Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Eric Holder is a liar? No shit? I'm stunned.

The Obamessiah's mouthpiece of mendacity, Eric Holder, has announced that he is certain the Pakistani Taliban is "responsible for" the NYC pseudo-bomb-in-an-SUV.

Each bit of "proof" that I've read being attributed to Holder has been nothing more than an accusation.

Yet the "news" media dutifully report that "the Taliban" are responsible.

And guess what else is on the table right now?

Mandatory REAL ID.

Bobo hits a bullseye? Yep. Blind squirrel, meet acorn!

Read all about it at IOZistan.

1925 documentary/newsreel from Gazelle Cycles

How bicycles were made via industrial process circa 1925, from Gazelle Cycles.

Gazelle 1925

New upcoming show at WFMU featuring Ira Kaplan as guest DJ

Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo is one of my favorite musicians and he's got some far-reaching knowledge of music. See here.

He occasionally fills in as a guest DJ on the nation's best radio station, WFMU.

This Wednesday, May 12, he will be doing a guest spot on WFMU from noon to 3pm, Eastern time. You can listen to it live as streaming audio at the link below.


Monday, May 10, 2010

It's official. I'm a judgmental Bible-thumping fundamentalist.

The accusation has been leveled, and reiterated for emphasis.

See here.

The neatest trick of all is calling it "hate." I always love that.

Bittersweet distractor.


I searched last season for a fatter ski that works like my favorite daily driver, a 2005 Head Monster 88.  Head's skis now are very expensive, and the new Head ski nearest to what i wanted (Jimi 110) had a massive turning radius of 32m and twin-tip.  I wanted:  108-112mm waist, sidewalls, sandwich, metal layers, no twin tip, turning radius in the mid- to upper-20s.

This left me with only two choices as far as I could see:  Volkl Katana, or Elan 1010 Alu.  When the Elans came up for season-end clearance pricing at Backcountry.com, I snagged a pair.  When they arrived I was stoked on the weight and the flex.  I was gambling on them being like an even fatter GS ski, like the Monster 88 is a fat GS ski.  They have a softish tip, but firm mid flex and snappy tail.

Browsing at TGR's forums on Saturday, I found this:

Meathelmet's Elan 1010 Alu review: The quiver of one?

Since Meathelmet is about my size and was looking for a very similar kind of ski, I'm stoked.  I was between the Volkl Katana and this ski, and the best price I found on Katanas was $100 higher than what I paid for the 1010s.

With a pair of Marker Baron bindings, they should be righteous.  I've already got the skins.

Meathelmet's review makes me think of skiing next year with this plumbed into my ears:

Really. It is time to wake up. No, seriously. The dream is over.

Pwoggies are freaking out! Kagan will move the court "further to the right"!

Uh... nope.

Sorry, pwoggies.

The Court has always been a fascist institution. It always has protected the corporate and business class interests first. Always. The history of constitutional litigation on the "dormant commerce clause" shows this; the history of such litigation on the literal Commerce Clause shows this.

Pwoggies love to think that this is a "teachable moment" for Their Obamessiah to Lead With Bold Vision, and therefore appoint a Suitable Candidate for a SCOTUS Seat. Their hearts are aflutter at the idea that maybe someone will get onto the SCOTUS who will Make Abortions Legal Forever.

Because really, abortion is the pivotal issue in a collapsing society.

Really it is.

Just ask any Pwoggie.

Or... wait. There's a Pwog over here, in this little hutch, who says it's more about Gay Marriage. So I guess a few Pwoggies are concerned about that one too.

Here's the political agenda in Pwogland, for SCOTUS nomination:

* Keep Abortion Legal
* Sanctify Gay Marriage
* No Evil Rethuglican Taint

But of course, The Pwoggle doesn't realize the SCOTUS always has been a fascist implement.

So Pwog-topia depends on getting a pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage candidate on the SCOTUS.

Because an achievement in symbolism really is the true victory.


related entry from Arthur Silber:

In Which I Am Extremely Rude. Motherfuckers.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Detroit Model apparently is what Mayor John Engen likes

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced a couple of months ago that his answer to Detroit's economic woes is to raze 25% of the city's housing and commercial structures. The targeted quarter is low-income or otherwise non-performing (my euphemism there) real property.

Here in my lovely "progressive" slash "liberal" town, Missoula MT (a/k/a The New Boulder), Mayor John Engen and the City Council are forcing similar ideas, although not quite as radically proffered.

