Otter Disaster Designs - Pop Culture Themed T-Shirts

Friday, March 4, 2016

Figuring Out Trump

I was wrong about Trump's level of support plateauing, it seems.  His level of support has continued to grow, and I've watched his campaign with a certain morbid fascination. I'm trying to figure him and his campaign out. His supporters are much more diverse and their motivations much more varied than I'd guessed.  The Guardian has a revealing article featuring letters from Trump supporters, many left-leaning, and closeted. Their reasons for supporting him go the beyond the CNN/MSNBC racist/nativist narrative. Some are actually supporting him with chaos and tumult a desired result. A 'burn the village to save the village' approach. I'm certainly a fan of what his success has done to the corrupt and laughable Republican Party.

His appeal is much more broad than his critics are willing to, or want to admit.  The fact that many prefer Bernie, but Trump is their number two choice over Clinton is an amazing revelation. I've seen their two candidacies successes stemming from the same angers and frustrations with the same old party lines, inherent corruptions, etc, but two months ago, I wouldn't have drawn a Venn Diagram where there was significant overlap in their two circles.

As a libertarian, his stated positions are almost universally anathema to me, but I've certainly enjoyed watching him act as a raging bull in the GOP's neo-con china shop. He's probably more of a centrist than Cruz/Rubio or Clinton on many issues that matter a lot to me, mainly living in the pockets of Goldman Sachs and more war, more war, more war! In other words, every single candidate running is terrible, including Trump, but he really isn't worse than any of the other contenders. He's just more open about what a creep he is. That's refreshing to many people.

The latest big news in the Trump campaign over the last couple days is the reappearance of Mitt Romney in Presidential politics.  He's arrived to suggest that any and all measures should be taken to keep Trump from being the nominee of THEIR party, even if they have to force a brokered convention, and give the Presidency to Clinton. I suggested this would be the basic strategy back in December.

That Romney and company have so blatantly and desperately laid out their plan to do an end-run about the primary process is remarkable, going so far as to suggest they will modify Rule 40 (again) to stymie his nomination. The linked article is from December and suggests Cruz/Rubio as the top two contenders, and a Rule 40 change to PREVENT a floor fight at the convention with a large swath of delegates voting against the de facto nominee. The rule first gained notoriety when it was changed to prevent Ron Paul delegates from announcing their support at the 2012 convention. Now they may amend the rule to CREATE a floor fight and hopefully force a floor vote beyond the first to install anyone but Trump. Amazing. The Democrats have been far less subtle and created their 'superdelegates' a few cycles back, allowing them to tightly control their nomination process to shoehorn in their establishment candidate in any remotely close primary situation. Clinton holds a vast majority of those party insider, party elite, establishment linked delegates. Bernie was never going to get a significant number of those, he would have to absolutely crush her in every state to even be a real threat.

A brokered convention will absolutely destroy the already fractured GOP, showing utter contempt for a large part of its potential voter base. They will see their votes as stolen by a powerful elite, and the nominee as a puppet of that same elite. Those voters will leave and not return. Which is no less than it deserves.

My guess is Trump's poll numbers will spike again as a result of this coordinated attack by the exact cabal that his supporters absolutely despise.

I see Donald Trump as analogous to the 'Cool Heel' Pro Wrestling archetype that emerged in a big way in the 1990s and Mitt Romeny is his Vince McMahon. He comes out and cuts a promo on The Donald, giving him plenty of heat, and setting Trump up for a stunning rebuttal, leaving him more popular than ever.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Shimmering Skull

I've been playing around with GIFs a bit lately, here's a shimmering, chromatic skull -

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

It's A Big Club...

It's a big club and you ain't in it.

It has been interesting to see people losing their collective shit over Trump's latest, successful attempts to get attention.  “He's gone full fascist!” they cry. I've got news for you. America has been creeping toward fascism for a very long time, and fascism goes beyond just the Nazis, fascism's most extreme form. Yes, Trump speaks like a fascist. His rhetoric is racist, xenophobic, and certainly doesn't help the view that America hates Muslims. He is human garbage. On the other hand, all he CAN do right now is talk. He will NEVER be President. He is despised by the GOP establishment. They hate him as much as many of you do. Maybe more. Regardless of primary votes, rest assured, the Republican Party will lie, cheat and steal to make sure he is not their nominee.  They will install Cruz or Rubio, who by now are starting to look like reasonable centrists.  Hell, Trump may be doing them a favor.

