Via Occupy Wall Street.
Via Occupy Wall Street.
As if the other guy is? Child, pu-leeeze!
More tepid endorsements of Mitt Romney at Yahoo News
Stand-up comedian, social satirist and political activist Lee Camp—the “Che Guevara of comedy” as Paul Provenza calls him—is best known for his popular “Moment of Clarity” web series and Camp has performed live for protesters at various Occupy sites around the country.
Now he’s an author, with a new collection of his work in print form, Moment Of Clarity: The Ravings of a Stark Raving Sane Man. I caught up with Lee Camp via email to ask him to clairify a few things for Dangerous Minds readers:
Lee, so it’s been a week… have you had a moment of clarity yet about what happened in Wisconsin?
Lee Camp: I’ll be writing that one tomorrow. It might just be a string of profanities. Wisconsin is just the first explosion in the corporate-backed Citizens-United-fueled demolition of our democracy. If I can get over my moment of dispair-ity, then I’ll work on the Moment of Clarity. [See below!]
Do the WI election results auger as poorly for the future of labor and the Democrats as it seems? I was shocked at the delusion I saw on MSNBC on election night. It was ridiculous, I thought, especially what Lawrence O’Donnell said about Obama being the “biggest winner.” Absurd.
Lee Camp: Yes, they are a horrible sign for the left, for labor, and for this country. I think that as this shit-storm continues people will have no choice but to wake up. At least, that’s my hope. And yeah, you see a lot of delusion from the talking heads because they know that if they’re too depressing, we’ll jump off a bridge. And if we jump off a bridge, they lose viewers. MSNBC is fighting for ratings, so they don’t want anybody dropping their “Lawrence O’Donnell” flag and stuffing handfuls of pills in their mouths.
Scott Walker, the next Nixon?
Lee Camp: Ha. Nixon would seem like a squishy lefty compared to Walker.
As a longtime observer of subcultures, one thing that is surprising to me—-and I should say upfront that I consider this a positive development—is how folks on the Left are starting to tentatively voice an opinion long heard on the Right, of favor of secession. Would it be better to agree to disagree and let Red States do whatever they want—fuck over the unions, poison their water supply with fracking, teaching “Noah’s Ark was real” nonsense in schools, outlawing abortion, curtailing LGBT rights, making church attendance mandatory, whatever—while more, how shall I put this, better-educated regions of the country split off to do what we want? “We” keep “them” from living as they wish to live and vice versa, why not give up and face the facts?
Lee Camp: Sounds kinda nice to me. The problem is that the blue states are on the two coasts. How we will stick together? Maybe a sky bridge over the country? The other problem is that even blue states will allow the corporate raping and pillaging of their land if enough money is poured into the political process. Wisconsin is not necessarily a red state, and it has a noble history of fighting for workers’ rights. However, this last election showed us that if people are handed a pile of shit and shown enough commercials saying it’s chocolate, they’ll eat it with a smile on their faces.
Do you feel that given what we’ve seen shake out in the past decade, the unbridgeable philosophical chasm that exists between Left and Right, where no compromise, no civility and really not even a productive discussion can take place anymore, just yelling on cable news shows, can ever go back into the box?
Lee Camp: Hmmm, maybe. But the truly sad thing is that in many categories the politicians on the two “sides” are not offering different paths. They seem to agree on everything Wall Street and everything military industrial complex. So I think you will see continued energy breaking out of the two part system - like we’ve seen with Occupy.
Speaking of, do you think it’s time to retire the term “Occupy” and what are your observations about how it has seemed to fizzle out in 2012? All winter long, OWS seemed dormant, I was thinking, just because of how cold it was, but it didn’t really come back all that strong this year. What caused all of that amazing energy and commitment to disperse? Or has it? Is it just gestating?
Lee Camp: I think it’s still there, and I think it will come back strong. I don’t think you’ve seen the last of it by any means. Let’s remember what we’re watching here - a handful of protesters going up against riot cops with pepper spray and batons. Is it any surprise that there are going to be lulls? I don’t think this battle is over.
Do you think Romney can beat Obama?
Lee Camp:: Sure he can. The right wing is working furiously to purge all the black and Latino people off the voting roles. If that doesn’t work, we have some of the most hackable computer voting systems this world has ever seen. I’ve seen a monkey hack the voting machines. (Not kidding. Google it.) If a monkey can hack our machines, then a robotic tool like Romney can win an election. On top of that, Romney will have a money advantage. The only way for the left to win is to vote in such great numbers that it swamps the percentage points that will be stolen.
