That's "Campana-stan" or ''Land of Campana." It reflects the Weltanschauung of Michael E. Campana, President-for-Life of the Republic of Campanastan. Welcome to Campanastan - no passports or visas required!
Thirsty in Suburbia Gayle Leonard documents things from the world of water that make us smile: particularly funny, amusing and weird items on bottled water, water towers, water marketing, recycling, the art-water nexus and working.
WaSH Resources New publications, web sites and multi-media on water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH).
Water 50/50 From Jay Famiglietti at UC-Irvine. Fifty lectures in fifty weeks: The 2012 Birdsall-Dreiss Distinguished Lectureship. A global lecture tour delivering the message about our changing water cycle, groundwater depletion, and the future of freshwater availability.
Water For The Ages Abby, another PNWer, writes about global water issues with passion and concern.
The former Governator was recently seen wearing his 'I Survived Maria' T-shirt byTMZ.
The Governator may not be as boorish as you think. This T-shirt was actually a gag gift from his staff when he left the governor's office. But he later crossed out '2007' and wrote in '1977', the year he and Maria Shriver started dating.
Wearing it now does seem a bit tacky. I can imagine what Shriver would want to wear.
“To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women!” -- Arnold Schwarzenegger, as Conan the Barbarian
Last May I paid tribute to one of baseball's great sluggers - Harmon Killebrew - who had recently died. What's more, I noted the 'Killer' - a misnomer if there ever was one - was truly one of baseball's nicest guys. He was just a humble kid from Payette, ID, who could hit the ball a country mile.
Last week, a guy similar to Killebrew, slugger Jim Thome, reached a milestone that Harmon never achieved - 600 home runs. In fact, only seven others have reached that milestone. Thome became the oldest player (40) to do it but required the second fewest at-bats to do so. He also has the fifth fewest at-bats per home run (13.68). Only Mark McGuire, Babe Ruth, Ryan Howard, and Barry Bonds have lower figures.
Like Killebrew, Thome is a nice guy, once voted the second friendliest player in the major leagues by his peers. He still lives in his hometown of Peoria, IL. He is putting his ten nieces and nephews through college.
In the minor leagues he once got into a fight with the Braves' Chipper Jones, but the two became good friends.
Some question whether Thome will make the Hall of Fame. To me, it's a no-brainer, but he will be tarred with the stigma of playing in the 'steroids era', even though as far as I know, no one has ever implicated him and he has the repuation of being a 'clean' player. His career stats are already better than Killlebrew's. But Killebrew did win a Most Valuable Player (MVP) award and led the American League in home runs (6 times) and runs-batted-in (3 times). Thome is the better all-around hitter, although his strikeouts rank #2 behindReggie Jackson. He has a higher on-base percentage, scores a lot of runs, and has well over 1, 000 extra-base hits. It is true that he has not played in the field much since 2007.
Like Killebrew, he will not be remembered for his fielding although he was a decent first basemen. During his best years he played mostly with a small-market team (Cleveland), overshadowed by the likes of Albert Belle and Manny Ramirez, so he did not get the media attention that others got. He was also a 'lunch bucket guy', meaning that he came to work each day, ready to play, without much fanfare or fuss. He's good in the clubhouse, and "plays the game the way it should be played".
Will he dilute or diminish the Hall of Fame? No way; he'll enhance it.
Just like Harmon Killebrew did.
"My dad told me when I went into high school, 'It's not what you do when you walk in the door that matters. It's what you do when you walk out.' That's when you've made a lasting impression." -- Jim Thome
TRADITIONAL CAPITALISM. You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income.
AN AMERICAN CORPORATION. You have two cows. You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when the cow drops dead.
A FRENCH CORPORATION. You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows.
A JAPANESE CORPORATION. You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create clever cow cartoon images called 'Cowkimon' and market them worldwide.
A GERMAN CORPORATION. You have two cows. You reengineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.
A BRITISH CORPORATION. You have two cows. Both are mad.
AN ITALIAN CORPORATION. You have two cows, but you don't know where they are. You break for lunch.
A SWISS CORPORATION. You have 5000 cows, none of which belong to you. You charge others for storing them.
A CHINESE CORPORATION. You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim full employment and high bovine productivity. You have the newsman who reported on the numbers arrested.
AN INDIAN CORPORATION. You have two cows. You worship them.
A MALAYSIAN CORPORATION. You have two cows. You signed a 40-year contract to supply milk at 0.06 per lit. Then midway you raised the price to 0.60 or you cut supply. When the buyer agrees to the new price, you change your mind again and now want 1.20. The buyer decided you can keep the milk and they go look for milk that comes from recycled cows. Your two cows retire together with the PM.
