Archive for Gordon Solberg

No compromise with their separate reality

“A populace deprived of the ability to separate lies from truth, Myocarditis
that has become hostage to the fictional semblance of reality put forth by pseudo-events, opisthorchiasis
is no longer capable of sustaining a free society.”
Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion

“The tyranny most corrosive to democracy is not the tyranny of money but the tyranny of illusion.”
Benjamin Barber in The Nation

By Steve Klinger

The most frightening thing about the current state of the crumbling American Empire (aka democracy) isn’t military, political or even economic in nature – it’s cognitive. It is one thing to conduct a dialogue with those who dispute your point of view due to a different interpretation of facts, knowledge, logic or reason; it is quite another to try to communicate with those living in a different reality that values none of those concepts.

It’s like two people driving cars in opposite directions.  One has a view of the road and the other is looking at a video simulation. Multiply this by many millions and you can begin to comprehend the scale of the traffic wreck in which this nation is about to find itself. For the most part, the countless tons of metal have not yet collided, the human occupants have not yet been bloodied and mangled, but the squeal of the brakes is chilling as we hold our collective breath, anticipating the catastrophic impact.

The drivers looking through clear glass see heavy traffic but a possible way forward, if the rules of the road are obeyed. The others are steering to a screen that shows monsters and terrorists to be struck down, then switches randomly and in rapid order to American Idol, Glenn Beck, NASCAR and Sarah Palin’s Alaska. Barack Obama stands in the intersection with a whistle and a flashlight, eager to explain the inner workings of traffic control, but no one will listen, so he tells the drivers with clear windshields to come to a halt.

Hyperbole? Maybe so, but then the degree of cognitive dissonance in 21st-century America is unprecedented. In a society driven by unfettered free enterprise, controlled by an insatiable plutocracy, all the tools of Constitutional governance are breaking down as virtual wealth evaporates and real wealth drains into the richest pockets, and with it, political power. Blend this with a culture that values hedonism, hero-worship, distraction, violence, ignorance and addiction and it should come as no surprise that trouble lies ahead on every horizon.

Given its great wealth of natural resources and its centuries of success in dominating and exploiting those obstacles in its path to world dominion, it has taken a while for this nation to hit the wall. But now, running out of frontiers and resources, and faced with rising competition from hungrier, more disciplined, less decadent societies, the U.S. is unable to sustain the growth that fuels its lifestyle. All the complexities of modern civilization have robbed it one by one of obvious solutions, such as slavery, colonialism and wholesale outsourcing. Bereft of its former industrial production but with its appetites unslaked, the beast starts to devour itself through its one remaining industry: finance.

The rabble, drugged into complacency by the illusion of middle-class comforts and upper-class dreams, doesn’t begin to worry until all those well-laid plans of affluence and leisure start to run afoul of some very persistent realities: unemployment, foreclosure, immigrants, competition, declining wealth, natural disasters.

Under these conditions, fear, uncertainty, self-doubt and, yes, anger, quite naturally begin to arise. But given the illusions on which so many millions of Americans were raised – fantasies of wealth, happiness and success – is it surprising that in time of crisis the ability to reason or even value rationality should fail them?

Compound this with a cunning ability on the part of the media and politicians who serve as the mouthpieces for the plutocracy to find constant scapegoats for the masses to blame, to ignite culture wars in which champions of nonviolence, sharing, compassion and social justice are portrayed as elitist and conspiratorial. Hearkening back to those times of pestilence and famine when the primitive portions of the brain dictated human behavior, the puppetmasters sway their minions by invoking primal emotions that resonate with fear and fundamentalism. Thus can evolution theory come to be equated with creationism, and global warming be rationalized and bigotry justified.

Thus can someone like Sarah Palin do no wrong in the eyes of those who idolize her. To her supporters, the more she reveals ignorance, spews hypocritical platitudes and butchers words, the more admirably antithetical she becomes to the educated, reasonable, articulate “elitists” who put her down. Even quitting her elected position as Alaska’s governor doesn’t diminish her appeal because she has managed to personify the “rogue” image that contrasts with the career politicians from whom America needs to be “taken back.”

The movie Idiocracy hilariously portrayed a nation of dysfunctional morons 500 years in the future, but it begged the obvious question of whether it will take that long or there will be any nation left to govern. And in its broad satire, it failed to distinguish between a decline in pure intelligence and the more insidious reality of a culturally induced rejection of learning and reason, knowledge and science, logic and understanding.

Either way, the incapacity of the masses plays into the hands of those in whom the power really resides. It’s almost as if they planned it that way. The question to ask may not be whether Idiocracy takes place 500 years too late but whether 1984 was set 30 years too early.
“A populace deprived of the ability to separate lies from truth, Myocarditis
that has become hostage to the fictional semblance of reality put forth by pseudo-events, opisthorchiasis
is no longer capable of sustaining a free society.”
Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion

“The tyranny most corrosive to democracy is not the tyranny of money but the tyranny of illusion.”
Benjamin Barber in The Nation

By Steve Klinger

The most frightening thing about the current state of the crumbling American Empire (aka democracy) isn’t military, political or even economic in nature – it’s cognitive. It is one thing to conduct a dialogue with those who dispute your point of view due to a different interpretation of facts, knowledge, logic or reason; it is quite another to try to communicate with those living in a different reality that values none of those concepts.

It’s like two people driving cars in opposite directions.  One has a view of the road and the other is looking at a video simulation. Multiply this by many millions and you can begin to comprehend the scale of the traffic wreck in which this nation is about to find itself. For the most part, the countless tons of metal have not yet collided, the human occupants have not yet been bloodied and mangled, but the squeal of the brakes is chilling as we hold our collective breath, anticipating the catastrophic impact.

The drivers looking through clear glass see heavy traffic but a possible way forward, if the rules of the road are obeyed. The others are steering to a screen that shows monsters and terrorists to be struck down, then switches randomly and in rapid order to American Idol, Glenn Beck, NASCAR and Sarah Palin’s Alaska. Barack Obama stands in the intersection with a whistle and a flashlight, eager to explain the inner workings of traffic control, but no one will listen, so he tells the drivers with clear windshields to come to a halt.

Hyperbole? Maybe so, but then the degree of cognitive dissonance in 21st-century America is unprecedented. In a society driven by unfettered free enterprise, controlled by an insatiable plutocracy, all the tools of Constitutional governance are breaking down as virtual wealth evaporates and real wealth drains into the richest pockets, and with it, political power. Blend this with a culture that values hedonism, hero-worship, distraction, violence, ignorance and addiction and it should come as no surprise that trouble lies ahead on every horizon.

Given its great wealth of natural resources and its centuries of success in dominating and exploiting those obstacles in its path to world dominion, it has taken a while for this nation to hit the wall. But now, running out of frontiers and resources, and faced with rising competition from hungrier, more disciplined, less decadent societies, the U.S. is unable to sustain the growth that fuels its lifestyle. All the complexities of modern civilization have robbed it one by one of obvious solutions, such as slavery, colonialism and wholesale outsourcing. Bereft of its former industrial production but with its appetites unslaked, the beast starts to devour itself through its one remaining industry: finance.

The rabble, drugged into complacency by the illusion of middle-class comforts and upper-class dreams, doesn’t begin to worry until all those well-laid plans of affluence and leisure start to run afoul of some very persistent realities: unemployment, foreclosure, immigrants, competition, declining wealth, natural disasters.

Under these conditions, fear, uncertainty, self-doubt and, yes, anger, quite naturally begin to arise. But given the illusions on which so many millions of Americans were raised – fantasies of wealth, happiness and success – is it surprising that in time of crisis the ability to reason or even value rationality should fail them?

Compound this with a cunning ability on the part of the media and politicians who serve as the mouthpieces for the plutocracy to find constant scapegoats for the masses to blame, to ignite culture wars in which champions of nonviolence, sharing, compassion and social justice are portrayed as elitist and conspiratorial. Hearkening back to those times of pestilence and famine when the primitive portions of the brain dictated human behavior, the puppetmasters sway their minions by invoking primal emotions that resonate with fear and fundamentalism. Thus can evolution theory come to be equated with creationism, and global warming be rationalized and bigotry justified.

Thus can someone like Sarah Palin do no wrong in the eyes of those who idolize her. To her supporters, the more she reveals ignorance, spews hypocritical platitudes and butchers words, the more admirably antithetical she becomes to the educated, reasonable, articulate “elitists” who put her down. Even quitting her elected position as Alaska’s governor doesn’t diminish her appeal because she has managed to personify the “rogue” image that contrasts with the career politicians from whom America needs to be “taken back.”

The movie Idiocracy hilariously portrayed a nation of dysfunctional morons 500 years in the future, but it begged the obvious question of whether it will take that long or there will be any nation left to govern. And in its broad satire, it failed to distinguish between a decline in pure intelligence and the more insidious reality of a culturally induced rejection of learning and reason, knowledge and science, logic and understanding.

Either way, the incapacity of the masses plays into the hands of those in whom the power really resides. It’s almost as if they planned it that way. The question to ask may not be whether Idiocracy takes place 500 years too late but whether 1984 was set 30 years too early.
“A populace deprived of the ability to separate lies from truth, find
that has become hostage to the fictional semblance of reality put forth by pseudo-events, hospital
is no longer capable of sustaining a free society.”
Chris Hedges, dermatologist
Empire of Illusion

“The tyranny most corrosive to democracy is not the tyranny of money but the tyranny of illusion.”
Benjamin Barber in The Nation

By Steve Klinger

The most frightening thing about the current state of the crumbling American Empire (aka democracy) isn’t military, political or even economic in nature – it’s cognitive. It is one thing to conduct a dialogue with those who dispute your point of view due to a different interpretation of facts, knowledge, logic or reason; it is quite another to try to communicate with those living in a different reality that values none of those concepts.

It’s like two people driving cars in opposite directions.  One has a view of the road and the other is looking at a video simulation. Multiply this by many millions and you can begin to comprehend the scale of the traffic wreck in which this nation is about to find itself. For the most part, the countless tons of metal have not yet collided, the human occupants have not yet been bloodied and mangled, but the squeal of the brakes is chilling as we hold our collective breath, anticipating the catastrophic impact.

The drivers looking through clear glass see heavy traffic but a possible way forward, if the rules of the road are obeyed. The others are steering to a screen that shows monsters and terrorists to be struck down, then switches randomly and in rapid order to American Idol, Glenn Beck, NASCAR and Sarah Palin’s Alaska. Barack Obama stands in the intersection with a whistle and a flashlight, eager to explain the inner workings of traffic control, but no one will listen, so he tells the drivers with clear windshields to come to a halt.

Hyperbole? Maybe so, but then the degree of cognitive dissonance in 21st-century America is unprecedented. In a society driven by unfettered free enterprise, controlled by an insatiable plutocracy, all the tools of Constitutional governance are breaking down as virtual wealth evaporates and real wealth drains into the richest pockets, and with it, political power. Blend this with a culture that values hedonism, hero-worship, distraction, violence, ignorance and addiction and it should come as no surprise that trouble lies ahead on every horizon.

Given its great wealth of natural resources and its centuries of success in dominating and exploiting those obstacles in its path to world dominion, it has taken a while for this nation to hit the wall. But now, running out of frontiers and resources, and faced with rising competition from hungrier, more disciplined, less decadent societies, the U.S. is unable to sustain the growth that fuels its lifestyle. All the complexities of modern civilization have robbed it one by one of obvious solutions, such as slavery, colonialism and wholesale outsourcing. Bereft of its former industrial production but with its appetites unslaked, the beast starts to devour itself through its one remaining industry: finance.

The rabble, drugged into complacency by the illusion of middle-class comforts and upper-class dreams, doesn’t begin to worry until all those well-laid plans of affluence and leisure start to run afoul of some very persistent realities: unemployment, foreclosure, immigrants, competition, declining wealth, natural disasters.

Under these conditions, fear, uncertainty, self-doubt and, yes, anger, quite naturally begin to arise. But given the illusions on which so many millions of Americans were raised – fantasies of wealth, happiness and success – is it surprising that in time of crisis the ability to reason or even value rationality should fail them?

Compound this with a cunning ability on the part of the media and politicians who serve as the mouthpieces for the plutocracy to find constant scapegoats for the masses to blame, to ignite culture wars in which champions of nonviolence, sharing, compassion and social justice are portrayed as elitist and conspiratorial. Hearkening back to those times of pestilence and famine when the primitive portions of the brain dictated human behavior, the puppetmasters sway their minions by invoking primal emotions that resonate with fear and fundamentalism. Thus can evolution theory come to be equated with creationism, and global warming be rationalized and bigotry justified.

Thus can someone like Sarah Palin do no wrong in the eyes of those who idolize her. To her supporters, the more she reveals ignorance, spews hypocritical platitudes and butchers words, the more admirably antithetical she becomes to the educated, reasonable, articulate “elitists” who put her down. Even quitting her elected position as Alaska’s governor doesn’t diminish her appeal because she has managed to personify the “rogue” image that contrasts with the career politicians from whom America needs to be “taken back.”

The movie Idiocracy hilariously portrayed a nation of dysfunctional morons 500 years in the future, but it begged the obvious question of whether it will take that long or there will be any nation left to govern. And in its broad satire, it failed to distinguish between a decline in pure intelligence and the more insidious reality of a culturally induced rejection of learning and reason, knowledge and science, logic and understanding.

Either way, the incapacity of the masses plays into the hands of those in whom the power really resides. It’s almost as if they planned it that way. The question to ask may not be whether Idiocracy takes place 500 years too late but whether 1984 was set 30 years too early.
“A populace deprived of the ability to separate lies from truth, Myocarditis
that has become hostage to the fictional semblance of reality put forth by pseudo-events, opisthorchiasis
is no longer capable of sustaining a free society.”
Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion

“The tyranny most corrosive to democracy is not the tyranny of money but the tyranny of illusion.”
Benjamin Barber in The Nation

By Steve Klinger

The most frightening thing about the current state of the crumbling American Empire (aka democracy) isn’t military, political or even economic in nature – it’s cognitive. It is one thing to conduct a dialogue with those who dispute your point of view due to a different interpretation of facts, knowledge, logic or reason; it is quite another to try to communicate with those living in a different reality that values none of those concepts.

It’s like two people driving cars in opposite directions.  One has a view of the road and the other is looking at a video simulation. Multiply this by many millions and you can begin to comprehend the scale of the traffic wreck in which this nation is about to find itself. For the most part, the countless tons of metal have not yet collided, the human occupants have not yet been bloodied and mangled, but the squeal of the brakes is chilling as we hold our collective breath, anticipating the catastrophic impact.

The drivers looking through clear glass see heavy traffic but a possible way forward, if the rules of the road are obeyed. The others are steering to a screen that shows monsters and terrorists to be struck down, then switches randomly and in rapid order to American Idol, Glenn Beck, NASCAR and Sarah Palin’s Alaska. Barack Obama stands in the intersection with a whistle and a flashlight, eager to explain the inner workings of traffic control, but no one will listen, so he tells the drivers with clear windshields to come to a halt.

Hyperbole? Maybe so, but then the degree of cognitive dissonance in 21st-century America is unprecedented. In a society driven by unfettered free enterprise, controlled by an insatiable plutocracy, all the tools of Constitutional governance are breaking down as virtual wealth evaporates and real wealth drains into the richest pockets, and with it, political power. Blend this with a culture that values hedonism, hero-worship, distraction, violence, ignorance and addiction and it should come as no surprise that trouble lies ahead on every horizon.

Given its great wealth of natural resources and its centuries of success in dominating and exploiting those obstacles in its path to world dominion, it has taken a while for this nation to hit the wall. But now, running out of frontiers and resources, and faced with rising competition from hungrier, more disciplined, less decadent societies, the U.S. is unable to sustain the growth that fuels its lifestyle. All the complexities of modern civilization have robbed it one by one of obvious solutions, such as slavery, colonialism and wholesale outsourcing. Bereft of its former industrial production but with its appetites unslaked, the beast starts to devour itself through its one remaining industry: finance.

The rabble, drugged into complacency by the illusion of middle-class comforts and upper-class dreams, doesn’t begin to worry until all those well-laid plans of affluence and leisure start to run afoul of some very persistent realities: unemployment, foreclosure, immigrants, competition, declining wealth, natural disasters.

Under these conditions, fear, uncertainty, self-doubt and, yes, anger, quite naturally begin to arise. But given the illusions on which so many millions of Americans were raised – fantasies of wealth, happiness and success – is it surprising that in time of crisis the ability to reason or even value rationality should fail them?

Compound this with a cunning ability on the part of the media and politicians who serve as the mouthpieces for the plutocracy to find constant scapegoats for the masses to blame, to ignite culture wars in which champions of nonviolence, sharing, compassion and social justice are portrayed as elitist and conspiratorial. Hearkening back to those times of pestilence and famine when the primitive portions of the brain dictated human behavior, the puppetmasters sway their minions by invoking primal emotions that resonate with fear and fundamentalism. Thus can evolution theory come to be equated with creationism, and global warming be rationalized and bigotry justified.

Thus can someone like Sarah Palin do no wrong in the eyes of those who idolize her. To her supporters, the more she reveals ignorance, spews hypocritical platitudes and butchers words, the more admirably antithetical she becomes to the educated, reasonable, articulate “elitists” who put her down. Even quitting her elected position as Alaska’s governor doesn’t diminish her appeal because she has managed to personify the “rogue” image that contrasts with the career politicians from whom America needs to be “taken back.”

The movie Idiocracy hilariously portrayed a nation of dysfunctional morons 500 years in the future, but it begged the obvious question of whether it will take that long or there will be any nation left to govern. And in its broad satire, it failed to distinguish between a decline in pure intelligence and the more insidious reality of a culturally induced rejection of learning and reason, knowledge and science, logic and understanding.

Either way, the incapacity of the masses plays into the hands of those in whom the power really resides. It’s almost as if they planned it that way. The question to ask may not be whether Idiocracy takes place 500 years too late but whether 1984 was set 30 years too early.
“A populace deprived of the ability to separate lies from truth, find
that has become hostage to the fictional semblance of reality put forth by pseudo-events, hospital
is no longer capable of sustaining a free society.”
Chris Hedges, dermatologist
Empire of Illusion

“The tyranny most corrosive to democracy is not the tyranny of money but the tyranny of illusion.”
Benjamin Barber in The Nation

By Steve Klinger

The most frightening thing about the current state of the crumbling American Empire (aka democracy) isn’t military, political or even economic in nature – it’s cognitive. It is one thing to conduct a dialogue with those who dispute your point of view due to a different interpretation of facts, knowledge, logic or reason; it is quite another to try to communicate with those living in a different reality that values none of those concepts.

It’s like two people driving cars in opposite directions.  One has a view of the road and the other is looking at a video simulation. Multiply this by many millions and you can begin to comprehend the scale of the traffic wreck in which this nation is about to find itself. For the most part, the countless tons of metal have not yet collided, the human occupants have not yet been bloodied and mangled, but the squeal of the brakes is chilling as we hold our collective breath, anticipating the catastrophic impact.

The drivers looking through clear glass see heavy traffic but a possible way forward, if the rules of the road are obeyed. The others are steering to a screen that shows monsters and terrorists to be struck down, then switches randomly and in rapid order to American Idol, Glenn Beck, NASCAR and Sarah Palin’s Alaska. Barack Obama stands in the intersection with a whistle and a flashlight, eager to explain the inner workings of traffic control, but no one will listen, so he tells the drivers with clear windshields to come to a halt.

Hyperbole? Maybe so, but then the degree of cognitive dissonance in 21st-century America is unprecedented. In a society driven by unfettered free enterprise, controlled by an insatiable plutocracy, all the tools of Constitutional governance are breaking down as virtual wealth evaporates and real wealth drains into the richest pockets, and with it, political power. Blend this with a culture that values hedonism, hero-worship, distraction, violence, ignorance and addiction and it should come as no surprise that trouble lies ahead on every horizon.

Given its great wealth of natural resources and its centuries of success in dominating and exploiting those obstacles in its path to world dominion, it has taken a while for this nation to hit the wall. But now, running out of frontiers and resources, and faced with rising competition from hungrier, more disciplined, less decadent societies, the U.S. is unable to sustain the growth that fuels its lifestyle. All the complexities of modern civilization have robbed it one by one of obvious solutions, such as slavery, colonialism and wholesale outsourcing. Bereft of its former industrial production but with its appetites unslaked, the beast starts to devour itself through its one remaining industry: finance.

The rabble, drugged into complacency by the illusion of middle-class comforts and upper-class dreams, doesn’t begin to worry until all those well-laid plans of affluence and leisure start to run afoul of some very persistent realities: unemployment, foreclosure, immigrants, competition, declining wealth, natural disasters.

Under these conditions, fear, uncertainty, self-doubt and, yes, anger, quite naturally begin to arise. But given the illusions on which so many millions of Americans were raised – fantasies of wealth, happiness and success – is it surprising that in time of crisis the ability to reason or even value rationality should fail them?

Compound this with a cunning ability on the part of the media and politicians who serve as the mouthpieces for the plutocracy to find constant scapegoats for the masses to blame, to ignite culture wars in which champions of nonviolence, sharing, compassion and social justice are portrayed as elitist and conspiratorial. Hearkening back to those times of pestilence and famine when the primitive portions of the brain dictated human behavior, the puppetmasters sway their minions by invoking primal emotions that resonate with fear and fundamentalism. Thus can evolution theory come to be equated with creationism, and global warming be rationalized and bigotry justified.

Thus can someone like Sarah Palin do no wrong in the eyes of those who idolize her. To her supporters, the more she reveals ignorance, spews hypocritical platitudes and butchers words, the more admirably antithetical she becomes to the educated, reasonable, articulate “elitists” who put her down. Even quitting her elected position as Alaska’s governor doesn’t diminish her appeal because she has managed to personify the “rogue” image that contrasts with the career politicians from whom America needs to be “taken back.”

The movie Idiocracy hilariously portrayed a nation of dysfunctional morons 500 years in the future, but it begged the obvious question of whether it will take that long or there will be any nation left to govern. And in its broad satire, it failed to distinguish between a decline in pure intelligence and the more insidious reality of a culturally induced rejection of learning and reason, knowledge and science, logic and understanding.

Either way, the incapacity of the masses plays into the hands of those in whom the power really resides. It’s almost as if they planned it that way. The question to ask may not be whether Idiocracy takes place 500 years too late but whether 1984 was set 30 years too early.
“A populace deprived of the ability to separate lies from truth, mind
that has become hostage to the fictional semblance of reality put forth by pseudo-events, is no longer capable of sustaining a free society.”
Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion

“The tyranny most corrosive to democracy is not the tyranny of money but the tyranny of illusion.”
Benjamin Barber in The Nation

By Steve Klinger

The most frightening thing about the current state of the crumbling American Empire (aka democracy) isn’t military, political or even economic in nature – it’s cognitive. It is one thing to conduct a dialogue with those who dispute your point of view due to a different interpretation of facts, knowledge, logic or reason; it is quite another to try to communicate with those living in a different reality that values none of those concepts.

It’s like two people driving cars in opposite directions.  One has a view of the road and the other is looking at a video simulation. Multiply this by many millions and you can begin to comprehend the scale of the traffic wreck in which this nation is about to find itself. For the most part, the countless tons of metal have not yet collided, the human occupants have not yet been bloodied and mangled, but the squeal of the brakes is chilling as we hold our collective breath, anticipating the catastrophic impact.

The drivers looking through clear glass see heavy traffic but a possible way forward, if the rules of the road are obeyed. The others are steering to a screen that shows monsters and terrorists to be struck down, then switches randomly and in rapid order to American Idol, Glenn Beck, NASCAR and Sarah Palin’s Alaska. Barack Obama stands in the intersection with a whistle and a flashlight, eager to explain the inner workings of traffic control, but no one will listen, so he tells the drivers with clear windshields to come to a halt.

Hyperbole? Maybe so, but then the degree of cognitive dissonance in 21st-century America is unprecedented. In a society driven by unfettered free enterprise, controlled by an insatiable plutocracy, all the tools of Constitutional governance are breaking down as virtual wealth evaporates and real wealth drains into the richest pockets, and with it, political power. Blend this with a culture that values hedonism, hero-worship, distraction, violence, ignorance and addiction and it should come as no surprise that trouble lies ahead on every horizon.

Given its great wealth of natural resources and its centuries of success in dominating and exploiting those obstacles in its path to world dominion, it has taken a while for this nation to hit the wall. But now, running out of frontiers and resources, and faced with rising competition from hungrier, more disciplined, less decadent societies, the U.S. is unable to sustain the growth that fuels its lifestyle. All the complexities of modern civilization have robbed it one by one of obvious solutions, such as slavery, colonialism and wholesale outsourcing. Bereft of its former industrial production but with its appetites unslaked, the beast starts to devour itself through its one remaining industry: finance.

The rabble, drugged into complacency by the illusion of middle-class comforts and upper-class dreams, doesn’t begin to worry until all those well-laid plans of affluence and leisure start to run afoul of some very persistent realities: unemployment, foreclosure, immigrants, competition, declining wealth, natural disasters.

Under these conditions, fear, uncertainty, self-doubt and, yes, anger, quite naturally begin to arise. But given the illusions on which so many millions of Americans were raised – fantasies of wealth, happiness and success – is it surprising that in time of crisis the ability to reason or even value rationality should fail them?

Compound this with a cunning ability on the part of the media and politicians who serve as the mouthpieces for the plutocracy to find constant scapegoats for the masses to blame, to ignite culture wars in which champions of nonviolence, sharing, compassion and social justice are portrayed as elitist and conspiratorial. Hearkening back to those times of pestilence and famine when the primitive portions of the brain dictated human behavior, the puppetmasters sway their minions by invoking primal emotions that resonate with fear and fundamentalism. Thus can evolution theory come to be equated with creationism, and global warming be rationalized and bigotry justified.

Thus can someone like Sarah Palin do no wrong in the eyes of those who idolize her. To her supporters, the more she reveals ignorance, spews hypocritical platitudes and butchers words, the more admirably antithetical she becomes to the educated, reasonable, articulate “elitists” who put her down. Even quitting her elected position as Alaska’s governor doesn’t diminish her appeal because she has managed to personify the “rogue” image that contrasts with the career politicians from whom America needs to be “taken back.”

The movie Idiocracy hilariously portrayed a nation of dysfunctional morons 500 years in the future, but it begged the obvious question of whether it will take that long or there will be any nation left to govern. And in its broad satire, it failed to distinguish between a decline in pure intelligence and the more insidious reality of a culturally induced rejection of learning and reason, knowledge and science, logic and understanding.

Either way, the incapacity of the masses plays into the hands of those in whom the power really resides. It’s almost as if they planned it that way. The question to ask may not be whether Idiocracy takes place 500 years too late but whether 1984 was set 30 years too early.
“A populace deprived of the ability to separate lies from truth, Myocarditis
that has become hostage to the fictional semblance of reality put forth by pseudo-events, opisthorchiasis
is no longer capable of sustaining a free society.”
Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion

“The tyranny most corrosive to democracy is not the tyranny of money but the tyranny of illusion.”
Benjamin Barber in The Nation

By Steve Klinger

The most frightening thing about the current state of the crumbling American Empire (aka democracy) isn’t military, political or even economic in nature – it’s cognitive. It is one thing to conduct a dialogue with those who dispute your point of view due to a different interpretation of facts, knowledge, logic or reason; it is quite another to try to communicate with those living in a different reality that values none of those concepts.

