Monday, March 29, 2010

Days of rage

Folks is mighty upset! Some Christian militia was all set to start The Final Battle but now they are looking for a good lawyer. Most right-wing sites are trying to ignore it although I found one who said the members were just being picked on for having "different ideas". Which is true. Sort of like Hitler was picked on for having "different ideas". Another Truth is, their manifesto is not so different from what I read on Craig Bardos site, not so different from our local Celebrating Conservatism or so different from what most Republican congressmen will say on the House floor. My project to focus on liberals and "progressives" has been derailed and the local group forming to fight right-wing extremism got a shot in the arm. Oh well.


This piece by Frank Rich http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/28/opinion/28rich.html?th&emc=th takes a shot at cultural analysis,viewing the health care rage as just a symbol of unresolved tension over civil rights, affirmative action, Vietnam, changing racial demographics, feminism, gays, religious scepticism, hippies, etc etc.. I think that is a needed analysis but as I have been arguing, some of this angst goes back to the Civil War and Federalism and all the way back to Jefferson, equality and liberty. We never really "move on" because these buried antagonisms are left to fester.

My friend told me they had a dress up party at the local tavern on Saturday whose theme was Pimps and Ho's.So there is also the spread of cognitive disorder running into full blown mental illness which affects over half the population now. So that's a problem. I assume they got this from the Acorn video but these are all white working class heroes, dressed in camo and ball caps, publicly educated and totally unprepared for democracy. Tribalism, localism, small town Taliban. Lock and load. Sarah Palin will be speaking at the NRA National Convention in April with Ollie North. Could be a riot.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Trains and Busses

The late Howard Zinn said "you can't be neutral on a moving train" and I think it was Ken Kesey who said "You are either on the bus or off the bus". Both are statements about the necessity of eventually taking a position despite a lack of "pure" certainty and despite awareness of layers of contingency. I believe it was my dad who said "shit or get off of the pot."

I continue to call out Progressives, whatever that might now mean, and in fact they appear to be doing a little soul searching after the latest series of debacles. Bill Moyers co-authored an article called the Unbearable Lightness of Reform where he superficially tries to explain where reform always goes wrong and then invites reformers like Gretchen Morgan onto his show to explain banking reform or John Nichols to talk about health care reform.He quotes Ambrose Bierce on politics "the conduct of public affairs for private advantage" but then fails to examine the nature of "private". His is an incredible bully pulpit but it only exists because he never really threatens capital.This is his last season so he has little to lose.

John Atcheson has a piece called Why Progressives Always Lose, a sort of Lakoff rehash about "messaging" and "framing" and the "need to shatter myths" without mentioning capitalism or explaining just how myths are simply "shattered". David Sirota has one about The Difference Between Liberalism and Progressivism which is pretty facile and there's another one here ( commondreams.org, progressive headquarters) called What Progressives Must Learn From the Acorn Debate. Might I suggest right off that no "debate" actually exists?

Its a tough leap to make but a great deal rests on the ability of "progressives" to articulate how they envision capital being controlled or give up.I suggest they listen to people like Henry Giroux who suggests the new authoritarianism is "more nuance, less theatrical ( than old style totalitarianism) more cunning, less concerned with repressive modes of control than with manipulative modes of control."

Not that there isn't plenty of repression, only that it is reserved for Others, those Excluded to the outer periphery. Robert Jensen is not afraid to name it in his analysis of journalism at this moment. "This collapse ( of journalism) is part of a larger crises in the political and economic spheres, crises rooted in the incompatibility of democracy and capitalism."

Chris Hedges has been very forthright lately as has Pilger.Michael Moore is trying and
I'm not sure what Ishmael the Gorilla would say to all this materialist concern.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cat out of Bag

I came out of the shadows this morning on a local radio station and revealed that I was one of the folks behind the hoax I mentioned in the last couple of posts. The DJ was the one who sniffed it out and invited one of the participants on to explain what it was about.

And oh yeah, it was Fun! Makuum apatada or whatever that rodent said! Don't Worry, Be Happy! We put out 8000 glossy fliers announcing a free concert, sponsored by two corporations which just pulled out of town suddenly, leaving 500 Missoula workers high and dry. The DJ was the first to call it a hoax and then invited anyone from the "group" to come in and explain it all to the disgruntled dave mathews fans. We had a website, a phone number in Ohio and a spokesperson named Edwin Rose and the TV station, the newspaper and two radio stations picked it up. Local NPR did an interview with Ed Rose before we were busted.

