Tuesday, March 30, 2010

God Hates Fred Phelps

Of course, the Big Guy clearly doesn't think much of 'murkins or troops neither, since He keeps allowing this sick bastard and his inbred cult to harass military families at the funerals of their loved ones. And now, the ultimate insult to injury, a family being forced to pay the cult's legal bills, for daring to sue them for heckling his son's funeral. Christ, this is like fifty different kinds of wrong.

Gene Policinski, executive director of the First Amendment Center in Nashville, Tenn., predicted that the Supreme Court will not address issues of where protesters are permitted to demonstrate, as it has in the past in the case of abortion protesters. Instead, he said, the case is important because "it has the potential to define whether we're going to create a new exemption to freedom of speech that is emotionally distressing."

"You can imagine that Martin Luther King and others inflicted emotional distress on people, if they were committed to segregation," he said. "I shudder to think if those people were armed with the weapon of suing him because the issue itself was repugnant to them."

Ugh, these idiots give the whole idea of "freedom of speech" a bad name. Look, asshole, there's no slippery slope here, and there sure as hell isn't any intellectually honest comparison between Martin Luther King and these bottom-feeding scum. Sometimes you have to be an adult about shit, and realize that your sacred principles are only useful insofar as they uphold something of value, as opposed to something merely symbolic of value. Hey, maybe those Bahhhston Bullies (whose parents must just be soooo fuckin' proud) who harassed a classmate into hanging herself were just exercising their free speech, right? Sheesh.

The question of intent renders the free-speech douchebag's comparison useless. King's intent, it scarcely needs pointing out, was to end the violent, systematic oppression of an entire race of people in a large portion of the country. Phelps' sole intent is to cause emotional distress to families who are already enduring plenty. It is a particularly low form of abuse of that First Amendment right, no better than shouting "fire" in a crowded theater. Obviously Phelps would love to incite someone to violence against him and his fellow turds, and I honestly am amazed that someone in the long line of families Phelps has harassed hasn't just said "fuck it" and snapped off one of those stupid "God Hates Fags" placards in someone's ass.

One of the commenters in the linked Sun article asserts that Bill O'Reilly is going to pay the $16K legal bill in its entirety, which if true is a pretty damned decent thing to do. Now, if someone wants to pass the hat around to give Ol' Fred a taste of his own poison, I'm sure we'd all kick in a few bucks.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Moral Credibility

Shorter Joey Ratz: It's not a crime if the pope does it.

On Saturday, the Vatican’s chief spokesman acknowledged that the Church’s response to cases of sexual abuse by priests was crucial to its credibility and it must “acknowledge and make amends for” even decades-old cases.

“The nature of this issue is bound to attract media attention and the way the Church responds is crucial for its moral credibility,” the Vatican’s chief spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said on Vatican Radio.

Listen up, you withered eunuch bastard -- there is no debate outside your church as to what should be done. The only appropriate response when you find out one of your priests is raping children is to -- get this -- inform the law. Quietly shuttling the rapist to another diocese where he can rape more children would not even occur to a morally responsible or credible human being.

What the fuck is wrong with these people? When the priest-rape scandals in America were happening a few years back, Ratzinger's response was that it was an American thing, that our sexually permissive culture roped these men of god into vile acts. He said this, mind you, having personally transferred child-rapey priest Peter Hullermann (and yes, I'll go out on a limb and stipulate that Hullermann's acts of taking an 11-year-old kid up to the mountains, getting him drunk, locking him in a room, and forcing him to suck Hullermann's cock constitutes rape, pure and simple) around Europe. So he's a liar as well as an abetter of child molesters.

You know, believe it or not, this is not an indictment of individual Catholics, who are finding some measure of grace somewhere in the tradition of faith, and that's fine. But look, folks -- if you're giving money to these people, then you're also giving money to these people. Anyone can argue like a Jesuit about degrees of moral complicity, but at the very least, I'd feel like a straight-up sucka. Maybe consider giving that tithe money to something with a bit lower (moral and financial) overhead. The problem is not that they have rapists in their midst, it's that they think they're above basic accountability for it.