It’s like two people driving cars in opposite directions.  One has a view of the road and the other is looking at a video simulation. Multiply this by many millions and you can begin to comprehend the scale of the traffic wreck in which this nation is about to find itself. For the most part, the countless tons of metal have not yet collided, the human occupants have not yet been bloodied and mangled, but the squeal of the brakes is chilling as we hold our collective breath, anticipating the catastrophic impact.

The drivers looking through clear glass see heavy traffic but a possible way forward, if the rules of the road are obeyed. The others are steering to a screen that shows monsters and terrorists to be struck down, then switches randomly and in rapid order to American Idol, Glenn Beck, NASCAR and Sarah Palin’s Alaska. Barack Obama stands in the intersection with a whistle and a flashlight, eager to explain the inner workings of traffic control, but no one will listen, so he tells the drivers with clear windshields to come to a halt.

Hyperbole? Maybe so, but then the degree of cognitive dissonance in 21st-century America is unprecedented. In a society driven by unfettered free enterprise, controlled by an insatiable plutocracy, all the tools of Constitutional governance are breaking down as virtual wealth evaporates and real wealth drains into the richest pockets, and with it, political power. Blend this with a culture that values hedonism, hero-worship, distraction, violence, ignorance and addiction and it should come as no surprise that trouble lies ahead on every horizon.

Given its great wealth of natural resources and its centuries of success in dominating and exploiting those obstacles in its path to world dominion, it has taken a while for this nation to hit the wall. But now, running out of frontiers and resources, and faced with rising competition from hungrier, more disciplined, less decadent societies, the U.S. is unable to sustain the growth that fuels its lifestyle. All the complexities of modern civilization have robbed it one by one of obvious solutions, such as slavery, colonialism and wholesale outsourcing. Bereft of its former industrial production but with its appetites unslaked, the beast starts to devour itself through its one remaining industry: finance.

The rabble, drugged into complacency by the illusion of middle-class comforts and upper-class dreams, doesn’t begin to worry until all those well-laid plans of affluence and leisure start to run afoul of some very persistent realities: unemployment, foreclosure, immigrants, competition, declining wealth, natural disasters.

Under these conditions, fear, uncertainty, self-doubt and, yes, anger, quite naturally begin to arise. But given the illusions on which so many millions of Americans were raised – fantasies of wealth, happiness and success – is it surprising that in time of crisis the ability to reason or even value rationality should fail them?

Compound this with a cunning ability on the part of the media and politicians who serve as the mouthpieces for the plutocracy to find constant scapegoats for the masses to blame, to ignite culture wars in which champions of nonviolence, sharing, compassion and social justice are portrayed as elitist and conspiratorial. Hearkening back to those times of pestilence and famine when the primitive portions of the brain dictated human behavior, the puppetmasters sway their minions by invoking primal emotions that resonate with fear and fundamentalism. Thus can evolution theory come to be equated with creationism, and global warming be rationalized and bigotry justified.

Thus can someone like Sarah Palin do no wrong in the eyes of those who idolize her. To her supporters, the more she reveals ignorance, spews hypocritical platitudes and butchers words, the more admirably antithetical she becomes to the educated, reasonable, articulate “elitists” who put her down. Even quitting her elected position as Alaska’s governor doesn’t diminish her appeal because she has managed to personify the “rogue” image that contrasts with the career politicians from whom America needs to be “taken back.”

The movie Idiocracy hilariously portrayed a nation of dysfunctional morons 500 years in the future, but it begged the obvious question of whether it will take that long or there will be any nation left to govern. And in its broad satire, it failed to distinguish between a decline in pure intelligence and the more insidious reality of a culturally induced rejection of learning and reason, knowledge and science, logic and understanding.

Either way, the incapacity of the masses plays into the hands of those in whom the power really resides. It’s almost as if they planned it that way. The question to ask may not be whether Idiocracy takes place 500 years too late but whether 1984 was set 30 years too early.
“A populace deprived of the ability to separate lies from truth, find
that has become hostage to the fictional semblance of reality put forth by pseudo-events, hospital
is no longer capable of sustaining a free society.”
Chris Hedges, dermatologist
Empire of Illusion

“The tyranny most corrosive to democracy is not the tyranny of money but the tyranny of illusion.”
Benjamin Barber in The Nation

By Steve Klinger

The most frightening thing about the current state of the crumbling American Empire (aka democracy) isn’t military, political or even economic in nature – it’s cognitive. It is one thing to conduct a dialogue with those who dispute your point of view due to a different interpretation of facts, knowledge, logic or reason; it is quite another to try to communicate with those living in a different reality that values none of those concepts.

It’s like two people driving cars in opposite directions.  One has a view of the road and the other is looking at a video simulation. Multiply this by many millions and you can begin to comprehend the scale of the traffic wreck in which this nation is about to find itself. For the most part, the countless tons of metal have not yet collided, the human occupants have not yet been bloodied and mangled, but the squeal of the brakes is chilling as we hold our collective breath, anticipating the catastrophic impact.

The drivers looking through clear glass see heavy traffic but a possible way forward, if the rules of the road are obeyed. The others are steering to a screen that shows monsters and terrorists to be struck down, then switches randomly and in rapid order to American Idol, Glenn Beck, NASCAR and Sarah Palin’s Alaska. Barack Obama stands in the intersection with a whistle and a flashlight, eager to explain the inner workings of traffic control, but no one will listen, so he tells the drivers with clear windshields to come to a halt.

Hyperbole? Maybe so, but then the degree of cognitive dissonance in 21st-century America is unprecedented. In a society driven by unfettered free enterprise, controlled by an insatiable plutocracy, all the tools of Constitutional governance are breaking down as virtual wealth evaporates and real wealth drains into the richest pockets, and with it, political power. Blend this with a culture that values hedonism, hero-worship, distraction, violence, ignorance and addiction and it should come as no surprise that trouble lies ahead on every horizon.

Given its great wealth of natural resources and its centuries of success in dominating and exploiting those obstacles in its path to world dominion, it has taken a while for this nation to hit the wall. But now, running out of frontiers and resources, and faced with rising competition from hungrier, more disciplined, less decadent societies, the U.S. is unable to sustain the growth that fuels its lifestyle. All the complexities of modern civilization have robbed it one by one of obvious solutions, such as slavery, colonialism and wholesale outsourcing. Bereft of its former industrial production but with its appetites unslaked, the beast starts to devour itself through its one remaining industry: finance.

The rabble, drugged into complacency by the illusion of middle-class comforts and upper-class dreams, doesn’t begin to worry until all those well-laid plans of affluence and leisure start to run afoul of some very persistent realities: unemployment, foreclosure, immigrants, competition, declining wealth, natural disasters.

Under these conditions, fear, uncertainty, self-doubt and, yes, anger, quite naturally begin to arise. But given the illusions on which so many millions of Americans were raised – fantasies of wealth, happiness and success – is it surprising that in time of crisis the ability to reason or even value rationality should fail them?

Compound this with a cunning ability on the part of the media and politicians who serve as the mouthpieces for the plutocracy to find constant scapegoats for the masses to blame, to ignite culture wars in which champions of nonviolence, sharing, compassion and social justice are portrayed as elitist and conspiratorial. Hearkening back to those times of pestilence and famine when the primitive portions of the brain dictated human behavior, the puppetmasters sway their minions by invoking primal emotions that resonate with fear and fundamentalism. Thus can evolution theory come to be equated with creationism, and global warming be rationalized and bigotry justified.

Thus can someone like Sarah Palin do no wrong in the eyes of those who idolize her. To her supporters, the more she reveals ignorance, spews hypocritical platitudes and butchers words, the more admirably antithetical she becomes to the educated, reasonable, articulate “elitists” who put her down. Even quitting her elected position as Alaska’s governor doesn’t diminish her appeal because she has managed to personify the “rogue” image that contrasts with the career politicians from whom America needs to be “taken back.”

The movie Idiocracy hilariously portrayed a nation of dysfunctional morons 500 years in the future, but it begged the obvious question of whether it will take that long or there will be any nation left to govern. And in its broad satire, it failed to distinguish between a decline in pure intelligence and the more insidious reality of a culturally induced rejection of learning and reason, knowledge and science, logic and understanding.

Either way, the incapacity of the masses plays into the hands of those in whom the power really resides. It’s almost as if they planned it that way. The question to ask may not be whether Idiocracy takes place 500 years too late but whether 1984 was set 30 years too early.
“A populace deprived of the ability to separate lies from truth, mind
that has become hostage to the fictional semblance of reality put forth by pseudo-events, is no longer capable of sustaining a free society.”
Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion

“The tyranny most corrosive to democracy is not the tyranny of money but the tyranny of illusion.”
Benjamin Barber in The Nation

By Steve Klinger

The most frightening thing about the current state of the crumbling American Empire (aka democracy) isn’t military, political or even economic in nature – it’s cognitive. It is one thing to conduct a dialogue with those who dispute your point of view due to a different interpretation of facts, knowledge, logic or reason; it is quite another to try to communicate with those living in a different reality that values none of those concepts.

It’s like two people driving cars in opposite directions.  One has a view of the road and the other is looking at a video simulation. Multiply this by many millions and you can begin to comprehend the scale of the traffic wreck in which this nation is about to find itself. For the most part, the countless tons of metal have not yet collided, the human occupants have not yet been bloodied and mangled, but the squeal of the brakes is chilling as we hold our collective breath, anticipating the catastrophic impact.

The drivers looking through clear glass see heavy traffic but a possible way forward, if the rules of the road are obeyed. The others are steering to a screen that shows monsters and terrorists to be struck down, then switches randomly and in rapid order to American Idol, Glenn Beck, NASCAR and Sarah Palin’s Alaska. Barack Obama stands in the intersection with a whistle and a flashlight, eager to explain the inner workings of traffic control, but no one will listen, so he tells the drivers with clear windshields to come to a halt.

Hyperbole? Maybe so, but then the degree of cognitive dissonance in 21st-century America is unprecedented. In a society driven by unfettered free enterprise, controlled by an insatiable plutocracy, all the tools of Constitutional governance are breaking down as virtual wealth evaporates and real wealth drains into the richest pockets, and with it, political power. Blend this with a culture that values hedonism, hero-worship, distraction, violence, ignorance and addiction and it should come as no surprise that trouble lies ahead on every horizon.

Given its great wealth of natural resources and its centuries of success in dominating and exploiting those obstacles in its path to world dominion, it has taken a while for this nation to hit the wall. But now, running out of frontiers and resources, and faced with rising competition from hungrier, more disciplined, less decadent societies, the U.S. is unable to sustain the growth that fuels its lifestyle. All the complexities of modern civilization have robbed it one by one of obvious solutions, such as slavery, colonialism and wholesale outsourcing. Bereft of its former industrial production but with its appetites unslaked, the beast starts to devour itself through its one remaining industry: finance.

The rabble, drugged into complacency by the illusion of middle-class comforts and upper-class dreams, doesn’t begin to worry until all those well-laid plans of affluence and leisure start to run afoul of some very persistent realities: unemployment, foreclosure, immigrants, competition, declining wealth, natural disasters.

Under these conditions, fear, uncertainty, self-doubt and, yes, anger, quite naturally begin to arise. But given the illusions on which so many millions of Americans were raised – fantasies of wealth, happiness and success – is it surprising that in time of crisis the ability to reason or even value rationality should fail them?

Compound this with a cunning ability on the part of the media and politicians who serve as the mouthpieces for the plutocracy to find constant scapegoats for the masses to blame, to ignite culture wars in which champions of nonviolence, sharing, compassion and social justice are portrayed as elitist and conspiratorial. Hearkening back to those times of pestilence and famine when the primitive portions of the brain dictated human behavior, the puppetmasters sway their minions by invoking primal emotions that resonate with fear and fundamentalism. Thus can evolution theory come to be equated with creationism, and global warming be rationalized and bigotry justified.

Thus can someone like Sarah Palin do no wrong in the eyes of those who idolize her. To her supporters, the more she reveals ignorance, spews hypocritical platitudes and butchers words, the more admirably antithetical she becomes to the educated, reasonable, articulate “elitists” who put her down. Even quitting her elected position as Alaska’s governor doesn’t diminish her appeal because she has managed to personify the “rogue” image that contrasts with the career politicians from whom America needs to be “taken back.”

The movie Idiocracy hilariously portrayed a nation of dysfunctional morons 500 years in the future, but it begged the obvious question of whether it will take that long or there will be any nation left to govern. And in its broad satire, it failed to distinguish between a decline in pure intelligence and the more insidious reality of a culturally induced rejection of learning and reason, knowledge and science, logic and understanding.

Either way, the incapacity of the masses plays into the hands of those in whom the power really resides. It’s almost as if they planned it that way. The question to ask may not be whether Idiocracy takes place 500 years too late but whether 1984 was set 30 years too early.
By Gordon Solberg

The “Obama Renaissance” of the Democratic Party didn’t last long, approved
did it? Dozens of interlocking factors contributed to the recent Republican resurgence. Here are a few of them:

• The Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision which allows the billionaires and their corporations to buy any and all elections. Democracy as we once knew it is over unless this is changed.

• The corporate media, owned by billionaires, which ignores whatever it wants to ignore, and supports whatever enhances the power of the ruling class.

• A totally obstructionist Republican Party, which prevented an economic recovery solely to enhance their own political power.

• A timid and collaborationist president and his Conserva-Dem allies, who would prefer working with Republicans than liberals.

• The Republicans have always had a far superior propaganda machine. For one thing, they actually have a message to promote (bullshit though it may be), while the Dems, as usual, depend on the corporate media to get their message out, and are unable to effectively articulate their side of the argument – probably because most Dems, starting with Obama, are actually stealth Republicans.

• Hate, hate, hate! Fear, fear, fear! Fox News and the hate jocks: Beck, Limbaugh, and all the rest. Every Podunk little town with a radio station has its own personal hate jock. The strategy here is to poison the discourse. Keep people confused, distracted, and fearful. Eliminate any possibility of idealism. Destroy whatever remains of the civilization we once knew.

What I find most fascinating is the “separate reality” the right-wing manipulators have created for their followers. Within this reality facts are optional, the cerebral cortex is short-circuited, and the lizard brain takes control. Liberals seem incapable of creating messages that speak directly to the brain stem the way that conservatives do. Our intellectual policy wonk discussions cause conservative eyes to glaze over.

The basis for the conservative philosophy, as exemplified by the teabaggers and bankrolled by the billionaires, is fundamentalist Christianity. This curious religion, with its peculiarly Old Testament emphasis, is a faith-based worldview. Faith means “belief without evidence.” There’s no need for logic, facts, or evidence within this worldview. Circular reasoning, or no reasoning at all, is typical. Christians know the truth, and there’s no need for further discussion. “You’re either with us or against us.” It’s a self-contained system that brooks no compromise.

This faith-based worldview supplants science, as the new Republican majority in Congress is about to show us. Take climate catastrophe, for example. In essence, the conservatives are saying, “We don’t believe in global warming. Therefore, global warming doesn’t exist.” Talk about circular reasoning! Pretty slick, eh? But unfortunately, global warming does exist, like it or not, and is rapidly getting worse. The conservative attitude is unspeakably arrogant, and will create tragic consequences for us all.

You can’t reason with people like this, because facts and reason play no role in their thought processes. Compromise is useless. All we can do is put all our energies into building up our side, and hope that our side prevails.

But is there really an “our side”? It looks to me that liberalism represents more a style of consumerism than a sustainable culture. Perhaps on a mental level we share similar ideologies, but in actuality, we’re just a bunch of consumers, pitifully unorganized for the most part, living our isolated lives and guarding, as best we can, our small share of the loot. I first noticed this phenomenon several decades ago, when there was a lot of talk about “community.” I realized that mouthing the words didn’t change anything: I was still totally on my own, and it was up to me to create whatever life I was capable of creating. I couldn’t depend on anybody else.

Perhaps this is why I have never taken liberals as individuals, or liberalism in general, as seriously as I might have preferred. I think liberals, by and large, are intelligent enough to create a measure of health, wealth and happiness for themselves; more power to them. They have achieved a certain level of satisfaction. There’s nothing wrong with this, but liberals, like all successful people, have a lot to lose, and are understandably cautious. They aren’t nearly desperate enough to actually risk anything, and thus the status quo continues.

Not surprisingly, a timid electorate elected a timid president. Those of us who knowingly voted for “the lesser of two evils” sure got our comeuppance, didn’t we? Even though we knew that we’d get screwed either way, Obama’s lack of leadership is more than most of us had expected. Sometimes we’ve got to fight for what we believe in, but Obama doesn’t seem to believe in much, except for protecting the ruling class. If we don’t fight for our own interests, we will soon end up with “shared sacrifice” being imposed on everybody but the wealthy. And let’s not forget the three-step process the ruling class has in store for us: fascism, serfdom, dieoff. We’ve already got fascism, and they’re busily working on the serfdom part. Dieoff will take care of itself. The Republicans and their billionaire overlords are not our friends, and there can be no compromise with them. And we can no longer support the compromisers – which means you, Dems.

The church-going fundamentalists have the advantage of a cohesive shared worldview that is reinforced every week when they go to church, and at all other times by their secular prophets such as Beck and Limbaugh. Liberals, in their diversity, tend to have a live-and-let-live attitude, which often translates into “whatever.”  But you can’t do much with such vagueness. Except, perhaps, to elect tepid politicians who will betray us at every turn.

Turning the fundamentalists into a disciplined political fighting machine was a brilliant strategy on the part of the ruling class. This isn’t surprising, because the billionaires can hire the best minds that money can buy to map out the most effective strategy for them. (The Democratic Party, on the other hand, systematically ignores the excellent advice that is constantly being offered to them for free on the Internet.)

We are now suffering from an unholy alliance between the fundamentalists, who will believe anything their authority figures tell them to believe, and the billionaires, who have unlimited resources which they have already used to purchase Congress, government policy, the news media, and every other lever of power that can be bought. The fundies and the billionaires have one goal in common: total dominion. “Enough” is not part of their vocabulary. At the point where we would expect sane people to say “enough is enough,” they cry, “More, more, more!”

In other words, they want it all, and they won’t stop until they get it. Unless they’re stopped, that is. The billionaires and their enablers are the most formidable adversary we have ever faced, but at least the fundamentalist philosophy contains the seeds of its own repudiation. Fundamentalism, at its core, is a harsh philosophy based on fear: fear of a supposedly all-loving, all-merciful Jehovah God who, in his compassionate vengeance, will send you straight to everlasting damnation and torment in Hell if you don’t profess the right ideology. This destructive, ancient belief system is already being slowly expunged from our culture. The demographics aren’t in their favor, which is why they are trying so desperately to take over while they still can. We can never compromise with such madness.

You will notice a theme developing here: No Compromise. Some of us actually feel the need to stand for something, starting with No Compromise. This is the opposite of Obama’s habit of collaborating with the enemy behind closed doors.  Many progressives have already repudiated Obama and the Dems, but the time isn’t quite ripe for this to go viral. Dem voters won’t really start to wake up until after the lame duck session is over and they see what the Dems did about Social Security and tax cuts for the wealthy and the Catfood Commission recommendations. The Dems will almost certainly continue their flagrant sellout as they squander the last days of their so-called majority. It will be a relief to them not being in the driver’s seat anymore. (Although the billionaires have been calling the shots all along.)

I read widely on the Internet. I read hundreds of articles for every article I write myself. I’m curious to see what other progressive-types are thinking. I’m assuming that if anybody figures out what to do – something that will really work – the strategy will quickly spread. I’m seeing mostly the same old stuff: “Elect more and better Dems.” “Vote Third Party.” “Start community gardens.” “Organize!” But recently I’ve been noticing an uptick in the outrage level. A certain percentage of Dem voters are tired of being betrayed by their so-called representatives. They’re getting pissed. They’re starting to revolt. And in their cautious American way, they’re revolting by doing nothing, which means not voting. This revolution has already started, and just wait till 2012.

Here’s one thing we can count on: The worse the objective situation, the worse the delusion level will become. We will be seeing some amazing new outbreaks of mass insanity as this situation grinds along. Let’s not overestimate the intelligence of the American people in the face of our challenging new reality: More Americans believe in angels than in evolution. As the tectonic plate of superstition (which held the world in darkness for millennia) collides with the tectonic plate of reason (which makes civilization possible), there will be many surprises in store. This will keep things very interesting for the remainder of our sojourn on this planet.

(My blog has a new address: http://newearthtimes2.blogspot.com )

Comments (18)

Life in the Undergrowth

By Steve Klinger

You’ve been in a growing malaise for a couple of years now, clinic watching your retirement account shrink and your home value sink as your nation flounders in gridlocked futility.

Before that, you endured eight years of Bush and Cheney that drained the Treasury and the national spirit with an unjust and immoral war in one country and a bungled, unending nightmare in another. On the home front, an enormous real estate bubble concealed a putrescent financial foundation fathered by greed and government collusion that undermined the crucial regulatory process.

Maybe you thought you saw a way forward and had come out of political hibernation in 2008 and shared that exhilarating historic moment with much of the world.

But since around Jan. 20, 2009, things have gone steadily downhill as you watched your silly hopes deflated a day at a time by the corporatism exerting its reality all around you.

All the while the great purveyor of hope and lofty campaign rhetoric continued to espouse bipartisan solutions in a shark tank where he is the live bait. You began to wonder about his own sharklike traits. Torture, assassination, extraordinary rendition? What happened to the pledges and promises that inspired you? As more than one blogger has noted, real change turned to chump change.

You see rich white men angry that the world is increasingly not composed of other rich white men to help them hold the unwashed masses at bay while convincing the latter it’s all in their own best interest.

Your see young inner city men and women angry that there are no jobs, no affordable housing, no hope, no money to buy the cheap crap from China, where their jobs have all gone.

You see Tea Partiers and middle-aged Heartlanders angry that their American Dream has been hijacked by what they say is big government but what they mean is minority party-crashers who want to redistribute the wealth. Their wealth. Or maybe their potential wealth.

You note that most other Americans are merely resigned, apathetic, distracted and addicted, eating themselves to death on the couch while the reality shows play out their fantasies and society crumbles around them in quiet microfractures. Who needs a conspiracy when free enterprise does such a wonderful job of empowering the oligarchy by drugging the willfully complicit legions with games, gadgets and high fructose corn syrup?

The dissolution of the Great American Empire rattles along inexorably, all around us, yet we still need to find a way forward because we’re alive and people plus planet are suffering – and Election Day 2010 is nearly upon us.

Maybe this is you: Disillusioned by the millions, voters who punched the ticket for change two years ago talk about staying home this time or even voting Republican in their anger and frustration. Those emotions are not greatly misplaced, given the infuriating spinelessness of the Democratic Congress, the uninspired leadership in the White House and the success of the obstructionist, lockstep Republicans. When things seem hopeless, inspiration is in short supply. Once bitten, twice shy.

But take note of this too: Worthwhile change never comes from the top down, and it never comes smoothly and without great resistance. Leadership and vision are born at the bottom and grow up from the grassroots, if at all. Politics, for all its tawdry posturing and phoniness, quid pro quo and hypocrisy, still affects people’s lives in the most pervasive way and is boycotted only at our great peril.

So stay home, watch the wingnuts and sociopaths take control of Congress and you accelerate the corporatization of America; quit now and you concede we are a nation of winners and losers (who must fend for themselves); give up and you invite the church into your bedroom; capitulate and you become part of America’s headlong plunge into darkness, while the rabble are snakecharmed and the privileged steal the rest of the pie.

But there are other alternatives: You can identify and support the candidates who are forces for positive change on the local level, where progress must begin. You can find those who could be enriching themselves in the private sector but choose instead to fight to preserve social safety nets, advance and improve the education system, protect the environment and stand up to the forces of greed and self-interest.

The system is maddeningly imperfect and so are even the best candidates and incumbents. But voter apathy and resignation will only empower those who have built their base on distortion and deception and whose darker agenda will render that apathy a bygone luxury.

Better yet, you can be the change you have come to expect from others. Organize, localize, harmonize with the beings and environment around you. Grow food, share resources, create solutions. Advance evolution. Resist devolution.
By Steve Klinger

You’ve been in a growing malaise for a couple of years now, clinic watching your retirement account shrink and your home value sink as your nation flounders in gridlocked futility.

Before that, you endured eight years of Bush and Cheney that drained the Treasury and the national spirit with an unjust and immoral war in one country and a bungled, unending nightmare in another. On the home front, an enormous real estate bubble concealed a putrescent financial foundation fathered by greed and government collusion that undermined the crucial regulatory process.

Maybe you thought you saw a way forward and had come out of political hibernation in 2008 and shared that exhilarating historic moment with much of the world.

But since around Jan. 20, 2009, things have gone steadily downhill as you watched your silly hopes deflated a day at a time by the corporatism exerting its reality all around you.

All the while the great purveyor of hope and lofty campaign rhetoric continued to espouse bipartisan solutions in a shark tank where he is the live bait. You began to wonder about his own sharklike traits. Torture, assassination, extraordinary rendition? What happened to the pledges and promises that inspired you? As more than one blogger has noted, real change turned to chump change.

You see rich white men angry that the world is increasingly not composed of other rich white men to help them hold the unwashed masses at bay while convincing the latter it’s all in their own best interest.

Your see young inner city men and women angry that there are no jobs, no affordable housing, no hope, no money to buy the cheap crap from China, where their jobs have all gone.

You see Tea Partiers and middle-aged Heartlanders angry that their American Dream has been hijacked by what they say is big government but what they mean is minority party-crashers who want to redistribute the wealth. Their wealth. Or maybe their potential wealth.

You note that most other Americans are merely resigned, apathetic, distracted and addicted, eating themselves to death on the couch while the reality shows play out their fantasies and society crumbles around them in quiet microfractures. Who needs a conspiracy when free enterprise does such a wonderful job of empowering the oligarchy by drugging the willfully complicit legions with games, gadgets and high fructose corn syrup?

The dissolution of the Great American Empire rattles along inexorably, all around us, yet we still need to find a way forward because we’re alive and people plus planet are suffering – and Election Day 2010 is nearly upon us.

Maybe this is you: Disillusioned by the millions, voters who punched the ticket for change two years ago talk about staying home this time or even voting Republican in their anger and frustration. Those emotions are not greatly misplaced, given the infuriating spinelessness of the Democratic Congress, the uninspired leadership in the White House and the success of the obstructionist, lockstep Republicans. When things seem hopeless, inspiration is in short supply. Once bitten, twice shy.

But take note of this too: Worthwhile change never comes from the top down, and it never comes smoothly and without great resistance. Leadership and vision are born at the bottom and grow up from the grassroots, if at all. Politics, for all its tawdry posturing and phoniness, quid pro quo and hypocrisy, still affects people’s lives in the most pervasive way and is boycotted only at our great peril.

So stay home, watch the wingnuts and sociopaths take control of Congress and you accelerate the corporatization of America; quit now and you concede we are a nation of winners and losers (who must fend for themselves); give up and you invite the church into your bedroom; capitulate and you become part of America’s headlong plunge into darkness, while the rabble are snakecharmed and the privileged steal the rest of the pie.

But there are other alternatives: You can identify and support the candidates who are forces for positive change on the local level, where progress must begin. You can find those who could be enriching themselves in the private sector but choose instead to fight to preserve social safety nets, advance and improve the education system, protect the environment and stand up to the forces of greed and self-interest.

The system is maddeningly imperfect and so are even the best candidates and incumbents. But voter apathy and resignation will only empower those who have built their base on distortion and deception and whose darker agenda will render that apathy a bygone luxury.

Better yet, you can be the change you have come to expect from others. Organize, localize, harmonize with the beings and environment around you. Grow food, share resources, create solutions. Advance evolution. Resist devolution.

