Posted by: Madman in the Marketplace | October 22, 2013

Take that, fella!

The condition of Man…is a condition of Warre of every one against every one. -
Pt. I, Ch. 14. Thomas Hobbes, “The Leviathan”

Sometimes I think there is some kind of ethereal tattooist lurking in the delivery room in every town, city, village and ‘burb in the United States, lurking off in some dark corner waiting to scribe this quote into the heart of every American child. It’s practically the national credo, and we damned well work hard every waking moment to make it true, here in the land built on chattel human bondage and genocide.

The weird obsession Americans have with things being “fair”, and no not that fairness that would enable everyone to have the basics to make for a baseline comfortable life, but a horrible small-minded fairness, the kind of fairness that takes one’s own disappointments and challenges and uses them to demand worse for others. “I worked hard, no one gave me anything, so …”

It’s not just the teabaggers, not just the Right or Republicans, not just the ignorant or bigoted or closed off or chauvinistic or homophobic or class conscious. It’s baked into everything. We make people jump through all kinds of hoops to obtain any kind of succor to salve life’s pains, it’s hungers, it’s bone-chilling cold and it’s unforgiving wounding assaults. We demand humiliation and a downcast gaze. We lock up and beat and lecture and scold …

I can’t even think we’re capable of fixing it, now that I’m into my second century in this country. We don’t want to, we who are the best and the brightest, the most innovative, the most creative … just ask us, watch our media … and just ignore any objective measurement comparing us in most everything to other western industrialized countries. For so many “liberals”, all we need do is tweak a few things, elect the right technocrat, fight the right wars the right ways, ban the right things, force the right behaviors … and for so many on the right and so-called center all we need to do is punish and withhold, whip and excoriate. Lock ‘em up, throw away the key.

And et cetera, and so on, and on and on an on.

Build some more prisons, fill out some more forms, stand in some more lines, swallow some more pride, take it like a man, if you’re a man, or suffer silently, if you’re not.

As I watch that fraud try to explain away the broken website that was supposed to enable healthcare for all (which in this sad seat of empire means poorly delivered overpriced insurance) on the news today, a day after watching zealots attack the very same pallid thing as some kind of socialized medicine on the Sunday follies (as though anybody in this uneducated land would know socialism if it walked up to them and fed and clothed a child) it is truly impossible to see anything other than Warre of every one against every one well into the foreseeable future.

We like it that way, after all. An empire of ghouls who’s nearly every business model is built on blood or exploitation. Advertising and entertainment … merely forms of farming to deliver eyeballs to those who would harvest them. Our insurance industries don’t serve to pool risk to enable greater opportunity and safety for all … no, they’re merely siphons to suck people dry then discard the husks when they’re emptied. We build and deliver more weapons and death than any other nation on earth. Our police are increasingly gussied up paramilitaries, our prisons dedicated to exploitation of captives rather than tools for rehabilitation. Our financial industries run bust-out scams and Ponzi schemes masquerading as retirement plans and small business loans and mortgages.

Our national bird should be a vulture.

I become more disgusted and more radicalized every year. Instead of finding ways to help one another, to pool our opportunities, to become better, we keep up THIS, this idiotic system that everyone can see isn’t working. So what if you think flipping burgers is some lowly thing that doesn’t deserve more money … what if that is all there is? SOMEONE has to prepare the food and sweep the floors and wipe your ass in that overcrowded “retirement” home and minimally train those children you may not have wanted. Why can’t we spread the wealth … what happened to resenting UP instead of punching down?

Americans like to complain that life isn’t fair, or at least it wasn’t fair for THEM, so they respond by picking one of two of the many ways that enable the very few to exploit the very most and to leave the very least for almost all.

It makes no damned sense, and it apparently isn’t going to change, other than for the worse.

Posted by: Madman in the Marketplace | April 10, 2011

Awesome

Posted by: Madman in the Marketplace | January 9, 2011

Share Your Prayers

Cloth Hall, Ypres, Belgium, during World War I

Another tragedy, another stream of empty platitudes. Share your prayers, share your thoughts, share your magical wishes and cause a desired action over a distance. Wave your wizard wands, burn your incense, chant your scripture, call your Congresscritter.

Light a candle.

Bracket, John Jacob Astor III residence, New York City

Sure, why not … like so much that we do it’s about ourselves, feeling like we can do something, change something, make it all better. Maybe we can quantum entangle our fairy tale dreams and bring the dead back to life. In fact, while we’re at it, if we all choose our words carefully, like good repressed puritans, we can erase all of our differences and pave the streets with gold and put a free range chicken in every pot.

