I've been getting more and more frustrated with the silliness in the national media about the Syria-Iraq-ISIL kerfuffle. There are plenty of random issues abounding of course -- nice to hear that Israel claims to have shot down a Syrian fighter for some reason besides they can. Seems that Bibi really can't stand the news from the region to be all about him and his macho government. Certainly makes you long for the days when Israel had adult leadership.
I'm not interested in the argument about the Islamic State being a false flag operation; a False Flag needs to be part of some truth's bodyguard of lies and I don't see it in this case. Be that as it may, we have some serious issues popping up, and it's getting harder and harder as a citizen to take our government seriously. That's a dangerous place to be, by the way.
We have a guy jump the fence at the White House and sprint across the lawn and through an open door where he's stopped. He's tracked the whole way by snipers and who knows what else, and they make a judgment call not to waste him. In other words, the White House Cops show reasonable restraint and use necessary force to subdue, capture and detain. Exactly what they are supposed to do. Building isn't on fire, no blood on the floor, nobody's dead --sounds like a successful mission to me.
However, to listen to the bleating, this shows the weakness of the Secret Service, the Civil Service and for all I know, the State Dining Room Service.
If instead of the President this was Pope Francis, he'd have already visited the guy in jail and forgiven him. Instead, lots of dithering abounds and the search for blame continues. Oh, the guy was carrying a folding knife with a three inch blade. Most soldiers, sailor, marines and airmen carry a folding knife or a Leatherman tool a good deal of the time. It's standard stuff that goes in the pockets -- wallet, keys, change, cellphone, knife. Did they think he was going to suddenly burst into the door and pull out a three-inch folder to take on people with guns?
OK, moving on. This is somehow part of the larger story of the failure to adequately deal with ISIL. Or something. The guy in DC was a PTSD-affected sniper from Iraq so obviously it's Obama's fault that he's screwed up...which leads to further discussion of the failure of the Congress to actually do anything in it's oversight role except to kind of rubber stamp the President's actions on ISIL. Now, in fairness the Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddows of the world would be as upset if the President was a Republican. Certainly, the congress has been AWOL on its responsibilities on matters of National Defense. But, it's an election year; if it's not an election year, next year will be an election year. It's never a convenient time politically to step up and do what they're supposed to do - Intelligently debate, argue, compromise and respond to the White House's action and recommendations
. It would be in character for the House to demand cuts to social programs to pay for "Son of Iraq's Son War Part II" but they were in a hurry. Money to raise, babies to kiss, media figures to bribe...our congresscritters are busy beavers and can't really be bothered to do what we've elected them to do because they have to campaign for re-election to do what we elect them to do, which they won't. Somewhere, Madison, Franklin, Jefferson and Hamilton have said "Screw it!" and are off chasing babes and sucking down rum punch and ale to forget the whole disaster.
Then we have the strategy. "The American people are unwilling to have boots on the ground!" The American people are sick to death of doing stupid stuff, and we know that strategic bombing doesn't work. When John- Lindsay- Graham-McCain-Wolfowitz-Bolton start babbling I tend to ignore it. But, when people like Colin Powell and Jack Jacobs start saying it, I listen. I also am not a great fan of air power as solving all the problems and never have been.I don't think anyone has been since Goering and Curtis LeMay. So, the president keeps saying no boots on the ground; the American people support the policy, want US intervention, but don't think it will do any good. Why? Because no boots on the ground...but the American people want no boots on the ground. Hell.
So, the plan is to arm the Vetted-Syrian Rebels. OK, that should be easy. We can dispatch McCain and Graham and W to look in their eyes and see their souls...seriously. This is a debacle awaiting a plan so it can be really screwed up. At present, our arming the rebels isn't working -- the Covert Military Industrial Complex at it's best. According to FP, all aid has been channeled through something called the Military Operations Committee or "MOC" that seems to be largely there for stamping pieces of paper and counting toilet paper. For example:
"There are now 10 groups fighting north of Aleppo, near the town of Mare, but the U.S. and its allies “offered very little ammunition support, no information, no air cover, and no collaboration in military plans and tactics – nothing,” said Col. Hassan Hamadi, who defected from the Syrian army and now heads the newly formed umbrella group Legion 5. “I’ve gotten a little ammunition, but I don’t have enough to continue our presence at the front line,” said Col. Jemil Radoon, a defected Syrian army officer who dispatched 55 fighters from his Sukhur al Ghab brigade to join battle with the Islamic State. Like others among the dozen or so rebel commanders who’ve been approved to receive covert U.S. aid, Radoon and Hamadi visit this Turkish border town regularly to seek support from CIA officials and representatives of other nations that staff the Military Operations Center here.“Our problem with them,” Radoon said of the MOC, as it’s known, is that it “walks like a turtle, and things on the ground go like a rabbit.”
