I can't come down
It's gone too far
Oh, I can't come down
It makes no sense
Just wasted words
Oh, I can't come down
I've tried to come to terms with it all
Has it really gone this far
Love suspended frozen in a jar
I never did belong
They're staring back at me from inside the cage
I'm staring back at me
The ape's coming of age
I can't come down
It's gone too far
Oh, I can't come down
It makes no sense
Just wasted words
Oh, I can't come down
Why offer stimulation to a lost cause
You drive the nails in, I can't take anymore
I'm the last one survivor I took you all
I'm the rare breed the cast off
Come on break the mold
I can't come down
It's gone too far
Oh, I can't come down
It makes no sense
Just wasted words
Oh, I can't come down
It's not one thing. It's nearly everything. Externally at least. Tainted, infected, untethered, immune to repair.
I know I'm not the only sane man, but until something changes the dynamics, it's pointless to continue shouting into the abyss. Adding to the noise.
Goodbye for now...
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
I can't come down
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
THE SPEECH DELIVERED BY AUGUST SPIES' AT THE HAYMARKET, MAY 4, ON THE OCCASION OF THE BOMB-THROWING
"FRIENDS-The speakers of the evening not having arrived I shall entertain you a-few minutes. I am told that a number of patrol wagons, carrying policemen, were sent to Desplaines street station, and I understand that the militia have been called under arms. There seems to prevail the opinion in certain quarters that this meeting has been called for the purpose of inaugurating a riot, hence these warlike preparations on the part of so-called "Law and Order." However, let me tell you at the beginning that this meeting has not been called for any such purpose. The object of this meeting is to explain the general situation of the Eight-Hour Movement, and to throw light upon various incidents in connection with it.
For more than twenty years have the wage workers of this country begged and prayed their masters, the factory lords, to reduce their burdens. It has been in vain. They have pointed out the fact that over a million of willing and strong hands were in a state of enforced idleness and starvation, that to help them to obtain employment it would not only be advisable, nay, it was necessary to reduce the hours of daily toil of those who were fortunate enough in having found a buyer for their 'muscles, their bones, and their brain. The masters of this earth have treated them with contempt, have condemned them to vagabondage whenever they insisted. The legislatures have been called upon, one petition has succeeded the other, but with no avail.
At last the condition of the disinherited producers has become unbearable. Seeing that neither "boss" nor law would concede anything to them, they have organized for the purpose of helping themselves -a wise and prudent resolution.
All over the land we behold vast armies of producers, no longer begging, but demanding that eight hours shall henceforth constitute a normal working day. And what say the extortionists to this? They demand their pound of flesh, like Shylock. They will not yield one iota. They have grown rich and powerful on your labor. They amass stupendous fortunes, while you, who bring them into existence, are suffering from want. In answer to your pleadings they ask for the bodies of your little children, to utilize them in their gold mints, to make dollars out of them! Look at the slaves of McCormick! When they tried to remonstrate with their master he simply called upon "the protectors of these free and glorious institutions" -- the police -- to silence them. And they did silence them.
You have no doubt heard of the, killing and wounding of a number of your brothers at McCormick's, yesterday. Mr. McCormick told a Times reporter that Spies was responsible for that massacre committed by the most noble Chicago police. I reply to this that McCormick is, an infamous liar. (Cries of "Hang him.") No, make no idle threats. There will be a time, and we are rapidly approaching it, when such men as McCormick will be hanged; there will be a time when monsters who destroy the lives and happiness of the citizens (for their own aggrandizement) will be dealt with like wild beasts. But that time has not yet come. When it has come you will no longer make threats, but you will go and "do it."
The capitalistic press, like the "respectable gentleman" McCormick, howls that the anarchists are responsible for the deeds of violence now committed all over this country. If that were true one would have to conclude that the country was full of anarchists, yet the same press informs us that the anarchists are very few in number. Were the "unlawful" acts in the Southwestern strike committed by anarchists? No, they were committed by Knights of Labor, men who never fail to declare, whenever there is an opportunity, that they are law and order abiding citizens. The attack upon McCormick's yesterday -- Was it made by anarchists? Let us see. I had been invited by the Central Labor Union to address a meeting of lumber yard laborers, on the Black road. I went out there yesterday at the appointed time, about three o'clock in the afternoon. There were at least 10,000 persons assembled. When I was introduced to address them a few Poles or Bohemians in the crowd cried out: "He's a socialist." These cries were followed by a general commotion and derision -- "We want no socialist; down with him." These and other exclamations I was treated to. Of course, I spoke anyway; the crowd became calm and quiet and fifteen minutes later, elected me unanimously a delegate to see their bosses. Nevertheless, you can see that these people are not socialists or anarchists, but "good, honest, law-abiding church-going Christians and citizens." Such were the persons who left the meeting, as I afterwards learned, to "make the scabs at McCormick's quit work." In my speech I never mentioned McCormick. Now you may judge for yourselves whether the anarchists were responsible for the bloodshed yesterday or not.
Who is responsible for these many "lawless" acts, you ask me? I have told you that they are generally committed by the most lawful and Christian citizens -- in other words, the people are by necessity driven to violence, they can't carry the burden heaped upon them any longer. They try to cast it off, and in so doing break the laws. The law says they must not cast it off, for such an act would alter, yea, revolutionize the existing order of society! These acts of violence are the natural outgrowth of the present industrial system, and everyone is responsible for them who supports and upholds that system.
What does it mean when the police of this city, on this evening, rattle along in their patrol wagons?
What does it mean when the militia stands warlike and ready for bloody work at our armories?
What are the gatling guns and cannons for?
Is this military display of barbarism arranged for your entertainment?
Ail these preparations, my friends, ARE made in your behalf!!
Your masters have perceived your discontent.
They do not like discontented slaves.
