Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Avuncular Advice

I invite you to regard this image. Evocative lighting, the plaintive voice, the guilty admission? This is just such a blinding oversimplification that it just pisses me the fuck off. (Hence the PITH helmet is today's haberdasherial choice.)

To me, the ol' semiologer, what the image just simply REEKS of is the CorpoRat-ignoring/forgiving, victim-blaming and superficial reduction of an incredibly complex phenomenon --the total almost 100-year-long program of the wholesale brainwashing of an entire populace for the purpose of taking over the direction and manipulation of their individual and collective live--and then dumping it ALL on 'the people." Nothing less!

The reactionary, reflexively defensive, hysterically fearful, deeply disturbed public mood we are experiencing is the consequence of an experiment in human emotional manipulation the likes of which had never even IMAGINED on this scale ever before in history. The German Reich gave it a try, but it didn't last long enough to have trans-generational effects. China, too, has now outlived MOST of the people who recall the time before Mao, and so will soon no longer have living witnesses to the past.

The USer effort was begun under the auspices of Woodrow Wilson who, AFTER 1916), used the new mass-media technologies to woo and threaten and cajole and bribe and bully the people INTO the war he had been re-elected IN 1916 for keeping the Country out of. Wilson more and more has come to be regarded as the prototype of "neo-liberalism." The program was directed and abetted in full consciousness by the best "Liberals" of the time--the same class that Lenin called the "vanguard intellectuals": Walter Lippmann, Ivy Lee, and of course, Freud's favorite nephew, Vienna-born and educated, Edward Bernays.

It was Bernays who, a little later would pen these immortal ords about the pewople's 'true rulers':
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. ...We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. ...In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons...who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”
― Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda (1928)
As to the contents of the guilty dad's sorrowful admission, a (and not only the only) more accurate reply would be:

Child, That's a good question, and the answer isn't as simple as some would insist. Just sit down and let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, many years ago before you were born, while your mom and I were still kids, most of the people still had steady, regulat, permanent jobs, with pensions when they retired. And the 'people' still got raises when they improved productivity. No, really.

Then around 1980, the Bosses decided unilaterally to violate the de facto bargain of the previous 50 or so years, which was to share profits from improved productivity with workers. Under the presidency of a second-rate screen-actor and spokesmodel and conservaturd sock-puppet named Reagan, and with the full cooperation and collusion of Govt. regulators, the Congress, the Fed, and the CorpoRat boardrooms, the decision was made to direct wage increases away from workers' pay-checks, and into profits where they could be split up among the Bosses, who they felt deserved them more..

Now, there was a glitch in this system, but the clever buggers soon figgered it out. The problem was that it was and still is a "consumer"-driven" economy. "Consumers" had to have money with which to consume. But without pay raises, where would the money come from? The Bosses still had to keep demand up, had to move those refrigerators, those color teevees...

And here's where they proved their true predatory genius: They took the profits they'd reaped from NOT giving wage increases, and turned them into LOANS to the people from whom the money was originally stolen ("legally," anyway), so the proles could "buy" the tchotchkes upon which the most powerful economy in the whole fucking world depended...Remember the Chimperor telling Murkins to "Go SHOPPING to erase and/or mute their fears after 9/11? He was serious. He meant it.

So, my child, in order to keep up with the CorpoRat-fueled consumptive bingeing it ceaselessly promotes and requires to maintain the family's status, as well to support the "consumer economy," I took a second job, and yer momma went to work, too. We had the house to keep up, and four cars--ours and that of your brother and you--aren't cheap, you know? Insurance for you and him is over $5000/year. And vacations. Remember DisneyWorld when you were ten?? And personal electronics? They're not cheap. Two or three hundred a month for the phones and wi-fy.

So, with one thing and another, I kinda lost track of "politics." I mean, we voted, but there wasn't time to notice what was actually happening.

So I'm sorry that I let it get away. But if you wanna help, quicher bitchin, an' go get a fucking job and start carrying your weight around here. Money doesn't fucking grow on fucking trees, you know?

Freedom ain't free, child..."

Saturday, April 21, 2012

As The Cookie Crumbles: 1962~~The End of the "Old" Normal?

Hey, hey, hippies! It's time for celebration! This year is the 50th Anniversary of 1962?

You say? What's so special about 1962?

