Thursday, March 20, 2008

Paul Scofield: A Man For All Seasons

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

The greatest Shakespearean actor "of his generation" is dead at the age of 86. For another generation, Paul Scofield would become the living embodiment of a saint --Sir Thomas More, who is known to us in the painting by Holbein and more immediately in a portrayal of him in the motion picture --A Man For All Seasons.

More --more accurately Scofield's portrayal of More --has never been more important. We live in an age, not unlike that of Henry VIII. It is an age in which not only allegiances are tested but what it means to be human. This film changed my life.
When a man takes an oath, Meg, he’s holding his own self in his own hands. Like water. (He cups his hands.) And if he opens his fingers then —— he needn't hope to find himself again. Some men are capable of this, but I’d be loath to think your father one of them."

--Sir Thomas More, Portrayed by Paul Scofield, A Man For All Seasons

It sounds trite to write of Scofield that he brought the words of screenwriter Robert Bolt to life. He was More, a man who chose to die rather than to lie to himself and live.

Scenes from A Man For All Seasons Starring Paul Scofield

Paul Scofield, the British stage legend often hailed as the greatest Shakespearean actor of his generation and an Oscar winner for his soaring performance in 1966's A Man for All Seasons, has died. He was 86.

His agent, Rosalind Chatto, told reporters Scofield passed away peacefully Wednesday in a hospital near his home in southern England. He was suffering from leukemia and had been ill for some time.

Scofield was considered one of the giants of the British theater during its post-World War II heyday, playing virtually every major Shakespearean role and conquering both the West End and Broadway with his authoritative presence, weather-beaten countenance and low, rumbling voice.

But it wasn't until he originated the part of rebellious Tudor statesman Sir Thomas More in the 1960 London stage production of Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons that Scofield finally earned the international fame he so richly deserved. He reprised the role a year later along the Great White Way, nabbing a Tony for his efforts.

Four years later, director Fred Zinneman brought the thesp back for the film version, which garnered six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and a Best Actor Oscar for Scofield.

--Oscar Winner Paul Scofield Dies, Josh Grossberg

More defended the obedience to "`s law, not God`s". That makes More a secular humanist
Roper: So now you`d give the Devil benefit of law!

More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get at the Devil?

Roper: I`d cut down every law in England to do that.

More: Oh! (advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you --where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? (He leaves him) This country’s planted thick with laws --man's laws, not God's [emphasis mine]--and if you cut them down --and you’re just the man to do it --d`you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I`d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety`s sake.
Of course, the dialogue above was written by Robert Bolt, a writer of genius. But his words were graced by Scofield.
It is enough to say that Scofield's work will live on. He will have become as he was in life -- A Man For All Seasons. Adieu, Paul.

Media Conglomerates, Mergers, Concentration of Ownership, Global Issues, Updated: January 02, 2009




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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Darrow, Darwin, and Dayton

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

Darwinism is correct. Social Darwinism is utter bunkum. Not surprisingly, the American right-wing despises Darwinism but, inexplicably, embraces Social Darwinism with messianic ferver.

Social Darwinism is at the very root of an impending economic collapse but it won't be the best or brightest who emerge unscathed on the other side! Social Darwinism is the survival of the most ruthless. Real Darwinism is reviled because it disproves the lies the rich tell themselves to help them sleep at night.

The right wing benefits when issues are obscured and when enough dust is kicked up by "intelligent design" to obscure the real issues and various strawmen to boot.

Social Darwinism does not follow from "Darwinism".  Worse, it attributes to Darwin positions Darwin never took. The term "survival of the fittest" was never used by Darwin. It has been variously attributed, but Hofstadter traces the phrase to 19th Century American robber barons, rail road men making fortunes connecting one coast with another.
Railroad executive Chauncy Depew asserted that the guests of the great dinners and public banquets of New York City represented the survival of the fittest of all who came in search of fortune. They were the ones with superior abilities. Likewise railroad magnate James J. Hill defended the railroad companies by saying their fortunes were determined according to the law of survival of the fittest.
         —Hofstadter, Richard; 1959; Social Darwinism in American Thought, Braziller; New York.

