Friday, March 31, 2006

From Cursor: "When the FBI comes to class"

Which, despite the strangeness from this "anarcho-capitalist", i.e. the idea that Austrian neo-liberal economics, which mainstream economists don't even recognize as legit, are somehow "anarchist", is good in showing the mindset of the FBI, at least as well as I've been able to glean.


"Someone from the FBI came and spoke to my National Security Law class yesterday. He was a counter-terrorist higher-up, and was personally involved in the Siege at Waco. He pretty much reinforced the negative stereotypical “jack-booted thug” image of Federal Agents."
...
"His description of the Waco Siege was about as one sided and biased as you could imagine. He announced that anyone who disagreed with this version of events was “misinformed.” The same went for the Patriot Act. You don’t like it—you are just “misinformed.” Now I do not buy into to all the conspiracy theories on Waco, and Patriot Act was not the end of Civil Liberty. But to suggest that those who have concerns or criticisms on these points are categorically “misinformed,” and to do it in a “Hey I am the F-effing FBI and I KNOW and you DO NOT” kind of attitude, just reeked of arrogance."

"but included on this list with Al Queda, Hezbollah, and the ELF, were IndyMedia, Food-not-Bombs, the Communist Party of Texas, “Anarchists,” and other unnamed “cause-groups” which he conceded included extremist religious orgs. This got many in class riled up."


My impression is that these guys (mostly), have an ever growing need for self justification. Someone above them tells them that they should look at Food not Bombs, well, god damnit, they'll find for themselves all of the nefarious 'reasons' why Food not Bombs is a bad bad organization and then convince themselves that because of this 'evidence' that they're on the side of righteousness.

It must be easier to do your work if you can demonize those who you're attacking than if you see innocent people instead of monsters.

Correction

The name of the really great bookstore in Arcata is Northtown books, not North Coast books.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Lost Highway on the Lost Coast

I'm in Arcata California for a few days. It's an amazing experience. The town itself is sort of like a combination of certain towns in Washington which will remain nameless and Key West. I feel that I understand the town. I wasn't expecting this; in fact, I didn't know what to expect.

I'm writing this from Eureka, half drunk, after getting two pints of stout at the Lost Coast Brewery, whose logo I've taken a picture of and will post once I get back and get the film printed on Photo CD.

I'm reminded of the Keys in so many ways. They have salt marshes here; the Keys have salt marshes. They have little homes and a way of life that's developed mainly thanks to isolation from the rest of the world; the Keys have that too. In fact, that's one of the main features of the Florida Keys.

So I understand this. Intuitively. I like the town. The town of Arcata is not dominated by Humboldt State University, which is a good thing. I toured Eugene on the way down here and was disappointed. While I'm sure many good things are going on in Eugene the fact is that it's a college town whose life is dominated by the University of Oregon. The anarchist, alternative, scene, sort of grew up in spite of the influx of students straight, Republican, Democrat, liberal, stoned, whatever, that the University of Oregon brought with it. Reminds me of Madison Wisconsin.

Arcata, on the other hand, is a pure alternative town unto itself. It exists not on the strength of a college but on its own terms. Of course, the jobs issue is a problem.

Strange thing, though is that there's a huge wood processing industry right by both Arcata and Eureka. But it's also the place where Earth First! started. I guess in the past EF wasn't friendly to the economic interests of loggers and wood processors but in recent years they've developed a model of organizing which brings their interests into play. This is a good thing.

Arcatans seem to be one of the most politically active people's that I've come across. Looking through the Arcata Eye, the local paper of record, I come across lists and lists of citizen meetings to address a number of local municipal problems and issues. Development, neighborhoods, compensation for storm damage, local Green Party doings (reporting an increase in Green Party activity), you name it.

These people might actually be on the verge of living up to the parody that Michael Walzer, of Dissent magazine, made about the realization of direct democracy, that it would entail endless meetings about everything under the sun. I see the fact that they're approaching it as a good thing, not as bad in any way.

I like the fact that the place is isolated. I can go down to California without having to be in....California. It's raining all the time, just like home.

As an end note, and I'm putting it as an end note because coming here is not about checking out things like this but experiencing the place, Northcoast books on H street in Arcata, just up the street from the Plaza, has one of the most spectacular selections of books that I've seen.

I found an, admittedly bad but better than nothing, translation of Apollinaire's book "The Poet Assasinated" while browsing the shelves, along with both volumes of fiction by Pierre Guyotat, an obscure (in English) but extremely influential in France author, there, which was impressive.

Now to find books by Auguste de Villiers de l'Isle-Adam, an even more obscure author, but one who influenced, among other things, Maldoror by Lautremont, a book whose eccentricities are thought to be totally unique, even if he borrows imagery from others. Read Villiers de l'Isle-Adam and you'll see that those eccentricities weren't so unique at all.