They want to make you contented at all hazards, and if you are stubborn they will force or kill you.
Look at the killing of your brothers at McCormick's yesterday. What did they do? The police tell you that they were a most dangerous crowd, armed to their teeth. The fact is, they, like ignorant children, indulged in the harmless sport of bombarding McCormick's slaughterhouse with stones. They paid the penalty of this folly with their blood.
The lesson I draw from this occurrence is, that working men must arm themselves for defense, so that they may be able to cope with the government hirelings of their masters.
I see Mr. Parsons has arrived. He is a much abler speaker in your tongue than I am, therefore I will conclude by introducing him."
The "Law" hung Mr. Spies for his words.
If the theme and content of Mr. Spies' speech sound familiar, as though they could be re-spoken today with only minor update, you're absolutely right.
His sacrifice and memory have been blurred into "history". Today, we should remember.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
On the floor of the Senate, but rarely on the mainstream mouse circus, Senator Bernie Sanders, waves his arms, points his finger and orates about basic, widely-held American folklore. That our strength lays in the common people. That our virtue is being twisted and abused. That we're getting screwed by a small, but wealthy and powerful minority of a short-sighted, greed-driven, untethered elite. He flat out says we've been sold out by his fellow congresscritters. His words sound queer and funny to the ear. A little bit jumbled and jive-y. He's saying stop, look, LISTEN. The way forward requires that we stop buying what's being sold. Stop because it is a wholly inferior product that few people want; being marketed as our only option. He's saying there are better choices that aren't even being considered.
Hell yeah, I love Bernie Sanders. I love Elizabeth Warren as well. Still, I have to ask why they're the ONLY strident voices who are clearly articulating how we are getting screwed. IN DETAIL. Why should I have to seek out their battles? Why must I endure a Hollywood Squares Set of pundits, who've been absolutely wrong about absolutely everything? Sanders and Warren are shouting into the abyss? Written off as fringe elements? Issue by issue their thinking is echoed by a majority of the American people.
This clip from Bill Maher's Real Time clearly shows this insanity. Stephen Moore and Abby Huntsman? Impervious to facts. Ignoring anything that might derail them from spewing their focus-group tested narrative. It's all great fun ain't it?
Dovetailing nicely with another marginalized voice from the fringe, Noam Chomsky: "The real mass media are basically trying to divert people. Let them do something else, but don’t bother us (us being the people who run the show). Let them get interested in professional sports, for example. Let everybody be crazed about professional sports or sex scandals or the personalities and their problems or something like that. Anything, as long as it isn’t serious.
Of course, the serious stuff is for the big guys. “We” take care of that."
Further examples would border on redundancy. The signal to noise ratio is so poor as to render it impossible to determine where to turn, except OFF.
What would happen if we were to say "Time-Fucking-OUT!" and spend time to set some real priorities? Turning this rig around requires time, space and an actual plan for the future.
Can I suggest a first step?
Spend three hours to watch and listen to the amazing Amy Goodman. You needn't do it in one sitting. Watch/Listen. Consider what you've heard. Extend the anecdotes to other present "debates".
Listen some more. Keep listening until you get what she's saying. That while we haven't always fulfilled the promise of America, we have been better at it than we've shown in recent decades.
Then ask why this voice has to be sought out in order to be heard in our larger discussions? Instead we're most likely to some noise, that, when you sift it, mostly sounds like this.
Even when the signal strength is pegging the meter, the noise drowns it out. Watch Elizabeth Warren seek answers, watch the regulators she's questioning, boldly and openly admit to her premise.
As much as to say, we've legalized it. So What? We're just following orders.
It's all made so complicated when in reality it is simple.
Monday, April 8, 2013
On Saturday, I was riding the bike around the area. Every patch of “green space” was occupied with the exuberance of youth; Soccer, baseball, lacrosse, tennis. Hundreds, if not thousands, of kids. Signed up, lined up and strutting their stuff.
Games! Play ball! Weekend warriors!
Along the sidelines, anxious parents alternate between socializing and spectating, For me, this is the pulse of community. These are the main events that restore hope for the future.
You can learn much listening to the conversations of sideline parents. What is important and what is not so important. Their priorities are in order. Their concerns are measured. Their hope is tangible.
Friday, March 22, 2013
If you've never watched the often awkward "family" units who compete for "Fast Money" on "Family Feud", but you've religiously watched your favorite flavor of newsfotainment showgrams, you've witnessed the scene. On "The Feud" questions are asked of 100 loosely affiliated people: 100 married men/women, 100 college students, 100 waiters/waitresses etc. Their answers are ranked in order, put up, hidden, on a gameboard. Two families go head- to-head to guess the top answers to the survey question. The comedic value of the game show is played through the host, but the comedy gold comes from the often cringe-worthily stupid guesses from family members. Whether from nervousness at being on National TeeVee, the predictable result of generational inbreeding or simply misunderstanding the premise of the poll questions, the family's weakest links are the high-octane fuel that drives the game. You, sitting in the comfort of your teevee viewing room, can play along.
The top five answers are on the board.
"Name a movie monster" [Dad from the Smith Family Buzzes in]
Let's look... Godzilla is #3
Two answers can top it.
Okay, Gramma Edith from the Jones Family?...
As the family plays the game they all cheer, support, applaud... "Good Answer!" Rah Rah!", regardless of how feeble the guess.
Got it? No? I'll wait...
There. Alrighty then, the next time you tune in to your favorite talking heads mouse circus, watch as though you're watching "The Feud"
Understand that when the question asked is how much is 2+2? And the answer is "CUT TAXES!" The "family" MUST cheer, applaud and whoop it up,
As they go down the line and responses never vary, never rise to an answer,
Dirty Fuckin' Hippies!
Love it or Leave it!
Thank you for playing our game.
Join us next time...