These were most certainly the "robber barons" who wished to be photographed wearing laurel wreaths, pretending to be emperors. Elsewhere, the term is attributed to Herbert Spencer who inspired a generation of radicalized, latter-day robber barons. Few of them evinced the "...quality of mercy" so immortalized with but a few words by Shakespeare --'The quality of mercy is not strain'd, It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven". By contrast ...
[Herbert] Spencer said that diseases "are among the penalties Nature has attached to ignorance and imbecility, and should not, therefore, be tampered with." He even faulted private organizations like the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children because they encouraged legislation.
Social Darwinism and American Laissez-faire Capitalism
A fallacious corollary to "Social Darwinism" is often phrased this way: the rich are rich because they are better, work harder and are more intelligent. George W. Bush put it more crudely: “The poor are poor because they are lazy!” In the same vein, the conservative economist Joseph A. Schumpeter likened recessions to a "cold douche". One wonders: who is "douched" and how? More importantly: who decides who gets 'douched'? Recently, who decided that New Orleans would be left to its fate and the goons of Blackwater?

Currently, the nation faces economic calamity. However fallaciously, you can be sure that the right wing will not only benefit from the misfortunes of millions, they will try to figure out a way to blame them. It's the right wing way.

Spencer believed that because society was evolving, government intervention ought to be minimal in social and political life. It didn't matter to Spencer that government is but a function, indeed, a creation of society and responsible to it. Seen in that light, efforts by privilege to blame the poor for their own rapacious and often dishonest or incompetent behaviors are absurd. Nevertheless, American capitalism remains greatly influenced by Spencer. The 'model' is still found in textbooks for Economics 101. It describes an ideal of American capitalism --“rational man” making rational decisions in a free and --presumably --rational market. But, in practice, economic decisions may or may not be rational and the free market exists only hypothetically.

The market has been anything but rational and often manipulated by those who have the power to do so. Enron, before its collapse, is just one prominent example. Because the 'theories' of Spencer and, earlier, Adam Smith, often stress the 'practical', it is forgotten that Spencer and Smith were, themselves, 'theorists'. Every model we make of the world of sense experience is 'theoretical' by definition. The word "theory" is either misunderstood by the right wing or deliberately perverted for the propaganda value.

The word 'theory' is wrongly used as a pejorative. The right wing is inconsistent. 'Theories' from Spencer and, more recently, Milton Friedman or Arthur Laffer are conveniently embraced while 'theories' from everyone else are called 'mere theory'. Last time I checked, 'right wing theories' were still 'theories' though most often and in reality they are simply frauds, lies, scams and 'white collar heists'.

Having waged war on the word "theory", the right wing likes to couple it with another word similarly victimized by right wing propaganda. That word is "conspiracy" --a perfectly good word, in fact, a legal term about which there is a venerable body of case law, thousands of SCOTUS decisions and some 400 years of common law. Given techniques perfected by Herr Goebbels for Adolph Hitler, the combination of "conspiracy" and "theory" is lethal. Nevertheless, the loss of these words to an adult vocabulary cripples the thought process itself, indeed, intellectual endeavor of any sort.

It must be noted that every great scientist was or is a theorist. Einstein was a "theorist" and so was Newton. Too much is made of 'right' and 'wrong'. It is a mistake to conclude, for example, that Einstein 'replaced' Newton. In fact, Einstein rests upon Newton's shoulders. Einstein is Newton seen from another angle. Einstein may be thought of as the hypothesis that Newton himself refused to make. [See: The Man Who Changed the Universe] Einstein does not refute Newton, he enlarges upon both Newton and Galileo. Galileo's equations describing the acceleration of falling bodies anticipates the very curvature of space-time.

Einstein has been confirmed no more times than Darwin; Newton is close enough for mundane applications or "government work" and Einstein will one day help us navigate the galaxy. Significantly, neither "theory" has been challenged in court —though both theories may very well be replaced one day by a "theory of everything", a TOE. Only theories not liked by the right wing wind up in court, an absurd place to settle questions of science in any case. Law courts are inadequate to decide questions better resolved by observation and experiment, not rhetoric, motion, case law. See: Darrow, Darwin & Dayton, the video at the end of this article.

There is a political agenda and a constituency behind the campaign of attacks on Darwinism. This constituency supports Intelligent Design for the same reasons the great rail road robber barons found support in the work of Herbert Spencer. The continued economic superiority of an entire class depends upon the widespread public acceptance of religious and/or ideological views which justify the existence of 'superior status'. Hitler, likewise, found in pseudo-science and mythology much justification for his anti-semitic crusades, his campaign of genocides, his wars of naked aggression.

