Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wikileaks: has anybody given a thought about Iraq itself?

David Seaton's News Links
In all the comments on Wikileak's Iraq revelations I've read, I haven't seen much of anything about their effect on Iraq and the Iraqis. 

This seems strange to me, because from beginning to end the real victims of everything we've done are the Iraqis themselves and it isn't as if the revelations of death and torture are going to be news to them.

What all the documents that Julian Assange has released  are sure to do is lead to many more deaths and much more torture.


As I remember Iraqi society is clan and tribally based, where avenging the death of any member of the tribe is the business of all his relatives. So it appears to me that Wikileaks has just made available much more detailed information about exactly who killed who, where and how... lots of dates, lots of names and this will probably lead to endless new vendettas, besides complicating even more the Iraqis effort to finally form a government after some six months of trying.

Which leads me to my final question: will the curse of us and our concerns about us ever be lifted from the people of Iraq? Will we ever stop fucking these poor people over? DS

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Julian Assange and Wikileaks, a warning: How to hide an elephant

The reports make it clear that the lethal contest between Iranian-backed militias and American forces continued after President Obama sought to open a diplomatic dialogue with Iran’s leaders  New York Times

It seems to me that the most significant revelations from the massive WikiLeaks document dump is the apparent extent of Iran’s nefarious role in Iraq. Toby Harnden - Telegraph
Famous riddle: "How do you hide an elephant in the middle of 5th avenue? Answer: In a parade of elephants."
David Seaton's News Links
Most of the present discussion about Wikileaks and its founder and leader, Julian Assange, centers around whether he is a hero or a villain. I would tentatively offer an alternative view based entirely on intuition, that Assange is a vain man, now world famous, who is being manipulated by a party or parties unknown, in order to help create public opinion favorable to the United States joining Israel in an attack on Iran, or the United States facilitating an Israeli attack on Iran.

What do I base this alternative view of mine on?

It goes like this:

Israel's oft stated maximum priority is to stop Iran from developing an atomic bomb and they have made it perfectly clear on innumerable occasions  that they will stop at nothing to prevent this happening. I believe them.

On the contrary, at this point in time, the American people are obsessed with the economy, with debt and especially unemployment. At the same time, the Obama administration is trying to extricate US armed forces from two wars that rival each other for the longest, most expensive and most inconclusive conflicts in the nation's history. The consequences of a third war, this time with Iran, would be hard to calculate, but the most predictable would be an enormous rise in the price of oil, which might send the economy off into the abyss. 

I don't think that it is exaggerating to say that there is a certain divergence in US and Israeli priorities at this moment.

Suddenly, like the "ghost of Christmas past", we are confronted with all the Bush horror again.

This particular Wikileak consists of an enormous "dump" of uncorrelated data, some 391,832 documents, much of which simply confirms atrocities and crimes that we already knew about. Things that we have been hearing and reading about for years. In the midst of this unmanageable flood of data incriminating American troops in war crimes, are new incidents incriminating Iran.

What better wrapping for an Iranian "smoking gun", than an endless flood of confirmable stories of Americans torturing and killing Iraqis? What better place to "hide an elephant". And what more willing and ingenuous tool for disseminating the package than the newly created, world superstar, Mr. Julian Assange. If he hasn't been manipulated yet, he is certainly ripe for it.

The most difficult question to answer would be if the right wing coalition that governs Israel is crazy enough use agents of the Mossad or rogue elements in the US intelligence community to deliberately blacken Israel's best friend's world reputation in order to create hostile opinion against Iran in the USA?

I don't know the answer, I only know that it is difficult for Americans, obsessed with the economy to realize how obsessed the Israelis are with Iran's atomic program and it is even more difficult for most Americans to understand how entirely and obsessively self-referential much of Israel's ultra right wing is.

Israel is torn right now between very sane people like Shlomo ben Ami and dangerous extremists like Avigdor Lieberman and there is no sign that the ben Amis of Israel are winning the argument.

