Red, Black, and Blue

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Guest Post by Heretick

You’re a grand old flag,
You’re a high flying flag
And forever in peace may you wave.
You’re the emblem of
The land I love.
The home of the free and the brave.
Ev’ry heart beats true
‘neath the Red, White and Blue,
Where there’s never a boast or brag.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eye on the grand old flag.

You’re a Grand Old Flag
by George M. Cohan

Life in these United States is rough, especially for the working poor, this is a subject that just doesn’t get enough attention. Yes, lot’s of ink is given to the truly poor, those who qualify for SNAP (food stamps), rental assistance, utility assistance, and the various other govt. programs, but not for those who slave away year after year, just making enough to keep their heads above water, but never enough to get ahead. Our gracious host asked a question on one of his posts recently which was if we were all tired of whining yet, it was unclear if the question was aimed at our Masters in DC, NYC, and sundry other locations, or whether it was aimed at we denizens of the underclass; no matter, I shall just ramble on.

Just consider, as I’m sure you have, the physical and psychological stressors borne by the great unwashed (speaking metaphorically), and the range of mixed messages we must process just to keep our heads on straight.

Let’s start with something basic, sex, always a good start, something we can all relate to, because as it is said, if someone wasn’t monkeying around, wouldn’t any of us be here. Being a straight male, I can only write from my own perspective, but the reader is free (of course) to relate my thoughts to whatever fits their own circumstances the best. Look at what is paraded in front of the average red-blooded American man, cleavage, T and A, Giselle, Heidi, The World’s Next Top Model, and let’s not forget Ms. Upton; what a masterstroke of marketing genius! Just plain old Kate, why she’s just an ordinary girl, down to earth. Meanwhile back on Planet Earth, how is the average male to look at the old warhorse over on the Barcolounger? Who has thickened up thru the process of having his kids?

As Joni Mitchell so eloquently states.

Doctors’ pills give you brand new ills
And the bills bury you like an avalanche
And lawyers haven’t been this popular
Since Robespierre slaughtered half of France!
And Indian chiefs with their old beliefs know
The balance is undone crazy ions
You can feel it out in traffic
Everyone hates everyone!
And the gas leaks
And the oil spills
And sex sells everything
And sex kills
Sex kills

Yup, stuck between a rock and, well, never mind.

Speaking of traffic, we’ve seen them on teevee, itís the slim young hipsters, in their smart cars with their cell phones, bright young faces going places, the packaged and commodified non-conformists creating their calling plan so nobody is late for the show, where no doubt they will strum their guitars and and beat their drums (Made in China), and lament the death of the Late Great Planet Earth, Hal Lindsey reference not intended.

C’mon, admit it, itís creepy, you see them on the street, texting, talking, in their spandex on the treadmill (why donít they hook those things up to a generator? people would pay).
The perfect people, the enlightened, iím sure they donít drink coffee or smoke cigarettes. These people are scary, all in their own orbit, and if they know that they are being controlled? They seem to like it.

And the cars! Why they talk to you! And Sly? He drives a Ferrari, of course. My truck doesn’t talk to me, just bings when I leave the turn signal on, or don’t fasten the seat belt, because God knows I would be such a loss, or even worse, a burden, but we’ll get back to that. In any case, probably it would be best to get a great big neon sign to attach to the tailgate, it could flash out “LOSER” once every 3 seconds. I think the denizens of the ghetto have got it right, know what they say? “S’up Dog?”, a statement of fact, you’re a dog, I’m a dog, everywhere a dog, dog. You could even become a bounty hunter, get a TV show, put the other dogs in the kennel.

Yes, all these poor people, such a burden on society, eating our food, sucking up our resources, just too many of them; and if they are lucky enough to have a job? Why, they should just be grateful. That’s right, Bob, grateful. It’s not like the Boss Man is making any money off them. Just a big bunch of ungrateful losers, a great big fat burden for the rest of us, we who are smarter, harder workers, who play by the rules, unlike them.

My very favorite is the Sunday shows, where carefully coiffed and groomed experts give serious statements about current occurrences thru their lying horse teeth, pearly whites and big mouths being so much more telegenic, don’t you know. Then after you are informed that your common sense opinions on matters of life and death are so very mistaken, you are treated to 5 minutes of adverts for your retirement plan, and how you had better get on the stick boy, Time flies, and you better get on the horn and call up T. Rowe Price and make some sound investments with all that extra cash you have lying around. What? What’s that you say? You don’t have a retirement plan? Loser.

Probably become a burden to your children, because that’s what’s important, the children, isn’t it? Why, you probably shouldn’t have had any, overpopulating the planet, don’t you care about Mother Earth? Probably not, don’t even care about your very own Mother. Such a Loser.

But here’s the beauty of it, the battering, the depression, the lack of response, that good old deer in the headlights look, it’s for free. Many people don’t realize, well, Howie says it best,

… It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters…

Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say, Napoleonic times.

Howard W. Campbell Jr.
Slaughterhouse Five
Kurt Vonnegut

Why are Americans never going to revolt? Why will they never effect any meaningful political change? Because they are too busy beating themselves up, beating themselves black and blue; if they aren’t beating themselves up, they’re beating someone else up, on the street, in a foreign country, and of course, there’s no place like home.

The web makes it easy to look up the statistics, crime, poverty, drug usage. There are more people in the US on legal drugs than illegal I would hazard to conjencture, but one thing is for sure, We’re Number 1! We’re Number 1! We’re Number 1!

