Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Alberto Gonzales--doing Fascism the Latin American way

The story on the title link is about a group of Connecticut librarians who fought against a National Security Letter telling them that they had to give a patron's info to the government, without any warrant, without any suspicion of wrong doing, just as an inquiry. That's what a National Security Letter is, a sort of magic bullet where the possesor can evade the court system and get basically any record of yours, tap any phone line, monitor any computer activity, that you do without showing probable cause. And there's no appeal. It's National Security, after all, NS, and we all know that NS doctrine now triumphs over all. In fact, the triumph of NS doctrine is a Triumph of the WIll of the politicians making up the government, leading one to wonder weather NS stands for National Security or National Socialism.

The gist of the article and how it relates to Gonzales is that he personally fought tooth and nail against these librarians even making their names known in the suit. Never mind just fighting tooth and nail against the suit itself, the Attorney General's office wouldn't even allow these people's names to get out, citing "National Security" reasons. He insisted that there's never been a civil rights violation committed in relation to the Patriot Act, and even said that he consulted with the ACLU and the American Library Association about the redraft of it before reauthorization, to make it better, which is odd because in the aarticle the ACLU itself is suing the Justice Department---it's the ACLU that's taking up the Connecticut librarians' case and they don't seem to be satisfied at all with Gonzales' reworking of the Patriot Act. And Gonzales is in fact named as one of the defendents in the suit, so he is directly responding to the suit in these quotes as well as arguing in general for Patriot Act reauthorization.

Here's what Gonzales says about the ACLU: ""My testimony [about Patriot Act reauthorization] was informed not only by the successes of the act but also by my personal meetings with representatives from groups such as the ACLU and the American Library Association," wrote Gonzales in his Washington Post piece. "During the reauthorization discussion, I asked that certain provisions be clarified to ensure the protection of civil liberties, and Congress responded."


Here's what the ACLU says about the case.

"Our clients were gagged by the government at a time when Congress needed to hear their voices the most," said Ann Beeson, ACLU's lead attorney in the case. "This administration has repeatedly shown that it will hide behind the cloak of national security to silence its critics and cover up embarrassing facts. Every time the government invokes national security in defense of secrecy -- as they've done most recently with NSA wiretapping -- the American public should remember these four librarians."

Notice any difference?

That must have been some consultation that went on between Gonzales and the ACLU.

This is just more evidence that Gonzales is a comprador, on the side of the padrone, a collaborator. His brown skin and heritage don't make a difference in this.

In fact, if we're looking for extremist right wing doctrinaires who champion the all mighty power of the executive then Latin America has more than enough examples to go around. Hell, even Mexico has its share of semi-legal dictators. If you buy into this sort of legal theory and attitude, in effect changing your allegience in terms of Latin American society, you can have a good job with the U.S. ruling class while still appearing to be linked to the people. Where exactly would Gonzales be if he were in the administration of an authoritarian government in Latin America?

My guess is that he'd be where he is right now.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

You know what's good? I'll tell you what's good.

What's good in terms of music these days, although it's old, is "Ciccone Youth", a side project of Sonic Youth that's more dance oriented, and "Coil",not "Icons of Coil", not "Lacuna Coil, not "This Mortal Coil", just plain Coil. Coil is a venerable, crazy, extremely good experimental band from England, one of whose duo, Jhonn Balance, unfortunately died in 2004. Ciccone Youth and Coil sound similar...

Monday, May 29, 2006

More on Signing Statements and evasion of presidential limitations

This whole business about having signing statements which are intended to circumvent limitations on Presidential power is interesting. If this were another country what Congress would do would be to cultivate ties to sympathetic members of the military command and then execute an operation where they took over the White House, imprisoned the Bush regime, and directly took over the executive branch.

But, hey, this America.

So....in lieu of that, here's some critique of Bush's boy Addington, who's the one who has vetted the bills.

" Addington is a strong adherent of the so-called unitary executive theory, which is cited frequently and prominently in many of Bush's legislative signing statements. The theory holds that the president is solely in charge of the executive branch and that Congress, therefore, can't tell him how to carry out his executive functions, whom to pick for what jobs, or through whom he must report to Congress. Executive power, separation of power, a tight chain of command, and protecting the unitary executive--those became the guide stars of Addington's legal universe."

Of course, if Congress overthrows the executive branch with the help of sympathetic military commanders this won't be quite an issue.

But I'm just thinking out loud here.

I mean, that would violate the whole "separation of powers" thing, which we all know is so extremely important.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

What fucks these things up..

are people like Tim Leary going out and becoming the evangelist of this drug or that drug, saying, in Leary's case, that LSD could save the world etc... that's almost a perfect recipe for disaster, both personal and otherwise. Personal, because it causes people who can't use the drug responsably to use it and have extremely negative experiences, which, in the case of LSD, can be crippling for the rest of your life, and, as a consequence, it causes extreme scrutiny of the drug by the authorities and legislation against it, which criminalizes people who can and do use it quietly and responsably as well as those who wouldn't.

I don't want to detract from the post below, which is mostly about heroin related deaths with a coda about these things, but Leary, that's a topic unto itself. Although his first book may have been OK, "The Psychedelic Experience", Leary as a whole was, in the words of Richard Alpert, a.k.a. Ram Dass, and I'm paraphrasing "a guy who was stuck between two levels, who didn't realize that there was somewhere to go after you turned on and so kept turning on and on", other people have said that Leary became an extreme opportunist who used his notoreity for self promotion's sake, produced mediocre books, informed on his friends, and generally was "stuck between two worlds". Didn't truly get the psychedelic experience, hadn't truly passed "the acid test", even though he was its biggest evangelist, and was, in my opinion, like a guy who has had a really bad trip and hasn't recovered...but who wants to get to that thing which the bad trip denied him really really bad. Some people will know what I'm talking about. There are quite a few "almosts", acid casualties unfortunately, which is a bad fate, who have come so close but their minds didn't get it for whatever reason, and so their minds are continually hungering after it, the full experience. This leads to abnormal behavior and is unfortunately accompanied by mental instability. This is what I think happened to Leary. He became one of them. His early experiments with acid were fascinating, but somewhere along the way something went wrong for him, and he never recovered.

Leading to absurdities like speaking at the Nova convention, mp3s of which are available online, and largely playing off Burroughs and vamping his and other people's ideas while presenting a not too thought out or too original synthesis of his own.

Great post: Maia Szalavitz: "Media Myths about Drugs"

Szalavitz is pronounced "Schalavitch", by the way, for people who are suprisingly confused by Polish two letter combinations.

Her article is really good, it deals with the recent deaths in Michigan of people who shot up a combination of heroin and dimethyl-fentanyl,
arguing that the way it's being spun, that the fentanyl was somehow obtained from legal prescription sources, is totally false, and that the meme of prescription drug use leading to harder drugs is not accurate.

