Sunday, July 31, 2011
All you have to do, as Harold Hill well knew in the Iowa country-side back in times of yore, is manufacture a crisis and sell your phantom product as Salvation. Seems like that lesson has not quite stuck with the masses, tho, eh?
Meanwhile, Krugman is visibly Shrill in these segments from ABC's "This Week."
'Bout gonna bust a blood vessel, he is, while everyone else is calm as cool as cucumbers.
No one else on the panel is even aware that there ARE proles who are being hurt as it is, and who will be hurt even more by the continuance of the Shock Doctrine Economics of the White House, Congress, and their Owners and Sponsors. It's not even so much that they don't care anymore, it is that they are utterly oblivious to the human wreckage they are deliberately causing and sponsoring. When Krugman repeatedly goes ballistic at the appalling lack of conscience (as well as lack of wisdom) by the High and the Mighty, the rest of them have nothing, not even a blank stare, in response.
We are near the end game at Versailles. Louis XV (not XVI) was the one who faced -- and was unable to overcome -- the Tax Strike by the Nobles. It all fell apart, inevitably, in the next reign. The dissolution took the form it did in part because of the American Revolution, which set the pattern for "Liberty". There is no such pattern-setter today, or if there is, the cry is not for "Liberty", it is for ever stricter Authority.
Welcome to Thunderdome....
Good God. The hysteric reporting is almost overwhelming.
Yes. Well. Apparently the Debt Crisis Crisis Deal is just about done, and assuming it gets through the House and the Senate in some form, it is likely the President will sign it, and the screwage of the People will recommence in earnest this time, as if the monumental spikes in poverty, hunger and homelessness aren't already payment enough from the People for the titanic economic catastrophe engineered by Their Betters.
Not tying what's already happened into what is to come has become one of the blogospheric conventions during the Crisis Crisis Negotiations, and it has been infuriating. It's not just insisting that "there could be cuts" -- without the least recognition that there already have been cuts, in some cases massive cuts -- to social programs, it is also the failure to tie the Crisis Crisis Negotiations to the post-modern style of Governing Contrary -- in almost all things -- to the People's Will and the Public Interest.
Instead, the Crisis Crisis Negotiations are, by convention, seen as independent of anything else, seemingly sui generis of Congress and the President, and by convention, these Negotiations have been deliberately whipped to a frenzy out of Nothing At All, and Everything Was Going Just Fine before the Crisis was made manifest Out of Nothing.
Horseshit. Complete and utter horseshit.
Those who are able to make connections typically see the Debt Crisis Crisis Negotiations as an application of the Shock Doctrine to our peaceful and bountiful land, which is true enough, but by convention, it is widely thought that only NOW is the Shock Doctrine is being applied, whereas alert observers have seen a continuation of the Shock Doctrine through the entire economic catastrophe, with previous periodic applications of the Shock devices beginning well before the Collapse.
And of course by convention, all responsibility for the Debt Crisis Crisis is put on the Shoulders of the Throne, occupied by the Capitulator in Chief, who simply gives away the store to those mean old nasty hostage takers, booooo! When he could have done something else.
Yes, he could have, but he didn't. And he said he wasn't going to do anything different. He said quite clearly what he wanted to do, and he laid out the parameters of an agreement on the Debt Crisis Crisis, and it was clear from the Get Go that the Deal, once it came, would be essentially what is being finalized now: the few High and the Mighty will not be assessed any more income taxes than they already pay; soon enough, those tax rates will be reduced. Government services, social programs, and income support provisions for the many will be cut, in some cases substantially, in order to reduce the Federal Budget's share of the economy to an arbitrary percentage set by... well, now, that's the question, isn't it?
Who is actually running this pop stand, anyway?
Isn't it actually the same handful of International Financiers who have been cheerfully ordering the looting and trashing economies all over the Western World to satisfy the pecuniary interests of an even tinier handful of grossly bloated Global Oligarchs and Plutocrats?
This is not to absolve the Debt Crisis Crisis Negotiators of their own culpability. They have plenty of it. After all, they are supposed to represent the People, and they do not do so, they seem utterly incapable of doing so. But that has been their institutional failure for many a long year; it did not "suddenly" appear in consequence of the current backstage Deal Making. Not at all.
The post-modern ethos of Governing Contrary to the People's Will and the Public Interest goes back a long way in this country; it's just been sharpened to a fine point in the last ten or fifteen years or so. Which all by itself is quite a while.
So the fact that the negotiators of this Debt Crisis Crisis Deal have pretty much ignored the Public in their high minded contest of wills (ha) is simply par for the course. It is what they do. It is what they have done for a long, long wearying time.
Another of the conventions of our post-modern age is to see everything in isolation. Each and every thing is just "starting" in other words, and any connection with anything else is tenuous at best and subject to endless nitpicking and dispute. The notion of "continuation" is all but absent. The connections, such as they are, become the focus of endless and typically circular Argument. What's actually going on is seen through a foggy lens indeed, and it is often ignored in pursuit of whatever is new and shiny -- and of course, the Argument.
We're going to get screwed by Our Betters some more than we already have been, and this time it will be relatively mild at first, getting harsher and harsher as time wears on, until by the end of what looks like a ten year process, fading into a longer thirty year process, which in turn is faded into a 75 year process (these people think long term, don't they?) we won't recognize either our nation or the kind of productive economy we once knew. It's not coming back. Ever.
Our Betters have decided what they want done, entirely at our expense, and that is what will be. Period.
The Imperial Wars of Aggression will continue without surcease, possibly automated for convenience and requiring far fewer personnel than currently. The insolvent financial sector will continue to be propped up indefinitely. Unemployment will continue inordinately high, and quite likely is going to go considerably higher. Social Security will continue to be drained of resources, at a faster and faster clip, while benefits already earned will be expropriated for other purposes -- such as Imperial Wars of Aggression and propping up the insolvent financial sector. "Health Care Reform" will become a bad joke, as will "Democracy." Ha ha. Foreclosures and impoverishment will accelerate.
All of this and more was "written" well before the current Negotiations got under way. There has been no lack of telegraphing of Our Betters intentions here.
What has been odd, really odd, is that there has been general acquiescence by the proles and the near-proles throughout. Yes, there have been objections raised, but even in Wisconsin, scene of the most protracted demonstrations against the New Austerity Overlords this year, there was prior agreement by the workers' representatives to almost all the demands of their governmental employer for reduced pay and benefits. In other words, the workers had already acquiesced to the major economic demands and the struggle was over "rights." Further, that struggle was lost, utterly, and there is little sign that the current effort to recall a number of state senators will result in any fundamental restoration of the status quo ante or in the institution of any better public policies.
It's simply not in the cards. Our Betters are winning every battle in a rout, while Russ Feingold and his ilk consider their next move -- or whether to "move" at all.
The hysterical accusations being thrown around against Obama and all the other Negotiators of The People's Plunder remind me a lot of the hysteria and wild accusations being thrown around about President Clinton and his dalliances with various women. It was all just insane of course, but I came to the conclusion that the hysteria and the insanity was the point of the exercise. It served as a wonderful distraction while other -- far more important -- matters were dealt with, such as financial dereg and various new forms of warring on undisciplined nations and peoples and so forth.
Ah well, it isn't completely resolved. We must await events. Sometime today, perhaps? Or will there have to be one more round of the contest to play out?
