Archive for October 9th, 2010

Stimulating Out Of Encroaching Nothingness

October 9, 2010

TIME TO STIMULATE FOR REAL, AND GET READY FOR THE WORST

Abstract: I am presently reading "Obama’s Wars", the troubling description of the Obama’s White House by Bob Woodward, of Watergate’s fame (Woodward forced Nixon’s resignation).. As Woodward puts it on the book’s jacket:"…Verbatim quotes from secret debates and White House strategy sessions… reveal a government in conflict, often consumed with nasty infighting and fundamental disputes."

I assert that the cracked fundaments go all across the USA, including through Obama’s mind. How can one simultaneously venerate Reagan’s world view, and generate a change one can believe in?

It is as if the captain of the Titanic longed to move back to the past, when his boat is already half under water, and celebrated how good it used to feel, including scrapping along the iceberg. Well celebrating scrapping along the ice, is false, pointless, and a dissipation of motivation: Reagan’s spirit helped hit the iceberg, it was a disaster to scrape along, wake up! No wonder it’s getting nasty out there.

The on-going economic disaster wrecking the West has been caused by the plutocratic model, stealthily launched by Nixon as he funded the private HMO system, using tax dollars. The idea was to replace the primary motive of making a good job in health care, by the primary motive of making a good buck. It was a change of motivation. The economy, and then the society was forced to follow.

Things got really crazy under Reagan, a culturally deficient puppet, animated by brain envy. However, Reagan is widely, and wildly admired by his supporters for… having reformed, or more exactly destroyed, the USSR, which is indicative of their mentally exalted state.

So here comes Obama, having called Reagan "transformative". Obama is a "bipartisan", which may mean that he is Reagan, half of the time. In any case, as half Reagan, Obama’s stimulus followed the advice of Reagan’s ex-adviser, Lawrence Summers. The stimulus was made into something to persevere with the status quo ante. The part for jobs, the infrastructure stimulus, was purely symbolic: 25 billion dollars, per year. Over two years.

To soothe those who elected him, Obama claimed, using smoke, mirrors, and reading what Mondale called "IDIOT BOARDS" that the stimulus was 765 billion dollars or so.

Politically that allowed the neoconservatives to claim that an enormous stimulus was used, and did not help the economy to create jobs. And that entrapped Obama.

Obama compounded the situation with his health care "reform". In truth it was not a reform, but, once again, more of the same. As usual, the USA is unique. It uses a health care system based on employment, which makes no sense.

Obama could have started to change away from that, by pushing "MEDICARE FOR ALL". But he did not. Instead he spread obscurely new costs incurring to businesses over the next several years, as Obamacare deploys. Unsurprisingly, businesses hold close to their wallet, not knowing what’s next.

But let’s not forget Obama is bipartisan; next year, with his republican congress, Obama will see the parts of his "historic health care bill" not friendly to the health care plutocracy go to the birds. One does not know if he was clever enough to anticipate this, as he spent forever negotiating in the backroom with the rich boys.

Obama, and the USA, need to be ready for the worst, and not just in economy. After 65 years of an alliance with Muslim Fundamentalists, and equipping them with hundreds of thermonuclear weapons (!), this means that nuclear war is close at hand. The institutions of the West, and its democracies, need to be ready. And that starts with the minds, and intellectual curiosity, what Ronald Reagan could neither muster, nor appreciate.

***

***

REAGAN, OR STUPIDITY UNCHAINED:

The USA is in a strange time warp. It is, along with two or three dictatorships, the country which has not ratified the rights of children. It is the only country in the world which still uses the confusing unit system of the Roman empire. Both points, and countless similar ones, are overlooked by average Americans, and their intelligentsia. However they are symptoms of civilizational senility: even when an advantage is obvious, and everybody else does it, the USA cannot come on board. Even the advantage of infrastructure seems to have escaped the USA. All the infrastructure seems to be about the military, and its bases all around the world.

All over the world, most of the serious infrastructure was the result of government programs, and so it has been, for millennia. In the USA, the banking system, the canal system, railroads, dams, the freeway system, and access to water were allowed only under government fiat, by giving the appropriate "eminent domain".

The railroad network was a public-private partnership, with the government massively investing, and legislating, in a way that private industry could never have replaced.

Nowadays, somewhat similar programs are used with private security firms, as the imperial machine of the USA attempts to take a greater control of the Middle East. For example the withdrawal of combat troops planned by Bush and implemented by Obama uses 7,000 taxpayers paid private mercenaries protecting the state Department operations in Iraq alone. At least that is what the government of the USA reveals. The truth may well be worse.

