Thursday, April 30, 2009

Healing Nature

It is man's destiny to clear-cut every forest he bumps into. The reason is quite simple: Forests are not sylvan temples where we go to worship nature; they are dark and evil places where ogres, trolls, witches, flesh-devouring wolves and property owning bears dwell. They are places where human life is sucked dry and enfolded into the forest floor.

Hansel and Gretel didn’t meet the witch at Williams-Sonoma; they met her in the forest! The wolf didn’t hit on Little Red Riding Hood at the mall; he hit on her in the forest:

The only way to grow a crop in the forest is to destroy it; the only way to make a profit is to pave it. You chop down the smaller trees, gird the big ones and wait for them to die. It is not until they are gone and only a barren field is left that life as we know it can begin.

Conrad Richter’s novel The Fields follows the life of a late eighteenth century family’s battle against the forest as they clear a small field in which they plant their crops. He is how one character reacts to the forest:

All around, you could feel the woods swarming and crowding, butt to butt, with branches matted and braided, all shrouded with moss, older than the wild bulls’ trail and dark as midnight, running on and on a slew of miles you couldn’t count, over hills and bottoms and soft oozy swamps, north to the English Lakes and west to the big prairies. That was the power of woods at night to feel around you.

It was good to come out in her own clearing where it still had some light left and to tramp clear of the trees. The only thing left of the big butts in here was their stumps, and that was the best part, for the stumps couldn’t shut you in, and you could grow life-giving crops around them. ..They made a pleasing sight to a settler; for the best way such liked the trees was down, with their arms slashed off and ready for burning. The sweetest sound to a human deep in these woods was the hard whack of the axe, cutting or splitting, trimming or hewing, ringing a long ways through the timber until all the trees around knew what was coming.

Nature is a fucking mess and it is our destiny to scrub her clean and sanitize her until she is fit for human habitation. Nature is where disease grows, where the stench of rotting death fills the air, and where evil mists hug the hollows as the night air warms. Nature is an orgy of life that stifles human progress and ingenuity. It is a place “red in tooth and claw” where human domination is the only possible road to peace and stability.

We must wring order out of nature even if it leads to our extinction, for it is far better to die a glorious extinction in the name of progress then to lead a life of sloth and indolence fed by nature’s harvest.

--Belacqua Jones

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Media minds know from nothing about torture.

Our leaders are able to get away with what they get away with, be it torture or the looting the public treasury, because of a glitch in the American psyche known as the media mind.

The symptom of such a mind is its inability to focus on more than one lead story at a time during any 24-hour news cycle. A secondary characteristic is its tendency to become bored with any lead story that lasts more than seven consecutive news cycles, unless it involves a celebrity murder or big boobs. (Lead stories tend to be upsetting, which is why they must be neutralized by trivia and non-homicidal celebrity gossip.)

There is a very telling quote from William Pfaff that illustrates such a mind at work:

President Obama’s unwillingness to see his first term dominated by the crimes of the Bush administration is comprehensible.

Of course it is, because mounting an investigation into the multiple war crimes of the Bush administration would dominate the news and put a major hurting on Obama’s ability to use it to forward his agenda.

And this brings us back to the media mind that can only handle one lead story at a time. This mindset is so pervasive that both those who produce media and those who consume it are unaware of its influence.

Even though the Beltway is a hotbed of multitasking, the media mind assumes that should Obama begin an investigation in to the Bush war crimes, everything else would grind to a screeching halt as all three branches of government focused on the investigation 24/7.

Obama says he wants to move forward instead of dredging up the past. An unwillingness to dredge up the past is the fervent wish of every criminal who has ever stood before a judge and jury. “Gosh, you honor! So I cut up my girlfriend and sent her body ‘cross the River Jordan in sixteen garbage bags. Shouldn’t we concentrate on the future instead of obsessing on the past?”

The media mind thrives because it has no past; it has only “Today.” To speak of “Today in history” is meaningless since there is no history in “Today.” There is only “Today,” that pin-prick laser of the”Now” that keeps the past buried in the shadows where the crimes of the powerful are concealed.

--Belacqua Jones

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nothing is something after all!

To paraphrase the late I.F. Stone, all an informed citizen has to remember is two words: governments lie, which is why the state prefers its citizens uninformed and distracted. This is the mission of our 24/7 cable news channels.

And since the United States Government is now a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs, and since Goldman is a corporation, it follows that all corporations lie, as well, a fact well established by the glowing 1Q financial reports issued by our zombie banks.

Lies, cover-ups, smoke and mirrors, deception and prevarications are necessary because the corporate state is engaged in extractive revenue generation, which involves the siphoning off of both private and public funds so they can be put to work creating wealth without producing anything.