Saturday, July 30, 2011
[Video scarfed from Willy Loman's Place]
This is a lovely -- and very well done -- video assemblage of the protests and governmental actions in Greece recently. As we know, the People rose up in their multitudes, shut down much of Greece's faltering economy with repeated general strikes, and otherwise made the process of governing and exploiting the Greek People difficult for their Rulers.
And the upshot was that the People got nothing.
No, they were robbed and raped even more severely than before they rose up.
Let's "start" to get a handle on what's really going on.
This has been a year of popular unrest and tumult, all over Europe, all over the Middle East (now even including Israel) and North Africa, and for a time at least in the Upper Midwest of the United States.
People rose up in their multitudes in many places around the country and the world, protesting the imposition of "austerity" -- actually, the application of neo-liberal Shock Doctrine economic policies that favor the rich -- and the continuation of rotten dictatorships and managed democracies, only to be discounted or ignored, when not being beaten, gassed, shot, run over, and rounded up by the thousands.
The People got nothing. Not even when they thought they had "won" as in Egypt and Tunisia.
In parts of the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the Arabian Peninsula, the protests of the masses have turned into civil wars between undefined factions vying
to control governments on behalf of... whom? Nobody quite knows.
Certainly not The People.
It has been a year of unrest and tumult, and it has been a year of governing contrary to the People's will, everywhere, even when they rise up, even when they think they have "won."
And in the United States, the pattern is the same, though the uprisings have been surprisingly polite given the provocations of the Rulers. The People protest this or that take away, this or that reversion, this or that diminution, this or that reduction in rights, benefits, and/or income; the People invariably lose, utterly and completely.
The New Normal sets in. Protest may or may not recommence, but the People invariably lose again.
As we watch Our Rulers in DC simply ignore the will of the People -- as quantified in poll after poll after poll -- and adopt completely contrary neo-liberal/Shock Doctrine economic policies (among so many other reactionary policies), regardless of any other interest whatsoever (oh, such as jobs for example), we're understandably shocked and OUTRAGED!!!™ How can they do this?
Well, they do it, don't they?
Ordinary protest -- even the sort we've seen in Greece -- doesn't affect them in any way. The Ruling Class doesn't care because they don't believe there is anything the People can or will do that they have to pay attention to.
None of the usual tactics work.
And because that's the case, regardless of your political issue or position, acts of terrorism (such as happened last week in Norway, in reaction to governmental "treason") proliferate. Because it is the only way to make The Powers That Be pay attention.
But falling into the trap of the Cult of Violence doesn't "win" -- for the People -- either.
Certainly Perpetual Argument on the Internet doesn't work!
Is there nothing that will?
Things that haven't been tried, perhaps? Things that haven't even been imagined yet? Or if they have, the imagining is so low key and so far underground...?
I know what a lot of people are doing in the face of Implacable Power. They are choosing to withdraw from the fight altogether, and to withdraw from the necessity to fight perpetual losing battles against the Implacable. Internal and external exile, refusing to cooperate, to engage in routine tasks or economic activity, decoupling, if you will, from both the political and economic systems insofar as it is possible to do so.
"Goodbye to All That."
The Always "Starting to Think", Always "On the Edge of the Cliff" or "About to Hit the Iceberg" Metaphors -- Or, Man the Lifeboats!
Here we are, many long and weary years into a global economic catastrophe, a financial meltdown of titanic proportions, with millions upon millions of people being forced into poverty every year, with homelessness, hunger and disease growing alarmingly, but to read about conditions in the mainstream media or on the internet, you'd almost never know it.
Instead, absolutely all the discussion -- and panic -- is about a potential or coming economic catastrophe if "we" either do or do not increase the debt ceiling, if "we" do or do not "default" on the debt.
We are "on the edge of the cliff!"
We are "about to hit the iceberg!"
No. And no I say again. We have already gone over the cliff -- long ago, too. We already hit the iceberg, long ago, and the ship sank. We're in the lifeboats (some of us) debating who gets thrown into the freezing ocean next.
THAT'S what's going on, and those are the correct metaphors for our misery -- and what's left of our hope. But it is never discussed that way on the internet or in the mainstream because of certain locutions and conventions which propose that we are always just "starting to think," always "on the edge of the cliff," always just about "to hit the iceberg." The upshot being that we can always pull back or change direction -- when actually we're facing a completely new and more difficult reality.
It reminds me of a once universal and conventional rule in the geologic and astronomic sciences that proposed that the Earth and Solar System were always "about midway" in their lifespans, no matter what the evidence indicated. It's actually intended as a calming metaphor. Our world has come thus far and has at least as far left to go before it all sputters out. We are in The Middle, and isn't it grand?
"Isn't it grand?" So long as we can make believe it is so, then it is.
I'm not at all into Doom Blogging, but neither do I want to be entirely Panglossian about our mutual condition. We have most certainly gone over the cliff and hit bottom. We hit the iceberg, too. The ship sank. We watched from the leaky lifeboats as it did, while some still onboard kept rearranging those deck-chairs and thinking of England. Until it was too late.
Now what? is the appropriate question.
I've been saying for some time that we need to re-envision a Future, because our "former Future" has been stolen from us. It's gone. We don't have that any more, and one of the signs of it is the end of the Space Shuttle program, in effect ending the American manned space program indefinitely. Americans in Space was very much a part of our collective consciousness and collective Future until very recently, and now the likelihood of it ever happening has almost vanished completely. I've posted links and clips showing what the Future used to look like (and there are a number of wonderful websites that get into it, too), and watching something like "2001: A Space Odyssey" today is really kind of shocking. To think that Stanley Kubrick's 1968 vision, based on Arthur C. Clarke's vision, of what the near Future would look like and what would be available for us to do was considered reasonable extrapolation at the time, and so little of it has come to pass, mostly relatively minor things, pretty much none of the Big Things at all (though we might want to discuss the issue of Personal Computers and the Internet, which really weren't even on the horizon in 1968 -- and why weren't they thought of seriously by Futurists in those days?)
My point is only that the Future that Used To Be is no longer operative -- or even conceivable any more. That phase of human progress is done, and American leadership of that endless quest for knowledge (which ultimately was what it was all about) has concluded -- with both a whimper and a bang. The United States and the American People are not in the lead of Progress any more; for all intents and purposes, that torch has been handed off to China with a hope and a prayer that this Chinese Century of Progress will turn out well for all concerned.
"I for one welcome our new Chinese Overlords!"
We may need to get used to thinking that way, but more importantly, as I see it, we need to think much more clearly and fully on how we want our Future, and the Future of our descendents, to be. Since the Future Vision we might once have had cannot be realized under the current circumstances, what should we have in our minds for the Future instead?
Doom and Gloom? Not in my book.
Not at all. Good heavens no.
But we do have to be realistic about the situation we're in right now, and we need to avoid falling into the metaphors and locution traps that propose that we haven't hit that Titanic Iceberg yet.
From the Lifeboat, in other words, what can we envision?
In the movie, of course, mere survival is the characters' primary concern, and survival is not possible for some of them. Their numbers will be reduced, and that's just reality, though we realize that their choices are not necessarily wise. Panic is frequent. Suffering is endured. On and on.
And yet there is a Future Vision among them, not just of Rescue (which will come, yes), but of what the survivors hold dear and want to make of their lives and leave to Posterity. That vision helps them survive.
And of course they watched the ship sink. They know they're in a lifeboat. The context, of course, of this film was WWII, and it was war fighting that got them in this predicament. They know they are all in this lifeboat together, even with an enemy, as it turns out. They must, one way or another, find a way forward -- while simultaneously finding a way to survive. From a practical standpoint, it is The Man With The Plan, ie: the Nazi U-Boat captain who sank their ship in the first place, who browbeats and muddles them through to the point where they can be rescued -- somewhat miraculously (well, it's a movie after all!)
