Yes. Yes I am. Part deux of Maureen Farrell's 3-part series is here, and she sets the record straight.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Yay! Christmastime is here!
I didn’t hear my first Christmas carol until the day after Thanksgiving. It was Dr. John’s version of “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer.” It was followed by all the classics by Bing, Frank, Dino, Ray Charles, John Denver and of course those lovable Chipmunks. Needless to say, I was SHOPPING.
Yes, shopping. That is how we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior in America. We shop. And shop and shop and shop. And fight and shop and fight. And shop.
Four days ago, on my way home from work, I saw a man beating his son (presumably it was his son) while attempting to hang a string of Christmas lights on the front awning of his house. The string of Christmas lights was hopelessly tangled as they always are this time of year, and the boy, who looked to be about seven or eight years old, had carelessly walked directly into the massive snarl. The dad instantly dropped the focus of his labors and grabbed the kid’s sweatshirt with his left hand and walloped him repeatedly with his right. Jesus would have been proud.
Or he IS proud. That’s what I meant to say. I keep forgetting that he’s not some guy who got killed by the Romans 2,000 years ago, but a living, infinite being with whom I can forge a meaningful bond.
Anyway, to honor this Son of God who Died for Our Sins, we must shop. And decorate our dwellings with garish symbols of pre-Christian paganism. And shop.
I have not yet heard of any occurrences of the annual separation-of-church-and-state fracases that seem to accompany this glorious season, but no doubt they are right around the corner. Some hyper-Christian civil servant will erect a manger scene in a government center somewhere and the Secularists will raise their angry voices in protest. The ACLU will be called upon, once again, to set the situation to rights and the Christian symbols will be replaced by pagan ones. But as Molly Ivins once famously observed, erecting a Nativity scene is probably the only way to get three wise men in a government building.
From all this, you might be inclined to believe that Big Daddy Malcontent hates Christmas, but nothing can be further from the truth. As mentioned above, Christmastime has pagan origins. The ancient Germans would mark the shortest day of the year by gathering with family and friends to eat, drink and be merry in an effort to fortify themselves against the coming winter doldrums. And, if times were good, they would exchange a gift or two in honor of the friendships without which life would be dreary. Decades of conflict with the Romans hipped Caesar to the tradition, proving that good can come from bad. As the Roman Empire morphed into the Holy Roman Empire, these German traditions became the accepted method for celebrating the birth of Jesus.
So, whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa or some nebulous incarnation of the seasonal merriment, the central theme remains the same: Peace on Earth and Goodwill Toward Men. Lack of it is at the heart of Big Daddy’s malcontentedness, so naturally he is Down with Christmas. Peace.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
At least one other blogger knows the democratic process is a ruse. Check out Maureen Farrell's excellent post on Buzzflash. She displays several instances in which corporate hegemony played both sides of a conflict, just as I mentioned here.
NOTE: It says "Part 1 of a 3-part series." Check back for the continuation.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
“Since thinking about conspiracies is neither illegal, nor immoral, nor fattening, I have often wondered why people have such a powerful taboo against examining who owns and runs this nation.” – Robert Anton Wilson
As you can probably tell from our last post, Big Daddy Malcontent has a conspiracy theory streak in him running deep and wide. This has probably alienated some of Big Daddy’s readers, since conspiracy theorists are typically viewed as paranoid stoners or rightwing survivalists. Rest assured, Big Daddy is neither; he simply believes that the corporate mindset is determined to systematically suck all that is good, honest and right out of everything it touches. Music, film, fashion, literature, journalism, art, politics, finance, industry, science and just about every other aspect of human endeavor bears the bite marks of the corporate vampire.
To put people’s minds at rest (or to agitate them further), Big Daddy has compiled this list of conspiratorial concepts in which he believes and doesn’t believe.
