Tuesday, December 17, 2013

TBGO: Lawless

In the next few weeks and months, you are likely to hear quite a bit of rhetoric about "precious freedoms," your "constitutionally guaranteed rights," and how the gummint REALLY, REALLY, REALLY WANTS to keep YOUR privacy secure.
In the wake of the Snowden revelations, and the rest of the recent news about USer domestic intel gathering, there will probably be some kinds of legislation percolating through Congress to "rein in" the abuses by the NSA, and the CIA, and the HSA, and the USIC, and the rest of the more than 20 government bureaus which operate their own intelligence-gathering services, along with the more than 2000, private corporations conducting intel-gathering and analysis FOR the Gummint.
The powers-that-be will swear--promise and assure us, on their sacred honor, or their mother's grave, or their love of God--that they are doing everything POSSIBLE to ensure the security of our personal communications, records, and data, and that the preservation of the integrity of individual privacy is their foremost concern.
And they will be lying.
Not maliciously.
Like how Intel Director Clapper "prevaricated" (lied) to Sens. Rand Paul and Ron Wyden in the Senate: "As close to the truth as I can be," he replied when asked if US Intel surveilled USer citizens (Wyden and Paul BOTH knew Clapper couldn't answer them without violating CIA regs and federal law...It was a cheap shot, and a put-up job. There's a reason Clapper wasn't charged with anything, and this is it). OF COURSE they do. Derp...
And so they're being FORCED into lying because what you/we, the citizenry, demand is impossible to supply: There is NO WAY the USofA, the largest, most powerful, richest, most hated, envied, most loathed superpower on the planet, can STOP spying.
Knowledge is power. Information is the raw material of knowledge. An empire needs all of both that it can gather. It won't stop.
Because: There is NO ALTERNATIVE, from the intelligence perspective, to broadly collecting EVERYTHING, and storing and sorting it for later. If your "NATIONAL SECURITY" depends on an informed leadership--and it does--then you can in fact leave no stone unturned; you look at EVERYTHING.
So you HAVE to either 1) ignore or 2) work around the laws and regulations which well-meaning naifs throw up to "protect" themselves from Gummint interference. And rest assured, any such laws which are passed WILL CONTAIN language which opens the door for "exceptions."
And those "exceptions" will be used (and mis-used) by the clandestine 'warriors' to accomplish their national defense missions.
For which, should they prove to have been derelict, they would be (justly and rightly) pilloried for the damage consequent from their failures.
It's a double bind, which the bureaucrats will resolve in favor of the status quo, ante.
So if you don't want anybody to know about what YOU'RE up to,  keep it to yourself, and don't reveal it on the intertubez, cuz that what they'll be watching.
Worth remembering, also: There is no sovereign state in the world --not one--today which does NOT operate as large, and as comprehensive an array of intelligence gathering and analysis operations as they can afford and support, and which operations DO NOT surveille their own citizens. We've been spying, officially, on our own citizenry for 150 years, at least..
It's just that in the past the people being surveilled weren't the good burghers. They were the "trouble-makers," "activists," "civil rights workers," "labor" or "student" leaders, Communists, Socialists, and other rabble whose rights didn't matter...Good times!
We can have private conversation about this when I see you at the beach, chers. PAZ!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

TBGO: Why Murkins Hate the Poor

Welcome! Ladies and Gennemuns, Boys and goils around the woild, to the WWH/CJE electronic soapbox. This is yer ol'perfesser, "Dr. Woody," John Konopak in Albuquerque NM with today's installment: 
"Unclean! Unclean!"
The Gospels and lots of other sources acknowledge: The Poor are ALWAYS with us.
It's true, and never more so in a zero-sum economy such as the one in which the vast majority of citizens/consumers struggle to survive.
Not only are they always with us, but increasingly it seems they are also greatly hated. 
One detects lots of consternation about this particular phenomenon. Why, why, why? cry the 'liberals' and the socially conscious? Why do we hate the poor?
Well, it's really not All that difficult. 
Think leprosy, in the days of yore. 
Nobody knew WHY someone contracted the condition, in which parts of the victim became all too obviously  'diseased' and then just fell off. 
However much or little it was understood, they blamed the victim for his condition...
But NOBODY--other than saints and martyrs--wanted ANYTHING to do with them.
Unclean! Stay away! Stay Away@!

Like leprosy, a thousand years ago, in the Levant, being poor is the worst thing that can happen to any Murkin. 
Like lepers, the poor most often have no control over what happened to 'em, no way to fix it, and nobody wanting, willing or able to help.
This ain' NO country for poor folk, folks...Murkins detest the poor, the same way that people detested and fled from lepers in earlier days. It might be contagious! Stay away! Stay Away! You really DON'T wanna get any of THAT on ya!
Poor people mostly STAY poor, unless they luck the fuck out on some lottery. 
That's part of capitalism, along with structural unemployment, there's structural poverty.

And that's not an accident. Capitalism requires compliant workers. Workers with disemployment and poverty staring over their shoulders are a lot less likely to stray into unions, etc...
On top of that, of course, the Ownerz and Oligarchz have directed their pet, corporate media to make sure the Murkin people blame the poor for their poverty. 
They have succeeded beyond imagining...
You've heard the drill; you know it by heart: The poor are to blame for their situations. They're lazy, or they fornicate, or they take drugs, or they're just naturally inferior in motivation and other good, american, social virtues..
OR as some gurus would have it: Maybe they didn't draw the GOOD ju-ju to 'em; instead, they complained and the BAD ju-ju got 'em. 
But anyway, it was their own fault. Warn't nuthin the system coulda done...
You've heard and seen the same message THOUSANDS of times from every imaginable source: popular entertainments, advertisements, dramas, preachers, politicians, business leaders of every stripe: "They had choices, but they made bad ones!"
It's the underlying theme of the whole literature of self-help and so-called "positive thinking" scams. If you're not "successful," it's YOUR fault.
I wanna remind ya, hippies: The wealthy make "choices": Escargot or Foie Gras; the Benz of the Porsche. The poor make decisions: Rent or food, utilities or meds. There is a difference and it's not just semantic. 
We can discuss it, later, when I see you at the beach.

