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Monthly Archives: January 2011

What’s the Matter with Egypt?

January 30th, 2011 - 11:11 am

In the Stars or in Them?

So what’s the matter with Egypt? The same thing that is the matter with most of the modern Middle East: in the post-industrial world, its hundreds of millions now are vicariously exposed to the affluence and freedom of the West via satellite television, cell phones, the Internet, DVDs, and social networks.

And they become angry that, in contrast to what they see and hear from abroad, their own lives are unusually miserable in the most elemental sense. Of course, there is no introspective Socrates on hand and walking about to remind the Cairo or Amman Street that their corrupt government is in some part a reification of themselves, who in their daily lives see the world in terms of gender apartheid, tribalism, religious intolerance, conspiracies, fundamentalism, and statism that are incompatible with a modern, successful, capitalist democracy.

That is, a century after the onset of modern waste treatment science, many of the cities in the Middle East smell of raw sewage. A century after we learned about microbes and disease, the water in places like Cairo is undrinkable from the tap. Six decades after the knowledge of treating infectious disease, millions in the Middle East suffer chronic pain and suffer from maladies that are easily addressed in the West. And they have about as much freedom as the Chinese, but without either the affluence or the confidence. That the Gulf and parts of North Africa are awash in oil and gas, at a time of both near record prices and indigenous control of national oil treasures, makes the ensuing poverty all the more insulting.

The Old Two-Step

All this has been true for forty years, but, again, instant global communications have brought the reality home to the miserable of the Middle East in a way state-run newspapers and state-censored television never could even had they wished.

In reaction, amid this volatile new communications revolution, the Saddams, the Mubaraks, the Saudi royals, the North African strongmen, and all the other “kings” and “fathers” and “leaders” found an effective enough antidote: The Jews were behind all sorts of plots to emasculate Arab Muslims. And the United States and, to a lesser extent, Great Britain were stealing precious resources that robbed proud Middle Easterners of their heritage and future. Better yet, there was always a Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Oliver Stone, or, for the more high-brow, a Jimmy Carter to offer a useful exegesis of American conspiracy, oil-mongery, or Zionist infiltration into the West Wing that “proved” Middle East misery was most certainly not self-induced.

We know the old Middle East two-step that then followed the party line. A Gaddafi or Saddam or a Saudi prince on the sly turned a blind eye to jihadists, or funded them, or in some ways subsidized them — on the condition that they embodied popular outrage but diverted it from Middle Eastern authoritarians to Americans and Israelis. The more “friendly” and “pro-Western” (and the Saudis and the Pakistanis were the past masters at this) would then come to us, deplore terrorism, promise to crack down on it, but also insist that their own thugocracies and kleptocracies were the only fingers in the dike that held back the flood of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Iranian-like theocracy, etc.. Ergo, we were to give money or support or both to those that two-timed us, on the premise that the alternative was surely worse.

And the Response is?

I think the American response was usually over the decades twofold: One, we were to sigh, “Well, Mubarak’s an SOB but he at least is ours and not sending out terrorists to blow up Americans in Lebanon or Saudi Arabia, and he keeps the peace with Israel.” Two, we were to talk grandly of a meaningless West Bank “peace process.” Since our friendly dictators were terrified of their own, they simultaneously winked at terrorists who went after us rather than them, and blamed Israel for the “tension” in the Middle East (yes, the Jews should be behind the corrupt officials who tried to shake down a poor Tunisian one too many times, driving him to self-conflagration — and the ensuing wildfire into the Middle East). The more we promised to pressure Israel, the more we could ignore the misery of Cairo, and the more a thieving Mubarak could perpetuate it.

Pre-Bush Republican realists usually allowed all this in service to “national security,” as in no repeat of the fall of the shah, or the 1970s oil embargoes, or the near disastrous Yom Kippur War and tardy American logistical effort. Democrats did the above as often, but more cleverly added a multicultural, relativist twist of “who are we to judge other systems and cultures when our own is at fault as well (fill in the race, class, gender blanks)?” No one seemed to wish an Eisenhower 1956 Suez solution of rebuking our allies, standing up for principle — and thereby aiding the likes of Nasser and the USSR, while alienating and humiliating our European friends (unforgotten to this day) and Israel.

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Welcome to the Oddball Club

January 26th, 2011 - 9:49 am

The Oddball Club

I receive lots of emails and letters each day, talk to strangers in public, and end up doing a few radio interviews weekly. From all of that back-and-forth, I’ve discovered there is an unofficial oddball club out there — of which I am a member. It is of no particular political persuasion, but clearly at variance with the norms of popular culture.

