A church I drive by in Somerville, Maine frequently amuses me with its messages of dire religiosity. Here’s the latest:
That got me to thinking…
Could be true.
It is a time of fear in the face of freedom, a time of an emptying country and swelling cities, a time for the widening of previous roads and the opening of new paths, yet a time when these paths are mined by knowing algorithms of the all-seeing eye. It is the time of the warrior's peace and the miser's charity, when the planting of a seed is an act of conscientious objection. These are the times when maps fade, old landmarks crumble and direction is lost. Forwards is backwards now, so we glance sideways at the strange lands through which we are all passing, knowing for certain only that our destination has disappeared. We are unready to meet these times, but we proceed nonetheless, adapting as we wander, reshaping the Earth with every tread. Behind us we have left the old times, the standard times, the high times. Welcome to the irregular times.
A church I drive by in Somerville, Maine frequently amuses me with its messages of dire religiosity. Here’s the latest:
That got me to thinking…
Could be true.
Lisa Haven of Pakalert Press has published revelations that blow the cover off the Great Lakes arts community. It’s a genuine conspiracy that stands out among the long record of failed predictions and weird paranoia that typically characterizes Pakalert publications.
Haven’s research has uncovered evidence of a secret plan by the leadership of a museum to use the power of art to lower the human population in the Detroit area, in the Great Lakes region, and perhaps even within the United States in general.
It’s been widespread knowledge that the population of Detroit has gone down dramatically over the last five years. That population reduction has coincided with a struggle over the Detroit Institute of Arts, with local politicians seeking to keep the museum under city ownership and fully stocked with its artifacts and paintings. What had not been imagined until now is that the debate over DIA funding may in fact be a proxy battle between those who seek to accelerate depopulation, and those who believe that our nation’s strength is derived from its ability to cram large numbers of human beings into small areas of land.
Lisa Haven’s headline warns us of “Huge News! DIA Video Admits Agenda to Depopulate Now in Effect!” According to her sources, the Detroit Institute of Arts is the epicenter of a conspiracy to reduce human population levels.
But how, you may ask, can an art museum cause depopulation?
It’s simple, really. Just think of the typical teenage art student… morose… bored with the banality of ordinary existence… looking deeper for something more inspiring than the old cliches of family life… wearing unattractive, baggy clothing… unclean. They skulk around, feeling like misunderstood geniuses. Ennui, existential crisis and clove cigarettes aren’t correlated with a high rate of breeding are they?
It all begins to make sense when you consider that… hold on… Oh.
It turns out that Lisa Haven was actually writing about how the Defense Intelligence Agency, not the Detroit Institute of Arts, has been engaging in a depopulation program. Well, that’s hardly plausible, is it?
It is a wise scholar who allows the natural rhythms of the subject being studied to inform the way in which research is conducted. So it is with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which, as the ocean has apparently decided, should from now on simply be referred to as the Scripps Institution of.
I’m wondering, though, exactly who at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography thought that it would be a good idea to post a sign for the organization precisely where oceanography predicts that forces of deposition may occur.
What do we make of congressional candidate Nick Troiano?
On the one hand, Nick Troiano justifies his run for Congress by boasting of his experience working for Super PACs, 527s and 501(c)(4) corporations as the young face speaking on behalf of the interests of old money. Listen to Nick Troiano describe how he built his resume working on behalf of big money financier Peter G. Peterson and private capital investor Peter Ackerman:
Now, Nick Troiano doesn’t use the words “Super PAC”, “527″ or “501(c)(4) corporation” to describe his work for The Can Kicks Back (encompassing the INFORM Act and ‘Generational Equity Tour’ featuring keynote speeches by old rich people) and Americans Elect, but that’s what The Can Kicks Back and Americans Elect are. Troiano doesn’t mention that these corporations took funds of unlimited size from often-anonymous sources, but that’s what they did. Indeed, as The Can Kicks Back struggled after billionaire Pete Peterson withheld funds, Nick Troiano personally sought other big-money donors to keep the operation afloat. Troiano doesn’t mention his work for the Concord Coalition and Unity08, the big-money political creations of billionaires and hedge fund wealth managers, but they are also the basis of the experience Nick Troiano depends on to justify his run for Congress.
If on the one hand Nick Troiano’s career is based in Super PACs, 527s and 501c4 corporations, on the other hand Nick Troiano’s campaign seems to be based on running against Super PACs, 527s and 501c4 corporations. On February 28, Troiano posted the following to his campaign Facebook account:
So which Nick Troiano is running for Congress: the Nick Troiano who brags of his experience with big money unlimited anonymous Super PACs, 527s, and 501c4 corporations? The Nick Troiano who declares that the entire problem is big money unlimited anonymous Super PACs, 527s, and 501c4 corporations? Or, disturbingly, is Nick Troiano both?
