Saturday, October 16, 2010

An apathetic public is the surest guarantee

I really must find the ibrary book I so diligently hand copied and then typed these notes from so many years ago.

Competition at election time between the parties turns about as much on issues concerning the average person as competition between General Motors and Ford turns on quality and price. In both cases preserving the shared monopoly by excluding dangerous competitors is more important to the monopolies than the exact share of the market held by each party or firm.

An apathetic public is the surest guarantee that office holders can continue to profit in peace from their alliance with those who screw the public. Loss of faith can lead, not to more skeptical and self-reliant political beliefs, but to falling for the next persuasive pitchman.

Paranoia is the clay from which our great novelist Thomas Pynchon fashioned his art ... Persuasive though it is, the paranoid interpretation is ultimately innocent, for it assumes that the evil doers must meet in order to serve each others interests. History suggests otherwise. The baron on this side of the river has always justified the tribute he levied on his people as needed to defend them against the enemy across the river, and yet--though each enemy was necessary to preserve the others' prosperity--no evidence exists that the two barons had to meet in midstream to orchestrate their cover stories.

A "none" is something of no value we are forced to buy

Words are used ... to conceal reality. "Goods" is one of those words ... "Bads" are beginning to be recognized, even by economists, as something we should subtract from our goods in calculating where we stand. "Nones" are less well known. A none is something of no value we are forced to buy. Professionals specialize in nones. The purest example is perhaps the requirement in some states that all corpses, even those to be cremated, must be embalmed: it does not good, it does no harm, it simply transfers some money from survivors to undertakers. Government is a might producer of nones.

Some government agencies pass their time administering themselves without doing any good or even harm to the public; debate about those agencies frequently centers on how well they do their jobs rather than on whether the job is worth doing. The military industries of course provide the most colossal examples of the type: a nuclear aircraft carrier, in the unlikely event it is used, is a good or a bad, depending on your point of view; most likely, however, it will rust peacefully away, as a billion-dollar none.

As he reached out to punch the clock that would meter his bill ... the lawyer could reflect that his profession was doing as well as any this side of organized medicine. The medical analogy intruded itself ever more insistently. Lawyers began asking whether prepaid might be the M&M of their profession. M&M: that's not the candy, it's Medicare and Medicaid, and the sweet rewards those programs have brought to the health industry. M&M, and before them Blue Cross, had successfully severed the link between patronizing the professional and paying the bill.

If the third party principle is working right, the source of the money will be so muddied that it will be clear that no one is paying--but that of course means everyone, so the average man will once again receive the bill.

Of malpractice, shortages of primary care physicians, and such

More notes on medical care in America:

The doctors' anger about malpractice has mainly been directed at the lawyers--another case of two guilds at each others throats--because lawyers take malpractice cases on a contingency fee gamble. This, says the doctor, gives the lawyers a stake, not in justice but in a huge award, from the jury. The lawyers counter-claim that the contingency fee is the only way the average man can get a lawyer to take his case. That's true if the lawyer can smell a killing, but the average small butchery will never see the light of justice. Doctors have also made much of the idea that malpractice cases force them into “defensive medicine;” too many tests and a reluctance to do anything, no matter how desirable for the patient that carries any risk of an eventual lawsuit. Spencer Klaus reports a study that showed defensive medicine to be much less prevalent than the doctors claim, and over testing, which as noted earlier is a real problem, is more likely not to be defensive but rather the doctor's aggressive response to all that free money flowing in from Medicaid and Medicare.

One healthy effect of the malpractice boom may be to motivate doctors to do that which they've always refused: discipline their fellow physicians. The old tacit understanding which let the other fellow bury his mistakes in silence begins to break down when his malpractice suit comes home to roost on your insurance premiums.

Avoiding the medical care we don't need does not, of course, guarantee us the care we do need. The chronic shortage of primary-care doctors makes most people grateful to get a scrap of the physician’s time. If we are to be more demanding of our doctors, there must be an adequate supply of them.

The supply of the types of doctors is not controlled by the medical schools but by the number of residencies available in each specialty, and that is determined by the teaching hospitals.

Even the projection of an increased supply of doctors depends on the U.S. continuing to rob other countries which for years have been supplying the nation the doctors denied it by the AMA. As recently as 1973, almost ½ of all newly licensed doctors were graduates of foreign medical schools. The majority were from countries short of doctors who were lured here by better pay and amenities. The AMA didn't mind during the halcyon days of doctor shortage. Its members would get suburban practices while Pakistanis worked night shifts in city hospitals.

Friday, October 15, 2010

China Doll

Here is evidence that I was once young, romantic, and subject to heartbreak. Didn't even know I still had a copy of this, written in 1969, when I wore a younger man's clothes. Assuredly, I gave away too much of myself - in those days anyway. Has anything changed?

China Doll

I am a China Doll.
Don't breath too hard,
I might fall and shatter.

The little brown-eyed, blond haired,
four year old child holds me
in his fingers (he can squeeze and I
might or might not shatter, probably
not, he's not yet strong, although he is
as a god with the power
of life and death. Unconsciously
he holds me to set me
down gently to play with
another day or to end suddenly
me. and when he does (he will, for he
knows no better) he may laugh,
or he may cry, but he will be
changed and he will remember.

I am a China Doll.
Don't breath to hard,
I might fall and shatter.

You hold me in your heart,
now, at least. You hold me
more than you will ever know.

A China Coll is at first fascinating,
lovable. But a China Doll
is unsure and even having the
power, he can only hold it impotently
until it inevitably changes hands.

You hold me more than you will
ever know. You hold me to set
me down gently to play with
another day or to drop and end suddenly,
me. you know, or at least should know
that China Dolls break and suddenly;
though if not forever, broken, they are changed.
I can be glued together again, and
again, and maybe I'll laugh and
maybe I'll cry, but I will be changed
and I will remember, and
I will break and break and break and break and break and
break and break again until finally,
I jump. Myself. And shatter
into a million lost pieces.
A China doll.


The victims, not surprisingly, are women, children and the poor

From The Well Body Book by Michael Samuels (notes I took some 20 years ago):

Getting what we need from the health industry begins by not accepting what we don't need. first on the list is unnecessary surgery ... about 17% of all operations are unnecessary -- 3.2 million operations / year, 16,000 deaths, $4.8 billion. The reasons are clear enough: the nation has too many surgeons, surgery pays better than other medical work, the doctor who decides the operation is needed gets paid for doing it (under fee-for-service system).

The victims, not surprisingly, are women, children, and the poor. Hysterectomy is what surgeons like to do to women; almost 700,00 performed in 1975, resulting in 1,200 deaths, depending on who's making the estimates were avoidable. As a Baltimore specialist said: "Some of us aren't making a living, so out comes a uterus or two each month to pay the rent."

For children, the leading unnecessary operation is tonsillectomy; the classic example is the doctor who, when one kid shows up with a sore throat, schedules all the children in the family to have their tonsils out on the same day.

As for the poor, a 1975 study found that Medicaid patients are operated on at 2 1/2 times the rate for the rest of the population. Here greed is not the only factor: the poor provide most of the patients for teaching hospitals and there just aren't enough sick organs around to supply the practice needed by interns and residents in surgery.

SECOND OPINION -- And what of the poor surgeons already in surplus? He might make his living as a consultant, giving opinions about surgery instead of wielding the knife, ESPECIALLY if he can convince the health insurer of the need for a third opinion -- the tie breaker. In the case of Cleam Caldwell, a D.C. Metro tunnel worker who had contracted silicosis and then been fired for "unreasonable questioning of safety on the job," all Caldwell had gotten as compensation was $750 plus an offer of reinstatement in the same hazardous place.

With only 10% of illness does scientific medicine have any value at all

Found this on a numbered series of typed notes, probably from the early 90's.

Fully 80% of illness is functional and can be effectively treated by any talented healer who displays warmth, interest, and compassion regardless of whether has finished grammar school. Another 10% of illness if wholly incurable. That leaves only 10% in which scientific medicine - at considerable cost - has any value at all.

This makes me think about Jesus of Nazareth - carpenter, teacher, healer. This helps us to better understand the miracles of his healing - which were directly linked to the miracle of his warmth, interest, and compassion.

An admonitory and truculent concern primarily for the virtue of other people

As I delve more deeply into the spring cleaning 1992 project, I continue to find treasures - these are the type-written notes I took from a book many years ago. Basically, I was blogging before blogging was invented (or plagiarizing).

