Friday, July 30, 2010

Superman Came to the Supermarket

In the midst of the conspiratorial cowardly betrayal known as the Obama Administration -- the Weimar Republic of American history -- a real man, 50 years ago this month.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Listen

Every day, the miracle known as Saya teaches me more about life, love, joy, sadness, right and wrong than all the books I've read, all the teachers I've had, and all the "friends" I've mistakenly listened to. And she's just a normal kid. (Okay, a lot cuter than normal.) Saya-chan is also the most demanding teacher I've had, requiring total attention. One must look at her when she speaks, and listen carefully to all she says, even if what she says she's already said twenty times.

Surprisingly, one of the best pop culture embodiments of her gift and wisdom is Leave It To Beaver. Surprisingly, because my memories of the show (what little there were) pictured the show in its "ABC incarnation." Because of Saya I decided to pick up Shout! Factory's magnificent LITB Complete Series box, released last month. (For the most comprehensive review I've ever seen of any box set, go here.) Having now watched most of the first couple seasons, and remembering some of what followed those years, it's clear there were two LITBs. Aside from one obvious answer -- namely, Jerry Mathers growing up into a rather awkward adolescent -- what were the reasons for the dramatic shift in tone, look, and quality? We can mark when the shift occurs: when the Cleavers move into the second house. In "First House" incarnation, everything is different. Ward is a handsome, charming, even dashing figure, reminiscent of basketball coach Pat Riley. (And I hope the Miami Heat lose every game they play next year.) Ward is a relaxed, happy man with a good life. His boys adore him. June ~ what a dish! With a style clearly based on a mid-50s Grace Kelly look, she's witty, graceful, and very much in love -- and in lust -- with her husband. And that's the first major part that goes out the window when the Cleavers move into their new airplane hanger of a house -- the sexy, fun, adoring relationship between the parents, at its best worthy of comparison to some of the screwball comedy couples of the 1930s. Why did they get rid of this? Why did they change Ward from a stylish, man-about-town into a cranky, always worried, humorless stiff?

What they did to June was worse. Everything she wore in the first house was beautiful, especially her hairstyle. After the move, she becomes this dull, washed-out mannequin, with the worse haircuts possible from the time. (And the early-60s was a Hall-of-Fame time for bad hairstyles.) And the boys! In the first couple years, the brothers are in love with life, always thinking about what was the right thing to do (and often failing); caring more about others then themselves. The family moves -- the boys become different. Now often nasty and selfish, and generally looking at their parents as old fogies who don't understand anything about fun and life. (Considering what June and Ward became, I guess the boys were on to something). Wally becomes the obnoxious Big Man on Campus. Beaver becomes a BMOC-wannabe. And their second-house friends! Eddie, Lumpy, Larry, Whitey, Richard, Gilbert. Whatever happened to the cool Chester or the blind Chuey? Or the sweet-and-cute Benji with the very strange voice? Couldn't the boys have one second-house friend who wasn't a conniving butthead? Who were the producers of the show trying to appeal to once the show became a hit, because once they decided to base LITB on a "kids are more fun and smarter than their parents" theme, the show really goes downhill. And the look of the show, as well. In the first two years, LITB glistens with an almost Fassbinderian white glow. About the best-looking TV black-and-white I can think of from the time. Then they move -- and everything suddenly seems as if it had been shot in somebody's garage. The same is true of the music. There's that lovely, sad melody they use in the first two years -- after they move, it's gone.

So what happened? Answer: Leave It To Beaver changed networks. It went from uptown CBS to downtown ABC -- and the shark swallowed it whole.

My favorite episode from when the show was good: "Beaver Runs Away," June 1958.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Historic and Courageous, or. . .

Amy Goodman leads a roundtable discussion embracing Sunday's massive Wikileaks documents dump.



Amy Goodman Roundtable #2.



Number 3, with Julian Assange himself.



However, Chris Floyd and George Kenney have other ideas. . .

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Its Hour Come Round at Last

From the jaws of Hell has come the Manifesto. Some sniffy little Brit by the name of David Cameron has taken psychopathic materialism, the commodification of everything, and total class war and dressed them up in the sackcloth of

"localization"
"communitization" (as opposed to COMMUNISM)
"co-ops, mutuals and private charities"
"people activism"

and the biggest class war lie of them all: "the entrepreneurial spirit"

What's new? The very same con-words we've been hearing since the birth of the Thatcher/Reagan Big Dark, the same con-words used to justify the attempt to dismantle every human and egalitarian achievement since the days of Robespierre.

What's new is the context.

Last month, the G20 Masters of the Universe announced policies to basically eliminate the welfare state, in order to re-establish the competitiveness of the classical capitalist powers by reducing middle- and working-class standards to the level of impoverished competitors in emerging economies such as China and India, to "equalize" the living standards of workers across the world by shoving them down as far as possible.

