Friday, October 29, 2010

the steel

Mr Oxtrot, that's a mighty firm grasp of the obvious you're displaying!

The purpose of "Homeland Security" and a focus on terrorism is to create a national landscape where every American suspects every other American of being his enemy.

In other words, to make everyone feel a constant background of fear.

This feeds into the Us vs Them tribalist nature of Donkey vs Elephant.  If there's domestic terrorism threatening the very fabric of American society, then it's really important to be on the right side of things.  Especially when the wrong side is a bunch of treasonous people who will commit violence when their paranoia is ramped up by Homeland Security and the Infotainment Media's constant focus on bad people, good cops, noble government.

Stay plugged in and stay the victim.

Unplug and find your autonomy.

Your choice.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

this just in from Randall Lysander, Counsel for PRN

PRN Director of Research, the brilliant Suresh Prabhupada, has a new book in progress. Surrey's upcoming book is focusing on the Tea Party phenomenon.  Surrey posits that the Tea Party doesn't exist, that the supposed members are actually stooges paid, like "extras" are paid in the making of movies, for their mere appearance at a location where a "rally" or "protest" is happening.  Thus, Surrey says, the entire Tea Party phenomenon is a charade.  Surrey then argues that Progressives should feel bold and powerful in the face of this realization, and should push the Democrats to create more Progressive government programs.  One novel proposition is creation of a Department of Technological Solutions, which will be focused on coping with the end of petroleum, which Jim Carville has projected to occur some time around 2200 A.D.  Surrey thinks that if given about 210 years to work on the problem, the DTS will find at least one solution that will allow The Greatest Nation on Earth to move into a post-petroleum era in its eternal history.

The title of Surrey's new book is Bagging: Is it Lies, or is it Meme Wrecks? and it will be published by Porsupuesta Bros., Publishers in January 2011.

Congratulations, Surrey!

what the...?

To my DC-dwelling blog cohort I request:

I've been gone from DC for a long time.  Please explain Adrian Fenty to me. 

I have many friends who went to Gonzaga, and through them I understand the Martin O'Malley gig.  But Fenty, I'm not getting.  Someone enlighten me, please.

I'll share my hypothesis:  he's likely explained by many of the socio-political things that explain Obama.  What I'm not getting is how DC natives -- not the elites of Chevy Chase, but the folks who live near Gonzaga -- voted for such a slick corporate yuppie who had no experience whatever.  I'm used to Marion Barry's legacy.

No, I haven't read Sam Smith's thoughts.  And I should.

the third man**

**apologies to Orson Welles, etc.


Occasionally, Oxtrot will talk about himself in the third person.  He does this because of existential dislocation, not because he is smug or megalomaniacal.

This fine morning, famed Internet Polymath, owen paine, stopped by The House of Oxtrot to pee on a fire hydrant.FN Within his comment was a remark about "projection," and an implication that projection is both foul and stupid.

Apparently Polly Math doesn't realize that projection is a fundamental component of interpersonal relations. It is empathy's cousin -- it has a relationship to empathy much like Patty Duke had with her mirror image cousin on The Patty Duke Show.

And beyond the misplaced condescension toward projection, there was a bit of appeal to authority. Ms. Math suggests that Oxtrot should revere the expertise of those with whom he disagrees. Ms. Math does not understand Oxtrot very well, if that is the point of talking negatively on projection.

Oxtrot does not care one whit about another's expertise. What Oxtrot cares about is what is true. Credentials, titles, regal bestowments... all irrelevant in the world Oxtrot inhabits.

Naturally, this opens Oxtrot to criticisms which say he's not dealing with our world, where credentials are the coin of the realm -- and therefore, Oxtrot is deep within a psychotic break from actual life, spiraling out of control toward insanity.

Oxtrot doesn't mind. You can call him insane, unhinged, or the like. He's been called much worse by people much smarter than you.


_________________________

FN Yes, Oxtrot has fire hydrants placed throughout his house.  He believes in being prepared. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

a lesson for Leftists

Posted today at Club Orlov, an entry by guest-writer Sandy.  Excerpt:
“A specter is haunting Europe,” Karl Marx once wrote. He wrote these words on the eve of revolutionary outbreaks that began in Italy and France in 1848 and soon engulfed much of the Continent.

*   *   *

The specter Marx was referring to was Communism: his contention was that it would and should be the final stage in the dialectical movement of history to a civil but classless society. He was mistaken: the communist experiment failed.
Sandy explains why -- and explains it very well! Short version: Leftists think the centralized managerial, command-control, law-and-rule-bound approach is what works.

They're wrong.

And the origins of the mistake go back millennia, as Sandy explains.

Please go read it.

agreeing with Jack

Jack quoted BDR this AM, with approval.  I agree, but as usual, my nit-picking nature has a few points of, ummm, curiosity or query.  Jack quoted part of BDR's entry today, and I'm quoting a larger part:
The recent reappearance of Nader Zombie 2000 begs a question: Suppose Al Gore is president and gifted with 911, a once-in-a-generation chance to redesign paradigms: is there anybody reading this who isn't convinced Al Gore wouldn't have grasped and seized the same opportunities to expand the power of the executive that George Bush did, that Barack Obama does? The one paradigm Gore - and Vice President Joe Lieberman - would have spent the most bloody capital on rebranding is the meme that Democrats are national security pussies. Bloodily rebranded.

I don't know it would have worked - this is Crackerstan: Obama could be personally beheading Muslims on prime-time TV live from the Oval Office and he would still be called soft on terror - but it would have been tried. I'm a rube, whore, hypocrite, I cash corporate's check every-other Friday, bought this Dell laptop I'm writing this with on credit, yadda and etc, but I believe - apparently I need to believe - that I'd be as disgusted at Al Gore two years out from 911 as I am disgusted at Barack Obama two years after his election victory, but again, what if Al Gore was president on 911 - advised most closely, national security-wise, by Vice President Joe Lieberman - and did exactly what George Bush - advised by Senator Joe Lieberman - did, and it worked, Team Democrat won? It's entirely possible this country isn't farther to the right than it is because George Bush was president in 2001.
Now, with allowances for ideas being expanded and contracted in pursuit of humor or personal explanation, I have the following wonders:

* Joe Lieberman advising? Someone needs Joe Lieberman to advise him/her on something? Hey, if it's not Joe's own family, I'm not buying it. Joe Lieberman is no sage. At best, Joe Lieberman is a mask or beard, donned to achieve "it wasn't me" status. Lieberman is not expert on anything but sycophancy for his paymasters, and since everyone at the top levels of Fed power (POTUS Admin, SCOTUS, Congress) is very very obviously a sycophant for his or her paymasters, Lieberman brings no novel perspective to any policy bargaining table.

* The cross-party ubiquity of Lieberman is indeed worth noting. This above all other observations made by BDR is valuable. It's valuable because it shows, along with a lot of other people carried forward from Bush43 to Obama, that the only difference between Fed-located Repubs and Dems is the physical appearance and occasionally the manner of speech. And, perhaps, "personality."

* As Jack notes, BDR is on the money with what Gore would have done, but I can't pin that on Lieberman. I choose, instead, to pin it on Gore's demonstrated track record of corporate sycophancy and personal enrichment via that toadyism. For Peter's fucking sake, Gore is a scion of Occidental Petroleum, and his interests in that regard are nearly indistinguishable from those of Bush41, Bush43, or Le Dickster du Cheney. Moreover, Gore has always been a hawk, always eager to use militarism. He just does it from the Donkle perspective: the gang murder is twisted into a scheme for protecting the locals' civil rights.

* Similarly, Gore refused to do anything about the fraudulent 2000 election, and sat on his hands when the SCOTUS rendered its worst opinion since Dred Scott. As long as a pro-corporate hawk got into power, Gore wasn't upset. His actions (rather: inaction) tell us.

