Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fabulous Factoid, #8: You Might Be a Liberal...

In which Y't O'b'd't S'v't describes some of the more prominent clinical symptoms attributed, not to mere "liberals," but to "GODDAM LIBRULS!"
Ever since Jeff Foxworthy made a gazillion dollars reminding folks of the circumstances of redneckhood, there's been an irresistible urge for other groups to play with a similar meme. The other day on Fbook, the 'leftish blog' "Addicting Info" indulged itself, with a list that indicated YOU might be a librul if, and included 33 indices, including:
1. You can discern the geographic distance between Kenya and Hawaii.
2. Bernie Sanders is one of your favorite senators.
3. You’re seriously considering dropping Verizon and switching to Credo Mobile.
4. You get much of your news from Rachel Maddow, Bill Maher and/or Jon Stewart.
and 5: You’re in favor of tax increases to support the common good even if you have to pay more yourself.
They invited additions, and here's a few I came up with:

If you think and say that indoctrinating children to fear "god" while they still believe in Santa and the Tooth Fairy is psychological child abuse...

If you use recycled totes when make your groceries...

If you think sex is just sex, and all the rest is adjectives...

If you believe the 2nd Amendment entitles everyone to have a flint-lock musket, stored in a common armory with the powder and shot...

If you understand the principle of "habeas corpus" and hold its extinguishment to be the equivalent of a a capital crime (if you believed in capital punishment, which you don't)...

If you think indiscriminately slaughtering civilians in counter-insurgencies half-a-world away is repugnant and immoral, no matter WHICH "party" is doing it...

If you think "press concentration" was and is the death-knell of an informed electorate...

If you think Ronald Reagan was the indisputably WORST president in history...

If you have ever even heard of the Precautionary Principle or the Powell Memorandum...

If you've shut off the ignition at a long stop-light...

If you've given money to a beggar, and don't care if they drink it...and finally:

If you inhaled, exhaled, and inhaled and held it...

See ya at the beach, hippies; now back to my man Winstone & Hippie Central

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Captive press.

Hippie News & Stuff: The Captive Press--In which Y'r M'd'st H'st'r'n describes the process of corpoRat "media consolidation" as it unfolded in the '80s and later, as analogous to the practice of insurrectionists and revolutionaries the world over of seizing the radio stations
This poster quoting America's most revolutionary poet got me thinking:
We are all familiar with the banana republic revolutionary narrative: Bands of insurgents in the hills finally think they have softened up the present gummint enough that all it will trake is a good push to bring 'em down. And so they stream down from the hills, and they invade the cities and do yuou know the VERY FIRST THINGS they take over? Even before the armories and police stations?

They take over the media.They seize the radio and tv stations, they occupy the broadcast towers. 

They knowq they MUST control the media! It is vital. Without media control, message control, their enterprise is lost. You don't NEED to try to control what people think when you control what they are thinking and talking about. So they seize the stations; usually they close the papers which oppose 'em, too.

The same sorta thinki happened here, though we didn't "see" it happening. But a very similar thing occurred right here in the good, old, democratic republic of AMURKA! Especially Raygun's election, and thence proceeding unimpeded to the present moment. The coup plotters--the Coors and the Kochs, and the Hunts and the Olins the Murdochs and the myriad other, scurvy, scurrying lesser parasites did  it here, too. They reached out from their corpoRat boardrooms and they effectively silenced to opposition. Back in the '80s, but they called it something respectably commercial, normal, rational, capitalistic: They called it "Media Consolidation."

Call it whatever the fuck you wanna, the consequence is the same: the USer media are (permanently) in the hands of the corpoRat coup d'etat...

So, truth be told, and in a moment of rare disagreement with the estimable Robert Parry,who recently reproved the "press" for "losing its way." He knows, too: the "Press" didn't "lose its way." Parry seems to make the same mistake that a lot of other folks do: he persists in regarding "the Press" as if it were somehow still this independent, civic force, instead of the slave and vassal of the commercial/corpoRat interests which own and direct its everyu syllable.... 

