Sunday, July 24, 2016

After You've Gone

America, Again: A Long Rant

Cleaning Up After Cleveland (Andreas Kudacki, July 22, 2016;

The Republicans have left Cleveland. There's little doubt that can-do Managers, the Owners and Choosers and Deciders, and the Belivers, were in control at the RNC, as they seem to be in control in so many places in our culture. Because Life is for The Strong, and the Tough, and the Competitive.  And those with The Faith.

You Worker Bees, you "individual contributors" will just have to pull yourselves up by your own bootstraps. We will be Great again, and have Law and Order -- here in Merica -- or, you know, not. Thank everyone for coming!

Two Tales Of The City

Yesterday, I exited a subway car heading home from work at rush hour, turned right, and walked up a crowded concourse. There was a wall to my immediate left and knots of other exiting passengers to my right. Suddenly, I was face to face with a Caucasian male in his mid-20's, tall -- I'm well over six feet; this guy was at least three inches taller -- thin, hair cut close on the sides and in the middle puffed up in a modified Mohawk strip (as if he had, uh, a Weasel On His Head).

What followed was textbook; each movement was an escalation. First, we looked -- no, we stared --at each other. Neither of us gave way. Even though by then there was plenty of room around us, we each moved forward and slid past each other, equally determined not to make it simple and as if daring the other party to ratchet things up. Our arms inevitably brushed against each other, and we both pulled them away like yanking off a band-aid.

I had walked a step or two, and turned; he was already walking back. I stood where I was; he stopped inches from me. "You want some?" he said. I was surprised, but not that much; I was aware that ratcheting up the confrontation was my fault as well as his: They fought so fiercely because the stakes were so small. So, here we were and Quo Vadis?

Over the next second or so, I had two trains of thought. The first was something from another job life -- when an altercation turns into a confrontation, and the next step is physical violence, that's not optimal. Keeping public order means, even if you have a disregard for your own well-being, other people, innocent people, can get hurt. Your Macho takes a back seat.

The other consideration was -- this Guy. It was clear he was willing to make a physical threat to a complete stranger, standing on a public transport platform during rush hour and In These Times, when there are transit system police around -- I'd seen a K-9 patrol up ahead a few seconds before. I looked at the Guy, careful not to lean forward or move my hands, and made an Are you fucking kidding me? face. "Really?" I asked him.

"Really," he said -- and leaned forward. Without moving, I said, "Excuse Me."  Leaning forward a bit more, determined to count coup, he said, "Excuse me. Have a nice day." Even without hearing his tone of voice, you can decide whether or not he meant it.

Fast forward to this afternoon: A bus in Kiddietown; another Caucasian guy in his twenties -- this one short and slight, casually dressed, otherwise unremarkable -- drops a few papers as he enters the bus, and begins cursing -- shouting, in fact; and it's quickly clear he's inordinately upset about something which does not involve the bus, or anyone on it.

He stomps toward the back of the bus, drops into a seat, and for the next block or so periodically shouts more curses, slapping the seat beside him. Almost everyone else on the bus goes into You Are A Nutter And We Will Now Ignore You mode -- but, The Guy gets into it verbally with two Black males sitting behind him. Predictably, it escalates quickly.

"Hey!" Says the first man to The Guy, "Leave me alone. Shutthefuck up, man!"  "Fuck you man!!" shouts The Guy. "I'll kick your fuckin' ass!!" The second man, who has a voice like James Earl Jones and is happy to project it, joins in: "Hey; I ain't takin' that fuckin' bullshit off you, so just shut - the - fuck - up!!"

The Guy braces himself in his seat and, with a real sense of timing, waits for a beat and then leans forward, staring at the two men, his face distorted with rage. "Fuck you!!" he shouts, then adds, "You, you -- N_____ !!"

A hush falls over the entire bus, more felt than heard -- because He said the N-word to two Black guys and we live in post Furgeson-Cleveland-Baltimore-Chicago-Mineapolis-et al. America -- and I'm thinking: man, wasn't I just here yesterday?

Meanwhile, the James Earl Jones Soundalike both increases the volume and lowers the pitch of his voice to a growl, another textbook stop on the road to This Is Really Fucked Up. The Guy keeps shouting, a slight hesitancy in his voice now, as if understanding he'd crossed The Fabled Line when using the n-word a block or so back. The two Black guys keep raising their voices in response.

Obligatory Mongo Photo In Middle Of Blog Terror

It's clear the confrontation has reached a binary decision point, and several other passengers call out to the driver, a Latino with a wrestler's build wearing Ray-Bans, to "do something".  He doesn't, right away; I understand -- 1.) Things can happen, all of them unpleasant by degrees; 2.) His Management supervisor and Union Foreman have advised there are liability issues; and  3.) "They don't pay me enough for this shit, dude".

The driver finally comes to an official bus stop, halts the vehicle, then stands up, leans on a nearby pole and looks toward the altercation (all non-threatening, casual). "Hey -- hey; take it outside," he says to no one in particular, then appeals to reason and some generally-accepted social propriety: "Not on the bus, man."

After a few seconds, when things could have gone in any direction, The Guy stands up and exits by the side door, shouting insults at the other men all the way. The men return them -- but it's all textbook now; The Guy has been the one to retreat.

