Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Excerpts of Mike Lofgren's Essay "Anatomy of the Deep State" Interspersed with Unrelated Pictures from My Weekend Bike Rides

The George Washington Masonic National Memorial as seen from the backside near sunset, Alexandria, Va., 5:45PM Oct. 18, 2014.

I actually went inside the place for the first time, at least into the foyer. Anyway, the bulk of the pictures in this entry were taken on my Saturday and Sunday bike rides and have nothing to do with the entry topic but rather are just there to break up the text.


Exhausted tonight.

I made it to the gym, although unlike my Friday workout, this one wasn't so stellar, in particular the weight-lifting part. It was mediocre at best. I also skipped the pool. However, I got in the usual 1-hour treadmill jog. Yes, an hour.

I'm home now after dinner and "nesting" and watching TV (reruns of The Golden Girls on Hallmark, which is soon to switch into its interminable "Countdown to Christmas" holiday movie marathon, which probably marks a good point for me to get rid of my cable TV since I watch so few other channels these days and two that I sometimes do (Antenna TV and Me-TV are both digital over-the-air available here in D.C.).

"Welcome to Washington, D.C." sign on the Rosslyn, Arlington side of the Key Bridge heading into D.C., 6:16PM Oct. 19, 2014.


In lieu of attempting to finish / smooth over the sprawling draft entry I started on Friday night and continued on Sunday, I'll just return to the topic I mentioned briefly in my previous entry, namely, the seminal essay by former GOP Congressional analyst and author Mike Lofgren that appeared on Bill Moyers' must-read website last February (link embedded):

This picture accompanied the essay on Moyers' site.


By Mike Lofgren / Feb. 21, 2014

To elaborate on this, Lofgren discusses the paradoxical situation arising from what he terms the "Deep State" (a term that apparently comes from Turkey) whereby we have an awesomely powerful U.S. President that can unilaterally start wars, bomb and "drone" essentially any country at will, assassinate U.S. citizens, wiretap and "data mine" everyone and everything, and in general just sits atop an astonishing military / industrial / surveillance state complex, yet simultaneously this same person is wholly and painfully ineffectual on anything domestic that would make the country a better place and instead is this sort of pathetic figure caught up a political atmosphere so toxic and polarized that (thanks to the crazy radicalism of today's Republican Party) our parliamentary system approaching banana republic status.

The suburban-tranquil corner units of The Pavilion condominium complex along Haycock Road right next to the West Falls Church Metro, Falls Church, Va., 4:17PM Oct. 18, 2014.


As Lofgren describes it, the "Deep State" is:

"[A] hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose. My analysis of this phenomenon is not an exposé of a secret, conspiratorial cabal; the state within a state is hiding mostly in plain sight, and its operators mainly act in the light of day. Nor can this other government be accurately termed an "establishment." All complex societies have an establishment, a social network committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation."

A large house at 2309 Grove Avenue in Falls Church, Va., 4:19Pm Oct. 18, 2014.

Not visible in this image, there was a Halloween decoration on the porch featuring death or some sort of spooky hooded figure in all black.



"In terms of its scope, financial resources and sheer global reach, the American hybrid state, the Deep State, is in a class by itself. That said, it is neither omniscient nor invincible. The institution is not so much sinister (although it has highly sinister aspects) as it is relentlessly well entrenched. Far from being invincible, its failures, such as those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, are routine enough that it is only the Deep State's protectiveness towards its higher-ranking personnel that allows them to escape the consequences of their frequent ineptitude."

Sunset view from the steps of the George Washington Masonic National Museum looking to the northeast across Alexandria and toward Maryland and D.C., 5:55PM Oct. 18, 2014.


The Deep State includes a variety of "nodes" such as the military / security state apparatus and Silicon Valley and, of course, key elements of Wall Street.