* Not sure I agree that Bush43 is the reason why Obama's Admin is so far to the right. That smells to me like latent partisanship, the old Donkey tattoo on the heart. I have no doubt that Barry O would have taken the same course regardless of his predecessor's party. Why? Again, look at Barry O's track record.

uh huh.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A dusty note... sure, Orin. whatever you say.

From 2008, predating Cass Sunstein saying that the Internet should be used to spy on Americans...

Orin Kerr speaking at Harvard Law:  Online Privacy is being abused, 4th Amendment should be ignored in the case of online disclosures.

Note Kerr's appeals to authority.

I discovered the above after stumbling across a cyber-bullying entry on the case of US vs Lori Drew, where I learned that Kerr represented the 47 year old woman Lori Drew, who impersonated a 16-year-old boy in order to work some psychological abuse against a 13-year-old girl named Megan Meier that had decided to stop being friends with a 13-year-old female classmate.

The classmate?  Drew's daughter.

To get "revenge," Drew created a false identity on MySpace, a 16-year-old boy, who pretended to take an interest in Megan Meier.  Meier later committed suicide, allegedly because of the abuse worked by Drew in the guise of a 16-year-old boy.

I would guess that in the minds of the morally equivocal "liberal" and "progressive" segment of America, Kerr's ability to flip-flop handily on this issue is supposed to show his cleverness.

I see it as slimy, myself.

The "revolutionary left's" problem with Anarchism

The Anarchist will have to be killed when the "impure" are purged from the populace in The Worker's Paradise.  That's what I'm thinking.

If I'm to judge the uptick in anti-Anarchist screeds over the past few months, I am left believing that many modern leftists seem angry that they can't win the Anarchist over to Marxist-Leninist Revolutionary Ideals.  Apparently the freedom enjoyed by Anarchists' refusal to play to an ideology is very frustrating to the leftist.

The leftist needs to categorize The Other.  Either you're an evil rightist who will be killed in the revolution, or you're a pseudo-leftist who will be purged post-revolution, or you're a Real Leftist who will be allowed to survive and live in The Worker's Paradise.

Would the Anarchist bend in the face of Revolution?  Become obeisant to The Right or to The Left, as a matter of survival?  You know, the old saw:  "there are no atheists in foxholes."  That thinking.  Does that control here?  Is the leftist afraid he cannot predict where the Anarchist will end up?

If leftists truly thought Anarchists were juvenile, a joke, dismissible... then why are so many leftists now engaged in attacking Anarchy and Anarchists? 

From where I sit, if you're not threatened by something, there's no need to worry about it.

working draft: Oxtrot's Wikipedia entry

The following is the working draft of Oxtrot's Wikipedia entry.  Since all such entries are editable by anyone who passes Wikipedia's rigorous substance-editor-approval review, I figured it would be more efficient to offer the draft now for review, to pre-edit, as it were.

*******************

Charles F. Oxtrot is an American writer, thinker, photographer, videographer and athlete. His work has appeared in print and in electronic form throughout the United States and elsewhere. Currently Oxtrot is working on several projects that will be released by Spring 2011.

Personal Life

Charles F. Oxtrot was born in June 1966 in Salem, Massachusetts to Rider Oxtrot and Daisy (Houndstooth) Oxtrot. Rider Oxtrot was in semaphores and semiotics; Daisy was in public relations. Oxtrot is the middle child born to Rider and Daisy; his older brother died young and his younger brother presently is a gumshoe engaged by faceless business entities operating in America.

Ethnicity

Oxtrot's forebears were pasty-white people from the United Kingdom, but not Scotland or Wales.  They grew tobacco and created governments.  A few of them owned slaves.  At all times since his birth, Oxtrot has been Caucasian.

Religion

Oxtrot, like his forebears, grew up in the Church of Rome.  Over time he converted first to agnosticism, then to atheism, then to FSMism.  Presently Oxtrot is engaged in creation of a new worldview and religion, which he believes will be available for public consumption in April 2011.

Education

Oxtrot attended various public and private schools between the ages of four and seventeen, and excelled in every subject except Coping with Puberty, which became the focus of Oxtrot's first major work, Diogenes and the Feral Dogs. Fractal House published that work for six years (1983-1989), but sadly it is now out of print.

For college, Oxtrot attended a handful of schools, changing his field of study as frequently as the weather changes at 7,000 feet on a May day in the northern Rocky Mountains. Fletcher Portent, a professor who taught Oxtrot organic chemistry at Blargmont Institute of Technology, called Oxtrot "the most restless intellect I have ever encountered in my 43 years of teaching at the college and university level. He could and would talk about anything, and find a way to relate it to organic chemistry. Often I felt he should have been teaching me, and not the other way around."1

Oxtrot's creative problem solving abilities were noted early in his life. At age 3, a family friend employed in work whose title and subject cannot be disclosed due to National Security Interests observed Oxtrot playing with the family's downstairs telephone and told Daisy, "this lad needs special education and he needs it now, Daisy. Put him in school at Darbyshire. Here's the number of the headmaster, Will Conner."2

At Darbyshire, the personalized teaching approach allowed Oxtrot to thrive. Being in the presence of other children whose minds did not unbuckle and grow sloppy at the thought of entertaining a doubt was crucial to Oxtrot's social development.  He made friends as well as enemies at Darbyshire, but all of them disowned him when he entered public school in 7th grade.

Darbyshire introduced Oxtrot to the game of soccer, which he began playing competitively at age eight. His first coaches told Daisy that Oxtrot was naturally gifted in soccer and they urged Daisy to keep him involved in competitive soccer. Oxtrot would continue to play soccer throughout his schooling years, although some years he skipped soccer in favor of other sports.

As a youngster, Oxtrot also was introduced to lacrosse by a family friend who was from Baltimore. He learned how to cradle, pass and shoot at age 7. Those skills lay stagnant until Oxtrot's final college placement at William Hill College, where he played lacrosse for 4 years.

After William Hill, Oxtrot worked for a year while pondering his life's next steps.  Several friends of the family suggested that Oxtrot should study archaeology, which Oxtrot agreed to do.  The next fall he entered Josephus - Pasternak University as a PhD student focused on reading and interpreting papyral documents and their metaphysical implications.  Oxtrot continued playing lacrosse at JPU, and joined other student societies dedicated to intellectual and spiritual pursuits.

Work History

Pre-Collegiate


As a young entrepreneur, Oxtrot walked his neighborhood pushing his lawn mower in one hand, holding a gas can in another, trimmers in one pocket, trash bags in another, asking for opportunities to cut people's lawns.  Just as the business grew to the point of needing to hire others, Oxtrot quit to try something new. 

He worked in a print shop at age 16, for the first time experiencing the joys of commuting to work by car.  This affected his outlook on how far one should live from where one works. 

He spent nearly a year working at a labor studies center, as kitchen help.  This was the first time Oxtrot was fired from a job, and it was also the first time he was fired for no cause.  It also was his first encounter with organized labor, and the difference between what it pretends to be about, and what it really is about. 

The whimsical, strange, Charles Nelson Reilly-esque manager of the center's kitchen was famous for hiring male high school students and recent high school graduates, and then firing them for no cause at some point between six months and a year of employment.  This made it an easy place to get a job, but also a hard place to keep a job.  In any case, Oxtrot learned basic kitchen fundamentals regarding food preparation and the joy of busing tables and washing dishes, and the distinct pleasure of having a boss who looked at him like a flesh toy.  Oxtrot didn't mind losing this job, not even losing it for no cause.  There were plenty of good lessons in the experience.

