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April 12, 2012

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Or, the nuclear aftermath of Fukushima.

The empire is crumbling. Put your bucks in South America they are a coming.

Side note: a new reply to Mr. Talton and other interested parties, on the subject of Crow, Patterson, and truth-in-advertising, has been posted to the "Michael Crow" thread.

I can't get the word petaflops out of my mind.

It's an Illini curse. Damn.

Man does not live by petaflops alone ... but try telling that to anyone in Silicon Valley.

Krugman this morning makes the case that a nation no longer willing to undertake vital infrastructure projects is toying with its own oblivion. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/13/opinion/krugman-cannibalize-the-future.html?ref=opinion Behind this is the now-constant refrain that the "free" market can do all of that - just unleash the fairies! Everywhere I go, I hear the same bromides pretending to be wisdom: capitalists know best! Government never created a single job! It's gotten so bad that even the roundhead rump of the right's coalition touts Jesus as the first venture capitalist http://blog.usw.org/2012/04/13/rick-warrens-dependency/

Our national conversation is now Babel. Denial is our collective trance, so deeply insinuated in our national psyche that the best we can come up with is Paul Ryan's deficit plan or Tom Friedman's periodic plea for a third party. Behind that lurks the False Equivalency metering out hypnotic quatrains of truthiness. Some people say there's no such thing as peak oil. Some people say global warming is a hoax. Some people say half the nation doesn't pay taxes. Who are we to deny their reality? This is America, after all. We can believe anything we want. Our media tell us what we need to know. Lesbians hate Ann Romney!

You don't simply shake off from this kind of paralysis. The dream state is now our permanent reality.

The Romney campaign seized the opportunity to appeal to the stay at home mom vote. The emphasis being how challenging it is to be a mom and that Democrats don't respect home and family.

The fact that few households could live a middle class lifestyle without both parents working is of course not mentioned. A poor choice of words allows an opening in the to be decided by sound bite 2012 election.

It is impossible to have a presidential election in 2012 that addresses substantive issues.

Romney has made it clear by flip flop that the voter has no way to know what he'll do as president. It is simply a vapid vote against Obama.

Obama has shown the inability to get legislation enacted. There is a huge gap between what he may promise and what he can deliver.

A vote by guess. Romney will be very good for the 1% and will distribute the pain throughout the 99%. Obama will be about the same but will give the 99% Vaseline.

Iran defies an easy answer — at least for anyone but Bibi Netanyahu and APEC — but shouldn't we at least be spending as much time pondering this as arguing over how much work stay-at-home-rich-mothers do?
Personally, I'd be quite happy to have this subject die a quiet death. I'm not generally one to ignore things, but I think that might be the best strategy the U.S. could possibly come up with, from the world's perspective - and from the perspective of anyone who would prefer a smoother decline to a full crash-and-burn imperial collapse with its attendant rending-of-garments and gnashing-of-teeth. And moaning. Let us not forget the moaning.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Soleri as usual is the 2012 Phillip Dick and George Orwell writer rolled into one waxing poetic petaflop. "The dream state is now our permanent reality." And Jesus was a capitalist? Interesting as I know some Romans who think he was a terrorist.

And then we have Petro with a little ee cummings and a huge renaissance vocabulary tossing stuff like "a smoother decline to a full crash-and-burn imperial collapse with its attendant rending-of-garments and gnashing-of-teeth. And moaning. Let us not forget the moaning."

This blog keeps me going better than
Wheaties.

I think it's appropriate to this blog,
"What we won't discuss"
Emil's opinions that he posted under Michael Crow,particularly his points about education costs and "Someone needs to tell these kids the truth."
Good points

Thankyouverymuch. You are a great audience.

Could be worse...

Could be the food fight gets extended into next week with the demand that Rosen apologize to all of Ann Romney's maids too.

We also don't talk much about our iffy water future in the hotter and drier SW deserts.

And we don't talk much about the worsening air quality. Last year Scientific American ranked greater Phoenix as the country's 3rd worst!

We DO listen to the Morrison Institute flog their delusional "Sun Corridor" strategy that would put 9 MILLION people between Prescott and Tucson.

In their defense, the Republic ran an excellent air quality series earlier this year. Near as I can tell the responses ranged from "duh!" "zzzzzz" and "how dare you!?"