As the Cookie Crumbles: Help-less-ness

Prez. LowBar today (Wednesday) gave a speech in which he described income inequality in the USofA as 'the defining problem' of the current period.
APART from the fact that he's dreadfully, and probably fatally, wrong--CLIMATE CHANGE IS THE DEFINING ISSUE OF THIS WHOLE EPOCH--Aside from that, ya gotta admit, that there Prez LowBar, he gives purty good speech.
But, of course, that's just about ALL he can do about it.
Govt spending is down, govt hiring is non-existent, and wages are frozen. Departmental budgets are gutted by the sequester, jobs go unfilled, programs wither, and the House isn't gonna open the exchequer...
That's WHY he can give so rousing an address about it.
But way down, he knows (and I hope it eats at him) that ANY initiative he proposed which set out to actually rectify or specifically dispel income inequalities would IMMEDIATELY be MIS-characterized and LOUDLY condemned by the White/Right/Teahadists as "nothin' but blatant give-away to "HIS" people," aka "thim dam, lazy, shif'less, fornicatin' nigras!"
Any such proposal would, as such, be DOA--Dead on Announcement--in the House, and only slightly healthier in the Senate.
Such is the influence, still, of the Bagger Bloc. It is undiminished by recent events and/or apparent set-backs. It still commands both an outlandish share of press attention and of political influence.
A bitto history: The Bagger leadership, the money, comes from the right-wing, business/oligarch class, people allied and/or affiliated with the Olins, the Coors, the Kochs, et al. The rank-and-file Baggers, on the other hand, are the remnants and the political descendants of the the "Raygoon Democrats."
The Raygoon Dims were mainly white, center-right, working class folks who read and perfectly understood the subliminal, racially coded signals the GOPhux campaign was sending by holding its first official campaign event of 1980 in Philadelphia, MS, where 16 years before, the KKKlan had murdered three civil rights organizers and buried their bodies in a dam. Mississippi Burning, anyone?
The signal Raygoon and the GOPhux sent and the signal the racially disaffected Dims read was that civil rights movement was as dead as those three "troublemakers,"and the days of giving "them damn mahnorities everythin' they demanded" were over.
That set well with a LOT of lower class, low status white voters, who flocked to the Raygoon standard. That was the signal which set off the "Great Defection" in 1980, which broke the old FDR coalition. It signalled the onset of the systematic roll-back of all the "liberal" social gains of the previous 50 years. It's influences and consequences are still potent even today.
We can discuss 'em further when I see you at the beach...Paz, chers...

Monday, November 18, 2013

Dr. Woody'z Fabulous, Fascinating Factoids: Pious Pin-headed Preachers.

With all the fabled folderol of Thanksgiving on the horizon, these days you cannot swing a cat without bumping up against the despicable revisionist "history" propogated by the pious pinheads of the Wackloon/Fundie/Cristo-Right. David Barton, anyone? 

The charlatans are EVERYWHERE. The latest to join the fray was that pious pinhead, the AFA's Tony Perkins, who was out last week, in advance of the 'seasonal remembrances' spreading the falsehoods about the "religious" origins of the USofA, and of the colonists fleeing oppression, seeking 'freedom' in the New World. Perkins claimed that the Puritans' departure from Europe to seek 'religious freedom' presages and authorizes their contemporary "right" to deny birth-control to the population in general because it offends THEIR principles..

No, I'm NOT making that up. I've left the link in the comments below.

The story of the Puritans is one of the most cherished, and most abused, myths of the Colonial era.. 

Even though the lies are embeded in the national "exceptionality" narrative, somebody needs to instruct the these holy dickwads and fuckwitted, cretinous "preachers" that only a tiny fraction of the earliest colonists came for "religious freedom." 

Of the original 10 colonies, only those in "New England" were founded by Puritan religious zealots. The vast majority of the REST of the colonists came for the chance to make a buck/pound/guilder by exploiting the "New World." They were a population, in the words of a contemporary observer, of Murtherers, Theeves, Adulterers, [and] idle persons.” Such a description, indeed, fir the vast MAJORITY of our "first citizens."

And those religious zealots--the Pilgrims--left Europe only because it afforded them the opportunity to practice religious EXCLUSIONISM. The Puritans could NOT abide living in communities with those who were NOT of their particular, primitive, fundamentalist persuasion. They expelled those whom they couls, and fled from the rest.

They were self-exiled from Britain, settled in "Holland," where they were deemed too reactionary even for the tolerant Dutch, and were forced to migrate to the New World--- where, everyone profoundly hoped, they would just die out.

The "religious" history of the colonies is a part and parcel of the same "exceptionalist" propaganda which has polluted our national discourse for more than 200 years. So, let's just be clear, here. "Religion" provided only the slightest impetus to the colonization of the East Coast, outside Massachusetts and Connecticut. And it is fundamentally dishonest to pretend otherwise.

Friday, November 1, 2013

TBGO: I Spy, with My Little Eye...

Woody notez that a lotta folks all around the world seem to think Prez. LowBarry's spying and intel-gathering and surveillance activities have been especially egregious and excessive.
Codwswallop. Balderdash. Poppycock! They're NOT.

They are perfectly proportional to the need and the ability of the US State to protect itself via information gathering. No world power could even contemplate participation in global politics without EXTENSIVE, COMPREHENSIVE, and RELIABLE intelligence, both foreign and domestic.
EVERY previous regime in the 20th Century, at least, has extended its intelligence tentacles as far as they were technologically and financially able.
They'd have been criticized, pilloried, and probably fired if they HADN'T.
The reach under Prez LowBarry's regime has perhaps been greater than hitherto, but if previous regimes were less intrusive, it was NOT for lack of trying. I know. I was in the USAF branch of the NSA in the '60s.
And it is NOT going to stop!~
There will be NO diminution intelligence gathering, no interference, no reduction. Nagahapun. Not now, not ever. In the world or "real-politik," it CANNOT be ANY other way.
No matter what ANY pol asserts, declares, or promises, it will continue and increase.
Somebody may throw a modest legislative wrap over the naked acts of surveillance--see, e.g., the Church Committee.
But they will NEVER act to interfere in ANY meaningful way. There will be no budgetary restrictions, no "ethical" ("ethical Intel" = world-class oxymoron) restrictions, no end to it, in absolute certainty!
Anything anybody--President, pope, your sainted mither--says otherwise is just a coverup and a lie.
Business will go on as usual.
And it's "Big Business" now.
Nobody fucks with business if it's big enough. With 20+ Govt bureaus devoted entirely to intel-gathering and analysis, and over 2000 PRIVATE 'security contractors' on the job, with budgets in the trillions, it's too big to stop or to fail.
Seemingly forgotten in the current contretemps is the fact USer 'regimes" have been carrying out varieties of peaceful and violent of counter-intel on USer citizens since the 1880s.
They typically spied then "only" on 'dissidents' like labor (Wobblies) or civil rights activists, anarchists, immigrants, colored people, and students. They were often vicious, violent, and bloody: Ask, for example, the Black Panthers, or, before them, the Molly Maguires.
One notices, with some irony, that people's tolerances for "govt. surveillance" were a lot HIGHER when (1) they didn't think themselves as possible targets for it, and (2) when the guy running the show was white.


