Recently I joined ArtKos, a group of people interested in political art, and my friend Kayakbiker and I submitted some work for a book for YearlyKos. Through ArtKos, I learned of some wonderful political artists and they are allowing me to present some work here. (A longer version of this piece is cross-posted today at http://www.democracycellproject.net)
Emily Duffy, an East Bay political and car artist, has presented political art via DailyKos diaries and her political art blog, and recently highlighted the work of Kelly Lyles, from the Pacific Northwest. I can see these "Rodent Dictators" live later today in my own backyard at CITIZENS IN HELL, ArtCore studios, Seattle, WA.
The following is adapted (with her permission) from Emily's article about artist Kelly Lyles. (copyright Lyles 2007)
Rodent Dictators by Kelly Lyles
In the troubled postwar [world war I]period Mussolini organized his followers, mostly war veterans, in the Fasci di combattimento, which advocated aggressive nationalism, violently opposed the Communists and Socialists, and dressed in black shirts.... Amid strikes, social unrest, and parliamentary breakdown, Mussolini preached forcible restoration of order and practiced terrorism with armed groups.
Mao's record is dominated by two disastrous initiatives: the "Great Leap Forward," a broad campaign to organize peasants into communes during the late 1950s that resulted in mass starvation and repression; and the "Cultural Revolution," a youth- and army-driven nationwide campaign for ideological purity, again resulting in widespread repression and death.
No doubt you know plenty about the George W. Bush's anti-democracy presidency. In Kelly's triptych Mr. Bush is in very compatible company.
(Emily writes): I've known Kelly Lyles for over a decade and we liked each other immediately upon meeting at the first San Francisco ArtCar Fest. We're both ArtCar artists as well as trained fine artists. We also both love to dress up in outrageous costumes whenever possible.
Kelly has somehow been able to do what so many artists haven't been, carve out a living as a full-time artist and avoid "working for the man". That freedom, coupled with economic necessity, has allowed Kelly to branch out into many media and take risks other artists fear. She'll try most anything and she works intensely on her multitude of projects. The few times I've stayed with Kelly she ran me ragged with her schedule. Kelly is one of Seattle's favorite Art Mavens. She's at all the splashy parties, she knows who's who, she's done many commissions and she is either making art, thinking about it, or trying to sell it. It's a full time, non-stop vocation for her and the world is definitely better for it.
Below you will see one of five pigs Kelly decorated for the city of Seattle. While Kelly can definitely hold her own with classically trained figure painters I think her rodent paintings are probably my favorite of her works. These cute, pun-traits of squirrels, rabbits, and hedgehogs poke fun at modern human life, religion, sexuality, and food. She draws out chuckles while forcing us to face our sinful habits. Kelly also does pet portraits. Kelly's house and art studio were recently featured on HGTV's "What's With That House".
I hope Kelly will do more overtly political art. Her wit, and facility with paint, makes for a perfect satirical combination. I featured one of her earlier pieces, on DailyKos, President's Cabinet last year.
We artists spend so much time in isolation (creating our work) that we never get enough feedback from the public. That is one reason Kelly and I have created artcars. More than any art form, the kinetic display of one's art on a vehicle brings creativity into daily living. To share your opinion on this or any other post, please click the word "COMMENTS" below.
Now, there’s one party in America that’s made the United Nations the enemy. And I don’t know how many of you have ever read that series of books that’s published by the Christian right that’s called the "Left Behind" series? Probably nobody’s read it up here. But don’t feel bad, I’m not recommending it to you. I’m just telling you that according to the book cover that I saw in the airport, 55 million copies have been printed. And in it, the Antichrist is the United Nations. And so there’s this huge, ill-informed body of sentiment out there that’s just grinding away against the United Nations.
–- Wesley Clark (Image from www.religion_cults.com)
I was so shocked by this video that I can't even remember how I discovered it. It's made by Max Blumenthal, who made the Young Republicans "Generation Chickenhawk" video that people were watching last week. He is a very slick infiltrator and manages to get alot of inside stuff on these Rapture folks, before getting exited from the building by cops without an explanation.
There is nothing in the Bible about The Rapture. It was thought up by an 18th century Fire and Brimstone preacher. These folks depend on interpretations of others, just as they do for the Constitution. They don't read the Bill of Rights and I am not so sure they read the Bible either.
