Saturday, March 31, 2007

Added Z-Net to sidebar

After the brief exchange regarding Michael Albert's new book I began to wonder if I'd been too hard in condemning the site as a whole, that maybe there were some things about it that I wasn't seeing, or that had changed. While I don't retract my comments earlier I am pleasantly surprised that Z-Net has in fact opened itself up to currents outside of Z-Net, from the general Progressive community to other forms and conceptions of socialism.

Besides what I mentioned, the problem as I saw it with Z-Net was that it was unconnected to anything but itself, in my opinion, and when that was questioned there really wasn't a response. An example of this is the exchange with Katsiaficas that happened a while ago where under criticism from Katsiaficas, Albert essentially ignored his criticisms and the dialogue stopped. At least that's how I read it.

It appears to have opened up some.

Laibach's Anglia video

From YouTube.




From the comments:
"people like you putting this shite on should just curl up and die, hopefully within the 2 days your giving everybody else."

All right!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Laibach's "Volk"--it's an anti-nationalist record.

Or CD or MP3 or AAC file, as the case may be. "Volk" is the latest recording by Yugoslav art/music group Laibach, who came out of Slovenia, part of Yugoslavia, with a radical analysis comparing right wing bureaucracies to left wing ones, then as time moved on and Yugoslavia fell apart shifted their focus to questions of nationalism.

Don't be put off by the title "Volk". It's intentional--the songs are general repurposings of national anthems in the interest of making social criticism of those countries, particularly the role of nationalism in them. So "Volk", the Nazi associated German word that means "People" but has very ethnic-centric connotations is used to comment on the idea of nationalism.

Generally, after listening to all of these tracks, you really begin to hate the sentiments included in national anthems.

"Germania" starts off somewhat normally but then goes into commentary about how Germany needs to reconcile itself with its past in order to move forward, among many other things, like "and Fatherland no more, only unity, justice, and freedom for all".

"Anglia", to "God save the Queen", soon goes into chants of "So you think you still rule the world?" and "So you still think you're superior?".

"Nippon" sounds like a funeral dirge, like the last act before death.

"Zhonghua", China, is one of the few upbeat songs, although it contrasts the emerging status of China with the sentiment of the still leading role of the party "walk into the gunfire, march on and on and on".

"Espana", a testament to Spain's new found prosperity, probably the happiest song on the album, even includes a reference to "Pray to your Jesus, El Conquistador".

"America" comes in for a beating, asking how people in the U.S. can delude themselves that they really provide liberty and justice for all.

"Yisra'el" is another very critical one, rightly. It intones "MY country, MY country, MY land, MY home, MY ancestors; MY country, MY country, MY nation, in the land of struggle".


"Slovania" is probably the, not quite optimistic, but it talks about a general upturn in Eastern Europe, while pointing out the somewhat fascist notions contained in some of the Slavophilic discourse out there.

This is probably Laibach's most explicitly political album; most of the previous ones have been veiled in what they actually mean, but there was recently an unfortunate shift in the line up, with the founder leaving for personal reasons. Maybe this has something to do with the shift from implicit criticism to explicit. It's sort of sad.

Yuschenko threatens to dissolve parliament in Ukraine

The wonderful champion of democracy Victor Yuschenko has threatened to dissolve the parliament of the Ukraine because it's controlled by a rival coalition and they want to have the right, as in most parliamentary countries, to lead committees and to have a share of the Ministerial positions.

But, of course, because he's considered a paragon of democracy and the parliament is controlled by a coalition lead by his rival for the Presidency, the press wires are framing it as "Democracy vs. Dictatorship", with Yuschenko, the guy who wants to dissolve his Congress, the hero.

The notion that maybe Congress is a more representative institution than the Presidency is not considered.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Reflection on five years/.

Some people ask how I can write so much, what keeps me going, what is it that's ennabled me to continue on for five years.
Most of those people are on the inside of my head, but they do ask it.

The answer is very simple, very short, very simple, and you can find it on page 500 of my book, paragraph two. Said book can be bought for a dollar twenty five for a PDF copy or $20.22, excluding shipping and handling, for a paperback copy.

Happy Blogiversary!

This blog is officially five years old now, today.

Monday, March 26, 2007

"The Lancet"--most prestigious medical journal in the world--weighs in on the harmfulness of drugs.



Note how high Ritalin, i.e. Methylphendidate, scores.

An analysis of Proudhon's "What is Property?"

Usually, when people encounter "What is Property?" by Proudhon they find that instead of clear cut arguments Proudhon presents a series of legalistic indictments against the idea of property as defined by the French courts. It's pedantic and doesn't really easily admit analysis, but the basic idea nonetheless can be distinguished and is important. Everyone knows that the punchline to "What is Property?" is "Property is Theft." but looking at Proudhon's book there doesn't seem to be an easy way to get from his basic arguments, his way of approaching things, to the end point.

Well, the general thrust of it and why it matters has to do with the classical liberal idea that Proudhon is attacking and what his attack means. The classical liberal idea of property is that as long as a person has rightly earned it that they're entitled to whatever it is they have---even if there's a situation where some people accumulate extremes of wealth while other people just get by or don't get by at all. In the idea of classical liberalism if you level the playing field then people get what they deserve--the poor are poor because they deserve it, they're lazy or whatever, and the rich are rich because they've worked harder, which seems no doubt to be a cruel joke to people who have put in a lifetime of manual labor, but I digress. Property in this case doesn't just mean land, it means money and assets, in particular things like owning factories, or apartment complexes, or mines, or really large stores. The idea of Proudhon's is basically this: if you can prove that property rights, that the idea of property rights, is really inconsistent, that it's not a clear cut idea, then you can assert that the people who own these things really don't have a right to them. Instead, they belong to the community, or to society as a whole.

Property is theft because in Proudhon's argument people really don't have a right to own things that give them a huge advantage over others. People don't have the right to personally own things that are used by the community as a whole, that exist for the benefit of the community, and are run by members of the community. It's like saying why put one person in charge of a community enterprise and let he or she get the profits from it and use them in whatever way they want?

Proudhon's line of attack goes something like this: take my apartment complex, for instance. It's huge, there's several hundred apartments there. I rent an apartment. Some entity owns the apartment complex as a whole. Now, why do they own it? Because they paid millions of dollars to buy it. But who did they buy it from? Someone else, who probably put up the money to have the place built. But where did they get the money to do that and what let them do it? They went to a bank with a business plan for a piece of land that they bought from someone. The bank approved their plan and gave them a huge loan. But where did the bank get the money? It just had it, the bank has money from people in the community in savings accounts and such and they used some of that money to make a loan. But why is it that banks can take the community's money and decide where to give it in order to fund business projects? Well, it's because it's a private enterprise, people deposit the money there, they choose to deposit the money there, and then the bank decides what to with it, based on somewhat ethical decisions, hopefully. But it's the community's money, why is it that the bank is an independent entity and not under the control of the community? There's no really good answer to that. The basic excuse is that some entrepreneur decided to start a bank, which kind of dodges the point.

At the base of it, if you trace the origin of property rights back to the start in this fashion you come to the conclusion that what people are using to create their businesses is really community property.

Property is theft because it takes what was originally communal property and puts it in private hands.

***

Now, Proudhon's particular arguments have no bearing on the Anglo-American legal system. The basic type of argument outlined above holds, but if you look at what exactly Proudhon argues about in particular in "What is Property?" you find that it attacks the notion of property as defined in the Napoleonic Code, which was the reformed legal system in France after the Revolution. This tradition of legal thought is foreign to Ango-American Common Law ideas, including those of property. In a way Proudhon was arguing against property in a system that was more predisposed than that of the U.S. or England to have ideas of property deflated. The idea of absolute property rights does not exist in continental Europe. If you own something, there's always autmatic qualifications on what exactly ownership means in relation to society. Unfortunately in the U.S. the idea is out there that property rights come first, before society, that they're primal: I have this and no one can or should be able to tell me what I can or can't do with it; and anyone who wants to legislate regulations for me will have to struggle like they're pulling teeth to get me to comply. Ok, that's in relation to the State, but it dodges the question of where you got your property from and why you have it.

You can assert the rights to the property that you own now all you want but the fact is that you got it from somewhere. But at some point this argument breaks down because not all property is things like capital goods, which is what the example I used dealt with. People work and save up to buy stuff. Their buying stuff isn't automatically oppressive. It's just saving up and buying stuff. Proudhon saw this and, in fact, wasn't against small amounts of property; it was the big property that he was against. At some point your mom and pop store becomes something more than a mom and pop store; once it has enough influence in the community and ceases to be a small business it transforms into something else, something that people usually express with the term 'Corporation', no matter if that's technically true or not. When it becomes a corporation that's when it starts to be a problem and that's when private ownership becomes an issue. That's when it should come under the control of the community and not be in private hands anymore.

Abolish corporate personhood, restrict the charters if you can, but in the end hedge them in so much that they no longer work for themselves but work for you instead.

Then there's the issue of where the money ultimately comes from. Sure, if I have a specific white collar job and rake in tons of money I get that money because I'm associated with Capital, I'm an employee of the people who own the Corporation, but what makes the corporation in this country so prosperous? Part of it is that it depends on the exploitation of the undeveloped world, what used to be called the third world. If the Corporation was in a country that didn't have access to foreign labor, and it couldn't get that labor, then even though I as a hypothetical white collar employee would get more money than the people working for for the Corporation on the blue collar side I wouldn't get half as much as I get in being allied with a corporation that get's money due to third world exploitation.

A real Progressive wish list.

