"I think they are all homosexual communists in Satan's army...I espect as well they all live together and bathe together every morning and have the anal sex with one another, with the fisting and the guinea pigs." - Manuel Estimulo
"You two [the Rev and el Comandante] make an erudite pair. I guess it beats thinking." - Matt Cunningham (aka Jubal) of OC Blog
"Can someone please explain to me what the point is behind that roving gang of douchebags? I’m being serious here. It’s not funny, and doesn’t really make anything that qualifies as logical argument. Paint huffers? Drunken high school chess geeks?" - rickinstl
One of my buddies lives in the hills of rural New England. He's involved in structural steel design and fabrication and does work on the side as well as an independent. This is of course very common in this economy; he was laid off last year, and the family survived fine on his wife's salary as a teacher – not the most secure of jobs today which is a horrible indictment of the system – and what he made. Because of the oddball income streams, he has somebody local do his tax work. Well, he went to get his taxes done and the guy – an older guy, by which he means a guy a few years older than me – started complaining about how the blacks have taken over and it's all Obama's fault. My buddy changed the subject and mentioned that he was interested in craft beer and maybe small time distilling. Well, the guy stopped ranting and raving and got up and shut the door to his office. He then confided that in addition to doing taxes and bookkeeping, he was a moonshiner. Had been doing it for years out in the woods and now it was hard to keep up with demand because he was older and had shoulder problems so lugging the supplies up in the hills was a bit of a problem. If my pal would help him, he'd teach him everything he knows about distilling alcohol. My buddy is more interested in craft vodka than white lightning, although having tried both back in my drinking days, I can't recall any real difference. My pal thinks he can keep the conversation turned to the Red Sox and such, avoiding politics and incendiary nonsense that might make his head explode long enough to learn some things; at the same time, he's investigating what he needs to do to set up a craft distillery legally. I guess vodka aged in maple syrup barrels might have a unique flavor and texture. I suspect the first thing he needs to do is avoid killing the guy for general pinheaded racism and jerkiness; next, not get caught by the " G-men, T-Men and Revenooers too"; then see what he has to do to use his skills and craft legally.
Another friend lusts to start his own craft brewery. They all started small, so what the hell? He has a somewhat more stable job and engineering degrees. He hates engineering and working for engineers, with engineers, about engineering stuff. Actually, I think he likes the actual engineering profession and problem solving but has problems with the BS. He's from basically the same neighborhood although he now lives in Philly; guy is so serious that he's seriously looking to get fired or laid off and just quit so he can intern with one of the dozens of craft breweries in the area. He mentioned this morning in our daily email dump and soiree that he'd had a dream where he was standing looking out at a harbor when an incoming airliner crashed into the water, flipped and burned. He then was surrounded by crowds of people screaming that they had seen the whole thing and that THEY WERE THE VICTIMS! They needed help because they were Americans and they had seen this thing. He woke up shuddering a bit. For the record, the guy is a left-libertarian with some socialist leanings, despises the Tea Party-Fox News types but also hates listening to whiney assholes.
Both of these guys are very normal so they really are pretty abnormal. The first's story doesn't surprise me; the rural parts of the country have long been home to generations of a more literate class of hillbillies than people think. Quite frankly, you can bump into some really smart and well educated folk when you get off the interstate in places like Kentucky and East Texas, let alone New England. I remember one "old boy" in a reserve unit I served with as an adviser. Guy had graduated from Texas A&M and had been an Army helicopter pilot in the later stages of Vietnam; he then became a logistics manager for the Army Reserve. Typical of reserve officers in east Texas; however, he had majored in French and English while an Aggie. Lots of guys from that generation who went through the Corps of Cadets majored in things like Mechanical Agriculture and Poultry Science. He didn't let it show too often, but occasionally old Major JimBob (which was his first name) would wander over to my desk where he would say things like "I just spent five hours in a car driving back from Louisiana with LTC Jacque Offe (not real name) after inspecting that Coon-ass Battalion. Top, it's true what that ole French Boy said one time….Sartre, wasn't it. "L'enfer est d'autres personnes… Hell is other people. Sapsucker nailed that shit…" And then he walked out. Another time, "I just spent an hour listening to two colonels and a politician talking about how good everything is going to be when Bush gets the presidency. Those guys are Aggies sitting in Plato's cave, but they just put out the fire…" poured himself some coffee, took some dip and walked out.
While I don't think anybody anywhere needs to worry an incipient rebellion by "angry Negroes", rural New England is really an unlikely venue. That idea enrages my friend, but he can deal with it. The other guy, well, his dream indicates that he's got the soul of a poet trapped in the body of an endurance athlete – very good amateur bike racer – along with the mind of an engineer. Since these three classes of people are prone to eccentricity, hallucination, delusion, paranoia and general madness, he has the perfect psyche for somebody who lives in Philadelphia. We do worry that at some point, his daughter will put a leash on him and take him to a kindergarten show as an example of cognitive dissonance and abnormal psychology. (Kid's not quite two, but she's got skills.)
But, here's the thing – I think both of these guys have great ideas. They'd be happier, their wives are supportive, and what the hell. Although the guy currently wandering around between Kennebunkport and Lake Champlain is a Yankee and the other guy is very, very Polish, bootlegging and illegal stills are a fine Scots-Irish-American tradition. We need to remember that the first revenue sought by the nascent United States was going to be a tax on whiskey, resulting in an actual as opposed to make-believe (Tea Party) rebellion that fizzled out when Washington and Hamilton took the well-regulated militia to the field. Corn whiskey was money on the frontier. Although Appalachia is its home, it deserves more attention as a sign of something in the American character. There's a verse in Ray Wylie Hubbard's "Choctaw Bingo" about mean old Uncle Slayton…
Uncle Slayton's got his Texan pride Back in the thickets with his Asian bride He's got a Airstream trailer and a Holstein cow He still makes whiskey 'cause he still knows how He plays that Choctaw bingo every Friday night You know he had to leave Texas but he won't say why He owns a quarter section up by Lake Eufala Caught a great big ol' blue cat on a driftin' jug line Sells his hardwood timber to the shipping mill Cooks that crystal meth because the shine don't sell He cooks that crystal meth because the shine don't sell You know he likes his money he don't mind the smell
Sadly the shine doesn't sell so well anymore. There are cheaper, faster and easier ways to parlay an isolated location and some rudimentary materials into a profit making enterprise. Meth is the one that should concern us; instead, we spend billions worrying about marijuana. Which isn't much different in effect than moonshine, beer, vodka or Romilar CF. Now, crystal meth is a tad bit different than moonshine or craft beer or craft vodka. I've advocated legalization of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and just about any other drug but meth is evil. Meth cookers should have a bounty put on them, like coyotes in some western states when they start taking too many cattle. I've seen lives snuffed out by meth that were tragic in so many ways; same with alcohol and traditional drugs, but it takes so much longer. Meth kills quickly. A bit of moonshining won't do that unless the still explodes…
Things get weird in this country. At times, it seems like we don't have enough stupid problems of our own, we need to import more. Hookah bars…what the hell is that all about? Kid in the gym yesterday told me about her part-time job after her part-time job at the gym working in a Hookah Lounge in the next city. I told her I didn't get it, and asked what the hell is attractive about it. She said it's a "chill" atmosphere...you sit around, drink coffee, listen to music and smoke. Through hookahs...which have the tar and nicotine dose of several packs of cigarettes per hour. She said 200, but if that were the case, the leading cause of death in Hookah-countries would be lung cancer instead of camel transmitted venereal disease, intestinal parasites, and gunfire. Stylist this morning tried to explain it, although she thinks it's stupid too -- the smoke is less harsh and they flavor it so you get the tobacco effects with...STOP! I smoked for 20 years. What effects? Seriously, what effects besides bad breathe, stained teeth, bleeding gums, cancer, and on and on and on. We can't figure out enough ways to kill ourselves in this country, we import more. And, I know all about the Native American/organic stuff -- I've even had to take a pull or two on a ceremonial pipe filled with naturally grown tobacco. Those pipes are hard to draw from and the ceremonial stuff isn't really that dry so it's like smoking mud. If they're burning it for "medicine" it's mixed with sage (sweet grass) or cedar chips depending on what part of the country you're talking about. WHAT EFFECTS? The only positive effects come after you are addicted...then it calms you down from the urge to rip your skin off, tear off that annoying bastard's head and shit down the hole and then check his corpse to see if HE"S GOT ANY GODDAMNED Tobacco...