As for Silicon Valley, Lofgren notes the implied quid pro quo and calls bullsh!t on the "sham" libertarian leanings of its assorted moguls. He writes:

"After Edward Snowden's revelations about the extent and depth of surveillance by the National Security Agency, it has become publicly evident that Silicon Valley is a vital node of the Deep State as well. Unlike military and intelligence contractors, Silicon Valley overwhelmingly sells to the private market, but its business is so important to the government that a strange relationship has emerged. While the government could simply dragoon the high technology companies to do the NSA's bidding, it would prefer cooperation with so important an engine of the nation’s economy, perhaps with an implied quid pro quo."

Sunlight filtering through the magnolia tree growing in front of my apartment building, New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., 3:11PM Oct.17, 2014.

I mentioned this tree in this entry.



"Perhaps this explains the extraordinary indulgence the government shows the Valley in intellectual property matters. If an American "jailbreaks" his smartphone (i.e., modifies it so that it can use a service provider other than the one dictated by the manufacturer), he could receive a fine of up to $500,000 and several years in prison; so much for a citizen’s vaunted property rights to what he purchases. The libertarian pose of the Silicon Valley moguls, so carefully cultivated in their public relations, has always been a sham. Silicon Valley has long been tracking for commercial purposes the activities of every person who uses an electronic device, so it is hardly surprising that the Deep State should emulate the Valley and do the same for its own purposes. Nor is it surprising that it should conscript the Valley's assistance."

Summer House grotto, U.S. Capitol grounds, Washington, D.C., 5:19PM Oct. 19, 2014.


As a result of all of this:

"Still, despite the essential roles of lower Manhattan and Silicon Valley, the center of gravity of the Deep State is firmly situated in and around the Beltway. The Deep State's physical expansion and consolidation around the Beltway would seem to make a mockery of the frequent pronouncement that governance in Washington is dysfunctional and broken. That the secret and unaccountable Deep State floats freely above the gridlock between both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue is the paradox of American government in the 21st century: drone strikes, data mining, secret prisons and Panopticon-like control on the one hand; and on the other, the ordinary, visible parliamentary institutions of self-government declining to the status of a banana republic amid the gradual collapse of public infrastructure."

Ivy Hill Cemetery, Alexandria, Va., 5:34PM Oct. 18, 2014. I wrote about and posted pictures of this cemetery in this entry.


"The results of this contradiction are not abstract, as a tour of the rotting, decaying, bankrupt cities of the American Midwest will attest. It is not even confined to those parts of the country left behind by a Washington Consensus that decreed the financialization and deindustrialization of the economy in the interests of efficiency and shareholder value."

Garden apartments along Martha Custis Drive, Alexandra, Va., 5:19PM Oct. 18, 2014.

I spent a Thanksgiving in 1996 or 1997 in one of those units (possibly a different building, I don't recall now) with this weird ultra-Catholic libertarian guy named Ray (it was in that period with Tim and his social group). It was with his very elderly mom, who was a wonderful lady. Ray and I had an argument (totally my fault) and she smoothed it over so well. I understand she has since died.


Lofgren then discuss a variety other issues and uses allusions and metaphors to the collapse of Imperial Rome. This is a very important essay and I'm sorry I missed it when it came out back in February. I only became aware of it because of Andrew O'Hehir's excellent column from Sept. 20th (link embedded):

This is exactly why -- as O'Hehir noted in a column this past weekend -- the upcoming midterms don't mean shit EVEN IF, as seems likely, the "evil" and "insane" Republican Party sweeps to power in the Senate. (The GOP lock hold on the House is a given for years to come.)

Sub-headline: It's the Party of Fear's turn this year, and that blows. But the cast of clowns in D.C. don't really run the show

Anyway, I nominate Benji Wittes as the mascot of the Deep State.


Meanwhile, Fred Hiatt's Washington Consensus "stable" of WaHoPo house editorial writers and op-ed columnists -- all neoliberal, Wall Street / corporate oligarch "Free Trader" shills and neoconservative imperialistic warmongers form key members of the Beltway imperial courtier class.

Oh, and of course, Sally Quinn is the doyenne of the courtier class's Old School dinner party subset.