From there, Oxtrot worked at a full-serve gas station and at a ski shop, while somehow getting out of high school with a diploma and only a couple points on his driver's license. 


Post-Collegiate


At all times since finishing his formal education, Oxtrot has been employed in groundbreaking work, whether in archaeology, chemistry, or retail sales.

Creative Drive

Oxtrot's creative drive is well-known among his fellow writer-thinker-photographer-videographer-athletes.  Spandex Portnoi, who specializes in writing about athletic videography, says Oxtrot's worldview, as expressed in his work, "is the most unique thing available -- it really is... I feel emasculated when I read or see his work."3



Computer and Console Gaming

Oxtrot is a member of the Dark Elf race, his class is Spellsword, and he is affiliated with the Mages Guild, the Fighters Guild, and the Thieves Guild.

He began his career as an initiate with the merchant princes of House Hlaalu, but in a moment of dire poverty he was forced to steal from a fellow Hlaalu clansman.  This caused his expulsion from the merchant prince tribe, but he shed no tears and laughed at their tribal insecurities.

Through steady work he rose to Level 13, preferring light armor and the long blade over stealth and a poisoned dagger.  Sometimes he delivered mortal wounds from a distance, sniper-style, with a longbow.

At Level 13 Oxtrot was nominated for a position with the Morag Tong, the assassins' guild.  He rose quickly within its ranks.




...to be continued
____________________________

FOOTNOTES

1 - Conversation with Fletcher Portent, PhD, ASC, July 7 2010.

2 - Conversation with Daisy Blenheim Houndstooth Oxtrot, August 23 2008.

3 - Conversation with Spandex Portnoi, September 18, 2010.

putting the "non-" in "non-sequitur"

1) Anyone else catch Craig Ferguson trying to make Condi Rice seem like a real person?

2) Last night was the first time I ever watched Jimmy Fallon. What the fuck is wrong with that dude? He looks like Jimmy Smits' little brother; he fidgets like a tweaker needing a new piece of crystal; and his routine reminds me of pandering to the "humor" of the stupidest and most self-absorbed people in a high school or college campus (cheerleaders, football jocks, and boosters).

3) Jimmy Kimmel is even more low-brow than Jimmy Fallon. And I thought that nearly impossible.

4) For the 234th time, I am forced to observe: cop shows on TV are designed to make people respect, admire and worship the Po-Po. Even the "reality" show called "COPS" never shows piggies abusing people. How they manage to follow and ride-along with the most humane 0.003% of Po-Po is a great mystery to me.

5) Jim Kunstler's lack of real substance in the last 2 months of his Clusterfuck Nation monday-morning-rants is attributable to his latent partisanship and his genuine fear of Civil War.   During the several months prior (starting about 6 mos ago, I mean) he was on a tear, feeling courageous about criticizing Obama and the Democrats.  But now he's taken a turn onto the Road to Dipshittery, focusing his attention on Tea Party theatrics and believing that ignorant Christers are going to break into his home and feed his cat something that isn't organic.  He's doing this because his bets were on Obama and the Donkle reforming society after Evil Rethuglican reign.  He can't handle the truth about Obama and the Donkle, so he chooses to focus on the evils of The Other Team.  I should be clear: I like Kunstler's curmudgeonly view when he's seeing things clearly.  But when he's busy being terrified by non-threats and then turning to a bowdlerization of what the Donkle are doing or will do, that's when things get yawnish.

6) About 7 years ago I got into playing the game Morrowind on the XBox.  Later I got an XBox 360 and played Oblivion.  Then my 360 died.  I'm guessing it needs a revitalization of the thermal paste between the processor and cooler, and I've got the time and tools and materials to do that little fix instead of paying Gatesville $100 to repair it "under warranty," but I'm too apathetic to be bothered.  It's probably the chance of bloody knuckles while dissembling or assembling the 360 chassis for repair that I'm avoiding, or maybe it's just rank laziness.  In any case I recently got my typical fall wet season itch to ramp up my video game playing (to make up for lost cycling time and the not-yet-begun ski season) so I bought the PC version of Morrowind.  As a result I have been up until 2am or later several nights recently, lost in the artificial world created by those guys on Piccard Drive in Rockville.  Which makes me think that my path in life was ordered improperly.  Had I any holistic curiosity about that shapeless thing called "business" when I graduated high school, I probably would have noted that computers and computer games would be a fine place to direct my talents.  I have the personality for coding -- I hate people, I hate social interaction, and I can get into an attention-focus groove that lets me work for hours on end, almost obsessively, on a problem.  I have a natural talent for mathematics too, my mind works that way.  And I like super-casual workplaces, meaning where I can go into work in a t-shirt and shorts, unshaven for the past 8 days, unshowered/unbathed for the past 3.  Working for a video game software company seems ideal.  So why did I get an undergrad degree in biology and a grad degree in Pharisee Studies?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Distraction following the guise of investigation


Translation of the entry:

"Here's why Democrats always move right after sounding left -- Paul Wellstone is dead!"

more annoying than a cloud of gnats

One of the most cringe-making annoyances to modestly intelligent people like myself is armchair athletes and their analogs in the intellectual realms.

There's plenty of evidence of these folks everywhere.  You can spot them by their elevation of book-recited notions even when the notions aren't supported by actual human behavior. 

In fact, the glaring evidentiary item demonstrating armchair quarterbacking is talking about a game that you've never played, but have watched and studied as if it were your own pet or child.  The armchair quarterback nurtures the synthetic representation of the thing, gives it room to grow, to thrive in the stick-built hothouse of extrapolation by third-hand-imitative-mimickry.  The sad thing is, the mimickry takes place strictly in the armchair quarterback's mind.  He's never thrown a ball in a game.  He's never caught a pass in a game.  Never taken a shot on goal. 

See, he's a student of the game -- a serious student -- while never playing for a moment.  Never playing.

Sometimes the armchair QB is overt:  he engages in Fantasy Football Leagues with friends and/or co-workers. 

Sometimes he is covert:  he talks about reforming American socioeconomic problems from the perspective of someone who doesn't know the problems first-hand -- not from the sufferer's perspective, not from the problem-imposers' perspective.  He knows only the vague mental construct of the problems, only can imagine them.  His "solutions" to the problem are equally removed.

However, he thinks himself a master strategist -- a Tom Landry directing America's Team to victory.

In all truth, he's the poindexter nobody liked in jr high and high school, forever getting the "KICK ME!" sign taped to his back with a jolly "Good man, Poindexter!" slap.  And he's still smarting over that repeated theme of humiliation, so he's fighting back with all his weaponry:  retreat into fantasy world, where he is Emperor of All Ideas.

Never mind his new suit's transparency.  He feels regal.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ann spills some Bongwater

Another angle on the hidden actor in the financial sector

Over at Bikercast Episode #41, jad has an interesting entry that contains a footnote which reads as follows:
1
As predicted, insurance companies are simply leaving markets where regulation would endanger profits. Recently (09/23/2010) the inability to refuse children with pre-existing conditions provision of the HCR bill kicked in, and Blue Cross and Aetna simply stopped offering child-insurance. Pretty predictable really. Oh, and all the rest of it, I’m willing to wager, is similarly filled with loopholes and escape hatches–except the part where everyone is forced to buy insurance
I had nits to pick with the main entry and was going to comment on those nits until I saw the footnote, which I hadn't read when it popped up initially in the main entry. So I left the following comment in response to the footnote:
I don’t think note 1 is written from a perspective that understands insurance companies very well. There isn’t a single market in America where they cannot profit mightily. Public moves like “we’re leaving your state because your regulations hurt our business” are just political gamesmanship to an insurance company. They are not a reflection of long-term shifts in insurance company business.

Insurers work on a much longer-term schedule than politicians and the average American. They have to. The nature of their business is predicting the future about the risks they accept. The ones engaged in health and life insurance coverage look furthest into the future.