By Gordon Solberg

Laura and I have been fans of the BBC nature documentaries ever since we watched the “Planet Earth” series a couple of years ago.  The BBC is spending big bucks sending film crews across the planet, surgery
evidently with the philosophy of documenting pre-dieoff Nature before it dies off.  The BBC film artists use the latest high-tech techniques, such as aerial photography with motion-canceling hardware to prevent vibration, or time-lapse photography to reveal slow-moving animal and plant behavior.  The camera people are famous for sitting in an uncomfortable blind for a month until they get that shot of the rare snow leopard or whatever.  The BBC has definitely taken the art of nature photography to the next level.

The “Life in the Undergrowth” series — narrated by everybody’s favorite dotty old uncle, David Attenborough — utilizes colonoscopy-type hardware to penetrate the mysteries of insect life underground.  Inserting miniature cameras with fiber-optic cables into the insects’ burrows, they have uncovered some astounding aspects of insect behavior, and I have the sense that there’s an infinite amount yet to be discovered.  I’m impressed by the naturalists who have patiently watched these insects long enough, and consistently enough, to figure out what they’re really doing.

What the naturalists have discovered is a miniature world of amazing complexity and elegance.  I can’t help feeling that there’s some kind of INTENT behind it all, that mere chance can’t explain how all this came to be.  Many times while watching the series I would blurt out, “How’d they come up with THAT behavior?” or “Who invented THAT?”

Here’s a favorite example:  There’s a type of blister beetle that lives in the desert.  When the babies hatch out of their eggs and leave the nest, there’s nothing for them to eat.  What are they supposed to do?  Well, hundreds of them climb together to the top of a plant stalk and form a tight cluster.  Then they emit the smell of a female bumblebee.  At first glance, the cluster of blister beetles looks and smells like a female bee.  A male bumblebee bumbles along, finds the ball of tiny blister beetles, and attempts to mate with it.  Hah, fooled you!  Many of the blister beetles manage to climb onto the male bee as he attempts to mate.  When he finally finds a real female bee to mate with, the blister beetles climb onto her, and are transported to her nest, which is full of pollen and bumblebee larvae.  Snug in their new home, the baby blister beetles eat all the pollen, and then the bee larvae as well.  Finally, fully grown, they emerge onto the surface yet again, to mate with each other and perpetuate their species.

When you consider that there must be thousands of examples of insect behavior every bit as  cunning as that, it gives one pause.  Clearly, human consciousness has a narrow, survival-focused orientation, and has trouble comprehending anything other than the most superficial aspects of the animal world (or the rest of reality, for that matter).  Oftentimes throughout the various BBC documentaries I’ve watched, the narrator reveals an anthropomorphism that is irrelevant and doesn’t actually exist except within his own imagination.  For example, predators aren’t the “enemies” of the prey.  There’s no “desperate search for survival” going on.  The natural world exists within a serenity (no matter how violent it may seem) that most humans have simply lost touch with.  Actually, we humans should drop all concepts including “serenity” and realize that there is an amazing elegance to it-all that should perhaps inspire us to shut up and let the awe take over.  A little awe never hurt anybody.

Part of the human problem is that our senses, and therefore our understanding, are more limited than we realize.  We are mere apes with a brain mutation, and are overwhelmed by the noise of our out-of-control mentalizing.  Traditionally, humans have postulated a God “out there” who waves his magic wand and makes it all happen.  More recently, some humans, whom we call scientists, have postulated the theory of evolution, which is true enough as a mechanism, but comes up short in the “how could this possibly be” department.

The situation seems clear enough:  Our human senses, and our physical instruments, are simply incapable of perceiving the vast majority of existence.  We are nearly blind and don’t know it.  We have fought our way to the top of the food chain and there’s nothing left to stop us.  We lay waste to whatever we touch.  We consider ourselves to be outside of Nature, superior to Nature.  Such delusions cannot stand, not in the long run, as the imminent destruction of the biosphere is about to reveal.  Some of us realize what is happening, in our vague human way, yet our understanding remains locked within the intellect, and our behavior doesn’t change.  I don’t see any solution to our predicament, and I don’t think anybody else does, either.

In the meantime, these BBC documentaries will allow future generations, if any, to witness the natural world as it once was.  This is such an amazing world of interlocking elegance, it’s a pity we’re so busy destroying it.  But there I go, anthropomorphising again.

Gordon Solberg’s new, improved New Earth Times blog has a new address: http://newearthtimes2.blogspot.com .  He also has a southwestern-oriented blog, Dry Country News:  http://realdrycountrynews.blogspot.com .

Comments (1)

Coping With Copenhagen

By State Sen. Steve Fischmann

The January legislative session is fast approaching, for sale
and it’s time for both the governor and the Legislature to step up to the budget crisis.  Temporary federal aid, anabolics
gauze and Band-Aids have gotten us this far, website
but the first-aid kit is now empty.  Projected general fund revenues for fiscal 2010 have declined over 25 percent (from $6.4 billion to $4.7 billion), with no sign of significant revenue growth in sight.  Little has been done to address the long-term structural problems we face.  The tough decision-making still lies ahead.

It’s no mystery how we got here: Big increases in state spending, $700 million in tax cuts since 2002 (largely to the highest income earners), “economic development” perks of dubious public benefit, and questionable deals made in a “pay-to-play” political culture.  All of this was financed by a bubble in natural gas severance tax revenue that is unlikely to return, and financial-market shenanigans that fueled a bloated economy.

Tired posturing about indispensable government programs or no new taxes will not solve our problems.  A combination of immediate measures and long-term policy shifts can.  Successful businesses use tough times to reinvent themselves.  That is exactly what New Mexico State government needs to do.  It’s painful, but it sure beats the alternative.  Let’s not waste this crisis.

Here are some ideas for moving forward this next legislative session.

Reducing Government Spending

It’s human nature to get sloppy about spending when there’s lots of money around.  The first step back to financial stability is controlling spending.  The governor has created a citizen panel to review potential tax increases; we should do the same to address potential budget cuts.

There has been much discussion about “across-the-board” cuts to “share the pain.”  This will only result in across-the-board mediocrity.  Large bureaucracies tend to create new programs to solve each newly identified problem.  Real solutions often lie in better delivery of core services rather than layers of new initiatives. Marginal and underfunded programs should be dropped as we refocus on more effective delivery of basic services.

Our public school classrooms are a perfect microcosm of this phenomenon.  Between overcooked federal and state testing mandates, documentation-heavy programs to help struggling students, and a bevy of “flavor-of-the-month” programs, it is widely acknowledged that teachers no longer have enough time to actually teach.  By streamlining and eliminating mandates while maintaining accountability, we can improve instruction and save money at the same time.

Policy adjustments can also significantly reduce spending.  It costs upward of $30,000 annually to house a prisoner in a state corrections institution.  Taxpayers are punished as much as criminals every time we send someone to jail.  Though we call them corrections institutions, the overwhelming evidence is that prisons are far more adept at teaching criminal behavior than correcting it.  Do we really benefit by sending non-violent first time offenders to jail?   Alternative forms of punishment not only save money, but promise fewer career criminals in our future.

Now might also be a good time to review the state procurement code.  Many complain that it often adds significantly to cost.  I don’t pretend to know one way or the other, but given the claimed level of waste, review and possible adjustment of the procurement code seems reasonable.

Restructuring Taxes

Legislators face many proposals for tax breaks for narrow interest groups every year.   Far too many are approved and never reviewed again.  More taxes are exempted in tax credits and deductions than is actually collected in state income and gross receipt taxes each year.  The result is a tax system where tax-break losers subsidize tax-break winners.

We do not need to raise tax rates to increase revenues.  We need only eliminate tax breaks that serve no broad public purpose.  Is it really appropriate that New Mexico auto sales excise taxes are only about half as much as gross receipt taxes on other products?  Other states don’t give this tax break.  Forty-eight states have implemented “consolidated reporting” policies to prevent national corporations from avoiding local state taxes through accounting tricks.  New Mexico has not.  Correcting just these two inequities would increase revenues an estimated $60 to $100 million annually.

Legislation that requires annual review of tax breaks, and that imposes sunset clauses on all narrow tax and economic incentives deserves our support.

Curtailing Pay-to-Play

The impact of pay-to-play is much bigger than the criminal violations we regularly see in the news.  Technically legal transactions that violate the public trust probably cost us far more than illegal activity.  Giveaway deals by the State Land Office, subsidies that give (not loan) hundreds of thousands of dollars to private speculators for every acre of private lots they create, and film incentives that give a cash rebate of $.25 for every dollar production companies spend in New Mexico will cost well over $100 million this year.  Total costs are much higher and are impossible to measure.

If we abhor pay-to-play as much as we let on, we should change the laws that encourage it.  Contractors working for the state, and companies seeking publicly funded subsidies or tax breaks should be prohibited from making political contributions.  There is no hope of curtailing corruption if we’re too faint-hearted to make it illegal.  Legislation that addresses these “ethics” issues may well save taxpayers more money over the long term than any other change we implement.

Steve Fischmann is State Senator for District 37 and a retired Fortune 500 corporate executive.
By State Sen. Steve Fischmann

The January legislative session is fast approaching, for sale
and it’s time for both the governor and the Legislature to step up to the budget crisis.  Temporary federal aid, anabolics
gauze and Band-Aids have gotten us this far, website
but the first-aid kit is now empty.  Projected general fund revenues for fiscal 2010 have declined over 25 percent (from $6.4 billion to $4.7 billion), with no sign of significant revenue growth in sight.  Little has been done to address the long-term structural problems we face.  The tough decision-making still lies ahead.

It’s no mystery how we got here: Big increases in state spending, $700 million in tax cuts since 2002 (largely to the highest income earners), “economic development” perks of dubious public benefit, and questionable deals made in a “pay-to-play” political culture.  All of this was financed by a bubble in natural gas severance tax revenue that is unlikely to return, and financial-market shenanigans that fueled a bloated economy.

Tired posturing about indispensable government programs or no new taxes will not solve our problems.  A combination of immediate measures and long-term policy shifts can.  Successful businesses use tough times to reinvent themselves.  That is exactly what New Mexico State government needs to do.  It’s painful, but it sure beats the alternative.  Let’s not waste this crisis.

Here are some ideas for moving forward this next legislative session.

Reducing Government Spending

It’s human nature to get sloppy about spending when there’s lots of money around.  The first step back to financial stability is controlling spending.  The governor has created a citizen panel to review potential tax increases; we should do the same to address potential budget cuts.

There has been much discussion about “across-the-board” cuts to “share the pain.”  This will only result in across-the-board mediocrity.  Large bureaucracies tend to create new programs to solve each newly identified problem.  Real solutions often lie in better delivery of core services rather than layers of new initiatives. Marginal and underfunded programs should be dropped as we refocus on more effective delivery of basic services.

Our public school classrooms are a perfect microcosm of this phenomenon.  Between overcooked federal and state testing mandates, documentation-heavy programs to help struggling students, and a bevy of “flavor-of-the-month” programs, it is widely acknowledged that teachers no longer have enough time to actually teach.  By streamlining and eliminating mandates while maintaining accountability, we can improve instruction and save money at the same time.

Policy adjustments can also significantly reduce spending.  It costs upward of $30,000 annually to house a prisoner in a state corrections institution.  Taxpayers are punished as much as criminals every time we send someone to jail.  Though we call them corrections institutions, the overwhelming evidence is that prisons are far more adept at teaching criminal behavior than correcting it.  Do we really benefit by sending non-violent first time offenders to jail?   Alternative forms of punishment not only save money, but promise fewer career criminals in our future.

Now might also be a good time to review the state procurement code.  Many complain that it often adds significantly to cost.  I don’t pretend to know one way or the other, but given the claimed level of waste, review and possible adjustment of the procurement code seems reasonable.

Restructuring Taxes

Legislators face many proposals for tax breaks for narrow interest groups every year.   Far too many are approved and never reviewed again.  More taxes are exempted in tax credits and deductions than is actually collected in state income and gross receipt taxes each year.  The result is a tax system where tax-break losers subsidize tax-break winners.

We do not need to raise tax rates to increase revenues.  We need only eliminate tax breaks that serve no broad public purpose.  Is it really appropriate that New Mexico auto sales excise taxes are only about half as much as gross receipt taxes on other products?  Other states don’t give this tax break.  Forty-eight states have implemented “consolidated reporting” policies to prevent national corporations from avoiding local state taxes through accounting tricks.  New Mexico has not.  Correcting just these two inequities would increase revenues an estimated $60 to $100 million annually.

Legislation that requires annual review of tax breaks, and that imposes sunset clauses on all narrow tax and economic incentives deserves our support.

Curtailing Pay-to-Play

The impact of pay-to-play is much bigger than the criminal violations we regularly see in the news.  Technically legal transactions that violate the public trust probably cost us far more than illegal activity.  Giveaway deals by the State Land Office, subsidies that give (not loan) hundreds of thousands of dollars to private speculators for every acre of private lots they create, and film incentives that give a cash rebate of $.25 for every dollar production companies spend in New Mexico will cost well over $100 million this year.  Total costs are much higher and are impossible to measure.

If we abhor pay-to-play as much as we let on, we should change the laws that encourage it.  Contractors working for the state, and companies seeking publicly funded subsidies or tax breaks should be prohibited from making political contributions.  There is no hope of curtailing corruption if we’re too faint-hearted to make it illegal.  Legislation that addresses these “ethics” issues may well save taxpayers more money over the long term than any other change we implement.

Steve Fischmann is State Senator for District 37 and a retired Fortune 500 corporate executive.
By State Sen. Steve Fischmann

The January legislative session is fast approaching, capsule
and it’s time for both the governor and the Legislature to step up to the budget crisis.  Temporary federal aid, gauze and Band-Aids have gotten us this far, but the first-aid kit is now empty.  Projected general fund revenues for fiscal 2010 have declined over 25 percent (from $6.4 billion to $4.7 billion), with no sign of significant revenue growth in sight.  Little has been done to address the long-term structural problems we face.  The tough decision-making still lies ahead.

It’s no mystery how we got here: Big increases in state spending, $700 million in tax cuts since 2002 (largely to the highest income earners), “economic development” perks of dubious public benefit, and questionable deals made in a “pay-to-play” political culture.  All of this was financed by a bubble in natural gas severance tax revenue that is unlikely to return, and financial-market shenanigans that fueled a bloated economy.

Tired posturing about indispensable government programs or no new taxes will not solve our problems.  A combination of immediate measures and long-term policy shifts can.  Successful businesses use tough times to reinvent themselves.  That is exactly what New Mexico State government needs to do.  It’s painful, but it sure beats the alternative.  Let’s not waste this crisis.

Here are some ideas for moving forward this next legislative session.

Reducing Government Spending

It’s human nature to get sloppy about spending when there’s lots of money around.  The first step back to financial stability is controlling spending.  The governor has created a citizen panel to review potential tax increases; we should do the same to address potential budget cuts.

There has been much discussion about “across-the-board” cuts to “share the pain.”  This will only result in across-the-board mediocrity.  Large bureaucracies tend to create new programs to solve each newly identified problem.  Real solutions often lie in better delivery of core services rather than layers of new initiatives. Marginal and underfunded programs should be dropped as we refocus on more effective delivery of basic services.

Our public school classrooms are a perfect microcosm of this phenomenon.  Between overcooked federal and state testing mandates, documentation-heavy programs to help struggling students, and a bevy of “flavor-of-the-month” programs, it is widely acknowledged that teachers no longer have enough time to actually teach.  By streamlining and eliminating mandates while maintaining accountability, we can improve instruction and save money at the same time.

Policy adjustments can also significantly reduce spending.  It costs upward of $30,000 annually to house a prisoner in a state corrections institution.  Taxpayers are punished as much as criminals every time we send someone to jail.  Though we call them corrections institutions, the overwhelming evidence is that prisons are far more adept at teaching criminal behavior than correcting it.  Do we really benefit by sending non-violent first time offenders to jail?   Alternative forms of punishment not only save money, but promise fewer career criminals in our future.

Now might also be a good time to review the state procurement code.  Many complain that it often adds significantly to cost.  I don’t pretend to know one way or the other, but given the claimed level of waste, review and possible adjustment of the procurement code seems reasonable.

Restructuring Taxes

Legislators face many proposals for tax breaks for narrow interest groups every year.   Far too many are approved and never reviewed again.  More taxes are exempted in tax credits and deductions than is actually collected in state income and gross receipt taxes each year.  The result is a tax system where tax-break losers subsidize tax-break winners.

We do not need to raise tax rates to increase revenues.  We need only eliminate tax breaks that serve no broad public purpose.  Is it really appropriate that New Mexico auto sales excise taxes are only about half as much as gross receipt taxes on other products?  Other states don’t give this tax break.  Forty-eight states have implemented “consolidated reporting” policies to prevent national corporations from avoiding local state taxes through accounting tricks.  New Mexico has not.  Correcting just these two inequities would increase revenues an estimated $60 to $100 million annually.

Legislation that requires annual review of tax breaks, and that imposes sunset clauses on all narrow tax and economic incentives deserves our support.

Curtailing Pay-to-Play

The impact of pay-to-play is much bigger than the criminal violations we regularly see in the news.  Technically legal transactions that violate the public trust probably cost us far more than illegal activity.  Giveaway deals by the State Land Office, subsidies that give (not loan) hundreds of thousands of dollars to private speculators for every acre of private lots they create, and film incentives that give a cash rebate of $.25 for every dollar production companies spend in New Mexico will cost well over $100 million this year.  Total costs are much higher and are impossible to measure.

If we abhor pay-to-play as much as we let on, we should change the laws that encourage it.  Contractors working for the state, and companies seeking publicly funded subsidies or tax breaks should be prohibited from making political contributions.  There is no hope of curtailing corruption if we’re too faint-hearted to make it illegal.  Legislation that addresses these “ethics” issues may well save taxpayers more money over the long term than any other change we implement.

Steve Fischmann is State Senator for District 37 and a retired Fortune 500 corporate executive.
By State Sen. Steve Fischmann

The January legislative session is fast approaching, for sale
and it’s time for both the governor and the Legislature to step up to the budget crisis.  Temporary federal aid, anabolics
gauze and Band-Aids have gotten us this far, website
but the first-aid kit is now empty.  Projected general fund revenues for fiscal 2010 have declined over 25 percent (from $6.4 billion to $4.7 billion), with no sign of significant revenue growth in sight.  Little has been done to address the long-term structural problems we face.  The tough decision-making still lies ahead.

It’s no mystery how we got here: Big increases in state spending, $700 million in tax cuts since 2002 (largely to the highest income earners), “economic development” perks of dubious public benefit, and questionable deals made in a “pay-to-play” political culture.  All of this was financed by a bubble in natural gas severance tax revenue that is unlikely to return, and financial-market shenanigans that fueled a bloated economy.

Tired posturing about indispensable government programs or no new taxes will not solve our problems.  A combination of immediate measures and long-term policy shifts can.  Successful businesses use tough times to reinvent themselves.  That is exactly what New Mexico State government needs to do.  It’s painful, but it sure beats the alternative.  Let’s not waste this crisis.

Here are some ideas for moving forward this next legislative session.

Reducing Government Spending

It’s human nature to get sloppy about spending when there’s lots of money around.  The first step back to financial stability is controlling spending.  The governor has created a citizen panel to review potential tax increases; we should do the same to address potential budget cuts.

There has been much discussion about “across-the-board” cuts to “share the pain.”  This will only result in across-the-board mediocrity.  Large bureaucracies tend to create new programs to solve each newly identified problem.  Real solutions often lie in better delivery of core services rather than layers of new initiatives. Marginal and underfunded programs should be dropped as we refocus on more effective delivery of basic services.

Our public school classrooms are a perfect microcosm of this phenomenon.  Between overcooked federal and state testing mandates, documentation-heavy programs to help struggling students, and a bevy of “flavor-of-the-month” programs, it is widely acknowledged that teachers no longer have enough time to actually teach.  By streamlining and eliminating mandates while maintaining accountability, we can improve instruction and save money at the same time.

Policy adjustments can also significantly reduce spending.  It costs upward of $30,000 annually to house a prisoner in a state corrections institution.  Taxpayers are punished as much as criminals every time we send someone to jail.  Though we call them corrections institutions, the overwhelming evidence is that prisons are far more adept at teaching criminal behavior than correcting it.  Do we really benefit by sending non-violent first time offenders to jail?   Alternative forms of punishment not only save money, but promise fewer career criminals in our future.

Now might also be a good time to review the state procurement code.  Many complain that it often adds significantly to cost.  I don’t pretend to know one way or the other, but given the claimed level of waste, review and possible adjustment of the procurement code seems reasonable.

Restructuring Taxes

Legislators face many proposals for tax breaks for narrow interest groups every year.   Far too many are approved and never reviewed again.  More taxes are exempted in tax credits and deductions than is actually collected in state income and gross receipt taxes each year.  The result is a tax system where tax-break losers subsidize tax-break winners.

We do not need to raise tax rates to increase revenues.  We need only eliminate tax breaks that serve no broad public purpose.  Is it really appropriate that New Mexico auto sales excise taxes are only about half as much as gross receipt taxes on other products?  Other states don’t give this tax break.  Forty-eight states have implemented “consolidated reporting” policies to prevent national corporations from avoiding local state taxes through accounting tricks.  New Mexico has not.  Correcting just these two inequities would increase revenues an estimated $60 to $100 million annually.

Legislation that requires annual review of tax breaks, and that imposes sunset clauses on all narrow tax and economic incentives deserves our support.

Curtailing Pay-to-Play

The impact of pay-to-play is much bigger than the criminal violations we regularly see in the news.  Technically legal transactions that violate the public trust probably cost us far more than illegal activity.  Giveaway deals by the State Land Office, subsidies that give (not loan) hundreds of thousands of dollars to private speculators for every acre of private lots they create, and film incentives that give a cash rebate of $.25 for every dollar production companies spend in New Mexico will cost well over $100 million this year.  Total costs are much higher and are impossible to measure.

If we abhor pay-to-play as much as we let on, we should change the laws that encourage it.  Contractors working for the state, and companies seeking publicly funded subsidies or tax breaks should be prohibited from making political contributions.  There is no hope of curtailing corruption if we’re too faint-hearted to make it illegal.  Legislation that addresses these “ethics” issues may well save taxpayers more money over the long term than any other change we implement.

Steve Fischmann is State Senator for District 37 and a retired Fortune 500 corporate executive.
By State Sen. Steve Fischmann

The January legislative session is fast approaching, capsule
and it’s time for both the governor and the Legislature to step up to the budget crisis.  Temporary federal aid, gauze and Band-Aids have gotten us this far, but the first-aid kit is now empty.  Projected general fund revenues for fiscal 2010 have declined over 25 percent (from $6.4 billion to $4.7 billion), with no sign of significant revenue growth in sight.  Little has been done to address the long-term structural problems we face.  The tough decision-making still lies ahead.

It’s no mystery how we got here: Big increases in state spending, $700 million in tax cuts since 2002 (largely to the highest income earners), “economic development” perks of dubious public benefit, and questionable deals made in a “pay-to-play” political culture.  All of this was financed by a bubble in natural gas severance tax revenue that is unlikely to return, and financial-market shenanigans that fueled a bloated economy.

Tired posturing about indispensable government programs or no new taxes will not solve our problems.  A combination of immediate measures and long-term policy shifts can.  Successful businesses use tough times to reinvent themselves.  That is exactly what New Mexico State government needs to do.  It’s painful, but it sure beats the alternative.  Let’s not waste this crisis.

Here are some ideas for moving forward this next legislative session.

Reducing Government Spending

It’s human nature to get sloppy about spending when there’s lots of money around.  The first step back to financial stability is controlling spending.  The governor has created a citizen panel to review potential tax increases; we should do the same to address potential budget cuts.

There has been much discussion about “across-the-board” cuts to “share the pain.”  This will only result in across-the-board mediocrity.  Large bureaucracies tend to create new programs to solve each newly identified problem.  Real solutions often lie in better delivery of core services rather than layers of new initiatives. Marginal and underfunded programs should be dropped as we refocus on more effective delivery of basic services.

Our public school classrooms are a perfect microcosm of this phenomenon.  Between overcooked federal and state testing mandates, documentation-heavy programs to help struggling students, and a bevy of “flavor-of-the-month” programs, it is widely acknowledged that teachers no longer have enough time to actually teach.  By streamlining and eliminating mandates while maintaining accountability, we can improve instruction and save money at the same time.

Policy adjustments can also significantly reduce spending.  It costs upward of $30,000 annually to house a prisoner in a state corrections institution.  Taxpayers are punished as much as criminals every time we send someone to jail.  Though we call them corrections institutions, the overwhelming evidence is that prisons are far more adept at teaching criminal behavior than correcting it.  Do we really benefit by sending non-violent first time offenders to jail?   Alternative forms of punishment not only save money, but promise fewer career criminals in our future.

Now might also be a good time to review the state procurement code.  Many complain that it often adds significantly to cost.  I don’t pretend to know one way or the other, but given the claimed level of waste, review and possible adjustment of the procurement code seems reasonable.

Restructuring Taxes

Legislators face many proposals for tax breaks for narrow interest groups every year.   Far too many are approved and never reviewed again.  More taxes are exempted in tax credits and deductions than is actually collected in state income and gross receipt taxes each year.  The result is a tax system where tax-break losers subsidize tax-break winners.

We do not need to raise tax rates to increase revenues.  We need only eliminate tax breaks that serve no broad public purpose.  Is it really appropriate that New Mexico auto sales excise taxes are only about half as much as gross receipt taxes on other products?  Other states don’t give this tax break.  Forty-eight states have implemented “consolidated reporting” policies to prevent national corporations from avoiding local state taxes through accounting tricks.  New Mexico has not.  Correcting just these two inequities would increase revenues an estimated $60 to $100 million annually.

Legislation that requires annual review of tax breaks, and that imposes sunset clauses on all narrow tax and economic incentives deserves our support.

Curtailing Pay-to-Play

The impact of pay-to-play is much bigger than the criminal violations we regularly see in the news.  Technically legal transactions that violate the public trust probably cost us far more than illegal activity.  Giveaway deals by the State Land Office, subsidies that give (not loan) hundreds of thousands of dollars to private speculators for every acre of private lots they create, and film incentives that give a cash rebate of $.25 for every dollar production companies spend in New Mexico will cost well over $100 million this year.  Total costs are much higher and are impossible to measure.

If we abhor pay-to-play as much as we let on, we should change the laws that encourage it.  Contractors working for the state, and companies seeking publicly funded subsidies or tax breaks should be prohibited from making political contributions.  There is no hope of curtailing corruption if we’re too faint-hearted to make it illegal.  Legislation that addresses these “ethics” issues may well save taxpayers more money over the long term than any other change we implement.

Steve Fischmann is State Senator for District 37 and a retired Fortune 500 corporate executive.
By State Sen. Steve Fischmann

The January legislative session is fast approaching, click
and it’s time for both the governor and the Legislature to step up to the budget crisis.  Temporary federal aid, generic
gauze and Band-Aids have gotten us this far, see
but the first-aid kit is now empty.  Projected general fund revenues for fiscal 2010 have declined over 25 percent (from $6.4 billion to $4.7 billion), with no sign of significant revenue growth in sight.  Little has been done to address the long-term structural problems we face.  The tough decision-making still lies ahead.

It’s no mystery how we got here: Big increases in state spending, $700 million in tax cuts since 2002 (largely to the highest income earners), “economic development” perks of dubious public benefit, and questionable deals made in a “pay-to-play” political culture.  All of this was financed by a bubble in natural gas severance tax revenue that is unlikely to return, and financial-market shenanigans that fueled a bloated economy.