OK, that's all for now. My next update might not be until late Wednesday / early Thursday.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Sunday Night Excess, Monday Morning Agonies, and Some Good and Important Reads

The sign at the intersection of 34th Street and Volta Place NW, deep in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., 6:23PM Oct. 19, 2014.

I was going to insert into the image the word "UPPER" above "VOLTA" because I think that's funny. Indeed, as author and aviator Patrick Smith wrote in a wonderful piece I excerpted here, if you were an adolescent male in the mid-1980s, you thought the country name "Upper Volta" (today "Burkina Faso") was HILARIOUS.


I had totally planned to post last night a rather lengthy entry that covered multiple topics -- and, indeed, it is partially written.

What happened instead is I went to Larry's Lounge for "a drink" with the intention of being home by 1030PM after a meh sort of day. (I took a second bike ride, which brought my weekend mileage total close to 30 miles, but the bike is not behaving well with the gears all screwed up).

The row house at 415 M Street NW, Washington, D.C., 5:02PM Oct. 19, 2014.

I just thought it was a cool-looking, albeit seemingly abandoned, building in a strange part of the city. I was biking down toward the Capitol on a zigzag route (and thence all the way over to Georgetown via Rosslyn (on the Virginia side) and back home before going to Larry's Lounge). I showed the picture to Larry P., and he immediately recognized it (he said is "Jewdar" went off). Here is the story.


However, it was Gary's 30th 40th birthday (well, actually, today is his birthday) and, well, let's just that I would take the day off and sleep through it, but I sort of took did that Friday, and short of serious illness it's just not an option. Instead, I just have to suffer through it.

(Yes, Gary, I have your wallet. I'll give it to you when you come by.)

The Summer House grotto (and my bicycle) on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C., 5:18PM Oct. 19, 2014.


I will try to post that entry tonight after the gym, although I might have to break it up into two entries. Alternatively, given how I feel now, I might have to skip an entry tonight and just wait until tomorrow night to post it. I'm staying it and not going the gym tomorrow night.

Of note, I am FLAT BROKE this week -- as in, $20 per day -- until Friday. Just as well, given this "life style" I have. (YAY! WALL-P WINS!)

"Eh. Eh. Eheheh. This proves yet again the superiority of my methods. I AM the smart money. I AM the urban sophisticate. People seek out MY expertise. I have all the answers. I get them online from the Washington Post, Wikipedia, and LexisNexis Legal queries. As a result, money was made. Therefore, I am a genius."


In the meantime, please read these three pieces, the first two which really require dedicated entries and, indeed, I intend to return to this topic in a subsequent entry or two. If you read any, please read the first one by Mike Lofgren.

The links are embedded in the titles:

By Mike Lofgren / Feb. 21, 2014

U.S. Capitol dome, oddly covered in scaffolding, Washington, D.C., 5:22PM Oct. 19, 2014.


Sub-headline: Critics like Michael Moore are partly right -- but Obama's doomed presidency is more momentous than they think

By Andrew O'Hehir / Sept. 20, 2014


Yours truly, Richard Todaro, Summer House Grotto, U.S. Capitol grounds, Washington, D.C., 5:25PM Oct. 19, 2014.


Sub-headline: It's the Party of Fear's turn this year, and that blows. But the cast of clowns in D.C. don't really run the show

By Andrew O'Hehir / Oct. 18, 2014.

Good reads and good, important stuff.

OK, that's all for now. I just need to get through this day.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Jukebox Saturday Night Entry for Oct. 18th, 2014: The Way You Are and Break My Stride Edition

In case I'm not home later, I am posting my Jukebox Saturday Night entry earlier in the afternoon (and just two songs this week) ...

"Just the Way You Are" performed by Diana Krall from her Live in Paris release (2002)

Diana Krall is just terrific. As for this song, it was, of course, originally written and performed by Billy Joel and appeared on his 1977 album The Stranger.


"Break My Stride" by Matthew Wilder (performing live) from his album I Don't Speak the Language (1983)

I love the lyrics to this song ...

"Last night I had the strangest dream. / I sailed away to China / In a little rowboat to find ya, / And you said you had to get your laundry clean. / Didn't want no one to hold you. / What does that mean??"