George Will made a comment concerning gay marriage this morning on his weekly attempt to pretend his baseball writing isn't the only thing anyone will remember him for to the effect that the opposition to gay marriage is literally dying. Mitt Romney went to a boxing match and jinxed the guy who lost by encouraging him. Common Cause and the Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives filed suit against the Senate for using the filabuster. As absentee ballots and provisional ballots continue to be counted, Romney appears to have lost by more...
Well, life sucks if you're willing yourself extinct. If you've been reading my stuff, you know that I have an unrequitted, secret love for Maureen Dowd. We're about the same age, same ethnciity, same cultural bias, same religious roots -- although I suspect she's still a practicing Catholic as opposed to an anti-theist -- and we both like words, wit and traditional Catholic social values. She went to Catholic University, I went to Holy Cross. She graduated and went off to become a practicing political reporter, then occasional columnist and then anchor columnist on Sunday and Wednesday for the Times. Me, I joined the Army so I could extend my adolescence for another 23 years, playing with guns, working out, blowing things up...I think in a lot of ways, I got the better deal.
But damn, she writes well. When she's really off her game, she's pretty good. When she's good, she's very good indeed. When she's really good, DAMN. This is one of those columns.
Her thesis, not all that different from Will's insight, is that the Republicans are going willfully extinct as a national party. She begins with an interesting anecdote:
My college roommates and I used to grocery shop and cook together. The only food we seemed to agree on was corn, so we ate a lot of corn. My mom would periodically call to warn me in a dire tone, “Do you know why the Incas are extinct?” Her maize hazing left me with a deeply ingrained fear of being part of a civilization that was obliviously engaging in behavior that would lead to its extinction. Too bad the Republican Party didn’t have my mom to keep it on its toes. Then it might not have gone all Apocalypto on us — becoming the first civilization in modern history to spiral the way of the Incas, Aztecs and Mayans. The Mayans were right, as it turns out, when they predicted the world would end in 2012. It was just a select world: the G.O.P. universe of arrogant, uptight, entitled, bossy, retrogressive white guys.
While there were a lot of contributing factors in 2012, there are moments when you just had to stand there and wonder WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY THINKING? The only really viable candidates nationally were probably Pawlenty and Huntsman and only Huntsman had a vision that didn't seem to involve hiring a witch hunter profundis and taking us all back to the dark ages. So, Pawlenty and Huntsman were gone very early. A pizza magnate, a menopausal madwoman who confused John Wayne and John Wayne Gacy when announcing her candidacy, a ego-drunk sack of hypocritical yesteryears claiming with some justification to being the intellectual center of the Republican world, W.2 -- a tall Aggie who was meaner, dumber and in this case zonked on pain medicationa troll from Texas who thinks it makes sense to base the modern world on the standards of the Roman empire, and Mitt Romney were the possibilities; in fact, most of the possibilities arose as temporarily viable because they had the virtue of not being Mitt Romney. After Romney survives a war of attrition, he then selects an Eddie Munster look alike who actually refused to explain the math behind his tax reform and budgetary plans. Romney is revealed as a lumbering clown -- of course, he did that quite well last time, and the reality showed through to the deniers with the 47% crack -- beginning at the Iowa State Fair when he argues that "Corporations are people too, my friend."
I'm not the Virginian, and you aren't Travis. Don't smile when you say that, you grinning zombie. Don't say it. Don't call me friend when you're not my friend.
Republican Convention 2012
Then we have a comedy of errors going on all 2012. Transvaginal probes. Eighty two members of the Democratic Party are card carrying members of the Communist Party. The Female body has defense mechanisms that kick in when there's legitimate rape. The sky is falling and massive inflation is right around the corner. Obama is a Kenyan Socialist Manchurian Candidate. A child conceived in rape is a blessing from God. (By that logic, Rosemary's Baby would be a blessing from God.) Cut taxes on the rich; cut spending on the poor, on education, on infrastructure. Government can't create jobs! (Particularly liked this when it was some Republican house member or Senator with 20 years seniority saying it.) We love our warfighters -- but if we take care of the Veterans, we're going to bust the budget and raise the deficit. "Hell no you won't!" Success in Libya, Iraq and a end-date to the Afgnasy (Yeah, I'm channeling the Russians here) ordeal are signs of weakness; not bombing Iran and widening that conflict at the bidding of the craziest of the Zionists in Israel; advocating war in Syria; and on and on and on...
What were they thinking?I watched the Karl Rove meltdown on Fox a couple of times and actually found it painful...but you know, facts have a way of biting you in the ass if you ignore them. I kinda, sorta actually felt bad for the guy -- he looked like a fat kid denied someone else's hotdog. The guy who coined the phrase "reality-based" as a pejorative was getting bitchslapped by that reality. As lots of commentators have noted, the facts seem to have a liberal bias these days.
Who would ever have thought blacks would get out and support the first black president? Who would ever have thought women would shy away from the party of transvaginal probes? Who would ever have thought gays would work against a party that treated them as immoral and subhuman? Who would have ever thought young people would desert a party that ignored science and hectored on social issues? Who would ever have thought Latinos would scorn a party that expected them to finish up their chores and self-deport?
I think it's possible, and patriotic, to vote against your own interests for the common good. But, the Republicans by hitching their wagons to Ayn Rand, a God not familiar to most readers of the New Testament, denigration of women, denigation of workers, greed, guns, racism and intrusion while trying to wrap it up as "Freedom!" really couldn't claim anything for the common good. Romney's dancing horse really sums them up in a way so apt; he actually believes that saying things like the trees are the right height was a way to connect. Bragging that he had always paid at least 13% was tone-deaf. Demanding greater disclosure from Ryan than he was willing to disclose to the American people on his taxes is kind of amazing. Mormons are not generally considered exemplars of chutzpah, but damn...
Expect more convulsions. We are a deeply divided country in a lot of ways, but if the Democrats stay charged up and the President takes it to the Republicans actually using the bully pulpit as opposed to occasionally polishing it with a deep coat of linseed oil, then we'll see. But right now, I see no way the Republican party as it is now survives as a relevant force.
It occurs to me that Orwell got a lot right but not quite everything. Newspeak is definitely among us, but at it's most insidious, it's corporate jargon, talk and general nonsense. Where we work has more to do with how we think than news or internet or cellphones. We're bombarded. So, Big Brother will probably look less like James Mason or Burt Lancaster and more like, well, Mitt Romney. The CEO of today is the big brother of today.
Got this from a friend who was wondering what it really means. Since he's an engineer and I am supposedly an expert on this Human Resources-Employee Realtions -- Engagement stuff, he wondered if I might translate. Well, it seems pretty universal to me...you'might be amazed at the number of Human Resources professionals named Erin by the way. The equivalent guy name appears to be Chuck, Chad or Bob. The Erin's usually do not have an Irish last name because their Yuppie parents got a list of the most popular baby names in 1974 and there it was. Can't explain about the guys. Most of the Erins actually still have souls...optimism not completely crushed because, if they keep trying, they can really make a difference, Goddamnit, Mike. But, with their door closed, they tend to cry a lot...
This is the email Verbatim although I did change the consulting firm to something neutral...
I wanted to provide you with an update regarding the results of the Employee Engagement Survey.
On September 21st at the Manager’s Off-Site Meeting, the attendees were provided with a general overview of the results by American Social Scientific World People & Process Dynamics. (ASSWPP-D)Additionally, the results were compared to other “Top Workplaces” in the Engineering industry of firms in similar size.
The Executive Team was given all of the aggregate results and each member of the team read all 848 anonymous comments. The Executive Team was asked to look for common themes. I reviewed the specific regional results with each Regional Vice President. The RVPs were then asked to review this information with the managers in their regions.
