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You’re so cute when your angry

James Buchanan

Gail Collins has an editorial in the NYTimes this morning about how those of us who see the Obama years as a colossal failure are wrong.  Apparently, there was some poll commissioned that revealed that many people think Obama is the worst president since WWII.  I personally don’t think this is true.  No, I think he might rank right up there with Buchanan. So, that predates the Civil War.  And the reason I think this is because under Obama, the plutocrats have gained so much ground that we average working people will have to replay the entire twentieth century to gain it back.

I’m getting pretty tired of hearing from serious and semi-serious people (I’m looking at you Paul Krugman), that those of us who desperately wanted a true Democrat in 2008 are now closet Republicans and racists because we aren’t sufficiently supportive of Obama’s many subtle “achievements”.  I guess you just have to be a poor schlub to really

Warren Harding, he’s so dreamy

understand what has been lost.  It does not help their cause when they tell us we have no right to be angry at the positively shitty job Obama has done since he was elected.  He’s made stupid excuses for his fecklessness ever since he took office and his chorus line has been saying “It’s not his fauuuuult.  He inherited all this crap from the Bushies!” since before the inauguration.  If he didn’t think he could handle the job, he shouldn’t have run.  He should have stepped aside for more qualified candidates.

The NYTimes also has a short article on internal and instrumental motivations.  It turns out that internal motivations, like liking what you are doing, having an interest in it and striving to be the best, are more important to success than instrumental motivations like fame, fortune and promotions.  In Obama, we see a perfect example of internal versus instrumental motivations.  He may have gotten the fame and renown, but as a president interested in using politics to govern well and carry out his vision, he sucks.

Please stop trying to tell us he’s not that bad.  He is.  The fact that we are even debating whether his legacy is in the same league as Warren Harding is telling and if the ACA gets cemented in place, there will be many future generations who will curse his name for hooking them up like cash cows to the insurance industry.

Thank god it will all be over by 2016 and we can look at the smoking ruins and start to rebuild.

Judicial Mischief

Well, that didn’t take long.  The ink had barely dried on the Hobby Lobby case before a.) we learned that the ruling actually applied to *all* birth control, not just the ones Hobby Lobby erroneously decided were abortifacients, b.) Rick Warren, the evangelical lite preacher Obama insisted be shoved down our throats at his inauguration decided that asking him and his kind to associate with LGBT people at work was intruding on their “religious freedom” and c.) John Roberts was lying through his teeth when he said employers, like Wheaton College, would simply fill out a form to get their birth control exemption from Obamacare.

I’m guessing that it won’t take long for the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society to determine that none of its permanent unpaid interns at their Brooklyn and Bethel sites should get blood transfusions.  Oh, it could happen.

But the bigger problem is going to be the bureaucratic nightmare that now will descend on the labyrinthine monstrosity that is already Obamacare.  And, no, Paul Krugman, it is not all that.  The ACA is a horrible piece of legislation and I speak from experience since I don’t watch cable TV anymore.  You don’t have to be a Republican to absolutely hate it and every stupid destructive thing it has done to the workplace.

So, yeah.  It’s pretty bad right now.  On the other hand, this ruling could be the eucatastrophe that spurs the good side to victory down the road.  You know, a REAL national healthcare policy that’s genuinely universal and has cost controls.  One that doesn’t have holes open for the exploitation of working people and protects the rights of women and LGBT people.

Or not.  The Democrats seem to be in some sort of psychogenic fugue these days.  You would have thought they would have had a 24/7 internet news outlet where their supporters could go to get the best opinion and strategy but, um, I’m not aware of one.  Nor have I seen a line up of liberal clergy condemning this ruling and its implications.  It’s like the whole party sort of checked out.

What’s clear is that the Robert’s Court is determined to destabilize the culture in such a way as to create chaos.  I don’t think this ruling was motivated by the religious convictions of the majority.  I think it was motivated by the ideological convictions of the political party that nominated them.  But at this point, I’m not sure what their aims are.   Do they even know?  Or is it just a power trip without a purpose?  Because that’s what it looks like.

What we really need is a Churchill right about now.

 

This is one of the reasons I didn’t vote for Obama

There were a couple big ones, racism wasn’t among them.