Regarding empire and wars of folly, I bring you the Archdruid's post (the latest in a series of excellent and timely meditations on empire, which I strongly recommend):

...The next part of the story I’m exploring just now, the story of the British Empire’s fall and its replacement by today’s American empire, can’t be understood without a sense of the military realities that drove that process, and the decline and fall of the American empire, the central theme of this series of posts, also has a crucial military dimension.

http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2012/04/america-gasoline-war.html

Petro took us back 100 years.

I need to go back 400 more because I owe an apology to the Indians of North America and Mexico.

I've held the opinion that if the Indians of the America's had turned back the invading Europeans we wouldn't need to spend our time fretting about urban issues 500 years later.

I'm reading first hand accounts of the conquistadors and it turns out the Indians fought like hell and succeeded in killing and driving off wave after wave of the invaders.

Due to the false scent of gold, the hordes just kept on coming until the Indians were finally overcome.

My apologies to the Indians. You tried your best. Too bad you didn't spend more time on that gunpowder thing and less time on making your people organ donors,(while they were still alive).

When asked about Rosen's comment, President Obama, responding in a television interview, said: "There's no tougher job than being a mom. That's work. So anybody who would argue otherwise probably needs to rethink their argument."

At last count (an incomplete survey, for the rich are cagey about their wealth), the Romneys admitted to owning more than $100 million in financial assets. How many nannies, cooks, maids, private tutors, and other servants might that buy? When someone else does the cooking, changes diapers, cleans up and dresses the children, provides supervisory day-care, helps with homework, picks up scattered toys, drives the kids to and from school and other activities (assuming they aren't boarded), makes the beds, dusts and vacuums, scrubs kitchens & bathrooms, mops the floors, does the laundry and the dishes, answers the telephone and screens calls, does the grocery shopping, runs general errands, and acts as family chauffeur, what is left of domestic drudgery?

"Calgon, take me away!" (Calgon being the name of the in-house Burmese masseuse, not a defunct brand of bubble-bath soap. The bubbles in Mrs. Romney's bath are generated by an old Vietnamese woman who lives in the basement, pedalling a stationary bicycle connected to pneumatic tubes.)

Somehow I picture Mrs. Romney as Loretta Young's character in The Stranger: slightly ditsy and wilfully deluded. "My Charles is not a Nat-zi!" Indeed. Though some of his philosophical tenets -- economic might makes right, creative destruction, survival of the fittest and devil take the hindmost, and a policy of euthanasia for "unfit" businesses (which just happen to possess Bain-salvageable assets) -- are reminiscent of the late Alfred Rosenberg.

If he loses the presidential race he'll have time to write a book (or to commission one -- no doubt the firm that writes his campaign speeches can nominate a discrete professional author possessing "the inimitable Romney verve"), defending his actions at Bain Capital and resuscitating his political career in anticipation of the next go-round. Call it "The Myth of the 21st Century". Now there's a catchy title.

Off topic, but I know some of you will get lost in these:

http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/topo/arizona/

I'm afraid germs had more to do with the demise of the 500 tribes, rather than their spirit. After all they did turn the Vikings out.

A little scenario:

(Scene: the Romney mc-mansion (pick one). Mrs. Romney, in a Chanel dress and sporting a jaunty little cap decorated with feathers taken from the nene, an endangered Hawaiian goose, sits in the morning-room, drinking single-estate Darjeeling from a Royal Copenhagen cup, occasionally taking dainty bites of Fortnum & Mason biscuits ("a tad pedestrian, but ever so satisfying"), and pretending to read the Financial Times, just in case her husband should pop in for one of his rare visits. Consuela the Filipino maid is in attendance, perpetually flicking a feather-duster because she knows her employer detests "sloth".)

Mrs. Romney (shaking newspaper): "I just adore Tyler Brule, don't you, Consuela?"

Consuela: "Yays, Meeses Romney."

Mrs. Romney: "People say he's difficult to please, but if one pays for Quality one should receive it."

(A discrete knock at the door, followed by the entry of two of the Bain offspring, shepherded by their "mammy", Florida -- always referred to in the third person as "Miss Florida" by the Romneys, "because it's more respectful").

Miss Florida: "The chillun is ready fo' dey goodbye kiss, Mrs. Romney."

(The tots, looking distinctly uncomfortable, are given a gentle nudge toward their mother in anticipation of their usual double-cheeked air-kiss.)

