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Interesting Reddit Group: r/LateStageCapitalism

December 30, 2016 5 comments

Some time ago, I came across an interesting Reddit group about the ongoing social, moral and ideological decay inherent to unrestrained capitalism- but more specifically its currently popular neoliberal incarnation. It contains a lot of interesting posts and links to contemporary examples of the commodification and marketing of services and things that no society with a desire to survive should allow to be commodified or marketed. Posts in the group also seem to have a strong focus on the need to break the current socio-economic status quo and create a more equitable and less fucked-up world.

Here is the link: Capitalism in Decay

Enjoy! Comments?

The Democratic Party, in its Current Form, has No Worthwhile Future: 3

December 30, 2016 6 comments

In a previous (and second) post of this series, I wrote about the largely unspoken reasons underlying the inability and unwillingness of establishment democrats to change their political strategy and choice of electoral candidates. I made a case that the “managed” version of democracy (actually an illusion of democratic legitimacy) which was prevalent in western countries over the previous 40 years has now experienced irreversible systematic failure. The real question, then, is “when” (not “if”) the current status quo will implode.

To be clear, I am not implying that this hollow and rotten edifice will come down tumbling in the near future. It is, in fact, unlikely to fail over the next few months or even the few (say.. 2-4) years. I am merely pointing out that the current setup has demonstrated its inability to maintain the status quo which perpetuates its own existence. The exact sequence of events that will trigger its final implosion are still a matter of chance. My guess is that they will unfold over a time-span of the next 2-12 years, with my best guesstimate being 3-7 years. But that is a topic for a future post or series.

Readers might recall that my previous two posts in the current series were about the numerous systemic failures of the democratic party establishment over previous 40 years. As they might also recall, these failures have become especially obvious over the last decade. But are establishment democrats the only group responsible for their own slow motion destruction and increasing irrelevance? Have other identifiable groups contributed to, or accelerated, the pace of destruction and loss of relevance for democrats? Well.. as much as I would like to assign all blame for their (own) destruction on establishment democrats, it is clear that they had lots of external help.

The rest of this post is about one external group, which more than any other, has facilitated the ongoing slow motion destruction of the democratic party. To better understand what I am going to say next, ask yourself a simple question: how can any political party, as well-funded as it might be, keep on winning elections at any level of government if it cannot get enough people to vote for it? In other words- tribal minded voters who will loyally vote for a given political party, no matter what, are crucial to the continued survival of that party. This dependence on a core of enthusiastic and tribal minded voters is especially important for political parties in stage-managed “democracies” such as USA.

You might have noticed that party primaries in USA tend to favor candidates who can fake fidelity to the most extreme version of what their most loyal and tribal minded voters want to hear. That is why republican primaries (at all levels of government) have traditionally been dominated by candidates who profess extreme religiosity, want to eliminate income taxes, cut “deficit spending”, expand the military-industrial and prison-surveillance-industrial complex, support racist incarceration policies and want to restrict the right of women to get abortions. Similarly, democratic primaries have historically been dominated by candidates who pretend to profess fidelity to ideals such as defending and expanding credentialism, promoting and expanding rule by technocrats, maintaining the economic status quo, paying lip service to racial equality and pretending to support expanded access to better education, healthcare etc.

In other words- beyond promoting the interests of their big money donors, candidates of any political party are most beholden to issues that animate their most loyal and tribal minded voters. And this brings us to the next question- what kind of person reliably votes for democratic candidates in party primaries? As it turns out, most of these super loyal democratic voters fall into one of two major categories. One category consists of middle-aged and elderly black women who live in predominantly urban or black-majority neighborhoods. Voters in this particular category are also promptly forgotten and ignored by establishment democrats after each election season.

