Thursday, November 29, 2012

Raised bed remodel

I’ve known that the day would come when the landscape timbers that make the raised beds would need some attention.  The first two beds were created in 2008.  I built three more beds in 2009, then two more in 2010.  All of them were built by stacking three rows of landscape timbers and nailing them together with pole barn nails.  Early in the week I decided to have a look at the two oldest beds. 
I knew that the bottom row of timbers would have some rot.  My hope was that I could just lift the beds straight out of the soil and flip them over for a few more years of service.  They were in worse shape than I expected.  I ended up removing all the timbers.  I hope that some of the garlic that I planted in the front bed survives this.  Most of the foliage in the picture is green manure mix that I tried this year. 

The problem with these landscape timbers is they are AC2 treated, so I can’t let them just rot in the ground, they have to come out.  When I built the beds I looked for untreated landscape timbers and could not find any.  If the landscape timbers had no treatment I would just leave them rot into the ground and add another row on top when the bed sunk in enough.  At the time I was working and I wanted a quick and fast way to build raised beds.  Landscape timbers fit the bill. 

What is AC2?  The treatment has two components: copper oxide and quaternary ammonium chlorides, or quats, in about a 2:1 ratio.  The copper is ground into very fine particles so it can penetrate the wood fibers, and it acts as a fungicide.  The quats have antimicrobial properties, often used in restaurants as disinfectants.  Quats are similar to detergents in that they have a “greasy” ion, the quaternary ammonium piece, but with a positive charge (there’s more info on wikipedia if you are inclined).   Neither copper or quats are particularly toxic to people in low doses.  And AC2 is absolutely better than the old treatment of chromated copper arsenic.   

Before I built the beds I did some research on AC2.  There were some leaching studies that found that some copper leached from the surface of the wood after it first made contact with the ground.  After a few days the leaching stopped and treatment below the surface of the wood did not migrate out.  I found another study of plant uptake of copper.  Bottom line, there has to be a LOT of copper in the soil for the plant to accumulate enough copper to cause a concern.  The worst vegetable was bok choi, which can accumulate metals in the stem.  Fruiting vegetables did not accumulate nearly as much copper.  I can’t find that study but emphasize again that the amount of copper in the soil has to be exceedingly high to present a problem.  The quats are not taken up by the plant and will eventually decompose in soil.
Addendum:  I took a soil sample from the beds in 2009 and had it tested.  Copper tested at 1.4 ppm, well within normal limits.  The samples were taken from the edge and center of the beds and mixed into one sample.  I have to conclude that almost no leaching took place.

So how much copper can leach into the soil?  That depends on how much copper is in the wood.  Pressure treated wood rated for ground contact must have a retention of 0.4 pounds of treatment per cubic foot of wood.  But the landscape timbers are not pressure treated, they are deemed “treated to refusal.”   Pressure treated wood is kiln dried then put into a vacuum chamber where the treatment solution is introduced.  This forces the treatment solution into the fibers of the wood. 

There’s not much info on wood “treated to refusal” but here’s my understanding.  The wood is air-dried then soaked in a treatment solution until no further treatment is taken up.  My guess is the companies soak the landscape timbers for a time period, say a day, then remove them (time is money after all).  Most likely the amount of treatment in the landscape timber is a small fraction of the amount in pressure treated timbers.

That brings up the inevitable question “Why bother?”  If there’s not enough treatment in the wood to keep it from rotting in the ground, but the wood still has to be removed from the ground before it rots to avoid a buildup of copper in the soil, what’s the point?  Sure the treatment may keep the timber from rotting the first year, but it will still decompose.  The fact that I can’t even find untreated landscape timbers and will now have to landfill the timbers that I removed is certainly cause for griping.

So the landscape timbers came out.  This weekend is going to be nice and I’m going to make a new bed edge with yellow pine 2x8’s, untreated of course.  I won’t bury them, I’m going to drive 2x4 stakes (these will be pressure treated) into each corner and screw the 2x8’s to the stakes so the bottom of the board is just above the outside ground.  When the boards are rotted beyond usefulness I can unscrew them from the stakes and toss what's left into the woods where they will rot away harmlessly.  