Below, Camp’s calm, cool and collected take on the Wisconsin recall election results and Citizen’s United:
When she found him in the early hours of the morning, it seemed as if he was sleeping. Lying on the bed, with an ink-marked script beside him, still dressed, his shoes carelessly kicked off, a television flickering in the corner. The room smelled of smoke and sweat, a table lamp, cigarettes, an overfilled ashtray. It seemed as if he’d fallen asleep as he worked on his latest screenplay Rosa L., a film about the revolutionary socialist Rosa Luxemburg. He looked pale. An unlit cigarette drooped from his lips, a small trickle of blood glistened from one nostril. For 4 years, Juliane Lorenz had been his partner, she had seen him tired out like this before, falling asleep while working late at night, geed-up by cocaine and alcohol, but this time there was something different. Juliane listened. He was too quiet. When he slept he snored. But now, all she heard - the ticking clock, the television, the hush of traffic outside - was his silence. Rainer Werner Fassbinder was dead.
It’s still hard to believe Fassbinder managed to do so much in his short thirty-seven years of life. That fact he was working on a script at the moment he died, says everything about his dedication to his art. In less than 15 years, Fassbinder made 40 feature films, 3 short films; 4 TV series, 24 stage plays and 4 radio plays. He also acted in 36 productions and worked scriptwriter, cameraman, composer, designer, editor, producer and theater manager.
Born into a middle class family, his father was a doctor who worked near Munich’s red light district. His mother helped with her husband, and neither had much time for their son. After their divorce, Fassbinder lived with his mother, who worked as a translator but was often absent, hospitalized with tuberculosis. Then, Fassbinder spent his time with neighbors, listening to their life stories or, going on his own to the cinema - he later claimed he saw a film a day during his childhood.
“The cinema was the family life I never had at home.”
His favorite films were melodramas, his favorite director Douglas Sirk, of whom Fassbinder said:
“The important thing to learn from Douglas Sirk’s movies is that on the screen you are allowed to, or better still, supposed to, enlarge people’s ordinary feelings—as small as they may be—as much as possible.”
Fassbinder started writing plays, and read about the Spanish playwright Lope de Vega, who had over 1,800 plays attributed to him. This became the gold standard to which Fassbinder aimed his ambitions. At 18, he joined a theater group, and the first hint of his incredible talents and ambitions became apparent.
Within 2 months of joining the Action Theater group, he became its leader. This proved too much for other, older members, who led to the group’s disbandment. Fassbinder then created a new company and drew together a team, or family of actors - Peer Raben, Harry Baer, Kurt Raab, Hanna Schygulla and Irm Hermann - who were to work with him until his death.
His first movie was a “deconstruction of the gangster films”, called Love is Colder than Death, it caused considerable controversy at its premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in 1969, where Fassbinder was jeered and denounced as a “dilletante” by members of the audience. Even so, it established his reputation as a talent to watch, and led on to his next film, Katzelmacher, which was adapted from his stage play. It was the start of his movie career that saw such an unparalleled output. Everything in Fassbinder’s life went towards his film-making. He was often ruthless and allegedly pimped some of the theater group actresses to raise money for his films.
“I would like to build a house with my films. Some are the cellars, others the walls, still others the windows. But I hope in the end it will be a house.”
The turning point came in 1971 with the release of The Merchant of the Four Seasons, the tale of a merchant who is slowly destroyed by circumstances beyond his control. the story epitomized Fassbinder’s world view as tragedy. Life was battled out against insurmountable odds, at great cost to its players. Though his films were often described as “bleak”, I never found them less than engrossing, for the theme to all his films is love - the cost love has on us all.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Fassbinder made such unforgettable films as The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972) (adapted form his play); World on a Wire (1973); his first major international success Fear Eats the Soul (1974), the story of love between an older woman and Moroccan immigrant, played by Fassbinder’s then lover El Hadi ben Salem; Effi Briest (1974); Fox and His Friends (1975); Mother Küsters Goes to Heaven (1975); Despair, his first English film, with a script adapted by Tom Stoppard form the novel by Vladimir Nabokov; In a Year of Thirteen Moons (1978), Fassbinder’s bleakest and personal movie, made in response to the suicide of his lover, Armin Meier; The Marriage of Maria Braun (1978), which became a breakthrough movie in America; Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980), a 13-hour TV series adapted form Alfred Döblin’s novel; Lili Marleen (1981), another big budget English movie; Veronika Voss (1982) which was inspired by Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard; and his last major feature, which progressed cinematic narrative in a new and original way, Querelle (1982), adapted form the novel by Jean Genet. Fassbinder had just finished editing Querelle when he died.