For this operation to run smoothly, two requirements must be met: the public must be convinced that nothing is something, and that the free market must be destroyed.

Making something of nothing is easy. You simply take nothing and repeat over and over again that it’s something, even though it’s nothing. But because the aforementioned 24/7 news channels repeat this resounding truth over and over again, the public begins to see nothing as something, even though it’s still nothing. This, then, how we maintain our prosperity.

A fart is simply the aftermath of eating too many burritos. Therefore, the focus should be on the burritos. But the corporate state, in its wisdom, prefers to ignore the burritos and focus only on the fart and to pretend that the odor is perfume.

Fastidiousness is the midwife of oppression, and it is our obsession with this fastidiousness that has made the destruction of the marketplace possible. Our citizens value predictability over the messy spontaneity of freedom. Why should they tolerate the shrill hawking and shilling of the bazaar when they can be numbed by the dull thud of the electronic image dancing across their collective brain. (This is why a the market and business are mutually exclusive. A market is made up of small, social institutions, while business congeals into a concentrated oligarch of wealth and power.)

It is a comfort to them to know that the Big Mac they scarf in Vienna will be exactly the same as one scarfed down in Leonardo, NJ.

The numbed mind must be believe that tomorrow will be a carbon copy of today, and that happiness is to be found in the mindlessness of repetition creeping on from day to day. They believe because the experts say it’s so, even though expertise in little more that a habituation so deeply ingrained that our experts are blind to its destructiveness.

But who cares as long as nothing is something.

--Belacqua Jones

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Piss Christ

It takes a delicate touch to keep God from becoming problematic. The truth is that God is an amalgam of Eros and Thanatos, which merge to give life its creative force. But God can only be brought into politics if we emphasize Thanatos and paint Eros with the black tar of sin and decadence.

This is why our religious right harkens back to the God of the Old Testament with his fiery sword of death and destruction, and why anything that might hint at God as Eros is meant with the spittle-spray of Christian wrath.

An example of this surfaced in 1989 when the photographer/artist Andres Serrano put on display a photograph titled Piss Christ that showed a crucifix suspended in a gallon of the artist’s urine.

The religious right went bonkers! They had to attack the work because Serrano had done nothing less than produce a deeply profound work of religious art that opened up to the viewers a deeper understanding of the wholeness and unity of God’s creation. Here was Eros trying to kick in their door. The right had to barricade it.

Piss is a victim of bad press. We hide it in our toilets and pretend it doesn’t exist by never mentioning it in polite society. And this is as it must be, for the truth of the matter is that piss is a life-sustaining fluid. Piss nurtures life by carrying the poisons out of our bodies. Without it, we would die. Therefore, piss is an integral component of God’s creation.

And, this was the problem with Serrano’s Piss Christ. The crucifix was suspended in a life-sustaining fluid, a fluid that made God’s creation possible. The last thing the religious right wanted was the public popping a bunch of epiphanies in which they saw the all-embracing nature of God’s creation, how even the ugly and the despised are as important to life as the beautiful and the sublime. For in piss, Thanatos and Eros are a unified whole.

The religious right preaches that God’s creation is selective! The belief that it is all-embracing is a heresy that must be suppressed at all costs.

As always, God rides into politics on the Devil’s back.

--Belacqua Jones

Friday, April 24, 2009

How to give CPR to a zombie.

On the surface, the mad burlesque of our banks trying to restore investor confidence by resorting to assorted accounting gimmicks that undermine what little investor confidence is left appears to be madness. Yet, this is the very madness that propels Wall Street.

Wall Street is a magic kingdom where if you say it, it will be so, since everybody believes it is so, even though it isn’t so, but who gives a fat flying fuck as long as everybody says it’s so.

So it is that they tell us our economic downturn has touched bottom. It makes no difference that what’s been touched isn’t bottom but is the submerged corpse of a zombie bank acting as if it’s out for a swim.

The Fed has pumped $13 trillion into the economy. The beauty of the number “trillion” is that it rhymes with “billion” and “million” so the public tends to conflate the three and has no feel for their relationship. If, instead of dollars, you denominate the three words in seconds, you get the following:

· A million equals 11.7 days
· A billion equals 37 years
· A trillion equals 37,000 years

So the Fed has pumped the equivalent of 481,000 years worth of capital into the system in an effort to replace the eons of capital the downturn has vaporized, even though the capital lost wasn’t real but was primarily indebtedness that was entered on the asset side of the ledger.

