Propaganda Sessions   (2017Jun14)


Creatures_02

Wednesday, June 14, 2017                                               11:03 AM

We have lost the thread of our government lately. The most recent outrage—the Attorney General sits before a Senate intelligence committee, refuses to answer reasonable questions, and refuses to offer a specific legal reason for refusing to answer—and the Senators don’t threaten him with contempt charges. Some seem to think that America has obsessed over ‘rights’ long enough—and it’s time to start focusing on privileges.

When Cracker Sessions is forced, further along, to respond, “I am not stonewalling”; he is actually saying, “I’m stonewalling, alright—and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Think about it—the only reason anyone would feel called upon to say, “I am not stonewalling” is if it had been preceded by a lot of unanswered questions and a Senator accusing him of stonewalling. To my mind, a mere verbal contradiction of such an accusation is the height of hubris and privilege.

And there was no sign that Sessions was loath to talk—we rarely see such huge swaths of time filled with mealy-mouthed vagaries that reach only one point—they prevent the demanding Senator from asking another question, and eat up that Senator’s time. This is an effective stonewalling technique—if one overlooks the stark contrast between Sessions’ oral pussy-footing and Comey’s forthright willingness to share any pertinent answers he could.

Sessions also added to the flurries of ‘blessings’ and ‘God’s will’s the GOP enjoys throwing around, lately—and it makes sense: God helps those who help themselves—and, boy, do the Republicans like to help themselves. Plus, the ignorant can only command respect when they point to a higher power to explain their incompetence. Those foolish Democrats too often try to make their points with mere reason—don’t they know we live in a post-fact society?

While Democrats suffer from a lack of leadership, the Republicans suffer from a surfeit of mislead-ership. I grant the pragmatic nature of their approach—it is far easier to mislead public opinion that it ever was to form a more perfect union. Idealists make the mistake of trying to tell people what’s good for them—which makes idealists like nagging doctors—and just as popular. Salesmen have a much easier job—they just have to convince us to sign the lease (or vote for a candidate) and let next sales-year take care of itself.

All good things must come to an end—and all bad things, too (GOP, take note). Good people are too busy to cause trouble—that’s why evil goes un-swatted awhile—good people are not going to stress about the small stuff. Evil un-swatted, however, tends to grow and grow. Evil even starts to think it’s acceptable—and is surprised when good people get fed up with the mounting evil.

Outrage is a powerful force—enable it at your peril. A passing faux pas is no great worry—but a looming conspiracy of evil can only spur people to respond. Think Boston Tea Party. Think Watergate. Unbridled abuse of power contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction. Cheaters never prosper.

This Country Will Self-Destruct In Five, Four…. (2016Dec09)


pogo

Friday, December 09, 2016                                               10:08 AM

But what really bothers me is the end of the-world-as-I-know-it. Between the loss of habitats, shrinking species diversity, toxins and pesticides, we may well be able to kill ourselves off, even before we reach overpopulation, extreme global warming, or killing the oceans. Also, Capitalism has become a Frankenstein’s Monster—created by us, but too strong now to be defeated, even by the whole village carrying pitchforks. And then we go lobotomize ourselves, and elect a scoop of shit to the Oval Office—that was the wrong move. I know, I know—it’s too late now. But, ma-a-a-a-n, was that the wrong move.

The real question is—does having even the slightest hope for the future depend on a bad president? And the answer is definitely no. Trump, by himself, is a harmless, doddering idiot. But with the entire globe on the precipice—make that innumerable precipices—a Trump presidency is kind of gilding the lily. What, you couldn’t wait a few decades for things to go blooey—you want to see it right now? Well, if that’s what you were thinking—you got your wish.

It reminds me of a story that got a lot of attention when I was younger—in the midst of the civil rights movement, when a legal fight gave African-American kids the right to use the public pool in one southern town, the response was to fill the town pool with cement. That was the racists, blatantly cutting off their own noses to spite their faces. And we are living through something similar now—President Obama has ‘besmirched’ the presidency, so the idiot-half of the country has elected to fill the White House with cement.

Not that Drumpf was running against a non-white candidate—but he was running against a woman—and racism and misogyny are just two sides of the same bigotry sandwich. And Trump is just a tiny speck of betrayal and stupidity, compared to the decades of it that led up to the present.

