Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ten Years Of Hell

Here it comes, boys and girls.  We have a bad combination of things working against us - like Af-Iraq-Pak (plus the bonus of Israel prob'ly moving against Iran's nuke program soon), Gusher in the Gulf, allowing Unemployment Bennies to lapse, opposition politics, etc - this is all more than we need for the big slide into a real live depression.

From Calculated Risk:
Consumer Confidence Plummets In June


The Guardian:
Michael Tomasky

I think I understand a few things about what worked in the past to get us out of other tough spots, and while I certainly don't know exactly what'll work this time, I do know this one abiding universal truth:  An economy can spend its way to oblivion, but it can't save its way back to prosperity.

Repubs will insist on cutting spending, but I'll bet dollars to donuts they won't be raising any taxes (unless of course they can do it as regressively as possible).  Anyway, once you take away the huge chunk of demand that government spending creates, the cascade effect should kick in nicely and we'll be circling the drain in no time at all.

The reality of all this austerity talk.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Wingnut Welfare

From John Amato at Crooks and Liars:

As you know, many right wing hacks receive their wingnut welfare checks whenever they publish their books. They are commonly devoid of facts or any type of intellectual honesty, but are always supported by the right wing infrastructure that passes on book bailout money to help support their wingnuttery to the masses. There is no bigger recipient of the wingnut welfare system than Ann Coulter. You can call it TWERP. 'Troubled Wingnuts Effective Relief Program.' There's plenty of money to be passed around to undeserving conservatives and she's there to collect it with open arms.

BTW - I don't subscribe to the basic notion coming from "the left, &/or Dems" that they need to match the Repubs in terms of sleazy lockstep party doctrine and tricksterism.  So I'm not endorsing any kind of effort "to support liberal authors".  If your book is worth reading, then eventually it reaches an audience - of course, that presumes you have some kind of marketing effort that's at least minimally competent. But that brings us back around to a valid criticism of Cluster Fox as not much more than a booster club for Republican Party dogma.  Sometimes, it all just seems to go 'round and 'round in circles.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Just Wondering

So Obama cans McChrystal, and of course, we need a quick refresher on what our Afghanistan strategy actually is.  And that goes kinda like this: we have to fight off the Taliban while training up the Afghan Security Forces, and we have to try to root out the corruption in Karzai's government; because the Afghan people can only be expected to fight for themselves if they have faith in their government.


Why does it seem that all the "conservatives" here in the US are going along with this?  What am I missing here?  Why do we have to have Free Market Solutions for everything here, but we have to have Government Solutions in other places?

Could it be that we just call it 'the government' in other places because it provides some convenient cover for the fact that several Mega-Corp companies are actually calling the shots?

And why aren't the know-nothing rubes outraged by all this very expensive nation building stuff?  Couldn't we solve the whole problem over there just by building a couple of Wal-Marts or somethin'?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Ten Years Of Hell

In a previous post (this one), I talked a little about the probability  of seeing a lot more trouble with debt and default, and that it's likely to come from smaller counties and cities that got themselves sucked into the swirl of borrowing loads of cheap money as a way to avoid having to make some tough calls on collecting enough revenue to keep their joints going.

Here it comes.

Harrisburg is among an increasing number of municipalities showing signs of extreme fiscal stress. Squeezed by rising unemployment, plummeting tax revenue and growing employee costs, Vallejo, Calif., filed for bankruptcy two years ago. Jefferson County, Alabama's largest county, teeters on the edge of bankruptcy after a complex interest rate swap on a $3 billion sewer project went awry.

Last month, Central Falls, R.I., an impoverished city not far from Providence, put its finances in the hands of a receiver, who might have to rewrite contracts, cut pensions and restructure debt. Meanwhile, the nation's leading debt-rating agencies have relegated seven cities -- including Detroit, Harvey, Ill., and Woonsocket, R.I. -- to junk bond status, vastly increasing their borrowing costs.

This is just gonna get worse for a while.