Well, that depends. Mebbe not much, comparatively (Well, except for the Cuban Missile Crisis; Oh, and I got my drivers' license...which we'll come back to...) Mario Savio would matriculate at Berkeley that year, but the first strong whiff of the counter-cultural revolution on campuses was still a couple of years off. In '63, JFK was assassinated, in '64, the VietNam invasion began in earnest, and things seemed to trend toward more chaos from then on. In '62, we had Cronkite, and Huntley & Brinkley calmly assuring us all was well. It sure seemed "normal" at the time.

THAT'S THE POINT. Looking back these 50 years, it seems to me that '62 might well have been the LAST year which it would NOT be ironic to praise for its apparent aura "normalcy." In the foto, you see probably the most popular car of the year, a Chevy Impala, shorn of the wing-like fins of the previous three model years, looking downright demure, for all its chrome. The '62 Cadillac still had inobtrusive fins, but it was alone in the marketplace...The style was almost apologetic, after the late 50s...

Sixty-two was a bad year for flying, for some reason. I started as a REALLY bad year for flying: January, the "FLYING Wallendas" fell in a show in NYC, killing two of them; in March, there was a really bad airplane disaster in NYC when a 707 crashed on take-off, killing all 163 aboard; in May, a bomb on-board brought down a flight over Missouri, killing all 45 people aboard; another 707 disaster in Paris killed 130 of 132 people when the plane, carrying cultural ambassadors from Atlanta, overshoots the runway; then on the island of Guadeloupe, later in the same month, another Air France jet (the third 707 in as many months, and almost as many weeks) smashes into a mountainside, in bad weather, killing all 113. That marked the last airline crash of the year, luckily.
(End Jet crash image here)

(Start Marilyn Image here:

For casualties of a more personal nature, Marilyn Monroe died. So too did Ernie Kovacs, the legendary televisionary and comedian; and the gangster, Lucky Luciano checked out; the violinist, Fritz Kreisler; ground-breaking sociologist C. Wright Mills; Adolph Eichmann was executed in Israel; authjor William Faulkner and Herman Hesse, the novelist (Siddartha, Steppenwolf); e.e. cummings, the poet, and Eleanor Roosevelt; philosopher Georges Battaille; and the atomic physicist Neils Bohr...


There were winners: John Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize in Literature; Linus Pauling won the Peace Prize. The Yankees beat the San Grancisco Giants in the World Series. It was pre-Super Bowl. The Dallas Texans beat the Houston Oilers in the AFL; the Packers edged the Giants in the NFL. On March 2 , in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors scored 100 points against the New York Knicks, breaking several National Basketball Association records. Sonny Liston knocked out Floyd Patterson, setting up his epochal battle with the young Cassius Clay. Roger Ward won at Indy, and Graham Hill, in a Ferrarri, won the Formula One championship. Rod Laver won the Tennis grand slam.
(End WILT Image Here)

Begin Beattles Image Here:

But is, as I said at the beginning, also a year full of portent, too...Elsewhere on the cultural landscape, The Beatles were looming: In January, the first recording featuring the "lads" appeared: "My Bonnie," credited to "Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers" (recorded June 61 in Hamburg), was released by Polydor in the U.K. Later in the year, the band fired Georgie Best as drummer and brought in Ringo Starr. They'd release their first LP as "The Beatles" in March, '63.
Begin James Meredith Image here)

In February, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth, though he was several months behind the first Russian to do so. Both K-Mart and Wal-Mart opened their first stores: K-Mart in Garden City, MI; Wal-Mart's in Rogers, AR....James Meredith enrolled as the First Black Student ever at the University of Mississippi....Algeria concluded its ferocious fight for liberation from France...A shooting war broke out between China and India....Helen Gurley Brown published "Sex and the Single Girl"...Best Picture was "Lawrence of Arabia. The Number One Billboard hit song of the year was "Sherry" by the Four Seasons.
(End Meredith Image; Start (mute) A-bomb vid)

The most memorable and portentous evens of 1962 began in October, and seemed for a brief time to threaten the immediate extermination if not of humanity, then of major cities on several continents, in an atomic holocaust. US intelligence flights over Cuba photographed Russian missile installations in Cuba. Kennedy and Kruschev at loggerheads. But the Russkis "blinked." And MAD set in...In a sense, that was the actual HIGH point in the US/Soviet tensions of the whole era, and things reached a tenuous balance, on the very eve of world destruction. The last above-ground nuclear test was triggered in Nevada.
(End A-bomb vid)

One more thing about 1962: on November 3, 1962, the term "personal computer" appeared in print for the first time, in the NYTimes..

