Category Archives: Quote of the Day

Frye Quote of the Day: “We are the grave robbers of our own resources”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNpQ2nTUYkU

The Keystone XL pipeline, where the Harper government meets Koch Industries. At this point, only Obama stands between them. From Rolling Stone:

Is it in our national interest to overheat the planet? That’s the question Obama faces in deciding whether to approve Keystone XL, a 2,000-mile-long pipeline that will bring 500,000 barrels of tar-sand oil from Canada to oil refineries on the Gulf of Mexico. Greenlighting the $7 billion pipeline would help feed America’s addiction to oil – but it would also send a clear signal that Obama ranks cheap gas as a higher priority than a stable climate. Activist and writer Bill McKibben, who organized protests at the White House to stop the pipeline, calls the decision “a defining moment of the Obama years.”

There are two big problems with Keystone XL. First, mining and refining the tar sands of Alberta – the second-largest repository of carbon on the planet – requires huge amounts of energy. That’s why carbon pollution from tar-sand oil is up to 20 percent higher than from conventional crude. If we burn through the tar sands, warns NASA expert James Hansen, it’s “game over” for the climate. Second, an oil spill from the pipeline could devastate the Midwest: A recent study by the University of Nebraska estimates that a worst-case spill in the Platte River would create an oil slick that would stretch for hundreds of miles and contaminate drinking water for millions of Americans.

There are signs the pipeline may already be a done deal: The State Department’s environmental review of the project recently concluded that the pipeline would have “no significant impacts.” But Obama can still stop the project all by himself, simply by refusing to sign the certificate of national interest required to allow the pipeline to cross the U.S. border. But blocking Keystone XL means saying no to Big Oil. Among the companies with the most to gain if the pipeline is built: Koch Industries, a major backer of the Tea Party. To put pressure on the State Department, which must sign off on the pipeline, Keystone’s operator has hired the former deputy director of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign as a lead lobbyist.

Environmental choices don’t get much starker than this. “Obama is alone at the top of the key,” McKibben recently wrote. “Will he take the 20-foot jumper – or pass the ball?”

Frye in “Canada: New World without Revolution”:

Canada, with four million square miles and only four centuries of documented history, has naturally been a country more preoccupied with space than with time, with environment rather than tradition.  The older generation, to which I have finally been assigned, was brought up to think of Canada as a land of unlimited natural resources, an unloving but rich earth-mother bulging with endless supplies of nickel and asbestos, or, in her softer parts, with the kind of soil that would allow of huge grain and lumber surpluses.  The result of such assumptions is that many of our major social problems are those of ecology, the extinction of animal species, the plundering of forests and mines, the pollution of water, as the hundreds of millions of years that nature took to build up our supplies of coal and oil are cancelled out in a generation or two.  The archaeologists who explore royal tombs in Egypt and Mesopotamia find that they are almost always anticipated by grave robbers, people who got there first because they had better reasons for doing so than the acquisition of knowledge.  We are the grave robbers of our own resources, and posterity will not be grateful to us. (CW 12, 435-6)

An earlier post on the Keystone XL protests here.

Quote of the Day

Post-structuralist t-shirts available here

“My guess is that [literary] theorists are motivated partly by a desperate realization that, in the process of deconstructing the profession, we in the literature business have shot ourselves not in the foot, but in the head. At a time of contracting education budgets, the public is no longer willing to pay for courses titled ‘Bat[woman] and Cat[man]: Queering the Canonical Comix.'” — Scott Herring in The Chronicle of Higher Education

Quote of the Day: “Financial intermediation run amok”

Nouriel Roubini, the economist who correctly predicted years in advance the collapse of the financial market and was roundly mocked for it by Wall Street shills, considers Marx’s prediction that capitalism will collapse on itself:

Karl Marx, it seems, was partly right in arguing that globalization, financial intermediation run amok, and redistribution of income and wealth from labor to capital could lead capitalism to self-destruct (though his view that socialism would be better has proved wrong). Firms are cutting jobs because there is not enough final demand. But cutting jobs reduces labor income, increases inequality, and reduces final demand.

