Thomas Frank, in The Wrecking Crew, describes how slimeballs DeLay, Abramoff and their cronies created their model ideal capitalist society in Saipan. They solved the problem of democracy by buying off the locals, who are U.S. citizens. Even people on food stamps had servants, says Frank. The floods of Asian workers had temporary visas only based on employment (so- called guest worker visas) and no chance of advancement or permanent residency. Frank's tone of contempt and indignation is the right one to use to discuss the nature of these "entrepreneurs" and their fellow creeps:
Variously hailed as "a perfect petri dish of capitalism" (Tom DeLay), a "laboratory of liberty" (Washington Times), a demonstration that "pro-business policies are pro-people policies" (Amy Redenour), or as a place to seek "answers for the rest of the American family," in congressman Brian Bilbray's immortal words...[this] is the product of a unique economic deal the island struck with the world; a deal in which wages can be kept extremely low, workers have no citizenship rights, and virtually the entire power of the state stands behind employers as they extract profit from the toil of others...
For Tom DeLay, the situation was so gratifying that he promised personally to block all efforts to divert Saipan from its chosen course. "Stand firm,"he once told a gathering of the island's overlords. "Resist evil. Remember that all truth and blessings emanate from our Creator."
I almost retched [Frank goes on] the first time I read that. Most liberals I know react the same way. Their mouths hang open; they cannot believe what they are hearing; they seethe with rage...
But in some fundamental way Tom DeLay was right about Saipan. So were all those newspaper columnists and feature writers who described the place as "America's Hong Kong," [etc.]
Yep, the kind of combination free enterprise zone and whorehouse that is so beloved of our masters of the universe.
Grr. Read the book.
More: Nice video of Frank taking a tour around Washington and environs:
Front porch chez Hattie. Too bad you can't smell the fragrance of the white hanging orchids. Many orchids have wonderful perfumes.
We went to one of those slow food gatherings last night at a neighbor's house. It was an all tapas and Spanish wine event. I made chorizos with red sweet peppers and breaded mussels on the half shell and also brought Spanish almonds from Trader Joe's. The best dish was octopus, or tentacles as Terry likes to call it. It's only very recently that Spanish wine has become available here, and some people were tasting it for the first time. It is different: oaky and sometimes harsh. It goes well with Spanish food.
We borrowed the neighbor's truck the other day and made a green waste run. We shred and chop most of the waste, but things like banana stumps and fronds and coconut fronds have to go out to the dump. We had some other stuff, too, because the chopper shredder is on the fritz.
They grind the waste up and sell it as compost.
Correction: Terry informs me that they compost it and you can pick it up for free or have it delivered. Interested?
It was on March 23, 1985, that Billy Joel married leggy supermodel Christy Brinkley. They divorced in 1994. Thanks to Wikipedia I am always sure of my Billy Joel facts these days. Rebelling against his upper middle class background, which included such emasculating features as piano lessons, he parlayed his musical skills and "working class" persona into millions gained and lost. Now he has a very young wife and how's that working out, fella? Real good, I hope, because as a huge fan I wish you all the best.
An article in the New York Times explains how the economy of Portland is disintegrating. It's a good overview. But Michael Powell, owner of Powell's books and featured in the article, who is cancelling a big expansion project, is hardly a typical victim of the downturn. Hasn't he lost a lot of business to electronic publishing? If I can get classics virtually for free and best sellers and foreign language books on my Kindle for less than $10.00 I'm not likely to shop at Powell's. I do go there whenever I'm in town and have even met Naomi twice in the coffee shop, but it's been ages since I bought any books there except for the occasional title. And even after moving here to Hawaii, for years every time I went to Portland I would come back with a suitcase full of books from Powell's.
Portland has always had a fine selection of small independent booksellers. I wonder how they are doing.
Thomas Frank has written three books. The best known is What's the Matter with Kansas, which analyzed the political nature of resentful white people who vote against their economic interests, the kind of people who found their poster girl in Sarah Palin. HIs first book, One Market under God, was terrific, too.
After watching this interview, I downloaded Frank's latest, The Wrecking Crew, onto my Kindle. It cost $10.00. and took less than a minute to show up on my screen. Wow. Think of all the trees Kindle will save.
It's amazing that I can have a regular media central in my office. I can't believe how easy it is to access information from way out here in the middle of the Pacific. These modern times are really something.
From NPR. It's complete nonsense to tell women they should be raising children they can't provide for properly. Most women can avoid unwanted pregnancies if they have birth control. But women are losing their medical coverage as jobs disappear, and some states do not provide contraceptives and abortions to women on Medicaid. Hawaii does.
I think the best solution for most women is a barrier contraceptive with abortion as a backup. I appreciate that the pill and other hormonal methods offer a lot of freedom, but there are the side effects and the never properly researched long term effects on women's health and the health of their offspring.
It was such a relief to me after living in Switzerland, where at the time abortion was illegal, to return to the U.S. where I could use a barrier method without fearing pregnancy. It is amazing to me the numbers of young women who have never even seen one of these simple yet most effective objects. I had two children and no unwanted pregancies during my reproductive years. And no abortions.
There needs to be a lot more frankness and a rational approach to reproduction. The Catholic Church and many fundamentalist churches are constantly pouring forth anti- contraceptive and anti-choice propaganda. The upshot for many families is that they have more children than they can afford to raise. This has actually affected the incomes and standard of living of families in these churches. The quiverfulls and the Mormon polygamists are nuts, of course, but it doesn't have to be an extreme situation to be one in which mothers are overwhelmed and children come up short in having their needs met.
Last year the U.S. had the highest number of births since 1957 in absolute numbers. These children are growing into a time of economic devastation. The birthrate's already going down as reality hits home. Europeans and Japanese long ago adjusted to the realities of overpopulaton, but we have not come to terms yet with just how overcrowded America has become in relationship to quality of life and resources available to support the population in comfort and prosperity. The individual decisions of people to have large families at a time like this are socially irresponsible.
Apparently it didn't used to. But the designers of it, while brilliant, maybe did not have such mature brains yet and screwed it all up. I never experienced it when it was good, so I just see this haphazard mess. So I'm not adding any "friends" but sitting tight until I see whether they straighten it out.
More: There is a whiny article on Salon that I won't bother to link to about how put upon some young woman feels that her mother's on Facebook. I think Facebook is an invitation to generational warfare, so I'm abandoning it. And to assure my compliance, I'm taking down my bookmarks and blocking the posts from my G Mail.
These are all actual status updates (with name changes): "Maria is eating Girl Scout cookies. ... Tom is glad it's the weekend. ... Jacinda is longing for some sleep, pillow come to momma! ... Dan is going to get something to eat. ... Anne is taking Tyler to daycare. ... Amber loves to dip. I can dip almost any food in blue cheese, ranch dressing, honey mustard, sour cream, mayonnaise, ketchup. Well, I think you get the point." Yes. Uncle. Please make it stop. For the love of God, we get the point.
It is just too beautiful around here right now for me to keep being angry. So in lieu of the usual hard-hitting commentary, let me present some photos of the beauties that surround us. (As usual, click for enlargements.)
Shade house. This is where my orchids grow.
Peppermint candy striped anthurium
Orchid (don't know what kind, but isn't it pretty?)
We power our household with photovoltaics (R).We got 21 kWh yesterday, so we'll start making up what we did not generate during the recent rainy period. The other panels up higher are the solar hot water generators. Maybe four or five times a year we have to turn on the electric emergency water heater.