Monday, September 30, 2013

TBGO: The Negrow Did It!

"Little Buddy Gonna Shut "em Down!"
Woody thinks the risks entailed by a Govt. shut-down are substantial, but as The Shrill One notes, "Unfortunately, many Republicans either don’t understand this or don’t care."
They understand. And they don't care because they are pretty sure that they've got the public relations 'get-out-of-jail' card: They can blame the Negro, and the "people" (a substantial majority) will buy it, particularly in retrospect, next year, no matter WHAT the "press" says, even if it records that Tea-hadist intransigence created domestic and international havoc.
The Righturds and Fucktards and Wackloons can be sure that, no matter what happens, with enough atttention from the Rightard media 'echo chamber,' enough of the "people" will blame Prez Lowbar, for anything at all--already 40% of folks in Louisiana blame LowBar for the poor Katrina response--that the Tea-hadists can escape electoral responsibility. It's a "perfect storm," for 'em: Win-win.
The conditions are very different from the Gingrich shut-down, in '96. Then there was a presidential election and Clenis had coat-tails. This time, the next election is still a year away and the Prez won't be on the ballot (though he will, of course, still be the major issue). The Tea-hadistas will be safe as houses, because--as HL Mencken cynically noted--"No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost political office thereby."
No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/h/hlmencke134033.html#hjii7Q352i8zalDi.99
No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/h/hlmencke134033.html#hjii7Q352i8zalDi.99
No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/h/hlmencke134033.html#hjii7Q352i8zalDi.99

Saturday, September 28, 2013

TBGO: Report From The Front Lines of Pedagogy

Report From The Front Lines of Pedagogy

Amid all the rancor about uncaring, unprofessional teachers, and the clamor for standards and accountability from people who, mostly, do not have measurable experience in the "trenches," it is perhaps useful to consider and reflect upon the untenable positions into which the best as well as the worst teachers are forced by the interests pushing "reform."
Via the Facebook page, Dump Duncan, here's a wonderfully expressive, perceptive, and ultimately frustrating letter from a frustrated teacher:

You want to hear something really stupid now?   In my school, where I'm an elementary special ed teacher, I had a sit down meeting with a few administrators a ouple weeks ago and explain to them that the new state math module was just too damn hard and developmentally inappropriate for my class.
With IQs averaging in the low 70s in my room, kids were not going to be learning to multiply and divide in a two week time frame, at least not the way it's taught in these ridiculous modules.
I was told to teach it anyway, because otherwise the kids wouldn't be ready for the state test.
I said they won't pass the state test,they're two grade levels behind already in reading and writing and math, and in my nine years as a teacher of this population, less than five percent have ever been able to score at a proficient level. They tire out, they don't have the stamina for tests like this, etc. etc.
They subtly accused me of having low expectations for kids, which I told them is not true, I will teach them at the pace at which they can learn. What good is teaching a kid how to throw a spiral if he doesn't even know where the end zones are?
Then the conversation got even more bizarre. I said I wanted to modify my mid-unit and end of unit assessments to match what I'd actually taught the kids out of the modules (yeah, radical) and I was told no, I couldn't do that, because how else would anyone know what progress the kids were making toward the state test.
Stupid. I had already told them I was wasn't teaching every single lesson in the unit; I had to cut a lot so we could focus on what mattered most. They didn't care one bit about MY opinion of the students I was teaching every single day. It just doesn't matter anymore.
Reformers will sometimes acknowledge that, okay, some kids definitely learn slower than others ... but then do nothing about it. The conversation ends right there. With smirks and condescending grins and handshakes. Some of the stupidest conversations I've ever had in my life have happened in meetings at school...
> Bottom line, no matter what anybody tells you, teachers have been de-professionalized in America. The evidence is clear, the subject is closed, and the only question is how in the hell we're going to escape this fatalism that is setting in among teachers (and parents) that there is nothing to be done about it, so shut up and get back to work and stop making people feel uncomfortable and depressed.

Unfortunately, letters like this one do not ultimately help prevent discomfort and depression about the future of the schools, and NOT because of the teachers or their students.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

TBGO: "Revolution" Ainna Gonna Happun


In Woody'z view, Reich is delusional, as is Moyers, because they believe the current system can be "fixed." It can't be--or, more significantly, it WON'T be; it is just too sweet a deal for those who own it, and who have no incentive to change.

And it's ludicrous to believe otherwise.

The ONLY way change will come is through catastrophic, social upheaval, of the kind the French Revolution represents.

Neither Reich nor Moyers (nor Krugman, nor I, nor anyone else, with any sense or humanity, really) wants to bring down all of civilization--which is, in essence and effect, what the 'revolutionaries' call for, and what 'change' will require.

Revolutions SELDOM do more than merely REPLACE the asswholes at the top; it NEVER supplants them. The only way there will EVER be a "non-violent revolution" will be if the elites voluntarily forsake their wealth and privilege.

I don't foresee that happening.

Gandhi was able to lead the (so-called) non-violent revolution in India because, after the horrors of WW II, the Brits who wanted out, anyway, were not in the mood for MORE slaughter. User elites won't be so scrupulous.

The USer system has from the start been afflicted with one overwhelming flaw:
Our elites do NOT have in their genetic memory the thump of the blade, the rattle of the firing squad, and the howling fury of the mob. Without 'em, there's no dis-incentive for asswholery on the scale we now experience.

