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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Our myth's

Excellent piece in Esquire this month by Stephen Marche -

American Class System - We Are Not All Created Equal: The truth about the American class system

"Every instinct in the American gut, every institution, every national symbol, runs on the idea that anybody can make it; the only limits are your own limits. Which is an amazing idea, a gift to the world — just no longer true. Culturally, and in their daily lives, Americans continue to glide through a ghostly land of opportunity they can't bear to tell themselves isn't real. It's the most dangerous lie the country tells itself."...
"In the United States, the emerging aristocracy remains staunchly convinced that it is not an aristocracy, that it's the result of hard work and talent."...
"The Tea Partiers blame the government. The Occupiers blame the financial industry. Both are really mourning the arrival of a new social order, one not defined by opportunity but by preexisting structures of wealth. At least the ranters are mourning. Those who are not screaming or in drum circles mostly pretend that the change isn't happening."


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Income Inequality

Good piece @ NYT today from Charles Blow -

Inconvenient Income Inequality:
"An Associated Press report this week on census data found that “a record number of Americans — nearly 1 in 2 — have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.”"...
"Nearly 6 in 10 Americans still see themselves as the haves, while only about a third see themselves as the have-nots."

"Is income inequality becoming the new global warming? In other words, is this another case where the facts of an existential threat lose traction among a weary American public as deniers attempt to reduce them to partisan opinions?"

Delusional and convinced that any evidence otherwise is 'liberal propaganda'... The Essence of Normality, really is the refusal of reality.  To take liberty with Becker's work in 'Denial of Death' once again, while Decker argued we 'tranquilize ourselves with the trivial' so as to not face the ultimately reality (we're all eventually food for worms)... I would argue the same is true for other realities we don't want to face...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

RIP Christopher Hitchens

Joe Bageant, Hazel Dickens, and now Christopher Hitchens - all had unique, powerful, and rare voices -

Some Hitchens stories/quotes as told by friends over the last couple of days:

 David Frum:
"When the nurses asked him, in that insinuatingly cheerful way they have, how he was feeling that day, he'd answer, "I seem to have a touch of cancer.""

"Christopher was never a man to back away from a confrontation on behalf of what he considered basic decency."

"If moral clarity means hating cruelty and oppression, then Christopher Hitchens was above all things a man of moral clarity."

"Christopher did not offer a model of what to think. He offered a model of how to think - and how to live. Fully. Fearlessly. Joyously. And then, alas too soon, of how to die: without bluster but without flinching, boldly writing until the fingers moved no more."

 Emile Hirsh:
"But even more than presenting a mere path, he inspired me to want to learn more about the world in the first place -- he provokes wonder in people over ideas and the act of thinking for oneself; inspires an urge to walk the path."

"His very strong opinions against religion I believe came from what one could arguably call an almost spiritual place -- he wanted the truth so badly, he would accept nothing that his mind could not spot smacked of counterfeit."

"But Hitchens made rockstars seem small, as well as politicians or celebrities -- because his power wasn't something that was easily quantifiable or electable, he didn't have to pander to crowds to gain acceptance for a rise in this or that poll."

Matthew Chapman:

"(we) became friends after sharing 3 or 4 bottles of wine and several whiskeys one lunchtime in New York.

As a once heavy drinker, I could handle all this and was still lucid, but by around 5 o'clock I was beginning to have wild and dangerous thoughts about stumbling off into worse adventures, but cut with the equally appealing idea of going home and crashing out totally.

I went to the bathroom to look in the mirror. It wasn't that alcohol had affected my sight -- I could see my surroundings clearly enough. No, my face was out of focus, the face itself, and there was an insane look in the eyes that did not bode well. Going home was really the only option.

I went back upstairs and before I could make my excuses, Christopher said, "Sorry, Matthew, I just ordered a couple more Scotches but then I really have to go. I'm debating Al Sharpton on TV in 45 minutes." I managed to get home and watch. He was completely coherent, funny, and brilliant -- as always."

 Christopher Buckley:
"Lunch—dinner, drinks, any occasion—with Christopher always was. One of our lunches, at Café Milano, the Rick’s Café of Washington, began at 1 P.M., and ended at 11:30 P.M. At about nine o’clock (though my memory is somewhat hazy), he said, “Should we order more food?” I somehow crawled home, where I remained under medical supervision for several weeks, packed in ice with a morphine drip. Christopher probably went home that night and wrote a biography of Orwell. His stamina was as epic as his erudition and wit."