This is even more relevant in relation to these further events, where three more people have died, leading to a death toll of 44 people from this mix.

Fentanyl is something that warrants further exploration, because, like she suggests, it's not likely that people are reducing it from prescription sources; the attraction of fentanyl is that a small amount of it can give the same experience as heroin. In fact, my understanding was that legal fentanyl was used more as an anesthetic than a general "pain killer" because of the character of it. Therefore, considering the small amount, it's possible to make a lot of money from a little fentanyl, which is the attraction in fentanyl synthesis, which is a complex process that probably involves professional chemists in it, i.e. people making it who are already employed in labs. It's also lethal if it's not cut right.

It was the first of the so-called "designer drugs", and it illustrates the problem with some of them.

Most "designer drugs" which are truly that have been hallucinogen analogues, either tryptamine based or phenethylamine based, which have escaped notice from the police because they're really rare, not existing in nature. Phenethylamines are analogues of mescaline, tryptamines are analogues of psilocybin. The problem is that many of these analogues are really, really, powerful, and so in using them to skirt the law, which is sort of hard since 2004, by the way, people without good knowledge of these things, of how to responsably use drugs, who don't have any way of knowing what dose they're getting reliably, what its effects will be, what strength it is, can seriously be fucked up by them.

Analogues were available as "Research Chemicals" online for a while, until the use of some of them lead to some deaths, which caused the whole thing to collapse under FBI pressure and investigation.

The moral of the story with the designer hallucinogen analogues is different from that of fentanyl, or dimethyl-fentanyl, as that's its full name. It's one of those things where some experienced psychonauts can responsably use them, but where they should not be released to the general public. But that itself presents problems; maybe make research chemicals difficult to get but don't penalize the hardcore heads that use them provided they don't distribute the substances to people who can't use it right.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Just a heads up, Washingtonians

Which is to say that come June 7th, online gambling will become a felony in the state of Washington.

I don't engage in this activity (I'd probably joke about it if I did), but for those that do, be aware that come June 7th your goose is cooked and anyone who catches you using the internet in this way will be able to put you in jail for a felony.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Abortion and kittens

From a memorable discussion by my philosophy professor of some years ago, since philosophy is in the news with relationship to abortion...at least in the blogosphere.

Say someone came up with a process to turn kittens into beings as smart and as humans. You'd just have to give a kitten a shot and then they'd devleop like a little human being, with the same rational capacities as humans etc... turning into mature, human rational cats.

Now if this were possible, would you have an obligation to give the shot to all kittens, because presumably creating sentient beings, especially sentient beings who otherwise wouldn't be rational etc.. at the same level of humans, is a good thing.

Would you have to populate the world with human intelligence cats, or, what's more to the point, would it be a crime not to give human consciousness to every kitten, although the potential existed for each of them to turn into rational human brained beings.

The idea is that although the potential is a moral good the full realization of that potential exceeds what people are at base morally obligated to do, and so making all cats human level intelligence, while it might sound nice, would not be something which people would be morally obligated to do. Conversely, deciding not to endow a kitten with human intelligence would not be morally reprehensible, even though that would deprive the world of 'a good' because the good in the first place was above and beyond normal moral requirements and so would be optional.

There's a deeper problem too, and this my own take, which is that you're assuming that all potential goods which can be brought into the world should be brought into the world and that if every possibility for a good thing to come into being is not actualized that the world is somehow unjust and immoral. That's different from having justice as being the prevention of bads, and is manifestly untrue except if you believe that we're doing grave injustices by not pursuing every little tiny opportunity to do good, no matter how trivial. For big things, yeah, but everything means everything. The fact that I'm at my computer right now is a manifest injustice in this way because I'm not out committing a good that I could be committing. Do I have the right to sit at my computer and type?

You might say, in the abstract, "No, not unless you actually do something in the outside world", but lets say that I already am, that I'm a responsable citizen who takes action on issues which are important to take action on. Sitting at my computer even though I already took those actions would still be morally reprehensable because there would still beg good things out there that I could be doing, from being nice to someone at a 24 hour supermarket, which I'll actually probably do at this hour in a few minutes, to going downtown and helping out people in every chance that I see where they need some sort of intervention, like stumbling out of bars. Homeless people do not factor into this hypothetical.

Where does it end, is the question? Where does this compulsion to absolutely do good stop? This line of reasoning is what the Catholic Church uses to justify opposition to stem cell research, because stem cells are possibly embryo parts and because the possibility exists of them someday being carried to term and becoming a fully functional rational human being, although the reality of stem cell research is somewhat different than this, is enough to require it not to go on, just as it's absolutely imperative that every fertilized embryo be carried to term.

What's more, where does the distinction between gametes and fetuses lie in terms of having to bring them to term? If gametes can be used in research because they're not nearly full human beings, even potential of potential, then why can't the same argument be used for young embryos? Embryos aren't viable outside the womb, to say the least, and, under current law, the closer you get to actual term the harder it is to get an abortion, with the infamous late term abortions being extremely rare. Abortions happen within the first trimester, which is far before the time of viability, so you are talking about something which has the potential to be a potential human, not even a direct potential human. Is it morally required to take a potential of a potential to term, because in realizing the potential of the potential you are therefore creating a human being, which is a good? Or at this stage is the moral good an optional one, one which is over and above the basic moral requirements for good, responsable, human beings? I think the latter, and if the latter is true than abortions are permissable.




Now it's time to go to the 24 market and do good for people while procuring food for myself, in a limited, non-obsessive way... so I'm signing off for now.

Cool music...the sounds of the night

Just kidding about the sounds of the night; "Ah, the children of the night, what music they make" name that quote.

But seriously, to get some insight into the ideological and psychological background to recent, well, recent trends in how I'm fucking cool, let me tell you what I think the best albums of two great bands are:

Ween---"The Pod"

The Flaming Lips---"In a Priest Driven Ambulance", reissued as a two CD set "The day they shot a hole in the Jesus egg".

The Day They shot a hole in the Jesus Egg

The Pod

Also looking interesting Finally the Punk Rockers are taking Acid, the Flaming Lips from '83-88

Ween's "The Pod" includes what might be the most honest love song committed to vinyl: She Fucks Me. All about what, essentially, all those guy authored love songs are really about, or what they don't say...a good parody.

Lyrics:

"I met her at the Living Earth Show.
She crossed the room, the lights sank low.
We're together, she really digs me.

She fucks me.

Who would think I could be so happy?
When I'm cold, I know she's keepin' me warm.
We're together, she really digs me.

She fucks me.

She's in my arms, she's in my heart , yeah.
Pins and needles up and down my spine.
We're together, she really digs me now.

She fucks me."

Yep. Reminds me of the quote by, what the fuck is the guy's name, the music writer on Counterpunch, who commented about one Gospel group that they were the only one he toured with that wasn't constantly talking about sex in their spare time.

