Sunday, November 30, 2008

Land of the Unreal Real

Dear Barack,

As you prepare to enter office, there are certain realities you will have to deal with. The challenge is that these realities are not manifest. Rather, they are concealed beneath multiple layers of myth, make-believe, fantasy, fables, folk tales, allegories, parables and legends.

In other words, they’re realities nobody pays any attention to because they are convinced they don’t exist.

But they do exist, big time!

The most pernicious of these these myths is the belief that capitalism is a healthy and thriving beast, when in truth, capitalism is dead and rotting on its gurney. For several centuries it’s twisted and turned and contorted and moved this way and that, all in a vain attempt to keep itself alive even as the life slowly drains from it. All has been in vain, and it died shortly after God croaked in the 60s.

However, it makes no difference how dead it is. As long as the corpse farts gold we will keep it on life support.

That will be your greatest challenge, to treat the stiff like it was in its prime. This is what you have a complicit media for, to hype the dead as living.

In a society of consumers, the key to political success is skilled marketing. This is why your predecessor tanked: his marketing skills sucked!

You’ll have a lot of help in this endeavor. For the Beltway, only make believe is real. That’s what makes it the world’s greatest gated community.

In contemporary America, the hacks rule. Without them and their press releases, the country would be ruined.

Worship and honor them, and you can’t go wrong.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Why success sucks!

Dear Barack,

The seeds of today’s failure were planted in yesterday’s success. Success is like that. It swells the head and too often leads to an inflated sense of invincibility that is the rock upon which failure is built.

Take for example our vaunted defense establishment. It’s sucking wind. Two wars against ragtag insurgencies have nearly exhausted it; it’s a major player in our economic meltdown and it spends billions on arcane weapons systems that will never be used.

In short, the Pentagon is an abject failure.

The reason it’s a failure is because we won World War II. In doing so, we built up the world’s most powerful war machine and from that flowed the belief that if we weren’t unbeatable, we needed to spend money until we were.

So we started churning out weapon system after weapon system, each more sophisticated than the previous one, all the time unaware that success is simply failure waiting for an opportunity to surface.

And when it appeared, as we were battled to a draw in Korea, we ignored its presence and mistook failure for success. We didn’t start paying attention until the North Vietnamese whipped our ass. For a time it looked as if we’d finally learned what a curse success is.

Then Ronnie rode into town on his white horse and invaded Grenada, and, once again, success swelled the beribboned chests of our military brass. Next, we stormed the beaches of Panama, then ran roughshod over the world’s most inept military leader, Sadddam Hussein.

Once again, we were unbeatable. But in our hubris, we forgot the price success exacts. The fastest gun in the West is always paranoid because he knows there are young bucks out there just itching to knock him off his pedestal. (The Swiss have the right idea: be the slowest gun in the West and make a fortune selling pocket knives.)

However, hubris fogs the memory and past mistakes are forgotten as history comes to be seen as a string of unbroken victories.

Thus it was that our hubris convinced us we could remake the Middle East in our image and impose pax Americana.

But fear not, we never learn from our failures, so defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan will change nothing as long as Congress is willing to approve even more weapon systems that will continue to drain the lifeblood out of our economy.

The reason this madness thrives is because the Beltway is a foreign country that long ago severed its ties to America. If anything, it is our occupying army.

Success is the insanity that gives life its zest.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Entitled Ones

My Dear Barack,

Some claim that Wall Street is driven by two forces: fear and fantasy, which is why Warren Buffet set up shop in Omaha. He wanted to put as much distance as possible between himself and the deluded mob.

However, there is a third force that came to the fore during your predecessor’s ill-fated administration, and that is entitlement.

This sense of entitlement is not confined to Wall Street, but is deeply ingrained in the American psyche. It has to do with the strong sense that our nation was founded by, and is guided by, the Almighty. (The country that believes it is blessed by Providence has already taken the first step on the path to self-destruction.)

Wall Street has carried this sense of entitlement to such heights that the thinned atmosphere has caused irreversible brain damage. As one writer puts it, “For a quarter of a century, the inbred products of the Ivy League puppy mills have known nothing but a rising trend in asset prices.”

Yes, Barack, the poor darlings became addicted to returns of 20% on their investments. This resulted in an anomaly that our financial elite failed to wrap their damaged brains around. The above writer explains it by pointing out that:

Over the long term, we know that average investment cannot grow faster than the economy, for investments ultimately are valued according to cash flows, and cash flows stem from economic growth. Real American gross domestic product grew by 2% a year on average between 1929 and 2007. Whence came the enormous returns to the Ivy League? Some of them surely came from betting on the right horse, but most came from privileged access to leverage.

Leverage was the fantasy; a leverage of anywhere from 20:1 to 40:1 gave such an illusion of prosperity that it blinded the Ivy Leaguers to reality. All they knew was that they were entitled to a twenty-percent return, and they didn't care how much damage they caused while pursuing it.

So, in dealing with our financial wizards, you must remember that you are dealing with petulant, spoiled children who have had their candy taken away from them. But no matter how unruly they are, they are still run the show, so it is up to you to give them their candy back so they can continue to leverage their little hearts out.