The reason I didn’t vote for him in the primary in NJ on SuperTuesday in 2008 was because I didn’t think he was ready to be president and wasn’t familiar enough with the mechanisms of government to be effective.  It was pre-ordained that the Republicans were going to be a defiant, ruthless opposition party.  I felt that Hillary Clinton would have a better grasp of how to get around the Republicans to get things done.  Plus, I didn’t feel that Obama had been in Washington long enough to develop a working coalition of allies and congressional members.  His coalition was going to be “gifted” to him from his campaign donors.  It couldn’t be any other way given his lack of experience and time in Washington.  Annnnnnd, it looks like I was right.

I’m not gloating.  No, really I’m not because what has happened since 2008, including to me personally, has been so serious that this is no time to gloat.

But leave it to Obama to get his shit together when it finally makes very little difference.  According to Reuters:

President Barack Obama told his Cabinet on Tuesday to look for areas where he might be able to govern by executive action given gridlock in Congress that is hampering his agenda.

In a White House meeting, Obama brought together the top officials in his government a day after conceding that a deadlocked Congress will prompt him to act on his own authority where he can on an immigration overhaul.

Obama said he wants to work with Congress where possible, “but if Congress is unable to do it,” then he said his Cabinet officials and agency heads should look for areas where executive actions can “show some real progress.”

“The people who sent us here, they just don’t feel as if anybody is fighting for them or working them. We’re not always going to be able to get things through Congress … but we sure as heck can make sure that the folks back home know that we are pushing their agenda and that we’re working hard on their behalf,” Obama said.

This has me worried.  He’s looking to move the ball forward on immigration reform and while I applaud a solution that will resolve the status of immigrants who are here via irregular methods, I’m not so crazy about giving even more temporary  visas to tech and R&D companies when there are hundreds of thousands of American STEM workers still unemployed.

Let’s just say that I am not confident that this sudden urgency to resolve the immigration crisis is about illegal landscapers. I’ve been right so far.

Still, I guess it’s a good thing that Obama has realized that he does have the power after all to get things done even if it is 6 years too late.  Just think what be might have done about the mortgage crisis, unemployment, healthcare reform…

 

Why the hippies get punched.

We are starlight, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon…

But first, I found this article on Liberalism and what it’s up against that was published yesterday.  It’s by Edward Fawcett, who has just written a book called Liberalism.  Just read it because I think there are nuggets there that we need to digest.  I’ve already gotten some ideas about how American liberals can fight back.

Ok, now, onto the hippy punching.

As many of you know, I am a Tolkien junky.  Seriously, I can’t get enough of the guy.  Someday, we’re all going to recognize what a genius he was.  His philosophy is deep and he was a careful observer of human nature.

One of the most puzzling of his characters from the Lord of the Rings is Tom Bombadil.  Even Peter Jackson didn’t know what to do with him and anyone who has read the books remembers that the story loses momentum when the characters travel through the Old Forest and meet Tom Bombadil and his lady, Goldberry.  That’s a movie killer so old Tom and Goldberry had to go.

I took the name Goldberry on DailyKos when I started blogging because she was the river’s daughter and I love Pittsburgh.  But I also liked her part in the story as a sort of natural tranquilizer.  She’s all about rain and dancing and laughter and getting a good night’s sleep.  Ok, I’m nothing like that but a girl can dream, right?

Back to Tom Bombadil.  Tom is a merry fellow.  His jacket is blue and his boots are yellow.  He’s in tune with nature and spends his days getting to know the trees and the wind under the hill and probably puts a little weed in his pipe after his supper of bread and honey and cheese and wine.  Tom Bombadil probably owned Yasgur’s Farm.

But note that you can easily remove Tom and his old lady from the story and no one even misses them.  So, why did Tolkien write this little diversion in the first place?  Tolkien provides a very telling answer:

Tom Bombadil is not an important person- to the narrative.  I suppose he has some importance as a ‘comment’.  I mean, I do not really write like that (he is just an invention who first appeared in the Oxford Magazine about 1933), and he represents something I feel important, though I would not be prepared to analyze the feeling precisely.  I would not, however, have left him in if he did not have some kind of function. I might put it this way.

The story is cast in terms of a good side, and a bad side, beauty against ruthless ugliness, tyranny against kingship, moderated freedom with consent against compulsion that has long lost any object save mere power, and so on; but both sides in some degree, conservative or destructive, want a measure of control. but if you have, as it were taken ‘a vow of poverty’, renounced control, and take your delight in things for themselves without reference to yourself, watching, observing, and to some extent knowing, then the question of the rights and wrongs of power and control might become utterly meaningless to you, and the means of power quite valueless. It is a natural pacifist view, which always arises in the mind when there is a war.

