Swing that hammer, John

yellow axe“It’s really refreshing to be in a group with people who aren’t completely out of their minds,” he said, according to court documents.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/john-hinckleys-return-to-normalcy-has-been-years-in-making/2016/07/30/fb761c9c-5655-11e6-b652-315ae5d4d4dd_story.html

This is pretty amazing. Ya ever been to a fish market where the big fat frozen fish eye on ice is staring you sideways in the face? So is this: so this guy goes to a place called “Retro Daddio”? I mean, talk about red flag city galore! “Hi! I’m your avuncular uncle of yesteryear coming to pay you a visit and a little pat on the knee.” And what’s that taped up on the wall, but a nice pic of hot young Jodi F. who inspired it all coz the dude lookin’ outta the corner of his eye can’t go on the Internet to do it.

He’s like stuck in the past, i.e, “retro,” you dig, and is makin’ a good impression on the proprietor, naturally. Otherwise all bets are off and the bells that ring when he opens the second hand goods store, they’re not ringing to St. Peter’s. I betcha if she’s got ‘em, ya gonna catch him lookin’ at ole Jodi there sideways glance eye-wise on the security cameras keeping all the customers street legal, coz tape and posters, they ain’t against the law to look at.

Now you just figure if he’d be going to visit Momma if 35 years ago he’d been a black guy who’d shot a president. Snowball’s chance in hell [entailments of “white” fully intended] he’d be outta prison a day, if for a lifetime.

It’s just crazy, man, crazy!

What’s wealth got to do with it?

hanging crow in lilac blooms

In a statement, campaign officials called overturning the controversial decision a key part of Clinton’s plan to “challenge the stranglehold that wealthy interests have over our political system.”

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2016/07/16/hillary-clinton-push-constitutional-amendment-overturn-citizens-united/87186452/

It is important to remember that every media appearance by any person involved in elected government is a self-promoting advertisement. That these may double as platform positions is really secondary. Primary is the purpose to get you, the viewer, the “consumer,” to buy the product—be it potato chip, corn chip, potsticker, or politician.

The potato chip offered in Ms. Clinton’s media appearance in which she vows to, in effect, overturn the Supreme Court’s decision over Citizens United is troubling in three basic ways. The first and most obvious is the mordant irony of a presidential nominee whose candidacy is the direct result of unlimited millions and millions of donor dollars rolling in from super-PACs, today decrying the role played by millions and millions of dollars rolling in from corporations and unions. While it can be argued quite fairly that these are not the same thing, that these are apples and those are oranges, one must also remember that the hand that writes the check from the pile of apples is more often than not the same one that has its fingers in the pile of oranges.

While this talk from Ms. Clinton is somewhat yesterday’s news from 2015, it is also today’s front page headlines. It must be. It has got to be headline news because among the vast swath of the disaffected and on the fence Bernie Sanders supporters, Ms. Clinton has got to sell them her potato chip. She has got to make his potato chip sound as though it is her own chip. By the millions, there are still millions of burned Bernies. Their skin is scorched; the little hairs on their forearms singed; their revolutionary minds are smoldering, if not still aflame.

To get them to buy her potato chip, she has got to offer them something that sounds like a replica of Mr. Sanders’ one-note exhortation throughout his honorable yet vestigial attempt to secure the Democratic nomination. Less money! No money! Money out of politics! Even though, as noted, Ms. Clinton’s presumptive nomination is a direct result of huge sluices filled with gobs and gobs of side-tracked money flowing to her campaign from all directions, from $33,000 dinner plates to similarly priced per capita fundraisers, her verbally disavowing the high stakes role big money plays in the presidential elections, is a salve to the spirit of the millions of sidelined grass-rootsy [sic] American folk, a poulstice on their wounds and bruises, especially the younger under 30 crowd, whose sense of betrayal, abandonment, and their probable ontological guilt of what-to-do pointlessness remains in many of them so itchy all over. As an anti-dote to their nagging consciences, this appeal might make them feel better about themselves again. Hey, she sounds like Bernie! So, I guess I can, despite my misgivings, I’ll vote for her. . .

These, however, are the lesser two of Ms. Clinton’s pandering and self-promoting evils. They are not surprising whatsoever. They are wholly to be expected. They are tactical. Calculated. Predictable. The third and most egregious problem is in the suggestion of the proposal itself. Not thirty days into office, Ms. Clinton is promising to change the U. S. Constitution. This is not just a rebuke to the political process of how laws, for better or for worse, come into being; it is to wipe it right off the table the paper and the document with her arm.