The other reliably enthusiastic category of democratic voters consists of the professional (and wannabe professional) class- and they have carry more clout with the party establishment than black women. This category of voters is also an important secondary source of campaign funds in addition to providing the bulk of their electoral campaign volunteers. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the policies of establishment democrats, beyond those required by the big money financiers, are mostly driven by the concerns and needs of their professional (and wannabe professional) class supporters- who have become increasingly concentrated in a few coastal states and major metropolitan areas.

The willingness of the democratic establishment to promote ideas such as gun control, transgender bathrooms, even more credentialism, “free trade” policies, increased immigration, austerity and policy wonkism is largely due to their desire to satisfy their professional (and wannabe professional) class voters. The desire to maintain support of this particular category of voters is also behind the reluctance of establishment democrats to support ideas such as increasing the minimum wage, reducing immigration and job outsourcing, reducing growing economic inequality, investing in infrastructure development, reducing the costs of housing, education and healthcare etc. You get the picture..

But why is reliable support of professional (and wannabe professional) class so harmful to the future electoral prospects of the democratic party? And why did such support apparently not hurt them in past elections?

Well.. for starters, it has hurt them in the past. The loss of a majority in the house after almost fifty years in 1994, Gore losing the electoral college to Bush in the 2000 election, Kerry losing to Bush in 2004, the loss of a majority of state legislatures and governorships by democrats (between 2008-2016) in addition to their loss of majorities in the house (in 2010) and senate (2014) during that same time period owe a lot to major policy positions of establishment democrats and the type of candidates chosen in party primaries. I should add that HRC, who was the dream candidate of this voter class, lost the 2016 presidential election to Trump.

But it gets worse.. Establishment democrats have responded to these electoral setbacks by doubling down on widely unpopular policy positions favored by the professional (and wannabe professional) class. While there is certainly an element of ego in not admitting to screwing up, I believe that maintaining the continued allegiance of this voter class also plays a role in democrats maintaining their current course. It is not exactly a secret that winning elections without much effort in certain populous and highly urbanized states such as CA, NY and MA requires democrats to promote the beliefs and concerns of this professional (and wannabe professional) class.

To make a long story short- the 2008 financial crisis and it’s still ongoing aftermath has made it hard for democrats to win elections in non-coastal and non-metropolitan areas of the country. The majority of eligible voters in most parts of USA don’t want to vote for them or prefer the other party. It seems that the whole ‘socially liberal + fiscally conservative republican-lite’ shtick is no longer capable of convincing enough people to vote for them. Even worse, these electoral loses have made democrats even more dependent on continued electoral victories in coastal states and major metropolitan areas. In other words, trying to keep this particular class of loyal voters has forced establishment democrats to double down on the very policy positions and type of candidates responsible for their continued electoral losses in the rest of USA.

What do you think? Comments?

The Democratic Party, in its Current Form, has No Worthwhile Future: 2

December 28, 2016 6 comments

In the previous post of this series, I had written about how the democratic party establishment plus its major supporters and financiers have been thrown in total disarray by the surprising (to them) election of Donald Trump. It seems that most of them are still in deep denial about the combination of factors and trends which led to the humiliating defeat of their chosen candidate in the 2016 presidential election. Even more troubling, is their almost complete unwillingness to analyse and act upon factors behind the slow-motion electoral rout of their party at multiple levels of government throughout the entire country. While the democratic establishment and its flunkies have put forth a number of reasons for their massive electoral losses at both the federal and state levels, it is clear that they are trying to avoid the proverbial elephant in the room- low turnout of voters for their candidates.

So why is the democratic establishment so unwilling to confront the real reasons behind low voter turnout for their candidates? Why are democrats so obsessed with talking about various voter suppression laws passed by republicans which have, at best, a marginal effect on the ultimate outcome? Why are they unwilling to address the far higher numbers and percentages of eligible voters who choose to not vote in any election? Would it not make sense to increase the low turnout among working class voters- who tend to vote for democratic candidates? Furthermore, why have democratic politicians been rather unwilling to actually pass legislation which would increase electoral turnout (for example- by making voting easier and more convenient) when they had the ability to do so. Why are establishment democrats obsessed with who votes for them, rather than how many cast their votes for them?

Well.. it comes down to one the conspicuously unsaid but fundamental precepts of the neoliberal worldview that is the official ideology of both major parties in USA and indeed all major political parties in countries of the so-called “democratic west”. Neoliberalism works only as long it operates in a command-control type of socio-economic-legal environment. In other words, neoliberalism cannot function in anything approaching a functional democratic socio-economic-legal environment. Now, this inherent contradiction poses a peculiar problem for all those supposedly democratic countries in the “west”. How can the government and elites in such countries retain the veneer of democratic legitimacy while continuing to act in an undemocratic and authoritarian manner? For almost 40 years, elected officials from all major political countries in the so-called “democratic” west have addressed this contradiction by increasing levels of voter suppression by consciously, and unconsciously, discouraging them from voting.

Ever wondered the rates of voter participation have kept on dropping in almost every single “democratic” western country over the last 40 years? Why are so many people, especially in younger age groups, not interested in voting? Perhaps most tellingly, why are the majority of political parties in these countries not concerned about this progressive decline? Why do they almost never do anything to address this issue beyond paying lip-service to it near election time? If you ask people who do not vote about the reasons behind their decision- they will tell you, almost to the last person, that they do not believe that their vote makes a difference. If you dig down a bit further, they will tell you they do not believe (with good reason) that their elected representatives will ever legislate in their interests.

A significant percentage of people in the supposedly “democratic” west have come to the realization that their elected representatives are not answerable to those who elected them. Even worse, every conventional political party in countries as (allegedly) diverse as USA, UK, France and Sweden is utterly beholden to elites- especially of the financial and managerial type. For a long time (late 1970s- 2012?) there was no real alternative for the rapidly rising percentage of people who were unhappy with the official range of choices for political representation. The elected representatives of conventional political parties were, however, quite happy with this situation as it allowed them to maintain the veneer of democratic legitimacy while they were servicing their moneyed elite masters. It is worth mentioning that this situation was tenable for so long largely because inertia kept covering up (if somewhat incompletely) the growing numbers of cracks in the system. Then 2008 happened..

Sophistic CONmen (academics from “famous” universities) and other assorted public “intellectuals” want people to believe that the 2008 financial crisis was the direct initiator for our current era of political instability. I would argue otherwise. The financial crisis of 2008 was, if anything, the end of an era. More specifically, it marked the end of an era marked by widespread public support for the neoliberal worldview. Prior to 2008 a majority of people in the west were willing to believe that the neoliberal way of doing things might, one day, let them become part of elite or at least the upper-middle class. The financial crisis of 2008 and subsequent establishment reactions to it destroyed the last vestige of hope that kept people from challenging the increasingly disconnected and authoritarian nature of their “democratically elected” governments.

I would argue that the response and reactions of credentialed “experts” and elected officials to the 2008 crisis between 2009 and 2012, rather than the actual event, heralded the current era of political instability. The resurgence of hard leftist and populist right-wing parties in western European countries, the Brexit vote in 2016 and the election of Trump in 2016 are therefore responses to exposure of the almost complete incompetence of the conventional political establishment in those countries. It does not help that all conventional political parties in these countries are almost totally controlled by moneyed elites. The aftermath of the 2008 crisis also reopened supposedly settled questions such as the inevitability, let alone the desirability, of “free trade” and “internationalism”. In short, it made many once respectable ideas and their promoters people look like greedy tools and confabulating idiots.

But what does any of the stuff I talked about in the preceding paragraphs have to do with the future of the democratic party in USA and its inability to increase voters turnout for its candidates? As it turns out.. a lot!

