Monday, July 29, 2019

Terror in the Skies

Speaking of Loren Coleman... my favorite living cryptozoologist is featured prominently in Seth Breedlove's latest feature-length documentary, TERROR IN THE SKIES, a rollicking examination of mothmen, winged demons, thunderbirds, and prehistoric remnants. Here's a brief lowdown on the film prepared by its creators, Small Town Monsters (an independent production company that specializes in American folklore and modern mythology):

Illinois is known for its miles of prairie, and for being a state rich in history… but what if that rich history isn’t quite what you’ve been told? This new film, from award-winning production company, Small Town Monsters, and director, Seth Breedlove, explores hundreds of years of terrifying reports of encounters with massive, winged creatures around the “land of Lincoln”. From Alton’s man-eating Piasa Bird legends to recent sightings in Chicago of a creature said to resemble Point Pleasant, West Virginia’s infamous “Mothman”, Terror in the Skies unlocks a centuries-old mystery.

Journey to the heartland of the midwest in this new documentary which offers a startling, in-depth look at an ongoing phenomenon. The feature-length film was shot around the state of Illinois in September and acts as much as a guide to the constantly changing terrain of the land as it does an introduction to a reality-altering subject. Breedlove contacted numerous witnesses and investigators who claim to have seen massive beings in the sky as recently as last year. One of the most recent, and popular stories to hit major media in recent years has been an ongoing wave of sightings of a red-eyed, shapeless creature dubbed the “Chicago Mothman”, an event which is also covered in great detail in this film.


Breedlove's other feature-length documentaries are also well worth your time, particularly THE FLATWOODS MONSTER: A LEGACY OF FEAR (2018) and THE BRAY ROAD BEAST (2018).  





Loren Coleman on the Garlic Festival Shooting

In his latest Twilight Language blog post entitled "Garlic Festival Shooting, Oz, Zaragoza, and Aragon," the always insightful Loren Coleman offers a preliminary synchromystic analysis of yesterday's mass shooting at the Garlic Festival at Christmas Hill Park located in Gilroy, California.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Paul Krassner, R.I.P. (1932-2019)

Paul Krassner, the greatest satirist of the twentieth century, passed away on July 21 at the age of 87. If you haven't read Krassner's many books, you're definitely missing out on an incomparable experience. His 1993 book CONFESSIONS OF A RAVING, UNCONFINED NUT (the title of which was provided to Krassner by none other than J. Edgar Hoover, who called Krassner "a raving, unconfined nut" in a declassified FBI document) is, in my estimation, the funniest autobiography ever published.


Here's an excerpt from Danny Goldberg's 7-26-19 Nation article entitled "Goodbye to Free-Thought Icon and Merry Prankster Paul Krassner":

"Among the icons of the 1960s counterculture, no one carried the torch in succeeding decades with more joy and vigor than Paul Krassner, who died on July 21 at the age of 87. He was writing witty, politically charged group e-mails to hundreds of devoted friends and planning new projects until his final earthly days.
"Born in Brooklyn, Paul was a child prodigy on classical violin who played a Vivaldi concerto in Carnegie Hall at age 6. In the 1950s he became a staff writer for Mad magazine; he began publishing his own satirical magazine, The Realist, in 1959.
"That year he interviewed Lenny Bruce for Playboy. Paul later edited Bruce’s autobiography, How to Talk Dirty and Influence People. Paul is most famous as one of the founders of the Yippies; he was an unindicted coconspirator in the trial of the Chicago Eight, who were arrested in connection with anti-war protests outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
"Yet Paul’s greatest legacy is The Realist, which he kept going for 43 years, until 2001. Among those he published were Norman Mailer, Dick Gregory, Jerry Garcia, Allen Ginsberg, Kurt Vonnegut, Groucho Marx (whom he turned on to LSD), Ken Kesey, Richard Pryor, Marshall McLuhan, Woody Allen, Mort Sahl, George Carlin, Neil Postman, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, Joseph Heller, Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Barbara Garson (whose brilliant play MacBird Paul helped fund), Terry Southern (who called The Realist “the most important publication in the United States”), and artists Art Spiegelman and R. Crumb. Paul was the first to publish Mae Brussel’s theory on the JFK assassination, and he was a go-to source for conspiracy theorists.
"To me, the best parts of The Realist were Paul’s own pieces, which mixed anarchic humor and a nuanced progressive political agenda...."
Fortunately, you can still read the best of those pieces in Krassner's excellent collection How a Satirical Editor Became a Yippie Conspirator in Ten Easy Years (1971). Other essential Krassner books include The Winner of the Slow Bicycle Race (1996), Sex, Drugs, and the Twinkie Murders (2000), Murder at the Conspiracy Convention and Other American Absurdities (2002), One Hand Jerking: Reports From an Investigative Satirist (2005), Who's to Say What's Obscene? Politics, Culture and Comedy in America Today (2009), and Patty Hearst & the Twinkie Murders: A Tale of Two Trials (2014). Forthcoming is Krassner's final book, Zapped By the God of Absurdity, which will be released this September by Fantagraphics Books. Do yourself a favor and pre-order the book right HERE, right NOW!
 