Entitlement is a great blindfold. The truth is that the only thing anyone is entitled to is a birth, a tax bill and a funeral, unless they’re an Ivy Leaguer. Then they’re entitled to a 20% return on investment.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Holiday Greetings

A most Happy Thanksgiving to each and all. It is my fervent hope that by next Thanksgiving we will actually have something to be thankful for.

cw

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The difference is more of the same.

Dear Barack,

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, let me remind you that I love death, destruction, famine, plague and all of the assorted ills and misfortunes that can befall humanity. I loathe sunny optimism. Don’t trouble me with laughter; all I want to hear are the wails and lamentations of orphans and widows. Every Christmas I buy a copy of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and burn it in the fireplace. That’s my idea of a Yule Log.

So my heart leapt with joy when it turned out that your financial team is made up of Clintonian followers of Rubinomics, the wacked-out ideology that believes in balanced budgets, free trade and, that escapee from the ideological nuthouse, deregulation.

Your selections tell me that the madness will continue. Unbridled growth will be the order of the day as you continue to gut our manufacturing sector with even more free trade agreements. Social programs will be stripped in a vain attempt to balance a budget that fell off a cliff years ago.

But the greatest gift of all will be deregulation. Deregulation is just like removing all of the laws against theft from the criminal code. Let them go forth and multiply their wealth!

Oh, sure. They all say they’ve changed. They say they’ve seen the light and that they’re all hot to regulate the financial sector.

But…

The financial sector owns them just as it owns you. The financial sector owns the media, as well. It’s a simple law of nature that employees don’t regulate their employers.

There will be some tepid regulations passed that will be hyped as the dawning of a new age of financial regulation. But each new regulation will contain loopholes big enough to sail a carrier taskforce though.

I can hardly wait for Christmas. Maybe, this year, I’ll buy two copies of “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Secret of Life

My Dear Barack,

I think you’re ready.

No, I’m not talking about assuming the presidency; I’m talking about something even bigger!

You’ve shown that you have the mettle to survive a pointless two-year presidential campaign in which nothing of importance was debated. I’m now ready to impart to you something I should have imparted to your predecessor but didn’t, which explains why the world and the country are as screwed up as they are.

I am speaking of nothing less than the key to understanding the universe and the secret of life. In short, I am going to give you a formula that explains everything.

And, here it is:

7 x 7 = 51

That’s it in a nutshell, Barack. That is why we are plagued with war, famine, pestilence, plagues and McDonald Chicken Nuggets®. That is why the four horsemen of the Apocalypse are constantly tearing up our front yards.

Everything is off by 2.

(Let me go on record as saying that I thought of this first! Tragically, an author by the name of Douglas Adams stole the secret whilst I was stoned and used a variation of it in his book, A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe, or maybe he used the whole thing, or part of it, or who really gives a fuck? But, that’s the story of my life. Every time I uncover the secret of the universe, I’m too stoned to remember it and some son of a bitch steals it from me.)

So please, please, please classify this formula as top secret and only share it with your inner circle. What it explains is that no matter what you do, it will end up poorly because it’s off by 2, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

Now, you’ll know why.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Little Dingleberries of Wisdom

My Dear Barack,

I have thrown together some disparate items to add to your leadership toolbox. These little bits will insure that you continue your predecessor’s tradition of aiming the ship of state for the nearest shoal of rocks.

Have you wondered why Congress was so quick to provide a $700 billion bailout for the financial industry, yet is dragging its feet over a bailout for the auto industry? The reason is quite simple.

Cyril Northcote Parkinson did more than posit Parkinson’s Law, which states that work expands to fill the time available for its consumption, along with its corollary that bureaucracies expand regardless of utility or need.

He also gave the example of a board of directors faced with two decisions: the building of a multimillion dollar dam, and the purchase of a $29.95 coffee machine. According to Parkinson, the decision on the dam will be made in minutes, while the decision on the coffee machine will involve hours of debate. The reason is simple: nobody knows a damn thing about dams, but everyone is an expert on making coffee.

To comment on what you know nothing about is to display your ignorance. Hence, it is much better to nod knowingly and approve it since voting against it would require an explanation, and it’s hard to explain what you don’t understand in the first place.

Congress was asked to bail out a financial industry even financial experts don’t understand. So it approved it. Unfortunately for General Motors, everyone understands cars, so its request was doomed to fail.

Moving on to another subject, you greatest gift as a leader is your legerdemainic rhetoric. Your gift of gab will easily convince the public that, even in the depths of despair, there is hope even though they haven’t got a prayer.

And one final point: Efficient leadership demands a sociopathic belief in charts, diagrams, spreadsheets, and graphs until what are simply reflections of reality become reality itself. You must surround yourself with syncopphants who believe that these items create reality, i.e. that by arcing the line on a graph upwards, one creates growth in the real world. In effect, you create a parallel universe that shelters you from the real one. This is especially important since your greatest challenge will be the preservation of a corporate capitalism that has outlived its usefulness and is simply too profitable to scrap. You’ve got to keep the dinosaur on life support.

Remember these, and history will remember you with the same affection it remembers your predecessor.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

Friday, November 21, 2008

Let 'em go!

My Dear Barack,

Listen to how they piss and moan! Their wails and lamentations reach Heaven as they beg Congress to bail out the big three automakers. General Motors, once the flagship of American industry, is months away from folding.

One writer estimates that if the big three go under, the unemployment rolls will swell by three million souls.