Our problems go so much deeper than a Trump presidency—our problems are rooted in the historical chain of events that led to his candidacy—the rot of riches, the fiduciary mugging of college students, the neglect of our most precious resource—the very world we live and breathe in, and the voluntary insertion of millions of heads up millions of asses, begun by reality TV and brought to fruition by Twitter. The list of bad-turns American society has made goes on and on.

The smart youngsters of this world are looking for the next big thing—they look at America and they see an empire drowning in its own decay. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that being the greatest superpower for seven decades has brought on the ‘absolute corruption’ of the old adage. And we must admit that America was never the land of hearts and flowers that its cheerleaders would have us see it as. America, the idea, was great—is great—but America, the place, is full of people: rich, thoughtless people, poor, bitter people, ignorant, hateful people, and a few good eggs.

You don’t, as a nation, ‘come back’ from a President Trump—he is more than a problem that ‘popped up’—he is a symptom of a deep, deep sickness that has matured over decades. You cut your losses and go looking for a new beginning, somewhere else or somehow else. The ‘light of the world’, if it is to be re-ignited, is not going to flare back to life in this country—it’ll happen somewhere else. We are too busy hugging our past, and hugging what we have left, and hunkering down against an increasingly threatening government and corporate system. This is what the inevitable decline of an empire looks like.

Misdirection is the key—just as Trump gets the media to talk about flag-burning, when that is the last thing we need think about, we mislead ourselves by focusing on Trump himself as the problem. He is not the problem, he’s a symptom—his ascendancy is due to millions upon millions of Americans who are too lost to see him for what he is. Forget Trump—you want a mission? Go after whatever it is that makes us so self-destructive.

This nation is polka-dotted with high-ticket research and development laboratories—working night and day to find the secrets of science and technology. Where are the equivalent number of researchers working on social justice or humanitarian aims? This nation is blanketed by media—corporate powers that have taken hostage the journalism that protected democracy. Where are the new journalists who will report facts, without a leash? And how come the terrorists never go after the lobbyists? Do they respect them as allies in the war on freedom? And how the hell do lobbyists sleep at night, or look themselves in the mirror?

In the words of an old comic strip, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Well-Aged Capitalism   (2015Mar15)


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Sunday, March 15, 2015                         11:53 AM

When speaking of Capitalism we must be specific as to which Capitalism we mean. Fresh Capitalism is a wonderful ideal, but then so is Democracy, Communism or Socialism—as ideals, they’re all good. The question with any system is how does it age? Communism aged badly—the corruption and the power-struggling began before the ink was dry on new governing policy, and a police state (as we are learning) never helps matters much.

Socialism seems to be working well with parts of Europe, but xenophobia, greed, and lust for power have their ins into that system as well. Democracy holds off corruption the longest, because it makes power contingent on popularity, which curtails the worst, most open examples of tyranny and self-enrichment. But Democracy is like a business—easily managed when it’s young and small. Once a democracy becomes big and mature, complexity starts to mask some of the corruption, and makes it easier to confuse the electorate.

But Democracy, for a long time, was like a well-ballasted ship that would right itself no matter how hard we pitched to one side or the other. Freedom of speech got people talking whenever things didn’t smell right—and in a country where you can’t jail your opponents for criticism, it’s hard to be a real bad guy and keep your office. That this is no longer the case today has a lot to do with Capitalism, the worm in the apple.

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We always speak of the Industrial Revolution—but that era was about much more than inventions and assembly-lines. All business was privately owned, or a government franchise—and bookkeeping was art, performed in various styles, with various techniques, depending on the performer. But railroad tycoons wanted the riches of owning their railroads without the hassle of having to run the business themselves—which gave birth to the stock market. And business owners of constantly-growing businesses became frustrated by the elusiveness of valuation at any given time—which spawned the invention of double-entry accounting, the system we still use today to account for a business’s every penny spent and every penny earned.

So, the Industrial Revolution was dogged in its steps by the Business Revolution. Systems for trading in cash and in assets, systems for keeping precise track of it all, even new systems of business ownership, were all invented due to the increasing complexity of industry. Capitalism began to resemble the monarchies that Democracy was supposed to replace—and monopolies were a constant threat to the claim that Capitalism creates an even playing ground. Abusing the masses through draconian working conditions and meager wages was there, too—but people are strangely reluctant to complain about labor practices when starvation is still a significant cause of death.