Mrs. Romney: "Not too close, now, you'll spoil mummy's make-up." (affected kissing sounds follow) "That's good. Now off to school you go."

Miss Florida: "Oh, dey ain't goin' to school, Mrs. Romney, today's Sunday, dey's a-goin' to visit the Lord."

Mrs. Romney (a twinge of pique crossing her face): "A visiting Lord? Lord whom? Why wasn't I notified? If Pillsbury has misplaced my invitation..."

Miss Florida: "Deys always an open invitation for you to goes with us to church, Mrs. Romney!"

Mrs. Romney: "Oh, church...Well, I'm afraid I'm just too busy today. Dodo St. Claire and I have had a shopping expedition planned for weeks now. She simply MUST replace that dowdy old Prada she carries about everywhere like a security blanket, and my Hermes is beginning to show its age too. Be a dear and have Pillsbury send the driver round about elevenish." (Turning to children) "Bye-bye, my darlings! Do try not to be too much of a burden to Miss Florida."

(Exit Miss Florida and the children, to be succeeded after a short interval by Pillsbury the Butler)

Pillsbury: "I regret to inform you, madame, that master Robert has experienced something in the nature of an accident."

Mrs. Romney (immersed once again in Tyler Brule's column): "Hmmm?"

Pillsbury: "Yes, madame. He and young master Mitt were playing banker, and the loser was required to "take a haircut". I fear the children were under some misapprehension as to the true meaning of this phrase, and electric clippers were involved."

Mrs. Romney (supremely unconcerned): "That's too bad. Anything else?"

Pillsbury: "Regretfully, yes, madame. The Ming vase you keep in the foyer was damaged in a game of "creative destruction". Master Robert was quite appalled, but young master Mitt assured him that, ahem, "You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs". (Here, Pillsbury makes an awkward gesture, evidently intended as air-quotes.) "I trust you understand that the idiom belongs to young master Mitt."

Mrs. Romney (shrieking) "Oh, my paws and whiskers! Get out! Get out, damn you!"

(exit Pillsbury)

Mrs. Romney (shaking slightly): "I feel a migraine coming on, Consuela. Won't you pour me a Cuban Breeze?"

Consuela: "Yays, Meeses Romney."

Mrs. Romney (taking a large gulp of the restorative tonic): "You're so good to me, Consuela. Whatever would I do without you?"

THE END

AzRebel, greetings.

I've often entertained counterfactual histories, and just as often imbued them with the sort of romanticism that only hindsight can offer - e.g., the relative innocence of the indigenous peoples (and I do mean relative), and projections regarding their more enlightened relationship with the world and the rest of us. But, this world being largely closed, albeit huge, system means that we cannot know what a particular culture or people would have become if certain "vacuums" of behavior were not filled by other cultures or peoples.

While we do not understand - to a degree that would inform predictability - just exactly how this interlocked world moves forward through time holistically, it doesn't change the fact that it of course does move forward through time... holistically.

(I will allow that we could probably safely say that we would not have hit this wall as quickly if the Industrial Revolution were somehow forestalled - but I'm sure we'd have hit it eventually. I see it as a "teaching moment," on an evolutionary scale.)

A quick metaphor/mind experiment in that direction (and I deliberately jump to a nearly absurd particular that nevertheless illustrates my point): You really don't know if you will manifest as a Felix or an Oscar until you encounter the Felix-ness (or Oscar-ness) of your new roommate. In a reactionary fashion, you will become cleaner (or sloppier) depending on the resultant chemistry that emerges.

And no - arguments about "depth of character" or "strength of resolve" or other idealized principled notions about human nature fall upon the deaf ears of this not-quite-yet-weary observer of human nature, in the actual wild.

Emil, your vignette had me in stitches.

Emil: you could have written your own best-selling sequel to "The Help"!

Today, someone on NPR's Diane Rehm show was trying to convince us that Ms. Romney only had a cleaning lady every other week . . . .

Is this the best Rogue comments thread ever or am I drunk? Emil gotta do more vaudeville.

Petro, I check your move with AK CHIN

Emil, you just wrote the sequel to "Gone With the Wind". I loved it. I can't wait for the movie.

That would be Harrah's, right cal?

