Saturday, May 29, 2010

The GOP platform...

Appears to be an oil platform that exploded and sank to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Follow the $.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Whoremonger GOP Sen. David Vitter suggests bailing out BP oil while the "opposition" party offers nothing...

Louisiana--This steaming pile of excrement (both of them constituting one turd) really has no shame and supports the contention that most abortion opponents should in fact have been aborted. Don't get me wrong: Louisianans keep reelecting this piece-of-shit, so they deserve him and the mess in the Gulf of Mexico, and for many other reasons I don't even care to go into here since I'm not being paid for this shit...

The fact of the matter is, both major parties have been feeding at the trough of oil and energy company donations for decades, over a century. Today, Vitter's ostensible and also compromised political rival, Democratic House Rep. Charlie Melancon, got choked up over...his political future, but at least he's lashing-out at BP and Vitter.

Why should he worry? As profoundly stupid as voters in Louisiana are, this gusher in the Gulf could be a game changer on a fundamental level. Both candidates are incumbents. This happened on their watch too, and fool me several hundred times stops being charming in the face of an environmental catastrophe brought about by cronyism and corruption in the unseemly relationship between politics and business in America.

Like Vitter, Melancon's taken his share of contributions from Big Oil: according to, a site that tracks the campaign contributions of American politicians at the national level, Melancon received $65,000 in donations from "oil & gas" for the 2009-2010 election cycle alone, coming from "individuals" and "PACs." This makes his connections to Big Oil and the energy industries almost similar to Vitter's, but a closer look at the details makes it plain that Vitter is the largest recipient by many miles. Still, I'm not sure Melancon can be trusted either. The Republican's record speaks for itself, and it's monaural, but Louisianans are a backward lot, so he could still win, and his 78 might be a hit. Donations are currently easy to track, but there have been developments that will endanger this. Why do you think SCOTUS was dragged-in to repair the hemorrhaging of information that anyone with a pulse can obtain in just a few minutes? This is a bad political generation in crisis, a bad corporate order falling, and they're all scared.

But if you look at what Vitter and Melancon received for 2009-2010 from Big Oil and Energy, it's about the same proportionally. That's why we call it a political crisis. Other sources of money coming from Big Oil and Energy might be hidden within the individuals and PACs and with the recent Supreme Court ruling that allows corporations the same rights to privacy in political donations as a member of the public, we're going to see even more of this, albeit discovering the sources is going to be harder than ever, if not impossible in some cases. The courts might be the only way to obtain many of them in the future.

However, Vitter has raised significantly more than Melancon by at least $7 million, begging the question of whether one comes cheaper than the other; his success in raising so much begs the question of how significant Louisiana is to the GOP and corporate strategies. David says he's a populist, a wealthy man of the people who sides with giant corporations. Vitter had the poker-faced temerity to release this statement on April 30th of this year, just ten days after the Gulf gusher began, an unsurprising anti-government message he's known for, but he'll reverse himself in another context, rest assured:
U.S. Sen. David Vitter today inspected the damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and met with federal, state and local officials to discuss the ongoing cleanup efforts. Following his discussions, he urged Cabinet members and state and local officials in the meetings to streamline the cleanup efforts of BP and federal and state agencies.

“Based on the latest briefings and discussions with the federal and state parties involved, BP is spread too thin in trying to both cap the well and remediate the damage along the coastline, producing an inefficient and ineffective response,” said Vitter. “I urge all involved to allow BP to focus all of its efforts on building a dome and drilling a relief well at the source of the spill so that federal and state officials can focus their efforts on protecting and cleaning up the coast.”

Earlier today, Vitter took an aerial tour of the affected area in a U.S. Coast Guard aircraft with Homeland Security Sec. Janet Napolitano and other officials, and he later attended a meeting in Robert with Napolitano and Interior Sec. Ken Salazar, along with other federal, state and local officials and representatives from the Coast Guard. Vitter was also set to meet with representatives of the Louisiana fishing industry to discuss ways to mitigate the damage to Louisiana fisheries.

“Our prayers continue to go out to the families and co-workers of the victims of the explosion,” said Vitter. “We’re facing a very serious situation along the Gulf Coast.”

In his meetings with Sec. Napolitano and other officials, Vitter also urged them to do whatever is necessary to help those most directly affected, including Louisiana fishermen and oystermen. Vitter intends to offer them any support they need from the federal level and will continue monitoring the efforts to protect Louisiana’s coast and the state’s valuable fishing habitats. (vitter.senate.gove, 04.30.2010)

Louisiana Democrats are calling the bill a "bailout" for BP, which isn't far off, but they share the blame. Melancon has raised over $2 million so far, not exactly making him come off as a populist candidate either, but in fairness, he's gotten a majority of his donations from "individuals." Soon, many of those "individuals" are going to be corporations, and it's going to be under the table and out of view of a pesky and meddlesome public. Candidates like Vitter and an embattled GOP will need those "back doors" to save themselves as time grinds on.