...And somewhere, Ronald Reagan is smiling.
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Eight years ago...
Jon Stewart stepped on a bug.
The bug was crushed. Thousands came to the funeral and stayed on, not just to perpetuate the carnage, but to expand it exponentially.
I don't think anyone can watch Stewart's brilliant skewering of Carlson and His Beluga and not cringe for them. So clueless; so sure of their own importance. After all Jon Stewart's a comedian. Hilarity must ensue...
Some might even consider that Crossfire's subsequent demise marked a turning point in the effort to make media more aware of its Public Trust responsibilities.
Anyone who thinks CNN's non-ceremonial, but fully superficially symbolic axing of Crossfire was a game changer would be correct. So long as they also understand that the game was changed to render such antics meaningless in the media newsfotainment batshit crazy belfry.
At the time of CNN "fixing the glitch" that was exposed, Media Consolidation was already firmly entrenched. The formula was codified as a proven winner. Clowns, Shills, Jugglers and Jesters posing as serious journalists will adequately fill the schedule. As long as they don't turn on each other, play the game and never, ever, ever fall for the Stewart gambit again, things will be fine.
The answer to superior intellectual guests was to minimize their access to the set. Find a "reasonable" facsimile instead, or if unavoidable, make sure to surround them with noisemakers to turn everything upside down, inside out and backwards.
In the new blacklist era there was no notice that the Quislings and Flatworms who ascended to the serious political roundtables were posers. Nobody mentioned or talked about the "experts" who were no longer there. You can book Ron Paul, but never Noam Chomsky, Sy Hersh or even Phil Donahue, (who INVENTED the format!). Nope, the rolodex represented the milquetoast, malleable, go along to get along center-left to the near-extreme Randian righties.
And the beat goes on without missing a beat. The new NORMAL for political fight club had only one overarching, all encompassing rule. You want to play, you play by OUR rules.
It can be fodder and sport for comedians, that's easy to drown out with consistency, hype and abject dismissal that anything is different. Cutting edge journalism is whatever we deign to air. No quarter for "outcasts" as long as we agree as the gatekeepers.
We are forever in their debt. They maintain the mantle of the Free Press; guardians of the newsfotainment branch of the corporate structure.
Their ivory towers well out of range. Impervious to meaningful challenge.
Open wide. BOHICA baby!
Thursday, February 28, 2013
On Wednesday morning (2/27) Joe & Mika kvetched through a segment with author Michael Moss about his book "Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us". Nobody on set seemed to grasp the irony that a show that provides the media equivalent of unhealthy ingestion on behalf of its own Media Giant does this disservice, 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks per year. That's a shitload of salt, sugar and fat disguised as whole grain "good for ya" BrainFood.
This is not an indictment of a specific show, network or personality, just an observation. Pretty much all of the vast wasteland is riffing on the same recipe; Six drops of essence of terror, five drops of sinister sauce.... This also isn't a lament that there are no shows trying to provide an information diet not laced with societal poisons or pollutants.
Those are out there too, with ratings to match the public's dietary preference for Salt. Sugar. FAT.
We're not just a fast food nation, we're a fast everything nation. "When the stirring's done may I lick the spoon?"
But what does any of it really mean? We are what we eat? We eat what's put in front of us whether it's good for us or not?
We eat whatever Mom & Dad bring back to the nest and regurgitate into our piehole? Salt. Sugar. Fat. It's tasty!
You know that feeling? You arrive at an event and immediately realize. You're in the wrong place. What to do? Suffer in silence? Fight? Flight? Find a neutral corner? Start drinking? This isn't going to end well and you know it.
Having not been to more than a handful of events, in recent memory, that didn't evoke the survivalist in me, I find myself waning nostalgic for the days when nonsense was somewhat avoidable.
I make no secret that I'm different. I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you.
WBEZ's "This American Life
with Ira Glass, on NPR, recently aired a two-part series about Harper High School on Chicago's southside. If you think you have a handle on the
"Chicago Way", a grip on the cost that the subsidy of your lifestyle extracts, your limited responsibility for what happens in the
world outside your patch of grass, I dare you to listen to both hours. Realize and admit that this is just a glimpse into another's reality that exists in small part from your neglect. Recognize that the choices you make, the causes you support, the politics you enable, the community you rely on to rationalize your philosophy... Understand that you can't distance yourself from accountability. The bill is due and payable.
If you have reservations, if you firmly believe in your own entitlement, if you feel you've attended the school of hard knocks and refuse to see that your perceptions of costs, value and worth are incomplete, then Party On Dude, but don't look back.
To go from there
so fast, so unthinkingly, cannot end well either.
We all have dreams.
If as many folks could quote chapter and verse of RAH's "Moon is Harsh Mistress" as those who hold up "Atlas Shrugged" or other books held up as
excuse to be myopic self-involved twits, we might get through to some semblance of an advanced civilization.
"Rational Anarchists" believe that the concepts of State, Society and Government have no existence but for the "acts of self-responsible individuals", but concede that this is not a universal belief. The desire for anarchy is balanced by the logic that some form of government is needed, despite its flaws. Knowing this fact, a Rational Anarchist "tries to live perfectly in an imperfect world". In terms of morals there is no such thing as a ‘state.’ Just men. Individuals. Each responsible for his own acts. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free, because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything that I do".
Friday, February 22, 2013
Try to see it my way,
Do I have to keep on talking till I can't go on?
While you see it your way,
Run the risk of knowing that our planet will be gone.
We can't work it out?
We can't work it out?
Think of what you're saying.
You can get it wrong and still you think that it's alright.
Think of what I'm saying,
We can work it out and get it straight, or say good night.
We can't work it out?
We can't work it out?
Life is very short, and there's no time
For fussing and fighting, my friend.
I have always thought that it's a crime,
So I will ask you once again.
