Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Requiescat In Pacem

The Meaning of Life

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.”
Stephen Hawking

Monday, March 12, 2018

From Harper's Weekly: Why gun ownership is a joke

Following the year’s 30th mass shooting, which claimed the lives of 17 people at a school in Parkland, Florida, lawmakers debated the best way to stop gun violence in American schools.[1][2][3][4] As the 31st, 32nd, 33rd, 34th, and 35th mass shootings occurred, the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, which has repeatedly passed amendments to federal funding bills that prevent the Centers for Disease Control from directly researching the causes of gun violence, said the killings could not be addressed with a “magic bullet”; and US president Donald Trump, who has previously expressed a fear of sharks, blood, stairs, watching prostitutes urinate, collecting rent in Cincinnati, and holding a 27-year-old bald eagle named Uncle Sam, said that an officer who did not intervene in the Parkland shooting was a “coward,” that he would have stopped the shooter himself even if he “didn’t have a weapon,” and that “highly trained” teachers should be armed in the classroom.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13] A school board in Kentucky voted to allow teachers to carry concealed weapons, police in Louisiana raided the home of a student who observed that the symbol for a square root resembled a gun, and a high school in Pennsylvania suspended a teacher for discussing the Parkland shooting in class.[14][15][16] The governor of Kentucky said the country needed to have “an honest conversation” about violent music and pornography “in the hands” of “young people”; congresspersons in Florida rejected a ban on assault rifles and then passed a resolution that declared pornography a public heath risk; a former Pennsylvania senator blamed “absent dads” for mass shootings; and the National Rifle Association, which in combination with its self-described “lobbying arm” paid $5 million to lobbyists last year, announced through its chief spokeswoman that it wasn’t “a lobby group” for gun ownership.[17][18][19][20][21] Trump said the country must “do something” about how “young people’s thoughts” are shaped by “violence on video games”; and the NRA’s president said that “socialists” wanted to take away American’s handguns and semi-automatic rifles so that citizens wouldn’t be able to defend themselves against an attack by the US government, which employs a total of 1,373,650 active-duty personnel; owns 5,884 combat tanks, 41,062 armored vehicles, 1,934 self-propelled artillery guns, 19 aircraft carriers, 63 destroyers, 70 submarines, 2,296 fighter planes, and 947 attack helicopters; maintains a stockpile of 6,800 nuclear bombs, including some that are 80 times more powerful than the bomb the US dropped on Hiroshima during World War II; and operates on a budget of about $600 billion, which congressional Republicans said should be increased, and which the military used in part to fund Army-themed video games designed to recruit teenagers.[22][23][24][25][26][27][28] 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Corporate Wokeness? Or Hall of Mirrors?

Some food for thought from a savvy commenter in today's NY Times responding to a rare, sporadically lucid op ed from Ross Douthat.
Because facts still do matter to the mentally intact.

drspock   New York 44 minutes ago

We have to remember that "the corporation" is a creation of capital. It's function is to consolidate and increase surplus capital. It always magnifies the the difference between the rent producers and the rent collectors.

The period that refers to as "the Treaty of Detroit" was a time where organized labor still had some power. More importantly, it was a time when overseas markets had not recovered from WWII and couldn't afford the consumer good that we were churning out.

Globalism isn't about "free trade" and it didn't just happen. It was engineered when capital expansion was tapping out the American worker and economic growth abroad had reached level where its exploitation could be profitable.

Treaties were negotiated, laws were changed, tax policies changed, all toward that end. The final piece of the puzzle was globalizing the financial system. The enormous capital surplus established in the US now reached the entire globe. When countries pushed back, we made them an offer they couldn't refuse.

If the question raised by this article is does capitalism have a conscious? The answer is a resounding NO. It has a single, prime directive-profit and more profit. Profit that leaves social destruction in its wake, profit that is rapidly destroying the planet itself, and profit that has seized control of the levers of government and turned it, like the corporation into another of capital's tools.

And then there's this guy, just as brill:

Matt Carnicelli

 is a trusted commenter Brooklyn, NY 1 hour ago

Ross, did you seriously believe that these tax cuts would lead to significantly higher wages?

Please, voodoo economics is, was, and forever shall be a scam. By the year 2017, everyone with a brain should known it was a scam - and that the deficits this scam would incur will not be productive deficits. We are just redistributing money back to oligarchs who will only hide it in the Cayman Islands or use it buy more politicians.

The question that conscience-based conservatives like yourself should be addressing is what went horribly wrong in Christianity after Luther's Reformation - like how Jesus' compassion for the poor and de facto socialist attitudes were transformed into the idiocy of predestination, and the sadism of Calvinist economics; or how Jesus' authentic ethos of compassion, brotherhood, and non-violence was exchanged for one of "praise the Lord and pass the ammunition".

Ross, the fact is that ever since the Reagan devolution, wealth-obsessed conservatives have again and again made fools of conscience-based conservatives; and as openly acknowledged by David Brody in his now infamous Sunday apologia for evangelicals supporting Trump - in which he writes that "the goal of evangelicals has always been winning the larger battle over control of the culture" - these same conservatives long ago sold their souls in an attempt to impose their constipated, corrupted style of Christianity on a nation originally conceived out of an ethos of perfect spiritual freedom.
"The sadism of Calvinist economics"... Nailed it. Thank you, Matt! 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Friday, February 2, 2018

Is This Any Way to Run a Government?

Read it and weep.

From Michele Goldberg's excellent Op-ed today explaining all this memo mess;

It really is time for the men to step aside, don't you think? As Mattis looks for justifiable reasons to take us to war with Syria. Yes, it seems The Don feels it's time for a more serious distraction from the Mueller Probe than a measly memo. Mmmmm, a good solid episode of American boots on the ground, that's what's needed. Buck the people up, as it were. Make 'em proud to be 'Mercans again.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Let's Be Clear

coup d'état also known simply as a coup (/kuː/), a putsch golpe de estado, or an overthrow, is a type of revolution, where the illegal and overt seizure of a state by the military or other elites within the state apparatus occurs.

A little further clarity:

Coup d'état definition, a sudden and decisive action in politics, especially one resulting in a change of government illegally or by force.

Monday, January 29, 2018

As To Journalists...

It is my belief that the writer, the free-lance author, should be and must be a critic of the society in which he lives. It is easy enough, and always profitable, to rail away at national enemies beyond the sea, at foreign powers beyond our borders who question the prevailing order. But the moral duty of the free writer is to begin his work at home; to be a critic of his own community, his own country, his own culture. If the writer is unwilling to fill this part, then the writer should abandon pretense and find another line of work: become a shoe repairman, a brain surgeon, a janitor, a cowboy, a nuclear physicist, a bus driver. -Edward Abbey, naturalist and author (29 Jan 1927-1989)