We have no history of "heads on pikes." It's is the BIGGEST flaw in the whole system.

Monday, September 16, 2013

CorpoRat Reform ("Deform") Schematic

(Original chart by Morna McDermott, Power Point reproduction by Karen Bracken with permission by M McDermott.)

This'n's Right in yer ol' perfesser's wheelhouse:
The "reform/deform" strategies are nothing but hyped-up, fancified, spuriously "researched" versions of the repressive, subordinating pedagogies which Paolo Freire led the way to decry as destructive of the emancipatory possibilities of education more than 40 years ago...See, e.g., "Pedagogy of the Oppressed."
The "standards" curricula basically hypostatize ED Hirsch's 'laundry lists' of "what Americans need to know," while the pedagogical methodology echoes the failed, "deficit" model by which students are thought to be 'empty' vessels in need of filling from the teachers' stores of 'approved' knowledge.
There is nothing "reform" about ANY of it, unless it is to reform the method by which Private Interests extract public money for their 'charter" schemes--a large number of which are effectively real estate scams along with being educationally suspect--and abandon the neediest students. (I shall only note in passing that Prof. Ravitch was once (circa 1980-1990) one of the foremost advocates of what she is now criticizing.)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

TBGO: Damascus in the Crosshairs.

 syria protest

Woody's talked before about "real politik," the pragmatic, unvarnished way things really are in the ways of power, bereft of niceties, despite what we'd prefer or have been led to believe.

A story from Syria this afternoon on the webs told how a band of "Syrian rebels" had stopped a bus and then murdered and beheaded all the passengers, including a baby.

Note to self: It's civil war in Syria. Civil wars are notoriously un-civil.

Civil wars, at least in the present era, are fought with terror; much more terror than conventional battles. Civilians are the targets, but also the prize.

As the fates of Saddam Hussein and Libya's Ghadaffi have assuredly reminded him, the Dictator Assad is fighting for his life. But not only for his own literal life: Also the lives of his whole "confession," the Alawites. They are only about 10% of the population, in a country of around 22 Million, and have been the "masters" of Syria since the French set things up in the 20s of the last Century. They have incurred fierce enmities. If/when he falls, there probably will be an Alawite genocide in Syria. 

Assad is a murderous brute. He should have held elections after the old man died. Perhaps, if he'd done so, Syria could have started to negotiate passage into a "Lebanon-style," flexible, domestic truce--though probably it was already too late for that. His father was also a brutal, murderous, sadistic bastard, too, whose secret police were hated and feared, and or good reason.

The "rebels" --it's kinda irrelevant who they are, really, since nationality and religion are to an extent interchangeable; there are non-Syrian "jihadis" among them, apparently--are also murderous brutes. From what pieces I've read, they seem mainly to be creatures of the Saudis, who see the conflict as a proxy fight with their foremost Islamic rival, Iran. Possibly, the foot-soldiers, the thugs, the murderers of the bus passengers are inspired by religious zeal. They are holy, murderous brutes, I guess.

Real-Politik break: In fact, it has been exceedingly, rarely actually possible to unseat existing power which is reluctant to let go without unleashing the murderous brutes.
Recorded incidents have been extremely rare. Gandhi "won" non-violently against the British, but only because the Brits had already decided the Raj was up, and were really pretty happy to dispense with the whole mess--which they'd created, of course.  

In Syria, these blood-soaked djinni are long since out of the bottle, and they are not easily--nor, indeed, even likely--to be recaptured, recontained.

 Not to mention the "bigger" implications involving Iran, Turkey, the Kurds (there are a lot of Kurds in Syria, and who, I take it, fear for their lives if the "rebels" win), the fucking Saudis and the fucking Israelis. And the Sunni/Shi'a thing. And don't forget the Oil. The terminals, pipelines, refineries, and the ports. None of it bodes well for peace. Syria's headed for the ash-heap of Levantine history, no matter what, it seems from here. There seem to be just too many contesting forces and interests.

A fact not without its own peculiar poignancy in our own situation, for our own consideration, where we hear more and more strident cries for "revolution" in our own lives. I'll be pondering it surely, when I see you at the beach, chers...PAZ!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

TBGO: Autos de Fe


A "faithful/believer" commentator asked, basically, why can't we--believers and non-believers--all be friends.

Woody tried to answer:
All proclamations of faith in "supernatural beings" in public discourse are ALWAYS intended to win for the proclaimers unearned, undeserved rhetorical advantage and authority. "God says" is a claim to irrebuttable authority. But it is (or should be) meaningless in the secular world, and deserving of  no more acknowledgement that if someone claimed "The Dog says..." The "faithful" would rightly scoff at such a claim about "the Dog," and thus may not suppose "the God" carries any more weight..

Thus: We can be friends as long as you don't insist that your (or ANY) "God" has a "legitimate" place in discussions of public law, regulation or conduct. We STOP being friends when anybody proclaiming your (or ANY) "God" decides their faith entitles "believers" any special status or privilege or standing.
In other words, it's your private business.

Truthfully, I don't want to know that or if even you believe. It doesn't MATTER. Unless you DON'T keep it to yourself and your co-religionists. Indeed, if I DO know your theistic position, then you/folks have, de facto, violated the public space.

For example: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/22/nyregion/hasidic-jews-turn-up-pressure-on-city-to-accommodate-their-traditions.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1
Hassidic Jews in NYC wan the city to legislate certain accommodations to their "traditions."

Since civic government is responsible to ALL the people, no secular authority should ever endeavor to adjust the behaviors or the conduct of the "polis" to accommodate ANY special, sectarian demands from ANY cults or religions. To do otherwise is to force the whole of the People to submit to the "spiritual" whims of a minority--which would, I'm sure, be dreadfully aggrieved if they were forced to submit to antagonistic "beliefs" of some OTHER cult.

Which is why the "public" celebration of (e.g.) "Christmas" (per se), or "Good Friday," or "purim," is unacceptable. A civis may proclaim a seasonal holiday, or a commercial one. But as soon as it labels and locates the event in ANY theistic tradition, it violates the right of others NOT to behave according to imposed sectarian whim.