Try to see it my way,
Only time will tell if I am right or I am wrong.
While you see it your way
There's a chance that we may fall apart before too long.
Can we work it out?
Can we work it out?
Isn't 40 years of being horribly wrong, long enough?
Friday, February 15, 2013
When people speak of "Chicago Style" politics, -which they do, quite often, with only their own fevered delusions to guide them, to convey some simple unseemliness- what they never seem to grasp is the near universal standards and practices in play. If there is a "Chicago Way", it's not in the ways and means. Chicago practices a type of evolution politics that has been at work forever.
In the relative minor leagues of the modern game, the town of Cicero represents its ignominious past with a bizarre sense of pride. Cicero was home to Al Capone. From Cicero, weather permitting, "Scarface" ran his depression era empire. Too hot? Whether meteorological or legal, Capone was a snowbird; freely traveling, telecommuting. His physical presence was largely unnecessary, except for ceremonial duties, or to add that personal touch when needed. His celebrity status far outweighed his notoriety. He lived large. Everybody knew his pedigree. He got away with it. He was finally done in by a technicality; a legal cleverness. He went to jail. Case closed? Game over?
Of course not. Cicero remained. The Capone method intact, but without the intense spotlight. If it works, don't fix it. The crimes and corruptions associated with Capone and Cicero did not disappear with the verdict. The business didn't divest, it diversified. Over time, the corruption was no longer supported by criminal enterprise, it became publicly funded. It was legalized.
Meanwhile in the larger Opposite World...
Matt Taibbi reminds us, again, that the game never ends. He also reminds us that there is always a vested interest in the perpetuation of the game.
Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Jail
How HSBC hooked up with drug traffickers and terrorists. And got away with it
by: Matt Taibbi
After laying out the more colorful particulars of what might have been a monumental indictment, Mr. Taibbi concludes with the
"Thus, in the space of just a few weeks, regulators in Britain and America teamed up to declare near-total surrender to both crime and monopoly. This was more than a couple of cases of letting rich guys walk. These were major policy decisions that will reverberate for the next generation.
Even worse than the actual settlements was the explanation Breuer offered for them. "In the world today of large institutions, where much of the financial world is based on confidence," he said, "a right resolution is to ensure that counter-parties don't flee an institution, that jobs are not lost, that there's not some world economic event that's disproportionate to the resolution we want."
In other words, Breuer is saying the banks have us by the balls, that the social cost of putting their executives in jail might end up being larger than the cost of letting them get away with, well, anything.
This is bullshit, and exactly the opposite of the truth, but it's what our current government believes. From JonBenet to O.J. to Robert Blake, Americans have long understood that the rich get good lawyers and get off, while the poor suck eggs and do time. But this is something different. This is the government admitting to being afraid to prosecute the very powerful – something it never did even in the heydays of Al Capone or Pablo Escobar, something it didn't do even with Richard Nixon. And when you admit that some people are too important to prosecute, it's just a few short steps to the obvious corollary – that everybody else is unimportant enough to jail.
An arrestable class and an unarrestable class. We always suspected it, now it's admitted. So what do we do?
The best we can hope is that the monied criminal class will book a cruise aboard the Carnival Triumph, lose power, rendering all of their many amenities moot, to suffer the kind of degradation they richly deserve? How many boats do you think we'll need?
You may take some small solace that where you live is better than Cicero, just don't scratch the surface or examine the books.
Monday, February 4, 2013
Whether being played up by one side or played down by the other, you're still being played. Regardless the issue, it seems, the game is the thing.
One might wish and hope for better, given the stakes, but what chance is there of that happening? The game's the same, the pitch is the same, not level, but the same playing field, the errors, both forced and unforced, the same. Oh what I wouldn't give for some evidence of performance enhancing drugs. Scrums are fun, but at some point somebody has to move the ball. Isn't that the point of the game? You might like to think so, eh?
The Jumbotron display with awesome graphics, dizzying effects and fireworks must tell us the score, right? Despite being filled, edge to edge, with
"information", it's mostly trivia, ephemera or blatant advertisements or product placement. It's still a zero-sum game on the field. The real deal,
is unwatchable. Sportsmanship? Gamesmanship? Statesmanship? Hooey!
Public spending in the aggregate, snowballs on with its winners and losers. Public policy, foreign and domestic, remains relatively static; fixed, while the potential for game change is lukewarmly debated. In the perpetual gloaming of perpetuating the game that we all find objectionable, the only game I see is a half-assed facsimile of Whack-A-Mole. Purposefully pointless. An endless indigestible series of maneuvers whose only comparable move in "sports" is the "referee-administered five count" of Professional Wrestling. All show; no go. Gouging, punching, foreign objects, chairs, tables? Okay, but when I count five you have to stop! Unless I get distracted and lose count, then I will begin again. You can stop and immediately begin again which will trigger another 5-count!
It's silly. The ref knows it, the participants know it and the audience roaring its approval knows it too. That's entertainment. Little to no public funding is involved. Politics, OTOH, is all about the movement of public funds. Or rather, the conversion of public funds into private hands, ostensibly in return for services, to provide services and somewhere down the pipeline to receive services. Yeah, over there where the kleig lights and spotlights are providing a light show. Where craft services is providing coffee and food for the repress corps (one of those fees for service ya know). Where security badges are issued, then checked and recorded for the record. Where the ringmasters, minus the top hat and whistle, carry on.
Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages... Hey Look! Doh Nuts!
Sunday, January 27, 2013
It all started innocently enough. The boys club had adjourned to closed session to discuss the things that are legal to talk about behind closed doors. One Mayor, four commissioners. At some point in the proceedings one of the commissioners introduced the idea of giving our Village Administrator a bump in pay. After all, he's a hard-working guy. A $20,000 raise would be fitting. That would make him the highest paid non-union village employee, which is only fair since the VA is at the top of the organizational chart.
Keep in mind, this is taking place in a small suburb of Chicago, Crook County, Proviso Township, Illinois; population 14,000 and change. Our present village administrator is home-grown. A childhood and lifelong friend of the Mayor, without, what one might call, credentials. Still, he rose to the top in a nationwide search for a professional administrator. His hiring was justified owing to his familiarity with our village's quirks. Since he was himself a former three term commish, he knew the ropes, the players, the game. He'd have no learning curve and he was willing to work cheap owing to his fierce loyalty to his home town.
This public administration is no big deal. It's not rocket science after all. He'd hired our first "professional" administrator back in the 90s. He helped handpick the second and gave input on the third before deciding not to seek re-election. Throughout his elected terms he was part of the ruling majority and was relatively popular.
He'd been in that back room. He knew how things worked. He didn't need to be there to fix this glitch, but somehow, things didn't go according to the script. The village is, depending on whose numbers you use, $65-85 Million in debt, resulting in a downgrade in our Moody's rating. The economy had done a number on revenues. Property values are down. We lost a major car dealship. Another had downsized expecting to be wounded in the Detroit shuffle. The trendy strip of boutiques and shoppes along the commercial district were suffering, limping or had closed/moved on. Revenues were down across the ledger. Money is tight, so it wouldn't look too good to give one guy a $20K raise. The idea was tabled.
The Mayor's usual 3-2 majority had let him and his buddy down. No harm; no foul. Then one of the usual two of that 3-2 final, broke with time-honored protocol and spoke to the local paper about what had transpired in the back room. Oh the humanity! When the paper ran the story, people were talking! The comment section of the online version started to boil. At first expressing shock and outrage at the weirdness. Then it turned. even. weirder. Like something out of Hitchcock, the seagulls arrived, pecking and flapping and crappin' all over. This is just one guy breaking "the rules" and the paper getting its jealously and hate on for the ruling majority. Our VA should be paid just like the credentialed pros. He's a nice guy. He deserves it. He's EARNED it.
This issue became such an ISSUE, that the mayor felt that he must set the record straight, so a letter was crafted, printed and mailed to every mailbox in town, giving his official interpretation of things. The raise was a non-issue. THE issue was that one commissioner transgressed the sanctity of "closed session" for purely political gamesmanship. What might seem a political piece of work limited to distribution by the mayor's campaign organization and funding, was instead a village (taxpayer) expense.
"Mayor's perogative"? Calls have been made to the various oversight and legal resources to determine if this mailing is a legitimate government function. No rulings yet... stay tuned.
Since being hired as VA, things have run smoothly. Gag orders to village employees issued and internet policies were implemented so that information comes forth (or not) only through official channels. No one speaks unless authorized! There is no official evaluation process of the VA's job performance, and no benchmarks for comparison. Nobody can say what anyone else would have done if given the position based on education and experience. The job description is a work-in-progress.
The general operating nexus is that Three beats Two. Majority rulz! I could go off on a rant concerning the scorched earth demonization of past and present opposition, critics or even questioners of the three beats two absolute method. It's a tight ship, run by our very own Captain Queeg.
I'd be embarrassed for my village if I thought it would do any good. From a purely spectator perspective, I've seen Jr. High School student governments with higher standards and ethics.
Two weeks in, it's just gotten weirder and weirder. The paper also ran a story about our newly seated rep in the state legislature's redrawn 7th district. He'd won his primary by 36 votes after a tough, ugly campaign. He was unopposed in the November general election.
He verified a rumor that one of his first hires as the new state rep was a former cop in the area who had pled guilty to obstruction of justice in a scheme/scandal that used on-duty cops and equipment to provide private security to area businesses.
The "service" was run by the chief of police who was also convicted.
That story provoked many comments as well. It then went (locally) viral! "Everybody deserves a second chance!" "Ex-felons are people too!" The paper and its operatives are unprofessional crybabies!" Muckrakers! Yellow Journalists! Smear merchants!
In another place and time, again, I might be embarrassed or even ashamed at the enjoyment I've derived from watching all of this unfold, but I'm past that. This is what happens when the cool/popular kids become empowered via shallow, popularity contests in which lying isn't just encouraged, it's the game plan. Once in power they show all of the pettiness and meanness of playground bullies everywhere.
You can actually watch society's devolution take place in real time. You can see Opposite World in a semi-controlled petri dish, up close and very personal. You can observe both the method AND the madness.
As the methodology has spread up and down the food chain, very local to township,county, state federal governments, to the UN and globally. The quirky similarities are obvious. It is a darkness differing only to the extent of the brutality practiced.
Complete with armies of orcs, goblins, trolls and seagulls in seemingly endless supply. Lots of noise and great gnashing of tooths. Flapping of wings and jaws. Full of sound and fury, all merely part of the pageant quickly rendering itself more trouble than it's worth to the average mortal.
If there's a place where this has not happened, you can be sure that it will. Sooner rather than later. Wherever herds of numbots can be driven, they will visit and their stay will be unpleasant. Resistance is futile?
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
If you're driving along the interstate away from the big city you're cruising along at 70-75 mph. There's even a tollway in Texas where you can legally drive at 85mph. Almost universally, when you cross an established (imaginary) line approaching a population center your legal speed limit drops to 55 mph. When you exit the highway, you encounter another LOWER speed limit on the exit ramp. From there the limit goes up and/or down based on the local thinking on what rate/limit balances safety and expediency factors and concerns. At the local level such things can be highly subjective and arbitrary for a variety of reasoning. Nowhere in this country, that I've seen, are posted limits an accurate reflection of actual driving habits, but the lines are clearly established.
