Eden Hill Journal

Comments, dreams, stories, and rantings from a middle-aged native of Maine living on a shoestring and a prayer in the woods of Maine. My portion of the family farm is to be known as Eden Hill Farm just because I want to call it that and because that's the closest thing to the truth that I could come up with. If you enjoy what I write, email me or make a comment. If you enjoy Eden Hill, come visit.

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Location: Maine, United States

Friday, March 27, 2009

AIG Bomb

I was up way too early this morning reading a few blogs. I was in Lost in the Bozone and came across a comment by Demeur in the March 20 post about Obama in which he made this comment:
"Obama made a good analogy about these banks and AIG. He said it's like trying to deal with someone with a bomb vest strapped on with his thumb on the trigger. You have to negotiate carefully least he hit the trigger and blow us all up."
I was able to trace this to Obama's March 18 "town hall" get-together in Costa Mesa, California. A Los Angeles Times Blog covered the occasion.
It appears to me that the LA Times blogger was having as much difficulty comprehending this reasoning on Obama's part as I was. I mean just what were we supposed to take from Obama's analogy?
Yes I can see that it is meant to point out that this banking crisis is a touchy issue and that if our leaders say the wrong things, bad things may well happen in the economy as a result. It's a powder keg for sure, that we can all agree on.
But a suicide bomber has bad intent going into it - you know, premeditated. So how does that play out in this analogy? I don't know.
I suppose there are two possibilities here. One is that Obama came up with this on the spur of the moment without giving much thought to what he was saying and he really had no intent to make an analogy between AIG and the premeditated bad intent of a suicide bomber.
The other possibility is that this wasn't the first time Obama had heard of or used this analogy. Obama has a tendency to repeat himself and seems especially prone to repeating himself in a slightly different context, using an analogy that fits well in one context but doesn't quite fit the bill in the other context. His Special Olympics comment exemplifies this tendency but there have been many other shining examples that don't come to mind right off as I write.
I've heard that whenever there is more than one possibility, the safe bet is to choose the simpler one. Some would say the simpler one here is that Obama's comment was a spur of the moment thing. I disagree. The simpler explanation is that Obama was doing what he does so often, repeating an analogy that fits better in a slightly different context.
But what would that context be?
Simple.
The context would be a White House where the insiders know there is a struggle going on here between Obama's "liberal" agenda and the conservative Wall Street (and world banking) elites. In that context the suicide bomb analogy complete with premeditated malintent would fit giants like AIG perfectly. In that context, it would be easy to understand that what we are dealing with are giant corporations and powers who are telling the Obama government and more broadly the American voters that we either do it their way or they destroy our economy. A White House facing that scenario would be talking very carefully to ensure the trigger doesn't get pulled.
But hey, at that time of the morning I'm usually in a dream world. No doubt this is the same.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Meltdown

TPM has a little ditty on GOP chairman Michael Steele claiming that the warming of our climate is part of the global cooling process. That's a good one. The planet is cooling down. I wonder what that is based on, what evidence.
I was thinking about climate change just yesterday. I had heard or read somewhere that Germany has cut 4,000 miles off the shipping lanes from Japan to Germany by using the channel in northern Canada, open in 2008 for the first time in thousands of years or tens of thousands or something to that effect. Global cooling my ass.
But yesterday I was wondering if maybe there's something about these wide temperature swings that science has yet to recognize. This isn't the first time that average global temperatures have been on the move. There have been both ice ages and times of extreme temperatures at other times in earth's history. Is it just something dependent on solar activity or is there something more significant at play here?
After all, it's the temperature of the biosphere that keeps changing. The biosphere is that part of earth's atmosphere where plant and animal life lives. One could argue that it also includes the oceans and surface soils. Global climate change happens where life exists so why wouldn't it make sense that it is life that alters the temperature of the biosphere?
How?
Well the global warming people have been telling us for a long time now that it is the "greenhouse effect" that is causing global temperatures to rise. The greenhouse effect is what happens in air containing an excess of water vapor, carbon dioxide, and/or methane gas. These gasses form a layer that retains heat and radiates it back to the earth's surface rather than allowing it to escape into space. Yes the heat comes from the sun but the greenhouse effect causes the biosphere to retain more of the sun's energy than would be retained otherwise.
Plants use carbon dioxide in their life process. They convert carbon dioxide into organic (carbon-based) substances and give off oxygen into the atmosphere as a byproduct.
Animals do just the opposite. Animals use organic fuels and combine them with oxygen from the atmosphere to generate energy giving off carbon dioxide as a byproduct.
So what I was thinking is that maybe nature has a little war going on here between plant life and animal life. Maybe there are periods in the history of life on earth where plants were dominant and thus carbon was stored up in hydrocarbons (oils, coal, peat, sea bottoms, etc.). With reduced greenhouse gasses, the biosphere would cool down. This would have a self-limiting effect if it brought on an ice age and perhaps water vapor or methane gas from decomposition or even carbon dioxide from animal life would reverse the trend.
Maybe there are other periods where animal life dominates and the resulting increase in greenhouse gasses causes warming of the biosphere.
What is happening right now makes sense if you look at this overall process. We are living in an age dominated by animal life, an age where humans are not only reducing the amount of plant life but also using the world's stored hydrocarbons to once again release them as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Using hydrocarbons for fuel is serving to rapidly alter the temperature of the biosphere in a way that would otherwise take nature thousands of years to accomplish.
The thing is, there's a very long ways to go still before we reach any sort of limits. The upper latitudes have been much warmer than they are now. There is a lot of carbon remaining in reserve still, carbon that was at some point in the history of the biosphere available for life, both plant and animal, and available for use as greenhouse gasses.
We have a very long way to go yet before we reach earth's limits.
But to claim that the warming we are seeing is part of the larger cooling process? Ummmmm.... What cooling process are we talking about here? Entropy?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bogus Woes