In a past life I was an insurance regulatory attorney. It’s a very tiny niche of law practice. Every regulatory lawyer around the USA who is halfway competent in the area of law knows every other one, at least indirectly.

In that role I served one of the USA’s largest insurers on multi-state surveys of laws and regulations for lines of insurance and products/niches within those lines, for the purpose of assessing whether an insurer wishes to write business in any given state where it’s presently not doing so. The point of these surveys was to compare regulatory climates in the 50 states.

Insurers use the regulatory approach of any given state as a baseline from which to price their business in that state. If a state’s regulatory climate is harsh, the insurer works behind the scenes with regulatory staff to get favorable treatment, and sometimes also engages in lobbying. If necessary the lobbying extends to making public statements about threatening to leave a state’s market, or being hesitant about entering a state’s market, due to the state’s “harsh regulatory climate, which is bad for business.”

But any insurer knows how to price coverage in order to make a buck. It’s not hard.
Other details not mentioned in the comment:

* Insurers seek rate changes when they're feeling pinched, or feeling the need to pinch the regulator(s). Getting approval for a rate hike sometimes is as easy as buying a dozen donuts for the regulator who approves rate change requests. Other times it takes a few meetings where the regulatory lawyer grovels and complains of the company's hardship in holding to those antiquated, underpriced rating formulas.

* In most of the United States, an insurer's presence in the state economy is considered a good thing. It's not too hard for an insurer to get admitted to do business in a state. This is another thing I used to do as a regulatory attorney: get companies admitted to do business in various states. It's largely a hoop-jumping exercise. A company has to be pretty fucking shady to not get admitted. But a company like Allstate, GEICO, Kaiser Permanente or Blue Cross/Blue Shield would get admitted wherever it wanted. And I mean wherever. The worst thing the insurer may have to do is whittle its marketing efforts for that state. That's where the insurer's biggest costs are: marketing. Not claims payment. Marketing.

* One of the main things that will cause an insurer to not want to do business in a state is that the state's market of risk in the line or niche of business is too costly. For example, a company may not want to underwrite small business package coverage in a state where 99% of small businesses fail within 3 years. Knowing that before the company cranks up its underwriting information gathering can help the company save a lot of money spent investigating the risks, marketing to the risks, and then writing coverage in such small, failing chunks. Better to avoid the market entirely.

* Another main reason insurers won't do business in a state:  unfavorable litigation results.  A company won't want to do business in a state where the judiciary is decidedly anti-insurance-company when opining on coverage questions, or bad faith questions.  Luckily for insurers, most of the states have judiciaries that love insurance companies.FN  However, jury verdicts can be a much different story.  Certain of the states have reputations as plaintiff-friendly when the dispute involves a person vs an insurance company.  In these states, some insurers will be very reluctant to write much coverage of risks that give rise to personal injury litigation, especially when the jury verdicts are abnormally large, and/or unpredictable in their proportion to the injuries suffered.FN2

The point in my comment at jad's was to say the regulatory environment is not something that prevents an insurer from profiting mightily in any given state.  Rather, it's the risk pool -- the risks themselves are too costly or too frequent, or the jury verdicts are too frequently anti-insurer and very generous.  The regulatory environment is survived easily with a good regulatory attorney or two.  That's what I used to do.  And it was always surprising to me how little effort it took to get favorable regulatory treatment, even when the regulators were yelling and screaming.  Even when a deputy Attorney General had his or her nose under the tent, threatening "formal action" or suchlike, it was easy.  Easy-- as long as one knew how to work the game

I think most Americans do not realize how critical a role the insurance sector plays in the American economy, and I think they fail to realize how much power insurers wield over state governments. Most likely this is because most Americans have no reason to know or inquire into what insurance companies do, other than "provide coverage" after receiving your premium dollars.

__________________

FN - In recent years, Montana was one state that had a reputation for hating insurers, thanks largely to the influence of former Montana Supreme Court Justice Terry Trieweiler, who was on the Court from 1991-2003.

FN2 - This oversimplifies things greatly, to be honest. Insurers are involved in litigation constantly, because Americans are so fucking litigious. We litigate everything. One of the reasons people buy insurance is to have someone to pay for the lawyers to defend them when they get blamed for something. There is a huge chunk of white-collar lawyering on the pro-corporate, pro-business trip under the heading of insurance defense. In these cases, on an insurer's dime you step in and defend the person or business insured. I did a fair amount of this kind of work as well when I used to be an oarsman on the good ship law firm. I was in the insurance corporate/regulatory galley, as well as the insurance defense galley. So what I'm saying is, the mere existence of lots of litigation isn't what the insurer fears. It's the point where it seems excessive compared to the average hyper-litigious character of most American states or counties or whatever.  If you ever want to read a scathing critique of how ridiculously litigious Americans are, and how perverse is the American system of "justice," read A Frolic of His Own, by William Gaddis.  And note the opening line, please.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Plantation needs two kinds of slaves

As Malcolm X said: the house negro, and the field negro. A good example of the field negro would be the man or woman who signs up for the military to gain economic advantage, despite having to give up individuality and freedom to think outside the military mold.

A good example of the house negro would be Barack Obama, Clarence Thomas, Condi Rice, or Juan Williams.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mike's latest

The latest from Mike Flugennock.


Mike's got some explanation behind each of the 4 panels as well. Go here.

Voting, it's honorable and meaningful!

Voting in any election where the elected do not answer honestly and directly to you is nothing but a charade of participation.

Imagine this:  you're in 7th grade, and some of your friends decide to vote for The School's Worst Teacher.  You cleverly create a Polling App for mobile phones and text around to your schoolmates a link to the poll.  Within 2 days you have everyone's vote:  Mrs Crabtree is The School's Worst Teacher.

You can have e-verifiable poll-results with a Diebold-free tally check.  You can double your efforts with a set of paper ballots allowing for a 4-6% deviation (student frivolity) from the e-poll's results.  You can prove that the students truly chose Mrs Crabtree as The School's Worst Teacher.

Unfortunately, Mrs Crabtree will keep teaching at the school, regardless of your vote.  Why?  Mrs Crabtree answers to the public school Administration, not to the student body.

big bold letters in surnames

One of the things on which I'm ashamedly Europhilic is the practice of putting a person's surname in big letters. I have seen it mostly in Euro movies' credits, but have noted it randomly elsewhere. It seems a thing ripe for lampooning, especially where the person credited has some sort of scary public profile.

Witness:

Jeffrey DAHMER

Dick CHENEY

oh shit, that's scary.

We're aiming for syndication.

Recently I spoke with Amber Milgram and Felicia Foxworthy about their frustration at being "too low-profile for A Leading Progressive Opinion Journal." Mlles Milgram and Foxworthy are both anxious about the prospects of The Noble Democrats this November. It's a monumental and historic election, don't you know?

Doing my part to help them? Of course!

I'll run a series of Reruns. Here's the first.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

More impasse solutions via National Dialogue

Fred Bethune (FB) -- Clearly, anarchism is childish.

owen paine (op) -- Yes, even I, your grandiose grandee, have graduated from Anarchism to Marxism.

Michael Dawson (MD) -- Noam Chomsky rejects anarchism because... because... because... of anarchists!  Ergo, we all must reject Anarchism.

Anarchist Crowd (AC) -- I thought you 3 cats were against the Democrats.  However, in the course of criticizing Anarchism, you suggest the present State is optimal and merely needs tinkering.  Isn't that the same thing as Progressives and Liberals urging everyone to hold their nose and vote Democrat?  Aren't you saying, hold your nose about American socio-economic organization (Government, the Federal variant) and continue supporting it with incremental change measured by electron microscopy?