I think I can roughly delineate the rules of our informal club membership.

We certainly don’t listen to a lot of professors.When Professor Obama called borrowing “stimulus” and now “investment,” we assumed he was not too interested in paying back the $3 trillion that he has borrowed. Cutting a few billion of more trillion-dollar red ink is “fiscal sobriety.”

When “global warming” begot “climate change” that begot “climate chaos,” we in the club figured that grant-writing, release-time applying professors were back at their old tricks. When academics such as Summers, Romer, and Orszag quit and now write op-eds warning us about what they had wrought, we assumed that was par for the professorial course. Sometime in 2004 a professor dreamed up that 5.5% unemployment was proof of Bush’s reckless “jobless recovery,” and sometime in 2011 another one told us that 9.4% was an inevitable result of global structural changes beyond our control.

We in the oddball club live two lives, as sort of wandering souls who censor our speech and thoughts hourly. In line at the market, we assume the guy with the iPhone and the Camry does not really need the VISA-looking state food card, but we accept that that if we were to suggest he might not, a blizzard of venom would fall upon us — we would be called cruel, callous, racist, nativist, selfish, crack-pot, angry, hateful. So we shrug, smile, and say to ourselves: “Why not let him use the card at a restaurant as well?” And so it will come to pass soon no doubt.

In the present wide-open society, we assume that soon we are going to be rear-ended by someone without a license, insurance, or registration, or another is going to confront us for money, violently if need be. We expect a rendezvous like that on the horizon and expect that our reaction to it must be stoic. When my house was broken into, when my car was rear-ended, when I was run down on a bike, I accepted the culprit had his reasons for such a resort to criminality or indifference to statute, and accepted that to say otherwise was more trouble than it was worth. I made private adjustments to prevent a recurrence, as do most oddballs.

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Obama’s Mandela Moment

January 22nd, 2011 - 10:52 am

Anatomy of an Obama moment

In a news-obsessed culture, sometimes the media simply ignores profound stories, such as the cause of the almost inexplicable — and quite brilliantly constructed — recovery of Obama’s poll ratings.

Just a few weeks ago, the negative impressions of President Obama’s performance, in most of the polls, outranked the favorable, and by anywhere from 3-6 points. All the buzz was of Jimmy Carter redux, and the November historic sweep, with even more to come in 2012. Now? Suddenly, Obama is enjoying about a 3-6 point positive edge (5.6 in the aggregate RealClearPolitics latest posting). That’s a dramatic reversal of some 6-12 points in just a few weeks.


Why no in-depth exegesis of that astounding development?

Obama’s recovery was not merely a result of the media-created blitz of December about “momentum,” “recovery,” and “triangulation” after the acceptance of the Bush-era tax rates, the approval of the START treaty, and the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” That bump was only about 1-2 points, and by mid-January Obama still suffered higher negatives than positives.

So are things getting that much better?

So was the upswing due to falling energy prices? Nope — gas and heating costs are skyrocketing, and in part due to new federal restrictions on leasing of oil and gas coupled with an anemic dollar.

Good news on the deficit? Hardly. We’re on schedule to pile up more trillion-dollar-plus annual deficits, as Obama’s own departing economic gurus like Summers, Romer, and Orszag are strangely now warning us of the long-term consequences of their own flawed policies.

Foreign affairs breakthroughs? No again: Putin is still roguish and gleeful about taking us to the cleaners. Ditto looming crises with Iran, Venezuela, and North Korea. The Middle East is a tinderbox. Mexico is a failed state. We have no China policy and are merely passive-aggressive. The world is far scarier than in January 2009.

Obama’s moment

Instead, the current rise is exclusively a direct result of three interrelated phenomena: 1) the tragic January 8, 2011, Tucson shootings; 2) the hysterical left-wing scapegoating of everyone from the Tea Party to Sarah Palin for the violence; and 3) the sudden emergence of a sober and judicious Mandela-like Obama, quite admirably calling for calm on all sides — while suggesting simultaneously that the horrific killings had no connection with the right wing, but also that the horrific killings offer an appropriate moment to reconsider all political zealotry in general.

In the ensuing ten days, Obama’s polls and approval have skyrocketed.

However politically brilliant all of this was, it remains in some sense quite morbid, in a creepy sort of never-waste-a-tragedy sense. The reaction to the killings almost instantly blotted out information about and concern for the dead and maimed. Yet in this entire confusing media circus, questions simply were not only not answered, but in fact never raised.

