“. . . push aside the needy in the gate. . .”

Boy, do I have a Ponzi scheme for you!

Boy, do I have a Ponzi scheme for you!

My dad was 78 years old when Bill Clinton was elected President.

Dad had an interesting take on that election. He was glad the unprincipled socialist Democrats had won. That meant when the Republicans ousted them, the GOP would have a mandate to get the country back on track because people would be tired of the insanity.

He was not surprised Bill Clinton was caught in a sex scandal and all the side-circuses that went along with it. He was, however, dumbfounded at the invasion of Iraq by the Republicans a short six years later. Barack Obama was the only Democrat he voted for in 19 elections. He cast his last vote for President in 2008.

I’m less than two months from my 70th birthday, as anyone who knows me or reads my stuff knows. I’m quite vocal about it. I’m going to have the party to sum up all parties. January 3, 2015. Mark your calendar. I’ve voted for president 11 times. I’ve never (and, if I continue to vote, can’t imagine that I ever will) voted for a Republican. That means I’ve voted for the winner only 5 times. Yes, but for the loser only 6—a much better ratio than my father.

Just as my father was glad the unprincipled socialist Democrats took over the government in 1992, I’m glad the Republicans won both houses of Congress this week. I hope they keep that majority and win the Presidency in 2016.

That will hasten the day when the poor and the lower middle classes and the hand-wringing ineffectual “liberals” or “progressives” or whatever we call them these days actually band together to throw the Kochs and the Waltons and Karl Rove and such people out of power.

“Let them eat cake.”

When the American people (at least those who know that the whole system has been taken over by the snobs—the Lexus-driving, sushi-eating, materialistic rich and wannabees) come to their senses and realize that the myth of the American Dream applies only to those whose parents already dreamed the American Dream, they will rise up. This is not sour grapes or incitement to riot. The rising up probably won’t take place in my lifetime, but David Koch’s disingenuous (well, no, it’s worse than that—it’s hypocritical lying) insistence that we throw out our social contract and let everyone get rich will eventually be seen for what it is: using his enormous INHERITED wealth to move the political system to protect his enormous INHERITED wealth. If I had INHERITED a billion dollars, I’d want you all to keep your grubby hands off of it, too.

Me, for President

Me, for President

I know a brilliant, handsome, talented member of a college football team who—as you have already guessed because it has become a cliché of American life—is an African American who was recruited by the Division I college football programs when he was in high school. The high school from which he graduated was not the same one he had attended his first years in public secondary school.

It was, as he told me, “A white school.” In fact, it was the crème de la crème of the white schools—a private school that gave him a $50,000 scholarship to attend and play on its undefeated football team. He also had to work a total of 420 hours for the school during his senior year mowing lawns, washing windows, and cleaning up after his classmates in the cafeteria. He was one of a half dozen black students in the same situation.

His purpose in submitting to that humiliation was to insure that he received at least one year of education of high enough quality to enable him to enroll in college. The “black high school” he would have attended would not have provided enough background learning no matter how hard he worked.

Washing windows and cleaning up after his peers, he said, he learned that, without a college football scholarship to get him to college, he’d work that way the rest of his life. His forced labor taught him both humility and anger.

“Let them eat cake,” Alice Walton says.

Give them an hourly wage that doesn’t quite pay their bills, and then let those who are a little better off pay taxes to provide the millions working for her with food stamps to buy their cake. But for God’s sake, don’t give them health insurance. Let the middle class folks pay for their health care in expensive emergency rooms, or just let them die.

All in the name of the capitalist American Dream. It’s working for Alice Walton and David Koch, so why shouldn’t it work for those of us who didn’t inherit a billion dollars?

Our elected leaders have bought into the scam, the Ponzi scheme that is our government. Or, rather, Alice and David have spent so much money convincing so many of the people who are eating cake that they, too, can be rich that they have elected men (almost all straight—presumably—white men) who are willing to sell their public trust in order to cash in on a few of the crumbs Alice and David are willing to throw.