As a start I'd say instant runoff voting, proportional representation, creation of a third party i.e. the Green Party, and working on the state level to effect change and get inititatives passed.

I've read something horrible

First, the posts below are much more important, this is just window dressing.

With that in mind let me quote you this from the "eXile" book. Yes, there is one and yes, I have it.

"Prague is an excellent example. I saw what happened to Prague, how it became a safe, tourist-friendly, boring little addition to the global village. Prague could have gone either way after the communists were thrown out. In 1991 it was still a mess--a heavy element of the mid-20th century still suffocated the average visitor: excess cement, crude architecture, terrible food. But Prague had one advantage from the Western point of view: good, cheap beer. Cheap Beer mean that the Germans would never leave the place alone. Cheap Beer meant that fresh-out-of college Americans would make it their home away from home. The young Czechs were desperate to rush the EU frat house, and the Semester at Sea Americans who shacke up there were effective in steering Prage away from its suspicious, time-warped past and toward the familiar:"

and these are the sentences that have me scared:

"something like Haight Street meets "Reality Bites". If they haven't already met."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Yeah, Marxist-Leninism and me, what happened...

What happened was that after being a fan of the more liberal versions of Marxist-Leninism, i.e. C.L.R. James' as well as the Popular or United Front doctrine of the Communist Party in the late '30s and '40s, I started dialogueing with Autonomist Marxists and Left Communists and Anarchists of various stripes, including NEFAC type people. That made me get beyond Marxist-Leninism.

Wow, a blast from the past about Romanticism and Socialism...

This time from May 31st, 2002. An essay on this site written when I was still an, albeit very left wing, Marxist-Leninist.


I don't agree with a lot of things in the essay, and believe that some of the things in it are historically inaccurate, but it's interesting for the conntinuity of ideas. Also, searching for Lenin references in the blog I came across an early post suggesting that someday I should collect Lenin's more libertarian writings and put them together as "The unknown Lenin". Well, maybe some things do change....in any case Slavoj Zizek, the Slovene philosopher, has already done that.

"Lenin and creative liberty...

It's come to my attention that those of you who are either unintiated into the wonderful mysteries of Marxist-Leninism ;) or who have dissenting views on the nature of it might have some trouble understanding why I put Lenin, who's percieved by many to be a rigid dogmatic authoritarian, in the category of being a creative liberal....Let me explain. Creative liberty, in my view, is as much a stance as a doctrine. When the Socialist movement first started in the early nineteenth century it was up against a liberal orthodoxy which was highly rationalistic and which couldn't accommodate both the idea of individual liberty and people being determined by class at the same time. In other words it wasn't flexable enough to modify it's definition of individual liberty in the face of criticism...This forced the Socialist movement to be very creative in coming up with alternatives. Fourier, Saint-Simon, and Robert Owen, as well as many other Utopians blazed trails into unknown territory with their strange new conceptions of how society worked and of how it could be made to work better. But they were working with essentially no background resources. They were part of a larger reaction against sterile liberalism led by the Romantic philosophers and authors....Lenin's creativity comes out in the fact that his conception of Marxism and society was created in a similar vacuum. "

Romantic Socialism

Romantic socialism refers to the socialist thought that existed before 1848. The failure of the socialist movement to influence the revolutions in Europe that took place that year dealt it a blow that it didn't recover from until later in the century. Romantic socialism was the ground that both anarchism and marxism, as well as social democracy, came from. Before 1848 things weren't so clear cut as they would become later on. What attracts me to Romantic socialism is really its place as the first generation of socialist thought after the French Revolution.

Essentially, this was the birth of socialism and it came about because of the deficiencies of classical liberalism in dealing with inequality and social justice, as well as its inability to extend the type of equality it did offer to a wider range of people than just farmers. The French Revolution, and some of the thought that went into the American Revolution, talked a lot about individual rights, yet this was set in a context of inviolable private property and an inviolable competitive market. A person not only possessed civil rights, but it was thought that with property available for everyone, provided that they had enough money to buy it, and with social advancement not hindered by any official barrier, that whatever state of affairs came out of this would be just.
People with more talent would rise to the top, people with less talent would fall to the bottom and most importantly, any attempts to interfere with this process by way of social legislation or unions would disrupt the equilibrium and just lead to greater injustices. The Romantic socialists, and the early labor movement, were the first people to confront the idea that the classical liberal set up provided the best outcome for society.

It's not hard to see parallels between the sort of questioning that went on in that first generation of socialist thought and what's going on today. The problem isn't just neoliberalism, even though that's a sort of global extension of the classical liberal thought, the problem is also that in the U.S. the basic idea of another order beyond classical liberalism has been under assault since Ronald Reagan took office in 1980. I for one haven't lived in a time when I was aware of any other model of doing things; for my entire lifetime the status quo has been conservatives on the attack shooting down any sort of social program or idea of social welfare as being some sort of violation of personal liberties. That's where the country is coming from in its mindset. The idealism of the Kennedy years and the ethic of Johnson's Great Society and War on Poverty are nice ideas to read about but they're not real living things that I can get my mind around on a real basic level, like I can with Reaganism, and I think it's the same for a lot of people, at least younger people. Even if older people still harbor memories of the time the political reality has changed so that Reaganism is what has to be fought against. All of this is a round about way of saying that through the assertion of free market ideas and the attack on any sort of intervention designed to lessen inequality the Reagan years have brought us back to a point similar to that of the first socialists in relation to the classical liberals.

The same questions that they face, things like does working for collective justice infringe on individual rights, what happens if people in general support it but a few people dissent from it, are questions that need to be answered in today's world, and the arguments of the Romantic socialists can help us get there. The particular philosophies that some of these early thinkers employed, like those of Charles Fourier or Henri Saint-Simon, Robert Owen, Lamartine, or Louis Blanc...or Gracchus Babeuf...aren't necessarily as important as the way that they fended off charges that they were anti-liberty and anti-society. Of course it helps that among these thinkers, who loosely fit into the categories of 'Utopian Socialists', an unnecessarily negative term, and social reformers, few of them really were anti-liberty. Etienne Cabet is probably the only one who really was and he was known mostly for a novel where people gave up their liberty to live in a rigidly controlled commune with property abolished and all decisionmaking concentrated in a board, as well as founding a few communities in the U.S., than anything else.

Romantic socialism was also associated with the broader progressive reaction to the French and American revolutions, which the Romantic philosphers of continental Europe, the Idealist philosphers, and the poets of England were most associated with. Like the socialists they saw holes in the image of society that the classical liberals had outlined and had tried to correct it or supplement it with new ideas. Although it's the most well known of the three in the English speaking world, the poets are probably the least important. Some of them were very progressive and socialist in their thought, like Shelley, William Blake, and the young Wordsworth, but in general they gave way to really bad poems about how the established order couldn't come to grips with the power of love, established society with its cold mechanical notion of human nature. That's all very good but it gets really sappy after a while and doesn't really contribute to an alternative view of society as a whole. Plus, it's become the grist for generations of alienated teenagers. "Don't you think the beauty of a single flower overpowers your view of the world as being atoms that run into each other, with no point, no aim, with random determinism leading to everything?". It has some validity.... But I'm getting off on a side track.

The Continental Romantics and the Idealist philosophers are applicable to today's world largely for the same reasons that the Romantic Socialists are: We're starting from a basis of a very stripped down classical liberalism, one that also allies itself to science in a very destructive way in that the same sort of materialism underlying that view has been assimilated by science as its official ideology and is somewhat determining things. This is bad because on questions like genetic engineering or ethical applications of science and technology this viewpoint leads to rational limits on what's permissable being shot down as not being 'objective', as being ethical systems with no scientific validity and so therefore inapplicable. But the consequences of science are just one area of life that suffers because of this reductionist view of the world. Human relations, what the human experience is all about, what's important in life, what life should be about, what society's goals should be, what values our society should hold and strive for, how we understand ourselves, all of these things are issues that the deterministic worldview doesn't deal well with and that the continental Romantics and Idealists faced and grappled with.

Many of the thoughts of the continental Romantics are accessable through the writings of people like Ralph Waldo Emerson and other Transcendentalists.

It's like America never learned the lessons of the 19th century, at least the important ones, and with the onset of the conservative attack leading into neo-liberalism those ideas might be more important than ever before.

The vacuum that neo-liberalism and free market conservatism created is, in my opinion, on of the major reasons that post-9/11 we've been slipping towards a fascist state. Threaten the edifice once and the whole thing falls apart.

It's interesting with this Generation Y business...

That people have commented on the study that claimed Generation Y people were more narcissistic than others but no one has seemed to mention the most obvious contradiction: that for an objective and scientific study it makes the strange claim of attributing the results to "lax parenting", also citing nursery school rhymes that say "you are special". Now, to me this looks like a dead giveaway to the rank partisanship underlying the study. "Lax parenting"? According to who, and by what standard? They don't say.

Lax parenting. It's all the fault of those hippy boomers! Once that's clear the ducks fall into the row. Lax parenting on the part of Hippy parents is now leading to kids that are self centered and narcissistic, instead of being "realistic".

It's the revenge of the '60s generation, as prolonged by researchers with chips on their shoulders and marketed to people who, in the most part, don't give a shit anymore.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

"Triumph of the Vile" about "300", by Gary Brecher

From our friends, in a never have met or communicated with sort of way, at The eXile, in Russia.

"FRESNO, CA -- Well, I did it, took one for the team, jumped on the grenade, offered my belly to the bayonets--in other words, sat through 300, the comic-book movie about Thermopylae. The only reason this thing got made is that it makes good anti-Iran propaganda, because as every war fan knows, at Thermopylae "300 brave Spartans held off the entire Persian army."