And ...

"The road behind was rocky, / But now you're feelin' cocky. / You look at me and you see your past! / Is that the reason why you're runnin' so fast??"

Ha ha


Sentinels and Bonfires of a Lost World: More Recollections of the Ambrose Light, Trade Winds Beach Club, and a Vanished Jersey Shore Youth

**This entry was posted Oct. 18th, 2014.**

The old Ambrose Light "Texas Tower" at the entrance to Lower New York Bay in an undated photograph.

As discussed below, this tower was removed in 1999. Boo.


I have decided to post this snippet of a larger entry into its own dedicated  entry. As for my other entry, I'm going to hold off on posting it.

I actually started this entry last night before going out -- solo of course -- to No. 9. I biked there, stayed for about 2-1/2 hours, and got back home around 145AM. I had an unexpected text message from my childhood / teenage best friend Jonathan in New Jersey. I have mentioned Jonathan (he goes by Jon) previously in scattered entries on this blog including here and here.

Jonathan seen on the beach at sunset in Sea Bright, N.J., on a winter evening, January 27, 2013. I was in New Jersey for my great Aunt Babe's 100th birthday.


Jonathan was doing a concert in Asbury Park -- he is with a band called the Ribeye Brothers* -- and he texted me after it was over. He said he was thinking about me. (*He once was the drummer in a "stoner band" called Monster Magnet that had a significant measure of professional success.)

That never happens.

Jonathan and I had a several exchanges during which I once again looked up the Wikipedia article on the Ambrose Light Tower that we used to be able to see from Tradewinds Beach Club, or alternatively in the spelling**, Trade Winds Beach Club, in Sea Bright, N.J., during the 1970s and 1980s.

An old postcard my late paternal grandmother sent me circa 1985 showing the old Trade Winds Beach Club in Sea Bright, N.J.


**I realize I have been inconsistent in how I have spelled it. Of note, I still get a fantastic number of word and image searches on this blog for that lost, legendary beach club, especially from folks in the New York / New Jersey area.

The Ambrose Light "Texas Tower" structure in an undated black and white photograph with a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter atop the platform, which also appears to be a roof of a station of some sort below it. Judging by the newness of the structure, which lasted from 1967 - 1999, this must have been taken in the last 1960s shortly after it was built / commissioned. 


As for the Ambrose Light, to me it always appeared as a distant little "high chair" far out (some indeterminate distance) in the Atlantic Ocean at the entrance of the very busy shipping lanes into and out of New York Bay. It was in what is known as the Ambrose Channel. At night there was a bright flashing swivel beacon on it. It was the case that I was seeing the "Texas Tower" incarnation of it that lasted from 1967 - 1999 (see above pictures).

The last in the series of old Lightships Ambrose, United States Lightship WLV-613 (Ambrose), in an undated picture. This ship predated the Ambrose "Texas Tower" incarnation. There were multiple Ambrose lightships. It appears this one is berthed in Wareham, Mass.

So this old rust bucket and an even earlier incarnation (see below) actually outlasted the two sea platforms.


Prior to 1967, there were (over the decades) a series of Ambrose Lightships docked out there stretching back to 1823, although the name "Ambrose" was not used until 1907-1908 for United States Lightship LV-87. The name is in honor of John Wolfe Ambrose -- for whom the channel and subsequent light ships were named. Of note, the LV-87 still exists as a National Historic Landmark in New York City at Pier 16 on the East River.

United States Lightship LV-87 (Ambrose) docked at the South Street Seaport, Pier 16, New York City, in a photo dated April 4, 2008.


In Oct. 1996, the replacement tower was damaged when a tanker struck it, and although repaired, the U.S. Coast Guard deemed the repairs insufficient and the old Texas Tower was demolished in Sept. 1999.

It was replaced in a different spot (about 1.5 miles from the original) by the weird structure pictured at left.

I also recall seeing this replacement structure a few instances on visits to the upper Jersey shore. However, it was struck TWICE by ships (in Jan. 2001 and Nov. 2007) and was finally removed for good in July 2008.

