Watching the slow-motion train wreck of an economic system collapse unfold

Watching the slow-motion train wreck of an economic system collapse unfold
click pic to reminisce

Ha-Ha! Charade You Are  

Posted by howard in nyc

Supercommittee hard at work

Some days you're the boot
And some days you're the can.

A polite reminder to my friends and correspondents who last summer insisted that the budget negotiations and debt ceiling 'crisis' was extraordinarily important.  And that I was misguided in ignoring the drama, characterizing the political posturing of Obama and the congress to be a bad joke and not worthy of my attention.
 You can guess what I am thinking today.  Rest assured, I am not so rude as to say it outloud.




It was easy for me to understand this at the time, last summer.  Because they are pig men and women.  They know nothing else, than to act in their own selfish interest.  To serve banks.  Not us.

Big Man
Pig Man
Ha Ha!
Charade you Are!

And It's One-Two-Three-What are we fighting For?  

Posted by howard in nyc

I kinda miss the good ol' days when we fought and died for oil.

Walk of Shame  

Posted by howard in nyc in , , ,

 Video above:  Hundreds of UCD students silently look on, as Chancellor Katehi ends her occupation of the small classroom building on campus near The Silo



An Open Email to Linda P. B. Katehi, PhD (or EngD?  sorry, i'm not sure)
Chancellor, University of California, Davis

Dear Dr. Katehi:

Your public statement issued Sunday morning November 20, 2011 included the following sentences:

"I am deeply saddened that this happened on our campus, and as chancellor, I take full responsibility for the incident. However, I pledge to take the actions needed to ensure that this does not happen again."

Here are three simple, essential actions you can take immediately, that are the best possible insurance that this indeed does not happen again.

1) Fire the Chief of UC Davis Police Annette Spicuzza.  Immediately.  For cause.
 
2) Telephone the Yolo County District Attorney, Jeff Reisig.  Ask that he immediately investigate the battery attack with chemicals upon a dozen of your students.  Strike that 'ask'.  Insist.  Demand.  Promise full cooperation from your office, from the UC Davis police department, and promise that his investigation will not be interfered with nor obstructed.

3) Resign.  So that you will never again be able to cause this to happen.

If this seems too much, that's ok.  Just skip to #3. 

That is the single action that is needed from you to best insure this will never happen again.  The truth of this is obvious to everyone but you.

You will serve the university better by submitting your resignation than by forcing Governor Brown and the citizens of California to fire you.  Either way, you are finished as Chancellor.  You are going to leave, very soon.  Unlike your actions on Friday, you can today do the right thing.

I am gratified you have accepted full responsibility for the incident.  I am further gratified by your pledge to take action.  Unfortunately, that responsibility now requires that you to resign your position. 

Sincerely

Howard in New York
UC Davis student, 1974-1977
Member of Davis, California Community, 1967-present
Aggie for Life.

decaying into a police state  

Posted by howard in nyc in ,

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever.
~George Orwell, 1984

 
All photos courtesy of www.adbusters.org
The process is sadly well under way.  And I am throwing in the towel on the American people for ushering in the police state.  I’m not going to bother cataloging all the recent behavior, authoritative use of violence, lying rhetoric, or even to define what is a police state.  The line of events, from the patriot acts, the department of homeland security, the groping of children and senior citizens at airports, the wiretaps, rendition and torture, the expansion of wars and assassinations, up to the suppression of Occupation Wall Street protests, are part of the historic record.  As is the blatant serial betrayal and misuse of trust, granted the political leaders and perversely twisted against us, most obviously with wars and bailouts, as prequel to the inevitable misuse of trust in the police state the public had granted, and will have used against them down the future line.  No police state in history has ever acted otherwise, and the American one will not be the first.

A police state in the USA can only take hold with the acquiescence of the people.  That prerequisite has been met. Most recently reconfirmed with the acceptance of police violence in several cities, inflicted upon OWS protesters.  Acceptance being the absence of tens of thousands of citizens in the streets, demanding arrest and prosecution of the police officers who committed violence.  But like the bankers, mortgage brokers and other criminals, these have gone un-investigated and uncharged.  The number of American people demanding justice is miniscule.

My former comfortable conclusion that America could never become a police state did not rest on naiveté or swallowing myths from school days.  It rested on what I saw as I moved from youth into middle age; recurrent, consistent evidence of the American citizen's love of personal freedom and intolerance for encroachment upon that freedom.

For example, back when the Clintons were selling their health care run by the insurance industry scheme.  (Btw, where the Clintons failed, the insurance companies won.  They run the show completely, and pocket billions in profits each quarter.)  Anticipating developing technologies, the government planners hatched a plan for a health care information and coverage card.  It would be like a social security card; it would be your 'proof of insurance', provided by the government, and it would a few years later be able to carry all your essential medical history on this credit-card type document.

