Phoning it In

I have a new Hag Theory about why the economy collapsed, and it might, in an odd and assuredly unintended way, validate that old nympho battle-ax Ayn Rand.  I think that sometime around 2001-2, the political, economic, and media elite in the country all essentially “went Galt,” and, and it seems that none of them can be dragged back, even kicking and screaming, to their jobs to this day.  Worse, a lot of lesser lights have followed them, leading to a sort of sit-down strike in the wheelhouse while the rest of us go down with the ship, listening all the while to the excellent orchestra, of course.

Until recently, running a corporation, country, or media outlet was considered to be, if nothing else, a lot of work.  Perhaps Ken Lay’s universally acclaimed business genius, Clinton’s formidable multitasking skills, and Fox News’ “success” led too many people to believe otherwise, because none of these worthies were known so much for doing anything as they were for basking in the warm spotlight of fame, yet all were treated with equal reverence among their followers.  This delusion turned out to have rather unpleasant consequences in the end, but at the time seemed plausible enough.  They all look the same on TV, so why not go ahead and elect a not-too-bright President who’s never had a job he didn’t fail at?  The Fourth Estate went along, naturally, because as soon as Ken Starr sat down, they did too, and inertia is a powerful thing.

Tentatively at first, but like a tsunami after Bush’s “triumphant” 9/11 “performance,” bigwigs everywhere, from Enron to AIG, from the New York Times to the US Senate, understandably decided they’d been wasting their time at the office, and they might as well go home and clear brush (or its Hamptons equivalent).  If someone can fuck up that big and not just keep their job but become a National Hero for it with no more than a good PR department, why exactly, go to work at all?    It was time for the elite to spend some quality time with their vacation homes, not least so they could keep track of them all, unlike that foolish grinder coot McCain.  As Ronald Reagan once said, “They say hard work never killed anyone, but why take a chance?”

Of course, bad things did begin happening as the Masters of The Universe hit the links en masse;  wars lost, a city drowned, surpluses turned to staggering deficits, and paper profits in industry after deregulated industry turned to dust, but through it all the neat thing was that none of the major characters ever suffered unduly. Watching television news or reading the newspaper was like watching a familiar sitcom; horrible things might happen to the walk-ons, but the stars remained unharmed and ready for the next episode, to be re-run in any sequence.

Because of the growing and now seemingly unbridgeable chasm between appearance and reality that opened during those post “Mission Accomplished” years, a lot of “important” people got to take a lot of time off with pay, and I’d venture that that’s where some of the money we suddenly noticed missing went.  These people may not be worth their many millions, but they are worth something, and they oughtn’t be at the spa 24/7, you’d think, if they’re pulling a paycheck.  The trouble is, the only place the money didn’t go was to the media companies that breathlessly promoted all the flim-flam that now passed for success, thereby gaining essentially nothing while losing any remaining credibility in the process.  Knight-Ridder labored during the run-up to Iraq to get the story right, while the New York Times just set into type Dick Cheney’s daily missive, and they both ended up in hock.  Credibility doesn’t pay the bills, after all, particularly if your news product shows that you wouldn’t know credibility if it dropped on your head.

All this leaves us at an uncomfortable juncture, one that may make poor Ken Lay think that he died too early.  Unlike Kenny Boy, Goldman Sachs and AIG, among others, are threatening again to go Galt, this time loaded down with billions more in taxpayer funds than Ken would have even tried to secure from his pal W on his most shameless day.  Go Galt from what, exactly?  Is that a threat or a promise?

Oh, that’s right, failure is the new success, at least on TV.  (see Palin, Sarah.)


  1. rmp says:

    Not only are they planning to go galt again they have the gall to threaten to quit when their pay is threatened:
    AIG Executives Threaten To Quit Over Cuts Issued By Pay Czar

    OT, I just linked on my last post to pictures from the Dem event I wrote about since you love pixs.

    • cocktailhag says:

      It was that post about AIG that got me on my latest Hag rant. Let ‘em quit. Do they think they’re going to get Sarah Palin’s old job? I look at the want ads in vain for: Chiselers wanted; must not have ever flown commercial or made real money, outlandish pay for greenroom panache, flexible hours and an expense account bigger than Dennis Kozlowski’s.

    • dirigo says:

      Capitalists on strike.

      I never thought I’d see the day …

  2. Tina says:

    Well – all I have to say is at least the wine prices have gone down and us gals out of work thanks to a-holes can at least get a good drink. It takes the edge off that is for sure.