I'll close with this fervent prayer:

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

TBGO: No Choice (The Meme Bandit Rides Again)

 Caution: Poison

Yer Ol' Perfesser regardz this as one of the most insidious, odious, pernicious, and just-plasin dishonest 'memes' on the Netz. Period!

It's part of the discourse of 'victim-blaming'--and a central tenet of the enormously profitable business of "self-help." Think Dale Carneige or Norman Vincent Peale, or their latter-day avatars like Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, Osho, and their ilk. It is difficult to name a "self-improvement guru who hasn't helped themselves to the life-savings of the poor, miserable, tormented sheep who flock to them for guidance. I've known a few gurus, and their tastes seem universally to run to really GOOD Scotch, fast/blingy cars, and "sweet, young thangs," that groupie-dom provides so profligately. They have "choices."

But the rest of us aren't so lucky. Humans of less than regal means or incomes are HUGELY regimented, limited, and restricted in their options. Indeed, as one of Woody'z 'dichos' has it: "The wealthy make choices: San Tropez or Grenoble, the Porsche or the Merc.
"The poor make decisions: Food or rent or meds."

We ALL may exercise a certain amount of limited, local 'autonomy': who our friends are, where we live (sometimes), what we consume (somewhat), with whom we establish intimacies. But that's about it. So to rag at folks who haven't a pot to piss in about their difficult, possibly even squalid conditions being their own, personal fault/responsibility is to recklessly, and dishonestly, ignore all the social, historical, political and economic forces arrayed against them. Quite purposely arrayed, at least in part, against them, by the machinations of those who DO control the destinies of the millions, and seek to keep them supine and suppressed.

Yes, some people are lucky enough to escape the traps set before them at their birth (by the Oligarchz & Plutocratz intent on preserving their own privilege). There are 300+ MILLION people in the USofA. Laws of probability would dictate that some few of them could be expected to escape their leaden lots and achieve their golden potential. Great skill, great beauty, recognized early and developed can be the key to escaping even the most toxic circumstances, if only temporarily...

But the rest of us?

Well, the biggest choice one can screw up, of course, is in your choice of parents. If you didn't at LEAST catch a tiny break in the birth lottery (a decent door prize, if not the pot-o-gold) then what Thoreau said of our common condition--that "All men lead lives of quiet desperation"--must surely be your lot. The best one can hope for in that situation is to make YOUR desperation as noisy as possible.

It won't CHANGE anything, of course (well, in Wisconsin, it could get you arrested for simply singing), but it adds to the variety and the volume of the chorus.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

TBGO: The Highest Hurdle


Woody'z not a climate scientist. I'm a "social scientist," however, and am not unfamiliar with the rigors of knowledge work: research, development of theory, experimentation, peer review, etc.. So when a significant number of the most highly regarded, independent "minds" in a given field of endeavor agree on the meaning of certain phenomena, I am inclined to accept their verdict. I am therefore pretty sure that climate change is upon us.

Whether or not it is too late to do anything about it, or to ameliorate it to any significant degree, is a hotly debated topic about which I am not sufficiently expert to offer more than a cursory guess; but I am notably pessimistic by nature..

Howsoever it is resolved--if it can be--any effort to actually DO anything so will require an immense, hitherto unimaginable, almost total, GLOBAL effort, with all the political baggage which that entails. The project will be of an order of magnitude 10 to the 50th times greater than going to the moon required. The interdynamics of information, and commodification, and mediation, and commercialization and other instrumental and influential structural conditions of the existing, pervasive social and political arrangements create conditions in which violent antagonisms can be expected to erupt--outbreaks which would interfere with or even obstruct, possibly cripple the levels of international cooperation demanded to effect the changes required to affect the climatic catastrophes which would STILL threaten everyone.

The biggest obstacle I see is that the people who own and control all the machinery and resources upon which we ALL depend to an almost unimaginable degree to supply us with energy now are gonna demand to be paid to stop pumping, digging, refining and mining and burning all the stuff they "own."

Chevron is bigger, financially, than all but about a score or so of NATIONAL economies. Add Exxon/Mobil and BP, and you're up into the TOP 10...They're gonna demand to be reimbursed. Who's gonna buy 'em out? Those people have to be OUT of the game BEFORE any possible remediation can begin. If they're not, they'll screw it up.

And afterwards, who or what's gonna finance the "universalization"--could I say, the "ubiquitization"-- of clean replacements?

That's the major hurdle, it seems to me, and if anybody's talking about it, I haven't heard or seen a word...neither here nor at the beach, hippiez....Paz!!!

PS:  See the TomGram today, by Michael Klare, for further reinforcement of the points raised herein.

TBGO: Cynical Hypocrisy?

Photo: Chart: The U.S. deficit was already shrinking, and it is now projected to shrink even more in 2013. If expectations hold, Republicans will need to rewrite their favorite talking point.

Much is being and has been made over the recent announcements about the phenomenal shrinkage of the federal deficit. According to the punditocracy, the deficit shrunk further and quicker than Michelle Bachmann's husband's libido on their wedding night. It's being plrclaimed one of the highlights of Prez. Lowbar's tenure so far. Obot apologists are beside themselves, and the GOPhux are writhing, since the 'deficit' was one of their signature issues..

This "Obama Defeats Deficit" meme is very durable and persistent and seems to bring untold joy and pleasure to some quarters. It's touted with the same ardor as if it were a cure for economic AIDS.
But I'm curious why this is such a "good" thing. Truly, I wonder if the triumphalist know what they're celebrating?
"The Deficit" is mainly a GOPhux/Grasping Oligarchs & Plutocrats stalking horse/straw-man/whining point. The deficit (or surplus) is the differnce between income and outgo. Deficit means more outgo than income. Every regimes since FDR has run one.

Deficits are reduced when the difference between income and out-go is reduced. As mi amigos en Santa say, it's not rocket surgery, esse!

So: we know there haven't been any NEW sources of income; the GOPhux in the House have seen to that while busily voting 40 times to abolish PPACA (to the tune of $50 MILLION, so far).

Ergo: the deficit MUST have been reduced by DECREASING spending.
Prez. Lowbar has been a demon on restraining Gummint spending by not filling vacant posts in the bureaucracy, reducing the bureaucracy through attrition, and privatization. And the sequester has helped to reduce the deficit, too.

