March 14, 2010 archive

Marx’s Capital and the Cult of Money

LaFeminista’s most recent diary over at points to the presence of cults in America, of which Scientology is one.  You look at those videos, and wonder why people would believe and say and do such stuff, and then you’re reminded of the cultists who run the Texas Board of Education… but, really, there’s one big cult, into which all of the other cults feed — the Cult of Money.  This diary will examine said cult through Chapter 4 of Marx’s Capital and then suggest deprogramming measures.

(crossposted at Orange)

Biden: “This is starting to get dangerous for us”

(background: VP Biden visited Israel, Israel announces they’re building 1600 new apartments in occupied territory near Jerusalem.)

Read this and think:

H/T to Spencer Ackerman at Lake of the Fire Dogs, who pulled up the link friday:


“People who heard what Biden said [to Israeli officials behind closed doors] were stunned,” the centrist Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported. “‘This is starting to get dangerous for us,’ Biden castigated his interlocutors. ‘What you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us, and it endangers regional peace.'”

“In language that could only have been finalized shortly before he delivered the speech, Biden reiterated that it was Israel’s perceived breach of trust that had been so galling – at a time, with the fragile proximity talks just getting under way, when trust was at a premium,” Jerusalem Post editorialist David Horovitz wrote Thursday.



Today Secretary Clinton got in the act. Netanyahu is an obstructionist and it’s good to see the Obama administration remind Israelis that its interests are not abstract things. The truth is it’s not “starting” to get dangerous for us.

My friend Daniel Levy has forgotten more about Israeli politics than I’ll know and he writes that Netanyahu may be the last best hope for the two-state solution. For the life of me I just don’t understand the logic. As best as I can understand, Daniel believes Netanyahu’s obstructionism, combined with statebuilding efforts from Salam Fayyad in the West bank, will strengthen international support for… what? Imposing a solution on Israel?

Catch the commenter #8 on March 14th 2010 at 11:09 am, at FDL

Roll out the sternly worded speeches.

Did Biden really say the U.S. troops are fighting in Pakistan? And there weren’t headlines on that?

“undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Aye yup.  When one pits one Muslim country after another, against another non Muslim country, one who is already small in size but mighty in power, with a history of justified paranoia because of World War II,  it can get dangerous for the perpetrator.   But who ever thought it would be ….  us ?

Think, Joe.  Are not we better than this ?

It gets dangerous for everybody.

More progressive geniuses blame Kucinich

Seriously.  Health care reform is Dennis Kucinich’s fucking fault.  It has nothing to do with Obama, Durbin, and Pelosi.  Don’tcha know.

Barack Obama says he supports a public option but claims there aren’t 51 votes in the Senate to pass it in reconciliation. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin says he would aggressively whip the 51 votes for the public option if Nancy Pelosi would send him a House reconciliation bill that includes a public option. Nancy Pelosi says she won’t include a public option in House reconciliation bill because there aren’t enough votes in the Senate to pass it. It’s looking more and more like a game of 3-Card Monty.

Damn you, Dennis!

Meanwhile, Edward Harrison is harshing my “green shoots” buzz:

This past week’s posts marked a turn for me on a few levels. It is apparent that most market reform efforts are mere tweaks of the existing system. I am being to conclude that no meaningful financial reform can occur absent an absolute collapse in the global economy and the financial system.

I wish Dennis Kucinich would knock this bullshit off and just reform the financial system.

And while he’s at it, Dennis Kucinich should stop making the rest of our ruling elites fail miserably.

In the past decade, nearly every pillar institution in American society – whether it’s General Motors, Congress, Wall Street, Major League Baseball, the Catholic Church or the mainstream media – has revealed itself to be corrupt, incompetent or both. And at the root of these failures are the people who run these institutions, the bright and industrious minds who occupy the commanding heights of our meritocratic order. In exchange for their power, status and remuneration, they are supposed to make sure everything operates smoothly. But after a cascade of scandals and catastrophes, that implicit social contract lies in ruins, replaced by mass skepticism, contempt and disillusionment.