Villiers de l'Isle-Adam is now my final frontier, the furthest out I've gone in searching the world of literature. Surely there are further reaches, and I'll get to them, but currently this is the furthest boundary.

Got to go, will post later.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Alternatives...

Western Washington is a place that's birthed much of the alternative culture of the '90s (although Austin did some as well), which featured independent record labels, independent films, various DIY ventures and ideas. It also features a lot of alternative institutions, in the broader sense, things like co-ops, alternative health clinics, places for alternative learning, the list goes on.

But something else happened here as well; the Battle of Seattle (which took place before I'd even gotten the thought of coming out here. I was in Indiana, in fact) took on corporate and state power directly by denying the delegates the opportunity to come to an agreement.

In a way it was an example of the dismantling of corporate and state power.

Both strategies, building local alternatives and trying to dismantle the structures of power which preside over us, are necessary for a better world, two parts of the same coin. On the one side, organizing in your community, on the other side, taking on the greater structures of power that influence not just your community but everyone else as well.

Dismantling corporate and state power too is important because it presents an alternative to taking state power, and by extension taking corporate power.

Dismantling power means devolving power to the local, confronting state and corporate power but doing it with the intent of destroying the concentrations of power which have built up, not seizing the reigns yourself.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Immigration March Draws 500,000 in L.A

Good for them. Maybe this'll be the issue that breaks Bush's support: his pandering to the extreme right Minutemen constituency and people protesting the proposed law which would make someone who is in this country illegally legally on par with someone who's committed murder.

That's what felony means.

Murder, rape, arson, that's the sort of thing you get a felony for, and by proposing this law Bush is suggesting that people in this country illegally, specifically hispanics, who were in this country before Anglo Americans, are equivalent in threat to murderers and rapists.

"Many protesters said lawmakers were unfairly targeting immigrants who provide a major labor pool for America's economy.

"Enough is enough of the xenophobic movement," said Norman Martinez, 63, who immigrated from Honduras as a child and marched in Los Angeles. "They are picking on the weakest link in society, which has built this country."

***

""Everybody deserves the right to a better life," he [another speaker] said."

The thing about Domenech

The Washington Post's hired/fired ultra-rightwing blogger, is that he's in so many ways emblematic of what the Republican party is about.

Reading about him, I noticed that he was an editor at Regnery press, which is the main source of the batshit crazy conservative books which have been coming out since roughly the late Clinton years. And he's 24 now, which means that he was an editor at a major publishing house either at 24 or at 23, possibly before. I'm all about do it yourself, putting things together, putting them out, with no presumption to say that younger people can't put out good books or do good writing, but this guy wasn't an intrepid do it your self'er, he was employed as an editor to one of the biggest conservative publishing houses, editing books which shaped frothing right wing discourse.

That he'd be 24 or younger suggests that what these people want is ideological conformity with no content to speak of. That's the only way I can explain it. Or else this guy wouldn't have gotten the job.

Which says a lot about the Republicans. The tone and analysis of their books have been going south for so long that now, at this point, they're being edited by 24 year old ideologues. Reminds me of the 12 year old conservative shock jock who had his own book out.

Jesus Christ, is there any lower thing which could demonstrate how the Republicans operate exclusively on the principle of parteibeifel, or "standing in line with the party", and little or nothing else?

Why not have an automatic machine write the propaganda, like in 1984. We're getting to about that place.

Friday, March 24, 2006

About the IWW

I'd rather the aristocracy of labor do so too, but what I'm concerned about is people whose background is definitely on the other side of the class divide joining groups like the IWW and co-opting them.

I think in an ideal world IWW members should actually be part of the working class and not just think that they're part of it because, despite coming from a privileged background, they have to work during college.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

More incomprehensability from jedmunds

From: "The Significance Of Blowing Hot Air During a Circle Jerk Or Otherwise: Is There Any?"

"The difference between tha dailykos, mydd, et al and Kevin Drum, tpmcafe, et al seems to me, to be the difference between two varieties of “centrism.” Both essentially partisan. Neither wedded to either side of the particular issues that tend to actually motivate voters. One, stimulates the mob. The other, less inclined toward passion and rhetoric. One’s from mars, the other thinks they’re from Olympus (the mountain, not the city). And who write about actual policy less than many pretend. But both significantly better than their counterparts in meatspace."

So these people are essentially centrist. But they're partisan. They're centrist democrats, like Clinton but only sexier and a wee bit more progressive, and their only partisanness is to centrist democrat ideas, like James Carville, for instance.