But the view in Rivendell seems to be that it is an excellent thing to have represented, but that there are in fact things with which it cannot cope; and upon which its existence nonetheless depends.  Ultimately, only the victory of the West will allow Bombadil to continue, or even to survive.  Nothing would be left to him in the world of Sauron…

I find it interesting that Bombadil was created in 1933.  This was about the time when Hitler was making a name for himself.  The most recent episode of the podcast History of WWII by Ray Harris called The End of the End describes this period of time.  Churchill read Mein Kampf and saw the danger as well as admiration for what Hitler was trying to do for Germany.  He immediately asked for a report on the military readiness of Britain in the event that Hitler came to power.  He was concerned that the allies had mothballed their military might too precipitously while backing off on demands for reparations payments.  Ironically, Hitler was surveying the political landscape of Britain at the same time and was pulling for Chamberlain to ascend, not Churchill.  Anyway, go listen to the whole podcast for a better idea of what was going on.  Ray Harris is very thorough, especially with respect to Churchill’s history and motivations.

My point is that there were many in Britain who were aware of what was going on on the Continent with both Mussolini and Hitler.  Tolkien must have been one of them.  And while he hated war (he participated in the Battle of the Somme during WWI), he was not a pacifist.  When it comes to fighting for your friends and the defenseless, Tolkien thought war necessary.  That didn’t make him a war hawk.

But if you think that the Bombadil diversion is all about war, you’d be missing the point.  If Sauron could achieve his goals without the bloody orc melees, it would still result in a world where Tom Bombadil could not peacefully exist.  What I think Tolkien was saying is that you can not hide yourself away from the world, live an ascetic existence and not be affected by what goes on outside your boundaries.  If you have the power to do good and choose not to use it, you will be subject to the people who use their powers to do ill.  At the same time, hippies are useful because they have this affinity for nature and preservation and environmentalism.  So, the combination of them being utterly useless to the fight along with their love of beauty and nature makes us want to punch them in the face.  Over and over again.

I get pretty annoyed with the ‘pacifism at all costs’ faction of my side.  There are times when war is absolutely a stupid, destructive waste of money and time.  Take Iraq, for example.  That was morally an evil war and none of us should be proud of what happened there.  We sent young men and women to get blown up for a bunch of narcissistic free marketers who wanted to experiment and rob a sovereign nation of its oil.  It just doesn’t get worse than that.  And I’m not blaming the soldiers who we sent.  They’re trained to carry out orders.  But the reason we sent them to Iraq was just evil.  There’s no doubt about it.

Afghanistan was a different story.  We had an obligation to put the Taliban and Al Qaeda down for our safety and the safety of others. Should we have gotten involved in Libya?  I would argue yes.  There was a tipping point in Libya and we helped it over the edge.  Better to pull the bandaid off quickly than allow a civil war to go on indefinitely.  I don’t know where the tipping point is in Syria but I don’t like the way the instability and breakdown of government in the region is going.  I think the Kurds have got the right idea.  They were prepared and vigilant and well trained.

But pacifism is only one part of the equation when we are fighting the bad side.  Right now, the bad side is moving rapidly to quash net neutrality and fair elections.  Sometimes, I feel like the Bombadils of our side are still wringing their hands about GMO crops and slinging words like corporatist around while the bad guys are done with dialog and moving in for the kill.  I worry about politicians and activists who are not focused on the very imminent threats to their survival and are still looking for a way to scapegoat the Clintons.

We’ve never lived in a feudal system, although that seems to be changing rather rapidly.  But it pays to remember that back in the middle ages, the forests were owned by the king and managed by his agents.  It wasn’t just the forests that were his property but every animal and twig.  Poaching deer and collecting firewood could get you hanged.  I’m not sure what the status of water lilies would have been but there wouldn’t have been any crackling fire in the grate in Tom Bombadil’s house in the forest.  Sleeping peacefully would be impossible.

Now, the Chamberlain Obama administration has its own reasons for punching the hippies but I think the hippies give them plenty of material to work with.  This is a shame because our side can use all the help it can get.  But unless they are willing to give up their isolation and put their efforts behind a power, and all the icky things that power needs to do to accomplish its goals, they’re going to end up on the wrong side of history by default.

JMHO

 

Religious Narcissists and Ruth Bader-Ginsburg’s 8 best lines in her dissent

The religious narcissists think they have won this round but I guarantee you that this is only temporary.  Supreme Court justices die eventually.

