Vacant Sack

November 27, 2010

What is it about Sarah Palin that makes me want to beat my head against the wall? 

What it is I think is that some people take her seriously while others only pretend to take her seriously because she can really turn out a crowd comprised of those who take her seriously plus others who show up just to witness a train-wreck happening. The one’s who pretend to take her seriously are hucksters. For both them and Sarah there’s money in it, and for some, money is the most serious thing there is —way more serious than integrity.  But the Palin phenomena is more nuanced than that. 

For instance, on one level I don’t take her seriously at all.  On that level she’s a joke, a caricature, a lazy, willfully ignorant, self promoting, empty skull. On another level I take her dead-seriously.  On that level she’s a high-heeled empty bag —a well-disguised void into which the angry uninformed can fling their frustration and hopes and carry them through the next election into the White House in order to “get their country back”. What makes Palin serious is that charismatic empty bags have been stuffed before with anger and frustration and have gone on to take over Europe. One should not confuse a sack filled with nothing with one filled with transparent irrational potential. Make no mistake about it, transparent irrational potential is not nothing. The exterior voluptuousness that has had Pat Buchannan salivating and lolling his tongue out of his talking head since she popped onto the scene is simply a money-generating piñata stuffed with ignorance and disdain for knowledge, expertise, and intellect. To Palin and her followers such things spell e-l-i-t-e.  Busting that piñata would be like opening Pandoras box.  

Palin’s most recent shameless display of gibberish came during an interview with Glenn Beck (don’t get me started…) in which she misspoke and called North Korea our ally. This was certainly an innocent slip of the tongue, but PZ Myers’ observation at Pharyngula gets at the real problem with her remarks about the recent Korean crisis.  Myers says:

“I really think calling North Korea was nothing but an accidental slip of the tongue, but even without that, the totality of her comments are vacuous, simple-minded chit-chat. And this insipid person wants to be president?”

After making her gaffe on Beck’s radio show Palin went on to say,

“This is stemming from, I think, a greater problem when we’re all sitting around asking ‘Oh no, what are we gonna do,’ and we’re not having a lot of faith that the White House is gonna come out with a strong enough policy to sanction what it is that North Korea’s gonna do,” she said.

“So this speaks to a bigger picture here that certainly scares me in terms of our national security policies.”

She also said the United States should “remind North Korea, well, we’re not going to reward bad behaviour and we’re not going to walk away and we do need to press China to do more to increase pressure on that arena”.

I don’t know about you but I can imagine an 8th-grader coming up with that bullshit when backed into a corner by the teacher who asked for comments about last night’s homework.  The stumped 8th-grader and Palin make it up as they go seeding their answers with simplistic filler based upon the thinnest knowledge hoping they’ll pull it off and sound as if they knew what they were talking about. A kid might have gotten a reprimand for laziness.  Palin just gets, an interview on Fox, more money and another shot at the White House. 

There’s a lot of room for bad gas in a vacant sack.  It’s not something you want seeping out during a life-and-death policy debate.



Nature Doesn’t Do Bailouts

November 26, 2010

You think you were furious about bank bailouts after the big crash?  You ain’t seen nothing yet. While we toodle along in our we-can-burn-oil-&-coal-till-the-cows-come-home-without-a-care bubble, creating fire and spewing smoke to make our go go, nature is already warning us that in the not too distant future the cows may not come home, but our chickens will be ominously returning there to roost.  

See, unlike the government, nature doesn’t do bailouts. While we’ve been making huge CO2 deposits into her atmosphere bank without withdrawals, nature’s been tallying up and is starting to make pay-backs with interest, with no TARP-type backsies. As the people of Pompeii and Pakistan learned, nature is mercilessly non-homo-centric. In fact, it’s likely that in upcoming ecological events even the junk of Wall Street’s biggest chest-pounding homoerectus’ will wilt.

 Alluding to recent history, journalist Johann Hari puts it this way: “Before the Great Crash of 2008, the people who warned about the injection of huge destabilizing risk into our financial system seemed like arcane, anal bores. Now we all sit in the rubble and wish we had listened. The great ecological crash will be worse, because nature doesn’t do bailouts.”

In his article about the upcoming Cancun conference on global warming Hari says, “. . . Cancun should be about – surveying the startling scientific evidence, and developing an urgent plan to change course. The Antarctic – which locks of 90 percent of the world’s ice – has now seen eight of its ice shelves fully or partially collapse. The world’s most distinguished climate scientists, after recording like this, say we will face a three to six feet rise in sea level this century. That means the drowning of London, Bangkok, Venice, Cairo and Shanghai, and entire countries like Bangladesh and the Maldives.