Posted by: Madman in the Marketplace | January 6, 2011

Win the Social Lottery

Negro domestic servant, Atlanta, Georgia. May 1939.

Take heart America … no matter how bad it seems, no matter how far your fortunes may fall, you may be bailed out by a You Tube video, or a winning lottery ticket, or a TV show with a big bus full of furniture and toys from a major retail chain, or an Undercover Boss, or merely the right benevolent person crossing your path. Like the heartwarming story of Ted Williams and his golden voice:

In a must-see segment on this morning’s “Today Show,” Williams told Matt and Meredith that he thanks God for this second chance and is taking his new-found fame “one step at time.”

When you win, though, make sure to follow the script. Gawd, almighty Gawd has smiled down upon you. Remember to sprinkle in some recovery speak, talk about second chances and what a great country this is. Remember to play your part, because this hard, cold culture can just as easily grind you under again. Proclaim ONLY IN THIS GREAT LAND as often and as sincerely as you can.

Make sure to emphasize how you can offer up some skill, some talent, some way to entertain, and make sure that you do so with humility. Make sure to thank the power-that-was-your-savior profusely, especially the nice white man with the camera. Don’t worry, you’re not being exploited, you’re an object lesson in human goodness and hope!

As long as you can demonstrate that you DESERVE the “second chance”. If you want to try to call attention to the others that were in your former dire straits, make sure that you emphasize that they, too, have some untapped skills that make them “worth” saving, because basic justice, decency, charity … none of those things are reason enough. Remember that if you don’t show that you DESERVE the help/uplift/redemption you’ve stumbled into, then you might get lumped into the rest, who can be summed up as part of the waste, fraud and abuse that must be CUTCUTCUT to save us from the Gubmint.

It’s a heartwarming story, one for the ages, one redolent of Kipling, of the company store, of the white man’s burden and the loving masters who care for their servants and slaves as they would simple children.

I would say colonialism is a wonderful thing. It spread civilization to Africa. Before it they had no written language, no wheel as we know it, no schools, no hospitals, not even normal clothing. – Ian Smith, last Prime Minister of Rhodesia

Colonialism no longer requires travel or conquering or subjugation by force … colonialism has been internalized, it owns the language and the culture, it presents helping one another as something that must be EARNED.

Mr. Williams didn’t make this whole sorry script so … and he’s doing what he feels he has to do to survive. This sad morality play isn’t his to stop, his to end … because you know if he tried none of us would know who he is. The chance came his way, he’s grateful, may his days continue on their happy way.

The whole thing is locked in, so many of us are trapped, and part of the scam is that we all MUST love stories like this, so heartwarming and redemptive in their power. After all … without this meager circus one is left only to stare into the void.

Posted by: Madman in the Marketplace | August 28, 2010

Look Back in Anger

Abandoned Car and Unfinished Apartment House Construction of Highrises on Breezy Point Peninsula Was Stopped by City in Major Effort to Conserve Area for Public Recreation 05/1973

I used to blog a lot, fed by anger. Anger at how things were, how things have been, what things were becoming. Anger at other Americans, at politicians, at corporations, at bad music elevated above good, at nothing at all. It got to the point where I couldn’t write anything without anger to feed it. Anger at American exceptionalism and warmongering and empire building and the American penchant for righteous ignorance.

Like a lot of people, I made the leap into the idea that putting my anger down and out into the world made a difference.

Looking back, that too was an expression of how American I am. I used to comfort myself with the fairy tale that Americans were fundamentally good and liberal and loved puppies and apple pie. Naively believing that argument expressed forcefully could balance the scales and rescue a country that has always barely held itself together. How stupidly American, that things could be so because I and others WISHED them so.

What crap.

Looking at the Beck Traveling Road Show today in DC, the mosque silliness and the continual elevation of pathetic morons like Sarah Palin, and it’s painfully clear that Americans hate each other, fear each other, and will continually side with the Owners of this nation, like peasants and serfs have done throughout history, in the hopes of protection and maybe a little filthy lucre too.

It’s not just the right in this, but the supposed liberals too. Gore and his album-banning wife, his fake activism and his eager surrender in 2001, Kerry and his concession through perfumed hankie, Bubba Clinton and his attacks on the poor, his elevation of banksters by shredding regulation, and most recently Barry Obama and his empty promises and his feckless cowardly buddies in the Senate.

So much and so many to be angry at … all to no effect.

Sadly, trying not to be angry makes it impossible to write. They’re so tied up together, conditioned. Politics and daily outrage as Pavlov’s bell.

There really isn’t any point to this, I guess, other than as a minor self-exorcism. We’ll see how things go.