Theories are often never of a final form —nor should they be! Unlike ideology, real science is self-correcting as new facts emerge from research. Darwin's theories were not only confirmed by Mendel, they accommodated Mendel which, in turn, strengthened Darwin. The science of genetics and the discovery of "mutations" confirm Darwin beyond any reasonable doubt. Every cowboy knows the truth of Darwin if he's never heard of him: "Never kill a slow roach; you just improve the breed!" As succinct a description of natural selection as I've ever heard. Likewise, every farmer who has bred for specific traits knows the truth of Darwin.

Future discoveries, like those of Mendel, may modify our views of Darwin, but will not discount them. Our view of Einstein is already modified but he is confirmed in many ways, notably at Alamogordo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki.

Light, indeed, bends around stars and other 'gravity lenses', time slows at near light speeds, space-time is a four dimensional continuum. More to the point, no one has ever sued because Einstein's theories were at odds with a particular dogma or a political agenda. The right wing's disingenuous position is analogous to that of the Pope who forced Galileo to recant. I was critical of Ron Paul because his economic thinking was stuck in 19th Century mud. The "greater" right wing, however, is stuck in the 17th.

It is certain that no future discovery will confirm "intelligent design"! Theories explain "facts" but facts can often confirm good theories, Over the years facts have tended to confirm both Darwin and Einstein.

Doggerel is beyond confirmation of any kind. A.J.Ayer defined 'meaning' itself as that property of a 'sentence' that makes it subject to empirical confirmation. The theoretical core of ID is not meaningful and most certainly not of a type that would have been recognized by the philosophers upon whom Western Civilization is based.

Intelligent design is of a religious nature and people have a right to believe it. Treating Intelligent design as science is dishonest. As science, ID raises more questions than it explains. Most obviously: who designed the designer? ID assumes a designer to 'explain' creation but cites 'creation' to prove the existence of a designer. This is the classic circulus en probando fallacy.

People are free to believe fallacies, but they must not be free to impose them upon other people —especially at tax payer expense! A fact, for example, is the equation describing the acceleration of falling objects; examples of theory are both the Newtonian and the Einsteinian view of "gravitation" —seen differently by both. The entire science of genetics confirms Darwin who, interestingly, did not have the benefit of Mendel's research when he wrote Origin of the Species and the The Descent of Man. It was Mendel's research that described the very mechanism by which Darwin’s “traits” are passed on to succeeding generations. Accurate predictions are, in themselves, evidence in support of theories. [See: Evolution in Action, Julian Huxley]

Critics of Darwin have said that no one has yet produced an entirely new specie by selection. But they have indeed done just that! Consider wheat! Wheat does not grow in the wild. Related to ancient grasses, wheat is clearly the result of an ancient application of "artificial selection". Had wheat evolved naturally, it would be found growing wild like prairie grass. But it didn't and isn't.

Social Darwinism has harmed mankind. It rationalizes and justifies the perpetual and deliberate impoverishment of large segments of our society. The GOP will support this as a matter of policy so long as someone like Ronald Reagan can, nevertheless, make them "feel good about themselves". It is bad enough that this callous disregard for human life is fallaciously and insidiously associated with Darwin. That it is also a bald-face lie, a misstatement of Darwin, is unconscionable. We have thus reduced the philosophical basis for the American right wing to a single line from one of the world's great writers, Charles Dickens, whose character, Scrooge, epitomizes the American right wing:
"Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisons...then let them die and decrease the surplus population."
—Scrooge, A Christmas Carol

Monday, March 17, 2008

How the GOP Will Benefit From Impending Economic Collapse

Republicans benefit from the fact that recessions are class conscious, affecting worse those who can least afford them. An era of highly leveraged US economic expansion and empire is about to come crashing down and swept away. Count on the GOP to make out like bandits.

It seems like ages ago, the US was at peace, there was a budget surplus, the economy was growing, and the unemployment rate was very low. But not everyone was happy. There was an entire group of people who harbor not good, but ill will; an entire class wished for bad times and got it.