Of course, the money the Fed’s pumped into the economy isn’t exactly real either. It is what we say it is even though it really isn’t, but, once again, who gives a fat flying fuck if everyone says it’s real. It’s all a matter of which high priest can cast the best spell.

It is with a blind faith in sorcery that the Fed curls its toes into the sunken corpse and sees the light at the end of the tunnel even though it’s several hundred feet below the surface of water so murky it can’t see shit.

--Belacqua Jones

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pacis pro Diripio

It is axiomatic that the sole qualification for leadership is an inflated ego. What many fail to realize that inflated egos are equally important for the masses. When the ego is elevated, a space is staked out and barricaded against the vibrancy of the outside world. Thus, the world becomes the “other,” an external threat that controls the mob and keeps it inside.

An inflated ego keeps exiles God to a distant galaxy. This allows the state to use a pale imitation of God, not to liberate, but to enslave. This tepid God becomes the soothing voice whispering at the outer edges of the ego as it seeks fulfillment through louder noises and more expensive toys.

The state must destroy God as a living presence in the here and now and place Him in a utopian future created from the smoke and mirrors of push polls and rhetoric that inspires as it numbs. It must create a world in God’s image only to the extent that the sweet breath of the Spirit is replaced by death’s rank stench of destruction.

The ego flourishes best in the brightness of a bank of fluorescent lights that cast no shadows. The darkness of doubt and uncertainty are dangerous, for they can lead to questions, which, in turn, can lead to thought. Then there is the danger that one of the proles might look out his window and be appalled at what he saw.

The state owes a huge debt of gratitude to pharmaceuticals and their meds that insure the healthy growth of the ego. Let the ego be glorified in its medicated purity; let it find the peace that passeth all understanding in the next prescription refill.

--Belacqua Jones

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Celebrating the nature that really isn't nature, but we celebrate it anyway.

Today is Earth Day, that marvelous study in hypocrisy. This is not a criticism since hypocrisy is the mortar that binds together the blocks of dried bullshit that constitute the infrastructure of Wall Street and its subsidiary, the Beltway.

On the surface, Earth Day celebrates nature. But in reality, the nature we celebrate is not the green, verdant temple our poets and minstrels praise. The nature we celebrate is ours, our wonderfully destructive human nature.

Creationists have it half right. The world is divinely created, but God isn’t responsible. Rather, Earth was created by a demigod named Jehovah, who was long on anger and revenge and short on love and compassion.

After Jehovah created Adam, he created the first woman, Lilith. Lilith took a look around and decided that the Garden of Eden was a waste. She also had no intention of subordinating herself to Adam. Adam bitched to Jehovah, who replaced Lilith with Eve.

This pissed Lilith off, who transformed herself into a Serpent and had a little chit-chat with Eve, thus forcing Man to work for a living.

The earth has been around for 4.5 billion years, and Jehovah is getting bored. This is why he gave us dominion over nature; He figured we’d trash it. He gave us mountains to top, aquifers to drain and forests to clear cut. Our destiny clear; it is to turn Mother Earth into a barren crone who can’t stand the sight of our species.

So while our leaders pledge themselves to the preservation of nature, they fully understand that this pledge in no way impinges upon the state’s right to destroy it in the name of national and corporate security.

Where would our firebombing of Dresden have been if landmark preservationists had objected How much Agent Orange could we have dumped on Vietnam if the Department of Environmental Protection (EPA) had declared it a carcinogenic?

What Man doesn’t pave, he either defoliates or blows up.

Man has dominion, and dominion is all about power, which is only concerned with the “now” and not the consequences of its actions. For the powerful, the future is a chimera that never comes because the next hour, the next day and the next millennium are only real when they are “now.” This is freedom in its purest form—the freedom from consequences.

We breed children to clean up the messes we make, and they end up making their own messes.

The secret to a successful Earth Day celebration is to keep it unreal. We praise what little nature is left without noticing that which we have destroyed.

It’s a celebration of the hypocrisy that has gotten us to where we are today.

--Belacqua Jones

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The nation is not so the state may be.

Any given country is made up of two components: the nation and the state, state meaning the center of governance and power.

“Nation” is an umbrella term that refers to the groups and subgroups that make up a country’s culture. The diverse values of its citizens are embedded in the nation. The nation is chaotic, disorderly and lacks efficiency, for it requires constant bickering to achieve the compromise and conciliation that are needed for effective action. All too often, the outcome of this bickering is an obsession with the common welfare.

The “state,” on the other hand, seeks power and authority so it may bring order and stability to the nation and impose upon it its own values of conquest and exploitation. Its power tends to puddle in one or more centers. In the case of America, it has puddled around the Beltway and Wall Street.