The title of the book eludes me now. But what this says fascinates and resonates:

When there is no demonstrable organic physical finding, a diagnosis based on what a person does, what he thinks, what he feels and how he expresses those feelings is not illness. What we are talking about is behavior, and I think that to call certain kinds of behavior that are strange and bizarre and that we have difficulty understanding-to call that illness is presumptive.

While it may be true that any action has its hidden motives, in "normal" life we agree to ignore this analytic precept. Society simply could not function smoothly if at every turn secretaries were saying to bosses, and mothers were saying to children, and lovers were saying to lovers, "I wonder what you really mean by that." Life outside therapy does not--cannot--run this way.

Unfortunately, the debate on this issue seems to consist of an overwhelming babel of specious and self-serving contradictions. But in the less than great, who are numerous, and especially in the meager of mind, who are countless, there is an admonitory and truculent concern primarily for the virtue of other people.

It is this "truculent concern" about OPV - other people's virtue - that drives the debate about same sex marriage and don't ask, don't tell. John, at the record store pointed this out just the other day to me. Some people just really want to get their noses into other people's stuff, in order to condemn them.

I say, live and let live. Man, ain't chew all got enough problems for your own self to be worrying 'bout? I sure as hell do.

It is not so much that I ignored the social amenities--I seemed never to have known they existed. It has proved easier to judge a pregnant girl than to provide her with proper food. It has proved easier to punish her for mistreating a fetus than to try to help her stop mistreating herself.

One hazard of the "get to know people" trades is that they can turn young skeptics into old cynics ... Be we already knew he was clever and observant about the failings of others ... If we stare at ourselves honestly, we all have our secret bigotries ... Having said all that, it is worth realizing that a bitter humor that seemed interesting and funny at the time really concealed a bitter human being. And as another hero settles back into the ranks of humanity, we have a choice of not to have heroes or not looking at them too closely.

The most dangerous animal in the world is a zealot or salesperson who believes in his product. Deadwood--useless personnel, characterized by aimless trifling action, torpidity, indolence, procrastination, languor, lethargy, sluggishness and even stupor. The wrong person in the wrong job at the wrong time.

In the main, psychiatrists and psychiatric patients exhibit the same thirst for big 'mental health' lies as do crowds of disaffected people thirsting for the redemptive messages of messiahs, whether religious or political. Nearly all WASPS believe in the punishment theory of illness which has that air of commonsensical rightness about it which is almost invariably a symptom of some aberration of reasoning.

One doctor said to another: "About the terminating of pregnancy, I want your opinion. The father was syphilitic, the mother tuberculous. Of the four children born, the first was blind, the second died, the third was dear and dumb, the fourth was also tuberculous. What would you have done?"

"I would have ended the pregnancy."

"Then you would have murdered Beethoven."

Completely Notional $35 million Medicare Ripoff

Back in the 1950's, the TV show Playhouse 90 wanted to do a production about an insurance scam (based on actual events) that involved corrupt insurance agents selling disability income policies to people who would then be involved in staged automobile accidents, and go to corrupt doctors' clinics for the diagnosis of disability. In those days, disability income policies typically paid Lifetime Benefits for accident, and limited period benefits for sickness.

The insurance industry was aghast and said "please, please, oh please, please, please, do not show the public at large how easy it is to concoct and commit this scam."

The San Franciso Chronicle and BBC News report on "the largest fraud by one criminal enterprise in the [Medicare's] history." Interestingly, the fraud has been perpetuated Armenian criminals prompting U.S. attorney Preet Bharar to say, "When it comes to making money illegally, this Armenian-American group puts the traditional mafia to shame."

BBC reports

The group, most of whom are of Armenian origin, are accused of setting up some 118 clinics across the US, most of which existed only on paper or were "nothing more than shams, shells, and storefronts" ...

They allegedly stole the identities of real doctors and beneficiaries of Medicare - the US federal insurance programme for the elderly - and "submitted bill after bill for treatment that no doctor ever performed and that no patient ever received" ...

In addition, the gang were accused of carrying out "a raft of rackets, extortion, credit card fraud, identity theft, immigration fraud, and even the distribution of contraband cigarettes and stolen Viagra".

This ought to be very useful information to help those putting together the manual for Medicare ripoffs. Make mine a Medicare ripoff with side orders of extortion, contraband cigarettes and stolen Viagra, s'il vous plait.

Apparently the organization attempted to defraud Medicare of $163 million, and was successful in obtaining at least $35 million.

The SF Chronicle note that

Unlike other cases involving crooked medical clinics bribing people to sign up for unneeded treatments, the operation was "completely notional," Janice Fedarcyk, head of the FBI's New York office, said in a statement. "The whole doctor-patient interaction was a mirage."

Look, Ma, at what the computer can do!!

The computer has helped make American workers more productive. This, supposedly, is a good thing. These stories make clear that the computer has also made criminals more productive. This includes the criminals on Wall Street, arguably the most destructive criminal class in the U.S. All this automation and hyper-productivity might not be such a good thing.

Authorities began the New York-based investigation after information on 2,900 Medicare patients in upstate New York — including Social Security numbers and dates of birth — were reported stolen.

The defendants in the New York case also had stolen the identities of doctors and set up 118 phantom clinics in 25 states, authorities said. The names were used to submit fake bills for care that was never given, they said.

Some of the phony paperwork was a giveaway: It showed eye doctors doing bladder tests; ear, nose and throat specialists performing pregnancy ultrasounds; obstetricians testing for skin allergies; and dermatologists billing for heart exams.

But WAIT a minute - trying to get Medicare to pay for pregnancy ultrasounds? THAT wasn't a giveaway? You mean Medicare is paying for pregnancy tests? Shudder.

How about these quotes to challenge the American mafia:

"When it comes to making money illegally, this Armenian-American group puts the traditional mafia to shame," ...

"So in terms of profitability, geographic scope, and sheer ambition, this emerging international organised crime syndicate would be the envy of any traditional mafia family," he said.

Hey guys, you can't even sniff these Armenians' jock straps.

Note how helpful this article is in pointing out the mistakes these criminals made. The next organization attempting this scam will know to not make these mistakes, and thus become more difficult to detect.

All the news that's fit to print.

A thought experiment: Support the troops; fight the war machine

Recently it was rammed home to me again what potential hot button issue it is to question any of the wars the U.S. has fought in the last 60 years.

Some people immediately assume that you question the ability, the character, the ingenuity, or whatever of U.S. troops. If you pose the question the wrong way, your audience will quickly turn on you, and perhaps, there is no right way to pose the question to some people.

However, let's try this thought experiment. I've always despised the New York Yankees, and I've always been a Chicago Bears football fan.

For the sake of argument, let's assume we all have a most hated baseball team, and a most beloved football team.

Suppose further that the decision is made that your favorite football team will play baseball against the baseball team you most despise, with the stipulation that your favorite football team must play wearing only football gear - full shoulder pads, helmet, etc, etc, both on the field when playing defense, and off the field when batting.

Ridiculous, yes. Totally ridiculous, yes.

Now, who wins baseball game?

Well, that's not fair, you say. The football team is not equipped to play baseball. They are not trained to play baseball (some of them may have played baseball, but probably not wearing helmet, pads, cleats, etc).

Will the baseball game even be completed? Perhaps, our the football players, out of frustration, lose control, and start tackling, or blocking the baseball players. If they catch them, they can do a LOT of damage.

So, whose fault is it that our football players did not win the baseball game?

Is it their fault that they were not equipped for, nor trained for the mission they were tasked to accomplish?

No. Not at all.

The fault lies with the idiots, morons, whatever, that put them into a situation, into a position, where they could not accomplish the mission.

Blame those people. Blame the owner, the general manager, the head coach ... but you cannot blame the players for attempting to do that which they were asked.

Our military is quite adept at blowing things up and killing people. This is what they train to do, this is what they are equipped to do, and they do it very well.

But who is this enemy our troops are being asked to fight?


Terrorism is a tactic, and the tactics of the car-bomber and suicide bomber (the 9-11 hijackers were suicide bombers) are the tactics employed by the weak against the strong.

Our generals tell us that we will be fighting the now-called "Long War" for the rest of our lives, and our children's lives too. This war we are fighting is against an enemy that has no army, no navy, no air-force.

