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October 01, 2015

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Excellent!

Is that picture of Talton arriving at the last RC summit?

Very succinct thinking about how our MIC is supported by our economy, and how our economic woes are beginning to sink our military influence.

The F-35 is the perfect symbol of how the MIC is beginning to be an unsustainable parasite.

Meanwhile, the Chamber crew consider new ways to get cheaper labor, while never considering how poor most of America is about to become due to retirement.

And the sad part is the entire system is about to be shaken by the boomer retirement, as they find out their safety net hangs in shreds.

Arizona is the perfect foreshadow for most of America, angry, old, and white versus reality.

Now I am just waiting for INPHX to blow in here and tell me I am wrong and how his team of merry looters will build us back to a strong Merica.

Lol. Reality has come to America, and now we will get a reality star as prez- kewl.

There is no doubt that the USA financed the Maidan "uprising" to the tune of $5B. Colossal blunder on the part of our oligarchs and their supplicants, the neocons. Once the Ukrainian fascists are dealt with, the Ukraine will gladly return to the brotherly Russian fold and stiff the Western banks.

Putin seems to have rallied the Kurds and the Iranians with his intervention. Added diplomatic bonus: Israel has to stop killing Iranians fighting ISIS, the Turks have to stop killing Kurds fighting ISIS, and the House of Saud has to stop backing ISIS.

Club Orlov has a nice piece on this too:

http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2015/09/american-allies-in-syria-their-shameful.html#more

Just another excuse for the MIC to rattle the sabres and demand more money, more people, and more power.

Create fear, exploit fear, profit from fear.

RC writes:

"If Putin wants to get bogged down uber quagmire of the Middle East...knock yourself out"

Yep.

I'm sick of it. Too much money, too many lives, too few solutions, just unending conflict.


When we talk about the MIC, I think we can also use the term Deep State to describe the situation of an oligarchy enriching itself through defense spending while also pushing tax cuts for the rich and, at the same time, using white nationalism to make it all click politically. Their power only succeeds if they frighten enough older, white Americans into voting for the security state, which in turn depends on lurid propaganda coming from people like John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Dick Cheney along with retired generals like Petraeus and McChrystal, and Goebbels-like mouthpieces (say, Kristol and Krauthammer).

Ukraine is as Russian as Louisiana is American.

All war all the time is the hallmark of an empire in advanced sclerosis. Whoever is elected president matters less than the ways the empire advances its own power and privileges. Barack Obama came reasonably close to independence when he set a time limit on the Afghanistan debacle. The pushback was intense, and not just from the predictable jackals in GOP-land. If you want to get a sense of their power, read The Washington Post's op-ed writers. Whether it's Ruth Marcus, David Ignatius, Jennifer Rubin, or George Will, the empire's Praetorian Guard is always vigilant.

Power is the ultimate narcotic (to slightly alter Kissinger's famous aphorism). It never lets go, even when the decay is advanced and, perhaps, terminal. This is our fate as the world's savior 70 years ago. We will sacrifice our nation if only to assert our indispensability.

Mr. Talton writes:

Does anyone think Iraq is better off than it would have been had Saddam Hussein been left in power?

Which begs this question:

Does anyone think Syria is better off than if Bashar Assad still had power?

The Muslim world never had their New Testament. They don't have anything akin to a Pope traveling the globe and preaching the best of Islam. They are still religious primitives who prefer polygamy, flogging, stoning, and cutting off a thief's hand. It's a crappy primitive religion. Crappy religion results in crappy people doing morally crappy things to each other. Ergo: I'd have left Saddam in power and I'd of left Assad in power. It's the only way to keep the crap bottled up.

I am so happy to see the Russians stick a face into the situation and help force the above realization on the world. To wit:

In another apparent concession, Kerry stated explicitly that the U.S. could accept a resolution to the Syrian war that allowed President Bashar Assad to remain in place for a time before departing, as the U.S. long has wanted.

“We’re not being doctrinaire about the specific date or time – we’re open,” Kerry said, adding that Assad doesn’t have to leave “on day one, or month one, or whatever.”

Good on Mr. Kerry for realizing the obvious...
And thank you Mr. Putin for making him realize it.


http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/russian-fighter-jets-syria-raise-serious-questions-kerry-says/

In other words we, the United States, are stumbling over ourselves, over our big overfed - overconfident bellies, so large we can't see the sh*t on our soles.

"All war all the time is the hallmark of an empire in advanced sclerosis." (soleri)

Hear, hear.

"It's a crappy primitive religion." (koreyel). All religion is this, but if not for religion we would find other excuses to slowly mutually disintegrate. It is our nature only kept at bay by 'civilization'.

I read the article Jerry posted and I don't know if it's factual, but there is something I think it points out pretty well.