As an aside, one of Melancon's single largest donors is Comcast, not exactly a liberal or socially responsible firm by any stretch of the imagination. I leave it to the reader to dig deeper into the respective voting records of both candidates, it ain't pretty.

But Vitter's behaviors are truly offensive. Just thirteen days after the April 30th statements, he and Alabama's Republican Senator Jeff Sessions introduced this bill at the behest of the oil corporations and the GOP leadership since they're the party piss-boys (Vitter was Karl Rove's errand boy during Katrina, ensuring that little aid reached the state over partisan grounds):

The Oil Spill Response and Assistance Act, introduced today by the two conservative Republicans, would create a new liability cap equal to the last four quarters of the responsible party's profits or double the current limit of $75 million, whichever is greater. In this case, according to the senators, the liability limit for BP would be $20 billion under their statute. The liability is in addition to the responsibility to pay for the cleanup of the spill.

The measure, sponsored by two longstanding supporters of offshore drilling, would place an even greater potential burden on BP than legislation sponsored by Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Frank Lautenberg, R-N.J, who are unsparing critics of offshore drilling, which would lift the cap to $10 billion. ...But Lautenberg said the floor of $150 million in the Vitter-Session bill is "too low." He said he is going to attempt to add his measure today as an amendment to the financial services bill being debated by the Senate. ("David Vitter, Jeff Sessions offer bill to raise liability cap after Gulf Oil spill,", 05.13.10)
Nice, but BP should pay for it all. Once again, we get a doublespeak presentation that's meant to create the appearance that they're actually raising the cap and doing something when they're clearly not. Were that the case, "cap" wouldn't be anywhere in the language. Antitrust laws exist on the books. If only Attorney General Eric Holder and the president would uphold some of them.

“Louisiana Senator David Vitter wants BP bailed out,” The Kentucky Democrat, 05.28.10:

“REPRESENTATIVE (D-LA), Charlie Melancon,”, 2010 cycle:

“SENATOR (R-LA), David Vitter,”, 2010 cycle:

"David Vitter, Jeff Sessions offer bill to raise liability cap after Gulf Oil spill,", 05.13.10:

Monday, May 24, 2010

"Mr. Smiley" (product review)


With my first few tokes I wasn't expecting anything at all.

Not a buzz, certainly not a high, but I was surprised after around seven hits: this comes awfully close to being a lot like a marijuana buzz and high. Let's not get carried away, however. “Mr. Smiley” (which also goes by the monikers "K2" and "spice," among others) is one of those many enigmatic products littering our shelves and lives these days, and like most pharmaceuticals, it doesn't have a seal of approval from the now nearly defunct Food and Drug administration, created at the behest of the public and that communist, President Theodore Roosevelt, who, when he read an article citing slaughterhouse conditions uncovered by writer and muckraker Upton Sinclair (a socialist, say no more! The ignominy! The gall in caring about people and our nation, the temerity!) exclaimed over his breakfast on that fateful day in 1906 that, “I've been poisoned!” and indeed he had, but it was too late and a bad case of the trots was on his agenda for the evening.

Out of the kindness of his own Red heart, for his own Red heart's well-being, he ordered the creation of the communistic FDA. As we all know, life was never the same after that and an economic disaster ensued that reduced things to stone age conditions forever. A calamity of better health, nutrition, working conditions, and lower profits began to ruin America until very, very recently after all the Soviet Jews were run out of the federal bureaucracy on a rail, and replaced with nice people from the industries who merely want to feed us contaminated, ersatz foodstuffs and drugs at hyper-inflated prices. Truly, this has been part of our wonderful way of life...if you're one of the few within the saintly ranks of our Captains of Industry, men who have worked harder than all the sweatshop workers and illegal immigrant slaves combined!
Hype or reality?

Because Mr. Smiley is sold by different names and has evolved in different forms, most states have voted to ban the chemical compounds JWH-018 and JWH-073, synthetic compounds created by a Clemson University researcher to mimic the effects of cannabis on the brain.

According to published reports, the recipe to make those chemical compounds were eventually leaked to chemists in China, who began producing the compound and selling it as a marijuana substitute. By 2008, the synthetic marijuana began arriving on shelves in the United States, where it gained rapidly in popularity.

Because the compound is marketed as incense, it does not require Food and Drug Administration approval for sale and no long-term studies of its use have been completed.

"That's the thing, no one really knows how bad it is," Dieter said. "It may be much ado about nothing, but there's too much that we don't know about it."

It's also not known how popular synthetic marijuana truly is in South Bend.
(City not smiling about Mr. Smiley," South Bend Tribune, 05.24.10)

Cry bitter tears for these poor men, brothers and sisters, because it's truly the White man's burden for them to sip champagne on the French Riviera while everyone else toils for them and consumes their toxic products that make our nation what it is: a gastrointestinal nightmare where the water supply is less-and-less safe and about to become privatized along with the air we breathe. Progress, indeed, has its price. But what of the “D” in the FDA, a communistic anagram if ever there was one? Yes, that other naughty word, besides the aforementioned “Jew,” the Satanic-infused word, “drug.” Yes, the FDA is responsible for marijuana still being off the lists as medicinally useful as well as a powerful narcotic, hence its persistence as an effective tool in throwing niggers and spics in prison when times are hard (and whites who "won't get with the program"). Poisoned by the free market?