Besides, monopolies are a rich person’s problem, and rich people had no problem getting the ear of government to urge that limits should be put on how unfair one rich guy could be to another rich guy. However, monopolies are also a rich person’s tool, so debate on how to limit it dragged on for decades—and continues today.

One area where pro-monopolists have always had more influence is that of communications and entertainment. Ironically, this is because a Democratic system places greater value on a microphone—or mass media, as we call it today—due to its potential to influence voters. The value of owning a TV station goes well beyond its monetary value—it grants editorial power over which news is reported, how it’s reported, and even in pure entertainment, ideas and messages supporting the interests of the owner can be promulgated without dissent.

This situation isn’t that important in an environment that contains many competing TV stations—when one station goes too far outside of observed reality, their competitors can capitalize on that cognitive dissonance by branding the offending station as untruthful. However, if all the TV stations are owned by one entity, dissent in public discourse is, at best, muddied, and at worst, completely squelched.

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This brings us to today, where in many states, the constituency is mostly encouraged not to bother voting, or to vote for a brain-dead, bought-and-paid-for criminal. And given that environment, it’s getting mighty hard to find a candidate who isn’t a brain-dead, bought-and-paid-for criminal. This doesn’t ‘break’ Capitalism, but it does break Democracy as we know it.

No, Capitalism is eating its own guts in different ways—suborning the government is just one of them. But it is key, in that it allows the other extremes—the failure to adequately tax the rich and the corporations, the failure to pay decent wages, and the failure to protect the vulnerable from the influence of the super-wealthy and from Wall Street’s predations. We’re starting to talk about income-inequality, but due to the monopoly on mass media, it comes out as ‘class warfare’. Yes, equality isn’t fairness to the poor—its ‘war’ on the rich. Sure, I’ll swallow that—I’m hungry and there’s nothing else to eat.

But seriously, what Capitalism’s big winners fail to realize is that destroying the government’s ability to govern has consequences beyond the immediate financial success they are enjoying at this moment. The GOP, money’s representative in Washington, have shut down the government repeatedly. They’ve stymied any significant legislation for almost a decade, not to mention the appointees they leave un-appointed—causing no end of government dysfunction.

And just recently, they put out a masterstroke of foreign policy obstruction—an open letter to Iran that has convinced most of the world, overnight, that the US is not to be trusted. That they revealed themselves to be seditious, ignorant troublemakers is beside the point, though it doesn’t help much, since they are our elected ‘leaders’, and the world has gone on quite oblivious to the fact that we’ve always had a pack of morons constituting our congress, until now.

Yet what bothers me most is that ‘honesty’ in media has become a punchline, where it was once considered of real value. Without truth as a touchstone, we are left with pure entertainment. But you can’t inform an electorate with entertainment. You can indoctrinate them, you can influence them—all good news for the fat cats trying to turn your head around, but not so good for real democracy. Democracy without information is just tyranny through convoluted means—and monopolizing the news to hide the truth is pretty convoluted. Luckily for the filthy rich, convoluted is confusing—and we are confused—too confused to call them out on their lies, too confused to take back our democracy—even too confused to vote for an honest candidate. Just don’t look to the mass media to straighten it all out—they were part of the solution, but now they’re part of the problem.

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Have a Koch and Be Beguiled (2015Feb08)


Sunday, February 08, 2015                              6:37 PM

Koch Industries I could care less about. Considering the enormity of the Koch boys’ fortune, I’m sure there are many important gee-gaws that spill from their factory floors. I’ll bet they have lots of happy, willing workers, too—I wouldn’t be surprised if they even got decent wages. Like all business owners, while relying on their ‘labor pool’ (we might think of it as a population) they have nightmares about ever taking responsibility for the labor pool—they just pick and choose from it, as needed. The rest is not their business, or so they are desperate to believe. But let’s leave that alone, and just agree that we have little to complain about so far as the industrial entities themselves are concerned.