L-o-o-o-v-e songs.

Nothing wrong with Love songs, but, there is that whole carnal part to it, which they conveniently gloss over.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

On a lighter note: "Southland" by the director of "Donnie Darko"

Has gotten a good review by the Voice, (title link) although the audience at Cannes walked out and booed it. It's about an alternate future where Texas was nuked and general anarchy reigns. I haven't actually seen the movie about the schizophrenic kid and the imaginery rabbit, but I hear the kids are all wild about it.

Anyways, I hope that this gets released here. Sounds intrigueing.

Plus, Sarah Michelle Gellar stars as a socially conscious porn queen named Krysta Now.

Actually, that's enough to get me to see the movie, the combination "Sarah Michelle Gellar" and "Porn Queen".

But it looks like a good movie all around :)

Huh, interesting facts about Martin Niemöller

From Wikipedia.

Niemöller is best remembered for his "First they came for...." poem, which liberals and progressives love to cite, usually the middle aged progressives who think that simply intoning nice thoughts accomplishes something, but it turns out that there's more...

Here's from Wikipedia:

"In September 1939, ten months after Kristallnacht, Niemöller volunteered, "to fight for Adolph Hitler’s Germany".

This offer to serve the Nazis was made by a man whose famous words, uttered after the defeat of Germany, so appeal to us. This offer to serve the Nazis "in any capacity" was made by a man who, when "they came for the Jews", failed to speak out because he was a common variety of anti-Semite. This offer to serve Hitler "in any capacity" was made by the man who, "after they came for me", spoke out for himself by offering to bear arms for them, for those who, had they won the war, would have searched the earth to kill every Jewish man, woman, and child. What darker example of the power of nationalism is there than Niemoller, a Christian minister, ready in the name of Germany to drink from the cup of genocide?[10]"

and

" [in 1933] ... he opposed the introduction of the "Aryan paragraph" in the Protestant church on doctrinal grounds, but takes care, nevertheless, to opine that Jews had done great harm to Germany; he also indicates that the baptized Christians of Jewish origins are personally distasteful to him. [7] As late as 1935, Niemöller goes out of his way to preach hatred against the Jews: "What is the reason for [their] obvious punishment, which has lasted for thousands of years? Dear brethren, the reason is easily given: the Jews brought the Christ of God to the cross!" [8] The author, Professor Werner Cohn, states: "I lived as a Jew under the Nazis in the very years that he [Martin Niemöller] told his Dahlem congregation that we Jews were race aliens, and also that we deserved what we got, having murdered Christ. I lived not too far from his church, and his name was mentioned in my home.”[9]

And this,

"When it came to the Jews, Niemöller continued to express his antisemitic views. According to Holocaust scholar Robert Michael, beliefs such as those held by Niemöller made even Nazi victims into Holocaust collaborators: "Martin Niemoeller in his radically antisemitic August 1935 sermon noted that the Jews would not be released from their suffering until they converted, Jewish suffering being "proof" that Jesus was God. The essential reason the Jews were cursed was because they "brought the Christ of God to the Cross ... These kinds of statements are a result of traditional antisemitism, and beliefs such as these corrupted average people as well as the elite and made them all not just victims of Nazis but active or passive collaborators in the Holocaust." [2] According to Dr. Michael, Martin Niemoeller agreed with the Nazi's position on the Jewish question. "Both Nazis and their Protestant opponents were antisemitic." "This kind of evil harmony between Nazis and anti-Nazis would be fatal for the Jews."[3]

"Niemoller had exposed himself as an opportunist who had no quarrel with Hitler politically and only begun to oppose the Nazis when Hitler threatened to attack the churches." "Further evidence of his moral duplicity was found in his statement that anti-Semitism had come to an end in Germany and would not recur." Lammersdorf, Raimund. The Question of Guilt, 1945-47: German and American Answers, Conference at the German Historical Institute, Washington, D.C., March 25-27, 1999. [4]"

Let this be a warning to those who would blindly quote nice sounding poems and slogans.

Also, this is a good wakeup call to the politically active punk community in that one of the external links given in Wikipedia, to a punk site, declares that "On the other hand, I think that something is missed if one doesn’t understand that the words come from a man who also declared that he “would rather burn his church to the ground, than to preach the Nazi trinity of ‘race, blood, and soil.’” "From 1933 to 1937, Niemoller consistantly trashed everything the Nazis stood for. At one point he declared that it was impossible to “point to the German [Luther] without pointing to the Jew [Christ] to which he pointed to.” [from Charles Colson, Kingdoms in Conflict]"

This is patently false and has been proved so by scholars, while the author of this piece doesn't seem to realize that Charles Colson is the same guy who participated in, and was prosecuted, for Watergate.

That's the Punk can-do mentality for you: lot's of nice little slogans, no depth of analysis, even if what actually has occurred is radically different from what they'd like to believe.

But then, since I don't participate in Punk culture, I'm probably a sell out anyways whose opinion doesn't matter.

Oh, that link was Who was Martin Niemöller?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

BattleCry, Oh my fucking god.

Go to the link above about this BattleCry concert in Philadelphia, where, wow.....(must think coherent thoughts).

Or go to Pandagon since she has a good summary of the whole thing.

THe BattleCry concert/rally of fundamentalist pro-Bush Christian Youth, explicitly pro-Bush, explicitly hardcore Christian, militant about wanting to take their faith and impose it everywhere.

My job is to find historical parallels to illuminate things....let's see here.

There was one movement, the Iron Guard in Romania, which claimed both to be both a religious movement and a fascist militia. Also known as the Legion of the Archangel Michael they claimed they were commanded by Michael through God to impose fascism on Romania and that, moreover, they were the REAL Orthodox Church in Romania, and so had its authority. They did eventually assume power. I'll let you tease what happened out yourself, suffice it to say that it involved people starved to death in cattle cars in an attempt to cleanse Romania of foreign Satanic influences (and yes, they did call what they were opposed to satanic).

Memo to Anne Coulter:

When, in the course of decrying "Hollywood" for saying that the country is a cauldron of ethnic hatred you then call for just such violence, implying that it would be a good thing, you sort of invalidate your own argument...Here's the quote:

"Patriotic Americans don't have to become dangerous psychotics like liberals, but they could at least act like men.

Why hasn't the former spokesman for the Taliban matriculating at Yale been beaten even more senseless than he already is? According to Hollywood, this nation is a cauldron of ethnic hatreds positively brimming with violent skinheads. Where are the skinheads when you need them? What does a girl have to do to get an angry, club- and torch-wielding mob on its feet?"

This is contained in an article which is basically advocating Republicans taking revenge against liberals. I'm not exagerating.

"Baseball has a system to protect batters from being hit: If your pitcher hits one of our guys, our pitcher will hit one of your guys. This is also the only argument that ever works with Democrats."

