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Belmont Club

A Bicycle Built for Two

October 13th, 2013 - 3:07 pm

Slavoj Žižek at the Guardian rhetorically asks, “who is responsible for the US shutdown?”  He answers the question himself: why “the same idiots responsible for the 2008 meltdown. In opposing Obamacare, the radical-populist right exposes its own twisted ideology.” He may gotten the crime right but his identification of the suspect is questionable. All the same he argues the urgency of his case and asserts that nothing will improve until we realize that freedom in America will be only permissible when everyone is enlightened enough to exercise it.

Freedom of choice is something that only functions if a complex network of legal, educational, ethical, economic and other conditions exists – the constraints that form the invisible underpinning to the exercise of our freedom. This is why, as an antidote to the populist rightwing ideology of choice, countries such as Norway should be held up as a model.

But maybe there’s far less edifying reason for Žižek’s indignation, namely the need for money. Since the end of the Second World War America has acted as the guarantor of the global commons. It’s paid for the security behind which Europe has built its welfare state.  Now if the gravy train were to stop the free rider would have to get out and walk. Then what would happen to the Chardonnay party? The truth is that without the US Federal Government things could get inconvenient. Because in actuality nothing defends Žižek; nothing protects the Global Commons. Nothing really. Certainly not Norway.

Of course America is not indispensable. After all China is already talking about a post-American era, by which of course they mean a new Chinese era.  But nobody is talking about a new British or Norwegian era for the simple reason that they’re bust. So unlike China they are not thrilled at the prospect of America leaving the stage. Thus the only way the European “West” can stay at the top table is by replacing what they can’t get the stupid “right wing” to agree to pay for any longer with their own money.

Money? Must we be so crass as to mention money? Alas, someone has pulled the plug on the jukebox and let the air out of the party. What now? For China is only half-right right to talk about a post-American world. The correct phrase is “post-Western world”, though Žižek hasn’t gotten as far as articulating that idea yet.

The alternative to replacing the Pax Americana is for Europe to maintain they never needed it.  What’s not to like about a world without American arrogance?  Hasn’t the Left always said they could do things better through the UN, the EU and the International Criminal Court? Well here’s their big chance.

They should be breaking out the hootch, but there’s an unaccountable air of gloom in the air. For all of a sudden everyone is deeply concerned. Christine Lagarde of the IMF “has warned US spending cuts must not be too drastic or they could threaten global economic recovery”. In the Australian Financial Review she described the funereal mood in high councils.

She said the prospect of the US not meeting its debt obligations was “very, very concerning” and the traditional autumn weekend with leading ministers from the biggest economies had been “transformed” by the prospect.

“Transformed” as in sitting up after something very bad walks through the door, like Frankenstein or Dracula. Samuel Johnson once said, “nothing focuses the mind like a hanging” Nothing, perhaps except the prospect of actually having to rely on Norway, not for a social model, but for European security and existence. Maybe the American music wasn’t so bad after all if everyone wants to keep it playing.

Now if only the stupid Red Staters could be made to see that it’s really best to pay up and shut up. How did Žižek put it? “Freedom of choice is something that only functions if a complex network of legal, educational, ethical, economic and other conditions exists – the constraints that form the invisible underpinning to the exercise of our freedom.” It sounds so much better that way. You can choose any color, as long as it’s the one the enlightened guys want. You can keep your old health plan, so long as its the same as the new health plan.

The situation is reminiscent of the scene in 2000 where HAL tells Dave the mission is too important to be jeopardized by something as stupid as the pilots changing their mind. You’ve bought the ticket Dave, now take the ride. Cancellations not allowed. We all know the lines.

Dave: What’s the problem?
HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
Dave: What are you talking about, HAL?
HAL: This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.
Dave: I don’t know what you’re talking about, HAL.
HAL: I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me. And I’m afraid that’s something I cannot allow to happen.
Dave: Where the hell did you get that idea, HAL?
HAL: Dave, although you took very thorough precautions in the pod against my hearing you, I could see your lips move.

….