Ak chin is to the earth what drill baby drill is to Exxon

While we're on the subject of the tribes, lets add them to the list of "un-discussables", as several of them now own rights to almost 50% of Arizona's (at risk) Colorado River flows. Sen Kyl brokered this deal after the case rattled around the courts for years. I leave it to water lawyers to evaluate the significance here but it appears that The Great White Father is likely to be going on bended knee to deal for the "assured 100 year water supply" for certain projects within the oft-touted SUN CORRIDOR . . . if it ever materializes.

Perhaps the tribes will simply allow the bilaganaas to subside into the underworld.

Can we talk about religion, politics, and sex?

Emil is all wet...

Anne Romney is a very hard worker. How else can you explain her 3 million dollar Swiss bank account? I imagine she has huge callouses on her hands (as opposed to her soul) that demonstrate her great labors...

Relevant side note (idea via "The Front Page" link below): If corporations are people, do they have souls too?


http://prestowitz.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/04/03/does_anyone_at_apple_have_a_soul?page=full


Emil - thank you ! That was brilliant! We haven't heard the last of Romney's Swiss bank account.

U meant bank accountssss?

WHAT HIGH GAS PRICES??????????????????

I just made the terrible mistake of going out to run a couple of errands.

I bet every car capable of running, in the East valley, is out on the road.

What a nightmare. I didn't get one thing done. I just came back home.

Where will Ann Romney set up her home away from the White House?
Massachusetts? Michigan? Utah? California?

"Massachusetts? Michigan? Utah? California?"

Scottsdale.

Nice catch, eclecticdog! That's going to Facebook. :)

I like pretzels except when they appear in Azcentral. There's a story about private eyes (and possibly MCSD deputies) following the Coloradans who were investigating andrew Thomas in 2010 on behalf of the AZ bar. Feds got wind of it and had the Coloradans' backs. The story contains this:
"It also hints at the lengths to which federal agents have gone trying to build a case against Thomas, Aubuchon and by extension, against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his former chief deputy, David Hendershott, both of whom worked closely with Thomas." Emphasis exactly backwards. What the Repub won't discuss is their backing (by commission and omission) of Arpaio, Thomas et al. Denial, stubbornness, cognitive dissonance. Who knows?

Emil's sendup is priceless — he may have missed his calling as a comedy writer (I especially like Pillsbury the butler).

Harder to parody but "out there" and real is the LDS/fundamentalist patriarchy thing, where women stay at home and obey the husband. Big money may cushion it, but it's a major cultural divide from, say, a woman who simply chooses or wishes she could choose to be a homemaker.

"Foreign Policy" is too slapdash for me most of the time but behind the slapdash title there is an interesting interview: "A Nation of Spoiled Brats - Financial Times columnist Ed Luce explains the real reason for American decline"

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/04/16/ed_luce_interview?page=full

"A Nation of Spoiled Brats" ??

More like a nation of selfish, mistanthropic CEOs and old codgers.

Thanks, Mr. Talton. I read a ton of P.G. Wodehouse years ago, after whose butlers (most of them, anyway) Pillsbury was modeled.

Speaking of Romney, and specifically his proposed "economy stimulating" tax cuts (shifting the tax burden from the wealthy to the working and middle classes, together with spending cuts for programs primarily benefitting the latter), I came across a great quote the other day in the Sunday New York Times Magazine.

From the April 8, 2012 edition, the "It's the Economy" column, titled "What's the Easiest Way To Cheat On Your Taxes?", which consists of a set of Q & A asking and answering common questions:

Q. Do tax cuts pay for themselves?

A. Politicians sometimes say that lower tax rates lead to higher economic growth, which in turn leads to higher overall tax revenue. This may have been true in the early 1960s, when the top tax rate was 91 percent, but the top tax rate is today 35 percent. For decades, lower tax rates have led to lower government revenues, says Alan Viard, an economist with the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative policy group. "The Reagan tax cuts, on the whole, reduced revenue," he explains. "The Bush tax cuts clearly reduced revenue. There is no dispute among economists about that."

* * *

It isn't every day that you get an explicit admission of such things from an "impeccable" conservative source like the American Enterprise Institute.

Here's a hyperlink to the NYT article referenced above:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/08/magazine/whats-the-easiest-way-to-cheat-on-your-taxes.html?pagewanted=all

The first comment, by "Pete G" of Connecticut, is definitely added value.