The democratic party in the USA, like its republican counterpart, is a conventional political party full of politicians and advisers who cannot imagine a world that is not based in neoliberalism. Consequently they will do anything and everything in their power to maintain the status quo- even if doing so destroys them in the end. That is why the democrats keep blaming everybody except HRC and themselves for their shitty performance in the most recent election cycles. You might have noticed that even an electoral defeat as humiliating as the one dealt to them in 2016 has not resulted in any worthwhile changes in their focus, overall strategy and leadership. They have, if anything, doubled down on all their pre- Nov 8 positions and will make themselves irrelevant in the near future- at least in their current form. I predict that the republicans will also suffer the same fate once they become the incumbent (and largely unopposed) party at all levels of the federal government.

Establishment democrats are not, and were never really, interested in raising general voter turnout for their candidates because that would result in the selection and election of candidates who were not beholden to their moneyed elite patrons. That is a reason that establishment democrats punch left, rather than right. That is why HRC was far more interested in getting the votes of suburban white republican women than poor working class whites. It was always about finding enough voters who were willing to vote for perpetuating neoliberal agendas. Establishment democrats don’t hate working class whites because the later might be racist. They hate them because getting their votes requires making and keeping some populist promises. Establishment democrats love black voters because getting their votes has (at least until now) not required them to make and keep any populist promises. Similarly they love hispanic voters because getting their votes does not require them to promise anything that is not on a neoliberal checklist.

The preference of establishment democrats for getting votes by appealing to identity politics, rather than class politics, should therefore be seen as part of a strategy to win elections without making promises which might contradict the neoliberal agenda. While they have had some success with this general strategy in past elections (especially in 2008 and 2012), it is clear that it is not working- inspite of demographic trends which were supposed to make it even more successful. As it turns out, an increasing number of people are no longer interested in voting for candidates who have no desire (or ability) to improve their lives. However the magnitude of institutional inertia in the democratic establishment is still too high for it to make the necessary strategy and personal changes necessary to win in 2020, let alone 2018. I expect them to double, triple and quadruple down on their positions and ride their hobby horses into electoral irrelevancy. But don’t worry.. establishment republicans will join them in that quest within 2-4 years.

What do you think? Comments?

George Michael : Outside (1998)

December 25, 2016 Leave a comment

Multiple news outlets (link 1, link 2) are reporting that the well-known singer, songwriter and record producer George Michael died sometime today (or yesterday) at his home in UK. From what I have read so far, it seems that his death was unexpected and not due to a terminal illness.

While he had a long and quite successful career, his most universally known works (especially music videos) were produced between 1987 and 1999. He was also producing some pretty good stuff during the previous few years.

Here is what I consider to be his best music video- and I am guessing most of you know about the incident which inspired it.

And here is a pretty good virtual remake of that music video using GTA 5.

Enjoy! Comments?

NSFW Links: Dec 25, 2016

December 25, 2016 Leave a comment

These links are NSFW.

Shower Duo Cuties: Dec 25, 2016 – Pairs of nubile cuties under the shower.

Doggystyled Amateur Cuties: Dec 25, 2016 – Amateur cuties taking it.. doggystyle.

Enjoy! Comments?

PS: Will post something more intellectual later today.

Categories: Uncategorized

Interesting 1970s Music Video: Michael Zager Band – Let’s All Chant

December 23, 2016 Leave a comment

A few weeks ago, I came across this.. well.. peculiar music video from the late 1970s. It seems that a fairly well-known music guy from that era named Michael Zager wrote the song in question. I am still not sure who was responsible for the accompanying music video.. but it is certainly interesting.

Enjoy! Comments?

Categories: LOL, Music Video, YouTube

NSFW Links: Dec 20, 2016

December 20, 2016 Leave a comment

These links are NSFW.

Nubile Selfies: Dec 20, 2016 – Amateur nubile cuties taking selfies.

Nubile Cuties: Dec 20, 2016 – Casual pics of nubile amateur cuties.

Enjoy! Comments?

Categories: Uncategorized