Big Daddy Malcontent believes…
that the main$tream media are controlled by a combination of covert government propaganda elements such as Operation Mockingbird1., and a narrow corporate agenda dictated by hawkish, self-absorbed social Darwinists like Jack Welch2., Rupert Murdoch3. and the Saudi Royal Family4.;
that America’s education system was set up by a military industrial complex bent on mass-producing ignorant, obedient soldier-laborers5.;
that the main purpose of television is to maintain a nation of frightened, paranoid consumers who relentlessly seek refuge in sports, junk food, unnecessary pharmaceutical products and unneeded material possessions6.;
that a significant portion of the car- and suicide-bombings in Iraq are actually being perpetrated by US and British elements bent on prolonging the conflict thereby maximizing profits for Halliburton and the Carlyle Group7., and that the dramatic increase in Afghanistan’s opium production in the post-9/11 era is directly benefiting said US and British elements8.;
that terrorist actions like the Lockerbie Bombing9. and the car-bombing that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri10. were probably perpetrated by US and/or British intelligence agents, and that said agents have either created or infiltrated terror cells throughout the world which they use to eliminate threats and manipulate the public11.;
that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated by elements within the Bush Administration led by Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, Asst. Sec of Def. Paul Wolfowitz; Marvin Bush12. (the president’s brother), and various other government and corporate entities for the purpose of decreasing domestic civil liberties and increasing covert and overt military actions in resource rich regions throughout the world13.;
that the Pentagon is controlled by corporate interests;
that the assassinations of JFK, RFK, MLK, Malcolm X, Fred Hampton and others were carried out by a coalition of CIA, FBI, KKK and Mafia elements;
and that the international drug trade is, by turns, tolerated, condoned and operated by the same elements;
Big Daddy Malcontent does not believe…
in UFOs (however, belief in UFOs may have been manipulated as a cover for super-secret weapons programs);
that a massive UN army is poised for attack at the Canadian border;
that the UN is evil (however, attempts to usurp the UN for the benefit of dark corporate interests may have rendered the UN evil);
that water fluoridation is a communist plot;
Big Daddy Malcontent believes that even these conspiracy theories reveal both a well-justified mistrust of America’s leadership, and evidence that the media’s campaign to frighten and confuse the citizenry has been largely successful. Big Daddy believes you should turn off the television. And get some exercise. And read more. If you’re not sure what to read, Big Daddy recommends you start here14. And here15. And here16. And here17., here18. and here19.. Big Daddy Malcontent believes organized religion (not religious belief, mind you) exists to subjugate and manipulate the populace20.. As Gore Vidal once put it, “A cult is a religion that lacks political clout.”
The existence of conspiracies can hardly be argued. What can be argued is the nature of the conspiracies, and who is carrying them out. But, as Robert Anton Wilson observed, “most ‘good citizens’ would rather die, even in prolonged torture, than to face the facts.” Construction and deletion is how psychologists describe this phenomenon. We form mental constructs – that America stands for freedom and justice, for example – and delete any data that seems to contradict the constructs. As the central deity in the Church of the Sub Genius, J.R. “Bob” Dobbs instructs21., “The major errors by which most people are deceived are (1) the belief that our rulers are dumb, and (2) the belief that they mean well. They are not dumb and they don’t mean well.”
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Whenever someone utters the word, ‘philosopher,’ most people think of Plato, Aristotle, John Locke, Baruch Spinoza, Rene Descartes, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre and so on. But I would argue that there is a philosopher that has had a much greater impact on modern history than any of these gents. His name is Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.
Hegel was fascinated with the idea of conflict in thought, as in, self vs. other; authority vs. freedom; knowledge vs. faith, etc. He felt that the human mind was the only place where the different stages of these conflicts could exist simultaneously, forming a mélange that made up the individual’s worldview. This conflict between a thesis and an antithesis forms a synthesis that incorporates elements of both; Hegel called this phenomenon ‘dialectic,’ which comes from the Greek word dialektikē, which means ‘art of debate.’
When applied to world events, the Hegellian Dialectic can be used to intelligently observe conflicting ideologies and accurately predict or even influence the conflicts’ outcomes. The well-positioned string-puller – Aristotle Onassis or the Carlyle Group, say – can even benefit by aiding both sides in the conflict.
A number of private organizations have been established for the purpose of doing just that. The Trilateral Commission, The Bilderberg Group, Skull and Bones, Council on Foreign Relations and other more obscure organizations exist to control the debate – to prevail no matter which choice is made by the masses. Whether the masses choose the liberal, anti-war candidate (Kerry) or the conservative hawk (Bush), the winner is an insider – a member of the club. If the winner fucks up, the way Bush has, the masses go running into the arms of the other guy – in this case, John Kerry, or, more accurately, his running mate, John Edwards.