We are brainwashed by the media to think that our FBI, our CIA, and our military are heads and shoulders above the rest--they always win.

But several years ago, we found out that a decent number of secret service agents are drunk whore chasers.

Maybe they are- they're certainly the best equipped. And maybe it's the nature of what they're trying to achieve- maybe its just impossible.

But boy, if this is "winning" on the intel/ special ops/ CIA/FBI/ fronts, I'd sure hate to see what losing looks like.

Hollywood made a movie about the killing of Bin Laden. Christ- how long did it take to find him?

Even with the billions we threw at that mission.

@INPHX re Bin Laden: In short they didn’t find him – Paki intelligence did; or for whatever reason, the Pakis new all along and decided to give him up. The kill mission was a comedy of errors including one crashed and abandoned helicopter.

The misjudgments (in my view anyway) after the fact were worse. A person like Bin Laden is just supposed to disappear.

Overall, an interesting piece.

RE: "...extremists in the GOP have made governing almost impossible..." At least SOME Republicans (me included) understand that the "base" of our party has moved to the right. It never ceases to amaze me that Democrats refuse to acknowledge that they, in turn, have moved to the left.

During WWII, for example, FDR exhorted the troops to find solace from reading the Bible; John Kennedy and LBJ opposed international communism. Now, Barack Obama is an international socialist in all but name and any criticism of him from the Right is denounced as "racism."

To resolve this polarity, both sides need to be willing to talk to one another and acknowledge a need to move toward the center.

Demos have also moved to the right. At this point both parties are to the right of the middle. Two-party system fail.

RB would not know a socialist even if Debs bit his arse.

Rob, thanks, but no thanks. It's not the job of Democrats to make Republicans less extreme. Nor are Democrats forcing you to adopt fantasy policy positions (deport all illegal immigrants, bomb,bomb,bomb Iran!, defund Planned Parenthood because of manufactured videos, cut taxes on the rich because they're still not rich enough, investigate Benghazi FOREVER!.) Your party of the paranoid, old, and self-pitying doesn't deal in reality anymore. You don't have, too. You simply adopt group-think from your electronic media about imaginary problems. Say, your inane complaint that Obama has somehow blunted criticism of himself as "racist" or that he's an "international socialist". Those are are not real. They're just you spouting off in an ignorant way because you think it means something. All it really means is that you don't like liberals. Okay. I'll admit don't like you, either. But it would be stupid to organize ourselves around vaporous opinions like these. It's entirely voluntary whether we do this or not.

Republicans need to stand for something positive. Don't worry about the center. Worry about reality itself. Because you're too engaged by theatrics to care about actual policy. That's your real problem, not us.

@Soleri re: “All war all the time is the hallmark of an empire in advanced sclerosis.” As usual, it’s always gratifying to find something I can (mostly) agree with you on; my only objection being “advanced sclerosis”. I’d go with “utter stupidity”.

The country has been at a state of war (at least in spending and resource levels) since 1939. That’s seventy-five years! That would be the presidential terms of FDR (Dem), Truman (Dem), Eisenhower (Rep), Kennedy (Dem), Johnson (Dem), Nixon/Ford (Rep), Carter (Dem), Reagan (Rep), Bush I (Rep), Clinton (Dem), Bush II(Rep) and Obama (Dem). During most of the period, Dems had majorities in Congress.

In terms of hot wars we have a nice bi-partisan support: WWII (FRD/Dem), Korea (Truman/Dem), Viet Nam (Kennedy/Johnson/Dem), Gulf I (Bush I/Rep) and Gulf II (Bush II/Rep).

@Jerry McKenzie re: “Demos have also moved to the right”. At first I wanted to scream “Have you lost your mind”. But maybe there’s a bit of truth to it. A sizable portion of the left-wingers in Congress are now ex-congressmen/ex-senators; good soldiers falling on their swords for BHO.

Demos have helped to gut the safety net, lower tax rates on corporations and the wealthy, funded war and military buying jags, gutted or eliminated regulations on finance, energy, and the environment, let powerful lawbreakers off the hook, and dished out tax breaks and subsidies to industry (just think how profitable pharmaceutical and medical insurance companies are getting on Romney-care). The only things that define Demos now is minority voters and abortion. Nothing really "leftist" about them at all.

Jerry:

You're wasting bandwith.

Liberals are liberal, progressive, intelligent, caring, compassionate, fair, open to other ideas, color blind, economic geniuses who have answers to all of the country's (and life's) problems.

If that narrow, racist, mean, extreme GOP would just listen!!


For example, someone who would point out that the Obamacare risk corridor payments look to be about $2.5B short (that's about 87% short, by the way) just hates that black man, Obama!!!

http://www.wsj.com/articles/health-laws-program-to-ease-insurers-risks-has-shortfall-u-s-officials-say-1443739671

"Obamacare risk corridor payments"? WTF!

