|(source: Project Gutenberg)|
I'm talking about the windy month of March, coming in like a bitch today. But to be perfectly accurate, in my little corner of the Homeland anyway, it'll be snowing instead of blowing. As I write this, it is a calm, tropical 8 Degrees F outside, with an advisory out for up to six inches of flakes by tomorrow morning. As a matter of fact, snow is forecast for all 50 states this week if you believe The Daily Mail. And if you believe the New York Times, the waves are freezing on Nantucket.
But back to February. I have a bone to pick with T.S. Eliot, because February is, hands down, the new abnormal cruellest month, notwithstanding the inclusion of Valentines Day, which in itself is the cruellest day of the entire year for many people. It was supposedly the coldest February on record. It was a 28-day "brown fog of a winter dawn." So good riddance to February, which was at least polite enough to keep its visit short.
I don't have a specific topic for today, so I'll just let my mind wander in the wasteland, if you don't mind.
So, did you hear that Pope Francis essentially just delivered a major speech against the Trans-Pacific Partnership? (well, he actually railed against global predatory capitalism, but that is exactly what the TPP is.)
If only he were coming to speak this week, instead of next fall, before a joint session of Congress, which is set to vote on granting President Obama fast track authority to hand over what's left of sovereign democracy to a cabal of global corporate parasites. From Reuters, the Pope speaks:
Pope Francis launched a fresh attack on economic injustice on Saturday, condemning the "throwaway culture" of globalization and calling for new ways of thinking about poverty, welfare, employment and society.
In a speech to the association of Italian cooperative movements, he pointed to the "dizzying rise in unemployment" and the problems that existing welfare systems had in meeting healthcare needs.
For those living "at the existential margins" the current social and political system "seems fatally destined to suffocate hope and increase risks and threats," he said.
The Argentinian-born pope, who has often criticized orthodox market economics for fostering unfairness and inequality, said people were forced to work long hours, sometimes in the black economy, for a few hundred euros a month because they were seen as easily replaceable.
"'You don't like it? Go home then'. What can you do in a world that works like this? Because there's a queue of people looking for work. If you don't like it, someone else will," he said in an unscripted change from the text of his speech.
"It's hunger, hunger that makes us accept what they give us," he said.It blows, for sure. The closest thing we have to Francis here in the Homeland is Elizabeth Warren. She explains the essential corruption that is the TPP better than anybody I've yet read -- specifically the part euphemized as "Investor State Dispute Settlement." The predators must have their prey in one form if not another. Warren explains it colorfully in a Washington Post op-ed:
ISDS would allow foreign companies to challenge U.S. laws — and potentially to pick up huge payouts from taxpayers — without ever stepping foot in a U.S. court. Here’s how it would work. Imagine that the United States bans a toxic chemical that is often added to gasoline because of its health and environmental consequences. If a foreign company that makes the toxic chemical opposes the law, it would normally have to challenge it in a U.S. court. But with ISDS, the company could skip the U.S. courts and go before an international panel of arbitrators. If the company won, the ruling couldn’t be challenged in U.S. courts, and the arbitration panel could require American taxpayers to cough up millions — and even billions — of dollars in damages.
If that seems shocking, buckle your seat belt. ISDS could lead to gigantic fines, but it wouldn’t employ independent judges. Instead, highly paid corporate lawyers would go back and forth between representing corporations one day and sitting in judgment the next. Maybe that makes sense in an arbitration between two corporations, but not in cases between corporations and governments. If you’re a lawyer looking to maintain or attract high-paying corporate clients, how likely are you to rule against those corporations when it’s your turn in the judge’s seat?Read the whole thing. It's even getting the White House's attention, unlike most opposition to the TPP thus far. It looks like Obama might be starting to lose his propaganda war for the corporate coup. As well he should, given that he is refusing to divulge the gruesome details. If a congress critter wants to look at it, he or she is not allowed to bring staff or take notes because of "national security" concerns. So at long last we have incontrovertible proof that national security and corporate protection are the exact same animal.
The corruption is so widespread that we need constant blasts of fresh air and some extra strong sunlight to make even a dent in the wall of stench.
Speaking of dents, Frank Bruni of the New York Times wrote another good column today, on the failure of the mass media to do their jobs:
Oh, how we’re hated. And as another presidential race takes shape, that hatred gathers force. Hillary Clinton’s protectors cast us as bloodthirsty raptors intent on finding flaw where none exists. Chris Christie was asked what he’d given up for Lent and said that it would have been The New York Times, but then his priest told him he had to forswear something he’d truly miss.