The Yes Men were a big help on this with advice and contacts, they are the awesome masters and we the humble apprentices.Check out their movie Yes Men Save the WorldThe DJ asked if this really changes anything? Only the Shadow knows. but i do know this : "You got to mess with people!"

You can check it all out at www.thankyoumissoula.com

Monday, March 22, 2010

Whodunnit?

Turns out the Big Celebration was just an elaborate hoax. Who could have gone to such elaborate lengths? What possible motivations could they have had? I suspect we will soon find out!

Hillary will not be played by the Israelis like her husband was at Camp David. With Cheney and the neocons neutralized and the Evangelical Repubs in temporary disarray she may even hold that 3 billion in annual military assistance up to Netanyahu and make him do a little scrape and bow. K Street may be having some effect!

As for Health Care, the best reaction I've seen so far is Craig Bardos'. In his world, passage of this bill basically signals the end of civilization as we know it. If you thought what Joseph Goebbels could do with propaganda was an aberration, an historical anomaly; Not so. U.S. tribalism isn't quite there yet but I can envision these folks going all Rawanda on us if Beck and Limbaugh have their way. I mean, if this was such a victory for socialism, why aren't I happier?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thank You Missoula Concert

It sounds like Dave Mathews and Michael Franti will be playing in Missoula on May 1. I called Macys and its for real. Smurfit Stone and Macys are sponsoring it as a Celebration of thanks to the city and the workers. Cool.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Final Humiliation

The sad parade of progressives once again passes by, this time rationalizing or trying to explain the servile, compromising positions they have been forced to assume. Watching Kucinich go back on his health care pledge ( he told FiredogLake he'll return the money!) or Michael Moore answering Tavis Smileys question "what has your movie effected politically" is a study in anger and confusion. Ralph Nader or Bill Moyer or Jim Hightower can call for continued citizen mobilizations but the incredible disappointment that is Obama has sapped the energy of all but the most deluded sign wavers. Go to firedoglake.com to experience true progressive angst.

Its one thing if Daddy promises you a cookie if you clean up your room and then renegs.But if you were told that by mowing the lawn all summer you would go to Disneyland only to have dad laugh come September and call you a sucker, that is going to stick in the craw for a while.

Kucinich danced around the words "profit" and "markets" but could not mount a coherent critique because to do so means denouncing the entire system and admitting a la Greenspan that incremental legislative reform is a failed project.The others point to publicly financed elections as the magic key to a restored capitalist democracy but know in their hearts that Lady Gaga has a better chance of going to Washington at this juncture than "Mr. Smith,representative of the common man". The slow erosion of dignity is so hard to watch but they bring it upon themselves. Take all the money out of "politics", take away all the lobbyists and 'special interests" and it is the exact same kubuki dance. Idiot free market representatives will represent their idiot free market constituency, liberal Keynesians will represent liberal shareholders and small businessmen and coordinators and corporate Democrats will represent the corporate interests in their districts. Better healthcare maybe, but same wars and third world misery. All that obvious corruption just allows them to play good cop / bad cop. The structural inequality remains behind the veil.

Israel's settlements, Dodds pathetic "Bank Reform", the unions Employee Free Choice Act, mass teacher firings, snubbing of the Black Progressive Caucus, the humiliations continue to pile up for the Hopey Changey crowd. How much more can they take?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Messing With People

On Saturday a dozen or so of US went over to Helena where the Democrats have their annual self-congratulatory fund raiser dinner. Dressed as a catering company in white shirts and bow ties we accosted arrivees with platters of coal and clever little menus with appetizers such as coalamari and entrees like strip-mine steak.

First we had to make our way through a phalanx of Tea Party folks protesting tax and spend liberals, Obamacare, etc.. but other than a smattering of anti-trapping folk and ex-single payer types we were the only dissent from the left, as it were. ( Che Bob will like this - it was Komkowski and Kidder. They are now Progressive Democrats of America and their leaflet says we can "stop wars and occupations" by holding a "brown bag lunch vigil" at a senate or congressional office in your town. Talk about confrontation! Nothing scares Power like people eating lunch "on the third Wednesday of every month"!)

The official security types didn't like our presence and they kept pushing us back further and further, vaguely defining new borders of our "free speech zone", all very arbitrary and serious. One of our members had a fifty dollar ticket and tried to get in dressed as a lump of coal but was forcibly denied entrance and the lack of press made arrest seem valueless.We ended with a delicious "democracy dinner" in the freezing rain (thanks Suzie for the beet soup and salad) where we didn't have to listen to a clown governor give corporate apologies for planet rape.

The reaction was generally favorable with many well dressed liberals saying "good on ya", a few saying "get a job" and one guy taking a bite out of a piece of coal ?? The usual incoherence. The "biter" sort of reminded me of this guy Dow Chemical used to send around to high schools back in the sixties, where, before an auditorium packed with stoned American youth, he would eat spoonfuls of DDT to prove it's harmlessness. Now that I think back on it, there may have been a more subtle message attached to this demonstration, something like: Prepare to do Anything for Money Kids. This is the World You Will Live In!

These anti-coal actions will escalate in intensity. As with tobacco, there are many jobs and lots of investment tied up in Montana coal and it will be a hard addiction to break, but also like tobacco, coal is poison. Tragically, this poison kills not just the user. It kills innocent life and the future and of course capitalism will fight to the death to preserve its rule over it's own life blood, cheap, filthy energy.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Confidence Game

By any diplomatic standard what the Israelis did to Joe Biden was bold. Yesterday came the scolding by Hillary ( coming to hapless Joe's defence) saying "this action had undermined trust and confidence in the peace process and in Americas interests." The "action" was the increased "settlement" building in E. Jerusalem proposed as Joe was shaking Bebe's hand. This is on the one hand a clever way for Jews to remind us that it is anti-Semitic to stereotype Jews as "deceitful" or "clever" in any negative sense. The Israelis apologized saying the timing was unfortunate and certainly not intended to insult. We weren't implying that certainly!Heavens no.

Of course this settlement building is but one small fraction of the expropriation, theft and occupation going on each day and the Goldstone Report answered any questions of loyalty. This is theatre for NY Times readers and other liberals.

But I'm wondering about the "trust and confidence" that was supposedly undermined, I mean, really? Could you find four people on the earth that would express trust and confidence in anything political right now, much less the shell game being played out in the Middle east? Actually, "Confidence Game" is the perfect description and it is a classic. In classic economic theory we are all rational actors but "con men" figured out long ago that this fiction could work to their distinct advantage. Capitalism itself is a giant confidence game and even though all pretence of rationality is quickly dissolving it has adapted to exploit cynicism equally well. No one said it isn't a creative system! Another interesting con game is "good cop, bad cop" which is used effectively in every sphere of control.

Speaking of creative, the Texas school board has decided children need alternative theories taught next to the left wing propaganda their children now receive.For instance they replaced the word "capitalism" throughout their texts with the "free enterprise system". Under founding philosophers, Thomas Jefferson has been replaced with John Calvin. Remember, No child left behind, be it the Second Coming or Modern Times. Those kids will learn a lot about Uncle Milton Friedman and our (un) inalienable rights.

I wonder if Willie, Waylon and the Boys will weigh in on this. Or Ron Paul? Or Gregrandar? Remember the Alamo! Any time I get discouraged over our struggles here in Montana and consider the religiously ignorant people I will confront today I think "at least I'm not in Texas."

Here is some analysis from Pinky and the gang. Hat tip to the ever vigilant Che Bob.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

It's the Corporations!

I heard a very persuasive talk by Richard Grossman on Revoking Corporate Charters as a way to beat back the attack on our freedom and gain more citizen power. This theme has received a lot more play since the "United Citizens" Supreme Court case and interestingly, the Celebrating Conservatives had a critique of "corporatism" the other night that would probably align. In each case the object is to leave the "free enterprise" Market system intact but place regulatory limits on agents or in some way "downsize" or break up the monopoly power they have through their organizational model.

This is akin to the progressive movement to provide "free and fair" elections through public financing so that politics can become democratic. Two problems immediately jump out with these noble, well meaning efforts.The idea of returning nostalgically to a "better capitalism" of smaller entities is one, an a-historical fantasy and two, a practical impossibility. Pre-corporate capitalism had it's own barbaric forms and given the cultural, political and ideological hegemony of bureaucratic late capitalism, some feel-good legislation or court decision would soon be undermined by new strategies of dominance. C,mon! These folks are creative! They'll craft the legislation themselves! Bill gates will lecture them on responsibility! "Worker-friendly" small businesses will be trotted out by Obama and paraded around, recycling and picking up roadside trash.

Speaking of conservatives, I went to that Shaeffer Cox's website and he wrote a post titled "Down the Rabbit Hole" the same time I did! Different rabbits, different hole, but same feeling of surreal irrationality. He can't fathom why the mainstream media and the masses are fooled by the New World Order which to him is so obvious! I can't understand how he can be so paranoid about the wrong thing! Funny world, huh? His language is revealing: "I feel in my gut a resentment..." "I don't understand all the ins and outs..you shouldn't have to understand all that stuff.." It is a visceral,"common sense" type of reaction. Gut over mind. Very New Millenium and very appealing to those who want change at no risk.But what do I know.

