Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Run to the Roar (Part I)*

A high-flying passenger jet with condensation trail appears to clip the gibbous Moon in a blue daytime sky.

*Yes, Run to the Roar was the title of a book by the late Tammy Faye Bakker Messner and I used it once on my old Arcturus blog in 2006. The title has been used since by others. What a strange cover picture she chose.

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I had intended to post extended excerpts of two recent columns by pilot and Salon.com contributor Patrick Smith, including one of his more standard but always interesting pieces on the nuts and bolts of American aviation and the other a less characteristic, literary quality piece about his travels to Africa -- Dakar, Senegal and other places in French West Africa -- and the resulting ruminations on how the world seems to be falling apart.

The first is You wouldn't believe how long my flight was! and the second one is Out of Africa.

I will try to post excepts of these in my next entry.

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Flying above cumulus congestus clouds somewhere near Jamaica. 

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Now, however, I want to post part of a new Salon piece by the inestimable Michael Lind mulling over the question why does the Republican Party -- with its updated Jacksonian populist base -- usually nominate members of the oligarchical rentier overclass* for its presidential candidates (and why they usually win).

*This is the class with which the brilliant legal mind realizing corporate synergies nihilistic & solipsistic legal servant and corporate yes man, Wall-P, is endlessly impressed.

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However, before continuing, let me just get one item out of the way ...

I took down -- or rather, saved into draft until I decide whether to repost or delete it -- the entry about Toucan Sam that I posted Saturday morning.

In brief, it was not my intention to upset him, which I must have done since he removed his two VIMEO videos. I still have to ask why one would post such videos under one's own full name if one did not want attention. And wearing a shirt that reads "No one cares about your blog" probably originated as some inside joke about / dig at me. I don't think that's egocentric to say that. 

Look, all I did was take some screenshot images and make a few sarcastic comments. I thought it was pretty funny and creative, but I didn't mean to upset his 28-year old A-List urban gay male sensibilities.

My apologies.

Oh, and here again we see Captain Sirius ("Like, oh mawh Gawd, full speed ahead!") commanding his great metaphorical vessel the H.M.S. Relation-SHIP.

Seriously, though, this is an image of the badly grounded / half-capsized Costa Concordia cruise ship that killed at least 11 people with 23 still missing. And here is an article complete with transcript describing how an Italian Coast Guard captain -- Gregorio De Falco -- was screaming at the cruise ship's captain -- Francesco Schettino, who fled the ship earlier, and is now under house arrest and charged with multiple counts of manslaughter -- to get back on board and help in the rescue.

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GOP Rentier Class Corporate Oligarchs "R" Us ...


Michael Lind ponders the question (link embedded below):


Key excerpts (with bolded emphasis added in places) ...

"... In the 19th century, the Republican Party was founded by Abraham Lincoln and others, devoted to the Henry Clay's idea of the 'self-made man.' But in spite of conservative rhetoric about small business, today's Republican economic orthodoxy does not promote the interests of entrepreneurs or industrial capitalism.

"Instead, it promotes the economic interests of rentiers -- families with inherited wealth and Wall Street investors -- the kind of people who make money in their sleep, in the words of the 19th-century classical liberal economist J.S. Mill, who despised them.


"The GOP crusade to abolish the estate tax -- the 'death tax' -- does nothing for American business in general, even as it chiefly benefits the trust fund babies of a few super-rich families. A lower tax rate for capital gains than for earned income means that the idle rich, and the hedge fund managers who manage their assets and are taxed at the capital gains rate, pay a much lower tax rate on their income than the majority of Americans who depend on wages or professional fees for a living. Self-made entrepreneurs? Hardly.


"Nor does Republicanomics serve the interests of captains of industry. If the Republican economic plan were drafted by CEOs of American-based companies that actually make things, rather than rearrange money, it would not necessarily please liberals but it would bear little resemblance to the rentier-friendly plans pushed by the Wall Street right. The emphasis would be on a permanent R&D tax credit, lower corporate taxes, depreciation allowances, public infrastructure investment, policies to lower the costs of energy and other inputs, dollar devaluation and other policies to promote the inshoring of production in America. Genuine captains of industry would not assign priority to estate tax relief and low capital gains taxes for the benefit of the trust fund set like the Bushes and Romneys.


"The conclusion is inescapable. The Republican Party is not really a pro-business party at all. It is a pro-hereditary wealth party. Its platform serves the interests of those few Americans who are born into wealth and seek to preserve their fortunes, not those who start new companies or invent new technologies. Naturally, therefore, the party's presidential candidates are chosen nowadays from among the pedigreed, hereditary social elite who are the chief beneficiaries of its policies.

Please note that I altered the name of this JPEG image showing income by groups since 1979 to reflect the ending year of 2007, not 2011 as I originally posted it. In other words, it shows income gains by income group through the top of the 2007 housing bubble -- before the 2008 crash and everything since that time.

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"How is it, then, that the party of old money has succeeded in winning the vote of the white working class since Nixon and Reagan? To understand how this could occur, we need only look at American history.

Ha ha

"In the 19th century the Jacksonian coalition, then identified with the Democrats beginning with Andrew Jackson, was, like the Republican Party today, based on an alliance of white Southerners and Southwesterners with working-class whites in the North. Like today's neo-Jacksonian Republicans, the original Jacksonians posed as the champions of the common man, denouncing government tyranny and privilege.

"But Jacksonian common-man rhetoric was a camouflage for the interests of the most parasitic rentier elite in American history: the Southern slaveowners, including Andrew Jackson himself. The rentiers of the plantation South were allied with Northern crony capitalists -- businessmen and bankers who sought to loot the public domain by means of what today would be called 'privatization.'

"That is why the Jackson administration destroyed the Bank of the United States, a quasi-public agency that was the largest corporation in the country, and distributed its financial assets to 'pet banks' allied with Jackson and his cronies. The modern equivalent would be the privatization of Social Security and Medicare and the diversion of their vast revenues into private hands, which, of course, is the centerpiece of the Republican economic agenda for America.


"Old or new, Jacksonianism has always combined the pretense of egalitarian rebellion against privilege with the reality of domination by upper-class rentiers and crony capitalists. In the 21st century as in the 19th, the Jacksonian oligarchs divert the attention of their yeoman followers from what is going on by means of military jingoism (Jackson bellowed at France, today's Republicans threaten Iran).


"Central to the Jacksonian tradition is the exploitation of paranoid fears of federal tyranny, combined with dark undercurrents of racism (witness Ron Paul's recent denunciation of the Civil Rights Act and the blacks-on-welfare trope cynically deployed by Gingrich and Santorum).

"Can the Jacksonian trick of enlisting the white working class in the service of hereditary wealth and crony capitalism work again? Why not? It has worked before."

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OK, that's all for now. Oh, yes ...

Happy 90th Birthday, Betty White!


I watched the tribute to her last night on NBC at Larry's Lounge last night, and then I hurriedly walked home and alternatingly watched the marathon reruns of The Golden Girls on Hallmark and We TV channels.

Here is a nice video summary of YouTube clips of some highlights of White's 50+ year career on the The Los Angeles Times website.

--Regulus

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