Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Go to the head of the class!


"I am deeply insulted that in some areas that not only is evolution is shunned but efforts are made to substitute it with creationism and all other kinds of teachings, which corrupt our youth... There's no foundation for this. I think it's unfortunate. We're regressing in these areas, and so I think we have responsibility to our children to provide them with the greatest scientific information available to all of us, and that begins with respect to evolution....

I ... really exhort as public policy that we concentrate on keeping religion out of politics, and keeping a very, very strong separation between church and state. Otherwise you will take the oppressive nature of the state and marry it with the oppressive nature of religion, and that is the ultimate oppression of human beings."

Mike Gravel
Candidate for President of the united States

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Unreal Deal

Dean Baker: What Was Actually Happening While You Led a Life: "The United States Since 1980"

As much as I despise economics, I'm beginning to think it's the key to understanding what's happening these days. Understand, of course, that economics is not necessarily about money, at least not all of it.

This article is fascinating and/or boring, depending on how you view economics as something real or not. Regardless of your view, it has some important points to make.

Even though you and I know that economics is not real, that it ignores all the really important things in Life, economics is where the people live who "run" this world. When the Bushies talk about the "reality culture," they're talking about those of us who don't buy into economics as the prime mover of the world.

Be that as it may, economics is the prime mover of the part of the world that lies closest to the surface, the world that impacts people directly, like with bullets and bombs and famine and epidemics. These things don't just happen, war doesn't "break out," like rain falling from the sky. Wars and famines and epidemics, to a large part, are caused by human action, within social systems such as governments and religious organizations. They are created on purpose, for a reason, and that reason is most often economics.

This is not about greed, exclusively, although greed plays a part. This is about power (measured in money and influence). This is about status. This is about control. This is about ideology and which ideology wins out in the end (coming soon to an Apocalypse near you).

So economists are the gurus these days, manipulating vast universes of data chasing around the globe twenty-four hours a day, conjuring up money from coursing electrons and febrile tangles of wires and transistors.

Economists on the one hand, militarists on the other, feeding each other in a frenzy that leads, ultimately, to economic collapse, the premature deaths of millions of humans, the destruction of the natural world (if there's any left).

Bring 'em on, I say. Let's get it over and done with, so we can all settle back into a steady state society, live as the animals we all are, and forget about all this frenzied progress, if that's what it is.

Time to turn around and take a giant step forward.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Real Deal

Politics fills our consciousness these days, with the grand distraction booming forth from every newsertainment source on the planet. If you're not careful, you might begin to think it's important.

Don't worry, it's just part of the carnival show.

The real deal takes place behind the curtain, in gatherings of (mostly) men in high places, the movers and shakers of the financial world, the meetings of the unimaginably rich and powerful, deciding for themselves how our world will be.

It's been this way for more than a century, since the time of the great capitalist business tycoons in the late 1800s, the industrialists who made this country "great." They learned long ago that "laisez-faire" capitalism doesn't work in the long term, that is, from the perspective of those who seek power and control. Capitalism poops out over time, lost in its own internal contradictions.

Marx wrote about it, in epic tomes that defy comprehension these days, but it's pretty simple and self-evident once you think about it. In capitalism, the means of production, that's raw materials, land and capital (factories, etc.) are privately owned. In order for the owner to make a profit to reinvest in growing his or her business, he must create excess production over that required to break even. So if the factory must produce 100 widgets to break even, it must then produce 150 widgets to make a profit. Even worse, the workers in the factory can never make enough money to buy back all the widgets the factory produces, so those widgets must be sold somewhere else.

Thus, capitalism requires continued growth and an ever expanding market.

What's happened now is there are few new markets to exploit (China is the latest), and the purchasing power of the employees at home is constantly shrinking due to inflation and fiscal and economic manipulation.

What to do, what to do?

The answer, since World War I, has been, every time: destroy a whole bunch of useless production so we can produce more, aka WAR.

War is the economists wet dream, growing the economy without requiring new consumers and new markets. Build it, blow it up, build more.