Source of info: Here and here.

In recalling our childhood and teenage years at Trade Winds Beach Club, and as a concluding text message to me, Jonathan wrote the following at 2:15AM:

"One thing I miss seeing and smelling is bonfires on the beach during the summer. That will never happen again ... lots of good things are gone forever. Sigh ... oh well goodnight my friend, I have to go to bed."


OK, that's all for now. I need to start my day. I don't have to go to the gym today since I had a good workout yesterday. In lieu of that, and since it is such a lovely, breezy fall day, I'm going to try to take a bike ride today from a Metro station in Montgomery County or Virginia and ride back into D.C.

Still stuck in the D.C. Bubble, with no Sentinels and a World Without End. Amen.


Friday, October 17, 2014

A Few Words on My Comforting Word Blanket

I haven't mentioned M. WADE Tipamillyun much on this blog in the past year, and that is definitely on purpose and by design and intention. (Is that redundant?) Part of it is that I just don't particularly care anymore. HOWEVER, please know that I still SAY "M. WADE Tipamillyun" often to myself. It's a mantra kind of thing. I find it comforting and soothing. Saying it makes me happy.

OK, that's all. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to teach creative writing and show a litany of awful films to classes full of awful teenagers.



The Weekend I Didn't Go Camping -OR- What's the Matter With Regulus?

**This entry was posted on Oct. 17th, 2014.**

James Creek in Trough Creek State Park, Pa., September 2011. Photo by Aaron Riddle.


I know that it is probably a wussy thing to do, but I have decided NOT to go camping up at Trough Creek State Park in Pennsylvania this weekend with Andrea, Imara, Nick, and Jake. I probably should go -- it's a ready-made camping trip-in-a-box, so to speak, and I almost never get out of D.C.

However, I just opted instead to remain around here. That makes me a loser and a wussy.

The main issue is the lack of plumbing / sufficient bathroom accommodations for those doing outdoor camping (as opposed to staying in a cabin). There is no running water and no ability to shower. The other issue is the need for warm blankets/bedding and clothing given that it is going to be in the upper 30s Fahrenheit for lows by tomorrow night. I'm just not really equipped to camp like that (although I was told others could supplement my possessions).

Summer view in Trough Creek State Park, Pa., date unknown. The park and Lake Raystown is at the base of the Allegheny Front.


Finally, I'm just not that great socializing in a group, especially a group mostly as young as this one is compared to me. I'm weird and difficult company, unless there is liquor involved and then I go from zero to 80MPH, so to speak, in terms of fun followed by 80 to 120MPH and then crashing back zero, waking up in that to that awful hung over state with weirdness the next day. To be clear, Andrea IS my supervisor at work.

Then there is my own tendency to stick to a regimented schedule for both work, gym, blogging, socializing, and sleeping.

As for work, I'm not even in the office today. I really wasn't feeling well with a very bad headache. I'm going to try to go to the gym this afternoon and then do some work from home. I need to detox from a post-work happy hour last night that ended up involving three different places (Harry's Pub, No. 9, and Fox & Hound, the latter with Jamie).

Rainbow Falls along the James Creek, Trough Creek State Park, Pa., May 27, 2011. Photo source here.


Instead, I'll just take a bike ride or two this weekend -- one in which I take the bike on the Metro into Montgomery County or Virginia and bike back -- and also perhaps to go the gym one more time. And, yes, probably the same going out. However, I'm very low on money this pay period.

I might update the blog later this evening. Sigh...


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Senate Odds, House Sure Bets, and Imperial Ends -OR- Let's Get This Election Over Already

**Updated 8:35PM 10/17/2014: See below.**


A few odds and ends ...

So at this point, it looks likely to very likely to a statistical certainty* that the GOP will win the Senate, although Nate Silver had a very useful piece on why the polls this particular year are vexing and the situation still uncertain. I note here that Paul Waldman of The Plum blog on the WaHoPo.com took issue with Silver for saying Dems are claiming polls are systemically "skewed" in the manner the GOP made this claim the weeks leading up to Romney's 2012 loss.)

