The Flag Remains the Same - Part One -
At the peak of World War Two the U.S. was cranking out a Liberty ship in 8 hours, a B-24 bomber every 63 minutes, and a Sherman tank every half hour. The Military-Industrial Complex, within a few short years of its coming into existence, had become the largest war machine the world had ever seen. By the end of the war The U.S. was the global superpower, and by signing The National Security Act of 1947 into law, President Truman created the CIA and the National Security State.
War became the foundation of the economy and the Military-Industrial-Security Complex had no interest in dismantling itself. There must always be A War. There must always be An Enemy. The Soviet Union, the most valuable ally of the United States during World War II, became The Enemy, and communism became the all pervasive threat.
From Adam Curtis’s documentary Century of the Self Part Two - The Engineering of Consent:
“In 1953 the Soviet Union exploded it's first hydrogen bomb and the fear of nuclear war and communism gripped the United States.
The Flag Remains the Same - Part One -
Yesterday was the official day of handing out our thanks to anyone who would listen. With luck, we not only thought about doing that, but actually did so. Out loud. And, with even more luck, we also had some takers, in between thunderclaps of footballer collisions from our Big Scream teevees, and the assorted sonic booms of industry and inventiveness erupting from kitchen and guests.
You might have even been so lucky as to have been heard above the acoustic carnage of the day, and, luckier still, to have received knowing, thoughtful, insightful, and sincere replies along the same lines.
I mean, I can wish that such becalmed seas ferried you along softly and sweetly yesterday, and in the golden photographer's light of dawn or dusk, all the while sipping a profoundly satisfying adult entertainment beverage, but the odds are pretty much against it, I'd imagine -- like hoping Aunt Smelda would please, please forget to bring over her famous Jell-O mold, with odd bits of things suspended in the gelatin (some identifiable and mostly edible, others of a baffling, mysterious origin) like a forgetful, absent-minded cook's version of bugs trapped in amber.
New unemployment claims dropped by another 10,000 last week to 316,000, approaching pre Bush Crash numbers. California accounted for almost half of the decline suggesting that Conservative claims that the 7th largest economy in the world is in rapid decline since the Democrats took complete control of the state's government might be 'overstated'.
Wall Street banks are throwing a fit because the Federal Reserve is considering the elimination of the 0.25% interest that they have been paying banks on cash reserves that banks keep on deposit with the Fed. It doesn't sound like much except that these reserves total $2.4t. They only started doing this as part of the bank bailout and Wall Street has become accustomed to this $60b subsidy, it's almost half of their annual bonus pay. Banks didn't used to keep much cash on deposit but were encouraged to start doing this in case of further losses from the Bush crash. The Fed thinks that with the economy actually working again that maybe banks should start making loans with this money instead.
The possibility of peace with Iran has been putting further downward pressure on oil prices despite the Obama Administration's assurances that Iran wouldn't be allowed to pump more oil and natural gas any time soon.
It's possible to chew on things longer than is good for you. At some point, those bones of contention getting all that Gnawing Attention start redirecting activity back upon the chewer. It's been that way, and for some time now, on Twinkies.
The way I've been worrying around Twinkies in the back of my mind for the last 12 months, you'd think it was some sort of national emergency or imperative that I'd somehow, inexplicably, been put in charge of. Although I'm not in charge of anything much these days, I have to say in the same breath that I'm not sure that this isn't some sort of national emergency at that.
This mental hand-wringing may only appear to be about Twinkies, but it's also about vultures (human and bird), and about Nature -- the ways of our cutthroat economic system, the nature and expression of human greed, and the nature of a general failure by the public to Pay Attention to Facts and Warning Signs.
If you felt a burst of psychic energy and clairvoyance, you could also add in there my being preoccupied something fierce about An Ongoing Desire to Act Against Our Own Best Interests as Individuals, and you wouldn't be wrong.
See, the system is rigged, and I've been trying to come up with a way to un-rig it. But, like punch-drunk prizefighters who have been hammered and blasted for too many rounds without a break, we're on the ropes, all of us, gasping, while the referees are on their mobiles, Twittering, Tweeting, Facebooking, FacePlanting, following each other around and around, in tighter and more incestuous circles, stalkers and stalkees...
In the Spring of 1996, at 7 o’clock one morning, I arrived at a breakfast meeting of the movers and shakers in the addiction field. I immediately made my way to the coffee bar. I’m not functional at 7 o’clock in the morning and part of this meeting was my presentation about how to use The Internet to promote addiction awareness as well as their treatment centers. I quickly downed my first cup of thin, hotel coffee and looked around the room. There were about twenty men in the group, all white, all somewhere in their sixties, all seemingly affluent, all freshly showered and shaved, all wearing good suits, and all had been to a barber shop recently. Well … I too was a white guy and had taken a shower at stupid o’clock in the morning … but that’s all we had in common.
I poured a refill and wandered over where everyone was laughing and telling jokes. I was all set to pretend to smile over tame jokes lifted from the Reader’s Digest. Y’know … the not-funny “safe” humor Bob Hope peddled for the last 30 years of his career. But I was wrong. They weren’t telling those kind of jokes. They were telling “Hillary” jokes. I’m not against bad taste or dark humor but it has to be funny. These weren’t. They were just mean, vicious, and obscene. They could have just eliminated the joke-telling altogether and simply told one another “I Hate Women” or “I Hate Hillary Clinton.”
There has long been a debate about how slaves were treated in colonial America. Records kept by slave holders suggested that they were grossly underfed. Archaeological digs however suggest that the 'masters' provisions were only a supplement to what slaves could grow for themselves, or harvest from the wild. But those were different times, land was plentiful, extensive gardens presented no problem, game and wilderness plantlife were plentiful.
Today we live in a much more dystopian landscape. While today's slave might be called a 'sales associate' or 'your server', he or she must still try to find enough to eat. This sage advice comes from the McDonald's 'employee only access' website: "...to keep from feeling hungry, break up your available food into small portions and spread them out." Ronald McDonald doesn't even bother to have a canned food drive for his employees like the pne that starving workers at Walmart get.
Mickey D's does have a number of tips for how its employees can get government assistance,with no mention of the fact that a business that profits billions should at least be able to feed its slaves. In fact, McDonald's could double its wages and only add 17 cents to a Dollar Menu item. At this pay scale McDonald's employees could afford to eat and have disposable income to stimulate the rest of the economy.
A clear theme has emerged in news magazines during the last few years and keeps getting stronger all the time, especially in the last few weeks: The country is conducting its business on the basis of how much Crazy we can scrape together at any given time.
This is very bad news for the country but somewhat more acceptable news for me personally because, for a second there, I thought it was just me.
See, some time ago my own life slipped on a Canvas Camisole it has still not figured out how to shed. It will take some time to undo this thing. I am no Houdini. Even a right-off-the-rack straitjacket offers me a tight fit -- and tight fits.
(Sidebar: Perhaps this is where the expression, "dire straits" comes from. I mean, I can see where dire situations might drive people into dire-straitjackets. In any case, whether steely-eyed and sober, or barking-mad Looney Tunes, high as a weather balloon, I highly recommend the music of Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits, jacket or no.)
For examples, you needn't look any further than the ongoing budget madness in the seat of our national government -- a seat I would relish paddling and/or kicking in a burst of absent self-restraint.
I defy anyone to use the words "sane" and "rational" to accurately describe the proceedings on Capitol Hill, a site that could really use a vast influx of canvas camisoles. First, there was the slack-jawed disconnect of repeated attempts by our representatives to kill off a plan that only wanted to bring a scant, introductory level of medical wellness to their constituents.
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