Next fall I’ll have to replace the timbers in the next set of beds.  Maybe I can find some osage orange or black locust wood for those beds.  These trees grow around here and have very good resistance to rot.   Right now I'm researching ways to expand the garden with containers into the area north of the beds.  I can't add any more beds near the tree because it's roots will find the bed and compete.  Removing the tree is not an option.  It's a hop hornbeam and a very fine little tree.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Put on your tinfoil hats

It’s time for me to put on the tinfoil hat and try to make sense of one of the craziest conspiracy theories out there.  There’s a new novel called Agenda 21, a dystopian fantasy of a world taken over by the UN under the aegis of agenda 21, a set of guidelines compiled by the UN.  The video trailer is set in a hellish post-apocalyptic urban landscape, or maybe just a bad neighborhood in New York on a gray day, with hungry people in lines waiting for some food from the authorities, numbers tattoed on their foreheads.  In case that is too subtle an emaciated old person is strapped to a conveyor belt heading toward an oven. 

In the novel people live in communal societies, use treadmills to generate electricity, and swear allegiance to some green socialist government.  It should be no surprise that the name on the book’s cover is America’s foremost purveyor of fear and bonker conspiracy theories, Glen Beck.  Except that Beck did not write the book, he bought the rights from one Harriet Parke who actually wrote the book, and put his brand on it.  I’m sure it will make him lots of money.

One of the favorite fears of right wing conspiracy theorists, agenda 21 is seen as part of a grand scheme by the United Nations, covertly aided by the present government, to usurp the country’s sovereignty, take control of the government and implement a green socialist agenda.  I think agenda 21’s biggest competitor in the wingnut hysteria department is the fear of Sharia Law.  Those readers less inclined to wackaloony conspiracy theories and more given to thoughtful analysis may ask how urban and rural planning, zoning ordinances, and land use measures which have been practiced in this country for about a century are now part of a greater plot by the UN to enslave citizens. 

Agenda 21 was put together by the United Nations in 1993.  It is a non-binding set of guidelines for sustainable economic development that can be used by any country for guidance.  It addresses sustainable development – waste management, conservation, farming, transportation – in both developing and industrialized countries.  It shows industrialized countries how they can use fewer resources by managing resource use in sensible ways.  Some people, myself included, believe that such concern might be useful on a planet with over 6 billion people and declining fuel and water resources.

I hate to deflate anyone’s pet conspiracy theory if that’s what keeps them going in life, but I feel compelled to note a few things about the possibilities that such a theory has even a remote connection to the real world.  This country has the most powerful military in the world, spending more than the next nine countries combined.  It has hundreds of bases all over the world and many more small forward operating bases, more military bases than all other countries combined.  In the past few years the US has often operated unilaterally in foreign affairs (see Iraq).  At best the US consults with other countries before doing what it wants, in effect saying this is what we are going to do, just letting you know.  We are the meanest baddest mother on the block and act accordingly.  That has not changed with the current president, whose foreign policy is as aggresive but more subtle than his predecessor. 

The UN police force, the guys in blue uniforms, is essentially a toothless military unit that has stood by and watched while dictators murder their own people.  It gets much of its funding from the US.  I know this is hard to grasp for many conspiracy theorists, but how likely is it that the UN is going to start telling the US what to do, or threaten it militarily?  What chance is their that I will become a professional athlete next year with 7 figure endorsements?

Suggesting that we Americans can use less resources in a crowded world is heresy in Wingnuttia.  They say not only are we exceptional but we can do whatever we want.  And actually planning our infrastructure to use resources more efficiently?  Well dontcha know that we are all splendid individuals who can act without concern about how our actions fit into a larger society, islands in the big sea and free as birds.  Going with this thinking, the suburban retail megalopolis with strip malls and the full gamut of big box stores from A to Z, parking lots and 8 lanes of automobile gridlock that trapped many of us (not me) this weekend expresses the highest attainment of the American dream does it not?  Now that’s an environment that let’s you be yourself if you believe the commercials.       