Supposing one feels that there is too much corporate money in politics, one may very well be supportive of what Ms. Clinton as president is declaring she would do within her first month in office. In spite of one’s feeling perhaps the rectitude of this, one must, in order to go along with this “feeling,” overlook a gross error within the mechanism behind what she is proposing. If, she is implying directly, a president does not favor a law which has passed through the review of the Supreme Court, and that law is found by the Court to be constitutional, she will take charge herself and seek to have the meaning of that Court’s holding obliterated.

Obviously, in the country’s past, the Supreme Court has found in its review laws constitutional which in later times were seen to be—gladly and thankfully—repugnant, embarrassing, foolish, reprehensible. Still, the process by which they came to be seen as such was largely through the same political process that had found their mistaken, short-sighted, and ill-advised holdings to have been constitutional in the first place. For the most part, they were undone by the same political process that made them.

Changing law through an immediate act of aggressive political or suggestive presidential fiat is not the way to go about making such change. That this particular issue might to some people pass muster because, in principle, they agree with it, is entirely besides the point. Its danger is that because the notion of limiting campaign financing seems to hold public approval in the way that mobs seem to generally approve of things, it conceals almost entirely the imperious intent Ms. Clinton has to push things whichever way she feels fit, with contempt and disregard for the process that brought such things—whatever they be—into existence, however odious they might in reality sometimes be; rather than allowing for the political system itself to democratically work some of its mis-guided or erroneous decisions out through the prescribed set of powers divided and allocated to the representative branches of government. Instead, she seeks, in effect, to amass all such powers, and would seek to execute them from the seat of the presidency itself.

Again, it might not be obvious because few persons would, on the face of things, be very agreeable to the continuance of huge amounts of money being funneled into presidential politics. That this be not right or that it be undesirable does not offset her underlying willfulness and her outspoken intent to walk into office, take a seat, and start off her administration by abusing in its core and in its political foundations the very system in place for creating or reviewing law. The danger is not in this particular proposal itself, which might very well be a good thing. Rather, the danger is the danger of precedent, the writing of whose presidential narrative would be like the ringing of a dinner bell for further actions to be taken in the future.

She may mean to be pleasing the people. She may mean to be pleasing the Bernie supporters. Tucked under her wing, however, is a barely concealed tyrannical disposition—nestled among the night’s soft feathers—that spells out with greater certainty an intention to disregard, upend, overturn, abuse, and blunt American Law.

Say it ain’t so, Joe

homeless armani“We’re defined by a common creed that says to our children that if they work hard, if they struggle, if they are loyal, if they are courageous — they will have an opportunity to live a better life than the generation before them,” Biden said.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/24/politics/joe-biden-brexit-ireland-speech/

Put forward as a positive-sounding antidote to separation, or isolation, or, by extension, xenophobia, bigotry and so on, this is one of the almost forgettable comments that spells out quite clearly the horror of the times. Not by what Joe Biden seems to believe he intends—as a pretty stand-up seeming guy with a ten dollar haircut—but by the underlying ethos driving the menacing principles within his words I can only guess he must be unaware of.

Still, in 2016, the second-in-command is explicitly defining what he means by work as “struggle.” And the point of this struggle is not for now but for some unforeseeable tomorrow, some amorphously defined “better life.” Combining a penchant for his militaristic terminology of being “courageous” with his homespun, off-the-cuff ease, the vice president is suggesting a way of living and a way of life that is a throwback to times at least as grim, demeaning, and dehumanizing as those lived by the suffering and exploited masses at the burst of the Industrial Revolution, the wars of Napoleon, if not thousands of years prior to the nameless slave-hordes of Egypt.

Offered as a way of worldwide grace and virtuous living which all people deserve, the monocultural, American blight of drudgery, oppression, and pointlessness proposed is the real terror inside this silk-gloved hand whose magical grip is so tight around the neck of the world it cannot see itself for the released dove it—in its nearly immaculate self-deception—sees itself to be.