The New York Times reviewed the movie in 1944 in somewhat of astonishment, for it does propose that the Nazi "Superman" is the only one really capable of putting the lifeboat's occupants on a course to eventual survival.
There remains the alarming implication, throughout all the action of this film, that the most efficient and resourceful man in this "Lifeboat" is the Nazi, the man with "a plan." Nor is he an altogether repulsive or invidious type. As Walter Slezak plays him, he is tricky and sometimes brutal, yes, but he is practical, ingenious and basically courageous in his lonely resolve. Some of his careful deceptions would be regarded as smart and heroic if they came from an American in the same spot.
Obviously Mr. Hitchcock and Mr. Steinbeck failed to grasp just what they had wrought. They certainly had no intention of elevating the "superman" ideal—nor did the responsible studio, Twentieth Century-Fox. But we have a sneaking suspicion that the Nazis, with some cutting here and there, could turn "Lifeboat" into a whiplash against the "decadent democracies." And it is questionable whether such a picture, with such a theme, is judicious at this time.
Yes. Certainly. "...judicious at this time." Truly. How droll.
But that's playing on the Practical response to catastrophe; I'm more interested at this point in the visions each of the characters have of where they are and where they are going, and in whatever moral sense they may have of their Future.
And it is from that perspective that we need to "start" thinking about our own Future.
Friday, July 29, 2011
[click image to embiggen]
I wanted to post this handy graph from the New York Times so that it wouldn't get lost in all the yammering about Debt and Crisis that will continue indefinitely. It shows you where the bulk of the deficit has come from (the Bushevik Wars and tax cuts combined with recessionary forces and massive unemployment) and who actually holds the debt Our Rulers are trying to default on (the People of the United States of America, either directly as bondholders, in their pension plans, or indirectly in the Social Security Agency.)
It's pretty clear.
And it's pretty clear who will be hurt if there is a default or downgrade (which, btw, there will be with regard to Social Security almost certainly).
That's what it is.
Conspiracists are out in force on the Berwick/Breivik matter, and some of their hooey is going to be getting attention. I suspect Justin Raimondo may turn into Breivik's chief conspiracist. Obviously, he's relying on the Mainstream Media to provide him with tidbits he can then weave into "questions" which in turn become the basis for conspiratorial fantasies.
Much of what he claims has not been investigated has been, for example, and many of the things he claims are not known are known, at least through the published materials available. But by raising "questions" -- that are in many cases already answered -- he sets up a classic goose chase scenario which many people seem to love pursuing.
The Berwick log Raimondo links to strikes me as the work of a deluded, drug-addled paranoid obsessive-compulsive ("narcissist/sociopath," just to complete the metaphor). I've said that I don't think Berwick was insane, but reading his words in the logs -- just frantic about being able to prepare his explosives "in time" -- it's clear he is not in his right mind. Drugs -- primarily steroids -- are mentioned in the logs, but it appears he's taking others as well that affect his perceptions, increase his paranoia, and keep him obsessively "working" on his "project."
It reads very much like he's on methamphetamine. Which wouldn't be at all surprising given the extent and the detailed nature of the tasks he's set for himself.
But then, the underlying question is whether he set those tasks himself or they were set for him. And that's where it does get interesting. He refers to "investors" his work -- but what work, exactly -- is supposed to be paying off. He refers to maxing out his credit cards through cash advances to pay off landlord and his creditors in June but then being able to pay off all his credit cards in July. Where that money comes from (maybe 8,000 Euros or more) who knows?
He refers to gold as well. Is he speculating in gold or other futures? Is that how he makes money?
My own thought initially was that he was simply well off, had plenty of money from the get-go. But that doesn't seem to be the case, although there are indications from his tax records that though he had essentially no or very little declared income, he had plenty of money in the bank -- several hundred thousand krone much of the time.
Where did the money come from?
I'd say from his "investors" -- and they were investing in his "action" on July 22. Did they get their money's worth?
And who are they?
Check out Craig Murray, too.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
I have from time to time offered both criticisms and defenses of His Serenity, Barack "Hoover" Obama -- mostly critical observation of what he is doing and why I think he's doing it. I don't think he is particularly evil or smart for that matter, but I do see him as increasingly self-possessed, self-actuated, and increasingly rigid in his core principles and beliefs.
President Carter with better looks and no Southern accent.
Well, yes. The Carter comparison has been raised since forever, on the presumption that Obama would be a one term president -- which he might well be, and I don't think he really much cares about that.
But lately, the fashion mavens in the Blogosphere have decided to push the notion that Obama is somehow The. Worst. President. Ever. (Excuse me, no.) Aware observers are more than willing to point out that the premise itself is stupid and unworthy, but it's hard not to succumb to the silliness because it is based in a human need to be on a "team" and support or defy the conventional wisdom.
Someone who supports his team feels validated, especially if his captain wins the game. And one thing I can say about Obama -- which I have in other fora -- is that he is a true believer in his own principles and his abilities to institute them through his agency as President.
His primary principle is that of Transcendence. He believes, truly, that it is his role to transcend the partisan divide, to bring the parties together, if not in harmony at least in agreement that something must be done and can be done, and to help hammer out whatever deal is necessary to Make It Happen.
That's what this Debt Crisis Crisis is all about. And it is -- sort of -- looking like he might pull it off.
Meanwhile, I came across a couple of considerations of The Obama Problem today that I think help clarify the picture. The first, via Digby, is by Michael Tomasky at the Daily Beast, and it is very good. The upshot is that Obama is doing what he is doing -- which often seems incomprehensible to observers -- because he really believes in the principle of transcendence and he is determined to stick with his principles no matter what.
He apparently really believes—still!—in civic-republican notions of government as an arena for reasoned deliberation. That he could still think this is akin to a child believing in Santa Claus until he’s 15—but apparently he does. The journalist Alec MacGillis captured this conviction well in a profile he did of Obama for the British New Statesman back in 2008. Barack Obama, he wrote, “was running not on a record of past achievement or on a concrete program for the future, but instead on the simple promise of thoughtfulness.”
From this perspective a unilateral action would be almost impious—or at least, if you’d rather aim a little lower than God, anti-Madisonian. Obama would be giving up on his ideal. Of course he should have long since given up on it. I was with him at the beginning—his conviction that politics could be better and more deliberative was one of the things I found appealing about the man. But that ship sailed long ago, and Obama’s position has declined from admirable principle to indefensible fetish. Politics simply isn’t going to get better and more deliberative any time soon.
The third reason the president probably won’t do it is related to the second, but it’s more personal. Unilateral action would be at odds with Obama’s image of himself. In his article, MacGillis defined thoughtfulness Obama style as “the notion that the leadership of the country should be entrusted not on the basis of résumé and platform, but on the prospect of applying to the nation's problems one man's singularly well-tempered intelligence.” This is pretty obviously a dead-on description of Obama’s view of himself and his potential as president.
I think it is really a good description of what is going on. Of course Tomasky, like many others, is OUTRAGED!!!!™ and wants Obama to Stop This Nonsense Right Now!!! Yes, well. Good luck with that. At no point during his reign on the Throne has Obama shown even a hint of giving up his principles -- though he will cheerfully give up just about everything else.
The other Worst. President. Essay I read today was by Sterling Newberry via Ian Welsh. Sterling, gosh, goes back a long way, into the mists of Internet times, and he's always been an acute observer and analyst of what's happening. In today's essay at The Sorcerer's Apprentice he examines what is wrong, desperately wrong, with the Obama Reign, and I think he gets it mostly right.
I especially like his historical notes and this part:
The President who Obama most resembles is Herbert Hoover, another one of those chief magistrates of government who became inflexible and iron willed. His idea of compromise is that he cuts out what he thinks is a compromise, and then relentlessly grind on it. He's dealing with people whose idea of compromise is a woman having an orgasm while she is raped. Neither of these two sides have actually compromised very much, other than compromising on extending the Bush tax breaks for the wealthy.
Hoover was a malfortunate president. Unfortunate is not a sufficient adjective to describe it. He inherited an economy that was about to explode. He takes office in March of 1929, the move to January would, to no small extent be because the long gap between election and inauguration paralyzed the country when later he would lose the Presidency, and in October of 1929, the stock market plunges in what is know as "The Crash." In reality such a crash was essentially inevitable after the Olmstead Break in August. In effect he had 5 months of Presidency. The rest was a long grind and heavy flail. His response was not without compassion and, within his understanding, he worked hard to do what was right. He simply was a mammoth in a lake that had been swamped by a breaking glacier dam, to be found, frozen, as an oddity. His failure was that as his policies failed, he doubled and tripled down on them. In essence, he turned a single large downturn, into three back to back downturns, and left the very faith in capitalism and democracy bruised behind him.
FDR and Hoover had once been political friends, but his rants and threats, the most famous being his offer to let FDR be President early, if FDR would scrap the "so-called New Deal." FDR replied tartly that he was still a private citizen until inauguration, his term as Governor of New York having ended.
Like me and a number of others, Newberry is relating Obama to Hoover's presidency, and he explains why very well.
On the other hand, when it comes to the Debt Crisis Crisis, I think he is somewhat off the mark in that he doesn't seem to be able to relate it (or actually much of anything Obama has done) to Obama's principle of transcendence.
That's why I highlight both articles today: the one by Tomasky which gets into the underlying reasons why Obama is doing what he is doing -- though Tomasky is calling it wrong in all kinds of ways -- and Newberry's, take which relates Obama's actions with those of other Worst Presidents and takes him to task for missing so many opportunities to please The People (and his more leftward critics) by taking bold(er) and more authoritative/authoritarian action.
I honestly don't think Obama is doing what he is doing for political gain. He is doing it both because he can, and because he must. He is a believer, in other words, and a man of Principle. Unshakable Principle.
This is what Principled Governance looks like. It isn't pretty. And I don't think it is what we really want.
The Strawberry Statement - Give Peace a Chance... by Tushratta
Scene above is from "The Strawberry Statement" (1970), which I was in, not the first movie I was in, but the story and the process of making this picture made a significant impression on me. Actually, if I remember correctly, the movie was made in the fall of 1969, it was released in 1970, for those who are keeping track. It's loosely based on the Columbia Riots of 1968 -- that seminal year, the year that "Andrew Berwick"/Anders Breivik claims "Teh Marxist Revolution" won in Europe, and according to him, it's been downhill ever since.
Yes, well. He's wrong in that, but he wasn't there, so it's not like he could understand what went on or why or anything. 1968 is not just another time, it's another world completely as far as so many of the young are concerned.
The point, though, is that the Cult of Violence that seems so prominent now, as with our nation's many wars, commonplace police brutality, armed protest and implicit threats of violence, terror-terror-terrorist attacks, all kinds of video games, mainstream movies, television, on and on and on, this Cult of Violence was common then, too, perhaps worse in some ways than it is now. There was, for example, a war going on in Indochina that was, for all intents and purposes, a war of extermination of the Gooks, millions of whom died in the struggle, and many millions of whose descendents live with the consequences of what happened and how.
The attacks in Norway are just one more example of today's Cult of Violence, but it's one that may have more import down the road as so many of the Whitest Rightists are scrambling to defend the killer without openly condoning his actions. It's a tricky balancing act, and they haven't quite got the party propaganda line down, but one of the excuses they've made for him is that he killed other white people, not Muslims, so he wasn't actually an "anti-Muslim terrorist." Except that, of course, among the dead and wounded were a number of Muslim youth, but I guess they don't count because, well, they were at a Hitler Youth Rally and had obviously been "assimilated."
Militant white folk are a problem in the world. They have been for quite a long time when you think about it, and the Norse (Norwegians, Normans, "Vikings") were prominent trouble makers for many hundreds of years. All over Europe, Russia, the Middle East and North Africa. Let's not be coy here. To go a-Viking is to travel around to fuck other people up, take their stuff, and slaughter their ass. Not pretty. "Berserk."
I've had a few dealings with militant white folk in my time, worked for a while in a Danish community down the California coast, even managed to shake the hand of the Queen of Denmark when she came to call one sunny day ("Eh, those Scandinavian royals, they're so down to earth! Eh!"), learned to say "Uff Da!" among the militant Norwegians around here, had close Belgian and Dutch friends back in the day, and counted a Swedish actress among my closest friends when time was.
All of them, I think, had a very strong tendency to celebrate their Whiteness, and some, truth to tell, were quite militant -- the word might be "racist" -- in their defense of White Folk and their Kultur. Yes, yes, yes. Boring. Boring.
So far as I know, none of them ever used violence to protect their White Women and Kultur, but I have no doubt that some were quite prepared to do so... "if necessary."
What does that mean? If the Brownies and the Svartzies got too full of themselves, you know, "uppity" as it were, one would have to do what one would have to do. That's just "common sense."
Which is often how members of the Cult of Violence -- whether they are militant White Folk or not -- see their mission. It's just "common sense." Right.
Ironically -- at least to me -- I've often been accused of being a promoter of violence because of my (qualified) admiration for certain Revolutionaries (such as Che himself, ahem) and my extensive use of Revolutionary imagery, cant and rhetoric throughout my written works.
Revolution is by its nature "violent" right? Bluntly, it depends on which end you're on. Many peoples have committed acts of peaceful revolution, in other words, only to be met with surpassing violence by Authority. That's what the clip above was dramatizing.
One of the things I've long pointed out, though, is that Revolutionary Fervor today is almost exclusively found among the Rightists -- who are typically, though not exclusively, the Whitest. And they are quite prone to violence of all kinds.
In many ways, the Muslim Terrorists With Whom We Are In Forever War, are reacting to the violence that have been imposed upon them by the European (White, hello?) Powers for hundreds of years. And yet, I wonder. Would they be reacting violently if it were not for their Muslim Rightist fundamentalism? It's hard to say, I don't know, but there is no doubt that Rightist ideology is one of the common threads throughout the Cult of Violence, no matter who the perpetrators are.
They all believe in essentially the same thing: their own superiority, their own fundamentalist beliefs (which they often confuse with "Principle"), and the disrespect of -- and most especially de-humanization of -- the Other, who, ultimately, is any and all opposition to Their Chosen Way.
Violence is systemic in this world view. The only way Rightists know to beat their opponents is through physical or psychological or emotional violence. Anyone who does not believe as they do is by definition their "opponent," but more importantly, the very existence of opposition is an existential threat to Rightists who, as "Berwick"/Breivik does, despise the very idea of "multi-culture," multi-beliefs, multi-ethnicities, multi-points of view. All has to be subsumed under one way, their way, or there is no way at all.
The official violence against Peace Activists in the movie clip is mirrored, for example, in the violence against Peace Activists at the 2008 political conventions, violence that is still being pursued, years afterwards, by US Attorneys (FITZ!!!) determined to stamp out the subversive leftist existential threats to the nation who publicly conspire to advocate for Peace. Any rational society would consider this to be insane, but in America, "leftist activism" is by definition a threat that must be suppressed. With violence if necessary.
Or you can look at the Israeli response to the Gaza Flotilla last year. (This year's response is a bit different, but the point is still to dehumanize the Other and deal with it violently "if necessary.")
The Cult of Violence and Rightist Revolution can be a good deal more subtle of course, as we've seen throughout the country in the extraordinary efforts of Republican governors and legislators to overthrow decades of common interest and practice and replace it with a repressive and restrictive New Order. Meanwhile in Washington, DC, another version of what's been going on in the States has been playing out with the deadlock over raising the debt limit (oh, and changing everything to more strictly follow the Rightist tenets of Suffering for the Masses, Liberation for the Masters.)
It's all of a piece.
Of course the Norway handling (Norwegian for "action") was spectacular and horrifying in the extreme. That was the point of it. There have been endless calls for Norway now to "change" its ways, for its government now to become more intrusive and oppressive, not so much toward the Rightist Revolutionaries that have apparently found a welcome home among the white militants there, but toward the Muslim Horde that is overwhelming "Peaceful Norway." Which is of course what Revolutionary Crusader/Rightist "Berwick/Breivik was advocating all along.
You see how this works?
The Cult of Violence is believed in so sincerely in part because it has been, and is still, so successful in shifting the beliefs of others its way. It does not take many Believers in the Cult to have a disastrous effect on far more Others. As we've seen, over and over again, a single individual, motivated, suffused with Belief, and (as in the case of "Berwick"/Breivik) hopped up on steroids and other drugs, is quite capable of shifting the parameters that Others rely on all on his own.
I wish it were a lesson...
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
There was a story out of Norway the other day that caught my eye. It was related by one of the survivors of the Utoya Massacre who witnessed a young boy confronting the killer with these paraphrased words:
You've just killed my father and now you want to kill me. I'm too young to die. Don't shoot.The killer left the boy alone with the body of his dead father, moving on to kill others instead. The story was on the NRK website for about a day, but now it's gone. It's been replaced by the story of Trond Berntsen, the father who was killed in front of his 10 year old son. Turns out Berntsen was the sole policeman on the island when the shooting started. He of course was unarmed, and he was not in an official capacity but was apparently working on the side, as a private security guard during the youth camp on the island. He was one of the first people killed by the cruel monster who committed the murders. He was, as it happens, the step-brother of the current Crown Princess of Norway, Mette-Marit.
How small a world it is.
Mette-Marit's husband, Crown Prince Haakon Magnus,
- Every human being has a right to lead a dignified life.
- A dignified life means an opportunity to fulfill one’s potential, which is based on having a human level of health care, education, income and security.
- Dignity means having the freedom to make decisions on one’s life and to be met with respect for this right.
- Dignity should be the basic guiding principle for all actions.
- Ultimately, our own dignity is interdependent with the dignity of others.
Hard to argue with something as benign and... amorphous... as that, right? "Dignity" is something I've been writing about for many years as the core value we need to emphasize as we struggle to come up with a viable alternative to our extinguished Republic.
But what we have been getting instead is ever greater levels of cruelty -- some of it driven by imperialist states like the United States of America and Israel, some of it the consequences of failed states like The Former Yugoslavia and Somalia, some of it due to the permission granted by our polarized societies to various individuals to be as cruel to others as they want to be.
Dignity and cruelty don't mix. And it is the failure to respect the dignity of others that leads directly to so much overt and subconscious cruelty, not solely by Our Rulers and their many courtiers by ourselves toward one another.
That's part of what happened in Norway. But I saw a story today out of the New York Times that said that the bombing in Oslo and the massacre on the island were "one of the worst mass killings in post-War Europe," I thought, "Jeeze, you've never heard of breakup of the Former Yugoslavia, eh? Srebrenica, anyone?" Mass killing was a way of life for a while there, and it happened long after the end of WWII. But who's counting?
It was the absolute cruelty of the killer and his denial of any dignity whatsoever to his victims -- as the price of their "Treason" according to him -- that is the striking, and when you get down to it, the consistent feature of nearly all the mass-murder events we've witnessed in our lifetimes (almost too many to count now.)
The denial of the dignity of its victims -- and the cruelty of its extermination campaign -- is the primary feature of the USA's Death From Above Drone Operations through many countries, and prior to that campaign, it was the primary feature of American/allied military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan was the utter, remorseless cruelty -- and complete denial of the dignity of the natives.
Many of us have long recognized this is wrong policy; some see it as evil. Yet our response has been almost completely ineffective, or so it seems. Changing course is necessary, but doing it...
That's always the sticking point, and until we can find a way, we will continue to see the triumph of The Cruelty Factor.
In the midst of everything else, Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London Home the other day, and I found this bootleg concert audio -- ironically recorded in Norway in 2007 -- at Crooks & Liars that absolutely epitomizes what a brilliant talent she was.
Those who want to judgementalize will of course claim that she got what she deserved, more than she deserved, given how fucked up on drugs and alcohol she was most of the time, but I'd just urge anyone who gets on that track to Back Away.
Winehouse was -- as you can hear from this live audio clip -- an astonishing talent, who literally burst on the scene from "nowhere," and like many others before her, she was gobbled up by it. There are many very talented people who simply cannot handle the world of Fame. That world is always hungry, feeding, destroying lives, manufacturing fantasies. It's not a normal world, populated by normal people just trying to live their lives and do their thing. It demands more than the utmost of you, and if you can't -- or won't -- comply with Its freakish demands, it'll chew you up and swallow the bones.
Amy Winehouse did what she could for as long as she could. And then she couldn't. The rest of us are lucky to have had her music in our lives for as long as we have.
Judge not.... and all that.
Monday, July 25, 2011
I was able to watch the court ruling in Oslo as it happened this morning on the NRK website. Breivik's hearing itself was closed to the public, which I think may have been wise given the nature of what was reported by the ruling judge Breivik said was his reason for the bombing in Olso and the massacre on Utoya.
(There was a police news conference afterwards during which the numbers of dead were revised: 68 on the island and 8 in Olso.)
The judge reported (in rough paraphrase) that Breivik claimed he did what he did -- so much death and destruction -- as notice to the Government that their "treason" would not be tolerated any more.
They are guilty of "treason" for opening up the floodgates of Muslim immigration to Norway, among other things, and Breivik would not tolerate it any more. He needed to make a dramatic statement -- murder and destruction -- to get his point across.
This is just the sort of Rightist rhetoric-into-action many have been warning of for years, warnings that seem to fall on deaf ears, as Western governments obsess on the threat of external Muslim terrorism to the effective exclusion and dismissal of the threats from within their own body politic.
Not only are the threats from the Rightists all but ignored, but the actions of Rightist terrorists within the body politic (the Poisoners, if you will) are almost welcomed by the Powers That Be.
And in the meantime, "eco-terrorists," "leftist radicals" (ha!), peace and social justice advocates are all spied upon relentlessly, rounded up, tried, imprisoned, and what have you.
Just as the economic policies of Our Rulers are backwards, so it appears are their anti-terror policies and actions.
Odd, isn't it?
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Yesterday, I went to Kaiser for the first time since this spring when I was being treated for pneumonia (that had been suspected erroneously to be tuberculosis, which was repeatedly tested for and never found. Oh. Whell.)