...The commanders bitterly criticized the Military Operations Center, saying it plays no part in coordinating rebel forces but instead operates as a service bureau for commanders who arrive with plans in hand. Even after the Islamic State captured Mosul in early June and swept through northern Iraq and then Syria, the MOC did not attempt to organize a joint offensive against the extremists, using the thousands of rebel troops benefiting from the aid it distributes in Syria, commanders said.
The MOC did not even ask the advice of commanders, said Capt. Ma’amun al Swed, the commander of the Haq Front. Those running the operation “asked us about the existence of Daash and its spread, but didn’t say we were going to work against it,” he said, using the pejorative Arabic nickname for the Islamic State...Commanders said it was clear to them that the MOC wasn’t designed to conduct military operations. It’s staffed by representatives of the CIA and of the major countries backing the rebels, but it has never held a joint meeting of rebel groups.
“The persons we deal with are employees,” Radoon said. “They are responsible for reporting our opinions and our ideas, but they are not the ones who will make the decisions. The decisions are in the hands of the White House.”The commanders said they don’t know what to expect. “We don’t know what is in their heads,” said Hamadi. “It seems that there is a timetable, and at this time it is not in their interests to put an end to the Syrian crisis. They don’t take the lead. I don’t know what their strategy is.” (Emphasis added)
It's worth pointing out that having some echelon above God figure out who's going to get what and how much is pretty patently absurd. Anybody who can get a few AKs, some RPGs, a Toyota Truck and enough gas to drive toward the enemy with a couple of cases of ammo and grenades can declare Jihad against Assad, ISIL, and the Minnesota Twins. This is not an organized neat bureaucratic battlefield. This is a dirty boots, busted knuckle battlefield and saying that the White House is making tactical decisions does not fill me with thoughts of success.
Then there's our Grand Alliance -- the US, France (France? Oh, yeah, they screwed up Syria and Lebanon), maybe England, Turkey and the various Gulf and regional Islamic countries who happen to be Sunni. That actually is very helpful, since ISIL is a Sunni organization. However, Iran which has a great chance her to gain some rapprochement with the US gets hyper because we didn't coordinate the attacks with Assad. Oddly, Assad then announces that he's cool with it, anyone shooting at terrorists is OK with him. You would think that Iraq with one virtual client state involved would get on board with whatever that client state was thinking. They just don't make client states like they used to. Or Satraps. Tamerlane the Conqueror would have don it better...
Or not. My morning Foreign Policy Situation Report brought the news that our Arab "allies" are now wanting to take out Assad. Now, if we take out ISIL and we take out Assad, are they planning on making Syria a parking lot for Lebanon and Israel? Maybe a mid-eastern version of Disneyland? It would have a beach...and lots of ruins. Crusader Ruins, Phoenician Ruins, Philistine Ruins, Assad Ruins. The A-Plan is starting to look a lot like the old "Bomb 'em back to the stone age, shoot them down and sort them out." I guess the B-plan is Blackwater or whatever they're calling it these days.
I'm not eager to see US Forces patrolling the outskirts of Damascus, but the non-ISIL forces aren't capable of winning on the ground against either Assad or ISIL. The bitter lesson we thought we'd learned in Vietnam, that until the enemy has a boot on it's chest and a bayonet at his throat, you haven't won anything seems forgotten.
In the end, this will be a war of good intentions fought poorly because the powerful don't understand that combat has it's own calculus. You don't control it, you respond to it. And if the enemy is fighting a different war than you are, it's pretty certain that unless you're willing to reduce the enemy to empty fields of nuclear-volcanic glass, you're probably not going to win.
The late Colonel Harry Summers who wrote On Strategy: The Vietnam War in Context, was assigned to liaison role with the North Vietnamese in 1975, and had a famous exchange with his counterpart, a Colonel Tu. Summers reminded him, " You know, you never beat us on the battlefield." Tu responded "That may be so but it is also irrelevant."
The Times has an interesting article this morning on the conflict between the Japanese concept of lifetime employment and the whole Milton Friedman "Shareholder value is not the most important thing, it's the only thing!" approach. The UAW had negotiated a similar package for its members in the 50s and while it cost money, it did keep the social fabric in places like Detroit and Flint and Gary and other places devastated by the goat rodeo that was the auto industry in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s. As that program was downsized and ultimately eliminated by through contract negotiations, bad situations got worse. Similar approaches were used by other firms, including professional firms, where "excess" engineers, planners, business managers and so on would be assigned to social programs or to nonprofits to help the recipient organizations cope with their challenges. I assume the corporation was able to write off that time on taxes as a charitable contribution, although I do not know. It certainly showed community involvement and was effective PR.
