Wednesday, May 31, 2006

5001 dollar fine and the fires of hell (I hope)

I was looking at the Nation magazine on line and ran into this memory jog. Kinda makes me hope GM goes bankrupt.

"In 1949, three of our largest corporations--General Motors, Standard Oil of California (SoCal, now Chevron) and Firestone Tire and Rubber (now Japan's Bridgestone)--were convicted of having conspired for more than a decade to replace highly efficient urban electric transit systems with bus lines. The bus lines' operators contracted never to buy new equipment "using any fuel or means of propulsion other than" petroleum. GM, SoCal and Firestone were fined $5,000 each, the maximum the antitrust laws then allowed. GM's treasurer, also convicted, was fined $1."

I guess I should stop buying my gas at Chevron. Damn, I really think Techroline makes my injectors shoot better. . .
Read the whole article at:

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Do Your Homework

A recent Purdue University survey noted that over 50 percent of Americans felt that in order to be a citizen of this fine country you had to be "a Christian." And about half of those idiots felt very strongly that was the case. We have all heard the stories about how more Americans can name the characters of the Simpsons than name the freedoms listed in the constitution. Hey, the Simpsons is a damn good show.

Last night I got sucked in to a show on PBS called "Two Days in October." It was the story of two events, one domestic and one in Vietnam that happened at the same time in 1967. One was an ambush of two American companies about 50 miles from Saigon. The other was a student protest at the University of Wisconsin, Madison that galvinized the anti-war movement. The brilliance of the show is that it had interviews with many of the central characters for each of these events, including folks from both sides of the student protest, cops and students. I won't paraphrase the events but its useful to remember that the Army lied to the American people about what was happening in Vietnam, and its useful to remember that a substantial number of the cops who beat protesters with clubs were ignorant shitheads.

I asked my class to write a paper on why it is that American's can't agree on the meaning of the Vietnam war. And after watching that show it occurs to me that we can't agree because the lesson of the war is the lesson of complete bullshit. We perpetuated bullshit on a country because we are so drunk on our own special ideology and so willfully ignorant about it that we can't face the facts. Let me give you one little fact: 3,400,000. That's how many Vietnamese we killed trying to "free" them from communism. OK, just forget it. Go watch American Idol.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Slave Power

W has made an attempt to address the immigration issue and in the process he's done us a favor by reminding us of the Northerners who feared slavery prior to the Civil War. Much could be said about the causes of the greatest conflict in our nation's history, but one thing I rarely hear is just how the racist northern fear of slave power was one of the main causes of the fatal animosity between the states. The Minutemen who volunteer to police the southern border are of a direct lineage to those northerners who cared little about "the Negroes" and a lot about what slave labor would do to their free labor economic system.

The Minutemen are right when they suggest that immigrants place downward pressure on the wage system but that hardly covers their xenophobic souls. Nafta basically destroyed our protected labor market and keeping every immigrant out of America isn't going to amount to a hill of beans even if it could be pulled off. Refusing to trade with countries that allow their workers to be exploited and their enviroments to be polluted needs to be our central trading dogma, but given our oily addiction, we are in no position to be curtailing trade with the Chinas of the world. Without their infusion of capital, essentially financing our buying frenzy with loans taken out by our Treasury, we'd be in a world of hurt. Actually, we are in a world of hurt. We just have really good drugs. Eventually, we are going to have to come down. That's the truth the conservative debt dealers are blocking. It seems that we are slaves to their power.

Monday, May 15, 2006


There is a lot of ugly bigoted behavior going on these days in the name of folks who regard themselves as "Christians." As an unchurched heathen, I tend to ignore this type of American or if forced into conversation I always strive to avoid talk of politics and religion. In fact, talking to people I don't know too well I tend to avoid talking politics and religion as a matter of course, especially if I think that I might have to work with them in the future. There have been times when I wished I didn't know what people think in their heart of hearts about these things because I have come to the opinion that had I not known about their general level of intellectual banality, I very well might have been friends with them at a simple plane of shared humanity. Not everyone I like is as addicted to symbol manipulation as I am.

I just don't know how twisted some folks belief systems are, how internally self-serving their bargain with the lord may be. I think this is probably a commonplace for a lot of folks who abhor the anti-gay, pro-slavery (pro-life my ass) prayer in school, jihad against the Muslims crowd. They think that these folks are Christians because they claim to be Christians. Hey, I can claim that I am going to be re-incarnated as a black Labrador retriever but that don't necessarily make it true. Self-proclaiming is popular. We want to think that however oddball we are, their are others who are oddball too. Kinda a weird self-denying prophesy if you come to think about it.

But frankly much of that hate speech uttered by the devout is just plain self-serving shit, and we who dislike the architecture of their frightened minds shouldn't take the shortcut and call them Christians. Meaning when we say it that if you swallow the dogma, your basically admitting that rationality runs second to magic wands in your personal cosmology and that you shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a court of public opinion. I think in fact that much as the way "Neo-Conservatives" has come to mean "crazy-fucker working for the rich and filled with hubris" we might start differentiating between those who actually holds some Christian love in their heart and those who simply want to be declared the victors in an evil bargain with death. There is a substantial difference between MLK and James Dobson. Dobson doesn't ask much of his audience, other than that they should hate what he hates. In return they get to believe in salvation. Hitler offered as much, and his followers are called neo-Nazis. Call Dobson's Focus on the Family sheep, Neo-Christians.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Invasion generation

Listening to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club the other day pulled my mind over to the war in Iraq and the general level of acquiescence that describes the present public situation. Every generation has its blind spots and every generation has its strengths but the 20 something of the moment seems to me is a stunned little animal, lacking anything to strongly recommend it as a factor of political force. Maybe growing up with papa Reagan so stunted them that the emotion of outrage was detoured into a bleary cul-de-sac of opinionated nullity? Everything is just a matter of opinion, and we are all equal in our rights to express them. So nothing really matters, ‘cause its all bullshit.

The volunteer army stationed near the apocalyptic crescent is full of decent fellows, judging by the ones I have met in my classroom. There is nothing in their demeanor and aspect that worries me, they are doing tough shitty jobs with a lot of esprit de corps and self-awareness as far as I can tell. Either that or they are champion liars. But the ones that have never been to our little war have been tracked to the expectation of success through the Foxed media and Rushed ideology and are really fucked up. They are dangerous precisely because they have just enough anger mixed with their self-righteousness that they feel comfortable ordering air-strikes. Their bullshit detectors are jammed on the liberal frequency and they can’t image an America that hurts others for the wrong reasons. They believe their fathers.

There has been nothing like Kent State in our historical moment, and nothing seems to be coming from the 20 year olds even as they realize they have been lied too. They should be screaming some sort of bloody murder at the moment. Unfortunately they have been insulated by their cheap cynicism (and an all volunteer army) and they think, well, this is just par for the course. Everyone lies. Nothing to get excited about, just keep the economy rolling and if push comes to shove, we can always move back in with the parents. Don’t get negative. In America everything is possible except self-delusion.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Once in a Lifetime

I'm pretty sure that the life I am leading now is probably going to be viewed, in retrospect, as something of a waste. That's a pretty harsh assessment but wtf, I've been wrong before so I might as well just let fly. On the outside I am successful, prickly for sure but successful. I'm living the words of David Bryne. It'd be nice if I could see the humor in that but I'm thinking that I'm really just killing myself so my kids can be wage slaves.

If you don't know the lyrics to this song it goes something like and you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack and from there to large automobile and beautiful wife and then the asking of well, how did I get here? Watching TV last night, the commercials went from emaciated supermodels hawking bras to make their tiny adolescent tits bulge to McDonald's selling salad and yoga to salvage their corporate image after years of selling quick greasy deathburgers to the poor, the tired and the deluded, to a Kaiser-Permanente ad saying we push blueberries not Prozac. They all push fear. Fear is how you answer the question, "how did I get here?" You fell into normalcy because outside normal is slowly, excruciatingly and viciously being eliminated.

We love our lives, the ones we build in this regime of capital, and we love our toys and our food and our kids and our gardens. It is pleasant here in the land of winking, blinking and nodding. But it is just a la la la floating island in a sea of dark monsters, some which are swimming in the opaque waters of our ignorance, some which feed on the scraps of our willful conceits, and others which we may never see as the maw opens up and swallows its' fill. Somebody told me the other day to "get over yourself." Upon reflection they were right, and then they were nothing at all.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Self-Inflicted Wounds

The local fishwrap reports today that Americans are offended by the Republican's generous offer of a 100 bucks to offset rising gas prices. To the Republican's I can only say, "well, duh!" 100 bucks buys you two tanks of gas, wait a sec, one tank and a splash so I guess if I'm used to being bought off for a couple of grand (gimme my tax cut, red state boys!) 100 would seem pretty offensive. Seems to me that they shouldn't have tried to bribe the public for anything less than a grand.

Yet the idea that gas prices are too high is sort of a hoot, unless of course you are barely scraping by and you live in a city that has only recently discovered mass transit. I do feel bad for those folks but it doesn't change the way I feel about anyone driving a V-8 four-wheel drive station wagon, you know, a damn SUV. No tears for you. In fact, fuck you if you can't take a joke. If you think you're a lefty and you are complaining about the price of gas, you aren't really a lefty. Complain about the obscene oil company profits sure, but high gas prices are good thing. We might actually have to face reality, which is for our kids if not ourselves going to include a daily report on worldwide carbon dioxide levels.

The fattening of the American automobile over the last couple of decades is just plain short-sighted, kind of like a 100 dollar congressional bribe. The good news is that engine technology has gotten scads better and for the extra 100-200 horsepower required to pull your chubby thighs and cloven hooved offspring around with the type of alacrity you deserve the mileage per gallon has only dipped slightly. For each horse we use less fuel, and this is a good thing. Unfortunately we have been too fricking selfish to put this calculus to use to cut fuel consumption. This dog is now, just now, learning to hunt. Let's all pray for 4 bucks a gallon and some new blood in the public sector.