The "Press" is not now, and has not been "independent" for close to 30 years. It was SOLD, out-right, to the Capitalists during the '80s, in that process known admiringly in bidness circles as "consolidation."

See, e.g., Ben Bagdikian: in 1980, 50 corporations owned and operated more than 80 percent of ALL USer media "outlets." 

Today the number of controlling corpoRats is down to SIX--Disney, GENERAL ELECTRIC, the filthy fucking criminal Murdoch's NewsCorps, Viacom, Time-Warner and CBS--, and the percentage of properties they own/controll is over NINETY FUCKING PERCENT. The media, the images of culture, our whole fucking interpretive apparati of the peoples' self-constitution are OWNED by criminal conspirators dedicated to enslaving them.

It is utterly idiotic to believe that press "properties" owned outright by the biggest, wealthiest, most powerful corpoRat interests in the fucking WORLD will engage in any reporting that casts their owners in a bad or unfavorable, or critical light. 

And, absent a Constitutional Amendment (yet ANOTHER one doomed to fail, just like the ERA, and repeals of Citizens United, or ANY legislative effort to reduce the power of great wealth in the government), any law putting restrictions on the amount of private property that may be acquired, whether tanning salons or the number of media properties which may be owned by one interest, IT WILL NEVER AGAIN BE ANY DIFFERENT! 

It is well, then, to remember the trenchant advice of one the most percipient media critics of his or any age, A.J. Liebling, who observed:
Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.

The Owners don't need the reminder...Ginsberg of course reminds us in  turn of Orwell's chilling prescience: Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

As The Cookie Crumbles: Ex-Patriotism

In which Y'r D'd'c't'd D'b'nk'r examines the claim that, though he renounced his US citizenship, Eduardo Saverin--Facebook billionaire and tax dodger-- should enjoy the rights of any other international citizen to return on a valid passport; to which I reply: Bullshit, fucknozzle! Yer OUTTA here!
There is a certain, cold-hearted, pragmatic logic to the position taken by Facebook co-founder Eduadro Saverin (left) and defended by Grover Norquist, among others, on the matter of renouncing his US citizenship to escape taxes on his stock-sale windfall. Some Senators are wankjing off about legislation, but it's too late to touch Eduardo, expostfacto being what it is, still.

SO Saverin is one of the big winners in the Facebook IPO, collecting several billion dollars of "net worth" from the stock sale. 

It's "bankers' logic," elegant in the ruthless way of the pure, profit-driven capitalist: In a "global" economic and political world, any "citizenship" confers the same relevant "rights"--passport, property, protection-- if you are wealthy enough to claim them, and he will be. You wanna know what "Going Galt" would look like? Watch Saverin. It's the apotheosis of that kind of "libertarianism."

It's worth a LOT of money to him.

How much? About $67 million, according to an NPR story last week.

Put another way: That's just under a million hours of minimum-wage labor. Round up, and divide: Twenty-five thousand minimum-wage work weeks. Five hundred years of labor. That's the equivalent of what he's "getting away with."

Says he WANTS to be Singaporean. Just like all the old, ex-Marines wanna go back to Okinawa...

Now, call me a statist, or what you will,  say I'm old-fashioned,  and/or over-ther-hill...It's his money

But I think syllogistically, a different kind of logic:

My syllogism reads as follows: IF a citizen renounces citizenship, and thus escapes certain taxes--whether they "wanted to" do so or not--and thereby deprives the entire collective, the renounced country, of its share of the fortune which that country's very existence made available and possible for that person to secure,...

THEN the country and its citizens are WELL within their rights to declare that sonovabitch 'persona non grata,' and ban him from the soil, in perpetuity, on pain of immediate apprehension and imprisonment.

 In short, you smirking little shitheel: Don' let the door hitchya in the ass; and NEVER darken it again...