I have just read Francis Wheen’s Das Kapital: A Biography (excerpt here), which details the decades long development of Marx’s life’s work (most especially its nuanced literary dimension which is ignored by hardline ideologues on both ends of the political spectrum), as well as its demonic afterlife as the Bible of Marxist-Leninism. It’s difficult to ignore while reading the book that Marx’s critique of capitalism can still be regarded as prophetic. His account of how capital must ultimately be hoarded by a plutocratic elite remains relevant.

Frye consistently cited Marx as one of those nineteenth century thinkers who upended the traditional mythological conception of social authority. A typical example:

[I]f we look at the thinkers who have permanently changed the shape of human thought, such as Darwin, Marx, Freud, or Einstein, we find, naturally, that their books are complex and difficult and require years of study. Yet the central themes of their work are massive simplicity. Evolution, class struggle, the subconscious mind, are all things that have been staring mankind in the face for centuries. It’s the ability to see what’s straight in front of his nose that marks the thinker of first-rate importance. (CW 11, 271-2)

Quote of the Day: “The Democrats Take a Dive”

Matt Taibbi lands a haymaker.

A sample:

So the debt deal has finally been reached. As expected, the agreement arrives in a form that right-thinking people everywhere can feel terrible about with great confidence.

The general consensus is that for the second time in three years, a gang of financial terrorists has successfully extorted the congress and the White House, threatening to blow up the planet if they didn’t get what they wanted.

Back in 2008, the congress and George Bush rewarded Hank Paulson and Wall Street for pulling the Cleavon-Little-“the-next-man-makes-a-move-the-n—er-gets-it” routine by tossing trillions of bailout dollars at the same people who had wrecked the economy.

Now, Barack Obama has surrendered control of the budget to the Tea Party, whose operatives in congress used the same suicide-bomber tactic, threatening a catastrophic default unless the Democrats committed to a regime of steep spending cuts without any tax increases on the wealthy.

*

The Democrats aren’t failing to stand up to Republicans and failing to enact sensible reforms that benefit the middle class because they genuinely believe there’s political hay to be made moving to the right. They’re doing it because they do not represent any actual voters. I know I’ve said this before, but they are not a progressive political party, not even secretly, deep inside. They just play one on television.

For evidence, all you have to do is look at this latest fiasco.

The Republicans in this debt debate fought like wolves or alley thugs, biting and scratching and using blades and rocks and shards of glass and every weapon they could reach.

The Democrats, despite sitting in the White House, the most awesome repository of political power on the planet, didn’t fight at all. They made a show of a tussle for a good long time — as fixed fights go, you don’t see many that last into the 11th and 12th rounds, like this one did — but at the final hour, they let out a whimper and took a dive.

Quote of the Day

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUNzOp9QLfk

From The Tudors, Lord Surrey reads his translation of an epigram by Martial to Charles Brandon

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, was “sincere in all his doings. If he was alive today, he’d be Canadian.” — Nicola Shulman, Graven with Diamonds: The Many Lives of Thomas Wyatt: Courtier, Poet, Assassin, Spy (via TLS)

Frye on Wyatt and Surrey:

Wyatt and Surrey, at the court of Henry VIII, were the pioneers of a new conservatism, though this has to be qualified for Wyatt, as we shall see. Surrey in particular established for the sixteenth century a new pentameter line, based on the contemporary pronunciation of the language, heavier than Chaucer’s line though lighter than the post-Miltonic ones. The two poets introduced the sonnet into English from Italian and French sources, mainly Petrarch. Petrarch is earlier than Chaucer, but in English (this does not apply to Italian) the sonnet has a rounded, epigrammatic, almost three-dimensional quality: like perspective painting, it belongs in the Renaissance, not to the flat narratives or the delicate pastel lyrics of medieval poetry. Wyatt followed the five-rhyme Petrarchan form, but Surrey introduced the freer structure, of three quatrains and a couplet, which is more suitable to English, and which Shakespeare alsoused. Surrey also brought in the major invention of blank verse, and both poets experimented with other forms, such as the so-called “poulterer’s measure” of alternating six and seven-foot lines. (CW 10, 16-17)