I guess it’s not too far a stretch from thinking that endless Walmarts and Toys ‘r Us on the boulevard of sprawling shiny dreams is the best you can do, to believing that an effort to find a human scaled alternative to what some of us consider a chaotic materialistic suburban hell is really an evil plot by the United Nations trying to ensare us into a one-world green-socialist police state. 

Well I just had to put on my tinfoil hat and look around and see if there’s any evidence of agenda 21 here in southwestern rural Indiana.  There’s my septic tank.  Do you know that the county has strict requirements on the size and planning of the septic field, and when my house was built 5 years ago the septic system had to be approved?  There’s that darn government meddling in my affairs.  So what if the house has a septic system that is inadequate and pollutes the stream.  That’s someone elses problem, right?  After all, I’m an American, I can do whatever I want. 

And Morgan County like most counties around here has a Soil and Water Conservation District.  Horrors!  Sounds like a socialist plot to make landowners use sustainable land use practices.  Sustainability is dirty word after all, it sounds like some totalitarian idea imposed from above.  Of course, a process that is not sustainable ultimately fails, but never mind.  People should be free to do whatever they want, meaning they should not engage in this un-American thinking about agreeing to work within guidelines to conserve topsoil (oxymoron alert).   Maybe these SWCD’s were part of Agenda 21 before Agenda 21 existed – those people are indeed diabolical, they can time travel and enslave us from the past!   I think I’m getting a headache under this tinfoil hat.

Now I’m very worried.  Well not worried like those landowners that live in the path of the Interstate 69 extension not far from here whose properties are being taken by eminent domain for the NAFTA highway.  I’m worried that any day those blue uniformed UN troops will show up at my door and tell me I’m not living green enough and I’ll have to leave for the city. 

Well I shouldn’t worry, because at the Georgia state capitol a guy named Field Searcy recently briefed Republican state senators for 4 hours (another oxymoron) and explained how Obama is using a mind-control method called the “Delphi technique” to condition Americans into accepting control by Agenda 21.  A plan so insidiously clever that you can’t even provide evidence it is happening!  Once reprogrammed into compliance me and my neighbors will be marched into the cities.  Then the vacant countryside will fall under the control of a one world government.  I assume my neighbors hound dogs will be shot on sight since these UN people are utterly evil.   Anyway by the time they come for me I’ll be completely submissive after being softened up by that Delphi technique.  I won’t even need any meds.  I’d better watch more TV so I’ll be sufficiently brainwashed.     

Now some of you may point out that the US already submits some of its sovereignty to an international entity.  It’s called a free trade agreement, such as NAFTA.  So if a local ordinance runs afoul of NAFTA guess who wins?  Or if we decide that goods imported from other countries should be manufactured according to the same environmental and worker protection standards that we have in this country or they should pay a penalty becaues that’s not a level playing field, guess who wins?  (Hint:  NAFTA).  But hey, CEO’s of multinational corporations wanted those agreements, and whatever is good for them is good for us, right?  Oh darn, it’s that doggone reality intruding again.  Time to put my tinfoil hat back on.

Seriously this is the kind of stuff that has me worried.  There’s always been a wingnut fringe, but now it’s taken hold in the mainstream with more than a little help from the fearmongering industry of which Beck is one of the top worker bees.  I think that people sense that things are about to change really fast but they can’t put their finger on it, and many people react by insisting against all reason that the past will suffice in the future, and one way to avoid dealing with reality is to escape into your pet conspiracy theory. 

Our inefficient use of resources is about to collide head on with resource depletion.  We have a totally unsustainable economic system.  Transportation and agriculture are completely dependent on declining fossil fuels.  And letting big agriculture and big oil decide the country’s future while government has been turned into their little butler is going to be a disaster.   Then again, it will be a disaster for the generations to come, so why worry, right? 

