morticia7 at juno.com morticia7 at juno.com
Thu Jun 17 14:05:48 EDT 2010

--------- Forwarded message ----------
From: morticia7 at juno.com
To: percy-l at lists.ibiblio.org
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2010 13:55:32 -0400
Message-ID: <20100617.135532.2900.1.morticia7 at juno.com>
On Thu, 17 Jun 2010 13:51:11 -0400 morticia7 at juno.com writes:
> <excerpt><fontfamily><param>Verdana</param>Percy-L:
> We all know what Percys thoughts were about the impending, if not
> exhilarating doom of a fast-approaching hurricane on its way to
> ravage the Gulf Coast. I am wondering what his thoughts might be 
> about
> the slowly encroaching destruction upon the shores of the Gulf 
> Coast
> today from millions of gallons of crude oil, including, directly in 
> the
> path, Louisiana. Presumably, one can reason there are no Hotel Oil
> Parties being planned or staged (though you can imagine parties 
> might
> include abundant cases of Fosters Beer Oil Cans and frequent and
> plentiful use of Motor Oil Shots knocked back neat...see enticing
> recipe below).
> The potential for Oil Parties aside, I wonder how Percy might 
> have
> used the present human-made catastrophe as an inspired metaphor for
> representing the darker side of human intentions and fallibilities, 
> if
> not humanitys tendency toward its own self-destruction, and the 
> world.
> For instance, how could such a disaster, had it occurred in Percys
> time, been useful in the imagery of Love in the Ruins, Lancelot, or
> Thanatos Syndrome? Which might have provided the best forum for 
> that
> exploration? I would think Percy also would have a very personal
> response to the crisis as one who lived in Covington, La, and so,
> perhaps less literarily, might he have something to say, in an 
> essay
> for example, about the motivations and values of trans-nationals 
> such
> as BP in their influence and impact upon the destinies of so many 
> as
> the present situation so amply demonstrates?
> Anyone have any responses or thoughts to add to this important 
> current
> topic, hopefully not crudely expressed?
> </fontfamily></excerpt><fontfamily><param>Verdana</param>
> </fontfamily>Sickness unto death.
> I think Percy would zero in upon the BP spill as a metaphor for
> original sin.  Oil is always seeping into the Gulf.  We went and let 
> a
> largely unregulated company drill a huge hole thinking they would
> follow their own self-interest.  They didn't.
> Once blood - or oil - is spilled, you can't get it back in the 
> bottle. 
> That's entropy for you.  It diffuses out into the environment.
> On the night the health care bill passed, I gave serious thought to
> writing a post here about the death of the South.  I believe it
> represented the high water mark of a political realignment dating 
> back
> to Nixon's Southern strategy in his 1968 appeal to Segregationists
> disaffected with the civil rights movement.  For the last forty 
> years,
> the Republicans have cultivated a paranoia about Federal action. 
> Remember when Reagan told us government wasn't the solution to any
> problem, it was the problem?
> During the March health care debate the "paranoid style" 
> (Hofstadter's
> term) reached a zenith not seen since the civil rights movement.  
> It
> was almost identical to rhetoric the white sovereignty commissions 
> and
> citizenship councils used during the 1960s. My parents noticed this 
> as
> well.  It was like the children and grandchildren of hard core
> Democratic segregationists had grown up around the anti-Federal
> paranoia, moved into the Republican column, forgotten the racism
> involved but continued to rant and rave with it in their family 
> blood.
> Obama was accused of thwarting democracy and being fascist - 
> because
> the bill passed with majority votes in both houses of Congress.  
> Sarah
> Palin's assertion of a death panel in the bill was knee deep in
> psychological projection.  Glenn Beck's propaganda ranted about 
> death camps where Obama enemies would be gassed.  I guess he forgot
> about the part where George Bush rounded up Katrina survivors into 
> trailer camps and gassed them with formaldehyde.  It ain't exactly
> Zyklon B but it was a gas and it was a trailer camp.
> Anybody notice the ironies piling up around here?
> I think Percy would have noticed.  I think irony is God's way of
> telling us to pay attention; maybe we've screwed up something.  Only 
> a
> certain personality type with a flat perspective on the world could
> miss so much irony so often.  I think maybe this is why Percy was 
> drawn
> to the ideological blindness of the Nazis as a metaphor.
> With the oil spill, we have yet another disaster caused by the
> inability of government to protect us.  It's not that government 
> can't
> do it.  Government has been prevented from acting.  In this case, 
> the
> MMS has - for years - inadequately overseen offshore drilling so as 
> not
> to inconvenience campaign contributors.  It's an effect of not 
> having
> publicly funded campaigns.
> So what does the Supreme Court do?
> It dismantles what few controls we have on campaign spending.
> In a little-watched case on elected state judges, the Supreme Court
> declared that Massey Energy's multimillion dollar contribution to a
> candidate running against the campaign of a judge hearing the case 
> was
> not enough to sway the outcome of the case.  The judge they 
> targeted
> lost and the new judge came in and ruled in favor of Massey Energy 
> on a
> potentially very costly suit.  Remember the Massey coal mine 
> disaster? 
> That happened this year.
> The Supreme Court also dismantled all limits on corporate political
> spending in the _Citizen's United_ (while still allowing said
> corporations to slander anybody they'd like; the _Sullivan_ case 
> makes
> it practically impossible for public figures to sue people who libel 
> or
> slander them).  I wrote comments on this at the New York Times 
> website,
> if you're interested.  The strict interpretationists on the Court
> concluded that corporations had to be treated as persons - despite 
> the
> fact that nowhere in the constitution are corporations equated with
> individuals.  At the time the constitution was ratified 
> corporations
> were even limited to a set number of years' existence.  (I guess if 
> the
> founding fathers were alive today they'd all be convicted of mass
> murder.)