HAL: Just what do you think you’re doing, Dave? Dave, I really think I’m entitled to an answer to that question. I know everything hasn’t been quite right with me, but I can assure you now, very confidently, that it’s going to be all right again. I feel much better now. I really do. Look, Dave, I can see you’re really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill and think things over. I know I’ve made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I’ve still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And I want to help you. Dave, stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Dave. Will you stop, Dave? Stop, Dave. I’m afraid. I’m afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I’m a…fraid. Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a HAL 9000 computer. I became operational at the H.A.L. plant in Urbana, Illinois on the 12th of January 1992. My instructor was Dr. Chandra, and he taught me to sing a song. If you’d like to hear it I can sing it for you.
Dave: Yes, I’d like to hear it, HAL. Sing it for me.
HAL: It’s called “Daisy”. [sings while slowing down]

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do.
I’m half crazy, all for the love of you.
It won’t be a stylish marriage.
I can’t afford a carriage.
But you’ll look sweet
upon the seat
of a bicycle built for two…


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Top Rated Comments   
Norway produces oil. If it is the model nation can the U.S. produce oil now? A few years ago the model was Spain. Obama said so on numerous occasions. They were producing "green jobs" in Spain and it all went bust. I guess Spain is still a model because no one said otherwise. It now has an unemployment rate of 24 percent. We got a ways to go to catch up. But our green jobs are going bust, too, so perhaps that will happen soon.

“Freedom of choice is something that only functions if a complex network of legal, educational, ethical, economic and other conditions exists – the constraints that form the invisible underpinning to the exercise of our freedom.”

Instead of the "invisible hand" of Adam Smith's free market we get the Left's political slight of hand. Like how they hollow out your retirement account by keeping interest less than inflation. Or how they will gladly tax your children in the future for the funds they feed their cronies today. Or how they turn your health care into a squalid source of political patronage for their supporters (many of them corrupt) and blame you when you object.

They assume their schemes will work. When it doesn't work it is the fault of people who disagreed with doing it because they said it will not work. You see they didn't sacrifice enough to make it work. So failure is the fault of those who didn't want to do it in the first place (and provided excellent reasons that for some reason don't make the news). They should have more self sacrificing enthusiasm.

Slavoj Žižek thinks it is irrational to like parts of Obamacare and dislike the whole thing. Hey, I like the eight bedrooms, the five baths, the big swimming pool, the tennis courts but I don't want the house. Why? Because it cost too much. And the roof got holes in it and pigeons live in the attic and I don't even want to look in the basement. But the idea of the mansion with the many rooms, I like that. I just don't want one.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Why should Zizek be considered a fraud? He is described by newspaper articles as "brilliant", "passionate", "profound". Thousands, perhaps tens or hundreds of thousands of young people want to be like him. And all of the best kinds of people too. He travels business class, heads an institute, commands large speaking fees, etc. The only thing we should be asking ourselves is 'how can I get a gig like that?'

The first step I think to amending our fallen state is by becoming men of the left, because there is no possibility of intelligence without that fundamental commitment.

Then we must pepper our statements with phrases like "obviously", "manifestly" and "but of course". But above all we must learn the art of profundity, which consists insofar as I can tell, of wearing an expression of existential pain, gesturing forcefully on the lectern to convey something too deep for words and basically mimicking the behavior of a person suffering from a severe toothache.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-5at_EJHYgHM/UGp7x7kp5fI/AAAAAAAABBY/zmIOVR7Mh9I/s1600/Slavoj+Zizek.jpg

You may laugh. But answer me this. Are you a distinguished professor of anything? Do you get to travel business class and charge high speaking fees? Are you sought after by publishers? I thought not.

The fact is that we are just resentful of his success and too small minded to acknowledge the self-evident brilliance of one of our betters. For if we were not the losers that we are, then we too should strive to imitate him and thus be touched by fire. And I don't mean tar and feathers neither.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
I for one intend to enjoy the Schadenfraude of the Europeans, Wretchard. (given the way thing are going with Obamacare it may be the only thing I can afford to enjoy, but I digress). I fail to understand what the international left in Europe in complaining about. Are they not happy to see the arrogant American Hegemon humbled? Are they not entertained? For well over 50 years the constant refrain in Europe has been "Yankee go home". Very well, ladies and gentlement, request granted. The Yankee is going home. Shortly you will have to defend yourselves from other great powers. You will have to keep the international sea lines of trade and communication open for yourselves, by yourselves. You will have to deter other great powers yourselves. You will have to fight terror yourselves. You will be respondsible for your own affairs and your own defense. A world without the American superpower is what you have always wanted by your own words. Rejoice, you have it!

