Monday, April 14, 2014

States Rights

So I'm trying to picture some guy in Connecticut reading about this Nevada standoff and going "armed militias" ? WTF? Isn't "armed militias" something they have in Beirut, in Syria, or the Ukraine? Oh yeah, no, we got armed militias out here ( I live in Montana) and they act with impunity. They got the NRA and most of the legislators rooting for them. Remember Oklahoma City and the Nichols brothers? They would win if they ran for county commission where I live. These people live on high alert and they are networked. A few tweets and a couple calls and you got firepower backing you up. Lots of em have bunkers full of food and ammunition and they are READY for whatever comes. Now imagine that some left wingers converged "in the hundreds", armed and threatening law enforcement officials. Think any of them would be alive? Of course it is far from over, as much as the "Patriots" might be celebrating. They all got their picture taken, they can all expect an IRS audit and no-fly lists and a hundred different ways to make your life miserable. Still, I'm kind of jealous. Lefties would take two months to build consensus over what their signs should say. And now it makes more sense how polite and appreciative the police were on Sunday at our coal train protest. Seven people getting arrested for non-violent civil disobedience is a walk in the park compared to confronting a couple hundred well armed cowboys, many of whom were probably trained by the Marines.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Simply Shocked

The usual array of "progressives" are voicing their collective outrage at the latest Supreme Court decision around money as "free speech". John Nichols,Robert Reich, Charles Pierce, etc all wrote pieces expressing shock and dismay at this blow to capitalist democracy. I'm sure Bill Moyers is busy putting together a whole show on the travesty. Why if only we had a five -four majority of liberals, they moan, we could have gotten money out of politics and saved our precious capitalist democracy. Guess we'll just have to work harder at getting liberals elected and sign more petitions and bring more lawsuits. Sound at all familiar? This should because I use it regularly: "Just as the scorpion htreatened by fire shoots its own venom into itself, democracy encircled by the flames of free market economic and the new world order pumps the searing venom of corruption into its veins." Jean Baudrillard Nobody is saying global capitalism is a free market system but the point is even more extreme when speaking of Chomsky's "real existing capitalist democracy" with all its state intervention. My belief is that you could actually take all the money out so-called "politics" and it wouldn't change a damn thing in terms of power. We The People have so thoroughly internalized capitalist ideology that We would vote down any expansion of social provision without the Koch Brothers lifting a finger. Please, the people beg, crush me with greater austerity, for I am not worthy. Only the Invisible Hand In All Its Glory can deliver us from evil. We love freedom and the greatest freedom is freedom from our own Desire.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

More Pathology

It is generally said that doing the same thing and expecting different results is a hallmark of insanity but if that's the case, most of the world is insane. I would suggest this syndrome is just a pathology, but a mass pathology particular to our historical moment. For instance, I met with some local "progressives" about doing an Earth Day celebration with the theme of climate change . For decades these good people have been promoting individual, local solutions like recycling and solar panels and organic gardening while avoiding all talk of system change or Market failure. Too divisive, too aggressive, they say. I suggested we talk about coal export and the Tar Sands but they were more comfortable talking about farmers markets. Meanwhile the rate of greenhouse gas emissions continues to climb. Then there are the folks fighting money in politics. They continue with their petitions and legal challenges decade after decade. They don't want to talk about the contradiction inherent in the term capitalist democracy because that would be too divisive, cause too much heartburn. So when the supreme court takes the billionaire's money and rubs it in their face and shoves it down their throats till they choke they break out another petition and mount another legal challenge. Then there are the young folks I met with last night who are fighting mega-loads and Keystone XL and who want to continue doing what they have been doing for decades, setting up action camps, chaining themselves to bulldozers, getting arrested a couple at a time. Mention a new tactic and they nod and say sure, but first we have to have another isolated, independent protest and chain ourselves to a bulldozer. Everyone seems to be addicted to losing. Quite frankly, it is easier than winning and less risky.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Age of Oblivious

This is the dawning of the Age of Oblivious When Crimea is in Putin's House And Germany aligns with Tartars Natural Gas will rule the Planet And Cash will guide the Stars Everybody's vaguely worried or upset about some damn thing, about fraud, about oligarchs, about inequality or crappy service. A lot of folks around the world are tired of corruption, ready to do something about corruption. The Maidan Revolutionaries, the Occupy Protestors (?) the Indignados, all want to get "money out of politics" or bribery out of commerce. This is what Baudrillard has to say: "Just as the scorpion threatened by fire shoots its own venom into itself, democracy encircled by the flames of free market economics and the new world order pumps the searing venom of corruption into its veins." The fight against "corruption" could also be said to be an instance where the state "offers us a form of resistance that operates as capitalism's own recuperative frame... it offers an avenue for rebellion that loops back to support the goals of capitalist accumulation." In his article "Putin's Counter Revolution" in London Review of Books 8, author James Meek quotes a Maidan doctor : "We did it to change the system, and for the struggle against corruption, so that the whole Ukrainian people , in Dumbass, in Crimea, got up off their knees and fought against corruption..." They left the Market in charge and think they can "fight corruption". Obscurity reigns while "everybody's building Ships and Boats" The PT Barnum Billionaires, the Trumps and Richard Bransons and Russian Tycoons, they love having everybody come out "against corruption" as it ideologically reinforces the narrative of hard working entrepreneurs.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Voting vs Democracy

