Paradise of Storm

Tag: Bernie Sanders

Is Martin Shkreli the Face of Beauty?

by Guy Walker

Martin_Shkreli__3449094b

Every time Martin Shkreli answers a question for an interviewer on television, he smiles creepily before the camera shuts off. It’s not a smile of attempted benevolence, or an inflamed erection of his forced humanity, but more of a grim praetorian spasm, a sociopathic twitch. There’s something unsettling in his comfortable insanity. It reminds us of Patrick Bateman peeling off his mask in American Psycho, or Robert Durst confessing the murders under his breath in the HBO miniseries The Jinx. For a flash there, we see Martin Shkreli the man, the pomaded madman who masturbates to videos of pigs squealing and glaciers melting, his nostrils flaring, his mouth contorting as he pulls nearer to ejaculation. Everything else is just theater.

When the 32-year-old founder and CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals skyrocketed the price of Daraprim, the out-of-patent drug from the early 1950’s used to treat toxoplasmosis, AIDS, various cancers, and malaria, from $13.50 per tablet to $750, the Internet shit itself. Overnight, he went from being a banal rich kid to “the most hated man in America.” Initially, Shkreli seemed to welcome the controversy like a bit of unexpected fanfare, replying to tweets with a sardonic in-your-face sense of victory. When asked how he sleeps at night, he replied, “You know, Ambien.” When a journalist tweeted, “I think the hole you’ve dug is deep enough,” he simply and beautifully replied, “uh, f u.” He said the medication was still underpriced, offering cheap puns about him making a killing from the slowly dying. But in the days since, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) disassociated themselves with him, and Presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and even the orangoutang fuckery of Donald Trump have ridiculed Shkreli’s actions. Every media outlet, every politician, every alcoholic blogger has made a point to vilify Martin Shkreli as this week’s whipping boy in our paradise of storm and hell.

And for good reason. Shkreli is clearly vilifying the sick, capitalizing from an already crooked system, and should be condemned by the masses of Internet automatons, counting their Facebook likes on their most recent Shkreli meme. This public outrage crops up every now and then, as if we need to point to someone, and yell “Him! It’s his fault! It’s his fault the world is fucked! It’s his fault my love life is horrible!” But eventually the clamor fades, and that person returns to his or her damp morsel of life. Walter Palmer, the lion-killing dentist lasted a minute, and has since returned to picking out the plaque from 13-year-olds’ fetid mouths. The Kim Davis controversy is fading away, as she is now shuffling around her office peacefully again. Bill Cosby has returned to making weird faces to himself in the mirror. Darren Wilson is somewhere. George Zimmerman is selling his paintings of Confederate flags in an anti-Muslim gun store. Josh Duggar is touching Barbie dolls. And eventually Martin Shkreli will return to his quiet grotesque desert, gnawing on a bloody steak, nothing ever changed in his beige empire of dick.

When the media obsesses over figures like Shkreli for a day or two, or this past week when Pope Francis visited the United States, thus monopolizing all media attention, it seems as though the Syrian refugee crisis is no longer a crisis, or Russia’s involvement in Ukraine and Syria is of little public importance, or climate change is no threatening us at our front doorstep. It’s the media’s own attention disorders, or maybe it’s our own.

In a way, it looks as though this time it’s different, that the public has gained a bit of ground, as Shkreli recently said he would reduce the price-hike to a lower undeclared amount “in response to the anger that was felt by people.” One may even argue that if the public rallies hard enough, if it writes enough inflammatory blogs, or posts enough memes, that it will pressure bad men to make good choices, that there will be some sort of vague democracy, that all our indistinct clicktivism will bring about another chance at decency. After all, Internet activists released Shkreli’s OK Cupid profile, his home address, his telephone number. His ex-girlfriend posted his messages he wrote her five years after they were separated, saying he’d pay her $10,000 to lick her pussy. $10,000 for a bit of wet nostalgia. This is revelatory in itself—it shows the shadow of the insane, another symptom of the power-and-slave dialectic. Nietzsche’s concept of kraft versus macht in his Will to Power, is, as everyone knows, where Martin Shkreli has failed. Humans’ will to power is the central motive to our lives, scrambling for the highest position in life, in which kraft is an agent’s primordial animal strength and is then channeled or overcome by the Self, the finesse of power known as macht. But for Shkreli, he is all macht and no kraft. He flexes the body he doesn’t have, like a madman with Klinefelter syndrome. He wants to control the world but he is a desperate teenager who can’t get girls.