On whom have those reductions most disproportionately fallen?

I'll give you a hint: It WASN'T the top 1-5%.

Which leaves the rest of us, mainly the poor, elderly, young, disabled and forgotten. Former Obot economist Jared Bernstein thoughtfully provided a list. It is fgar from exhaustive, but it is instructive. And the consequences have been painful and palpable, all over the country, where necessary services have been reduced or withdrawn altogether. Real people are being hurt. But for what?

Now, really, somebody, please 'splain to me why the Obots are BRAGGING about this, since it's 1) really a GOP "victory," and 2) been achieved on the backs of the most vulnerable citizens??

One correspondent said the Obots and Dims are using the "fact" to rebut GOPhux talking points. It's a rhetorical win for Prez. LowBar and the Dims.

So in order to "attack the right," what you do is do their bidding, and impose economic pain on the poor, disabled, elderly and young. To score a rhetorical point?

Izzat right?

I feel faintly ill. Excuse me, hippiez, whilst I throw up a little in my throat.

Monday, August 5, 2013

TBGO: David Frum Twists His Pearls


David Frum long-time, "serious" apologist for all excesses Republican, has finally had enough. They've gone too far. He's had enough. They'd better not push him any further:
America desperately needs a responsible and compassionate alternative to the Obama administration’s path of bigger government at higher cost. And yet: This past summer, the GOP nearly forced America to the verge of default just to score a point in a budget debate. In the throes of the worst economic crisis since the Depression, Republican politicians demand massive budget cuts and shrug off the concerns of the unemployed. In the face of evidence of dwindling upward mobility and long-stagnating middle-class wages, my party’s economic ideas sometimes seem to have shrunk to just one: more tax cuts for the very highest earners.....

I can’t shrug off this flight from reality and responsibility as somebody else’s problem. I belonged to this movement; I helped to make the mess. People may very well say: Hey, wait a minute, didn’t you work in the George W. Bush administration that disappointed so many people in so many ways? What qualifies you to dispense advice to anybody else?...

The conservative shift to ever more extreme, ever more fantasy-based ideology has ominous real-world consequences for American society. The American system of government can’t work if the two sides wage all-out war upon each other: House, Senate, president, each has the power to thwart the others. In prior generations, the system evolved norms and habits to prevent this kind of stonewalling. For example: Theoretically, the party that holds the Senate could refuse to confirm any Cabinet nominees of a president of the other party. Yet until recently, this just “wasn’t done.” In fact, quite a lot of things that theoretically could be done just “weren’t done.” Now old inhibitions have given way. Things that weren’t done suddenly are done.
Woody thinks this is pretty much self-serving codswallop.
Bullshit, iow...
The question Frum asks is: When did the GOP lose their shit?
The answer is: The GOP lost their shit in 1992, when a trailer-trash,  philandering, pot-smoking
, ex-hippie, no-class, good-ol' boy, deep South Bubba--with the help of a big-eared carnival barker from Texas who was too wealthy to shut up or to BE shut up--ousted the reigning Brahmin, the annointed successor to the Great Communicator. THAT really stung.

They'd ALMOST lost it in '76, but Carter had at least been an officer in the Navy, and was an Academy grad. And STILL they cheated him out, by negotiating with the Mullahs to forestall the"October surprise."

But Clinton? He made 'em plumb, stone, raving crazy.
Early in Clenis' regime, there were open rumors of military insurreection. Senior officers were openly disrespectful. He didn't reprimand any of 'em, and revealed his weakness. And that weakness became the weakness of the whole political schema. There was a vacuum, and the Bosses' boyz filled it.

Ya see: The Federal State has always existed on a sort of "gentleman's agreement. There were no actual enforcement devices to prevent what the Oligarchz and Plutocratz, through their designated political satraps and avatars in Congress, the GOPhux, did. Which was just to refuse, any longer, to "play fair," and observe the "rules." There was never any way to prevent thugs from taking over if they decided to do so. And they did.

It was as if one team at a baseball game decided to start playing tackle and swinging bats at players, not just the ball: You couldn't STOP 'em...

And there's no way to dislodge 'em, as long as they have the leverage. And I do not see that diminishing any time soon. I think folks who predict Dim gains in the House must be on shrooms. I'm not convinced the Dims can hold the Senate. 

The conservotard "blowback" is barely even visible, yet. There's more to come.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

TBGO: The Plot Sickens

Photo: Revolutionary Images

Woody sez: What coup plotters do, typically, first, is they capture the media. In banana republics, they do it with guerrillas, mortars and squad tactics; in civilized places, they do it with cash.

The design of the (entirely NON/post-partisan) Grasping Oligarchsz and Plutocratz, since the 1970s, at least, has been to actively poison the USer people against their "gummint", so that eventually (and pretty soon now, imho) the "people" will become so disgusted, and so contemptuous, and so weary, and so sick, and so revulsed by the idea of self-govt, and Public Sovereignty, and how messy and corrupt and debased it has become that they'll GLADLY hand it all (especially the Treasure and the Military) over to the CorpoRatz' boardrooms to manage for us, so"we" ay wash our hands of it all. Remember Raygoon's "Nine most feared words?": "I'm from the Govt and I'm here to help." He made it a fucking joke.

The attitudes WE evince in reply to each new affront and injustice proves the plan's WORKING wonderfully! Right on schedule.

I do NOT blame anyone, btw. The plan has been UNIVERSALLY supported and abetted by the lap-dog, wholly-owned press and media, 95% of which are owned by those very boardrooms, already. The people have been reliably trained, over more than 60 years to respond docilely to images and messages on flickering screens, no matter how abominable, and to dutifully repeat and expand the simple, 'moral' messages.

They made no secret of it, btw: You may find the template for all this in what is called the Powell Memorandum...

Friday, July 26, 2013

TBGO: God-Blighted

A recent piece on Alternet admonished atheists for being "jerks" about it. "I'm an atheist and I'm embarrassed. Not because I'm self-conscious about my convictions (lol, no), but because so many people insist on being such condescending dicks in the name of atheism." She (Lindy West?) remonstrates in the name of tolerance for people for whm their faith is their only hope, who have no other "choices," who have "nothing else."