MD / FB / op -- See, you're being childish again.  Why don't you grow up and help us fix American Federal Government with incremental change, by following Marx and Chomsky?

AC -- Wait... aren't you guys talking about looking backward at "history" and studying "economics" and trying to graft unrealistic modes of "organization" onto a machine that won't yield to such tinkering?

op / FB / MD -- No.  And the fact that you can't see our point merely shows you're immature.  Get out of our sandbox, you diaper-wearer.

Monday, October 18, 2010

THIS JUST IN: America, at an impasse!

Oxtrot Industries, LLC is engaged in an emergent new research product.  The crux:  American socio-political confusion, antipathy and malaise, a/k/a The American Impasse.

We asked pundits around the Toobz how they would solve the present impasse of American politics.  We noted the bailouts, the endless war, "Homeland Security," Fed govt spying on citizens, overuse of TASERs, rendition, more bailouts, rigged elections, SCOTUS complicity in Bush v Gore, more bailouts, health care non-reform, more bailouts, and Tea Parties.

Here are the solutions offered by Leading Progressive Voices:

Glenn Greenwald -  RULE OF LAW!  Buy my books!  Beyond that:  more luxury, more finery, and a nice Pinot Grigio.

Jane Hamsher -  STOP THE EVIL RETHUGLICANS!  It's Bush-Cheney's fault, convict and punish them! 

Arianna Huffington -  Tonight on American Idol....

Markos Zuniga -  Support Obama!  Support the Democrats!  REPUBLICANS ARE SOCIOPATHIC ALIENS FROM PLUTO!

Jonathan Schwarz -  Well, as an Ivy League alumnus who is smarter than 99.9% of Internet users, I think we need to remember that the Republican Party has always been coarse, abrasive, and uncouth.  In no particular order.  Therefore, as every Ivy Dining Club member knows, you have to pin the tail on the DONKEY, fool!

Duncan Black -  Unless you speak to me in words of 3 syllables or more, I can't fathom your meaning.

No. This is an ex-parrot. It has ceased to exist. It is bereft of life.

The big problem of "progressive" punditry is its near-constant service as a parrot of "experts."

"Emptywheel" at Hamsterville devoted paragraphs today to the US Supreme Court "accepting" ("deciding to take" is actually his term) the case of Ashcroft v. al-Kidd. Mr Spokeless, as Spokesman for Pwogs Everywhere, opines that "accepting" the case has grave implications.

Apparently Mr Spokeless is unfamiliar with SCOTUS process. "Accepting" an appeal does not mean the SCOTUS will render a decision on the merits. Appeals exist as of right, if they come to the SCOTUS as appeals from a top State appellate court's decision on a question of Federal law. They can be discretionary if from a US Circuit Court of Appeals decision. If matters come to the SCOTUS as a petition for a Writ of Certiorari, then the decision to "accept" the matter (issue the Writ) means a smidgen more than "acceptance" of an appeal-as-of-right, but only a little more. Petitions for Writ of Certiorari get a bit more substantive review in the "accept or not" question analysis. Appeals as of right obviously do not; that's what makes them "as of right."

But we're still just talking about process, not substantive ruling. For example, on appeals, the SCOTUS can affirm without opinion, reverse & remand without opinion, reverse on substantive grounds --with opinion-- and remand for conforming adjudication by the Circuit.

What matters is what the SCOTUS does, substantively.

Not what it does procedurally.FN

Clearly... it's an ex-parrot.

___________________

FN - Yeah I hear ya, "legal realists," process is substance if we extrapolate far enough. What process permits, substance reviews; what isn't permitted can't be reviewed. Listen, try examining ripeness, mootness and justiciability for me, will ya smarty? When you've covered those 3 points come back to me and we can talk about how process affects substance.

Auto-erotic, self-referential, and tribalist

Robert Parry makes onanistic love to himself with both hands, with his right hand, with his left hand, and with his words of encouragement.

Friday, October 15, 2010

spots before the eyes

simple truth

When the noise of traffic outside begins to remind me of Manhattan (and not the one in Gallatin County) in its decibel level and its constant presence, I begin to lose affinity for this town.

one-two

I suggest two entries at friends' blogs, read as companions -- though I don't think either author seems to have intended that pairing, I think it works.

Jack Crow - The Law in the Box

J R Boyd - The modern idea

Thursday, October 14, 2010

capitalism, a holographic rendition of pseudo-reality

Under capitalism, people "work" simply to make "income".  There is little questioning of whether the "work" benefits anyone, produces anything durable or useful, or otherwise adds value to human society.

The trick of American Capitalism is to create a bullshit niche where you can profiteer.  For example, if you can persuade enough people that they need a "life coach," you can create the niche and give yourself all the experience accolades that imagination can muster.  You can fabricate recommendations, certifications, and stamps of approval.

American Capitalists don't bother asking whether anyone needs the thing or service they wish to sell.

Rather, American Capitalists ask themselves what they need to say in order to sell the thing or service.FN

Thus, "marketing" is the driving force of America.

Don't believe me?

I understand.  You're stuck in that foolish fantasy of Supply & Demand, in which Honorable Businessmen simply look for a demand, and meet the demand with a supply.

I'd like someone to show me an example of that working.  I'm patient.  I'll wait patiently.

Meanwhile I'll ask you to consider something.  Take an aspect of American Consumerism, choose a consumer good that you enjoy using or fantasizing about using.

Me, I look at mountain bikes and their affiliated parts, and I notice this:  manufacturers don't look around to see what people want.  Nope.  What they do is sit around in an office somewhere and imagine what they think people want.  They proceed to manufacture that thing, and then create ways to entice people to think they need that thing.

Mostly, this is done by making people feel small, insecure, worthless, effeminate, childlike, etc., for not having the thing.

As in, suggesting you'll get fucked by a hot woman with a vice-grip pussy, firm ass, and bouncy tits... if only your bike has Part ABC by XYZ Co.

_______________________________

FN - Here's a main entry and comment thread that suggest the truth of my proposition.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

three

through Justin's post I discovered these 3 essays at ribbonfarm relating the thinking behind The Office, in theory:  The Gervais Principle

Part I

Part II

Part III

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Jane! Stop this crazy thing!



I'm just wondering, does Ms Hamster ever pay attention to what people do? Or is she always focused solely on what they say, to the exclusion of what they do contrarily?

big I goes for the triple-dip

I would hope that you know health care costs are as high as they are because, among other main causes, health insurance profiteering is one of the main drivers of the health care system.  Health insurers chisel and whittle and sometimes even hack with a cleaver at what types of care are "covered" for an insured.  The medical doctors, hospitals, etc. that rely on health insurer benefits payment for their livelihood therefore adjust their practice to accommodate the insurers' demands.  That's how they get paid, eh?  Eventually the MD's practice (and thus the hospital's approach) becomes one of defensive medicine -- since they can't get everything covered $$ wise, they have to do more within the scope of what's covered.  VOILA!  Extra "health care services" prescribed and delivered, meaning VOILA! even more profit for the MDs, hospitals, etc.

Because they get to determine the types of coverage delivered, health insurers (and HMOs, and TPAs, and all other entities that serve as the monetary vector for health care service delivery) can cramp MDs, hospitals, etc. into a very safe type of practice that protects the income stream of all but the patient receiving treatment or benefits/coverage.

In the recent Obamacare smoke-and-mirrors "reform", health insurers played a strong role in writing the framework.

That would be their second dip of ice cream from political/governmental meddling in the health care arena.

It should go without saying that if health insurers have been driving the pricing of health care for decades, and were instrumental in helping write Obamacare, they have no room to complain about the impact of Obamacare on their policy/coverage pricing and their profit margin.