My football-playing acquaintance is working harder than you or I or Alice or David ever have or ever will work to succeed both athletically and academically because he knows if his dream of playing in the NFL doesn’t work out, he will need some other way to survive. And he doesn’t want to clean up after you in restaurants all his life. (He is, by the way, one of the tiny, tiny percentage of young men trapped in his situation who probably has the skill for his dream to come to fruition.)

So in 2016, if I vote, I will probably vote for Ted Cruz for President. Because I think that may be the only way to hasten the day when justice will roll down.

I hate it when someone quotes the Bible to tell me I’m filthy and going to hell because I have sex with men instead of women. So I really do wish there were another way to say this. But since most people in this country believe that the God of Israel inspired the life that Alice and David want us to provide them with, I will remind you that one of the prophets who most closely (apparently) predicted what would happen to the people of ancient Judea said some pretty scary things about the American
Dream. From the fifth chapter of Amos:

Therefore, because you trample on the poor
and take from them levies of grain,
you have built houses of hewn stone,
but you shall not live in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
but you shall not drink their wine.
For I know how many are your transgressions,
and how great are your sins—
you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
and push aside the needy in the gate. . .
Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the Lord:
In all the squares there shall be wailing;
and in all the streets they shall say, ‘Alas! alas!’
They shall call the farmers to mourning,
and those skilled in lamentation, to wailing;
in all the vineyards there shall be wailing,
for I will pass through the midst of you,

says the Lord.

Take away from me the noise of your songs;
I will not listen to the melody of your harps.
But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

Let them earn a real living. Forget the cake (or the wonderful art museum in Arkansas, or the Cancer research center at MIT).

In the white high school

In the white high school

“. . . ye, who toil along the climbing way, with painful steps and slow. . . “

San Diego Food Bank, 2013

San Diego Food Bank, 2013

We go through life ignoring the major part of what we see and hear. If you couldn’t filter out the sounds you’re not specifically listening for, you’d hear the din. And if you’re driving down the street and can’t focus your eyes on the path ahead instead of taking in the entire panorama, everyone else on the road better be doing more than defensive driving.

I’ve often taught “music appreciation” classes with the goals of making listening to music consciously enjoyable for the students and helping them understand something of the history of musical style and the place of music in various cultures.

I always include lessons in singing various kinds of melodies—from medieval chant to folksongs to popular songs, to opera arias (anyone can sing a couple arias from Carmen). One of my favorite ways to teach such music is to help students hear dissonances and understand that in tonal Western music, dissonances propel melodies forward because they are set up with chord progressions and they resolve into other chord progressions. Dissonances are to music what “and,” “but,” “so,” “however,” “therefore,” “because,” “even so,” and hundreds more words are to language. Most English teachers call them “transition” words—if they mention them at all. I think, rather, they are “connection” words.

Because the Congress is useless” is not a complete thought. It’s a fragment—even though everyone knows what I mean and agrees with it. The bolded words are like dissonances in music—they make the writing complex and interesting, and they propel the ideas forward by connecting them together. Of course the “because” clause here is a fragment because it is not connected to anything (somewhat like the Boehner/Cruz Congress).

Connect musical ideas and make them interesting—that’s what dissonances do in tonal music. And, like the connecting words in writing and speech, they are so integral a part of our musical patterns that we hardly notice them or know what they are. I’d say—because I’m an elitist and a snob—most people would tell you they don’t like dissonant music. That’s tantamount to saying they don’t like music. Period. All music is (to some degree) dissonant. “Row, row, row your boat” isn’t. “Happy Birthday” has hung on as a cultural icon because it has one crucial dissonance—at the point where we stick in the celebrant’s name. A sort of mellow dissonance, but dissonance all the same, the dissonance for which the song exists, both musically and textually.

Unemployment line, Olympia, Washington, 2013

Unemployment line, Olympia, Washington, 2013

Take the Christmas carol “It Came upon a Midnight Clear,” one of those so ubiquitous this time of year that it might be said to be part of the collective unconscious of the entire English speaking (Christian) world. But a Muslim student told me once it was her favorite Christmas carol.