It’s good cop-bad cop. Target or Wal-Mart. Coke or Pepsi. No matter which one is chosen, the power structure that produced the choice triumphs, and outsiders lose.
It is interesting to note, for example, that lumber baron Frederick Weyerhaeuser and early environmentalist Gifford Pinchot were both Skull and Bones members, as, of course, were 2004 presidential campaign rivals John Kerry and George W. Bush. Arch conservative British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and “New Democrat” Bill Clinton each got early political boosts following visits to the Bilderberg Group. And Cecil Rhodes’ scholarship fund, established – according his will – for the purpose of “the extension of British rule throughout the world,” has aided such conservative stalwarts as CIA director R. James Woolsey and Supreme Court Justice David Souter and such noted liberals as Kris Kristofferson, Bill Bradley and Strobe Talbott.
But these organizations weren’t established out of some diabolical desire to rule the world; on the contrary, the impulse was altruistic. It’s just that from the relatively narrow perspective of the early bankers and industrialists, the masses – especially the non-white ones – needed guidance that only their superior intellects could provide. As Carroll Quigley observes in Tragedy and Hope, these “were gracious and cultured gentlemen of somewhat limited social experience who were much concerned with the freedom of expression of minorities and the rule of law for all, who constantly thought in terms of Anglo-American solidarity, of political partition and federation, and who were convinced that they could gracefully civilize the Boers of South Africa, the Irish, the Arabs, and the Hindus, and who are largely responsible for the partitions of Ireland, Palestine, and India, as well as the federations of South Africa, Central Africa, and the West Indies.” So, it seems today’s predicament is more a failure of good intentions than a design of bad ones. But that doesn’t make things any better for us. If anything, it makes things worse because it is so difficult to tell where the incompetence ends and the shameless profiteering begins. Exacerbating matters is the fact that the bankers and industrialists who started this scam are long gone, and in their place is a coterie of shallow thinkers who are in every way inferior to their predecessors.
The latest incarnation of the Hegellian Dialectic is the sudden effort by Democrats to capitalize from the Bush Administration’s blunders in Iraq. First, war profiteer Dianne Feinstein tells Wolf Blitzer she was duped into supporting the war. Next, former vice presidential candidate and Bilderberg guest John Edwards declares he “was wrong” to support the war in Iraq. What we the people are supposed to believe is that voting the Democrats back into office will constitute a real change in leadership, but nothing could be further from the truth.
As Quigley famously opined, “The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies – one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left – is a foolish idea. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can throw the rascals out at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy. The policies that are vital and necessary for America are no longer subjects of significant disagreement, but are disputable only in detail, procedure, priority, or method.”
So, while the voting half of the republic argues about pointless side issues like gun control and abortion, the corporate locomotive chugs along unhindered. The tragedy isn’t simply that the electoral process into which so many have invested their aspirations is a hoax; the tragedy is that things like the environment, education, healthcare and true human progress – if considered at all – are merely done so as products that generate profits for two wings of the same corporate power structure. I doubt if that was what Hegel had in mind.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Ahmed Chalabi is a scoundrel of the first order. He is a central figure in the "Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal" that former Colin Powell aide Larry Wilkerson says has hijacked American foreign policy.
So, what is he doing in Washington today?
Why, he's there to help is cabal-mates get their story straight amid a wave of scandal regarding falsified pre-war intelligence, of course. This guy's rap sheet is so long, it is a miracle of modern politicking that he is even still alive, let alone poised to assume the reins of the country he helped ruin.
With the help of Chalabi, Diebold and the administration's minions in the supposedly liberal media, America's reins of power have been siezed in a (mostly) bloodless coup d'etat.