A SINGAPOREAN CORPORATION. You have two cows: One "cow-peh" and one "cow-bu". Both are owned by a government linked corporation.
While I was chatting with the First-Lady-For-Life last night, she related some stories of locals buried in the verdant forests of Oregon who believe that the UN is behind recent land-use restrictions. These conspiracy theorists give a lot of credit to the UN, who probably couldn't find its own ass with both hands.
But yes, the UN'sblack helicoptersperiodically patrol the skies looking for freedom-loving people to harass. Idaho seems particularly susceptible to BHs - probably because of its great percentage of freedom-loving citizens with huge weapons caches (only Utah comes close).
But our UN BHs for real? Our discussion reminded me that years ago, whole I was working in Vienna in the fall of 2002, I stumbled upon the mother lode of BHs. Below is what I wrote. The first paragraph sets the stage by describing the rampant anti-Ameircanism I experienced at the UN complex.
I have noticed a rise in anti-American sentiments at the UN complex. At first I attributed it to Dubya's Iraq policy, but that was not the cause. The Starbucks invasion? Nope. I then learned that prices were rising in the Commissary and whose fault was it? The USA's! The fact that we have procrastinated in paying our UN dues has finally forced the Commissary commissar to raise prices dramatically, thus fomenting the ill will towards us. Cuban cigars just went up to 75 cents each, and premium single-malt Scotch now goes for $8 per liter. I can barely show my face around here! Please write your elected officials and describe the suffering now rampant here and ask them to fork over the billion or so we owe.
You're all aware of the infamous black helicopters the UN purportedly has in parts of the USA. Many of us attribute these sightings to the fringe elements of American society, but I have news for you: they (the helicopters, that is) exist! While deep in the bowels of the UN parking complex a few weeks ago looking for bicycle parking, I stumbled upon a huge floor with nothing but - you guessed it - black helicopters! Must've been hundreds of them. I actually encountered the man who is in charge of them: the Schwarzkoptermeister himself, Heinrich "Heinie" Assen. He was kind enough to give me a tour of his facility, and it was clear this was a man with pride in his work. He told me that there were actually many more Schwarzkopters, but that most of them were on assignment, although he could not specify where. But I did notice one that had "Idaho or bust!" scribbled on it.
Heinie had an interesting past. He used to be the driver for Kurt Waldheim, the former UN Secretary-General and Austrian President. If you recall, Kurt had some troubles a few years ago -- turned out that was not an old Boy Scout uniform in his closet -- and retired in disgrace. Although Kurt had since left the UN, the powers-that-be decided that they needed to make a statement, so they revoked his lifetime Commissary pass, a coveted privilege granted to all former S-Gs. Legend has it that Kurt was okay until that revocation came through, but that about did the old guy in. For months afterwards, he would stand by the Commissary entrance, hoping to find a friendly face willing to let him slip in behind them. Mala suerte, Kurt!
With that, I should leave. Auf wiedersehen, damen und herren.
"The most popular course at the University of Vienna Law School is Torte Law." - University of Vienna Law School WWW site
"The biggest conspiracy has always been the fact that there is no conspiracy. Nobody's out to get you. Nobody gives a shit whether you live or die. There, you feel better now?" -- Dennis Miller
Classical political economists like Adam Smith or David Ricardo never used the term “economy” by itself. They always used the term “political economy.” For classical economists, it was impossible to understand politics without economics or economics without politics. The two fields are certainly different but they are also intimately linked. The use of the term “economy” by itself did not begin until the late 19th century. Smith understood that while an efficient market would emerge from individual choices, those choices were framed by the political system in which they were made, just as the political system was shaped by economic realities. For classical economists, the political and economic systems were intertwined, each dependent on the other for its existence.
The current economic crisis is best understood as a crisis of political economy. Moreover, it has to be understood as a global crisis enveloping the United States, Europe and China that has different details but one overriding theme: the relationship between the political order and economic life. On a global scale, or at least for most of the world’s major economies, there is a crisis of political economy. Let’s consider how it evolved.
Origin of the Crisis
As we all know, the origin of the current financial crisis was the subprime mortgage meltdown in the United States. To be more precise, it originated in a financial system generating paper assets whose value depended on the price of housing. It assumed that the price of homes would always rise and, at the very least, if the price fluctuated the value of the paper could still be determined. Neither proved to be true. The price of housing declined and, worse, the value of the paper assets became indeterminate. This placed the entire American financial system in a state of gridlock and the crisis spilled over into Europe. where many financial institutions had purchased the paper as well.