The standard accompaniment for the tune has dissonances (some so harsh that, if most people heard them in isolation, they would say they were noise) at the bolded words:

It came upon the mid –night clear, that glo –rious song of old; from an –gels bend –ing near the earth to touch their harps of gold. Peace on the earth, good will toward men, from hea –ven’s all gra –cious King. The world in sol emn still –ness lay to hear the an –gels sing.

This little chart does not include the greatest dissonance—the complete change of “key” at “Peace on the earth, good will toward men. . .” It’s almost as if for one sentence in her essay, a tenth-generation American English-speaking student wrote in Arabic for no reason other than to spice up her writing.

I would not try to teach this tune to a group of Russian émigré students again for anything. It’s impossible to comprehend if you didn’t hear it in utero. I know. I tried it once at Bunker Hill Community College.

But the overwhelming problem with the carol—the reason almost no one knows more of the words than the first stanza—is the shockingly harsh dissonance of the words. They are not, like well-constructed dissonance in music, prepared for. They strike out of nowhere and leave the singer horrified. They are not what Christmas, or any other materialistic, capitalism-praising holiday can be about. Members of Congress, for example, cannot—could not, if they ever got beyond the pabulum of the first stanza—believe their ears upon hearing these words. But don’t go feeling all self-righteous about that. If we could believe our ears, Congress would be made up of a much different sort of people, that is, not so much like us.

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way, with painful steps and slow,
Look now, for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road, and hear the angels sing.

For lo, the days are hast’ning on, by prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever circling years comes round the age of gold
When peace shall over all the earth its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world send back the song which now the angels sing.

Nope, we don’t even hear the dissonance in that. It’s a hymn to, a prayer for, social justice. No member of Congress is bending low beneath life’s crushing load. Most of us aren’t either. But more and more of us are as the wealthy friends of Congress store up for themselves more and more of the stuff that makes people secure, such as food and clothing and health care and shelter (connecting words bolded).

I don’t know who the angels are these days. But they will eventually arrive. And when they do, those who rest beside the weary road will be able to send back the angels’ song of peace. If you can’t hear that, if it’s too dissonant for you, perhaps you need a course in music appreciation. Or ethical and socially responsible thinking and behavior. As opposed to unthinking militant christianism and capitalism.

I don’t know. Sermon over.

I need seven singers – or a conspiracy theory, whichever comes first (Singers, sign up below!)

It takes a conspirator to know a conspirator?

It takes a conspirator to know a conspirator?

December 7th, “the date that will live in INFAMY!”

That sentence is one that I use regularly to demonstrate to students how the careful use of one word can change not only the meaning but the import of a sentence.

FDR’s first draft of his speech asking Congress to declare war on Japan after Pearl Harbor began with the sentence (he wrote it himself, by the way), “. . . a date that will live in history.” Big deal.

Don’t all days live in history?

We don’t have a record of FDR’s thought process—my guess is there wasn’t one, that he knew it had to change because he had studied communications at the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU, and they teach people how to be effective—in changing “history” to “infamy,” thereby making the speech one that lives in history.

Teach people to be effective? Baloney. People with degrees in communications know how to follow trends, how to use tools, how to make money selling stuff, but no one—let me repeat—NO ONE can teach a person that “infamy” is more memorable than “history.” You’re thinking, anyone can see that. We have 72 years of saying the sentence over and over again to know that single word made the speech. FDR could have stopped right there, and Congress would have declared war (even Robert A. Taft voted in favor).

How do you start a conspiracy theory, anyway? As I’ve said in a post here before, you make people believe your explanation for an event is the evidence that it happened.

Dallas has been awash in conspiracy theories all this year. The 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination here in our fair city. The one person I know personally who is an authority—that is, he has been studying the matter and having his students research and write about it for 20 years or so—thinks there was a conspiracy to murder the President. I’ve told him I want to talk to him about it. Perhaps we will and perhaps we won’t.

It was revealed recently that Robert F. Kennedy did not believe the Warren Commission. So that is somehow evidence that there was a conspiracy.

Robert F. Kennedy got his start in government law in 1952 when his father, Joseph Kennedy, persuaded Senator Joseph McCarthy to hire Bobby as assistant counsel to McCarthy’s conspiracy-searching and character-assassinating committee in the Senate. Robert Kennedy got his start in government “service” sniffing out conspiracies. Does Bobby Kennedy’s explanation of his brother’s death count as evidence? No. Explanations and conjectures are not evidence.