So the circus comes to Harry Reid's backyard, and everyone's favorite clown does her schtick. Yawn.

"The big government, big tax Obama-Pelosi-Reid spending spree is over," [Palin] said, referring also to the president and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco. "You're fired."

Oh-ho-ho, I bet she stayed up all night memorizing that li'l zinger. Then she looked at her scribbled palm and called it a "poor man's TelePrompTer". Because, you see, nobody in the history of the universe ever used a TelePrompTer before Barry Hussein came along. True story.

Calling this collection of addled malcontents a "conservative Woodstock" does a serious disservice to both of those terms. These people are not "conservatives", they're a bunch of hypocritical morons who are angry, yet can't explain precisely why. Something about "freedom Jesus values great bailout scrotum Warshington". Also, booga-booga!

Much as Woodstock featured an eclectic lineup ranging from the Grateful Dead to Sha-Na-Na, Saturday's speakers included Joe "the Plumber" Wurzelbacher, Orange County Assemblyman and Tea Party Express-endorsed Senate candidate Chuck DeVore, and former "Saturday Night Live" star Victoria Jackson.

Sweet Jesus, I had to read that twice to confirm it, then bleach my eyeballs. Does anyone have the heart to tell that vapid cow Vicky Jackson that she was invited to make Sarah Palin look intelligent? Not that she would understand. Hell, even Sha-Na-Na would have more political erudition than Jackson, whose crosseyed-borderline-retard-with-funbags schtick was old in 1995, and who went around the bend on dispensationalist eschatology several years ago.

Frankly, it's dismaying that anyone even pretending to want to be taken seriously would get in the same cornfield as Victoria Jackson -- but then, when Palin headlined the $600/head teabaggers' convention, the opening acts were WhirledNutDaily's Joseph Farah and Tom Tancredo. Clearly, she'd show up to the opening of a fucking envelope if it gave her the chance to tell the same three jokes for the millionth time.

I mean, consider -- Palin, Wurzelbacher, DeVore, Jackson. These are the stars of the event. There's more intellectual firepower in the Jersey Shore mooks. The average IQ of the event could have been raised ten points just by inviting The Situation.

It pisses me off that these assholes get front-page coverage, and it's especially irritating that attendance is listed merely as "thousands". Well, how many "thousands", Chief -- two, ten, thirty? The NY Times mentioned it as "several" thousand, which we assume means three or four. So, yeah, exactly like Woodstock, divided by, say, a hundred or so. "Several thousand" people show up to the fucking farmers' market out here in the sticks, why is this not back-page "what is the deal with these loons" fodder?

The teabaggers are entirely a creation of the librul media they despise so, and it's unconscionable that they continue to enable these dirtbags.

If there is an overriding thread tying together the quilt of Tea Party dyspepsia, it's expressed on the yellow "Don't Tread on Me" flags waving from the sea of RVs.

And there's the incoherence right there in a nutshell -- a bunch of angry codgers collecting Social Security and Medicare, traveling out to the high desert (at 40 mph with the right turn signal on the entire way, no doubt) in an RV paid for at least in some part by the savings generated from gubmint-subsidized health care -- wait for it -- to rant incoherently and listen to others rant about health care. As a taxpayer, I fucking resent their lack of basic decency and gratitude, and I insist that they hold true to their solemn vows and principles, and give back any and all assistance they receive from the evil "communist dictator who is taking us to hell", as Vicky Jackson so profoundly put it.

I think we'd all be shocked if any of these people had the goddamned balls to put their money where their big mouths are, and get off the gubmint tit already. Give it back, folks. Step up and give back your blood money. Get hold of that free market insurance yer always yammerin' about, and let us know how that works out for ya.