Those who beg for a bailout fail to grasp the Big Picture. Of the three million thrown out of work, a majority would be union members earning a bloated wage and enjoying outlandish benefits. The savings would be gargantuan.

Then there’s the even bigger picture: Our kleptrocracy decided decades ago that there was more money to be made by gutting America’s manufacturing base than by encouraging it. The Big Three are the last of this breed. Once they fold, our real economy will become a true subset of our faux finance economy.

When this day arrives, there will be no more grimy factories belching their toxic smoke into the atmosphere with their deafening din of production pounding on the ears of the drones who work the assemble line. There will only be broad expanses of monochromatic cubicles, shadowless beneath their florescence lights where all sound is muted and all contact blocked by fabric walls as the threat of job loss keeps the drones bent over their keyboards, afraid of losing a keystroke lest the wrath of a supervisor descend upon them.

Outside, the starving masses will scavenge the piles of trash that only a throw-away society can build, looking for scraps of food that can be eaten or shards of metal that can be sold. Obesity will cease to be a health issue, and Social Security will be saved when life expectancy plunges as the proles learn all about third-world poverty.

So, let the Big Three go, Barack. Out of the suffering will emerge a stronger America

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

Thursday, November 20, 2008

God bless Sam

My Dear Barack,

Let this be an object lesson for you: In 1914, Henry Ford shocked the capitalist world by paying his workers the unheard of sum of $5 a day and reducing the workday from nine to eight hours.

At the time, Ford’s logic was sound. He paid his workers enough so they could afford the cars they were producing, and an eight hour day allowed him to run three shifts instead of two.

Unfortunately, this opened the door for a prolonged period of wage abuse by workers and unions until it peaked with auto workers receiving an obscene annual salary of $67,480.

What followed was an example of the dialectic of success. When workers were being paid peanuts, the union movement was tough and militant. Eventually, wages increased to the point that the working class was able to join the middleclass. Once that happened, the unions went soft and lost their militancy. The upshot was that in 1980, the blue collar demographic helped vote Ronnie into office, and he immediately began a process of union destruction.

But, the true hero of this saga is Sam Walton. As his empire grew, he started putting pressure on his suppliers to slash their prices. The pressure was so intense that manufacturers had no choice but to ship their operations overseas where they found a large pool of exploitable labor.

As factories became deserted, high-paid workers lost their jobs and ended up flipping burgers or pumping gas, neither of which paid well. Middleclass workers once again became working class, but without the union militancy to stir things up.

As savings were exhausted and plastic maxed out, the only place they would afford to shop was Wal-Mart. Thus Wal-Mart was able to invert Ford’s formula by depressing wages until the working class was forced to shop at the big-box stores that were the cause of their ruin in the first place.

The bottom line here, Barack, is that Providence intended that all societies be two-tiered, with the elite on top and the masses on the bottom. Henry Ford unwittingly unleashed a demon when he started paying his workers a living wage, and that demon was a middleclass that was constantly destabilizing the proper order of society. It was this middleclass that was responsible for the progressive movement, the New Deal, and the chaos of the sixties.

Sam Walton deserves the Medal of Freedom for firing the first shot against this wage abuse. We are on the cusp of destroying this troublesome class, and the process of sucking America’s wealth back up to the top of the pyramid where it belongs is nearing completion as our economy melts down.

We have transitioned from production capitalism to finance capitalism with the emergence of a shadow banking system that is successfully looting the nation’s treasury.

Our kleptrocracy is counting on you to finish what Sam began.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Embalming the Corpse

Dear Barack,

One of the things going for you when you take power is that, within the Beltway, politics is a dying art, and you are twisting the knife in the carcass with your “nonpartisan” approach.

This is good, because without politics, democracy is dead. Divisiveness is the life blood of democracy, and nonpartisanship is the embalming fluid that forces this blood out of the system.

One writer cites the dust-up over the proposed bailout of the Big Three automakers as an example of this demise. The Democrats want a bailout; the Republicans are opposed to it. Now, if the Big Three fold, the effect on working and middle class America would be devastating.

Even a third rate politician would recognize that the Democrats could score many points by forcing the Republicans to vote against a bill that would bailout workers after they voted a bailout for Wall Street’s financial retards.

However, this would require the Democrats to take a stand, which is something they are loathe to do since it might offend their Wall Street handlers.

Consequently, nothing will be done because to do something would require discussion and debate, and discussion and debate are simply too democratic for Democratic tastes.

The Republicans turned politics into a game of hardball; you are turning it into a group grope. Regardless of the approach we will soon see the messiness of politics reduced to the sterile efficiency of unitary rule.

May the God of privilege and wealth bless your endeavors.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Rugged Individualism and Social Control

My Dear Barack, 

In 63 days you will become the most powerful man in the world.  It is my hope that these letters will help make you the world’s biggest badass, because it takes a badass to run an empire.  Touchy-feely doesn’t cut it when you’re bombing wedding parties.  Being in power means never having to say, “I’m sorry.” 

So, let’s talk domestic.  In your leadership role, you will have many missions.  One of them will be the prevention, discouragement and, if necessary, suppression of mass movements.  They are dangerous and destabilizing.  The only movement the wise leader allows is the one that is flushed down the toilet. 

The civil rights and peace movements of the 60s shook the establishment to the core, and the last forty years have been devoted to cleaning up the mess those movements left in their wake. 

