Owls and Such, Taking the Sunset Limited

Today I received an email from Care 2 action Alerts soliciting my signature on a petition to seek punishment for a soccer player from Panama who apparently kicked the live owl mascot of the opposing team from Colombia. The owl died a few hours later. I resisted even opening this message, as I have had enough lately of the cruelty of humans. Eventually I opened it anyway, and my spirits sank as I considered what this man had done.

Some will say it was just an owl. I say, it was a living, sentient being. Now, we humans as a species, whatever we may have been in the past, are at the end of the food chain. We are the predators par excellence, at least as predatory as the strange beast in the film “Predator.” We are accustomed to eating other animals virtually every day. Humans consider themselves special, especially Christians, but others as well. Anything non-human is essentially of no import, put on the Earth by God (pick one, any one) for us to do with as we please.

I cannot and will not argue with the apparent scheme of things, however it may have arisen. There is a natural order of things. There is indeed a food chain. Unacknowledged is the simple truth that the terminal elements in this chain are not large predators, but rather vanishingly small microbes. But humans are the creatures that routinely kill gratuitously, or what amounts to the same thing, for trivial and indulgent reasons. Surely, we are an evolutionary blind alley. Or perhaps we are the Apocalypse, those beings that will bring the world to an end. Ridiculous, you say? Hear me out, and then believe what you will, but hear me out. Continue reading Owls and Such, Taking the Sunset Limited

Nah, It Ain’t F**cism

The term fascism is tossed about without much reflection these days. Conservatives talk of Islamofascism even while decrying as class warfare any reference in similar terms to their own extreme right wing stuff. Some left-liberals count almost anything the right does as fascism. None of this has much to recommend it. This kind of ranting is merely baiting those who disagree with whoever is making the fascism accusation or association. George Orwell supposedly said that the word was most often used as a way to insult one’s enemies.

But let’s look a little more closely at what is happening in America today. While it is very difficult to come to a consensus definition of fascism there are a few things most can agree upon. There will be dissenters no matter what, e.g. Hayek and von Mises and such. One term that is frequently used is corporatism. Unfortunately, corporatism itself is subject to widely differing interpretations. Whatever notion of the nature of corporatism you may favor, the fact remains that both the Third Reich and Mussolini’s Italy favored large corporations. Such American giants as Ford and IBM continued operations in Germany throughout the Second World War, and they were compensated after the war’s end for their losses by the Allied powers. It isn’t so much that corporations are nefarious, they are amoral. They will do anything they can get away with to make a profit.

So, without invoking fascism, in the darkest days of the zenith of the right in the twentieth century, right wing governments enlisted the collaboration of corporations, domestic and foreign, to accomplish their aims. Government colluded with business to conduct what amounted to perpetual war. Those governments were militaristic and corporate. In fact, some hold that in these cases, government itself was run like a corporation. I believe that our own government may be sliding inexorably toward similar behavior in our time. Let’s see why I think so. Continue reading Nah, It Ain’t F**cism

Groupon, Google!

Here is a perfect example of the mess our society is in today. Google, the Internet search engine giant, has bid $6 billion to buy Groupon, an Internet business startup. Well, the New York Times called it a startup. The founder of Groupon is all of 30 years old. He stands to become a billionaire by selling a company that doesn’t make anything to another company that also doesn’t make anything. Continue reading Groupon, Google!

There Will Be Fuel

The august New York Times on Wednesday, 17 November had a special section on Energy. The lead article by one Clifford Krauss (unidentified in the article) asserts that there will be ample fuel for all purposes for the forseeable future, albeit with some minor problems. As authority he quotes William M. Colton, vice president for global planning for Exxon-Mobil and Robert N. Ryan, Jr., vice president for global exploration for Chevron, as though they had no axe to grind and are completely impartial. No chance that they are self-serving. Continue reading There Will Be Fuel

Chalmers Johnson RIP

Chalmers Johnson died on November 20, 2010 at the age of 79. Although I did not know him personally, I will miss him and the work he did for all of us.