All we can do is wait and see if this story stops being about Americans torturing and killing and turns into a story about Iran. DS

Thursday, October 21, 2010

China’s next president: Xi Jinping

China’s next president: Xi Jinping
Xi is China's heir-apparent, in line to succeed Hu Jintao in 2012 as China's top leader. This 56-year-old "princeling"—his father was former Vice-Premier Xi Zhongxun—earned a doctorate in Marxist theory from Tsinghua University but now has a reputation as a supporter of rapid economic reform. Bloomberg - Businessweek

In Chinese politics, loyalty and administrative competence are valued high above personality and principles. The Communist Party stresses its collective leadership, which encourages the rise of leaders like Mr. Xi who are careful consensus builders. A unifying figure at the top is seen as vital to balance a dizzying array of interest groups.
Wall Street Journal
David Seaton's News Links
The Chinese Communist Party fascinates me. I am impressed by how they have managed to avoid the fate of the Communist Party of the USSR or the CPs of  the Soviet's European colonies, whose "revolutions" were the product of a military invasion similar to America's installing "democracy" in Iraq.

The Chinese, who were the last major communist regime standing at the end of the Cold War were left alone facing the lone superpower, the USA at "the end of history"; and not only has the Chinese Communist Party not collapsed: in a sensational exercise of political and economic judo, they have  managed to use the very system of the west in order to increase their power over China and the power of China in the world a hundred fold.

Unlike the corrupt nomenklatura of the Soviet Union, the CCP seems to be a self-renewing meritocracy made up of politically savvy technocrats, people who are well informed about China's "street" and are sensitive to any indication of popular dissatisfaction or unrest.

What I find rather amazing is how little importance is being given to the fact that Xi Jinping has earned a doctorate in Marxist theory and I find a little more amazing still that so many people in positions of responsibility in the west seem to think that the Chinese Communist Party still defining itself as Marxist-Leninist and still revering the figure and the thought of Mao Tse Tung is just a quaint and harmless example of chinoiserie such as calling a stir-fry of chicken, pork, shrimp and veggies a "happy family".

The only excuse I can think of for such frivolity is supine ignorance of all three: Marx, Lenin and Mao.

There have probably never been two more lucid, if unsympathetic, analysts of the capitalistic system than Marx and Lenin and few political strategists in history as insightful and clever as Mao Tse Tung. Anyone who has studied them as living thought and not as simple articles of faith, is armed with very formidable tools of analysis and strategic principals forged in action. And all of this without mentioning the traditional Chinese strategic thinking of the exquisitely subtle, Sun Tzu, who Mao often took as his model.

If more western observers had ever read Lenin's definition of Communism as "Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country", they might note, that with a little tweaking, that phrase combined with Deng Xiaoping's "black cat, white cat, as long as it catches mice it is a good cat", could be a very workmanlike description of what the Chinese Communist Party is doing right now. And if they gave a few moments to studying Lenin's "New Economic Policy" (NEP), they might find themselves staring at a rough, primitive and tiny model of the survival strategy the Chinese Communist Party is applying today.

And if they read just a little more and studied Mao Tse Tung's essay "On Contradiction" and even more specifically his definitive, "On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People", they might get some idea of what they are looking at.

To get some taste of the subtlety of Mao's strategic thinking, the following paragraph from the latter text might suffice.
In our country, the contradiction between the working class and the national bourgeoisie comes under the category of contradictions among the people. By and large, the class struggle between the two is a class struggle within the ranks of the people, because the Chinese national bourgeoisie has a dual character. In the period of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, it had both a revolutionary and a conciliationist side to its character. In the period of the socialist revolution, exploitation of the working class for profit constitutes one side of the character of the national bourgeoisie, while its support of the Constitution and its willingness to accept socialist transformation constitute the other. The national bourgeoisie differs from the imperialists, the landlords and the bureaucrat-capitalists. The contradiction between the national bourgeoisie and the working class is one between exploiter and exploited, and is by nature antagonistic. But in the concrete conditions of China, this antagonistic contradiction between the two classes, if properly handled, can be transformed into a non-antagonistic one and be resolved by peaceful methods. However, the contradiction between the working class and the national bourgeoisie will change into a contradiction between ourselves and the enemy if we do not handle it properly and do not follow the policy of uniting with, criticizing and educating the national bourgeoisie, or if the national bourgeoisie does not accept this policy of ours.
Careful reading would allow observers to understand that the Communist Party's "embrace" of capitalism is pragmatic and strategic and not some sort of Reaganesque epiphany. That the best path between two points is not necessarily a straight line

And they would be wise to understand that if some sort of crisis in the capitalist system provoked sufficient tensions and "contradictions among the people", China's new millionaires could soon find themselves milking cows and shoveling manure in "reeducation camps",  that is unless their kidneys, livers and corneas weren't already being sold on the world market for organ transplants. DS