In the 1980s, American politics got tuned on its head by Reagan. The reason to talk about Reagan is that Obama called Reagan "transformative", a qualificative he did not use for any other president of the USA.

Reagan, an uneducated actor was all too happy with himself for starting the destruction of the California University system, at the time the best in the world (in relative quality and quantity).

Once elected governor, Mr. Reagan set the educational and intellectual tone for his administration, and the USA, for the next three decades, by:

a. calling for ending free tuition for California college and university students,

b. demanding a 20% across-the-board cuts in higher education funding,[1]

c. repeatedly slashing construction funds for state campuses

d. engineering the firing of Clark Kerr, the popular President of the University of California, and

e. declaring that the state "should not subsidize intellectual curiosity."[2]

Nowadays UNSUSTAINABLE tuitions are imposed to students in the public university system, and very few Californians can access the University of California and the State University of California. Let alone that those admitted are guaranteed financial ruin as their future income could never pay for the incurred debts.

The universities turn in great part from foreign students who come to study, and go back where they come from, enlightened and wiser. So the USA has, on top of everything else, an increasing wisdom and knowledge deficit… Once again, having greatly originated during Reagan’s reign.

Since the USA, as the rest of the West, will only be able to come out of its deep crisis through more, higher level education and research, Reagan’s vengeance against education, and the intellect, condemns the USA to increasing mediocrity, and an increased economic and social crisis.

Reagan also more than tripled the national debt of the USA incurred in the first two centuries of that country.

Reagan later developed Alzheimer. Confronted to his unconstitutional conspiracy with Iran’s theocracy, he claimed that "he could not recall". It is now known that Alzheimer develops years, even decades before it becomes obvious. Thus the question: was the USA set up on its present course by a mentally deficient patient?

***

REAGAN TRANSFORMED THE USA INTO A PUMPKIN:

Sorry, I hope Obama is not going to start crying. Reagan was a would be cow-boy, confronting a time when the USA was running out of gas from the lift it had got from the "American Century" after World War Two. Tricks work, but not forever.

Nowadays, there are more European corporations in the top 50 than American corporations (differently from, say, 1960, when there were none). European corporations work according to a strongly attenuated plutocratic model (for example, German corporations have union representatives on the boards, by law; French corporate executives, as all Europeans executives, are paid a small fraction of their American colleagues, and are a small fraction of their physical size, too).

Reagan made the mistake French economy and finance minister Colbert had warned against as self obviously deeply erroneous, three centuries before. Colbert had started his career as inspector general of the armies, so he was fully aware of the military threats, especially after France successfully concluded 150 years of quasi continuous war with the Spanish and Habsburg empires (a war that saved England, and gave birth to the Netherlands, besides breaking the Catholic Inquisition’s attempt at world domination).

Reagan was used to free money in the sport commenting and movies industry (he got a huge ranch for co-acting with a young chimpanzee). He really had no idea how the world worked. Predecessors such as Carter, Nixon, LBJ, Kennedy, Eisenhower, let alone the Roosevelts, or even Hoover, had varied, but firm and deep experiences of the world. All of Reagan’s experience, as a governor, was in DECONSTRUCTION.

Reagan was indeed "transformative", as Obama called him while professing his admiration. He transformed the political-economic system of the USA from construction, to destruction. A pause from his able successor, George Bush, who had condemned Reagan’s economics as "Voodoo economics", was not enough to stop the slide.

***

WHEN WAR IN AFGHANISTAN WAS STILL PROFITABLE:

Except Reagan knew, from the movies, that the military was important to project the power of the USA. So he spent a lot militarily. And pursued the usual plots with the Salafists, the Muslim Fundamentalists: he engaged the war in Afghanistan into high gear, by giving to the Salafists advanced weapons, reorganizing their armies, and sending over a Wahhabist expeditionary corps headed by Osama bin Laden. In Iran, Reagan renewed secretly the alliance with the Salafists headed by Ayatollah Khomeiny.

You want to see Obama’s stimulus? Look at AFGHANISTAN. That is where Obama is stimulating, at the rate of several billion dollars, a WEEK. Even G. W. Bush saw the trap, and was not that dumb as to fall into it. I am reading "Obama’s wars" thoroughly, in the hope of finding what he thought he set himself up to accomplish there. Besides taking himself for Alexander the Great. But Alexander conquered Afghanistan in his twenties.