Zack Snyder's movie is the "Hoo-ah!" version of this story. Every time the Spartan king Leonidas makes a "rousing speech," his warriors yell "Hoo-ah!" like the Rangers in Mogadishu in Black Hawk Down. Actually the Spartans had a rep for silence, but we're not dealing with great historical minds here.

*****


Fact: Sparta was about as romantic as North Korea. Give or take a little egalitarianism, Sparta WAS North Korea. Spartan laws did everything they could to break down the family. Sparta was more anti-nuclear family than any Hollywood liberal could ever be."
*******

Only amateur fascists admire Sparta guys; they're still pissed off because people like me dared to warn them the Iraq war was going to be a disaster. Now the neocons have gone so over the deep end of delusional thinking that they've resorted to fantasizing about Sparta, where nobody ever argued, where everyone yelled and stabbed and otherwise kept their mouths shut.

It's downright hilarious the way this movie punishes every smart character. Every time someone wants to argue with the war party in this movie, he's evil. Everybody who talks in a normal tone of voice is evil. Snyder shows two scenes where the Spartans murder Persian envoys arriving under a flag of truce. And both times, you're supposed to cheer.

Since when do Americans cheer when truce parties are murdered? Well, that's pretty easy to answer, actually: since Iraq. These diehard neocons have gone insane because there's no way they can argue for an invasion of Iran any more. But they still want it, bad. So they've taken a crash course in fascism, jumping all the way to cheering for Sparta and booing for Athens - because Athens stands for brains and flexibility and talking things out. They can't win the argument, so they want to kill anybody who tries to argue. That's why Leonidas kicks the Persian envoy down a well."

*****
Wanna know what a Spartan wedding night was really like? It's pretty hilarious, in an insane way. As soon as a Spartan girl got her first period, they grabbed her, shaved her head, dressed her as a boy, threw her down on her new husband's bed, and then, well, he had his way with her. What way was that? Since hubby had been in an all-male dorm since age seven, I'm betting that that night of lovin' was more like a skinny white boy's introduction to San Quentin after lights-out than it was like a chick flick. So when this movie shows the Spartan hero saying to his wife, "Goodbye, my love," I just had to laugh.

No Spartan ever told his wife he loved her. That would've been like treason, because the Spartan rulers wanted family ties snapped, so the only bond left was to the state. They left room for folks' natural urges by letting the women drink, which they did non-stop, and the men form what you might call close comradely bonds with their fellow soldiers."

"What the Generation Y woman really wants"---by Willow Feather

What Generation Y women really want, and what Generation Y men really want, is to be conformists. There's not a lot of real information in the article that Willow Bay has penned beyond a simple affirmation of what mainstream American women, and not a few men, typically want.

Sample Quotes:

"On the job, they are re-writing the rules of the game. They say they want "more than just a job," -- they want a career they are passionate about."

"They'd much rather be their own boss. They've got tremendous entrepreneurial spirit! Running their own business satisfies -- in theory at least -- their desire for a career they love with the kind of control, and flexibility that accommodate the demands of children and a very full personal life. It's that 'balance' thing again."

"What they really want to be? Entrepreneurs
From a list of seven options, nearly half of all respondents said they would most like to be the owner of their own company (47%) - more than three-times the number who picked the next most popular selection, Nobel Prize Winner (14%). Moreover, self-employment received almost five-times as many votes as "president of a major corporation" (10%) - a position of equal prestige, but perhaps not comparable flexibility."

"Today's young women value control and flexibility over climbing the corporate ladder. Even the vast majority of Columbia MBA students I spoke with last fall told me they'd rather NOT be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Why not? "Those women don't have families and children" they said. These next generation business leaders told us the pressure-cooker career that goes with the high powered title wasn't worth the sacrifice. They'll choose another career option even if it means forging a new path of their own."

Talk about utterly banal. Nothing new here, just the sad confirmation that Generation Y'ers are for the most part not a radical bunch of people. The mainstream is mainstream, and the radicals are on the edges.

And talk about that entrepreneurial spirit!

It applies to the men of Generation Y only but I think Jello Biafra's lyric in 'Life Sentence' is applicable. These guys want to "Major in business and be taught how to fuck".

Friday, March 23, 2007

One thing about the blogging explosion...

I was browsing the profiles of some of the microcephalics that I spent part of junior high and high school with before moving to the Detroit suburbs proper, and I noticed something. May not be the most profound thing in the world, but, anyways: now that the blogging explosion has made everyone want to try to be a writer a person can separate the wheat from the chaff and see just how stupid people are. Really. Doesn't take much evaluation of a person's attempt to Myspace blog to see where the gray matter is located.

The Bush administration's cultural attitude summed up in one quote:

"I accuse you of being a redneck whitebread chicken shit motherfucker"
---"Fuck the Police", by N.W.A.

British military forces seized by Iran

I have to confess that when I heard that these people were seized for violating Iran's waters my first thought was "Super!".

I like that the AFP, where this permutation of the story is from, puts quotes around the word "Routine" in relation to the actions these people were doing, i.e. boarding Iranian vessels and searching them.

No doubt in twenty years we'll learn that this was an intentional provocation, like the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

More fucking Attorney bullshit

Looking at the blogs it seems that firing Attorneys in midstream, after a President has already been, shit I was going to say appointed, 'elected', is in fact without much precedent. Maybe there was a revolt in the works.

Interesting thing about the firing of those attorneys...

Cursor, summarizing this article states: As more Republican legislators call for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign, e-mails putting "Rove at the epicenter" in the firing of U.S. Attorneys suggest a wider purge was not initiated because "80-85%" of U.S. Attorneys are "loyal Bushies."

Although the firings are important, the above is an example of the maxim that the more things change the more things stay the same.

This is the e-mail that contains the 80-85% comment. It also has the revealing statement that Bush43, that is George W. Bush, fired most of Clinton's U.S. Attorney's in 2001, and replaced them with his people, generating narry a comment, which may explain why 80-85% of them are loyal Bushies.

Added "Roots of Romanticism"

To the new and improved "Good Books" list. I was surprised that it got a bad review on Powells, from the Virginia Quarterly Review. It's somewhat ironic that the beef that they name is Berlin's criticism of Bach, because that has almost nothing to do with his main arguments. He argues that the music of the 19th century was more sophisticated than Bach because he was so formalistic. This new music includes people like Mozart and Beethoven. But, like I said, that's a small part of the book. If being upset about poor Bach being criticized is the best they can do then they've failed in their takedown of this book.

Interestingly enough, while they have a problem with Berlin talking about a movement in 19th century continental European thought---he doesn't talk about English literature at all--that's been almost completely abandoned as being provincial beacuse it criticizes Bach they have no problem in giving thumbs up to countless permutations of post-modern thought.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

For the record: in relation to John Edwards

I saw him at the first "Take Back America" conference, which had a really interesting social democratic type program put together by Economic Policy Institute guy Robert Borosage by the way, and he came off as being the best of the crowd, which included Kucinich, largely because of what other bloggers have noted: a real consideration of labor rights and a real eye towards addressing poverty. I still entered the Kucinich campaign as an entryist, not for anyone but myself, in the hope of turning the local Kucinich branch into an extremely pro-labor pseudo-socialist organization, but was stopped due to the fact that people were more new agey and generally not concerned at all with economic justice. This can't be said for the entire campaign, but in this case it was true.

I don't support any Democratic candidate for president, but out of those running Edwards is probably the best.

Quote of the Day

"I'll write stories that'll make 'em come from the ends of the earth to kill me...then at last it'll be over, and that'll be fine with me"---Louis-Ferdinand Celine

Origins of Detroit conservatism

As this abstract points out, the big three in relation to Macomb county residents were a) the riots, b)the counter culture, and c) the recession of the late '70s.

"Detroit" here refers to the Metro Detroit area in general. I use it mostly to refer to the suburbs.

The riots hastened a white exodus from the city of Detroit that had been going on for years previously and that included working class whites as well as more affluent residents. They also left a legacy of bitter racism on both sides. Of course, the consequences for this racism were much more serious for the black residents of Detroit than for the people who participated in white flight, with the city of Detroit largely abandoned by white businesses, leading to a serious economic crisis that continues to this day. The suburbs, although varying from post-World War II G.I. houses that were really small to the homes and incomes traditionally associated with the notion of a suburb, didn't experience an economic implosion. Even though things started to go down hill in late eighties, it still doesn't compare to what happened to the city of Detroit itself. Anyways, the legacy of the riots caused an extreme reaction among whites against the civil rights movement and against associated movements.

Then, anti-war demonstrations and the counter culture further alienated people in Macomb county, especially since part of the economy of Macomb county depends on defense contracting. But the anti-counter culture stance started before heavy anti-war protesting. Warren was the site of a mass burning of Beatles records after the "More popular than Jesus" remark, which gives you an idea of the climate.

Then the recession of the '70s turned people against Carter and the Democratic Party in general.

So what does it all mean? I think Detroit area conservatism is a function of the failure of the Old Left to really address issues beyond economic ones. The economic issues no doubt were the most central problem of these people's lives, people who I consider to be my people, but ingrained prejudice wasn't dealt with. So in the post Civil Rights, post Counter Culture, post anti Vietnam War environment they retrenched into social conservatism instead of adopting or approving of the new trends.

In a way this is good, because the circle has come around and the basic labor issues that Detroit was founding on are becoming very relevant once more, but it's bad in the sense that it stifles voices that may be against Bush and against the War.

