Archive for September, 2010

tom friedman’s red shirt

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

2010, 14″ x 17″ x 2″, wallpaper, oil paint, spray paint on wood (click on image for closeup)

red shirts

Or, not so metaphorically, what Tom Friedman is saying  (by waving the bloody shirt) is that  Iraq/Afghanistan needs to suck on America’s dick, so that we can feel better about ourselves, by demonstrating our superiority.

teabag zombies, haha

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

I see that the tea bag/republican = zombie metaphor I came up with last week might be going mainstream today. Not that I had anything to do with it. But, nonetheless.

life raft #3 (space)

Monday, September 27th, 2010

2010, 19″ x 11″ x 2″,  rhinestones embedded in wood, varnish (click on image for closeup)

double entendre (self portrait)

Friday, September 24th, 2010

2010, 7″ diameter x 10″ , wood, chicken feathers, varnish (click on image for closeup)

redistributing the wealth

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

One buzz word the republicans are always using to point the voodoo bone at democrats is “redistributing the wealth”, and like its cousin “class warfare”, usually evokes a sense  that some sacred American taboo is being violated. Usually, this taboo is brought up in the debate over taxes and government programs where the enterprising, hardworking, and successful  are being forced (or punished even) into paying for the lazy and shiftless to drink beer all day while stirring up trouble. This notion that there are legions of parasites out there living the high life while sucking the life force out of the earnest and noble reached mystic icon status during the Reagan years with the myth of the Cadillac welfare queen. And as a consequence of this elevated taboo icon status, I can’t recall anyone in the media ever challenging the misbegotten stature of what redistributing the wealth really means beyond the usual, and restricted, interpretation.

To be sure taxation is one form of redistributing wealth, typically, from those with more to those with less. But, there is a lot more to the story than that, because taxation is but only one form of “intervention” into the wealth and the creation of wealth on part of its citizens. It is the central function of government to arbitrate through its laws and regulations the economic playing field that its citizens are obliged to use and abide by. Governments around the world have developed many different sets of rules of how economic life functions in their particular country and is reflected in the well being of its citizens. A major component of those rules determine how wealth is created, distributed, and eventually passed on to inheritors.

In the United States we have very liberalized regulations on the three vectors of wealth. This state of affairs creates an economic playing field that is front loaded with advantages to those with more rather than those with less, with the net effect of redistributing wealth upward from the poor to the rich. And while this redistribution of wealth is in play before the  issue of taxation comes into play, it is still a distribution of wealth. Take for example the lax regulation on hedge fund speculation. If unregulated speculation in the oil markets creates a price bubble, that then is reflected in higher gas prices at the pump, then wealth is being redistributed from those that have to pay more. Or, if you get a credit card, under the current bad usury laws, in effect at 7% interest and run up $10,000 dollars on it and the interest is changed to 32%, your wealth is being redistributed. The same can be said about the real estate bubble where your house was turned into a cash machine for Wall Street. Simply put, an unregulated capitalist system is designed specifically to redistribute wealth to the wealthy, and keep it there. It’s why the top 20% own 85% of the wealth in this country. It’s why their earnings have gone up during the worst depression since the 30’s while everybody else has gone down.

Of course all this happens silently in the dead of night and nobody seems to notice. It’s not until taxes come into play as a means to mitigate the wholesale “redistribution of wealth” economic disaster on the middle and lower class that the other meaning of “redistribution of wealth” rears its ugly mythic head. And even then those decrying the redistribution of wealth to be a rising socialism fail to notice that close to 8 trillion dollars of present and future taxpayers money has been redistributed upward to the same few (and failing) elite institutions and individuals.