Posted by: Madman in the Marketplace | March 5, 2010

Stupid Piggy

Oh, it is to laugh:

Closing of Rest Stops Stirs Anger in Arizona

Arizona has the largest budget gap in the country when measured as a percentage of its overall budget, and the state Department of Transportation was $100 million in the red last fall when it decided to close 13 of the state’s 18 highway rest stops.

But the move has unleashed a torrent of telephone calls and e-mail messages to state lawmakers, newspapers and the Department of Transportation deploring the lost toilets — one of the scores of small indignities among larger hardships that residents of embattled states face as governments scramble to shore up their finances.

“People in this state are mad about this,” said State Representative Daniel Patterson, a Democrat from Tucson who has sponsored a bill that would allow other entities to reopen and maintain the rest stops. “This bill may have the broadest support among members of any bill this year.”

Some residents see something sinister in the closings. Betty L. Roberts, who lives in Sun City, west of Phoenix, said the topic was a hot one among her friends.

“I honestly think they are setting us up because they want to do a tax increase,” Ms. Roberts said. “I think by shutting down things people want, they will give us one.”

What the hell do you expect if you demand more and more and yet refuse to fucking pay for it? Are magic (non-union, of course) toilet fairies supposed to build, clean and maintain the rest stops so you can climb down out of your fucking truck or SUV to shit out the junk food you’ve been choking down?

Arizona is, of course, one of the centers of stupid “libertarian” white assholes who hate immigrants and cities and government and anybody who makes them uncomfortable, one of those supposed promised lands where you don’t pay taxes and you get to own as many guns as you want and you can elect winger yahoos who will coddle your stupid fantasies about “taking your country back”, the country you’ve been starving with your selfish demands to get the services only YOU and people like you need for nothing while never ever ever allowing a penny to help someone you DON’T like.

I hope when Betty is forced to squat down at the side of the road to piss a viper comes up and bites her in her ass, hissing “I got your taxes right here, you stupid moron.”

Posted by: Madman in the Marketplace | January 30, 2010

Bow and Scrape

Magic Lantern Slide of a dog jumping through a hoop.

It’s always great fun to watch Barry suck up to the clownish Republican bullies, and watch the court jesters in the media babble about whether he’s moved to the center enough, who’s in the center, ain’t the center just wonderful and great and the usual empty-headed claptrap that passes for political discourse in our proud empire.

The poor little suck-up just wants so badly to be loved:

OBAMA: And I’ve got — and I’ve got a lot of these ideas.

The last thing I will say, though — let me say this about health care and the health care debate because I think it also bears on a whole lot of other issues.

If you look at the package that we’ve presented — and there’s some stray cats and dogs that got in there that we were eliminating — we were in the process of eliminating.

For example — for example, you know, we said from the start that — that it was going to be important for us to be consistent in saying to people if you can have your — if you want to keep the health insurance you’ve got, you can keep it; that you’re not going to have anybody getting in between you and your doctor in your decisionmaking. And I think that some of the provisions that got snuck in might have violated that pledge.

And so we were — we were in the process of scrubbing this and making sure that it’s tight.

But at its core, if you look at the basic proposal that we put forward, it has an exchange so that businesses and the self-employed can buy into a pool and can get bargaining power the same way big companies do, the insurance reforms that I’ve already discussed, making sure that there’s choice and competition for those who don’t have health insurance.

The component parts of this thing are pretty similar to what Howard Baker, Bob Dole and Tom Daschle proposed at the beginning of this debate last year.

Now, you may not agree with Bob Dole and Howard Baker and Tom — and certainly you don’t agree with Tom Daschle on much…

(LAUGHTER)

… but that’s not a radical bunch. But if you were to listen to the debate, and, frankly, how some of you went after this bill, you’d think that this thing was some Bolshevik plot.

(LAUGHTER)

No, I mean, that’s how you guys — that’s how you guys presented it.

(APPLAUSE)

And so I’m thinking to myself, “Well, how is it that a plan that is pretty centrist…”

(LAUGHTER)

No, look, I mean, I’m just saying — I know you guys disagree, but if you look at the facts of this bill, most independent observers would say this is actually what many Republicans — it — it’s similar to what many Republicans proposed to Bill Clinton when he was doing his debate on health care.

Because NOTHING makes a bully leave you alone quite like meeting them half way.

It really does boggle the mind that there are people who believe that this is change.

Posted by: Madman in the Marketplace | December 3, 2009

Shouldn’t Be Surprised

Change was never in the works. War and state murder is America’s business, and business is good. Obama just put a more PR-friendly face on the Imperium.