If that's what you consider "Partisan", being an obedient attack dog for whatever the democrats, whether conventional Clinton democrats or people just a few degrees to the left of Clinton, then, sure they're Partisan, but I was always under the impression that you actually had to have some principles to be partisan, something which, in their infinite flexibility, both Kos and Atrios, to say nothing about the more "policy oriented" sites, have sacrificed on the alter of access, that is if they ever had progressive values to begin with. This last applies mostly to the "policy oriented" people. With the exception of TAPPed, which is essentially a social democrat outfit, I don't see it.

And about that whole "lefty" thing, let me ask you, assuming that Mr. Edmunds and company could possibly stop in: when was the last time you listened to "Democracy Now!" with Amy Goodman. When was the last time you read a book by Chomsky. When was the last time you heard anything by Jim Hightower. When was the last time you read, wrote, or cared, about the global justice movement or, dare I say it, participated in anti-globalization protests. If you're on the east coast, did you go to the Boston Social Forum? Were you even aware of it's existence?

Third world debt, the IMF, the WTO, any immediate responses?

If you answered consistently "no" to these questions then you don't have even a marginal right to consider yourself as being on the left in this country.

Plain and simple.

If words have any meaning, you're not, nor will you be.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

iNFj

That's the verdict from the Meyers-Briggs personality test.

known as "The Counselor"

"The Counselor Idealists are abstract in thought and speech, cooperative in reaching their goals, and directive and introverted in their interpersonal roles. Counselors focus on human potentials, think in terms of ethical values, and come easily to decisions. The small number of this type (little more than 2 percent) is regrettable, since Counselors have an unusually strong desire to contribute to the welfare of others and genuinely enjoy helping their companions. Although Counsleors tend to be private, sensitive people, and are not generally visible leaders, they nevertheless work quite intensely with those close to them, quietly exerting their influence behind the scenes with their families, friends, and colleagues. This type has great depth of personality; they are themselves complicated, and can understand and deal with complex issues and people.

Counselors can be hard to get to know. They have an unusually rich inner life, but they are reserved and tend not to share their reactions except with those they trust. With their loved ones, certainly, Counselors are not reluctant to express their feelings, their face lighting up with the positive emotions, but darkening like a thunderhead with the negative. Indeed, because of their strong ability to take into themselves the feelings of others, Counselors can be hurt rather easily by those around them, which, perhaps, is one reason why they tend to be private people, mutely withdrawing from human contact. At the same time, friends who have known a Counselor for years may find sides emerging which come as a surprise. Not that they are inconsistent; Counselors value their integrity a great deal, but they have intricately woven, mysterious personalities which sometimes puzzle even them."

O'Reilly, facts and fictions.

Interesting piece in the New Yorker about Bill O'Reilly.

Says that class is his motivating force, class resentment, although it's been demonstrated that he grew up in a middle class home on Long Island...The Rational Radical* has a good take on the controversy. But the New Yorker adds a new fact, the hypothesis that it was being in college with people who had more money than him which made Bill O'Reilly suddenly find class resentment.

And that's what I want to talk about. Because I've seen this species of person so many times, so very, very, many times before that it makes me sick.

Typical person: middle class, had a good home, good upbringing, never wanted, goes to college has to have a job to help pay the bills, maybe gets work study even, although that's less prevalent, suddenly thinks that he or she is "working class" and develops an inherent resentment to the richer kids around him or her who don't have to take a job to pay for school life. I say richer kids advisedly.

So they get pissed off, thinking that they're workers, while they're enrolled at elite institutions, which all colleges are, whose purpose is to mint people who therefore no longer have to be part of the working class. What a contradiction, right? You're suddenly working class because you're in a place whose purpose is to exempt you from the working class and yet you have to pay for some of your stuff through working a part time job.

Some people who do this get so pissed off at the affront that they, yes, "THEY", would have to WORK during COLLEGE that they join the IWW or similar organization, which has in the preamble of its constitution that the working class and the laboring class have nothing in common and that there will be strife between them until the final overthrow of the system.

Bunch of bullshit. To most working folks the little princess or prince who suffers the indignity of working a job while at college and the richer kid whose parent pay for it all are just the same.

And so Bill O'Reilly's tale of oppression because he wasn't a Vanderbilt rings as hollow as these people, who come from positions of privilege, but who aren't quite privileged enough to get all the perks, who bitch and moan about the rich oppressing them.

How can you be oppressed by someone if you yourself are one step away from them?

This doesn't count the first generation college kids or the people of color who come to college, who face something different, but, well, they're really not the ones who do the complaining, in my experience. Gross generalization, sure, but in my experience there's nothing louder than a middle class person injured by having to WORK, nothing which will elicit more whining, more self congratulatory bullshit, than someone from a position of privilege who thinks that the world is against them because they don't have it all, and at college you see who has it all.