However, extending the war in Afghanistan is in the big Reagan tradition: expand the empire militarily. Do whatever; feed bin Laden, train him, make him meaner, more efficient. That’s what Reagan did. Meanwhile give Khomeiny, secretly, the weapons and replacement parts to fight Hussein (while supporting the latter’s war). That’s what Reagan did.

When Reagan started to dismantle the deep structures of the USA, the USA was at the peak of its powers. But Reagan’s actions made the USA, literally, crazy. Reagan had closed mental hospitals in California and then he reduced the Federal mental health budget. In the end, mental patients ended in the streets, and represent a danger to this day.

Reagan effectively opposed additional funding for basic education. This led to painful increases in local taxes and the deterioration of California’s public schools. That, in turn led to a stratospheric increase in property taxes, and, this, in turn, to a blocking of these by proposition 13, which in turn became a way for (plutocratically owned) corporations to pay neglectable taxes (by arranging transfers without sales, which homeowners cannot do).

Mr. Reagan’s actions had political appeal to his core voters constituency. These so called "conservatives" ought to have been called the terminators. Their dream was the plutocratic USA towards which they have been marching ever since, with the determination of mastodons ambling into bitumen swamps…

***

OBAMA STIMULUS: ONLY 25 BILLION DOLLARS IN 2009:

Only infrastructure spending creates real jobs that private industry can leverage in massive economic activity.

France has arguably the world’s best infrastructure, and the recession was much less there than, say, Germany, or the USA. However the French state spent 50 billion dollars on infrastructure projects in 2009 alone. Some was for repairing cathedrals, but some was for engineering work on high speed train lines. France had by far the shallowest recession of the big industrial developed countries. Oh, yes, in case you asked, the People Republic of China embarked on a four dimensional astronomically massive stimulus, and China’s growth barely slowed down for a moment from its double digit clip.

Some of Obama’s stimulus was the AMT exemption, which happens every year, since ever. That was about 10% of Obama’s so called stimulus, and was nothing of the sort, since it would have happened anyway, as it always does. About 50% of Obama’s stimulus was to compensate for the collapse in state spending (many states are forbidden, by law, to run deficit). So it was a stimulus in the sense that CPR is a stimulus.

And so on. In other words, the Obama administration lied. The real stimulus, the money spent to create jobs, was only 50 billions, what Obama spends in 5 months in Afghanistan. Moreover it was spread over 2 years. So, basically, in a country with a terrible and collapsing infrastructure, Obama spent, per year, about 10% of what the French right wing conservative president spent.

The overall imperial military budget of the USA is about a TRILLION dollar. As much as the Federal budget a few years ago. The USA is losing its mind.

***

ROOSEVELT WAS TRICKY, BUT THE WORLD MOVED ON:

What is the idea behind spending so much on military adventures? Reagan’s admirers misread history by believing that they brought the USSR down. In truth, it is the self contradictions of the "communist" dictatorships which brought them down. But the psychological affect on the neoconservatives is that they believe that Reagan running up the deficit to serve the hyper rich and the military industrial complex had a spectacularly positive effect.

The plot engineered by Roosevelt in 1945, was beautifully simple and efficient: the USA would ally itself with the Salafists throughout North Africa, Arabia, the Middle east and South Asia. In exchange for oil and empire. It was an alliance of obsolete Islamist with Washington against European secularism. It worked like a charm: the USA got oil and empire (neofascists love to claim that it is not so because, they point out disingenuously that the oil goes mostly to Europe. But oil is fungible, and Europeans are forced to buy it through American owned companies).

Something that worked well for 65 years is hard to quit. So the USA perseveres diabolically with that crafty (albeit immoral) path pioneered by president Roosevelt.

The reason why Roosevelt’s cheap and dirty trick is not working anymore is that it profited the USA, and the USA alone…plus a smattering of its agents. More and more leaders and people understand this. Ex-American mercenaries, such as bin Laden or the Pakistani ISI, Saddam Hussein, or Iran’s Shiites, not only understand this, and the role they played, but they see that the USA is running out of military, economic and imperial overstretch, and they watch the wind turn. And as it turns, they turn. Against the USA. So the price of empire is increasing, it seems, exponentially.

Such giant spending to lose a war is a sign, and a reason, to lose everything. Actually Obama alludes to precisely that in the book "Obama’s war".

Now Obama is proposing to double his infrastructure spending, by spending a further 50 billion dollar on it. It is also too little, too late, as I said many times in the past. With more than 1.2 million construction workers unemployed or sub-employed, it is a no brainer that it should be done.

