paid that the peasants have no interest in lynching them.

Hmm…I like the movie references. So the bankers are resorting to guns so they can make A Few Dollars More before the proles can Hang ’em High?

According to Peter Cohan of Daily Finance, what is making the bankers so anxious is that they will soon be getting their outlandish end-of-the-year bonuses, while the rest of us struggle to make ends meet and have no idea how we’re going to buy any Christmas gifts. Cohan writes:

Once news of the final tally on Goldman’s bonuses breaks, the bank is going to face an even tougher public relations campaign. Goldman’s partners are expected to receive record bonuses this year. Some bankers fear a repeat of what happened in March to the AIG Financial Products employees who received $165 million in bonuses. Once word got out about the bonuses, demonstrators went to the employees’ homes and protested on their front yards.

What Goldman execs need to remember is that the firm wouldn’t be doing so well if it weren’t for the public’s munificence. After all, $12.9 billion of the AIG bailout money went to Goldman. And it is still enjoying $52 billion in low-interest loans from the U.S. government to finance its trading profits.

Cohan even argues that Goldman should be offering reparations to people who have lost their homes and jobs. Somehow I don’t think that is going to happen, but I’m glad to learn that these thugs in three-piece suits are feeling a little bit edgy.

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Oprah introduces America to civilized (socialist) Denmark

I stole this video from Lenore Skenazy at Freerangekids.  HER focus was on the fact that two month old twins were allowed to nap in the sunshine. Outside.  Unattended.  And no one called the cops on the parents for child endangerment or neglect.  It turns out the entire country is *full* of parents who leave their adorable blonde babies on the street in their prams for some crazy nut job to snatch away.  And I guess that there are so many of them hanging around that there’s not much temptation anymore.  Most kids do not get stolen.

But I digress.

The real story is that these incredibly beautiful, simplicity loving, high tax paying, Ikea addicts are the happiest people in the world.  They say they are Democrats but Oprah says they’re socialists.  Au Contraire, says the swimsuit model (presumably with a PhD in architecture).  They are merely civilized.  It is civilized to take care of the poor and the old.  It is civilized to spend time with your family and friends.  It is civilized to have fewer things so that you can have more freedom.  What a concept!

Too bad Oprah didn’t do this last year instead of helping to force that Republican lite, corporate loving, uber shmoozer on us for president. I guess it’s possible for even Oprah to get rolled every now and then.

Is she trying to atone or is she trying to get us accustomed to wanting a lot less, now that her White House friend has bungled the recovery?  Who knows?  I wouldn’t mind living a Danish life and I suspect there are a lot of Americans who when faced with another $4000/month mortgage payment on the McMansion while they wait on pins and needles to see if they still have a job, would find a small flat and a resilient social safety net in Copenhagen just charming.  I just hope it isn’t too late for America to get the message.

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Saturday Morning at The Confluence

Good morning everyone! What are you reading this morning? I recently started the new book by John Perkins, Hoodwinked: An Economic Hit Man Reveals Why the World Financial Markets Imploded–and What We Need to Do to Remake Them.

In the news, I’m half-heartedly following the health care bill’s progress and wondering what is going to happen with the Fort Hood story. Even though there seems to be a lot happening, I get the feeling that absolutely no progress is being made on anything whatsoever. Is it just me?


SENATE HEALTH CARE REFORM BILL

I know I should be all worked up about the health care bill, but I’m not. The Senate will have a vote tonight at 8PM to see if debate on the bill can go forward, but who cares? The bill doesn’t seem worth all the months of arguing and haranguing. The politicians haven’t listened to the people’s concerns at all, as far as I can tell. It has all been just a big kabuki dance leading up to the next corporate bailout.

The New York Times has an editorial on the situation, but it’s hard to tell if they are endorsing the bill or not:

The Senate bill is weaker in many respects than the trillion-dollar bill passed by the House, which would cover more of the uninsured and provide greater subsidies. It would postpone many reforms until 2014, a year later than the House bill, delaying benefits for millions of Americans. It also lacks an explicit mandate on employers to offer coverage. The House bill does a better job of closing the gap in Medicare that leaves many elderly beneficiaries struggling to pay for medicines.

Conservative Democratic senators whose votes will be needed to break a Republican filibuster are restive over the costs of the overall plan and over including a public option, even with an opportunity for states to opt out. Some may also object to provisions that would allow enrollees to buy plans that cover abortions on the exchanges using their own money, a more reasonable standard than the virtual ban on abortion coverage under the House bill. Despite these concerns, conservative Democrats owe it to the nation to help break a Republican filibuster and allow debate to proceed.