Until now, China had an interest in keeping the US ponzi scheme propped up --they sold billions to US citizens via Wal-Mart, the economic Kudzu that ate America. But since a Chinese sub popped up undetected in the middle of the US fifth fleet, it has been apparent that the honeymoon is over. China now leads the world in dumping dollars. Everywhere, it seems, it has become a habit.

If this were mere recession staring back at us from a fun house mirror, it might be shrugged off. After all, the GOP has always loved recessions and benefited from them. A clue is found in the work of conservative Austrian-born economist Joseph Schumpeter who regaled his Harvard students in the mid-1930s with a pithy observation about how economic depressions actually benefit certain social and economic classes.
Chentleman, [sic ] you are vorried about the depression. You should not be. For capitalism, a depression is a good cold douche.

--Joseph Schumpeter, Economist, Harvard University Lecture, circa 1930s

A pattern emerged with the ascension of Ronald Reagan: the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer. Unfair tax cuts have a lot to do with that, but, also, the nature of recessions themselves. Everyone who is not an initiate into the cult of gopperism gets douched. The administrations of Reagan, Bush and Bush are like lab experiments that prove the hypothesis: GOP policies are designed to benefit an increatingly tiny elite or, as Bush called it, "my base."

This is no mere recession but complete collapse. Mephistophes has come knocking.
As feared, foreign bond holders have begun to exercise a collective vote of no confidence in the devaluation policies of the US government. The Federal Reserve faces a potential veto of its rescue measures.

Asian, Mid East and European investors stood aside at last week's auction of 10-year US Treasury notes. "It was a disaster," said Ray Attrill from 4castweb. "We may be close to the point where the uglier consequences of benign neglect towards the currency are revealed."

The share of foreign buyers ("indirect bidders") plummeted to 5.8pc, from an average 25pc over the last eight weeks. On the Richter Scale of unfolding dramas, this matches the death of Bear Stearns.

Rightly or wrongly, a view has taken hold that Washington is cynically debasing the coinage, hoping to export its day of reckoning through beggar-thy-neighbour policies.

--Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Foreign investors veto Fed rescue, UK Telegraph

Bush, meanwhile, seems unconcerned, perhaps, like Nero, fiddling as Rome burns. Then again, the GOP 'class' has always benefited from US recessions, depressions, and other economic catastrophes.
  1. Recessions, though not caused by declining stock markets, are always accompanied and often predicted by a plunging stock market. Republicans sell out at the peak, taking their profits. Enough selling will trigger the plunge; less knowledgeable investors begin to follow suit from fear but too late. Last man out loses.

  2. Having taken their profits on the upside, a depressed market is but an opportunity for the rich Republican to get back in at lower prices. Guess who sells at the lower price: the poor schmuck who is 180 degrees out of phase and can only dream of being a rich Republican. In reality, those he aspires to join are exploiting him.
  3. Very knowledgeable investors make money "selling short", buying "put options". These investors get peak prices for stocks even as the price declines. Illegal insider information is executed with "calls" and "puts." The perpetrators of 911, for example, made millions, possibly billions, selling short the stocks of UA and AA. I defy anyone to come up with an 'innocent' explanation. The recipients of those profits had guilty foreknowledge of 911. The name 'Buzz' Krongard comes in connection with a known terrorist organization: the CIA.

    Now --a planned financial meltdown might have presented the same opportunities. Historically, 'elites' have always emerged richer, stronger from recessions.

    On the other side of Ronald Reagan's recession of some two years, the rich had gotten richer while the middle class was all but wiped out. The ill-effects of that recession are still seen in the decline of middle class neighborhoods, the permanent loss of manufacturing base and the jobs it created.The profits and volume were most certainly outside norms, proof that those executing the options had precise foreknowledge of the attacks. Those making those profits had "guilty knowledge" of the attacks; they were at the very heart of a murderous conspiracy.
  4. Unemployment always goes up in a recession. At the end of a longer recession, companies have the luxury of hiring from a larger labor pool at lower wages and/or salaries. Some companies --citing hard times --may reduce benefits, cut vacation or sick time.