Most first generation college kids and kids of color, in my experience, are just thankful to be there. They might voice the same concerns as the middle class people sometimes, but not in the same way.

I had a roomate once who bitched and moaned about not having any money, about the fact that he had to work; turned out that he worked as a tutor in a writing center, part time, and spent basically his whole paycheck on weed. Weekly weed bill of over $100. Mommy and Daddy paid for the rest.

Another rooom mate complained about being poor, complained about how he didn't even have money at this time of the month for food, so he was going to have to go without. He gets a check from home, which he described as being "lower middle class", and what's the first thing he does? He buys two CDs. Yeah, you're sure poor there.

More like you're just a whiney little baby..

The hypocracies of student poverty. Just be thankful that you are a student and that you can do this, don't bitch because you're not an heir to the Aga Khan.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Disjunction between lack of support for Bush and the current media environment

I really don't know what to say about it. It's a very strange situation. The feeling is that if people are generally against Bush that there should be some sort of manifestation of that, but I don't see that anyplace. Instead, what I see is the same thing that's been in place for the last two years: a very vocal segment of the population extolling their love for Bush, their approval for the war, their approval for Bush's tactics, suggesting that people who object to them are traitors or worse. The other side sees a large pool of apathy, people not speaking up one way or the other but going about their business seemingly oblivious to what's going on. Then, there's a small group of anti-Bush people, people who're against the war.

To me this doesn't seem to jibe with the idea that people are generally against Bush, unless it's that silent group which is progressively getting fed up with him, yet, paradoxically, not yet showing their dissatisfaction openly. Hopefully that will change, if that situation is indeed the case.

The media is dominated by pro-Bush types; maybe these silent people have figured out that the people on Fox news just want to bully people to support their position, through intimidation and innuendo, and that the vast majority of this country didn't sign up for that, and probably, hopefully, resents being bullied.

Disjunction between lack of support for Bush and the current media environment

I really don't know what to say about it. It's a very strange situation. The feeling is that if people are generally against Bush that there should be some sort of manifestation of that, but I don't see that anyplace. Instead, what I see is the same thing that's been in place for the last two years: a very vocal segment of the population extolling their love for Bush, their approval for the war, their approval for Bush's tactics, suggesting that people who object to them are traitors or worse. The other side sees a large pool of apathy, people not speaking up one way or the other but going about their business seemingly oblivious to what's going on. Then, there's a small group of anti-Bush people, people who're against the war.

To me this doesn't seem to jibe with the idea that people are generally against Bush, unless it's that silent group which is progressively getting fed up with him, yet, paradoxically, not yet showing their dissatisfaction openly. Hopefully that will change, if that situation is indeed the case.

The media is dominated by pro-Bush types; maybe these silent people have figured out that the people on Fox news just want to bully people to support their position, through intimidation and innuendo, and that the vast majority of this country didn't sign up for that, and probably, hopefully, resents being bullied.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Coulter and Fascism

It's been pointed out that Coulter doesn't really act like a conservative-she doesn't dress like one, she doesn't talk like one, she seems to be more interested in being provocative than actually being conservative, which is true. But, and check out the recent post on Orcinus about Fascism for this, the fascists weren't really strict conservatives themselves. It's a long argument, but the idea of fascists as being "conservative revolutionaries", revolutionaries who happen to have 'conservative' ideas, and as "Brown Bolsheviks", in the words of one person who disliked both the Bolsheviks and the Fascists, is more accurate than these people being simply ultra-conservative.

Coulter probably just wants liberalism to go away by force, and to have an order with conservative values enforced on everyone. She probably doesn't really care so much about conservative constants like respecting social traditions, or skepticism regarding power, things which, to their credit, the conservatives used in critiqueing some of the excessses of the Socialist world. She just wants her order, which has conservative values, to be the law of the land, imposed, no room for discussion or disssent, or means to change it, anti-democratically.

In other words, she wants a police state which happens to embody conservative values as opposed to, say, a police state which embodies leftist values. Either way, it a) isn't really conservative, and b) embodies the police state more than the particular ideology.

Because she doesn't care about things like tradition or scepticism to power, at least Tradition in the Burkean sense, not in the "Let's force it on everyone else" sense, she doesn't really have to be a conservative, since she isn't. She can instead pick and choose and act whatever way she likes, because the embodying of Conservative Values, for her, validates it all.

It's not about conservatism, it's about authoritarianism with a conservative face, something that Coulter can embody and communicate quite well.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

My god, Pandagon discovers Marxist analysis

I never thought I'd see the day.

