Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Semi-Open Thread Saturday: What is on Your Mind? What are Some Matters of Public (or Private) Concern That We Failed to Discuss This Week?

It is a beautiful day here in Chicago. I am going to spend most of my time at the Blues Festival where I will be listening to some great music and doing some even more interesting people watching. I love seeking out the old brothers who are drinking some "erk and jerk" (what sophisticates and connoisseurs call E&J brandy) out of a paper bag, sharing it with passersby out of plastic cups, and singing off-key to the music.

I would like to thank the nice folks over at Crooks and Liars for picking up one of my pieces on the Right-wing propaganda machine. Good stuff. Very much appreciated.

As is our weekend habit, do treat this as a semi-open thread. What are some news items, events, happenings (global; national; personal), or observations that you would like to share?

Getting the ball rolling...

The events in Iraq continue to mesmerize the talking heads and commentariat class. As a low-level to mid-tier grognard, the feigned impotence of the United States military versus ISIS, is curious to me. The United States military could certainly choose to intervene and do great damage to the Mad Max style army that is rampaging across the country. And of course, the United States has embedded assets in-country. Their likely verdict? The Iraq situation is a shit show highly dynamic, so why waste the resources on a lost cause. But, there is some truth to how a military built (despite a decade of counter-insurgency experience in Iraq and Afghanistan) to fight another similarly organized and configured force would be "challenged" in taking down ISIS.

In all, the Pentagon briefing on the U.S. military's options, and the accompanying CNN piece, reminds me of the early days of MMA in the United States. Styles make fights; some styles are not compatible; a clash of styles can still make for a mighty entertaining fight.

I also saw the great movie The Signal. I followed it up with 22 Jump Street. The latter movie is too damn fun and smart, much more, than it has any right to be. The trailers for The Drop and A Walk Among the Tombstones look great.

The Drop is based on a great short story by one of my favorite writers, Dennis Lehane. A Walk Among the Tombstones is inspired by a novel from a long-running detective series that I will now have to read.

There is apparently new research which suggests that early humans developed speech by listening to birds and monkeys communicate. This leads me to a basic question: what dialect of speech are some of the young people and others who ride the bus here in Chicago speaking? I swear, there are times where I know that some of the ghetto underclass denizens are speaking English, but for the life of me, I am not able to comprehend what the heck they are saying. Am I alone in how vexed I am during those moments?


kokanee said...

I'm a blues man myself. ;)

Watching the World Cup. I find myself cheering for the African teams. Is that wrong?

Since you guys last heard from me, I joined the ACLU and NAACP simultaneously. If the donation bowl is still $50 short, I'll pledge that. My favorite way to make payments online, WePay, stopped doing individual payments. Website payments only.

Conservative propaganda is directly contributions to these crazy mass shootings: Obama is a socialist. Obama is going to take away our guns. Obama is threatening our liberty. etc.

Still looking for my own revolution...

chauncey devega said...

What blues groups or artists do you like? You have been busy. Things going well? What adventures have you had?

I will post it here on site tomorrow, but here is a link to my appearance on Ring of Fire Radio where I talk about that very matter.

kokanee said...

I like the old greats: B. B. King, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, etc. but, admittedly, my main influence has been "The Doors":

"Well, I'm an old blues man
And I think that you understand
I've been singing the blues
Ever since the world began."

I watched/listened to your Ring of Fire interview. You did great, of course. My two thoughts:

1) Mike Papantonio calls the Tea Partiers the low hanging fruit of the Republican Party. That's false. The long hanging fruit/ foot soldiers are the religious right who are in an alliance with the Tea Partiers. On the The Tea Partiers:
"Though the various polls sometimes turn up slightly different results, they tend to show that Tea Party supporters tend more likely than Americans overall to be white, male, married, older than 45, regularly attending religious services, conservative, and to be more wealthy and have more education." --

2) Illegitimacy of the US government. Many of us on the left think the US government is illegitimate also. A recent Princeton/Northwestern study on the state of democracy in the US showed that popular opinion has virtually zero influence on the Federal government whereas special interest groups and moneyed interest did. The conclusion was that the US is not a democracy or a republic but an oligarchy or a plutocracy.

Aside: No one gives the Republican Party more legitimacy than the Democratic Party who routinely compromise, capitulate and placate the Republicans. You are correct that dysfunction in Congress benefits the plutocrats (as well as hurts democracy). Heads the Republicans win. Tails the Democrats lose.

