Blustery is the key word for today, with brisk trades gusting up the valley, roaring through the camphor trees and shepherding large cloud banks that totally obliterated the interior mountains and did a very good job of muffling the rising sun.
Last night, the wind pushed dark clouds quickly across the round, white face of Mahina in her fullness, and I almost expected to see witches on broomsticks flying, too, it was such an unsettled evening. But then, that’s what wind does: it shakes everything up.
Speaking of shake-ups, while listening to Democracy Now! yesterday about the nation’s enlarging economic woes, I heard news of yet another unexpected consequence of the mortgage foreclosure crisis: West Nile virus.
That’s right. In an apocalyptic scenario that even Hollywood missed, perhaps because it hits too close to home, California officials are worried that water left standing in the swimming pools of abandoned, foreclosed properties is creating a prime breeding ground for mosquitoes, thus increasing the risk of West Nile infection.
Democracy Now! guest Danny Schechter, author of “In Debt We Trust” and the forthcoming book “Plunder: Investigating Our Economic Calamity and the Sub Crime Scandal,” is quoted in the program transcripts as saying:
And this has already caused cases of West Nile fever in California and in Florida. There’s fear even of malaria. So, the consequences of this crisis are just being felt by many, many people, and it’s not pretty.
Fascinating how these things play out in ways we never even could have imagined.
Meanwhile, Max Fraad Wolff, economist, writer and instructor at New School University, pointed out that the Bank of Scotland “is estimating 150 to 300 small to midsize [bank] failures in the next eighteen months.” He also expressed his concerns about the situation at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, where the government is planning a major bailout:
And the reason this matters, writ large, is because our housing markets are already sliding, and if anything happens to make them less robust, less able to buy and back mortgages, you can go ahead and expect maybe another five to 15 percent decline in the average house price. And there again, it’s the death of the middle class and the death of the American dream, because if your house is your major asset, it’s already slid 15, 20 percent, and the structures that help support it, particularly low- and moderate-income homes, are weakened, you can expect further pain, further damage and further trouble.
Yet our President continues to act like everything is A-OK, prompting the question, is he stupid, clueless or just an accomplished liar? Here’s his take on things:
I think the system basically is sound. I truly do. And I understand there’s a lot of nervousness, and—but the economy is growing. Productivity is high. Trade’s up. People are working. It’s not as good as we’d like, but—and to the extent that we find weakness, we’ll move. It’s one thing about this administration: we’re not afraid of making tough decisions.
Of course, it’s not surprising that the man who morally bankrupted our nation with Guantanamo, torture and a war waged on false pretenses has also bankrupted us economically, too — and much of the fallout is due to the kind of greed and disregard for the law that has characterized the Bush Administration.
As Danny Schechter observed, when he came on Democracy Now! back in August 2007:
I said that this is not just a market correction, but a criminal matter, and I called subprime “subcrime.” The FBI seems to agree with me now, and they have 1,200 investigations underway, including an investigation into Bear Stearns and to what happened there, IndyMac, and other banks. So, I think when the dust shifts, you know, finally, we’re going to find out that this is a criminal action—cabal, really—by people in the market who were out, driven by greed, to make as much money as they can. The victims of all this can be seen in the mounting foreclosures that are sweeping the nation.
Yet in the midst of all this evidence of the utter failure of Republican principles and policies, a Bush clone (you know how the clones age faster than the originals) is just 8 percentage points behind Barack Obama in the presidential race.
It seems that many voters, like rats, cling stubbornly to a sinking ship.
Finally, on a local note, I was surprised to read in today's Garden Island that Kaipo Asing, who was sworn in as interim mayor yesterday, is planning to deal with the tour boats in Hanalei, where Mike Sheehan is again promoting the fiction that tour boats can legally launch from his facility on the river. The paper quotes Asing as saying: "“The Hanalei boating situation will receive my immediate attention.”
Now this ought to be interesting.