In case you can't open the link:


Federal authorities said that insurers will at first receive only about 12.6% of the money that they requested from the program, known as risk corridors, for 2014, its first year of operation. Insurers have requested approximately $2.87 billion in payments from the program based on their 2014 results. But the pool available to make those payments is just $362 million, which came from collections from other insurers that did relatively well on their marketplace business.

If Russia hadn't increased its involvement in client Syria, we would have done well to invite them – maybe pay them to do so. We are not going to beat ISIS with bombs and, quite frankly, our leaders (Congress, MIC) show their usual abysmal lack of understanding of complex world problems. They're way out of their depth. It's not too late, however, for us to disengage. Our only moral obligation is to the Kurds, and we and the Kurds will have to try to work that out with the Turks.
Letting Assad live may be hard for us to swallow, but he's hard to kill and he's no worse than Saddam Hussein, who was far better for Iraq than we were for Iraq. The Iranians, Iraqis, Kurds, and Assad's army, with Russian support, can beat ISIS with or without U.S. or Turkish help. With U.S. and Turkish help, ISIS would be gone in a week. The United States and Russia on the same side? Now that would be a real peacekeeping force. Anyway, the world desperately needs one or the other to happen. So do we. So does Israel, although they'd never admit it.

Inphx not sure where u bin but I know folks that if God said today that Obama was Jesus those folks would still hate black folks tomorrow.

I'm tied up caring for the poor, the downtrodden and dying, so back to U all mas tarde.

You know what? I like INPHX. I think INPHX should visit me over the the aves sometime (so you can see how most Americans are really living) but dude is okay by me. I respect intellectual consistency (not stupidity... but consistency in values). This never-ending war has been promulgated by both parties and we need to end it cuz it's too damn expensive in lives and money. That sounds pretty logical to me.

INPHX-what do you say to the people who call Obama an "international socialist?" I mean... come on, now. If Obama is a socialist, my professors must be the offspring of Lenin. And I don't even know what to call the actual anarchists I know who don't vote, don't call the police, try to avoid taxes, use alternative currencies... they must be neomarxists. I think that was a thing back in the 90s?

So while you're right about how Obamacare is a mess, and that the budget is unsustainable, etc, etc, how do you reconcile that with the fact that the people who champion budget austerity (which has worsened living conditions for non-affluent Americans while doing virtually nothing to reduce our national addiction to war and debt) also seem to provide haven to the racist Trumpskyites who think that the man who saved wall street is a socialist?

Why is it that we can't find a small-government coalition based on improving the conditions of less-affluent Americans?

Oh, and on the OP: I'm don't plan to go and die 10,000 miles away from home over the Ukraine when we spent trillions of dollars and lives on the failure that was Iraq? Not to be glib, but get back to me when gas is over $4/gal. Til then--let's fight over whether or not the government should sponsor women's health clinics.

The shortfall will be made good so that all insurers will be happy, except we really gotta cut Planned Parenthood, Social Security, Medicare/aid, national parks and forests, and food stamps to make that work. Heaven forbid a single-payer system with negotiated costs.

Intellectual Assassin. Nice post.

It's's hard for me to imagine much i would "go to war" over but maybe over Conserving and creating more Roadless Wilderness.That includes Putin's landscape.

cal and Spot from our rolling home from Somewhere in the Great Sonoran Desert. What's left of it!

WAR: Your youngest and strongest will fall by the sword.
Noodles.

I was profoundly disappointed when I read this Jon. Apparently you are too busy burying your nose in the end of the communist era to actually acknowledge what is going on in ours.

First, let's look at 'Putin is no Stalin'. We don't need a numbers comparison. Putin is not killing his own people in great numbers, he is arming Assad so he can truly murder his citizens in Stalinesque fashion. I doubt there are reliable figures at this point, but the war has claimed some 200,000 lives - on what began as peaceful democratic protests. If Putin is giving Assad the advanced weaponry to accomplish this slaughter- at the same time he checked the US and the rest of the world from intervening through UN veto power, then yes he shares responsibility for an incredible amount of carnage.

You claim he is just'Supporting a client state.' But the client 'state' in question has already killed in the hundreds of thousands of people. Israel is not Syria, regardless of their Gaza offensives. What Assad is doing is pure murder.

You say you are baffled that the US is 'antagonizing' Russia. The reality is Obama never had a real strategy to deal with this unprecedented violence - and PUtin made sure that any kind of strong message of deterrence, military or otherwise, was near impossible. It is Russia who is moving in and doubling down on the murder. And in doing so PUtin is sending a clear message to the world that Russia will be a player on the world stage - for evil if it suits its interests and alliances. Should we simply cede the future of several countries in the MIddle East to them?