Posted by: Madman in the Marketplace | October 28, 2009

Healthcare “Reform”

You didn’t actually think they’d fix anything without helping out the corps even more, did you?

Holy Joe from Aetna isn’t the problem, he’s a symptom.

The Donks will deliver one thing, and one thing only, more state murder, preferably by wire so precious American lives aren’t “lost”.

The only American lives allowed to be “lost” are the ones that fatten a corporate bottom line.

Posted by: Madman in the Marketplace | August 6, 2009

A War Crime

The mayor of Hiroshima, the city where 140 000 people died from the blast, renewed his call for the abolition of what he said are 24 000 remaining nuclear warheads over the next decade as he led the solemn ceremony.

About 50 000 people, including “hibakusha” or atom bomb survivors, politicians and envoys from 59 countries and the United Nations, gathered near the A-bomb Dome, the skeleton of a hall burnt by the bomb’s intense heat.

“The abolition of nuclear weapons is the will not only of the hibakusha, but also of the vast majority of people on this planet,” said the mayor, Tadatoshi Akiba, head of the international group Mayors for Peace.

This country can never atone for a crime it refuses to accept it committed. We murdered two cities three score and four years ago, and we still tell ourselves it was justified. The LEAST we could do is start destroying our huge, dangerous nuclear arsenal.

For the Sixty-Fourth Time: No More Nuclear War By Frida Berrigan

Sixty-four years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we need more than symbols of peace. Folding paper cranes alone cannot, unfortunately, end the threat of nuclear war. Memories of the destruction fade, the hibakusha grow even older and die, the haunting pictures end up in books stored spine out on bookshelves.

Meanwhile, the terror of nuclear annihilation — so keen at certain moments during the long superpower Cold War stand-off — seems to have worn off almost completely. That’s too bad, since the actual threat of nuclear war remains hidden but potent. The nine nuclear powers — the United States, Russia, France, England, China, Israel, Pakistan, India, and North Korea — have more than 27,000 operational nuclear weapons among them, enough to destroy several Earth-sized planets. And in May, Mohamed ElBaradei, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, warned that the number of nuclear powers could double in a few years unless new disarmament is a priority. Is it any wonder then that, according to a recent Rasmussen opinion poll, one in five Americans believe nuclear war “very likely” in this century, and more than half, “likely”?

The unthinkable is still under consideration — even as the Obama administration takes its first steps in the right direction. In an April speech in Prague, President Obama publicly embraced the goal of seeking “the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” In its wake, his administration has begun taking still quite modest but potentially important steps towards that goal, including: renewed talks with Russia over mutual nuclear reductions, conversations initiated in the Senate about jump-starting the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban, stalled these last 10 years, and of negotiations for the also stalled Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, imagined as an internationally verified ban on the production of nuclear materials for weapons.

Right now, however, the American nuclear landscape — little acknowledged or discussed — remains grimly potent. According to the authoritative Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the United States still maintains a nuclear stockpile estimated at 5,200 warheads — of which approximately 2,700 are operational (with the rest in reserve), while the Obama administration will spend more than $6 billion on the research and development of nuclear weapons this year alone.

At some point early next year, the administration will complete a Nuclear Posture Review outlining the role it believes nuclear weapons should play in the American pantheon of power, and, if the president follows through on his anti-nuclear statements, perhaps that document will at least begin to limit the scenarios in which such weapons could be used. In the meantime, the policy of the United States remains no different than it was in 2004, when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld signed the Nuclear Weapons Employment Policy. It said, in part, that the United States possesses nuclear weapons for the purposes of “destroying those critical war-making and war-supporting assets and capabilities that a potential enemy leadership values most and that it would rely on to achieve its own objectives in a post-war world.” Read that sentence again, and think, under such a doctrine, what might the United States not bomb?

Keep in mind as well that the bombs which annihilated two Japanese cities and ended so many lives 64 years ago this week were puny when compared to today’s typical nuclear weapon. Little Boy was a 15 kiloton warhead. Most of the warheads in the U.S. arsenal today are 100 or 300 kilotons — capable of taking out not a Japanese city of 1945 but a modern megalopolis. Bruce Blair, president of the World Security Institute and a former launch-control officer in charge of Minutemen Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles armed with 170, 300, and 335 kiloton warheads, pointed out a few years ago that, within 12 minutes, the United States and Russia could launch the equivalent of 100,000 Hiroshimas.

It is unthinkable. It seems unimaginable. It sounds like hyperbole, but consider it an uncomfortable and necessary truth. The people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the children of our future need us to understand this and act upon it — 64 years too late… and not a minute too soon.

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