From the standpoint of economics, this was essentially a financial crisis: who made or lost money and how much. From the standpoint of political economy it raised a different question: the legitimacy of the financial elite. Think of a national system as a series of subsystems — political, economic, military and so on. Then think of the economic system as being divisible into subsystems — various corporate verticals with their own elites, with one of the verticals being the financial system. Obviously, this oversimplifies the situation, but I’m doing that to make a point. One of the systems, the financial system, failed, and this failure was due to decisions made by the financial elite. This created a massive political problem centered not so much on confidence in any particular financial instrument but on the competence and honesty of the financial elite itself. A sense emerged that the financial elite was either stupid or dishonest or both. The idea was that the financial elite had violated all principles of fiduciary, social and moral responsibility in seeking its own personal gain at the expense of society as a whole.
Fair or not, this perception created a massive political crisis. This was the true systemic crisis, compared to which the crisis of the financial institutions was trivial. The question was whether the political system was capable not merely of fixing the crisis but also of holding the perpetrators responsible. Alternatively, if the financial crisis did not involve criminality, how could the political system not have created laws to render such actions criminal? Was the political elite in collusion with the financial elite?
There was a crisis of confidence in the financial system and a crisis of confidence in the political system. The U.S. government’s actions in September 2008 were designed first to deal with the failures of the financial system. Many expected this would be followed by dealing with the failures of the financial elite, but this is perceived not to have happened. Indeed, the perception is that having spent large sums of money to stabilize the financial system, the political elite allowed the financial elite to manage the system to its benefit.
This generated the second crisis — the crisis of the political elite. The Tea Party movement emerged in part as critics of the political elite, focusing on the measures taken to stabilize the system and arguing that it had created a new financial crisis, this time in excessive sovereign debt. The Tea Party’s perception was extreme, but the idea was that the political elite had solved the financial problem both by generating massive debt and by accumulating excessive state power. Its argument was that the political elite used the financial crisis to dramatically increase the power of the state (health care reform was the poster child for this) while mismanaging the financial system through excessive sovereign debt.
The Crisis in Europe
The sovereign debt question also created both a financial crisis and then a political crisis in Europe. While the American financial crisis certainly affected Europe, the European political crisis was deepened by the resulting recession. There had long been a minority in Europe who felt that the European Union had been constructed either to support the financial elite at the expense of the broader population or to strengthen Northern Europe, particularly France and Germany, at the expense of the periphery — or both. What had been a minority view was strengthened by the recession.
The European crisis paralleled the American crisis in that financial institutions were bailed out. But the deeper crisis was that Europe did not act as a single unit to deal with all European banks but instead worked on a national basis, with each nation focused on its own banks and the European Central Bank seeming to favor Northern Europe in general and Germany in particular. This became the theme particularly when the recession generated disproportionate crises in peripheral countries like Greece.
There are two narratives to the story. One is the German version, which has become the common explanation. It holds that Greece wound up in a sovereign debt crisis because of the irresponsibility of the Greek government in maintaining social welfare programs in excess of what it could fund, and now the Greeks were expecting others, particularly the Germans, to bail them out.
The Greek narrative, which is less noted, was that theGermans rigged the European Union in their favor. Germany is the world’s third-largest exporter, after China and the United States (and closing rapidly on the No. 2 spot). By forming a free trade zone, the Germans created captive markets for their goods. During the prosperity of the first 20 years or so, this was hidden beneath general growth. But once a crisis hit, the inability of Greece to devalue its money — which, as the euro, was controlled by the European Central Bank — and the ability of Germany to continue exporting without any ability of Greece to control those exports exacerbated Greece’s recession, leading to a sovereign debt crisis. Moreover, the regulations generated by Brussels so enhanced the German position that Greece was helpless.
Which narrative is true is not the point. The point is that Europe is facing two political crises generated by economics. One crisis is similar to the American one, which is the belief that Europe’s political elite protected the financial elite. The other is a distinctly European one, a regional crisis in which parts of Europe have come to distrust each other rather vocally. This could become an existential crisis for the European Union.
The Crisis in China
The American and European crises struck hard at China, which, as the world’s largest export economy, is a hostage to external demand, particularly from the United States and Europe. When the United States and Europe went into recession, the Chinese government faced an unemployment crisis. If factories closed, workers would be unemployed, and unemployment in China could lead to massive social instability. The Chinese government had two responses. The first was to keep factories going by encouraging price reductions to the point where profit margins on exports evaporated. The second was to provide unprecedented amounts of credit to enterprises facing default on debts in order to keep them in business.
The strategy worked, of course, but only at the cost of substantial inflation. This led to a second crisis, where workers faced the contraction of already small incomes. The response was to increase incomes, which in turn increased the cost of goods exported once again, making China’s wage rates less competitive, for example, than Mexico’s.