In other "impossible to parody" news, Palin is said to be ready to unleash a barrage of Facebook and Twitter posts momentarily, in which her saucer-eyed cult followers will be exhorted to "assassinate the Demonrats' hopey-changey stuff" and "plant an IED of freedom under their campaign roadbed", before "ethnically cleansing" that party. "What?" Palin will inevitably reply when called on her stale bullshit, while smirking and shrugging her shoulders disingenuously. "It's one-a them metafer thingies, doncha know. When I talk about "bloodletting", I just mean political bloodletting, see. They know what I mean. You can't tell us to sit down and shut up, Mister Man! Lock and load, motherfuckers!

"Metaphorically speaking, of course."

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Total Recall

So here in the Golden State we have a little karmic twist:

More Californians disapprove of the job performance of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger than any governor in modern state history including Gray Davis, who was ousted by Schwarzenegger in a popular uprising, according to a Field Poll released today.

Seventy-one percent of California voters surveyed said they disapprove of Schwarzenegger's handling of the job, while 23 percent approve. The low ratings are shared across all demographics including party affiliation, region of the state, age and race or ethnicity.


The governor's numbers are nearly identical to those of Davis in the run-up to the recall. In August 2003, 70 percent of California disapproved of how Davis did the job while 22 percent approved.

Well, gee, maybe we should be like the whining, tantrum-throwing crybabies who chucked Davis and installed Schwarzenegger in the first damned place, and blow another $50 mil on some bullshit three-ring circus sideshow of freaks, right? I mean, who doesn't miss the glory days of '03, when Gary Coleman and Mary Carey and such like were "running" for the executive post of the planet's (then) seventh-largest economy?

No. Unlike those douche-nozzles, people with integrity and intellectual honesty are consistent in their realization that California has well and truly screwed itself in no small part by a serious over-reliance on its referendum process, which is nothing short of a joke. It has gummed up the works in this state, and needs to be overhauled.

Worse yet, look at who's running to take Ahnult's place -- a couple of asshole plutocrats trying to out-conservatard one another, one of them ready to spend $50 mil of her own money on the seat, and having already given her frat-boy jerkoff kid (with the villain snowboarder name) "consultant" loot. Oh, and Jerry Brown. Maybe Mary Carey's not such a bad option.

Schwarzenegger's low rating is driven by the severe economic downturn, DiCamillo said, while Davis touted his experience and competence when he ran for office only to be undermined by the energy crisis.

Oh, is that what "DiCamillo said", because while the first half of that sentence is undoubtedly true to a great extent, the second half ("undermined by the energy crisis") comes off as if it had been a natural event, the predictable consequence of one of Kepler's Laws of Motion of some such. And that's just not even true, podna:

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “solutions to California’s energy woes” reflect those of former Enron chief Ken Lay. On May 17, 2001, in the midst of California’s energy crisis, which was largely caused by Enron’s scandalous energy market manipulation, Schwarzenegger met with Lay to discuss “fixing” California’s energy crisis. Plans to “get deregulation right this time” called for more rate increases, an end to state and federal investigations, and less regulation. While California Governor Gray Davis and Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante were taking direct action to re-regulate Califonia’s energy and get back the $9 billion that was vacuumed out of California by Enron and other energy companies, Schwarzenegger was being groomed to overthrow Davis in the recall. Thus canceling plans to re-regulate and recoup the $9 billion.

After the California’s energy debacle of 2000, Davis and Bustamante filed suit under California’s unique Civil Code provision 17200, the “Unfair Business Practices Act,” which would order all power companies, including Enron, to repay the nearly $9 billion they extorted from California citizens. The single biggest opponent of the suit, with the most to lose, was Enron’s CEO, Ken Lay.

Lay, a very close friend and long time associate of President Bush and Vice-president Cheney, and one of their largest campaign contributors, hastily assembled a meeting with prominent Californians (confirmed by the release of 34 pages of internal Enron email) to strategize opposition to the Davis-Bustamante campaign and garner influential support for energy deregulation.

Included in the meeting were Michael Milken, “junk bond king” convicted of fraud in 1990 who currently runs a think tank in Santa Monica that focuses on global and regional economies; Ray Irani, Chief Executive of Occidental Petroleum; former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan; and movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Riordan and Schwarzenegger were at that time being courted as GOP gubernatorial candidates.)