Once he's off and the doors close, the bus begins to pull away. As it does, from the relative safety of Outside, The Guy performs another textbook maneuver: he begins screaming, ratcheting up his invective ("Fuck you! N_____!! You N_____!!") and slaps the side of the bus.  JEJ-2, looking through the bus windows, grins and flips him off; The Guy seems even more enraged and escalates again ("I'll kill you, N_____ motherfucker!!"), but it's all for show, now, and everyone knows it. JEJ-2 grins once more and shouts, "Yeah; talk on, fuckhead"-- counting coup, also textbook.

A woman in her twenties at the front of the bus, holding a Prada purse and wearing a print sun dress, a Rolex and her own Ray-Bans, looked around at the other passengers and said with a giggle, "Well, that was rully intense!" The remainder of the ride, by comparison, was uneventful.

The Brand, As If Anyone Had Forgotten
(Carolyn Kaster / AP; The Atlantic online)

Jocks And Mean Girls Rule

So why mention these things? (Dogs like stories, and are good at the details.)  Because they exemplify a miserable trend in the broader culture; because I can't remember the last time I was in a confrontation (even one I helped create), as a civilian, which had real potential to become physically violent. And some of it mirrors what was on stage in Cleveland.

I'm part of an American demographic that doesn't encounter much real violence or intimidation, or police activity, on a regular basis. Mentioning my experiences to my friends prompted their own stories of confrontation and escalation. The general consensus:  these altercations seem to happen more frequently, now --- and, they've increased over at least the past decade.

Most often, they happen when driving, shopping, and (bingo) commuting on mass transit. However, the most disturbing aspect to my friends is how easily things escalate: people seem more willing to push situations, which could easily be walked away from, right to the brink where real violence is possible.

Official studies show the same trends, nationally, and in the same areas of social interaction. A quick check of the ubiquitous Gogglemachine will show the same observations, the same consensus by multiple observers. It doesn't have to involve complete strangers. My experiences, and those of friends, involving bullying by managers in the workplace has also increased in the past decade.

 Obligatory Cute Small Animal Photo In Middle Of Blog Rant

A few months ago, I'd called a manager of a national group about help in a project; he spent ten profanity-packed minutes accusing me of complaining about him to a vendor, crudely bullying me in any way he could.

This person has a reputation; I wasn't so surprised -- but I hadn't experienced him in that way, and I was knocked off balance. My responses -- interrupted constantly -- were factual; at some point, this person realized he was wrong in his accusations -- and like flipping a light switch, suddenly he sounded friendly, reasonable, behaving as if the previous ten minutes hadn't happened.

We both knew what he'd done -- and we both knew that even if I were to complain, because this person is labeled an "effective manager"; "he gets results"; there would be no repercussions.  I have a number of similar stories about other managers, and executives; so do my friends who work in corporate businesses, even 'cool' tech companies with "new" working cultures -- and they're all depressingly the same.

These sorts of person are narcissistic, possibly sociopaths. They're certainly bullies -- and know that they are.  They've found a niche in society which not only tolerates manipulation and mistreatment of other human beings, but rewards and promotes it. For them, it's a point of pride -- after all, they get results. And that's all that matters.

Weeks before he was assassinated, John F. Kennedy observed that one measure of a nation is through the individuals it upholds as heroes, worthy of emulation.  Over the past few decades in America, the people we are told to venerate, our Best, are the Business Leaders. They're supposed to be what we should want our children to grow up to become.

I don't think we'd want to leave our children alone with them for thirty seconds. But the promise of wealth and success through a life spent in corporate business is what our children are being told is the highest expression of our culture, and the behaviors of these 'leaders' are what they need to adopt in order to reach that wealth, success and self-fulfillment.

A long time ago, a cartoon posed the question, "What was the result of America's experience in Vietnam, and the attendant politics at home?" The correct answer was, "A deterioration of secular and spiritual priorities!" American culture is fraying badly under the weight of too many changes -- just the last ten include mass shootings, terrorism; The Crash; media outlets (Murdoch; Limbaugh, Wiener, Beck; O'Reilly) dumping human waste on our culture, 24-7.  Our 'entertainment' almost universally involves violence. 

The real wonder is that people aren't more uncivil to each other, or that overtime parking doesn't invoke the death sentence.

Trump: A Symptom 
This week we watched (some of) the antics at the Republican Convention, the Trump campaign's themes delivered by most of the speakers -- except Grand Turtlebear Greg Stillson, and Herr Doktor Carson, Exorcist and Fearless Vampire Killer, who seemed to have additional messages of hope and faith and eternal punishment in the fire the fire the fire for us all. And, of course, we heard The Donald.

 Additional Obligatory Animal Photo

There was nothing new in what he said Thursday night (though its delivery was less his trademark stream-of-consciousness) -- but I found myself asking How the hell did we come to this? That this stupid bully became their candidate??  It was as if someone had reanimated Fr. Charles Coughlin from the 1930's, George Wallace of the 1960's, or even George Lincoln Rockwell.  Trump appeared no different or better than any of the narcissistic bullies I've worked with or for in my lifetime. One difference between his campaign and Hillary's -- Trump says that he speaks for the angry Americans, the ones who want to "take it all back".

