body~politic

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Edge of Panic - Ricochet.com

The Edge of Panic - Ricochet.com: Last night's performance by Biden – capering, giggling, near-maniacal opera buffa – was targeted in one place: a dispirited, demoralized Democratic base on the edge of panic.

(Video) I think this guy knows what he’s talking about when it comes to Socialism « Public Secrets

(Video) I think this guy knows what he’s talking about when it comes to Socialism « Public Secrets


(Video) I think this guy knows what he’s talking about when it comes to Socialism

Born in Budapest in 1944 under the Nazis, he lived under he Soviet boot until he left for America at age 21. Having achieved the American Dream, he’s worried:
He’s not running for office. He’s not part of a super PAC. He’s not lobbying for or against any ballot measures.
But billionaire Thomas Peterffy is spending millions on television ads this election season with one cautionary message: Avoid socialism.
(…)
Peterffy was born in Budapest in 1944 during the deadly Soviet offensive that ended in the capture of Hungary’s capital the following year. From then, the republic remained under communist control until it gained independence in 1989.
The new ad features images of Peterffy as a child in Hungary and the impoverished conditions in his native country.
“As a young boy, I was fantasizing about one day going to America, making a success of myself. The American Dream,” he says.
Peterffy left his country and moved to New York in 1965, where-without knowing English–he got a computer programming job on Wall Street. He later purchased his own seat on the American Stock Exchange in 1977 and, fast forward a few years, found himself the creator of Interactive Brokers, one of the first electronic trading firms.
Forbes Magazine now estimates Peterffy, 68, has a net worth of $4.6 billion.
And then there’s this:
“I’ve paid $1.9 billion in taxes in my lifetime, now I am being told that I am not contributing my fair share?” he said in an interview.
Here’s the ad:



Here’s a difference between the Left and the Right. The Left will look at Mr. Petterfy and see him through the lens of class warfare, the evil profiteer whose money had to come from hurting and exploiting others. How dare he want to keep more of what he earned? The Right, on the other hand, sees someone who came to America and added value to the nation, creating a successful business with the attendant jobs. Creating wealth for himself and, directly or indirectly, others. By engaging in his own pursuit of happiness, he helped others achieve theirs.
Put it another way: A Righty and a Lefty see Mr. Petterfy’s ad on TV. How do they react?
Right: “I want to be that guy!”
Left: “I”m going to get that guy!”
Mr. Petterfy’s ad is running on national cable networks and test markets in some battleground states. I’d say he’s putting his money to good use — and his adopted nation’s service.
via Fausta and Ace, who highlights a facepalm-worthy comment from a reader

Clutch (band) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Clutch (band) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: On May 10, 2011, Clutch reissued their 2004 album Blast Tyrant on Weathermaker Music. The new edition contained a bonus album known as Basket of Eggs that includes unreleased songs as well as acoustic versions of previous hits.[5][6] In its first week of release Blast Tyrant sold close to 3,000 copies nationally, landing it at No. 26 on the Billboard Hard Rock Top 100, more than seven years after the original version debuted at No. 15.

On June 10, 2012, the band released a new single, "Pigtown Blues", on iTunes, backed with an acoustic version of "Motherless Child" (from Strange Cousins from the West).

On August 9, 2012, it was announced via mobile updates, that Clutch had entered pre-production of their as-yet-untitled tenth studio album, due for release in late 2012 or early 2013.

Twitter / Yaro_RT: Government of #Spain promises ...

Twitter / Yaro_RT: Government of #Spain promises ...: Government of #Spain promises more budget cuts next year - a massive blow for the astonishing 25% of the unemployed. Could get messy

Tyrian purple - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tyrian purple - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Tyrian purple (Greek, πορφύρα, porphyra, Latin: purpura), also known as royal purple, imperial purple or imperial dye, is a purple-red natural dye, which is a secretion produced by certain species of predatory sea snails in the family Muricidae, a type of rock snail by the name Murex. This dye was possibly first used by the ancient Phoenicians. The dye was greatly prized in antiquity because the color did not easily fade, but instead became brighter with weathering and sunlight.

Spells (novel) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Spells (novel) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Spells is a fantasy novel by author Aprilynne Pike. It is the sequel to Pike's #1 New York Times best-selling debut, Wings,[3] which introduced readers to Laurel Sewell, a faerie sent among humans to guard the gateway to Avalon.

More 'Fudged' Employment Numbers from Government?

More 'Fudged' Employment Numbers from Government?