Traditionally, constitutions and common law are in place to protect the nation from the state.

The state achieves power by co-opting the nation’s values, corrupting them, and using them not as instruments of welfare and peace but as justifications for repression and home and conquest abroad. It recasts these values as absolutes that are propagandized to produce compliance and obedience.

The nation thrives on diversity; the state thrives on conformity.

If the nation represents the chaos of a life force that maintains itself in a constant state of tense equilibrium, then the state ultimately expresses itself as death, through incarceration, execution, and the sacrificing of the flower of its youth to advance its interests. The end is always the same: the enhancement of the state’s power. There is no other rationale for its existence.

To thrive, the state must twist Christianity, with its message of love and universal brotherhood, into a message of God’s wrath and retribution, making of the state a wagon train drawn into a circle and surrounded by a dark, alien force. Church and state work hand in hand to undercut freedom so they might protect “people of faith” from the “evil” forces that would destroy its civilization by strapping a nuke to a camel and sending it for a stroll down Wall Street.

The state achieves its ends with a rhetorical arsenal that includes “inversion of language, verbal inflation, libel, rumor, euphemism and coded phrases, rhetorical wantonness, redundancy, hyperbole, such profusion in speech and sound that comprehension is impaired, nonsense, sophistry, jargon, noise, incoherence, a chaos of voices and tongues, falsehood, blasphemy.”[1]

To succeed, there must be a disconnect between the state and its citizens. These citizens must be reduced to a passive horde so wrapped up in themselves that they could care less about the antics of the state.

A good citizen is one who mistakes the fiery sword of conquest for the shepherds crook.

--Belacqua Jones

[1] Stringfellow, William. An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Happy days seem to kind of be here, again.

The banks are once again profitable and all is well, at least on the surface. But then, the surface is all that matters, because Wall Street's religion is an ideological optimism elevated to the level of a fetish.

Saturday’s Times made note of the sharp pencil used to generate Citigroup’s $1.6 billion net profit. As the paper explained:

Behind that figure was some fuzzy math. Like several other banks that reported surprisingly strong results this week, Citigroup used some creative accounting, all of it legal, to bolster its bottom line at a pivotal moment.

(The law has nothing to do with integrity. It's only concern is, "Whose ox was gored?")

What the Citigroup did was use an arcane devise known as a Credit Value Adjustment (CVA), which is defined, in part, as the difference between a risk-free portfolio and the true market value.”

The value of their bonds has tanked. This has allowed them to claim the difference between the book and market value of its bonds as an asset to reflect the savings it maybe would have realize if it were to purchase its own debt at its depressed value instead of the value at which it was initially issued, thus boosting its bottom line with this phantom asset.

For example, say Citigroup issued a bond with a book value of $25,000 and said bond now has a market value of $5,000. The bank is claiming the $20,000 difference as an asset on the assumption that it could buy back its debt at the reduced price, or something like that...

Understand, Citigroup is not the only sharp pencil on Wall Street. According to Julian Delasantellis:

[A] major factor in Goldman Sachs’ blowout first-quarter earnings of $1.8 billion was that in December the bank took massive writeoffs of bad loans amounting to about $1.3 billion, but in the process of switching from a fiscal accounting year that ends in November to one that follows the calendar year, Goldman did not report the loses in the last quarter of ’08, as it also didn’t do for the first quarter of ’09. Like a ghost ship of the accursed from Pirates of the Caribbean, apparently, the December numbers are damned to be forever lost and forsaken, a legend that the firm would much rather forget and ignore.

Yes, happy days are here, again, as Wall Street discovers that the quickest way to hide red ink is to slather it with black paint. In the Never-Never Land of Wall Street, zombie banks live and are flush with health; they jog, workout at the gym and gorge themselves on health food. The trick is not to look too closely, because if we do so, that healthy glow will turn out to be grease paint.

Wall Street reminds me of the years I spent trying to live by my wits until Idiscovered I didn't have any.

--Belacqua Jones

Friday, April 17, 2009

Protecting our Torturers

I was thrilled to see that Spain and the United States have decriminalize War Crimes.

Spain’s attorney general has decided not to prosecute the “Bush Six” for their roles in authorizing the torture of terrorist suspects, and the Obama administration will not bring charges against the CIA employees who engaged in it.

It’s high time, I say. The entire concept of war crimes is archaic and outmoded in a time when the country threatened by an Islamofascist faux terrorism. There is no doubt that the decision not to prosecute the perpetrators will add even more pissed-off Muslims to their ranks, which will justify even further torture. But, it’s a small price to pay for our security.

