Daily Archive: September 26, 2012

No Grand Conspiracy

There is no grand conspiracy to turn the world into a one-world Empire and destroy democracy and the Enlightenment principles that inform the form of government we once enjoyed. As you know, I no longer believe we live in a Constitutional Republic but, rather, in a transitional state a new combination of neo-feudalism, imperialism, fascism into something utterly new and unprecedented. The source of all this is something we can find by looking in the mirror for long enough.

This has all happened with, more or less, the consent of people around the world. The chief feature is Orwellian version of a Brave New World. The Global War on Terror is the most clear example of this. We wish to eliminate terrorism by using terrorism and making sure that terror is used to subjugate peoples abroad and to subjugate people here. They can do that here in this country because of its radically anti-intellectual tendencies (due to the failure of public schools to educate anyone and, instead, pretend to educate) and a stunning flight away from even the concept of virtue for which we were warned in the seventies by Christopher Lasch’s prescient book The Culture of Narcissism. This allows people to be unashamed to be cowards. You can only describe the American public’s reaction to 9/11 as cowardly–in going to war against weak countries who had no capacity to fight back and were not the cause of the terrorist attacks. In fact, it was Saudi Arabia and Pakistan (and perhaps Israel) who were involved directly in 9/11 even if you accept the notion that the American gov’t had nothing to do with the attacks (highly improbable). Even if the gov’t story were true the reaction is still cowardly and the way those wars were fought were deeply dishonorable–wantonly killing civilians because maybe there were some insurgents among them. Estimates of deaths in Iraq go from around a hundred thousand to more than a million–most of it due to U.S. saturation bombing of neighborhoods and communities which was largely unreported in the American press. In Afghanistan the violence was not as bad because the U.S. uses direct terrorist tactics against civilian populations like the people in the border regions (see Chris Floyd’s latest post).

There is no conspiracy only the ongoing wheel of history moving away from the unstable mythological frameworks brought on by the modernist project (the general movement away from uncomprehending belief in a particular world-view towards an intellectual openness to new ideas) and it’s inability to take into account the needs and requirements of human beings. People need to belong, people need to feel they are a part of something larger than themselves, people need to have some kind of spiritual framework and modernism doesn’t seem to be able to provide for these needs. It has brought fantastic riches and technological marvels but has done very little for the human spirit and, if anyhthing, has caused us to devolve rather than evolve as human beings. Cowardice, self-indulgence and narcissism are the main features of society today–and BTW I include myself in that critique.

And, at the same time, there never was a time when the nature of existence of life, of human nature were better known–we truly live in an age of not just information but wisdom that is flying all around us yet we cannot, fore some reason, take the medicine that will move us out of our problems.

The conspiracy we face it made in the collective unconscious, as I alluded to above. It is we who are resisting opening up our lives to the new and who want to return to authoritarian systems where our place in the world is clear and unambiguous. This is now possible for us. I think the social contract is that as long as the corporate system supplies most people with a Matrix-like system of amusements and entertainments that the people will go along with anything–endless wars, an hereditary aristocracy and a neo-feudal future where their children will inherit a world where they will be serfs if they’re lucky, slavery or death if they’re not.

In order to break out of this we need to open up our conscious minds to the knowledge of how deep our unconscious is and how much we are dominated by it. Once we understand that we can begin to take steps in life that are more reasonable. It all starts with each one of us and has nothing to do with politics as such–our problems are cultural and philosophical. While those who read this may be dissenters most of our fellows believe in a world of winners and losers. Winners should glory in their success and indulge in excesses while losers should suffer mightily and sing the blues.

It’s funny because it’s true.

According to ChaCha that phrase is from from Simpson’s #39 8F03 Bart the Murderer (aired October 10, 1991).

It was spoken by Fat Tony on seeing Itchy and Scratchy for the very first time.

Just something to think about when you read all those Romney/Stench pieces.

