fpb: (Athena of Pireus)
I have a suspicion that when a business becomes invincible, when its market position makes it so unchallenged that its leaders are more in the position of hereditary barons than of anyone who has to work to live - even at a very high level - sooner or later a sort of greed for destruction sets in, and they start making decisions that can only be interpreted as weariness of life - as suicide - at least as corporate leaders. So Ford make the Edsel, and Pan Am make a half-dozen decisions that cancel it from the face of the Earth, and Microsoft make Vista.
I think this incredible free comics day from DC belongs to the same area of unconscious greed for self-destruction. I will certainly not take a single one of their 52 free comics; at zero dollars each, they cost at least $520,000.00 more than I think they are worth. In other words, you would have to pay me at least $10,000 to read a single one of the 52. In the words of someone who has gone through the degrading experience, "the whole [story] is a bloodbath in which all the DC heroes are hacked apart and assimilated by some Borg-like Big Bad who's taken over the world. Bruce Wayne, mortally wounded after having his arm graphically chopped off, sends his protege back in time to fix it." And the poor sod in question never even demanded his £10,000 per free comic in advance. What, seriously, does this express, except a weariness and hatred and desire to violate the characters to whom these corporate stooges own their position and their wages? Is this not an infantile fantasy of revenge against things you can no longer bear to see daily? Does it not feel as though DiDio and his helotry feel the very fantasy entity that makes DC as a suffocating, hateful construct that they, consciously or unconsciously, would like to destroy and pervert? How else can it be explained?
But if that is what is actually going on,then their plight is even more miserable than it sounds. They cannot even destroy their company, even with business decisions compared with which the Edsel was a model of fresh, economical, functional, quality engineering. They certainly seem to intend to salt the fields: "Free Comic Book Day" is supposed to attract new readers - and those new readers are treated to a story that Freddy Kruger would think over the top (Wonder Woman's head on a spike...). There goes the reputation of superheroes, to a generation that at any rate looks at games, TV shows and anime first (compare the number of Buffy or Sailor Moon fanfics on the net with the number of Superman or Avengers ones). The supremacy of comics in the lives of kids, that scared Dr.Wertham so much seventy years ago, is now not even a memory; and from now on thousands more kids will regard superhero comics as boring, depressing, and basically worthless. As the Destroyer said to Hela in Simonson's Thor: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
But DC is not its own master and cannot die until TimeWarner says so. And TimeWarner may be a big, stupid corporation, prone to similar errors, but it is still too big to even notice a loss in a corner of its empire that it uses mainly as an R&D department and source of useful franchises. So DiDio and his minions will continue to make a living from concepts and characters they secretly loathe, and Warner will continue to make bad Superman movies and wonder why the character needs to be rebooted every five years.
fpb: (Athena of Pireus)
This is without a doubt the most horrifying piece of news yet to come out of the Western side of the Cold War.
it seems that the American military had effectively worked to remove the supposed control over nuclear weapon from the President, and effectively allow any four officers who wished to to launch a missile. The considerations behind this piece of total insanity were purely military: suppose the C-in-C were disabled or otherwise unable to react, there could be no effective response to any kind of Soviet aggression. Well, DUH!! If the President had been taken out of the equation, then the war leadership would be probably gone, and all that would be left would be stupid, uncoordinated slaughter. Besides, the point with atomic weapon was not to use them, but to avoid using them, and above all to prevent the other side using them. Say what you will about mutual assured destruction, but it kept two power groups that hated each other's guts from replying the horrible, destructive folly of the two world wars.

But never mind the "Dr.Strangelove" option with four junior officers just deciding to go off and fire a Minuteman rocket on their own. Do you have the least idea what would have happened if this piece of idiocy by US armed forces had ever got out? NATO would have been finished, that's what. Are any of you old enough to remember the huge pacifist demonstrations of 1980-1982? I was there, and I can tell you what they were about. They were not Communist-led or pro-Russian; almost everyone who took part despised Soviet Russia as a backward, vicious tyranny. They were about the feeling that the USA were playing dice with the lives and future of Europeans. If WWIII ever came, it would have been fought in Europe. Every one of us was aware of that; many had been through military service - most European armies at the time were still conscript - and we were all aware that we were constantly staring down a lot of Russian barrels. We hated the idea that the American forces could essentially use our countries as a nuclear chessboard. That being the case, I can tell you with absolute certainty that if the European public had known that the armed aliens in their midst could launch nuclear strikes virtually at will, and that they had deliberately cut out both the US civilian leadership AND the European governments, there would have been a political earthquake. No country from Norway to Turkey and from West Germany to Portugal would have allowed a single American soldier to remain on its territory. It would have been the end of the alliance. And for that alone one has to say that the generals who had this bright idea were stupid beyond criminality.