Yes, the Good Old USA, the country that gave you road rage, drive by shootings, drone wars, and KFC, it’s Finger Lickin’ Good!

I think we should change the colors on the US flag, and it’s not just because we borrowed the colors from the bloody English (oh, excuse me, the “UK”) or the French , who we all know are Communists; it’s because our flag no longer represents the true state of America, if indeed it ever represented anything at all. Maybe we should just be honest about it, adopt the Silver and Black, Thunder and Lightning, Shock and Awe, hell, let’s just go all the way, admit we are the Black Hole of the Universe, Raider Nation, Buccaneers, Pirates.

No? Too many contractual commitments? Copyright problems?

Ok, then how about Black and Blue? Such is the state of most of America, figuratively speaking, or is that literally? So confusing. If the injuries are not readily apparent, we can fix that, just go down to City Hall and try to claim it as yours. Black and Blue doesn’t just tell the whole story though, does it? We need something to add some definition, how about something the color of blood? Red!

And if some of that Red splashes on the camera lens? All the better, if it bleeds, it leads.

That’s the ticket! By golly, I think we’ve got it, Red, Black, and Blue. It’s a Grand Old Flag.

 

74 Responses to Red, Black, and Blue

  1. Disaffected says:

    Nice work HT. You’ve really got the knack for this writing stuff!

    And I think you’ve hit on the crux of it:

    Why are Americans never going to revolt? Why will they never effect any meaningful political change? Because they are too busy beating themselves up, beating themselves black and blue; if they aren’t beating themselves up, they’re beating someone else up, on the street, in a foreign country, and of course, there’s no place like home.

    This is the point that Morris Berman makes so eloquently over and over again in all his works. Why don’t poor Americans (the 99%) revolt? Because they’ve bought into the capitalist myth that they can all too become the prototypical “economic ubermensch” – the 1% (or even better, the .01%!!!) of Americans who can kick sand in the face of reality and the rest of us and proclaim themselves ONCE AND FOR ALL as WINNERS!!! And granted, it’s a powerful myth, fatally flawed as it most obviously is.

    Nonetheless, it will no doubt lead to our (the world’s) destruction within the next 100 years or so. Now we know what the biblical prophets and their like were seeing in their prophetic reveries all those centuries ago.

    • Disaffected says:

      First of all , an apology for yet another link to my idea of a good music video, in this case yet another Jackson Browne video at that, but the link to the post title seems proximate enough for at least a couple of reasons.

      First of all, the domestic violence that Browne speaks of here is endemic to a society under siege from violence from a capitalist oligarchy above, whether economic and/or military in nature.

      Second of all, a purely personal reason, in that the love of my life Victoria, a recent Honduran emigre, has faced American violence first hand in all respects: first hand in her home country as a direct result of American economic/military policies, second in her adopted country at the hands of her sponsoring “husband”, and third an American job market that is stacked against her from the start (and no, I’m sorry white American females, the market is definitely NOT stacked against you no matter HOW MANY TIMES you proclaim it!).

      Nonetheless, I’m not bitching on her behalf. Our life is good and she is great. The most positive life force I’ve ever met. I now firmly believe that divestment is the best policy. Not because it makes you somehow “virtuous,” but simply because it makes you HAPPY!

      Will that be the cure to this capitalist disease that ails us? One can only hope!

      and this one seems appropriate too…

      • the Heretick says:

        not hard to hear why you are such a Jackson Browne fan, eminently listenable, and with an excellent message. very deep stuff, almost hard to listen to, very emotional music. you might just civilize me yet. whether that would be a good thing or not?

    • the Heretick says:

      indeed, in our recent exchanges we saw some of that violence, lots of those You Tube hits. it’s a regular hit, smack, and beat down parade!!!! all day, everyday. always a couple of working class people in conflict, if you stop and think about it.

      • Disaffected says:

        Yep! The rich have the luxury of concealing their violence, although just like the violence they inflict on us, much of it is cold, not necessarily physical, and more often than not, impersonal.

  2. Ron McCafferty says:

    Excellent writing once again, HT.
    I think it was a marketing master who came up with “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses”.
    But they left out the part where they can abuse the living shit out of them for profit.
    Peace out, my brotha’.

  3. Great post, and so true, HT.
    I believe that became our flag, there will be those who will salute it and cherish it just the present one!

    • the Heretick says:

      thanks, RM, DC, DA, and SK!

      this is almost therapeutic for me, it’s not until a person gets feedback that they sometimes realize even what they are thinking. what i’m trying to say is when someone, like say DA, challenges something, well, it makes a person stop and think, question themselves.

      maybe just my particular circumstances, but working for essentially a tiny two-bit company (it’s a paycheck) and people are just at each others throats, backstabbing, puffing themselves up, by Wednesday i’m tired, Friday just drained. and it’s hard to stay separate, hard to not vent. yes, i know, the middle path, the way, the Zen, but more and more i ask myself, what would Tyler Durden do? just kidding.

      anyhow, i’m not the only one hurting. so narcissistic. but hey, why not feel sorry for yourself! probably no one else will, they’re too busy feeling sorry for themselves! but i think there is a point there, our macho society tells us not to feel hurt, suck it up, crybaby. maybe if more people could really feel, didn’t drug themselves, lash out at others, make do, maybe we could build a better world.

      • Disaffected says:

        I can only say it should be a little more than ‘almost therapeutic’ for you there HT. For my money, you’re doing yeoman’s work here: simple yet excellent, possibly unappreciated, and therefore all the more excellent. And some of your best work yet. Just saying what’s on your mind/in your heart. Simple, isn’t it?