Paul Ryan vs. The Stench

By: Roger Simon, Politico

September 25, 2012 04:38 AM EDT

Jonathan Swift did not really want Irish people to sell their children for food in 1791; George Orwell did not really want the clocks to strike thirteen in 1984; Paul Ryan, I am sure, calls Mitt Romney something more dignified than “Stench” and Microsoft did not invent PowerPoint as a means to euthanize cattle. At least I am pretty sure Microsoft didn’t.

And you see, this is where Roger Simon is completely and totally wrong, it’s perfectly true that-

PowerPoint was released by Microsoft in 1990 as a way to euthanize cattle using a method less cruel than hitting them over the head with iron mallets. After PETA successfully argued in court that PowerPoint actually was more cruel than iron mallets, the program was adopted by corporations for slide show presentations.

Conducting a PowerPoint presentation is a lot like smoking a cigar. Only the person doing it likes it. The people around him want to hit him with a chair.

PowerPoint is usually restricted to conference rooms where the doors are locked from the outside. It is, therefore, considered unsuited for large rallies, where people have a means of escape and where the purpose is to energize rather than daze.

Don’t quit your day job.

Cartnoon

Dart bombs.  Posted June 3, 2011.

Lickety Splat

It’s a Puzzle

This Presidential Race Should Never Have Been This Close

Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

September 25, 2:10 PM ET

Unless someone snags an iPhone video of Obama taking a leak on Ohio State mascot Brutus Buckeye, or stealing pain meds from a Tampa retiree and sharing them with a bunch of Japanese carmakers, the game looks pretty much up – Obama’s widening leads in three battleground states, Virginia, Ohio and Florida, seem to have sealed the deal.

That’s left the media to speculate, with a palpable air of sadness, over where the system went wrong. Whatever you believe, many of these articles say, wherever you rest on the ideological spectrum, you should be disappointed that Obama ultimately had to run against such an incompetent challenger. Weirdly, there seems to be an expectation that presidential races should be closer, and that if one doesn’t come down to the wire in an exciting photo finish, we’ve all missed out somehow.



The mere fact that Mitt Romney is even within striking distance of winning this election is an incredible testament to two things: a) the rank incompetence of the Democratic Party, which would have this and every other election for the next half century sewn up if they were a little less money-hungry and just tried a little harder to represent their ostensible constituents, and b) the power of our propaganda machine, which has conditioned the entire population to accept the idea that the American population, ideologically speaking, is naturally split down the middle, whereas the real fault lines are a lot closer to the 99-1 ratio the Occupy movement has been talking about since last year.



These people represent everything that ordinarily repels the American voter. They mostly come from privileged backgrounds. Few of them have ever worked with their hands, or done anything like hard work. They not only don’t oppose the offshoring of American manufacturing jobs, they enthusiastically support it, helping finance the construction of new factories in places like China and India.



The people in this group inevitably support every war that America has even the slimmest chance of involving itself in, but neither they nor their children ever fight in these conflicts. They are largely irreligious, rarely if ever go to church, and incidentally they do massive amounts of drugs, from cocaine on down, but almost never suffer any kind of criminal penalty for their behavior.



For all this, when it came time to nominate a candidate for the presidency four years after the crash, the Republicans chose a man who in almost every respect perfectly represents this class of people. Mitt Romney is a rich-from-birth Ivy League product who not only has never done a hard day of work in his life – he never even saw a bad neighborhood in America until 1996, when he was 49 years old, when he went into some seedy sections of New York in search of a colleague’s missing daughter (“It was a shocker,” Mitt said. “The number of lost souls was astounding”).



If the clichés are true and the presidential race always comes down to which candidate the American people “wants to have a beer with,” how many Americans will choose to sit at the bar with the coiffed Wall Street multimillionaire who fires your sister, unapologetically pays half your tax rate, keeps his money stashed in Cayman Islands partnerships or Swiss accounts in his wife’s name, cheerfully encourages finance-industry bailouts while bashing “entitlements” like Medicare, waves a pom-pom while your kids go fight and die in hell-holes like Afghanistan and Iraq, and generally speaking has never even visited the country that most of the rest of us call the United States, except to make sure that it’s paying its bills to him on time?