When I talk about religious narcissists, I am referring to people who derive their self-worth and sense of superiority from their faith.  In this country, we have official separation of church and state but we worship those who worship.  Because we have a habit of deferring to the faithful, respectfully allowing them to propound on morality without interruption, religion has become another refuge for scoundrels.  Before you faithful go off on a hissy fit, allow me to clarify.  The Hobby Lobby case that was decided today does not reflect the views of all people of faith.  It reflects the views of a very narrow set of fundamentalist religious adherents whose voices have been magnified.

Let me explain why people who score high on the narcissism scale use religion to hide and how even more powerful narcissists use them to advance their goals.  To recap the characteristics of people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, here they are:

  • A grandiose sense of self-importance (may be shown as an exaggeration of abilities and talents, expectation that he or she will be seen as superior to all others).
  • Is obsessed with him- or herself.
  • Goals are almost always selfish and self-motivated.
  • Has troubles with healthy, normal relationships.
  • Becomes furious if criticized.
  • Has fantasies of unbound success, power, intelligence, love, and beauty.
  • Believes that he or she is unique and special, and therefore should only hang out with other special, high-status people.
  • Requires extreme admiration for everything.
  • Feels entitled – has unreasonable expectations of special treatment.
  • Takes advantage of others to further his or her own needs.
  • Has zero empathy – cannot (or will not) recognize the feelings of others.
  • May be envious of others or believe that others are envious of him or her.
  • Behaves arrogantly, haughtily.

- See more at: http://www.bandbacktogether.com/adult-children-of-Narcissistic-parents-resources/#sthash.HtiA1zJT.xqpRZ0p8.dpuf

If you can’t see how certain fundamentalist religions give the religious narcissist status, you haven’t been paying attention to Anita Bryant, Jerry Falwell, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Pat Robertson and the plethora of mega church pastors and their fan base over the past several decades.

We can argue about what triggered the events that lead to so many people to join fundamentalist religions in the 70′s and 80′s.  I think Reagan had a lot to do with it.  There was a whole swath of people in the late 70′s who were left out of the social revolutions of the mid-20th century.  They just missed the cutoff to join modernity.  There are a lot of Betty Drapers out there who were conditioned to accept the limited roles for women that the 50′s relegated them to and a lot of men who started to feel economic pressure and competition from younger women and african americans entering the workforce.  Conservatives tapped into that confusion and anger by aligning themselves with the religious right.

I went to an open house type of event sponsored by my brother’s church once and I was at once struck by the amplified emotions.  There was a band where the participants became instant rock stars, lots of heart wrenching images flashed on huge projector screens and little children were being led to small above ground pools where they were baptized.  It was unnerving.  There was too much noise, too much music in just the right major chord progressions, too much stimulation, too much MUCH.  The whole effect was like highjacking the sympathetic nervous system, to make the heart beat in time and stimulate the lacrymal ducts.  I couldn’t take it.  I felt coerced.

But that’s just me.

I walk around with type 4 deflector shields deployed because I know that a religious narcissist does not respect boundaries.  It’s part of what makes them so successful.  They feel entitled to intrude on your privacy, your morality, your belief system.  In our culture, we Americans give the religious permission to do this because we do not feel it is polite to tell them to stop.  If you do tell them to stop, you must be persistent and forceful.  You must be so persistent and forceful that they take offense. And since they call foul so often and our culture reinforces their superior moral status, they usually get away with what they’re up to.  In this manner, the plutocracy is able to use them as an engine to promote their economic agenda by coupling it with social conservatism.  I’m sure I am not revealing anything new to readers here.

The introduction of faith based initiatives has exacerbated the problem.  Now, the executive branch has the ability to give money without accountability to churches who have the power to shape their congregations’ political views.  The Republicans made the churches flush in the Bush administration but, curiously, the Obama administration has done little to dismantle the program.

So, now we have religious institutions crowded with people who do not respect boundaries and feeling their cheerios and unwittingly serving Mammon.

Today, the religious narcissists got another shot of narcissistic supply.  They are sitting high and straight and “puffed up”.  This won’t be the last time they get their hit as long as this Supreme Court is composed by these members.  Note that the three women justices are all on the losing end of each ruling.  It should be clear now that the government is being conscripted to dismantle any autonomy that women have.  If they can be forced to pay additionally for their reproductive protection, there’s really no limit what can be forced on women in the name of religion.  Why are they working outside the home at all?  Do they really need as much money as a man?  Men support families.  Women also support families but only bad women support families on their own.  Men have authority, therefore, they should be bosses.  Women aren’t supposed to speak in congregation according to Paul.  If my corporation is “closely held” and religious, isn’t that like a congregation?  Can’t this congregation make rules to suit it without the interference of the government?