The inexplicable

In logical terms, how are we to use a moment to reexamine political speech when the moment was explicitly declared not to be connected with political speech at all?

How can a president subtly distance himself from the macabre and revolting behavior of his left-wing base while simultaneously editorializing on unhinged invective in general (e.g., without an embarrassing extreme, there is no occasion to call for moderation from others)?

Why did five days of presidential silence follow the shootings (so unlike instant editorializing about the Mutallab and Hasan incidents), when the likes of Paul Krugman, Frank Rich, Andrew Sullivan, Sheriff Dupnik, and the New York Times rushed in to scavenge political capital amid the carnage? All that might have been bridled with a brief word or two from the White House, a brief Sister Souljah moment admonition to the New York Times to cool it for a while. We know that would have worked, because the Times within hours after the successful Obama speech was calling to cool what it had helped arouse, apparently realizing that its demonization and its refutation of demonization hand-in-glove were politically useful.

And why not some therapeutic confessional of past (and in many cases quite recent) presidential culpability (e.g., the president’s own metaphorical use of knives, guns, enemies, punishing, kicking ass, relegation to backseat, get angry, getting in their face, hostage takers, trigger fingers, tearing up)?

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The War Against Palin Goes On and On and …

January 19th, 2011 - 9:17 am

We Are Civil Now

In emulation of Jonathan Chait’s now infamous 2004 New Republic essay, “The Case for Bush Hatred” (“I hate George Bush—there, I said it”), Slate just published an op-ed, “Why I Loathe My Connecticut Senator” by one Emily Bazelon, with a detailed description of why she “despises” and “hates” Sen. Joe Lieberman (again, the same reason as Chait’s Bush hatred: too conservative and too in power).

So much for the new Obama age of civility.

Palin This, Palin That

In this context, since the moment of the Tucson shootings we have witnessed not just a campaign to smear Sarah Palin with the charge that she, or what she supposedly represents, is responsible for the mayhem, but that her rebuttals themselves are more proof that she is culpable.

Op-ed writers all the time employ the metaphor “crosshairs.” Democrats use targets to highlight their plans to unseat congressional Republicans. “Blood libel” long ago became a generic charge far more than a specific one reflecting its anti-Semitic roots. No matter — if Palin can be tied to any of that, then she alone is guilty of all that. So what is it that so bugs the media elite about Sarah Palin?

Didn’t She Say All That?

Is the problem with Palin that she uses inflammatory language far too loosely given her position of responsibility? Of course, evocation of “enemies, punishing, kicking ass, relegation to backseat, knives, guns, getting angry, getting in their face, hostage takers, trigger fingers, and tearing up” does not suit a national public figure and former vice presidential candidate. Oops, those allusions were Barack Obama’s, not Sarah Palin’s.

Well, then, confess it — Palin has a disturbing tendency to blurt out dumb, even wacky things — a sort of window into her Wasilla vacuity that daily reminds us why she simply is unfit for higher office. Remember when she claimed that the images of Berlin’s Victory Column were photo-shopped phallic symbols? Didn’t she muse about a radio talk show host being blown up “Mr. Big”-style with a CO2 pellet to the head? Sorry again, that was the New York Times’ esteemed columnist Bob Herbert and CNN’s Chris Matthews.

Fine, but she thought people in Austria speak some weird language called “Austrian” and she pronounces “corpsmen” “corpse-men” as if soldiers were some sort of walking dead, and she thinks there are 57 states, and she … sorry, all that and much more was Barack Obama’s, and they were slips after a weary day’s work, not “deep” reflections of reality.

The Great Divider

OK, I think what many people don’t like about Sarah Palin is her tendency to oh so subtly emphasize race — as in her celebration of a largely white anti-government Alaskan culture. That isolation makes her especially inept anytime she must deal with the multicultural, multiracial reality of the lower 48 states. Do we remember in the campaign when she said of Obama — “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man”? Excuse me, that gem was from Senate veteran, eastern-seaboarder, and now Vice President Joe Biden.

Well, what I meant to quote was Palin’s ridiculous description of Obama as a “light-skinned African American,” one “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.” OK, sorry again, that was the work of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

But maybe the rub is Palin’s complete lack of bipartisanship. Did she not as an Alaskan politician have the most partisan voting record in her various offices, or duck issues by serially voting present? Got me again — that was Barack Obama in the state legislature and as a U.S. senator.

Scary Stuff?

But at least admit her political extremism is deleterious to the commonwealth, especially her tendency to go over the top in demonizing enemies with inappropriate and hurtful language. Don’t we remember how she tarred the incumbent administration with the loony charge of “Nazis” or “digital brownshirts”? I apologize again — that stuff came out of the mouths of former U.S. Senators Robert Byrd, Al Gore, and John Glenn.

Well, then, there’s Todd and his strange Alaskan paranoia and his anti-government excess that almost sounds anti-American. Remember when he not long ago just lost it and shouted out that our America “was downright mean” and that America was always “raising the bar” on the Palins? And remember Todd’s unfortunate boast that his Sarah “is one of the smartest people you will ever encounter who will deign to enter this messy thing called politics.” Then, to top that braggadocio off, ol’ Todd blurted out: “For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country.” Scary, militia stuff no doubt.

Sorry again, that was First Lady Michelle Obama.

We could go on, but you get the uncivil picture. The popular hatred of a self-described elite culture toward Sarah Palin is almost inexplicable — whether expressed in Andrew Sullivan’s unhinged efforts to suggest Palin faked her fifth pregnancy, or David Letterman’s slur that she seemed a “slutty flight attendant” and her 14-year-old daughter “was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez,” or CNN guest host Kathy Griffin’s crudity that her next target was the teenaged Palin daughter: “But I think it’s Willow’s year to go down.”

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The Post-Tucson Era

January 15th, 2011 - 10:26 am

The Chrysalis Opens

The new Barack Obama has learned not to offer instantaneous editorial commentary in the fashion of his past editorializing on hearing of the Skip Gates affair, the Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab bombing attempt, the Ground Zero mosque controversy, or the Maj. Hasan mass murdering.

Instead, the metamorphosizing president put his finger to the wind. He soon learned that his leftist base within 72 hours had turned off the public with its demagogic charges of conservative culpability for a deranged killer murdering the innocent. And so Obama summarily jettisoned his leftist scapegoating base. In dispassionate fashion, he figured that within hours the New York Times et al. would Trotskyize their earlier narratives, and most of the left would cease the poll-killing (excuse the metaphor) “climate of hate” narrative.

He was right. The progressive community snapped back into line, reminding the country that the desire for power and status always trumps ideology. Hillary Clinton was especially embarrassed: one day she was sermonizing on foreign soil in morally equivalent fashion about an American version of an “extremist”; the next day, her boss told the world that the only thing extreme about the killer was his own nihilistic madness (and by implication damned those vultures [e.g., Ms. Clinton included] who clumsily try to make political points from tragedy).

Now gone from the Obama rhetorical arsenal (excuse the metaphor) entirely are his old partisan Chicago allusions of both the campaign and last autumn — the potpourri imagery of knives, guns, enemies, punishing, kicking ass, relegation to the backseat, get angry, getting in their face, hostage takers, trigger fingers, tearing up, etc. Instead, all that was replaced by an elegant speech that was also both sober and judicious. Had a Republican given such a sensitive oration, the right would be praising the text for its undeniable logic, humanity, and sense. Many, in fact, in the conservative community did just that.

And the Polls Prove It

The result is that for the first time in well over a year, Obama’s positives outpolled his negatives, and pundits almost immediately evoked Bill Clinton in 1995-6, with all the requisite strained but not necessarily incorrect symptomatology — the Bill Daley chief-of-staff appointment, the cave-in on the Bush income tax rates, and, of course, the continuance of the Bush national security measures here and abroad, with the general amnesia about closing Guantanamo within a year of his inauguration and trying KSM in a Manhattan courtroom. In a world in which the Gulag in Cuba has been reinvented as a campus for “detainees,” anything is possible. And the likelihood in this new age of increased Predators, renditions, and preventative detention that we will ever see another Hollywood Redacted or Rendition is zero.

New, Improved…

Will Obama 2.0 work? Perhaps, especially if conservatives ornate the Clinton ’96 analogy with their own Bob Dole in 2012. But all that said, the wages of hubris — nemesis — are not so easily forgotten. She is a persistent goddess that like a moth to a flame is drawn to narcissism and “I/me/my” self-congratulation.

Then There’s Gas

Obama in 2011 has a rendezvous with $4 a gallon gas and $100 a barrel oil. For two years, the administration has shut down new leasing of fossil fuels in the West; curtailed them in and around the Gulf; pontificated about, but not acted much on, nuclear power; and more or less unleashed everyone from Van Jones to Steven Chu to talk up global warming and talk down finding a necessary window of security in new sources of oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear power until technology and the market transition us to next-generation fuels.