The first great conspiracy theory?

The first great conspiracy theory?

So my colleague tells me there IS, in fact, evidence. I have not bothered to read any of it because—well, because what difference does it make? Will absolute proof that there were two killers change anything? No. The American people have already chosen their lot—let conspiracy theories make our decisions. To wit, September 11, 2001.

We have laid down our freedom at the feet of the federal government on the theory that there is a vast world-wide conspiracy of “terrorists” who will destroy society as we know it if we don’t kill them with drones and let our own government go sniffing in our private affairs just as Bobby Kennedy did for Joe McCarthy.

Rhetoric is the art of using all available means to make an argument (not to “argue” but to make an “argument”—there is a difference). That’s what Aristotle said, at any rate.

I have no idea what rhetorical strategy to use to get from Bobby and Joe sniffing around and the CIA and the DHS sniffing around to “infamy” and “history” and then to my need for some singers.

So I’ll just say it. What difference does it make whether or not my students understand the rhetorical power of one word over another? Conspiracies demand acquiescence. Young people have been so brainwashed by our concessions of our liberties that they have no concept of our rights under the First Amendment. There is little point in trying to help them have an “ah-ha” moment about writing, about the choice of words, when the only amendment to the Constitution they care anything about is the Second. (No, I don’t know what process of “logic” I used to get from one idea to the next here. Deal with it.)

And the power of language—of anything beautiful or expressive—has one purpose now. To make money. Or to wield military (or corporate) power. After all, according to one of the first great conspiracy theories, FDR’s choice of words was important because he was involved in bringing about the attack on Pearl Harbor.

I know, I know. I’m not making any sense, and I’m becoming one of those grouchy and irrational old men my mother warned me about. I want to draw myself into a cocoon and forget all of the nonsense of the world. You all can go ahead with your conspiracy theories, and with your forfeiture of your right of freedom of conscience if you want. Or any other freedom—like the freedom to get on an airplane without a stranger looking at your privates.

But all I want is to make some music. I can’t do it even as well as I used to (which was never brilliant, my degrees notwithstanding). So I want simple. And I’d love to have a group of singers to direct so the physical act of producing the music didn’t fall on my shoulders alone.

Singers. Send me a comment here—I’m not kidding!!!—and let’s withdraw from conspiracies together.

Here I am playing the notes without the words for Thomas Ravenscroft’s little anthem (1611). I need singers! I can play the notes for a work like this, but that cries out for the original (which has more stanzas than I have here).

Remember, O thou Man,
O thou Man, O thou Man,
Remember, O thou Man,
Thy time is spent.
Remember, O thou Man,
How thou camest to me then,
And I did what I can.
Therefore repent.

Remember Adam’s fall,
O thou Man, O thou Man,
Remember Adam’s fall
From Heaven to Hell.
Remember Adam’s fall,
How we were condemned all
To Hell perpetual,
There for to dwell.

Remember God’s goodness,
O thou Man, O thou Man,
Remember God’s goodness
And promise made.
Remember God’s goodness,
How his only Son he sent
Our sins for to redress.
Be not afraid.

“. . . open wide my door /To the ghosts of the year. . .” (3)

We've caught the two!!!

We’ve caught the two!!!

Last night was Halloween. The eve of All Hallows Day.

How on earth did it get to be such a big deal in America (is it elsewhere)? It seems a bizarre celebration for a people who are mired in a political system that has utterly failed us; in a social system in which people who say the holiday is evil because it goes against their (tyrannical and terrorist) “christian” beliefs are becoming more and more entrenched and influential; in an economic system which day-by-day leaves more and more of us unable to flourish in the sense of the “American dream” that at one time was our common mythology and now seems very much like a grotesque nightmarish costume.

Or is it bizarre? Go begging door to door in the guise of having fun. In the guise of ghosthood. In the guise of blackmail.