The Spanish attorney general said, “If one is dealing with a crime of mistreatment of prisoners of war, the complaint should go against those who physically carried it out.”
(So much for the Geneva Conventions.)

As ground breaking as the attorney general’s statement was, it still left the perpetrators dangling in the breeze.

Thankfully, the Obama administration came to their rescue when it decided not to prosecute the CIA officials who did the actual torturing.”

He went on to say, “We have been through a dark and painful chapter in our history. But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying the blame for the past.”

It’s a pity Obama wasn’t the lead defense council at the Nuremberg trials.

Attorney General Eric Holder said, “It would be unfair to prosecute dedicated men and women working to protect America for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by the Justice Department.

So, “I was just following orders,” is a legal defense after all.

The only decent thing for America to do, now, is to pressure the German government to grand post-mortem pardons to all the Nazis wrongfully convicted by the Nuremberg tribunal. It appears they were all innocent.

And to think I was worried that Obama would trash all the gains made by the Bush administration.

Moral relativity rocks!

--Belacqua Jones

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Eternal Happiness of Unhappiness

I have been smitten with another insite. No, I don’t mean insight. This is much more profound. An insite means that I have placed my head in another ineffable place where demons sing in my ear.

Here it is!

Social control is all a matter of illusion, a legerdemain of such subtly that the proles never notice. It is a multiplicity of commands so muted that they are dutifully internalized to such an extent that the prospect of even questioning them, let along changing or eliminating them are never even considered.

One of the better ones is the pervasive belief that we are entitled to happiness. With this little maxim in tow our anguish increases when things go wrong. This is crucial for the well ordered state because anguish is not anger. Anguish further atomizes an already fragmented community because we hide our anguish from our neighbor and put on a happy face less our neighbor thinks us neurotic.

On the other hand, anger is a danger to the well-ordered state because angry people tend to vent, and this leads to intercourse with their neighbors who may well be an angry as they are. This could lead to the formation of a group that could well lead to the solidarity and cohesion of a movement.

Anguish serves the state; anger threatens it.

Since we believe we are entitled to happiness, we believe that the lack of it is because of something we did or didn’t do. We didn’t work hard enough; we didn’t kiss up to the boss enough. Somewhere, there is an enough that was left undone.

This leads us to entitlement’s corollary: the belief that we can regain happiness by reinventing our self, because in a happy society, suffering is all in our mind since our neighbor is always wearing a happy face. So all we need do is retool our existence.

Little do we realize that “inventing our self” is an ontological fallacy since a subject can’t be its own object. So we make some superficial changes and convince ourselves that our continued misery is only an illusion and that we are really happy in spite of our unhappiness.

There is a subversive Spanish proverb that reads, “There is no happiness; there are only moments of happiness.” Let’s hope the state keeps that one under lock and key.

--Belacqua Jones

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Sweetness of Contemporary Corruption

I am getting tired of cynics who tell us that Congress in an open septic tank overflowing with the raw sewage of corruption.

In truth, it’s a bit more sophisticated than that.

Granted, raw sewage is pumped into the Beltway via open trenches. While the widest and deepest trench runs down the East Coast from Wall Street, other trenches snake out from the country’s other power centers. The defense industry is no slouch when it comes to sewage pumping.

However, contemporary corruption is polite and elegant. The bagman is an extinct species, and envelopes crammed with small, unmarked bills are no longer passed under the table.

The raw sewage is never pumped directly into the capitol. Instead, it is pumped, first, into the K Street Sewage Treatment Plant. There it is sanitized, deodorized and packed into innocent looking bales before being trucked over to Congress in the form of “campaign contributions.”

It’s still sewage, but it smells sweeter.

We would do well to think of this corruption as the fertilizer that feeds our greatness. It is the new democracy in which the rights of our corporations are jealously guarded with the assurance that as our corporations prosper, their wealth will trickle down to the poor and the disenfranchised.

It is unfortunate that our current economic meltdown has revealed that the only thing that trickled down was the urine of the rich. This is why our oligarchs need the best PR firms money can buy to convince the masses that the piss is really milk and honey.

Let the rest of the world riot. America takes care of her own by feeding them a steady diet of this milk and honey.

--Belacqua Jones

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bankers: America's Freedom Fighters

Bankers man the ramparts of our nation’s liberty. They are the point men in the eternal battle against the serfdom of ethics and integrity. This is why they want their handouts of public money with no strings attached.

In the lower echelons of society, this would be called extortion; in polite society, it’s called an economic stimulus plan.