And then there's Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century which concluded that inequality is build into capitalism. Things don't look good for the working class and disfranchised groups.

Yes, I've been busy...

The Crack Emcee said...

I've been kicking Wisconsin's Scott Walker for a while now and The New Republic finally joined me.

Shady Grady said...

Game of Thrones Season 4 concludes tonight.

The events in Iraq are an excellent example of why sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don't.

Since Vietnam, really since Korea, has the US military won many victories against even mid tier opponents? Eventually the US will go home, unless as Crazy McCain intimated we want to put permanent bases and troops in Iraq akin to Germany and Japan. Sometimes the wisest move is to do nothing. The US killed over a million Iraqis because of George Bush's Daddy issues and chickenhawk neo-con fantasies of being baaaaaaaaaaaad men. At this point it would be fair to ask those who say we must DO something if we haven't done enough already.

Blues is truth.

Myshkin the Idiot said...

I like the blues. Elmore James, Son House, Reverend Gary Davis, Lightnin Hopkins, Bessie Smith, Lead Belly

My back is getting better. I need a job. My inlaws are taking us on a vacation next week, so I guess I need to wait until afterward to seek that out. We're going to the beach and it'll be my 2 year old's first trip to the ocean. He just flushed a toy pig down the toilet.

My stupid white trash junky neighbors are hanging a nazi and SS flag next to their old confederate flag outside of their house. The woman inherited the house from her parents, so their living there basically with no rent. They're probably in their 40's.

The flags are new and I'm wondering if they went to some rally or convention or something. It made my heart leap when I saw them. I hope they get some sense and put that trash inside. The confederate flag has always been there. Until now I chalked it up to myopia. Maybe some other folks who have Confederate flag license plates and whatever else will see them there and think twice about their own (yea right).

I'm not comfortable even looking at them anymore, not that I was before.

White underclass folks are often barely intelligible. It's as if their speech and vocabulary haven't changed since they were four years old. Seriously, they are drinking, smoking, and sexing adult toddlers.

chauncey devega said...

Some good taste w. your music. Put together a play list to share here on WARN. Tell us about your neighbors. Are they walking caricatures? Can you complain to the police or local zoning board about those flags?

"Seriously, they are drinking, smoking, and sexing adult toddlers."

Black and white troglodyte rednecks. Maybe Sowell and Murray were right.

chauncey devega said...

"Since Vietnam, really since Korea, has the US military won many victories against even mid tier opponents?"

That is actually a question that can be answered. Maybe folks will offer up a win-loss list.

chauncey devega said...

The tea party is far more dangerous than many understand. Your points there are spot on. I need to read Piketty's book. What are your thoughts on it?

I am glad to see you are back. Your voice is always welcome.

D. Wright said...

We had a cookout with the extended family for Father's Day weekend. The conversation topics ranged from Malcolm X and Black Consciousness, to Gentrification, School and Real Estate discrimination, to the ethics of corporal punishment.

The planet is rebelling against our reckless consumption. The oceans are too warm, acidic, and if I recall, anoxic to support marine life as we know it. We're in the midst of an extinction event we may not survive, and the powers that be want nothing more than to ride the world to oblivion.

Have you seen the trailers for Assassin's Creed Unity yet? It takes place during the chaos of the French Revolution, which is quite apt given the political climate and class conflict in the age of austerity. You think we'll witness another Reign of Terror?

Myshkin the Idiot said...

I think I said early on here that black and white Americans have much more in common than many of them probably know or would like to admit. Stereotyping is a powerful force, but you have black people low (lowest?) on the totem pole of American prejudice.

If you haven't, read The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860-1935. From reading on wikipedia, Sowell argues that black people educated in a New England school model excel Southern whites in knowledge.

White Southerners typically had little to no interest in education beyond basic reading and math skills, if that. I can testify that sentiment largely exists today, though parents often express a desire for their kids to be educated (not too educated though, and certainly not about racism) but also resent the education system (anti-government).

Alexis de Tocqueville in the 1930's observed that the presence of slavery of black people caused "all those who are not black... [to] consider themselves privileged beings; and likewise that colour is a veritable nobility in this country."

"all those who are not black"

This is what I consider real entitlement culture in America, the belief that you are superior to others for whatever reason; white, wealthy, you "work hard", or you simply have no regard for others or your own life. I think I would disagree that "government" is the sole reason for this and I would say it is rather a deep cultural pathology of entitlement, a colonial/imperial attitude.