        By the way, I’m back Nebraska way this week again. Quite refreshing to get a breath of the great plains this time of year again! They are magnificent in their sheer scope and magnificence. Even from the lowly view of a mere car traveling on the great ribbon of highway (and buffeted mightily by springtime storms I might add!!!), across eastern Colorado/western Nebraska, I have to say the sheer enormity of nature in this part of the world – even compared to the grandeur of the gaudy Rocky Mountains, which always steals their thunder – is a wonder to behold!

        Anyway, it’s spring again and life blooms anew. Life is good again, if only for a moment. In the end, that’s all we ever have anyway. Moments.

        • the Heretick says:

          Sandy has my e-mail. If you ever think of heading this way. From Nebraska you head south until you smell it, keep going until you step in it.

          • Disaffected says:

            Nebraska was pretty this time of year, but same old stupidity as ever. Bunch of pols running for midterms bad mouthing Obama care, albeit for all the wrong reasons of course. Communism, socialism they scream! Corporate give away I screamed back. Sigh!

            The people of the American ‘Heartland’ may be the salt of the earth, but perceptive they most definitely ain’t. Gonna be real hard to feel sorry for them when they get exactly what they ask for. The plutocracy’s Obama as a Trojan Horse strategy will no doubt pay dividends for decades. And if HillBillary rides his coattails into office next we’ll know the Grand Bargain has been struck: two parties effectively unified as one on everything that actually matters (war, taxes, and the social safety net) determined to press the Oligopoly’s advantage to the bitter end, which will likely not be long from now if Peak Oil and AGW work out like like it appears they will. It remains to be determined what the hyper-rich will do after they attain the nefarious goals (probably start in on each other me thinks), but that will be another story for another day.

            • the Heretick says:

              i commented on another site, it seems to fit with this discussion, so i will paste it over here.

              the depravity of collapse will mirror what we have seen humans do to each other in the past. the US is a good case study. since the oil shocks of the 70′s US politics has been all about the oil, we have an entire generation which has grown up in a shrinking economy, and cannibalization is the norm.
              multi-national corps. ship jobs overseas, the population responds by cannibalizing each other, murder, rape, you name it, we got it.
              these are the behaviors a predatory system teaches its populace, monkey see, monkey do, it’s called social conditioning.
              never mind that 60 % of what is labeled made in china is produced by subsidiaries of american corps, it still costs money and burns fuel to transport this crap around the planet.
              that’s what we have, fuel being burned to enrich the few.
              back to the point, the competitive paradigm has been truly learned by the volk here in amerika, many are armed, and it’s not just the rednecks; in the inner city among the lower classes you are considered stupid if you don’t have a gun.
              but it’s not just the beatings and shootings, it’s the economic pressure of losing a job,
              the total lack of any meaningful social safety net, the quiet despair of trying to live on $9/hour.
              what we have going on is a quiet collapse, and it’s ugly. maybe in places such as NZ the disorder bearing down upon us can be limited, i don’t think that will be the case in a big brawling country like the USA.
              the best a person can do is try to get away, and that is near impossible when every inch of land is either privately or publicly owned. the simple fact is that govt. is breaking down, not doing its job.
              all the ugliness we have been seeing will only get a million times worse when collapse accelerates, maybe that is what it will take for the human race to learn its lesson. now whether we will have a planet still capable of supporting life? that does seem to be the question.

              • Ron McCafferty says:

                Heretick, you don’t know how right you are about cannibalism. I went to a budget meeting for the county I live in because teacher pay increase of 3% was on the list.
                My wife and I, along with two other people were the only ones below 50 years old. The bitterness and what I would call downright nasty attitude of the older folks was disheartening.
                I understand that they are on fixed income. But so am I!!!!! I get paid once a month and that pay does not go anywhere near what these older folks use to get for their money when they were my age. Inflation is a secret weapon that hardly anyone is aware of. Why it happens and who controls it.
                But these older folks sound just like Sean Hannity or Tea Party hacks. No one, it seems, can see past the end of their own nose. The tax increase on their property amounted to 2 cents per hundred. The ones that screamed the most were people who bought 300 to 500 thousand dollar RETIREMENT HOMES ON THE GOLF COURSE!!!!
                What ever happened to retiring modestly? Who in there right mind does that? But these are the excesses of the ME generation. Packaged and sold by the OWNERS of the market.
                I come from a union family in a union city. We used to have a term we called “killing the un-borns”. The older guys would agree to concessions in order to get keep their full bennies. The new guys had to fend for themselves. It’s the same thing in the general public. These rich psychopaths will sit in their gated homes, protected by private armies and watch the rest of the poorer folks eat them selves. They’ll come out when the time is right, clean up the mess and everything will stay just the way they like it. Our only hope is that Mother Earth will clean them up as well.

