Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Washington D.C. Performance Art

I first saw some Performance Art during a high school trip to Quebec.  We were going through a mega-shopping mall, and some seriously thin women and men, 7 or 8 of them, came marching down the middle of the mall.  They were wearing incredibly tight black leather outfits, with a few red bows and ribbons stuck in unlikely places. 

They were carrying two black poles, each one about 6 feet long. 

They looked morbidly grim and serious.  This woulda been about 1978, long before all the "Undertakers Of The Art World" started wearing black, while regretting that they couldn't find a darker color.  We were just a gaggle of rednecks from Mississippi, and had never imagined art like this, much less seen it on display. 

I asked a bystander something along the lines of "What the hell?"  She didn't speak much English, but explained that these were artists, and that they were protesting against the British/Canadian government. 

The "artists" grimly pivoted against the flow of traffic in the mall, lowered their poles, and required the shoppers to step or hop over them. The Canucks took it with good humor and hopped away. Eventually traffic backed up, and the artists in black raised their poles so that everyone could walk beneath them.

They occasionally lowered the poles to just a few inches over everyone's heads, lifting them quickly when a take-no-prisoners shopper approached who was in no mood for art. Or protests. Or whatever the hell this was.

After that they did some impressive stuff on the up and down escalators, leading me to believe that they'd done some practicing in the mall after hours.  They went eventually went away as silently as they appeared, leaving a mall full of shoppers mildly perplexed for about 45 seconds.  My French wasn't that good, but the general impression was...."what did that have to do with anything?"

Here's a cool pic of a performance artist covering a nekkid girl with liver and chocolate syrup.  It doesn't mean anything. 

My second exposure to Performance Art was in college.  Some hippie chick did an interpretive dance while her boyfriend made a lot of noise with reel-to-reel loops, unlikely percussion instruments, and another guy sometimes shaved a gong with an electric razor.  No idea what that was about, but it was an interesting distraction. 

Here's Wikipedia's definition of Performance Art:  A performance presented to an audience, traditionally interdisciplinary. Performance may be either scripted or unscripted, random or carefully orchestrated; spontaneous or otherwise carefully planned with or without audience participation. The performance can be live or via media; the performer can be present or absent. It can be any situation that involves four basic elements: time, space, the performer's body, or presence in a medium, and a relationship between performer and audience. Performance art can happen anywhere, in any venue or setting and for any length of time. The actions of an individual or a group at a particular place and in a particular time constitute the work.

Here's a better definition, one that I can take full credit for:  Weird bullshit that serves as a distraction for the gullible members in the audience.  The con artist/creator gains credibility when viewers actually wonder what the hell it means. 

Here's a piece showing a guy kinda crucified on a Volkswagen. Probably supposed to make you think about the evils of Capitalism, but it's not about that. It's about being cool and pretending to be deep, meaningful and significant.

If you've paid attention to the news for the last month, you've been exposed to some Washington D.C. Performance Art about the "Fiscal Cliff".  John Boehner and The Teleprompter Jesus have tied themselves to a ticking time bomb.  If they don't come to an agreement about taxes and spending, the entire universe will blow up.  Or something. 

It doesn't matter.  It's Kabuki Theatre.  Performance Art.  It's fun to watch them put on their black leather outfits, dance, and recite reverse Led Zepellin lyrics in front of a Solyndra Stockholders Powerpoint presentations, but it's meaningless.  A fun distraction.  They're doing what you've elected them to do. 

Here's why this is all nothing but sound and fury and electric razors on gongs.  This is from a recent Wall Street Journal essay by two Clinton administration economists.  I hope you'll go here and read the whole thing.  They lament that Uncle Sam doesn't have to keep books the way that a private business is required to.  Uncle Sam doesn't have to show future liabilities. 

All discussion of our 17 trillion dollar debt is based on rosier-than-likely scenarios.  Because within my lifetime, the U.S. government is going to have to come up with 86 trillion dollars to cover the IOU's our elected "artists" have spread across the nation and the world.  Here are the money quotes from the article:

When the accrued expenses of the government's entitlement programs are counted, it becomes clear that to collect enough tax revenue just to avoid going deeper into debt would require over $8 trillion in tax collections annually. That is the total of the average annual accrued liabilities of just the two largest entitlement programs, plus the annual cash deficit.

Nothing like that $8 trillion amount is available for the IRS to target. According to the most recent tax data, all individuals filing tax returns in America and earning more than $66,193 per year have a total adjusted gross income of $5.1 trillion. In 2006, when corporate taxable income peaked before the recession, all corporations in the U.S. had total income for tax purposes of $1.6 trillion. That comes to $6.7 trillion available to tax from these individuals and corporations under existing tax laws.

In short, if the government confiscated the entire adjusted gross income of these American taxpayers, plus all of the corporate taxable income in the year before the recession, it wouldn't be nearly enough to fund the over $8 trillion per year in the growth of U.S. liabilities. Some public officials and pundits claim we can dig our way out through tax increases on upper-income earners, or even all taxpayers. In reality, that would amount to bailing out the Pacific Ocean with a teaspoon. 
In other words, they can tax the rich, the middle-class, the poor, Lockheed, General Dynamics, Wal-Mart, your Mama, Starbucks, and every other person, business and entity for 100% of their taxable income, and it won't even come close to closing the gap.  
So when you turn on your TV and see Nancy Pelosi wearing a corset made of sardine bones, holding a velvet whip in one hand and reading the works of John Maynard Keynes from a pink iPhone held in the other, it's just Performance Art.  There are no true spending cuts on the table, just reductions in future increases. 

When some Republican hack goes on Fox News via a video montage of his baby pictures, the Pakistan war dead,  and a collage of tax rate charts, all to justify his violation of the Grover Norquist pledge, it's just Performance Art.  It doesn't matter. 

Eat, drink, and be merry.  And do it in black leather.  Or put on a Yoko Ono CD and dip your head in blue wax.  Whatever you think will make an appropriate statement. 

We are all so very, very screwed. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ignorance of the law is no excuse

"Ignorance of the law is no excuse."

We've all heard it said hundreds of times.  Because of this basic legal principle, you can't claim that you didn't know it was illegal to kill, rob, or imprison your neighbor. 

That "Ignorance Of The Law" maxim probably came into being long before legislators were bought and sold like the branding rights on a NASCAR uniform. 

The Teleprompter Jesus administration has proposed more than 1,600 regulations in the last 30 days. 

Go here for the details on each one.  Each has a campaign contributor or a power-mad bureaucracy behind it.  Considerations of the health or well-being of the nation are secondary at best. 

If you violate any of these, you'll probably be fined or go to jail. 

Get busy.  Start reading. 

Pic came from here.