Now this is the really crazy part.  In the not too distant past we had a sustainable economy in this country.  Towns were walkable, cities had mass transit.  Railroads ran on time.  Farmers knew how to recycle nutrients through different farm processes because they had to if they wanted to continue farming.  They did not have the luxury of huge inputs of fossil fuel to grow things (today it takes 10 Btu’s of fossil fuel to produce 1 Btu of food).  We walked away from that because we thought we had a better way – an economy totally dependent on a finite energy resource.   And in the future we will have to walk it back, and it’s going to be very painful. 

The fear-mongers and conspiracy theorists are taking concepts like sustainability and sensible land use and trying to turn them into dirty words.  It’s no accident, it’s a marketing technique.  When other countries do it we call it propaganda.  If the fear-mongers succeed it will no longer be possible to have a serious conversation about the future without having it hijacked by someone throwing a loaded label at someone else.

What we badly need right now is people having serious conversations, not replays of the flame-throwing on the so-called news channels.  I think, I hope that regular people are figuring out that letting big business make all the decisions about their future is a very very bad idea.  I think people are starting to push back.              

Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday November 19

I haven’t posted on the bean patch in awhile.  There hasn’t been much to post about.  I did harvest 3 butternut squash a few weeks ago, the total winter squash harvest for the year.  The plant was seeded the first week of August, so it’s pretty amazing that I got those squash.  I was worried that they had not ripened enough since an early October frost killed the foliage and there was a bit of green in them, but the one I tried was just fine. 
This weekend I pulled up the rest of the carrots, almost 4 lbs of Danvers, Cosmic Purple, and Nantes.  I took some pictures of them after they were hosed off in the yard, but I managed to delete the photos in the camera before downloading them.  The rabbits found them last week and had chewed off most of the foliage, so it was time for them to come out.  Strangely the bunnies ignored the young spinach plants next to the carrots.

I also picked a rosette of tatsoi.  That pic was deleted too but I pulled the plant out of the refrigerator and took another pic.  It has been cut in half to fit in the bin.  This is a plant that I grew for the first time this year and plan to grow next year.  The stems taste like bok choi, just a little smaller.  The leaves are edible and delicious when stir fried quickly.  Next year I'm going to omit planting bok choi and go with this. 

Some more brussels sprouts were picked and there's plenty more on the plants. 

This is the bed with the remaining brassicas.  There’s kohlrabi, Starbor kale and chinese cabbage.  The chinese cabbage is heading up and can be picked at anytime, but the heads aren’t firm yet.  The kohlrabi and kale are growing very slow.  They only get about two hours of direct sun now, the rest of the day the sun is filtered through the woods to the south.

The spinach is also going very slow.  This patch was seeded in mid-September.  A few weeks later I seeded spinach in another bed for overwintering, and later seeded some Tatsoi in the same bed, so I know I'll get spinach early next spring.  Yields for the week:  carrots 3 lb 15 oz, tatsoi 1 lb 6 oz, brussels sprouts 12 oz

These are the totals for the year (click on the spreadsheet for a readable version).  All in all, an awful year for growing.  Record heat, epic draught and then an early frost.  Tomatoes took the biggest hit - only 15 pounds from two plants when I expected 50 pounds (I got 40 pounds last year from two heirlooms).  The parsnips haven't been pulled yet but even with those it's a long shot to reach 200 lbs.  Time to plan for next year.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Relief at Last

Thank God it’s over.  No more idiotic political TV ads that pitch politicians like they are breath mints or foot gel inserts.  After spending record billions of dollars, much of it dark money courtesy of a supreme court decision that says corporations and unions are persons and money is their speech, we end up with the same president and the same control of the house and senate as before.  It looks like nothing has changed.  Or has it?