Whatever….

More health care reform links:

Reuters: Healthcare bill faces first U.S. Senate test

Bloomberg: Reid, Democrats Face First Big Senate Test on Health-Care Bill

CNN International: What to expect in Senate’s Saturday health care vote

Politics Daily: Pollster Celinda Lake: Where Women Really Stand on Health Care

Washington Post: Health Bill Opponents Turn Up the Volume


FORT HOOD SHOOTINGS

News 8 Austin: Hasan to have first court hearing Saturday

Wall Street Journal: Army Taps General to Probe Shootings

AFP: Fort Hood Shooter Talked with Radical Cleric

Boston Globe Editorial: Questions swirl in Fort Hood

CRUCIAL QUESTIONS need to be answered about the motives and contacts of Colonel Nidal Hasan, the suspect charged in the mass murder at Fort Hood, Texas. Was the army psychiatrist radicalized by a Yemeni-American imam who had known two of the 9/11 hijackers and who called the Fort Hood massacre a “heroic act’’? Could the killings have been prevented if the FBI had notified the army about an exchange of e-mails the bureau was monitoring between Hasan and the radical imam?

These are questions that may not be the focus of prosecutors but are rightfully the concern of congressional committees with oversight responsibilities. Irritating as Senator Joe Lieberman’s grandstanding on other matters might be, the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee was doing what needs to be done when he opened hearings Thursday to determine if federal agencies “missed signals or failed to connect the dots in a way that enabled Hasan to carry out his deadly plan.’’

LA Times: Senate inquiry into Ft. Hood misplaced

Sen. Joe Lieberman insists on pushing ahead with a Senate inquiry into the mass murder at Ft. Hood, despite White House and Pentagon anxieties that the probe could compromise the prosecution of alleged killer Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan.

It’s always interesting to see how many friends due process has in times of extreme stress. Given what looks like the security authorities’ wretched mishandling of the Hasan case — the guy appears to have done everything but paste an “Osama bin Laden Rocks” bumper sticker on his car — there’s every reason for the administration and the FBI to want to put off a legislative reckoning for as long as possible. “We want to guarantee everyone a fair trial” is always good cover. But in this case, it has the additional virtue of being true.

Lieberman isn’t the only Senator calling the Fort Hood attack “terrorism.” Now Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan is saying it too:

The Hill: Sen. Levin: Fort Hood shooting rampage was likely a terrorist attack

“It probably could be labeled as a terrorist attack. I am not uncomfortable with thinking that’s the likely outcome here or the likely accurate description,” Levin added.

[….]

Levin said his panel has to receive a number of closed-door briefings from the military and other involved agencies before it holds a public hearing. Levin did not offer a timeline as to when the hearings will occur but said he is committed to holding them.

He also stressed that Congress has an important oversight role to play in regard to the shooting and identifying deficiencies within military processes and policies.

This could get ugly.


THE ECONOMY

NYT: New Consensus Sees Stimulus Package as Worthy Step

WSJ: Goldman Holders Miffed at Bonuses

WSJ: House Attacks Fed, Treasury

Obama Says Asia Trip Focused on Economy and Creating U.S. Jobs


ODDS AND ENDS

Man arrested at LAX with fifteen live lizards strapped to chest

In an apparently cold-blooded attempt at smuggling, a Lomita man was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport this week with more than a dozen wriggling lizards strapped to his chest.

Michael Plank, 40, was detained by U.S. Customs agents after they discovered 15 live lizards stuffed into his money belt, officials with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said Friday.

Ancient Crocs Ate Dinosaurs

Thursday, University of Chicago dinosaur hunter Paul Sereno writes about five skeletons of ancient crocodiles that lived 100 million years ago.

“We have crocs that ate plants and galloped and ate dinosaurs and were flat as a board,” said Sereno, who unearthed the skeletons over the last several years in the Sahara.


Tips for the Admissions Test … to Kindergarten

Test preparation has long been a big business catering to students taking SATs and admissions exams for law, medical and other graduate schools. But the new clientele is quite a bit younger: 3- and 4-year-olds whose parents hope that a little assistance — costing upward of $1,000 for several sessions — will help them win coveted spots in the city’s gifted and talented public kindergarten classes.