As Wall Street’s cupbearer, Obama should understand this. Yet, he insists on attaching conditions to the bales of taxpayer money being pumped into our dying banks. This is cruel and must stop, and this is why Saturday’s Times tells us that our brave bankers are starting to shove back.

To begin with, they resent being forced to sell their toxic assets at less than the 91 cents on the dollar at which they are valuing them. The fact that a free market is only willing to pay 30 cents on the dollar is irrelevant. A free man deserves top dollar for his screw ups. Only an oppressive and authoritarian government would force him to sell them for what they’re worth.

They are also rebelling against the restrictions on executive pay that was a condition of the bailout. Such a restriction is like telling a mugger that he can only take fifty percent of his victim’s cash instead of all of it. The only way a banker can thrive is if he is allowed to game the system for all it’s worth.

So, some of the healthier banks are trying to give their handouts back, but are shocked and appalled to discover that the government is going to charge them interest. Interest is for suckers, not for freedom fighters!

Reality has no place in the world of finance corporatism. Finance corporatism is like the ads in Architectural Digest: suave, elegant and gaily colored. Such ads never show the termites that are gnawing away at the beams and joists. The last thing we want to do is raise our eyes and look at the destruction towards which we are marching.

Freedom is all about illusion, and Obama has a moral obligation to do all he can to preserve and protect it, and the first thing he must do is get off our bankers’ backs and let them do what they do best—act like Peter Pans who will never grow up!

--Belacqua Jones

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Canonizing the Lie

Lying is a sin; therefore, the only Christian way to deal with the lie is to declare it true. Lies are too important to consign our corporate plutocrats to Hell for mouthing them. If, however, every lie they utter is true, then their place in Paradise is assured.

The lie has increased in importance as America has transitioned from manufacturing capitalism to finance capitalism. As writer Julian Delasantellis explains it:

[I]f it’s harder to lie with actual product, it’s probably easier to lie with paper…[C]orporate finance has become devilishly complex, with entries for arcane and esoteric corporate practices whose place on the balance sheet sometimes belongs in between, or shift, from the cost to the revenue side of the ledger.

In other words, since it’s all smoke and mirrors, anyway, who can tell the difference between a lie and a truth.

Now that we understand that, we understand the cause of our current economic collapse. It's all the fault of a simple accounting rule, FAS 157, which insists that financial institutions tell the truth about their assets by valuing them at what they would actually fetch in a free and open marketplace.

The rule simply reeks of free enterprise, which is anathema to finance capitalism. As Delasantellis explains it, the problem is that:

[T]he value of everything is not determined, or at least should not be determined, by what the owner thinks they are worth, but by what competitive bidders in an informed free market are willing to put up in cold hard cash. Anything else is just some manner of fantasy.

This is bad news for an industry based on fantasy.

Well, our Masters of the Universe couldn’t allow this sorry state of affairs to continue. Especially since our zombie banks had become warehouses for toxic toilet paper nobody wanted. Since they were forced to value this paper to what it would fetch in the market (damn little) they appeared to be insolvent, and you can’t run a Ponzi scheme with insolvent banks.

So, our oligarchs prevailed on the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) to tweak FAS 157, and in doing so, they canonized the lie and raised it to sainthood. Instead of marking to market, our financial institutions will now be allowed to mark their toilet paper to “model”. Delasantellis explains it:

Market to model implies the replacement of mark-to-market prices with valuations derived from proprietary mathematical models used by the company.

The key word, here, is “proprietary”. This means that not only will these mathematical models be the creations of the company using them, but being proprietary, they will not be subject to peer review.

There you are! With a stroke of the pen, our financial crisis is over, and the lie that once hugged the back alleys of Wall Street has been cleaned up and now sits upon our financial kingdom’s paper throne.

This is why America is an economic powerhouse!

--Belacqua Jones

Friday, April 10, 2009

Let's legitimize corruption!

What do villages, kingdoms and nation-states all have in common? Every political unit in history has been tied to a patch of land. Land was a people and their culture. It was wealth and home; a place a nation-state could call its own.

However, America has changed all that! Over the last thirty years something wonderful has happened! America has broken the shackles of geography. She is no longer a country, but is now a black thunderhead of capital scudding across the face of the earth, leaving poverty and want in its wake.

The net result of this transformation is that the rights that once accrued to people now accrue to the dollar. American is no longer a land of people, but a mass of free-floating dollars. This new liberation now means that the dollar now has a constitutional right to influence Congress. Some old-fashioned types insist on calling this corruption. But, it isn’t! It’s civic participation.

This civic participation would gain the legitimacy it deserves if Congress would only tear a page from the NASCAR game book. Let the members of Congress sport jumpsuits emblazoned with the corporate logos of their sponsors.