Sometimes people turn away from bad experiences and influences to make new, productive starts. Maybe Nick Troiano’s doing this in his run for Congress. Maybe not. The contradictions in his very young campaign are already glaring. If I were Nick Troiano’s advisor, I’d tell him to take a few lines from that old Pete Seeger song:
Sooner or later, you’re going to have to address that question, Nick. If I were you, I’d address it sooner.
Today in Phoenix, Arizona, I ran across a statue by Pat Mathiesen, claiming to represent the “Spirit of the Desert Bighorn”. A plaque on the statue explained how bighorn sheep that used to live in the desert where the city has grown required a very particular habitat…
… like a habitat without valet parking…
… or a habitat without laser spas and shopping malls surrounded by concrete…
… oh, those picky, picky bighorn sheep.
Sometimes, the strongest statement made by a piece of art comes from the context in which it has been placed.
Perusing the FEC records of recent independent expenditures for political campaigns in congressional elections, I came across a curious note about a pair of expenditures in opposition to David Jolly, a Republican seeking to replace the deceased Congressman Bill Young down in Florida. The group that made the expenditures, for radio advertisements, was called Friends Of Democracy.
Friends of Democracy?
I asked myself, what would real friends of democracy do, if they had to spend a big bunch of money? Would friends of democracy take that money and spend it to try to change the course of a congressional election? Wouldn’t Friends Of Democracy just let people vote, without trying to come in and use their big money resources, if they really were friends of democracy? Isn’t democracy simply about letting people vote as they wish to vote, rather than creating a system in which the people with the most money exert the most influence?
I decided to look into Friends of Democracy, and see what kind of organization they are. What I found led me into a deeper uncertainty of how democratic Friends of Democracy really is.
There’s no doubt that Friends of Democracy is a pro-Democratic organization, in the sense that it supports political candidates from the Democratic Party. When it comes to actual democracy, the kind that isn’t owned by any particular political party, the Friends of Democracy organization seems to be less loyal. Friends of Democracy talks a good talk about democracy, to be sure, but in action, it behaves as Friends of Oligarchy.
Friends of Democracy gets its money from wealthy contributors. FEC records show that contributions to Friends of Democracy don’t come in increments of twenty dollars here and there, but in increments of thousands of dollars. They come from people like Robert Nathan of North Mohawk Capital, who wrote a check to Friends of Democracy for thousands of dollars. Thousands more came from the wealthy Soros clan, led by the rich and powerful George Soros.
These funders of the Friends of Democracy are members of the 1 Percent, the richest of the rich. They’re using their money, however, to pretend to speak for the rest of us – the 99 Percent. To be more accurate, they’re claiming to speak for the 98 percent – as Friends of Democracy sends large amounts of money to an organization called The Other 98%.
The Other 98% looks like a fantastic organization. I agree with the political ideals it promotes. The way that The Other 98% promotes those ideals, however, seems to undermine them.
The Other 98% claims to be “a grassroots network of concerned people that shines a light on economic injustice, undue corporate influence and threats to democracy.”
I don’t see how The Other 98% is a grassroots network. A grassroots network is built from the ground up, not from the top down. A grassroots network gathers its strength from the involvement of its rank and file members, not from big checks written by wealthy donors.
Is it economically just for The Other 98% to claim to speak for the 98 percent least wealthy of Americans, when in fact it is powered by the 1 percent most wealthy Americans? It’s nice for the wealthy to give some money to promote the interests of those of us who don’t have as much money, but it isn’t honest for them to suggest that the organization is sustained by someone other than the “corporate asses” it claims to oppose.
There’s something disempowering about the way that The Other 98% relies on fat cat money, suggesting that the actual members of the 99 Percent aren’t powerful enough or smart enough to sustain a genuine grassroots effort on their own. While The Other 98 Percent speaks out against corporate influence as a threat to democracy, it is embracing that same corporate influence behind the scenes.
At Irregular Times, we have harshly criticized corporate power brokers for setting up fake grassroots organizations that are dedicated to impoverishing working Americans. The goals of The Other 98% seem to be more genuinely helpful than those of groups like Americans Elect, but good intentions aren’t enough.
When genuine activists get duped into supporting astroturf organizations like The Other 98 Percent, their trust in authentic grassroots organizations is damaged, and they grow cynical and jaded. If they really believe in the worth of the 99 Percent, and in the effectiveness of grassroots politics, the leaders of The Other 98 Percent ought to stop taking donations from people made wealthy by corporate power, and let real grassroots activists take center stage.