Oh, yeah! On this exact date, in 1962, about a gazillion miles ago, I got my driver's license and started "dating" and--tho I didn't get laid--I got to third base for the first time, too, in the front seat of the family car, a '58 Plymouth station wagon (with a two-speed, push-button automatic), at the drive-in in Espanola...with whom? You Know: A gentleman doesn't tell, hippies...

Anyway: It's the 50th anniversary of my 16th Birthday...Bring cake!...Hope I see you at the beach---

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

As the Cookie Crumbles: OWS Apologetics

Back in the '30s, Justice Louis Brandeis wrote:
"We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we cannot have both."

As Ike's MIC speech, and a couple by FDR (especially the "Second Bill of Rights" speech, among others), Brandeis was not WARNING against some possible outcome. He was, instead, reciting an eulogy, actually explaining how it had come to pass that the wealthy had usurped the democracy and turned it into their own plaything. Cuz the choice had already been made, and it was to save the plutocracy, and to hypostatize wealth.

I was reminded of Brandeis' apt and apposite observation while perusing the F-book, where I happened upon the image at the top of this column. I wanna answer it point by point, since it seems to wanna present an apologia for the Occupation against claims aboput their agenda...I have seldom read a more naive pile of Horsecrap! Bullshit! Codswallop! Horsehockey! Malarkey! or Piffle! Balderdash! this year! I wanna dispatch 'em one at a time.

First, it declares: "We're not against the rich; we're against using wealth to gain unfair advantage."

Codswallop! Of course we're opposed to great wealth, per se! The only reason or purpose of excessive wealth is to use it to corner political power. Why ELSE would you want it? And, besides: to the rich, anyway, being wealthy is not an "unfair" advantage. It's one they believe they've "earned." This is inevitable, as long as there is no limit on the amount of wealth one may amass, and no effective way to embarrass them.

Next, they say: "We're not against corporations; we're against corporations governing us."

But in ANY political economy in which CorpoRats own and operate the equipment, naturally they're going to run things. SO of COURSE we oppose rampant Corporatism: Corporations, shriven of any responsibility to anything but their bottom lines" will inevitably use their power to usurp the power of more democratic institutions, because corporations are inherently anti-democratic. They are AUTOCRATIC.

The claim is made: "We are not against banks; we are against fraudulent banking practices."

Of COURSE we're hostile to banks, per se... As CorpoRat entities, their only actual, legal responsibilities are to their STOCKHOLDERS. They MUST show a profit, by LAW. So they'll turn every possible trick, slickery, and fraud just short of extortion to pry an extra dinar from their depositors. Banks practice frauds the way dogs scratch fleas: reflexively. The only banks which MIGHT be immune are depositor-owned institutions, like credit unions.

Then we see: "We are not against investment markets; we are against fraud in those markets."

But investment markets are ALWAYS fraudulent. No "industry" which depends on "securitizing" and selling collections of what are basically markers for bets for and against average citizens paying their mortgages for its solvency, or on imaginary things like commodity "futures" can escape fraud. It's all a dream.

It says: "We're not against capitalism; we're against corruption in capitalism."

That's absurd on the face of it. Capitalism, itself, like all the institutions it spawns, is INHERENTLY and INTRINSICALLY corrupt. It depends on that which cannot be: endless growth (or the promise 0f it). It's ONLY natural end-state is monopoly, with "competition" used only for the purpose of driving OUT COMPETITORs, after which the State is employed to preserve the monopolists..

And democracy inside such an array of corruption institutions is impossible, because the "representatives" will ALWAYS, ALREADY be available to be bought, on one pretext or another.

There is NOTHING in the economic "order" of the USfoA which is designed, built, intended or structured to actually ADVANCE the interests of the average person. Nothing; though there are parts of it which, through accident or inadvertence, do not directly fuck us up. And it's past time to forego the illusiuon that there is.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

WWH Soap Box: Education Is Made, Not Acquired

In which Y'r F'th'f''l R'p't'r ex-plains the differences between "education" as a commodity and "education" as an act.
Hola, Fellow Hippies of the planetary sphere. My name's John Konopak, (aka "Dr. Woody" and other things in other places at other times, too); I am a citizen journalist living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Today I'm clambering up the Symbolic Soap-box on a matter of importance regarding RE-developing--rehabilitating, even--a practical definition of (that is to say, how we may better understand of "education."

What got me thinking about this again was: The other week, a group of students in Detroit, as I recall, went out on a demonstration protesting, in the language of the press reports of the event, that they weren't "getting" a good education.