Motivated by a recession putting private schools out of reach and concern about the state of regular public education, parents — some wealthy, some not — are signing up at companies like Bright Kids NYC. Bright Kids, which opened this spring in the financial district, has some 200 students receiving tutoring, most of them for the gifted exams, for up to $145 a session and 80 children on a waiting list for a weekend “boot camp” program.

Quick restart of Big Bang machine stuns scientists

The nuclear physicists working on the Large Hadron Collider were surprised that they could so quickly get beams of protons whizzing near the speed of light during the restart late Friday, said James Gillies, spokesman for the European Organization for Nuclear Research.
The machine was heavily damaged by a simple electrical fault in September last year.
Some scientists had gone home early Friday and had to be called back as the project jumped ahead, Gillies said.

HAVE A STUPENDOUS SATURDAY, EVERYONE!!!!


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Friday Morning News and Views: Friday the 13th Edition

2007-04-16

Looming Nor'easter in New England

Good Morning Conflucians! It’s a gloomy Friday the 13th here in the Boston area. I guess we’ll be getting hit with the tail end of Hurricane Ida over the next couple of days. I’m feeling a bit lethargic this morning, but I’ll try to locate a few interesting news links nonetheless. Please add your own in the comments!

Did you know this is the third Friday the 13th in 2009? Maybe that’s why this year has been such a disaster. Anyway, its supposed to make today “extra freaky.”


THERE IS HOPE FOR THEM YET

Paul Krugman is finally back to criticizing administration policy–without mentioning the President. But it’s a step in the right direction. Will Krugman be summoned to the White House for another Koolaid injection? He explains why Germany isn’t suffering from massive unemployment as the U.S. is.

Here in America, the philosophy behind jobs policy can be summarized as “if you grow it, they will come.” That is, we don’t really have a jobs policy: we have a G.D.P. policy. The theory is that by stimulating overall spending we can make G.D.P. grow faster, and this will induce companies to stop firing and resume hiring.

The alternative would be policies that address the job issue more directly. We could, for example, have New-Deal-style employment programs. Perhaps such a thing is politically impossible now — Glenn Beck would describe anything like the Works Progress Administration as a plan to recruit pro-Obama brownshirts — but we should note, for the record, that at their peak, the W.P.A. and the Civilian Conservation Corps employed millions of Americans, at relatively low cost to the budget.

Alternatively, or in addition, we could have policies that support private-sector employment. Such policies could range from labor rules that discourage firing to financial incentives for companies that either add workers or reduce hours to avoid layoffs.

And that’s what the Germans have done. Germany came into the Great Recession with strong employment protection legislation. This has been supplemented with a “short-time work scheme,” which provides subsidies to employers who reduce workers’ hours rather than laying them off. These measures didn’t prevent a nasty recession, but Germany got through the recession with remarkably few job losses.

I’m really starting to wish I could move to a European country–preferably one with universal, affordable health care like Italy or France. On the other hand, I love the wide open spaces here in the USA and I would prefer to stay here if I could. Sometimes I even fantasize about moving to Western North Dakota near Theodore Roosevelt National Park or maybe way up near Canada where I can live really cheaply and relatively free from government interference. Not that I’d join a militia or anything, lol, just that I’d be less noticeable to the authorities and maybe I could survive the authoritarian crackdown that I think is coming when the economy really collapses.

I have made fun of Chris Bowers and Open left over the past couple of years because of their slavish adoration of Obama, but I am starting to read them again. They are really standing up to their former “precious” of late. I’ve always like Paul Rosenberg’s work, and Natasha Chart has been on fire. Here’s her latest:

DNC, OFA Abandon Women In Healthcare Action Alert

Nancy Keenan, head of the national NARAL group (and most obedient of the obedient losers) was apparently personally promised before the health care battle by the Obama administration that they would look after the organization’s constituency interests in the health care bill and preserve the status quo. In return, NARAL was asked to stand down its activism.
They did. So with all their colleagues, they got caught with their pants down when a floor vote on the Stupak amendment was imminent.

Today, I got a press release from the DNC, and their Organizing For America project, on their plan to drum up more support for the health care reform bill: targeting Republicans.

It says nothing about women’s healthcare. Nothing. Like it isn’t even at issue. OFA is still watching NARAL’s back, women’s backs, as well as they always have.

OFA is crowing about the 500,000 phone calls they’ve prompted on the health care issue. Were any of them centered around preserving reproductive health care when it mattered? Ha! As Femlaw says at the link, “The idea is to build organizational capacity, so when really critical moments in the campaign happened, OFA could deliver huge numbers.”