His campaign depends on tapping the kind of inchoate rage that we see or experience on the street, or at work. If Trump were to win, it would mean a period of social and political dislocation in America which no one in memory has experienced. I could make a joke about a similarity with H.P. Lovecraft's return of Chtulu and the Old Ones, but in fact nobody knows where it would all lead.

That said, I still believe Trump can't win. If how a person uses language is a good gauge of how they conceptualize and navigate the world, then Trump is too scattered and impulsive -- my Dog's nose tells me he can't run an effective team, and won't run a good ground game.  And, there aren't enough of his brand of conservative to go to the polls for him on November 8th. He can't win by sheer weight of numbers. He'll lose.

But, this contest will be played in the media as a close race. The assumption of office by President Hillary, The Inevitable One, will seem so very close (until the numbers come in) -- and Her victory will provide the consistency of a certain narrative about our history, a return to normal.

But Hillary is about the values of Business, too. When Hillary trotted out Tim Kane as her Veep, he spoke to a crowd and said, "America has never been about fear... it's been about bravery, and imagination, and doing whatever it takes to get the job done! [applause]." Hillary described him as "a Progressive who believes in getting the job done" (Emphasis in the original delivery).

Additional Obligatory Stimpy Face Photo

It's my expectation Hillary will assist in wiring America into a global system which will free business and banking from being responsible to the laws of individual nations -- environmental regulations; banking laws, trade laws. It will be an advantage capitalism has never had in history, making corporate business the single most important human activity. And it will continue the stratification of society, globally, into corporate Managers -- and everyone else, who will work for them, to earn money to buy products and services.

We'll still continue to be told a comforting narrative -- about America's uniqueness, independence and values, and it's place in the world. Frankly, Hillary's narrative is just a little softer than Trump's story of American greatness; only the wrapper is different. But to global Business, America is just one more place with resources and a population that can be bought, one more market where things can be sold.  We can play our pretend politics, so long as we don't get in the way of the grownups, managing large-scale operations for profit.

Meanwhile, people know the fix is in. They're frightened about the future, and fear can easily flip into anger. People have unresolved conflicts; some have years of badly-wired resentments and painful memories; PTSD. This election season will be something to watch (I'd buy the Good Popcorn, but don't fire it up just yet) but the presidency of Hillary The Inevitable will not provide America what it needs to heal itself.

I don't think even Ted Cruz and Benny Carson's jesus™ could pull that off. Try not to piss anyone off in public.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Cleveland: Where The Hot Wind Blows

Greg Stillson Unchained

Greg Stillson, Crazy Idiot Loser Unsuccessful Republican Candidate,
Shares His Private Aspirations At The RNC In Cleveland (Photo: CheeseStar)

Grand TurtleBear Greg Stillson of the Church Of I Kill You !! was unsuccessful against Il Duce in the 'Race To The Bottom' primary contests. Little Greg, accompanied by his wife, Irgrud, promised their supporters smaller government, that Lloyd Blankfein would be made secretary of the Treasury; a written guarantee signed by the lord and savior (well, somebody's lord 'n savior, anyway) that they would be transported to heaven "at a date and time of their own choosing";  and, that they "shall taste man-flesh!"
 Loser's Night: Greg And Dashboard Jesus Appeared
Before The Multi 'Tudes

None of it worked. Trumpo was too powerful. He had big hands. Greg had a big big sad, because the lord of Hostess© did not live in his pants. The night ended in terror and shame, and the Grand TurtleBear blubbered like a five-year-old, accompanied by his close campaign advisor, Dashboard Jesus -- who made meaningless Who's Awesome? You're Awesome gestures to the multitudes while firing random spitwads at them.

As a consolation prize, Greg was offered an opportunity to speak to the Republican convention, with an understanding that in the name of party unity, Greg would stay on his meds (400mg of Thorazine every 4 hours) and endorse the apotheosis of Trumpo, Clown-Emperor of Dealdom.

Greg was sly. He palmed his meds. He smiled, slyly. He walked to the podium, smiled again his trademark sly smile that says, Take it from me: the earth is 6,500 years old; and I am One Of Youuuuuu!! Then he delivered a speech.  In the process, he showed his pudgy, cheese-dimpled butt to all America and the world, the teevee broadcasting these images to as yet unknown alien races in galaxies not yet catalogued, for all time.  When these aliens see it, they will seek us out and eradicate all life on our planet. Because Freedom.

We may not have gotten it all down exactly, but we're pretty sure Greg said something like this.  Or he wanted to, really bad.
Thank you. Irgrud and I are honored by Lebron James tonight. And as I'm convinced America is going, I congratulate Donald, right over there (nods), on taking the nomination..

Conventions are excrement. But you'll listen to me before we burn you at the stake for your apostasy in not allowing me -- me -- to fulfill my destiny before god and my pants.

Just a while ago, a carefree Texas summer was destroyed by my loss of primaries to Mister Trump, over there (points). On that day I was martyred, Irgrud hugged me and said we still had friends at Goldman, wink, wink. But I had been murdered. I was in tears. How could anything ever be OK again? I feel things that happen to me deeply. To ME!