I bought my house in December 2003 in a neighborhood I jokingly called "Meth Lab Estates," because of the ramshackle character of the neighborhood. I bought here because it was the only neighborhood affordable to me.

In the 6.5 years I've been here, the shotgun shacks and trailer homes have quickly been razed and shit-construction row-houses have been planted in their footprints. The density has increased, the street traffic has become more hurried, speeding and stop-sign running has grown by leaps and bounds. I don't like walking my dog any more; there's always some douchebag driving a Cadillac Escalade, Chevy Suburban, or Audi A6 at 40 mph on our 25 mph streets, in a big hurry to get to his/her row-house in time to watch American Idol or the latest NASCAR race.

To make matters worse, Mayor Engen and the City Council have decreed that our neighborhood needs sidewalks and guess who gets to pay for them? It's not financed across the city by proportional taxation, nor by bond revenue. Nope. In a swell example of eminent domain, the city forces the homeowner to pay for the sidewalk. One friend whose house is 2.5 blocks from me was advised that he should be prepared to pay between $11,000 and $18,000 for his sidewalk. In a genuine stroke of kindness, the City Engineer told him that financing was available to soften the blow by building the huge fiscal hit into his monthly mortgage payment.

The rumor about town is that this forced-gentrification is about real estate value with no concern for the impact upon the lower incomes. As I understand things, several people have been told by their City Council member that the local realtors lobbied for the sidewalks because the yuppies moving here insist on sidewalks and thus will pay more for houses with sidewalks on them, in neighborhoods checkerboarded with sidewalks.

My particular City Councilwoman told me that she thinks it's a good idea for public safety, and she reiterated the deal of getting "a good rate on a 30-year-loan" to be tacked onto my mortgage.

I asked her what public safety she meant.

She referenced the same crazed driving I discussed above.

To which I asked, "then isn't the solution to enforce traffic laws?"

To which she didn't reply.

I then asked her if her job was to force the Mayor's desires onto her constituents, and I said that my understanding was that she was supposed to take her constituents' views and advocate them before the Mayor and the full Council.

To which she once again didn't reply.

Seems to me that this is a slow-burn version of what Mayor Bing is proposing in Detroit.

Build Liberty from the Ground Up

from Darian Worden at C4SS: Build Liberty from the Ground Up

- Personal Liberty -

Creating a free world begins on the most personal level.

If you want to be effective at increasing freedom, your daily activity should be consistent with the principles of individual liberty.

Good people can slip into bad habits. This does not mean they must be condemned to forever be an enemy of freedom. But it does mean that self-improvement is necessary.

When you change yourself, you change the part of the world that you have the most influence over. And your changes will influence those you are in contact with.


- How well am I living up to the principles of liberty?

- Do I insist on relating and organizing on a consensual basis that respects individual dignity and desires?

- Do I obey others, or do I obey myself?

- Do I act as if other people should decide the purpose of my life?

- Do I act like other individuals should live for me, not for themselves?

- Do I act like my political, social, or economic rank entitles me to be obeyed?

- Do I hold individuals to different standards because of the categories that other people have thrust upon them – race, gender, sexual preference, immigrant status, etc?

- What can I do in my current situation to expand freedom? Should I put myself in a different situation?

more at Center for a Stateless Society

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Lend your eyes, ears, minds to Mike Flugennock for a moment.

...and read the essay linked here: This is what democracy looks like!

Companion cartoon:


Related post with interesting discussion afterward, over at SMBIVA:

Flugennock goes all Mencken on us!