                • the Heretick says:

                  well, i was fired last Monday, so am unemployed. sort of in a funk. applied for unemployment, we’ll see how that goes. thank my late wife for my children, they swear I will never be homeless. if not for the Survivors bennies we would have been destitute, and once again, she’s the one who paid in, done more for us since she’s been gone…………….
                  no disrespect for the lady, she could work when she had a mind to, and she did a good job on the children, a warrior woman.

                  depending on how bad things get? no telling what’s on the menu, as much is hinted at in the last installment of the Walking Dead…………..

                  here’s the problem with right-wingers, they don’t accept the Marxist critique, and it’s correct, it is absolutely correct, it just is, sorry to whoever may be offended.
                  here’s the problem with left-wingers, they don’t accept the Marxist critique either, not really. they want to play like they do, but their policies are careless, not thought out, and they will not challenge the status-quo, so we get the ACA which I will have to sign up for.

                  anyhow, i am pulling some old canvases off some stretchers, couple paintings I am rolling up, tossing a couple, have a couple ideas for some non-specific abstract.

                  the people you speak of are just ate up with it, as we say, not much can be said about them, they are just cruel. the reason I brought up left/right wing stuff is the supposed left just hands these right wing mouthpieces ammunition by refusing to speak truth to power.
                  I have listened to the fat man, he and his ilk use circular reasoning to blame the very ills caused by our heartless for profit system upon the misguided semi-socialist policies of the liberals. between liberals and conservatives i can’t say who i despise the most.

                  all this being said, i agree with some right-wing critiques, i disagree with the so-called welfare state, it does breed dependence, but then i support guaranteed employment, a guaranteed income for the disabled, tight control of the commodity markets, outlawing of derivatives, none of which any politician, even Bernie Sanders, has never proposed. to my knowledge.

                  one of the reasons we never get anywhere is the purity tests both of the puppet parties enforce, you must be in line with every policy of either sham party to be considered for office. i see a strain of intolerance in just about every segment of our population.

                  we may be liberal or conservative, but we all like a witch hunt, it’s weird.

                  • Disaffected says:

                    My condolences HT. Are you gonna land on your feet? And yes, I think Obama has pounded the final nail in the liberal Democrat coffin. What my mom’s been saying all these years really is true: the Democrats will always disappoint you! Baked into the cake really, as they are little more than “kinder, gentler” conservatives in the first place. The same people elect them with the same money and the same basic economic and militarist policies benefit them as their overtly conservative Republican friends. In the end, big money always, always, always(!) looks after their own first and foremost regardless of Party affiliation. Any help the working class actually gets is always just coincidental and more often than not unintentional.

              • Disaffected says:

                The US has the farthest to fall, therefore, especially considering we’re currently eagerly dismantling what few social safety nets we have left, our landing will be the most traumatic. If the young’ns now only had a clue what is in store for them… Maybe that’s why they remain steadfastly glued to their social media apps.

  4. Disaffected says:

    Interesting, albeit long-winded article on “effective” climate change policy today here: http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2014/04/sorry-kyoto-signatories-emissions-traders-carbon-taxers-homo-oeconomicus-wont-save-climate-part-2.html

    Unfortunately, to my mind at least, the only point the author effectively makes is that climate change will never be effectively dealt with through legislation, which is why the classical liberal case for change in this area is effectively bankrupt. A complete non-starter, no matter which half the duopoly gains office. Just another reason why I believe we’ve already shit the bed with regard to AGW. If not already, then in the years just ahead, as we have no intention whatsoever to convert from carbon until it’s economically impossible to keep using it.

    • the Heretick says:

      you’re right about long-winded, i honestly couldn’t read it. all i need to hear is “carbon futures” or “market” and i know that the wealthy are planning to make money all the way to the bottom. tell me if i’m wrong.

      • Disaffected says:

        You’re right of course. The word ‘markets’ has become a code word for status quo. Why do we do this, that, or the other with regard to anything? Because markets, aka shut the fuck up, it makes us money!

  5. Zerk says:

    You’ll have to forgive me, but I am so feeling a kulturcritic t-shirt in this red, black, & blue thing. Sandy?

  6. kulturcritic says:

    OK Zerk… your in charge of production and financing. I will do the marketing and direct sales. LOL!!!

  7. Disaffected says:

    I saw McCain on Meet The Press yesterday beating the warm drums for Ukraine again. Wants us to “at the very least” start arming the Pro-US factions, which of course he conveniently forgot to add were US sponsored all along. The cold war lives on in doddering old fools like that who simply won’t do the decent thing and fucking DIE already! I’d have the utmost respect for Putin if he arranged a ‘summit’ of sorts with McCain as the guest of honor and then offed the old bastard (with extreme prejudice!) live on satellite TV. Of course there’d still be a cash payment of some kind due to Putin for doing the US’s dirty work, but that goes without saying… Maybe if we started executing these old fucks every time they open their fucking mouths calling for war we could make the world safe again for the rest of us. Just a thought.

    • Ron McCafferty says:

      Maybe if we started executing these old fucks every time they open their fucking mouths calling for war we could make the world safe again for the rest of us. Just a thought.

      I’ll drink to that one, DA.

      • Disaffected says:

        I think McCain is steadily making the case for early euthanasia, and I’m thinking Arizona would be the ideal test bed.

        • Ron McCafferty says:

          Here is something I wrote about war. Hope you enjoy it.
          On this Veteran’s Day,
          Let us focus solely on war itself.
          War takes from a Mother, Who over many months carries inside her this developing
          future soldier.
          As she cries through the pain of labor, She is rewarded with a miracle, and she is
          filled with the memories to come from the happiness she now holds.
          War takes from a Father. Who over those same many months, consoles and
          converses, worries and hopes, shares and conceals,
          The thoughts of being a Father and what is to become of his child.
          War sends back the dead for whom the journey of life is now over,
          Leaving only a Mother and Father, Family and Friends to wonder what could have
          been.
          War sends back the broken, physically and mentally. A child gone away comes back….
          different.
          All of it leaves us wondering…..
          Was it worth it? Did we know our enemy?
          War and those who start them are the true enemies of life, which is a miracle to be
          cherished, not destroyed.
          On this day remember All who served. But…..
          Think of how different life could have been, still could be,
          If we looked our enemy in the eye……
          And just stuck out our hand.