The official cause of his death was “an overdose of cocaine and sleeping pills”. The cost of his lifestyle and his ambition took too great a toll. Before he died, his body had bloated from an excess of drink, food and drugs, and he once said, he became fat to make it harder to be loved. Fassbinder used his body, as he used chain-smoking, or his excessive drinking, as means to protect and distance himself from others. His sense of being unloved or, of being unworthy of love, stemmed from the parental indifference of his childhood. When he was older, he often treated his lovers and those closest to him badly, testing their loyalty and love for him. Emotionally, Fassbinder was childlike, as he always searched for that imagined lack, which would make him feel loved. It was this, Fassbinder’s own emotional biography that underscored his films.
Thirty years after his death, we can more fully appreciate the scale and quality of Fassbinder’s genius; and see the real beauty of the man who was Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
Last night on his HBO program, Real Time, Bill Maher compared OWS’s real world political gains to the Tea party’s decidedly more concrete electoral accomplishments and reveals a stark truth for the movement…
Minds have been changed, now what up, OWS?
A guest post from our esteemed, super-smart friend, Charles Hugh Smith, publisher of the Of Twos Minds blog and author of the new book, Resistance, Revolution, Liberation: A Model for Positive Change
So the root problem is the system, human nature, blah blah blah. There are no “solutions” that can fix those defaults. Thus the “solution” is collapse.
Policies create incentives and disincentives. Some are intended, some fall into the category of unintended consequences. Regardless of their intention, policies that create windfalls (“easy money”) or open spigots of “free money” (or what is perceived as free money by the recipient) quickly gather the allegiance of everyone reaping the windfall or collecting the free money.
This allegiance is soon tempered into political steel by self-justification: humans excel at rationalizing their self-interest. Thus my share of the swag is soon “absolutely essential.”
Humans don’t need much incentive to pursue windfalls or free money—seeking windfalls in the here and now is our default setting. Taking the pulpit to denounce humanity’s innate greed, avarice and selfishness doesn’t change this, as seeking short-term windfalls has offered enormous selective advantages for hundreds of thousands of years.
That which is painful to those collecting free money will be avoided, and that which is easy will be pursued until it’s painful. Borrowing $1.5 trillion a year from toddlers and the unborn taxpayers of the future is easy and painless, as toddlers have no political power. So we will borrow from the powerless to fund our free money spigots until it becomes painful.
It won’t become painful to borrow from our grandkids for quite some time, and it will probably not become progressively painful, either, because we will suppress the pain with superlow interest rates and other trickery. The pain will more likely be of the sudden, unexpected, “this can’t be happening to me” heart-attack sort: the free-money machine will unexpectedly grind to a halt in some sort of easily predictable but always-in-the-future crisis.
“Solutions” that turn off the free money spigots are non-starters, not just from self-interest but from ideology. Any attempt to tighten the spigots steps on ideological toes, as each spigot is ideologically sacred to one political camp or another.
Liberals don’t want to hear about scamming of their sacred “we must help everyone in need” welfare programs, and conservatives don’t want to hear about cartel looting of their sacred “free enterprise” system.
And so we have gridlock, what I call profound political disunity. Everybody at each trough of free money fights tooth and nail to keep their spigot wide open, and so the “solution” is to borrow 10% of the nation’s output in “free money” every year until the free-money machine breaks down.
Each ideology worships their own version of cargo-cult economics: if we wave the dead chicken over the enchanted rocks while dancing the humba-humba, prosperity and abundance will magically return and we can “grow our way out of debt.”
We’re like a sprawling family bickering over the inheritance: we’ll keep arguing over who deserves what until the inheritance is gone. That will trigger one final outburst of finger-pointing, resentment and betrayal, and then we’ll go do something else to get by.
The “solution” is thus collapse. This model has been very effectively explored in The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization by Thomas Homer-Dixon. The basic idea is that when the carrying costs of the society exceed its output, the whole contraption collapses.
The political adjunct to this systemic implosion is that the productive people just stop supporting the Status Quo because it’s become too burdensome. The calculus of self-interest shifts from supporting the bloated, marginal-return Status Quo to abandoning it.
So the root problem is the system, human nature, blah blah blah. There are no “solutions” that can fix those defaults. The “solution” is collapse, as only collapse will force everyone to go do something more sustainable to get by.
Until then, arguing about “solutions” is a sport to be enjoyed sparingly.