Fortunately, America is less predisposed to mass movements than other cultures.  This is thanks, in large part, to the great American Myth of the Rugged Individual.  It is a study in irony, for the more an person buys into this myth, the more susceptible he becomes to social control.  A belief in individualism is an effective antidote to the class and community solidarity that is necessary for an effective mass movement. 

The instrument that makes this atomized individualism possible is the screen, be it a movie, television or computer screen.  The quintessential icon of this atomization is the lone cowboy riding into the sunset after he has single handedly righted all wrongs.  Of course, just over the horizon are waiting his agent, his accountant, his business manager, his hair stylist, his wardrobe consultant, his press agent and his personal trainer.  

An atomized society is especially important as we enter the age of economic self-destruction.  The reason the Great Depression gave birth to the horrors of the New Deal was too many collectives.  The unions were strong, as were the Socialists and the Communists.  The public was spending too much time in meeting halls and not enough time in movie theaters.   

Thank God things are different.  The unions have been neutered and most homes have a screen of one kind or another in every room.  

So, continue to preach individualism and personal responsibility and you may rest assured that no movement will arise to sully your administration as it continues to serve America’s kleptocrats. 

Your admirer,

Belacqua Jones

  

Monday, November 17, 2008

Posturing and Inaction

Dear Barack,

Some are criticizing this weekend’s G20 economic summit for taking the decisive action of no action in the face of a crumbling world economy. Many see this as an example of the classic bureaucratic ploy of asking for further study of a collapsing structure even as the air is thick with the dust of falling ceilings and buckling walls.

The high point of the summit was when your predecessor took a principled stand against a regulated free market by arguing that, “The crisis was not a failure of the free market system…It would be a terrible mistake to allow a few months of crisis to undermine 60 years of success.”

Study that statement carefully, Barack. It’s an example of the first rule of leadership: hypocrisy is the cement that holds a country or an institution together. The “success” he spoke of is nothing more that the artificial inflating of one bubble after another along with the propping up of a phony prosperity through the accumulation of massive amounts of debt. (In 1929 the total private, public and corporate debt was 160 percent of the nation’s GDP. In 2008, that same debt is 350 percent of GDP).

Some argue that now is the time to think outside the box, while others call for reducing the box to kindling. In truth, the only course of action for free market ideologues is to shore up the box by nailing additional support beams to its rotting timbers.

Providence calls us to follow empire’s traditional curve of ascent, apogee and decent into self-destruction. This is what makes history such a good read for those who even bother to read history.

The confusion created by an empire’s collapse is the perfect cover that allows our kleptocrats to stuff their pockets with public money while the proles scratch their heads as they try to figure out what in the hell is going on.

In the meantime, world leaders meet and discuss to give the illusion that they are working towards shoring up the world economy when all they are doing is calling for further study.

It’s only third-rate theater dressed up to look like Shakespeare.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Blind Faith

My Dear Barack,

I’m going to miss your predecessor. He’s such a gas. Here we are in an economic meltdown brought about by feral capitalism, and he sings the praises of the free market, to which he is looking for a solution to the very problems it created.

He reminds me of a drunken passenger clinging to a deck rail on the Titanic as her stern lifts in preparation for her final plunge, telling the passengers not to panic because the ship is unsinkable.

He is correct when he says the American system is an “engine of mobility," just as the Titanic was an engine of mobility as she plunged to the bottom.

It doesn’t get better than that.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

Friday, November 14, 2008

It's a gift.

Dear Barack,

You are fortunate that you are following an administration that has utterly destroyed its credibility by proving I.F. Stone’s dictum that a journalist only needs to remember two words: Governments lie.

I’m sure your initial impulse is to restore credibility to the government.

Take my advice: Don’t!

A total lack of credibility is a boon to any administration. Its absence allows you to lie through your teeth. If you are caught, the public shrugs its shoulders and figures it’s just business as usual.

If, however, you reestablish credibility and are caught in a diplomatic lie, public outrage will crucify you.

Your anonymous predecessor has given you a precious gift. Treat it with care and lie with gusto. The proles expect it from you.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"All the world's a stage..."

My Dear Barack,

I stumbled across a quote that ought to be the beacon that guides your administration:

“The most essential skill in political theater and the consumer culture is artifice"

There are two operative phrases in that quote. The first is “political theater” and the second is “consumer culture”.

Politics is no longer a struggle over issues; it is third-rate theater, a stage upon which the only thing that matters is the quality of the performance.

Your predecessors d didn’t fail because of his policies and wars, disastrous as they were. He fell because he was inarticulate and because he lost his ability to project an image other than that of a confused child. His image-building skills peaked when he did his hemorrhoidal strut across the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln.

You sit at the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to articulation and image building. I’ll bet you could make the following statement and get away with it:

You know, folks, the market is, indeed, self regulating. The only thing free market ideologues got wrong was the mechanism that keeps it balanced. It’s not the ‘invisible hand’;it’s the Flying Spaghetti Monster®, who uses his Noodly Appendages to buy here or sell there. And sometimes, for the sheer fun of it, he roils the markets and creates an economic meltdown just to keep himself amused. So rest easy, America, there’s no need for regulation or panic. It’s simply a matter of time before the FSM tires of his game and restores balance and order to the market.