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Count Dracula Endorses BELA LUGOSI AND THE MONOGRAM NINE!

I recently visited my close friend, Count Dracula, and told him that I had just published a nonfiction book entitled BELA LUGOSI AND THE MONOGRAM NINE (coauthored with Gary D. Rhodes).

After I gave him a copy of the book, Dracula said, "Ah, it's wonderful to see my old friend Bela receiving some much deserved publicity!" 

I replied, "You know... some Dracula fans believe that Christopher Lee played you better. What do you think?"

The Count waved his hand dismissively and said, "No one could wear a dinner suit like Bela!"

"You actually met Mr. Lugosi?"

"Oh, yes. At one time we were quite close. I first met him in 1926 when I was preying on helpless young waifs in the Hungarian community in New York. I saw Bela performing dinner theater in a quaint, out-of-the-way cafe in Greenwich Village. Ah, yes! He made an excellent Cyrano! Fine comedic timing. I was the one who suggested he portray Yours Truly. I showed him all my best moves. He was a quick learner."

"Do you want to say something briefly about the nine films Bela made for Monogram Studios in the 1940s, the subject of our new book?"

"I had fallen out of touch with Bela by that time, but of course I saw all of those films when they premiered. Well, except for those two Bowery Boys films. For some reason those didn't play in Louisiana, where I was living at that time. My favorite was THE APE MAN. I needn't tell you, my friend, that THE APE MAN was a weird fucking film, was it not?"

"Yes, of course. That might be my favorite too. I devoted a very long chapter to that particular movie in this new book."

"I should watch it again. Maybe this time I'll even understand the damn thing. Anyway, I'll endeavor to read your new book. Reading helps me not fall asleep at night. Now stand back as I transform into an immense hookworm!"

"A hookworm?"

He leaned in close and whispered, "Bats, wolves, dogs... I've never been able to figure them out. They're way too complicated."

"Before you leave, can you pose for a picture with me?"

He sighed. "Oh, all right, but then I must go immediately! I have pressing matters awaiting me at my castle. Tending to the needs of my pet armadillo, Tony, must outweigh your petty concerns for publicity!"

So we snapped a few photos, and then I watched the Count squirm off into the distance. It was an exhilarating evening all around, as you can well imagine.


If you'd like to read the same book that Count Dracula will soon be perusing in his coffin, then please feel free to order your copy of BELA LUGOSI AND THE MONOGRAM NINE from Amazon right HERE.



Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Frankenstein's Monster Endorses FREEDOM OF SCREECH!

I recently visited my close friend, the Frankenstein Monster, and told him I had just published a story that revolves around the book Mary Shelley wrote about him over two hundred years ago. 

I told him, "The story's called 'Farewell, Frankenstein!' and it's all about this college campus in Southern California that tried to ban Mary's biography of you! How wild is that, eh?" 

After I gave him a copy of the story in question, the Frankenstein Monster said to me (and this is a direct quote):

"Emblazon the following words upon thy blog: 'I expected this reception from academia! All so-called learned men hate the wretched; how, then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things! Those of you who read these words, those of you who consider yourselves to be reasonable souls, do the sacred duty of true humanity, purchase a copy of Craig Spector's latest anthology of dark fiction, FREEDOM OF SCREECH, and read Robert Guffey's stunning reportage concerning the abhorred book the late Mary Shelley wrote about me and my tortured existence! I cannot recommend this anthology more highly!' 