Ours is a nation protected by two oceans and a benevolent neighbor to our North. If south of our border is deemed to be a problem, then for heaven's sake, bring the troops back home so they can defend it.

But we, the people, cannot continue to let our political, military, and media elites tell us that we must fight these wars in distant lands.

Support the troops. Bring them home.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Low wages are the official policy of the U.S. government

This remarkable and startling observation was made by Jim Hightower in his book: If the Gods Had Intended Us to Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates, published in 2000, before the the November Presidential elections:

Let me be blunt: Low wages are the official policy of the U.S. government. If you're a manufacturer wanting to hold down wages here at home, the government will book you on a trade delegation to Asia, hook you up with a contractor that provides workers for as cheap as fifteen cents an hour, underwrite your foreign investment, suspend tariffs and quotas so you can ship your cheap-labor products to stores back here, and put out a press release saluting you for joining in a private-public partnership to foster "global competitiveness." If you're a minimum-wage employer, don't worry about any rabble-rousing populism from Democrats--they'll give you a wink as they hold any increases to a level way below poverty. Even at the higher wage levels, if you're a Microsoft, IBM, or Silicon Valley giant and want to put a drag on the salaries of your engineers, programmers, and other high-tech workers, count on the Democrats to join Republicans in helping you import an extra fifty thousand or so of these workers each year from Pakistan, Russia, and elsewhere, letting you pay them a third to a half less than U.S. workers, thus busting the American salary scale.

And if wages do show any sign of creeping up, count on Uncle Alan to step in and stomp on them. Alan Greenspan, as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, is the ruling authority over our nation's monetary policy, and he hates wage increases. You see, if wages rise, that might possibly pinch corporate profits ever so slightly, and this might spook your big Wall Street investors, causing the high-flying stock prices of corporations to slip a notch. Since today's upper-class prosperity is built almost entirely on the bloated prices of those corporate stocks, both parties are determined that nothing should spook those investors, even if this means keeping [ordinary working people] down. It's really a choice of who you want to help--the few who profit from stock prices, or the many who depend on decent wages. Both parties have made the same choice--Greenspan, first appointed by President Reagan and reappointed by Presidents Bush and Clinton, has been their bipartisan hit man ... There's no relief in sight ... since both Democrat Gore and Republican Bush have signaled that they Uncle Alan back for yet another term... [E]ssentially Greenspan uses the Fed's power over interest rates ... much like some clod might use a sledgehammer to swat a fly. At the slightest hint ... that it's possible sometime in the future for wages somewhere to rise even negligibly ... Grenspan pounces. This guy hunts down wage hikes like Joe McCarthy used to hunt down commies, and he'll use every power the government has to keep working people's paychecks down. Last summer ... Greenspan openly urged Congress to bring in more immigrants, using them as wage-busters: "I have always thought ... we should be carefully focused on [what] skilled people from abroad and unskilled people from abroad ... can contribute to this country.... If we can open up our immigration rolls significantly, that will clearly make [wage inflation] less and less of a potential problem."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

America did not lose the war it waged upon the Vietnamese people

America did not lose the war it waged upon the Vietnamese people.

This is patently true. Consider two countries that were defeated by the United States and its allies: Germany and Japan. There is no question that they were defeated, they surrendered. The United States armed forces continue to occupy military bases in those countries. The United States played a significant role in the writing of the constitutions of those countries. This is conclusive evidence that the U.S. (and its allies) defeated the nations of Germany and Japan.

Consider now the end results to the United States after the United States chose to stop waging war upon the people of Vietnam.

1. The United States did not surrender to Vietnam.
2. No Vietnamese armed forces occupy military bases on U.S. soil
3. The United States made no modifications to its constitution based on stipulations made by the Vietnamese government.
4. The U.S. never paid one dime of reparations to the Vietnamese Government.

In no way can there be claimed a military victory over United States forces comparable to the victory which was clearly won by US forces (and their allies) over Germany and Japan.

Politically, of course, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, (North Vietnam) and the Viet Cong (the "insurgents" or "freedom fighters", depending on one's perspective in the South) achieved a political victory. They continued to fight until the U.S. chose to cease fighting. This should surprise no one. They were fighting, after all, to decide the future of THEIR country, the land upon which they were born. They had nowhere else to go. It was literally, a fight to the death.

Meanwhile, the government that the U.S. supported was a fiction of its own creation. It was a government that was overwhelmingly considered to be illegitimate, if considered at all.

Does this sound at all familiar?

Think Iraq. Think Afghanistan.

One day, and sooner rather than later I pray, we will leave those nations upon which we have wreaked so much havoc and turmoil, committed so much murder.

And for what purpose?

Our armed forces will leave because they have somewhere else to go. The Iraqi people, the ones still left, and the Afghani people, the ones still left, they have nowhere else to go. The will outlast us. Defeat us militarily. A ridiculous notion, but one that will be paraded and used to cast aspersions upon the democratic President who oversees the complete and total withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Should a Republican choose to do so, he or she might go down in history as a great and wise leader. Consider the current crop of Republican Presidential hopefuls: Gingrich, Romney, Patraeus, Palin, Huckabee. Which of them do you see willing to go down in history as a great and wise leader.

No, the bombs will continue to rain down as long as the likes of those are what the Republican Party offers to the American people as a Presidential choice.

Deliver us, Lord.
Deliver us.

Subervsive song lyrics Part III: God's Song (That's Why I Love Mankind)

If this Randy Newman song were more well known, it's doubtful that he would have scored the music for Toy Story, etc, etc, etc.

God's Song (That's Why I Love Mankind)

Cain slew Abel Seth knew not why
For if the children of Israel were to multiply
Why must any of the children die?
So he asked the Lord
And the Lord said:

"Man means nothing he means less to me
than the lowliest cactus flower
or the humblest yucca tree
he chases round this desert
cause he thinks that's where i'll be
that's why i love mankind

I recoil in horror from the foulness of thee
from the squalor and the filth and the misery
How we laugh up here in heaven at the prayers you offer me
That's why i love mankind"

The Christians and the Jews were having a jamboree
The Buddhists and the Hindus joined on satellite TV
They picked their four greatest priests
And they began to speak
They said "Lord the plague is on the world
Lord no man is free
The temples that we built to you
Have tumbled into the sea
Lord, if you won't take care of us
Won't you please please let us be?"

And the Lord said
And the Lord said

"I burn down your cities--how blind you must be
I take from you your children and you say how blessed are we
You must all be crazy to put your faith in me
That's why i love mankind
You really need me
That's why i love mankind"

The most haunting line from the song is this, assuredly a question asked by most Iraqis of the American government:

"if you won't take care of us
Won't you please please let us be?"

Subversive song lyrics part II: Ain't That America

There's a black man, with a black cat, livin' in a black neighborhood
He's got an interstate runnin' through his front yard
You know he thinks he's got it so good
And there's a woman in the kitchen cleanin' up the evenin' slop
And he looks at her and says, "Hey darlin',
I can remember when you could stop a clock."

Ah but ain't that America for you and me
Ain't that America somethin' to see baby
Ain't that America home of the free, yeah
Little pink houses for you and me
oh yeah for you and me

Well there's a young man in a t-shirt
Listenin' to a rockin' rollin' station
He's got ah greasy hair, greasy smile
He says, "Lord this must be my destination."
'Cause they told me when I was younger
Said, "Boy you're gonna be president."
But just like everything else those old crazy dreams
Just kinda came and went

Ah but ain't that America for you and me
Ain't that America somethin' to see baby
Ain't that America home of the free, yeah
Little pink houses for you and me
Ah yeah baby for you and me

Well there's people and more people
What do they know know know
Go to work in some high rise
And vacation down at the Gulf of Mexico
Ooh yeah
And there's winners and there's losers
But they ain't no big deal
'Cause the simple man baby pays for the thrills, the bills,
the pills that kill

Ah but ain't that America for you and me
Ain't that America somethin' to see baby
Ain't that America home of the free, yeah
Little pink houses for you and me, Ooooh

Ooh yeah

Ain't that America for you and me
Ain't that America hey somethin' to see baby
Ain't that America oh home of the free
Ooh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Little pink houses babe for you and me

Ooh yeah, ooh yeah

In Chicago, at least part of the decision to build the Dan Ryan Freeway was to serve as a physical barrier sheltering white enclaves on the South side from "white flight."