Repeat that often enough in a voice dripping confidence, and before you know it, the nation will be offering up prayers to the FSM.

The point is that when politics is reduced to theater, active citizens become passive spectators, content to sit silently and watch the show. If they don’t like it, the very worst they will do is leave at intermission. The days of throwing rotten tomatoes at poor actors are over. Your predecessor proved that.

In a political theater, all that matter is cosmetic changes. It was a masterstroke on your part to announce that you were going to reverse the presidential order limiting stem cell research. Right away the spectators believe they are witnessing the dawning of a new age. So enthralled are they that they never notice that meaningful systemic change is off the table.

The reason the public is so docile is summed up in the second operative phrase in the above quote: “consumer culture”. All a consumer cares about is being stimulated by a product or a brand or the image a logo projects. People are no longer judged by what they believe, but by what they wear. Now, when America rebels, she head to the mall to be pierced and tattooed. The discontented no longer issue manifestos; they make fashion statements.

I have high hopes for your administration. You are a suburb actor with consummate marketing skills. You will do well by doing nothing.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's business as usual!

My Dear Barack,

I hope you appreciate the deep debt of gratitude you own to the good citizens of San Francisco. It was they who returned Nancy “Make-Sure-Democrats-Don’t-Rock-The-Boat” Pelosi to office with an overwhelming majority. She brings to the office of Speaker of the House a quality one writer described as, “her paranoiac fear of leadership.”

She is a woman driven by the deep-seated belief that, “A new president must govern from the middle.”

Ah, the middle, that musty void where nothing is ventured and nothing is gained. It’s a political black hole where the timid cringe and dare not speak. As the troubadour sings, it is the place where “silence drowns the screams”[1] of the bombed and the dispossessed.

And thank God, Nancy has her enabler in Harry Reid who, after you were elected, reassured our kleptrocracy that, “This is not a mandate for a political party or an ideology.”

Brave words spoken by a brave man.

With Congress bent over and spreading its cheeks as it waits for your first legislative initiative, your foreign policy advisors are licking their chops in anticipation of a ramped up Cold War.

Yes, Barack, I am speaking of the goose that lays all those golden eggs so valued by our defense contractors. And what is the grain that is going to keep that goose fat and happy? Why, it’s none other than Ronnie’s exercise in dementia, the Missile Defense System that your unnamed predecessor wants to plant in Poland and Czechoslovakia, thus pissing the Russians off enough to start another arms race (Can’t you just hear those golden eggs dropping one after another).

According to another writer, “Obama’s foreign policy advisors have taken [Russia’s objection to the new system] as a ‘test’ of the new president’s mettle and persuaded him to publicly announce his commitment to [name deleted]’s Missile Defense system.”

How I love your foreign policy advisors, those aged children whose barnacle encrusted brains are frozen in the Cold War of the 50s and 60s. Listen to them and they will impart to you the arrested maturity needed to rule.

And, you are learning. Even before you’ve taken office you’ve reassured the Poles and the Czechs that you are committed to build this contract-rich system.

It’s been barely a week since your victory, and already our oligarchs are sleeping the sleep of the dead. That’s one hell of an accomplishment.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones


[1] King Crimson. “Court of the Crimson King”

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Intellectual Make Believe

Dear Barack,

I mentioned in an earlier letter that your greatest handicap while in office will be your intelligence. You must always be on guard against it lest you do something that would have unintended consequences.

For example, you undoubtedly find the effort to introduce Intelligent Design into our schools to be so much foolish nonsense, which it is. And it would be your instinct to discourage it.

But, before you do so, it would be wise to step back and place the Intelligent Design controversy into context because it is a key element in The Big Picture.

Your unnamed predecessor used Intelligent Design as a club to discredit science, and it is up to you to continue this effort. Now, I realize that this may be a little hard for you to wrap your intelligence around, so let me explain.

The trouble with science is that it deals with reality in a corporate culture that increasingly deals in fantasy and make-believe. (Were the public to share this obsession with reality, an entire public relations industry could be wiped out.)

So, by casting doubt on the theory of evolution, our oligarchs cast doubt on all of science. This is why the Republicans have been courting religious wingnuts. Nobody raises hell like the deluded.

If the public could be convinced that science screwed up evolution, it might ask what else science screwed up, like global warming--oops! I mean climate change.

Now we get to the crux of the matter. There are simply too many scientists pointing to the reality that Homo sapiens has pretty well trashed the planet and that we are living on borrowed time.

The danger is that if the public bought into this it would negatively impact the economy. The proles would engage in all sorts of unhealthy activities like walking or taking public transportation or growing their own food. Taking public transportation would be especially dangerous because the next thing you know, they’d want more of it. Hell, isn’t our automobile industry in enough trouble?

A dumbed-down public is a happy public. Why torment people with reality when they can live out whatever is left of their lives in blissful ignorance. It’s the humane thing to do. So, check yourself before your start criticizing Intelligent Design. It’s more intelligent than it appears.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

Monday, November 10, 2008

Practicing the "Faith"

My Dear Barack,

Let’s chit-chat about religion. I’m glad to see you’re carrying on the rightwing tradition of using religion as a smoke screen to divert the public’s attention away from the multiple sins of The Beast that is imperial power.