The probably objective truth of, and my sympathy for, their sentiment was obscured by the trope by which their complaint was framed, by both the aggrieved kids and the press. The whole process we call 'education' took a wrong turn when it became something one "gets"--unless it's the way one "gets" a joke--and I don't think it is.

This is an example of the importance of what George Lakoff refers to "framing" an issue. I detest the idea, now the dominant "frame" around the subject, that anyone--any student or child--"gets" an education.

That's not how it works. You don't "get" an education . You don't just pick "education" up from school like acquiring a loaf of bread, a half-rack of beer, and a pack of condoms at the stop-n-shop. Becoming educated means becoming fluent in the understanding, interpretation, and even the creation, sometimes, of knowledge in some sphere of human endeavor.

I used to hear the similar complaints when I taught undergraduates. What those students had not learned was that, unlike "schools" they were used to, the University is a place where knowledge is "made." They use other words for it, like "discovery," and "invention," and "proof," but it's all about making new "knowledge."

People working in colleges and universities aren't there primarily to teach. That's a relatively recent development: 100-150 years or so. They're there to make and test new knowledge.

One goes to "college" or University to learn how to make new knowledge in whatever discipline to which you attach yourself. They don't call them "disciplines" for the fun of it, y'know? The rules vary, but there are ALWAYS overarching principles which one must learn and master, even if it is only to deconstruct them, later. The underlying principle of a "college education" is that a trained mind is of use no matter the task it's set.

So you/we go to University (college) to train y/our minds in 'handling' with the materials of thought, those things of which "knowledge" is made: words, and discourses, and formulae, and theories, and taxonomies, and other texts. Frank Smith, an eclectic education scholar in the 80s/90s wrote a book in which he listed all of the nearly 100 English words that are cognates of "to think," one way or another: Ponder, cogitate, ruminate, cerebrate, evaluate, consider, judge, contemplate...I could go on and on...

In "higher education," the point is to get your hands dirty in that sloppuy, messy, ideational goop, like wood-chips from a plane, sparks from a torch. Ya get 'em ON ya, get 'em All OVER ya! In yer hair and under yer nails, and in yer clothes, and mainly in yer head... You handle the material.

And in the company of masters, by watching them, you then begin to learn to make your own tools with which to manipulate your material, to shape it and form it and use it in new ways.

And THAT is an Education. And you didn't "get" it like a tube of mascara or a new pair of jeans. It wasn't passed to you over a counter. You built it. Made it. It bears YOUR stamp. They're YOUR tools. You made them and you can use them.

To what ends anyone eventually applies those tools is pretty much luck, but if you did "your education" right, you'll be ready for a lot of different challenges, a veritable, and infinitely tempting plethora of possible paths and pursuits.

Just look at me, the very picture of success, down here at the beach, hippies.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Woody's Fascinating Factoid, #6: "Fiasco" Ain't Nothing But A Bottle

In which Y'r Ob'd't S'v't tracks the progress of the word "fiasco" from its origins in the medieval, glass-blowers art to its current meaning: an utter, total, humiliating failure.

In English the word "fiasco" means an absolute, abject or utterly humiliating failure.

The financial/housing/credit meltdown in 2007-09 could be understood in such a term. The BP/Macondo well oil catastrophe of 2010 comes to mind for another example. And of course the whole Bushevik "reply" to the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans is a classic of the kind. Tipping over that cruise ship recently, in plain sight of the harbor mouth would be another obvious example.

In the original Italian, 'fiasco' means "flask."

So, you might inquire, how did the Italian word for "little bottle" come to signify a complete and utter disaster?

The answer is Dr. Woody's Fascinating Factoid #6. It's like this.

It goes to the glass-blower's art, which is as delicate and fragile as the material itself.

Glass blowing is a delicate, exacting, unforgiving art, and it was practiced at somewhere approaching its highest form in Renaissance Italy. It requires dexterity, technique, experience, knowledge, patience, courage, and no small amount of luck to tease out of base silicates the intricate designs, radiant colors, and expressive shapes which skilled artisans can craft in the searing flames of their kilns.

And as happens fairly regularly in such a delicate and sensitive enterprises as glass blowing, accidents happen.

And when they did, and the other artisans in the guild witnessed this sad event, they'd holler and tease the unfortunate glassblower about it.

And the fellow whose 'bubble' burst, so to speak, to camouflage his own disappointment and the disgrace of the failed work would reply to the taunts that, in effect, the broken or failed piece was nothing important, but was only a "fiasco," a little bottle of no importance.