That's how it looks from down here at the beach, hippies...If you agree or not, lemme know...PAZ!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dr. Woody's Fabulous, Fascinating Factoid: Marriage

There has been a lot of noise out there in the mediated realities, lately, about marriage.
First, the vote in North Carolina to enshrine homophobic bigotry in the State's Constitution succeeded,
and then, in what might generously be seen as a "rebuke" to that act of incredible public hubris, there was the announcement of the President of the reversal of his previous opposition to and his "acceptance" of a right to same-sex marriage.
 (Parenthetically, it would probably be thought ungenerous of me to ask, but generally, why as he was announcing his own epiphany, he didn't also announce that he, as the head of his party, had formally requested Sen. Reid and Congresscritter Pelosi to immediately introduce legislation which would overturn DOMA and rescind any and all discriminatory LGBT_exclusionary federal rules...but perhaps I quibble... )

In any case, since the subject's come up:, and since my own marital status is changing pretty soon, here's the gen on Marriage:

 Marriage as an institution for any but the aristocracy and gentry did not become common until about the middle of the 18th century, as the peasantry slowly receded and the middle class slowly began to emerge.

Prior to the middle of the 16th Century, couples just sort of "joined up." There were no ceremonies, and no ratification. It was done by mutual pledge, called the "verbum."

 Mostly, prior to that time, when actual "marriages" were made and publically recognized, it was done as an instrument of financial or political power arrangements among monarchs, and other feudal rulers, and was meant usually to cement familial relations between possible or former territorial competitors and/or rivals. When Henry VIII wed Katherine of Aragon, England married Spain. Henry abandoned Katherine, and a couple of decades later, Spain sent the Armada to pick up the dowry. It didn't work out that way, but still...

 The point being: Marriage, being a contract before the State, was a means of ensuring the proper distribution of property. Since, before the mid-18th Century, most people didn't have a pot to shit in, there was no reason for documented or recorded marriages among the commoners...

 Only when the "people" started having "property" (mainly as a consequence of the industrial revolution), and that property needed vouchsafing into the "proper," legitimate hands did the common man and woman start to actually formalize their arrangements, and record them with the Church. Previously, common-law and cohabitation were the norm, and sur-names were accorded on the basis of the father's trade.

 Back in the old country/language, my 'family' name probably meant "Hempster," or something like it, because the surname is a local (Eastern European) cognate of the generic term of ancient lineage, 'cannabis.'

So for now, this is Dr. Woody Hempster, saying Smoke 'em if ya gott'em, hippies...See ya at the beach.

The God-Damned Government

From HIGH atop the Anti-Corporate Soap-Box, amid the scents and the shrubbery-enshrouded and flower-bedecked wonders of the botanical garden of World-Wide Hippies, INC, somewhere in Up-state New York, I am John Konopak-- citizen journalist in Albuquerque, NM--and I wanna address "the God-damned Gummint!"

A prediction: Willard RMoney's weird religion is going to work against him in the election this fall.

And, heretical though this may sound, IMHO it damn well SHOULD!

I, for one, do NOT think that if someone has publically avowed "religious beliefs," it is wrong or improper to "hold those against them," in electoral politics, that is, to interrogate them about the possible consequences of those beliefs if:
1) They're running for any public OFFICE from which they'll exercise power, dispense justice, or create policy applicable to the general populous., and
2) Those convictions seem evidently loony and irrational, and/or exclude or discriminate against non-cult members.
It's not just Mormons. I think anyone who so much as mentions faith or belief in "gods" or other mythic creatures as among their "qualifications" for office is, prima facie, unqualified to lead, and should be automatically disqualified from leading, a sane, reality-based, secular state.

Further, as the matter is on the table, I strongly object to nominating, much less electing, a member of the Mormon--or ANY--clerical hierarchy to positions of secular authority, simply on the face of it.You wouldn't vote for some Catholic "Cardinal" to be the country's chief executive, would you?  No, you wouldn't, because you'd (justifiedly) question their loyalties. Any candidate for office in the secular state who even implies their "FIRST" responsibility or their "highest loyalty" is to some amorphous, evanescent, imaginary "God" would seem to have DISQUALIFIED themselves from consideration. It's a clear conflict of interest.  It's "god OR country." They're not remotely alike.

