Wednesday, October 28, 2015

OUT OF THE BOX


Donald Trump and Ben Carson have supporters in measurable numbers which would not have been predicted prior to their entry into the Presidential contest for election in 2016. Blaring Trump and brooding Carson have both lapsed into barking-mad territory. Trump's narcissistic megalomania trumps Carson's by a mile, but they are both getting attention for another reason as well. They have both been able to voice opinions on national policy which are out of the current propagandized box of political correctness. They have become voices of opposition to conformist mediocrity.

This has its value, whether or not you would trust either of them with a red button attached to nukes. The Democrats have offered us Hilary Clinton in big capital letters. They have made over the Clinton legacy. I was around for the reality. It wasn't that great: NAFTA, Don't Ask Don't Tell, failed health care reform and Fellatio-gate. Bill Clinton was the poster boy for corporate globalization and the New World Order of corporate capitalism. And Hilary does indeed carry the banner of that legacy shamelessly, despite playing quasi-handmaiden to our first multi-racial President as Secretary of Status Quo.

The Clintons are friends of the Bushes, Henry Kissinger and other aristocrats, whose legacies are equally specious. They built a non-profit gold mine for themselves under the guise of rehabilitating Harlem. They are capitalists to the core, and therefore no true friends of The Left. They frolic in the shark-infested waters of Wall-Street Manhattan with ease and provenance. Their former economic advisers, with the notable exception of Robert Reich, merrily rode the horses of the 2008 financial apocalypse along with George Bush's buds. 

So, if you consider yourself Left-of-Center, think twice before getting all gooey over Hilary as the potential first female POTUS. You may want to actually read Bernie Sanders' positions, for example. You may be getting the same box of mediocre progress which you have received during the Obama administration: Mediocre health reform, no final withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, no significant banking reform, further deterioration of the middle class, no significant corporate tax reform. Gays in bridal gowns and military uniforms aside, that box is still packed and delivered by monsters like Amazon, our new corporate masters. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

CORRUPTION


One of my neighbors is running for the Boston City Council. Annissa George is the wife of a major property developer. She and her husband own many investment properties in the city. They are building more and more, some sold as condominium at very high prices. This recent revelation was made in local newspapers about their overdue property tax bills. 

Annissa has her gaudy fuschia signs all over the neighborhood. Her name in bold black letters. She also owns a local yarn store, Stitch House. In fact, she and her husband have incorporated under the name Stitch House Real Estate, L.L.C.. It is notable that L.L.C. stands for "limited liability corporation". It doesn't take much to figure out what that means in terms of business practices and liability.

Anissa tried to get into office two years ago. She did not get elected. I found that surprising and rather reassuring. I have nothing personal against her or her husband. I just don't think absentee landlords on their scale belong in city government, which is expected to oversee and regulate the likes of the Georges. 

The Georges own a rental unit in a rundown condominium building which borders my property. When I wanted to trim the huge tree which sits in their yard and threatened to consume my house, I sent the Georges a certified letter, along with the other unit-owners behind me. It had a return address on it. My address is one street over from their own large house. Their letter came back to me long after the tree was trimmed. The letter was unopened and stamped "could not be delivered" by the post office. In other words, despite multiple attempts, the post office gave up trying to deliver the letter because the Georges would not sign for it.  It made me question what the Georges are afraid of? Or are they too busy to deal with a simple issue with a neighbor?

The best way for me as a voter to combat corruption in local government is to vote for candidates who inspire trust in their ethics. I am not impressed by the behavior of Annissa George as a neighbor. Therefore, I would not be prone to entrust her with the affairs of my neighborhood or my city. 


Saturday, October 24, 2015

A.C.L.U.


I stopped paying for a membership to the ACLU some years ago when their CEO was accused of corruption for padding his salary and benefits. Since then, I have never regretted that choice. 

The latest ACLU misuse of donations has been its push against aggressive panhandling ordinances. Several such ordinances have been nixed by a federal court due to ACLU challenges. The ordinance in Lowell, Massachusetts was just ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge, who is following a Supreme Court ruling against abortion clinic buffer zones. You know, those safety zones which keep the potential religious assassins away from the doors of abortion clinics. Our largely Roman Catholic Supreme Court doesn't like those. 