The fact is you are not a mideast policy expert, nor do you even make an attempt to acknowledge the scale of atrocity of the war so far. I used to think a great deal of your writing, but a position this willfully naive in an area of such extreme suffering really makes me question your judgment.

Assassin:

I don't know if Obama is a socialist and I don't think an answer to that question is meaningful. I think he's left, but it doesn't matter.
I think the bleating from the right that he is a socialist is a waste-just like the bleating from the left that the GOP are racists. Neither of those stances are going to help anything.

He's President, not king.

In other words, it really doesn't matter because there are checks and balances that will restrain his agenda, no matter how far left.

Speaking of the budget, in a previous posting, Soleri completely misrepresented the Simpson Bowles plan and results, but at least he brought it up.

I was a fan of that concept then (which gave me the knowledge to show how Soleri misrepresented it)and I'm a big fan of it now.

Some combination of tax increases and spending reduction (INCLUDING DEFENSE FOR GOD'S SAKE) to at least get the budget pointed back in the right direction.

Wealth inequality in this country is a big problem. I have no idea how to solve it except to grow the economy, but I'm not sure how you do that.

Today's employment report was crappy and the 10 year yield fell back under 2%. Europe's in the doldrums, you can't believe the numbers out of China (never could, quite honestly)and even at least one of the Scandanavian countries is finally starting to have problems given the shocking drop in the price of oil:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-08-20/norway-economy-nears-standstill-as-oil-plunge-saps-investments

See what our budget looks like with no changes over the next fives years with flatline GNP growth..........

How many more new I phones do we all need?

Assassin:

One other thing. If Planned Parenthood did things outside of its authority, you fix that problem with a scalpel. You don't kill the entire patient.

You don't completely defund Planned Parenthood.

And would 49 other states PLEASE take a look at this:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/06/science/colorados-push-against-teenage-pregnancies-is-a-startling-success.html?_r=0

Inphx I do not have access to the Times.

Feenie Mac
Here we go with another of those invisible posters again. How do i know Weenie Mac is a middle east or a modern Russian expert. i do not even know who he is as i do know who Jon is. I think Jon is a great thinker but not necessarily an expert on the Russians. And I'm not in agreement with all his curent column. Another take on Putin is Consurtium news blog among many others. I'm no expert or intellectual history proffesor but I have been hanging around the fringes of Russia since about 62.

I have little doubt that Putin the KGB dude is a religious orthodox saint but he is a Mother Russian zealot and a rich one. Wars: man had been at that since the first ape picked up a hip bone and smashed his food adversary. The US has been at creating a second Roman empire by killing since the invention of neocons first sailed the Adriatic. So Putin is more evil than the current administration's of the US AND Israel?
So Feenie Mac show us your credentials on why you know best.

Regarding Israel: prior to the sociopathic megalomaniac Hitler, Jewish folks were identified by religion not as a race. I have met Moshe Dyan and dined with Abraham Foxman. I have known Marty Shultz and my favorite podiatrist and PI was Bill Friedman a complete supporter of Israel. My favorite attorney, Barry Mitchell a Jewish boy born in Brooklyn, my favorite comedian, Lenny Bruce and countless others born of Jewish orgins does not necessarily make me believe that the creation of the Jewish state of Israel was a good deal.

Back to war and killing: I would like to get Thomas Malthus take on that subject.

Jon, I'm not a deep thinker like U and some who visit this blog but it occurs to me that socialization and civilization do not necessarily mean the end of violence. I have heard that early man learned his tribal social skills from observing wolf pack behavior?
Hasta Mañana

@fennie mac: I’m no expert on the Middle East either; or what’s going on the Ukraine either for that matter. I’ve got to say I’m with RC on this one; and if you follow the site you’ll know that a rare thing.

Here are a couple of things I can say about the situation in Syria with some confidence. First, there are rebel groups doing a lot of killing and murdering. Then of course, you’ve got ISIS; which I think of as an invader. Second, any information (especially death tolls) needs to be taken with a great deal of skepticism – if not a grain of salt. Third, if Israel, Turkey, Iran and Jordan (who are right next door) have not stepped into address the situation, it’s hard to see why we should. Ditto for those oh so smart and morally superior Europeans.

Then there’s this. What do you want BHO to do? Doing a little bombing is not going to accomplish much of anything – never has. Are you proposing sending in troops? Then you can have another moral hissy-fit about American deaths and American killing.

With regards to the Ukraine, I wouldn’t consider doing anything until I see Germany, France, Poland, the Netherlands and Italy sending their best front-line units (in quantity-like at least 15 divisions) to the front. Again, if the Europeans don’t care – I don’t see why we should.