Posted by Big Daddy Malcontent at 6:27 AM
Monday, November 07, 2005
The other monolithic figure of early modern banking was the House of Morgan. Led by the notorious J.P. Morgan (junior and senior), the Morgan bank stood atop the international financial world for over a century, controlling railroads, telegraph networks, mining concerns, shipping lines, lumber, oil and steel conglomerates and greatly influencing the politics of four continents. At its height, the House of Morgan simultaneously symbolized all that is good and bad about American capitalism. J.P. Morgan was an original patron of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, gave generously to the American Museum of Natural History and St. Luke’s Hospital, kept a seldom-occupied box at the Metropolitan Opera and helped launch the legendary Groton prep school. At the same time, his bank loaned money to fascist Italy, bankrolled Mussolini’s American P.R. campaign and financed wars on at least three continents.
Morgan, along with the other influential banks of the day, National City Bank, Kuhn Loeb and Co., and Brown Bros. Harriman, ushered in the era of globalism that now dominates international trade; and their “gentleman Banker’s Code” would be considered insider trading by today’s standards. Nevertheless, for good or ill, the House of Morgan was instrumental in America’s rise to its present position as the world’s lone superpower.
Like the Rothschilds before it, the House of Morgan has humble beginnings. Originally called the House of Peabody, the bank was founded by a rags-to-riches Baltimore dry-goods merchant named George Peabody. Peabody dropped out of school when his father died and went to work in his brother’s shop to support his widowed mother and six siblings. His flair for business gained him the capital to move to Baltimore and buy into a partnership with successful merchant Elisha Riggs, whom he met while fighting in the War of 1812. Together, Peabody and Riggs worked their way to the top of Baltimore’s merchant class.
In 1835, like most of the other former British colonies, Maryland was saddled with debt. They had taken out loans from London banks to finance railroads and canals, which they hoped would spur business and foster trade. When the new commerce failed to materialize, Maryland, like several other states, found herself in a financial pickle. Local hatred toward foreign bankers caused state legislatures to threaten to renege on the loans, and Peabody was selected to lead a commission to renegotiate the debt. Peabody successfully argued that only more loans would assure repayment of the old ones, and secured an additional $8 million for Maryland.
While in London, Peabody fell in love with the business and lifestyles of the city’s merchant bankers, and he decided to move there and form his own bank. In 1837, with a loan from Riggs, he did just that, setting up Peabody, Riggs and Co. at the prestigious address of 31 Moorgate in London. Now he was shoulder-to-shoulder with such banking luminaries as the Baring Brothers, who had financed the Louisiana Purchase, and the aforementioned Rothschilds.
But it was an uphill battle for Peabody in this new enterprise. State after state reneged on interest payments, and five American governors formed a debtor’s cartel leveraging for debt repudiations. Peabody’s partner, Riggs, wanted out of the arrangement, and Peabody was forced to go it alone. Moreover, entry into the celebrated society of British bankers – already difficult for an American – became impossible under the cloud of defaulted American loans.
But Peabody’s neighbor, the Barings Bank, was also stuck with defaulted bond issues, and together the two houses concocted a scheme to get the states back on good footing. The plot involved such shameless acts as paying newspapers to run editorials in favor of debt repayment, establishing a political slush fund to be used for electing (mostly Whig) pro-debt repayment legislators and even convincing clergymen to preach on the moral sanctity of contracts. They even bribed the orator and statesman Daniel Webster to make speeches on the topic.
The ploy worked. With a couple of exceptions, the depreciated state bonds that Peabody had bought up resumed interest payments, and Peabody reaped a fortune. Later, with revolution in Europe, a gold rush in California and a war with Mexico, American securities became the safe bet and the House of Peabody’s standing among the London merchant bankers was cemented.
Though known for his philanthropy later in his life, Peabody was friendless miser. “I have never forgotten and never can forget the great privations of my early years,” he once told an acquaintance. This scar upon his memory greatly affected his attitude toward money, and some have observed that the philanthropy for which he is remembered today was little more than an attempt to repair his reputation as a tightfisted loner.
Junius Morgan, who had become Peabody’s partner in 1854, later recounted an episode that perfectly illustrates Peabody’s stinginess. Upon arriving to work one morning, Morgan found Peabody at his desk looking pale and feverish. “Mr. Peabody, with that cold you ought not to stick here,” Morgan suggested. Peabody reluctantly agreed and proceeded home. Twenty minutes later, while on his way to the Royal Exchange, Morgan came upon Peabody standing in the driving rain. “I thought you were going home,” exclaimed Morgan. “Well I am, Morgan,” Peabody replied. “But there’s only been a two-penny bus come along as yet and I am waiting for a penny one.”