    Big business must hate good times; it is only during times of full employment that workers have any leverage at all. Offhand I can think of only two times in history that have come close: the Clinton years, and, interestingly, Europe after the Black Death. The labor supply had been depleted by plague. Employers were often forced to accede to worker demands for better conditions, money, a place to live! Serfs had been freed and it marked the beginning of the end for Feudalism and set the stage for 'corporate feudalism', an age in which we still labor and suffer.
  5. Admittedly, many businesses go belly-up during recessions. While lip service is given to 'free markets' and Adam Smith's 'invisible hand', die hard robber barons hate the 'free market'. They prefer 'monopoly' when they can create one and 'oligopoly' when they can't. Free competition among many sellers is the last thing they want. Recessions are welcomed. It's the 'cold douche', a ruthless flush, so beloved by Schumpeter and the robber barons of American capitalism.
  6. Don't expect recessions to bring down prices. More often, higher prices are the light that is seen at the end of the long, dark tunnel. In other words, those businesses fortunate enough to survive a 'downturn' are in the enviable position of raising prices on the other side. Higher prices benefit businesses that manage, even with government help, to stay in business during a recession. So much for laissez-faire capitalism.

    Those fortunate businesses now make more money per unit produced and will do so with fewer employees. The world is not so kind to everyone else, primarily smaller businesses and entrepreneurs, freelancers, and worker bees.

    Prices, we learned in Economics 101, are determined by supply and demand. If the demand is such that the market is quite willing to pay any price for it (prescription drugs, gasoline, certain rents) then demand is said to be inelastic.

  7. At the expense of over-simplifying, consumer demand is the arbiter of price only in markets characterized by diffuse competition. Recessions militate against a market of this sort, weeding out all but 'privileged' businesses, primarily those with juicy government contracts or GOP cronies in office. Only in the textbook model, is it assumed that the oligopolist's market demand curve becomes less elastic at prices below a certain point. In markets characterized by the continuing decline in the number of 'sellers', it is obvious that there are fewer motivations for oligopolists to reduce prices. In such a market, the oligopolist (an aspiring monopolist) makes more money selling fewer units at higher prices than could be earned selling more units at lower prices. How many people are out of a job makes no difference to the American right wing for whom Scrooge is their abiding inspiration.
"Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisons...then let them die and decrease the surplus population."

It is now time to address the concerns of Scrooge. The American right wing, consulted as they are by slick, suited Madison avenue whiz kids will never call the American gulag of FEMA camps by the names 'work houses' or 'prisons'. By any name, they are presumably open and ready for those who fall through the gaping cracks. A perpetually depressed economy is a good source of slave labor. Who benefits? KBR? Halliburton?

Kellogg Brown & Root, a Halliburton subsidiary, is constructing a huge facility at an undisclosed location to hold tens of thousands of Bush's "unlawful enemy combatants." Americans are certain to be among them.

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 governing the treatment of detainees is the culmination of relentless fear-mongering by the Bush administration since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Because the bill was adopted with lightning speed, barely anyone noticed that it empowers Bush to declare not just aliens, but also U.S. citizens, "unlawful enemy combatants."

Bush & Co. has portrayed the bill as a tough way to deal with aliens to protect us against terrorism. Frightened they might lose their majority in Congress in the November elections, the Republicans rammed the bill through Congress with little substantive debate.

Anyone who donates money to a charity that turns up on Bush's list of "terrorist" organizations, or who speaks out against the government's policies could be declared an "unlawful enemy combatant" and imprisoned indefinitely. That includes American citizens.

The bill also strips habeas corpus rights from detained aliens who have been declared enemy combatants. Congress has the constitutional power to suspend habeas corpus only in times of rebellion or invasion. The habeas-stripping provision in the new bill is unconstitutional and the Supreme Court will likely say so when the issue comes before it.

Although more insidious, this law follows in the footsteps of other unnecessarily repressive legislation. In times of war and national crisis, the government has targeted immigrants and dissidents.

--American Prison Camps Are on the Way, Marjorie Cohn, AlterNet.

There is more on the prospects of work camps, concentration camps, the illegal, unconstitutional war on dissent, and slave labor in America:

American Concentration Camps

In Bush's Orwellian dictatorship, a 'terrorist' is anyone Bush decrees a 'terrorist'. As the article points out, US dissidents are always targeted by the right wing. The Bush regime --having set aside habeas corpus --has the right wing's best chance ever of putting away the Bill of Rights for good. Bush has already done so on paper, by decree! "Stop throwing the Constitution up to me," he is reported by two witnesses to have screamed! "It's just a goddamned piece of paper!" Americans must dissent or risk being thrown into FEMA work camps forever. Bush believes that disagreement with him is 'treasonous'. I deny his authority to define 'treason' upon his unlawful, unconstitutional decree. His proclamation is, therefore, null and void, still-born bullshit!