The problem, as Zero Hedge notes--and as even the Labor Department admits--the numbers are incomplete: "one large state didn't report some quarterly figures." Conveniently, the drop means that new jobless claims are at the lowest levels since Jan. 2008. Back to where we started, right? Just like in the overall job market, where the Bureau of Labor Statistics "found" 400,000 jobs last month to put President Barack Obama at net zero.
There is nothing happening in the broader economy--which is slumping towards an anemic 1% growth rate--to justify the "new" jobs picture that the government has presented in the past few weeks. Nothing except the addition of new government workers to state and federal payrolls in spite of extreme debt and scarcity, nothing except the expiration of federal unemployment benefits that may have spurred thousands to take part-time jobs.
There is also a long history to revising the jobs numbers. Again, as Zero Hedge points out, news headlines have dramatically over-reported the drop in jobless claims, while subsequent revisions have put the drop slightly below zero (see graph above, where the red line is the actual, post-revision change in job claims, and the blue line is the change as initially reported by the media). In other words, while the reality is a slow recovery, the media over-report bits of good news to create the false impression of a dramatic rebound. No wonder Democrats--who are more trusting of the mainstream media--also tend to believe that the economy is far stronger than it actually is.

Stacey Dash Shocked, Saddened After Twitter Bashing For Supporting Mitt Romney

Stacey Dash Shocked, Saddened After Twitter Bashing For Supporting Mitt Romney

Friday, October 12, 2012

Biden Voted for Something He Said Last Night ‘Has Never Been Done Before’

Biden Voted for Something He Said Last Night ‘Has Never Been Done Before’

Joe Biden Remembers His “Mentor” KKK Senator Robert Byrd

Joe Biden Remembers His “Mentor” KKK Senator Robert Byrd

 

 

Ascent of the A-Word: Assholism, the First Sixty Years - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ascent of the A-Word: Assholism, the First Sixty Years - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Ascent of the A-Word: Assholism, the First Sixty Years is a 2012 book by American linguist Geoffrey Nunberg which analyzes the history of the epithet "asshole".[1] While his account of its origin differs from others', his treatment of its recent history is solid.

egg - Wiktionary

#8. (New Zealand) (pejorative) A foolish or obnoxious person. 

Shut up, you egg!

Jesus Christ the Light that illumines all men | Lamp | Maximus the Confessor -Welcome to The Crossroads Initiative

Jesus Christ the Light that illumines all men | Lamp | Maximus the Confessor -Welcome to The Crossroads Initiative


The Light that Illumines All Men:
Jesus Christ

This excerpt from an inquiry addressed to Thalassius by Saint Masimus the Confessor (Quaest. 63: PG 90, 667-670) is used in the Roman Catholic Divine Office of Readings (liturgy of the hours) for Wednesday of the 28th week in ordinary time with the accompanying biblical reading taken from the prophet Zechariah 3:1-4:14.  Here abbot Maximus comments on the famous phrase from the gospels "no one llights a lamp and puts it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house." 

The lamp set upon the lamp stand is Jesus Christ, the true light from the Father, the light that enlightens every man who comes into the world. In taking our own flesh he has become, and is rightly called, a lamp, for he is the connatural wisdom and word of the Father. He is proclaimed in the Church of God in accordance with orthodox faith, and he is lifted up and resplendent among the nations through the lives of those who live virtuously in observance of the commandments. So he gives light to all in the house (that is, in this world), just as he himself, God the Word, says: No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Clearly he is calling himself the lamp, he who was by nature God, and became flesh according to God's saving purpose. 

     I think the great David understood this when he spoke of the Lord as a lamp, saying:  For God delivers us from the darkness of ignorance and sin, and hence he is greeted as a lamp in Scripture.

     Lamp-like indeed, he alone dispelled the gloom of ignorance and the darkness of evil and became the way of salvation for all men. Through virtue and knowledge, he leads to the Father those who are resolved to walk by him, who is the way of righteousness, in obedience to the divine commandments. He has designated holy Church the lamp stand, over which the word of God sheds light through preaching, and illumines with the rays of truth whoever is in this house which is the world, and fills the minds of all men with divine knowledge.

     This word is most unwilling to be kept under a bushel; it wills to be set in a high place, upon the sublime beauty of the Church. For while the word was hidden under the bushel, that is, under the letter of the law, it deprived all men of eternal light. For then it could not give spiritual contemplation to men striving to strip themselves of a sensuality that is illusory, capable only of deceit, and able to perceive only decadent bodies like their own. But the word wills to be set upon a lamp stand, the Church, where rational worship is offered in the spirit, that it may enlighten all men. For the letter, when it is not spiritually understood, bears a carnal sense only, which restricts its expression and does not allow the real force of what is written to reach the hearer's mind.

     Let us, then, not light the lamp by contemplation and action, only to put it under a bushel - that lamp, I mean, which is the enlightening word of knowledge - lest we be condemned for restricting by the letter the incomprehensible power of wisdom. Rather let us place it upon the lamp stand of holy Church, on the heights of true contemplation, where it may kindle for all men the light of divine teaching.