Nevertheless, people in the U.S. and elsewhere, are like dogs buying in to the notion of “hard work” and its close friend “getting ahead,” two of many sub-categories beneath the rubric heading of “progress.” And that if we all do our share, all do our pull at the oars, our turn at the wheel, if not for ourselves, then for others living in the future, life will be better. Certainly, disease, starvation, and sickness are not anything like they were in the not too distant historical past in many parts of today’s post-industrial cultures. Obviously, the material quality of life is better than at any other time in human history.

At the same time, no other point in human history has had to bear witness to the common proliferation of human violence in all parts of the world (by both individuals and nation-states alike), the ubiquity of human diseases (made only obvious by the masses seeking to put to sleep both their physical and psychological ill health through pharmaceutical means), and the boundless human destructiveness of our own environment as this present one.

Consider how far the United States as a nation has fallen short of creating a civilization of people who actually struggle less, work less hard and—in turn—have more time available to think, create, and just be—nothing more than that! Consider how far along the rest of the world has followed this progressive nightmare, this God-awful creed, almost blindly, gladly, willingly, religiously, nationalistically. It is as though it had all been for the asking to line up on the front line, to be shot upon, to fall, to die—all for the next in line, row after row, to line up and in their time in their own history, to die, to fall, to have lived and to have fallen really for nothing.

Or, if they have have fallen, if they have died, it will have been for the sake of the smallest of small elites in all countries in all nations whose sons and daughters do not fight and do not die, who dine on abalone and wear the pearls others in the deepest of cold waters have dived for holding their breaths. For the smallest of small who do not seem to suffer so much, who do not seem to struggle so hard but whose belief-system, not different than those others, is no more than the flip side of it. And so, their perishing, though not as harsh, is just as pointless.

The Shaggy Coat Of Banality

alexievich

I was sitting around in the auto shop the other day and picked up a used copy of The New Yorker that was already folded around and opened to an article that I started reading about who’d won the Nobel Prize in literature. And I stopped reading and took a picture of it on my iPhone not far into it when the winner, Svetlana Alexievich, was quoted as saying, “We live in an environment of banality. For most people, that’s enough. But how do you get through? How do you rip off that coating of banality? You have to make people descend into the depths of themselves.” And I starting thinking about the news I’d read earlier that morning through Google news; and how Douglas Tompkins, I had read about the next day, had been killed the day before that on December 8 in a kayaking accident in Patagonia, an eco-baron who wanted to save hundreds and hundreds of thousands of acres of forest by buying them up so that they’d be preserved forever, spared the onslaught of industry, development, and technology.

I read about the daily murders, and the daily bombings, and the blowings-up. And I had looked over noticing how in the last weeks the headlines had shifted from money and earnings and accounts of money and earnings, to the next scene of carnage and murder in California or Paris and so on, and that money and politics had seemed to drop pretty much away from them. And I thought about how the murder of John Lennon on December 8, 1980, sitting around the auto shop that same day thirty-five years later, hadn’t been anywhere, how when he was shot and killed on 72nd Street and Central Park West then, this didn’t even come up.

A friend of mine and I had been trading newspaper articles that we read online for years. It began with a line I read once by Noam Chomsky that you had to read a news article to the last line of the article, that you had to do this to really understand it. It was there that you got what it was really all about. And last lines we read proved to be great. They were really doozies at times. They spelt out there exactly what the writer meant. Everything worked toward that last line, and if you didn’t read an article to the last line you didn’t get it. For years and years we’ve been sending each other these last lines in emails, with just the smallest and often most obscure commentaries we choose to make on these lines, as well as the links to the online articles themselves.

Over time this had changed between him and me to the reading of news not for the news’ sake, but from our reading these articles from a position of their complete banality. Embedded within news, if you read the news well, we found that there was this incredible preponderance, if you will, of the most unlikely kinds of language being used in places that you would never ever expect language to being used that way actually being used that way. For instance, in a story about a man who’d drowned in a local river, there’d be some friend in the article quoted as saying something like, “He’d been fishing for trouble for the last five years.” How could this happen? We, my friend and I, didn’t want to know that exactly, but we were keen at how often this happened. I mean, beyond just its being a self-conscious easy-play with a cheap pun, as is common and on purpose in sports headlines and articles, we found these totally inappropriate metaphors being used all over the place. So, it made the comedy of the banality of the news worse, in a way, but in another way better. Why? Because we never had to feel it. Why? Because there really was nothing left to feel. Not with writing like that. Left or right, patriotic or terrorist, political or familiar, news was never actually news. It was something else entirely.