Monday, October 18, 2010

The "Big Lie"... How it works and what it is for

The big lie kicks in: before and after
Americans for Prosperity, the rightwing campaign funded in part by the energy billionaires the Koch brothers, is working with the Tea Party movement to increase its impact through the use of new media and social networking. The Guardian
Rupert Murdoch has declared his dissatisfaction with Barack Obama and the Democratic party, saying that two $1m donations by News Corp were intended to encourage change in Washington. Financial Times

Shortly before leaving for the US to report on the midterm elections, a respected colleague told me that: “Obama’s problem is that he is trying to govern a nation where half the population is insane.” Gideon Rachman - Financial Times
David Seaton's News Links
Today lets look at the "big lie": the art of calling black white and white black and making it stick, how it works and why it works.

I will cut directly to the chase: to me it is obvious that the Tea Party has been evoked, like a political poltergeist, from the shadowy bourne, of the American earth by people like the Koch brothers and Rupert Murdoch in order to terrorize moderate Republicans and keep them from moving to the center and cooperating with president Obama in a time of national emergency.

How bad are things?

Maybe even a bit worse than we think they are.

For example, if we consider the mortgage foreclosure fiasco as the possible tip of an iceberg of massive fraud and generalized, quite unbelievable, negligence throughout the system, something like a metastasis  of  an Enron on steroids, we may be looking at future meltdowns that could make the consequences of Lehman Brother's collapse look as tame as Paris Hilton's prison stay.

I would venture to say that people like the Koch brothers and Murdoch have much better information as to the potential and immanent blowback of all of this and its possible effects on their positions, both  financial and political, than we do.

They obviously are moved to take drastic steps, steps that put the entire system in jeopardy. Therefore, whether us lesser folk have any real inkling of what's going on, by their behavior we may know that something is going on: just as the Chinese detect the coming of an earthquake by monitoring the restlessness of farm animals and songbirds; the way granny knows its going to rain, because her hip hurts. Something is cooking.

In any one of a dozen national emergencies of the nature I suspect (or might not even dream of) that may be developing or might already be upon us, the natural reaction of the citizenry would be to demand, as in wartime, or any other great national emergency, that their elected representatives work together in a bipartisan fashion to clean up the mess and to put in place regulations and regulators to make sure it never happens again and to punish those responsible severely "pour encourager les autres". 

And, who knows, then,  perhaps in  the cheery glow of new found kameradschaft and moderate bi-partisanship, they might set themselves to reform campaign financing, the infrastructure and even work on climate change and fossil fuel energy dependence.

From a certain point of view this kind of constructive or reconstructive harmony must be avoided at all costs.

So we here we come to the big lie.

What I call the "Tea-Fox-Koch-Murdoch-Beck-Limbaugh-Party" are using classic techniques, nothing new here

To get into the mood and to understand better what the Murdochs and the Kochs are up to and what  techniques they are using to achieve their ends, let us look at what the OSS had to say during WWII about the recognized master of the big lie:
His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it. "Hitler as His Associates Know Him" - OSS report on Hitler, p.51
Sounds familiar doesn't it. Now let us hear the "master's voice" as he himself describes in some greater detail how the big lie works:
(...) In the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.— Adolf Hitler , Mein Kampf, vol. I, ch. X
Let us move directly to a concrete example of how this "philosophy" is being put into practice today.

Why are the "Tea-Fox-Koch-Murdoch-Beck-Limbaugh-Party" so afraid of Barack Obama?

Because he is a radical socialist-communist-extremist, right?

Wrong, wrong, wrong!

They are afraid of him for precisely the reason he "disappoints" his progressive base: They are terrified of him because he is a born centrist, reaching out eagerly for members of the Republican opposition in order to "cut a deal" or "split the difference".

That has been his message from the beginning. To refresh your memory:
I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America - there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.  Senator Barack Obama - Keynote speech, Democratic convention - 2004
Despite all of President Obama's unearthly and unbearable lightness of being, that speech still has them terrified. The more he appears manifestly mild mannered and generaly ineffectual, the louder they cry "Marxist!" and "radical!"... and worse.

That idea of inclusiveness, the mildness, the desire to negotiate and split the difference, not radical, leftist, extremism, is what has Murdoch and the Kochs frantic and frothing at the mouth.