Tired posturing about indispensable government programs or no new taxes will not solve our problems.  A combination of immediate measures and long-term policy shifts can.  Successful businesses use tough times to reinvent themselves.  That is exactly what New Mexico State government needs to do.  It’s painful, but it sure beats the alternative.  Let’s not waste this crisis.

Here are some ideas for moving forward this next legislative session.

Reducing Government Spending

It’s human nature to get sloppy about spending when there’s lots of money around.  The first step back to financial stability is controlling spending.  The governor has created a citizen panel to review potential tax increases; we should do the same to address potential budget cuts.

There has been much discussion about “across-the-board” cuts to “share the pain.”  This will only result in across-the-board mediocrity.  Large bureaucracies tend to create new programs to solve each newly identified problem.  Real solutions often lie in better delivery of core services rather than layers of new initiatives. Marginal and underfunded programs should be dropped as we refocus on more effective delivery of basic services.

Our public school classrooms are a perfect microcosm of this phenomenon.  Between overcooked federal and state testing mandates, documentation-heavy programs to help struggling students, and a bevy of “flavor-of-the-month” programs, it is widely acknowledged that teachers no longer have enough time to actually teach.  By streamlining and eliminating mandates while maintaining accountability, we can improve instruction and save money at the same time.

Policy adjustments can also significantly reduce spending.  It costs upward of $30,000 annually to house a prisoner in a state corrections institution.  Taxpayers are punished as much as criminals every time we send someone to jail.  Though we call them corrections institutions, the overwhelming evidence is that prisons are far more adept at teaching criminal behavior than correcting it.  Do we really benefit by sending non-violent first time offenders to jail?   Alternative forms of punishment not only save money, but promise fewer career criminals in our future.

Now might also be a good time to review the state procurement code.  Many complain that it often adds significantly to cost.  I don’t pretend to know one way or the other, but given the claimed level of waste, review and possible adjustment of the procurement code seems reasonable.

Restructuring Taxes

Legislators face many proposals for tax breaks for narrow interest groups every year.   Far too many are approved and never reviewed again.  More taxes are exempted in tax credits and deductions than is actually collected in state income and gross receipt taxes each year.  The result is a tax system where tax-break losers subsidize tax-break winners.

We do not need to raise tax rates to increase revenues.  We need only eliminate tax breaks that serve no broad public purpose.  Is it really appropriate that New Mexico auto sales excise taxes are only about half as much as gross receipt taxes on other products?  Other states don’t give this tax break.  Forty-eight states have implemented “consolidated reporting” policies to prevent national corporations from avoiding local state taxes through accounting tricks.  New Mexico has not.  Correcting just these two inequities would increase revenues an estimated $60 to $100 million annually.

Legislation that requires annual review of tax breaks, and that imposes sunset clauses on all narrow tax and economic incentives deserves our support.

Curtailing Pay-to-Play

The impact of pay-to-play is much bigger than the criminal violations we regularly see in the news.  Technically legal transactions that violate the public trust probably cost us far more than illegal activity.  Giveaway deals by the State Land Office, subsidies that give (not loan) hundreds of thousands of dollars to private speculators for every acre of private lots they create, and film incentives that give a cash rebate of $.25 for every dollar production companies spend in New Mexico will cost well over $100 million this year.  Total costs are much higher and are impossible to measure.

If we abhor pay-to-play as much as we let on, we should change the laws that encourage it.  Contractors working for the state, and companies seeking publicly funded subsidies or tax breaks should be prohibited from making political contributions.  There is no hope of curtailing corruption if we’re too faint-hearted to make it illegal.  Legislation that addresses these “ethics” issues may well save taxpayers more money over the long term than any other change we implement.

Steve Fischmann is State Senator for District 37 and a retired Fortune 500 corporate executive.
By State Sen. Steve Fischmann

The January legislative session is fast approaching, for sale
and it’s time for both the governor and the Legislature to step up to the budget crisis.  Temporary federal aid, anabolics
gauze and Band-Aids have gotten us this far, website
but the first-aid kit is now empty.  Projected general fund revenues for fiscal 2010 have declined over 25 percent (from $6.4 billion to $4.7 billion), with no sign of significant revenue growth in sight.  Little has been done to address the long-term structural problems we face.  The tough decision-making still lies ahead.

It’s no mystery how we got here: Big increases in state spending, $700 million in tax cuts since 2002 (largely to the highest income earners), “economic development” perks of dubious public benefit, and questionable deals made in a “pay-to-play” political culture.  All of this was financed by a bubble in natural gas severance tax revenue that is unlikely to return, and financial-market shenanigans that fueled a bloated economy.

Tired posturing about indispensable government programs or no new taxes will not solve our problems.  A combination of immediate measures and long-term policy shifts can.  Successful businesses use tough times to reinvent themselves.  That is exactly what New Mexico State government needs to do.  It’s painful, but it sure beats the alternative.  Let’s not waste this crisis.

Here are some ideas for moving forward this next legislative session.

Reducing Government Spending

It’s human nature to get sloppy about spending when there’s lots of money around.  The first step back to financial stability is controlling spending.  The governor has created a citizen panel to review potential tax increases; we should do the same to address potential budget cuts.

There has been much discussion about “across-the-board” cuts to “share the pain.”  This will only result in across-the-board mediocrity.  Large bureaucracies tend to create new programs to solve each newly identified problem.  Real solutions often lie in better delivery of core services rather than layers of new initiatives. Marginal and underfunded programs should be dropped as we refocus on more effective delivery of basic services.

Our public school classrooms are a perfect microcosm of this phenomenon.  Between overcooked federal and state testing mandates, documentation-heavy programs to help struggling students, and a bevy of “flavor-of-the-month” programs, it is widely acknowledged that teachers no longer have enough time to actually teach.  By streamlining and eliminating mandates while maintaining accountability, we can improve instruction and save money at the same time.

Policy adjustments can also significantly reduce spending.  It costs upward of $30,000 annually to house a prisoner in a state corrections institution.  Taxpayers are punished as much as criminals every time we send someone to jail.  Though we call them corrections institutions, the overwhelming evidence is that prisons are far more adept at teaching criminal behavior than correcting it.  Do we really benefit by sending non-violent first time offenders to jail?   Alternative forms of punishment not only save money, but promise fewer career criminals in our future.

Now might also be a good time to review the state procurement code.  Many complain that it often adds significantly to cost.  I don’t pretend to know one way or the other, but given the claimed level of waste, review and possible adjustment of the procurement code seems reasonable.

Restructuring Taxes

Legislators face many proposals for tax breaks for narrow interest groups every year.   Far too many are approved and never reviewed again.  More taxes are exempted in tax credits and deductions than is actually collected in state income and gross receipt taxes each year.  The result is a tax system where tax-break losers subsidize tax-break winners.

We do not need to raise tax rates to increase revenues.  We need only eliminate tax breaks that serve no broad public purpose.  Is it really appropriate that New Mexico auto sales excise taxes are only about half as much as gross receipt taxes on other products?  Other states don’t give this tax break.  Forty-eight states have implemented “consolidated reporting” policies to prevent national corporations from avoiding local state taxes through accounting tricks.  New Mexico has not.  Correcting just these two inequities would increase revenues an estimated $60 to $100 million annually.

Legislation that requires annual review of tax breaks, and that imposes sunset clauses on all narrow tax and economic incentives deserves our support.

Curtailing Pay-to-Play

The impact of pay-to-play is much bigger than the criminal violations we regularly see in the news.  Technically legal transactions that violate the public trust probably cost us far more than illegal activity.  Giveaway deals by the State Land Office, subsidies that give (not loan) hundreds of thousands of dollars to private speculators for every acre of private lots they create, and film incentives that give a cash rebate of $.25 for every dollar production companies spend in New Mexico will cost well over $100 million this year.  Total costs are much higher and are impossible to measure.

If we abhor pay-to-play as much as we let on, we should change the laws that encourage it.  Contractors working for the state, and companies seeking publicly funded subsidies or tax breaks should be prohibited from making political contributions.  There is no hope of curtailing corruption if we’re too faint-hearted to make it illegal.  Legislation that addresses these “ethics” issues may well save taxpayers more money over the long term than any other change we implement.

Steve Fischmann is State Senator for District 37 and a retired Fortune 500 corporate executive.
By State Sen. Steve Fischmann

The January legislative session is fast approaching, capsule
and it’s time for both the governor and the Legislature to step up to the budget crisis.  Temporary federal aid, gauze and Band-Aids have gotten us this far, but the first-aid kit is now empty.  Projected general fund revenues for fiscal 2010 have declined over 25 percent (from $6.4 billion to $4.7 billion), with no sign of significant revenue growth in sight.  Little has been done to address the long-term structural problems we face.  The tough decision-making still lies ahead.

It’s no mystery how we got here: Big increases in state spending, $700 million in tax cuts since 2002 (largely to the highest income earners), “economic development” perks of dubious public benefit, and questionable deals made in a “pay-to-play” political culture.  All of this was financed by a bubble in natural gas severance tax revenue that is unlikely to return, and financial-market shenanigans that fueled a bloated economy.

Tired posturing about indispensable government programs or no new taxes will not solve our problems.  A combination of immediate measures and long-term policy shifts can.  Successful businesses use tough times to reinvent themselves.  That is exactly what New Mexico State government needs to do.  It’s painful, but it sure beats the alternative.  Let’s not waste this crisis.

Here are some ideas for moving forward this next legislative session.

Reducing Government Spending

It’s human nature to get sloppy about spending when there’s lots of money around.  The first step back to financial stability is controlling spending.  The governor has created a citizen panel to review potential tax increases; we should do the same to address potential budget cuts.

There has been much discussion about “across-the-board” cuts to “share the pain.”  This will only result in across-the-board mediocrity.  Large bureaucracies tend to create new programs to solve each newly identified problem.  Real solutions often lie in better delivery of core services rather than layers of new initiatives. Marginal and underfunded programs should be dropped as we refocus on more effective delivery of basic services.

Our public school classrooms are a perfect microcosm of this phenomenon.  Between overcooked federal and state testing mandates, documentation-heavy programs to help struggling students, and a bevy of “flavor-of-the-month” programs, it is widely acknowledged that teachers no longer have enough time to actually teach.  By streamlining and eliminating mandates while maintaining accountability, we can improve instruction and save money at the same time.

Policy adjustments can also significantly reduce spending.  It costs upward of $30,000 annually to house a prisoner in a state corrections institution.  Taxpayers are punished as much as criminals every time we send someone to jail.  Though we call them corrections institutions, the overwhelming evidence is that prisons are far more adept at teaching criminal behavior than correcting it.  Do we really benefit by sending non-violent first time offenders to jail?   Alternative forms of punishment not only save money, but promise fewer career criminals in our future.

Now might also be a good time to review the state procurement code.  Many complain that it often adds significantly to cost.  I don’t pretend to know one way or the other, but given the claimed level of waste, review and possible adjustment of the procurement code seems reasonable.

Restructuring Taxes

Legislators face many proposals for tax breaks for narrow interest groups every year.   Far too many are approved and never reviewed again.  More taxes are exempted in tax credits and deductions than is actually collected in state income and gross receipt taxes each year.  The result is a tax system where tax-break losers subsidize tax-break winners.

We do not need to raise tax rates to increase revenues.  We need only eliminate tax breaks that serve no broad public purpose.  Is it really appropriate that New Mexico auto sales excise taxes are only about half as much as gross receipt taxes on other products?  Other states don’t give this tax break.  Forty-eight states have implemented “consolidated reporting” policies to prevent national corporations from avoiding local state taxes through accounting tricks.  New Mexico has not.  Correcting just these two inequities would increase revenues an estimated $60 to $100 million annually.

Legislation that requires annual review of tax breaks, and that imposes sunset clauses on all narrow tax and economic incentives deserves our support.

Curtailing Pay-to-Play

The impact of pay-to-play is much bigger than the criminal violations we regularly see in the news.  Technically legal transactions that violate the public trust probably cost us far more than illegal activity.  Giveaway deals by the State Land Office, subsidies that give (not loan) hundreds of thousands of dollars to private speculators for every acre of private lots they create, and film incentives that give a cash rebate of $.25 for every dollar production companies spend in New Mexico will cost well over $100 million this year.  Total costs are much higher and are impossible to measure.

If we abhor pay-to-play as much as we let on, we should change the laws that encourage it.  Contractors working for the state, and companies seeking publicly funded subsidies or tax breaks should be prohibited from making political contributions.  There is no hope of curtailing corruption if we’re too faint-hearted to make it illegal.  Legislation that addresses these “ethics” issues may well save taxpayers more money over the long term than any other change we implement.

Steve Fischmann is State Senator for District 37 and a retired Fortune 500 corporate executive.
By State Sen. Steve Fischmann

The January legislative session is fast approaching, click
and it’s time for both the governor and the Legislature to step up to the budget crisis.  Temporary federal aid, generic
gauze and Band-Aids have gotten us this far, see
but the first-aid kit is now empty.  Projected general fund revenues for fiscal 2010 have declined over 25 percent (from $6.4 billion to $4.7 billion), with no sign of significant revenue growth in sight.  Little has been done to address the long-term structural problems we face.  The tough decision-making still lies ahead.

It’s no mystery how we got here: Big increases in state spending, $700 million in tax cuts since 2002 (largely to the highest income earners), “economic development” perks of dubious public benefit, and questionable deals made in a “pay-to-play” political culture.  All of this was financed by a bubble in natural gas severance tax revenue that is unlikely to return, and financial-market shenanigans that fueled a bloated economy.

Tired posturing about indispensable government programs or no new taxes will not solve our problems.  A combination of immediate measures and long-term policy shifts can.  Successful businesses use tough times to reinvent themselves.  That is exactly what New Mexico State government needs to do.  It’s painful, but it sure beats the alternative.  Let’s not waste this crisis.

Here are some ideas for moving forward this next legislative session.

Reducing Government Spending

It’s human nature to get sloppy about spending when there’s lots of money around.  The first step back to financial stability is controlling spending.  The governor has created a citizen panel to review potential tax increases; we should do the same to address potential budget cuts.

There has been much discussion about “across-the-board” cuts to “share the pain.”  This will only result in across-the-board mediocrity.  Large bureaucracies tend to create new programs to solve each newly identified problem.  Real solutions often lie in better delivery of core services rather than layers of new initiatives. Marginal and underfunded programs should be dropped as we refocus on more effective delivery of basic services.

Our public school classrooms are a perfect microcosm of this phenomenon.  Between overcooked federal and state testing mandates, documentation-heavy programs to help struggling students, and a bevy of “flavor-of-the-month” programs, it is widely acknowledged that teachers no longer have enough time to actually teach.  By streamlining and eliminating mandates while maintaining accountability, we can improve instruction and save money at the same time.

Policy adjustments can also significantly reduce spending.  It costs upward of $30,000 annually to house a prisoner in a state corrections institution.  Taxpayers are punished as much as criminals every time we send someone to jail.  Though we call them corrections institutions, the overwhelming evidence is that prisons are far more adept at teaching criminal behavior than correcting it.  Do we really benefit by sending non-violent first time offenders to jail?   Alternative forms of punishment not only save money, but promise fewer career criminals in our future.

Now might also be a good time to review the state procurement code.  Many complain that it often adds significantly to cost.  I don’t pretend to know one way or the other, but given the claimed level of waste, review and possible adjustment of the procurement code seems reasonable.

Restructuring Taxes

Legislators face many proposals for tax breaks for narrow interest groups every year.   Far too many are approved and never reviewed again.  More taxes are exempted in tax credits and deductions than is actually collected in state income and gross receipt taxes each year.  The result is a tax system where tax-break losers subsidize tax-break winners.

We do not need to raise tax rates to increase revenues.  We need only eliminate tax breaks that serve no broad public purpose.  Is it really appropriate that New Mexico auto sales excise taxes are only about half as much as gross receipt taxes on other products?  Other states don’t give this tax break.  Forty-eight states have implemented “consolidated reporting” policies to prevent national corporations from avoiding local state taxes through accounting tricks.  New Mexico has not.  Correcting just these two inequities would increase revenues an estimated $60 to $100 million annually.

Legislation that requires annual review of tax breaks, and that imposes sunset clauses on all narrow tax and economic incentives deserves our support.

Curtailing Pay-to-Play

The impact of pay-to-play is much bigger than the criminal violations we regularly see in the news.  Technically legal transactions that violate the public trust probably cost us far more than illegal activity.  Giveaway deals by the State Land Office, subsidies that give (not loan) hundreds of thousands of dollars to private speculators for every acre of private lots they create, and film incentives that give a cash rebate of $.25 for every dollar production companies spend in New Mexico will cost well over $100 million this year.  Total costs are much higher and are impossible to measure.

If we abhor pay-to-play as much as we let on, we should change the laws that encourage it.  Contractors working for the state, and companies seeking publicly funded subsidies or tax breaks should be prohibited from making political contributions.  There is no hope of curtailing corruption if we’re too faint-hearted to make it illegal.  Legislation that addresses these “ethics” issues may well save taxpayers more money over the long term than any other change we implement.

Steve Fischmann is State Senator for District 37 and a retired Fortune 500 corporate executive.
By Gordon Solberg

As expected, drugs
the Copenhagen Climate Conference was a bust, showing once again the inability of government to cope with the unprecedented crises confronting us.  The problem is not so much the concept of government per se, but the fact that governments worldwide have been captured by global exploitative capitalism.  Governments serve their capitalist masters, not the people or the planet.

An increasing number of people correctly predicted an unsatisfactory outcome to the Climate Conference.  This means that more people are waking up to the reality we are living under.

Predicting the future is simple in principle.  The most important step — and also the hardest one — is to correctly assess present reality.  Then you plug in whatever parameters seem the most likely to occur… for example, “more of the same,” or “slight improvement,” or “radically worse,” whatever the case may be in that situation.  Since most people live in a delusional reality to begin with (believing, for example, that we live in a democracy), it’s no wonder that their predictions don’t count for much.

It’s gratifying to see that more people are seeing reality as it is, and are therefore able to see into the future to some extent.  Not that this makes any difference at this point, but at least a few people are awake to present realities.  Many people, for example, predicted that Oblahma would be a vast disappointment…  and sure enough, this has turned out to be the case.  In short, we was had.  (Even though Obama has received many nicknames already, I’m surprised that nobody is calling him Oblahma yet.  This seems like an obvious nickname for him, because when it comes time to assess his legacy, he will be known for three things:  blah, blah, blah.)

I was struck by how the robo-cops are the same the world over, even in “enlightened Scandinavia.”  This is because it’s a Global Empire, not just an American one.  Every element of the Empire has the same goals:  maximum profits, maximum resource extraction, maximum exploitation.  They care not a fig for “survival of the biosphere,”  “social justice,” and other such poppycock.  They are the Masters, they rule, the rabble are now powerless (in fact the rabble barely noticed as the Masters of the Universe took total control during the 50 years after World War II).

Back in the old days – 1968, say – cops were vicious in a hot-blooded way.  If they didn’t like your demonstration, they would crack your head with a billyclub and throw you in the paddywagon and haul your ass to jail.  Then you could all sit together in a cell and sing “We Shall Overcome” all night.  But not these days.

These days, cops – or at least the anti-demonstration robo-cops – are trained to be cold-blooded torturers.  At Copenhagen, demonstrators who got arrested had their hands handcuffed behind their backs, the first step in the arrest ritual.  (Cops do this now as a matter of course… supposedly for the protection of the cops, but actually to reduce the arrestee to a helpless and uncomfortable state.  It’s a dominance ritual.)  Then, the demonstrators were forced to sit on the cold pavement for hours, to the point that some of them had to urinate on themselves.  More dominance.  (This might not seem like much of a torture, but I urge you to try this for a few hours, and let me know how it makes you feel.)  When the demonstrators finally got hauled off to jail, they encountered facilities specifically designed to be as inhumanly uncomfortable as possible.

Modern-day demonstrations are ineffective, and don’t accomplish anything.  No doubt getting beat up by cops gives demonstrators status points with their peers, but so what?  If the demonstrators armed themselves and battled the cops on a more equal footing, so what?  The Masters of the Universe would remain untouched.  Why isn’t more monkeywrenching going on?  It seems obvious that the Empire is vulnerable to some extent:  its exposed flank is everywhere.  Either the hot-blooded young revolutionaries aren’t desperate enough yet, or they’ve been successfully programmed into passivity.  (Not only has the Empire colonized the entire planet, but our own minds as well.)

At any rate, once again we find that the politicians and bureaucrats fiddle while the planet burns.  People – for the most part – still don’t dare to speak the most likely outcome of all this madness.  After all, there’s not much you can do with “massive dieoff.”  You can’t make a career out of it.  People aren’t going to give you a standing ovation when you enter the room.  It’s deemed better to be an Al Gore or Bill McKibben, fighting the good fight till the very end.  Whatever.  We’ll continue to do what we’re already doing, as long as circumstances allow us to do so.  Then we’ll start doing something else.

In my case, my internal guidance is telling me to start thinking about dropping back out.  I was pretty well dropped out at one time.  It was a magical time of great freedom and relatively little impact on the planet, but I didn’t have any kind of act together back then.  Now, seeing what’s coming, I feel like I’ve taken the “laying up treasure on Earth” routine to as ridiculous an extent as I can bear.  It’s time to change my evil ways.  Then maybe more guidance will come.

(Gordon Solberg’s blog is http://newearthtimes.blogspot.com)

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Serving two masters turns Democrats into confusion-mongers

By Steve Klinger

President Obama’s decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan is tragic, view
ill-advised and yet entirely predictable. The candidate of hope and change could loudly proclaim his unencumbered opposition to the war in Iraq (he wasn’t even a U.S. Senator then), phlebologist
but the President of the United States has a much more difficult time bucking the flow of all the massive forces of military-industrial imperialism that conspire to suck rebellious notions out of a commander-in-chief’s head.

When that president listens too much to the very generals charged with accomplishing some sort of military victory in said war, buy information pills
the conclusion is inevitable; all that’s left is to choose the degree of escalation – in this case, the number of new troops who will be cast into the killing machine.

The buildup will be rationalized with an attempt at a firm exit strategy, of course, and a forceful proclamation that our commitment is not open-ended. Does this start to sound like Iraq? Obama no doubt has convinced himself his decision is the best available option. But no matter how you gift-wrap it, despite months of conferencing, consulting and deliberation, Obama chose not the change for which he was elected but rather perpetuation of a flawed and militaristic foreign policy.

The fact that this nation is armpit-deep in a deteriorating conflict of its own creation is no valid reason to offer up more young Americans to die. Nor is the loathsome alternative of watching the Taliban retake control of this agglomeration of tribal villages reason enough to heighten our commitment to the corrupt Karzai regime and pour an additional $30 billion into propping up a house of cards.

As for Al Qaeda – the target of our invasion in 2001 – multiple intelligence sources now place the core leadership in Pakistan, not Afghanistan. To escalate the war on the soil of the latter does little to defeat the foe that has regrouped in the former. The argument can be made that a heightened U.S. presence will keep Al Qaeda from returning to Afghanistan, but an increased military commitment now does not mean that Afghan forces will rise to the task of defending their own borders any time in the foreseeable future. Beefing up our force for the short term also may reassure Pakistan of our commitment to the region but will not magically stabilize the tottering Zardari government or inspire it to get tough with Al Qaeda or the Pakistani Taliban, as long as that divided nation is supportive of those elements.

How many Vietnams and Iraqs does it take to learn the lesson that a military force does not produce a political solution – especially not in a radically different culture, when that force acts as an infidel presence that spreads resentment and instability?

There is so much logic on the side of Obama ordering his generals to cut their losses and pull out of Afghanistan (and make haste to complete the withdrawal our forces from Iraq) that we lose sight of all the weight on the other side of the equation – not morally defensible, but heavy with precedent and pragmatism. There is our history of militarism that has dotted the globe with American soldiers, especially since 1945, our age of empire. There is the defense industry and its incestuous relationship with the Pentagon (what Ike dubbed the military-industrial complex) that drives a huge component of our economy and feeds on unending war. There is the power of the lobbyists for all those interests that thrive on the expansion of markets into corners of the world that must be “protected” by a strong military presence. There is the ever-escalating demand for armaments to match the weapons of our customer-nations’ enemies, real or imagined. And if any would question our unsustainable course, there is the complicit corporate media always at the ready to make the government’s case rather than speak truth to power.

And so Obama will do what every president does, rationalizing the just to accommodate the necessary, sacrificing the indoctrinated to advance the self-interested, cloaking it all in a mantle of benevolent patriotism to protect the self-anointed.

Words, artfully crafted. Emotions, cynically manipulated. Blood, unconscionably let. War, endless justified.
By Steve Klinger

President Obama’s decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan is tragic, view
ill-advised and yet entirely predictable. The candidate of hope and change could loudly proclaim his unencumbered opposition to the war in Iraq (he wasn’t even a U.S. Senator then), phlebologist
but the President of the United States has a much more difficult time bucking the flow of all the massive forces of military-industrial imperialism that conspire to suck rebellious notions out of a commander-in-chief’s head.

When that president listens too much to the very generals charged with accomplishing some sort of military victory in said war, buy information pills
the conclusion is inevitable; all that’s left is to choose the degree of escalation – in this case, the number of new troops who will be cast into the killing machine.

The buildup will be rationalized with an attempt at a firm exit strategy, of course, and a forceful proclamation that our commitment is not open-ended. Does this start to sound like Iraq? Obama no doubt has convinced himself his decision is the best available option. But no matter how you gift-wrap it, despite months of conferencing, consulting and deliberation, Obama chose not the change for which he was elected but rather perpetuation of a flawed and militaristic foreign policy.

The fact that this nation is armpit-deep in a deteriorating conflict of its own creation is no valid reason to offer up more young Americans to die. Nor is the loathsome alternative of watching the Taliban retake control of this agglomeration of tribal villages reason enough to heighten our commitment to the corrupt Karzai regime and pour an additional $30 billion into propping up a house of cards.

As for Al Qaeda – the target of our invasion in 2001 – multiple intelligence sources now place the core leadership in Pakistan, not Afghanistan. To escalate the war on the soil of the latter does little to defeat the foe that has regrouped in the former. The argument can be made that a heightened U.S. presence will keep Al Qaeda from returning to Afghanistan, but an increased military commitment now does not mean that Afghan forces will rise to the task of defending their own borders any time in the foreseeable future. Beefing up our force for the short term also may reassure Pakistan of our commitment to the region but will not magically stabilize the tottering Zardari government or inspire it to get tough with Al Qaeda or the Pakistani Taliban, as long as that divided nation is supportive of those elements.

How many Vietnams and Iraqs does it take to learn the lesson that a military force does not produce a political solution – especially not in a radically different culture, when that force acts as an infidel presence that spreads resentment and instability?

There is so much logic on the side of Obama ordering his generals to cut their losses and pull out of Afghanistan (and make haste to complete the withdrawal our forces from Iraq) that we lose sight of all the weight on the other side of the equation – not morally defensible, but heavy with precedent and pragmatism. There is our history of militarism that has dotted the globe with American soldiers, especially since 1945, our age of empire. There is the defense industry and its incestuous relationship with the Pentagon (what Ike dubbed the military-industrial complex) that drives a huge component of our economy and feeds on unending war. There is the power of the lobbyists for all those interests that thrive on the expansion of markets into corners of the world that must be “protected” by a strong military presence. There is the ever-escalating demand for armaments to match the weapons of our customer-nations’ enemies, real or imagined. And if any would question our unsustainable course, there is the complicit corporate media always at the ready to make the government’s case rather than speak truth to power.