I don't think both issues are mutually exclusive. The state of labor and the economy relate to economic globalization, benefitting corporations, and the Iraq war is about benefitting corporations with regards to oil and defense contractors as well as about making the Middle East safe for U.S. influence, which in practice means safe for profit by the U.S. upper class.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Detroit: some hope and defeat

Title link goes to a Rawstory article about how homes in the city of Detroit are going for $1300 at auction and how the economy of the Detroit area is basically collapsing.

God. The Detroit area is where I'm from. It's hard to see that happening. Mainstream economics will tell you that the jobs lost will somehow be replaced elsewhere, but that's of little comfort to the several million people who live in the Detroit area, and have lived in the Detroit area, due in some way to the auto industry. The question is what's going to happen to several million people now that the thing driving their economic livelihood is collapsing? This isn't a trivial number of folks.

That's the defeat.

The hope also comes with a somewhat downcast demeanor. The Detroit Free Press reported that a hundred people demonstrated against the Iraq war in downtown Detroit, with candle light vigils held in Troy, Royal Oak, and West Bloomfield, all suburbs. A hundred people isn't exactly a lot, but at least it's something. The coverage of the vigils and the protest were dripping with condescension and hostility. Especially the report on the vigils. West Bloomfield is stereotypical suburbia, Troy is upscale although not on the very top of the heap, and Royal Oak is a suburb identified with the international Commie-Liberal conspiracy, although in reality it's being gentrified pretty quickly.

The message seemed to be that the only place the war had opposition was in chicken shit suburbs, not in places where 'real' Detroiters, whether they actually live in the city or outside of it, actually live.

Why is it that the Detroit media, at least the mainstream media, treat things like this? Partially it has to do with a sort of backlash against liberals that started when Macomb county, where the northern working class suburbs are, went Reagan Democrat in the '80s. Partially it has to do with, and the Reagan Democrat phenomenon is a misinterpretation of, the radical history of Detroit, where there's an ethos of "You call that radicalism? We'll show you radicalism!". True enough; the labor battles in Detroit where some of the most pitched that the country has ever seen, but to channel that into a general anti-liberalism is misguided to say the least.

Hell, I even saw Reagan speak as a kid, also George H.W. Bush, at a highschool in Sterling Heights, where they'd stopped in order to rally union workers to their cause, a very cynical move based on the idea that if workers could shift the blame of where the economy was going onto the Japanese that maybe they wouldn't notice that Reagan himself was fucking them over with his rabid pro-business policies.

Sterling Heights was a very intentional location for them; it was long nicknamed "Sterling Whites" because of it's racial composition. Home to many members of the white working class white flight that happened after the riots. Having a rally there, in semi-racist whitelandia, was surely intentional.

But liberalism in Detroit in general? There's a basic sense of liberalism throughout the Detroit area, but it's more moderate and based on pro-Democratic Party sentiment than anything else. Oakland County, which is much richer than Macomb and is where all the white collar people live, does have some real liberal enclaves and even smidgens of radicalism here and there, but for the most part isn't flamingly liberal. It does have, however, some of the small suburbs which are very visibly gay friendly in the Detroit area: Royal Oak, Ferndale, and Berkeley. That's not chicken feed.

Anyways, where all this is going is that Detroit is sadly anti-liberal for the most part in many of its areas but hopefully some of the progressive culture that's coming to be on the internet and elsewhere is coming through, or trying to at least. I hear the Green Party in Ferndale is getting pretty established.

Oh, and don't even mention Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor has never been part of the Detroit area and probably never will be, unless it's totally swallowed up by sprawl. Ann Arbor might as well be a foreign country for a hell of a lot of people that live in Detroit.

Hell freezes over

It appears that the Democrats, now in power in Congress, are actually doing something. John Conyers has been given the authorization to issue subpoenas against White House officials. This is in relation to the attorney firings. Karl Rove will be one of the people subpoened. The Senate also voted overwhelmingly to stop Bush from being able to appoint U.S. Attorneys without Congressional approval.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

For the tree of life: Music blogging Tuesday

is growing where the spiirritiitr neevver diies....



From Nick Cave and thee Bad Seeds.

More Mitt Romney stuff.

Now he's pissed off the Cuban exile community. Sort of more proof to the thesis that in reality AIPAC is more like the Cuban-American Foundation than anything else. Just like with Cuba, the United States would have an interest in Israel without the lobbying but the continual donations and political pressure generated by both groups causes the U.S. to have an even harder line stance on Cuba and Israel, in relation to the Palestinians, than it otherwise would have had.

Anyways, Romney, was criticized by the ADL because he announced his campaign at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn. I can tell from personal experienc that the place is a Detroit landmark and an integral part of Detroit culture, and has zero connections with anti-semitism. It turns out that Romney is from Michigan and so knows this.

Now he's being criticized by the Cuban exiles in Miami because he used the phrase "Patria o Muerte, Venceremos" at a rally. This translates roughly into "Our country or death, we will conquer" or "overcome". It was used by Fidel Castro and so must be bad, and the exiles in Miami who he was speaking in front of didn't like it. Oh well.

Jesus Christ, look at the Elian Gonzalez case if you want to see how psychotic these people are. As for Israel, one day they're going to establish a new branch of logic based on the contortions that pro-Israeli politicians and writers use to justify the idea that Israel can break whatever human rights it wants to and yet still be called the victim.

'Nothing is wrong the economy'--my wonderful experience in mainstream economics

Took a microeconomics class at a local college because it would assist me in achieving that all american cop-out, the graduate program, and wow, what a world, what a world.

Unions--bad.

Inequality--not a problem. In fact some of the people who made $12,000 ten years ago are making $100,00 now, and some of the people who made $100,000 dollars ten years ago are making $12,000 now. Who would have thought?

Free trade- Of course good! In fact, free trade only decimates particular industries--and jobs are replaced as often as they're destroyed. No matter that when you add up what particular industries are decimated it starts to look more and more like the entire U.S. industrial economy, or that the decimation of those industries is leaving millions of people--both the people whose jobs are gone and the people whose job depended on the money those jobs brought into the community---up the creek. Besides, it's the unions that caused those jobs to go away, those unions with those high wages strangling the business, not foreign competition for pennies on the dollar in wages.

Regulation---Pollution permits!

What else....much else, but that's just a list off the top of my head.

In other words, even though the federal reserve chairman himself, Ben Bernanke, has said that inequality in the United States is a significant problem don't you worry. It's not.

Everything is going swimmingly. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, or the gorilla in the middle of the room.

Monday, March 19, 2007

An update on the "Jewish leaders wary of Obama" post.

Most of you people who read this probably know what the deal is with Palestine and the Palestinians. Therefore, I'll let this excerpt speak for itself in terms of its accuracy and the sort of connection to reality it demonstrates. Full story available via title link.

""His attack on cynicism, and another line about the 'cycle of violence' struck hard-line supporters of Israel as suggesting that the Israeli and Palestinian sides are equally to blame – something Obama himself has rejected in other, prepared remarks," writes Politico columnist Ben Smith. "Phrases like 'cycle of violence' and – worse still – pledges to be 'even-handed' are freighted with meaning in that context, and a second-hand report in January from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in January that Obama had once pledged to be 'even-handed' suggested to some Jewish critics that he was taking the Palestinian side."

Monday night pet blogging.

I'm going to continue the tradition of pet blogging. Unfortunately, I have no 'traditional' pets, as you call them. Therefore I'm posting a picture of my most personal friend inside my house, who is alive:

Ok, that was an oversight.

Michael Albert's book is published by Seven Stories press, not South End Press, although I didn't realize that he hadn't worked there in 20 years. What's the relationship between the Z collective and South End Press?

Even if South End Press isn't involved there's still the issue of Z Net. It wouldn't bother me so much if the only model talked about wasn't ParEcon and the only dialogues that seemed to be going on were between Albert and advocates of other economic models and political philosophies.

Jewish leaders 'Wary' on Obama.

Because he made some tepid comments that didn't portray Palestinians as animals. I've been trying to think of what the Israel lobby in the U.S. is like, what it resembles. One of the parallels I've come to is the Iraqi National Congress, i.e. the group of Iraqi exiles who have never actually lived in Iraq but have been nourished on hardline political rhetoric. Or maybe the similar organization for Iranians. Maybe a better parallel is the Cuban exile community in Miami, most of whom have never set foot in Cuba but have been nourished on an absolute hatred for Castro.

The difference is that Jews can visit Israel. But visiting isn't like actually living there full time. Or they can give 'experience Israel' tours to their kids, with indoctrination as a goal. The Palestinians are cast into the same mold as Castro for the Miami Cubans for Jews living abroad.

People from exile organizations always act in ways that are disconnected from the normal reality of their countries. The Israel lobby is no different.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Ah, Michael Albert of ZNET has written a book....about himself

This is why I don't read Z-Net all that much. Some people have said that South End Press and Z-Net, and Z Magazine, can't be one person's bully pulpit because they're run with some sort of collective decisionmaking in place, but the only place I've seen people other than Albert post extensive articles, article after article, on their personal philosphy, combined with debates between, not various members of the collective but between Albert himself and basically anyone who doesn't agree with ParEcon, his own pet alternate economic system, is on personal blogs.

It's ok if you want to do this, but it's sort of a shame that Albert is, and has for a long time, used the popularity of Z Magazine and Z-Net to give his own personal views more exposure than they otherwise would have had.

Now he's progressed to the ultimate vanity act: The Memoir. Specifically, the memoir by an obscure sixties activist who markets himself on the back of the popularity of a magazine he's involved with.