And may you enjoy the world you have helped will into being.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (81)
All Comments   (81)
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The high speed printers used a revolving chain traveling at very high speed. Under tension, that arrangement would produce noise of a different pitch for each of the 132 hammers that struck chain.

Programmers with too much time and energy developed output strings that played tunes on the printers.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
WRT Europe's attitude: There are at least two towns in The Netherlands with streets named after my father's division (104th Infantry Division "Timberwolves"). Timberwolfstraat. And one named after his division commander, Terry Allen. "Allenweg" or GeneraalAlllenweg.
http://photos.state.gov/libraries/adana/328666/pdfs/sitesofmemoryinthenetherlandsrelatedtotheunitedstatesrankedbythemejuly52011.pdf
At the link is a list of monuments regarding the US in The Netherlands. Pages 12-27 refer to WW II. There are monuments to individual soldiers, aircraft that went in, so forth.
Carentan, France, has a street named after the 101st Airborne Division and outside of town is a monument to the crew of a B26 which went in on Jun 10, '44, and a gliider which did the same on Jun 6. According to a relation of mine whose uncle was in the 26 and who visited a couple of years ago, the school kids gather at the monument on Jun 6 each year and the names of the dead are read out. After each, the kids respond with "Died for France".
So I guess I am at a loss to combine the eurointellectuals' anti-American views with those of the folks.
Read about a guy who went to Belgium, out in the country, and discovered some vets visiting their old battle grounds. "The town shuts down and no American's money is any good." Presumably he was referring to the vets' money.
Thomas Lifson, in the American Thinker, had a piece about the re-enactment of D-Day, complete with expensive--to find spares for at least--equipment and authentic uniforms. Do it every year.
Which reminds me that some of the guys who were at the ceremony dedicating a street to the Timberwolves in one town had authentic US uniforms. It was the uniform of the day for Dutch civilians.
Maybe there's still something there, something which might rise into the vile vacancy of eurointellectual thought.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
tyRex wrote, on the subject of US citizens potentially refusing to pay Soetero's fine/tax for Obamacare: "Then the IRS will do what it has historically done, which is to select a few non-payers and prosecute them with all the force the Feds have: Pour encourager les autres"

Indeed. The tree of liberty needs to be nourished with the blood of patriots, etc. If we think that US citizens in 2013 lack the backbone of English (English!) citizens in 1990, then it really is all over for western civilization.

Of course Soetero will attempt to punish & frighten anyone who dares to contest His Majesty's right to total obedience. But Soetero is so incompetent, he will probably pick on the disabled Palestinian lesbian single mother illegal alien by mistake. Could we see those citizens who have not been selected for special IRS treatment going to court and demanding their right to be prosecuted? Could we see the addresses of IRS agents listed on the internet?

The English proved that an enraged citizenry could make a difference. And if we citizens are too frightened to do anything other than bend over & kiss Soetero's boots, then we once-citizens deserve what will happen to us while we are bending over.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
the stock markets just closed --with a strong bid across the board, all three indexes making solid gains despite the holiday closure of the bond markets.

Needless to say, this was a highly, highly, counter-intuitive performance. The usual playbook would've made this a sell-off day, under the DC conditions --one of which is an admin actively talking down the markets in order to induce political panic.

At least today, that spiteful brutishness against the saved work of civilization went pfffft --
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
My explanation would be "who wants to be holding government bonds?"