Friday, June 18, 2010

From Nil Doctrine

This guy is a new find for me. I think he does it really well - even if I can't quite say exactly what it is he does - vlogging?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Steely Dan

Third World Man.  Walter's guitar just cries in this one.  Listening closely, I guess I can see why so many have criticized them for being "all about the studio arts", but I saw them live at The Nissan Pavilion a few years back, and there's just no doubt these cats can play.

Sadie's Art

From Nil Doctrine

I like this guy.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Lacrosse Backstop Update

Regarding my attempted project (see Lacrosse Backstop), it stood for a tad bit over one month before getting totally trashed - not by the kids, as would normally be the case.  The thing was fine one evening; Irene says she remembers looking straight at it when she got home, and the next morning it was mangled.  My theory is that a deer (or three) got tangled up and in the thrashing scramble for freedom, the backstop took the ultimate hit.

I don't know why I didn't get some pictures, but there ya go.  We're trying to figure out if a Plan B is even possible.  We'll be working on it and I'll let ya know.

Debtors Prison And The Prison Of Debt

I think it's interesting that some law makers and think tankers are fretting over the problem of people "walking away from their financial obligations", "refusing to be held accountable".  The power-holders get all worked up and blame a sense of entitlement that they say is rampant in American society.  They sit there and scratch their heads and wonder why everybody thinks it's OK to screw the poor little old entrepreneurial bankers who're are just trying to make a few bucks helping us realize the American Dream.

A couple of things:
1) most people have every intention of holding up their end of the bargain.
2) most people by now have seen more than a few instances where mover-shakers have either weaseled out of their responsibilities, or actively cheated the consumer.

In spite of our treasured myth of the Rugged Individual, most Americans are followers just like everybody else in the world.  We emulate the examples set for us by the people who are presented to us as leaders.  And since we've heard practically nothing but a steady stream of "all government is incompetent and corrupt, only the private sector works right", our real leaders are the few guys who run the corporations.  And we see those guys going to extraordinary lengths to avoid fulfilling even the basic commitments to the social contract - tax evasion schemes, off-shoring jobs, short-cutting workplace safety, ignoring environmental law and and and - all in the name of preserving capital, cutting costs and boosting profits.  Don't get me wrong; all that preserving and cutting and boosting is a good thing, but not when it comes at the expense of the system that makes the enterprise itself possible.

So anyway, I'm a little off track.  To get back to the point, now we see a lot of "regular people" walking away, saying "fuck the rules and fuck everybody else, I'm gonna do what's best for me and mine right now".  There's no honor in the system we've developed.  One guy's promise is only as good as the other guy's lawyer's ability to hold him to it.

Our "leaders" have shown us the way.  The system is eating itself.

I suspect we'll see more of this kind of thing.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Couldn't Stay Away

Two things came together for me that make me think we're swinging in a weird direction - actually it's very much in keeping with my belief that we're headed back to a system of EconoGovernment that was all the rage in the 18th century.  Everything is owned by a relatively few rich families, and everybody else has to suck up to the power and fight over the crumbs.

First, in January, the Roberts court affirmed the Rights Of Monied Interests in the Citizens United decision.  Now with the primary win of Sharron Angle in Nevada, where most of her support came from out-of-state AstroTurf organizations, we get a look at what happens when we apply Efficient Markets principles to the election of our delegations to Congress.  Suddenly, Dick Armey can raise lots of money and spend it any way and anywhere he wants to make it more probable that we "elect" somebody who'll be sympathetic to the interests of his clients - whoever the fuck they happen to be; while the opinions of people who actually live and sweat and bleed and die as citizens of Nevada are reduced in proportion.

Another side of this is the fact that "Big Union" contributed mightily to an attempt to beat Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas - the attempt failed, but it was way close for a while.  As the forces get more organized, and experienced, we can expect to see more elections being manipulated by remote control.

So here's the payoff:  Welcome to the era of Representation Without Taxation.