The worldwide recession gave Obama two years of relatively cheap oil and gas, a breathing space which unfortunately he used to fantasize about wind and solar, rather than rush to create expanded sources of tried energy. That tab is coming due. “Drill, baby, drill” was not Sarah Palin’s mythmaking. We forget that what sunk the McCain campaign was the September 2008 meltdown that not only raised specters of a 1929 crash, but soon crashed oil prices as the world went into deeper recession — and gave Obama between 2009-10 relatively cheap gas at the pump and thus a buffer to his otherwise disastrous Keynesian policies.

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Obama—Making it up as we go along.

January 9th, 2011 - 2:40 pm

Being There

Gone is Bush the great Constitution-shredder. Tribunals, renditions, Predators, wiretaps, Iraq, Guantanamo, preventative detention—these are now either embraced or expanded. Iraq (“the surge is not working”) is Obama’s “greatest achievement.” The public I think believes Obama demagogued all those protocols for political advantage, then as commander-in-chief looked at the intelligence, and quietly adopted them all. OK, politicians do that. But how can one “virtually” oppose all that he embraces? Does he just make things up as he goes along, assuming we all have collective amnesia?

The Candidate

The same thing has happened to Keynesian economics that gave us near 10% unemployment and $3 trillion more in debt, taking a bottoming-out recession and turning it into near European-like stasis. Suddenly, the Bush tax rates are critical. There is talk of budget cutting. Red states, not blue states, are proper fiscal models—for liberals as well as for conservatives. Do we believe that a Gov. Paterson had more answers than a Gov. Christie? Government apparently cannot create jobs by printing money. Christina Romer, Larry Summers, and Peter Orszag are gone back to either academia or the big money on Wall Street. Was early 2009 all a dream? Is all this what we call “moving on”?

Elmer Gantry

Ditto what happened to Obama the healer. Was that too just a convenient façade that was to come and go—and come?

Are we no longer all purple state friends, but to be at each other’s throats—and quite literally? Thus the great healer Obama just warned of impending “hand-to-hand combat” if the Republicans take over. He once declared of Sean Hannity that one of his supporters would “tear him up.” He thought he was a Chicagoan Sean Connery in the The Untouchables boasting that “if they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” He advised Latinos “to punish” their Republican “enemies.” Not long ago candidate Obama pontificated that his supporters just had to confront Republicans and Independents and “get in their face.”  We remember his “whose ass to kick” or his relegation of Republican opponents to “hostage takers” and suicide bombers: “Here’s the problem: It’s almost like they’ve got—they’ve got a bomb strapped to them and they’ve got their hand on the trigger. You don’t want them to blow up.”

Obama clearly likes the tough guy imagery of metaphorically slicing, shooting and bombing: “We can’t have special interests sitting shotgun. We gotta have middle class families up in front. We don’t mind the Republicans joining us. They can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back.” So are we back to the Valerie Jarrett, Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, Bill Daley Chicago style? What happened to our new president as Deepak Chopra?

Cyrus Vance redux?

I know Obama has a liberal agenda, but more recently he seems to have no agenda, as he flits about, trying this and trying that, in the manner of a forty-something academic who found out his faculty utopianism does not quite work outside the quad. Is Putin now “on our side” or snickering at our naïveté? Should we try a fifth threat to Iran to stop proliferation by a particular date or else? Are we bullying or not bullying or sort of semi-bullying Israel? Did that outreach to Syria and Venezuela bring dividends yet? Do national security bureaucrats really employ “overseas contingency operations” and “man-caused disasters”—do their foreign counterparts laugh when they receive such memos? Do our anti-terrorism experts really refer to Guantanamo thugs as “detainees” and forbid the use of “jihadist” in discussion of radical Islamic terrorism? Is that still operative?

“Energy Independence”

When gas hits $4 a gallon, will we still stop new offshore exploration, table oil and gas leases in the west for more Van Jones “wind and solar and millions of green jobs” and inflating our tires to avoid the need for new oil drilling rigs? Or is that too all inoperative? Suddenly will Obama claim he was always for nuclear, gas, oil, shale, coal—any and all energy to get gas and power prices back down to tolerable levels?