Apropos of nothing, really: I have a sterling "flask" in which I used once upon a time to transport whiskey when I was going out drinking on the cheap. Even cheap whiskey tastes okay when it's pouring out of a sterling silver flask, hippies... we can try it when I see you at the beach.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hippie News & Stuff: "Race" Riots

In light of the threats and charges, and counter-threats and counter-charges circulating in the tumultuous wake of the shooting death in February of Trayvon Martin, a young black man who appears to have been ambushed and assassinated by a "neighborhood watch" fanatic in a community in Sanford, Florida, the ugly rhetoric of "race riot" is again ricocheting around.

White-supremacists are conspicuously puffing themselves up to "defend" themselves (and "all white people") from hotly imagined (and not-so-secretly anticipated) assaults by marauding squadrons of black, urban gangstas who, they believe, will be prowling white neighborhoods seeking to extract revenge for Trayvon's murder.

I think that, when nowadays, folks hear and/or bandy about the term "race riots," the first image many people would evoke would be something from the inflammations of the ghettos and inner cities of the 1960s and '70s; or possibly, more recently, the violent outbreaks after the Rodney King incident in Los Angeles, and the lenient treatment of his accused abusers in the police.

But in the harsh realities of history, the truth of the matter is and has always been that, based on the numbers and the violence of the incidents, the vast, really overwhelming majority of racial violence on these shores has been perpetrated by people who said and thought they were "white" against others. During the 19the and early 20th centuries, blacks were the most likely group most likely to be lynched, but Italians were the SECOND most likely.

Still, organized, often state-supported violence against black people is the most common. From Thibodeaux, LA (1887), to Atlanta, Ga (1906), to East St. Louis, Il (1917), Chicago, Il, and Omaha, Neb (1919), to Greenwood, OK, 1921) to Rosewood, Fl, to others too numerous to catalogue here, White mobs descended upon either small groups, and even individuals, as well as whole blak communities, and systematically destroyed them. In Greenwood, OK, the "Black Wall Street" until 1921, the Governor ordered out aircraft to strafe the fire-gutted ruins.

Susan Faludi, a very smart lady, and author of numerous, provocative and thoughtful books, argues that--to the extent that such a thing actually exists (and our stereotypes suggest it does)--the historico-psychological profile of the "dominant" class male in this country includes a deep and abiding fear of two things: slave revoilt and indian raid. They could defend the shores, but were vulnerable from within. In the belligerence of the 'supremacists,' we may hear the echoes of those fears.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Citizen's Dispatch: "War on Women"? Really?

In which Y'r Ob'd't S'v't essay to unpack the deep significance of the apparently suicidal plunge by the GOPhux into Gender warfare.

In The Nation/blog, the other day, one could detect a hint of bewilderment as well as braggadocio (or it's 'feminine' cognate) in a piece which asks, almost incredulously, "Do the Republicans Think They Can Win Without Women?" It's by Carol Gilligan, a renowned feminist on the public and academic stages. She semi-smugly declares: "If they believe that in exercising control over women's reproductive functions, they will also control women's voices, they are wrong."

Well, of COURSE they're wrong. Duh! Doncha get it? They're COUNTING on being wrong. They're eager to drive women away. And Latinos, Blacks, and sane people.

The purpose of this campaign for the GOP is "pragmatically" ideological and monetary. It isn't to win the WhiteHouse. What they really want is to take the Senate and to hold the House. This is a table-setter, prep for two and four-years hence. Under its guise, the fuckloon Rightards blanket the land in overlapping layers of malodorous, feculent GOPhux bullshit; plus campaigning provides very accessible ways to financially reward loyal sponsors and adjuncts from the spoils of the campaign war-chests. It spreads the wealth, buys loyalty for the future. .

I cannot escape the almost fell certainty that the GOPhux' top owner/managers don't want to win, NOT this time... Just as in 2008, they didn't want it, at all. Too much baggage! By 2008, even WHITE people were disgusted with Bush-Cheney. The economy was dissolving before their eyes, on account of their policies. Unemployment was rampant, and getting worse. Health care costs were out of control. The real-estate bubble had burst, and was having a reaction in all its peripheral markets. People were losing their homes. Ruin was EVERYWHERE!

Worse, the USofA, which had long nourished its exceptionality with its increasingly delusional image by being the beacon to the world's oppressed peoples, had become an international pariah state, guilty of inflicting countless, cruel, undeserved casualties, death, and mayhem on nations and peoples which were not guilty of anything but of being unable to defend themselves against us.