We don’t need more Friends of Democracy. We need more democracy.
This weekend’s big story has been the escalating conflict between Russia and the Ukraine. (What’s up with the muted reaction to the Optic Nerve story?)
It’s a complex situation, but I find that I just can’t move beyond the dread that the United States and Russia could be moving toward a new Cold War.
I want to hear other people’s perspectives on this issue. What is your understanding of what’s happened with Russia and the Ukraine? How much should it matter to those of us who don’t live in either Russia or the Ukraine? What do you think is likely to happen next? What should the United States do, or not do, next?
Are the Greens just as stunned and bewildered by the story as I am? Are they just tired? Is there no one left over at Green Party headquarters to turn out the lights?
How can anyone expect the Green Party to offer an actual alternative political vision if the Greens don’t speak to the most important issues of the day?
While I was trying to read an article from an online news magazine this morning, an advertisement popped up for Harvestland chicken breasts.
“Eat Like Your Ancestors”, the commercial banner urged me.
To tell the truth, I don’t know much about how my ancestors ate. I know that my German grandparents liked to eat spaetzel, but that dish is made from potatoes, I think, not chicken breasts.
So, how could I eat chicken breasts like my ancestors? I can only look to the advertisement for clues.
Perhaps you can help me by telling me about how your ancestors ate.
Did your ancestors eat chicken breasts nestled in styrofoam and wrapped in plastic?
Did your ancestors eat chicken that was 99 percent fat free?
Did your ancestors eat chicken that was approved by the USDA?
Did your ancestors cook chicken recipes they obtained from Harvestland food company?
Did your ancestors use coupons to get special deals when they bought chicken from the store?
Did your ancestors eat chicken that was raised on an all vegetarian diet?
Did your ancestors eat chicken that had a tenderness guarantee?
Did your ancestors decide what to eat after looking at advertisements on the Internet?
In the 1950s, my ancestors made dishes for dinner using Jello. Does Harvestland think I ought to have more dinners like that?
Thanks to an accidental e-mail dump, we know that once billionaire privatizer Peter G. Peterson pulled his funding, the kick-the-old-and-poor front group called “The Can Kicks Back” quickly went bankrupt.
We also know that the plan for The Can Kicks Back to have 300 active campus chapters by the end of Spring 2013 was a big fizzle. Young people just weren’t attracted to the message of hurting vulnerable people to help the interests of big old money. The Can Kicks Back only reached a sixth of its goal by the end of Spring 2013, and by the end of Summer 2013 every one of its chapters went on hiatus, never to show another sign of activity on TCKB’s campus chapter system.
Until I visited tour.thecankicksback.org this morning, however, I had no idea that in the Fall of 2013 The Can Kicks Back went on a five week tour of megacampuses across America, including places like these …:
Appalachian State University (enrollment: 17,344)
… in a last effort to stimulate actual student interest in the old-billionaire political program. These campuses have over half a million students in attendance. As as its website details, The Can Kicks Back propped up colorful tents on the main quads, screened films, and in special meetings “helped students work through the ‘Debt Busters’ activity developed by the Concord Coalition” (another front organization propped up by billionaire Peter G. Peterson). The Can Kicks Back tried to convince students to write and send kick-old-and-poor-people-for-corporations messages to Washington DC, stuck as labels on cans (get it — cans, kicking?). As the following tally by The Can Kicks Back shows, about 40 students signed cans at each of the visits to these big campuses … a response rate of about 00.15%.
As we mentioned above, not one campus chapter was originated or brought back to life as a consequence of these visits.
Perhaps it didn’t help that this “Youth Tour” appeared to consist of youngish Nick Troiano introducing an array of old rich people to deliver their lectures:
Or perhaps it wasn’t the appearance of well-dressed whitehairs. Perhaps it was simply the message itself that failed.
Independent Political Report provides us with the following statement from Laurie Roth, the 2012 presidential candidate of the Constitution Party:
“Obama and the progressives have shredded our national flesh and skin down to the exposed bone. We now look like a staggering Zombie with chunks of tendons hanging everywhere, dripping and splattering blood as we roll down the street. People run to get out of the way as Obama jeers and laughs at us in between golf games… Frankenstein has found a playmate now… Those who intend to hide under the bed and give up get out of my way because I will stand until my last breath and scream… FREEDOM!!!”
I have many issues with this statement, but my central concern is that shows extremely poor understanding of zombie fighting tactics. If the USA encounters a zombie apocalypse, we need a President who understands that standing and screaming will not defeat the undead.
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