Quote of the Day

"Buzz, buzz."--Hamlet

The wet-dream of the Repubs is no policing of the economy, no regulations whats-so-ever. Basically a black-market where they are free to exploit people, the environment, sell opium whatever.--Charles Lucas

The opinions, rants and absurdities expressed herein belong solely to the founder of RBPD. Read with caution. Content may induce nausea, confusion, vertigo, tears, hallucinations, anger, pity, reflexive piety, boredom, convulsions, lightheadedness, a fit of ague, or an opposing view.

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Friday, April 20, 2018

The Mother of All Mothers

Hunter S. Thompson: “We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world—a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are not just Whores for power and oil, but killer whores with hate and fear in our hearts. We are human scum, and that is how history will judge us. . . . No redeeming social value. Just whores. Get out of our way, or we’ll kill you.

“Well, shit on that dumbness. George W. Bush does not speak for me or my son or my mother or my friends or the people I respect in this world. We didn’t vote for these cheap, greedy little killers who speak for America today—and we will not vote for them again in 2002. Or 2004. Or ever.

“Who does vote for these dishonest shitheads? Who among us can be happy and proud of having all this innocent blood on our hands? Who are these swine? These flag-sucking half-wits who get fleeced and fooled by stupid little rich kids like George Bush? They are the same ones who wanted to have Muhammad Ali locked up for refusing to kill gooks. They speak for all that is cruel and stupid and vicious in the American character. They are the racists and hate mongers among us—they are the Ku Klux Klan. I piss down the throats of these Nazis. And I am too old to worry about whether they like it or not. Fuck them.”

Jeffrey St. Clair provides a Hunter S. Thompson quote and much more in his weekly column, Roaming Charges, at CounterPunch.


TS

Thursday, April 19, 2018

I'm All In














Portlanders are ready for some good weather finally.  It won't last very long, but any breaks from the clouds and drizzle are fine with me.

Summer in Oregon is the best, and it'll be here soon.


TS

O the Irony

I recently heard on cable news that special counsel Robert Mueller wanted to interview some “Russian oligarchs” about their supposed influence on the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Liberal talking heads at such organizations as MSNBC and CNN keep warning that nothing has been done yet to protect the integrity of our voting process against “Russian interference” as the 2018 midterm elections loom ever closer on the nation’s horizon.--PS

This Paul Street essay is not for the squeamish.

TS

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Here We Go

So now I have a new phone, a smartphone that is a lot smarter than I am.

If I figure out how to use this baby I'll be rolling.

I wonder how I would have reacted in the last century seeing the horse and buggy upset by automobiles? 

Would I have felt a similar dread, sensed that I was out of my league, wished against technology? 

I remember years ago trying to teach myself DOS 5.1, thinking I might land a job.

By the time I started to grasp it the system was obsolete. I never got the job.

Some of us never learn.  I don't care.  I live with things as they are, have accepted my fate.  I could never operate the cotton gin either.


TS 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Dullsville

For the past few days and nights I've been trying to think of something to write.

I have failed.  I've been kind of depressed of late.

Perhaps something will click later.

Check back sporadically if you feel like it, maybe I'll think of something.


TS

Friday, April 13, 2018

Essays


Seeing that the Democrats have no real alternative to Donald Trump, they can only engage negatively and superficially. They have obsessed over why he won, but they give little thought to why he will win again. And at this rate, he will again. The moment they nominate Joe Biden and limit their politics to the pretentious side of a cafeteria food fight, it will be the bully Donald Trump who will triumph as the only consistent character in this theatrical farce that postures as American politics. The Democrats say Trump’s win must be excused, rather than explained. They say it was Russia, it was Assange, it was young people, it was Cambridge Analytica, it was Bernie, it was poor people. Forget the fabrications behind all these excuses. Even if they were true, exposing them does little to address the possibility of a 2020 Trump victory.--NP

This kid is bright.

This old geezer is still trying to figure it out.  Good luck with that!

The rest of the story.

Enjoy your weekend, if you get one.


TS

Thursday, April 12, 2018

You Don't Believe



TS

I Ain't No



"I ain't no fortunate son."

Fogerty for our times.


TS

Point Taken

But here’s a phrase I haven’t heard from any of the purportedly progressive hosts on MSNBC: “A U.S. oligarch with links to Washington.”

That avoidance is revealing when one considers an indisputable fact: U.S. oligarchs have done far more to undermine U.S. democracy than any Russian.--JC

A common-sense question.

TS

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Tick, Tick, Tick: a Case for Reading

The rich keep getting richer and the rest of us just keep getting oldStephen Stills

It behooves one to understand that the U.S. is a police state.  It's a unique variety, but nonetheless, an honest-to-god military dictatorship. Smedley Butler saw it coming. Ike confirmed it in his famous farewell address.