It’s a win-win plan. The corporate logos would get free airtime every time a congressman appeared on Meet the Press. Congressmen would love it because they could sell prime jumpsuit space to the highest bidder. And the lobbyists would love it because they could tell at a glance who their friends were.

Finally, the public could no longer complain about money being passed under the table because Congress would literally wear its corruption on its sleeve. After all, if they can name stadiums after corporations, why can't they do the same with congressmen?

--Belacqua Jones

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The "Devil" made them do it!

Hot Flash!

Bankers ain’t villains! That’s the word from Citi’s new chairman, Richard Parsons, and I couldn’t agree more.

Parsons knows the score: when you screw up, blame everyone.

He cleverly elides over the fact that banks, blinded by hubris and greed, provided the hot air that inflated the Great Twenty-First Century Housing Bubble that Popped and Splattered Everybody with Shit.

It is unfortunate that the unwashed public when confronted with stupidity mistakes it for evil.

“Besides the banks,” Parsons points out, “there was reduced regulatory oversight, loans to unqualified borrowers were encouraged and people took out mortgages or home-equity loans they couldn’t afford.”

The truth is the banks were victimized by a venal public who forced them to approve loans to unqualified borrowers and made them write mortgages and home-equity loans they couldn’t afford.

The banks pleaded with them not to take the money on which the banks would collect fat fees for passing these toxic loans on to the next sucker. But the ignorant fools wouldn’t listen and dragged the banks, kicking and screaming, into their vaults and stood over them while they counted out the money.

It was this same mob, brandishing pitchforks and torches, that forced the banks’ lobbyists to direct their congressional employees to deregulate the financial system.

Dick's right to plead the banks' innocence. The truth is the American public mugged them.

--Belacqua Jones

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Theology of Consumerism

I am what I own, and if I own nothing, I am nothing. Not wishing to be nothing, I strive to be something by owning something I can’t afford so I can be something.

It all comes down to things, be it the thing I own or the thing I am. Without things, there is only the silent void, empty and without meaning. It is the void I dread, which is why I must fill it up with lights, beeps and the soothing glow of stainless steel and plastic.

This is why I am a member of what writer Joe Bageant calls, “the cult of radical consumerism.”

Another reason I am a member is that I love destructive ironies. You see, it is my patriotic duty to buy because in a corporatist society, there are but two choices: either grow or die.

The irony is that all growth is a journey towards death. The faster the growth, the nearer we come to death. We are seeing this phenomenon at work as red ink pours from the open veins of our dying economy.

I also belong because I love servitude. There is a perverse peace in being so far in debt that I dare not raise my eyes to cast a disapproving glance at my betters. Better to keep my mouth shut and make my monthly minimum payments. Show me a man behind the wheel of a BMW, an iPod in his ear, and I will show you the most pliable of beings, a slave who thinks he’s a rebel.

The thrill of ownership in is the anticipation of possession. However, once possessed, the treasured item becomes another piece of junk gathering dust on a shelf or in a closet. Novelty stimulates; familiarity bores.

When I think about it, what I practice is not the “cult of radical consumerism” but the theology of consumerism. I am a consumptive mystic seeking unity with the toy. I am on a spiritual pilgrimage to find the ultimate toy into which I will merge in perfect union as the cosmos opens up to me.

So, I snort and buy, snort and buy, a mendicant shopper wandering the barren malls of America looking for the logo that will liberate.

--Belacqua Jones

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Beauty of Cancer

The cancer metaphor is in need of rehabilitation. It has been much abused in the past, usually by authoritarian regimes who equate its malignancy with dissent and subversion. In their minds, cancer is a disease to be excised through force and oppression.

Yet, when you stop and think about it, what is cancer if not a vehicle of untrammeled growth, and what is corporate prosperity if not a product of untrammeled growth? To the corporate state, cancer is a life force without which stagnation would set in. It is the most perfect union of parasite and host because the two become one as cancer evolves into the organ it has laid its healing hand upon.

Our plutocrats love bon mots of meaningless wit that help the masses to endure their misery. One of them is:

Change is inevitable; growth is optional.

Is that not the philosophy of a cancer cell?

The reason cancer kills is because the body refuses to adapt to a new situation. Were it to simply go with the flow and accept the accompanying pain, it would find its life much less stressful.

This is why humility is touted by organized religion. One attains a state of holiness by meekly accepting one’s station is life, even if that station includes rotting organs. We are born to die, so why sweat the petty details.