A few years ago he came closer to this goal with "Trajectory of Change", his exhortation to the anti-globalization movement about how to procede.

No doubt Albert's book, Remembering Tomorrow, with charming section titles like "Dachau on the Charles", a reference to MIT, will take its rightful place next to other vanity books like "From Ike to Mao...and Beyond", by Bob Avakian.

What if the Iraq War ended tomorrow?

It's an interesting hypothetical: what would many of the anti-war bloggers do if they suddenly got their wish and the Iraq war ended tomorrow with a peaceful settlement that would ensure a smooth transition of power to the people of Iraq and stop the civil war that's been happening? Would they continue to press on with progressive politics or would they basically go back into the fold of the mainstream, or left of centrist but still mainstream, Democratic party?

What if Bush were impeached tomorrow and the Iraq war ended, in fact the whole administration was gone, leaving a Democrat in control of the White House? Would another strata of blogger just go home, thinking "Mission Accomplished", or would they stay in the fight to make America a fairer and more democratic place?

These are important questions. There are in fact a lot of progressive bloggers, who have attained prominence, who would probably continue to fight for social change even if this sort of thing happened, but judging from the comments from the readership of sites that mix up progressive and more mainstream commentary, like Talking Points Memo Cafe, which is in fact a good resource for progressive think tank type articles, there are plenty of folks that participate in this where the idea of greater social change just flies over their head.

The question of just how progressive is the progressive blogosphere is something that Max Sawicky of MaxSpeak has touched on a few times. One of the most recent times he brough it up on his site he received comments saying that marking divisions in the progressive blogosphere was pointless and one that suggested that he was engaging in behavior reminiscent of certain Trotskyist parties who recorded in detail the many splits that had occured in their history and exactly why this particular group split off.

I don't think it's that hard to ferret out whether someone anti-War is just a (mostly) mainstream democrat otherwise, or if someone who's vehemently anti-Bush objects to things like "No Child Left Behind", which is more of a real progressive objection, or if their anti-Bush stance just includes things like the war and the PATRIOT-ACT.

Unless Bush brings us to war with Iran, thereby triggering a global political crisis that might metastasize into a very long, extended, multi-state conflict, eventually these people are going to be out of office, although their legacy will be felt long after their gone. The question is: when that day comes, what exactly will the progressive blogosphere do: will it turn its attention to other social problems or will it just fold itself in, and go home, possibly exerting a long term influence in keeping slightly left of center democrats in office?

Field guide to the new political terminology

Since 9/11 things have changed in relation to who's who in the political world to the loosely defined left. "Progressive" can now mean just about anything. In the interest of cleaning the terminology up I'm going to propose a spectrum of terms that reflect how far to the left the people who belong to them actually are.

First up are Socialists and Anarchists. Socialists and Anarchists still basically stand for Socialism and Anarchism. The terms Socialist and Anarchist haven't been co-opted by people who aren't really either, although the process of watering down the term Anarchism was underway before 9/11, most prominently at the World Social Forum of 2002 where some idiot from Italy high on Critical Theory declared that everyone who was at the WSF was an anarchist and a member of the new "anarchist international". But that's sort of stopped since Anti-Globalization has been eclipsed by Anti-war.

More problematic is the term "Progressive". This is where the shifting of terminology has really gone overboard. Now, someone who's a self described "Progressive" can be someone who supports the Democratic Party %100 and just wants Bush out. I think Progressive really refers to people who identify with the Molly Ivins, Jim Hightower, Green party, Ralph Nader, axis of things. People who want progressive reform in the shape of less inequality, more democracy, more environmental protection, more unions, universal health care. Things that are social problems that are independent of 9/11 and Bush. Notice that most of these terms fit in the term before, so that many of the things Progressives believe in Socialists and Anarchists believe in too, albeit with the anti-State proviso of Anarchism making a difference.

Further to the right you have Anti-Bush people. They've been against Bush since the fraudulent election of 2000, have seen how he's been eviscerating the country with right wing, pro-corporate reform, pro-Christian Right stances like the "Office of Faith Based Initiatives" and don't like it.

Then there's the post 9/11 Anti-Bush people, who focus more on what Bush has done since 9/11 and are less concerned with the general thrust of his policies before 9/11 and may or may not have cared about the 2000 election.

Further still to the right are people who are generically Anti-War. What these people believe beyond opposing the war is up for grabs. Andrew Sullivan, a conservative author famous for arguing that gays can have a legitimate place in a conservative party, has come out against the Iraq war. Republicans in Congress have come out against it. Retired generals have come out against it. A dividing line, possibly, between 9/11 Anti-Bushists and anti-war people is which war they oppose. Many generic anti-war people support the invasion of Afghanistan. Many 9/11 Anti-Bush people did as well, but don't mention it because they don't want to admit that they got caught up in the general climate of bloodlust that came after 9/11.

That's basically what I see the continuum as being. After that come more and more levels of mediocracy.

Anti-war people believe in Anti-War, post 9/11 anti-Bush people believe what the antiwar people believe but also oppose Bush's post 9/11 policies, regular anti-Bush people oppose the war, oppose what Bush has done post 9/11 but also object to his usurptation of democracy and to the right wing policies that he was putting into action pre-9/11. Progressives believe in all of the above but also believe in the need for progressive legislation and grass roots action for social reform in order to stop things like growing inequality, lack of democracy, free trade, environmental destruction, an inexcusable health care system, and other general social ills. They're pro-Union. Socialists and Anarchists believe in the same things as all the previous, but with the proviso with Anarchists that they're anti-Statists and so wouldn't agree with some of the progressive proposals, plus, they're Anarchists and part of the Anarchist tradition; Socialists believe in all of the above as well but aren't quite as anti-Statist as the Anarchists, although in actuality the spectrum of Socialist thought goes from hyper-Statist, at least when they're in power, to pretty skeptical of State power, as many of the left-wing non-Stalinist socialists are.

Added Nathan Newman's blog

To my blog roll. Possibly one of the first blogs to link to me, he did so in the original incarnation of this site as "Thoughts from the Left".

He blogs on labor and progressive politics and general progressive politics, where progressive means not only anti-Bush but pro things like affordable housing, preserving social security, getting a better minimum wage bill passed, i.e. the things that 'progressive' actually means, or meant, before simplistic bloggers whose only advocacy is being anti-Bush hijacked the concept.

Overblown rhetoric will become reality

One of the big criticisms of the progressive blogosphere is that people are prone to using rhetoric derived from other historical periods to describe what's happening now. This is sort of an over correction. It started as trying to find historical parallels, like this website does, in order to understand what's happening now after 9/11, but at some point devolved into cheap parallel making for dramatic effect. This blog, usually in the past, participated in this. But enough of the ass covering, onto the analysis.

The way that the implications of 9/11 have been framed by conservatives has often involved invocations of World War II, like people are getting off by having their fantasies of participating in that conflict realized in part by the GWOT, the Global War On Terror. It's sort of a macabre fantasy. People in Iraq are being slaughtered, the invasion and the attempts to combat the resistence to the occupation have been bloody, now the civil war is claiming more lives. People tortured, conservatives and their new turncoat liberal allies justifying the torture through a self aggrandizing and false claim that it's a serious moral decision but that it's a justifiable sacrifice. At times it seems like the conservatives have no concept whatsoever of what's actually going on, the significance of families losing loved ones.

If the spectacle of war has been replaced by a self serving fantasy for many conservatives, a more benign form of fantasy has come over parts of the progressive blogosphere. Interestingly enough, the real left has been resistent to this, but at the same time has suffered because of lack of willingness to innovate in analysis. But enough of that. In the progressive blogosphere often the rhetoric comes from the early days of the Nazi regime or sometimes from Stalinism. Things are 'purges', 'putches' occur, people identify with the resistence to the fascists and cast the Bush regime in the starring role.

Fantasies like this are more benign because the people doing them recognize what's happening in Iraq and because the Bush administration is actually doing really bad, scary things. And because the rhetoric from non-government affiliated right wingers is escalating and escalating. So there's a basis to be afraid, but that doesn't change that how the fear is expressed is often in terms that, if taken literally, would be really, really, overblown and would verge on the fantastic.

In a way I understand, because I have been a practitioner of it, where these people are coming from, but I think that expressing things in these terms also contributes to a kind of defeatism, where what's happening is so ominous that there's nothing left to do but cower behind keyboards and wait it out. If you look at what's happening without creating a counter fantasy of beseiged partisans you can combat what's happening more effectively. If you embrace a defeatist stance you lose some of the edge that you could have in fighting the administration.

Either way, what's happening seems to be ominous. It feels like a trial run for something bigger. Overblown or not the rhetoric and the fantasy probably tend to be in the right direction, with centrists who say that nothing's wrong being the real losers in this fight between left and right, but somehow I feel that if things really devolve into situations where there are putches and purges, where people are even forced to become real partisans, not just fake partisans, that they'll wish the days when all of this was rhetoric would come back.

Friday, March 16, 2007

"Why the Grouse about the RED campaign?"

An article of the same name ran in the Huffingtonpost a few days ago. RED, if you haven't heard, is a scheme whereby major retailers design special product lines that are either red or have some sort of red related thing on them and donate the profits to the Global Fund. It's Red, or RED, because red is the color of the AIDS ribbon. RED is supposed to supply funding to fight AIDS.

In the article in question the author makes, among his many assertions, two claims: 1) that a continual supply of money will be a better way to fund AIDS support than other types of giving and 2) that RED is already really successful since it's raised $25 million dollars.