Max Blumenthal's work has appeared in The Nation, Huffington Post, Salon and Media Matters. His father is Sidney Blumenthal, former Clinton Aide and frequent Guardian contributor par excellence. He has managed to interview Michelle Malkin, David Horowitz, Ann Coulter.
The Rapture is a core belief component of conservative Christians. They believe Jesus will descend from Heaven and bring the spirits of his followers up to meet the spirits of the already dead followers. They will all be immortals, leaving the earth empty. They also believe all related events are prophesied.
They predict a seven-year period of tribulation (which we are six years into) before the Second Coming of Christ. The Jews would first have to be converted to Christianity. For more, just watch the video.
"I walked the mall, inhaled the fumes from the world's first Cinnabon and considered getting an Orange Julius, but my gastrointestinal tract thought better of it. By my count, only two stores remain from my 1970s and '80s youth: Sears and the sad little Radio Shack adjacent to it. I got kind of wistful for the mall stores I remembered and wondered if there had been a now-expired soul in those failed businesses. It seemed doubtful, however, that soul could dwell in the former home of a Spencer's Gifts that sold black-light posters of the Keep On Truckin' guy. Soulful, yes, but only after bong hits."
"When it opened in 1955, it was the first major commercial development in the region, before the region became an area, and decades before it would become an incorporated city...Federal Shopping Way sported plenty of independent businesses and, importantly and oddly, Old World Square, a small plaza of quasi-European/Russian-looking buildings around a wee courtyard. You could go roller skating in one of them."
"I'm not sure what the development is called today, but it doesn't matter. You could swap it out with any number of strip malls in Lynnwood, Cleveland or Sarasota and no one would know the difference. I really think there must have been soul there once, but now there's a Barnes & Noble."
"When I was going to school there, the teachers got away with showing us Robert Altman's "Nashville" as well as "Das Boot" during social studies. More recently, the district banned Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" from being shown unless it was accompanied by a "credible, legitimate opposing view." The ban was rescinded after torrents of mockery flooded in from around the world, and Jon Stewart made fun of Federal Way on "The Daily Show." Between that and Sanjaya, the '06-'07 school year was a big one for ridicule."
Burgernomics is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity, the notion that a dollar should buy the same amount in all countries. Thus in the long run, the exchange rate between two countries should move towards the rate that equalises the prices of an identical basket of goods and services in each country. Our "basket" is a McDonald's Big Mac, which is produced in about 120 countries. The Big Mac PPP is the exchange rate that would mean hamburgers cost the same in America as abroad. Comparing actual exchange rates with PPPs indicates whether a currency is under- or overvalued. (The Economist)
The Big Mac PPP exchange rate between two countries is obtained by dividing the price of a Big Mac in one country (in its currency) by the price of a Big Mac in another country (in its currency). This value is then compared with the actual exchange rate; if it is lower, then the first currency is under-valued (according to PPP theory) compared with the second, and conversely, if it is higher, then the first currency is over-valued.
For example, suppose the price of a Big Mac is $2.50 in the United States and £2.00 in the United Kingdom; thus, the PPP rate is 2.50/2.00 = 1.25. If, in fact, the US dollar buys £0.50 (or £1 = $2.01), then it is under-valued (1.25 < 2.01) with the respect to the pound by 38% in comparison with the price of the Big Mac in both countries (information as of 2007).
The Economist sometimes produces variants on the theme. For example in January 2004, it showed a Tall Latte index with the Big Mac replaced by a cup of Starbucks coffee. In a similar vein, in 1997, the newspaper drew up a "Coca-Cola map" that showed a strong positive correlation between the amount of Coke consumed per capita in a country and that country's wealth.
The burger methodology has limitations in its estimates of the PPP. In many countries, eating at international fast-food chain restaurants such as McDonald's is relatively expensive in comparison to eating at a local restaurant, and the demand for Big Macs is not as large in countries like India as in the United States. Social status of eating at fast food restaurants like McDonald's, local taxes, levels of competition, and import duties on selected items may not be representative of the country's economy as a whole. In addition, there is no theoretical reason why non-tradable goods and services such as property costs should be equal in different countries: this is the theoretical reason for PPPs being different from market exchange rates over time. Nevertheless, the Big Mac Index has become widely cited by economists.
Note: The dollar currency has been falling dramatically, as war debt and shaky housing market begin to coalesce.
The lower chart shows the value of the US dollar relative to the Euro over the last 4 years. Value has dropped from $1.05 to about $.73.