So when I Googled The New Yorker magazine at home over the next few days and read the account of a woman describing the pieces of her husband’s body falling apart, which article I had begun and put down in the auto shop, I did feel what Alexievich had meant, I think. (This I let myself feel somehow trying, or at least trying to push to the side that everything printed in The New Yorker is entirely banal and commonplace. This is because first off, the writing reduces everything to a level of coffee table-, or at most coffee shop-banality; and, secondly, the intended readership is the readership of the self-minded, and self-appointed intellectual guardianship of the bourgeoisie, whose lifelong performance of book-and-magazine reading complements and likewise fulfills the living definition—both urban and suburban—of being the very working expression of that banality.) Alexievich simply interviewed people whose life experiences from Chernobyl to Afghanistan, are absolutely true and unimaginable, and copied out longhand, I read, these interviews, and turned them into books.

Some people in Russia, where Alexievich has lived in a tiny two room apartment much of her life for years, don’t say she’s even a writer. Others say she’s invented a new literary form. I probably remember the day John Lennon died because it’s the same day my father had been born, and I remember that, and they had happened to come together. So, for me they were fused, the way realistic irony makes that happen sometimes, not because I have a particular memory for those kinds of things, or a sense of memorabilia for the Beatles. I remember in college a professor of mine had said to me offhandedly one day once that the only place left that people felt terror in their lives anymore was in their dreams. All this, like a fairy dancing on the head of a pin, had also made me think of that, it struck me.

Walking On The Moon

How property rights in outer space may lead to a scramble to exploit the moon’s resources

pinhole universe

Even the Moon is no longer safe. The foot of mankind is everywhere. The quest for future ownership does not abate. Digging and scratching, we lay waste not just our world, but another. One more plot of land, one more survey to complete, one more war.

Here on Earth we are no longer safe. Ice caps melt. Plastic islands bestir the seas. Cities crumble. Infections spread. As if it matters, some distinguish between these as cycles caused by Nature herself, or Us ourselves.

The painted bench I sat on labeled “Wet Paint” did not ignore me, nor did it invite my body. It was apart from me, as I was apart from it. And when I rose from my cartoon folly, we were both a little bit a part now of each other.

The desire for minerals in Outer Space somehow exceeds the call for groundwater here on this planet. The yearning to find life elsewhere, too, seems to excite possibility beyond life being right here.

Dumbbells get up, left or right, and say whatever slogans and mottos they feel and have been instructed to utter behind wooden podiums will advertise themselves best in the most popular way, hoping to sell themselves as the sweetest slice of apple pie to the stymied American electorate.

Others out of circuit are free to blow our little systems to smithereens. It is not the rebellion from time to time anyone asked for, or could ever conceive. It is rather queer how these folk are labeled masterminds, which formerly had been the province of fictional folk like Sherlock Holmes, and honorable military commanders, not villains.

Why not blow apart the Moon instead? Why not unhinge the rings of Saturn? Were we to find life on our specious sister planet Mars, we would claim, register, patent, and copyright it. Any legal means would be enacted to possess and carve it up like a gigantic turkey farm.

Seas rise. Volcanoes spew blinding ash. Plates shift. The noble idea of being the trustee of the people rather than the immediate agent is gone. Nobody who is anybody alive can be permitted to care beyond an expiration date one day after the numbers branded on the lip of a carton of milk in any refrigerator anymore.

It is rather sad to see our DNA being its own sword in this lifetime alone. Some defect in our nature, I suppose, unapologetic and a bit obtuse. I’d like to blame it on Michael Faraday, Isaac Newton, or Albert Einstein, but don’t.

I’d like to banish from my mind the impulse to self-destruction; I’d like to pin blame on quickened religion, or the avarice of technological progress, but can’t. Instead, I slump back, lay my antiquated pith helmet to its side, and meekly admit the horror that it’s just us.

Our vanity for immortality, for life to be everlasting, this self-minded trip, a dystopian drive par excellence, has been our undoing, whichever be our political or theological party or faction. Mindig ugyanaz. It is all the same. And that’s the wry paradox—must take my leave now, dismissing far more important issues that bedew the Earth for a toasted bagel, a schmear of cream cheese, and several fine slices of Nova Scotia salmon.