Basically, SONY offered its affected employees at one plant buy-outs and early retirements. They offered a 54 month buyout for early retirees, for example. However, a number of them refused the buy-out and so are sent to "Career Design Rooms" which the employees call "The Boredom Room." Basically, the company sends the employee there in the equivalent of sending a useless NCO off to issue basketballs in the gym or count the holes in the chainlink fence around the installation. In other words, until shame and boredom forces the employee to quit, the company expands and has a need for the now disgruntled and stale employee or the employee dies. Win/Win for every one.
Well, of course, that's the whole myth of the employment relationship. I work for company X; I can quit at anytime while they can fire me at any time. Called "At-will employment," this is a common law concept that "an employment contract of indefinite duration can be terminated by either the employer or the employee at any time for any reason; also known as terminable at will." There's an underlying assumption here that there's a general power balance between employer and employee. Well, that's obviously insane in the modern world and as a result in most countries there is a requirement for "good cause" or "just cause." The US is the only G20 nation that still has this on a national level which shows some of the benefits of a parliamentary system, I guess. In the US, only Montana is a "just cause for termination" state. Now, if a firm is unionized or provides some other contractural assurances which can pop up in the oddest places, there are some protections; however, it appears that Japan business community which seems to include the elected government. wants to change it's system of guaranteed lifelong employment to an At-Will system.
The standoff between workers and management at the Sendai factory underscores an intensifying battle over hiring and firing practices in Japan, where lifetime employment has long been the norm and where large-scale layoffs remain a social taboo, at least at Japan’s largest corporations. Sony wants to change that, and so does Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. As Japan’s economic recovery slows, reducing the restraints on companies has become even more important to Mr. Abe’s economic plans. He wants to loosen rigid rules on job terminations for full-time staff. Economists say bringing flexibility to the labor market in Japan would help struggling companies streamline bloated work forces to better compete in the global economy. Fewer restrictions on layoffs could make it easier for Sony to leave loss-ridden traditional businesses and concentrate resources on more innovative, promising ones.“I have a single wish for Japan’s electronics sector, and that’s labor reform,” said Atul Goyal, a technology analyst at Jefferies & Company.On the other hand, the Japanese work force isn't quite as docile and ready to do a Banzai! charge over a cliff as the government or SONY and other companies might hope. This is probably an even stronger tendency after Fukashima I suspect. Nothing like being systematically lied to and rapidly learning about it to make people not so believing the next time around.
Critics of labor changes say something more important is at stake. They warn that making it easier to cut jobs would destroy Japan’s social fabric for the sake of corporate profits, causing mass unemployment and worsening income disparities. For a country that has long prided itself on stability and relatively equitable incomes, such a change would be unacceptable. “That’s not the kind of country Japan should aim to be,” said Takaaki Matsuda, who leads the Sendai chapter of Sony’s union.
Oddly, the Times seems to take the position that there is something horrible about the Boredom Room. I mentioned this to the guy who made me aware of the article, and his response was "I'd give a lot for a moment or two of boredom. Frankly, while I understand that the boredom factor is a negative, the traditional large firm expectation in Japan is still a helluva lot more humane than just laying people off in our somewhat ludicrous unemployment system and down economy. What does it say about the US, that the last best hope of mankind is ready to toss away 20% if its workforce like dity Kleenex? What's I like to see is a restructuring of our system where the unemployed are offered suitable opportunities for re-training and community service while maintaining a reasonable income. Probably require an interesting adjustment to taxes but in much the way the California Disability Program works, it could be tied to the employee so that if longer term unemployment becomes the norm, the employee has alternatives besides hopelessness.
Philosophically, I think contemporary American capitalism puts most of us into boredom rooms most of the time. If not, there wouldn't be so many games of solitaire being played on company time! People don't play computer solitaire because they're dodging meaningful work. They're looking for a less soul-crushing and boring equivalent.
Damned right Japan doesn't want to be a company that allows employers to discard employees like waste and condemn it's workforce to cyclical anxiety, boredom and despair. Which is what the US is, and we're paying some prices for that. Pity the unemployed in America trying to find work -- they're in effect in the waiting room for US economies boredom room.
For no good reason except that my wife's ongoing adventure with colon cancer made me wonder, I scheduled a colonoscopy, and went to the Weed Army Community Hospital at Fort Irwin yesterday to do the pre-surgical consult, take the tests, fill out the paperwork. I wasn't thinking about a lot -- I was fasting in preparation for the bizillion labs I figured would be ordered, and was curious only about how long it was going to take. I had my Kindle, set to Marching With Caesar - Civil War, by R.W. Peake. Peake is a retired Marine Grunt, who has bothered to research this series of novels about a leading Centurion, one of two that Caesar mentions by name by doing such things as humping around Hadrian's Wall wearing the plate armor and carrying the gladius that these men carried. Fascinating read, and worth it...I was reasonably ready for a miserable day.
