Politicians try to solve by force that which
they cannot solve by bluster.
Jerome a Paris
Mantra : Don't take it personally, it's not about you, it is almost never about you. Write that on your palm and look at it every time you talk to a banker, broker, car salesman or politician. People who make a living selling a particular thing will always think that is exactly the thing you need. When in doubt, look at your palm - it's not about you, it's about them.
Description : Throughout the decline, the forms are maintained; the Senate continues to meet, the courts remain independent - although leashed to the executive. But the Senate's power gutters, nearly extinguished by their loss of control of the military's adventures throughout the empire. The leaders do as they wish, with only a smirking nod to the formal powers of the Senate. The once loyal army of citizen soldiers, now a politicized mercenary force, champions those who guarantee an ever-growing tribute. The wealthy use the courts, the military, and the Senate to enrich themselves at the expense of the citizenry; the gap between rich and poor, served and servant becomes an implausible chasm. Farmers, once the backbone and focus of the state and society, exist only in honors, replaced by immense agricultural enterprises, and as ever, the rich grow richer and more ostentatious, the poor grow ever poorer, meeker, and demeaned. Test: this is (a) Rome, (b) Somewhere Else.
Roadmap : Ford plans on selling Jaguar and Land Rover to India's Tata Motors. History in miniature: From British Empire to the US Empire to the rising economic powers of the Orient.
Whether Report : The headline says that California is being lashed by storms. Except in San Francisco, where the franchise is held by some people in The Castro.
Wrinkles : Despite a weakened economy and another year of dollar devaluation the Treasury keeps claiming that core inflation remains minuscule. Yet the year ended with import prices up 11.4% year-to-year; the Producer Price Index up 7.2% y/y; and the Consumer Price Index up 4.3% y/y. I'm curious how they're going to hold this thing together through November.
What Now ? With all the things we have to worry about: global warming, polar bears, recession, peak oil, overpopulation, grain shortfalls, CAFE standards, ocean acidification, coal-fired power plants, education, health care, social security funding, impotence,... How is having a creationist in the White House going to make even one of these things better?
Cost/Benefit Ratio : Could we apply a little common sense here? The people in charge of safeguarding the nation from terrorist attacks (I refuse to say 'Homeland Security' unless I can use the original German.) are going to spend $42.7 gazillion dollars equipping commercial jets with laser weapons to shoot down missiles. Someday it may save one aircraft's 238 passengers at a cost of less than $1.37 billion each. Makes me think soldiers are underpaid for dying. I'd rather put the money into education. Adult education courses in probability. Or spend it on kids needing transplants their insurance company is too cheap to provide.
Once and Future : An overlooked casualty of accelerating climate change will be quite possibly be our tradition of democracy. Governments confronted by breakdowns have generally resorted to totalitarian measures to keep order in the face of chaos. E. g.: Zimbabwe, Somalia, Afghanistan, Kenya, Chad, Yemen, Uzbekistan and, of course, Pakistan.
We're Doomed : Bush says the economy is "strong and solid." Both Treasury and Fed leadership agree. Get the cows in the barn, gather the women-folk and lock the doors. Check your pockets, count the children. The cat, where's the cat?