Sunday, January 11, 2009

A must see article

Yowch -- (and echoing some of my recent "Economic Suggestions" -- here is an absolute essential.

Eight Years of Madoffs: How American taxpayers lost $50 billion: "our collective contribution to the $117 billion spent (as of mid-2008) on Iraq reconstruction -- a sinkhole of corruption, cronyism, incompetence and outright theft that epitomized Bush management at home and abroad."

in the New York Times


David Brin said...

See also Russ Daggatt's latest blog... and a poem below. And here's hoping for us all...


Sometimes things don't go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes step back from war;
elect an honest man; decide they care
enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen: may it happen to you

~ Sheenagh Pugh ~

(In Good Poems, ed. by Garrison Keillor,
contributed by Holly Thomas)

Anonymous said...

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

Langston Hughes, Public Domain

Anonymous said...

Another article to see: January 2009 Discover magazine, the Robert Proctor interview (p. 12). He's written a book on agnotology, the study of the politics of ignorance.

Anonymous said...

The U.S. army is now deploying teraherz microwave pain rays, first in Iraq, and soon in America for "crowd control."

At the same time, the U.S. army has been deployed in America for "crowd control" as of 1 October 2008 for the first time since the draft riots in New York during the Civil War.

Meanwhile, the American military has set up checkpoints on civilian highways in the continental United States, stopping civilians without a court order and in violation of the posse comitatus act, for the first time in American history.

Non-violent protestors from the Republican National Convention last year now languish in federal prison, awaiting trial as "terrorists." No one has released these non-violent political protestors, no one has dropped the charges against them, no one has apologized. Preparations for their trial continue, and the gallows to hang them are being built as we speak.

Now the head of the Air Force has proposed testing the new pain rays on "unruly American protesters". And in the final descent into madness, police are lobbying for handheld versions of the pain rays to use indscriminate on people in the streets -- these are the same police who have been using tasers on 6-year-old children.

All those pretty poems you guys have been posting sure sound delightful. How delightful do you think the poetry will sound when the police start torturing innocent bystanders to death on the streets in a futile effort to get them to confess to crimes they didn't commit?

America is a nation where the use of tasers on 6-year-olds has been ruled "appropriate and legal force" by you really think anyone will stop some thug cop from yanking you out of a car at a sobriety checkpoint, pulling down your pants, and blasting you with a microwave pain ray that makes you feel like your skin is on fire until you scream like a wild animal while he shouts "Where'd you hide the dope? I know you've got some in the car, college boy, WHERE IS IT?"

America has descended into a maelstrom of such wild lunacy that no words exist in the English language to adequately describe it. We are now headed straight into the 9th circle of Dante's Inferno at warp speed, and no one is lifting a finger.

So here's a little poem by William Butler Yeats that seems more apt than the touchy feely oh-so-fun verses above:



Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

David Brin said...

Anonymous, you go straight to heck.

You don't even deserve hell. You are an insipid jerk who thinks only your concerns matter and topics have to be raised when YOU want them raised.

You got a thing against people liking POETRY?

You are a textbook example of:

We may be very roughly and generally on the "same side" and concerned about some of the same things. But you are proof that insanity infests the left, too.

I guess we do know who you are. Go away again.

Anonymous said...

Telling someone to go to hell generally fails as convincing rebuttal.

Change you can believe in?

Well...the outlook for the near future seems mixed. On the one hand, the culture war appears to be going away. Not only has hatemonger Ann Coulter started to get a chilly reception in the major media, far-right radio personality Michael Medved has penned a column claiming that hate radio is killing the GOP. So good news on the cuture war front.

However, the militarization of America and destruction of the constitution involved in the "war on drugs" and the indiscriminate use of tasers and SWAT teams and, soon, pain rays, seems to occur below the level of federal regulation. These massive violations of civil rights and the bill of rights result from a general change in attitude in American society. This attitude hange shows up in the popularity of loathsome TV shows like Fox Network's 24, which glorifies torture, as well as the huge boom in "torture porn" slasher films like Saw, Hostel, Boxing Helena, etc.

How does Obama legislate a change in American attitudes? How does a Democratic congress pass laws to force the average American to dislike torture-porn slasher films?

At the same time, the American economy faces severe strutural problems. Outsourcing now hips all the high-wage American white collar jobs offshore as fast as companies like Accenture can get rid of them. This isn't a matter of evil corporate bosses, unfortunately, it's a matter of survival for the companies that outsource their high-wage jobs overseas. If they don't, their competitors will, and will uncut them on costs and drive them out of business.