Ok, got there on-time, which meant I only had a short wait. Fox News, that staple of TV in waiting rooms throughout Pax Americana was on and the usual cast of dolts was babbling about Newtown. A couple of chairs down, a 30ish NCO getting ready for leave was waiting, and he made eye contact. Must have figured that I was wise or important or new something -- be an older, short,grey-haired, sorta in-shape guy on a military base, and people assume you're some kind of Colonel or General or something. As a retired First Sergeant, I find that amusing, not unlike Peake's Primus Pilum would have. Usually I don't get into conversations with strangers, particularly when the Right Wing Noise Machine is in full flight. But, the guy started talking..."I don't understand this. They're trying to say this guy was crazy; but man, he shot kids. He needs to be executed." Dude, the kid did have a disorder, autism, and he committed suicide. "But, I used to be a cop. How'd he get the guns? Why didn't anybody do something?" Guy was broken up about this, which surprised me a bit. He then told me that he had been talking to an Afghani while deployed who was convinced that these sorts of attacks indicated that we were an evil country. This bothered him; he was having to come to some sort of decision as to whether or not that ragheaded mofo might have actually been right.
They called me back, filled out some paperwork, took me to admitting who sent me back to the waiting room. Guy was walking down the hall to his appointment, but when he saw me, he smiled and said "Hey, Sir!" I nodded, smiled and said, "Top, not sir, and thanks, brother." While I was sitting there waiting again, the Fox noise was upset about a union organizer talking about following and harassing Republican legislators who backed anti-union measures. The waste of protoplasm babbling complained that the Republicans didn't have any organization to do similar things, that this was only the Communist-Radical-Liberal Democrats. I looked up, and made eye contact with an elderly black gentleman and asked, " Am I carzy or do these people not remember the last 6 years? did I dream that the tea party had posters calling for the execution of the President, signs with him as the Joker and people going to political meetings carrying guns? Am I crazy?" Guy looked at me, smiled and nodded.
Next stop after admitting was an EKG, more paperwork processing and a consult with the anesthesiologist. The OIC was a mid-40s Captain who told me that she had joined the Army a couple of years ago because she felt she should after a successful career as a civilian nurse. This gal has kids in college and now she's starting a career patching up kids ranging from her youngest's age through her own. She fell into the same trap as the first guy, and decided that I must be some source of wisdom. Anyway, she told me that she was troubled by so many of the young soldiers she sees. It turns out that they get a lot of soldiers admitted for basically sleep deprivation -- unable to sleep more than two or three hours in a night. Welcome to NTC, where PTSD makes you fit in! Even if admitted and medicated lightly, they can't sleep and spend the night pacing. She felt kind of helpless to help, because she'd only been in the Army two years and had only experienced Fort Sam Houston and Fort Irwin. I suggested that she think of Weed as a rural hospital with a really good trauma center... Then they took the EKG. At 61, I have a perfect EKG for a guy in his lower 20s. This confused them, because they don't see that with people in their lower 20s. People in their lower 20s have that they see have EKGs usually suitable for someone in their 50s or 60s. I pointed out that I haven't smoked or used tobacco for 30 years; haven't drunk for over 20; am reasonably serious about working out with weights and, nobody has been shooting at me lately. Got a sad laugh from everyone.
As I was driving home, I saw lots of flags at half-staff. Public buildings, installation and so on. I thought that this habit of flying the colors at half-staff for any tragedy was a relatively new phenomonon but couldn't think of a more appropriate gesture after things like New Town. Then I learned that Daniel Inouye had died. If we continue to have heroes die and horrible tragedies punctuating our lives, the National Colors should stay at half-staff in perpetuity. I have followed Senator Inouye since I first became aware of the guy, at the Senate Watergate Hearings. A Senator and a Medal of Honor winner and an amputee from the Go for Broke Regiment who willingly took on the No Win gigs his party needed someone to take on is always going to be worth paying attention to. (Is it my imagination, or the MOH winners who have served in the Senate all been Democrats? And both suffered traumatic amputations during combat?)
I knew that I wanted to write something about the Senator, and realized that I wasn't feeling particualrly articulate today. And then I read Seymour Hersh's article in The New Yorker. The article is well-written, and brief -- and well worth the effort. He writes this in part :
"The point of all this is that sometimes reporters like me know things, or think we know things, and need someone in the know to hear them out, and perhaps provide some guidance or a sense of where to go next—and, above all, why it matters."Oddly, the first piece I read this monring was Wonkette. Their take on the Senator was as powerful while totally brazenly off-kilter and probably would have had the old man crack a couple of smiles, and offer a drink to Tip O'Neil and Bobby Kennedy and Ted Kennedy and Pat Moynihan saying "See what Commie Girl's buddy Abdill wrote about me?" Put it to music, and he's sound like Davy Crockett...