Then I had the chance to come here and force you ungrateful, spiteful, stupid agents of Satan to listen, to me. Me! ME!! And as I thought about what I wanted to say tonight, it's that we live in a world where lives are destroyed by evil, just as mine was. Not that you care.

Maybe it is because of a simple yet powerful idea: freedom from is greater than freedom to. And, were I the leader of this great Nation, all America would know that from Day One.

I want everything I've ever seen in the movies. I want to make you love me, and to love Jesus too when you have time, though I would keep you busy. Never has that message been  needed more than today. You owed me that. You all owed me so much.

Of course, Clinton, and Trump over there, will tell you I am crazy. Crazy! Me! Well, they don't know about my visions -- visions for the future. They don't know my dreams. They would run screaming in fear and pain and awe, if they could but see what I have in my pants. God is there. Let me show you.  [Exposes hind parts] Thank you.

Hillary Clinton deals heroin and has a house full of children to service her. It's true! And all dictated out of Washington. But something powerful is happening. Voters are rejecting cement lawn gnomes. They are symbols of Satan, of government, of a corrupt system that benefits the elites, instead of working girls and Feed Lot maintenance personnel.

I tried to tell you. I deserve so much. And you could have given it to me. America put a man on the moon. Surely you could have given me this, but no. No!

You deserve leaders who cast aside principle, and untie us behind a Principal. Who have anger for love. That is the standard you should expect -- punishment, and secret forbidden love, and television Jesus. No less.

And to those listening, please, don't go and do things in your kitchens where you think I can't see you. I know you stay home to do them, but you are wrong. And bad. And badly wrong. You must be punished, but you will learn to love the rope.

We must make the most of our moment. We must sieze and choke and drive and shave. To fight for me was to fight for freedom, to protect your god-given right to acknowledge me. Me! And I give those I love one final lingering deep kiss goodbye, with tongue. As I curse all those who were foul betrayers, I will say, "I am something beautiful".

Thanks. And bless me. You had your chance, but you fucked it up !!  Now you're going to get almost a decade of She Who Must Not Be Named, when you could have had ME !!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Time Of The Weasel

Get Out The Popcorn And The Amarlite

The Weasel Who Lives On Trump's Head 
Speaks At The Republican Convention, Cleveland (Photo: CheeseStar)

MEHR, MIT EIN ANDEREN (Actual Conversation):
MVOHC: Watching  any of the Republican  convention ?
DOG: Some.
DOG: It's not Triumph Of The Will, is it?
MVOHC: What's that?
DOG: Uh.... I  gotta do stuff.
Actually, my favorite part of this quadrennial gathering of the Parteigenossen (so far) was Little Ben Carson's speech last night. It's really amazing how full of hate this person is, so much so that he's barely recognizable as a person.
...I’m not politically correct. And I hate political correctness because it’s antithetical to the founding principles of this country and the secular progressives use it to make people sit down and shut up while they change everything. It’s time for us to stand up and shout out about what we believe in.

...We must resist the temptation to take the easy way out and to passively accept what is fed to us by the political elite and the media because they don’t know what they’re talking about and they have an agenda.

...Interestingly enough... Hillary Clinton ...would continue with a system that denigrates the education of our young people, puts them in a place where they’re never going to be able to get a job, where they’re always going to be dependent and where they can therefore be cultivated for their votes...

One of the things that I have learned about Hillary Clinton is that one of her heroes, her mentors... is Saul Alinsky... He wrote a book called “Rules For Radicals”. On the dedication page, it acknowledges Lucifer, "the original radical who gained his own kingdom". Now think about that. This is a nation where ... our Pledge of Allegiance says we are “one nation, under God”. This is a nation where every coin in our pocket and every bill in our wallet says “In God We Trust”. So are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model somebody who acknowledges Lucifer? Think about that.

The secular progressive agenda is antithetical to the principles of the founding of this nation. If we continue to allow them to take god out of our lives, god will remove himself from us, we will not be blessed and our nation will go down the tubes and we will be responsible for that. We don’t want that to happen.

...It is not about me. It is about we, the people, and Thomas Jefferson said that we would reach this point, because we the people would not be paying attention, and it would allow the government to grow, to expand, and to metastasize and to try to rule us. But he said before we turn into something else, we the people would recognize what was going on, what we were about to lose, and we would rise up and we would take control of our nation and I say now is the time for us to rise up and take America back. 
 And that's Jenga.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Random Barking Too, Also

When The Going Gets Weird, The Weird Turn Pro

(One of the unspoken Intertube traditions [which we recognize, as we do All Intertube Traditions] is, Never Blog After An, uh, 'Social Call'.  Blogs [so it is said] should be for sober reflection and analysis, if you want people [that is, the three people and the Superintelligent Parakeet who read this blog] to take you seriously. Well; fuck that; let's push on.)

When the Brexit was a Day One news item, I noted the English-language European and American mainstream media characterized 'Leave' voters as resembling the 'National Front' types I encountered in London in the late 70's -- racist, nationalistic troglodytes -- as if the only motivation for wanting to leave the EU could be the potential for a sudden influx of Middle Eastern refugees.