So while Trump talks a good fascist game (and exposes a horrible undercurrent of supporters), Obama governs as a fascist. His administration continues the George Bush policies of an unstable Middle East almost as if Jr were given another couple of terms.  Obama and Hillary, as his Secretary of State helped, destabilize Syria and Libya, and created the conditions for the Islamic State to climb up from the foothold given to them by Bush. The refugee crisis out of the Middle East is directly tied to these policies as well.

Obama's recent comments about Assad in Syria seem to suggest he thinks the Bush Doctrine is pretty neat. Unilateral regime change (while creating the illusion of some sort of coalition) is still the core of American Middle East policy.  This approach guarantees chaos, violence and death for years to come. Mostly Muslim deaths.  I'm sure Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and all the other defense contractors are perfectly fine with this, as they make the hardware that gets used in these stupid, endless wars. Obama's drone policies have also been proven to contribute to radicalization, and Islamic State recruitment. This is a policy he could end today, literally with the stroke of a pen, but he does not.  Arming 'moderate rebels' is a colossally stupid move, as those rebels are anything but. It is a recipe for blowback, creating the conditions for would-be Bin Ladens, and inspiring further acts like Paris and San Bernadino.  These 'rebels' merely want to rule from the top of a mountain of skulls in Syria instead of Assad or Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and they will use Western support to get there.

Obama in deed and action has killed thousands of Muslims, and will kill thousands more. Hillary, almost certainly your next President, has said we need boots on the ground in Syria, to oust Islamic State AND Assad, and with no clue as to what happens next. (Hint: Look at Iraq and Afghanistan, and millions more dead) Maybe none of that matters as long as the prices of Defense Stocks stays high, and those companies keep pumping out Predator Drones and Hellfire Missiles, lining the pockets of their shareholders.

Fascism has important economic distinctions as well.  Big Banks, Auto Companies, and Airlines all managed to socialize their losses and privatize their profits when they were deemed 'too big to fail'. This is essentially fascist economics. Bush started it, Obama continued it with nary a hiccup.  Bill Clinton used to talk about 'Third Way' economics, the mix of socialism and capitalism.  Also referred to as ‘mixed economies’. GW Bush and Obama both love the phrase  public-private partnership which is the same mentality.  They both loved to subsidize their pet, politically connected companies, and when the money disappears from Enron, Halliburton, Solyndra, ad nauseum the taxpayer gets robbed, and the executives get golden parachutes.  Obamacare isn't socialist as much as lefties and righties would both love it to be. It is fascist.  It forces the consumer to buy, not state or government insurance, but coverage from private companies. Crony capitalism to its very core. Fascist.

Fascism also requires some sort of nationalist fervor.  Try watching or attending a sporting event some time and see the worship of the police and military on constant display. The U.S. is approaching 20 Trillion dollars in debt, and we have the military paying the NFL $5 million dollars to 'honor' them. Propaganda, and you paid for it. 'Thank you for your service,' is the robotic mantra spoken to anyone wearing a uniform and police and soldiers are held up as above criticism by many.  Meanwhile drone operators refer to children as 'Fun-Sized Terrorists' right before incinerating them and cops execute unarmed people in the street and get paid vacation for their trouble. If there is a camera rolling they may have to take the time off unpaid. They do this with surplus military gear, handed down by the Feds.  Police look more like soldiers now, than 'peace officers', and see themselves warriors...War on Drugs, War on Crime and everyone is suspect.  The militarization of police really took off in earnest in the early 90s under Bush the First and Bill Clinton. More creeping fascism.  Plus, near total surveillance by the NSA and CIA of domestic communication. No warrant, this is War dammit!

Fascism never looks the same from implementation to implementation. Hitler's fascism was it's most virulent form, Mussolini's a little less so. Spanish and South American fascism each had their own distinct attributes. The fascinating thing about the American Brand is how the left and right prop up the different components. The Militarism comes from the conservative/center right while the central planning is largely driven by the center left. The American flavor is what I, and others, have called Soft Fascism. It is centrist, but still Authoritarian. It has learned the lessons of the more virulent strains. It maintains elections among a small, select group while trumpeting our choices. Two parties who behave as one in almost all regards (economic central planning, foreign policy, corruption) and create the appearance of a vast gulf of differences (guns, abortion and other wedge issues at the edges of policy). They nudge the needle almost imperceptibly one way or the other on the wedge issues, and stoke the passions of those most passionate believers in those areas while governing everywhere else with almost seamless continuity (War, Empire, Cronyism, making themselves rich at your expense). Meanwhile the keep anyone with any real ideas of change on the fringes or shut them out of the process entirely. See ballot access laws designed to discourage third parties.