Tomorrow, the Executive Team and the Regional Vice Presidents will get together for a half-day working session to come up with some next steps in response to the results.
We will continue to keep you updated.
Fascinating, right. Typical corporate crap...however, this is from the Man Behind the Mirror...this is what it really means.
JESUS, GOD, PLEASE HELP ME ESCAPE from this...SOBSOBSOB, WAAAAAA!
I told them that this was probably not going to work and now it's going to be my fault and I don't care...
We read looked at the statistics done by the HR Stastitics nerds for several thousand dollars an hour each that came out of the bonus fund.
We looked serious.
When they showed us the comparators, we looked concerned.
They gave us the results that they;d just briefed us on. We looked studious.
They gave us the remarks. We reacted like dead clowns with Sticks up our Asses.
We had lunch.
We looked for themes -- big deal. Couldn't take it seriously, because you hate us.
We had coffee and looked tired.
We broke early and had dinner, so " Erin can send out a professional summary of what we'd been doing so the troops will know we really car" and they wouldn't have to watch me sob hysterically at my own hypocrisy....
Money for the coffee, lunch and dinner came out of the employee training fun.
Tomorrow we'll fishbone and storyboard and pareto and all that crap.
Money to pay for breakfast, lunch , dinner, coffee and drinks after will come from the employee raise fun.
Went down to the "Delicious Dinner Buffet" -- the wine was gone, the entree was picked over, there were bugs in the salad and cold peas in the mashed potatoes. I had a dry turkey sandwich on white because they'd run out of mayonaise. A drunken troll VP gulping down a porterhouse slapped me on the ass and told me I was "fucking doing a great job, little lady."I may kill myself.
RUN AWAY AND TAKE ME WITH YOU!!
Erin Kovalikesbarxlshexz ( I hate my name! I hate my job! I hate people!)
Assistant to the Assistant to the Assistant to the Assistant to the Assistant
Persona aside, I tend not to pick fights over politics with
strangers. If they’re saying things that are totally batshit, well, I probably
will not be able to convince them otherwise and the sake of argument is to
convince the other person. If I want to just babble insanely, I can do that in
the bathroom; or, on a blog. Why risk the aggravation?
However, a few weeks ago I was sitting with my wife who has
added macular degeneration to colon cancer as reasons to be happy for modern
medicine or to curse getting old. Or both – it’s a fine line. However, we were
waiting to see the ophthalmologist and the inner waiting room was filled with
seriously old people and on a big screen TV they were showing FOX NEWS. I
almost didn’t go in but decided that was stupid. She needs my support and so on
and so on. Well, the gentleman sitting next to me was in his 70s and both he
and his wife were there for some cataract work and possibly some Lasik. All
covered by Medicare, which is a great program and should have been extended for
all. Of course, the insurance companies and other interests including big
Pharma would have gone bat shit. However, given what happened in 2010, how much
worse could the whole Tea Party thing have been? Anyway, the guy started
talking about how Obama was looting Medicare to pay for Obamacare and…and
I couldn’t take anymore when he started in on the deficit. “Sir, like me you’re
old enough to do the arithmetic yourself; do it.” I then enumerated the factual
errors behind nonsense. The only medical benefit not paid for through taxes or
deductions in any program – Medicare, Medicaid or Obama care is the cost of the
prescription drug benefit. That simple. Want to know why we have a deficit? Two
wars, unpaid for prior to 2010; a galloping bureaucracy called Homeland
Security also largely not paid for; tax cuts with no offsets based on the absurd
idea that a budget surplus projected over 10 years should result in massive
reduction in tax cuts in year ZERO. The conversation was civil, and the guy
listened. I’m sure I’ve figured in some local Bircher conspiracy theory, but
what the hell…
I do not find that metaphorically shooting fish in a barrel
puts me in the same league as Hemingway’s Fisherman; arguing with this guy didn’t
make me the equivalent of Patrick Henry or Clarence Darrow. I decided to drop
the proselytizing. However, on the next visit, I refused to go back in that room
if that was on TV. My wife was grateful because it was making her angry to. One
thing the two of us are not about to complain about is health care that we have
– the health care available to others, on the contrary, deserves nothing but
condemnation. Not the medicine but the absolute BS that surrounds it.
So, last night we went to dinner at a place I haven’t been
since she was in the hospital. Owner had our table, and she made some sly digs
about not having seen me lately; after the second one as she bent over to
refill my tea, I said, “I got the digs…it’s ok.” Which elicited a laugh. Nice
place. Anyway, it was a little louder than usual and people were raising their
voices a bit so I felt like I was in the conversation at the next table, where
this braindead idiot started accusing Candy Crowley of having set up Mitt
Romney, that she and the President were in on it and how else could she have
known what the President had said about the Benghazi attack being an act of
terrorism? This time, the argument would have been unfriendly and impolite and
would have probably included language my young lady friend the owner would not
have wanted in her semi-upscale Bistro. Then the fool started in on Voter
Fraud. Then, they left…so, no political homicide last night by Crusader AXE of
the Lost Causes.
THIS IS NOT GOOD FOR MY KARMA. IT IS NOT GOOD FOR MY BLOOD
PRESSURE. IT NEEDS TO STOP. I AM SOOOOOO COMPLETELY READY FOR WHAT SEEMS LIKE A
FOUR DECADE ORDEAL TO BE OVER!
Dr. Dennis Leary, author, Bon Vivant and Worcester native
who did not go to Holy Cross wrote a classic piece of American poetry entitled
“Life’s Gonna Suck”. That’s kind of the
way I feel about this election – regardless of what happens, life will continue
to suck for most of the world and actually, compared to what the potential
situation was compared to what is, for most Americans. I feel grateful, of
course, that this isn’t Darfur, or Bosnia, or Syria or Ukraine or Mogadishu or
Mumbai or any number other locations, hell holes to havens, Nigeria to Norway
and beyond. But, while I try to stay based in the reality world as opposed to
imaginary world loved by Karl Rove and the Republicans, every now and then I’m
overwhelmed by the desire to have things actually be good for once. Truth,
justice, freedom, fairness, great schools, great infrastructure, the babies
well fed, the young educated and optimistic and the old warm and secure. And,
despite my laughter at my Defeatist and Malcontent brothers and sisters over
their disappointment with the Obama Administration to actually, you know, what
for what it believes in, I envy them this – they aren’t willing to be satisfied
with a quarter cup of satisfaction and a promise of tomorrow. So, I am pretty
sure that whether Romney pulls it out, Obama bitch slaps him, or fuck it, Gary
Johnson somehow, in some universe is going to win, life will continue to suck.
More with Romney, less with Obama but still gonna suck.
I’m not the only one who believes this. Muy Amor Maureen Dowd, for example,
finds the idea of contrast between Obama and Romney less stark on the human
level. Romney, like Obama, is probably a great father. He’s probably good to
his wife. He probably doesn’t go down and poison pigeons in the park. He’s got
no reason to be president except that the Republican party is bankrupt of
leadership and it’s his turn using what seems to be their system of nominating
in the next general the guy defeated in previous primaries, based on the idea I
guess that candidates need to age, like fine wine or really foul cheese. But,
they’re not that different in some regards –
was made of the alpha tone of the second presidential debate. But it was more
like a parody of alpha, a couple of pampered, manicured Harvard princes kicking
up “gorilla dust,” as Ross Perot calls it. In a truly commanding performance,
you don’t jab fingers, invade space, bark interruptions. Obama put aside his
disdain for jousts and woke up from the “nice, long nap I had in the first
debate,” as he wryly said at Thursday’s dinner. But he was overcompensating for
the first debacle, and he still didn’t have a vision or memorable zingers or a
knockout punch for a rival who hides in plain sight. Obama’s contempt for
Romney gleamed through as Mitt got all O.C.D. with Candy Crowley about the
rules, and rambled on about his weird retro worldview, where women in binders
have to bound home to make dinner, where the problem of too-easy access to
assault weapons could be helped if, gosh, we just tell “our kids that before
they have babies, they ought to think about getting married to someone.”