Because, under the new rules of globalization, much of the world's economic power and especially the cash, has escaped from state control, regulation and supervision. As the recent euro crisis showed, elected officials of powerful and wealthy countries found themselves suddenly at the mercy of the "markets" and the rating agencies, themselves made up of human beings, whose power, unlike the law makers of a democratic states, is in no way derived from the consent of the governed... and there are people... not many people, but very, very rich people, who are extremely comfortable with that.. and why shouldn't they be?

Now it happens that there is only one state in the whole world that is still, for the moment at least, potentially powerful enough to be able to bring this situation under some sort of control at home and abroad, and this state is in theory a democracy that is elected by its citizens to serve them.

That state is, of course, the United States of America.

Now, for the state apparatus of the United States of America to bring the situation under control in America and to a great extent around the world, all the branches of the state, executive, legislative and judiciary would have to be in nearly total alignment, as they were during World War Two.

Keeping that from happening, paralyzing the political system so that unity is entirely unthinkable except around "supporting our troops" to defend the "homeland" against the threat of "terrorism" is what the Tea Party movement and every move of Fox and Kochs is about.
The acceptance of policies that counteract our interests is the pervasive mystery of the 21st century. In the US blue-collar workers angrily demand that they be left without healthcare, and insist that millionaires pay less tax.  George Monbiot - Guardian
I think we have just solved George Monbiot's mystery.

As I said at the beginning of this piece,  the Tea Party has been created in order to terrorize moderate Republicans and keep any of them from moving to the center and cooperating with president Obama in a time of national emergency.

Just to see how effective this strategy is, lets look at the following four year old quote from certainly the best known and perhaps the most respected of Republican moderates, John McCain,
“People want us to do what we’ve forgotten, which is put aside philosophical differences, which are important, and legislate and get things done.”
What happened since then? This from Vanity Fair:
“The senator owes his victory to the pressure he received from conservatives and Tea Partiers,” the conservative guru Richard Viguerie declared after the primary. “To receive that support, he had to give up his maverick positions that have sometimes given aid and comfort to the liberals. I’m sure Senator McCain knows very well that he would not have won if he had continued his reputation as the Democrats’ favorite Republican.”
So that is what it is really all about: it is about not legislating and not getting things done... to paralyze the government of the United States of America at a critical time in its history. To prevent the system from flushing itself out and regenerating itself. To cut the wires of the burglar alarms to be able to sack the house in peace.

The danger is impossible to exaggerate, because, in any normal country in the world if democratic politics become impossible and the state is paralyzed, sooner or later you have either a coup d' etat or a civil war... or both, and not necessarily in that order. How long America's incomparable mechanisms of infotainment alienation can fend off that law of gravity remains to be seen. DS

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The must see, must pass along video

David Seaton's News Links
Steve Benen at Political Animal has put together this video and it is a powerful and positive piece of work. If you like it pass it on.DS

Monday, October 11, 2010

Glenn Beck: a clown by moonlight

"...there's nothing funny about a clown in the moonlight...." Lon Chaney Sr.
(hat to James Kunstler)
David Seaton's News Links
First, once again, it is important to remember that it is central to Glenn Beck's message that nothing in it make much, or sometimes any, sense at all.

This is not some sort of defect due to lack of intelligence or skill on his part.

Quite the contrary, his is a work of art in the media of cynical confusion. There is no other meaning to it than the anger he arouses.

No other fuel for the fires he ignites than the frustrations and confusion of his listeners.

To keep them confused and frustrated is the goal. Glenn Beck is a master of his art form.

What is disturbing is not so much Beck himself or even that an audience exists for Beck. What is disturbing is that there is an enormous amount of money being spent to put him into every home in America. That is terrifying.

The idea is simply to manipulate through emotions. The only real messages are the emotions.

To understand what Beck is doing, to understand him, you must suspend your capacity for rational thought and just let the emotions wash over you and try to take note of them as they assault your endocrine system and all I can say is this: children don't try this at home.

Here is a hostile sample of Beck in full flight just to get your juices flowing:

Charming isn't it, the devil doll cuteness of it all? The little campy gestures...

What is behind this grotesque performance?

Simply this:

The USA is moving into what appears to be a long period of low growth and the rapidly increasing deterioration of the American middle class's legendary living standards, not to mention the working poor's. Also reform and regulation are necessary in the energy and financial sectors. America's infrastructure needs restoring and refurbishing. The whole thing is a mess and needs to be firmly taken in hand with the greatest good for the greatest number as the guiding principal.