 “The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can ‘throw the rascals out’ at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy” 
- Caroll Quigley from his book Tragedy and Hope

Bill Clinton was a student of Quigley's at Georgetown, spoke highly of Quigley, considered him a mentor and Bill was almost the platonic ideal of the quote. Remember he bombed the shit out of Iraq too. Not too mention his adventures in the Balkans.

Trump won't win, in fact he won't even get the nomination. Neither will Bernie Sanders for that matter. The Democrats want Hillary, and that's who they'll give you, primaries be damned.  You'll get Hillary vs. Cruz or Rubio, with Hillary the winner barring a complete implosion or new scandal. She'll continue the Empire, just as GH Bush, her husband, Bush 41, and Obama have done. She is the Goldman Sachs candidate after all.

George Carlin laid it out a long time ago:

Friday, July 25, 2014

Revolutionary Politics in Heathers: An Analysis from Seriously Over-Thinking A Movie

I watched the excellent black comedy film 'Heathers' (1988) yesterday and as I am prone to do, I began over-thinking and hyper analyzing.

'Heathers' can be viewed as a political allegory. Charismatic and sociopathic leaders struggle for power in society while the bodies pile up. The ‘little’ are people merely pawns or victims to be used in the struggle for power.

I posted this thought on Twitter, and Matthew Peterson (@MightyKingCobra), responded with the following question. Followup questions resulted in expansion of the theory and this is largely what resulted with some refinements. I'd consider all this a work in progress, and will require subsequent viewings for additional support and/or refutation of any points made here.

Matthew: Whut?

The Heathers represent competing yet identical political factions, with Heather Chandler the dominant faction. The Heathers are the power elite of Westerberg High School (a microcosm of society at large) Heather Duke and Heather McNamara, as well as a few other ‘popular’ kids represent other factions of the power elite, allied with the dominant faction to control society. JD (portrayed by Christian Slater) arrives and represents a new, revolutionary faction with a disruptive agenda.

The factions all lie and manipulate others for the benefit of their vision of the 'proper' social order: The Heathers to uphold their stranglehold on that social order, JD to destroy that order. Veronica Sawyer represents the upper middle class. She is allied with the elite (Heathers) and is a beneficiary of their power. She is already disillusioned with the existing power structure and unsure of her place in it when she meets the revolutionary (JD). She becomes convinced of the corruption inherent in the system and she naively (and covertly) joins his side.

 Heather McNamara’s attempted suicide represents those elements of society that destroy themselves when the prevailing power structure begins to break down and they have no one to tell them what to do. Martha’s attempt represents the despair created by the machinations of the prevailing order, the way the power elite can crush, without regard, those considered beneath them.

The horror of what revolution represents gradually becomes evident to Veronica, but she also knows the current order cannot stand. After realizing the corruption of the elite can’t be reformed and the horrors of JD’s revolution, she re-aligns with the rest of the middle class in Betty, as well as ultimately the working class in Martha to create a third inclusive order, after the elite proves weakened, and the revolution destroys itself. As has happened historically in revolutions the Middle Class supplants the ruling class, and compromises with the revolution in the new order, to became the new power elite. Whether this becomes an equally corrupt structure among Veronica, Betty and Martha, is left to the viewer at the end of the film.

The relationships among Veronica, Betty and Martha are inherent in their names. The class distinction between Veronica and Betty are paralleled in their first names from Archie comics and their last names (Sawyer and Finn) from the works of Twain. In each instance the class distinction is present. Martha’s nickname is ‘Dumptruck’ and she is portrayed by way of her dress and demeanor as a person of the working class.

Matthew: Where do Kurt and Ram fit in?

Kurt and Ram, as members of the football team, were leading elite figures allied with the Heathers, representing the military/police (the enforcement arm of the established order). Every revolution must subvert and destroy key institutions emblematic of the prevailing social order. The staged circumstances of their deaths served JD’s 'revolution' by revealing these establishment goons as members of an easily maligned 'other,' in this case homosexuals in Reagan's America.

This event represents the power of propaganda in revolutionary politics to subvert institutions. They were also political pawns used by JD to further pull Veronica into the cause (her complicity in their murders), and immerse her into his revolution. They had to be eliminated as the prevailing physical (military) threat to JD, and he was also able to undermine their social institution (the ‘manly’ football team).

Matthew: So, let's discuss Pauline and the teacher's lounge sequences... 