...these are classic symptoms of a monetary squeeze

Dire Straits - Industrial Disease

Warning lights are flashing down at Quality Control
somebody threw a spanner and they threw him in the hole
there's rumors in the loading bay and anger in the town
somebody blew the whistle and the walls came down
there's a meeting in the boardroom they're trying to trace the smell
there's leaking in the washroom there's a stink in personnel
somewhere in the corridor someone was heard to sneeze
'goodness me goodness me Industrial Disease?
The caretaker was crucified for sleeping at his post
refusing to be pacified, it's him they blame the most
the watchdog's got rabies the foreman's got fleas
and everyone's concerned about Industrial Disease
there's panic on the switchboard, tongues in knots
some come out in sympathy some come out in spots
some blame the management and some the employees
everybody knows it's the Industrial Disease
The work force is disgusted downs tools and walks
innocence is injured, experience just talks
everyone seeks damages and everyone agrees
that these are 'classic symptoms of a monetary squeeze
on ITV and BBC they talk about the cuts
philosophy is useless theology is worse
history boils over there's an economics squeeze
sociologists invent words that mean 'Industrial Disease'
Doctor Parkinson declared 'I'm not surprised to see you here
you've got smokers cough from smoking, brewer's droop from drinking beer
I don't know how you came to get the Betty Davis knees
but worst of all young man you've got Industrial Disease'
he wrote me a prescription he said 'you are depressed
I'm glad you came to see me to get this off your chest
come back and see me later - next patient please
send in another victim of Industrial Disease'
I go down to Speaker's Corner I'm thunderstruck
they got free speech, tourists, police in trucks
two men say they're Jesus, one of them must be wrong
there's a protest singer he's singing a protest song - he says
'they wanna have a war to keep their factories
they wanna have a war to keep us on our knees
they wanna have a war to stop us buying Japanese
they wanna have a war to stop Industrial Disease
they're pointing out the enemy to keep you deaf and blind
they wanna sap your energy, incarcerate your mind
they give you Rule Brittania, gassy beer, page three
two weeks in Espana and Sunday striptease'
meanwhile the first Jesus says 'I'd cure it soon
abolish monday mornings and friday afternoons'
the other one's on a hunger strike he's dying by degrees
how come Jesus gets Industrial Disease?


related:  Joe Jackson -- I'm the Man

and unrelated to Industrial Disease, but related to Joe Jackson:

Joe Jackson -- Beat Crazy

Friday, May 7, 2010

Daily chuckle.

Joe Bageant's got a new essay telling us he's leading not the Tea Party but the Cocktail Party.

Al Schumann spikes the punch at the Meritocrat Meringue party.

IOZ mocks the wheelchair-bound Harvard-educated shrink-turned-spitevector.

...more to come, probably. It's Friday after all.

...okay, here's an update... an image found at Suburban Anarchist.  I like this one.  Click to full-size:

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Steepness in Bulgaria

Oh yeah.

When I was a kid, my mother was a fan of astrology, and had a copy of the book Linda Goodman's Sun Signs. I still remember reading about my star sign at around age 11 or so, and the saying that people under my sign seem to age in reverse, being serious and mature when young, and getting more playful as they age. I don't put much stock in astrology other than as a time-passing curiosity, but I notice that compared to most guys my age I am definitely more athletic, more into risk-taking in my chosen sports (skiing and mtn bike riding), and generally more courageous now than when I was in my late teens, which is the typical time for most pig-headed risk-taking. My risk-taking these days is more studied and methodical -- I have worked hard to develop my skiing and riding skills, and they are both at the levels they are because of a lot of devotion to technique.

One of the things I've still not yet done is race DH on a mtn bike. I think that's going to change during the next year or two.

Several years ago, I discovered that I really like steep, technical trails and I decided to build one in order to improve my skills on such trails, specifically on difficult off-camber turns in steep terrain. I built a trail that scared a number of my riding friends when I took them on it. I'm always looking for well-made steep trails and my favorite DH racing videos are the ones covering years where the World Cup included such steep technical tracks as Schladming.

Shambhala mountain in Bulgaria looks plenty steep and fun.

Chest-mount camera version:

Crashing "economies" -- today's selections.

Reality Zone -- US Dollar Doomsday Crash 2010

Archive Fire -- Greece in a Transitional World

The Crow's Eye -- Greek Questions

Club Orlov -- The American Chernobyl

American Leftist -- The Black Goats**


**Note here, there's a reference to financial rating entity Moody's. Moody's and AM Best are the two most well-known financial rating entities -- or at least they were during the period of 1990-2003, when I worked as an insurance lawyer. Part of what I used to do in that insurance company work was insurance company acquisition, which is basically a regulatory process. One of the few key points on which state insurance regulators examine such acquisitions is whether the acquiring company will be financially harmed somehow by the practices, obligations, outstanding claims, or book of coverage business in the company being acquired. State regulators rely in part on the ratings performed by AM Best and Moody's. When later I worked in-house for a small insurance company, I discovered that these supposedly detached, objective rating entities can be persuaded to upgrade a rating with a few nice bits of schmoozing entertainment -- like a nice expensive dinner after a good round of golf. So much for objectivity.

Anyone wonder why The Obamessiah is giving us Bush/Cheney's 3rd Term?

