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Editorial

The Desire to Remain Sane

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As in the David Sipress cartoon, we walk the razor's edge barefoot every day, a very delicate and daring sequence of dance steps, as described in pen and ink here:  A man and a woman clad in business wear are walking down a town street, with the woman saying to the goggle-eyed and startled-attention man beside her, "My desire to be well-informed is currently at odds with my desire to remain sane."

Perhaps you can relate.  This same thought keeps popping up here, in growing thought-balloons hovering overhead.  I bump into these constantly, getting up to go get more coffee.  It's like brushing up against a bank of ice-fog: chilling ice-crystals suspended in mid-air.

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May the Loudest Bullhorn Win!

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Unlike mega-rich civilian consumers, political winners are not declared by virtue of having the most toys at the end of the game. The winners of political contests are the ones who have won and scraped up the most mountains of money, enabling them to buy the loudest-possible doomsday-bullhorns that money can buy.  The winners are those who can blow out the most voter-eardrums, banging away at the message they choose to endless flay and beat out on their campaign war drums.

So, yes, strictly speaking:  We manage to get the best politicians money can buy, via candidates who can bide their time long enough, then make the most media purchases and advertising air-time buys.  Money poisons anything and everyone it touches throughout politics, and it's amazing anyone lives long enough to actually serve in office, to live through the poisonous process of simply getting the job.

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Bites, Biting, Being Bitten - Part 2

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From sound bites biting back, with biting or back-biting remarks, and on through to being bitten by forbidden love -- as in bacon -- the American experience provides plenty of toothsome food for thought.

Of course, there's nothing like a big bacon-cheeseburger after knocking off early for the day -- although, to insert a medically-approved phrase, there may be nothing like a fat bacon-cheeseburger to end one's days early.

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Bites, Biting, Being Bitten - Part 1

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Food for thought:  There can be no more biting a remark than a world-class microphone gaff -- a sound bite, biting back -- made while on the road, enough to really burn your bacon.

The sizzling little remark was made by President Obama, with microphones around -- always content doing what they are supposed to do, to go scoop and soak up some sound.

It's just the sort of thing to make anyone's hair prematurely gray, just as presidential hairs all do after just a year or so in office.  That's one heck of a pressure-cooker up top, where nothing is black-and-white, where any issue, to move that far up the chain, must be Gordian-knotted into tight, tangled, terrifically-compacted shades of gray.  That far up -- or, that far out on a limb -- saving one's own bacon becomes increasingly problematic, given all the chefs in the kitchen.

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He's Batman.

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Batman really is a superhero, as it turns out.

It began very oddly, as police in Montgomery, Maryland, pulled over a fully-costumed, caped crusader -- spike-earred, face-covering cowl and all -- driving along in a Batmobile, a black Lamborghini sporting Bat-plates.

And so it was, about those plates, that Batman was pulled over, the cops wondering about those plates, that car, that Bat-driver.

The real license plates were inside the car.  The plates that had been mobile, mounted on the Lamborghini, displayed the Bat-symbol.

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There's no bread, but we have circuses

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The corporate media is talking constantly about the lottery, and the potential 2/3 of a billion dollar prize tonight. To their credit they do point out the 176,000,000 to 1 odds and how absurd that is, all the while showing the people lined up for blocks certain they can beat the odds. The people they interview in these lines are all gambling to have the American dream: to pay the bills, send the kids to college, buy a house, help their friends or stray cats, or maybe get their teeth fixed.

A lottery like this is harmless fun in itself, but the tragedy isn’t just the occasional person who spends his or her life savings to buy tickets convinced of the possibility of winning. It’s what our society has come to: that these people are increasingly seen as normal, hopeful people, and not as pathetic. Really, they are the tragic victims of 30 years of Republican economic thinking. For the bottom 80% of Americans, the lottery is their one shot at economic freedom.

When these lotteries started you heard lots of stories about people who spent their life saving because they were sure they could win. You do increase your odds by buying more than one ticket, but not enough to matter. There were even companies formed to buy out all the tickets when the odds were only 50 million to one. It’s physically impossible to do this with the new higher odds.

I’m surprised they don’t raise the odds so high that nobody would ever be likely to win, - they’d still sell tickets. In fact, the states play the lottery too, - the state with the winner gets a nice windfall from the income tax of close to a billion dollars. The state might fill some potholes, but more likely give another tax break to individuals who by themselves make a billion dollars a year, or more, and typically pay no significant taxes.

What to do with that much money if you win? I’ve been giving it some thought, people are always wanting investment advice. The thing is, there is no safe place to put money. Besides the fundamental instability of the crazy situation we find ourselves in, there is a realistic level of paranoia to consider. If you have lots of money you aren’t suddenly allowed past the velvet rope by the one percent’s bouncer.

Having a real money makes you a target for those who make their money by looting and pillaging, they don‘t just go after the middleclass. Even if you invest conservatively, you could wake up one morning and find your investment is now worthless, since most investments today are just paper. Buying hard assets is no guarantee of safety as their value is set by markets that are inflated and then collapse to far lower levels than is realistic.

To be safe with your money, you really need to be in the “too big to fail” class, the people who just “create” money out of thin air, and they don’t let riff-raff like you and me in, no matter how much money we have for now. You weren’t a legacy admission to Yale? Forget about it.

With a couple of hundred million, leaving the country is an option, but you are kidding yourself that you’re really safe. Safety is in numbers, but not the kind on your bank account.

www.prairie2.com

 

Camp 14, Hitler, and Playing the Odds

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It depends how you view it:  How lucky, or unlucky, can any one person get? Here are two books arguing wildly separate cases, two more books identified as must-reads.  It is uncertain who among us will turn-a-dumbed-down-and-blinded, societal eye to either:  Who will bother to low-crawl beneath the barbed-wire past of one of them -- whose head is not already filled with too many fears regarding America's future to sift through the other?  Odds seem heavy against both.

Taken together, this pair speaks of real-life nightmares, cold, bracing bookends embracing all that is harshly dismal and bleak -- salted with flecks of astonishing insight, peppered with humanity.  If you are worthy of the trek, and can bear up under issues of such formidable size, and can render hefty sighs, these are for you.  The books are compelling and will propel you to pinpoints in time and space where no one will hear you screaming -- or, even if someone should, they themselves might be screaming, too.

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