Even today, pundits on some very nice soapboxes are still saying the Brexit is the last gasp of White Britain, the Last Hurrah of a Failed Empire, brought about by political Neanderthals, doomed to extinction by the forward march of Progress.

Progress, For Them: More Exclusive Resort Locales

Maybe. But after you pare away the  Raving Loonies, those focused on keeping out 'the Darks', the "Little Englanders" -- the Vote became a rejection of the elitist-sponsored inequality being brought to you under the label of Globalism.

Before 2008 (and even for a time after), anyone claiming that the world was being structured for the benefit of the few at the expense of everyone else -- that it was an organized effort -- would have been marginalized, derided as part of the Tinfoil Hat crowd, a Loony Liberal (or, worse, a Communist) and effectively ignored:Yeah; go stand over there, with the 9-11 guys and David Ickes with his nine-foot reptilian Overlords and the anti-Semites.

The MSM have repeatedly described The Crash as an excess of the financial 'community' -- an aberration, something out of the ordinary. Like many others, I watch the monthly U.S. employment figures and CPI, and the gyrations of the global Market in an attempt to read the tea leaves... but all that is part of everyone's post-Crash focus: Are we 'getting back to normal'? 

The fix of The Crash was to bail out the institutions and individuals who caused it. After a while, no one in the MSM seemed to pay much attention to the fact that All Of Us had paid to bail out corporate banks, to underwrite their private insolvency with public loans. Because they were Too Big To Fail. Because Freedom.
"[There was] a contract that said, if you work hard, if you essentially are a good citizen, there will be a place for you, not only an economic place, you will have a secure life, your kids will have a chance to have a better life, but you will sort of be recognized as part of the national fabric."

The ... American institutions that underpinned this contract including locally-owned businesses, unions, and public schools. ... the void left by the decline of these institutions was filled by the default force in American life, organized money.
-- Wikipedia Entry (Paraphrased), "The Unwinding", George Packer (2013)
And in the eight years since Der Untergang, there has been a resulting massive shift in American society (and in global institutions) which we haven't come to terms with -- primarily because humans always seek a stable local reality, and will ignore a ton of shit if it means they're "getting by".  Meanwhile, over 90% of income increases since 2008 have gone to a fraction of our population; trillions in wealth have been transferred from the majority to that tiny, useless minority.  And it is not coming back.

Not everyone can march in the streets, but it's still relatively safe to cast an anonymous vote -- ergo, Bernie's popularity in America, and Trumpo's. And the Brexit vote. They're bellwethers of what's going on in the hearts of The People, things that can't necessarily be bought or manipulated by Kochbrudern money, or Little Rupert's 24X7 sewage operation.

Mister, Jones

Everyone I know has the sense (and has had it, since the shark-feeding-frenzy Verrüktzeit preceding The Crash) that we're rocketing towards an unknown singularity. It may crush us flat, as we travel an Einstein-Rosen Bridge of history, before being blown out into the future. 

Some kind of change is coming; the bellwethers are all around us: For decades, art and film have presented stories set after some unimaginable crash / alien incursion / pandemic / Zombie apocalypse / fascist revolution.  In real life, politics has devolved into populism on the Left and faux-populism on the altRight, while Business As Usual (personified by Herr Obama and Hillary The Inevitable !) still runs the show. The Usual Suspects still own the circus. The future is set because they wish it.

It is a sham and all of us know. So in November, just three people will come out to vote. One will cast a ballot for a glorious return of Clintonia; one will vote for the return of The Good Ole Daze. One will arrive to vote for Ralph Nader, but is nearsighted and so votes for Her Majesty in error. And so Cruella Deville will be Our Leader. Or will she?  Such a cliffhanger !
One of my Hillaryite Colleagues is nervous again, stunned by Hillary's plummeting polls since Comey justly called her a serial liar and regal jackass with neither interest in or competence for following rules mere mortals must. He's leading in Ohio and Pennsylvania and Florida, HC said. O look, I said, pointing to the big screen in the Student Union, a truck plowed into a Bastille Day crowd in France. HC said, this is nuts. Students rushed through the Student Union holding cell phones in front of their faces, screaming at each other like battle bugles. It's dress rehearsal, I said.
--  Soul Of America, "And We Should Dance"
No one know what's going to happen, and no one knows the Form Of The Destructor. The only  takeaway we have is a gnawing foreboding. We sense there is an iceberg, dead ahead, a banana peel or large clump of animal feces on the sidewalk in the dark. But we can't discern it's exact shape -- Something is happening here, but you don't know what it is; do you, Mr. Jones. 

All I can do is pay attention to other observers on the Net who are much better at a broader analysis than this humble Dog correspondent. And to join the Greek chorus of those who pass along their observations so that we all too, also, might benefit.

The old world is discombobulating right in front of our eyes. Keep looking, and don't turn away.
In Britain as well as America... The triumph of Margaret Thatcher in the 1978 general election had the same role there as Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980 did over here: a new, more aggressive conservatism took up the Left’s rhetoric of class warfare with a vengeance and inverted it, ushering in an era in which the rich rebelled against the poor.

The Labour Party under Tony Blair... responded [in] the same way [as the Democratic party] did under Bill Clinton: both ... dropped their previous commitments to the working class and the poor, and focused instead on issues that appealed to affluent liberals.  They gambled that the working class and the poor would keep voting for them out of ... misplaced loyalty—and over the short term, that gamble paid off.