There Really Are Limits to Growth

It is still fashionable today to ridicule the report the late Donella Meadows and her associates at MIT prepared for The Club of Rome, “The Limits to Growth” and successor reports. Yet it is patent nonsense and an affront to common sense to pretend that economic growth, the fundamental basis of modern capitalism, can continue indefinitely, and at a geometric rate at that. To suggest otherwise is purely willful, an ideological, indeed a theological claim. I am not interested in endless examination of philosophical or even cultural terms or buzzwords. It serves no purpose to try to come to an agreement as to whether a particular label is rooted in this-or-that origin. Are neoconservatives an outgrowth of left-liberals switching from left to right? I really don’t care. But it is important to recognize that certain positions are ideological, quasi-religious in nature. Continue reading There Really Are Limits to Growth

Fossil Fuel Folly

What BP is really doing.

This is a cautionary post. It is not a cautionary tale, something made up to illustrate a point. Rather it is constructed out of information gleaned from public sources. Conventional wisdom holds that competition is the only and best way to provide abundance for all. Pursuit of profit results somehow in maximum good for maximum numbers. Yet the very word competition implies a winner. In a competitive event there is supposed to be a winner. A 100 meter dash, a baseball game, a competition to win market share, all usually result in a winner. But it is a zero sum game. If there is a winner, there is at least one loser. The result of neoliberal corporate economic competition is the killing of the planet, and graphic evidence is at hand.

Since late April, oil has been gushing into the Gulf of Mexico at a disastrous rate, and thus far no one knows how to stop it. The corporation responsible for this is BP (formerly British Petroleum, now congratulating itself as Beyond Petroleum in its ads), the world’s third-largest oil company. BP spends significant amounts trying to convince the consumer that they are not like other oil companies; they are trying to be green. The epithet “green” is vague and imprecise, but according to the BP Web site (excerpted 26 July, 2008): Continue reading Fossil Fuel Folly

Aristotle vs. Wall Street

In his Introduction to a new translation of Aristotle’s Politics, published in 1912, William Ellis pointed out that:

The Greek doctrine that the essence of the state consists in community of purpose is the counterpart of the notion often held in modern times that the essence of the state is force. The existence of force is for Plato and Aristotle a sign not of the state but of the state’s failure (emphasis mine). It comes from the struggle between conflicting misconceptions of the good. In so far as men conceive the good rightly they are united. The state represents their common agreement, force [represents] their failure to make that agreement complete. The cure, therefore, of political ills is knowledge of the good life, and the statesman is he who has such knowledge, for that alone can give men what they are always seeking.
Continue reading Aristotle vs. Wall Street

Riverside and Memphis

Sunday, April 4 was the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And it was 44 years exactly since Rev. King’s historic speech at Riverside Church in New York declaring his opposition to the War in Vietnam. I’m thinking about the tragic irony of those events. It’s hard not to think there is a connection between them. Dr. King’s Riverside speech brought him instant infamy in the minds of many. The Washington Post and the New York Times, holding opposing opinions about the war, both wrote editorially that Dr. King’s reputation was irrevocably tarnished, and he would never again have moral or political credentials in the civil rights struggle. Around the country (but not around the world, where the war had long been anathema) the tide of condemnation was astonishing. King’s doctrine of non-violent resistance was declared to be in peril as a method of witnessing against the powerful.

But many, myself included, welcomed this speech. Dr. King rightly felt that if he could not hold against that abominable war, he could not in good conscience do the same against injustice to minorities and the poor and powerless. He explicitly linked the prosecution of the war with failure to realize the goals of the war on poverty and the steady decline of the civil rights movement. Dr. King recognized, probably had long recognized, the flourishing of the American Empire.

During the hostilities in Vietnam, the American government consistently championed the “domino effect,” alleging that if Vietnam was “lost to communism” then other nations in Southeast Asia would quickly follow suit. In yet another bitter irony, although perhaps two million Vietnamese lost their lives in the course of the war, there was no domino effect whatsoever, and Vietnam is now a nation, nominally communist, that provides cheap labor to international capitalism. Not only was Vietnam not “lost,” it has been transformed into a capitalist country with an authoritarian government, basically following in the steps of China.

I seriously doubt that Dr. King, who would be 81 now, would be invited or welcome at many of the celebrations held supposedly in his honor each year on Martin Luther King Day.

Health Care “Reform”
(and Credit Card “Reform”, and so forth and so on)

While congress congratulates itself on passing health care “reform” I seethe with anger. A few days ago when it was announced that agreement had been reached on this bill, I received mail from my health insurance company informing me of a 60 percent increase in my premium and that of my wife. Cost control? Sixty percent in one year? Continue reading Health Care “Reform”
(and Credit Card “Reform”, and so forth and so on)