Advertising Age put the figure at $10 Million, but lets be charitable and say that the $25 Million dollar amount is correct. The author also states that RED has only been operational for five months, which is strange because I remember it being announced over a year ago. Maybe it was announced then but only put into operation later. So, ok, RED has been in place for five months and has generated $25 million dollars.

$25 million dollars sounds like a lot and no doubt makes some difference, but the Global Fund's total yearly disbursements, the amount of money they give a year, is $6 Billion dollars, making RED's contribution to that less than one half of one percent. If anything, the number of disbursements shows that the idea that other types of giving aren't sustainable is not true in the least.

But that's a yearly figure and RED has only supposedly been operational for five months. Dividing five months into $25 Million gives us $5 million a month, so over the course of twelve months, if sales continue at the same pace, RED will generate $60 Million dollars, or one percent of the Global Fund's yearly disbursement.

But in all likelihood that money won't go directly into disbursements, and not because of some sort of bureaucratic thing; the Global Fund Against Aids, Malaria, and Tuberculosis, is a straight up charity that doesn't funnel money away. The reason is that this, unless I haven't read the fine print somewhere about how RED operates, money will probably be invested or added to some sort of interest baring arrangement in order to sustainably generate money for the fund.
This isn't some sort of failing, it's just a safe way to ensure that the money you get at the moment isn't used up all at once, thereby leaving you high and dry the next year.

Total commitments to the Fund are $10 Billion.

Let's say, though that every penny that RED gives is immediately given to AIDS projects. It will no doubt help; looking through the Aids programs is looks like $60 million will fund about four new projects, on top of the 188 large, small, and medium programs that are out there.

Point is, the influence of RED, while present, is being grossly exagerrated as a force to sustainably fight AIDs. But there's another problem.

I think that RED is pretty much just a marketing ploy. It' the latest thing that will catch on for a little while then will fade when interest in this socially responsable buying wanes, when RED isn't as cool or hip as it used to be. What will remain after that is the positive image given to the corporations that participated in RED, potentially bolstering their sales, and the other donors to the Global Fund, who will no doubt keep funding it in ways which beat RED by 99 to 1.

Ah, those were the days.

A random search got me to a Bulgarian website. I'll explain later. A friend of mine used to have this program that he bought from a Bulgarian software company through the Internet that let him efficiently and ruthlessly download software and music and video from anywhere on the net. It's sole purpose was to coordinate many downloads at the same time so that you didn't have to keep windows open or anything. Plus, it would try to download using two or more slots if possible AND it was able to stop downloads and then start them up again without any interruption. It was a miracle program for low priced music and software enthusiasts. My friend bought it off the internet no problem; the Bulgarian company was honest and didn't do anything with his credit card. Just sold him a kick ass program for pirating all sorts of content.

Well, those wistful days of 1998 are no more, I guess. I found the same Bulgarian software company that my friend bought the software from and now it only sells a pop-up blocker. Oh well, I guess that's what Bit Torrent software is for now.

By the way, I had Bulgaria on my mind because I'd looked it up on Wiki and the page looked like it'd been worked over pretty well by the Bulgarian Tourist Board. It was streamlined in content so perfectly that it didn't look like a Wiki entry but instead like a brochure. Look it up your self, you can do it. Then for comparison I went to Belarus' Wiki page. Not so good.

Well, then there are the poor ex-Soviet administrative districts, or independent Republics, that try to sell themselves on Wikipedia.

But I'm tired and am going to go to bed.

College drug use, binge brinking, rise

I've seen this up close and personal in the form of a certain institution here I'll just call the "Leather Grain state college". All I can say is that this process will probably move inexorably to the natural resolution, a complete destruction of social norms on these campuses, and not in a good way either. What I mean by that is the transformation of more and more people into drinking, smoking, automatons who don't do it intelligently, who aren't exploring shit, but are just stupid fucks who have no comprehension of anything but "Let's get high!" or "Party!". The taking over of campuses by the John Belushi character in Animal House.

Anyways, that's that, but one paragraph in the article linked to above really caught my attention:

"However, the percentage of students who reported binge drinking three or more times during the previous two weeks increased from 19.7% in 1993 to 22.8% in 2001, the study found. In 2005, 83% of campus arrests involved alcohol, the study found."

Where they define binge drinking as having five or more drinks for guys and four or more drinks for women.

Five drinks is a lot, no matter how you divide it up. I'm thinking in terms of the Gin and Tonic scale...Ok, I could go into a bar and order one gin and tonic, drink it pretty fast, then order another one, and drink that one slower. Then hang out for a while so that it might be like forty five minutes, maybe thirty, then order another one. Drink it. But that would usually do it for me at a bar.

Anything beyond that would be self-conscious drinking intentionally to get fucked up.

What I wonder is how these students are able to do it three times in two weeks.

Usually when I go on a real drinking spree it takes me days to really feel normal again, and usually after that I don't want to go out drinking like that the next weekend.

So these kids must have done it once each weekend and then once sometime in either the week between the weekends or the week after the second weekend. How can they think?

Or is that what's wrong.

Couldn't have said it better: "the eXile" on women and Afghanistan.

And about how the war on Afghanistan was supposedly about women's rights, as much as it was about anything that Bush thought of that week to bolster potential support for it.

***

"But wait -- we don't have to wait. The propaganda war to save Iranian women actually kicked into gear one year ago this week, during George and Laura Bush's official celebration of International Women's Day.

"We must remember," said the U.S. president, "that many women in other countries around the world are still struggling for basic rights in places like Iran." Rounding out Bush's Axis of Estrogen-Suppression were plucky police states North Korea and Burma, but the Islamic Republic very pointedly came first. Bush might as well have handed out copies of Azar Nafisi's best-selling mullah-slamming Reading Lolita in Tehran, then called it a day.

Posing as the world's White Knight coming to the aid of damsels in distress across the globe may seem strange when you consider that this is the same administration that has been working to roll back the clock on reproductive rights and sexual health policy at home and around the world. It's even stranger when you consider it is best friends with leading wife-beater nation Saudi Arabia. In the Kingdom, women who appear in public without a male escort are breaking the law; if they do so dressed in non-Sharia clothes, they risk arrest and a good stomping by the religious police. Gender discrimination is state policy and strictly enforced.

So why is the Bush administration selectively posing as enlightened and chivalric international defender of women?

Because it's good for war. It helped rally the public behind the Afghanistan campaign; then it briefly helped shore up support for the occupation of Iraq. A year before the march on Baghdad Colin Powell proclaimed, "[T]he worldwide advancement of women's issues is not only in keeping with the deeply held values of the American people; it is strongly in our national interest as well." Blair and his cabinet were naturals at framing the rights of Muslim women as a national security and civilizational priority. UK Trade secretary Patricia Hewitt, of Blair's cabinet, said before the Iraq invasion, "This [war] is about building a new civil society in Iraq after 35 years when we know women were suppressed, and ensuring women have a voice in Iraq.""

***

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Lowered price on book from site drastically

As some of you may know I sell reprints from this site. The major one is a 720 page oversized book that contains all the posts, plus the former FAQ, from the beginning up to summer of 2004.

Previously, this book cost over $27.00, not including shipping. It was priced like this because at the time I had it offered by Amazon.com, who took a cut, along with the on-demand publisher, and combined they couldn't let me price it cheaper. As it turns out, the package that the publisher sold me, which ensured that it would be 'available' on Amazon.com, was sort of a rip off, but that's another story*. Anyways, the program has been discontinued and now the book is being offered only straight from Lulu.com. So I've decided to lower the amount of money I get from a single book to a symbolic $1.00. Because of this change the book now costs $20.22, plus shipping and handling.

It's actually a good deal. I've written here before that I really wouldn't buy a $27.00 book unless it was really, really, something I needed or wanted, but a $20.22 book...maybe. Maybe.

Anyways, check it out.



*But another story that is interesting. I paid for it to be put on Amazon and get an ISBN, but it was listed as a "Used Book" only available through "Lulu.com" and didn't have such niceties as listing the author's name, or having a cover photo, or identifying the publisher, or being listed in any categories. Basically, if you didn't know EXACTLY what you were searching for there was no way in hell you'd ever find my book, offered on the vaunted "Amazon.com" website.

"Gross Generation", about mainstream liberal expats after the Bush re-election, from "The eXile"

Funny and probably true, with some good lessons for you, Narodnik.

"The American liberal left-leaning intellectual expat you meet in Paris these days has a chip on his shoulder. He's been made a complete ass of, dragged and drowned in the mud even as he was trying to look virtuous and dignified and worthy of the trust of the whole nation. Incidentally, the most powerful nation in the world. The American liberal expat in France keeps reminding ya he knows better because he comes from the belly of the beast."

"But what'll drive the expat up the wall, is that you don't give a damn for the sob story. Because the American liberal expat puts a high price on suffering, never having suffered himself until recently, when his pride was hurt by the victorious neocons. The American liberal expat doesn't understand that it feels better to kick a concerned butt than an indifferent one, as opposed to his opponents who relished the opportunity - you begin to see why."

Although the rest of the story is entertaining, and much longer, than these two excerpts, especially as it skewers a particular type of upper middle class young liberal, I think this gets the gist of it.

Point is, people in other countries have gotten their asses kicked many a time. I think that both the people who had a mental breakdown over 9/11 and those who feel that Bush's America is the worst thing that could happen have a common problem in that they really don't realize that fate can be extremely cruel and that you shouldn't mistake the end of the play for what could just be the beginning act. People have been terrorized much more than on the one occasion of 9/11 and the United States could get much, much worse than Bush's America right now.