A remarkably prescient observation from Polish economist Michal Kalecki's 1943 essay, "Political Aspects of Full Employment":

"We shall deal first with the reluctance of the “captains of industry” to accept government intervention in the matter of employment. Every widening of state activity is looked upon by business with suspicion, but the creation of employment by government spending has a special aspect which makes the opposition particularly intense. Under a laissez-faire system the level of employment depends to a great extent on the so-called state of confidence. If this deteriorates, private investment declines, which results in a fall of output and employment (both directly and through the secondary effect of the fall in incomes upon consumption and investment). This gives the capitalists a powerful indirect control over government policy: everything which may shake the state of confidence must be carefully avoided because it would cause an economic crisis. But once the government learns the trick of increasing employment by its own purchases, this powerful controlling device loses its effectiveness. Hence budget deficits necessary to carry out government intervention must be regarded as perilous. The social function of the doctrine of “sound finance” is to make the level of employment dependent on the state of confidence."

http://www.cfeps.org/ss2006/readings/Courvisanos_c.pdf

"The main service provided by the government is employment of government employees." - Dave Barry

Here's a better link to the Kalecki essay:

http://gesd.free.fr/kalecki43.pdf

Note: there may be textual as well as format differences. An abbreviated version was circulated. Apparently the second link represents a complete version as well as a more readable version.

"This pattern of a political business cycle is not entirely conjectural; something very similar happened in the USA in 1937-8. The breakdown of the boom in the second half of 1937 was actually due to the drastic reduction of the budget deficit. On the other hand, in the acute slump that followed the government promptly reverted to a spending policy."

http://gesd.free.fr/kalecki43.pdf

Robert Reich, from a 2010 essay, "Why We Can't Rely on Foreign Consumers to Rescue American Jobs":

"Yes, America must keep the pressure on our trade partners to open their markets and not manipulate their currencies. By the same token, America also has to reduce its dependence on oil (which accounts for a large portion of our trade imbalance).

"But the essential point is we can’t expect foreign consumers to fill the shortfall in demand left by American consumers who can no longer maintain their pre-recession standard of living. The only answer is to lift the standard of living of Americans. How?

" . . . The way to get jobs back is to increase federal spending in the short term in order to make up for the gap left by consumers and businesses (the fastest way to get this money into circulation is by extending unemployment benefits and aiding stranded state and local governments).

"Over the longer term, we can lift the wages of the vast majority of Americans by expanding and extending the Earned Income Tax Credit — an income supplement — up through the middle class, and pay for it by a higher marginal income tax rate on the top. And while we’re at it, exempt the first $20,000 of income from payroll taxes, and pay for that by lifting the cap on Social Security taxes on all incomes in excess of $250,000.

"Beyond that, and over the still longer term, America’s vast middle class and the poor more need to be more productive and innovative, so they can add more value to an increasingly integrated global economy. That means better education. Instead of firing school teachers, closing libraries, and increasing tuitions at public universities, we have to do exactly the opposite."

http://robertreich.org/post/811409383

From Brad DeLong: "Grasping Reality with the Invisible Hand: Fair, Balanced, and Reality-based", April 17, 2012:

I am Cassandra.

I am here to warn you that on taxes America has, over the past generation, gotten itself onto the wrong track.

A generation or so ago, we had a federal tax system which was roughly one-third social insurance taxes on wages, one third taxes on businesses, and one-third progressive taxes on individual incomes.

Over the past generation we have shifted to a system in which (a) taxes on corporations have become much smaller--less than half as large--and riddled with loopholes, and (b) taxes on income have become much less progressive.

This is not good for America.

This is not good for America for two reasons.

First, the market has handed us in this generation a much more unequal distribution of income that it did a generation ago. Therefore it is now extremely good policy to have not a less but a more progressive tax now than we did then--and taxes on businesses are by and large progressive.

Second, over the past generation our our economy has shifted in directions--toward education and toward healthcare--where the private competitive market is much less effective. As a result, a good society now would have a significantly larger role for government than a good society then. And it is thus bad policy to drop any of our sources of revenue to fund government.

This finishes my warning.

Our tax system is on the wrong track.

We need to pick it up, carry it over, and put it back onto the right track.

We need to do this now.

Thank you.

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2012/04/tax-day-calpirg-sproul-plaza-steps-event-april-17-2012.html

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