A Republican party that chose four years ago that it’s overarching policy was to make Obama a one term president failed in its quest.  After losing in 2008, they did not ask how they lost their way in the Bush years, what they could do better, what policies they might put forward that maintain the social compact in place but are consistent with their principles, and what candidate they could advance that had a real shot of winning the election.  Instead they chose the negative - the goal they chose was to make Barack Obama lose the election, not to put forward a candidate and policies that could win.  And in the end their candidate lost. 

In my own state, Indiana, the Republican senate candidate, Richard Mourdock, lost to a Democrat.  Mourdock defeated Richard Lugar in the Republican primaries, a highly respected and long-serving senator with a distinguished record in foreign affairs.  Lugar was an old school senator willing to work across the aisle, a cardinal sin in today’s Republican party, and he would have easily won in the general election.  In a purging exercise his party threw it’s resources behind the more extreme Mourdock and he lost the general election in a very conservative state.  Have they learned anything from this?        

In following their strategy the Republican party has played to the worst instincts of some of it’s members.  It doubled down on fear, resentment, and downright craziness.  The right wing pundits stirred the pot and cultivated the hate.  The opposition became not just an adversary, but the enemy, an evil other that in their minds was bent on destroying America.  No compromise could be considered. 

To those Republicans who are shocked that they lost the presidency, I’ll say this.  It’s time to get out of the bubble and take residence in reality.  This was no surprise.  The news media may have played this election up to the end as a close race because that tactic holds viewers, but any sober reading of the polls over the last several months would tell you that the major swing states, especially Ohio, were not likely to go for Romney. 

The world is changing and we change with it, like it or not.  Accusing people who don’t share your belief system of trying to destroy the American way of life is petty and destructive.  I’m not even sure what that way of life actually is, because this is a diverse country.  I know that the way we live today is very different from what it was 50 or even 20 years ago, and it will be very different in the future.  We will have to come to grips with energy resource depletion and global warming damage whether we like it or not, and the processes of the past and present will often fail us badly in the future.  I don’t know of any institution other than government that has the resources to deal with these monumental problems that many of us are willing to leave for the next generation. 

To those who like me are old farts I’ll say this:  It’s not all about you.  Taking a circle-the-wagons mentality and asserting that everybody who is not like you or doesn’t think like you is an enemy out to destroy the country will only drag everyone down.  Many of you have done very well in America and achieved great success.  What worked for you in the past will not work for the next generation without some changes, and obstructing the change that is needed is punishing those who inherit the future.  You won’t have to deal with the consequences of climate change, fossil fuel depletion or a parasitic financial system, they will.   You won’t have to remake our cities and farms, they will.  Stop dumping your mythological past on their future.

Monday, November 5, 2012

What's at stake

The election is only a day away.  There’s been a lot of rhetoric from both sides and we all know that the TV ads not only distort and misinform, they have virtually no relationship to reality. 

To put things in some kind of perspective a whirlwind tour of the first years of the new millenium is helpful.  Americans don’t much like history, and that’s a shame because that’s the only way you can understand the present – in the context of the past.  It’s actually painful to look back at those years, but it’s necessary to understand our present plight.   What follows is a very brief recap.

In 2001 a terrorist attack using hijacked airplanes destroyed the World Trade Center buildings in New York and damaged the pentagon, killing several thousand people.  The chief counter terrorism advisor on the National Security Council, Richard Clarke, who served under four presidents repeatedly petitioned the Bush administration to hold principal’s meetings on the threat of Al Queda and was turned down.  The presidential daily briefs warned the administration 40 times about the threat.  The warnings were ignored.

Not long after the 9-11 attacks this country invaded Iraq.  The administration falsely claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction to justify the invasion.  None were found.  The Bush war cabinet engaged in fraud and deceit to justify a war that killed thousands of Americans, wounded many thousands more, killed over a hundred thousand Iraqis, and cost us untold losses of money and respect. 