Well, wonder no more.

Top Recipient of Political Cash from BP, Goldman Sachs, Defense Contractors AND Healthcare Giants: Barack Obama

tip o' the hat to Corrente

And the sickening presence of Rahm Emanuel surely isn't any help.

Vote or Die (Part 8.5)

The Oxtrot Medal in Political Mathematics...

...is hereby awarded to Jack Crow, for this excellent demonstration:

How Stuff Works

Bueno, Sen~or Crow. Muy bueno!

Here piggy piggy. Here piggy piggy. Snort for us, piggy!

Anyone who reads my satire at Progressive Reports Now knows that I don't have a soft spot for firedoglake, which I lampoon over at PRN under the name icecatpond.

However, this latest entry at Hamsherville caught my eye, because it tracks three related subjects, all of which are crucial issues for me: (1) reasons to decriminalize cannabis; (2) my admiration for dogs and hatred for those who abuse dogs; and (3) my dislike (and that's putting it mildly) for the Po-Po.

So here's Bill Clinton-worshiper Jane Hamsher, with the story --

SWAT Team Kills Dog With Child Present, Arrest Father In Misdemeanor Marijuana Bust

Incidentally, the comments thereafter --their narrowness, their ignorance, their rank stupidity-- is a big reason why I lampoon Hamsherville. Notice the emphasis on reforming cannabis laws with tax & regulate. It's like they can't imagine treating cannabis in a hands-off manner, because they're (1) terrified of the repercussions due to imagining unlikely results; and (2) their only solution to most everything is bigger government, more regulation. Which is why I mock them.

And here comes the caboose!

In an earlier post I talked about the corruption I witnessed while serving as an environmental planner working on air pollution reduction for the Washington, DC metro area.

Now comes the shocking revelation (raised eyebrows / exaggerated wink) that bribery is commonplace, when representing clients before local governments in Maryland:
Lawyer Tells Federal Judge Political Bribes Common Place

The Washington Post ran an interesting article about a Baltimore based attorney who filed a brief in federal court saying a politician’s request for donations in exchange for a political favor or vote was not unlawful and happens daily. Attorney Daniel Karp a name partner at Karpinski Colaresi & Karp in Baltimore filed the motion in the civil matter American Hospitality Management, LLC v. Prince George’s County Maryland, et al. Karp and an associate represent Prince George’s County and several members of the County Council including Tony Knotts who the lawsuit accuses of trying to shakedown American Hospitality Management for political donations in exchange for a vote on approval of a county lease.
There's more to the story following the link, please go read the whole thing.

And after reading it, note this: my former boss was trying to ride the coat-tails of Parris Glendening, who at the time was Executive of which Maryland county? Can you remember?

Prince George's County. That's right.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Paperless Office

One of my chief points of unease regarding the American justice system is the move toward electronic facsimile evidence, otherwise known as "paperless" systems.

The main problem is that if the government is in charge of "justice" and is the repository of all evidence related to litigation -- our chosen method of meting out "justice" -- then there is a serious problem of potential evidence tampering. An electronic file is far easier to manipulate than a paper document.

I could write a lengthy explanation of what I'm referring to here, but I think there is an easier explanation by example available on hulu.com, in a recent episode of the televised science fiction series V.

In the episode Hearts and Minds, the Visitors have created a false-flag "terrorism" strike by putting human corpses on a shuttle that the Fifth Column (anti-V) insurgents shoot down with a portable missile. The Fifth Column people have been told by an inside source on the Visitors' home ship that the shuttle will be carrying "tracker" Vs to Earth. These tracker Vs are tasked with finding the Fifth Column members, to mark them for assassination.

Anna, the leader of the Vs, finds out through a weasel of a human reporter named Chad that the Fifth Column plans to shoot down the shuttle. She concocts the false-flag by putting human skeletons and corpses on the shuttle, to give the appearance of the Fifth Column murdering human passengers.

The Fifth Column members who are going to shoot down the shuttle, they do not know this. After they shoot down the shuttle, they comb the wreckage briefly and see human bodies. Several of them are distraught because they realize the wrongdoing of killing humans rather than Vs.

One of the Fifth Column members is an FBI agent named Erica Evans. Erica is back at her office reviewing the files taken from the crash investigation, and she notes a photograph of skeletal remains that indicates the skeleton was not alive when the shuttle was blown up by the Fifth Column missile. However, as she is examining the digital file on her computer, it is suddenly deleted.