BTW) this fits nicely with the way politicians use a selling technique known as the Turn Around.  Repubs, at least most blatantly, are the main offenders.  You have only to consider Palin's recent attempted Turn Around: The BP spill happened because the treehuggers forced Big Oil to drill farther offshore.  It's lame and crude and clumsy, but guess what - the rubes eat that shit up.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Gettin' Back In The Game

It's taking way too long to find a decent job.  Time to get really serious about it and start working harder on my packaging.  So, in order to shape up and look more presentable, I'll have to devote a lot more time to sweating and a lot less to reading and blogging.  Things must change.  I'm not callin it quits, but I have to concentrate.  See ya

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Only Etta James We've Got

Sometimes, it's not until they've been put thru the mill - overzealous producers and handlers and agents who just want a piece of something they can only dream of creating; maybe that's just what it takes for some artists to get home. I wish it could be other.

A New One For Me

Never saw this guy before. The sax style sounds familiar but I can't place the name.

I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You

From the I Robot album.  A personal anthem from way back.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

LAX, Brah!

It was good day all around for the Roberts boys.  Luke came home with the championship for a one-day tournament in Williamsburg.  9 goals and a bunch of assists in four games.  Way to go, Lukey!

The Graduate

Way to go, Nicky.  I'm proud of you.

WIth buddies Kyle, Alex and Lizzie.

WIth his best girls Irene and Haley.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Cost v Benefit

It's a given that oil runs the economy; that we're dependent on oil - addicted, in the words of GW Bush.  And addiction is an apt analogy.  With just about any substance abuse issue, you don't start out having problems.  At first, there's a nice high - a good feeling - some kind of benefit, even tho' there's also a cost.  You have a great time drinking too much, and then you suffer some because of the hangover the next day.  You figure "the goin' up was worth the comin' down".  But if you do it too much, over time, the cost starts to outweigh the benefits.

From a story at Market Watch:
Ocean tourism (as opposed to that offered by Orlando theme parks) and recreation are among Florida's main industries, contributing an estimated $20 billion a year to the state's economy, data from the National Ocean Economics Program show. In 2008, 84.2 million visitors spent over $65 billion in Florida, supporting the more than 1 million residents directly employed by the tourism industry, according to Visit Florida, the state's official tourism-marketing arm.

Out of the $65 Billion a year tourists spend in Florida, they spend $20 Billion playing in and around the water.  But now all that beautiful water is about to become a stinking toxic sludge made of crude oil, poisonous detergents, and dead rotting plants and animals.

Here's a nice kicker:  BP has sent a $25 Million "grant" to Florida to assist the state in their PR and advertising campaign.  It seems so perfect.  They won't spend the money on technology or procedures that could prevent the fuckups, but they'll sure as hell spend a boatload of it on efforts to tell us "it's not as fucked up as you think".

The tourists have to have the oil products if they wanna get to their favorite vacation spots in Florida, but if they know the place is trashed, why bother?

Likewise, the shrimpers have to have fuel for their boats, but if the oil spill has killed the fishery, there's nothing for them catch.

There's such a thing as Business Ecology - every enterprise is connected in some way to all other enterprises.  And every business is connected in some way back to the earth.  It's all part of a system in which every part is interdependent on all the other parts.  When do we finally get it thru our thick skulls?  If the air and the water and the land are spoiled, then people don't thrive.  Without a thriving population, you don't have anybody to employ; you don't have anybody to buy anything from; and there's nobody to sell anything to.  And then there's no reason for your business to exist at all.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Yeah - That's What It's All About

There's just nothing else worth anything.

Duke Sucks

I suppose I should try to be a little more magnanimous about it, but I just really wanted to see Duke fall.  They're scrappy and they played smart and they had individuals step up to do great things at the right times and they got lucky - all of which have to happen to win the big one.  So, good on you, Duke - you preppy fucks.

The weekend wasn't a total loss - here's a pic that Irene got of Nick (far right) and his crew in front of USS Constellation at The Inner Harbor in downtown Baltimore.