It’s coming.

But, like I said earlier, it’s not all religions that behave this way.  The mainstream protestant churches, especially those who ordain women, don’t seem to behave this way.  I hope we hear from them soon. It’s only the fundamentalist sects and fringe elements that attract a disproportionate number of narcissists that we need to worry about.  Nevertheless, it’s time we start to take on the religion industry in this country and one of the first places to start is by making a big stink over the faith based initiatives.  There’s no reason we need to give the religious narcissists more power with tax payer money.  I don’t care who is in the White House.  Find another, more ethical way to win elections.

We, on the other hand, must learn to identify the narcissist in religious clothing and make them feel unwanted and unpopular even at the risk of incurring their wrath.  And, yes, they will get very, very angry.  But better an angry genie in a bottle than a content one on the loose wrecking havoc.

Deploy your shields.

In the meantime, Ruth Bader-Ginsburg writes that the court has “ventured into a minefield” with this ruling.  Among her best lines from her dissent are:

“Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be ‘perceived as favoring one religion over another,’ the very ‘risk the [Constitution's] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.”

and

“It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month’s full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage.”

Read the rest here.

Narcissists, scapegoats and the golden child

A few months ago, I said I would be revisiting the topic of narcissists.  It might have been Phillip Zimbardo’s book, The Lucifer Effect, that lead me to read more on narcissism and malignant narcissism.  Or maybe it was one of those moments that we all have from time to time when something we see that is out of focus suddenly snaps into place.  I had interactions with many narcissists last year in every possible area of my life.  The one at work was particularly awful. But whatever it was that finally clued  me in, I realized how narcissism has been allowed to run amok.

We all have the capacity for narcissism. Most healthy human beings have to be somewhat narcissistic to survive.  In this economic environment, we have all been pushed a bit further on the spectrum because a false sense of scarcity has been created and we are all competing for the same piece of the pie.  It pays to be more selfish, to project more confidence and talent than we actually have, and to adopt an “every woman for herself” attitude.  But most of us do not have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a way of seeing the rest of the world as merely actors in the play we wrote ourselves and are directing.

Here are the characteristics of people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD):

  • A grandiose sense of self-importance (may be shown as an exaggeration of abilities and talents, expectation that he or she will be seen as superior to all others).
  • Is obsessed with him- or herself.
  • Goals are almost always selfish and self-motivated.
  • Has troubles with healthy, normal relationships.
  • Becomes furious if criticized.
  • Has fantasies of unbound success, power, intelligence, love, and beauty.
  • Believes that he or she is unique and special, and therefore should only hang out with other special, high-status people.
  • Requires extreme admiration for everything.
  • Feels entitled – has unreasonable expectations of special treatment.
  • Takes advantage of others to further his or her own needs.
  • Has zero empathy – cannot (or will not) recognize the feelings of others.
  • May be envious of others or believe that others are envious of him or her.
  • Behaves arrogantly, haughtily.

- See more at: http://www.bandbacktogether.com/adult-children-of-Narcissistic-parents-resources/#sthash.HtiA1zJT.dpuf

Based on the number of politically tone deaf statements from the plutocrats about how the rest of us envy their success, it has become painfully obvious that there is a surplus of narcissists at the top. But you might be surprised by how many people with NPD hide behind religion.  A very religious person is very hard to criticize and our social structure gives them a convenient cover screen.  How could a person who praises the lord and loves Jesus (and lets you know about it all. the. time.) be selfish, manipulative and malicious? It’s a brilliant place to be if you want control but want to come off looking sweet and pious while simultaneously believing that you are superior to others because you have The Truth.  Many cult-like and high control fundamentalist religious organizations encourage this kind of narcissism in their converts. The Duggar family is a perfect example of this mindset.

And then there is the right wing noise machine that seems to encourage a base narcissism in its target audience.  The unlucky “deserve” what they get while the rich “deserve” what they’ve gotten.  And what’s wrong with saying things that are racist?  You’re allowed to be a racist if you want to be.  (I’m just paraphrasing the incredible things I’m hearing from the Fox News crowd lately.  Personally, I think racism is revolting in thought, word and deed.) Putting people down to make yourself look superior is a hallmark of a narcissist, although I doubt that these same Fox News watchers would be as comfortable saying it’s Ok to be anti-semitic.  Just a guess.