As it turns out, there is a planted V who is in Erica's FBI section, and this planted V is the person who destroys the electronic proof of the skeleton planted on the shuttle, which creates the false-flag.

Think about that. And then think about whether you'd want to have hard-copy photographic prints, or electronic files that are easily manipulated, in a case where you're accused of something and your exonerating proof is a series of photographs.

Oil spill, shmoyle swill... NO PROBLEM!

Prof Crispy has a... ahem... shall we say... unique take on the platform/rig spill of oil in the Gulf of Mexico. As I read him, he suggests that it's not the problem trumpeted because oil isn't man-made, it's nature-made, and man has just released it -- and therefore, calling it "pollution" is an artificial demonizing... or something like that.

To which I replied in his comment thread:
And thus, we should stop whining about the destruction inherent in man's simple release of a natural substance.

The same could be said for nuclear weaponry, which merely harnesses the energy inherent in nature and then releases it. Yes, it's a deep shame that the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were plagued with the deleterious mutations, corporal disfigurations, lethal irradiations of that release of nature's energy on such a large scale, but it was natural after all and therefore not really a problem but for our hubris striving to make it such a problem.
Someone should give me a job as empire's apologist. Look at those rationalizations I created out of the ether!

Bob Mould - Black Sheets of Rain

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Huw hews with Hughes toward Hawes, haw haw haw

Last night I scootered over to Wastings and rented a pair of move-eyes, When Nietzsche Wept and Avatar. The former I rented out of curiosity, as some time back I'd read the Irvin Yalom novel on which it's based, and wondered what sort of movie could be made about a story that takes place more in the psyche than in the external visually oriented world.

The latter I rented because --probably obviously-- there has been so much said about its message and its technological glossiness. My curiosity was greater on Avatar and so I started watching it late, around 10:45 pm, wondering if it would put me to sleep or keep me awake.

I'll be blunt and say right up front that I liked Avatar. I can see the weak points that I'd attack if I hadn't connected with the movie's images or its message, and maybe in another mood, at a different point in my life (read: when younger and more yuppified), I'd be inclined to mock the bludgeon of morality Cameron wields like Oghren wields a warhammer. I might criticize the overwhelming-by-computerized-animation that is another form of battery-on-audience worked by Cameron. But these weren't problems for me as I watched.

Why? Because the movie connected to some visceral, emotional currents within me. The ways in which the natives connected with animals and plants really grabbed me; their holistic view resonated with me.

Giovanni Ribisi was suitably hate-able, as was Stephen Lang.

The main character, the Aussie dude whose Aussie accent slipped through sometimes, was apparently This Generation's Mel Gibson -- not exactly a great actor, not exactly convincing, but a fairly believable Everyman.

What I can't figure out is how heavily Cameron borrowed from Mary Doria Russell's Children of God. I haven't seen that novel attributed anywhere in my meagre e-searching on Cameron's Avatar but the connections seem very clear to me. Maybe it's just an odd synchronicity.

Anyway, I liked the movie. It grabbed me. Sure, I could pick it apart if I wanted to, but I enjoyed it. I'll probably watch it again.

Monday, May 3, 2010


Heartless Bastards - The Mountain

Wussy - Wussy

Ass Ponys - Electric Rock Music

Jim Kunstler wants you to commit suicide-by-cop

Whenever Jim Kunstler's talking about architecture, "urban planning," or the suburbanization of America, I find myself agreeing with almost everything he says. But when he switches gears and gets into observing the problems with American governmental action, he starts showing himself to be less well-informed, and to my mind, less well-intended.

Today's Clusterfuck Nation entry starts off with a big episode of foot-in-mouth:
Senator Levin pretty much had Goldman Sach's Lloyd Blankfein dead in a casket with that now-notorious email from GS's head of sales and trading, Tom Montag, describing one of their billion-dollar investment "products" as "one shitty deal." Levin seemed to delight in crossing the boundary into the realm of the unspeakable, knowing that even the so-called "family" newspapers and cable TV networks would have to report it. And just to make sure nobody missed the point, the senator repeated that phrase at least twenty times before the day was over. It was like the climactic scene in that old Hammer Films classic, The Horror of Dracula, where Professor Van Helsing moves from coffin to coffin pounding stakes through the hearts of Drac and all his fellow bloodsuckers.
Despite Kunstler's yeoman-like efforts at plumping Carl Levin, Levin is conducting theatre and not vigorously prosecuting serious crimes. The supposed "smoking gun" email Kunstler references, it's hardly meaningful to anyone except those who, like Kunstler, simply want to believe that Carl Levin is knocking 'em out of the park. Levin's gambit reads to me like this: he wants to "expose" GoldSacks "mismanagement," instead of spotlighting the pure greed that controls Wall Street. Getting down to the level of examining the greed impetus would, of course, require examining how far that impetus reaches, who it affects, whose fortunes and careers are driven by it. And in that examination, we'd have to note Carl Levin hasn't exactly been working to unseat the power and privilege of the banking and investment classes.