I know that in the bad old days, JFK got crap for being a Catholic. He was merely a member of the Catholic "laity." He was baptized, confessed, and confirmed. BUT he never held a post in the Church higher than "altar-boy." He was never an intimate at the Vatican, the way that RMoney is an "initiate" in the mysteries of Moroni and the sanctum "Santorum" (that's what I said)  in Salt Lake City...So, how is is that Bishop/Elder Romney gets a free pass on the matter of his power and position  in his so-called church?

Let's remember: (and dare I say, "Unlike sexuality,") Religion IS a choice. People are ALL born "non-believers." They choose to be Catholic, or Mormon, or Jain, or whatever...They learn their superstitions. Later, perhaps, they ratify or abandon them, but they choose.

If you choose to believe in a returning, immortal crucified redeemer, or in shiny, blue Sparkle-ponies which descend from "heaven" to escort the "saints" to their "eternal home" in "the sky"--or that your Prophet read the words of an angel named Moroni inscribed on golden dinner plates from the planet Kolob--that's a conscious choice. NOBODY FORCES ANYBODY TO BELIEVE THAT.

Unless all the religious folks in the world are lying all the time and their faith does NOT have ANY impact on their behavior and conduct, if they say their faith WON'T influence their decisions, why mention it? If they say it will, they've got ulterior motives, so why vote for 'em?

A Note here: That the ancient Hebrew authors of the Abrahamic texts place "Jhwh"'s home in "Heaven" is NOT a significant variation on putting that home on the planet Kolob. All it signifies, frankly, is that the ancient Hebrews didn't have the word for "planet."

To me, the point is that if, upon reflection and confronted with contrary facts, someone who seeks to exercise national executive power refuses to admit that they are ruled by delusional superstitions (which are too fucking STOOOOPIT to repeat in public), THIS militates HEAVILY against  their competence to lead ANYTHING other than a fucking Sunday School choir, much less the (still most powerful) nation on the "planet!"

Or izzat just me?

You tell me, hippies...Paz!@

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Upon A Certain Day In May

In which Y'r Int'r'g'l'ct'c Ethn'gr'ph'r interprets the recurrence of the mostly hollow genuflections toward the never-resolved events of that day and that week; time will tell, it seems that week was a pivotal one in the counter-cultural movement. I should note that about a dozen students were injured that morning at UNM, most with bayonets; no Guardsmen reported any injuries. Besides, Haymarket is just sooooo Gilded Age. nest paw?

Last Friday was the anniversary of that bloody day in 1970 when the Ohio National guard opened fire on a gathering of protesting students at a small, obsure state school in Ohio called Kent State University, killing four and wounding a half-dozen more, with random fire from more than 100 yards from the demonstrations. The Guardsmen were NEVER under ANY direct, imminent threat of danger to justify opening fire. No one got close enough. No one was ever punished or even held accountable for the murders at Kent State that day.

(On Friday, May 8, 1970, just four days after the bloody events at Kent State University, and with the campuses of America often literally aflame with turmoil for which they were ill-prepared understand, much less quell, the New Mexico National Guard retook the UNM Campus from the hippies.)

In Albuquerque, at UNM, the warm, spring weather, the impending end of school, and the deadly events of the previous week had stoked temperatures to a feverish fervor.  UNM already was an 'activist' campus: students had occupied both the President's office and the Student Union Building. Really "Occpied 'em." Took 'em the fuck over. Moved in. Lived and slept (etc., as you may imagine at leisure) in 'em.
Meanwhile, all spring long the he local, pro-war/anti-hippie, daily rag which had been fulminating against the campus radicals. They raised the stakes, demanding the city or the State 'restore order' on campus. A big demonstration against the war, and in solidarity with the dead kids at Kent State was announced for Friday, the Eighth.

That day, coincidentally of course, the Governor and the Lt. Gov. were BOTH out of State, and the NEXT in the chain of command, a little, power-mad, martinette who ran the State Police--5'5" or so with a complex about it--called out the National Guard.

About 11 am, the Guardsmen, from Socorro, not Albuquerque, dismounted their trucks, fixed their bayonets and began to advanced down the broad, bricked causeway from Central Avenue toward the Union in line abreast.