Bush, having made free Americans traitors by illegal decree, Bush is a real traitor to the very foundation of US law: the Constitution. His war of naked aggression against Iraq, resulting as it has in the deaths of millions of civilians, is a capital crime under Geneva, to which the US is a party, affirmed by US Codes, Title 18, Section 2441, and, likewise, the Nuremberg Principles. Let's get on with the trial of George W. Bush for capital crimes.
"During the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in America, as labor unions organized and gathered power, as socialism grew in popularity among working and other oppressed peoples, industries owned by Rockefeller, Morgan, Harriman, Carnegie, and others, began hiring their own police forces and goon squads to infiltrate labor unions and spy on the political and personal activities of union organizers for the purpose of bringing arrests and convictions and eliminating all socialist activity in the nation. The most notorious example was the Homestead Strike of 1892, when Pinkerton agents killed several people while enforcing the strikebreaking measures of Henry Clay Frick, acting on behalf of Andrew Carnegie."

--Carolyn Baker, PhD, US Government Targets American Dissent - Part I

It has been quipped: a conservative is never so miserable as when times are good. Certainly, miserable grinches got what they wished for. The surplus was pissed away in a series of Bush tax cuts benefiting only the very rich. Now, when the US faces the very real prospect of utter collapse, millions will be thrown out of work. What is to be said of an entire class of people who are happiest when others are miserable? I leave that to another article…
Another “benefit” of a recession is that it purges the excesses of the previous boom, leaving the economy in a healthier state. The Fed's massive easing after the dotcom bubble burst delayed this cleansing process and simply replaced one bubble with another, leaving America's imbalances (inadequate saving, excessive debt and a huge current-account deficit) in place. A recession now would reduce America's trade gap as consumers would at last be forced to trim their spending. Delaying the correction of past excesses by pumping in more money and encouraging more borrowing is likely to make the eventual correction more painful. The policy dilemma facing the Fed may not be a choice of recession or no recession. It may be a choice between a mild recession now and a nastier one later.

--Does America need a recession?

But there is, after all, only one thing wrong with the economy: our government! If Republican partisans on the Supreme Court would see fit to allow one, a free and fair election may redress this grievance. If not, then the people will have no choice but to effect the remedies recommended by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, specifically that part about how the people may 'abolish' the government whenever it breaks its covenant.

The plunging dollar has taken a beating lately on international markets. But at least one wealthy investor may be set to profit from the dollar's decline: Dick Cheney.

Back in June 2006, Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine reported that Cheney's financial advisers were apparently betting on a rise in inflation and on a decline in the value of the dollar against foreign currencies.

Cheney and his wife, Lynne, the magazine noted, had between $10 million and $25 million in American Century International Bond (BEGBX). As Kiplinger pointed out, the fund "buys mainly high-quality foreign bonds (predominantly in Europe) and rarely hedges against possible increases in the value of the dollar. Indeed, its prospectus limits dollar exposure to 25 percent of assets and the fund currently has only 6 percent of assets in dollars, according to an American Century spokesman."

Assuming Cheney still holds the fund, he has done well: BEGBX returned 8.3 percent in 2006 and 9.9 percent in 2007. And if he was counting on a dollar decline, of course, he's done well in that regard, as well: in recent days, the dollar has continued to plunge to new all-time lows against the euro. The dollar has also fallen to 12-year lows against the yen. The weak dollar trend looks set to continue as the Fed continues to slash interest rates.

Economists have noted that the weak dollar stems from America's titanic fiscal deficits, which have soared as a result of the disastrous Iraq War.

It's notable that Cheney once claimed that "deficits don't matter." But by banking on a declining dollar, it's clear that even Cheney knows this is bullsh*t and that deficits do indeed matter.

-- MARC MCDONALD, Is Dick Cheney Set To Profit From Dollar's Drop?