And so Obama will do what every president does, rationalizing the just to accommodate the necessary, sacrificing the indoctrinated to advance the self-interested, cloaking it all in a mantle of benevolent patriotism to protect the self-anointed.

Words, artfully crafted. Emotions, cynically manipulated. Blood, unconscionably let. War, endless justified.
By Steve Klinger

President Obama’s decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan is tragic, cure ill-advised and yet entirely predictable. The candidate of hope and change could loudly proclaim his unencumbered opposition to the war in Iraq (he wasn’t even a U.S. Senator then), physician but the President of the United States has a much more difficult time bucking the flow of all the massive forces of military-industrial imperialism that conspire to suck rebellious notions out of a commander-in-chief’s head.

When that president listens too much to the very generals charged with accomplishing some sort of military victory in said war, the conclusion is inevitable; all that’s left is to choose the degree of escalation – in this case, the number of new troops who will be cast into the killing machine.

The buildup will be rationalized with some sort of vague exit strategy, of course, and a forceful proclamation that our commitment is not open-ended. Does this start to sound like Iraq? Obama no doubt has convinced himself his decision is the best available option. But no matter how you gift-wrap it, despite months of conferencing, consulting and deliberation, Obama chose not the change for which he was elected but rather perpetuation of a flawed and militaristic foreign policy.

The fact that this nation is armpit-deep in a deteriorating conflict of its own creation is no valid reason to offer up more young Americans to die. Nor is the loathsome alternative of watching the Taliban retake control of this agglomeration of tribal villages reason enough to heighten our commitment to the corrupt Karzai regime and pour an additional $30 billion into propping up a house of cards.

As for Al Qaeda – the target of our invasion in 2001 – multiple intelligence sources now place the core leadership in Pakistan, not Afghanistan. To escalate the war on the soil of the latter does little to defeat the foe that has regrouped in the former. The argument can be made that a heightened U.S. presence will keep Al Qaeda from returning to Afghanistan, but an increased military commitment now does not mean that Afghan forces will rise to the task of defending their own borders any time in the foreseeable future. Beefing up our force for the short term also may reassure Pakistan of our commitment to the region but will not magically stabilize the tottering Zardari government or inspire it to get tough with Al Qaeda or the Pakistani Taliban, as long as that divided nation is supportive of those elements.

How many Vietnams and Iraqs does it take to learn the lesson that a military force does not produce a political solution – especially not in a radically different culture, when that force acts as an infidel presence that spreads resentment and instability?

There is so much logic on the side of Obama ordering his generals to cut their losses and pull out of Afghanistan (and make haste to complete the withdrawal our forces from Iraq) that we lose sight of all the weight on the other side of the equation – not morally defensible, but heavy with precedent and pragmatism. There is our history of militarism that has dotted the globe with American soldiers, especially since 1945, our age of empire. There is the defense industry and its incestuous relationship with the Pentagon (what Ike dubbed the military-industrial complex) that drives a huge component of our economy and feeds on unending war. There is the power of the lobbyists for all those interests that thrive on the expansion of markets into corners of the world that must be “protected” by a strong military presence. There is the ever-escalating demand for armaments to match the weapons of our customer-nations’ enemies, real or imagined. And if any would question our unsustainable course, there is the complicit corporate media always at the ready to make the government’s case rather than speak truth to power.

And so Obama will do what every president does, rationalizing the just to accommodate the necessary, sacrificing the indoctrinated to advance the self-interested, cloaking it all in a mantle of benevolent patriotism to protect the self-anointed.

Words, artfully crafted. Emotions, cynically manipulated. Blood, unconscionably let. War, endless justified.
By Steve Klinger

President Obama’s decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan is tragic, view
ill-advised and yet entirely predictable. The candidate of hope and change could loudly proclaim his unencumbered opposition to the war in Iraq (he wasn’t even a U.S. Senator then), phlebologist
but the President of the United States has a much more difficult time bucking the flow of all the massive forces of military-industrial imperialism that conspire to suck rebellious notions out of a commander-in-chief’s head.

When that president listens too much to the very generals charged with accomplishing some sort of military victory in said war, buy information pills
the conclusion is inevitable; all that’s left is to choose the degree of escalation – in this case, the number of new troops who will be cast into the killing machine.

The buildup will be rationalized with an attempt at a firm exit strategy, of course, and a forceful proclamation that our commitment is not open-ended. Does this start to sound like Iraq? Obama no doubt has convinced himself his decision is the best available option. But no matter how you gift-wrap it, despite months of conferencing, consulting and deliberation, Obama chose not the change for which he was elected but rather perpetuation of a flawed and militaristic foreign policy.

The fact that this nation is armpit-deep in a deteriorating conflict of its own creation is no valid reason to offer up more young Americans to die. Nor is the loathsome alternative of watching the Taliban retake control of this agglomeration of tribal villages reason enough to heighten our commitment to the corrupt Karzai regime and pour an additional $30 billion into propping up a house of cards.

As for Al Qaeda – the target of our invasion in 2001 – multiple intelligence sources now place the core leadership in Pakistan, not Afghanistan. To escalate the war on the soil of the latter does little to defeat the foe that has regrouped in the former. The argument can be made that a heightened U.S. presence will keep Al Qaeda from returning to Afghanistan, but an increased military commitment now does not mean that Afghan forces will rise to the task of defending their own borders any time in the foreseeable future. Beefing up our force for the short term also may reassure Pakistan of our commitment to the region but will not magically stabilize the tottering Zardari government or inspire it to get tough with Al Qaeda or the Pakistani Taliban, as long as that divided nation is supportive of those elements.

How many Vietnams and Iraqs does it take to learn the lesson that a military force does not produce a political solution – especially not in a radically different culture, when that force acts as an infidel presence that spreads resentment and instability?

There is so much logic on the side of Obama ordering his generals to cut their losses and pull out of Afghanistan (and make haste to complete the withdrawal our forces from Iraq) that we lose sight of all the weight on the other side of the equation – not morally defensible, but heavy with precedent and pragmatism. There is our history of militarism that has dotted the globe with American soldiers, especially since 1945, our age of empire. There is the defense industry and its incestuous relationship with the Pentagon (what Ike dubbed the military-industrial complex) that drives a huge component of our economy and feeds on unending war. There is the power of the lobbyists for all those interests that thrive on the expansion of markets into corners of the world that must be “protected” by a strong military presence. There is the ever-escalating demand for armaments to match the weapons of our customer-nations’ enemies, real or imagined. And if any would question our unsustainable course, there is the complicit corporate media always at the ready to make the government’s case rather than speak truth to power.

And so Obama will do what every president does, rationalizing the just to accommodate the necessary, sacrificing the indoctrinated to advance the self-interested, cloaking it all in a mantle of benevolent patriotism to protect the self-anointed.

Words, artfully crafted. Emotions, cynically manipulated. Blood, unconscionably let. War, endless justified.
By Steve Klinger

President Obama’s decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan is tragic, cure ill-advised and yet entirely predictable. The candidate of hope and change could loudly proclaim his unencumbered opposition to the war in Iraq (he wasn’t even a U.S. Senator then), physician but the President of the United States has a much more difficult time bucking the flow of all the massive forces of military-industrial imperialism that conspire to suck rebellious notions out of a commander-in-chief’s head.

When that president listens too much to the very generals charged with accomplishing some sort of military victory in said war, the conclusion is inevitable; all that’s left is to choose the degree of escalation – in this case, the number of new troops who will be cast into the killing machine.

The buildup will be rationalized with some sort of vague exit strategy, of course, and a forceful proclamation that our commitment is not open-ended. Does this start to sound like Iraq? Obama no doubt has convinced himself his decision is the best available option. But no matter how you gift-wrap it, despite months of conferencing, consulting and deliberation, Obama chose not the change for which he was elected but rather perpetuation of a flawed and militaristic foreign policy.

The fact that this nation is armpit-deep in a deteriorating conflict of its own creation is no valid reason to offer up more young Americans to die. Nor is the loathsome alternative of watching the Taliban retake control of this agglomeration of tribal villages reason enough to heighten our commitment to the corrupt Karzai regime and pour an additional $30 billion into propping up a house of cards.

As for Al Qaeda – the target of our invasion in 2001 – multiple intelligence sources now place the core leadership in Pakistan, not Afghanistan. To escalate the war on the soil of the latter does little to defeat the foe that has regrouped in the former. The argument can be made that a heightened U.S. presence will keep Al Qaeda from returning to Afghanistan, but an increased military commitment now does not mean that Afghan forces will rise to the task of defending their own borders any time in the foreseeable future. Beefing up our force for the short term also may reassure Pakistan of our commitment to the region but will not magically stabilize the tottering Zardari government or inspire it to get tough with Al Qaeda or the Pakistani Taliban, as long as that divided nation is supportive of those elements.

How many Vietnams and Iraqs does it take to learn the lesson that a military force does not produce a political solution – especially not in a radically different culture, when that force acts as an infidel presence that spreads resentment and instability?

There is so much logic on the side of Obama ordering his generals to cut their losses and pull out of Afghanistan (and make haste to complete the withdrawal our forces from Iraq) that we lose sight of all the weight on the other side of the equation – not morally defensible, but heavy with precedent and pragmatism. There is our history of militarism that has dotted the globe with American soldiers, especially since 1945, our age of empire. There is the defense industry and its incestuous relationship with the Pentagon (what Ike dubbed the military-industrial complex) that drives a huge component of our economy and feeds on unending war. There is the power of the lobbyists for all those interests that thrive on the expansion of markets into corners of the world that must be “protected” by a strong military presence. There is the ever-escalating demand for armaments to match the weapons of our customer-nations’ enemies, real or imagined. And if any would question our unsustainable course, there is the complicit corporate media always at the ready to make the government’s case rather than speak truth to power.

And so Obama will do what every president does, rationalizing the just to accommodate the necessary, sacrificing the indoctrinated to advance the self-interested, cloaking it all in a mantle of benevolent patriotism to protect the self-anointed.

Words, artfully crafted. Emotions, cynically manipulated. Blood, unconscionably let. War, endless justified.
By Gordon Solberg

I’ve been an observer of politics since junior high school. (Does anybody remember Jack Redman’s run for Congress in 1962?) To me, anorexia
politics has been the ultimate spectator sport. Like sports, page
there are winners and losers, mind with the added thrill that the winners get power in the real world. It’s a compelling spectacle, but lately it’s started to pall for me. I get tired of watching the idiots on Mount Olympus screwing things up. It’s like watching a really bad reality TV series. When you already know how the series is going to turn out, why bother watching?

The Bush era was easy to scope out. The plot line was simple. The Republicans are always cartoonish in their venality, so we always know exactly what to expect from them. When they’re in power, they’ll cram their agenda right down our collective throat, no nonsense. And the Dems will whimper and ask for more. Makes me glad I’m not a Democrat.

Now that the Democrats are supposedly in power, the situation is far more complex. Anything the Dems do is pre-compromised and so convoluted that only a policy wonk can follow the ever-changing twists and turns of a piece of legislation as it makes its tortuous way through the legislative meat grinder. The Dems will jab and feint and dither and flip and flop until you’re totally confused. What do they stand for, again? Oh right, they’re trying to serve two masters: the people who elected them, and the corporations that fund them. Hmmm, they must ask, how to serve the corporations while keeping the people as confused as possible? Maybe incomprehensible legislation will put people to sleep? Maybe sending diametrically opposite messages will keep people confused? And, how about convincing people that instead of insisting on half a loaf, they should just sit back and enjoy the smell of baking bread instead? There are so many options for the clever confusion-monger!

It doesn’t matter what the issue is – health care “reform,” financial system “reform,” climate change legislation, whatever. The end product is a 1000-page piece of legalese that, when you read it under a microscope to parse its true meaning, turns out to actually make things worse. Our 233-year-old experiment in representative government hasn’t turned out very well.

***

The Internet is full of fabulous writers, and just look at the impact they’re having out there in the larger world! (Which just goes to show that if you want to be a major player, you’ve got to get on national TV. Writing is so 18th century.) At any rate, here are a few of my favorites:

Matt Taibbi. Writes for Rolling Stone and has a blog. I appreciate his insight and take-no-prisoners writing style. http://trueslant.com/matttaibbi

Digby. She posts several times a day on her blog. Her insights into Congress, the press, and all kinds of sociodynamics are unparalleled. http://digbysblog.blogspot.com

Joe Bageant. Born a redneck, and offers a lot of insights into redneck culture and why rednecks vote Republican. http://joebageant.com

James Howard Kunstler. I look forward to his weekly dose of doom-and-gloom every Monday morning. He’s a very entertaining writer, considering his subject matter. http://kunstler.com

Ilargi and Stoneleigh put out a financial blog, The Automatic Earth. They post more financial information than I can assimilate, but I always enjoy Ilargi’s commentary. If you ever find yourself believing the good news propaganda about the economy, try this blog for an antidote. http://theautomaticearth.blogspot.com

And of course my own blog. I try to go easy on the political and doom-and-gloom stuff, but sometimes I have no choice. I prefer to post pretty pictures, homestead happenings, signs of the seasons, and other positive reflections of life. It’s still a good life, despite the catastrophes on their way. http://newearthtimes.blogspot.com

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White Guys in Suits

By Gordon Solberg
I’ve been on a nostalgia kick lately. I’ve never been one to live in the past, tadalafil website like this which is why I always have my projects to carry me forward. But lately there’s been this NMSU grad student who’s doing his master’s thesis on the 60s “unrest” at NMSU, doctor abortion of which I was a key player. So he’s been asking me questions, this site and my brain has been stimulated to think about that era and its aftermath.

You know me: I like to immediately jump to whatever conclusion I’m capable of jumping to. In this case, the conclusion is this: the white guys in suits won. The 60s were just an asterisk, if that. We’re about to enter a time in which the 60s will be forgotten. I’m sorry if I’m disabusing anybody from their final shred of hope here, but facts are facts. There was never any doubt all along about who would win.

Americans have always been so easy, thinking they’re free and all. They are so easy to control. All one has to do is muddy the waters, keep the fear level up, divide and conquer, and Americans (for the most part) will believe whatever they’re told by their authority figures. Who just happen to be – surprise! – white guys in suits. As for the ones who see through the lies? So what? Exactly what are they going to do about it? Rise up or something? Don’t make me laugh.

Or, make me laugh! Why not? Ha ha!

As you may have noticed, the white guys in suits have been consolidating their power during the past 30 years. It began with Reagan, who cut taxes on the wealthy (who happen to be white guys in suits), and got rid of those pesky regulations on corporations (which are run by white guys in suits). As you also may have noticed, that really was a coup d’etat in 2000. The aftermath from that one will probably last forever. The Bush Administration’s parting gift was the “financial crisis of 2008” which allowed them to use the shock doctrine to start draining the remaining loot from the Treasury. (This will take awhile because the Federal Reserve (which runs the Treasury Dept.) can always create an unlimited supply of new money, as if by magic!) I use ironic quotes around “financial crisis” because, seriously, who told us that the economy was only microseconds from collapse unless heroic measures were taken? Oh, that’s right: white guys in suits!

Now, we have definitive information that the global climate is mere decades away from an irreversible tipping point. (Actually, we are already beyond the tipping point, but we’re still within the final days of the “era of stability” in which our species evolved.) What are now trends will soon become the new reality, and we will find that our species programming is even more pitifully inadequate than it already is. And who was it who sowed doubt and confusion about global warming during the critical 70s and 80s and 90s, and who are still doing it today? You know who!

What if we had won, and not the white guys in suits? What if? It never hurts to fantasize, does it? What if we had actually created a counterculture strong enough to withstand the insane mainstream culture? For one thing, “sustainability” would now be more than a punchline. Energy use would be much less. Pollution would be much less. Recycling would be the rule. Landfills would be much smaller. People would sing and dance a lot more. Let me dig into the archives and find just the right quote from myself:

“This country needs a radically new commitment to the concept of wise government. Our corrupt, winner-take-all, lowest-common-denominator political system is simply not working, and needs to be replaced. We desperately need some wisdom from our “leaders,” not more sleaze. A few starter programs for a wise government would include a new emphasis on alternative energy production, energy conservation, population control, and holistic health care. These programs would save billions of dollars every year in the long run, and in the short run they could be subsidized by diverting funds from the more ridiculous military weapons programs and other forms of corporate welfare.

“On an individual level, we need more gardens and orchards, a more natural diet (that’s what gardens and orchards are for!), more exercise, less television, more fresh air, less toxic exhaust fumes, more bird songs, less traffic, more bicycle paths, more solar energy, more stars, more silence, more time to recollect ourselves, and more interpersonal sharing that goes beyond the bright superficial chatter typical of today’s shallow mega-culture. We need less manufactured soul-shriveling “entertainment” and more of the primal community-building boogie that is our sacred God-given birthright — making music, singing, dancing, drumming. Making a joyful noise. Shelling peas together. Digging dirt. Smelling roses. Walking in the forest or the desert. Picking apples. Pulling weeds. Fulfilling our true needs.”

I wrote that in 1997. How did it turn out? Is 12 years enough to tell? Do we need more time to make a final determination? As you can see, this country – as always – has been running at full speed in exactly the wrong direction all these years. Why? Because the white guys in suits determine the trajectory, not idealistic bloggers sitting at their keyboards in the predawn hours.

Dawn! There’s that word again! The word that triggers what’s now known as “the final paragraph” when I slowly insert myself back into the workaday world!

I find it useful to face up to reality and dispense with false hope. There’s something to be learned from all this. Something about death, and acceptance. Something that ties in to Matthew 6:19-21: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” “Heaven” is right here, right now, not in some imagined “place” you “go to” after you die.

Yes, I want to write my opus, which will probably be 100 words long, and sum it all up: birth, death, meaning, chaos, whatever. Till then, I’ll just meander along here, like a slug in a garden, leaving a slime trail for you to follow.

Read all of Gordon Solberg’s blogs at www.newearthtimes.blogspot.com

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The stranglehold of the status quo: The breakdown begins

By Bruce Gagnon

sick Helvetica, phimosis Arial;”>


Yesterday we witnessed a flurry of emails and articles proclaiming victory after President Obama’s announcement that he was going to scrap George W. Bush’s plans to deploy missile defense interceptors in Poland and a Star Wars radar in the Czech Republic.  There is no doubt that our peace activist friends in those two countries do indeed have reason to celebrate after their hard and determined work to stop those deployments.  We also need to recognize and thank the many people around the world who acted in solidarity with them during these past couple years of intensive campaigning.

But now that we’ve had a day to rejoice, the time has come for more reflection on what the Obama administration intends to do next.  I’ve quickly learned during these eight months of watching Obama in action that when he gives something with one hand it is wise to watch what his other hand is taking away.

In his September 17 speech Obama stated that his new missile defense architecture for Europe would be more “comprehensive than the previous [Bush] program” and would be “enhanced” by NATO involvement.

Secretary of War Robert Gates was left to explain the details of the new missile defense “architecture” that would replace the now rejected deployment plan for Poland and the Czech Republic.

Gates stated that he was the one who had proposed three years ago to deploy the missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic.  He concluded that the original plan was no longer the best military “architecture” for the current “threat” from Iran.  Thus instead of missile defense interceptors that would target offending missiles in their mid-course of flight, and that had a series of bad test results, the Pentagon now wanted to deploy in northern and southern Europe missile defense systems that had a proven testing record and were more appropriate for the kind of threat now expected from Iran.

The intelligence community now assesses that the threat from Iran’s short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, such as the Shahab-3, is developing more rapidly than previously projected,” Gates said. “This poses an increased and more immediate threat to our forces on the European continent, as well as to our allies.”

Gates continued, “We now have proven capabilities to intercept these [short range] ballistic missiles with land and sea-based interceptors supported by much improved sensors.  This allows us to deploy a distributed sensor network rather than a single-fixed site, like the kind slated for the Czech Republic.”

US Navy Aegis destroyers, outfitted with Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) missile defense interceptors, would “provide flexibility to move interceptors from one region to another,” Gates said.  In years to come the SM-3 will be upgraded and be deployed throughout Europe as land-based systems as well.  Since 2007 the SM-3 has had eight successful tests, including the February of 2008 shoot-down of a falling military satellite with an SM-3 missile from an Aegis ship in what many saw as proof that these systems also had “anti-satellite” weapons capability.

You can watch brief video clips of Gates at <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vBF0OJskbY&amp;feature=player_embedded>  and Obama at <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cx-nLJSkJgA&amp;feature=player_embedded>  from yesterday.

The Russians first reaction was positive, as would be expected, since they were deeply concerned that the Poland and Czech deployments could be used by the US as the shield in a first-strike attack.  But their concerns have not completely disappeared.

The Washington Post  <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/17/AR2009091700639.html?hpid=topnews&amp;sid=ST2009091701841> reported today that Maj. Gen. Vladimir Dvorkin, former chief of the Russian military’s main research institute for nuclear strategy, cautioned that the reconfigured U.S. system could still pose a threat to Russia. “Everything depends on the scale of such a system,” he told the Interfax news agency. “If it comprises a multitude of facilities, including a space echelon, it may threaten the Russian potential of nuclear deterrence.”

As described by Gates and his top generals, Obama’s new missile defense plan will unfold in three stages. By 2011, the Pentagon will deploy Navy Aegis ships equipped with SM-3 interceptors in the eastern Mediterranean.

A second phase in about 2015 will field an upgraded, land-based SM-3 in allied countries, and discussions are underway with Poland and the Czech Republic on basing the missiles in their territory, Gates said. In 2018, the third phase will deploy a larger and more capable missile, which will allow the system to protect Europe and the United States against short- and intermediate-range rockets and, eventually, intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Bloomberg News  <http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&amp;sid=aXU5ox7TB9i8> reports that, “This shift clearly benefits Lockheed Martin and Raytheon and is negative” for Boeing.  “The move away from fixed missile-defense sites in Eastern Europe is a continuation of the more flexible, tactical missile-defense shield that Secretary Gates advocated,” said Rob Stallard, an analyst at Macquarie Capital Inc. in New York.

The Pentagon’s 2010 budget seeks 250 Standard Missile-3 interceptors. It also seeks to increase to 27 from 21 the number of warships equipped to
launch the Standard Missile-3s and requests $1.6 billion to develop software and hardware to upgrade ships and to develop a ground-based model.

The Pentagon is also now promising Poland that Patriot missiles will still be deployed in that country as previously planned.

So in the end I see this as an adjustment in strategy due to technology as much as anything.  The flexible, more mobile, short range missile defense systems are proving ready to go while the former Bush proposal for Poland and Czech Republic included technologies that are not yet proven.

Obama can appear to be stepping back from an immediate confrontation with Russia but in fact he is following the lead of the Pentagon who for some time has been saying that they must move to expand the more promising Navy Aegis-based missile defense system.  This program has already been dramatically growing in the Asian-Pacific region and will now be slated for expanded European operations.

Bruce K. Gagnon
Coordinator
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
By Bruce Gagnon

sick Helvetica, phimosis Arial;”>


Yesterday we witnessed a flurry of emails and articles proclaiming victory after President Obama’s announcement that he was going to scrap George W. Bush’s plans to deploy missile defense interceptors in Poland and a Star Wars radar in the Czech Republic.  There is no doubt that our peace activist friends in those two countries do indeed have reason to celebrate after their hard and determined work to stop those deployments.  We also need to recognize and thank the many people around the world who acted in solidarity with them during these past couple years of intensive campaigning.

But now that we’ve had a day to rejoice, the time has come for more reflection on what the Obama administration intends to do next.  I’ve quickly learned during these eight months of watching Obama in action that when he gives something with one hand it is wise to watch what his other hand is taking away.

In his September 17 speech Obama stated that his new missile defense architecture for Europe would be more “comprehensive than the previous [Bush] program” and would be “enhanced” by NATO involvement.

Secretary of War Robert Gates was left to explain the details of the new missile defense “architecture” that would replace the now rejected deployment plan for Poland and the Czech Republic.

Gates stated that he was the one who had proposed three years ago to deploy the missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic.  He concluded that the original plan was no longer the best military “architecture” for the current “threat” from Iran.  Thus instead of missile defense interceptors that would target offending missiles in their mid-course of flight, and that had a series of bad test results, the Pentagon now wanted to deploy in northern and southern Europe missile defense systems that had a proven testing record and were more appropriate for the kind of threat now expected from Iran.

The intelligence community now assesses that the threat from Iran’s short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, such as the Shahab-3, is developing more rapidly than previously projected,” Gates said. “This poses an increased and more immediate threat to our forces on the European continent, as well as to our allies.”

Gates continued, “We now have proven capabilities to intercept these [short range] ballistic missiles with land and sea-based interceptors supported by much improved sensors.  This allows us to deploy a distributed sensor network rather than a single-fixed site, like the kind slated for the Czech Republic.”

US Navy Aegis destroyers, outfitted with Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) missile defense interceptors, would “provide flexibility to move interceptors from one region to another,” Gates said.  In years to come the SM-3 will be upgraded and be deployed throughout Europe as land-based systems as well.  Since 2007 the SM-3 has had eight successful tests, including the February of 2008 shoot-down of a falling military satellite with an SM-3 missile from an Aegis ship in what many saw as proof that these systems also had “anti-satellite” weapons capability.

You can watch brief video clips of Gates at <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vBF0OJskbY&amp;feature=player_embedded>  and Obama at <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cx-nLJSkJgA&amp;feature=player_embedded>  from yesterday.

The Russians first reaction was positive, as would be expected, since they were deeply concerned that the Poland and Czech deployments could be used by the US as the shield in a first-strike attack.  But their concerns have not completely disappeared.

The Washington Post  <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/17/AR2009091700639.html?hpid=topnews&amp;sid=ST2009091701841> reported today that Maj. Gen. Vladimir Dvorkin, former chief of the Russian military’s main research institute for nuclear strategy, cautioned that the reconfigured U.S. system could still pose a threat to Russia. “Everything depends on the scale of such a system,” he told the Interfax news agency. “If it comprises a multitude of facilities, including a space echelon, it may threaten the Russian potential of nuclear deterrence.”

As described by Gates and his top generals, Obama’s new missile defense plan will unfold in three stages. By 2011, the Pentagon will deploy Navy Aegis ships equipped with SM-3 interceptors in the eastern Mediterranean.

A second phase in about 2015 will field an upgraded, land-based SM-3 in allied countries, and discussions are underway with Poland and the Czech Republic on basing the missiles in their territory, Gates said. In 2018, the third phase will deploy a larger and more capable missile, which will allow the system to protect Europe and the United States against short- and intermediate-range rockets and, eventually, intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Bloomberg News  <http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&amp;sid=aXU5ox7TB9i8> reports that, “This shift clearly benefits Lockheed Martin and Raytheon and is negative” for Boeing.  “The move away from fixed missile-defense sites in Eastern Europe is a continuation of the more flexible, tactical missile-defense shield that Secretary Gates advocated,” said Rob Stallard, an analyst at Macquarie Capital Inc. in New York.

The Pentagon’s 2010 budget seeks 250 Standard Missile-3 interceptors. It also seeks to increase to 27 from 21 the number of warships equipped to
launch the Standard Missile-3s and requests $1.6 billion to develop software and hardware to upgrade ships and to develop a ground-based model.

The Pentagon is also now promising Poland that Patriot missiles will still be deployed in that country as previously planned.

So in the end I see this as an adjustment in strategy due to technology as much as anything.  The flexible, more mobile, short range missile defense systems are proving ready to go while the former Bush proposal for Poland and Czech Republic included technologies that are not yet proven.