Scott Walker thinks we’re laying an elaborate trap for him, and after The Washington Post inquired if he regarded President Obama as Christian, he not only punted but also bellowed about “gotcha” questions, griping: “This is a classic example of why people hate Washington and, increasingly, they dislike the press.”
Dislike? Increasingly? Either he was being charitable or he hasn’t read the polling. The public’s esteem for us has been abysmal for a good long while.
And boy, can they ever blow wind. Bruni suggests that as Lenten penance, the press stop covering Iowa and New Hampshire, candidates' spouses, circus acts starring Sarah Palin and Donald Trump, that they get some help for their addiction to horse races, resist covering political polls as though they were national emergencies, and stop pontificating on the "national mood." (Only the good Pope Francis is allowed to pontificate on the bad moods of people, largely brought on by capitalist predation.) My published response:And if we’re honest, we’ve brought much of it on ourselves. We play petty games and barrel down pointless roads.
Laudable prescriptions, Mr. Bruni.
The thing is, there's too much money to be made in "covering" horse race/personality politics.The perennial antics of the GOP Clown Car are too tempting for the corporate media to pass up. Reporters don't so much "cover" these actors as give them cover, even as they ridicule them. The right-wingers thrive on negative attention, because it proves to them and to the disgruntled people composing their base that "See? the elites really are out to get you!"
The issues that people care about -- Social Security, jobs and the unemployment crisis, universal health care -- don't get discussed much because they don't mesh with the interests of the ultra-wealthy donor class owning our politics. That's why, when we aren't hearing about Scott Walker's gaffes or Rudy Giuliani's buffoonery, we get fed tired meaningless bromides like "ladders of opportunity" and "level playing fields". The way the Beltway crowd talks, you'd think that all an underpaid part-timer in the Uber economy cares about is gridlock and bipartisanship.
The presidential campaign (which began before Obama even started his second term) is forecast to give the TV networks record ad revenue, while the hacks and the PACs and the SuperPacs and the strategists and the fixers and the fundraisers are all skimming their greedy shares off the top in a frenetic race to grind what's left of our democracy into the ground.
So yes, hold their feet to the fire. And stop feeding the trolls!Over on the other side of Grey Lady Op-Ed Wasteland, Maureen Dowd regales us with a laundry list of nouveau-raunch outtakes by a group of cool, liberated Hollywood starlets. It is pretty graphic stuff by normally prudish Times standards; comedy has declined to an Ayn Rand cult of selfie absurdism in this age of human disposability. Horny young moms find sexual satisfaction with their toddlers' teddy bears, and bored matrons get turned on by the Jodie Foster rape scene in The Accused.
She ("comedienne" Whitney Cummings) said, “When a guy writes a scene where a woman does a deviant sex act on camera, it’s objectifying. But when a woman writes it, it’s feminism. When girls write it for themselves, it’s extra taboo because it’s like, ‘Women have all these ideas, too! We thought men were making them do all this dirty stuff!’ It becomes raunchy all of a sudden when women like it. It’s in the zeitgeist because there’s a bunch of female writers and creators now, and, by a bunch, I mean, like, four.Where does one even begin? My published response:
Yeah! More power to the women who feel empowered by acting as gross as the guys, even if they must work for a studio or TV network owned by the predatory, male-dominated Wall Street and corporate plutocracy.
If they ever stop to think that there are millions of boys and men out there getting off watching them get off, they obviously don't give a bleep. Why should they? They live in gated communities with private security guards.
But here's what I want to know: does a woman actress who makes it with a stuffed animal get paid the same amount of money as a man who makes it with a stuffed animal?
I can see the landmark Supreme Court case now. Old Clarence will gift us with one of his rare verbal ejaculations, Scalia will go limp with shock, Sammy will withdraw from the case entirely, John Roberts will prematurely recuse himself and Kennedy will just waggle back and forth, keeping us all in hot unbearable suspense.
And then Notorious RBG will whip them all into shape with her usual scathing review. Bring it on.Or as Tough Shit Eliot more elegantly put it,
|“What is that noise?”|
|The wind under the door.|
|“What is that noise now? What is the wind doing?”|
|Nothing again nothing.||120|
|You know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember|