Daily Edition May 22, 2013
Who is Alex Jones? (Apologies to Ms. Rand for the opener.) Pigeonholed in some circles as a conspiracy theorist and 9/11 “truther,” this aggressive veracity-seeking journalist is actually a tireless inquisitor equipped with a what Hemingway called a “good bullshit detector.” And like anyone with one of those, Jones can get quite angry. He’s the opposite of the people Jack Nicholson yells at in “A Few Good Men”–Jones can handle the truth alright. Why are so many people hiding it, is what he wants to know. BBC journalist Greg Palast calls the indefatigable Jones “a light breaking through the electronic Berlin Wall of the US media establishment.” If true, that light shines on a lot of darkness. A master of multiple platforms, Jones has so many illumination tools at his disposal that he sometimes seems to be running a lower budget version of George Lucas’s Industrial Light and Magic. His fans see the light; his detractors, often the silent and powerful, think there’s a bit too much magic–chicanery? illusion?–in the Jones agenda. There’s no denying the entertainer in the outrage, or the showman in the shadows. But Jones insists the illusionists are elsewhere, hiding in plain sight: he’s trying to show you how they do their tricks.
A filmmaker, radio host and all-around Internet elephant-in-the-room, Jones commands the attention of millions from disparate political backgrounds. He boasts of how ”in the spirit of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington,” he “passionately argues against foreign entanglements and wars for the sake of corporate and banking interests.” 99% of the citizenry, according to the popular formula, agree with that–and Washington and Jefferson (Sally Hemings notwithstanding) enjoy extraordinarily high Q-ratings in America. And when Jones says he eschews labels like left and right, preferring to explore the distinction between right and wrong, he backs up the nonpartisanship: there aren’t too many talk shows these days whose guests include the wrestler/governor/Vietnam veteran Jesse Ventura (“America’s Patriot”) AND the practically pinko populist erstwhile presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. Did we mention he’s interviewed Gore Vidal, Willie Nelson, Tommy Chong, David Lynch and Nobel Laureate Joseph Steiglitz? Jones has made 18 films and counting, with scary titles like “Endgame: Blueprint for Global Enslavement”, “The Masters of Terror”, and “American Dictators: Documenting The Staged 2004 Election.” And he didn’t, like so many, get his wake-up call on 9/11/01. Oklahoma City and Waco–he started there. Indeed, Jones was probably born to skepticism–a Missouri (“Show Me”) man in his bones, despite being Texan. But every good journalist–and for that matter every good scientist and disruptive visionaries in every discipline–begins with doubt. The thing is you may think certain things could never happen here. Alex Jones is sure they do.
Defending one of Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms–the famous “freedom from want,” known the world over as the right to eat–Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant told Bloomberg that genetically modified foods are good for poor people who can’t afford organic. “As long as you’ve got money in your back pocket and you drive your station wagon to the supermarket on weekends,” he says, “then it’s out of sight out of mind, so far.” “It” refers to starvation and malnutrition, which afflict large numbers of people in developing nations (and in the US, too). Monsanto believes its technological advances increase the likelihood of a world where fewer go hungry. Anti-Monsanto activists, who plan a global march to protest the companies entrenched interests on May 25, think the “unnatural” development of resistant seeds for grain, corn and other food is a danger to ecological stability and therefore a threat, not an answer, to global freedom from want.
Both sides, however, have cause for concern about the vision (or at least metaphor usage) of Monsanto’s leader. As the multimillionaire leader of a futurist, technology-led enterprise like Monsanto, it’s reasonable to wonder where, exactly, Grant recently saw a station wagon. Surely the last gasp of the station wagon was emitted before large-scale genetically-modified food was even a twinkle in the eyes of scientists. Monsanto itself was focused on chemicals that killed weeds back when authentic station wagons roamed the earth, guzzling fossil fuel. The company’s adjusted focus on biotechnology (and subsequently Intellectual Property) dovetailed neatly with the popularity of the wagon-killing minivan and SUV. Surely the elitists Grant disdains (“There is this strange kind of reverse elitism: If I’m going to do this (buy organic), then everything else shouldn’t exist,” Grant has said) drive their SUVs to the supermarket, not their station wagons. Some probably even ride their bikes.
A giant arcade claw machine will sit in the heart of Toronto’s financial district next month. Filled with “pre-loved” stuff – teddy bears, hammers, mannequins, fishbowls – the machine will be part of Canada’s annual visual arts festival Luminato. Nine Canadian artists collaborated on the carnivalesque installation “Stockpile.” And all nine will perform as the claw. That’s right – passersby can manipulate artists into getting what they really want. At least during the week of June 14, 2013.
Selected by Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art curator Denise Markonish (who also curated the recent MASS MoCA exhibition “Oh, Canada,”) the “Stockpile” artists are: Dean Baldwin, Brendan Fernandes, Diane Landry, Divya Mehra, Luanne Martineau, Graeme Patterson, Ed Pien, Charles Stankievech and Mitchell Wiebe. If you’re into art and manipulation–or just prizes–this is your kind of installation.
In this, the fifth year of a prolonged downturn triggered by a financial crash, the prevailing view is that we all must pay for yesterday’s excess. This case is made in both economic and moral terms. Nations and households ran up unsustainable debts; these obligation must be honored–to satisfy creditors, restore market confidence, deter future recklessness, and compel people and nations to live within their means.
A phrase often heard is moral hazard, a concept borrowed by economists from the insurance industry. In its original usage, the term referred to the risk that insuring against an adverse event would invite the event. For example, someone who insured a house for more than its worth would have an incentive to burn it down. Nowadays, economists use the term to mean any unintended reward for bad behavior. Presumably, if we give debt relief to struggling homeowners or beleaguered nations, we invite more profligacy in the future. Hence, belts need to be tightened not just to improve the fiscal balance but as punishment for past misdeeds and inducement for better self-discipline in the future.