I know bank stocks have surged 146% in the last year.I know a bill introduced in the Kentucky Legislature would encourage teachers to discuss "the advantages and disadvantages of scientific theories" including "evolution, the origins of life, global warming and human cloning". I know Lionel Tiger, a professor of Anthropology at Rutgers wrote "It is equally clear the pageant of Olympic medal-seeking rests on a HUMAN NATURE we share with primates and other animals- a white hot focus on hierarchy." And grooming our mates?

I know it is:
Winter in America
And aint nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows what to save Gil Scott-Heron

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Lived to Tell

The main street demo drew about fifty folk, most were weaponized including some cute ten year old girls who made the front page of the paper. Everybody gets their fifteen minutes in our egalitarian society! The NRA says the safest place to be is at a gun show which are more popular than rodeos or prairie dog shoots up in this neck of the woods.

This showing provoked the local "progressives" to call an emergency meeting which I used to promote my anti-capitalist critique, much to everyones dismay.They wanted an action plan to counter the conservatives but I insisted they confront their own complicit compromises to capitalist ideology and not worry about the armed wingers ( they always self destruct after a few months anyway. Their featured speaker for the May Convention was arrested Tuesday for beating up his wife) This went over like a coal-filled balloon. Yet another "association" I am unwelcome at.

Anyway, I am sticking to my guns! In The Art of Being Free : Taking liberties with Tocqueville, Marx and Arendt by Mark Reinhardt I am finding affirmation on the direction of thought I have taken since first stumbling into Hegemony and Socialist strategy by Mouffe and Laclau. The greatest source of oppression is de-politicization and this nostalgic project of restoration by both liberals ( restoring the Enlightenment) and conservatives ( restoring pre-industrial Constitutional capitalism) is a fantasy born of intellectual poverty. Freedom and equality must be pursued together, as difficult and tension filled as that is and I don't mean some totalizing "sameness", but equal access to political space and political POWER. Can't happen under capitalism. The art of being free means becoming adept at living in a contested, agonistic political community, not the communitarian dream of "harmony" or dissolved subjectivities.

Tocqueville also helps fill in the blanks regarding my debate with Gregrandar over "individualism": "Despotism, by it's very nature suspicious, sees the isolation of men as the best guarantee of it's own permanence." This regressive "ism" is a retreat and it's proponents ( Ayn Randers) lack the skills of both political collaboration and resistance. They never learn the Art.IndividualISM is a "misguided judgement " about the relationship of the individual to society and such a privitized subject is in jeopardy of falling under the worst forms of tyranny.

Finally we have his take on the Spectacle,the "orderly, gentle, peaceful slavery." This form of despotism confronts it's subjects as "an immense tutelary power which alone is responsible for securing their enjoyment and watching over their fate.That power is absolute, thoughtful of detail, orderly, provident and gentle.It likes to see the citizens enjoy themselves provided they think of nothing but enjoyment...It provides for their security...it does not break men's wills but softens, bends and guides it."

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Down the Rabbit Hole

I feel a little like I used to (long, long ago) waking up after a couple days eating peyote. Gonzo Magical Un-Realism is the only way to describes last nights gathering of Celebrating Conservatism. Once you get past the fact that most of the people around you are wearing side-arms and then listen to an eleven member family group sing Marty Robbins' Ballad of the Alamo, your brain is sufficiently softened up to listen to guest speaker Michael Shaw talk about Agenda 21: The Ultimate War. He looked and sounded just enough like George Carlin that I kept wondering if it wasn't all a farcical comedy routine but NO, he is as serious as a heart attack.

The house was packed at well over five hundred terrified rural citizens, mostly working class,average age 50 plus.I made the mistake of inviting my friend Robbie down to observe and he was unable to keep from giggling loudly when Shaw would call the Missoula Sustainable Business Roundtable a "soviet-style front group", part of a "fifth column" of public-private partnerships intent on imposing "globalism" ( world governance) on beleaguered Bitterrooters. This drew unwanted attention our way and we were photographed as we left which did not seem real "freedom loving" to me but what do I know, I'm a commie.

Shaw had managed to smuggle out a copy of the Global Biodiversity Assessment Report which showed "their" ( the UN, Corporatist, Globalist Cabal) intention to reduce human population to one billion where we would have to live in high-rises in coastal cities. They would not have garages and we would be forced to walk everywhere. When the old lady in front of me heard this evil plan she practically lost it. Nothing less than "A Totally Controlled Society" was THEIR goal and the totally controlled audience was told to watch out for "warm and fuzzy terms" like "affordable housing" ( actual meaning: tents!) "common good", "vision", "stakeholder"( a stake through the heart of private property!)

The intense speaker next warned us of the Three E's Pattern ( he has a whole research group which discovers this stuff!) and he paused for effect before unveiling the first Evil E; Equity! the second E was economy: using the World Bank, WTO etc to re-distribute Americas wealth to the worlds poor ( "using sociology to re-engineer humanity") by replacing the Free Enterprise System with "public-private partnerships". The THIRD E was Environment: imposing "centralized control" and the "abolition of private property" through "sustainable development".

He even had a philosophical element ( borderline intellectual?) saying the "Artificial Dialectic" of "manufactured outcome" led to tyranny. Objectivism? He sort of lost me on this one.
Because these people don't "do" irony their website has books like "How to Counter Group Manipulation Tactics" and "The End of Reason".No one in the crowd ever asks a question, it is all top down "education". None of this surprises me really, I knew I was surrounded by paranoid dimwits, but what is problematic is the stance on climate change, which they call "carbon eugenics". They are all over "climategate" and the Glen Beck bullshit and this will have very real consequences.

Today at noon is the rally on mainstreet to celebrate Right to Bear Arms Week so, assuming I can avoid a shoot-out, I will report back. Weirder and weirder, where it stops, no one knows! Come Back Hunter Thompson, we need you.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Freedom Riders

I just learned that the guest speaker at this months Celebrating Conservatism meeting ( tomorrow) is Michael Shaw from Freedom 21 Santa Cruz and as I have been arguing, his and the Conservative and Tea Party agenda is saving capitalism. You can find his speech at www.Freedom Advocates.org where he warns the crowd that the language of "sustainable development" is simply New World Order lingo for "population control and reduction", the taking of private property rights and destruction of the free enterprise system.

I have been debating local liberal Democrats who prefer to see racist roots in this movement because they can then combat it with a liberal "rights" discourse rather than have to focus on economics. No doubt there are religious, racial, even xenophobic elements to all this but my liberal friends hope to avoid the discussion of "free markets" because it puts them in the position of having to defend "Keynesian" reforms ( obvious failures) or true free markets with all the barbarity that implies. In contrast, I respect these conservatives for their willingness to state the battle as it is ( Left vs Right, anti-capitalist vs capitalist) and welcome the opportunity to debate them. But will that ever happen? Is debate permissible? Where will Labour stand?

Shaw has a well organized operation ( media, researchers, speakers, literature, etc) to fight land use planning, environmental regulation, trade policy and anything going under the moniker "sustainable development" because it limits individual freedom and property rights. He is correct. It does. Liberals are forced to defend zoning and eminent domain and free trade and the Endangered Species Act and the WTO and all the other forms of elite control against populist anger. It's a losing proposition and sets up a false binary exploited by all the Sierra Clubs and NGOs and non-profits who soak the liberal elite for "Save the World" donations. The "progressive" project is in shambles and they had better find the courage soon to stop defending capitalism.This is how two "Democratic political consultants" totally misread it from the LA Times:
"The Tea Party is a harbinger of mid-life crisis, not political crisis."Like David Brooks they want to smirk at old Boomers as frustrated Hippies gone soft.

Speaking of capitalism, this article from the NY Times about credit default swaps ( hat tip to Che Bob) is interesting:
"Mr. Bernanke is undoubtedly an intelligent man. But his view that it's "counterproductive" to use credit default swaps to crash an institution or nation exhibits a certain naievete about how the titans of finance operate now."

First off, is Bernanke an "intelligent man"? What is our criteria? Everyone says "at least Obama is intelligent". Really? Isn't Alan Greenspan an intelligent man? Intelligence plus flawed ideology produces disaster so what does this tell us about "intelligence"? Anyway, look at the casual, cynical reference to "titans of finance". This is another way of saying tyrants or totalitarian masters and yet it elicits nothing more than a smirk from the hoi polloi. And it is totally off the radar of Mr. Conservative Sustainable Development from Santa Cruz ( where my little brother and dad live, by the way). The article goes on to say:

"Credit default swaps with a face value of 36 trillion dollars were outstanding in the second quarter of 2009". Talk about losing your freedom! And it is hardly a "New" World Order.