          Ron McCafferty

          • Disaffected says:

            I like that Ron! And it states the obvious. Why in the world are we focusing on veterans and the dead, when the real focus should be on the event for which we’re “honoring” them in the first place.

            I felt the same way the entire time I was in and under the threat of deployment into hostilities (I was an Air Force pussy, and a mere aircraft maintenance guy at that. Air Bases are ALWAYS protected VERY robustly, especially considering the US ALWAYS has air superiority, since it no longer fights enemies that actually have the ability to fight back.). Fuck all the parades and public displays! How about electing some assholes who keep us out of this shit in the first place?

            Wars are inherently STUPID and almost always settle nothing. Nonetheless, they are extremely profitable for our ruling class, who likewise never share in the pain and suffering.

            As USMC Major Gen Smedley Butler noted as early as 1935:

            http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/warisaracket.html

            • Ron McCafferty says:

              Thanks DA. I, too, served. At the time I was “ignorant and proud”. Always socially conscious being raised in a union family. But my grandfather was in WWII and my dad was in Vietnam so I just followed the trend. It wasn’t until after I left the service that I started pursuing history and reading a lot. Books like “A Peoples History of the United States” really opened my eyes and started me thinking and looking at war(and everything else) from a financial perspective.
              Which, when I think about it, is what we are drowning in anyway. EVERYTHING is monetized. Every radio station announces the market ratings like that really means something to us. We are made to think that a rich persons problem is our problem (shit rolls down hill). When I suggest to people that even church is monetized they look at me strangely and don’t know what to say. But just the mere fact that they spend money to buy clothes, bibles and gas to go on Sunday creates a demand for the dollar. It is quite simple when one puts rational thought to it.
              But as it has been plainly spelled out on this and other posts, people are too busy with distractions. They won’t see it coming until it is crashing through their windshield (too busy texting/driving). Let’s hope that they at least have their seat belts on.

    • the Heretick says:

      i will say one thing for his highness, the Big O, he has kept us out of land wars, sort of. there are dirty little wars going on in Africa right now, dirty little wars which are kept out of the news. remember we set up that African command…………………
      besides Obomber does prefer remote control.

      McCain is just such a moron, what’s the matter with AZ? it’s really hard to top Inhofe for ignorance, it really is. grandpa has not come to terms with the fact we should never have been in SE Asia, this country hasn’t come to terms with it really, the Haircut had a brief moment, a chance, but then he is Skull and Bones.

      • Disaffected says:

        Dirty little wars have been all the rage since Vietnam, with only the two interludes in Iraqistan, which were really only slightly larger themselves. So Ukraine represents a truly ballsy escalation; a direct confrontation with another major power where the outcome would truly be in doubt. Truth is, American military power ain’t actually all that, in that it always has to remain harnessed to the overriding imperative of not disrupting global markets. Interrupt the profit flow and the oligarchs will kick the military to the curb in a Wall St second. So that tells me that all this sabre rattling is a calculated risk based on enormous profit potential, almost certainly access to Russian gas and oil supplies. Nonetheless, I’m not sure their risk calculations are based on the reality on the ground in Ukraine. As in, Putin ain’t some third world tin pot dictator who’s going to merely roll over and play dead. And the Russian army, however unfunded and under trained they may be, ain’t going to lay down their arms and defect for the allure of American bling. Capitalism may have finally met its antithesis. People who can’t be bought.

        • Ron McCafferty says:

          One thing is certain. The Russians are not to be underestimated. Careful review of WWII is testament to that. I think they lost 20 million in the process of defeating Germany. All the US had to do was clean up what was left and even then there were difficulties. But the US gets all the glory in the end. Go figure.

          • Disaffected says:

            Yeah, in the US rendition of history, that’s true. I doubt the one taught in Russian schools is so glowing. As Oliver Stone’s latest noted, the Russians actually won WWII for us. Any reading of the actual statistics and accounts of the war finds that conclusively. US written history is nothing more than pro-US propaganda. We, as Americans, need to grow up and get the fuck over ourselves. The capitalist US and its mid-east sockpuppet Israel have been THE overriding force for evil in the world post WWII BAR NONE!

          • the Heretick says:

            it is the Russians backyard, we are just blowing smoke. it’s strategically impossible to actually invade Russia, well, not impossible, people have done it, and failed.
            all the talk on the web is about economic consequences, the same strategy employed against other nations we wish to bring to heel.

            before i watched the video i was thinking Pandora’s box. after watching, it is a powerful message. what’s interesting is Pandora’s box wasn’t a box, it was a jar, and the greatest evil contained therein was Hope.

            something to meditate upon.

            • Disaffected says:

              Economic consequences have real consequences in that part of the world however, and the responses are usually anything but. As Archdruid’s post last year pointed out, the US is much more vulnerable militarily than the current ass-clowns in charge think, and one of these times they are going to find that out the hard way. Sink a carrier or two and the US would be forced to use some their much ballyhooed high tech aerial weaponry (F-22s, B2s, etc.) in an actual battle with consequences and then we’ll see how invulnerable we really are. I’m guessing not all that much, especially if the skirmish were to be protracted, which it most definitely would be. Even nukes would only decide the initial battle. The hard feelings on both sides would last for generations, assuming there were generations left to follow. And the rest of the world would hardly be so forgiving over a US first strike this time either. The US would be rightly painted as a pariah state and shunned accordingly. On the plus side, that would at least put and end to all this global capitalism nonsense once and for all.