I had to go because I'd developed an annoying and painful rash, much of which had appeared suddenly, overnight. Good gott, what was it? When I called up the advice nurse, she went through the flow chart routine, "Does it hurt?" Yes. "Is it blistery?" Yes? "Is it on one side of the body?" Yes. Etc. She said there were no appointments available, but she could have a doctor call me in half an hour or so. Ok.
Doctor called, went through the symptoms again. She said, "Have you ever had shingles?" No. "Chicken pox?" Yes. "How far away are you?" A few miles. "Get over here, quick." She told me where the clinic was, and she said she'd expect me within fifteen minutes.
Sure enough, she took one look, said, "Shingles." Oh fine. Said it was going to get a LOT worse -- it has -- and there wasn't a lot they could do, but she would prescribe ointments, anti-viral drugs, and Vicodin. If it got way worse, come back, otherwise, endure it.
How long? I asked. She said, "You don't want to know." I repeated, how long? She said, first time outbreak like this, could be months. And it can get very painful. If the pain gets out of control, call back, she'll prescribe something stronger.
It was a quick evaluation, to say the least, but I had realized that it was shingles when the flowchart of the advice nurse pointed there. Actually, the earliest symptom was a sharp burning pain deep in my leg that I attributed to a recurrence of the sciatica that had cropped up a few years ago. When I saw a small skin eruption on my leg, I did not relate it to sciatica. Instead, I thought it might be incipient melanoma -- what my father died of. But it didn't really fit any sort of melanoma symptom set I could find. It was something else, I was sure. When a few days later, the eruption spread suddenly, I still didn't connect it with shingles, though I was trying to figure out some connection with the nerve irritation and pain of sciatica.
When I talked to the nurse, the "ah ha!" moment arrived. Sure. That's what it is.
It is painful, annoying, interferes with sleep. I hate taking codeine. But it seems to control the pain (and scramble my brain!), so... one does what one must.
I asked the doctor what could have caused it. She said it was probably just my age and the fact I had had chicken pox when I was younger.
Grr. Talk about poison. Well, there you are.
Of course, not having cable teevee, I don't follow the cable teevee "news." It would be a waste of time in any case.
Instead, I've been following the Oslo Thing on the web, primarily by accessing the NRKtv website -- as well as some other Norwegian news sites and BBC -- and running it through the Google Translator. It's not that good for text, and of course it's no good at all for video, but it's good enough to at least get a picture of what's going on, who the players are, and how they see their role in what has turned into a hideous tragic drama.
Of course, prominent among the players is the culprit (sometimes his role is translated by the Google as "vermin," how droll). That is quite obviously by his design. I have not read the 1,500 page manifesto that was published online yesterday (they say most of it is in English), but I did see -- and eventually watch the video he posted Friday on YouTube just before he went on his killing spree. (I had to go to the after hours clinic yesterday for some diagnosis and medication, which I'll cover in another post).
Yes. Well. Supposedly, YouTube has taken down the original video posting from the culprit, but it lives on in several other posts by those who captured it before it was removed. Obviously, quite a lot of work went into it, though it does seem to end abruptly, as if its creator hadn't quite completed it. It's in English. Apparently much of his online life was conducted in English, pretty much the Lingua Franca of the West in any case. It consists largely of text and romantic illustrations of the Crusades and Crusaders (with the Muslim hordes depicted pretty much the way Jews were depicted in Europe up to and including the Period of Unpleasantness that encompassed WWII).
Parts of the text are not readable on the YouTube because they are too small, but one gets the gist, and it is quite a poisonous gist at that.
Which is not to say Dude is whack, although he may be.
Far more poisonous would his tract be if he were quite sane, which I suspect he is. A murderous "sanity" to be sure, but would one want to claim that pre-Nazi Europe (and essentially all the rest of the West) was whack because of the deep-seated fear of the Other, characterized by The Joooz, that was rampant in those days?
The case could be made, I suppose, but I think it would ultimately collapse of its own dead-weight. Being wrong doesn't mean you're crazy, in other words. It means you're wrong.
But if your error turns into mass murder, what then? Well, I would say that in most cases -- not all -- that makes the perpetrator both wrong and murderous. Not insane.
In most cases. There are exceptions.
The poisonous screed on the YouTube is delivered in four "chapters" I guess you could call them, the first denouncing "cultural Marxism" and the supposed overthrow of European culture (supremacy?) in the "1968 Marxist Revolution."
Interesting. 1968. That was a seminal year to be sure, and rebellion and revolt (but "revolution?") certainly wracked Europe that spring and summer, much as it did nearly everywhere else in the world, including Red China. There was a horrible massacre in Mexico City in 1968, something like 1,500 protesting university students shot down by troops brought in to "keep order." There was much tumult everywhere, most of it driven by the rising of the Young against the repression of the Old. It was a generational revolt in other words, of the Post War generation against their rigidly conformist parents. "Marxist" in that the rebels were largely informed by Marxist criticism of the capitalist system -- yes? So? The point being at the time that Marxist thought was widely suppressed in the West by government policy. The Cold War, don't you know. And so Marxism was something of esoteric or secret knowledge that young people were "discovering" during the era, knowledge that young people were finding very trenchant given the materialism and error of the day.
But it's hard to characterize the revolts and rebellions of 1968 as "revolutions" on the one hand, or ideologically "Marxist" on the other. Some of the rebellions (Czechoslovakia, anyone?) were decidedly anti-Marxist. What the rebellions universally were about, what they all shared in common, was a call for "liberation" from the errors and strictures of the past.
In other words, they were liberationist revolts not strictly ideological revolutions, and they were only partially successful and only in some areas. In others, they were suppressed with much bloodshed and brutality (such as in Mexico). And in still others, such as in China, the spirit and energy of the rebellion was channeled by the State into what was known as the Cultural Revolution -- which was basically an inversion of "liberation." And just as bloody and brutal as anything states in the west were unleashing on the rebels, though it was all inverted in China so that the "rebels" were acting on behalf of the State to brutalize and get rid of the left-over counter-revolutionaries and capitalist roaders who were accused under the principles of The Revolution. Such are the directions "liberation" can take.
But the notion that somehow "cultural Marxism" was triumphant in Europe in 1968 and thus European culture -- the very idea of European culture -- was somehow destroyed that year by the Revolution is... deeply, fundamentally wrong. Daft. In a word. No such thing happened. The point the culprit is trying to make but failing to (because I don't think he knows what happened) is that the current multi-culturalist approach to social organization that you see in Europe and elsewhere is... threatening... to a minority of Euro-Ethnic-Centric peoples (ie: Militant White Folk) who are always living in fear of the Hordes of mostly Brown Folks who would slaughter them in their beds -- if they could. This is like Doctrine to a minority of often violent White Folk who believe for some reason that everyone else in the world is Out to Get Them.
Perhaps it's genetic.
Or something else.
At any rate, those who peddle this view of the world and history are busy injecting poison into the social and political bloodstream. It isn't just the mass murderers, either.
The Murdochs are masters at injecting poison into the media bloodstream; there are movie-makers who do it in entertainment, bloggers whose whole online persona is wrapped up in injecting and spreading poison. I don't go to movies anymore because so many of them are full of horror and gratuitous violence and bloodshed, so much so that they have become almost the only cinematic means of achieving objectives. It's poisonous. So it is with various websites I no longer visit. So it is with various political and social "movements."
And so it is with the Norwegian mass murderer.
His whole point is to inject the poison of his beliefs and watch the reaction.