I can sympathize...that is till I see something like this:

Tennessee Christians Say Majority Rule Gives Them The Power To Violate Rights Of Non-Christians (VIDEO)

and view the following:  
in which the issue is plastering "In God We Trust" across the entryway to the Nashville public couirt-house, in garish black-on-white letters a foot high. And the city fathers are quite delighted with the idea.

Okay, so the headline's a little hyperolic.

But: If it weren't for this sort of crap, you'd NEVER hear a word about "god" or religion from me or most other atheists. . It matters not the tiniest scintilla to us what kinds of silly delusions and superstitions the "faithful" harbor and cling to, as long as they keep them to themselves and don't try to impose them on anybody else (with the caveat that convincing a two- or three-year old to fear a vicious, vengeful, terrifying "God," before they've sussed out the tooth fairy, is text-book child abuse).

However, a line is crossed when the 'faithful' require those who do NOT "believe" to act and/or behave in ways which comport with their silly superstitions. This surpasses the ethic of "tolerance" and becomes theistic tyranny. I do NOT submit to such theistic twaddle. There I draw the line. When the faithful transgress it, they may expect me to behave "dickishly" if such behavior is required to turn back or rebuff such onslaughts of superstitious silliness...

Cuz it's that smugly patronizing attitude and the gratuitous holy horseshit like this that turns polite, silent, reticent, mind-our-own-business, mild-mannered, everyday atheists, like me, into the raving, furious, outraged, "dickish" sons of bitches the fuckloon Christoid fundies and other pious fucktards complain about. Shit like this is what happens when the theistic fucktards run things. Shit likes this makes me yearn for the Coliseum and hungry fucking lions.

So, a word for the whining, persecuted, god-blighted Christoids, the world's forst "persecuted" majority: shove a sloppy sock in these unctuous butt-wipes' pious cock-holsters, and those of the Robertsons, Hagees, Swaggarts, and your Louis Gomerts, and yer Michelle Bachmanns, and yer Rand Pauls, and the rest of your "prophetic" pimps, anytime they're fixing to spout off about "god's" will and the law of the land, and I PROMISE YOU: you won't hear another fucking PEEP from us Atheists about "God."

Unless you start with this shit again/still; then all bets are off...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

TBGO: A Plague of People

 worlds population
A piece appeared on HuffPo headlined: "David Attenborough Says Humans Are "A Plague on Earth" and Should Stop Breeding." He doesn't actually say that, but ya gotta sell papers. Attenborough is the foremost public naturalist in the mainstream media, and his opinions carry weight, but also become foils for the denialists, who accuse him of exaggeration and hyperbole.
I accuse him of nothing of the sort: I wrote the following in reply/agreement/accord.

What Woody seez:
Cancers grow in all species. Earth has us. Humanity is earth's cancer virus.

Cancer cells violate the order around them. They have no "right" to exist at the expense of the lives of their host. Humans forfeited their/our natural "rights" when they/we first separated, and then elevated them/ourselves and their/our concerns above those of the rest of "nature."

They/we selfishly created their own "domain." Our own light, heat, cool, on demand. They/we call it "second nature," civilization. Civilization, per se, set us on a path of growth for its own sake which, as Ed Abbey famously observed, is the "ideology of a cancer cell."

"Humanity" now is best understood as a microcosmic experiment testing whether "Life" can survive the "Self." The null hypothesis is in no danger, at the moment or foreseeably...


TBGO: Do The Hustle

Rush and O'Reilly: Race hustlers, Inc.
Woody sez: If there's such a thing as "race hustlers," it's Hannity, O'Reilly, Limbaugh, and the rest of the WHITE, rightard punditocracy.

"Racism" is NOT an individual failing. There are biased, prejudiced bigots in every group.

To be a racist, you have to have the power to use your bias, prejudice and bigotry to deny or deprive or diminish the availability and enjoyment of members of despised ("inferior") groups to their fair share of social goods, including equity, respect and dignity. Black people in Ummurka do not possess that power.

The problem is not Sharpton and Jesse Jackson or Cornel West. All they do is remind the White majority of its long-standing and on-going complicity in racism. Those reminders comprise "race hustling" in White, racist vernacular.

The problem is endemic, ineradicable, pervasive WHITE racism, going back the the 3/5s clause in the Constitution.

It's NOT fuukin rocket surgery, mijos...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

TBGO: Back, Troll! You Shall NOT Pass!


If you spend much time in Intertubez conversation, colloquy, or debate, you have probably heard or are otherwise aware of allegations that there are 'correspondents' on many popular pages who are actually paid disruptors who are reimbursed for highjacking threads in conversations the subjects of which reflect poorly on, or are not in the best interests of, their bosses. Such actors are called universally called "trolls." Though I've my own portmanteau term for 'em: "Trools," a combined form of "trolls" and  'tools."

My experience with such entities is of relatively ancient lineage. I took up internet jousting or fencing, if you prefer) when I left California for Louisiana, in the mid-80s, and couldn't surf anymore. That's when I started posting in news-groups in use-net.  Since then, in the process, I've detected a couple of tells which I'm happy to share, out of the goodness of my heart, but also because there is too much troolshit around a lot of "popular" and "trending" sites to be polite about it. Being nice to 'em takes too much time.

Lately, they've gotten better at disguise. They have figgered out how to appear plausible. And likable. They are "reasonable." They just wanna get along. They agree with you, while subtly twisting the frame. How 'bout dem Dodgers? They have great life-stories, families, lots of friends. Just the salt of the earth. Simply wonderful folks. 

 Or so it appears: However, it's worth remembering: On the Intertubez, you are only who you say you are.

 And, luckily, they still will tip their hands in fairly, reliably predictable ways. Their tactics are pretty easy to spot: For one, I'm sure they work together, usually in pairs. They'll be the two who agree with one another against the tenor of the group. And they have replacements who come in when a prior one has been "busted" and lost cred.  (I also think they have figgered out how to steal someone's f-book identity, so they can pose as someone utterly inoffensive, but I'm not sure about that.)

Such as:

 En Garde: To me one infallible "tell" of troolish intention is evidenced when the "suspect" correspondent offers blustery, truculent, obstinate resistance to providing links to sources they claim as support for their assertions. Ask them whom they're citing (a perfectly reasonable question) and their first line of defense will inevitably be to inform YOU that THEY aren't going to do YOUR research for you. 