Yes, haven't we all been after a little over a century later with the wacky-yet-divinely inspired wave of whipped-up sentiment to deregulate almost everything and to head willy-nilly towards the Maoist altar to Ayn Rand and the magazine stand erected to Lenin. Both are not-so-secretly adored by the GOP, secretly by mainstream Democratic leaders. Yes, the cranks have had their generation of fun, but the party's over, and it's time to pay the waiter...but all they have are Euros. What of Mr. Smiley? No, this isn't your grandfather's corn silk or Jimson weed, which you should never, ever smoke if you want to retain your ability to breathe or reason (potentially answering some of the question as to why rural voters shit where they eat) ever again, and besides, crank is for cranks these days.

According to my own eyes, the product has been sold at convenience stores and gas stations in my own part of the Midwest, namely, Northern Indiana and parts of Michigan. How does this product smoke? Very smoothly, I must say, and with an aftertaste that's very similar if not exactly like some decent Mexican weed, the so-so kind they leave for the rest of us and put on a NAFTA-approved semi-trailer bound for desperate potheads who will smoke literally anything to keep their buzz on. Mr. Smiley is made up of (according to the label, so it must be true...) TWO ingredients: “Damiana leaf” and “Mullein leaf extract,” about which I know very little, like high fructose corn syrup, glutemates, and all the other horseshit that manufacturers put into our food supply for reasons that would only make sense to a Soviet bureaucrat. You'll forgive the last contradiction, but this is being written by a product of the American educational system, also patterned after the factory model, so bear with us on this.

First ingredient, Mullein leaf: This is often used as an herbal treatment for asthma! Is it safe? Yes it is, and it is sometimes known to cause a sense of drowsiness, like marijuana, and it's also an expectorant like that Weed of Satan. It's a mild sedative in some people, a common side-effect. It's sold by herbalist outlets in greater quantities than the less-than-an-ounce (one gram) little dispenser that Mr. Smiley comes in. In other words, it's significantly cheaper in larger quantities elsewhere. You can even buy it by-the-pound from

Second ingredient, Damiana leaf: This is roughly the same deal. You can buy it off the Internet easily, and in quantity for a very low amount of money. Effects? In women, it's allegedly a “natural aphrodisiac,” meaning that it's bullshit and doesn't work at all in that area or most others claimed by those who sell it. Ask a botanist or a pharmacologist. You know: people who are evil communist scientists (the evil "Dr. Yakub" from the Nation of Islam's cosmology) or "fill-in-the-blank" since they have the temerity to be factually correct, trumping one's ego and personal narrative. Interestingly, Damiana lowers blood glucose levels like marijuana does when ingested or smoked, though it's more commonly ingested in tinctures and extracts. It might have psychoactive properties in some people. Sounds like snake oil bullshit, doesn't it?

So, how did “Mr. Smiley” become a “product”? Because some douche-nozzles sat around one day (as most asshole entrepreneurs have in the past in America, and the disease has been exported) trying to figure-out how they could get people to buy something they never wanted, needed, and could buy cheaper and assemble its constituents themselves, and then make a good profit. Take the money and run. There is no product code on the product. There is no address either. There is no Internet address. Yes, “Mr. Smiley” “works,” but you could save yourself a lot of time and money and simply buy its ingredients online for much cheaper, in larger quantities, and put these banal free market crackheads out of business along with the legitimate heat they're getting from the Police. But is it even safe?

Rumors--and that's all that they are so far--are saying that the substance is dangerous. How do they know? That said, I wouldn't advise anyone to buy or smoke it, and I only inhaled enough to see if there was indeed a buzz to be had. There is. Other rumors state that it's being packaged in China, though no evidence is forthcoming on that claim. One thing's certain: by pasting the story all over the Internet, TV, radio, and the like throughout Michiana, every kid in the region who would want to know about the fake drug will now, and they could very well end up finding it, online in one form or another. This has been facilitated by both the local political establishment, the Police, and what's left of the press. Thanks, assholes. Why not just let the kids smoke pot? We know it's not going to hurt them and that the FDA's stance on the substance is a purely political one. Do not taunt Mr. Smiley...

Grade: An “C-” for the fact that it works, and an “F” for them being typical hustler/grifter douche-nozzle fucks.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Why she came to America... (a satire)

"Why? Why did you come here?” they asked her, almost incredulously, but their questions were also mixed with a sense of profound fear and admiration. Some of them quaked in her presence knowing a little of what she was about and less of where she had been. The reporters attending her event wanted to know; they always wanted to know, and usually the most inane details, everything that was beside the point, tangential. She sighed internally and wished she could unleash her media Blitzkrieg (more like the “Schlieffen plan”) now, at this moment. She could hardly bear waiting any longer and felt the craving coming on. Were all paid speaking engagements this grueling? Maybe she could roll everybody after the speech.