The relationships that develop in a family poisoned by a narcissistic parent illustrate on a micro scale what can be projected to a wider audience in the political sphere.  In a family when one of the parents has narcissistic personality disorder, the children in the family are frequently pitted against one another.  The NPD parent designates one of the children as the scapegoat.  The role of the scapegoat may rotate but it’s usually one particular child that is targeted.  This child is usually the more sensitive child, the one who doesn’t play the game and flatter the narcissist, the truth teller.  When the NPD parent injures this child using emotional manipulation and encouraging the others in the family to “mob” (bullying by group), the NPD parent gets a whiff of narcissistic supply.  They get off on control and their ability to make someone else feel inferior, to sabotage and limit their success. The goal of the NPD parent is to make the scapegoat bend to her will by using ostracism, mockery, malicious gossip and alienation.  Yeah, imagine living with that.

The golden child, on the other hand, can do no wrong.  No matter how much the kid screws up, the NPD parent will make excuses.  It’s not his fault.  The problem started before he came along.  He needs time to mature.  He will never suffer the consequences of his behavior nor will there be any criticism of his limitations.  Indeed, any minor accomplishment is made to look magnificent.

And then there are the flying monkeys.  Flying monkeys are the siblings, and others, who act as the hit men for the NPD parent.  They are sent on missions to obtain information from the scapegoat that gets reported back to the NPD parent.  The parent then uses that information to spread rumors, gossip and malicious mockery through his or her own actions or the actions of the flying monkeys.  The gossip may contain a hint of truth but this is usually blown out of proportion.  The more voices that propagate the gossip, the greater the negative effect on the scapegoat.

So, here’s my leap from micro to macro and what we will be subjected to for the next two years until the presidential election.  The narcissists are in charge.  They control the horizontal and the vertical.  All the moneys are belong to them and they are determined to extract every penny of what they think they are owed.  They will do this by conscripting the US government to cover their debts even if it means impoverishing the tax base.  They don’t see labor as consisting of real people.  Labor is a resource to be used when it is needed and discarded when it is not.

I’d like to use the term exploitative profit mining to describe the effect of unfettered narcissistic capitalism on the general public and predict that this will continue to result in economic instability and eventually, the dangerous undermining of democratic governments.  The early and mid 20th century saw the negative fallout of this kind of behavior with WWI, the Great Depression and WWII.  I’d hate to think we are going to have to live through those kinds of upheavals again but the rise of ultra right wing and nationalistic parties in Europe in the wake of austerity, as well as the political chaos caused by the Tea Party fanatics here in the US have me very worried that we’re headed for trouble.

Over the past 6 years, we have become all too familiar with the typical behaviors and attitudes of narcissists.  Do not look to them for any sense of empathy.  They do not possess it and the only mechanisms for keeping them in check have been abandoned at this point.  Check out any review of Tim Geithner’s book, Stress Test, if you want to know what he,  the lieutenant of the narcissists, did on their behalf.  Keep in mind the characteristics of narcissists as you read it.

Their most significant triumph to date has been to get their golden child elected.  The scapegoat is Hillary Clinton.  Look at any comment section of a left leaning blog and you will find this is true.  Obama inherited the financial crisis.  That’s why the economy sucks.  The Republicans hate Obama.  That’s why the ACA is FUBAR.  Obama didn’t start the war in Iraq.  So, it’s not his fault if the void we left when we pulled out of Iraq has destabilized the country.

(Sidenote: Dexter Filkins of the New Yorker was interviewed on Fresh Air yesterday.  In the last 4 minutes of the interview, Filkins lays out the culpability of the Obama administration with respect to the current crisis in Iraq.  It’s not pretty. Expect Filkins to suffer some scapegoating for truth telling about the golden child’s “accomplishments”.)

Hillary can do nothing right.  Everything she says is scrutinized in order to put the worst possible spin on it.  She’s not perfect, that’s for sure, and right now, unless I see her move to the left boldly to take on the exploitative profit miners, it will be hard for me to justify voting for her.  But, golly gee, nobody is as bad as the left seems to think Hillary is.  According to the left, she and her husband wrecked welfare and imposed an unconstitutional piece of legislation on gay people while single handedly destroying Glass-Steagall.  Then they wickedly danced around the fire while chanting incantations, laughing evilly at the suffering of others and killing the bees.  It’s an image of the Clintons that completely cuts out the crazy Whitewater scandal, the crazy Monica scandal, the hours of congressional hearings and special prosecutions over billing records, and the millions of dollars that they and their friends and everyone who ever worked for them were forced to spend on what turned out to be harassment suits.  This during the Newt Gingrich years.  Remember Newt??

But it doesn’t matter.  Hillary Clinton is facing flying monkeys on the left as well as the right.  And while we can’t do anything about the flying monkeys on the right, I just have to wonder if the flying monkeys on the left have thought this through.  The books I’ve read say that the flying monkeys are not always aware of what they are doing.  The narcissists controlling them make them feel included, like they’re one of the club.  And it’s fun to get that sip of narcissistic oxygen that comes with watching the scapegoat flailing and not succeeding.

There’s a danger to this though.  If Hillary truly is the last great hope of the left in 2016, and she sees that the narcissists and flying monkeys on the left are determined to see her fail, then her only choice to win the White House is to appeal to the disaffected voters of 2008 who abandoned the Democrats for the Tea Party.  That wouldn’t be me.  I’m still in exile.  I’m talking about the more socially conservative Democrats who felt snubbed by Obama and his supporters writing them off, calling them religious, gun toting, bitter knitters.  She’s got to get her votes from somewhere and if the crunchy lefties and snobby lefties are going to get prodded by the narcissists to go after her non-stop from now until 2016, then she’s going to have to appeal to the Reagan Democrats.  At this point, the left is all but conceding that she is the inevitable candidate (why they say this is anyone’s guess but it’s out there).  And if it is true that the left is finally, reluctantly, going to get behind Hillary, it’s going to be undermining its own candidate if it keeps telling the world how loathsome it thinks she is.

That’s something to think about.

On the other hand, Hillary has to come to terms with her scapegoat role.  Once you have become the scapegoat, there is virtually nothing you can do about changing it. Defensiveness doesn’t do much good. The scapegoating will continue until the narcissist dies or the flying monkeys get a clue as to how and why they are being used.  As long as the flying monkeys are getting off on what they’re doing, finding it successful, and the golden child remains protected, don’t expect anything to change.  The scapegoat has a choice.  Go along with it or divorce the whole family.  You can never appease the narcissist enough to be your own person.

The world ends not with a bang but a PowerPoint presentation

My laptop is still out for repairs. I am preparing for a blow to my bank account. Tips gratefully accepted.

In the meantime, I had one credit left at audible so I downloaded the latest book on the coming zombi apocalypse, The Girl With All The Gifts. I don’t think I’m giving too much away by telling you it’s about zombies. Where would summer be without a zombie beach read?

I won’t get too much into the plot, because I can’t without totally spoiling it for you, but I did find the historical narrative on the apocalypse struck pretty close to what I imagine the truth will be.

The narrator says that after the initial phase of the infection, there was a brief calm and window of opportunity to do some emergency research. But while the pathogen was temporarily quiet, looking for new victims, “global capitalism” was still on a feeding frenzy, tearing the world apart as quickly as it could. Of all the elements of this book, I found this the most believable, I can almost see the suits on Wall Street trying to find a way to corner the market on respirators and disinfectants.

But what was really funny, but not belly laugh funny, unless you’ve been on the receiving end of the MBA masters of the universe bean counting strategy when it comes to research, was the plan that the capitalists, and governments at their mercy, put in place to take advantage of that brief lull to conduct some in the field R&D. They found two articulated buses used by the national science museums and retrofitted them with labs and bunks. Each bus would accommodate 6 scientists each, to be comprised of a mix of biologists and organic chemists. That’s two buses of twelve scientists total to save the world.

One can easily imagine the presentation of this plan and the slick PowerPoint slides to accompany it. On one slide would be the pretty picture of the buses, the next a floor plan where the air locks, microscopes and hoods would be. Then a breakdown of the costs on the next slide:

“The shareholders are prepared to commit $10 million to retrofit the buses, 12 FTE’s for the research. Salaries are competitive with academic research for post-docs at $37,000/year but this is unimportant. If they return, and their experiments are reproducible, we anticipate further renumeration to come from prizes so our costs there are minimal. In essence, this is a self-funding grant. It goes without saying that we will hold any patents and government will fast track approval. Any questions?”