And yes, every little boy (and girl to, even, I think) was told in grade school that they too could grow up to be President. Ahem. Let's think about that. Nah. Never happen. If you haven't got a degree from Harvard or Yale, it's no longer very likely, and to get one of those, well, you need to come from a wealthy family. The Harry Truman's and Lydon Baines Johnson's of this country, well, they don't get past the "powers that be" that determine who is suitable to run for election.

Oh yes, there are those who can live in the big city high rises and afford to vacation in the Gulf of Mexico. There are those who can afford to houses in two and three gated communities, Jack Nicklaus golf course developments. They can afford even more expensive vacations.

For her birthday, one of my bridge students husband's gift was to fly her to Paris to dine in a restaurant. The price of her meal was $564. This was in 1995. The meal was served over several hours. Nine courses, I think. She didn't name any of them. But, she DID name the price. So, what was the most important thing about the experience for her? I don't know. But, she did name the price.

Ain't that America? for you and me
Ain't that America? somethin' to see baby


And I'm not 100% sure of this (but, it makes for a great story), but I think she was the one who wanted to know if she could make up the class she missed for her birthday dinner.

Are these people for real?

Subersive song lyrics - part I: Born in the USA

Ronald Reagan liked the chorus of this Springsteen tune. Who doesn't? But how many are on a first-name basis with the verses?

Born down in a dead man's town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
You end up like a dog that's been beat too much
'Til you spend half your life just covering up

Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.

I got in a little hometown jam
And so they put a rifle in my hands
Sent me off to Vietnam
To go and kill the yellow man

Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.

Come back home to the refinery
Hiring man says "Son if it was up to me"
I go down to see the V.A. man
He said "Son don't you understand"

Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.

I had a buddy at Khe Sahn
Fighting off the Viet Cong
They're still there, he's all gone
He had a little girl in Saigon
I got a picture of him in her arms

Down in the shadow of the penitentiary
Out by the gas fires of the refinery
I'm ten years down the road
Nowhere to run, ain't got nowhere to go

I'm a long gone Daddy in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
I'm a cool rocking Daddy in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.

Born in a dead man's town -
End up like a dog that's been beat too much -
Spend half your life just coverin' up

What kind of images are these?
Certainly not the images of a man with a lot of hope for the future, nor pride in the past.

Got in a little home town jam
Sent me off to Vietnam

This was happened frequency. The accused would appear before the judge, and the judge would give the accused two options ... one of which, was to go to Vietnam. And in this manner did support the troops.

The refinery won't hire him; the V.A. won't treat him.

His buddy who had a Vietnamese girl friend gets killed fighting the Communists in Khe Sahn, and the Communists won (this is not accurate ... I'll explain why in another post).

And the landscape - in the shadows of the penitentiary - one of the significant employers in Galesburg, Illinois (formerly home to the Maytag washing machine manufacturing company) is the penitentiary. Knox College to the North of it, Monmouth College and Western Illinois University to the south of it. Dan Braun, one of the best basketball players to ever wear a WIU uniform works at that penitentiary.

When I was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital the second time, it was ironic, because two of the staff were both Western Illinois University graduates - both of them sociology majors, as I recall. 6' 10" Walter also worked as a probation officer. Sociology majors weren't making a lot of money in 1984. Probably still aren't.

The penitentiary shadows, the gas fires of the refinery - this is a bleak landscape folks. Dystopian.

THIS is the USA into which "the Boss" was born and of which he sings. And if you don't get it, and if it doesn't bother you at least a little, then it's fair to say that irony is lying buried in its coffin, barely breathing, hardly moving.

Jeff Huber on why our armies aren't winning so much these days

At, the indispensable Jeff Huber pens a harsh critique of U.S. military leadership, counterinsurgency doctrine and the integrity of its war-gaming exercises. He starts at the beginning of military theory, with Sun Tzu's Art of War:

Sun Tzu’s immortal The Art of War translates into a shade over 10,000 words of American English, roughly 40 pages of aphoristic wisdom presented in language that probably 75 percent of public-school third-graders could understand. One hundred percent of our military officers should understand it, but they don’t, partly because fewer than 10 percent of them have read it.

The single-mantra version of Sun Tzu’s philosophy is “charge downhill, not uphill.”* You’d think that even cadets at West Point and Annapolis and Colorado Springs who graduate at the bottoms of their classes could retain such a short and sweet maxim and comprehend its gist. Yet the history of war is choked with case studies of generals who paid the consequences of attacking uphill when they had every opportunity in the world not to.

And then takes to task the revered Robert E. Lee for failing to follow this basic military dictum at the Battle of Gettysburg:

Perhaps the most celebrated example of this was the Battle of Gettysburg, where Robert E. Lee insisted, despite the strong objection of his deputy James Longstreet, on attacking up not just one hill, but three of them (Little Round Top, Culp’s Hill, and Cemetery Hill).

The drubbing Lee invited on himself at Gettysburg was the turning point of the Civil War and the beginning of the end of the Confederacy. That Lee continues to be our most revered and respected general despite having lost both a war and a country by violating the most common gem of military wisdom should tell us something about the kind of reverence and respect we show generals, especially the Long War hooligans we have now.

As always, Huber is highly (and rightly, to my mind) critical of U.S. General David Petraeus, while also faulting the integrity of the last 65 years of war games held at the Naval College:

If, as prominent warmonger Lindsey Graham suggests, King David Petraeus is “our best hope,” our ship of state is already on a bow-first vector for the ocean floor. Lamentably, the state of American military wisdom is so pitiable that Petraeus may in fact be the sharpest utensil in a drawer otherwise inhabited by spoons.

This is, in part, because of a lack of intellectual integrity in our so-called war college system, the most prestigious icon of which is the U.S. Naval War College (NWC) in Newport, R.I. NWC is home of the annual Global War Game, the template from which all other U.S. military warfare simulations are modeled. Lamentably, NWC war gaming hasn’t been a legitimate test bench for actual war since the 1930s, when the likes of Chester Nimitz and Ray Spruance devised War Plan Orange to defeat the Japanese in the Pacific. During the Cold War, the Global game was rigged to “prove” that the U.S. Navy would only lose a handful of aircraft carriers in a toe-to-toe slugfest with the Russkies. After the Berlin Wall went Humpty Dumpty, the Global game turned into a venue for validating whatever cockamamie doctrines and weapons systems the three-star in charge of the college wanted to verify.

Finally, he gets to the heart and soul of his constant criticisms of the underpinnings of U.S. military strategy and theory (emphasis mine):

But the most virulent warfare theory to infest our New American Century to date has been the Army and Marine Corps’ “new” counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine, as manifested in “the book,” Field Manual 3-24. Contrary to the details of his manufactured legend, the only part of FM 3-24 that Petraeus actually wrote was his signature on the cover page. Maybe he did that so everybody would have an autographed copy. The book’s real authors were a team from the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., who plagiarized much of its material from older doctrines like the ones that worked out so ducky in Vietnam.

COIN doctrine suffers from a fatal internal fallacy. A successful counterinsurgency, the field manual insists, requires a legitimate host government that is in control of an effective security force. But major insurgencies do not occur in states that have a legitimate government and a functional security apparatus. Attempting to create those two entities in a country where they don’t already exist but an insurgency already does is futile, as proven by our experiences in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

America’s finest military minds (heh) have committed the best-trained, best-equipped armed force in history to an unending, ruinous war against an enemy that doesn’t have a single tank or airplane or ship and is led by a handful of cave dwellers who don’t even have a fort to fart in.

And thus, day after day, the long war continues, the Marines advertise how to "be all that you can be" on all the major (and minor) sporting events going down, another troop or two get killed every day, or kill themselves, and slowly U.S. citizens find their standard of living, the prospects for job security, health care, education slipping, slip-sliding away, while the talking heads give us "the elections" most of which are too close to call, because the candidates are in fact pretty damn close on "the issues" (at least the issues they can comfortably talk about) so there's a large focus on the money raised by the candidates - the money race.

And if any one of us thinks it's gonna start getting better any time soon before it starts getting worse for most of us, well, then, I'd guess you're right, but then I'd also guess that you're in the Disaster Capitalism business where perpetual war and ongoing disasters make for alarming levels of profit.

One trillion dollars spent for national defense? Good heavens, it's almost as if two oceans, a benevolent neighbor to the North, and a bunch of drug gangs to the South of us aren't enough to provide a pretty good starting place.