On the one hand the whole story of redistribution of wealth is really a redistribution of wealth from whence it was stolen,  and on the other hand its trumped up and imagined evil (for political purposes) is a sucker punch at the notion government itself. Because for some reason it’s alright, or even encouraged for the private sector to rig the system to redistribute money from the middle and poor class upward, but when the government for the people, does the same to the rich, it’s suddenly transformed and levitated  into the epitome of evil.

generic pop country

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Not sure what this all means, but seeing how I’ve always lived in (dark blue) generic pop country, with occasional but pleasant forays into generic soda country, it never dawned on me that the entire South was almost exclusively coke brand country. Just another weird cultural quirk, or might this have something to do with predilection for unconscious brand loyalty icon polishing, or simply another way of saying this is what I identify with and I’m sticking with it – no matter what – for ever.

Click here for full sized map

contrast gainer

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

This is the latest Barbra Boxer ad making the rounds, and is a nice example of the “contrast gainer” idea. In a lot of ways it reminds me of the many video quotes by Allan Greyson, very simple statements, presented as indubitably true both in fact and sense. One would think that because this advantageous strategy is so infrequently used  on the Obama democratic front, that they either don’t believe the truth, can’t stand up to such comparisons themselves, or know implicitly that the truth will set them free (of their funding sources). The best testament of how well this works is how Allan Greyson – a fucking freshman congressman – is often depicted in republican ads as democratic enemy numero uno. He’s not despised by the right wing for the status, power, or threat he has already accumulated, but because he is showing the way.


So I guess today is the day of the campaign video. So here’s another:

And another one. This one is really to the point – short, simple, and on the record. Who would vote for this woman after just these few points?

h/t digby

UPDATE: Here’s the latest from Allen Greyson himself, who is running against a reconstructionist teabagger, who apparently is trying to make his established views disappear frrom the record:

who took my dog whistle

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Phoenix Woman over at FDL has a great recap of what has transpired so far with the Tea Party movement:

There is a claim going around progressive and mainstream media circles that “Tea Party” victories in Republican primaries show that the GOP isn’t as lockstep as believed. But the Tea Party rebellion isn’t against the Republican platform — as we will see, the current co-opted iteration of Tea Party candidates have to back the GOP platform in order to qualify for funding — but against the belief of Republican Party leaders that it’s best for the GOP base to not show its true colors lest they lose general elections.

She goes on to outline how the Tea Party developed from a grass roots movement to co-option by the party in order to motivate the base;

Otherwise, it could have become an organized national party capable of doing to the Republicans what the Republicans regularly do to the Dems, which is to back a spoiler party just strong enough to peel enough votes off of the Democrats to hurt them electorally.


The GOP’s Tea Party wing was supposed to be this pretend-independent party (that somehow only ran candidates as Republicans and had to agree to uphold the GOP platform in order for the Koch money to flow) that would fulfill some key basic functions. It would get the Republican base fired up to the point of rabidity, if not beyond; it would allow Republicans to offload their justified public reps for racism and bigotry onto an “independent” group that in reality was designed to be about as independent of the GOP as the infamous Bantustans were independent of apartheid-era South Africa. But it was never, ever supposed to be in the driver’s seat of the GOP.

I think this is right. She continues on to emphasize that when republicans actually campaign directly in English, without euphemisms, dog whistles, or baiting of one kind or another, and outline their programs coherently, they lose in the general elections. The party establishment knows this all too well, and is likely the source of their trepidation, knowing full well that when their ideas are exposed to the bright sunlight of full disclosure and contrasted starkly with rational answers to some very serious problems, they will be rejected.

christine o donnell on socialism

Friday, September 17th, 2010

This is pretty rich. First off she can’t decide whether the U.S. is already socialist or it’s all happened since Obama was elected president. Then she decries the new corporatist health care as an example of the dreaded runaway socialism and how the government will now be stealing the equivalent of a latte a day (or $120.00 a month) from every person for health care, presumably (I guess) replacing the usual $600.00 – $800.00 a month charged by the insurance industry. She then goes on to (unbelievably) outline the “fundamental flaw of socialism” in terms that are actually, classic textbook descriptions used to describe capitalism. Like reducing the value of a person to that which is cost effective, or reducing the human being to cog in a wheel, presumably again, like how an insurance industry determines your health care premiums, or a business determines your work output value. And yet, she goes on…..