It is monstrous in the extreme.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
The main suspect in the Norwegian Killing Spree (at last count, some 91 dead, unknown number of injured) is blond. He's blue-eyed. In some of his professionally done head shots ::cough:: he's posing as if he were a movie star.
How can this be "terrorism?"
It's merely the act of Another Lone Gunman, who knows why they do these things? They just do. They snap. Bang-bang. Yer ded. It's something like the White Man's Overbite. It's quirky. It's probably genetic. But whatever it is, it's impossible to fully control.
In one of brief comments elsewhere on This Oslo Thing, I referred to the incident as the action of a "berserker," which may or may not be an accurate description of the Lone Gunman in this case.
What's interesting, besides the bloodlust and behavior of this person is his apparent Rightist affiliations - well, they really haven't been detailed. So we need to await further word on them - his Fundamentalist Christianity (again, not specified or detailed) - and his anti-immigrant ravings.
Ah, "purity of the blood." Yes. That has long been important in many white and right people's circles, certainly as much in this country as in any other land populated by Northern Europeans. The Other -- particularly if Brown or Black -- is simply "contamination." To be removed. Exterminated if need be.
Initially, of course, the story was that this incident -- actually "incidents," but who's counting? -- was the work of "Jihadis", a branch of which had claimed responsibility for the Oslo bombing (this was before the massacre on the island, however.)
Of course the Oklahoma City Bombing was at first attributed to mud-people, Muslims, "Jihadis", too. Muslims -- and mud-people of all kinds -- are apparently to forever be the first suspects whenever anything like this happens. It has long been a fixation of the media and the High and the Mighty, and yet we know that in a surprising number of cases, "people you would never suspect" (such as our blond and blue-eyed Norwegian boy up there) are the culprits.
And a fair exploration of what motivated McVeigh and his white brothers (and apparently some sisters) to do these things has never been done adequately. It's always a "mystery." Why would they do things like this? It just doesn't make any sense.
Yes, well. Perhaps it doesn't. Actually the motivations -- so far as we know them -- of white bombers and mass murderers tend to make a lot of "sense" in a certain very uncomfortable way for the societies within which they occur.
Many of the school shooters (remember when that was a fad?) tended to assert that they were "victims", generally of bullying. If we think about it, we realize that "bullying" by selected students has long been a means of managing schools, much as it is used similarly in prisons. It's an administrative tool. And in many cases, the school shooters were members of some despised out group, the kind of people almost ritually bullied in schools for generations. What's odd about their behavior is that they fought back with guns. That was, while it was happening, quite astonishing.
The school shooting phase has largely passed, and it may be in part because many administrators came to understand that managing schools through selected bullies wasn't working out all that well.
The McVeigh motive is largely ignored, but if I recall correctly, he and his cohorts were pretty up front about it: directly, the bombing in OKC was "revenge" or pay-back for Waco. That is not some "mysterious" motivation at all. What happened at Waco was simply appalling on every level. The whole thing was just a monstrous action from beginning to end, and it was utterly unnecessary. The Government came to understand that, eventually, but the rationale for committing this atrocity in the first place was an early example of just how twisted a Government gone out of control -- in an effort to enforce ever greater control -- can be.
To then "revenge" Waco by blowing up a Federal building in Oklahoma City together with all the people in it seems... odd... and yet, when you think about it, it's probably one of the simplest solutions to the question: "What do you do?" when you believe you have to do something to deal with the atrocities taking place around you.
And in McVeigh's case, there was more. He had apparently been ordered to do something -- which he apparently did -- while in the armed service in the Gulf War: he was a bulldozer driver in the Army, and he was ordered to drive his bulldozer over the trenches filled with Iraqi conscripts, some of whom were clearly alive. He did it, filling the trenches, and when he realized what he had done, he was filled with loathing and remorse, for himself and for the country he was serving. He had committed an atrocity himself, under orders, an atrocity that would be considered a war crime if the United States had not been Victorious in the Gulf War.
And so, when it came to "revenge" for Waco, in which dozens of innocents would be killed, as dozens of innocents died in the flames of the Branch Davidian Compound, and as who knows how many Iraqi conscript soldiers were buried alive in the trenchs out of Basra, the pattern of "acceptable" mass murder had already been set. McVeigh didn't claim to be innocent; he claimed to be justified.
And so we come to our man in Norway, and he is said to have posted something on his Twitter account, to wit:
Yes. Let me repeat that: "One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100 000 who have only interests."
This is said to be a quote from John Stuart Mill, but I haven't found any source. Doesn't mean it isn't there. What I got from the statement, however, was that it was an expression of almost pure Libertarian/Objectivism, the utter and final triumph of the Individual as Master -- through "belief." Of course, an Objectivist/Libertarian would argue it is no such thing, because... "belief" is not rational. Yes. Of course.
That's the irony, isn't it?
I do not by any means propose to know the motives of any mass murderer; I merely note there is a consistency among those who use the tactic in that they are typically white and male and often strongly individualist -- and typically OUTRAGED!!!!™ by something the "collective" -- the We in as in "We the People" -- has done or permitted.
Belief, whether it is Christianist or Objectivist or something else, particularly in the Power of the Individual to shape or control general events, is (or at least appears to be) fundamental to their action.
The murder of so many innocents will forever be the legacy of that tragic Belief.
Note: I've been following the story mostly on http://nrk.no/. Run it through Google Translator and it's pretty comprehensible, though of course, unless you understand Norwegian, the videos may be a bit hard to follow. Their coverage has been darned good given how difficult the story is for the people of Norway. They have interviewed a couple of Muslim teenagers who were on the island when the shooting started. Even though I don't understand more than a tiny bit of Norwegian, these interviews are powerful refutation of the widespread European and American caricature of Muslims out to murder us all in our beds.
Meanwhile, it is almost impossible to imagine how heartbreaking, let alone terrifying, this all must be for the Norwegian people. It's way beyond shock. The stories at the NRK news site give some sense of what the Norwegian people are going through right now.
As awful as it is -- and my heart goes out to the People of Norway -- at some point, we and Our Rulers need to grasp the horrors that have been unleashed by The West on myriad Brown and Black Peoples around the world, horrors that are the day in and day out reality for so many of them. Death from Above -- or just plain Death -- is all too real to them, nearly every day. That is what "we" are too often seen to do in the world. It must stop.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
It's Over. The manned space program called the Space Shuttle has ended. Something that meant so much to generations of Americans has ended, and there is nothing comparable to take its place.
It's hard to express how frustrating that is for so many people who looked to the Space Program as a means to further all our horizons. Now that it is over -- well, let's be honest, manned space flight has been outsourced to Russia or commercialized as a thrill ride taking off from New Mexico -- what will expand our horizons now?
I don't have an answer, but the missions that might have been will be missed.
Farewell Atlantis Landing:
Rocky Jones, Space Ranger (1954): (probably the first space show I saw on teevee)
And a version of the grand docking scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey, cobbled together from fragments of 1950's science fiction movies (including sequences of Willy Ley's famous rotating space wheel) set to the music of Strauss's Blue Danube Waltz. (Can't embed the actual scene from the Kubrick movie, but if you have a copy of it, go watch it.) What happened to the Future?
A link to Kubrick's master scene:
What ever happened to Pan Am Grip Shoes? What ever happened to Pan Am??!
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
WSWS asks the right question: "Why did UK police declare death of News of the World whistleblower 'not suspicious?'"