    • cocktailhag says:

      All spirits have remained cheap, Tina, and considering all the other ways we are manipulated, I like that best. It’s 20 degrees here and windy…. you have no idea how many dead animals it takes to have a cigarette lately.

      • Dead animals and cigarettes. Wasn’t that a Jarmusch film? Anyway, it gave me a larf, that did. It’s a prosaic down jacket for me, a pipe rather than a cigarette, and a back stoop rather than a balcony, but it’s been in the 20s for a week here, culminating in a 50 mph wind last night which blew all my lawn furniture into the weeds. This morning I do have a nice view of the snow on the 7,000 foot mountain to the east of me, though — a fine thing to wake up to after all that howling in the dark. If only Sarah Palin’s lovers could say the same, eh, wot?

        • cocktailhag says:

          It’s below 20 today, but bright and incredibly clear. Mercifully, the winds have died down somewhat, but the “howling in the dark ” woke me up yesterday morning.

  3. Meremark says:

    Ya’ just plain got a grip with your wordwrap, Hag. Caressational.

    - -

    I had a thought of you in recent days … which is maybe the gateway occupation leading to dreams, next.
    The thought that you could be, should ‘read for’ the movie reviewer/critic for MediaMatters .ORG, which needs one, which you could be.

    Their mission statement dedicates Media Matters to publicizing (documented) rightwinger lies and treachery. In ‘the media.’ Which includes the movies. Especially today’s movies with product- or plot-placement designs. Especially when the product or plot being emplaced (in mental machinery) is authoritarian fascist war unending. Such as the TV show ’24′ (hours) which I’ve not seen even 00:00:01 of. Such as the movie ‘Armeggedon’ or whatever the name of it was. In those — which are media matters — a movie reviewer could productively publicize rightwinger lies and treachery, perhaps profitably … under a masthead which pays its writers.

    That was the thought, more or less. Maybe there was a dream part, too, I had briefly forgotten. A dream of reading your review of ‘Collapse’ playing at Cinema 21 thru Thur.12/10.

    It sure is NOT a placement of the rightwing Big Lie product. Quite to the contrary, it is an exposition of rightwing Earth desecration and (all of) our extinction by association, unless we act collectively now to extinguish the rightwingers in their Big Lies. (Lies such as: Your misdeeds do not come back and bite your butt.)

    So maybe as an anti-rightwinger movie its review does not belong as a opposition publicity target of Media Matters, which presents alliance with doing anti-rightwinger things.

    Here’s a trailer and info about ‘Collapse.’

    • retzilian says:

      I read Michael Ruppert’s book “Crossing the Rubicon” back in 2005 and he was once a big player in the first generation of 9/11 Truth movement. His premise was that we had reached “Peak Oil” and that we were going to face the consequences of scarcity in this lifetime. I’m sure that’s a viable theory and I have always felt that even if oil supplies were infinite, we should still have been looking at other technologies to run cars, at the very least.

      Who among us thought, back in 1977 when we were in high school, that we’d still be driving gasoline-powered vehicles in 2010? What other technology in our history has stagnated for 100 years like the auto industry? It’s ridiculous.

      I thought we’d be in flying cars by now; or at least hovercrafts! I imagined a “Jetsons”-like world by now. I can’t believe we’re still dependant on oil or the problems associated with drilling for it (and the countries we have to invade to protect our “interests.”)

      It’s a conspiracy, I tell ya!

      • cocktailhag says:

        Back in the 70′s, marijuana was decriminalized here in Oregon (no more) and the “Vietnam Syndrome” was still in force… everything’s gone to hell since then.

  4. Meremark says:

    (Looks like you’ve still got bar time set to daylight saving time.)

    • cocktailhag says:

      The clock on the blog is set manually according to geography, and I guess it’s my job to go in and change it when the time changes. What a pain in the ass. The Media Matters gig sounds interesting, but I’m not sure I’m qualified; I see so few movies and don’t even have a television.
      Retzizlian might be a better prospect for Brock’s army. Collapse does sound good, and up my alley.

      • retzilian says:

        Thanks for the endorsement! I would enjoy that. I’d have to change my usual movie-watching position (supine on my desk chair with my feet up on the desk and my headphones on) to sitting up straight and taking notes.

        I would certainly notice all the propaganda.

        The one thing I have noticed in watching 200+ movies the past 7 months is the way cops and other authority figures (with guns) are portrayed. It’s rather frightening how they are trying to indoctrinate people into accepting this brute force, unconstitutional violations of privacy, and other extra-legal practices that take place when the so-called “good guys” are looking for a way to catch the so-called “bad guys.”