Yet more evidence that "war is too important a matter to leave to generals" (Georges Clemenceau said that, and he knew a thing or two about it). It is an ugly thought that, today, an army that was capable of such folly remains the most respected - or at least least despised - institution in America. A few generations of corrupt and incompetent politicians have salted the fields of democratic institutions, making half the population hate one half of government and the other half the other. Let us just hope that we don't pay for this collective loss of faith.


Jul. 21st, 2014 10:48 am
fpb: (Athena of Pireus)
The narrow defeat of the Obama administration in the Hobby Lobby case has sent its supporters into ecstases of rage and hate that have to be seen to be believed, and that in some cases can only be described as murderous. I am glad I don't live in the USA. But this fury, that bewilders many conservatives and independents, does not bewilder me. The Mandate was criminal from the beginning, criminal in its prehistory. Remember how deliberately the President lied to poor Bart Stupak and destroyed his career. And the Mandate is really much more basic to the Obama project than people realize, because they can't see its actual purpose. Le me draw a historical parallel.

Ireland has one of the saddest modern histories of any country in the world. Repeatedly invaded and devastated by the larger neighbouring island, its Catholic majority was reduced to a pulverized peasantry, paying tax they could not afford to Protestant landlords and being tithed for Protestant parsons; a miserable swarm of penniless, ignorant and leaderless grubbers of the soil, fed by potatoes, with no middle class or aristocracy or any consistency. But what you have to realize is that, the destruction of the Irish educated classes, in spite of the frightful massacres and repeated wars, were not the result of military oppression or even of mass murder; they were, in the main, the result of laws. England wrote dozens, indeed hundreds,of laws, to destroy the Irish nation as elaborately and as legally as possible. As the Irish Protestant Edmund Burke said, the English laws against Irish Catholics - or "penal laws", as they are shamefully called - were "a complete system, full of coherence and consistency, well digested and well composed in all its parts. It was a machine of wise and deliberate contrivance, as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment and degradation of a people, and the debasement of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man.”

The Mass, of course, could not be said: to have it said or to say it meant life imprisonment. But neither could Catholics be educated: to set up a Catholic school was equally a matter of life imprisonment. And Catholics were to be robbed by law: "Every Roman Catholic was... to forfeit his estate to his nearest Protestant relation, until, through a profession of what he did not believe, he redeemed by his hypocrisy what the law had transferred to the kinsman as the recompense of his profligacy." The law encouraged Protestants to steal from their Catholic relations, or even pretended relations; and not just large amounts, but everything - every bit of property they had. "When thus turned out of doors from his paternal estate, he was disabled from acquiring any other by any industry, donation, or charity; but was rendered a foreigner in his native land, only because he retained the religion, along with the property, handed down to him from those who had been the old inhabitants of that land before him."

"....Catholics, condemned to beggary and to ignorance in their native land, have been obliged to learn the principles of letters, at the hazard of all their other principles, from the charity of your enemies. They have been taxed to their ruin at the pleasure of necessitous and profligate relations, and according to the measure of their necessity and profligacy,"