On the sunny side though, it looks like the comedy will only get better. Lets see now, Palin, Bachmann, and now O’Donnell – if that doesn’t sound like a grand re-make  of The Three Amigos, I don’t know what does.

teabag zombie

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

I had a good laugh today, when two back to back radio hosts (Shultz & Goldman) highlighted their shows with exactly opposite views on what the teabag primary victories mean. Ed Shultz said the notion that civil war had broken out in the republican party was overblown wishful thinking and a distraction to liberals, who should instead be concentrating more on appealing to its own base issues. A couple of hours following, Nor-Man-Goldman started out his show declaring an all out civil war had broken out in the republican party, and the time was ripe for liberals to pile on and exploit the split. I think both views are only marginally right, and neither should be embraced to the exclusion of the other. For sure, democrats are frustrated by Obama and the democratic legislature, just as there is something equally amiss, when Carl Rove goes on Hannity and whacks the winner of the Delaware republican primary. I’m not sure whether this is a civil war or not, but it is defiantly an insurrection of some sort or other within the right wing.

As I tried to illustrate in the KKK/teabag series, the only thing really similar to the teabag insurrection of today, was the KKK insurrection on the democratic party back in the twenties. While the political party’s have exchanged  places since those times, those creating the current insurrection are operating with the same ideological road map of white privilege/supremacy,  Christian reconstructionism, and anti-immigration, and anti-federal government attitudes typical of KKK influence in the twenties. The democratic party finally purged this infestation at their 1924 democratic convention when the pro-Klan plank in the party platform was defeated. And in many ways this purge not only sent the Klan into decline but set the stage for the democratic parties move to the left after the 29 economic collapse, and began the cultural shift we see now being exploited by the republican party (especially since the “Southern Strategy”). Which has now come full circle  with the same Krazy Kulture Klub agitating the republican party. And to be sure, agitating the republican party establishment is exactly what they are doing. We shouldn’t forget that literally all the teabag candidates are amateurs politicians with little more than pop ideology funded by a few deep pocketed ideologues – that are no doubt looked on with suspicion from the republican establishment. The fact that this movement comes as it does after the multifaceted tumultuous 8 year failure of the Bush administration, and especially the catastrophic collapse of the revered unregulated so called free markets, the republican establishment have more than good reason to suspect that the teabaggers might be harboring a good bit of their anger and vengeance for being strung along as chumps and accessory to all these failures.  One wonders whether republicans might  see their own ass on the block when the “restoring honor” cultural revolution starts really calling the shots – like KO-ing their chosen ones in primaries, giving purity tests, providing  democrats with windfall general election opportunities, and possibly being elected and refusing to go along to get along.

In a lot of ways the teabag clash is not really a civil war, but  co-dependent relationship that’s gone all horrorshow. The republican party has long cultivated this perennial tribal zombie for their own ends, but has never actually delivered on its demands. This fact has come to light as the smoke and fog of economic catastrophe continues to envelope the nation and the zombies (or dead confederates) have emerged from their graves to feed on the living. The republicans, like the democrats before, could end their invasion by officially denouncing their agenda, but unlike before, the republican party has already lost all its ideological legitimacy in the crash , so has no other choice but to turn zombie itself even if it means turning into the dead itself. Which in reality it already is.


Glenn Greenwald, in a similar vein, explores some of the reactions to the teabag victories. He sees the (mocking) overreaction to these victories problematic, in that it conceals the class issues that arise with them winning. In the above I tried to characterize (part of)the problem for the republican establishment is primarily one of “amateur” tea party politicians replacing party insiders, giving the dems a windfall opportunity, and not falling into party line if elected. Greenwald is simply describing this as the tea party candidates failure to properly fit into the DC republican aristocracy, primarily as a matter of class. Which I think is essentially true, because it still represents a primary challenge, and thus a threat, to the republican elite establishment.