Save us from the capitalists
Whose insatiable need for ever more profits
Will eat away from all of the government services provided
Privatiziing education, transportation, law enforcement,
They eat their own kind
They are cannibals
And as long as they are well fed
With lots of shiny toys
They are happy
And the rest of us, be damned

Well it's a one, two, three what are we all fighting for
(Long War)
Don't ask me now I don't give a damn
(Hell no)
Next stop is South Yemen
Well it's five, six, seven open up them pearly gates
Now there ain't no time to wonder why
Whoopee we're all gonna die

Give us an L

Give us an O

Give us an N

Give us a G

Give us a W

Give us an A

Give us an R

What'cha got? LONG WAR
What'cha got? LONG WAR
What'cha got? LONG WAR

People have commented on this blog

Fortunately, either my thin is thick, or my skull is. Or both. Someone under the influence of e e cummings sent me this a while back:

let me just add - your a fag.
or better yet a fag.
simply put a fag.

if you don't realize the implications of your own actions, then i humbly suggest you regress back to your early pond scum former being as your intelligence suggest pure darwinism.

marriage is divine and an order required for legitimate procreation. those born outside the bounds of marriage or commonly referred to as bastard children, hence the need for marriage between man and woman for procreation.
since two men sword fighting, or cornholing can't possibly result in procreation, nor can two women snail racing, or deep cavern juicing for that matter; then the need for marriage does not exist. the family therefore is not. to continue the "profound" thought of your daughter is then returned to senseless seven year old babble - as is with the majority of the voters these days: obama was elected, case-in-point


As always, I believe it is very important to define one's terms. So, fag:

a. A student at a British public school who is required to perform menial tasks for a student in a higher class.
b. A drudge.

n. Slang
A cigarette.

Slang chiefly US and Canadian short for faggot

Okay. Let me check on this faggot thing:

faggot1 esp US, fagot [ˈfægət]
1. a bundle of sticks or twigs, esp when bound together and used as fuel

2. (Engineering / Metallurgy) a bundle of iron bars, esp a box formed by four pieces of wrought iron and filled with scrap to be forged into wrought iron

3. (Cookery) a ball of chopped meat, usually pork liver, bound with herbs and bread and eaten fried

4. a bundle of anything

Ok, I'm in an optimistic mood now, so, I'll go with the bundle ... of joy!

Men and women have been procreating outside the bounds of marriage forever. Were Adam and Eve married, and if so, who performed the ceremony?

The comment about "my 7-year old daughter", well, the witty bugger just can't read critically. I have a 25- year old son, my only child. Those that can't read cannot expect their constructive criticism to be taken seriously. I do not believe that children babble. I do believe they have a lot to teach us. And I know they learn some very sophisticated lessons from a very young age.

I do detect a political bias, in that the election of the Bland One ipso facto proves a point.

And I have no doubts that the commentator Kitana, is surely better and smarter in every aspect than I. Certainly, in the confines of the world in which he dwells, this must be a comfort.

It's important to know that these people are out there.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Krugman indicts Obama

From Paul Krugman in this morning's New York Times:

Actually, the administration has had a messaging problem on economic policy ever since its first months in office, when it went for a stimulus plan that many of us warned from the beginning was inadequate given the size of the economy’s troubles. You can argue that Mr. Obama got all he could — that a larger plan wouldn’t have made it through Congress (which is questionable), and that an inadequate stimulus was much better than none at all (which it was). But that’s not an argument the administration ever made. Instead, it has insisted throughout that its original plan was just right, a position that has become increasingly awkward as the recovery stalls.

And a side consequence of this awkward positioning is that officials can’t easily offer the obvious rebuttal to claims that big spending failed to fix the economy — namely, that thanks to the inadequate scale of the Recovery Act, big spending never happened in the first place.

But if they won’t say it, I will: if job-creating government spending has failed to bring down unemployment in the Obama era, it’s not because it doesn’t work; it’s because it wasn’t tried.

Time do deconstruct

"The administration has a messaging problem ... it has insisted throughout that its original plan was just right." Those who cannot or will not admit the errors of the past are likely to keep on committing them. But, should it be surprising that the original plan did not succeed? Who were the advisers tasked with developing the plan? From whence didst they cometh? Goldman Sachs would be one such place. Maybe these people just don't know sh-t from shinola? A reasonable hypothesis.

Why wasn't job-creating government spending even tried? Because the powers that be, the ones to whom the Bland One is beholden, the FIRE - financial, insurance, and real estate interests do not want government money going to the little people. FIRE demands the government money unto itself. Really. Truly. Madly. Deeply.

Q. E. D.

Barack Obama serves only his corporate masters. Had he not done so, had they not been assured that he would do so, he could not have risen to hold the highest elected political office in the land.

Politics 101 - follow the money, honey

Deflecting from an unrecognized and more insidious threat to honest information

John Pilger hammers home some crucial points to help us understand the embrace of an ever more imperial war-mongering foreign policy by what is considered to be "mainstream," yeah even "liberal" media.

Britain is said to be approaching its Berlusconi Moment. That is to say, if Rupert Murdoch wins control of Sky he will command half the television and newspaper market and threaten what is known as public service broadcasting. Although the alarm is ringing, it is unlikely that any government will stop him while his court is packed with politicians of all parties.

The problem with this and other Murdoch scares is that, while one cannot doubt their gravity, they deflect from an unrecognised and more insidious threat to honest information. For all his power, Murdoch’s media is not respectable. Take the current colonial wars. In the United States, Murdoch’s Fox Television is almost cartoon-like in its warmongering. It is the august, tombstone New York Times, "the greatest newspaper in the world," and others such as the once-celebrated Washington Post, that have given respectability to the lies and moral contortions of the "war on terror," now [recast] as "perpetual war."

In Britain, the liberal Observer performed this task in making respectable Tony Blair’s deceptions on Iraq. More importantly, so did the BBC, whose reputation is its power. In spite of one maverick reporter’s attempt to expose the so-called dodgy dossier, the BBC took Blair’s sophistry and lies on Iraq at face value.

This was made clear in studies by Cardiff University and the German-based Media Tenor. The BBC’s coverage, said the Cardiff study, was overwhelmingly "sympathetic to the government’s case." According to Media Tenor, a mere two per cent of BBC news in the build-up to the invasion permitted antiwar voices to be heard. Compared with the main American networks, only CBS was more pro-war.

Blair was embraced by the new BBC corporate class, which regards itself as meretorious and non-ideological: the natural leaders in a managerial Britain in which class is unspoken. Few did more to enunciate Blair’s "vision" than Andrew Marr, then a leading newspaper journalist and today the BBC’s ubiquitous voice of middle-class Britain. Just as Murdoch’s Sun declared in 1995 it shared the rising Blair’s "high moral values" so Marr, writing the Observer in 1999, lauded the new prime minister’s "substantial moral courage" and the "clear distinction in his mind between prudently protecting his power base and rashly using his power for high moral purpose." What impressed Marr was Blair’s "utter lack of cynicism" along with his bombing of Yugoslavia which would "save lives."

By March 2003, Marr was the BBC’s political editor. Standing in Downing Street on the night of the "shock and awe" assault on Iraq, he rejoiced at the vindication of Blair who, he said, had promised "to take Baghdad without a bloodbath, and that in end the Iraqis would be celebrating. And on both of those points he has been proved conclusively right" and as a result "tonight he stands as a larger man." In fact, the criminal conquest of Iraq smashed a society, killing up to a million people, driving four million from their homes, contaminating cities like Fallujah with cancer-causing poisons and leaving a majority of young children malnourished in a country once described by Unicef as a "model."

A war criminal is a war criminal is a war criminal. And Tony Blair assuredly is one, and George W. Bush, and Dick Cheney, and the Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama.

"Armies win wars and armies lose wars," wrote Chris Hedges. "But politicians start wars and politicians end them."

So, what do you call it when the U.S. army, navy, air force and CIA are fighting an "enemy" that has no army; that has no navy; that has no air force? Do you call this a war?

And since our army (and CIA, they fought in Viet Nam too, don't you know - Lansdale, John Paul Vann, etc, etc) is not fighting an army, how can our army win this war? And for that matter, how can our army lose that war?