Attendees of the meeting received a small four-page packet entitled “Comprehensive Solution for California.” The packet called for an end to the federal and state investigations into Enron’s role in California’s energy crisis and proposed saddling consumers with the $9 billion loss. Discussions further focused on preventing Davis’s proposed re-regulation of energy markets.

With Davis in office and Bustamante his natural successor, there would be little chance of dismissing rock-solid charges of fraudulent reporting of sales transactions, fake power delivery scheduling, and blatant conspiracy. The grooming of a governor amenable to a laissez-faire and corrupt energy market was essential. Recalling Davis and replacing him with Schwarzenegger was the solution. With Governor Schwarzenegger in office, Bustamante’s case is dead, as few judges will let a case go to trial to protect a state whose governor has allowed the matter to be “settled.”

It's too bad Kenny Boy Lay got off as scot-free as he did, avoiding jail and dying quietly just as his role in sending the nation's largest state into a tailspin (since turbocharged by the subprime scam) would have been elucidated more fully, just as his role in Cheney's Energy Task Farce (whatever happened to that, anyway?) might have been clarified even a little. It's too bad Lay wasn't staked to an anthill and torn apart by rabid dogs, frankly.

And it's too bad that a significant part of the driving force of this state in the past decade gets brushed under the rug with some cheap elision from a pollster. Gray Davis' biggest flaw as a politician was that he had zero charisma, but the fact of the matter is he got totally hosed, with total deliberation and extreme prejudice, by forces much larger than him, for a very large payday.

Wonder where Kenny Boy's $9 billion, poached out of the pockets of 35 million Califorians and never repaid, ended up. Maybe on a pallet in the sands of Iraq, maybe in Unca Dick's undisclosed location. We'll never know, of course, because we peons are on a need-to-know basis, but the least we can do is not be a bunch of chumps and pretend that it was all some kind of "shit happens" accident.

Crazy Trained

As brutally flawed as the fox-in-henhouse health-care clusterfuck is, the fact that it gets these troglodytes all riled up is proof that at least it's a step in the right direction. You know, back in the good ol' days when the Cheney regime was in charge and the land of milk and honey was populated by rainbows and unicorns, it was annoying and unhelpful enough to see the "Bushitler" placards. These clowns show with no argument or counter-proposals, just a brick in one hand and a fistful of "nigger" and "faggot" epithets in the other. Maybe someone can translate the Horst Wessel Song into Hicklish for them, so's they have something to chant while the effigies are burning.

And again, unlike both Chimpy McHitlerburton seizures of the throne, there is not and will never be any debate about the legitimacy of Obama's electoral blowout. It's his own damned fault that he's managed to piss all that away in less than 18 months, but the fact of the matter is that he won fair and square, and these goobers would prefer to govern by tantrum and slur. I've spent years noting what sore winners they always were, and am not at all surprised that they're even worse losers.

As always, they can go straight to hell; with any luck every one of these losers will have to contend with a serious, financially catastrophic health crisis befalling a loved one, and maybe they'll finally start to learn a thing or two about what they think they're protesting. Or, you know, not. If any of these bozos have learned anything more profound than which foods they can deep-fat fry, they have yet to demonstrate it with any reliability.

It's a very strange dynamic to contemplate -- an industry whose revenue model is explicitly predicated on not providing the service for which they've already been paid, can count their most vulnerable victims as their most vocal supporters, for free at that. Weirder still, some of these morons think it's actually a gun-control debate. They deserve what they get, good and hard and none too soon.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Lot of interesting pro-con comments re Taibbi's question as to whether the "health-care" "reform" "effort" really does suck as badly as he, Taibbi, thinks it does. Well, if anything, it probably sucks even worse than we think it will, if the rest of the usual product out of the cracker factory is any indication.