Upon returning home, Inouye founded the state of Hawaii, which he represented in Congress every day of its statehood until today. Inouye’s approach to governance was very similar to his approach to killing Nazis, which was “shut up, I am busy doing good things here.” He walked around being a good guy and doing good things, and one day, he wanted to eat lunch with a black guy, so they walked into the House cafeteria, and just like that, it was desegregated. Because he was hungry, and that’s that. Inouye died yesterday, after 49 years and 11 months in office, likely because he received an intelligence briefing about somebody causing a ruckus at the Pearly Gates. It’s certainly taken care of by now.
Well, we certainly assume so; and, we need to figure out how, as that generation passes on, what the hell we're going to do for leadership. Clinton and Bush showed that the Boomers don't have it in them; so, we're left with...Eric Cantor? Clare McCaskill? Debbie Wasserman-Schmitt? Louis Gomert...
Yeah, things are definitely going down hill. Hope that Daniel Inouye have room at the bar for an non-politician in the hereafter. I guess if I'm dead some Bushmills would be ok, and I'll play Danny Boy on the house guitar...
It occurs to me that Orwell got a lot right but not quite everything. Newspeak is definitely among us, but at it's most insidious, it's corporate jargon, talk and general nonsense. Where we work has more to do with how we think than news or internet or cellphones. We're bombarded. So, Big Brother will probably look less like James Mason or Burt Lancaster and more like, well, Mitt Romney. The CEO of today is the big brother of today.
Got this from a friend who was wondering what it really means. Since he's an engineer and I am supposedly an expert on this Human Resources-Employee Realtions -- Engagement stuff, he wondered if I might translate. Well, it seems pretty universal to me...you'might be amazed at the number of Human Resources professionals named Erin by the way. The equivalent guy name appears to be Chuck, Chad or Bob. The Erin's usually do not have an Irish last name because their Yuppie parents got a list of the most popular baby names in 1974 and there it was. Can't explain about the guys. Most of the Erins actually still have souls...optimism not completely crushed because, if they keep trying, they can really make a difference, Goddamnit, Mike. But, with their door closed, they tend to cry a lot...
This is the email Verbatim although I did change the consulting firm to something neutral...
I wanted to provide you with an update regarding the results of the Employee Engagement Survey.
On September 21st at the Manager’s Off-Site Meeting, the attendees were provided with a general overview of the results by American Social Scientific World People & Process Dynamics. (ASSWPP-D)Additionally, the results were compared to other “Top Workplaces” in the Engineering industry of firms in similar size.
The Executive Team was given all of the aggregate results and each member of the team read all 848 anonymous comments. The Executive Team was asked to look for common themes. I reviewed the specific regional results with each Regional Vice President. The RVPs were then asked to review this information with the managers in their regions.
Tomorrow, the Executive Team and the Regional Vice Presidents will get together for a half-day working session to come up with some next steps in response to the results.
We will continue to keep you updated.
Fascinating, right. Typical corporate crap...however, this is from the Man Behind the Mirror...this is what it really means.
One of the things that binds loose collectives of malcontented malevolent dissidents, anarchists and soldiers, political thinkers and intellectual dilettantes that make up my small circle of freinds is our general aversion to the impact of the totalitarian mind on life, language and discourse. Particularly when afraid -- when they're afraid, they come unglued with weird explanations of events...Orwell could have had fun with that realization because it is when under pressure from the unknown that the basic spiritual bankruptcy and ontological void that is the totalitarian way becomes most obvious. Case in point, China.China has the potential to explode at any time. It's fairly obvious to anyone with a basic knowledge of Marxist thought that the victory of the Communist Party in 1948 preceded the rise of the industrial proletariat. Pretty much the way that Communism has spread everywhere, by the way, except for the countries in eastern Europe that were conquered by the Soviet Union. So, given the fact the Party still rules the country as a vicious oligarchy, it should not be surprising that the government is terrified of anything that might blow it all up. Tibet, Western China, displaced living lives of misery in Guangzhou and Shanghai...labor unrest, the incredible imbalance between rich and middle class and middle class and poor...disease, famine, water impossible to drink, etc. etc. The place is an economic dynamo sputtering away on top of a volcano.
Which presents a fair amount of hilarity masquerading as WTF? Not unlike Rush Limbaugh confusing contraception with the adult film industry and Israeli fellow-travellers eagerly sounding the drums for a war with Iran because our last religio-WMD-"Make the world safe"-enterprises have gone so well, the Chinese government is definitely after the root cause of problems at all levels. Jezebel picked up a story from The People's Daily that really makes it obvious that fantastic explanations for things is not just a Republican plutocratic art but one shared by totalitarians univerally.