VVAW members were deloyed aas marshals, maintaining distance, but we got pushed back into the front line of the crowd. Then there was there was a flurry of activity, and suddenly a kid near me was writhing on the ground, blood spurting feet in the air. He'd got bayonetted in the upper leg, and his femoral artery had been cut.

 Another VVAW guy and I got a tourniquet on the kid's leg, and then made a chair with our arms to carry him to the Aid tent (there were ALWAYS aid tents, in those times). He was going into shock.

As we got out of the crush of the demonstration, we encountered a few ranks of Albuquerque's best burghers arrayed  behind a fence watching the hippies get their asses kicked, and cheering. They cursed us and spat on us. The kid had to be hospitalized, but suffered no lasting physical injury.

I cannot answer for the psychiological consequences, but my esteem for the "average American" never recovered.

But note, hippies: Every year, on this date, the Oligarchs haul out the images from that event to remind us that, yes, they will kill ya, if you piss 'em off enough, even if you're white.
Nack to Hippy Central, Winstone...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Flat Tax, Flat Wrong

Hola, Hippies of the world! Arise! We have nothing to lose but our love-beads...No, seriously: My name is John Konopak, a citizen-journalist in Albuquerque, NM, and I'm climbing the SoapBox to rant about TAXES!

There are all kinds of simple minds out there, and the STOOPIT is very strong among them. One of the most obdurately stupid cults in the religion of simple solutions are the "flat taxers." "The tax code is corrupt, and too complex, and favors the wrong people, and we should just charge everybody the same tax-rate, on everything, and cancel all exemptions, and deductions and just cut the crap. (THAT such 'flat taxer' folks often have jutting, prognathous jaws and ridged eye-brows? That's just a coincidence, I'm sure). Here's my reply to one such, today, on another thread, on which I declared that a flat tax is inevitably unjust, unfair, and inequitable. I said:
Try something novel, sir: THINK. It's an important word. It has more than 100 cognates; more than the Inuits have for "snow."  
Compare--a thinking activity--the condition of a worker taking home the Median income--around $50k/YR--with someone in the Top10%: $500k/yr.
Take 15 or 17 or 20 pewrcent of each and see what's LEFT? Clearly, the same tax has radically DIFFERENT effects on the amount of income the individuals have on which to live after their taxes are paid, nest paw? 
 Now take it DOWN a notch, where the impact is even MORE severe: Compare the lived, actual effects of a 15% tax on someone making $25K/yr--$3750-- with the person making $250K/yr, or $37500. I'm pretty sher you can figger it out the inequities for yourself.
Now, yer ol' pal, Dr. Woody has been accused of being all about critical, and being all nothing--or at least a lot lot less--about suggestions to fix things. I'll admit, I don't think things, as they are arranged now, are susceptible to BEING "fixed." But if they were, and a new system were to be imagined, I think I could live with something that looked like this. Along with the so-called "RobinHood" tax on all transactions of financial instruments and derivatives, you would:
Exclude the first $30k of anyone's income from income taxes of any kind, including States' taxes Then institute a sliding, progressive rate, based on the gross value of all received income, regardless of the source:
I.e.--5% from $30-$50001. 
9% FOR $50001-75000;
13% FOR $75001-100000.
17% FROM $100001-150000;
20% FROM $1500001-200000,
25% from 200001-300000,
30% from 300001-500000;
40% from $500001-One MILLION
ETC; maxing out at (post WW II levels): 90% over, say $5 Million
The levels would adjust with inflationary/deflationary pressures.

So, hippies! Now you can never again claim I offer no ideas to supplant those I criticize. If yoiu have objections,. raise 'em and I'll try to answer 'em, either here or at the beach.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

As The Cookie Crumbles: Take a Memo...Please

One day in the summer of 1971, upon emerging from a drunken night of frantic prayer-bingeing and slef-flagellant masturbation with Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon stared in horror from his bunker beneath the WhiteHouse and beheld (INSERT DC DEMO SHOT) several hundred thousand angry, fearful, worried, threatened young people from all over the country who were thronging to the National Mall to protest the Vietnam War. He was horrified. It was, in his mind--in the "official" mind--nothing less than MUTINY! It is difficult now to recall just how threatening that was. (END DC DEMO SHOT). 

