The Talking Dog

April 23, 2011, Juxtapositions

Familia TD took a brief sojourn to our local museum, where I was blown away by the conceit of this exhibit. The visual concept of Brooklyn artist Lorna Simpson is to juxtapose vintage images with poses intended to duplicate them, in order to deliberately create a false dichotomy, to make an artistic point.

I juxtapose this with Dmitry Orlov's piece on an interview involving Michael Betancourt, noting that our planet's entire economy is based on semiosis, rather than anything, you know, real. (Think about it: electronic impulses stand in for pieces of paper that stand in for pieces of metal that stand in ultimately for claims on the products of industrial production which may or may not actually come into existence... a system that could be gamed at every level... and has been...)

I'll then juxtapose this absurd piece of right-wing agit-prop that it's just not fair to tax the rich from WaPo, based as it is on some kind of anecdotal games-play, as opposed to Krugman's giving us the actual distribution of tax payments by income levels in the United States (hint: we don't need no stinking flat tax-- if you count all taxes-- sales, social security, state/local as well as income, the tax burden is shockingly flat at each level of income).

We'll shift over to the Middle East, where it would appear that Yemeni leader Ali Abdullah Saleh has accepted an agreement "in principle" which would have him resigning within 30 days in exchange for a blanket immunity from prosecution. Yemeni protests have been quite strident (and beaten back quite violently)... despite not being particularly well-covered stateside. We'll note that Saleh is a wily player, very much "our guy." The category of "our guys" is very much in play when talking about Bahrain (home of the US Navy 5th Fleet, and protests which have also been strident, and violently beaten back)... the UN is calling for an investigation into the death-by-torture-while-in-government-custody of one of the country's leading opposition newspaper-men. The United States, it seems, is much more... reticent. Saudi wants us to be that way, of course. We're a tad more vocal about goings-on in... Syria, for example. And Libya... well. we're just not going to talk about that.

Of course, the instability in the Middle East will have some oil-price impact, though not nearly as much as fundamental supply/demand dynamics (hint: we use a lot of the black stuff, and there ain't as much as we think there is left to drill-baby-drill)... and so, the President tells us there is no magic silver bullet to bring down gasoline prices, though he is investigating price-gouging, speculation, etc. Well, the thing is... oil prices are a component of food prices and really of the price not just of heating your home and fueling your car, but really, of all goods and services in an industrial economy. The point being that there is some level of oil price at which a financial trip-wire is crossed, and the world's still-not-quite-stable banks and financial houses (and arguably worse, because now we have even bigger too-big-to-fail institutions)... simply melt down... again.

The ultimate point is... everything is connected to each other, and yet, at the same time, nothing is really connected to much of anything. And so... while people in the Middle East continue to take to the streets and risk their lives at this very moment when the crackdowns intensify... while here, much of our "political debate" is now devoted to a failed real-estate huckster and charlatan (whose very hair is fake, for God's sake) and his lunatic ramblings that the President is illegitmate because he's Black alleged to be foreign born... and Lindsay Lohan is jailed and released and...

I know I had a point in there somewhere; discuss. This has been, "Juxtapositions."