Targeting Republicans is critical. Encouraging Democrats to stand together for women’s health and rights, not critical.

Even The Huffington Post has begun to rag on Obama’s policies. Here’s the big headlined post this morning:

Goldman To Private Insurers: No Health Care Reform At All Is Best by Sam Stein

A Goldman Sachs analysis of health care legislation has concluded that, as far as the bottom line for insurance companies is concerned, the best thing to do is nothing. A close second would be passing a watered-down version of the Senate Finance Committee’s bill.

A study put together by Goldman in mid-October looks at the estimated stock performance of the private insurance industry under four variations of reform legislation. The study focused on the five biggest insurers whose shares are traded on Wall Street: Aetna, UnitedHealth, WellPoint, CIGNA and Humana.

That must be why the Goldman Sachs administration Obama administration is doing it’s darndest to kill health care reform by excluding women’s health coverage.


LATEST BREAKING STORIES

This news is just breaking around the world: ‘NY trial’ for key 9/11 suspects

Alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be sent from Guantanamo Bay to New York for trial in a civilian court, reports say.

Citing unnamed government officials, the reports said he would be transferred from the US prison camp in Cuba with four other suspects.

US Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to announce the decision later, the officials say.

Mr Mohammed has admitted planning the 9/11 attacks, the US military says.

That seems like a step in the right direction. Maybe we will see Guantanamo closed after all. I’d sure like to see that happen.

Politico: After spending binge, White House says it will focus on deficits

Bloomberg:
Home-Purchase Index in US Plunges to Lowest Level Since 2000

NYT: Among Obama Aides, Debate Intensifies on Troop Levels

The Nation: Whose Team Is It, Anyway? by Katha Pollitt

The Hill: Tensions brim between GOP and CEOs over healthcare reform

The Latest Lecture from Charles Krauthammer: Medicalizing mass murder (he does have a few good points)


WEEKEND ESCAPES

What’s Friday the thirteenth without the release of a big horror/disaster movie?

‘2012’ Cheat Sheet: Everything You Need To Know

It’s 2009 and a couple scientists discover the sun is freaking out and heating up the Earth’s core. Good news for anyone who likes a nice subterranean sauna. Bad news for anyone who wants the Earth not to fall to pieces in the few years.

Disaster kingpin Roland Emmerich’s “2012” then cuts to the year 2012, which looks pretty much like 2009, except the governments of the world are scrambling to come up with a secret survival plan for humanity. Which they are going to need — stat! — because it’s not too long before a few Los Angeles tremors make way for mega-quakes, lava-gushing volcanoes and tsunamis that no amount of human fortitude can combat.

Into this apocalyptic mess comes John Cusack’s struggling novelist Jackson Curtis, who has to rescue his ex-wife and kids while trying not to pee himself.

This one, on the other hand, looks really worthwhile, even if you need to bring a box of Kleenex with you.

Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire

It’s hard to believe that a movie that traffics so operatically in images of brutality and squalor can be so fleet, assured and lyrical. But such breathtaking contradictions abound in “Precious,” which in the course of introducing the viewers to unspeakable despair, manages to imbue them with an exhilarating sense of hope — if not in a bright and cheery future for the film’s beleaguered protagonist, then at least in the possibilities of cinema as a bold, fluent and adamantly expressive art form.

That beleaguered protagonist is Claireece “Precious” Jones (played in an astonishing debut by Gabourey Sidibe), a 16-year-old girl who, as the movie opens, is still attending junior high school in 1980s Harlem. Morbidly obese, functionally illiterate, pregnant with her second child after being raped by her father, Precious lives with her mother, Mary (Mo’Nique), in a squalid apartment where she endures the latter’s near-constant verbal, physical and sexual abuse. Precious’s only escape from this lurid tableau is rich, glittery fantasy life, in which she has a “light-skinned boyfriend” and “good hair,” dresses in ball gowns and carries a little terrier.


HAVE A FABULOUS FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH!

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Friday Morning News and Views

balloon001

Good morning Conflucians! You know it’s a slow news day when the top story on all the popular news sites is a about a six-year old boy who may or may not have helped his family fake a crisis in order to get on TV. The New York Times even had this story linked on its front page! Supposedly, the boy, Falcon Heene of Fort Collins, CO., had been carried off by a helium balloon, and there was a frantic search until the boy was found hiding in the attic of his parents’ house in fear of punishment. According to the NYT The Lede blog,

But on Thursday evening, after Falcon and his family appeared on CNN, the blogosphere was skeptical. The Internet — from social networking forums to comments on news media Web sites — came alive with suggestions that the balloon incident might have been staged.