Ok, girl one loses a "remote control" to a rolling door for her home. Girl one is obviously fairly rich for China since this looks like a really bad translation of "Garage Door Opener..." although I suppose it could have been a rolling steel shutter door to a patio or perhaps a French Door with a remote to the patio but, WHAT THE HELL? The silly damn Khardasians don't have remote controlled French doors; Trump doesn't have remote controlled French doors. That makes no sense...even in China, which at some levels, times and places is really like Batman's Gotham City, on meth...So, the kid lost a garage door opener. She decides to kill herself, so she hides in a closet -- another sign that we're dealing with some level of wealth here, there's actually a closet that is not so much in use that hiding in it is possible -- until her little friend comes over. She says she's going to commit suicide, the little friend says, OK, me too and Girl 1 writes down a note saying that she's killing herself over the garage door opener and Girl 2 is doing it because, well, they're friends and it's Tuesday and there's nothing on TV and...they are planning on visiting the Qing dynansty to make a movie of the emperor -- any emperor -- and then going to outer space. Girl 1 tells her sister to "Take Care of the Parents" because it's all about the parents, and they jump in a pool and drown.
Sister? The Chinese still have their one child rule. Only the very well to do and party elites get to have multiple children. WHAT THE HELL? This passes no reality test...but, the inspiration for the suicide is ...TV shows about people travelling in time and marrying royalty.
Yeah, and comic books caused juvenile delinquency and rock and roll and teenage pregnancy and communism. Ask your great, great senile grandmother!
Imagine the dialogue in the TV movie...if you've ever listened to the dialogue in a Chinese TV show, as I did by reading subtitles while there -- you'll recognize it.
Chechette: I lost the garage door remote and have brought dishonor on myself and my family. I must kill myself!
Chongette: I am your best friend. I will also kill myself.
This sounds like a cautionary tale about parenting — if your kid thinks killing herself is a good response to losing the remote control, you might not be sending the right message about the value of everyday objects. But Sun Yunxiao, deputy director of China Youth and Children Research Center, has a different moral in mind:
Schoolchildren are rich in curiosity but poor in judgment, so this kind of tragedy happens in every era. I have heard of children jumping from high buildings after watching an actor flying in a magic show. This kind of imitative behavior is in the nature of young children, but it's very dangerous. So we should give some sort of warning for children on TV programs.
I'm actually not sure that killing yourself so you can travel back in time and film an emperor (where do you get the camera?) is a tragedy that "happens in every era."...
Being not so sure about the impact of TV on suicides -- childish deaths from imitating superheroes, pro- wrestlers and such in the west aside -- and being slightly alert to conspiracies and coverups, I gotta say, this looks more like a cover-up of something else. There are lots of possibilities -- a spree of mass murder of children with or without child rape, a problem with some powerful "Big Bucks" in the local or regional Party-Wealthy Complex, drug-crazed People's Liberation Army veterans of the unpleasantness in Western China which dwarfs what we are seeing in Afghanistan or saw in Iraq -- but TV is a convenient scapegoat. Always has been and always will be...Dr. Who, in Mandarin drag, seducing the young with opium and time travel.
My money is probably on some sort of Child 44 coverup but who the hell knows about these things? Totalitarian countries are weirder than weird and China's internal dissension, cultural dissonance, and Commie-Confucian-Oligarchic messiness kind of makes it all seem possible, and that's funny in a weird way...and sad.
Another possibility is that this is just some Politboro thug having a shit fit at time travel TV. Again, the oddities of totalitarianism...
Among the many abominations foisted on us is the merging of Lincoln's Birthday with Washington's and calling it President's Day. Frankly, we need more holidays, and Federal Holidays should be made mandatory paid holidays. Like in civilized countries – double time for workers and everybody else is off doing their thing. Now, celebrating Lincoln and Washington makes a lot of sense – but, Jerry Ford? Grover Cleveland? Warren G. Harding? John Tyler? James Buchanan? Seriously, give us back our holidays and make the bastards give them to workers…
There is method in my madness, by the way. Reduce work hours and you'll spur hiring to maintain productivity. It's a fairly simple idea and works very well especially when you're trying to maximize employment. If you have an idle assembly line, well, if you need a hundred employees to run it, and you cut the hours of 1000 employees enough to reduce productivity to where profit is affected, it will make economic sense to hire more workers. It probably does on a macro scale anyway – as Paul Krugman and other non-Friedmanesque economists keep saying, it's demand, stupid. No demand, no need for supply to keep up. No money, no demand…why is this hard?
I was wandering through various interweb sites this morning and discovered a number of things at places I don't always visit. Probably the best way to be exposed to new thought and new thinking is to just go out and look. I recommend Twitter for that – follow some of the links that are twittered and be prepared to be amazed, enlightened and generally entertained.
Starbucks has a new blend, Iced Coffee Blend. I guess they Blend it so it will make really good Iced Coffee when blended. Anyway, while I was waiting for Sonny the Anorexic 20 something to get me my Americano, she offered me a sample. In a plastic Starbucks Shotglass. Of Hot Iced Coffee Blend. Obviously, they are unclear on the concept...about as unclear as we are on the debt limit debate, the deficit and why the US can't afford not to borrow and build and grow the infrastructure, American industry and hope for the future.