There was a famous shirt produced by some Ohio Neo-Nazis a while ago that was reminiscent of Coulter's philosophy with regards to the Democrats. It had a picture of a hand holding a gun and a Swastika and had the subtitle: "Violence, it's the only thing they understand".
So in this regard Anne is herself an example of what she's looking for: if she wants to find a skinhead, at least in spirit, she should look in the mirror.

Monday, May 22, 2006

"US wants missle base to defend Europe", I wonder what Europe thinks about it?

The article says that there might be anti-missle bases in Poland and the Czech Republic in the future.....but both Poland and the Czech Republic are part of the European Union. Doesn't the EU have their own defensive plan and their own defense force, and isn't this an insult to the sovereignty of Europe in general, as well as a possible bid for the U.S. to hold Europe hostage?

The U.S. wants to "protect" Europe. I think the kind of protection that they want for Europe is the kind that the Mafia gives to store owners.

Europe should not and probably will not stand for it, and we should support them in this.

Can you picture it? Europe detests Bush, yet Bush wants to offer the olive branch of 'protection' for Europe in the form of missle bases, and posssible army bases, in 'friendly countries' in Eastern Europe. It seems more like a hostage situation. The U.S. should not only not put bases in Poland and the Czech Republic, but they should get the hell out of Europe as a whole, closing their bases in Germany and elsewhere and leaving for good.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Coast Guard is Tipping off ships to searches, New York Times

Like they haven't been doing that already.

Not to put too fine a point on it but how do you think all that heroin gets here from Asia? It isn't being shipped in human mules or in any other exotic ways; it arrives by boat.

It's big business, drug trafficking, and, in my personal opinion (I'm not asserting this as fact this is just my personal musings) the big shipping companies are in on it and the Coast Guard is regularly bribed to let them do it.

But it's interesting that, once the "War on Terror" heats up, the shipping companies themselves start complaining about the costliness of having random searches, which the article reports can "cost up to $40,000 an hour", by the shipping companies own reckoning, and they get relief from the government in the form of acknowledged tip offs.

Wow.

Some security there, eh Mr. Bush?

Funny too how the anti-immigration meme is creeping into everything; the article describes the coast and the situation as follows: " the practice may undermine an important component of the layered security effort to keep terrorists out of the nation's longest border, its more than 96,000 miles of coastline." Yep, just like that 'ole Mexican border is vulnerable so is our staggering 96,000 miles of coastline to terr-uh. And don't even start about Canada.

The implication is that if people are paying attention to the Mexican border, which is a fraction of the size of our coastlines, then surely they should be going apeshit over the threat posed by three, count them, three coasts (you're forgetting the Gulf Coast), to our security.

Or we could say that neither the Mexican border nor the coastline is any more in jeopardy of terrorist infiltration than it was prior to 9/11....but that would put us on a discussion of sane ways to maintain real basic security on the boders, not insane responses posing as sane ways to maintain real security, which is a discussion that's pretty much forbidden in America today, at least in the Main Stream Media.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Disclaimer Notes on the death of the American artist By Guillermo Gómez-Peña

Really good article, from "In these times".

"I developed a reputation as an iconoclast by engaging in symbolic acts of transgression that explored and exposed sources of racism and nationalism. Coco Fusco and I exhibited ourselves inside a gilded cage, dressed as fictitious “Indians,” to protest the quincentennial celebrations of Columbus’ arrival in the Western hemisphere (Two Undiscovered Amerindians Visit …, 1992–93). Roberto Sifuentes and I crucified ourselves in full mariachi regalia to protest immigration policy (The Cruci-fiction Project, 1994). I became good at organizing ephemeral communities of like-minded rebel artists. I advised activists on how to use performance art strategies to enhance their political actions. I used the art world as a base of operations."

"Since 9/11, however, my collaborators and I are facing an entirely new dilemma: prohibition—both overtly imposed and internalized. My agent, Nola Mariano, recently told me in a letter:
Besides the ideological censorship exercised by the Bush administration, I believe that we have entered a new era of psychological censorship, one that is sustainable as we, our collaborators, and allies find ourselves second-guessing our audience responses, fearing for our jobs, and unsure of our boards’ support. Unable to quickly identify the opposition, we find ourselves shadowboxing with our conscience and censoring ourselves. This is a victory for a repressive political administration. One not won but rather handed to them.

The imposed culture of panic, prohibition and high security permeating every corner of society—including our arts organizations—has created an incendiary environment for the production of critical culture. We are being offered budgets that are half what we used to work with in the pre-Bush era. As a result, we can only present small-scale projects in the United States, and under technically primitive conditions. These new conditions are similar to those we face in Latin America, but without the community spirit and the humane environment we find there—without people’s willingness to be always present and donate their time and skills."

Go read the whole thing.

Friday, May 19, 2006

More on Polanski

After reading several posts responding to Polanski, and also posts looking at things like the Duke rape case and some idiot's review of Lolita, it occurs to me that the thing to point out is that the post below and the discussion online is about whether or not it's ok for people to collaborate with Polanski, or to view his work, or for the Academy to give him an award, or to regard his work of art as valuable or not. I think there's a calculus for this, this being specifically the artistic value and people's response to it, but in saying that there's a calculus for finding out the value of the work of art that's not condoning the acts which you set against them or discounting the ramifications of them. It's about the art, which is considered in this case not to be autonomous from the other aspects of a person's life; the question is just how non-autonomous is it. If it's really not that autonomous then the calculation about how valuable a work of art is in light of a person's personal actions will be pretty severe, if it's less autonomous than the judgemnts will tend to be less severe. But neither of the degrees of severity really talks about the crime itself, unless you adopt the most strict level of judgement which says that if a person committed a crime then everything that they've produced should be judged by that crime.

Some crimes are worse than others, but saying that despite a crime the person's art still has value is a function more of the art than of the severity of the crime, so that taking all things into account and saying that, despite a person's crime, that their art still has value, is not to discount the crime but to affirm the value of the art.

Does this mean that artists should get away with crimes because they're artists or that people who are skilled should be able to live by standards outside of the legal system, basically being able to be a law upon themselves because they're elites? No. People should be punished for their crimes and being a great artists doesn't entitle you to do whatever you want to whoever you want.

The scenario outlined would be like this: do you really want to be known as the person whose art was great despite all the horrible things you've done or do you simply want to be known as a great artist? To be universally reviled in your lifetime for crime upon crime that you've committed only to be grudgingly partially forgiven a few centuries later isn't exactly coddling, it's pretty cold comfort.

So, if we're going with the general utilitarian framework of this argument, there really isn't any incentive, if we allow that art can still have value despite the actions of the artist, for people to do whatever they want since nothing is really forgiven but what value is found is in spite of the actions.

I mean, people have said before that elites should be able to do whatever they want to whoever they want without any consequences because they're the elite, but that's really far from what I'm arguing here.

It's because art exists that the distinction can even be made between an individual's product and his crimes, and in evaluating that the question is really subsidiary to moral judgement and not a replacement for it because it's not really a moral judgement which is being made as much as it's another sort of judgement which morality informs.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Lindsay Beyerstein: Fascism isn't just a buzzword

The piece gives a good ten point analysis of fascism and the similarities of it to the current Bush administration, or, more accurately, tendencies within the current Bush administration which might metastasize into real outright fascism. This is great, as far as it goes, but I have a general problem with the use of "Corporate State", by people all over the left, in that they really don't understand how exactly the left version of the phrase and the phrase as used by the Fascists themselves came about.

One of the core values of fascism, ironically less so with outright Nazism, is being opposed to capitalism. The reasons why they oppose capitalism are much different than why leftists do: they either believe that jews are behind all capitalism and are trying to destroy the country, or that capitalism is bad because it destroys cultural traditions. The reasons are often vague and they don't extend to a full scale condemnation of capitalism as it really exists, just particular features of capitalism that they might find offensive for conservative reasons. In practice, overthrowing 'capitalism' and putting in a fascist state, besides being a violent authoritarian dictatorship, means getting rid of certain types of businesses that they find insulting, whether because of ethnic or racial or patriotic reasons, instituting a few socialist style collective sops in terms of benefits, and largely leaving the 'good' or 'patriotic' or ethnically correct businesses, whatever size, intact. In fact, with corporatism in its true form big businesses are preffered to small because big business is perceived to not be fully capitalist but instead to be more collectivist, so if collaboration from big business can be achieved by the fascist government they can use it to promote their social goals.

But although technically correct, the idea that Fascism is the combination of corporate and state power, at least in the way we today understand those terms, is not really what these people were saying. It was the left of the time which pointed out the reality of the situation--that big busines was benefitting from the Fascist state--and so the idea of corporate and state power or big business and state power being joined as a definition of fascism started out as an analysis from the left, it wasn't what the Fascists themselves billed their state as.

In fact, it would be hard to explain the success of fascism in Italy without reference to its anti-capitalist features. The players in pre-Fascist Italy were the Communists, the smaller Socialists, the Liberals, and the Conservatives, with the Liberals, who were pro-free market capitalism having power for an extended period of time in the beginning of the 20th century. Fascism positioned itself as being pro-conservative values, pro-patriotism, pro-WWI, and pro-family, while at the same time being anti-freemarket YET, and this is the really important part, being virulently anti-Communist. So they billed themselves as the pro-Conservative, Patriotic, alternative to freemarket capitalism, and appealed to middle class fears of Communist takeover by assuring them that the middle class wouldn't be crushed in the fascist revolution but instead industrial peace would reign once the fascist economic policies were put into place.

That's one of the major differences between Bush's regime and fascism as it has existed: no anti-capitalism whatsoever, no religious conservatives saying that in response to capitalism, which, I suppose, you could substitute 'liberalism' in today's jargon for, their needs to be an ultra-conservative dictatorship which institutes religious values, including those incompatable with the free-market, or (and), with "liberalism", in order for society to right itself.

Thinking this through, actually, liberalism is being used in much the same way as free market capitalism was used by the fascists. That's disturbing.

Pinochet's Chile is an example of a place that instituted neo-liberalism while staying a fascist dictatorship, although the Peronist dictatorships in Argentina exemplify Fascism in a purer form. So it is possible to combine the two. But Pinochet was decisively anti-liberal and anti-Communist, even though he welcomed in foreign companies to exploit Chile's natural resources, so I guess that could fit in here as being anti-liberal and anti-terrorist.

Which is really scary considering that the purported justification for many of the dictatorships in South America during the late sixties and seventies was the threat of destabilization by leftist groups, which had no capability of achieving their goals even though they had some early spectacular successes, which is a parallel to dictatorship based on the threat of terror and the need to be dictatorial in response to the threat of terror.

I'm going to stop writing because this just scarier with each paragraph.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Blue America

Bush popularity by county: blue against, red for.



Via MyDD.

"Howl" bullshit

Whenever I read a reference to Walt Whitman in a story about the Beats I want to scream. This review of a book of essays on Howl references a commentator who says that the Beats may have contributed to the realization of Whitman's vision 125 years later. There's only one problem with this.

All this Walt Whitman stuff, all this "Americana" stuff in relation to the Beats, was stuff that they picked up and put out after the fact, Ginsberg especially, it wasn't their primary inspiration. For proof Check This Out. It's a book called "The Birth of the Beat Generation" put out by the "Circles Project", which analyzes creative movements based on the idea that a tight knit circle of friends and acquaintances is usually responsable for the start of new artistic movements. Anyways, the salient thing with "The Birth of the Beat Generation" is that they give reading lists for the Beats, individually, person by person, what they were reading at the start of their careers, what they were interested in when they started writing the stuff that would make them famous; and let me tell you, Walt Whitman is not in there.

Instead, there's a heavy emphasis on modernist writers, the very people who in the popular conception the Beats are anathema to. T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound show up a lot, as, more significantly, William Carlos Williams does, suggesting that the Beat project was a democratization and extension of modernist writing, stream of consciousness like William Faulkner, rather than a total denial.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Currently grooving on...

Ash Ra Tempel's release "Schwingungen". Ash Ra Tempel are Krautrock German Psychedelia from the '70s. Good stuff. More structured, less totally experimental than Neu! or Faust or even early Kraftwerk, before they became proto-industrial. Cosmic yet still focussed. Like Can if Can decided just to groove and explore instead of taking a rather formalistic series of sonic explorations.

Yep, was originally introduced to "Das Krautrock" at OM, that is "Other Music", in the Village, on, is it fifth east of Broadway? when I was doing some undergrad work at NYU. I had been to a Kraftwerk show and was interested in their origins....little did I know that they were actually full on psychedelic musical explorers before adopting their more spare machine oriented sound.

Influenced Stereolab...although I like early Stereolab more than the later ambient oriented things. Crazy vintage synths are more up my alley, along with psychedelic distorted guitar.

But this "Musique Cosmique" of Ash Ra Tempel is interesting. Find it if you can.

"You poke it you own it"

Via Pandagon. Is the new Miller Lite "Man Law", applied first to beer bottles but generalized to women.

I've been thinking about a good riposte to that, something which worked in "they shoot you" by the women in response to the "ownership" thing. There's this interesting quote from a female performance artist in the "Industrial Culture Handbook" put out by RE/Search, which I can't find at the moment, where she says that if women were taught not just how to fight back but to kill that that would even things out. Sounds good to me.

Roman Polanski

I throw my two cents into the conversation begun at Majikthise and company. To be brief, I don't think that the question of evaluating a work of art by comparing the artist's life to the art and making a judgement based on the two is an either or thing. I think there are levels of flawed-ness, which figure into the total evaluation of an artist, but I don't think that this is really determinate of the value of the work. The evaluation has to be of both, taking into account that one flaw can be present while much great art can be present at the same time.

Polanski is a very picturesque example of this, but in a way the crime which he committed and his flight from it is so evocative that it colors the whole issue, like if someone were to find that an artist was a cannibal, so I'd rather move the terrain to more neutral ground.

Case in point: Bob Dylan. Dylan is regarded as one of the great song writers of the 20th century, yet if you look at his work in relation to women, how women are presented and talked about in Dylan's songs, you find that something's really not right. Virtually every song about women from the "Highway 61" period on talks either objectifies women and puts women into a scary position of being seduced by men, or is extraordinarily bitter and even hateful towards women, with an album like "Desire" being a possible exception. Examples are songs like "If you got to go, go now, or else you've got to stay all night", which wasn't released on its intended album but was reissued with the first bootleg series, which is pretty self explanatory, "Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat", from Blonde on Blonde, which is a good song but is indicative of Dylan's coming descent into a kind of macho swagger; bluesey, the "Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat" in question is the female genitalia....
"Idiot Wind", a good song but with the sort of strange refrain to a woman that "You're an idiot, babe, you can't even remember how to act".

Women don't get a lot of equality in a lot of Dylan songs, sort of crescendoing in his song "Sweetheart like you", which says "You know a woman like you should be at home, that's where you belong, taking care of somebody nice who don't know how to do you wrong." From his album "Infidels".

Yet there's also a lot of really good stuff in Dylan. And in terms of being some sort of a "broken man", Dylan in many ways fits the bill. Yet he continues to produce really good art, even with this bias throughout his songs.

People still want to collaborate with Dylan, people still do.

With Polanski it's not hard to see parallels in that, yes, in his work there are indications of what he would do later. He directed the movie "Snuff", which recreated the path a regular actress in Germany goes to in becoming a porn actress, with a macabre ending; but, leaving the ending aside, the bulk of the movie is basically about a girl being lured into porn by a guy who claims that he's casting for a Greek tradgedy, and then little by little the pressure is ratcheted up on this girl (a woman, actually, not a 'girl', just a figure of speech there), who eventually commits to doing hardcore sex scenes, but not before she breaks down and cries on the set and goes through other emotional trauma. The whole thing is about conning and convincing, and using emotional abuse. Then, in the last scenes, you see the girl, who has walked off the set, finally come back for a 'special movie', where the people who have been her cast members, director, etc...rape and murder her, with Polanski using censored footage from the film "Last House on the Left", which simulates a guy cutting the stomach out of a woman. The message, as the film itself says, is what the final product of the progressive dehumanization of pornography could lead to, the union of sex and murder on film for sexual enjoyment.

There are similar dark themes which pervade much of Polanski's work, although not as directly as in "Snuff". The question seems to be, in reference to whether it's ok to collaborate with Polanski or to like his movies whether or not his crime and his accompanying problems exhaust the value of his art or whether when you figure all of this in Polanski's work still has value. If it still has value, then working with him should be a morally complex problem but shouldn't be forbidden, with the knowledge that people engaging in it are engaging in a morally questionable enterprise.

I think that in Polanski's case the artistic talent is not exhausted by revelations about his personal life, preoccupations, and crime; someone with less talent and the same preoccupations, sure, lets throw his work in the wastebasket, but not Polanski's. It's not like he directed some worthless beach movies.

Bobby Beausoleil is another artist that falls into the morally complex category. I happen to love the "Lucifer Rising" soundtrack, for the Kenneth Anger film of the same name, which is itself a masterpiece. The Lucifer Rising soundtrack was composed and recorded in prison by Bobby Beausoleil and the Freedom Orchestra. Why was Bobby Beausoleil in prison? Because he murdered Gary Hinman as the first of the Manson murders.

He's since apologized profusely for the murder, has reflected on his fate, but it's not clear when he was working on the Lucifer Rising soundtrack if this was or was not the case.

Beausoleil's creative abilities are not exhausted once you subtract the crime either.

"He was complete and total slime": Mary Cheney

Wherein in a new interview she slams Kerry again for calling her a lesbian. But the charge of slime could easily be applied to both her and her father because the implication is that Kerry was a bad person for pointing out to regular people what was obvious to the Washington elite: that one of Dick Cheney's daughters was gay and he really had no problem with it. One rule for the masses, another one for the elite, is what this implies. Never let people at the bottom know that Dick Cheney really doesn't see things their way and that what's going on with him is a pose, but instead let them believe what they want while the people on top live lives that are much different from theirs.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain; just go about your merry way in Oz...

I suspect that a disconnect of this sort is the thing that allows Bush to constantly bullshit the people of America regarding his intent and his real motives. Kerry simply raised the curtain a little bit around the hypocrisy which surrounds the conservative leadership of this country.

So he has to be a slime ball.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Vaterland, oh, Vaterland

It seems that tomorrow Bush will be giving a speech which will announce that the National Guard will start patrolling the Mexico-U.S. border.

Can't think of anything more to say; the post sort of says it itself.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

When will the quantitative difference turn into a qualitative difference?

A concept from Hegel.

The link above is to a "This modern world" post which shows the approval ratings of Bush and Nixon at comparable times during their second terms along with public distate for both figures at comparable times in their terms.

The question is really what is the critical mass for people to really demand, and get, change in the United States. My thought is that in this time and era, as opposed to Nixon's there probably has to be more discontent before that translates out into forcing the government to change, the reason being the saturation of society by the mass media.

But I guess I view it almost like a law of nature: when a certain point is reached the government has to give in or to face consequences much worse than giving in, and not by crazy individuals but by the populace at large. The analogy is like heating water. You heat it, heat it, eventually it gets hot, eventually, it starts to boil, and then its state converts to steam. The heat, which is a quantitative thing, applied over time and in increasing amounts, creates a qualitative change in the water: it changes its state from being a liquid to a gas.

Something similar will happen to American society once enough people get fed up with the Bush regime and the post 9/11 American order.

Once the government faces a serious "legitimation crisis" things tend to change dramatically.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Constructive Critique of post on the Box Turtle Fallacy and Gay Marriage

Via Majikthise

"A philosopher debunks the box turtle fallacy

Good for Steve Gimbel clearly and carefully explaining why gay marriage won't lead to human-turtle unions.