War profiteering was epidemic.  Before he became vice president, Dick Cheney was CEO of Halliburton, the main contractor for logistical support in the war.  This was a blatant conflict of interest.  The war was funded with borrowed money and the cost put in a special budget to hide it from the general budget.  Cheney worked behind the scenes to produce rulings that gave the executive almost unlimited powers, essentially declaring themselves above the law.  Torture was justified throught the same legal contortions.  People who protested the war were herded into fenced enclaves called free speech zones where they could exercise their so-called first amendment rights. 

The war in Afghanistan, initially successful in routing the Taliban, was deresourced to fund the Iraq war.  The situation there deteriorated during Bush’s presidency with the Taliban resurgent by the end of his second term.

A category 5 hurricane in the Gulf  headed straight for landfall in New Orleans.  The day after it made landfall while the levees were failing president Bush was in California learning guitar chords from a country singer.     

The housing bubble was allowed to fester until it popped at the end of Bush’s second term, crashing the economy into the worst recession since the great depression.  The explosion of speculation in complex financial instruments that were nothing more than gimmicks that only their creators could understand lay at the heart of the collapse.  Short term, the people who could do something about it knew the housing boom was a bubble and chose to do nothing, hoping that it would not burst on their watch. 

If you seriously want to answer the question “Are we better off today than four years ago?” just remember this:  At the start of 2009 we were losing 800,000 jobs per month, the stock market was in free fall,  people’s life savings had been devastated, foreclosures were rampant, and total wealth loss was in the trillions.  We were as close as you can get to a total economic collapse.

The presidency of George Bush was a complete disaster that did irreparable harm to this country, set some very dangerous precedents in regard to our civil liberties and permanently damaged our standing in the world.

While Fox News did not have many criticisms of George Bush, since Obama took the oath it has engaged in a nonstop creation of a second Obama, a man who is an evil monster, the spawn of Satan, and out to destroy our way of life.  It has been a sustained campaign of character assasination supported by lies, misinformation, deception, whatever it takes, all from a news organization that claims it is unbiased.  Now I get that there are always attacks on a president, and there were certainly a lot of criticisms of Bush from all corners.  But never have I seen such a sustained effort with  such a single-minded pursuit of the destruction of a presidency as there is from Fox News and the Republican party. 

That alternate universe is the foundation for the talking points you hear from Mitt Romney in his campaign.  Governor Romney and his brethren count on amnesia, that people will have forgotten that we even had a crash in 2008, or have any idea of how bad this was, and still is.

Here’s some guidelines for Republicans who want to recycle the talking points:

1) Repeatedly say “failed stimulus”  because things are not hunky dory now.  It’s hard to argue the negative, that without the stimulus and the auto bailout that we would be in a second Great Depression, but most economists will contend just that, including John McCain’s campaign financial advisor, who published a paper on the stimulus that said we would have millions more unemployed without it.

2)  Wring hands and clutch pearls about the national debt, even though few of you objected when the debt began exploding late in Bush’s term, or showed any concern over the reckless fiscal policy that led up to that explosion.  Attribute the debt to “out of control spending” by Obama even though government spending since the stimulus is less than it was under Bush.  Ignore the real reasons why the debt has gone up:  the worst economic crash since the Great Depression, a reduction in government revenues and the payments on the Iraq debacle. 

3)  After maintaining that the debt is apocalyptic, refuse to make any concessions to do something about the debt other than eviscerating government.  Republican leaders in congress insisted that any increases in revenue resulting from closing tax loopholes should be treated as a tax increase which must then be offset by a tax reduction, ensuring no additional revenue to reduce the deficit.  In fact when Obama proposed 10 dollars in spending cuts to 1 dollar in tax revenue increases, they rejected the proposal because they don’t compromise,  and after all they swore that oath to Grover Norquist.   

4)  Moan about how bad the economy is, even though you really don’t care because you’re a millionaire and for you the economy isn’t really that bad.  The stock market has recovered, gross domestic product has fully recovered and is higher than ever, corporate profits have reached new highs, and home prices have been steadily increasing.  The only part of the economy that hasn’t recovered are the number of jobs.  In fact over 90% of the recovery has accrued to the top 1%.  