Pile Of Manure Dumped On An Ohio Democratic Headquarters « CBS Cleveland

Pile Of Manure Dumped On An Ohio Democratic Headquarters « CBS Cleveland





Thursday, October 11, 2012

Video: Unions Fine Members Who Don't Show Support for Elizabeth Warren | The Weekly Standard

Video: Unions Fine Members Who Don't Show Support for Elizabeth Warren | The Weekly Standard

Green-jobs subsidies bust: $21 billion, 28,854 jobs « Hot Air

Green-jobs subsidies bust: $21 billion, 28,854 jobs « Hot Air

Twitter / SaltyBlackBroad: If I win the lottery today, ...

Twitter / SaltyBlackBroad: If I win the lottery today, ...: If I win the lottery today, I'm buying a full tank of gas.

“We are arrant knaves, all. Believe none of us.”– Act III, Scene i « A Little More than Questions, and Less Than Quest

“We are arrant knaves, all. Believe none of us.”– Act III, Scene i « A Little More than Questions, and Less Than Quest

HAWAII FIVE-0 2.20 'Ha'alele' ('Abandoned') | CraveOnline

HAWAII FIVE-0 2.20 'Ha'alele' ('Abandoned') | CraveOnline: 5-0 learns that O'Hara and three other victims gave up their children to St. Martins. Danny and Chin Ho speak with Deacon MacKenna (James Michael Connor) who tells them that the church's caretaker, Frank Pollard took the children in. After spotting rope and razor blades on his desk, the detectives find Pollard (Bill Ogilvie) outside the church and place him under arrest. However, back at the precinct Pollard's alibi about visiting his sick mother at the hospital checks out.

Why I'm Voting for Mitt Romney

Joke Prototypes | Clever Things to Say

Joke Prototypes | Clever Things to Say: Joke Prototypes

Two men approach heaven but are delayed in entering. One of them goes to hell.

A traveling salesman comes to a farmhouse and talks to the farmer. He then is then told either that he is not allowed to have sex with the Farmer’s daughters or that he must. He does.

Why did the inanimate object do something anthropomorphic? Because no one objected!

How many people of a certain classification does it take to screw in a light bulb? More than one.

A woman does an unexpected thing and the bartender tells a patron, “I’d like to see her try that with a curtain.”

Jack Welch: I Was Right About That Strange Jobs Report - WSJ.com

Jack Welch: I Was Right About That Strange Jobs Report - WSJ.com

The economy would need to be growing at breakneck speed for unemployment to drop to 7.8% from 8.3% in the course of two months.

Imagine a country where challenging the ruling authorities—questioning, say, a piece of data released by central headquarters—would result in mobs of administration sympathizers claiming you should feel "embarrassed" and labeling you a fool, or worse.

Related Video

Editorial board member Steve Moore on the good and bad of the jobs report and whether it will help President Obama's campaign.
Soviet Russia perhaps? Communist China? Nope, that would be the United States right now, when a person (like me, for instance) suggests that a certain government datum (like the September unemployment rate of 7.8%) doesn't make sense.
Unfortunately for those who would like me to pipe down, the 7.8% unemployment figure released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) last week is downright implausible. And that's why I made a stink about it.
Before I explain why the number is questionable, though, a few words about where I'm coming from. Contrary to some of the sound-and-fury last week, I do not work for the Mitt Romney campaign. I am definitely not a surrogate. My wife, Suzy, is not associated with the campaign, either. She worked at Bain Consulting (not Bain Capital) right after business school, in 1988 and 1989, and had no contact with Mr. Romney.
The Obama campaign and its supporters, including bigwigs like David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs, along with several cable TV anchors, would like you to believe that BLS data are handled like the gold in Fort Knox, with gun-carrying guards watching their every move, and highly trained, white-gloved super-agents counting and recounting hourly.
Let's get real. The unemployment data reported each month are gathered over a one-week period by census workers, by phone in 70% of the cases, and the rest through home visits. In sum, they try to contact 60,000 households, asking a list of questions and recording the responses.
Some questions allow for unambiguous answers, but others less so. For instance, the range for part-time work falls between one hour and 34 hours a week. So, if an out-of-work accountant tells a census worker, "I got one baby-sitting job this week just to cover my kid's bus fare, but I haven't been able to find anything else," that could be recorded as being employed part-time.
The possibility of subjectivity creeping into the process is so pervasive that the BLS's own "Handbook of Methods" has a full page explaining the limitations of its data, including how non-sampling errors get made, from "misinterpretation of the questions" to "errors made in the estimations of missing data."
Bottom line: To suggest that the input to the BLS data-collection system is precise and bias-free is—well, let's just say, overstated.
Even if the BLS had a perfect process, the context surrounding the 7.8% figure still bears serious skepticism. Consider the following:
In August, the labor-force participation rate in the U.S. dropped to 63.5%, the lowest since September 1981. By definition, fewer people in the workforce leads to better unemployment numbers. That's why the unemployment rate dropped to 8.1% in August from 8.3% in July.
Meanwhile, we're told in the BLS report that in the months of August and September, federal, state and local governments added 602,000 workers to their payrolls, the largest two-month increase in more than 20 years. And the BLS tells us that, overall, 873,000 workers were added in September, the largest one-month increase since 1983, during the booming Reagan recovery.
These three statistics—the labor-force participation rate, the growth in government workers, and overall job growth, all multidecade records achieved over the past two months—have to raise some eyebrows. There were no economists, liberal or conservative, predicting that unemployment in September would drop below 8%.
I know I'm not the only person hearing these numbers and saying, "Really? If all that's true, why are so many people I know still having such a hard time finding work? Why do I keep hearing about local, state and federal cutbacks?"
I sat through business reviews of a dozen companies last week as part of my work in the private sector, and not one reported better results in the third quarter compared with the second quarter. Several stayed about the same, the rest were down slightly.
The economy is not in a free-fall. Oil and gas are strong, automotive is doing well and we seem to be seeing the beginning of a housing comeback. But I doubt many of us know any businessperson who believes the economy is growing at breakneck speed, as it would have to be for unemployment to drop to 7.8% from 8.3% over the course of two months.
The reality is the economy is experiencing a weak recovery. Everything points to that, particularly the overall employment level, which is 143 million people today, compared with 146 million people in 2007.
Now, I realize my tweets about this matter have been somewhat incendiary. In my first tweet, sent the night before the unemployment figure was released, I wrote: "Tomorrow unemployment numbers for Sept. with all the assumptions Labor Department can make..wonder about participation assumption??" The response was a big yawn.
My next tweet, on Oct. 5, the one that got the attention of the Obama campaign and its supporters, read: "Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can't debate so change numbers."
As I said that same evening in an interview on CNN, if I could write that tweet again, I would have added a few question marks at the end, as with my earlier tweet, to make it clear I was raising a question.
But I'm not sorry for the heated debate that ensued. I'm not the first person to question government numbers, and hopefully I won't be the last. Take, for example, one of my chief critics in this go-round, Austan Goolsbee, former chairman of the Obama administration's Council of Economic Advisers. Back in 2003, Mr. Goolsbee himself, commenting on a Bush-era unemployment figure, wrote in a New York Times op-ed: "the government has cooked the books."
The good news is that the current debate has resulted in people giving the whole issue of unemployment data more thought. Moreover, it led to some of the campaign's biggest supporters admitting that the number merited a closer look—and even expressing skepticism. The New York Times in a Sunday editorial, for instance, acknowledged the 7.8% figure is "partly due to a statistical fluke."
The coming election is too important to be decided on a number. Especially when that number seems so wrong.
Mr. Welch was the CEO of General Electric for 21 years and is the founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute at Strayer University.

MICHIGANISTAN: Students at Muslim-dominated ‘Edsel Ford’ High School in Dearborn protest Pastor Terry Jones’ First Amendment right to criticize Islam | BARE NAKED ISLAM

MICHIGANISTAN: Students at Muslim-dominated ‘Edsel Ford’ High School in Dearborn protest Pastor Terry Jones’ First Amendment right to criticize Islam | BARE NAKED ISLAM: We cannot have a ban on free speech

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

squish - Wiktionary

squish - Wiktionary: Noun

squish (plural squishes)

A political moderate (derogatory term used by conservative activists in the 1980s)

20 Ways to Say: "Your Fly Is Open!" without actually saying it

20 Ways to Say: "Your Fly Is Open!" without actually saying it:

20. The cucumber has left the salad.

19. I can see the gun of Navarone.

18. Someone tore down the wall, and your Pink Floyd is hanging out.

17. You've got Windows in your laptop.

16. Sailor Ned's trying to take a little shore leave.

15. Your soldier ain't so unknown now.

14. Quasimodo needs to go back in the tower and tend to his bell.

13. Paging Mr. Johnson... Paging Mr. Johnson...

12. You need to bring your tray table to the upright and locked
position.

11. Your pod bay door is open, Hal.

10. Elvis Junior has LEFT the building!

9. Mini Me is making a break for the escape pod.

8. Ensign Hanes is reporting a hull breach on the lower deck, Sir!

7. The Buick is not all the way in the garage.

6. Dr. Kimble has escaped!

5. You've got your fly set for "Monica" instead of "Hillary."

4. Our next guest is someone who needs no introduction...

3. You've got a security breach at Los Pantalones.

2. I'm talking about Shaft, can you dig it?

AND THE NUMBER ONE WAY TO TELL
SOMEONE HIS FLY IS UNZIPPED...