***

MASSIVE BANKSTERS’ STIMULUS, COURTESY USA GOVERNMENT:

All this is peanuts. 50 billion dollars over 2 years is nothing in a 15,000 billion dollar economy.

Obama saved the banksters using taxpayers’ money, and the health of the entire American economy, spending nearly 4 TRILLION dollars doing so. Then the banksters turned around, and stimulated themselves with 150 billion dollars in BONUSES, just for the year 2009. Where is the screaming about that?

***

EVEN SUPER SMART PEOPLE FALL FOR PLUTOCRACY:

Even some very intelligent people understand nothing of this. I was reading in the blog of Terence Tao, a world famous young mathematician who got the Fields Medal four years ago. Many people view Tao as the world’s most intelligent person. However Tao haughty naivety declared that:

"A dramatic contrast between worst-case scenario costs and actual costs: the infamous Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) from 2008-2010, popularly viewed as a $700 billion bailout to banks, begins winding down this week (with no further outlays permitted), and is now projected to actually have a net cost about $50 billion; when compared against the stabilisation effect it had on the national and world economy, it may in fact end up being one of the most cost-effective of such programs ever…. in the best case scenario, TARP even turns a modest profit.

For comparison, the Savings and Loans bailouts in the late 1980s had a net cost to the US government of about $124 billion (or about $200 billion on today’s dollars). … Even if the program does end up not actually costing taxpayers a penny, it is still likely to be remembered, however inaccurately, as a massive handout to the banks."

When one sees someone as smart as Mr. Tao falls straight into the mammoth trap of the grossest propaganda set up by the financial plutocracy, with colossal credulity, one can only feel sorry for Obama. It has got to be pretty lonely at the White House.

I replied this, in the hope of educating Mr. Tao (an icy silence forever followed):

The claimed slight cost of the bank management rescue is sheer propaganda. Like all good lies, it can be claimed to be the truth, in the sense that the funds labeled TARP are indeed evolving as described.

However, the real cost so far, in the USA alone is more like 4 trillion dollars (says the government TARP general inspector, Neil Barofsky ). But, for example, when the government lends to banks short, at close to zero percent, and then allows the banks to borrow long, at around 4%, thus making arbitrarily large profits, that is not viewed as TARP. But it is direct cost to society nevertheless.

There are several other similar programs supporting banks at enormous cost, which involve the central bank ("Fed") buying assets from banks at outrageous prices, and do not come under the TARP label.

This on-going enormous support undermines the economy of the USA, by directing funds which would be otherwise available for more constructive pursuits. For example the real stimulus program of the USA in 2009 and 2010 was only 50 billion dollars, roughly a third of the bonuses paid by banks, thanks to the aforesaid support programs, in 2009, alone.

Although the payment systems of the banks ought to have been saved, and nationalized, the bank holding companies ought to have been dismantled, and their management, prosecuted. Nationalization would have had several benefits, similar to those of the 1990s Scandinavian banking crisis, and would have allowed to restart lending.

Another point that is not just a detail: we are in Great Depression III. Just look at the median real income. In the USA, it has gone down now for thirty years (and we are just warming up). The short and brutal Great Depression II, in the 1930s, did not affect that measure to the same extent.

Plutocracy is nasty, and it is crafty. Or at least crafty enough for even intelligent people to be misled by it.

***

ENOUGH WITH CHILDISH GAMES:

The governor of New Jersey decided to stop the construction of a needed tunnel to Manhattan. After Krugman wrote an appropriate article, yesterday, he rescinded that decision. That is how well some of these clowns take their decisions: as if it were not an obviously stupid decision, and Mr. Chris Christie had not considered the most basic facts, before Krugman pointed them out to him. But we are still waiting for Obama spending money to accelerate the train from Washington to Boston. True, he and his family fly around above the peons.

In Europe, Russia, China, massive High Speed Rail networks are built. They are fast, secure, ultra efficient, and produce very little pollution and CO2. Moreover, they can run on nuclear and, or, renewable energy. An important point as the price of fossil fuels will skyrocket in the proximal future. Existing, already commercially deployed technology would allow to cross the USA in 10 hours, on steel wheels (BTW, maglev is a useless gimmick, technological pointless, dangerous, and commercially impossible; it cannot compete with steel wheels).