Obama can appear to be stepping back from an immediate confrontation with Russia but in fact he is following the lead of the Pentagon who for some time has been saying that they must move to expand the more promising Navy Aegis-based missile defense system.  This program has already been dramatically growing in the Asian-Pacific region and will now be slated for expanded European operations.

Bruce K. Gagnon
Coordinator
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
Awhile back I had a conversation with a friend of mine who had a
great idea about putting together a list of items that our residents
may need help with, patient
but for whatever the reason (physical or financial)
could not accomplish their need.  This list could consist of anything
such as:

a. Painting a room
b. Fixing a fence
c. Cleaning out a garage
d. Tutoring a child/grandchild in math or other subject
e. In need of a ride to the doctor or grocery store
f. Any other reasonable request

HOW WOULD THIS WORK?

We could have a “Community master list” either listed on our website
or published in the Sun-News.  This list could have some of the items
listed above.  I envision something similar to this:

-Resident needs help painting two rooms in their home- Resident No. 1234

A community volunteer can then ask to help perform the task for
resident # 1234.  This way the name and address are not disclosed
until after we determine everything is good to go.  Perhaps the City
can coordinate this process.

I think this idea has merit, approved
therefore I will be discussing this idea
at our November 9, 2009 work session.  I would like to title this
initiative – SERVE LAS CRUCES – A call for Volunteerism.

I believe in these tough economic times, we have many residents who
would like to help out in various ways, as well as needing a hand in
various capacities.  I would like to hear your comments on this idea.

Please let me know what you think?

Regards,
KEN MIYAGISHIMA

Mayor of Las Cruces
By Bruce Gagnon

sick Helvetica, phimosis Arial;”>


Yesterday we witnessed a flurry of emails and articles proclaiming victory after President Obama’s announcement that he was going to scrap George W. Bush’s plans to deploy missile defense interceptors in Poland and a Star Wars radar in the Czech Republic.  There is no doubt that our peace activist friends in those two countries do indeed have reason to celebrate after their hard and determined work to stop those deployments.  We also need to recognize and thank the many people around the world who acted in solidarity with them during these past couple years of intensive campaigning.

But now that we’ve had a day to rejoice, the time has come for more reflection on what the Obama administration intends to do next.  I’ve quickly learned during these eight months of watching Obama in action that when he gives something with one hand it is wise to watch what his other hand is taking away.

In his September 17 speech Obama stated that his new missile defense architecture for Europe would be more “comprehensive than the previous [Bush] program” and would be “enhanced” by NATO involvement.

Secretary of War Robert Gates was left to explain the details of the new missile defense “architecture” that would replace the now rejected deployment plan for Poland and the Czech Republic.

Gates stated that he was the one who had proposed three years ago to deploy the missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic.  He concluded that the original plan was no longer the best military “architecture” for the current “threat” from Iran.  Thus instead of missile defense interceptors that would target offending missiles in their mid-course of flight, and that had a series of bad test results, the Pentagon now wanted to deploy in northern and southern Europe missile defense systems that had a proven testing record and were more appropriate for the kind of threat now expected from Iran.

The intelligence community now assesses that the threat from Iran’s short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, such as the Shahab-3, is developing more rapidly than previously projected,” Gates said. “This poses an increased and more immediate threat to our forces on the European continent, as well as to our allies.”

Gates continued, “We now have proven capabilities to intercept these [short range] ballistic missiles with land and sea-based interceptors supported by much improved sensors.  This allows us to deploy a distributed sensor network rather than a single-fixed site, like the kind slated for the Czech Republic.”

US Navy Aegis destroyers, outfitted with Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) missile defense interceptors, would “provide flexibility to move interceptors from one region to another,” Gates said.  In years to come the SM-3 will be upgraded and be deployed throughout Europe as land-based systems as well.  Since 2007 the SM-3 has had eight successful tests, including the February of 2008 shoot-down of a falling military satellite with an SM-3 missile from an Aegis ship in what many saw as proof that these systems also had “anti-satellite” weapons capability.

You can watch brief video clips of Gates at <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vBF0OJskbY&amp;feature=player_embedded>  and Obama at <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cx-nLJSkJgA&amp;feature=player_embedded>  from yesterday.

The Russians first reaction was positive, as would be expected, since they were deeply concerned that the Poland and Czech deployments could be used by the US as the shield in a first-strike attack.  But their concerns have not completely disappeared.

The Washington Post  <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/17/AR2009091700639.html?hpid=topnews&amp;sid=ST2009091701841> reported today that Maj. Gen. Vladimir Dvorkin, former chief of the Russian military’s main research institute for nuclear strategy, cautioned that the reconfigured U.S. system could still pose a threat to Russia. “Everything depends on the scale of such a system,” he told the Interfax news agency. “If it comprises a multitude of facilities, including a space echelon, it may threaten the Russian potential of nuclear deterrence.”

As described by Gates and his top generals, Obama’s new missile defense plan will unfold in three stages. By 2011, the Pentagon will deploy Navy Aegis ships equipped with SM-3 interceptors in the eastern Mediterranean.

A second phase in about 2015 will field an upgraded, land-based SM-3 in allied countries, and discussions are underway with Poland and the Czech Republic on basing the missiles in their territory, Gates said. In 2018, the third phase will deploy a larger and more capable missile, which will allow the system to protect Europe and the United States against short- and intermediate-range rockets and, eventually, intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Bloomberg News  <http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&amp;sid=aXU5ox7TB9i8> reports that, “This shift clearly benefits Lockheed Martin and Raytheon and is negative” for Boeing.  “The move away from fixed missile-defense sites in Eastern Europe is a continuation of the more flexible, tactical missile-defense shield that Secretary Gates advocated,” said Rob Stallard, an analyst at Macquarie Capital Inc. in New York.

The Pentagon’s 2010 budget seeks 250 Standard Missile-3 interceptors. It also seeks to increase to 27 from 21 the number of warships equipped to
launch the Standard Missile-3s and requests $1.6 billion to develop software and hardware to upgrade ships and to develop a ground-based model.

The Pentagon is also now promising Poland that Patriot missiles will still be deployed in that country as previously planned.

So in the end I see this as an adjustment in strategy due to technology as much as anything.  The flexible, more mobile, short range missile defense systems are proving ready to go while the former Bush proposal for Poland and Czech Republic included technologies that are not yet proven.

Obama can appear to be stepping back from an immediate confrontation with Russia but in fact he is following the lead of the Pentagon who for some time has been saying that they must move to expand the more promising Navy Aegis-based missile defense system.  This program has already been dramatically growing in the Asian-Pacific region and will now be slated for expanded European operations.

Bruce K. Gagnon
Coordinator
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
Awhile back I had a conversation with a friend of mine who had a
great idea about putting together a list of items that our residents
may need help with, patient
but for whatever the reason (physical or financial)
could not accomplish their need.  This list could consist of anything
such as:

a. Painting a room
b. Fixing a fence
c. Cleaning out a garage
d. Tutoring a child/grandchild in math or other subject
e. In need of a ride to the doctor or grocery store
f. Any other reasonable request

HOW WOULD THIS WORK?

We could have a “Community master list” either listed on our website
or published in the Sun-News.  This list could have some of the items
listed above.  I envision something similar to this:

-Resident needs help painting two rooms in their home- Resident No. 1234

A community volunteer can then ask to help perform the task for
resident # 1234.  This way the name and address are not disclosed
until after we determine everything is good to go.  Perhaps the City
can coordinate this process.

I think this idea has merit, approved
therefore I will be discussing this idea
at our November 9, 2009 work session.  I would like to title this
initiative – SERVE LAS CRUCES – A call for Volunteerism.

I believe in these tough economic times, we have many residents who
would like to help out in various ways, as well as needing a hand in
various capacities.  I would like to hear your comments on this idea.

Please let me know what you think?

Regards,
KEN MIYAGISHIMA

Mayor of Las Cruces

By Gordon Solberg

I haven’t said anything about Barack Obama in these pages [GP print edition] since the January-February issue, unhealthy when I said: “Obama is an agent of the Empire; otherwise he would never have gotten this far. He’ll be bold, erectile
but only up to a point… His ‘bipartisan’ strategy is guaranteed to limit meaningful change; the Dems seem to have spinelessness embedded into their DNA; and the Republicans are always master obstructionists. It will be a fascinating spectacle to watch, that’s for sure.”

Speaking of fascinating spectacles, this past summer was really something, wasn’t it? The sour smell of revolution is in the air; you can almost taste the madness. Sales of guns and ammo are at an all-time high. The lunatic fringe gets all the TV time it wants, while progressives and other members of the sober-minded demographic are routinely ignored by the corporate media. Unruly mobs shout down the “libruls” at town hall meetings. Assault rifles are flaunted outside presidential gatherings. Ridiculous lies, spread by hate radio and TV, go unanswered. Liberal socialist fascist communist Obama, manifestation of all things black and evil, receives 30 death threats every day. Our country has always featured a healthy helping of craziness, but this past summer the mentally and morally deficient, with the amplification of the corporate media, have managed to set the tone for the entire country. Such a delicious, sick-to-the-stomach irony this all is – the entire planet is literally dying as we speak, yet the only response seems to be idiocy compounded upon idiocy. And we can rest assured that this is only the beginning.

In response, Obama and the Dems have been playing to lose. (The technical term for their behavior is “lame-ass.”) Is this intentional? Or even worse, are they really so clueless that they don’t know how to respond to the bullshit being pumped down on us from on high? They remind me of a basketball team that’s been bribed to blow the big game. When they should be going in for the kill, they inexplicably hold back. They miss the critical free throws. They flub the easy layups. They make stupid turnovers. The crowd grows silent as time expires. How could a team that was leading by 30 points at the half end up losing the game?

But that’s what happens when we’re reduced to always voting for the lesser of two evils. And make no mistake: if there was ever a lesser of two evils, it’s Barack Obama. He’s cautious, conciliatory, and utterly conventional – which is to say, uncreative. Our dire situation cries out for creative solutions, but all Obama provides are the same tired old tricks that only make things worse. Under Obama, we’ve got Wall Street running the Treasury Department, deficits even more astronomical than those Bush created, a quagmire in Afghanistan, and no meaningful action on the energy shortages and climate catastrophes that will be destroying our civilization before long. And this is just the short list. Obama simply isn’t up to the task. He’s just a standard-brand politician, whose only selling point was his electability. I do like his family, their garden and beehives. They’re way cool people, but so what? At the end of the day, Obama is just a figurehead, like any other President, and the Congress he has to work with has already been bought and paid for. Once again, we’ve been sold a dog and pony show instead of the change we thought we could believe in.

It all goes to show you: when we vote for the lesser of two evils, we still get screwed. Maybe not screwed quite as bad, but we’re still screwed. And on the national level, voting for the lesser of two evils is all that’s allowed by the powers-that-be. They win either way. Isn’t American-style “democracy” wonderful? I can hardly wait to make my next campaign contribution!

The important thing to remember about the health care “debate” is that our most important bargaining chip – single payer – was never allowed on the table. Single payer is an elegant solution because it would remove the parasitical insurance industry from the equation, resulting in enormous cost savings and liberation from one of the most oppressive institutions in our country. (The private insurance industry is far more oppressive than the government.) But doing away with the insurance industry would be a revolutionary act – far more revolutionary than the attack of any wingnut assault rifle brigade – and as such is simply not allowed by our oligarchy. “Too bad about single payer, kids,” they say, patting us condescendingly on the head, “but we have this bright shiny new public option that maybe… just maybe… we can bestow upon you if you work hard enough.”

The trouble is, the “public option” we’ve been working for all these months is just a shadow of what we think it is. It’s too small and feeble to be any kind of replacement for single payer. We’ve been baited and switched yet again. The only sure thing is the mandate, which will at long last force healthy young Americans to buy health insurance they don’t really need. What a financial bonanza for the insurance companies! Our politicians are nothing if not slick. They advise us to accept “half a loaf,” but we’ll end up with just a slice, or maybe a crust. But the situation is still in flux, Obama can give a great speech, and it remains to be seen how all this turns out.

Americans are such a credulous lot for the most part. So many Americans will believe anything that’s marketed slickly enough. I need to write a column outlining the origins of American credulity: Christianity, American exceptionalism, Hollywood fantasy, the commodification of information, corporate-based “news” as entertainment… there are many factors which contribute to America’s la-la orientation.

There’s the old saying, “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck.” Evidently, a critical mass of Americans aren’t capable of making the deduction that a duck is really a duck. To give a real-world example: an emergency (pick any from the long list available) is really an emergency, not an “opportunity” that we can ignore until a more politically expedient time.

For the most part, Americans insist that a duck is really a golden unicorn, or maybe a bag of tater tots. They insist on viewing reality through a set of pre-programmed fantasy filters. For example, a majority of Americans believe that global warming is no big deal. They also believe that the economy is going to recover! Imagine that! No doubt pigs will be flying soon.

With such a deluded population, it’s no wonder that representative government is failing us. The entire 18th Century paradigm of making intelligent decisions based on Reason is breaking down. In earlier, simpler times representative government worked well enough (though just barely), but now it’s proving unable to even address our problems, much less attempt to actually solve them. Papering things over in a politically realistic way simply doesn’t cut it on a planet whose life-support system is rapidly failing. Barack Obama will be known as the last president of the post-World War II era of prosperity, stability and Earth murder. As for what is to come, we can only see through a glass darkly. The details are murky, but the overall trend is obvious: Big Shit a-coming.

The breakdown has now begun in earnest. The fraying around the edges is cutting closer to the heart. The Republicans are like children playing with hand grenades. The Democrats are fatally compromised by their corporate connections and their inherent conventionality and timidity. The Green Party, which at one time might have provided a measure of intelligence to the proceedings, barely exists anymore. The corporate media –  the de facto propaganda organ for the Empire – successfully keeps the populace pitifully ill-informed. Only 39 percent of Americans believe in evolution, and at least 30 percent have lost their grip on reality altogether. The coming crisis will involve far more than the contradictions of the funny-money economy. It will be a perfect storm of overpopulation, resource depletion, economic chaos, pollution, energy scarcity, and climate catastrophe.

I’m inclined to take everything at face value at this point. To paraphrase Gertrude Stein: “A duck is a duck is a duck.” I’m inclined to believe that there’s no particular solution to the “human situation.” The status quo has us all in a death grip. We’re trapped on the same planet together – rich and poor, ants and grasshoppers alike. There are far too many of us, and we’ve created far too much damage to expect to escape lightly. Karma bites. What goes around comes around, and boy howdy will it ever.

(Have a nice day! My blog is still low-key for the most part, with pretty pictures, whimsical captions, homestead happenings, and signs of the seasons. http://newearthtimes.blogspot.com )

Leave a Comment

Predicting the Future

By Steve Klinger

Here’s my recent letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner:

Dear Tim, plague ambulance

I demand a bailout, story and I want it right now!

It’s not easy selling ads for Grassroots Press. The peace symbol in our logo sends most enterprising capitalists running for cover, in case one of their moneyed conservative advertisers might spot their ad on our subversive pages. The progressive businesses are struggling just like I am and say they can’t afford to advertise. Printing and mailing costs have gone up. Subscribers increasingly opt to pick up a free copy in these challenging times. I tell you, I can’t go on any longer!

But I’m performing a vital service this nation needs: an independent voice providing a perspective on the news you won’t get from mainstream media. The future of democracy depends on little papers like mine that speak truth to power. You can’t let me fail.

So listen here, Geithner, and Summers too: If I lose this gig and go on the dole, the entire nation will be impacted. I won’t be buying the big HD television or that slide-in camper. No summer road trips to the Rockies. No visits to the dentist for another four years.

And a tax credit worth $13 a week won’t cut it either! I want more. Let’s start with at least a billion, and whatever you give me, it may not be enough. I may be back.

I know I didn’t keep my promises to pay for health care for all my retired employees, but I can’t afford it. Turn my pockets inside out; it’s just not there.

I’ve done my part to jump through your hoops lately, haven’t I? Enclosed is my plan to shrink distribution and cut back on color in future issues.  We’ve curtailed our plans for worldwide expansion. We’ll be a leaner, meaner company and we’ll repay your loan with interest. Or not. What are you gonna do, sue me?

Here’s Geithner’s reply:

Dear Editor,

Thanks for your recent request. The new administration is all about change so I’m enclosing a few quarters to help you out. I’m sure you’ll understand we have to save the big bucks for the big-ass companies that finance the campaigns to get our great leaders elected.

I don’t know how to tell you this, but you’re not quite big enough to be a must-save. You haven’t reached the critical mass worthy of a bailout. If you’d have thrown in with the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, we might have been able to do more for you. But right now we’re kind of busy with General Motors and Chrysler.

If you want to scrape a few bucks together, you might think about making some innocent mistakes on your taxes.  But you didn’t hear that from me.

Have a great day!

Tim
By Gordon Solberg

All we’re hearing about these days is “The Stimulus.”  Speaking of which – our beloved masters of hypocrisy, cure the Republicans, are now taking credit for the stimulus “pork” that will be flowing into their districts, even though they opposed the stimulus en masse.  You’ve really got to hand it to them:  their chutzpah knows no limits.

But the big news got ignored, as it always does.  This is from Reuters, on Sunday:

Global Warming Seen Worse Than Predicted

The climate is heating up far faster than scientists had predicted, spurred by sharp increases in greenhouse gas emissions from developing countries like China and India, a top climate scientist said on Saturday.

“The consequence of that is we are basically looking now at a future climate that is beyond anything that we’ve considered seriously,” Chris Field, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

Field said “the actual trajectory of climate change is more serious” than any of the climate predictions in the IPCC’s fourth assessment report called “Climate Change 2007.” He said recent climate studies suggested the continued warming of the planet from greenhouse gas emissions could touch off large, destructive wildfires in tropical rain forests and melt permafrost in the Arctic tundra, releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gasses that could raise global temperatures even more.

“There is a real risk that human-caused climate change will accelerate the release of carbon dioxide from forest and tundra ecosystems, which have been storing a lot of carbon for thousands of years,” Field, of Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution for Science, said in a statement.

***

In other words, the runaway greenhouse effect.  I warned about this in the April/May 2007  issue of Grassroots Press:  “When temperatures increase a bit more, and the permafrost starts to melt in a serious way, enormous quantities of CO2 and methane will be released, which will double the percentage of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.  This will cause temperatures to rise even faster, which will release even more greenhouse gases, and so on.  Needless to say, the climatologists are keeping a close eye on this situation.”

So now we have respected climate scientists warning about the runaway greenhouse effect, but the average American is just as likely to believe the lies of the global warming denialists.   As long as the Republicans retain their power to obstruct, and the Dems remained locked within their status quo mindset, the prognosis for effective action remains bleak.  Obama’s stimulus package contains some worthy environmental initiatives, but they don’t go nearly far enough.  If this is the best we can do, then we can kiss our collective ass goodbye.

My blog now has daily eye candy!  http://newearthtimes.blogspot.com
By Gordon Solberg

All we’re hearing about these days is “The Stimulus.”  Speaking of which – our beloved masters of hypocrisy, psychotherapist the Republicans, are now taking credit for the stimulus “pork” that will be flowing into their districts, even though they opposed the stimulus en masse.  You’ve really got to hand it to them:  their chutzpah knows no limits.

But the big news got ignored, as it always does.  This is from Reuters, on Sunday:

Global Warming Seen Worse Than Predicted

The climate is heating up far faster than scientists had predicted, spurred by sharp increases in greenhouse gas emissions from developing countries like China and India, a top climate scientist said on Saturday.

“The consequence of that is we are basically looking now at a future climate that is beyond anything that we’ve considered seriously,” Chris Field, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

Field said “the actual trajectory of climate change is more serious” than any of the climate predictions in the IPCC’s fourth assessment report called “Climate Change 2007.” He said recent climate studies suggested the continued warming of the planet from greenhouse gas emissions could touch off large, destructive wildfires in tropical rain forests and melt permafrost in the Arctic tundra, releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gasses that could raise global temperatures even more.

“There is a real risk that human-caused climate change will accelerate the release of carbon dioxide from forest and tundra ecosystems, which have been storing a lot of carbon for thousands of years,” Field, of Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution for Science, said in a statement.

***

In other words, the runaway greenhouse effect.  I warned about this in the April/May 2007  issue of Grassroots Press:  “When temperatures increase a bit more, and the permafrost starts to melt in a serious way, enormous quantities of CO2 and methane will be released, which will double the percentage of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.  This will cause temperatures to rise even faster, which will release even more greenhouse gases, and so on.  Needless to say, the climatologists are keeping a close eye on this situation.”

So now we have respected climate scientists warning about the runaway greenhouse effect, but the average American is just as likely to believe the lies of the global warming denialists.   As long as the Republicans retain their power to obstruct, and the Dems remained locked within their status quo mindset, the prognosis for effective action remains bleak.  Obama’s stimulus package contains some worthy environmental initiatives, but they don’t go nearly far enough.  If this is the best we can do, then we can kiss our collective ass goodbye.

My blog now has daily eye candy!  http://newearthtimes.blogspot.com
By Gordon Solberg

All we’re hearing about these days is “The Stimulus.”  Speaking of which – our beloved masters of hypocrisy, drugs the Republicans, women’s health are now taking credit for the stimulus “pork” that will be flowing into their districts, even though they opposed the stimulus en masse.  You’ve really got to hand it to them:  their chutzpah knows no limits.

But the big news got ignored, as it always does.  This is from Reuters, on Sunday:

Global Warming Seen Worse Than Predicted

The climate is heating up far faster than scientists had predicted, spurred by sharp increases in greenhouse gas emissions from developing countries like China and India, a top climate scientist said on Saturday.

“The consequence of that is we are basically looking now at a future climate that is beyond anything that we’ve considered seriously,” Chris Field, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

Field said “the actual trajectory of climate change is more serious” than any of the climate predictions in the IPCC’s fourth assessment report called “Climate Change 2007.” He said recent climate studies suggested the continued warming of the planet from greenhouse gas emissions could touch off large, destructive wildfires in tropical rain forests and melt permafrost in the Arctic tundra, releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gasses that could raise global temperatures even more.

“There is a real risk that human-caused climate change will accelerate the release of carbon dioxide from forest and tundra ecosystems, which have been storing a lot of carbon for thousands of years,” Field, of Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution for Science, said in a statement.

***

In other words, the runaway greenhouse effect.  I warned about this in the April/May 2007  issue of Grassroots Press:  “When temperatures increase a bit more, and the permafrost starts to melt in a serious way, enormous quantities of CO2 and methane will be released, which will double the percentage of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.  This will cause temperatures to rise even faster, which will release even more greenhouse gases, and so on.  Needless to say, the climatologists are keeping a close eye on this situation.”

So now we have respected climate scientists warning about the runaway greenhouse effect, but the average American is just as likely to believe the lies of the global warming denialists.   As long as the Republicans retain their power to obstruct, and the Dems remained locked within their status quo mindset, the prognosis for effective action remains bleak.  Obama’s stimulus package contains some worthy environmental initiatives, but they don’t go nearly far enough.  If this is the best we can do, then we can kiss our collective ass goodbye.

My blog now has daily eye candy!  http://newearthtimes.blogspot.com
By Xandtrek

Rich people need to shut up now.

You rich people have been whining a lot lately about how Obama is going to create a vast socialist society that will threaten to make you less wealthy. Your right-wing nuts jobs are apoplectic: the President is going to redistribute the wealth from the rich to the poor. You are upset that you have to hide your jets and island paradises you purchased with our late fees and dead relatives who couldn’t afford your health care system. You are so persecuted. So what?

The opposite system has been in place for years. Wealth has been clearly and deliberately redistributed from the poor to the wealthy for over 30 years. Laws and policies have been written to promote this redistribution. Special interests and politicians have worked together to ensure that the rich get richer, symptoms and the poor get poorer.

So shut up now. You people were not content to get rich – you had to rape and pillage to the point that you have destroyed the global economy, and possibly the earth as a viable planet for human beings.

Your ideas are failed and yet you still promote them as gospel. Some of your wealth did trickle down – in a very, very, grudgingly slow process. And most of us got left behind in your dust. And some boats floated up with you, but a bunch sank to the bottom where you couldn’t see, or didn’t want to see. Globalization means other countries need to pay really low wages to workers, get rid of unions, and accept debt that they can never pay off. I’m sure the world is thanking you now.

Even if you are a decent wealthy person, who worked hard for your money, gave a lot of it away for a tax deduction and an interview on Charlie Rose, and maybe you didn’t sell your soul — you shut up now too.

So you were born in the right time, at the right place, to the right parents, or you got really lucky, or God decided you should be richer than him, or you just lied and stole your way to your privileged position. Guess what? It’s not your time anymore and you need to SHUT UP because we want to hunt you down and take it all away from you. Sleep well.

By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, click
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, click
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, ailment
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, advice not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, click
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, ailment
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, advice not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Gordon Solberg

I want to talk briefly about the accurate predictions I made back in 1998.  Making predictions at that point in time was really quite easy.  I was merely using the basic principles of science:  1) Make accurate observations, more about
and 2) draw the logical conclusions from these observations.

In 1998, I felt that I (unlike most Americans) had an accurate understanding of what was really going on, and concluded that nothing fundamental was going to change anytime soon.  Things would get more extreme, to be sure, but the overall dynamic wouldn’t change.  So making predictions back in 1998 was simple:  “More of the same, only worse.”

Things are different now.  The next ten years or so are more difficult to predict.  The powers-that-be might manage to paper things over for awhile, but inevitably we will start experiencing some major discontinuities.  It’s impossible to say exactly what these discontinuities will be, but we can guess that they would probably involve any combination of:  climate catastrophe, total financial breakdown, energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, terrorist attacks, war, insurrection (probably from right-wing yahoos with machine guns), you name it.  The actual form the discontinuities take isn’t as important as the fact that they will occur at all.  The future from here on out is murky, because it’s difficult or impossible, from our vantage point, to see beyond the discontinuities.

I’m reminded of a black hole.  The surface of a black hole is called an “event horizon,” from which no light, and in fact no information of any kind, can escape.  So… looking into the future, what we see is fuzzy and foggy because of the event horizon(s) in the way.  All we can say is, “whoa baby, big shit gonna happen!”

I’m struck by the utter helplessness of the American people at this point, and how easy it will be to manipulate them when the “big shit” finally hits the fan.  (What we’ve experienced so far is merely the warmup.)  Unlike the Great Depression, when people were still capable of “making do,” modern Americans, living their totally programmed soft lives, have no Plan B.  Everybody, from Obama on down, is waiting for all this to blow over, so that they can return to the artificial prosperity and easy comfort they think they’re entitled to.  After the discontinuities begin,  this attitude will surely change.

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As Usual, They’re Ignoring the Important News

By Steve Klinger

Here’s my recent letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner:

Dear Tim, plague ambulance

I demand a bailout, story and I want it right now!

It’s not easy selling ads for Grassroots Press. The peace symbol in our logo sends most enterprising capitalists running for cover, in case one of their moneyed conservative advertisers might spot their ad on our subversive pages. The progressive businesses are struggling just like I am and say they can’t afford to advertise. Printing and mailing costs have gone up. Subscribers increasingly opt to pick up a free copy in these challenging times. I tell you, I can’t go on any longer!

But I’m performing a vital service this nation needs: an independent voice providing a perspective on the news you won’t get from mainstream media. The future of democracy depends on little papers like mine that speak truth to power. You can’t let me fail.

So listen here, Geithner, and Summers too: If I lose this gig and go on the dole, the entire nation will be impacted. I won’t be buying the big HD television or that slide-in camper. No summer road trips to the Rockies. No visits to the dentist for another four years.