Steve emphasizes that the gay marriage debate concerns marriage as a legal construct, not as a social or religious institution. On a legal level, marriage is a recognition that people pair up to form households. Marriage is a legal combination plate that subsumes a whole bunch of rights, privileges, and obligations under a single "I do." Instead of signing a joint property contract, and a durable power of attorney contract, an inheritence without will or probate contract, etc., etc., we have a package deal called "marriage."
"

Although I respect the process, I don't believe that in effect what the people who oppose Gay Marriage are opposing really has much to do with the specific institution of marriage as defined here. What they mean is gay marriage as a legal recognition of homosexuality. When they say that gay marriage will lead to attempts for people to marry box turtles what they're really saying is that by recognizing homosexuality as 'legitimate' by insitutionalizing it in marriage we're engaging a slippery moral slope which may make things like bestiality socially acceptable, or force bestiality to become socially acceptable to people who don't want it to be. This is really the old homophobia dressed up in 'marriage' terms, and the confusion is really of gayness as being an outre lifestyle choice, engaged in by thrill seekers and hedonists with no natural inclination to it, as opposed to gayness as a natural state for a significant amount of people, who really have no choice in the matter.

I think therefore that the question devolves back to whether homosexuality is decadent and leads to social decay or whether its a healthy expression of natural inclination; since people don't choose homosexuality and many people unsuccesfully struggle against being homosexual, and furthermore many homosexual people don't engage in the lavish, media driven, idea of a 'gay lifestyle', I'd say provisionally that it's the second choice. If it is that means that gay marriage is simply a recognition of the will of two people to engage in a committed relationship together, same as with straight couples. The symbolic aspect of marriage is important as well to gay people; marriage in our society has resonances that civil union or a strictly legalistic definition of marriage just don't have, and that's important for people as well.

And for the religious aspect, well, some sects of Christianity recognize gay marriage as valid marriage in the eyes of God. Some particular churches are better at this than others. Similarly, some particular temples in Judaism are willing to recognize gay marriage as valid religiously.

But back to the lifestyle thing.

Socially, it's become pretty well known that since gays becoming more out and open in our culture and in our regular lives that there hasn't been a Sodom and Gomorrah like decline; that's pretty much obvious. To make the Sodom and Gomorrah argument tenable conservatives are hoping to hitch the idea of marriage to it, no pun intended, in order to try to put forward a bad argument, one that's been proven to be bad, as having some value.

***
The gay lifestyle....add a history of oppression, being fought against, secrecy and alternative-ness to a climate of sexual liberation and gender rights and you get some pretty interesting stuff. But although intrepid individuals might be exploring those options today the sociological base for the 'gay lifestyle' business seems to have waned as the greater culture of sexual and personal tolerance has waned. There's been such a backlash against picturesque gay lifestyle things that the meaning of them has been lost. Dressing up in leather and participating in a gay pride parade is an example of showing your freedom to the rest of the world and saying that you're not afraid of them.

And, in relation to other stereotypes, wouldn't anyone want to be a charming, urbane, sophisticated, person on some level or another? This aspect of the 'gay lifestyle' people have to self consciously work on in order to pull off; whether this represents an idealization of life that comes out of the fact that early out homosexuals tended to be wealthy urbanites or people just like it is another question. Possibly both with the proviso that, when most 'guy culture', doesn't really care for sophistication, being an effeminate sophisticate is a way to rebel and reject that culture.

This is not a bad things by any means.

Book collections make strange bedfellows....

Just noticed on a surface in my apartment that "Highlights of a Fighting History: 60 Years of the Communist Party USA" is stacked on top of a complete, 600 page, copy of the "Rig Veda".

The CP-USA history is from a while ago while the Rig Veda I picked up in Humboldt County. But I recently moved the CP-USA book from where I had it stored because I didn't want anything to happen to it, so it's among contemporary reading material. I also have a copy of James Cannon's "History of American Trotskyism" in a book shelf....

Monday, May 08, 2006

That whole facts thing

Actually seen in a Usenet archive post: a guy makes blanket statements about 9/11 and Saddam Hussein, another guy says they had nothing to do with one another and if you read the 9/11 report you'd understand this, guy #1 retorts by saying "There goes ----- with his "If you'd read this you'll understand this" argument", implying that referring someone to a text to back up what you're saying is somehow bad argumentation and that people who know their stuff don't have to do this. At some point, this process of getting facts and researching opinions is called "an education". Maybe guy #1 should get it.

What I think he was arguing was that this person was making reference to some totally unaccessable text which no one could really see or consult, thereby making the guy take his argument on faith. Considering that the document in question wasn't a text concerning Silk Road Christian/Manichean theology but the 9/11 Report I think that that argument is untenable.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Ecstasy less harmfull than alcohol

My response is "d'uh!'. My god, Ecstasy is only associated with deaths due to overheating and dehydration, while, to say the least, alcohol can itself poison you, can lead to drunken driving, can lead to all sorts of accidents, plus, as said in the article, leads to quite a bit of assaults, which Ecstasy is blameless for.

The article is from England, which explains some, because X became the bete noir of politicos out there, sort of the scapegoat drug whose use and harmfullness was inflated all through the '90s and into today, much like that of other drugs were in the U.S. in the '80s. Only the difference is that the Ecstasy scare was targetting something positive, the rave culture of the '90s of England, as opposed to the superficial cocaine culture which came out of the '70s.

So stories of deaths and people ruined from X use became all the rage, telling how bad this new youth movement was; now the government or sections of the government of England want to downgrade the penalties for possessing Ecstasy, from being the equivalent of a Schedule I drug in the U.S., which puts its harmfullness up there with Heroin, to be more like Schedule II, which is less serious. And now , as contained in the article, the fact that people have proven that Ecstasy is less harmfull in terms of deaths and probably other social phenomenon than alcohol, which people can drink in England from 16 on, the government anti-drug forces are reacting to the findings by pointing to the grave danger of Ecstasy on people....

Same shit, different country.

Hopefully Ecstasy will eventually be decriminalized in the U.K.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Jumping on the Caitlin Flanagan bandwagon

Mrs. Flanagan authored a piece, available through the title link, which declares that since she's a housewife that the Democratic Party, and liberalism in general, has abandoned her despite the fact that she agrees with much of the left side of the liberal spectrum, forcing her to go to the GOP, which stands against many of the things that she declares that she is for.

She claims that she feels ostracized and alienated by other dems and liberals because she's a stay at home mom (critics of her choice of terminology to describe herself, hold your tongues for a second), and that for some reason there's this huge well of hostility out there which has come to bare on her.

What I'm personally curious about is if this feeling isn't sociological, and if it isn't, where exactly the people who have been saying this really are?

By sociological I mean this: she goes to places, social engagements, whatever, where the expectation is for a woman to work, have a career beyond being a part-time stay at home mom who also writes, and when she gets talking to people and explains her situation they don't approve. This may be the case, but it isn't really a partisan thing. There are some very conservative, pro-republican, women out there in the business world, albeit more as economic conservatives than Christian conservatives, who would take a dim view of a woman who wasn't working too. In that case the approval or disapproval wouldn't have anything to do with political labels but with segments of the population who are doing their thing and are not really into other alternatives; this is something normal, albeit annoying. A parallel example would be someone who really didn't care about pursuing a corporate career, who was male, showing up at a party where people were very much into it. After some questioning, along the lines of "You do What?" and recognizing that the person was outside the ken, it could get pretty chilly.