Noam Chomsky called today’s GOP—of which he hesitates to call it a party—a “radical insurgency.” We know the madness of today’s GOP at least partially stems from a religious fanaticism, from a rejection of the constitutional separation of Church and State. Martin Shkreli and the cult of the sociopath are a little different.

When madness, hysteria, and misery creep in through a shadow, and somehow fester and copulate until they are as normal as ugly people in the Mid West, when the incest of paranoia tramples the landscape, then groups of people who once governed with reason and decency become the occupants of the madhouse. Martin Shkreli is not one of the rare awful fucks of human beings to hold power (and in this case the health and lives of thousands of people), but merely a single member of the huge scale of madness and gluttony.

Based on varying studies, anywhere from one percent to four percent of Americans are psychopaths—unable to empathize with others, increased risk taking, superficial charm, and skilled manipulation of others—whereas an estimated ten percent of those in the financial service industry are psychopaths. Then of course there is the steep increase of almost psychopaths—the darker shade in the continuum of personas. No one has officially diagnosed Shkreli as a psychopath, but it doesn’t really matter. His actions are clearly without empathy for human life.

Demonizing Shkreli is important only because it gives a face to the problem, because we can identify the features of the guilty, because it is not enough to discuss Foucault’s Madness and Civilization or the constructs of commodity fetishism. It’s not enough to say “dismantle capitalism” over and over again, but it’s not enough to demonize only Martin Shkreli himself. Eventually, we will forget about him, and others like him will pop up in their various perversions of power, commanding the sick or the gay or the black or the women to bow before them and suffer. And we will remember Martin Shkreli, offering his ex-girlfriend $10,000 to lick her pussy, tweeting privately to his mother: “I am under attack [frustrated face emoji]. I need inspiration. I need inspiration to create the empire of AIDS and cancer and micro dickpics I’ve always wanted. But most of all, I also need thinspirations for my yoga body. btw, I cheated and got extra croutons on my Caesar salad. [wink face emoji, girl dancing emoji].

And Martin Shkreli bashes his head into the padded white walls, asking for more soup.

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The Dawn of Fetishism

by Guy Walker

This man wants to rule the world.

After the initial depression-induced hilarity fades from watching a Republican Governor who is running for President do push-ups in a miasmic display of retarded cryptofascism, and you are left wondering what obscenity did you just witness, wondering if you should call your children to come inside and lock all the doors, if you should drink a handle of whiskey immediately, if you should punch a wall, or even worse, post it on your Facebook page  .  .  .  after all that fades, you are still left wondering, How did we degrade the body politic into such an androgynous ass of failure? How did this man (if what he is can be called a man) corral the masses to elect him as their guardian and governor?

I wonder sometimes if Jefferson and Paine feared the inevitable collapse of Reason, if they knew the Dawn of Fetishism was near the horizon. My elders tell me it’s always been bad, we’ve always been dissatisfied and antagonistic towards the State, that my despondent routine is nothing original  .  .  .  even Plato believed all existing governments were cheap corruptions of virtue, and beyond redemption. In Greek, The Republic can also be translated as The Ideal State  .  .  .  Plato was a philosopher of idealism, of unachievable Arcadias, unmolested landscapes for Pan. Given this pretext, humans are flaccid emerald-nutted slaveholders, dressed as clowns, twirling in their tents. Bobby Jindal doesn’t have a chance at winning the presidency. But his cruel attempt at trying to be fun and relatable isn’t the exception. Ted Cruz did impressions of characters from The Simpsons; he also grilled bacon wrapped around the barrel of a machine gun as he fired it, saying that this is how Texans grill bacon. Donald Trump hailed his elephant-killing sons as great Americans. Jeb Bush sung “Slow Jam The News” with Jimmy Fallon, as The Roots played the harmonies and Jimmy Fallon did his predictable almost-laughing side-act, in a sort of new-age nostalgia for dystopia.