Nonethless, they persist in whining as if they have been hoodwinked by Obamacare, just like AIG pretended to have been undone by "unforeseen" effects of risky financial vehicles, or like the mortgage industry pretended that its own laxity on underwriting --which is well-known to negatively affect profitsFN-- caused unforeseen failures of mortgage payment, or like Wall Street pretending that it had no idea that risky fiscal vehicles (derivatives and other ghost paper) could result in collapsed profit potential.

And plenty of Americans are going to accept this bullshit, pretending their acceptance is just smart reality-based survival.

Why worry about 5 years from now if you can avoid guilty feelings today?

_________________________

FN - The whole point of underwriting instead of random wet-finger-in-wind pricing is to avoid charging too little for a loan (or in the case of insurance, risk accepted) that has in its factual bases various types of risk.  For example, if you're a lender, you don't write a loan with a $1,000 monthly hit for a person whose monthly take-home is $1250 unless you really want to be in foreclosure within the first year.  Who can live on $250 per month for all non-mortgage monthly essentials?  Utilities, food, personal frivolity of only $250/month?  Go ahead, Mr Vegas.  Take that risk!

holy shit. I think Digby's real name is Eric Harvey.

Eric Harvey at Pitchfork explains why Corporate Music is great, just like Corporate Democrats are great.

Excerpt:
Breaking from SST was both a good and bad idea for Sonic Youth. They escaped what Lee Ranaldo famously described as the label's "stoner administrative quality," but were left otherwise adrift with a fledgling go-getter managing what would become their magnum opus. The band didn't sign straight up with a major, Azerrad notes, because they wanted to avoid a delayed release and aim for year-end critics' lists. Instead, they opted for the quicker route of Smith's cobbled-together partnership with fledgling SoCal punk label Enigma, owned by EMI and with Capitol's distribution muscle behind it, for the U.S. release of Daydream Nation (Blast First handled European distribution). Capitol unsurprisingly had no idea what to do with Daydream, and thus totally botched the handling of one of post-punk's defining achievements, leaving it a quintessential critic's album for years.
I can just see it now at Hullaballoo:
Breaking from the slightly-left-of-center was both a good and bad idea for Barack Obama and the DLC Democrats. They escaped what Rahm Emanuel famously described as the fringe left's "stoner administrative quality," but were left otherwise adrift with a fledgling go-getter (Markos Zuniga) managing what would become their magnum opus. The party didn't win a major primary, Zuniga notes, because they wanted to avoid a delayed release of the Obama platform, and aim for year-end pundits' "What's Hot" lists. Instead, they opted for the quicker route of Howard Dean's cobbled-together partnership with well-oiled machine politician Rahm Emanuel's privatization = profit theme, funded by Monsanto and Humana, with AIG big-capital muscle behind it, for the 2008 POTUS race. Monsanto unsurprisingly had no idea what to do with a Chicago politician since its strength was in agribusiness in flyover country, and the candidacy almost was totally botched due to the handling of one of Obama's defining achievements -- being a community organizer for corporate interests. This almost left the Obama candidacy a quintessential liberal historian's political project for the next 50 years.

Monday, October 11, 2010

hate crime

The smug, condescending, self-congratulatory outlook of the average Democrat has always been a curiosity to me.  Can it be logically explained?  Is it just something that happens genetically?  Are people genetically disposed to be arrogant douche-nozzles?

I think, "YES."

And I think they take different paths in life, putting their rooster-strutting me-first-ishness on display in various segments of American society.

To hear a Democrat talk, you'd think all Republicans are dangerous, inbred, Bible-revering eedjits.  I mean, just look at the Chris Hedges quote here.  There's lots more like that out in the Self-Congratulatory Democrat Support Base, InterWebToobz Branch.  Even the old reliable "funny 'cuz they're liberal just like us" yupster/pwoggle fave Saturday Night Live was blasting the Republican "witch" candidate this past Saturday night.

The derisive scorn, hateful antipathy, and caustic dismissals uttered by pwogs and libs toward the GOP reminds me of the very thing many pwogs and libs accuse the GOP of doing toward gay marriage, or toward abortion rights.

HATE CRIME!

can we get a grip over here? a grip, please?

Always sniffing around for some sense of betrayal, the ferally raised dog detects danger where other dogs might get shot by a kid with a BB gun or kicked by a "master."

And then we have a human, who seems to be sensing possible --nay, imminent-- danger.  Chris Hedges:
There is a yearning by tens of millions of Americans, lumped into a diffuse and fractious movement, to destroy the intellectual and scientific rigor of the Enlightenment. They seek out of ignorance and desperation to create a utopian society based on "biblical law." They want to transform America's secular state into a tyrannical theocracy. These radicals, rather than the terrorists who oppose us, are the gravest threat to our open society. They have, with the backing of hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate money, gained tremendous power.
Tens of millions?

Really?

Trying to undo the Enlightenment?

Really?

There's another kind of skittish dog. This one wasn't raised ferally, but rather, domestically but under cruel circumstances. This dog would likely get shot by Billy Junior's BB gun, and kicked repeatedly by Billy Senior, until he either died from one of the kicks, or learned how to anticipate them. This dog too is prepared for danger -- but usually overprepared, seeing a kicking leg on every human, a BB gun in the hands of every boy or girl.

On this "tens of millions, trying to un-do the Enlightenment" idea, Chris Hedges is a bit like the abused dog, though he gives hints of being able to be more like the feral dog.

He's still got that old Donkey tattoo on his heart, and until it's removed, he'll keep being the abused dog where the faintest hint of Republican is in the air.

here comes nature boy

Friday, October 8, 2010

capitalism, anarchism, and anarcho-capitalism

...are they compatible, exclusive, broken, fixable?

Anarcho-"Capitalism" is impossible

yeah buddy tell you what



IOZ knows the score.

Prof Crispy puts Glossy Karl in the crosshairs

Anarchism and Marxism, or Karl Marx was a Totalitarian

Excerpt:
According to Marx, the purpose of the state in history is to be the forcible mechanism of class repression. Monarchy is the state form in which the aristocracy represses the feudal peasant and tries to prevent the emergence of the bourgeoisie. Republican forms of government such as the American, are the mechanism by which the bourgeoisie - the capitalist ownership class - represses the proletariat. The dictatorship of the proletariat will be the mechanism by which the proletariat represses or "liquidates" the bourgeoisie, as well as whatever other stray classes may still be bopping about: you know, small landholders or "professionals," and so on. That will put an end to the class struggles that have driven history; then the state will no longer be necessary, or even possible, and it will "wither away."

Bakunin was among the first and sharpest critics of this, um, absurd position. He pointed out that a class cannot function as a dictator: you need an individual or perhaps a small committee. And then the state thus constituted itself becomes a center of power and the nexus of a class distinction between rulers and ruled. Those who effectively control state power will use it, among other things, to enrich themselves. Because Marx really was in a kind of theoretical thrall to his particular economic determinism, he could barely even acknowledge that people desire power for its own sake, and that any power, once it is constituted, tends to be abused. For Marx, by definition there could be no state after capitalism. Bakunin thought that was a silly position, and if the history of the twentieth century shows anything at all, it shows that: the communist parties in the Marxist dictatorships constituted a social class and ruled despotically for their own benefit. Once you have a sufficiently tyrannical power to eliminate social class, you have a power sufficient for total war, genocide, the degradation and dehumanization of entire captive populations. Marx demanded precisely that power. Bakunin wrote about Marx: "if there is a state, then necessarily there is domination and consequently slavery" (Leier 286). On Marx's view, according to Bakunin, "for the masses to be liberated they must first be enslaved" (287). It is impossible, Bakunin said, "for an egalitarian society to emerge out of an authoritarian organization" (264), by which he meant the Marxist state, but also Marx's way of directing the radical labor movement.
Prof Crispy says many of the things that I have sensed and/or argued myself when talking with self-styled Marxists. The one point where I disagree with him is this:
Karl Marx was a vastly better thinker than any of his anarchist opponents. Marx's philosophy and economics are entirely indispensable in the history of ideas. His historical materialism, for example the idea that intellectual or aesthetic or religious products of a society reflect its material arrangements and conditions of production, is not an idea we can do without, even if it is also an oversimplification. Marx made many contributions without which the contemporary intellectual and political landscapes are incomprehensible. He was intensely and astonishingly systematic, learned, original, and radical as a thinker.
Whether that statement is true depends, really, on whether one's views on human societies are informed by experience and independent thought, or by scholarly review of Marx, his followers, and his critics.