The problem is that Romney doesn’t really care about governing,
he cares about being elected. I envision him winning, turning domestic policy
over to Ryan and foreign policy over to Paul Wolfowitz or someone of his ilk
and then spending his days at one of the various Eastern, Western, Mid-Western,
Mid-Eastern White Houses he’ll have to have. One with a ring where Ann can use
her service animal, the Horse who shall not be named, who will be taken care of
at taxpayer expense because, after all, the Horse is a service animal. You
know, I still people with service animals like Vietnamese Potbellied Pigs and
Ferrets kind of odd…(Meet Jake, my Service Animal Python?) But, a horse? After all, he’ll need to visit the Mormon
Tabernacle frequently to be applauded; he’ll need to ride up and down in the
elevator so he can exercise his cars in California and then there’s boating in
New Hampshire and petting his money at Bain Capital. The dude will be busy.
Now, Maureen Dowd points out that Obama really isn’t that
interested in politics; the things you have to do to get elected or re-elected
either irritate him or amuse him wryly. He’s interested in actually governing;
and, he has problems with people who think they are entitled to office because
of their royal status (Bush, Republican Royalty: McCain, Navy Royalty; Romney, Mormon
Royalty.) Being very much an actual
self-made man, he doesn’t get the idea of having power solely to do what,
There’s a famous quote from Jack Kennedy about a
formal dinner at the White House for the American Nobel Winners. Now, JFK
appears to have actually enjoyed the social aspects of politics and the give
and take of what you need to do to get elected as well as govern. He was
friends with people like Barry Goldwater; he liked going to state dinners; his
sense of humor was generally directed at himself or at the pretensions
surrounding him, the White House or personalities. In his speech to honor the
laureates, Kennedy said, "I think this is the most extraordinary
collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together
in the White House -- with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson
dined alone." Same sensibility, different attitude toward the process that
got him there. He appreciated the irony but reveled in it. Consider these other
"Those of you who regard
my profession of political life with distain should remember that it made it
possible for me to move from being an obscure lieutenant in the United States
Navy to Commander-in-Chief in fourteen years with very little technical
is an astonishing profession. It has enabled me to go from being an obscure
member of the junior varsity at Harvard to being an honorary member of the
Football Hall of Fame."
If President Obama had really wanted to nail this, he would
have quoted another JFK line continuously since taking office and finding out
what a debacle he had inherited. "When we got into office, the thing that
surprised me most was to find that things were just as bad as we'd been saying
they were." (May 27, 1961)
The main point, however, is that the Romney team is
willfully, nakedly, distorting the record, leading Ms. Reinhart and Mr. Rogoff
— who aren’t affiliated with either campaign — to protest against “gross misinterpretations of the facts.” And this
should worry you.Look, economics isn’t as much of a science as we’d like. But
when there’s overwhelming evidence for an economic proposition — as there is
for the proposition that financial-crisis recessions are different — we have
the right to expect politicians and their advisers to respect that evidence.
Otherwise, they’ll end up making policy based on fantasies rather than
grappling with reality. And once politicians start refusing to acknowledge
inconvenient facts, where does it stop? Why, the next thing you know Republicans
will start rejecting the overwhelming evidence for man-made climate change. Oh,
Krugman has pointed out repeatedly, this is not rocket science, although
rocket science would do a lot for an economy in Florida and Houston and Shelby
Mississippi and California where there are a lot of out of work rocket
scientists, engineers and blue collar folks. But, it is a variation from the
Gospel of Reagan economics and therefore a lot of people will run screaming
from the room that the idea is unclean. Barrack Obama doesn’t get this – he’s a
rational man who may have lived a chaotic youth but has no affinity for chaos.
He thinks rational people should work from agreed reality, not fantasy. In
comparison to his clown-college opponents Obama wants to be a philosopher king.
Well, the track record of philosopher kings isn’t all that great –Doing policy
that is meaningful demands realizing that he’s a political entity and has to do
the things he doesn’t like that seem unworthy of the office. Mitt Romney wants
an ascension, not accepting that he’s not going to have any room to move and
will be merely a ceremonial figurehead.
The news that there may be an agreement in principle for the
Iranians to sit down directly with the US and negotiate the nuclear question is
fascinating to me; Romney is a salesman, Obama is a Wilsonian figure. Romney
will be all about the deal and any deal will be a great deal; Obama will want a
deal but he’ll want a decent deal that’s reasonably fair to all the
stakeholders. Certainly there are enough of them in the equation – if you’re in
the same time zone as Iran, you’re invested in the outcome of those talks. Who
gets the better deal – the guy who’ll be desperate to prove he’s worthy of
being president and knows nothing about foreign affairs except for what John
Bolton tells him; or the guy who channels Lincoln and selected his greatest
rival to be secretary of State but is super-willing to assume good faith on the
part of people who can’t spell it.. Of course, the White House now says that
there will be no talks soon…I’m not sure that has any meaning anyway, given the
glacial way in which US-Iran relations have staggered along since 1979.
The news that there’s been another mass shooting, this time
in Wisconsin in a Spa is somewhat intriguing at this point despite being a run-of-the
mill domestic violence case gone even further off the tracks. Obama has never,
to my knowledge claimed to have anything to do with guns as an individual;
Romney has claimed to be a life-long hunter shooting “varmints.” Of course,
this example of wanton murder and excess is undoubtedly due to…what, exactly? Violent
video games? Birth control? Abortion? Poor childhood nutrition? Lack of social
services? Jobs? Depression? Fear? Socialism? At the end of the day, there is no
one explanation for evil, but my guess is that abortion and birth control
issues are pretty remotely connected, unless the guy shot up a Planned
Parenthood office. But one thing that I do know is that if guns are less
available, it will be harder for OCD people to fixate on them because they’ll
be harder to get. In this case, it turns out the guy had a restraining order
filed by his wife, was under orders to stay away from her and to not possess
firearms. Yet, there he was. Certainly
in Scott Walker’s beloved Wisconsin there are enough laws to control domestic
violence and it has to be the fault of the unions somehow, right? No. Not
enough cops, not enough controls and too easy to get guns. Be interesting to
know where he got the gun – guns show at a church; from someone at a parking
lot? His mother?
1. IS THERE ANY PURPOSE SERVED ONTOLOGICALLY BY THE NATION STATE AS CURRENTLY UNDERSTOOD AS OPPOSED TO AS PRACTICED?
2. WHICH DECADE HAD THE BEST RIFF DRIVEN ROCK MUSIC?
Metaphysically, both are equally valid questions and worth considering. The first is probably the more common for us to muse about, but the second probably speaks more to my immediate concerns as well as having more to do with something discussable.
Now, I have argued in the past that various rock lists on Rolling Stone or Gibson.Com or PowerPop or other such sites are doomed to arguement and complaint.
Horace is credited with writing, "De gustibus non disputandum est" or"There is no accounting for tastes" or "It's all good, man" in hipster--hippy. Horace was a skirt wearing twit and anyway, all they had to listen to was flute, lyre and cymbal music plus those huge horns that the legion trumpeters played. It gets more difficult and more divisive and there are in fact value judgements to be made about this stuff.
Gibson has a new comparison set up for argument, and this one is intriguing because it's totally impossible to resolve thanks to Horace but opens us up to more interesting questions concerning the arbitrary nature of human time and dating. Isn't the arbitrary division of time into periods of 60-60-24-7-28-29-30-31-10-100-1000 a distortion of space and time?
You see Gibson.com is questioning which decade in the rock and roll chronology (60s-70s-80s) has the best riffs. If you're like me, you see rock music as driven by riffs, the rhythmic slap-dash-dribble that identifies the song before anything else happens to the synapses. One reason that cover songs can go awry is that the covering artist is tryng to take something that belongs to a set of synapses that belong to Mick and Keith and get them accommodated to Barry and Billy. The authors admit it's an arbitrary use of time that disregards people like Chuck Berry, Willie Dixon, James Burton and Kurt Kobain. However, my thought is a bit different.