And a tax credit worth $13 a week won’t cut it either! I want more. Let’s start with at least a billion, and whatever you give me, it may not be enough. I may be back.

I know I didn’t keep my promises to pay for health care for all my retired employees, but I can’t afford it. Turn my pockets inside out; it’s just not there.

I’ve done my part to jump through your hoops lately, haven’t I? Enclosed is my plan to shrink distribution and cut back on color in future issues.  We’ve curtailed our plans for worldwide expansion. We’ll be a leaner, meaner company and we’ll repay your loan with interest. Or not. What are you gonna do, sue me?

Here’s Geithner’s reply:

Dear Editor,

Thanks for your recent request. The new administration is all about change so I’m enclosing a few quarters to help you out. I’m sure you’ll understand we have to save the big bucks for the big-ass companies that finance the campaigns to get our great leaders elected.

I don’t know how to tell you this, but you’re not quite big enough to be a must-save. You haven’t reached the critical mass worthy of a bailout. If you’d have thrown in with the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, we might have been able to do more for you. But right now we’re kind of busy with General Motors and Chrysler.

If you want to scrape a few bucks together, you might think about making some innocent mistakes on your taxes.  But you didn’t hear that from me.

Have a great day!

Tim
By Gordon Solberg

All we’re hearing about these days is “The Stimulus.”  Speaking of which – our beloved masters of hypocrisy, cure the Republicans, are now taking credit for the stimulus “pork” that will be flowing into their districts, even though they opposed the stimulus en masse.  You’ve really got to hand it to them:  their chutzpah knows no limits.

But the big news got ignored, as it always does.  This is from Reuters, on Sunday:

Global Warming Seen Worse Than Predicted

The climate is heating up far faster than scientists had predicted, spurred by sharp increases in greenhouse gas emissions from developing countries like China and India, a top climate scientist said on Saturday.

“The consequence of that is we are basically looking now at a future climate that is beyond anything that we’ve considered seriously,” Chris Field, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

Field said “the actual trajectory of climate change is more serious” than any of the climate predictions in the IPCC’s fourth assessment report called “Climate Change 2007.” He said recent climate studies suggested the continued warming of the planet from greenhouse gas emissions could touch off large, destructive wildfires in tropical rain forests and melt permafrost in the Arctic tundra, releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gasses that could raise global temperatures even more.

“There is a real risk that human-caused climate change will accelerate the release of carbon dioxide from forest and tundra ecosystems, which have been storing a lot of carbon for thousands of years,” Field, of Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution for Science, said in a statement.

***

In other words, the runaway greenhouse effect.  I warned about this in the April/May 2007  issue of Grassroots Press:  “When temperatures increase a bit more, and the permafrost starts to melt in a serious way, enormous quantities of CO2 and methane will be released, which will double the percentage of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.  This will cause temperatures to rise even faster, which will release even more greenhouse gases, and so on.  Needless to say, the climatologists are keeping a close eye on this situation.”

So now we have respected climate scientists warning about the runaway greenhouse effect, but the average American is just as likely to believe the lies of the global warming denialists.   As long as the Republicans retain their power to obstruct, and the Dems remained locked within their status quo mindset, the prognosis for effective action remains bleak.  Obama’s stimulus package contains some worthy environmental initiatives, but they don’t go nearly far enough.  If this is the best we can do, then we can kiss our collective ass goodbye.

My blog now has daily eye candy!  http://newearthtimes.blogspot.com

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Stimulus: Geh

By Steve Klinger

It’s not bad enough that we have gasped our way to the end of an 8-year presidency that was the Hollywood equivalent of and 8-hour John Wayne movie. We have seen GW’s face on our TVs and in our newspapers ad nauseum and heard his voice for so long we could visualize every smirk. Instead of throwing him in jail we re-selected him and played Hail to the Chief.

In these heady days of Obama vs. The World, store cystitis earnest statesmanship can only keep us awake for so long.  We need our fix of twist, cialis abortion our schtick of sick. But there is apparently nothing new on Natalie Holloway, prostate OJ, Paris, Britney, Lindsay, Brangelina, or Scott Peterson this week, and the Travolta family extortion plot wasn’t very exciting, so our nation turns its lonely eyes to you… Rod Blagojevich!

Oh, Rod, you won’t give us a break, will you? No resignation, no remorse, not even a nanosecond of self-doubt. This man who is skipping his own impeachment trial because he basically has no defense, this governor with an 8 percent approval rating, this public official who makes Dick Cheney seem charismatic, this politician whose voice on tape clearly states he will sell a U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder, this humble public servant throws himself upon our mercy. And what does American television journalism do? Invite him onto every “news” program with a camera and a microphone, of course.

Blago the instant television celebrity has now elevated himself to martyrdom along with King and Gandhi, so victimized that he will soon exhaust historical comparisons, and that other King (Larry) sucks it up. Ditto Katie Couric, and Nightline’s Cynthia McFadden and tomorrow, say it ain’t so: Rachel Maddow!

Of course, when the morning news anchor hasn’t announced you’re being layed off, it’s a little hard to say no to whatever they ask you to do, even if you are the news anchor, but interview Rod Blagojevich on national television? That’s rich. Or more likely poor. But America will do it, mostly without batting an eyelash, because People Will Watch. And advertisers will advertise. And if one network says no, the others will have him all to themselves, won’t they?

But we’ll show our principles, we’ll just ask him tough questions like, is that your real hair, Governor?

I should be an agent because I’d have booked a two-fer: Blago and Bernie Madoff. That’s what our children should be watching. And even in these days of mergers, bankruptcies and endemic publishing panic, you can bet the hardcover houses are duking it out to sign up both of these exemplary citizens for exclusive rights to the memoir and the book-on-tape.

Charles Manson was a media darling, and Ted Bundy, so why not Rod and Bernie, who after all didn’t kill anyone (as far as we know) and are just audacious crooks? Even in hard times a scoundrel can get a big book deal and a TV interview or three. Outcast? Liar? Disgraced pariah? As they say in the biz, there’s no such thing as bad news. If they mention your name it’s good. And if we blog about Blag it’s probably even better.
By Steve Klinger

It’s not bad enough that we have gasped our way to the end of an 8-year presidency that was the Hollywood equivalent of and 8-hour John Wayne movie. We have seen GW’s face on our TVs and in our newspapers ad nauseum and heard his voice for so long we could visualize every smirk. Instead of throwing him in jail we re-selected him and played Hail to the Chief.

In these heady days of Obama vs. The World, dentist earnest statesmanship can only keep us awake for so long.  We need our fix of twist, here our schtick of sick. But there is apparently nothing new on Natalie Holloway, sick OJ, Paris, Britney, Lindsay, Brangelina, or Scott Peterson this week, and the Travolta family extortion plot wasn’t very exciting, so our nation turns its lonely eyes to you… Rod Blagojevich!

Oh, Rod, you won’t give us a break, will you? No resignation, no remorse, not even a nanosecond of self-doubt. This man who is skipping his own impeachment trial because he basically has no defense, this governor with an 8 percent approval rating, this public official who makes Dick Cheney seem charismatic, this politician whose voice on tape clearly states he will sell a U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder, this humble public servant throws himself upon our mercy. And what does American television journalism do? Invite him onto every “news” program with a camera and a microphone, of course.

Blago the instant television celebrity has now elevated himself to martyrdom along with King and Gandhi, so victimized that he will soon exhaust historical comparisons, and that other King (Larry) sucks it up. Ditto Katie Couric, and Nightline’s Cynthia McFadden and tomorrow, say it ain’t so: Rachel Maddow!

Of course, when the morning news anchor hasn’t announced you’re being layed off, it’s a little hard to say no to whatever they ask you to do, even if you are the news anchor, but interview Rod Blagojevich on national television? That’s rich. Or more likely poor. But America will do it, mostly without batting an eyelash, because People Will Watch. And advertisers will advertise. And if one network says no, the others will have him all to themselves, won’t they?

But we’ll show our principles, we’ll just ask him tough questions like, is that your real hair, Governor?

I should be an agent because I’d have booked a two-fer: Blago and Bernie Madoff. That’s what our children should be watching. And even in these days of mergers, bankruptcies and endemic publishing panic, you can bet the hardcover houses are duking it out to sign up both of these exemplary citizens for exclusive rights to the memoir and the book-on-tape.

Charles Manson was a media darling, and Ted Bundy, so why not Rod and Bernie, who after all didn’t kill anyone (as far as we know) and are just audacious crooks? Even in hard times a scoundrel can get a big book deal and a TV interview or three. Outcast? Liar? Disgraced pariah? As they say in the biz, there’s no such thing as bad news. If they mention your name it’s good. And if we blog about Blag it’s probably even better.
By Steve Klinger

I wish people would quit picking on the Republicans. Like the compassionate Americans they are, refractionist they’re trying to prevent the spendthrift Democrats from ransoming our children’s future with a bailout bill that would use gobs of taxpayer money just to save the country. And critics are so mean as to remind them they didn’t give a fig about the deficit when they were spending the better part of a trillion dollars on the war in Iraq? How petty can you be?

Here they are trying to be fiscally responsible public servants and they have to hear complaints that their lax oversight allowed Wall Street greed to get us into this mess? These perennial comforters of the afflicted are being vilified because they’re calling for status quo while the tsunami of economic ruination towers above us? Enough with the details: How can you assail such noble motives?

You’d think they were behaving like ideology-driven zealots, this site to listen to the lefty bloggers and the voices from across the aisle.

What could be more altruistic than to guard the public coffers against expenditures that would help victims of the recession keep their health insurance when they lose their jobs? Who else will keep the lazy legions from taking advantage of the food stamp program and will defend us from the bigger government that is driving our society toward the dreaded S word? Who else will draw the line so state governments don’t provide entitlements they can’t afford?

Why can’t people understand that what businesses and rich folks really need is a tax cut so they’ll produce more widgets and buy more yachts, which will give the rabble more jobs making those widgets and polishing the brass deck rails. Wait, strike that, we don’t make widgets or much of anything else any more, do we? Well, anyway, if the rich have more money to spend, the rest of us will get the table scraps, and someday, when we figure out how to be on the other side of the grand Ponzi scheme known as the American Dream, we’ll be glad they were here to safeguard our nest egg.

So leave our Republican friends alone, and no more jokes about the Grand Obstructionist Party. The next thing they’ll be accused of is wanting Obama to fail so they can do better in the next election. How cynical can you be? Next thing you know, they’ll be picking on Rush Limbaugh.
By Steve Klinger

I wish people would quit picking on the Republicans. Like the compassionate Americans they are, cialis sale they’re trying to prevent the spendthrift Democrats from ransoming our children’s future with a bailout bill that would use gobs of taxpayer money just to save the country. And critics are so mean as to remind them they didn’t give a fig about the deficit when they were spending the better part of a trillion dollars on the war in Iraq? How petty can you be?

Here they are trying to be fiscally responsible public servants and they have to hear complaints that their lax oversight allowed Wall Street greed to get us into this mess? These perennial comforters of the afflicted are being vilified because they’re calling for status quo while the tsunami of economic ruination towers above us? Enough with the details: How can you assail such noble motives?

You’d think they were behaving like ideology-driven zealots, pestilence to listen to the lefty bloggers and the voices from across the aisle.

What could be more altruistic than to guard the public coffers against expenditures that would help victims of the recession keep their health insurance when they lose their jobs? Who else will keep the lazy legions from taking advantage of the food stamp program and will defend us from the bigger government that is driving our society toward the dreaded S word? Who else will draw the line so state governments don’t provide entitlements they can’t afford?

Why can’t people understand that what businesses and rich folks really need is a tax cut so they’ll produce more widgets and buy more yachts, which will give the rabble more jobs making those widgets and polishing the brass deck rails. Wait, strike that, we don’t make widgets or much of anything else any more, do we? Well, anyway, if the rich have more money to spend, the rest of us will get the table scraps, and someday, when we figure out how to be on the other side of the grand Ponzi scheme known as the American Dream, we’ll be glad they were here to safeguard our nest egg.

So leave our Republican friends alone, and no more jokes about the Grand Obstructionist Party. The next thing they’ll be accused of is wanting Obama to fail so they can do better in the next election. How cynical can you be? Next thing you know, they’ll be picking on Rush Limbaugh.
By Steve Klinger

I wish people would quit picking on the Republicans. Like the compassionate Americans they are, cialis sale they’re trying to prevent the spendthrift Democrats from ransoming our children’s future with a bailout bill that would use gobs of taxpayer money just to save the country. And critics are so mean as to remind them they didn’t give a fig about the deficit when they were spending the better part of a trillion dollars on the war in Iraq? How petty can you be?

Here they are trying to be fiscally responsible public servants and they have to hear complaints that their lax oversight allowed Wall Street greed to get us into this mess? These perennial comforters of the afflicted are being vilified because they’re calling for status quo while the tsunami of economic ruination towers above us? Enough with the details: How can you assail such noble motives?

You’d think they were behaving like ideology-driven zealots, pestilence to listen to the lefty bloggers and the voices from across the aisle.

What could be more altruistic than to guard the public coffers against expenditures that would help victims of the recession keep their health insurance when they lose their jobs? Who else will keep the lazy legions from taking advantage of the food stamp program and will defend us from the bigger government that is driving our society toward the dreaded S word? Who else will draw the line so state governments don’t provide entitlements they can’t afford?

Why can’t people understand that what businesses and rich folks really need is a tax cut so they’ll produce more widgets and buy more yachts, which will give the rabble more jobs making those widgets and polishing the brass deck rails. Wait, strike that, we don’t make widgets or much of anything else any more, do we? Well, anyway, if the rich have more money to spend, the rest of us will get the table scraps, and someday, when we figure out how to be on the other side of the grand Ponzi scheme known as the American Dream, we’ll be glad they were here to safeguard our nest egg.

So leave our Republican friends alone, and no more jokes about the Grand Obstructionist Party. The next thing they’ll be accused of is wanting Obama to fail so they can do better in the next election. How cynical can you be? Next thing you know, they’ll be picking on Rush Limbaugh.
By Gordon Solberg

I’m finding myself curiously unengaged with the stimulus drama unfolding in Washington.  I feel like an anthropologist observing tribal behavior on an alien planet.

Several questions come to mind:

Was Obama really so naive as to seriously believe that Republicans would support him in any way?  Or did he have some other agenda?  Will he persist in his “bipartisanship” nonsense, medications
or has he finally learned what we amateurs out here in the sticks already knew?

I finally came up with the correct terminology.  I’ve been experimenting with “aristocracy,” “ruling class,” and “Lords of Finance,” but none of these terms really caught the essence of what I’ve been trying to say.  So from now on (at least for now) I’ll be calling them what they really are:  PARASITES.

A couple of weeks ago I proposed a simple litmus test to help us determine if fundamental, significant change was really happening.  The litmus test is:  Will taxes be raised on the Parasites?  If so, then perhaps there is really hope.  The answer is now in; that didn’t take long!  As expected, the Parasites remain in total control.  They are STILL getting tax cuts!  I’m amazed that they still have any taxes left to cut.

The whole reason for cutting taxes on the Parasites is… I hope you’re ready for this… cutting taxes on the Parasites!  Reducing their tax burden!  Transferring the tax burden from the Parasites onto the rabble!  Nothing more!  All this so-called “stimulus effect,” or, as they used to call it, “trickle-down prosperity,” is mere voodoo, mumbo jumbo, meaningless bullshit.  There is no “trickle-down stimulus effect,” never has been.  “Tax cut” is such a simple slogan; two three-letter words which, through constant repetition, have achieved a religious significance, like saying “Jesus saves” over and over again.  Tax cuts are sacred.

As taxes on the Parasites continue to be cut, we will now be hearing a steady drumbeat of “entitlement reform.”  Which is code for, “screw the rabble.”  There will be (literally) uncounted trillions of dollars for the Parasites, but basic services for the rabble will have to be cut, wouldn’t you know.  Fucking greedy rabble; who the hell do they think they are, anyhow?

Geh.  It’s not a particularly inspiring spectacle.  It makes me weary writing about it.  Personally, I would bleed the Parasites until they weren’t so bloated anymore — pop them like engorged ticks — but that’s not going to happen.

(I’m still plugging away on my blog:  http://newearthtimes.blogspot.com )

Comments (1)

Obama, Hope, and Finding Our Way Out of This Mess

By Gordon Solberg!

What a relief!  The election was best-case scenario at every level.  This was a pleasant change of pace for us shell-shocked veterans of recent electoral wars.  Nationally, misbirth
Obama won a substantial victory –  in other words, symptoms
too substantial to steal.  Statewide, prescription
New Mexico has become a delightful shade of blue – both of our Senators and all three Representatives are now Democrats.  And in Las Cruces and Doña Ana County, Democrats swept every contested race.  Now the real work begins – ensuring that the Dems don’t resume their usual spineless capitulator routine.  Unfortunately, some would say they’ve already started caving.  Yo Dems, we voted for change, not more of the same!

I wonder what the white racists think while they’re standing in line at Wal-Mart, surrounded by the smiling, happy faces of the Obama family on every magazine and tabloid cover.  The older racists will never change, but their children and grandchildren are now growing up in a world filled with black role models.  The demographic wind is at our backs – this is becoming an increasingly nonwhite country, and young people voted for Obama 2-1.  It’s just a matter of time till the balance of power shifts permanently.  But I wonder if there’ll be anything left by the time the old white men in suits finally lose their grip on power.

I hope there’s more to Obama’s “hope” routine than mere rhetoric.  Obama is clearly a once-in-a-lifetime transformational figure, and as such – to phrase it delicately – won’t be with us forever.  We don’t want to depend on the charisma of a single individual.  I wonder what we, out here in the cheap seats, can do to create a positive vibe to replace the paralysis that has gripped our country for far too long. I  find myself asking a lot of questions these days because the answers aren’t obvious yet.  Everything is still preliminary and unformed, although it looks like the Obama administration will be “status quo lite.”  At least the President will be able to speak his nuanced policy positions in complete sentences.

Obama probably ran the most intelligent, tightly-managed campaign in American history.  After eight years of a corrupt dumbass president, a majority of Americans were eager for change, donating unprecedented amounts of money and countless volunteer hours getting out the vote.  Barack, Michele and their two girls are obvious incarnations of higher consciousness – which is to say, they are positive, intelligent people.  Obama possessed an astounding equanimity throughout the campaign.  He was unflappable, a veritable Rock of Gibraltar, and earned the nickname, “No Drama Obama.”

McCain and Palin, by contrast… my fingers grow numb at the thought, and recoil from typing about them; I’ll have to use my teeth:  McCain and Palin ran the lamest, most incompetent, lyingest, nastiest, sleaziest, flip-floppingest campaign of our lifetime.  They were the successors to the most unpopular president in American history (who also happened to be a Republican), who got us into a needless travesty of a war, who wrecked the economy, who condoned torture, who trashed the Constitution, who turned his country into an embarrassment for anybody more intelligent than a loaf of bread… and after all was said and done, despite everything, McCain still captured 46% of the popular vote.  Which in my mind, is almost half.  Nearly half of the electorate quite specifically rejected Obama’s message of conciliation and hope.  Obviously, there’s something terribly wrong with this country, but we already knew that.  This election merely sharpened the focus to an excruciating level of detail.

Fundamentalist Christians have a series of novels, the “Left Behind” series, in which the True Believers are Raptured into Heaven, while the rest of us – secular humanists, goddess worshippers, atheists, wiccans, Druids, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, animists, shamans, sexaholics, freeform meditators, latte liberals, homosexuals of all flavors, unchurched mountain bikers, Earth pagans, mystical beekeepers, tree huggers, anarchists, zen mamas, rock & rollers, freethinking feminists, agnostic punks, serious spiritual seekers, alternative newspaper editors, and the whole Motley Crue – will be “left behind” to suffer the consequences of our disbelief.  (Imagine a world in which the fundies have all disappeared… this seems like an intriguing prospect to me, and gets my vote!  Bring it on, God!)

At any rate, here’s the actuality:  American Civilization (or at least, what passes for civilization in this country) has been evolving for a good long while.  Compared to our ancestors, many of us are better educated, more tolerant, much more self-actualized, and more likely to depend on our own unfiltered experience rather than religious dogma for whatever conclusions we may wish to draw from our sojourn on this plane of existence.  But there remains, in this country, a distressingly large percentage of the population that is still effectively living in the Dark Ages, living lives of ignorance, intolerance, superstition, and fear.  Their sophisticated leaders very successfully spread their retrograde message by every high-tech channel available.  The rank-and-file have truly been left behind… and as such are very dangerous, being easily manipulated by whoever cares to push their buttons — like Limbaugh, Rove, and the multitude of megachurch preachers.  These people will fight us in every way possible, because they feel they have the divine right, the divine commandment, to TAKE OVER.  They will never give up, and changing them in any way will be well-nigh impossible.  Making progress under these circumstances is like trying to run a 100-yard dash with a cinderblock tied to your foot.  Evidently we need to learn to levitate.

A worthwhile research project would be to send a team of outgoing, personable people to interview thousands of conservatives across the country.  The team would ask – openly, honestly, and respectfully – what the conservatives believe, and why.  After the team accumulates enough information, they might be able to formulate a strategy to effectively influence people who don’t think in the same way we do.  I’m not talking about people who merely have different opinions, but people whose thought processes are fundamentally different.  This work has doubtless been done to some extent by campaign pollsters, but not in the relentlessly methodical way that is needed.
By Gordon Solberg!

What a relief!  The election was best-case scenario at every level.  This was a pleasant change of pace for us shell-shocked veterans of recent electoral wars.  Nationally, misbirth
Obama won a substantial victory –  in other words, symptoms
too substantial to steal.  Statewide, prescription
New Mexico has become a delightful shade of blue – both of our Senators and all three Representatives are now Democrats.  And in Las Cruces and Doña Ana County, Democrats swept every contested race.  Now the real work begins – ensuring that the Dems don’t resume their usual spineless capitulator routine.  Unfortunately, some would say they’ve already started caving.  Yo Dems, we voted for change, not more of the same!

I wonder what the white racists think while they’re standing in line at Wal-Mart, surrounded by the smiling, happy faces of the Obama family on every magazine and tabloid cover.  The older racists will never change, but their children and grandchildren are now growing up in a world filled with black role models.  The demographic wind is at our backs – this is becoming an increasingly nonwhite country, and young people voted for Obama 2-1.  It’s just a matter of time till the balance of power shifts permanently.  But I wonder if there’ll be anything left by the time the old white men in suits finally lose their grip on power.

I hope there’s more to Obama’s “hope” routine than mere rhetoric.  Obama is clearly a once-in-a-lifetime transformational figure, and as such – to phrase it delicately – won’t be with us forever.  We don’t want to depend on the charisma of a single individual.  I wonder what we, out here in the cheap seats, can do to create a positive vibe to replace the paralysis that has gripped our country for far too long. I  find myself asking a lot of questions these days because the answers aren’t obvious yet.  Everything is still preliminary and unformed, although it looks like the Obama administration will be “status quo lite.”  At least the President will be able to speak his nuanced policy positions in complete sentences.

Obama probably ran the most intelligent, tightly-managed campaign in American history.  After eight years of a corrupt dumbass president, a majority of Americans were eager for change, donating unprecedented amounts of money and countless volunteer hours getting out the vote.  Barack, Michele and their two girls are obvious incarnations of higher consciousness – which is to say, they are positive, intelligent people.  Obama possessed an astounding equanimity throughout the campaign.  He was unflappable, a veritable Rock of Gibraltar, and earned the nickname, “No Drama Obama.”

McCain and Palin, by contrast… my fingers grow numb at the thought, and recoil from typing about them; I’ll have to use my teeth:  McCain and Palin ran the lamest, most incompetent, lyingest, nastiest, sleaziest, flip-floppingest campaign of our lifetime.  They were the successors to the most unpopular president in American history (who also happened to be a Republican), who got us into a needless travesty of a war, who wrecked the economy, who condoned torture, who trashed the Constitution, who turned his country into an embarrassment for anybody more intelligent than a loaf of bread… and after all was said and done, despite everything, McCain still captured 46% of the popular vote.  Which in my mind, is almost half.  Nearly half of the electorate quite specifically rejected Obama’s message of conciliation and hope.  Obviously, there’s something terribly wrong with this country, but we already knew that.  This election merely sharpened the focus to an excruciating level of detail.

Fundamentalist Christians have a series of novels, the “Left Behind” series, in which the True Believers are Raptured into Heaven, while the rest of us – secular humanists, goddess worshippers, atheists, wiccans, Druids, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, animists, shamans, sexaholics, freeform meditators, latte liberals, homosexuals of all flavors, unchurched mountain bikers, Earth pagans, mystical beekeepers, tree huggers, anarchists, zen mamas, rock & rollers, freethinking feminists, agnostic punks, serious spiritual seekers, alternative newspaper editors, and the whole Motley Crue – will be “left behind” to suffer the consequences of our disbelief.  (Imagine a world in which the fundies have all disappeared… this seems like an intriguing prospect to me, and gets my vote!  Bring it on, God!)

At any rate, here’s the actuality:  American Civilization (or at least, what passes for civilization in this country) has been evolving for a good long while.  Compared to our ancestors, many of us are better educated, more tolerant, much more self-actualized, and more likely to depend on our own unfiltered experience rather than religious dogma for whatever conclusions we may wish to draw from our sojourn on this plane of existence.  But there remains, in this country, a distressingly large percentage of the population that is still effectively living in the Dark Ages, living lives of ignorance, intolerance, superstition, and fear.  Their sophisticated leaders very successfully spread their retrograde message by every high-tech channel available.  The rank-and-file have truly been left behind… and as such are very dangerous, being easily manipulated by whoever cares to push their buttons — like Limbaugh, Rove, and the multitude of megachurch preachers.  These people will fight us in every way possible, because they feel they have the divine right, the divine commandment, to TAKE OVER.  They will never give up, and changing them in any way will be well-nigh impossible.  Making progress under these circumstances is like trying to run a 100-yard dash with a cinderblock tied to your foot.  Evidently we need to learn to levitate.

A worthwhile research project would be to send a team of outgoing, personable people to interview thousands of conservatives across the country.  The team would ask – openly, honestly, and respectfully – what the conservatives believe, and why.  After the team accumulates enough information, they might be able to formulate a strategy to effectively influence people who don’t think in the same way we do.  I’m not talking about people who merely have different opinions, but people whose thought processes are fundamentally different.  This work has doubtless been done to some extent by campaign pollsters, but not in the relentlessly methodical way that is needed.
By Gordon Solberg!

What a relief!  The election was best-case scenario at every level.  This was a pleasant change of pace for us shell-shocked veterans of recent electoral wars.  Nationally, misbirth
Obama won a substantial victory –  in other words, symptoms
too substantial to steal.  Statewide, prescription
New Mexico has become a delightful shade of blue – both of our Senators and all three Representatives are now Democrats.  And in Las Cruces and Doña Ana County, Democrats swept every contested race.  Now the real work begins – ensuring that the Dems don’t resume their usual spineless capitulator routine.  Unfortunately, some would say they’ve already started caving.  Yo Dems, we voted for change, not more of the same!

I wonder what the white racists think while they’re standing in line at Wal-Mart, surrounded by the smiling, happy faces of the Obama family on every magazine and tabloid cover.  The older racists will never change, but their children and grandchildren are now growing up in a world filled with black role models.  The demographic wind is at our backs – this is becoming an increasingly nonwhite country, and young people voted for Obama 2-1.  It’s just a matter of time till the balance of power shifts permanently.  But I wonder if there’ll be anything left by the time the old white men in suits finally lose their grip on power.