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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Dances with Wolfowitz, et al

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

A party whore will hug anyone. A dance or a pose, it doesn't go well with the lipstick or the disguise. McCain --the self-styled, 'straight-talking moderate'--dances with radical, Zionist war-mongers and neocons, 'promising' them and the Military/Industrial complex that the US may stay in Iraq for 100, 10,000, possibly '...a million years". Should McCain get elected, I would not be surprised if Wolfowitz himself came in out of the cold to claim vindication.
On CBS’s Face The Nation last week, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) claimed Americans would not be “concerned” if the US spends “10,000 years” in Iraq. Earlier in the week, he said it “would be fine with” him if the US military stayed in Iraq for “a hundred years” or even a “million years.” Despite his push for an indefinite presence in Iraq, McCain somehow had a “wide advantage” yesterday with New Hampshire Republicans who “disapproved of the war“:

Exit polls found 64 percent of Tuesday’s Republican voters still support the conflict — and Romney, whose criticism of Bush’s management of the war has been muted, led McCain among those voters. But among the 34 percent who said they disapproved of the war, McCain had a wide advantage over the GOP field — even over Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the sole advocate of a US withdrawal in the Republican field.

--‘10,000 years’ McCain wins anti-war GOP vote.

Sure --Paul Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld are gone but "neoconservatives" were and continue to be the ideological well-spring of Bush's quagmire. Kissing up to such ilk is a high price to pay a kooky cult for their support.
Most neoconservative defense intellectuals have their roots on the left, not the right. They are products of the influential Jewish-American sector of the Trotskyist movement of the 1930s and 1940s, which morphed into anti-communist liberalism between the 1950s and 1970s and finally into a kind of militaristic and imperial right with no precedents in American culture or political history. Their admiration for the Israeli Likud party's tactics, including preventive warfare such as Israel's 1981 raid on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor, is mixed with odd bursts of ideological enthusiasm for "democracy." They call their revolutionary ideology "Wilsonianism" (after President Woodrow Wilson), but it is really Trotsky's theory of the permanent revolution mingled with the far-right Likud strain of Zionism. Genuine American Wilsonians believe in self-determination for people such as the Palestinians.

--Michael Lind, How Neoconservatives Conquered Washington and Launched a War.

McCain sold out for the support of 'sixty-seven percent' of GOP voters. Quick --what's 67 percent of 33 percent? Any way you figure it, that's not enough to get you elected 'President'. McCain will have to steal the election! No problem!

One may be forgiven for not knowing how to characterize McCain: kiss-up or extremist. In any case, McCain is what you get by kissing up to 'extremists', fear mongers who created a war upon a pack of criminal, treasonous lies for the very purpose of misleading the nation.

The GOP is easily fooled by extremists and even more so today. Even so --Fred Thompson did not get far with Neocon tough talk. [See: The Talking Neocon 'Tough Love’ Doll]

In 1964, the GOP paid a high price for having eschewed Nelson Rockefeller for the Goldwater road to extremism. Interestingly, the GOP has gone so far today, that Goldwater would be compared to Ron Paul, a libertarian, or perhaps even a moderate.

Bogged down in a war that has already bankrupted the US and gutted the dollar, McCain's war of 10,000 years will simply finish off the American dream of freedom or --worse --exchange it for a theocratic big brother and FEMA camps secure from prying eyes. It is a symptom of the sickness of which the GOP is symptomatic, that Bush has visited upon America what Barry Goldwater --an 'extremist' in 1964 --warned this nation about back in 1964!
Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed.

--Barry Goldwater, Candidate for US President, 1964

Goldwater could not have understood or appreciated the dangers posed by his own party. When he said extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, he most certainly had not foreseen the pernicious nature of Bush/Neocon extremism. He had not paid attention to the warning that GOP President Dwight Eisenhower issued with regard to the Military/Industrial complex. Goldwater was prescient but not nearly enough to save us from the GOP.



On March 19, 2008, we will set up a nonviolent blockade of the national Internal Revenue Service headquarters in Washington, DC, as part of the day of actions against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Just as military recruiters supply the bodies for the war, the IRS supplies the funding. Just as some soldiers have the courage to resist the war, we — as tax payers — should have the courage to resist paying the taxes that send soldiers to war. We call on all war opponents to help dramatize our opposition and to disrupt business as usual by joining this nonviolent blockade.

For at least this one day — March 19, 2008 — we need to create a disturbance in the smug complacency of the IRS/Pentagon money-axis. ...