The story thus far:
When the former News of the World reporter Sean Hoare was found dead Monday at his home in Watford, north of London, the immediate response of the Hertfordshire police was to issue a public statement declaring his death to be “unexplained but not thought to be suspicious.”
The statement is at the very least extraordinary, and at worst sinister in its implications. Hoare is the man who broke silence on the corrupt practices at the News of the World and, most specifically, alleged that former editor Andy Coulson, who later became Prime Minister David Cameron’s director of communications, was fully aware of phone hacking that took place on an “industrial scale.”
Under these circumstances, before either a post-mortem or any investigation had been mounted, how could such a claim be made by the police?
The morning after Hoare’s body was found, former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson and his former deputy, John Yates, were to give evidence before a home affairs select committee. Stephenson had tendered his resignation Sunday and Yates Monday. They were to be quizzed by MPs on their failure to pursue any serious investigation into phone hacking or on the bribing of police officers. This was to be followed by the quizzing of News Corporation head Rupert Murdoch, his son James, chairman of News International, and former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks.
The death of Hoare means that his testimony will never be heard by any such inquiry or, more importantly, by any criminal investigation that may arise.
That's your key, right there. Hoare cannot testify. Will not. Has been prevented by events from...
Hm. Convenient, no?
Well, coinky-dinks like this are common in Britain, aren't they? And in the USofA?
UPDATE: From the Telegraph (UK)
The Prime Minister David Cameron said [In reference to Mr. Hoare's unsuspicious demise]: “The death of anyone is a tragedy for that person."
Yes. Well. Isn't that the truth.
Nothing to see here. Move along. Move along.
I confess. I do it myself. Engage in hyperbole and polemics, that is. But mixed in there will be a grain of dispassionate truth, at least I hope so. From time to time, anyway.
But as the Debt/Deficit Issue becomes overloaded and quite overripe, the level of hysteria and hyperbole has reached a dissonant crescendo.
We are not about to go over the edge of the cliff, People.
We already went over that edge a long time ago. We hit bottom. Now the survivors, such as they are, are trying to sort out the mess.
As is almost always the case, the High and the Mighty are the ones to sort things out first, and not surprisingly, they are doing so to their own benefit while the rest of us are checking with one another to see who is all right and who needs help, we're fighting with one another for whatever scraps of the past we can salvage from the wreckage, and we're trying to figure out where do we go from here.
Part of the massive level of hyperbole of the moment is the claim that "They're trying to dismantle Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Social Safety Net@!!!!" Hit the phones, people. Sign this petition!!!
Uhh. What? No, they're not trying to "dismantle" the social safety net. It doesn't really do all that much as it is, but they're trying to get you to think they're taking away what little is left, so that you'll fight among yourselves over the remainder. Hello?
Why would they want you to "fight among yourselves?" Simple, the Proles are much easier to control when they're fighting one another for the little bit they're allowed to hold on to, and furthermore, it's much easier to steal what isn't battened down (and a good deal that is) when the Proles are fighting among themselves. Hello?
And it's even better when we're panicked about this or that OUTRAGE!!!!™ being perpetrated (or at least threatened) against us.
We, being herd animals at base, are so easy to panic, after all.
No, they're not "dismantling" the social safety net. What they're doing is a classic case of "squeeze." They're making it harder and harder to access what few protections there are for suffering Humanity, and they're doing their best to take what money there is in Programs (those that haven't already been privatized, don'tchaknow) for themselves.
The Social Safety Net will still be there, it just won't work very well.
But the hype is otherwise; it's all in, all or nothing, this is the End, People! FIGHT!
But fight whom, for what exactly?
Set aside the hype and ponder that question, and maybe an Answer will be forthcoming.
At the moment, the hysteria and hyperbole are preventing any useful Answer from being revealed...
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
And I got to thinking... this is such a true picture of Our High and Our Mighty. Their whole world, indeed, their reason for being, is to put one over on the Rubes to be sure, but to put one over on one another perhaps more importantly. Basically, they are "creating reality" for one and all as they go; they are the ones who manufacture and market beliefs through their propaganda agencies (in the case of the Murdochs, their media empire; in the case of governments, their complicit media). It gets to the point where there is no truth any more, which is the whole point of the Post-Modern news media, largely based on the Murdoch model. Those who own and control it create the Reality Soup in which we swim. It's a neat trick.
The Ivins Anthrax Matter -- This morning brought news in my local paper that the Department of Justice and the FBI are at some odds regarding the story of the culpability of Dr. Bruce Ivins as The Anthrax Mailer. In fact, the DoJ is arguing in court that Ivins did not have access to the material and equipment he needed in order to create the anthrax material found in the letters sent to politicians and the media shortly after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001. This is, of course, a very interesting revelation, though no conclusions can be drawn from it. The story grows out of an investigation being conducted by Frontline, McClatchy News, and ProPublica for a Frontline documentary to be aired sometime later this year.
Frontline, as we know, has been denounced in no uncertain terms by the Civil Liberties Community for "smearing" Bradley Manning in its profile of him several weeks ago. Apparently, any mention of Manning's behavior, his private life, his family or his emotional turmoil in connection with his (apparent) leak of hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks is by definition a "smear" according to Manning's supporters. And once a "smear" has been perpetrated, the "smearing" entity must then forever be anathema. The same sort of denunciations happened when New York Magazine published a profile of Manning that brought up his complicated sexual issues and kind of horrifying family life. These denunciations are permanent until the denounced media outlets produce something its denunciators agree with, in which case all is forgiven as if it had never happened.
It's bizarre, but that's the way it goes. At any rate, the Ivins story has never scanned properly in any case. The whole Anthrax Episode is one of the more compelling and disturbing in our history. The anthrax had to come from a domestic, military lab. And thus, the suspicion is that the mailings and deaths that resulted were designed and perpetrated from within the Government, perhaps by the military, for the specific purpose of terrorizing media and public figures to accept the restrictions on their liberties by passing the PATRIOT Act. The Congress promptly did so. The media has, ever since, pretty much celebrated it.
But the "investigation" has been going on for nearly ten years without a proper resolution, and could easily go on for another ten or twenty or more and still not come up with the Truth. What we are bound to find, as is the case with the Murdoch Thing, is that the Truth will be created, invented as we go.
Frustrating, but there you are.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
I've posted the question many times, "Whatever Happened to The Future?" In 1939, the Future did not look all that bright to very many conscientious observers. War-clouds were not just on the horizon, they were gathering over many lands, and the storm was well underway in China, Spain, Ethiopia and elsewhere.
In 1939, the New York World's Fair opened in Flushing Meadows nevertheless, and Americans -- and the World, at least for a brief shining moment -- were allowed to glimpse what the Future could hold for them. This film, made by the Westinghouse Company, features a quasi-conflict between a Leftist Malcontent and the Bright and Shining Capitalist World of abundance and leisure made possible by Westinghouse innovation and persistence. It's actually quite a good exploration of the difference between a collectivist vision and a corporatist one. But few could have realized it at the time.
Little did they know that the world would be plunged into a period of immense bloodshed and destruction, from which only the United States and the Western Hemisphere would emerge more or less unscathed. The world of 1949 would be very different from the world of 1939, so different that many of the concerns and interests of the characters of this film would seem irrelevant or quaint.
Nevertheless, the picture gives a glimpse of the hopes and the dreams -- and the pessimism -- of those who entered the 1940's on a wing and a prayer.
It's worth the time to sit through now, as the peoples of the the United States and the World once again contemplate whatever happened to The Future.
Running time: 55 Minutes