I hate this. I'm starting to be an Obama critic and I hate it! What ever happened to the Barack Obama that ran for President last year?
The latest?
MSNBC has this which they get from The New York Times, "Bracing for a Bailout Backlash".
In it we discover that President Obama is upset at AIG for awarding its executives $165 million in executive bonuses despite their dire plight which has required the US to give them $170 billion in "government assistance".
It seems that Obama is worried that the public might somehow hold him and congress responsible instead of AIG.
Gee, I wonder why he would worry about that?
But hey, we can't afford to govern out of anger, says the White House, and it's not as though we have any legal recourse? We have to give this money to Wall Street after all if we expect Wall Street to go along with getting us out of this recession we're in. But hey maybe the White House can "tap" this "sentiment" to "push through" the Obama agenda in Congress.
Wow! Hey! How cool is that, huh?
Am I being victimized by the Mainstream Media trying to sensationalize this story and polarize the electorate, or is Obama just simply not the man I thought I was voting for last year?
What ever became of Obama's promises to us?
Backlash indeed...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Inside Out

Today I feel like I have been turned inside out. Maybe it has something to do with the warmer weather. Yesterday my wife and I took our dog and went hiking out on the ice on Moosehead Lake. It was a beautiful sunny day, a bit hazy or smoggy from the still chilled westerly wind, and still below freezing anywhere out of the sun. There wasn't a lot of melting going on. But it was pleasant in the sunshine anywhere out of the wind. So maybe it's just getting outside after the long winter hibernation.
Maybe not.
Yesterday I was doing my usual news blog reading and I came across a post at TPMDC concerning a Republican lawmaker's proposal for a bill that would require presidential candidates to present a valid birth certificate. The question of Obama's place of birth has been ongoing for several years now but is generally considered inconsequential by Obama supporters. When I began reading the comments posted to this TPM article, I quickly realized that the comments didn't represent rational debate. The comments were ad homonym in nature, setting exactly the same tone that conservatives set whenever George W. Bush's authority was challenged.
Well this concerned me enough to actually register to comment at TPM and post a comment about how odd the comments were and about how simple the issue seems to be. I proudly voted for Obama. Showing his birth certificate to prove his qualifications for the Presidency is no big deal. I had to show mine to renew my drivers license this year after holding the license for the past 45 years! So like sheesh!
Well they lit into me for that. I am a bad bad person to question anything about Obama, I guess. How George W. Bush can you get! Where's the change Obama promised? Where's the openness?
Well in my run down that rabbit trail I stumbled on a website that really set the ball rolling for me, really tossed my warm Obama heart out in the cold Maine snow. I've been holding it back for quite awhile now but the Obama era hasn't exactly been going the way I expected it would go. I went to the Obama rally in Bangor last year, heard his pitch to us, understood what a lot of others that day understood, the message about the need to change how things are done in Washington, the need to put what is best for the people back in control, not what is best for the special interests.
The first thing Obama did was to appoint as his chief of staff someone whose father reportedly was a Zionist terrorist, or so it is claimed. What bigger special interest group is there in the US if not AIPAC, the Israel lobby?
Then he started giving hundreds of billions of dollars to the bankers.
Then he started bombing people in Pakistan.
Then he signed into law a bogus stimulus bill that was more of a wish list for socialist reform than anything else.
Then he signed a budget bill full of earmarks because they were just the leftovers from last year. Say what? I mean...... say what?????????
Then Obama retains the right to hold terrorism suspects indefinitely, same as Bush but without the catch phrase "enemy combatant." Orwell anyone?
Trillion plus dollar deficit...
The whole world wondering what America is up to...
China threatening to cash in its US holdings...
Obama's arch political foe Hillary Clinton running the State Department...
War first, diplomacy as a last resort...
A Wall Street guru running the Treasury...
And then there's a rumor that some news article is reporting that Wikipedia's Obama biography has been scrubbed squeeky clean?
What change? I'm waiting. What is the change? How can the pandering to special interests be ongoing if we voted in change? And I'm not asking this as some conservative naysayer. I'm saying it as a concerned progressive.
OK so everyone says wait and see. The change is coming. I know, that's what I've been saying too for the past two months. Change takes time. I know that. But change has to start somewhere and as far as I can see, it hasn't begun yet. What we all heard at that rally in Bangor would never have led us to believe what we have seen since the November election.
And now this idea that we can treat any doubters the same way that George W. Bush supporters treated Bush doubters, with ad homonym attacks against the doubter's character and worthiness as a human being?
Well anyway, back to that rabbit trail, I stumbled on this nearly two hour-long online video that I absolutely was not prepared to see. So I didn't. But if you watch it and can stomach watching it all the way through, could you please let me know how it ends?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Parsley Sage Rosemary and Rhyme