And yet, it is probably just as critical as the Democrats think it is that this abusive sellout actually gets passed -- at least from their POV, which they have done every blessed thing they can think to render utterly irrelevant. Probably the truest comment is way down there, simply stating that whether or not this thing passes now, the Dems are going to take a hit in November.

And it's their own goddamned fault, per usual, since they let Rahmbo wheel-deal them into the back pockets of card-carrying assholes like Max Baucus and Ben Nelson. But only after Obama let the insurance and pharma lobbies write the thing in the first place. Yeah, that's visionary planning there, Chief. Could it be that Obama's vision is nearly as overrated as the Rahm's arm-twisting ability? Ya think?

They've shot their wad on this thing, and now cannot afford to walk it back, especially since they don't have the balls to fight for anything substantial in the first place. But the thought of the mouth-breathers on the other side becoming even more emboldened could only mean they'd find someone even dumber and more useless than Fredo to lead their next ticket, probably even more toxic and ridiculous than the sideshow carnies like Palin or Beck.

And yet "victory" will be meaningless in any real sense, merely a front-loading of tax dollars to a mandatory insurance policy, just another vast upward wealth transfer, a subsidized captive market with no mention of the driving issue, exorbitant costs. The costs will be the same and the profits will go to the same rentiers, it's just that the scheme will be socialized. Awesome.

As always, the system isn't broken -- it's fixed.


I'm not sure the English language contains words sufficient enough to convey the sheer contempt I have for these fools. Oh sure, there's always the reliable stream of inventive expletives, but sometimes circumstances call for something special. The too-clever-by-half sign held at half-mast by the addled crone in the photo exemplifies this need. Seriously, le mot juste, granny.

What freedom, one might hesitatingly ask this senile cow, has Barry O taken or threatened to take, that was not already at risk by the previous regime? Is he taking away your Murder She Wrote marathons or something? Precisely how and why is it that you people chose this particular moment to get riled up about creeping corporatism and state power? They're a bunch of Rip van Winkle types -- it's as if they fell asleep under a tree during the Eisenhower administration, and suddenly woke up, engaged with this befuddled yet passionate engagement. Maybe their nee-grow sensor is hooked up to their clapper, and the damned kids on their lawn set it off.

Whatever. They're a bunch of jerkoffs, completely detestable, not the least for their hypocrisy. Any time one of these human prunes is photographed "protesting", preening with some bullshit sign about their freedom to be a public jackass, the question needs to be asked, perhaps even by the journamalist giving them free coverage -- are you on Medicare, do you collect Social Security? Are you in any way, shape, or form receiving aid from the big ol' eeevil gubmint? If so, then kindly go fuck yourself. Hard.

I have yet to see, hear, or read about a single teabagger coherently defend or elucidate any of their "principles", and it's not for lack of trying to find an honest protester. The fact of the matter is that Obama, as a member of the center-right wing of the Corporate Party, has upheld almost all the policies of his universally-loathed predecessor, who hailed from the far-right wing of the Corporate Party. There is legitimate protest to be found and mined here, and somehow these obtuse individuals have failed, and continue to fail, to see it right in front of their gin-blossomed noses.

Worse yet, their name doesn't even make sense. They're not the pseudo-patriots they think they are. Here's the thing, you goddamned retards -- the Boston Tea Party was organized to protest taxation without representation. You, on the other hand, have elected representation. You may not like it, you may disagree with it, you may rant and rave about it even as you sell off your fungible assets in order to hoard gold because Glenn Beck told you to, but you do have duly elected representatives. There was an election, it was in all the papers and everything. They don't represent your interests, true enough, but mostly you just don't like how it turned out. Your name, dear morons, doesn't mean what you think it means. Epic fucking fail, assholes.