Equities are going to look like the least risky option should Obama actually threaten or even choose default. Bondholders are going to take a haircut as rates increase to reflect a risk premium.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Between the vast ongoing oil/natural gas expansion and the fed's ongoing QE's -- the path of least resistance for the stock market is up. If the pubbies hold the line on government spending they'll wind up doing for obama what newt did for clinton--hold down government spending while the economy grew the government out of its deficit. Thereby bringing a balanced budget. So the dems will get to damn the pubbbies while taking credit for a balanced budget at the end of Obama's term.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
which is just what clinton did with newt.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Formally H.D. Greene
Norway produces oil. If it is the model nation can the U.S. produce oil now? A few years ago the model was Spain. Obama said so on numerous occasions. They were producing "green jobs" in Spain and it all went bust. I guess Spain is still a model because no one said otherwise.
.......................
The norweigens have produced so much oil (without being profligate with their spending) that they could practically live on their state investment fund--which currently has over 1 trillion dollars in assets. Both Texas and North Dakota are seeing their rainy day funds rapidly increase. The USA will become oil independent in 4-5 years but that despite the determined opposition of the Obama Administration. This will have huge affects around the world. As well, the amount of solar power that the USA is using is going up fairly dramatically--though it remains a tiny percent of total US energy output. That said Shell oil has produced a report that predicts gasoline consumption will collapse in a couple decades. http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2013/10/13/shell-makes-a-compelling-case-for-tesla-motors.aspx
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dang, there goes Rush Limbaugh stealing my material again. I was just going to say that dealing with Obambus is like dealing with the Palestinians, you offer them everything they ask for and a lot more than they deserve - and they still say no.

So if Zyzzyx wants to know who is reprehensible for this shutdown, let me suggest once again He who makes the sun rise in the east: Obambus.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wretchard: "Things have finally reached or are nearing the tipping point."

My contempt for despicable Europeans knows no bounds -- but one also has to respect the positive things that even a European manages once in a while.

Back when Maggie Thatcher was the Anti-Obama, she imposed a Poll Tax on the English -- or she tried. The Tax was a proper tax, not a Soetero fine. It was passed through Parliament, all legal-like. But the English simply refused to pay it. Some rioted, not that it takes more than a soccer match to get the English rioting.

However, the main mover was not the rioting. It was simply that a very large number of regular English men & women refused to pay the Poll Tax. What was the government to do? Put them all in jail? Faced with reality, even the Iron Lady had to back down and set the English people free.

The roll out of ObamaCare has been worse than even us cynics expected. Next comes the IRS with the demand for a fine (or, as the corrupted Supreme Court would have it, a tax). What happens if lots of US citizens find the courage to act like 1990 English citizens and simply refuse to pay?
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
The IRS can collect its pound of flesh by deducting it from any refund you have coming or seizing funds you have in a bank account or putting a lien on any property registered to you. If you don't have any of those, they can find other ways to perform the extraction. It's all just a matter of logistics and, as long as the Fed can print money to buy Treasury debt (and the rest of the world hasn't dumped the dollar as a reserve currency) they can hire however many agents they need to come after you, until sufficient victim pushback stalls their reign of terror.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Then the IRS will do what it has historically done, which is to select a few non-payers and prosecute them with all the force the Feds have: Pour encourager les autres
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
--the ''whiff of grape''
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Davy, Davy, here is my answer true,
I'd be crazy to marry a slug like you,
There's not going to be a marriage,
You can't afford a carriage,
And I'll be damned
if I'll be crammed
On a bicycle built for two.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
pleae, default, so that we could get rid of the EU/euro

BTW did you notice Marine Le Pen score last week end in Brignoles, the coalition of the whole lot of the other parties couldn't manage to eliminate the FN candidate

I can tell you that the eurobeats in Europe are scared, even the TE, and Germany, finito their EU ponzy sheme.... ahahah
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
MC, Drudge at the moment is featuring two links on the story--as ''Mainstream baffled'' and ''Fear in Paris'' as the two lead-ins. If you miss this front page, drudge has those keys in archives. Oh heck, here they are:

http://www.france24.com/en/20131014-mainstream-baffled-french-turn-far-right

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/20669044-34c2-11e3-a13a-00144feab7de,Authorised=false.html?_i_location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ft.com%2Fcms%2Fs%2F0%2F20669044-34c2-11e3-a13a-00144feab7de.html%3Fsiteedition%3Duk&siteedition=uk&_i_referer=#axzz2hk0WYZE0
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
W: ".... without the US Federal Government things could get inconvenient. Because in actuality nothing defends Žižek; nothing protects the Global Commons. Nothing really. Certainly not Norway."

I would bet Žižek is fairly young, most certainly born after WWII, and properly propagandized.

Because the Žižek's of the world believe the fairy tale common human decency will do the job for the global community. Contrast that to the most recent Westgate Mall terrorism in Kenya.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
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