Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Long, Nasty Year

This year started out badly and didn't get a fuck of a lot better. I started with a compressed nerve in my neck, swiftly followed by my mother's death and went on to weeks of persistent illness. I feel like I've been sick the entire year. Now, at the end of December, the compressed nerve is making a comeback. Oh frabjous day...

The company I work for is being dissolved by greedy ideologues who declare - without a scrap of evidence - that outsourcing of course is more economical than having people directly on staff.  The multi-million dollar contracts will be signed sometime in April and then all staff are simply waiting to be absorbed by the IT Borg Services company slurping up their section of the operations or else get laid off. I'm going to take advantage of some job placement training that's due in January/February, then I'm going to start looking. I don't fancy waiting around to be fired. My manager, whose pretty cool, knows what I'm doing and said she'll help with my resume, send me job leads and even do practice interviews if I'd like.

I keep up with the news but have resisted the urge to comment. Pretty much everything I said back in 2008 about the wrong track the respectable people on the Left were determined to take has come true, not that they appear to notice. The Boyz of the Blogz continue to be as shallow, narcissistic, clueless, and self-congratulatory as ever, no matter how many times the Incomparable One and the Shrill One smack them upside the head.

My political perspective doesn't align with most other blogospheric positions, left or right. I am unimpressed by the street rebellions (though I agree with Eric Hobsbawm that it is like 1848 all over again), rolling my eyes at the wasted opportunities of the Occupy movement, and deeply cynical about the antics of hacktivists, from Julian Assange to Lulzsec to Anonymous. A customer of the company the Spousal Unit works for got attacked by Anonymous a while back and it was days of effort to keep the little fuckers from bringing down the site. No, not amused by these hooligans whatsoever.

I watch an allegedly liberal intelligentsia unable to escape its collective fantasy that anyone who rejects Obama can only be doing so because they are racist, not because the guy is to the right of Richard Nixon. No, I won't be placated by the knowledge that the Right is worse - shitty governance is shitty governance even if the choice is that or obscenely shitty governance. It's bad and sad when you realize Nixon would be an improvement.

In the absence of material improvements to living conditions brought about by the Long Recession (which, truth be told, really started when Reagan took office), increasing numbers of people will vote their resentments. If it won't get better, you might as well make other people hurt. The high-minded left doesn't want to consider that the dumb-shit cop who pepper sprayed the protesters at UC Davis is a perfect representative of the portion of the 99% who must be wooed away from the reactionary right if any high-mindedness is to have an actual effect in the world. That's the deep failure of the left in this country since LBJ.

So, that's been this year for me - pain physical and emotional, job stress, and political estrangement.  Instead of blogging, I've been watching old TV shows on Netflix, reading books, cooking lots of amazing things, tracking local food prices, trying to exercise, visiting with my dad, seeing my friends and generally have this thing called a life.

It's kind of nice.



Bob Harrison said...

Glad to see you back. I'll be back later.

CMike said...

I'm so buried by my book pile I don't know when I'll ever get around to buying and reading The Dictator's Handbook but I'm going to. (They wrote a sophisticated version of the same book for you Anglachel level readers.)

Don't let the title fool you, the authors extend their theory to explain the methodology for ruling democracies and corporations successfully. Anyway, I saw the co-authors on an After Words edition of BookTV. These insights ring true to me:

[17:08] Ann Gearan: ...[Y]ou mentioned the Arab Spring. What did Hosni Mubarak do wrong?

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita: Aah.

AG: He was a dictator for three decades. He ran one of the most successful countries in the Middle East, a bulwark of American policy in the Mid-East which did some good things like signing a peace deal with Israel. What did he do wrong?

[17:28] BBdM: OK, an excellent question. Let me preface this by saying, using the theory in The Dictator's Handbook on May the fifth, 2010, we predicted in a public lecture that Hosni Mubarak was probably going to be gone in a year. OK.

AG: OK, excellent.