This was a tough crowd, descended from European cave dwelling mutants who could detect the faintest scent of blood in the air, real sharps, sharks would cower when they were around. To show any signs of humanity could compromise her overarching philosophical agenda, triggering a genuine Mexican standoff before its time. Surprise was everything. Was her cheater showing? The waiting was killing her, but it was better this way. Had she remembered to tell the help to pack her .9mm with laser sighting and intelligent ammunition along with the sarong, the first editions of Rand, and the collected speeches of Lenin? She had. She chuckled that rednecks believed what she wrote and said when they were all from different worlds, but believe her they did, the rubes. What was most amazing was that these were the people fooling everyone else.

The attendees all looked slick, too slick, in fact, to be human. Some came running. Others were gathered there, the suits, in a peculiar semi-circle, chanting some strange and factually incorrect mantra about Adam Smith; it sounded more like a reunion of the outer heads of the O.T.O. to her, and it grated upon this realization. There are no Secret Chiefs. She knew that the core secret of Western Civilization was that no one was in control. The rest was a myth, but you could have some fun on the way back down into the mire if you played your cards right like the rest of the squalid nihilists. Only the eternal moment and objects mattered, and how useful they were.

Their clothing was of the finest materials, tailored as close to perfection as this life's gonna get, brother. Most were wearing lightweight body armor and held high security clearances because of who they were; 93.7% of them hadn't slept with their wives in over a decade. They were entitled. Their innermost collective secret was that their suits fit so well that you felt naked, and this was very true; they were feeling the love, higher than kites, clutching a staggering variety of mixed, hard drinks and packing powerful narcotics that were illegal for everyone else when she first entered the complex.

Some of them were CEOs, others bankers, and they all agreed that if the public--never mind their underlings and the redneck petit bourgeois--ever knew how truly freewheeling their lifestyles were they might view them as communists and hippies. The reality is, in their own sick, twisted, degenerated, and delusional style, they really were, ensconced in a cocoon of free market self-deceit and a smokescreen for the little people to chew on. The old methods weren't bringing in the dazzling profits anymore, so communism it would be, but just for them. They enjoyed lying to each other and considered it a form of sex. They lied so much that whatever the lie was, it became true on accident most of the time, except that that route was delivering less all of the time. Nothing was real, but they weren't all born liars. Lying requires those first baby steps forward, and these were real monkeys, this lot. The first one is always the hardest, they say, but it gets easier each time...lying that is, not combat kills or the behaviors of people like Ted Bundy, a serial killer who nearly became a Republican congressman from Washington state, a real “ladies man”. The others that got further than Bundy were able to hide the bodies better, with considerable effort, but old habits die hard.

“Why?” another smarmy attendee demanded again.

“Thee ansower ees wary simpal,” she said, and giggled (and snorted) falsely in her Slavic accent, “bud yoo weel haff' to wade for eemportant messaage forst.” Was it a Slavic accent? At times it seemed to waver in-and-out of that and a Germanic inflection. In an instant, a holographic advertisement appeared to fly dramatically out of one of their ears and half of them pondered the effects of the new technology on the human psyche but then wrote it off since questioning it might cost them a promotion down the line. These holograms were creepy because they appeared so real, so solid, as though they even emanated normal ambient sound that all objects make and which we sense almost subliminally. Of course, it wasn't real, but neither were any of their social interactions, so who cared? Not them. Still, they all persisted over why she had come to America.

“Greed?” queried one of the journalists in a dramatic non sequitur that had everyone agog. He was forcibly removed by two men in Chekist-style leather jackets with earpieces and a criminal record that was thicker than the Paris directory or even Department of Homeland Security contractors.

They showed no emotion when they first grabbed him, then dragged his person into a nearby warehouse, never to be seen or heard from again. His person was not pleased, but that was his tough shit. They continued on. They all looked to her with half-earnest yearning: in other words, only because they might get something out of it for free. The expulsions were thrilling, possibly one of the few existentialist realizations they would ever experience in their miserable, gray lives. A few of them were Rotarians, so they knew the drill, understood it's permutations, exalted its psychobabble, and pronounced it “marketable”.

“Sowry, yore juss'goink to haff to wade!” she said with equanimity and a trace of murderous annoyance, but only in her eyes, those windows to the soul, and hers were clouded. Her mind raced, and she beheld a superimposition of her thoughts of the Italian Christian Democrat, Giulio Andreotti--his visage--over the gathered attendees. In an instant, the thought form was gone.

They all waited some more, and in no time, the commercial's message was clear: there was something missing from their lives. Yes, they could feel it, and they all began drinking heavily, which was normal for most of them anyway. Some began breaking-out mainlining-kits, cocaine paraphernalia (including a few rolled-up Franklins), while others began having religious conversions and began quaking, speaking in tongues, and other forms of deviant sexual intercourse disguised through ritual.