"Examples of this are many and affecting. Some of them are known by a friend who stands near me in this hall. It is but six or seven years since a clergyman, of the name of Malony, a man of morals, neither guilty nor accused of anything noxious to the state, was condemned to perpetual imprisonment for exercising the functions of his religion; and after lying in jail two or three years, was relieved by the mercy of government from perpetual imprisonment, on condition of perpetual banishment. A brother of the Earl of Shrewsbury, a Talbot, a name respectable in this country whilst its glory is any part of its concern, was hauled to the bar of the Old Bailey, among common felons, and only escaped the same doom, either by some error in the process, or that the wretch who brought him there could not correctly describe his person,—I now forget which. In short, the persecution would never have relented for a moment, if the judges, superseding (though with an ambiguous example) the strict rule of their artificial duty by the higher obligation of their conscience, did not constantly throw every difficulty in the way of such informers. But so ineffectual is the power of legal evasion against legal iniquity, that it was but the other day that a lady of condition, beyond the middle of life, was on the point of being stripped of her whole fortune by a near relation to whom she had been a friend and benefactor; and she must have been totally ruined, without a power of redress or mitigation from the courts of law, had not the legislature itself rushed in, and by a special act of Parliament rescued her from the injustice of its own statutes..."

It says enough about the power of brute prejudice, of a kind we see in the highest places today, that this unanswerable attack on a disgraceful law lost Burke an election he should have won. The English had been taught to hate Catholics so much that they evidently thought that nothing done to them could be wrong or unjust.

What the Mandate is designed to do, mutatis mutandis, is exactly this. This is why the political and media leadership of your country has fought for it so obstinately, so savagely, and so underhandedly; this is why it took even a narrow defeat with murderous rage. It is because the real purpose of this abomination is to exclude Christians and especially Catholics from economic life. In a world in which money is the only power that can really affect politics - as Obama and his people know all too well - it is intolerable to them that there should be a number, however small, of rich people and of company owners who take their Christianity seriously. In this day and age it is not yet possible to make it legal for a man of the government's party to simply steal the property of his dissenting relatives; and besides, there is not - or not yet - a simple test of identity to separate the government's friends from its enemies, as membership in the "Protestant" church was in Burke's time. But they can impose a tax for a purpose that no Christian can accept, and then savagely penalize them - not by jailing them, which is not what they want, but by fining them into ruin.

Look at it in this light, and the whole mechanism becomes lucid, clear, rational and perfectly designed for its purpose. It is intended to make it impossible for Christians to have any independent economic activity in the USA, by making sure that they either have to resign their principles or be taxed into bankruptcy for them. Of course, they could not possibly declare their purpose; of course they lied from beginning to end. But that, and nothing else, is what this Mandate does.

Incidentally, this also gives you an insight into the real view that Obama and his henchmen have of the political process in your country, and of the nature of political power. This law is not meant to strike at Catholic or Christian faith. It does not try to obtain conversions. It does not set up anything like the imposing apparatus by which republican France, after 1875, worked tirelessly to break the ancestral Catholicism of its masses. The only thing that matters, the thing for which they have fought, the thing for which they have lied, the thing for which they ruined Bart Stupak and compromised the word of the President of the United States of America, was to be sure that no rich Catholics or Christians should exist. Wealth had to remain exclusively among people who had no problem with paying tax to distribute IUDs and abortifacients with a shovel. Because in the eyes of Obama and his crowd, only the very rich are politically significant. This attempt to winnow the Christians from their numbers makes it perfectly clear.
fpb: (Default)
This strikes me as one of those things of which people should say that just because you can do it, it doesn't mean you should. In fact, you shouldn't. The amount of things that could go wrong, and that will, is so enormous as to immensely outweigh any potential good that could be done to any child who was, ex hypothesi, so uncharacteristically clear about such things, and so open about the mattter, as to give a trustworthy answer to the question. This seems to me like an invitation to children to treat their own body and identity as something to play games with, to follow adult suggestions (the idea that all adult experts will be honest and trustworthy,clear about themselves and about their reasons, and not out to prove personal theories or indulge hobby-horses, is nothing except laughable), to receive and seek suggestions they would never have received, and, in the upshot, to have their lives ruined.

Let me be clear: I know that such things happen. As it happens, and by pure chance, I have had more experience of real transsexuals than almost anyone who is not a professional in the field. But one of the things I have seen at close hands is that twelve is much too early to know. The TS I have known have made their decisions well into adulthood - one, indeed, in his/her fifties. To give a child a choice in such a matter is criminally dangerous. And yes, I know that children who become TS often have a hard time: two people have told me so, independently of each other, with long stories of their grim times as children. But does anyone know how many OTHER children have hard times? A happy childhood is by no means the norm, and what is more teen-agers are inherently self-dramatizing and tend to treat their lives as miserable even when they aren't. You want to give a child whom you would not trust to vote which corrupt politician should steal your money, or to drive a goddamn car, with a decision that could ruin every living moment of his or her remaining life? Are you quite demented, good people and ruling classes of Britain?
fpb: (Default)
One of the habits of mind induced by a Marxist education is to consider the economic and political battlefield as a zero-sum game. This lasts even after any belief in socialism has died out, and results in the frequently observed phenomenon that ex-Marxists and ex-Communists make the most brutal, rapacious and conscienceless capitalists. It is, in particular, incredibly easy to spot in the destructive and profoundly stupid behaviour of the People's Republic of China.

