Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Cutting Back On My Contributions ...

TO MY FRIENDS AND READERS, WHO MAY BE WONDERING about my absence from this blog. Serious illness takes precedence. I am among the 35 million or so of my fellow citizens who are uninsured, trying to deal with our Darwinian health care system. More later, as I am able to contribute. XOXO. C.

Quotable: Leon Panetta, Retiring At Defense ...

ON GETTING BAC TO HIS WALNUT FARM ... "I'll be dealing with a different set of nuts."

Saturday, December 22, 2012

We're Still Here: Mayan Calendar Rewrite

NO, THE WORLD DIDN'T COME TO AN END ON FRIDAY; but the Republican Party may have. The "flabbergasted" Speaker of the House, worst in history, was incapable of rising above the partisan divide to do what's right for America rather than his own hide. In the end, he wasted a week on a political dead-on-arrival stunt to raise taxes on million-dollar earners that his own caucus rejected! So much for hitting the bottle rather than behave with sobriety ...

So, we're going over the proverbial "fiscal cliff," so what? Better no deal than a BAD deal. And the President is once again toying with the odious proposal to adjust Social Security CPI, which will TRULY hurt the most vulnerable. His penchant for playing macho with progressives and footsie with right wing Republicans is geting really old, really fast.

So, the wily Mayan Calendar is predicting a "new cycle" in which the GOP (as historians look back on the date that was) is officially no more, replaced by a weird hybrid of Teabaggers, corporate lobbyists, and zillionaires who will not give up their dreams of hijacking our democracy. And maybe President Obama stops whining that Republicans don't like him, and starts growing a pair. Been there, done that ... and the Mayan Calendar is strangely silent on this score.

Monday, December 17, 2012

It's Time For America's Women To Step Up

Despite the fact that the weapon of mass destruction used to slaughter 20 children in Newtown, CT was purchased by the shooter's mother, one of the least-discussed facts surrounding our so-called "gun culture" is that it is overwhelmingly macho. All you need do is listen to the radio call-in shows for the fanatics (aka, gun "enthusiasts") to come out of the woodwork tossing specious lofty concepts about their 2nd Amendment rights and false statistics concerning their imminent peril from a "tyrannical" "nazi" government. These individuals are fanatics to a fault, argumentative and obnoxious to the point one thinks, "get a LIFE, already!"

Lately, we've been cowed into believing there's something virtuous called a "rural culture" (white) vs. "urban" (black) to explain their pure as a Caucasian snow-covered mountaintop love of military-style weapons of mass destruction ... the beter to mow down those darkies who won the last election, when the Obama communist revolution comes. President Obama was right. They cling to their guns and religion, and until a couple of decades ago, strung 'em up off the highest tree branch. Some "rural" culture.

Here's the truth: There's nothing noble, or uplifting, or healthy, about rural America. Quite the contrary; it is poverty-stricken, polluted by huge transnational mining, chemical, oil and gas companies. Has "urban" America experienced the joys of fracking? No, and as New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg representing "urban" America and a city where strict gun laws have resulted in a steady decline in gun violence the last 12 years asserted, this gun madness must end.

The "urban" v. "rural" cultural divide is a straw man thrown out by conservatives, naturally, to muddy the waters with the false implication that never the twain shall meet. In fact, one common denominator in most mass killings is that it is a suburban phenomenon perpetrated by fairly affluent disturbed young white males.

What these straw man arguments do, however, is reinforce the economic forces behind our so-called "gun culture" led by their principal lobbying organization, the NRA. Guns are a zillion-dollar industry of death in America. That is why nothing has been done to curb or control it. There are some 58,000 licensed gun dealers in America; more than there are McDonald's, or Starbucks worldwide.

We know what to do: Reinstate the assault weapons ban; close the gun show loophole which is exempted from background checks; tighten and enforce the existing laws on the books. And severely restrict those high-capacity magazines. That's just for starters. The question is, will President Obama follow through? Will the politicians show the political will and courage to take on a paper tiger like the NRA? Have we really reached that so-called "tipping point? (I'll believe it when I see it.)

Call me crazy, but I think the only way meaningful, rational, sane gun control will ever be achieved in this this country is if the silent victims of the slaughters — our women, mothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, friends, teachers — stand up and be counted. Not many Americans have heard of the "pots and pans protests" which had their beginnings among South American housewives from Chile and Argentina, then spread through other countries, including English-speaking nations like Canada. These were protests by suburban housewives mostly, but not exclusively, against the government. In Argentina, they took to the streets loudly banging their pots and pans to protest the torture and disappearances of their sons and daughters during the military crackdown of the 80s.

Amazingly, these protests were more effective than any others in achieving results; even the most heinous dictator had a mom who could shame them. Lately, such protests have centered on economic issues as an effective symbol of peaceful resistance to government inaction and defiance of a great injustice.

We need our own "pots and pans" protest against government paralysis on gun control.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Quotable: Mitch McConnell Makes A Joke ...


"The only thing Obama's left on the table is the varnish." ~ The TURTLE has a wry sense of humor! This is actually funny, and as far as I can recall it's the only thing the annoying Republican obstructionist has ever said that made me laugh out loud. It also flatters the Democrats (those who aren't wavering) and the PUBLIC, which by SUPERMAJORITIES of upwards of 60% has decreed that Social Security (which has contributed NADA to the debt) is OFF THE TABLE; and, likewise,  Medicare cuts to beneficiaries, and particularly that ODIOUS trial balloon hike in the retirement age from 65 to 67 are OFF THE TABLE. Who among the Democrats will be the first to betray the will of the American people, I wonder?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sunday, December 09, 2012

The Original Anti-“Howard Roark” Has Died At 104

IT’S ALMOST A SACRILEGE TO COMPARE AND CONTRAST the life of one of the greatest architects of the 20th and 21st Centuries, Oscar Niemeyer, who died last Wednesday at 104, leaving to us a wondrous legacy of beauty and poetic expression, to Ayn Rand's fictional Howard Roark, invented to feebly deny the monumental accomplishments of a giant as Niemeyer. Roark was a didactic character, a vehicle for Ayn Rand’s twisted, juvenile philosophy in The Fountainhead, perhaps her best novel. Rather than compromise his self-respect, Roark pursued an utterly unrealistic career path getting himself expelled from architecture school for refusing to copy the classical styles of the past. He even worked as a day laborer rather than compromise his futuristic designs. Eventually, Roark threw a hissy fit and blew up his masterpiece, a house built on a cliff.

Ironically, Rand’s knowledge of architecture was so perfunctory that her novel completely overlooked the creative explosion in design which was occurring right under her nose when The Fountainhead was published. One wonders why Roark felt compelled to go to such extremes before, say, paying a professional courtesy call on Frank Lloyd Wright. Or why he didn’t care to immerse himself in the myriad architectural movements, from modernism to Bauhaus, post-modernism, or the designs of Le Corbusier, an early influence on Oscar Niemeyer. The tyranny of classicism on which Rand hung her narrative was only manifested in the fascist dictatorships of Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy when The Fountainhead was published in 1943 — hardly the United States or any of the world’s democracies, where modern art and futuristic architecture thrived.

The point is: Howard Roark, unlike Rand’s unrealistic Objectivist tome, had a huge menu of options to choose from before turning selfish terrorist, resorting to violence (a common theme for Rand’s heroes) and blowing up his own creation.

By 1921, Oscar Niemeyer was married to his teenage sweetheart, and would remain married to her till death parted them, decades later. (Here, they call it “family values.”) He worked until he died at 104, days shy of his 105th birthday. (Here, they call it “the work ethic” or America’s “Puritan values.”) And while Ayn Rand was milching off Social Security and Medicare, Oscar Niemeyer was working full hours at the office. Those Oscar Niemeyer most related to, Mitt Romney’s 47% — the Republicans’ “takers” and “slackers” and “moochers” — had seemingly little in common with the great architect, who by all accounts was emblematic of the American Right’s myth of self-determination, of picking oneself up by one’s bootstraps while pretending to have been born unto this world on a level playing field. Niemeyer had an answer for them. He said:
“Architecture evolves in function of technique and social problems. The day in which society becomes more horizontal, there won’t be palaces for the richest.

I’ve talked with teachers, academics, journalists, young architects—anyone who crosses my way and wants to “talk about architecture.” Pay attention, kids, you can’t graduate and just dedicate your life to being a good architect. That is bullshit. You need to find an original way to think and to be informed about everything daily. Read, read, read, and read.

I wouldn’t (recommend his own books about architecture) at all! I would tell people they should study philosophy and history to rediscover the great writers and thinkers. Anyone who is going to be an architect should invest part of his time in the knowledge of humanism. I spent my life at this desk, but I never fooled myself. I always knew that life is much more important than this—to feel is more important, to be nice to people is more important. To be useful is much more important to me than my architecture.

Architecture has always been directed to the upper class, and things haven’t changed. Nowadays there are almost no creative projects dedicated to improving the life of those who don’t have money.”
You see, Oscar Niemeyer was literally a card-carrying member of the Brazilian Communist Party. During the dark days of military dictatorship in Brazil, days of massive political purges, torture, and “disappearances,” being openly communist took much more courage than the selfish terrorism of Howard Roark. To be sure, the PCB (as it was known) was an enemy of the state but hardly an operational threat. Niemeyer was named a sort of honorary chairman or president. It was only his prestige abroad, and his crowning historic achievement in designing Brazil’s futuristic capital, Brasilia, from the ground up, which protected him from the violence of the fascist military regime. He was exiled to France, where he continued his brilliant designs, including the headquarters of the French Communist Party.

Here is part of Oscar Niemeyer’s legacy, the beauty he left us all to enjoy for as long as man and woman walks this earth. One little irony is that he also built his house on a cliff, a saucer-shaped museum overlooking Guanabara Bay and looking out toward the iconic Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro. No one (in their right non-Objectivist mind) would ever dream of blowing up this building. A second irony, witness to a life of grand achievements, is that Oscar Niemeyer had more creative energy, brilliance, poetry, beauty and genius in his little pinkie than all the right wing extremists of this world ranting against “socialists” and “Marxists.”

Not bad for a communist.


P.S. Tragic Outcome to Aussie Radio Presenters' Prank (Below)

THE NURSE AT THE HOSPITAL KATE MIDDLETON WAS STAYING WHO FELL FOR THE PRANK of two Aussie radio hosts posing as (a very bad) Queen Elizabeth and (a so-so) Prince Charles and transferred the call, has apparently committed suicide. In the wake of world wide social media furor and hysteria, the station has suspended but not fired the presenters, who are said to be, obviously, devastated.

Here's my take: Tragic as this incident is, as pranks go this was hardly beyond the pale. Let's face it, the RIDICULOUS ROYALS are common fodder for this kind of thing. Charles even joked, when asked of Kate's condition, that he was no Australian radio station. No one knows why the nurse in question took her life. Yet millions have already judged and condemned the Aussie radio presenters.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Memo To Big Eddie: STOP Coddling Wingnuts For Ratings (?)

USUALLY I DON'T HAVE MUCH TO COMPLAIN ABOUT BIG EDDIE, given the huge workload he's carrying with his radio and TV show; He's doing a great job, overall. But here's where I draw the line: The most LOATHSOME wingnut specimen of ALL is the pretend-reasonable type who will call in saying, "I like to listen to BOTH SIDES (Eddie and the Pigman) to make a conclusion about my children's future." (AWWW ...) First of all, these PHONIES fall into two categories: (1) They're PAID PLANTS (most likely here, the way this wingnut rolled Big Eddie); or (2) they're anti-social IMBECILES who have been living under a rock for the past two years.

Inexplicably, Eddie does an on-air BRAIN MELT on the wingnut, saying "I'm glad you called" (?!), then allows the wingnut to ROLL HIM with the SPECIOUS, DESPICABLE, FAUX BROMIDE, "they're ALL, ALL OF THEM TO BLAME ... AND to think that they're ALL (Democrats and Republicans) making decisions about my children's future" ... blahblahblah. I have ALWAYS found that attitude OFFENSIVE and DISHONEST/DELUSIONAL to the nth degree. But now, in the wake of the election, with the Democrats' RESOUNDING and DECISIVE victory, for some wingnut to start bitching about the false equivalency, ALL OVER AGAIN, on the Big Eddie show is too much to stomach. I was expecting Big Eddie to ask this "john" WHAT EFFIN' ROCK HAS HE BEEN LIVING UNDER FOR THE LAST 2, 4, 6, 10 YEARS!? Didn't this pathetic "john" see Karl Rove and Dick Morris make DUMBASSES of themselves on FOX?! Big Eddie should have told the "john" quite simply, "If you want the TRUTH call this show. If you CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH, then keep listening to the Pigman, but don't waste my listeners' time calling this show."

So what does Eddie say, instead: "They never met a payroll ... hehe." Excuse me, Eddie, but neither has President Obama, nor Paul Krugman, or Rachel Maddow, for that matter. Get a grip, buddy.