“Yoo see, deer ees a rea-son why I haff called yoo heer dis' even-ink.” and she paused dramatically.

“Because 'someone's been murdered?' ” asked one of them, without thinking first. He'd been spotted and tagged as a known heckler at concerts for over three decades and Karma had finally come-a'-knockin'.

“Zer ees now!” she spat back, and the two nondescript men returned, this time grinning. “I'm gonna enjoy dis' one.” said the shorter one, and his fist made instantaneous contact with the journalist, breaking their jaw and his hand. “OK, maybe I'm not going to enjoy this, shit!” and held his hand in the crook of his arm as though he had a sling on it. Both the reporter and the goon were dragged to the warehouse and never seen nor heard from again.

“Wow, she's not fucking around, is she?” said someone in a voice that appeared to be emanating from everywhere and nowhere.

She continued: “Yoo may now ask questshuns.” and they gathered at her feet. She felt nothing but contempt for them, which was appropriate considering her escape from...and what of her actual last name? Why did she change it, and why the specific WASP surname? She'd never tell anyone, not on your life, man. Her thoughts floated to the image of a bottle of Pernod, and she warmed to it.

“Why, then, madam, did you come to these here U-ni-ted States?” asked an 87 year old Rotarian. He was wearing a bandolier over his Armani suit, kept pushing his horn-rimmed glasses back up his nose, and recalled that he needed to pay his American Legion dues for next year.

“Zat ees eazy wun for to ansower. Yoo see, een A'murka, you haff thee right to be wrongk, and eet pays goot too!”

“Is that it?” asked a young woman who had been walking past.

“Da. Zer ees mohr: yoo can say whad the fuck yoo want here too...”


Friday, May 14, 2010

President Obama is to the right of Reagan

In case you haven't figured this one out, ostensible President Barack Obama rhetorically "slammed" BP and the contractors that caused the oil rig explosion and leak fifty miles off of the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico three weeks ago and topped it off with a not-so-cute cherry from the past: a comment made by Republican President Ronald Reagan, that other GOP executive the whose policies the current president is so in love with. The President himself almost seemed to choke on it when he uttered it, but the Mighty Oz had once again been invoked, albeit indirectly, and ambiguously. Reagan stood for...what? Big business and deregulation, little else.

At least in Lincoln's case he was fighting for the preservation of federalism, a basically settled issue most Americans appear to have missed. In Obama's case, he's just continuing more of what we've seen over the last thirty years which went into warp drive under the Republican president. Reagan was also a lot of rhetoric and bluster, and offered little in the realms of real substance or constructive social action.

Indeed, President Obama and his speech writers are going to tell us what we want to hear in decidedly Populist overtones, but we all know that it's hollow, that it has no substance. Well, at least most Black Americans appear to based on more recent polling, whatever that means. Sure, as far as anyone can tell, nobody's running prostitution and sex-for-contracts out of the offices of the Department of Interior anymore, but that's because the GOP is out of the power for the moment. They tend to get caught with their asses hanging-out, they're slow like that. The American public can be counted on to bring them back into office before long out of mindless habit and few options, and they'll continue the Republicans' own version of wrecking society that's impossible to miss since they don't care what anyone thinks. The Democratic Party's incumbents are more cunning and sell themselves as being of the people. That's a myth that's dying hard, but dying it is.

Comparing President Obama's record so far in dealing with our current economic crisis, you'd have to wonder if his other favorite Republican president was Herbert Hoover, a man who was roundly despised by the WWII generation for his inaction during the first three years of the Great Depression. As a result of Hoover's stupidity, the GOP became a minority party for fifty years, give-or-take, but they did their best to cause as much trouble as possible after WWII. Being from the same mold as them, Obama's no FDR, not even close. Lincoln? At least in Lincoln's case he was fighting for the preservation of federalism, the Union. In Obama's, he's just continuing more of what we've seen over the last thirty years and is really just another advocate of deregulation. He is most likely to be viewed as a mediocre president in the intervening years, if he's lucky. But the Democrats know hope fiends when they see them, they know where to hit people where they live.

Indeed, President Obama and his speech writers are going to tell us what we want to hear in decidedly Populist overtones, but we all know that it's hollow, that it has no substance. Sure, as far as anyone can tell, nobody's running prostitution and sex-for-contracts out of the offices of the Department of Interior anymore, but that's because the GOP is out of the power for the moment. The American public can be counted on to bring them back into office before long, and they'll continue their own version of wrecking society that's impossible to miss since they don't care what anyone thinks. The Democratic Party's incumbents are more cunning and sell themselves as being of the people. That's a myth that's dying hard, but dying it is.

In comparing the Obama administration's record so far in dealing with our current economic crisis with the 1930s, you begin to wonder if his other favorite Republican president was Herbert Hoover, a man who was roundly despised by the WWII generation for his inaction during the first three years of the Great Depression. The reality is that we've strayed even further to the right in the last generation in a way that's hard to describe, partly because of the cultural wars on language, something the economic establishment always benefits from.