Amanda Marcotte has a good article about class as it effects gender inequalities in the rate of highschool graduation. Some conservatives are saying that the system is biased against boys, amazingly, but Marcotte makes the case that the real thing going on is working class boys being tracked for non-college required careers and women, going into the pink collar work force, needing more education to basically do secretarial skills. This is working class women. Not elite women.

I think she's right on. It's good to see that Pandagon at least has some awareness of traditional leftist theory and points of view, and I mean that affectionately.

Title link gets you to it.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Memories of bad things past

Adding to the previous posts, I remember a time in the little town in Michigan that I grew up in, when, attending the alternative highschool there, I was sitting in the back of a math class doing nothing, with everyone else, when the guys next to me, who didn't know me too well and didn't suspect about my sexual orientation, went into a charming little story about

How they'd go to Flint, which was pretty much the closest big town, closer than Detroit itself, around two o'clock at night in their pickup trucks, cruise the parking lots of the gay bars that existed there, and find drunken, isolated gay men, lure them into the back of their pickup truck, and then beat them with baseball bats.

They said this all jokingly and acted like they had a great time with it.

You hear a story like that and you know what side your bread is buttered on pretty quick.

Yes, and although I don't engage in Bob's behaviors

I know from my own life that you can only stick out your hand only to find it being slapped back so long before you start to not put it out there to begin with.

Hell Yeah! Ted Rall's latest column is a killer, fucking great. "The Bottom to Top transfer of secrecy"

Again, I respect Ted Rall, so I'm not going to wantonly reproduce his entire column on this website; the title link gives the permalink to it.

A few highlights, though:

I, um, can't really reproduce the first paragraph. You'll have to read that yourself. But, do, since it sets the tone for the whole thing.

Here are some highlights which make more sense once you've read the first paragraph:

"What if Bob's neighbors, friends and colleagues were sexually nonjudgmental? He could hook up with anyone he wanted to without fear of reprisal. Bob needn't worry about the police searching his car, if drugs were legal. If Bob lived in a nondysfunctional political environment whose popular and self-confident government and citizens chose not to fear but to embrace dissent as an essential part of constructive discourse, no one would consider the books he borrowed from the library "subversive." He would have no more reason to care about the USA Patriot Act than his government would have to use it to examine his library records."

"Draconian drug laws, neo-Puritan views of sex and political intolerance are forms of social and legal disapproval that create scapegoats, hermits and fugitives. Consider, for example, the closeted gay man. Fearing the opprobrium of family and coworkers and (in some states) the police, his sole consolation is his belief that his "M4M" web posts will stay between him and his Internet service provider. "

Then he goes on to list some of the downsides....well, just read it your self. The downsides being increasingly complex.

Funny Rall comic on Hipsters

Which you'll have to see by clicking on the title link, since I'm not going to steal bandwidth from Mr. Rall.

But, oh man, I live in the epicenter of hipsterism; in a sense I live in one of the places where hipsterism began. I'm surrounded by them. And Rall hits the nail on the head...it's sad that people out here can't self criticize or there'd be a lot more cartoons like that originating specifically from this area.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Orcinus: Foundations of Fascism

Excellent essay describing both the Republican party's potential for metastatizing into a genuine fascist movement and the potential for a fascist movement to gain power under the current conservative climate, both things which have been extensively discussed here on this blog. Check it out.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Crash vs. Brokeback

Look people, we have to get some clarity on this. Brokeback Mountain was a great movie and a breakthrough in terms of gay relationships and struggles being portrayed on film, but the anti-Crash campaign really should be toned down.

I have not seen the movie. But a whole lot of people that I know have seen it and it's been highly recommended to me and described in good detail. From what they say, and from what I understand, Crash is an equally breakthrough film when it comes to race relations in America and in portraying the experience of minorities in America.

There shouldn't be this conflict, because at bottom the two movies appear to be trying to break similar ground: to portray parts of American life either neglected by the media or very much misunderstood.

I could understand the protest if the best movie of the year was something like "Armageddon", or some throw away movie which might be fun and have commercial success but is lacking in artistic value, but pitting a film against racism against a film about homophobia? That's not right. Just isn't.

We should be flexible enough to see similar struggles engaged in by our brothers and sisters, honor them, and not quibble about whose oppression is more important. It's all important. And, quite frankly, although gay rights are extremely important I think that portraying the experience of racism in America accurately is more immediately needed.

Monday, March 13, 2006

I'm not going to defend Milosevic

I think that there are two issues going on with Milosevic, irrespective of his death, which are his actions, on the one hand, and the cynical manipulation of Yugoslav politics by the United States, especially in relation to Kosovo, on the other. Just because the U.S. manipulated the situation there doesn't mean that Milosevic was therefore in any way blameless. It's not a case of "whoever the U.S. opposes is therefore good".