You understand that organized religion has but one function, and that is to erect a firewall between Christians and the teachings of Christ. Its raison d’√©tat is to marginalize all those who take Christ’s dictum to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, etc, and ad nauseam seriously, while it defends the status quo as defined by our corporate oligarchy.

You showed your true colors early in the campaign when the faux flap over Rev Jeremiah Wright exploded. Wright’s sin was carrying on Christ’s tradition of trashing a temple that served high priests instead of God. As expected, the angry Whitemen of the religious right threw a hissy-fit. “How dare Wright speak the truth,” they roared!

Wright was swimming upstream of a tradition that preachers are suppose to be polite and deferential unless they are raging against sins preapproved by our corporate elite such as gay marriage, sex, teenage pregnancies, porno or premarital sex. To rage against actual sins, such as prejudice or imperial wars, is unforgivable.

They screamed; you listened and dumped Wright.

There’s no faith like the pragmatic faith of one lusting after power. This is the faith that chalks the Cross on every bomb dropped on heathen villagers. It is a faith fed by a self-delusive hubris and exceptionalism.

I have pointed out to your predecessor (whose name will never be mentioned in these letters) that religion serves The Beast best when the ego farts and the soul thinks the breath of the Spirit is upon it. It is when the ego is stilled that religion can become a malignant force for systemic reform. We saw this with the Civil Rights movement. (Nobody seems to have noticed how White televangelists started to grow in influence and power as a result of that debacle.)

I rest easy knowing that you will keep Christianity safe and sanitized. Christianity must continue to be an instrument of social control. Whenever it slips the bounds of propriety, all hell breaks loose.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Let us now praise wealthy madmen

Dear Barack,

It’s time we talked about The Market, that utopian place where rational beings make rational decisions based on rational self-interest, the sum total of these decisions guaranteeing that The Market will maintain equilibrium and will insure the positive outcomes for the public.

Not.

According to the proponents of behavioral finance, the market is a mob that behaves like a mob, driven as it is by primal emotions. On writer explains:

The current events in the financial markets are much better explained by the next great paradigm shift in economics, behavioral finance. Here, it is not assumed that human economic actors operate with computer-like logic and dispassion, but are subject to the same wide emotional swings from euphoria to panic, from fear to greed, that is expected in the rest of the human condition. This framework much better explains a financial system willing to lend to anything with over 40 chromosomes (“46 chromosomes? That’s so old fashioned!”) a few years ago, but unwilling to lend even to itself right now.

Warren Buffet knew what he was doing when the planted his desk in a Nebraska cornfield, well away from the hysteria that is Wall Street.

The basic mechanisms that drive the market are ego, greed and stupidity.

Ego is the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves, and stupidity is the conviction that we couldn’t possibly be wrong.

Greed is grossly misunderstood. Everyone assumes it is driven by a desire for money and power. Neither money nor power has anything to do with it. On the contrary, all greed lusts after is to the fawning adoration of all the creatures it believes to be its inferiors. Money and power simply facilitate greed, they aren’t its object.

Greed doesn’t fear going broke; it fears the mob turning on it when it realizes greed is simply so much hot air.

Your job, as president, is to stroke The Market and reassure it that it amounts to something. Praise its wisdom even as it shakes itself apart in a paroxysm of stupidity. Preach the superstition that it will eventually achieve balance and equilibrium, even though The Market’s idea of equilibrium is a blind tightrope walker clinging to the wire by his toenail.

However, when madmen finance your campaign, you have an obligation to praise their sanity.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Upholding the Tradition

My Dear Barack,

I’ve been racking my brain trying to come up with a concise statement that would explain the tradition that you are charged with upholding once you are sworn in. You are entering the pantheon of the gods (at least since Ronnie), and it is important that you carry on their work.

There are those on the left who are hoping your will trash these venerable traditions, but I have faith your will uphold them. Under you, it will be business as usual. The only change we can believe in is that it will be conducted with a smile instead of a sneer.

Well, I have found such a statement of principle. Believe it or not, it was written by that flaming Hollywood liberal, John Cusack who said,

A horrible cross-pollination of fundamentalism, dementia and market fever has turned America into a willing enabler of corporate cannibalism. Nothing else to call it when murder is seen as a legitimate extension of economic policy.

Sure, Cusack got a little too judgmental for my taste, but if you pare that away; you have a small nugget of truth.

It takes a rare combination of character and will to bomb women and children for the greater glory of a free and prosperous market. Corporatism is a paradox in that is its growth is grounded in death. Don’t believe for a moment that human sacrifice ended with the Aztecs. It continues today. The only difference is that our high priests have discovered the economy of scale.

The Aztec sacrificed one person at a time on altars high atop their pyramids. We pack the pyramids, asshole-to-belly-button, with the innocent and then reduce the pyramids to rubble with our smart bombs made of depleted uranium. Then we give Halliburton a no-bid contract to construct a new one.

It takes a backbone of steel to rule America, and you must accept the fact that when you leave office, that backbone will be rotted through with corrosion. But that, Barack, is the price you pay for greatness.

My only concern is that you appear too sane for the job. Do yourself a favor and surround yourself with psychopathic advisors. They will teach you the madness you need to lead. Embrace men totally devoid of morality who view decency as a character defect. Do this, and your legacy is assured.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

Friday, November 7, 2008

Doing the Right Thing

Dear Barack,

My heart leapt with joy when I read that you had selected Rahm Emanuel as your White House chief of staff. I knew I could count on you to do the right thing. Sure, the proles and the media are all gaga over the dawning of a new age, a seismic shift, a paradigm change, the breaking of a new dawn, the reincarnation of the American Dream and all that other blather.