Next, if pressed, they'll claim that YOUR unfamiliarity with the primary sources under discussion isn't THEIR fault, but a sign of your own scholarly ineptness. And they'll resolutely refuse to offer names, citations or links to their "research." A "real" scholar, they're likely to declare, does her or his OWN research.

Continue to call them on their refusal, and they get mean, accusing their interrogators of bullying or "hurtful talk," and of course, of ad hominem attacks on them, personally.
En Riposte: Having been at one point in my many careers a 'licensed' scholar (Ph.D., LSU, '89), I will say that, when asked for sources, a "real' scholar doesn't admonish their interrogator to "do their own research," or upbraid them for not being familiar with "primary sources." A real scholar has at least one very familiar reference right off the top of the head, can provide a dozen within 10 minutes, and will offer to do so.

If you're attentive, you too can prevent trool contagion and banish them whence they came:
"Back, Trool. Under Your BRIDGE!"

Sunday, July 14, 2013

TBGO: The Advantages of White Privilege

If nothing else, the Zimmerman trial is an object lesson in psychology, civics and juridical legerdemain; oh, yeah: ant of the real, serious, major-league advantages of being "white."

In Woody's humble opinion, which I formulated on the first day of the trial, right after the knock-knock joke, the "Zim" defense team was trying for what I call "a reverse Johnny Cochran" defense: Instead of a white vic and a black perp and a black jury, it was the other way around: Black vic, white perp, white jury. But the "strategy" was the same.

Cochran--who KNEW, along with everybody else in the whole fucking country, that his client was guilty as hell of MULTIPLE murder--got OJ off by turning the trial into a circus, and making a mockery of the process. He encouraged MASS "jury-nullification." He led the jury to indict the SYSTEM that had brought his client to trial, and convict IT, by letting his client go...

That was West's strategy, too, only in the obverse, with a "white" perp, a black victim and a White jury. His strategy was to make the charges SEEM ludicrous by putting the victim--who in this case was already presumed guilty by geographical and social location--on trial and DARING the jury to convict his client in a surreal reversal.

It worked...Which, in "court," is the ONLY thing that matters.

(Plus: If it had failed--never much in doubt, but still--there were irregularities enough to stimulate an appeal.)

Interestingly, in a not-unrelated incident (Florida, White perp, black vic), a gun-loon/cracker/asswhole pled "Not Guilty" to shooting a gun into a car full of noisy black kids and killing one, because their music was too loud and they dissed him when the TOLD them to turn it down. So he emptied his piece into the car, while his girl-friend was gettin smokes at the 7-11, and then just drove away.

I dunno where I first read it, a long, long, long time ago, but I think it still obtains: You can have "law," or you can have "justice," but rarely both.

My $.02.

Friday, July 12, 2013

TBGO: Submision

Rape and sexual assault have been "staples" of military culture for as long as there have been armies. This does not and should not excuse it, but should contextualize it.

The military is necessarily (in terms of the self-survival of the participants) harsh, murderous, remorseless. The defeated enemy's women have always figured in as among the most desirable "spoils of war." But warfare has, until fairly recently, been pretty much an exclusively male domain. Oomen have been warriors in innumerable insurrections but, until Israel, in the modern era, they were not sought by or admitted as soldiers.

Since women have joined the overwhelmingly still male ranks, they have fallen prey to attacks from their comrads. There has lately been a veritable flood of revelations and accusations about sexual assault and rape in the USer military services, mainly--though not exclusively--from women who have been assaulted, subject to harassment, even raped by their cohorts and comrads (and often superiors) in arms--and commanded either explicitly or by the weight of the institution to remain silent about it.

Congress is now holding hearings about the matter. Congresscrit Louise Slaughter has been a leading voice in the inquiry. In a piece on HuffPo on Friday she further lamented the state of the Military brass' reply to the problem, which has been--at BEST--disingenuous. As described in the article, "command" is advising victims to submit rather than risk injury. No word about reporting the assailant, however.

Because the Senior Brass has NOT THE SLIGHTEST INTENTION of bestowing on lower ranks the power to embarrass them "on a whim." So "reforms" have been partial, and glacial.

(Former Sgt.) Woody (USAF, 64-68) can tellya what'll work to impede and reduce sexual assaults in the military.

What's gonna work is prosecuting, convicting and sending to jail a WHOLE BUNCH of rapist and predatory NCOs and Officers. Make some examples. What do you think Bradley Manning's ordeal has been about?

This will have an additional, positive effect, in that it may make some vacancies in upper ranks, which women could then fill, to pursue matters further.

The military is a brutal culture.

It will respond only to lessons in kind.

TBGO: Why C*nt-hair Clancy's On The Court

Woody can tellya exactly why C*nt-hair Clancy's on the Court.
When Thurgood Marshall died, the civil/human rights "community" demanded that then Pres. GHW (Poppi) Bush appoint another black to his place. Poppi didn't much appreciate that kind of "uppitiness" from the lower orders. So he figgered he'd show 'em.
So Poppi looked around and found the most corrupt, craven, ignorant, co-opted, sold-out, self-hating/self-loathing Negro in the whole GOP and nominated him.
The Senate was nearly OBLIGED to confirm, even after his foibles and prejudices were revealed by Anita Hill and others; they couldn't REJECT a black nominee without evidence of "real" offenses.
So Clarence ("Coke-Can Pubes") Thomas became the SECOND "black" Justice of the SCROTES.
That's political hard-ball, GOPhux-style.



You may THINK the GOPhux are alienating the electorate, but Woody demurz.
I think the majority of white Murkins concurs with the GoPhux, though perhaps they won't say so, except in the voting booth. It's textbook racism, the "real" (that is, institutional) kind.
As unrepentant, unreflective racists, they are content to take a little hit to their own well-being as long as they are assured that those whom they despise as their inferiors take a BIGGER hit, or get NOTHING.
This is a particularly dastardly stratagem by the GOPhux, because it takes the SNAP program out of a long-term, modestly secure (til 2018) budgetary position, and makes it susceptible to the contemptible machinations of those GOPhux fuckers EVERY YEAR!
It virtually insures the continued immiseration of the poor, the disabled, the elderly and youth in poverty.