Now, the debt limit is about as artifical a piece of idiocy as we can expect from the Republicans. Greenspan, ole Al hisself, has said in the past that he doesn't understand why the government goes through this drill. The other developed nations don't do it. Most businesses do this -- they borrow short term and long term, and play with the floats to keep going. The problem is not the borrowing -- rather, the problem is when you can't borrow anymore.
While those who claim we are no longer capable of paying off the debt and therefore should massively contract and give up on the dreams of economic justice, industrial democracy and the old "establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare" piece of the American ideology are dominating the debate, there are alternative visions. Those visions are better morally, poltically, economically and historically. Given mankind's ability to screw up sure things, I'm not sure that I can be too optimistic here, but I'll try.
The market -- the money market, the bond market -- is eager to lend the US money by purchasing our debt through T-Bills. They -- the bond market, the Germans, the Chinese, the US Banking Industry -- are willing to do so because we're the best game in town historically and economically. The cost of this borrowing, the interest, is at historic lows. There's a reason for this, which should be almost like a Saint Paul falling off his horse on the road to Damascus moment to the Ayn Randian-Supply Side- Debit Hawks. The market, which they have raised to a level of sanctity exceeded only by the angelic choruses, the thrones and dominations and all the rest of that choir, isn't worried about the US debt. They see it as the preferred cost-benefit-risk investment. Since the whole "let the market decide" nonsense is based on the idea that the market is rational, well, the deficit hawks are disregarding their own ideology.
So, from their point of view, the market is rational so long as it does what they think it should. Since it doesn't, they'll run around and compare the US economy to Bob's Burger Palace and Beer Emporium in Incest Hollow, Kentucky. There are problems with that, of course. Like it's a totally insane comparison. Or, comparing the US economy -- which is the basis for the debt -- to the Rand Paul household.
Now, how do we screw this up? There are a number of ways. The first and the one that makes the world the most nervous, is the possibility of US default on debt. If you can't get the cash to meet current obligations, you ultimately are bankrupt. When you have to start stiffing your suppliers, things are bad; ask any government contractor and that's been happening around the edges for a while. When you start stiffing your lenders by not being able to stay current and having to decide whom you're going to pay, you're insolvent. Now, the market wants to let us borrow more -- we aren't Greece, we aren't Argentina, we aren't Russia. They know that and all these people who babble about American exceptionalism ought to remember it. We're still the greatest -- most prosperous, most inventive, most productive -- country in the world.
So, the way we go insolvent is to artifically truncate our ability to meet current obligations -- not raise the debt limit as needed. Hell, establishing a debt limit is an artificial construct. It doesn't control anything. So, what happens if we aren't able to meet current obligations? What happens if we default?
Well, things change. The world will become nervous about our stability and our reasonableness. There are concerns in Russia that Vladamir Putin is their version of Robert Mugabe. Since we are a Democratic Republic as opposed to a kleptocratic autocracy, our version of Mugabe will be John Boehner and Mitch McConnell reinforced by Rand Paul and ilk doing their Facism as 100% Americanism Fan Dance. Irrationality triumphs because they don't understand their own goddamned ideology, economic theory or how to act in the best interests of the country, or since they purport to believe in this stuff, their immortal souls...
Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal
fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For
I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was
thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and
you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me
no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not
care for me.
Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one
of these least ones, you did not do for me. And
these will go off to eternal punishment, but the
righteous to eternal life.
(Mt. 26: 41-43; 45-46)
Obama is not much help here. He's been so busy triangulating the Republican position, the Progressive Democratic position and the public opinion that he can't do anything. He's done a lot of good things, but no great things because he lacks the willingness to be as dynamic a communicator with the bully pulpit of the presidency as he was in pursuit of it. While Madeline Albright's point was perhaps off, when she questioned why we needed the greatest military in the world if we were never going to use it she asked a question that someone ought to ask Barrack Obama...why exactly did you want to be president anyway? To slow the descent of the Republic into something worse? Or, to continue to make the country great...
When I was in college, we had dances on campus. These "mixers" were really mating rituals, where the various Catholic Girl's Schools sent busloads to Catholic West Point to see and be seen by the next generation of the rising Catholic middle class. We had beer, and there was music. Some of it was actually very good music -- a little known Boston band called JAY GEILS and HIS Rhythm Kings featuring Petey Wolfe or somebody like that I recall doing covers of various R&B stuff.