"Now... begone, vile insect. Off with you, and seek no further blurbs of endorsement from me! I wish only to be left... alone!" 

Then I said, "Will you pose for a picture with me first?" 

And he said in exasperation, "Ugh!" 

The old fellow couldn't have been more cooperative. Thank you, Frankenstein Monster!
 

We here at Cryptoscatology.com really appreciate all your efforts on our behalf!


You can buy a copy of Craig Spector's FREEDOM OF SCREECH anthology (which includes my story "Farewell, Frankenstein!") via Amazon right HERE



Sunday, July 14, 2019

"Farewell, Frankenstein!" in FREEDOM OF SCREECH

I'm proud beyond words to be a part of Craig Spector's latest anthology, FREEDOM OF SCREECH (a collection of freedom of speech-themed short fiction), the focus of which couldn't be more relevant in this bright, shiny future in which we all find ourselves. I'm particularly proud to be sharing a Table of Contents page with the likes of Norman Spinrad and Richard Christian Matheson, both of whom I've been reading since I was a teenager. Matheson's first book, SCARS AND OTHER DISTINGUISHING MARKS, has long been one of my favorite short story collections and Spinrad's THE IRON DREAM is—needless to say—one of the most audacious and challenging science fiction novels published during the past fifty years. 

My contribution to this anthology ("Farewell, Frankenstein!") celebrates the perennial significance of Mary Shelley's most famous literary creation while also addressing pressing issues of academic freedom in the twenty-first century. It's a strange but true tale about a darkly absurd attempt to ban Shelley's FRANKENSTEIN from a Southern California college campus. The story begins with the following disclaimer: "The following events are, to borrow a phrase coined by the late James W. Moseley, 'shockingly close to the truth.' Names and places have been changed to protect the guilty and innocent alike." Those of you who read my recently posted article, "The War Against the Imagination: How to Teach in a System Designed to Fail," will be particularly interested in this dire bit of reportage.  

FREEDOM OF SCREECH is available on Amazon by clicking right HERE! Buy it now… while you’re still allowed to buy books!


Thursday, July 11, 2019

THE NOX MENTE PODCAST

Last night I appeared on the extraordinary NOX MENTE podcast (hosted by Jerry Ablan and Niish) and discussed the subject of dreams for over two hours. Of the many interviews I've done during the past few years, this was definitely one of my favorites. In case you're curious, here is NOX MENTE's unique mission statement:

Nox Mente is a show dedicated to exploring consciousness through dreams, dreaming, and dream theory using a wide angle lens. We have opened up this conversation to a diverse world of dreamers. Our goal is to help in the process of bringing conscious intent to the state of dreaming — light to the shadowy corners of this experience we all have access to, each time we drift off to sleep. We strive to maintain an open and neutral environment as hosts. There are many theories on the process of dreaming and altered states, and we want to hear them all. No information is irrelevant when it comes to dreams. It is in the overlap of individual experiences that we find pathways into the thinking and journeys of the collective.  

To listen to my 7-10-19 appearance on NOX MENTE, simply click on the window below.... 



Friday, July 5, 2019

DARK GODS

Recommended: A fair and useful review of Anthony Roberts and Geoff Gilbertson's underappreciated 1980 nonfiction book DARK GODS, courtesy of David Halpin's The Occult Book Review....


Thursday, July 4, 2019

Orchestrated Destabilization or Random Insanity?

“Street clashes do not distress the ruling elites. These clashes divide the underclass. They divert activists from threatening the actual structures of power. They give the corporate state the ammunition to impose harsher forms of control and expand the powers of internal security.”
--Chris Hedges, truthdig, 8-27-17

Without basic knowledge regarding COINTELPRO's well-documented tactics to destabilize "subversive" organizations and foment general chaos on the domestic front, the below news item cannot be fully understood. When read in isolation, events like these merely appear to be examples of random, anomalous outbursts of social madness in the 21st century. When seen in a broader context, however, that view inevitably shifts. Further information about COINTELPRO (and the related OPERATION CHAOS) can be attained HERE and HERE.