This means, in the not too long run, more regulations, more control and more taxes, which means in turn that people with a lot of money are going to feel a little less free and a little less wealthy than they do today. They are paying Mr. Beck to help keep Americans from thinking rationally about their problems or thinking rationally at all.

If people could think straight for only a few days, be sure that sensible solutions that would benefit the majority of citizens would follow as night follows day. Those who have discovered and nurtured the talents of Mr. Beck and have provided him with the opportunity to reach millions of viewers are investing their money now to avoid those sensible solutions affecting their future earnings.


Lately I've discovered that one of Becks favorite targets is none other than Woodrow Wilson, who he accuses of multiple sins, among them for being a fascist avant la lettre.

Watch how he does it:

Here is a little explanation of why he puts this Wilsonophobia all together, written by an egg headed, Ivy League, frau doktor-professor and published in that Marxist-elitist, Islamofascist, cheese-eating, faggot-socialist, competition-for-Rupert-Murdoch rag, the New York Times:
To the campaign to make “progressive” a slur, Wilson is useful. Much as many people admire aspects of his presidency, he has no natural constituency any more, right or left. He was opposed to female suffrage. He supported Jim Crow. He wrote about Anglo-Saxon racial supremacy. He makes a good bad guy. He was also an intellectual, the first U.S. president to hold a Ph.D.(...) This professor-president has convenient similarities to our current chief executive — a scholar of constitutional law, professorial, intellectual, even, in some people’s eyes, effete (as, for instance, T.R. and F.D.R. were not). Jill Lepore Professor of American History at Harvard - NYT
I find it curious that Beck should attack Wilson, when those who supported the foreign policy of George W. Bush, neocons and the like, often portrayed it as Wilsonian. Wilson's interest in imposing American values on errant primitives by force of arms, was often used as the precedent for invading Iraq or fighting the Taliban. 

Of course consistency has nothing to do with Beck, still that he should attack the one figure that was used to add a bit of class to Bush's presidency seems a bit weird even by Beckish standards.

My particular beef with Wilson is a little different.

With the best intentions in the world, "making the world safe for democracy", Woodrow Wilson took the USA into WWI thereby setting off a series of catastrophes whose aftereffects we are still living with. I am sure that he would have been horrified to know what his meddling brought about.

It goes like this:

In 1917 Britain and France, Germany, Austria and Turkey had basically bled themselves white and had fought World War One to a draw. 

If left to themselves, they couldn't have continued much longer, especially with the Russian Revolution at their doors. Soon they would have had to come to the peace table and split the difference.

Thus there would have been no Versailles treaty and Germany wouldn't have had to pay the crippling reparations that caused the hyperinflation that helped bring Hitler to power, thus avoiding WWII.

The Austrio-Hungarian empire would have had time to collapse more gracefully and Turkey might still have control of the Middle East, thus avoiding many of the problems we have there today such as the Israel-Palestine conflict. 

Ask yourself, if Palestine were still a Turkish protectorate and the Holocaust had never taken place and European Jews were living happily in Germany, would Israel have even come into existence?

By entering the war, when it did, the USA was directly responsible for humiliating Germany and thus, in my opinion, is directly responsible for creating Hitler.

So for me Wilson is the father of the most evil century in humanity's history.

And so, logically, to top it off, without Woodrow Wilson there would be no Glenn Beck.

Way to go Woodrow! DS

Quote of the day

"In today's world five times more money is being spent on drugs for male virility and on silicone implants for women than is being invested in research for a cure to Alzheimer's disease. This means that in a few years the world is going to be full of old women with big tits and old men with stiff cocks who won't be able to remember what they are used for." Drauzio Varella M.D., Brazilian Oncologist

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Glenn Beck done by a duck

It is some of the best well made propaganda I have ever seen…We are looking into this gentleman and this incredible propaganda against me – Glenn Beck
David Seaton's News Links
Here is a marvelous video by Jonathan McIntosh of Rebellious Pixels that explains the Tea Party, Beck and Fox better than anything I've seen or read so far... a must see, a work of art! I took hundreds of words to analyze what the right is doing, and this magnificent work of agitprop does it infinitely better than I ever could. Watch, laugh, cry and know:

And here is Glenn Beck replying to Donald Duck... I think that this might be one of the most sinister performances that I have ever heard in the English language... Hearing it, I can say, "it has already happened here". DS

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Lenny Bruce, Picasso, Christine O’Donnell and the gates of hell

Picasso: (Children don't try this at home)

Lenny Bruce: (Children don't try this at home)
Once upon a time a  proud samurai of legendary ferocity approached an elderly zen master famous for his wisdom and asked him if heaven and hell existed.