The result in both countries was a political climate in which the only policies up for discussion were those that favored the interests of the affluent at the expense of the working classes and the poor [Emphasis added]. That point has been muddied so often, and in so many highly imaginative ways, that it’s probably necessary to detail it here.
 Progress, For You: The Decline
Rising real estate prices, for example, benefit those who own real estate, since their properties end up worth more, but it penalizes those who must rent their homes, since they have to pay more of their income for rent. Similarly, cutting social-welfare benefits for the disabled favors those who pay taxes at the expense of those who need those benefits to survive.
In the same way, encouraging unrestricted immigration into a country that already has millions of people permanently out of work, and encouraging the offshoring of industrial jobs so that the jobless are left to compete for an ever-shrinking pool of jobs, benefit the affluent at the expense of everyone else.
The law of supply and demand applies to labor just as it does to everything else:  increase the supply of workers and decrease the demand for their services, and wages will be driven down. The affluent benefit from this, since they pay less ... but the working poor and the jobless are harmed ... since they receive less income if they can find jobs at all.

It’s standard for this straightforward logic to be obfuscated by claims that immigration benefits the economy as a whole—but who receives the bulk of the benefits, and who carries most of the costs?  That’s not something anybody in British or American public life has been willing to discuss for the last thirty years. 
-- John Michael Greer, Archdruid Report
The Benefits Of Globalism: Obligatory Small Animal Photo
In Middle Of Blog Thing
Cameron’s risky bet to hold a referendum on Britain’s EU membership has backfired disastrously. The unexpected victory for the leave camp has shaken both Unions to their very core, dividing left and right on either side of the Channel ...
 Yet the unspeakable truth is that, at a deeper level, the [Brexit vote] ... has [to do] with ... the widening gulf between political elites and European citizens more generally. While racism and anti-immigrant sentiment have been central to the leave campaign from the very start, it is difficult to believe that all 52 percent of Britons who voted leave are committed fascists.

Many of these people are ordinary working class folks who are simply fed up with the erosion of their living standards, the disintegration of their communities, the lack of responsiveness of their political representatives, and the unaccountable technocracy that has “taken control” over their lives. Brexit was first and foremost a political statement by the dispossessed and disempowered.

... Ultimately, the British vote to leave the EU, whether it eventually materializes or not (and there is no guarantee that it will), is symptomatic of ... a structural crisis of democratic capitalism, that has in recent years evolved from a global financial crisis into a deepening legitimation crisis of the political establishment, which is now in turn exploding into a full-blown crisis of governability of the existing social and political order...

-- ROAR Magazine; Jerome Roos, editor: "#Brexit Confirms: The Neoliberal Center Cannot Hold"
... the Founders distrusted popular government for the simple, unassailable reason that the American people are drawn ineluctably to raving bigots and would-be totalitarians. Who are these unhinged, pitchfork-wielding yahoos, now rudely demanding their moment of reckoning at the expense of the institutions erected to discipline them?
-- "The Political Class Struggles", Chris Lehman, 'The Baffler'
For Us:  Eight Nine More Years; Business As Usual. With Occasional Botox.
Hillary really seems to believe that her victory is enough of a consolation prize to negate our miseries. Sadly, there are enough people who agree that she'll never disabuse herself or her notion. If she loses, she'll blame us. We'll have deprived ourselves of the joy of witnessing her happiness.
-- :p, Airport through the Trees

MEHR, MIT:  There is also, too, this from Something You Should Read:
The greatest trick the Republicans ever performed was dragging America’s political spectrum so far right of center that the Democrats caved and became center-right corporatist shills ... a horrendous compromise between anti-war, anti-poverty, anti-racist idealists who believe in building a better America, and the well-to-do status quo defending blowhards who think buying a Beyonce album on iTunes is somehow proof you believe Black Lives Matter.

Essentially, those who understand our current politics are infested with a rot that spread misery and poverty, and “free market” neoliberals who cloak their faith in the current system with a sick and twisted perversion of “Identity Politics.” They seek nothing more than a more diverse oligarchy to rule over the poor and the disadvantaged, they think they can weaponize poverty to punish and silence white racism. They’ll call illegal drone strikes a “white issue,” they’ll defend an infinitely rich and powerful white woman’s vocal support of an illegal war that has murdered hundreds of thousands if not millions. They’ll support a “sit-in” to create policy around a Bush-era terrorist watchlist to strip rights from Muslims. All of this is so far detached from anything a “Left” would ever stand for. ...

Let me make it clear ... you were an outspoken supporter of a Liberal White Supremacy that infests our current political class. One that pretends a black President is somehow a victory while the wealth gap between white and black families has only grown under his reign. One that believes Silicon Valley can somehow end racism through apps. One that pretends Edward Snowden is somehow a traitor, while a Secretary of State running a private email server to hide from public accountability and FOIA requests is somehow woke feminist labor. One that pretends Hillary only voted for the Iraq War because doing otherwise would be “political suicide.” One that pretends claiming poverty while having a luxurious AirBNB in a developing nation is not grossly inappropriate. One that thinks a vote for an infinitely rich and powerful white woman whose incompetence has had grave consequences for poor Muslim women overseas is somehow a meaningful victory for feminism....