Romney is an almost perfect amalgam of all the great out-of-touch douchebags of our national cinema: he’s Gregg Marmalaard from Animal House mixed with Billy Zane’s sneering, tux-wearing “Cal’ character in Titanic to pussy-ass Prince Humperdink to Roy Stalin to Gordon Gekko (he’s literally Gordon Gekko). He’s everything we’ve been trained to despise, the guy who had everything handed to him, doesn’t fight his own battles and insists there’s only room in the lifeboat for himself – and yet the Democrats, for some reason, have had terrible trouble beating him in a popularity contest.

The fact that Barack Obama needed a Himalayan mountain range of cash and some rather extreme last-minute incompetence on Romney’s part to pull safely ahead in this race is what speaks to the extraordinary brokenness of the system.



(W)hen one of the candidates is Mitt Romney, the race shouldn’t be close. You’ll hear differently in the coming weeks from the news media, which will spend a lot of time scratching its figurative beard while it argues that a 54-46 split, or however this thing ends up (and they’ll call anything above 53% for Obama a rout, I would guess), is evidence that the system is broken. But what we probably should be wondering is why it was ever close at all.

Coming Soon

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Spain Recoils as Its Hungry Forage Trash Bins for a Next Meal

By SUZANNE DALEY, The New York Times

Published: September 24, 2012

“When you don’t have enough money,” she said, declining to give her name, “this is what there is.”



“It’s against the dignity of these people to have to look for food in this manner,” said Eduardo Berloso, an official in Girona, the city that padlocked its supermarket trash bins.

Mr. Berloso proposed the measure last month after hearing from social workers and seeing for himself one evening “the humiliating gesture of a mother with children looking around before digging into the bins.”



But Mr. Berloso’s locks created something of an uproar across Spain, where the economic crisis is fueling more and more protests highlighting hunger. A group of mayors and unionists in southern Spain, where unemployment rates are far above the average, recently staged Robin Hood raids on two supermarkets, loading carts with basic foods and pressing them to donate more food to the needy.

More than a dozen people are facing prosecution for theft over the stunt. But they are unrepentant and appear to have huge local support. “Taking some food and giving it to families who are having a really hard time, if this is stealing, I am guilty,” one of the men, Francisco Molero of the farmworkers’ SAT union, told the local news media afterward.

I.M.F.’s Call for More Cuts Irks Greece

By LIZ ALDERMAN and LANDON THOMAS Jr., The New York Times

Published: September 24, 2012

The impasse has elevated tensions here as Greece braces for a nationwide general strike planned on Wednesday that threatens to bring public services to a halt. The Greek people are increasingly angry over the prospect that public salaries and pensions will be cut again in a last-ditch bid to secure a new loan installment of 31.5 billion euros, or $40.7 billion, from Greece’s creditors.

The Greek prime minister, Antonis Samaras, plans to address the nation this week to bolster support for the austerity package. He has already publicly warned his center-right party, New Democracy, that he will oust lawmakers of the party failing to back the package once it comes up for a vote, probably in early October.



In this political calculus, Ms. Merkel and others see Mr. Samaras as the last best hope for Greece. They worry that if the government teeters, new elections might be called in which his party could lose power to the increasingly popular leftist party Syriza, led by the political maverick Alexis Tsipras. Mr. Tsipras advocates tearing up the loan agreement with Greece’s international creditors. That would raise the risk of default and an eventual exit from the euro.



At the meeting, Poul Thomsen, the I.M.F.’s lead negotiator for Greece, was pushing hard for additional tax increases and wage and pension cuts, these people say. Mr. Stournaras angrily gestured to a bullet hole in one of the windows of the Finance Ministry.