1. I thought you were crazy; now I see you're nuts!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Ed Driscoll » ‘Obama Gets Left Behind:’ The Preference Cascade Begins to Build

Ed Driscoll » ‘Obama Gets Left Behind:’ The Preference Cascade Begins to Build

The Sword - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Sword - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: In March 2012 it was announced that The Sword had signed a multi-album worldwide deal with New York-based label Razor & Tie, with plans for the fourth album starting with recording in June and a projected late 2012 release.[52] In May the band released the single "Hammer of Heaven", a song originally recorded in 2003 for the Age of Winters demo and later slated to appear on the soundtrack to the film The Avengers.[53] In the run-up to the recording of their next album, the group only played a few shows in 2012, most notably the Metallica-organised festival Orion Music + More in June.[54]

Working with producer J. Robbins, the group recorded the follow-up to Warp Riders at Magpie Cage Studios between June and July 2012; the resulting album, Apocryphon, will be released on October 22, 2012,[55] with a promotional tour starting in North America the following week.[56]

Your right to buy and sell the goods you own may be under assault - due to “copyright.” - AgainstCronyCapitalism.org

Your right to buy and sell the goods you own may be under assault - due to “copyright.” - AgainstCronyCapitalism.org: He bought the books. Does he own them or not?

The publisher, John Wiley and Sons, is asserting that what the entrepreneur did was a violation of copyright. This is a colossal stretch, but if the Supreme Court sides with the company for some reason, it could have devastating impacts on business, especially small and micro business.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Table A-15. Alternative measures of labor underutilization

Table A-15. Alternative measures of labor underutilization

HOUSEHOLD DATA Table A-15. Alternative measures of labor underutilization
[Percent]
Measure Not seasonally adjusted Seasonally adjusted
Sept.
2011
Aug.
2012
Sept.
2012
Sept.
2011
May
2012
June
2012
July
2012
Aug.
2012
Sept.
2012
U-1 Persons unemployed 15 weeks or longer, as a percent of the civilian labor force
5.2 4.3 4.2 5.3 4.6 4.6 4.5 4.4 4.3
U-2 Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs, as a percent of the civilian labor force
5.0 4.4 4.0 5.2 4.5 4.6 4.6 4.5 4.2
U-3 Total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force (official unemployment rate)
8.8 8.2 7.6 9.0 8.2 8.2 8.3 8.1 7.8
U-4 Total unemployed plus discouraged workers, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus discouraged workers
9.4 8.7 8.0 9.6 8.7 8.7 8.8 8.6 8.3
U-5 Total unemployed, plus discouraged workers, plus all other persons marginally attached to the labor force, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force
10.2 9.7 9.0 10.5 9.6 9.7 9.7 9.6 9.3
U-6 Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force
15.7 14.6 14.2 16.4 14.8 14.9 15.0 14.7 14.7

Michelle's ski trip marks 16 Obama vacations | WashingtonExaminer.com

Michelle's ski trip marks 16 Obama vacations | WashingtonExaminer.com: First lady Michelle Obama’s weekend jaunt to Aspen, Colorado for a President’s Day ski holiday with her daughters Sasha and Malia makes the 16th time members of the first family have gone on extended vacations during their three years in office.

Phantom time hypothesis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Phantom time hypothesis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sunday, October 7, 2012

$5 Trillion | Mitt Romney for President

$5 Trillion | Mitt Romney for President: President Obama continues to not tell the truth about Mitt Romney's economic plan even though news outlets and even the Obama campaign say that the claim is not true. President Obama's economic plan is a $4,000 tax increase on the middle class and is one more reason we can't afford four more years of his failed policies.

The unbearable lightness of Slavoj Žižek’s communism

The unbearable lightness of Slavoj Žižek’s communism:
The Year of Dreaming Dangerously
Slavoj Žižek
Verso, 142pp, £7.99
Marxism has always been, since the first collaborations of Marx and Engels, a thoroughgoing critique of capitalist society from the standpoint of a far less developed concept of socialism or communism. In this sense, its premise is a utopian conclusion never yet demonstrated – namely, that there can be a better form of modern society, based on a different regime of property, than one dominated by the accumulation of private capital. No one can in fairness require a detailed picture of this future condition but the vision has to enjoy some minimum plausibility. Otherwise, only a description of capitalism can be offered and some suggestions for reform but no fundamental critique.
Since the 1970s – and especially since 1991 – perhaps the greatest challenge for Marxism has been to keep alive the belief in the possibility of a superior future society. The belief was trampled almost to extinction by miscarried Third World revolutions, capitalist transformation in China, the capitulations of European socialist parties, Soviet collapse and the ostensible triumph of liberal capitalism.
The scepticism that replaced it was twofold. The would-be revolutionary left seemed to possess neither a serious strategy for the conquest of power nor a programme to implement, should power be won. In this context, the maximalism of the left at its high-water marks could only ebb into a kind of survivalist minimalism. The pith of minimalism lay in the alter-globalisation slogan: “Another world is possible.” Its most eloquent expression may have been Fredric Jameson’s book on Utopia, Archaeologies of the Future (2005), which sought to preserve the concept of a break with capitalism in conditions under which neither the bridge across the chasm nor the institutions lying on the other side could be imagined.
These are the reduced circumstances in which the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek has been, for at least the past dozen years or so, the world’s best-known Marxist thinker. With gra­phomaniacal productivity and postmodern range, Žižek writes mainly about contemporary ideology and culture in the broad sense that covers everything from an animated Hollywood blockbuster such as Kung Fu Panda to the forbidding ontology of Alain Badiou. Corrugated with dialectical reversals and seeming at times to consist exclusively of digressions, Žižek’s writing is often described, with some justice, as elusive. Even so, his basic analysis of the end-of-history ideology that swept the world after 1991 has been simple enough.
Žižek ventriloquised the mindset in First as Tragedy, Then as Farce (2009), one of his many entertaining, funny and shamelessly repetitive books: “Capitalism is a system which has no philosophical pretensions . . . The only thing it says is: ‘Well, this functions.’ And if people want to live better, it is preferable to use this mechanism, because it functions.” As he went on to argue in his own voice, “The very notion of capitalism as a neutral social mechanism is ideology (even utopian ideology) at its purest.” In fact, neoliberal “post-ideology” resembled nothing so much as a caricature of Marxist historical determinism. It merely substituted liberal capitalism for communism in claiming that here we beheld the final form of human society, as legitimated by science – in this case, socio­biology and neoclassical economics – and as certified on the proving ground of history.
Such a view was often declared after the cold war in a triumphalist spirit. Lately, with the outbreak, still uncontained, of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, it has persisted in a more resigned key. In his latest book, Žižek quotes David Simon, creator, in the television epic The Wire, of as damning a portrait of class-riven America as any Marxist could wish for: “I accept that [capitalism] is the only viable way to generate wealth on a wide scale.”
Žižek not only rejects this nearly unanimous conclusion but discerns in unexpected places – whether in the chauvinist eruptions of the political right or the low-grade commercial output of US cinema – the abiding wish, however disfigured and denied, for a “radical emancipatory politics”. In recent years, Žižek’s name for such a politics has been simply “communism”. He has carried out this dual operation – against the supposed necessity of capitalism, in favour of the renewed possibility of com­munism – by invoking a remarkable roster of thinkers. Hegelian in philosophy, Marxist in economics, Leninist in politics and an exponent of Jacques Lacan’s particularly baroque strain of psychoanalysis, Žižek combined these ways of thinking at a time when all of them separately, let alone together, had fallen into disrepute. He knew the reaction this courted, as can be seen in a line from In Defence of Lost Causes (2008): “What should have been dead, disposed of, thoroughly discredited, is returning with a vengeance.” Nor did this foul-mouthed wise guy, with an eastern bloc accent out of Central Casting, baiting his detractors with talk of “good old Soviet times” and plucking at his black T-shirt with Tourettic insistence, make himself much more presentable to conventional opinion as a personality.
For many fellow leftists, it has been both a winning performance and a vexing one. Žižek isn’t exactly to blame for his press, much less for the failure of the media to pay similar attention to other left-wing thinkers. Even so, his intellectual celebrity has seemed a symptom of the very intellectual impasse he has diagnosed. A ruthless criticism of capitalism, it turned out, could still be contemplated outside the academy – but only on condition that it appear as the work of a jester or provocateur. In this way, the figure of Žižek seemed to represent, encouragingly, the lifting of the post-cold-war embargo on radical thought and at the same time, discouragingly, its reimposition.
A similar ambiguity attaches to The Year of Dreaming Dangerously, a brief consideration of several of the revolts and convulsions of 2011, from the Arab spring and Anders Behring Breivik’s massacre in Norway to the London riots and Occupy Wall Street in the US. Did last year’s dreams, with their conscious or unconscious emancipatory content, pose a danger to contemporary capitalism or mainly to the dreamers themselves? In other words, did they prefigure a revolutionary challenge to the system or merely demonstrate that such an awakening remains all but inconceivable?
The book begins with Zizek’s general presentation of a capitalism marked by “the long-term trend of shifting from profits to rents”, “the much stronger structural role of unemployment” and the rise of a ruling class defined more by high salaries than direct capital income. Only the last of these features, however, is integrated into Žižek’s explanation of political rebellion: some but not all protesters are recent graduates angry that a college degree no longer assures them a good salary. More relevant to the rest of The Year of Dreaming Dangerously is Žižek’s contention that capitalism can’t be reformed. He disdains the idea, characteristic of “the archetypal left-liberal European moron”, that we need “a new political party that will return to the good old principles” and “regulate the banks and control financial excesses, guarantee free universal health care and education, etc, etc”.
He proceeds to examine last year’s rebellions not chronologically but in order, it seems, of increasing approximation to his own politics. For Žižek, the xenophobic Breivik’s intellectual error (not to speak of his obvious moral catastrophe) is to misunderstand his own ideology: genuine fidelity to Europe’s heritage of Christian universalism would seek to redeem, for Muslim immigrants as well as all others, the “legacy of radical and universal emancipation”.