Peabody’s Parsimony extended to other matters, as well. In 1854, when Junius Spencer Morgan became Peabody’s only partner, part of the agreement was that in ten years’ time, Peabody would leave the reins – and the firm’s name – to Morgan. After nearly 30 years of work, the House of Peabody had become one of the pillars of international finance; continuing the name would help assure continued success. But in 1864, even as he was donating thousands to charities all over the world, he refused Morgan use of the Peabody name.
“It was, at that time, the bitterest disappointment of [his] life that Peabody refused to allow the old firm name to be continued,” Morgan’s grandson recalled. Morgan reluctantly changed the name to J.S. Morgan and Company.
Despite Peabody’s stinginess in personal matters, he was generous in his endowments to a wide variety of charities. He formed a trust fund to build housing for London’s poor. Called Peabody Estates, they had gas lamps and running water, unlike the fetid hovels that had hitherto served as the city’s poorhouses. The trust fund continues today, financing subsidized housing in London. He endowed a natural history museum at Yale, an archeology and ethnology museum at Harvard and an educational fund for emancipated southern blacks. Each of these gifts bore the Peabody name, which is why he is remembered even today for his philanthropy.
“Unlike later Morgan benefactions, often anonymous and discreet,” notes The House of Morgan author, Ron Chernow, “Peabody wanted his name plastered on every library, fund, or museum he endowed.” Unfortunately for Morgan, this did not extend to his banking house. “Perhaps in his new sanctity,” Chernow adds, “he wanted to erase his name from the financial map and enshrine it in the world of good works.”
When Peabody died in 1869, the British government prepared a grave for him at Westminster Abbey in an effort to recognize his generous endowment to London’s poor. But Peabody’s wish was to be buried in his birthplace, Danvers, Massachusetts. So, Queen Victoria arranged for his body to be transported stateside upon The Monarch, England’s newest and most formidable warship.
In 1946, Thomas Lamont, chairman of J.P. Morgan and Co., asked Lord Bicester, senior partner of Morgan Grenfell, the London branch of the bank, for a copy of Queen Victoria’s letter thanking Peabody for aiding London’s poor. Bicester replied in part:
“I have always understood that Mr. Peabody, though known as a great philanthropist, was one of the meanest men that ever walked…I believe he left several illegitimate children unprovided for.”
Check back later for more on J.P. Morgan and Co.
Saturday, November 05, 2005
I was living in San Francisco during the first Gulf War. One Saturday there was an immense protest march starting in the Mission district and ending downtown where a long list of speakers and performers had gathered to lash out at Bush the Elder. Most estimates put the crowd at around 500,000—nearly the population of the city itself—and indeed at the crest of every hill one could see marchers 20 or 30 abreast snaking endlessly through the streets. Aging hippies, skate punks, nuns, soldiers, teachers, bikers, dykes-on-bikes, blacks, Hispanics, Asians and just about every other human category was well represented.
Afterwards, my roommates and I raced home to see if we could catch a glimpse of ourselves or any of our friends on the evening news. To our naive surprise, the local news spent about 15 minutes of its broadcast—an eternity in the TV news biz—interviewing the dozen or so pro-war demonstrators who had gathered near the Alameda naval base. At the very end of the broadcast, the slick Beautiful Person who was reading the TelePrompTer that evening said, “Several thousand demonstrators marched to protest the war. Now this.”
“Well, those news guys know which side their bread is buttered on,” quipped my older and more jaded roommate.
I am therefore not surprised that the main$tream media utterly ignored Thursday’s anti-war demonstrations across the country. A little nudge from the Fourth Estate is all it would take to send George W. Douche and his coven of cronies toppling, but General Electric, Disney, Viacom and the other oligarchs won’t allow it.
The main$tream media aren’t driven simply by greed and laziness as Al Franken contends; they are driven by blatant pro-corporate, pro-administration, pro-war ideology. The only reason anything ‘liberal’ ever makes it into primetime is the M$M’s desperate attempt to maintain the illusion of objectivity, and the dumber we get, the easier their job becomes.