Perhaps a silly quibble, , but I think 10 years in rock is too long; if you're going to use ten years, start in the middle. The 60s get shortchanged because what burst into rock and roll then didn't really start until 65 and what music that was worth talking about wasn't really different until Punk hit. My preference is probably the 60s because I am old and that was the decade that got me. But the period from 72-80 was interesting for Southern Rock, American Kosmic and LedZepp...So classic chronology makes no real sense. If we use Elvis as the benchmark, then pre-Elvis (BE)would end in 55. After Elvis (AE) would have been 56- to today.
Consider Israel for example. I do not share the immediate Pavlovian reaction of some of my Veterans Today readers to the mention of the place. But, Mosad has always operated as those borders were arbitrary and didn't apply to the protection of the Jewish State. Frankly, that's a British concept that developed in paralell to Rome's doctrine of "Civis Romanus Sum" which was their way of saying, "You're not the boss of me, so fuck off!" The British applied it during the great Anglo-Spanish war of Jenkins Earbefore making it real doctrine in Palmerston's term as Prime Minister in 1850 concerning the blockade of Greece to protect the rights and privileges of British citizens regardless of what meaningless backwaters they chose to cavort in. So, it's a concept that lies in the territory of arrogance, greed and paranoia.
As for us, are we a nation state anymore? The legislative branch is incapble of legislating, the executive pretty much goes its own ways, and the courts appear to be wholly own subsidiaries of big business and Objectivists set on plunder.
One thing about the most honest devotees of that somewhat horrible person beloved by Paul Ryan and Alan Greenspan is that they make no pretense of actually caring about the rest of the polity. THIS IS A PROBLEM FOR THE NATION STATEsince it's about the nation as a whole not individuals or classes within the nation. Feudalism or some atomized form of tribalism is the ideal state to maximize the potential of individual wealth in the anti-empathetic civilization envisioned by these folks. If you consider the traditional Republican business class, they've compromised with the rabble and the ideologues to the point that they resemble somewhat the Democratic party in the 80s, or the Optimates of Cicero and Cato depending on Milo's gang to stop Caesar and the Populares...capable of vicious bites but unable to chew up the prey. As for the Democrats, they have issues with the exercise of state power. Well, the state exists to protect the polity...
My brothers range from anarchists to Quietists to so Zenned Out I wonder if they're still sentient. Now, I am not an anarchist nor am I a millenium awaiter, hoping that the end times are upon us. Humankind will either kill itself off or not (So long and thanks for all the fish!) and if it manages not to kill itself off, something different will come along. But, it's worth wondering about...is it time for a new game?What will that new game be? Splitting up the world between Drug Cartels and Multinationals doesn't strike me as the greatest solution either.
So, I ask that you respond in the same whimsical but cold-blooded way in which I've posed this. Respond to both or either or call this Cat a Bastard and spit on my rug. We'll see. But, which decade has the best rock riffs and what and why; and, is the nationstate something that has a future, and why or why not?
What the hell? Why not? Ehh...
Oh, while I eagerly await the brilliance on both questions, I think the 60s, although truncated by Teen Idols and Beach Movies had the best hooks. The Beatles initially were a continuation of the Teen Idols, but things rapidly changed -- first great rif for me was probably the Animals House of the Rising Sun; however, that was overcome, overtaken and overwhelmed by The Rolling Stones and The Last Time -- until I heard Like a Rolling Stone. For me, Dylan is god and Keith Richards is his prophet.
Last night I dreamt of you, Abbie Hoffman peddling your books, I gave five bucks to you, the other kids just gave you dirty looks.
I said "I'm sorry it didn't work out quite the way you planned."
You said, "That's silly boy, the revolution is at hand."
And if you got a ten spot brother, I got a dime, These are desperate, desperate times.
Last night I dreamt of you, Pepe Lopez strung out on a stage, It don't even look like you, smiling like sawed-off twenty gauge. I still remember the Telecaster down around your knees, It's late November and I think I smell tequila on the breeze.
And if you got the Cuervo honey, I got the lime, These are desperate, desperate times. And if you got the shotgun honey, I got the crime, These are desperate, desperate times.--Rhett Miller
Crusader AXE has been too busy dealing with family issues to write or think or do anything really coherent of late. Mrs. AXE retired from Federal Service after 35 years of helping to make the state function, if not optimally, at least better than if she were not there. The afternoon of her last day, she got the diagnosis of colon cancer...so, by mid-month she was in the hospital for surgery, and there she remains. Friday will be three weeks...the words rehab facility were spoken last night. I am not exactly happy about this -- I have no complaints about the quality of her care for the most part, or the professionalism or kindness of the staff. I have concerns about the quantity of the staff...I think this is a problem nationwide, but probably more acute in Southern California because there are so goddamn many people...
Things haven't gone well. They appear to be unable to actually get the bag to seal to Joyce's skin, which results in her constantly leaking. She remains in the hospital; her surgeon was there last evening and found himself helping try to get the illeostomy bag to work. They had had five iterations earlier, all failing. Which results in linking shit all over everything. On Tuesday, I had had a brain fart when I left the Crossroads of Opportunity to go to the hostpital after getting home at 1130 Monday night and had to stop in Target and buy her clothes to come home with. Well, that didn't work as planned...Had gotten her a stuffed animal for a comfort thing, and that got to come home tonight along with the socks she'd been wearing, all of it shit stained. Surgeon is confused since this is a "good stoma" since the hunk of intestine that's leaking into the bag is what he can do with what's available to him. For some reason, they can't seem to get the base of the bag to seal correctly with her skin, and as a result it leaks out the sides. Now, the surgeon does not want her coming home until they get this to the point where she has some faith in it, and the topic of nursing homes came up. I noticed that they do not seem to have a standard procedure, and are experimenting. They have 1 (ONE) colostomy nurse on staff and one brand of stuff with not all the possibilities covered. Anyway, the surgeon had them get some surgical adhesive from the emergency room -- if they can get that to work, and keep the base fully closed on the body, she'll be able to come home. If not, the word nursing home was used tonight. She would prefer that to having her small intestine leak all over her home, but she'd prefer to have the bag work and be able to come home. To finish healing, so she can go back in and have the ostomy reversed and go back to a normal set of solid waste disposal equipment.
I thought that I'm pretty much ok with this. After all, I'm a tough guy, it's not fun or easy, but I'm just lending moral support and helping her when I happen to be there. And, washing the stuffed big eyed Zebra she's got for company. I'm starting to come to grips with the fact that it's a lot harder on me than I thought. Just beat all the time. I go in there, help her get out of bed to use the commode and such stuff, and feel if not helpless at best incompetent.
Did I mention that getting her to eat is hard? Today she had a hard boiled egg, a piece of toast, and two bottles of Boost Clinical Strength. Well, since whatever she eats is leaking out of her side all over her within an hour or two, she's probably not all that interested...So, at some point this will get resolved but I'm not feeling comfortable with how it's going. She's still in a lot of pain although a lot of it is from the irritation on her skin. They were using something as a binding agent that was largely alcohol. Great...the woman has inflamed skin caused by chemical burns and part of their solution is rubbing it with alcohol. Surgeon is getting incensed...wonder why? Shit.
Medicine could stand to have some statistical process control and analysis. Got a call from a rep at one of three companies that manufacture and distribute colostomy supplies. There are drying agents, it turns out, that do not involve alcohol. If you have what are basically chemical burns over an area and they need to dry the skin to apply something, using an alcohol drying agent is a pretty bad idea. Unless you're trying to wring out a confession....the gal apologized for the hospital, saying that "a lot of times the product works first time but a lot of times it's a process of trial and error." Sure, let's look at new, non asbestos options for brake pads. Let's start with cheese....nothing is a better stopper than curdled milk products!"
I've always been a fan of Tiberius Caesar, pre-Capri. I know that my friends IOZ and Captain Capitualtion probably prefer him at Capri, IOZ becuse of lifestyle appeal and Crispin because he just said screw government...but pre-Capri, he was kind of a Julian John Adams. Grumpy old bastard following Augustus who just quietly went about making the state work. Would be welcome today -- I think that is where dictators come from, the inability of representative systems to work adequately. Or at all, over time.