The ancient monk looked at the warrior with withering contempt written all over his wizened face and sneered, "How dare an ignorant dolt like you waste my time with idiotic questions like that?" The offended Samurai, blind with rage, began to draw out his great katana from its scabbard, fully intent on killing the impertinent monk.

On hearing the sound of metal on metal as the sword was being drawn, the monk calmly said, "Listen, I hear the sound of the gates of hell being opened", whereupon, the samurai, finding enlightenment, bowed humbly before the master and returned his sword to its scabbard.

On hearing the sound of metal on metal as the sword was being sheathed, the monk smiled and softly said, "Listen, I hear the sound of the gates of heaven being opened"
Classic Zen Tale (Children don't try this at home)
David Seaton's News Links
The other day I followed a link and found myself watching a chain of something like 20 stand up comedy routines with a lot of funny people like George Carlin, Chris Rock, Greg Giraldo, Sarah Silverman, and a hugely talented Korean-American, named Margaret Cho, that I'd never seen before... and in the middle of them all was a short monologue by Lenny Bruce. It was obvious to me and probably to the person who stuck the whole series together, that these performers were all the artistic children of Lenny Bruce.

With all their talent, however, these comedians reminded me of the painters that tried to follow or be influenced by Pablo Picasso.  But Picasso had  "squeezed the lemons" of western figurative painting so dry, that all that there was left for other painters to do after he got finished with painting was abstract expressionism and pop-art. He revolutionized painting and sucked all the air out of it.  The law of diminishing returns has set in for stand up comedy too. Après Lenny le déluge.

Bruce suffered like a romantic poet from the 19th century, to see him or to hear him was to participate in that suffering, with his humor as the catharsis. I could say, without moving a muscle in my face, that Lenny Bruce "died for our sins". His comedy sent him to jail, he broke all the rules because he could, because he had heart, and because there were rules that could be broken.

However, it was one thing to say "fuck" on stage in the 1950s and go to jail for it and quite another thing to say it today, when even little children use the word. There is no liberation in the word anymore, only something of the monotony of soldier-speak. How could anybody get the sort of reaction today that Lenny Bruce got in the 1950s. It's hard to imagine something having that effect today: to  have riots break out, videos pulled from Youtube and a performer banned from TV and thus becoming a viral, forbidden fruit. Except for Youtube, that was what happened with Lenny Bruce.

Lenny Bruce was enriching, but I think there is too much comedy today. Finally all the edgy irony is deadening not enriching. Bruce was enriching because, not in spite, of the intensely square atmosphere of the period. Too many people act "hip" today... a bit like Thomas Frank's "Conquest of Cool", there is something shallow and phoney about it. Bruce was deep, in part because of the hostility he faced so bravely.

Probably the only thing that would shock people today like Bruce shocked people in the 50s and 60s would be if a lightening-witted, beautiful,  deep america, white woman did routines about black people etc, similar to Chris Rock's. To say out loud, with the same cutting edge of a Carlin, Cho and Silverman, the sort of things that Sarah Palin only says in code. I think the Tea Party is searching for something like this, but the closest they've come till now is Christine O’Donnell. If ever they find the real thing, listen, and you'll hear the gates of hell opening. DS

Sunday, October 03, 2010

The Rick Sanchez affair

David Seaton's News Links
One of the best comments I have seen on the Rick Sanchez affair comes from one Snuffysmith over at Talking Points Memo, I quote:
Sanchez: Jews control the media
Jews: No we don’t. BTW, you’re fired. LOL
I think that sums the whole thing up pretty well.

I'd like to make clear several points, before we go on.  At the beginning of the 20th century, Ashkenazi Jews were excluded by the "gentleman's agreement" from almost any "respectable" (read WASP dominated) way of making a lot of money. Many of the Ashkenazi immigrants in New York City, who had made some capital in "rag and bone" trades, tailoring or the fur business soon saw opportunities in industries that were not even yet on the radar of the comfortably settled WASPs, innovations such as the first flickering cinema and the nascent radio. In these areas that the WASP financial aristocracy considered frivolous, if not sordid, these immigrants or children of immigrants found no serious obstacles to realizing the universal American dream of fabulous wealth. Consequently they came to dominate those fields. When Howard Hughes, a WASP, bought RKO movie studios in 1948, Samuel Goldwyn was reported to have asked in outraged tones, "What does Hughes  know about movies, he was never in the fur business?"