Furthermore, war changes power relationships among nations, as governments vie for access to raw materials, labor and markets.

What a deal!

"In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way." Franklin D. Roosevelt

Think about this as you contemplate history, the present... and the future.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Nothing up my sleeve!

The Invisible Man

When I was a child, well, a younger child, I went to the carnival when it came to Our Town. They had all the usual acts, the fat lady (really), the fire breather, the pitiful animals locked forever in cages. Off to the side of the main events were the games, the shills, and the marks.

The eternal game was present of course, in many guises, the Pea Game, a dried pea concealed under a set of walnut shells that were manipulated about and presented to the mark to guess the location of the pea, for a price.

We don't see the pea game much any more, since the word is out that the game is rigged, even if we can't figure out the score.

We do, however, have politics.

The Pea Game is more sophisticated now. The Peas are glamorous, decked out in the latest corporate fashions. The walnut shells are flashy, loud, noisy and whirl about much faster and more bewilderingly than any carny could ever imagine. The marks are more sophisticated and worldly, and yet, more gullible to the carney's patter. And the price is very, very high.

The carnival comes to town every four years, puts up their tents, plasters the town with colorful playbills, conducts a parade of the strange and mysterious down Main Street. On the appointed evening, the people come, pay their money, are suitably entertained and go back home to their everyday lives. In the morning, the carnival is gone, nothing left but patches in the grass, some sodden straw and the faint whistle of a train leaving the station.

It's a brief distraction from the concerns of the moment, the mortgage, the weather, the job, the family. And no one ever asks, "Who moved the pea?"

Saturday, January 05, 2008

US doomed ...

... if creationist president elected: scientists

This is true, of course, even if Huckabee is not elected. The united States ceased to exist with the signing of the Constitution, becoming instead a country with a centralized government. Historical nick-picking, yes.

It wouldn't make much difference anyway, since we already have an Oval One who has no understanding of science, who professes fundamentalist religious beliefs and who works daily to bring the Corporate Oligarchy into global power at the cost of liberty, freedom and democracy in these united States.

The position of President of the United States has been made largely irrelevant, as the bounds among the checks and balances among our government divisions have been weakened or eliminated. The interplay between the judicial, legislative and executive branches has been subsumed under the Shadow Government, the corporate oligarchy, with its manipulating tentacles in all branches, its control of popular media, access to information...and thought.

Doomed indeed. Perhaps a good thing?

Be the first on your block...


It’s My Party: I’ll Taser if I Want To Marketing Tactic Jolting Sales of Self-Defense Item - CommonDreams.org

The Global Security State now comes to homes and families everywhere. Be the first to torture a friend or neighbor. Teach your children to live in fear and use torture devices effectively.

Soon we'll read news stories of children tasering their friends. Who will be the first child killed with a pink taser kept under Mom's pillow for "self-defense?"

Perhaps next will be the child-size water-boarding set, cattle prod video games, a new Saturday morning cartoon show featuring Taser Man, and, of course, Homeland Security action figures, with tasers that make noise and dark complected victims who scream in agony.

Marching, lock-step, open-eyed and accepting, into Dystopia...

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Are they finally starting to get it?

The growth of local power is a bright spot in seven bleak years of Bush | Guardian Unlimited

"'The centre cannot hold,' Yeats wrote; his next line is 'Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.' Anarchism in the contemporary sense of decentralised direct democracy is on the loose, and that's the rest of the good news."

It's great to see anarchism correctly identified in print as decentralized direct democracy.

It's misleading to say that there has been a growth in local power. Local power has always existed, exercised in our homes and neighborhoods, neighborhood associations and local governments. What has happened recently is that we have increasingly rejected centralized state power as illegitimate.

It may turn out that the Bush administration has been a powerful force in demonstrating that ineffectiveness of centralized state government, especially in such a geographically large and diverse country as the united States. California and Vermont are taking strong measures to establish local control over air and water quality, among other issues important to local residents.

The revolution is progressing, in its own way, at its own time. As the grass growing through the macadam, those forces that arise of themselves are always the most powerful.