So the USA could do this. High Speed Lines are immensely expensive and high tech. The cost of the short line from Marseilles to Nice is evaluated around 23 billion Euros (30 billion dollars). The work is launched, to be completed in a decade, and involves engineering to study exactly the trajectory through mountains, valleys, and cities with 5 miles (= 8 kilometers) radius for the turns at 250 mph = 400 km/h, trajectories, bridges, tunnels, sunk sections, and the attending claims of eminent domains have all to be carefully determined!

There are many other massive works to be engaged to make the USA more efficient. The USA metro areas used to be crisscrossed by very efficient electric railways and tramways systems. Automobile based plutocracy bought them, and destroyed them, to force people into cars. Many of these ought to be rebuilt. because, once again, the price of fossils will skyrocket.

Besides the tunnel the republican neoconservative want to stop, there is a lot to do around most metro area of the USA (Silicon Valley does not have a subway yet, for example, although the commute there is miserable). Here are most of the major works around New York City:

PATH Tunnel Opened 1909
Holland Tunnel 1927
North River Tunnel 1910
Lincoln Tunnel 1937
GW Bridge 1931

Notice the dates: Imperial fascist Japan made a big mistake to attack the USA, when it was a nation of engineers. Now the USA is led by banksters and fast money operators, spending about 5 billion dollars a year, buying their obsequious servants in politics.

***

DEMOCRACY IS BEST TO HANDLE DEMONOCRACY:

Now what of the big picture? What of nuclear armed Pakistan? Well, that’s the baby from the policy of making friends with the Salafists. It’s not Obama’s fault (for once!). But Obama ought to explain to the American people the mess, and the threat. So that no one gets too surprised if some Salafists got lucky, and nuclear bombed the West.

Obama told Woodward something all Americans, and all of those attached to democracy, worldwide, ought to meditate: "We can absorb a terrorist attack. We will do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever… we absorbed it and we are stronger… A potential GAME CHANGER would be a nuclear weapon in the hands of terrorists, blowing up a major American city."

What a cool guy.

“Game Changer”? Oh, sorry, I did not know it was all a game. And, after the game has changed, then what? What does Obama exactly mean? That, after a nuclear strike, not even the appearance of democracy will survive? That the game will change, and fascism will be absolute? Obama should learn to explain to people what is on his mind, instead of just reading what ex-Vice President Walter Mondale called his "IDIOT BOARDS". Some of the people writing some of the stuff Obama is reading like a smile machine are not even 30 year old, with little background and culture, but for plotting and blahblahbing around, and it shows.

In case of nuclear strike, and one is likely, my deeply considered recommendation is this: TOTAL WAR. Do what was done with Nazism, and do it faster. No regime does total war better than total democracy. So no need to allude to a the instauration of fascism. If national defense is what one really wants, democracy is best.

Now, of course, if one really wanted to impose a fascist plutocracy, to start with, a nuclear strike would be indeed an excellent pretext for a change of game. Maybe Obama should explain himself more…

***

Patrice Ayme

***

The French republic announced, a few years ago, that, in case of a massive terrorist attack, it may retaliate with a nuclear strike. Intriguingly, Pakistan protested, as if it knew all too well who France was talking to, and then promptly arrested and deported to France a Pakistani national accused of the murder of a French woman.

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/


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Patterns of Meaning

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Skulls in the Stars

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Footnotes to Plato

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Patrice Ayme's Thoughts

Striving For Ever Better Thinking. Humanism Is Intelligence Unleashed. From Intelligence All Ways, Instincts & Values Flow, Even Happiness. History and Science Teach Us Not Just Humility, But Power, Smarts, And The Ways We Should Embrace. Naturam Primum Cognoscere Rerum

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ianmillerblog

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Defense Issues

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Polyhedra, tessellations, and more.

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Writer, Editor, Berliner

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Artificial Turf At French Bilingual School Berkeley

Artificial Turf At French Bilingual School Berkeley

Patterns of Meaning

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West Hunter

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat

GrrrGraphics on WordPress

www.grrrgraphics.com

Skulls in the Stars

The intersection of physics, optics, history and pulp fiction

Footnotes to Plato

because all (Western) philosophy consists of a series of footnotes to Plato

Patrice Ayme's Thoughts

Striving For Ever Better Thinking. Humanism Is Intelligence Unleashed. From Intelligence All Ways, Instincts & Values Flow, Even Happiness. History and Science Teach Us Not Just Humility, But Power, Smarts, And The Ways We Should Embrace. Naturam Primum Cognoscere Rerum

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Writer, Editor, Berliner

coelsblog

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