In the wake of the implosion of nearly all sources of American authority, this new decade will have to be about reforming our institutions to reconstitute a more reliable and democratic form of authority. Scholarly research shows a firm correlation between strong institutions, accountable élites and highly functional economies; mistrust and corruption, meanwhile, feed each other in a vicious circle. If our current crisis continues, we risk a long, ugly process of de-development: higher levels of corruption and tax evasion and an increasingly fractured public sphere, in which both public consensus and reform become all but impossible.

Oh, and one more thing, Dennis: Could you please, please, please stop Ralph Nader from stealing our elections?

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Tens of thousands rally against Thai govt

by Thanaporn Promyamyai, AFP

Sun Mar 14, 11:25 am ET

BANGKOK (AFP) – Anti-government demonstrators vowed Sunday to march on military barracks housing Thailand’s top leaders as their icon, deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra, urged them from exile not to give up.

The red-clad protesters — assembled amid tight security in public spaces near government offices in Bangkok — have vowed to step up their campaign if the government does not dissolve parliament within 24 hours.

“We will leave here to listen to the government’s answer at the 11th Infantry Unit,” Red Shirt leader Nattawut Saikuar told reporters. “If they fail to answer our demands we will announce our next step.”

Lady Gaga and Emergent Feminism

In these days of musical famine, where the industry responsible for bringing new talent to the forefront is very much still hemorrhaging money left and right, the latest buzz frequently focuses on Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, better known by her stage name, Lady Gaga.  But, as often is the case, Lady Gaga’s politics and provocative behavior frequently overshadow the songcraft and the melody.  Her videos and stage act are sexually subversive and highly controversial affairs, focusing in particular on willfully flipping gender roles and gendered assumptions upside down.  She has spoken out vocally on behalf of LGBT rights and is herself openly bisexual, though she has since expressed regret at the admission, stating that she recognizes that the confession might have been perceived purely as a means of attaining cheap attention.  When the stigma of being out for much of the community is still a liability rather than an asset, Lady Gaga did not want to be seen as another bisexual-for-headlines celebrity.  

Meanwhile, young Feminists are often lumped together into a catch-all umbrella term known as the Third Wave, a construct that satisfies no one and yet has to suffice since no one can think of anything better.  It’s an unsatisfying qualifier at best, but does nonetheless capture the general sympathies of Generation X and Generation Y women’s rights activists.  Though its mere existence remains frustratingly lodged under the radar of many people, just as invisible and unknown as the broad extent of its stated agenda, it lives and thrives for those who have tapped into it.  Those committed deeply to its continued health recognize the challenges at play, the sort that keep it in line with a niche interest group rather than a fully integrated part of the discussion.  So this is why that a movement desperate to find a point-to spokesperson for its causes has adopted Lady Gaga, even when the woman in question has bristled and hedged a bit at adopting the label for herself.  Any organization or movement looking for increased visibility and instant identification in the wider world often seeks a celebrity or highly public figure to call its own and so it is with the Third Wave’s courting of Gaga.

Feministing and Feministe, two of the largest, most established, and longest running feminist blogs routinely feature the output of or miscellaneous content pertaining to Lady Gaga.  One can be sure that the instant the latest video is posted, Gaga’s most recent interview is published, or some snippet of criticism finds its way into the public consciousness that it will quickly appear on the front page of the bigger sites.  After being posted, the participation and interest level among readers and regular contributors will very noticeably spike.  The purely sensationalist aspect of Lady Gaga’s public persona is, of course, to be attributed to much of this massive fascination, but to reduce her to merely a provocateur would be an unfair characterization.  She does have quite a bit to say, though how she says it can easily be confused with or sometimes even muted by her means of presentation.

Survey Third Wave communities and one descriptive phrase keeps coming up over and over again regarding Lady Gaga—badass.  In such spaces, no higher compliment could ever be paid than that.  When so many women feel that their voices are routinely stifled or that they’ve been conditioned to stay silent while men talk first and act first, young feminists understandably find something courageous and enviable about women, particularly women their own age, who force the world to accept them on their own terms.  Furthermore, Lady Gaga’s music videos in particular have directly, though a bit clumsily at times, taken on questions of same-sex attraction between women and done so in terms that are far closer to the way it actually exists in reality.  The pure fantasy and grotesque parody of lesbianism, itself a construct clearly adopted by men, is at least pushed to the background of her work rather than set forth as the truth.  