“You see this – this came from a bullet,” Mr. Stournaras said. “Do you want to overthrow the government?”



The impasse reveals the extent of the government’s alarm at the worsening mood on the streets. More protests are likely in October, when Parliament is expected to vote on the measure. Many Greeks are now talking about the potential for civil unrest when the weather turns colder and many people may not be able to afford to heat their homes. Fuel prices, including gasoline, have been climbing, and whatever cushion Greeks on the margins had in their savings is gone.

Moreover, questions are swirling about the extent to which Greece’s police force will be willing and able to maintain public order, because it is also facing salary cuts. A number of officers were held off with pepper spray by riot police officers last week outside of Mr. Samaras’s residence, where they held a demonstration.

Draghi Rally Lets Skeptics Dump Spain for Bunds

By David Goodman and Emma Charlton, Bloomberg News

Sep 25, 2012 8:47 AM ET

Demand for German debt, perceived to be among the safest securities, is being sustained as Spain weighs a sovereign bailout to supplement a 100-billion euro ($129 billion) bank rescue package and as Europe’s economy slides toward recession.



Even as policy makers strive to end the three-year debt crisis, the region’s economic outlook is weakening. Euro-area surveys on Sept. 20 showed services and manufacturing output fell to a 39-month low in September adding to evidence the economy is heading for a recession. Figures yesterday showed German business confidence unexpectedly fell to the lowest in more than two and a half years in September.

“We are in a period where the ECB has laid down its framework to save the euro but the fundamentals will ultimately creep back in and you will see new problems flare,” said Harvinder Sian, a fixed income strategist at RBS in London. “Bunds will remain supported. I think 1.55 percent to 1.70 percent is a good entry location.”

Spain is in its second recession in three years, endangering plans to trim its budget deficit and avoid a bailout. The euro-region economy will probably shrink 0.4 percent this year, the ECB said this month.

On This Day In History September 26

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 26 is the 269th day of the year (270th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 96 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day on 1957, West Side Story premieres on Broadway. East Side Story was the original title of the Shakespeare-inspired musical conceived by choreographer Jerome Robbins, written by playwright Arthur Laurents and scored by composer and lyricist Leonard Bernstein in 1949. A tale of star-crossed lovers-one Jewish, the other Catholic-on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the show in its original form never went into production, and the idea was set aside for the next six years. It was more than just a change of setting, however, that helped the re-titled show get off the ground in the mid-1950s. It was also the addition of a young, relatively unknown lyricist named Stephen Sondheim. The book by Arthur Laurents and the incredible choreography by Jerome Robbins helped make West Side Story a work of lasting genius, but it was the strength of the songs by Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein that allowed it to make its Broadway debut on this day in 1957.

There are no videos of the original Broadway production which starred Larry Kert as Tony, Carol Lawrence as Maria, Ken Le Roy as Bernardo and Chita Rivera as Anita (Ms. Rivera reprized her role in the movie), so here is the Prologue from the Academy Award winning movie. The area that the movie was filmed no longer exists. The 17 blocks between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues, from West 60th to West 66th Street on the Upper West Side of Manhattan where he filming took place were demolished to build Lincoln Center for the Preforming Arts.

Muse in the Morning

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Art Glass 25

Cocktail Hour

Benedictine and Brandy

Brandy is probably the oldest distilled beverage since wine has such an ancient heritage and in this drink it’s paired with Benedictine which seems ancient because we associate that with the monkish lifestyle and discipline, but is in fact a formula from the 1800s invented by Alexandre Le Grand.

Like Root Beer the mixture of herbs used to flavor it doesn’t really taste like anything else, but it is quite sweet and is mixed with brandy and ice when that quality is less desirable.

So the recipe is just too damn simple to even write down.

A Cocktail that is truly historic is egg nog which was derived from medieval possets.  You can make it with almost any kind of spirit (bourbon imparts a nice vanilla flavor), but brandy is traditional.

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