Next, Žižek discusses the London riots. These illustrate not an inversion of universalism but a post-ideology devoid of transpersonal meaning; looters were, like other capitalist subjects, merely grabbing what they could. “One danger,” Žižek writes, “is that religion will come to fill this void and restore meaning.”
Precisely this danger has already been realised in much of the Muslim world. Yet, in Žižek’s account, the popular overthrow of Arab autocracies, even when couched in Islamist terms, contained a “radically emancipatory core” to which the secular left should remain “unconditionally faithful”.
Finally, in a chapter that revises a talk given before the Occupy encampment in Lower Man­hattan, Žižek explains something of what he takes radical emancipation to mean. He praises Occupy for “two basic insights”. The first is that the principal political problem is capitalism “as such, not any particular corrupt form of it”. The second is that “the contemporary form of representative multiparty democracy” can’t address the problem; therefore, “Democracy has to reinvented.” My sense, as a participant in several Occupy demonstrations and one of last’s years affiliated “working groups”, is that disenchantment with representative democracy, at least in its Ame­rican travesty, does pervade the movement. The belief that capitalism can and should be surmounted, on the other hand, is hardly unknown among Occupiers but doesn’t seem general either.
Žižek sees in various popular discontents the chauvinist misprision, the consumerist absence, the communalist disguise or the anti-capitalist incipience of his own politics. Radical politics at its most basic consists of two elements: strategy and programme or how to get power and what to do with it. Žižek’s programme is straightforward: the replacement of capitalism by communism. It’s not necessary to disclaim this ambition, however, to see that his concept of capitalism is inadequately specified and his notion of communism barely articulated at all.
In his brief against reformism, Žižek scorns the idea that capitalism can be regulated “so that it serves the larger goals of global welfare and justice . . . accepting that markets have their own demands which should be respected”. This suggests that he has confused the existence of markets with that of capitalism. The same goes for Žižek’s rudimentary positive notion of communism. In Living in the End Times (2010), he describes a future society in which the “exchange of products” would give way to “a direct social exchange of activities”. This seems to imply that individuals would no longer come by goods and services through market exchange but instead in some immediate, “social” way, obviating the use of money.
Markets long predate capitalism. Capitalism is better understood as designating a society that subordinates all processes – notably the metabolism between humanity and nature, the production and distribution of goods and services and the function and composition of government – to the private accumulation of capital. As for communism, perhaps it goes without saying, since Žižek doesn’t say so, that it means eliminating private capital on any large scale and realising the Marxist goal of common ownership of the means of production. Yet would productive enterprises be owned by those who worked for them or by society at large – or somehow jointly between the two groups? Žižek doesn’t ask, let alone answer, such questions.
Imagine, in any case, a society whose productive assets are, in one way or another, the property, as Marx said, of “the associated producers”. Such a society might also entail, let’s say, strict depletion quotas for both renewable and non-renewable natural resources; welfare guarantees not only for workers but for people too young, old or ill to work; and democratic bodies, from the level of the enterprise and locality up to that of the state, wherever it hadn’t withered away. These institutions might or might not be complemented by the market. For now, however, to rule markets out of any desirable future while saying next to nothing else about its institutional complexion is to reproduce the intellectual blockage that Žižek and others ascribe to a capitalism that simply can’t imagine how another kind of society might “function”.
In The Year of Dreaming Dangerously, even the “direct exchange of activities” has vanished. Here Žižek counsels refusing capitalism from the point of view of “a communism absconditus” without worldly instantiation or conceptual content. He defends this featureless vision by warning, with compact incoherence, against “the temptation of determinist planning”: determinism refers to inevitability, while planning implies voluntarism. Yet it requires no creed of either historical predestination or revolutionary infallibility to hazard an idea, presumably subject to revision both before and after the rupture with capitalism, of a better society. Whether such a hypothesis is called communist is a secondary question; as the poet (and revolutionary) John Milton put it in another context: “The meaning, not the name I call.” At the moment, Žižek’s communism is a heavy name very light on meaning.
His strategic notions, meanwhile, are various and incompatible. At times, as in his advice to Occupy, he seems to advocate the accomplishment of revolution through democracy, though he rejects parliamentary democracy for a “reinvented” kind otherwise undescribed. More often he favours a sort of Leninist quietism, according to which “those who refuse to change anything are effectively the agents of true change”: withdrawal from the system will speed its collapse. Yet he allows that: “A strategically well-placed, precise, ‘moderate’ demand can trigger a global transformation.” The options at least display Žižek’s dialectical facility. Apparent passivity can be the highest form of activity; then again, moderation can have immoderate effects.
Despite this last caveat, Žižek is most often an enemy of reform. However, the experience of western societies since the Second World War suggests that the old opposition between reformism and revolution is no longer useful. The heyday of the welfare state was accompanied, after all, by far more worker and student radicalisation than the era of neoliberalism that followed it, which demoralised radicals and reformers alike.
Projects of reform, in other words, have tended to nourish hopes of revolution and vice versa. In present circumstances, the achievement of reforms might well pave, rather than bar, the way to a new society, not to mention relieving some of the human misery to be endured before the advent of the communist millennium. If, on the other hand, the system were to prove incapable of incorporating any serious reforms, this would demonstrate the need for revolution that Žižek merely asserts.
This perspective, in which reform and revolution are allied, can no doubt be intelligently contested. But the time is past for the left to content itself with the blank proposition that another world is possible. What traits, other than its otherness, would such a world possess? As liberal capitalism saps its ecological foundations, defaults on its economic promises and forfeits its political legitimacy, another world is becoming inevitable. Which one do we want? And can we make this one into that one before it’s too late?
Žižek’s work at its best has shown why those questions have been so difficult even to formulate in “the desert of post-ideology”. His latest book, however, does not interrupt the prospect of the lone and level sands.
Benjamin Kunkel is a founding co-editor of n+1 and the author of a novel, “Indecision” (Picador, £7.99)

