Friday, March 05, 2004



So I come home.

So I come home and I am already unhappy. So I come home and I already know that once again, four weeks after I sent the invoices to these various places I’ve worked at, there will be no check in the box for me. So I come home, and I have a rash, a poison ivy rash, because I worked pulling out weeds and tangled up vines and rogue lantana and shit for my man, and there must have been poison ivy among the mix, and though a rash on my arms is take-able, I’ll lose a little sleep, yes, with the desire to scratch, the bad thing is that this poison ivy rash has somehow got on my dick, which hasn’t happened to me before, how it got there I’d rather not think, although actually, the hand to dick thing peeing at the hamburger place after pulling up the weeds must have done it, not that I am so unaware that I usually don’t wash before I pull it out when I suspect I might have been around poison ivy, but I must have. So I come home and I’m walking home wondering the usual wonder in my head, that money whisper, how am I going to make it, how am I going to make it. So I come home and there is a green notice on the door, last thing I need, very last thing. So it is from the electric company, I sent them sixty but no, the electric company has lately been putting its thumb on the deadbeats and the poor, and I have had to fight with them every month. So I come home and see this and burst into tears, because with the poison ivy on my dick and the no money in the mailbox and the no future that I can see spreading out, one more year, before me of fighting with the electric company and pulling weeds and not getting paid for my work all so that I can survive in this little efficiency like a fly dying in a bottle, I am not happy. So I am not at all happy and crying and dialing the number printed on the green ticket, and of course the number takes me to a fucking forever menu of choices, one of which, the disconnect or problems with the bill, is my choice of choices. So I’d like to disconnect. So I’d like to disconnect permanently. So I wait, and I wait, and I wait, and I’m pacing and crying and cussing the electric company, and time goes rudely by, fifteen minutes. So I finally hear a voice at the other end, coming through the receiver I’ve put down, and I take the receiver up and I get into our shit, the electric company’s and mine. So I begin by noting the rudeness of the wait, and how typical that rudeness is, and how I’ve paid sixty, and the man at the other end is how I have to pay one hundred sixty more, I have to pay the whole bill, no way I can pay the whole fucking bill, sir watch the language, this is the back and forth, this is the discourse coming out of our mouths, this is the shit we are getting into. So I am I don’t fucking care about my language, I don’t have one hundred sixty, do you want to suck my blood, do you want me to die, I can maybe come up with twenty, fucking twenty, and he is you are late on your payment plan so you have to pay the whole thing. So I am yelling now, and he is do you want to speak to my supervisor, and I am yeah, let’s do that, knowing that that was going to happen, it always happens. So I am not feeling strong, or good, or able here, and the phone gives me the disinterest and fake-y music, classical music, for another five ten minute interval, corrupting whatever that music was into the usual corporate doorstop that they stuff in my ear, if my ear was attached to a guy dumb enough to be pressing the phone for all that length of time. So the other guy finally comes on, and exhaustion has set in, and he offers me a deal – in a week, if I can come up with forty two dollars, I can actually keep my electric service until next month. So of course I’m grateful, I mean how long has it been since I’ve had any marrow whatsoever in my spine, I bend over, I kiss ass, I would kiss so much ass if ass was presented, and I say to the guy, I say, tell the gentleman I was talking to that I apologize for the language. So I say that. So tonight I feel exactly as though I’d been excreted into my worst nightmare of a world, there are acidic threads, there are balls of fat, there is a world of brown before my eyes like I'm drowning in browns down toilet crytic halls, and what I want to know is how do they do it? So how do they off themselves, these Wall Street guys, the ones that have everything and then the bad bet comes in and the stock is worthless and they fling themselves from high windows, or the gas in the garage, or maybe take out the family. So how do they get the courage to do that, and why have I never even held a serious knife to my veins, in spite of my stock having been worthless in every department in every sad sexual existential monetary human way for five to ten years at least, at least, at least...

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Liberty and Virtue! When! oh When will your Ennemies cease to exist and or to persecute!
Our Country will be envied, our Liberty will be envied, our Virtues will be envied. Deep and subtle systems of Corruption hard to prove, impossible to detect, will be practised to sap and undermine Us and the few who penetrate them will be called suspicious, envious, restless turbulent ambitious -- will be hated unpopular and unhappy
But a Succession of these Men must be preserved, for these are the salt of the Earth. Without these the World would be worse than it is. Is not this after all the noblest Ambition. Such Ambition is Virtue. Cato will never be Consull but Catos Ambition was sublimer than Caesars, and his Glory and even his Catastrophy more desirable.
--John Adams

Well, it is Kerry in the one corner, and deep and subtle systems of Corruption hard to prove in the other. Except those systems aren’t really impossible to detect – we know all about Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. As for Kerry, his vote to give the Prez power to declare war on Iraq shows that he’s given his heart to Corruption before. This is the point the Dean people make, and they are right.