In a way, it's the utmost of pissing and whining, the utmost of entitlement that people on the right have had this sort of mental breakdown over 9/11.

Ah, comments about "The Clash"

Personally, I like people commenting on the Clash post and complaining. It's the sort of thing I wake up in the morning for. Anyways, my position on it is roughly the same as Genesis P-Orridge's, as enunciated in this passage from an interview:

"....We were doing that, and then the punk thing was happening. We knew a lot of those people personally. And it's in a few magazines where they would do that famous quote, "Learn three chords - form a band." And I would always answer, "Why learn three chords?" See - to me, learning three chords and then forming a band, that whole sentence actually says, we really want to be able to play, and we want to be in a band. And the word "band" immediately means music business and promotion and image and everything else and it means wanting to succeed and have a career - to me. And I think it did subconsciously to them and that's why you ended up with The Clash doing drivel, The Sex Pistols in clothing and so on. The bottom line was, it was just rock'n'roll - they all just wanted to be rock'n'roll bands. Fair enough - but it didn't change me, it didn't change anything radical. Maybe nothing ever does. But it didn't even seem like a truly sincere attempt. And that's speaking from the inside. That's not to say that there weren't some really credible, interesting people."

Actually, not all Marxist-Leninists are bad...

I was exagerrating. Personally, on the Trotskyist side of things I like "Left Turn" and "Solidarity". On the Communist side of things the "League of Revolutionaries for a New America" and "Freedom Road Socialist Organization" are good. The Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, which was a pro-reform breakoff group from the CPUSA was good....until most of their members rejoined the CPUSA, making the CCDS much less of an independent group, unfortunately.

Most of the Communist organizations that I'm partial to ideologically are only found in Europe; what differentiates their policies from other groups would not be immediately apparant to people not familiar with the millieux.

Straight out of Grozny!

More fun from "the eXile". I have to say that the eXile is infintely more entertaining and probably more accurate a depiction of Russia than some sort of writings from almost 90 years ago. You know what I mean. Maybe I'll alienate some people, I don't know, but there's no reason whatsoever to conform to Trotskyist conservatism, i.e. thinking within the bounds of that sort of tradition, which ends up being just another conservative doctrine that never changes. We need new ideas. We need new ideas. We need new ideas. I'm going to repeat that infinitum. And the Marxists need to stop criticizing Anarchists but learn from them. No pure Marxism, instead, political eclecticism.

So here's "Straight out of Grozny". Gangster Rap fans will be entertained, most other people will be pissed off.

Wow, this is fun

I got my first hit from Romania today...and they were searching for midget porn. I used the example of midget porn somewhat sarcastically in an article on pornography, well now that I remember not so sarcastically, actually, suggesting that people who like midget porn are pedophiles.

And so a person in Bucharest searching for the wild world of midget pornography found my site.

Wow, this is fun

I got my first hit from Romania today...and they were searching for midget porn. I used the example of midget porn somewhat sarcastically in an article on pornography, well now that I remember not so sarcastically, actually, suggesting that people who like midget porn are pedophiles.

And so a person in Bucharest searching for the wild world of midget pornography found my site.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Not to be a broken record but...

While it's important to be concerned that Bush fired some prosecutors for political reasons, I think it's more than a little ironic that this, rather than writing a memo justifying torture or overseeing PATRIOT-ACT abuses, is what everyone is calling Gonzales to resign for.

Seriously, the media, particularly the more mainstream section of the progressive media, i.e. places like the Huffington Post, are relentlessly going at it, as are the mainstream Democratic politicians in Washington.

It needs an explanation. Maybe the people who run the Huffington Post, from Huffington's Beverly Hills mansion on down, identify more with lawyers than they do with potential victims of the PATRIOT-ACT, and feel extra outraged. Certainly Hillary Clinton, who met Bill at Yale law school, might be feeling the sting of having the brotherhood and sisterhood of lawyers tarnished by this terrible act.

It's important, but why the fuck don't you want him removed for pushing for torture at Guantanamo? Why don't you push for having him removed for approving of beatings and psychological torture?

But the 'enemy combatants' aren't elite enough to matter. Plus, they're unpopular. And self interest always is.

RED Campaign: Viva Il Corporatismo!

"But quoted complaints about the RED campaign don't depend at all on which way the RED numbers go. For example, a Cincinnati professor is quoted as worrying that "business is taking on the patina of philanthropy and crowding out philanthropic activity." At the same time he objects that RED "benefits the for-profit partners much more than the charitable causes." I was trying to understand his problem and then it came to me: These guys just don't like corporations poaching on nonprofit turf.

Well now, isn't this a bird of a different feather? Some activists see corporate money muscling in on the world of charitable causes. What's their beef, as it were?"

From an article by John Tepper Marlin, link in the title above.

Well, let me start: Target profiting off of clothes were a penny goes to AIDS projects; the GAP using a couple cents from clothes made in Asia to give to AIDS causes.

I don't believe in corporate responsability in the sense of coalitions of corporations, including those that are in many ways very irresponsable in where they get their products from and how they treat their workeres, financing charitable work.

Corporations should be taxed and the money gotten from the tax redistributed to projects to help people in the third world.

While the RED campaign may help people in the immediate, much more help could be accomplished by this sort of taxation and spending as well as non-profit work, which is not directly tied to corporations in quite the same way as this, although there are serious issues in it as well.

In the long term, having corporations take care of social causes does in fact cause an extension of corporate power in regular life. This is not new.

You've got to dance with them that brung you and if we rely on corporations to solve our social problems they'll eventually own us.

***On edit. Unlike the claims made by the Independent and the article cited above, RED is a marketing campaign. And RED is a marketing gimmick. People aren't going to buy full lines of RED products to wear all the time and use all the time. What's more likely is they'll buy one product and then remember the brand as being socially responsable, therefore increasing the likelihood that they'll buy from them in the future. RED purchases are token purchases; it's not like Apple is saying "I'll donate some profits from every iPod manufactured", instead, it's saying "I'll only donate profits from ugly red iPods that happen to sell, for the small market that's willing to buy a RED iPod for several hundred dollars instead of one that looks better".

It's like a souvenier shirt.

Eventually, RED will fade from view, the money will go down to next to nothing, and the brands will have established some priceless "Street Cred" with whoever their...street...happens to be, like Giorgio Armani buyers, as being socially responsable and being Good Businesses, which they hope will last for a long long time and distinguish them from competitors in that market.

And they will have established a flawed model of corporate giving where the giving isn't a no strings attached thing, or at least no overt strings attached thing, but is instead directly tied to corporations making profit....and then using that profit directly to help people in need, which is corporatist.

But who could object to helping AIDS patients? That's what the PR hypes on time and again. Well, not me, but if you're looking for a way to sustainably help AIDS patients in Africa or elsewhere you need to look to something other than RED to do it, just like you shouldn't look to Bob Geldof and his Africa-as-victim Live 8 concert to really change policy regarding debt in poor countries.

By the way, I'm glad RED has generated $25 million, but it should be noted that the Global Fund, that RED is feeding into, has a yearly budget of $6 Billion dollars and has a current commitment level, meaning people and foundations that have pledged to give, of $10 Billion dollars.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Book Report: "The Coming of the Third Reich" by Richard J. Evans

Which I'm in the beginning stages, although not in the beginning, of.

On top of answering the basic question "Why?", which isn't sufficiently answered by saying "The German people are bad", there are other considerations.

But first let me run down some things.

Did the Germans allow Jews to be deported, to their deaths? Yes.
Did Germans acquiesce to Hitler? Yes. There wasn't a German resistence movement.
Did Germans stand by while the Nuremburg laws were passed and enforced? Yes.
Was anti-semitism present in Germany before the Nazis, in some form or another going back to the middle ages, although not necessarily a racially conceived idea of anti-semitism? Yes.

But none of this explains the rise of Hitler or that of the Nazi party.
What they do explain pretty well is the war and the society as seen up close by the American troops in Europe during World War II. My feeling is that the basic knowledge of the period by Americans comes from the war years. There doesn't seem to be any awareness that there was a historical process that lead to the Nazis coming to power. What's more, sometimes suggesting that there was one is considered tantamount to anti-semitism. Which is absurd.

"The Coming of the Third Reich" helps to understand the currents that coalesced into Nazism through tracing their origins back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Incidentally, and perhaps the most significant for us, is a theme that he repeats over and over again: there were many extremist, reactionary, racist, currents in Germany in the early years of the 20th century, but they were comparatively small although their influence was growing so that they somewhat began to effect the mainstream. What changed all that, what accounted for the spectacular growth of these ideas, along with a general radicalization and division of German society on both the right and the left was the experience of the First World War.

That's a lesson to remember, something that's not trivial or rhetorical.

Monday, March 12, 2007

"60 Years of Faulty Logic" by James Carroll

Article on the anniversary of the Truman doctrine, which started the Cold War by identifying a "free world" and an unfree world. The point isn't that there weren't socialist states which were extremely oppressive---when Truman announced his doctrine Stalin was still alive and in power---but rather that anything in between friend and foe was forbidden, including socialist states who didn't want to be dependent on the Soviet Union. Additionally, the Truman doctrine was the start of the CIA, the NSA, the huge growth of military bureaucracy and military power, and arguably the start of the 'Imperial Presidency', where the President, because he was now in charge of World Changing Decisions, had to have extreme power beyond what was previously acceptable. Now onto the article.