This was not a "Jewish conspiracy", moving into movies and radio (which subsequently became TV) was simply expanding into a vacuum. I certainly don't blame the Jewish people for stumbling onto the depressing reality that Americans, and the rest of humanity unfortunately, are grotesquely addicted to being endlessly "entertained" and obsessed by their worship of entertainers. This is a fact; somebody was bound to discover it and exploit it sooner or later. It fell to America's Ashkenazim to do so. Therefore the Jewish "domination" of entertainment is richly deserved, they took something that the dominant group despised and turned it into the "colonization" of America's, and perhaps the world's, subconscious. I don't think this was planned, I believe that, like the making of the British Empire, this entertainment empire was obtained "in a fit of absent mindedness".
The problem now would be how that power is being administrated when the oil dependent United States finds itself in such a complex problem in the oil producing Middle East due to its joined at the hip relationship with Israel. The possibilities of  conflicting interests obviously multiply.
The Sanchez story should be seen as the symptom of a valid issue and not just some sort of "slipping of the mask" fit of bigotry.
The value of unobtrusive domination was something that the great moguls of classic Hollywood understood perfectly, but this ability seems to have been lost somewhere along the line. The question then becomes: where does omnipresence turn into a sensation of oppressiveness and where does the sensation of oppressiveness turn into actual oppression? DS

Friday, October 01, 2010

Life can be very simple...

David Seaton's News Links
Sometimes the most important things in life are so simple that people hardly ever think about them. Human beings get out of bed and before they are even half awake they take a pee and a drink of water and rarely think that if there were no water to drink, there shortly would be nothing to pee, and if this state of affairs continued for even a few days they would simply dry up dead and blow away.

Like I say, sometimes life is very simple.

With that simplicity in mind, read this snippet from BBC News:
About 80% of the world's population lives in areas where the fresh water supply is not secure, according to a new global analysis. Researchers compiled a composite index of "water threats" that includes issues such as scarcity and pollution. The most severe threat category encompasses 3.4 billion people. (...) The analysis is a global snapshot, and the research team suggests more people are likely to encounter more severe stress on their water supply in the coming decades, as the climate changes and the human population continues to grow. "It's not about the future, but we would argue people should be even more worried if you start to account for climate change and population growth. (...)"Climate change is going to affect the amount of water that comes in as precipitation; and if you overlay that on an already stressed population, we're rolling the dice."
I bring this up, because we are seeing more and more warnings like this, of climate change and the increasing scarcity of resources, like oil to run the economy or like this one of water to drink. All of these point in the direction of the "zero-sum" world that I wrote about in a previous post.

We can contrast the snippet from the BBC with the following one from Martin Hutchinson at Prudent Bear:
Commodities, derided for decades as unimportant, have become scarce resources, to be guarded and managed with the utmost care. Conversely human labor and skill, on the basis of which the glories of human civilization were built, is entering into a state of gigantic glut.(...) In summary, in today’s world, commodities have become scarce and labor has become commoditized, unless fenced in by artificial restraints. With the global supply of commodities finite, this problem can only worsen if population is allowed to continue growing. A world with 10 billion people, all able to compete on an equal basis in a globalized labor market and desiring commodity-intensive modern mechanical marvels, would be a world of ever-increasing scarcity and impoverishment, besides its adverse environmental effects. Hence population reduction programs, aiming to reduce global population to a level at which labor once more becomes more valuable than commodities, should be given the highest priority at a global level. Otherwise, with the labor supply unlimited and the skills supply nearly so, and commodities supply relatively restricted, the only wealthy people will be those who own mines or oil wells. Martin Hutchinson - Prudent Bear
Between the two snippets we have the political situation, in America and in the world, in a nutshell.

I often read and enjoy the blogs of "doomsters" Dimitri Orlov and James Kunstler, but I find their view of a future, where people will live simple, self sufficient lives, growing their own vegetables and weaving and sewing the clothes they wear  a tad naive. The future I imagine is more like today's slums of Calcutta or Lagos Nigeria or Mexico City, or the favelas of Rio de Janeiro... miserable, stunted, short lived people crammed together, hungry, without education or health, while rich people and their bodyguards fly overhead in helicopters, hopping from one gated community to another. I don't think these people are ever going to run out of oil or air or water.... ever. DS