This government, knowing perfectly well that international Islamism is at least as much its enemy as the West's, nonetheless looks with unconcealed sympathy and support to the Iranian government's pursuit of the atom bomb, and looks for advantage and alliances in the Islamist fever-swamp that is the government of Sudan. As far as they are concerned, anything that diminishes their imagined enemies in the West, however dangerous and destructive, must necessarily be to their advantage. That the West and China might both lose out if the maniacs of Tehran build an atom bomb does not begin to cross their minds. That there might be mutual advantage in fostering order in the region would never seem to them anything but a piece of pied-piper propaganda intended to get them to perform to their enemies' tune.

Some apologists for Beijing say that Chinese foreign policy is driven by the need to secure sources of raw materials; but this is nothing but a different manifestation of the same pathology. The fact is that raw materials are available to anyone who can afford to pay the going rate. Japan and Italy, two countries who have to import every major industrial raw material from iron to oil, have rarely had any problem. It is only in the mythology of ignorant (by choice) hard left groups, that the Americans have invaded Iraq "to steal its oil": that oil was available to them freely without the expense of a war, as is any mineral from bauxite to zircon. Only China does not think in terms of competing for resources on a free market; it wants to "secure sources of raw materials" - language that should concern any mining country from Congo to Australia.

The one reason that makes this kind of talk a bit less irrational is itself a product of the same post-Marxist zero-sum-game attitudes. China is effectively at a disadvantage on the market for raw materials; not because it does not have army bases in Iraq, but because its currency is notoriously undervalued. And it is undervalued for a purpose: to maximize the Chinese competitive advantage in industrial exports. The same juggling with exchange rates that allows Chinese manufacturares to destroy whole areas of competing Western enterprise, also makes it more expensive for them to buy the raw materials they need. But since the zero-sum-game mentality inevitably leads to paranoia, the Chinese don't think of the remedy - allowing the renminbi to reach its natural market value. As they are always looking out for enemy conspiracies to do them down, they would interpret such a suggestion as an attempt to rig the market in favour of their enemies.

The aggressive Chinese export drive, backed by a massive industrial espionage apparatus, has been unsettling Western economies for decades. The West long ago made a strategic decision to do nothing about it: the prospect of inserting the huge and dangerous empire of Mao Zedong into the world of civilized exchange and industrial progress seemed worth the pain of accepting aggressive competition and dubious pricing. However, when purely internal Western follies brought about a severe resettlement of American finance, the Bush II and Obama administrations did not try too hard to rescue the dollar. They, too, had discovered the game of overcharging for imports and undercharging for exports, and badly needed to find ways to raise employment.

This left the Euro alone on the top of a mountain. The result is the sluggish economy that conservative Americans make so much of. No matter how efficient and high-quality may be the Eurozone's productive sector, it is difficult to compete with rivals of whom the largest deliberately allow their currencies to float at well below ours. And that is, in my view, the reason for the otherwise disconcerting lack of eagerness about rescuing Greece. Greece has certainly been placed in the national equivalent of administration, and will have to go through the most painful process of internal change in generations. But the truth is that the current slide of the Euro is getting the real big boys of the Eurozone - Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy - out of a situation for which they had absolutely no enthusiasm. The truth is that nobody wanted the Euro to be the world's new reserve currency, and certainly not at this price. The result, however, is that, with the dollar, the euro and the renminbi racing each other to the bottom, the world no longer has a real reserve currency.

What we need is a new Bretton Woods. The trouble is that it took a world war and fifty million dead to get the survivors to agree to the first Bretton Woods, and I doubt that anything today could make the same impression.


fpb: (Default)

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