“And that’s just one effect of the way we are altering the chemical composition of the atmosphere. Perhaps the most startling news story of the year passed almost unnoticed. Plant plankton are tiny creatures that live in the oceans and carry out a job you and I depend on to stay alive. They produce half the world’s oxygen, and suck up planet-warming carbon dioxide. Yet this year, one of the world’s most distinguished scientific journals, Nature, revealed that 40 per cent of them have been killed by the warming of the oceans since 1950. Professor Boris Worm, who co-authored the study, said in shock: “I’ve been trying to think of a biological change that’s bigger than this and I can’t think of one.” That has been the result of less than one degree of warming. Now we are on course for at least three degrees this century. What will happen?”

What will happen?

I’ll tell you what’ll happen. We’ll soon be wearing speedos in Antarctica and designer breathing aparatus and pontoons everywhere else. But for now we spew and dawdle and listen to money-and-power grubbing slugs like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh as if there’s no tomorrow, which may be the ironic existential case.

Via 3 Quarks Daily



From The Magic Monestary, by Indries Shah

“Never ask a fish if you want to learn anything about water.

A fish doesn’t even know water is there when  it’s present.  He just becomes agitated when it’s gone. When deprived of it a fish can’t fathom the problem, he just knows something’s really amiss.

There’s a fable about fish.  They say that when a fish is scooped from the water and lies on the bank gasping, he regards his misfortune as stemming from anything and everything he can think of.  Sometimes he fights, sometimes he gives up.  Sometimes he thinks he should fight the trees, the grass, even the mud, as the causes of his situation.  But it’s only by accident that he ever flips back into the water.  When he does he thinks how clever he has been.  Most often, however, he dies.

Fish never see the net or know the hook.  At best they blame the worm on the hook, the ropes to which the net is attached.

How sad to be a fish, how fortunate to be a man!”

 How sublime to bag tea.

Katie Couric: Name a Supreme Court Decision you’ve disagreed with other than Rowe Vs. Wade.
Sarah Palin:  “Well, let’s see. There’s – of course – in the great history of America rulings there have been rulings.” 

Kudlow & Company, CNBC:
discussion about what she would do as VP
Sarah Palin: “As for that VP talk all the time, I’ll tell you, I still can’t answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the VP does every day?”

Sarah Palin (on democratic government): “I’m the mayor, I can do whatever I want until the courts tell me I can’t.'”

Christine O’Donnell, Tea Party Candidate, Delaware:
“It’s not enough to be abstinent with other people . . . you also have to be abstinent alone . . . so you can’t masterbate…”

“Creationism, in essence, is believing that world began as the Bible in Genesis says, that God created the Earth in … six 24 hour periods. And there is just as much evidence (if you don’t count science), if not more . . . supporting that.”  Italics mine.

“We took the Bible and prayer out of public schools. Now we’re having weekly shootings.” O’Donnell doesn’t say anything about regular lynchings when they were reading the Bible and praying in schools.

“If he already knows what pleases him and he can please himself, then why am I in the picture.’ Which is an excellent question for her husband on more that pleasuring grounds.

Tea Party Buzzwords:
Socialism! Socialism!
Death Panels!
Socialism! Socialism!
Sharia Law!
Stimulus Plan!
Socialism! Socialism!
Gay rights.
Marriage equity.
Sex with dogs!
Socialism! Socialism!
Leftwing judicial activism!

Tea Party Non-buzzwords:
Private Insurance gouging!
Special rendition.
Science ignorance!
Facism! Fascism!
Plutocracy! Plutocracy!
Poverty in America.
More war!
Rightwing judicial activism!
Private insurance company death panels!
Indefinite incarceration.
Non-soveriegnty of women over their bodies!

And so it goes, as Vonnegut said.

Posted by Jim Culleny

Working Thier Mojo

November 12, 2010

—random thoughts on the status quo

It’s hard to tell if we’re at the midst of a permanent downtick
or just in the throes of what used to be labeled a bad trip
—or if “going-to-hell-in-a-bucket” is apropos

I’ve almost given up trying figure if there’s any hope up of an uptick
or if we’re finally holding the dry end of our dip sticks 
—it’s hard to imagine what future fuel will make our go go

I’ve just roughed-in a painting which seems to be-coming a triptych
you need at least that much room to paint anything apocalyptic
—the subject surpasses the margins when depicting a big blow

Bumblers are manning the helm of a fervently split ship
officers even are begging magicians to dream up some new trick
—but ruses of shamans just work for the moment they’re part of a mere show

One priest from Alaska looks good in high heels or mukluks and lipstick
she counts her cash on her dogsled after doing her populist us-versus-them shtick
—she quit her governor job when the circus offered her more dough

Seems the captain believes his opponents are innocent apparatchiks
not ass-lickers of lobbyists bent on perks in the form of some fat checks
—it’s as if  the chief’s being dipped in a bank of eye-ball deep snow

And here we are on the ground plowing through trying to manage to stay hip
in a media smoke-screen and stupor brought on by some very slick shits
—they’re engrossed hoarding wealth for themselves by working their mojo

The last will be first in the end while the first will be getting their wings clipped
so it says in the sayings of prophets condemned for not keeping their lips zipped
—but for now that just sounds like some bullshit distraction from the status quo

by Jim Culleny, 11/12/10

Banana & Bandana Republikans

November 10, 2010


Once upon a time in the wild west bandits with bandanas over their faces would gallop out of the hill, guns blazing, and rob the people’s money intended for the town banks.  Back then this was called highway robbery.  The bad guys were hung for this kind of stuff. 