Perhaps that’s the best thing for us to do. Go begging. I have the distinct impression that I should have gone out “trick or treating” last night to practice up for what I may well have to do when my paychecks stop next June because of my forced retirement from an institution that this year is raising $1,000,000,000 for itself (that’s a billion, in case your mind is boggled because you never see more than two or three zeroes in your own bank statements).

“. . . the ghosts of the year. . .” are pretty obvious. Ted Cruz. David Koch. Karl Rove. Antonin Scalia. Bruce Hoffman. Gen. Keith Alexander. Christoph Heusgen.  Lisa Monaco.

Yes, I am completely biased. I am a partisan of the worst kind. I can see nothing socially acceptable about these people. Their goal is to trick the American middle class out of its dream while they wear the costumes of fun and frivolity and offer the treat of providing a huge percentage of the populace with a fall guy (or a bunch of fall guys) to deflect the attention from their own complicity in the raping and pillaging of American culture, economy, and politics.

Every time many unthinking Americans, based on the “conservative” rhetoric (which is really ghoulish fantasy) in which the country is awash thanks to David H. Koch’s ability to buy TV ads, speak of our President, they say he is “(half) black.” That, of course, is a racist formulation through and through. Apparently claiming to be “black” when one is only “half black” is somehow telling a lie. Even though, of course, the legal definition of “Negro” in half of this country until the 1950s was (and still remains in the internalized beliefs) that one was is a “Negro” if even one of her great-grandparents was a “Negro.” (Let’s see, I had eight great-grandparents, so that would mean if 1/8th of my genetic makeup were black, I’d be a “Negro.”)

One of my best friends is ..  Uh, er, Black!

One of my best friends is .. Uh, er, Black!

Saying President Obama is only (half) black makes him the bogeyman because he—he’s wearing a costume! “Trick or treat!”

So we go on making more and more bogeymen. Bogeymen such as those approximately two people out of 65,000 in South Carolina who vote twice in any given election. So we pass new voter ID laws to prevent those two from voting twice. Most likely they are part of the “bunch of lazy blacks who want the government to give them everything,” says the GOP precinct chair from Buncombe County, North Carolina, Don Yelton (1). To be fair, the Republicans, sensing that his fixing of blame so blatantly on bogeymen was not playing well against the TV ads paid for by Mr. Koch and his friend Karl Rove, fired the self-declared bigot.

Lest friends of mine think I am not fair when I try to point out the failures of the Republicans (what the Koch Brothers and Karl Rove are doing has nothing to do with being Republican—they simply know it’s easier for them to use the great unwashed of the Republican rank-and-file than it would be to use the great unwashed of the Democratic rank-and-file, so that’s where they put their money on the great distribution-of-wealth-in-their-favor Trifecta), let me say right now that the Democrats under the President are making their own bogeymen. Muslims. “Terrorists.” You know, they’ve completely sold out to the “terrorism industry.” Anyone who looks Middle Eastern—or has a Palestinian friend on Facebook, I assume—is a bogeyman. And Bruce Hoffman would lose his power and influence if we called a spade a spade in that case.

The application of these newly learned capabilities to urban centers in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and elsewhere could result in a precipitous escalation of bloodshed and destruction, reaching into countries and regions that hitherto have experienced little, if any, organized jihadi violence (2).

So I guess it’s not so surprising that Americans love Halloween. We see bogeymen and ghosts everywhere we look. And that justifies our being frightened, repulsed, and angry at the “other” in our lives, no matter where we see her.

BOO!

Aw, shucks. We have met the bogeyman and she is. . . . ?

(3)

All Hallows Night
by Lizette Woodworth Reese

Two things I did on Hallows Night:—
Made my house April-clear;
Left open wide my door
To the ghosts of the year.

Then one came in. Across the room
It stood up long and fair—
The ghost that was myself—
And gave me stare for stare.
?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????_____________
(1) Green, Lloyd. “The GOP’s Racial Handicap.” The Daily Beast. Oct 28, 2013. Web. (2) Hoffman,  Bruce.  “Combating Al Qaeda and the Militant Islamic Threat.” Testimony presented to the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities, February 2006. Quoted in, John Mueller, Terror predictions compiled by John Mueller. Ohio State University. May 2, 2012. Web.