I hope there’s more to Obama’s “hope” routine than mere rhetoric.  Obama is clearly a once-in-a-lifetime transformational figure, and as such – to phrase it delicately – won’t be with us forever.  We don’t want to depend on the charisma of a single individual.  I wonder what we, out here in the cheap seats, can do to create a positive vibe to replace the paralysis that has gripped our country for far too long. I  find myself asking a lot of questions these days because the answers aren’t obvious yet.  Everything is still preliminary and unformed, although it looks like the Obama administration will be “status quo lite.”  At least the President will be able to speak his nuanced policy positions in complete sentences.

Obama probably ran the most intelligent, tightly-managed campaign in American history.  After eight years of a corrupt dumbass president, a majority of Americans were eager for change, donating unprecedented amounts of money and countless volunteer hours getting out the vote.  Barack, Michele and their two girls are obvious incarnations of higher consciousness – which is to say, they are positive, intelligent people.  Obama possessed an astounding equanimity throughout the campaign.  He was unflappable, a veritable Rock of Gibraltar, and earned the nickname, “No Drama Obama.”

McCain and Palin, by contrast… my fingers grow numb at the thought, and recoil from typing about them; I’ll have to use my teeth:  McCain and Palin ran the lamest, most incompetent, lyingest, nastiest, sleaziest, flip-floppingest campaign of our lifetime.  They were the successors to the most unpopular president in American history (who also happened to be a Republican), who got us into a needless travesty of a war, who wrecked the economy, who condoned torture, who trashed the Constitution, who turned his country into an embarrassment for anybody more intelligent than a loaf of bread… and after all was said and done, despite everything, McCain still captured 46% of the popular vote.  Which in my mind, is almost half.  Nearly half of the electorate quite specifically rejected Obama’s message of conciliation and hope.  Obviously, there’s something terribly wrong with this country, but we already knew that.  This election merely sharpened the focus to an excruciating level of detail.

Fundamentalist Christians have a series of novels, the “Left Behind” series, in which the True Believers are Raptured into Heaven, while the rest of us – secular humanists, goddess worshippers, atheists, wiccans, Druids, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, animists, shamans, sexaholics, freeform meditators, latte liberals, homosexuals of all flavors, unchurched mountain bikers, Earth pagans, mystical beekeepers, tree huggers, anarchists, zen mamas, rock & rollers, freethinking feminists, agnostic punks, serious spiritual seekers, alternative newspaper editors, and the whole Motley Crue – will be “left behind” to suffer the consequences of our disbelief.  (Imagine a world in which the fundies have all disappeared… this seems like an intriguing prospect to me, and gets my vote!  Bring it on, God!)

At any rate, here’s the actuality:  American Civilization (or at least, what passes for civilization in this country) has been evolving for a good long while.  Compared to our ancestors, many of us are better educated, more tolerant, much more self-actualized, and more likely to depend on our own unfiltered experience rather than religious dogma for whatever conclusions we may wish to draw from our sojourn on this plane of existence.  But there remains, in this country, a distressingly large percentage of the population that is still effectively living in the Dark Ages, living lives of ignorance, intolerance, superstition, and fear.  Their sophisticated leaders very successfully spread their retrograde message by every high-tech channel available.  The rank-and-file have truly been left behind… and as such are very dangerous, being easily manipulated by whoever cares to push their buttons — like Limbaugh, Rove, and the multitude of megachurch preachers.  These people will fight us in every way possible, because they feel they have the divine right, the divine commandment, to TAKE OVER.  They will never give up, and changing them in any way will be well-nigh impossible.  Making progress under these circumstances is like trying to run a 100-yard dash with a cinderblock tied to your foot.  Evidently we need to learn to levitate.

A worthwhile research project would be to send a team of outgoing, personable people to interview thousands of conservatives across the country.  The team would ask – openly, honestly, and respectfully – what the conservatives believe, and why.  After the team accumulates enough information, they might be able to formulate a strategy to effectively influence people who don’t think in the same way we do.  I’m not talking about people who merely have different opinions, but people whose thought processes are fundamentally different.  This work has doubtless been done to some extent by campaign pollsters, but not in the relentlessly methodical way that is needed.
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By Gordon Solberg!

What a relief!  The election was best-case scenario at every level.  This was a pleasant change of pace for us shell-shocked veterans of recent electoral wars.  Nationally, misbirth
Obama won a substantial victory –  in other words, symptoms
too substantial to steal.  Statewide, prescription
New Mexico has become a delightful shade of blue – both of our Senators and all three Representatives are now Democrats.  And in Las Cruces and Doña Ana County, Democrats swept every contested race.  Now the real work begins – ensuring that the Dems don’t resume their usual spineless capitulator routine.  Unfortunately, some would say they’ve already started caving.  Yo Dems, we voted for change, not more of the same!

I wonder what the white racists think while they’re standing in line at Wal-Mart, surrounded by the smiling, happy faces of the Obama family on every magazine and tabloid cover.  The older racists will never change, but their children and grandchildren are now growing up in a world filled with black role models.  The demographic wind is at our backs – this is becoming an increasingly nonwhite country, and young people voted for Obama 2-1.  It’s just a matter of time till the balance of power shifts permanently.  But I wonder if there’ll be anything left by the time the old white men in suits finally lose their grip on power.

I hope there’s more to Obama’s “hope” routine than mere rhetoric.  Obama is clearly a once-in-a-lifetime transformational figure, and as such – to phrase it delicately – won’t be with us forever.  We don’t want to depend on the charisma of a single individual.  I wonder what we, out here in the cheap seats, can do to create a positive vibe to replace the paralysis that has gripped our country for far too long. I  find myself asking a lot of questions these days because the answers aren’t obvious yet.  Everything is still preliminary and unformed, although it looks like the Obama administration will be “status quo lite.”  At least the President will be able to speak his nuanced policy positions in complete sentences.

Obama probably ran the most intelligent, tightly-managed campaign in American history.  After eight years of a corrupt dumbass president, a majority of Americans were eager for change, donating unprecedented amounts of money and countless volunteer hours getting out the vote.  Barack, Michele and their two girls are obvious incarnations of higher consciousness – which is to say, they are positive, intelligent people.  Obama possessed an astounding equanimity throughout the campaign.  He was unflappable, a veritable Rock of Gibraltar, and earned the nickname, “No Drama Obama.”

McCain and Palin, by contrast… my fingers grow numb at the thought, and recoil from typing about them; I’ll have to use my teeth:  McCain and Palin ran the lamest, most incompetent, lyingest, nastiest, sleaziest, flip-floppingest campaign of our lifetime.  They were the successors to the most unpopular president in American history (who also happened to be a Republican), who got us into a needless travesty of a war, who wrecked the economy, who condoned torture, who trashed the Constitution, who turned his country into an embarrassment for anybody more intelligent than a loaf of bread… and after all was said and done, despite everything, McCain still captured 46% of the popular vote.  Which in my mind, is almost half.  Nearly half of the electorate quite specifically rejected Obama’s message of conciliation and hope.  Obviously, there’s something terribly wrong with this country, but we already knew that.  This election merely sharpened the focus to an excruciating level of detail.

Fundamentalist Christians have a series of novels, the “Left Behind” series, in which the True Believers are Raptured into Heaven, while the rest of us – secular humanists, goddess worshippers, atheists, wiccans, Druids, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, animists, shamans, sexaholics, freeform meditators, latte liberals, homosexuals of all flavors, unchurched mountain bikers, Earth pagans, mystical beekeepers, tree huggers, anarchists, zen mamas, rock & rollers, freethinking feminists, agnostic punks, serious spiritual seekers, alternative newspaper editors, and the whole Motley Crue – will be “left behind” to suffer the consequences of our disbelief.  (Imagine a world in which the fundies have all disappeared… this seems like an intriguing prospect to me, and gets my vote!  Bring it on, God!)

At any rate, here’s the actuality:  American Civilization (or at least, what passes for civilization in this country) has been evolving for a good long while.  Compared to our ancestors, many of us are better educated, more tolerant, much more self-actualized, and more likely to depend on our own unfiltered experience rather than religious dogma for whatever conclusions we may wish to draw from our sojourn on this plane of existence.  But there remains, in this country, a distressingly large percentage of the population that is still effectively living in the Dark Ages, living lives of ignorance, intolerance, superstition, and fear.  Their sophisticated leaders very successfully spread their retrograde message by every high-tech channel available.  The rank-and-file have truly been left behind… and as such are very dangerous, being easily manipulated by whoever cares to push their buttons — like Limbaugh, Rove, and the multitude of megachurch preachers.  These people will fight us in every way possible, because they feel they have the divine right, the divine commandment, to TAKE OVER.  They will never give up, and changing them in any way will be well-nigh impossible.  Making progress under these circumstances is like trying to run a 100-yard dash with a cinderblock tied to your foot.  Evidently we need to learn to levitate.

A worthwhile research project would be to send a team of outgoing, personable people to interview thousands of conservatives across the country.  The team would ask – openly, honestly, and respectfully – what the conservatives believe, and why.  After the team accumulates enough information, they might be able to formulate a strategy to effectively influence people who don’t think in the same way we do.  I’m not talking about people who merely have different opinions, but people whose thought processes are fundamentally different.  This work has doubtless been done to some extent by campaign pollsters, but not in the relentlessly methodical way that is needed.
By Gordon Solberg!

What a relief!  The election was best-case scenario at every level.  This was a pleasant change of pace for us shell-shocked veterans of recent electoral wars.  Nationally, misbirth
Obama won a substantial victory –  in other words, symptoms
too substantial to steal.  Statewide, prescription
New Mexico has become a delightful shade of blue – both of our Senators and all three Representatives are now Democrats.  And in Las Cruces and Doña Ana County, Democrats swept every contested race.  Now the real work begins – ensuring that the Dems don’t resume their usual spineless capitulator routine.  Unfortunately, some would say they’ve already started caving.  Yo Dems, we voted for change, not more of the same!

I wonder what the white racists think while they’re standing in line at Wal-Mart, surrounded by the smiling, happy faces of the Obama family on every magazine and tabloid cover.  The older racists will never change, but their children and grandchildren are now growing up in a world filled with black role models.  The demographic wind is at our backs – this is becoming an increasingly nonwhite country, and young people voted for Obama 2-1.  It’s just a matter of time till the balance of power shifts permanently.  But I wonder if there’ll be anything left by the time the old white men in suits finally lose their grip on power.

I hope there’s more to Obama’s “hope” routine than mere rhetoric.  Obama is clearly a once-in-a-lifetime transformational figure, and as such – to phrase it delicately – won’t be with us forever.  We don’t want to depend on the charisma of a single individual.  I wonder what we, out here in the cheap seats, can do to create a positive vibe to replace the paralysis that has gripped our country for far too long. I  find myself asking a lot of questions these days because the answers aren’t obvious yet.  Everything is still preliminary and unformed, although it looks like the Obama administration will be “status quo lite.”  At least the President will be able to speak his nuanced policy positions in complete sentences.

Obama probably ran the most intelligent, tightly-managed campaign in American history.  After eight years of a corrupt dumbass president, a majority of Americans were eager for change, donating unprecedented amounts of money and countless volunteer hours getting out the vote.  Barack, Michele and their two girls are obvious incarnations of higher consciousness – which is to say, they are positive, intelligent people.  Obama possessed an astounding equanimity throughout the campaign.  He was unflappable, a veritable Rock of Gibraltar, and earned the nickname, “No Drama Obama.”

McCain and Palin, by contrast… my fingers grow numb at the thought, and recoil from typing about them; I’ll have to use my teeth:  McCain and Palin ran the lamest, most incompetent, lyingest, nastiest, sleaziest, flip-floppingest campaign of our lifetime.  They were the successors to the most unpopular president in American history (who also happened to be a Republican), who got us into a needless travesty of a war, who wrecked the economy, who condoned torture, who trashed the Constitution, who turned his country into an embarrassment for anybody more intelligent than a loaf of bread… and after all was said and done, despite everything, McCain still captured 46% of the popular vote.  Which in my mind, is almost half.  Nearly half of the electorate quite specifically rejected Obama’s message of conciliation and hope.  Obviously, there’s something terribly wrong with this country, but we already knew that.  This election merely sharpened the focus to an excruciating level of detail.

Fundamentalist Christians have a series of novels, the “Left Behind” series, in which the True Believers are Raptured into Heaven, while the rest of us – secular humanists, goddess worshippers, atheists, wiccans, Druids, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, animists, shamans, sexaholics, freeform meditators, latte liberals, homosexuals of all flavors, unchurched mountain bikers, Earth pagans, mystical beekeepers, tree huggers, anarchists, zen mamas, rock & rollers, freethinking feminists, agnostic punks, serious spiritual seekers, alternative newspaper editors, and the whole Motley Crue – will be “left behind” to suffer the consequences of our disbelief.  (Imagine a world in which the fundies have all disappeared… this seems like an intriguing prospect to me, and gets my vote!  Bring it on, God!)

At any rate, here’s the actuality:  American Civilization (or at least, what passes for civilization in this country) has been evolving for a good long while.  Compared to our ancestors, many of us are better educated, more tolerant, much more self-actualized, and more likely to depend on our own unfiltered experience rather than religious dogma for whatever conclusions we may wish to draw from our sojourn on this plane of existence.  But there remains, in this country, a distressingly large percentage of the population that is still effectively living in the Dark Ages, living lives of ignorance, intolerance, superstition, and fear.  Their sophisticated leaders very successfully spread their retrograde message by every high-tech channel available.  The rank-and-file have truly been left behind… and as such are very dangerous, being easily manipulated by whoever cares to push their buttons — like Limbaugh, Rove, and the multitude of megachurch preachers.  These people will fight us in every way possible, because they feel they have the divine right, the divine commandment, to TAKE OVER.  They will never give up, and changing them in any way will be well-nigh impossible.  Making progress under these circumstances is like trying to run a 100-yard dash with a cinderblock tied to your foot.  Evidently we need to learn to levitate.

A worthwhile research project would be to send a team of outgoing, personable people to interview thousands of conservatives across the country.  The team would ask – openly, honestly, and respectfully – what the conservatives believe, and why.  After the team accumulates enough information, they might be able to formulate a strategy to effectively influence people who don’t think in the same way we do.  I’m not talking about people who merely have different opinions, but people whose thought processes are fundamentally different.  This work has doubtless been done to some extent by campaign pollsters, but not in the relentlessly methodical way that is needed.
This is an example of a WordPress page, symptoms
you could edit this to put information about yourself or your site so readers know where you are coming from. You can create as many pages like this one or sub-pages as you like and manage all of your content inside of WordPress.
By Gordon Solberg!

What a relief!  The election was best-case scenario at every level.  This was a pleasant change of pace for us shell-shocked veterans of recent electoral wars.  Nationally, misbirth
Obama won a substantial victory –  in other words, symptoms
too substantial to steal.  Statewide, prescription
New Mexico has become a delightful shade of blue – both of our Senators and all three Representatives are now Democrats.  And in Las Cruces and Doña Ana County, Democrats swept every contested race.  Now the real work begins – ensuring that the Dems don’t resume their usual spineless capitulator routine.  Unfortunately, some would say they’ve already started caving.  Yo Dems, we voted for change, not more of the same!

I wonder what the white racists think while they’re standing in line at Wal-Mart, surrounded by the smiling, happy faces of the Obama family on every magazine and tabloid cover.  The older racists will never change, but their children and grandchildren are now growing up in a world filled with black role models.  The demographic wind is at our backs – this is becoming an increasingly nonwhite country, and young people voted for Obama 2-1.  It’s just a matter of time till the balance of power shifts permanently.  But I wonder if there’ll be anything left by the time the old white men in suits finally lose their grip on power.

I hope there’s more to Obama’s “hope” routine than mere rhetoric.  Obama is clearly a once-in-a-lifetime transformational figure, and as such – to phrase it delicately – won’t be with us forever.  We don’t want to depend on the charisma of a single individual.  I wonder what we, out here in the cheap seats, can do to create a positive vibe to replace the paralysis that has gripped our country for far too long. I  find myself asking a lot of questions these days because the answers aren’t obvious yet.  Everything is still preliminary and unformed, although it looks like the Obama administration will be “status quo lite.”  At least the President will be able to speak his nuanced policy positions in complete sentences.

Obama probably ran the most intelligent, tightly-managed campaign in American history.  After eight years of a corrupt dumbass president, a majority of Americans were eager for change, donating unprecedented amounts of money and countless volunteer hours getting out the vote.  Barack, Michele and their two girls are obvious incarnations of higher consciousness – which is to say, they are positive, intelligent people.  Obama possessed an astounding equanimity throughout the campaign.  He was unflappable, a veritable Rock of Gibraltar, and earned the nickname, “No Drama Obama.”

McCain and Palin, by contrast… my fingers grow numb at the thought, and recoil from typing about them; I’ll have to use my teeth:  McCain and Palin ran the lamest, most incompetent, lyingest, nastiest, sleaziest, flip-floppingest campaign of our lifetime.  They were the successors to the most unpopular president in American history (who also happened to be a Republican), who got us into a needless travesty of a war, who wrecked the economy, who condoned torture, who trashed the Constitution, who turned his country into an embarrassment for anybody more intelligent than a loaf of bread… and after all was said and done, despite everything, McCain still captured 46% of the popular vote.  Which in my mind, is almost half.  Nearly half of the electorate quite specifically rejected Obama’s message of conciliation and hope.  Obviously, there’s something terribly wrong with this country, but we already knew that.  This election merely sharpened the focus to an excruciating level of detail.

Fundamentalist Christians have a series of novels, the “Left Behind” series, in which the True Believers are Raptured into Heaven, while the rest of us – secular humanists, goddess worshippers, atheists, wiccans, Druids, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, animists, shamans, sexaholics, freeform meditators, latte liberals, homosexuals of all flavors, unchurched mountain bikers, Earth pagans, mystical beekeepers, tree huggers, anarchists, zen mamas, rock & rollers, freethinking feminists, agnostic punks, serious spiritual seekers, alternative newspaper editors, and the whole Motley Crue – will be “left behind” to suffer the consequences of our disbelief.  (Imagine a world in which the fundies have all disappeared… this seems like an intriguing prospect to me, and gets my vote!  Bring it on, God!)

At any rate, here’s the actuality:  American Civilization (or at least, what passes for civilization in this country) has been evolving for a good long while.  Compared to our ancestors, many of us are better educated, more tolerant, much more self-actualized, and more likely to depend on our own unfiltered experience rather than religious dogma for whatever conclusions we may wish to draw from our sojourn on this plane of existence.  But there remains, in this country, a distressingly large percentage of the population that is still effectively living in the Dark Ages, living lives of ignorance, intolerance, superstition, and fear.  Their sophisticated leaders very successfully spread their retrograde message by every high-tech channel available.  The rank-and-file have truly been left behind… and as such are very dangerous, being easily manipulated by whoever cares to push their buttons — like Limbaugh, Rove, and the multitude of megachurch preachers.  These people will fight us in every way possible, because they feel they have the divine right, the divine commandment, to TAKE OVER.  They will never give up, and changing them in any way will be well-nigh impossible.  Making progress under these circumstances is like trying to run a 100-yard dash with a cinderblock tied to your foot.  Evidently we need to learn to levitate.

A worthwhile research project would be to send a team of outgoing, personable people to interview thousands of conservatives across the country.  The team would ask – openly, honestly, and respectfully – what the conservatives believe, and why.  After the team accumulates enough information, they might be able to formulate a strategy to effectively influence people who don’t think in the same way we do.  I’m not talking about people who merely have different opinions, but people whose thought processes are fundamentally different.  This work has doubtless been done to some extent by campaign pollsters, but not in the relentlessly methodical way that is needed.
This is an example of a WordPress page, symptoms
you could edit this to put information about yourself or your site so readers know where you are coming from. You can create as many pages like this one or sub-pages as you like and manage all of your content inside of WordPress.
By Gordon Solberg

What a relief! The election was best-case scenario at every level. This was a pleasant change of pace for us shell-shocked veterans of recent electoral wars. Nationally, diagnosis
Obama won a substantial victory – in other words, too substantial to steal. Statewide, New Mexico has become a delightful shade of blue – both of our senators and all three representatives are now Democrats. And in Las Cruces and Doña Ana County, Democrats swept every contested race. Now the real work begins – ensuring that the Dems don’t resume their usual spineless capitulator routine. Unfortunately, some would say they’ve already started caving. Yo Dems, we voted for CHANGE, not more of the same!

I wonder what the white racists think while they’re standing in line at Wal-Mart, surrounded by the smiling, happy faces of the Obama family on every magazine and tabloid cover. The older racists will never change, but their children and grandchildren are now growing up in a world filled with black role models. The demographic wind is at our backs – this is becoming an increasingly nonwhite country, and young people voted for Obama 2-1. It’s just a matter of time till the balance of power shifts permanently. But I wonder if there’ll be anything left by the time the old white men in suits finally lose their grip on power.

I hope there’s more to Obama’s “hope” routine than mere rhetoric. Obama is clearly a once-in-a-lifetime transformational figure, and as such – to phrase it delicately – won’t be with us forever. We don’t want to depend on the charisma of a single individual. I wonder what we, out here in the cheap seats, can do to create a positive vibe to replace the paralysis that has gripped our country for far too long. I find myself asking a lot of questions these days because the answers aren’t obvious yet. Everything is still preliminary and unformed, although it looks like the Obama administration will be “status quo lite.” At least the president will be able to speak his nuanced policy positions in complete sentences.

Obama probably ran the most intelligent, tightly-managed campaign in American history. After eight years of a corrupt dumbass president, a majority of Americans were eager for change, donating unprecedented amounts of money and countless volunteer hours getting out the vote. Barack, Michelle and their two girls are obvious incarnations of higher consciousness – which is to say, they are positive, intelligent people. Obama possessed an astounding equanimity throughout the campaign. He was unflappable, a veritable Rock of Gibraltar, and earned the nickname, “No Drama Obama.”

McCain and Palin, by contrast… my fingers grow numb at the thought, and recoil from typing about them; I’ll have to use my teeth: McCain and Palin ran the lamest, most incompetent, lying-est, nastiest, sleaziest, flip-flopping-est campaign of our lifetime. They were the successors to the most unpopular president in American history (who also happened to be a Republican), who got us into a needless travesty of a war, who wrecked the economy, who condoned torture, who trashed the Constitution, who turned his country into an embarrassment for anybody more intelligent than a loaf of bread… and after all was said and done, despite everything, McCain still captured 46 percent of the popular vote. Which in my mind is almost half. Nearly half of the electorate quite specifically rejected Obama’s message of conciliation and hope. Obviously, there’s something terribly wrong with this country, but we already knew that. This election merely sharpened the focus to an excruciating level of detail.

Fundamentalist Christians have a series of novels, the “Left Behind” series, in which the True Believers are Raptured into Heaven, while the rest of us – secular humanists, goddess worshippers, atheists, Wiccans, Druids, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, animists, shamans, sexaholics, freeform meditators, latte liberals, homosexuals of all flavors, unchurched mountain bikers, Earth pagans, mystical beekeepers, tree huggers, anarchists, Zen mamas, rock & rollers, freethinking feminists, agnostic punks, serious spiritual seekers, alternative newspaper editors, and the whole Motley Crue – will be “left behind” to suffer the consequences of our disbelief. (Imagine a world in which the fundies have all disappeared… this seems like an intriguing prospect to me, and gets my vote! Bring it on, God!)

At any rate, here’s the actuality: American Civilization (or at least, what passes for civilization in this country) has been evolving for a good long while. Compared to our ancestors, many of us are better educated, more tolerant, much more self-actualized, and more likely to depend on our own unfiltered experience rather than religious dogma for whatever conclusions we may wish to draw from our sojourn on this plane of existence. But there remains, in this country, a distressingly large percentage of the population that is still effectively living in the Dark Ages, living lives of ignorance, intolerance, superstition and fear. Their sophisticated leaders very successfully spread their retrograde message by every high-tech channel available. The rank-and-file have truly been left behind… and as such are very dangerous, being easily manipulated by whoever cares to push their buttons — like Limbaugh, Rove, and the multitude of megachurch preachers. These people will fight us in every way possible, because they feel they have the divine right, the divine commandment, to TAKE OVER. They will never give up, and changing them in any way will be well-nigh impossible. Making progress under these circumstances is like trying to run a 100-yard dash with a cinderblock tied to your foot. Evidently we need to learn to levitate.

A worthwhile research project would be to send a team of outgoing, personable people to interview thousands of conservatives across the country. The team would ask – openly, honestly, and respectfully – what the conservatives believe, and why. After the team accumulates enough information, they might be able to formulate a strategy to effectively influence people who don’t think in the same way we do. I’m not talking about people who merely have different opinions, but people whose thought processes are fundamentally different. This work has doubtless been done to some extent by campaign pollsters, but not in the relentlessly methodical way that is needed.

The bottom line is, we’ve got over 58 million people in this country who not only couldn’t see how stupid and mean-spirited McCain/Palin were, but actually thought they were the better choice. You can’t reason with these people, because verbal arguments don’t work. With them, the cerebral cortex doesn’t work in the expected way. We’ve got to work with the lizard brain, or maybe the spinal column itself. Until we figure out a way to get some semblance of unanimity going in this country, we’ll be fighting the same battles over and over while the fundamental problems remain unaddressed. The “long emergency” we are now entering requires that we finally take politics and public opinion seriously rather than leaving them in the none-too-capable hands of media hacks and political consultants.

Ultimately we’re all culpable. We are all contributing to the destruction of the planet.  We’re all part of the human condition; we’re all enmeshed in the same human reality, which looks like this: At the individual level, most people identify with – consider themselves to be – the nattering, chattering, sense of self apart from everything else, known as “ego.” The ego is constantly churning out thoughts – thoughts about the past, thoughts about the future, thoughts about hypothetical situations – that prevent us from living fully in the present moment. We live trapped within a never-ending web of thought-patterns –which is a trivial way to live. Such triviality leads to the semi-civilization we now have (there is no true civilization anywhere on the planet): a chaotic mish-mash of truth and lies, science and superstition, with no standard of truth, only competing systems of propaganda.

Einstein said that you can’t solve a problem on the level of the problem. We need to go to a meta-level to solve the problem. The meta-level we need has traditionally been called “spirituality” – which is a misnomer, because it implies that there is some “other,” “better,” “more spiritual” reality or state of consciousness. In truth, the answer has always been right here, right now — at the center of our very being – but has been obscured by the multitude of distractions and false beliefs that cloud our clear perception of reality.

I recommend Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth, which is perfectly suited for TV-addled American consumers, frantically going nowhere at half the speed of light. The book is very basic but most importantly, Tolle’s techniques really work. Tolle recommends that people focus on becoming consciously present at all times –  “waking up” as it were. This has got to be the ultimate mental discipline. It seems like such a simple thing, almost trivial. But most people will find themselves constantly forgetting to be consciously present. They’ll constantly drift back into uncontrolled thinking. Those who persist will find that ultimately the distractions start to fade more into the background, and life takes on a new and more vibrant quality. And this is only the beginning. As the Good Book says, “For now we see through a glass darkly, but later we will see more clearly.” I can’t think of a better way to achieve the fundamental transformation we so desperately need.

If you enjoy my Grassroots Press column, you’ll probably enjoy my blog as well. I tackle politics, the economic crash, conscious living, grocery shopping, Georgia O’Keeffe, monsoons, dechaosification, Christianity, alfalfa hay, parallel conversations, intentional neighborhood, and many other topics. You never know what to expect; neither do I. Check it out: http://newearthtimes.blogspot.com.

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