5)  Express your deep concern for the jobless (see point 4) and how so little has been done to help their plight.  But whatever you do, don’t let on that Republicans in congress killed nearly every bill put forth to help small business and create jobs.  They filibustered the American Jobs Act. They’ve blocked monetary stimulus.  The debt default charade has done real damage to the economy.  They even blocked bills that initially had bipartisan support or were written by Republicans and got the support of Obama.   Can’t have that, might make the president look good.   In fact the cynical among us might conclude that they have been adamantly opposed to any policy that will help get people back to work if it might possibly make the president look good.  But do sound very concerned about the unemployed.

6) Constantly restate the ineptitude and downright evilness of government as you seek government office.  Portray any government policy to promote job creation as a waste of money or worse yet, socialism.  Government that works for people is evil.  (Remember that old quaint notion - of the people, by the people, for the people?  How ancient history.)  Government that serves big business, that’s OK.  Providing business with the infrastructure, transportation, patent protection, and research that makes it possible to succeed?  Expected.  Asking those who have done very well in this system to pay a little more taxes but less than they paid ten years ago?  Class warfare!     

7) When it comes to your “plan”, provide no real specifics but talk in platitudes.  The gist of the “plan”  goes like this:  the economy will be so glad to see a business man like Mitt in the white house (and doesn’t he just look the part of successful business guy?) that it will explode with good feelings and shower everybody with opportunity.  This is all because of the confidence fairy who will be free to work its magic once the burdensome government regulations are lifted and taxes on the wealthy are reduced.  Never mind that there is no historical evidence to support this theory or any of the other theories that you constantly trot out, like trickle-down economics or the Laffer curve. 

Some people may call these talking points a statement of policy.  I call it what it is, horse poop

Now some of you may ask how a political party can sob about the many unemployed people in this country when for four years it has obstructed any and all efforts to help the situation, opposing measures that have proven in the past to be effective.  Doesn’t that seem to be an extreme case of putting partisan politics above the country’s well-being?  You may ask why there is so much wailing and gnashing of teeth over the deficit, when any analysis of Ryan’s highly praised plan shows that it will increase the deficit even more. 

You may wander also just what their plan is, because it’s a moving target.  Those who try to crunch the numbers are left with guessing just which plan they will analyze, since it changes daily depending on who asks the questions.  It seems that ambiguity is the best shield against criticism, leaving the analysts to make assumptions and guess what plan they are looking at.        

Here’s the bottom line.  Romney could care less if the unemployment rate doubles or triples.  He cares about benefitting the people who are his peers, the 1% of 1%, with protections that make sure that his people don’t have to actually provide any real service to the rest of us but can continue to game the system and divert as much money as possible into their pockets.  A sudden defunding of government across the board will result in not only more unemployment but may well send a fragile but recovering economy into a tailspin.  Just the defunding of research alone will cause a flight of scientists and engineers out of this country.  We will become a third world country. 

Two thirds of Romney’s foreign policy team worked in the Bush administration.  How did their foreign policy work out?  If you think it’s bad now, a Romney presidency will make things far worse.  They have no answers.  The Romney plan is to pick up where the Bush presidency left off and double down.  We have a larger military than the next 9 countries combined, yet Mitt says it needs to be bigger.  We have a government that is essentially geared to serve the interests of the financial elite already.  Mitt says we need more of that and make the rest of government smaller.  We are on the verge of a government that doesn’t even make a pretense of working for people.  Income inequality, already the worst since the Gilded Age, will get even worse.  If that’s what you want, Mitt will get you there.

There’s a lot at stake here.  We are on the verge of handing over what’s left of a human society to the financial elites.  The people who are smitten with the darwinism of Ayn Rand’s writings want to run the show.  They actually believe that they are the real creators and producers and the rest of us are useless.   This is the madness which has taken over the Republican party.