From the president's comments yesterday:
...Let me also say, by the way, a word here about BP and the other companies involved in this mess. I know BP has committed to pay for the response effort, and we will hold them to their obligation. I have to say, though, I did not appreciate what I considered to be a ridiculous spectacle during the congressional hearings into this matter. You had executives of BP and Transocean and Halliburton falling over each other to point the finger of blame at somebody else. The American people could not have been impressed with that display, and I certainly wasn't.

I understand that there are legal and financial issues involved, and a full investigation will tell us exactly what happened. But it is pretty clear that the system failed, and it failed badly. And for that, there is enough responsibility to go around. And all parties should be willing to accept it.That includes, by the way, the federal government. For too long, for a decade or more, there has been a cozy relationship between the oil companies and the federal agency that permits them to drill. It seems as if permits were too often issued based on little more than assurances of safety from the oil companies. That cannot and will not happen anymore. To borrow an old phrase, we will trust, but we will verify. ...("Text of the remarks of Obama to the oil spill," Breitbart, 05.14.10)
Yes, it's also an old Russian saying, and has been used in other contexts. When politicians use it, it usually means that they're in deep shit and aren't a part of the solution (albeit, one day, we'll all be the solution!). Yes, he was also extending yet another laurel to those Republicans who so badly wants to woo. Why doesn't he get that it's never going to happen? Because he's operating under false assumptions. It's reminiscent of the Clinton administration for a reason: most of them are back in office. What should be implicitly clear is that the Obama administration isn't cleaning up the Department of Interior anymore than they're cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico.

But rest assured, the speculators are. In America, they always do. It helps to have your man in office seeding the bureaucracy with corporate executives and lobbyists (sometimes the same thing), creating that proverbial "revolving door" where the people are shut out, but the suits are always welcome. That's an bum rush, and the current administration is no exception in all of this. At this writing, they've yet to remove hundreds of Bush II appointees, an administration now going into its second year. That rarely ever occurs under the GOP. When they come into office, they sweep the place clean of past appointees with few exceptions. You might ask your president why he's so cozy with such questionable people who come fresh from the cocoons of Wall Street, most specifically from Goldman Sachs, but also coming from other "interest groups."

Only the public can reform government, and they're sitting on their hands, hoping, waiting, for someone to do it for them. That's certainly a big part of the problem with many of the attitudes surrounding President Barack Obama.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Some more observations on conspiracy buffs and the Boogeyman...

They--the ubiquitous "they"--see them everywhere, and they know the score, according to...well, to them. Above all others, they understand the "true" machinations of our civilization, never mind those silly academics-they're part of the conspiracy too if they don't agree with the conspiracy buffs. Which conspiracy theory? Take your pick. Isn't it really about crime, under the color of law and authority? Isn't that something you could actually try in a court of law, before a jury? Wouldn't going after politicians who are criminals by treating them as such work better? No, it's a conspiracy, because that's easier for me to unthink about.

The truth? Ultimate truth is unknowable, so the conspiracy gurus like the Alex Joneses and Alex Constantines of the world must be elves, pixies, faeries, and the Oracle at Delphi, atop mount Parnassus, telling everyone what they already know: that conspiracy buffs are full of shit, possibly nuts in many cases, and need to get a life and learn to be responsible citizens who really watchdog their government. Constantine claims that he once did. He might return to his good work, but like Alex Jones, it takes him all morning to get his coffee back from the toxicology lab. No, the ones that really get away with murder in our society are the business & finance sectors. But most of the cranks love them, contrary claims aside, because those CEOs believe most of the same things that the dopes do: the Libertarian credo of the lawless Frontier maverick (long dead in the real world, meaning it's alive-and-well on Wall Street and in boardrooms) who's entitled to do whatever he wants without any repercussions. That's not freedom for everyone else, it's negative freedom, negative "Liberty."

There are legitimate researchers, journalists, and historians out there who are doing diligent and thoughtful work that at least eventually gets some kind of a "peer review" (we won't dwell on the nano-thermite flap regarding the rickety WTC-7), and they should be thanked. Naming them here would be unfair, and anyone familiar with academic intelligence history and credible historiographical research (private and academic) into our political history knows wildly speculative crap when they see it. Many in the public today do not, and I lay the blame at the feet of educators and the individual. The mainstream media is also sorely to blame. Too many members of the public are simply not credible or rational thinkers, generally, and more standardized requirements for logic training would go a long way in ameliorating this problem. Americans don't stand on the international stage as especially rational thinkers, hardly. Many Americans have literally never written a thesis in their entire lives if they even know what it means.

Our domestic policies are a great illustration of this: on the one hand, many Americans don't trust their government (thanks partly to scandals like Watergate and Iran-Contra, but perpetuated by anti-government cranks who call themselves "conspiracy researchers," etc.), yet expect to receive social services from it. The prevalence of the myth of "the disappeared" gives this attitude an especially weird quality when one considers that many Americans don't want to pay taxes, but again, expect social services like Social Security checks, roads, bridges, power plants, drinkable water, and all of the things social infrastructure can bring. Still, according to some on the fringe, the government is totalitarian and "evil." That's a conservative argument, though not a traditional one. There are no real conservatives, but that's a theme for another time.