No, Milosevic's rise to power, as well as the rhetoric he used along the way, is all copiously documented. There's nothing to prevent someone from finding Milosevic's speeches, addresses, etc.. which tell the story of exactly what he was about.

To give a few examples: the most famous one was an open forum in Kosovo in the early '90s, I believe, where Milosevic, as Yugoslavia's President, interviewed Kosovar Serbs about alleged atrocities against them by Kosovar Albanians. This was televized. After listening to testimony, Milosevic declared "You will never be stepped on again", which touched off a wave of anti-Albanian violence in Serbia because it effectively said that the central government would look the other way when ethnic Serbs took "revenge" on ethnic Albanians, which they did.

Another Milosevic moment was, after the breakup of Yugoslavia, when the World War II record was being examined and it was found that during the rule of the Fascists in Croatia that Orthodox Serbs who lived there had been forcibly rebaptized as Catholics. Milosevic said, again, on TV, "We will find their names, we will find out who they were, and we will bring them to justice". You can imagine what that meant.

Milosevic's trial was marked by the fact that although he had given extremely inflamatory speeches, had deliberately provoked people to commit atrocities against ethnic minorities, that the formal paper trail was missing. It seems that he was much more about giving a wink and a nod and expecting people to follow out orders rather than committing everything to paper.

But the same could be said about the government of Columbia right now. Formally, the government doesn't have any affiliation with the paramilitary death squads which are operating there, but everyone knows that the membership of these things is both heavily military and is condoned by the Columbian government.

And of course in World War II the excuse, which was thankfully kicked out as being a exculpitory mechanism, was that no one forced people to work in concentration camps, no one forced people to work in death squads. If people didn't want to do it they didn't have to.

Well, both the people who did the actual adminstering of the concentration camps and death squads and those who ordered, organized, and condoned the same were guilty.

The same could be said about Milosevic and about his relation to the people who carried out the atrocities. The attempt has been made to put all the blame on the people at the bottom, saying that, well, Milosevic never knowingly approved of that. Bullshit. Both the people on the bottom who carried out the atrocities and the Serbian armed forces and Serbian government officials, including Milosevic, who created the structures and support for those atrocities, are guilty.


The fact that we intervened in Kosovo for self-involved motives changes nothing of this.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

A sample of Lee Ranaldo's journals

From the very beginning.

I hope that Soft Skull press forgives me for this usage...

"I feel i just want to runa dn run and spend myself until there's nothing left and I just fold up somewhere and fade from life. I knkow it's too easy a way out, but what is a person to do faced with these problems?

Sure I can make another drawing, write some verse, but what of it? It's not really going to change anything, and I'm under some sort of delusion that actions should have effects, should mean something larger than the finitude they seem to have. I can't stand the thought of a mundane life amidst desires for something bigger. Either I must erase these desires from my life/world, or find that cathartic grandeur I'm looking for. "

Lee Ranaldo--a happy finding

Move more books into my place recently from places they were stored and one of them is Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth's book "jrnls 80s", which, of course, is the journals of their 80s tours.

I'm very happy to find it again and to start into it. Sonic Youth was a great band (notice the "was", I won't go into it), and this is from one of their most fertile periods.

Plus, it gives an insight into the thinking and concerns of one of the people who made post-punk.

That's valuable in and of itself. Much has been written about the sixties, some about the seventies, but not a lot underground music after that (except for Punk, which I don't like).

This contributes to making these people living, breathing, thinking, people, instead of just strange people who put out strange records.

Which is good for us strange people who listened to the strange records and had thoughts of our own.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

About Milosevic's death

I'm glad that he died while a prisoner of the Hague, on trial for crimes against humanity.

It's also useful to remember that the U.S., under George Bush, would not have seen this happen since it completely opposed the idea of an international criminal court.

Now go read about Laura Bush's rug.

President Bush loves Laura's rug

From the Washington Post:Bush Weaves Rug Story Into Many an Occasion" about the Oval Office rug, Laura's rug.

"And then there's the rug. Don't forget the rug. President Bush never does." and it's Laura's rug, mind you.

"For whatever reason, Bush seems fixated on his rug. Virtually all visitors to the Oval Office find him regaling them about how it was chosen and what it represents."

" -- he delegated the decision to Laura Bush, who chose a yellow sunbeam design." That must have taken some interesting dying.

" Sure enough, she wasn't in the room but a minute or two before he started telling her about the carpet.

"You know an interesting story about the rug?" he asked. "Laura designed the rug."

"She did?" Vargas said."

"Bush went on: "The interesting thing about this rug and why I like it in here is 'cause I told Laura one thing. I said, 'Look, I can't pick the colors and all that. But make it say 'optimistic person.' "

I hope that Laura's rug makes the President feel optimistic, I'd hate for it to be a downer for him.