Finally. There is no amount of slaughter going on in the world. How about Sudan or Nigeria? How about the treatment of North Korean citizenry (if that’s the right word)? Tibet? Yemen? Any of the Central American hell holes? I think the quote frequently cited by RC applies:

Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will recommend the general cause, by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. (John Quincy Adams)

WKGINBHAM good post but JQA is out of style with the Neo Cons.

feenie mac,

The self-serving mideast policy experts inside the Beltway to the rescue?

The same group of careerist experts who brought the world the US invasion of Iraq. The same Iraq that committed atrocities against its own people including gassing the Kurds while being a de facto client state of the US?

feenie mac, your conclusion of course is US boots on the ground, a muscular US foreign policy and more US involvement in a situation without a solution. How very Washington!

The US mideast policy "experts" define the world as good guys (US and Israel) and bad guys. The Syrians are bad guys so the killings by Asad must be stopped.

Another view is that every human life is of equal value. Taking away the good guy, bad guy distinction, the US War Machine and intelligence community have killed, maimed and dislocated far more human lives than any country.

Going simply by the numbers, the US War Machine is the most evil institution in the world. The Beltway mideast policy experts are complicit in these mass takings of human life.

feenie mac, the world has seen the incompetence of Washington and only the naive believe what they say or what Washington can accomplish other than killing more people.

Inphx before i drift off. The CIA, Russian and British intelligencia, not a candle to Israel. Pound for pound, dollar for dollar the ISRAELI ' s are the best spy masters in the world. They are here and everywhere. You can even meet them in your local shopping center. They just had a big meet in NY at a "wedding" to discuss the condition of the human skin condition and other related espionage items. You should bone up on the subject as to learn how few presidents have ever been in charge of much.

It is a classic "seminar commenter" tactic to begin a post with how much the person has enjoyed your work in the past. Then slam the current post. And end by saying they won't trust your work in the future. Pro tip: Just get to the point.

Too funny, inphx thinks austerity will work. He senses that we need to fix the economy, but never comes close the right policy mix because he still believes the job creators will save him and the other petty rentiers through mythical investments.

Wrong. The only way at this point is simply to reverse the gains of the mega capitalists and push wages and money through the bottom 75% of the economy. This is the only proven way to rebuild the middle class, and yet the resistance to it dooms America to a pathway that will eventually resemble Argentina or Brazil. Ok for the top quarter, sux to be one of the poor competing in the hoods, or subject to our paramilitary police occupation.

But hey, socialism does not work, but eventually someone will once again decide they don't have much to lose and start up revolution.

From a sociological viewpoint, the popularity of the Hunger Games et al is a sign the elite leadership has failed the populace, and had better get much more concern for those on the bottom.

And your compassionate conservatism is a dismal failure, btw.

And your compassionate conservatism is a dismal failure, btw.

When George W Bush wanted to flesh out the "idea" that conservatives could be compassionate, He focused on "faith-based initiatives" and hired a John DiIulio to oversee it. He quit after six months on the job, complaining about "Mayberry Machiavellis", aka, ideologues, who wanted to make sure government didn't function too well or reward the wrong people (those not members of Team R.)

We still live in the long shadow of Reaganism where proving government is the problem, not the solution, requires bloated federal spending going out to private contractors. Notice how INPHX, e.g., is thoroughly engaged by the idea of privatizing VA health care, which would certainly cost more but reward the "right people". Or notice the private contractors in the Middle East (Halliburton, Blackwell) skimming billions of Defense dollars while evading oversight. IRS is facing a critical shortage of auditors and guess who wants to make it worse? The same people dedicated to proving a nostrum with their own malicious sabotage.

Of all the myths that conservatives believe about themselves, none is so absurd as the one where they're "job creators" by redirecting money from the government to the private sector. That it doesn't actually reduce government spending never really registers with the American public. If you keep repeating idiocies like Reagan's, you're comfortable in a delusion that government doesn't work because everyone is sitting on their ass all day doing nothing. It's actually quite a bit more sinister than that. And we have Reagan's babies to thank for this mess. Once again: conservatives don't make public policy with an idea to public betterment. Just the opposite. And they're getting rich off our tax dollars, which is the unkindest cut of all.

Heckuva job, conservatives!

Soleri:


I think veterans should have an unlimited choice on the taxpayer nickel. Period.

For some reason, you think those who lay their lives on the line for the country should be restricted in that choice to a bureaucracy that models itself on the Italian Department of Vehicles, only slower.

See, I don't care if some Doctor somewhere makes a couple of bucks if the veteran gets the choice (and the care) they deserve.

In a typical liberal fashion, you focus on the profit motive (the horrors!!) rather than the result to the person receiving the service

Give them a choice. If the existing system is better, what are you afraid of?

You that right wing zealot Hillary Clinton has come out in support of veteran choice.

