Sarah Palin suddenly quit as governor. No, really, Happened this
morning. Nobody knows why. Palin gave an impromptu speech that was
jumbled and incoherent, but her impromptu remarks always are jumbled and
incoherent. She said, “I know when it’s time to pass the ball for
victory. We are not retreating; we are advancing in another direction.”
The Guardian seemed to think this would free her up to run for office,
not swamped by the crushing demands of the Alaska governor's office.
Trust me: the mayor of Fresno, California has bigger responsibilities to
deal with. And, with the campaign for president (hopefully) two and a
half years off, you don't quit a high-profile, sort-of prestigious
position where you can command the public eye pretty much at will.
Which leaves me wondering what scandal broke, and does the party think
that deep-sixing her career will shield them from it in some way? Best
totally ersatz “speculation” around the story: she was caught in a three
way with Ensign and Sanford. You can see Argentina from Alaska, you know.
Damn. I was really looking forward to her candidacy. Never any shortage
of entertaining material there.
On a less humorous note, the latest unemployment figures, scary and
unexpected, showed once and for all that Obama's stimulus package isn't
going to be enough. The economy is in deep, deep trouble, and just
because Wall Street is feeling cocky and acquisitive again doesn't mean
the economic crisis is over.
The ever-worthless American media focused on the phony “stress tests”
for the banks, and the stock market in general, and decided the worst
was past. Except, of course, for Paul Krugman, who saw this coming four
months ago. He was expecting 10% unemployment in the summer, and here,
just before summer, it was at 9.5% It's going to go up, and will
probably hit 12% by the end of summer.
The main problem is that this is still a consumer society, and consumers
no longer have money to spend. The carefully modified cost of living
rates don't mention he huge increases in food costs, or the surge in
utilities. A family that spent $125 a month on water, electrical, fuel
oil, sewage, garbage, and cable spends well over $300 a month these
days. And a lot of them, while making 2% more income on paper than ten
years ago, are seeing more of it going for less and less health care.
Oh, did I mention that supplemental medical and insurance costs had gone
through the roof?
It wasn't like they had a lot of money to spend to begin with after
twenty years of Reaganomics. Now, with gas around $3 a gallon and credit
shutting down everywhere, they are cutting way back on spending, which
means thousands of businesses hiring tens of thousands of people are
It's a vicious circle, and the media is still pretending that the real
problem is just a matter of finessing the financial sector so “extreme
actions can be avoided.” AP, the
press-agency-turned-cheerleader-for-the-moneyed-class had a big article
today about how the deficit must be solved. AP was pretty much quiet
during the huge, unnecessary deficits of the Bush administration, but
now that they are needed in an effort to keep the hinterland economy
going, they are outraged. How dare they spend tax money on the plebes!?
Republicans are fighting the idea of more stimulus like wolverines
because they believe that it's the wrong approach to the crisis.
Instead, they suggest lower taxes and less spending. The same approach
that pretty much led to this crisis in the first place, in other words.
And they can't figure out why they are becoming a splinter party.
California, which was already reeling from an 11.5% unemployment rate
and a shrinking economy, is about to discover the joys of a government
that has no money to spend. The small band of radicals who have kept the
budget process frozen for the past 16 years are still looking to destroy
the government so private interests can run the state, and with July
1^st passed, no credit and no money to spend, the state government is
issuing IOUs to everyone. That's another 8% of the state economy that
just suddenly ceased to exist, other than as notes of dubious value. The
people who wrecked the California economy are confident the people will
run to them for leadership once the government by the people is swept
out of the way. There is little reason to suppose that will happen,
although it's not very clear what will happen next. Food riots?
The military is beginning a big push in Afghanistan, with one officer
gleefully telling the press that it was the biggest military operation
since Vietnam. Veteran reporters didn't find that very reassuring, given
how Vietnam turned out. In a development reminiscent of Vietnam,
soldiers are discovering that among the Afghani population, resentment
and resistance has spread well beyond those who support the Taliban, and
might make up 80% of their population. Something to do with invading and
occupying their country for seven years. They just don't appreciate the
White Man's Burden, the ingrates!
Normally when I say something like that, somebody emails me, accusing me
of wanting American troops to fail. I don't want them to fail; I want
them to get the hell out. Unlike Iraq, there actually was a rationale
for attacking Afghanistan, but that time is long passed, and the
opportunity to accomplish American goals was forever lost in 2002 at
Tora Bora. Now America, Canada, and the other countries spilling blood
and money there can only hope to get out and perhaps start infiltrating
Afghani society with foreign aid.
But right wingers will have to go easy on shouts that anyone who
disagrees with national policy wants America to fail after the
horrifying interview that came to light yesterday. Michael Scheuer,
appearing on Fox News as a guest on the repulsive Glenn Beck Show, said,
“*The only chance we have as a country right now is for Osama bin Laden
to deploy and detonate a major weapon in the United States. *Because
it's going to take a grass-roots, bottom-up pressure. Because these
politicians prize their office, prize the praise of the media and the
Europeans. It's an absurd situation again. Only Osama can execute an
attack which will force Americans to demand that their government
protect them effectively, consistently, and with as much violence as
necessary.” Beck, with a sympathetic simper, replied, “...Which is why,
I was thinking this weekend, if I were him, that would be the last thing
I would do right now.”
Darn that Osama! Just when you NEED him to kill several million
Americans with an atomic blast, he flakes out on you! Has anyone run an
investigation to make sure he isn't actually a member of the Democratic
Party? Doesn't he KNOW there's a bunch of libruls in Washington whut
needs embarrassin, and nothing will embarrass them more than a major
What are you waiting for, Osama! Nuke Boston or Los Angeles NOW, so we
have time to use it to affect the mid-term elections! You don't want
Democrats to extend their lead in the Senate, do you? Come on! We're all
on the same side now that a Democrat is in the White House!
That's the state of the Republican Party in America today. They are
reduced to hoping for a major strike against the US so they can use it
against Obama. Mind you, these are the same people who are telling us
they oppose Obama on stimulus packages and health care because, just as
with national defense, they have America's best interests at heart.
Scheuer, incidentally, was Chief of the _Bin Laden Issue Station
_ (aka "Alec
Station"), from 1996 to 1999. It was up to him to watch bin Laden and
make sure he wasn't up to something.
Did a hell of a good job, didn't he? Of course, there was a Democrat in
the White House then, and maybe he felt the same urge to protect America
from Democratic complacency.
We'll never really know, will we?
Osama bin Laden is a fan of Scheuer's, writing, “"If you want to
understand what's going on and if you would like to get to know some of
the reasons for your losing the war against us, then read the book of
Michael Scheuer in this regard.”
Maybe the GOP is planning to run him for Governor of Alaska. You can see
Riyadh from Alaska, you know.