Quote of the Day

Matt Taibbi applies a welcome smackdown to Ross Douthat of The New York Times. Here he is putting a sleeper hold on Douthat’s new-found pacifism:

Look, people are entitled to have changes of heart. They are also entitled to learn from experience. And most importantly, people are entitled to be wrong. We all are, from time to time. And if people like Ross Douthat emerge from the experience of observing the Iraq and Afghanistan fiascoes finally understanding “the bluntness of war as an instrument of state” and the “difficulty of predicting” any war’s “long-term consequences,” that’s great. I applaud it.

But I don’t buy it. What happened back in ’02 and ’03 can’t be summarized as simply as a policy disagreement that Douthat, through the folly of inexperience, happened to be on the wrong side of. The mere fact that the Douthats of the world supported the war wasn’t what made them so obnoxious.

Much more important was the shameless witch-hunting of antiwar voices, and the impugning of the patriotism of people who advocated the very sort of caution Douthat now claims to endorse. Douthat, remember, contributed to the National Review’s obnoxiously-titled “Kumbaya Watch,” pitched as “the latest in anti-American commentary from the left.” In that column he hounded critics of the president and/or those who didn’t advocate immediate war against the Muslims, and wondered aloud about the political bias of organizations like ABC News (they wouldn’t let their reporters wear American flag lapel pins!).

Quote of the Day

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBvg3PkI-PU&feature=related

Ayn Rand dating website video profile

“If you’ve seen the meatbot, the walking automaton, the pod-people, the dense, glazy-eyed substrate through which living organisms such as myself must escape to reach air and sunlight.” — The Randian ubermensch from the previous post who describes himself as “short, stark, and mansome,” which probably means fat, rude, and body odor.

Quote of the Day

Andrew Sullivan today on why the GOP are not conservatives:

As I studied political philosophy more deeply, the core argument for conservatism was indeed that it was truer to humankind’s crooked timber; that it was more closely tethered to earth rather  than heaven; that it accepted the nature of fallen man and did not try to permanently correct it, but to mitigate our worst instincts and encourage the best, with as light a touch as possible. Religion was for bishops, not presidents. Utopias were for liberals; progress was not inevitable; history did not lead in one obvious direction; we are all limited by epistemological failure and cultural bias.

So on taxes today, a conservative would ask: what have we learned about the impact of lower rates over the last two decades – now the lowest as a percentage of GDP since the 1950s? In healthcare, what have we learned about the largely private system the GOP wants to preserve? A conservative would look at home and abroad for empirical answers, acknowledging no ultimate solution but the need for constant reform because society is always changing. On gay rights, a classic social change, he’d ask what a society should do in integrating the emergence of so many openly gay people, couples and families. On foreign policy, he’d move on a case by case basis, not by way of a “doctrine.”

On these terms, today’s GOP could not be less conservative. I’d insist it’s less conservative than Obama. It does not present reality-based reform for emergent problems. It simply reiterates dogma and ruthlessly polices dissent or debate.

So no tax increases are allowed, period. Why? Because they “kill jobs”. So why do we have record unemployment after a period of unprecedentedly low taxation? No answer. If lower taxes have led to stagnation, the answer must always be: lower taxes some more. Why not end them all together?

(Cartoon from Jesus’ General: “An 11 on the manly scale of absolute gender.”)

Quote of the Day: Invisible Hand / Hand of God

Jesus drives the money changers from the temple

“The most idolatrous claim of the Christian right is that the invisible hand of the free market is none other than the hand of God, and any attempt to regulate the free market, according to this theology, belies a lack of faith in God.” — Andrew Walsh, author of Religion, Economics and Public Policy.