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Lady Gaga has recently been the subject of wild, unsubstantiated, often internet-driven speculation as to whether or not she is really a hermaphrodite.  In her latest video, entitled “Telephone”, she has seemingly put that rumor to rest, so to speak, though I would be shocked if others just as bizarre and scurrilous were not to follow.  Feminist communities in the Third Wave have deliberately made room to incorporate queer voices into the discussion, so Gaga’s let-it-all-hang-out style resonates well with a group eager to dissect and deconstruct homophobic and sexist attitudes as a means of properly dispensing with the bigotry in an attempt to get at the truth underneath.

Still, Lady Gaga’s output, be it as a recording artist or as an activist isn’t a complete, satisfying fit with Feminism.  Her entire shtick, be it her music or her music videos, traverse the same basic ground as many others who have come before her.  I find what she stands for much more interesting and original than the music itself, which is rather derivative to these ears.  I suppose as well that I have a different attitude regarding the objectification of the female form.  Far from a prude, I still believe that while it might seem empowering for a woman to make a conscious decision to show off skin for whatever reason, rather than have that decision be forced upon her, the ultimate end is the same.  

Gaga’s latest video finds her in some version or another of undress, and regardless of the intentions, only a very few will be in on the gag.  The average viewer is bound to notice the titillation and miss the commentary.  While the obvious statement set forth does speak to the idea that women ought not be subject to nearly constant scrutiny regarding their own sexuality in ways that a man never would be, I’m not sure a brash response, one in effect throwing the sexist assumption back in the faces of those who hold it is the best strategy ever devised.    

Still, like my fellow feminists, I can’t fault her for her intentions.  Rather than lower the boom, I’d rather state that I appreciate anyone who is willing to risk being misunderstood.  As I age I find myself increasingly disinclined to split hairs.  After all, we come to a greater understanding in our own time, and each of us rests somewhere along that great continuum.  Learning continues forever, as does development.  Few of us fit neatly into the exacting parameters of any movement, and our unique humanity may be the reason why.  Though we ourselves would never appreciate anyone who put us in a confining and vastly limiting box, we are often frustrated when our heroes can’t manage the same trick.  We may need to understand that there’s a certain fluidity with labels just as surely as there is with human sexuality and gender.  The same goes with feminists, Lady Gaga, as well as you and me.

Open Facts vs Open Fiction

There was no “worldwide consensus”


An Update on the Debt Commission

Republicans have now named Sen. Judd Gregg (New Hampshire), Senator Tom Coburn (Oklahoma), Senator Mike Crapo (Idaho) – in the House Rep. Paul Ryan (Wisconsin), Rep. Jeb Hensarling (Texas), Rep. Dave Camp (Michigan)

joining these Democrats named by Harry Reid:

Sen. Richard Durbin (Illinois), Sen. Kent Conrad (North Dakota), Sen. Max Baucus (Montana)

President Obama named David Cote (a Republican), CEO of Honeywell International, Alice Rivlin who was budget director under President Bill Clinton and now at Brookings Institute.

President Obama also named: Ann Fudge a CEO of Young & Rubicam Brands and a force behind Brand Obama in the election, Andrew Stern, SEIU head, Erskine Bowles who started his career at Morgan Stanley and later founded an investment banking firm.  He is now president of University of North Carolina.  Also named is

Alan Simpson (Wyoming) who was the No. 2 Republican in the Senate for a decade.

This commission has a strong conservative flavor – save for Illinois – the Senate and former Senate appointees come from conservative/moderate lesser populated states.

Let’s focus on Kent Conrad for instance.

He is one of five members of the Senate who threatened Speaker Pelosi to hand over power to an independent commission that can slash and privatize SS and Medicare.  Or they would allow the US to default on its debt.  

His website is absolutely swoony about SS and Medicare.  The one in five South Dakotans who are on SS must be impressed with the lies on that page.  I certainly was.

Conrad voted NO on establishing reserve funds and prefunding for SS

which would require that the Fund be used only to finance retirement income of future beneficiaries

ensure that there is no change to benefits for individuals born before January 1, 1951

The War Profiteers, Their Blood Wealth!

And the Reason for War, especially of Choice!!

Growing findings of Huge War Profiteering for their Blood Money on the Sacrifices of our Soldiers and their Families!!

I Brought Her Over. I Had to do so. 20100314

We are very misunderstood.  We can not fly.  That would violate the principles of physics.  We can not vanish, for the same reasons, and our reflections actually do appear in mirrors.

We are quite a bit stronger than most humans, but it is with at a cost.  Oh, the stake in the heart is no more fatal to us than it is to humans, but that is pretty much uniformly fatal.  Our similarities are much greater than our differences, but there are a couple or three big differences.

Docudharma Times Sunday March 14

Sunday’s Headlines:

Korea OLEV concept vehicle sees the future, and it’s magnets

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do


In Hard Times, Lured Into Trade School and Debt

At Afghan outpost, Marines gone rogue or leading the fight against counterinsurgency?


Vatican denounces attempts to draw Pope into scandal

Bogus TV report of Russian invasion panics Georgia

Middle East

Jail ordeal of hundreds of Palestinian children arrested for throwing stones

Iran arrests 30 accused of U.S.-backed cyber war


Taliban kill at least 30 in Kandahar

Thai protesters converge on Bangkok


Reporting on Nigerian massacre deaths seems to have hit a religious divide

Latin America

Unemployment among Latin America youths fuels ‘lost generation’

Bahrain GP

Well, the start of the Formula One season is here.

I’m no expert, but I have to watch the races so I have something to talk about with Richard, my Dad, who even watches Turn Left Racing (NASCAR) if nothing else is available.

Me?  I like Figure Eight in School Buses or with Trailers.

Flaming Chunks of Twisted Metal!

Blue Green Oregon

“Oregon is a very poor state with the 2nd highest unemployment in the coutry,” said the man I met at the Explosible Man’s demo.  Most of the state – my part of the state, it seemed was filled with ignorant wingers.  Only Portland and surroundings was blue territory.

The Explosible Man, Dr. James McNight, was demoing and providing lectures on a fantastical new green energy taking dead center aim at the lethal fossil fuel, natural gas, pushed most persuasively by supereme con artist T. Boone Pickens to easy marks like Nancy Pelosi.  Nancy has decreed that natural gas is not a fossil fuel.  She has made a hefty investment in Pickens’ wonderfully named “Clean Energy” that would convert vehicles to natural gas fueling while Boone is monopolizing an even more important liquid, water.

I have written up the magical explosible powders in the Orange Satan to the usual raging apathy for true green:…

When I took my then fiance from Portland to the Oregon Outback where I had lived and have not for over half a century, I got lost trying to find the house where I had lived the first years of my life. The house had long ago burned down and the road was no more.

We stood on a hill in waist high sagebrush overlooking a large swath of Warner Valley.  A buzzard or two circled lazily overhead and a jackrabbit scampered across the desert floor now and then.  There was not another sign of life or human habitation except a gravel road that could be seen crossing the desert.

“We lived on the other side of the draw,” I told my beloved.

She was silent for a bit with the wonder of it all.  “You lived here?” she finally managed.

Well yes.   Lived rather well even though we had no electricity.  

Got water from a hot spring.  The water was atrocious but it was at least wet.  If we had known how to use it, we could have warmed the house with it instead of using wood.

We were actually looking at a monumental ecological disaster, a monstrous crime against nature that eventually chased nearly all the Democrats of old out of the valley.…

The Crump Geyser, drilled by the invincible prophet of geothermal power had already become a mud puddle.

Now, a half century later, the Crump Geyser and perhaps the Hallinan Hot Spring, will be developed.  The geese are back.  In our “big city” [population ~2,000), Lakeview and smaller towns have Goose Lake back.  A small wood-burning power plant may rejuvenate an area long ago logged out.  In the Basque country of Harney County, a huge wind farm is being born.  On the coast, America’s first wave farm is under construction.

The state long ago went blue and now is the greenest state of them all, even in the Outback where once life was nearly as hard to detect as on Mars.

This country bumpkin long resident in the backward wilds of Upstate New York is thrilled for Blue Green Oregon.

Best,  Terry

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