But I knew, in my heart of hearts, that you were a card-carrying member of the Corporatist Party, the one true party that has transcended the petty partisan divisions that serve only to hamper the efficiency that is only possible in a one-party country.

You will be under a lot of pressure as our Corporatists continue to trash the economy. There will be demands that the Democratic Party shore up its former base, the common man (the operative word here is “former”). Resist the pressure. Slather some populist rhetoric over the proles and continue to protect your true base, our kleptrocracy.

Never lose sight of the fact that our democratic republic is fueled not by debate and discussion, nor information nor education. It is fueled by marketing.

American marketing’s genius is selling the malignant as the divine. The corporatist state has convinced the public to find fulfillment as a host for the parasitic market. The masses glory in their role as victim, which they mistake for their elevation and glorification. This genius sells servitude as rebellion, conformity as individuation, and docility as assertiveness. By making them complicit in their enslavement they go peacefully.

This is the tradition you have inherited, and this is the tradition you must continue. And I have every faith that you shall do so.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I worship and admire thee!

My Dear Barack,

Let me say from the get-go that I have always loved and admired you. You are my light of light, my very God of very God, begotten…

But I digress.

The moment they projected you as our next leader, I knew my destiny was to serve you just as I served your predecessor. Yes, Barack, it was my sage advice that has brought America to where she is today, and I hope to continue this tradition as you prepare to assume the mantle as our unitary commander-in-chief.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to start with a mild criticism. As it stands now, you have two weaknesses---maturity and judgment. You see, the Oval Office is a sheltered workshop for arrested adolescents, so the first thing you have to do if you want to lead is dumb yourself down.

Now, let’s talk legacy. Your primary responsibility as our leader is not to tackle the manifold problems that beset America; it is to secure your legacy by starting a war. Every president in the twentieth century either started a war or ramped up the one he inherited. There were two exceptions to this rule, Coolidge and Hoover, and the result was the Great Depression.

Wilson gave us World War I, FDR gave us World War II, Truman gave us Hiroshima and Korea, Eisenhower started the ball rolling in Vietnam, Kennedy took Vietnam to the next level and brought us to the brink of a nuclear holocaust, Johnson turned Vietnam into a bloodbath, Nixon added Cambodia to the mix, Carter laid the groundwork for Afghanistan and 9/11, Ronnie gave us Grenada, Bush I was a busy little bee with Panama and Gulf I, Clinton gave us Iraq and Monica, and Bush II turned both Iraq and Afghanistan into full fledged quagmires.

So, I am pleased to see that you are laying the groundwork for you own war in Pakistan. If you pull that off and keep things hopping in Iraq and Afghanistan, history will remember you as the first president to keep three wars in the air at the same time. You’ve got to rattle those sabers if you want to keep America humming.

I look forward to many years of devoted service to your greatness. Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask. I never once steered your predecessor wrong. All you have to do is keep our kleptrocracy happy, and you can look forward to a profitable eight years.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Analysis, 2008

Dear George,

Shit!

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's Here!

Dear George,

Well, it’s here at last, that day when the proles tumble into democracy’s sandbox and pretend they’re free citizens casting a free vote that will actually change something.

It’s a quadrennial sham that keeps pundits gainfully employed as they prattle on and on about anything and everything as long as it has nothing to do with any substantive issues.

This year’s campaign is different in one respect in that even though you have spent eight years totally fucking up America by turning it into a giant pork barrel for your cronies, the media really hasn’t raked you over the coals. Your Middle East quagmires are barely mentioned, and your name never comes up in discussions of our trashed economy

Your innocence is assured because you have become a nonperson.

But, you played your role well as a front man for the rabid ideologues who wanted to make America the New Rome and in the process have made her the New Haiti.

I’ve been doing my part for the cause by registering as many voters as I can. Believe me, I’m dead certain these voters will go for you.

However, I do have to get down to the county clerk’s office and make a few corrections. Flee-Fornication Smyth was born in 1986, not 1686, and Jebediah Johnson was born in 1980, not 1780.

The lesson there is don’t register graveyards whilst stoned.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

P.S. I assume you have all your ducks in a row should the election go the wrong way.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Marketing God

Dear George,

My, how effete liberals love to bitch about our national ignorance. One writer got his knickers in a knot because only 26 percent of Americans believe that evolution takes place through natural selection. So, what did he expect; we’re a pious fucking nation.

He then goes on to say, “Religion—in particular fundamentalist religion—makes you stupid.”

There is a man who mistakenly assumes that fundamentalism has something to do with religion. Fundamentalism is not a product of divine revelation; it is a product of clever marketing, and, no, I’m not talking about programs like The 700 Club. What I am talking about is decades of sophisticated marketing for everything from soft drinks to roll-on deodorants that has convinced the American public that it is entitled to a life of blissful happiness unsullied by even the smallest of dust motes.

Life, as we know, sucks, so it is only a matter of time before naiveté is screwed to the wall and disillusionment sets in. Trapped in a vale of tears, the poor darlings look about for relief. Soft drinks no longer work, nor do labels or logos. Moisturizers do nothing for an arid soul, and a new wardrobe leaves them as miserable as they ever were and even deeper in debt.