In other words, it's true for traditional academic students of socioeconomic theory (socialism specifically), but it's not true for me.

I came to my appraisals of capitalism and socialism by way of basic human interests, by asking myself what forms the basis for the worker-employer relationship, what causes people to give up their time and freedom in exchange for money, and what power people actually have to reject the extant system and conduct themselves accordingly. In other words, from a personal liberty perspective.

Eventually I encountered Marxists as I read essays, blog entries, journal entries etc. on the American socioeconomic system (hyper-finance materialist-consumerist capitalism). Marxists struck me as being most concerned with two things:

1) reverence for Marx

2) force-fitting all aspects of modern American life into the cubbyholes created by Marx

and there's almost no visible attempt to understand the weaknesses or errors of Marx's posited ideas.  Because of this, I have referred to Marx as "Glossy Karl," to suggest that he is polished brightly by his slavering followers.

I've never sat down to chronicle all the objections and flaws of the arguments made by Marxists I've read, but Prof Crispy seems to have touched on most of the ones I've noted in my mind.

like a piggy

Coffee and donuts for breakfast. Oink oink, lads!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The secret to understanding US foreign policy, by Wm Blum

from William Blum's latest:

The secret to understanding US foreign policy


In one of his regular "Reflections" essays, Fidel Castro recently discussed United States hostility towards Venezuela. "What they really want is Venezuela's oil," wrote the Cuban leader. 9 This is a commonly-held viewpoint within the international left. The point is put forth, for example, in Oliver Stone's recent film "South of the Border". I must, however, take exception.

In the post-World War Two period, in Latin America alone, the US has had a similar hostile policy toward progressive governments and movements in Guatemala, Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Grenada, Dominican Republic, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, and Bolivia. What these governments and movements all had in common was that they were/are leftist; nothing to do with oil. For more than half a century Washington has been trying to block the rise of any government in Latin America that threatens to offer a viable alternative to the capitalist model. Venezuela of course fits perfectly into that scenario; oil or no oil.

This ideology was the essence of the Cold War all over the world.

The secret to understanding US foreign policy is that there is no secret. Principally, one must come to the realization that the United States strives to dominate the world. Once one understands that, much of the apparent confusion, contradiction, and ambiguity surrounding Washington's policies fades away. To express this striving for dominance numerically, one can consider that since the end of World War Two the United States has:
  • Endeavored to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected.
  • Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.
  • Waged war/military action, either directly or in conjunction with a proxy army, in some 30 countries.
  • Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.
  • Dropped bombs on the people of some 30 countries.
  • Suppressed dozens of populist/nationalist movements in every corner of the world. 10
The United States institutional war machine has long been, and remains, on automatic pilot.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

by where some bugs had made it red

damp work

...that's not exactly wet work, but not exactly dry either.

That's what I'd consider general American "foreign development" work of the type John Perkins described himself doing in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.

More direct wet work was done, for example, on American business interests' behalf in Chile when Salvador Allende was their President.  Most American and multi-national business interests get pissed off when a major nation strays from robber baron capitalism, because a nationalized economy and nationalized resources mean lots of potential "profitable markets" are closed to the robber barons who would like, for example, to mine copper in Chile.

In contrast to wet work's direct murder, what Perkins used to do is the very type of economic "assistance" that both of the major American political parties endorse and pursue, with vigor.  The big difference is in how the profiteering is approached, sold, and implemented.  Democrats always sell it with a "humanitarian" rights-protecting spin; Republicans generally sell a pugilistic, rights-asserting spin.FN   In some cases the military is used overtly, in others covertly, or by bellicose presence creating the threat of military force use.FN2  And in almost all cases, life gets worse for the imposed-upon foreign country.  Unless you're one of the rare minority who are serving as the puppets who get played by the foreign business interests, that is.  In which case, you probably are much better off than before.

But what nobody ever seems to question is the intervention -- as if it's horrible to not live with air conditioning, plasma TV, a swanky crossover vehicle, trick mobile phone, and all the latest men's and women's grooming products.  Should we be imposing a culture that is mostly based on the worship of material possessions?  Do we really know what they need, better than they do?  To use a shitty metaphor, do they really choose Las Vegas over the first-ever Burning Man?

Once you grasp the fact that our foreign policy has always been both directly and indirectly murderous and culture-destroying, it gets a little easier to understand how the Democrats and Republicans function as a complementary Janus -- and just as well you will see how the rights-protecting, rights-asserting alternating form of duality shows what Father Smith calls the Ratchet Effect

Perkins has a new interview at Truthout that's worth reading.  Excerpt:
One last question on that thread: The transformation occurring in Latin America that you speak of with such respect and hope is founded on participatory democracy with some socialist economic features, or at least some steps in that direction. Chavez, in a recent interview with the BBC, said: "I … believed in a 'third way,' but it was all a farce. I thought it was possible to articulate … a capitalism with a human face, but I realized I was wrong. Democracy is impossible in a capitalist system … it's the tyranny of the richest against the poorest. That's why the only way to save the world is through a democratic socialism." How do you compare this approach with your own? Your stance, if I portray it accurately, is that capitalism is not inherently the problem, but it must be fixed.

I think we're playing with words, to a certain degree. What is capitalism? Capitalism has been around for about 400 years and it's taken many different forms. Most recently, for most of my lifetime, as for most of Chavez's lifetime, it's taken the form of what I call predatory capitalism, which is based on some very faulty assumptions, the first assumption being that the only responsibility of business is to maximize profits, regardless of the social and environmental costs; and, number two, that they shouldn't be regulated – that you should minimize all the rules and regulations around business because that gets in the way of making profit; and, number three, everything should be run by private business - let's privatize everything, including the military, the schools, the jails, everything. Those three premises were really promoted by Milton Friedman, the economist from the Chicago School of Economics. They were embraced by Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and just about every major president since then, Democratic and Republican alike in the United States, and presidents throughout the world. And they brought us to a terrible situation where all we can say is that this is a failure.

Less than 5 percent of the world's population lives in the United States and consumes almost 30 percent of the world's resources, while roughly half of the world lives in dire poverty, many people starving or on the verge of starving. That's a failed system, it's not a model; it can't be replicated in Latin America or Africa or anywhere else. It's a failure. But that doesn't mean that capitalism in and of itself is a failure. It is, however, a question of definitions. I would rather define capitalism as being the use of capital, and capital includes mental capital; it includes creativity; it includes poetry and writing. Those are forms of capital. So in a way we're playing with words here.

The fact of the matter is, we need to come up with a new system that takes care of the poorest of the poor. We are a species in evolution and I think nature is quite perfect in that nature puts species on this planet and throws tests in front of them and if they fail, they go extinct. And I think you can say that at this point, with our current predatory capitalistic system, we're on the verge of extinction. We're on the verge of failing. We've created a system that simply does not work. It's not sustainable. By definition, if you're a species that's doing practices that are non-sustainable, you're not going to survive. So we need to turn it around. And I don't really care if we call it capitalism or xyz-ism. It doesn't matter what we call it, but we need a system that will allocate the use of our resources in ways that help everybody, every living human being and, in fact, every sentient being.