People hated it.  Overwhelmingly. So rapid and fierce the objection by the masses, the republican opposition didn't even have time to get in front of the issue for political points.

A couple of pundits recognized the reason this idea was so abhorrent to ordinary Americans.  They saw this would be a de-facto national identity card. Identity papers.  Something routinely carried and produced on demand by authorities in most western democracies.  But not the USA, dammit.

Deep in the gut of the typical American was a rejection of the concept of a national id card.  Despite the ubiquity of the social security number used for identification, how many people actually carry their card?  How often is the card itself demanded?

But that gut feeling has eroded.  Slowly, insidiously.  The zeitgeist of the American people is completely different than just a few years ago, regarding the equation of security and liberty.  (An equation, which as ben franklin promised, never ever balances.)  In the early stages of that change, I thought it impossible to go much further.  But further it did.

Things today are way fucking different.

People are cool with government wiretaps.  People are cool with any and all manner of anti-terrorist action.  Even torture.  People are cool with mass violence and death in the deserts above oil fields far from here.  And now, people are cool with mass numbers of riot police to quash peaceful protest, dissent and free speech.  For complete bullshit reasons (sanitation; curfews and time limits numbered in weeks; hurting small businesses and normal commerce; any other crap Bloomberg’s lawyers come up with).

The tolerance of stupid failed wars, so many historians and philosophers have told us, goes hand-in-glove with acceptance of decreased domestic rights.  Now we are seeing this linkage for ourselves.

Real men don't pull hair
We still enjoy a tremendous degree of personal freedom in the United States.  Setting aside the economic aspects of freedom, the necessity for some degree of economic security for personal freedom to have any meaning, we still have it damn good.  If you compare our liberty to that of the rest of the world, today or looking back in history.

But, our standard is our own history.  Our own recent history.  Most of the current government infringements on our free expression and movement are small and subtle.  But the direction is steady, and the movement is gaining momentum.  Not in a good way.  While the quantity of perceived freedom for the masses of Americans has eroded only slightly, even a hurricane announces itself with but a few raindrops and a moderate wind gust.

The riot-gear clad cops are dispatched not just for drug busts.  Not just for 'riots'.  But for small, peaceful protests.  Frequently for the purpose of intimidation, nothing more or less.  Airport security is engaged in behavior control, ham-handed enforcement of unquestioning obedience, having nothing to do with stopping a terrorist bomb.  Now, tactics of the powers-that-be include centrally planned suppression of the OWS movement. Possibly by the justice department/department of homeland security themselves

But the escalation of police and security acts against the populace is only the symptom.  The sickness is the acceptance of the creeping police state.  The people are cool with it, by and large.

There is exactly one force and one force alone that can stop or reverse the erosion of freedom by authorities.  The people.  The masses of people.  Because left to their own devices, those in power will always choose control over freedom.  And they have been left to their own devices too much for too long.

The suckers who still vote had no trouble re-electing all the clowns who extended the patriot act.  Even so-called 'tea party' candidates who liked the idea of government security powers, voted 'yes' and got returned to congress.  The percentage of people who are not troubled by squads of riot-gear clad thugs swinging batons on peaceful protesters.  That is what counts.  That is the one and only way the police state growing and festering in the United States of America can possibly continue.
If the American people allow it.

Well, the American people are doing far worse than passively allowing the police state to grow.  They are actively approving the suppression of OWS.  Not just a few Americans.  Millions.  Fucking millions.  Maybe even a majority.
Approving the use of riot cops.  Applauding.  Happy with the fact, while befuddled why anyone (like me,) would be disturbed, would think bulldozing the encampments are a big deal.

I never thought Americans would nod approvingly at the things that are commonplace today.  I don't understand why this change in the American psyche came about, even though I have closely and carefully watch it happen.  It makes me sad.

Yes. A fucking tank.  At an 'Occupy' protest.
I suppose comfort and freedom from troubling thoughts has become so necessary to my fellow citizens, that rampant consumer consumption wasn't enough to satisfy the need for comfort.  Order, routine and security from discomfort became more important than rights long ago taken for granted.  Quaint rights like freedom of assembly, of speech, of religion (if you are a Muslim in downtown new york and own a building), to carry a gun, to not be stopped and frisked, rights that people delusionally believe will only be infringed upon for 'other people'; the criminal, the 'terrorist', the political loon or extremist.  Rights people cannot imagine being denied for them.  Completely disconnected in their mind from a little feel-up at the airport, or having to show ID papers to walk down a particular street.

People are more infatuated with stomping on the rights of 'others' who are deemed undesirable, than they are in love with rights for everybody.  They think their personal rights are immune.

Heh.  They got a nasty surprise coming.

So many people wonder how the civilized, politically aware German population allowed the change in their society ushered in by the Nazis from 1933-'39.  Fuck, we Americans of 2011 are so much worse than the German people.  So much worse.  Empty of any common sense or insight regarding the freedom that is the lifeblood of our nation.

By 1933, Germany had suffered their humiliating defeat of 1918; economic privation as a result of the peace treaty; a crippling hyperinflation and currency failure in 1923; ten years of economic depression before The Great Depression even started. Year by year, things went from horrible to much worse; a decade of escalating political violence, deadly violence, on the streets of major cities, political assassinations numbering in the tens of thousands.  And that violence was not monopolized by the rising brown shirts; communists, socialists, monarchists, police forces, private militias, public militias were all shooting and killing one another in the streets.

Hard to blame a people drained by fifteen years of unemployment, economic depression, a failed money system, and blood literally running in the streets, that they were willing to trade a few freedoms in return for some long-denied security.

What’s our fucking excuse?

Traffic was backed up on one day for a big protest march?  Those dirty hippies have taken over one of a hundred parks in your city?  Shit, the cost of police overtime is at least a rational concern when your city is already borrowing to pay pensions and salaries and keep services operating.  And you can be forgiven asking the next question, 'are so many cops working overtime really needed to watch those OWS campers, after a few weeks of peacefully just sitting there'?

Exactly what are you getting in return for allowing (or cheering) the violent suppression of protest by riot cops?

Comfort.  Routine.  Not having your normal evening news entertainment 22 minutes punctuated with people saying and doing weird things and drumming.  That’s all.

Bad trade, America.  There hasn't even been a real riot.  A few broken windows in Oakland; one cop in NYC gets hit in the hand with a piece of glass, and three others are splashed in the face with vinegar.  That is it.  And crass attempts to crush dissent, completely illegally, in complete violation of the letter and the spirit of the bill of rights and hundreds of court rulings over the year, all cool.  No problem, in fact, I’m glad my mayor put things back to normal.

Heh.  The turning upside down of the rule of law in the USA had been just some people are immune to the law, and can steal billions. While the rest of us suffer irrational punishment for petty theft or possession of a joint.  Now, people completely in compliance with the law, and following police commands are arrested and charged.  Not just upside down, but completely twisted and distorted.  Of course a police captain is not charged with assault when he pepper-sprays two women doing exactly as they are told; but they are charged with resisting, disturbing, hell, they'll probably have to pay for the pepper spray.

Whether OWS fades away (I doubt it) or grows and thrives (I think likely for several months, but the suppressors will just ramp up their violence and bullshit) is not what I am talking about.  Irrelevant.

The quiet acceptance by millions of Americans (and active approval by millions more Americans) of the suppression of political dissent, with violence, has convinced me.  The decay into a police state is not gonna stop.  A done deal.  I’m crying 'uncle'; throwing in the fucking towel; invoking the mercy rule; no mas, por favor.

Hope he earned another green ribbon for this bit of detective work
It doesn't matter what your personal definition of a 'police state' may be.  A reasonable definition can be applied today, and has been by some friends and pundits.  Doesn’t matter.

Even if the economic catastrophe hits this Monday morning, and causes the slumbering masses of America to wake up and smell the reality, it is too late.  The mentality of the American people has already allowed the advancement on the road to a police state to go too far.   The trend toward sacrificing freedom for the (bullshit) promise of security can't be reversed or undone by anything short of millions of people in the street in opposition.  And those millions ain't gonna take to the streets until they are starving; and that battle will be unnecessarily more difficult and more bloody because we let the enemy arm themselves so well (on our dime).  And gave them ample time to practice.

Sure, I can still write this, without risking arrest and punishment today.  We ain't there yet by my definition.  But that dude who the other day said out loud what a Molotov cocktail can do to a crowded Macy’s store wouldn't have been arrested and punished for those exact words in the exact same context ten years ago.  A 2004 protest of a hundred thousand people in New York City against the Iraq war or the republican convention was met with less violence than an encampment of 200 people in 2011.  Shit has changed significantly, rapidly, and irreversibly.  Until people wake up.

And folks are still sound asleep.

November Jeopardy! Challenge  

Posted by howard in nyc

Monday 11/28
Category: 16th CENTURY NAMES
Clue: In 2010, 467 years after his death, this man at odds with The Church was reburied with honors at a Polish cathedral
Answer:  Who was Copernicus? 
 

Tuesday 11/29
Category: TOYS
Clue: Invented in 1943, this toy was flung over tree branches by soldiers in Vietnam & used as a makeshift radio antenna

Answer:  What is Slinky, it's Slinky, the wonderful marvelous toy? 

Wednesday 11/30
Category: ORGANIZATIONS
Clue:  On Nov. 17, 1871 Union vets dismayed by soldiers' lack of proficiency in one skill formed this organization

Answer:  What is the National Rifle Association ?  cold dead hands, bitches.