""He loves his rug," said Nicolle Wallace, the White House communications director. "I've heard him describe it countless times.""

Oh really?

"Sometimes Bush describes it as a metaphor for leadership. Sometimes he relates how Russian President Vladimir Putin admired the carpet. Sometimes he seems most taken by the lighting qualities."

I can understand the metaphor for leadership thing, I'm all about empowering the rug that covers the oval office. The lighting qualities mystify me, maybe it has to do with the way it's been colored.

" During "An Oval Office Tour With President George W. Bush" on the White House site, he wastes no time pointing out the carpet. "It helps make this room an open and optimistic place," Bush tells viewers."

Well, it may be open to Bush, but I don't see how we need to get the visitors to "Whiteouse.gov" invovled. I wonder what Laura would think about Bush telling the world that her rug makes the room an open and optimistic place.

So, in summary, Bush really, really, likes Laura's rug and he brags about it to foreign dignitaries, heads of state, and even to anonymous visitors to the White House website.

Whew.

That must be some rug.

Laura's rug must be extra spectacular.

Holy shit, Milosevic has just died

whoa

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Multi-national states

I think that whatever form countries take in the future that nationalism will have to be jettisoned as an organizing principle. This might not make sense that much in relation to American politics, since, despite our rabid "nationalism" we are essentially a multi-national state, albeit one with serious inequalities between the various ethnic groups which make it up, but in terms of both European politics and the politics of countries in the third world which have followed Europe's lead it's a serious issue.

I think the problem with nationalism is that it's never that simple; you never have homogenous, ethnically, politically, religiously, linguistically, unified states, and attempts to create these homogenous states out of previously existing states are doomed, in this form at least, to failure, because you'll always have minorities living in these areas who share common history, and maybe some common characteristics but not others. But to put forward the principle of nationalism based on these things without any qualifiers which would weaken the nationalist argument and shift the focus to a less national-exclusive state is to invite either oppression of minorities living within that state or some sort of ethnic cleansing, which isn't associated just with atrocities like WWII or Yugoslavia but also in less talked about events like the Greek-Turkish population exchange, where Greeks who had lived in Turkey for thousands of years, preceding the entry of the Turks into the area now called Turkey, the Anatolian penninsula, were kicked out of their homes, moved to Greece, and, in exchange, the Turks who had moved to Greece and other areas under control of the Ottoman Empire were welcomed back into Turkey, with the idea of creating an ethnically homogenous, intensly nationalistic, Turkish state. The oppression of the Kurds, going on today, is another expression of this sort of rabid nationalism on the part of Turkey.

Wouldn't it be more just to let the Greek minorities live in Turkey, where they'd always lived, and let the Kurdish minorities live in eastern Turkey, where they'd always lived, rather than to try to create an ethnically homogenous state?

The Kurds, in a way, are sort of a bad example for multinationalism because they are the largest ethnic group which doesn't in fact have a country in the world. This isn't an example of a tiny, really small variant, ethnic group, demanding independence from something which they're really culturally similar to, but instead a huge ethnic group which probably has some justification for asking for their own country.

But besides this example I think the idea still stands. Once you start breaking down into ethnic states for the purpose of self determination you get the impetus for minority groups to try to assert their rights by doing the same thing...by breaking away to form increasingly small countries of their own, with possibly the process going on again for other minority groups who in their turn are oppressed. Wouldn't it be simpler for people to decide to draw the line, agree to cooperate, and to form multi-ethnic states that were respectful of minority rights instead of asking for self determination to be carried out to the furthest extreme?

Not subjugate one ethnic group to the dominant ethnic group but instead construct countries which aren't for the particular benefit of any ethnic group, although the people living there might share a common history.

I'm just thinking here.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Jessica Simpson

Been reading more pop-culture things....pink is blog.

Anyways, I think that the whole appeal of Jessica Simpson is sort of misplaced in that she only looks attractive because she's only 24.

I think that once a few years get on and a few more strands of DNA get activated her girlish charm will go away.

John Bolton thinks the UN is a den of sex and corruption

I've been chewing on this quote for a couple of days trying to figure out exactly what he meant by that. My first question is why exactly he thinks people at the UN having sex is a bad thing. Does little mister Bolton feel scaaaared by all of the big boy and girl stuff goin' on in the naughty ole' UN?

It's the assumption underlying it that "sex" is something so terrible that you have to protect yourself from falling into dens of iniquities where something like that is likely to happen. Someone should con him into going to Amsterdam, get him drunk, then leave him in the Red Light district with a wallet full of Euros and see what happens.

Or maybe Mr. Blond Handlebar Mustache is trying to tell us something. Maybe some kind UN official should find a suitable homosexual prostitution friendly area and repeat the exercise.