Greece: in the face of massive and violent popular protest, the "social democratic" government has shoved through -- with the World Bank/IMF/ECB/EU guns pointed at its head -- a series of Dickensian "austerity" measures.

Britain: the smiler-with-a-knife coalition headed by David Cameron is installed in May. Massive reduction in social protections are immediately announced.

Ireland: cuts in public workers, public salaries, social investment projects, social welfare protection, child benefit payments.

Australia: a Labor Party coup leaves Julia Gillard in charge, who immediately announces her own slash-and-burn "austerity" assault.

Spain and Portugal: two more "social democratic" governments forced at gunpoint to inflict wave after wave of social cuts, wage cuts and layoffs.

Japan: genuine populist Yukio Hatoyama is forced to resign, replaced by Zaibatsu waterboy Naoto Kan. The waterboy's first proposals? Cutting corporate tax rates from 40% to 25%, while doubling the sales tax from 5% to 10%.

Germany: billions of dollars in social and education cuts are imposed, despite having the healthiest economy in the world.

France: across-the-board reductions in local government spending and a 10% cut in guaranteed worker pensions.

The United States: the demonization of the unemployed as the chump Obama government prepares for the eventual elimination of all long-term unemployment benefits, the abandonment of all funding to bankrupt states, the creation of a "bi-partisan" commission to smooth the way for the ending of what little remains of the New Deal/New Frontier/Great Society social safety net.

Speaking of "societies": in what must be the most horrifying use yet of Orwell-Speak, the Eton/Oxford/Descendant of King William IV shitbag known as David Cameron has entitled his call for turning the earth into a cesspool dominated only by fixers, liars, conspirators, racists, tweed-covered garbage, militarists, baby-killers, sanctions-supporters, media scum, sex-haters, oil junkies, gangsters, fascist intelligence agents, drug executioners & political whores:

The Big Society

Clearly, in the wake of the biggest financial crime in human history -- a transfer of tens-of-trillions of dollars worldwide from the public sphere to the private in order to avoid a manufactured and phony "crisis of the world financial system" -- and in the wake of ten years of massive increases in police state and national security state powers justified by the equally fraudulent "war on terror" -- the vampires now feel they can get away with everything.

Because that is what they want: EVERYTHING

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Rock Around the Clock

Top Officials Reiterate Pledges to Continue Afghan War
New 2014 Drawdown Date Is 'Non-Binding'


On the eve of the latest policy conference, top US and NATO officials have arrived in Kabul to pledge their support to the continuation of the Afghan War, with promises of an unending commitment to propping up the Karzai government going forward.

At the center of this new pledges, which look remarkably the same as the old pledges, is a new drawdown date in 2014. The date, which had actually been bandied about for over a year, was ostenisbly “leaked” in recent days to a number of key media outlets.

The date, which is “conditions-based” and “non-binding,” appears to be designed to accomplish little but replacing the July 2011 drawdown date, which has now been entirely abandoned by administration officials. The only apparent advantage to the 2014 date is that it is some four years hence and therefore far enough way as to not need to be immediately disavowed by any but the most hawkish officials.

Monday, July 19, 2010

'Tis a Pity, She's a Whore

I mean, do people actually like Rachel Maddow? Do they look forward to seeing that face or hearing that voice? Do they enjoy seeing just how far the pet can stray from the peg before the chain snaps back?

Watching her embed herself within the he-man/she-man duvet of Afghanistan was a truly revolting experience. Of course, it signals where Obama thinks he needs to go as the run up to the Democratic Debacle of 2010 proceeds. (Assuming Obama isn't trying to throw the Congress to the Republicans, a very interesting theory held by George Kenney.) It is clear that Obama and team have bet on the Kathryn Bigelow-level idiocy of the MSNBC wad; as well as betting that the disgusted left will take one of its regularly scheduled vacations. A good bet both ways; and really, what options are there for the still-hopeful or disgusted left?

David Walsh of WSWS on Lady Maddow's witching-hour.

Friday, July 16, 2010

You Say Renegade. . .

. . . others say HERO.

How dare the "renegade" put family, neighborhood, culture and homeland ahead of The Imperial Project!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fruit Salad

Barack Obama's choice for head of US Central Command.
The Obama administration has picked a successful and happy warrior in Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis to head the US Central Command. The command includes all US forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, the entire Middle East and Central Asia. Mattis has gloated that it is "fun to shoot some people" and "have a plan to kill everybody you meet".

Mattis has a strong resume in the military killing business. He was a lieutenant colonel in the US invasion of Iraq in 1991, directed the Marines in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, headed the US assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004 and helped design the siege that destroyed the city and killed thousands of Iraqi civilians. Mattis also commanded the initial troops that went into Afghanistan in 2001.

Describing his feelings about the people in Afghanistan, General Mattis said, "... It's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually it's quite fun to fight them, you know. It's a hell of a hoot. It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right up there with you. I like brawling."

Author Thomas Ricks wrote that Mattis told his troops to, "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet."

