Friday, August 6, 2010

Good Morning, All. It has been nicely cool this morning and the highs are supposed to stay near normal--mid 80s--with low humidity. Hopefully I can keep the air off. The heat will come back Sunday--blast!!!

I found this New York Times article first thing this morning. I simply can't enough swear words to express my disgust. So the big banks screwed each other. They screwed homeowners. They screwed the taxpayer on the national level. And, it seems, they have screwed many of the nation's school systems (and, potentially, individual teachers who may find they have no pensions after all.) How I would love to put stakes in those vampires' hearts!!! But our government wouldn't even (and probably won't in the future) break the b@*&#@ds up.

Ezra Klein has a 'right on the money' post this morning. He is especially right in tarring both sides of the political aisle with the same brush. Neither side is really interested in working on compromises that might benefit the country as a whole. Both are terribly interested in winning the next election and believe that means stymying the other sides--even if the suggestions that side offers have real merit (perhaps especially if they have merit.) That is why little gets done and what is accomplished is so diluted and compromised as to be ineffective.

Klein also has some good comments on the Missouri vote last week in which voters tried to invalidate the individual mandates in the health care reform legislation. But his points go beyond the notion of a state invalidating Federal law (which had actually been decided by Andrew Jackson's martial moves against North Carolina during the nullification crisis and by the Civil war). Klein touches on a problem that is infecting the country from top to bottom--a crisis in legitimacy. Symptoms of the crisis are everywhere. Birthers continue to insist that Obama 'show them the birth certificate.' And even if they were convinced that the birth certificate did in fact show he was a 'natural born' citizen some claim his youth abroad invalidates his citizenship--which is a crock of s**t. Arizona officials continue to insist that the Federal government not only 'do its job' with respect to immigration but that the Feds do the job the way Arizona wants them to. And if the Feds don't they claim the right to do it themselves no matter what the Constitution says. Republicans in Congress continue to stymie needed legislation and appointments even though they are only one-third of the Congress. The notion that the majority rules is wonderful unless you are, like them, a minority. Now many are hypocritically opposing measures various of their own members proposed when they had a majority. But the key here is neither side acknowledges the legitimacy of the other or the legitimacy of laws that they themselves did not propose or the legitimacy of laws they them selves propose but the other side adopts or of facts that contradict their dearly held beliefs.

Well, now that the Russian government has prohibited wheat exports the story about the heat wave and the significantly diminished wheat harvest is making the mainstream media. This story from the Financial Times is only one of many today. The story actually made the morning news here along with the admonition that we should expect higher prices for bread and everything else made from wheat. Russia is, normally, the third largest exporter of wheat. The ban has left major customers, like Egypt and Indonesia, scrambling. I have been reading about this and sketching out the implication in my own mind for the last three weeks. That is when it really hit the blogosphere.

Another interesting story comes out of Washington. A sudden crop failure may be associated with residual amounts of long-lasting herbicides that have wound up in compost. Many of those affected are organic farmers and gardeners who never applied the herbicides themselves but used compost from animals who ate hay that was treated with the chemicals. A similar round of crop failures occurred a decade ago and was traced at that time to herbicides. Regulators face a daunting task in tracing the herbicides from the farms that applied them to hay and wheat to the animals that ate the hay to the compost made from their manure and finally to the farmers who bought and spread the compost on their own fields. Some are as far away as California. Rather reminds me of trying to trace melamine tainted components of baby formula and pet food back to the supplier in China.

Tim Rutten apparently has read the same history I have and sees similar parallels in our political situation. His notion that we are in the middle of a 'moral panic' may not be far from the truth. The last full blown moral panic we had in this country came in the 1950s. That decade saw the rise and fall of Joe McCarthy, massive fears of homosexuality, the comic-book burning craze which resulted in the repressive Comics Code which enforced an infantilism on the medium that lasted until the 1980s and 1990s. If that is anything to go by, we will be spending the next decade in an extended insane asylum. In some ways we never really left it. After all the Cold War seems to have moved seamlessly into the War On Terror--even if the Obama administration wants to discontinue the use of the term if not the war itself.

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