I don't care about gay marriage. I'm not that concerned about using predator drones, Gitmo as we sweep up the ashes of the Bush administration, and so on. I want the state to work. Jobs,food, schools, infrastructure...I want to turn the ignition on my car and not have the fucking thing blow up because there's no requirement to make a car that won't blow up when the car is started. I want to eat a cheeseburger assured that it's not made of horse or rancid meet. I want the ideal society of 1950s Eisenhower Republican America only with racial and gender equality. The curiously fucked up world that I was alienated by/against doesn't look bad at all as a baseline.
Reading a book on my KIndle while visiting Mrs. AXE called The Angry Buddhist. Involves California celebrity politics, dog murder, and various forms of madness. Poor protagonist is trying to use the Dharma to keep from ripping the head off a lot of people. It ultimately seems to have the theme that, well, make a list, motherfucker. And keep making it -- you'll never run out of vacuous, vicious and verminous assholes needing to have their heads ripped off.
One of my brothers sent out this note about Genesse Cream Ale going back to retro packaging. Upstate NY had some pretty good local beers. Utica Club, Genesse...Utica Club had talking Beer Steins in commercials when I was a kid -- Shultz and Dooley; Genny talked about the sparkling waters of Hemlock late. Far better than 'Gansett or, for that matter, Coors or Strohs. Of course, there had been the Haverly-Congress line, that I still recall a joke of my dad's after they closed down. He said that it happened because they sent a sample in to be tested in the State Lab regulating such stuff, and got an emergency call saying, "Shoot the horse, it's got diabetes..."Still remember the song for the singing beer mugs -- "Brew me no brew with artificial bubbles, those carbonated beers of today/Cause Utica Club'll still take the trouble to AGE BEER THE NATURAL WAY! Utica Club, UC!!"
One of the things that binds loose collectives of malcontented malevolent dissidents, anarchists and soldiers, political thinkers and intellectual dilettantes that make up my small circle of freinds is our general aversion to the impact of the totalitarian mind on life, language and discourse. Particularly when afraid -- when they're afraid, they come unglued with weird explanations of events...Orwell could have had fun with that realization because it is when under pressure from the unknown that the basic spiritual bankruptcy and ontological void that is the totalitarian way becomes most obvious. Case in point, China.China has the potential to explode at any time. It's fairly obvious to anyone with a basic knowledge of Marxist thought that the victory of the Communist Party in 1948 preceded the rise of the industrial proletariat. Pretty much the way that Communism has spread everywhere, by the way, except for the countries in eastern Europe that were conquered by the Soviet Union. So, given the fact the Party still rules the country as a vicious oligarchy, it should not be surprising that the government is terrified of anything that might blow it all up. Tibet, Western China, displaced living lives of misery in Guangzhou and Shanghai...labor unrest, the incredible imbalance between rich and middle class and middle class and poor...disease, famine, water impossible to drink, etc. etc. The place is an economic dynamo sputtering away on top of a volcano.
Which presents a fair amount of hilarity masquerading as WTF? Not unlike Rush Limbaugh confusing contraception with the adult film industry and Israeli fellow-travellers eagerly sounding the drums for a war with Iran because our last religio-WMD-"Make the world safe"-enterprises have gone so well, the Chinese government is definitely after the root cause of problems at all levels. Jezebel picked up a story from The People's Daily that really makes it obvious that fantastic explanations for things is not just a Republican plutocratic art but one shared by totalitarians univerally.
Ok, girl one loses a "remote control" to a rolling door for her home. Girl one is obviously fairly rich for China since this looks like a really bad translation of "Garage Door Opener..." although I suppose it could have been a rolling steel shutter door to a patio or perhaps a French Door with a remote to the patio but, WHAT THE HELL? The silly damn Khardasians don't have remote controlled French doors; Trump doesn't have remote controlled French doors. That makes no sense...even in China, which at some levels, times and places is really like Batman's Gotham City, on meth...So, the kid lost a garage door opener. She decides to kill herself, so she hides in a closet -- another sign that we're dealing with some level of wealth here, there's actually a closet that is not so much in use that hiding in it is possible -- until her little friend comes over. She says she's going to commit suicide, the little friend says, OK, me too and Girl 1 writes down a note saying that she's killing herself over the garage door opener and Girl 2 is doing it because, well, they're friends and it's Tuesday and there's nothing on TV and...they are planning on visiting the Qing dynansty to make a movie of the emperor -- any emperor -- and then going to outer space. Girl 1 tells her sister to "Take Care of the Parents" because it's all about the parents, and they jump in a pool and drown.
Sister? The Chinese still have their one child rule. Only the very well to do and party elites get to have multiple children. WHAT THE HELL? This passes no reality test...but, the inspiration for the suicide is ...TV shows about people travelling in time and marrying royalty.
Yeah, and comic books caused juvenile delinquency and rock and roll and teenage pregnancy and communism. Ask your great, great senile grandmother!
Imagine the dialogue in the TV movie...if you've ever listened to the dialogue in a Chinese TV show, as I did by reading subtitles while there -- you'll recognize it.
Chechette: I lost the garage door remote and have brought dishonor on myself and my family. I must kill myself!
Chongette: I am your best friend. I will also kill myself.
Cheechette:Well, if we kill ourselves, we can go back in time and make a movie of the emperor in the Qing dynasty!
Chongette:Oh, good. Then we can travel in space.
Cheechette: My parents will be so proud...let's go drown ourselves in the pool!
Both: All hail the Glorious People's Liberation Army and Chairman Mao!"
Yeah. Now, they could have blamed this on Falung Gong because everybody knows that weird calestenics and such make you crazy. They could have blamed this on the influences of capitalism. They could have blamed it on a lot of things. Hell, blame it on Guy Clark ...Time travel on the Chinese equivalent to The Gilmore Girls? Jezebel has an excellent point, by the way.
This sounds like a cautionary tale about parenting — if your kid thinks killing herself is a good response to losing the remote control, you might not be sending the right message about the value of everyday objects. But Sun Yunxiao, deputy director of China Youth and Children Research Center, has a different moral in mind:
Schoolchildren are rich in curiosity but poor in judgment, so this kind of tragedy happens in every era. I have heard of children jumping from high buildings after watching an actor flying in a magic show. This kind of imitative behavior is in the nature of young children, but it's very dangerous. So we should give some sort of warning for children on TV programs.
I'm actually not sure that killing yourself so you can travel back in time and film an emperor (where do you get the camera?) is a tragedy that "happens in every era."...
Being not so sure about the impact of TV on suicides -- childish deaths from imitating superheroes, pro- wrestlers and such in the west aside -- and being slightly alert to conspiracies and coverups, I gotta say, this looks more like a cover-up of something else. There are lots of possibilities -- a spree of mass murder of children with or without child rape, a problem with some powerful "Big Bucks" in the local or regional Party-Wealthy Complex, drug-crazed People's Liberation Army veterans of the unpleasantness in Western China which dwarfs what we are seeing in Afghanistan or saw in Iraq -- but TV is a convenient scapegoat. Always has been and always will be...Dr. Who, in Mandarin drag, seducing the young with opium and time travel.
My money is probably on some sort of Child 44 coverup but who the hell knows about these things? Totalitarian countries are weirder than weird and China's internal dissension, cultural dissonance, and Commie-Confucian-Oligarchic messiness kind of makes it all seem possible, and that's funny in a weird way...and sad.
Another possibility is that this is just some Politboro thug having a shit fit at time travel TV. Again, the oddities of totalitarianism...
When you're working in a group, it's hard to know what you truly think. We're such social animals that we instinctively mimic others' opinions, often without realizing we're doing it. And when we do disagree consciously, we pay a psychic price. The Emory University neuroscientist Gregory Berns found that people who dissent from group wisdom show heightened activation in the amygdala, a small organ in the brain associated with the sting of social rejection. Berns calls this the "pain of independence."