Crimea votes its way back to the Motherland and the Markets celebrate. Not hearing a lot from old "Flat Earth" Friedman these days about his frictionless, post-ideological paradise of techno-management. One can see how bad the Ruskies are quaking in their boots over "sanctions", I expect the Europeans will suggest having another referendum, much as they did when Ireland voted against joining the EU in 2008. Maybe next time the pesky people will vote "correctly". It is much the same argument the opposition in Venezuela uses: The people can not be trusted to vote correctly so other means must be employed. Like a giant media campaign. Unfortunately for them, their timing was terrible as the news cycle has been a bit flooded with other events. Maybe the "implosion" Beak is looking for is in the Chinese real estate market? There have been warnings about a bubble for some time but who really worries about bubbles anymore? Inflation is the real foe! Went and saw poor old Andrew Bacevich speak the other night. I could basically just copy and paste my comments from the last time I saw him five years ago, same shtick, same worn out "ten-point plan to end US militarism. Last but certainly not least, the American Association for the Advancement of Science issues a new report today outlining the threat posed by climate change. This time they are using "clear, simple language", no words over two syllables, a video by a kindergarten teacher, bright colors etc.. They still think its a rational problem of communication.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Situation Room

Well, well, interesting couple of weeks. There is an oft quoted saying by Mao: "There is great chaos under heaven, the situation is excellent!" - that I wish were true in our current unravelling but one wonders... I just wish there was a team I could root FOR! Ever since Tahrir Square it's been nothing but murky, shadowy, games within a game. I know what drives people out into the streets and into the square, they want a half-way decent, dignified life, if not for them, at least for their children. But once you get to the Streets or the Square, then the complications set in. The old archaic, medieval hatreds and prejudices, the nasty History and Identity and Ideology, and then mix in the covert psy-ops and propaganda of those hoping to manipulate and co-opt... Shit stew! Course we know about the Great Game scramble for spheres of influence and strategic interest, nothing mysterious there. And we know about the crisis of global capitalism, both it's diminishing legitimacy and the vicious scramble for energy and resources which is just a feedback loop for the Game. But what about the sheer scale of corruption on display! "Just as the scorpion threatened by fire shoots its own venom into itself, democracy encircled by the flames of free-market economics and the new world order pumps the searing venom of corruption into its veins." Jean Baudrillard It actually seems to be getting easier to oust governments (in the periphery), get the police and the military over to your side, turn the guns around, storm the palace and watch the oligarch flee. The tricky part is what to do next? Here, have a looted, broke, divided country, it's yours, good luck!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

National Pentagon Radio (NPR)

Is NPR more propaganda than it used to be or was I just not paying attention before? I sat through a piece the other morning on Health Care that was unbelievable. The woman interviewed said she had to go to the emergency room for a procedure and was shocked by her out-of-pocket expenses (deductable, co-pay, etc) which made her a better CONSUMER of health care. Because now she questions the doctors recommended procedures and prescriptions! As a wise CONSUMER she goes online to decide for herself if she can get something cheaper in THE MARKETPLACE. I swear they used the word consumer a dozen times and never once referred to the woman as a patient. Once again the Invisible Hand is going to deliver cheaper goods and services and all you have to do is second guess your doctor. You can spend countless hours doing research (because what else do you have to do) and become a smart shopper and find something cheaper that you hope works just as well. Then I go to public television and listen to Gwen Ifil interview Carl Meacham who is a Fellow at a Thinktank called The Center For Strategic International Studies which has ties to Pete Peterson and Henry Fucking Kissinger. Carl has a lot of skin pigment and tells us how democratic the opposition in Venezuela is (with a straight face). Next I thumb through The Atlantic and see an ad by Fidelity Investments touting An Entrepreneurial Approach to Solving the Global Water Crisis. The "approach" involves privitizing water so that same Invisible Hand can decide if you get to fill your jug and survive another day. At the same time The Hand will be deciding the spot price for sweet crude and coal and less sweet crude. One busy hand.