Vote for Hillary all you want. However, wrapping it up in a triumphant narrative of identity politics and social justice when the only success is more dead innocent Muslims overseas — for no fucking reason — I mean the drone assassination program Hillary Clinton oversaw as Secretary of State had a fucking 90% failure rate— is nothing short of absolute vulgarity.

Random Barking

Casual Cruelty To Animals

(Apologies to Tom Ridgeway / asdfmovies)

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Reprint Heaven: Welcome To Target

Because Freedom

(Because we think there's a problem.  From June 11, 2015.)

(Photo By Mongo + Android / Photoshop)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Torn From Today's Headliners

No Harrassing Ex-Fox News Charges In Roger Ailes' Mishandling Of Clinton Sexual FBI Emails 

After a subheading like that, you're expecting text?


Elie Wiesel, 1928 - 2016

It's late to say, but Elie Wiesel passed away over the weekend.

There's little I can add to what's already been said about him, even during his lifetime. My introduction to him was reading Souls On Fire ("When I am asked about my Jewish affiliation, I define myself as a Hasid, " Wiesel once wrote. "Hasid I was, Hasid I remain"), which contains one of my favorite thoughts about the power of writing and belief. 

The great rabbi Baal Shem-Tov loved his people, Wiesel wrote. Whenever he sensed they were in danger, he would go to a secret place in the woods, light a special fire, and say a special prayer. Then, without fail, his people would be saved from danger. Baal Shem-Tov passed on and his disciple, Magid of Mezritch, came to lead the people. Whenever he sensed his people were in danger, he would go to the secret place in the woods. "Dear God," he would say, "I don't know how to light the special fire, but I know the special prayer. Please let that be good enough." It was, and the people would once again be saved from danger. 

When Magid passed on, he was succeeded by another rabbi, the Rabbi Moshe-leib of Sasov, and whenever he heard that his people were in danger, he would go to the secret place in the woods. "Dear God," he would say, "I don't know how to make the special fire, I don't know how to say the special prayer, but I know this secret place in the woods. Please let that be good enough." It was, and the people would once again be saved from danger. 

When Rabbi Moshe passed, he was succeeded by Rabbi Israel of Rizhyn, and whenever somebody told him that his people were in danger, he didn't even get out of his armchair. He could only bow his head and shrug his shoulders. "Dear God," he would pray, "I don't know how to make the special fire. I don't know how to say the special prayer. I don't even know the secret place in the woods. All I know is the story, and I'm hoping that's good enough."

It was, and his people would be saved.

Then (Wiesel adds), the moral of this is, God made man because He loves stories

Now he knows what we do not. Another Mensch leaves us; and as I do not tire of saying, we live in a world with a very limited supply of Mensches.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Benny The Beaver Blue

It's New

Courtesy of The Soul Of America, it seems the good people at Oregon State University (Go Beavers!) have developed a new shade of the color, Blue, called YInMn -- Mn for Manganese, and the rest for, uh, another thing.

But, unless you're a chemist, you don't care. While the compound has many exciting properties related to infrared radiation, and determining whether Hillary The Inevitable likes Cold Cereal Porn, it's simply very beautiful.

Obligatory Small Animal Photo In Middle Of Blog Filler

Occasionally, that's all that matters. At the moment there's not exactly a surfeit of Beauty in plain sight, so take a break, expand the size of this photo on your desktop to 1000%, and enjoy. No, I do not mean the photo of The Hillary.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Monster Truck And The Rubber Duck Collide

And The Universe Was Born
O Happy Zion: Your Reward Awaits You In Jesusland™

What, you have a problem with this cosmology? It's as valid a Creation Myth as any other. I'm not fond of Monster Trucks (no matter how much I liked the series, House), true, but The Great Duck is our savior; He also floats, and is appealing as a chew toy:  I like my saviors to be multi-purpose.
Obey the Great Duck in all His forms. 

But yes, What Is All This? Why Are We, and What's It All For? Ah, the age-old questions -- life in all its multitudinous forms.  We won't be finding any answers today, but there is still fun social commentary for YOU, which is almost as good. Possibly.

( Click For Huge and Readable Version; It's Easy And Fun! )

MEHR, MIT EIN GESICHTE:  Speaking of Cosmology and Ducks and Fun, here's a true story: I once had a friend, who is now (just by the luck of the draw) famous and wealthy, someone who has in fact added to human culture in a not-so-small way, and who once told me a tale about his hitchhiking days. It relates to the Big Questions Of Life, but only just barely.

He was seventeen, and one Fall day, splitting from his home on the Great Lakes (which also involved a brush with John Wayne Gacy, but that's for another time), began thumbing it up north into Canada. He hooked up with two men, a classic Mutt-and-Jeff team, driving up into The Maritimes ostensibly to make and sell chocolate fudge. Jeff was tall and spindly in his forties or early fifties with a shock of black hair greying at the temples; Mutt was short, with a close-cropped buzz-cut (known from my Army days as a 'high and tight') who smoked cigarillos and looked a little like Popeye. 