Take the example of brainstorming sessions, which have been wildly popular in corporate America since the 1950s, when they were pioneered by a charismatic ad executive named Alex Osborn. Forty years of research shows that brainstorming in groups is a terrible way to produce creative ideas. The organizational psychologist Adrian Furnham puts it pretty bluntly: The "evidence from science suggests that business people must be insane to use brainstorming groups. If you have talented and motivated people, they should be encouraged to work alone when creativity or efficiency is the highest priority."
This is not to say that we should abolish groupwork. But we should use it a lot more judiciously than we do today.
A while back, I did a post on politics over at the Defeatists recently. One of my frustrations with blogging and one reason that I have cut back is the lack of feedback, by the way. Comments are welcome, good, bad or indifferent. Anyway, most of the comments over there seem to come from people who are trying to sell something like Gucci handbags but have been fascinated by some brilliant thing one of us said, either recently or a couple of years ago. We're about due for the annual "How dare you say anything bad about boy bands, you misogynist bastards, especially you, Commandante AGI!" which has some interesting semiotic undertext in it. However, this one was from a real human being who was interested in what I said and conflicted…I might be right, but what the hell…
Here's the conversation. Any emphasis is mine…
Good post, good post...but what if the "middle" is, objectively moronic and absolutely wrong? The middle says:
"We need to invade Iraq and kill or displace a million people and turn the country over to the Shiite theocrats, but we will do so with properly audited spending and well-trained troops who will follow the letter of the rules"
The middle says: "Medical care funding in this country is broken so let's require people to buy overpriced private insurance with their minimum wage jobs".
Sometimes, to parpaphrase Jim Hightower, "the only thing in the middle of the road are yellow lines or dead armadillos"
And...do you really see any Democratic Party politicians with any position or any influence in the party (which means...Jesse Jackson does not really count) as being anywhere near as crazy as the current GOP? Really? Which ones? I can't think of any...I'm a little younger than you but I remember Jimmy Carter and Dukakis and their ilk...and they are NOT Santorum or Gingrich, let alone Bachmann.
The middle is also gung ho about the upcoming hot war with Iran...either run driectly by the United States or by our good buddies in Israel. (Another nuclear power. Hmmmm....why is Israel "allowed" to have nuclear weapons?"
Not sure where the middle is...you see it further off to the right than I do. Oddly, we could take either Eisenhower or Nixon and their social policies as a starting point for the middle, and we'd look pretty leftist today. Imagine the New Deal or the Fair Deal or the Great Society in swing today...but, of course, what we got is what we got and determines what we're gonna get near term and possibly long term. What that doesn't do is allow us to just give up. I remain convinced that the lesser of two evils is the better choice. By having Bush beat Gore, how did Nader make things better? Devolve for 8 years and here we go again? (Nader is not to blame completely for Bush -- lots of things conspired to make things this bad.) However, the difference between John Kerry and George Bush can be summed up with two names -- Samuel Alito and John Roberts as well as one Supreme Court Decision -- Citizens United. A Democrat wins in 2000 or in 2004, even an uninspiring Democrat like Kerry, and money doesn't equal speech. However, it's probably time for my periodic Yeats post...
I wished I believed things could be "reformed". I think Chalmers Johnston nailed it. Even as things devolve and crash and burn, the people that benefit from the system still have plentiful opportunities for looting and rent seeking. And, the system promotes sociopaths (no...I am not saying everyone in government is a sociopath...but still, there are a lot of 'em).
People like Obama merely provide a cover, a gloss, for the ongoing predation. Arguably, Obama has made things worse in that the "anti-war left" (a feeble force given America's history as a violent culture based on conquest)) was lulled to sleep and ineffectiveness.
You can refuse to play either of their terrible games. You can resist them. Most of all, you have the power to give up the deception that Barack Obama is a hero because he might murder "fewer" innocent people. The crucial difference between voting for Obama in the real world, and choosing to allow him to murder only 3 preschoolers in the example above, is that the example above describes a terrible choice being made one time only. The presidential farce is recurring. Imagine the preschool example, but this time imagine that it happens every day. Times ten or fifty or a hundred. Every day, you go by the preschool, and every day the madmen execute either 3 or 5 children--your choice. At what point do you stop choosing? At what point do you stop playing along and say, "Enough"? At some point, it must become apparent to you that the game is never going to end.
The children are going to keep dying--there will always be new madmen willing to take the hostages, make the speeches, and carry out the killings. Choose your decade. Choose your war. Choose your murders. Choose your "party." How long can you justify this morbid farce? How long will you play the terrible game with the killer? Go back to Vietnam, if you like. Go back to Hiroshima and "choose" which rich, powerful national leader you want to press the button. Go back to the invasion of the Philippines. Go back to the Mexican American War. The fucking crusades, or the genocide of the neanderthals. Count the bodies. Is it ever going to end? Are you ever going to say, "Enough"?
Every day you walk by the school. Every day the madmen are there. When are you going to stop giving them what they want? When are you going to stop validating not only the deaths they cause, but their entire horrific game? It will never stop unless we stop it. If we keep supporting it, year after year, always justifying it as "a little less murder than we could otherwise commit," it will never end. When you refuse to vote, or vote for someone else, you are a grain of sand. But at some point, change has to happen, and it will take individual people willing to refuse to support the killing. A few crazies, at first, who refuse to compromise by saying, "I guess it's fine if Obama kills people, because he'll kill fewer than Gingrich will." (This is, essentially, what that haughty piece of shit George Clooney is saying as the televised 2012 contest approaches) A few crazies, and maybe someday, more. It's as daunting a task as any, but it has to happen for the killing to stop: human individuals--without an automatic, reassuring group consensus--refusing to support killing any longer.
I'm guessing Brian isn't the High Arka, but HA is definitely invited to the conversation…
This bothered me, and I was blogging about it. However, I was composing on Typepad, which my Defeatist brothers continually caution me against because a couple of times a year the Google or the Typepad Hobbits decide to fuck me over and eat everything I had written. I learn for a while, and then revert to form…so, I have brief moments of sanity, interspersing the Einsteinian standard insanity of doing something again and again and being surprised when it goes wrong. Terribly wrong. So, I dropped it for a while.
However, it's still bugging me. I'm a lifelong Democrat who thinks that Jefferson, Jackson, both Roosevelts and Truman were among the great presidents, but the greatest was Lincoln. Lincoln would have serious problems in today's Republican party of course. In fact, he'd probably either be a Democrat or possibly something further left. It's fun to imagine him with David Boies, arguing Citizen's United against some Koch brothers mercenary. Of course, as Jesus wouldn't be allowed to preach in modern Christianity, Lincoln could never be admitted to the bar. Paul Tillich, the Existentialist Christian theologian and philosopher wrote in the introductory remarks to his most approachable work, The Dynamics of Faith, a series of lectures given at Cambridge in the 50s that "Today, faith is more productive of disease than of health. It confuses, misleads, creates alternately skepticism and fanaticism, intellectual resistance and emotional surrender…"
One reason that I admire Lincoln is simple – he personifies human compassion. Lincoln wasn't overtly religious publicly, but he was a man of deep spirituality and concern. Tillich contends that "Faith is the state of being ultimately concerned. The dymanics of faith are the dynamics of ultimate concern…" Lincoln's ultimate concern was justice which he saw as fairness, compassion, compromise and the acceptance of the other side's humanity. He was generally disappointed, but he strove to achieve that world by doing what he could to maintain the union based on that idea of justice – not because the Union was itself just, but because he saw the potential for justice as lying in the Union, depending on it, deriving it's future from it. And, in order to preserve it as source of ultimate good, he was willing to risk everything, including his soul and sanity and sense of self to preserve it. Had the South been victorious, would he have been treated like a hero by the North? He'd have been hung…he was risking his life, and the irony of his assassination lies in the reality that Wilkes egotistical madness created.