Nowadays it’s called “extending the Bush tax cuts” and the bandits get bonuses.

Here’s how it’s done by Banada Republikans:

………..More here from Ezra line of the Wapo.


Greedy Love & Winged Pigs

November 10, 2010

Bob Dylan sang, “ . . . the time’s they are a-changin’”, and he was right despite the old saw: the more things change, the more they stay the same. In fact, times are changing so fast while staying the same I’m getting whiplash.

Looking around I see iPods and iPhones, life-zapping military drones and job-robbing robots which, in 1950 issues of Popular Science, suggested a future of leisure for the working class that would lead to more reality TV, less stress and not only the pursuit of happiness, but its certain capture and domestication. At the same time, though, I notice that the fundamental things that motivate homo sapiens are not much different today than those that motivated earlier eras — which (given the upped-ante of their global repercussions) has lead to far greater stress. What we still hoard and nurture –what gives us great continuity– are the age-old motivations of love and greed.

But every new generation likes to think it has an edge on uniqueness: Mine did. We expect change to be bouncing around in young minds, sometimes smashing furniture and busting plates. But change is a fascinating idea to the old as well; although the old have seen enough of it to know that change is ironically permanent.

Applied to politics, Elvin Lim of The Boston Globe says, “Change . . . is a lyrical and seductive tune.”

Why wouldn’t it be? When things head south, when a lousy status quo just won’t go, we feel the need to shake things up. This has happened now in two successive American elections. The first promised change and the latest promised to change change. Why? Because in the first we apparently wanted change, but in the second we apparently wanted to change change. It’s the way we are: thoughtless, fickle and sometimes impatient and arbitrary. It’s what happens when we go to those bedrock, fundamental places of love and greed: we want what’s good for our loved ones more than we want it for anyone else’s. 

This time around the ugliness of greedy-love showed up in a third party movement of frustration about change; not so much change itself, but the kind and pace of change. It was xenophobic (they’re stealing our jobs!), self-interested (don’t mess with my health insurance or my Medicare), ironic and hypocritical (socialism is of the Devil except for my Social Security and Medicare), myopically exclusive (anti-gay and, in large part, anti-any-religion-but-Christianity) and tinged with racism.  This new party is the party of blatant  me-first-you-later (if at all) change.   It’s a very free-market conception of change.

Everyone knows change can be a dangerous thing, which is why governments drag their feet when it comes to change. In the long (and prudent) run (unless you’re holding the wrong end of the status quo) this might not be a bad thing. As a matter of fact, the very thing we’ve been hating about our government — gridlock — is the very thing intended by our founders. Well, maybe not gridlock, but at least a deliberate, slug-paced procession. If the Constitution has anything to say about it, this past election will not bring about radical change any more that the last one did.

As Lim says, “To listen to the victory speeches delivered . . . last week, one might . . . believe that change is in the air again . . . But anyone counting on a radical transformation . . . should steel themselves for another round of heartbreak come January.”

Why, you ask? “Because,” says Lim, “our governmental system was designed to prevent seismic change from happening.”

Lim suggests our system favors incremental change by conscious design. He adds that “ 220 years of history, so far, suggest that that has been a very good thing indeed.”

What we have is an intentionally inefficient system of shared power that pits one branch against another to work against radical change. So we can curse or applaud Madison, Adams, Jefferson and the whole Constitutional Convention, depending upon the bias and intesity of our greedy-love. The system we have is the one they gave us. It’s based upon a fundamental document that operates against quick, fundamental change: one that works against the fickle passions of greedy-love.

But the fly in the ointment is Lim’s line that suggests 220 years of history has been a good thing . . . so far.  Maybe, but the bug in our founders’ program is that they never faced global warming, a deeply integrated and interdependent global economy, religious zealots with vest-bombs and access to nuclear states, predator drones, the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, and the lightning speed of global electronic communication in general. It’s the “so far” part that makes me flinch and wonder if a snail-paced, factionalized, us-first government representing a greedy-love constituency is up to the kind of change we all don’t really know if we want.

Considering government’s systemic foot-dragging, maybe a good place to focus on change is personally, in our fundamental inclination. What if we dropped the greed part of greedy-love, leaving us with fundamentally inclusive and positive disposition? Maybe a change like that would trickle up and unclog the sludge of government.

What if pigs had wings?

by Jim Culleny, 11/6/10
for The Shelburne Falls Independent