That was then. It was too toxic. So they dropped Sarah Palin onto McCain's ticket and watched as it fluttered gaily out to sea and sank into the storms of economic collapse...

This is NOW, and if ANY of the clown-car leads the ticket, it's tantamount ot the same thing as the Palin nomination--other than RMoney, and his Mormonism will block his aspirations. The Owners/Oners still don't want even any NOMINAL responsibility. Not for the past, this time, but for what's gonna happen--for the NEXT four years, when the REAL "austerity program" sets in.

What? You thought it already HAD? Aren't you cute!

Bbbbbbaby, you ain't seen nuthin yet...The Dims and AFBP will officially preside over that capitalistic miracle. "New jobs" will pay pay scant and have crap benefits. So even if the "numbers" go up, quality of life won't. Can't.

And even at that, of the people who were dis-employed by the Bosses in the Great Recession--STILL more than 13 MILLION of them-- only a small fraction of them will EVER recover the same standard of living they once enjoyed--FYI, here in the US, depending on your age, only between one in five, if you're "older," and one in three, for "younger" workers.

Would you like fries with that McChemical, ma'am?

HOWEVER: the market is making money. The Dow was recently above 13 THOUSAND for the first time in several years. And the banks are awash in cash. The members of the interlocking directorates of ALL the nation and the WORLD's largest and wealthiest corporations are extremely pleased that Tiger Woods seems to be making a comeback, and re-invigorating the game. And there are at least TWO, new-generation derivative-style bubbles being grown even as we speak, to extract the next trillion or so from our collective pockets.

Verily, with St. Barry, the Spelunker, in charge, the duopoly is safely, immovably ensconced. The GOP will move back into Oval Office in 2016, when the Dims and AFBP have collared all the blame and obloquy for the "decline of the Empire,"...They'll then rally the troops with stertorous cries to restore THE USOFA to our former GLO-RAY!, and push BACK the barbarians clamoring at the gates. You want security, you shall have SE-CUR-I-TAY!

As long as the white majority survives, that "RECLAIM AMERICA'S PLACE rhetoric will keep 'em in power. They'll grow more and more indistinguishable totalitarian regimes of the past.

I doubt you or I will out-live it, though, hippies.

No matter how preservative is life down here at the beach...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

As The Cookie Crumbles: Losing Is Winning...

In which Y'r Ob'd't S'v't explores the reality and the rhetoric of those who proclaim that the defeat of Obama/Romney/Heritage/Nixon-care will pave the way for the "inevitable" emergence of "singlepayer" health care in the USofA, and finds it "unpersuasive."

Comes another somebody in the lefty-blogosphere (TalkingPointsMemo) protesting that defeating "Obama/Romney/Heritage-care" will be a Pyrrhic victory for the GOPhux, a "Short-term success but long-term disaster!"

Statements like that make my asshole tighten with trepidation. Can he be serious?

Jeezus KEERYST! I mean! REALLY??!!

This is the United fucking States of A..merica....for the love of crap...Nothing is "permanent," and next to nothing is ever "long-term" (except mortgages...)

Not investment, not jobs, not marriage, not NOTHING! "Eat, drink, and be merry"--that from Ecclesiastes--"for tomorrow, we die" (Isaiah)...Should be on the currency!

Every social instrument is set to ensure that NOTHING is likely to be remembered very long. If there were long-term consequences, in USer politis, would Neut Gingrich dare to pose as a serious candidate?

I mean, this is the Land of the Quarterly fucking REPORT! We INVENTED the fucking thing. Our entire fucking economy HANGS on quarterly reports. The wealth of the Zillionaires depends on quarterly reports!

One FOURTH of a YEAR. Ninety fucking days, more or less.

The GOPhux are the "party" of the bottom line. There is no morality but profit; and loss is the ONLY sin.

So, answer me! Why the FUCK does anybody think the GOPhux will shrink from destroying what's left of the social safety net? They've been gunn8ng for it since about 1933. What fucking EVIDENCE is there? What sort of daft, delusional drivel? The catastrophic collapse of any vestige of the social safety net is NOT bad for them.

Unlike YOU, THey don't need it.

When has the "common good" ONCE been served by these fuckwhistles in the last 30 fucking years?

What you don't seem yet to have actually inhabited, like a suit, or a new car, most--a LOT anyway--of y'all, izzat that the Owners/Oners WANT your lives to collapse into turmoil, pain, loss and despair, cuz that where the real money is.
That's why we have recessions.