What follows is an excerpt from Quillette's 6-30-19 article entitled "Antifa's Brutal Assault on Andy Ngo Is a Wake-Up Call--for Authorities and Journalists Alike":

All revolutionary movements seek to sanctify their lawless behaviour as a spontaneous eruption of righteous fury. In some cases, such as the Euromaidan movement in Ukraine, this conceit is justified. But usually their violence is a pre-meditated tactic to intimidate adversaries. Or as Bolshevik theorist Nikolai Bukharin put it, “In revolution, he will be victorious who cracks the other’s skull.”
The Antifa thugs who attacked Quillette editor and photojournalist Andy Ngo in Portland yesterday did not quite manage to crack his skull. But they did manage to induce a brain hemorrhage that required Ngo’s overnight hospitalization. (For those seeking to support Ngo financially as he recovers, there is a third-party fundraising campaign.) The scene was captured by local reporter Jim Ryan, whose video can be accessed at the link below. We caution readers that it is an unsettling spectacle—by which we mean not only the violence itself, but the unconstrained glee this pack of mostly young men exhibit as they brutalize a journalist whom they’d spent months demonizing on social media, and whom they’d explicitly singled out for attack.
Andy Ngo is an elfin, soft-spoken man. He also happens to be the gay son of Vietnamese immigrants—salient details, given Antifa’s absurd slogans about smashing the heteronormative white supremacist patriarchy. Like schoolboy characters out of Lord of the Flies, these cosplay revolutionaries stomp around, imagining themselves to be heroes stalking the great beast of fascism. But when the beast proves elusive, they gladly settle for beating up journalists, harassing the elderly or engaging in random physical destruction.
Antifa’s first prominent appearance was in 2017, when black-clad protestors at Berkeley used violence to shut down an appearance by provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. This set a pattern whereby their rallies have been presented as counter-demonstrations aimed at “taking back the streets” from right-wing groups. But more and more, this conceit has dissolved into farce—as in Washington last year, when Antifa gangs showed up to protest largely non-existent conservative protestors. “Again and again, small groups of Antifa members harassed, threatened and occasionally jostled reporters,” the Washington Post reported. “The activists demanded not to be photographed as they marched down public streets—even as many of them hoisted their own phone cameras and staged their own photo ops.”
This vignette is telling, because it points to the base motivations of many Antifa members—which seem to consist of glorifying themselves as freedom fighters on social media, and shutting down anyone who challenges their vainglorious narrative. Which brings us back to the reason Antifa activists were so eager to beat up our colleague Andy Ngo, a Portland resident who has been relentless in exposing the true face of Antifa. They attacked him for the simple reason that he has challenged their ideological propaganda—an Antifa tactic that any true fascist would recognize and applaud.
Given the widespread support for Ngo that has manifested itself over the last 24 hours—and the corresponding disgust with his attackers—we hope that these events will herald new policies to protect the public (including journalists) from those who claim the right to use violence as a form of political expression. Following the hate-killing of Heather Heyer by James A. Fields Jr. in Charlottesville, Virginia two years ago, attention was drawn to the problem of right-wing political violence. And rightly so. But this attitude of vigilance must be broadened to include all radical groups. It shouldn’t require an actual fatality to goad Portland’s mayor and police into real action. Surely, a brain hemorrhage should be enough.
To read the entire post, click HERE.


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

"CONTROL IS CONTROLLED BY ITS NEED TO CONTROL."

--WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS

1) From Jordan Crucchiola's 6-23-19 Vulture post entitled "Christian Group Petitions Netflix to Cancel Amazon's Good Omens, Netflix 'Agrees'":

A Christian group called Return to Order is very upset with the Amazon series Good Omens, which features the forces of heaven and hell teaming up to stop the Antichrist. So upset, in fact, that they have amassed more than 20,000 signatures demanding it be canceled (all episodes are already streaming on Amazon Prime) by … Netflix. While the petition appears to have been taken down from the Order’s website, it is reported to have been titled “Tell Netflix: Cancel Blasphemous ‘Good Omens’ Series,” and called [Good Omens] “another step to make Satanism appear normal, light and acceptable.” The group is also angry that God is voiced by a woman, that an angel and a demon are friends, and that it “mocks God’s wisdom,” according to quotes gathered by The Guardian