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Raging Against “Them”

January 2nd, 2011 - 6:22 am

It’s All Greek to Us

In very un-Icelandic fashion, last week protestors in Athens tried to blow up a downtown courthouse. Over a year after the Hellenic meltdown, the Greek newspapers still reflect the popular fury—protests, strikes, senseless violence—at the mandatory cutbacks, the public sector layoffs, and the high-interest needed to attract investors to shaky Greek bonds. And yet amid the furor, 60% of the public still polls in favor of the European Union. How are we to diagnose the drowning non-swimmer who eagerly grasps—and yet hates—the life preserver?

A bit of story-telling: When I lived in Greece in the 1970s, it was a relatively poor country. The road system was deplorable; the airport at Athens was little more than an insulated warehouse. I usually stayed in hotels with bathrooms down the hall. A bus trip of about 200 miles translated into about a six hour marathon. The buses were often of eastern European make and spewed black smoke into the Athenian air whose toxic bite could devour marble. Rail travel was nightmarish (biking was quicker). There was no bridge across the Gulf of Corinth. The Athens “subway” was little more than a 19th century electric carriage.

Greeks’ second homes were one bedroom village affairs. It was rare to see a Mercedes in Athens. I knew one Greek who had a swimming pool. Getting off an island ferry boat usually meant meeting a swarm of older ladies trying to hawk you their extra bedroom for rent.

You get the picture:1970s Greece reflected a small southern Balkan population wedded to a siesta lifestyle, on a rocky peninsula in which there was little wealth other than tourism, a poorly developed agriculture, some shipping, and remittances from Greek expatriates in the United States and Germany.

Fast forward to the post-Olympics Greece: five star hotels, 20,000 plus private swimming pools (most of them unreported for tax purposes), half the work force ensconced in cushy government or government-related jobs, Attica dotted with Riviera-like second homes, BMWs more common than Mercedeses, billions of euros worth of new highways, and a new airport and subway system.

In other words, somehow a country without a manufacturing base and with poor productivity, a small population, an inefficient statist economy, and bloated public sector suddenly went from near third world status to a standard of living not that much different from a Munich or Amsterdam. How? Did Greek socialism produce all that wealth?

Well, we know the answer: northern European cash—borrowed, given, or swindled. The radical new affluence in part was justified by the fact that Germans and Scandinavians wanted good infrastructure and facilities when they went on their annual summer Greek vacations—along with pan-EU pipe dreams and fraudulent Greek book keeping that disguised massive debt.

Now? Oz is over with and the Greeks are furious at “them.” Furious in the sense that everyone must be blamed except themselves. So they protest and demonstrate that they do not wish to stop borrowing money to sustain a lifestyle that they have not earned—but do not wish to cut ties either with their EU beneficiaries and go it alone as in the 1970s. So they rage against reality.

California Got What It Wanted

The same is true of California. Our elites liked the idea of stopping new gas and oil extraction, shutting down the nuclear power industry, freezing state east-west freeways, strangling the mining and timber industries, cutting off water to agriculture in the Central Valley, diverting revenues from fixing roads and bridges to redistributive entitlements, and praising the new multicultural state that would welcome in half the nation’s 11-15 million illegal aliens. Better yet, the red-state-minded “they” (the nasty upper one-percent who stole from the rest of us due to their grasping but superfluous businesses) began to leave at the rate of 3,000 a week, ensuring the state a Senator Barbara Boxer into her nineties.

Yes, we are proud that we have changed the attitude, lifestyle, and demography of the state, made it “green,”and have the highest paid public employees and the most generous welfare system—and do not have to soil our hands with nasty things like farming, oil production, or nuclear power. And now we are broke. Our infrastructure is crumbling and an embarrassment. My environs is known as “Zimbabwe” or “Appalachia” for its new third-world look that followed from about the highest unemployment and lowest per capita income in the nation. Again, thanks to the deep South, our schools are not quite last in reading and math. So of course, like the Greeks, we are mad at somebody other than ourselves. Californians are desperate for a “them” fix. But who is them? “Them” either left, is leaving, or has been shut down.

Consumers are furious at spiking gas and food prices, and the collapse of state revenues. The illegal alien cadre is furious that there are cutbacks in their entitlements. The Latino community says that it cannot support anyone who wants to close the border and opposes amnesty. The public employees are furious in Greek-like fashion at the thought of cuts to pensions and lay-offs. The professors and UC administrators are either suing the state or turning on each other. Where are a few hundred Bill Gates and Warren Buffetts who would gladly pay more in taxes for the rest of us from their ill-gotten gains?

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