That's right. The same people who want to see women harassed at abortion clinics have opened the door for you to be harassed by anyone on a public street without you having the option of calling the police. Thanks, ACLU. You must be making those rich armchair Liberals very proud in their invulnerable SUV's as they ride around their economically gated communities. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

MUDDLED


Modern discourse has become muddled by the lowering of semantic standards by corporate media in response to social-media populism. Major commercial media outlets, desperate for paying customers, appear to be following the lead of social media (e.g. Twitter), rather than seeking to lead the way to intelligent coverage and commentary.

Here are a couple of examples. 

"Equal" has come to mean "equivalent" or "same". This is a distortion of the democratic notion that all people are "created equal". The use of the word "equal" in that legislative context refers to an ideal appraisal of all human beings as having the same civil rights to peace, justice and pursuit of prosperity. It does not mean that all people are born the same, with equal abilities and intelligence. Deeming all human beings to be "equal" in this sense diminishes society by reducing its standards to lowest common denominator.

"Multiculturalism" is not the same as "diversity". "Diversity" simply refers to a random distribution of various entities or items which are somehow different in a given sample. It does not automatically refer to race or ethnicity. It does not automatically refer to people, for that matter. "Multiculturalism" is the appreciation, investigation, experience and/or promotion of many cultures. It is not a synonym for "diversity". In actual fact, multiculturalism exists more strongly as a community buzzword in some of the least diverse communities of higher socioeconomic levels. 

The muddling of words in social discourse, especially within on line message boards (Facebook, Twitter) is making society intellectually duller. The comments under a posted video or picture have grown shorter, terser and more homogeneous: "Nice", "wow", "cool". In fact, it is more time-saving to simply click a "like" or thumbs-up icon. WE are managing to treat ourselves in social media like the spoiled children of parents who congratulate their offspring for narcissistic or antisocial behavior. 


Monday, October 12, 2015

ONE TRUE GOD

Indian slum.

There is one true god which drives all humanity. That god is survival. 

Those who are religious subscribe to ancient systems which evolved to explain (or control) consciousness and its relation to physical reality. The afterlife, a belief of most religions, is an extension of human consciousness beyond physical survival. It has been a major motivator for people to accept and follow beliefs which often contradict rational thought, practicality or progress. Survival, even after it is impossible, reigns supreme as a human goal. 

Human beings whose brains/bodies are programmed genetically to reproduce do so with a belief that they will survive their individual deaths in the lives of their replicates (children). This is so deeply planted in that form of human consciousness that some of the brightest scientists and philosophers will trot this concept out in debate. Their educated minds must be aware that biological death entails the death of brain activity and consciousness, yet their need to believe in the god of survival persists and overrides. 

The current irrationality of the response of many European leaders to a migrant invasion has paralyzed that continent's actions for its citizens' own interests. Why? Because identification with the prime directive of survival among the migrants automatically overrides the rationality which has defined European prosperity. 

The extreme pro-life philosophy of many religious people is a perverted form of survival worship. Identifying with a cluster of cells has driven some of these people to assassinate educated and compassionate physicians. The obvious impact of human overpopulation is invisible to them. They cannot see past their obsession with survival as a prime directive of existence. 

So, how far have we evolved as a species, if survival still trumps quality of life? How far can we continue to evolve as a species if unintentional reproduction, linked with survival instincts, is allowed to overpopulate the planet with a vast majority of poor and uneducated human beings? How far can artificial intelligence go to save us from ourselves? 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

GETTING GRUMPY


Yesterday, I listened to Russia Today news while caulking some windows in my house. News makes me grumpy, of course, like a lot of things.

When you get old, you do have aches and pains. Your body inevitably malfunctions here and there. It's just the way it is. You can repaint an old house, but the old infrastructure behind the walls is still rotting away from wear and tear.

My grumpiness was lifted somewhat when I heard an interview with an Israeli pacifist who is actively denouncing Israeli militarism as it is marketed worldwide under the label of "security". The pacifist, who seemed to be near my age, was a jolly-looking man, somewhat plump with a white beard. He could do a good Santa without much added.

Then I saw this video this morning on Twitter. This old Palestinian in the video is acting out the frustration of many of us old men, who despise bullying and violence by anyone against anyone else, no matter what the rationalization.



Tuesday, October 6, 2015

DON'T THEY GET IT?

At the forum at Furman University in Greenville, S.C., Mr. Bush boasted of his pro-gun record as Florida governor, recalling awards he received from the National Rifle Association and noting that he once received a gun from the group’s former president, Charlton Heston.
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The current shadow play on the world stage is frightening to anyone who understands the real issues behind big-media propaganda. Two major threats to human civilization, perhaps to the survival of the species, are climate deterioration (not just "change") and overpopulation. All the conflicts currently being waged and described as ideological are based in these two major threats to humanity. Yet neither of these threats is consistently considered in reporting on conflict and its side effects, like migration for one. 