The cartoonish perversion of politicians’ attempts at being fun and relatable through social media is the caliginous simulacrum of retardation. They treat us like children from the 1990’s, sucking on popsicles in front of Nickelodeon. Are we supposed to laugh? Are we supposed to turn to our girlfriends, and discuss how his relatability now outshines the entire GOP’s misogynistic platform? But then again, Jindal and others are speaking directly to us; they are articulating a very sullen modernity of performance and fetishism, projected through Buzzfeed videos and emojis. Guy Debord calls it “the principle of commodity fetishism” that dominates our society. The tangible real world of women, men, poverty, heartache, literature, police killings, Sibelius, death, incest, enormous fields of wild flowers, they are all exchanged for this awful fraudulent world of viral videos and listicles. Videos such as this impose themselves onto our reality, like a cave of shadows and shackles. But they are self-imposed. More Huxlian than Orwellian, a kind of self-imposed fetish with stupification and apathy. Every time I open Facebook I regret it. Another video of a raccoon eating grapes at the dinner table, or a cockatoo screaming into a cup. The world disappears into a sempiternal feed of viral commodity, of tufted caricatures flexing their Botox brawn. The man smiling like a pedophile and then doing push-ups against Buzzfeed employees is no longer the man who hates gays, hates women, hates Mexicans, defunds public education, requires schools to teach intelligent design, refuses government funds to expand Medicaid, votes to extend the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (rejecting provisions under the Geneva Convention), among various other fascist attempts of governing. He is no longer that man. He is an intangible abstract détournement who has nudged the United States a little further towards the edge, into the Abyss of Fuck. Jindal isn’t even interesting enough to talk about. He, like Trump, is so ugly that it has caused him to hate the world. But it is interesting to examine how far we have come: Howard Dean was ruined when he screamed a little too flamboyantly back in 2004, whereas today, Donald Trump can call Megyn Kelly “bleeding from her eyes, bleeding from her wherever,” and somehow get away with it. This is the man who owns Miss Universe. When he called Rosie O’Donnell a fat pig and a disgusting animal, the attendees of the debate roared with enthusiasm. They loved it. In the secondary GOP debate, with the lower-polling candidates, one of the questions was to describe Hillary Clinton in two words—a question that can only serve baseless name-calling. It’s a performance of cruel perversions, like the rape of Reason under a melancholy dawn.

The principle of commodity fetishism is the force on the other side. It allows insane men and women to come to power, to become fascists, to star in viral videos as they do it. There is nothing real anymore. Modernity itself seems fraudulent. Even sex is becoming a sordid wet humping, a pornographic imitation of what we saw on PornHub. Fake people with fake profiles ensue. A girl who I apparently slept with made a fake profile on Facebook and contacted at least several women I’ve slept with recently and told them to no longer fuck me. My love life totally sucks now, and I totally want her back, whoever she is. But this is the sort of unprovocative simulation of lust and ownership that Baudrillard wrote about, in that symbols and signs are now the content of the world, and they act and react merely as a simulation of reality. There are no actual bodies doing anything, no mad mad dancing in the middle of the night  .  .  .  just a peasantry of emojis and asses on Instagram.