In the Middle Ages the word was “oligarchy”

When I was a kid, all of us were given to believe that we could grow up to be President (well, the white boys, at any rate). At the very least we knew our single little solitary vote counted in elections. I remember the election of 1966 as vividly as any other in my lifetime. I remember standing on the steps of Watchorn Hall at the University of Redlands talking with two of my favorite people, all of us students in the School of Music

We were going to vote for Governor Brown for reelection, of course, rather than Ronald Reagan. It was the first vote of my life. It counted for very little. I lived in California through the entire reactionary (anti-intellectual, anti-middle class, anti-freedom of expression) eight years of Ronald Reagan’s magisterial term as governor.

Edwin Meese was Reagan’s “chief of staff.” He ran the executive branch of the state government. He told Reagan what to think (or at least what to say).

Then there was the Reagan White House. The same arrangement. That is, until Meese became Attorney General. He was implicated in all of the scandals of the Reagan administration.

Now Edwin Meese is in charge of the shutdown of the federal government.

ol·i·gar·chy
noun

1.       a form of government in which all power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique; government by the few.

Meese has never been elected to public office, only anointed to various overlord positions, most of them by Ronald Reagan.

He seems to be the brains behind the power of the new American Oligarchy—those few, the dominant class, the clique who are running our country. The coup d’état is a fait accompli. The takeover of the government is finished. We have let it happen. We have only ourselves to blame.

Today the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case which is designed to end all constraints on the amount of money a person can contribute to a political campaign. The Court, with its majority led by Antonin Scalia, the Edwin Meese of jurisprudence, will almost certainly throw out fifty years of its own decisions and allow Edwin Meese’s friends to contribute as much as they like to their far right-wing candidates.

We are living in the time of oligarchy. The few.

The few of those who are hiding behind the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision declaring that, in our oligarchy at any rate, corporations are persons and PACs are no more influential or dangerous than your local PTA, but PACs don’t have to reveal the sources of their money.

I want to go back to the days when any (white boy) kid could become President.

O Joy! Fulfillment of the prophecies of Revelation before I die!

The sign of the beast -  but which one?

The sign of the beast –
but which one?

What effect does a “government shutdown” have on an individual citizen trying to get through one more day as if her life meant something?

I forbid students to open an essay with a question (I don’t forbid any writing—I simply take off points from grades for elements of a writing assignment I think do not adhere to “academic” standards, whatever that is).

Every writing, composition, rhetoric (what we used to call “English”) student has heard the rule that an essay should begin with the “general” and move to the “specific.” Asking a question necessarily begins with a specific statement rather than a verifiable general truth.

Let me simplify. Students are instructed to write inductive reasoning (without using the term in teaching them) rather than deductive.

You know the difference because your high school English (writing, composition, rhetoric—whatever obfuscatory, jargony name your school used trying to help you figure out how to use academic English) teacher told you. Deductive reasoning “links premises with conclusions. If all premises are true, the terms are clear, and the rules of deductive logic are followed, then the conclusion reached is necessarily true.” In inductive reasoning “the premises seek to supply strong evidence for (not absolute proof of) the truth of the conclusion.” (Sorry. These definitions are from Wikipedia. I know. I’m exposing myself as non-academic.)

“While the conclusion of a deductive argument is supposed to be certain, the truth of an inductive argument is supposed to be probable, based upon the evidence given.”

In other words, if you are being deductive, you can say, “All Tea Partiers think in slogans and misapprehensions. My friend ‘Billy’ thinks in slogans and misapprehensions. Therefore, my friend ‘Billy’ is a Tea Partier.”  This is deductive because the conclusion is true. The first premise is absolutely true. The second is also absolutely true. However, the conclusion is not. “Billy” could have all sorts of things wrong with him besides being a Tea Partier. (The fact is that he is a Tea Partier, but that has nothing to do with my faulty deductive reasoning.)

One of the strangest bits of “deductive” reasoning against the Affordable Care Act is that the government is going to implant a computer chip each of our foreheads—that is, ALL of us, everyone—to keep track of our medical needs and expenditures. Here’s the deductive reasoning:

     And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. (Revelation 13:16-17).