However, oddly enough, this election, we don’t care. We think that Bush has to be pushed out. Kerry’s the man to do it. All his vices – his pomposity, his flip flops, his vanity – have been changed into virtues in this campaign. They have made him seem serious, seem to hew to the radical center, seem presidential. It is easy for a presidential candidate to seem more presidential than a man who utters phrases like “bring it on” when asked about our war dead. Bush habitually speaks like someone’s retarded child trying to hold the picture of Jesus right side up as he reads his Sunday School book report. Contra the asinine spin purveyed by Todd Purdem in today’s NYT(“Mr. Bush has shown himself to be a sharp, disciplined, resourceful political infighter when his back is against the wall. "No more Mr. Nice Guy" may now be the phrase of the day.”), Mr. Bush has had the luck never to really campaign with his back against the wall. As a class clown, it was hard not to like him against Al Gore’s imitation of a smug class valedictorian. As Mr. Mission Accomplished, I think he will amply exploit his opportunities to look ridiculous. It is a matter of the Dems seeing through the media spin to the man. If they do, they will nail this campaign.

Behind the campaign, however, there is the sickly state of the State. The Economist published a pretty harsh article last week entitled “The Phoney Recovery.” In it, they skewered, with their conservative economic sense, the ‘biggest credit bubble in history.” In other words, our economy, circa 2001-2004.

We loved these two grafs – and by the way, the romance with Greenspan seems to be on its last legs:

“Although concerned about budget deficits, Mr Greenspan argued this week that the recent surge in household debt is relatively harmless for the very reason that it has been accompanied by big gains in household assets. According to such an interpretation, the drop in household saving, to only 1.5% of personal income in December, is no cause for alarm: households no longer need to save, because rising wealth in shares and homes will do it for them.

The snag is that the "wealth" being built up is partly phoney. In a recent report, the Bank of England argued that rising house prices do not create genuine wealth in aggregate. Those who have yet to buy a home suffer a loss of purchasing power, so rising prices redistribute wealth, they do not create it. More serious is that the price of homes or shares can fall, while debts are fixed in value. In the long run, the only way to create genuine wealth is to consume less than income, and to invest in real income-creating assets.”

In other words, like everybody’s favorite Oscar movie this year, Americans are opting for the hobbit economy. Build those hobbit houses and mortgage those hobbit houses and sing those Celtic songs, boys, cause the jobs ain’t coming back. Or something equally elvish.

The article also contrasts the most startling evidence, to our mind, for the effect of trying to maintain an economy with the most unequal distribution of wealth since the thirties with a burden of entitlements that were accrued for a very different economy from the forties through the nineties.
“Strikingly, although GDP has grown by a robust 4.3% over the past year, wage income rose by barely 1% in real terms. According to Kurt Richebacher, an independent economist who publishes a monthly newsletter, wages and salaries have, on average, increased by 9% in real terms in the first two years of previous post-war recoveries, but have been almost flat over the past two years, thanks to the sickly jobs market.”
We think the last phrase is a bit misleading. It isn’t only the sickly jobs market, it is that wages in jobs, for the employed, are pretty much at a standstill. In other periods of globablisation, the tremendous wealth amassed by the top 1 percent has been redistributed, by the force of unions and a militant working and middle class, downward. Not this time. So the reserve army of the unemployed can’t be the entire cause of the flatness of wage increases.


The thriller as history

The news that France is dealing with a mysterious AZF – a group or an individual – who is threatening to put ten bombs on ten train tracks resembles a less than A list Frederic Forsyth novel. Here’s a translation of Liberation’s sidebar article about one aspect of the incident:

“The mysterious group AZF that is attempting to blackmail the minister of the Interior with a bomb – with proofs at hand and an actual bomb laid on the Paris-Toulouse line on February 21, on the level of the viaduc of Rocherollers, near Limoges – put in place a system of communication with the investigators of one branch of the national police that operated uniquely with personal ads in Liberation.
The investigators have found themselves constrained to obey the instructions put into place by the blackmailers, a sort of terrorism against the commons, meaning that they had to organize their rendez-vous and contacts by way of the personals of Liberation, become the involuntary support of this merchandise since mid February. One of these personal announcements went as follows: “My big wolf, don’t take any unnecessary risks; the sooner the better. Give me your instructions, Suzy.”