  8. Disaffected says:

    Excellent take on the Ukrainian fiasco in today’s Counterpunch.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/15/is-putin-being-lured-into-a-trap/

    • the Heretick says:

      “Ukrainian troops found themselves operating in often-hostile territory, while militants proclaiming loyalty to Russia were welcomed by cheering residents as defenders.

      Ukraine says the militants are led by Russian agents, and that Moscow is aiming to slice off another piece of Ukrainian territory after annexing Crimea last month. Russia denies this.

      The Ukrainian army also appeared in bad shape: Some of the soldiers blocked by civilians were reservists with rusty vehicles who eagerly accepted the food and water offered to them.

      A security official in the capital Kiev said the government was well aware of the army’s troubles, adding that its performance would improve.”

      and this is from The Wall Street Journal!!!!

      http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20140416-713428.html

      maybe, just maybe, the Masters of the Universe have figured out that blowing stuff up is the opposite of production. sure, you make lots of dollars, but in the end, in reality, especially with energy shortages and a ballooning debt? doesn’t make sense.

      (i know you don’t think debt is an issue, i don’t exactly agree.)

      i’ve been saying it for a while, someone needs to do a balance sheet on our war-fighting costs, there just may be a point of diminishing returns.

      • Disaffected says:

        HT,

        Debt is not an issue from the perspective of a sovereign currency issuer, even more so when that sovereign currency is the reserve (default) currency for the world, especially in a deflationary environment, which the world found itself in post 2008. This should be obvious to anyone and everyone who has watched the mounting debt escalation over the past decade plus with no apparent ill effects. What does matter however is what that debt is used for. If that debt is used for productive investments (infrastructure: structural, equipment, and labor) which will actually grow the future economy, debt is good. Future tax revenues will grow to offset it, and all will be sustainable in the long run(theoretically at least, realizing that the entire capitalist exponential growth paradigm is nothing more than a glorified Ponzi scheme). In the case of the ongoing US bailout since 2008, debt was used as nothing more than a means to maintain the status quo. Wall St and the major banks were reconstituted at our expense, all to maintain a real estate bubble that is now at risk of collapsing yet again, and even worse, the assets were taken off troubled banks’ balance sheets and out onto the Fed’s. Thereafter, Fed issued funny money had nowhere to go other than the big banks, who did what big banks do these days, thanks to the Obot’s failure to enforce and toughen banking regulations in the wake of 2008: invest it in Wall St equities (the stock market) and assorted derivatives scams (the global capitalist casino market), with even less protection than before! All of which spells a 2008 collapse all over again very soon, albeit it at an appropriately exponentially higher level.

        So, to clarify my position on government debt: US Government debt is not a limiting factor AT ALL, especially in the short term regarding bail outs for the working poor, even if it came to such an extreme position as a guaranteed salary for everyone, which in any case would be THE MOST EFFECTIVE means of jump starting a stalled economy due to lack of demand. Note that government debt has been no impediment whatsoever in bailing out the Wall St banks so far, with negligible results to show for it, absent an uptick in Wall St secondary market stock prices (the trading of paper).

        But to reiterate, Government “debt” since the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 is NOTHING MORE THAN the size of the Treasury’s issuance of US dollars. It could be resolved tomorrow (although it won’t be) with the stroke of a few pens, but that would defeat it’s true purpose. Which is to make a handful EXTREMELY rich and powerful at the expense of the rest of us. Hard to believe, but true.

        But to your main point. REST ASSURED, someone HAS done the balance sheet on warfighting. And REST ASSURED their calculations include things you and I don’t know (or do, but most still won’t confront). Just as a start, imagine if the US declared “peace all over” tomorrow and disbanded the armed forces tomorrow. Directly, where would all those people go (military and civilian), and what would they do next? What would we do with all that land and infrastructure? Indirectly, what would all the people dependent on those people’s incomes do, many of whom don’t even realize that they ARE dependent? And so on.

        Bottom line: The US is operating on borrowed time, and all the American Exceptionalist bullshit is nothing more than a smokescreen to keep that dying illusion alive. And debt, although not unlimited, is being used as an excuse to do what empires of the rich always do: perpetuate themselves not only at the expense of the “third world” poor on which they primarily prey, but the “second world” poor within their own nation states, which they predate even more profoundly.

        • Disaffected says:

          Put another way, US debt is the ultimate fungible political concept. When politically “necessary,” (times of war or other politically defined national “emergency”) it’s unlimited use is beyond question (due to its implicit and unquestioned unlimited supply). In times of austerity (when the rich are doing fine, but the poor need help), it’s an unmitigated evil, which the poor, dependent as they are on limited household budgets (the inability to print their own money) and lack of economic savvy, accept as a basic truism.

          • the Heretick says:

            yes, however, in the end it’s representative of finite assets, why i linked the drought map.
            fractional reserve is a mystery to lots of people, but people who hold the paper expect something for their chits.
            i’ve got to go with the gut on this one.
            i do agree about “the ultimate fungible political concept”, but are you letting that unduly color your perception of the situation?

            • Disaffected says:

              All I’m saying is that US inability to service its “debt” will be used (as planned) to contract the money supply, thereby leaving those dependent on a steady flow of cash (pretty much the 99%) to do things like eat, buy clothes, and keep a roof over their head, utterly penniless and despondent. From there, the inevitable population contraction will be… inevitable.

              The dependence on infinite resources part is the overriding flaw in the larger capitalist system as a whole. So regardless of money supply issues, overall system collapse(s) was baked into the cake from day 1. But we’ll go through the former – money supply collapse – on the way to getting to the latter. And I’m sure the hyper-wealthy think that if we go through the former very soon we can delay the latter at least a few decades, maybe longer, until technology magically comes riding to the rescue again. Remains to be seen, they might even be right, but if the AGW projections are correct, it’s all a pipe dream anyway.

              • the Heretick says:

                planned or not looks like that’s the glide path, into the side of the mountain. of debt.
                the welfare state is just a delaying action, an attempt to ameliorate the reality of the corporate state, doomed to failure as it doesn’t change anything.

                the poor have always been squeezed, it’s only going to get worse.

              • the Heretick says:

                now let me be perfectly clear…………..i agree with your reasoning. the super-rich have their getaways, probably up in BC, MT, ID, there is an area up there where Turner has his ranch, swimming pools and movie stars.

                • Disaffected says:

                  Ted used to have a ranch out in NM too but I think he sold it off. Probably not upscale enough for his refined tastes.

  9. Disaffected says:

    Another take by the irrepressible Paul Craig Roberts, in his typical over the top polemic style:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/15/the-attack-on-russia-is-mounting/

    Where Roberts calls out Putin for not being aggressive enough in confronting American meddling in the region, Whitney in the link above asserts that he’s being set up to do exactly that. Needless to say, more than a few interpretations of what’s going on in this latest game of international intrigue and possible brinkmanship, but safe to say many/most/all outside the thrall of the American MSM see through the smokescreen of US Gov bullshit and see this whole misadventure for what it is: the latest attempt by the US Gov and its hired sock puppets to subvert legitimate governments everywhere of whatever stripe to further US based (for now, at least) capitalist interests. And the interesting/scary part is that they barely even try to conceal it anymore. Not that most in the US are even paying attention anymore. Chalk it up to the somnambulance of the corporate capitalist captured masses.

    • the Heretick says:

      Americans are too busy beating each other up, over, whatever.
      i disagree with Roberts, i think the Chinese and Russians know exactly what they are doing,

      the US is exhausted, even the troops are only in it for the money, the new GI bill, but that’s wearing thin. in the end the Army is working class, they talk with people back home who are unemployed. of course the proles have always been pitted against each other.
      this country is one good dust bowl away from ultimate collapse.
      http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/
      just look at that map. OK has been technically in drought for years, for years.

      time for the power elite to pull their heads out of their asses.

      • Disaffected says:

        The power elite have been beyond giving two shits about the masses for years. We’re WAY beyond that my friend!

        • the Heretick says:

          oh i’m not saying the power elite care, i’m saying that despite all the jingoistic programming, this country is wearing out, in more ways than one.
          our soil is depleting, our aquifers are depleting, we’re cracking the crust to pull out the last drops of petrol, but more than all that, the people are zombies by and large, they know no other way.
          cascading failures of complex systems always take people by surprise, it may take awhile, the happy talk keeps most in denial, and the power brokers maybe the most, their comfy positions depend on it.

          • Disaffected says:

            Agreed on that! Most all of the gains to be had from computerization have been exhausted already, and now were left with fragile, overly complex systems that virtually no one understands in the aftermath. The next collapse will almost certainly be utter and complete, leaving us all to fend for ourselves once more. It won’t be pretty.

      • Disaffected says:

        Looks like the drought regions are exactly the same as the 40’s too. The one to worry about however is the San Joaquin Valley in CA. Most of the US fresh produce comes out of there. The panhandle of Texas and eastern CO and western KS and NE should have never been farmed in the first place. And when they finally deplete the Ogallala aquifer it won’t be. Got a cousin out there in western NE doing irrigation farming now. Don’t even know what it is they grow. Cattle feed most likely.

        • the Heretick says:

          center pivot irrigation, chemical fertilizers, all dependent. we haven’t been getting rain here, 3 feet of snow = like .10 inch of precip.
          i’m telling you, the weather has changed so much from when i was a kid.

    • the Heretick says:

      not to sound like Misstra Know-It-All

      however, what we see and hear on the media is pure illusion, thes corps. are owned by the same conglomerates and holding companies who run the war machine. a simulacrum republic as our old friend Joe phrased it. and as Frank asked,

      “What will you do if we let you go home,
      And the plastic’s all melted,
      And so is the chrome?

      What will you do when the label comes off,
      And the plastic’s all melted,
      And the chrome is too soft?

      What will you do if the people you knew
      Were the plastic that melted,
      And the chromium too?”

      and oh yes, perhaps our Fearless Leader, our very own Peace Prize President, maybe he should get in touch with his own soul, borrow some from Stevie if need be.

      • Disaffected says:

        Had a nice discussion with a nice old octogenarian lady down at the mailbox today (she was picking up copies of The Nation and The New Yorker). We agreed on everything until Ukraine came up, and then she revealed her US cold-war programming. “That Putin is out of control,” she said. Sigh… US citizens have been thoroughly propagandized.

        Obama? Bought and sold before the fact.

  10. Disaffected says:

    Slow night eh? Here’s some more good music courtesy of good ol’ American capitalism. Hey, no one said it wasn’t good for anything! And the subject seems appropriate enough too.

  11. the Heretick says:

    Higher Levels of Radiation Found in U.S. post-Fukushima

    http://www.atlantaprogressivenews.com/interspire/news/2014/01/11/higher-levels-of-radiation-found-in-us-post-fukushima.html

    “Recent tests show that elevated levels of radiation at Half Moon Bay are due to naturally occurring materials and not radioactivity associated with the Fukushima incident,” said spokeswoman Wendy Hopkins of the California Department of Public Health, in a widely reported statement.

    nothing to see here, move along.

    • Disaffected says:

      Scientists are notorious for returning findings in support of their funding sources. Can you say American medical research, especially with regard to the cholesterol hoax? In defense of scientists, it’s either that or don’t do science at all and fall back in line with the rest of us here in the herd. Science now, as religion then, learned to bow down to the powers that be as a condition of existence. As you said HT, nothing to see here, move along.

    • Disaffected says:

      HT,
      From what I gathered from your link (as well as what I’ve gathered previously from others), Fukushima is mostly about damage to future generations (not that they’re inconsequential). Not surprisingly, the current day defense relies strictly on that. No damage in the here and now, just move on already. Regardless, Fukushima is just a preview of coming attractions, so no point in belaboring it now to those who don’t want to hear it anyway. Once again, a lesson from American history which seems destined to repeat itself.

      • the Heretick says:

        “Fukushima is mostly about damage to future generations”
        yeah, well, it’s freaking me out right now man!
        must be time for some end of the world music!

      • Disaffected says:

        Ok, here’s another Springsteen link to make up for the previous fail. Early ‘The Boss’ is, what can you say other than, ‘The Boss’. Fittingly, from the ‘Nebraska’ album.

  12. Disaffected says:

    Best article on our current predicament (and why we won’t get out of it) I’ve seen yet:

    http://www.theautomaticearth.com/debt-rattle-apr-22-2014-what-is-the-earth-worth-6-years-later/

    Cross linked at NakCap as well (I always like their discussions at least as well as the articles themselves):

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/04/ilargi-earth-worth-6-years-later.html

    The money quote:

    It’s not possible to “save the planet” while maintaining the economic system we currently have, because that system is based on and around perpetual growth. It’s really as simple as that, and perhaps it’s that very simplicity which fools people into thinking that can’t be all there is to it. Switching to different fuels, alternative energy forms, is useless in such a system, because there will be a moment when the growth catches up with all preservation measures; it’s not a winnable race. There will come a time when a choice between preservation and growth must be made, and the latter will always win (as long as the system prevails). It would be very helpful if the environmental movement catches up on the economics aspect, because it’s not going anywhere right now. It’s a feel-good ploy that comforts parts of our guilty minds but won’t bring about what’s needed to eradicate that guilt.

    • the Heretick says:

      different people have different takes

      “The U.S. Consumer
      The United States, with less than 5 % of the global population, uses about a quarter of the world’s fossil fuel resources—burning up nearly 25 % of the coal, 26 % of the oil, and 27 % of the world’s natural gas.
      As of 2003, the U.S. had more private cars than licensed drivers, and gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles were among the best-selling vehicles.
      New houses in the U.S. were 38 % bigger in 2002 than in 1975, despite having fewer people per household on average”
      World Watch

      we Yankees, compared to India, use 50 times the steel, 56 x more energy, 176 x more rubber, 250 x the motor fuel.
      and so it goes, when you look at charts our incomes dwarf those of the third-world, no wonder, we use more resources. i don’t know the answer. how many want to live like they do in Bangladesh? is it even called Bangladesh anymore? shows the level of knowledge of other parts of the world on my part, and i’m more engaged than most.

      but yet our discourse as promoted by the media maintains that the third world population is the problem. if our population resembled the 19th century with discrete farms connected by rail, perhaps we could curtail our energy use, but that model does not lend itself to exploitation by industry; at least on the scale we see today. and how are we to accomplish this diaspora? say the govt. strong arms some land for unemployed people, who is to insure they work the land? and don’t just sit there and starve?
      the modern welfare state has taught the exact opposite.
      i fear the only way the modern industrial state will be dismantled will be thru the tried and true crash and burn.

      • Disaffected says:

        The third world is only a “problem” if you assume that they will all be able to live like 20th-21st century Americans do someday. They won’t be able to, and yet exponential growth capitalism depends on exactly that. We’re already seeing the limits to growth, and you’re right, the crash and burn seems to be inevitable at this point, as voluntary contraction is not, and never will be, on the table for the haves of this world.

      • Disaffected says:

        I might add, the third world will actually be the problem for the first world when push comes to shove, as it soon will. As in, the necessary population reductions will of course be a bottom up process beginning with the third world (which will, and increasingly already does, include much of the former first world as income levels fall in whole nations and regions), then progressing up the income ladder here in the good old US of A. NakCap has a pretty good article and discussion today here: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/04/earth-day-can-grow-enough-food-avoid-human-planetary-dieback.html , which unfortunately continues to show just how deep in denial most people are. One thing’s for sure, the coming die-off ain’t gonna be fun for anyone, rich or poor, no matter how many gardens they grow!

      • Disaffected says:

        One of my OTHER all time favorites who speaks to social injustices pretty well too:

        • Disaffected says:

          Or, as a recent poster over on NakCap noted the other day, how about this link to a Midnight Oil video already 25 years in arrears, which belabors our current problems perfectly? It’s not as if we haven’t known what was happening to us all this time. Certainly at least the artists and avant garde social critics have deduced it, which more than implies the scientists among us have done so as well.

          • Disaffected says:

            And yet, here we are. And thus my original point: we simply won’t get out of this as a species, no matter how hard we try at this point. Indeed, we have yet to grasp what dire straights we are in!

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