When you think about it, healthcare represents a potential threat to a well-ordered society. The person who demands physical health is the person who could demand economic health, as well. And since the corporate state can only prosper if it impoverishes its citizens, too great an emphasis on a healthy economy could well become counterproductive.

There was a time when good health was important because a healthy worker was a productive worker. This was true when we were still an industrial nation,. But now that manufacturing is being shipped overseas and the ranks of our unemployed continue to swell, the need for healthy proles is shrinking.

To the corporate state, cancer is life and life is a cancer. In the end, it’s all about growth.

--Belacqua Jones

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Lusting after Progress

So dazzled are our Masters of the Universe with the beeps and blinking lights of their manifold electronic toys that they do not even realize that the Bitch Goddess, Progress, is leading us into the grave. She’s a clamorous whore who demands that life and nature be offered up as burnt offerings on the gurney that is her altar.

They are always striving out for the New Frontier just beyond the horizon, for the dawn that never breaks, for the Age of Aquarius that is still born.

They equate progress with change, any change, even if it’s decay and decline. They worship her even if it makes life more wretched in the belief that the putrescence that engulfs them is a product of Divine Providence.

They are comforted by their belief that progress is a straight line ascending upward towards a heavenly golden age when, in fact, progress is a Bell Curve, complete with ascent, apogee and descent. The sad truth is that as “progress” advances, there is a diminishing return in the change each step “forward” effects on our lives.

· The railroad affected a profound change by jump starting the Industrial Revolution with all of its attendant misery. Products could be transported cheaply so factories could be built anywhere. Before the advent of rail transport, they had to be built next to waterways because that was the cheapest means of transportation available.
· The automobile affected another radical change because towns could spread outwards from the rail lines and urban sprawl became possible.
· Telegraphs and telephones made instant communication possible and reflective thought unnecessary.
· Television destroyed community and family as society fragmented into multiple screens.

Alas, since then, the changes affected by new technologies have been superficial, at best. Everyone touts the computer as the instrument that brought us the Information Age. They told us more information would bring increased prosperity by giving managers more detailed idata to work with. Unfortunately, nobody had anything new to say, so this “information” was little more than a raging torrent of trivia. And, judging from our economic meltdown, the information the computer fed to management sucked.

Optimism is their religion. Like Little Orphan Annie they burst into song at the drop of a hat, their lyrics proclaiming that tomorrow will be a better day, that tomorrow the sun will shine, that tomorrow will clear away the cobwebs and sorrows.

Little do they know that Miss Hannigan has changed the locks on the orphanage.

--Belacqua Jones

Friday, April 3, 2009


Computer down for a couple of days. Be back tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Art qua Art qua Numbers

Art is the paradox that produces something from nothing, be it an empty canvas, a blank sheet of paper or a slab of marble. This is why it is incompatible with the corporate state, which produces nothing from something as in economic formulas grounded in fantasy or an unanchored fiat currency that leads to economic ruin.

Not that the corporate state is a Philistine. It is quite willing to fund either museum art sucked dry of its energy and dynamic or art so abstract and conceptual that it is devoid of meaning. Real art is marginalized to small presses, Off-off Broadway theaters and regional playhouses.

Real art deals in metaphor and the Masters of the Universe have no feel for it because they were raised with the following mantras:

· Say what you mean!
· Get to the point!
· Don’t beat around the bush!

One word; one meaning. No depth, no resonance and no metaphors. From this evolves the assumption that if it can’t be expressed by a number, it doesn’t exit. One number; one meaning. To them, that is the sum total of reality.

Thus it is that reality in the corporate state is defined by arcane mathematical formulae ground out by number crunchers operating under the delusion that they can impose a linear matrix on a complex collection of nonlinear paradoxes called reality.

According to Anatole Kaletsky, John Maynard Keynes referred to these individuals as “madmen in authority”. When reality is reduced to a series of formulae life withers. The beauty of numbers and formulae is their value-free amorality. They are exercises in a pure rationality cut free from the moral and ethical anchor that grounded it in ages past.

Such knee-jerk linear thinking is the product of an overly intellectualized ego that knows nothing of wisdom. This is why organized religion is so important to the corporate state. Religion’s sole function is to erect a firewall between God and the soul. Behind this firewall, the soul withers and the ego steps into fill the vacuum.

But, when God breaks through, the ego begins to crack and weaken. As it loses ground to the soul, the unfortunate one spends sleepless nights tormented by the Greek Furies of memory who tear at him with memories of the pain inflicted by his ego. From this agony comes redemption, and you can’t run corporate state with that nonsense.

The key to success is quantity, not quality. Don’t think; count!

Look at all this has done for us.

--Belacqua Jones