Further down in the essay, Kunstler starts comparing American 2010 to France 1789 and is suggesting that it's time to attack the wealthy -- this summer, while they languor in their fancy houses in the Hamptons:
I continue to wonder how it will all go down this summer in the Hamptons where, like Versailles in 1789, the elite mega-wealthy of today cavort shamelessly in a semi-private fantasy-land of status vamping for the Vanity Fair shutterbugs. The Hamptons are not defensible -- unless you count privet hedge as an effective fortification. Any bloody-minded gang of unemployed, grievance-maddened mudlarks can creepy-crawl down the Sunrise Highway to Gin Lane with firearms bought at the WalMart (and modified to full-automatic in the garage). What if hundreds -- thousands! -- of them get the same idea? Louis XVI and his homeys probably never thought the mobs would scale the ha-has of his fabulous estate, either.
For an ex-hippie who's a good decade older than me, Kunstler seems to find it difficult to remember that Kent State yielded 4 dead, and the 40 years hence have found the police increasingly militarized, the mercenary forces ramped up at home, and the National Guard itching to have a reason to open fire.

Which looks to me like Kunstler is suggesting that a bunch of people rush out to commit suicide-by-cop, so that Kunstler will have something to write a book about. Will Kunstler himself wander down to the Hamptons, gun in hand, bloodthirst rising in his throat? Will he take the easier route of heading down to the much nearer Saratoga Springs where the wealthy play their pony-racing, with Kunstler spilling the blood of the elites instead of spilling Bloody Marys?

Chris Hedges again gives a lapdog a good rodgering.

UPDATE below.

Last time I paid attention to a Chris Hedges essay I had a mixed feeling of nausea and scant optimism. The nausea was from --among other things, but this was the worst-- watching Hedges screw the pooch with his offered thoughts on what is "anarchy."

This time
he's giving the old slap-&-tickle to yet another lapdog:

arf! arf! I'm wee Denny Kucinich! arf! arf!

Witness Hedges:
Last Thursday I traveled to Washington to join Rep. Dennis Kucinich for a public teach-in on the wars. Kucinich used the Capitol Hill event to denounce the new request by Barack Obama for an additional $33 billion for the war in Afghanistan. The Ohio Democrat has introduced H. Con Res. 248, with 16 co-sponsors, which would require the House of Representatives to debate whether to continue the Afghanistan war. Kucinich, to his credit, is the only member of Congress to publicly condemn the Obama administration’s authorization to assassinate Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen and cleric living in Yemen, over alleged links to a failed Christmas airline bombing in Detroit. Kucinich also invited investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill, writer/activist David Swanson, retired Army Col. Ann Wright and Iraq war veteran Josh Stieber to the event.

* * *
Most of the audience of about 70 were peace activists who, as is usual at such events, were joined by a motley collection of conspiracy theorists who believe 9/11 was an inside job or that former Sen. Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash, was assassinated. Scahill and Swanson provided a litany of disturbing statistics that illustrated how corporations control all systems of power. Corporations have effectively taken over our internal security and intelligence apparatus. They run our economy and manage our systems of communication. They own the two major political parties. They have built a private military. They loot the U.S. Treasury at will. And they have become unassailable. Those who decry the corporate coup are locked out of the national debate and become as marginalized as Kucinich.
Yeah, Kucinch is really marginalized... so "marginalized" that he got a personal invitation to fly with The Obamessiah and thereafter announce in a well-orchestrated press conference that he, too, was going along with the health care "reform" plan. Which, incidentally, is a corporate plan... as long as Hedges pretends to be pissed off at the corporate influences, at least he should acknowledge that Kucinich is a corporate puppet too.

But no. Kucinich is... Marginalized!

That Chris Hedges sure does know how to copulate with canids!