Bernie Sanders is right, in that it’s the billionaire class that needs reform, it’s the bankers who were never prosecuted, it’s the blatant assault of wealth and power in this country that has ruptured stability in America. And the growing momentum of support for Sanders is coming from people’s awareness of this. There is more awareness that Hillary Clinton is a fiscal conservative, and always has been, that she has accepted bribes from the fossil fuel industry and terror regimes around the world. Even Eric Holder has now returned to a job at the corporate law firm Covington & Burling. And the everlasting War on Terror follows the One Percent Doctrine that Cheney established, in which he described if there were even a one percent likelihood of Pakistani scientists helping al-Qaeda develop a nuclear weapon, US intelligence has to treat it as a certainty, and respond accordingly. This thinking has spread to all forms of conquest and threat. If a cop fears there is a one percent chance a black man has a gun, he sees fit—necessary even—to shoot him dead. In contrast, it’s been reported incessantly that 97 percent of scientists agree with anthropogenic climate change. That number is in fact false. Of the 69,406 authors named in the peer-reviewed scientific articles regarding climate change, a total of four of those authors rejected any human influence. Less than one one-hundredth of one percent. It’s an assault on reason, yes, but the force from the other side, the force that makes any of this possible, is that of commodity fetishism. Bernie Sanders can’t say people are terrible for their obsession with the trite and shallow. And he can’t advocate for any barrier against this freedom. Because we are free to worship the trite, and no freedom of this sort should be taken away. But I know of no reasonable explanation why hard work is so hard, why it’s easier to gaze at butts on my phone or at the strip club than it is to write a symphony. But so it is.

No one said it better than Louis-Ferdinand Celine:

“The worst part is wondering how you’ll find the strength tomorrow to go on doing what you did today and have been doing for much too long, where you’ll find the strength for all that stupid running around, those projects that come to nothing, those attempts to escape from crushing necessity, which always founder and serve only to convince you one more time that destiny is implacable, that every night will find you down and out, crushed by the dread of more and more sordid and insecure tomorrows. And maybe it’s treacherous old age coming on, threatening the worst. Not much music left inside us for life to dance to. Our youth has gone to the ends of the earth to die in the silence of the truth. And where, I ask you, can a man escape to, when he hasn’t enough madness left inside him? The truth is an endless death agony. The truth is death. You have to choose: death or lies. I’ve never been able to kill myself.”

The TPP is a World of Shit

by Guy Walker

GH-Mudbath

I sung of Chaos and Eternal Night,

Taught by the heav’nly Muse to venture down

The dark descent, and up to reascend…”

John Milton, Paradise Lost

On these typical days in late Spring, before the sun burns the geraniums, before the squirrels bark at me for their morning ration of peanuts, before the school children run off with their huge backpacks and their quivering knees, I rub my eyes awake and sigh deeply, wishing my kitten was still alive. It rained a long violent storm last night, soaking the brittle hills, knocking off a songbird’s eggs into the garden, making the midnight couples feel extra cozy and romantic. A SWAT team invaded an old lady’s house during the thunder. A raccoon had babies, and tried to keep them warm under a large rosemary bush. An overweight businessman drove to a motel to see his mistress. And the sky cracked, pouring over all of Los Angeles. But the morning was a flirtish scenery of gold coruscating air, every flower petal on ecstasy, my regret of alcohol fading away because at least I had a garden. I walk out onto the patio in my Christmas underwear, drinking a lukewarm Americano, and I play my turns on a few different online chess games I’m playing on my smartphone. I scroll through my Facebook feed. I scroll through my Instagram feed. I sigh again, eat three slices of bacon and lick the dust from a Rolls Royce mirror, and I read through the World News and Today I Learned and the Ask Historian’s section on Reddit. Mad Max: Fury Road is opening. I wish I had hair like Bernie Sanders. But one story has caught my attention: the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It is going to fuck everyone and everything  .  .  .  every cornflake-infested child will either become a beggar or a nihilist because of it.