The recent failure of TARP and the so-far unsuccessful economic stimulus plan suggests that pouring stimulus money into American corporations is a lot like pumping water out of a rowboat with a three-foot-wide hole cut in the hull. All the stimulus money in the world won't create high-wage middle class jobs in America as long as it makes more economic sense to outsource those jobs overseas to Chinese or Indian PhDs who will eagerly work for $5 an hour. So how do we fix this problem?

I don't know. But right now it looks as though Keynesian economics is getting short-circuited by the internet. As long American companies find it more profitable to outsource their high-wage jobs, how can the American economy recover?

Clearly many things will improve under Obama. He's already pledged to shut down the Guantanmo torture chambers, he's appointed a sane net neutrality advocate to head the FCC, he has promised to restore accountability in government, and all these signs point to big improvements.

However, America's major problems remain undiscussed. We cannot continue to carry a 1.4 trillion dollar military-industrial establishment on top of a crumbling economy...yet Obama vows to increase American military presence in Afghanistan and ramp up the overall number of troops in the U.S. military. How can you do that while decreasing America's already out-of-control military spending?

Don't believe me -- believe the slew of ex-military brass who penned America's Defense Meltdown. These ex-military officers point out that the collapse of American military capabilities (paralleled by our exploding military spending) forms a nearly exact analogy to the degeneration and implosion of America's financial system. Both systems are rotten to the core, both are unsustainable, and both have produced nothing but lies, scams, and systemic failure.

How do we deal with this issue?

I don't know, other than by massively cutting "defense" (military adventurism) spending. But Obama isn't talking about that. He's talking about increasing expenditures and dumping more soldiers into unwinnable meatgrinder wars in third-world hellholes.

Poetry offers hope, and I like it fine. We need to concentrate on reality, though, and no one, absolutely no one is talking about hard realities like America's Defense Meltdown and the way massive ongoing outsourcing is making it impossible to pull the American economy out of this slump.

As for Peak Oil and global warming, congress needs to act on those issues, so we need to wait and see. Right now, though, the immediate outlook on these other concerns seems grim, because no one in the major media or in congress or in the executive branch seems to be talking about them at all, and you can't solve a problem as long as you ignore it.

Cliff said...

Israel appears to be using white phosphorous in Gaza.

Go Israel. That'll teach the Palestinians to want adequate nutrition for their children (link from 2006, but obviously if things had gotten better since then we wouldn't be seeing the conflict).

I mean, who do they think they are, wanting some land that won't get taken over by fundamentalist settlers?

I mean, obviously Israel has to do whatever it takes to resolve this.

Anonymous said...

Well, Cliff, the United States Army has admitted to using white phosphorus artillery rounds in Faluja 4 years ago. Birds of a feather, as they say...

But David Brin and many other insightful folks make a good point when they remind us that we still languish in the waning days of (arguably) the most criminal presidency in American history. Quite a few middle east observers note that Israel probably launched this assault timed with the end of that criminal administration because the Israelis know damn well Obama's administration won't stand for this kind of thing. So there's every reason to expect that Israel's horrible depredations (against, admittedly, equally horrible terrorist thugs who did things like suicide-bomb Israeli women and children in Israeli pizza parlors) will end smack on the dot come 20 January 2009.

One of the reasons David Brin remains so admirable is that he keeps reminding us not to despair. Like everyone else who's lived through the past 8 nightmarish years, I find it too easy to forget that good advice. Truth to tell, all Americans are now like battered wives who've been beaten and brutalized for 8 long years and today suffer from PTSD.

Ilithi Dragon said...

On the whole 'pain ray' thing, I have to ask, [i]what is so bad about the military and police developing [b]non-lethal weapons[/b]????[/i] Would you rather they shoot the rioters with guns? Tear gas and knock-out gas can cause breathing problems, alergic reactions, and can be deadly in enclosed spaces. The bean-bag shotguns can cause severe bruising and leisions, and can still potentially be lethal, especially at close range.

As for cops yanking you out of your car at a checkpoint and torturing you, what's to stop them from doing that with tasers or mace right now? And even if it did happen, hop on YouTube and type in "BART police shooting" to see what would happen if they did. Every college and highschool kid and every third adult at the checkpoint and waiting in the traffic line would whip out their cellphones and start recording. The first videos would be on YouTube before you can say "Media Blitz."

Also, speaking of the BART incident, it appears at this point that the shooting was accidental, that the officer hadn't intended to use his side-arm for more than just intimidation. Had he been equipped with a 'pain ray', he would have had a non-lethal option to use for intimidation, and there might be one less fatherless child in the world today. And if the officer INTENDED to use lethal force, the possesion of such a non-lethal alternative would be all the more damning in court.