We need to come up with a system that creates a just and peaceful world for all life on this planet. We simply must do that. And I think that some of the leaders in Latin America are headed in that direction and I don't really care whether you call it democracy or capitalism, or social democracy or social capitalism, or whatever you call it; we just need to come up with a system, like the one I outlined in "Hoodwinked," that will allow us to move forward into a world that my grandson will be happy to inherit and every child on this planet will be happy to inherit.
My general take on Perkins is this:  former large-scale predator, now a very small-scale (personal level) predator.  Generally tells a good story that is factually coherent, and consistent with what I've seen in my adult lifetime. To some he projects a bit too much self-importance in Confessions, but I don't see that.  Anyone who's worked in the same national and global capital movement arena as the players involved in Confessions should recognize how real his tales are, and how much is fluff designed to carry the story as an interesting yarn.  Ultimately that's what he's writing:  interesting, revelatory stuff that is told in a personal narrative of a "bad guy tells all" sort.  If you're looking for Paul Krugman or Thomas Friedman, you're looking in the wrong place.  If you're looking for something true about American and global "foreign development", you're in the right place.

There are places where he says trite things, like promoting the Peace Corps -- which also could be seen as a bogus form of "development" in that it comes from the "we know what's best and we're here to help you become more like us" perspective.  But when it comes to how resource-rich nations are "developed" by foreign financiers, engineering firms, and resource extraction entities, Perkins has a lot of good truths to offer.  It's up to each reader to determine how Perkins' views fit with his or her view of reality.  Maybe you've seen more than Perkins, from a holistic perspective.  Maybe he's seen more than you.  All I can say is, a lot of what I've seen in my adult life is consistent with what Perkins says about how the world of foreign "aid" works.

______________________

FN - More recently, the difference has withered.  Obama has easily carried forward and expanded most of Bush's foreign policy agenda, with hardly a whimper from the Democrats who so vocally hated Bush's policies and agenda.  He doesn't sell it with Bush's cowboy tough guy implications, he does it with slick, merit-based appeals to "competence" and other meaningless pseudo-virtues.

FN2 - Here again there's a fading of the differences, this time among overt and covert military work, thanks to the privatization of "security services" and the rush to contract military work to the same "security" contractors. cough cough Blackwater cough hacking cough Xe.

DLC drone

DLC agenda, "progressive" rhetoric:

It's About Bailing Out Working People, Stupid

That shit keeps droning on and on, chanting about changes from within, and refusing to see the problems inherent in American capitalism.FN

It comes from the same non-thinking conclusion-generating place (regurgitation as habit, puking back up the assumptions that were swallowed without chewing) as the recent arguments boosting Elizabeth Warren and Obama's new "consumer protection" entity, an entity that will not protect consumers against anyone -- but will indeed protect consumerism against any anti-capitalist urges and criticisms.

___________________________

FN - Thematically:  techno-consumerist materialism + vulgar hyperfinance; see here for examples of what I mean by "problems." 

macro but not economic

click on image to get full-size.





a suggestion for my Pwog and Lib readers

...all zero of you.

PLEASE do not misunderstand this article by Salon as critical examination of a real problem. I'll use an opening remark from Shmoe Con Man's Son to demonstrate my position:
The fairest measure of Barack Obama at midterm can probably be found somewhere between Roger Hodge’s accusations and Jonathan Alter’s explanations -- but the deeper issue raised by both authors in a debate last night was how progressives, from the White House to the grassroots, fecklessly ceded ground to the Republican right over the past two years.
Why this is bullshit:

1) Can't lump "progressives" together as if they were monolithic -- and can't really talk about them as if their symbolic huge chunk o' Gibraltar literally caused tidal waves as it fell into the American Political tidal pool. Can't do it because not only do they have no power whateverFN, they simply don't act monolithically in a political dynamic.  They act monolithically only in ways that are relevant to their projected "image" or "lifestyle", ways that don't really affect anything directly.

2) The "progressives" have not "ceded ground" to anyone, Shmoey! The "progressives" I know personally, they have done something much simpler: defined themselves as NOT REPUBLICAN, and therefore not actually stood for anything, nor advocated for anything, except being NOT REPUBLICAN. In the place of standing for something or being something, they give us the following: complaint about the evils of being Republican.

3) This is merely a faint variation on (1) and (2) but yet, a difference nonetheless. "Progressives" have only one monolithic quality of note, where politics are concerned: they are Democrats, through-and-through. They are team players. They root for and belong to The Best Team In America: Team Donkey. This team identity is a lot like Joining The Right Clique in middle school and/or high school: your tribe is all, your tribe is who you are and what you are.

What (1), (2) and (3) mean, practically speaking, is that Progressives are so busy being "not Republicans" that they don't even realize the Democrats are not substantively different from the Republicans.  Of course this doesn't matter to the Progressive, whose identity is so tied to being Not Republican that the essence of what being a Democrat (a Not Republican) actually is -- corporate sycophancy, militarism, interventionism, government-as-maternal-figure-and-we-don't-care-if-Mother-is-mortally-obese-'cuz-she's-our-Mommy -- is completely lost on the Progressive.

The Progressive only wants to feel good.  He or she doesn't really want things to change, aside from the shift from Dubya Bush cowboyism to the superficial politeness of NPR/PBS sotto voce imperialism & capitalism.

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FN - ...no power whatever... means that there are no politicians operating in positions of Federal governmental authority who care what a Progressive thinks, despite the frequently replayed fantasy (see Conason's quoted statement) to the contrary.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

no popcorn, we're on a tight budget

Solitary Man is a lot like Something's Gotta Give updated with Jenna Fischer for dorks who lust over Pam from The Office, mixed with Roger Dodger, As Good As It Gets, and a couple splashes of Lost in Translation. Not bad, not great, too obviously a hodgepodge of successfulFN movies from the last 10 years, therefore not sufficiently original to make up for its otherwise dull story.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was much better. I hear they're remaking it to do away with Sweden and subtitles. Way to go America.  UPDATE:  I just discovered David Fincher's doing the American remake.  That gives me some hope.  I liked Se7en, The Game, Fight Club and Zodiac.  Really liked Se7en, the tension and the atmosphere (light, setting... gave a super-stifling and oppressive vibe) are the best I've ever seen in a movie.FN2  Maybe Fincher actually will improve on the Swedish version.  That would be a great movie.

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FN - In Oxtrot terms, that is.  Not looking at box office intake or "critical" praise, but rather were they successful in making me appreciate the work that went into the movie.

FN2 - Other movies I like for setting, mood, atmosphere:  Blade Runner, Fallen, Session 9, Event Horizon, The Machinist, Nothing, Cube, Eraserhead, Solaris.  Since those all seem to favor oppressive atmosphere, here's one that isn't:  Strange Days.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I want a dog. Not a tiny creature afraid of its own shadow.

So, I go looking for a dog.

To me a dog is a canid, not a feline that accidentally got mistaken for a dog.

EXAMPLES:



The foregoing are dogs.

These are NOT dogs, but rather, are bioaccessories treated as jewelry, behaving as cats:

Here's a pathetic mangy handbag-accessory-canid-that-wants-to-be-a-feline:

Slate.com attacks "conservatives" while ignoring massive fuckups by Obama-Holder & The Dancing Donkeys

do something why don't you fucking do something

what a bunch of babies

Stupid-fuck pwogs still whining about Their Heroin(e), Elizabeth Warren.

Clue, repeated again: Warren is NOT a savior, NOT a friend of the common man, NOT going to regulate Capitalism.

Warren IS Capitalism.