No, really.

Every dozen or so years, the real owners of all the shit you have decide it's time to call in all their markers. They decide the time is right, and they just take back what you thought YOU owned...but never did, cuz it was collateral on the MONEY you borrowed to get whatever the fuck it was.

They then reclaim what they'e basically leased to you at pennies on the dollar, and if you ever scramble out again, they'll "sell" (LEASE!) it back to you, taking your money TWICE!

You can watch a video of this column on my Anosognosia blog.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Hippie News & Stuff: Beaten, but Unbrowed

In Which Y'r Ob'd't S'v't observes that, while the rightard/fuckloons have indeed led the country down the "primrose path" toward rankest, loathsome authoritarianism (at best!), they had plenty of assistance, encouragement and eager compliance from folks to whom you, hippies, are probably related.

Katrina van den Heuvel, in a WaPo column I the other day, heaped scorn and obloquy on "the right wing" for "browbeating their fellow citizens" into submission with their "scorched womb/school/union/senoirs/health (etc) policies" (my phrase) camouflaging their odious, militantly anti-social/anti-democratic (small d) agenda as an almost sacred crusade "battling" against the "moral crises" of gay marriage, social safety nets, contraception, green energy and organized labor.

Quoth the outraged Katrina: "The real crisis of public morality in the United States doesn’t lie in the private decisions Americans make in their lives or their bedrooms; it lies at the heart of an ideology — and a set of policies — that the right-wing has used to batter and browbeat their fellow Americans."

C'mon. Puh-LEEEEZ!@ I mean, I buy the indictment, but, really:

The thug/gunsel wing of the GOP didn't have to browbeat everybody.

They had PLENTY of willing acolytes, lusty volunteers, enthusiastic foot-soldiers and spear-carriers. You're probably related to a few:

All those Reagan Dims, among others.

And what about the "religious" rightloons, theocrats, and Cristards?

And the growing legions of anti-science homeschoolers, eager to eliminate the secular influences of public school?

And the welfare/immigrant/colored-people haters.

Take all the groups to whom the thugs like "Widow's Peak" Ryan, Orange Boner, Sen. Yertle, and Eric "The Man With The Six-Pack Jaw" Cantor have drawn from for their constituencies, and add to that the Limbaugh ditto-heads, and they started with fair plurality of ready allies.

Not to say that the "morality" of the bottom line is not, prima facie, itself immoral, or that those who cleave to it aren't psychopathic narcissists who should be shunned by decent folks and sent to isolated, primitive islands; but to claim they "forced" their toxic ideology upon us is a bit of an exaggeration. Many swilled the kool-aid.

Even with the calamities of the last Congress, close to HALF of the people, probably, STILL approve of the frontal assaults on the safety nets as long as it's sold as making lazy loafers go back to work, or denying "privileges" to the undeserving; MOST, most likely, if they thought that the people whom they detested as inferiors were suffering more than they as a result.

I fear this is stupid of the sort even the Ocean can cleanse. We can try, when I see you at the beach, chers...PAZ!

Back to your good self, Winstone, and the wonders of Hippie Central!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Citizen Dispatch: God & Mammon -- A Conflict of Interest?

If you're a 'minister', or a 'priest," and you win election to a law-making body, who do you serve? The "People," and the Constitution, as you are sworn by oath and affirmation to do. Or does you loyalty to your faith, and your "God" take precedence?

Case in point: Kansas State Legislator Pete DeGraaf? Along with being a first-term Kansas legislator, he's ALSO an associate pastor of some god-walloping, bible-smacking, theistic funny-farm out on the endless, tornado-ravaged plains. He recently got himself installed in Topeka, whence he has been a reliable source of the kind of bullshit that gives 'religious' legislators a bad name by the simple expedient of opening their mouths and flapping their tongues.

Item: The other week, in the midst of the hype and hoopla hysteria surrounding the newly re-activated, hot-button issues like contraception and abortion, and the (entirely valid, imho) comparison of the transvaginal sonogram probe with rape, State Rep. DeGraaf joined the debate over banning health insurance coverage for abortions of rape pregnancies, saying flippantly, in effect, that no such procedure should be included because bearing the child of a rapist might be inconvenient to the mother, but no worse than a flat-tire...No, really. He said it. There's a link on my blog.

It's the cavalier attitude, the almost disdainful disregard, verging on contempt, for what must be a horrible and horrifying event crystalized something for me, why and how deeply I truly, truly, deeply, and wholly detest these pious mountebanks.. They make my skin crawl.