Here’s my latest YouTube presentation with Gordon T. Long on “Peak Everything.” Lots of interesting charts:
Charles Hugh Smith’s new book is Resistance, Revolution, Liberation: A Model for Positive Change. Read the Introduction and Chapter One here.
I realize that I keep saying this, but it’s true and the best context I can offer: Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce is one of the—I think—top two political writers in America today, the other being Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi, who is far better known. Everyone with even a passing interest about what happened with the Walker recall in Wisconsin needs to read Pierce’s spot-on post-mortem on the vote, “The Wisconsin Recall Aftermath: Scott Walker Steps Right Up into the Pocket of Those Who Got Him There.” Seriously, it’s a must-read if ever there was one and so is his blog, which I encourage you to bookmark.
I’ve been noticing with satisfaction in the past few days how some of Pierce’s posts at Esquire’s Politics blog have been zooming up the charts at reddit—and I’m trying to encourage more DM readers to discover Pierce’s writing, too—like this on-target statement about how big money/big corruption is destroying America. Apologies to Charles Pierce for snagging his entire post, but it’s too short—and the sentiments therein far too important—not to pass it on in full here:
The Rot of Citizens United Is Universal. Get Used to It.
It is a capital mistake to study the corrosive effect of the utterly corrupt Citizens United decision only in the context of the presidential contest, or in the context of other highly visible individual races, like the one for a U.S. Senate seat or last night’s Wisconsin recall. The rot in the system is poisonous, general, and spreading.
(And have I mentioned really how utterly stupid it is to have an elected judiciary, especially in the current cash-soaked political atmosphere? It is the second-worst idea ever behind the Balanced Budget Amendment, aka The Stupidest Fking Idea Of All Time.)
Very soon, there is not going to be a single political campaign, no matter how small, that directly affects anything having to do with America’s corporate power, which is practically everything, that will not be swamped by anonymous cash laundered through bagmen organized under the banner of some nobly monickered political whorehouse. (While considering the names of the front groups, it is always important to remember the blog’s favorite quote from Sam Spade, of the firm of Spade And Archer: “The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter.”) As the NYT says:
“...Justice John Paul Stevens predicted that such spending would overwhelm state court races, which would be especially harmful since judges must not only be independent but be seen to be independent as well. North Carolina is proving him right.”
Of course, I’m sure that, sometime later this week, an earnest young scribe from Politico will tell me that everything’s okay because Democrats spend money, too, and, anyway… unions! So, coming soon to your town: the $40 million race for Register of Probate, and won’t that be fun?
Earlier today, in a scene straight out of Veep (which is terrifically funny television, btw), the hapless underlings of the National Republican Congressional Committee oh-so-naively invited the entire Internet to sign a petition to repeal Obamacare, which would be webcast on LiveStream as a printer printed out each “signee.” (Who would give a shit about something as bloody boring as watching a PRINTER over the Internet, anyway? Oh, right, Republicans… I get it, I get it. Sorry, it was a brainfart).
The “Watch Your Petition Print” video feed lasted just minutes before frantic GOP staffers pulled the plug on signatories like “Grumpo Prembus,” “Barnacle Jim Long Face,” “Connie Lingus” and “Turd Sniffer.”
Sarah Palin might be a fucking idiot, but as the saying goes, a stopped clock is right twice a day. Via Politico:
“I think that the Democrats there understand that the president’s no-show represents the fact that Obama’s goose is cooked,” Palin told Greta Van Susteren on Fox News soon after networks called Walker the projected winner of the historic recall. She was referring to President Barack Obama’s decision not to campaign for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
As she denounced Obama’s “hopey changey stuff”, the former Alaska governor continued: “More and more Americans realize that what Wisconsin has just manifested via this vote … is the complete opposite of what president Obama and the White House represents today.”
Palin predicted that the Obama administration will try to downplay Walker’s victory and distance itself from the GOP’s win in Wisconsin.
“Jay Carney — can’t wait to see how he spins all this and ignores it, and President Obama himself,” she said. “They’re going to really try to distance themselves from this despite the fact that they, leading their lapdogs in the leftist media, made this a front page story for how many months? Months and months.”
She’s 100% correct.
Democrats can argue all they want that the WI recall election’s blowout conclusion has nothing to do with Obama’s electoral fortunes in the state—or nationally—but they’re just whistling past the graveyard.
It was fucking ridiculous to watch the deer-in-the-headlights pundits on MSNBC last night try to spin Walker’s victory AS IF it was, in fact, good news for Obama.
By that standard the 2010 election must have been terrific for Democrats also…
Oh no you dit-ten…