Beware, Ike warned, of the rising Military Industrial Complex.

U.S. hegemony is unique because the world never had a rich "lone superpower" ritually terrorize the planet before the U.S. grew its ugly force of absolute imperial strength, and turned from Cold War espionage to flat-out bombing campaigns from Korea and elsewhere right up until this moment.

No empire before this one had the Bomb—or used it—to back up its quest.

Tick, tick, tick repeats the doomsday clock.

It is damn near impossible to imagine a way to dismantle such terrifying power without a sweeping change of consciousness, which isn't likely to happen. People are too attached to the spoils of empire, and it is precisely because they don't want to confront their hypocrisy and shame that they are not in the streets with actual revolutionary fervor.

So now, brief forays into protest rule the day.  Occupy was unique in and of itself, until it was no longer tolerable to the very police-rule I am talking about. The powers-that-be played along—until they didn’t, and the batons and pepper-spray came out.

Women and kids shouting “No More” in the streets do not a revolution make, either, though they’re to be lauded for their emerging and earnest awakenings.

Tick, tick, tick goes the doomsday clock.

One of the daft, yet entirely predictable, results of Donald Trump’s presidency is the sheer numbers of winnowing protests that have been spawned by his recklessness.  They are marches sparked by identity politics and social indignities, imagined and real. Unfortunately, they seldom ring of anti-imperialism. The current protests’—if you can call them that—net effects have been minimal. They’re too fragmentary, partitioned, and designed by self-interests rather than communalism.  As important as the parts are, they haven’t the “mass” necessary to provoke real change.

They threaten nobody at the top.

The last effective mass protests could be said to be Vietnam War protests.  Accompanying those long marches were conjoined civil rights campaigns, race riots, teach-ins, symposiums, campus sit-ins, and more aggressive acts bordering on anarchy.  There was, in other words, an actual mass within the “mass movement.”

That was the last time the linage of elites that has historically influenced U.S. governance felt threatened or truly frightened by anti-imperialists.

How else to explain the spawning of Nixon and the subsequent flow of corporate shills who have, as they like to mythologize, “served?”  Raped would be a more truthful word.

Since then, political/corporate elites have swatted dissent away like flying bugs at a corporate picnic.

This begs the question. Why don’t Americans try to educate themselves and address this tailspin?

In other words, why are so many Americans uninformed conformists who insist that education and reading are worthless?  How has such a vast anti-intellectualism gained its impetus?

Americans are too busy to read. They admit it, claim it, and in some cases exaggerate it. They’re too busy in their jobs, too busy with their families. They can’t be bothered because they must work hard to stay afloat. They glance at the morning “news” over coffee, and then off they go to their offices and factories.

Supposing for a minute they’re lucky enough to have decent employment, of course.

They slog through their days, turning the lathe, selling stuff, filing papers, changing tires, cooking meals, making deals, and on and on.

They’re the remnants of the good old American middle-class, or more likely these days, they’re the core of the burgeoning working-poor.

In the evening, after a couple of drinks or more at the local bar, they’ll flick on their televisions to see what major calamity has stricken the nation.  Some of them will tune into Fox News.  Others will opt for CNN or MSNBC.

Some, who may consider themselves enlightened, will opt for the PBS News Hour.  All of it is corporate-designed information, and very little of it has anything to do with the truth, or the reality of their lives.

Fortified by what they regard as the news of the day churned out by rightists and liberal-centrists, they turn to their hobbies. Woodworking in the garage, reality TV programs, sporting events; these things occupy them right up until bedtime.

A dwindling number of them read important books of great literature, philosophy and history, or the sanest scribbling of them all—poetry—but the vast multitude can’t be bothered.  They surf the web, which is a quick way to bone up on what others are thinking—and to find something coveted to buy.  You see, they’re often too busy to open a book.  If they open one in bed, they’re too tired to read but a paragraph or two before nodding out.

If they’re not academics or individuals otherwise deeply curious about some aspect of intellectual life, they’re not into reading. Their time is better-spent doing other things or nothing at all.

They catch a few hours of unconsciousness wrapped in warped dreams and then they’re up the next morning, ready to do it all again.

Tick, tick, tick, etc.

In my mind, that’s a big problem and at least partly indicative of what’s wrong with the U.S. at this time—people either don’t understand or choose to ignore what is happening around them.

In my own limited quest to discover how and why things happen, I read. I like to read.  I'm all for it.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, not everyone is. I know a fellow—I won't mention his name—who in all seriousness said to me, "Man, you read and all you do is regurgitate other people’s ideas.”

He’s into scooters and scooter-club riding.

You see, in his mind a type of learning I favor has been reduced to regurgitation, and that somehow has evolved into a negative value.  No exceptions. His claims that to read and cite sources for your discoveries, as in an essay or conversation centered on ideas, is essentially a waste of time, a valueless exercise. Without knowing it, he’s assailed and killed a style of pedagogy evident since Socrates.

