Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Free Market in Operation

I was chatting with my brother last week about the Unicornians, the sort of Fountainhead- thumping zealot who thinks that free markets will save the world and that regulation is the root of all evil and he was saying the only true free markets are agrarian barter systems, especially in hand-to-mouth subsistence societies. But there's are other sorts of free market: the crack corner, and the boulevard of streetwalkers. Though there too, somebody is always trying hard to monopolize those outlaw businesses, which is to say, regulate it for his own profit.

It occurs to me: should one actually be speaking to one of these zealots one might point out -- a free market has no values, just prices. So, for instance, Mr. Glibertarian, Mrs. tea Party, how much is your daughter's virginity worth? Not surprisingly, from the righteous state of Utah, comes one answer.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Strange Is Truther Than Fiction!

I read this weird thing about some Korean guy who crucified himself (to death!) recently and was instantly reminded of the great Alan Dugan poem Love Song: I and Thou.

Where there's a will there's a way apparently.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Let Them Eat Hate

Last night I made the mistake of listening to Rachel Maddow and guest talk about all the fascistic things being jammed through the Florida legislature by the sleazebag governor, a health-care scammer who should be in jail, but no, in the Graveyard of the Republicans he's king! Scott wants to drug test all welfare recipients and all state employees, regardless of any probable cause. This probably won't fly with the federal courts, but that doesn't mean it won't become Florida law. There are also about a trillion anti-abortion measures about to be ratified and a reduction in unemployment benefits -- in a state with high unemployment. But here's my favorite: Florida Satate has apparently pimped its econ department out to the Kock brothers for $1.5 million. For that street-whore price they get to call the shots on what gets taught and who gets hired in that department; hence they get to ensure that all kinds of Ayn-Randian voodoo economics gets passed off as knowledge.

Florida, like Arizona, and Virginia, and some other places I could mention, is rapidly getting so fucked up that decent people should get together and boycott the tourism and industry of such places. (Apparently they already have in Arizona.) But won't that hurt the poor and workers? some might say. I say, what's the alternative, a sternly worded letter? When you hit these Reich-wing asholes in the wallet, they feel it. When they hear from their troglodytic constituents that their bullshit is costing them money, they hear it. Nothing else will do it, short of incarceration. These people are basically psychopathic. They like to enrage people. It's only when that rage gets translated into effective action and bites them in the ass that they think better of it.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Condition Beige in Situation Room

We have definitely gone through the post-modern looking glass when the "news" consists partly of our "leaders" watching TV. Here that image gets the respect it deserves from Gawker.

I also like a gloss on the situation from Jesus' General: "Sec. Clinton realizes that Safeway closes at midnight. Bill couldn't have stared at ice cream until 4 AM."

Monday, May 02, 2011

Cheap Veneer of Civilization Peels Back

I spent the evening writing about oht and kultcha and barely turned on the TV, so I didn't get to see Obama cut into Celebrity Apprentice (take that Donald!) to announce the killing of Osama. In fact I learned about it this morning from the Weather Channel of all places. I surfed around the news a bit just to see if I'd heard right and landed on David Ignatius of the WaPo spoutning some bvullshit about how the "enhanced interrogations" of six years ago had led to a nickname of a Osama's courier which ultimately led, he implied strongly, to last night's killing, thereby justifying his (David I's) endorsement of torture. This was MSNBC.

Something in me had to see what Fox had on, and sure enough, the was Rob Lowe (?) in Times Square watching the moronic throng chant "USA! USA!," as if VJ day had somehow come anew. Fox seems to be playing this on a continuous loop. I must say about the crowd, one doesn't usually see such glee unless there is a lynching or book burning.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Divide and Conquer

Today, as I was walking to the Ministry to work on my upcoming talk, I had to traverse a stream of people trotting or briskly walking up Pennsylvania Avenue, all wearing t-shirts and/or race numbers labeled "Race for Hope." I don't really know which disease they're hoping to cure by the activity (one would hope it's something to do with reversing the deadly effects of our sedentary life-style), and I admit to having run many such a race in years gone by -- but always for reasons having nothing to do with the putative "cause." In fact I don't really think much of these things. It always seems to me like a Charity Ball -- lucky ducks get to feel better about doing what they like to do, and the fig-leaf for their self-indulgence, the charity, gets the crumbs left over. Maybe.

I assume these "races" actually raise some money for their causes and so guess they do some good. But they also do some harm, I suspect, in the same way that the state lottery does. In a small way, in the mind of the public, they divorce cause from effect, suggesting to people that (even getting them to walk the talk that suggests that) doing something wholly unrelated to a problem will magically somehow address and ameliorate that problem. And while it is true that there are some problems (mostly non-problems actually, like the drug-problem, the Domino Effect, or say the "Jewish Problem") which benefit more from benign neglect than from doing anything, it is not true that actual problems are solved by feel-good diversions. It takes work, risk, commitment, resources, or put simply, sacrifice -- a word we shrink from like vampires from the light.

But beyond the cognitive disconnect being promoted here, beyond the backsliding promotion of magical thinking, it also struck me, in my writer's radar for paranoid narrative, that perhaps there's another vaguely pernicious effect of all this sort of thing. I can almost envision some Evil Genius at the top of things laughing gleefully at such events, seeing how they distract the well-intentioned, divide their energies into many ineffectual causes, and deplete those energies (quite literally) without any risk of actual change to the status quo. It's a pageant of useless good intentions, as opposed to say, a union march or a lynch-mob of awakened righteousness. "Excellent," Monty Burns would say. "They don't even know what hope they're racing for."

For some reason this, and the Reich-Winger's insistence that government power be decentralized as much as possible, reminds me of the fifty or sixty different badges (besides the Star of David) the inmates of concentration camps were labeled with, and how this helped the very few guards to enslave and exterminate the millions.