1,035,000: Construction Jobs Lost Under Obama | CNSNews.com

1,035,000: Construction Jobs Lost Under Obama | CNSNews.com

When President Barack Obama signed his economic stimulus legislation on Feb. 17, 2009, he said that one impact of the act would be to create jobs for 400,000 people building and rebuilding the nation's infrastructure.
But despite a price tag that the Congressional Budget Office now says was $833 billion, the economic stimulus of February 2009 did not create 400,000 new construction jobs.
In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are now 1,035,000 fewer construction jobs in the United States than there were in January 2009, when Obama was inaugurated, and 925,000 less than in February 2009 when Obama signed his stimulus act.
The decline in construction jobs in the United States did not start when President Obama took office, but the $833 billion stimulus act he pushed through Congress and signed did not stop or reverse that decline.
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research--on which Obama's former top economic adviser Christina Romer serves--says that the last recession ended in June 2009. Since then, according to BLS, America has lost 484,000 construction jobs.
In September 2012, according to BLS, 5,523,000 Americans had jobs in the construction industry. That is down from 6,558,000 in January 2009, when Obama took office; it is down from6,448,000 in February 2009, when Obama signed the $833 billion stimulus; it is down from 6,007,000 when the recession ended in June 2009; and it is down from 5,564,000 from January of this year, when Obama started the fourth year of his presidential term.
When Obama signed the stimulus, he said it would put 400,000 to work rebuilding and expanding infrastructure.
"Because we know we can't build our economic future on the transportation and information networks of the past, we are remaking the American landscape with the largest new investment in our nation's infrastructure since Eisenhower built an Interstate Highway System in the 1950s," Obama told a crowd in Denver, Colo., where he signed the bill.
"Because of this investment," he said, "nearly 400,000 men and women will go to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, repairing our faulty dams and levees, bringing critical broadband connections to businesses and homes in nearly every community in America, upgrading mass transit, building high-speed rail lines that will improve travel and commerce throughout our nation."
Construction jobs in the United States started declining before Obama entered office, having peaked at 7,726,000 in April 2006. By January 2009, when Obama was inaugurated, that had declined by 1,168,000 to 6,558,000. Since then, as noted, it has declined an additional 1,035,000 to the current level of 5,523,000.

National Right to Work Committee

National Right to Work Committee

The Archers of Ravenwood

The Archers of Ravenwood

Looking Left, Thinking Right ? - The Naked Scientists 2005.09.14

Looking Left, Thinking Right ? - The Naked Scientists 2005.09.14

Steven Chu - lower gas prices not goal

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