Anyway, the timeframe of the book is years later and the survivors find the buses. No sign of the teams though. It turns out that the pathogen didn’t give them much of a break in the action and those 12 people were just pampered slackers who futzed around with the shareholders’ expensive equipment. Totally unproductive. The MBA’s should have just cut them out all together. What a fricking waste of money.

5 sponges. Highly recommended.

A few of my favorite things

Mermaid Song

Stuff I like.

1.) Cold grapefruit

2.) Chalkboard paint!  (Use liberally)

3.) Sandals that can be repaired with Gorilla glue

4.) Hydrangeas

5.) The Sunroom

6.) Mermaid Song paint

Ok, it’s your turn now.

The Desolations of Smaugs

Gotta make this quick so I can bop down to the farmers’ market in East Liberty.

Here are two posts that belong together.  The first is about the crazy amount of money that the wealthy are just sitting on and not investing.  In The World’s Richest People are Sitting on Gigantic Piles of Cash that aren’t Earning them Anything, we get confirmation of what we have suspected for some time, that is, rich people are hoarding money.  But the reason they are hoarding makes no damn sense.  Apparently, the wealthy are waiting for a market correction before they dive back in to investing and since that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime soon, they’re going to sit on the cash.  Now, I can understand that feeling if you’re a poor schlub like me, hoarding the miserable little bit of IRA you have left after several years of employment insecurity.  It makes less sense if you’re a plutocrat with more money than god.

Hmmm, maybe we should be wondering why the wealthy think there is going to be a pullback.

The second is about the consequences of hoarding all that money.  When the shareholders demand more money and less investment, companies tend to shutter their facilities.  Recently, Hoffman-LaRoche in Nutley, NJ closed it’s doors and is preparing to dismantle the site.  When I was a young chemist a long, long time ago, I visited the Nutley campus.  Like many research facilities, it was more like a small town with a gatehouse and a shuttle that delivered the visitor to her destination.  Now that Roche has decided to stop doing research in the US because shareholder value (and Americans are notoriously easy to lay off since they have virtually no labor protections whatsoever), the Nutley facility is about to undergo a radical transformation.  If it is anything like my facility where the rent the company was demanding from small startups was prohibitively high, they probably won’t get many takers.

In other words, if some of the scientists they laid off decided to get together and try to operate one of the buildings as a small incubator, they wouldn’t be able to afford it.  And these days, vulture capitalists want a lot of the research done up front so they don’t actually have to risk any money at all.  That makes research on small scale even more difficult to finance.  Rent, reagents and researchers are expensive.  So, if Roche can’t get any takers to rent its empty labs, it may go the route of some of the other companies in similar circumstances and demolish perfectly serviceable, and in some cases, brand new research buildings, rather than keep them on the books.

Lovely.

One final thing, Hillary Clinton gave an interview to Terry Gross, former Obama fangirl extraordinaire, the other day.  It got a little testy about half way through when Gross started pushing her on same-sex marriage.  Hillary talks primarily about her four years as SOS and seems to think that Edward Snowden had other options to spill the beans.  I’d have to differ with her there though.  Snowden had superuser privileges.  Anything he revealed while he was still in the US would trace right back to him very quickly.  You don’t give su privileges to many people, or at least I don’t think the NSA and its contractors would.  I could be wrong about that.  It seems a little sloppy to allow one person to download massive amounts of information and have no one notice.

Given the reaction of the Obama administration to leakers, I think Snowden did the only thing he could have done and I’m not unhappy that he did it.  I meet people everyday who are pretty non-political who are keenly aware of what Snowden revealed and they are not happy to know that the government has so much information on them.  Until Snowden, the conversation about spying on Americans was tepid at best.  Hillary should know by now that timing is everything.  Snowden forced door open and let the sunshine in a lot more quickly than some politicians might have found convenient but he sure did get their attention, didn’t he?  No putting the genie back in the bottle now or slowing that genie down now.

Ok, enough with the foreign policy stuff.  What about domestic issues?  I want to hear about that now.  No time like the present.  Let’s not put it off any longer.

 

Enough with the rain already

Screenshot 2014-06-13 17.55.01This is the fifth day of cloudy, cloudy with a touch of drizz, cloudy with thunderstorms or cloudy with thunderstorms followed by soaking rains.  I’ve been waiting forever to do some painting outside the house and the garage keeps getting flooded, which means the foundation there needs some repair as well. Cha-ching!  It’s driving me crazy.

What’s the weather like where you are?

 

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