Neither will we explore the question of Capitalism, possession, and whether or not there is any decency in two geezers having so impossibly much while so many have so few. Capitalism is the American way, isn’t it? So let’s just further agree that the Koch boys have every right to lord it over the rest of us. I’m sure the people who meet them socially find them to be lovely folks—almost impossible to imagine spitting in their faces, regardless of how much indication there may be that they deserve such treatment. In person, in a social setting, I imagine they strongly resemble real people.

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No, there’s just one thing to which I take exception, one thing which I can’t overlook, and that is their inability to understand how treasonous their behavior is. They want their pile of money to represent ‘free speech’—fine, as long as they’ve brought enough to share with the whole class. When the Koch boys are ready to sponsor both sides of a debate, great—but money spent on only one side is influence, not speech. And they know this, or they wouldn’t be so clever about circumventing the old rules. They can’t be cunning and dumb at the same time, though they and their ilk make a grand show of just that paradox, and quite often.

There is an ongoing outcry among champions like Liz Warren, bemoaning the intractable nature of such corruption—but there is a simple solution, and it should have occurred to us a long time ago. Do not vote for anyone who takes Koch money—simple. And if the Koch boys manage to buy all the candidates in a particular race, vote for whoever you want—it won’t make a difference. There ought to be a mob of people running for office, local, state, and national, whose only campaign pledge is that they won’t be bought. At this point I don’t care about political platforms—I’d vote for anybody else, if it meant defeating the Koch boys’ attempted purchase of our heritage.

I shouldn’t have to add the following, but in the interests of clarity let me point out that changing to some other big backer is not an option. Politics is dirty enough without the addition of big bankrolls—it’s been a dirty business long before it was acceptable to campaign for office. Did you know that it was once considered so grasping to actively campaign for an office that to do so was considered good reason not to vote for such a candidate? It’s true. We once had sense enough to avoid office-holders who actively sought the power of their office. Ah, the halcyon days of America…

But the Koch boys aren’t running for office—so why am I so angry with them? Can’t I be reasonable? They’re just trying to support the ideas they agree with—just like anyone else with billions of dollars and no clue about democracy. We are Americans—we all admire wealthy people—we all aspire to become wealthy people. But if we had great wealth, how many of us would decide that the best use of it would be to destroy our country? Who among us dreams of becoming rich solely for the purpose of making a mockery of our elections?

But more importantly, why do we vote for these paid mouthpieces? People joke that politicians should wear patches to declare their various sponsors, like NASCAR drivers—but we don’t need the stickers, we know that all these people are bought and paid for. So why do we vote for them? Democrats ran from photo-ops with the President during the last election because being aligned with him was considered bad politics. How then is it possible that endorsement by the Koch boys isn’t the kiss of death for any candidate? What kind of half-assed thinking is that? We’re acting like a bunch of morons, and we’ll end up with the government we deserve—I’m warning you.

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Not My Best Moment


Image

Friday, May 31, 2013                  11:53 PM

Running outta cigs. Back hurts in a hundred different places. Tired. Anxious. Not my best moment. Could be worse—I could be in Oklahoma, where the wind comes screaming down and rips your house out of its foundation and relocates it two miles south of where it stood. Some Musical that would make—

“O, what a beautiful morning,

O what a beautiful day.

I’ve got this wonderful feeling

My neighborhood’s blowing my way….”

I shouldn’t joke—there are people in danger even now, especially in Moore. There sure are a lot of natural disasters—Volcanos erupting—Ice Caps melting—Earthquakes and Tsunamis—Tornados—Wind storms—Hurricanes and Coastal flooding—Islands being evacuated due to the rising sea-level—Droughts…and they say a big Cicada army is due this year or next.

Of course, Mom Nature has her helpers—she didn’t melt those caps and raise CO2 levels all by herself.  Our pesticides are killing the bees. Our junk is creating floating islands that choke the ocean—when the trawlers aren’t overfishing it, that is. Big Agra is trying to replace real food with mutant vegetables, irradiated seeds, and cows on steroids. The junk we inhale, ingest or drink is so full of impurities that kids are showing increased asthma and allergies. And the families living near power lines are sprouting cysts from every square inch of skin. It’s a travesty.

But none of that is important. Only money is important. It will remain the most important thing in the world until it can no longer buy what doesn’t exist—meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, potable water and breathable air.

But, as long as I’ve got your attention, check this out:

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and here’s another–I left in some of the talking at the beginning, so I called it:

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