"The speech amounted, as one of Truman's advisers characterized it, to a declaration of religious war. In the transcendent struggle between Moscow and Washington, "nonalignment" was not an option. Truman declared that the United States would actively support "free" people anywhere who were resisting either internal or external threats to that freedom. The "free world" was born, but so, eventually, were disastrous wars in Korea and Vietnam."


...

"More than adjustments in tactics and strategy are needed. What must be criticized, and even dismantled, is nothing less than the national security state that Truman inaugurated on this date in 1947. The habits of mind that defined American attitudes during the Cold War still provide consoling and profitable structures of meaning, even as dread of communism has been replaced by fear of terrorism. Thus, Truman's "every nation must choose " became Bush's "You are with us or against us." America's political paranoia still projects its worst fears onto the enemy, paradoxically strengthening its most paranoid elements. The monstrous dynamic feeds itself.

The United States has obviously, and accidentally, been reinforcing the most belligerent elements in Iran and North Korea, but it is also doing so in Russia and China. Last week, for example, alarms went off in Washington with the news that China is increasing its military spending by nearly 18 percent this year, bringing its officially acknowledged military budget to $45 billion. Yet who was raising questions about massive American military sales (including missiles) to Taiwan, whose defense build up stimulates Beijing's? Speaking of budgets, who questions the recently unveiled Pentagon total for 2008 of more than $620 billion? (Under Bill Clinton, the defense budget went from $260 billion to about $300 billion.) Even allowing for Iraq and Afghanistan, how can such an astronomical figure be justified?

When the United States announces plans to station elements of its missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, why are Russian complaints dismissed as evidence of Vladimir Putin's megalomania? On this date in 1999, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic were admitted to NATO, in violation of American assurances to Moscow that NATO would not move east from the unified Germany. Now NATO looks further east still, toward Georgia and Ukraine. And Putin is the paranoid?"

"60 Years of Faulty Logic" by James Carroll

Article on the anniversary of the Truman doctrine, which started the Cold War by identifying a "free world" and an unfree world. The point isn't that there weren't socialist states which were extremely oppressive---when Truman announced his doctrine Stalin was still alive and in power---but rather that anything in between friend and foe was forbidden, including socialist states who didn't want to be dependent on the Soviet Union. Additionally, the Truman doctrine was the start of the CIA, the NSA, the huge growth of military bureaucracy and military power, and arguably the start of the 'Imperial Presidency', where the President, because he was now in charge of World Changing Decisions, had to have extreme power beyond what was previously acceptable. Now onto the article.

"The speech amounted, as one of Truman's advisers characterized it, to a declaration of religious war. In the transcendent struggle between Moscow and Washington, "nonalignment" was not an option. Truman declared that the United States would actively support "free" people anywhere who were resisting either internal or external threats to that freedom. The "free world" was born, but so, eventually, were disastrous wars in Korea and Vietnam."


...

"More than adjustments in tactics and strategy are needed. What must be criticized, and even dismantled, is nothing less than the national security state that Truman inaugurated on this date in 1947. The habits of mind that defined American attitudes during the Cold War still provide consoling and profitable structures of meaning, even as dread of communism has been replaced by fear of terrorism. Thus, Truman's "every nation must choose " became Bush's "You are with us or against us." America's political paranoia still projects its worst fears onto the enemy, paradoxically strengthening its most paranoid elements. The monstrous dynamic feeds itself.

The United States has obviously, and accidentally, been reinforcing the most belligerent elements in Iran and North Korea, but it is also doing so in Russia and China. Last week, for example, alarms went off in Washington with the news that China is increasing its military spending by nearly 18 percent this year, bringing its officially acknowledged military budget to $45 billion. Yet who was raising questions about massive American military sales (including missiles) to Taiwan, whose defense build up stimulates Beijing's? Speaking of budgets, who questions the recently unveiled Pentagon total for 2008 of more than $620 billion? (Under Bill Clinton, the defense budget went from $260 billion to about $300 billion.) Even allowing for Iraq and Afghanistan, how can such an astronomical figure be justified?

When the United States announces plans to station elements of its missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, why are Russian complaints dismissed as evidence of Vladimir Putin's megalomania? On this date in 1999, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic were admitted to NATO, in violation of American assurances to Moscow that NATO would not move east from the unified Germany. Now NATO looks further east still, toward Georgia and Ukraine. And Putin is the paranoid?"

Another reason to pay attention to MaxSpeak

He uses the "E" word: Empire.

From a recent post critiqueing the fact that the Democratic party foreign policy folks are close in position to the Republican party foreign policy folks. Talking about an article in the Washington Post that he links to he makes the following statement:

"What is at issue, as the article suggests, is strategic doctrine. Gore is not Bush, but Gore could have invaded Iraq. Beating the Bushists with superficial, pragmatic, or otherwise flaky arguments merely greases the skids for the new bosses, same as the old bosses. The difficult thing to face is that Madeleine Albright is a butcher.

We don't need a critique of the Bush Administration's execution of the invasion, nor of the neo-cons fantasies about democratization of the Middle East. We need a critique of Empire. We need to think differently."

A compilation of quotes by conservatives advocating killing liberals by Orcinus

Orcinus, Dave Neiwert, is, again, a reporter in the Northwest who has covered the white supremacist movement, the militia movement, and who has researched the Japanese internment. He also believes we're heading for pseudo-fascism,as he refers to it. Strange how the people who actually study the right, like Neiwert don't see anything wrong with referring to where we're headed in terms that include the "f" word. Here's a selection of the quotes:

"Melanie Morgan: "I would have no problem with [New York Times editor Bill Keller] being sent to the gas chamber."

Melanie Morgan: "A great deal of good could be done by arresting Bill Keller having him lined up against the wall and shot."

Lee Rogers: "[T]he day will come when unpleasant things are going to happen to a bunch of stupid liberals and it's going to be very amusing to watch."

"The Political Insight":

Let's start with the following New York Times reporters and editors: Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger Jr. , Bill Keller, Eric Lichtblau, and James Risen. Do you have an idea where they live?

Go hunt them down and do America a favor. Get their photo, street address, where their kids go to school, anything you can dig up, and send it to the link above. This is your chance to be famous -- grab for the golden ring.

RedState contributor "Thomas Crown":

I repeat: Should the entire American Left fall over dead tomorrow, I would rejoice, and order pizza to celebrate. They are not my countrymen; they are animals who happen to walk upright and make noises that approximate speech. They are below human. I look forward to seeing each and every one in Hell.

Ann Coulter:

LINDA VESTER (host): You say you'd rather not talk to liberals at all?

COULTER: I think a baseball bat is the most effective way these days.

Bill O'Reilly

Hey, you know, if you want to ban military recruiting, fine, but I'm not going to give you another nickel of federal money. You know, if I'm the president of the United States, I walk right into Union Square, I set up my little presidential podium, and I say, "Listen, citizens of San Francisco, if you vote against military recruiting, you're not going to get another nickel in federal funds. Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead."

And if Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.

Dean Franks:

I'll make a deal with the Left: You wanna impeach President Bush? Go ahead. Knock yourself out. In fact, let's just go to the polls and turn the whole government over to the Democrats. You wanna run the whole show? Fine. Elect Howard Dean President. End all surveillance against possible enemy combatants, unless you can get a warrant based on probable cause. Withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan immediately. Permanently kill the PATRIOT Act. Do whatever you want to do. I'm perfectly willing, at this point, to do it your way.

I mean, really, what's the worst that can happen? An American city goes up in nuclear fire? Well, it’ll probably be New York, Chicago, or LA. You know, a major city. I don't live there, nor do most Americans. So we'll be fine.

But here's the other half of the deal: If that happens, we get to march on Washington, drag you naked and screaming from your offices, and hang you from the ornate lampposts that line The Mall. Then, free from roadblocks thrown up by infantile political fools, maybe we'll get serious about defending the United States, her people, her freedoms, and her values, in an increasingly hostile world."

AFP:"Khatami urges Iran to compromise on nuclear"

Khatami is Iran's former President, the reformist who made great efforts at slowly changing Iranian society and improving relationships with Europe. He lost the presidential election to Ahmadinejad after the U.S. started its sabre rattling against Iran, thereby derailing the moderate reform going on.

Here's Khatami, in an article otherwise characterized by a very crude anti-Iranian slant:

"Khatami, reformist president from 1997 to 2005, told President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to make concessions over Iran's controversial atomic drive and avoid a second UN Security Council sanctions resolution.

"I believe we should pay a certain price, and pay it bravely, for talks and not head towards crisis as well as guaranteeing our rights in future," Khatami told the economic daily Sanaat va Tose'e (Industry and Development) in an interview.

"We must try to prevent the adoption of another resolution."

.....

Then in amazing display of either sheer idiocy or willfull distortion, the AFP prints this:

"Khatami gave no indication of what the "price" might involve. The United States has repeatedly said negotiations with Iran are only possible if it first suspends sensitive nuclear work, which it has so far steadfastly refused to do."

Hey, dumb fucks, the price he was talking about was ceasing nuclear development. Don't you even read your own work?

DPA: Tehran condemns "anti-iranian" movie 300

I couldn't agree with them more:

"Javad Shamqadri, art advisor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
told Fars news agency that the film was an insult to Persian culture
and in line with the American "psychological war" against Iran."

"Iran's has called foul over what it calls "deviation of history"
but also because the Persians in the film were shown as "ugly and
violent creatures rather than human beings.""

"The film critics further said that after Germans, Japanese,
Russians and Arabs, Iranians seem to become the new "villian" in
Hollywood productions.

A large number of Iranians abroad have already started a worldwide
email campaign to send protest missives to Warner Bros. for having
insulted Persian culture and history."