To read the entire post, click HERE

To see the Return to Order's "updated" petition, click HERE


2) From Crooks and Liars' 6-29-19 post entitled "Canadian Cartoonist Fired After His Trump Cartoon Goes Viral":

[Political cartoonist Michael] de Adder [has] had his contract terminated with the Brunswick News, a privately-held publishing company that operates in New Brunswick, Canada. The sole owner, James K. Irving, is one of the wealthiest people in Canada and he and his family have a vast array of interests and holdings, many of them dependent on access to the United States. So, when their little newspapers published a political cartoon that went viral completely excoriating the vile and hateful border practices of Trump something had to give....

 
To see the entire Crooks and Liars post, click HERE


3) From Robby Soave's 6-20-19 Reason article entitled "Activists Want a Problematic Mural of George Washington Destroyed. It Will Cost a High School $600,000.":

A high school in San Francisco is considering three options for censoring a mural of George Washington deemed problematic by the local activist community: putting up a curtain (price tag: $300,000), painting over it ($600,000), or hiding it behind panels ($875,000).

No doubt San Francisco United School District could hire quite a few teachers in lieu of executing even the cheapest of those plans, but a 13-member working group asserts the mural must go. It "glorifies slavery, genocide, colonization, manifest destiny, white supremacy, oppression," and "doesn't represent SFUSD values of social justice, diversity, united, student-centered." It's also responsible for traumatizing students, according to the activists.

The truth is that George Washington High School's mural is provocative by design. It was painted in 1936 by a Russian-American artist named Victor Arnautoff, who held leftist sympathies. Arnautoff did not wish to blindly celebrate Washington while ignoring the less savory aspects of the American founding, and thus he depicted the first president working his slaves and sending men to confiscate Native American lands. It was an attempt to remind students that history is a lot messier than what they read in class.

"He put those ghastly gray pioneers literally walking over the dead body of an Indian to demonstrate that the settlement of the west was an act of conquest that involved the slaughter of Native Americans," Robert Cherny, a San Francisco State University professor, told the school district's board of education in 2018. "That was a very bold effort on his part to counter the kinds of textbooks that students were seeing."

Modern activist culture, however, is preoccupied with an ever-expanding definition of safety, which now includes emotional safety. To walk past a mural that depicts violence against Native Americans and people of color—even if that's what actually happened—is considered trauma-inducing, and the purpose of education is to mitigate discomfort. (This is a major theme of my new book, Panic Attack: Young Radicals in the Age of Trump, which was released this week and is available in book stores and online.)

"Why do we have to explain the pain caused by the visual offense that we see in that building that is supposed to be an institution for learning?" asked one woman at a public meeting about the issue on Tuesday.

"It's not in a museum, it's inside a school," lamented another speaker, who apparently did not understand the point of a school. "Our students, all of them, deserve better."

Other speakers, several of them Native American, expressed no objection to the mural, correctly pointing out that it was depicting "what actually happened."

According to National Review's James Sutton, most of the students want to keep the mural, or don't really care one way or another. The controversy is the work of "outside busybodies." Naturally, it looks like they are going to get their way. The school board is currently deciding between three different plans, all of which involve destroying the mural, or covering it up....

To see the original article, click HERE.

4) From Ray Kelly's 6-19-19 MassLive post entitled "Film Community Decries 'Politically Correct' Decision to Remove Lillian Gish Name From University Theater":