If he wasn't so fucking southern Baptisty oriented I'd be tempted to quote from Monty Python's "Meaning of Life", at the beginning, when this very Anglican couple is discussing sex and the guy is going off on the difference between Catholics and Protestants, saying that as a Protestant I can go down to the chemist and get Condoms, get Contraception, and sex doesn't have to be solely for procreation, whereupon the wife says, "But we've only had sex twice", for their two kids.

But, no, that isn't the style of the Southern Baptists.

Reminds me of a recent quip by Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon, where some anti-abortion guy was protesting a women's gardening sale, and Marcotte said "When I went to the community garden sale this weekend, there was a guy there waving bloody fetus pictures. I’m not sure what his point was, but I suspect he was offended at the offense to the lord that is women gardening. Women aren’t for sowing seeds, you see. We’re for getting plowed."

That phrase alone would freak out little Mr. Bolton. But, I think in general it's the truth in how the right views women. Fuckin' Cookin' Children Raisen' Cleanin' Shoppin' and sittin' nice in Church on Sundays.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

From Superpower to Tinhorn Dictatorship? Twilight of the Hegemony By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

Nice article in the same vein.

"The congressional elections this coming November is the last chance for for Americans to reaffirm the separation of powers that is the basis of their civil liberties. Unless the voters correct their mistake of putting both the executive and legislative branches in the hands of the same party and deliver the House or the Senate to the Democrats, there is nothing on the domestic scene to stand in the way of more power, and less accountability, being accumulated in the executive.
....

The entire world now recognizes that America has lost its economic power and is dependent on the rest of the world to finance its budget and trade deficits. The US no longer holds the cards. American real incomes are falling, except for the rich. Jobs for university graduates are scarce, and advanced technology products must be imported from China. The US is a rapidly declining power and may soon end up as nothing but a tinhorn dictatorship."

I don't totally agree with the first paragraph. I think that the mid term elections will likely have little if any effect on the Bush administration, but that the soft dictatorship is a little more far off than Roberts envisions. The system will probably limp along for a while, with the democrats and dissident republicans acting as a subtle, if outnumbered and out gunned, check on outrages, but will probably then collapse into the soft dictatorship that Roberts talks about.

I see the process as being a few years, but really, really, I want to get away from this "chicken with its head cut off" tendency of people to assume that Fascism is just around the corner and that if we just participate in this next election and get the good guys in that everything will be ok. I don't think that's how the world works, and besides, by living too much in the moment we neglect the broader structural factors which influence the political climate. In relation to Kerry, and trying really hard to stop the danger just around the corner: We tried that, and the dems have been lying dead in the water, of their own accord, since. I don't have time for splitting the hairs about which will be less oppressive, a Bush presidency or a Bush lite democrat presidency, I think that the extended tolerance and benefit of the doubt which accompanied Kerry is right now bullshit of the first order, even though it might have done something back then.

The only electoral option that I see right now is the revival of a real radical candidacy, not more democratic party compromises.

And radical solutions will be the only solutions, into the forseeable future, irregardless of whether the Democrats act on them or if they continue to lie down and the Bush administration goes into "soft dictatorship" mode. Either way radicalism is the way forward. I mean, quite honestly, if this country turned into a real dictatorship tomorrow what would you suggest? A Clintonite program of neo-liberal centrism? No way, sliding into dictatorship will probably illustrate the futility of non-radical, reformist, strategies better than any thing else could.

Which of course is not to excuse people

but rather to say that there certainly were more factors in the rise of fascism and the horrors of Germany than good people simply doing nothing. This is a simplistic analysis which doesn't take into account the entire degeneration of the political and social system, modified by the Great Depression, which happened in the interwar years. And....Communists marched and battled in the streets with Nazis on a regular basis, there was huge opposition to the Nazis and the Nazi movement before they took power and even after, until the formation of the Gestapo lead to the literal destruction of the opposition. But events spiralled out of control, which made the Nazi seizure of power possible.

Fred Branfman: 'On being 'good Americans' in a time of torture'

Good article, but I disagree with one thing, where he talks about splitting with his girlfriend, who was German, over her saying that her father, who had been a soldier, wasn't responsable for the Holocaust.

If there's anything that the mass psychosis which has gripped this country since 9/11 should teach people it's how complicated these issues are in reality. Good Germans? What hubris! What insane, arrogant, hubris! That's easy to say when you haven't seen your country degenerate into fascism, when you were safe across the Atlantic ocean from any real threat.

Maybe now we can appreciate some of the moral ambiguities in the position of people in Europe during those years.

And, yes, people in the rest of the world, right now, are looking on all Americans as condoning torture, condoning the war, and condoning Bush, and blaming us all en masse for what's been done.