We deal with such things on a daily basis, devoting little thought to adapting and adjusting to local conditions. Your brain registers signs and warnings at the same time it's listening to your vehicle's surround sound system. You slow down in school zones, stop at red lights, you're hopefully aware of time and relative dimensions in space and your spatial relationship to external factors. There are elaborate processes in place to regulate and monitor behavior. These too range from laissez faire to compliance checkpoints. It can be total nonsense to no nonsense and anything in between.
Despite the patchwork pattern and wildly differing emphases, in general, people adhere to the rules of the road without undue hardships. Rarely is there widespread protest or unrest surrounding the rules in general. On the contrary, the loudest, shrillest voices are proponents of stricter regulation and enforcement to address acute LOCAL anomalies. All of this, despite vast differences in equipment and driving aptitude.
If you are a motorist, you encounter the spectrum on a daily basis. You share the roads with vehicles of every size, shape and condition; driven by individuals of every conceivable ability who've somehow met and maintained the minimum qualifications for their state. Through exhaustive proxy wars, they've determined that a .08 blood alcohol content is the standard for impairment. Below that you're okay, at or above that level and you're dangerous to yourself and others. Fair enough?
I know "drivers" who are seriously impaired before they even turn the key with a BAC of 0.00. Be honest. You know them too. You see them every day on your daily commute. They can be oblivious, distracted, hyper-caffinated, multi-tasking (badly), harried, depressed, elated... That they are driving a motor-vehicle is not what they're thinking. They've driven this way every day too. They can do it in their sleep and more than a few come close each day. You never know what they might think (or not think) to do. You get behind the wheel and you take your chances, but you most certainly don't do it alone. You rely on the laws to keep the roadways relatively well-regulated.
We grasp most of the logic behind limits, but we just lose our collective shit when anyone tries to apply the same logic and guidelines to guns and ammo. Trying to limit or regulate guns in densely populated areas is turned into an assault on freedom. The first step to totalitarianism!
"Any limit on gun ownership anywhere is a threat to gun ownership everywhere!" Really? Of course not, but when your diet has consisted of a steady stream of such counter-intuitive nonsense, and you deeply believe that civilization hinges on your personal arsenal, and you've never understood anything about city life or the people who choose to live packed in like sardines, and you judge such places by the things you see and hear via your satellite dish, well Bubba, you're the expert.
The west wasn't settled by guns in towns. It was settled by prohibiting guns in town. If checking your gun at the town line was unacceptable, you didn't go to town.
You stayed free in your rural paradise. Free to carry openly without hassle. Free to hunt and shoot for sustenance or sport. Free to believe that when the city folk came to disarm you, you'd fight back. That threat was never real. City folks aren't interested in running your life. They would appreciate the same from you. You solve problems your way, based on your situation, which might require you to act as your own sheriff. Those same solutions when attempted in a densely populated urban environment do not facilitate the same outcomes.
When you hear the intractable rhetoric of gridlock over our bullet problem, one faction is believably absolute in their resolve to stand against ANY further encroachment of their Second Amendment rights. They caved, too easily some will say, on private ownership of fully-automatic weapons, on shoulder-fired rockets, RPGs, mortars, tanks, cannon and tactical nukes, so they're not about to make the same mistake again.
They're simple folk and like it. They don't want city folks telling them nothin'!
Guess what? City folks are fine with that. They'd appreciate a little bit of good ol' fashioned reciprocity. What works in rural don't work in urban and vice versa.
Agreed. Live and let live. When you cross density thresholds you adapt. Rural folk are practical? If given the chance, they might be practical about gun control?
Can we pass limits and regulations that embrace the geography?
Monday, January 7, 2013
I'm guest blogging today at Zachary Klein's Just Askin'. He asked, I responded. It was interesting to write on a deadline again. It reminded me that I should make more of an effort here.
If the reminder sticks, you may begin to see more regular updating, with a potential goal of, at minimum, a weekly post. That's not a resolution mind you; just an idea.
The Draft folder is in need of weeding. A concept of revenge writing is simmering.
Happy New Year!
Friday, December 28, 2012
Batocchio Steps up once again for Jon Swift's lasting legacy.
"Welcome to a tradition started by the late Jon Swift/Al Weisel. He left behind some excellent satire, but was also a nice guy and a strong supporter of small blogs."
The above link takes you to a list of 57 small blogs. Some you may know, others might be new to you. They are mainly single shingle efforts. Predominantly long form writing with a progressive lean. It's a solid sampler platter of styles, ideas and points of view you're unlikely to find in syndication or used as the basis of panel discussion on "Press the Meat" w/ Gravid Degory and the Village People.
Read! Absorb. Share the links and ideas in your daily conversations whenever possible.
I'll be reading my way through the list, finding kindred, honing edges and discovering new ways to consider things, from new perspectives.
I'll also be adding comments where appropriate, even if nothing more need be said on a subject.
Allowing the individual bloggers to submit one post for inclusion is probably easier for some than others, but the result is an interesting glimpse into the past year's efforts. If you like the writing, read more, visit again, pass it on and leave a kind word or put a little something in the writer's tip jar.
So many blogs; so little time.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
In 1988, at the age of 34, I was a relatively new father of two amazing babies; born 22 months apart. A daughter first, then a son. My pub crawling days were behind me (mostly). My family moved into our first (and only) home. Head down, nose to the grindstone, babies need new shoes! In the blink of an eye, my daughter was being dropped off for her first day of pre-school. Another blink and it was my son.
Blink, blink...They're both college graduates today, working in education.
I think about those blinks a lot. Part blur; part vivid memory. Amazing kids. Normal kids. Smart kids. The journey began as the typical two-working parents and daycare platform. It evolved. But wait! We didn't have kids for someone else to raise and nurture. We wanted a full-time stay-at-home parent, June & Ward Cleaver life. We agreed. We weighed our options. We went for it with a twist. Rather than June waiting for Ward to arrive home from work, it was the other way around.