My chosen title today has nothing to do with what I will be writing. It came about as a typo in a chat window this morning, nothing else.
What really IS on my mind at the moment is a letter posted by Juan Cole in his blog this morning written by Chas Freeman. The letter speaks for itself.
I'm going out on the limb a bit here by citing Chas Freeman as a man worthy of my attention, not because he doesn't have an amazing resume, he does, and not because he doesn't see things the way I have come to see them, he does - this from 2006 when Bush was still firmly in power. I'm going out on the limb because I haven't followed the controversy that led Freeman to withdraw yesterday from consideration to chair the National Intelligence Council.
However, I tend to believe what Freeman is claiming, that it was the Israeli lobby which drove him out. The letter is worth a read.

Monday, March 09, 2009

New Money

A March 3 article in the International Herald Tribune states that the Bank of England may soon start buying government bonds, corporate bonds, and "commercial paper" with new money to ease the credit crunch brought on by the world economic crisis.
It's hard to wrap your head around this kind of power but I've been trying recently to do just that. Silly little questions pop into my head when I think about this level of power, such as:
Why is it that the Federal Reserve can earn interest on government debt when the Federal Reserve has the power to simply create new money with a few keystrokes on some magic computer somewhere?
If money is in short supply, why don't we just print new money and inject it into the economy by spending that instead of taxing the existing money supply?
Why is it that when the government does do that, it winds up owing interest on that money in perpetuity to unspecified and generally unidentified "investors"? Since there are no actual investors in the Federal Reserve Bank, where does this interest money go?
Does the Federal Reserve Bank have vaults filled with money? If so, why? Whose money would that be? If not then where does the interest money on US Treasury debt held by the Federal Reserve Bank go?
Why do we use this system in the first place? If we do it to protect the value of our money, then why does gold cost so much more now than it did when we ceased using it as the basis for our currency? That's what we call protecting the value of our currency?
How much new money could the Federal Reserve inject this way into the economy before it triggered inflation? If there's some headroom here, then why aren't we doing it?
Oh, yeah, right... We ARE doing it! That's what the stimulus package is. That's what deficit spending is. Two questions, though. Why do taxpayers wind up paying interest into perpetuity by doing it this way and why are Republicans against doing this?
Perhaps this article will help - Creating New Money by James Robertson. Also this article from a link in the previous one - HOW PRIVATE, COMMERCIAL, NATIONAL and INTERNATIONAL MONEY is CREATED; abridged from the works of Michael Rowbotham.
By the way, if ever the right by nations to print their own currencies is terminated and a central international currency is established, the owners of that currency would virtually dictate the entire world. No doubt this has been the dream since the days of the Phoenicians. Carthago delenda est!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Rush to Conclusion

I was just reading this Buck Naked post about the Republicans and wound up reading an argument in the Huffington Post against the new Democratic Party strategy to paint Rush Limbaugh as the leader of the Republican Party. Peter Daou just doesn't see the wisdom in this new strategy.
Sorry guy, but I do.
Daou doesn't see the sense in "political calculus." If the Limbaugh situation were a trivial matter, I would agree with Daou. This is no time for petty politics. But Limbaugh is calling the shots now for the Republican Party. For some reason that is pretty hard for most Americans to understand, Republicans have submitted to the power of this man whom the leader of the Republican National Committee recently characterized as an "entertainer" whose show is "ugly" and "incendiary."
The problem is that Obama wants some sort of bipartisanship in Washington. Limbaugh doesn't. Limbaugh is getting his way. Obama isn't. And it is not in the interest of the American people at this point for Republicans to refrain from participating in government. Obama knows that. Limbaugh doesn't.
The majority of the American public are agreeing with Obama. They want Republicans to rejoin the government, to re-engage in real politics instead of objecting to everything that the American people need and want right now.
The majority of the American public want the Republicans to turn their backs on the hatefulness of right-wing conservative talking heads.
The only way that's going to happen is if we call it like it is, and right now the way it is is that Rush Limbaugh is leading the Republican Party with his ugly and incendiary rhetoric. Let's get it all out in the open and let the American people pressure their Republican senators and representatives to abandon Limbaugh and his America-hating dittoheads.