Yes, there are many like him. They don’t talk much, but they judge everything via uninformed opinions. It’s scary.

Somehow he has it in mind that the accumulation and absorption of important ideas—what is referred to as knowledge—carry no weight.

Let us separate out, for the purpose of my response, the difference between reading and practical experience.  The latter is of course an inarguable aspect of learning.  I’m not here to argue or quantify the difference.

I will not make the mistake my acquaintance makes and short-change either methodology.

Readers, no matter their discipline, often are forced to recall knowledge. For example, your doctor usually has a compendium or two handy to help him comprehend what ails you. He's no doubt read them many times, or you would hope he has.

I'd hate to be treated by one who can't recall his knowledge of diseases.  One who knows the basics and demonstrates imagination in the application of what he knows may in fact be a great doctor, which is what you want.

Regurgitate is an ugly word. It has an ugly sound. In the context of anti-intellectualism, it has an ugly purpose. It is designed to tear down rather than build discourse.

It is designed to blow up reason and enhance ideology.

It is a favorite word of those who would ignore or deny history, for history is purely regurgitation in the minds of those unaccustomed to nuance and subtlety.

Sadly, history is often taught that way to young, hungry minds, deadening them by junior high.

Here's what my acquaintance doesn't understand. Reading offers the basics, a foundation for originality. To gain knowledge you must read. If you can then use what you have learned and create by taking a step ahead, devise something new, foment a revolution of ideas rather than ideology, then you have accomplished something.

By all means, tear that motorcycle engine apart and put it back together again, and be proud of your ability to do so.

But consider this—if one doesn’t bother to read, he hasn’t even a small glimmer of a chance to give back, or fight back on a very fundamental plane. You haven't a chance to go beyond what you think you know.

Short of experience, you haven't a chance to truly learn, absorb ideas, and be creative in your own right.

I have two reactions to the sort of anti-intellectualism I’ve just described.  First, it makes me angry. Second, I wonder how one lives without reading?

You may not die if you don't read, but you certainly won't live fully, either.  Rather you will find solace in delusions and dogma, and you will be poorer for your lack of effort.

If you're so damn smart that you can get along without reading, you're a unique human being, albeit one the pols can see coming from a mile away as they continue to abuse their power and coalesce in our nascent fascistic order.

TS

Monday, April 9, 2018

Promised Land



TS

Essay of the Day

The Israeli army’s wanton slaughter of unarmed Palestinians trapped behind the security barriers in Gaza evokes little outrage and condemnation within the United States because we have been indoctrinated into dehumanizing Muslims. Islam is condemned as barbaric and equated with terrorism. The resistance struggle against foreign occupation, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq or Gaza, sees Muslims demonized as the enemy. Muslims are branded as irrational and inclined to violence and terrorism by their religious beliefs. We attack them not for what they do but because we see them as being different from us. We must eradicate them to save ourselves. And thus we perpetuate the very hatred and counterviolence, or terrorism, that we fear.--CH

Hedges takes it to a new level.


TS

Friday, April 6, 2018

Eating good like you know you should

As far as “mainstream” U.S. media is concerned, the greatest danger posed by Trump has nothing to do with his insane commitment to the accelerated greenhouse gassing to death of life on earth. It’s all about the preposterous notion that he owes his presence in the White House to Russia’s supposed subversion of our unmentionably nonexistent “democracy.” It’s all about Russia, Russia, Russia and Trump, Trump, Trump or what I sometimes call “TWITR,” an acronym for “This Week in Trump and Russia.” It’s been an explicit programming decision—something I’ve written about at some length on at least three prior occasions (see this, this and this). It’s a remarkable choice—to put the biggest issue of our or any time on the back burner of the news--PS

The cookie.

The whole enchilada.

A veritable feast of ideas for your weekend pleasure.


TS

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Fun


So I went to the dentist this afternoon.

What fun!

You needed to know that.




TS

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

"Most Books Are Crap"

Murnane’s books are strange and wonderful and nearly impossible to describe in a sentence or two. After his third novel, “The Plains,” a fable-like story reminiscent of Italo Calvino published in 1982, Murnane largely turned away from what might be called conventional narrative pleasures. Dispensing almost entirely with plot and character, his later works are essayistic meditations on his own past, a personal mythology as attuned to the epic ordinariness of lost time as Proust, except with Murnane it’s horse races, a boyhood marble collection, Catholic sexual hang-ups and life as a househusband in the suburban Melbourne of the 1970s--MB

A terrific profile of an Australian writer who tends bar at a golf club in a remote town five hours from Melbourne.  And, btw, he's considered a possible Nobel winner.


TS