American politicians started the wars waged upon the people of Afghanistan, Iraq and now Pakistan. But the politicians of those countries do not have the power to end those wars. Only the American politicians, the American President, and / or the American Congress, have the power to end those wars. And yes, they DO have the power to do so -- the President can order it to be done and FIRE the generals who would oppose him and the Congress can cut off the war funding. Simple. Very simple. All it takes is a matter of will.

Do they have the will to do so? No. Absolutely not. For had they the will, they should, could, and would have already done so. They have not paid a heavy enough price yet. It has not cost them enough, enough of their power, enough of their political capital. To hell with the blood and treasure of the U.S. citizen that fight their wars, and of the immigrants who have signed up to fight their wars in order to gain citizenship.

I believe in justice. I believe in karma. I believe in a balancing of the scales. I believe there is something beyond my life in the here and now. I believe there is a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in; that's how the light gets in.

And when it does come, and these wars are ended, the war mongers will start up again; they will blame the American people for not having the will to fight. They will blame "the left," "the media," "the socialists," "the intellectuals," "the dirty f-cking hippies," "the homosexual agenda," "the women's libbers," and they will make the claims that the soldiers were spat upon when they returned home, and they will plot and plan and scheme and pray for the day to come when they can once again say, "We've licked the Iraq syndrome once and for all."

But for now, the politicians have had no price to pay; and the profits to the war machine are still too large; and the media whores have bought into it, and they will sell it to us.

The only enemy the politicians and the corporate class truly fears is the American people. When (if) this group awakens from its slumber, there could be hell to pay.

But this becomes less and less likely, each and every day.

There are no races

At his Informed Comment website, Professor Juan Cole offers this startling insight (my emphasis):

Brian Sykes found on looking at the mitochondrial DNA of Europeans that all the women had only one of 7 haplotypes or patterns in the chromosomes, and that the same 7 appeared in all linguistic and national groups, including e.g. the Basque, though the proportions varied. Germans are no different in this regard from the Irish or from Bulgarians. The vast majority of Ashkenazi Jewish women have one of the same 7 haplotypes rather than Palestinian ones. I.e. they are directly descended from Gentile great great grandmothers who married Jewish men. One only has to go back ten or twelve thousand years at most, probably, to find a common ancestor for all the Mediterranean populations. There are no races and all human beings are all mixed up in regard to ancestry. A recent excavation at Rome from the time of Augustus found a Chinese worker. How he got to the Roman Empire would make a great tale. But if he married a Roman woman and had children, likely all Italians now have some descent from him, and so are cousins of all the Chinese.

My son Adam James

My son, Adam James
Has been a life saver, for both his mother and me.

He is a child who was warmly loved, and warmly cared for
Carefully sheltered from a few things
But never tethered
He returns that love, amplifying and radiating it
With a gentleness, and an innate kindness
The ability to listen, to learn
A glowing curiosity
Knowing when to speak and the more important,
When to listen

He is a good Roman Catholic boy, in each and every
of the most positive senses and intentions of that description

He reached out to me,
melted my hardened heart
and brought back to my senses and comprehension
the joys and wonderment of being a child
and the wisdom too -- a wisdom too often
uprooted by so many with authority over
and the responsibility for the care and nurturing

of the only legacy
that means a damn

Our children
Our Hope
Our future
Our salvation
Our reckoning

And he has had to courage,
the intelligence and the wisdom
to know to say that which I
have so often refused to hear
but ultimately,
must acknowledge

"Not this way. This way, will not do.
"As much as it hurts me,
"I can no longer see you
"It simply hurts to much
"And I cannot endorse you this way
"Until you do the thing you know you must
"Heal thyself. You know what you need to do."

One hellish thing
to put a 16-year old boy through.
Forgive me son, as I know you have.

To know Adam, is to be blessed

And were it not for his mother's graciousness
and deep insights
And his grandmother's kindness and love
This all might have been lost to me.

Blessings upon you Theresa Marie
Blessings upon you Connie (Constance Lucille)

What exactly is the responsibility of a sportswriter?

Perhaps a sportswriter's job is to throw red meat to the lions, to excite the fans, to get them talking. And what better way to do that than to make the focus of your story the failures of your team's backup quarterback. Dan Pompei in the Chicago Tribune ledes with this:

Let's say Jay Cutler can't go again Sunday against Seattle.

Do you go down the same road that led to four interceptions, a 5.3 yards-per-completion average and a 6.2 passer rating?

Or do you give Caleb Hanie the chance he has been working toward for almost two and a half seasons?

Stating his case, while cautioning:

Hanie's appeal still may be that he is the devil we do not know. But on Sunday Todd Collins became the devil we do know.

That's an important nugget to remember for rabid Bears fans / general managers / team owners who are always looking at the next quarterback as the savior to lead them back from the desert into the promised land.

Pompei continues the laundry list of QB faults, and actually gets around to naming the quarterback who is the subject of his derision:

What Collins did well Sunday was hand off to Matt Forte and Chester Taylor without incident.

Everything else a quarterback is supposed to do, he did poorly.

Given the nature of the game plan, all the Bears really needed from Collins was for him to convert some third downs. He had eight chances to throw on third down and failed at every one of them. He threw three interceptions, he was sacked once, he had three incompletions and he had one completion for 4 yards when the team needed 7.

Finally we get get a quote from Todd Collins. Give credit where credit is due, please. Collins took full responsibility for his bad game.

"It was probably my worst game ever, since I've been playing any sport," said Collins, who has probably played in thousands of games in his 38 years. "It's not like it was a surprise getting pulled. It's disappointing, but I was most disappointed in how I played."

Pompei's piece continues:

What was so disappointing about Collins' performance is it wouldn't have taken much for him to look like a savior.

From all that you have read here so far, would you have ANY idea whatsoever that the Bears handily won the game? Do you have any clues that Dan Pompei even knows the first name of the quarterback onto whom he so viciously piles?

But perhaps, you say, EVERYBODY knows the Bears won. Possibly, but consider the first two paragraphs of David Haugh's column written about the same game:

With one instinctive razor-sharp cut, Matt Forte broke left and saw nothing in front of him but 68 yards of green.

The only thing more vast was the opportunity suddenly in front of the Bears if Forte carries the football with the authority he did in Sunday's 23-6 victory over the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium.

Here we learn that the bears won, convincingly and that Matt Forte had a great game.

Back to Pompei:

The Bears were going against an outmanned defense that was missing its starting free safety. The Bears took command early and didn't have to take risks. The run game was humming. The Panthers' defenders were crowding the box as if it were the office elevator seconds after the 5 p.m. whistle.

And Collins took advantage of none of it.

There's an expression, that you dance with the one that brung you to it. I'd like to know (because I fell soundly asleep before the first quarter ended and slept through the entire game) what happened to the running game later? Whose decision was it to continue throwing the ball when the QB was having a very bad day, but WAS doing a fine job of handing it off. That's not all on the quarterback. You do have to play with the personnel you put on the field, and a well-coached team surely ought to play to their strengths.

Another interesting thing about Pompei's column is that nowhere does it include the final score. The closest he comes is in mentioning that the Bears had a 17-6 lead when Caleb Hanie was sent into the game to play QB.

So, sure quarterback Todd Collins had a bad game - his stats say it all. But here's a clue: Dan Pompei's column just ain't all that hot. What's the score, Dan? Some of us would like to know.

Meanwhile, the snake of snark, Steve Rosenbloom, whom I am not particularly fond of as a columnist, has the decency to point out who is to blame for sticking so long with a quarterback who's having a bad day. Rosenbloom also asks the obvious question about why in the world did it take so long to pull Todd Collins?

Fire Jerry Angelo. Fire Todd Collins. Fire all the co-conspirators involved in the plot to embarrass the Bears the way the general manager’s joke of a choice of a veteran backup quarterback did in Sunday’s exasperating 23-6 win over a pathetic Carolina team.

Rosenbloom continues (this appears to be in the online edition only) with writing that sizzles

Todd Collins was so bad that the Bears needed NORAD to find his passes. Thank goodness the defense was abusing a Panthers offense begging to be put down.

Collins was so bad that the Bears tried to run out the clock with 2:45 to go in the first half. The Bears weren’t smart enough to pull Collins then and he didn’t have enough pride to quit right there. Thank goodness the defense was making Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen look every bit the rookie that he is.

Collins was so bad that he threw three interceptions in four series, one at the goal line to the fattest guy on the field. Thank goodness the defense put the Panthers in third-and-ridiculous almost every series.