That's one explanation.

If that's not what she's experiencing, and even if it is to some degree, you have to wonder just where these rabid pro-women working democrats and liberals really are...I mean that with the label of democrat or liberal coming first as a descriptive term, as in someone who's really engageed politically, really defined in terms of her political views, who sees herself as a democrat or a liberal first, taking offense at someone not working and making a fuss about it. Personally, these beings seem to live more in the minds of conservative commentators than they do in reality. The anti-housewife thing isn't really front and center with either the democrats or the liberals, no matter what "Tammy Wynette" comment Hillary Clinton may have made fourteen years ago. What is true is that some strands of more mainstream feminist thought see working and equality at work in terms of women being able to become CEOs just like men as being the sine qua non of liberation; to them the idea of a person splitting her time between home and work might be distateful, but that's only one small caucus in a greater discussion, which includes people who think they're nuts as well, at least in their fundamentalism without really looking at structural issues or concerning themselves with poor women.

Mostly, the allegations of anti-family stuff that I hear, or read, come from conservatives who assume that this large, ever present, force, is there and who try to convince other people who listen or read them that, indeed, this is what liberals are about so be afraid, because everyone knows that at least the idea of the family is an ok thing. It's conservatives who say that liberals want to force everyone into alternative lifestyles or to dissolve the family, while the viewpoint of liberals is more that people who choose to live alternative lifestyles shouldn't be stigmatized because there isn't anything wrong with this. Alternative lifestyle in this case means much more than a woman choosing career over family.

Santorum was one of the people who argued that this was in fact what liberals were up to; his "It takes a family", stretches the metaphor of Hillary's "It takes a village" to macabre ends by suggesting that liberals want to replace families with a "village elder" system. Right.

In fact in terms of straight women working the democratic party and liberalism hasn't really said much. Most of the turf wars between conservatives and liberals seem to revolve around same sex partnerships, and there are plenty of people who, after giving birth, want to devote time to their child at home and so take leaves from the work force if they can. Some of those I know who have done this are radical feminists....

So the whole argument is strange. It takes a position that conservatives push and reifies it, giving it more substance and weight than it would normally have by acting like it really exists as a tangible thing in the outside world. No wonder people ask her if she's a conservative, because she's echoing conservative talking points, whether the cause of it is being alienated by going to the wrong parties or
for some reason actually believing that liberals really are anti-family like that.

Friday, May 05, 2006

"Women: stupid or Satanic?" Pandagon post

Where Amanda Marcotte provides a link to this article alleging that somehow the spiritualist movement in the 19th century was responsable for feminism. Besides being sort of funny for the right to link feminisim with diabolical forces, they don't really have the social or ideological history right, and they don't get to the main figure who embodies all of the paranoia...

That figure being Victoria Woodhull, spiritualist, free love advocate, member of Marx's First International until expelled, and a whole lot more.

Woodhull and others were the 19th century's equivalent of the hippies or other counter-cultural bohemians. In fact, when Marx expelled her, he basically said the same thing, and gave that as a reason to expell her, which I find quite funny.

There really isn't much difference between Woodhull and others who were righteous babes of the 19th century and people today who pursued alternative religion to explore their feminism, practicised sexual separatism combined with alternative sexuality, and other modes of 'fringe' experimentation.

These things have been part of the human experience from day one and they'll be part of it till the end; nothing to be ashamed of.

But, be this as it may, there isn't some sort of secret foundation of the women's movement in spiritualism.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A Coca-Cola secret; related to Majikthise

Who posted a link about drinking more coffee if you want more caffeine....I suppose it isn't a secret that Seattle is a test market for certain products not available elsewhere. Well, in Seattle you can buy "Coca-Cola Black" which is a Coca-Cola Coffee drink. Make of it what you will. I haven't had it yet. Maybe next time I venture into the heart of the city I'll find some.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I go international

Funny thing happened. I placed a used book order with this company based in Quebec, they send me an e-mail saying that my book is being mailed from Belgium and should be there at the end of the month. Oh.

'So it's rorschach and prozac and everything's groovy"

A random title from a verse of a Nick Cave song.

The world is messed up. That's the easiest way to say it. I don't know, what would you call it when the government says that "our enemies hate our freedom", a problematic statement in itself, yet says that "we have to give up some of our freedom for security".

The buildup of anti-privacy, anti-liberal, anti-democratic sentiment in the United States has nothing to do with 'terror' and everything to do with internal politics.

This is the cherished day when the Republican Party, which has been crowing about the degenerate state of liberal America for decades, finally gets to say "See, I told you so" to Democrats, liberals, socialists, whatever, based on the absurd contention that somehow the 'moral decadence' of America due to liberalism allowed the 9/11 hi-jackers to live in the U.S. and commit their crimes.

It's not that they posed as non-religious people who had little interest in politics and self consciously assumed new identities in order to fool people, nope, it's the decadence of liberal America, which just lets anything go, lets so much freedom go around that there's nothing legally that people can do to stop from committing serious crimes, which is bullshit of the highest degree.

To hear the conservatives say it you'd think that the 9/11 hijackers came into the United States handing out pamphlets advocating Islamic Jihad from the day they stepped out of the air port, were completely out in the open about planning the terrorist acts, and that, despite all of this, our dastardly preference for multiculturalism and not persecuting people based on ethnicity or religion was to blame for these people being able to do what they did.

Which of course is a complete lie. They wouldn't have had to essentially go undercover and act contrary to how they really were if America was really this swingin' place where anyone could do anything and nobody cares about it. Mohammad Atta in America, according to an excellant book where researchers pieced together his life in Naples, Florida, went out, drank, partied, had an American girl friend, so presumably had premarital sex, and didn't look anything like a devout Muslim, but rather as 'Euro trash', as the book authors describe it, while he was taking lessons on how to fly. Der Spiegel gave a much different picture of Atta when he lived in Germany, one of a person who grew increasingly alienated from the society around him and turned to a more and more stringent version of Islam for solace, eventually being kicked out from his host family's house because he insisted on all food he ate there being cooked according to halal standards.

So either Atta had a sudden conversion to decadent hedonism or he was purposely acting very differently than how he actually was in order to blend into American society and not attract attention to himself.

How are liberals responsable for the crime of a person who purposely tried to conceal his true identity and his true agenda from everyone around him in order to execute a criminal conspiracy?

What if a Soviet dissident had come over, had been kicked out of the Soviet Union by the authorities, was lauded by conservatives, made speeches against the Soviet Union, posed for photo ops, etc... but in reality was a double agent who used the proximity he got to prominent conservatives to gather intelligence for the Soviet Union?

Would you blame the intelligence compromise on liberal society, or would you say that he fooled them? Because that's what Mohammad Atta and company did. Fool American society. No one permitted them to just come into the country and execute a criminal conspiracy.