I used to blame my alcoholism on my ex-girlfriend breaking up with me, then I blamed it on baby seals being mauled to a pulp in the Arctic, then I blamed it on hydraulic fracking poisoning our water supply, but now I blame it on the TPP. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, the worst so-called free trade agreement in the history of mankind. It threatens every environmental, health, climate, and labor policy in the Pacific Rim, and therefore the world. This isn’t an opinion piece, it’s all fact.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a proposed so-called free trade accord between the U.S. and eleven other Pacific Rim countries, encompassing 800 million people, about a third of world trade, and nearly forty percent of the global economy. It’s larger than NAFTA, larger than the WTO, and it wants to fuck everyone harder than all previous so-called trade agreements ever have. Most of the content of the agreement has been discussed behind closed doors, between more than 600 corporate adviser’s, from such decency as Boeing, Monsanto, Halliburton, and Lockheed Martin. Congress itself is more or less left in the dark on what exactly the TPP fully entails. For example, members of Congress are allowed to read one chapter at a time (there are twenty-nine chapters in total, only eight of which actually discuss trade, the others of which involve limitations regarding environmental and climate policy, food safety, financial regulation, or the ever-changing corporate power structure), of which they may not take notes, photos, or even talk afterwards about what they read. In contrast, in 2001 during one of several NAFTA expansions, the Bush administration published the full draft of the agreement on the government’s official websites. The Obama administration is pushing to “fast track” the measure, meaning very limited debate on the House floor.

The Nobel Prize winning economist, and former Chair of President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, Joseph Stiglitz, is one of the most important opponents of the TPP. He was a champion of NAFTA, and has since denounced that it was ever a good idea in the first place. Regarding the TPP, he explains:

“Fundamental to America’s system of government is an impartial public judiciary, with legal standards built up over the decades, based on principles of transparency, precedent, and the opportunity to appeal unfavorable decisions. All of this is being set aside, as the new agreements call for private, non-transparent, and very expensive arbitration. Moreover, this arrangement is often rife with conflicts of interest; for example, arbitrators may be a “judge” in one case and an advocate in a related case.”

What Stiglitz is referring to is a section in the draft known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), which allows corporations to directly sue governments—including the U.S. government—if a government’s regulatory laws limit a corporation’s profits. The example most often given is cigarette laws. If cigarette’s are labeled with a warning that they may kill you, Philip Morris or any other may take suit, with the claim that they lost future profits because of a country’s labeling laws. This “investor-state” system has already forced taxpayers to pay more than $440 million to corporations for various profit obstructions, including toxic bans, water and timber policies, and land-use laws. At the same time, more than $34 billion remains pending in corporate claims or suits in the U.S. alone. If this isn’t fucked up enough, in the secret tribunals where these lawsuits made by the corporations against the countries take place, typically three corporate attorneys act as judges and then may rotate in the next case as the prosecuting attorneys. Of all the praetorian fuckery that haunts this awful planet, a corporate-run justice system is the fetid leaking ulcer of fairness. The TPP is a more caliginous girning character than the Old Testament god  .  .  .  it doesn’t even have a face when it smites you for liking dolphins or wanting a glass of drinking water that won’t kill you.

Everyone knows that corporations are obviously people now, but they’re faceless demonic people with heavy constipated breath. Just this week, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, and the Royal Bank of Scotland, will pay more than $5 billion in a settlement for pleading guilty in a currency rigging scandal, but no actual person with a face and sociopathic tendencies will ever face a day in prison. Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive, was given a 74 percent raise to $20 million after he fucked everything up back in 2008. Just this week, the GOP blocked legislation presented by Senator Elizabeth Warren that would require public disclosure of the trade agreements before they get “fast track” status. You might ask yourself why anyone would want to block transparency of a trade agreement that promises jobs and money and stuff. But then you laugh with a nearly empty champagne glass in your hand, and remember that everyone on Capital Hill is 69ing with the banks and the corporations. The Intercept reported on this a little more articulately, exposing one of many revolving doors between business and policy:

“— Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, the assistant U.S. trade representative for agricultural affairs, recently lobbied for the Biotechnology Industry Organization, a trade group for biotech companies. Lauritsen’s financial disclosure form shows she made $320,193 working to influence “state, federal and international governments” on biotech patent and intellectual property issues. She worked for BIO as an executive vice president through April of 2011, before joining the Trade Representative office.