And watch out for those conspiracy theorists, they may cause you to question Official Truths!


You have to admire how Hedges shows his "insider" status by dropping the names of all those "important" pseudo-radicals. David Swanson! Jeremy Scahill! Ann Wright!

Scahill has done good work on Blackwater/Xe -- but only so long as the blame can be tied to Bush/Cheney. Scahill has a lot less stamina when it comes to linking the merc forces to Our Obamessiah. UPDATE: Witness here, where Scahill's latest makes almost no effort to discuss Erik Prince's work for the Obama Administration, and spends much time talking about evil Rethuglicans.

Swanson? If he actually has a spine, I'd like to see proof. Dude looks to me like his biggest aim in life is to have a cool reputation as a "progressive" journalist.

Ann Wright? Another person who was vehemently anti-war when Bush was POTUS, but is relatively silent now that Our Obamessiah is lord and master of Our Imperial Forces Abroad.

Has Jeremy Scahill criticized Obama?

How about David Swanson?

And Ann Wright, what has she said critically about Obama?


Lack of focus

Here's a cycling metaphor for the average American's ability to see what is happening at the Fed Govt and Wall Street levels (uhhh... was that redundant?). Click on the image to get full-size.

photo by yrs trly, Sept 19 2004, SHEC-land. can't remember who the rider is.


No more participating in "facebook," as my 1.5 year experiment has resulted in this: I find it useless where it should be useful, informationally insecure where it should be private, and greedy where it should be parsimonious. Mostly, though, I'm just tired of it. Alas, little Zucky, your tentacles could not keep me long enough to drain me of all informational nutrients for your little enterprise. Sorry about that one, pal.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Obnoxious Totalitarian Bullshit -- from your friendly Democrats!

When I was in law school, back during the dark ages of president Ronald Wilson Reagan, I took a number of electives that continued my collegiate liberal arts core. One such subject was jurisprudence, the study of a society's system of "justice."

The teacher for that class was an interesting Jesuit priest named Daniel Degnan, S.J. Father Degnan had a great teaching style, expansive and practical at the same time. Like most every other Jesuit priest I had known (meaning: in college), he was very smart, well-read, friendly, encouraging, and a great teacher.

To give you an idea of the way Fr Degnan taught, I'll try to recite from memory the books we used in that semester-long class:

Aristotle -- Nicomachean Ethics
St Thomas Aquinas -- Summa Theologica
John Stuart Mill -- On Liberty
Jeremy Bentham -- The Principles of Morals and Legislation
H.L.A. Hart -- The Concept of Law
John Finnis -- Natural Law and Natural Rights

I think that's the whole list, though we did discuss other views on jurisprudence.

One of the things that stood out in my mind then, and stayed with me to the present, was Jeremy Bentham's view on how to deal with "criminals." Bentham imagined an "ideal" system of imprisonment, which he called the panopticon. I remember being chilled by the power Bentham sought in this vision of the panopticon. Bentham didn't care about finding the roots of "criminal" behavior; instead he wanted to round up all "criminals" and subject them to constant scrutiny, a total removal of their privacy, a complete debasement of their selves.

Please wander over to visit my friends at Stop Me Before I Vote Again and check out their latest entry called The Pwog panopticon, which addresses a new legislative proposal by Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer for a national ID card.

If you are the sort who is so terrified of life among other Americans that you insist on giving your privacy and freedom to travel straight over to the Fed Government, I have some news for you: you and I are not friends. We may have been friends at one time, in some other setting. But now, the line has been drawn in the sand.

This is the sort of thing that prompts people to start wondering when they should either consider taking up arms, or imagine leaving the country for some other land where individual rights and privacy are better respected.


related reading:

Feds Fighting War on Immigration Like War on Drugs

Thoughts on shorthand

Language can be a great tool for communicating ideas. Language also has its limitations.

I was thinking of this on Wednesday as I was letting my dog run in a nearby park. Another person came up to the park, she had her dog with her, and her dog and mine began to play. We started talking about dogs and the difficulty of being a dog-owner in a town where dogs once were welcomed, but now, with the influx of yuppies and "professionals," the town is cracking down on dogs.

It used to be that dogs could be fairly well off-leash, as long as the dog's human could keep the dog "under control" with vocal commands or cues. But lately the City Council has been cracking down, under complaints from the terrified City Slickers who have moved here with notions that the only good dog is a leashed bioaccessory micro-dog (the kind I call "imitation cats"). The result of this is that the one park in town designated as a "dog park" has become a sort of crazed free-for-all where the limitations of human-dog interaction play out regularly.