It was a tough transition financially. Sacrifices were made, but we made it work.
I found flexible work. Temporary work. Part-time gigs. Then ramped up to full-time in the summer months when my teacher/wife could be home for the kids. Far from perfection and outside of the norm, but as I said, we made it work. Everybody. The whole family. Understood.
Anyway, I'm telling you this as foundation for one of those clarifying, for me, vivid memories. My daughter was on a play date and my son went down for his afternoon nap. I flipped on the TV as the opening credits for a movie on HBO were rolling. "Amazing Grace & Chuck". William Peterson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Gregory Peck...
Sounds interesting. If you missed this movie? No surprise. It was hokum, got bad reviews, although both Siskel and Ebert liked it.
The premise is that a little league pitcher (the best in his league) becomes an activist after being given a tour of a nuclear missile base. He decides to give up little league as long as these weapons exist. His boycott gets media coverage. A basketball star of the Boston Celtics, reads about the kid and decides to go see him.
He decides the kid shouldn't be alone, so he quits too and joins Chuck's cause. Now it's huge news.
Chuck's boycott grows and spreads, affecting sports around the globe. Then an evil rich guy orders a hit on the basketball star, blows up a private jet, so Chuck quits talking, so do his friends and that spreads globally too until kids everywhere aren't talking.
Hey, I told you it was hokum. But good hokum. Inspiring...
The President (Gregory Peck) gets involved. He... aww forget it. I checked and the movie is available on Netflix. Watch it for yourself. I think it's worth your time and holds up well despite the geo-political changes. Yeah, it's pure unbridled fantasy... but... "wouldn't it be nice?"
What triggered this memory? Doh! Our politics? The cascading tragedies? Our floundering, flailing logjams? Well yes, but it was the President's remarks at the Sandy Hook vigil/memorial when he said he would use "whatever powers his office has"... that made me remember Gregory Peck as POTUS calling the evil rich guy in the middle of the night (and thanks to the intertubes I was able to easily find the dialog):
President: Call him, now.
Aide: Is this Mr. Alexander Jeffries?
One moment, please, for the President of the United States.
President: Mr. Jeffries, we've never met.
Do you recognize my voice?
Jeffries: Yes, sir.
As of tomorrow morning, you will divest yourself of all financial holdings of companies public and private.
This will include your immediate resignation of all directorships and offices, as well as the sale of all stocks held by you at the market price as of tomorrow's opening.
Is all of this clear so far?
Jeffries: Yes, sir.
President: Stay very clean, Mr. Jeffries.
The FBI, the IRS and every agency under my authority will be on your tail for the rest of your life, you son-of-a-bitch!
When I envision Wayne La Pierre, Fred Phelps, Rupert Murdoch, Pam Geller, Orly Taitz, Sean Hannity, Roger Ailes, Dick Armey, Karl Rove, Newticles, Sheldon Adelson or the Koch Brothers getting this 2 am phone call, I get goosebumps.
...but wouldn't it be nice?
Monday, December 17, 2012
We need to look at everything we're doing, everything we've done and everything that has been previously proposed, only to be demonized, marginalized and summarily dismissed. While I'm thrilled that many of our politicians, media and "leaders" are expressing some willingness to alter their stands on gun control, I'm not optimistic that they are willing to do so while admitting their mistakes or taking responsibility for the consequences of both their actions and inaction.
We need to get over this rugged individualism crappola to re-establish just how interdependent we NEED to be. We need to engage, not withdraw from society. We need new heroes. It's not Donald Trump or Bill Gates or Warren Buffet and their "self-made" billions. Every cent they have they owe to profiting on misery, whether directly, actively or passively. Their advantage came with costs. Nearly 300 million Americans have accepted lowered expectations to provide these "benefits".
It's time to face facts. The hippies were right. Or at least more right than the Right has been about ANYTHING. War is not an answer to anything, let alone THE answer. We've tried it their way for 50 years, we compromised our potential to appease delusionally superior intellects for decades prior to that. American exceptionalism is a multi-faceted beast. There is a genuine willingness to live more sustainably, yet our lives and lifestyles are driven by distractions and diversions.
We can be educated AND entertained or mindlessly consume drivel. We talk of opportunity in lofty terms, but the record clearly shows incremental, artificially imposed limits and disclaimers regarding the qualifications necessary to access opportunity. To gain an advantage, you must eliminate, exclude or partition others from an equal opportunity.
This is THE national security issue and overdue to be recognized. No, it's not just guns. It's health care, it's education, it's Hollywood, it's video games, it's downsizing, it's outsourcing, it's disinvestment, it's money pools, it's too big to fail, it's military "intelligence", it's Big Oil, it's big Corporate, it's Big Charity, it's a partisan, inbred, agendized Supreme Court that's increasingly hostile to hard-fought and won rights and traditions, it's big Pharma, and our entrenched military mindset.
These last two deserve a great deal more attention in any serious discussions.
More than 1 in 3 Americans are "medicated" on any given day. (even more if you include illicit drugs/alcohol). 3.5 Billion prescriptions are written and filled every year. By rote, you can probably litany the potential side-effects, since every third commercial on the TV that us Americans consume is either for some chemical compound or some law firm offering big bucks if you, or a loved one, was taking them.
Certain "medications" disclaim suicidal thoughts, changes in mood or behavior, but
might just as well list homicidal thoughts and/or actions.
Between "Health & Beauty" and the MIC, we devote multi-BILLION$ each and every day with little real benefit to show for the money. More than 100,000 citizens die each year due to pharmacological phailure. How does the uptick in senselessness fit on the evolutionary timeline? Past bouts with rampant societal instability have often been attributed to products, by-products some natural, others man-made; i.e. ergot, typhus, methyl alcohol, syphillis, cocaine, heroin, opium, cholera, y pestis and its relations.