The fact is that even with all of the corruption, the bribing lobbyists, crony appointments, kiss-ass politicians, a mostly comatose and wrong-headed public, obviously unconstitutional legislation, absurd Supreme Court rulings, and the resultant scandals and cock-ups, they still have to deliver these social services because the social contract has to be served. Regardless of what anyone says, we're still a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, no matter how impaired these things might be at present. Classical liberal theory on servicing the social contract through the redistribution of wealth is a warning, not a threat, that if you don't manage your society wisely, you will reap chaos. If it is not, you can expect very serious drama indeed. What the conspiracy buffs and nuts are saying is that the social contract has been entirely forfeited, and that's not true by any stretch, especially compared to many other nations around the world where it's patently obvious that that's the case. However, were many of them to have it their way, yes, a cohesive society we can be proud of would be almost entirely null-and-void.

Without even understanding what the social contract is, conspiracy nuts say that we're already at the critical mass, that the government isn't delivering--or even that it should at all. Most of these people don't believe in traditional Western democracy nor the ideals of the French Revolution, meaning Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality. They're barbarians. They don't really believe in our most cherished American ideals of Liberty and democracy. What they believe in is selling you a t-shirt or a poorly researched and produced DVD so that they can turn a profit off of social discontent and sell you the anti-government line. Government is only as good as the people of a nation, and in that sense, it's not complicated. You must stay engaged. You must watch the watchers as a lifetime responsibility. If you want government services--rich, poor, or even middle-class--you must expect to pay for them, but you should also pay your fair share. When the top 500 corporations are often paying significantly less than a working-class individual, something's very wrong with the body politic.

But the conspiracy nuts--in-the-main--don't get this...or much else.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Misinterpreting events on purpose, so you don't have to!

The South Bend Tribune--and I'm not laying the blame entirely at their feet on this one--had an article today titled, "Teens taping fights: 'It shocks the conscience,' " a tale of teen bullying in South Bend (specifically between girls) and the recording of fights on cell phones and camcorders by other teens that are then uploaded onto the Internet for a variety of reasons that even the piece itself misses, or somehow ignores at its own peril. The reporting in the piece is generally very solid by all appearances and journalist Mary Kane Malone appears to have covered all of her bases, but as usual, the analysis and general thrust of it is all wrong, and that's the fault of a newspaper editor.

As a matter of fact, that's usually the case, but it also takes conglomerates reminding editors that they too have a mortgage to pay, so hyperbole it is.

I'm not going to name the names of the victims again and don't think that it was appropriate for the conglomerate-owned Tribune to list them but not their attackers. What is the precise hyperbole, or the hype of the article? This is incredible: the immorality of other kids standing by and recording the attacks/fights on their cell phones and posting them online, ostensibly to inflict more emotional harm and humiliation upon the victims. I'm certain most of these kids were acting in concert with the bullies, no argument there, but why is it a bad thing ultimately? The fact is that it's a good development regardless of the motives of most of the players.

Thirty years ago--and even as recent as fifteen--these acts of violence by children directed towards other children went unnoticed, they were rampant, and adults didn't want to deal with it anymore then than they do now--and that's the real heart of the article. People, especially authorities like principals, parents, police, and even juvenile professionals, don't want to deal with the issue of children inflicting violence upon each other. The trick is to change the subject or the focus:
The video of the fight had gone viral, the girl says, spreading from cell phone to cell phone. In less than a day, it seemed everyone in school had witnessed Chastity's humiliation. Teenage fights now include a new weapon: the camera phone. For parents, school administrators and law enforcement officials, the recorded fights provide a disturbing portrait of teenage violence that, until now, was only seen by those who witnessed it directly. "It shocks the conscience," said Capt. Phil Trent, spokesman for South Bend police. Parents of the victims say they are horrified at the gall of witnesses to flip out their phones and press "record" rather than intervene. But the kids? They call it entertainment. ... (The South Bend Tribune, 05.09.10)
This may or may not be true that it's "entertainment" and they're casting a blanket over the kids generally, as an entire demographic when there's no solid evidence--just a couple anecdotes--being proffered that the phenomena is widespread. Even if it were, how would they know why every kid recording an event was doing so?

But then, the article breaks down and admits that youth experts don't really know why the kids record the fights. Is that really the point? Again, from the article itself, this is the real point (my emphasis): "For parents, school administrators and law enforcement officials, the recorded fights provide a disturbing portrait of teenage violence that, until now, was only seen by those who witnessed it directly." Correct. Until very recently, the technology to record these events in a portable and easy manner was too expensive. Now, there's no running away from the problem since kids are unwisely (or very wisely) posting what is essentially incriminating evidence of children violently and criminally attacking other children. Before, this was impossible, and authorities could only rely on the hearsay of children, a morass of "he-said, she-said" recriminations that were once almost impossible to confirm, to corroborate. That's all changed now.