Why would anyone think anything so crazy?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2014/03/29/a-legacy-of-pride-and-pain/

"The veterans are often frustrated with the services provided to them by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Pentagon and other government agencies. Almost 60 percent say the VA is doing an “only fair” or “poor” job in addressing the problems faced by veterans, and half say the military is lagging in its efforts to help them transition to civilian life, which has been difficult for 50 percent of those who have left active service. Overall, nearly 1.5 million of those who served in the wars believe the needs of their fellow vets are not being met by the government."

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/06/white-house-report-overhaul-va-corrosive-culture-108403

I can't imagine the partisan, ignortant, narrow outlook of someone who would defend that bureaucratic, bumbling, lying, complicit in murder, money eating, power mad, reform resistant, incoherent, massive MESS.

On second thought, here is Soleri.


Inphx considering the draft and job seekers what's your definition of a Veteran? WWII folks had no choice. And if I voluntarily go into the Sea bees in 2015 why should I have any different care than a civilian clerk at the department of defense. Maybe we should all have free medical care from whomever we desire?

Inphx, Regardless of Soleri ' s politics I consider him a friend. I'm sure if you joined me and others on this blog for coffee we would come to be at least civil acquantinces
And maybe move away from some of the somewhat unessary slam dunks.

INPHX, well, thanks for your drool-filled response.

In a rare moment of honesty or possibly insight you might get my point that the mad rush to privatize as much of our government as possible is not done for the benefit of the public. It's done for the benefit of cronies. You're free to believe that privatization is wonderful, particularly when it drives down the wages of the "takers". But there's a cost here as well, one you don't like to acknowledge as when public education gets its resources cut so the Charter school hustle may reap the tax dollars. Or when cronies are appointed to positions requiring technical expertise, say in the EPA or like Michael Brown's elevation to chief of FEMA. Or when critical positions in Social Security aren't filled, thus ensuring that retiring boomers are even more frustrated by an "incompetent" government.

John DiIulio, in fact, has a telling phrase for this phenomena. He calls it leviathan by proxy. That is, we still have bloated government. It just doesn't work nearly as well. As I suggested above, the aim is less to shrink government than divert its resources. Say to a privatized VA, which would not only cost more, but most likely deliver less care. Because you guys can spot a "taker" from a mile away. On the other hand, some God-fearing CEO/"producer" of an HMO is amply rewarded for saving money at the expense of "takers".

You wouldn't know this because you've never been to the VA. Like most chickenhawks, you prefer your lessers do the fighting in your tribe's ginned-up wars. And you know their substandard VA care to be a "fact" and that they all hate it. Because your media tell you that. Are you actually interested in talking to real veterans? Perish that thought. Why debase yourself. You already know the Truth.

Soleri:

Well, like I said, here we have someone against giving veterans a choice in their medical care.

Doubling down on that position certainly doesn't change the lunacy behind it, so there's that.

OWN the anti privatization opinion, no matter it's clear lunacy. Be proud about the Obamacare stumbles and the co-ops that were going to take on the big insurance boys. Brag about the wonderful status of public education in this country. Tell us what a great job the VA does. Call the IRS and tell us how their every bit as nimble as Amazon. Shout from the rooftops the blazing speed of the FDA- what's the hurry, anyway? It's only drugs.

You don't enjoy broadening your horizons, so this is most likely a waste. But just in case you haven't been following the latest mess as your beloved VA, the House passed a bill to "streamline" (the punch line is coming, don't worry) firings and disciplinary actions at the VA.

Here's a pretty good summary:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jul/29/veterans-affairs-house-passes-bill-to-streamline-f/

It currently takes 6 to 12 months to fire a VA employee (that's the punch line).

The REAL joke (on the American taxpayer) is that they don't want to be singled out any differently than other civil service employees.

Congratulations. You (and your side) are defending that.

Why is this a privatization/non-privatization debate when the real issue is theft? The VA misuses our money. Private doctors overcharge us and refuse service to a minority of the population. I don't quite think either of these are hills to die on when they are both flawed by, uh, legalized theft.

I hate that the political left has deified the state-as if it has done anything other than create conditions where it's favored entities can reap economic benefit. Sometimes the people in charge wanna make it easier for (x) sometimes they wanna make it harder. But state operated systems won't save us from the legalized theft of financial misappropriation, impractical employment policies, consumer dissatisfaction, and and unequal distribution of resources with effective policies (reinforced by cultural practices) which prevent those types of things from occurring.

But good lord, to pretend private entities don't do the same thing! And we don't even have public oversight for them because they are private! I want democracy. Probiotics room is the antithesis thereof. I can appreciate what it ameliorates but the loss of community control over essential services should terrify anyone who values the idea of consent.

walmart claims that it is better at disaster relief than fema. Isn't it terrifying to think that we have to depend on the family business of some backwoods Arkansans to save Americans from disasters? I didn't vote for them... They aren't accountable to me. Their practices are subsidized by my taxes and I can't even change them. Finally, wal mart (with the support of the American gov) reduces consumer choice (via underselling competition, finding the absolute cheapest goods, narrowing products which are available for sale) in a way similar to the Feds. How is this any worse than what the VA does?

