Tuesday, November 30, 2010

True Hope is Subversive of Power

I seem to be on a Chris Hedges tear today. And I quote:

On Dec. 16 I will join Daniel Ellsberg, Medea Benjamin, Ray McGovern and several military veteran activists outside the White House to protest the futile and endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of us will, after our rally in Lafayette Park, attempt to chain ourselves to the fence outside the White House. It is a pretty good bet we will all spend a night in jail. Hope, from now on, will look like this.

Hope is not trusting in the ultimate goodness of Barack Obama, who, like Herod of old, sold out his people. It is not having a positive attitude or pretending that happy thoughts and false optimism will make the world better. Hope is not about chanting packaged campaign slogans or trusting in the better nature of the Democratic Party. Hope does not mean that our protests will suddenly awaken the dead consciences, the atrophied souls, of the plutocrats running Halliburton, Goldman Sachs, ExxonMobil or the government.

Hope does not mean we will halt the firing in Afghanistan of the next Hellfire missile, whose explosive blast sucks the oxygen out of the air and leaves the dead, including children, scattered like limp rag dolls on the ground. Hope does not mean we will reform Wall Street swindlers and speculators, or halt the pillaging of our economy as we print $600 billion in new money with the desperation of all collapsing states. Hope does not mean that the nation’s ministers and rabbis, who know the words of the great Hebrew prophets, will leave their houses of worship to practice the religious beliefs they preach. Most clerics like fine, abstract words about justice and full collection plates, but know little of real hope.

Hope knows that unless we physically defy government control we are complicit in the violence of the state. All who resist keep hope alive. All who succumb to fear, despair and apathy become enemies of hope. They become, in their passivity, agents of injustice. If the enemies of hope are finally victorious, the poison of violence will become not only the language of power but the language of opposition. And those who resist with nonviolence are in times like these the thin line of defense between a civil society and its disintegration.

We are in truly dire times; the time for hoping in Obama is past; we ordinary Joes need to get busy resisting.

All Hail Our Reptilian Corporate Masters

In a previous era, the role of the Court Jester was to use humor to tell uncomfortable truths to the king. Courtesy of the Onion:

20,000 Sacrificed In Annual Blood Offering To Corporate America

WILMINGTON, DE—The nation looked on in reverence Friday as 20,000 citizens were decapitated, dismembered, and burned alive in the name of Corporate America, continuing the age-old annual rite to ensure bounteous profits in the coming fiscal year.

"Corporate America has always provided us with plenty," said High Priest James N. Cahill, who opened the ceremony by plunging the horn of a bull into a fair-haired child's abdomen and using the freshly spilled blood to write the current value of the Dow Jones Industrial Average upon sacred parchment. "JPMorgan Chase, General Electric, and all in the great pantheon of publicly traded entities will continue to watch over us so long as we appease them each year with human lives."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Chris Hedges, On the Failure of the "Liberal Class"

While I obviously don't agree with him in every particular, I think his diagnosis of the central problem is basically right: the Democratic Party has allowed (even encouraged at times) the dismantling of the New Deal institutions that had been put in place to protect the economically vulnerable from the predations of greed and the power of the wealthy.

I see the Tea Party movement (the rank and file, not the astroturfing financiers) mostly as a symptom of the betrayal of the lower two-thirds of the US wealth scale by the institutions in our society whose historical role has been to defend them. The Democratic Party has been deeply corrupted by the limitless wealth available to the oligarchy who seek, and the evidence would indicate too often succeed at, buying their souls.

Someone once asked Sherrod Brown, a Democratic senator from Ohio, why people in southeastern Ohio were becoming a reliable Republican voting bloc. He answered, "Because the Democrats stopped talking to them."


The thing is, eventually the people in Southeastern Ohio and the rest of the underclass across the nation will reach a point where they Will Not Be Ignored. I pity whatever institutions are in the path of their wrath then. I don't think the United States as a functioning entity will survive the coming convulsions. In fact, in many respects it is already gone, sacrificed on the twin altars of Greed and Imperialism.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

How to drive on Las Vegas' Strip on a Saturday night:

1. Move car forward 5 inches, then stop.

2. Get out of car, cross street to Ceasar's Palace, enter lobby, ask concierge where the buffet is.

3. Ask buffet people when dinner starts.

4. Stop by bar, order and drink a scotch.

5. Go back out to car, start, and move forward 5 inches, to keep up with the "movement" of traffic.

6. Go over to the Bellagio, and play a few hands of blackjack.

7. Ask the pit boss how many people he's caught cheating, and have a 5 minute conversation about how he loves his job.

8. Stroll casually out to car, stopping on the way to flirt with waitresses.

9. Get in car, start, and move forward 5 inches, to keep up with the "movement" of traffic.

10. Discover that the Las Vegas Department of Fucking Up Traffic has the left 4 lanes of Las Vegas Boulevard blocked off because someone ran over a squirrel or something.

11. Start making calls inquiring about having your car heli-lifted out of traffic, so that you can make it home before your retirement age.

12. Realize when you're passing the Mirage that they have that icky Celine Dion "Titanic" song blaring from speakers.

13. Search in vain for some long, sharp instrument to destroy your eardreams.

14. Remember that your car has a radio.

15. Turn on radio and turn volume up to 11.

16. Realize that pedestrians are looking confused as to why an agitated-looking man has the NPR national news turned up so loud that his dashboard is melting.

17. Fail to care.