*The WaHoPo Election Lab model just seems stupid, though, on the face of it in terms of its Senate statistical certainty.

The New York Times online Upshot blog has an entry on this topic of polling uncertainty this year as well. Nevertheless, it seems increasingly likely the GOP will win just enough seats -- which are disproportionately in Red states this go around -- that the combination of the usual shit midterm turnout by Democratic constituencies who are all holed up in their urban and severely Republican-gerrymandered districts in a year characterized by deep apathy driven by fatigue and frustration with (as I see it) such a severely broken political system due to GOP insanity, overclass rapacious plutocracy, and corporate Democratic pussiness.

Updated 8:35PM 10/17/2014

Rather than posting another entry on this depressing subject -- and it is depressing for Democrats and progressives, so much so that I'd like to link to this Salon piece by Joan Walsh, an uber-politically correct pundit who is NOT on my must-read list, but I liked what she wrote there -- I just want to update this entry with a link to a piece by Sam Wang in The New Republic (link embedded): No, Republicans Aren't Guaranteed to Win the Senate. Here's Why. (Of course, they probably will.) Wang runs the Princeton Election Consortium operation and its model presently forecasts a 52-seat Republican majority or a pick up of 6 seats.

Princeton Election Consortium: Percentage difference between the meta-margin of the final polls and the actual election results -- with the presidential years showing the results in the "tipping point" state -- for the 2004 - 2012 elections. It shows that Dems outperform by 1.2% for the entire period.

In the Senate case, the Senate Meta-Margin is (per Wang) "defined as how much the final vote would have to differ from polls in key states to create an exact toss-up for control of the chamber." The current Senate Meta-Margin (as of Oct. 17th) is R+1.2% (i.e., the final votes would have to differ by 1.2 percentage points in the direction of Democrats for an exact toss-up 50-50 outcome). Interestingly, that's exactly what the PEC R+1.2% meta-margin now shows.

End of update.


As for the House, as the above histogram of 1,000 model estimates of who will control that chamber shows, it is beyond a lost cause, and it will remain so at least until the outcome of the 2020 Census when America's inexorable demographic changes HOPEFULLY start to catch up to the House district structure. Even then, it could be take until the 2030 Census.

Gallup sees the 2014 election as similar to the 1998 and 2002 elections (story here).

One must download and open image for readable version.


Nevertheless, the Ebola cases in Dallas have created a "Perfect Storm" in which the Fundie End Times and Teabagger base ... to the extent there is a difference between those two key GOP voting blocs in an era in which American politics have reverted to a mid-19th Century regionalism, especially regarding the GOP ...

... are being whipped up into a Fox News / Rightwing Hate Radio frenzy of vintage American paranoia, idiocy, and race-based carnival barking by the for-profit media / entertainment complex and associated GOP infrastructure in order to gin up hysteria to ensure its base votes.

Greg Sargent, also of The Plum blog, calls this the Doom-and-Disease Chorus.

The idea is that Obama is causing the Ebola outbreak because it somehow helps him and his Muslim, Socialist, Atheist Kenyan agenda. Or something like that.

As for President Obama, he's just kind of hapless these days and running out the clock on his term even as his approval ratings continue to plumb new lows. (I do agree with Paul Krugman on how history will judge him.)

Regardless, the Empire really is in decline.

OK, that's all. I might try a weather update entry now. Actually, no. It's too late at night now. I'll try to do so tomorrow.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dystopian Losers and D.C. Duck Soup -OR- Liquidity Trap and Rock Bottom Perspectives

I-270 as seen from Grosvenor Lane overpass in unincorporated North Bethesda, Md., 5:09PM Oct. 12, 2014.

This entry contains several disparate topics. The photos include a thematically unrelated set that I took on Sunday on a bike ride from Grosvenor via Bethesda back into D.C. on the Capital Crescent Trail (stopping at Rock Bottom in downtown Bethesda). There are also some weather images.


I'm in a much better mood now.