During Operation Desert Storm in Iraq, Mattis reportedly told his troops, "It's the mission of every Marine in the battalion to send one dead Iraqi home to Mama."

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Heist -- 6 Months Later

Chris Hedges takes a look at the effects of Obama's health-care heist 6 months on, in a passionate essay.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Week That Was

In a radical expansion of "private gun rights," the United States Supreme Court opened the door for the elimination of most federal, state and local gun-control legislation from the past 50 years, including the Brady Bill, the Gun Control Act of 1968 (passed in the wake of the MLK/RFK executions), and the Public Safety Act of '95 (imposing heavy restrictions on "gun show" purchases and instituting the ban on assault weapons). This blow for jungle law will of course lead to only one result: massive increase in police state powers, as the Unpeople run amok.

The same Supreme Court, following on the Citizens United decision which eliminated all restrictions on corporate funding of political campaigns, seemed to uphold major provisions of the 2002 Sarbanes/Oxley Campaign Reform Act, while actually targeting the regulatory legal authority of such stalwarts as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Social Security Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Federal Trade Commission.

Barack Obama's "Finance Reform Bill" made it through Congress -- a near complete capitulation to Wall Street/banking interests, leaving the 5 Big Banks which caused the '08 financial crash in much stronger control over the domestic economy and leaving them with a much larger slice of the US banking system.

And then ballgame.
TORONTO — Leaders of the world’s biggest economies agreed Sunday on a timetable for cutting deficits and halting the growth of their debt, but also acknowledged the need to move carefully so that reductions in spending did not set back the fragile global recovery.
The action at the Group of 20 summit meeting here signaled the determination of many of the wealthiest countries, after enacting spending programs to counter the worldwide financial crisis, to now emphasize debt reduction. And it underscored the conviction of European nations in particular that deficits represented the biggest threat to their economic stability

President Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner had consistently advocated a measured approach to debt reduction that would not stymie growth and lead to a double-dip recession.

The United States, however, joined other countries at the summit meeting, which was met by protests and several hundred arrests, by endorsing a goal of cutting government deficits in half by 2013 and stabilizing the ratio of public debt to gross domestic product by 2016. Canada’s prime minister, Stephen Harper, had proposed the targets, backed by Germany and Britain.
With the G20 pronouncements, we descend several rings into the hell of Western corporate totalitarianism. The private sector was the sole cause of the 2008 financial collapse. The private sector is the sole cause of the massive government deficits now being used to exterminate what little remains of a democratic social structure where, to quote John F. Kennedy, "The strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved." Chomsky always says that one can understand what a war is really about only after it is over.

-- The vampires design a system -- with the major collusion of Western State interests -- intended to steal everything in sight -- and intended to eventually "collapse," whether in 2006, 2008, 2015, whenever.

-- The vampires know, because they now control the State, that when the "collapse" comes they will be saved by State/taxpayer funding, causing massive deficits and possible State bankruptcy.

-- The vampires then proclaim that all State spending not dedicated to corporate bailouts and military/police defense of the corporate prison must be seriously cut or eliminated.

What we are seeing is Adam Smith's description of the Masters of his own time ("All for ourselves. Nothing for others") brought to psychopathic perfection, a reversal of 500 years of egalitarian, human progress.

Change we can believe indeed. Welcome to the jungle.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Mirrors

How 'bout that Michael Steele? And how 'bout the pile-on led by Obamanauts in the media? They pile on Steele when he sticks his right foot in his mouth, but now that he said this. . .
Afghanistan is a war of Obama's choosing. This is not something that the United States actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in. We should have a background role in the country, sort of shaping the changes that were necessary in Afghanistan as opposed to directly engaging troops. If Obama's such a student of history, has he not understood that's the one thing you don't do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan. Because everyone who has tried over a thousand years of history has failed. And there are reasons for that. There are other ways to engage in Afghanistan without committing more troops. And the situation with General McChrystal was comical.
. . .they still pile on. Hmmmm. Wasn't Barack Obama's main appeal in '07 and (pre-nominee) '08 his anti-war pose? And now they lie. They lie that candidate Obama said he would expand the Afghan war; they lie that despite Obama's in-fact radical expansion of it, that we're merely looking at years 7 and 8 of what remains Bush's war:


For deceit, self-delusion and will-to-power mirror-gazing, Obamanauts are truly joined at the hip with neo-cons. (Actually, Obamanauts are worse, since neo-cons actually believe in things, however insane.)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Stand Up

The great Joe Bageant is back!:  Live from Planet Norte

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Ooops

In spite of 18 months of little but ideological betrayal, I truly did believe that Barack Obama's main problem with Stanley "Death Squad" McChrystal was the General and his staff's basically fascist nature. But now that the Rolling Stone interview smoke has cleared, it's obvious that General Stanley McChrsytal was fired because he wasn't enough of a butcher.

Patrick Martin with the best account yet of what is happening.