When we ask where the money will come from to do what is needed, the obvious answer is by spending our limited funds on things that actually make us healthier instead of providing an illusion of health.
We're providing the MIC funds to retain/maintain three centuries of military thinking. A massive, inefficient, largely non-productive standing force in a theater that is ill-suited to massive force or WMDs, that is focused on destruction rather than construction. On death instead of life. These are our potentials being stolen. Two clear paths. We've been on the wrong one for 30+ years. Every opportunity to make needed corrections have been both monetary and rhetorical tricks.
Opposite World is unfit for cohabitation. Luckily, it's still possible to live cautiously, limitedly, if not confined, within its gravitational pull.
As long as we're asking such questions, can we ask when military spending will enter into consideration?
Friday, December 14, 2012
When the NYC Teachers' Pension System pledged its $1 Billion Dollar commitment to rebuilding from the destruction of Hurricane Sandy, the reich-wing jihadists lost their shit. For them it validated everything they've been told to think of those greedy union teacher thugs. Where did teachers come up with a billion dollars?
They put it away, a little at a time, over time, for a rainy day.
POGers, Tea Partiers and Faux Noise's audience fail to grasp the concept. (I know! What a shocker!) Faux Noise continues to "comfort" them, in their inimitable ways, interrupting their ongoing cheerleading for drastic austerity measures, long enough to demonize the Teachers' Union. I don't expect the Pig People will ever fully grok their own contributions to the state of our union. So much to hate; so little time!
Even when grossly simplified, explained and itemized in detail, they prefer their spoon-fed, carefully crafted and constructed delusions about who's screwing whom in this ongoing nightmare. The rest of us will continue to have to contend with trying to drag the knuckle-draggers away from the abyss. Hoping against hope that they will come to understand and join the cause.
Bedford Falls or Pottersville. It really IS that simple.
1928, 1946 or 2012, the Potters always scoff at puny efforts of the Bailey Building & Loan. The Potters still hold MOST of the cards. They remain unhappy that they don't hold them all. They FEAR the rabble for good reason. Fooling enough of the people for just long enough has served them well enough. If they could just break through the "Red Zone" defense... and then what? That's the question.
The Rabble, all at once, or incrementally, realizing that the hippies were right all along would be a needed shock to the system. Too little; too late? Really? Being happy with little isn't as terrible as it sounds. Conceptually, the hippies have been defined rather than understood. In reality, they are you.
It's a simple model really. It's not socialism or commmunism. It's limited capitalism. We pool our resources, help each other, work together on our own terms rather than those dictated by Potter. That's what fueled the booming American economy. It wasn't the CEOs of Walmart, Halliburton, Exxon-Mobil, United Health Care. It was hundreds of thousands of small interdependent businesses in small towns and big cities across America. The same businesses that have been bought out by vulture capitalists and liquidated for CASH.
In the aftermath of Sandy, the people will rebuild. Better than before, but not different, as long as there is a Bailey Building & Loan to help. Three guesses who'll be demonizing them every. step. of. the. way.
We are us. They are who they are. Who needs whom?
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
I suppose, if I mean to be a serious contender in this game, I need a high-profile, highly-ranked and touted punching bag. Somebody, out of the over-populated field of pontificating poltroons, upon whom I, from my cheap seat in the bullpen, can get a regular work-out, a smooth, workman, sweaty take-down that would display the genuine disservice my targets' regular employment as occupiers of the "public opinion" square represents. Dissecting their latest untethered absurdities, questioning their sanities, their loyalties, their poor analogies, word choices and grammar. Punch, counter-punch, "Jane you ignorant slut" dramedy worthy of regular readership fandom.
The problem I've encountered in this approach, is not that so many other blogs have beat me to the punch, it's more that I feel positively unsanitary by paragraph two of whatever I have attempted to read and can't fight back the urge to vomit, projectile style, polluting my own environment.
It is so sad and soul-crushing to tune in on the latest edition of what's presented as insightful, thought-inducing PAID verbiage and get an immediate, overwhelming quease all over from which curling into the fetal position is the only relief.
My "drafts" folder is brimming with beginnings. Staking out the untethered idea-lambs that reflect the days' expert analysis of our shared present situations and circumstances; all of which lead to the writers' repetitive, redundant inescapable conclusions. I know why they are wrong. The main failing being that they all begin and rely on a myth, false premise or outright lie.
Examples? Do you really need me to provide? Well, okay, if you insist. Oh shit, where's my barf bag? Excuse me whilst I swap out another keyboard and gargle a bit of
I need a stronger stomach for swill or I must find a vein of previously untapped cuteness. Hedgehogs perhaps?
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Face it, we are surrounded!
"Stupid is as stupid does" - F. Gump's Momma
We are millions and millions, were coming to get ya
Were protected by unions so don't let it upset you
Can’t escape the conclusion, it’s probably gods will
that civilization will grind to a standstill
And we are the people who will make it all happen
While your children is sleepin’, your puppy is crappin’
You might call us flakes or something else you might coin us
We know you're so greedy that you'll probably join us
Were coming to get ya, were coming to get ya
Were coming to get ya, were coming to get ya
Were coming to get ya, were coming to get ya
Were coming to get ya, were coming to get ya
But, given that union membership has declined precipitously since FZ penned Flakes in 1976 and that buying anything that's still American-made is nigh on impossible and just about everything we buy these days is non-serviceable; even cheesier; obsolete prior to purchase; disposable...
And since the single constant throughout are flakes of the elected variety with their flying fickle fingers of blame and since they're still trying to blame unions and dirty fucking hippies...,
"Flakes" becomes biting high satire ala Randy Newman's "Short People" or "Rednecks"
Anthems that chronicle perceptions rather than reflect reality.
(insert obligatory 2nd Day of Zappadan image here)