Cue the preachers and their promises of heavenly rewards that await the suffering and their assurances that the key to bliss on earth is to plunge into ignorance and superstition. “Believe and you, too, can skip through la-la land with a beatific smile on your face,” they tell them. The newly converted don’t embrace God, the embrace another product that promises smooth skin and unbroken happiness. Everything will be fine as long as you believe.

In their embrace of this new product, they lose sight of the fact that God only promises two things: the strength to endure hardship, and the perspective to understand that good times never last. What they think they are getting is a God who will keep the good times rolling.

But deep in their heart of hearts, they know this is bullshit. No matter how loudly they proclaim their ffaith they know that fate pisses on the just and the unjust, and they do their damndest to ignore this truth. Thus is born a siege mentality that views anything that deviates from their crippled doctrine as a threat. Everything not like them is Satan tempting them to leave the fold and wander the scorched and barren fields of reality. So, they barricade themselves in their mega churches to maintain the illusion that dinosaurs supplied the meat in man’s prehistoric diet.

This is what happens when a society disintegrates into a random collection of atoms spinning out of control. The loss of community leaves a vacuum into which a well-tailored televangelist readily steps with his promises eternal bliss. It’s either that or controlled substances.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Free Enterprise and Our Endless Wars

President Bush will bequeath to his successor the ultimate self-licking ice cream cone. To defense contractors, lobbyists, think-tankers, ambitious military officers, the hosts of Sunday morning talk shows, and the Douglas Feith-like creatures who maneuver to become players in the ultimate power game, the Global War on Terror is a boon, an enterprise redolent with opportunity and promising to extend decades into the future.

--Andrew J. Bacevich



Dear George,

There you have it in a nutshell: everything you need to know about your Eternal War of the Empty Policy. In the end, it’s all about free enterprise, and that ultimate American freedom, the freedom of a few to make a bundle off the misery of the many.

It’s common sense. We are a warrior nation, sort of, though it’s more accurate to say that we are a nation controlled by a warrior elite who realize that the ultimate profit center is a war of any kind on anything.

Wars on (fill in the blank) are elaborate sleights on hand that give the illusion that our elite are attacking a given problem head-on when, in fact, they are insuring that the problem will continue in perpetuity so they can continue to profit from it. The simple fact is that, economically, we can afford peace on any front.

Bacevich elaborates on this point when, speaking of your GWOT, he says, “[The] very enterprise has become a fiction, a gimmicky phrase employed to lend an appearance to a panoply of activities that, in reality, are contradictory, counterproductive, or at the very least beside the point.”

He goes on to cite the War on Drugs, which he describes as “a very expensive fraud,” as an example of this. The public has been led to believe that the goal of the War on Drugs is to stop the flow of drugs into the country and, in doing so, cure our national addiction to controlled substances.

Bullshit!

Its real purpose is to give us multiple opportunities to mess in the affairs of foreign nations and to establish client states in countries where both oil and drug trafficking thrive, such as Columbia, or where we want to run an oil pipeline, such as Afghanistan.

If we were really serious about stopping drug use, we would legalize them and use the billions we would save by halting our futile interdiction activities to provide free treatment to any addict who wanted it, because every addict, at one point or another, wants treatment.

This will never happen because the first rule of free enterprise is that you don’t eat the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Not only is America addicted to drugs, it is addicted to the income generated by the useless and expensive to stop them at our borders, because war is capitalism Viagra.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Voluntary Servitude of the Free

Dear George,

The cornerstone of stability in a democratic society is voluntary servitude. This is what keeps the proles all in a row and quiet. Such a state is the result of an atomized individualism in which existence is reduced to the superficial. When identity is little more than what you wear, what you drink and stainless steel kitchen appliances in your newly redecorated kitchen, life is reduced to a mirror in which the individual preens and postures.

This habituation is what makes deep systemic changes in a society that is corrupt and rotten to the core unlikely. If something isn’t working, redecorate it, slap a new coat of paint on it and buy new furniture. As long as it looks new, nothing else matters. Termites may be gnawing at the joists and beams, but who cares as long at the scent of fresh paint is in the air.

With the proles dutifully pulling on their forelocks as they max out their plastic, a vacuum is created in which a barbarian elite is given free rein to suck the country dry. Engulfed by the soothing notes of canned music and a proliferation of screens wherever they go, the proles never hear the sound of money bags being dragged from the treasury.

Eight years of barbarian rule have emptied the treasury ensnared the proles in a web of debt peonage. The barbarians have gangbanged Columbia, leaving her an aged whore desperately applying layer after layer of pancake makeup in a vain effort to conceal the dissipation that pinches her face.

They have succeeded because their energy comes from the bile that curdles their souls and gives rise to the vileness that is the very foundation of power. It is this bile that explains how a country with a mere 5 percent of the world’s population has incarcerated 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.

Ah, but the termites continue gnaw, and the beams and joist become weaker and weaker as the barbarians militarize police departments and station brigades on Main Street against the day when the proles finally realize that they’ve been had and storm Wall Street.

…if they do. As Samuel Beckett wrote, “We have time to grow old; the air is full of our cries, but habit is a great deadener.”

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones