A Freeway in Hell

My thoughts on the nature of our late capitalist society. The title should give some clue what I think of that! US 101 or I-80 as metaphor for our imperatives. Besides worrying about what sort of black hole we are speeding into, I like airships. One reason being the almost inescapble desire to have one to get out of a traffic jam!

Location: Sonoma County, California

Grew up a military brat, Californian-in-exile, reactionary libertarian-essentially spent the 70s on Mars, for I am hearing impaired and I did not know what the music was saying. Generally still don't unless I listen to it over and over or find the words captioned on a movie or somewhere on line. Came "back" to California to begin my adult life, have not lived elsewhere since. No regrets there despite our problems here. Have studied physics, more math than most human beings will ever need, worked on spaceship projects (well, one) at JPL. Lived with a wonderful disabled person who lives no more--L Natasha Littletree RIP October 2004. I have a life plan, just kind of vague on some of the short-term stuff.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A Reply to Floris on the Dim Dynasty

Dear Floris,

Thanks for checking in on me!

> From: Florisv
> Date: Sat, 1 Oct 2005 12:47:49 -0700 (PDT)
> To: foxwell@sonic.net
> Subject: [A Freeway in Hell] 10/01/2005 12:47:48 PM
> intresting. One could almsot sya there would eb akind of bush dinassty.

Kevin Phillips, who once upon a time was involved in Nixon's 1972 re-election and is partially responsible for the racist "Southern Strategy" that has become the core of Republicanism today, has become, simply by standing fast to the same ideological place he was in in 1972 instead of moving right with the rest of his herd, what passes for a leftist populist progressive in this country. He has written several books, beginning with the 1986 The Politics of Rich and Poor, that give incisive insights into the strategy of the Right here. And one of these books is the recent American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush (January 2004) which goes in depressing detail into this foul phenomenon. Not only are the Bushes a dynasty with pretensions of actual kinship with the British royal family; many Americans are in general succumbing to the urge to fawn on nobility and dynastic families. It goes hand in hand with the rise of a corporate aristocracy in practice.

> I wouldn't have voted for Bush.

Glad to hear it. I never did. And I don't believe a majority of Americans who voted in the 2004 election did either. It is an indisputable fact that they certainly didn't in 2000.

>The one thing that I did remark is that his
> younger Brotehr, the governor of Florida, looks far smarter then he.

He certainly seems to be. But W won the 1994 election to be governor of Texas and Jeb lost his bid the same year for Florida, so the dumb one got the nod. Besides, the dumb one was the one the American political system craved, as the perfect instrument of an intellectually vacuous and stupendously immoral set of policies; only an idiot could look at those plans and proclaim them as the "restoration of integrity into government."

And Jeb's brains don't make him any less of a disaster as a leader; they just prove that where stupidity in the Bush dynasty leaves off, evil takes over. Or perhaps W is not as fundamentally dumb as he has always looked; perhaps he is just poisoned by the evil.

I wonder if in the Netherlands you've heard Mater Babs's latest revelation of her character, where she remarked that all the victims from New Orleans were better off in refugee camps since as poor people they never had anything worth keeping anyway. If this family was not evil before George HW married her, it had a sufficient injection then. Nasty woman, and that is these guys' mother. (And the sort of creature mister "Kinder and Gentler America" George Herbert Walker Bush would marry. I sometimes wonder if he deserves her, or if she made him the man he is today and was in 1988).

>Lets hope
> tha tthe next president can undo some of the damage done by current
> govenrment. Many peopel in my country were suprised at how the governemtn
> handled katrian, and at reports of levess not being repaired an the like.

This should have come as no surprise to us, since we've seen how the Republicans handled Iraq. But yes, people were astounded that they'd do the same to Americans. So shocking was this, that veteran Fox news reporters who have been shilling for the Right for years and freely lying to carry out the will of Rupert Murdoch were challenging the media stars who tried to minimize the significance of the suffering these reporters were in the middle of. It just caught them under their ideological radars. Four years of what looks like miserable failure to anybody with a decent concept of humanity, and they were seeing it at last.

We honestly don't know whether the planned levee upgrades would have saved the city or not, but we do know this--for the past 2 years 80 percent of the projected budget for that project was diverted to pay for the war in Iraq, and for tax cuts, and pork for other politicians. Just 1/5 of the money that was supposed to be spent on the project remained. It seems likely to me that at least, the damage would have been less if the project had gone forward as planned.

> something like katrina would hit us, a 300 km area would be destroyed. Still,
> there are so many things that could have been done after the previous
> hurricane in the 1960's, and weren't, I hope that hsi time around they do do
> them. Peoples live could have been saved.

We are all vulnerable, especially in a world which is definitely undergoing warming. There is talk right now of another hurricane in the Gulf that would be named with the letter S. The Gulf is definitely warmer and prone to create both more and stronger tropical storms. I have never spent any time in the Netherlands except for changing planes at Schipohl, and I remember looking with Natasha at the mark that showed sea level--about at my eye level, and Natasha in her wheelchair would have been about half a meter below it.

I really hope to visit the Netherlands someday. But I've been to Florida--if the seas rise, that state will be gone.

> why I found personnally so very
> strange and not just, was how people stayed on holdiay while, this was surely
> a disaster.I think I'm going to reread your post again. It igve a differnt
> view, opinion, then those often seen on the news.

I don't watch TV (unless you count DVDs of science fiction series--all the Star Trek stuff, Lexx, Red Dwarf...) anymore, but I do often listen to Air America radio; most of what I have learned about Katrina comes from web pages or Randi Rhodes on Air America. I wonder if you have any way to hear her in the Netherlands? She is the kind of American one can be proud of.

I have to wonder what they have been saying on Dutch TV.

The whole "let them eat cake" attitude of the Administration, as I have said, did come as a shock to a lot of Americans who are not normally considered at all progressive. Meanwhile, on the left, it has been pointed out that the calloused inaction of the Administration was supplemented by negative action--they actually acted to block private and foreign initiatives to help people out. And we have reason to suspect that the death or destitution and displacement of the mostly African-American New Orleans poor and the devastation of coastal people in general is seen as a windfall by rich people who hope to rebuild the region their way, for their profit. Already the Governor of Mississippi is trying to open the way for converting his state's coastline to a free zone for casinos.

Meanwhile, a lot of people were reminded of Bush's "My Pet Goat" moment on 9/11/01, when after getting the news of the second airplane to crash into the Trade Center, he sat for over 10 minutes, either oblivious or in shock, and continued reading a classroom of Florida school children pages from My Pet Goat. It is hard to figure out whether he is dim, sociopathic, just evil, or some combination of all of them--but this time, only a minority here think he was any kind of leader.

Position rant #1: on the war on Iraq

This is largely in response to a quip by Pudentilla at Skippy; in keeping with my sporadically kept resolution to put long responses here on the blog instead of cluttering up my friends' comment sections, here is most of it, the more abstract and general part:

There is a hierarchy of abstraction around the question "should we under any circumstances have invaded and 'reformed' Iraq?" At the most abstract level of hypothetical cases, I can't honestly say I'd conclude, unequivocally and in all circumstances, "no." It depends on the details of course, and I'd never have been OK with the USA doing it alone and unsupervised, unless the Iraqi military had attacked the USA in a serious way (and there were no doubt about the accuracy of that claim.) Even then, we'd be obliged to follow some rules no matter what the Iraqi government had done.
But step away from the most abstract possibilities and contemplate the realities, and I say, "No way, not these guys, not ever." I can't forget that the Bushes, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Powell and all that lot were so deeply involved in supporting Hussein for 12 years before they suddenly noticed he was a bloody-handed dictator. Not to mention the suspicious circumstances surrounding Hussein's decision to invade Kuwait--that he took care to consult with the US Ambassador, April Glaspie, before attacking and that her orders were clearly to give him a green light to do it. I have long believed that all the Gulf Wars were at least in part set up by morally vicious American politicos who cynically invested in bloody conflict for strategic reasons, and had we behaved decently none of these wars would have happened (and perhaps Saddam Hussein would never have ruled Iraq, or he'd overreach and get trounced early on in his career--remember, it was the USA that protected him the most from 1978 to 1991.) That crew would never have my blessing, but what did they care? Their best shot for invading Iraq and getting away with it was in 1991 and they passed it by. I would not have trusted Bill Clinton to do the job, mainly because he listened to these same neocons or their fellow travelers far too often and because his hands were tied and elbows joggled by the Congressional Republicans. And doing it in the criminal manner that aWol did it was just inexcusable, no matter what good these people, in some parallel universe where they suddenly grew hearts and brains, might have done once they got control.
And the hell of it is, they could have done some good. Not that I think they could have turned their own evil into good that way, but they might have earned the option of being forgiven by those they had wronged. If the initial force size of the invasion had been what every competent Army planner assumed would be necessary, then the chaos and looting of the post-invasion period would have been under control. If instead of slipping grossly inflated no-bid contracts into the pockets of their closest corporate cronies the Admin had detailed the American forces to direct the Iraqi people themselves into rebuilding their own country, the cost would be lower, the problems of unemployment in Iraq would be greatly lowered or eliminated, trust and camaraderie instead of hatred and viciousness would have been cultivated between Americans and Iraqis--and oh yes, the jobs would get done, the power would be on, the water flowing, the schools rebuilt.

But we have seen what the priorities and goals of aWol's crew are--either that, or they are so incompetent it staggers the mind, and clearly they don't learn better from mistakes if that is the case. But no, I think the time for generously assuming stupidity on their part is past--clearly they are doing what they intended. It benefits a few, tax cuts garner them a strategically loyal following who will justify any atrocity for their few thousand a year, and the pattern of behavior continues. They deny help of kinds that went without saying in previous administrations no matter how mean, dim, or misguided; they seek to charge for what they do offer, they channel it through crony contracts that don't even get the job done and cost the entire mint literally, and they try to establish that what they are doing is and should be normal for all time.

Because I think all of our interventions in Iraq have been badly intended and viciously executed, I think there is no question--we have to get out, now. Yesterday or three decades ago would have been better, but the best we can do is today. If we cut and run, we will surely leave a mess. But unless we undergo a drastic moral reform as a nation, and totally rework our priorities in government and private life, we have to expect that even a new American administration would continue to do even more harm. Whatever good past generations have done overseas in other places, the USA as we know it does on the whole only harm in Iraq, and we had better get out for our sakes as well as those of the Iraqis.