Barak Obama is the beast.

     Therefore, Barak Obama (that is, Obamacare) will cause each of us to receive a mark (that is, a computer chip) on our right hand or forehead (to buy or sell health services).

You think I’m making this up, don’t you? Apparently this came from a preliminary Affordable Care trial balloon (2009) that was never

The least good for the greatest number

The least good for the greatest number

passed which called for a registry of all implantable devices (titanium hips, pacemakers, etc.). This morphed to the requirement to implant a device in all of us in order to register us and was soon announced to be the fulfillment of the prophecies of Revelation (1).

I had heard of this bit of deduction, and last night “Real Time with Bill Maher” included a “person-on-the-street” segment asking random people on the streets of New York what they knew about Obamacare. Two of the randoms answered that we are all going to be implanted with chips. One of them said to the Maher interviewer, “I’m surprised you don’t know about this.” Of course, the entire sequence may have been staged. I doubt that.

Puts me in mind of the conversation (defeated-by-the-Tea-Party) Representative Bob Inglis (R-SC) had with a group of Tea Partiers (during the primary campaign in which they defeated him) who told him we each have a number on the back of our Social Security card that the government shares with our banks in order for our accounts to be collateral for loans they get from the Federal Reserve Bank, and they can take our money whenever they want. See the full story below at (2).  That may be a liberal Urban Legend, but I doubt it.

So this is the kind of inductive/deductive/nonsensical reasoning on which the Republicans base their assertion that a majority of Americans don’t like Obamacare?

Yesterday I had a conference with a student (a wealthy, white student from an affluent community in Texas) regarding her rough draft for her required essay on the short story “The Body Snatcher,” by Robert Louis Stevenson. Her ideas were confused to me at first, but through conversation I came to understand that she thought the grave-robbers in the story were engaged in some sort of “game.” Eventually, I got to the basis of her thinking. It came from a philosophy class she took as a first-year student in which the central “take-away” was the Utilitarian philosophy of John Stuart Mill.

All men are mortal.  Socrates is a man. Therefore, Socrates is a Tea Partier.

All men are mortal.
Socrates is a man.
Therefore, Socrates is a Tea Partier.

And, of course, that is as it’s played out in the bizarre anti-social ideas of Ayn Rand. Grave-robbing (even murder) in the story is not grotesque because it results in “the greatest happiness of the greatest number” (providing cadavers for medical students to dissect). And this incomprehensible (to me) philosophy morphed in the student’s mind into Rand’s “objectivism.” Robbing graves to sell the bodies is neither grotesque nor immoral because it provides the grave-robber with income to care for her family.

A little philosophy is a dangerous thing. And a few bizarre and unrelated “facts” are dangerous things in the hands of those who are determined to thwart the objectives of “the Beast.” Is President Obama the First Beast, arising from the sea and demanding allegiance, or the Second Beast, arising from the earth and seducing humanity to worship the First Beast.

Stay tuned. I’m sure the Republicans will clarify anon.

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(1) “Will Obamacare Require RFID Chips in Humans by March 23 2013?” wafflesatnoon.com. December 1, 2012. Web. 5 Oct. 2013. http://wafflesatnoon.com/2012/12/01/will-obamacare-require-rfid-chips-in-humans-by-march-23-2013/
(2) Corn, David. “Confessions of a Tea Party Casualty.” Mother Jones. Aug. 3, 2010. Web. 5 Oct. 2013. Inglis said, “I sat down, and they said on the back of your Social Security card, there’s a number. That number indicates the bank that bought you when you were born based on a projection of your life’s earnings, and you are collateral. We are all collateral for the banks. I have this look like, “What the heck are you talking about?” I’m trying to hide that look and look clueless. I figured clueless was better than argumentative. So they said, “You don’t know this?! You are a member of Congress, and you don’t know this?!”

A special post – Essay by Professor James Petras

Note: This essay appears here because it needs to be widely read.

petrasJames Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York.
He is a prolific writer especially on Latin America and the Middle East. He also writes insightfully about current events and political currents in the United States. I am fortunate to have had discussions with him, and, therefore, am on his email distribution list and read selected essays before they are published. Please read and pass this essay on.