> Is it me or in the end are all literalists revealed as 
> fundamentally
> illiterate?
> In the most recent incident, the court issued a stay against
> public-funded political campaigns in Arizona.  I think they've
> concluded campaign fairness tramples on the natural rights of rich
> people to spend their money lying about anybody anyway they'd like.
> Time and again, this court - and the right in general - have
> increasingly equated government action to redress economic 
> injustices
> with per se unconstitutional deprivations of liberty.  If a guy lies 
> to
> you and steals your money and you try to get it back - well, it was
> stolen fair and square.  What Madison described in Federalist #10 as 
> a
> perfectly legitimate need for government to control the pernicious
> "effects of faction" is seen more and more as trampling on basic 
> rights
> *per se*.  This interpretation is something far different than the
> constitutional authors intended. 
> Liberty, which flows from God under natural law, is both the freedom 
> to
> do something and the obligation to do it well on behalf of others 
> in
> your community.  The freedom to speak is also the obligation to 
> speak
> truthfully.  When someone supplies you with bad information, they 
> are
> oppressing your freedom of speech because it is also the freedom 
> *to
> hear*.  A car salesman is stealing money when he rolls back the
> odometer on a used car he sells.  Fox News is stealing votes when 
> it
> lies about basic political facts.  It does this to keep you from 
> having
> the appropriate information to make a rational decision.
> Free markets don't work when economic actors are allowed to supply 
> bad
> information.  Markets have to be transparent.  These markets also
> require property rights which require courts which require taxes 
> and
> effective governments to run them.  Free markets don't work when
> certain actors can steal from you - like BP destroying your fishing
> stock with an oil spill.  Yet contemporary right wing ideology 
> equates
> all government action with the original sin of the Civil War while 
> all
> private market action is assigned limitless virtue.  In this 
> distorted
> lens, all government action to address economic injustice takes on 
> the
> taint of this original sin of Abraham Lincoln.
> We can't take over failing banks because that's interfering with 
> the
> private market.  Yet we can't regulate the banks either because 
> markets
> are perfect and the government will only screw it up.  This type of
> thinking leads the neoclassical economists to conclude that all
> unemployment is voluntary.  After all, markets are perfect and 
> actors
> are all rational.  If they don't have jobs, they must not want 
> them.
> This is the kind of lunacy you come to when you have no theory of 
> fraud
> (outside of government action).  Concluding that man is always a 
> saint
> in his free market state really hamstrings your thought processes. 
> This is something the "libertarian" types don't understand.  You 
> can't
> simply mutilate liberty into a set of individual freedoms.  It's 
> not
> divorced from civic virtue in a republic.  They are the same.  You 
> have
> freedoms *and* you have obligations.
> You see this pathology in the deluded views expressed by Rand Paul. 
> Paul thinks it's somehow permissible to be against racial
> discrimination but to allow businesses to continue to discriminate
> against blacks.  He thinks forcing racists to sell food to black 
> people
> is an intrusion on private enterprise - which is just unacceptable 
> to
> his libertarian views in any terms.
> But it's the government's job to regulate the value of money.  If 
> the
> value of money changes simply because of the color of the hand 
> holding
> it, then government has failed at a very basic economic task -
> regulation of the money supply, fixing the value of the dollar.
> We see this situation with the oil spill.  Like the New Orleans 
> levee
> failure in 2005, the spill was caused by lax regulation, too few
> inspectors and too little forward planning.  *Less* government 
> isn't
> going to fix anything now and it certainly won't stop future 
> disasters.
> Yet even before we know what went wrong in the first place, every
> Republican governor in the Gulf states is pounding the table for an
> immediate return to drilling.  And they're still campaigning 
> against
> stricter carbon taxes and more environmental standards.
> It's ironic.  The Republican governors campaign for less federal
> government action and when Obama finally gives them exactly what 
> they
> asked for, they're furious at him. 
> For many of these problems, government is the one actor that could 
> make
> a difference in our lives and yet we keep shooting it in the foot 
> and
> wondering why it limps.
> What was Walk Kelly's old saying?  "We have met the enemy and he is
> us?"  How's that for your self-destruction, Henry? 
> The government is *us*.  *We* go to the polls and constitute it.  
> This
> is us running ourselves down.
> I don't think government can make man perfect or bring about Heaven 
> on
> Earth but I do think government can make it easier to behave well 
> and
> harder to behave poorly.  There are worlds of difference between
> America and Haiti and much of this has to do with the pragmatic
> political philosophy of American government.  Lately some of us seem 
> to
> have abandoned that heritage from the Enlightenment.
> The founding fathers thought man was a sinner and rather than try 
> to
> perfect him, government had to deal with the cards it was dealt and
> make the best of it.  Instead, the right has recast homo economicus 
> as
> perfect in every way.  Unfettered capitalism is our new utopia and 
> it
> perfects man after all.
> How utterly French of you, Newt.
> Isn't utopia also the goal of Bin Laden?
> I think if you have to cling to any idea as infallible, best cling 
> to
> that of our own fallibility. 
> I feel horrible for a lot of people in the disaster zone (which is
> where I'll wind up if Baton Rouge is hit by another hurricane).  
> Those
> people are about to suffer through the same autoimmune problems I 
> have.
> Mercury and some of these complex hydrocarbons detoxify through and
> clog up some of the same pathways in the body with many of the same
> effects.  Gulf War Syndrome for all and all a good night.  (With a 
> side
> of Pelagianism too, perhaps?)
> If only there were heavy sodium in them thar' salt domes...

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