If it were up to me, I'd set these hypocritical codgers out on an ice floe, reminding them of their ultimate destiny as a steamy pile of polar bear shit. Failing that, I'd settle for the media asking them some questions and forcing them to elaborate on their oh-so-brilliant placards once in a great while. Collecting government largesse while simutaneously bitching about it should be an instant disqualifier from the debate, at the very least.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


Taibbi is being rhetorical, of course, but I think we all know what Rick Santelli "means" by saying that you can't cheat an honest man. It's just that Rick Santelli is a loud and proud spokes-tool for profoundly dishonest people to begin with, a nasty symptom of a deeply compromised media system. Who the hell is Rick Santelli, and why does he have a teevee show, and what sort of person should take his spoutings at all seriously? Were those questions to be adequately answered, Santelli would probably be selling sacks of oranges at the corner of Woodruff and Rosecrans (I spent a few magical summers from ages 10-13, in the late '70s, nearby on the Faywood Street that runs off the Somerset/Woodruff intersection. Good fucking times, Bro Namath. I can show Little Ricky around the 'hood.)

Meanwhile, Frank Rich poses the heavier queries that pester the finer minds of the commentariat; namely, whither Obama the Fighter, sword inexplicably sheathed post-campaign?

The problem is not necessarily that Obama is trying to do too much, but that there is no consistent, clear message to unite all that he is trying to do. He has variously argued that health care reform is a moral imperative to protect the uninsured, a long-term fiscal fix for the American economy and an attempt to curb insurers’ abuses. It may be all of these, but between the multitude of motives and the blurriness (until now) of Obama’s own specific must-have provisions, the bill became a mash-up that baffled or defeated those Americans on his side and was easily caricatured as a big-government catastrophe by his adversaries.

No. The problem is not the absence of a message, it is the absence of a will to fight, more importantly to punch back. Fuck punching back, forget the Republican cheap shots and incoherent teabagger rants. He gets cock-blocked by Mary Landrieu, pushed around by Joe Lieberman, undermined by (ahem) something called Bart Stupak. The problem is a lack of party discipline, an understanding that sometimes it really is better, from a purely operational perspective, to be feared rather than merely respected.

Last week featured the bloodless pimping of Obama's sudden sense of urgency on this here health-care thingy, smash cuts of hortatory rhetoric, encouraging of the masses to alert their duly elected representatives to the crisis afoot.

Listen close, pally -- we did our fucking jobs already. We voted, and some of us even paid due attention after the election circus had left town. Now I'm supposed to harass my neighbors to pester their congresscritters over something they already know goddamned good and well they should do? Just to squeak through an industry-written abortion of a bill that won't change much for most people in the end? Are you fucking serious?

I resent the notion that, despite the unholy amounts of money these people make, we're supposed to continue to do their ground-work for them in our off-hours. Motherfucker, I have a job -- and so do they. What say we all do our damned jobs? You want me to help pass bullshit health-care legislation, pay me mid-six-figures and perks and lifetime free health care and I'll do your grunt work. Otherwise, kindly piss up a rope, Jack. We told you what we wanted a full eighteen months ago, fucking do it already with yer superdupermajority.

Back to Santelli and the media system, how it lets animals like that in. Yesterday and today -- and for all I know, the next week -- the Today show has had "exclusive" interviews with professional scumbag Karl Rove. Forgive my assumption that some vertical integration of ownership between NBC and Rove's publisher exists, but it's not exactly unheard of. But for some reason, I couldn't help but think of the recent death of the late great Howard Zinn, and how different our political culture might be if Zinn or Chomsky or practically any sentient being with opposable thumbs were allowed even 1% of the mass-media time accorded to a fucking piece of shit like Rove. Every time you flip on your teevee and get force-fed intellectual gruel, you can count on that being the very root of the problem.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Bean Ball

I suppose this week would be as good a time as any to reiterate that Jim Bunning is a bastard's bastard, the sort of vicious codger one would normally just write off as a senile coot, but who in fact was a card-carrying asshole even in his ball-playing days. Okay, there ya go, it's been said once again, many times many ways, Merry Christmas, fuck you.

No, Bunning's latest really just reminds me of a few rather important things that, were the media even to consider them, would immediately dismiss them as peripheral, though they are highly central to the system's dysfunctions:
  1. Bunning is retiring at the end of the year, but has this episode alerted Democrats as to the urgency of making sure the homestretch of his term is as miserable as possible? Does anything motivate them to punch back, I mean like ever? Prove me wrong, ladies, prove me wrong and sideline this dickhead for the duration.

  2. The median age in the Senate is 63 years now, with 26 senators in their seventies or older. Are the interests of an increasingly impoverished nation being well-served by an insular group of wealthy old farts -- such as, say, Jim Bunning? Term/age limits would have unintended consequences, but so does wheeling Strom Thurmond into chamber long after his brain had turned to oatmeal.

  3. Parliamentary procedures need to be changed, pure and simple. It has somehow become a token assumption that a supermajority is the only true majority, and now Bunning is able to cock-block a $10 billion apportionment by himself. What the fuck is that, besides the cheap trick of a group of people who each think they could and should be in charge?

Like many of the institutions that determine the course of our lives, these people frequently seem more concerned with the pomp and ceremony of their station than with actual performance. It shows in the results.

Future Breed Machine

I don't know if the Duggars are living up to the true definition of "cult", since they don't seem to do much proselytizing. Of course, they have their reality show to do that for them, not to mention the circuit of mindless network morning shows every time the missus gets knocked up.

Regardless, the "religious" "discussion" about them bores the hell out of me, personally, and is a complete non-starter. Supposedly the kids are generally polite and well-adjusted, the family cares for one another, and unless there's some contravening evidence, it's hard to completely dump on that aspect of it, as creepy and obnoxious as the annual visits to the World's Busiest Womb have become.

But yes, in terms of religiosity, the Duggars merely represent the turgid, entirely predictable apotheosis of the dispensationalist belief in divine providence, in spite of all evidence to the contrary. As most such families can attest, it helps if you never leave the compound.

The idea that a small sliver of a country, one that is only 5% of the world's population to begin with, can eventually outbreed the other half of the world through dogged determination and annual pregnancies is almost charming in its mathematical hilarity. It doesn't help that the Duggars attribute beginning their long, strange trip as a result of, ahem, birth control (or more accurately, a miscarriage supposedly caused by birth control).

Anyway, here's the point (and I do have one): what's true in Bangladesh is true in Arkansas, or Nigeria, or New York City -- the key to alleviating poverty (material and intellectual) revolves more around empowering women, educating them and giving them real freedom in employment and reproductive rights, than any other single controllable factor.

The planet is exhausted and overcrowded, in the midst of a mass unprecedented extinction of mammalian species, methane pockets warming and jellyfish swarming the oceans, etc. It's entirely preventable, and it's just unconscionable that people resort to outdated mysticism of any stripe to justify adding to the problem.

Accidentally On Purpose

You know, I've stuck up for Niall Ferguson in the past because he's really not an idiot, but here I can only assume he's simply being willfully obtuse:

Whether the canopy of a rain forest or the trading floor of Wall Street, complex systems share certain characteristics. A small input to such a system can produce huge, often unanticipated changes -- what scientists call "the amplifier effect." A vaccine, for example, stimulates the immune system to become resistant to, say, measles or mumps. But administer too large a dose, and the patient dies. Meanwhile, causal relationships are often nonlinear, which means that traditional methods of generalizing through observation (such as trend analysis and sampling) are of little use. Some theorists of complexity would go so far as to say that complex systems are wholly nondeterministic, meaning that it is impossible to make predictions about their future behavior based on existing data.

When things go wrong in a complex system, the scale of disruption is nearly impossible to anticipate. There is no such thing as a typical or average forest fire, for example. To use the jargon of modern physics, a forest before a fire is in a state of "self-organized criticality": it is teetering on the verge of a breakdown, but the size of the breakdown is unknown. Will there be a small fire or a huge one? It is very hard to say: a forest fire twice as large as last year's is roughly four or six or eight times less likely to happen this year. This kind of pattern -- known as a "power-law distribution" -- is remarkably common in the natural world. It can be seen not just in forest fires but also in earthquakes and epidemics. Some researchers claim that conflicts follow a similar pattern, ranging from local skirmishes to full-scale world wars.

What matters most is that in such systems a relatively minor shock can cause a disproportionate -- and sometimes fatal -- disruption. As Taleb has argued, by 2007, the global economy had grown to resemble an over-optimized electrical grid. Defaults on subprime mortgages produced a relatively small surge in the United States that tipped the entire world economy into a financial blackout, which, for a moment, threatened to bring about a complete collapse of international trade. But blaming such a crash on a policy of deregulation under U.S. President Ronald Reagan is about as plausible as blaming World War I on the buildup of the German navy under Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz.

Well, certainly the financial regulatory regime did begin its long, inexorable rollback in the '80s, but Ferguson is correct in a backhanded way -- what really set the stage for the current problem has more to do with the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act and the evisceration of any meaningful regulatory and oversight mechanisms. Remember during the 2000 campaign when folks made fun of Dubya's use of the little-known jargon word "securitization"? That's what he meant, friends 'n' neighbors, it's just that after all his other malaprops that magickal season, people just assumed it was another by-product of his hopeless syntax.

At any rate, yes, thanks to animals like Bob Rubin and Phil Gramm, the current economic failures owe much more to Clinton- and Fredo-era policies than to Reagan. Ferguson misses the forest for the trees here though, and I think it's because he's a true believer in the system, not only cannot believe in its capacity to fail, except in the most mystical and theoretical terms, but believes in its goodness, that it is right more than it is wrong.

This is a seductive belief, and it manages to roll in most of us at some point or other. I could probably read Chomsky and Zinn for the next fifty years, and not entirely overcome the socioeconomic conditioning provided by the public school system. I like the idea of anarcho-syndicalism, and a more even societal sharing of risk and reward, even as I accept the idea of hegemon, so long as it's an American hegemon. Why? Because societies are still at the stage where hegemony predominates, and a Chinese hegemon, for example, is even less likely to provide any ancillary benefit to my rational self-interest than a thoroughly corrupted American corporatocracy.

That's just one (rather extended) example, but here's the thing that gets me about Ferguson's baroque naïveté -- he's looking for birth-death civilizational cycles and perturbations for rational explanations. Here's the deal, bro-ham -- what we've gone through, what we're still going through, most of us, this is not a recession, it is not a depression. It is a correction, it is the natural outcome of deliberate actions buttressed by looting and constrained only by imagination.

Consider: a small but economically and politically powerful subset of people grants "loans" which are bullshit, backed by nothing, to a great mass of people, which the small subset knows with absolute certainty will never be able to pay back. They then place bets accordingly, again backed by imaginary assets. When inevitably the scam "fails", they use their financial and political power to force the government to repay their imaginary losses, keep their bonuses intact, and allow them to continue doing "business" as before.

In what way is any of that a "perturbation"? It was not anomalous; it was not unpredictable. It was not a behavioral outlier. It is perfectly in keeping with what is a clear pattern of sociopathic behavior, precisely because of the lack of disincentives to such behavior.

Look, I enjoy the armchair study of collapsonomics as much as the next guy, finding parallels between current events and ancient ruins, looking for causes of systemic failure. Natural disasters, internal corruption, barbarian onslaught, lack of moral fiber -- it's the ultimate in Monday morning quarterbacking. But there's nothing accidental about any of this. The Wall Street rentiers knew and know precisely the consequences of their actions -- there are none. Why wouldn't they continue to do so?

Immediately after the recent earthquake in Chile, we heard plenty of mortified plaints about looters and such, vile opportunists taking advantage of everyone else's misery. At least in Chile, the looters didn't actually cause the earthquake. There they get shot; here they get to keep their fucking retention bonuses through sheer chutzpah. It's a mistake to continue believing in the historical tendencies of goodness and rationality and utilitarian integrity of "the system" anymore -- these people have been given unbelievable control and leverage, and they're rotten to the goddamned core, utterly indifferent to anything but getting theirs.