I was in a horrendous mood much of the day. I slogged in a torpor through the day even as I started on a new BA case in Okla-homo. And it wasn't like I was extra tired: I had a full night sleep last night.

The Capital Beltway as seen from the little overpass of the Bethesda Trolley Trail(also called the North Bethesda Trail), Bethesda, Md., 5:16PM Oct. 12, 2014.

This too in unincorporated Bethesda/Montgomery County, Md.


And I TOTALLY did not want to go to any post-work happy hour. However, I made it to the gym last night and typically take off Tuesday nights. The Tuesday night event was at Bar Code where on Tuesdays the way overpriced bottles of wine are reduced to by half to just overpriced. I stayed for about 90 minutes but only had two glasses of wine and then walked home.

The grounds of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Md., 5:26PM Oct. 12, 2014.

Actually, this is the bike trail just outside the NIH grounds, so it is really more just parkland.


I got home in time to watch two of the four reruns of The Middle on Hallmark Channel and now I'm watching the reruns of The Golden Girls. I'm still considering cancelling my cable TV as soon as Hallmark starts its 2-1/2 month long all-Christmas holiday movies right after Halloween.

I watch so little other TV, and it makes so little sense to keep paying $70 a month for cable. However, I intend to keep the internet access.

Left: Yours truly at Rock Bottom in Bethesda, Md., 5:45PM Oct. 12, 2014.


The current (11PM - 1130PM) GG episode is a funny one: "Love, Rose."

Blanche: "People magazine is late. I'm gonna have to give that mailman a GOOD TALKIN' TO!"

Dorothy: "This time, you might want to try something more forceful than a Café Vienna and a warm bath."

The weather on Tuesday (Oct. 14th) was mostly sunny and well above normal with a high of 82F at KDCA and an overnight low (so far) of 64F. Both readings were +13F above normal. The daily record was 87F set in 1975, so not even close. (The daily record low is a pre-KDCA Washington, D.C., record of 32F set exactly 100 years before the daily record high in 1875.) KIAD's overnight low (so far) of 63F (this morning) was +19F above normal.

The air mass in place today was quite South Florida / Caribbean in origin in feel. The winds were from the SSE off the Atlantic. Right now (at the 11PM hour on Oct. 14th) it is still 76F at KDCA with gusty SSE winds.

A powerful cold front is progged to punch across the mid-Atlantic late tomorrow with showers and thunderstorms followed by much cooler conditions.

High-resolution surface weather map of a portion of the mid-Atlantic, Great Lakes, and Ohio River Valley, valid 0Z (8PM EDT) Oct. 15 (14), 2014. Click on image for larger version.


The cold front is quite elongated north-to-south (see weather map above) and is connected as an occlusion to a sprawling upper level low pressure system with surface reflection centered Chicago.

A portion of the composite radar mosaic for the Lower 48 U.S. showing the Mid-Atlantic,  Ohio River Valley, and Appalachians, 0318UTC (11:18PM EDT) Oct. 15 (14), 2014.


High temperatures are forecasted to be only around 65F over the weekend with overnight lows around 45F. Up in Pennsylvania where I might go camping -- although at this point, I'm not so sure -- highs are only forecasted to be around 55F and lows around 38F, which is quite (perhaps too) cold for camping.

Sterling (LWX) NWS county warning area (CWA) webpage advisories, updated 12:12AM EDT Oct. 15, 2014.


There is a flash flood watch in effect for parts of the Shenandoah tomorrow but not here. Also, yet again, there is a coastal flood advisory in effect for Anne Arundel County and for the District of Columbia. There have been such coastal flood advisories in effect for much of this month. Maybe it's global sea level rise starting to manifest itself...

A corner of the downstairs bar at Rock Bottom, Bethesda, Md., 6:00PM Oct. 12, 2014.


Changing subjects ...

I wanted to post a link to this Paul Krugman blog (link embedded): Nobody Understands the Liquidity Trap, Cliff Asness Edition.