Here is a clip from the family’s interview with Wolf Blitzer, filling in for Larry King last night:

The suspicions began after the family was interviewed on the CNN program “Larry King Live,” which was being hosted by Wolf Blitzer.

As law enforcement personnel searched frantically for the boy, Falcon Heene said he had heard people in the house calling his name, calling for him to come out. When asked on camera by his father, Richard Heene, why he hadn’t responded, the boy said, “You guys said we did this for the show.”

Richard Heene looked uncomfortable upon hearing the comment, but later in the program said he was “appalled” at any suggestion that the incident had been staged.

I can testify from personal experience that six-year-old boys are not very good at keeping secrets. We’ll have to wait and see how this thing plays out, I guess.

The New York Daily News has more lurid details on the “balloon boy” story:

The kind that chases storms for fun, volunteers for “Wife Swap,” and brags that their kids have no fear.

Amateur scientist Richard Heene and wife, Mayumi, were bucking convention long before the youngest of their three sons untethered a silver balloon and sparked panic across Colorado.

The 48-year-old dad has no formal science training but is obsessed with extreme weather and extraterrestrials and fantasizes about meeting “real aliens from outer space” on his MySpace page.

There is even more weird stuff about this family at the Denver Post

We didn’t know the Heenes were weather chasers (who slept in their clothes to be at the ready) or extraterrestrial chasers or, for that matter, ABC reality-TV chasers.

Or that ABC would describe the family for its “Wife Swap” audience this way: “Richard calls Mayumi his ‘ninja wife’; she maintains equipment, drives the storm-mobile, films tornadoes and waits with the kids while Richard . . . heads into the eye of the storm and launches rockets to measure magnetic forces. At home the family are as chaotic as a twister: The kids have no table manners and throw themselves around the house, and while Richard devotes every moment to his research, he expects Mayumi to cook, clean and run the house without any help.”

And here’s the LATEST BREATHLESS UPDATE: the balloon boy threw up twice in two different TV appearances! You’ll have to google it, because I’m afraid to link to AP stories. Continue reading

The Culture of Cannibalism in US Politics: The Triumph of The Cyclop’s Values Over Democratic Citizenship

{The first essay in this series introduced a model I created to explain the cycle of corruption that plagues US politics. This essay looks into the roots of this corruption. It takes a long time to get to the payoff. Further, the conclusion is somewhat ex nihilo if you have not read the first essay. This said, for those who dare, I hope you find it worth the read.}
polyphemus2-3717

Polyphemos the cyclops would have eaten Odysseus, if his survival was dependent on the moral virtues of Silenus’s satyrs. Fortunately for Odysseus, and Silenus and his lot, Odysseus could depend on his fellow citizens. If Polyphemos had the majority of America’s elected representatives depending on him for their survival in his cave, the way that they are presently beholden to lobbyists’ money for their electoral survival, he could have had a ready supply of citizens for his daily meals.

Cyclopean virtues regularly triumph over the virtues of democratic citizenship in the political landscape of the United States. Given that the Declaration of Independence embodies the spirit and principles that ground the virtues of democratic citizenship, why is it that cyclopes, who eat humans, win the day in America? Answering this question requires that we journey back to Attic Greece and her proto-democratic foundations. Continue reading

Common Sense and the sensus communis: anatomy of an American pressure cooker

romesenate1

Gay-Lussac

The pressure of a fixed mass and fixed volume of a gas is directly proportional to the gas’s temperature.

This relationship is known as the Gay-Lussac’s Law and a pressure cooker is an example of the law in practice. Cooking under pressure creates the possibility of cooking with high temperature liquids because the boiling point of a liquid increases as its pressure increases. High pressure and high heat can result in delectable dishes.

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Cooking under pressure can be also dangerous because as liquids change phase into gases their volume expands greatly. For example, at atmospheric pressure the volume of steam is about 1700 times greater than the volume of water. To prevent pressure cookers from becoming bombs, relief devices (pop safety valves) are employed that are capable of relieving all of the steam the vessel is capable of producing.

America the Beautiful Pressure Cooker

The political pressure cooker is beginning to heat up. The power brokers and institutions that drive the nation have arrived unannounced on the doorsteps of America like a gaggle of unwanted, high maintenance relatives that demand hospitality for an unforeseeable time and that won’t take no for answer. Furthermore, they’ve announced that more relatives are on the way. Whatever plans America’s householders had, they’ve just gone out the window, with their household budgie and the relatives’ cat in hot pursuit.