Against this backdrop, allow me to introduce you to Associate SCROTRUS Justice Lewis Powell (standing, second from the left--but on Raygun's right) 

Raise your hand if you've heard of Lewis Powell!

Extra points if you've also heard of the Powell Memorandum.

 Lewis Powell was a successful tobacco lawyer--defending tobacco companies--in Richmond, and a staunch Republican "CorpoRatist free marketeer." Nixon tried several times to put him on the Court. Nixon finally succeeded in '71. Powell, then sitting on the boards of 11 major corporations,   acceded, but before his official nomination he wrote a very detailed and instructive memorandum to his friend Eugene Sydnor, Jr., the Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The memorandum was dated August 23, 1971, two months prior to Powell's nomination by President Nixon to the U.S. Supreme Court. Jack Anderson got a copy, and tried to raise a stink, questining Powell's potential impartiality , ut somehow it never managed to surfaced during his confirmation hearings. Wonder how that happened, doncha hippies?
Eventually, it was revealed, but not until  well AFTER he'd been confirmed. Known now as "the Powell Memorandum," it's contents spell out, in careful points, with impeccable logic, and legal footnotes, the way that the Corporat Right would assume control of the means and modes of production of intellectual and cultural capital in the USofA, solely for the aggrandizement of the CorpoRat image and ethos. There's a link to the complete document on my Anosognosia blog.

The Plan outlined in the Memo became the template for the successful corpoRat coup d'etat initiated by Raygun and finished by The Chimpeeror and Cheney, and now being highly burnished by the current incumbent, the Tallest Midget. It was: over time, and gradually, to insert ideologically pure, pro-CorpoRat/conservaturds into the highest echelons of ALL the USer cultural and educational centers: media, schools, universities, museums, libraries, whence they could--those 'unseen wire-pullers that Edward Bernays talked about in the 1920s--direct the climate more favorably towards the "free marketeers."
Powell, like so many of his age and class--notoriously his ideological soulmate in the WhiteHouse; and also and equally notoriously Allen Bloom, at Columbia, among others--was extremely distressed with the rebellious, youth/"counter-culture" and fearful of the anti-corpoRat implications it held for social justice and the fair distribution of social goods, and he--they were ALL--was fiercely agin it. They were, in the argot of the time, "freaked right the fuck OUT!" The memorandum is the product of his fears.
Powell, an acknowledged hawk on corporate privilege,was the 'spiritual" god-father of the whole, oligarchic coup that came to fruition under Reagan. He cast a decisive vote and wrote the majority opinion in a landmark corporate-personhood case called --First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti--a 1978 decision that actually invented a First Amendment "right" for corporations to actively influence ballot questions.

At the time, he was extolled as a "moderate" on social issues. But he voted to uphold anti-sodomy laws in Georgia,  and he voted to uphold the death penalty--in the face of documentation which demonstrated that – other than as punishment for the most violent of crimes – people who killed whites were significantly more likely to receive the death penalty as punishment for their crimes than people who killed blacks. Indeed, he seldom met a death penalty statute he didn't like. And he sided with Bakke against the University of California, in the case that effectively began to reverse anti-discrimination and restorative initiatives for minority students in public universities, too. Maybe "moderate" meant something else in those days, I dunno...

Probably, though, the template provided by his memo to tht USCoC is his greatest, and most lasting social influence. This gave impetus and direction to the right-wing, think-tank phenomenon. He more or less invented the "Heritage Foundation," and the rest just followed wherever they could find a compliant, sympathetic, generous billionaire.

 As noted, he thereby did most of the legal "spade work" for what became the Reagan/Bidness silent coup of 82-84.

Which, as events have shown, has succeeded wildly.(INSERT HANGING SHOT)
An interesting side-bar, and surely it is a mere accident and coincidence, but there was a previous "Lewis Powell" from Virginia who gained a certain notoriety, in an earlier time. He was hanged as a conspirator in the assassination of Abe Lincoln. (END HANGING SHOT)

 We can talk about such things, and butterfly wings, when I see you at the beach, hippies...