More than 50 prominent artists, writers, and film scholars are calling for the restoration of actresses Lillian and Dorothy Gish’s names to a theater established in their honor 43 years ago at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
The university decided last month to remove the Gish name — but retain the Ohio native’s endowment and personal memorabilia — because of Lillian Gish’s role in D. W. Griffith’s controversial 1915 film “The Birth of a Nation,” a racist silent film which glorified the Ku Klux Klan. It was one of more than 100 screen appearances by the American Film Institute and Kennedy Center honoree, who died in 1993 at the age of 99.
“For a university to dishonor her by singling out just one film, however offensive it is, is unfortunate and unjust. Doing so makes her a scapegoat in a broader political debate. A university should be a bastion of free speech. This is a supreme ‘teachable moment’ if it can be handled with a more nuanced sense of history,” the letter states in part.
Among those signing the letter calling for the restoration of the Gish Theater name are James Earl Jones, Helen Mirren, Martin Scorsese, George Stevens Jr., Peter Bogdanovich, Joseph McBride, Malcolm McDowell, Lauren Hutton, Larry Jackson and Joe Dante.
In removing the Gish name, Bowling Green State University officials said in a 12-page report that " in no way is our intent to minimize her accomplishments or contributions to film culture and history. However, as an educational institution, BGSU has a primary responsibility to its students and an overriding obligation to create an inclusive learning environment."
McBride, who wrote the “AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Lillian Gish” television special in 1984, decried that conclusion.
“In this age of rampant ‘political correctness,’ scattershot attacks are claiming a lot of unfortunate collateral damage. Two of the recent victims are Lillian and Dorothy Gish. Lillian acted in more than 120 films and television shows, and is universally acknowledged as one of the greatest actresses is film history, but her supporting role in D. W. Griffith’s 1915 film ‘The Birth of a Nation’ has landed her on the list of people to be shunned," McBride said. “It is shameful that Bowling Green State University shows such little regard for film history or cultural perspective in taking this rash overreaction to a film that, while deplorable in its racism, does not represent her entire career. Dorothy Gish, who did not appear in ‘Birth,’ is merely collateral damage in this controversy.”
McBride, a professor at San Francisco State University, added, “A university should encourage open debate instead of cultural shunning and attempts to rewrite history.”
To see Kelly's original post, click HERE.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Robo-Insects

Recommended reading: Knvul Sheikh's 6-26-19 New York Times article entitled "Unleashed, Robo-Insect Takes Flight":

For years now, scientists have sought to build aerial robots inspired by bees and other flying insects. But they have always run into a fundamental problem: Flying takes a lot of energy.
Insects flap their wings, generating the thrust needed to move through the air by utilizing the energy stored in strong muscles. Their robot doppelgängers must rely on batteries, which are less efficient and tend to be heavy, or must be hooked up externally.
Now researchers at Harvard University have built a new type of robot that is capable of true, untethered flight. The unit, called the RoboBee X-Wing, is equipped with four tiny wings made of carbon fiber and polyester, and even tinier photovoltaic cells. 

In bright light, its solar cells generate about five volts of electricity, which a minuscule transformer then boosts to the 200 volts necessary for liftoff. When the high voltage is applied to two components called piezoelectric actuators, they bend and contract, much as an insect’s muscles would. This drives the flapping motion of the RoboBee’s wings.

Clever engineering keeps the device small and light — about one-quarter the weight of a paper clip. This allows the RoboBee to flit about freely, whereas previous iterations of the robot could only take off, land, or perch mid-flight while leashed to a power supply.
“We wanted to keep pushing the limit on how much power we could squeeze out of the artificial muscles in the robot, and how efficient we could make the whole system,” said Noah Jafferis, a postdoctoral engineer at Harvard and one of the leaders of the research.
On Wednesday, Dr. Jafferis and his colleagues reported in Nature that the RoboBee is now able to match the thrust efficiency of similarly sized insects, such as bees.

The first time the robot took off in the lab, it lifted off with such force and speed that some of the researchers yelped in surprise. “We weren’t expecting it to take off like that at all,” said Farrell Helbling, a postdoctoral roboticist who also led research on the seminal flight.
So far, each of the RoboBee’s test flights have only lasted a couple seconds. One of the robot’s shortcomings is that it still can’t store energy. As soon as it flies out of a small, well-lit area, it slows down and falls to the ground.
But Dr. Helbling and Dr. Jafferis are confident that the robot could stay aloft for several minutes if its solar cells and circuits were given the proper tweaks.
Further advances in engineering could make microrobots even more autonomous, said F. Zeynep Temel, who works on ant-sized jumping robots at Carnegie Mellon University. And once these tiny robots are able to zip up, down and sideways outdoors, they could be used to take air quality measurements, help search collapsed buildings for survivors, or even be deployed in swarms.
“Having onboard power is the first big step to getting microrobots out of the lab and into the real world,” Dr. Temel said.