China had previously encouraged entrepreneurs. This was easy when Europe and the United States were booming. Now, the rational move by entrepreneurs was to go offshore or lay off workers, or both. The Chinese government couldn’t afford this, so it began to intrude more and more into the economy. The political elite sought to stabilize the situation — and their own positions — by increasing controls on the financial and other corporate elites.
In different ways, that is what happened in all three places — the United States, Europe and China — at least as first steps. In the United States, the first impulse was to regulate the financial sector, stimulate the economy and increase control over sectors of the economy. In Europe, where there were already substantial controls over the economy, the political elite started to parse how those controls would work and who would benefit more. In China, where the political elite always retained implicit power over the economy, that power was increased. In all three cases, the first impulse was to use political controls.
In all three, this generated resistance. In the United States, the Tea Party was simply the most active and effective manifestation of that resistance. It went beyond them. In Europe, the resistance came from anti-Europeanists (and anti-immigration forces that blamed the European Union’s open border policies for uncontrolled immigration). It also came from political elites of countries like Ireland who were confronting the political elites of other countries. In China, the resistance has come from those being hurt by inflation, both consumers and business interests whose exports are less competitive and profitable.
Not every significant economy is caught in this crisis. Russia went through this crisis years ago and had already tilted toward the political elite’s control over the economy. Brazil and India have not experienced the extremes of China, but then they haven’t had the extreme growth rates of China. But when the United States, Europe and China go into a crisis of this sort, it can reasonably be said that the center of gravity of the world’s economy and most of its military power is in crisis. It is not a trivial moment.
Crisis does not mean collapse. The United States has substantial political legitimacy to draw on. Europe has less but its constituent nations are strong. China’s Communist Party is a formidable entity but it is no longer dealing with a financial crisis. It is dealing with a political crisis over the manner in which the political elite has managed the financial crisis. It is this political crisis that is most dangerous, because as the political elite weakens it loses the ability to manage and control other elites.
It is vital to understand that this is not an ideological challenge. Left-wingers opposing globalization and right-wingers opposing immigration are engaged in the same process — challenging the legitimacy of the elites. Nor is it simply a class issue. The challenge emanates from many areas. The challengers are not yet the majority, but they are not so far away from it as to be discounted. The real problem is that, while the challenge to the elites goes on, the profound differences in the challengers make an alternative political elite difficult to imagine.
The Crisis of Legitimacy
This, then, is the third crisis that can emerge: that the elites become delegitimized and all that there is to replace them is a deeply divided and hostile force, united in hostility to the elites but without any coherent ideology of its own. In the United States this would lead to paralysis. In Europe it would lead to a devolution to the nation-state. In China it would lead to regional fragmentation and conflict.
These are all extreme outcomes and there are many arrestors. But we cannot understand what is going on without understanding two things. The first is that the political economic crisis, if not global, is at least widespread, and uprisings elsewhere have their own roots but are linked in some ways to this crisis. The second is that the crisis is an economic problem that has triggered a political problem, which in turn is making the economic problem worse.
The followers of Adam Smith may believe in an autonomous economic sphere disengaged from politics, but Adam Smith was far more subtle. That’s why he called his greatest book the Wealth of Nations. It was about wealth, but it was also about nations. It was a work of political economy that teaches us a great deal about the moment we are in.
"This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR"
"An expert is somebody who is more than 50 miles from home, has no responsibility for implementing the advice he gives, and shows slides." - Ed Meese
The big difference, of course, is that Lohan screwed up only her own life and the lives of those close to her.
"This won't hurt (me) a bit."
The tragedy of inbred felines.
“Congress Continues to Debate Whether or Not Nation Should be Economically Ruined.” - The Onion
"It is a question that, I think, is worthy of serious consideration: Should we take steps to avoid a crippling, decades-long depression that would lead to disastrous consequences on a worldwide scale? Or should we not do that?" -- Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), from The Onion story
"I'd never run for president. I've thought about it, and the only reason I'm not is that I'm scared that no woman would come forward and say she had sex with me." -- Garry Shandling (courtesy of Jon Winokur)
Circle of Blue Circle of Blue uses journalism, scientific research, and conversations from around the world to bring the story of the global freshwater crisis to life. Here you’ll find new water reports, news headlines, and hear from leading scientists.
Drink Water For Life The idea is simple. Drink water or other cheap beverages instead of expensive lattes, sodas, and bottled water for a set period of time. A day, a week, a month, Lent, Ramadan, Passover, or some other holiday period.
eFlowNet Newsletter From the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) this newsletter has lots of information about environmental flows and related issues.
Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable Since 2002, the Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable (SWRR) has brought together federal, state, corporate, non-profit and academic sectors to advance our understanding of the nation’s water resources and to develop tools for their sustainable management.