Self-taught artist Thornton Dial first received recognition from the art world in the late 1980s for his large scale assemblages (paint and found objects like rope, bones and buckets) that address war, racism, bigotry, and homelessness. Dial was born in 1928 in Emelle, Alabama, and raised in poverty without his parents on a cousin’s farm. The “outsider” life of Mr. Dial, an illiterate African-American man now in his eighties, has been well documented in “Mr. Dial Has Something to Say” (a film documentary with art collector/historian Bill Arnett), “Hard Truths” (a traveling retrospective exhibition organized by the Indianapolis Museum of Art), and the 2011 TIME magazine feature article “Outside the Lines” by art critic and editor-at-large Richard Lacayo.
Now a quiet show of Dial’s underappreciated “Thoughts on Paper” – 50 sheets of drawings and watercolors of women, fish, birds, roosters and tigers (a favorite subject) – will make its final stop on tour at the Knoxville Museum of Art, July 12-August 25, 2013. In the past, his large-scale assemblages have sold for over $100,000. The paper work is perhaps more easily acquired: “Tiger Pouncing on Nude Lady,” a paint-on-paper work, sold for $7,000 in April 2002.
Stephen King made a big splash in the publishing world yesterday when he announced that he has no plans to publish a digital version of his new novel “Joyland” (June 2013, Hard Case Crime). Well, maybe at some point, but in the meantime, “let people stir their sticks and go to an actual bookstore rather than a digital one,” he told the Wall Street Journal. It’s not that King’s a luddite either: his January essay on guns was published digital-only as an Amazon single. And all the way back in 2000 he perplexed the publishing establishment by releasing the novella “Riding the Bullet” as an e-book. (At the time, Jeff Bezos still thought Kindle meant starting a fire with wood chips.) Hey, if King were predictable, do you think 500 million people would have shivered their way to the terrifying ends of his tomes? So kudos to Cujo’s creator for pushing people back into bookstores. But maybe this was the perfect book to take advantage of the changeling nature and limitless options of digital: because the art for “Joyland” really pops, and there’s a lot of it.
Although the story is set in North Carolina in 1973, the nostalgia-tinged paperback edition cover resembles a 1950s dime store mystery. The stylized illustration provided by Glen Orbik features a buxom redhead startled in the corner of a carnival, clutching a brownie bullet camera. Then there’s the limited edition hardcover by artist Robert McGinnis, who give us the backside of a string-bikini-clad raven-haired woman walking on the beach in heels carrying a rifle. More 1973, perhaps, a hint of Hef and all. But wait, there’s more! Susan Hunt Yule illustrated a map of Joyland especially for the limited edition that graces the back cover. She ditches sex appeal for a colorful and downright cheerful look at the amusement park with a cool pop-modern aesthetic. Which cover is right? Now stop it: you know you can judge a book that way. Stephen King always keeps us guessing, paying homage to the bookstore just as his covers nod to old books. And Hunt Yule, if you call her quick, may just be able to draw you a map to get to your local bookstore–while it’s still there.
What’s a 72-room Italian Renaissance villa doing in the middle of Tulsa, Oklahoma? It’s serving the city as a first-rate museum. Originally the home of oilman Waite Phillips (who presented it as a gift to the city in 1938), the Philbrook Museum of Art is now running out of palatial space for its expansive modern and contemporary art collections. So, with the backing of another super-rich Tulsa oilman philanthropist, George B. Kaiser of the Kaiser-Francis Oil Company, it hired Gluckman Mayner Architects of New York (Museo Picasso Málaga, The Andy Warhol Museum) to renovate a two-story, 30,000 sq. ft. gallery space in Downtown Tulsa. Philbrook Downtown will open June 14, 2013.
Just a few doors from Philbrook Downtown is the brand-new Woody Guthrie Center, also made possible by The George Kaiser Family Foundation. The Foundation recently bought the archives of Okie Woody Guthrie’s – 3,000 song lyrics, 700 pieces of artwork, 500 photographs, manuscripts, letters and journals – which will be available to researchers by appointment beginning this summer. Well, all but one mysterious document in Box 2, Folder 28. The envelope, marked simply “Woody Guthrie,” will not be opened until January 1, 2033–a mysterious contingency in Woody’s wishes. Maybe it contains an angrier version of Guthrie’s song If I Was Everything On Earth: “If I was president Roosevelt…I’d pass out suits of clothing/ At least three times a week/ And shoot the first big Oil Man/ That killed the fishing creek.”
“As troubling as these recent reports are, it would be a grave mistake to think that IRS harassment of opponents of the incumbent President is a modern, or a partisan, phenomenon. As scholar Burton Folsom pointed out in his book New Deal or Raw Deal, IRS agents in the 1930s where essentially “hit squads” against opponents of the New Deal. It is well-known that the administrations of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson used the IRS to silence their critics. One of the articles of impeachment drawn up against Richard Nixon dealt with his use of the IRS to harass his political enemies. Allegations of IRS abuses were common during the Clinton administration, and just this week some of the current administration’s defenders recalled that antiwar and progressive groups alleged harassment by the IRS during the Bush presidency.
“The bipartisan tradition of using the IRS as a tool to harass political opponents suggests that the problem is deeper than just a few “rogue” IRS agents—or even corruption within one, two, three or many administrations. Instead, the problem lays in the extraordinary power the tax system grants the IRS”.
–excerpted from Ron Paul’s post at infowars.com
- See more Daily Editions