Dunno, probably some baloney about academia’s role in society and how it perpetuates and is part of the corrupt power elite system. Since the school is a microcosm of society the teachers represent the ineffectual and clueless (government) leaders allegedly tasked with running things, while the unelected, shadowy, power elite (Heathers) are really pulling the strings within the culture. The teachers/principal are generally ignorant of what is actually going on, what the real problems and their causes are, and hence have no real solutions, but instead offer lots of platitudes and speeches that have no real world effects.

This commentary was originally a Facebook post, so there were an additional comment along with my response and additional thoughts.

Comment: Perhaps the teachers are NGOs like the United Nations or World Health Organization?

I see them more as the 'legitimate' power structure. The State, whose impotent actions coupled with their ignorance, prop up and allow the true powers (Heathers) to operate unchecked. Hence JDs ultimate desire to destroy the actual physical structure of 'the school' and ALL it housed, the state, the power elite, the entire sick culture. Veronica manages a compromise of power between the old way of the Heathers and JD's radical vision, with a 'Veronica' supplanting the remaining 'Heather' and creating her 'third way' power structure within the culture/society, but still outside the 'legitimate' (teachers/school) establishment structure. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Post Behind the Walls

Recently the fine fellows on the Comic Dorks podcast were discussing the recent discovery of an issue of Action Comics #1 inside the wall of a house in Minnesota, and how that book might have gotten there.

This reminded me of some framed newspaper pages from April 15, 1908 hanging on the walls of a rental house in Silverton, Colorado. The pages were serving as makeshift insulation from when the home was built and were discovered intact and in pretty decent shape when a remodel took place some years back. This story was detailed in the guest book for the house.

From the front page, a surprisingly relevant political cartoon showing us that politics hasn't really changed much in 105 years (click for larger):

From the sports section, more cartoons we can file under 'the more things change the more they stay the same'. These strips concern the impending Grizzlies baseball season (click for larger)

And a detail of the left strip (click for larger):

These two images book ended the front page header (click for larger):

The left image seems to indicate that it may, in fact, be opening day for baseball. I am unsure what the right hand image with women breaking some kind of record at a registration office is all about. When did women get the vote in Colorado?  In retrospect I wish I'd photographed more of the stories for subsequent reading, but at the time I was mainly interested in the style and amount of comic illustration in the newspaper.

The sports page illustration on the left is very reminiscent of George Carlson's work, but I can't find any evidence he ever spent any of his life or career in Denver.

The next time I get back to Silverton and this house I will definitely take more photos of individual stories and try to get some better pics of the illustrations as well.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Couple of Disasters

I recently came across an image of an otter holding a hammer and it amused me immensely, as you can well imagine.  I don't usually go for the cute meme-thing, but I put together a couple of Otter Disaster images with this helpful little fellow in mind anyway. (click for larger)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Broom-Hilda Tries to End the Fed

I sometimes get asked where my anti-authoritarian, libertarian streak comes from, and I always have to answer, 'Well...lots of places.' One early influence in that area had to be comics and cartoons. Bugs Bunny is about as anti-authoritarian as they get. Every politician portrayed in Bloom County was shown as corrupt and incompetent. Even Garfield had nothing but contempt for Jon, the only 'authority' figure in his life. One of my favorite comics when I was very young, was the Wizard of Id. The King in that strip was a lowlife. He was corrupt. His people despised him. The King is a fink! I found this book in a used bookstore a couple of weeks ago, it is the very first Wizard of Id collection, full of anti-authoritarian goodness:

Alongside that book I found this one from 1982:
Now, I've never really read Broom-Hilda, but is was only $2.00 and skimming through it, I found I liked the art, and the gags were funny. I'm always on the lookout for good comic reference material. Once I got it home and started reading it I was delighted to find a 6 day sequence about Broom-Hilda and her friends trying to 'End the Fed'. I love it when my interests and passions collide in weird ways. Click images for Larger.
I love the not-subtle-at all name of Senator Bullbleep. We can all fill in the bleep, I'm sure... The message here is as relevant today as it was then...the Government can't and won't do anything about inflation, since it causes the problem in the first place with terrible monetary policy. Good stuff. As I continued reading I found a couple more strips with Libertarian appeal:
I have no idea what politics the strip's creator, Russell Myers holds, but these strips have really piqued my interest. The collection also had a series of strips about banks, one about solar energy, and several appearances by a group of Arabs and the power they wield with their oil money, all fairly political stuff in a strip about a witch, a troll, and a buzzard. This book is out of print but is available used. There don't seem to be any contemporary reprint collections of Broom-Hilda available either. I enjoyed the strips, and am going to seek out additional Broom-Hilda collections from this era. I'd like to see if there are any more gems with a pro-liberty message like the ones presented here.