Myshkin the Idiot said...

I forgot to answer about the neighbors specifically.

They are rough caricatures. Somewhat emaciated, stringy hair. I remember last year as soon as the weather was above 55, the guy was walking by without a shirt on. Rednecks without shirts on, it's like a jersey. He has a homemade tattoo of a Confederate flag on his back. They were timely in their habits and loud.

It kind of pisses me off how much white people go around with very little clothes on considering for roughly 400 years on this continent being with little clothes was a sign of "savagery." Just one of those modern contradictions.

I don't think I can complain to anyone. There is no town council or organization, freedom of speech/freedom to hate. There are a few poc in the area, some with families. It makes me wonder if they'll be inviting other white supremacist neo nazi's over to their place.

The county is 90% white, I think this town is too and votes Republican in every election. Free to create their own myth about POC because they don't know any.

joe manning said...

Phillip Bobbit's Terror and Consent holds that all human rights should be sacrificed so that the police state can fight terrorism. Conservatives frequently quote it and I consider it required reading.

James Estrada-Scaminaci III said...

There is a vast difference between how the Left and Right view the federal government. The Right, which includes the Christian Right, Patriot sphere and militia, the Tea Party, and the white supremacist movement view the government as illegitimate because it has been taken over by, choose your poison, communists, socialists, fascists, Nazis, liberals, agents of Satan, Satan, Jews--all for the benefit of people of color--and all at the expense of white males conservative fundamentalist Christians who by virtue of culture or biology should be at the top of the political, economic, and social heap. Moreover, the broad right-wing advances the notion that the Constitution as we commonly understand it, is wrong. To wit, there is no separation of church and state in the Constitution; the Ten Commandments are the basis of the Constitution, etc etc.

The Left, by contrast, believes specific tax and monetary policies, specific laws and policies related to surveillance, Supreme Court decisions on corporate personhood and money as speech, (in other words specific laws, regulations, decisions in various public policy areas) are undermining the Constitution. The Constitution itself is not rejected by the Left. SCOTUS interpretations that undermine what we believe to be a document promoting pluralism, individual civil liberties, and civil rights are at fault, while we uphold the Constitution.

The Left does not believe the federal government is illegitimate. How on earth can one support a single-payer universal health care system and believe the federal government is illegitimate?

On the other hand, if you think the federal government is the enemy of all that is good in America and that only a corporate-dominated free market economy with no taxes for the top one percent and no regulations and no resort to the courts by those killed or sickened by corporate behaviors suits your ideal of the great society, then the federal government is illegitimate.

kokanee said...

It's not that I think government is bad. Government is a necessary evil. In an ideal world, corporations would be accountable to government and government would be accountable to the people. Note that it is now completely reversed: corporations have power over the government and the government has power over the people.
There is a campaign that calls the legitimacy of the government into question in that it doesn't have the consent of the government:

chauncey devega said...

Sounds like a good family salon. Be careful though could easily result in someone getting stabbed in the eye with a pork rib :) Malcolm would not be pleased.

chauncey devega said...

I am embarrassed to say I have not read it. Adding to list.

kokanee said...

I actually never left...just silent. Back issues (sitting), disqus issues (don't like the improvements - esp. for mobile), time issues.

re: Capital in the 21st C.

I haven't read the book but Thomas Piketty looked at the 400 years of capitalism that succeeded feudalism. What he found that is that the rate of return of capital (r) was almost always greater than the rate of growth of the economy (g). What this means is that the wealth of the money holders grew exponentially taking a larger and larger share of the income creating economic (wealth and income) inequality. He concluded that economic inequality is built into capitalism. Piketty's solution is to have a worldwide tax on wealth.

I think taxing ill gotten gains doesn't address the problem of stopping ill gotten gains from occurring in the first place. Thomas Frank (not my favorite) got the right solution: "Allow workers to organize."

In economics, as corporations get larger, they get less efficient, become less adaptable to change and generally die. There's an industry life cycle: birth, growth, maturity, decline, death. The average lifespan of a company seems to be dropping steadily from I think 70 years to 15 now.

One more thing about "Capital." We're about to enter a new phase in the US of inherited wealth or "patrimonial capitalism." The days of self-made millionaires and billionaires are over. It really kills the job creators meme.