My friend had a well-developed radar for Crazies, and after a time riding along read these two as fairly routine types (at least they weren't serial killers).  They had a station wagon pulling a U-Haul style trailer filled with fudge-making apparatus and a sales stand. It also became fairly clear that their business, while necessary, wasn't the prime focus of their travels.

It didn't take long for my friend to determine that Mutt and Jeff had Little Black Books, and their trips were like unto the routes of sailors, reaching ports of call where they knew the names and telephone numbers of every love-starved and rapacious widow, divorcee, and spinster librarian under thirty from Vancouver to Newfoundland. 

Apparently, they drove across Canada during the year, making fudge, making some money, seeing women they knew (and being introduced to a few new ones), then taking another route back west before starting all over again.

My friend passed himself off as nineteen, out of high school and just bumming around. Mutt and Jeff nominally appeared to accept my friend's story, and offered him the chance to tag along and join their team. Their normal routine was to drive into a town, file whatever paperwork, sell fudge by day and live well by night. My friend, at seventeen, was flabbergasted at the frank availability of the, uh, ladies Mutt and Jeff knew -- who also had friends very happy to, uh, get to know a young man. This all went on until needs financial and physical were satisfied; then, they pushed on to the next wind-swept Canadian town.

Canada: Renowned Worldwide For Its Beaver, 
And You Knew This Joke Was Coming

Somewhere in there, Mutt and Jeff also picked up The Kid. Not the Kenosha Kid -- this one was nineteen, tall, painfully blonde to the point of being a near-Albino. He was also Mormon, who had been out on his Year Of Witnessing (or whatever it's called). Young Mormons performing this rite of passage do so in the company of other Young Mormons, or with an Elder whose job is to keep a watchful eye on them.  

The Kid had a crisis of faith on the road. He wasn't sure if he was Mormon, or what, any longer, and had simply walked to the nearest highway and put out his thumb: If you don't know which way you're going, it don't matter which road you take. To the other Mormon(s) he was traveling with, The Kid had just up and disappeared.

I refer to him as The Kid because, even two years older than my friend, The Kid was clueless. And hitchhiking alone across Nowhere Canada, with dwindling finances, ashamed and frightened at the idea of returning to his family in Utah in his confused state.  

My friend's take was that Mutt and Jeff sized him up as Not Crazy, just Trying To Sort Things Out, and felt sorry for him. While he wasn't a danger to others, he was a Kid alone on the High Way, and Mutt and Jeff decided to take him into the Empire Of Fudgelandia for a while until he could decide his next move, and offer him an opportunity to make a little cash in the process. Plus, he got to meet girls in a way that he wouldn't have been able to do in the shadow of the Big Temple in Salt Lake City. The Kid, as the trip progressed, seemed to like that part of it.

He was given, however, to questioning the religious beliefs with which he had been raised -- volubly and frequently. He argued for them, against them; back and forth, a mirror of his own inner conflict, thinking out loud. Mutt and Jeff were fairly tolerant of these outbursts, which were greatly toned down if The Kid had ready access to Girls.

The drive up into The Maritimes continued. It began to get colder. Mutt and Jeff, my friend and The Kid drove in the station wagon-and trailer into a town that had a medium-sized mall with two floors of shops on all four sides of a large, open area, and topped by a skylight. The mall was heated during the winter months, and the open area was a perfect location for the fudge stand.

One day around noon, Mutt, The Kid and my friend were manning the fudge stand inside the mall. The sun had been trying hard to break through clouds most of the day; sales were slow, and The Kid had been banging on about religion in a general way since the morning. Mutt, dressed all in white when making and selling fudge -- white pants, apron, white T-shirt and a small white fry-cook's cap -- was leaning against the fudge machine, his face screwed up like Popeye's as he looked up every now and again at the skylight, listening as The Kid explained some aspect of Mormonism to my friend.

Even though Mutt's attitude toward The Kid's diatribes was kindly, he usually declined to join in.  Finally, The Kid turned to Mutt and asked, "So, what religion are you? I mean, what were you raised as?"

Mutt slowly took his omnipresent cigarillo out of his mouth. "I'm a Hueyist," he said simply, and looked up towards the grey sky above the mall. 

"What -- you mean, that big duck in the cartoons?" The Kid was nonplussed for a moment, then laughed at Mutt -- no; he guffawed. " 'Baby Huey' ??"

Mutt paused, as if in thought, still looking up, then quickly looked at The Kid with an utterly rock-solid, serious expression and said, quietly, "Don't make fun of Huey."

At that moment, the mall was flooded with light, pouring through its glass roof; the interior of the little arcade blazed as if someone were testing a nuclear warhead in the sky above. The Kid looked up, eyes wide, mouth slack-open in Awe and Fear, utterly speechless. It was clear he was at least considering that it might not be wise to mock the Power and Glory that was Huey in future.

As The Kid stood gobsmacked, rooted in place and staring up at the heavens, my friend looked over at Mutt. A tiny smile was creasing his face, just for an instant, before he replaced the cigarillo in his mouth and turned back to the fudge machine. He had been looking up, watching the clouds through the skylight, and timed his response to The Kid just as the clouds parted and the sun, at zenith above the mall, suddenly broke through.