What I see in this christarded, god-bothered, bible-babbling wackloon crackkker, DeGraff, is the STRONGEST POSSIBLE argument imaginable as to why preachers shouldn't be elected to representative office (pace, Berrigan freres).

Like all other elected officials of the "several States" take an oath to faithfully uphold the Constitution. But their behavior often seems to me to suggest that they swear--with reservations. They appear to me to invoke 'faith' as excuse for betraying the laws, and institutions they swore, when elected, to uphold. Who was it noted, they place their hands on the "Bible" and swear to uphold the Constitution, not the other way round?

The most irritating thing is that these miserable miscreants and charlatans fucking ADMIT their competing loyalties. Most of them proudly fucking DECLARE, that their FIRST fucking loyalty is to their fucking GOD. Not to their District they represent, not to the Constitution, fer fucks' sake, not to their consituents, nor to the State to the governance of which they pretend to want to contribute.

You would think that some vestigial sense of integrity would hint to them that, by seeking and accepting public office, their first duty would be to the PEOPLE an their institutions. But for fucknozzles like this asslicking shitwheel, their ELECTED office is not, and never will be, their highest, dominant concern. IT is NOT their FIRST loyalty. Their "faith" is. Their fucking GOD is. And that just ain't right.!

And, for me, that disqualifies the fuckers from EVER representing ME...And that includes the likes of BISHOP/ELDER Willard "Mittens" Romney. Whose side is he on? Mine? Ours? of some imaginary "God's?" To me, they're not interchangeable.

Time was, if you were talking to "God" and happened to be pushing a shopping cart down the street in MANY cities, it 'd getcha 3 hots and a squat, a shower and someplace to refresh your meds, while they deloused ya.

Nowadays, talking to God gets you a parish, and a seat in some corn-pone legislature, and mazbe even a place in the presidential debates. If they ARE talking to "god," it sher hasn't improved the quality of the discourse.

We can swap horror stories about wackloon relatives when I see you at the beach, hippies...

Dr. Woody's Fabulous, Fascinating Factoid, #4: Gladiators Died Hard.

Because I still vividly recall the epic 1960 film, starring Kirk Douglas, Olivier and the LUSCIOUS Jean Simmons (screenplay by Dalton Trumbo, for all you buffs),the recent televised emergence--or possibly the re-emergence--of the "Spartacus phenomenon" has a couple of dimensions which are interesting, to the semiotician in me.

First, there's the revolutionary spirit-thing: Spartacus, the historical person, was a gladiator who did lead a doomed, but for a time successful slave-revolt, in the army of which were MANY other former gladiators.

When finally conquered, the defeated slaves were ordered by the Romans to turn over their leader. But, instead, the story goes, they all rose, to a man, and proclaimed themselves to be "Spartacus." There is an obvious appeal to such a figure, such a story in such times as ours. They were ALL crucified by the Romans for their troubles, every 10 yards, for a couple of miles along the Via Appia, on the way back to Rome, iirc.

But their ultimate, grisly fates notwithstanding, the refrain "We Are ALL Spartacus" resonates with certain features of the Occupy movement, because we are, actually, after all, ALL Occupiers.

Then there's the homo-erotic-stimulation-thing...Peter Graves' duet with Kareem in the cockpit scene in "Airplane" was funny, because it struck, smote, clattered a familiar meme.

Plus, since it's on cable, you get plenty of "hetero" tits and ass, too. Gasping, heaving, sensual nudity has been a staple in "classical" stories on cable since the beginning of the medium.and they have returned to these pleasant waters with a certain verve...

And there's the war-pron-thing.

Computerized graphics makes it possible to animate the imagined consequences of fierce blows struck with sharp blades and other implements with unprecedented, in-the-moment detail. Hey, boys! Just in time for next X-mas: Spartacus "action" figures! They don't just bleed, THEY SPURT! THEY GUSH! THEY SPEW BLOOD!

On the reality side, it appears, from evidence exhumed from several old Roman grave-sites for deceased gladiators uncovered in recent years, the most common, death-dealing wound with which failed combatants were dispatched was a single, violent plunge of the "gladius" (the short, straight sword for which the gladiators are named) directly down the throat of the conquered opponent.

This suggests to me that the vanquished fighters were expected to submit to their conquerors, and not to merely fall to them. A last, fatal humiliation.

I think it must be an extraordinarily unpleasant way to die.