People are justifiably angry with this incursion. Their budgie might not have been much, but it was “their budgie”, nurtured from birth into what it had become. Justifiably angry householders are trying to work out why the relatives arrived on their doorsteps and why they brought their fucking cat. Continue reading

Manic Monday News Links

manicmonday

Good Morning Conflucians! Here is my frantically rushed summary of the latest news. I may add a few more odds and ends.

Politics and Politicians

Paterson Says He Will Run Despite White House Pressure

At a parade in Harlem, the governor refused to discuss his conversations with President Obama’s political team, which has made clear to Mr. Paterson in recent days that it has lost confidence in him and does not believe he can be elected next fall.

Asked how he would run as a Democrat without White House support, Mr. Paterson said, “I am running for governor right now. I have no idea — I am a candidate for governor.”

“I have had a number of different conversations with a number of different people,” he added. “They are confidential.”

Still, even as Mr. Paterson publicly vowed to continue, two prominent Democrats who had spoken to him over the weekend described him as mulling his options and open to the possibility of withdrawing from the race. The two spoke on condition of anonymity because the conversations were intended to be confidential.

RNC chief thinks it’s “curious” that Obama would ask a black governor to step aside.

“I found that to be stunning, that the White House would send word to one of only two black governors in the country not to run for reelection,” Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), said on CBS’s Face The Nation.

Steele was commenting on a report in The New York Times that said an intermediary of President Barack Obama sent word to Paterson that he should not run, considering his low approval ratings. Asked by host Bob Schieffer if race played a role in the White House’s decision to ask Paterson to back off from campaigning, Steele said he didn’t think so.

“It raises a curious point for me. I think Gov. Paterson’s numbers are about the same as Gov. Corzine’s. The president is with Gov. Corzine,” Steele said. The RNC chairman was referring to Gov. Jon Corzine, the Democratic New Jersey governor who is facing a tough reelection bid this year.

Obama’s Sunday Media blitz

He made appearances on five different TV networks yesterday, and I missed every single one of them. Continue reading

Is it absurd to try to weather the storm?

stormIs it beyond our ken to maintain a noble purpose as we guide our battered ships of state through the dark shadows of this mild squall of an economic crisis? Whom of us will risk life and limb to keep the ships afloat? Who will cast away possessions for the same purpose? Who will act to subvert these sacrifices? How will the storm weather us, as we weather the storm?

I ask these question because these darkling foreshadows are pallid compared to those that will attend the forthcoming Category Six typhoon of environmental collapse. How will that storm weather us, if we weather the storm? Given the tendency of people to adopt default positions in crisis situations, how we perform now, should give us some indication of how we’ll perform in much more dire circumstances.

Curiously, given the introduction, the point of this post is not to delve into the ugliness which portends. The point of this post is to ask the question, “How should we behave when faced with the absurdity that the cultural virtues that we cherish undermine the existential preconditions of our culture?” In other words, what does a wine-inspired poet do, when he finds that greater amounts of drink are fueling his muse, but not curing his cirrhosis and, in fact, killing him?

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Uncle Sam Contracts Frater Magnus to Safeguard his Healthcare Liberty

Lincoln_A

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time. – Abraham Lincoln

There’s a sucker born every minute. – P.T. Barnum

BenjaminFranklinWe, the People, are born every minute. The last ten years provides ample evidence about the regularity to which Lincoln alludes.

Geese are but Geese tho’ we may think ’em Swans; and Truth will be Truth tho’ it sometimes prove mortifying and distasteful. – Benjamin Franklin

The Constitution of the United States is like a manual for building a nation of equals before the law. It embodies the wisdom that some people gain power and freedom by stealing the power and freedom of others. It enacts principles to thwart those who conduct such thefts. “Liberty” is a common code word for describing the nation’s promise of power and freedom to its citizens.

Interestingly, the founders were all too aware that the apparatus they made to uphold the liberty of the nation’s citizens, i.e. the government, could also fall under the influence of those who would thieve the liberty of others. Accordingly, citizens must be mindful of what they, and others, ask of their government, while using the government as a tool to promote liberty, and other Constitutional and DOI objectives, and thwart liberty thieves. Unfortunately, some citizens are so focused on defending their liberty from the government that they lose sight of the reason that the government was created, i.e. they lose sight of the enemies of liberty. They are so focussed on the tree, that they lose sight of the forest that is being clearcut all around them. Continue reading