"As for the wit … one day we were talking about Stalin. I observed that Stalin, eventual murderer of twenty, thirty—forty?—million, had trained as a priest. Not skipping a beat, Christopher remarked, “Indeed, was he not among the more promising of the Tbilisi ordinands?”
I thought—as I did perhaps one thousand times over the course of our three-decade long tutorial—Wow.
A few days later, at a dinner, the subject of Stalin having come up, I ventured to my dinner partner, “Indeed, was he not among the more promising of the Tbilisi ordinands?” The lady to whom I had proferred this thieved aperçu stopped chewing her salmon, repeated the line I had so casually tossed off, and said with frank admiration, “That’s brilliant.” I was tempted, but couldn’t quite bear to continue the imposture, and told her that the author of this nacreous witticism was in fact none other than Christopher. She laughed and said, “Well, everything he says is brilliant.”
Yes, everything he said was brilliant. It was a feast of reason and a flow of soul, and, if the author of “God Is Not Great” did not himself believe in the concept of soul, he sure had one, and it was a great soul."


"The other bit is from Housman, and though it’s from a poem that Christopher and I recited back and forth at each other across the tables at Café Milano, I hesitate to quote it here. I see him wincing at my deplorable propensity for “crowd-pleasing.” But I’m going to quote it anyway, doubting as I do that he would chafe at my trying to mine what consolation I can over the loss of my beloved athlete, who died so young.
Smart lad to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay,
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose."
And as tweeted:
"Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity" Christopher Hitchens

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The parameters of debate

Speaking of the terms we're allowed to debate... when you hear Congressional Democrats or Republican's talking about tax rates they're talking a couple of percentage points and in general they have some slight difference in how they would off-set these cuts with cuts in spending.  In general, the elected "left" and elected "right" both agree, cut a bit off defense or education, cut the rate a percent or two.  Even amongst the talking heads you don't usually hear anyone outside of those parameters... thus, it's refreshing to hear this from Robert Reich:

Friday, December 9, 2011

The illusion of choice

One of the illusions is that our media offers choices... you can choose to watch Fox News and listen to Rush if you want the conservative side of the daily events, or you can watch MSNBC if you want to hear the liberal view of the daily events. And I've argued before that what conservatives have been very successful at is labeling all other options - CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN as 'liberal'.  Here's my essential rebuttal.  Bullshit.  Watch any of these channels, ANY OF THEM and you essentially get the same thing.  Corporate News.  As this Infographic points out - "6 media giants now control 90% of what we read, watch, or listen to."... in 1983 50 companies provided 90% of what we read, watch, or listened to... and those 6 companies, well they made over $250 Billion last year, I disagree with the commentary associated with the link I provided, in my mind if you think those corporations are going to let any story question their place in the world, you're just wrong.  They create the limits by which conversations can happen and keep them within certain margins... and those margins are remarkably narrow.
Media Consolidation Infographic
Source: Frugal dad

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

You probably wouldn't want to dance with me? would you?

Every town in America would drop their drawers and bend over if any big company showed them some love.  Hell, for that matter, that's essentially the qualifications to be a politician these days, will you bend over and show corporations a good time?  We're like the nerdy kid at the dance, walks up to the pretty girl with the big knockers and says, "uh, you probably wouldn't want to dance with me, would you?"... and the pretty girl and her friends all die laughing as we sulk back in the corner plotting our next move to be one of the cool kids.

We want to give them more tax cuts, give them our K-16 education system to train "workers" in the corporate image, build roads for them, bring them high speed internet access, go to war to open markets for them, and what's do they give us in return?

"Corporate America is sitting right on top of the solution to the nation's employment crisis, according to a new report from a group of University of Massachusetts economists. If America's largest banks and non-financial companies would just loosen their death-grip on a chunk of the $3.6 trillion in cash they're hoarding and move it into productive investments instead, the report estimates that about 19 million jobs would be created in the next three years, lowering the unemployment rate to under 5 percent." Read the rest HERE

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Look, something shiny!

Unemployment, deficit, war(s), etc. and Congress has a 9% approval rating... you would think they would all be running around trying their best to do something productive.  But no.  They are ONLY interested in winning the next election.  And they think one of the ways to do that is to continue the "Obama is different" theme they've used for the past 4 years.  They objected to Obama's Thanksgiving message.  Jon Stewart rightly bust their ass on the subject below.