In short, many of these kids are doing the "right" thing, knowingly or unknowingly.

Some of these kids are alerting the rest of society that there are vicious sociopaths in our midst and showing us their actions. When it's done in the interest of society, of others, it's a very positive social act, a civic duty to report a crime. In the "wrong" hands they're also incriminating themselves and will probably be dragged into the tidal wave of civil suits that are likely to come out of these new technologies of easy dissemination, the power of the Internet writ large, as large as you can get.
"The (bullies) are basically making a recording of the evidence," providing a clear picture of who threw the first punch and how it ended, said William Bruinsma, director of the St. Joseph County Juvenile Justice Center. Police say a videotaped shoving match posted online might be handled differently than one that is not recorded. "The same shoving match, being turned into a form of entertainment by a third party on the Internet is enough to make parents, school administrators and law enforcement" take a second look, said Trent, the South Bend police spokesman. ... (ibid)
It's not about entertainment. It's about adults not wanting to deal with it, but knowing that they now have no choice in the matter. That's called fighting change. In the past it was easy because there was no way to document these behaviors. Now there is. So, yes, the kids have a "new weapon," alright: they can document acts of violence by other children, even under the guise of indirect participation. Indeed, St. Joseph County prosecutor Michael Dvorak "...said video can provide useful pieces of evidence when building a case." Yet, the Oklahoma state legislature has recently made moves that would make posting the footage online illegal and could likely pass it soon.

The article tries--vainly--to suggest through implication that there's an upswing in violence by American girls, something that it has to admit isn't the case from FBI statistics covering 1995-through-2008. You can almost hear the editor of the South Bend Tribune trying to argue their twisted logic and simply capitulating to the facts in the end since they were and are irrefutable, leaving the remnants of the their thought process (if you want to call it that) in the body of the piece. Missing the point is the entire point. Society-at-large has never wanted to deal with the fact that the genesis of bullying in many cases is child abuse, usually by adults, often by relatives. America is hardly the only nation with this problem, and denial is part-and-parcel of the behaviors surrounding the phenomena.

When the economy is already divesting adults of their rights, those of children don't figure highly either. However, children are a powerful moral symbol of the future, the canaries in the coal mine of where we're going wrong with the social contract and where we've been going wrong since time immemorial. Most importantly, the Tribune article commits the cardinal sin of blaming the victim: "But what might appear to be a clear assault on video could have an untold back story, he said: How can police be sure the victim was not the attacker a day earlier in an unrecorded fight?" They never care about that in other circumstances. The real issue is that they don't want to deal with the problem, the real heart of a very poorly-constructed article that carries a sadly commonplace logic in our culture, a culture in denial on most fronts. After all, nobody likes getting caught...

One last thought: should we embed journalists in our nation's schools? It's not necessary. Soon, very soon, the coverage of domestic violence will surpass that of the wars in the Middle East. Think about why.

Monday, May 03, 2010

The burning question of this socio-cultural-political moment...

Was the Vatican aware that Michael Jackson was a pedophile?

I know, I was floored by all the surprise surrounding the incontrovertible evidence that there are priests that molest children!! "What was the world coming to?" I thunk. Americans might want to face the fact that most mainstream journalism is barely different from the National Enquirer, and that's even unfair to them since they sometimes actually report something accurately for yucks.

Never mind that I had heard about pedophile priests almost my entire life and that even in predominantly Catholic South Bend (Notre Dame University is located adjacent to the city) it was considered a cliché. In this historical moment, "surprise" that the Vatican has been covering-up acts of molestation by clerics for decades is everywhere. Why is this? Surely, some of this is cry of the siren, but abusers need willing enablers and they've gotten plenty of enabling over generations. The point is a distraction for those who want the cover-ups and the lies to continue. Some of them are doing it because they can't bear what's going to come out of all of this. The public, as in all the other things that we're supposed to be "protected" from knowing, can take it, the culprits and enablers cannot.

What about protecting children? The Vatican seems to be the last institution on earth willing to do that besides the Republican Party or any other number of faceless, self-perpetuating institutions. That's a culture in very serious denial about itself and a real exorcism is order. An exorcism is, in fact, what's occurring in a scandal of international scope. The Church will continue to insist that they can take care of the problem, but since when have they illustrated an ability to? Centuries ago, the Church once had their own parallel legal system alongside that of the Monarch. Did it produce justice? It did not.

Their reluctance to be held accountable by civil law and authorities speaks volumes that they haven't changed very much at the Vatican, and Pope Benedict XVI is hardly a maverick for change as his own personal handling of past cases illustrates plainly. Like the American Republican Party, they're just going to keep blowing their toes off because they don't know any better and because they don't know what else to do. All they seem capable of is blaming the victim, the pedagogy of the abuser. That's not going to make it go away anytime soon.