Also, you should read the update on that article you linked to, about the Secretary of the Air Force advocating the usage of 'pain rays' - the author admits in his update that he misread the CNN article, and that re-reading the article and examining other facts indicates that the SotAF's statements were misinterpreted by the AP.

As for the 'non-violent protestors', the very article you linked to, Anon, identified the people arrested as inciting violent activity, including the smashing of windows and starting of at least one fire. Even if they didn't actually participate in the vandalism, inciting it is still a crime. And gallows? They're facing UP TO 7.5 years in prison, not excecution.

Also, so some Marine Corps. MPs tagging along on a local law enforcement DUI checkpoint, for training and educational purposes, in ONE INSTANCE, is proof of the intent of a military coup or something? From the sounds of the article, and knowing how people react, it looks like all these people are guilty of is not following all the paperwork procedures. Unless this is more wide-spread than just this one instance, or there are facts that the article does not state or misrepresents (which would make it a poor article to link to, btw), I don't see anything wrong with MPs going on one ride-along to see how career cops do the job.

As for the active army units being assigned as a dedicated Federal response force... I can certainly see how that would raise concerns, but it sounds to me more like they are being assigned as an on-call force for disaster relief, providing support to law enforcement in times of great emergency, disaster, or general catastrophy, much like the National Guard does already (though as Dr. Brin has pointed out, the National Guard's capacity to do so has been greatly diminished by the wars in the middle east). How is an active army brigade providing support for law enforcement (including disaster relief, crowd control, etc.) any different than the National Guard army units doing the same thing?

sociotard said...

To Zorgon:

Step one is to appologize to Brin for the comments that offended him (I never got a chance to see them, so I don't know what they are). If you are sufficiently penitent I'm sure he'll let you back.

Step two is to change your handle to caZandra. It fits you.

Cliff said...

One of the reasons David Brin remains so admirable is that he keeps reminding us not to despair.

Man, you really got a love/hate relationship going with this blog, don't you?

And I'd like to add that even though Hamas has pulled a lot of awful shit, it's still not ok to drop white phosphorous on Palestine children.
I say that because there seems to be a kneejerk reaction in this country, where every time something bad is said about Israel, people immediately respond with "but Hamas suicide bombs!"

That doesn't mean I have to be happy with Israel's invasion, and I don't have to be happy with American support for it.

Adelante4 said...

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Garden & Patio

Anonymous said... is taking ideas for Obama.

David Brin said...

Guy's don't encourage him. The tragedy is that when indignation junkies are bright and even 50% right, that makes it HARDER for them to notice how crazy the self-secreted, self-doped drug high makes them sound and how devastatingly self-defeating the pattern is. It winds up making disgusted people drive them away, despite that 50%.

HEnce, they gravitate toward their own kind. Nuremberg rallies of the indignant. Which he is welcome to do, since he is not welcome here among grownups.

Still, Ilithi, thanks for trying to address the issues he raised. They are good ones, just not worth putting up with a certified, PhD level putz.

My "Suggestions" are up at

I'm still tweaking a final (multipage) version with webmaster Beverly. But meanwhile, anyone care to help post them, topic by topic - at the site?

Could really use the help.

All best and counting the days...

Rik said...

Long enough have you dreamed contemptible dreams,
Now I wash the gum from your eyes,
You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life

Long have you timidly waded, holding a plank by the shore,
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sae, and rise again and nod to me and shout

Walt Whitman

- - -

Anonymous: the US is in deflation. Another expert on the Depression, besides Bernanke & Keynes, is Fisher. According to Fisher, Depressions happen: 1) over-indebtedness, 2) deflation of that debt. I think bursting of the debt-bubble is well underway. The nastiness occurs, btw, imo, not on the side of the debtor, but on the creditor's part.

Hope is to propose a monetary / financial system that allows the world to become richer. We should be moving on to a Type I civ, so we can use all the energysources of the planet. Sustainable. We are at present, at best, 0.75. To get there the world needs to become richer. (right now, three-quarters can not afford sustainability). But with the system we have, it ain't gonna happen. So new wouldn't just be hope, but truly visionary.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David Brin said...

I have had a relatively wide-open policy here. But I will henceforth delete any comments that I suspect have been made by that grade-A sh*thead.

I don't give a damn, anymore, if some of the points he raises are interesting.

I take back any "prodigal son" remarks. Let the mark of cain be on such assholes, right or left. For being so rude, that they'd never have survived in any tribe of old, or western town.

We have lost something, in forgetting that.