I don't often take my dog to that park for a few reasons, one of which is that it's distant and I'd have to drive her there, but the main reason is the way in which people seem to misunderstand the human-dog interaction. I'm always struck by how many dog owners think dogs naturally hear, understand and obey Human English. I've had to break up dogfights among others' dogs because an aggressive, unruly dog will be putting the hurt on a smaller, more submissive dog while the Alpha dog's owner is standing by, watching, and saying "Please don't do that, Arfy! Arfy, please stop!" or the like.FN

The assumption of these naive humans is that the dog automatically understands Human English. The naivete is in failing to grasp the point that what dogs respond to is a sonic cue mixed with the human leader's behavioral cue. Dogs are trained by repeating a sound while giving the dog a behavioral suggestion, such as saying "Sit!" while pressing down gently on the dog's hindquarters. The dog isn't responding to the Human English word "Sit" as much as it is responding to the sound it hears when the human says "Sit!" combined with the physical suggestion to drop its hindquarters.

But apparently this is all too much work for the average dog owner, who'd prefer to simply assume that the dog needs the appropriate Human English command, and somehow magically the dog will translate that command into action. It's difficult for me to watch -- I love dogs, I find them interesting creatures with an incredible capacity for love and loyalty, but they need some gentle guidance to be good human companions, most of them. And a lot of humans seem ill-equipped to provide such guidance.


Humans seem to suffer this same problem when relating to each other. I'm struck by the limitations of the use of the term "progressive," which in some circles means "cool person with great ethics and morals" and in other circles means "radical working for change." In still other circumstances it can mean "mainstream Democrat who knows the proper politically correct lingo."

But as far as I'm concerned, it means this:


and it doesn't matter to me whether the "progressive" wears the coolest "outdoor lifestyle" clothing (Arc'teryx, anyone?), drives a technomarvel hybrid (hello, Prius!), subscribes to the proper periodicals ("The Nation is practically my Bible!"), lives in the trendy part of town ("I live in Adams-Morgan"FN2), or sends her kids to a Montessori or Waldorf school.

Yes, that's right. I'm suggesting "progressive" is simply a pose, a bland pose adopted by people who are trapped in a partisan paradigm of Democrat vs Republican.

In the "progressive" world, supporting any of these things will constitute the equivalent of sharing a secret handshake in social gatherings:

* gay marriage

* abortion rights

* more regulation

* "green" economy

* sidewalks

* leash laws for dogs

* tax-and-regulate cannabis control

* no restrictions on cell phone use while driving, other than "hands-free" mandates

* public housing with free satellite TV, hardwood floors, solar panels, and generally better conditions than almost every non-"professional" can afford in the same town

* business development districts

* more roads

* "ethnic" restaurants with expensive pricing (read: not burrito places)

* Jon Stewart, Rachel Maddow, Stephen Colbert, Al Franken

* Peace in the Middle East by punishing "those rock-throwing Palestinians," not by forcing Israel to back off to the 1947 boundaries

...I could go on for a while, but I think you get the picture.

What I'm suggesting is that most "progressives" I know seem to think that the only thing we need to do to fix America's socio-economic-political problems is to get more "progressives" into power. But at the same time, "progressives" are far more concerned with how they appear to others, than they are with how to actually achieve changes. They are poseurs, in other words. They think that buying the right stuff, wearing the right clothes, driving the right car is all we need to do to make meaningful changes.

They are like the dog owners who think the dog understands Human English without training. They think the American society will be changed by symbols, rather than work.

Poor pwoggies.

But worse... poor US!


FN -- It reminds me a lot of the "parenting" followed by Pwog adults with small kids, where the Pwog adults think that the kids instantly understand and respect an adult-style logic-lecture on why certain behaviors are bad. These "enlightened" Pwog parents apparently are too smart to bother reading about child psychology, and don't understand that kids can't even begin to understand logical rationale until age 7 or 8. A calm, adult-style conversation with an unruly 4 year old is about as effective as simply standing back and letting the 4-year-old do as he/she wishes. And that's often how it plays out.

FN2 -- Adams-Morgan was a trendy neighborhood of Washington, DC when I lived in DC in the 1990-91 time frame, and living there was a badge of honor among certain kinds of Democrats I knew in my travels as an environmental planner.