Wall Street Take-Off:  2012 – 2013

            On July 16, 2013, Goldman Sachs, the fifth largest US bank by assets announced its second quarter profits doubled the previous year to $1.93 billion.  J. P. Morgan, the largest bank made $6.1 billion in the second quarter up 32% over the year before and expects to make $25 billion in profits in 2013.  Wells Fargo, the fourth largest bank, reaped $5.27 billion, up 20%.  Citigroup’s profits topped $4.18 billion, up 42% over the previous year.

            The ruling elite, the financial CEOs pay is soaring:  John Stumpf of Wells Fargo received $19.3 million in 2012; Jamie Dimon of J. P. Morgan Chase pocketed $18.7 million and Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs took $13.3 million.

            The Bush-Obama Wall Street bailout has resulted in the deepening financialization of the US economy:  Finance has displaced the technology industry as the profitable sector of the US economy.  While the US economy stagnates and the European Union wallows in recession and with over 50 million unemployed, US financial corporations in the Standard and Poor 500 index earned aggregate profits of $49 billion in the second quarter of 2013, while the tech sector reported $41.5 billion.  For 2013, Wall Street is projected to earn $198.5 billion in profits, while tech companies are expected to earn $183.1 billion.  Within the financial sector, the most ‘speculative sectors’, i.e. investment banks and brokerage houses, are dominant and dynamic growing 40% in 2013.  Over 20% of the S and P 500 corporate profits are concentrated in the financial sector.

            The financial crash of 2008-2009 and the Obama bailout, reinforced the dominance of Wall Street over the US economy. The result is that the parasitic financial sector is extracting enormous rents and profits from the economy and depriving the productive industries of capital and earnings.  The recovery and boom of corporate profits since the crises turns out to be concentrated in the same financial sector which provoked the crash a few years back.

The Crises of Labor Deepens – 2013

            The new speculative bubble of 2012 – 2013 is a product of the central banks’ (the Federal Reserve in the United States) low (virtually zero) interest policies, which allow Wall Street to borrow cheaply and speculate, activities which puff up stock prices but do not generate employment, and furthermore depress industry and polarize the economy.

            The Obama regime’s promotion of financial profits is accompanied by its policies reducing living standards for wage and salaried workers.  The White House and Congress have slashed public spending on health, education and social services. They have cut funds for  the food stamps program (food subsidies for poor families), day care centers, unemployment benefits, social security inflation adjustments, Medicare and Medicare programs.  As a result the gap between the top 10% and the bottom 90% has widened.  Wages and salaries have declined in relative and absolute terms, as employees take advantage of high unemployment (7.8% official) underemployment (15%) and precarious employment.

            In 2013 capitalist profits , especially in the financial capital, are booming while the crises of labor persists, deepens and provokes political alienation.  Outside of North America , especially in the European periphery, mass unemployment and declining living standards has led to mass protests and repeated general strikes.

            In the first half of 2013 Greek workers organized four general strikes protesting the massive firing of public sector workers; in Portugal two general strikes have led to calls for the resignation of the Prime Minister and new elections. In Spain corruption at the highest level, fiscal austerity leading to 25% unemployment and repression have led to intensifying street fighting and calls for the regime to resign.

            The bi-polar world of rich bankers in the North racking up record profits and workers everywhere receiving a shrinking share of national income spells out the class basis of “recovery” and “depression”, prosperity for the few and immiseration for the many.  By the end of 2013, the imbalances between finance and production foretell a new cycle of boom and bust.  Emblematic of the demise of the “productive economy” is the city of Detroit ’s declaration of bankruptcy:  with 79,000 vacant homes, stores and factories the city resembles Baghdad after the US invasion – nothing works.  The Wall Street-devastated city, once the cradle of both the auto industry and the organized industrial workers’ leap into the middle-class, now has debts totaling $20 billion.  The big three auto companies have relocated overseas and to non-union states while the billionaire bankers “restructure” the economy, break unions, lower wages, renege on pensions and rule by administrative decree.