The Bears went touchdown, touchdown, field goal by running almost exclusively on their first three drives, then the Collins-led unit went interception, interception, punt, interception, punt, punt, punt, interception, benched.

Once the Panthers stopped the run, Collins stopped the Bears.

Whoever heard of using the run to set up the interception?

And then there is also the offensive coach, ostensibly tasked with play-calling:

Collins’ fourth interception came when he was trying to throw deep to Johnny Knox. Doesn’t Collins know he can’t throw deep? Doesn’t Mike Martz know it, too?

No vision, no poise, no accuracy, no clue.

No more. Please, no more.

I tried to fire Angelo after his idea of an offensive line managed to concuss the star quarterback last week. I’ll try it again this week for the way he stuck the Bears with his cockamamie idea of a veteran backup.

At least fire Collins. If the Bears are holding people accountable for their play, then Collins shouldn’t have been allowed on the plane home. Cut him at airport security. Let TSA intercept his carry-on.

Yes, DO hold management responsible! Angelo is making the personnel decisions, and some of them seem, with the benefit of hindsight, to be abysmal.

But in all of this, please note, this is a random sample of size one. One game. One bad game. Okay, one real bad game for Todd Collins. And if you run him out of town on the rails now, THEN who will play back-up quarterback to Caleb Hanie if Jay Cutler is not ready to go next week?

Disbelieving fair weather Bears fan that I have become, it is impossible to argue this analysis of our division leading Chicago Bears:

Apparently, it’s going to be this way with the Bears this year. Wins are wins, and the uglier and more frustrating the better, apparently. Starting great, then plummeting back to the quality of their inept opposition might not be a good plan, but it’s at least a plan.

But jeez, how can a team be 4-1, hold first place, and look so hopeless?

Okay. They look bad. I understand, and I've notcied (when I haven't been sleeping). But they have won, and in football, that beats the alternatives.

Rosenbloom next speculates, and doing that thing that Sam Smith always did with the Chicago Bulls - suggesting personnel moves - the Man Who Would Be General Manager:

Bigger question is, now what?

You can’t bring back Collins unless the goal is to kill everyone’s will. Caleb Hanie? He’s a better choice than Collins, but then, so is Virginia McCaskey. How about Kurt Warner? He knows the Martz offense and it looks like he’ll be available, given what I’ve seen from him on “Dancing With the Stars.’’

I'd like to think this is speculation, about the goal being to kill everyone's will. A team plays with the players it plays with. If the team's will can be killed because of starting one player, who admits to having had a very bad day, then what exactly does that say about the rest of the team? How professional is that? The Bears' defense has kept them in just about every game this year. Real Chicago Bear football is smash mouth defensive football. This is what Chicago Bears fans know in their guts.

Back to David Haugh who continues to score big points with the quotes he gets and the analysis he makes, all the while doing a real reporter's job - telling us about the who's, and the what's:

"When you put your mind to it, call running plays and the offensive line blocks like they did, you can run the ball," Forte said after gaining a career-high 166 yards on 22 carries with two touchdowns. "It was about the same as it was passing the ball last week (against the Giants), except the opposite."

I don't know if Chicago should be prouder of Mike Martz finally emphasizing the running game so the Bears ground out 218 rushing yards. Or the way Lovie Smith somehow convinced Martz, his mad-genius play-caller, to resist the urge to self-destruct with downfield pass plays neither subpar sub Todd Collins nor Caleb Hanie looked capable of completing.

So far, in rating these sportswriters:

Pompei just phoned it in, probably early in the third quarter. He made his point about the tepid play of Collins early, but just kept piling it on. Like the class bully who picks on the kid all the cool kids hate. Mean-spirited.

Haugh has done a fine job, getting a great quote from Matt Forte, who gives kudos to the offensive line, which they probably appreciate.

Rosenbloom writes with wit and style, and obviously watched the whole game.

Not one of the writers entertains for even one moment, the possibility that Todd Collins admits to having had the worst game of his life, and might not be as bad as he looked.

Another thing none of these writers mentions is that in 2010 the Bears DID draft a quarterback, Dan LeFevour, whom they subsequently dropped from the roster. LeFevour really impressed me with his throwing ability, and impressed the Cincinnati Bengals enough that they found room for him with their team. There are a couple of things you cannot teach a quarterback. One is to be 6' 3" tall. The other is to weigh 229 pounds. Had the Bears kept LeFevour, whom I liked, they would have had several million more dollars to invest in, say, a proven offensive lineman? LeFevour is one of only three quarterbacks the Bears have drafted since 2000. The other two, of course, Rex Grossman and Kyle Orten.

Here, however, is Vaughn McClure exhibiting the kind of sports writing that inspires. The kind of writing that makes us proud of our sports heroes for the one thing we have any right to ask them to do: to play the game to the best of their abilities.

As Julius Peppers jogged off the field at Bank of America Stadium for the first time as the enemy, he casually tossed a glove into the stands then embraced former Panthers teammate Steve Smith inside the tunnel.

"I still have a lot of respect for him and these guys," Peppers said of the injured Smith and the Panthers. "Just because it didn't work out upstairs, I still have a lot of respect for the coaches and all the players.

"I think you can see that by everybody coming up to me. I found (Panthers) coach John Fox before the game and shook his hand and had a few words with him. It was a good time."

The defensive end appreciated the cheers and welcomed the jeers Sunday.

"I loved it,'' he said. "I am over here now. See my shirt? I'm not the home team, so that is what is expected.

"I think when I first came out, I heard cheers. But I didn't expect to hear the cheers the whole game.''

It's a familiar story. Star player takes the money, goes elsewhere. But has good things to say about his teammates and coaches. Maybe nothing good to say about the suits running the thing.

But the fans, they appreciate him. He's their guy, because he was born there, and played there all his life, until now.

And the man can flat out play. I slept through this, but reread McClure's description, savoring it more each time:

Peppers didn't record a sack, but fans couldn't help but applaud the tone-setting play he made midway through the first quarter. He fought off a cut block attempted by ex-teammate Geoff Schwartz, tipped a pass by rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen, fell to his knees and still managed to corral the ball before it hit the ground.

"Amazing,'' linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa said. "You can't explain a play like that. You just have to see it.''

After the play, Peppers popped up, palmed the ball, then put a finger over his mouth to shush the home fans.

"I was having a little fun with the crowd,'' Peppers said. "I don't take it personal. Neither should they.''

Sure Peppers, who spent eight seasons in Carolina, heard plenty of booing early in the game, particularly after he tackled running back DeAngelo Williams on the Panthers' first series. But the majority of folks understood what he meant to the franchise.

And if anyone forgot, Peppers reminded them with that jaw-dropping interception.

So, what exactly is the responsibility of a sportswriter?

To feed us red meat? To pile on to a man who's down? To give us the score? To get us some quotes? To point out the good, the bad the ugly? To exalt the brilliant, or to deride failure?

I know my own
My own know me.

Great column Vaughn.

This construction troubles me

I'm not sure how I learned of Colin Covert who reviews movies for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. He has a way of turning phrases that appeal to me. But in this opening paragraph of this review of The Most Dangerous Man in America, I am troubled by something.

While no one could call it evenhanded, "The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers" is clear, concise, crisply paced and thoroughly researched. The Oscar-nominated film by Judy Ehrlich and Rich Goldsmith is not balanced in the traditional, "on the other hand" sense, yet it's a riveting history of one man's mission to expose the misdeeds of four U.S. presidents as they consistently misled the public about the purpose and conduct of the Vietnam War.

It is the phrase "not balanced in the traditional, 'on the other hand' sense."

We know that FOX News bills itself as "Fair and Balanced" but this is just so much pablum as was aptly demonstrated by the movie Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism which I watched at in 2004. As Outfoxed makes painfully and plainly clear - Fox News has an agenda - a political agenda, and a corporate agenda.

This traditional "on the other hand" sense: is this supposed to mean that if, for example, several Republican notables were to say that the "earth is flat," they should be given equal time to expounding their position (for balance) with scientists who have photos suggesting otherwise?

Later in the review, Covert writes

The 93-minute film presents few views challenging its thesis that Ellsberg is a great, selfless patriot. Not unless you count the fulminations of Richard Nixon in his profanity-laced White House audio tapes.