Americans drop everything for soul searching about legalistic gun control for a the length of a news cycle , while the American weapons industry, along with others, fuels murder and conflict around the globe. NATO and Turkey bitch at Russia about air space violations while ISIS serial murderers hide themselves among civilian populations whom they then terrorize and torture in the name of Allah. Yet no commentators look at the effects of desertification and overpopulation in the predominantly Muslim parts of the world. 

Government has become a computer game, played by international oil magnates, stock traders and corporate CEOs. Politics, the sad entertainment arm of government, has become the realm of clownish overstatement (Trump, Cruz, Putin) and unprincipled doublespeak (Clinton, Le Pen, Merkel). Brussels promotes its elitist agenda with nose held high above the masses of its own European populations. Sadly, Beijing now represents a standard of issue-driven and pragmatic leadership, despite its abysmal human rights record. 

In answer to my own leading question, I say I assume they do get it. However, those in leadership around the globe are doing what politicians in government do: They are feathering their own nests. The best way to do this in an age of overpopulation and environmental deterioration is to bow to the will of those with wealth. Joining and staying in the top 10% are the goals for those in power, elected or otherwise. Their lack of effectiveness at facing down ignorance and poverty with sound science to deal with overpopulation and environmental deterioration is the evidence. They are fiddling as the planet burns. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

VAIN ATTEMPTS

Laurie Anderson in 2014.

Laurie Anderson's latest performance/media art piece is typically Manhattan and typically glossy. "Habeas Corpus" presents the holographic  broadcast image of a released Guantanamo terrorist suspect, whom I shall not name in imitation of the Oregon officials who do not want to inflate the image of a mass murderer. The outstanding provenance of this man is his dubious distinction of being the youngest Guantanamo detainee, imprisoned there from ages 14-22.

In an age of religious extremism, religious war, mass migration and deteriorating human ecology, Anderson's idea has to be seen as a vain attempt to shift focus on this one individual among the 7 billion of us. Why this choice? It seems to me that Anderson subscribes to the current 'we are all victims' ideology which fuels the contemporary cult of equivocation as resistance to hard reasoning and realistic assessment of the human condition.

The simple fact is that Laurie Anderson is as much part of the cult of celebrity as anyone. Like most performers, she seeks relevance to gain attention. But her purpose is indeed attention for Laurie Anderson. Using this controversial subject, an accused terrorist, is great fodder for that attention in post-911 Manhattan, where the international elite play at being enlightened at the expense of the millions each of them exploits through corporate capitalism.

Focus on the individual, the anecdotal perhaps, is no way out of the current environmental and ethical crisis of our age. Yes, it may be one way of understanding the issues more deeply, but not to the tune of millions of dollars wasted on lighting and special effects in Manhattan. I find this latest venture of Laurie Anderson very disappointing. She has slipped from cutting edge to vain exhibitionism.

Friday, October 2, 2015

THE BASIC CON


The basic con of patriarchal religions is original sin, or the sin of challenging the patriarch's divine control. The Garden of Eden, the basic human myth of Genesis, is a cautionary tale against knowledge and exploration of biological humanity in the context of a greater planetary ecology. 

At its conception, this myth and those like it were most likely a useful manipulation of primitive human population by their elites, who became elites by aggression, greed and violence.  The elites stood as the representatives of the patriarchal god(s). The conscious merging of culturally polytheistic religions by Jewish, Christian and Muslim elites in subsequent generations in the western hemisphere of the planet concentrated the myth of original sin into a form of mind-controlling indoctrination to keep the ignorant in their place.

To aspire above your birth, your lot in life, was to sin. It was to eat of the fruit of The Tree of Knowledge. However, the root fallacy of this indoctrination tool which worked well for centuries of human development has been exposed by science. The vicious suppression of science, still present today among religious fundamentalists, is a reaction against science's challenge of social hierarchies and patriarchal control. Science exposes the basic con, the basic scam, of all patriarchal religion. 

This morning on BBC's Hardtalk, I listened as an Anglican bishop from Pakistan defend patriarchy. The man is the son of a Muslim-to-Christian convert. This conversion may seem stunning on its surface, but his positions on patriarchy and social issues are entirely consistent with those of fundamentalist Muslims.