I don't really care about who gives me my goods and services--is just like a bit of control and transparency and choice over how the process will work. Both privatization and nationalization fail at that. But I value democracy and there is little more anti-democratic than privatization. I'd say it's unamerican buuut is democracy American?

Seriously, where is Emil? This debate needs his academic rigor.

The last I heard from Emil, he was still denying climate change (because of something one scientist said, which to his indisputably keen intellect meant the entire edifice was corrupt). And there was his several-billion pixel obsession with the Malaysian airliner that he "proved" crashed in Southeast Asia.

Intellectulassassin, I have no idea what you want here except some of kind of positivist and idiosyncratic approach that we commenters - and Rogue himself - play wonks who prove stuff on the internet. Still, I don't know your comment really said - or proved - since it was fairly detached from the extant arguments in our political discourse. You want more choice? Fine, I think we all do. So, tell us without certitude and hauteur how that is achieved. Better yet, make the conversation lighter and just direct us to the school of thought you've allied yourself with. Because I suspect, that will clarify the issue you're addressing without the rhetorical gobbledygook it's pinioned to.

I have said this many times in this forum: we prove nothing here. We have conversations that either illuminate or not the political and social landscape we live in. The people I read and admire do a reasonably good job in that arena, too. But none, to my way of thinking has proved anything. Social reality has many layers but it's not necessary to torture language with something it's incapable of explicating. We might advance the discourse with keener and more subtle arguments, true. But the fact remains that the little that we do is much closer to art than it is science.

BTW, if you were to get your wish and return Emil to the throne he occupied here, I would leave because life is too short for term papers pretending to be proofs, let alone from someone whose personality doesn't permit conversation. I like to talk back to people, not be lectured to and denounced. Also, I prefer the broad outlines, not the owner's manual to one issue or another. To each his own. There's no reason why we can't all say what we want just as there's no one right way to do this stuff. But if you're convinced Emil's way is not only the best but the only valid vector of opinion, well, then that's a conversation stopper in itself. Because it isn't a conversation actual human beings enjoy. It's just some whiz kid playing smarty pants on the internet.

Emil left us. In the course of several vicious emails to me, he made it clear he was not getting the respect he deserved from others and that I am every kind of mountebank and fraud (his language was more colorful). Frankly, without him the comments section has flourished.

Assassin:

Here's the difference.

Don't like Wal Mart? There's Target. Or Neiman Marcus.

Don't like the VA? Tough.

Government agencies by their nature become monolithic monopolistic self serving bureaucracies. And they resist reform and competition like the professionals they are, inventing the horrors of a private market.

Choice is almost always good for consumers of a good or service but almost always bad for providers. Hence, the VA and the power mad folks blindly supporting it crow about the horrors of private health care. Ineffective school systems demonize charter schools. Teachers unions are all in for the kids, right?

They also LIVE (and exist because of) to provide pricing distortions, all cloaked in the nonsense of the common good.

Privatize all or part of social security? Oh, hell no. Got to keep with the original system, cause, gee nothing in financial markets or technology has changed since 1920, has it?

See, you can't privatize all or part of social security because some Wall Street guys make some money.

Never mind if the retiree might wind up with more money.

Can't have the private sector making more money.

No matter the betterment of the populace.

Soleri, I personally like whiz kids playing smarty pants on the internet, but moreover, the diversity of comments on this blog keeps me coming back. If it were only term papers, or hippy ex-cops, or flowery epics, etc, etc, I wouldn't read as often as I do.

It's also the best written source for local news I've found. As someone with a professional interest in the history of Phoenix, I find that consumption of high-quality comments help challenge my preconceived notions of this place and strengthen my critiques of it too.

Emil is really smart. He sees things I can't. So I'll listen to him because I'm still looking for more precise language, and the perspective of that guy made language far more precise. I go by #theintellectualassassin for a reason lol.

I'm in total agreement that this is more art than science, but I want to be the best artist around, you know? This is a place to sharpen my tools. I'm sure it can be that for me as well as a place you can talk back to people without being lectured to. Just gotta know how to ignore things, right?

INPHX, if you live Benson, AZ, the only store in town is wal-mart. Broadly speaking, the local market could be easily constrained by the monopolistic private corporation of wal-mart. Isn't wal-mart a provider and consumer choice would bad for them too? Can't they reduce consumer choice similar to how how the gov can?