— Christopher Wilson, the deputy chief of mission to the World Trade Organization, recently worked for C&M International, a trade consulting group, where he represented Chevron, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, British American Tobacco, General Electric, Apple and other corporate interests. Wilson’s financial disclosure shows he made $250,000 a year, in addition to an $80,000 bonus in 2013, before he joined the Obama administration. Wilson left C&M International in February of 2014 and later joined the Trade Representative’s office. C&M Internationalreportedly lobbied Malaysia, urging it to oppose tobacco regulations in Australia.

— Robert Holleyman, the deputy United States trade representative, previously worked as the president of the Business Software Alliance, a lobbying group that represents IBM, Microsoft, Adobe, Apple and other technology companies seeking to strengthen copyright law. Holleyman earned $1,141,228 at BSA before his appointment. Holleyman was nominated for his current position in February of last year.”

What the Trans-Pacific Partnership could do here for example—because Sharon Lauritsen and Christopher Wilson both worked for biotech companies—is actually restrict the government’s regulation of drug pricing, as well as create new rules that would inhibit generic lower-priced drugs from entering the market. Creating a monopoly essentially on an entire industry. Akin to when Texas banned the sale of Teslas. Here are some of the most fervent advocates of the free market actually killing the free market through a highjacking of the legal justice system. In his Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, David Hume writes, “public utility is the sole origin of justice.” Government, Hume argues, is not an agreed upon social contract, and by no means is built from an instinctual moral obligation to act on what is best for the people, but rather through force and submission it achieves its order. Why do the extremely rich and corrupt want even more of it, why they aren’t yet satisfied in their cold hell. If all values are derived from the passions rather than from reason, as Hume argues, than the despondent fuckery of collecting immeasurable wealth is an unadulterated passion for the 600 corporate executives in charge of the text of the TPP, almost as much so as taking selfies is for James Franco. Any virtue, as Hume argues, must be “useful or agreeable to the person himself or to others.” A painful sense of guilt or disapproval evokes a vice, and therefore an injustice. But Wall Street clearly doesn’t have a utilitarian sense of economy. Their definition of virtue is a violent skullfucking of the planet. We are turning the clock back towards a more feudal desperate time, a time before Napoleon, before the social contract was declared for the common good.

As everyone knows, Napoleon legalized divorce, established legal equality (forbidding legal privileges based on one’s birth), allowed one’s freedom of religion, abolished feudalism, and established the now very popular Napoleonic Code, finally repealing all royal law. But none of those customs or laws are actually worth anything. You can’t sell freedom of religion quite in the same way that you can sell fraudulent loans.

The only thing left of Napoleon’s legacy is his penis. It’s true, Napoleon’s penis still taunts us, above ground, behind the dark fog, on this terraqueous masterpiece of human tragedy. Nearly two-hundred years after his doctor cut it off during his autopsy and gave it to a priest in Corsica, and after it has passed through the hands of several purposeless human beings as the temporary owners of the now shriveled scab, the chewed-up jerky that tried to hump its way to an already meaningless victory, Napoleon’s penis lies isolated from the man’s achievements, it’s present owner fielding offers as high as a hundred thousand dollars. Through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we are returning to the feudal state, erecting the corporate advisers as the royal family. The once bold achievements of our leaders from the past—who paved the way for a democratic and free society—are dying. All that will remain are global trade agreements, orphans, dead whales, and Napoleon’s severed penis. And the sun will finally set.

Sources:

http://www.democracynow.org/2013/10/4/a_corporate_trojan_horse_obama_pushes

http://www.citizen.org/documents/press-release-fast-track-introduced-april-2015.pdf

http://www.citizen.org/tradewatch

http://www.citizen.org/investorcases

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/04/16/tpp-revolving-door/

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/30815-the-trojan-horse-president

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-zuesse/why-wont-obama-go-after_b_4661086.html

http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2014-01-24/dimon-gets-74-percent-raise-after-billions-in-fines

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/30947-matt-taibbi-world-s-largest-banks-admit-to-massive-global-financial-crimes-but-escape-jail-again

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