Read the entry for information on who is Cliff Asness (he is not the subject of this entry) and why Prof. Krugman is talking about him. Krugman links to a lengthier explanation by Brad DeLong on one of his blogs (link embedded): No, Cliff Asness Still Has Not Done His Homework on What a Liquidity Trap Is: Why Do You Ask?

What I really want to call attention to is a lengthy, captivating comment posted by a man named Dan Kervick to the DeLong entry. It is comment #8 posted at 11:54AM Oct. 14th, 2014.

Dan Kervick is, by his own description, on his Twitter account an "Independent scholar and PhD in Philosophy specializing in the work of David Hume; book industry professional; promoter of progressive and egalitarian economics." Kervick writes for an online site called New Economic Perspectives.

I just don't know enough to know if Kerwick is onto something here or not but it FEELS like he is ... Of course, that's hardly evidence it is correct.

As regular readers of my blog know, I am a total Krugmaniac.

Kervick takes a conceptual exception to Krugman's oft-stated view the trick for getting out of a liquidity trap during a deleveraging shock (and its associated deflationary economics) is to increase the underlying target inflation rate in order to end a situation of negative  real interest rates due to too much savings and depressed macroscale aggregate demand. Those negative real rates, of course, are trapped against the zero lower bound, which is why "normal" monetary policy tools do not work (and why quantitative easing is totally non-inflationary). It is all about stimulating demand at this point through fiscal means. (That is my attempt to summarize Krugman's view. I hope I did it justice.)

Looking down on the main floor of Rock Bottom from upstairs, Bethesda, Md., 6:13PM Oct. 12, 2014.


Kervick writes:

"The real interest rate explanation of stagnation is absurd. It assumes that there is some possible equilibrium condition of an economy in which people are willing to make their capital available to the production system at a negative real rate of return, and that if we can thus get our real interest rate down to that "natural" rate, healthy levels of investment will take place. But such a situation would occur only if the rate return on wealth that comes just from *holding* that wealth were strongly negative - i.e. if the society was experiencing an ongoing net loss of wealth. If that was the case, we would not just be stagnant or sluggish. Rather we would be in the most profound depression imaginable."

I just don't know. I suspect the flaw in his argument is the second and third sentences: Krugman is probably NOT arguing that there is such a negative real rate of return.

A blurry image of the Dalecarlia Tunnel along the Capital Crescent Trail in the Brookmont section of Montgomery County, Md., 6:28PM Oct. 12, 2014.

It was quite dark by the time I got into Georgetown although the sky was overcast and wanly illuminated by the city lights, to that created just enough light by which to bike in the darkness. Still, it's probably not the best idea with no headlight.


In any event, I just have to quote this part of Kervick's comment, which I think is spot-on:

"But there is simply no reason to believe that private enterprise and market-based distribution in a plutocratic society are capable of delivering full employment, robust growth and broad prosperity. US dynamism in the postwar period, when US society was much less plutocratic and more economically open than it is now, depended on a robust central state driving investment and creating a sense of national purpose and goals. That is gone. And the distribution of wealth has given us a world in which low-risk, stable rent-collection is privileged over competition and risk-taking, and in which the vast majority of the population commands so little control over wealth that entrepreneurial capital investment, risk and job creation at the main street level are strangled. We are also faced with a generation of dystopian losers who have lost their nerve, and whose low expectations of the future are a self-fulfilling recipe for stagnation and risk avoidance." (Emphasis added on last line.)

I think that last line is pretty much talking about me... Boo.

This is a picture of empty Southwest Duck Pond in Southwest Washington, D.C., 2:17PM Oct. 7, 2014.

I was walking back from a brief stint at Fort McNair for the annual agency picnic. I started thinking of that science writing organization "D.C. Science Writers Association" that goes by the acronym "DCSWA" and which its members typically pronounce as, "Duck-SWAH."

Or is it "Duck Soup"??


OK, that's all for now. Signing off from this little bit of early 21st Century dystopia in the Imperial Capital. However, at this exact moment. I don't feel so badly.

Tomorrow is a gym night. I might update the blog afterwards, although it also might not be until late Thursday.