The problem,as pointed out in Harry Potter and the Goblin of Fire is that girl's tend to travel to these things in herds while the men travelled in packs. Some male had to brave the herd, some member of the herd had to agree to brave the man and the process might start. The way this was done was with the question, "Would you like to dance?" Most of the time, the answer was yes. However, the fear of rejection was great...unfortunately, we were a bunch of drunken egocentric assholes in those days. (Based on my samples of our class population and my own experience, we still largely are egocentric assholes, of course who drink less.) And, what do you do when you risk everything and the answer is no?
Well, one of my buddies had a way of either overcomming the resistance at best and at worst getting some of his own back. (We Irish are great at that. Starve us into economic slavery and disaspora, and we'll sing three choruses of The Wild Colonial Boy and burn down a pub. By good, showed the bastards...) When rejected, Franny would say " You don't want to dance? Then why'd ya come here?"
The "constitutional option" on the debt is something the Prez doesn't want to talk about which is insane. The 14th Amendment is very clear on this -- we're not in 2nd Amendment territory here, we're dealing with the fact of government and the requirements of governing...
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. (AXE emphasis) But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
So, while I dislike admitting it if only on aesthetic grounds, Mitch McConnell actually has a pretty good idea. I'd like there to be a more blanket approach, where this becomes what it is, a business practice, maintaining liquidity and solvency. As for the phrase "authorized by law" the debt becomes authorized when the Congress passes an appropriation bill and the President signs it. If Congress doesn't want to incur any more debt, they should just go the hell home...if there are no more appropriations, then there will be no new debt, just the continuing cost of governing at the current level. ) Of course, same question -- if you don't want to dance, why'd ya come?
Now, since I regard the Republican Leadership in Congress as a wholly owned subsidiary of our insect-alien overlords (GE, the Koch Brothers, Pfizer, Merck, Boeing, JP Morgan-Chase, BOA, Goldman Sachs, the Vatican, the Templars, the Illuminati), I keep waiting for the adult leadership to recognize that their minions are about to drive their economic interests off the cliff...the problem that I see is that they're so intellectually inbred of such bad genetic stock (Ron Paul is a harmless old coot/Cult Figure in Congress; Rand Paul is one of 100 with the power to delay if not stop just about anything...) that their hearing is not acute enough to hear the dog whistle. McConnell and Boehner are old stock and can still hear their Masters' voices, but the Tea Party and the Randians and Rick-Bachman-Pawlenty-Overdrive and the rest are deaf to reason, national interest and enlightened self interest. Since the Democrats are only partially owned by the same interests, well, they can still hear. They snap back about some stuff, but they aren't idiots. The Tea Party/Boehner-McConnell Republicans appear to be lemmings; most of the Democrats appear to be sheep. And, the Shepard appears to be interested in playing basketball as opposed to doing what he went into the field for.
Next Time, why Taxes are a good thing and why the Stimulus didn't work better than it did.
Really? Unprecedented? Let's see...Well, there is Somalia. Iraq a few years ago. And the 30 Years War in Germany (Austria, Bohemia, et. al.); the period leading up to the Fall of the Roman Empire and immediately afterwards. Lots of stuff in Asia, and in Africa. However, Mexico is possibly leading some category for "Bloodiest goddamn clusterfuck in the Western Hemisphere..." except for places like Detroit of course. In 2006, Detroit had a far higher rate per 100K in population than Mexico. On the other hand, Mexico has a lot more people, far poorer reporting and -- oh yeah --most of the violence clustered along the border and just south. Still, supposedly, they're only number 6 on the murder charts worldwide...of course, that includes places like South Africa which has been suffering from a crime and homicide rate that makes Detroit look like Vatican City. Which has a pretty high white collar crime rate, I suspect...
"I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams,
To set my brother Clarence and the king
In deadly hate the one against the other."--Richard III
The governor of Alabama denies the universal brotherhood of mankind. I have tried not to get too weird lately, but this one is pretty much out there. If you're not a Christian but a Jew, a Buddhist, a Zororastarian, an Atheist, a Deiist, an Agnostic or a Tiffanyist and you are a resident of Alabama, the governor denies you. He'd like to be your brother, but he just can't...I'm actually thinking it's even more restrictive -- you probably have to be a born again Christian. Roman and Orthodox Catholics, Episcopalians, Anglicans, Lutherans and Quakers need not apply for his love; it really makes you wonder. One guy hallucinates various founding fathers; one guy wanders around the house babbling inane crap; one guy shoots signs and threatens people; this guy is stating that he feels that non-Christians are lesser creatures in spirit. Is it necessary to handle snakes or speak in tongures? What the hell is wrong with the public life in these places that nutcases get elected and then are free to babble this nonsense?
I like Alabama; I like the south. I like a lot of people. I suppose that if I were to sit next to the governor of Alabama on a plane, I'd find him polite and courtly. That said, doesn't this set up a religious test? If Muslim is convicted of a capital offense in Alabama, can he expect a fair hearing by the governor? Who denies his basic humanity...