What makes you think outside capital cares about "the betterment of the populace?" Like... this was actually my point in the last comment, which is probably why Soleri was correct in saying it was incomprehensible, but where I wrote: "Probiotics room is the antithesis thereof." I meant, "privitization is the antithesis of democracy." Perhaps we'll have better outcomes in what we get materially, but less choice in how we get it.

Which leads to my pet peeve: charters may or may not provide better instruction than traditional public schools. But they certainly are capable of the same type of shenanigans as public schools--and with less public accountability for their use of public money:

http://www.kpho.com/story/28999644/while-many-public-schools-struggle-some-charter-chains-profit

So it's like, do I want the school board misappropriating my money or some family? There are no good guys here but the people; therefore, my intense interest in public control over the process. Show me privitization w/accountability and I'm game. I have yet to have been shown that.

INPHX, SS is a guaranteed income floor for seniors and the single greatest anti-poverty program in this nation's history. The idea that the average guy could play the stock market to his advantage is insane. Most people have no idea of the relative risks they are running. Moreover, it would undermine the nature of SS itself, pitting "winners" against "losers", and thus weakening the basic social insurance aspect of the program. Given all that, it was not really surprising that in 2005 when George W Bush decided to spend his "political capital" on the right's most lunatic obsession, seniors reacted skeptically. Imagine what would have happened in the aftermath of the 2008 stock market crash. If you think it's more important for some random person to hit the lottery in the stock market than protect the vast majority of stakeholders, you have not learned anything.

This always bears repeating: people say they're conservative until you actually name the particular issue. Americans, and even Republicans, favor strong government programs to protect seniors, along with progressive taxation. It's only when you poison the well with bullshit like illegal immigrants robbing Social Security (the opposite is true) do you create a path for destroying these programs. That's why I insist that racism and bigotry are fundamental to the American right. Few people would vote Republican otherwise.

By the same token, the VA works because of its guarantee to access and care. One reason the VA got into trouble was Bill Clinton's expansion of PTSD as a covered disability. Prior to his decision, most vets suffering from that had little recourse to care. So, the caseload expanded and costs exploded. Now, you can blame Clinton for doing the right thing but the vast majority of vets the care they needed. Imagine for a nano-second Republicans doing something like that. Like in a million years given how they love vets only on Veterans' Day and barely even then. If you're a vet and voting Republican, that in itself should qualify you for a mental-illness disability.

The common good is mocked on the right since it cuts directly against their idea that we're all separate actors without any common interests. That is pure bullshit. We all have an interest in one another's well-being. I wouldn't want to walk down the street and seeing someone dead or dying because of disease, hunger, or old age. We're all in this same lifeboat together. Because you're a sociopath, you don't care if someone else lives or dies. But even the average Republican does (good news, America!) and favors a basic safety net for that reason. Since it's 2015 and 1890, I'm going to stop arguing with you as if you have any point here at all except playing Ayn Rand's vomit on the internet.

The endless citing of statistical studies, regurgitation of minutia and no sign of significant life experiences were Emil's signature. His emails denouncing Rogue are probably his most interesting work.

I've been outed, a dumb "hippy ex cop".
So it seems per the intellectual monster sons of Hal and David.
If one does nor stop in dreary Benson and drives SE and into St. David you can relax along the San Pedro with the Franciscans.

I never said dumb, officer lash. Text is a horrible way to get to know someone: let me know if you ever want to let me pick your brain over drinks. Sunnyslope might be my favorite part of Phoenix and I'd need a local guide if I'm ever to understand it

My error I just felt dumb. Sure whenever we can start at the Sunnyslope Historical society. And then talk about 1950 up.
we can't have drinks at Cloud Nine, its gone. I will let you Know.

@Cal: a "ex-hippy" would have to had dropped/toked a lot of drugs. Maybe you're a ex-juicer,but I don't even think that.

Ex-Wifer

Soleri:

So- you're against choice and stuck in the 1920's.

Didn't need 4 paragraphs for that.

INPHX, your bullet points are aimed right at the prefrontal cortex where right-wingers do none of their thinking.

Choice is a good thing. Say, like have a public option instead of being price-gouged by private insurance carriers. Or having transit options instead of having to drive everywhere in a degraded environment. Or having clean energy choices that Republicans reflexively oppose for some reason. Or having world-class trains, low-cost public universities, and inexpensive bandwidth. Or women having the right to choose despite a party that relentlessly demagogues their autonomy.

INPHX, your idea of "choice" is to make rich people richer. The last thing you really want for most people is have meaningful choices. Your principle is as ironclad as the dungeon where Randians dream up their dystopian nightmare of a polity. It's government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich. Forever.

Cal as an "old hippie"? I would say it is more likely a "redneck mother" per Jerry Jeff.

Jerry Jeff? A old Sloper? or an old Glendale gringo?

Did U mean Jerry Jefferies?

Fascinating essay on Putin:

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/08/11/watching-eclipse

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