        This is not your parents’ “Dragnet!”

        So, where do I apply? heh!

        • cocktailhag says:

          I imagine there’s a notation at Media Matters. You’d be perfect, Dear. I think that a key to being a critic is knowing something about the subject one is criticizing (or not), and I’m kind of dumb about movies. I defer to your expertise.

        • Meremark says:

          retzilian, here some so-called ‘competition’:

          Review: Collapse — BY ROGER EBERT / December 9, 2009

          If this man is correct, then you may be reading the most important story in today’s paper.

          I have no way of assuring you that the bleak version of the future outlined by Michael Ruppert in Chris Smith’s “Collapse” is accurate. I can only tell you I have a pretty good built-in B.S. detector, and its needle never bounced off zero while I watched this film. There is controversy over Ruppert, and he has many critics. But one simple fact at the center of his argument is obviously true, and it terrifies me.

          That fact: We have passed the peak of global oil resources. There are only so many known oil reserves. We have used up more than half of them. Remaining reserves are growing smaller, and the demand is growing larger. It took about a century to use up the first half. That usage was much accelerated …

          He recites facts I knew, vaguely. Many things are made from oil. Everything plastic. Paint. There are eight gallons of oil in every auto tire. Oil supplies the energy to convert itself into those byproducts. No oil, no plastic, no tires, no gas to run cars, no machines to build them. No coal mines, except those operated by men and horses.

          Alternative energies and conservation? The problem is the cost of obtaining and using it. Ethanol requires more energy than it produces. Hybrid and battery cars need engines, tires and batteries. Nuclear power plants need to be built with oil. Electricity from wind power is most useful near its source. It is transmitted by grids built and maintained by oil. Wave power is expensive to collect. Solar power is cheap and limitless, but we need a whole hell of a lot more solar panels and other collecting devices.

          Like I say, you do the math. Ruppert has done his math, and he concludes that our goose is cooked. He doesn’t have any answers. We’re passing the point of diminishing returns on the way to our rendezvous with the point of no return. It was nice while it lasted. People lived happily enough in the centuries before oil, electricity and steam, I guess. Of course, there were fewer than 6 billion of us. In this century, Ruppert says, there will be a lot fewer than 6 billion again. It won’t be a pretty sight. …

          I don’t know when I’ve seen a thriller more frightening. I couldn’t tear my eyes from the screen. “Collapse” is even entertaining, in a macabre sense. I think you owe it to yourself to see it.

          Note: Through local cable providers, “Collapse” is available now via on demand. Check local listings and movies on demand channels.

          - – -

          In a couple of situations I have closely and personally associated with Ruppert … whatever ‘associated’ may mean. He focused my eyes to see Peak Oil.

          Accordingly, now I hardly participate in the Global Climate Crisis information tug-of-war — since it doesn’t primarily matter if there’s carbon footprint restrictions, or cap-and-trade scamming, or Copenhagen teaches the masses anything, when No Oil means not so much carbon emissions (dioxided or otherwise), nevermind how much is ‘permitted.’ No Oil means none happens.

          And anymore, I hardly participate in the Stop War Be At Peace crusades — since it is increasingly clear and apparent that when USMilitaryIndustry does occupy the entire Middle East and embeds siphon pipelines to raid the oil supply, there is No Oil left to raid. Whatcha call yer ‘pyrrhic victory.’

          I foresee North America 2100 sprinkled with subsistence enclaves of hardy souls, (kinda reverting to the way the Indian tribes were before 1800 when Lewis & Clark ran the river thru it), and everyone all-the-Indians having ’2-way wrist TV’ (like video cell phones connecting point-to-point any two persons planetwide). High touch/ High tech — one of Naismith’s 10 ‘MegaTrends.’

          If our (and our posterity’s) abysmal future prospects seen vividly stark is not enough to persuade everyone to quit the rat race, copulate, contemplate, and enjoy the rest of our lives and share others’, then I don’t know what is.

  5. avelna says:

    Heh, Sarah still believes she’s governer of Alaska apparently, she’s that successful!

  6. CH,

    You’re right. It seems the Randians have decided to “destroy The Village in order to save it.” One has to wonder, though, will there be anything left to save?

  7. sysprog says:

    CH, have you seen the Gnome Chomsky web site?
    They’re your neighbors, right there in Portland.
    Don’t be the last one on your block to get one.