“The emperor was devoted to the worship of the gods, to the study of magic, and to the belief of oracles. The prophets or philosophers, whom he revered as the favorites of Heaven, were frequently raised to the government of provinces, and admitted into his most secret councils.”

Bush’s Social Security plan, the NYT intones with all the solemnity of a eunuch’s mass, will establish his place in history. This is rich – the issue isn’t, as you might have thought, the wholesale robbery of your social security, already borrowed against to provide tax breaks for the investor class, but whether, in the future, some school textbook will mention Bush II. The paragraph devoted to him composes itself, no? “Lucky pinhead, elevated by corrupt court, takes vacation and allows U.S. buildings to be blown up, blows up wrong Middle Eastern country in retaliation, blows up national pensions, blows up U.S. economy at large, ascends to heaven from banks of Potomac in the midst of angelic choirs, de-Christianizing disgusted country, Beginning of great U.S. conversion to Islam.” Or something like that.

More interesting than the predator’s ball is this report from a blog we were not aware of, run by Tim Horrocks. In a conference at the Washington University Law School, there was give and take between the head of the odious private military company, Blackwater, and a National Defense University professor:

"They made enemies everywhere," Colonel Thomas X. Hammes, an expert on guerrilla warfare and a senior fellow at the National Defense University told a conference on military contracting last week. He was referring to the tactics used by Blackwater USA, the North Carolina company that was hired by the Coalition Provisional Authority to provide security for L. Paul Bremer, the US administrator who was dispatched by the Bush administration to run Iraq in 2003.

A few minutes earlier, Chris Taylor, Blackwater's vice president for strategic initiatives, had boasted about the protective cordon his company provided to Bremer. Under a "turnkey security package" with the CPA, Bremer was accompanied by 36 "personnel protection specialists," two K-9 dog teams and three MD-530 helicopters built by Boeing Corporation.”

Bremer’s court reminds us irresistibly of Gibbon’s description of the Eastern Court as Julian found it:

“He questioned the man concerning the profits of his employment and was informed, that besides a large salary, and some valuable perquisites, he enjoyed a daily allowance for twenty servants, and as many horses. A thousand barbers, a thousand cup-bearers, a thousand cooks, were distributed in the several offices of luxury; and the number of eunuchs could be compared only with the insects of a summer's day. The monarch who resigned to his subjects the superiority of merit and virtue, was distinguished by the oppressive magnificence of his dress, his table, his buildings, and his train.”

This is a post of random thoughts today. Let's end it with a little idea about pensions. We've debated these things with the excellent, libertarian inclined Paul Craddick on his weblog. Paul claims that left bloggers are sticking their heads in the ground and acting like ostriches if they don't see the crisis looming in Social Security. An aging population, a benefits package that has to be supported with funding that gradually runs short. Sounds, actually, just like GM's pension problems. The real key to the 'social security crisis' is that it is the sum of the crisis in American pay, starting about 1980. As the country's economic policies tilted towards banana republic rewards for the rich, those same policies pegged wages at a level that has risen remarkably little, given inflation, over the past twenty five years. The solution Middle Class America found was sending both parents into the market place, and taking advantage of the end of the Usury laws. But, of course, if your economy is going to massively chisel the producers of wealth and reward the parasitic upper management class, and if you are going to base your social security on the wages of the producers, you do get a variety of crises. Solution: redress the balance. Distribute money back to the producers. Double the minimum wage, encourage unions, tax the wealthy at a pre-Reagan rate, and keep the Polizei (on all levels) from interfering with the massive strikes necessary to redo our business organizations. Pretty simple. Capitalism isn't going to be, and we'd say shouldn't be, overthrown by these simple measures -- it will simply work more efficiently on the distribution end than on the production end for a while. If wages stagnate, we get funding shortfalls for everything. There is, indeed, something bold and brassy about a President who has presided over the various audacious raids on the American economy to reward the wealthiest, while watching unemployment reach irrational levels and wages, in real terms, diminish, then throw up his hands in horror at a pension crisis. This is high comedy, fit for an administration that has the intellectual punch of a cancelled sit com.

Well, we bet the call for diminishing inequality of wealth to solve the so called Social Security crisis isn't going to get a hearing anytime soon, but someday, yes, the NYT will be wondering if this was LI's ploy to go down in the history books.