Today's political world is based largely on something that goes back to the beginning – between those who are ALWAYS RIGHT and those who suspect quietly that they could have made a mistake. I don't think Lincoln ever signed an execution order easily or without struggle; we know that George W. Bush had no such concerns, and that Rick Perry was almost gleeful about it at times. And, we know that the people who go to Republican debates cheer executions. Where would Lincoln have been on that? I suspect he'd have vomited…
I've been doing some reading about Afghanistan and our continued adventures there. Now, I have colleagues who are 9/11 Truthers, which I am not. I have colleagues who think Osama bin Laden was killed years ago and then dumped in the Ocean for a propaganda victory; I have colleagues that believe that Israel and the Mossad did 9/11 and got us into the various mid-eastern debacles. Well, if I were Israel I would probably have reacted to the news of 9/11 attacks with some restrained glee especially if I was concerned about the US cutting a separate deal that would be to Israel's disadvantage. Churchill confessed to a feeling of relief and happiness when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Do we really think Churchill planned Pearl Harbor? I know that the Israelis and their various lobbies in this country really want Iran to go away – and, they'd like us to do it. However, as Zbigniew Brzezinski argued on Hardball on Friday we're facing a reality. There is nothing that makes sense about backing an attack on Iran for us; lots to make it a really bad idea; and, exactly what does Israel get out of the attack? NBC's chief "go get shot at" correspondent Richard Engle was in the same segment, and he indicated that the political leadership in Israel might be really excited by the possibility of an attack on Iran, but the actual soldiers and covert operators think it would be stupid, that their focus needs to be on Egypt and Jordan. Brzezinski argued that Iran may be crazy, but that particular empire in various incarnations has been around for 0ver 3000 years, and do we really think they're suicidal? He also points out to those who say "Israel can't live under the threat of nuclear attack" the degree of fatuous reasoning. We did it for over 40 years as did the Soviets and Western Europe. If Iran gets a bomb and uses it, do they expect to survive? Everybody in the neighborhood who counts, including Israel, has a credible nuclear deterrent, as well as delivery systems. The Iranians are depending in so far as they are on anything, on North Korean technology…what the hell. Let them spend themselves into oblivion, which was Reagan's strategy in the 80s. It works…unless you screw up and spend yourself into oblivion.
This is relevant to Afghanistan for a number of reasons. I know that the administration has agreed to stop combat operations sooner than later, but I'm really wondering why not now! It really helps to have some historical awareness, and the only tactic that has worked with Afghanistan is the punitive raid. Get in, fuck up the bad guys and anybody in the vicinity, threaten worse if they do it again, unass the AO. Invade and try to make it better, and you'll just make it a helluva lot worse, and you'll suffer for it. By April of 2002, the Taliban is gone from power although still there; al Queida was severely damaged there; Pakistan is/was/will be totally fucked up; and we're there because…we're going to turn it into a Jeffersonian Democracy? As soon as the Taliban was defeated and Osama bin Laden et al were in Tora Bora, we should have declared victory, given them a check, possibly re-established the monarchy and gotten out. The Afghan people don't want western culture; they don't want women to have any rights; they don't want to not kill each other. It's that simple – we're trying to impose an improvement on people who see no reason to change and regard the "improvements" as evil. NATO and the US would be further ahead to fund emigration to some reasonable location – Barstow, California for example – for those who want to live under something other than Sharia law. That'll assuage some consciences. But whether we leave now or in five years or in ten years, it will be the same…only worse.
The piece from Susan Cain is very relevant here. We got into Iraq due to a rush to judgment and the influence of Ike's military industrial complex combined with green, hubris and myopia. It's interesting in comparing our Iraq-Afghanistan experience to the Soviet experience. Unlike the Soviets, we did have a reason for attacking within Afghanistan – they were harboring a threat, and we had a just reason for wanting to eliminate that threat. The Soviets had been dithering around with the Afghans for years and chose to invade because of the Brezhnev doctrine that once a Red Block Country always a Red Block combined with the belief that they could control matters. They sold themselves a bill of goods. The Soviet experience looks a lot like US experience in Vietnam – lots of people with good intentions and an absolute inability to see the consequences of their actions. I've been reading former British Ambassador to Moscow Rodric Braithwaite's Afgantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan 1979-1989 with a degree of déjà vu combined with a strong sense of WHAT THE FUCK ARE WE DOING? Working from Russian sources and interviews, Braithwaite has a history of a cosmic comedy of errors that looks and smells a lot like Vietnam. Lousy policy, self-delusion, group-think run amuck, combined with inefficient tactics, lousy planning, and dumbfounding mismatches between outcomes, methods and resources. The good news for the Soviets was that Spetznaz was really well honed in Afghanistan. The bad news is that they failed to achieve any of their goals while turning the Red Block essentially into Cuba and North Korea. We achieved our initial goals, dithered and screwed around for the next 10 years and are still looking for a goal that we can achieve. Somebody in power needs to stop talking, listen to the record and the history and start focusing on ultimate concerns, desired outcomes – I define a desired outcome as something that can be achieved within the reasonable constraints of blood, time, treasure and lost opportunity. The most desirable outcome today is not to listen to the congressional storm or the media tumult but to listen to the inner voice of reason and make the sort of courageous decision that Lincoln made routinely. And, don't wait for elections or consensus. Do what's right, now…for Lincoln's sake.
Braithwaite begins the third portion of his book, the Long Goodbye with a poem by one the Russian Afghan veterans, Igor Morozov. It reads, in part –
I generally find Russian poems and song lyrics somewhat of a blend of overly didactic and overly romantic…peasant and soldier poetry. The Soviet Army and its soldiers deserved a better use; so did the British with Lord Elphinstone in 1820. The Soviets in many ways repeated the British experience. We repeat the Soviety experience…if history repeats itself with the first time as tragedy and the second as farce, what exactly is our experience going to be? Tragical farce? We deserve better, and if someone listens not to the crowd but to the inner voices or reason, creativity and common sense, we may get it. I remain pessimistically hopeful…
WILL WRESTLE YOUR MOTHER-IN-LAW FOR A BUCK!--Homeless Guy's Sign, Trust Stop Near Barstow
So, the unemployment rate has dropped below 9% to 8.6%. Why is the AXE less than excited by this? The unemployment rate is based on the number of people who are considered to be in the workforce, so if you eliminate people from the workforce who are unemployed, the percentage employed is skewed to teh right. In other words, So, most of the drop is due not to the imaginary job creators of Republcian lore, legend and myth, but due to people giving up after months of trying, running out of unemployment benefits and falling off the grid and under the bus. In other words, a historically low number of workers are doing less badly, while there's an increase in people who are literally just waiting to die.
American governments at all levels continued to bleed workers, for one. And the decline in the unemployment rate had a down side: It fell partly because more workers got jobs, but also because about 315,000 workers dropped out of the labor force. That left the share of Americans actively participating in the work force at a historically depressed 64 percent, down from 64.2 percent in October.Even excluding these hundreds of thousands of dropouts, the country still had a backlog of more than 13 million unemployed workers, whose spells of unemployment averaged an all-time high of 40.9 weeks. “They say businesses are refusing to look at résumés from the unemployed,” said Esther Perry, 59, of Bedford, Mass., who participated in a recent report on unemployed workers put together by USAction, a liberal coalition. “What do you think my chances are? Once unemployment runs out, I don’t know what I will do.”
Do the Occupied folks stay in the Workforce? Probably not -- while they're doing their thing, exercising their constitutional rights and getting pepper sprayed and beaten and shot with rubber bullets and so on, they're not looking for work or, conversely, they are working, just not getting paid. See how much fun this is? Statistics measure what you measure -- basing policy decisions on them or making political decisions on them -- THE PRESIDENT"S CHANCES FOR RE-ECLECTION IMPROVE AS UNEMPLOYMENT DIPS! -- without asking some structural, almost existential questions about what these things mean is really stupid, and I'm sure we'll do it soon, 24/7 on cable news, blogs like this one and talk radio.
So, here's the test -- who do you know who's unemployed and you don't understand why? When they get a job, assume that the unemployment rate may be going down. Whom do you know who hates their job -- trick question, the stats that I have seen are pretty straight and seem confirmed by reality, just about everybody hates their job. However, pick someone who's dramatically underpaid, overworked and unhappy...see when they get a raise. Or feel comfortable quitting their job to look for a new one. Then what's happening is an actual increase in employment, as opposed to an artifical decline in a rate.