To read the entire article, click HERE.

I suggest comparing the above article with p. 116 of my book CHAMELEO: A STRANGE BUT TRUE STORY OF INVISIBLE SPIES, HEROIN ADDICTION, AND HOMELAND SECURITY. It's also worth noting (as political researcher Dave Emory is fond of pointing out) that the military is generally fifteen to twenty years ahead of the civilian world when it comes to technological developments.

Monday, July 1, 2019

A Return to Oligarchy

What follows is a relevant excerpt from Lynn Parramore's 5-30-18 article entitled "Meet the Economist Behind the One Percent's Stealth Takeover of America" about the continuing influence of Nobel laureate James McGill Buchanan and billionaire industrialist Charles Koch: 

Most Americans haven’t seen what’s coming.
[Nancy] MacLean notes that when the Kochs’ control of the GOP kicked into high gear after the financial crisis of 2007-08, many were so stunned by the shock-and-awe” tactics of shutting down government, destroying labor unions, and rolling back services that meet citizens’ basic necessities that few realized that many leading the charge had been trained in economics at Virginia institutions, especially George Mason University. Wasn’t it just a new, particularly vicious wave of partisan politics?
It wasn’t. MacLean convincingly illustrates that it was something far more disturbing.
MacLean is not the only scholar to sound the alarm that the country is experiencing a hostile takeover that is well on its way to radically, and perhaps permanently, altering the society. Peter Temin, former head of the MIT economics department, INET grantee, and author of The Vanishing Middle Class, as well as economist Gordon Lafer of the University of Oregon and author of The One Percent Solution, have provided eye-opening analyses of where America is headed and why. MacLean adds another dimension to this dystopian big picture, acquainting us with what has been overlooked in the capitalist right wing’s playbook.
She observes, for example, that many liberals have missed the point of strategies like privatization. Efforts to “reform” public education and Social Security are not just about a preference for the private sector over the public sector, she argues. You can wrap your head around those, even if you don’t agree. Instead, MacLean contends, the goal of these strategies is to radically alter power relations, weakening pro-public forces and enhancing the lobbying power and commitment of the corporations that take over public services and resources, thus advancing the plans to dismantle democracy and make way for a return to oligarchy. The majority will be held captive so that the wealthy can finally be free to do as they please, no matter how destructive.
MacLean argues that despite the rhetoric of Virginia school acolytes, shrinking big government is not really the point. The oligarchs require a government with tremendous new powers so that they can bypass the will of the people. This, as MacLean points out, requires greatly expanding police powers “to control the resultant popular anger.”  The spreading use of pre-emption by GOP-controlled state legislatures to suppress local progressive victories such as living wage ordinances is another example of the right’s aggressive use of state power.
Could these right-wing capitalists allow private companies to fill prisons with helpless citizens—or, more profitable still, right-less undocumented immigrants? They could, and have. Might they engineer a retirement crisis by moving Americans to inadequate 401(k)s? Done. Take away the rights of consumers and workers to bring grievances to court by making them sign forced arbitration agreements? Check. Gut public education to the point where ordinary people have such bleak prospects that they have no energy to fight back? Getting it done.
Would they even refuse children clean water? Actually, yes.
MacLean notes that in Flint, Michigan, Americans got a taste of what the emerging oligarchy will look like — it tastes like poisoned water. There, the Koch-funded Mackinac Center pushed for legislation that would allow the governor to take control of communities facing emergency and put unelected managers in charge. In Flint, one such manager switched the city’s water supply to a polluted river, but the Mackinac Center’s lobbyists ensured that the law was fortified by protections against lawsuits that poisoned inhabitants might bring. Tens of thousands of children were exposed to lead, a substance known to cause serious health problems including brain damage.
Tyler Cowen has provided an economic justification for this kind of brutality, stating that where it is difficult to get clean water, private companies should take over and make people pay for it. “This includes giving them the right to cut off people who don’t—or can’t—pay their bills,” the economist explains.
To many this sounds grotesquely inhumane, but it is a way of thinking that has deep roots in America.
To read the entire article, click HERE.