BBdM: First thing he did wrong he had no control over: he got old. Dictatorial leaders are in trouble under three conditions to start with; 1) They've just come to power, they don't know, quite yet, just where the money is so nobody quite trusts they're going to be paid off properly so they shop around. You survive the first couple of years you're golden for a long time until either 2) the Ben Ali problem, you are believed to have a terminal illness. This is what did in Mubuto, this is what did in Marcos, this is what did in the Shah, this is what did in Ben Ali. Or, 3) your cronies know you are no longer a reliable source of payment in the future - or you are very old, very old is a terminal illness so they again know you're not very reliable.

So first problem, he grew old. He is eighty-two. Second problem, his economy didn't have a vast amount of natural resource wealth. He depended on two sources -- broadly speaking -- two sources of wealth.

One was, for example, tourism. Tourism requires a relatively well educated population. You have to have a lot of English speakers, a lot of French speakers. These are people who have enough education that they can think independently and might, because they come together in business organizations, begin to organize. Free assembly -- very, very bad for a dictator. So he had the under girding of that.


CMike said...


[19:32] And foreign aid. Foreign aid is a great way to pay off your cronies if you're not generating an effective economy. President Obama announced, when he promulgated his Afghan policy, shortly after that he announced he was cutting foreign aid in Egypt in half.

Indeed, within a few days, maybe it was in two weeks of his announcement he was cutting foreign aid to Egypt in half the Egyptian Foreign Minister, for the first time since 1979, referred to Israel as Egypt's enemy.

And, if you were a military leader, you'd be sitting there and thinking, "well, the guy is getting old and decrepit and he's not able to manage his relationship with the United States well enough to keep the money really flowing. Most of that money is coming to we, the military leaders. Now it's getting cut off. Maybe we better look around for somebody else. Maybe we should hedge our bets."

So now you're sitting around on the sidelines, one of these relatively well-educated people, unemployed, paying double the price for food and you're thinking, "ya know, the military is probably going to sit on its hands, they're going to hedge their bets..."

There's more on this in the interview at the After Words link.

Sharon said...

I'm so glad you're back.

Joyce L. Arnold said...

Very glad to see this post, though sorry to hear about an obviously difficult year.

"The high-minded left doesn't want to consider ...," from my perspective, anything that might challenge their high-minded opinions of themselves, and their vip positions.

Falstaff said...

I think of you often. Hope 2012 is better for you, and for all of us. Roads go ever, ever on...

LinGin said...

Welcome back. Really missed your posts and your ability to zero in on what's wrong with those supposedly on our side.

I lost my mom in the latter part of the year (she died on my birthday which made it even worse if possible) so I empathize with your pain. Any year in which you lose a loved parent makes it a bad year no matter what else happens.

Here's to a better 2012 for all of us.

R. S. Martin said...

It's good to see a new post from you, although I'm sorry to hear about the troubles from the past year. Let's hope the new year treats you better.

The Other Elizabeff said...

I'm glad to hear from you and may 2012 go better. I think your plan of having a life is an excellent one. As an American resident of France, this year I get to be subjected to not one, but two, inane political spectacles (or as the late French comedian Coluche called them, érections pestilentielles). It's a good moment to turn off the TV, read fantasy books and cook meals at home.

Suzie said...

It's great to have you back.

Suzie from Echidne of the Snakes.

Anonymous said...

Condolences on your mother's passing. :(

That is so much to come at you all at the same time and I admire your positive attitude. Good luck on the job search.

Anne said...

Glad to read your comments again , hope 2012 is better for you ! Sorry about Mom

What I find amazing is the Left's endless and truly bottomless love for itself and how that's all it really cares about.

Who ever is pulling the strings plays them like a fiddle. The ease of it is depressing. They make Pavlov dogs look down right unwilling in comparison.

Send in some worn out bat shit crazy GOP and presto! Obama (and the Left's support for him back in the day ) is fine in fact we MUST vote for Obama ( just like the old days! )

The Occupy/ Renaissance Faire event was a perfect means to entertain them and help them forget Obama takes more moola from Wall St than anyone else.

And they pride themselves on being the smart