Monday 11/21
Category:  MOVIE CHARACTERS
Clue: 900 years old when he died, he spoke in OSV syntax, object-subject-verb

Answer:  Who is Yoda ? Stupid your argument is; the fuck shut up you must.
 

Tuesday 11/22
Category:  U.S. MONEY MATH
Clue:  Adding up the denominations of circulating bills with U.S. presidents on the front gives you this total
Answer:  What is $78 ? fucking bullshit.  the two dollar bill should not count.  1,2,5,20 and 50; $10 (hamilton) and $100 (franklin) were not presidents. 

Wednesday 11/23
Category:  AMERICAN WOMEN
Clue: Geraldine Doyle, who in 1942 took a job at a Michigan metal factory, helped inspire the look & job of this iconic character
Answer:  Who is 'Rosie the Riveter ?

Thursday 11/24
Category:  PSYCHOLOGY TERMS
Clue: This 2-word term has its origins in a hostage-taking that followed the botched 1973 Norrmalmstorg bank robbery

Answer:  What is the "Stockholm Syndrome"?

Friday 11/25
Category:  MODERN AMERICAN NOVELS
Clue: The title of this 1981 Pulitzer Prize winner comes from a Jonathan Swift line about how lesser minds unite to oppose genius

Answer:  What is A Confederacy of Dunces (by John Kennedy Toole)

Monday 11/14
Category: THE PRESIDENTIAL CABINET
Clue: 7 women have been the secretary of this, the most for any department in the president's cabinet
Answer:  What is Labor  ? 
 

Tuesday 11/15
Category: 19th CENTURY POETRY
Clue: He wrote, "He looked upon the garish day with such a wistful eye; The man had killed the thing he loved, & so he had to die"

Answer:  Who was Oscar Wilde  ? 

Wednesday 11/16
Category: INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS
Clue:  Still in existence, it began in 1688 in a British coffee shop popular with maritime folk; it soon got involved in their business
Answer:  What is 'Lloyds of London' ?

Thursday 11/17
Category: HISTORIC DOCUMENTS
Clue: It's the shorter, better known name of the document "United States - Vietnam Relations, 1945-1967"
Answer:  What are 'The Pentagon Papers' ?

Friday 11/18
Category:  ACTOR-DIRECTORS
Clue:   It's rare to get Oscar nominations for Best Director & Best Actor for the same film; he is 1 or the 2 who did it twice

Answer:  Who is (Clint Eastwood or Warren Beatty)?  Unforgiven/that stupid damn boxing movie, and Heaven Can Wait/Reds.


Monday 11/7
Category: FROM THE GREEK
Clue: The word for a song element you won't find in instrumentals comes from the name of this instrument
Answer:  What is the 'lyre' ? root of the word 'lyrics'
  


Tuesday 11/8
Category: 18th CENTURY AUTHORS
Clue: In a poem he named himself Cadenus, an anagram of decanus, or "Dean"
Answer:  Who was Jonathan Swift ? 

Wednesday 11/9
Category: FRENCH HISTORY
Clue:  She said, "I told my plans to no one. I was not killing a man, but a wild beast that was devouring the French people"
Answer:  Who was Charlotte Corday ? (the killer of Jean-Paul Marat, Jacobin leader of one of the nasty parts of the french revolution)

Thursday 11/10
Category: HOLLYWOOD HISTORY
Clue:  They were the first 2 sisters ever nominated for the same acting oscar in the same year
Answer:  Who were Joan Fontaine and Olivia DeHavilland? 

Friday 11/11
Category: BUSINESS
Clue:  A 2005 sale of 14,159,265 shares prompted the headline "Google Offers Shares, Seeks Global Piece of" this

Answer:  What is "Pi" ?  come on, what the fuck jeopardy?


i am marking myself wrong for spelling.  i guessed 'pie' because i couldn't make sense of the clue.  we can discuss if there is not an immediate consensus.




Tuesday 11/1
Category:  CHILDREN'S LIT
Clue:  This classic book begins, "The pretty little swiss town of Mayenfeld lies at the foot of a mountain range"

Answer:  What is "Heidi" ?  which is the swiss word for 'raiders score twice late to win'

Wednesday 11/2
Category:  WORLD CITIES
Clue: A member of the Hanseatic League, this city with a 4-letter name was once known as the "Paris of the Baltic"

Answer:  Where is Riga? (Latvia)


Thursday 11/3
Category:  COUNTRIES' HIGHEST PEAKS
Clue:  These 2 nations, one an island, have highest peaks with the same name; the also share a common European culture

Answer:  Where are Greece and Cyprus?


Friday 11/4
Category:  NOTABLE GROUPS
Clue:  Harpo Marx was among this group when it met in NYC's Rose Room for its final time, in 1943, & found there was nothing left to say

Answer:  What was the Algonquin Round Table ?