I have only seen portions of the film on Democracy Now. My understanding of the film, which is informed by my having read Ellsberg's Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers and Papers on the War is that Ellsberg did what he did with the Pentagon papers and wrote what he wrote about the Vietnam war because he believed that

(a) The government classifies as "top secret" way too much of the paper work it produces
(b) Because so much is classified as "top secret" we the people have no access to the often mundane information used by government officials to base their decisions, often life and death decisions, upon
(c) That the biggest obstacle to winding down the war in Vietnam, which was judged unwinnable very early on, was the President himself, because no President wanted to be the first to "lose" the war
(d) That documents are often classified to avoid embarrassing the officials whose decisions, in retrospect, look foolish, rash, poorly considered

And all this, Ellsberg believes, and continues to write about, leads to a situation where the only people able to inform the American public about life and death matters are those in the government who would "blow the whistle" on the government.

Clearly, Covert likes more than a little of the movie:

This isn't a dusty chapter of ancient history, but a fresh, exciting story. Ellsberg, who worked as a defense analyst in the government-funded RAND Corp., emerges as a complex and contradictory character. He was a Harvard-trained Cold Warrior turned antiwar crusader. His convictions were shaped by his battlefield experiences as a Marine battalion commander, by personal visits to Southeast Asia, and by his relationship with his dovish wife, Patricia.

After all, fresh, exciting stories about complex and contradictory characters who move 180 degrees in their outlook are stories about real change, and, depending on your politics, real growth.

In fact, this IS the type of tale that Maureen Dowd recently gushed about. It's been a long time coming.

Bill Clinton's lasting legacy

Past precedents cleared the trail for the John Yoo torture memos. Follow the logic.

From Jim Hightower's book If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates:

Raw political cynicism is Clinton's lasting legacy. By his careless use of soft money, he has authorized all future presidential and congressional candidates to disregard the law and treat public office as a commodity to be retailed for unlimited sums of campaign money. It turrns the political clock back to the utterly corrupt days of Nixon, who literally kept wads of corporate cash stashed around the White House. One of those stashes included $25,000 from Archer Daniels Midland CEO Dwayne Andreas--money used to pay the Watergate burglars. A quarter of a century later, there was Bill Clinton with his 1996 unregulated stash of political money, including $295,000 from Andreas.

Hightower goes on to describe a window of opportunity opened slightly when FEC staff auditors determined that Dole and Clinton had spent $17 million and $46 million respectively that was outside the law. This raised the ire of the six politically appointed FEC officials who voted unanimously against punishing the candidates' campaigns. This left Janet Reno's office as the last line of possible prosecution. Reno ruled that there would be no further legal inquiries the matter because:

there was "clear and convincing evidence that the President ... lacked the criminal intent to violate the law."

Hightower breaks down the logic of the Attorney General's remarkable conclusion:

[1] while the President might have violated the law,
[2] he didn't intend any violation, as proven by the fact that
[3] his lawyers told him his actions were legal, so
[4] he "lacked the criminal intent," and
[5] ... Bill Clinton can walk

I'd argue that this legacy, that the President always makes sure he gets a lawyer who will tell him his illegal actions are legal, is the Bill Clinton's legacy. John Yoo, where are You? Come on down.

How low can we go?
Come on down
Come on down
Lower still
Come on down

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What you mean "we" crazy white lady?

I'm going to beat Bob Somersby to the scoop on this one.

Maureen Dowd exposed herself in Sunday's New York Times, laying bare for all the world to see the kind of world in which she thinks she lives:

It didn’t take long, sitting with an enthralled audience and watching the saga of the cloistered jerk who betrayed those around him and ended up unfathomably rich and influential, to understand why it has been hailed as a masterpiece.

The enthralled cohort with whom MoDo sits will be revealed soon enough. That a tale of this type is "hailed as a masterpiece" says at least as much about the hailers as it does the saga. This is the kind of tale the enthralled hailers can sink their teeth in; that they can relate to. Ticket prices range from $221.00 (each) to $742.00 (each) for a Sunday show. The price ranges for Wednesday are more "modest", $147 - $666.00 (the mark of the beast - they ought to know better when they price these things). Curse you cloistered jerk, betrayer of all those around you! (But, bless you too, for showing us that we can end up unfathomably rich and influential, for reaffirming, in other words, that greed IS good.)

It unfolds with mythic sweep, telling the most compelling story of all, the one I cover every day in politics: What happens when the powerless become powerful and the powerful become powerless?

So, THIS is the every day and most compelling story of all that our intrepid Mo relentlessly covers? Exactly which of the politicos about whom Mo written were powerless first and then became powerful? George W. Bush, the son of a U.S. president and grandson of a U.S. senator, whose fortune was made in buying into the Texas Rangers baseball team for a $600,000 and selling his share for $11,000,000? John McCain, son of an admiral and grandson of an admiral, who divorced his first wife after her auto accident to marry in the family fortune of an Arizona bootlegger? Seems more likely that she is thinking here of Bill Clinton, born poor of an alcoholic father, who by dint of intellect, charm, and hard work rose to become governor of Arkansas and then President of the United States. And then fell from grace, although, (don't you know - the Whitewater thing, sex with the intern, travelgate, etc, etc, etc).

Au contraire, ma cher. These were powerful people before you first wrote about them, and powerful people even now that you have written about them. There is a ruling class in this country. They are part of it.

This is a drama about quarrels over riches, social hierarchy, envy, theft and the consequence of deceit — a world upended where the vassals suddenly become lords and the lords suddenly lose their magic.

Vassal? As in, a person who "A person who held land from a feudal lord and received protection in return for homage and allegiance," or "a bondman; a slave," or "a subordinate or dependent?" That kind of vassal? These are the people you write about Mo? Well, most certainly the ones about whom Mo writes are almost invariably one possessing money, power, fame or celebrity. To Mo, some of them may look like vassals, but that wold be Mo's world. A place very much divorced from reality.

Vassals? Cloistered jerks? OMGIH! This is the language of the courtier class, those whose status derives from and is dependent upon the favor of the ruling class.

We are always fighting about social status, identity, money, power, turf, control, lust and love. We are always trying to get even, get more and climb higher. And we are always trying to cross the bridge to Valhalla.

Who is this "We" who are always fighting about social status? Hint: I know mine. It is low class. Who is this "we" who are "always trying to get even, get more and climb higher?" I'm happy to get a little forgiveness; to be able to share an honest conversation with a friend who disagrees, and perhaps even vehemently with me, but is willing to talk it through. And who is this "We" who are always trying to cross the bridge to Valhalla? The people I know are mostly happy to get through the day and be able to spend some time with loved ones.

"But the passions that drive humans stay remarkably constant, whether it’s a magic ring being forged or a magic code being written."

This one, I agree with. But in my world, the passions are simpler. A few years ago a South African singing troupe sang at our church and a call went out to the congregants to provide them lodging. We were blessed to be hosts to two of the young men. The very first thing they wanted to do when they settled in was to get on the computer to check, first of all, the exchange rate between the dollar and their currency, and secondly, to see how their local soccer team had done. We watched TV after dinner. They picked the music awards, after all, music was their business. Two delightful days to enjoy their company, to find so many things we held in common.

Here's poem that explains about all we ever need to know of the American War upon the People of Vietnam.

Making the Children Behave
by W.D. Ehrhart

Do they think of me now
in those strange Asian villages
where nothing ever seemed
quite human
but myself
and my few grim friends
moving through them
in lines?

When they tell stories to their children
of the evil
that awaits misbehavior
is it me they conjure?

Parents everywhere want their children to behave. Sometimes they tell them stories to frighten them in behaving. Sometimes, soldiers have insights. Horrific insights. Questions get asked. And the power of the ruling class, and its attendant courtier class is undermined.

There are children put to bed, hungry in America. There are parents, working parents, who lose a job, and have to decide how to allocate a 60% reduced household income. There are retired people, those of "the greatest generation" who have to decide which medications they will have to cut back on, because even with Medicare Part D, they can't afford all their meds.

There are children in the 7th wealthiest zip code in America committing suicide at a rate four times higher than the national average, for their age group.

"Social status, identity, money, power, turf, control:" Fights about these issues are reserved for the lucky ones unto whom social status, celebrity, money, power, turf and control have been rendered. Most of us are not so lucky. Which may well be fortunate, for most of us.

MoDo speaks for herself, and her cohorts; her courtier class. Such people, are very much different from you, and very much different from me. Too much time on their hands, too much money; too much solipsism.